Sunday, April 30, 2006

A few cards left to play

Reportedly, Tariq Aziz was recently approached by the British in hopes he might drop a dime on British MP George Galloway. We don't know exactly how the negotiations went, but probably not much better than previous efforts by our guys:
Mr Arief told The Times that his client has been interrogated 312 times by the CIA and UN investigators since his arrest in April 2003, but this was the first British approach
Captain Ed opined:
Aziz, for his part, is not likely to cooperate. He has steadfastly refused to testify to Saddam's crimes, rejecting all arrangements for immunity for his cooperation. .
That shouldn't be surprising, since dead men do very little talking. But in all honesty, maybe he's close enough to death's door that it behooves him to metaphorically throw down those thirty pieces of silver offered to him if he'll only betray Saddam and Iraq.

Or perhaps he might have concluded that Saddam's ability to avoid the hangman these past three years since his Baghdad statue was pulled down represents a signal that bargaining might not be necessary right now. For example, surely they anticipated scenarios like this from day one. And surely the old regime was not short on operatives:
Thirty-plus years of controlling nearly every inch of the country -- with the concomitant true-believers, spies and complicit criminals -- did not evaporate, overnight.
Hey, ya suppose those Ba'athists planning the insurgency were counting on support from this guy, the arch enemy to secular regimes worldwide? Tariq knows the answer to that, which should make us wonder if there are a few "cards" left to play.


Iraqi President Jalal Talibani recently met with seven insurgent group leaders and came away feeling pretty good:
"I believe that a deal can be reached with the seven armed groups that visited me," Talabani was quoted as saying.
So it's a breakthrough, he met with al-Zarqawi, right? Not quite.
According to the statement, Talabani said al-Qaida in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had declared a "genocide against the Iraqi people."

"But there are groups other than the Saddamists and Zarqawists who joined armed operations to fight the occupation, and we are trying to establish a dialogue with them so they will join the political process," he said
Yes indeed, they are the so-called 'liberal Sunnis' Z-man recently spoke of in his looney toons video production.

But this is old news. That same strategy has been in play for awhile--to drive a wedge between the nationalistic, religious Sunnis and the terrorists like Zarqawi and his Ba'athist cohorts led by al-Douri. Talibani didn't speak with the latter groups, as evidenced by this comment:
The spokesman of the Islamic Army in Iraq, Ibrahim al-Shammari, said his organization did not take part in a meeting but he did not say whether others did.

Talibani is a Kurd. There is no doubt some Coalition pressure on him to come up with a unity approach to the government, since neither Turkey nor Iran desire an independent Kurdistan and may be willing to spill blood to stop it. Both nations have already ventured across the border chasing Kurd "freedom fighters".

If Iraqis can't get themselves together and the nation splits in three, it's likely Iran would maintain significant influence over the Shia third, but more importantly, that's where most of the oil now exists. That fact coupled with Iran's 'blow em off the map' foreign policy suggests a strong likelihood something will be done about Ahmadinejad's nuclear toys before too long.


Nearly three years ago today a letter purported to be from Saddam Hussein arrived at the London offices of al-Quds al-Arabia. The Butcher was still in hiding at that point. Interestingly, the letter iterated what Saddam would later reiterate--Iraqis should not become embroiled in sectarian battles but rather should fight the infi, well here:
Forget everything and resist the occupation, because error begins when there are priorities other than the occupier and his expulsion. Remember that they are aiming to bring in those who will fight one another so that your Iraq will remain weak and they can plunder it as they have been doing..
Saddam also went on the laughingly suggest he had long since moved to a small bungalow and left his palaces to the Iraqi people, which gave the letter an air of propaganda at the time it was received. But looking back his concern was the same then as now--beware the divide and conquer.

There could be several reasons why he thinks we're actually trying to fan the flames of sectarian chaos. An obvious one would be concern for the greater Arab middle east. A more plausible reason might be Saddam's personal interest in not seeing Iran symbolically win the Iran-Iraq war.

Everyone knows that due to their minority status, the only way for the Saddamists to regain control of the country is through a unified Iraq, which keeps the Shia from absolute power and keeps Iran out. It's questionable whether a Sunni state would even be allowed to remain after a full blown civil war--to the victor go the spoils. But if so, it would be the geopolicially weaker of three territories and with less oil reserves. Strangely then, Saddam's goal seems the same as America's public position advocating a unified government.

It's impossbile to determine whether our military and political stategists considered the current problems at the outset. Conventional wisdom from MSM pundits, retired generals, ex CIA spooks and former State Department officials would seem to suggest otherwise, yet at the same time Saddam is adament it was our goal all along. If he's correct that would render all the incompetence stories as wartime disinformation.

Meanwhile, the Mullahs were very quiet during the first two years of the war, only to later uncork Ahmadinejad on the west as a scarecrow. Perhaps they bought into the unified Iraq theory early on, which lured them into meddling with the Shia factions only to suddenly realize that the destabilized Iraq they were helping to create would one day become a casus belli for interdiction further east. Hard to say, isn't it?

MORE 5/1

Joe Biden thinks he's got the solution to the Iraq problem. Funny, it's exactly what Saddam has been warning against. Speaking of the Butcher, he certainly is an enigma, even to his next door neighbors.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

On blogging

Donald Sensing recently reappeared on his One Hand Clapping site to talk about the solitary blogger, which he believes is the backwards-propagating wave of the past. On that I'd like to comment a bit.

He's right--it's hard for individuals to carry on blogging day after day and produce anything consistently worth reading while maintaining a family life, social life, or that necessary evil known as a full time job. The big bloggers like Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Josh Marshall and Little Green Footballs seem to have found the secret, but those are few out of millions. The rest of us just have too much to do.

Take today for example--gotta get some yard work done before the rain, kid is going to prom, relatives in town, honey-do's, you know the drill. Therefore, it's hard enough to get this post out, which as Sensing says is not liable to change the world. Heck, let's let him speak a moment:
But, as I noted in a comment at “Last Home,” the vast majority of blogs have low readership now, and by that I mean in the dozens. So did mine for a long time.

Different people blog for different reasons and 100 or so readers per day may be quite satisfactory to them. It was to me for a long time, too. I didn’t seek higher numbers, they just came. But the fact is that low-readership blogs are not significant in importance to the blogosphere at large, no matter how important they are to their authors or few-dozen readers.

Increasingly, team blogs and blogs integrating different media will dominate the ’sphere, By “dominate,” I mean attract the vast majority of readers and have the most influence in larger society. Yes, Logtar, I do know there are blogs that discuss knitting and they are important to their authors and readers, but frankly, get a grip: they are utterly unimportant to everyone else and have no effect whatsoever in larger society.

I’m not trying to demean those kinds of blogs at all; let me re-emphasize that they are obviously important to their authors and readers. But the vast majority of readers, as well as the ad money that blogs will increasingly generate, will revolve around fairly few blogs
He may be right, if we presume all bloggers are looking to get rich and famous or affect regional or national (or world) politics. For those looking to have impact on the local level, or to just issue a post about something that interests them every now and then, it doesn't matter. However, secretly I suspect that many of us want at least a sliver of richness, fameness or notariety or we wouldn't be here. It varies.

Like most sites, Fore Left was started as merely an alternative to message boards. I'd been wandering through that world since the 90s, but wanted a better way to offer my opinion, my voice, on current events and politics without being controlled by other forces. Although blogs can get nasty just like message boards, at least there is more personal control.

As to joint-effort sites, they are only easier if one doesn't maintain (and desire to keep) a personal site. In my case, Mainstreet Journal offered me the opportunity to contribute, which was both humbling and exciting, but admittedly it's been tough getting enough content together for both efforts. And that seems to prove the point he was trying to make, I believe.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Crime pays" walkout set for Monday

The big Cinco de Mayo walkout is coming Monday, and the Caleeforneeyah Senate lapsed into girly-man mode again and succombed to their illegal alien constituency to give an official thumbs up to people who want to shut down their state:
California's state senators on Thursday endorsed Monday's boycott of schools, jobs and stores by illegal immigrants and their allies as supporters equated the protest with great social movements in American history.

