May 31, 2006

Geekiest Thing On The Internets Of The Day

This is so geeky it's like super-duper geeky on steroids.

h/t Meryl Yourish.

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Change Of Course Or A Poison Pill?

I'm amazed at the naivety of some media pundits regarding Condoleeza Rice's proposal to the Iranians. It's being trumpeted as a major change in U.S. foreign policy. It is not that at all. Here is what she said:

The positive and constructive choice is for the Iranian regime to alter its present course and cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue, beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as well as full cooperation with the IAEA and returning to implementation of the Additional Protocol which would provide greater access for the IAEA. This path would lead to the real benefit and longer-term security of the Iranian people, the region, and the world as a whole.

. . .

Thus, to underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance the prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.

Iran has stated publicly that they have no intention of giving up their right to process uranium. Today they repeated the assertion:
The Iranian news agency said Iran accepts only proposals and conditions that are in the nation's interest. "Halting enrichment definitely doesn't meet such interests[.]"
They've reiterated their insistence on nuclear research countless times. In fact, they've already called Rice's overture "a propaganda move."

Well, of course, it is.

You see, Rice's proposal contains a poison pill -- a condition designed to be unacceptable to the Iranians. Upon Iran's rejection of the offer, we can re-claim the rhetorical high ground we lost when Ahmadi-Nejad sent that stupid letter. We are attempting to regain the "initiative," which is a military analogy that means that we're trying to control the game by placing our opponent on the defensive.

Iran either accepts the conditions or they don't. Either way it's a win-win for us. If they accept the conditions, we gain time to promote regime change from within (assuming the Bush administration takes my advice). If they reject the offer, we gain leverage with our allies and public opinion (assuming we spin it right). Or, you can look at it another way: if the Iranians agree to stop enrichment, they would look really bad if they started it up again for any reason.

Look, regime change is the ultimate goal here and everyone should know this. Ahmadi-Nejad is a bigger nutcase than Saddam ever was, and infinitely more dangerous. We cannot be safe as long as Iran is controlled by religious extremists who hate us. Democracy in Iran is the necessary next step in any permanent solution to the problem of Islamic terrorism.

If you look at what we did to set up Saddam Hussein, you'll see we used the same poison pill method. On the eve of war, we proposed a multi-layered ultimatum which Saddam could not possibly have satisfied. He tried submitting a 12,000 page Declaration of Compliance, but of course that hastily prepared document never had a chance. And the ultimate result is that Saddam is now in prison instead of ruling Iraq.

Now, in the case of Iran, we need to manuever them into a position where we can take out the regime without using the military option. At least I hope that's the plan, because attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in the near future would be politically disastrous, if not technically unfeasible.

But the Iranians have a poison pill of their own, which they haven't yet trotted out. It's called the "security gaurantee" card. When the time is right, they will play it, don't worry. Iran will demand that we give them the same assurance we once gave to Castro: that we won't try to overthrow the current government. As I pointed out above, regime change should be our ultimate goal, and therefore we must never agree to that condition. If Iran plays the security guarantee card effectively, they may regain the rhetorical advantage unless we are ready to counter it.

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Water News

I got an idea, fill the bucket with confetti!

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Wednesday Is Poetry Day

I blogged about starlings once before. I guess it's time to do it again.

If you love birds like I do, check out Joelle Biele's poetry.


To a Group of Starlings

All day you’ve chased the nuthatch, the titmouse,
the purple finches in the trees, and now
you strut down the street like overgrown boys,
raccoon coats hiding your matchstick legs,
the sidewalk your grand runway, and you’re
boys on newspaper boxes, little drummers
playing buckets and pails, shoe-shine men calling,
hustlers, shiny watches, the old shell game.
Bird of midnight sheen, of oil and ink,
of trashcans in the alley, you’re
my hard-times bird, my hand’s shadow.
You swarm over the roofs like thought
before it falls, you shoot from the furnace
with the coming rain, dirty stars, faraway flames.



