Friday, March 31, 2006

Tell Me

So today SecState Rice is in the UK, with a typical crowd of venomous and inane protesters in attendance, and states that "thousands of mistakes" were made in Iraq.

Tell me - what did you expect?

Mistakes, accidents, and reverses are nothing new. Look at World War Two - coming on the heels of the victory in landings in Niormandy and moving from victory to victory across France, the Allies experienced two major
disasters in less than four months - Operation Market Garden and the attack in the Ardennes (which led to the Battle of the Bulge). The first was a daring operation that could have worked - but its execution was botched. The second was a combination of major failues - failure of intelligence, of judgement, and of preparation.

War is a vile creature, and once loosed the random chaos bites both target and master.

But that's not a surprise. We were told up front that Iraq could very well be a generational commitment. That the American people and far too many of their elected representatives have already forgotten this speaks more to their failings than that of George W. Bush. And there's more to this campaign than simply Iraq.

Tell me this - does the potential cost of simply pulling up stakes and going home cause any concern at all?

Read this and this, please. And then continue.

OK, thanks.

Tell me, what does the American military legacy of the last forty years entails? Basically, if it gets too hot, America quits and goes home. Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia...

And the enemy is counting on it. They don't need to defeat the American military on the battlefield. The most vital battlefields for the enemy are in the American court of public opinion.

What it means is that now we are atoning for the sins and mistakes of our fathers. Every time their hearts faltered, the hearts of those who oppose the United States were emboldened. We must hunt them down and destroy them where they live, or they will return the favor. The war will be hard, expensive, and long.

And the war will go on. It continues in Iraq, in Afghanistan, off Somalia, and in places that will never make the front pages of the newspapers. It will go on until one side is beaten, humiliated, and hammered into defeat and ruin. And that will be the end, even if we surrender long before then. The war will go on - for they understand us better than we understand ourselves, and they have the resolve to see it through.

Tell me - do we?

Posted as part of The Friday Furo Questus, a weakly weekly feature of The Wasatch Front.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Parking At Salt Lake International

Speaking of my trip to Billings -

At the Salt Lake International Airport, does the long-term parking lot A really exist?

I ask this question because every time I have parked out there, it is full.

I have come to the conclusion it does not really exist, but is instead an aiport defense against complaints about how one is closer to one's plane when he exits his car than when he enters the airport terminal. (At the very least, this is true when the airplane is taxiing for takeoff.)

Instead, Lot A really is a single row of junked cars, a "Lot A" sign and a "LOT FULL" sign.

Prove me wrong. Please.

Back From Billings

Sorry for the extended radio silence...

Went to Billings, MT Monday and Tuesday on business, getting back Tuesday night. I know know why Montana is called Big Sky Country.

Billings is pretty, in a wide open kind of way. There's no dramatic mountains in the background, but the city sits in the valley of the Yellowstone River, which has carved some pretty impressive cliffs around the city. The airport sits on a plateau above the city, while the entire city fits down in the valley below. The view from the Billings airport is accordingly impressive.

Billings is also the easten end of the Montana Rail Link, so I was able to score some pictures of America's coolest regional railroad. Mainly switchers, though; no road power.

Trip report with pictures to follow...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Gee, You're Welcome

Three hostages were rescued in Iraq today by Coalition forces (some combination of British, Canadian, and American forces).

These three hostages are 3/4 of the members of a pacifist delegation, who apparently felt their mere presence would bring joy and light and peace to the region, enlightening even the cockles of George Bush's heart who would end his horrible attempt to occupy Iraq and return it to its proper former state, under the control of a mad tyrant with a penchant for feeding those who displease him into a wood chipper. Alive.

That their ambitions were in vain should have been apparent when they were taken captive by the people they sympathized with (apparently, the terrorists didn't get the newsletter). It should been rendered abundantly clear when one of their number, Tom Fox, was murdered.

(Allow me to clarify some definitions: Rebels fight soldiers, and only target soldiers. Terrorists target civilians, and only accidentally get into a fight with real troops.)<>
Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Yes, you read that right. One would think they could at least spare a few kind words for the rescuers.

The organization is unwilling to speak of the fact that the hostages are free because other men were willing to lay down their lives for complete strangers.

From the Corner:

MAYBE A "THANK YOU" WOULD BE APPROPRIATE? [Kathryn Jean Lopez] U.S.-led Coalition forces rescued peace-activist hostages in Iraq today. As you know, one of their colleagues, Tom Fox, was recently found dead, murdered by their captors.
So in their statement today, Christian Peacemaker Teams, says:
"Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end. " [Emphasis mine.]
They couldn't get in just one "thanks for getting three of our guys out alive" before condemning 'em? Posted at 08:14 AM

