Sunday, December 31, 2006

What next?

Saddam has now been shown his little corner of Hell but the sectarian hell in Iraq will surely continue unabated for awhile. There's a lot of discussion and commentary about what, if anything, the hanging signifies. Some believe it was meant to cement the fact within the hearts of Iraqis that the alpha monster is gone and will never return to terrorize them again. They can move on now.

Some believe it was sheer revenge by the Shia while others believe Bush pushed it ahead knowing full well it would fan sectarian flames and keep warfare broiling in the region indefinitely. This last option, as grisly as it sounds, should not be completely ruled out. It's common knowledge the US deliberately backed Saddam in the 80s to help drain his forces/treasury while keeping the Ayatollahs out of the rest of Arabia, a plan hatched by figures involved in the current crisis.

With that in mind it's only fair to wonder whether the overt hanging of a Sunni leader at the beginning of Eid, someone they knew would make anti-Persian, anti-Shia remarks before dropping down the hatch, might represent the real Baker/Hamilton "new way forward". Does anyone actually believe the official ISG report, available at your local bookstore in paperback, was the real advice given to Bush? Such things aren't usually discussed in public unless there's a reason.

Iran is every bit as much a threat today as in the 80s and will be worse with nukes. They've committed several more acts of war since the Beirut truck bombing and we've not been able to respond to any of them. Our generals are saying the war machine is not in good shape, but short of the Coalition there's no force available to stop the Persians should they decide to branch out. We certainly can't invade, nor can we maintain 140K combat troops in Iraq very much longer without a politically disastrous draft that neither side wants.

Perhaps the rather sudden demise of Saddam signals the way forward, a partial redeployment or force restructuring to key areas. Here are some possible talking points in support of that: The dictator is gone (ding dong) and the populace will not fear his return. There were/are no WMDs, and his last minute heroics will keep the sectarian flames fanned, making it harder for al-Sadr and company to run amok. Our fallen comrades did not die in vain and will be remembered for the elimination of one of the most vile creatures to ever breath air. We gave peace a chance.

It's distasteful to think of such things, but the American public might forget about a low level civil war in Iraq after awhile as long as it doesn't spread--it could turn into another Gaza. Our repositioned forces would provide less a rationale for terrorist attacks but leaving a rapid strike force would alleviate homeland fears. Blossoming democracies still sound the best and ultimately may hold the only real hope of a permanent draining of the swamp, but you go to nation-building with the resources you've got. Such a plan might also be something the new Democrat Congress could get their arms around.

EPILOGUE 12/31/06

The AP reminds us about our past sins this morning with a piece called "US Tolerated, then Vilified Saddam". Instead of "US" it should have said "Republicans". While not questioning the basic facts of their portrayal (they started with the Rummy handshake in the 80s then moved to the Gulf War and the obligatory cautionary Colin Powell quote, then moved directly to Bush 43). Not one word about President number 42.

But it's not a surprise. Ever since 9/11 when Bush first started talking about Saddam, and certainly since Operation Iraqi Freedom started leaking oil the Democrats and the MSM have tried to airbrush themselves out of Iraq's history.

LET'S GET IT STRAIGHT 1/1/07

Healing Iraq points out the discrepancy between the NY Times (and others) rendering of last minute statements versus "the cell phone guy". Saddam did not utter curses at America and Iran before going down the hatch, he was reciting Islamic verse. Imagine--some dude with a cell phone getting the story straighter than the world's most famous newspaper.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reaction to Saddam's demise

First, some personal thoughts.

Anyone familiar with the writing on this site knows I've long considered Saddam as more of an integral cog in the Global War on Terror than conventional wisdom would suggest. During the past year we've seen his barbarity on trial while the man himself attempted to shape the battle from jail, offering various self-serving missives designed to help his cause. In the end he was like a guilty sailor flashing the moon to his mates as he was forced to walk the plank--bitter and deluded right up until the hatch opened. No contrition, no remorse, the picture of a man heading for Hell.

It's clear the Bush administration tried to devalue his contributions to the chaos, choosing instead to prop up Zarqawi and AQ in Iraq rather than the Ba'athists. This became clear when Maliki's Shiite government came to power and prominently included Saddamists in their list of 41 most-wanted. Feel free to argue why this was done, but I don't believe there was malice intended. Whatever the case, all the cards are now on the table and we'll see the result.

To those who believed Saddam had some sort of self-protection option--some kind of final deterrent to stave off execution, it appears unlikely. If the US government had any intelligence towards that end the execution would never have proceeded. We'll see, of course, but apparently the threat was like so many other assumptions made about the man--more BS than reality. I'm happy to be wrong about that.

But enough about me. Reaction is from the web is predictable so I'll just throw out a couple out for posterity:

> Josh Marshall's site-- the hooded executioners brought back memories of Nick Berg.

> At HuffPo, an editorial makes a comparison to Christ, then proceeds to list all the reasons Saddam was no threat. Sorry, but this man is an idiot.

> Jeralyn Merritt, as usual, has a roundup of mainly negative reaction but with less moonbattery.

> Glenn Greenwald is still clueless that we're involved in a war.

And the message boards are sizzling as usual. Here's one example:
Saddams gone. Big deal
Others suggested it wasn't worth the loss of one troop.

But that screams for context. Let's go back to 1998 when bin Laden issued his famous death to all Americans Fatwa and offered support to Iraq. Clinton made several speeches, like this one and this one:
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else. The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.
Yeah, Clinton's gone. However, his talk (and we could include similar rhetoric from other dems) exemplifies the modern Bush-bashing leftist. Ask yourself who better fits the oft-used put down--"all hat, no cattle"? After 9/11 Bush took it seriously, which doesn't compute on some port sider CPUs.

Nobody believes Saddam's death will stop the violence, but if the Middle East is ever going to emerge as anything but a cesspool of terrorism then terrorist-supporting thugs like Hussein need to be shown the door. The little one.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Yes, no, maybe

Those wishing for neck-breaking news about Saddam might get their wish or they might not:
Officials indicated it seemed unlikely the former Iraqi president's sentence would be carried out before late January, despite a court statute that says executions must take place within 30 days after the sentence is confirmed.
Geez o' Pete. Of course, there's a possibility all of this is disinformation and Saddam is already dead or nearing the gallows, but it looks more like the Iraqis are having second thoughts. Maybe it was the Ba'athist threats, not only on the US but against Iran.

The frustration is showing a little on Bush and his team. During his Crawford press conference he put up his usual brave front, but his subordinates were a dour looking group of folks. I'd like to think there's a master plan in the hip pocket but their faces don't inspire such confidence.

Nobody should be surprised. In his book "America's Secret War" George Friedman (Stratfor) suggested the GWoT was being fought completely underground with both sides simply using the media to trade disinformation.

MORE 12/29/06

More uncertainty.

Meanwhile,
Two Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq were senior members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and had coordinated attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, the head of an Iranian opposition group said Thursday.
It still seems to me like some big, bad things are about to happen over there. Let's hope that's not the case.

MORE 12/29/06

The end of the road for Saddam is nigh, apparently. The Butcher has managed to attract sympathy from a few quarters, which happens every time an execution occurs. The New York Times editorializes against it, based apparently on the fact that things will not improve (as if they would improve if Saddam remained alive somewhere).

Their assertion that the trial was "flawed, politicized and divisive" is laughably specious. Let's take them one at a time. "Flawed"--most legal scholars involved said they followed international law. "Politicized"--Saddam and his minions can be solely blamed for that, disrupting the proceedings every chance they got. It wouldn't be surprising to one day learn they had their own lawyers murdered. "Divisive"--well, d'uh. Hardly avoidable.

My guess is that Times editors are right now working on stories that will suggest he was executed to keep former Reagan officials from being called to testify.

Speaking of conspiracies, this outa get 'em going:
If he is treated like other convicts, he could be hooded and dressed in green overalls with his hands bound behind his back
Depending on the video sequence we'll probably have a cottage industry of those claiming it was a dummy, and that Saddam was actually moved to a safe-house in Argentina.

