Saturday, January 21, 2006

Beyond Vista

CNET News reports Vienna, once labeled Blackcomb, is the new code name for the successor to Vista. It is not clear when Vienna might ship or what features it might contain. Microsoft confirmed the name change on Friday, but declined to comment on Vienna's stage of development. "The 'Blackcomb' code name has been changed to 'Vienna,' but we do not have any other details to share on timing or focus," Microsoft said in a statement to CNET "This does not reflect a big change for us; we have used city code names in the past, which are derived from cities/locations in the world known for great 'vistas'--the kinds of places we all want to see, experience and that capture the imagination.

True, but when they were released they got mundane names like ME, XP, or some numbers. But now you are using up hte Vista name by putting it on a final release product.
Vienna fits with this concept." The code name for Windows XP was Whistler, a Canadian ski resort. Blackcomb was also a ski resort, while Longhorn (Vista's code name) came from the Longhorn Saloon, which was about halfway between Whistler and Blackcomb.
It sounds like Microsoft developers are spending too much time skiing, and not enough time programming.
Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble first confirmed the new code name in a posting to the company's Channel 9 developer site. Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry said that Microsoft is looking to speed up the frequency of its Windows releases, but cautioned not to read too much into the name change.
If they could have delivered a product they would have, since they can't, they change the name of another one.
"It's just a morale thing," Cherry said. "The other names have been kicking around so long. It's much more about trying to keep focused and keep some excitement around where they are going."
I guess working on the new release is not exciting enough.
As for Vista, Microsoft is slated to ship it in the second half of this year, roughly five years after it shipped Windows XP. The Vista update promises to have better search, a new graphics engine and other improved features. However, there are several features that were pulled out of Vista
That they could not get to work.
that could conceivably become part of Vienna, most notably a new file storing mechanism known as WinFS.


Fox envy

Tim Goodman wrote in San Francisco Chronicle These must be great days to work at Fox News. Not only does the 24-hour cable channel beat rival CNN like a sick, sad mule, but Roger Ailes is so deep in the heads of CNN's managers that every time they stumble over themselves in chaos -- which is often -- the chairman of Fox News looks like some kind of psyops genius.

Maybe he is. With ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS leaning so far to the left, he figured that a Fair and Balanced Network might sell, and it did.
If Ailes -- boo! -- isn't haunting the halls of CNN and driving CNN President Jonathan Klein batty with paranoia, then how else to explain Klein's relentlessly nonsensical decisions, which are driving CNN into the ground?
They are liberals.
... There's a sadness here. And it has nothing to do with CNN's inability to "counter" Fox News with a respectable progressive slate of contributors. CNN used to be a reliable source for national and international news.
Only if you just wanted a one sided, liberal, perspective on the news.
Now it mostly chases storms and tragedy -- and Fox.

For a long time now there has been this perception that Republicans watch Fox News
If that was true, Fox and CNN would be about equal in the ratings battle. But Fox wipes the floor with CNN. Independent and even Democratic viewers watch Fox because it truly is Fair and Balanced. They know they will see the conservative side, which the others dont show, but they will see both sides of each issue, and be able to decide for themselves. Fox Reports, You Decide.
, Democrats watch CNN, and MSNBC picks up the undecideds. But that's simplistic. Though we may be heading, as a country, into an era where "news" channels will be defined by their ideology, godspeed to anyone left of center who can figure out what CNN wants to be.
A network not facing bankrupcy.


'Wash Post' Web Editor Explains

Editor and Publisher reports Jim Brady, executive editor of The Washington Post's Web site, who took down a popular reader blog Thursday after it overflowed with harsh messages about Ombudsman Deborah Howell, said the blog would likely return in the future. But, he said the Web site would have to find some better screening technology to filter out obscenities.

I don't think obscenities was the real problem.
"We got about 1,000 posts and at least 150 to 200 were using either profanity, hate speech or personal attacks," Brady said
Technically that is true, since they list three alternatives. The real truth is that 99% of them were personal attack by Left Wing Moonbats on Deborah Howell for daring to say that Abramoff money went to Democrats as well as Republicans. It does not matter that it is the truth. These Left Wing Moonbats are so desperate to blame everything on the Republicans that they hate anyone that says anything to detract from the story they want to be true.
about the responses to Howell's controversial column last Sunday, in which she stated that indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to both political parties, when most research shows he only gave directly to Republicans.
But much of the money he spread around were from Indian Tribes following instructions from Abramoff, and those orders included both Democrats and Republicans.
Brady said the comments forced his staff to spend hours time reviewing the responses and tossing out those that were unusable for the blog.
A good job for an intern.
"We don't allow profanity or name-calling and we need to figure out a way to keep it clean," he told E&P late Thursday. "It was a real burden.

"I don’t think there was much dialogue going and it is a little frustrating to be accused of not taking criticism when I think we did a good job of that," he said.

When Howell posted a follow-up note on the site today, saying she should have written that Abramoff "directed” money to both parties (in the Democrats' case, via Indian tribes), Brady said the responses to the blog returned at an even faster rate, with about 300 in a span of three to four hours. "We were taking a lot of them out again today, and it starts to wear on you,"
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can't stand criticism, ....
Brady said without noting how many pf the posts were deemed unfit. "The feeling is that until we get a more effective way to manage it, we wanted to shut it down."


Straight from Koran

Times Online reported Copies of the Koran were handed to the jurors in the Abu Hamza trial yesterday as his defence argued that some of the cleric’s “offensive” statements were drawn directly from Islam’s holy book.

