Archive for December 2007

Steven Den Beste’s prior works

December 29, 2007

I’ve mentioned Den Beste and his website concerning anime, anime reviews, and similar topics.

Some may have missed out on his socio-political analysis in 2002 on wards, though. You can get a start on that here.  This is only for those that are interested in human dynamics that intersect and react with tactics, strategy, and logistics. If you aren’t interested in learning about such things, then you probably will prefer the lighter entertainment topics.

Anime Recommendations

December 29, 2007

There’s a couple of philosophies available. Usually in America you see anime classified as a single genre along with animation. Doesn’t really work, you know, given the fact that there is no way you can search for what you want under that system. So you usually hear about anime productions from other people that like what you like or like what you don’t like even.

A classical method of searching for anime you might like is regular name recognition.

Miyazaki is the creator of Princess Mononoke and is acclaimed as a master story teller and character creator. In the link you will find a couple of story recommendations with a comparison to Disney animated movies, which are the closest comparison you can get to Japanese anime from US productions.

Disney’s recently production “Enchanted” is a big hit because, I believe, it has more character development than you would usually see anywhere else in American theaters and it is very musical, which is always a big part of Japanese anime popularity in and outside Japan. The musical score must be pleasant to hear, appropriate, and catching. It is there to evoke emotion, to make the audience connect with danger faced by the characters, or as a method to support humor. Used well, and you won’t even remember that it was there.

Enchanted, instead of putting their “theme” music in the beginning and ending credits, they put it on the tongues of the characters themselves. Which brings in the unique American standard of the Song of Music, also a big hit.

Personally I saw a couple of anime shows like Dragon Ball Z, Noir, Fullmetal Alchemist, but it wasn’t until Bleach and Naruto that I became hooked on anime as a specific genre I wanted to watch more of. Before, of course, I was really only able to watch anime on the CartoonNetwork, which was woefully restricted and limited given what the internet, including Netflix, can provide you now a days.

Anime has its own genres or specific themes just like American movies, and you can see some of those genres at netflix, which is sort of a like movie genome project similar to Pandora’s use of the Music Genome project. You have your war drama/love triangle types in anime. You have your fantasy or historically classified types such as Samurai X, Inuyasha, and various other fictional or recreated worlds. This is where Japanese anime delves into Japan’s past of sorcery and magic, sort of like how Americans watch Wild West or James Bond movies. Japanese anime is also fascinated with mecha, represented namely by Robotech and Macross. Then there is the futuristic movie types like Akira and Ghost in the Shell which create a Matrix like future society dealing with robots and other technology of that sort. Techno-punk in many ways. It has a different focus on character design and progression than the latest generation of Japanese tv show animes (which tend to be the most popular syndicated programs).One of the most amusing and charming settings is the “slice of life” settings in which regular Japanese life, usually school and family life, are shown interspersed with various types of supernatural, fantastic, or mystic additions.

A very nice futuristic/apocalyptic utopian movie is Appleseed. It has a nice synthesis of complex motivations for allies, enemies, and so forth in addition to very nice use of computer generated images melded with hand drawn depictions. The futuristic city of Olympia is also an excellent creation in theoretical brainstorming that you probably only see in American science fiction, and only sci fi novels at that. It is very different from Ghost in the Shell in terms of priority and focus. It is also very different from the Risident Evil movie, in that action and character development are split along more even plot spaces than Resident’s Evil 90% action scene and 10% character dev at the middle. Also check out Aeon Flux for the same things I’ve said about Appleseed. There is also an animated series of Aeon Flux that I didn’t get a chance to watch because I didn’t know about it. It was produced by Peter Chung via MTV, it seems. So it would be an interesting way to see how that class takes it.

Many of the Japanese popular anime are produced from manga, comics that is, and translated directly to animated series. And I mean directly. You will actually see exact scenes drawn out in black and white on a manga, on your tv screen in color at times. While this idea is implemented for Spiderman and Superman in America, it is never exactly the same process. The entire “look” of anime starts on paper with still scenes. That is how they communicate suspense, emotions, action, and things of that nature. Whereas in American movies, such things are usually portrayed by “acting” and “special effects”. The manga authors usually start very early by drawing and getting so good at drawing, character sketches, and storyline creation that they just become the single author of an entire manga series, which takes just as much work as any full length science fiction novel published by Baen. It is very different from America’s focus on the director, such as Steven Spielberg, instead of the author of the works themselves, the writers. Both Lucas Arts and Spielberg have written their own plots and scripts, yes, but they are known for their directing, not their writing. While in manga authors, writing and directing at the same thing. There is no split between the two.

