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November 14, 2009



It is a pity the procrastination is going on at the very time Pakistan is actually attacking the ratbags. Something they can throw in our faces the next time the Administration bitches about their efforts.


Really, Suez, why is everyone pretending there for eight years, the various overland expeditions in the NorthWest Frontier, don't make pull out that long ago post:


narciso | November 14, 2009 at 10:04 AM
"Really, Suez, why is everyone pretending there for eight years, the various overland expeditions in the NorthWest Frontier, don't make pull out that long ago post:"

Was this in response to my 10:01 AM post?

Charlie (Colorado)

Narciso, you've definitely over-ellipiticalled that one.


No, it's a response to Kilcullen, who seems to foreclose options rather suddenly, like
the Drone program, the Maxim guns of the 21
century. Obama seems to following the advice
of 'General Biden' among other luminaries.
'lord love a duck'


The point is we've been there for a long time, it's not a one off like Suez or the 2nd Mesopotamian campaign of 1941. The Brits suffered catastrophic losses in 1841,
yet they didn't retreat from their border posts on Indian soil.


Obama is doing a great job showing that the Bush Afghanistan strategy was spot on.

William Teach

I've been leaning towards no more troops for a long time, because that will create a situation where every jihadi from around the world will stream into Afghanistan to fight "the great Satan" and get their 72 virgins (no word on whether the virgins are male or female,) much as they did in Iraq. Afghanistan is a horrible place to fight for tons of reasons, and this will simply become a meat grinder, certainly made worse by wishy washy liberal rules of engagement.

But, Obama needs to make a decision. If he says no more troops, you won't hear this conservative complaining.

Jack is Back!

Think about it: you have a young, inexperienced President more dependent on TOTUS than advice and he is hearing from every possible quarter - Biden, Gates, Levin, Jones, Mullen, Petraeus, McChrystal, Eikenberry, and even the Daily Kos or Puffington - who knows. He doesn't have the intellectual depth or prior executive responsibility to even understand what he is being told much less how to deal with it in a decisive manner. He is stuck on pause and wishes this problem would just go away, thus the stall based on corruption or election results, anything but making a decision. He continues to show his complete misunderstanding of military conflict and use of armed force by addressing the troops with the tripe of "not willing placing them in harm's way". What does he think the military's job is - community organizing? There job consists of being placed in "harms' way" for a reason - that is how you kill the enemy. I really am getting tired of being tired of him.


US fatalities in Afghanistan have shot up since McChrystal took over in May. There were 59 deaths last month, but 9 so far in November. Seems like orders from somewhere are to keep the troops largely out of harm's way during the dithering.


There needs to be enough troops there to prevent a complete jihadi take over and an Iranian or jihadist sanctuary. I assume that means not just patrolling the border but securing the main roads and capitol as well. It probable also means securing a number of other principle cities and transit points.

It after that is donw one can enlist the tribal leaders to work with you, great.

I assume that is the military's plan and I also assume (forgive me) that the military have a realistic take on the ponce in chief and asked for a bit more troops than are absolutely needed.I don't think they anticipated that in the face of deteriorating conditions that man would make their job more difficult by ambiguous actions and words and dithering on the request.

If I had voted for him I'd be gnawing on the hand that marked the ballot by now.

Original MikeS

The Obama Dither on Afghanistan has had the predictable result of hurting the morale of our troops and raising the spirits of the enemy.

In a conflict that is not about military dominance, Obama's performance so far has been a boon to the enemies of Western Civilization.


Here are a couple of Linux articles, for anyone who's interested, but I also have an open question (sorry, no open thread to post this on, but I figured it would fit right in with the endless commentary and photos of la Michelle's suicide belts).

This first article, Microsoft does the right open-source thing is a perfect example of one of the things that DrJ dislikes about Linux, and why he prefers FreeBSD (and fwiw, I'm quite open to FreeBSD and have toyed with trying it out, it's just that I'm comfortable where I am and I'm not a professional like DrJ). It's also interesting for anyone with an interest in intellectual property law.

What happened was, Microsoft ripped off open source code that they then used for a very important part of Windows 7. MS says it was a mistake, open sourcers say MS got caught red handed. Whichever is the truth, the software in question was licensed under the GPL (see Wiki), which is precisely what DrJ objects to about Linux (FreeBSD uses a different type of license). Amazingly, MS, rather than using its huge war chest to stiff the open sourcers with legal maneuvering, went ahead and complied with the GPL.

The next Linux article, Lenovo returns to the Linux desktop is actually mostly about the increasing use of Linux (sure to expand with Google's Android Linux) on mobile devices:

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs gave the world a sneak peak at the Lenovo ARM Snapdragon-powered smartbook, a cross between a smartphone and a netbook. Jacobs added that Lenovo Linux-based smartbook would make its debut at January's CES (Computer Electronics Show).


The smartbook, which adds 3G data telephony technology and GPS to a netbook design and size-factor, will be built on top of the 1 GHz Snapdragon chipset. This un-named Lenovo smartbook will be an instant-on design with 720p HD video, GPS for location-based services, and a large battery that can deliver power for 8 to 10 hours.

