Monday, April 28, 2008

Context

Barack Obama and his retired pastor, Jeremiah Wright, have been telling us that inflammatory excerpts from the Reverend Wright's sermons are not being fairly presented. That is, they are not being presented in context.

Fair enough. That context can be examined by reading, or listening to, more of the Reverend's sermons. Hugh Hewitt and Fox News have provided text and audio surrounding some of the Reverend's more infamous hyberbole. In fairness to Reverend Wright and as a public service, TOC provides the following links so that you may expand your own contextual understanding:

Hewitt:
Providing Context For Reverend Wright: The New Audio Of His Sermons

Fox:
Sermon Video Presents Obama's Former Pastor in His Own Words

YMMV, but I do find the context illuminating, if not in the way Obama and Wright suggest. The more I learn of Obama's mentor's thinking, the more I think Wright's anti-American, racist credentials are validated. The fact they both think more exposure to Wright demonstrates his reasonableness is an even bigger problem than the bigotry. Do they think we'll agree with them, or that we're just stupid?

If you take your young daughters to hear the Reverend, it's probably the former.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let them eat corn-bread

The unconsidered consequences of feel-good panic combine with their natural ally, pork barrel opportunism. See corporatism.

Corn is being diverted to your gas tank because of Global Warm-mongering chickenfeedhawks. Big money is being diverted to corporate welfare queens like Archer Daniels Midland - "Supermarket To Your Gas Tank™". Don't worry, though, you might eventually create a job or two in Michigan.

Mark Steyn: Feed your Prius, starve a peasant

...big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you've suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it's not "you" who's got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.

Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree [here] the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most-likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that, to date, the "carbon debt" created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse.

The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death.
If we're creating a carbon debt through our imperialist exploitation of grain futures, it's good to know Al Gore is selling carbon credits. Isn't it? You can trade them for food, right? Well, no, you can't. But Al could afford to lose a few kilos in any case. Too bad about those poor people in Haiti, who bitterly cling to eating dirt and rioting over food shortages.

But, enough of this angst. What I really want to know is the effect of burning all this corn-based ethanol on the price of a fifth of Woodford Reserve. This is a problem elite drinkers can get behind. Could be enough to get Teddy Kennedy to propose an endangered potables distiller subsidy.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saulat al Fursan

What a difference a month makes . . .
Richard Beeston, Foreign Editor
The Times, April 25
One month on and Iraq’s leader can justifiably claim to have scored a stunning victory, probably the first of its kind by the post-Saddam Iraqi army. The most notorious areas of Basra are now under government control, the Mahdi Army of Moqtadr al-Sadr has been roundly defeated and the long suffering people of Basra are celebrating freedoms they did not enjoy during the four years of British military rule in the city.
It's been a week since the New York Times acknowledged that Operation Saulat al Fursan (Charge of the Knights)* has been successful.

Frank Rich could not be reached for comment.


*TOC has previously referred to this as Knight's Assault. It seems more appropriate to use the Iraqi designation since it is an Iraqi operation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dear Anonymous commenter,

Your comment on my post of April 9th has been deleted, as you might expect when anonymously posting ad hominem attacks citing my "twisted deranged "logic"" without bothering to actually cite any.

"Racist chicken hawk" simply sealed the deal. However, do not think that I didn't appreciate the irony of an anonymous commenter calling me a "chicken hawk."

As to that trope, you have confused an objection to involuntary servitude, combined with an unwillingness to participate in a war being run with no intent to win - with believing the United States to be an "imperialist" state. Your premise and your memory are both faulty. The root of this error, I suspect, is your conflation of Vietnam and Iraq filtered through time and your own world-view.

On your charge of racism, I am uncertain as to its origin, since you again fail to provide evidence. It is very obvious to you, though, and I'll guess there's a clue based on the post upon which you attempted to comment. However, since that post excoriated Jeremiah Wright, a self-proclaimed racist and anti-semite, and Avi Lewis, an apologist for anti-semites (at the least), I have to assume you're not entirely sure of the meaning of the word. Perhaps the Ontario Human Rights Commission could sort it out for you.

