When is a first strike not a first strike?
When it's Anticipatory Retaliation.

August 26, 2004

Doing The Lynndie

Bravo Romeo Delta

Used to be that everyone had their 15 minutes in the sun.

Now they get a web site, as well.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:31 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (0)

On Race, Part 2

Bravo Romeo Delta

In my previous post on race and the current state of discussion, David Weisman left this comment:

Just because I have a friend who would laugh and kid me back if I said to him, "You Idiot!", doesn't mean saying "You Idiot" to people is not by and large offensive.

Which by turns has me infuriated (for it is trite), exasperated (for it indicates that the larger point I was trying to allude to has been missed), and frustrated (because I really don't relish adding another deeply complex and seemingly intractable dilemma to the list of things I'm doing on vacation).

But, since being a blogger is virtually prima facie evidence of not knowing when to let something lie.

The first point to which I take specific objection is that there is a difference not in degree, but in kind, when one compares calling someone an idiot, and using the N-bomb [ed. not least of which you won't type out the n-bomb - no kidding].

For even using a word which happens to share similar letters without sharing the same root is sufficient to jeopardize a career. So we can probably agree that this level of societal immune reaction probably indicates that the sensitivity attached to this particular word is a wonderful proxy variable for exactly how much of the discussion of race in this county is the tip of a much more sinister iceberg. Moreover, the fact that some people are given free license to drop the N-bomb because they happen to be darker than I indicates that no, Virginia, this can't be swept under the rug by simply making some facile and witless analogy that summons all the intellectual and philosophical weight of "Sticks and stones ..."

As it happens, yes I've dated and lived with people of all stripes, shapes, and, yes, colors. I've no particular race-based bitch, and do think that folks get screwed from time to time, based simply on race (and a whole, entire host of other equally stupid issues). I personally despise true racism for philosophical, political, moral, and economic reasons. I have also seen, first-hand, the behaviors that allow racist stereotypes to live from one generation to the next.

What the hell does that above paragraph mean, you may ask. It shouldn't mean a goddamn thing. It should be, more or less, like saying "I know brunettes, redheads, and blondes." But the simple fact that one even feels that it is necessary to trot out some sort of experiential shibboleth before even speaking about race gives you a better idea of the scale of the rot underlying discussion on race.

I still encourage respondents to read this article. For the more significant problem is that race has turned into a societal Cold War. For all the same hideous and problems associated with peacekeeping have found their distant cousins in the language of political correctness and race-based this, that, and the other thing. All these efforts to be inclusive and diverse have simply stopped the melting pot from mixing and preserved segregation in new and inventive forms. These notions of creating a Potemkin reservation of ethnic identity in the US are, at worst, a recipe for Balkanization, and at best, Jim Crow segregation with new paint.

So, getting back to the original point, if we turned the tables and decided that if African-Americans can casually use the N-bomb, but it is prohibited by whites, then how about we go for one even a little bit less confrontation that using libelous slurs - how about whites can address each other by their first names (or blacks for that matter), but blacks are restricted to referring to whites by their proper titles.

Rankles a bit doesn't it? And yet, violation of the custom (of using proper titles) wouldn't be grounds for prosecution for a hate crime (the way dropping the N-bomb is), would it?

But, but, but...

Hush - I don't give a rat's ass about who can and cannot use which words - but in a world in which is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander, I don't want to hear people sliding past the fundamental ills of discussion on race in this country, with silly comments or foolish posts. And no, discussion on race doesn't mean that we all have the freedom to be nasty - it does imply that we judge others by the same standards we apply to ourselves (and vice versa). It does mean that honest commentary shouldn't die in a fusillade of indignity and wounded pride. It does mean that we have to hold accountable all of those poisonous fools who continue to thrive on hatred. And above and beyond all else, it means that everyone has to, at some point, get over it.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:15 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

August 24, 2004

On Race

Bravo Romeo Delta

Dean Esmay decides to troll his own blog (again) - this time with some pointed language intended (presumably) to jump start dialog on race. (Courtesy Doc Jawa) No doubt Oliver Willis will be busily taking offense.

