Friday, September 30, 2005

There's been a lot of press about the three "battalions capable of independent action" becoming only one, and of course that begs the question: are the Iraqi forces getting better or worse? The answer seems to be: on the whole, they're getting much better and more numerous, but require supervision.

My understanding is there are 10 U.S. advisers in every battalion. This is how you build an army; you don’t just give them guns and say “Have at it boys!” If you want to call it hand-holding as some are, fine. But they are out there fighting, and they took the lead in Tal Afar.

They are probably going to need those advisers for the next 2-5 years or so. Frankly, I’m surprised we have even one Iraq battalion running around by itself.

The reason is the same reason that the old Iraqi “Army” self-disbanded at the time of the invasion: as in most Mideast armies, there was no NCO corps. NCOs are the glue that hold together an army, and it takes a long time to develop such a corps.

(In lieu of NCOs, like most Arab countries the Iraqi “Army” (if you can call it that) apparently had platoon-level IIS agents holding guns to conscripts’ heads. Why do the Arab armies have this in common? Think about the mechanics of dictatorship for a minute, and it’s obvious: loyalty to the current head of state must be strictly enforced among the military if the dictator wants to stay in power. If a general knows his troops are loyal to him, he could be dictator himself pretty fast.)

Interesting report from Gen. Casey today:

“On the military side, coalition forces and Iraqi security forces continue to pressure terrorists and insurgents across Iraq. And Iraqi security forces are progressing and continuing to take a more prominent role in defending their country. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. In May, Iraqi security forces conducted about 160 combined or independent operations at the company level and above, so about 100 people as company level, and about 160 operations. In September, that was over 1,300, and then our transition teams that we have put with the Iraqi security forces have greatly enhanced their development and their ability to operate with us. We are at the point now where 80 percent of all of the company- level and higher operations that are done are combined operations with the Iraqi or Iraqi independent operations—big step forward.

“Additionally, we expect to have 60[000] to 70,000 more Iraqi security forces available for referendum security than we had in January, and by the time of the elections, we expect to have about 100,000 more Iraqi security forces available to protect those elections than we had in January. So as a result, for example, I only had to ask for an additional 2,000 coalition troops to protect the referendum and election process this year vice 12,000 in January”

(h/t Mixed Humor, John Cole)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is the best news out of Iraq imaginable:
The largest Sunni political group, the Iraqi Islamic Party, said... its efforts are focused on the December election for a new National Assembly.

..."We are focusing more on ensuring the Sunnis participate in the next election."
It's finally, really happening. The moderate Sunnis are committed joining the democratic political process. That is the best, most realistic hope for ending the insurgency and setting Iraq on a path to greater prosperity and freedom.

The December elections should create some separation between the "fight democracy to the death" Sunnnis and the "this insurgency sucks, let's give consensual gov't a try" Sunnis.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Aha!

The AP agrees with my (and others') assessment of their war coverage:
Daily reports of U.S. troops deaths — approaching 2,000 — have helped drive down public support in the U.S. for the war.
Exactly. They even manage to squeeze in another mention of casualties in the very sentence in which they note the daily reports of casualties are discouraging the war effort.

While I’m sure they didn’t quite mean it that way, they also clearly can’t claim to not understand the practical effect of how they’re reporting the war. Does anyone really think the press wants us to win?

Well, the results of my cynical little experiment in representative gov't are in. I have to give Obama's office some kudos for this. They not only recognized I had sent them two emails, one about pork and one about pets, and answered them both in one reply, they even managed to put together an impressively coherent, detailed, and cogent response that I would have no way of knowing was composed from form letters unless I had seen those letters before. They even express some concern about "pork" (although more specific cuts would have shown a bit more sincerity). It almost gives me faith in gov't again.

Here's the letter:
Dear Dave:

Thank you for your two emails regarding responsible spending for Hurricane Katrina relief and your concerns about pet rescue operations in the Gulf Coast. I appreciate hearing from you on both of these issues, and I will address both of these issues in this reply.

I share your commitment to ensuring that this massive undertaking will be executed responsibly. As you know, Congress has already responded to the crisis in the Gulf region by passing the two largest disaster relief bills in American history, and more assistance will be needed. Additional legislation is currently developing. The costs of Katrina now total $62 billion and are expected to increase dramatically. I share your belief that these measures should be passed without "pork" attached for pet projects or other unnecessary expenditures. I also agree that Congress should search for methods of paying for relief and rebuilding projects that do not jeopardize other priorities such as health care and education. And ideas similar to yours should be on the table for consideration. This effort will undoubtedly compel us to review our spending habits and the budgetary decisions we have already made.