Personally, it is very hard for me to see people’s body language, facial expressions, voice tones, when they are fighting full out in some kind of fast paced action scene, you know. Anime slows it down so you have plenty of time to grasp what is going on. Of course, sometimes they slow it down way too much and take 10 episodes to tell a story arc that might have taken nothing but 8 chapters in a manga. A chapter consisting of say 8 pages in a normal comic sized book.

Netflix has a fast and easy method of finding anime that is highly rated in comparison to what you already like. Of course, if you don’t know any that you like, it becomes hard to start without a larger pool to benefit from. For example Dragon BallZ,, Naruto, and Bleach probably belongs to the “character progression through conflict and personal challenge”theme. This is inspired by the martial arts system in which once you master a certain level, there are always greater challenges in store for you to seek or master.

Romantic story arcs in anime tend to be used for character development or love triangle dynamics or harem themes (one man, multiple women seeking his attention), which turns things into half way comedy often.

I started up reading Steven Den Beste in 2002, so I’m one of those that also read his anime blog posts as well. The trick was finding something I liked and recognizing why. I don’t like anime because of the fan service or because of the cute women and girls, which is a far more important rule of thumb for Den Beste than me. He hates watching sad anime endings or anime with dead girls, I like watching anime with lots of killing, tactics, conflict, and what not. I don’t mind nice looking anime characters, of course, but they aren’t really the main show unless the entire anime series revolves around girls, like Sailor Moon.

Don’t know what you would characterize Sailor Moon as. Could be romance, drama, action, modern fantasy, although Japan tends to mix modern fantasy with modern science fiction many times. Godzilla anyone?

I’ve been recently watching Air TV and Mahoromatic via netflix for the former and fansubs for the latter.

Predictions and Emotions from 2003

December 27, 2007

South Vietnamese tanks soon ran out of fuel and stopped. Soldiers dug in and fought where they stood. Then ammunition ran short. They retreated. Then, without hope, broke and ran. It became a rout as desperate soldiers, no longer able to fight, ran home to save their families.

And in America, land of the free and home of the brave, the journalists and politicians who had done this to our former comrades-in-arms — who had first abandoned them and then effectively disarmed them — scoffed. Pointed at the horrible spectacle and chortled. “Look at those worthless people run away! They can’t even defend themselves! They deserve to lose! They were never worthy of our help!”

I was ashamed.

I recalled something I had seen six years earlier while fighting in that war. My ship was stationed off North Vietnam. We did shore bombardment and dueled with enemy shore batteries. One night we saw tracers quite close to the coastline — evidence of a pitched battle there. We went in to suppress the enemy fire. In the morning a boat approached us. Our Captain ordered all hands below decks and all portholes closed. This was top secret.

I peeked. The occupants of the boat were South Vietnamese commandos. They had tried to land up North, but were spotted and taken under fire by the shore batteries. The boat was now sinking. The rising water was pink with the blood of the dead and wounded. We offered to take them all aboard. No, they answered. Could we just lend them a pump and some medical supplies? The last I saw them they were heading back in. I never learned what happened to them.

Now, as I watched all unravel, it no longer mattered. I hated with a savage, abiding fury the cackling fools and Leftist quislings who had deprived me of the America I loved. The love was tarnished now; she had been unfaithful. And they had made her so.

I spent over a year after the fall of Saigon resettling Vietnamese refugees. I resettled soldiers who fled to save their families, having no bullets left to shoot. Some had found their families. Some came out alone. We spent hours, days calling refugee camps and other resettlement agencies trying to locate the missing. The bad news trickled in over the grapevine. A daughter left behind, here. A wife and children, there. A State Department bus had never arrived to collect somebody’s brother.

I met huge, extended families of fishermen and farmers at the bus station in Jersey City, New Jersey. They came directly from the nearest refugee camp, still dressed as when they fled their villages in South Vietnam. These were the men, women and children who abandoned their livelihoods and risked their lives in small boats to escape the Communists — only to be labeled “the wrong Vietnamese” by that great American patriot, Senator Edward Kennedy.

