Why the desire to pull the troops out of Iraq in the first place?


*posted first on Friday Feb. 10, here*

In the Australian today:

NO sooner did President Barack Obama welcome home American troops from Iraq and laud that country’s stability and democracy than an unprecedented wave of violence across Baghdad and elsewhere revealed the severity of Iraq’s political crisis.

Unfortunate, yet hardly surprising, even to the most casual of observers.

And whilst I can understand (yet not agree with) the Left’s position not to send troops into Iraq in the first place – an argument, largely moot, for another day – what I don’t understand is their fervish desire to pull the troops out.

It always smacked of idealism, ideology, rather than hard-nosed practicality.

After all, what was so bad with having a US troop presence there to help maintain Iraq’s fragile democratic stability?

One could argue that I am biased because a) I am centre-right politically and b) because I live in South Korea, a nation that has had a US troop presence – some 37,000  28,000 or so currently – since the armistice between North and South Korea and have seen what a permanent US troop presence looks like.

I am happy to accept those labels and can gladly tell you that such a presence ain’t that bad.

By and large,  US bases in Korea – and Japan for that matter – haven’t been a problem.

Sure, issues pop up from time to time, but if one looks at the big picture, then a strong US presence here can only be seen as a good thing, a safe option, a pretty darn good insurance policy against North Korea trying anything major on.

Almost 60 years we’ve had US troops over here without any major problems. In fact, many major problems (a full-scale Nork attack comes to mind) have arguably been averted thanks to this presence.

So, why the rush to leave Iraq essentially free of any US military  before even a decade is up and before, as is clear now, the job is done?

OK, so perhaps it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. US troops in Korea, aside from those stationed at the DMZ, aren’t on active duty as they were in Iraq.

However, it’s not a completely dissimilar situation. Perhaps a good analogy would be to compare mandarins and oranges.

US troops not only provided safety and stability in the fledgling democracy that is Iraq – a country still steeped with sectarian and tribal rivalries – but surely they also provided a deterrence to anybody or any groups who want to destabilise the nation.

What takes years to build can take mere seconds to destroy, and I fear a lot of hard work is being undone on the whim of a flawed, feel-good, ideology.

So why?

The only practical reason that I can see for Obama pulling his troops out of Iraq is that with an Iranian confrontation looming which includes action needed in Syria, Iraq frankly isn’t important enough any more or at best, an impractical option for a potentially over-stretched military.

Of course, Obama – a man of the progressive Left – can’t actually come out and say that but it is reasonably well-known to those who don’t just get their news from the MSM that Obama is actually more of a war-time president than Bush was, having committed more troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and for a longer period of time.

So whilst the MSM might play along with the “bringing the troops home” narrative, the evidence indicates this simply isn’t the case.

Some 20,000 marines, seamen and air crews from half a dozen countries, a US nuclear aircraft carrier strike group and three US Marine gunship carriers are practicing an attack on a fictitious mechanized enemy division which has invaded its neighbor. It is the largest amphibian exercise seen in the West for a decade, staged to simulate a potential Iranian invasion of an allied Persian Gulf country and a marine landing on the Iranian coast. Based largely on US personnel and hardware, French, British, Italian, Dutch, Australian* and New Zealand military elements are integrated in the drill.
Bold Alligator went into its operational phase Monday, Feb. 6, the same day as a large-scale exercise began in southern Iran opposite the Strait of Hormuz. This simultaneity attests to the preparations for a US-Iranian showdown involving Israel behind the words on Feb. 5 of US President Barack Obama (“I don’t think Israel has decided whether to attack Iran”) and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Feb. 3 (“The war itself will be ten times as detrimental to the US.”).

(*BTW, I don’t recall Aussie PM Gillard highlighting that one.)

And this:

As the US and Israel carried on bickering over the right time to strike Iran’s nuclear sites, their war preparations continued apace. debkafile’s military sources report that flight after flight of US warplanes and transports were to be seen this week cutting eastward through the skies of Sinai on their way to Gulf destinations, presumably Saudi Arabia, at a frequency not seen in the Middle East for many years.

