March 30, 2011

Jon Stewart: Hey, It's Kind of Odd That NBC Is Embargoing The Story About Parent-Corporation GE Dodging All Federal Taxes, Huh?
— Ace

Which then caused the Washington Post to note it.

Did NBC’s silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn’t. “This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here,” said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what’s news or, in this case, what isn’t.

But to others, NBC’s silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical “Daily Show” on Monday noted that “Nightly News” had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as “OMG” and “muffin top,” but didn’t bother with the GE story.

Ignoring stories about its parent company’s activities is “part of a troubling pattern” for NBC News, said Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news. He cited a series of GE-related stories that NBC’s news division has underplayed over the years, from safety issues in GE-designed nuclear power plants to the dumping of hazardous chemicals into New York’s Hudson River by GE-owned plants.

What’s more, Hart notes, NBC News has covered corporate tax-avoidance stories before — that is, when they didn’t involve GE.

Stewart calls NBC out near the end of this segment. Until then, it's a lot of liberal defense of teachers' unions and griping that corporations don't pay enough in taxes. more...

Posted by: Ace at 10:32 AM | Comments (234)
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GOP Positions Itself For Shutdown, Working On Bill Called "Shutdown Prevention Act"
— Ace

These are tactical moves, of course, and not substantive ones, of course, but you can't win the battle without good tactics.

So here's the bill's branding.

They are currently preparing a resolution — dubbed “The Government Shutdown Prevention Act” — that would formally scold the Senate for failing to act (some 39 days after the House passed a long-term budget resolution, H.R. 1, to cut federal spending by $61 billion) and urge them to pass a spending bill. It would also publicly reiterate the urgency of the situation — the current resolution funding the government expires on April 8.

The resolution will stipulate that if the Senate fails to pass a bill before April 6 that funds the government through the remainder of the fiscal year (September 30), H.R. 1 would become “the law of the land,” and members of Congress would stop receiving their paychecks.

I have no idea what that is supposed to mean -- the House can't just resolve that a bill, not passed by the Senate, shall become law of the land. Still, gotta love the bit about forfeiting paychecks.

Meanwhile, it's reported that the Democrats plan to offer another $20 billion in cuts, although of course they refuse to actually put such an offer forward with any specifics. They do like floating trial-balloons about vague plans to the media, but not so much making actual detailed offers which can serve as genuine negotiation-starters.

Which, by the way, is an age-old negotiation tactic, of course: Never state your number first, make the other guy state his and start bargaining in your direction from his number. But of course the Republicans already did offer their (too small) number, and still the Democrats refuse to negotiate.

But it's our fault, right?

The GOP really should hammer this point -- if the Democrats are actually negotiating, where is their actual counter-offer? Which is what Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California says is exactly what the GOP's thinking.

McCarthy, in an interview, tells NRO that House Republicans will not be bullied into accepting a vague offer from Senate Democrats. In fact, he says, the GOP will soon bring a bill to the House floor that chastises Harry Reid and company for their failure to pass an alternative spending plan. By publicizing how Democrats are handling the negotiations via a floor debate and a vote, McCarthy and the leadership hope to force their upper-chamber foes into action, or at least highlight their inaction.

“This bill will send them a message,” McCarthy says. “It will show the American public that they are not acting. Right now, [Sen. Charles] Schumer [D., N.Y.] is just putting this on us.”

McCarthy says that the House GOP’s floor strategy will attempt to hammer Democrats into putting their spending proposals on the table via legislation, not backroom whispers: “If they want to be lazy, we are saying with our new bill that we will fund the government, but we will fund the government at this level, because you won’t act.”


If Senate Democrats do not take the bait, and enact their own long-term spending package, the government could shut down, McCarthy acknowledges. That said, he believes that it will become clear in coming days that House Republicans have made every effort to avoid a shutdown.

Makes logical sense. Of course we have a biased media that doesn't really care about logic but only narratives that favor the Democrats, so.

Posted by: Ace at 08:16 AM | Comments (284)
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Planned Parenthood Reverses Position On Inspections On Abortionists
— Ace

In Delaware, where they'd once fought such horrible burdens, they now support them.