I met a Vietnamese merchant sea captain who — trapped by the advancing NVA in Danang with his family (except for a daughter accidentally left behind) — boarded another captain’s old freighter with hundreds of other sudden refugees and made a break for the sea. NVA artillery fired on them from both sides of the river. Many were killed; blood flowed in the gunwales. The ship — riddled below the water line — began to sink. The freighter captain wanted to abandon ship, but the passengers insisted they proceed. My new friend took command and after three precarious weeks — the ship’s deck flush with the South China Sea, survivors bailing desperately night and day — they made the Philippines.

They eventually came to America, these “wrong Vietnamese.” Senator Kennedy told us that they had just panicked. They would all, he assured us, soon go home. Few did, even after that cold welcome. Instead, hundreds of thousands more joined them in risking thirst, hunger, pirates and drowning on the South China Sea.

The South Vietnamese Embassy in Washington closed forever shortly after the fall of Saigon.  I was the only American there that final night. The staff (including General Thieu’s influential nephew) sat around the conference room talking quietly and, occasionally, crying. In deference to me they spoke English. But, overcome by emotion, they occasionally slipped into Vietnamese; my Vietnamese colleague in the resettlement effort translated for me.

Sometimes these stranded diplomats managed a laugh. “Use our phone,” they said. “Call anywhere in the world. After tomorrow our enemy will be paying the bill.”

Whenever the conversation veered towards their betrayal by America, they would stop guiltily and apologize to me. America, they acknowledged, had suffered greatly in their defense. More than they had any right to expect. It was just too bad….  More tears.

Seventeen years later, when American troops liberated Kuwait City, I wept at the waving flags and cheering crowds. This was the victory my generation and I had been deprived of. But the depression, the anger, the hatred had not been about my deprivation. The betrayal of my country’s honor by the Left — that was the unhealing wound.

Powerful testament, as you can see. Courtesy of Cannoneer.

Logic: The Assumptions and Applications

December 26, 2007

Here’s something I got by googling a book James P Hogan wrote.

 

The next logical question is how one decides whether a given conspiracy hypothesis is valid. It’s pretty easy to dismiss those involving all members of a given occupation/ethnicity/party etc, as well as those postulating unlimited power held by a hereditary cabal, or persecution of a small group which still exists…But what about those less implausible conspiracies, such as, oh, those wherein a powerful nation is manipulated to invade a lesser and unthreatening land to install a puppet government? It would seem those arguing against such a position would be the denialists, if the term is to be taken literally.

Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | April 30, 2007 11:44 PM

 

This is interesting and important stuff. I’m glad you’re inquiring into it on a more global level. I was raised by conspiracy theorists of the Illuminati/Council on Foreign relations/International Communism bent, and I noticed the same thing about them that Booker mentioned above: they believed, ultimately, in just about all of it. (An important caveat to this: They would generally hold out one or two conspiracy theories as ridiculous just to prove to themselves and their listeners that they weren’t just enamored with conspiracies as such. But they would inevitably bring that around to their pet theories anyway, such as the case of the Illuminati guy who had no use for the Area 51 types, because they were being manipulated by the Freemason plotters to focus their energies on something that took their sights off the real conspiracies.)

Posted by: Decline and Fall | May 1, 2007 4:36 AM

 

Pierce,I’d say the first line of defense is Occam’s Razor, but that of course says nothing about whether something is true, it merely points to the more likely conclusion. As for your example, one question you need to ask is this: to what extent have the people in charge of Conspiracy X shown themselves to be competent? This is my standard line against the “Bush plotted 9/11″ charge: how could an Administration that can’t manage to plant WMDs in Iraq or get bottled water to one of its major cities possibly pull off 9/11?The other big question I always ask has to do with the Ben Franklin quote that began this post: how many people would it take to keep this conspiracy going? If the answer is more than 5, I begin to look for other explanations. In the Iraq example, we now know that bureaucratic inefficiency, mismanagement, ideology and intimidation by senior leaders led to an intelligence corps that was unwilling to look at other explanations and a military that was unwilling to stand up to the Administration on its faulty war plan. We know this because nobody has kept their mouth shut about it. So is it a conspiracy or is it a case of bad ideas executed poorly?

