Ya Gotta Love Diplomacy. . .

James Pinkerton commented on this on HuffPo, but the line that really drove me nuts yesterday was this one:

Transcript for March 26 – Meet the Press, online at MSNBC – MSNBC.com

SEC?Y RICE:  A few violent people can always grab headlines and can always kill innocent people.
MR. RUSSERT: It?s more than a few.
SEC?Y RICE: Well, it?s a few in terms of the population of Iraqis.
MR. RUSSERT: But it could not exist without being enabled by the population.
SEC?Y RICE: Well, the population is less and less enabling. Every day there are reports that Zarqawi and al-Qaeda meet stiff resistance, indeed violent resistance, from Iraqi tribes.

But remember: no insurgency to see here folks! No civil war, either. Just common people meeting Zarqawi with “violent” resistance.

Operation Backpedal

Special Backpedalling Operations ExpertWell, well, well. Looks like “Operation Swarmer” has turned into “Operation Backpedal” this Sunday Morning. The good General George Casey this morning, when asked if “major operations” have ended ~ since it seems obvious enough to have piqued the interests of Tim Russert that they are not ~ Casey replied that the much-balleyhooed current operation was in fact not a major operation.

Well, no shit.

Fortunately for Gen. Casey, Tim Russert follows the “one-question-one-followup” rule (which I assume is what he calls it) to avoid any sticky “reporting” that might occur. As such, Casey just kept saying “It’s happening” and Timmy didn’t bother to follow up to look for exact statements.

Also interesting is that General Casey says that 3/4 of the Iraqi brigades would be ready for combat soon, however to my knowledge, there is only supposed to be one brigade in the first place. Are we to understand that there is ~ not one brigade ~ but three quarters of a brigade ready to fight?

Bush to Reaffirm Preemptive Doctrine

You don’t suppose this is how Bush ran all his companies into the ground, do you?

Bush to Restate Terror Strategy

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

Hmm. . . That’s good decision making.  When something fails utterly and costs the nations a trillion dollars and two thousand and some-odd dead Americans, Bush tries, tries again.

UAE Ports: Vroooomm!!!

Gentlemen!  Fire your engines!!!  The great game of chicken continues. . .

CNN.com – Senator: UAE firm to transfer port operations to U.S. ‘entity’ – Mar 9, 2006

The leaders told the president they would pass measures to block the deal by veto-proof majorities, sources told CNN. Bush had threatened to veto any legislation that stopped the deal.

Here’s the Big NASA News

Not sure where this came from, but I got it in email, so I’m forwarding it to the blog.  We’ve all completely crashed the Florida news station’s web servers that originally posted the first announcement:

NASA’S CASSINI DISCOVERS POTENTIAL LIQUID WATER ON ENCELADUS
Thu Mar 09 2006 11:21:33 ET

**Exclusive**

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.

“We realize that this is a radical conclusion – that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. “However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms.”

High-resolution Cassini images show icy jets and towering plumes ejecting huge quantities of particles at high speed. Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea the particles are produced or blown off the moon’s surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility. The jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.

“We previously knew of at most three places where active volcanism exists: Jupiter’s moon Io, Earth, and possibly Neptune’s moon Triton. Cassini changed all that, making Enceladus the latest member of this very exclusive club, and one of the most exciting places in the solar system,” said John Spencer, Cassini scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder.

-more–2-

“Other moons in the solar system have liquid-water oceans covered by kilometers of icy crust,” said Andrew Ingersoll, imaging team member and atmospheric scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. “What’s different here is that pockets of liquid water may be no more than tens of meters below the surface.”

“As Cassini approached Saturn, we discovered the Saturnian system is filled with oxygen atoms. At the time we had no idea where the oxygen was coming from,” said Candy Hansen, Cassini scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. “Now we know Enceladus is spewing out water molecules, which break down into oxygen and hydrogen.”

Scientists still have many questions. Why is Enceladus so active? Are other sites on Enceladus active? Might this activity have been continuous enough over the moon’s history for life to have had a chance to take hold in the moon’s interior?

In the spring of 2008, scientists will get another chance to look at Enceladus when Cassini flies within 350 kilometers (approximately 220 miles), but much work remains after the spacecraft’s four-year prime mission is over.

“There’s no question, along with the moon Titan, Enceladus should be a very high priority for us. Saturn has given us two exciting worlds to explore,” said Jonathan Lunine, Cassini interdisciplinary scientist, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Mission scientists report these and other Enceladus findings in this week’s issue of Science.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology

Big News from NASA

I guess the biggest question is: if there is life outside of our planet, will the Bush Administration choose to outsource jobs there, or declare preemptive war against them?

Central Florida News 13,

NASA is planning to make a huge announcement today, about possible life in our own solar system.Exact details of what we can expect to hear have not been released. We do know that evidence has been found that could point to life relatively close to the earth.

Official word is expected this afternoon at 2 p.m. We’ll have complete coverage of today’s big news when it is released.

LATE UPDATE: Well, it didn’t take too long for this news to make it’s way around the Internet: it’s completely swamped the ASP Server that runs the above linked webpage.

