Saturday, December 31, 2005

A letter to the Townhall editor

Michelle Malkin has compiled a Top Ten list of Blog Highlights for 2005. I couldn't help but comment about her number two pick (via LaShawn Barber's site) a rather acerbic scorning of the blogosphere by Townhall columnist Kathleen Parker. Allow me to address Ms. Parker directly:


First off Ms. Parker, wow. What happened? You seem to be loathe to about 99 percent of the blogosphere, and generally don't like the other 1 percent. Allow me to offer my opinion of your opinion.

You said you were wary of power untempered by restraint and accountability of the citizen journalist. Valid criticisms, let me tell you where I'm coming from. I'm not pretending to be a journalist. I have a day (night and sometimes weekend) job. This blog is nothing more than a fancy outlet to express views and comments about the events of the world as I see them. Mistakes made can be corrected, if not by me then by readers who care to take the time. This is not necessarily true with the MSM.

As to blogger truth-telling vs. tale-toting, my dad told me to "never believe most anything you read, only half of what you hear and a quarter of what you see". That's an old saying described many ways, but you get the point. It doesn't just apply to blogs. The person who coined the phrase would surely laugh at your description of the media as "overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right." Consider some historical perspective:
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers. ~Thomas Jefferson
I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers. ~Gandhi
If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim." ~Lyndon B. Johnson
So unfortunately, despite the high standards tens of thousands of others strive to uphold each day without recognition, people still manage to screw it up. The results of an MSM screwup are much worse than anything a blogger can do. As you said, there are millions of blogs and most aren't widely read, including this one. But remember, fact checking is good...fact checking is good. There is not yet a copyright on the near-pathological allegiance of getting it right.

You end by saying, "we can't silence them, but for civilization's sake - and the integrity of information by which we all live or die - we can and should ignore them". By all means let the browser beware, but there's nothing wrong with the browser browsing. During the dawn of the republic it was pamphlets that provided a similar freedom, we've simply graduated to electronic versions. Simply look at bloggers as modern "letters to the editor" without the censorship, and celebrate the diversity of opinion they allow. If you have an issue with a blogger, go to the site and post a comment. Everyone can read it.

I still agree with your opinion on many things and consider you an excellent writer, and if I may be so direct, a rather handsome woman. But on this one you're wrong. Good day.



Happy New Year all, and thanks for visiting this ego-gratifying baby-bloggie bereft of adult supervision.

Home on the range

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The WaPo devoted quite a lot of type to this story about President Bush clearing brush on his Crawford Ranch. It's clear the Post writers either do not understand the theraputic value of such things or are trying to get one more "all hat no cattle" prod in before the ball drops. Note to left--of course he's a fake cowboy, just like I'm a fake golfer. You don't expect him to operate a working ranch while president, do you?

The article uses the "O" word--Obsessive--giving the impression that Bush is running amok chain sawing anything not moving. Au contraire, obsession just means he's the same as the rest of us men, who spend every free minute pursuing hobbies if we can get away with it. Bill Clinton spent half his second term on the golf course.

Anyway, I can think of no more deserving person than a president for an occasional retreat to regroup the soul away from the DC fishbowl. And I can definitely relate to a "home on the range"-- I'm getting mine as soon as the lottery proceeds arrive.

"The Scarlet D"

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"I am a Drunk Driver". Those lovely letters will be emblazoned on your bright orange highway trash collecting wardrobe if you're a first-time DUI offender in Tennessee in 2006:
On Jan. 1, a new law takes effect that requires first-time DUI offenders to pick up highway litter for 24 hours while wearing an orange vest that says in 4-inch letters: "I am a DRUNK DRIVER."
Is this really a good idea? A Commercial Appeal editorial from today's edition adds more.

New Year's Eve is obviously a perfect time to speak about the ills of drunk driving. Drunks behind the wheel can hit anyone, but I particularly worry about my kids. All three will be on the roads today, the oldest is driving I-40 heading back to port as I type this. The worry never stops.

But diluting the previous law requiring a 48 hour jail stay in favor of embarassing people seems like a step backwards. Tennessee MADD was pushing for even tougher penalties, but the existing law of mandatory pokey for 48 hours seemed pretty harsh to me. Stats say that 75 percent of first time TN offenders don't repeat, better than the national average. Why tinker when tinkering might lower that average?

Other than the bureaucratic headaches this will create for each Sheriff's office across the state, do we really want the police blotter posted on people's backs? Many people already show no sense of shame and might consider these first offense punishments as "gimmies".

There's also the possibility of being wrongfully accused. Imagine someone walking the freeways picking up litter being forced to wear a shirt that said "Child Abuser" because someone reported them for spanking little Johnny at the mall? Or some poor slob wearing a "sexual offender" shirt because an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend wanted revenge and fabricated a crime. In those instances, will the Governor be forced to pick up trash wearing an orange vest saying, "I wrongfully shamed a citizen"?


As an aside, the CA editorial primarily touched on Methamphetamine. My first encounter with the side-effects of this concoction came a few weeks ago when I visited my corner Walgreens to pick up some Advil Cold and Sinus. It's been awhile since I've purchased cold meds, so imagine my surprise discovering the familiar carton was now a nearly one-dimensional piece of cardboard I had to take to the pharmacy counter to purchase. Like buying expensive electronics at Office Depot.

You can tell I'm out of touch, but further shock and amazement occurred when the pharmacy clerk asked for picture ID and made me sign a register. He tried to not look at me as a would-be criminal as I asked him what the devil was going on, but he failed. Guess my last few years of health made me a suspect.

Here's the irony. In that same store I could've just as easily purchased a six-pack without showing ID or signing a register, guzzled it in the parking lot and driven into a DUI crash on the way home.

UPDATE 1/17/06

The Tennessean has an update and seems to share the concern.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The power vested in him

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Presidential authority. Isn't that what all the sensational stories and the ensuing political division are really all about?

President Bush has said he's operating within the allowable power vested in him to stop attacks, and his chosen tactics are much more effective if the enemy doesn't know them. In a nutshell, this is most likely why he appealed to the two big newspapers to bury the NSA story.

This is a good read (despite the liberal slant) and lays out the issues we face in fighting this uncoventional war. How far can the president go in using extraordinary measures to fulfull his duties under Article II of the Constitution? Since the Constitution never imagined WMDs, should it be amended to reflect our modern threats? Unchecked presidential power was a concern to the founders, and in a seemingly open-ended conflict such as the GWoT, allowing a president expanded powers might de facto make them permanent.

Fine, but when is a public debate proper? I can't imagine Roosevelt encouraging a national debate in 1944 about whether we should build and drop the bomb. Did the Times leak the Manhattan Project before the Indianapolis was loaded and sailing? Fast forward to today, Bin Laden and Zawahiri are still running loose, and Saddam has yet to see the noose. Bush clearly believes we are still at war and still under great threat. Many others have come to characterize it on less urgent terms, which as the president points out can be quite dangerous. I don't believe it's time for a public debate yet.

One more thing to point out. The WaPo article is an example of a vague conventional wisdom that the GWoT only began when the towers fell. As an example, the article didn't mention the history of the CIA's fight against Bin Laden, which began in 1995 with the terrorist rendition program (CIA airlines). Terrorist torture occurred during that operation, but was enacted by foreign governments.

One has to guess that any mention of such history would take away from the ongoing merriment of the Bush bash along with illustrating how utterly ineffectual Clinton-era programs were. It might also condemn the MSM itself for not playing up the threat as strongly as it deserved and their double standard in terms of outrage level. Starting history around 2001 is much more convenient.

