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Assange and Yamamoto

A month after his historic victory at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said:

A military man can scarcely pride himself on having "smitten a sleeping enemy"; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten.

Betraying secrets is a weak form of heroism, if it can be considered heroic at all. It is a sneak attack. If your life was on the line, would you rather rely on a WikiLeaker or a warrior?

Perhaps much of the outrage at Mr. Assange is displacement. Instead of feeling shame in themselves (or their government), the anger is refocused on the one who exposed them.

If the secrets were important, why were they not protected better? Who was responsible for vetting whichever scoundrels betrayed the team?

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Homeland Security

The United States can be attacked, but it cannot be conquered. As the Japanese Admiral who led the attack on Pearl Harbor is often (mis)quoted, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Yamamoto was correct:

Over the last two months, the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – deployed to the woods of a single American state [Wisconsin] to help keep the deer menace at bay.

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Grassroots Warfare

Recent travels along the intertracks have led me outside my usual routes and on to several military-focused bloggers. I used to be a big-time wargamer (never a real soldier, though), but that interest has been dormant for quite a while. Nevertheless, I still find it fascinating.

Military procurement is as much a political issue as an economic or technological one. That hasn’t changed since I stopped paying attention. Expensive and flashy weapon systems always get priority when Congress decides on military funding. The ordinary infantryman has no lobbyist in Washington.

From my studies of war, I remember that infantry is called “the Queen of Battle”. Everything else in war is ultimately deployed to support the infantry. The goal of war is to enable your troops to occupy unmolested a given patch of ground. It’s about control of territory. And that’s what the infantry does.

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Bristol’s Shine Reflects on Sarah

A few posts back, I wrote about Sarah Palin improving her brand by letting people get to know her better:

Even better if the whole family shared some camera time to help take away the “otherness” in her negatives.

Maybe even have one of the kids solo in the spotlight for while. Say, in a competition to show how values and character and spirit were transmitted from mother to child.

That same day, this appeared on Bristol Palin’s Facebook page:

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Personifying Palin

Neo-neocon concisely summarized the essential challenge Sarah Palin would face in a run for President:

Yes, she’s got name recognition, all right. But people have made up their minds about her, and her negatives are both high and seemingly set in stone.

Pretty but stupid is the perception. She’s not a person, she’s a punchline.

The particular kinds of stupid Palin suffers from seem correlated with one’s location in political space. The Progs think she’s a creationist simpleton reading from a cartoon Bible. The establishment righties think she’s not sufficiently sophisticated for the nuances of national and international politics. Somebody could probably accurately map the political space using opinions of Palin as coordinates.

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Politics is a Three-Dimensional Space

Andrew Napolitano strikes a chord I am tuned to:

Government cannot be trusted to expose itself.

Since he has a show on Fox News and writes about the importance of following the literal Constitution, he must be a righty, no? But here he is using his show to support Wikileaking.

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Hypocrisy and Situational Ethics

So often in the leftosphere, intentions matter more than outcomes. Wikileaks, for instance, is focused on truth-telling without regard to the lives which might will be lost when secrets are exposed.

I’m not of firm opinion about spilling secrets like this. My anarchist nature likes any check on government shenanigans. And few things are permanently secret anyway. It’s more a matter of timing the reveal; today is inconvenient, while tomorrow will help explain history.

But also I recognize evil in the world and accept that compromises must be made. Governments and their secrets are the best of many bad choices.

Neo-neocon makes an excellent point about the kinds of nations and governments that can be harmed when state secrets become public:

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Minneapolis Biking Sharing a Success

Much to my surprise, the first season of taxpayer-subsidized bike rental in Minneapolis did not result in massive theft and vandalism:

In Minneapolis, again, theft and vandalism simply haven’t materialized as problems. The operators expected to lose around ten percent of their bikes to crime in the first year, but so far, that figure has only turned out to be 0.3 percent.

