Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Sharon Plan

The exit from Gaza has been excellent for Israel from a PR standpoint. The media can no longer portray what is happening there as a fight against occupation.

It is now the Palis attacking Israel across a border.

This is very good.

There will no longer be any settlers once the West Bank is similarly cleared. However, that need not happen any time soon (years, maybe decades) as the benefits from Gaza PR will to some extent carry over into the territories.

So many Israelis have said the exit from Gaza was a mistake. I always thought it was a brilliant move. It changed the rules of engagement in the international press. And getting the Palis to elect Hamas, priceless.

It is like chess. You may have to take temporary losses for permanent gains. I always thought Sharon was an excellent general. When he first announced the Gaza withdrawal I was standing on my chair clapping. The Pali civil war. The change in the tone of the press. The change of the rules of engagement. They were all things I expected. Sharon is brilliant for seeing that before any one else. A strategy so brilliant that it could be executed in plain sight and the enemy could not defeat or deviate from the plan. A plan so brilliant that once set in motion the planner was no longer needed for guidance. One of the greatest generals of all time.

Sharon saw so clearly what every one else missed. You cannot defeat an occupied people. You can defeat a soverign state. He also saw clearly that what the Palistinians needed most was defeat. To lose hope.

BTW here was my prediction last year around the time of the Gaza withdrawal.

Operation Summmer Storms with links to up to the minute news.

This post inspired by the discussion at Israelly Cool.

Update: 30 June '06 0147z
An Israeli comentator agrees with me.

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Middle East Rules

Israel has rounded up 60 Hamas officials so far. It looks to me like Israel is finally playing by Middle East rules. Kidnap one of ours and we will kidnap as many of yours as we can lay our hands on. Then we negotiate a swap.

In an unprecedented operation, the IDF arrested overnight Wednesday over 60 senior Hamas members throughout the West Bank, including ministers in the Palestinian Authority parliament.

Detainees included such senior figures as Finance Minister Omar Abdel Azek, Labor Minister Mohammed Barghouti, and parliament member Mohamemd Abu Teir.

PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh convened an emergency meeting of government members in Gaza early Thursday morning. An unofficial response said that, ""Israel is targeting Hamas' political wing, which wasn't involved in the kidnapping [of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit]."
Boo frickn hoo. Cry me a river. Two wings? We can fix that. Kill the whole bird.

Many Israelis have been saying Olmert is a pussycat. He recently said that due to the kidnapping of Shalit there were no limits. This time I think he means it.

BTW an Israeli commentator calls it Lebanese Rules.

Up to the minute updates on Operation Summer Rain from Israelis:

Israelly Cool
Vital Perspective

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Too Many Troops

Remember that for the last few year the constant cry of the Democrats was not enough troops in Iraq? New tune - now there are too many troops in Iraq and Dems are not getting credit for withdrawal proposals. Maybe it has something to do with their total withdrawal propsals to a time table rather than partial withdrawal based on facts on the ground.

Sheesh. There is no pleasing these people.

Hat tip: No Pasaran!

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Short Overview: Progress in Iraq

In '03 we deposed Saddam with a lightening blitzkreig. We kept moving in a sandstorm. We made the greatest one day advance of any army in history (160 miles). A testament to American mobile logistics.

Saddam skips town and his fasicst thug generals are rounded up and invited to stay in some special hotels left over when the previous occupants were invited to return to their usual pursuits by Saddam before he left town.

Then we fumbled for a year or so fighting the insurgents on our own, getting to know the place, the players, the local customs, and trying to figure out what to do next. All the while ordering long lead items like power stations and electrical substatioins. And finding Saddam living in a sewer. After having a duel with his two sons (late and unlamented) who died in a hail of gunfire in a bathroom. Some kind of family fetish I expect.

Then some guy figures, it is starting to get calm enough for elections, and can we design a system for a country of 25 million and install it in time to hold fair elections? Can we get candidates to run? And so there were elections. Three of them in a year. And six months after the last, we have a sovereign government. Who can't wait to get rid of us, after they have a few political problems forcefully ironed out.

