David Kirkpatrick

September 2, 2009

Economic sanctions, Google Ads and propping up despots

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:13 pm

Interesting bit of analysis on the unintended consequences of government sanctions against out-of-favor regimes.

From the link:

Recently I’ve been studying the Iranian new media space in order to understand its key players and how they all relate to each other. I had a hunch that Twitter isn’t one of them and so far my findings confirm it. But something else has recently caught my attention:  popular Iranian social news sites do not display Google Ads. This seemed strange to me, because many of them have high traffic and would probably generate a lot of cash this way.

After researching the issue, I found out that Google doesn’t allow to target visitors from Iran (as well as Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) because of – you guessed it – the economic sanctions imposed by the US government. Now, this is something that I entirely cannot understand: how exactly would Google AdSense strengthen the Iranian regime? The Iranian state media doesn’t need to use Google Ads to generate its revenue: they are lavishly funded by the state.

The only people who suffer because of these sanctions are the Iranian Web entrepreneurs who are cut off from a guaranteed source of funding. The appearance of Google Ads as a source of funding for small-scale Web ventures has been one of the key drivers of the Web2.0 era. In my professional experience in Eastern Europe, projects that were built with Google Ads and other business models in mind have usually fared much better than those that only relied on external non-profit funding.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

February 24, 2009

Richard Perle — a bit confused …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:37 pm

… or a smoke-blowin’ ass monkey? You be the judge.

I’ve always found it amazing that once he bailed on the Bush 43 regime he’s gone somewhat unchallenged when making wild statements that could be generously called “truth challenged.”

From the link:

The “people who wound up in important positions” were key neoconservatives like Douglas Feith, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and others, who had been openly calling for regime change in Iraq since the late 1990s and who used their positions in the Bush administration to make the case for war after 9/11, aided by a chorus of sympathetic pundits at places like the American Enterprise Institute, and the Weekly Standard. The neocons were hardly some secret cabal or conspiracy, as they were making their case loudly and in public, and no serious scholar claims that they “bamboozled” Bush and Cheney into a war. Rather, numerous accounts have documented that they had been openly pushing for war since 1998 and they continued to do so after 9/11. As neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan later admitted, he and his fellow neoconservatives were successful in part because they had a “ready-made approach to the world” that seemed to provide an answer to the challenges the U.S. faced after 9/11.

The bottom line is simple: Richard Perle is lying. What is disturbing about this case is is not that a former official is trying to falsify the record in such a brazen fashion; Perle is hardly the first policymaker to kick up dust about his record and he certainly won’t be the last. The real cause for concern is that there are hardly any consequences for the critical role that Perle and the neoconservatives played for their pivotal role in causing one of the great foreign policy disasters in American history. If somebody can help engineer a foolish war and remain a respected Washington insider — as is the case with Perle — what harm is likely to befall them if they lie about it later?

(Hat tip — Cato-at-Liberty)

February 16, 2009

Military scandal with Iraq reconstruction funds?

I’d like to see some domestic reporting on this story, because it would completely rock the US military to think high-ranking officials engaged in this level of criminal activity. A scandal like this this would send shock waves throughout the armed forces and be an image-destroyer and would call into question the entire culture of the US military.

Here is reporting from the Independent in the UK:

In what could turn out to be the greatest fraud in US history, American authorities have started to investigate the alleged role of senior military officers in the misuse of $125bn (£88bn) in a US -directed effort to reconstruct Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The exact sum missing may never be clear, but a report by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) suggests it may exceed $50bn, making it an even bigger theft than Bernard Madoff’s notorious Ponzi scheme.

“I believe the real looting of Iraq after the invasion was by US officials and contractors, and not by people from the slums of Baghdad,” said one US businessman active in Iraq since 2003.

In one case, auditors working for SIGIR discovered that $57.8m was sent in “pallet upon pallet of hundred-dollar bills” to the US comptroller for south-central Iraq, Robert J Stein Jr, who had himself photographed standing with the mound of money. He is among the few US officials who were in Iraq to be convicted of fraud and money-laundering.

Despite the vast sums expended on rebuilding by the US since 2003, there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy and others rusting beside a half-built giant mosque that Saddam was constructing when he was overthrown. One of the few visible signs of government work on Baghdad’s infrastructure is a tireless attention to planting palm trees and flowers in the centre strip between main roads. Those are then dug up and replanted a few months later.

