from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect

Two snips from Senate Panel Approves Defense Nominee

At one point, Mr. Gates said it was “too soon to tell” whether the American invasion in 2003 had been a good idea. He added: “My greatest worry if we mishandle the next year or two and leave Iraq in chaos is that a variety of regional powers will become involved in Iraq, and we will have a regional conflict on our hands.”

I think that some of the Democratic blogs have been too quick to give Gates credit as a straight shooter. In this statement he shows the mastery of doublespeak that taints much of politics and conservative-speak in particular. After three years and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan a squandered victory because resources were diverted from there to Iraq and the boost the war has given to every kind of Islamic radical group’s recruiting efforts and he thinks it is “too soon to tell” whether it was a good idea. While at the same time he admits in a backdoor fashion that the Iraq war and the way it has been conducted has destabilized the middle-east to a degree that even the most cynical mid-east observer would have thought impossible.

“Do you believe that we are currently winning in Iraq?” asked Mr. Levin, who has pushed for announcing a date to begin withdrawals of American troops from Iraq. “No, sir,” Mr. Gates replied, adding that he did not believe the United States was losing, either.

This bit of doublespeak is rather good. We’re not progressing as far as getting the civil war under control. At the same time whenever the insurgents or a band of al-Queda has a direct confrontation with the U.S. military our troops prevail. Yet Mr. Gates knows that winning these confrontations is not the same as winning a political victory, without which we could stay bogged down in Iraq for another ten years with all sides picking each other off and instability still the order of the day. It might be interpreted as a good thing that he(at least publicly) shows a willingness to be flexible, but it is par for the course that we have another Bush appointee with no real nor new plan.

Mr. Gates also appeared to differ slightly with Mr. Bush’s frequent formulation that Iraq is the “central battlefield” in fighting terrorists. Asked if he agreed with that description, Mr. Gates called Iraq “one of the central fronts in the war on terror” but that the United States also faced a “dispersed” enemy of Islamic militants worldwide.

Two important facts about Iraq cannot be repeated enough: al-Queda was not in Iraq until Bush invaded and Iraq is not flypaper that will keep all the terrorists too busy to repeat another 9-11 style attack. Only by repeating the Big Lie that Iraq is the front in fighting terrorism has it become a convention and dangerous wisdom. It’s akin to FDR saying that Holland was the front on the war against Japan. That mantra about Iraq and al-Queda isn’t just wrong it’s bizarre and indicative of the Bush-Cheney fundamental failure as leaders.

Can You Hear Me Now?

A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a “roving bug.” Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.

“The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them,” James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News. “Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone’s location to within just a few feet,” he added.

I have to agree with the judge’s ruling on this that rather then getting a warrant to enter some residence or business to plant a physical bugging device the FBI simply used an existing device. As long as warrants are requested based on the usual probable cause I just don’t see a problem with using this new aspect to an existing technology. On the other hand there is obviously potential for abuse. The potential for improper privacy invasion suggests another little tech race game. You don’t need much in the way of a crystal ball to see jamming devices available to prevent the FBI from tapping anyone’s cell phone. As it is there is encryption technology to prevent eavesdropping on internet calls.

Conservatives continues to wage war on rationalism, Congress Needs to Kick Prager Off Holocaust Council

Prager’s attack on a Muslim American for supposedly wishing to be sworn in on a Quran (which Keith Ellison did not say he intended to do) is incitement which can lead to attacks on Muslims and Arabs. Prager’s words are, in fact, ammunition stored up to be used after the, God forbid, next terrorist attack on these shores.

I don’t think that Prager would want to see violence directed against Muslims or anyone else. But I also believe that he does not care where his Muslim, gay or Jew bashing will lead. And, to me, it is that kind of thinking that led to the Holocaust. After all, the Shoah did not start with ovens. It began with words of hate.

That is why we are all outraged by a Michael Richards or a Mel Gibson. But neither of those sit on a board memorializing the Holocaust. They are just random entertainers,personal bigots and all-around cranks. I want Dennis Prager relegated to the simple crank category. Let him do all the ranting he wants on his various DJ gigs but get him off the Holocaust Council. Is there someone in Congress who will step up to the plate here and ensure that a bigot and a racist is not using the United States Holocaust Museum as his soapbox.

Those that not kool-aid drinkers know that the Right doesn’t give a damn about the military. Soldiers, sailors, and marines are simply pieces of equipment used to gain whatever screwy all encompassing Straussian delusions about hegemony. I have lost track of the stories we’ve had similar to this one, Investigation Reveals Military Punishing Wounded Troops

“I AM come of a race noted for vigour of fancy and ardour of passion. Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence, whether much that is glorious, whether all that is profound, does not spring from disease of thought, from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. They who dream by day are cognisant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. In their grey visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in waking, to find that they have been upon the verge of the great secret.”
from Eleonora by Edgar Allan Poe