Archive for March 2005

S.M Stirling’s The Prince coauthored with Jerry Pournelle

March 31, 2005

I’ve just finished reading The Prince, which is a collection of the entire Falkenberg Legions and Sparta storylines they have ever written, and I must say that this bundle was better than the synopsis led me to believe. It delves deeply into the near future and a culture that we see the signs of, but have not irreversibly doomed ourselves too. It explores human nature, government, and the role of the military when everything has fallen down. It explores this through Falkenberg, a military genius. There’s a lot of fun watching him solve problems using his military force on various worlds colonized by the CoDominium. And the last two stories, were more gripping than the others. Because while Falkenberg fought for a concept, civilization, rather than any particular nation it was always easier to see his mercenaries as professionals in the farflung future. Not so with Sparta, the Spartan militia and brotherhoods reminded me all too often of the American revolution, the American founding fathers, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This world of The Prince, is a world where America never became a hegemon, never became sole superpower, and therefore never pushed the Soviet Union to disperse. This is a world where colonies, like Sparta, have to fight a war of Independence from the criminals that the homeworld sends to them as refuse. The criminals use classic terroist and guerrila tactics, the same ones they are using in Iraq. The terroists kill, hit and raid, kidnap, and perform all sorts of atrocities without any consideration for the rule of law or the laws of war. Thereby excluding themselves from law itself.

Except the guerrilas have the backing of the only superpower that exists in the story, which is the CoDominium. Iraq has the backing of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Minor powers at best. To see them fight such an insurgency to create a life without terrorism for their children on Sparta, was very gripping and brought home just how lucky we are to be living in an age where the American hegemony still exists, still exists to fight terrorism rather than appeasing it or using it as a means to take over our enemies.

A deserter is surprised!!

March 30, 2005

Pablo, take note:

The only surprising element about how this story has unfolded is that it took this long for the Navy to formally charge you. We can only guess as to the reasons behind the delay. Perhaps the Navy just wanted to make sure they did a very thorough investigation before moving forward. Maybe the powers-that-be believed a delay might stifle some of the excitement about your case in the anti-war movement. More likely, there was some bureaucratic SNAFU that had to be worked out.

Regardless, the outcome of the investigation was inevitable. You did, in fact, miss ship’s movement, by your own design. You did, in fact, take an unauthorized leave of absence from your assigned duty station. These are the charges against you.

What did you expect? I’ll bet someone convinced you that if you filed a very thorough conscientious objector package, there was a chance that those charges would never be filed. I’ll bet you thought that chaplain’s endorsement of your CO package was your silver bullet. I’ll bet you thought the Navy was going to quietly let you go, to avoid a big stink.

Well, as Red Forman might say: “Pablo, you’re a dumbass!”

EuroNews Part 4

March 30, 2005

Kosovo news

UN News and others

Investigators of the United Nations oil-for-food program in Iraq said yesterday there wasn’t enough evidence to show that Secretary General Kofi Annan knew of a contract bid by his son’s Swiss employer. However, they criticized the UN chief for not properly investigating possible conflicts of interest in the matter.

Annan cleared… and you can believe as much of that as you want.

Crude futures gained only slightly on Wednesday, staying above $54 a barrel after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said it has suspended talks on a second output increase.

If I didn’t know better, I would think they are trying to squeeze us for money. Of course, I do know better, they are squeezing us because of fear of reform and free market forces that would break Opec’s monopoly if Iraq started selling oil cheaper.

The UN has run Kosovo since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) drove out Yugoslav troops in 1999 amid grave human rights abuses in the fighting between Serbs and Albanians. Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo outnumber other ethnic groups, mainly Serbs, by about 9 to 1.

The Iraqi people and American foreign policy dodged a terminal blow when the UN pulled out of Baghdad. I guess we can thank the terroists for doing that, if nothing else. When push comes to shove, the UN turns tail, but it is also when the US shines the most.

He either fears his fate too much
Or his deserts are small
Who dares not put it to the touch
To win or lose it all.

We should all remember that, lest we give the UN any legitimacy in Iraq. I always suspected Bush’s appeasement of the UN and world international affairs on the advice of Tony Blair and Colin Powell were a dangerous and misguided policy.