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May 30, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 37

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Bonds Sets Sights On Hank

I don't want Barry to beat Hank. Barry may be the most amazing hitter I've ever seen, but as a cheater, it would be a disgrace for his name to top the legendary Hank Aaron's. Barry should quit after this season.

Carl the gardener would know what to do.

What you've got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg right at the bottom... he'll push everything off to the right. He'll never come through on anything. He'll quit the game.
Alas, Barry is thinking of coming back.
Now 40 home runs shy of catching home run king Hank Aaron, Bonds believes he may have another season in his 41-year-old body.

"If my health feels good and if I feel I can play," said Bonds, who turns 42 in July, "then I'm going to play. If I'm healthy enough, it's a good shot. It's still a long way away. We're still in May. Anything can happen between now and then."

Quit, Barry quit.

In anticipation of setting the new record, Barry has decided to change his image, too.

"The funny part is that it's brought out a softer side to me. And I don't want to go back to the other side. I'm having more fun. It's probably hurting my career more than anything because I'm not mad. I'm just happy."
A softer side? Well maybe getting off the roids had a little to do with it too...

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Iran News

From AP:

Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that Tehran is ready to restart negotiations with the European Union on its nuclear program, but he ruled out direct talks with the United States.

"I announce that Iran is ready to respond positively to the call" made by the Nonaligned Movement "for resuming the negotiations on Iran's nuclear issue without any preconditions," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters.

"Accordingly, I would announce our readiness to restart immediately the negotiations with the EU Three to resolve the issues," he said, referring to Britain, France and Germany.

The announcement raised hopes that Iran would react positively to a planned package of incentives meant to convince it to abandon uranium enrichment. The package has been put together by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

Come on. "Raised hopes?" Among who? I hoped that Santa Claus existed, but it didn't happen. Iran is not going to stop enriching uranium, and they are playing everybody for fools. They also announced that bilateral talks with the U.S. are out. Like that was going to do any good anyway. But maybe we can stop hearing about how we're the bad guys 'cause we don't want to talk to them.

You wait. Negotiations will start again, then in a few months the Iranians will either break it off or do something that will cause us to stop talking and spend another five months ramping up for a security council meeting. This cycle can go on as long as they need it to. Diplomacy alone cannot succeed here. If the goal is to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, only regime change can solve the problem.

Here is the real reason why the Iranians want to talk now. They have run into some technical problems that they need to sort out.

Diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the topic's political delicacy, say that Iranian engineers stopped pouring a raw form of uranium, called UF6, into arrays of centrifuges after just 12 days, even as the nation erupted in celebrations of the enrichment feat. The reports, which have now been widely circulated, say the Iranians kept the empty centrifuges spinning, as is standard practice because slowing the delicate machines can cause them to wobble and crash.

. . .

[O]n April 11 . . . the Iranians announced that they had enriched uranium to the low levels needed to fuel a nuclear reactor. They depicted the achievement as just the start of a sprint. "Our young scientists are working day and night," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is in charge of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, told an Iranian television interviewer the next day. "People are shocked and surprised that this has happened so quickly."

Then, on April 28 in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the Iranians were assembling two more cascades, or strings of centrifuges, each consisting of 164 machines. On May 17, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a research group in Washington that tracks the Iranian program, told Congress that those cascades were expected to start operating in May and June, respectively.

But in an interview last week, a diplomat close to the international watchdog agencies disclosed that the atomic agency would report soon that the Iranians had made little progress on the new cascades.

That would be a setback, at least as measured by Iran's declared intentions. It has said the pilot plant is to hold a total of six cascades made up of 984 centrifuges — a goal nuclear analysts expected Iran to achieve later this year. They see that as roughly the minimum number of centrifuges Iran would need to enrich enough uranium to make a single bomb. Analysts say that if the complicated plant worked reliably and efficiently, and if Tehran decided to throw out the inspectors and abandon its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, using the cascades to make fuel for a nuclear weapon would take a little more than two years.