As much as I'm inclined to write about this, I've written here about.

The only thing I feel compelled to add to the mix on this, is that it's the fact that I can get fired for dropping an N-bomb by someone who, in all likelyhood, could also be of the opinion that boycotting the Dixie Chicks (for their political views) constitutes an impingement of First Amendment rights.

So no, regardless of how I feel about this, that, or the other race issue, I'm not going to touch any of that crap with a ten foot poll.

Regardless of the relative merits of discussing (or being blunt) about such issues, the very level of passion that arises from such discussions tells me a lot about the relative prospects for ameliorating all hurts through open and impassioned exchange of views.

Rather, I simply look forward to a peaceful day when the color of one's skin does not limit or open up certain topics of discssion - and a day when it just doesn't occur for anyone to guide their communication based on color.

It may sound far-fetched, but just remember that there was once a time when such a dialog between Papists and Heretics would have been similarly unthinkable.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 04:16 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (3)

Contrarian Thinking About Elections

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ok, since my loyal readers probably have figured out where my vote will be going this November, let's look at the reasons that voting for the challenger might be a good idea. And I'll thank visitors for not descending into a frothing bout of nonsense and spouting things about voting for Kerry because he's not EVIL like Chimpy McSmirkybushhalliburtontexasoil.

One, just as a whole, if you look at the portion of the political process devoted to loathing Bush, then we note that there is a great deal of effort expended on a essentially fruitless activity. I mean hate, while entertaining, isn't an efficient use of societal resources.

Two, given the painfully blatant nature of media bias in the US and abroad, one could very well argue that a Kerry victory would make Iraq a success. Not that any substantial changes would occur on the ground, but rather the success we are meeting would actually get favorable press coverage - which is essential to the long-term success of the entire swamp-draining project that is the Middle East.

Third, another terrorist attack, including a very big one, is a virtual certainty. If one should occur a couple of years down the road under a Kerry administration, then perhaps, just perhaps, we could finally get past this hysterical nonsense about the War on Terror being a partisan construct, and maybe put national security on the table for both parties.

Fourth, a Kerry administration would reduce the amount of room that much of Europe to be obstructionist, and maybe get us some broader international support.

Then again, much of this could have been said about Reagan's reelection in 1984.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 03:53 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)
» Letters from New York City Retaliates with: Kerry: stupid or wise?

August 20, 2004

Run to the Hills

Bravo Romeo Delta

Am on vacation. Blogging erratic. No longer using complete sentences, either.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 07:05 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» Nakedvillainy.com Retaliates with: Maximum Leader Returns Pt Deux

August 19, 2004

The Yin and Yang of World Domination

Bravo Romeo Delta

War on Terror, my ass.

I again fear a rise of Asia as the West slowly decays into obsolescence.

Today's reason involves toilets.

See, here (scroll down to the picture of the toilet and start reading around there), we have the blissful experience of how the high-tech toilets in Japan for Japanese. Sort of a useful C3P0 or R2D2 of toilets, I guess. Or something.

Contrariwise, we have this experience in which one of these same high-tech, space-age crap receptacles has taken on a malicious life of it's own. Very Terminator-esque. No difficulty in seeing how this kind of thing will ultimately result in a Matrix-type scenario with machines turning on us and using us like so many pink, fleshy Duracells.

The kicker is, I suspect that the folks on the other side of the Pacific will sit merrily in their citadels protected by their powerful, yet benign, toilet technology, while we in the Western world are eventually overcome in an onslaught of porcelain and plumbing.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 12:10 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)
» Nakedvillainy.com Retaliates with: Maximum Leader Returns Pt Deux

August 18, 2004

So You Think You're Liberal?

Bravo Romeo Delta

At the core of many of the discussions (not arguments) about politics, I basically end up explaining to someone that I vote the way I do, not in an effort to preserve some sort of odd paleo-conservative moral rigidity, but rather because I care, above and beyond all else, about ensuring the safety of the Republic, its Citizens, and its Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And to be frank, the Democratic Party's record on defense has been waffling between sickeningly anemic and pathetically weak since Councellor Wormtoungue McGovern discovered the chords of the new siren song of the left.

