Saturday, May 27, 2006

Proud of our Iraq War

Couldn't have said it better myself. Happy Memorial Day, and Remember the Fallen.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Asshole Surgeon

This takes the cake. Robert Rey, M.D., the ridiculous plastic surgeon of Doctor 90210, positively crowed about restraining an unruly octogenarian on a plane.

"When you get a black belt, at that stage your brain just clicks into action," the doctor said. "I restrained this gentleman in a very aggressive way without hurting him."

Maybe I'm being too harsh because a.)I'm actually a surgeon in a specialty that matters, and b.)I have a background in non-poser martial arts. Maybe it's because I know some of his erstwhile co-residents at Mayo who allege he was kicked out of residency once. Why couldn't he have said, like a real doctor would have, "we had an elderly person who was confused and I assisted in restraining him," i.e., placing a humane medical face on the event rather than a pathetic attempt to pose as some kind of badass. An act daily carried out in nursing homes across America is converted into farce by this stupid preening poser.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Convincing human-to-human transmission of Bird Flu

This cluster of seven cases in Indonesia is disturbing. Six are dead, and 4 were involved in caring for the index case.

Good news: no genetic reassortment, no significant genetic differences from the garden variety avian influenza virus, and still not resistant to Tamiflu.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Suspicious activity in the neighborhood...

Well, if you are two newly-arrived Saudi Arabian students at the University of South Florida, I advise you do not board a school bus to the local High School. Perhaps that was not sufficiently emphasized during Orientation Week. By now, however, you should have figured it out.

UPDATE: Judge revokes bail, citing some personal discomfort.

UPDATE 2: apparently a false alaarm.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Are Iran's Mullah's Deterrable?

"No," I would reply, "they are just terrible." But Paul Starobin, writing the cover story for the National Journal, seems to think they're all rational actors. For support he cites some ex-Clinton NSC staffer, and favors the credibility of Michael Scheuer over that of the simply awesome Bernard Lewis. When Lewis, the undisputed heavyweight champion of Islamic historians, describes the irrationality of clerics who believe they will be richly rewarded in the hereafter for suicidal murder of non-muslims, he is quickly kicked to the curb in favor of the ex-CIA loose cannon:

But Lewis is in a minority among analysts of the mullahs. Unlike an Islamic extremist such as Osama bin Laden, whose precise whereabouts are not known and who controls no state, the mullahs do have an address and are thus deterrable because "they don't want to get their teeth kicked in," Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counter-terrorism analyst, said in an interview.

Er, didn't that guy have a job in the CIA, where he stood out even among that crowd of incompetent, politicized hacks? Elsewhere, Starobin pulls out that canard about the U.S. being the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against "'an essentially defeated enemy,' as J. Robert Oppenheimer put it." I think anyone can respect J. Robert Oppenheimer's nuclear physics skillz, but WTF did he know about Japan's military capabilities?

Starobin main thrust is to reassure readers with anecdotes about how everybody in the U.S. had also gotten their knickers in a bunch when Chinese Communists were on the verge of getting nuclear weapons capability; and we saw how THAT was no problem.

Well, riddle me this, whiz-kid. Isn't one of the hallmarks of Communist doctrine its ATHEISM? If you don't believe in an afterlife, aren't you going to be less likely to perform actions that would lead to your VAPORIZATION in the present life? Wouldn't cost-benefit analysis break down if costs in the corporeal world become negligible in comparison to the benfits in the hereafter, and the two disputants differ fundamentally on the nature of the hereafter?

Friday, May 19, 2006

U.S. operations in Iraq. Geopolitically advantageous?

Amir Taheri's latest enumerates some benchmarks for success in improving conditions in Iraq. His indicators seem to be moving in a positive direction, and this made me reflect about what strategic advantages the U.S. might have attained in the GWOT. Here's my David Lettermanesque list. In no particular order, and I will probably continue to add to this list as these things occur to me:

1. Iraq finally in compliance with U.N. Resolution 1441.
2. Iraq, for the forseeable future, eliminated as a state sponsor of terrorism vs. the U.S. and Israel.
3. Iraq WMD issue definitively resolved.
4. Saddam, Qusay, and Uday Hussein deposed.
5. Interdiction of Iran-Syria flow of logistics and personnel.
6. Iran now faces U.S. military on two borders (Iraq, Afghanistan) and by sea. More advantageous for containment diplomacy.
7. Militarily easier to impose blockade on Iranian ports.
8. Basing rights in Saudi Arabia destabilized that regime; no longer necessary to have military units in Saudi since we transferred to Doha, Qatar, and Iraq.
9. Easier for U.S. forces to safeguard Straits of Hormuz.
10. Jihadis are being killed in large numbers. This is revealing exploitable fault-lines in al-Qaeda and cooling the ardor of potential jihadis. Attrition is taking its toll. Large-scale terror attacks are likely no longer the focus of AQ resources at this time.
11. Territory for terrorist training camps denied.
12. U.S. military institutional expertise at combatting AQ is tremendously enhanced.
13. U.S. Marine tactical doctrine for urban fighting validated and priceless experience gained.
14. Bumper crop of intelligence information from captured hostiles or their laptops, etc.
15. HUMINT resources likely recruited from ethnicities which can easily traverse the region's porous borders. The lack of such people severely hampered intelligence activites for the last few decades. Implications for Pakistan, Russia's southern border, and (of course) Iran/Syria as state actors, and for Jihadi groups of various ethnicities.
16. Operations in this theater have catalyzed an enhanced interaction between elite military units and intelligence gathering/processing.
17. Libya. Lebanon.