FINAL HOUR 12/29/06

While I can see why some folks might not feel utter glee about the execution of a fellow "human being", even Saddam (me included), a sampling of comments from the lefty sites suggest it's more than that, perhaps a preemptive political strike to negate any poll bumps that might come from this. It's a hugely symbolic act, not only to the Middle East but to America. It sets the stage for the next phase of whatever Bush might decide to do in the region.

Now then, think back to the demonization of Saddam during the Clinton years. It will be interesting to see how those same people react now.

MORE 12/29/06

As Yosemite Sam might say, "So long, sucker".

Now we get to see the real influence of thugs like Izzat al-Duri, Raghad Hussein and the other Ba'athists in exile on Iraq's 41 most-wanted.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford and the war

How's that for a respectful pause? Watergate Bob Woodward just couldn't wait to spew Iraq war spittle all over the proceedings before the flag was even returned to full-mast.

The pundits will surely go over the interview ad nauseum, especially this comment:
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."
Yet in the opening paragraph Woodward claimed Ford said the Iraq war was "not justified". The quote above suggests he thought the "framing" was wrong, while Woodward is clearly suggesting Ford said the entire thing was wrong. Which was it? Can we see the transcript?

But OK, let's assume Ford was in the Skowcroft/Baker camp and thought Iraq was a mistake. Do we really need this brouhaha before the man is even laid to rest? Ford showed the ultimate respect for the office and for the nation by not interjecting himself or second-guessing the current president, unlike Clinton and Carter. Woodward is clearly trying to score book points off the story before it goes cold. It's pretty clear what kind of man Ford was by comparison.

As to context, Ford did offer a qualifier, "..said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time". I'd like to remind folks of what Andy Card recently said regards the ISG report:

"Referring to Mr. Bush’s secret intelligence briefings, Mr. Card said, “The president by definition knows more than any of those people who are serving on these panels.”

“The president’s obligations sometimes require him to be very lonely,” he said.

I'd like to vigorously agree with the former President on this comment regards engagement: "..unless it is directly related to our own national security." If I didn't think Iraq was part of the problem/solution, my opinions would trend more towards the left on this debate.

MORE from the Powerline guys, who question why Ford would want to give sanctions a chance after 10+ years of sanctions. There's a lot we don't know here.

MORE 12/29/06

Christopher Hitchens has no warm fuzzy for Gerald Ford. His story relating Ford's ill-fated attempt to support the Kurds against Saddam's new regime only to stab them in the back once the Shah made a ridiculous peace treaty with Baghdad is yet another event one could add to the list of old American mistakes in that region, mistakes that Bush might be trying to once and for all rectify.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The beginning of the beginning

Things aren't looking very good for the new Saladin, the great Butcher of Baghdad and presumptive leader of the pan-Arab world, at least on the surface. Unlike the hero in his farewell novel "Get Out, Damned One", his life has taken a somewhat different turn:
Abdel Amir said "Get Out, Damned One" describes an Arab leading an army that invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers, an apparent reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York by Islamic militants of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.
While the Shiites were preparing a special noose taken from the Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam's defense team wasted no time issuing a few proclamations from the boss. One seemed to direct Iraqis to forgive the invaders, but actually told Iraqis to unite and fight U.S. forces but not hold the 'peoples' of the invading countries at fault. Another came from his followers warning of severe consequences.

To most people this is a "what took them so long" moment, including many in Iraq. Others see a conspiracy, believing Bush is pressuring Maliki to finish off the Butcher before the Anfal gassing trial gets too far along, specifically before Saddam's lawyers can call Tariq Aziz to the stand:
"The Iraqi government wants to accelerate the execution process to avoid the testimony of Tariq Aziz," .
The inference is that Aziz might be holding cards related to the origin of Saddam's chemical weapons stockpiles, but why anyone would trust Tariq is beyond me.

Others believe the hanging of Saddam will provide much-needed closure for his victims and the country in general while sending a message to the meddlesome Saddamists to give up. I don't pretend to know for sure, but something tells me weird things are fixin' to happen in the region, if nothing else based on this:
The Baathists also issued a warning to Iran, which is regarded as a key supporter of Iraq's Shiite-led government.

The Baathists believe that the government and Iran are behind sectarian killings of Sunni Arabs.

The Baathists are asking Iran's "real leader" -- a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- "to be rational and study this matter and not to spill more Iraqi blood, because our retaliation will be in the heart of Iran and impact its leadership."
Exactly which side does that put them on?

The quiet man

One of the most unassuming presidents of modern times has passed--a man probably remembered more for his clumsiness or his hazardous golf game (actually he was a pretty good athlete) than for any accomplishments. But Gerald Ford was, by any measure, a great American, his lack of oratorical skills notwithstanding. Lost in the shuffle was a Jeffersonian view of government made popular some years later by Reagan:
A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
Somebody had to follow Nixon, surely the holy grail of "unenviable tasks". Being a teenager during the 70s I can still remember feeling ashamed during that period of time, which included the images of our choppers leaving Saigon a few years prior. We laughed at Chevy Chase's Saturday Night Live pratfalls because we needed to, the same way people today laugh at Stephen Colbert. The Utopian-minded of my generation largely believed Jimmy Carter would save the nation.

Through all the turmoil and two assassination attempts Ford showed himself a decent man with the tools needed to bridge the gap and help heal America, summarized well by this quote:
"Our Constitution works; our great republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But there is a higher power, by whatever name we honor Him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.
Rest in peace, sir.

THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG 12/28/06

(Moved to it's own post).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

AP's nonsensical death toll comparison

It's silly, but I can't resist commenting on the AP's effort to compare troop deaths in Iraq to civilian deaths on 9/11:
The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of six more American soldiers, pushing the U.S. military death toll since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978 — five more than the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Glorifying this factoid is perhaps the clearest indication yet of media bias. Most on the anti-war side continue to live by the "Saddam had no connection to 9/11" mantra, a mindset that leaves the Butcher a harmless caricature, perhaps even a victim of the Bushitler oil-war machine. The AP story fails to disappoint in that arena. To wit:
There has been no direct evidence of links between Saddam's regime and the Sept. 11 attacks. Democratic leaders have said the Bush administration has gotten the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, detracting from efforts against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
There have, of course, been links between Saddam Hussein and terrorism, which are continually ignored. But aside from Hussein, the war was labeled the "Global War on Terrorism" not the "Global War on al Qaeda" for good reasons, Hizballah, Hamas, and the FARC to name a few.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Setting the stage

Christmas traditionally brings the noble calls for peace on earth, good will towards men, a wonderful sentiment that usually gets erased by events within days. This year, if recent stories are to be believed, the events might involve Iran.

Aside from the obvious decision by the UN Security Council to impart sanctions on Tehran, other strange happenings have happened in the past few days hinting at a dustup with the Ayatollahs.

First, there was a decision by a Federal Judge (the same one who presides over the FISA court) to hold Iran responsible in part for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. This amazing story got limited press in light of the obvious implication that Iran perpetrated an act of war on the US that was never addressed.

Next the US military detained two Iranian officials in Baghdad presumably for helping militias kill US troops. The Shiite-dominated Iraqi government didn't care much for this act, probably because the raid took place at the SCIRI headquarters, whose Badr gang leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim only recently returned from a visit to meet Bush in Washington.

Late last week there was hope the Shiites might agree to crack down on the death squads. A delegation was sent to Najaf to get the blessing of the big cheese, but shortly thereafter word came back that Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani had returned Bush's Christmas card with a big red no. The result--reconfirmed support for al-Sadr and the militias.

Oddly enough the British raided a police station in Basra today, killing seven and rolling up a death squad. Said the New York Times:
Residents said that people were afraid to challenge them because they were backed by powerful militia groups including the Mahdi army, which is controlled by the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
Beginning to see a pattern? Harry and Nancy are only a week away from controlling the Congressional gavels.