What seems to confound most of my counterparts on the left, however, is how someone can be quite hawkish, yet essentially libertarian on domestic issues. Granted, this particular flavor of thought is not exactly a rare commodity in the blogosphere, but it does reveal something about the centripetal nature of American politics.

To back up a second; there is a school of thought which looks at political systems as being governed by two sets of forces. The first one is known as centrifugal politics, which you might think of as a tendency to Balkanize and fragment. Centripetal politics, on the other hand, forces parties to drift towards the center. Now American politics is seen as much more centripetal than it's European counterparts - a result of the peculiarities of our electoral system.

Which brings us to an interesting point on where one of the hallmarks of Western development over the last several centuries - the rise of Classical Liberalism.

As you know, in the US, the term Liberal is used to mean the Left. So, in the interests of avoiding that particular semantic morass, I will simply use liberal to refer to the ideas of classical liberalism. On the other hand, when I mean Left, I'll say Left. That out of the way, many self-identified Democrats seem somewhat taken aback at the notion that someone can self-identify as Republican yet consider themselves liberal.

Now if one splits political views into three broad areas of concern, social policies, fiscal/economic policies, and foreign policies, then the appellation of the label liberal becomes much more useful.

To start, the Republican Party trends towards social conservatism, while the Democratic Party (the idiotic intellectual-blackmailing politically correct fringe notwithstanding) tends to be more liberal.

While there is a group of people who call themselves "fiscally conservative," these people are conservative only with respect to the spending of money, but in the larger sense of governance, they are still liberal - the government that governs least, governs best. So on this front, the Republicans have tended to be more liberal (aside from Bush's recent budgets) than their Democrat counterparts.

Finally, getting to the foreign policy arena, we have seen some really interesting shifts (and for that matter the delineations are much less clearly defined). But, in this particular case, the 4-way breakdown provided by Walter Russell Mead is probably a lot more instructive guide for any practical purposes. But, for the purposes of our exercise, let's say that realist and isolationist policies tend to represent an essentially conservative foreign policy, while the anti-totalitarian (and sometimes even neoconservative) foreign policy approaches can be considered to be more liberal.

Along those breakdowns, the Democratic Party was unquestioningly liberal up until their Vietnam. Following that, both parties were sort riding the middle, until Reagan came along and donned the mantle of foreign policy liberalism. Clinton tried to wear that cloak with some effectiveness. The Bush Doctrine is unmistakably liberal in this sense.

Now before anyone gets up in arms, tracing the role of liberalism in foreign policy is a messy exercise, and it will suffice to say that the idea of American Exceptionalism, which has been embraced to some extent by both parties, is an essentially liberal point of view.

So what's the upshot of all this?

Well, the Democrats are socially liberal, while being economically conservative.

The Republicans are socially conservative, while being economically liberal.

There have been many notable crossovers (which we can easily interpret as the traditional lurch to the center as general elections approach).

The foreign policy axis is a bit more messy, but can be parsed any one of a number of ways.

So, in the end analysis, neither the Democratic nor Republican parties are more liberal than the other, but tend to be approximately equal in their drive for liberty, albeit in different arenas. This is one of the big reasons that the Balance of Power between the Executive and Legislative is so core to American politics. But past that, this is the reason that the Bush Doctrine is causing such tumult.

Essentially, it is an unmistakable claim on two of three arenas of liberal thinking.

This is one of the reasons that I think that we could very well see a major political realignment in the next few years - no party that remains staunchly conservative on two of the three arenas of politics has a chance in hell over the long term.

