Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Will I ever catch up?

Neologism: lulz a corruption of LOL or just why you do anything stupid or funny--"for the lulz" What was wrong with "for the hell of it," I don't know, but I have noticed a distinct change in the sense of humor among people under 30. A lot of what is thought funny just seems pointless and stupid to me. I guess that's lulz.

I can't say why "The World's Dumbest . . ." videos or the headlines Jay Leno shows make me laugh, but they do, just by the surprising incongruity of what you see. Sometimes they're just the true life slapstick that we've always laughed at. Just as being embarrassed makes us laugh, maybe it's vicarious embarrassment for other people who attempt stupid things and fail. You don't want to see people get really badly hurt, although sometimes you wonder how they didn't get killed, and sometimes you feel that bad road rash or a few broken bones are well deserved, but you don't laugh if the person looks permanently crippled or dead. Why do people try to slide down hand rails on their skateboards? For the lulz, I guess.

"Just another compound"

How the raid on Osama's compound was planned, rehearsed and carried out. Our special forces have been doing this repeatedly over the past 9 years, but this one was really special. Delta Force (Army) and SEAL Team 6 (Navy) got this one. The Air Force Predator planes provided intel and up-to-date information. The Army provided the helicopters.

This video calls some of the other reporting I've heard into question. I'm not sure I buy Mr. Suits' views on what Pakistan's vested interest in the Taliban is, but I have no doubt that the government is not as unified as one might think.

An unnamed White House insider undercuts most of the credit we've been giving Obama over the "Get bin Laden" raid. According to this source, Obama was dithering for weeks or months, and was finally had his hand forced by military leaders, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta and his national security adviser. They had been pressing him to make the move, but Valery Jarret, his old Chicago associate, kept him from moving.
This situation continued for some time, though the division between Jarrett/Obama and the rest intensified more recently, most notably from Hillary Clinton. She was livid over the president’s failure to act, and her office began a campaign of anonymous leaks to the media indicating such. As for Jarrett, her concern rested on two primary fronts. One, that the military action could fail and harm the president’s already weakened standing with both the American public and the world. Second, that the attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims, and further destabilize conditions in the Middle East.
The attack would be viewed as an act of aggression against Muslims? Are you kidding? We're at war in Afghanistan and we've overthrown Saddam and are engaged in an attempt to do the same to Qadaffi, and she's worried that this raid might look bad?

So, it seems that Obama's cool decisiveness was illusory and that the dithering that has annoyed us all and his absentee presidency is alive and well. So much for the image of implacable resolve I wanted to see projected. At least our armed services still have that mystique, but our government? Meh.

Meanwhile, the left is predictably reacting to the revelation this morning that bin Laden wasn't armed as was first reported. Why didn't we capture him and bring him to the U.S. and give him a trial? Well, because they weren't stupid. That would have increased the risks of the mission incalculably and given support to Jarrett's concerned. The likelihood of failure would be higher and the rage among radical Muslims would have been far higher. Alive, bin Laden would have been a major problem for us, with civil libertarians whining and filing law suits and the media campaigning for anything that would make us look bad and him look sympathetic. No thanks.

Dead, he's just another dead terrorist dumped at sea, a fait accompli and a failure. What are they going to do? Sure, they'll try to punish us, but this time we're ready, and all it will do is make them look even more feckless. That's how we defeat terrorism.

Al Qaeda has killed 8,000 Americans, but 30,000 Pakistanis, and who knows how many Afghans, Iraqis and other Muslims. The reactions in Pakistan ranged from sadness from a beautiful young woman in Western dress, not even head covering, to a "sigh of relief" from an older man who cited the number of Pakistanis bin Laden had murdered with his war against non-fundamentalists.

Whatever the reaction, America has shown that it is not the weak horse, Osama had assumed we'd be. It's a giant that takes time to react, but does so lethally, even as we go out of our way to reduce collateral casualties and help rebuild third world societies to modern standards by building schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment plants which the terrorists and radicals such as the Taliban strive to destroy. We have our faults, but as a nation I'll put up our values against any other. That we want to share freedom and make a better life for others, I won't apologize for. Killing bin Laden was like picking a tick or other parasite off a friend. God bless the people we're trying to help.

The second-guessing has begun

Jay Carney stated in his press briefing that bin Laden was not armed when he was shot. At least one reporter jumped on that asking why he was not captured. Cue Glenn Greenwald.