I don't doubt it. There are several different translations of the Koran, but the one distributed by the Wahhabis in Saudia Arabia encourages hate and violence.
Edward Fitzgerald, QC, for the defence, said that Abu Hamza’s interpretation of the Koran was that it imposed an obligation on Muslims to do jihad and fight in the defence of their religion. He said that the Crown case against the former imam of Finsbury Park Mosque was “simplistic in the extreme”.
Which is why they need to kick these guys out of the country.
He added: “It is said he was preaching murder, but he was actually preaching from the Koran itself.”
He may have been doing both.
Mr Fitzgerald cited two verses of the book that Abu Hamza would rely on, among many others, as theological justification for the words that had led to him being charged. They were Chapter 2, verse 216
Let us look at those verses in three different translations, and see whether it is the translation, or whether the Qu'ran really does reflect hatred:
Qur'an Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.
Qur'an Translation by Marmaduke Pickthall: Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.
Qur'an Translation by Mohammad Habib Shakir: Fighting is enjoined on you, and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.
and Chapter 9, verse 111.
Qur'an Translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali: Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur'an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.
Qur'an Translation by Marmaduke Pickthall: Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.
Qur'an Translation by Mohammad Habib Shakir: Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah's way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement.
He said that all the great monotheistic religions had scriptures that contained “the language of blood and retribution”.

Abu Hamza’s remarks, which the prosecution alleges amount to an attempt to stir up racial hatred against the Jewish people, were, Mr Fitzgerald said, a reference to the Hadith — sayings of the Prophet Muhammad — in which fighting between Jews and Muslims is predicted.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Sen. Clinton calls for sanctions against Iran

The Daily Princetonian reports Sen. Clinton calls for sanctions against Iran

Hillary wants to be seen as a leader, so she is trying to run ahead of the pack so she can say "lets go this way" and pretend to be the one leading the way we are already going
'New vision and leadership' needed for U.S. policy in Mideast
The leadership we have is doing a very good job, certainly better than your husband did.
Repeatedly referring to a need for "new vision and leadership" in U.S. policy toward the Middle East, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) called Wednesday for United Nations sanctions against Iran and further global advances in women's rights, and urged optimism for a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
A peaceful resolution. Now why did no one else think of that. Exactly what do you propose.
"We cannot and should not — must not — permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons," Clinton said in a speech before a capacity crowd in Richardson Auditorium. "In order to prevent that from occurring, we must have more support vigorously and publicly expressed by China and Russia, and we must move as quickly as feasible for sanctions in the United Nations."
We knoww, and that is what we are pushing for.
Though never mentioning President Bush by name, Clinton strongly criticized the current administration's policy toward Iran. "I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations," Clinton said.
Make up your mind. When we go it alone, you say we are unilateralists, and that we should pursue a multilaterial solution, and when we pursue a multilateral solution you say we should go it alone.


Comments turned off wrote At its inception, the purpose of this blog was to open a dialogue about this site, the events of the day, the journalism of The Washington Post Company and other related issues. Among the things that we knew would be part of that discussion would be the news and opinion coming from the pages of The Washington Post and We knew a lot of that discussion would be critical in nature. And we were fine with that. Great journalism companies need feedback from readers to stay sharp.

We just prefer comments that agree with us.
But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we've decided not to allow comments for the time being.
Use of profanity and hate speach clearly should not be allowed, but that can easily be handled by having comment moderation, or assigning an intern to watch the blog and delete such comments. As far as personal attacks is concerned, that depends on what you mean. If the attacks are related to what you wrote, and just say this proves you are xxxxx, they may be ok.
It's a shame that it's come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it's a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.

We're not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it. Any thoughtful feedback on that (or any other issue) is welcome, and you can send it to
If you are not going to provide open comments or a trackback feature, then it no longer is a blog.
UPDATE, 7pm: As you might expect, we're getting a ton of e-mail on this, and while I can't answer those e-mails individually, I'll address the two main points being made, that 1) we're afraid of being criticized
This is the main reason
and, 2) that were no personal attacks, profanity or hate speech in any of the comments.

On the first point, has done an awful lot to be as transparent as possible. We've started a ton of blogs, we've linked out to bloggers who are writing (often negatively) about Post content and we've made journalists from The Post and available to answer questions online on a daily basis. So I find it hard to make a case that we're unwilling to be criticized. What we're not willing to do is allow the comments area to turn into a place where it's OK to unleash vicious, name-calling attacks on anyone, whether they are Post reporters, public figures or other commenters. And that's exactly what was happening. That leads into the second complaint. The reason that people were not routinely seeing the problematic posts I mentioned were that we were trying to remove them as fast as we could in order to preserve the reasoned arguments many others were making. We removed hundreds of these posts over the past few days, and it was becoming a significant burden on us to try and keep the comments area free of profanity and name-calling. So we eventually chose to turn off comments until we can come up with a better way to handle situations like this, where we have a significant amount of people who refuse to abide by the rules we set out.

Pamela aka "Atlas" blogged What drove the leftards to eat their own?

In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper's staff could not "keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff," and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of

heh. Poetic Justice......Yakkity Yak, don't talk Jack We center right bloggers can instruct the Washington Post on how to deal with infestations, we deal with it everyday.

LeftWing AmericaBlog blogged But an initial look at the deleted comments, all of which are conveniently archived by Democratic Underground, doesn't show a lot of hate speech or profanity. The only swear word I could find, for example, was "bullshit." And while some of the criticism is harsh, to be sure - hey, you're the ombudsman, get used to it - actually, some of it is rather hysterical.... The Washington Post is treading into dangerous territory here with regards to its reputation with an entire generation of pundits, opinion-makers, and readers.
Joe Liberman has seen what the Democrats can do when one of their own speaks his own mind and does not follow the day's talking points. The rabid left similarly does not like it when a newspaper they feel is in their pocket happens to tell the truth about Democrats.
It's one thing for our president to try to skew the facts and stifle debate, it's quite another for what used to be one of the nation's greatest newspapers to start showing the same immature anti-intellectual qualities.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Offers Truce

Breitbart reported Al-Jazeera aired an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, saying al-Qaida is making preparations for attacks in the United States but offering a truce to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. The voice on the tape said heightened security measures in the United States are not the reason there have been no attacks there since the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackings.