(Hat tip: Wes)

February 7, 2009

Saturday video fun — Acrassicauda meets Metallica

Filed under: Arts, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:35 am

Acrassicauda, the Iraqi heavy metal band that recently relocated to New Jersey under refugee status, met Metallica backstage.

From the link:

And what better way to welcome the guys to New Jersey than giving them backstage passes to a Metallica concert:

And on Sunday night, two days after the last of the band’s four members was resettled in the United States, they enjoyed what any metal fan would have to call heaven: bearhugs and “Wow, dude” heart-to-hearts backstage with Metallica at the Prudential Center in Newark. It probably wasn’t necessary for James Hetfield, Metallica’s lead singer, to surprise them after the show by handing over one of his guitars, a black ESP, and signing it “Welcome to America”; their minds were already blown.

January 16, 2009

Bush’s Iraq failure

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:24 pm

Whatever else you think about the war in Iraq, this bit of analysis is beyond reproach. You can try and shout down the facts, but the facts do remain.

From the link:

The Iraq war was a case study of what happens when politicisation is mixed with incompetence. A long-standing convention holds that politics stops at the ocean’s edge. But Mr Bush and his inner circle labelled the Democrats “Defeaticrats” whenever they were reluctant to support extending the war from Afghanistan to Iraq. They manipulated intelligence to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had close relations with al-Qaeda. This not only divided a country that had been brought together by September 11th; it also undermined popular support for what Mr Bush regarded as the central theme of his presidency, the war on terror.

Sean Wilentz, a historian at Princeton, remarks how unusual it is for a president to have politicised such a national catastrophe: “No other president—Lincoln in the civil war, FDR in world war two, John F. Kennedy at critical moments of the cold war—faced with such a monumental set of military and political circumstances, failed to embrace the opposing political party to help wage a truly national struggle. But Bush shut out and even demonised the Democrats.”

January 12, 2009

Newsflash — Bush admits mistakes

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:19 pm

If he actually owned up to every single goof, error in judgement and criminal act, the presser would last a couple of days.

From the link:

“Clearly putting a “Mission Accomplished” banner on an aircraft carrier was a mistake,” the president said, referring to his 2003 speech on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln as it returned home from its mission in Iraq. “It sent the wrong message; we were trying to say something differently but nevertheless it conveyed a different message.”

December 16, 2008

Oil heading back toward $50 per barrel …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:26 am

… on news OPEC is expected to announce a production cut.

From the link:

Light, sweet crude for January delivery was up $3.24 to $49.52 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by mid-afternoon in Europe. The contract briefly reached $50.05 before falling back. On Friday, it fell $1.70 to settle at $46.28.

In London, January Brent crude gained $3.40 to $49.81 on the ICE Futures exchange.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which accounts for 40 percent of global supply, has signaled it plans to announce a substantial reduction of output quotas at its meeting Wednesday in Algeria.

“The extent of such cuts is still unclear and this uncertainty has been a source of continuing volatility in futures markets,” said a report by analysts at KBC Market Services in Great Britain.

Kuwaiti oil minister Mohammed al-Eleim said Monday that OPEC was “undoubtedly inclined” to cut production. But he added that any decision would balance the need for a cut with its impact on the ailing world economy and producer nations’ need for revenue to fund development projects.

In other oil and gas news, here’s a report on Iraq’s petroleum industry and a recent expo held to promote that rebuilding effort.

October 16, 2008

EnerMax blogging

Filed under: Business, Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:40 pm

I’ve started blogging at EnerMax on innovations and news in the oil and gas industry. You can find my first effort here. It covers the opening of Iraq’s petroleum fields to international oil and gas investment.

I do a lot of solar blogging here, mostly because I’m very interested in putting some panels on my sun-drenched roof, but I have a deep interest in all aspects of the energy and power generation industries. At EnerMax I’m part of a team so you might not be able to figure out which posts are mine, but do hit that site for my regular take on the oil and gas end of energy.

July 26, 2008

Is the Bush administration …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:06 pm

throwing McCain under the bus on Iraq right when the presidential race is beginning to heat up?

It sure looks like it. If nothing else McCain has to backtrack — or flip-flop if you will — on his long-held position on the Middle East lest he looks like one of the only politicians in the US who supports a policy a majority of Americans oppose, a policy his opponent has always opposed, and now a policy the sitting president of his own party opposes.

Not a pleasant seat to be in for the Strait Talk Express. Maybe this is Bush’s passive-aggressive response to McCain ducking campaigning with Bush.