Because I know many Americans share my skepticism about FEMA’s ability to manage such an enormous effort, I have joined with my colleague, Senator Tom Coburn (R.,OK), in introducing legislation (S. 1700) that would establish a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to oversee Katrina reconstruction expenditures. Under my bill the CFO must be confirmed by the Senate, and will report expenditures monthly. Those reports will then be reviewed by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and made publicly available. This legislation has passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security unanimously and will be sent to the Senate floor for debate and a vote on final passage.

I know this tragedy has weighed heavily on the hearts of all Americans. And while we face one of the greatest reconstruction challenges in American history, the compassion I have seen flow to the Gulf Coast from all over the nation gives me confidence that we will pass this great test and help rebuild the lives of those who have lost so much. I hope that members of both chambers of Congress, as they have thus far, would see the importance of passing these relief bills without hampering them with unnecessary projects.

I also received your email about missing pets in the Gulf Coast. Among the many difficult and heartwrenching aspects of this tragedy has been the lack of resources to rescue and care for those animals left behind by evacuees who were unable to take them on evacuation transports. Fortunately, as news spread about the plight of these animals, several groups volunteered to travel into that dangerous environment to help rescue them.

As soon as the resources were available, the United States Navy and National Guard began searching for and rescuing these pets in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf Coast. The U.S.S. Tortuga moored near New Orleans, and the Tortuga's repair division began a search and rescue mission for abandoned pets. The crew members set up "Camp Milo and Otis," a makeshift kennel where medical care and shelter was provided for dogs, cats and other displaced animals from the city. The Department of Homeland Security also assisted by deploying Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams to provide medical care to pets and livestock, as well as provide any needed veterinary medical care for dogs involved in the rescue effort. And only days after the storm, SPCAs, Humane Societies and other pet welfare organizations from across the country joined the United States Navy and National Guard in attempting to rescue stray animals. Several thousand pets were rescued and sheltered around the state by late last week.

Individual citizens have helped with this effort as well. I was particularly heartened by stories like one in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where an anonymous donor helped relocate 175 displaced dogs and cats. While it is tragic that so many pets remain left behind, that is yet another example of how humanity can shine through any disaster.

Thank you again for writing.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama
United States Senator
Now, the above borrows entire paragraphs from the other form letter. But, otoh, that's an efficient use of valuable prose-writing time and they took the time to plausibly fake writing a real letter. That's better than I expected.

I haven't received a reply from my Rep yet, but that's because I mis-typed the email address by accident, and I haven't gotten around to re-sending it yet, which I think probably tends to prove Dogbert's assertion that ignorance is the most powerful force in the world, followed by apathy.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Glenn's mail offers Instapundit readers a revealing look inside our supposedly representative gov't:
They can't seem to understand why I'm bothering them or why I expect more of a response than a form letter assuring me that they share my concerns about the budget.
Ugh, that's not pretty. I guess if you're not a special interest group, you're just an annoyance. Trite but apt sausage analogies immediately spring to mind.

But this piqued my interest, and also my sense of scientific inquiry:
Reader Mary Wlodarski sends a response she got: "I have been a regular reader of your blog for years and really love it! I sent both my senators, Durbin and Obama a letter asking them to review the budget in light of the need of our southern states, foregoing our projects to help out the gulf states. I only got response from Obama. He must have thought I was concerned about the pets in the budget, not the pork!"
What followed appeared to be a form letter for pets lost in Hurrcane Katrina. As a fellow denizen of the People's Republic of Illinois, like Mary I too am blessed with Mr. Obama as my Senator (to be fair, Obama seems like a pretty decent guy, one of the few center-left people out there; to give you some idea of how bad statewide politics is, our other choice was Alan Keyes, who kicked off his campaign in glorious fashion, scant months before the election, by 1) moving to Illinois and 2) insisting that it was "inconceivable" our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would have voted for his opponent).

