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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Review: Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier

My latest book review at Amazon:
Shannon is much more even-handed than we have come to expect in histories involving Native American interaction with whites. The Iroquois are not always the good guys in this telling, as indeed they were not always the good guys in fact.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why can't I think of lines like this?

"There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs."

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Verdict on Honduras

"The Law Library of the Congress of the United States (LLC) has issued an opinion on the removal and expulsion of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras. The LLC’s conclusion: Zelaya’s removal was legal but his deportation from the country was not."
This is not a shock. There has been mention in the press (not enough, to be sure) that Honduras government seemed to have acted mostly legally in Zelaya's removal. What could possibly have possessed the Obama administration to publicly and strongly support a crazy man, legally removed from office?

Update: LLC Report in PDf:
(H/T Washington Examiner)
The Constitution no longer authorizes impeachment, but gives Congress the power to disapprove of the conduct of the President, to conduct special investigations on issues of national interest, and to interpret the Constitution. In the case against President Zelaya, the National Congress interpreted the power to disapprove of the conduct of the President to encompass the power to remove him from office, based on the results of a special, extensive investigation.

Friday, September 25, 2009

French 'cowboy up', U.S. sings Kumbaya

I bow to no man in general bigoted contempt of the French but, when even they're suggesting we're pussies, some self-evaluation might be called for.

Oddly, I didn't see this report in the U.S. press. (Kidding. There's nothing odd about the U.S. press ignoring this.)

From the Telegraph:
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, came close to mocking his American counterpart for the good intentions, which Mr Obama had heralded as an "historic" step towards nuclear abolition, even though it set no specific targets or fresh mandates.

"We live in a real world not a virtual world," the Frenchman told the 15-member council. "And the real world expects us to take decisions.

"President Obama dreams of a world without weapons ... but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.

"Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.

"I support the extended hand of the Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map," he continued, referring to Israel.

The sharp-tongued French leader even implied that Mr Obama's resolution 1887 had used up valuable diplomatic energy.

"If we have courage to impose sanctions together it will lend viability to our commitment to reduce our own weapons and to making a world without nuke weapons," he said.

Mr Sarkozy has previously called the US president's disarmament crusade "naïve".

(H/T: Maura Flynn

Iran's Nukes (the ones they aren't making anymore)

In November of 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Community judged with "high confidence" both that "Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program (in 2003)" and "that the halt lasted at least several years." Now it turns out that during the transition between the Bush and Obama administrations (in late 2008) the incoming president was briefed about Iran's covert nuclear facility that is causing all the fuss today.

The 2007 NIE report essentially made it politically impossible for the Bush administration to aggressively confront Iran. After all, our own intelligence community was stating Iran had stopped developing nukes. But one year after issuing such a dramatic, policy-impacting report, the same intelligence community briefs the new administration that it possesses knowledge of Iranian covert nuclear facilities.

Is it just me or is there something very wrong with this picture? Just like in the Valarie Plame "scandal" it seems to me that instead of believing the Bush administration was "politicizing" intelligence, there is reason to wonder whether anti-administration actors within the intelligence community were themselves issuing politically-minded intelligence reports?

You can read the 2007 NIE here.

Honduras Update: You can't make this stuff up

"Honduras' fallen leader told The Miami Herald he is being subjected to mind-altering gas and radiation -- and that `Israeli mercenaries' are planning to assassinate him."
Well, sure. Mind-altering gas. Israeli mercenaries. Of course

So, not only has the U.S. government backed a guy that was lawfully impeached and deposed by the entire legislative, judicial, and military arms of a democracy for blatant attempts to become a dictator, but it also turns out that he's, well, nuts.

And people were worried about Sarah Palin making foreign policy mistakes?

(H/T: Powerline)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spot the problem...

Headline:
Criminally insane killer disappears from B.C. psych hospital

Paragraph 1:
"A man convicted of two murders in northeastern B.C. has disappeared from a psychiatric unit(.)"

Paragraph 3:
"(He) left the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital ...with authorization but has not returned." (emphasis added)

So who's crazier, the homicidal maniac, or the retarded idiots in charge of keeping homicidal maniacs off the streets?

'Witchcraft' killers of albino boy to be hanged

The only part of this story that isn't a weird, pathetic indictment of human nature and ignorance is the 'hanging' part, which is good.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Honduras Mess

Commentary in today's Wall Street Journal.

So, about those climate models...

A couple articles today in National Review OnLine:

Garbage In, Gospel Out
"Longer-term forecasts (more than 5 years) are futile because so-called experts can make anything they want up (.)"

