Monday, October 26, 2009

A Double Cross to Bear

Earlier, I linked to Dick Cheney's very excellent October 21 speech to the Center for Security Policy. Portions of this speech centered on the Obama administration's "dithering" on the question of how best to implement Gen. McCrystal's counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy for Afghanistan (mainly re: how many troops to send and how soon to send them). Embedded in the subsequent back-and-forth on that speech is an example of the sort of chicanery which is merely the latest in a series of deal-breakers for any vestige of a benefit of a doubt I may once have been inclined to give this POTUS' administration.

As summarized by this post by Stephen Hayes from the Weekly Standard, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' peevish prevarication went something like this:
"What Vice President Cheney calls 'dithering,' President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public," said Gibbs. "I think we've all seen what happens when somebody doesn't take that responsibility seriously." Gibbs went on, calling Cheney's comments "curious" and claiming that a request for troops from General David McKiernan during the final year of the Bush administration "sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months."
Gibbs is saying here that the Bush Administration --which, presumably, did not take the "solemn responsibility" to the troops as seriously as his successor is currently running out precious clock cycles to do-- let requests for more troops sit idly by, lacking a clear strategy for the mission of those troops. Pretty serious stuff. Too bad the charge bears not the slightest resemblance to what actually transpired, as cited by Hayes:

"The idea that we just sat on our f--ing asses--it's really a slander," says one senior Bush administration official. "It's just not credible that we didn't take this seriously."
In fact, the Bush administration did ask those questions. From mid-September to mid-November 2008, a National Security Council team, under the direction of General Doug Lute, conducted an exhaustive review of Afghanistan policy. The interagency group included high-ranking officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the office of the director of national intelligence, the office of the vice president, the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its objective was to assess U.S. -policy on Afghanistan, integrating a simultaneous military review being conducted by CENTCOM, so as to present President Bush with a series of recommendations on how best to turn around the deteriorating situation there. The Lute group met often--sometimes twice daily--in a secure conference room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (The group used the room so frequently that other national security working groups that had been meeting there were required to find other space including, occasionally, the White House Situation Room.)
The Lute review asked many questions and provided exhaustive answers not only to President Bush, but also to the Obama transition team before the inauguration. "General Jones was briefed on the results of the Lute review, and that review answered many of the questions that Rahm Emanuel says were never asked," says Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. Jones and Hadley discussed the review, and Lute gave Jones a detailed PowerPoint presentation on his findings. Among the recommendations: a civilian surge of diplomats and other non-military personnel to the country, expedited training for the Afghan National Army, a strong emphasis on governance and credible elections, and, most important, a fully resourced counterinsurgency strategy.
Jones asked Hadley not to release the results of the Lute review so that his boss would have more flexibility when it came time to provide direction for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Bush officials reasoned that Obama was more likely to heed their advice if he could simply adopt their recommendations without having to acknowledge that they came from the Bush White House. So Hadley agreed. (emph. added)
 Got that? An exhaustive, comprehensively interdepartmental review was conducted, comprising myriad meetings, and arriving at recommendations which bear a striking resemblance to those at which Obama's own review arrived. Further, those findings were offered to the incoming administration sub rosa, with the full expectation that  Obama's team could claim credit for them, and implement them seamlessly, and without the political complications of accepting (and having his flexibility constrained by) his predecessor's policy recommendations. See also this quote, via Power Line, from Kristopher Harrison, who served as Chief of Staff to the Counselor of the Secretary of State during the Bush administration, and was intimately involved in the review process for the strategy in Afghanistan:
It is also true that Obama's transition team asked us to hold the Afghanistan review findings, a request to which President Bush acquiesced because (as it was relayed to me) he did not want to box the new president into a narrow set of options. In March, when Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy, I did not notice a single change from the new plan that we had given him...only Obama did not resource it with enough troops.

And how does this Great Uniter repay this professionalism and graciousness? Why, of course, by taking endless swipes at his predecessor's policies, and accusing him of squandering the chance to turn the Af-Pak theater around while "wasting" time wresting victory from the jaws of defeat (and landing some vicious body-blows on al Qaeda) in Iraq.

Whatever. Politics is politics, and class is optional. Obama plainly still believes that he can score political points by trashing the Bush administration, and he is probably right...up to a point. That point begins where the interests of the United States, of its troops and its allies become endangered by political maneuvering at the expense of substantive action on vital issues. On that frontier, Obama is demonstrably floundering.