Anyway, I thought it was odd there could be a form letter for missing Katrina pets. So, in the spirit of empiricism, I propose two tests for the hypotheses that Obama's office has a form letter for missing Katrina pets, and that his office cannot tell the difference between a budget initiative and a pet issue: I'll send a short email expressing my deep concern for missing cats (as someone hopelessly devoted to his own cats, I feel sincere in this, even though I'm obviously having a little fun with the idea), and see if I get the exact same letter as Mary. I'll also send one regarding the porcine portions of the proposed budget, and see if, like Mary, I receive the same form letter as for the forsaken feline familiars.

Here are the two emails:

I am deeply concerned with the "pigs at the trough" attitude of politicians toward our budget. In the wake of Katrina, we need to ensure that our spending priorities are in the proper order and that our government acts in a responsible, caring manner. This issue is very important to many people and should not be taken lightly.

I am deeply concerned with the issue of missing cats. In the wake of Katrina, we need to ensure that our rescue priorities are in the proper order and that our government acts in a responsible, caring manner. This issue is very important to many people and should not be taken lightly.

I know, the two letters are very similar. What can I say, you have to fight fire with fire, people.

"So Long, And Thanks For All The Toxic Darts"

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In response to John Cole's post, I'd like to present... kitty porn!














With hot tongue action!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jalal Talabani, Iraq's first elected President, writes in the WSJ today:
If we keep progressing at the present rate, Iraqis may be able to take over many
security functions from foreign forces by the end of 2006. That is not a
deadline, but it is reasonable aspiration.
Interesting. We'll see, I guess.


Fiscal conservatism lives!

I'll be writing my own Congressman Mark Kirk today, who, according to his website is
a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee
Sounds like just the guy for this kind of thing.

Thank you, Glenn, for pointing out the blindingly obvious to people who really ought to know better.

$100 billion just to go back to the Moon? For what? Is there suddenly a critical shortage of moon rocks that threatens to wreck the economy? No, wait -- I know! We've just discovered there's trillions in oil on the moon! And no environmentalists or medieval regimes! A huge cache of diamonds, perhaps? The secret to a grand unification theory of relativity and quantum mechanics?

No, sadly, there is no reason to go back to the Moon, except that it's there. There is, however, a reason we never went back: it's a big, airless, resourceless, useless hunk of rock that costs $100 billion to get to. We have rocks here on Earth. They cost a lot less than $100 billion to get to.

A space elevator, otoh, not only serves a useful function (imagine that, a space program whose primary objective is something that's actually useful), but would be an epochal achievement like the Moon landing of our parents' generation and the Panama Canal of our grandparents' rolled into one. Not only would it be a tremendous achievement in and of itself, it could serve to usher in a new era of low cost orbital transport. Just imagine how the world will change if satellites can be put into orbit more reliably than today for a tenth to a hundredth of the current cost.

Now, I understand why NASA has not yet fully embraced the space elevator concept, though they are looking at it, including sponsoring a competition for the "climber" portion of the elevator. When I introduce the concept to engineers for the first time, they give me a look like I've just claimed Elvis has been living in my basement all this time -- till they see the white papers. Then they scratch their heads and say "Wow, that might actually be do-able." In the end, it still may prove not to be feasible (though that looks less likely every year) but at the very least NASA owes the idea a few billion in development money. It's a lot better than wasting $100 billion on a been-there, done-that boondoggle.

Best case: sometime in the next couple years, NASA says the space elevator looks promising enough that they cancel the whole "Operation Do What We Already Did 50 Years Ago" and divert that entire budget into building a half-dozen to a dozen space elevators.

UPDATE: It occurs to me now that if the space elevator comes in anywhere near its projected budget, the cost of going to the Moon would probably actually be less if we diverted part of its budget to making a space elevator to help us get to the Moon. As Glenn points out, most of the energy cost is getting into orbit.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Yellow journalism: alive and well in 2005.

That "10,000 dead" has been revised down to "less than 1,000."

For reference, that compares to 35,000 dead in Europe from... a heat wave. That's right, a natural "catastrophe" that can be handled with air conditioning killed more than 35 times as many people among our oh-so-enlightened socialist transatlantic neighbors as a Category 5 storm here in the US did in a deathtrap city built below sea level, even with an incompetent disaster response.

Let's see, 35,000 people times $179 each for their own, personal 8,000 BTU air conditioner gives me... $5.5 million. That's what it would have cost to save every single person who died from excess heat. And that assumes no one was willing to share.