By a 24-13 vote that split along party lines, the California Senate approved a resolution that calls the one-day protest the Great American Boycott 2006 and describes it as an attempt to educate Americans "about the tremendous contribution immigrants make on a daily basis to our society and economy.
Wow. Don't they know the entire country sans American Indians are "immigrants" or descendents thereof? By the way, illegals might work hard, but they don't have the market cornered on hard work. Besides, those opposing illegal immigration aren't mad about work ethic, they're mad about law breaking.

Just take a gander at these unbelievable quotes from California, and keep in mind, these people are elected officials:
Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, likened the debate over immigrant rights to the fights over slavery, women's suffrage, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Uh, the Vietnam War?
America wouldn't have been created without illegal action, said Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys. "They dumped a bunch of tea in Boston harbor, illegally. God bless them," he said.
Sounds like this man is suggesting a revolution.
Several senators equated the protest with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and other major events in American history. Segregation was ended in part because of the public bus boycott by blacks in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, said Romero.
Perhaps he's right. Boycotts can often be effective. Citizens, including legal immigrants, should use May 1 to boycott businesses requiring people to choose English to conduct business or commerce. They should flood their congressmen with emails and calls demanding a plan to get control of the borders. They should demand people espousing Atzlan-type plans be tried under sedition laws or deported.

This is not about hating Mexicans. Heck, who could hate Salma Hayak? This is about keeping immigration orderly and maintaining respect for the rule of US law.

Oh, one more thing. Let's see those American businessmen and women who hire illegals and pay em under the table stand up, too! Get out there Monday and walk with the masses--identify yourselves and be proud. Maybe make a sign or two.

It's a war against oil

O'Reilly had Chuck Schumer on last night to talk about gas prices. Instead of the usual partisan fireworks we got softballs, which must indicate the level of pain he thinks 'the folks' are going through out in the hinterlands. It's funny, since guys like Schumer and O'Reilly are probably limo-d around town or to the airport to board their Gulfstream V's.

But Schumer isn't the only grandstanding congressman. Others are trampling all over themselves trying to get the best photo op locations in front of the nearby Quick Mart, as station employees are seen in the background using the long stick to increase the price. It's what they do best. After all, Drudge is splashing Exxon/Mobil's first quarter profits--over 8 billion. The WaPo has more, including this little factoid:
In January, Exxon posted the highest quarterly and annual profits of any U.S. company in history: $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005 and $36.13 billion for the full year.
Notice their fourth quarter profits were higher than the one Drudge is headlining. But still, record profits all around.

One might argue that it's just our capitalistic system at work and the profits are no different than those of Microsoft or Wal Mart. There is truth to that, but also some differences. Consumers may have a choice of which brand of gasoline to buy, but most don't have the option of not buying gasoline. It's simply irrational to suggest that bikes, walking or public transportation are viable alternatives for most people. Gasoline is a necessity item, plain and simple. When you call an ambulance do you want somebody to show up on a bicycle?

That's why it's illogical to ridicule a war as being 'a war for oil', as if trying to compare it to say 'a war for coffee'. A more apt comparison would be 'a war for water'. But, as our soldiers fight around the world trying to bring democracies to countries sitting on mountains of oil controlled by madmen it seems more than sleazy for the oil companies to be cashing in record profits. Wouldn't we be outraged if our local electric utility raised rates during the winter then took home record profits in spring? Oh, wait.

But talk is cheap. What can be done to dissuade such behavior without giving the guvmint too much control? Regulation is out--it never seems to benefit consumers. Schumer mentioned breaking up the oil companies, something that has precedent in this country, such as with the railroad robber barons in the 19th century (caution--I'm no expert on economics and didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night). But would breaking up the oil companies do anything to drop the price per barrel of oil?

The laughingly predictable Congress does seem genuinely concerned--in their tax revenue stream, that is. Here is Charles Grassley:
"I want to make sure the oil companies aren't taking a speed pass by the tax man," Grassley said in a statement.
Sounds like he's also lookin out for the folks--the IRS folks. But maybe I'm being too hard on him, since he was apparently a part of this idea: "Senate Republicans advocate sending $100 rebate checks to millions of taxpayers, and a Democrat is leading the campaign for a 60-day gasoline tax holiday." That's better--give some of that profit back to the people who paid it, not Congress who'll simply earmark it into the nearest pork barrel.

But did you catch that? The democrats have proposed a 60 day gasoline tax holiday, which amounts to a backdoor tax cut. Personally, I'd rather see a 100 dollar check from the Exxon guy with 3 chins, because it would be satisfying to contribute that money to Veteran support organizations or hurricane relief.

But these bandaid measures only represent election year shenanigans and won't address the root issue here, which seems to be an overall void of ethics at the top of the big energy corporations and the inability of the elected government to restrain them.
We certainly have some sticky questions to deal with regarding free markets and the energy sector after Enron, the California power debacle and this latest net earnings spike while troops are fighting.

Maybe Franklin was onto something when he said, "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." In other words, the best form of restraint for democracies and free markets comes from each and every individual involved in the process.

MORE 4/27/06

The Oil Drum has an explanation of the tangled web known as the oil business. The point of this post was not to delve into raw economics, rather it was to suggest that the image of record profits juxtaposed with current world events doesn't register right with most people. And of course to make fun of the nonsensical knee jerk from Congress.

What a lot of folks don't get is, 1) why the price of gas can fluctuate wildly both up and down rather than steadily rising like other commodities, and 2) the lack of any visible attempt at public releations, which suggests a raw arrogance. Years ago when the Valdez crashed in Alaska (due to negligence on the part of Exxon's captain) they blamed a subsequent oil price increase on the accident. The concept of supply disruption is one of the easiest to understand, but so is the concept of decency. It's precisely that "because we can" attitude that angers people, something the oil companies could certainly improve with a better PR department--if they wanted to.

THIS... 4/30/06

Summarizes the situation rather fairly.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Here come the Snow balls

Well, that didn't take long. The press release is hardly dry and the left is already taking shots at Tony Snow. You can find this shouting headline on the Huffington Post:
New WH Press Sec. Showed His Softer Side In 1989 Column Called "Sex, Sex, Sex"... "Sex Is Fun Only When You Do It Right".
Read the column posted and tell me what's wrong with it. Perhaps Arianna would be more comfortable with a mention of cigars?

Not to be outdone, one reader opined:
Re: Snow and Sex. Now that he's had a colonoscopy, I presume he can only be the 'Doer', not the 'Doee', anymore. Tell us, Tony, is sex only half the fun it used to be?
All I can say is Tony better check his skin thickness (caution--graphic language and moonbattery).

Closer to home the Tennessee Guerilla Women were not thrilled with Snow. Here's their headline: "Covering Dirty Snow". Click it if you can stomach it.

Crooks and Liars wasn't much different, but they did say something of merit:
Tony Snow might have said some things against this President in the past, but he is a cultist all the way and don't believe for a second that suddenly this administration will be forthcoming with anything new. It's all just spin. How many times will he say he "can't comment on an ongoing investigation?" He'll have a whole network coming to his defense like no other White House Press Secretary before him.
Do they not understand the role of the press sec? He's not up there at the podium to throw out dirt on the administration--besides, they get enough from ethics-challenged Clintonista bureaucrats under deep cover.

But ok, Fox News Channel will likely cut Tony, and hence the adminstration, a little more slack (if that's possible). How does that begin to balance the 80 percent of mainstream reporters/commentators who voted for Kerry and spin their way through the day sniping at Bush's heels?