The device will support both 3G, from AT&T, and 802.11 g/n Wi-Fi. AT&T will sell the devices -- quite likely as part of a 3G data plan. AT&T was also closed-mouth about any further details.

The Linux interface, as shown by Jacobs, is a simple, application based design. We already know that Google Android is supported on the Snapdragon architecture and is optimized for 3G smartphone use, so it's a likely choice for the Lenovo device.


Yes, they will be shipping a Linux smartbook, but it's going to be primarily sold by AT&T as a cross between a smartphone and a netbook. It won't be marketed as a 'Linux desktop.' It will be marketed as a useful device just like the Verizon Droid smartphone and T-Mobile G1 are. You and I know that they're powered by Google Android Linux, but 99.9999% of their customers don't know that, and don't care.

Cecil Turner

The truly dumb thing about this ridiculous dither-thon is how easy the decision is. The President doesn't have to figure out the precise number of troops to send to AF, nor the tactics to be employed. He just needs to decide whether to continue the COIN approach he started in March, or whether he wants to go a different direction. It's essentially a binary solution set.

If he wants a new plan, he gives broad guidance on what he wants (e.g., "secure AF without Al Qaeda bases, minimal footprint") and picks from the options presented. If the reports on the process are to be believed, he tried to skip the initial decision and guidance phase, and went straight to the options. Not surprisingly, he didn't see anything he liked.

Adding to the stupidity is the reality that whatever decision he makes, it won't be over. No strategy is perfect, and there will be other decisions, unforeseen branches and sequels and ramifications that spill over into diplomacy, grand strategy and the like. The whole point of having a staff is the ability to take decisions quickly and modify each as necessary. Taking a year to make a perfect one is not only not the objective, it's a recipe for disaster.

Finally, I doubt his sincerity. He can't possibly be this f***ed up on making a decision, even if he never had a real job in his life. (Surely he picks out ties occasionally.) The one feature each of his actions has had so far is to kick the can down the road, and allow for endless focus-grouping of each option to allow the perfect political choice. While this drama is entirely unsuited to warfare, it may well be in President Obama's personal poltical interest. But that ain't no way to run a railroad. And besides, when Clausewitz famously observed "war is merely a continuation of politics by other means," I'm pretty sure he didn't mean domestic politics.


OK, here's my open question. As some of you may know, I enjoy music, playing and listening. I listen largely to Baroque instrumental and to a lesser extent Renaissance vocal music. I use a Sony mini hifi, which suits my needs fairly well in the confined space in which I usually listen. However, I'm aggravated by the fact that it sometimes will fail to recognize a CD. Checking on Amazon, I notice that others have the same complaints with Sony's smaller units.

Question: Does anyone know anything about this type of problem, and do you have recommendations for more reliable but still fairly compact units? Broad question, but I'm looking for ideas to work from.


Those are all good points, cecil.

auduril, melinda might be of some help on that or chaco. There are so many threads they may miss your request.


Cecil, as you know, I have no brief for Obama, and no particular sympathy for him, since he brought this on himself with his dishonest posturing during the campaign--which was a reflection of Dem posturing over the last 8 years or so. OTOH, I think he's been brought face to face--meaning, he's found that ultimately he won't be able to avoid making a decision for which he will be held responsible--with a very difficult situation. He has so far, IMO, offered no viable plans. OTOH, the standard conservative of "more of the same" is not viable either. Well, it's his war now, he owns it by his own words. Still, I'd like to see the right thing done for America.


Chaco was on above, I think.

Charlie (Colorado)

I'm sorry, Anduril, what was the question?

Captain Hate


Compact players don't always have the strongest lasers in them and if the disc is somewhat old (which I'm assuming from the type of music you listen to may be the case) the plastic coating may be getting a little cloudier (hard to tell visually) or the underlying metal may be slightly oxidized, making it hard for a weak laser to read it. I had a similar problem last weekend when I took a Harry Partch disc that I've had for quite a while to my neighbors and his compact unit at first had a difficult time reading it.

Captain Hate

Correction: when I said "compact players" I meant portable or small players.

Charlie (Colorado)

Oh, there it is.

Honestly, I'm not a real big audiophile (although I am a big fan of baroque and renaissance music, interesting) but this sort of thing is basically a bug. I've heard the same thing as you about inexpensive Sony stuff, which makes me wonder if they're putting firmware chips into the cheap boxes that were intended for didn't fab well.

Have a look at Tech For Less. They always have a bunch of remanufactured stuff for very little money (I saw a Panasonic unit a couple days ago that might suit you) and I've always had good luck with them. Basically, go for a remanufactured unit that lists for more money than you'd want to pay.


And now the first of two controversial articles: Does Washington have an Iran lobby?

My frequently reiterated position is that all organizations that advocate for foreign powers should be closely examined and either required to register under FARA or prosecuted if they seek to evade the requirements of FARA. I think this is an absolutely basic part of national security and it should be rigorously and impartially enforced.