Kathryn, you let off those pitiful Christian "Peacemaker" Teams way too easily. If you go to their website you'll notice the headline reads: "CELEBRATE THE PEACEMAKERS' RELEASE"They weren't "released/" They were "rescued" by brave British-US Special Forces risking their lives. If you'd waited for their "release." you'd be celebrating over their corpses and severed heads.The stunted morality of these Christian "Peacemakers" is apparently boundless. They evidently didn't grasp the lesson of their long capture and the murder of their comrade - that, even if you spend weeks on end with them and even if you agree with them, the jihadists still decline to acknowledge even the most basic common humanity. Even though you're objectively on their side, to the jihad you're still "the other". The late Mr. Fox didn't need to acquire Stockholm Syndrome: he was already on the "insurgents''' side. But they killed him anyway.That's what it boils down to, every time.
Posted at 11:48 AM

You know what? Send 'em back. If they're that stupid, let them await their fate.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Seeing Only What You Want To See

From The Weekly Standard, via The Corner:

The December issue of the Atlantic Monthly features a "Hypothetical" essay entitled "If America Left Iraq: The case for cutting and running." The author is Nir Rosen, a freelance journalist who over the last year or so has published a series of long, meticulously reported examinations of the Iraqi insurgency in au courant journals like the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. Rosen's journalism is noteworthy, the editors of the Atlantic inform us, because he "speaks Arabic" and "has spent 16 months in Iraq," mostly "among ordinary Iraqis." That, and he probably has more sources in the insurgency than any other American reporter.

And those sources, incredibly, have led him to the following insight: "If the occupation were to end," Rosen writes, "so, too, would the insurgency." Because, "after all," the "resistance movement" is "resisting" the "occupation." And if there were no "occupation" . . . well, "who would the insurgents fight"? Q.E.D.

Say what you will, this Zen-koan approach to geopolitics struck us as pretty original. Yet it turns out "If America Left Iraq" is merely a shorter, better-edited version of a September 21 "outside view" article Rosen penned for UPI entitled "The Small, Daily Abu Ghraibs." The opinions expressed in this article "are not," Rosen assures, "the ramblings of a leftwing polemicist." And he's right. They are something more sinister.

"I spent about a year and a half in Iraq," Rosen writes, and "it was obvious early on, and continues to be, that the main problem in Iraq, the main obstacle to progress, is the U.S. occupation." Cue ridiculous tautology: "When it ends, attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq will end as well."

What is more, Rosen continues, all of this is "true worldwide as well":

The American empire will cease to be a target when it ceases to directly or indirectly oppress weaker people. Terrorism--inasmuch as the word has any meaning, but that's another argument--is not a phenomenon or an entity. It is a tool of politics by other means, just like war. . . . In Iraq, America is attacked because it is a brutal occupier, humiliating Iraqis, destroying villages, arresting, beating, and killing countless innocent men, women and children. This is the main cause of the resistance. . . . If America was not occupying Iraq, there would be no resistance.

[In August], a few thousand Jewish fanatics who illegally settled on occupied land in Gaza and went on the occasional pogrom, attacking Palestinians whose land they had settled, were given more attention and sympathy by the American media in a week or two than it has given in five years to the Palestinians whose homes have been destroyed, who are not permitted to live as humans, and who inhabit a giant prison.

Bottom line: "An American withdrawal from Iraq and an Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories to the 1967 lines would do more to fight terrorism than any military action ever could." No wonder Rosen has such great access to the Baathists and jihadists who make up the Iraqi insurgency. He's on their side.

Here's the problem with this view: America was a terror target before the Iraq War, is now, and will be after we leave.

America is a target because America is America, and that annoys some people.

Back to "The Wahabist Challenge."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Tornadoes Over The Weekend

Looks like tornado season is getting warmed up early:
Tornadoes rip across Midwest, killing 10

One storm spawned a tornado a half-mile wide.

More info at the
Storm Prediction Center.

And it looks no better today...

Probability of a tornado within 25 miles of a point.
Hatched area: 10% or greater probability of F2-F5 tornadoes within 25 miles of a point.

Going to be a long day in the Rust Belt, I think.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

End of the Tomcat Era

F-14 from VF-84 "Jolly Rogers" prepares for launch. Picture from

One of the premier fighters in the history of aviation, and the most storied fighter in the U.S. inventory, has returned from deployment for the last time.

The F-14 Tomcat, a swing-wing twin-engined fighter-interceptor, is slated for retirement as the last active-duty squadrons still flying the F-14 returned to Oceana Naval Air Station. The squadrons will be re-equipped with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

That would be despite the fact that the F-14 is still a better fighter. The problem is age - the F-14 has been in active service since 1973; the F-18 design is a good ten years younger, while the Super Hornet design is younger still, with models not entering service until the early 1990s. Older planes need more maintenance time. The maintenance demands are forcing the F-14 out of service.

Makes you wonder, though; maybe they ought to just build some new F-14s, with new electronics. The basic design is still a good one. The new F-18s are slower and heavier that the older F-14s.

But the threat has changed as well. The F-14 was an answer to the Soviet threat, a way to keep Warsaw Pact bombers and fighters away from NATO convoys in case everybody's nightmares came true. (See Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October or even better, Red Storm Rising, to see how the Tomcats were used and were intended to be used.) For naval aviation, the need now isn't so much to defend against enemy aircraft as to be able to strike deep into enemy territory.