With 700 bikes on the streets since June, said Dossett, only two bikes have disappeared. Vandalism has been minimal: There have been a few bikes that were graffitied, a few tires slashed, and one incident in which a motorist hit a bike-sharing station and shattered some glass.

Carthago Delenda Est

TJIC likes to describe those who realize the Progressive vision is not what it promises to be as, “standing on their front porch, looking around.” It is a more strident picture than Neo-neocon’s cerebral accounts of political changers. The people on the porches are more than newly-enlightened. They are angry.

They’re looking around the neighborhood looking for allies and tracking enemies. Because the world they were indoctrinated into was a lie. On their porches, they’re seeing the world with fresh eyes. And they’re contemplating action.

Stop Shouting is on her porch. She did not buy into the indoctrination, but she is no longer willing to politely suffer Progressives and their delusions:

I am tired of being told to sit down and shut up.

I am tired of being told what I can and can not say.

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Vote Now or This Fetus Gets Whacked

A pregnant couple from the suburban Twin Cities is putting a question to the internets: Birth or Not?

The abortion issue has been a controversial topic for decades that reaches to the core of every person in America. Often voters will even base their entire choice on this one topic alone, disregarding everything else the politician has to offer in the vain hope that their “chosen one” will be able to effect change on this issue.

We all like to think that our opinions matter, but so often there is no effective outlet for our beliefs to change lives. While most people have a definite opinion about abortion and take a stance as being either “Pro-Life” or “Pro-choice”, very few have an opportunity to do more than voice their concern to their elected representative. The concerns that we voice to those around us don’t seem to change the status-quo. Unless you are put into the position of having to make this decision in a setting that actually makes a difference, the debate does not affect anything.

Voting is such an integral part of the American identity. We vote on everything. We vote on things ranging from the best singer on American Idol to who the next leader of the free world will be. Wouldn’t it be nice to voice your opinion and have it actually make a difference in the real world? Why not vote on whether to continue or abort an actual pregnancy? Your vote can help a real couple to make a decision on this issue. 

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Bone Voyage!

As another indication of the bounty of our society, I direct your attention to Pet Airways:

We always knew Zoe, our Jack Russell Terrier, was smart, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that we realized she's also a brilliant entrepreneur. After all, it was Zoe who gave us the idea for Pet Airways.

With Zoe as part of our family, planning vacations was always a little more complicated. Visiting out-of-state friends or relatives required sophisticated logistics. Weekend getaways always had to be close to home.

It wasn't Zoe's fault of course. It was the airlines'. There was simply no safe way for Zoe to comfortably fly with us. She's not a big dog. Just a little one. But a little too big to fit under the seat.

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Blessed

Robin of Berkeley, a political changer from lefty to righty, reflects on her first Thanksgiving:

Being a Leftist means honing in on every possible injustice. Never-ending gripes and grievances are the glue that keeps progressives cemented together.

But then, three years ago, the bottom fell out of my life. Slowly but surely, it dawned on me that everything I had held as sacrosanct was a lie. I woke up -- and now I behold the world with fresh eyes. Consequently, I am celebrating my First Thankful Thanksgiving.

Instead of laser-focusing on every unfairness, I am now moved by life's bounty. I finally see my great fortune in being born in this country, in this moment in time. Although I used to lambaste the United States and everything it stood for, I realize that I was like a spoiled child -- ungrateful, mean-spirited.

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Profitable Policy

Dinocrat has a good explanation of how U.S. trade and tax policies have worked to drive manufacturing and employment to foreign lands. Like so many issues, rhetorical framing makes it difficult to have a genuinely curious discussion.

One of the first points to get past is a notion that foreign governments are scheming and evil. Some may be, but in the general case of trade, they’re just making more effective policy choices. It isn’t that the foreigners are malicious, but that the United States is stupid.

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SWPL Radio

Public radio annoys me. It is a bastion of the kind of self-satisfied smugness that I see in most of my lefty neighbors. It is a church of superficial diversity that excommunicates anyone (see Juan Williams) for the sin of Differing Opinion.