The stated (and endlessly re-stated) rationale for Obama's sitting on the decision to deploy more troops to Afghanistan lies with the results of that country's demonstrably tainted national elections. Makes a certain kind of sense, since one of the goals of COIN is the fortification of a host nation's confidence in its government by providing security and stability and civil affairs support. If that government is viewed as illegitimate, then there are hard limits on the amount of good which COIN operators can bring about in the field. Therein lies a not altogether incoherent argument for waiting till the the run-off election, and coordinating operations with the hopefully more well-regarded government which emerges from it.

And if we were talking about just about any place besides Afghanistan, that would be a convincing argument. But we're not, and if there is one thing about Afghanistan which has held true for decades, it is that any central government is going to be viewed with suspicion and/or hostility by the denizens of the largely unpaved hinterlands which make up the majority of the country's territory. "Legitimate government" is practically an oxymoron in the average Afghan's eyes, so the niceties of electoral politics in Kabul amount to less than a hill of rotted poppies. 

The task is not so much to shore up a government which is generally viewed as legitimate, as it is to establish pockets of security and the concrete promise of prosperity, by crushing the Taliban and its al Qaeda proteges, denying them re-entry into the communities from which we chase them, and training locals to shoulder the burdens of picking up where we, in due course, leave off. It is from those deeds that the legitimacy of the government which partners with us will arise, rather than descend from some abstraction of a polity, far away in an alien city, whose words the villagers and tribal elders of the primordial hills and steppes are somehow supposed to take on faith, pending the delivery on the promises of foreigners.

Naturally, however, this concept is apt to be just as foreign to an inveterate statist like Obama.

It is, however, worse than even such naivete. As per Mr. Hengists's superb and destined to be oft-cited post on the "pretext of principles," this whole matter of waiting on Afghanistan's elections does not bear scrutiny as anything but a smoke-screen, a cover story for what is more properly viewed as a political matter for internal consumption. Obama is struggling with the question of how to create political cover for the implementation (or  parsing) of a policy which both his hand-picked general and his predecessor's team have determined to have the lowest probability of failure in "The Necessary War."  As the Left wrings its hands about troop deployments, and the Right continues to be embarrassingly supportive of  the policy which Obama articulated back in March, the President feels his hands to be tied...and he is loath to take responsibility to cut the knot.

And so he plays the blame game, shifting responsibility hither and yon, while even NATO grows restive at the delay in declaring a clear course of action.

If there is one thing at which the Bush Administration displayed a singular talent (probably to a fault), it was absorbing the vicious and mendacious attacks of its foes. The Obama team's crass and dishonest attempt to shift its indecision onto its predecessors is hardly the worst political stunt in the history of the Republic, and it is a double-cross which --for all of Cheney's characteristic piss and vinegar in response-- the Bush team is uniquely well-prepared to bear. But it is the brave and long-suffering service-people in Afghanistan (to say nothing of the Afghans themselves!) who stand to be counted as collateral damage in this beltway boogie.

And that is simply inexcusable.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Campaigner In Chief

Scathing (and, thus, fitting) little Telegraph editorial on the eternally stumping and chronically stumped Obama presidency. Not exactly a unique insight -- many have already noted that the Obama camp appears to be stuck in perpetual campaign mode, showing little stomach for the actual business of governing. But it tickled me this morning.

Especially liked this bit:

Late-night comics, although unabashedly liberal and at a loss last year as to how to poke fun at the rather humourless Mr Obama, are having a field day portraying him as a do-nothing prevaricator obsessed with his own image.
"President Obama agreed to commit an additional 40,000 troops to help fight Fox News," quipped NBC's Jay Leno. "Senior White House adviser David Axelrod told reporters that Fox News is just pushing a point of view. Well, yes, but at least they've got a point of view."


