Monday, July 31, 2006

The US Department of Pandora's Box

In case you missed it, the Washington Post had a lengthy story in their Sunday edition on a subject many folks seem to be allergic to--bioterrorism.

The story detailed a new bioweapons research facility the Feds are building on the grounds of the Army's existing Fort Detrick bio-research facility near DC. This new lab will study ways of defeating germ warfare attacks.

Apparently the beginnings of the "NBACC" were secretly commissioned after the anthrax letter attacks that followed 9/11. In a fit of irony, as the mew Homeland Security folks were putting together the NBACC the FBI was across town pointing the finger at Steven J. Hatfill as a 'person of interest' in the attacks.

But that wasn't the only bizarre business going around in late 2001. Odd things were happening to noted bio-researchers all over the world, including one strange event here in Memphis. From Front Page Mag in 2002:
Are these coincidences like what followed France’s announcement decades ago that it would develop H-bombs, when within weeks thereafter 14 of the top people in France’s nuclear program died in mysterious airplane crashes?
The WaPo wasn't interested in that angle. Their five page expose focused almost entirely on privacy concerns, escaped virus potential and whether the lab represents a violation of existing bio treaties. There was a passing mention of the anthrax letter attacks, but it passed pretty fast.

But it's hard to argue against sharing at least some of their concerns. Although the entire building will essentially be a secure clean room, and although we need research facilities to study ways of defeating bioterrorism, at the same time--damn. Try reading John Nance's "Pandora's Clock" and you'll catch my drift.

Oddly enough, this didn't appear to be another leaked story. On the contrary, the article quoted officials with the facility, therefore it seems the govmint might have wanted this story on the streets. That should probably tell us something.

But what? Was the creation of the facility evidence the letter attacks were from terrorists and not a lone mad scientist? Are we still at risk from those perpetrators, or do we have the threat contained? Is the facility itself designed to serve as a deterrent, or is it yet another example of Bush's drunken sailor fiscal policy?

Hard for a peon like myself to say, but based on today's terrorist mindset I feel much better having it there than not. As long as they don't spill anything.

The plot thickens

For those who have trouble believing TWA Flight 800 exploded all by itself, including me, this story from Jack Cashill might be of interest. These words:
"What had to be done has been done, TWA 800"
were allegedly spoken by Ramzi Yousef from his Manhattan jail cell after the crash. Unbeknownst to Yousef, people in the US Govt (NSA) did understand Baluchi. Cashill claims to have more evidence of this.

Yousef's Balochistan heritage has been covered in depth by Laurie Mylroie. She thinks he was an Iraqi agent. But Iran is just as likely a suspect, acting in retalition for the Vincennes shootdown years ago.

If Saddam or Iran were directly involved that would seem significant in light of recent events. It might also explain why Bill and Hillary have been reluctant to overly criticize the war to date.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Qana collapse

The theories and suspicions are pouring in. It certainly seemed to be exquisite timing for Hizballah, seeing as how they'd just offered an olive branch and how Rice was on her way into the region.

Instead the fallout turned the terrorists into sympathetic figures, made American diplomats look like fools, made Israel look like the barbarians and saved al Qaeda's reputation. Even al-Sistani scored points off it.

Yes, the Israelis initiated the air strike, but if Hizballah wanted to stage a humanitarian disaster it wouldn't be so hard. All they'd need do is fire a few rockets from a residential area and eventually the airstrikes would come.

The loss of innocent life is abhorent, but this is a war involving terrorists who laugh at the Geneva Conventions. They are by definition ruthless and cunning, and ends always justify means. Only a fool would immediately take these kinds of events at face value.

Let's face it, this was a victory for the bad guys. It's the kind of event Hizballah and their ilk live for, so surely celebrations are occurring in Mosques and tea rooms behind the lines and out of view from CNN and BBC cameras.

MORE 7/31/06

Wonder if the 9/11 conspiracy folks will soon accuse Hizballah of rigging the Qana building with explosives to maximize casualties and enhance their evil world domination goals?


Apparently some Lebanese aren't going to sit around and wait for the Loose Change guys to show up.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mad at Mel

Since everybody else in the blogosphere will likely be posting on the Mel Gibson DUI fiasco, might as well throw in my two cents.

He's obviously a fine actor, and I respected him for bringing the Passion to theatres with his own money (although the movie was not to my liking overall). But I serisouly question his tether to mother earth at this point. My concern began during the filming of the movie where frankly he looked a little 'wild-eyed' to me in some of the interviews.

The man really couldn't have done more damage to Christianity if he tried, and at the worse possible time. Unfortunately there are some who will unfairly link him with Christianity to the point it will be Jesus in the drunk tank, not Mel.

We can only hope the left cuts him the same slack extended to nearly every member of the Kennedy family. Maybe they'll forgive his hateful remarks like they did for Cynthia McKinney, Ray Nagin...or even their own Howard Dean, all apparently made when stone cold sober.

UPDATE 7/29/06

A pretty classy apology. He's obvisouly got some issues, but don't we all. It's amazing the power of a sincere and contrite apology, although it's one of the hardest things to do.

So far the big lefty bloggers have refrained from piling on, which itself is pretty classy.


I thought about making this a new post, but it seems to be somewhat tangential to the the Mel episode, religious hypocrisy, the right wing, and the left.

If you can manage to wade through the sneerish underpinnings typical of most New York Times stories regarding the republican party or evangelicals, then this is a thought-provoking article. As a sometimes attendee of a so-called 'mega church', it hits home.

First, there are several aspects of Pastor Byrd's proclamations that I agree with. Number one, America is NOT a "Christian nation" in the purest form, since to be such would require a theocracy. He's absolutely correct that the founding fathers, all of whom believed in God, were trying to get away from theocracies when they built America.

This was borne out recently when I toured Monticello. It was interesting to hear the tour guide speak of Jefferson's faith. She compared him to a modern day Unitarian, who believed strongly that man's influence on religion had corrupted it. You can get this sense by reading some of the letters between Jefferson and John Adams. Both believed in Christ, but harbored trepidations about organized religion.

That doesn't mean the founders were atheists. They loosely based the country on the premise that God created man and gave him unalienable rights, they based our justice system as such, but at the same time they didn't want any one particular denomination to dominate. I believe that's the main reason why many felt the American experiment might fail, since it depends so much on the intergrity, honesty and morality of each individual citizen--a very mature form of government.

I can vouch for the article when it talks about mega churches and 4th of July celebrations. Bellevue Baptist here in Memphis has used military imagery in such cermonies in the past, but I don't think there's anything horribly wrong with it as long as it remains a respectful honoring of the country's fallen.

But at the same time I believe Pastor Byrd is onto something. The Church must remain neutral politically. It's natural for the flock to want direction on how to tackle the issues of the day, and the only way remains through the ballot box and political involvement, however that must remain a civic duty for each individual with choices made based upon teachings of the church. There's a difference between that and the issuance of voting guides.

But the Times ain't gonna flop off the hook scott free. The innuendo throughout this front page article was noticeable. Here's how I read it--that Byrd was a hero for announcing that God wasn't a republican and the culture war (and other wars) are a silly waste of time. You could almost hear the newsroom rejoicing, because in their partisan minds God is a democrat.

If they really believe in objective journalism they will make this a series and go investigate all the churches in the Twin Cities. Surely they'll find a few in other areas with the roles reversed. Two wrongs don't make a right, but one wrong isn't always by definition wronger than the others.

Meanwhile, back on the Hill

The House's Saturday passage of a bill designed to raise the minimum wage is one of the best examples of rank politics we've seen in quite some time. OK, well, at least for a month or two.