But there's a problem. AIPAC has been allowed to be an exception to FARA--and other foreign powers have taken note. Many countries have attempted to pattern their activities in the US after AIPAC's relationship between the US and Israeli governments. China is certainly one, and they play an ever increasing role not only in our economics but in our foreign policy in general. Turkey even received Israeli advice in setting up their operations here (to the increasing chagrin of the Israelis, now that Turkey is going Islamist and is even starting to align itself with Iran). Making AIPAC an exception has already caused enforcement difficulties--that is, difficulties in the uniform application of FARA to other countries--and those difficulties will only worsen in the future. To the detriment of our national security.


Thanks, Charlie. That may be a good way to start. The problem is sorting through what, for me, seems to be rather a jungle for the non-expert.


What makes anyone here think Obama could make the correct decision whatever time it took?

Charlie (Colorado)

I agree; I'm thinking about buying a new TV and feel the same way. The thing to remember is that they all have the same basic chipsets, and at least in this sort of price range, the electronics aren't that different in the analog stage either.

That and recall that since the audio resolves up to 22kHz, it's better than your ears are anyway.


yu can buy ure dop from stor now in cali


OK, second controversial article: What Would Jane Do? How a 19th-century spinster serves as a moral compass in today's world. It's by James Collins (no, not the Mr. Collins). Here's the opening:

Jane Austen is very funny. Her characters are vivid. The poise of her sentences is perfect. Her plots are pretty good—at least, they keep you reading. However, to write brilliant novels was not Jane Austen's foremost goal: What was most important to her was to provide moral instruction.

FWIW, Alasdair MacIntyre, IMO the foremost moral philosopher of our time, has written fairly extensively about Jane Austen as the last major proponent of a virtue based morality in the West.

Cecil Turner

He has so far, IMO, offered no viable plans. OTOH, the standard conservative of "more of the same" is not viable either.

Sorry, but a tu quoque is not valid. He implemented a strategy in March that can probably be made to work. Or he can change course. Either decision is better than no decision, and the decision can be just that basic. Idiotic nonsense like hand-wringing over the election serves to make the current government less credible and is directly counterproductive. And this is his baby, no conservative solutions are even being solicited. There is little doubt the situation is getting worse, and he's directly responsible both for the trend and the outcome.

On the OT: I'm not that much of an audiophile, and don't have much input on systems, but I would put in $.02 on format. After my daughter wangled an IPOD out of me, I eventually converted all my CDs to mp3, playing directly from an mp3 device when able (and burning mp3 CDs as necessary). I find them far more reliable, equal in sound quality, and most sound systems will play 'em just fine. Even my cheapie car system is compatible and plays an mp3 disc (with 150+ songs) that's easily replaceable in minutes if it gets scratched. Plugging an IPOD nano-type device into a portable player is also an option.


I'm quite open to FreeBSD and have toyed with trying it out

If you do, try PC-BSD, which is a consumer-friendly packaging of FreeBSD for the desktop. FreeBSD is great, but you have to do everything yourself, at least if you do it right. I think that would drive you nuts, as the initial learning curve is very steep.


I find them [mp3s] ... equal in sound quality...

Cecil, an mp3 cannot (and does not!) sound as good as a native Red Book (or better) CD. On a low-end system you may not be able to tell the difference, but it really is plain on anything decent.

I've not gotten around to storing all my CDs yet, but I intend to store them in a lossless format (which is not mp3), and transcode where necessary.

Captain Hate

Yeah mp3s are very compressed and you can't help but lose a significant amount of high and low frequencies.


DrJ, I'll check into PC-BSD. Thanks.

Cecil, I've never had a problem with mp3's, so maybe that's a solution. It's one that I could implement gradually, too.

OTOH, my comment re Obama is not a "tu quoque" response. McChrystal's plan, as I understand it, seems to me to be essentially a "conservative" one, i.e., based on the counterinsurgency ideas of Kilcullen and Petraeus that were implemented in Iraq during the Bush administration. You assert that this approach will "probably" succeed in Afghanistan. I'm not convinced, because I believe that the two countries differ in significant respects. One, of course, is the sheer difficulty of the terrain. Another is the multi-national character of the Taliban movement--in reality, largely a Pushtun tribal nationalism movement. There are many times the numbers of Pushtun than there are Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Moreover, the degree of support that they get across national borders dwarfs what the Mahdi Shiites were/are getting from Iran.

I also believe that the human factors are different: the Sunni's and Shiites in Iraq were more amenable to coalitions than the Pushtun are proving to be, partly because each of the Iraqi groups had more tangible things to gain or to lose (like, control over oil, or the revenue from the oil) than the Pushtun do.

My second area of disagreement is your assertion that any decision is better than no decision. A rash decision can lead to worse results than drift and dither, undesirable as that may be. For example, a rash decision could lead to outright disaster, whereas drift might leave room for eventual correction of course. No that I favor drift. I made my recommendations elsewhere recently, and if I can recover them I'll paste them in. I make no claims to expertise in military matters, but "more of the same" seems to me a recipe for eventual failure.


"plain on anything decent"

Assuming your hearing is equally "decent".

I question whether most people could tell the diff in a blind test.

Some like the sound of tubes, some like the sound of vinyl. Since those things have a "sound" they probably do more "damage" to the pure signal than mp3.