Perhaps not as obvious but surely connected, Bill Roggio's trip report on his embed in the Sunni triangle suggests the US relationship with Sunni tribal elders is a lot better than we've been led to believe. Those leaders have big fears that Bush will execute the Baker/Hamilton deployment strategy, which would leave them at the mercy of AQ and Badr/Mahdi death squads due to their past cooperation. That is, if we can believe them.

So, as the world eagerly awaits Bush's new plan forward perhaps some of these events might foretell his direction. Debate has raged for months over whether the US would be forced to take sides in the sectarian contest triggered by the Golden Mosque attack but our attempts to force Maliki to unify have largely failed. We've been told that only leaves two options--a Murtha-like retreat to the horizon or a McCain-like escalation. Perhaps Bush has a plan C.

We know the way forward must also include Iran and Syria, but if Bush chooses to ignore the ISG withdrawal/dialogue option that leaves the opposite. He doesn't have much time, since the Democrats are liable to cut his war funding if polls continue in the same direction and with a looming election. Iraq is a boat anchor for both parties in that respect.

In light of the ISG report and Bush's poll numbers Iran must believe themselves to be ten foot tall and bulletproof at the moment. It wouldn't be unthinkable to think they've already threatened us through intermediaries of their destabilization intentions should we attack their nukes. If so, the recent detentions of their operatives in Baghdad might be a tad eyebrow-raising for the Ayatollahs. Sort of a modern version of "nuts" coming from Washington. You gotta believe there are more than a few in the Pentagon that would like a piece of Iran, harking back to the burning helicopters in the Iranian desert in 1980 followed by the smoldering Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. No need to add Khobar Towers, our response is past due.

With all the focus on Iran we can't forget this guy. He's still got a lot of friends in low places who might not take kindly to his impending demise. Question is, which side will they be on?

ADD IT TO THE LIST 12/25/06


A little over one year ago Germany released legacy Hizballah terrorist Mohammed Ali Hamadei on some sort of funky parole from his 'life sentence' for air piracy, kidnapping and murder.

Americans, such as the family members of Navy Diver Robert Stethem (whom Hamadei murdered on TWA847 in 1985) were both puzzled and outraged. Germany will not extradite to countries with capital punishment, so they just let him go. The family pleaded with Bush to intervene but all they've seen so far is Hamadei's picture being added to the FBI's most-wanted terrorist list.

Consider it just another Iranian-backed act of terrorism against the US gone unpunished. They're piling up.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On Donder, on Blitzen

Unless something drastic happens it figures to be pretty quiet around here for a couple of days. Hey, it might even snow here in Memphis. Glad I won't be hitting I-240 anytime soon.

If you're into video nostalgia, here's a site with a bunch of old TV Christmas specials. Break out the Cold Duck and enjoy. And here's a PC Christmas story. By the way, did you know that since all male Reindeer have hibernated lost their antlers by now, that means Santa's sleigh team is pulled by females? That's what my email said.



Fun stuff, but in a world full of chaos we could probably use a little more of this..



Merry Christmas to all.

updated and corrected--reindeer story confirmed by PJM.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More on Archivegate

Pajamas Media has the Inspector General's report on the Sandy Berger document dump. They are asking bloggers and experts to take a gander and see if any gems can be ferreted out amongst all the redactions.

For some reason I subjected myself to this snooze material despite a general dislike for PDF files. The report presents the following as fact:

1) Berger knew the documents were copies.
2) No handwritten post-it notes were on the docs (this is still not crystal clear to me).
3) He took copious notes and removed most of them without permission. He was asked to produce them later but there's no way to know whether he did, since nobody knows how many he created.
4) We don't know how many documents he swiped since Archive staff only got suspicious and set traps after his third trip.

Here's one curious thing, found on page 22:






Earlier in the report on page 6 it says an Archive staffer saw Berger fiddling with something white around his ankle that could have been paper. This blurb, filled with more detail, seems to drop out of nowhere like an orphaned paste erroneously left in the document by mistake. It really doesn't matter--he's admitted to taking docs--but the socks bit goes nicely towards the bumbling spy caricature bolstered by the construction trailer caper.

That brings us to a final "why"? We're told Berger knew he was pilfering copies, but did he know which batch was going to the commission? Perhaps he thought the copies he was working off were going. That would be only way to cleanse the record without actually changing the archive. Such a thing is easily disproved but not by the likes of me.

But let's assume he wasn't trying to cleanse the record. To act in such a way speaks to character and suggests incompetence in the least and immense pressure from somebody to make sure the bases were covered at the most. Let's see what the experts say.

CLARIFICATION 12/23/06

Berger was quoted on page 27:





This comment was in relation to his September 2003 visits and the Millennium After-Action Report he took then destroyed. He claims he didn't know whether copies or originals were to be sent to the Commission, making it seem like his theft was a clumsy attempt to remove reference material to his office, not cheat the Commission. Apparently that's what the IG and DOJ believed.

The interesting part of this report was the stated reason for his May 2002 visit--a response to the Goss commission inquiry regards Usama bin Laden and the government of Sudan. Bill Clinton was already on tape telling an audience that Sudan offered UBL but we couldn't take him, therefore this would seem a more likely target of pilferage for Berger.

Archives officials admit he was provided numbered NSC packets of information during the May visit, but that individual documents inside those packets were not traceable. They admitted it was impossible to know whether any of these documents were stolen. There's no evidence he did, but it was interesting that in the report Berger offers an opinion on the Sudan-bin Laden offer--it was 'an urban legend'.

MORE 12/23/06

Dan Reihl has more, which focuses mainly on the MAAR and Berger's then association with the Kerry campaign. The Archive staff and the DOJ must have believed Berger didn't successfully cleanse the record, since he took copies not originals. Reihl suggests the mission was to wipe away any failures of terrorism policy and the fact the info wasn't passed to the incoming Bush regime. If that was goal, Berger was more of an idiot than we thought.

It's fun to note that around the same time Berger was reviewing documents in DC Joe Wilson was up the road op-ed'ing in the NY Times about Niger. He was also forced to resign from the Kerry campaign after the Senate Intelligence committee found him to be less than truthful, just like Berger.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

All your blogs, are belong to us

Another day, another MSM article about the possible demise of blogging. The WaPo's Marc Fisher has an opinion:
The trick for the next phase of its evolution will be to find ways to add heft and win wider notice, perhaps even some permanance for the best work, just as the best work appearing in daily newspapers and magazines eventually found its way to books (think Dickens, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson)..
He's correct--most blogs (including this one) are merely speculation, ideas, rants, or free-for-alls. So what? The decreasing number of blogs is merely a natural equilibrium based on the number of start-ups. As we all know, it takes work to research and write, then get hits. That does lead to burnout, but if there's another Hemingway out there lost in the shuffle it seems a dwindling blogosphere would act to self-correct 'the problem' as the 'fad' passes. No evolutions needed.

Besides, to assume every blogger is out to get rich and famous is not assumable. Some don't give a fiddler's darn, preferring to simply discuss the news and events of the day just like they would on a message board (only with more control). Hey--it beats yelling at the TV. Those who do want to attain fame, fortune, women and motorcars by blogging are usually the most persistent anyway. Just like in any field.

Hopefully we aren't heading towards "bloggers licenses" or somesuch, designed under the premise of recognizing talent by thinning the herd to those with some sort of arbitrary credentials. I'm not saying Mr. Fisher is suggesting such a thing, I just get the feeling some in the big media, for obvious reasons, would like to see a bit of bug spray applied to this giant swarm of gnats.

It's not about competition and survival, either. Bloggers need the big media to power their rant-filled speculative posts or generate discussion, even if every MSM story could be guaranteed 100 percent perfect. We also need the media to provide a check and balance to the government. Yet with that they run the risk of fourth estate trappings, especially with media consolidation (most towns only have one daily newspaper).