Of course they were not the reason. And if you believe that, I have some swamp land to sell you in Florida.
Instead, the reason is "because there are operations that need preparations,
I.E. we need to figure out how to get around the heightened security measures. And until we do, we will continue to attack in Europe and Asia, where there are much weaker targets that are easier to hit.
and you will see them," he said. "Based on what I have said, it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land," he said. "We do not mind offering you a truce that is fair and long-term. ... So we can build Iraq and Afghanistan
Into training camps from which we can launch attacks.
... there is no shame in this solution because it prevents wasting of billions of dollars ... to merchants of war." The speaker did not give conditions for a truce in the excerpts aired by the Arab broadcaster.
I would be willing to bet that the conditions for the troops is you can't let the Americans try to find us, and you have to let us set our training camps back up.

Stop the ACLU blogged a truce? Or more like “TIME”….need a breather…..I picture OBL making the “timeout” motion……announcer: “and OBL calls a timeout but it doesn’t look as if Cheneys Devil Dogs are gonna honor that request as another predator is launched armed with a hellfire”

Michelle Malkin has a LOT of links on this topic

Strata Sphere blogged And Bin Laden may want to surrender. The dems are going to look back on 2006 as the year they screwed up royally. Is it any surprise Bin Laden is listing Iraq and Afghanistan as the places he is willing to rebuid under the truce? They just happen to be the two democratically governed allies of the US. Al Qaeda may have just vindicated Bush’s efforts over the years to establish democracies and turn the tide in the region. If Al Qaeda has recognized these two states in this manner, the Clarkes, Wilsons, Kerrys, Kennedys, Pelosis, Rathers, NYTimes, Deans, Daschles, Soroses, KOsKids, etc were all wrong. Dead wrong.


Diplomats Will Be Shifted to Hot Spots

WaPo reported Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East,

This is a fantastic idea, but I bet a lot of those soft State Department bureaucrats will quit. Which is a good idea, because they can be replaced by good people, and it is normally difficult, if not impossible, to replace career State Department bureaucrats.
Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed "transformational diplomacy".... As part of the change in priorities, Rice announced that diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples.
I bet that really ticked off a lot of the career bureaucrats.
Rice noted that the United States has nearly as many State Department personnel in Germany -- which has 82 million people -- as in India, with 1 billion people.
We have way too many military in Germany as well.
As a first step, 100 jobs in Europe and Washington will be immediately shifted to expanded embassies in countries such as India, China and Lebanon. Many of these diplomats had been scheduled to rotate into coveted posts in European capitals this summer, and the sudden change in assignment has caused some distress, State Department officials said.
"Some distress"; I bet they are yelling at the top of their lungs

Betsy blogged I bet it has caused "some distress." They thought they were going to be quaffing beer in Germany and now they have to decide if they truly want to move their families to Lebanon. I can relate. I wouldn't want to move there either. But then, I didn't sign up for work in the foreign service. As you read about the changes that Rice has planned, it's clear that she is shaping up to be one of the most important Secretaries of State as far as the impact that she will have had on the State Department.


Stop The ACLU To Intervene In ACLU Vs. NSA Case

We are joining investigative lawyer and blogger, Debbie Schlussel as the first intervening party in the ACLU Vs. NSA case. Join us, we are asking for as many as possible.

Read this and for more information read Debbie Schlussel and Michelle Malkin

This was a production of Stop The ACLU Blogburst. If you would like to join us, please email Jay at or Gribbit at You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll. Over 115 blogs already on-board.


Democrats Unveil Lobbying Curbs

WaPo reports .... Rather than limiting the value of a gift to $20, as House Republicans are considering, Democrats would prohibit all gifts from lobbyists.

That is fine with me, however I don't see a significant difference between the current $50 limit, the Republican proposal of $20, or the Democratic proposal of $0.
Democrats also take direct aim at some of the legislative practices that have become established in the past 10 years of Republican rule in Congress. They vowed to end the K Street Project, under which Republicans in Congress pressure lobbying organizations to hire only Republican staff members and contribute only to Republican candidates.
I don't see anything unethical about that. I can see why the Dems are ticked at it, and it is mean-spirited, but not unethical.
Lawmakers would have to publicly disclose negotiations over private-sector jobs,
That seems reasonable to me.
a proposal inspired by then-House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin's job talks in 2003 that led to his hiring as president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America in January 2005. Executive branch officials who are negotiating private-sector jobs would need approval from the independent Office of Governmental Ethics.

Under the Democrats' plan, House and Senate negotiators working out final versions of legislation would have to meet in open session, with all members of the conference committee -- not just Republicans -- having the opportunity to vote on amendments. Legislation would have to be posted publicly 24 hours before congressional consideration.
That is reasonable.
Democrats also proposed to crack down on no-bid contracting
While this may be good, they are taking a shot at the Executive Branch, and what they should be focusing on is ethical problems in the Legislative branch.
and to require that any person appointed to a position involving public safety "possess proven credentials."
That is not really an ethical problem, they just want to take another shot at the former FEMA leader.

At least the WaPo story gave some idea of what the Democratic plan includes. The NYT story just told about how they bad mouthed the Republicans, and tried to cover up the unethical way the Democrats launched their plan at the Library of Congress, whose regulations that say the facility should not to be used for political events


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Reform Time

An editorial on National Review Online urged It’s reform season in Washington, and high time too. But a mindless rush to be seen to be “doing something” about congressional ethics may not lead to any reforms worthy of the name. Some of the proposals being considered seem highly unlikely to be effective. Some are liberal policy ideas hitching a ride on the reform wagon. (Democrats, led by Barney Frank, have proposed some worthwhile reforms, but pretend that changing the budget rules to make it harder to cut taxes counts as an “ethics reform.” No thanks.)