Try thinking of it this way: 1- Vietnam and Iraq are entirely different. 2- I'm not preaching violence and hatred. That's Avi and Jeremiah's schtick.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

teT - a palindrome

Even the New York Times now understands that the Battle of Basra was a military and political victory for the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, that it shows American training of Iraqi forces has been effective, that the Iraqi government is increasingly unified and that these facts are having an effect on external relations.

All of that is apparent in the opening paragraph of the Times story Iraqi Army Takes Last Basra Areas From Sadr Force:

Iraqi soldiers took control of the last bastions of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr’s militia in Basra on Saturday, and Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad strongly endorsed the Iraqi government’s monthlong military operation against the fighters.
Quite a change. Two weeks ago Times columnist Frank Rich was nattering; "It's Tet, and nobody cares." On April 16th, we were treated to a prominent story about some Iraqi government forces deserting in Basra. Muted fanfare for Iraqi successes is, ah... less prominent.

The rush to verify the preferred story line judgment appears to have been a mistake. Not surprising. Since Tet is spelled the same way frontwards as backwards, total reality dyslexia has been reinforced among Times' staffers. But, as the Times York New has discovered, it is no longer so comprehensive as to cover Frank Rich. He's awaiting the memo, and someone to read it to him. Left to right. Top to bottom.

TOC's earlier posts on this topic:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Operation Knight's Assault - continuing success

Monday, April 07, 2008
War Theater Critic

Thursday, April 03, 2008
Offensive?


Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Tet redux?

I, for one, welcome the New York Times' move away from the fantasy based community.


Update: 7:56PM Mooky threatens "open war." Condi calls him on it.
BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mocked anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as a coward on Sunday, hours after the radical leader threatened to declare war unless U.S. and Iraqi forces end a military crackdown on his followers.

Rice, in the Iraqi capital to tout security gains and what she calls an emerging political consensus, said al-Sadr is content to issue threats and edicts from the safety of Iran, where he is studying. Al-Sadr heads an unruly militia that was the main target of an Iraqi government assault in the oil-rich city of Basra last month, and his future role as a spoiler is an open question.

"I know he's sitting in Iran," Rice said dismissively, when asked about al-Sadr's latest threat to lift a self-imposed cease-fire with government and U.S. forces. "I guess it's all-out war for anybody but him," Rice said. "I guess that's the message; his followers can go too their deaths and he's in Iran."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Straight Talk" gone MAD!

Apparently, John McCain is not immune to fits of saying-what-he-actually-believes condescension. As reported by The Nose on Your Face, he is unable to resist criticizing Liberals of the San Francisco persuasion: McCain Comes Under Fire For “Bitter” Comments:
“You go into these big cities in California, and, like a lot of big cities along both coasts of this great nation, you’ve got a multitude of Starbucks baristas with Ph.D’s in philosophy who can’t understand why the world doesn’t conform to their utopian vision,” said McCain. “So it’s not surprising that at a time when their country is the world’s sole superpower, using its military to fight a just war against Islamic terrorism, and its citizenry is renewing their faith in Christianity, they get bitter and cling to hopeless causes like partial-birth abortion, multi-culturalism, and the rehabilitation of serial killers.”
Oh, the civility!!! Where has it gone? Who will end this just downright mean, guided by fear, national nightmare of cynical, Bosnian verbal sniping at our leaders?

Can't we all just get along? Hillary? Barack? John? One word: Kumbaya.


Check out The Nose on Your Face.
Added to the blogroll.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taxation with too much representation

Dave Barry: How your taxes turn into manure
...Perhaps you wonder why this project [the Catfish Genome Project] is being financed by taxpayers, as opposed to the catfish industry. The answer is that the Catfish Genome Project is crucial to achieving a vital national goal that we all share: reelecting the Alabama congresspersons who stuck it in the federal budget.

...My point is that, as you do your taxes, you should remember where your tax dollars are going, and recognize that you, as a citizen, have a moral obligation to prepare your tax return with the same degree of conscientiousness that Congress exhibits in spending your money. So let's get started on your taxes! Here's a step-by-step guide:

Step one is to gather together your tax forms, your financial records, and, if you plan to itemize your deductions, at least two liters of vodka.

