Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm Baaaack....

Christopher Hitchens is my favorite liberal. While the man has more than a few chinks in his armor, his noisy and very public divorce from The Nation, and his on-going feud with George Galloway (spit!) endear the man to me. Chris’ raised his standing a couple of notches last night when he gave Bill Maher’s audience the bird after said audience repeatedly jeered the name of George Bush. From NewsBusters (sanitized by Your Humble Scribe):

Writer/author Christopher Hitchens on Friday night gave the finger to the Los Angeles audience of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. As he laid out the case for how it's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who wants World War Three, not George W. Bush, Hitchens cited how Ahmadinejad “says the Messiah is about to come back.” Maher quipped: "So does George Bush, by the way.” That caused a loud eruption of audience applause and cheering, which led Maher to clarify: “That's not facetious.” The crowd continued to applaud as Hitchens remarked, about those in attendance who had earlier cheered and laughed as Maher called Bush an “idiot” repeatedly: "That's not facetious. Your audience, which will clap at apparently anything, is frivolous.” Loud oohs and groans emanated from the audience, prompting Hitchens to give them the finger as he castigated them, “F**k you, f**k you,” while the groans continued.

Transcript and short videos (Real and Win) of the event here. Oh, just for the record: I think Maher’s a twit.

Iran Updates…

From USA Today:

KHONDAB, Iran (AP) — Iran's hard-line president on Saturday inaugurated a heavy-water production plant, a facility the West fears will be used to develop a nuclear bomb, as Tehran remained defiant ahead of a U.N. deadline that could lead to sanctions.


Though the West's main worry has been enrichment of uranium that could be used in a bomb, it also has called on Iran to stop the construction of a heavy-water reactor near the production plant that Ahmadinejad inaugurated.


The spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor can be reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in a bomb.

Wow. What a surprise, eh? (I’m in full-sarcasm mode with that statement.) Returning to my straight mode…there are no surprises here. The NYT reports:

MOSCOW, Aug. 25 — Russia’s defense minister said Friday that it was premature to consider punitive actions against Iran despite its refusal so far to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium as the United Nations Security Council has demanded.

Although Russia agreed to the Security Council’s resolution on July 31, Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov’s remarks made it clear that Russia would not support taking the next step that the United States and Britain have called for: imposing sanctions against Iran or its leaders over its nuclear programs. The Council set Aug. 31 as the deadline for Iran to respond to its demand.

I’m still shaking my head. Russia knows all about terrorism. And yet they are persistent in their refusal to side with the West in the confrontation with Iran. Do the Russians lack the imagination to visualize nuclear weapons in the hands of Chechen terrorists? Or are their business ties with Iran simply too important to jeopardize? Talk about short-sighted…

And finally…this is very, very interesting. Chad, writing at The Jawa Report:

In my line of work I have come into contact with people in the IAEA who naturally are afraid to express their views in public. In conversations with them a short while ago, there was cautious optimism after the German newspaper 'Die Welt' published details about the dismissal of Chris Charlier, one of the senior IAEA inspectors in charge of the Iranian nuclear issue, simply because his conclusions were unsympathetic towards Iran. These people hoped that the details revealed in the media would force the IAEA to set its house in order, despite the person at its head, and thereby expose the relationship between Iran and El-Baradei, who has on too many occasions been Iran's savior. But nothing has come of this affair. On the contrary, El-Baradei did his utmost to prevent sullying Iran's name and to conceal the affair as quickly as possible. The resentment of my colleges in the IAEA and their astonishment only grew when it came out that in recognition of El-Baradei's conduct Iran sent him 'gifts' - including extremely expensive traditional carpets of the highest quality (one Persian carpet could be valued as high as 50,000 euros.)

I’m not sure what to make of this, as the source of the information wishes to remain anonymous. However, even a casual reading, backed up with some superficial wondering/thinking, leads me to believe the accusations have some substance. I mean, would it surprise anyone if there were dishonest bureaucrats working at the highest levels in the UN?

The WaPo provides an analysis of casualty rates in Iraq: Service in Iraq: Just How Risky?

The consequences of Operation Iraqi Freedom for U.S. forces are being documented by the Defense Department with an exceptional degree of openness and transparency. Its daily and cumulative counts of deaths receive a great deal of publicity. But deaths alone don't indicate the risk for an individual. For this purpose, the number of deaths must be compared with the number of individuals exposed to the risk of death. The Defense Department has supplied us with appropriate data on exposure, and we take advantage of it to provide the first profile of military mortality in Iraq.

Wretchard at Belmont Club analyzes the analysis. I recommend reading both…

Weather blogging… Thursday and Friday we returned to our normal summer weather pattern, which is to say temps in the low-to-mid 90s and lotsa brilliant sunshine (no clouds). I took advantage of the weather yesterday to do the Mini Grand Tour: P-Town – Big(ger) CityTM – Cannon AFB and return. All that rain has had a most amazing effect: everything, and I mean everything, is incredibly green. The weeds wildflowers are blooming in profusion and the overall effect is quite grand. I’m betting we’ll have a bumper crop of tumbleweeds next year, and that isn’t a good thing. Oh, well. Take the good with the bad…

Today we’re back in the “monsoon zone” and are supposed to stay that way for the next few days. The dominant high pressure dome has moved back to the east, setting the stage for more moisture flow up from the Gulf. We’re in no real flood danger here on the High Plains, but I can’t say the same for Albuquerque and other parts of New Mexico. All this rain, on balance, is good. I’m not at all tired of it. Yet.


  1. Just passin' through, Buck. Haven't had time to comment much lately, but I am reading and enjoying your well-put-together posts.
    I like Christopher Hitchens better all the time. And Wretchard's analysis of the analysis was well done.

    I came across this interesting web site and wondered if you'd seen it(Wiki discusses it a bit. I'll be curious to know what you think):

    And this particular article from it about Iran's view of the recent war was enlightening:

    Did you happen to catch Sandmonkey's photos of Ramses making his way out of Cairo? Amazing history! And tragic how so many Egyptians don't honor their past as you would think.

    Back to work! (Sorry I blabbed so much during my last post. I ended up telling you stuff that I never told the people I worked with for 10 years!)

  2. Thanks for the Debka link, Bec. I've never seen the site before, nor seen it referenced in my travels, and I find that fact more than passing strange.

    You can blab til your heart's content as far as I'm concerned...coz you always have interesting things to say/share. And I appreciate it!


Just be polite... that's all I ask.