The immediate ad hominem ground war is probably a signal of anxiety more than anything else. The media left understands Snow's potential, and they know it'll be harder to get any deer-in-headlight moments with him. It's also somewhat of a revelation of why Bush has resisted flipping his cabinet. Imagine the level of venom over a Rummy resignation and replacement.


From CBS online:
Veteran Republican retainer Tony Snow will probably be a better prevaricator-in-chief than either McClellan or Fleischer. Why? Because he is a confirmed ideologue who actually believes at least some of the big lies that he will be peddling.

From Macsmind a snippet of the press having a tizzy over Fox News being played in the White House.

Conventional wisdom strikes again

Conventional wisdom can be a stubborn thing. Weekly Standard columnist Thomas Jocelyn fires a shot at it today by telling us what the New York Times failed to regarding Mary McCarthy's 'good fight' against the Clinton attack on al-Shifa--she doesn't now deny the intelligence.

For perspective we need to look at Sudan's role in the GWoT. Most people familiar with current events might connect that African country with the genocide in Darfur (but how many realize it's Muslim versus Christian?). As to al-Shifa, nearly everybody thinks it was just an aspirin factory. You can partially thank Rush Limbaugh for that, by the way.

Reviewing briefly, Clinton bombed the chemical plant in Khartoum in the late 90s as retaliation for the Africa Embassy bombings. With the Lewinsky scandal in full bloom there was high speculation that Slick was just wagging the dog. Coincidentally, like Bush using portions of the 2002 NIE to counter allegations from Joe Wilson, Clinton allowed his cabinet to release bits of classified info on Sudan to back up the attack, the most famous being a sort of James Bond-ish tale that traces of a precursor to VX had been found in soil samples snatched outside the plant.

Media sources then began to report the plant was not a poison gas factory but rather made aspirin and antibiotics for third world poor kids. At this point the conventional wisdom began to take root. It was helped along by folks like Limbaugh and other conservatives who wanted to score political points against Clinton.

Interestingly, Clinton supporters still defend this move, as do folks like Clarke, Tenet, and Berger and apparently McCarthy. Ironically, this defense is akin to the Bush supporters who defend the Iraq war using fuzzy intelligence and circumstantial evidence. By the way, do the Clinton supporters realize that by defending al-Shifa they seem to be de facto espousing a Bushian pre-emptive doctrine?

Fast forward to now. The Times covered Ms. McCarthy's initial reservations on the bombing then stopped short, playing up the conventional wisdom aspect (just an aspirin factory) but failing to tell us the rest of the story. Let's let Mr. Jocelyn take it from here:
The Times left out, however, that McCarthy had changed her tune by April 2000. As Daniel Benjamin, a fellow NSC staffer, wrote in 2004:

The report of the 9/11 Commission notes that the National Security staff reviewed the intelligence in April 2000 and concluded that the CIA's assessment of its intelligence on bin Laden and al-Shifa had been valid; the memo to Clinton on this was cosigned by Richard Clarke and Mary McCarthy, the NSC senior director for intelligence programs, who opposed the bombing of al-Shifa in 1998. The report also notes that in their testimony before the commission, Al Gore, Sandy Berger, George Tenet, and Richard Clarke all stood by the decision to bomb al-Shifa. [Emphasis Added]
In retrospect it was quite prudent for Clinton to be concerned with Sudan. Hassan al-Turabi, the charasmatic leader of Sudan at the time, was widely rumored to be heading an effort to bring Muslim countries together to stand up to the United States, and part of that involved using resources and expertise from Iraq.

This was not unusual, since practically every story regarding state sponsorship of terrorism lacks a smoking gun but is awash in circumstantial evidence. That's by design of course. The primary evidence against Sudan was their previous harboring of Bin Laden, whom they later expelled. That along with revelations about al-Shifa might have closed the case for the media, but a deeper look seemed to legitimize the Clinton White House's concern:
The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."

The primary go-between throughout these early stages was Sudanese strongman Hassan al-Turabi, a leader of the al Qaeda-affiliated National Islamic Front. Numerous sources have confirmed this. One defector reported that "al-Turabi was instrumental in arranging the Iraqi-al Qaeda relationship. The defector said Iraq sought al Qaeda influence through its connections with Afghanistan, to facilitate the transshipment of proscribed weapons and equipment to Iraq. In return, Iraq provided al Qaeda with training and instructors."
Indeed, in their defense of McCarthy the Times was simply promulgating those old conventional wisdoms--that al-Shifa made aspirin and that Saddam was not a threat. Their goal was to put McCarthy's objections in context with critics on the right, which proves she wasn't capable of being partisan.

But as we've seen, Sudan is a bit more complex than that, and partisan politics are always going to be in play.


And that's not necessarily a bad thing. First it was George Clooney trying to bring light to the subject, now members of Congress. But others have been talking about the problem for years, such as Times columnist Nic Kristof, who won a Pulitzer for his work on the subject, which has included many personal visits to the region.

Maybe the publicity will bring Bin Laden's latest fatwa about Darfur into perspective. This article certainly shines a more strategic light on things:
Southern Darfur, like southern Sudan, is rich in oil. The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation holds the large oil concession in southern Darfur. Chinese soldiers are alleged to be protecting Chinese oil interests.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Zarqawi gambit

What's going on with this new video? Zarqawi is now fully visible, no mask, running around in the desert looking like GI Joe. And yes, it's definitely him (or the person we've been told is him). No CIA photo analysts needed--this blog alone has posted enough pictures of his ugly mug to verify his identity, including another one here.

Before proceeding further we need some clarification. It seems ridiculous to point out--but this tape is propaganda. I'm not saying the left or MSM won't say that, they just don't say it enough. But let them discuss DoD campaigns to buy access in Iraqi newspapers or reviews of Bush war speeches and just watch how easily it flows off the tongue.

As to Z-man, just a month ago we were told that the most wanted man in Iraq had been ostracized by his own--in effect 'busted down to a private' by the Shura Council of Mujahadeen in Iraq and removed from the political committee. The Counterterrorism Blog refined that a bit:
At the time, observers in the West thought this was a rejection of Zarqawi as a leader of al Qaida. In fact this was a move by other Jihadists to distance themselves from the misdeeds of al Qaida-Iraq. The "Leadership" didn't criticize Bin Laden per se, but said Zarqawi is deflecting energies by waging an indiscriminate religious war (takfiri) against the Shiites.
Previous stories had also claimed that Z-man had been driven into the hills by Sunni tribal leaders for apparently allowing too much collateral damage to fellow Muslims. Surely we can't forget that Golden Mosque thing.

So what can we make out of this recent move? Can it be coupled with Bin Laden's audio and the Egyptian attacks? Perhaps, but I think it illustrates al Qaeda's desperation over events in Iraq. Z-man's video was chock full of threats against participators in such, including so-called "liberal Sunnis", ie, anyone not a Wahhabist or Salafist.

Amidst all the analytical hoopla you'll probably not see much about the connections between Zarqawi and Ba'athist/Saddamist elements. Z-man's goals have always been simpatico with Saddam's, who was kind enough to invite him to the country before the invasion.

Whether Z-man actually later became a loose cannon is a good question and not easily answerable. Saddam criticized the Golden Mosque attack and it's hard to believe he would have approved of results of the Jordanian attack, either. It's quite possible they pulled him out of the game temporarily, but decided to re-enter him after the progress made with the new government.

By the way, just yesterday CNN headlined a story about Bush not getting a poll bump from his latest round of Iraq speeches (as if the whole thing were just a game). Wonder if they'll do likewise when this latest round of AQ propaganda falls flat?

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Fired CIA leaker Mary McCarthy has told Newsweek she didn't do it. Well, wrong--she told her ex-boss Rand Beers she didn't do it, the same Rand Beers who left the Bush administration due to ethical concerns over how the WoT was being waged.

The blog coverage on this has been comprehensive and places like Mac's Mind, Spook86, AJ Strata and Powerline have provided in-depth answers.