...This is where the vodka comes in. If you go to the official Internal Revenue Service site on the Internet (www.irs.gov) and start poking around among the thousands and thousands of forms, instructions, bulletins, etc., you would be amazed at the range of deduction options. For example, according to IRS Rev. Proc. 2006-50, certain individuals recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission may deduct up to $10,000 for whaling expenses. Could this deduction apply to you? Think about it! I, personally, have done many things that I later could not remember; being a recognized Eskimo whaler would not be the weirdest of these. So go ahead! Find an empty box on your 1040 form and write ''Harpoons -- $9,990.'' (Don't claim the full $10,000, because that might arouse IRS suspicion.)
RTWT at the link above.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Obamiate of the messes

Over at Tim Blair commenter Dave S. has an interesting thought on bitter folks clinging to religion:
Well, I do go a-churchin’ every Sunday with a bunch of bitter folks who complain about how the government is evil and screws them over, and we yell an’ whoop it up when the preacher rails against them Italians and Jews, an’ then we…

Oops, wait a minute, that’s not me, that’s Barack Obama.
I wish Dave had worked foreign trade in there, too, but it's still an A+.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Who's bitter?

"But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth." -James 3:14

Obama Allies Avoid Trying to Explain Most Controversial Part of His Remarks

More discussion:
The well-heeled San Francisco Democrats Obama addressed on Friday stand to pay much higher taxes if he is elected. Many of them no doubt back Obama because they like his liberal positions on subjects like guns, abortion and same-sex marriage. If you think Obama criticized their priorities, we've got some change you can believe in. In Barack Obama's America, rich people who vote on cultural issues rather than economic self-interest are principled and self-sacrificing. People of more modest means who do so are credulous and bitter.
Obama's friends, mentors and most importantly, his wife, are proponents of this world view:
This country is "just downright mean," we are "guided by fear," "we're a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents." "We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day." "Folks are just jammed up, and it's gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I'm young. Forty-four!"

"For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change."

Where does this person live who thinks things have gotten progressively worse in the last 44 years? In America, the most charitable and upwardly mobile country in the world.

Those are the words of Michelle Obama. Who, by the way, is paid over $300,000 a year by the University of Chicago Medical Center. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard, her husband's a United States Senator. To paraphrase Tom McGuire, if the Obamas were white they'd be John and Elizabeth Edwards. Two Americas, indeed. Cynics, sloths, complacents and complainants are the natural constituency of the Edwama message.
The Obamas' joint message is that "If you're not fundamentally unhappy with the United States, you're stupid." In the general election, Barack will be called upon to disown his own wife's rhetoric.

Better he is never, ever given the chance to defend it. Better that he is never, ever anywhere near the administrative branch.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Black Man's Burden

Their lack of self-awareness is tragic. They've been unable to help themselves for 25 years. They hate outsiders. They are racist homophobes. Their bitterness rivals that of a Michelle Obama campaign speech. These pathetic beings deserve our pity and our charity. We can redeem them though change. Or maybe change them through redemption. Whatever.

Raising the self-consciousness of these hinterland hicks is a tremendous burden, especially without resort to a "my Grandmother was sort of mildly and privately like that" analogy. Barack Obama is the man to do it, though, and The Huffington Post catches him on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them," Obama said. "And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
Bill Clinton felt our pain. Barack Obama commiserates our defects. Let Us Parse:

"I understand why you are bitter, xenophobic, isolationist, protectionist, unemployed, gun-toting religious zealots. Except for the gun part, I've got beloved mentors just like you. Though you are deluded and pathetic, your vote still counts. Cast it for me."

In his own defense Obama explains that he is not elitist, he simply understands why people are bitter. What he does not explain is why he thinks they are also knuckle dragging mouth breathers, which is the point.