I agree such "reforms" should be rejected, but rather than just removing them, it might be interesting to change the proposal to make it harder to RAISE taxes.
Congress should reject the spurious reforms and take up the real thing.

Tightening the gift ban, so that lobbyists can’t take members out to dinner, strikes us as a way to generate a lot of paperwork without doing much to fight corruption. Congressmen can’t be bought for a dinner.
I agree, and lowering the limit from $50 to $20 certainly does not make sense. If you are going to do anything with the gift ban, do it. I.E. ban all gifts.
An all-expense-paid trip to a glamorous locale is another matter. We were pleased to see Speaker Dennis Hastert come out for a ban on privately funded travel by congressmen Tuesday. Congressmen’s travel should be funded either by the taxpayers (for official trips) or themselves (for vacations). Some congressmen have expressed the worry that their colleagues will not take serious fact-finding trips abroad for fear that voters will resent the expense. But the vast majority of lobbyist-paid trips aren’t serious business: How many facts are really being found on the world’s golf courses? Voters will be able to tell which trips were worth their expense.
I complete agree with this.
Hastert made his remarks about private travel as Rep. David Dreier, the man he chose to devise ethics reforms, reported his preliminary results. Dreier noted that a ban on private travel was being considered. But many of the other reforms seem more cosmetic than substantial. Former members of the House have access to the House floor and gym; Dreier is considering cutting off that access for former members who lobby. That won’t do much to reduce their influence, and it won’t affect the vast majority of lobbyists. Banning former members and senior congressional staffers from lobbying within two years of leaving Congress is a reform that sounds good, but will have little bite. Existing “revolving door” restrictions have been easy to evade.

Dreier said that House Republicans are also considering eliminating the pension for any congressman convicted of a felony related to his official duties. We suspect that most people who hear about this proposal will have the same reactions we did: wondering why this is not already the rule, and wondering why congressmen should get a free pass on felonies they commit in their spare time.

We think that the campaign-finance rules should be looser, others that they should be tighter. Either way, there is no good reason for the political donations of Indian tribes to face less stringent regulations, as they do now. John McCain should be challenged to close this loophole. On the other hand, his proposal to require full disclosure about who’s paying for campaigns to affect public policy — including “grassroots” campaigns — looks worthwhile.
I had not heard about them, but that idea sounds good.
Finally, reformers in both parties should pick up two important reforms proposed by Congressman Frank. There should be disclosure of which congressmen, and which lobbyists, wanted which earmarked spending projects in budget bills. In many cases, the congressmen will be happy to boast about those projects to their voters. Pork gets some members reelected (and gets some meritorious legislation enacted). If the congressmen are not willing to stand up for the projects, on the other hand, they shouldn’t put the earmarks in.
My preference would be to outlaw all ear marks, but if we can't do that, then full disclosure is absolutely necessary.
And the length of the congressional work week should be extended. We know, we know: No man’s life or liberty is safe while the legislature is in session. But the current Tuesday-to-Thursday congressional schedule hasn’t exactly ushered in a golden age of laissez faire — and hasn’t made for improved deliberation or oversight, either.
I prefer the way they do it in Texas. The legislature meets for one six month's period every two years, unless called into special session by the Governor, and in special session they can only work on the item(s) the Governor listed in the call for the special session.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of worthwhile reforms; we haven’t even touched on the need for new limits on spending that would, among other things, reduce the corrupting potential of earmarks. As for the cosmetic reforms, they don’t seem positively harmful, and it wouldn’t be terrible if they ended up in a final package for political reasons. But they shouldn’t crowd out the genuine reforms, and it is those on which would-be reformers — including the Republican House members vying for leadership posts — should be judged.


Close to home

The Anchoress blogged Heather Wilhelm details how a church (non-tax-paying) is being taken to make room for tax revenues!

Since the Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo decision last summer, eminent domain has entered a new frontier. It’s not just grandma’s house we have to worry about. Now it’s God’s house, too. “I guess saving souls isn’t as important,” says Reverend Gildon, his voice wry, “as raking in money for politicians to spend.” The town of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, has plans to take Centennial Baptist — along with two other churches, several businesses, dozens of small homes, and a school — and replace them with a new “super center,” rumored to include a Home Depot.
I had not heard of this, but I am shocked.
It’s the kind of stuff that makes tax collectors salivate. It’s also the kind of project that brakes for no one, especially post-Kelo.
Kelo was a bad decision, and not just because it is now being used against churches. I said that when it first came out. I hope that it is reversed.
“I had no idea this could happen in America,” says Reverend Gildon, after spending Monday morning marching in the Sand Springs Martin Luther King Day parade.
A heavily-taxed, “social welfare” minded government is always going to be a more utilitarian, more “results oriented” sort of government - one that will undervalue those things which are not tangibly “useful” to either the lawmakers or to their perceptions of what “society” needs.

In such a world, what cannot be measured and exploited is perceived to be of dubious or narrow value. To utilitarians, a church that pays no taxes (even if it feeds and clothes and helps find employment for locals having some hard luck) is essentially a waste of good commercial space. A monastery, whether Buddhist or Christian, is nothing more than a greedy and exclusive landgrab that has no “public benefit.”
Another step toward trying to secularize the United States, like has already been done in Europe.


Proposed Ethics Changes

Boston Globe reported Among the proposals being seriously discussed:

Ban lawmakers from accepting any privately funded travel. Now, some lobbyists get around the prohibition on paying for lawmakers' travel by arranging trips through corporate sponsors.