Posted by: Decline and Fall | May 1, 2007 4:49 AM

 

Decline and Fall: My “example” was a bit vague: actually, I was alluding to one of the clearest cases of conspiracy in history, namely, the creation of the state of Panama.That particular coup was not initiated at the head-of-state level, which on my pickier days I consider an essential criterion for conspiracy. Many historians seems to accept Nixon’s definition that what presidents do is ipso facto legal, and that plots implemented from the top are simply policy (at least, if they succeed: “bad ideas implemented poorly”, as you note, just don’t cut it).I agree that 9/11/01 seems well beyond the capabilities of the current US regime (though you have to give them credit for adapting and improvising brilliantly in Nov-Dec 2000).That said, I’ve often suspected that the “9/11 truth(y) movement” has roots in a deliberate effort to discredit calls for a better, deeper, less compromised investigation than what we’ve had so far: clearly the tactics of distraction and provocation are within the demonstrated skill set of you-know-who. Otoh, after watching the energy and detail with which people I know are pursuing implausible scenarios, I’m forced to conclude that this somehow taps into a major psychological vein. This implies it may be a legitimate grassroots phenomenon, regardless of the validity of its conclusions.Sorting out what’s what is even murkier than, say, the study of espionage (where at least you know smoke and mirrors are being carefully deployed). A 100% DSM-certified diagnosis of paranoia does not by itself prove that there’s nothing under the bed but dust bunnies.

Posted by: Pierce R. Butler | May 1, 2007 12:07 PM

Hell, I’m not saying conspiracies don’t happen. Julius Ceaser was, after all, killed as a result of a conspiracy. The Reichstag fire was a legitimate conspiracy etc. Criminal conspiracy is quite common, and the default charge for prosecutors who can’t prove something better.

The issue is when people allege conspiracies that simply don’t make sense to explain why they can’t prove their assertions. Like, all global warming scientists are conspiring together to bring down American capitalism, or evolution denialists claiming that the only reason we believe in “Darwinism” is a materialist conspiracy against religion. These are really absurd ideas.

As far as the 9/11 conspiracy theorists go, Bush and Co. can’t even fire prosecutors without being caught in a tangle of lies, they’ve demonstrated incompetence in every single endeavor they’ve put their hands to, even the voting tricks they pulled in 2000 are well documented and a matter of record. So how is it, that arguably the most incompetent person to hold office since Harding, and his various loyal (and equally incompetent) cronies pulled of the greatest and most complicated hoax in history? And that my pet goat thing? If you really were leading a conspiracy, why would you make your public response to an event you knew was going to be happen 7 minutes of embarrassing indecision. GWB is not that good an actor, that was pretty damn real.

Then you see the actual ideas they have about cruise missles hitting towers and “hologram projectors” projecting images of planes hitting the towers and it’s pretty much over. As each idea has successfully been mocked into submission they’ve retreated further and further until now all they do is harp about WTC7’s fall on Fark forums. I won’t really antagonize the 9/11 cranks that much with the exception of those with big soapboxes to scream from like Rosie O’Donnel who has apparently been linking the 9/11 conspiracy cranks from her blog.

Real conspiracies happen, people lie, usually for monetary gain, ask any prosecutor. But a conspiracy theory is different. It’s the weak linking of unrelated facts to explain something for which far better explanations exist that fit the data far better. Anyone with any common sense realizes that the conditions required for scientists to conspire are absurd, for incompetents to pull off the greatest trick in history is equally absurd. It’s a sign of defective thought. Widespread deception simply isn’t that easy to pull off.

Posted by: MarkH | May 1, 2007 12:27 PM

 

 

By now you may have realized from my bolded portions the fact that even though Mark and Pierce disagree somewhat on the “competency” of the Bush administration or their political leaders here in the US, their operating premises, meaning their assumptions of what is real or true, are the same exact foundation. They both believe that Bush or his people not only can have the motivation to do what they believe they did, but already have the motivation and already used that motivation to carry out deeds. What they disagree on is how successful Bush and his folks were, not whether Bush had the intent in the first place. (more…)

Merry Christmas to All

December 24, 2007

And to all a good night, since it is about 10 30 pm at this time.

Roman Civilization in Briton

December 23, 2007

Take a look at this video of letters from Britannia Rome.