GITMO Alumni Update

Via the Long War Journal, comes this addition to the Annals of the Utterly Unsurprising. It seems that a fellow named Yousef Mohammed al Shihri, who was remanded from Club GITMO, into the careful custody of Saudi authorities in November 2007, got himself into a bit of a fire-fight on the Saudi-Yemeni border. This concluded his tenure on planet Earth, but not, apparently, before he'd had a chance to update his Jihadi resume:
Yousef Mohammed al Shihri was repatriated to Saudi Arabia in November 2007 along with thirteen other Saudi citizens. At least several of them have returned to al Qaeda’s ranks. One of those who rejoined al Qaeda is Said Ali al Shihri, who has become the deputy chief of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was reportedly involved in the September 2008 attack on the US embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. According to memos prepared at Gitmo, Said Ali al Shihri is Yousef Mohammed al Shihri’s brother. However, according to a report by Caryle Murphy in the Christian Science Monitor, Saudi authorities have said the two al Qaeda terrorists were brothers-in-law.
Regardless, Yousef and Said were relatives. And their stories demonstrate the pitfalls of the US government’s transfer and release decisions. Prior to their transfers, US intelligence officials at Guantanamo had determined that Said was “a known al Qaeda operative.” Moreover, when they inquired about Yousef, they found that he was considered one of the more dangerous Saudis held at Guantanamo.

Well, that certainly inspires confidence in the policies and procedures governing the disposition of these hapless prisoners of the Booosh Regime. Here's another choice tidbit:

That Yousef Mohammed al Shihri returned to jihad after being released from Guantanamo is not surprising given what the US government alleged about him in three memos written between Sept. 25, 2004 and Oct. 12, 2006.
The publicly-available documents do not include any record of al Shihri attending his combatant status review tribunal (CSRT) or administrative review board (ARB) hearings, so it is not clear if al Shihri attempted to answer all of the allegations against him. However, the US government’s memos note that when al Shihri was challenged with the inconsistencies in his cover story and his lies concerning his time in Afghanistan, he “flatly refused to cooperate” and “told more lies.” It is therefore possible that he never attended either his CSRT or ARB hearings, both of which required voluntary participation.
Refused to cooperate with the review process, eh? All right then, off to the care of the Saudis with you! Thus do the ranks of GITMO transfers and releases who have returned to the field of the Jihad grow still larger. And with around four months remaining till the deadline set by POTUS Obama's bold Executive Order for the closure of the Guantanamo facility, it is good to see that the process continues to remain in capable hands...oh, wait...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

He's Making a List...

Disconcerting stuff. We face real enemies abroad, and it is dangerous folly to turn our attention inward to attack (and endlessly counter-attack) "enemies" here at home.

But this is characteristic of an administration whose focus seems eternally inward, resulting in an involuted, post-modern mess of a foreign/domestic policy. Obama's focus is all-but exclusively on the domestic, on the striving to re-make American society. All other priorities are seen as secondary, since there appears to be a sincere belief that a "properly" re-made America will fare very differently on the world stage.

Well, that much at least is true. But the changes which appear to be afoot do not bode well for allowing the luxury of extensive and expensive societal re-tooling. If nothing else (and there's *plenty* of "else!"), the geopolitical correlates of our gargantuan debt to China constitute a powerful lever on the course of our interests (e.g., how hard to push the PRC over sanctions on Iran...).

The choice of Classical columns for Obama's inauguration may have been more apt than I'd thought. Nero spends his political capital on a Stradivarius.

UPDATE: By the way, here's the text of that speech by Cheney to which Gibbsy chose to make his characteristically snide, waspish, and content-free retort. It is truly superb, and underscores the calamitous injustice which is routinely done to the caliber of leadership we'd had during the opening years of the Long War.

UPDATE 2:  Well, good to see that Joe Biden is on hand to offer a trenchant and substantial response to Cheney's very specific criticisms. I believe he later added "Oh yeah?!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hounding the Fox

For days, I have refrained from commenting on the surreal spectacle of top Obama Administration officials taking to the airwaves and slamming the Fox News channel. I simply could not believe my eyes and ears, and was waiting for some kind of clarity to emerge, some less malign set of motivations to come into focus than those which sprang most readily to mind. After all, the Democratic Party now controls the White House, and both houses of Congress. Essentially all of the major media outlets to varying degrees are supportive of the Left-leaning (or, in the case of MSNBC, the hard Left) currents in American society. This is about as advantageous a position as any Administration has enjoyed in this Nation's history. Why would such an Administration debase itself and call its motives into question by attacking a lone dissenting voice?

