Monday, October 31, 2005

Shaving your legs: on the inside.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Authorities in NY on the lookout for a giant pancake, possibly terrorism-related. Threat level is at Maple, but could be raised to Log Cabin at any moment.

Hmmmm. This on the same day Karl Rove escapes indictment and Bush picks a new SCOTUS nominee. Coincidence? I think not.

I question the timing. And the lack of bacon.

Memo to self: Don't commit suicide around Halloween. I'd rather not have my discarded mortal coil being pelted with eggs and toilet paper.

Revenge is sweet(scroll halfway down). So very, very sweet (may take a couple tries to load). Also, a bit salty and fishy-tasting.

Cheese and milk and fish for Spam? Fair trade, I think.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

After reading this infuriatingly inaccurate column by Simon Jenkins, I felt compelled to write him an email:
"Of 113 paid-up battalions, the Americans regard just one as reliable in a firefight,"

I don't know if you're being deliberately mendacious or are merely ignorant of the truth, but either way this is an unconscionable misstatement of fact and I will be demanding your paper issue a retraction and correction.

The number of battalions regarded as "reliable in a firefight" numbers 117, perhaps 80,000 troops, and 37 are operating independently or taking the lead in operations every day. The number you refer to is the number capable of operations totally independent of coalition forces, with no logistical or combat support (such as air support) whatsoever, not the number "reliable in a firefight."

In the hope you are merely ignorant, allow me to educate you with work from a real journalist:

Level Number of Battalions at Level Definition of Level
1 1 Units are completely independent; Units do not require air, armor, artillery, logistical support (supplies).
2 36 (estimate) Units are capable of independent operations, requires some level of logistical or heavy weapons support.
3 about 80 (estimate) Units are capable conducting combat operations alongside Coalition forces.
4 Undefined Units currently in training, not in combat

Kindly be more careful in the future, and avoid libelling our troops' efforts in training Iraqis to defend their democracy.

Not that I think it will help or anything...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

DailyKos' predictable sentiments on the referendum:
Yes the Constitution will win the vote. And then what? Will our troops come home now? Will the Iraqi government be able to govern? What is different now than yesterday?
That's right, the "progressive" position is that voting is irrelevant. Democracy: great for me, but not so much for thee.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

I'm encouraged by the fact pundits are already downplaying the positive effect of a successful referndum.

Brookings Institution analyst Michael O'Hanlon warned not to put too much emphasis on the referendum. "...So we really have to think more strategically and not indulge in the luxury of letting ourselves think one good day equals real progress," O'Hanlon said.

I still think the Dec 15 elections are much more important, as is the military progress between now and then.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I have the honor and pleasure of announcing I'm joining Dean's World as a regular contributor, mostly on Iraq-related issues. My first post is here.

I've enjoyed Dean's blog since I first found it via Instapundit. While I'm a little intimidated by the fact tens of thousands will now read what I write every day, I'm honored to join the fine group of people who post there regularly.

I'll try to keep this blog up as well, but we'll see how busy and how lazy I am.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Via a fellow Chicagoan on Bill Roggio's must-read-every-day site, great news from Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi leaders reached a breakthrough deal on last minute changes in the constitution Tuesday, and at least one Sunni Arab party said it would reverse its rejection of the document and urge its supporters to approve it in next weekend's referendum.
With support of a couple Sunni parties, the constitution could get over 50% support in every province. That would really be something to celebrate (though of course it doesn’t need that to pass).

Another motherlode of irony discovered, possibly enough to fuel mankind's needs for the next 200 years, courtesy this ultrapartisan and tendentious piece by Al Gore.
This was the point made by Jon Stewart, the brilliant host of "The Daily Show," when he visited CNN's "Crossfire": there should be a distinction between news and entertainment.
Yes, because by hosting a show whose whole premise is presenting news as entertainment, Jon Stewart is doing so much to preserve that distinction.

What is it that Daily Show promotors like to brag? 20% or so of young people report the Daily Show is their primary source of news? Does Jon see that as a problem?

