Monday, May 30, 2011

Environmentalist Victory! One Step Closer to a Utopia of Stone Knives and Bear Skins!

I am authentically pissed about this!

It reveals a level of information processing for which a central nervous system is altogether optional, a primitive tropism more suited to algea than anthropos. It is just the sort of unreflective herd-'thinking' which led me to cease --with extreme prejudice-- referring to myself as an "Environmentalist" a long time ago.

Yah, let's turn a net energy exporter into a land of rolling brownouts (when the wind dies down) and imported Russian gas (when you don't offend them), because of the great risk represented by all of those infamous German earthquakes and tsunamis....oh...wait...

Agent K: "A person is smart. People are dumb, dangerous, panicky animals, and you know it!"

In-fracking-deed. Alas, Dr. Crichton, you left us too soon!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Afghanistan: They'll Cut (a deal) and Run

[by Mr.Hengist]

The initial reports had the casualties at 80 dead and 120 wounded in Charsadda, Pakistan, on May 13, 2011. The attack was loosely targeted at a training center for Pakistani security forces. One bomb killed cadets and, notably, bystanders at a nearby market. The second bomb, by design, killed first responders tending the victims of the first bomb. In this how the Taliban expressed their sympathy and anger, in deeds fitting their words, at the U.S. having sent ObL to sleep with the fishes. In deeds, how like ObL and Al Qaeda; their aims and methods make for a well-suited match. It's a timely and poignant reminder of why we unleashed our fury on them in the aftermath of 9/11, and a rebuke of our having let so many flee to safety. We should have done a better job of cutting off their escape routes and killed them in in far larger numbers.

POTUS Obama reluctantly fulfilled his campaign pledge by increasing our troop presence in Afghanistan by paltry numbers. Having done so, POTUS Obama is now once again looking for the exit. Instead of redoubling our efforts in response to Taliban atrocities, the Administration "has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban" and "U.S. officials say they hope [this] will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July." Let's hope the Taliban don't cut a deal until at least the next round of U.S. elections so that we can replace these Democrats before they can run away.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two Shots and a Splash

[by Mr.Hengist]

The news came late and I was already visiting the Land of Nod, during which all I could dream about was making stock. Vegetable & meat stock in my slow-cooker. All night long, dream after dream. I kept waking up and thinking, "Augh, another one - why can't I have better dreams?" I've been planning on making that dream come true this weekend when I'll use my slow-cooker for the first time to make vegetable/meat stock, and I've been sort-of looking forward to it, but spending a whole night dreaming about is kind of lame.

When I woke up and checked the news I learned that another dream had already come true. A desire, really, not a dream - an angry, blood-lust desire for death upon that POS ObL. I read the banner headline and, as is typical of me, I had no reaction but an unverbalized need to read more, to learn more, to put the headline into a context into which I could weigh its veracity. ObL dead, they say, but we know that many of Al Qaeda leadership have been declared killed many times, only to pop up alive again whack-a-mole style. The more I read the more certain I became that it was a believable claim, although I will admit that when I read that the body had been dumped at sea I had my first verbal thought, which was "How convenient." I'm a skeptic by nature. I guess it just takes time to sink in when the news is big; further reflection elevated the probability of the truth status of this news to high. OK, look, I hadn't had any coffee that early in the morning and, in retrospect, it probably would have helped things along. The news started to sink in when I got into the shower.

ObL is dead. Well, good.

Surprisingly, that's all it's amounted to for me, in terms of the emotional resonance it's had on me. Not triumphalism, not jubilation, not even satisfaction. Pity, that; I'd hoped to get more mileage out of it. Granted, I'm not one for celebrations in general, but I've gotten more jollies out of finding a stray sawbuck on the sidewalk. I'm not sure why. I still feel anger and sadness at 9/11 when I think about the horror of that day, and I still feel the hot anger and bloodlust well up when I think about the jihadists and their evildoings. I don't know and I'm not going to dwell on it because it's not important. ObL is dead and that's a good thing, even if that's all there is to it for me.

Kudos to our combined intelligence and military which carried out the mission, with well-deserved accolades to follow. Surely the kill-team need never buy their own drinks again. Kudos to the Obama Administration for following through with the pursuit and having the cojones to execute when the opportunity was established. Really, you have to hand it to POTUS Obama: candidate Obama said he would go into Pakistan to get high-value targets, and, by Crom, he has. He's long-since stepped up the missile attacks inside of Pakistan, and with this mission he's ordered a boots-on-the-ground assassination of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, highest value target. May the Cambodianization of Pakistan continue until we've reached a satisfactory outcome.

There's snark and criticism to be had at the expense of the Obama Administration, yes, but it's mostly persnickety. I will add the following thoughts:
- Assassination mission against ObL, not "kill or capture": good. The potential for intelligence gleaned from interrogation has little promise in this case. Let's face it: there's nothing we could offer to coax it out, and this administration would probably not extract it by force. The fiasco of trying to apply the due process of a civil prosecution which we've already seen with the Gitmo detainees would go to 11 for ObL; better to avoid it altogether.

- Burial at sea: good. For exactly the reasons given for doing it, it's good. Granted, my first impulse was far more excessive even than Glenn Beck's ("wrapped in bacon"), so much so that I will not sully this blog with my dark and profane fantasies, but I've reconsidered the matter and the disposal of the corpse as it was done was the correct strategic decision, IMHO.