But they aren't alone in their amnesia. The 9/11 Commission also seemed to take the view that the roots of the attack were not worth exploring back past the late 90s, since they largely ignored the first attack in 1993 and its connection to the second, and took a laissez faire attitude regarding terrorist funding at large.


Macsmind has many details of the question of whether these leakers are patriotic whistleblowers or sleazy seditionists.

Folks keep wondering about why Bush didn't stick with normal FISA protocol. Here's what we know about the timing of the special program:
A high-ranking intelligence official with firsthand knowledge said in an interview yesterday that Vice President Cheney, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, then a lieutenant general and director of the National Security Agency, briefed four key members of Congress about the NSA's new domestic surveillance on Oct. 25, 2001, and Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after Bush signed a highly classified directive that eliminated some restrictions on eavesdropping against U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

The first anthrax letters were received in early October. Bush ramped up the NSA program in October, more than a month after the 9/11 attacks and well after the Congressional authority to open a can of whoopass on AQ. Connection? You be the judge.

Lessons in Greek

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Mother Nature is sadistically helping us learn the Greek Alphabet. Tropical Storm Zeta has formed in the Atlantic, but is located in the middle of nowhere and threatens only shipping at this point.

Weird? Yes, but history shows that named storms have occurred during the winter before. Of course after Epsilon, anything seems possible. More meteorology here.


Zeta finally died, but not before setting a record for the longest lasting storm crossing a new year. The last time we came close was in 1955, when hurricane Alice greeted the new year.

Speaking of the mid 1950s, most of the high temperature records we set here in west Tennessee this past summer were originally recorded in the mid 50s. That period also featured higher than normal tropical activity. Think there's any correlation?

It's hammer time

Based on Bush's temperament after the NY Times leaked his secret NSA spy program, it should not be a shock to see this:
"We are opening an investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified materials related to the NSA," an official said on condition of anonymity.
It reminds me of Bugs Bunny's immortal quote, "of course you know, this means war", although not quite as funny.


It's all about whistleblowing, and oh by the way, the Plame leak was much more significant.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Did Bush really need to circumvent FISA?

That's what the smart guys over at the Counterterrorism Blog are asking. For the most part their answer has been a qualified no, since Bush has yet to provide a compelling reason he couldn't abide by the 72 hour "do it then ask" grace period.

I've taken a low-pro on this issue so far. I'm not a constitutional lawyer and cannot speculate with authority on its legality. However, as an average citizen it seems intuitive that a president should have such powers, even involving US citizens, with such a dynamic threat involving possible WMDs.

But their point is valid--why not just do it, then get permission 72 hours later from the FISA court? So much less mess to clean up later, as we're seeing now.

I'll take the liberty of speculating here. I see three possible reasons:
1. Bush is incompetent, as are his advisors.
2. Bush is a budding dictator, and this is what dictators do
3. Bush was targeting specific entities but had a need to keep the circle of knowledge as small as possible

Number one is implausible due to the blevy of lawyers and strategists surrounding the administration. They would likely have advised heavily against doing something risky if there was a sure-fire way to do it within existing law.

Two is there for humor, just in case you were wondering. Heil Bushitler!

Three is the only plausible choice I see. Consider Bush's unusual behavior after the story leaked, not to mention the fact he'd literally begged the NY Times to not print it, which we were told was unusual. Something was definitely afoot, but was it just political damage control? If that's all it was, then Bush deserves the heat he's getting and more.

But, if not damage control, incompetence or budding fascism it means Bush had other requirements to keep the circle tight, to the point of circumventing the court. Intelligence about another al-Qaeda attack that might be triggered by phone or email? Probably, that's the most likely reason. But perhaps we should not arbitrarily dismiss the picture below...

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"News" about Plamegate

Tell me how this story belongs on "top stories" section on Reuters:
HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Washington couple at the heart of the CIA leak investigation had their cover blown by their small son as they tried to sneak away on vacation on Thursday.

"My daddy's famous, my mommy's a secret spy," declared the 5-year-old of his parents, former diplomat Joe Wilson and retired CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Touching and all, but newsworthy? The only "news" here was that there wasn't any news. But, like the recent Time magazine picture of Valerie in her PJs in their "people who mattered" feature (was the pajamas thing some weird swipe at bloggers?) the MSM will continue to lionize this couple as great heroes, while largely ignoring real heroes fighting in the trenches of the war against terrorism.

Does Ford Junior really have a chance?

CNN is running a piece this morning quoting New York Senator Chuck Schumer as thinking Tennessee is "in play" for the democrats in the upcoming fall Congressional elections. The story also quotes Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University politics professor, as saying the conditions might be ripe.

What issues do these folks think will sway Tennesseans to change horses? Schumer lays out some democrat "meat and potato" issues he thinks will win the day:
"..Save Social Security. Fix prescription drugs. Energy independence," he said.
Well, people apparently wanted no part of tinkering with Social Security, Senator. And prescription drugs..didn't y'all fix that already? Energy independence. Uh, pardon me a moment..............Ok, I'm back. I didn't want to scare the cat with a sudden outburst of uproarious laughter. Tell me again Mr. Chuck about the democrats' commitment to find more domestic oil and gas, I really want to hear it!

All fluff. Here's the real meat and potato issue for the dems:
Democrats are staking a large measure of their future on public dissatisfaction with President Bush, highlighted by the recent battle over renewing the Patriot Act.
No highlighting about it, the policy from day one has been that the democrats "aren't Bush". That will be the strategy next year. And what, praytell, is the number one issue right now? Iraq. Therefore, running some equations I come up with a dem solution of hoping things never improve there, or just outright miserable failure.

However, when Harold Junior gets plugged into the above equation we get a system error. Junior has taken many stances contrary to the Schumer quotient, perhaps on purpose, therefore his status goes more into the outlier category. Perhaps that's why some of the political pundits are giving Mr. Ford a shot. Indeed, but it's one of those shots of an outside variety.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Between Iraq and a hard place

Joe Wilson, Abu Ghraib, CIA renditions, secret prisons, and now almost daily revelations about warrantless NSA surveillance must be taking a toll on the Bush administration. It's surprising more cabinet members haven't jumped ship, as happens normally, or just flat cracked up. It can't be the government salary keeping them around.

Another rogue wave was sent toward the Bush poop deck today. Jose Padilla's legal team wants their case taken to the Supreme Court not just to clear their client, but to clarify Bush's wartime powers. In their brief they mentioned--yep, you probably guessed it--the NSA spy story.

I don't know if Padilla was caught using the NSA program, but keep in mind he was unquestionably an al-Qaeda sympathiser and had been to training camps. Yet soon he might become a cause celebre for civil rights. Ironic, eh?

Actually, I'm in favor of taking this case to the Supremes for a different reason. Bush won't be in office forever, and God help us if Hillary becomes president and has this precedent in place with Bill sitting in the same building. It's going to be hard to define an end to the war on terror.

But it will be important and certainly interesting to see how this Padilla case plays out. If the Supremes rule that the administration can't transfer him to federal custody it would seem the government will be between a rock and a hard place. Their only option short of releasing Padilla would be to charge him with the dirty bomb plot, which would require calling star witnesses KSM and Zubaydah out of their secret prison cells to testify.

The alternative of releasing Padilla would be a PR nightmare because it would be seen as an admission he was held in a brig for three years for absolutely no reason.