The Democrats are whining loudly about this bill, which raises the minimum wage but is tied to a lowering of estate taxes. No doubt it's something of a stunt by the starboard side of the aisle, but the dems are loathe to admit the minimum wage issue has always been a bread-n-butter partisan weapon for them.

I'd venture a guess that most of their current ire is probably less on behalf of their constituency and more based on the fact they've been outfoxed. The average Joe getting a mimimum wage raise couldn't care less about the estate tax.

So, we begin the war of rhetoric. Harry Reid:
"The Senate has rejected fiscally irresponsible estate tax giveaways before and will reject them again," Reid said. "Blackmailing working families will not change that outcome."
Let's see if we can parse that. The same democrats who fashion themselves as champions of the constitution call revoking a 50+ percent tax on somebody's estate "a giveaway". Let's get it straight--it's a takeaway to begin with. The only giveaway is giving it back to those who deserve it--the evil rich, which includes family farmers.

By the way, the 'working families' rhetoric has bothered me for years. Guess it beats working slob, but let's face it, politicians like Reid use such distorted imagery to suggest that lower wage folks are somehow morally elevated, as if anyone middle class or higher sits around the pool all day waiting for a check. Poppycock. Balderdash (rich guy talk).

Most everyone works hard for their jingle, and sometimes the harder workers who effectively understand and exploit their God-given talents make more. The democrats just hate that. As a noted philosopher once said, "Should five per cent appear too small Be thankful I don't take it all 'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman".

In reality the bill will probably die in the Senate, after which they'll all return to their districts and saturate the airwaves with irritating commercials describing how they alone tried to get 'er done, blaming "Washington politicians" for the failures.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hold your fire?

Amidst the scaremongering from cable news about a new ballistic weapon the winds of change appear to be blowing.

Bush-Blair's new cease-fire proposal sounds like an excellent move, especially in light of Hizballah's recent willingness to broker a deal with the Lebanese parliament. Looks like the time for diplomatic gamesmanship has begun.

The UN plan calls for an immediate cease-fire, but only under condition that the Lebanese take over their own country's security as they were mandated to do in resolution 1559. Hizballah's willingness to talk might stem from the meeting Nasrallah had in Damascus the other day with his Iranian and Syrian puppetmasters. Perhaps they blinked?

As to al-Qaeda, any cease-fire would now be seen as extremely embarrassing. They cleverly waited to issue one of their PR tapes until they thought a deal was off, then surprised everyone by calling for a massive jihad on behalf of Lebanese Shiite "brothers". If those brothers now turn around and lay down their arms in agreements with the Zios and Infidels it would represent a major loss of face.

Perhaps that's why number two issued the tape. But even if bin Laden later attempts to turn the tables by issuing a tape critical of the Shiite dogs for dealing with the enemy, such a thing furthers their religious divide, which helps us.

There's also a fringe political benefit for the republicans. If this plan comes together over the weekend the democrats might be forced to drop their opposition to John Bolton in his confirmation rehearing, even though he does look somewhat evil with that mustache. Note--none of the above applies to Howard Dean.

One more perk. Any cessation of fighting in Lebanon will put Iran's nuclear aspirations back on the front page where they belong. The deadline is coming up soon. Yes it will also put Iraq back there, but the administration has been quietly increasing the force lately. Besides, a peace deal in Lebanon might put similar pressure on the warring parties to do likewise in Iraq.

With so many positives in play, the only wild card looks to be Israel. If they refuse the deal it's back to the bombardment and we'll be forced to take their side. Rice should make clear it's in their long-term best interests to deal with Hizballah if any such deal includes a disarmament and eventual Lebanese control of the border. A lot appears to be riding on Rice's visit.

Bush and Blair held their meeting in the White House today, then took some questions. This blog would be remiss without commending Tony Blair's excellent replies to the various questions. He deftly placed this entire flare-up into proper context with the greater WoT, an ability our own leader misunfortunately lacks.


Foolish. Expecting any change in the age old Israeli-Palestinian paradigm, that is. The terrorist motto is "when something works, stick with it", and they certainly are. Fire from the civilian building, draw fire, then run out the door leaving the women and children to become the martyrs.

Too bad Israel couldn't have skated through the weekend with limited firing, a sort of unofficial cease-fire, to bide time until Rice got through with Lebanon. Now Rice looks grossly ineffective and the terrorists look sympathetic. Snookered again.

They seem to have two options. Agree to an immediate cease-fire, letting Rice save some face but taking it in the shorts. Get a multi-national force in to take pressure off their actions while keeping the rockets on the ground. Or two, say the heck with the world and just take southern Lebanon and Gaza back. Do you see any other options?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

News from the cave

Bearded cave-freak number two finally spoke out about the goings-on in Lebanon, after nearly three weeks, and he wasn't in the mood for diplomacy:
"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere."
The Counterterrorism Blog has much more.

I admit to being surprised they would take such an aggressive stance while the rest of the world has rather successfully scorned Israel and America for not backing an immediate cease-fire. Zawahiri explained:
"Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Quran)," al-Zawahri said.
Apparently Zawahiri's copy of the Qu'ran DOES permit unprovoked firing of rockets at innocent civilians. But this rhetoric should not be surprising since AQ never misses a chance to spread their gospel of death. They were clearly waiting to see if the world leaders would organize a cease-fire before pulling the trigger.

Since al-Jazeera only ran half of the eight minute diatribe we don't know if Zawahiri specifically named Hizballah leader Nasralla in his praise-a-thon, but he did describe being "humiliated" by the Lebanese situation. The call for unity was the most surprising aspect:
"This is a transformation in the vision of al-Qaida and its struggle with the United States. It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight,"
That according to Kamil Habib, a former(?) member of Islamic Jihad. Such calls for unity have also been coming from Saddam of late, yet there are no real signs the factions are ready to sing coumbaya based on the sectarian fighting still raging in Iraq.

The situation might be quite different if Islam wasn't so polarized, but I'm still not convinced Zawahiri's love is true. It's more akin to the handshake between Ayrian Germans and Japanese during WWII--the two surely would have attacked each other at the end. The fact AQ number two issued this tape suggests this is more lip service to the masses.

The bottom line is that AQ has sided with America and Israel regarding the uselessness of a cease-fire for the sake of a cease-fire:
The Egyptian-born physician said that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Palestinian militants would not be ended with "cease-fires or agreements.
We'll have to wait and see if Kofi Annan and the international peaceniks direct their spigot of anti-war wrath towards these guys. What are the odds?

MORE 7/27/06

If this story is even partially true then Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian chief of intelligence Omar Suleiman should be expecting a bin Laden fatwa against them anytime now.

Perhaps they were spooked by the writing in the bog. King David apparently wrote Psalm 83 during a similar tense situation many thousands of years ago. According to the Living Bible Psalm 83 verse 13 begins as follows:
O my God, blow them away like dust, like chaff before the wind--
Same war, different century.


There are several columns out this morning poking fun at the conventional wisdom (and those who espouse it) of Sunnis not playing well with Shias regards the latest ME crisis. This slap down was in response to Zawahiri's tape, where he surprised a few pundits (including me) by proposing a unified fight in Lebanon despite Hizballah's Shia affiliations.

The first such comment was from Charles at LGF based on a story he carried about an Egyptian Mufti (Sunni) siding with Hizballah. The other, carried in Powerline, linked to a Weekly Standard story by Thomas Jocelyn.

While I hardly qualify as one of the "experts" these commenters were excoriating, I do hold the overall view that it's not the natural state for Shia and Sunni to join hands. This division has been illuminated of late by calls for unity by leaders like Zawahiri and Saddam. There would be no need to publicly beg for unity if the were already unified. Events on the ground in Baghdad also support the division theory, however the picture is somewhat clouded there by score-settling based on atrocities committed by the former secular government.

