Monday, August 18, 2008

How many South Ossetian civilians dead?

2,100 (Russian claims) or 40 (recorded in Tskhinvali's main hospital)? You think the Russkies might have been...exaggerating to justify their little invasion?

Friday, August 15, 2008

'Way to go, big 'U'!

(I felt like paraphrasing a "Hunt for Red October" quote just now.) The Ukraine has just told Russia that the Russkies have to inform the Ukraine of all ship movements out of the Russian-leased, Ukrainian-owned base of Sevastopol...or else. Russians must get permission from Ukrainian authorities at least 24 hours in advance of any ship movements, or the Ukraine can expel the Russian ship from its port.

You think Russia over-played its hand in Georgia? Hmm?

Cold-War-style paranoia in Moscow

Dick Cheney got Russia to invade Georgia to keep Obama from getting elected! I thought Karl Rove did it, actually.

The Russians are convinced Cheney made them invade?! That's like the lefties here thinking Rove faked the Texas Air Nat'l Guard memos and convinced Dan Rather to run with them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What we should do for Georgia

John McCormack on Max Boot on the Russo-Georgian War. I especially think that there should be absolutely no Russian "peacekeepers" within South Ossetia under any circumstances. They're a party to the war, not neutral peacekeepers. And I'd love to see some of those shoulder-fired US "Javelin" anti-tank rockets knocking out the Russian columns advancing into Georgia...

Democratic unity

This is the kind of Democratic Party unity I love to see. These are the guys who are trying to force a floor vote on nominating Clinton at the Democratic convention this fall. According to XM Radio's "P.O.T.U.S. '08" channel yesterday, they have 2/3 of the signatures they need.

Love the acronym...I can't believe they actually titled their group this way.

US "antisatellite test" really was done for safety

Imagine that: the official explanation was the real explanation. Who'da thunk?

[P.S.: the spell-check correctly underlined "who'da" but for reasons unknown to me didn't seem bothered by "thunk."]

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Is Russia really losing, in the end?

Classical values thinks so. I'm not so encouraged, but I'd like for it to be true.

Russian tanks moving towards Tbilisi

The BBC News is reporting a column of Russian tanks moving on the road from Gori towards Tbilisi. They can't say where they're intending to wind up. There's a cease-fire in place which was made on the Russian terms, and the Russians say their military operations are over. But this is the Russians we're talking about. They were also bulldozing a Georgian military base recently.

One BBC reporter suggested that although the Georgian artillery is well south of the disputed zone, they're within firing range of it, so the Russians might simply be going down to clear them out. Well, that would be the Russian argument.

The most despicable thing of this whole war is the Russian attempt to get rid of Georgian president Saakashvili. They've absolutely refused to deal with him personally, and in terms that shock me to hear. What exactly do they have against him? They're making a claim of war crimes, but come on...this sounds simply like made-up propaganda, which the Russians are experts at. For their part, the Georgians have made the same accusation in return, which is smart, whether or not it's true.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Imitations of famous movie scenes

I'm watching 5 Against the House on Turner Classic Movies. It's a 1955 crime caper--college friends figure out how to rob a casino in Reno. Guy Madison has just come into his fiancee Kim Novak's dressing room. The camera looks at him from under her outstretched leg, framing him standing in the doorway as she puts on her hose.

It's almost the same camera shot that was so famous in The Graduate! The only difference is that in 5 Against the House, Kim Novak's leg makes a right angle, framing Madison on two sides (we're looking completely under her leg at him).

I can't find any stills of this scene, unfortunately. And I don't see any references online to the similarities between these. Of course, I'd never heard of this movie before I tuned it in...

The propaganda waged at the Chinese Olympics

Good grief, what shallowness! But read the article carefully, and note how all of this fakery and deception is considered necessary propaganda to make sure China comes off as impressive as it can. Ugh! A similar report is here.

Saakashvili addresses crowd of 50,000 in Tbilisi

I imagine this is the rally that was called for 3:00 Georgia time today. The BBC reports about 50,000 people in the square in Tbilisi. Lots of Georgian flags in evidence. Saakashvili seems to be a pretty good orator, although they're not translating his speech, so I'm just going on body language. The Georgian flag, incidentally, is a really pretty one.

From last night: Georgia "overrun" by Russian troops

This is a little out of order, but it's a useful article still.

One thing I'm worried about for the US (and just raised by the BBC reporter) is how our reputation will be affected by this. I was hoping for a stronger response (sheesh--the Georgians were sure hoping for more!), but as far as any outside country's actions have gone, we were/are leading whatever diplomatic opposition there is to Russia.

The reporter in Gori said that Georgians there were disappointed in the lack of military support from the US. We'll see if our help in shuttling their troops from Iraq to Georgia, or our diplomatic efforts count for anything. It's best not to let your allies down when they're being invaded.

South Ossetian war blog

"Russia and Georgia at War". It's from a Georgian perspective.

Russia calls halt in military operations

BBC news is reporting now that Medvedev has called a halt to Russia's invasion of Georgia. I haven't seen anything on the web (or at least, not linked by Drudge--I'm lazy).

One thing I've been thinking of: Those ethnic Georgian villages within South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Assuming Russia just gets to keep their little prizes there, will the borders include those ethnic Georgian towns? If it's OK to invade Georgia to "protect" the Ossetians...if we can carve up Georgia to separate the ethnic groups into different borders, then wouldn't Georgia be just as justified in claiming the Georgian towns there as its own?