Add into this mix reports that China will reportedly help Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb, and that both China and India have started paying Iran for its oil in gold thus helping thwart current US/UN sanctions (more of which were recently thwarted by Russia and China), then we see a stage set for a showdown and we see the reality that rhetoric aside, Obama won’t be bringing many troops home at all.

To someone who doesn’t know any better, it’s as if Russia, India, and China – all wannabe first chickens to the trough – are ganging up on America.**

PS Who wouldn’t love to be a fly on the wall listening in to what the US is really saying about China? Their ever-expanding use of soft power is in many ways, stuffing it all up for America. China must surely be becoming an ever-increasing pain in the neck.

This leaves Australia in an interesting position. Our main export partner is China. Our main ally is the US. We send China our goodies to help them get rich and rival America. We practice shooting our guns with America to help keep America on top.

And yet China and America are also so deep in each other’s pockets. America buys China’s goods. China buys America’s debt.

Fun times.

** I highly recommend reading The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. Part of the book talks about the pecking order of nations.

So which one?


Which Republican presidential nominee?

Having just spent an hour or so watching the New Hampshire GOP Republican debate, having gleaned various tidbits over the internet since a while back, I can honestly say I don’t know.

Yet.

In comments at that link, Ron Paul’s supporters come across as a tad too fervent, as does Paul himself. He just comes across as a bit whiney. Quick to complain about a problem but a bit wishy washy with any solutions.

Romney arguably won, but he comes off as Obama-lite+religion. He’s big government but I will say he’s tending to own his opponents. He does look presidential and has the establishment’s backing… not necessarily a good thing when up against Obama who REALLY has the Establishment’s backing and REALLY (at least) talks presidential (except here where he sounds about as formidable as Julia Gillard). Read the rest of this entry »

The fix is in


During the 2008 presidential election cycle, I wrote over 60 posts — including extensive analysis of the primaries and conventions — at my personal blog, The Vulture Lurks (recommended by 4 out of 5 curmudgeons). So far this election cycle I’ve written a handful of minor posts. Why the drop-off? That’s easy. This isn’t an election we’re witnessing. It’s a coronation, at least on the Team Elephant side of the ledger.

Why would I call it a coronation? How could I call it a coronation when there is no clear front-runner and the first primary hasn’t even occurred yet? Follow along as I read the tea leaves.


Conservative media: Fox News (“fair” and “balanced”) is in the tank for Romney. Big time. Some of Fox’s so-called analysts are so far up Romney’s butt that they taste his lunch mere seconds after he does.

Fox has proclaimed Romney winner of nearly all of the debates. Yet after one of the debates, Michele Bachmann surged into the lead in the polls. After another, it was Herman Cain. After yet another, it was Newt Gingrich. You should be getting the idea by now. No matter Romney’s showing, he’s the winner.

Every time Fox gets on the subject of the “Primary front runners”, Romney’s name is first on their lips. No matter where he is in the latest polling, first, second, even FOURTH, he is always “a front runner”. Meanwhile, if he is first or second, NO ONE beyond second place gets a mention. Hell, when he was in fourth place in an Iowa poll recently, the candidate ahead of him, Ron Paul, was omitted from mention in the front runners discussion. But not Mitt.

Talk radio isn’t quite as blatant; in fact, many talk show hosts are reluctant to be seen as endorsing anyone, such is the general distaste for Romney among the listening public. But almost without fail, all talk show hosts assert that no matter who the Republican nominee is, no matter how much they might deviate from conservative principles, we HAVE TO vote for them – ANYONE but Obama. Never mind that a vote for Romney is a vote for “Obama-lite”. You gotta do it!

Columnists of various stripes have wandered hither and yon regarding Romney. But two powerhouse conservative pundits have lined up foursquare behind him: Ann Coulter and Charles Krauthammer. Both of these two alleged conservatives have shelved principle and gone with “electable” as be-all/end-all for their candidate. Never mind that it was said of Ronald Reagan in 1980 that he was unelectable. This is different.