At this point, it's up to the Democrats to figure out how they'll compete with the Republicans. And given the propensity for terrorist nutjobs to kill Americans, I don't think that the future of the Democrats is too bright if they chose to remain conservative and isolationist on foreign issues. So they either need to return to the center on foreign policy and out-hawk the Republicans, or figure out which elements of the Pat Buchanan fringe they'll be hanging out with.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:51 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (1)

August 17, 2004

Terrorism and Elections

Bravo Romeo Delta

Although truly accurate, I still sometimes recoil at the now famous dictum of the 1992 Clinton campaign - "It's the Economy Stupid." First and foremost, because it seems to be an unfortunate testament to the following quote:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: 'From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.'"

Alexander Fraser Tytler (later Lord Alexander Fraser Woodhouslee), in "The
Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic," published 1776.

But it does shed an interesting light on the target selection list implied by the recent windfall of intelligence information captured from Al Qaeda. The salient characteristic of the targets they select is that they are all financial targets.

Now there are those that claim that Bush is too valuable a tool for Al Qaeda propaganda purposes for them to want Kerry in office, while others contend that Kerry will not show the resoluteness to continue the War on Terror.

Well, the target selection is interesting indeed, and speaks to the Al Qaeda objectives and gives a few glimpses of what might be affecting their current operational mindset.

If we start breaking down the possible target types that could be targeted (and this is all assuming they don't pull off some sort of nuking or something), is that you can, at first pass, break things down into what are called counterforce and countervalue targeting. In short, counterforce target seeks to directly attack an opponent's warfighting capabilities: from troops in the field to missiles in silos to command centers at the Pentagon, these are all directly related to affecting warfighting capabilities. Countervalue, on the other hand, seeks to attack the soft underbelly of the military-industrial complex, the political will of opponents, and the very fabric that holds an opponent's society together. Sherman's March to the Sea, the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo were all countervalue strikes, in essence.

Given all this talk about asymmetry in the War on Terror, there is a tendency to assume that those other folks specifically focus on countervalue targeting, which just ain't true. You can ask any one of a number of Marines in Najaf about that.

But, when it turns to exporting their war beyond their traditional regions of strength, al Qaeda tends very much to shift to countervalue targeting. Now, when evaluating the effect of attacks on the upcoming election, we can pretty safely throw out the effect of most likely counterforce attacks in Iraq, simply because, in terms of political effectiveness, they seem to have overshot their culminating point of success.

So, instead we look at the possible merits of countervalue strikes as means to influence the election. And this is where their target selection gets really interesting. At a this level, I think that there are a number of things these folks could look at, in terms of rating the value of targets:

  1. Symbolic value
  2. Body count
  3. Economic impact

To be sure, there are a lot of other factors affecting their selection of target type, but these are the big ones with respect to affecting the outcome of the November election. The choice of financial institutions is truly interesting.

For the most part, after a few notable things like the World Trade Center, most Americans don't place great symbolic value on financial institutions. So, the focus on financial institutions really isn't well suited to have great symbolic impact when things like the Sears Tower, Statue of Liberty, or the White House beckon. The body count would be reasonable, but it could be a bit difficult for them (pending method) to equal the 9/11 tab. If nothing else, there are certainly far richer targets available on that front, such as nuclear reactors. So we have to look at financial impact. But here's an interesting twist: the inclusion of Citibank, Prudential, the IMF, and the World Bank speak to two very different sets of priorities. The first two would have a financial impact that, while global in reach, would be focused primarily in the US and it's still-recovering economy. The second two would have just about zero effect on the US, although it would play hell with foreign bond markets - but has a much stronger symbolic import for non-Americans and people who won't have a say in the election.

That last bit is of interest, as it would be a target that would have little direct impact on the US elections (and to me appears to be a Plan B for that reason), but would be good press for al Qaeda in Europe, the developing world and elsewhere. This is an interesting contrast to doing something like hitting Wall Street or the Chicago Board of Exchange, which, while being extraordinarily symbolic, could have significant global economic blowback effect in addition to possibly doing some ugly things to the American economy.

But you will notice that none of the targets are geared to really cause fear and panic in the US on any major scale - they're geared towards hitting Americans in the pocket book. Now, if they had gone for something symbolic and superficial (Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument), I think that the result would be a pro-Bush swing. If they had something else geared towards generating stacks of dead folk, I also think it could be a large pro-Bush swing.