All the while we are recruiting and training an army and police force. A year and a half later and the army is performing moderately well and the police force needs some serious attention. All but four provinces are pacified and the Sunnis are scared to death that we will leave them to the tender mercies of the folks they have been oppressing for the last 30 years and bombing for the last 2 1/2. The Kurds in the north are doing well (they have been under American protection for a decade and a half) and the Marsh Arabs are doing better now that the marshes are being restored. Baghdad and its environs are a problem. As are attacks on the oil infrastructure.

The long lead items are getting installed and plans are being made for a troop draw down when the Iraqi Army gains some more manpower and experience. They are having no trouble getting recruits despite bombs going off in the recruiting line.

So I see continued progress with some areas that need attention.

We've come a long way baby.

Way too early to give up.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gasoline Imports to End

Pretty scary. For Iran. Reuters reports:

Iran will halt gasoline imports from September 23 and start rationing gasoline supplies to motorists because of budget constraints, Iranian Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh said on Friday.

Parliamentarians in the OPEC producer approved a budget for the year to March 2007 that cut the amount to be spent on gasoline imports to $2.5 billion from $4 billion.
That is pretty strange. Oil prices are at record levels and yet Iran has cash flow problems.This is not going to play well with the citizens Ahmadinejad is trying to pay off with his socialist economic policies.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's populist government, which draws its support from the poor, was faced with an unappetising choice of hiking petrol prices or rationing, both potential sources of social discontent.

"Next week will be time to decide when we start rationing. Because there is no budget for importing gasoline in the second half of the year, naturally imports will be stopped and gasoline will be supplied by rationing," he said on state television.

"With 99 percent certainty there is going to be no dual pricing system, just rationing."

Despite being the second biggest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Iran has relied heavily on gasoline imports for many years.

It lacks refining capacity after directing most of its oil revenues into social spending. It now imports more than 40 percent of its 70 million litters per day (440,000 barrels per day) of gasoline consumption.
You know the whole rotten mess in Iran could come down with a push once cold weather hits. OTOH for various reasons America has not built a new refinery for 30 years. Maybe there is a lesson here.

Update: 25 June '06 0344z

Some other articles on the issue:

Trade Arabia

Regime Change Iran has a lot on the Iranian economic troubles and a little on the gasoline problem.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Grand Strategy

The folks over at Volokh Conspiracy were discussing missile defence. A very long discussion which prompted this discourse on WW2 from me:

Exagerated fear of loss is common to humans. We know what we have to lose and underestimate what the opposition has to lose.

You fight a war based on two things: what losses will most quickly cripple an enemy and what does the enemy fear to lose most? The two are often not the same. Take WW2 Japan. They were crippled by loss of oil and transport for raw materials. What they feared to lose most was the Emperor.
Which got me to thinking about our jihadi enemies. What is their operational weakness? What do they fear to lose the most?

So I'm thinking:

What can we do that will impact the enemies war fighting capabilites? Cut off their money supply and degrade their command and control. Militarily we are mainly going after leaders as our offensive phase while defending against ambushes. The Israelis have shown this to be an effective tactic if you can develop the intel.

What do the jihadis fear most to lose? Their honor. Most of all they want their religion respected.

I think the best answer to the honor question is: Mohammed? You are a follower of that old pervert? This could lead to the destruction of Islam or its reformation. The destruction is easy to see. The reformation could come about by acknowledgement that marrying six year olds is not very civilized behavior. Which then opens the gates to questioning lots of other stuff. Separate the good from the bad in light of current standards.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Unlawful Command Influence

Rep. Jack Murtha may be in deep do do over his Haditha comments. A story in the Washington Times gives the details:

A criminal defense attorney for a Marine under investigation in the Haditha killings says he will call a senior Democratic congressman as a trial witness, if his client is charged, to find out who told the lawmaker that U.S. troops are guilty of cold-blooded murder.

