Friday, March 26, 2010
Reductio Non Absurdum
I was listening to NPR this morning (it happens) and they seemed to be agonizing over one of the few things President Obama is getting right, the use of drone aircraft to kill our enemies in Pakistan and Afghanistan (and Yemen and Somalia, und so weiter). Here is some of the Obama Administration's justification, via Harold Koh:
The U.S. is in armed conflict with al-Qaida as well as the Taliban and associated forces in response to the horrific acts of 9/11.
Right as rain. And he goes on to mention the declaration of war that Congress passed, nearly unanimously, called the Authorization for Use of Military Force. But then he went on and on about minimizing civilian casualties and the many considerations that go into deciding whom to strike.
And if that hand-wringing wasn't bad enough, here is the nearly unbelievable other side, from a Ms. O'Connell at Notre Dame Law:
It really is stretching beyond what the law permits for this very extreme action, killing another person without warning, without a basis of near necessity, simply because of their status [membership in al Queda or related terrorist group].
She seems to be adamant about our inability to fight back, at least in a way to her liking.
But what is that internationalist talking about? Warning? Near necessity? They're the enemy. Since when do we have to warn the enemy of our attacks? If we warned them we'd lose the element of surprise.
Here is my very brief answer to the question, what legal justification does our drone campaign have?
Two sentences: Al Qaeda (and its ally and enabler the Taliban) declared and waged war against us. They are all illegal combatants.
There's nothing else to say. That we tend to blow up the terrorists at their homes and kill a few of their families from time to time is just so much Gadsden flag gravy.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Hearing From Old Friends
Well, they're back.
The schadenfreude is almost palpable here at XDA.
Here is a critique of their last non scientific efforts.
Here is a critique of this year's collection of anecdotes.
And here is my two cents about one statement they made regarding the so-called acidification of the oceans. The quote:
Within only a few decades, an increase in ocean acidity may cause seawater to become corrosive to the shells, skelatons and armour-plating of many marine life forms, and could seriously undermine the growth of coral reefs.
As anyone even semi-educated in science knows, the Oceans here on Earth are neither neutral nor acidic but alkali, or basic. The ph scale goes from -1 to 14 and measures both acidic and basic properties. A neutral liquid, that is, something like distilled water, is a 7, the Ocean is over 8 (8.179 in the 1700s and 8.104 lately). So now you can imagine why fish are slimy, they exude a mucus covering so that the caustic sea doesn't harm their flesh (recall also the chemical burn from lye on the back of Norton's hand in the excellent Fight Club). If indeed the ocean is moving down the scale to neutral and then to more acidic, it is actually getting better for things with flesh as it is getting less basic and more towards neutral. That will be true for hundreds of years to come as it approaches and then reaches neutral. Then it will be ever so acidic for hundreds of more years until it reaches a point it as as antagonistic to living flesh as it is right now. "Within a few decades," my ample ass.
Now if the wee beasties of the sea with limestone shells actually need the sea to be basic for their shells to form, then the ocean becoming less basic is a big deal, but to date, I have never heard anyone say the water needs to be basic, for the shell making chemistry to work-- the complaints are always that acid will corrode the shells and will even stop them from being formed (directly from the known effects of the acid).
UPDATE: The knock is that less basic produces less carbonate ions in the water so that the wee beasties can't make the shells. But, of course, no one bothered to tell the sea creatures.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Whip Count Update
Of course, Rep. Stupak (D) has been offered a deal and will announce if he's changing his mind at 9 am mountain time today. That could be a big announcement.
Labels: Whip Count; ObamaCare
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Still, the President postponed the Far East Trip to June--June!--and they've been leaning on the only Republican, Mr. Cao from Lousiana, who voted for it the first time. If it was going well with the Democrats would they need to lean on a Republican who had previously announced that he was a 'no' on the Senate Bill? Finally, is 'deem and pass' (Demon Pass) a sign of confidence or desperation?
I guess the real sign that the Democrats whips feel they have the votes will be that Speaker Pelosi announces a vote. If it's merely a bluff, then the vote will never come.
Labels: Whip Count; ObamaCarC
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
President Obama's Disasterous Performance on Fox
I'm trying to answer your questions but you keep interrupting!How presidential. This might be the point after which we accurately call Obama's administration a failed presidency.
It was painful to watch.
At least he copped to one truth, even the 5th graders were getting, if the House votes for a bill deeming the Senate bill to be passed and the President then signs it, the House voted for the Senate bill. Do the House Democrats really think there are people who don't always vote for them who will be fooled by the Slaughter gambit?