Rome, in the Empire stage, used plenty of auxiliary troops with unique fighting styles and abilities. The men of the garrison in question came from the Netherlands, which is close to Germanic-Getai territory.

Used barbarians to kill barbarians, in a fashion.

It also addresses the fact that a combined tribes of Scottish highlanders, they weren’t Scottish back then, just Picts, went and fought Rome on the open field. They died, of course, which motivated them to learn guerrilla warfare. Exactly reminiscent of Arabia’s wars with Israel.

The armor you see in the video is a reproduction of Julius Caesar’s legions, which still used the cheek guard helmets of Thracian or Germanic origin. They also showed full chainmail armored auxiliary spearmen, which looked nothing like the armor Julius Caesar’s men wore. In fact, Rome used segmented steel for shoulder reinforcement. They adapted their linen-thorax armor (which is linen inserted with iron plates, what the hoplites of Greece used) to stiffen the shoulders due to the fact that the Germanic, Thracian, and numerous other tribes used the falx. It was a two handed sword heavy and long enough to cleave through arms and heads as well as heavy armor. It may have been heavy enough to push a legionaire’s shield down and then hit his shoulder with the falx. A reason to have shoulder reinforcement.

For a nice picture of what lorica segmentat looked like, see here.

The primary reason for the Roman’s javelin of choice, the pila, is due to the fact that the soft iron head bends after penetration of an opponent’s shield. It prevents the shaft from simply being cut off, thereby weighing down an enemy’s shield, thus making their shield wall non-effective. There would be at least 2 pilas per Roman soldier. So a legion of about 5,000 can send 5000 javelins at you. These tactics allowed Rome to take on barbarian hordes that were more lightly armored yet outnumbered the Roman legions by more than 5 to 1, and win.

Also, the reason why you see so few casualties amongst Romans as opposed to the thousands on top of thousands of dead barbarian enemies, is due to the fact that most of the dying occurs when one or the other side starts routing. Armor played a part, but most of the dying comes when you run. Then the Roman cavalry can just ride you down all the way until sundown. Hannibal Barca was able to kill most of the 80 thousand Roman army at Cannae because Hannibal encircled the Romans and beat/cut them to death. Course that was very hard on Hannibal’s own forces, given the fact that a surrounded foe will fight very hard when there is no avenue of retreat. On Death Ground, Sun Tzu called it, fight.

It is interesting to compare what went on in Brittania Rome before as opposed to Britain now. Both nations of both time lines had problems with barbarians. Both had problems fighting a central authority and foreigners. Things tend to get swapped around in history, of course, but the dynamics are fundamentally the same.

One faction fights another faction for dominance. That is the story of the human race. Not even the power of the Left or the Goracle’s Global Warming jets can undo that condition.

Ethical Dilemmas

December 21, 2007

An interesting analysis of what is ethically demanded when you know a crime is going to be committed.

General McCaffrey on Iraq and Rumsfeld

December 20, 2007

This post is in response to McCaffrey’s assessments about Iraq which you can read here. Sourced from The Belmont Club: More on Iraq

There’s no way that the problems with bureacracy, even DoD bureacracy, can be changed in the few months that Petraeus has had to work counter-insurgency in Iraq.

McCaffrey is intermixing tactical flexibility and “leadership on the ground changes” with Secretary of Defense macromanagement policies. There is nothing the Secretary of Defense can do, same as Bush, when it comes to matters an entire ocean away, if the military commanders an ocean away don’t want to fix the problems correctly.

This is because neither Bush nor Rumsfeld were going to overrule their military commanders and micromanage. McCaffrey definitely saw problems fixed, but he has no evidence to say it was fixed because of a change in a single man, called Rumsfeld.

Healing the Moral Fissures in the Armed Forces – The leadership of Secretary Bob Gates in DOD has produced a dramatic transformation of our national security effort which under the Rumsfeld leadership was characterized by: a failing under-resourced counter-insurgency strategy; illegal DOD orders on the abuse of human rights; disrespect for the media and the Congress and the other departments of government; massive self-denial on wartime intelligence; and an internal civilian-imposed integrity problem in the Armed Forces—that punished candor, de-centralized operations, and commanders initiative.