English Language Proposal is Racist?


Many questions for Harry Reid (D-NV) on this one. Are there any races incapable of speaking English for some biological reason? Is Spanish less racist? Didn't both languages evolve in countries populated by essentially the same races? Aren't there many many races speaking English? Are we forbidding certain races to learn English? Are we forbidding anyone to continue the use of their native language?


Saturday, May 13, 2006

More Senate Candidates

Three more political non-entities have entered the fray in the race to grab Bill Nelson's Senate seat. It is a sad state of affairs to note that Katherine Harris is still the odds-on favorite to win. Probably the only thing that could give any one of these three individuals a leg-up on the campaign trail would be for Al Cardenas and Jeb Bush to fall solidly behind one of 'em. Mel Martinez has already endorsed Mrs. Harris, as has, according to her, the Lord Jesus. That's tough to beat.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friends don't let Kennedys drive...

...or ski, or fly, or (I wish) vote!

This is the most amusing news story in weeks. Patches Kennedy, a diagnosed bipolar guy with a hobby of berating airport personnel, who has spent time in drug rehab in the past, drives his car into a stationary roadblock. Police on the scene claim he was disoriented and mumbled something about driving in for a 3 a.m. vote in Congress. Mysteriously, no drug toxicology tests are ordered and he is whisked away.

Ambien and Phenergan are blamed. Phenergan is a anti-nausea drug, a sedating anti-histamine he claims to have had prescribed for "gastroenteritis", which usually causes projectile emissions from the other end of the body. Ambien, however, is somewhat more interesting, as it has been reportedly associated with "sleep-eating" and even "sleep-driving".

I took some Ambien once on a trans-pacific flight. Got on a plane in L.A., waited for the meal, took an Ambien, drank some red wine, and woke up in Melbourne. That stuff works. I also prescribe it for a lot of patients who have migraine-related dizziness and insomnia, and have had no reported weirdness. So I take news reports of sleep-driving with the same grain of salt I reserve for loonies who think Ritalin is harming their psycho kids.

I am looking forward to a great news cycle. Scientologists and the trial bar in lock-step, demanding a moratorium on Ambien. Disgustingly trite "Kennedy curse" musings. Right wing ridicule, delight, schadenfreude, and relief at the distraction it provides from the historic loss of both houses of congress pending this fall.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Strong Horse Scores

Zacarias Moussaoui's life will be spared, and he is destined to "die on a toilet in prison", as he said. That is, if his cellmates don't rip him to shreds.

Responses to this sentence have been complex. A characteristically emotional Peggy Noonan calls for his head, while Dahlia Lithwick posts an alarmingly satisfied opinion in keeping with the deep thread of moral relativism she's displayed in all of her writing on the topic.

I would far, far prefer that terrorists -- and make no mistake, Moussaoui is one, he just failed -- be killed on a battlefield in some foreign land, by experts. Iraq is one such place, but it seems that al-Qaeda is losing interest in seeking martyrdom there. Once they make it to a U.S. Courtroom and our fucked up legal system, it's over.

On the one hand, I'm okay with the verdict because I believe Moussaoui is mentally ill. I disagree with the jury on this point, as they found him NOT mentally ill. The crap about his difficult childhood being a mitigating factor is totally irrelevant to me. I do believe, however, that the verdict will further embolden undiscovered terrorist cells already in the U.S. They will now assemble legal teams and I am confident they'll find plenty of scumbag lawyer accessories. This does appear to be a propaganda victory for jihadists because they again appear to be the stronger horse.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

God Help Me, More Katherine Harris

I had just mixed an exquisite martini, using Maxim's de Paris gin, Cinzano Dry Vermouth, and Feta-stuffed olives, and sat down for a relaxing evening of Hannity & Colmes after a very trying day at work treating dizzy patients. And there she was, in a campaign ad.

I used to think of her as kind of a goyische, older Stacy London, but not anymore. I can never have the hots for this woman. I am looking forward to her campaign with abject dread, because she is obviously going to expend her considerable personal fortune in a doomed campaign which will only add a grim garlicky tang to the overpowering bitter taste of an anticipated Republican rout this November. Kind of like touching my tongue to a 9 volt battery while my Enormous Testicles are jumpered to a car battery supervised by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Please, Ms. Harris, have you no humanity? Quit, now.

And don't get me started on Charlie Crist vs. Jim Davis for Jeb Bush's post. I wonder what Jeb is going to do? Jeb, give me a call, bud, I'm a great admirer of your family.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fighting the Last Media War

It's pretty cliche for military historians to look at the conduct of a military establishment defeated in war and ascribe the defeat to "fighting the last war". This is true of analyses of Vietnam (trying to fight an insurgency using WWII/Korea-era large unit tactics), or of the Maginot line, or the Franco-Prussian War, on down the line.

I've got to say this is the first time I've seen that type of analysis applied to The Media War, a branch of psyops. I think the crowing is a bit premature, however, since the Old Media is still very, very powerful in the world, and still content to act as the propaganda arm of our enemies.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm rushing the cabin

If you haven't seen the movie United 93 yet, please do so immediately. It is frickin' gut wrenching. Then realize that the movie is a metaphor for what is happening in the U.S. and the world today.

There are people who have realized what is really going on, and they are doing something about it. And there's some dumb-ass European (Dutch or Belgian, from teh actor's accent) telling us "if we just do everything they tell us, everything will be alright."