In a much-ballyhooed clip from O'Reilly's show, Chris Wallace commented that the Obama White House is "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington." "With these guys, everything is personal," he noted. He is correct. In more ways than one this Administration is shaping up as the bizarro version of the Bush Administration, which arguably did far too little to address the barrage of negative coverage it received from the major news outlets, and so allowed the opposition to shape the narrative to a devastatingly detrimental degree (including -- hilariously -- the notion that dissent was somehow being stifled). By sharp contrast, the Obama Administration seems never to have left campaign mode, and aggressively sweats every negative note, however trivial. Not only is it unseemly and un-presidential, it lends unnecessary credence to the polemics of those who are less than balanced (let alone fair) who opine on the insidious goal of constructing a "State-Run Media."

I don't watch too much TV news, since the sheer volume of information which I feel it necessary to absorb in order to get a reasonably comprehensive picture of what is happening on any given day does not lend itself to the linear crawl of  spoken words. It's a bandwidth issue with me. Mostly, I do watch Fox, though I do tune into CNN regularly. I watched hours of MSNBC, before finally feeling confident that I could justifiably discontinue the practice. My conclusions? Fox's news desk is canted discernibly to the right. CNN's news desk is canted discernibly to the left. MSNBC seems to recognize no clear distinction between the two (that is, News and Op-Ed), lurching dizzyingly to the Left, all the time.

What's interesting to me in the context of this discussion is that I find the news/reporting departments of CNN and Fox to lean approximately equidistantly in their respective directions. Indeed, were one to alternate between the two (as I periodically do), one would get (dare I say it) a pretty fair and balanced perspective on things (though TV news, regardless of editorial bias, is universally biased toward the most lurid and attention-grabbing slant on things. Another reason to use it as a supplement at most). I would be more than pleased to be disabused of this idea, but I have the uncomfortably strong sense that many of FNC's most ardent critics have never seen more of the channel's programming than has appeared in clips on "The Daily Show." I get this feeling from my own attitude during my Liberal days, which could be summed up as "I don't have time to pollute my consciousness with exposure to that vile propaganda outlet's blatherings." It's like I was expecting to find Leni Riefenstahl newsreels or something.

Now, of course, when it comes to commentators and editorializers, the picture gets more murky. I make no secret that I find Hannity to be a shrill chihuahua of a polemicist, and tend to avoid him in large doses, just as I do Michelle Malkin's blog on the Web. He grates on me even when I agree with him. But put him up against Rick Sanchez, Soledad O'Brien, Wolf "Let's fact-check a skit on Saturday Night Live which dared to criticize Obama's Presidency" Blitzer, or Anderson "Tea-Bagger" Cooper on CNN, and the distinction is all-but erased. The latter bunch are so embarrassingly in the tank for Obama I keep waiting for them to get tossed a fish for their troubles. Indeed, last night on "Special Report" (a superb newscast, which even not-entirely-ideologically-hamstrung Liberals would find tolerable...up until the panel discussions in the second half of the hour, anyway), Britt Hume reflected on the Obama/Fox imbroglio and wondered how "our colleagues at CNN and elsewhere like being patted on the head and given the seal of approval by the White House." Indeed, that is the other side of this: to exactly the degree that the White House sees fit to attack and discredit one news outlet, it is implicitly designating others as "Friendly." Were I to consider myself a journalist in at least the stated tradition of the profession, I would (hopefully!) bristle at the notion that I stood to be considered a sanctioned advocate. So much for "speaking truth to power!"

This piece at Politico offers the most plausible (and chilling) account for the White House's otherwise incomprehensible attack on FNC:
A White House attempt to delegitimize Fox News – which in past times would have drawn howls of censorship from the press corps – has instead been greeted by a collective shrug.

That’s true even though the motivations of the White House are clear: Fire up a liberal base disillusioned with Obama by attacking the hated Fox. Try to keep a critical news outlet off-balance. Raise doubts about future Fox stories.

But most of all, get other journalists to think twice before following the network’s stories in their own coverage.

"We're doing what we think is important to make sure news is covered as fairly as possible," a White House official told POLITICO, noting how the recent ACORN scandal story started because Fox covered it “breathlessly for weeks on end.” (emphasis added)

 Let's pause a moment on that last bit. The point that this "White House Official" appears to be making here is that the only reason the ACORN story was allowed to become Big News (you know, the one in which an organization which was the recipient of truckloads of taxpayer cash --with much more to come-- and which was responsible for a large number of votes for Obama --many of them even corresponding to real people-- was found to be riddled with individuals who were willing to help a pimp set up a brothel with underaged Salvadorean illegal immigrant girls, and avoid both law enforcement and the tax code)  was because Fox got "breathless" and the rest of the news media felt compelled to follow them...after a little over a week of dead silence on the matter. Just wanted to make that clear.