My comments have been solely based on readings and observations. History shows a host of regional rivalries between Sunnis and Shia. The rift is real. The question has always been one of whether they can bridge the divide.

Common sense would suggest they should. Two facts are not in dispute by anyone--both seek the removal of western influence from the region and both seek a spread of Islam. Mr. Jocelyn argues effectively that such a thing is already occurring, and offers an evidentiary exchange between a Sudanese Sunni and Iranian Shiite in courtroom testimony in the 90s:
Q: What happened when Sheikh Nomani came to the guesthouse in Riyadh City? A: In front there they sit down and some of the higher membership, they got meeting and talking with the Sheikh Nomani and Hamadabi.

Q: Was Bin Laden there? A: Yes.

Q: Can you tell us what was discussed at that meeting? A: They [Nomani and Hamadabi] talk about we have to come together and we have to forget the problem between each other and each one he should respect the other because our enemy is one and because there is no reason to fight each other.

Q: Who did they describe the enemy as being? A: They say westerns. [sic]
This same topic was discussed at length in Yosef Bodansky's book about bin Laden, whereupon he provides great detail about the actions of Sudanese leader Hassan Turabi was his vision of a unified Islam against the west.

However, the comment above, "...we have to forget the problem between each other..." seems to provide solid evidence of how deep the divisions run. In light of the current situation, if they can't mend fences and work together now they never will.

So the general question remains the same (and it's non-partisan)-- can they? The shared goals alone should be enough to force it, but first they must get past tbe many rivalries, fiefdoms, turf wars and tribal feuds. Perhaps the first signs might come from Iraq, where the sectarian strife makes Hamadabi's comments appear more a pipe dream.

MORE 7/28/06

Here is a link to one translation of Zawahiri's tape. As Evan Kohlman points out, we should not jump to too many conclusions, since these translations can sometimes vary. But a few things seem beyond interpretation.

For instance, he only mentioned Sunni Arabs by name, with emphasis on al-Zarqawi. It might be significant that he included the two deceased Mohammeds--Atef and Atta, since they've been old news since 2001. If there was anything sinister in this tape, that would seem to be it.

He didn't mention Nasrallah or other known Shia in the tape. Matter of fact, if the translation is correct it sounded more like an invitational call for Shias to join al Qaeda.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The King of Clubs speaks

Or to be more specific, writes:
Izzat al-Douri said the Ba'ath Party will continue "to mobilize and bring together the energies of the people for the fight to expel the occupation."
Surely some Americans might be saying, Izzat al-who? But Iraq seems to know--he's number one on their list of 41 most-wanted terrorists.

His lack of name recognition in America comes from a Coalition effort to keep his Ba'athist profile low at the expense of AQ thugs like Zarqawi. But Izzat showed some love for Z-man's patriotic ways:
Al-Douri praises the Qaeda man's "courage, the strength of his faith, and the sacrifices of his fighters," but rebukes Zarqawi's advocacy of mass sectarian killing of innocents.
Such flattering praise serves as yet another example of the ease with which secular Ba'athists could join forces with fundie al-Qaeda types if necessary. By the way, that last disclaimer was probably thrown in to cover his butt on possible complicity in the Golden Dome bombing and other collateral damage. Not good PR when trying to foment a "revolutionary, struggle-oriented" organization and create unity.

It will be interesting to see if Saddam releases another "letter" refuting Izzat's interview. They've been known to play good cop, bad cop before. Especially after al-Douri made some rather bold claims about Saddam's military prowess by referring to his pre-war strategy as a 'blunder'. He now claims:
...that Saddam's military bounced back, suggesting that elements of the old army are responsible for 95% of insurgent operations against coalition forces.
From what I've read Iraqis didn't always have the highest opinion of ole Izzat, therefore this might represent a softball toss to his ex-dictator boss to swat another one into the grandstands. We'll see.

As to pre-war WMDs, apparently he denied Iraq had such stuff in the print version (ht Hatfill Deception). Perhaps he forgot the 500 shells. And of course, if he's not to be believed on anything else he says, why believe him on this?

Perhaps we should ask the question--how much impact, if any, do the former regime elements have on our regional strategy at the moment? Any attempt to answer that must include the following bit of information:
(al Douri) among several Ba'athist leaders believed to be hiding in Syria, under the protection of the regime of President Bashar Assad.
If true, that means Syria is playing both sides against the middle by harboring ex-regime Ba'athists while simultaneously playing ball with Iran by helping sponsor Hizballah's operations in Lebanon. Without 'protection', ie, a deterrent, that seems a pretty dangerous game to play. We already know they maintain stocks of WMDs, it's the type, quantity and location that remain a mystery. If Assad is hiding al-Douri with some risk, how did the Saddamists repay him?

All of this makes an analysis of the current middle east crisis a scosh more difficult. But one thing it illustrates with clarity--we're already involved in a regional war, and Syria is in the middle of everything.

ADDENDUM 7/27/06

A perusal through the specific questions asked by Time and al-Douri's subsequent replies displays a BS mastermind at work. Freedom, democracy and the Iraqi way, high hopes for Bush in 2001, and so on. But notice the shortest and most terse reply was to the question about WMDs.

All alone in the triangle of hate

The Middle East is like a triangle of hate. On the northern corner is Hizballah/Lebanon, on the south Israel, and on the east all the other Arab countries with the far east corner being Iran. While the hate tends to eminate from the north and east, there is plenty of the reciprical variety on the south. Right now America is in the middle and apparently, all by ourselves.

The international left is also part of this irrational cycle of hatred, but theirs is directed towards Israel. This is hard to figure, since Israel is a somewhat permissive democracy while their terrorist foes are perhaps the most intolerant fascists on the planet. For example, a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv was canceled due to the rocket attacks. Can anyone explain this?

Obviously the UN accident was tragic and is the worst thing possible for the Israel right now, but at least it gave everyone a chance to see which side Kofi Annan comes down on. Hopefully he didn't injure himself with that knee-jerk. It also gave everyone a chance to see that UN peacekeeping troops are useless in this area, and if they go down that road again it will fail again.

That's why the Bush administration is absolutely correct in not pressing Israel to cease their fire. Current IDF actions are clearly part of the war on terror, and may serve to finally flush out the state sponsors for all the world to see. If the Arab countries want to sign up with Hizballah to fight the Jews, and that includes al-Maliki's new government in Iraq, then let them. Such would provide incontrovertable evidence of which side they have chosen in this global struggle.

WHY? 7/26/06

Hasn't there been a worldwide call for Kofi Annan's immediate resignation? He botched Iraq, Kosovo, was in charge during the massive corruption of the OFFP and was in charge of the ineffective UNIFIL force based in Lebanon. Not to mention the genocides in Africa. His massive jump to conclusion on the bombing should have been the last, last straw.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And the Aussie kids cheered

Drudge is running a headline about a Nobel Peace Prize winner telling school kids she wanted to kill George W. Bush:
"Right now, I would love to kill George Bush." Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

"I don't know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It's our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life."
We must presume it was a figure of speech, however, Ms. Williams said she didn't consider herself non-violent and was confused about winning a Nobel. Perhaps she should pause to consider that Yasser Arafat also got one, which says something about the selection process in general.

She went on to give an example about her experience with Iraqi kids dying after the Gulf War due to lack of medicines, but failed to formally call for the death of Clinton or Kofi Annan (that we know of).

She happened to be speaking at the Earth Dialogues Forum in Brisbane, a group headed by our old friend Gorbachev. Among advocating the murder of Bush, the group also made statements about global warm, er climate change, and the general funding of armies for the common defense. Is any further comment really necessary?

Probably not, but I can't help but wonder if Ms. Williams' anger also extends to those who murder children yet to emerge from the womb.

