Monday, March 19, 2007
Sullivan Re-unhinging Watch: In January, President Bush announced the 'surge' of "more than 20,000 additional" troops. One main worry at the time, voiced by critics including Andrew Sullivan, was that the troop increase wasn't enough. General Petraeus assured skeptics that if he thought he needed more troops, he'd ask for them. Now he's asked for them--an additional brigade--bringing the total "surge" to near 30,000. Andrew Sullivan's reaction: "Another Bush Lie." ... (via Elia) 3:57 P.M.
Wherein lies the greatness of Sen. Fred Thompson? Just asking!All I remember is he was given custody of an important set of hearings--into China and campaign finance--and screwed them up. ... He sounds good--in his John Fund interview he says lots of sensible things (especially about civil service protections). But ideally a presidential candidate has accomplished something--even if it's only governing a state without steering it conspicuously into disaster. Obama hasn't accomplished much, but he's only been in the Senate for two years. Thompson didn't accomplish much in two years plus a full six-year term, no?. ... I'd love to be wrong on this. Please tell me why. ... P.S.: He's a bad actor! I never believe he's the character he's playing (even when the character is essentially Fred Thompson). ... P.P.S.: "Ronald Reagan wasn't Laurence Olivier either." But he was better than Thompson! He met the threshhold test of believability. Anyway, Thompson's acting chops aren't the issue. That was a snarky aside. The problem is ... well, Reagan had governed California for two terms. Giuliani saved New York City. McCain has championed a lot of legislation and passed some of it. What's Thompson done? ... 1:53 P.M. link
Was L. Ron Hubbard a Satanist? L.A. Metroblogger David Markland says "no" after investigating this "urban legend"--but it's one of those debunking exercises that does a lot of bunking too. Hubbard does seem to have been involved, at some level--along with Jack Parsons, the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory--in the "black magick" of Aleister Crowley and his Order Templi Orientis.
[T]he major flaw here is that while while the O.T.O. may be heavily involved in "black magick", it isn't Satanism, although the Satanism that was popularized by Anton LaVey in the late 60s was based heavily on the O.T.O.
Well, alright then!
P.S.: According to a quotation from Paul Young cited by Markland, "Hubbard based his own religion, Scientology, on some of Aleister Crowley's writing including specific symbols, his grading system, his use of hypnotic implants, and the concept of the OTO." I'd say the best parts of this urban legend are undebunked. ... [via L.A. Observed] 11:23 A.M.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I probably deserved this. 4:36 P.M.
The Philandering Politicians' Protection Act: Michael Ledeen reports on a troubling new Italian law that would seem to require a Putin-like control of the Internet to completely succeed. Unless I read wrong it penalizes even accurate reporting on the "sexual sphere." ... In unrelated news, Bill Clinton announced he was moving ... [Isn't there a Ron Burkle joke in here somewhere?--ed I think! But I'm actually scared of getting Slate sued--proof that press laws like this can have a big effect. Just run it past the lawyers--ed At 4 in the morning? It wasn't that funny a joke. Good thing the New York Times can't be intimidated. They'd never go soft on a guy like him.--ed Um ... OK, I missed that interview. But they owed it to Burkle after that "zipping around" line.-ed] ... Update: Maybe this is one of the new EU "privacy laws" Heather Mills McCartney has in mind to promote, just as soon as she's finished Dancing With the Stars. ... Bonus Yent-a-Matic: Heather and Ron! EHarmony could not do better. ... 1:34 A.M. link
U.S. military deaths in Iraq have apparently declined by about 20% since the "surge" began. It would be a caricature of MSM behavior if the New York Times, instead of simply reporting this potentially good news, first constructed some bad news to swaddle it in, right? From today's Times:
The heightened American street presence may already have contributed to an increase in the percentage of American deaths that occur in Baghdad.
Over all, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq from hostilities since Feb. 14, the start of the new Baghdad security plan, fell to 66, from 87 in the previous four weeks.
But with more soldiers in the capital on patrol and in the neighborhood garrisons, a higher proportion of the American deaths have occurred in Baghdad — 36 percent after Feb. 14 compared with 24 percent in the previous four weeks. Also over the past four weeks, a higher proportion of military deaths from roadside bombs have occurred in Baghdad — 45 percent compared with 39 percent. [E.A.]
Soldiers presumably get attacked where they are, not where they aren't. If we deploy more soldiers in Baghdad more soldiers will presumably be attacked, and killed, in Baghdad. I don't see why that in itself is bad news, or even news news, if the overall casualty level is declining. ... There will probably be genuine bad military news to report from Baghdad soon enough. Does the NYT have to make some up before then? [Yes, if Congress is voting on Iraq this week--ed Don't be a raving paranoid. It's like you're giving voice to some irresponsible blogger's dark id! Next you'll be saying that agenda-driven mid-level Times editors might have shaped those paragraphs.] ...
P.S.: If "gunmen" ambush the mayor of Sadr City, wounding him and killing an Iraqi military officer, that doesn't seem like a good thing. But are we sure that it "Hinders Antimilitia Effort," as the NYT headline says. Couldn't it easily help the antimilitia effort if people in Sadr City resent the attack and turn on the gunmen? (When Americans attack popular figures it can backfire on us quickly, right?) ... The Times story itself doesn't tell you one way or another. But it doesn't support up the anti-surge hed. [There's a vote on!-id Down, boy.] ...
P.P.S.: I've been relying heavily on Iraq the Model for news of the battle in Baghdad (in part because I went to see the brothers who blog on ITM talk when they visited the U.S., and I have a clear sense of their good faith). But commenter "piscivorous" at bloggingheads helpfully suggests some other Iraqi blogs to look at, if for some reason you don't completely trust the NYT's version of how the "surge" is going. ... 1:24 A.M. link