I have no idea who Conn Hallinan is, but this article raises some of the points I attempted to make re the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan--they are substantial: Why the Afghan Surge Will Fail. It's fine to harp on Obama's failings, which are many and serious, but if conservatives should manage to retake the Legislative Branch in 2010 and the Executive in 2012, these are serious issues that they will then own.


Hmmm. I see Obama is bowing to "royalty" around the world (just not European "royalty"): Why is this man bowing? Question: when does a bow become a kowtow?


I've given up on the Afghanistan held hostage theme...This guy is simply the most incompetent fool we have ever had in high public office.

He had made the United States a laughingstock around the world. His bow today is simply one more example. Japanese bows are calculated by the millimeter and his is a most simpering, obeisant bow that would have been more appropriate to the Meiji era.

Just as we don't dip the flag to foreign potentates, we do not bow to emperors and kings, or we didn't, anyway.


Many Neocon sites (AT, Powerline, etc.) are pushing hard for the idea that NIAC is an agent of a foreign power. I've repeatedly gone on the record--insofar as this forum is a record--in support of rigorous and impartial enforcement of the foreign agents registration act (FARA). Ben Smith has an article on this uproar: Documents detail Iran engagement campaign, in which he writes:

Documents released by the National Iranian American Council in the course of its defamation lawsuit offer an unusually detailed a detailed look at the creation of a coalition that has worked, if with limited success, to steer the Obama administration away with confrontation with Iran and to lift sanctions against the country.

The documents include the minutes of the coalition's meetings and internal emails. Others from the same lawsuit were written about today by Eli Lake, and while these documents don't bear on the question of whether the group is a foreign agent, they do seem to bolster the notion that the group works to change U.S. policy, part of the definition of lobbying. The group heatedly denied the claim it should have registered to lobby.

Smith, of course, is confusing lobbying with the provisions and purpose of FARA. For information, here is the principal definition of "agent of a foreign principal" in FARA 22 U. S. C. §611:

(c) Expect [Except] as provided in subsection (d) of this section, the term "agent of a foreign principal" means--

(1) any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person--

(i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal;

(ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal;

(iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or

(iv) within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States;

I'm not arguing for or against requiring NIAC to register under FARA, since I'm not privy to all, or virtually any, of the facts. As presented by Smith, the facts don't fit FARA's definition.

Also for the record, I note that George Soros funds NIAC. I am not a fan of Soros.

Charlie (Colorado)

I question whether most people could tell the diff in a blind test.

They generally can't, the tests have been done.

Usually, they can tell the difference only when they have the body language and phrasing from a salesman to cue them.


So, it's a kowtow, then? It looks pretty groveling to me, too. If he weren't POTUS, I'd say he's a dip, but as it is...

Charlie (Colorado)

Anduril, we were making fun of Obama on that on the previous thread.

It appears that Japanese response on bulletin boards is taking two basic forms:

- a small group of the relatively radical nationalist Shinto folks (what people call the "right wing", stupidly) is saying "see, the mystical force of the Mikado is so strong it compelled a deep bow from Obama"

- a bigger group falling down laughing because he's getting the whole thing so wrong.

Old Lurker

I must be in an agreeable mood today!

I agree with JiB's "I really am getting tired of being tired of him."

I agree with Cecil's Obama takedown at

And I agree with DrJ's comment about MP3 vs Lossless vs good CDs. I went through Anduril's problem before with older CD's too and came to the conclusion that there was no perfect answer, particularly if you listen in different houses. So my compromise was to play them all on the best laser I could find and then store the early CDs as high rate MP3's and later ones as Lossless. (Did not feel like going back and redoing the early ones.) In the doing, I discovered that my ears are not what they used to be, and my patience with the technology is not either. Now that most of my music is stored per above, I can move it from winter house to other places by taking a hard drive, and it makes it easy to download to iPods in the cars or the headphones when flying. When I said "most", I am slowly converting old LP's and Reel to Reel Tapes into MP3. DrJ is right that on a really good system you can indeed hear the difference...but lately for me not so much and the convenience of my new way makes it worthwhile. To repeat: there is no perfect answer.


"you can't help but lose a significant amount of high and low frequencies"

Well that's not true. The compression works by discarding inaudible (or indistinguishable) frequencies. It's not a high or low frequency difference.

Essentially it's a bit like reproducing any arbitrary color (light frequency X) using a combination of primary colors (A + B + C) all different from X.

The eye can't tell the difference.


Hey, Chaco, speaking of telling the diff, here's a delightful WSJ article today: A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion: They pour, sip and, with passion and snobbery, glorify or doom wines. But studies say the wine-rating system is badly flawed. How the experts fare against a coin toss.

And I love this anecdote from the article: [Physicist] Neils Bohr ... was said to have had a horseshoe hanging over his office door for good luck. When asked how a physicist could believe in such things, he said, "I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

Charlie (Colorado)

No, this is a kowtow.

Assuming Obama actually asked anyone's help and didn't just make it up himself, what Obama is doing is very deep keirei, like what a Japanese commoner might do meeting the Mikado.

Possibly with the addition of the handshake, I can't recall I've ever heard if that changed since the war.