According to First Read
But as Viq has reported before, not all GOP members are pleased with the prospect of a total ban on outside travel: "I applaud the Speaker and Chairman Dreier's efforts. However, many trips are truly educational, and I believe a complete ban on all private travel would be an overreaction that doesn't get to the root of the problem," said Rep. John Shadegg, who happens to be one of the three candidates for House majority leader.
If Congress feels that its members need to travel somewhere in support of heir committee duties, then the trip should be paid for out of committee funds, and it should be reported online.
Lower limits on the value of gifts lawmakers can accept. Now, they are permitted to accept individual gifts worth less than $50, with an annual limit of $100 in gifts per source. The proposal would lower the value of acceptable gifts to $20 and set an annual cap of $50 per source.
I don't object to this, but don't see it as absolutely necessary. If a congressman can be bought for $50, he can probably be bought for $20.
Ban former House members who have become lobbyists from entering the House gym or stepping onto the House floor.
Sounds fine to me.
Increase reporting requirements for "527" issue advocacy groups.
I support this completely. According to First Read
Roll Call notes that "growing Republican sentiment for using lobbying reform bills to clamp down on free-spending 527 groups" threaten "bipartisan accord" because of how Democrats have come to rely on the groups to help them compensate for their traditional disadvantage on hard money.
If the Democrats want to come out as opposing Ethics changes, that is their right.
The item I would like to see changed is banning all ear marks.


Firefox 2.0 alpha

PC Pro reported An alpha version of Firefox 2.0 should be released as a public beta next month. Although part of the long standing roadmap for the open source browser, the timetable was confirmed by the publication of the minutes of the staff meeting held earlier this month. While the team say that the alpha will not be feature complete, among the improvements slated to appear are better access to History and Bookmark pages, improvements to the tabbed browsing and other user interface enhancements.

I hope they have come up with a solution to the near 100% CPU utilization that the product has when it is refreshing RSS feeds.
The team also hopes to fully integrate RSS functionality so that adding feeds is a smoother process than the current rather hit or miss method. There also plans for enhanced security, blacklisting and anti-phishing measures to be fitted to the new version. However, no details of what they might be have been released yet.

The minutes note that this will be a 'big year' for Firefox with both version 2.0 due for release and version 3.0 already on the drawing board. They also know that Windows Vista is due later this year with Microsoft planning to release Internet Explorer 7.0 alongside it. Little is known about IE 7.0. It is known, however, to feature tabbed browsing and enhanced security, which have been the two biggest selling points for Firefox.
So I.E. will catch up on some features that have been available for a long time in Firefox. I wonder how many years it will take before I.E. implements the features Firefox will be including in 2.0 (much less 3.0)


New Orleans Mayor Apologizes

WaPo reported An avalanche of criticism, stoked by heated talk-radio rants, forced Mayor C. Ray Nagin to apologize Tuesday for declaring that God wants New Orleans to be a "chocolate city."

Too fattening.
Nagin, who is black, had said during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech that "this city will be an African American majority city. It's the way God wants it to be."
Has God been speaking to him personally?
He also said "God is mad at America" and "is sending hurricane after hurricane" because He disapproves of the United States invading Iraq "under false pretenses."
I do recall God destroying a city (actually two: Sodom & Gomorrah), but it was not because of war under false pretenses, but because of wiked behaviour. Perhaps he should consider what goes on during Mardi Gras
Nagin's remarks drew a furious reaction from white and black leaders, as well as residents, in New Orleans, prompting him to tell reporters Tuesday that the comments were "totally inappropriate."
Open mouth, insert foot.
The dustup is the latest in a series of controversies over remarks made by the mayor, a former cable television executive elected in 2002 without experience in elected office. Nagin was lambasted by Hispanic leaders last fall for asking a business group, during a speech, what he could do to prevent New Orleans from being "overrun by Mexican workers."
He also was criticized for saying shortly after Hurricane Katrina that 10,000 people had probably been killed in the city, and that there were rampant rapes and murders taking place at the Louisiana Superdome, where thousands had sought shelter after the storm. The actual death toll for the state was closer to 2,000, and journalists and law enforcement officials have criticized the initial reports of rapes and murders as grossly exaggerated. "I think he should speak less," Loyola University political analyst Ed Renwick said Tuesday. "He has a reputation of saying the first thing that comes into his head without thinking it through."
He is not the only politician that does that.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Nagin on Dayside

Musing Minds blogged Mayor Ray Nagin was on the phone with Dayside today. Present in the studio were Montel Williams, Juliette Huddy and Steve Doocy....

Williams: Mr. Mayor, it's Montel here. You know we know each other and I gotta make this comment, there's a lot of anger based on what you said yesterday, but let's stop for a second and remember that Hillary Rodham Clinton, the day before, called the entire Republican party a plantation. Okay? So, what we've now proven is that politicians sometimes shoot from the hip. I'll bet you Mayor Nagin would like to take some of those comments back and re-do them and say them exactly like he said them here.

Huddy: What did you say Mayor?

Nagin: Especially the God comment. If I could take anything back, that's what I would take back.

Pat Robertson would like to take back about what he said about God causing Sharon's stroke because he gave back Gaza. The reason is it cost him a $50 Million Christian Theme Park. What did your God comment cost you.
Doocy: So the comment that you made where you said that God was mad at the United States for invading Iraq, you would like a do-over on that?

Nagin: I would like to take those back because that was a private conversation that I had with a minister a few weeks ago and for some reason at the moment that came forth.
So your desire for a Do-Over is not because you regret what you said, but because it reminded you of a private conversation you had with a minister.


