Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Najaf Puzzle

Over at The Fourth Rail, Bill Roggio has some interesting bits about the big battle near Najaf.

And, of course, The New York Times has now chimed in with an effort to belittle and denigrate the efforts of Iraqi Army and police personnel who led the attack on the bizarre cult and foreigners who had intended to attack Shiites:

January 30, 2007
Missteps by Iraqi Forces in Battle Raise Questions
BAGHDAD, Jan. 29 —Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.

Not surprisingly, Bill Roggio the blogger takes a more cautious approach to gathering information about a confusing situation and expressing opinions than does the "reporter" for The New York Times. The Times cannot let a hint of success by the Iraqi Army against a surprisingly large and violent group take hold in the public consciousness.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Iraqi Army Pulls Its Own Weight in Najaf

According to The New York Times, one of the biggest single battles in Iraq in several years occurred in Najaf – and the men doing most of the fighting against the “militants” were in the Iraqi Army. Could it be that the Iraqis are approaching the point at which their own army is ready to provide security?

January 29, 2007
250 Are Killed in Major Iraq Battle
BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 — An American helicopter was shot down and at least 250 people were killed near the city of Najaf on Sunday in what appeared to be one of Iraq’s deadliest battles in years, Iraqi officials said.

For 15 hours, Iraqi forces backed by American helicopters and tanks battled hundreds of gunmen hiding in a date palm orchard near the village of Zarqaa, about 120 miles south of Baghdad, by a river and a large grain silo that is surrounded by orchards, the officials said.

Col. Ali Numaas, a spokesman for the Iraqi security forces in Najaf, said that the fighting stopped just after 10 p.m. and that most of those killed were militants. An employee at a local morgue said at least two Iraqi policemen were among the dead.

The “militants” apparently had intended to kill as many Shiites as possible:

Asad Abu Ghalal, the governor of Najaf Province, said the fighters in the orchard were Iraqi and foreign, some wearing the brown, white and maroon regalia of Pakistani and Afghan fighters. He said they had come to assassinate Shiite clerics and attack religious convoys that were gathering in Najaf, one of Shiite Islam’s holiest cities, and other southern cities for Ashura, a Shiite holiday that starts Monday night and runs through Tuesday morning.

Also, there were some other foreigners who intended to kill Shiites:

Elsewhere in the heavily Shiite south, there were other signs of potential strikes on Ashura. Officials in Karbala said the police arrested three men on Sunday — a Saudi, an Afghan and a Moroccan — who were found on the road between Najaf and Karbala with a suicide bomb belt and explosives in their car. The officials said the vehicle had been hollowed out so it could be used as a car bomb.

As the useful idiots in the U.S.A. wring their hands over the “civil war” in Iraq and demand that we abandon Iraq, it is important to notice that our enemies among the Islamic radicals come from places other than Iraq and join in the killing with the intention of provoking the Shiites into a chaotic “civil war.”

When our enemies choose a strategy to defeat our plan to establish a democratic republic in Iraq, it is best not to play along and help them. Our enemies expect to win their first objective (getting us to withdraw in an isolationist funk from Iraq and other Islamic areas) by creating chaos in Iraq and letting the fifth column here in America persuade us it's a "civil war" in which we shouldn't be involved. Unfortunately, they are getting a lot of help from the knowing and unknowing traitors among us.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

News from Anbar Province

Bill Roggio is back in Iraq's Anbar province for a little while. This entry is encouraging -- the Iraqis are willing and able to take the fight to the enemy.

Al Gore Dodges Inconvenient Interview

Al Gore apparently would rather not answer pointed questions about his global warming ideas.

It's a lot easier to claim falsely that his critics are ignorant people who refuse to accept scientific facts than it is to try defending his ideas.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Have Bill Will File, Wire Simpson, Covington

Could this headline in the Kitsap Sun online edition hint at an editor's opinion of Rep. Simpson?

Speedway Backers Find a Starting Gun for Hire in Olympia
By Steven Gardner
January 20, 2007


Supporters of a NASCAR-ready speedway in South Kitsap have a sponsor in the Washington House of Representatives — for a bill that is not expected to specify Kitsap County as the track site.

State Rep. Geoff Simpson, D-Covington, said Friday he would likely introduce a bill that provides state funding to help build a speedway for NASCAR and other races.

In the print edition, the headline was a little more bland: "Speedway Gets a Starting Gun in Legislature." Maybe the person who did the print edition headline realized there is nothing in the article to hint at any "hired gun" status.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

There is no Lake Wobegon

Charles Murray is trying again to get his point across:

Today's simple truth: Half of all children are below average in intelligence. We do not live in Lake Wobegon.

Efforts like "No Child Left Behind" may eventually make unavoidable the need to determine just how much can practically be done -- and may be helped along by incessant demands for more spending on public education. There is a point beyond which no amount of additional money spent on schools will change the outcome significantly.

As Murray notes, we don't know where that point is:

Some say that the public schools are so awful that there is huge room for improvement in academic performance just by improving education. There are two problems with that position. The first is that the numbers used to indict the public schools are missing a crucial component. For example, in the 2005 round of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 36% of all fourth-graders were below the NAEP's "basic achievement" score in reading. It sounds like a terrible record. But we know from the mathematics of the normal distribution that 36% of fourth-graders also have IQs lower than 95.

What IQ is necessary to give a child a reasonable chance to meet the NAEP's basic achievement score? Remarkably, it appears that no one has tried to answer that question. We only know for sure that if the bar for basic achievement is meaningfully defined, some substantial proportion of students will be unable to meet it no matter how well they are taught.

In Washington state, many people are worried about the idea of basing a high school diploma on the statewide test known as the Washington Assessment of Student Learning. They can foresee having to refuse to give diplomas to a large number of students who cannot pass the "WASL."

But, if they cannot (or will not) do the academic work that receiving a diploma supposedly recognizes, why give them meaningless diplomas?

Before taking money away from other purposes (including the purposes to which the taxpayers would put that money if they keep it for their own uses) and spending it on public schools, shouldn't we at least admit that we need to answer the most basic question?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Israel may have to choose

This may be true, but why leak it to the press?

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran
Uzi Mahnaimi New York and
Sarah Baxter Washington

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

Iran's leaders constantly promise to wipe Israel off the map, and they are openly developing a supposedly "peaceful" nuclear energy program which could give them the material for the bomb.

What would you do if you were leader of Israel? Wait to counterattack after thousands of your fellow countrymen are killed by Iran's first strike? Or hit Iran first to prevent further development of their weapons program at least for the time being?

It's a Hobson's choice. If they wait, they die. If they strike first, they live for awhile longer; but the Islamic radicals (and their fellow travelers) will not go away -- and would point to Israel's first strike as justification for developing their own weapons.

Maybe the leak was motivated by a desire for others to choose to take action, given the terrible choices available to the Israelis:

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Neither we nor the Israelis have good choices available to us in this situation, but the insane men in charge of Iran actually like the bad choice they have already made.