Now, who said government jobs were easy? Stress balls for everyone!

MORE 12/28

Drudge is splashing this update, which appears to be a backdoor counter-attack by the administration. It certainly looks like they don't want the scenario above to unfold, doesn't it?

MORE 12/29

The WaPo lays it out for us. Notice the government's response to why they are charging Padilla with a lesser crime, "there is nothing remotely sinister about the government's effort to pursue criminal charges that minimize evidentiary complications,". The 'evidentiary complication' here is KSM.

Let me give the government the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there are no sinister reasons for the aversion of bringing KSM here other than the obvious ones. And, holding Padilla for three years as an enemy combatant might not be an abuse of the policy because he'll certainly go to jail for life anyway, and the dirty bomb threat was certainly directed toward home turf and was genuine.

OK, plausible, but I'm still wondering why we can't bring the mastermind of 9/11 onto our soil for a trial. Perhaps we will one day?

MORE 12/31

The AP is also wondering why more Bushies haven't "jumped ship". As usual David Gergen is johnny-on-the-spot with an explanation.


The Supremes have ruled the government CAN transfer Jose Padilla to federal custody from military custody. The judges said they would review the presidential powers appeal 'in due course'.

This appears to mean that material witnesses KSM and Zubaydah will remain in their secret CIA prisons indefinitely, while Padilla may soon be joining Yousef in the Supermax facility in Colorado.

Well, he was impeached

Imagine the shock of a liberal German reading this:
The CIA's controversial "rendition" program to have terror suspects captured and questioned on foreign soil was launched under US president Bill Clinton, a former US counterterrorism agent told a German newspaper. Michael Scheuer, a 22-year veteran of the CIA who resigned from the agency in 2004, told Thursday's issue of the newsweekly Die Zeit that the US administration had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system.
Memo to Agency France Press, this is not news. Perhaps we also need to notify these folks. Meanwhile, it takes an anonymous blogger 12 seconds to Google the information.

Based on the far left's clamor for impeaching Bush due to such stuff, and based on the above information, wonder if in hindsight those same folks think the republicans were correct to impeach Clinton in the 90s?

Hey Katrina scammers--the Feds are coming

Can't say this is a surprise. Nevertheless, it's heartening to discover the FBI is just as ticked off as the rest of us:
Forty-nine people have been indicted in a scam to pocket Red Cross hurricane relief funds and more indictments are expected, according to Justice Department officials.
Stories such as this could put a small dent in future disaster donations due to the trust issue, but also perhaps due to the confusion issue.

During Katrina the relief agencies were under great pressure to distribute help to the victims ASAP, especially after what the country witnessed on TV from New Orleans. Therefore, some agencies probably cut corners and rules to expedite the process. The Red Cross had set up a phone bank where 'victims' called and identified themselves as victims, whereupon the RC would wire them money via Western Union:
One Western Union store manager said an employee grew suspicious when the same person came in three times to collect money.
I do hope they found this woman. And if so, I've got a great sentence suggestion: Fashion her jail cell from one of the washed out mangled houses in the lower 9th Ward. Allow her occasional visits to the roof for a view of four or five yellow school buses full of supplies parked nearby. Would that be too harsh?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

FISA court's toughness led to NSA snooping

That's what today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer is saying:
A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.
Why would the FISA court block more requests from an administration battling post 9/11 terrorism?

The story continues:
To win a court-approved wiretap, the government must show "probable cause" that the target of the surveillance is a member of a foreign terrorist organization or foreign power and is engaged in activities that "may" involve a violation of criminal law.

Faced with that standard, Bamford said, the Bush administration had difficulty obtaining FISA court-approved wiretaps on dozens of people within the United States who were communicating with targeted al-Qaida suspects inside the United States.
Let's paint a scenario that AQ was involved in the Anthrax letter attacks. Bush would have been worried that more attacks were coming and the trigger was clearly within the USA. Bin Laden would also probably use 'lilly-whites' or other sleepers with no criminal histories, therefore it might be next to impossible to get a warrant to eavesdrop. Now, take that scenario and plug in "nukes" in place of anthrax and you might get the feel of a president's dilemma.
But since 2001, the judges have modified 179 of the 5,645 requests for court-ordered surveillance by the Bush administration. A total of 173 of those court-ordered "substantive modifications" took place in 2003 and 2004 -- the most recent years for which public records are available.
2003 is interesting since it was the year we invaded Iraq. Wonder which domestic persons they wanted to listen to, and wonder what they expected to hear? Saddam was not involved with AQ terrorism, so we've been told.

Certain righty political commentators, and you know who I'm talking about, think both the leaks and the FISA court judge's resignation were timed to help the democrats fight the upcoming confirmation battle on Samuel Alito. It is rather strange we subsequently got a story about Mr. Alito's thoughts regarding this subject when he worked for Reagan. I'm sure you'd all be shocked, shocked, if these stories were timed. I know I would.

A more serious question is whether the Bush administration, already rumored to be at war with the State Department and CIA, is also at war with the NSA. The source of this column, James Bamford, was the author of the book "The Puzzle Palace" and is not a part of the intelligence community. He provides a cryptic comment about how some at the NSA might feel about our current direction:
"NSA prides itself on learning the lessons of the 1970s and obeying the legal restrictions imposed by FISA," Bamford said. "Now it looks like we're going back to the bad old days again."
I'm not sure Bamford is being used as a mouthpiece for the NSA the same way Woodward was for Bush, but it's an interesting question.

But I find it amazing these leakers, all very intelligent people, apparently believe America is sufficiently out of danger enough to spill the beans about our counter-terror tactics. Surely they know better, which suggests the enemy they really fear is not overseas or in some American Mosque, rather it's the man occupying the big white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The great document quest continues

We've been following (makes it sound like I have a staff, but I don't) the saga of Daily Standard reporter Stephen Hayes's quest to get his hands on captured Iraqi government documents seized by the coalition after the fall of Baghdad. You may recall that some of those docs had amazing 'smoking gun' titles.

Shortly after Hayes' last column, Newsweek issued a retort of sorts, with a short column that poo-poo'ed the document quest and told us to move along, nothing to see. Thing is, Hayes talked to doc handlers, Newsweek talked to ubiqitous 'unidentified sources'.

In his latest column, a narrative entitled travels with Cheney, Hayes slipped in this paragraph:
That effort will likely include the release of documents and other materials captured in postwar Iraq. In recent weeks, senior Bush administration and intelligence officials have been discussing several plans to expedite the public release of those materials. According to officials familiar with their contents, the documents provide an unfiltered look inside a criminal regime that brutalized its own citizens, bought off numerous European politicians, and provided significant support to transregional terrorists.
Interesting preview of coming attractions.

It's not hard to imagine Rove being involved here in some way. Perhaps he suggested patience in releasing anything until enough congressional dems staked out anti-war positions. He's been known to use that suck-em-in then roast-em approach before. This could explain why a cunning Hillary never really took a decipherable position.

I'm not holding my breath about any WMD revelations, though. Unlike the ties to terrorists or other tangential items that might come out, the WMD issue is dead serious and perhaps still in play. That's why Bush has spent considerable time and defied conventional wisdom in his attempts to stop leaks about our monitoring of people who might be giving or taking orders in that department.

UPDATE 12/27

Powerline reports that Hayes will be a guest on the Hannity radio show Wednesday (the 28th). For those who can hardly stomach Sean, which I'm, he's on vacation and Scott Hennen will be guest-hosting and question-asking. Fortunately for those of us in the Mid South area, Mr. Hayes will appear during the 3:00pm CST hour, as 600 WREC-AM cuts the last hour of Hannity's show for the Mike Fleming program.

