Thursday, January 25, 2007

Michael Yon on al Sadr

(Via Instapundit) Michael Yon e-mails OP-FOR blog from Iraq. He thinks we're currently losing in Iraq, but that it is winnable, and General Petraeus is just the man to win it. (By the way, I love how Classical-Latin "Petraeus" sounds.) Furthermore, he thinks that we'll need to kill Muqtata (sp?) al-Sadr, head of the most problematic Shiite militia, the so-called "Mahdi Army." Recall, also, that it was a guy calling himself The Mahdi--a prophesied Moslem messiah--in the Sudan 120 years ago who caused such trouble for Egypt and Britain...and got Chinese Gordon killed.

Does anyone else recall that the first trouble with Sadr happened when we tried to deliver an arrest warrant against him as an accessory to murder? He started up a big fight to direct attention away from his criminal behavior. And has gotten a lot more people killed as a result. This is war, and he's part of the enemy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Options on Iran

John Derbyshire has a pessimistic post on The Corner today about our options in Iran. He's citing Amir Taheri in the NY Post. Short of nuking them, the conclusion is apparently that we can't do anything that will destroy their nuclear capability without leaving them looking like heroes to the Moslem world.

Yeah, I've been afraid of this, too. But I do see one good long-term option: get the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs. The Iranians are basically favorable towards us, and it's possible that democracy there would result in a government that didn't want the Bomb. Now, the mullahs are portraying the nuclear program as a matter of national pride, so it's not a given that the people don't want it. But just like in Iraq, a change of government is the only long-term solution. I doubt we've got the manpower or the willpower to accomplish this ourselves.

But the Iranian people are better positioned. Can they do it? Will they do it? There's not much time...

One more thing: with this week's reports of dissention within the Iranian government, is there some hope of internal weakness?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More on Iran

(via Drudge) The Telegraph has a story out today claiming that the Iranians are getting North Korean assistance in preparing a nuclear bomb test. If they go for a low-yield weapon of half a kiloton, they might possibly be ready in 12 months.

The story relies on an anonymous "senior European defence official," and a lot of the specific claims aren't specifically sourced. But I'm still worried.

SOTU: Iran

He's brought up the Iranian nuclear program. Good. That ought to be front and center on people's minds, these days. Over at YNET news, there's a disturbing report that the Iranian president has assured the Syrian foreign minister that the US and Israel will soon be destroyed. Wonderful, wonderful.

For goodness' sake, people--he's telling us what they're going to do. Wake up!

SOTU: Various

Ho-hum on a number of domestic issues. Health care (where is that in the Constitution, I'd like to know?!), maybe a few other things graciously lost in the static. But now he's promoting his Iraq war and rebuilding plans, which is smart. Take the offensive on this, both to the enemy and to the domestic opponents. He's laying out the case for spreading liberty and keeping the fight abroad.

"Whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure." Amen, brother!

Speaking of "liberty," some unholy instinct caused me to tune into XM radio's "XM Public Radio" channel--their NPR show selection--this week, and I came across Bob Edwards interviewing Chris Hedges (sp?), about his book, "American Fascists," I believe. I'd read Jonah Goldberg's discussion of this, but that hadn't prepared me for just how much of a fringe conspiracy theorist this man appears to be. He's seeing legions of black-shirted mercenaries already patrolling the streets, paid for by "evangelical" churches. (No, no--he really said this!) And though these "dominionists" (I didn't get who they are, exactly--I mean, names of leaders?) are a tiny fraction of the population, they apparently control the Republican party and specifically the Executive Branch.

He can prove it, too! His "evangelical" speech-writer inserts code-words into the President's speeches (oh, goody--we get to play with codes!). For instance (this is chiling--be prepared!), the President ended a speech that called for new troops to Iraq, with something about "liberty." Not "God bless America," but something about liberty. Spooky! Well, you see, most of you normal people hear "liberty" and think "liberty." Not these radical religious conservatives. No, sir! They hear "liberty," and they think of the liberty that only comes from submission to Jesus! (Submit! Submit! The power of Christ compels you!) So, this way, the President could slip them a message that the theocracy is coming soon, without the poor heathen getting the hint. Heh, heh...sneaky of him.