The big smile on the Mikado's face is the polite Japanese form of falling down laughing.


Heh, Chaco, I'm pretty decidedly in the second group--that is, if a gaijin can be allowed to weigh in on such matters.


Well, maybe the kowtow will come in Beijing. To the red emperor.

Terry Gain


He can't help himself but on the bright side the athleticism demonstrated during the deep King Abdullah bow is the highlight of Obama's presidency so far. As it unfolded I thought for sure that Obama’s head was going to end up in King Abdullah’s crotch but Obama maintained his equilibrium throughout, which for him is quite unusual.

Unfortunately, this athleticism was balanced out by the 50 foot girlie pitch at the All Star game that was so pathetic the cameras had to pan away to save his presidency.


Apples and oranges really, the Arabian Wahhabi lobby, and the Iranian Guard lobby
are 'real and present dangers' to the lives of American servicemen and civilians all around the world. Israel is not, no matter
how many times the accident involving the USS Liberty is brought up. I know this a point lost of Buchanan, Paul & Scheuer, but
it is what it is.

Charlie (Colorado)

Anduril, me too. It's interesting the Hillary Clinton manages to get it right. I'm beginning to think that the White House has lost State's phone number.


I think the First Amendment would bar any attempt to make Americans register when they --without compensation from a foreign govt or agents of such--work to advance what they see as the mutual interests of Americans and another country. Anduril and I have disagreed on this as we have on whether the line item veto pitched as unconstitutional by the SCOTUS should nevertheless be considered constitutional.

Short of constitutional amendments I think things tlike the Turkish-American society, AIPAC, etc. cannot be constrained though in the case of a nation considered an enemy some additional oversight seems warranted.


anduril, I love that horseshoe story!

And how appropriate for a day when we're discussing a certain horse's ass showing said ass.


narciso, presumably Israel isn't doing this anymore, either. However, I still have problems with the Pollard case and the other cases of Israeli spying--as I do with all foreign spying in the US. US spying is OK with me. My only point is that Israel should be treated for what it is: one sovereign state in a world full of sovereign states, each of which have their own interests, some of which conflict and some of which coincide with our interests. And yes, considerations of morality are part of my calculus, and ideally should, IMO, be part of the US's foreign policy calculus. To what extent they are, I can't say. Varies, I suppose.


Back to the CDs and mp3s, the easiest is to compare an mp3 and the original for yourself. Simply take a CD you know, rip it to mp3 format on the computer, and compare. See if you hear it for yourself. Do be careful to match playback volume, because the louder one almost always sounds better.

Philosophically it makes no sense to throw out information when you store it originally. Keep all the information a CD contains (that lossless format) and then transcode to whatever format you need.

What sound filters you prefer (like tubes) is not really the issue -- you might actually prefer the sound of an mp3. However, once you have thrown the original information away, it is impossible to get back unless you re-record, which is a pain, as OL points out.


Right but there is a difference between espionage and undercover operations in countries, directed at your destruction, and lobbying activities. And this is one
of the many things I disliked about 'The
Israeli Lobby' by Walz and Mearsheimer. Which often feels like I was printed in Riyadh and translated into English


I wonder if the NY Times magazine didn't unwittingly publish a letter from Bill Ayers in that insipid column, "The Ethicist" by insipid Randy Cohen. The questioner states he is an editor, and he worked for years on a book by a non-writer. "The subject is fascinating, the research solid, the information excellent, but the prose is incomprehensible.We've essentially created a book from his notes, although he still thinks he wrote it. I want to display his actual ability by running his author's note and acknowledgments unedited..

Just wondering if this might be a veiled threat from "Guilty as Sin" to his friend in the neighborhood.


clarice, as you've framed the issue we don't actually disagree:

when they [American citizens - which Parsi is not]--without compensation from a foreign govt or agents of such--work to advance what they see as the mutual interests of Americans and another country.

I presume you would draw certain lines here. As for example, goofball scientists who think that disseminating details of our nuclear weapons program is good for both the US and other nations like Russia and China, and who would gladly do it for free?

Under FARA, American citizens are free to lobby their government on foreign as on domestic issues as they see fit.

But here's what FARA actually does say, and the distinction is important:

(1) any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal,

The issue comes down to foreign direction or control. If an American citizen is lobbying on his own, that's no problem--a problem only arises if that citizen fails to disclose that his lobbying is in any way directed or controlled (as described in FARA) by a foreign principal. That's why Ben Smith misses the mark. Until they can show that NIAC is directed or controlled by Iran, irrespective of whether they are paid, then NIAC doesn't have to register. But if they are under foreign direction or control, again, irrespective of whether they are paid, then IMO--as well as in the clear legislative intent of FARA--they must register. FARA has never been successfully challenged on first amendment grounds, or any other grounds, for that matter. FARA doesn't prevent free speech, it simply requires disclosure of your ties to foreign principals, which is quite reasonable.

Whether a country is considered an "enemy" is beside the point--and should be. Israel, for example, is not considered an "enemy," although it is considered by the US intelligence community to be one of the most aggressive collectors of intelligence (including classified information) in the US. Your formulation would quite clearly allow American citizens to assist foreign governments "not considered to be an enemy" to commit espionage against the US. Our espionage laws make no such distinctions, nor should they.