More likely it’s an end-of-the-road Bush who is increasingly worried about his legacy (ahem — torture, domestic spying and ginning up a needless war of great cost to name three key points of interest) and hopes to leave office with the means to claim “victory” if Obama wins the election and his timetable for pulling out of Iraq is wildly successful.

From the NYT link:

But now the administration’s agreement to consider a “time horizon” for troop withdrawals from Iraq has moved it, at least in the public perception, in the direction of the policies of Senator Barack Obama. That has thrown Mr. McCain on the political defensive in his opposition to a timed withdrawal, Republicans in the party’s foreign party establishment say.

On Friday Mr. McCain went so far as to say that the idea of a 16-month withdrawal, which Mr. Obama supports, was “a pretty good timetable,” although he included the caveat that it had to be based on conditions on the ground

Update: Just found this Matt Yglesias bit  where the adminstration (via a former member) takes a pretty clear whack at McCain:

Don’t ask me, ask former Bush communications director Dan Bartlett:

“Time will tell, but the al-Maliki comments about a timetable is very close to a game-changing event,” Bartlett told my colleague Daniel Libit in an interview. “That was incredibly damaging [to McCain], because it neutralized one of [Obama’s] biggest liabilities.”

Meanwhile as Joe Klein saysthe right’s response to Maliki has helped highlight “the bright line of the Iraq debate” between those who want to stay forever and those of us who don’t see the point in trying to station U.S. forces where they’re not wanted.

July 20, 2008

Iraq and the presidential race

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:08 pm

This is an interesting posttitled, “Who Cares What the Iraqis Think.” The gist is the Iraq public wants the US out as soon as possible and McCain has been advocating a possibly permanent US military presence in the country. This post from Daniel Larison is response to Maliki’s endorsement of Obama in an interview to der Spiegel.

From the link:

The McCain campaign seems to think that talking about the “surge” is the answer to all problems.  This is what I am wondering: outside of the bubble of elite commentary, does a candidate’s position on the “surge” matter very much?  McCain has to believe that it does, and he has been riding this one-trick pony of a campaign theme for at least the last eight months.  If I were working for Obama, I would advise driving home how dishonestly McCain represented Romney’s position on the ”surge” as a call for surrender.  This was a complete distortion, everyone knew that it was a complete distortion, many people called McCain on it, but his aura of invulnerability on questions of war made all of that irrelevant and he won the Florida primary–and propelled himself on to winning the nomination–anyway.  The Obama campaign could use this to make the argument that McCain believes that everyone who expresses reasonable doubt and skepticism about a Bush administration plan wants to surrender to Al Qaeda, which could go a long way towards revealing McCain as an unserious and fairly fanatical person. 

July 19, 2008

An endorsement from Iraq?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:03 pm

The first place I saw this quote was the Daily Dish. Maliki is endorsing Obama, at least implicitly, by endorsing Obama’s view of a future Iraq.

From the link:

By Patrick Appel
“U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,” – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Update: Maybe I should have linked this Daily Dish post with something of a roundup of opinion on the subject.

Further update: I’m running a bit slow today and reading the Daily Dish from the bottom up. Maliki is clear his statement isn’t an endorsement, but he’s showing a great deal of more understanding democratic principles than the current US administration.

From the link:

Maliki: Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of US troops in Iraq would cause problems. Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business. But it’s the business of Iraqis to say what they want.

June 26, 2008

Some good news from Iraq

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:31 pm

The Iraq war has been very polarizing, especially this election year since the general consensus is Hillary lost because of her vote for the war. In fact, it’s been reasonably opined Obama would’ve never joined the race this year without that wedge. And of course, earlier in the GOP primaries John McCain stated the US might be in Iraq for 100 years or more. This topic will be in the forefront for the rest of this election cycle.

Strip away the polititicking and the reality on the ground is still going on right now. There are US soldiers in harms way, the mission to create a democratic Iraq from the rubble of Saddam’s oppressive rule continues and solutions to a very difficult position are being sought and tried out.

One solution that has been very effective is the “surge,” adding more boots on the ground. There is still much violence — it is a war zone — but in way we are beginning to win some of the “hearts and minds” battles that seemed to become lost in the haze of the insurgency, and a civil war among Muslim factions.

Here’s an interesting account by Kevin Ferris in the Philidelphia Inquirer on the topicthat features Michael Yon, the noted milblogger.

From the link:

As I rewatched the movie Obsession – Radical Islam’s War Against the West recently, a few things jumped out, including these quotes from various Arab media outlets:

“America is the foremost enemy of the Muslim nation . . .”

“They have come to fight the people of Iraq . . .”