MORE 12/29

Well, I missed Hayes on the Hannity show yesterday. If anyone heard it and cares to share, I'd appreciate a brief email.

Otherwise, the caper continues. The Weekly Standard mentions that a cadre of Congressmen are now on board and demanding the docs. Negroponte is not excited about releasing them. Wonder why?

Could it be that Newsweek was correct, 'nothing to see here'? Doubtful, I'm sure there's plenty to see. Another Rove trick? Maybe, but I'm beginning to think not. It's more likely the documents do indeed show many smoking gun linkages, but also show other linkages the adminstration would rather not divulge, things having to do with realpolitik. Once the pandora's box has been opened, they all become fair game.

Business as usual

While America took time off for Christmas the war in Iraq continued. Other than visits from several coalition bigwigs to pump up troop morale, the legal team representing Saddam continued to produce propagag, I mean updates, on their case. The latest is so ridiculous it hardly warrants serious comment. Flippant or sarcastic will do just fine.

The Butcher's lawyers seem dead serious about their torture allegations and are calling for "an independent investigation". Will anyone actually believe that the few bruises Saddam might have are remotely comparible to Abu Ghraib-- and I mean this Abu Ghraib? I'm surprised his entire legal team hasn't been struck dead by lightning just for mentioning this nonsense. Come to think of it, Ramsey Clark was missing at the last two court sessions.

Anyway, they're laying groundwork for a claim of mental incompetency, ie, he's not capable of standing trial since he's a victim. Very American sounding defense, so maybe the Iraqis are progressing faster than we thought. Of course this condition will be blamed on torture policies of the Bush adminstration, which everyone knows to be true since that's what republicans do (when not busy roasting puppies and kittens).

Realistically, the mental incompetency due to torture fable clears up a few loose ends, like why his legal team recently allowed a goofy interview to the British tabloid "the Sun". It also nicely explains his wild-eyed courtroom antics and helps to further divide the divided American public.

But there should be no real discussion on whether this stunt might work. Saddam must die, period. For perspective consider whether Mussolini, Himmler, or Goebbels (or Hitler if caught) would have fared even a slim chance of wiggling off their hooks using legal stunts. Saddam wiggling off his would indicate something highly rotten in Denmark.

Think about it--we hold the prisoner, we set up the court, and we control the trial. If he avoids the noose it'll only be because we allowed it. And that is certainly ridiculous enough to not warrant further comment.


Saddam's whacked out half-brother is claiming America made him an offer he could refuse. Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti said that all he had to do was testify against Saddam and a high-ranking position in the new Iraqi government was his. U.S. officials did not comment and there was no indpendent confirmation from the Iraqis.

Assuming his story is true he basically had two options. Testify, get released and watch the insurgents cut him down pretty quick, or not testify. We can only figure he thought his chances were better sticking with Saddam. That means he's either incredibly loyal, incredibly stupid, or he knows something about his chances that we don't.

There are a few practical aspects of America making a deal with Barzan. One, a Ba'athist testifying against kin would have been powerful, probably locking up a quick conviction on the first charge along with an air of legitimacy. So far the testimony seems weak and too one-sided.

There are a few sinister possibilities, too. For example, a deal could signify we believe the evidence in the first case is too flimsy to win, and we really don't want subsequent crimes to be charged for fear Saddam's defense team would call messers Rumsfeld and Cheney to the stand. Just try to imagine the grandstanding from Saddam on that one. Still, it's hard to believe we'd ever have the need to make deals with the very people we fought a war over.


I know what you might be thinking, but that's actually S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. (there's a website for everything).

I'm talking about Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter. He jumped on a plane to Baghdad to have a word with the Chief Judge in the Saddam trial, essentially to tell him he's allowing Saddam to contol the trial. Specter, a former prosecutor, suggested they could at least hold the Butcher in contempt, or something. Someone should tell Specter the judge probably has a family and values his own skin.

Notice that Specter used the word "blusterbun". I can't find it in the dictionary, but it somehow seems to fit.


He's everywhere! Maybe he'll find time to get back to his important work on Able Danger.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

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Merry Christmas, all. Back Monday... Enjoy.

Traffic Alert!

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Thank you Mr. Secretary, may I have another..

Wonder how the left will spin this:

Yes, that's Donald Rumsfeld serving Christmas Dinner in Iraq. Good for him. Perhaps he's been taking some courses on servant leadership.

MORE 12/24

The above comment on servant leadership was not meant as a slap to the Secretary, just a plug for the concept. Austin Bay has a good perspective on Rumsfeld's Iraq trip here.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Ritter vs Hitchens ...who won?


See the comments section below or access the home page of this site.


Scott Ritter and Christopher Hitchens held a much-anticipated debate on the Iraq war in Tarrytown, NY a couple of nights ago. Everybody wants to know what happened, unfortunately nobody seems to know what happened. Ironically, searching Google for "Hitchens Ritter debate recap" returned my own story posted a month ago, advertising the event. Doh!

You might try this site..

They said the debate was a great success and promise to provide streaming audio "very soon".

UPDATE 1/1/06 (stays on top UFN)

For those seeking the debate transcripts or audio, I'll save you the trouble of paging down through the updates-- you won't find a link. Ironically, it seems reminiscent of a document search Scott Ritter might have undertaken with UNSCOM. Speaking of Ritter, wonder if he's also an Alpha Dog on the debate circuit?

And I'm also curious as to whether Scott explained his most recent predictions. Was he just a little off on his timing?


Still no transcript, but here's another side of the coin from Red Mist, who was in attendance and saw things a little differently than did The Yellow Dog.

ht Rigamarole

UPDATE 12/26

Information is trickling out, but only if you search for it. Check out this review from a self-admitted anti-war attendee. He tried to be fair, then gave it to Ritter hands down. From his narrative I can't tell.

No matter who 'won', it's hard to suppress a grin at the level of irony here--Ritter being supported by the anti-war left and Hitchens by the pro-war right.


The Yellow Dog Blogger was in attendance and posted this report. I think it's pretty clear how he feels about the war, and somehow that seemed to affect his choice of a winner. Here's a response to his points:
"Another confrontation with Saddam Hussein was inevitable," said Hitchens in defending the Iraq invasion. "Who should have determined the timing of that confrontation? Saddam Hussein? Or the U.S. and other democratic nations?"
That's not arguable. Saddam would have made sure of it..we were the ones keeping the sanctions on him.
When asked point-blank by the moderator whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq had the credible capability of harming the U.S. at the time of the invasion, Hitchens, who was in no position to challenge Ritter's expertise on the subject, stuck to vague GOP talking points.