EuroNews Part 1
EuroNews Part 2
EuroNews Part 3

Bleach Episode 25

March 30, 2005

Bleach’s Episode 25 has some interesting differences with Naruto. In that in Bleach’s episode, the humour is spaced quite evenly through the 18 minutes. That means however, that when anything serious comes up, it never stays serious. There’s always some absurdity going on or something else equally laughable. While it’s funny, for sure, it totally ruins the seriousness of that particular segment.

When they’re in a human spirit cannon-ball and they’re about to hit a shield and get separated, the episode still depicts the rivalry between Ichigo and an Indiginous Forces ally in ridiculous terms. This kind of warping between seriousness and the threat of imminent death with humour and absurdities, is very unsettling. Unlike Naruto, which paces humour into one episode.

You will clearly know which episodes of Naruto are the funny ones and which are the serious “mission” orientated ones. It is consistent with the story arc as well, some story arcs are small and funny while others are long and serious.

No need for legal guardians

March 30, 2005

Terry Schiavo might be palatable to those who worry not for Judge Greer’s impartiality, but who are they trying to kidd here by saying ADJUDICATION without jurires are A-Okay?

KEVIN adds: Not just state-approved, but state-ordered. If the mother had agreed that there was no hope, that’s one thing. But to go against her wishes is abusive. Nanny-statism at its worst.

The Roman Legion

March 30, 2005

Great overviews of the organization and political influences of the Roman Legion.

The no death penalty slippery slope

March 29, 2005

No death penalty means real criminals are treated as the victims. That is just how it is.

Michael Totten and the collapse of the Conservative Coalition

March 26, 2005

Michael Totten is smoking something when he says the conservative majority is breaking up, seriously. This is a guy that when he went and traveled to Tunisia, as he does to everywhere else in the world, is surprised that is he greeted with some sort of celebrity status simply because he told them he was an American. He just didn’t seem to understand the why, because he asked a German friend at time visiting Tunisia as well, if they were invited to tea with Tunisians all the time. He didn’t get why Americans were considered, because he does not understand the psychology nor the basic human motivations that drive all of us. Humans want order, but with too much order comes stagnation which requires chaos to keep in balance. Too much stagnation brings about total entropy, and too much chaos never brings about any balance of order at all. A world in chaos is the world composed of anarchists, and that is a world we do not want and are privilege to not live in.

Free advice for Republicans! Purge Tom DeLay. You pitched Newt Gingrich over the side, and he was far less worth the bother than the former vermin exterminator from Texas. (Good God, is it really that hard to find respectable normal people for the top roles in Congress?) Give James Dobson the Sister Souljah treatment. Give him the Energizer Bunny of Sister Souljah treatments until he bitterly hates your guts. (I know, I know, that’s about as likely as Nancy Pelosi kicking Michael Moore in the balls on national TV while wearing her heels.) If you think Dobson and his ilk can keep you in power while you’re pissing off the left, the center, and the center-right moderates you’re proving Jane’s Law all over again.

First of all, nowhere in his post does he mention how the Republicans already purged Pat Buchanan and the paleo-conservatives (i.e. the White Supremacists pi isolationists). Second of all, nowhere does he justify how anyone is stamping on the center or the center-right. Going on the word of Andrew Sullivan and those who would trust Sullivan’s judgement is NOT my idea of credible.

Here, I’ll show you why.

The “conservative majority” sure didn’t last very long.

Eric Deamer volunteered for a get-out-the-vote campaign to re-elect President Bush in New Hampshire. He even had a gun pointed at his head for his efforts. But now he regrets that decision and pens his own essay in the emerging “buyer’s remorse” genre among intellectuals of the center and center-right.

To justify this stance, he points to Deamer’s post, which conveniently is based upon Andrew Sullivan’s remarks. What a nice causal chain we have here, and the weakest link is Andrew Sullivan.

There is an emerging consensus among intellectuals of the center-right that the conservative movement is falling apart under the stewardship of the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress. I’d heard talk like this for awhile and generally found it to be premature, but in this week of Schiavo and steroids the idea is now pretty much inarguable.

Well, well, well… I remember that there was a consensus that the conservatives who backed the war were now criticizing the hell out of it. People like Thomas Friedman for example. That was supposed to have been the sign of the end times, if you listened to people like Andrew Sullivan, which Beamer did. Too much talk about intellectuals will get to your head. And not in a good way.