Bang the war drums: Every candidate still in the race, with the exception of Ron Paul, is obsessed with proving their warrior bona fides. “I would go to war with Iran NOW!”, one after another will thunder. The audience (God help us!) eats that shit up. It would appear that so-called conservatives have bought into the propaganda that never-ending pre-emptive war is “defense”. Again, God help us!

One is left in amazement that a candidate can spew vitriol with regards to all of the wasteful spending in Washington, and yet opine that the military, estimated to hit around $1.4 TRILLION in spending in 2012, needs to be beefed up. We’re drowning in debt, but without war-without-end and the trillions of dollars it requires, we’re going to be overrun by cave-dwelling terrorists, and conquered.

The military-industrial complex lives and thrives.

The Team Elephant elite: They’ve made it clear for over a year – Romney is their guy. I suppose they’d settle for Gingrich in a pinch (much as they settled for McCommie last cycle, when Rudy Giuliani was their preference). But they’re adamant. It WILL be Romney or an equally conviction-free statist. Period.

Do you really think the attacks on Governor Perry Gardacil, Herman Cain, and Michele Bachmann happened because Big Media (the BM for short) hates “real” conservatives and wanted to destroy them? Those attacks were friendly fire. Those attacks were orchestrated. Don’t be surprised if Newt succumbs to something similar to what happened to Cain between now and mid-January.


“Okay, Vulture. You believe there’s a coronation afoot. What do you say we do about it, smart guy?”

What CAN we do? Truthfully, we in the West have gone so far down the slippery slope to ruin that I don’t think it matters any more who we elect.We might crash and burn and start to recover sooner with one candidate over another.

But crash and burn we shall.

A Decade of Tim Blair — Blogger, Legend


Gavin Atkins at Asian Correspondent marks the milestone:

Blogger/journalist Tim Blair has never been one to take a lot of notice of plaudits, awards or milestones – in fact, he assiduously ignores them – but the recent passing 10-year anniversary of his blog should not go by without comment.

For many Australians of a conservative or libertarian bent, about ten years ago, just reading or watching the news was like being asked to wade through a floating garbage dump of dogma to try and read what was written on the ground. What’s more, most of us were left cursing, as only the most watered down of our thoughts would ever make it through as a letter to the editor.

Tim Blair changed all that with his blog that tackled the idiocies of the left pretty much as they happened. His blog filled a niche that conservatives were crying out for, and his comment sections soon became almost as entertaining as the articles. [...]

Along the way, he has invented terms such as Blair’s Law and the Gore Effect as well as alerting the world to the alarming tendency of lefties to tilt their heads in photographs.

And then there’s the Plastic Turkey meme, the new verbs “to beclown” and “to Fisk,” and probably a whole lot more that others can add in comments.

One thing Gavin didn’t mention was how global Tim Blair’s appeal has turned out to be  - in fact, one sledge often thrown at him by some of his resident trolls is that he has “too many” American fans and commenters.  For some reason, his Leftoid Australian detractors believed that was some sort of fatal “gotcha”.

Ah, his trolls!  Not only have Tim’s blogging efforts attracted some of the most clever and witty commenters over the years, they’ve seen him collect some of the most dedicated, demented, obsessive and sometimes just chuckleheadedly-silly assortment of sockpuppets and trolls ever seen in one place.

Go over and read Gavin’s whole piece, and be sure to leave your thoughts & favourite memories/recollections in comments either here or there.

Happy Tenth Blogiversary, Tim!

P.S. Where’s Wronwright with that mead…?

P.P.S. As our blogroll has been rather neglected of late, if you are one of the #BlairNation troupe of bloggers (new motto, #WeAreUs – thanks Julia!) and aren’t listed over on the right-hand side there ——->
just drop your blog link in comments and we’ll get it updated. Cheers.

UPDATE:  More comments now at The Blogfather’s here:  TEN YEARS OF LOVE.  As Puce would have said, CLICK.