However, if they wanted a strong pro-Kerry swing, hitting the economics makes a lot of sense - to a point. If they did something like hitting two or three major credit agencies and their backup data storage facilities, they could cause a pretty massive hiccough. Which could backfire by showing just how darned evil those bad guys are. Knocking out a Prudential or Citibank would be enough to make the markets anemic, but without providing much of a fig leaf for the Bush Administration on the existential threat front.

So, in choosing between symbolism or body count and economics, they seem to be of a more pragmatist bent - and this may have a great deal to do with the fact that the American response to 9/11 resulted in Messrs Karzai and Alawi assuming positions of power in place of Messrs Omar and Hussein. But it leaves us with the question of the interest in body count.

Now, as I've mentioned before, much of the significance of 9/11 was not the 3,000 dead or $100 billion in economic losses, so much as it was a great, bloody, big signpost that the previously understood rules of terrorist violence for political ends had changed, and changed radically. If they were still stuck on this motif, they probably would be looking for a bigger body count, but the fact that they aren't going simply for corpses points to a more sophisticated understanding of American politics than they are normally credited with. The American response to 9/11 may have surprised them quite a bit (as it has other America watchers I've spoken too) - so they may view Bush as being a bit of an aberration that has to be outlasted before they can get back to the serious business of tearing down the Great Satan.

This would tend to imply that they view this as sort of a prepatory bombardment that they'll need to undertake in order to soften us up enough that when they do start going for the throat again, they'll get a desirable political impact from their efforts. Conversely, they may have shucked the body count model altogether, and may be pursuing something like the terrorist equivalent to smart bombs - lower collateral damage from precisely targeted attacks. This doesn't quite ring true either, as there are some truly bloodless ways to hobble the economy that can be quite effective indeed.

Granted, this all just speculation until the other shoe drops, but the strong focus on this target set means some something is going on inside their devious little heads. Any one of the recent "big" terrorist attacks have been very specifically terrorist - witness Madrid. This time around they seem to be skipping flat-out terror for leverage. But they still don't seem to be taking that to it's logical conclusion in obtaining maximum leverage at the sacrifice of some sort of body count. Very peculiar, but whoever the hell it is who's hanging out in caves in Waziristan certainly has been spending some late nights thinking about this stuff.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 06:01 AM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (5)
» Letters from New York City Retaliates with: Of Terrorism, Targets and Elections

August 16, 2004

The Value of Media Bias

Bravo Romeo Delta

I believe that my regular reader may be familiar with the strategic notion of the "culminating point of success" that I have mentioned in previous posts.

The first phenomenon is that strategy is governed by a contradictory, paradoxical, contrarian logic. For example, if you do well in business, you have a good product, you will be successful, and if you work harder and you do it on a bigger scale, you will be more successful. But in strategy, if you have the right formula and you win victories, you just have to continue to do the same thing and you will unfailingly reach a culminating point of success, and then you will collapse, because your very victory evokes reactions. That is why your Napoleons, your Hitlers, their mistake was to overshoot the culminating point of success.

Once McDonald's has 2,730 franchises, getting one more would weaken the company. Not in strategy, because as you become more successful, people who were neutral towards you now become concerned that your power might get to them, so they turn against you. And your enemies that you defeated suddenly find allies and supporters.

Overshooting applies to every level of strategy, right down to the tactical level, and it works in all kinds of ways. Let's say somebody came up with a really magical antitank weapon which cannot be defeated by countermeasures. The effect will be no more tanks. You can overshoot yourself to the point where you annihilate yourself just by your effectiveness.

One of the great challenges of statesmanship, therefore, has always been to sense when you are approaching the culminating point of success and to stop short of it. Why is this such a challenge? Because you are inflamed, empowered and driven by the winds of victory, the sense of success, and everywhere you look people are applauding. It takes enormous, cold, calculating intellect to stop at the very moment when it is easiest to go ahead.