My only confusion comes from a perceived employment gap during the past few years after Bush took over. Here's how the Times described it:
But she did not return immediately to a new assignment at C.I.A. headquarters. She took an extended sabbatical at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization. In late 2003, she testified publicly before the 9/11 Commission about ways to reorganize the intelligence agencies to prevent another major terrorism attack.
So after dropping into this think tank, she then decided to return to CIA, presumably to complete her career and be eligible for retirement, which published reports say was imminent:
Several associates of Ms. McCarthy said she returned to the C.I.A. in 2004, taking a job in the inspector general's office. That year, public records show, she contributed $2,000 to Mr. Kerry's presidential campaign, identifying herself as a "government analyst."
There may be nothing sinister about her return to Langley, after all she probably needed a few more years to she could finish her career at the highest possible salary grade (the goal of every bureaucrat).

The key seems to be whether her extended sabbatical had anything to do with the eventual return; whether any famous players were involved; and whether the return was in any way some kind of "get Bush" parting shot. There is simply nothing heroic in leaking to the press, since she had other avenues available.


Dana Priest's employer has a new column claiming that Ms. McCarthy was not the source for their Pulitzer winning secret prisons story. Apparently this was confirmed by a CIA official, who leaked it to the Post under condition of anonymity.

He indicated the IG office where McCarthy worked would not have been privy to all the goop published in Priest's article, which listed sources as present and former intelligence officials in three countries.

But really, reading this article was like stepping into fantasy world, since we know the WaPo knows Priest's source just like they know Woodward's source, and probably Novak's for that matter. Heck, they probably know where Osama is, too.

Before this story gets rotated 180 degrees by the lefty blogoshere let's remember McCarthy has NOT denied 'inappropriate' contacts with the reporters, Priest being one of them. That's why they fired her. But this latest revelation certainly makes her sound more like a puzzle piece than the enchilada.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Bush - saving the world from chauvinists

Ever wonder why the women's rights groups such as NOW aren't more outspoken against the regimes of the Middle East for the way they treat women? Perhaps they know Bush is helping their cause.

Take Iran, for example. Ahmadinejad took time out from his nuclear caterwauling today to issue an edict--women can now attend soccer games! Surely cheers rang out from Tehran all the way to...well, whatever other major city exists in Iran:
Iranian women will be allowed to attend soccer matches for first time since the country's 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran's president said in a decree posted on his Web site Monday.
Islamists, soccer stadiums, women. The last time that trio was in the news heads were falling off. But before we go further, isn't such a decree almost like saying to an American women, "you are now free to attend the Tractor Pull"? Iranian women are probably sick of hubby watching sports anyway, so giving them access to the stadium is about as exciting as getting a new Hoover for Christmas.

Stangely enough, the story makes Ahmadinejad sound like a reformer--almost:
"Some consider women as the source of corruption and this is a very wrong attitude," he said. However, he added women sometimes expressed objectionable views, or what he called "ideas that are not related to Islam.".
Whew. He came close to sounding rational but managed to throw himself back into the abyss at the last second. But before you trash those Middle Easterners as backwards neaderthals, consider this story--"Women don't belong in the dugout":
"Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair?" Hernandez said. "What's going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout." Hernandez found out later in the broadcast that Calabrese was with the Padres training staff. "I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout," Hernandez said.
Ouch. Keith is the man--the man on the couch.

The important difference is that Hernandez is not likely to issue a fatwa or start a jihad over this. More likely a figurative version will be launched against him for his stupid remarks, which by the way wouldn't raise an eyebrow in many areas of the world.

We're getting towards a point here, so bear with me. Ahmadinejad's nonsense proves the Iranians have less a clue about how to handle the man versus woman thing than we do. While they continue following their old script, we continue writing notes in the margins of ours.

Maybe that old script was Mohammed's personal insight into how to deal with 'the problem', as much in play in the seventh century as today. The Muslims would say he was devinely guided, maybe, but for a dissenting voice consider checking out this Brigitte Gabriel interview.

We could get all sociological here and try to argue that western societies treat women more equally due to wealth, whereas poorer cultures still need a more patriarchal structure for survival. But that axiom seems to break down when considering some of the rich Middle Eastern countries who simply follow the book.

Lest you think I'm saying this provides a cassus belli for flattening the Middle East and liberating all their women you're wrong--live and let live is a good tenent for the most part. But...

And here's where Bush comes in. He's fighting Bin Laden, who is fighting to bring that paradigm to a neighborhood near you. If victorious it would make the rumored reversal of Roe vs Wade look like a reversed parking ticket by comparison. Look at it like this--Bush is fighting the good fight to keep the islamochauvinists at bay.

Come to think of it, wonder why the environmentalists aren't more outspoken in support of Bush. A world full of Islamochauvinists would probably bring barefooted pregnancies back into fashion. Even if you don't morally oppose such a thing it's unlikely the planet could sustain the growth very long without running out of resources.

So next time you raise a glass, say a toast to Bush. He's trying to save women's rights and the environment.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Bin Laden, live or memorex?

Osama peeped out of his cave long enough today to pass another cassette tape to an al Jazeera runner. Nothing sensational--the tape is full of the same tired litany calling for the brave Mujahadeen to rise up and kill everyfrigginbody in the west, basically because we haven't converted fast enough or died yet.

But as Austin Bay points out the tape contained some curious political calculations, such as calling on a jihad against people trying to stop genocide in Darfur. He even managed to tick off Hamas:
Responding to the tape, Hamas spokesman Sam Abu Zuhri said Hamas has "a different ideology" than that of al Qaeda.
Side note--anyone notice that since Hamas has become politically legitimate they now bristle at being called terrorists? That might be a good thing.

So, was the tape real? It certainly contained references to current events, such as the elections in Palestinia and even the Mohammed cartoons, with very little about Iraq since they haven't quite devolved into the planned civil war yet. But isn't it strange that as soon as one of these things pops out the 'intelligence community' is johnny on the spot to say, "yep that's bin Laden alright". You'd think we'd occasionally see a fake.

What about the rest of the world? Is the US intelligence apparatus the only deciding judge on bin Laden tapes? For example, we rarely hear the government of Brazil or Canada countering these claims. Surely they have some electronic techo-capabilities.

Add that to the fact we haven't seen a video of the bearded one in awhile and it almost suggests the CIA is making these things in the basement at Langley. Besides, according to Michael Ledeen bin Laden died in Iran last year.

I realize this all sounds impossible, since with all the patriot leakers working at Langley surely someone would have leaked it to the Times long ago. But if we are creating bin Laden in the laboratory one certainly might ask, "why?"

To win the war.

AQ can hardly announce he's dead without producing a body or giving themselves away. If Ledeen was correct about Iran harboring him (or his corpse) they could hardly give that up, either. The CIA is practically unfettered here, since anyone popping up to deny the tapes immediately becomes a suspect. That would also include bin Laden himself, since he can't realistically make a tape claiming his own tapes are fake because nobody would trust any future releases.

Yep, the CIA could do a lot of damage to the cause of worldwide Jihad by faking the tapes. Would they?

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Gulag" leaker fired by CIA

Captain Ed points to a breaking story about the CIA's termination of one of their own for leaking information about the secret prisons to the WaPo's Dana Priest.

The change in leadership is becoming obvious. Recall this same outfit previously allowed an agent, Michael Scheurer, to anonymously write a book critical of adminstration policies before the 2004 elections. Ironically, Scheurer was one of the founders of the CIA's rendition program, of which these secret prisons are basically an offshoot.

Here are a few questions swirling around in my head. One, how much pressure was put on Ms. Priest to give this guy/gal up, and if so, what did she get or not get? And two, are there any connections to the WaPo's recent administration-friendly columns about Plamegate?