So, let me portray this scenario as it is rather than how people would want it to be. The idea that the conservative coalition, which somehow won both 2002 and the 2004 elections, was splintering between the conservatives and the neo-conservatives, was shot the frack up by the January 30 elections and Fallujah 2 in general. It was shot to hell, and that was why you see Beamer saying it was premature. Victory renders all reports of defeat, “premature” in retrospect. In the Schiavo case, there is no victory as of yet, if any can even exist in such circumstances, so obviously you can’t say in retrospect that the rumors of the breaking up of the conservative winning coalition was premature. What you (they) can say, like many said about the Iraq, was that it was going to the pots. And when they are proven wrong, they aren’t worried because they can always be proven right sometime in the future. Which is right about now, it would seem.

Waiting for the conservatives to fight among themselves, is not an effective strategy for doing anything. It wasn’t concerning the war on Iraq and it won’t be concerning social and domestic issues.

Gone are the days when Ronald Reagan said: “The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralised authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”

Have they learned absolutely nothing about the rants of some people concerning “neo-conservatives”? Just what do they think neo-conservatives are, if not a new brand of conservative?

What the Republican coalition is losing, is in fact the old isolationist, paleo-conservative remnants. Sort of like the Old Guard in Middle East terms. Old, tired out, got no fresh ideas nor youthful motivation.

Those days are not gone, they are simply over with. Ronald Reagan didn’t have to fight the War on Terror, he had to fight the Russians while at the same time preventing a nuclear holocaust in every part of the globe. Small-government conservatism is just that, small. Very, very small. It is small because of the rules of politics and of human beings. Human beings want things done for them, and they expect it out of their representatives. Just listen to the Schindler’s demanding that Jeb Bush use his “powers” to save Terri from the hell “Bush” put her through. Interesting use of logic.

The only difference between small-government conservatives and neo-conservatives is that the small-government conservatives don’t have any projects that cost a lot while the neo-conservatives do. It’s all about what human beings want. If they want something that the federal government cannot give, then the logical progression is to have the federal government leave you alone. If a human being wants something more ambitious, government will have to be more involved. That, is just causality and causality is the basis of reality. Something to remember in the times ahead.

The Republicans have plans to intervene directly in many people’s lives — spending billions on sexual abstinence education, marriage counselling, anti-drug propaganda, a war on steroids, mentoring programmes for former prisoners, and on and on. Got a problem? Bush’s big government is here to help.

Are we going to stop ridiculing “compassionate conservatism” now or what?

Bush means what he says and says what he means. If some people repeated that a couple of times each day, they might understand some things that are lost on them.

Where Republicans once believed that states should have priority over the federal government, Bush has pushed in the opposite direction.

I don’t remember Abraham Lincoln saying the states somehow had “priority” over the federal government. Then again, I actually know the history of the United States.

If the federal government is to be the government of the people and by the people, then it can’t allow some other state with plenipotentiary powers and sovereign rights to interfere with the federal government’s social compact to the people. The federal government is the one that guarantees your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with their highways, military, and strong central executive command structures. As well as the organizational charts required to mobilize the defenses and economy of 50 disparate but conjoined states. States are there because a local government is better able to represent people’s “interests” which are not so dissimilar to mob rule all in all. Organizationally, a state is structured the same way as the federal government, but realistically the differences are more than skin deep.

Republicans never believed that the state had priority over the federal government. The Republicans have always believed in the power and importance of INDIVIDUAL rights. The power of the people, cannot be abridged and filtered through a state and then to the federal government. Americans fought a Civil War putting that issue down once and for all. They were reluctant to give power to the federal government because they believed the state was their only government at the time of the Revolutionary War when the Republicans were formed.

The state does not guarantee your rights, not ever.

This long blog post by Sullivan also makes some good points. He includes a pretty damning quote from Fred Barnes which makes it clear that in his view concerns over due process under the constitution are to be trumped by the religious Rights interpretation of morality (in the Schiavo case).

Gee, I hadn’t realized Fred Barnes was the face of the Republican conservative coalition nor that he was a representative of the Republican conservative coalition in government… [/sarcasm]

Of course, he is neither, so somehow Fred Barnes is the justification for threatening signs to the Republican coalition? Get Real.

