Strong Men Armed.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2010 - U.S. forces in the Marja region of Afghanistan are engaged in a series of missions to prime the Taliban stronghold before a massive assault that's expected soon, defense officials said today.
Some 12,000 U.S. and NATO troops and 3,000 Afghan forces are expected to be involved once the larger-scale operation begins in earnest. Officials declined to reveal when the assault would start, saying only that it is expected to commence soon.

Good luck and God Speed.



I have no doubt that my friends in the north are very tired of it, but for me, this is the first time I've seen falling snow since Baghdad. That was two winters ago, and in a way it's hard to believe I was ever there. I can remember that, when I was there, it was hard to believe I had ever been here. It was like remembering a different life, more than a different place.

When was the last time I saw snow in Georgia? Perhaps it was 2002, when we lived on Burnt Mountain, high enough that it snowed from time to time. It has been a while, to be sure.

The house is well-stocked, and there is the smell of roasting pork and apple, with cinnamon and wine. The snow is welcome.


Abraham Lincoln:

A figure quite controversial at times, at other times treated as a kind of saint, Lincoln is today celebrated at Powerline. They quote his anti-slavery speech from the Republican national convention of 1860, but let's look at his military judgment instead.

A friend sends, via email, a selection from General Order #100. We can see several things in it that clarify what ought to be done with certain classes of unlawful combatants.

Art. 63.
Troops who fight in the uniform of their enemies, without any plain, striking, and uniform mark of distinction of their own, can expect no quarter....

Art. 83.
Scouts, or single soldiers, if disguised in the dress of the country or in the uniform of the army hostile to their own, employed in obtaining information, if found within or lurking about the lines of the captor, are treated as spies, and suffer death.

Art. 84.
Armed prowlers, by whatever names they may be called, or persons of the enemy's territory, who steal within the lines of the hostile army for the purpose of robbing, killing, or of destroying bridges, roads or canals, or of robbing or destroying the mail, or of cutting the telegraph wires, are not entitled to the privileges of the prisoner of war.

Art. 85.
War-rebels are persons within an occupied territory who rise in arms against the occupying or conquering army, or against the authorities established by the same. If captured, they may suffer death, whether they rise singly, in small or large bands, and whether called upon to do so by their own, but expelled, government or not. They are not prisoners of war; nor are they if discovered and secured before their conspiracy has matured to an actual rising or armed violence.



I mean, it is the French, but still...

Elisabeth Badinter, a leading French feminist, has warned the green movement is threatening decades of improvements in gender equality by forcing women to give up their jobs and become earth mothers.

Mrs Badinter claims a “holy reactionary alliance” of green politicians, breast-feeding militants, “back to nature” feminists and child psychologists is turning Frenchwomen into slaves to green “fads” like re-usable nappies and organic food.
I'm not sure I recognize any part of that as "holy," though in general I think breast-feeding of infants is a fine idea, and "back to nature" is a concept that -- within certain reasonable limits -- could do a lot of good for a lot of people. Still, it's horrible to hear that they've forged themselves into so powerful an alliance that they can "force women" to give up their jobs. How are they accomplishing this?
In her new book, Conflit, la Femme et la Mere (Conflict, the Woman and the Mother), Mrs Badinter contends that this politically correct cabal is burdening mothers with intolerable guilt unless they stay at home and breast-feed for as long as possible.
Guilt! Ah, well.

Look, people tried to burden me with intolerable guilt for supporting the war in Iraq for several years. I don't recall feeling any actual guilt. I certainly felt some responsibility for the war, and a personal sense of duty to contribute to restoring peace and order to Iraq.

Why not guilt? Guilt comes from the inside. Someone may wish to make you feel guilt, but all they can actually do is bring the guilt you already feel to your conscious attention. If it isn't there, they can't create it.

If you find that you really feel "intolerable guilt" that you aren't spending more time with your child, perhaps you should listen to that. It isn't coming from them; they're just drawing it to your attention. The guilt is coming from inside of you, and you should probably draw off somewhere quiet and reflect on why you feel that way. It may save you regrets later in life.

If you don't find that you feel such guilt, their attempts to motivate you to feel guilty will certainly not create guilt in you. For someone who feels no guilt, such attempts sound -- I speak from experience -- more like a braying ass than the trumpet of judgment.

Lightning Advisory

Lightning Advisory: Washington, D.C.

No shame at all.

Robert Gibbs today tried to take credit for the success in Iraq even though both Biden* and Obama voted against the successful surge that stabilized the country. That’s not all. Biden caused rioting and protests when he pushed legislation to divide Iraq into three countries. Barack Obama told supporters in 2007 that, “Preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.”
2007 was the year of the Surge. A lot of things happened in Iraq in 2007 that gave us reason to hope for the future of that nation.

Not one of them had to do with this lot.

Mv2-lit fuse

Movement II: A Lit Fuse


We have not only fixed nothing the so-called "coordinated actions" of so-called "world leaders" have set up a potential catastrophe originating in Europe.

