Monday, February 18, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Steven Spielberg recently stepped down as artistic adviser to Beijing for the upcoming Olympics, citing opposition to China's support for the Sudanese government. Apparently the Chinese are buying oil from, and selling arms to, despots...
Quick, someone tell Spielberg that the U.S. buys oil from despots, is the largest supplier of armaments in the world, and that our tax dollars support this. Then perhaps he'll punish us by refraining from making any further Star Wars prequels or sequels!!
China feels heat as activists take their cue from Spielberg
Spielberg Drops Out as Adviser to Beijing Olympics in Dispute Over Darfur Conflict
Spielberg Withdraws As Artistic Advisor To Olympics
2/20 UPDATE: Oops, the Star Wars movies are by George Lucas and not Spielberg....
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Looks like the next 30-45 days will be the home stretch for the two Democratic contenders for their party's Presidential nomination. Reading newspapers, online sources, blogs, etc. the reasons that many voters give (at least publicly) for preferring one candidate over the other are sometimes weak. An example is those that feel that a big differentiator has been the candidates' relative stances on Iraq, and/or that either candidate has shown any real leadership on this subject...
One freely criticized the war when 'on the outside' as an Illinois state senator. Then (now an 'insider'), when in a position to do more about it as a U.S. Senator, he was much more restrained, somewhat more equivocal, ramping up criticism as things went from bad to worse. The other, an 'insider' in a position to have an impact, cravenly went along then came out against the war only when it was clearly safe to do so! The difference is thus a matter of degree, neither has shown much real leadership in this area. If being more correct on Iraq is a predictor of suitability for the Presidency, then may I humbly suggest that this blogger, although in favor of removing Saddam all along, has shown himself as much (if not more) on the mark as either of the two candidates, viz:
- In September 2002, while in favor of removing Saddam, agreed that significant skepticism was legitimate re how the administration was "making its case." See OPED29 - Making "the case" against Iraq
- Also in September 2002 OPED30 Beyond Making the Case called for tactics that would have reduced the subsequent unrest e.g. avoiding any damage to civilian infrastructure; not targeting "regular" army but freezing troop concentrations in place until they could be moved to "surrender zones" (as opposed to bypassing them to race to Baghdad, allowing them to melt away, often with stocks of weapons that could then be used against the U.S.); articulation of a clear end game; guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Iraq; etc.
- In March 2003, before the onset of the war, decried the foolishness of the administration as it had frittered away the world-wide reservoir of good will, used bogus arguments and shoddy intelligence, etc. See OPED34 Mistakes Along the Way
- On March 25th, 2003, five days after the start of the war, and a good two weeks before the fall of Baghdad OPED37 Victory? attempted to define 'victory.' It stated that this would be hard to define and even harder to attain, and that "the U.S. administration can not content itself with military success, it will have to also achieve positive results in the political arena". It stated that some of the factors that needed to be included to ensure 'victory' were a) the need for solid evidence of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons to be found, b) a post-Saddam government carefully crafted and balancing the influence of Iraqi emigres with acceptable internal parties, c) that there be follow up to address other conflicts in the region, in particular the Israel-Palestinian conflict, d) that the U.S. not remain in bed with the monarchies, dictatorships, military regimes, and semi-democracies in the area, but begin the delicate task of encouraging movement towards democracy in these countries, etc.
- In July 2003 OPED38 Aces are Low lamented the wishful thinking that Iraq had arrived at yet another "turning point."
- As far back as March 2002 OPED21 Straight Talk on Hazar Qadam pointed out the flaws in the (then) quasi-cult status of Donald Rumsfeld.
- In November 2006 OPED44 What to do in Iraq pointed out the mental adjustments that needed to be made by the administration if it wanted to show progress in Iraq.
So, bottom line, on the issue of Iraq this blogger's record is as substantive as that of Senator Obama (see pages 5 and 6 of Obama Opposed the War from the Beginning). The difference of course is that this unknown blogger's opinion is a web page with perhaps 10 hits/month, while Senator Obama is a sitting U.S. Senator. However, each had the exact same impact on the course of actual events i.e. nil!
P.S. Just kidding re the vote, as an immigrant am not eligible :)
Sunday, February 10, 2008
... the unnamed Obama aides quoted below in a NY Times article (link below):
"The $32 million in January, aides said, came from 275,000 people who gave $100 or less. Ninety percent of the money came from online donations."
Obama Outshines Clinton at Raising Funds
... now admittedly they are a lot better at politics... and fundraising!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
- Hariri was killed by an explosion on February 14th, 2005.
- The Security Council established an international, independent investigation commission on April 17th, 2005 "to assist the Lebanese Authorities in their investigation.... to help identify its perpetrators, sponsors, organizers, and accomplices."
- In 2005 German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis was appointed the Commissioner of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission.
- January 11th, 2006 he left to become the Senior Public Prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General in Berlin, and was replaced by the Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz.
- On January 1st, 2008 Brammertz stepped down to become Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and was replaced by Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare.
- Just from June to October 2005 thirty investigators from 17 different countries were involved in the investigation, getting 244 witness statements, 293 investigator's notes, 22 suspect statements, 453 crime scene exhibits, and producing 16,711 pages of documents.
- The UNIIIC released its ninth report in November 2007, and reported that "progress has been encouraging...", and that it ".. is working to identify..." the two men who purchased the Mitsubishi van that held the explosives, "... continues to gather additional information on all the individuals and vehicles present at or close to the crime scene...", "... has also deepened and broadened its understanding of the possible involvement of a number of persons... who may have been involved..." Blah, blah, blah...…
Detlev Mehlis has now commented unfavorably on the progress of the UNIIIC, see Talking To: Detlev Mehlis Quote: "...I think people should not expect a trial within the next two to three years, unless the investigation regains momentum...."
02/16 UPDATE: Link to the 9th UNIIIC report:
Well, Bill Clinton was hailed as "..the first black president." Now,if Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination and is subsequently elected we apparently will then have "the first woman president..." at least according to Megan Beyer, wife of the former lieutenant governor of Virginia.
Washington Post: First Lady to Lead "Women for Obama
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Professors at the Seton Hall School of Law
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
- It may be closer to $713 billion for defense...
- "... The "Overview" section of the Pentagon's budget document contains a section called "Program Terminations." It reads, in its entirety: "The FY 2009 budget does not propose any major program terminations."..."
- And, somehow, the three branches get approximately the same amount of money ("... Army gets 33 percent, the Air Force gets 33 percent, and the Navy gets 34 percent.")
Monday, February 4, 2008
The British make much of the fact that they have reduced their nuclear warheads to 160, and have cut back from three to only one delivery system (submarines). However apparently they can not actually eliminate this residual capability since it is "needed" given that they can not "... be sure that a major nuclear threat to our vital interests will not emerge over the longer term..." per
"We maintain our nuclear forces as a means of deterring acts of aggression against our vital interests and not for reasons of status."
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Perhaps someone could ask each of them, "Senator, since the Democrats took over the Senate the Republicans have used the "silent" filibuster over one hundred times, thereby stymieing Democratic effors to pass legislation on topics that you feel strongly about e.g. FISA, SCHIP, and a host of other issues. Given your position in the Senate, can you provide even one solitary example of when there has been a serious philosophical difference between the two parties and you have been able to bridge the difference, or create a coalition, or "reach across the aisle" to defeat the silent filibuster and get the legislation passed?"
Bush Proposes First $3 Trillion Budget
The $70 Billion Hand-Off