Monday, July 24, 2006

We're waiting, Usama

Two voices seem notoriously absent from the Lebanese quagmire--that of bin Laden and Zawahiri. The hole-in-the-mountain gang were rumored to be spinning up a tape last week, then the rumors cooled. Experts wondered which side, if any, they would take.

Apparently they're comfortable with taking none right now. The winds are already shifting, with signs pointing to Hamas warming up to talks about a deal on Shalit, all without a visit from Condi, Kofi or Lou Dobbs. Hizballah seemed to steal Hamas' thunder with their copycat kidnapping/attack, and the Sunnis have not exactly embraced the Lebanese jihad as yet. So unless they are having studio problems in the cave it's kind of weird for AQ not to take a public stand while IDF bombs whistle down on Lebanon.

One reason might be they don't want to mess up a good thing. The age-old sectarian feud is still running strong and there's no reason to believe Arab unity will suddenly pop up now. Why would bin Laden want Ahmadinejad to get credit for bringing down the Jews? The new caliphate ain't gonna be headquartered in Tehran, and Israel's destruction can wait.

Meanwhile Saddam is the screaming child in the corner. Long before he finished his 30th palace the vision of leading the Arabs over the Jews has been legacy one. Calling for unity is the only way he wins that legacy, but sectarian strife is the only way he realistically escapes the hangman. Recall that his henchmen remain the prime suspects in the Golden Dome scandal.

So what might Saddam really want? He's surely pragmatic enough to realize the Sunnis and Shias will never just get along, therefore his unity calls are probably nothing but fluff. In reality he desperately wants the trial moved outside the country and as we've seen, will stop at nothing to reach that destiny, even if it means having his own legal team murdered into martyrdom. A tangled web, indeed.

There's a way to exploit this, but it's way above my pay grade. Besides, I've yet to figure it out.

MORE 7/24/06
Gateway Pundit points out that not everyone thinks Saddam's sectarian division program has been successful.

MORE 7/25/06

The predictable is coming true. Hizballah has started the backpeddle while the the media is reporting a UNIFIL observation post was hit by an errant bomb. Maybe everyone will now realize a UN force is already present in the area. Israel prefers a NATO deployment similar to Afghanistan and the Balkans. They can hardly be blamed.

It certainly looks like Israel has called everyone's bluff.

Divine providence

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened,"
Well, that's an utterly nonsensical and pompous (but hardly unexpected) statement. It's a complete waste of time to bother calling up Kerry's old quotes about Saddam, WMDs and his support of the war to refute this meaningless blubbering.

Rather, it stands as a stark reminder of why it was a good thing he lost the presidency, and why his proper place remains the dustbin of political has-beens.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The crescent of confusion

It's an understatement to say the Middle East is an enigma. Such has been the case for eons, and the situation today certainly fits the bill. Therefore, deciphering reality based on media reports and/or remarks from government or terrorist spokesmen represents quite the challenge.

Unfolding events have forced everyone to choose sides, or shall we say to reveal sides already chosen. Shias across the region have refused to condemn the actions of Hizballah in favor of boilerplate partisan rhetoric. One such Shia is Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, who recently sucker-punched America:
The hostile acts against Lebanon will have effects on the region and we are not far from what is going on in Lebanon,' al-Maliki said. 'We will speak with the United Nations and American government to call for a cease-fire quickly.'
Meanwhile, a Saudi cleric had previously issued a fatwa calling for true Muslims to not support Hizballah or their aggressions.

To top it off, Saddam is sending secret letters through his attorney blaming everything on Bush and calling for Arab unity in expelling the invaders and pushing Israel sea-ward. But are his former followers listening?

It's quite possible Saddam is simply trying to stir up trouble to save his own hide, but we know he's harbored past visions of grandeur about his regional role, so it's hard to tell.

Sometimes I wonder if any of the players themselves know what the hell's going on. Bush's buttered roll chat with Blair didn't really inspire confidence in me, unless the little chat was by design.

Is there an endgame? That's pretty near an unanswerable question, and we know where most of the MSM pundits will come down, but the actual reality might be far less ominous than some think. Perhaps we can presume some things:

..As to Iran, their Shia leadership might be somewhat frozen for several reasons. Reason one, 130K US troops remain between them and the Holy Lands. Reason two, they are reluctant to overtly take ownership and speak for Hizballah, and reason tre--they haven't finished their bomb yet and are in jeopardy of UNSC sanctions.

..As to Kofi Annan and the UN, they are partially frozen due to the ongoing Oil For Food scandal, which is exposing the tangled web known as back-channel diplomacy.

..As to the Sunnis, they are also in a pickle. Although Saddam wants them to unify against America and Israel, they just can't bring themselves to lie down with the Shia dogs, even though both hate the Zionists.

The Iraqi Sunnis have also been put into a position of literally depending on America to protect them from Shia militias. Their insurgent militias may be taking a wait-and-see approach, pausing until bin Laden gives them some direction. Thing is, if orders come down from the bearded one to stand with Hizballah over Lebanon it would seem to have the rather ironic effect of re-uniting the warring parties in Iraq. Perhaps that's why some people think there will not be a tape anytime soon. Chances are they'll remain on the sidelines regards Lebanon.

In an odd way we appear to have everyone right where we want them. With enough parties frozen Israel can continue draining the terror swamp that surrounds them.

They could easily get greedy and blow it--international leftists are already accusing them of such--but the alternative of letting a stealthy Hizballah continue to grow while their parent busily tries to acquire a nuke--using that same terrorist arm as a deterrent--didn't appear a good choice.

Clear as mud, huh?

SHAKIRA 7/23/06

Has spoken. Her father is of Lebanese-Christian descent. No rational person could disagree with her comments, but similar feelings have existed as long as war has existed.

Whenever one side has a goal that includes the elimination of the other, or their belief system, war is inevitable. Peace only comes through positions of strength or leverage. The "can't we all just get along" philosophy is very compelling, but in this case it's something that works to Hizballah's benefit in the long run.

MORE 7/23/06

According to the Times (via World Net Daily) the "Iranian street" is hardly thrilled with the new Mid East flare-up
“We Iranians have a saying,” said Ali Reza Moradi, 35, a portrait artist who works in a small booth downtown. “We should save our own house first and then save the mosque. A lot of people think this way. The government should help its people first, and then help the people in Lebanon.”
The average Ali thinks just like the average Joe here, neither understanding the importance of foreign policy. But the Iranian give-away is easy to understand. They are the only Shia power in a region surrounded by Sunnis. That's why, as CNN's Christine Amanpour recently noted
Rather, word is gradually being leaked in Israel that something different is afoot. A leading Israeli newspaper reports one moderate Arab leader with no relations to Israel sending the government a secret message to carry on, wipe-out Hezbollah for us once and for all. They are all mostly Sunni, and they would say that about the powerful Shiite resistance group tied to powerful Shiite Iran.
Makes one have more respect for the Secretary of State.

Everyone is still waiting for the bearded one to weigh in on this brouhaha. Perhaps his speechwriter is having trouble finding a way to support Persian Shias without ticking off 'the base'. But more likely he'll pause until international pressure for a cease-fire, stirred into a frenzy by the MSM, makes Israel and America look like the bullies on the block. If he really wanted a cease-fire or wanted to show support for Hizballah, the tape would already be out.

Huffpo hyperbole

Like other conservatives, I occasionally scan the headlines on lefty sites to see what liberal-minded Americans are thinking about the big stories. Scanning the Huffington Post today produced the normal rasher of Bushilter spin. The general undertone of many posts seemed to be a worry about how Israel's US-blessed operation is doing serious damage to our Arab street credibility. I would posit that it's hard to lose something that never existed.

Oh yeah, and Joe Lieberman is still a traitor.