And people think America has problems.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bill Clinton broke with past presidential precedent today, and attacked George W Bush over the Iraq war and Katrina. This is shameful behavior, and I've lost some respect for the man, who I thought to this point had conducted his post-Presidency with a lot of class. This is especially disappointing with his wife set to appear on the '08 ballot.

Sigh. The "attack-dog" mentality continues to infect more and more of the left. They've even convinced themselves the problem is they're not attacking enough. Sad.

Note to Kos & Atrios & the attack Dems: When are you people going to give the Democratic Party back to the rest of America? Remember us, the sane people in the middle that decide elections? Sheesh. It's like they not only don't want my vote, they're actually spitting on it in disgust. "Bah! We don't need you filthy stinking moderates! We've got Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore and a hatred for conservatives that burns hotter than the sun!"

(h/t Powerline)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

If this Iraqi is any indication, the insurgents are not winning a lot of hearts and minds (harsh language advisory):
Al-Zarbawi days are counted and when he fall in the hands of the Iraqis so soon we will make him to suck his shit and will show him how to talk by using his mouth rather than his filthy excessively fucked anus.
UPDATE: Somehow, when this guy swears it seems more real than when these guys do it. I don't know, just seems like he feels it more.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Grinding out a free and democratic society: StrategyPage details the progress of one of the greatest social engineering projects ever attempted by Man.
Meanwhile, in Tal Afar, the government is using a similar tactic that is weakening the terrorist organizations. Thousands of local civilians are being hired for reconstruction jobs. American civil affairs units have been most aggressive with this tactic, developed and honed over the last two years. Even while the fighting is going on, civil affairs teams are noting what infrastructure is in need of rebuilding, or is getting damaged. As soon as Iraqi police declare a neighborhood pacified, hiring begins to help unload and distribute relief supplies, rebuild roads and electrical systems, and do any other jobs that need being done. Workers are paid daily, and given one more reason to stay away from the terrorist organizations. Not that a lot of unemployed Sunni Arabs need much encouragement there. By now, it’s almost impossible to get volunteers to attack the Americans, and prices to hire people for that work keep going up. Shooting at Americans is seen as suicide, because not only do the Americans promptly shoot back very accurately, but they then come after you. The Americans have those damn little planes in the sky, the ones with cameras, making it difficult for attackers to hide or get away. It’s much easier to attack Iraqi police or soldiers. But these guys are now wearing body armor, and will counter-attack as well. Worse, the Iraqi police will start questioning people in the area, put up roadblocks, and hunt you down. It’s getting so hard to be a bad guy in Iraq.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Major General Rick Lynch gave a briefing today. Some highlights:

- Mosul: 1,000 killed or detained
- Zarqawi having "no effect" on Coalition or Iraqi forces (later re-emphasized "zero effect"), forced to attack innocent civilians as we saw today and yesterday; 14 car bombs (7 suicide); attacked "first responders" (medics, firefighters) as well. (Bastards. If that doesn’t make them “terrorists” the word has no appropriate use.)
- counter-insurgencies "historically, last 10 years"; this one will be won by Iraqis people, gov't and security forces
- insurgency has not been able to establish safe haven, not been able to stop recruiting, > 190,000 trained & equipped Iraqi forces, not been able to derail democratic process

Tal Afar operations:

- Operations ongoing
- Iraqi forces outnumber Coalition forces
- Since 26th of August: 500 terrorists killed or captured, 24 caches of ammunition seized
- People of Tal Afar asked for help
- Reconstruction beginning: U.S. spending $3 million, $50 million from Iraqi gov't
- Limited structural damage

Lynch Q&A notes:

Reporter notes reports of airstrikes, asks whether this means operations alluded to by the Iraqi Defense Minister against terrorists in four other cities have begun. Lynch doesn’t answer directly, says they will not allow a safe haven for terrorists anywhere in Iraq.

Lynch says a poll found 75% of Iraqis said they will turn in terrorists (I note the Iraq Index shows the number of phones has risen immensely, from 833,000 prewar to 4.5 million in August 2005, and this post from an Iraq newspaper mentions several terrorist tiplines, Technology is more our ally than the terrorists’.). Lynch remarks that the tip lines are getting better results all the time.