"As long as Saddam Hussein was in power, it was not possible for the U.S. to ever relax," Hitchens said.
Nobody--Ritter, Blix, ISG, or anyone else has accounted for the destruction of the anthrax Saddam possessed. For Ritter, who personally witnessed the intransigence on the ground, to say Saddam posed no threat defies belief. Ritter quit in 1998 because he was disappointed with the US Government's lack of toughness in enforcing disarmament.
"The Iraq Survey Group, headed by David Kay, found [in post-invasion Iraq] that Iraq had destroyed the totality of its nuclear weapons program and confirmed what the CIA had already said about them having destroyed it as far back as the summer of 1991."
It's not only about nukes, Mr. Dog. Did Ritter mention Saddam's son-in-law?
Of course, like most people of a neoconservative bent arguing in favor of the Iraq war, Hitchens is snide about Ritter's military service while – and you just know this other shoe is going to drop – having never served in the military himself.
Ah, the ole chickenhawk neocon paint-ball shot to the head. Thing is, Hitchens is a liberal, sir. He's met Saddam and talked with weapons inspectors and others at length about Iraq in his journalistic career, not to mention backing the Clinton administration's regime change policy. But OK, if it floats your boat, he's one of them there neocons.
Hitchens even threw out that old neocon line about Muammar Khaddafi being frightened out of his wits by U.S. actions in Iraq and giving up his own weapons capability as a result -- at which point Diamond questioned whether Khaddafi's move wasn't actually the culmination of 10 to 12 years of negotiations with the Libyan dictator.
Surely the left is not trying to say Clinton disarmed Moammar? By the way, did Scott discuss how and where Libya acquired their yellowcake?
Near the end of the debate, Diamond asked Hitchens to explain the constant linking of Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda and September 11 by the Bush administration, despite no proof of any such linkage. Hitchens stunned the crowd by saying the following:

"I think you'll find that with the exception of one clumsy statement made by the vice president, there hasn't been any other statements made to that effect."
Hitchens is correct, Bush never publicly linked Saddam to 9/11. He did link him in vague ways to al Qaeda, because there were meetings between the two. For some reason that's always been a hard concept for the left to grasp.

I'm a little disappointed Mr. Ritter didn't ellaborate on why he seemed to switch sides in the late 90s, culminating with his role in a Saddam-funded movie about Iraq right before the coalition invaded. That's something I've never been able to fully understand, although I'm willing to try. Ritter may indeed be correct that we aren't being told everything about Iraq.

Hopefully soon we'll get that promised audio so everyone can decide for themelves.


Still can't find any transcripts nor audio. The Pensito Review covers the Yellow Dog blog review, but I found the comments section interesting if not predictable.

Poster 'Ci' made more rational points and was less vitriolic, but could not answer the question posed. In other words, despite the aura of possible blackmail due to his weird relationship with the former regime and the teenaged girl thing, Ritter was one of the few who correctly predicted the WMD outcome before the war. One could argue that if he was being blackmailed he'd have been tipped, which is possible, but for some reason I'm having a hard time thinking of Ritter as some kind of American version of Tariq Aziz.

La reconstrucción de New Orleans

The return of residents to the Crescent City has been slow. Who can blame them? Many don't want to risk taking their family back with a city still unprotected against even a category three hurricane. A Louisiana gambler would understand, since all scientific evidence points to continued hurricane hyper-activity in the Atlantic for awhile.

Although the residents might be dragging their feet, the workers are not. New Orleans is becoming a haven for illegal alien day workers. Jobs are plentiful and wages are high, and friends tell me a similar situation exists in the Rita-ravaged Lake Charles area. If you need to build it, they will come.

You might wonder how New Orleans Mayor Ray Naggin feels about this development:
Nagin caused a stir in October when he was quoted as asking business leaders how he could "make sure New Orleans is not overrun with Mexican workers," but on Wednesday he sounded a more conciliatory note in a news conference.

But the mayor's hands are tied. There is much more work than workers, and the illegals are eager to work. As to why out of work or under-employed Americans have not flocked to the scene to take part, the day workers have an opinion:
They point to the back of the parking lot where the only "gringos" in sight are sleeping on sheets of cardboard or sitting on wooden boxes, surrounded by empty beer cans and booze bottles.

"There are a lot of drunks here," said Delgado.

When asked where the American workers were, Del Rio shook his head and said, "Who knows? It just seems like the Latin race likes to work more."

And this, folks, is why no politician wants to fix the illegal immigration problem.


Regarding this.
LONDON, Dec. 22 -- Police ran down leads and the Royal Navy was on alert Thursday in the search for Toga, an 18-inch-tall baby penguin stolen from an Isle of Wight zoo Saturday night, creating a national soap opera rivaling Elton John's same-sex wedding for media coverage.

"We're all a bit ragged here, to say the least," said Kath Bright, manager of Amazon World Zoo Park, which has received nearly $13,000 in donations -- including $600 from the United States -- to offer as a reward for the safe return of the 9-pound South African jackass penguin.

The theft has been covered exhaustively in the British news media -- and by television stations as far away as Australia -- with airtime comparable to what Prime Minister Tony Blair's surprise visit to Iraq is receiving. Sky News, which had a grim-faced reporter live at Amazon World, showed photos of Toga throughout the day and urged anyone with information to call in.

They're right, I had no idea Blair was in Iraq. Anyway, penguin stories always remind me of this guy..

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Congress makes an effort on "the big one"

The map to your left is the projected 'quake force' expected if "the big one" hits the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Like Californians, Mid-southerners carry the fault in the backs of our minds, knowing a disaster of Biblical proportions awaits us sometime down the road complete with ground liquefaction, sand blows, rivers running backwards, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria.

A coalition of Congresspeople has formed to put pressure on federal agencies to get prepared for the eventuality of another massive earthquake on the NMSZ. FEMA will be getting involved in regional exercises in the next few years among other issues.

Two legendary quakes occurred in this zone during the early 19th century and are among the strongest ever in America. A similar event today could make Katrina look like a popcorn thunderstorm by comparison. Its effects would be far-reaching since as many as seven bridges spanning the Mississippi River might become disabled.

This coalition includes Harold Ford, Jr. of Memphis. Junior's family is currently involved in the dead voter dust-up involving his aunt Ophelia, but once again Junior appears to have the ability to rise above the fray.

Still, some back-spin might be required if we begin to notice the coalition isn't producing much towards preparedness or enhanced coordinated relief efforts. Like all government initiatives this one could turn into a useless CYA best suited to provide cover to legislators should the ball get dropped.

However, it's possible some useful things might get done. It's hard to imagine earthquake-affected constituents letting their representatives get away with finger pointing after Katrina, so it's in their best interests now to do everything possible to mitigate a future melt-down in their districts. And that's a good thing.

Regardless of how much Ford and the others do (and any sincere efforts are appreciated) the best plan is to develop your own plan. Construct a survival kit and have your own "get outa Dodge plan" mapped out.

"The Lion" executes his strategy

Saddam's sad and comical trial continued today, and there was no shortage of sound bites from the Butcher and his gang. As usual, press reports focused on those outbursts, effectively muting the testimony of the people who experienced the real torture.

Saddam's team continued with what is now a clear strategy of painting America (Bush) as the real lying torturers. This is an effort to manipulate headlines from left-leaning news outlets in the EU and USA. The strategy is meeting with some success. Take a look at the headline from CNN's story:
Hussein: 'The White House lies'
Couple that with the allegations from those same news sources about secret spying, torture, and well you get the picture. As to the actual testimony of the witnesses at the trial, the reader must page down to the end of both the Reuters and CNN/Fox/AP stories to find anything.

Those victims should have claimed they were also recently tortured at Abu Ghraib under the Coalition. Their accounts would have instantly risen to the top column.

Saddam made this comment, which I find interesting:
"The White House are liars," he told the court, where he and seven others, including his half-brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, stand accused of crimes against humanity. "They said Iraq had chemical weapons."

Uh, Mr. deposed President, did you forget something?

On second thought, we just released the two high valued scientists thought to be experts on that subject, whom we said we wouldn't. My bad, Saddam. No harm no foul, I guess?