Well, this same paradoxical logic applies to the realm of politics as well.

In specific, as long as the media trends left (a condition I think is endemic, rather than deliberate), it may result in a net gain for the very folks that they're trying to run aground.

We have seen the rise of talk radio and more centrist (or at least more openly right-biased) news sources, and so on, but these developments skirt the actual significance behind this continual drift leftward of the media.

For starters, this is a primary reason that the average self-identified Republican tends to be more centrist, while the average self-identified Democrat tends to be fairly far towards the left. Since people are making their own self-evaluation based, in part, on how they measure their own belief versus the picture of the world that has been painted for them, then it tends to drive party membership of the Republicans towards the center, and the Democrats towards the left.

Secondly, in having a higher "burden of proof" for argumentation, Republicans tend to be a bit less likely to find themselves out on a limb. Any temptation to lurch that direction has been pretty solidly beaten out of the party by decades of critical appraisal. This encourages party discipline, as well as resulting in a silencing effect on many far-Right extremists.

Third, the media starts to lose some measure of credibility, which I am becoming less inclined to think is a bad thing. This is not related, per se, to the broader question of bias, but rather the fact that with the eruption of J-school journalists who have precious little actual subject matter expertise, in conjunction with shrinking news cycles, we have more people with less to say about subject holding forth at greater length about things which are beyond their understanding. And those folks are passing it off as news.

Finally, the lack of critical analysis that has accompanied media in recent years has provided a fertile ground for the modern day equivalent of pamphleteering - the blog. Finding a world in which the news is ineffective at best, and genuinely hostile at worst, what would have been a disgruntled audience years ago, has taken a genuinely useful step towards more fully participatory democracy. Rather than simply walking away, head shaking, now people, from both the right and far left, man the ramparts and engage in productive analysis and examination of the world around them.

All in all, the cloud of media bias certainly isn't without its benefits. And as long as the media keeps its bias, then the rest of us can profit from it. The day that media bias evaporates, is the day that we'll not only cease to derive gains from it, but also will be the first step towards a Republican Party that will eventually become sclerotic and weak.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:15 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (3)

August 12, 2004

More on the Wendy's Debacle

Bravo Romeo Delta

Ok, I know it's been roundly pounded, but I wanted to clarify a couple of things about the now-infamous-if-it-were-well-known lunch at Wendy's by the Johns.

In my previous post (linked above) I parroted nonsense about the reputed cost of the lunches and so on. Well, things being things, I actually went and did a bit of research and all that stuff, so here's what I found.

The restaurant in question, I believe, is Nikola's Bistro - or at least that was the place cited by a number of bloggers.

Of interest, is the menu. Among other things, a number of the stories about the evening's dining assert that, among other things, shrimp vindaloo, grilled diver sea scallops, prosciutto, wrapped stuffed chicken were had by the staffers. Upon examination, one will note that the menu doesn't seem to have any of these items. In general, these items are not entirely incompatible with the menu selections, but they do not seem to be a spectacularly good fit, either. And really, when you think about it, why show up to a restaurant you've never heard of before and go off ask them to make things that aren't on their menu?

There are a few possible explanations for this:

1) The menu has changed since the campaign stop
2) They didn't order from Nikola's
3) The chef cooked a special course for their distinguished customers
4) This was all magically cooked up by the VRWC

All in all, there's not enough conclusive evidence to make a reasonable call one way or the other, but I bring the points up to frame the real reason for the post, which is to get a feel for the prices they paid for their dinner, which ties into a couple of leadership-related issues addressed in my previous post.

To wit, the menu posted on line does not list any prices, this review seems to suggest that entrees are in the $16-$20 range. That clearly doesn't jive with the $200 figure being bandied about.