All in all it's not surprising the admninistration went after this one hard. They've been extremely careful with operational security of those secret prisons, namely because they hold people like KSM and Binalshibh. They haven't allowed KSM to testify in person against terrorists like Moussaoui and Padilla for fear such a move could perhaps give away his whereabouts.


The WaPo weighed in on the firing, which was revealed as Mary McCarthy, a long time and fairly heavyweight employee in DC. The article suggests the investigation does not exclude reporters as well:
The CIA's statement did not name the reporters it believes were involved, but several intelligence officials said The Post's Dana Priest was among them. This week, Priest won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting for articles about the agency, including one that revealed the existence of secret, CIA-run prisons in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
The fact they gave Priest the Pulitzer for a story that ended up getting her source fired epitomizes the current low-level war going on between left and right in this country.

The CIA says 'more to come'--indeed, and from many angles. The left will surely counter with the hypocrisy card (Bush can leak for politics--Plame, but others can't) along with the obligatory Nazi references to Porter Goss. It's also interesting that Ms. McCarthy's name shows up in the 9/11 Commission Report mentioned alongside such luminaries as Richard Clarke and Sandy "sticky fingers" Berger.

ALL THE NEWS.. 4/22/06

The New York Times launched their port side shields today with a piece entitled, "Colleagues Say C.I.A. Analyst Played by Rules":
"We're talking about a person with great integrity who played by the book and, as far as I know, never deviated from the rules," said Steven Simon, a security council aide in the Clinton administration who worked closely with Ms. McCarthy.
Notice where this guy worked. The Times goes on:
Ms. McCarthy, who began attending law school at night several years ago and was preparing to retire from the C.I.A., may have felt she had no alternative but to go to the press.
After all, Bush is Hitler, right? The Times then had the pomposity to quote Larry Johnson, who's been retired from the CIA for a number of years, on what might have happened:
"It looks to me like Mary is being used as a sacrificial lamb."
Well, he did know both Plame and McCarthy. Wonder if Mary knew Val?

Everything seems to be adding up (which means it probably isn't). McCarthy might have been part of the anti-Bush cabal along with the VIPS people and others at State. She had a history with Rand Beers, who himself left the Bush administration, supposedly due to differences of opinion of how to handle the WoT.

But catch this. McCarthy left the CIA in 2001 and dropped into a think tank after Bush arrived, only to return to the CIA's IG office in 2004, just in time to leak the prison story. The comment above says she "might have felt she had no choice" but to leak. Strange for someone who just returned to the agency a year or so earlier. Wonder who hired her back? Perhaps knowing that would crystalize why she felt she had no choice. Maybe Mary was a sacrificial lamb after all.


Gotta get up early, but had a wild thought. On the same day McCarthy was fired, the New York Times put up this column entitled, "No Proof of Secret C.I.A. Prisons, European Antiterror Chief Says":
The European Union's antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe.

"We've heard all kinds of allegations," the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. "It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt."
So the EU says there might not even be any secret prisons, while McCarthy is fired for leaking such to the press. Keep in mind she returned to the agency in 2004. Is it possible she was brought in to do just that--to leak to the press about secret rendition prison sites, places we're keeping the AQ big boys, while in reality the real prisons are half a world away? The EU guys might be telling the truth, and if so maybe the CIA felt it was time to fire McCarthy and get the secret prisons in Eastern Europe story back out there.

A long shot yes. But we can say one thing with absolute certainty--nothing is as it seems in the Global War on Terror. And I'm quite sure that's by design.


As to the above, Wretchard said the same thing but painted a much better picture:
We are in a Wilderness of Mirrors indeed. ... in Washington politics, like the gravitational field of a massive Black Hole, distorts everything. In regions sufficiently close to the political event horizon truth and facts simply cease to exist.

[Blogger errors are bugging me today. Post went away for awhile, trying to get it back.]


It's interesting to observe how the lefty blogosphere is handling the CIA firing story. Most aren't doing much, and those who are have generally keyed on comments made by VIPS member Larry Johnson. Allow me to summarize Mr. Johnson's story, since it's just too good to pass up.

He begins by trashing McCarthy, admitting that she was his ex-boss and basically the reason he left the agency in the late 80s. According to him her lousy management skills were too much for him, so he quit.

After cleverly removing the 'she's a buddy' line of thought, he proceeds to defend her by giving us random scuttlebutt about her role in CIA, which he appears to know very little about. He opines she was probably scapegoated because she couldn't possibly have access to the information without being an agent, but then says she might have indeed had access through the IG's office, since surely someone was running an investigation on the secret prison operation.

Assuming the latter to be true, he breezed right past the ethical problems of a CIA officer violating their contract and security clearance by leaking--anything. Whether it's right or wrong, his failure to even comment on that should tell us something about his mindset.

He ends by dropping Scooter Libby's name before calling her a 'hero', that is, if she actually did it. After all, in his opinion the American people have a right to know--apparently everything, more specifically everything Bush and Cheney are doing.

If that's all the left side has for rebuttal on this story they're in a world of hurt. Here's something else comical. A poster over at Daily Kos thinks the NY Times is shilling for Bush. It's amazing to think anybody could seriously believe that.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hooray for Dr. Wang

The woman who heckled Chinese President Hu is the big story today no matter what the MSM does with it. This event stands to upstage the entire visit, simply because it was something that needed to be done--and simply because we know the Chinese leader won't be saying anything important anyway.

Reaction is mixed so far. Not sure if the following represents mock outrage, feigned indignation, or something else entirely:
It's hugely embarrassing," said Derek Mitchell, a former Asia adviser at the Pentagon and now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China "must know that this Bush administration is good at controlling crowds for themselves, and the fact that they couldn't control this is going to play to their worst fears and suspicions about the United States, into mistrust about American intentions toward China."
Let's clear up the suspicions--we don't trust China either, and communism still sucks.

But to answer his insinuation, there will certainly be speculation as to whether the event was orchestrated by Karl Rove as one final political stunt for the road before being un-portfolioed. It makes sense--Bush certainly can't talk smack like that to a leader without causing an international scene, so why not use a proxy? It would be nice to think he's capable of such a thing. Meanwhile, the MSM is more enamored with the fact Bush finally apologized for something.

As to the hypocrisy angle (the right is always condemning people for interrupting Bush's speeches) there's a tad of that here, but people holding that view should consider the consequences of similar outbursts in China. If the Kos kids moved to China they'd soon see four interior walls without passing go. Meanwhile Bush-bashing occurs here on a daily basis and nobody ends up disappeared or dead. The Chinese president desperately needed an earful of dissent. After all, he's fouling up the air, making bombs and missiles and sending people to secret prisons just like Bush is accused of doing.

With that you'd think the collective left would rise up in full support of Dr. Wang, but so far there doesn't seem to be a groundswell. We might also expect a fair and balanced left to immortalize Dr. Wang just like they do everytime an audience member stands up and courageously questions a republican. We'll see.

In the meantime somebody should introduce Mr. Hu to Mr. Wu:

UPDATE 4/22/06

Well, this stinks.

edit for grammar

Don't throw Moussaoui in the briar patch

With all due respect to Debra Burlingame, the 9/11 families testifying on behalf of saving Zacarious Moussaoui from the death penalty are not necessarily doing him any favors.

Right now there are two roads lying before him, one leading to a potentially long and boring life at the Supermax in Colorado, the other dying a martyr's death for jihad. Taking the second road might seem more attractive for a person who believes that holy virgins will be his next visual image after the switch is flipped. Besides, the second option might also allow for a few last minute points to be scored for the cause, ala Mel Gibson's freedom moment in Braveheart.

Moussaoui even seemed to cover another by-product of a life sentence, which is that the government could use him as a bargaining chip at some future date. Perhaps he was trying to poison the well, but it's questionable whether AQ would even want him based on what KSM told us. Still, it seems to be an argument against letting him live, in effect 'throw me in the briar patch'.