As for the line item veto, my position remains that the ruling was the single most irresponsible decision by the SCOTUS in modern history, as our current fiscal mess demonstrates. IMO, it was nakedly and shamelessly political and should be overrruled. It was as much as to say that the constitution is a fiscal suicide pact.

Charlie (Colorado)

Okay, at Clarice's suggestion I just submitted a blog item on Ears and the Bows and pitched a longer piece.


DrJ, as long as I retain the original CD I retain the original information, so I'm covered, right?


Some of Colin Hallinan's other articles:

Why the Afghan Surge Will Fail
November 13, 2009
Germany’s ‘Deep Regret’ in Afghanistan
September 30, 2009
Afghanistan: What Are These People Thinking?
September 13, 2009
Blood and Oil in Central Asia
July 16, 2009
Shadow Wars
May 28, 2009
The Afghan Rubik’s Cube
April 03, 2009
Gaza: Death’s Laboratory
February 13, 2009
Danger in South Asia
September 12, 2008
Afghanistan: Not a Good War
August 02, 2008
An Uncomfortable Conversation About Nukes
July 22, 2008


there is a difference between espionage and undercover operations in countries, directed at your destruction, and lobbying activities.

This is true, narciso. Lobbying activities conducted by foreign governments are called "diplomacy." US citizens are allowed to assist in such activities as long as they register under FARA. However, where I disagree with you--and US courts also disagree--is the notion that the government must prove that a person intended to destroy the US in order to prove that the person has violated our espionage laws. Instead, the courts have held that it is only necessary to show that the person sought to advantage a foreign government--whether or not they thought they would be harming the US. That decision--on whether or not the US is being harmed--is not left to the private citizen. It is for the government to decide. (Decisions on proper classification are a different matter, and can be raised in defense.)

Charlie (Colorado)

As for the line item veto, my position remains that the ruling was the single most irresponsible decision by the SCOTUS in modern history, as our current fiscal mess demonstrates.

Anduril, what is the constitutional basis for allowing a line-item veto? I agree with you that it would be a Good Thing, but the Article One description of the veto power pretty explicitly says it's all or nothing: sign or veto, not pick and choose.


Charlie, link?

DAVOD, links?


The constitutional basis hinges on the definition of what a law is. That's why Congress does those humongous "omnibus" bills, so that the POTUS can't veto what, to all common sense appearnances, are separate laws. The argument is that every line item is a veto-able piece of legislation. It's been a long time since this came up. Scalia wrote a cogent dissent, IMO, but I'll have to reread it. For a long, long time sequestration was used, until Congress got the whip hand after Watergate. But this is partially, at least in a related sense, what signing statements are about, too. Notice that that's a campaign pledge that Obama ditched almost immediately? He does signing statements.

Charlie (Colorado)

On which?

Here's the Article One text:

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Charlie (Colorado)

I dunno, Anduril. This is getting to be IANAL territory, but Scalia's argument strikes me as a bit of pilpul to get to the result he wanted. If a "line item" is really a "bill", then how about a word?


DAVOD, links?

The same place you on your Post anduril | November 14, 2009 at 01:10 PM

You may want to post the location. I always have problems.


as long as I retain the original CD I retain the original information, so I'm covered, right?

Yes, but...

If you take the CD and store it on something (like a computer drive) for daily use and do not store it in a lossless format, to retrieve that information you have to go back to the original. The idea is to do that transfer once and only once. It is a fair amount of work to take CDs, convert them (to mp3 or flac or wmp, for example), and store them.

Of course you can store them in their native format, and forget about the initial conversion. All that does is save some disk space, and disks are inexpensive these days. I recently bought a couple of 1TB SATA drives for about $100 each. A 1TB drive holds about 1500 standard CDs if you don't use any compression, and about 2500 if you do. Of course if you use mp3 it would hold a lot more, but there is a price to be paid for that.

Yes, this is getting a bit far afield from your initial question!


The whole issue is more complicated than I can do justice to here--even if I were a constitutional scholar rather than an internet gadfly. However, there have been suggestions on how to get around the SCOTUS opinion: Line Item Veto Act of 1996. Interestingly, Breyer was one of the three dissenters (with Scalia--I forget the other one) and wrote a lengthy opinion. You can read about it briefly here: Clinton v. City of New York. Stevens wrote the majority opinion and Kennedy wrote a concurrence. Most legal scholars will give an overwhelming edge in intellectual firepower to Breyer and Scalia over Stevens and Kennedy. On those grounds alone I think I'm in respectable company.


Thanks and apologies to one and all--thanks for the stimulating Saturday discussion and responses to my query and apologies because I've got run out and buy some wine. It will be purchased on the basis of past experience, not ratings (although one possibly speculative purchase). As I remarked to clarice, I'm trying to become a wine snob on the cheap. However, Charlie's questions will motivate me to go back and read the whole opinion soon--something I've been putting off--and I'll be back. Call that a threat or a promise as you prefer. :-)


OK, I'm running, but one final thought: Kennedy in his concurrence complained that the line item veto would enhance the executive's power as against congress. I'll be interested to see whether he addresses whether the use of devices such as omnibus spending bills is an illegitimate enhancement of the legislative branch's power as against the executive.