Right now bloggers provide a value-added check and balance to the fourth estate, a much better alternative to rampant government intervention, wouldn't you say? If it ain't broke..

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What did Sandy take?

Washington Post photo
What did Sandy take, and why did he take it?

A year after his 'sentencing' we now find out that Clinton's former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger operated like a 12 year old--actually hiding some of the documents he'd stuffed in his socks under a construction trailer adjacent to the Archives building only to later return and retrieve them, take them to his office, then use a pair of scissors to destroy them.

For this he'll not serve one day in jail, and can reapply for another top secret clearance in 2009, just in time for a possible Hillary administration.

Maybe this strangeness explains Clinton's oddball overreaction to the "Path to 9/11" movie followed by similar behavior during the Chris Wallace interview. Recall Berger was tasked with reviewing data prior to Clinton's testimony to the 9/11 Commission. Previous reports said the documents had to do with the Millennium attacks, but there are so many other possibilities.

Surely there's more to this, the question is whether we'll ever find out.

UPDATE 12/20/06

Just checked Huffington Post for an update, nothing yet as of 8:25pm CST. Maybe their teletype machine got jammed. Anyway, they DO have a story about a dead deer on Cheney's property.

By the way, wonder if incoming Congressman Waxman will take up where Duncan Hunter left off?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hillary's walk back

This wasn't a surprise. Hillary, as the story admits, has long been an "artful dodger" about her Iraq war vote. But the word play here has to be seen to be believed. Speaking for Ms. Rodham, her press secretary Philippe Reines:
"As she has long and often said, Senator Clinton believes that if we knew then what we know now, Congress never would have been asked to give the President authority to use force against Iraq, and if the President still asked Congress despite a lack of evidence, the Congress would not have agreed," said Reines.
It's hard to imagine anyone short of a died-in-the-wool Democrat buying into such a revisionist piece of nonsensical puffery. Using the phrase "lack of evidence" was key, since it can work in a variety of ways, ie, was there a lack of evidence in 2002, or would the Congress today vote on war with the lack of evidence we've now found by going to war already? Only in Washington do people speak in such ways and expect to get away with it.

Speaking of that, the real entertainment will come from seeing whether anyone in the media other than Stephen Colbert or Fox News will have the cajones to seriously challenge this walkback for what it really is.

GTMO and the long war

MSNBC is running another thinly veiled "Rummy was running a Gulag at GTMO" story, courtesy of the AP. The gist--after the US releases some of "the most deadly killers" on earth back to their home countries, 4/5ths are set free within a few days. Here's a sample:
Clive Stafford Smith, a British-American attorney representing several detainees, said the AP's findings indicate that innocent men were jailed and that the term "continued detention" is part of "a politically motivated farce."

"The Bush administration wants to be able to say that these are dangerous terrorists who are going to be confined upon their release ... although there is no evidence against many of them," he said.
It's long past pointless to point out these people were picked up off the battlefield during combat operations in Afghanistan--the one place on earth where liberals believe war is partially justified in certain situations. One of the realities of war are prisoner-of-war camps, but as I said, pointless, since these folks don't believe there is a war.

It might be better to let Newsweek, via MSNBC, offer a rebuttal. According to their sources al-Qaeda's recent quiet might be the calm before another storm:
One eyewitness, a former Guantánamo detainee with close Taliban and Qaeda ties, spoke to NEWSWEEK recently in southern Afghanistan, demanding anonymity because he doesn't want the Americans looking for him. He says he met the 12 recruits in November 2005, at a mud-brick compound near the North Waziristan town of Mir Ali. That was as much as the tight-lipped former detainee would divulge, except to mention that Adam Yahiye Gadahn, the notorious fugitive "American Al Qaeda," was with the brothers, presumably as an interpreter.
(emphasis added). Wonder which percentage this guy fell into?

But the story's premise, a long time-frame, seems to make sense (the story claims AQ is training western-looking operatives for use a decade into the future). This allows the west to become even more dhimmified and complacent than now, aided by an unpopular war and no significant spectacular attacks to galvanize public support.

While busy training operatives for the next big one, the interim years could be filled with peaceful politically correct efforts to set the table through western government bodies with the aid of a generation of disillusioned youngsters bombarded by the likes of Loose Change, Cindy Sheehan and hip hate-war Hollywood types. Stop and consider current birthrates and immigration patterns--what will the world look like in ten years? All this points to a waiting game.

Besides, if the west throws in the towel faster than expected they can always change tact and go back on the offensive.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kerry's Middle East fantasy tour

JF Kerry continued his whirlwind "tougher and smarter" tour of the Middle East with a stop in Basra to talk to some of the troops stuck in Iraq:
Kerry, a critic of Bush administration policies in Iraq, said the most important challenge now was to achieve 'whatever success is possible.'
A real Gipper moment, I'm sure. No word yet on whether he engaged any stuck troops.

Kerry will meet Maliki Sunday to talk about, well, whatever success remains possible with Bush still in office. And of course to dispute anything McCain just said. Wonder if the AP is feverishly trying to locate Jamil Hussein to set up an exclusive interview?

Apparently dead set on implementing the ISG recommendations all by himself--he'll follow his Iraq visit by whirling over to meet with Bashar Assad in Damascus. The agenda is unknown, but perhaps he can quiz the socialist dictator about how things are going with the Hariri investigation, or maybe they can crack a few cigars and discuss the likely suspects in the Gemayel murder, or what ole Izzat al-Duri is up to these days.

He'll later head to Lebanon, but no word on who he'll meet there, presuming Assad hasn't toppled the elected government by the time he arrives.

In other ME news, the UAE just had their first-ever elections, and a woman was among the victors.

MORE 12/17/06

Was Kerry upstaged by Blair? Looking around the news sites there's nary a story about JFK's excellent adventure. Maybe they'll float the story later.

When searching the blogs I did notice that Bill O'Reilly had made the trip to Camp Stryker, following on the heels of Hannity.

Maybe this is the new secret Bush strategy--saturate Baghdad with bombastic blowhards until they surrender to our will.

MORE 12/17/06

On second thought, maybe the media is waiting for an acceptance speech.

update--Should have known the Gateway Man would have the scoop. And pictures.

MORE 12/17


Speaking of pictures, here's a suggested disguise for Senator Kerry as he makes his way to Damascus. As long as they don't recognize the emblem he'll be pretty much incognito.











Ok, ok, this has probably gone too far. The post was simply an expression of my irritation over people who, in their need to grandstand (or repair their image) might allow themselves to become a tool for the enemy. Since he's not authorized to speak as an envoy of the State Department or the President, all he can really do is damage. And let me be clear--going to Iraq is not a problem. Going to Syria or perhaps speaking with Hizballah Or Iran? Problem.

UPDATE 12/20/06

John Kerry and Chris Dodd make a charming photograph sitting with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today (ht LGF). Wonder if they asked the dictator about this?

Tender Tennessee Christmas, Allah willing

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen is apparently a painter. Who knew? Anywho, on a recent trip to Afghanistan he found a young Muslim woman and painted her picture, which now adorns his Christmas cards.

I think I understand his sentiment--love thy neighbor--but there are a few oddities to note. The most obvious being the woman's failure to adhere to the dress code:
Khaled Sakalla, spokesman for the Islamic Center of Nashville, said the local Muslim community also wishes Christians a peaceful and happy holiday. But, he said, if the governor saw a Muslim woman in Afghanistan as depicted — with her head partially uncovered — that's not the Muslim dress code.
Mercy sakes, was she flirting with Phil? Do we have a brewing scandal?

Assuming she was breaking tradition, perhaps NATO should consider getting her a one-way ticket on the same flight that carried away Abdul Rahman, the Afghani man who made the mistake of openly professing that he'd converted to Christianity and was threatened with death.

The Gov is right--God loves all his chirldrun. The devil is always in the details.