“Isolationism” My Ass

This Week, Sunday, 03-05-06Another in the continuing series of “X My Ass,” articles. Looks like I’m starting my own trend. But at any rate, it is amazing to me to listen to the idiots on This Week talk about the concern Americans have about foriegn companies controlling our ports and handling 80% of the military contracts in this country and referring to it as “Isolationism.” It’s not hard to tell just exactly who is pushing the tenor of Mainstream Media these days, however trendy it is to deride the “MSM.”

By what Liliputian intellectual standard is concern about foreign investment in national security considered “Protectionism” or “Isolationism?” Such duties as gaurding ports and providing for the military are some of the very most basic tennents of the US Consitution. In fact, they are some of the only things that the government is actually charged with doing in the Consitution. George Will talks about the aggression Americans supposedly have for the world as a means to explain the controversy and also George Bush’s pathetically low approval numbers; it is funny how quickly “Strict Constructionalists” forget when corporate interests outwieght thier supposed dedication.

No, it is not isolationism that causes us to worry.? It is the fact that companies without a stake in the protection of Americans are naturally going to do a poor job at it.? Money is not enough to impart the immediacy of this responsibility.? Companies who previously outsourced jobs are finding out about the limitations of outsourcing rather rapidly, these days.? The topic of outsourcing is itself a complex issue, and I’ll be commenting in more depth on the above-linked article shortly.

For now, it is enough to say that none of us voted for the United Arab Emerates, Great Brittan or Saudi Arabia.? Regrettably, many of us voted for George Bush.? It is his responsibility to manage port security, and our right to disapprove of his actions.

Graham, Schumer and Friedman on Face the Nation


More talk today about the Dubai Du-bate on Face the Nation and other Sunday news programs.  Bob Cesca got one in early at HuffPo about Fran Townsend on the Faux News Network that is certainly worth a read.

But the debate happening on FTN was interesting in that there was almost no disagreement between the Dem and the Republican present, and the only one who seemed OK with the Dubai situation was Tom Friedman.  Friedman’s work in The Earth is Flat is good stuff by and large, but I think he might be a bit nuts on this one.  For some reason, the man is genuinely stuck on the Administration’s absurd notion that racial bias can be the only explaination for resistance to the Dubai Ports World takeover of port logistics in the United States.  As I have pointed out earlier, most of the leadership of DP World is American in the first place.

Chuck Schumer pointed out, quite correctly, that Airport security has long-since been the legal perview of American-owned businesses.  That at least points out the disparity between our Administration’s supposed priority of Homeland Security and thier actions.

I know I keep coming back to this argument, but it seems to me that the conversation is about “foreign” ownership of these duties, not where it should be, which is on “private” ownership.  Yes, there are perfectly legitimate concerns about a Dubai-based company doing our security, but in this global age, it’s not really that much more dangerous than any other company.  What is truly of concern is the very idea that our government chooses to farm out our security whilst crowing about it’s ability to keep us safe.

And indeed, at every opportunity, the Bush Administration keeps telling us that either our military or Corporations can do a better job than the government does.  That’s reassuring on so many levels.  Hmm. .  the military controls security and corporations handle the economy; that sounds familiar. . .

The Saddam Canard

So against my better judgement, I spent some of my Sunday morning watching the news programs.  Some Senator dude from New York State rolled out an interesting variation on the Iraqi Democracy canard: that it was Saddam Hussein whom created the greatest stability problem in the Middle East. 

That is a very different thing than what the Administration has said up until now.  The Administration’s position has always been that an Iraqi democracy would help stabilize the region, which is a much different thing than saying that Saddam *contributed* do the instability already present.

I’m just writing a quick post to point out that this is assinine.  If you wanted to stabilize the region, the best bet would have been ~ and it still continues to be a good choice, not that anyone in the Administration appears to be interested ~ solving the Isreali-Palastinian problem.

1491: On Sociology as Ecology

I’m still wending my way through the first portion of 1491, discussing the coming of Europeans to America. Specifically, I am at the point where he analyzes Pizzaro’s amazing conquest of the Inca civilization. I’m finding myself with more questions than answers about a lot of things I thought I understood about that period of this continent’s history, but I had a thought I thought I’d share with the Internet.

Krauthammer: What a Jackass

The above title pretty-much says it all, but what a load of crap this guy can spin. The Democrats are hypocrites for being against the Dubai deal because being against the Dubai deal is racist. Better yet: what Krauthammer is really saying is that it’s racist to oppose the Dubai deal, and that’s OK for Republicans, but not for Democrats:

Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record running ports in 15 countries, buys P&O, Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. (Republicans are howling too, but they don’t grandstand on the issue of racial profiling.)

Don’t miss the full glory of this statement: because the Republicans have never had enough cultural intonation to be against racial profiling, Democrats are just awful Cadilac Liberals opposing the down-trodden Arab.

And PS: the DP World top brass are almost exclusively American, with the possible exception of the CEO. . . and even he has a University of Arizona, Tucson degree.

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Thank Goodness We Invented Snowboarding. . .

Looking at the roster of Olympic medals won by the US, I am struck by the notion that entitles this post. The majority of gold medals won by the US team were in a sport that we invented in the first place.