PS; And what's with this anti-trade critique? Last I heard, reviving the punitive economic border fences of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which helped precipitate the Great Depression, is the province of big hitters like Obama and Clinton.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jeremiah Wright's favorite white Canadian

From Little Green Footballs: Al Jazeera's Avi Lewis Pushes Antisemitic Conspiracies. There's video.

Avi Lewis
is the son of Stephen Lewis, former head of the Ontario socialist party, and grandson of the former head of Canada's socialist party, David Lewis. The nut doesn't fall far from the tree.

TOC last noticed Avi Lewis when Ayaan Hirsa Ali was making him look stupid on his Canadian Broadcarping Castration show in 2007. Here and here.

Didn't know he'd gone to work for Al Jazeera, but it is not a surprise. Al Jazeera allows him to get as closely in touch with his natural inclinations and habitat as his courage permits.

Appropriate to learn of this, I guess, on the day we find out Dhimmi Carter is going to meet, in Syria, with the terrorist thugs of Hamas. But, then, Carter's been a Hamas admirer for some time. He has that in common with Lewis.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Operation Knight's Assault - continuing success

Today's round up of what's been happening in Iraq since Operation Knight's Assault began 2 weeks ago.

This is recommended reading for Frank Rich, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, all members of CodePink and MoveOn.org, and anyone with a registration at DailyKos. Those not named know who you are.

No, Sadr did not win
Austin Bay
…The Iraqis planned the operation and carried it out on their own, without consulting Petraeus and Crocker. Good deal. In the long run that plays well politically in Iraq and it corners Sadr — the US did not tell Maliki to go after Sadr. If the US had, Sadr could tout that “prior approval,” maintaining that Maliki is a puppet, etc. Instead, you have an elected democratic prime minister who happens to be a Shia ordering his nation’s troops to strike a Shia gangster.

…So what about last week’s instant narrative of doom? Is anyone besides me tired of it? The quick damnation of PM Maliki and the Iraqi Army’s efforts last week reveals an immense ignorance of warfare, one still rampant despite six-plus years of alleged experience; it displays not simply hasty, herd-mentality judgmentalism, but demonstrates in trump cards the sensationalist, fear-leveraging slant of most media coverage. Scare’em into reading the screed seems to be the herd-media’s order of business, and if that doesn’t work, affect deep moral outrage.
Bad to Worse for Moqtada Sadr?
Rich Lowry
...On the political front, Sadr now finds himself completely isolated. Key leaders of his own movement are now urging him to accept the Maliki government’s demands to disband the militia entirely.

Saturday, Iraq’s president and two vice-presidents, along with every other major political group in Iraq (except the Sadrists) joined in the condemnation of Sadr’s militia, and endorsed Prime Minister Maliki’s demand that the militia disarm. Sadr’s militia is now virtually the only militia left in Iraq that still maintains an outlaw posture, the only one that still challenges the authority of the Iraqi Security Forces or the Coalition. (Other major militias have disbanded, transforming into political organizations and joining — or becoming — legitimate security forces, which explains why you never hear about any other militia in the news.)

...Add to this the fact that the Iraqi Government’s largest independent military operation to date was against the one group in Iraq that the Sunnis fear the most, and the makings of a historic political reconciliation are obvious.

The news gets better still. Reacting to an effort to pass legislation (expected within days) that would disqualify any political party with ties to a militia from participating in elections, one of the Sadrists’ most prominent MPs in the parliament conceded that Sadr may have no choice but to disband the militia:
"We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament," lawmaker Hassan al-Rubaie said Sunday. "Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament."
...Al-Rubaie went on to say, "our political isolation was very clear and real during the meeting.”

More recently, BBC reports that the delegations to negotiate the militia’s surrender are on their way:

An MP for the Sadr bloc, Liqaa Aal Yassin, told the BBC Arabic service that two delegations would be sent - to Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf and Grand Ayatollah Kazem al-Husseini al-Haeri in Iran - to discuss the possible disbanding of the Mehdi Army.
Hundreds flee fight in Shiite stronghold
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

The headline should have been, "Sadr Damaged Politically," but this isn't bad for the AP.

…With the crisis showing no sign of abating, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki raised the stakes.

