diet coke for breakfast

Friday, December 15, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl

Farewell for now.

Not sure if there's anyone out there reading, but I've decided to join my brother's blog at Hopefully with the two of us blogging, there will be enough comment to keep some readers interested and coming back.

Thanks to anyone who's been reading here, and look for me as Tanstaafl at the new site.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
I would have voted NO
The law would also instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study analyzing the state of the art of data centers and servers in the U.S., including potential cost savings owed to the use of energy-efficient products. The EPA is then supposed to recommend new ways to attract interest in energy-efficient products, which has been the goal for years of the government's Energy Star initiative.

I have nothing against energy efficient servers. In fact, I hope more companies will invest in the technologies that are making them more efficient. Aside from the environmental benefits, it makes good business sense, as the article points out. My complaint is that this is a complete waste of tax-payer's money.

Do the authors of this bill honestly believe that corporate IT and finance departments need the EPA's help in figuring out how much money they will save?

Just another intrusion of government into an area where it has no business, at the expense of those of us who foot the bill.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Rumsfeld and Iraq:
Few know that in early 2003 - a month or more before the Iraq invasion - President Bush was presented with two plans for post-war Iraq. The first, written by CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided for a long occupation of Iraq and the nation-building that the president renounced in his 2000 campaign. The second, a Pentagon plan authored by Rumsfeld's team, provided for the establishment of a provisional government before the invasion and American withdrawal within months of Saddam's overthrow. The president, convinced by Powell that 'if you break it, you own it', chose the Powell-Tenet plan and ordered Rumsfeld to carry it out.

For a long time, I have felt that Rumsfeld was the only competent, high-profile, member of this administration. Yet again, I find another well-informed, well-reasoned argument supporting that fact.

In a discussion I had when we were prepping to invade Iraq, a relative of mine suggested that there were 4 criteria that would be necessary in order to achieve "victory" in Iraq.

1) We would need to be greeted as liberators in the streets as we were in Paris during WWII.

While this this may not have been exactly the case, we certainly had a bit of a honeymoon period before the insurgency took hold, and the images of Iraqi's pulling down Saddam's statue definitely suggested the majority was pleased with their freedom.

2) We needed to find some sort of WMD's.

As I understand it, this was a "slam dunk". In fact, Secretary Powell told the UN that we knew they had them... guess they dropped the ball on that one.

3) We needed to be out in one year.

Based on the quotation above, it sounds to me like Rumsfeld had structured a plan to make this goal a reality, and together Tenet and Powell preferred a long occupation.

4) We had to avoid getting caught in a three-way civil war. (Bosnia and the like should have taught us about pent-up hostilities.)

Again, the Rumsfeld plan would have pulled our troops out of theater before a civil war could erupt. Now, 4 years later, civil war is a reality that we have to deal with. The only good news is that the Kurds have not started fighting. But, we can not kid ourselves, they are almost certainly arming themselves in case they need to enter the fray.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Rumsfeld Demonstrates his intelligence, again:
The situation in Iraq has been evolving, and U.S. forces have adjusted, over time, from major combat operations to counterterrorism, to counterinsurgency, to dealing with death squads and sectarian violence. In my view it is time for a major adjustment. Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.

By now, anyone that is politically aware may know that Donald Rumsfeld wrote those words in a confidential (and now leaked) memo to the White House one day before the recent elections, and two days before he was effectively fired.

While many might be surprised at Rumsfeld's views as outlined by the memo, I am not. I have never believe that Rumsfeld is as detached from reality as his critics suggest. Instead, as a careful analysis of Rumsfeld's Rules would suggest, I believe that he has been trying to give the best advice he can to the President in private, and then supporting in public whatever decisions are made in the Oval Office.

As for the content of the memo. I generally agree with his above the line suggestions. In fact, I've echoed many of them here and here.

In true Rumsfeldian fasion, he has very astutely put the single most important recommendation first:

Publicly announce a set of benchmarks agreed to by the Iraqi Government and the U.S. — political, economic and security goals — to chart a path ahead for the Iraqi government and Iraqi people (to get them moving) and for the U.S. public (to reassure them that progress can and is being made).

Much of the problem with the President's policies and the resulting electorate sentiment can be directly linked to the White House's inability to communicate effectively.

The problem that most people have when the President says we must stay until we "achieve victory" and create a "stable democracy" is that we do not know what either of those terms really mean. Does the sectarian violence have to be over? Do the Iraqis have to hold 2 more elections? 10 more?

Until we have clear and measurable goals, it is really impossible to have a constructive debate about what actions to take going forward. We should decide where we are going, and only then decide how to get there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Are Iraq's Neighbors Serious about Stability?

"Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran for a weekend summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, four key lawmakers told The Associated Press on Monday.

The goal is to hash out ways to cooperate in curbing the runaway violence that has taken Iraq to the verge of civil war and threatens to spread through the region."

I sincerely hope that this is more than a publicity stunt and that the Iranians and Syrians have realized that an Iraq ripped apart by Civil War is unlikely to be good for them either.

Back in October, I posted:

However, I now believe it is time that we start pulling our troops out. We can, and should, give leaders of the other nations in the region not an exact schedule, but a general idea of how long it will take us to pack up and redeploy. We can make it clear to them that if they do not want chaos in Iraq then they can step up and take a hand in rebuilding. We did the dirty work of taking-out Saddam, now they can stabilize the region.

I wonder if the Administration has quietly told Iran and Syria that we can't stay for ever, and the sooner they get in the game, the better the end-game will be for their countries.

Alternatively, these two rogue nations may have realized that it is not in their interest to have additional US forces show up in their back yard.

I am very curious to see what will come out of this summit. In all likelihood it will be a lot of empty rhetoric and a fair amount of denouncing the US. But, I am holding out a slight hope that these two nations will decide to withdraw support for the various militias and terrorists that they are backing in Iraq, and throw their weight behind the elected government.

Right now, my guess is that the Iraqis are suspicious that the government is our puppet. Based on Saddam's 95% voter support, I wouldn't trust election results if I lived there. If both Iran and Syria recognize and start cooperating with the Iraqi government, instead of undermining it, it could go a long way to creating legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Annan Anon:

"The United States and Australia are the only major industrialized countries to reject that 1997 treaty annex."

That may be... but Europe has missed all of the targets it signed-up to anyway. Who's worse someone who makes promises he can't keep, or someone who won't make the promise?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Global Warming Strikes Again:

"Wildfire season typically peaks in late summer and early fall. Climate change is being blamed for a longer fire season and some even predict the possibility of a year-round fire season."

Articles like this are why I have trouble buying the alarmist view of global warming. According to Wikipedia, "The Earth's average near-surface atmospheric temperature rose 0.6 ± 0.2° Celsius (1.1 ± 0.4 °Fahrenheit) in the 20th century."

So how long exactly did this change 0.6 degree change over 100 years extend the wildfire season?

"The U.S. Forest Service spent $1.5 billion fighting those fires -- about $100 million over budget." How did that compare to last year's expenditure? Was the budget higher, lower, or the same last year?

The article mentions, of course that other changes, like effective fire-fighting in prior years which has let forests get more overgrown than usual or the addition of residential areas near forests, might be factors. But of course, those are secondary to the global warming boogie man.

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