Of course it will be interesting to see whether Saddam's "Bush lied, people died" rhetoric catches on here. Speaking of which, I saw no mention of Ramsey Clark at today's trial, and he wasn't there yesterday either.

Finally, at one point in the proceedings someone in the gallery laughed at Saddam, to which he turned, pointed his finger and stated:
"The lion does not care about a monkey laughing at him from a tree,"

Crazy? Like a fox.


Donald Sensing links us to an interview with some of Saddam's holy warriors--just for perspective..

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Luttig in the middle of another Bush setback

We've seen contempt and disdain over recent revelations about Bush adminstration counter-terrorism programs. The administration took another body blow today as a Court of Appeals featuring former Supreme Court top prospect Micheal Luttig ruled against Bush on the Jose Padilla case.

In short, the court said Padilla cannot be remanded from military custody to federal custody to expedite the government's terrorism case against him. Instead, the ruling forces the whole mess to the Supreme Court for review, unless of course the government wants to drop the charges.

Should the SCOTUS take the case and rule against Bush it could mean the government would be forced to choose between charging Padilla with the original enemy combatant crime, the dirty bomb, or outright release. Why? It all seems to hinge on the prosecution witnesses.

Charging Padilla with conspiracy in the dirty bomb plot would probably require the feds to produce their only prosecution witnesses, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah. For some reason the administration is loathe to drag these guys out of their secret CIA prison cells to an American court. Conspiracies start right here.

The alternative of releasing Padilla might be worse for Bush. Jose would fast become a poster child for the Bushitler left who would use his story to attack and further divide republicans going into the upcoming 2006 elections. If the democrats win back Congress he might even be a fantasy witness against Bush in their impeachment case.

Let's see what happens if the High Court rules against Bush. If the government turns Padilla loose it might be a signal that some of the WTC I+II theories have legs.

Hollywood Irony

Wonder if the Man of Constant Sorrow will respond to this?

HT Instapundit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Dead voter update

At last check the dead voters who cast ballots for Ophelia Ford in the Tennessee state special election are still dead. Too bad nobody witnessed them casting ballots or we might have made the Art Bell show.

For those not familiar, Ophelia Ford was running for former state Senator John Ford's seat, vacated due to his indictment in the Operation Tennessee Waltz sting earlier this year. And yes they are related- Ophelia is John's sister. They also have a famous brother, Harold Ford, Sr., who also has an indictment on his resume.

And wowzers, Ophelia also has a famous nephew named Harold Ford, Jr., currently in Congress and running for the U.S. Senate in next year's election. And you thought nepotism was only rampant in the Bush family.

So here's the national angle. The Senate is already close and it would be a coup for the democrats to pick up a seat from Tennessee. Furthermore, I believe the republican party fears Junior. He comes across as a moderate and rational democrat and has sympathized with president Bush on a number of War on Terror issues.

In the linked story you can read about how his pop Harold Sr. accused a republican poll worker of manufacturing the dead voter scandal as a way to tarnish Junior. Here's another one. While I'd have trouble believing either Harold Sr. or John if they told me the sky was blue, Junior is smarter. He's actually distancing himself from his dad's remarks.

Tennessee has racial divisions just like blue states (they just won't admit it) and it's no big secret that Junior needs enough white votes from middle and east Tennessee to get the Senate seat. That's a longshot, especially if those voters keep seeing his family members popping up on the news accusing everyone but the Pope of racism. If he's seen as "too Ford" he'll have chance number zip. But personally I wouldn't bet against him. With the Ford family, one never knows.

MORE 12/30

More updates on the dead Memphis voters story can be found at Fishkite, which has been all over this story from the beginning.

Germany releases a legacy terrorist

Many might remember the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 back in the mid 80s. It was among the last in a series of hijackings by Middle Eastern terrorists that started in the 70s, and featured the cold-blooded killing of a 23 year old Navy diver, Robert Stethem. The bastards dumped his body out the passenger door and onto the tarmac after murdering him. His memory has been honorably maintained.

Germany just secretly released the main instigator of the act, Mohammed Ali Hamadi. He's in the picture at the top in the middle talking to the press during the event. He was serving time in a German cell before being released.
One of the hijackers, Mohammed Homadi, was arrested two years later in Frankfurt, Germany. He was tried and convicted of Stethem's murder. He is serving a life sentence in Germany. On October 10, 2001, three of the alleged hijackers, Imad Mugniyah, Ali Atwa, and Hassan Izz-Al-Din were placed on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. Rewards of $25 million for information leading to their arrests and convictions are currently being offered by the United States.

I guess their life sentence included a release clause for the purposes of expedient political manueverings. America tried to extradite him but Germany steadfastly refused due to our death penalty possibility. Now he runs free along with his compatriots-in-crime.

There's widespread speculation Germany released him in exchange for the freeing of their kidnapped civilian in Iraq. Makes sense. Perhaps Merkel is showing her mushy constituents and allies her tough gameplan for the War on Terror--just let em go. If true it should also make us realize Hezbollah is still alive and kicking.

The black and white picture on the right sidebar is the Captain of TWA 847, John Testrake. He was a personal hero of mine, for a number of reasons. He's no longer with us, so we can only wonder how he might have reacted to the news.
He was a Christian, so part of me thinks he would have suggested we forgive the man and move on. Another part of me says he might have suggested strapping him to the tarmac at O'Hare during rush hour.

MORE 12/20

Maybe Merkel's not so bad after all:
"The US will make every effort to see that this individual faces justice in the US."

And we couldn't very do that while he was sitting in a German prison. We'll see. I tend to think there was a strategic reason for this release.

MORE 12/28
Captain Ed has the skinny on Germany's utter revulsion over their released hostage Susanne Osthoff desire to return to Iraq. Although most believe there was some kind of exchange, I've been a bit perplexed on how it transpired. Hamadi was a Shiite Hezbollah terrorist, and Osthoff was being held, we were told, by Sunni extremists. Unless there was some kind of three-way trade, I can't see that coming down. There's a chance the Germans paid cash for Osthoff and the release of Hamadi was coincidental, either way not a good start to the terror war business for Merkel.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Protecting America

President Bush has been a busy little media beaver of late. Since Wednesday he's had the MSM aghast on a daily basis as they breathlessly describe yet another 'rare media event', each time reacting as if the Wizard of Oz just lept out from behind the curtain.

One might opine this hectic schedule is just push-back politics based on recovering some political capital after the Iraqi election story was torpedoed by the secret NSA snoop leak and Patriot Act setback. Make no mistake his cord was yanked--and yanked hard, and he's fighting back.

So there was yet another shocking media event this morning, a press conference, where he tried to explain the NSA wiretaps:
"After Sept. 11, one question my administration had to answer was, how, using the authority I have, how do we effectively detect enemies hiding in our midst and prevent them from striking [us] again? We know that a two-minute phone conversation from someone linked to Al Qaeda here and to Al Qaeda overseas can cost millions of American lives," he added, saying some of the Sept. 11 hijackers made several phone calls overseas before the attacks.

The term "two-minute" was used to illustrate we can't always wait for a court order lest we miss that important 'go call'. That seems to back up my earlier claim that the NSA wiretaps are not random drops on international calls to Grandma in Milan, rather are focused against specific individuals suspected of being receivers of messages to push a button, light a fuse, or lick a stamp. The concept of such pre-positioned operators shouldn't be a stretch, since not long ago we had 19 pre-positioned hijackers here in our great melting pot.