But the real clincher was a story headlined, "AP: US Soldiers Were Under Orders To “Kill All Military Aged Men” In Iraq..."

For those who simply browse headlines that's a pretty stiff statement, conjuring up fascist images of a secret doctrine well-hidden from the public. But when compared to the actual AP headline, which was, "Soldiers say ordered to kill young men", it's revealed as sensationalistic tripe.

If you go one step further and read the story the headline appears even more ridiculous. It's a sad tale about four soldiers accused of murder and raises a compelling question about fighters in war zones being accused of murder for essentially following orders. Evidently in this case the orders were to kill al Qaeda operatives holed up on an island, but civilians were involved and used as human shields.

The case actually appears to be a microcosm of a larger question--how do we go about prosecuting a war against terrorists while still maintaining our rules of law and, more importantly, stopping the terrorists? It's a tough, nonpartisan issue, but it seems Ariana and her ilk continue to believe the answer is by getting rid of Bush, whereupon sweetness and light will befall the earth making all problems disappear. In other words, same ole same ole.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Turn, turn, turn

So goes the Biblically-inspired lyrics of the once popular song by the Byrds, which discusses seasons of change. After 50 years of U.S. tactical diplomacy in the Middle East it would appear our current president is ready for some change:
"The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "
Ex Clintonites are not impressed, pointing out the rise of Hizballah occurred due to the past meddling in Lebanon years ago, and suggesting we're in for more of the same. But after years of trying to wage peace with the same ole crappy results, perhaps a change is needed.

The leaders of Hizballah understand. In his recent apology for the collateral damage deaths of two Arab youngters in Nazareth Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the following:
"Israel was told by America to go ahead and finish this issue," he alleged. "This is what Israel is doing. This is what America needs to recreate the region anew."
By the way, the Sheik called the young victims 'martyrs', which made me wonder how the 72 virgins fit here. Perhaps there is a consent clause?

Interestingly, Saddam has also mentioned a similar 'strategy' at times, triggering his calls for unity in standing up to coalition invaders in Iraq. They believe Bush's simple plan is to divide and conquer.

The key may be the moderate Arab leaders, since they are faced with either standing with Saddam, Hizballah and Ahmadinejad and their jihad, or with the more civilized west. Indeed, Bush's plan may well be to divide the bad actors in an effort to conquer freedom for the region, but he can't do it without the moderate states.


As if by magic, our Dorito-loving friend has managed to weigh in (again) from his jail cell on the current ME crisis:
"I see that officials of your administration are still lying to you and they still do not give you a true explanation for the reasons that motivated them to rush on the road of aggression against Iraq,"
The Butcher went on to say that " years of U.N. inspections failed to find evidence that Iraq was still trying to build weapons of mass destruction". Geez, can somebody please get Claudia Rosett over to Baghdad? And perhaps she can take Bill Clinton with her, more than anyone else a man who would know about Saddam's claims, and a man who is openly supporting Joe Lieberman, who openly supports the Iraq war.

MORE 7/21/06

better add Cap'n Ed to the list of those who need to make a televised visit to question Saddam.

ht Regimeofterror


The New York Times has found some division in the ranks and appears to be mighty preachy about what it might mean:
The tone of the sermons suggests that the fighting in Lebanon is further tarnishing the image of the United States in the Arab world as being solely concerned with Israel’s welfare and making its allied governments look increasingly like puppets
Perhaps the Times should occasionally stop and ponder just who Hizballah really is, then remind readers how many Americans they've killed and injured over the years. Guess scare-mongering about our regional image and feigning indignation about s words and backrubs will sell more papers to the blue-blooders.

Thing is, a lot of fly-over rednecks understand the difference between a terrorist and an innocent Jew sitting on a bus or in a cafe. They instinctively know what we're dealing with here, and not too many hearts are breaking for Hizballah.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I paid toll for this?

Taking a short break from the war stuff to talk about engineering. Sexy, huh?

Included herein are pictures of perhaps the worst limited-access highway in America (that I've traveled upon)--the Pennsylvania Turnpike. When driving east from Ohio it's sharply amazing how horrible this road is compared to the superior engineering evident on the Ohio Turnpike.

Frankly, it's criminal the citizenry must still pay to drive on this mess. I had to fork over 11 dollars for the privilege of slowing down for phantom construction zones, lumbering up steep grades or negotiating sharp curves. Based on the conditions between the Ohio state line and the Breezewood exit there is only one decent, modern segment worth driving, considering the hefty surcharge.

One has to wonder where all the money dumped in the baskets is going. The highway needs major infrastructure improvements, such as realigning curves, widening lanes, or reducing grades, which is certainly not lost on everyone. However, one sign had the audacity to say, "your toll dollars at work--finished one year ahead of schedule". Uh guys, the highway has been around 66 years.

Hopefully they'll get their act together soon, but to this traveler it seemed a rather fine example of a unionized self-serving bureaucracy at work.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Media follies continue

As the flare-up in Palestinia wages on, an event started by state-sponsored terrorist groups, curious western journalists never cease to amuse in their questioning. In a quick scan this morning CNN was still posting Anderson Cooper's 360 Blog post on their main page that was apparently trying to create a Katrina-light scandal by fostering the notion the Bush administration is lagging behind other countries in getting civilians out of Lebanon:
Some of the Americans who have made it out are clearly exasperated with the U.S. response. You see them checking into Larnaca's beachfront hotels tired, frustrated, and a little stunned at what they've been through.
Meanwhile I'm watching Fox News this Wednesday morning reporting on a US-chartered Cruise ship carrying 1000 Americans to Cyprus.

That was followed by a John Bolton press conference, where a journalist again pestered him about a cease-fire (despite the 900 rockets that have fallen on Israel so far). Bolton handled the question calmly--said they were waiting on Kofi Annan's briefing--then asked how one goes about organizing a cease-fire with a terrorist organization. Is there any precedent?

On that same notion, this conflict will clarify once and for all the nature of proxy armies in the Middle East. The Israeli Defense Force is fighting Iran and Syria through their terrorst 'armies', which begs the question--which state does al Qaeda represent?

MORE 7/19

Sorry for double post. Blogger was screwed up and I've been outa pocket all day. It's gone now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

American fundamentalism

Got a chance to visit Ohio's Amish country, one of several such fundamentalist enclaves across America. I've seen the bonnets and buggies many times before, but not since the spectre of religious extremism was blasted to the forefront by 9/11, Osama and the Mohammed cartoons. It's natural to draw comparisons, keeping in mind the obvious theological differences.

The first thing that struck was the same thing that struck me the last time I visited--how in the world are there any Amish left? When buggies going 15-20 mph are mixed in with pickups, motorcycles and cars constantly whizzing along over the characteristic hill-and-dale two lane roads prevalent in Amish country, it's a wonder most of them haven't been obliterated by now. Fortunately they don't operate in Memphis.

And let me be clear on the front end--I'm not going to draw any moral equivilence between the Amish and Islamists. The average Amish man is just trying to live a simple life by the book while loving his neighbor, while the Islamic extremist believes his chances at heaven improve after a few lopped off Amish heads.

But as to the comparative fundamentalism, there are some similarities. Both maintain a male-centered view of the world. Both are worried about the strong and powerful attraction of the female, enough to mandate covering their women. Both avoid modern music and culture, saving both from the horrors of rap music (and some would say, country).

But, while I understand the underlying reasons for the Amish lifestyle there are serious incongruities that seem to defy logic. For instance, while their hallmark is to avoid modern conveniences I spotted a number of people wearing running shoes, vaguely reminding me of Zarqawi wearing New Balance shoes in his last video. Not all technology is evil, I guess.

