Thursday, February 28, 2008

COIN's demise

The mega-trends of an insurgency are well described by W. Polk in the book I linked to below. But the day to day process of advancing and retreating fortunes are what our politicians depend on for their narrative of victory and defeat.

John McCain was on the losing side of the insurgency he faced as a combatant, but his sunny optimism about the current conflict (100 more years!) has been bolstered by the slick propaganda operation known as 'The Surge'.

Global Guerrillas points to an article by unembedded journalist Nir Rosen, The Myth of the Surge, and then points out:
This situation puts the US military in a difficult position, one that goes deeper than being caught on the horns of dilemma (as in: caught between supporting "former" insurgents or government forces). The improvised theory that led the US military to fund the insurgency (the "Awakening") has transformed the US Counter-Insurgency doctrine (COIN) -- a document was so carefully prepared and announced with such fanfare -- into a mere pile of paper. Why? Because we have abandoned the doctrine's binding assumption: that everything we do in counter-insurgency should increase the legitimacy of the host government. Essentially, the abandonment of our doctrine means that the US military is now completely adrift in Iraq without a counter-insurgency roadmap.
As usual, the guiding compass for actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere is domestic politics. The mess worsens, becomes more complicated and expensive, but the press has stopped talking about Iraq. Victory!

Speaking of Kosovo, the recent recognition by the the US and the EU of Kosovo's independence could easily lead to another insurgency. William Lind's article Kosovo: Fools rush in discusses the mess being created there. Lind proposes a conference to defuse the Balkans, but we know that Feckless Leader doesn't do conferences, unless they're useless, such as Annapolis.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Voilent Politics

I've just finished Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq by William R. Polk.

Highly recommended. Informative and well written.

Polk examines insurgencies from revolutionary America to Afghanistan, discussing why they started, why they were successful or failed, and the strategies of the insurgents and their opponents.

A major point is that if the causes of the insurgency remain (rule by an outside group), the insurgency will remain until victory, even if there are pauses. Thus for the invader there is no victory in the long run.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another try

The Air Force Times rehashes the loose nukes episode, pointing at the safety record that showed a decline over the last years. The last Blog Simple post on this story quoted the AF Times on the database that was supposed to track safety incidents:
The response he received went only as far back as June 2001 because the ACC Safety database no longer has any records of Dull Sword incidents from 1992 to 2001, said Maj. Thomas Crosson, an ACC spokesman. Air Force officials could not explain why those incidents got deleted from the database.
The latest article puts a different spin on it:
The records Kristensen received in response to his FOIA request went back only as far as June 2001, because the Dull Sword ACC digital database was not created until 2005 as part of a mishap prevention effort, Gilstrap said. Before that, Dull Sword records were deleted once the problem was fixed, or two years after the initial report, he said.
So, the database was not created until 2005 and before that they were just deleted 'once the problem was fixed', or after two years. But why were there records that went back to 2001? Why would anyone destroy (delete is the same thing) records that reported on nuclear safety problems?

Congress and the press both seem uninterested in this issue, so frankly incredible stories can be reported and then ignored. Will the Air Force keep trying to come up with a better story, or will they hope that it just blows over?

Friday, February 22, 2008

February is yellow!

Here in Sonoma County, at least.

Subprime Primer

This lays out how the whole shitpile came to be our destiny very clearly.
The Subprime Primer
(Move through the slides by clicking the arrows in the lower left corner.)
(h/t the wonderful cryptogon)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tick, tick, tick

On Sunday, 60 Minutes will be running the strange story of the ex-Governor of Alabama Don Siegelman, a Democrat, currently languishing in a Louisiana federal pen, and from what I've heard it ain't no Club Fed neither.

Scott Horton of Harper's has done lots of reporting on the shenanigans in the US attorney's office in Alabama in this case and in others. Larisa Alexandrovna has also worked on the story, and has received word that there will be a push back in the Alabama newspapers (and elsewhere?) to smear her, Horton, and perhaps others including 60 Minutes.

Tivo programmed, check, popcorn supplies adequate, check, let's see where this one goes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Blog Simple is very proud that we had a visit from a reader at Humber College in Toronto via the Google search: which race has the biggest dick

The Clown Show, Episode 4687

Feckless Leader:
"It's now time for the newly elected folks to show up and form their government, and the question then is, will they be friends of the United States, and I certainly hope so," he said at a news conference in Ghana.
He's talking about Pakistan in his own inimitable way, and is quoted by this McClatchy article: "U.S. urges Pakistanis to keep Musharraf, despite election defeat"

Yes, keeping a soundly defeated ruler in power at the bidding of the US is how the victorious Pakistanis will prove themselves to be friends of the US. Perhaps the administration has confused the Pakistanis with the Democrats. Less enlightened peoples might think that elections determine who has power, we now know that elections are kind of like advice, to be ignored when inconvenient.

They also don't want the justices that Musharraf canned reinstated, that might mean the return of the rule of law to Pakistan. It sets a bad example here in the States where we now know that the ruler is above the law. Maybe we could send over Scalia or Alito to sit on the court.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

War Drums?

Bernard at Moon of Alabama puts together some signs that indicate another round of war in Lebanon might be upon us.

Today, gold and oil are up sharply. Could that be why?

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Short History of Psychological Terror

When you have an extra hour, watch this. I suggest having strong drink and/or drugs available to calm yourself afterwards.

It puts a lot of things in perspective, including what was done to US citizen Jose Padilla.