Maybe he was joking.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The world's supply of irony seems to be in no danger of running low:
Iraq detainees to get vote -- including Saddam

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Thousands of detainees in Iraqi jails should be able to vote in the constitutional referendum this week -- including former president Saddam Hussein, the country's Electoral Commission said.

Though details on Monday were scant, it raised the unlikely prospect of Saddam and his aides marking "Yes" or "No" to a constitution that specifically bans the "Saddamist Baath party."
I wonder if he'll write in a vote for himself in December?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Possibly Jeff's best political post to date.
Rox Populi wants to know what would it take for the Dems to get your vote in ‘06 and ‘08? My answer, which I left in the comments at RP:

In 2000 I didn’t care who won, though I disliked Gore, who seemed impossibly artificial.

But now, after 5 years of listening to Dems, there is absolutely nothing they can do to win me back short of purging their entire leadership and nuking their base from orbit.

It’s the only way to be sure.

And if I’m going to try to influence one of the two political bases, I’m more interested in moving the bluenose social cons toward the center than I am in trying to force the vehemently anti-progressive “progressive” socialists and totalitarians to ease back on speech restrictions, identity politics appeals, and the desire for a huge, centralized nanny welfare state controlled by bureaucratic elites schooled in anti-capitalist political principles.
This really articulates for me, better than I could, how I’ve felt seeing Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, MoveOn, and Daily Kos take over the Dem Party.

It’s like what I would feel if the GOP made Pat Buchanan their national chair, Ann Coulter a Senator, and was suddenly not only taken seriously but holding regular meetings with Republican leadership.

I’m not sure nukes are enough.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Stop the presses: the UN did something useful! And in Iraq no less.

More of this please, and less trying to take over the Internet.

This is encouraging.
The words and drawings had a wonderful positive effect on the morale of our soldiers and policemen who received them with overwhelming happiness and tears of joy “we’re not going to let them down and these paintings will take their place on the walls in our base” these were the words of one grateful soldier to whom we handed some paintings while his unit was patrolling the streets of Baghdad, the next day we received a call from the officer in command asking for more of these paintings which he described as “a proof on national unity in this confrontation with the powers of evil”.

As I've said before, the "this insurgency sucks, let's try democracy" Sunnis are starting to raise their voices.
Iraq Sunni leader urges Ramadan ceasefire, US talks

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A prominent leader from Iraq's Sunni Arab minority called on Friday for the United States and Iraqi insurgents to cease fire in the holy month of Ramadan as a prelude to direct talks between Americans and the guerrillas.

Saleh al-Mutlak, a secular nationalist who was involved in negotiating a draft constitution, said a coalition of Sunni political groups close to insurgents was ready to promote such a dialogue to end the bloodshed that has ravaged Iraq since 2003.

"The fighting should stop," Mutlak, who represents the National Dialogue movement, told Reuters. "We have fought for two-and-a-half years and the problem is it doesn't work."
"We must find a political solution," he said. A ceasefire during Ramadan, which began this week, "should be a start for direct negotiations between the two sides."

"Everybody is getting tired in Iraq," Mutlak said.

UPDATE: Thanks for the hat tip Jeff!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Memo to the UN: You can have our root servers when you pry them from our cold, dead hands.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus says Iraqis are taking back their country, and offers some specifics on how "levels of readiness" are assigned, what they really mean, and how many battalions are in each level. A must-read if you want to really understand the progress in this regard.

More than 115 Iraqi police and army combat battalions are in the counterinsurgency fight, he said. About 80 of the battalions are fighting alongside U.S. forces, which the general said equates to Level 3 readiness in the four-tier readiness rating system. "Over 36 (battalions) are assessed as being 'in the lead,'" he said. In the lead is the term associated with Level 2 readiness, and means the troops are capable of leading joint patrols, as opposed to merely participating. Level 1 units are labeled as being "fully independent." There is one battalion in this category, Petraeus said.

The general said it is a mistake to fixate on the Level 1 unit. He said Americans should to expand their understanding of the readiness levels and what each unit brings to the fight.

Level 3 units fight alongside coalition forces. These units contribute personnel, language capabilities, maintain guard posts and set up traffic checkpoints even as they learn from their coalition counterparts. A Level 3 battalion works with a U.S. unit in guarding Airport Road in Baghdad, he said.