A number of reporters asked by the photos of the body aren't being released. I can understand the desire to publish such photos, but considering that he was shot in the face, I think it would be pretty shocking and might not quiet any doubts about identification. I also think it would be indecent of us and extremely inflammatory to many radical imams and their congregants. I can imagine some situation that might persuade the government to release a photo, but I don't really know what it would be.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hugh Hewitt:
There is a dramatic story of enormous courage and competence hinted at in those three paragraphs [cited from the NYTimes report], one I hope is told before long by the participants in the mission. Even though they are obviously the elite of elite warriors, they are also part of an American military which has, in the 10 years since the attack on America, done amazing things with incredible courage and at incredible cost. The actual participants will receive rightly receive an enormous amount of praise and thanks when, if ever, their identities are known, but every man and woman who has worn a uniform over the past decade helped bring justice to Osama bin Laden and they all deserve thanks, as do the civilians who supported them in the long war --the war that of course continues and which will hopefully find out Zawahiri's hiding hole next.
Let that be our constant message to all terrorists and martyr wannabes: "We're coming for you next!"

The Swivel

THAT WAS THEN. NOW ASSASSINATION IS GOOD: New Yorker Mag called the special ops team today hailed by Obama, VP Cheney’s “personal assassination team.”
Now that it might serve Obama's re-election efforts, assassination becomes heroic.

I'm sure there will be plenty of Glenn Greenwald types who in the next few days will start whining about assassination being a bad thing and a denial of civil rights, but right now it is useful to them to hail the conquering hero:
The kinetic military action in Libya has been doing a bang-up job of sapping both [our morale and credibility], and fracturing NATO, for weeks. This unambiguous success helps end that skid, and might just turn President Obama into an actual president. As others have said elsewhere, for the first time in my adult life I’m actually proud of him. I still won’t vote for him and I encourage others to oppose his re-election too, but at least when it was time to make a serious decision, he made the right one.
It could be argued that this is one instance when his dithering worked out, but I have no doubt that, sitting in a room with your advisers, watching an operation like this one proceed gets one's blood up, and you really want it to succeed so that you don't look like Jim Jong Il Carter, after the operation to rescue our hostages in Iran failed in such a dismal, inept way.

After the many years of hearing nothing but negative about our military, Desert Storm and especially the invasion of Iraq filled me will pride and awe that we still had such heroes leading and serving. Yes, there was Abu Ghraib, but that was an aberration, inevitable in a force of half a million. These wars have been fought largely with National Guard Reserve troops, who have performed heroically, especially considering the disruption of their lives and the difficulties faced by those they left behind. Knowing this should make any President leery of launching a war without the commitment to winning it, and letting our people fight without political fetters on their rules of engagement.

Glenn Greenwald forgets that bin Laden declared war on us then followed it up with acts of war:
I'd have strongly preferred that Osama bin Laden be captured rather than killed so that he could be tried for his crimes and punished in accordance with due process (and to obtain presumably ample intelligence). But if he in fact used force to resist capture, then the U.S. military was entitled to use force against him, the way American police routinely do against suspects who use violence to resist capture. But those are legalities and they will be ignored even more so than usual. The 9/11 attack was a heinous and wanton slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, and it's understandable that people are reacting with glee over the death of the person responsible for it. I personally don't derive joy or an impulse to chant boastfully at the news that someone just got two bullets put in their skull -- no matter who that someone is -- but that reaction is inevitable: it's the classic case of raucously cheering in a movie theater when the dastardly villain finally gets his due.
What a weenie.

All these twerps who have made us an overlawyered society deserve to be booed down and sent back to the law library. The law quit making common sense a long time ago, about the time that people began to take "International Law" seriously. The truth about international law is that might makes right. It is observed by civilized nations whose captured troops get tortured into making false confessions, or just for the fun of it, and sometimes beheaded on video. The Japanese didn't honor the Geneva conventions until it became clear they were losing WWII. The North Koreans and North Vietnamese didn't worry about Geneva when they were brainwashing our POWs and torturing them, which is why I find John McCain's logic on waterboarding plain dumbfounding. There is no such thing as "civilized war," but sometimes civilized people get dragged into war by uncivilized people and we have to use violence. The quicker and more massive our response, the fewer of our own people will die, as the history of Al Qaeda's war on us shows. Our concerns about collateral damage let the terrorists kill thousands of our troops and probably several times that many innocent civilians in IED explosions, and detonations of car and human bombs.

I am a retired lawyer. I didn't bother to notify the bar. I was so disgusted with their rules, especially their CLE requirements that cost me time and money I could have used to do my own research, that I just didn't care to be bothered doing it formally. Any lawyer who doesn't double check the rules and case law, deserves to be censured. Practicing law IS a continuing legal education. It doesn't require a rubber stamp. So I just dropped out, to the tut-tutting of my friends, and I'm not sorry. But I digress.