So, given the list of alternatives shown up top, these two things suggest that:

1) the Nikola's mentioned in Steyn's column really isn't where they got their food.
2) the story is on some (or all) level(s) a fabrication
3) or, that in making a custom meal, they charged custom prices
4) that the $200 figure reflects the total tab for all 19 meals

If one goes with the notion of the food coming from (or near) the Newburgh Yacht Club, we see that the address of the club is 1 Park Place, the same address listed by Nikola's. In looking at restaurant listings, sorted by distance from the yacht club, we see that that there are a couple of places really close to the yacht club that might be eligible candidates, although, oddly enough, Nikola's itself is not listed.

Among the possibilities within a mile of the yacht club are a number of Italian Restaurants, which we can safely exclude (Shrimp Vindaloo ain't Italian). One possible candidate is the Blue Martini is a possibility, although the price range goes from $16-$32 for entrees, so we still don't hit $200. While I have not been able to find a menu for this place, I do note that the items mentioned in the review certainly are compatible with the alleged order by Team Kerry, so that holds out some hope.

There's also a joint right up the street named "26 Front Street Restaurant", but I'm not able to find any info on this.

And none of the possible ranges of entree prices get anywhere near being low enough to cover all 19 dinners for $200, unless, of course, the owners are big Kerry fans and opted to give them a good deal on dinner.

So, when all is said and done, the back half of the story is, perhaps, somewhat dubious, but unfortunately, no reasonable substitute theories suggest themselves. It is, a fairly reasonable proposition to assert that the $200 per plate thing seems a bit unlikely, but also, in all fairness, I know of at least one private club (that runs in a comparable price range) which accepts customers by invitation or membership only, and certainly doesn't go to any lengths to advertise themselves to any extent.

So kids, when bitching about the quality of intel analysis (like predicting 9/11) and drawing incorrect conclusions from available data (like Iraq and the WMD), keep this little exercise in mind.

Launched by Bravo Romeo Delta at 09:31 PM | Retaliatory Launches Detected (2)

August 11, 2004

Burnt. Out.

Bravo Romeo Delta

Sorry for the weak, sporadic, and otherwise generally non-existent posting as of late. I am burnt out. Burnt. The. F*ck. Out.

That said, and recognizing that nobody (including me) wants to hear my whining, I did note this comment from a thread on Roger el Simon's site about the shocking, shocking! I tell you, shocking revelation that the media is so desperately full of crap, they can't sneeze without spraying shit everywhere.

At any rate, the comment was as follows:

Kerry either was in Cambodia at the time in question, or he was close enough for government work, a point that he makes in his battlefield journal.

Which, of course, is asinine.

I am either down the pants of a very attractive young lady sitting some thirty feet away, or "close enough for government work". Right?

Except not.

For those of you with mathy or logicky backgrounds, we note that if you have a set "A", you can also define a set "not A." If one says that something is in "not A" then, pretty much axiomatically, it is not part of set "A". Done. That's it kids.

This is the reason that, despite my close proximity to an attractive co-worker, that I am not getting maced, pepper-sprayed, sued, beaten, or various other calamities. That's because, kids, we recognize the difference that being in something is not the same as being "close enough for government work."

Eons ago, I noted that Kerry would be one of the worst possible Democratic candidates - Senators are simply unelectable in an age of massive archiving and lightning fast records retrieval. Surprise, surprise, Kerry's being hoisted by his own petard and people are shocked.

What gives? Seriously? I mean the simple fact that Senatorial and Congressional candidates are a liability is no shock to anyone. And this goes for McCain, too.

I have a huge amount of respect for Alan Simpson, a former long-time Senator from Wyoming. Some years ago, he was asked about a run for President, to which he replied with something to the effect that he had too many dents in his armor to make a good candidate. Smart man, there.

Any other bit of jackassery to the contrary is pure wishful thinking. You simply cannot subject 20 or so years of someone's professional life (on record, in DC) to this level of scrutiny and not find that they are a duplicitous jackass. Or at least dig up enough stuff that requires extensive and involved explanations. The Democratic Party chose Kerry. And surprise, they have to deal with his record.

I wouldn't normally be this ticked, but for Chrissakes, if Kerry got the nomination on "electability" (and no, I'm not going to find the ample primary poling data showing this as being the biggest single factor in Kerry's nomination), then what were people thinking? If you want to elect someone "electable" then elects someone who is actually "electable".