Anyway, the point here appears to be a concerted effort to cast Fox as a poison pill, to discredit it with the viewers/voters, and to give other news outlets pause before picking up on any stories which Fox might break. It is, as Britt Hume nailed it, an attempt to "Quarantine Fox," to isolate and drain it of its ability to introduce memes into the noosphere, where they might proliferate, flourish, and interfere with the Obama Administration's narrative and plans. As such, it is both futile and despicable.

Jake Tapper, a rare and admirable straight-shooter of a journalist over at ABC, called Obama's Press Secretary on the highly irregular policy of the Executive Branch arrogating to itself the right to designate a vast media outlet "not a news organization." Tapper essentially asks Gibson where the White House gets off making that call, and..ah, hell: just read the exchange. It's short, but cracklingly on point. It is not  appropriate for a branch of the Government to "work the refs"  in this manner (H/T to Chris Wallace again). It undermines the whole point of a free press in a democratic society, which is to inform the electorate and keep their representatives (their employees!) honest...or as close to it as can be managed, anyway. Just ask your average Venezuelan newscaster what it's like to live in a society in which the media are expected to speak with one voice. I'm not saying that this is the Obama Administration's conscious intent (relax!). But conscious or not, that is eerily akin to the net effect which would come to pass in the (thankfully unlikely) event that FNC ultimately were to be brought down (...though watch out for that "Fairness Doctrine").

This has to stop.

EDITED 10/21 for grammar and flow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Godspeed, and Good Hunting

[by Mr.Hengist]

Awesome: The USS New York has set sail on her maiden voyage to New York City, where she will be commissioned into the fleet on November 7th, 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Meteorites on Mars

Sounds like a good pulp science fiction title. And the lifelong Fan in me bounces around a bit at the thought we live in times in which it refers not to a fanciful film but to a mere press release.

Via the NASA site, comes this announcement that the Opportunity rover has happened across yet another large nickel-iron meteorite on the plains of Terra Meridiani. Study of an earlier such find has yielded some really fascinating insights into the Martian environment into which it careened, apparently a very long time ago:

Opportunity found a smaller iron-nickel meteorite, called "Heat Shield Rock," in late 2004. At about a half ton or more, Block Island is roughly 10 times as massive as Heat Shield Rock and several times too big to have landed intact without more braking than today's Martian atmosphere could provide.

"Consideration of existing model results indicates a meteorite this size requires a thicker atmosphere," said rover team member Matt Golombek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Either Mars has hidden reserves of carbon-dioxide ice that can supply large amounts of carbon-dioxide gas into the atmosphere during warm periods of more recent climate cycles, or Block Island fell billions of years ago."
First of all, let me just say that I looked at these images of this pitted rock, sitting on the sands of Mars, and paused a moment to say, yet again: "Good gods! That's the surface of freakin' MARS!!"

In my office, I have a couple of framed images from Opportunity and Spirit. Every now and then, a client asks me if I took them. And I have to chuckle, for the obvious reasons, and also because the pictures look so lovely, but so commonplace. "Planet" is such an abstract concept. Tickles the intellect, but leaves the glands largely untouched. Now, it's those moments when the reality of a "World" jumps out of these pictures that I just get grabbed but hard. Never gets old.

Anyway, back to the meteorites: I was struck by the above-quoted passage. The very existence of these large, space-borne rocks on the surface speaks to a time when there was enough of an atmosphere to slow them down to the point that they would not get pulverized by the impact. That. plus the numerous finds of near-surface water ice (including some pretty spectacular recent ones) lend further support to models for an earlier Mars which possessed a much thicker atmosphere and probably a very significant amount of surface water. Much of that atmosphere is locked up as dry ice at the poles, a whole lot more adsorbed into the regolith and rocks. Much of the water, it seems, is sitting close to the surface in permafrost (though the possibility of subterranean liquid aquifers can't be ruled out).

First of all, this makes it even more probable that the conditions for the emergence of life were present on Mars for periods of time which compare most favorably with the interval on early Earth in which abiogenesis is theorized to have occurred. Mars, it seems, had what it takes to get itself populated.