In response to a question about claims by Juan Cole and others that the U.S. is engaging in “sectarian cleansing” in Tal Afar, Lynch says “that is absolutely absurd.” He sounds disgusted when he says it, and notes both Shiite and Sunni leadership asked for help in Tal Afar. (Maybe we should invite Mr. Cole to bring his allegedly Informed Comments to the next briefing.) Lynch says any sectarian violence would be investigated not encouraged.

Lynch says of reports insurgents escaped Tal Afar “if some got away, it wasn’t many.”

“Democracy is failure for the insurgents.” (This is very true, and it makes me wonder why that is never stated as such in the press, e.g. articles beginning “In another failure for the insurgency…” or “In another blow to insurgent hopes…” every time democracy moves forward. In fact, almost nothing is ever characterized as a defeat for insurgents; sometimes it seems they can do no wrong in the eyes of the media (I suspect this is how a war becomes defined as “unwinnable”). No wonder most Americans don’t think we’re doing very well.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"Dude, I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm dirty: this road trip sucks. Let's swim home already. I miss people. Especially people with fish. Mmmmmmmmmmm, fish..."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Consider the following two statements, regarding elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's statement that, in his opinion, the U.S. will be able to withdraw 50,000 troops from Iraq this year:
But Talabani had earlier told CNN in Washington: "It's our duty to sacrifice for our people and for our country," in words that may ease pressure on President George W. Bush, who faces increasing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.
vs.
But Talabani had earlier told CNN in Washington: "It's our duty to sacrifice for our people and for our country," in words designed to ease pressure on President George W. Bush, who faces increasing calls to withdraw U.S. troops.
OK, now of the two, which one states a fact, and which attempts to read Talabani's mind and attribute intention to him? Which is accurate reporting, and which is editorializing? And which paints a less flattering picture of what's happening?

Now, guess which one actually appeared in a Reuters piece.

Monday, September 12, 2005

They're mopping up in Tal Afar today, and getting ready to push on to Ramadi, Qaim, etc. This push by the Iraqis may have major consequences for the insurgents' ability to operate, because the Iraqis now have the numbers and local expertise to hold these areas.

The indispensable GatewayPundit has this little tidbit from Iraqi TV that you can bet you won't see in the Western media:
The station showed a demonstration of about 150 people of Tal Afar holding banners declaring: "We call on the government to kick out terrorists from Tal Afar." One young man told a television interviewer, "What we want from the Iraqi government is to kill those terrorists."
Things are changing.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

GaijinBiker at RidingSun asks why we haven't been attacked since 9/11. Some commenters suggest Al Qaeda is deliberately aying off, and wants us in Iraq.

Osama may indeed want us in Iraq. He wanted us in Afghanistan, too. Remember the "graveyard of superpowers?" They've blown some people up in both places, but have been totally unable to stop the progress of consensual gov't in either country. Osama is not a strategic genius by a long shot. He's just a religious wacko, Jim Jones with exploding Kool-Aid drinkers.

That said, there is probably some truth to the idea they are deliberately not targeting America. We've taught them attacking America has very bad consequences; 9/11 had exactly the opposite effect on American policy of what they intended. They know more attacks will only further inflame American support for war -- at least, as long as there's a Republican president. Attacking Europe, on the other hand, has worked out better for them.

I haven't blogged much on Katrina, because I've always viewed natural disasters, however tragic, as something to be stoically endured and and cleaned up after (maybe it's my Scottish heritage). But the press coverage has been, frankly, so unreal that it's more interesting than the hurricane itself. Given the coverage thus far, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the press is rabidly obsessed with pinning the blame on Bush.

Here's an article that is virtually fact-free and totally unbalanced. From Reuters' Kieran Murray, we have a statement strongly implying Bush is to blame for a "bumbling" response, then comments from three Democrats on how Bush is "badly informed," the admin is using "spin" and Bush lacks "empathy." Count of relevant facts or opinions from Republicans: zero.

Here's some pertinent information that somehow escaped Murray's journalistic prowess:

Bush offered federal help, including troops and a federal takeover of the recovery effort, on the FRIDAY BEFORE the hurricane.

Blanco didn't accept that help until the WEDNESDAY AFTER, and even then refused to allow the feds to take over.

Meanwhile, the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool sat idly by on Sat and Sun instead of being used to evacuate, as the emergency plan specifies. By Mon, they were flooded and 100,000 people were stranded.