Thus, I enjoyed this take-down of NPR:

“NPR doesn’t get a lot of public money.” This endlessly repeated assertion is apparently so important that it appears on NPR’s own website, where it features prominently in the ombudsman’s frequently asked questions page. “NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government,” the network states. This begs the question, of course, of why — if the public money it receives is so minor — NPR and its defenders fight so ferociously to retain it.

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It’s Not the Train’s Fault

As a rail fan, I was pleased that Hollywood was made a movie about a train: Unstoppable. The trailers make it look like an action picture, and that curbed my enthusiasm. I prefer actual acting and cinematography to special effects. But every so often I can look past the explosions and enjoy the rest of it. So I planned on making one of my rare ventures into the world of first-run film for Unstoppable.

Not anymore:

True to the title, the train is unstoppable. It defies its brakes, it blasts through an RV, it flips over several police cars, it flips a train in front of it which then explodes with the blast of the Manhattan Project, ignores a SWAT team shooting assault rifles at it (really) and not only rides right over the Automatic Derailers, it shoots them off the tracks where they take out some more police cars.

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One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer

MaxedOutMama is waving the white flag. If the 2008 recession actually flipped into an economic expansion, it’s over:

As far as your blogging host (hereby named Our Lady of Stupid Data Fitting) can tell, we are actually in a contraction right now. Admittedly, early in a contraction, but you know, contracting.

I follow MOM for her macro-scale analysis. She turned me on to WIET, for example, as an alternate measure of employment that is harder for officials to meddle with.

But I have had some doubts about her recent optimism that the recession was over. It seemed like she was relying too much on the kind of statistics that can be gamed by bureaucrats trying to paint a rosy picture of the U.S. economy.

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Play Poker, Not Roulette

The rhetoric about profiling as a means to inhibit terrorists assumes what I’ll call biographic profiling. The knee-jerk opponents to profiling like to charge “Racism!” or “Fill-in-the-blank-ophobia!” when it is suggested that there are visual clues about who might deserve more scrutiny. And the knee-jerk reaction to the first jerks is to accept those terms. “Fine! Call me a racist, but why are we groping grannies when zero grannies have exploded airliners?”

They’re both missing the point. Their notion of profiling seems based in some kind of TV-influenced detective drama. Serial killers, for example, show many similar biographical traits. By examining evidence at a crime scene, the profiler can make educated guesses about who they’re looking for.

But all that kind of evidence is static. Biography is history. Like skin tone, the past is beyond anyone’s control.

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One Good Reason to Get Rich

Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller) had an encounter with a TSA screener last week. The screener touched Penn in his swimsuit area without first giving notice. Penn properly recognized this as assault, and filed a complaint with the local police.

As the events played out, and several TSA supervisors insisted to Penn and the cop that, “We have no problem with you, you're free to go,” Penn kept pressing the issue.

He made it clear that it was not sexual, that he was not harmed, but it was still a violation of the law to be touched without first being warned. There was mention of lawyers and such.

The reason Penn offered for pressing a seemingly trivial point:

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Look It Up

The Oxford Dictionary people have made Sarah Palin’s neologism*, “refudiate”, the Word of the Year. By my count, that’s one more than the current President has accomplished. But Barry is still up 1–0 in Peace Prizes.

The Oxford experts hold that Palin means what she says:

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used 'refudiate,' we have concluded that neither 'refute' nor 'repudiate' seems consistently precise, and that 'refudiate' more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of 'reject.'

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Security Theater—Now with more Audience Participation!

Cartoon of TSA agents preparing to grope little boy

Borepatch argues that the TSA has not just an impossible job, but also has incentives that lead them to do the worst possible job:

Consider their metrics.  How would you measure success?  Quite frankly, there's no plausible metric here - to my knowledge, TSA has never caught a terrorist in the act. Sure, terrorists have been caught in the act (the shoe bomber, the Christmas bomber), but none of these were caught by TSA. The Christmas bomber was caught by an alert airline checkin employee; the show bomber was caught by passengers on the plane.

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