- The ever-changing details of the mission: sadly, it's to be expected. I've come to the point where I note with a mental "Asterisk of Doubt" all information we get in the opening days of crisis. Even seemingly unmistakable chunks of a story can later turn out to be altogether wrong.

- Not releasing the ObL kill-photo: my loss. I'd like to add it to my collection, as a trophy. At any rate, the era of photographic "proof" has passed for this kind of thing, as everybody knows that, given enough time and a motivated forger with good photoshop chops, one can fake such a thing. It reminds me of a podcast to which I'd listened of an event at the Heritage Foundation, "The Role of Psychological Operations in Strategic Communications" in which one of the speakers describes talking to Afghan villagers after 9/11 and how they didn't believe it happened, even after being shown video. Oh, they knew about airplanes, sure, because airplanes flew over the skies of Afghanistan, but skyscrapers? Why, everyone knows you can't build a building that high! They were convinced it was some kind of Hollywood trickery. At any rate, there is an accounting to be made amongst the Leftists who oppose the release of the ObL death-photo yet clamored for the release of Abu Ghraib photos - another time, surely.
Not surprisingly, there's a chorus from Liberals that the death of ObL means we should get out of Afghanistan. As if that was ever the point. Well, I'll give the hippy-dippy peaceniks credit for consistency on this: when things go well, they see that as a reason we can finally leave, and when things don't go well, they use that as an argument for why we should leave. They did that for Iraq just as they're now doing it for Afghanistan; it's sort-of an unfalsifiable assertion in that regard.

This is why it's important for the Obama Administration to make it clear that our fight wasn't just against Al Qaeda, but rather it is against the jihadists who seek to destroy the West and subjugate the world under Sharia Law. Sadly, of course, he won't do any such thing, as neither he nor Democrats in general seem to believe any such thing.

At the very least there must be a dear price to be paid by Pakistan for their complicity and aid to Al Qaeda, and the jihidists who fight us and our Allies in Afghanistan and India and elsewhere. Perhaps Obama has the temerity to cut off aid; I suppose it possible he might more closely ally the U.S. with India. I'm ready to be pleasantly surprised - but not hopeful.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on the End of Osama

I have just quaffed my last shot of Paddy's Irish whiskey, purchased in Ireland, which I've been saving (since 2002!) for this very occasion. It's been confirmed that Osama bin Laden has --at long last-- been removed from the equation.

Some of my friends have been expressing unease about the celebratory frame with which we greet the death of another person, however ghastly his acts in this life. This disquiet is to their credit, in a broad, humanistic sense...I suppose.

After all,  we all begin as infants, seeking milk and warmth and comfort, innocent and without stain.

But those who grow to make it their life's work to deny these things to others have parted ways with the mass of humanity to whom very much empathy is owed. I am not unmindful of the loss at the heart of Osama's loss of heart. But nor am I inclined to shed a tear for the stilling of that cold, twisted organ.

The world is now a fractionally better place.
Some expressed discomfort with the 'eye-for-an-eye' quality of Osama's death, expressing a preference for a more New Testament approach to such things. Maybe it helps to think of this more as a "render unto Caesar" thing than an 'eye for an eye' thing. It is not mere vengeance nor even 'retributive justice' to end the life of one who actively and passionately strives to end the lives of others. As I said, a while back, whatever one's narrative of how it arises, the chilling subordination of essential human empathy to the merciless logic of ideology must be resisted with every sinew of our civilization, for the sake of civilization itself.

This was less an act of  'payback' than it was an immune response.
Some have voiced misgivings about the potential for retaliatory strikes, to avenge the death of  'the Emir.'  This is not a concern which is lightly brushed aside. It is a very real possibility. However, one of the few things for which I all-but-unreservedly give credit to this Administration in its otherwise feckless and incoherent foreign policy is the blistering tempo of operations --via drone strikes, primarily-- against the command structure of al Qaeda within Afghanistan and (arguably more importantly) Pakistan. The capacity of that organization to mount operations has been very severely degraded compared to its past capacity to project force. By no means can the will of al Qaeda to inflict retributive damage be discounted. However, the logistical and command-and-control capacities of that organization have been scrambled quite devastatingly. This is not to say that the "franchise operations" which have come terrifyingly close to snuffing out countless lives in recent years will not land a blow, which they will attribute to revenge for their fallen leader. But can anyone seriously argue that such strikes would not have been in the offing in any case? If anything, timetables may be accelerated to seize the occasion, thus providing more opportunities for critical, actionable errors and breaches of OPSEC.

It's been a while since OBL could realistically be called the head of the snake. But this is one mortal coil about whose shuffling off I have no qualms in hailing most heartily.

The whiskey, after all, did age most deliciously!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Keynes/Hayek Throw Down

(H/T to Mike-The-Lone-Reader-Of-The-'Cyte)

I am in awe at the sheer density of awesomeness in this vid. I'd seen it linked elsewhere, but was deterred by the 10-plus-minute runtime. Silly, silly 'Cyte. It's a pugilistic rap-battle, pitting the top-down, interventionist Keynesian model against the free-market, Classical Liberal position of F. A. Hayek. Hilarious and well-produced, and informative, and surprisingly balanced.

Worth. Your. Time.