MORE 12/16/06

Trackback party over at Jay's house.

MORE 12/20/06

From the Gov:
met the teenage girl depicted in this painting in March of this year at a primitive school on the Shamali Plains Road outside of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Until recently, under the Taliban, education was forbidden to her. She is now learning to read, and on the day I visited, was studying geography.
That's rather heartening--a Christmas reminder of why we fight. Under that context I don't have a big problem with the card, which seems to suggest that a Christian-based country gave her the right to use her own brain, while the Taliban would just as soon remove her to a hut and have her model the newest winter fashion attire in suicide vests, under the full burka, of course.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Downing Street revisited

Another bomb has been dropped across the pond in the great debate over pre-Iraq war intelligence (seems like conspiracy central these days):
In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction.
That sounds pretty alarming, as if Mr. Ross might possess some kind of smoking gun document to prove that Blair lied about WMD. But, from reading the article it seems Mr. Ross might be upset because his conventional wisdom opinion that Saddam posed absolutely no threat was ignored before the war and subsequently suppressed by the Butler Report after no weapon stockpiles were found.

Not surprisingly the late Dr. David Kelly's name has resurfaced. You might remember him as the former Iraqi weapons inspector (UNSCOM) who turned up dead right just as Bob Novak started the Valerie Plame brouhaha. The Hutton Inquiry ruled that he committed suicide.

The BBC is apparently still not convinced:
THE BBC is risking a new confrontation with Downing Street by launching an investigation into the death of David Kelly, the scientist at the centre of the storm over the “sexed up” dossier on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction.
Keep in mind the Beeb has had her own credibility problems during this war.

Oddly enough, Dr. Kelly wasn't the only prominent microbiologist who died of mysterious causes in the years following 9/11. The death of Dr. Don Wiley still haunts Memphis. Comparing the two, the Hutton Inquiry has no corner on the weirdness market when factoring in former Memphis coroner O.C. Smith.

Digression aside, Kelly was no anti-war moonbat. He had extensive knowledge of Saddam's bioweapons programs, especially anthrax. Femme-fatale and ex-con Judy Miller was a confidante, both during the run-up to war and as a source for her book "Germs".

Kelly apparently liked to "impart knowledge". Some described him as a gossip, as he had many interviews with journalists other than Miller. Here's part of the transcript from the Hutton inquiry:
15 Q. What type of subjects would these e-mails be about?
16 A. Again usually about bio-weapons. He had some interest
17 in the hunt in the United States for the person who had
18 sent the letters containing anthrax. I believe he had
19 been consulted about that by the Americans because he
20 was an expert on that particular subject.
Speculative folks might assume several things--one, that he knew too much about his subject, and two, he talked too much. That doesn't tend to suggest suicide.

But who knows. There are way too many conspiracies swirling around him and all this stuff. To illustrate the insanity, some in Britain are blaming MI5 for both the Kelly death and Princess Diana's accident. In America some in the radical left believe the Bush administration is perfectly capable of committing murder and mayhem, the anthrax letters being no exception. There are only a handful on the right who believe the letters might have come from an enemy, but if such were the case it might provide yet another explanation for Dr. Kelly's demise.

But every time this "sexed-up" intelligence story pops up something bothers me about it, and that is--why would a Labor Party Prime Minister willingly go along with a fraud to help an American Republican president? What did Blair stand to gain from such a move? The risk/reward strongly favored risk. Even a cursory glance at Blair's history reveals he was consistent in supporting the US regards Saddam, including Operation Desert Fox in 1998.

So why? Well, maybe his judgment stinks. Maybe he's gullible, Maybe he was strong-armed by Bush over something else (which means Clinton also strong-armed him). Perhaps he's just an idiot. Or perhaps he knows a lot more than the rest of us.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sabres rattling all over the place

It probably began with the Saudis:
Saudi Arabia has warned Washington it might provide financial aid to Iraqi Sunnis in any fighting against Shiites if the U.S. pulls its troops out of Iraq, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Idle speculation suggests that was in response to the ISG report, ironically itself most likely a political ruse, which hints that we're fixing to pull and exit stage west plan. To the east, while he's not threatening to blow Israel off the map the head of state from Iran, Mockmood Hockmadina'jad, was busy holding a Holocaust Denial extravaganza starring David Duke. Maybe he just likes men who wear headgear? Geez, was it any surprise the Israeli PM dropped a hint about the nuke program everyone already knows they have?

CNN/AP reminded us that Dick Cheney recently visited the Saudi Kingdom and was read the riot act. Funny, they quoted a "senior American official" for that description, which means it was probably a Make-Nice Dept (State) operative. But then again, "senior American official" is so ambiguous it could have been someone from Census Bureau, or heck, just an important old guy not even in the government.

It's getting hard to keep up. The Saudis recently pulled their US envoy for unexplained reasons, described in a bit more detail by Tom Macguire. Democrat Congressmen are clandestinely frolicking around the Middle East sucking up to every Arab they can find while their compatriots back home threaten to do something about war appropriations. Funny, the entire government is being funded on a continuing resolution (no passed appropriations) and will be through the end of September according to the pencil pushers.

Amidst all this festive holiday chaos President Bush is trying to lay low with his future Iraq game plan, infuriating the press since they largely believe we should devise war strategy over the internet for all to see, leading to failures, leading to more Bush-bashing Pulitzer Prize-winning stories about the failures.

Yes, it's serious, of course. The central question remains one of side-choosing. Will team Bush choose to side with the Shia, risking an alienation of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and a power bump for a madman and his sidekick? Or will he back the Sunnis, friends of Zarqawi, AQ in Iraq, Saddamists and the bearded cave freaks? Or any of them? A real Maalox Moment for sure, so it's no wonder he wants to spend Christmas thinking it over. Or praying extra hard.

MORE 12/15/06

In my time I've never seen so many Americans roaming around cajoling with our stated enemies. It happened during Vietnam, and now one of those practitioners, John Kerry, is volunteering to do it again. Don't like the elected foreign policy chief? Just go around him!

At the same time, such things are partially (or maybe fully) a result of Bush's floundering leadership and the current state of Iraq.

Still, what--other than capitulation--could Kerry possibly accomplish by talking to Iran? They've made their foreign policy goals quite clear regards Israel:
Don’t use your people’s money to assist this violent regime. This is the best solution. If they do not accept the first solution, then they should allow the nation of Palestine to make their decision about its own fate. Anyone who is a Palestinian citizen, whether they are Christian, Jewish or Muslim, should decide together in a very free referendum. There is no need for war. There is no need for threats or an the atomic bomb either.
In other words, since the "Palestinians" outnumber the Israelis by a significant margin, let the people decide. Heh. And just how would they decide? Yep.

Just the other day Olmert casually slipped out a comment, "ahem, we might have a nuke program". Imagine the fate of such a program should 'the people' of that region be allowed to decide--the same people who elected Hamas.

Truth be told, A'jad knows this will never happen. His goal is to sow seeds of doubt into the American mind, already flummoxed by the thought of a long war. He's like a devil on the shoulder saying, "this is the exit strategy--throw the Jews under the bus". No matter that his rhetoric defies the history of the region and the laws concerning the spoils of war. We've already seen that facts are not an important aspect of the current world dialogue.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Spam

Got a message on my work email today from "Todd". Here's his subject line:
will be come from thereon and our kindred and were was
Such dribble is hard to come up with stone cold sober. I'm thinking he's got the laptop with him at the bar. In a way it sounds similar to the odd message Uncle Pavian recently discussed. Such wasted creativity.

I used to love Spam as a kid. Of course, that was back when pure cane sugar was a food group.