Huge win for freedom


There are some, among them a certain troll who likes to hijack my blog’s comments for his small-minded rants, who are of the opinion that journalists must be accredited and licensed in order to hold that “lofty” title. I disagree wholeheartedly; had that sort of constraint been in place 250 years ago, individuals such as Patrick Henry would have been proscribed from publishing their treatises against the King of England, and we might still be no more than ragtag pommy colonies.

Apologies in advance to any Brits offended by the preceding paragraph. I was just being cheeky.

No, the tradition of the citizen-journalist is at the very bedrock of rights the founding fathers held most dear. Troll-boy’s protestations to the contrary, the reporting of news and spouting of opinion by mere commoners is of vital importance to the health of a republic.

And now a federal judge agrees.

Boston lawyer Simon Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007 when he used his cell phone to record officers making a drug arrest, and later sued the city and the officers for violating his rights. After the officers tried to having the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of qualified immunity, a Federal Appeals Court denied the motion last week and ruled that filming and photographing police is in fact protected by the First Amendment. They also note that the rights extend not just to professional news gatherers, but ordinary citizens as well:

“[...] changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status”.

How big is this news? Beyond big.

As I reported well over a year ago, it is a felony crime in the State of Maryland People’s Republic of Maryland to take video of the Maryland State Police Schutzstaffel in the course of executing their duties (such as shooting pet dogs, for example). Or, should I say, it was.

Now that we can confidently record the jackbooted jagoffs in action, I’m willing to bet that their behavior toward we mere commoners might just be a little less strident. We can only hope.

Disability and opportunity


Just a few thoughts on one of the many issues related to physical disabilities and the broader ideas of “opportunity” as presented by many groups.

 

I am fortunate in having only the one “easy to work around” problem, moderate deafness, but unfortunate in being caught in the trap of too severe for job positions (army, firies was a childhood dream, my metal trades pre-apprenticeship was wasted, no one would employ me with a pre-existing condition), but not severe enough for government assistance.

My biggest feeling of “let down” was precisely the organisations supposed to assist disabled. It is not realistic to tell people “they can do anything” throughout their childhood/teens, and leave it until they enter the workforce to discover, case by case, thats not the way it really is.

But this is all ground gone over a lot of times, my point today is how a large pool if talent may be being ignored by society as a whole due to a lack of opportunity for the disabled.

In effect it is extremely difficult to get a business up and running, usually requiring a good pool of capital as well as a few good ideas. For myself, I have one business running, and ideas for another 3, but lack of capital restricts me to my original venture for now.

To get access to this capital I have spent 20 years living “cheaply”, taking on a number of jobs, none earning much more than average wages. None of these jobs were what I wanted to do in life, most involved physical work.

But without the opportunity to have worked these jobs it would have been impossible for me to have saved the money necessary for my first big step to amassing assets (shares,houses), most of which has been sold to fund my business.

 

Thats the opportunity missing for most disabled,  particularly those with limited mobility. Just how does that segment of the population gain the seed capital needed? There is the option of a desk job, either public service or private, but it is extremely hard to be as “work mobile” as a physically able person, meaning the person may (without extra effort), become a little too reliant on that employer, and limit their skill set.

 

A considerable amount of time and effort is spent by various government agencies to place disabled people into the work force, if I may be heretical, some of that money may be better spent as a “silent partner” funding business startups for disabled people.

Indeed if I was to ever become massively wealthy its the kind of “not for profit” agency Id like to set up myself. As per usual for these type of businesses it would be a continual lossmaker, as most businesses tend to fail. I could see massive positives for society as a whole, and for the disabled individuals in particular. A few dozen wheelchair bound (vocal) millionaires would do more for disabled access to venues than a sea of government legislation. I want to see fantastically wealthy “wheelies” demanding things or they spend their money elsewhere. The existing model of disability services merely assumes a low/middle class life is all disabled aspire too. There needs to be better than this.

Best Australian Ad of the Year So Far: TradeTools Doesn’t {Heart} Julia


I love this ad.  I would marry this ad.  Hell, I would gay marry this ad.

PDF of actual ad from yesterday’s Sunday Mail at link; text of the prize rant below for clarity: Read the rest of this entry »

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