Archive for October 13th, 2006|Daily archive page

Attack of the 10-foot Afghan Marijuana Plants

CNN is reporting that Canadian troops are having some difficulties.

Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy — almost impenetrable forests of marijuana plants 10 feet tall.

[…]

“We tried burning them with white phosphorous — it didn’t work. We tried burning them with diesel — it didn’t work. The plants are so full of water right now … that we simply couldn’t burn them,” he said.

Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.

I guess that last is a matter of opinion.

Anyway the original article is short and fun. Read and giggle.

Hat Tip: DefenseTech

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Bushwacking the Truth

Fred Kaplan has an excellent piece up at Slate about the backstory to the current North Korean crisis. He uses a McCain campaign misstep to frame the article but the contents are pure history. This is a who did what, when kind of thing. (What won’t be written when the House Ethics Committee is finished investigating Mark Foley.)

The meat of the article is how the Agreed Framework, the US-North Korean arrangement, was bombed by the Bush administration.

The accord fell apart, but not for the reasons that McCain and others have suggested. First, the U.S.-led consortium never provided the light-water reactors. (So much for the wild claims I’ve heard lately that North Korea got the bomb through Clinton-supplied technology.) Congress never authorized the money; the South Koreans, who were led by a harder-line government than the one in power now, scuttled the deal after a North Korean spy submarine washed up on their shores.

Second, when President George W. Bush entered the White House in January 2001, he made it clear, right off, that the Agreed Framework was dead and that he had no interest in further talks with the North Korean regime; his view was that you don’t negotiate with evil, you defeat it or wait for it to crumble.

Third, a few months into Bush’s term, evidence mounted that the North Koreans had been … not quite violating the Agreed Framework but certainly maneuvering around it. Confronted by U.S. intelligence data in October 2002, Pyongyang officials admitted that they’d been enriching uranium—an alternative route (though much slower than plutonium) to getting a bomb.

It should be noted that the bomb that the North Koreans set off on Sunday was apparently a plutonium bomb, not a uranium bomb. In other words, it was a bomb made entirely in Bush’s time, not at all in Clinton’s. [my emphasis]

The entire article is well worth the read. It puts most of the current Republican rhetoric into perspective. Especially Bush’s press conference on Wednesday.

Now, if someone would just wack Bush instead of bushwacking the truth.

Quicky: Translating Politics.

For a quick snigger at the cost of Tom Reynolds, check out Damned Spot: A Foley Apology over a Slate.

Democratic Cross?

The LA Times ran a story last night about an upcoming book from a former White House aide. But in the current political climate, this won’t be just any book and this isn’t just any aide.

A new book by a former White House official says President Bush’s top political advisers privately ridiculed evangelical supporters as “nuts” and “goofy” while embracing them in public and using their votes to help win elections.

The former official also writes that the White House office of faith-based initiatives, which Bush promoted as a nonpolitical effort to support religious social service organizations, was told to host pre-election events designed to mobilize religious voters who would most likely favor Republican candidates.

The assertions by David Kuo, the former No. 2 official in the faith-based initiatives program, have rattled Republican strategists already struggling to convince evangelical voters to turn out this fall for the GOP.

The book, “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction,” due out in stores on Monday is another example of GOP disarray. This time the sniping isn’t coming from the center of the Republican party, but from a side not normally expected, the religious right. This book is being written by a former Republican aide. According to what I am reading, the Foley scandal was leaked by a former Republican aide. Do you see a pattern here?

Keith Obermann started the whole thing by stealthily obtaining a pre-release copy of the book. (Someone from his show walked into at bookstore and asked for it. That’s investigative reporting!) Olbermann continues with the raking of the muck.

Kuo, who has complained publicly in the past about the funding shortfalls, goes several steps further in his new book.

He says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as “the nuts.”

“National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy,’” Kuo writes.

So if I read between the lines correctly, Kuo has written a book describing his experiences in the Bush administration where he seems upset that the faith-base initiatives were politically motivated. Well – DUH!