A glass half empty

Here's the lede from the Multi-National Forces Iraq website regarding the departure of Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, second in command on the ground in Iraq:
“I happen to believe that we have tremendous strategic interests in what we're doing over here,” said Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, MNC-I commanding general. “I happen to believe this is the most important conflict that we've been involved in the last 50 years.”
Now, here's the lede in the AP version:
America's outgoing No. 2 commander in Iraq said Tuesday that curbing unemployment and improving services would help reduce the violence in the country, warning that military muscle cannot win the war alone..
From what I could gather the above-linked story from AP reporter Hamza Hendawi was their entire coverage of the event, not some parsed Topix rehash, but I could be mistaken. The WaPo ran with their own byline, quoting some of the AP quotes but not nearly as skewed. At any rate, it wasn't a big story this morning based on scans of the various news sites, but that's not the point of this post.

Not surprisingly the DoD-produced version doesn't include some of the more negative quotes contained in the AP version, but that's why we need the free press. The problem comes in when the free press decides to parse what they believe is important in the very same manner. This AP story will end up in the hands of news organizations all over the world, but the average person will not seek out the MNF website to find the full context of general's remarks.

Such selective quoting, such as focusing mainly on the power and services issue, can also unwittingly help the enemy cause. This report seems to give credence to previous stories such as this one, which highlight the calculated disruption efforts put forth by the Ba'athists in an effort to drive us out.

This, combined with the Jamil Hussein situation, should make everyone question the coverage coming out of Iraq, or at least search for balance.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh, holiday tree, oh holiday tree..

The trees are back up at Sea-Tac airport. These guys are true cave-men..they cave in to everyone. It's like a circular cave-in.

O'Reilly had the Rabbi who threatened to file the lawsuit on his show Monday night. The man seemed a little taken aback by the result of his actions and certainly didn't want the trees taken down. I think. Anyway, I agreed with Bill--any six year old could have figured this one out.

Said Seattle Airport spokesperson:
"we look forward to sitting down after the first of the year with not only Rabbi Bogomilsky but others as well, and finding ways to make sure there's an appropriate winter holiday representation for all faiths. We want to find out a way to celebrate the winter holidays that is sensitive to all faiths."
Another noted talk show host weighed in last night, too. Neal Boortz said the trees (which aren't religious) should go up, along with the Menorah and if pressured, a symbol of Islam. Neal suggested an IED or perhaps a dummy wearing a suicide bomb vest. Don't think those would go over too well, but it made me laugh.

Oh well, happy Christmas, Seattle.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spies and Princess Di

The official report may be final on Lady Di's death, but that won't stop the speculating.

London's Guardian Observer reported this morning that the "US Secret Service" had bugged Diana's phone, which is absurd on its face of course, but there have long been unsubstaniated rumors the NSA was monitoring her.

Why on earth?

Well, maybe it was due to her relationship with Dodi al-Fayed and the upline connection to his father Mohamed, who had associations with many movers and shakers in the Arab world. The Stevens report said the driver Henri Paul was a paid informant of the French Directorate for Territorial Surveillance, their version of the FBI or MI5, so there was apparently more than casual interest in her comings and goings.

But what sense would it make to assassinate her? The Fayeds say it was because she was going to marry Dodi and become Muslim, but after her divorce from Charles it's doubtful that would have been serious enough to warrant such a drastic action. The Royals seem far too pragmatic. Besides, this is the British government, originator of James Bond. Using an uncontrolled car crash would be beneath them.

Why not suspect an Islamic culprit? I blogged on this back in the summer after finding some very interesting connections between Mohammed al-Fayed and Adnan Kashoggi via a simple open source search. Perhaps Fayed was being shaken down by UBL, had rebuffed him, and Diana was murdered to hurt his son.

All idle speculation without hard evidence. The known evidence indicates the driver was drunk and moving at high speeds. Nobody forced Henri Paul to do that, so it seems more than likely this whole thing was a tragic accident. If that's not enough for you, write Henry Waxman a note and ask him to include Bill Clinton on his docket of upcoming investigations.

MORE 12/11/06

CBS is reporting that the NSA will soon be issuing a statement denying they eavesdropped on the Princess's calls. However..
The response acknowledged that the NSA had files on her. However, the NSA will say it had files on her not because she was being monitored, but because her name was mentioned by other people in conversations that were being monitored.
Ok, was it the Fayeds or Forstmann? If the latter then Say Anything has a good question.

MORE 12/11/06

Why not go to someone with experience?
By focusing on those agencies--and not CGHQ--the Stevens inquiry seems to have hit upon an ideal "official" solution. Point out the obvious (her driver was too drunk to get behind the wheel), tantalize the public with hints of a spy operation (that can be blamed on someone else), and ignore potential connections that might lead back to the British establishment.

Talking to the enemy--been there, done that

"Surrender Monkeys"..."Iraq Surrender Group"..."Cut-n-run commission"...just some of the colorful descriptions of the ISG, which has caused discontent within the GOP ranks mainly due to it's recommendation to engage in talks with enemy nations like Syria and Iran.

It does seem rather counterproductive based on their public rhetoric and private actions, but as they say, sometimes talking can reveal things about the enemy.

Thing is, we've already sat down with the enemy--the Ba'athist enemy. You know, the ones causing all the trouble in Iraq. The minions of Saddam:
At the first meeting with Khalilzad on January 17, the insurgents expressed concern about the emergence of Iran as a new regional power. With America equally worried about Iranian interference, the two sides appeared to have found some common ground. The talks continued in Baghdad for about eight weeks, sometimes on consecutive days at Allawi’s home.
Our Muslim man in Baghdad and possible future UN Ambassador Zal Khalilzad was at the center of these efforts, which were apparently going along fine for awhile:
the insurgents proposed that an emergency government be formed under Allawi’s leadership. Non-sectarian politicians should be appointed to the crucial ministries of defence and the interior, they urged, because they would be responsible for rebuilding a strong national army and security service
It appears they wanted their status back, or at least their jobs:
According to a senior Ba’athist representative, insurgent groups linked to al-Douri would not sit down with the Americans unless they first agreed to a series of other conditions ranging from compensation for Iraq’s losses during the war to the reinstatement of Saddam’s military.
Woodward's new book really hammers Paul Bremer over his firing of the Ba'athists and Army. It was a command decision that was somewhat understandable at the time, and besides, there is evidence the insurgency would have blossomed anyway.

So we've talked, but what has the talk accomplished? Not much so far. Just recently, concurrent with Saddam's death sentence, a decree was issued to cease all violence against Coalition forces, which probably had something to do with al-Maliki's offer to the former Ba'athists to get their old jobs back. We've all seen the fruits of that effort.

I think most people aren't upset with the ISG's recommendation as much as the notion that any such talks will be one-sided, a 'sucking-up' rather than a bargaining. Based on the chest-thumping from Syria and Iran perhaps there are other options for Bush to explore right now.

MORE 12/10/06

I stumbled upon this looking for Arab reaction to the ISG report. It's a statement from the Iraqi Ba'ath party regards the report:
In order to achieve the victory requirements we must widen and expand our military operations to an unprecedented record, putting the US to face either humiliating and degrading defeat and the chaotic cutting and running or to negotiate with the Resistance only after frankly accepting its conditions.. There is no solution and no exit whatsoever for the US in Iraq to endure minor damage except through accepting the Armed Resistance conditions, and this is the answer of our Party to the Baker's report.
Looks like they're just about ready to capitulate.

MORE 12/10/06


Jalal Talibani does not have fond memories of James Baker, and does not want Ba'athists back in government, a key provision of the ISG. We've come full circle.

MORE 12/10/06

Wow, things are happening fast and furious. Here's Andy Card regards President Bush and the ISG:
Referring to Mr. Bush’s secret intelligence briefings, Mr. Card said, “The president by definition knows more than any of those people who are serving on these panels.”