Dead Ends

NYT reports In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month. But virtually all of them,

The key word is virtually. Any policeman can tell you that not all leads are productive, but they must all be checked out, to see which ones will reveal the bad guys.
current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans. F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy
They were not checkout out every number involved in international calls, just those from known or suspected terrorists.
.... the torrent of tips led them to few potential terrorists inside the country they did not know of from other sources and diverted agents from counterterrorism work they viewed as more productive. "We'd chase a number, find it's a schoolteacher with no indication they've ever been involved in international terrorism - case closed,
Maybe you closed the case too soon. Remembers Sami Al-Arian. He taught at the University of South Florida
" said one former F.B.I. official, who was aware of the program and the data it generated for the bureau. "After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration." Intelligence officials disagree with any characterization of the program's results as modest, said Judith A. Emmel, a spokeswoman for the office of the director of national intelligence. Ms. Emmel cited a statement at a briefing last month by Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the country's second-ranking intelligence official and the director of the N.S.A. when the program was started. "I can say unequivocally that we have gotten information through this program that would not otherwise have been available,"
Considering failure to connect the dots on 9/11 meant two buildings and nearly 3,000 people were lost, I am happy to se they were getting some results.
General Hayden said. The White House and the F.B.I. declined to comment on the program or its results. The differing views of the value of the N.S.A.'s foray into intelligence-gathering in the United States may reflect both bureaucratic rivalry and a culture clash. The N.S.A., an intelligence agency, routinely collects huge amounts of data from across the globe that may yield only tiny nuggets of useful information; the F.B.I., while charged with fighting terrorism, retains the traditions of a law enforcement agency more focused on solving crimes.
Fighting terrorism like you fight crime is not the way to go. That is what Clinton tried, and while he may have gotten come convictions on the 93 attack on the buildings, the same group flew planes into them in 2001.
"It isn't at all surprising to me that people not accustomed to doing this would say, 'Boy, this is an awful lot of work to get a tiny bit of information,' " said Adm. Bobby R. Inman, a former N.S.A. director. "But the rejoinder to that is, Have you got anything better?"
And the answer is no.
.... Some of the officials said the eavesdropping program might have helped uncover people with ties to Al Qaeda in Albany; Portland, Ore.; and Minneapolis. Some of the activities involved recruitment, training or fund-raising.
All three are very good to discover. Did they think they were going to catch people boarding airplanes, and be able to prove they were going to fly them into buildings?
But, along with several British counterterrorism officials, some of the officials questioned assertions by the Bush administration that the program was the key to uncovering a plot to detonate fertilizer bombs in London in 2004. The F.B.I. and other law enforcement officials also expressed doubts about the importance of the program's role in another case named by administration officials as a success in the fight against terrorism, an aborted scheme to topple the Brooklyn Bridge with a blow torch. Some officials said that in both cases, they had already learned of the plans through interrogation of prisoners or other means.
But thanks to Senator McCain, it is going to be harder to get results through interrogation.
CQ blogged The FBI, however, apparently doesn't like the fact that this program is run outside of its control. Even the Times alludes throughout the article that the FBI actively seeks to minimize the benefits of the NSA program because they can't control it themselves. It's a continuation of the same cross-agency feuding that has always existed in the American intelligence community. The 9/11 Commission said that slapping an extra two layers of bureaucracy to the top would eliminate it, but as most of us pointed out, all it did was make intel that much harder to rise to the top.

The Volokh Conspiracy blogged This is an interesting story, although I'm not quite sure what to make of it. If the spying program led to the discovery of "a few terrorists," is the real story that the program only led to a few terrorists, or is it that the program successfully led to the discovery of terrorist cells inside the United States? The Times opts for the former, but it's not immediately obvious to me why they don't opt for the latter. Second, I'm a little bit skeptical of the sourcing for this article. Turf battles can create inter-agency friction, and a New York Times piece based on anonymous sources can provide excellent cover for fighting the battle over turf. I would want to know what kind of turf battles are going on within the government between the NSA and FBI before knowing how much to trust the views of anonymous FBI insiders about the work of the NSA. The story is helpful, and may be quite accurate, but I'm a bit cautious about this one.

GOP Bloggers blogged This is just part of the MSM campaign to impugn the manifestly successful (for whatever reason, unless you think Al Qaeda just took their ball and went home) efforts to prevent further attacks. When there is another attack, these same people will attack the government for its failure to prevent it. This amnesia exists on West 42nd Street, but polls indicate that most Americans don't share the Times's affliction.

The Moderate Voice blogged Which is the best approach? If nothing (that we in the public know of, of course) comes of this approach then some will argue it's a waste of time. If a tidbit comes that saves a large number of lives, it would be justified. But no matter what it doesn't sound as if the FBI is equipped to run down all of these infobits — and that this approach could prove to be a distraction. Of course, no one will know that is a fact unless something happens that in retrospect would have required a better allocation of FBI resources than checking out a schoolteacher who showed up in the big intelligence fishnet.


God is Mad at U.S.

Breitbart reported Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting. "Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day. "Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses.

I doubt God is upset at us for liberating Iraq from an oppressive dictator; if he sent the hurricanes to punish, it was to punish New Orleans for the debauchery, as he punished Sodom and Gomorrah.
But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves." Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again.
What would happen if a white politician referred to a city with a majority of black as a "chocolate" city?
Many of the city's black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina. "It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans -- the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans," the mayor said. "This city will be a majority African American city. It's the way God wants it to be.
What would happen if a white politician said God wanted a city to be a majority white city? If Mayor Nagin wants New Orleans to attract blacks, he should work to create jobs to attract them.
You can't have New Orleans no other way. It wouldn't be New Orleans."

Sister Toldjah blogged The question remains: when are people going to call Nagin to task for his comments regarding God and whether or not He is happy with America? Now I know some may think “Who cares? He’s a mayor - he doesn’t help set policy outside if his city and what he says doesn’t affect me one way or the other.” But the fact remains that he is a well-known mayor now thanks to his handling (or shall I say lack thereof) of pre and post Hurricane Katrina. Also, when will he be taken to task for calling for a “chocolate New Orleans”? Can you imagine a white mayor calling for a “vanilla [insert city name here]”? The howls of outrage would be heard around the world.