Admiral Mullen as CJCS and Admiral Fallon as CENTCOM Commander bring hard-nosed realism and integrity of decision-making to an open and collaborative process which re-emerged as Mr. Rumsfeld left office. (Mr. Rumsfeld was an American patriot, of great personal talent, energy, experience, bureaucratic cleverness, and charisma—who operated with personal arrogance, intimidation and disrespect for the military, lack of forthright candor, avoidance of personal responsibility, and fundamental bad judgment.)

It really is a personal axe to grind, due to the fact that McCaffrey knows as well as anyone else that Rumsfeld wanted to resign after Abu Ghraib, and then once again, but the President overruled him. Because Rumsfeld is a patriot, Rumsfeld withdrew his resignation from the President.

McCaffrey is engaging in cognitive dissonance to believe and say that Rumsfeld did not hold himself personally accountable, while recognizing that Rumsfeld left office and thus “things changed”. Yes, things changed, but Admiral Fallon and Petraeus was NOT promoted and assigned under Gates, if you recall.

I suppose if most of the military high command from Vietnam were blaming the problems on Iraq on Rumsfeld, then obviously they were not focusing on solving the problem as Petraeus has shown how to do.

Rumsfeld may indeed have been an impediment, but only due to the blindness of people like McCaffrey. Such things always occur in team dynamics. The team may have made a wrong decision, and a single member may have been “right”, but if that member can’t work with the team, then the team ditches the member. Pure self-survival reflex.

Every war needs a scapegoat for defeats. This has been true even when Athens won a war but their general overstepped his time limit.

It doesn’t mean that this is about a sudden instantaneous transformation just cause Rumsfeld finally resigned, due to the fact that Bush somehow got convinced change was needed due to the electoral defeats in 2006.
Due to the fact that when I tried to recall if in fact Admiral Fallon and Petraeus was assigned their commands under Rumsfeld or Gates, I couldn’t remember the exact date of their being assigned, I went back to check on this information for accuracy.

Even if Gates did, for some reason or the other due to a shift in Presidential strategy, assign new commanders, the question then becomes why. If Abizaid and others had to go, why if Rumsfeld was the problem and when Rumsfeld had to go then Fallon and such folks could then “speak” more openly than they could under Rumsfeld?

There’s more than one ways to look at it.

Rumsfeld and the President may have already decided that if the Republicans lost the election because the American people was no longer convinced by the President’s strategy, the President would accept Rumsfeld’s resignation, get somebody else as head of DoD, and also clean out the army commanders that Rumsfeld had to work with and thus were basing their strategic overview on.

This would make the question of who decided to replace Abizaid and who decided to reassign Admiral Fallon, moot. Since obviously there was a change and people, not just Rumsfeld, had to go. Contrary to McCaffrey’s descriptions that Rumsfeld went and that by itself changed things for the better due to an improvement in leadership.

There were a couple of links I had found on this subject matter.


I looked in the google archives for the dates. The election results came in around November 10. On January 5, Michael T. Klare of thenation claimed that Gates announced the command change for Abizaid.

Part of the explanation for this move, of course, is a desire by the White House to sweep away bitter ground-force commanders like Abizaid and Casey who had opposed an increase in US troops in Iraq and argued for shifting greater responsibility for the fighting to Iraq forces, thereby permitting a gradual American withdrawal. “The Baghdad situation requires more Iraqi troops,” not more Americans, Abizaid said in a recent interview with the New York Times. For this alone, Abizaid had to go.

There was some talk of Abizaid already having a 2 year tour extended. There seemed to be an expectation that he would leave soon after the mid term elections. Casey was due for reassign in summer or spring though, so his was stepped up, which is consistent with the analysis that Bush wanted to clear the deck, starting with the top military and civilian leaders beholden or responsible for the failed strategy in Iraq.

Another argument against McCaffrey’s claim is that Petraeus served as trainer of Iraqis and also helped write and publish the Army’s new COIN manual. He also made it available to everyone.

How could Petraeus have taken such effective action, such as turning the entire Iraqi training scenario around so that it could even be feasible to think that Iraqis could take over for Americans, if Rumsfeld was as McCaffrey described him as?

Other people may have noticed this or not, but Rumsfeld when he answered questions about military investigations in Abu Ghraib and other such incidents always spoke that he would never comment on it because that would be interfering with an internal investigation. This seems to imply that Rumsfeld, like Bush, prefers a hands off style of management and leadership. Let the subordinates pick and choose what to do and then give them what they need to do it.