And George’s appeal to “civil rights” depends, of course, on what you mean by “civil rights.” Where gays are concerned, George’s belief is that gays have no fundamental civil rights with respect to marriage or even private consensual sex.

Andrew Sullivan’s pet issue is the gay rights dang. A black man has the same civil rights as a white man, the right to life (no lynchings by the KKK), liberty (No miscarriages of justice here by a white jury), and the pursuit of happiness (Which means you have the self-determination to pock yourself or make something of yourself). Roosevelt added a freedom to the list, but that’s why he also served 4 terms as President.

So, when Sullivan says “civil rights”, what the heck does he mean? If gays have all the rights to a common law marriage but is classified as a civil union simply be feat that they are woman-woman and man-man rather than the usual hetereosexual mix, what legal or moral or constitutional rights are they denied? From listening to gay activists, I can tell you. They are denied the right to “acceptance”. Because they know they are different and apart, they want to force real married couples to recognize them as being no different from them in moral terms. Therefore, it is logical to force the issue via the courts and through legislation. Which they tried, but which also failed.

The right to free speech is part of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Because without a free conscience, there can be none of the above. But the right to free speech nowhere dictates that you have to accept what other people want, simply because they declared their wants. If a group of people wanted to be recognized for who they are, they should stop trying to coerce people through courts. Instead, they should meet them face to face and try and convince these people over through free speech. Just as the proper response to the Churchill dang was to expose him with more of his own free speech, the proper response to gay marriage is to treat them equally, but without saying everything that the homosexuals want us to say. Freedom of conscience, but not freedom of action. Sullivan, in concentrating on giving gays whatever they want, tramples on the rights of everyone who disagrees. Is burning the flag, right or wrong? What the pock does that matter, you can’t STOP them from doing so, not with violence or legal force of any kind. You can’t force hetereosexuals to believe something is right when they believe something is wrong, not unless you want the position of Big Brother. You can and should force hetereosexuals to treat homosexuals as equals.

Given a man of such limited capacity to judge the veracity of issues, it is no wonder he is absolutely clueless concerning what “George’s” real position on gays are. Maybe he should have listened more closely to the candid taped telephone conversations that appeared a few months ago.

When Sullivan went on about this stuff in the past I used to think he was being a bit overwrought. Who can argue now? I still think his criticism of Bush’s conduct of the war has been far too harsh.

A man of such vaunted and perceptive a mind as Sullivan, obviously got everything right about Iraq… I don’t think so.

Not even close, actually. There are two major kinds of people who supported the war. The “realists” and the “idealists”. Neo-conservatives combine both, which is why I don’t include them. The Realists are the ones left over in the conservative coalition from the Cold War days, when they thought anything good for American national security was good for the world. That wasn’t exactly so, however.

The idealists were the ones that said anything that achieved their ideals, was good for both American and the world. Obviously, that could be problematic if their ideals were bad. However, in the case of the Iraq war, our ideals were liberty and justice for all. And the only downside to liberty is that it requires blood and vigiliance to both acquire and maintain.

In short, idealists were ready for a high price. The realists’ entire objective was to give America a sort of tax exemption. So after the victory party that was the fall of Baghdad, both idealists like me and realists like Friedman and Sullivan and Beamer, thought the war was over and the easy part to come. Obviously, that kind of morale high has its consequences when we hit reality. Just as it had consequences for the Republicans and Lincoln in the first year of the Civil War, when the Union almost took RIchmond and ended the war until they were pushed back by a number of successive Confederate victories. Obviously, the Union’s high morale sunk into near ZERO when that occured. But human beings are variable and react differently.

That is why the realists started nagging about this and that, left and right when they were unhappy about the casualties and the nada nada. Whatever, they were worried and upset and felt betrayed because of their morale has gone from sky high to somewhere approaching freezing. The idealists like me, felt the pain of the casualties, but we took the drop from the high morale better than most. Because we were already prepared to lose much in the fight to gain something greater than the sum of its parts. Liberty was the goal, and liberty requires much sacrifice because it provides for all other things. It is like the First Cause in causality, the basis of reality. Rather like the first reaction of a series of chain reactions that ultimately create an atomic explosion. And like a chain reaction, the difficulty lies not in maintaing the chain reaction but in getting enough activation energy to start the first reaction. Of course, atomics power cities and submarines as well as make bombs.