La Shawn Barber blogged I wonder if the wrath of the leftist media, the godless (and Democrats), and non-Bible-reading Christians (including bloggers) will rain down on New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin for that statement the way they do every time Pat Robertson (and Jerry Falwell) opens his mouth? If I were a betting woman, I’d wager they’ll give him a pass. How about you? I challenge all bloggers (and journalists) who criticized Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell for “divine retribution” statements to jump on New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin for making similar statements.

Betsy blogged Mayor Nagin strays into Pat Robertson territory with his claims to be able to intuit God's will. Apparently, God is mad at New Orleans because we're in Iraq and that's why he sent Katrina. And, it seems that God also has preferences on the racial make-up of cities. Who knew? Can you imagine if a white politician claimed to know that the Lord wanted a city to be majority white?


Vote on Alito Delayed

WaPo reported The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee reached an agreement yesterday evening to wait until next Tuesday to vote on the nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.... In the end, Specter and Frist essentially acknowledged the prerogative Democrats have under Senate rules to postpone any committee decision for one week. GOP leaders grumbled that Democrats had reneged on an earlier agreement about when the Alito vote would take place -- an agreement that Democrats denied ever existed.

The Democrats are so evil they will not keep any agreement. The Republicans need to understand that if they are going to make a deal where one side agrees to do something, in return for the other side doing something else, they need to see the Democrats keep their side of the deal first.
Betsy blogged No surprise here. The Democrats reneged on their deal for scheduling a vote on Alito this week. They probably won't gain anything by this one week delay unless some controversial decision comes down from the Court in the week of delay where O'Connor was the swing vote and if Alito would have voted differently. The delay is most likely a sop to the interest groups who are so upset that the Democrats somehow didn't do more to stop Alito. They are trying to deny Bush much of a victory lap to celebrate Alito's confirmation before the State of the Union.... Boy, who cares if the confirmation takes place one week or three days before the State of the Union? For that short term advantage, it was apparently worthwhile to go back on their deal.

The lesson here is not to make deals where the GOP gives up something in advance in anticpation of Democrats fulfilling their part of the deal later. How many times will the Dems have to pull the football away before the GOP understands this.

Sister Toldjah blogged
Yesterday, Mr. Leahy was not claiming that anything extraordinary had come up. The only explanation he has offered is that Democrats didn’t want to cut short their Martin Luther King Day holiday.
Yeah, like Senator Hillary “Plantation” Clinton.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Rice Again Rules Out 2008 White House Run

Breitbart reported Not even a vote of confidence from Laura Bush can change Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mind about running for president in 2008. Before leaving for Africa, the first lady predicted the United States soon would have a female president _ a Republican, and maybe even Rice.

If Condi won't run, maybe Laura should. Her polling numbers are better than Hillary's, and that would be a very interesting race - Two former First Lady's. And if Laura won, the country would not have to worry about the First Gentleman having sex with White House interns.


Iran issues stark warning on oil price

Guardian reported Iran stepped up its defiance of international pressure over its nuclear programme yesterday by warning of soaring oil prices if it is subjected to economic sanctions.

No one likes higher oil prices, but if the alternative is letting Iran get nuclear weapons, which they will immediately use to try to destroy Israel, triggering a major nuclear conflict which just may be Armageddon, as described in the Book of Revelation, I would think that higher oil prices would be preferable. Just don't let the United Nations set up another Oil for Food program.
As diplomats from the US, Europe, Russia, and China prepared to meet today in London to discuss referring Tehran to the UN security council, Iran's economy minister, Davoud Danesh-Jafari, said the country's position as the world's fourth-largest oil producer meant such action would have grave consequences.


91,700 abortions in city

New York Daily News reports For every 100 babies born in New York City, women had 74 abortions in 2004, according to newly released figures that reaffirm the city as the abortion capital of the country.

This is sad. A baby in the womb in New York has a 40% chance of being aborted.
And abortions for out-of-town women performed in the city increased from 57 to 70 out of every 1,000 between 1996 and 2004, a subtle yet noticeable trend that experts say may reflect growing hurdles against the procedure in more conservative parts of the country. The new Vital Statistics report released by the city Department of Health this month shows there were 124,100 live births, 11,700 spontaneous abortions and 91,700 induced abortions in the city in 2004. That means 40 out of 100 pregnancies in the city ended in a planned abortion - almost double the national average of 24 of 100 pregnancies in 2002,
Even a 24% chance of being killed by its mother, before seeing the light of day is terrible.
estimated by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a Manhattan-based nonprofit group that researches reproductive health issues.

The city's role as a haven for women seeking to end pregnancies may become more pronounced as other states continue to adopt more legal restrictions against abortions - such as laws requiring mandatory waiting periods (25 states), parental consent or notification for minors (35 states) and two visits before an abortion (six states).


Sunday, January 15, 2006

The origins of the Great War of 2007

Niall Ferguson wrote in Telegraph Are we living through the origins of the next world war? Certainly, it is easy to imagine how a future historian might deal with the next phase of events in the Middle East:

This is a VERY interesting article.
With every passing year after the turn of the century, the instability of the Gulf region grew. By the beginning of 2006, nearly all the combustible ingredients for a conflict - far bigger in its scale and scope than the wars of 1991 or 2003 - were in place.

The first underlying cause of the war was the increase in the region's relative importance as a source of petroleum. On the one hand, the rest of the world's oil reserves were being rapidly exhausted. On the other, the breakneck growth of the Asian economies had caused a huge surge in global demand for energy. It is hard to believe today, but for most of the 1990s the price of oil had averaged less than $20 a barrel.