Second, it makes it clear that a little bit of site selection research could drop a crewed mission on a patch of Martian land which could provide a rich source of water, and so save a whole lot of mission mass which would have been devoted to consumables. That means a lot more payload, even if you factor in the additional gear for extraction  (long-distance pressurized rover, anyone?).

I actually hope that substantial fossilized but no extant life is found. Changes the whole ethical calculus of colonization-focused missions if there's something alive down there. It gets harder to argue for terraforming when it might obliterate an extra-terrestrial biosphere (imagine the emails from Robert Redford!). It would probably be a show-stopper for intrusive habitation (and I can't say that's a bad thing, mind you, but it would be almost as much of a bummer as a boon). The science would be outrageous, but the promise of a Martian branch of human civilization would be a bust for a very long time...if not forever.

This is not to say that coexistence with Martian life might not be possible. After all, it probably thrived under conditions on Mars which would also be favorable to us (thicker atmo, more water). Indeed, the arrival of Humanity on Mars could be the best thing that's ever happened to the natives.

And wouldn't that be an interesting Bizarro version of colonizations past!

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Nobel Fiction

Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

My primary response is a hearty "Meh."

This post sums up my ancillary thoughts on the matter quite ably.

And, might I add: "Whatever."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh, About That 2007 NIE...

From Hot Air comes this post on a WSJ report indicating that the CIA had full knowledge of the secret uranium enrichment facility near Qom, Iran, when it released its National Intelligence Estimate in 2007. You know, the one which claimed (in contradiction to the information coming from just about everyone else's intelligence agencies) that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weaponization programs. Yes, that one: the one which knocked the wind out of the Bush administration's efforts to apply credible pressure on Tehran to disclose and discontinue its quest for the Bomb.

Quoth Ed Morrissey:
This cannot be explained merely by incompetence.  The facility at Qom had not been declared by Iran as part of its “peaceful” nuclear program in 2007 when the NIE was written.  It is, as the Journal notes, too small for commercial purposes, but perfectly suited for military purposes, which is probably why the elite Revolutionary Guard secures it to this day.  No one with this information could possibly have concluded anything except that the Iranians had hidden its military applications of uranium enrichment in Qom.
I've frequently been astonished at the degree to which many of my Liberal friends are under the impression that the CIA under Bush had been some sort of hawkish, Conservative (or gasp Neoconservative) tool of the Bush Agenda. What I have tried, patiently, to explain is that the CIA is a government agency, staffed primarily by career bureaucrats who stay on across various administrations, and are generally of an academic (read: Liberal) bent. Being in a bit of a rush at the moment (welcome, if exhaustingly full client load today), I'm not able to drop many links (and there are many) which show that the CIA was actively engaged in trying to undermine the Bush administration. Perhaps I'll be able to back-fill that in comments (or maybe Mr Hengist can lend a hand). Suffice to say, this is a particularly glaring example of how the politicization of intelligence has been alive and well...just not in the ways which are likely to find much play on the pages of The Nation.

This is a dangerous disgrace, and I hope that the heads which, in a just world, would roll for this will not come from bodies with too much blood on their hands.

The New Decider

Oh, my.

Some things, you just can't make up.

Via Instapundit comes this post on President Obama's unintentionally (I hope) ironic taste in art.

On this anniversary of the initiation of military action in Afghanistan, however, the humor falls rather flat. Kind of like the art itself.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Controller Doubles Effective Lens Diameter of Telescopes

[by Mr.Hengist]

Mr.Science pulls a technorabbit out of a hat:
"Technology to double the effective lens diameter of the world's telescopes has been invented at the University of Montreal, which recently demonstrated what it says is the most sensitive astronomical camera devised to date.
"The key to the invention is an electronic controller that decreases optical noise tenfold."

Ta-Da! I love technological advances such as this one, which adds what should be a relatively low-cost doohickey to existing high-cost equipment in order to give it a major boost in capability. Congratulations to our fellow propeller-beanied Canuck friends up north. The semi-informative article is here; no word on licensing fees or the cost of the doohickey.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bibi Speaks


It's a term which is thrown about quite a bit. Seldom, however, has it been so apt as it has been when applied to Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before the UN General Assembly. It was a soaring, eloquent, devastating oration about which I just don't feel qualified to comment at any length.

So, I'll just link it here, and let it speak for itself.