In Delaware, where Gosnell was also known to perform his gruesome practices, even Democrats have introduced such legislation. Shockingly, they insist that the primary purpose of their bill is to regulate podiatrists and dentists. There should be little doubt in people’s minds that more human beings are killed by abortionists than foot doctors!

Planned Parenthood in Delaware supports the legislation, which is a good indication they are on the ropes. While the legislation is part of Gosnell’s legacy, Kermit Gosnell himself is a legacy of Planned Parenthood, which fought against this type of legislation in Pennsylvania and other states. Had such legislation been enacted, Gosnell would have been behind bars years ago.

It's useful to compare the Democrats' position here to their general position on regulation of any other industry.

No matter what the regulation is, they generally support it (except in one case). They always seem to think that government regulations, inspections, and paperwork-compliance creates a better, more hygienic, and more moral industry.

Except here. In this one case, they find regulation, inspection, and paperwork-compliance unduly burdensome.

In the case of one industry and one industry only, they accept the general GOP brief that government interference is burdensome and saps the vitality of an industry.

With abortion, they support the sort of hardcore "Wild West" strong-form libertarian laissez-faire let-people-work-it-out-and-let-the-market-decide regime they decry as "extremist" in any other context.

It seems that there's only one industry where they are comfortable pursuing this growth-at-all-costs strategy.

Posted by: Ace at 06:55 AM | Comments (165)
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Marco Rubio: I Will Not Vote To Raise The Debt Ceiling Unless Accompanied by Spending Cuts, Entitlement Reform, and Tax Reform
Me: There You Go With That Sexy-Talk Again
Marco Rubio: Oh Please I Thought This Was Over

— Ace


This seems like a sound strategy. I'm actually more on Monty's Team DOOM, because I doubt very much America's ruling class has the political will to save the country.

And that's not even exactly right -- It's not just America's ruling class which is slow-walking towards disaster, it's America's citizens themselves. There is a reason, after all, that our elected representatives have chosen the course of irresponsibility and crushing debt every time they've been given the choice. It's a popular decision. Our representatives aren't exactly voting against our wishes on this issue.

Still, I'm looking for some kind of ray of light here. Maybe Rubio's pairing of one unpopular policy choice (responsible reforms to entitlements, cuts in apparently-popular spending programs) with another unpopular choice (raising the debt limit) can wake some people up.

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.


Such reductions are important, but nondefense discretionary spending is a mere 19% of the budget. Focusing on this alone would lead to draconian cuts to essential and legitimate programs. To get our debt under control, we must reform and save our entitlement programs.

No changes should be made to Medicare and Social Security for people who are currently in the system, like my mother. But people decades away from retirement, like me, must accept that reforms are necessary if we want Social Security and Medicare to exist at all by the time we are eligible for them.

Finally, instead of simply raising the debt limit, we should reassure job creators by setting a firm statutory cap on our public debt-to-GDP ratio. A comprehensive plan would wind down our debt to sustainable levels of approximately 60% within a decade and no more than half of the economy shortly thereafter. If Congress fails to meet these debt targets, automatic across-the-board spending reductions should be triggered to close the gap. These public debt caps could go in tandem with a Constitutional balanced budget amendment.

Well, I don't like that last thing, really. Statutory caps can always be overcome by majority votes (though I suppose it would empower a minority of 41 senators to filibuster and thus defeat any attempt to override the cap). I'm not against such procedural changes to future spending procedures; I just know these are often used as an unsuitable replacement for current substantive action.

I also don't like the way he puts that bit about "draconian cuts to essential and legitimate programs." I think I'm growing more and more fond of the Rand Paul/Jim DeMint line of thinking on this, and am not happy about statements that implicitly, I think, seem to defend current spending -- which is absurd -- as "essential and legitimate." Domestic discretionary spending can and should be cut by 15%, 20%, or more.

Still, I take some heart in the fact that leading members of the caucus don't seem to have given up and consigned the country to its fate.

Via Hot Air, which has some interesting quotes of the day from yesterday -- including Rubio's reluctance to rule out a vice presidential bid.

Posted by: Ace at 06:23 AM | Comments (136)
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Gingrich Explains Shifting Positions on Libyan Kinetic Action
— Ace

At Hot Air.