The press and the left did make light of this little slip-up:
"In the late 1990s, our government was following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone and then the fact that we were following Osama bin Laden because he was using a certain type of telephone made it into the press as the result of a leak," Bush said.

"And guess what happened. Saddam ...Osama bin Laden changed his behavior. He began to change how he communicated. We're at war. And we must protect America's secrets."

We all know Bush is no stranger to sentence destruction, so caveat emptor on making much out of this. However, he certainly seems to have Saddam on the brain lately, with very little mention given to Usama bin Laden. Speaking of UBL ..where has that sucker been lately?

This post is quite long so for anyone still with me, thanks much, but let's pause for a brief recap. In the span of a few short days we've had an important vote in Iraq (a success by all accounts), the leaking of a secret NSA domestic eavesdropping program, a setback for the Patriot Act, Bush running amok in the media with a concerned and terse tone, Cheney making his first trip to Iraq, then Saddam allowing a strange interview to the same tabloid that earlier showed pictures of him in his underwear, an interview blessed by his lawyers only a few days shy of the resumption of his trial..for murder.

What could possibly be next? Well, today we got this:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Iraq are freeing "Dr Germ" and "Mrs Anthrax", two of Saddam Hussein's leading biological warfare experts, following the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, lawyers said on Monday.

That sounds like we threw someone a bone. Who? Why?

It always amazes me how Bush dodges the question of why it was correct to invade Iraq, even with no WMD stockpiles. Lately he's remarked he would have invaded anyway, even knowing what he knows now. Assuming for a minute he's not covering tracks or trying to plunge the country into a fascist dictatorship, just what does he 'know now' that makes him so resolute?

MORE 12/20

This article and this one are proof the war at home is escalating faster than the one abroad. Not surprisingly our port side warriors are displaying another case of collective amnesia, just like they did with Saddam.

It's certainly an interesting revelation that Bush called the Times brass into the Oval Office in a face-to-face attmpt to dissuade them from publishling the NSA story. In my view that seems to allow two scenarios:

1) Bush was desperately trying to save his fascist spy program from being revealed and himself from being impeached, or

2) Bush was holding some very nasty intelligence under his hat regards a looming threat and needed the NSA snoop program to monitor that much so he'd confide in a notoriously liberal newspaper already undergoing a thorough beating due to their pre-war Iraqi WMD reporting, which came from sources inside the Bush camp.

The backpeddling from Congresspeople and caterwauling from democrats about impeachment is as predictable as the sunrise. But things really don't add up about the conventional wisdom of this White House meeting. First, if Bush was any kind of respectable fascist he wouldn't have asked them, he'd have told them not to publish. Then maybe issued a few executive orders to back it up along with some muscle to enforce it. Geez, is Bush also an incompetent dictator, too?

Second, if this was just a spin attempt to get the paper off the story, it would seem an incredibly risky one. The adminstration knew a year ago that the Times had the scoop, yet they continued to ask for extensions to the program. That's nearly unimaginable, unless of course they were telling the truth.

Based on the above scenarios number two seems more likely to me, if nothing else due to the level of aggravation and concern from Bush of late. Now we hear that Vice President Cheney has cut short his worldwide tour and will return to DC immediately, reportedly to "be present should a tie vote occur in the Senate" on a budget bill. Uh, right-o.

There are no warm fuzzies emanating from scenario two. For some strange reason my mind goes back to Scooter Libby's cryptic letter to Judith Miller. If you recall, it was the one mentioning the 'roots of Aspens' and Miller's 'important work' covering stories about chemical and biological warfare. Apparently the Times brass didn't think as much of Miller's work as Libby did, since they canned her following her 'narrow testimony' about Libby.

But recall those same Times honchos apparently knew about Miller's other sources, the ones she apparently went to jail trying to protect.

Regardless of the above, the Times and many democrats appear giddy with the latest developments and are prepared to fire away with both barrels of their Snoopgate smoking guns. Have fun guys but just remember, smoking guns are hot and they can sometimes burn people.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Crazy, or crazy like a fox?

President Bush addressed the nation on TV tonight, openly discussing the controversial nature of the Iraq war and reminding us we only have two options--victory or defeat.

Meanwhile, the world renowned British tabloid "the Sun" recently nabbed an interview with Bush's nemisis. As you may recall, the Sun was the paper that published photos of Saddam in this whitey-tighteys (?) some time back. Do you remember what happened a short time later in the London Tubes?

Although his lawyers spoke for him, they allowed Saddam to come off as a crank in the article. Is he? Ramsey Clark was the mouthpiece, I'll let you make the call, but I can't imagine lawyers allowing something out if they didn't want it out.

Other than a hyped up version of his spider hole surrender and another boast that he's not afraid to die (just not in a spider hole), there was a humorous bit about Chirac still being a good friend. They also allowed him to admit he'd been actively running the insurgency before his capture. Maybe Ramsey Clark can ask him, "were you in charge of al-Zarqawi, too, Mr. deposed President?"

There is a method to the madness here, but somehow I'm having a hard time believing Saddam will cop the insanity plea. The trial starts again this week. Buckle up.

HT Drudge.


CNN is now reporting Saddam has decided to show up in court tomorrow. How cordial of him. He must be planning to catch up on all the shouting and cussing he missed by boycotting the last session:
"The Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will appear in court as usual, proud and vigorous," al-Najdawi told the AP.

Technically his presence in the court room is not required, but no show = no TV time. Speaking of no-shows:
He said an American lawyer, Curtis Doebbler, was also expected to attend Wednesday's hearing on behalf of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark.


A "more passive" Saddam was involved in this farcical interchange in court today as he continued his plan of grandstanding away all the headlines from the victims:
Saddam also interrupted al-Haidari's testimony to ask the judge if the court could take a break for prayer. Although the witness agreed, the judge ordered the trial to continue. About 10 minutes later, Saddam swung to the left, closed his eyes and repeatedly bowed his head in prayer, the first time he has done that in court.

"Even if any of you doesn't pray, the constitution of the state, be it the one signed by Saddam Hussein or the constitution that was dictated to the Iraqis by the American adviser, states that Islam is the religion of the state. I alerted you twice that it was time for prayers, but you ignored me."

"I didn't ignore you," the judge responded.

"How can you put God on hold?" Saddam asked

Saddam, you might be able to ask Him yourself real soon.

Solving the Puzzle of the Puzzle Palace Story

Since I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, or a regular lawyer, or even someone who knows a lot about the law, I don't have much to say about whether Bush is right or wrong on the NSA spygate thing. I'd be a lot more uncomfortable with it if certain entities weren't still trying to annihilate us. Have we forgotten again?

Anyway, of course Bush should work within the Constitution at all times. There is one possible exception--if as Commander-in-Chief he sees a dire threat to the very existence of the republic, a sensitive threat that might only be avoided with his specific action. Both Lincoln and FDR took matters into their own hands and tiptoed around our sacred document, and the republic survived intact.

Bush was unusually terse in his Saturday radio address. You could see it, hear it and feel it. He hates leaks, but this one has really set him off. Clearly someone from either his administration, the NSA or Congress dumped the story in Risen's lap.

Therefore, waving the speculation wand one might immediately assume a democrat Congressional source spilled the beans. The evidence is upfront, since democrat Congresspeople were aware of the program and the story was timed to coincide with two very important votes-- one in Iraq and another in the US Senate to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Both are considered Bush 'crucials'.