“The president’s obligations sometimes require him to be very lonely,” he said.
And just what might that be, Andy? I'm starting to get the feeling the ISG was constructed as some kind of stalking horse or prop. C'mon, James Baker and Vernon Jordan together on the same panel? Something's up.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tis the season

Despite James Baker the holidays are in full swing around here. Friday was tree time, but this year we decided to cut our own. Although the neighbors had a pretty nice-looking one, we went to over to a local tree farm, where such practices are not frowned upon. The nice lady pointed us to the tree forest, pointed us to the saw, and scolded us for not being dressed warmly enough. Thanks for caring, mom. Buy hey, it was 13 degrees in Memphis that morning and had only warmed to about 30.

Any tree, 30 bucks. We wondered if that included the 50 foot tall pin oak in her back yard, trying to imagine dragging it back to the house. Anyway, it's fun to cut your own, but if you're thinking of going better hurry, the pickins are getting slim.

Speaking of the cold, someone sent this in email, and it seems fitting:



Speaking of global warming, November was the third straight month of below normal temperatures in Memphis. Senator Inhofe had a little climate change get-together last week and unveiled a global warming skeptics guide. But the quote of the event came from David Denning, an associate professor at University of Oklahoma. It was not picked up by the mainstreamers (Drudge claimed the CNN guy was asleep) but pointed out by Jon at Crushliberalism:
..received an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. He said, "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."
This doesn't meet criteria for bombshell, since it's an anecdotal conversation unsupported by evidence and Deming is indeed associated with a think tank headed by Pete DuPont (just trying to beat the enviros to the punch).

But, if true it's extremely significant because the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the driving force behind the Kyoto Protocol, has based their entire construct on Mann's "Hockey Stick" temperature graph of the last thousand years. That study basically erased the "Medieval Warm Period", a consensus warming that occurred before Europe stole America from the Indians.

Political alarmism has no place driving scientific debate, but the Kyoto backers have tried to end debate by declaring an 'emergency'. It's the same tactic they criticize Bush for regards Iraq--he said the threat demanded an immediate response based on a consensus from the experts. While sneeringly lambasting that path of action it's somehow OK when it comes Kyoto.

BAH HUMBUG AND AWAY 12/9/06

Christmas trees are under attack, again. What? You say they shouldn't be in a public facility? Tell that President Bush, who just lit the national Christmas tree.

My suggestion...the airport should have allowed the Menorah then announced they'll be removing the trees in favor of a manger scene. Ok, ok. How about those big fake single candles you might see adorning a telephone pole in Mayberry? Surely a series of decorative candles couldn't offend anyone.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Jamil Hussein saga

Michelle and others are still hammering on the AP to give up "Jamil Hussein", the ubiquitous Iraqi Police Captain used as a source for the burned alive story last month, among others. The AP blasted back with another "we're the AP and you're not" retort today, yet still didn't provide proof of the Captain's existence. The original stone was rolled away by Curt, who continues to be the go-to source among bloggers.

I don't have anything to add other than an opinion, but is it possible Captain Hussein is a nom de guerre to protect the 'real' guy? Perhaps he's a Sunni working in the Iraqi Police who fears reprisal if using his own name. Despite the AP's pomposity it's an angle for consideration, since if true they couldn't very well give him up without jeopardizing his life.

While on this fair and balanced roll, it's certainly prudent not to take everything coming from the Iraq MOI at face value as the AP suggests. That said, it's pretty obvious which sources they inherently distrust, and it's not their own. Without providing pedigrees they could, for all we know, be former employees of Saddam's disinformation ministry. Yet if they give them up it might cause harm, which takes us back around to the point from whence we came--"believe us because we're the AP".

But, while they busily cockadoodledoodoo about their 160 year war reporting experience (wasn't the Pony Express around back then?) perhaps they could use some of it to find out the status of "Juba the Baghdad Sniper", reportedly captured last week. So far only the keyboard cowboys have run the story, but let's see, Juba was a creation of the Islamic Army in Iraq, a Sunni group with ties to Saddamists. Perhaps Jamil has some contacts the AP could exploit.

The rule of street law

Ask the average person about the rule of law and they might say--there's the way everyone wants the world to work, then there's the way it actually works. Many believe that everything boils down to a "law of the jungle" where the strongest, smartest, or most ruthless capture the spoils leaving the rest to suffer or complain.

I bring this up because we've got another scandal in Memphis involving a Ford. This time it's Edmund Ford, a City Councilman (yes he's related to Harold Ford, Jr.) who's been accused of accepting cash payments allegedly in exchange for votes. The payments were caught on FBI surveillance cameras so there's no denying the money was passed. Instead Mr. Ford is saying they were "loans".

Every mother's son or daughter will eventually be faced with temptation, but character is defined in how such events are handled. Whether fair or not, the perception remains that most elected officials are handicapped in that area.

Others say it's just survival in the mean ole world, no big deal. Getting by is a daily grind for most of the world's population not blessed with an American system whose purpose was to subvert jungle law and allow the little guy an opportunity to reach a dream. And it's been wildly successful--nobody starves to death here unless they are devoid of all sense, and many paupers rise to become millionaires without possessing the ruthless guile of a dictator. You can thank a devotion to the rule of law for that.

Enter greed.

Greed destroys people regardless of society. Even if Mr. Ford is telling the truth about the money being a "loan", his excuse for getting the "loan" was:
Ford said the tape shows nothing more than him taking a loan from Cooper so that he could catch up on financial obligations, including making payments on a Cadillac sport utility vehicle he leases.

The Commercial Appeal first reported last year that Cooper, then a salesman at Bud Davis Cadillac, arranged for Ford to lease the car, a $50,000 Cadillac SRX. Because of bad credit, Ford couldn't qualify for the car, so millionaire developer Rusty Hyneman co-signed the lease.
In other words, Mr. Ford has already failed the ethics test. A person with bad credit, regardless of position, should not be leasing a Cadillac SUV. It sure ain't because he was just 'trying to get by'. Pride, greed, status, or influence peddling are the only viable explanations.

While this isn't a racial thing Mr. Ford will no doubt use that canard for his defense. Many in his constituency will believe the FBI is unfairly targeting black politicians when white politicians are just as corrupt. Whether true or not, the rule of law is never defended by using this defense.

This same law of the streets argument also works well for the illegal alien issue. As long as people are willing to work it's seen as perfectly acceptable to break immigration law on a massive scale. Problem is, as the Founding Fathers warned, at some point societies who devalue the law end up eventually having it enforced on them by one person.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

Many bloggers will be doing tributes today, which is great, but it'll be depressing to see the comparisons to our current predicament, eg, the "Iraq Surrender Group" report and such.

Here's a reminder of that fateful day. Clicking the pic gets you to a tribute site.
















FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech galvanized the nation and prepared us for the struggle. Here's the last paragraph before he declared war:
With confidence in our armed forces-with the unbounded determination of our people-we will gain the inevitable triumph-so help us God.
What's missing today?

MORE 12/7/06

Heard some discussion on the Hannity radio show about America's lack of, for want of a better term, 'killer instinct'. In other words, the caller thought we should adopt a more Truman-esque policy in regards to the Middle East. But as Hannity pointed out, our respect for human dignity usually leads to an obsession with avoiding collateral damage at all costs, which leaves us vulnerable to those who make their living being ruthless. As we've seen, the result can lead to the embarrassing spectacle of having to call for cleanup artists like James "I told you so" Baker to show us the way out.

Hannity is correct (and by the way, props to him for ripping Tony Snow a new one on his Wednesday show, he deserved it). People still don't recognize the enemy, but he's plainly visible in most every heinous attack.

In the process of vilifying Bush, Bob Woodward inadvertently pointed this out in "State of Denial" by describing a conversation between King Fahd and Saddam after the 1979 Islamist attack in Saudi Arabia:
"Kill those people," Saddam advised Fahd. Fahd said when the militants were arrested, their leaders would be executed and the others would go to jail. "Oh my, I'm worried," Saddam said. "I'm embarrassed by your comments." Fahd asked Saddam what he meant. "In my mind there is no question you are going to kill 500. That's a given. Listen to me carefully, Fahd. Every man in this group who has a brother or father--kill them. Those 500 are a given. But you must spread the fear of God in everything that belongs to them, and that's the only way you can sleep at night."
This was Saddam's way, and no amount of deaths were too many in his quest to protect the empire. Just ask the Halabja survivors, one of whom vividly recalled in testimony today the smell of garlic or apples as Saddam's air force delivered a chemical attack against the Kurds (back before there was any question about the Butcher's WMD arsenal).