To be honest, there are far fewer family members speaking in favor of sparing him than those wishing to fry him. But one could make the argument that to forgive is the Christian way, and one could also argue another way:
Asked why she opposed a death penalty, she said, "Moussaoui is the wrong person to be on trial. There are people in the custody of the U.S. government who were central planners." She called Moussaoui's role in 9/11 "marginal."
That's a good question. Both the perpetrators of actual attacks on the World Trade Centers are still breathing air, while a man who was caught in the act of trying to crash a plane also has a life of prison food ahead of him. Why kill Moussaoui?

All factors considered it seems death would be the easiest way for him. If enough 9/11 families manage to sow a seed of forgiveness in the jury's hearts and they reject death, life in lockup might be the most fitting punishment for this man.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bartender, I'll take a shot of Gipper, please

While everyone focuses on 'the failures' in Iraq, quietly Afghanistan has turned sour. Several reports of late suggest the Taliban under Mullah Omar is regaining territory, and we've seen a spike in attacks along with more casualties inflicted on US troops, who call it "the forgotton war".

Supposedly the Pashtun area is still fiercely loyal to Bin Laden and crew, who's still at large unless he's dead, but we don't know. Add to that recent stories that the poppy trade is flourishing and you have a developing mess. It's doubtful we'll ever have an impact on wild west places like Waziristan and Balochistan.

What to do. Right now there is a NATO force on the ground with troops from many nations participating, including France. We can maintain status quo, increase, or decrease. If Taliban operations increase our current force levels would appear inadequate, so the solution might be to lobby foreign participants to ramp up their contributions while we deal with Iraq. That's iffy. On the flip side, if we decrease force levels the Taliban will likely take more real estate. Surely we don't want our fallen warriors to have died in vain.

Americans have a trait of 'moving on' to the next battle once the first is considered won, which is the mark of an achieving civiliation. Most people consider Afghanistan won, since we defeated the Taliban in 2001 and set up a new government with elections and all. Problem is, these guys aren't all dead yet, especially their fearless leader. We all know that patience is one of their few virtues.

Politically speaking the 64,000 question to be answered in November is whether the American electorate will display the will to continue fighting by keeping the status quo. In light of the backsliding in both Iraq and Afghanistan coupled with zero follow-on attacks since 9/11, it's possible many will view continued fighting as not worth the trouble, or that a retreat wouldn't be so bad.

Until then the magic of the internet will bring us excellent coverage from sites such as the Counterterrorism Blog and Michael Yon reporting from the ground.

Nobody said the War on Terror was going to be a cake walk. There may be darker days ahead. Matter of fact, here's what someone actually said regarding the subject:
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. .
I confess the original title of this post was going to be "Afghanistan is not looking good". But I got to thinking about those words from that emotional speech back in 2001. Here are a few more:

"We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.".

He went on to say life would return to a sense of normalcy, which it has. He also asked us not to forget 9/11, and most haven't. But somehow, through all the turmoil those words have gone pale. A leader's job is to inspire, but it seems the current leadership is running a little low on that of late. A shot of Gipper would do wonders about now.

The science of hyperbole

Take a few recent weather events with a dash of 'sky is falling' science and what do you get? An all time high in the level of global warming noise. Strangely, not all of the nonsense is coming from the far left.

Science says we ARE warming. There is consensus. Any climatologist or meteorologist worth their salt would not disagree based on the past 30 years of observational and satellite data. The problem has always been in the trigger for such warming. There is simply a lack of long-term quality data to support anything more than educated guesses regards causation. Ideally, scientists would like to have thousands of years of instrument or satellite data before making any wild assumptions, but it just ain't there.

Pointing that out doesn’t mean carbon isn’t helping to superheat the planet, it just means prudence suggests we have to be careful coming to conclusions based only on proxy data from tree rings and ice cores. After all, they don't call it ‘proxy’ for nothin'.

However, let's be fair here and point out obfuscations from the right when they occur. The Washington Times and other right-leaning news outlets seized on a recent story in the London Telegraph in which paleoclimatologist Bob Carter from the James Cook University in Australia that global warming stopped in 1998. In essence this gentleman is correct—there has been a leveling of global temperature since the late 90s. But take a look at the chart for yourself.

Looking at the graph I don’t think any reasonable person can say the recent leveling represents a conclusive end to global warming.

But enough conservative bashing, let's get back to picking on the left. The bothersome thing about all the warming mitigation strategies is they seem to be the exact same solutions the liberals would choose if global warming didn't exist and they ruled the world. A skeptical person might be skeptical.

Together with the media the left has largely set up a consensus wall around this issue, in effect crushing dissent. One of the champions of the cause, NY Times writer Paul Krugman, recently illustrated this:
Over time, the accumulation of evidence removed much of that uncertainty. Climate experts still aren't sure how much hotter the world will get, and how fast. But there's now an overwhelming scientific consensus that the world is getting warmer, and that human activity is the cause. In 2004, an article in the journal Science that surveyed 928 papers on climate change published in peer-reviewed scientific journals found that "none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position."
This was passed from a friend, and I suppose it’s behind the Times Select firewall. I suppose you'll need to part with some jingle to read the rest of it. The point here is Krugman's attitude suggests there’s no need for any further research, everything is already settled. He tells us that global warming skeptics, roughly all 12 of them worldwide, were being propped up all along by that evil white guy with 3 chins who just golden parachuted out of Exxon-Mobil.

But since we used a chart to slap around the right, here's one to slap around Krugman. This by the way, was gleaned from proxy data, too. Take a look and see if you think our recent warming is out of line, geologically speaking. It certainly points out what one can do with a chart.

This story was long ago hijacked by politics and hyperbole, with left and right both displaying tunnel vision. Both are seeing trains. Legitimate global warming science should be more about right or wrong than left and right, but movies such as "the Day After Tomorrow" or skeptic web sites pretending warming isn't occurring does the common man no good.


Hillary on Bush's policies:
"The results are all around us," she says, citing "more greenhouse gases, global warming, rising seas, more violent storms like Katrina."
That's perhaps one of the most irresponsible statements ever made by a politician. That alone is reason enough NOT to vote for this woman for any elected office, any time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hear no evil, speak no evil

Don't fault the democrats for not having a plan, they do. It's been in force ever since the first mention of 'quagmire' in Afghanistan and continues to this day. It's pretty simple--make people forget the 90s.

No need to paste up all the links to MSM articles or esposes from the Clinton era. Likewise no need to dig out the stories told by Clinton cabinet members about how threatening Saddam was. No, a strange blanket of amnesia has washed over the collective soul of the port side that prohibits any memories regards terrorism or Iraq back past 2001.

Case in point, Patrick Fitzgerald recently reflared the Plamegate story by issuing a misleading filing that all but suggested Bush had placed a hit on Joe Wilson, only to correct the record the next day. By then the damage was done, as nearly every major paper had all but impeached Bush already.

But not all lefties sent their intellectual honesty packing after Bush vs Gore was decided. One is Christopher Hitchens, a stalwart in support of ousting Saddam during the 90s, who still feels that way today despite the high tide of Bush lied rhetoric coming from his compatriots.

Plamegate illustrates the fact the MSM likes to boil down certain stories into little packages of conventional wisdom, in this case that Joe Wilson's a hero. They do so by quietly ommitting or obfuscating certain factual aspects that tend to crack that wall.

Hitchen's latest column lays out a direct challenge to that. He asks Joe Wilson to explain the goings-on in Niger before Joe got there in 2002, and to tell us why that event wasn't important. The piece, entitled "Clueless Joe Wilson", details the 1999 trip taken by an Iraqi envoy to Niger, which might as well be called Yellowcakeland.

Shift to another example. The recent attacks on Secretary Rumsfeld featuring ex-generals were seized upon by the MSM as more evidence of Bush failure. One of the generals involved was Anthony Zinni. It took sites like Newsmax and World Net Daily to uncover his past comments in front of Congress about Saddam, which sounded like a Bush speech. Now he seems to have fallen into the same memory vacuum that later enveloped John Kerry.