Did anyone really think Karl Rove was a wondering preacher? I would have been surprised if he had said, “Office of Faith –Based Initiatives? How many people and how much money do you need?” Instead he is being quoted with “I don’t know – just get me a f#cking faith-based thing! Got it?” Well, yes Mr Rove, I think I do. (Aside: The New Republic  is saying that Rove pressured Mark Foley into running again even though Foley was thinking about retiring. Oops. His bad!)

Of course this isn’t new news. It isn’t even newish. From a story on Stateline.org from March 15, 2005

The Rev. Jim Dickerson is founder and pastor of the New Community Church, a highly active, interracial congregation in Washington’s inner city. He should be a perfect candidate for George Bush’s faith-based initiative, a soldier in the president’s “army of compassion.”

[snip]

I listened,” he says, “but it was quickly obvious this was just a smokescreen to recruit blacks and minorities into the Republican party by bribing them with money and access to power — even while covering up cuts in vital social programs and giving big tax cuts to the wealthy.”

Will the Democrats use this to crucify Bush? Probably not.

This book will be released four weeks before the election. Another bullet in the Democratic political revolver. And it does make a nice silver bullet. (Now, do the former Republican aides Democrats have three bullets left?)

Cut and Run

First the Democrats now the British – who’s next?

According to The Daily Mail, The New York Times , Washington Post and probably every single news outlet including China Daily, the top British Army officer now seems to be calling for the United Kingdom to ‘Cut and Run.’ The Daily Mail has an exclusive interview with Richard Dannatt, Chief of the British General Staff.

The head of the Army is calling for British troops to withdraw from Iraq “soon” or risk catastophic consequences for both Iraq and British society.

In a devastating broadside at Tony Blair’s foreign policy, General Sir Richard Dannatt stated explicitly that the continuing presence of British troops “exacerbates the security problems” in Iraq.

Snap! Ouch! Who’s still left in the coalition of the willing?

I think this is part of an evil redcoat plot to weaken the colonies concerted British push to effect the American elections. First, the obviously liberally biased, scientific journal rag, ‘The Lancet,’ publishes a study into the number of deaths in Iraq. (A study giving estimates that George Bush seems unable to counter – just deny.) Now one of the most liberal weak kneed members of the British community – the Chief of the General Staff – believes, as quoted in the Daily Mail, ‘our  presence in Iraq exacerbates’ the ‘difficulties we are facing around the world.’

Maybe George Bush should get a coalition together and just show those people what for! Let’s call up our closest allies and invade. Now where’s the number of – um – wait, it’ll come to me in a second – um – Poland? No they want to ‘Cut and Run.’ The French aren’t even worth of naming fried potatoes after. The Germans have turned into wimps. Oh! I know. We’ll talk to Tony Blair. No. Wait! Damn!

Those evil Cut and Runners!

Lanced

There seems to be quite a bit of debate going on about the new Lancet study. Even I got a comment.

A opposed to going into the details here, I simply point my readers to ScienceBlogs. We have Tim Lambert with all these posts and more.  Then there is Mark Chu-Carroll at Good Math-Bad Math discussing the method and the follow-up. Finally, there is  Mike Dunford, with a discussion of the flaws in the study.

I will wait for some of the dust to settle, but my opinion still holds. Why did the both the Washington Post and New York Times bury this story page 12? Even if one takes the bottom end of the error bars (approximately 425 000), the number is scary.

As to my commenters ‘math,’ about bodies piling up, I simply quote the NY Times

The military has released rough counts of average numbers of Iraqis killed and wounded in a quarterly accounting report mandated by Congress. In the report, “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” daily averages of dead and wounded Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police officers rose from 26 a day in 2004 to almost 120 a day in August 2006. [my emphasis]

[…]

The mortality rate before the American invasion was about 5.5 people per 1,000 per year, the study found. That rate rose to 19.8 deaths per 1,000 people in the year ending in June.

Even if one accepts the total number of military, insurgent and civilian deaths to be around 100 000, isn’t that too many ‘extra’ deaths to achieve chaos? And yes, I do count insurgent deaths because, without an American presence, there wouldn’t be an insurgency.