The Dog Ate Global Warming
"Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature."

About time India did something useful with some of those stray dogs

From Times of India: On the border, stray dogs are Army's new best friends

Anyone who has been to India knows what a huge number of stray dogs there are. They are literally everywhere. When I was in Hyderabad I figured you could probably go to any part of the city with a varmint rifle and a box of low-velocity .22's, and you would be able to fill the bed of an F-150 with dead dogs in about an hour.

But using them against terrorists is an even better idea.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How American Health Care Killed My Father

Not my father. The title is from this article in last month's The Atlantic.

I think David Goldhill makes an important contribution to the debate.

The Knights Templar were framed

Don't know why this occurred to me recently but in case you weren't aware, the Knights Templar were not suppressed and disbanded for anything they did wrong. They were suppressed because, as is usually the case, a political leader wanted more money and power. The Vatican documentation (from 1308 - as in, the year 1308 AD) is here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leonard Cohen recovers ...

...after collapsing onstage in Spain

I didn't know Leonard Cohen was still touring. The resaon he's still touring is a crying shame. I guess a retirement is never truly "safe". Hell of a song-writer and, considering he's 75 years old, a hell of a man.

I hope he's okay.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Acorn's "Röhm-Putsch"

Looks like Congress is moving fast to help the administration throw Acorn under the bus. The organization certainly seems to deserve it but the suddenness is breathtaking. And the two kids that made it happen have re-set the standard for citizen-activists of any political persuasion.

It was eventually bound to happen and probably sooner rather than later. Acorn as an organization has been such a volatile crew that it either has to be used continuously, or it has to be disappeared. There isn't any maintenance state for an outfit like this. If you breed and train attack dogs you either use them to attack things or you put them down. You can't keep 'em around as family pets or use them as seeing eye dogs.

The Acorn people should have read their history better.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Watchmen Movie: Best Dialog

Ozymandias: "It doesn't take a genius to see the world has problems."

The Comedian: "Yeah, but it takes a room full of morons to think they're small enough for you to handle."

Since the wife was out of town this weekend I got to indulge my addiction to action movies without committing to watch a romantic comedy in exchange. So I watched Watchmen. The movie itself was every bit of the glorification of stupid socialist/secularist mythology I expected. The action was 'eh' and the only sex scene was okay (Confession: as a normal male I can effortlessly ignore ridiculous body-armor costumes and stupid plots if the girl is naked and pretty enough).

But I loved the Comedian's line at the top of this post. It should probably be sent via email to everybody in Congress (and the President, of course).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Health Insurance Whining

At National Review Online a commenter wrote to Mona Charen about the lack of affordability of health insurance.

The writer complained,
If you're a 29 year old software designer and you want to live in a one-bedroom apartment reasonably near where you work and you want a car and cable TV and a lifestyle that approaches normal for a college grad with a white collar job, you need to be making a lot more than 300% of the poverty level before you can shell out for health insurance.

This is pathetic. I’d rather have a private apartment than have to share with room-mates, but I have no right to demand society subsidize my preference. Long commutes are a drag but, again, why would I expect other people to pay the rest of my bills so I can afford a higher rent in a location closer to my work? Car? What kind of car are we talking about? One of my vehicles is a 1988 Bronco II with a couple million miles on it that I bought for a thousand dollars in 2000. Does the writer think other people should pay his health insurance so he can lease a more expensive one?

Cable TV? Don’t even get me started. And the infantile whine about “lifestyle that approaches normal for a college grad with a white collar job”! Here’s a clue, skippy: The life ”style” you can afford is the one you can, well, afford. If you need someone else to pay your health insurance so you can spend your own money making sure no one mistakes you for some blue-collar working schlub, I submit that you suck ass at priority-setting.

This kind of crap really burns me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walkabout in Vizag

A former colleague still stationed in India posted some video on YouTube. He was just taking a walk in the city of Visakhapatnam (more commonly known as Vizag). It's on the east coast, on the Bay of Bengal.

Brings back memories.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review: Sea of Faith

I just posted a review at Amazon of Sea of Faith: Islam and Christianity in the Medieval Mediterranean World by Stephen O'Shea.

I didn't care for it much:
Elegant attacks on medieval Christianity are half of what makes Mr. O'Shea a fashionable writer. The other half is his fawning treatment of Islamic despots based on their urbane coolness. One gets the impression that for O'Shea the depredations of, say, Mehmet II are more than made up for by Mehmet's building of a hip and cosmopolitan city in Constantinople (right after he and his army slaughtered, raped, and pillaged the original Christian population).