The debate about going into Iraq is fine, it's healthy. But it's irresponsible for the mainstream press to allow certain individuals to continually suggest the Iraq intel cited by Bush was twisted or outright made up without first questioning why those same folks were once singing the same tune. The inability to ask these probing questions suggests that some of our truth warriors are nothing but partisans who consider personal politics and 'day job' as one and the same.

Right in front of our noses

Leave it to bloggers to unearth truths about the immigration issue while the Pulitzer-eligible news outlets celebrate trophies received for things like exposing secret terrorist surveillance programs and the facilities used to house them. Sorry, couldn't resist. Allow me to suggest a few great blog posts, in case you haven't already seen them:

Always on Watch has a fantastic post about how America profits off illegals. This is tied to the story detailing the fact that many illegals already have jobs lined up when they cross the border.

LASunsett at Political Yen/Yang points out the new Georgia law restricting the services available to illegals, and Debbie at Right Truth links to and provides comment on Bill West's Front Page column detailing the laws we already have on the books to deal with illegals--laws that our government seems happy with ignoring.

It's seems pretty clear from these posts why the illegal immigration problem hasn't been fixed. It's right in front of our noses.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The special ammunitions move

Powerline details one of the most recent DOCEX Iraqi government documents that talks about "special ammunitions". This nomenclature was previously used by the Iraqis to specify WMD munitions (specifically chemical, but possibly biological).

Former inspector Ray Robison thinks the materials were moved from Najaf just before an UNMOVIC team arrived, and has a few links suggesting the Najaf site (once suspected of being a dual use chem weapons facility) was being cleaned out.

One of the more interesting books on the Iraq war so far is "The Secret History of the Iraq War" by Yossef Bodansky. The author seems to have access to loads of secret information on this issue, quite similar to his book on Bin Laden published before 9/11, which seemed to verify. Matter of fact, there's so much the average reader might wonder if some of it was simply made up.

Bodansky had some things to say about special ammunitions during the run-up to the invasion. He claimed several Iraqi divisions were equipped with chemical-tipped artillery shells, which were being moved around during the preceding months. This latest secret document would seem to verify those claims.

But true or not, let's review what we already know. We know Saddam had chemical tipped artillery shells because we found a few. We know he had once used airplanes to fog the Kurds with chemicals. If this doc is correct it brings into question the veracity of all the Iraqis who were interviewed post-invasion by the ISG/Duelfer group. It also brings up two rather obvious questions. One, "why didn't they use them", and two, "where are they now"?

Of course there's another possibility, which is that everyone thought there were special ammunitions but in reality they were just the regular variety. This was the conclusion of the Joint Forces report a month or so ago.

But if they were real, there's yet one more question, which is a bit more nasty to consider. What if Saddam got some of this technology from the west during the Iraq-Iran war? What kind of chilling effect would such a thing have on the discovery process, if any?

If so, it really wouldn't change the equation of having to topple the dictator, and it wouldn't absolve the dictator from his previous uses of said ordnance. It might change how people think about the whole thing. Interestingly, we may see some light on this subject soon since Saddam has been charged with the Halabja gassing, and the case might go to court next month.

We are not animals, we are Iraqis

This piece shines light on how some in the US media might be portraying the Iraq situation.

ht Jim Rose

Nashville tornadoes and Bush?

The twisters that recently racked the Mid-South and Mid-State were captured on many forms of video. One such form was a Gallatin patrol car camera, which the Tennessean features here. It's 39 seconds of chilling footage showing a true Wizard of Oz type funnel seen moving from right to left across the screen. Imagine yourself in that scene, what would you do?

Why the reference to Bush? It's probably nothing, but grabbing the video required opening the properties box, and that's when it jumped out. Take a look:

Image Hosted by

Notice the "will open in" section.

Surely there's an innocent explanation. Maybe someone at the paper is named Bush, or it's the nickname of a reporter, photographer, or even a file server (if you know a few IT folks, you won't laugh). Surely it wouldn't have anything to do with the President named Bush who refuses to sign on to Kyoto.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Jackson's bait shop back in business

The Duke lacrosse story hasn't really interested me so far. It seemed illogical to believe that either of the following two scenarios (or both) could not have easily occurred:
1) that a group of college-aged boys, especially those involved in sports, would be incapable of hiring a few strippers then wanting a bit more for their money, or,

2) that hired strippers of questionable character were incapable of making up a rape story against rich white boys to get some easy money.
That's not to say the story wasn't news and blogworthy, it was. I just decided to watch it from the sidelines. But after the latest twist, I can no longer sanctimoneously pretend to remain above the fray:
DURHAM, North Carolina (AP) -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition would pay the college tuition of a black woman who alleges white members of the Duke University lacrosse team raped her.
Amazing. After his own scandals and the failure to garner enough outrage to flip the last two elections it seemed that Jackson had been rendered insignificant. But this latest attempt at pandering is one for the hall of fame. After all,
Jackson he has yet to speak with the woman, but said his group pledged to pay for her tuition even if her story proves false.
Gee, one would think before cutting that tuition check he'd at least want to look her in the eye, since if the story turns out Tawana Brawley-ish then Rainbow/PUSH will in effect be rewarding bad behavior.

But aside from such an obvious perplexity, if I'm reading this correctly the story suggests Jesse's organization might be suffering from the same cutbacks faced by the rest of America--consolidation and downsizing.

For example, this was a telephone interview. In the past Jesse would always show up at the scene and well, make a scene. Does this signal that he's now content with phoning in his scenes? Surely he still has a travel budget.

Whatever, I suppose this new downsized Jesse has already considered his next move should the worst case occur. He'll probably take a cue from Hillary on the illegal alien story and use the Good Samaritan defense, scorning detractors that persecuting his good deed amounts to persecuting Christ, while simultaneously inferring they probably wear Hitler underoos to bed. Knowing the MSM, such a strategy might work.

The pertinent question is whether this move represents a final hoorah for Rainbow/PUSH or perhaps a new awakening. People like me aren't the target of his message so it's hard to tell. But there seems to be a leadership struggle going on within the black community, and it will be interesting to see if Jackson's victim-pandering strategy can win the day over tough-love messages like this one.

edit for grammar

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A long hard look in the mirror

It's been relatively easy to avoid posting about every off-the-wall comment made by Ahmadinejad and the Mad Mullahs. Such stuff gets tiresome after hearing it five or six times, and let's face it, how many more ways can they express their desire to blow Israel off the map?

So I was tempted to react accordingly to their latest can of blowhard, but something seemed different. See what you think:
"I would advise them to first get out of their quagmire in Iraq before getting into an even bigger one," General Safavi said with a grin.
Do you sense almost a pride of accomplishment there? Here's what one of the Ayatollahs was heard to say:
At a Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Janati simply branded the US as a "decaying power" lacking the "stamina" to block Iran's ambitions.
Actually, sounds like a few comments out of a Howard Dean speech. But there's something more than just the usual "we will crush you" cacophony, it's a sort of "smell off the pile" thing--that America is a nation in decline and they are helping us get there.

This topic occasionally comes up amongst friends and invariably leads to the conclusion that America may indeed be past her prime. The obligatory comparisons to the Romans seem borne out by our levels of selfishness, greed, envy, lust, and arrogance, further illuminated by barbarian terrorists nipping at our heels while illegal aliens pour across the borders only to later march in our streets demanding rights. Poker is now seemingly on every channel 24/7, and the internet is one giant pseudo whore house.

We worship at the alter of tatooed-up, artificially enhanced athletes or fake tanned, fake boobed contestants on 'reality shows'. Our music as a whole, both black and white, has largely gone into the crapper compared to the 20th century.