His major claim (which he previously stated) is that his analysis was always according to the situation presented by President Obama's haphazard, slapdash decision-making.

He began by not encouraging a no-fly zone or direct military action. When Obama flipped a coin and decided it was a new national foreign policy imperative that "Qadaffy must go," he then supported the establishment of a no-fly zone and taking Qadaffy out while he was weak. Based, he says, on the changed situation that the foreign policy prestige of the US was now placed on a reckless bet against Qadaffy -- having made the bet, we now have to win it. Or, as he says, "if you ask me if we should jump in the lake, I'd say no. But now if we're in the lake, if you ask me to swim, I'd say yes."

His current position -- that we shouldn't have intervened directly -- is based, it seems, on two different beliefs: First, in accord with his originally announced statement, that the US should just not intervene directly. Second, based on Obama's Jenga-based foreign policy declarations -- if the president has taken the one decisive goal off the table (removing Qadaffy from power), then the military action is designed only to produce stalemate and civil war, not a stable and positive situation, and thus, minus that critical goal, the original position of non-intervention is reinforced.

The video he's released compiling a series of past statements doesn't exactly prove that was his thinking; the past statements are consistent with this narrative, but do not prove that was his thinking all along. Gingrich is a smart man and knows how to articulate his thinking clearly -- if this was his thinking all along, you'd usually expect a quick wit like Gingrich to say so.

On the other hand, the charge against Gingrich here is that he is playing partisan games with foreign policy, and the past statements do tend to show evolutions in thought -- and hesitancy. That's forgivable, I think; my own thinking on this changed (and, who knows, could change again).

But it's hard for Gingrich to push his central critique that Obama's making this up as he goes along, reversing past statements and generally guilty of muddled, rudderless thinking when Gingrich himself hasn't been coherent and firm throughout this.

I don't think someone changing their mind is necessarily a bad thing. But it does make it harder for Gingrich himself to carry this particular brief against Obama.

Posted by: Ace at 06:00 AM | Comments (67)
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My God! It's full of DOOM!
— Monty

The membership of the Loyal Order of the Terminally Boned (LOTB) has been growing by leaps and bounds! Today's inductee...Georgia!

Public employees adopt a new tactic to avoid taking cuts to their benefit plans: pre-emptive retirement. The generous spirit of public service lives on!

A government shutdown looms. They say that like it's a bad thing.

Public-sector employees vs taxpayers: it's class warfare, baby! Old Marxist wine in a new hip bottle!

Okay, now this is serious: Scotch whiskey exports decline as European demand weakens. A nation that cannot afford to get knee-walking drunk is on the brink of the abyss.

Dear GOP: W3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUKcOy9cP3DieyckcUsI">Why are you trying to kill Grandma? What did she ever do to you? (You're going to see a lot of this stuff in the run-up to the 2012 election, so get ready to be called a geezer-killer many times in the coming months.)

Portugal's credit-rating gets downgraded again.

[UPDATE] Who's to blame for the federal budget impasse? The Tea Party, that's who! Reid reminds me of Ahab in Moby Dick:

All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event — in the living act, the undoubted deed — there, some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there's naught beyond. But 'tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who's over me? Truth hath no confines.

[UPDATE 2 - Via Insty] 13% of US homes are vacant. Highest proportion of empty houses is in...Maine? That's surprising. I would have guessed Nevada.

[UPDATE 3] Alas, poor Ezra! Juiceboxer agonistes. This so-called "easy fix" for Social Security, like all such madcap schemes, rests upon some very weak assumptions.

What I wonder about is how Klein himself seems so oblivious to how someone to the right of center would view a plan like Sperling’s. As Klein states, “Sperling suggests a 3 percent surcharge on all income over $200,000, which would wipe out half of Social Security’s shortfall. He suggests the rest could be made up through bipartisan agreement on benefits cuts or tax changes.”

Wow, what a bargaining strategy: you give me half of what I want and then we can bargain over the rest. I’m shocked the administration doesn’t have a bipartisan plan in hand already.