The Shiite prime minister told CNN on Sunday that al-Sadr and his followers would not be allowed to participate in politics or run in provincial elections this fall "unless they end the Mahdi Army."

Al-Maliki's statement followed a weekend declaration by top Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders to support legislation banning any party that maintained a militia.
Facing broad political opposition, key al-Sadr aides went on the defensive Monday, insisting that banning them from politics would be unconstitutional. They proposed talks to resolve the standoff.

"We are calling for dialogue as a way to solve problems among Iraqi groups," al-Sadr aide Salah al-Obeidi told AP Television News in the holy city of Najaf. "Al-Sadr's office affirms that the door is open to reach an understanding regarding these problems."
For continuing updates I recommend visiting IraqStatusReport.com, which has been added to the blogroll.

Finally, I said yesterday that "I can hardly wait for Hillary to repeat the 'willing suspension of disbelief' insult" to General Petraeus in today's hearings. This did not happen, but Senator Roger F. Wicker (R- MS), didn't let the opportunity pass entirely unseized:

It's been pointed out by previous questioners the dramatic difference that has occurred in Iraq since the surge began and since you last made your presentation to the Congress.

There's no question that the situation is better now, it's better than when the surge began and it's better than in September. It would take a major suspension of disbelief to conclude otherwise...
Best line of the day.

Monday, April 07, 2008

War Theater Critic

New York Times' former top theater critic Frank Rich, in an Op-Ed titled Tet Happened, and No One Cared, proves he should still be reviewing plays, not wars.

Here are some excerpts. I cannot recommend that you RTWT. The link is provided since you may otherwise have difficulty believing the NYT employs Frank Rich in his current capacity, and in any case, requires registration. (Numbers) are added.

(1)...The Project for Excellence in Journalism found that by March 2008 the percentage of prominent news stories that were about Iraq had fallen to about one-fifth of what it was in January 2007.

(2)...That's why it’s no surprise that so few stopped to absorb the disastrous six-day battle of Basra that ended last week — a mini-Tet that belied the “success” of the surge. Even fewer noticed that the presumptive Republican nominee seemed at least as oblivious to what was going down as President Bush, no tiny feat.

(3)...When the battle ended last week, Mr. McCain said: “Apparently it was Sadr who asked for the cease-fire, declared a cease-fire. It wasn’t Maliki. Very rarely do I see the winning side declare a cease-fire.” At least the last of those sentences was accurate. It was indeed the losing side — Maliki’s — that pleaded for the cease-fire.
Let us parse.

(1) Mr. Rich acknowledges that the Maim Scream Media™ have been doing a poor job covering the Battle of Iraq. He does not suggest any reason for this, nor even speculate that there may be one. As always, The Other Club is willing to assist even the deliberately clueless: The reason MSM coverage of Iraq is down is the overwhelmingly obvious success we have enjoyed there since mid-2007. Progress in Iraq does not fit the established MSM story-line, so it is not "newsworthy."

Mr. Rich's script cannot acknowledge that bias, so he dismisses progress in Iraq with scare quotes - "success" - as if it were not. This allows deployment of the MSM Quagmire Agenda.

The MSM has failed to cover the Battle of Iraq for many months now. Why did Mr. Rich wait to complain about this malfeasance? (If you think it's merely misfeasance, you don't get it.) Probably because he just now sees an opportunity to invoke the Tet Offensive sub-meme.

To summarize Mr. Rich thus far; "No one cares that "Tet" just happened in Iraq because the New York Times, for example, has not been doing its job."

You may quaintly interpret that job as reporting the facts, and, indeed, the New York Times has not been doing that. However, reporting the facts is manifestly not what Mr. Rich means. He means the job is to turn a military victory into a propaganda defeat.

(2) That, after all, is the Tet story-line. To theater critics of Mr. Rich's persuasion, the 1968 reporting on Tet represents the pinnacle of real journalists' power. While he was considering the epistemological subtleties of Hair!, they were bringing down a President and setting the stage for pictures of people hanging off helicopters above the American embassy in Saigon. Rich's "mini-Tet" reverie is penile-envious, atavistic nostalgia.