The realists really did think war was a game and would be won because America was a superpower, they really really did. And they were surprised when human ingenuity in the form of guerrila and terroist attacks came. Surpise is the one thing that nobody can be prepared for. A surprise is the only time when your plan survives contact with the surprised enemy.

And that is why Totten needs to stop smoking and see reality as it is. Because until Michael Totten – the liberal that took until 29 years of age to figure out that college liberal activism was sort of wrong somehow – figures out that realists and idealists in the “conservative coalition” are motivated by different things, he wil keep seeing things through a smoky haze.

In fact, there’s a case to be made by someone less dull-witted than I that, by engaging in the bold gambit of invading Iraq, Bush and his cabinet set in motion such powerful forces of change in the Middle East that anyone could have been the next president and simply watched the positive developments in Lebanon and elsewhere. Kerry, of course, would then have been trumpeted as the great liberalizer of the Arab world by the mainstream press. But hey, history is full of ironies right?

In conclusion, this quote has so many things wrong with it I don’t know where to start.

First, Bush is like Lincoln. Lincoln could have started the Civil War and then obtained Antietnam, then declared the Emancipation Proclamation, and people would argue as you’ve heard it now that Lincoln has already done what was necessary and that any buffon could take the Presidency and win the War of the States to a satisfactory conclusion.

The reality is, the people who understand reality enough to begin a war that is necessary are the only people can who bring that war to a successful conclusion. Vietnam should have taught us that, if nothing else had.

When people say Bush has done enough, what they really mean is that they believe the war in Iraq constitutes the time between the invasion and the fall of Baghdad. The reality is, the war “in” Iraq means the War on Terror that is fought in the theater that is the ME, specifically Iraq. Not that OIF was a war in itself. Operation Iraqi Freedom was only one operation, a battle you might say, of a much greater conflict. Just as the Battle of Fallujah 2 was. There is no such thing as winning the peace after winning the war, when we took more casualties winning the peace than winning the war. That’s not a peace, that’s a war preceded by one single successful battle of that war that was misrepresented by the media as the end all and be all to victory in Iraq.

Kerry, of course, would then have been trumpeted as the great liberalizer of the Arab world by the mainstream press. But hey, history is full of ironies right?

As to history being full of ironies, I believe what would have happened is that Kerry would have told every other country in the world that they were on their own when dealing with totalitarianism and fascism and what not in his state of the union speech. 180 degrees different from what Bush had said. Therefore, Lebanon would have feared Syrian reprisals far more than the Syrians feared a Lebanese reprisal. Saddam proved very well how long he could stay in power so long as the United States trusted the UN to do everything of worth in the world. Saddam is a lesson every Middle Easterner knows. And when Kerry gets elected because of a defeatist will even after taking Saddam off, but not killing him, every other dictator would have realized that America really was a paper tiger.

This means that instead of Kerry presiding over the successes in the Middle East, Kerry would have presided over massive relatialiations by the tyrannies just like Tianamen Square. And people would have said that Bush was the fault of it all, and was not (in a snide way) free from dealing with the consequences of his actions.

It is true, history is full of ironies.

UPDATE:Beirut is being terrorized.

If you were living in Beirut, would you be pleased and consoled by the words of a Kerry administration that the war on Terror was a “police action”? Would you face bombs in order to protest, when you know the entire world has forgotten you? Those who believe Kerry would have presided over the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, are way too optimistic in their reality predictions. As least when their predictions conform to their prejudices, they are.

Democrats are the rich and useless

March 22, 2005

If conservatives are self-made millionares and self-reliant individuals, why do most people believe Republicans host the most “big business” proponents?
Because they haven’t been checking the new demographics, that is why.

Where can you find trustfunders? Not scattered randomly around the country, but heavily concentrated in certain areas. Places with kicky restaurants, places tolerant of alternative lifestyles, places with lots of art galleries and organic food stores and Starbucks competitors. The heaviest concentration is in the San Francisco Bay area, which, Kotkin says, has the largest percentage of trustfunders of any major metro area in the country.

Lance from Iraq Part 2

March 22, 2005

Aside from the military trying to get as much experience for their respective branches through Operation Iraqi Freedom, it is still a pretty good piece of humour, both respectively grim and frivolous.

The sort of thing a Christian might do to prevent bad luck, adding one to 666 to avoid bad Omens.


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