[UPDATE 4] Like rust, the pension-crisis deniers never sleep. They're just trying to defer the collapse until after they retire (or, hopefully, stave it off for a few more decades until they can shuffle off this mortal coil and leave the wasteland for the young 'uns to deal with).

Posted by: Monty at 03:43 AM | Comments (208)
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Wisconsin Update
— Gabriel Malor

Two things.

First and as already covered here, Judge Sumi issued an amended TRO (PDF) which, like the first one, purports to halt implementation of the budget repair bill.

Unfortunately for Judge Sumi, this injunction only orders the Wisconsin Secretary of State not to publish or implement the law. It suffers from at least two fatal flaws: (1) this law has already been published and (2) the Secretary of State does not "implement" the law in the sense that his office does not deal with withholding of union dues, setting pensions withholdings, etc. The Wisconsin AG says implementation is ongoing and will continue.

Second, though election day is next week for Justice Prosser's seat, he will continue on the Supreme Court until August. His term does not end until July 31, which means that no matter what happens next week, he will still be on the court when the TRO is considered. He will also likely still be on the bench when the merits of the Open Meetings argument are ruled on, though that will depend more on how much the liberal Chief Justice can drag her feet if Prosser isn't reelected. Keep in mind that there won't be a drawn-out appeals process here because the appellate court already took a pass on the case.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:35 AM | Comments (56)
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Top Headline Comments 3-30-11
— Gabriel Malor

You successfully fall for twenty meters before you hit the bottom. You get a 4.1 from the Russian judge.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:55 AM | Comments (78)
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Libyan rebels get UN green light to sell oil.
Qatar marketing agreement imminent.

— Purple Avenger

Obviously, petro-dollars translates into major arms purchases.

..."There is no U.N. embargo on Libyan oil," a U.N. Security Council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The rebels can sell oil. But they can't do it through the Libyan National Oil Corporation."...
Clearly, the next evolution in UN thinking would be that the "embargo" on arms shipments into Libya only extends to Col Crazy's regime.

Actually, it doesn't really matter what the "official" UN position on arms sales is once the rebels have a source of mega-dollar financing -- one being protected by no-fly zones preventing regime friendly forces from inconveniently flattening rebel oil wells and terminals. Allied ships "enforcing" the "arms embargo" could simply be positioned to allow freighters to ummmm..."slip through the cracks". The Med is big and you can't be everywhere all the time, right? Shit happens sometimes, right? Luck of the draw, one in a million, que sera sera.

If the Colonel has any neurons left firing in his addled brain, this is his wake up call to pack up what remains of his loot and head for the exits.


Posted by: Purple Avenger at 01:25 AM | Comments (26)
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March 29, 2011

Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

Thule Air Base: The US Military’s Most Remote Outpost

Located in Northern Greenland over 700 miles above the Arctic Circle Thule Air Base is the US's most remote base in the world. First built in the early 1950s it now houses over 600 personnel but is so far North that it can only receive supplies by ship for a brief period each summer and spends much of the year in darkness.

It's primary mission is to serve as a radar early warning system for ICBM launches (given its location halfway between Moscow and New York) plus a secondary role of tracking any space debris that might crash into satellites or the space station.


As an air base it's unique in that it doesn't have any aircraft but it does have its own tugboat. It's definitely a hardship station although the base's newcomers guide makes duty there seem like a cross between a cheap cruise and a ski lodge. So if you don't mind a little isolation, limited sunlight, and dealing with the occasional ice worm, it could be positively cozy there. Well just as long as no Ruskies or shape-shifting aliens show up.


Posted by: Maetenloch at 04:50 PM | Comments (763)
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Just a Reminder: Chief Justice Prosser is Up For Reelection On April 5th
— Ace

As the Democrats plan to undo the public will via lawsuit, this vote in the 4-3 conservative majority is crucial.

You can volunteer here. I don't know if you can donate.

Allah's worried. So am I. I'm not in Wisconsin so I don't know -- are conservatives getting mobilized for all of this? I know the left is.

Posted by: Ace at 03:04 PM | Comments (142)
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NCAA Basketball Tuesday Night
— Dave in Texas

Quick round up on the Moron bracket contest and a bonus thingy.