This is the sticky part of popular sovereignty, and there's probably no really satisfying solution. And I'm saying this as someone in favor of the principle.

Monday, August 11, 2008

OK, it's probably the latter explanation

Accusations Russian hackers are launching a cyber war against Georgia.

Servers in [European] Georgia not responding

Or at least not the one I tried. Not surprising, I reckon, but that tells you how widespread the damage is. I wonder if this is physical damage to the hosting site, heavy traffic, or if it's Russian hackers doing a bit of cyber warfare.

Russians take Gori

Gori's just 60 miles from the capital in Tbilisi. Georgian troops are supposedly pulling back to a town just 15 mi. from Tbilisi.

I've got a good friend there in the capital--my college roommate. Gerry Fernandez, I hope you and the family are safe!

Why Georgia lost the war

The one over in Europe, of course. Strategy Page has a useful article.

"They seem to have gone beyond the logical stopping point"

No kidding.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One thing I'm glad for, though... that in this post-Communist era, European (and in this case, really, "Caucasian") wars and power struggles no longer have quite the ideological stakes they used to. Now it's mostly back to balance-of-power politics and classical wars for land and ehtnicity. I'm gung-ho for our political ideology, actually, but I'm not a gambler, and the stakes were really, really high back then. They seem lower nowadays, when if someone on our side loses, there's less chance of brainwashing and reeducation camps or the wholesale slaughter of classes of people. (contra, see "Balkan Wars (1992-whenever)") You might wind up under a strongman regime like Russia's, but you're not going to be under a totalitarian one.

So in some sense, there's less for me to worry about. And then on the other hand...

Russian warships steam towards Georgia

I'm afraid the war's going to be over very soon, and Russia will have won. Russia's already bombed the port city of Poti, far from the disputed region of South Ossetia.

In principle, I support the independence of just about any state or province that wants it, and I'm in favor of self-determination. So absent the events of this past week, I might look kindly upon the independence of South Ossetia as well.

What I can not support is Russia invading, whether South Ossetia or Georgia in general. This "we're just trying to protect Russian citizens" line doesn't fly. They're only Russian citizens because Russia's been handing out passports to them like candy. This is a little different from the old Russian policy of resettling ethnic Russians in the conquered nations so that the locals would be diluted and the Russian claim would be stronger. But it reminds me strongly of Germany's claims on the Sudetenland in 1938. Sure, it's in Czechoslovakia, but there are a lot of ethnic Germans there, and they're being mistreated by the mean ol' Czechs. We just want to protect Germans, wherever they might be. With tanks. In this case, there are very few ethnic Russians, but lots of Russian citizens, so it works out pretty close to the same.

Charles Krauthammer the other day said that there would be a lot of diplomatic bluster, and eventually the calls for a ceasefire might bear fruit. This would allow the Russian forces to solidify their hold on the region. And then the UN would get around to meeting on this, and they would decide they really didn't want more fighting and would essentially bless the facts on the ground, allowing Russia to keep what it took. I'm afraid he's going to be right.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hot spot in California: ground warms to 812 deg.


Let's regulate the press when it comes to global warming discussion

So a lefty British professor of journalism is advocating a government regulatory scheme to oversee published material discussing global warming. Let's keep this caricature of the Left as the guarantors of free speech and a free press going, right?

Here's a bit from the opposing side. A good antidote.

Obama is pro-inflation but anti-drilling

Dean Esmay does the math on Obama's inflate-your-tires energy plan and says they don't add up. There's some wiggle room in there for Obama, but you've got to give generous interpretations of his words, and even then it's not a practical solution.

One thing technocrats often miss is that they're dealing with live people in a society, and people have their own ideas about how they're going to live and what they're going to do. So while it's good advice to properly inflate your tires and keep the car in good working shape, and most people already do, you won't be able to force the remaining 27% of people (those driving around with seriously underinflated tires) to do your bidding. Maybe a major publicity campaign for inflated tires will reduce that percentage somewhat, but you will always, always have some percentage who won't take your advice. Maybe they're lazy. Maybe they don't have the time or money to go and get the car tuned up as often as you want them to. Maybe they don't want you telling them what to do. And so you won't get to that magical number you've cited for a goal. You won't equal even the predictions for oil from offshore drilling, much less from ANWR.

So: how about encouraging vehicle maintenance and expanding exploration and drilling? Offshore, ANWR, South Dakota, whereever! Put in new nuclear plants, windfarms, and even solar panels. The best of all worlds.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pravda sympathetic to the czar?!

"Russians mark 90 years since murder of Russian czar and his family" Note that word: "murder." This is Pravda. The whole article seems quite sympathetic to the czarist, anti-Communist side. Huh. Maybe Pravda is just as happy these days to take a pro-Russian side, even if that means sounding a little anti-Communist.

Perusing Pravda tonight

"NASA hides the truth about Mars." ("Source: agencies") It's been observed before, but Pravda's turned into the National Enquirer Russian edition lately. Which is probably unfair to the Enquirer, ever since they stopped running articles about UFOs.

bin Laden's driver found guilty

Not that I was biting my nails on this one or anything. But if we're going to have to run the whole war on terrorism this way?'s going to be more of a Long War than anybody's been thinking. Didn't I hear some complaints the last few days that this guy wasn't properly Mirandized? Sheesh.