This, also, as you may have seen, can lead to people accusing Bush of micromanaging and overruling his military commanders. That thing about Schumaker and more troops, and the accussation that Bush fired him cause Bush didn’t want to hear any dissension amongst the ranks.

Nation link


The New York Times actually had a pretty thorough report for once

I’m not basing my views on such news reports, of course, given that the signs about Bush changing strategy was already there given his speeches between 2006-7.

Bush is very loyal to his people. He wanted Abizaid on because Bush thought Abizaid could get it done. It took a lot of things to occur to convince Bush otherwise.

We could get into lots of problems over who decided what and who decided which person would get command of Iraq and Central, but I don’t think that really matters in light of the limited point McCaffrey was making.

If Rumsfeld helped to decide or recommend Petraeus or Fallon, then that invalidates McCaffrey’s praise of Petraeus and Fallon while slighting Rumsfeld’s abilities. If Rumsfeld had no part whatsoever to do with the President or Gate’s decision to clear the rest of the deck, then McCaffrey’s comments about Petraeus, Fallon, and the changes in Iraq also have no bearing on Rumsfeld’s leadership abilities not bringing success in Iraq. For Casey and Abizaid, the generals Rumsfeld had under him, couldn’t bring success to Iraq either. A leader takes responsibility, yes, which is why Rumsfeld tried to resign and then withdrew his resignation. Twice if inside reports are true.

The only thing we know for sure is that Rumsfeld and Bush did what the military commanders on the ground wanted and publicly spoke about many times. As the Iraqis step up, we will step down. The solution to Iraq is for Iraqis to create security, not us. Petraeus has the same goal, except he said that Iraqis won’t step up unless we step up with them and demonstrate our courage and strength. Such a philosophy allowed Petraeus to improve the training of Iraqis from miserable to moderately successful. Giving him command of all combat forces in Iraq has done a lot more than that. That we know with as much certainty as there can be.

A couple interviews Mike Wallace did on religion and atheism

December 20, 2007

Wallace: What is your personal attitude about atheism? We have heard from certain atheists that the whole conception of God is unworthy of free men. They say that it’s almost, in a sense, contemptible for a man to fall on his knees before God. What is your attitude toward atheists?

Niebuhr: Well, you are asking two questions there. My personal attitude toward atheists is the same attitude I have toward Christians, and it is governed by a very orthodox text: “By their fruits shall ye know them.” I wouldn’t judge a man by the presuppositions of his life but by the fruits of his life. And the fruits — the relevant fruits — are, I’d say, a sense of charity, a sense of proportion, a sense of justice. Whether the man is an atheist or a Christian, I would judge him by his fruits, and I therefore have many agnostic friends. That’s an answer to one question. I might say that the debate between atheists and Christians is rather stale to me, because the Christians say, “You must be a Christian, or you must be a religious man, in order to be good,” and the atheists will say — as you quoted one of these atheists as saying — “It’s beneath the dignity of a free man to bow his knee to a god, as if he were a sinner.” The truth about man is that he has a curious kind of dignity but also a curious kind of misery, and that is what the various forms of agnosticism don’t understand. The eighteenth century always talked about the dignity of man, but I rather like Pascal’s words, “The philosophers talk to you about the dignity of man, and they tempt you to pride, or they talk to you about the misery of man, and they tempt you to despair,” and then, says Pascal — this was written in the Cartesian age — “Where, but in the simplicity of the Gospel, can you hear about both the dignity of man and the misery of man?” That’s what I say to the atheists. On the other hand, I also say, it is significant that it is as difficult to get charity out of piety as to get reasonableness out of rationalism.

As you can see, good stuff.

Not because of Wallace though.

Here is also the Journalist Code of Conduct that you may be interested in reading. Look at all those loopholes on how to crush and exploit people.

This post of mine is, of course, inspired by Neo’s post about how Mike Wallace said he would not even try to do anything to save soldiers if Mike knew they were going to be attacked.

For Libertarians or those that know of Ayn Rand, she did an interview with Mike as well. Youtube vids here.

All Out Assault

December 19, 2007

On those assaulting the foundation of American strength and progress.


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