“The Americans must understand that when they attack the holy places, they attack all the Muslims of the world.”

The film also showed propaganda videos from Iran, which included shots of U.S. forces kicking in doors, missiles being launched, Arab children crying, Muslims running with their wounded. Interspersed throughout were images of a smiling President Bush.

None of this was particularly original. What stood out, though, was the realization that since this movie was released in 2006, the United States had actually increased troop levels in Iraq, had redoubled efforts to rout al-Qaeda there. If anything, Bush had given propagandists more fuel to inflame the anti-American Arab street.

The result?

Rather than our forces’ driving Iraqis into the arms of the radicals, the reverse happened.

It seems Iraqis have decided that al-Qaeda, not America, is the “foremost enemy.” That al-Qaeda, not America, had come to fight the people of Iraq. That al-Qaeda, not America, was the enemy of Muslims and their holy places.

Does this mean Iraqis want America encamped there forever? Of course not. Or that innocent life hasn’t been lost as the result of U.S. actions? No.

But what irony. In the heart of the proposed capital of the radical Islamist caliphate, the antidote to jihadi propaganda has actually been exposure to the courage, decency and values of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

Over the last five years, Iraqis have had the chance to see both sides in action: terrorists, extremists and militias that slaughter civilians at every opportunity vs. Americans who go out of their way to protect innocents, to help provide basic services, to rebuild communities.

(Hat tip: Millblogging.com)

March 21, 2008

Sully and George Bush

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:35 pm

Andrew Sullivan was asked by Slate for a piece about the Iraq war since he was an early supporter, and now a critic. It’s a great read, and is worth the time spent. One part I found particularly interesting was his final section on George W. Bush.

I’m a Texan and lived under his governorship. I’ve never met him, but know many people who have. I ghosted a book for one of George’s friends and business colleagues. By all accounts he’s a good guy, a good friend, and certainly more erudite than he’s given credit for.

And possibly, I’m even more disappointed in his presidency than Sully.

From the link:

Misreading Bush

Yes, the incompetence and arrogance were beyond anything I imagined. In 2000, my support for Bush was not deep. I thought he was an okay, unifying, moderate Republican who would be fine for a time of peace and prosperity. I was concerned – ha! – that Gore would spend too much. I was reassured by the experience and intelligence and pedigree of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell. Two of them had already fought and won a war in the Gulf. The bitter election battle hardened my loyalty. And once 9/11 happened, my support intensified as I hoped for the best. His early speeches were magnificent. The Afghanistan invasion was defter than I expected. I got lulled. I wanted him to succeed – too much, in retrospect.

But my biggest misreading was not about competence. Wars are often marked by incompetence. It was a fatal misjudgment of Bush’s sense of morality.

I had no idea he was so complacent – even glib – about the evil that men with good intentions can enable. I truly did not believe that Bush would use 9/11 to tear up the Geneva Conventions. When I first heard of abuses at Gitmo, I dismissed them as enemy propaganda. I certainly never believed that a conservative would embrace torture as the central thrust of an anti-terror strategy, and lie about it, and scapegoat underlings for it, and give us the indelible stain of Bagram and Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib and all the other secret torture and interrogation sites that he created and oversaw. I certainly never believed that a war I supported for the sake of freedom would actually use as its central weapon the deepest antithesis of freedom – the destruction of human autonomy and dignity and will that is torture. To distort this by shredding the English language, by engaging in newspeak that I had long associated with totalitarian regimes, was a further insult. And for me, an epiphany about what American conservatism had come to mean.

March 19, 2008

On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:44 pm

Since today is the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, here’s what I wrote back on December 30, 2003:

Iraq easily dominates the year-end review and the currently ongoing news. The fait accompli that was the US invasion of Iraq and sack of Baghdad began on March 19. Military success was fairly swift as soldiers (with embedded reporters) marched across Iraq in extended lines of armament. President Bush declared the war over after a little more than a month of fighting, and for all intents the war seemed over. Except for the pesky, and deadly, guerrilla resistance which continues today. Saddam Hussein himself was finally captured this month, but no “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs in 2003 military/media/social jargon) the reason for most Americans fully supporting the war, have been found. Most likely none will be.

Right now the situation in Iraq seems to be pretty sticky. Troops are being deployed for much longer stints than originally expected and a severe lack of post-invasion planning has created a situation of near anarchy in areas of the country. Reports coming back from journalists (and the military in some cases) tell of an Iraq the US public did not expect to read about by December 31, 2003.

