Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Posting at a reduced rate towards the end of the week.... or not at all, as it turns out.
What kind of anti-spam bill sails through this Congress? The kind that makes the spammers happy by preempting state anti-spam regulations which might conceivably have been a bit inconvenient for them...
The revolving door between the Pentagon and defense contractors seems to be spinning these days at an unusually rapid clip. Boeing just fired two executives, including their CFO (who had been touted as a successor to their current CEO). The two were involved in negotiating a controversial tanker deal, which was widely criticized for gouging the taxpayers. IIt was a very friendly negotiation -- Darleen Druyun, the Pentagon official who was negotiating the deal, was also tipping Boeing off about a competitive bid from Airbus. And there's a reason for that -- she was simultaneously negotiating her next job at Boeing. (She's now the other executive Boeing has dismissed, also for cause).

And while it's perfectly reasonable to complain about Republican pork -- their hypocrisy on the issue, and their partisanship, are both pretty rank -- it's useful to remember that no one in national politics has entirely clean hands; this one's largely on the Democrats.

Monday, November 24, 2003

I caught the "Tell us the Truth" tour yesterday, this edition featuring (among others) Billy Bragg and Steve Earle; Bragg was particularly impressive (the political remarks in his between-song patter were more cogent and pointed than Howard Zinn's brief opener).

My attention fastens on the weirdest things at these events -- like Earle's succinct report of an onstage technical glitch: "The sumbitch ain't connected to the motherfucker." The same explanation might apply to some of the problems we're having in Washington...

Distinguished military historian John Keegan has a new book out suggesting that the importance of military intelligence has been frequently overrated. The gurus of high-tech information warfare know enough not to challenge Keegan on his own home ground; instead they suggest that all that history that he knows so well, is, well, history:

Bruce Hoffman, director of RAND's Washington office and a terrorism analyst, said that although Sir John analyzed the role of intelligence in countering Al Qaeda, most of his examples were drawn from 18th- to 20th-century wars rather than 21st-century conflicts. "Keegan is largely right on the role of intelligence in conventional wars," Mr. Hoffman said, "but he is not right about counterinsurgencies in any century, when intelligence is the sine qua non of success." Modern wars, he argued, are not fought only with military tools. "So intelligence has a very different role today. You can no longer fight, much less win them just with military strength."

Great news for our forces in Iraq, which might be able to succeed by applying intelligence, without brute manpower. Or not:

Mr. Hoffman maintained, for instance, that poor intelligence on the radical jihadists and pro-Saddam Hussein loyalists who are killing both Iraqis and American soldiers today "is one of our major problems in Iraq."
Bill Frist, MD, had this to say Sunday about the energy bill:

If we have a blackout as natural gas prices go up, people are going to know who to blame, because it was the Democrats, it was the Democrats who brought this bill down.

The last time those sorts of things happened, in California, the cause was ultimately energy companies gaming the system. But if it happens again, it's the fault of the Democrats...