Attorney Neal A. Puckett told The Washington Times that Gen. Michael Hagee, the Marine commandant, briefed Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, on the Nov. 19 killings of 24 Iraqis in the town north of Baghdad. Mr. Murtha later told reporters that the Marines were guilty of killing the civilians in "cold blood." Mr. Murtha said he based his statement on Marine commanders, whom he did not identify.

Mr. Puckett said such public comments from a congressman via senior Marines amount to "unlawful command influence." He said potential Marine jurors could be biased by the knowledge that their commandant, the Corps' top officer, thinks the Haditha Marines are guilty.

"Congressman Murtha will be one of the first witnesses I call to the witness stand," Mr. Puckett said yesterday.
Unlawful Command Influence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice means poisoning the jury pool. It is a rule meant to prevent the hierarchical nature of the military from influencing the outcome of a military trial.

Not only that, it appears that veterans are rising up to defeat Murtha. He is being opposed by Diana Irey in the November elections. She is supported by Vets for Irey. This will get ugly.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Update: 16 June '06 1618z
Sweetness & Light has a nice bit about how the lawyers are getting on the Haditha case.

Update: 16 June '06 1746z

I expound a bit on military justice at Sweetness & Light. Here is what I had to say:
Basically because the military is a strict hierarchy, the chain of command is supposed to stay out of all judicial matters not involving non-judicial punishment. And even those are subject to review. Once a command unduly puts its fingers on the scales of justice the prosecution is over. No matter which side the command put the pressure on. It is also a very big black mark on an officer’s career.
Update: 18 June '06 0905z

The Squiggler has more on the anti-Murtha campaign. Curiouser & Curiouser focuses on the Irey campaign.

Update: 10 Sept '06 0704z
Irey for Congress www site.


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Cannabinoid Lowers Blood Pressure

An article originally published in the Jerusalem Post discusses this year's Kaye Innovation Awards which are given annually to encourage Hebrew University faculty, staff and students to develop methods and inventions that have good chances for commercialization to benefit the university and society. Yehoshua Maor got one of the awards for his work under the supervision of Prof. Raphael Mechoulam on cannbinoids and blood pressure. Some might ask with so many medicines on the market why is this research necessary?

Not all patients respond well to conventional hypertension drugs.

But the cannabis plant, through its chemical compounds, has been shown to have a beneficial, hypotensive effect.

But a drawback in the therapeutic use of cannabinoids has been the undesirable psychotropic properties such as hallucinatory effects.

Attempts to separate the hypotensive action from their psychotropic properties have been only partially successful until now.
Of course for some the psychotropic effects are a feature, not a defect. In any case what was developed was
...a synthetic version of a minor cannabis constituent named cannabigerol, which is devoid of psychotropic activity. In laboratory experiments with rats, in collaboration with Prof. Michal Horowitz, it was found that this novel compound reduced blood pressure when administered in relatively low doses.

Additional testing also showed that the compound also brought about another beneficial effect - relaxation of the blood vessels.

A further beneficial property observed in work carried out with Prof. Ruth Gallily was that the compounds produced an anti-inflammatory response.

Maor says these qualities could be combined to create a valuable new clinical drug with major market potential, especially for diabetic patients suffering from hypertension, since reductions in blood pressure can decrease the risk of diabetes complications and in others with metabolic irregularities.
Which fits in quite nicely with another recent report of mine Pot Treats Diabetes.

Update: 20 June '06 1439z

Grand Rounds hosted by Dr. Deborah Serani links.

Grand Rounds readers (and others) might find the following links of interest: PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System and Cannabis is the Best Medicine

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No Knock Warrants

Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy is discussing the latest Supreme Court ruling on no knock warrants. Basically the Supreme Court says the knock is optional. Many thought this was unwarranted.

Commenter M. Stack says to them:

Why don't we notify individuals at least an hour in advance that the police are going to execute a search warrant on their premises? Just to be on the safe side.
To which I reply:
For Congressmen the rule is nine months. I think ordinary citizens could be accorded an hour.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Causen Effect

The Causen Effect: Anything bad that happens is (name of current or former President)'s fault.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Blood Money

Interesting times and proof that there may in fact be some justice in the world. We have the "Duke Rape Case" falling apart. Al Queda in Iraq leader al-Zarquari is dead.