A second precondition of war was demographic. While European fertility had fallen below the natural replacement rate in the 1970s, the decline in the Islamic world had been much slower. By the late 1990s the fertility rate in the eight Muslim countries to the south and east of the European Union was two and half times higher than the European figure.

This tendency was especially pronounced in Iran, where the social conservatism of the 1979 Revolution - which had lowered the age of marriage and prohibited contraception - combined with the high mortality of the Iran-Iraq War
September 1980 to August 1988
and the subsequent baby boom to produce, by the first decade of the new century, a quite extraordinary surplus of young men. More than two fifths of the population of Iran in 1995 had been aged 14 or younger. This was the generation that was ready to fight in 2007.

This not only gave Islamic societies a youthful energy that contrasted markedly with the slothful senescence of Europe. It also signified a profound shift in the balance of world population. In 1950, there had three times as many people in Britain as in Iran. By 1995, the population of Iran had overtaken that of Britain and was forecast to be 50 per cent higher by 2050.

Yet people in the West struggled to grasp the implications of this shift. Subliminally, they still thought of the Middle East as a region they could lord it over, as they had in the mid-20th century.

The third and perhaps most important precondition for war was cultural. Since 1979, not just Iran but the greater part of the Muslim world had been swept by a wave of religious fervour, the very opposite of the process of secularisation that was emptying Europe's churches.
He is certainly right. There is a wave of Secularism sweeping Europe. The Left, and groups like the ACLU would like to spread that to the US, but the Right opposes that effort.
Although few countries followed Iran down the road to full-blown theocracy, there was a transformation in politics everywhere. From Morocco to Pakistan, the feudal dynasties or military strongmen who had dominated Islamic politics since the 1950s came under intense pressure from religious radicals.

The ideological cocktail that produced 'Islamism' was as potent as either of the extreme ideologies the West had produced in the previous century, communism and fascism. Islamism was anti-Western, anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic. A seminal moment was the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intemperate attack on Israel in December 2005, when he called the Holocaust a 'myth'. The state of Israel was a 'disgraceful blot', he had previously declared, to be wiped 'off the map'.

Prior to 2007, the Islamists had seen no alternative but to wage war against their enemies by means of terrorism. From the Gaza to Manhattan, the hero of 2001 was the suicide bomber. Yet Ahmadinejad, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, craved a more serious weapon than strapped-on explosives. His decision to accelerate Iran's nuclear weapons programme was intended to give Iran the kind of power North Korea already wielded in East Asia: the power to defy the United States; the power to obliterate America's closest regional ally.
Or to be obliterated by America's closest regional ally.
Under different circumstances, it would not have been difficult to thwart Ahmadinejad's ambitions. The Israelis had shown themselves capable of pre-emptive air strikes against Iraq's nuclear facilities in 1981. Similar strikes against Iran's were urged on President Bush by neo-conservative commentators throughout 2006. The United States, they argued, was perfectly placed to carry out such strikes. It had the bases in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan. It had the intelligence proving Iran's contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But the President was advised by his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to opt instead for diplomacy.
Don't blame it all on Condi; the Left Wing Democrats push for diplomacy has hard or harder.
Not just European opinion but American opinion was strongly opposed to an attack on Iran. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 had been discredited by the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein had supposedly possessed and by the failure of the US-led coalition to quell a bloody insurgency.

Americans did not want to increase their military commitments overseas; they wanted to reduce them. Europeans did not want to hear that Iran was about to build its own WMD. Even if Ahmad-inejad had broadcast a nuclear test live on CNN, liberals would have said it was a CIA con-trick.

So history repeated itself. As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.
That just shows how limiting the UN is; perhaps we should have gone to Nato.
Only one man might have stiffened President Bush's resolve in the crisis: not Tony Blair, he had wrecked his domestic credibility over Iraq and was in any case on the point of retirement
You can tell this was printed in England; their press takes snide shots at Blair just like the MSM takes shots at Bush any time they can.
- Ariel Sharon. Yet he had been struck down by a stroke as the Iranian crisis came to a head. With Israel leaderless, Ahmadinejad had a free hand.

As in the 1930s, too, the West fell back on wishful thinking. Perhaps, some said, Ahmadinejad was only sabre-rattling because his domestic position was so weak. Perhaps his political rivals in the Iranian clergy were on the point of getting rid of him. In that case, the last thing the West should do was to take a tough line; that would only bolster Ahmadinejad by inflaming Iranian popular feeling. So in Washington and in London people crossed their fingers, hoping for the deus ex machina of a home-grown regime change in Teheran.

This gave the Iranians all the time they needed to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium at Natanz. The dream of nuclear non-proliferation, already interrupted by Israel, Pakistan and India, was definitively shattered. Now Teheran had a nuclear missile pointed at Tel-Aviv. And the new Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu had a missile pointed right back at Teheran.

The optimists argued that the Cuban Missile Crisis would replay itself in the Middle East. Both sides would threaten war - and then both sides would blink. That was Secretary Rice's hope - indeed, her prayer - as she shuttled between the capitals. But it was not to be.

The devastating nuclear exchange of August 2007 represented not only the failure of diplomacy, it marked the end of the oil age. Some even said it marked the twilight of the West. Certainly, that was one way of interpreting the subsequent spread of the conflict as Iraq's Shi'ite population overran the remaining American bases in their country and the Chinese threatened to intervene on the side of Teheran.

Yet the historian is bound to ask whether or not the true significance of the 2007-2011 war was to vindicate the Bush administration's original principle of pre-emption. For, if that principle had been adhered to in 2006, Iran's nuclear bid might have been thwarted at minimal cost. And the Great Gulf War might never have happened.

Niall Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University