Top 10 Top 10s (rank, name, wins out of possible, points, and possible points)

1 Jonjo jon.gurr 37 of 60 73pts 121pts
2 Sarahcuda's Bracket RisaK 42 of 60 72pts 120pts
2 My BigEffinDeal Bracket KenM 42 of 60 72pts 88pts
2 boone85 Scott Nadeau 37 of 60 72pts 120pts
5 Boeheim's Aneurysm DALE 41 of 60 71pts 119pts
6 Chuck U. Farleigh's All-Aces cuf 39 of 60 69pts 69pts
6 DFL Scott Anderson 35 of 60 69pts 86pts
6 Francase Place MICHAEL 40 of 60 69pts 69pts
9 phreshone punitivedamages 40 of 60 68pts 68pts
9 Rabid Redneck Republican 2 garrenshipley131 40 of 60 68pts 84pts

I'm cemented at 35 of 60, 55 points is all I'll ever see. Gosh, I hope Obama did better.

So it's Connecticut and Kentucky, VCU vs. Butler.

Also, there's NCAA women's action tonight. Final Four almost set, UCONN vs. Duke tonight, followed by Baylor and Texas A&M. Stanford's in, Notre Dame's in.

I've been following the BU girls again and I'm going out on the limb and sayin they take another National Title.

One of the more amazing players on the team more...

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 02:40 PM | Comments (84)
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The Best Business Pitch Ever?
— Maetenloch

Here Rachel Sequoia pitches her "Share The Air" business to entrepreneurs and VCs at the first Venture Capital Fundraising Club of Silicon Valley (VCFC) event held in Palo Alto, CA last month. And she's clearly channeling her inner Billy Madison since I definitely felt dumber after having listened to it.

But after laughing and mocking I started thinking about her plan. Clearly her initial $100 price point is too high but if she could get it down to say $5 or $10 she might have something. Because after all people do go to oxygen bars and buy Twilight crap - so why not boutique air?

Some say her pitch is real while others say it's just a clever satire and I go back and forth myself. Even if it is satire, it's still only slightly dumber than a lot of startup ideas.

Rachel may be a kooky hippie chick, but she also might be kooky like an endangered island fox.

Posted by: Maetenloch at 09:49 AM | Comments (243)
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Fact Checking Obama's Claim About It Taking One Year To Provide Air Cover In the Bosnian War
— Ace

Obama made this claim in order to rebut critics who say he dithered indecisively:

To summarize, then: in just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.

That is misleading to the point of being a lie. He is trying to claim that he acted more promptly, assembled a military coalition more swiftly.

In fact, he did not. He refers to "air power" -- the establishment of a shoot-down no-fly zone created by UN Resolution 816 on March 31, 1993. A previous UN Resolution, which banned military flights in Bosnia, as set forth in Resolution 718, passed on October 9, 1992. But this resolution, while purporting to establish a ban, did not authorize the undertaking of any actual action to enforce that ban -- what it seemed to do was authorize "monitoring" and the recording of violations. By the time the second, shoot-down authorizing resolution was passed, the Bosnian War had been going on for a while.

Is Obama telling the truth, then?

No. Because while air power is usually the first sort of power to be injected into a theater, with ground troops coming later (if at all), in Bosnia, air power was the last to enter.

By the time Resolution 816 authorized NATO shoot-downs of aircraft violating the ban on flights, there had been boots-on-the-ground peacekeepers in the region for over a year.

Obama's attempt to draw a contrast with the previous alleged tardiness of world response in Bosnia is dishonest. A coalition of countries was assembled to provide the thorniest sort of protection possible, boots-on-the-ground separation of hostile forces:

The UNPROFOR was composed of nearly 39,000 personnel, 320 of whom were killed on duty. It was composed of troops from Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany , Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"Air power" did indeed come later, but ground power had already been organized to attempt to protect civilians and keep opposed forces separated, the same type of civilian-sparing humanitarian mission Obama hopes to achieve with the airstrikes. Air power was added later in Bosnia partly as an expansion of the old ground-based humanitarian effort to the skies but also partly in an effort to end the war by destroying the combatants' ability to make war.