And now the Haditha case against the Marines is falling apart. It appears that the "young" reporter (there is a picture) who is also a founder of a human rights group has some questions to answer.

Why start a human rights group if you want to remain anonymous? And why did Time pretend their source was young? Why did they pretend he had no involvement with Hammurabi? (When in fact he is its founder.)

But that is just the start of the many questionable aspects of Thabit’s accounts.

Bear in mind that this "budding journalism student" waited until the next day to videotape this alleged atrocity, which supposedly happened on his very doorstep.

Note that this same "budding journalism student" and self-proclaimed human rights watcher did not bother to turn over his video to a media outlet or a real human rights group from November 2005 until March 2006. A four month delay.

That’s how eager they were to make sure such a crime is never again repeated.
Read the whole thing to get the full context for the reporters on the case. Time Magazine is not looking too good either.

Even more interesting is the full social context of what is happening in Haditha. It may be all about an effort to extract more blood money out of the US Military.
On the side of a road in a ramshackle tent tribal elders have gathered for a court case, but it is not an ordinary law court, it's a tribal court. The case defies logic - one brother has killed another, but the tribe they belonged to is blaming a rival tribe for the killing.

Their argument is that if there had not been a feud with the other tribe, the killing would not have taken place; they are now demanding $20,000 in blood money….

At the tribal court, the discussion is heated, but not about guilt or innocence. Through a complex network of tribal support, both sides know where they stand, now it is just a matter of agreeing the money.

Eventually the price is knocked down to $4,000 and a woman, her value to be determined in later negotiations.

For many Iraqis it's a system that works, and in a violent region recompense appears much more practical than locking someone away.
The article has more on the blood money system and how it relates to the news from Haditha and a previous British case.
The logic in the British case and possibly in Haditha is simple: If the coalition did not have a fight with the insurgents, the deaths would not have occurred. The deaths cause a loss in the resources of the tribe. The tribe cannot file a claim with Zarqawi--he might chop their heads off--therefore it is the coalition that owes blood money. In the eyes of tribal people such as Haditha residents, this debt is owed regardless of who actually killed the 24 people in Haditha or the circumstances of those deaths. The payment of blood money is not an admission of guilt; it is a balancing of tribal obligations.

What tribal Iraqis would understand as blood money has in fact already been paid by US military representatives in Haditha. According to the May 31 New York Times payments totaling $38,000 were made “within weeks of the shootings” to the families of 15 of the 24 dead.
So they already have gotten their blood money. Could it be they are trying to enhance the deal? An excerpt from the New York Times quoted in the article:
In an interview Tuesday, Maj. Dana Hyatt, the officer who made the payments, said he was told by superiors to compensate the relatives of 15 victims, but was told that rest of those killed had been deemed to have committed hostile acts, leaving their families ineligible for compensation.

After the initial payments were made, however, those families demanded similar payments, insisting their relatives had not attacked the marines, Major Hyatt said….

The list of 15 victims deemed to be noncombatants was put together by intelligence personnel attached to the battalion, Major Hyatt said. Those victims were related to a Haditha city council member, he said. The American military sometimes pays compensation to relatives of civilian victims.

The relatives of each victim were paid a total of $2,500, the maximum allowed under Marine rules, along with $250 payments for two children who were wounded. Major Hyatt said he also compensated the families for damage to two houses.

"I didn't say we had made a mistake," Major Hyatt said, describing what he had told the city council member who was representing the victims. "I said I'm being told I can make payments for these 15 because they were deemed not to be involved in combat."
The article from the Hawaii Reporter has much more on the Haditha Stories discrepancies and the blood money system. Read it all.