Artifacts like the Ten Commandments or the 'Do Unto Others' creed have become quaint loser-speak and are doomed to disappear from the public consciousness. Christmas and Easter have become more about sales worship than deity worship. Simultaneously we treat the Mohammed figure with kid gloves to avoid an Islamohooligan butt-whipping or ruination of that almighty bottom line.

I fully realize this is totally in the eye of the beholder. Many would disagree with the characterization, but it sure seems the Iranians agree. They read CNN, and see Bush's dwindling approval numbers and hear the discord in the press. The resulting strategy is to go on the offensive, something sports fans should admire. It's similar to a baseball pitcher coming inside on a player recovering from a broken wrist, attack the weakness. America is strung out far and wide trying to defend the resources we're addicted to and the countries we've pledged to support, so there's a sly sense of "we've got your right where we want you" in their latest blubberings.

And our response? Tell me, do these comments from our Secretary of State give anyone a sense of confidence?
"There is no doubt that Iran continues to defy the will of the international community," Rice said, after Iran also dismissed a personal appeal from the UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei
Iran's response?
"She is free to say whatever she wants," the president replied when asked to respond to comments by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighting part of the UN charter that provides for sanctions backed up by the threat of military action.

"We give no importance to her comments," he said with a broad smile.
Such brazen arrogance should give pause, if nothing more than to resist the suggestion for Bush to just launch the damn missiles now.

I suspect their grins might emanate from a realization of a plan coming together, at least from their perspective. It's possible the entire war on terror was cleverly engineered by a cabal of Muslim countries with the goal of drawing us into a war we couldn't win like the Soviets before us. Bin Laden has admitted as much.

And he certainly tied our hands. We had to destroy the terror camps and those running them in Afghanistan. And although invading Iraq was debatable, nobody can argue that an Iraq with Saddam and his cozy relationship with Arafat was ever going to allow for Middle East peace.

So we're left in a tenuous, seemingly endless war. The treasury is being drained just when the boomers are about to collect social security. And while I think my parents might say that things looked gloomier in 1942, the wildcard in 2006 is the American public. Our blizzard of good fortune over the years has made us a soft and complacent nation.

Perhaps we might benefit from a look in the mirror. Is there some truth in what Ahmadinejad and his deranged buddies are saying about us? Are we willing to fight this fight with all our might if that's what it takes? Or are all of us, your humble correspondent included, just too accustomed to the 'good life' to make the effort? I'm not saying it's our fault entirely or that we should fold our tents and retreat to the horizon. I really don't know. But sometimes an offhand comment from a friend or even terrorist enemy can help us see things a little bit clearer.

MORE 4/15/06

While I suspect Richard Clarke might be correct in his assessment about the by-products of an attack on Iran, the problem with such pontificating is to ignore solutions. For example, short of an attack, what do we do, Mr. Clarke? The Mullahs are laughing at the world's hollow threats.


Offered by Mark Steyn:
President Ahmadinejad, who is said to consider himself the designated deputy of the "hidden Imam," held a press conference this week -- against a backdrop of doves fluttering round an atom and accompanied by dancers in orange decontamination suits doing choreographed uranium-brandishing. It looked like that Bollywood finale of ''The 40-Year-Old Virgin,'' where they all pranced around to "This Is The Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius."
It's funny, but like most everyone else he's clear on what NOT to do, but kinda fuzzy on the alternative.


It's a long piece, but required when trying to cover all the possibilities in this convoluted thing.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Hypocrisy Central?

By now most everyone knows that Comedy Central banished South Park's Mohammed character to the cutting room floor in a recent episode. I think Blogger terms of service requires me to weigh in as well.

A quick bit of perspective. Back when the Mohammed cartoon flap was in high gear my opinion was they shouldn't be published, not because of the riots that might ensue but because they just seemed in poor taste. Using the 'do unto others' clause in the Good Book I tried to imagine someone from Islam creating images of Christ hopping around on a pogo stick or wearing a clown suit, and therefore figured the Muslims probably didn't care seeing their revered Prophet with a bomb on his head.

Yep I know the Muslim press has done worse to the Jews in print, but the Jews really don't have an icon or Godhead per se. Remember, Catholics are pretty sensitive about the Pope, too. And yes, the subsequent rioting was riduculous and uncalled for, but in the end we're all responsible for our own actions.

Does saying that force me into siding with Comedy Central on this? Yes and no. They have the right to refuse publication of anything they consider offensive--it's their network. Stopping the broadcast of material considered to be in poor taste doesn't equate to censorship. Moral lines do exist in broadcast television.

But here's the 'no' part. Comedy Central already allows negative depictions of Jesus on their network (check Malkin's post). South Park itself has a Jesus character. That certainly leaves the impression their veiling of Mohammed was really a weak kneed wilt in the face of more Islamic cartoon hooligans.

Fine, they'll be spared the protesters now, but if Comedy Central really wants to avoid the hypocrisy label they'll either show the Mohammed character or ban airing of ALL religious icons. Surely they care about everyone's feelings.

The ReNu snafu

As a long-time contact lens wearer the news about ReNu solution hit close to home, since I just rinsed off my contacts with it this morning. It's a great product, but I guess every great product eventually comes into some controversy:
U.S. health authorities are looking into 109 cases of Fusarium keratitis, a rare fungal infection that can cause permanent vision loss if untreated.

People in 26 of those cases said they used ReNu products or generic versions made by
Bausch & Lomb. Most of the patients reported using ReNu with MoistureLoc manufactured at the company's U.S. factory, it said.
26 out of 109 doesn't necessarily sound so bad, but here's the catch--they've only reviewed about 30 cases so far.

The company issued a statement in several newspapers and on their company website today, which convinces me to cease and desist until further info becomes available.

This is smart business. Anytime such allegations surface it's best to proactively remove the product for a short while and investigate rather than falling prey to the natural human tendency to defensively deny everything. And while I'd like to believe Bausch and Lomb cares deeply about me, I know they really care more about the bottom line. But that's ok, since an unsafe product doesn't make much money.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The root of the Aspen

Scooter Libby's team didn't waste time in taking the offensive Wednesday after Patrick Fitzgerald admitted his earlier filing was a misrepresentation of the facts.

You can read all about it at the usual places, including this one. Right now it looks like Fitzgerald has been caught with his finger in the witch hunt jar, but surely the case will go back and forth. Perhaps next we'll see an indictment of Rove to even the score.

I'm more interested in talking about who's responsible for this whole Plame mess. No, not Bush, he's just a player. The culprit has lately been seen running off at the mouth making political speeches in his war crimes trial. It's our evil friend from Baghdad.

The Bush clan must truly hate the man, and the love has been returned in kind. Anyone who'd commission a picture of their adversary onto the floor of a hotel is surely a man who enjoys holding a grudge.

But before you liberals go calling this evidence of a personal grudge, just remember the snits and fits he caused Clinton and his cabinet members. Matter of fact, he turned the whole danged intelligence establishment on its ear, and those guys don't take kindly to being made fools of. Neither do generals.

It doesn't take a psychic to figure out how much interagency finger pointing must have taken place after it became clear how Saddam snookered everyone by destroying, moving, or never having those dastardly WMDs. It must have been breathtaking. Certainly embarrassing. It was later revealed the regime had several ringers in the employ of the CIA feeding them bogus intel, both within Iraq and elsewhere. One was the notorious Curveball, while others were involved in fakeries related to where Saddam might be spending the night or dining, for example. After such a flop it's not surprising these experts might later leak like the Titanic.

But I ask you, after having caused such worldwide mayhem how can this man continue to live while his adversaries boil in political oil? Surely there are lots of potential hazards present in his secret little jail, like perhaps carelessly placed bars of soap in the shower or maybe some tainted couscous. Yet like Gloria Gaynor he survives, and his supporters keep supporting. Must be teflon. Or something.

edit for spelling/grammar