It is simply not true, as Obama implied, that it took a year for the international community to respond in Bosnia. They had responded far more quickly than that. It took them a year only to decide to add air power -- a decision that was probably slowed by the fact that there tens of thousands of foreign peacekeepers already on the ground who would be natural magnets for retaliation when shoot-downs and airstrikes began. In other words, we already had almost 40,000 would-be hostages in the region.

Notice the dainty preciseness of his deception -- he speaks only about the introduction of "air power," and it's technically true that shoot-downs did not begin until a year later. He conveniently fails to mention, however, that the much more dangerous commitment of tens of thousands of peacekeepers (acting under extraordinarily restrictive ROE's) were already in place by then, and had been for over a year.

By the way, the AP's "Fact Check" missed this one.

Corrected: I originally wrote it was more than a year before the first UN ban on flights and the second, authorizing shoot-downs. In fact, I got very simple math screwed up; it was in fact less than half a year. I have rewritten that passage to elide the error.

In fact, Obama seems to be getting the "more than a year" thing from the date of the resolution authorizing boots-on-the-ground peacekeepers:

UNPROFOR was created by UN Security Council Resolution 743 on 21 February 1992.

Feb 1992 to March/April 1993 = "more than a year."

But of course he can't mention that date-- that would scotch his whole deception. If he's being precise about matters, he'd have to say "It was more than a full year before air power was authorized in Bosnia, after a full year of boots-on-the-ground peacekeepers were in place, who'd been organized rather swiftly after the outbreak of war."

Sort of undercuts his whole "I acted super-fast" comparison.

Posted by: Ace at 09:26 AM | Comments (117)
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Cat Burglars!
— Ace

Commenters are recommending an rdbrewer cat-vid in the sidebar.

It's better than you might think. These aren't just cute cats; they're skilled burglars. more...

Posted by: Ace at 08:40 AM | Comments (63)
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Pakistani Actress Fearlessly, Furiously Assails Hard-Core "Cleric" In TV "Courtroom"
— Ace

You've set this interview up as a trial, she says. So I demand justice.

Allah had this yesterday and offers some ruminations.

There are three types of prominent people in her country today, it seems: Taliban, those recently killed by the Taliban, and those being threatened with death by the Taliban. She’s in neither the first nor second category, so she must be in the third. And so she is.

Quoting from that last link of Allah's:

Malik’s media manager, Sohail Rashid informed that the letter was sent by a man called Maulana Ahmed Masood, who claimed to be the head of Tehreek-e-Taliban.

According to the Express Tribune, a media house in Pakistan handed over the letter to Veena and they confirmed the authenticity of the source.

"The letter says that Tehreek-e-Taliban has taken a decision as a Muslim to punish Veena Malik soon. We want our daughters and sisters in our homes only and Veena Malik, who is humiliating Pakistan's name in India, will be punished soon," Rashid quoted from the letter.

"We are soon going to punish Veena Malik so that our future generations may be afraid of going to India. It is the responsibility of all Pakistanis and Muslims, but now we are going to accomplish it," he read.

So in that context, understand that she was risking -- risking isn't the right word -- guaranteeing Taliban "punishment" by not rolling over for this absurd bearded fascism-monkey and instead listing the litany of immoralities he's responsible for -- such as rape of children in their psychopathic death-cults, and, of course, terrorism.

She also begins reciting stupid edicts from this grotesque monster's religion about his needing to be punished for looking upon her more than once ("in her present condition," she says, which I guess means with her face and neck visible).

If you watch one video all week, make it this one. You don't often see good and wisdom clash directly on camera with evil and stupidity, and you usually don't get to see good decide to drop the politeness act and get mean.

Posted by: Ace at 08:21 AM | Comments (163)
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Yon: Rolling Stone Is Lying About Parts of the "KILL TEAM" Story
— Ace

One of the most prominent parts of the story concerns the shooting of two armed men on a motorcycle. It's prominent, chiefly because the team took video of the shooting; that is, since it's hot video of course, if you're trying to sell magazines, it has to be featured prominently in the story.

I didn't cite that when I excerpted the story because hot footage aside, it didn't seem out-of-the-ordinary.