To complicate matters further, 2004 is a presidential election year. Bush is staring down a continuing political hot button issue in Iraq that is no longer working for him. It is working, and will continue to work, against him. Luckily for the sitting POTUS, the Democratic challenge hasn’t coalesced. Howard Dean has become a fly in the primary ointment, but it’s early in the game and things could rapidly change over the next 90 days.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (the official name of the conflict up until Bush’s May 1 address stating, “Major combat operations have ended.”) itself was historic if only by virtue of the access the press, and by extension the public, had to the front lines. Some 500-odd journalists were trained by the US military pre-war and were “embedded” with a military unit. Television journalists reported live, on camera, from the field through satellite uplinks. Journalists without camera crews reported with satellite phones. The public was treated to a month-long spectacle of live shots and sounds from an actual war zone.

Here’s an excerpt from my journal during Operation Iraqi Freedom: 3/29/03, 4:56 a.m. — “An amazing press conference from the Iraqi minister of information. This guy might be worse than Ari Fleischer. He’s talking about suing the war criminal, George W. Bush.”

Now with the clarity of hindsight, it’s easy to see how the minister of information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf (AKA Comical Ali, AKA Baghdad Bob), became something of a cult figure in the US with his increasingly wild statements — such as declaring Iraq is winning the war and no US troops were in Baghdad while the cameras filming him were catching US troops and tanks in the background. But the statements were made under duress, likely the threat of his life, and the order for the statements very possibly came straight from Hussein.

As for Ari Fleischer — the first press secretary of the Bush administration — after a very contentious relationship with the Washington press corps, and a few wild statements during the midst of the conflict (most notably a very under-reported brain fart about using nuclear weapons, a gaffe I considered akin to Alexander Haig’s, “I’m in charge here.” when Reagan was shot) Fleischer announced his resignation in mid-May. The resignation became effective in July.

March 13, 2008

Iraq — no WMDs, no al Qaeda/Saddam connection

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:05 pm

Okay. We found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the reason given pre-invasion for immediate action. Maybe the intelligence was bad, maybe cooked up. At this point there’s no way of knowing.

After that intelligence failure was disclosed and publicized, the Bush 43 regime continued (and still does to some extent) to push the idea the Iraq invasion was also important because we were able to break up an al Qaeda/Saddam Hussein party plotting against the US.

Whoops. Turns out that was patently false, and a US military study conclusively covers that very fact.

From the TPM Muckraker link:

We were told by the Joint Forces Command that our copy was mailed today. But ABC News has already got its copy and posted it for all to see. So here you go (pdf). Behold! “This study found no ‘smoking gun’ (i.e. direct connection) between Saddam’s Iraq and al Qaeda.”

It’s a shame every stated justification for the preemptive strike against Iraq has proven false. Right now we are in a true quagmire, with no end in sight. It’s wonderful the “surge” has improved conditions, but by all rights we shouldn’t be caught in a brutal civil war and spending unfathomable amounts of US treasure as our economy sinks into recession and our dollar freefalls in the international market.

(And although I’m not going to dig up any links right now, serious economists on the right and left, aside from pollyanna cheerleaders, agree we are in recession regardless how the Fed wants to play this thing.)

February 27, 2008

AK-47 out, M-16 in

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:00 pm

In a move that can be considered both interesting, highly symbolic and simply good for many reasons, the Iraqi Army is tranistioning from the AK-47 to the US military standard, the M-16.

From the link:

The initiative marks a sharp break for a culture steeped in the traditions of the Soviet-era AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, a symbol of revolutionary zeal and third-world simplicity that is ubiquitous among the militaries of the Middle East.

 “We in the U.S. know that the M-16 is superior to the AK … it’s more durable,” said Army Col. Stephen Scott, who’s in charge of helping the Iraqi army get all the equipment it needs to outfit its forces.

“The Iraqis have embraced that … and the fact that it is U.S. manufactured and supplied. They are very big on U.S.-produced [foreign military sales] materials,” he said in an interview with military bloggers this month.

So far, the U.S. military has helped the Iraqi army purchase 43,000 rifles – a mix of full-stock M-16A2s and compact M-4 carbines. Another 50,000 rifles are currently on order, and the objective is to outfit the entire Iraqi army with 165,000 American rifles in a one-for-one replacement of the AK-47.

“Our goal is to give every Iraqi soldier an M-16A2 or an M-4,” Scott said. “And as the Iraqi army grows, we will adjust.”