Rich's criticism is that the MSM is not positioned to properly seize the fifth-column opportunity to shout the "War is Lost" in Iraq when there's a spike in the fighting initiated by our allies (the opposite of Tet).

To interpret Mr. Rich's column otherwise, it is necessary to believe he is unaware of the fact that the Tet Offensive was a devastating military defeat for America's enemies. It is impossible to believe that he is unaware that it was American news media that promoted the propaganda defeat.

Nonetheless, Frank Rich really does mean that the events in Basra, his "mini-Tet," were disastrous for the United States and the Iraqi government; "It was indeed the losing side — Maliki’s — that pleaded for the cease-fire." This proves he is less familiar with the concept of analogy than your average theater critic.

If it was a victory, then it could not be a disaster. If it was not a victory, it wasn't like Tet.

For Rich, the actual disaster is that you have not "absorb[ed] the disaster." What is a propaganda disaster without followers? He does hint that he may vaguely understand his mistake with one throwaway line, "Even then, the result was at best a standoff, with huge casualties." "Even then," being the fact that the operation was planned, executed and commanded by the Iraqi government against outlaw Iraqis. The outlaw Iraqis are the ones who suffered huge casualties. Referring to large casualties without identifying who sustained them has become a standard MSM approach.

Rich intends us to assume that Iraqi government forces took "huge casualties," even though the freedom fighters Mahdi Army may have had casualties of its own. In fact,

From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting casualties at such a high rate during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.
And,
...Here is a synopsis of what those with "boots on the ground" have to say about our Iraqi allies and their adversaries:

— The Iraqis planned and executed the operation with little U.S. involvement and managed to commit more than 40,000 troops in high-intensity combat against well-armed, militia-terrorists in six cities — a feat that would have been impossible just six months ago.

— Conventional Iraqi Army and police units operated effectively together in multiple large-scale, simultaneous urban combat for the first time. Though there were inevitable "SNAFUs," most of the problems were logistical, not operational. All commended the courage and tenacity of the Iraqi soldiers.

— The Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) and Hillah SWAT units, with which we were embedded in December, killed or captured more than 200 "high profile criminals" for which they had arrest warrants. Most of those apprehended or killed were renegade members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaish al Mahdi — the Mahdi Army.

— Intelligence collected during the operation confirms that Iranian Quds Force fighters have heavily infiltrated southern Iraq and that Iranian weapons, explosives and equipment continue to be delivered to areas previously controlled by the Mahdi Army.

— Though the ISF lacks the sophisticated casualty evacuation and medical treatment available to U.S. troops, their compassion toward wounded and injured non-combatants rallied civilians to the side of the Iraqi government.

One U.S. commander summed it up this way: "This was a necessary operation — and it couldn't have happened without 'the surge.' By going after the Shiite militias, Maliki has proven to the Sunnis that he intends to be even-handed in the process of bringing law and order to Iraq. The Iraqi troops fought well in both day and night operations. Their officers and NCOs are leading from the front. The militias — and their Iranian sponsors — got their butts kicked."

On Tuesday, General Petreaus and Ambassador Crocker will likely use less colorful language to describe the increasing effectiveness and challenges facing our Iraqi allies. The only question: Are the administration's critics willing to listen?
Nancy Pelosi has already answered that rhetorical question. To think she would have answered any other way would require the willing suspension of disbelief of an entire village of idiots.

We also need to deal with (3). Maliki's "defeat" is an outright falsehood based on everything we know thus far. It is of a piece with declaring a "disaster," when the positives significantly outweigh the negatives.

THE IRAQIS STEP UP

...But what about the recent fighting in Basra, portrayed as a disaster by the media? "The Iraqi Security Forces conducted a number of targeted operations, took over the ports [key prizes that had been funding the militias] and are in the process of reestablishing checkpoints and security positions in the city.

"The Iraqi operation did reflect a willingness to take tough decisions about tough problems. It also displayed the Iraqi capability to deploy two brigades' worth of conventional and special-operations forces on less than 48-hours' notice, with another brigade following. That would not have been possible a year ago."