One thing doesn't add up, though--the leak was over a year old. That seems to move the implication arrow to the Gray Lady (unless it was a coordinated attack?). Don't forget Risen will soon be shilling a book, so the Times has to keep up with the Joneses on that front, or in this case the Woodwards.

Speaking of the New York Times, it's ironic that during the whole Fitzgerald/Plame leak affair the paper of record was sitting on yet another leak story, one with much more impact on national security. Judith Miller went to jail to protect her sources in the Plame leak, wonder if Risen will do likewise, since by all appearances the White House is loaded for bear on this.

But I've gone clear around the world to get down the block here, so let me cut towards the chase. Could there be any other reason Bush was so upset with the Times and the leakers? Something that goes beyond partisan mudslinging and feigned Congressional indignance and is actually something deadly serious?

Perhaps Bush knew exactly who he was targeting, and used the NSA because he didn't want to take chances with FISA courts or the possibility of publicity...targeted individuals who were American citizens, naturalized or otherwise, that we knew had connections to overseas terror bosses. People waiting by the phone for the word "go!".

Say, did they ever catch that Anthrax killer?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Baluchistan is trouble for Ahmadinejad

LGF has the story about Iranian president Ahmadinejad's motorcade coming under fire in rural Baluchistan province of Iran. A driver was killed and another wounded, both bodyguards. Some speculate the target was probably Ahmadinejad himself.

This is an interesting area. In Laurie Mylroie's book "The War Against America" she chronicled the forgotten history of Baluchistan, and postulated they sided with Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. They are largely Sunni Muslim.

Baluchistan was also the home country of two notorious figures in the War on Terror, Ramzi Yousef and his reputed Uncle KSM, World Trade Center bomber/conspirators numbers one and two.

I'll admit to once harboring thoughts that Iran was in bed with elements of al Qaeda, but now I'm not so sure. The Counterterrorism Blog has an excellent report on this topic, featuring a 1995 interview with AQ number two Ayman al-Zawahiri in which he seems to debunk the Iran-AQ connection and suggests the Iranians are basically Shiite dogs who like to fabricate their support for Islamic fundamentalism. That seems to offer one plausible explanation for Ahmadinejad's recent crackpot rhetoric and the alleged attempt on his life down there.

"I see dead voters"

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Local blogs (and bloggers with roots in these parts) have extensively covered the Ophelia Ford "I see dead voters" caper.

I can't add much except to say that my own anecdotal observations would suggest we're seeing Ford family bidness as usual. But since I deal with mainly national issues here I'd like to place it in that light. Where is the outrage from the left?

The conventional wisdom from our port side friends is that Bush skullduggeryied his way into the presidency in 2000, with a few beleiving he did likewise in 2004. If their outrage was really about voting irregularities you'd think these election purists would be all over this story. Instead we hear crickets, just like with the East St. Louis story.

With the sanctity of the vote so critical, you'd also think the left would be hopping for joy over the recent Iraqi elections that featured a turnout we haven't seen here in years. I'll characterize their reaction so far as 'muted joy'.

Hopefully this election will be overturned and the dead folks will be cleared off the rolls. If the legislature orders a new election perhaps we can enlist Jimmy Carter and a few Europeans to come and act as monitors.

hat tip Bill Hobbs.

The Swiss finally take a stand

Standing up to the U.S., that is. Seems Bern has some heartburn over CIA rendition flights that traversed their airspace. They've lodged a complaint.

This is the same country that skated through World War II claiming neutrality while the Germans ran roughshod all over Europe.

We know they've had armies in the past because they made special knives. But Switzerland does indeed field an army today. As a matter of fact they demand military service from all males at age 19.

You may ask, though Switzerland is not a party to NATO, are they contributing any of their 400,000 conscripts in support of the war on terror? Well, sort of. According to this fact sheet they had four troops serving with the Coalition in Afghanistan as of 2004.

Still, it's hard to hate the Swiss. People always seem willing to cut them slack. I think it has something to do with the beauty of their nation and their people. Perhaps they just need to be careful about getting too upset with other countries that aren't neutral, especially the ones doing the dirty work in the trenches so they don't have to.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The White Gene

Researchers say they've found a tiny DNA mutation that resulted in the first white person. The scientific community then engaged in their typical fantasy speculation session to explain everything.

Let me see if I can follow. One baby was born with the mutated gene and came out white. Other than the utter shock of the mother, this baby then grew up and became "a prized sexual conquest" or thereabouts, rather than a Darwinian freak to be shunned. Can the biologists out there tell us whether the first white person's sexual orientation makes a difference?

It would be an understatement to say the first little white kid wouldn't have fit in on the prehistoric playground. They must have celebrated diversity more back then, as obviously the child had to grow up and mate with a dark skinned person in order to carry on the white race. Let's see, am I missing something there?

Following the successful mating, which produced only white babies, these prehistoric WASPS began moving north, presumably because the UV rays in the tropics were giving them a nasty burn. They got really bitter being ostracized in the frozen north and retaliated by forming Mongol and Barbarian hordes that later attacked the tropical people. Somewhere in there they also developed Vodka and the wheel, unless the wheel came out of Mesopotamia. Oh my, were Adam and Eve black? Hey, this speculation stuff is fun!

Investing in bad news

The daily dose of gloom and doom is certainly nothing new. The News business can't survive on feel-good stories alone, it just doesn't appeal to human nature. But it's one thing to sensationalize an airplane crash, it's quite another to purposely make what should be good news appear bad.

In his latest NRO column Victor Davis Hanson suggests that Prozac and Xanax might have a piece of the mainstream news market. Hanson makes the point that Bush administration policies are hardly failing, despite what we're being told. The media has been successful to some degree--a recent survey said about a third of us don't think we can succeed in Iraq, and most of those thought Bush should be impeached.

I can only add one thing to his excellent column. It was reported during the last presidential election that most reporters in the trenches and in newsrooms voted democrat. This sets up an "I told you so" mentality that must be almost impossible to suppress. It's too easy for those voting for the losing candidate to become overly invested in the failure of the winner, to the point of seeing everything through a faded ideological lens.

MORE 12/16

We can easily segue from Mr. Hanson's characterization of the media into the plethora of stories they've tried to sensationalize during the length of the War on Terror, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo prisoner detainments, Jose Padilla and the definition of enemy combatants, the rendition and secret prison programs, and now the NSA spy story.

Bush considers all of these actions as necessary to protect Americans during a serious time of threat to our nation. The MSM seems to consider all these actions as a pathway to fascism. That opinion is joined by most on the left who are cheering from the sidelines and calling for impeachment.

Reality check. Everyone saw 9/11 occur on television (which was intentional, making it impossible for the government to deny it and increasing the terror impact) yet many seem to have "moved on" and simply believe it was an isolated event, a tragedy. No folks, it was an attack.

The public's collective memory disappeared similarly after the first WTC attack in 1993. By the way, when is the last time you heard someone in the media admit the two attacks were connected? They were. These same terrorists are still lethal and are still at war with us, no matter what people believe Bush might be doing. Impeaching Bush or stopping the NSA from listening to international phone calls will not change their zeal to kill infidels.


Two wrongs don't make a right, but this chronology tends to place President Bush's recent actions regards CIA/NSA into context. Just imagine if Bush had taken the steps Roosevelt did during World War II. Roosevelt's idea was this--if the country is defeated our civil liberties won't matter anymore. He was prioritizing.

We can look back and argue that it was wrong, but presidents charged with defending the republic sometimes make unpopular judgment calls in support of that task. There is no difference today, just a different war.