Rednecks, babes and assorted unidentifiable specimens

Nate has assembled a pictorial menagerie of a few of the blogulars.

Mailvox: the art of the plausible

GN writes: Vox, your options, unfortunately, aren’t serious ones. This is a case of applying too much cold logic. But you ought to know that that has nothing to do with politics. There is NOTHING in the makeup of Congress, the media, or the American zeitgeist that will permit the Fortress America option. It’s been dismissed as the option of racist kooks, about one step up from secession. Option two is almost as implausible, for much the same reason. Remember, Bush needed a macguffin even to invade Iraq, all that WMD bs. This is not a man who’s been able to pick his targets. He’s taking what he can get. Politics is about choosing between the options that can be realistically executed.

Remember, as Sowell said, politics is the art of the plausible.

This may well be the case. Unfortunately, those are the only two options that I see as being viable. This wouldn’t be the first time that politics got in the way of rational decision-making. This tends to highlight why I am profoundly skeptical of success in Iraq. To paraphrase Eisenhower, doing nothing works better than taking what you can get nine times out of ten. This does not feel like one of those one-tenth time successes.

Iraqi Council head killed

BAGHDAD, May 17 — The president of the Iraqi Governing Council was killed early Monday in a huge explosion set off by a suicide bomber outside the headquarters of the U.S.-led occupation authority here.

I’m sure we’ll have more statements about how determined we are. I doubt the jihad will be particularly impressed, especially considering how they knocked off the Russian-installed Chechen president a few weeks ago.

The author, unrepentant

Mary Gentle writes: This is why, when I say that there are jokes in Rats and Gargoyles that only three people in the world will understand (and one of them is dead), this is not an apology. This is why, in Left to His Own Devices, the story of what is really going on is written in iambic pentameter and attributed to an Artificial Unconscious versifying as the 16th century playwright Kit Marlowe. You’re not smart enough to keep up? Get over it. Get used to it. Get up off your ass! I don’t care if you have to try hard — try harder.

I like this lady. GOLDEN WITCHBREED was quite good, while I thought GRUNTS was carrying what should have been a short story on too far, but this wonderful manifesto of contemptuous authorial self-justification definitely encourages me to check out her other books.

Mailvox: Women can cut it

TK writes: Vox,Big fan — read your column every week. This week, man, you’re just wrong. As a ten-year veteran of the Marine Corps (a grunt and a veteran of the first Gulf War), I don’t know where you came up with the notion that “it’s been clear for years that women cannot measure up to the physical requirements of military duty.”If that were the case, then the whole controversy could be solved by requiring all military personnel to take the same Physical Fitness Tests and discharging anyone, male or female, who didn’t pass them.

TK is correct, the controversy could be easily solved that way. And it would be solved by eliminating nearly every woman from the military, if the old Physical Fitness Tests were used. There’s a reason that they were modified and special female versions were developed, after all. As the Center For Military Readiness reported, the tests were modified as part of the Gender Integrated Basic Training program instituted in 1994, involving: “Re-defined or lowered standards, gender-normed scores, and elimination of physically demanding exercises so that women will succeed.”

A few women would pass, the vast majority would wash out. I’d be delighted with TK’s solution, but the champions of women in the military would go ballistic in opposition – that should be all anyone needs to know in order to determine the truth of the matter.

I think I’ll skip Troy

I was pretty psyched to see this cinematic version of the Iliad. But Briseis kills Agammemnon? Are you kidding me? No Cassandra? No Patroclus? A sensitive Achilles, fine, but one in love with his battle booty? I don’t think so.

The arrogance of film directors is simply incredible. You’d think they would have learned something from the massive success of The Lord of the Rings and The Passion of the Christ: stick to the story as closely as you can and you will be hugely rewarded. I mean, face it, directors, if you were really storytellers, you’d be writing novels, you wouldn’t be directing movies.

I watched the making of Van Helsing one afternoon, and Space Bunny and I were cracking up at the ludicrous concept. How on Earth do you manage to go wrong with Dracula, a huge budget and Kate Beckinsale? There are so many great stories out there, and all a filmmaker has to do is embrace and execute the vision of the writer and he’ll likely be very successful. Never have so many been so richly rewarded for so little.

Are conservatives waking up?

Diana West writes on Townhall: When the White House promised to punish the murderers who sawed off Nicholas Berg’s head, a spokesman said the crime “showed the true nature of the enemies of freedom.” Wrong. Or, rather, not wrong, but vague, and perilously so. It’s not every enemy of freedom who shouts, “Allahu akbar (God is great)!” while committing murder in front of a video camera….pulling the political veil over the face of the enemy is not just a fashionable nod to political correctness. Failing to unmask the brutal face of modern jihad is a possibly suicidal lapse of logic and nerve that has dangerously obscured the wider war on “terror” — which, of course, is the euphemism of choice for Islamic jihad.

I have been arguing for a while now that George Bush is a poor commander-in-chief; while I was initially vilified for saying so, it’s interesting to see how Republican champions of the administration are beginning to have their doubts about the competence of those responsible for the war effort. The rumors now beginning to float of an early pull-out by the occupying coalition are probably nothing more than just that, rumors, and certainly it would be very surprising to see a president admit a mistake of this magnitude in an election year.

There are also some signals that the war is going to be significantly expanded after November 4th. The rumblings of a draft, the three giant bases being constructed in Iraq and Debka’s reports that Germany, Russia and the UK have already signed off on the plan for the next stage – whatever that is. Perhaps the administration has finally woken up to the fact that the jihad will expand as long as the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia are funding it. The recent onslaught of jihadist activity in Thailand, of all places, proves this.

The biggest blunder the administration has made is not the cynical decision to pretend to engage in nation-building while laying the groundwork for the next stage, (if that is indeed the case), but in foolishly attempting to deceive the American people about the nature of the enemy and the scope of the war. There is no answer that will lead to peace as much as we might want it.

There are two choices. Retreat to Fortress America, root out the jihadist disease within, get serious about the borders and hope that the jihad will burn itself out as it has before. Alternatively, strike at its heart, then systematically pursue the limbs. Both are real options, and there are serious risks to American rights and liberties on both paths – given the Law of Unintended Consequences, the first path is probably safer, if less emotionally satisfying. Unfortunately, the current administration lacked the resolve to pursue either, and so appears to be caught in a trap of its own making.

Even more unfortunately, the other major party has an even lower capacity for dealing with the challenge. But it would be nice if at least one leader in either party would be willing to address the situation honestly.