My source acknowledged that "the planning for Basra was incomplete and some of the local forces were incapable of standing up to the Iranian-supported rogue-militia elements." The quality of Iraq's security forces remains uneven - but he sees them as remarkably improved, in general. Their performance in Basra was more impressive than feature-the-bad-news reporting implied.

This officer doesn't paint over the cracks in the Iraqi house, but he's convinced that the Basra operation did "reflect a determination of a Shia-led government to deal with Shia extremist challenges."

For myself, I watched the Basra dust-up from Panama, amazed at the willful obtuseness of "war correspondents" who still refuse to acknowledge basic military realities. They demanded a level of effectiveness from Iraqi troops that the British had been unable (and unwilling) to deliver over the last five years.

Unlike the Brits, who faked it, the Iraqis went into the city and fought. Was their performance perfect? Of course not. But this is where the punditry got really interesting.

Many of the critics had previously lavished praise on the counterinsurgency manual that Petraeus midwifed. One of the most-quoted maxims from that document was T.E. Lawrence's admonition that it's better for our local allies to do something imperfectly themselves than for us to do it perfectly for them.

Well, the Iraqis stepped up to the plate. A few units folded. Others fought ferociously. They did what we said we wanted - and the critics raised the bar again. (Unfair criteria for success now may pose a greater obstacle in Iraq and Afghanistan than do al Qaeda or the Taliban.)

And, by the way, it was Moqtada al Sadr, not the Iraqi government, who requested a cease-fire - after being urged by the Iranians to opt to let those militias live to fight another day.
David Frum: The news from Basra isn't all bad
...And in the battle for Basra, these gangsters seem to have got the worst of it. It was the Mahdi Army that asked for a truce from the government. The Mahdi Army seems to have hoped that government action in Basra would trigger uprisings elsewhere in Iraq: Those did not occur.

The big news from Basra seems to be this: Just as the Maliki government secured peace in western Iraq by striking deals with the local Sunni tribes, so it now seems to have bought itself a constituency in the South — enough of a constituency anyway that it could stage and wage major combat operations without much assistance from the United States.

That’s more evidence that the central government is gaining strength. Yet more evidence comes from what is reported as the major piece of bad news from Basra, the role of the Iranians. Rather than sustain Sadrist resistance to the central government, the Iranians seem to have decided to back the same horse previously backed by the Americans.
Congressional hearings on the status of Iraq begin tomorrow. I can hardly wait for Hillary to repeat the "willing suspension of disbelief" insult. General Petraeus will be sorely tempted to mention that he, too, has flown into Tuzla. But he won't. He has more class.

Here are more examples of the kind of reportage and opinion on Iraq which Mr. Rich is unaccustomed to finding in the NYT. Worth reading.

Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish Parties Close Ranks Against Al-Sadr's Movement in Iraq

Iran joined militias in battle for Basra

Basra offensive a key step towards reconciliation?

Analysis: Iraqi PM wins rare support

Finally, we turn to Stephen Colbert for the best summarization of a typical Frank Rich column:
The October 14, 2007 Times featured Stephen Colbert guest-writing most of Maureen Dowd's column. In that article, Colbert satirically wrote: "Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay. There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too."[5]
Amen.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Canaduh Induhvidual suffers "social condition"

Fusing multi-cultural postmodern victimism with self proclaimed dumb white males on pogie*: The logically absurd conclusion of statist social policy.

This will be in the Democrat Party platform when they hear of it.

Read it.


*Pogie- probably from the French pogne ‘mitt, hand’ or pagaie ‘paddle.’ Apparently unrelated to other forms and spellings of pogie meaning candy, a workhouse or poorhouse, a jail, one of several types of fish (especially the menhaden), or, in Canada, a welfare benefit.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tet redux?