Whoa, what happened to the ten year estimate everybody's been throwing around?

And here's the quote of the day, from a German:

"They've cracked the code," one senior German official said last week. "We're kidding ourselves if we think we are going to deny them the knowledge" of how to produce nuclear fuel.
He's right. That's why regime change is the only answer.

Iran is clear on one thing. They will not stop enrichment, even if the negotiations begin anew, and even if the EU offers the incentive package that's been floated.

"They say that they want to give us incentives. They think that they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange," hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier this month.

"We don't need incentives. There is no need to give us incentives, just don't try to wrong us," he said.

"Or stop us," he might have said.

Update: Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times makes the case for negotiation. The central focus of any negotiation with Iran is to answer to these questions:

Is there anything Iran wants more than a nuclear weapon? If so, is what Iran wants instead in any sense reasonable? If what Iran wants is not reasonable, is there anything reasonable that Iran would accept in exchange for a verifiable end to its nuclear program? The answer to those questions may be "no," "no" and "no." But we would be better served by demonstrating that the answers are "no" than simply by assuming and asserting they are.
Put me in the camp with those who think negotiation is futile. Ultimately futile, but worthwhile if we use it to our advantage like the Iranians are currently doing. You see the Iranians negotiate in bad faith to buy time. But we need time too. We need it to stir up internal unrest, promote internal division and opposition to the mullahs, and then covertly support a counter-revolution. It's the only way, short of the military option, that we can ever be sure of stopping the Iranian bomb.

So I say yeah, negotiate. Put on a good show, but we sure as hell better be doing something else too while we still have options. I worry that the Bush administration is not able or willing to multi-task like the Reagan administration was. A linear strategy like: "First try diplomacy, then if that doesn't work try sanctions, then if that doesn't work..." is a losing strategy. Reagan's offensive was multi-faceted and complex. We don't think of it that way because we only remember the brouhaha over the missiles. But the Bush administration really ought to be studying the Reagan model more closely.

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May 29, 2006

Great Men Honored By A Great Man In A Hallowed Place

I cannot hear this speech without breaking up when he gets to the words "Why... why did you do it?"

This was one of a handful of truly great speeches of the post war era. It's closing lines are what Memorial Day is all about.

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Memorial Day Links

I couldn't recommend any Memorial Day post more highly than this one, from Cassandra of Villainous Company.

Also read this angry poem: "Who Cares if A Soldier Dies?" re-posted at I Love Jet noise.

Take a Memorial Day trip through the National Mall with Romeocat. There are plenty of great pictures and video from her recent visit.

And this video is unabashedly patriotic and fun. h/t Sanity's Bluff.

God bless America's heroes and defenders.

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May 28, 2006

Another Way To Remember Memorial Day

Readers of annika's journal don't need to be reminded about Memorial Day, or what it stands for. But here's another way to honor those who died to preserve our freedom. Make your voice heard to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross.

soledadcross.jpg

The Thomas More Law Center, which does such great pro bono public interest work, has prepared a letter asking the president to help preserve the Memorial Cross from efforts to destroy it by secular zealots.

I'm not exactly sure why a tiny group of chronic complainers feel so threatened by this cross and other symbols meant to honor our nation's heritage. But they won't stop until all traces of religious faith are erased from public sight. And then they'll find something else to destroy. They only reason they are succeeding is because they complain so loudly while we who disagree stay silent.

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Fifth Fleet Poetry

helldiver.jpg

Here's a little piece of doggerel I came across, which will probably only appeal to my fellow aviation nuts. I found it in Clash of the Carriers, a great book I'm reading about the First Battle of the Philippine Sea (otherwise known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot).


Oh Mother, dear Mother, take down that blue star,
Replace it with one that is gold.
Your son is a Helldiver pilot;
He'll never be thirty years old.
The people who work for Curtis
   are frequently seen good and drunk.
One day with an awful hangover,
   they mustered and designed that clunk.


