Please, Not Another One

The man in the Oval Office smiles. The great coup in the Bush administration this past week was the visit to New York by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A man who was elected, yet rules by permission from the Mullahs in Qom, came to this country and caught nothing but flak. From the right, from the left, did not matter. He received an invitation to speak at Columbia University, and in return for accepting this invitation, was greeted with a profoundly insulting introduction by Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger. Bollinger, after catching flak of his own throughout the week for extending the invitation to Ahmadinejad, felt it necessary to repulse that criticism with such choice sentiments from the podium as, “Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and, referring to Ahmadinejad’s statements regarding the Holocaust, “You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.” Free speech remains safe for us all. Continue reading “Please, Not Another One”

An Ugly Tactic for an Ugly War

From the category labeled “Be Careful What You Wish For,” the Washington Post reported on Monday that some Army snipers have been baiting targets. The snipers were given such objects as AK-47 ammunition and wire that could be used in bombs by troops from the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group to place in conspicuous spots around a target area. The snipers would then hide and wait for anyone to pick up the materials. Those that did were greenlit and were engaged by the snipers. It’s not clear at this point how many Iraqis have been killed using such tactics, or if the baiting is an ongoing program. What is clear is the visceral nastiness of such an idea. But, send an army to war, and they will find creative ways to not only kill, but also identify, and perhaps create, targets. Continue reading “An Ugly Tactic for an Ugly War”

Jackasses at the Helm, Part Two

A strange thing happened this past January. The inauguration of the new Democratic majority should have been a cold day for the Iraq War hawks in the Republican Party and the White House. The Democrats rode a wave of discontent about the war to victory in the midterm elections of 2006. There was much high rhetoric and bold pronouncements that the end, if not all that near, was at least foreseeable. Continue reading “Jackasses at the Helm, Part Two”

One Giant Leap Backwards

Today, the X Prize Foundation announced its latest competition, the Google Lunar X Prize. In a follow-up to 2004’s Ansari X Prize, which was awarded to a team that successfully launched a privately funded suborbital manned flight, the foundation would seem to be raising the bar. The finish line in this latest competition is the moon itself, the conditions calling for a robotic rover, similar in concept to those exploring Mars today, to land on the moon, travel more than 500 meters, and transmit high definition video and images back to earth. No easy task. The $25 million prize more than likely will not cover the cost of development and execution of a successful mission, but it has never been the goal of the X Prize to make money for the competitors. Instead, the competitions are meant to foster innovation and development, leading to the betterment of mankind. That being said, the Google Lunar X Prize does none of this. Continue reading “One Giant Leap Backwards”

Sand in Your Eye

We’re six years in. This day, this September 11th, always a shitty day for as long as people remember the attacks. No coincidence that Petraeus and Crocker find themselves on the Hill, hocking the president’s wares. Hell, Petraeus may even believe it. If we had gone in with 500,000 troops, and a plan for what would happen after the Iraqi tanks were all gone, Petraeus is the man we should have had at the head. No one is denying that. The man is the poster child for American counterinsurgency. Continue reading “Sand in Your Eye”