For the MSM and Congressional Democrats, perhaps. However, In the case of the decimation of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, one difference is that our allies initiated the combat. Another is that it was merely decimation, not the total destruction visited upon the NLF (Viet Cong) and PAVN (People's Army of Vietnam):
...In total, approximately 85,000-100,000 NLF and PAVN troops had participated in the initial onslaught and in the follow-up phases. Overall, during the "Border Battles" of 1967 and the nine-month winter-spring campaign, 75,000-85,000 NLF and PAVN troops had been killed in action.
So, when you read about Muqtada's "victory," keep in mind that Walter Cronkite gave our Tet victory to the Viet Cong. After Walter's pronouncement, the VC started to claim he was right. He certainly convinced the 1968 Senate Democrats.

In the present day, it's worse. Senate Democrats are already practicing escalation in the rhetoric of defeat.

The Mahdi Army would like to make their drubbing into a victory too as did the Viet Cong, and just weeks before General Petraeus reports to Congress the MSM cannot be expected to object. Conventional Maim Scream Media "wisdom" has it that Muqtada al-Sadr and his thugs have "won" a confrontation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The situation, as John Kerry would say, is somewhat more nuanced. Fortunately, we have independent observers on the scene. Here's a closer view from Bill Roggio:
...The reasons behind Sadr's call for a cessation in fighting remain unknown, but reports indicate the Mahdi Army was having a difficult time sustaining its operations and has taken heavy casualties. "Whatever gains [the Mahdi Army] has made in the field [in Basrah], they were running short of ammunition, food, and water," an anonymous US military officer serving in South told The Long War Journal. "In short [the Mahdi Army] had no ability to sustain the effort.

TIME's sources in Basrah paint a similar picture. "There has been a large-scale retreat of the Mahdi Army in the oil-rich Iraqi port city because of low morale and because ammunition is low due to the closure of the Iranian border," the magazine reported.

...According to an unofficial tally of the open source reporting from the US and Iraqi media and Multinational Forces Iraq, 571 Mahdi Army fighters have been killed, 881 have been wounded, 490 have been captured, and 30 have surrendered over the course of seven days of fighting. [I'm sure Maliki would not object to sustaining that attrition.]

...The Mahdi Army has also taken heavy casualties in Basrah. "The Iraqi security agencies killed 210 gunmen, including 42 dangerous criminals, while 600 others were wounded and 155 captured since the commencement of a military campaign in Basra," Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf told Voices of Iraq on Monday. "Security agencies seized a large amount of weapons including developed explosive charges, and dismantled three car bombs and 80 improvised explosive devices."

...The Mahdi Army took heavy casualties in the fighting for Nasiriyah, according to the provincial governor of Dhi Qhar. More than 85 fighters were killed, 200 were wounded, and 100 were arrested, said Governor Aziz Alwan, noting that the figures have not been finalized. Seven police were reported killed and 44 wounded during the fighting. Twenty-eight 28 civilians were killed and 60 wounded, many after the Mahdi Army launched mortar attacks on a civilian neighborhood.
RTWT

Here's Ed Morrissey. Remind me again -- who's losing in Basra?:
...Anyone who follows the news closely in Iraq knew this day would come. The British left a power vacuum behind in the south that the Baghdad government could not fill at the time, and Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigades filled it instead. They have fought each other and some smaller Shi’ite groups for control of the streets ever since 2005, as Steven Vincent tried to warn people just before they murdered him in Basra. The Iraqi government had no choice but to challenge the militias for control of Basra and the surrounding areas, but they waited until the Iraqi Army had enough strength to succeed.

Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.

Sadr now wants to disavow anyone with a gun. The Mahdis, which found themselves on the short end of the stick, have just watched their Fearless Leader surrender — again — and this time leaving them twisting in the wind. That isn’t the action of a victor. Perhaps our media would like to explain that in the context of their clueless reporting so far.
Bill Roggio update:
...From March 25-29 the Mahdi Army had an average of 71 of its fighters killed per day. Sixty-nine fighters have been captured per day, and another 160 have been reported wounded per day during the fighting. The US and Iraqi military never came close to inflicting casualties at such a high rate during the height of major combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq during the summer and fall of 2007.
Here's some footage of how those casualties were inflicted. The lasers are scary all by themselves, but the firepower brought to bear on Muqti's Minions is incredible.