THE MEDIA THEN AND NOW 12/7/06

Newspapers were not shy about calling the enemy un-PC-like names back in 1941. Wonder if that drove the liberals crazy back then, too?

LAST 12/7/06

Allah points out the obvious--since when have we waged war in the press or through "Study Groups"? Even a kid playing with a GI Joe knows that's quite ridiculous. We can hope this is nothing but theater designed for the TV public and our enemies. Otherwise, we're doomed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This page intentionally left blank

As seen sometimes in manuals government reports, it's a weird phrase. The page isn't really blank if there are words there telling you it's blank. Anywho....speaking of blank..not a lot of focus today, so here are a few thoughts on stories making news..

Water found on Mars

Amazing. The world is apparently so screwed up that people don't seem excited. Now, had they verified 'the face' was real..

Cats at risk of Alzheimer's

Which only means they're living long enough to get it. Must be the cat chow.

Prince Charles--we're living on borrowed time.

Does anyone really listen to anything he says anyway? Especially on global warming.

Al Gore
I would urge the President to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for his mistake and instead recognizing that it is not about him. It’s about our country," Gore said in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer.
See above.

Iraq Study Group

Since this group was bi-partisan it was clearly intended to provide bi-partisan cover stories to extricate us from Iraq. We know this.

Ironically, Pelosi's new intel chief now agrees with McCain that we need more, not less troops. Maybe it's serious, but perhaps the notion has occurred to them that if the Democrats were to put an effort into winning Iraq it would be seen as their victory, with less credit going to the lame-duck president (who screwed it up). That would make the pro-war Hillary look better, especially in contrast to Gore (see above).

Weirdly, it would also benefit the entire country. Just think of it--a stumbling bi-partisan effort to make themselves look better that miraculously results in us winning, not retreating. Could happen.

MORE 12/6/06

LGF is worried about the ISG's recommendations pertaining to Israel, ie, giving back the Golan and retreating to 1967 borders. Ordinarily I'd agree, except for one thing:
RECOMMENDATION 16: In exchange for these actions and in the context of a full and secure peace agreement, the Israelis should return the Golan Heights, with a U.S. security guarantee for Israel that could include an international force on the border, including U.S. troops if requested by both parties
The Israelis are going to have to give a little more in this process to make it work. But such a huge cave-in would require either US, Aussie, or Brit troops along the periphery to ensure a big-stick deterrence in case on non-compliance. Otherwise, the ISG has wasted their time and our money.

MORE 12/6/06

Looks like the terrorists are weighing in on the ISG report. It's hard not to think this won't be a trigger for more violence in order to speed up the process. It's the MO of Saddam and his gang--see a weakness, exploit said weakness.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Plan 549

The conventional wisdom that we've already lost the war in Iraq is becoming more firmly-rooted with each passing day. To illustrate the extreme, this past Saturday the WaPo featured a piece by Douglas Brinkley about Bush's legacy with the following headline--Move over, Hoover.. The media and Democrats were similarly agog today over Robert Gates' succinctly negative answer to the question, "are we winning?".

While it's too early to make the win-lose call (which heavily influences Bush's standing in the history books) we're certainly not "winning" in the conventional sense at the moment. But if we're losing, and if it's a civil war, it was planned all along. Let's look back:
Five men met in an automobile in a baghdad park a few weeks after the fall of Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in April 2003, according to U.S. intelligence sources. One of the five was Saddam. The other four were among his closest advisers. The agenda: how to fight back against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. A representative of Saddam's former No. 2, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, was there.

But the most intriguing man in the car may have been a retired general named Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed, who had been a senior member of the Military Bureau, a secret Baath Party spy service. The bureau's job had been to keep an eye on the Iraqi military—and to organize Baathist resistance in the event of a coup. Now a U.S. coup had taken place, and Saddam turned to al-Ahmed and the others and told them to start "rebuilding your networks."
We've heard less about Yunis than al-Duri, which amounts to almost nothing. Just a column here or there, like this one from 2005 in US News detailing "Plan 549":
Plan 549, a document purporting to provide guidance from Saddam Hussein to his forces . . . calls for attacks on water plants. Such attacks could be devastating in terms of the populace's confidence in the coalition and public order."
The current discontent can be rooted to the administration's apparent obliviousness to the potential for such asymmetrical tactics.

And it's not like Bush 43 wouldn't have known. His cabinet was loaded with Gulf War experts and his own father was only a secure phone call away. To think he wasn't adequately warned about the potential after-effects is akin to believing that Elvis is still alive and working at a Wendy's in Detroit. Powell's "you break it you bought it" line still echoes.

Why then would he take the risk? Detractors might blame it on over-confidence, ignorance, arrogance, gullibility, Chalabi, Curveball, Saudi Royals, AIPAC, PNAC, Israel, Laurie Mylroie or the Czech Republic. We know his strategy was to stop "swatting at flies", but why choose Mesopotamian flies after admitting they didn't attack us on 9/11?

He also knew any preemptive war might be criticized ad infinitum by the WaPo and Times, or that certain MSM reporters might be tempted to embed with the opposition, such as Michael Ware. He had the luxury of seeing the MSM reaction to our Afghanistan campaign where the word quagmire was used within a month, and that was the so-called "just war".

He also knew of Saddam's disinformation apparatus, his cunning, and his ruthlessness. There were many examples of this from his own team, but in "State of Denial" Bob Woodward relays a conversation between Prince Bandar and Bush in 2002 regarding an exchange between Saddam and King Fahd:
At another time Saddam pointed to the people around him--high and low--and told Fahd, "They are the most loyal to me". "It is nice to be surrounded by the most loyal people", Fahd replied. "Oh, no, no, I didn't say that, Your Majesty," Saddam corrected. "I told you they were very loyal to me because every one of them, his hand is bloody. Every one of them knows that when I die, you will never find a piece this big from my body." Saddam indicated the smallest piece of flesh between his fingers. "I'll be cut to pieces, and if that happens to me, they're all finished."
So while the 40 pound brains at the Council on Foreign Relations like Joe Klein have already given this round to Saddam, the Commander-in-Chief keeps on keeping on. He should have expected the asymmetrical brutality. Perhaps he did.

But it's not exactly a given that Klein or anyone else in internetland possess a full set of facts. A previous paragraph mentioned that Bush has previously admitted Saddam had no ties to 9/11, but he's never said that Saddam had no ties to other terrorist acts against America. He's also never said word one about Iran's possible roles in previous attacks, which are legend.

The near future might bring some illumination to those looking closely enough. The terrorist surveillance program will soon come under the scrutiny of an anti-war chairman. Bush was careful to keep the circle of knowledge tight, so assuming he wasn't building the first block of a coming fascist utopia the only other plausible explanation was to address a very serious threat. If the Democrats quickly dummy-up and move on we'll know it's important.

More clues could come from, of all places, the Scooter Libby trial:
Libby's bid for classified information is significant for two reasons. If the government decides the material Walton orders released cannot safely be made public, the case could be dismissed. If the case goes forward and the evidence is allowed, the trial could offer a behind- the-scenes look at the White House in the early months of the war in Iraq.
That is, unless the greymail gambit is successful. If not, we may learn a tiny bit more about any unconventional threats that possibly influenced Bush's decision-making.

Glenn Reynolds has challenged bloggers to add value to the Iraq debate by organizing a blogstorm of new ideas and directions, which sounds like a great idea. But such an endeavor might be largely fruitless without knowing everything there is to know on the forces that drove us there in the first place.