It's the technological line that seems confusing. A few hundred years ago bicycles and buggies were top of the line technology, yet electricity is more a tool of the devil than gas lamps?

As to the male-female thing, their philosophy seems to me a poor way to control the natural attraction inherent between the sexes. Wrapping up women and forcing them into subserviant lifestyles sounds like a better deal for ole Mordecai than it does for Miss Martha.

An Amish man might laughingly point to the wasteland of family life across decadent America as proof his ways are superior. While it's hard to argue, it's also hard to argue that electricity, cars and indoor plumbing were to blame. If society is to progress we've got to learn to deal with these moral issues without hindering man's natural tendency to improve his environment and quality of life.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Newsflash--Bush says a cuss word

In the midst of tremendous problems around the world, Bush's casual use of the "S" word in conversation with Tony Blair in what should have been a private moment (at least we think) was headline news to CNN this morning.

Several comments. First, just because someone uses a cuss word doesn't mean they are a false Christian. Surely that accusation will come. Second, why wasn't the jist of the conversation the headline? It was pretty sensational.

The headline could have touched on the apparent feeling between Blair and Bush that Kofi Annan wants to make sure he receives maximum credit in case anything gets solved, but apparently that was just too long.

800 anniversary

It was ten years ago today that a Boeing 747 belonging to Trans World Airlines suffered some sort of catastrophic failure off the coast fo New York. CNN has been doing an anniversary feature on the crash and continued their series over the weekend, which required them to at least touch on alternate crash theories.

So how did they do it? "Pierre Salinger Syndrome".

The infamous journalist was embarrassed by having once claimed to possess evidence that the Navy shot down the plane, later debunked. CNN quoted former lead FBI investigator James Kallstrom as calling the Navy shootdown theory "crazy", but left the impression all the other alternative versions were also the work of nuts.

Their reporters failed to emulate real journalists and explore these other theories before berating them, such as the mystery surrounding a FOIA lawsuit requesting metalic fragments found in some of the victims. The FBI actually lost the suit and was ordered to produce the fragments, but later said they couldn't find them. It's hard to imagine CNN resorting to such curbside tactics if the Bush administration were involved.

I fully realize some will call me a kook. That's fine, since I'm joined by airline pilots, engineers and a former Navy Commander and his brother and several investigative journalists. By the way, I don't automatically believe in every conspiracy theory. For example, I don't believe Vince Foster was murdered or that the Trade Center was destroyed by a controlled demolition. I don't believe in the Illuminati.

I DO think that even if the NTSB was correct that no missile hit the plane, they were never able to produce an ignition source. A Ramzi Yousef-fashioned seat bomb, previously used in another 747 explosion in the far east only a few years before this crash, could have caused the "spark". Traces of explosives were found on seat-backs near the center of the plane, but the explanation was rather flimsy. Yousef was on trial in New York City for the Bojinka plot the day the plane went down.

But here's the crux. The most telling signal is the lack of action by the NTSB, FAA and airlines on 'fixing' the 'problem' now ten years down the road. The odds of a fuel tank explosion while in flight remain infintesimal, and even more so if 800 wasn't brought down by a sparked wire. They've clearly done the cost-benefit calculations.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Speaking of cease-fires

Most world leaders except Bush are calling for a cease-fire, but surely most of them want Israel to cease their fire yet couldn't care less about Hizballah or HAMAS, or are simply afraid to say otherwise.

Meanwhile, Saddam is in the ninth day of his hunger strike. Wonder if there's any coincidence between his stuntery and the latest goings-on around Palestinia and east Asia? Maybe not, but Saddam has certainly longed for the glorious moment when the Arabs would stand up and fight the Great Satan (s).

Certain folks are talking about cease-fires, which brings to mind the infamous cease-fire after the Gulf War in 1991. Avigdor Haselkorn's book about Saddam and his WMD deterrence makes the bold assertion those talks were somewhat of a sham--that America could have achieved more had they insisted on participation by Revolutionary Command Council representatives instead of lower level military leaders. Apparently he felt the WMDs muted our bargaining power since Saddam knew we weren't coming to Baghdad.

That certainly wasn't the public perception in 1991. Switch to 2006 and the perception has changed to "he destroyed them all after the 1991".

Actually, there will never be a permanent cease fire in the region based on the hard-line positions taken by the Arabs. The only hope at this point might be large-scale prayer, thing is the prayers are going to different Gods.

The North Coast

On the road again, traveling to the unfrozen north. Once called "the Mistake by the Lake", Cleveland, Ohio still has a semi-bad rep. Maybe that will keep the tourists away. Northern Ohio in summer is a nice place to be.

The 'tall ships' were in port this weekend. Imagine traveling on one of these things across the Atlantic? Arggg. (weak Pirates of the Carribean tribute).

Photos courtesy A.C., junior.

Meanwhile, as we experience summer fun the Middle East is on fire. Based on the rhetoric from each warring side one might presume they each have something up their sleeves. Ask yourself, would the situation be better or worse without 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Odds and ends

While it seems things are spiralling downhill fast in "The Holy Land" I find it hard to get overly concerned, at least not yet. Perhaps it's a syndrome of those over 40 who've seen these escalations over and over to point of near boredom. The cry wolf syndrome, I reckon. Or just burnout.

If Israel goes into Syria it might get interesting, since Iran has promised to respond. We'll see how successful they are with several US divisions in their path. Besides, the UN just worked up a deal for them. I wonder, if someone just gave all the Arabs a nice tall Long Island Iced Tea and a backrub would it change anything?


Things are really begining to fall in line for the congressional republicans come November. Everyday it seems another bullet is emptied from the democrat campaign gun, and today was no exception:
The agreement appeared to end, or at least cool, a bitter dispute over how far the government should go to gather information in a world changed since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and how much respect should be accorded individual privacy rights
There goes the NSA issue. Earlier we saw the adminstration grant temporary Geneva rights to WoT detainees, which will force the democrats to choose between limited rights for terrorists or de facto siding with AQ when it all gets ironed out in Congress. Right before the elections.

Add to that Valerie Plame Wilson's civil lawsuit against Cheney, Rove and Libby, and it could be the icing on the cake. They'll likely be thwarted in discovery by national security concerns, whereas Cheney and co should get plenty of access to some very interesting tidbits about this whole sordid affair.

Pretty soon all that'll remain in the democrat arsenal will be a few spit balls.


Monday is the ten year anniversary of the TWA 800 bombing, er accident. CNN published a piece this afternoon that quoted Anthony Lake,
"I think our first thought when we got the news was that it was terrorism," President Clinton's national security adviser, Anthony Lake, told "CNN Presents" as part of an investigative documentary airing Saturday and Sunday.

"We especially wanted to look for an Iranian connection."
I can see the Iran angle, but there were other possibilities as well. The story says "no one took credit" for the attack, which isn't true, but even true it doesn't disprove a terrorist act, especially if a state were involved.

It's kinda funny there was no mention of Iraq. If you recall, Clinton had earlier bombed the Mukhabarat in 1993 and the CIA was knee-deep in a coup to take out Saddam. July 17th was a holiday in Iraq under Saddam. Sounds like at least some motive, us trying to kill him and all.

There's a lot here. Read with an open mind.


Finally, and perhaps more importantly, Zidane apologized, 'The Who' is making a return, Astronauts are walking in space, bird flu has not become a pandemic, Red Buttons passed away (I thought that had already occurred?) and finally, A.C. will be leaving very soon for a much-sought after vacation just as oil prices spike back up. Darn wars. Such an event may tend to limit the blogging here, although some experimentation may be done with the WIFI here and there.

Thanks to all who occasionally drop by to suffer my dribblings, I do appreciate your patronage. Cheers...or perhaps I should say Mazel Tov.


Changed out the Rove pix. The first attempt was pretty lame.