The Marine who gave lurid details of the Haditha "crime" may have had a motive for being a fabulist.
Others have noted many weird aspects to Corporal Briones’ previous statements about being ordered to photograph the Haditha victims, and his further claims about his camera being stolen.

It is highly questionable that the Marines would order a rank and file soldier to do such a thing. And to use his own (non-official) camera to document such an important, possibly criminal event.

It is also highly improbably that they would enlist someone who could himself face future charges in such an effort.

And, lastly, it is very unlikely that they would allow such valuable evidence as these photos to disappear.

This latest news, however, may very well shed light on Briones’ motives.

Apparently all of Briones’ statements to the media about being ordered to photograph the Haditha corpses were made after his drunken hit and run felony on April 3, 2006. (His first appearance in the press seems to be an interview with the Los Angeles Times on May 29, 2006.)

If Briones was so traumatized by what he saw in Haditha, why did he wait six months to tell anyone about it?

Isn’t it possible that once the Haditha story came out, Briones latched onto it as a way to beat these very serious charges? They include auto theft, drunk-driving, resisting arrest and leaving the scene of an accident.
As more facts filter out it is looking more and more like Haditha=Duke Rape. Stories made up for profit. However, for once, a few of the slime balls living on the planet may be getting their due.

Link to a Haditha link fest

Update: 09 June '06 0327z

Riehl World looks at more story conflicts in the MSM.

Update: 11 June '06 0047z

Sweetness & Light has more on the blood money system. See the comment by DB.

Over at Mudville Gazette the Accused Speak

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Oil Weapon

Ilan Berman at NRO has an interesting discussion of Iran's threat to cut off a significan't part of world oil supplies if it is attacked.

For all of its energy clout, the Islamic Republic is not impervious to economic countermeasures. The vast majority (80 to 85 percent) of Iran’s export earnings, as well as one half of its budget and a quarter of its gross domestic product, currently derives from energy sales. As a result, over the past two years Iran has reaped a staggering fiscal windfall, amounting to dozens of billions of dollars, from the rising price of world oil. But Iran’s single-sector economy is deeply dependent on foreign direct investment to maintain this output. If they were to be applied consistently and multilaterally, therefore, measures that reduce the foreign capital flowing into Iran’s energy sector have the ability to cause Tehran some serious economic pain.
Berman goes on to talk about how even more serious unrest than is happening now could be triggered.
In particular, Iran is severely susceptible to domestic pressure. Despite massive oil exports (some 2.5 million barrels a day), Iran currently imports a third or more of its refined petroleum products from abroad, at a cost of over $3 billion annually. These imports are not simply surplus; according to some estimates, Iran maintains just 45 days worth of gasoline domestically. Since all politics is ultimately local, this suggests that the inevitable economic squeeze that would accompany an Iranian energy play is likely to reverberate within Iranian society in the form of gasoline shortages and steep price hikes at the pump. And that, in turn, could create major domestic problems for Iran’s ayatollahs.
He goes on to note that Iran's oil custumers would not be very happy with a cut off of oil supplies. As usual, click the link, read the rest.

More on Iran's economic situation.

To keep up on unrest in Iran visit Gateway Pundit and Regime Change Iran.

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Process of Elimination

CNN reports Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi Killed in Air Raid:

Loud applause broke out among the reporters and soldiers as al-Maliki, flanked by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and U.S. Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told a news conference that ``al-Zarqawi was eliminated.''
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Are things going better in Iraq?

As far as I can tell Saddam is no longer bribing the French. That sounds like a double win to me.

It also looks like the Iraqis have a chance for a better life. Under Saddam no chance. Of course Sunni fortunes are down and they complain bitterly. Most unfortunate.

Iran is in such bad shape that a little push could make that government fall. Heard about all the street protests there lately?

Try Gateway Pundit and Regime Change Iran.

It looks to me a lot like the situation before the fall of the Shah. For whatever reason the government like the Shah's has lost its nerve.

Here is a link to an article on Iran's economic situation with links to sources and other articles. They need a war as soon as possible to keep things together. Evidently whatever we do will be on our schedule, not theirs.