Monday, March 15, 2010
Law Professor Discovers Amazing Fact That Spies Don't Wear Uniforms
The CIA employs civilians, not military personnel. Some of our predator drones are piloted by CIA personnel. Predator drones armed with hellfire missiles are war weapons (We must therefore be actually at war with al Qaeda and the Taliban, but I don't think he ever actually admits that). Civilians who wage war are illegal combatants, as are those who wage war without wearing distinct uniforms. The CIA pilots of the drones are therefore illegal combatants. QED.
My first response is: No, duh. The CIA is America's center for foreign espionage--it's our spy shop. Spies don't wear uniforms because they don't want to get caught and executed for being a spy. Professor Solis is acting like he's figured out something new and clever; and someone at the Washington Post seemed to think this banality was newsworthy.
Wow, spies are illegal combatants. Who knew? Alert the media.
He also poses this logical fallacy:
Today, civilian participation in combat is still prohibited by two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Although the United States has not ratified these protocols, we consider the prohibition to be customary law, binding on all nations.
Who's this 'we', Kemo Sabe? If the United States has rejected these protocols for 33 years, we (meaning the clear thinking American citizens) don't feel bound by treaty provisions we have not accepted. I guess that leaves the adjunct professor in a wrongheaded minority. But there's more.
And while the prosecution of CIA personnel is certainly not suggested,
Wait, I have to say something about that clause. He's not suggesting that WE prosecute our own spies for being spies helping with a war effort. He's thought about it, but he's not suggesting it, at this time. This guy is truly ignorant. We don't prosecute our own spies for doing their jobs spying on other people, even though we are aware that to be effective spies they can't wear distinctive uniforms (like, I guess, a black T-shirt with 'SPY' in big white letters on the back) and will necessarily be, therefore, illegal combatants. We think our spies are doing a good and necessary job for us, not commiting an indictable offense, a crime against humanity. It's the other side who prosecutes and executes our spies, if they catch them. Back to the article.
one wonders whether CIA civilians who are associated with armed drones appreciate their position in the law of armed conflict.
Sorry, I have to break in again. He wonders if our nation's spies know that they are spies who can be (and usually are) summarily executed if caught? Like Nathan Hale? I wonder if he's really as stupid as these sentences make him seem. Back to his big finish.
Their superiors surely do.
What is the point of this paragraph? To point out that we're doing something wrong by using spies to help in a war effort? To equate our spies with the illegal combatants (not spies) of al Qaeda and the Taliban? To send a message to the higher-ups at Langley that they are condoning illegal combat with the armed drone program? To put them on some sort of legal notice about wrong-doing?
I don't think my questions are unsupported by his writing.
I'm still in wonder that Georgetown University and the Washington Post can conspire to waste so much time, paper and ink.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Reading Frank Rich Rewriting History While Complaing That Others Are Rewriting History
Once the Bush-Cheney failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran again come home to roost, as they undoubtedly and explosively will, someone will have to remind our amnesia-prone nation who really enabled America’s enemies in the run-up to 9/11 and in its aftermath.The run up to 9/11, except for 8 months near the end, was originally enabled by the Carter Administration and metastasized to operational reality during the Clinton Administration who treated al Qaeda's war against us as a nuisance, like shoplifting. The aftermath of 9/11 from the Bush Administration was to take the war to al Qaeda and its enablers and push them to insignificance in Afghanistan and to resounding defeat in Iraq, so that there hasn't been another successful al Qaeda attack on our shores after that, well, at least until the Christmas bomber last year, a plot by the franchise al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. Those are historical facts which Mr. Rich ignores to the detriment of his already tissue thin credibility.
Iran can always be thwarted from getting a nuclear tipped intermediate missile with serious military action. President Bush never did it, but President Obama certainly can. The only failure in Iran will be allowing them to get the bomb. Who's watch it is when that happens (and Tel Aviv evaporates) deserves the blame. Sorry, but it comes with the title Commander-in-Chief. Unless Iran had the bomb in 2009, it's not a Bush-Cheney failure. There are no final failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, just difficult counterinsurgencies. We won in Iraq (thanks solely to President Bush's perseverance) and we probably will in Afghanistan. As Rich reveals, it is always the default position of the American left that whatever a Republican did is wrong and no matter how it looks now, Republican achievements are mirages and will all end in tears.