UPDATE 7/14/06

CNN is apparently working a full court press in defense of the NTSB's spark in the fuel tank probable cause in the 800 crash. This morning's edition says, paraphrasing, that planes are "still flying with this problem". Let's get this straight--there IS NO PROBLEM. That's why nothing has been done 10 years later.

The FAA's estimate that 4 more exploding fuel tank events will happen in the next 50 years probably falls within the realm of normal probability. It does not say whether they're likely to happen on the ground or in the air, mainly because they KNOW that 99 percent will happen on the ground. I could be wrong, but I believe the 800 crash (if it wasn't terrorism or an accidental shoot-down) was the first such event while in-flight in the jet age. Add to that the NTSB's failure to find an ignition source and we have a continuing mystery on our hands.

Now, off to see the wizard...

Pot meet Kettle

Well, how nice:
"The Secretary-General believes that this decision strengthens the international rule of law, and is true to the U.S.'s strong tradition of respect for civil liberties,"
The same person:
Annan, who is on a visit to Rome, has in the past called for the United States to close Guantanamo Bay as quickly as possible.
Perhaps he longs for the salad days of the 90s when CIA airlines clandestinely shuttled terrorists hither and yon to expedite the torture. But, if he's in favor of closing Gitmo surely he's got some other place to house those dangerous jidadists. Maybe it's the same prison currently holding Benan Sevan for taking Oil for Food kick-backs. Speaking of that, whatever happened to Claudia Rossett?Rosett?

Well dang, it helps when you spell it correctly. Here's what I was looking for.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hold the Doritos, please

Surely most Americans, upon hearing that Saddam Hussein is now officially on another hunger strike, would say 'go ahead Butcher, do us a favor'. A large number of Iraqis might say the same. You'd also think Saddam might be aware of that sentiment, too.

So why would he think a hunger strike would do any good?

The most obvious reason might be the delusional theory--he still thinks his following is large enough to affect the stability of the nation should be die a martyr's death. Based on al-Maliki's recent most-wanted list filled with Ba'athists, and based on the current level of sectarian violence, Saddam might not be as delusional as we think. It's a mistake to treat him as just a run-of-the-mill fruit loop.

The somewhat darker theory is that his death could trigger some kind of pre-arranged retribution attack in America, Israel or other locations, possibly using some of those weapons we never found. That's pretty conspiratorial since it would require us to know (or at least reasonably think) that the threat was legitimate, thereby making his hunger strike something to take note of.

Of course, such a scenario would beg the question as to why the administration would downplay the very thing that would fully justify the war and potentially raise morale. Some might argue that the nature of such a threat would demand silence, while others might point to reasons involving sins of the past, so to speak.

But most Saddam experts agree if backed in the corner he's the type to take a few with him, so such plots cannot be dismissed out of hand. We have seen a number of clandestine surveillance projects launched by the administration since 9/11, yet amidst everything Saddam is still alive with no execution date in sight.

Occams' Razor points toward a simpler explanation, one where Saddam's minions help to foster escalating sectarian violence while his lawyers use the result to delegitimize the trial and get it moved out of Iraq. Tariq Aziz is doing the same thing, as both clearly understand that winding up in Iraqi custody would not be a good thing. For them it's always been about survival.

In retrospect perhaps our characterization of the whole thing as a card game was right on the mark.

The American disease

We have a terminal one, according to this man:
"Americans have a severe disease — worse than AIDS. It's called the winner's complex," he said. "You want an American style-democracy here. That will not work."
It's too bad Mr. Gorbachev is still a sore loser, but seeing the East Germans knocking down the wall with pick axes had to leave a mark.

But his remarks almost suggest he's looking at fifteen years without a successful democracy as some kind of macabre vindication. Perhaps Russia is finally coming around to his vision of democracy--just like the old days without the gulags? Hard to say.

But this is hardly rocket science. Societies either live free and govern themselves or they don't. Russia is slipping closer to an autocracy every day and everyone knows it, including the Russian masses.

So explains the uptick in rhetoric as the G8 Summit approaches. Today Putin took a shot at Cheney by mentioning his hunting mishap, this in retaliation for the Veep's recent quip that Putin was using his energy resources as "tools of intimidation or blackmail", among other things. Surely this made Putin a few new fans within the American left.

But were Cheney's comments really off the mark, or did they just hit a nerve? Perhaps Russia is afraid our Iraq operation will eventually expose some things they'd rather not. Perhaps it's just national insecurity in an increasingly lawless world, or perhaps the tiger never really changed its stripes.

Gorbachev certainly won't tell us, but that's ok with the MSM, who largely continue to live in a bubble regarding the man, evidenced by this comment:
Mikhail Gorbachev is generally regarded as the man who broke down the "iron curtain" that separated the communist world from the West and thawed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
As if Gorby would have done his reform thing had Hubert Humphrey been president. But his remark, "Please don't put even more obstacles in our way. Do you really think you are smarter than we are?", was rather telling. It suggests our real disease might be one of naivete rather than arrogance.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The heck with Geneva

Some on the right are predicably upset and disappointed about the Bush administration's apparent cave-in to the civil libertarians regards treatment of suspected AQ prisoners.

This was of course in response to the SCOTUS decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and it will be left up to Congress to decide how to try prisoners. In the interim it may act to silence some critics, not to mention removing a democrat campaign talking point for the November elections.

And hey, maybe the enemy will respond positively and start living up to their end of Geneva, such as wearing identifiable uniforms; not hiding themselves or their ammo in neighborhoods, schools or mosques; not blowing up innocent people on public transportation; or not lopping off their prisoner's heads or sticking them with cordless drills. You know, sick stuff like this. We'll be eagerly awaiting bin Laden's audio reply on al Jazeera.

In the meantime the Ralph Peters vaporization strategy should be employed whenever possible.

After all, we blew away Mohammed Atef with a bomb shortly after 9/11, and got one of the Cole attack planners in Yemen using a hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone. We recently nailed Zarqawi and almost got Zawahiri. None of them had public defenders, trials, appeals or any such thing. I don't recall much outrage, do you?

The world according to Bill

Bill Clinton recently spoke in Aspen about global politics and such, and even made a prediction:
“Historically, we should win,” Clinton said. “We might well win one or more houses.”
"Might well" might be a good way to phrase it. But Clinton was only doing what he does best--hobnobbing with elites and keeping democrat hope alive using any means available.

Thing is, when you get down to brass tacks there are only so many issues to blast the repubs on. The economy is decent and we're fighting the GWoT much more vigorously than Clinton did. Democrats have no agenda for solving the border problem or social security whatsoever.

Therefore, Clinton continued to hammer the one issue they think they DO have--climate change. He repeated Gore's recent warning that we only have "a short time" to change things around, which presumably means electing democrats. But in the process he dropped another Clinton classic whopper:
He said climate change is a far more important issue than he thought when he was in office.
Apparently he didn't have one single conversation with Al Gore during his entire presidency. Did he miss the Kyoto summit? Guess he was "tied up".

But oddly enough, the former prez appeared to wax truthful on the most pressing and serious topic:
Further, he said pulling out of Iraq would be a mistake.

“Once you break the eggs, you have the responsibility to make an omelet,” he said. “It’d be an error to say we’ll leave by X date.”
The dems have done everything but stick Lieberman's head on a pike for saying similar things, and they're not too happy with Hillary, either, some accusing her of being a DINO.