Of the more than 36 units at Level 2, most have their own areas of operation. Seven Iraqi battalions in Baghdad alone have their own areas of responsibility, the general said, and more than 10 Iraqi battalions operated in and around Tal Afar during the fighting there.

Sixteen Iraqi battalions are operating in eastern Anbar province - a mixture of Level 2 and Level 3 units.

"Three Iraqi battalions - all Level 2 -- ... secure Haifa Street (in Baghdad), that was known as 'Purple Heart Boulevard,'" the general said.

Iraqi security force numbers and readiness have been moving steadily upward over the course of the last 15 months, Petraeus said. "The Iraqis are in this fight," he said. "They are fighting and dying for their country. And they are fighting increasingly well."

God bless these martyrs for freedom.

UPDATE: Lets's see 36 battalions, conservatively that should be 36 x 500 = 18,000 Iraqis "taking the lead." 80 battalions x 500 = 40,000 Iraqis "in the fight." Given that these numbers were close to zero a year ago, it's a good bet they will double or more in the next year, meaning a lot of U.S. troops will probably be heading home. I'm guessing U.S. force levels will be somewhere between 25,000 and 75,000 in Oct 2006, depending on how the insurgency and political process go.

UPDATE II: Some excellent coverage of this subject by Murdoc.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Malaise: now more than ever.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It doesn't look like Jaafari and his party will be in power after the December elections; his rule has not been particularly popular and his coalition is splitting. Remember, Iraq really is a democracy now, with real elections, raucous dissent, and a thriving free press. Bloggers and newspapers are reporting many Iraqis are very unhappy with the sectarianism of the current parties and secularists are expected to make big gains -- including a big chunk of Sunnis who didn't vote last time.

The current gov't just isn't very representative of what Iraqis want. They were elected because they were all Iraq had to offer last year. This year, there will be real campaigns, real debates, and real choices about the future of Iraq.

UPDATE: It occurs to me the upcoming Iraqi election is arguably more important than the last. The sad history of nascent democracies has too often gone the road marked "one man, one vote, one time." An orderly, peaceful, democratic transfer of power, something we very much take for granted in the West, is quite a novelty for an Arab country. Also, unlike the last election this one shows every sign of being much more than a vote by ethnicity or region; the real divide is shaping up as secularism vs. sectarianism.

For the first time, the will of the people matters.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Marine Col. Jeff Vold:
Vold adds that antiwar rhetoric sometimes implicitly portrays soldiers as dupes on a fool's errand. "We volunteered to go to Iraq. The guys over there, who know the situation best, are re-enlisting in great numbers. Most of the guys I served with think this is the best thing America has done in our careers."

I know some people will disagree, but this echoes a lot of what I've been saying on the subject of prisoner abuse:
In short, all the evidence suggests a low rate of detainee mistreatment, one that compares favorably with U.S. civilian prisons, never mind that of other and earlier militaries. "The behavior of our troops is so much better than it was in World War II," Mr. Schlesinger told me last year. I called him this week to ask what we've learned since. "That the press exaggerated," he replied. The suggestion that Mr. Schlesinger and countless others--from decorated officers to military juries--have lent their good names to some kind of whitewash only reveals the remaining accusers for the crackpots they are.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Remember the Baghdad Airport highway, "the most dangerous road in the world?" Notice that we haven't heard that moniker in a while? According to TigerHawk, General Petraeus says there's a reason:
Iraqi tanks have been organized into an armored brigade which is responsible for securing the airport road ("Route Irish has been free of violence since the Iraqi armored brigade took it over").

Saturday, October 01, 2005

If you get a chance, try to catch Fox News' one-hour "The Trial of Saddam Hussein" special. Seeing the man and his crimes is compelling, but really it's worth seeing it just for this one exchange between the interviewer and Saddam's defense lawyer:
Interviewer: "So you're comparing Saddam Hussein to Nelson Mandela?"

Saddam's lawyer: "Yes, why wouldn't I?"
You couldn't script television this crazy. It wouldn't be believable.