February 15, 2008

Douthat on Iraq

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:58 pm

Ross Douthat had a great post yesterday at the Atlantic.com on Iraq, the surge and how all that will affect the presidential, and downticket, elections this year.

The meat (don’t let this snippet stop you from reading the entire great piece) of his post:

But the fact that the war effort may be sustainable in the teeth of public opposition doesn’t come close to making Iraq a winning issue for the Republican Party in the ’08 general election. Nowhere in the polls have I seen the sort of turnaround in public sentiment that many hawks seem to assume is taking place. Majorities continue to see the war as a mistake, victory unlikely, and withdrawal as our best option, and the numbers have barely budged since last January. The only number I’ve seen that justifies any conservative optimism is the percentage of Americans saying that the surge is improving the situation in Iraq, which has ticked up to close to 40 percent after being in the 20s at the beginning of the year. But this uptick seems to be primarily a case of the war recovering conservative support; it hasn’t had any effect on the overall pro-withdrawal, anti-war majority.

February 11, 2008

Russia flexes its air power

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:14 pm

Here’s a little reminder we are just one extended hot action away from re-instituting the draft.

From the article:

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. fighter planes intercepted two Russian bombers, including one that buzzed an American aircraft carrier in the western Pacific during the weekend, The Associated Press has learned. A U.S. military official says that one Russian Tupolev 95 flew directly over the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 58 miles out. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because the reports on the flights were classified as secret.The Saturday incident, which never escalated beyond the flyover, comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Russia over U.S. plans for a missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.Such Russian bomber flights were common during the Cold War, but have been rare since.The bombers were among four Russian Tupolev 95s launched from Ukrainka in the middle of the night, including one that Japanese officials say violated their country’s airspace over an uninhabited island south of Tokyo.

Our military is woefully overextended and armament depleted by the Iraq exercise. It’s not surprising other nations are testing our mettle and response.

February 7, 2008

A remembrance for a fallen soldier

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:47 pm

A soldier who shared my first and last name was killed serving in Iraq last April. It’s always a bit sobering to come across your name and word “killed” in the same sentence.

In honor of all our soldiers past and present, this post is for Army Pvt. David Austin Kirkpatrick.

From the site:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

2006 Eastbrook grad killed in Iraq

MATTHEWS — Army Pvt. David Austin Kirkpatrick, 20, a 2006 Eastbrook High School graduate, was killed Friday in Iraq.“All we know right now is that he was in a Humvee and there was an IED that exploded,” said Carrie Kirkpatrick, David’s sister. “(He) was somewhere in Iraq, I don’t know where.”

Kirkpatrick said military officials came to see parents Kenny and Rhonda Kirkpatrick on Friday to notify them of their son’s death. She said officials told her parents that David had been killed at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Iraq. Indiana is about eight hours behind Iraq.

Carrie Kirkpatrick also said there was no definite date for when her brother’s remains would be brought home.

“They told us that seven to 10 days from now he would be back,” she said.

February 1, 2008

Terrorist fools in action

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:32 pm

I’m giving more than a hat tip to Captain Ed (looks like it’s been a Captain’s Quarters kind of day).

He’s right. Terrorists are fundamentally evil. I can’t add anything more than his sentiments about this, so here’s his entire post:

The Despicable Nature Of Our Enemy

Baghdad got hit by two bombers today, but neither of them committed suicide. The al-Qaeda attack involved strapping remote-controlled bombs to two girls with Down’s Syndrome, and detonating the devices when they walked through the market. The explosions killed 73 people in one of the deadliest days since the surge pacified most of Iraq:

Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, claimed the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said the bombings showed that a resilient al-Qaida has “found a different, deadly way” to try to destabilize Iraq. … Involving women in fighting violates cultural taboos in Iraq, but the U.S. military has warned that al-Qaida in Iraq is recruiting females and youths to stage suicide attacks because militants are increasingly desperate to thwart stepped-up security measures.

If nothing else has shown the remarkable bloodthirstiness and heartlessness of the AQI terrorists, this should do it. People who would exploit the mentally handicapped as walking bombs have no sense of humanity, justice, or peace. They are, simply put, evil people who have no capacity for negotiation or co-existence.

In a way, this shows how desperate AQ has become. They obviously cannot fill their ranks with willing participants, and even hostages won’t suffice. Instead, they exploit the weakest and most innocent and use them as commodities to kill as many people as possible.

The Iraqis have seen this evil up close and have rejected it. They understand now that there is no accommodation with evil. It has to be defeated, and defeated utterly.