The reason for bringing up my legal education is to demonstrate that I know how Due Process works, and that it's a Constitutional concept that is not shared by the rest of the world, and it is absurd to extend our Bill of Rights to people who would gladly burn our Constitution and us with it, and raise the flag of whatever fascistic regime they follow over our dead bodies. I don't believe in torture, because of what it does to those who practice it, not because I believe that the Constitution prohibits it. The only reason for holding an interrogating terrorist prisoners is to get actionable intelligence out of them. If you restrict yourself to "The Comfy Chair" kind of persuasion, you'll get nothing but spittle and other bodily products flung in your face. If these guys were put in the Hannibal Lecter mask and welded in, it would be too good for them. They don't deserve trials, but we conduct them only to adjudge whether we got the right guys. Beyond that it serves no good purpose to, say, read them their Miranda rights. Of course, they don't know what rights are, let alone what their rights are, because, as I said, they don't have any rights. Terrorism aimed at destroying this country is not a simple crime. It's existential, them or us, and I want us to win and not worry so much about how we preserved ourselves and prevented further harm to our citizens and legal immigrants.

So, Mr. Greenwald, Esq., you're darn right I gave a fist pump when I heard the news that Osama sleeps with the fishes. He was an illegal combatant who had placed himself outside of civilized norms and laws, and deserved nothing but a bullet in the head. The only proof necessary was that he was the one who declared jihad against us. His law is about 1400 year out of date. Go wring your hands elsewhere.

If we can trust judges and justices to make right decisions, I see no reason why we can't trust our highest elected officials to follow the law. They take the same oath, to protect the Constitution and the President has a higher obligation: to protect our borders and our citizens. In recent times, I don't think lawyers and judges have considered the latter to be part of their duties.

Bin Laden is dead. We got him.

So does that mean our forces can come home now?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

I had no idea that Donald Trump had such a sense of propriety especially after hearing him launch a squadron of F-bombs in an appearance in Las Vegas a few days ago.

A chance for another buy-cott. Labor unions are targeting corporations who donated to Governor Scott Walker's campaign, specifically Angel Soft tissue, Johnsonville sausages and Coors Beer. I don't drink beer but I'll be buying the other two just to make my own statement.

Mark Steyn gives us one of those insights that clarifies a vexed issue in an instant. While Congress debates raising the debt ceiling, Steyn points out a fundamental truth: we can't really control our debt ceiling, because once you borrow so much that you can't make the payments, nobody is going to lend to you any more.
Pimco (which has now dumped US Treasuries) estimated last month that, under QE2, 70 per cent of the US Government’s debt is being bought by the Federal Reserve.

In other words, under the 2011 budget, every hour of every day, the federal government spends $188 million it doesn’t have, $130 million of which is “borrowed” from itself.
This is beginning to resemble check kiting.

We shouldn't fool ourselves that money men will go easy on us out of the goodness of their hearts. We are prodigals and, if you remember the parable, the prodigal son squandered his inheritance in a foreign land and ended up in poverty.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. (Luke 15:15-16)
The politicians won't be the ones who suffer. The middle class and the poor and aged are the ones who will be destroyed. People like Harry Reid and Barack Obama, millionaires, won't lose their benefits, but they'll see their wealth eaten up by inflation. Young people with jobs will pay higher taxes and given little in return. We can only hope they learn from our folly.


I'm watching Mt. St. Helens: Back from the Dead. The message is probably not what the film makers would have thought.

What I demonstrates is that even an event far more devastating than mankind is capable of inflicting, nature recovers without much intervention from us. The scene after the mountain's 1980 eruption in some places resembled a moonscape. Nothing but gray ash. Other areas were flattened forests, barren pyroclastic flows, and once sparkling mountain lakes and streams choked with dead trees, mud and dead animals.

But today, the area blasted by the eruption is covered with green, as plants and animals are returning. The mountain itself, in the crater, still looks barren and has created a new lava dome with new material pushing up from the magma chamber below. But these are not ominous since they have lost the gas bubbles from water mixing with magma that creates the explosive force behind the eruption.

The fact is that what are catastrophic events on our human time scale, are healed and recovered by nature. A similar message came from the sites of previous oil spills like the Exxon Valdez and oil well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico. Nature can heal itself. The real damage is to people in the vicinity. This makes sense because volcanoes, oil, tzunamis, earthquakes, landslides are all natural phenomena that have been erupting, spilling and happening throughout the life of the planet. We're not going to kill the earth, even if we wanted to. We can only make things less hospitable to our species and some others. That realization should humble us, but also make us less fearful of using the energy resources the planet provides us. Eventually, we'll move from using fossil fuels, although gas is continuously being produced at the bottom of our oceans, and could be hazardous if we don't find a way to draw it off and use it.

Saul Relative: "Romneycare could be Mitt's 2012 winning political asset. The focus on the reaction of the hard right to Romneycare ignores the fact that it might actually appeal to more centrist and liberal Republicans and to many conservative Democrats disgusted by Obama's fecklessness in managing the economy and anything else.

I've just assumed that having done the experiment on the state level, Romney is the best person to make the case against Obamacare.