Louisiana state officials (who report to Blanco) refused to allow the Red Cross and Salvation Army to bring supplies to thousands of people stranded in the Superdome, on the grounds allowing them in would encourage people to stay. (I suppose their logic went something like "Well, after the first few die of thirst or starvation, the rest will leave.")

These are major, major screwups that cost lives. The worst mistakes I've been able to assign to FEMA was that Brown padded his resume and failed to watch TV during the disaster, some FEMA officials didn't have disaster experience, someone got Charleston WV confused with Charleston NC, and at one point a phone wasn't working. None of these issues had any material impact. In fact, I can't find a single thing anyone at FEMA actually did wrong that contributed to the problems.

So where are all the journos asking why Blanco didn't "care" enough to feed refugees, or how Nagin could be so "bumbling" as to ignore his evacuation plan?

The silence is deafening.

(much more exhaustive coverage by Jeff at protein wisdom)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Deja vu all over again:
In Talafar, air strikes were reportedly launched on a neighbourhood the Americans suspected of being under the control of insurgents. ... The US military drove the insurgents out of Talafar a year ago, only for them to return once the troops had withdrawn.
Maybe the problem is just that no one can figure out how the town's name is spelled. "Sir, we've routed the insurgents in Tall Afar, but some have escaped and regrouped in Talafar." "No problen, we'll cut them off at Tal Afar, before the second 'l'." Anyway, today we have 182,900 trained an equipped Iraqi soldiers, so we can do things like this:
The spokesman for the American forces in Iraq, Major General Rick Lynch, has pledged that this time a sufficient military presence will remain to prevent the same thing happening again.
Having an elected gov't can frame the issue differently, too:
"Iraqi security and coalition forces continue to eliminate terrorists and foreign fighters in Talafar and they will continue to pursue this endeavour to the end," Mr Jaafari said. "We are taking additional measures to ensure security and stability in Talafar and to restore its people's rights."
In case anyone's forgotten, there is a referendum on the constitution October 15th, and then parliamentary elections in December no matter which way the referendum goes. So: more Iraqi democracy, more Iraqi troops. Eventually, those trends will culminate in this:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Friday he believes that within two years, there'll be no further need for U.S. forces there.
Meanwhile, progressives spent the last year shrieking themselves hoarse that the imposition of sharia law in Iraq meant Iraq was a theocracy, but sharia has quietly been recommended for implementation in... Canada.

No, seriously.

So, tortoise-like, Canada sneaks in while no one was looking and wins the race to bcome a "failed theocratic state." I hear separatist tensions are simmering in Quebec, so who knows, maybe they'll have a civil war first too.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The inimitable Lileks on how to bring gas prices down:
* Confiscate the Iraqi oilfields. As long as we’re going to be accused of
fighting a war for oil, might as well get some gas out of it. The Iraqi
government is subsidizing gas for its own people; odd how we don’t get the same
benefit. It’s almost as if we think forging a constitution and birthing a civil
society is more important than diverting Iraqi crude to American cars. As the
Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy would say: Worst. Imperialists. Ever.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

This is unbelieveable.

What the hell were they thinking??? Those buses could have saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

When this is all over, an investigation needs to be done, and whoever was responsible (Republican or Democrat, I don’t care) should be charged with criminal negligence. People died because of this incompetence.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I've been chuckling a lot over the "Iraqi theocracy" meme lately. It occurs to me today that Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson are more theocrats than Al-Sistani, the top cleric in Iraq. Those two both ran for the highest office in the land; Al-Sistani has not only eschewed politics, he's even demanded no political party campaign using his name.

Britain, meanwhile, continues to be ruled by unelected clerics in the House of Lords (I expect them to forge a close alliance with Iran any day now). Not only that, they still haven't even agreed on a constitution!
It is one of the few countries (and the most significant) that does not have a codified constitution.
Where is the outrage over this failed theocratic state? Is this what 500,000 of our troops died to defend in WW II?

I haven't said much about Katrina or posted charities and the like, mostly because others have done such a great job with that. I've said some prayers and quietly donated, like most people are doing.

My only observation to add is that despite all the reports of poor planning and looting, I think America has done fairly well with this. In most countries, there would be massively greater problems of logistics just in terms of getting people enough food and water to keep them alive, and a lot more opportunistic crime.

The next few days, I think, will prove this out.