--prompted by the discussion at Hit and Run.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Free Communications

I have been looking at some discussions of the recent arrests of 17 Islamic Imperialist suspects and so far I haven't seen any "shut down their internet sites" comments. Looks like letting them communicate has its profits as well as its dangers.

It also looks like the jihadis have run through the A, B, and C teams and are converging on Z. Excellent.

They will be deficient in OPSEC among other things. Excellent.

I'm told that in some venues the Islamic Imperialists are so paranoid of electronic communications that they are reduced to passing messages by runners and tactical discussions can only happen face to face.

They are fighting an 1810s war against a 21st century military. They are not even as advanced as telegraphic communications. They are doomed.

However, we are only doing fair in the propaganda war. I will note that lies are faster, but truth has staying power. As time goes on we will be doing better on that front from the weight of truth. Already Europe is turning away from the Palestinians.

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A Bad Economy Deprives the Young

America? No. France? Well maybe, but no. Iran.

...Ahmadinejad, a former Tehran mayor who successfully portrayed himself as a populist presidential candidate, is wary of economic woes suffered by the young and has scant interest in causing more pain. Social freedoms are unlikely to be seriously cut back, they say, as the government struggles with its spiraling financial outlook and its nuclear challenge.

Food prices are climbing. Jobs are hard to find. Universities are strapped for cash, and educational horizons are limited.

Ahmadinejad promised economic reforms in his campaign, but in his first year in office, he has yet to produce a comprehensive plan for growth.
What do regimes in economic trouble typically do in such situations? They manufacture distractions.
...he has tried to make nuclear energy a point of national pride. Last month's announcement that Iran had achieved some uranium enrichment was broadcast as a television extravaganza.

He has made other gestures, which some analysts call negligible in substance, to lighten the Iranian mood.
Such moves often end in wars or revolutions. Let us hope for the latter over the former. The Iranian people deserve better than the government they are getting.

Previous articles on the Iranian economy and economic warfare:
Iran is having money troubles
At War with Iran
The Gold War
Follow the Gold
Hamas has a Banking Crisis
Follow the Money

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

War Crime


Gunmen killed 21 people - many of them high school students - after dragging them off buses northeast of Baghdad, officials said. Four Sunni Arabs were spared and the dead were all Shiites or Kurds.
This is so disgusting. School children. Killed for their religion. I wonder if the Army these criminals belong to will arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice?

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Haditha Link Fest

Here is a round up of sites with information and measured judgement (innocent until proven guilty).

The Mudville Gazette on framing the reports.

Mudville Gazette also looks at what happened in Ishaqi and discrepancies in the Haditha reports.

Mudville Gazette's front page for today also has more links for media stories on Haditha.

Dean Esmay on jumping the gun in Haditha.

Sweetness and Light on the provenance of the reporter of the Haditha story.

Hot Air has a Marine in words and video.

Hot Air also has witnesses.

Hot Air says Captain Kimber had no indication from the city council anything was amiss.

Hot Air has a bit on Haditha and the "objectively on the other side" left.

Those hot Air folks have been busy. The last bit mentioned has a lot of links if you can't get enough.

Michael Yon talks about the stress of combat in Iraq.

Lawhawk has interesting comments and links. He says there is no substantiation for the claims. That is such a hot topic I'm going to provide a link.

Winds of Change discusses Murtha.

Update: 03 June '06 2148z

Terrorist murder of 19 conflated with events at Haditha.

Update: 04 June '06 1615z

Don Surber fisks a NYTs editorial.

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One side's policy is war crimes.
One side punishes war crimes.

One side's policy is torture.
One side punishes torture.

In the words of that great old lefty marching tune: which side are you on?

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

A New Kind of Headline

I just logged in to Netscape which has a kind of headline news on its home page. Here is the new kind of headline in the article:

Iraq PM Vows 'Iron Fist' in Restive Basra

What is new about the headline? Iraq now has the onus of the war. It is no longer seen as an American War.

The Dems are in trouble.

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