Even Rolling Stone seems to concede as much:

The clip presented here is excerpted from 'Motorcycle Kill,' a video collected and shared by members of the “kill team” of U.S. soldiers who murdered civilians in Afghanistan and mutilated the corpses. The jumpy, 30-minute video – shot by soldiers believed to be with another battalion in the 5th Stryker Brigade – shows American troops gunning down two Afghans on a motorcycle who may have been armed. Even if the killings were part of a legitimate combat engagement, however, it is a clear violation of Army standards to share such footage.

Oh, it's a clear violation of Army standards to share such footage? Oh dear, that does sound serious. I bet some soldiers even have contraband pornography in their possession.

Were they armed? I can't tell from the video (I've tried to stop the video as the passenger raises his right hand to see if there's a gun in it but just as he raises it a US soldier steps out, in foreground, obscuring it.)

Yon said they were armed, and furthermore, this was not a case of waylaying a random cyclist; this was during an intense fight.

Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story. The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City. People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there. The Soviets got beaten horribly in the Arghandab, despite throwing everything including the Soviet kitchen sink into the battle that lasted over a month. Others fared little better. To my knowledge, 5/2 and supporting units were the first ever to take Arghandab, and these two dead Taliban were part of that process.

The killing of the armed Taliban on the motorcycle was legal and within the rules of engagement.

As they say, if it bleeds, it leads. Rolling Stone has footage of someone getting shot and damnit if they're not going to contrive a way to present lurid material as somehow important.

I call it "lurid" not because the soldiers' actions are themselves lurid, but because people like to see other people die. But Rolling Stone can't just be upfront about it (like that old death-porn site, Ogrish) and say "Check it out! A couple of guys get wasted on camera!" Instead it's wrapped up in this false narrative of political import.

Posted by: Ace at 08:03 AM | Comments (73)
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DOOM! is a choice, not a destiny
— Monty

The optimists will say that there is no real debt problem at the federal and state level, that everything will work out fine. The public-sector pension and healthcare bomb is just a scare-tactic on the part of Republicans to score political points, they say. The federal government cannot go out of business, they say; neither can the states. Therefore, you cannot treat sovereign risk the same way you do that of private companies. It's virtually a certainty that all public debts will be repaid.

But then there are the dissenters (like me) who point out that sovereign states can and do go out of business all the time. Just read a history book. And this quite often occurs not because of invasion or plague, but due to internal factors like debt, debasement of the currency, and a failure of the economy to provide for the citizenry.

As the monk Cadfael often says in Ellis Peters' wonderful books, "Under the certainty of Heaven, nothing is certain".

The question that faces us as a nation now, really, is one of risk. Democrats (and even some Republicans) seem to think that we live in a "low to moderate risk" financial environment; the Tea Partiers, libertarians, many GOP freshmen, and me all think that we are living in a "moderate to high risk" environment. Our argument with each other is based less on dollars and cents than it is on questions of sustainability, viability, and funding -- particularly funding of our colossal welfare-state.

Many of us feel that the optimists are engaging in magical thinking -- that because we are the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, that this somehow insulates us from the more mundane realities that every other nation must deal with. Yet we only have to look to the cousins in England to find the answer to that fallacy: they were the mightiest empire the world had ever seen as recently as the 1880's. Now they are just another pauperized nation with an unsustainable welfare-state, a restive population, and no clear way forward out of the jam they find themselves in. How astonished a British subject of 1800 would have been to visit his country only two centuries later!

America may yet have its best days before it...if we act now to prevent this fiscal disaster from ruining us, and fracturing us into endlessly-arguing and bitter camps. E Pluribus Unum requires work and dedication; it won't just happen all by itself. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and right now we have two groups of people with very diametrically-opposed visions of what America is, and what it will be in the years ahead.

Nothing lasts forever -- not men, not institutions, not buildings or monuments. Even stones wear away in time. Nothing is forever. We would do well as a nation to remember that.

Posted by: Monty at 05:33 AM | Comments (260)
Post contains 496 words, total size 3 kb.

Top Headline Comments 3-29-11
— Gabriel Malor

Coin operated self-destruct... Not one of my better ideas.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:51 AM | Comments (268)
Post contains 17 words, total size 1 kb.

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