(h/t Uncle $cam)

The 'I' word

The recent spectacle of Republican Congresscritters marching out to hold a press conference as the House issued contempt sanctions for Miers and Bolten might be dismissed as the usual high spirits of our native criminal class. Scott Horton, however, is thinking differently:
Moreover, if the Justice Department’s report implicates not just Rove, Miers and Bolten, but also Bush in the decision to fire for improper reasons—a conclusion which is now looking extremely likely—then it will be up to Conyers’s committee to press the investigation forward. In so doing, he is entitled to conduct hearings on the footing of impeachment. If he does, the executive privilege objection interposed by the White House and backed in another Constitution-defying opinion of the Attorney General, would not apply.
Impeachment is the direct means to confront Bush's defiance of Congress. As Scott says, claims of executive privilege could not be made. Unless, of course, Bush is willing to open the biggest and perhaps last constitutional crisis of all time.

What I don't understand is, why now? Congress has been sitting on their pudgy little hands for over a year with many reasons to demand accountability. What has changed?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


With all the FISA folderol monopolizing the valuable time of the Senate, it's good to see that Senator Specter understands the nation's priorities. Until we get to the bottom of the Patriot cheating scandal, the game of football will remain under a cloud of suspicion, and our nation will be weakened and in danger.

The smoking gun in this case is the sinister fact that the NFL destroyed the tapes in question. All we hear about is that the CIA destroyed some silly torture tapes that were required for the 9/11 commission (as if that mattered). Meanwhile, willful destruction of vital evidence of major league cheating is admittedly carried out by the NFL right under the noses of law enforcement, and nothing is done.

Until now. Beware N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell. Bravo, Senator Arlen Specter!


The hankies are out and getting damper by the minute as the blog campaign against telecom immunity in the new improved FISA bill seems to have bitten the dust, big time.

Yes, all the 'write/call/fax' your Senator drum beating has failed to motivate our guardians of democracy to, well, guard democracy yet another time. Why?

Because supporting telecoms is democracy in action. These Senators have been bought and paid for by the telecoms, the oil companies, the financial wizards of Wall Street, not by you, dear citizens. They know the meaning of democracy and you don't. If they didn't, they'd be out of office as soon as you can say 'Cynthia McKinney'.

The unification of the money powers over the last half century means the end of any meaningful difference between the two parties, all that is left is just a pitiful squabble over the slice of the pie they get to divvy up. Beyond that our good Senators don't know anything, they don't want to know anything else.

So asking them to take a stand on something that doesn't address their raison d'etre is basically just embarrassing, Harry Reid has been going through contortions just to ameliorate the blushing cheeks that greet any pressure from people who have no clue as to 'the state of things'.

From that point of view it makes sense to give the executive dictatorial powers over all those pesky questions of torture, eavesdropping, corruption of justice, idiotic wars and the like. Who wants to be bothered? Just heroes like Feckless Leader, who will bear all the burdens on the Highway to Hell. Of course that means that his cronies are getting the biggest slice of the pie now, but that just cannot be helped. Four more years!


The Air Force is reporting 237 nuke handling deficiencies since 2001, or Dull Sword incidents, reports the Air Force Times. These are incidents that fall below the level of the 'loose nukes' episode that kept the nation enthralled, was reported last year. Hell, no one's perfect. And just to add to the hilarity, the Air Combat Command (ACC) was put in charge of maintaining a database that tracked these incidents starting in 1992. But...
The response he received went only as far back as June 2001 because the ACC Safety database no longer has any records of Dull Sword incidents from 1992 to 2001, said Maj. Thomas Crosson, an ACC spokesman. Air Force officials could not explain why those incidents got deleted from the database.
Here's a question, if nine years of records are lost, how much trust should we put in the subsequent records?

Monday, February 11, 2008


(h/t atrios)

Friday, February 08, 2008

NYT blues

Scott Horton takes the NYT to task. The debasement of the US press is so pervasive and uncontested that such episodes are routine, so it's nice to see the bastards called out now and then.

The establishment media has been complicit with the crimes of the Bush administration. They remain so. Congress is supine. The American public is addle-brained about their own self-interest and has lost touch with any reality but that which is fed them by their masters. It's the perfect type of slavery, until the bill must be paid.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another one bites the dust

And it's Mittens, he of the mighty shoulders and lame campaign.

To lose the Republican nomination is one thing, to lose it to John McCrazy is a feat that should go down in the history of political ineptitude. McCrazy is hated by at least half the party and the other half doesn't like him much, but Mitt managed to make them forget all that.

Now only Huckleberry and a Democrat stand between McCrazy and the ability to launch more and better wars around the globe. Maybe he's just been fooling about that stuff, you never know, but he's fooled me pretty good. It's hard to believe anyone could be worse than Feckless Leader, but McCrazy's warmongering, before even being elected, makes that a possibility.

Strange days.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


After the thrills and chills of Sunday, today is going to have to put on a pretty good show to be labeled Super.

On the Democratic side, there is a pretty good horse race between two candidates that certainly look differently, but differ very little when it comes to the policies they've outlined. As usual in American politics, outlining policies is seen as a giant gotcha, so the best candidate is the one that says less. Obama seems to win that dubious struggle.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side there is also a two candidate race, but one of them seems to have disappeared. I've seen the rather unpleasant McCrazy everywhere, while Mittens seems to gone into hiding, and that's got to be tough with those big shoulders. Our national press seems to have anointed McCrazy without the help of the pesky electors, wouldn't it be easier to just dispense with these tiresome formalities?