Old Lurker

DrJ is right about the options now in reach because 1T drives are so cheap. The simplest is to save the whole CD as-is, getting more than 1000 per drive. But it is a real pain to do that as I found, not to mention going back and redoing them in Lossless or exact copy mode. I figured I would copy them once then save the CD as insurance. But the copying was such a pain, and even though I did save the CD's, I got two additional drives and the software to keep them in sync. 1&2 stay connected and synced all the time; #3 joins the party once a week to get re-synced, then it goes back in the safe in another building. I've been doing this for my accounting and other docs for years, and take great comfort from the arrangement. Yes, I know it's a bit home made.

As to the ripping...you can find services that will do it for not too much. I checked into some of them for my LP's and Reel Tapes; found some are very picky about copyright issues. I tried to get my kids to help, but they hate my music so much they stopped.


I'm trying to become a wine snob on the cheap.

Just find good wines, and leave the snobbery to Dorothy and John in the WSJ (who are not snobs, really).

The best way to do that is to visit good wineries that do not charge for a tasting. Most do a lovely job, and some even do niceties such as vertical tastings. I've found that if you show that you love wine, often they pull out the good stuff and talk with you in depth about it. At smaller places, that person can be the winemaker.

Yes, it helps that I'm in northern CA. So shoot me. Well, don't.


Try Italian wines for great value. They produce so much good stuff that you can almost always find something excellent very reasonably.

Here in CA, the problem is the cost per acre got ridiculous over the past 20 years and that gets amortized into the price of the wine. $60/bottle seems to be the norm, with the better quality going at $125/bottle. There is an excellent vineyard called Terra Valentine that makes some great cab at @ $35/bottle.


"compare an mp3 and the original for yourself"

Simply not blind enough to count.

The information discarded does not color the sound. If the sound is harmonically simple, like a bass guitar track for example, essentially nothing is "lost" compared to the noise floor.

But ... if someone claimed they could see the difference between a pure single frequency color and a mixture of primary colors most others see as the same ... who am I to disagree.


If you are looking for some real wine values, go on line. You can find some terrific sales. I use a place in New Jersey that sells wines for half of what they would cost in the neighborhood, often with free shipping.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

Obama's obeisance to a foreign leader:


And on Veteran's Day, just before leaving for the Asian trip, he again shows his disrepect for America with a crotch salute:


Sara (Pal2Pal)

Ugh, "disreSpect"


Wines? I rarely drink wine anymore but someone stopped by with a bottle of Dacu (spain - red) the best red wine I can remember tasting.

hit and run

Sara,I think it's now been established that http://www.redstate.com/erick/2009/11/14/obama-at-veterans-day-services/>that photo was taken Memorial Day.

And to be fair, http://www.jcs.mil/newsarticle.aspx?ID=97>here's a side view from what appears to be the same event (notice Mullen to Obama's right), with Obama with his hand over his heart.

Caption: Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Barack Obama render honors during the playing of the National Anthem during Memorial Day commemorations at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., May 25, 2009. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

Sara (Pal2Pal)

Sorry, it is Memorial Day, but I think the picture speaks for itself, Hit. Everyone else is saluting, either a full salute or hand over heart, not Obie, he is giving the crotch salute.


Sorry if this is a repost--something seems to have eaten my last one.

Sara, hit, looks like McMullen musta kicked him in the leg, or somethin'.

matt, I agree about Italian reds, and I like Rhone and Spanish reds a lot. But you're way beyond my price range. I just went absolutely nuts and spent $17.99 for a bottle of Trimbach Riesling that I'll probably save for New Years Eve. Usually I try to average out to around $10, so I shop the sales. For example, I found 2 bottles of a Priorat for half price recently, and they were really good. Or Clava Sauvignon Blanc from Chile compares very favorably with Loire whites for $9.99. That's what I try to do, anyway. Sometimes fast talking salesmen get the better of me.


Simply not blind enough to count.

It really is blind enough, since the difference is not that subtle for most cases.

We've been treating mp3 like it is a single thing, but it isn't. The sound depends a great deal on the bit rate used for the mp3 recording. It has been a while since I've done the test, but the lower bit rates were not at all difficult to tell from the original. Once you get over 192Kbps or 256Kbps then yes, you need better testing methods, because the difference is subtle. At some (high!) rate, of course, the two should sound indistinguishable.

Most mp3s are 128kbps by default, and the difference from the original has always been easy for me to identify on "reasonable" equipment, even on decent computer speakers (which are not really that good).

Still, it makes no sense to lose information unless storage is at a premium, like on an iPod or equivalent.


Trimbach Riesling

That's a good one. I like Alsatian wines; sadly the exchange rate has not been helpful.


I'm crazy about Alsatian wines, but now for homemade pizza and bargain basement Chianti.

Again, thanks to everyone for their input. I'm so confused now that I probably won't do anything. :-(



I don't believe anyone is proposing "more of the same" - I certainly don't interpret that as being McCrystal's position.