I just hope we're not ignoring tomorrow's war while preparing for today's.

For more information:
The F-14 Tomcat Association
Tomcat Alley

UPDATE: A couple of looks back...
Neptunus Lex
Chaotic Synaptic Activity, Part I and Part II

Instapinch, Tomcats, Oceana Fly-in Part I, Part II, Part III

Friday, March 10, 2006

Adventures In Small Business - Jerks With Telephones

Thanks to jerks with telephones, I am now farther behind than when I got here this morning.

Oh the joy.

Just thought I'd share.

A New Friday Furo Questus Is Up

...over at The Wasatch Front.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Over 3.6 Billion Degrees of Oops

Seen at the Corner:
This is a little disturbing:
Scientists have produced superheated gas exceeding temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin, or 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit.

This is hotter than the interior of our Sun, which is about 15 million degrees Kelvin, and also hotter than any previous temperature ever achieved on Earth, they say.

They don't know how they did it.
I don't like it when we create conditions hotter than the interior of the sun without knowing how we did it. What if I'm in the kitchen and I accidentally put the wrong stuff together and it happens? That'd be so not cool, literally.
That isn't all, though - it looks as though we might be on the verge of discovering some new physical principles. Quoting the article some more:
Sandia researchers still aren’t sure how the machine achieved the new record. Part of it is probably due to the replacement of the tungsten steel wires with slightly thicker steel wires, which allow the plasma ions to travel faster and thus achieve higher temperatures.

One thing that puzzles scientists is that the high temperature was achieved after the plasma’s ions should have been losing energy and cooling. Also, when the high temperature was achieved, the Z machine was releasing more energy than was originally put in, something that usually occurs only in nuclear reactions.

Sandia consultant Malcolm Haines theorizes that some unknown energy source is involved, which is providing the machine with an extra jolt of energy just as the plasma ions are beginning to slow down.
Bolded emphasis is mine.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The War Goes On

This is no war of chieftains or of princes, of dynasties or national ambition; it is a war of peoples and of causes. There are vast numbers, not only in this Island but in every land, who will render faithful service in this war, but whose names will never be known, whose deeds will never be recorded. This is a War of the Unknown Warriors; but let all strive without failing in faith or in duty, and the dark curse...will be lifted from our age.
Winston Churchill

Keeping the Sahara Quiet
March 4, 2006: Noting that Islamic radical organizations were using remote bases in the arid regions of the Sahara and Sahel (the semi-desert region just south of the Sahara), in 2003 the U.S. began the "Pan-Sahel Initiative," a program that uses Special Operations Forces personnel to train local security forces in a number of the ten Saharan nations. Over the next three years American training teams, mostly from the Army's Special Forces, helped organize, train, and equip one or more 150-man strong "rapid-reaction" companies (per country) in Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. In June of 2005, this program was supplanted by the "Trans Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative" (TSCTI) which essentially extends the program to the rest of the Saharan states. In addition to the original four countries, it is believed that Algeria, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, and Tunisia are taking part in the program, and that Libya has expressed a willingness to participate as well. One objective of the new program is to develop battalion-sized counterterrorism forces in each of these countries, and improve command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities, to enhance effectiveness against terrorists infiltration.

The program, which is to operate on a budget of about $100 million a year, is a low profile effort. Only a very small number of special operations personnel are involved, and they are being careful to keep out of combat operations (though they have reportedly occasionally been involved in planning). One of the missions seems to be to promote inter-national cooperation against terrorism, which has borne fruit in a number of interesting developments. Several of the countries involved have been sharing information on the movements of potential terrorists, and in a number of instances have cooperated for mutual security; for example, Mali and Mauritania have actually concluded a pact allowing each their troops to conduct some operations on the other country's soil.

The TSCTI has the potential to play a major role in defeating Islamic terror in northern Africa, and could serve as a model for similar programs elsewhere. But there are some dangers. Several of the countries involved have fragile governments, and some have problems with internal opposition groups that may align themselves with Islamists as the only alternative to corrupt and oppressive regimes. To promote greater stability in the region, several other U.S. agencies (AID, etc.) are planning educational and developmental projects.

The war goes on. Around the globe, the forces of terror and counter-terror are on the move, seeking advantage and initiative. It is a war with few heroes, noisy defeats, and silent victories.

While we here at home go on with our
protests and mock trials, American and allied servicemen continue to go out in the world and do the dirty, obscure, and necessary work of defending their homes and their loved ones. Some give their lives. All go little-noticed and unheralded. Yet they go, and keep going.

Where, indeed, do we get such men and women? And by what mercy of God are we priviledged to have them among us? For I'm not sure we deserve them.

We have a hard enough time even remembering them.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Back From Nashville

I'm back.

No, no record contract. Apparently bad singing coupled with no musical talent and a lousy body is a combination the country music world is not yet ready for. Go figure.

And maybe I'm just touched in the head, but there were a lot of cute girls back there.

Just sayin'.