Navy aircrews nicknamed the Curtis SB2C the "son of a bitch 2nd class." It was not popular.

Check out the animation section in this link. If you follow the "planes and commanders" link, then click on "radio newscast of the battle," there's a pretty cool vintage audio broadcast.

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Remembering Vietnam

Country musicians Big & Rich pay tribute to the sacrifices of our Vietnam heroes in the song and video, "8th of November." It's very touching and well done. See it at Tammy's blog.

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May 27, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 36

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Now, it seems there are apocryphal Peter Pumpkin stories too...

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Ben Franklin Rap

Check out Smallholder, layin' down a Ben Franklin rap over at Naked Villainy.

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How Come Nobody Told Me About This Place?

Here's another reason this NoCal girl prefers SoCal these days: the Camarillo Premium Outlets.

When I told Betty that I needed some shoes and pants for work, she said, "I know just the place." Now I've been to the Vacaville outlets many times, and when I'm in Sacramento I usually go to the Folsom outlets, but neither compares to the Disneyland for shoppers known as Camarillo. I understand now how people can afford to live in L.A. The money you can save here is good for at least a couple of mortgage payments.

They got Nine West, Ann Taylor, Diesel, Bebe, Nike, Saks, Jones New York, Big Dog, the list goes on and on. The place was packed with people. I got a $70 pair of platform slides for $39 and the perfect khaki pencil skirt for work. Also a Timberland shirt for the boyfriend's birthday coming up. Unfortunately the summer shorts I've been needing eluded me. I have to go back.

Two additional attractions: it's on the flight path of the Camarillo airport and it's next door to a bunch of strawberry farms. I think I saw a P-38 landing, and afterwards we drove down the road and got fresh strawberries. So I'm a happy camper.

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Most Amusing Thing On The Internets Of The Day

Continuing on this jailhouse theme: some folks refuse to take getting arrested seriously.

[How much you wanna bet Casca starts hanging out at County after seeing number 4?]

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May 26, 2006

Just Tryin' To Help Out

Everybody knows I'm a Republican and therefore am good friends with Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. So with the recent unfortunate unpleasant verdicts, I thought I'd do what I could to ease the transition to their new lifestyle.

I consulted the Prison Bitch Name Generator.

Herafter Ken Lay shall be known as: "Queer Johnny," and Jeff Skilling shall be known as "Butt Blaster."

Nice monikers.

Just out of curiosity, I checked my own. It is "Ben Dover," which, coincidentally enough, is the name I used when I did that 5 year stretch for check kiting back in the '90s.

Update: A little more research on folks who are (or should be) in prison yields the following gems:

Michael Jackson = "Wannabe." As in wannabe startin' somethin?

Martha Stewart = "Backroom Baller." Sounds like an AC/DC song.

Ted Kennedy = "Fudge Packer." Thus the waistline.

Scott Peterson = "Man Hole."

O.J. Simpson = "Glory Hole."

Saddam Hussein = "Honey Hole."

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Okay Which One Of You Put Down $5 On Month 20?

Brittany and Keverline are on their last legs.

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Badass Cars

I know you all really liked my Dukes of Hazzard banner for the car. Well, if you're a fan of the R/T, you should go here. Michele (yes, that Michele) has a post about it with some nice pictures.

By the way, I actually saw a sweet General Lee replica driving around town the other day. I wish I was quick enough with the camera phone.

Also (and this news doesn't have anything to do with Chargers, but it is related to the 70's car theme), one of the great car chase scenes ever filmed is now on DVD. The obscure 1973 film The Seven-Ups, starring Roy Scheider and Tony Lo Bianco, features a really long chase that takes place in and outside New York City. My brother, who's an expert on these things, says this chase scene is better than Bullitt's, and I can't disagree.

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Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 35

PPTSP35.jpg

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