What a nut.

SOTU: Immigration "Reform"

Hmmm... Temporary worker program, again. Couldn't hear (static) if he'd push border control, along with it.

SOTU: Reform Earmarks

Advocated putting Congressional budget earmarks in "the light of day." Good for him--it'll take Congressional action, since it's in their rules, but he can threaten vetos. And just mentioning it in the SOTU gives the issue more of a push.

SOTU: Don't Raise Taxes

Got rousing applause for saying we can balance the budget w/o raising taxes. An emotional-sounding bunch of cheers. Can't tell if there were boos included in that from the left-hand side of the House.

Live blogging the State of the Union Address

I'll be posting some live comments tonight (what--like I ever do this from beyond the grave? And yet...the phrase stands.) on the State of the Union. I don't have TV right now, just a staticky AM station, so I'm missing a little, but I'll try. I'm listening to Tammy Bruce, sitting in for Laura Ingraham. Nice opening comment--"Nancy Pelosi is smiling...she is showing some facial movement!"

Presidential Candidates' Second Amendment Records

Dave Kopel has a post on the Volokh Conspiracy classifying Presidential candidates by their Second Amendment records. It's useful and illuminating. I hadn't known that Democrat Bill Richardson ranked relatively high on 2nd Amend. support--unique among the Democrats running. It did not surprise me that Rudy Giuliani ranked in the lowest category, and this is one thing that could keep me from voting for him, despite his good law-and-order record and leadership during a crisis. Mitt Romney's fairly low ranking did come as a surprise, because though I'd not heard anything about this particular issue before, I'd gotten the impression he was an all-around conservative. Apparently, though, he's flipped on some issues.

Al Gore comes in with a nearly-perfect pro-gun record until 1989, after which he's demonstrated a nearly-perfect anti-gun record. No surprise there. We Tennesseeans have been talking about his various liberal epiphanies for a while, now. The emotional anti-tobacco speech he gave at the 1992(?) Democratic National Convention is a good example. His sister's death from lung cancer supposedly steeled him to oppose tobacco, and yet, my dad still has a copy of Sen. Gore's letter to us (and to all Tennessee farmers), declaring his support for tobacco subsidies (I think it was a subsidy--we never grew the stuff, so I forget)...after his sister's death supposedly changed him. Naked political opportunism, whichever way you look at it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Next Holocaust

This is not a unique or original opinion, but it astounds me that so much of the world is treating the Iranian nuclear problem as something to worry about later, if ever. The Iranian leadership has been quite clear in their plans for Israel. Sure, any individual threat might could be dismissed as a vague wish, something they wouldn't be carrying out themselves. But taken together, it's clear that the Iranian government really does want to eradicate Israel themselves. And once they've got nuclear weapons, they get to choose the day and time. As President Bush said of another dangerous Middle Eastern country, we can't wait until the threat is imminent.

I wonder if there are the naive in this country who believe the Iranian protests that they only want cheap nuclear power, not weapons. I'd suspect that any such folks do not extend the benefit of the doubt to statements by our American government. They'd put themselves up as hardened cynics in that case. But our enemies? Have to take them at their word.

I've actually known people like this--people who, back in college or high school, were more willing to take Soviet statements at face value than our own government's. If pressed, they could change into a moral equivalence stance--both governments are untrustworthy, and we can't trust the US claim that the Soviets are untrustworthy. Or something like this.

In this light, read "This Holocaust Will Be Different", by the Jerusalem Post's Benny Morris. If you needed any convincing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Not a bad ending... a busy week. My research team has got an observing proposal that made the cut, and (whenever it gets scheduled) we'll be trying out some new adaptive optics technology. Besides that, I've responded to the referee's report on what I hope will a major paper, I've started writing a new one, and a friend gave me some old lab equipment, (which the wife will definitely not let me keep at home). And on top of all of this, we've got snow!