But not, deep in the throes of Bush Derangement Syndrome, the Democratic Party chose this particularly dubious specimen. Even without the notion of the Democratic Party playing for the center of the electorate by choosing, of all things, an extraordinarily left-wing east-coast liberal democrat, they chose a bloody Senator.

And if Bush wins, I fear I'm going to have to listen to another four years of whining, pissing, bitching, and moaning because the powers-that-be in the Democratic Party didn't have the sense that God gave a goose.


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August 04, 2004

You Gotta Wonder

Bravo Romeo Delta

With the whole Wendy's thing showing up on the radar, there's some more subtle points I ponder. If he had 19 $200 dinners ordered, that's a total of $3,800 for dinner. For one night. For 19 people.

That brings up some really, really interesting questions about Kerry's fundamental seriousness. Steyn's article above hits the vast majority of points on this, but there are a few additional things that intrigue me.

First off, as the man "reporting for duty", there's the open question of whether or not this at all an effective way to build campaign team cohesion. I can sure as heck guarantee that the rest of his entourage, who are probably working stiff, stiff hours, aren't getting the $200 dinner treatment. Lousy team-building and I suspect emblematic of a core problem with Kerry - he doesn't seem to think about things beyond the first level of analysis or so. Surely, given his experience as an officer, he can't have forgotten that you don't win the hearts and minds of subordinates with this kind of behavior.

To be fair, however, it might have been a gesture to celebrate the Edwards' anniversary. But even so, common sense would dictate that it would have been a much better thing to have celebrated with all the staffers on tour. Give them a few minutes of much-needed pat on the back by inviting them to celebrate with the candidates. That kind of thing can go a long way.

Secondly, given that Bush has a fairly substantial lead over Kerry in terms of fundraising, and that there has been an ongoing fear that the Bush money machine will bury Kerry. Dropping nearly $4,000 for a second dinner for the evening (and I imagine that the vast majority of Kerry's staffers are probably eating Wendy's for real), that just doesn't sound sensible. According to the link above, Bush has a big lead on cash on hand.

Again, in the interests of fairness, Kerry does have a lot of money stashed away, and $3,800 doesn't make that big a dent. But, on the other hand, if this is representative of campaign spending patterns, then they just lack the fundamental seriousness of a strong competitor. This sounds very much like the kind of situation where a CEO catches hell for an expensive junket while workers are being laid off. Good, bad, or indifferent, it just doesn't inspire confidence in the skipper's judgment.

So, in all, no smoking gun, necessarily, but there are some troubling symptoms that come out of all of this.

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Bravo Romeo Delta

Does anyone know where I can dowload Kerry's acceptance speech?

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August 03, 2004

Jobless Recovery My Ass!!

Bravo Romeo Delta

Doc Jawa nails the economic situation with a one-two knockout combo. Must read.

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August 02, 2004

Church Bombings

Bravo Romeo Delta

Roger el Simon writes about the recent bombing of churches in Iraq.

One thing that often goes unnoted is that the Iraqis, on average, really don't like it when people try to split or rule them along religious or ethnic lines. That doesn't necessarily mean that everything is all gravy all the time, but I wouldn't take this most recent bombing as being a genuine "religious war assault", so much as an effort to split Iraq apart.

These notes from the Shia community to bear some notice:

"Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani said in a statement that Sunday’s assaults on churches ‘‘targeted Iraq’s unity, stability and independence."


‘‘This is a cowardly act and targets all Iraqis,’’ Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, spokesman for radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Al-Jazeera television.

The more senior al-Sistani, based in the southern city of Najaf, said: ‘‘We assert the importance of respecting the rights of Christian civilians and other religious minorities and reaffirm their right to live in their home country Iraq in security and peace.’’

You will note that these are both Shia, and there was no widespread condemnation of the attacks by Sunni fundamentalists - but then again, given the role of Wahabbism in religious violence in the Middle East, that should be no great surprise.

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