I agree with Cecil: the decision Obama's choking on is the decision to implement the COIN strategy he supposedly approved in March.

McCrystal is Obama's hand-picked commander for Afghanistan. McCrystal's recommendation came through Central Command, David Petraeus commanding. If COIN is the mission, these are the guys a President should be relying on, not "Generals" Biden & Kerry.

Obama's dithering because he's presently unwilling to follow through with COIN.

hit and run

but I think the picture speaks for itself, Hit. Everyone else is saluting, either a full salute or hand over heart, not Obie, he is giving the crotch salute.

When you linked your pic,did you think yourself and/or intend to have others think that Obama stood with the crotch salute throughout the entire playing of the national anthem?

Because if the picture "speaks for itself",isn't that what one is left to think?

Sara (Pal2Pal)


Via Vanderleun:

It probably works like this. Every morning when Obama rises he takes a deep and refreshing hot coffee high-colonic. During this meditative phase of his day he thinks,

"Let's see... how can I show my contempt for America in a manner not previously thought possible? Last week I was giving the American flag my trademarked "crotch salute."** A day or so ago I was bending over for the Emperor of Japan. Humm, what's left? I know, I'll put on the biggest mass murderer of the 20th century's signature jacket for my photo-op. And some lip gloss! And pantyhose!Fuck yeah![Fist pump]"


I'm so confused now that I probably won't do anything. :-(

Can your computer read the older disks? If so, just copy them onto newer media. That would be the cheap way out.


"Most mp3s are 128kbps ..."

Sometimes called "broadcast quality", IOW adequate for most everyday applications.

Perhaps a good ear can hear the difference knowing what to listen for.

At 192k or higher a difference you can hear that is "subtle" may just mean they don't sound quite the same. In a blind test where the mp3 and the wav are randomly assigned to two different brand stereo systems with comparable quality but different "sound" ....
bet your ears can't do much better than 50%.


"think that Obama stood with the crotch salute throughout the entire playing of the national anthem?"

"he again shows his disrepect for America with a crotch salute:"

I can't find anywhere in my military experience where the crotch salute is called for, when others are rending a proper salute.
The fact that the Admiral is standing to the right of the President does not, IMO, prove that the two photes came from the same event.


At 192k or higher a difference you can hear that is "subtle" may just mean they don't sound quite the same.


Your thought experiment has nothing to do with real double-blind blind experiments. But I'd bet I could easily tell the difference between 128kbps and the original. At 256kbps or better? Probably not.

But that's beside the point. If one can tell the difference between the original and the mp3, there is a quality loss. Why argue that it is not important? Why not preserve the initial information? Are you really arguing that it is better to save a hundred or two dollars on disk drives, when one is recording $10K worth of music? Is that what you are saying? Really?

If not, what are you claiming?


that's what i've been doing lately--playing them on my computer. but this read problem has occurred with some very new disks, too. it does sound like mp3 is the solution.

Jim Rhoads a/k/a vjnjagvet

Remember teh Once's salute in Dover last week? Apparently someone clued him in since Memorial Day that he is CIC and is permitted to hand salute.

I also see he gave the crotch salute in that AP picture with him in his Mao suit.


I give up. The ability to read a disk is different than the format in which it is stored.


I don't believe anyone is proposing "more of the same" - I certainly don't interpret that as being McCrystal's position.


McCrystal is Obama's hand-picked commander for Afghanistan. McCrystal's recommendation came through Central Command, David Petraeus commanding.

BD57, I specified what I mean by "more of the same." By that I mean that the plan is to apply the "lessons learned in Iraq." My point is that those lessons, while arguably good for Iraq--I don't think our involvement in Iraq is a closed book yet, by any means--may not do the trick in Afghanistan. I start getting antsy when I hear people talking about a hundred year war. I'm totally on board with the idea of resisting radical islam, but I want to do it the smart way: without busting the budget, for example. I understand all about domestic versus military spending, but don't kid yourself that these wars have not been expensive. I think we have to find a way to be more efficient and definitely to get more bang for our buck.


I understood what you were saying, DrJ. My impression was that simply "copying the disks onto newer media" would mean in the same file format. Sorry if that was obtuse. I take it that they have to be written in a new format, like mp3?


No doubt this is one reason Obama likes to travel: 10%+ Unemployment Through 2015. Think about that: a two term president with 10%+ unemployment through both terms--how likely is that in this day and age?


"Your thought experiment has nothing to do with real double-blind blind experiments."

Really? My experiment is double blind and further requires determination beyond a difference between two decent but different stereo systems.

If you can't tell which system has the mp3 because the difference between systems swamps the "subtle" difference between 192k and wav ....

That is exactly the point of my thought experiment. I do not claim no information is discarded, only claim it's imperceptible for most people and smaller than the expected differences in sound between two different brands of decent stereo equipment.


anduril, you can write in whatever format you want if you have the right software: wav, mp3, ogg, flac, aac -- whatever.

My thought was that that you might just have some bad CDs (or at least ones your existing CD has some trouble with), and copying them to a new CD might resolve the problem. Might work, might not...

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