More than two years ago I predicted that Europe was the most likely place where the second leg - the real "Oh.... My...... God" moment - would originate in this economic mess. These ratios were the reason for my prediction, and all that has happened over the last two years is that they've gotten worse.

Neither Germany or the rest of the EU can fix this without massive reform - read that as restructuring and/or default - of the external debt in these nations, including Germany itself....

The United States, ironically, is one of the better-positioned nations to survive what is coming. No, it won't be easy for us, but of the developed world there are few who have the internal capacity to pull in the horns and make it - not comfortably, but to survive.
Hat tip to Dad29. One of his commenters points out an additional, serious problem: the tool of devaluation of currency is off the table in the Eurozone. As with the U.S. during the 1920s, tied to the gold standard, it's not an option.

So what does that leave? Admission of failure, combined with the cuts that are necessary to restore long-term solvency; or actual failure. Social unrest in the first case, war in the second.



From the National Review:

Imagine if a Republican administration had proposed various cost control initiatives to trim the growth of Medicare spending. Does anyone doubt that Democrats would attack the notional cuts vociferously? Paul Krugman actually had a canned argument ready in case Republicans ever did follow through: while Democrats use cuts to fund coverage expansion, Republicans use them to cut taxes for the rich (cue evil laughter). Now, it's obvious that we're trapped in this dynamic because the median voter reigns supreme, and it is cheap and easy for incumbent interests to distort and oversimplify wrenching reforms on either side of the partisan divide.

The only way out of this trap is to persuade the median voter of the central importance of achieving fiscal sustainability, even if that means short-term sacrifice. That is a tough job, and it's not clear that conservatives are willing to take it on. The good news is that many in the Tea Party movement understand the stakes and the difficult decisions that have to be made going forward. I'm far more skeptical about the Republican leadership.
A fair point. It also means that the Tea Party movement -- if it becomes successful at achieving power -- is going to need a response to the charge that it is intending to wage war on the poor. All of the things it wants to do involve restoring the government to its constitutionally-specified role; this includes dismantling the social-welfare state, at least at the Federal level.

There's nothing in the Constitution that prevents the states from running any kind of socialist program they want; that's a 10th Amendment issue. Is that the right response? "No, we're fine with you doing whatever you want for the poor at the state level, so long as you understand I'll be moving my business to a state that doesn't require me to pay confiscatory taxes. But anything you find that you can do for them, funded with such taxes as you can confiscate from those who cannot or will not move, go ahead and do."

It seems that globalization hates socialism; we can always move our business to somewhere cheaper! There are some advantages to remaining inside the United States, of course, but these turn out to have limits: for example, the advantage of easy access to markets can be overcome if transportation costs are cheap enough; the advantage of peace and good order can be overcome if the place we move to is willing for us to fund our own security services (and undermined by the increased efforts of our Federal government to act as a corporate shakedown racket).

Part of the answer, then, may be practical and budgetary: we have to make these changes, like it or not. Part is doctrinal, or legal: we ought to restore the idea of Constitutional limits to the central place in our public life. And part is a concession, so as to let the world make our argument for us: do what you can at the state level, freely, understanding that you'll be paying for it by having businesses flee you.

Sports metaphor

Sports as a Metaphor for Life:

Southern Appeal:

Here’s the New York Times article documenting the president’s pick, the Colts.

(Update: Joe in the combox points out that over a week earlier the President had apparently picked the Saints to win as well. So, ESPN is both wrong and right, and the President predicted both correctly and incorrectly. Just like in Neoplatonism, all apparent contradictions dissipate in the being of the One.)
Dennis the Peasant:
But the classic line in all this nonsense is this:
While he’s been very clear that he supports the House and Senate bills, if Republicans or anyone else has a plan for protecting Americans from insurance company abuses, lowering costs, reducing prescription drug prices for seniors, making coverage more secure, and offering affordable options to those without coverage, he’s anxious to see it and debate the merits of it,” the White House official said.
Both of them? Both of them? How in the world can you support both of them? This is leadership?
Of course it is. The president has always supported the House or the Senate bill, or anything else that could pass.
Super Bowl Thread:

Peyton Manning is a fine young man, I have family connections to the University of Tennessee where he became famous, and the wife is from Indiana; but the Saints are surely the underdog, having never before seen a Super Bowl from the inside. So, I shall be a friend to the weaker party, as Ivanhoe's Richard the Lionheart avowed was always the duty of a true knight.

Good luck, Saints.

UPDATE: Congratulations, champions.

Since music seems to be the topic today, I came across this item.
The authorities do not know exactly how many people have been killed warbling “My Way” in karaoke bars over the years in the Philippines, or how many fatal fights it has fueled. But the news media have recorded at least half a dozen victims in the past decade and includes them in a subcategory of crime dubbed the “My Way Killings.”

I wonder what they'd think of Johnny:

But then, maybe he had some idea, because he did come armed.