He then complains bitterly about what he calls the new McCarthyism, (the 101st version by my imperfect count) which turns out this time to be Republican complaints that lawyers who rushed to represent our captured enemies ought probably not be given positions of authority in the justice department deciding the fates of those same enemies. Although Rich decries the name calling from the right (namely the Osama bin Laden 7) he jumps in with his own name calling, namely 'right wing jihad.' Apparently it is McCarthyism for a Republican to juxtapose bin Laden's name with any American Lefty but perfectly good journalism for him to call Republicans jihadists.To the left, America's greatest enemy is not the foreign Islamic fanatics but Republicans.
Then it really gets weird. Digging into recent history Rich writes:
Unless my grasp of English grammar has completely abandoned me, Rich counts the uranium from Africa (16 words in the 2003 State of the Union) as a "fiction" but then links to a site which calls the statement true, even supported by Joe Wilson's debriefing to the CIA. Curiouser and curiouser. Readers of Trotskyite author Christopher Hitchens know that the attempt to buy yellowcake from Niger was just as true a fact as the failure of Iraq to seal the deal and take delivery (Iraq had nearly a hundred tons of yellowcake anyway, now safely in Canada thanks to George Bush's ending Gulf War I properly).
As we’ve learned the hard way, little fictions, whether about “death panels” or “uranium from Africa,” can grow mighty fast in the 24/7 media echo chamber.
There is this penultimate prevailing sentiment with wihich I take issue:
It was the Bush defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who lost bin Laden in Tora Bora, not the Obama Justice Department appointees vilified by Keep America Safe.I believed Osama bin Laden was either killed or mortally wounded at Tora Bora and al Qaeda has since been using an El Cid gambit successfully against us. There has been only one video featuring Osama since then. He had not seemed to age and the only time he mentioned current events in the video it was frozen video and, in effect, just another audio tape. Too convenient a coincidence for my skeptical nature. History will judge who is right and who is wrong in this.
OK, final bit of newspeak:
If we are really to keep America safe, it’s essential we remember exactly which American politicians empowered Iran, Al Qaeda and the Taliban from 2001 to 2008, and why.I think even the basest memory of the period 2001 to 2008 will reveal that the Bush Administration took al Queda and the Taliban apart, and only by being granted a sanctuary in Pakistan have they survived. But back to our real situation. What we face is the extremist fringe of a major religion with over a billion believers. Even if only 2% of Muslims are current or future al Qaeda/Taliban supporters, that's more than 20 million people. Our armed forces number less than 2 million. That's another set of facts Mr. Rich seems oblivious of.
The Republicans have empowered al Qaeda and the Taliban by killing them and driving them from the field. Oceania has always been at War with Eastasia.
Labels: Frank Rich; Democratic Delusion
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Thought of the Day
Labels: Richard Lindzen quote
Political Prediction --- Healthcare Reform
But will it pass? There are certainly 51 votes in the Senate, willng to break the rules to avoid a filibuster. The only thing that could cause it to fail now is the moral courage of the handfull of pro-life Democrats in the House. Whom am I kidding? It will pass. The blogfather Hewitt is admitting it will pass. The intrade prediction market is at 61, down from a 65 high, saying it is very likely to pass. The smart money thinks it will probably pass. (Of course, the same markets show the likelihood of the Democrats holding on to the House in 2010 is at 56--down from a high of 87 just three months ago--and with no flattening of the trend line down). It will pass and it will be a disaster for this country. Way to go, Democrats.
Labels: Political Predictions; ObamaCare
Friday, March 12, 2010
The Empire Strikes Back, Even More Feebly
The unguarded exchanges in the UEA e-mail speak for themselves. [the editorial says "the scientific process" worked as it should have, but calls for an investigation nonetheless] Public trust in scientists is based not just on their competence, but also on their perceived objectivity and openness. Researchers would be wise to remember this at all times, even when casually e-mailing colleagues.Let me translate that for you. Quit revealing how you really think and work, scientists; keep up the fraud (while you 'hide the decline') at all times.
Notice that the editorial did not say "be open and objective, scientists" but merely, "keep on the mask." I find that paragraph very telling indeed.
I have a final question: What the heck is NASA doing spending its time and efforts on a data set of climate info based solely on an apparently cherry picked subset of ground based sensors which have absolutely nothing to do with space, satellites or even aeronautics?
Thought of the Day
Labels: Yuval Levin quote
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Oscar Picks Results
Regarding the remaining 14, I got 6 right. That's not so good.
They come out for the lead actors and actresses and talk to them, then they list the 5 people they just talked to. Stop that. It's stupid. The In Memoriam part was good, as usual, although they missed Farrah Fawcett (she had more movie credits than Michael Jackson, whom they included). The horror pastiche was OK. The interpretive dancing (although very athletic) was just awful. Stop that. I hate to say this, but Bladwin was funnier than Martin, although Martin had the 'licensed fool' role.