Commentary starts a blog

Commentary magazine has started a blog, "Contentions." It's a group blog, which I think makes for some of the best variety. And if you aren't familiar with the magazine, pick up a copy or check them out online. They've got some of the best and most in-depth foreign-affairs articles, and they do well in religion and philosophy, as well.

Happy Lee Day!

Happy Robert E. Lee Day! Not only is today his birthday, and therefore a Day of Special Observance in Tennessee and in other Confederate states, but today is his 200th birthday. Be sure to wear gray!

P.S: Don't forget Stonewall Jackson Day, coming up this weekend...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Scottish and English independence?

Iain Dale has been covering the rising support amongst the English for a separate parliament within the United Kingdom, on a par with the Scottish and Welsh parliaments. In fact, he's among the leaders of the movement, from what I can gather. This is interesting, especially since it was England that did the conquering of Wales and Scotland. The "British" parliament is what used to be the English parliament, and the push in Wales and Scotland for their own parliaments is a result of chafing under foreign dominion.

The devolution that has progressed under Blair's government has gotten the English wanting a measure of self-rule, too. But what's new (to me) in this article is that there's rising support for outright independence. About half of Scottish and English respondents to the poll wanted to end the union between their countries.

And the Scottish support for outright independence is higher than the support for the devolution that has let them have a separate parliament within Great Britain. That's interesting. It suggests to me that getting a taste of slight self-rule can make you unsatisfied with anything less than the real thing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More on Venezuela

One thing to add to my previous post: Chavez's announcements caused a precipitous drop in his country's stock markets. The price of oil (maybe the only thing that had been letting him get away with his behavior until now) had already hit an 18-month low. Will the decline in both stocks and oil prevent him from carrying out his plans? I'm no economist, but I suspect not. I have a fear that he might use it as a justification for nationalizing those companies and centralizing the economy. After all, if the free market can't be trusted to keep money in the economy, he'll say, the state must do it. And the state, it is he.

Venezuela turns towards communism

Read this saddening post by Fausta. (via Instapundit) This isn't a surprise; many observers have been shouting that this was exactly where Hugo Chavez has been heading for years. Now he's made it explicit. He said Venezuela would become socialist, and he referred to himself as a "communist" (I'm putting that in lower-case intentionally). He wants to "nationalize" (that is, "steal") certain businesses, shut down the opposition press, and rule at least in part by decree.

Will the Left in our country keep brown nosing him?

Great spoof from Lileks

Read this "diary" by Bernard-Henri Levy in the Times of London...then read today's Bleat by James Lileks. He does a wonderful job of spoofing it. It's worth reading Levy's whole entry, or at least scanning it (I wasn't able to slog through every word), just for the weirdness; I wonder if his books read like this.

Saturday, January 06, 2007



For GOODNESS' SAKES, people!!!

Fare well to Southern Appeal

(I thought I'd already posted on this, but apparently not.) It's with friendship and great disappointment that I've got to announce that Steve Dillard's blog, Southern Appeal, has closed its doors permanently.

Steve (then blogging as "Feddie," for his being a true states' rights Federalist) was one of the very first to link to my blog here, and we've corresponded since then. He's a good Christian, a true son of the South, and a well-reasoned Conservative.

The web will be losing a good man. It wasn't clear from his e-mail what his exact reasons were. I only hope that he hasn't had any professional problems as a result of his blogging. And I hope that some day in the future, his circumstances will change, and he'll resume.

Israeli nuclear attack on Iran?

No story yet, but Drudge has a leak that The Sunday Times of London is preparing to report on Sunday that the Israelis are preparing a nuclear strike against Iran. The only specifics he's got yet are that it would be a tactical nuclear strike against Iran's uranium enrichment facilities.

I reckon it would have to be--from all I keep hearing, even a conventional airstrike wouldn't be effective against the buried and dispersed Iranian facilities. If this is real, it's a shame it's coming out in the paper. An Iranian spy couldn't have done any better. The Israelis are plagued with the same spineless leakers that we are.