Labels: Oscar Picks Results
Sunday, March 07, 2010
Thought of the Day
Labels: Steven Hayward quote
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Take Them to the Bank Oscar Predictions
Best Picture--The Hurt Locker (it could be Avatar--it comes down to $1.8 Billion versus $40,000,000 in box office but in a serious recession, the big draw will be seen as gauche by Hollywoodians)
Best Director--Katherine Bigelow
Best Actress--Sandra Bullock (it could be Meryl Streep but Bullock won the SAGs--this one is close)
Best Actor--Jeff Bridges (for his body of work)
Best Supporting Actress--Mo'Nique
Best Supporting Actor--Christopher Waltz
Adapted Screenplay--Up In the Air
Original Screenplay--The Hurt Locker (it could be Inglourious Basterds)
Best Song--The Misery Kind from Crazy Heart
Best Foreign Film--The White Ribbon
Wild ass guesses:
Animated Feature Film: Up (why wasn't Avatar in this category?)
Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Film Editing--Avatar (and it deserves all of them but Film Editing which should go to The Hurt Locker)
Original Score: Up (but probably Avatar)
Costume--Coco before Chanel (but it could be The Young Victoria)
Documentary Feature--The Cove (I normally would have picked Food, Inc. but for the dolphins)
Documentary Short--Rabbit a la Berlin (like anyone has seen any of these)
Make Up--Star Trek
Animated Short--French Roast (like anyone has seen any of these, Oh, I said that already)
Live Action Short--Miracle Fish (ditto--why do they even have this category--it's not like they play them in between the repeats of the main movie any more)
Labels: Oscar Picks
Friday, March 05, 2010
Second Thought of the Day
Walter Russell Mead
It's ironic that the Goddard Institute of Space Studies is part of the climate scandal as Mr. Goddard was one of the worst offenders I know regarding a closed scientific shop. I'll post something soon about his troubles.
Labels: Walter Russell Mead quote
Thought of the Day
Late last year, Democrats were marveling at how close they were to historic health care reform, noting how much agreement had been achieved among so many factions. The only remaining detail was how to pay for it.
Well, yes. That has generally been the problem with democratic governance: cost. The disagreeable absence of a free lunch.
Labels: Charles Krauthammer quote
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Two Reasons to Take up Archery
The Golden Toad
Labels: Global Warming; Golden Toad
Thought of the Day
Victor Davis Hanson
Labels: Victor Davis Hanson quote
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Thought of the Day
Similarly, if it costs a billion dollars to create one new pharmaceutical drug, then either we are going to pay the billion dollars or we are not going to keep on getting new pharmaceutical drugs produced. There is no free lunch.
Labels: Thomas Sowell quote
Monday, March 01, 2010
What Al Gore Gets Wrong
I'll go with pointing out continued inconvenient untruths Gore is still pushing with links to the sources that debunk them. Gore writes:
...man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures.
These pollutants -- especially carbon dioxide -- have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period.
Almost all the ice covered regions of the earth ar melting--and the seas are rising.
Well, most of the glaciers are retreating (but not all) and some of coastal ice faces of ice fields in Greenland, Alaska and the Antarctic Peninsula are retreating, but in the interior of Antarctica and Greenland, the ice is getting thicker. Because we're in an interglacial, the seas have been rising, slightly, but our most accurate measurements show a recent slight decline. So, in two words--not rising.
Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, although their number is expected to decrease.
How destructive a hurricane is depends a lot more on where it hits than on how strong it is. Of course hurricanes cause more damage lately, they hit built up coastal regions. Gore said in his propaganda movie that global warming was causing more and more powerful storms around the world. He's had to back off the 'more' but even the 'more powerful' is wrong as this chart shows. Cyclonic energy is at a 30 plus year near minimum. There is no detectible global warming signal in this arena.
Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases.
Misinformation from NPR
...in the last 20 years, I would say at least 20,000 square kilometers of ice has been lost, and that's comparable to an area somewhere between the state of Texas and the state of Alaska.What a maroon! 20,000 is less than the size of New Jersey (22,590 square km) and about 2% of Texas. It's just a rounding error for Alaska which is over one million seven hundred thousand square kilometers big.
I'm sure Dr. Ferrigno knows some geology, but she ought to brush up on her geography before she makes a fool of herself before perhaps 100,000 listeners. Everyone makes mistakes, but why do all the mistakes Warmie scientists make slant towards the warming effects being worse than they actually are?
UPDATE: Anthony Watt published a posting about this appalling ignorance today. Good to beat him to the punch.