But Slick's statement can be taken two ways. One is that he's trying to lay the foundation for his wife and her pro-war stance. Thing is, both Clintons could have easily backpeddled and joined the Murtha-Kerry-Dean anti-war bandwagon awhile back with very little media repurcussion. Maybe the reason they haven't is that both know the true extent of Saddam's involvement in the overall war on terror, and are patriotic enough not to politicize it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Time to relocate the evidence

Not much to say about this except "good":
An FBI raid on a Louisiana congressman's Capitol Hill office was legal, a federal judge ruled Monday.
It's probably safe to assume a majority of the public already held the same opinion. Still, witnessing such raw common sense being applied to things political can be quite shocking:
Jefferson's theory of legislative privilege "would have the effect of converting every congressional office into a taxpayer-subsidized sanctuary for crime," the judge said.
Right. It's doubtful the founders had such a thing in mind when they were debating the separation of powers.

But this ain't over. Jefferson's supporters were irked that Judge Hogan also issued the initial search warrant. That alone suggests an appeal, but based on the bi-partisan furor everyone already knew an appeal was imminent, even if the Good Lord himself issued the ruling. When Congress comes together for a cause, things happen!

The Lebanese connection

We're getting more information about the foiled New York attack planner Assem Hammoud:
Lebanese security officials told The Associated Press that they obtained "important information" from Hammoud's computer and CDs seized from his office at the Lebanese International University, where he taught economics.
No word on his Islamic affiliation, Shia or Sunni. But the story says he pledged allegiance to Osama. Of note, the would-be terrorist's mother offered a rather weird defense:
The suspect's family denied that he had any al-Qaida links. His mother, Nabila Qotob, said Hammoud was an outdoorsy person who drank alcohol, had girlfriends and bore none of the hallmarks of an Islamic extremist.
The same thing was said about WTC-one bomber Ramzi Yousef and his terrorist Uncle KSM, who planned 9/11. It's also possible such a perceived lifestyle is a requirement for anyone heading west for jihad.

It's interesting to note that several members of Saddam's former regime have long been rumored to be hiding in Syrian controlled Lebanon. One was recently captured. Ba'athists still operate there, one of whom is on Iraq's new most-wanted list. Following the money trail might be kinda interesting in the case of Mr. Hammoud.


Although not necessarily to do with Mr. Hammoud, Powerline today quoted Ralph Peters on how to solve the terrorist prisoner problem:
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.
It's amazing how unglued some folks become when talking about Gitmo or the CIA Secret Prisons, yet after 9/11 CIA drones took out several AQ leaders without arrest, indictment, trial or sentence. If there was any public outcry I don't remember it. Just recently a drone violated Pakistani soverignty looking for Ayman al-Zawahiri. It surely wasn't going to drop a subpoena on him.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A message from the front

A lot of garbage has been written about the behavior of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We all know the American fighting soldier is the best in the world, but we also know there are bad apples in every bunch. Thanks to our Green Zone media brigade those few bad apples are increasingly forming the image of how people around the world see the American soldier--basically from an enemy viewpoint.

To get a true picture a reporter must embed, but Bob Woodtuff's unfortunate incident certainly showed how dangerous it can be. For many it's not worth the Pulitzer. That makes the work of Michael Yon all the more impressive. Add Pat Dollard to that list.

So here's a little slice of life on the front courtesy of Mr. Dollard [HT Marie's Two Cents]. (warning--it's explicit).

It's a must-see for all war pundits, whether left or right.

The Hoekstra letter

This morning's public airing of a recent letter sent by the Congressman to President Bush deriding intelligence secrecy could open yet another can of worms--just when everyone thought the banking story was the last of it. This time the leak came directly from the horse's mouth as opposed to the other end, which we're all so familiar with.

His letter was more than just a rebuke about the lack of coordination between the Executive and Legislative branches regarding secret counterterrorism programs, yet that aspect was the only headline according to the Times, AP, and Reuters. Guess they weren't too overly concerned with the allegation by a sitting Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that the CIA was perhaps engaged in a political coup.

Maybe that's why neither CNN nor the WaPo had picked up the story as of this writing--perhaps they felt his mention of Valerie Plame and CIA gamesmanship would ruin Hoekstra's street cred with the left, thereby diminishing his Bush-bashing potential. The AP devoted the last paragraph of their online story to it--one sentence--without bothering to quote or elaborate.

But we know the secrecy issue will remain front and center. Most lefties would say such secrecy is nefarious on it's face and proves their contentions about oil, Halliburton, PNAC, Abramoff, DeLay, Rove, et al. But let's try an exercise in presumed innocence here. Forget the alleged illegality for a moment and just assume Bush is a decent man simply trying to protect America from known threats by keeping certain programs secret and out of earshot from enemies or blabbermouth partisan political opportunists.

If so, then whatever he's trying to protect us from must be pretty serious. Impeachment, frog marching or any other punitive removal methods wouldn't change that dynamic one little bit. I think I'd prefer the common crook explnation if given a choice.

But newspaper reality is all we've got. If we take Hoekstra's revelation (another unknown secret program) in context with other weird events in the past year, such as the puzzling release of Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax in the face of documents now suggesting Iraq still had a BW program in 2002, or perhaps the populatation of Iraq's new most-wanted list with mainly ex-regime figures, or the fact Langley just closed the bin Laden unit...well, you figure it out.

As for me, time to watch some mindless sports and finish some yard work.


The story made the Monday edition, but not the front page. Of interest, the story suggests that Hoekstra may not have received the report about the 500 chemical shells until after his complaint letter to Bush, which is similar to the squeaky wheel approach he took in getting the Saddam documents released. It's no wonder he's been critical of Negroponte.

As to those aforementioned shells,
Hoekstra also had shown deep interest in an April report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that Iranian troops had buried in the 1980s, which were uncovered in 2004.
Funny, I thought it was Iraqi troops who buried those shells, not Iranians. After all, that's exactly what the WaPo itself told us in their report of June 22nd:
The lawmakers pointed to an unclassified summary from a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center regarding 500 chemical munitions shells that had been buried near the Iranian border, and then long forgotten, by Iraqi troops during their eight-year war with Iran, which ended in 1988.
Notice how utterly insignificant they made the discovery sound. But are we really to believe the Iranians buried them? Sounds like something Baghdad Bob would say.

CAN 'O CORN 7/10/06

David Corn's reply (via Pajamas Media) to the Hoekstra letter is a pretty good rendition of stock left boilerplate. He quotes published reports about the Plame affair, CIA leaks, and the 500 shells to paint Hoekstra as somewhat the conspiracist wingnut.

But that's because such reasoning, call it Iraq War conventional wisdom, has become irrefutable fact in the hearts of most port siders. No mystery in that--any cracks in that wisdom, such as evidence of a WMD program or coordination with AQ means the democrat ship goes to the bottom. Therefore most of those folks consider it settled already and scoff at any revisits.

Hoesktra wants a few revisits, but only because the picture is far from clear. The 500 shells were not what we necessarily went to war over, but in a way they were. Saddam gave a dossier to Blix in 2003 saying he had no such proscribed weapons. That kind of arrogant intransigence was the hallmark of his regime and went towards the casus belli argument that sanctions and UN inspections would never be sufficient.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The correct choice

To some of us there's little doubt Saddam Hussein was, 1) in bed with terrorists well before and now after our invasion, 2) had WMDs, 3) was lying to international inspectors, and 4) was/is receiving help from the international left.

For those that DO have lingering doubts, have you been to Captain's Quarters lately? Venture over and take a gander at some of the things his team has uncovered.

If you're one of the convinced, great, but get ready to answer the following question from the unconvinced, "if that's all true, why isn't Bush shouting it from the highest rooftop?" It's a valid charge.

Perhaps one answer might involve the consequences of such shouting. Time marches forward not backward, therefore spending time and effort trying to convince the Cindy Sheehans and Michael Moores that Saddam had to be removed might not represent the most productive endeavor based on the cost of such actions:
One of the reasons that the DoD may have sat on the captured IIS files without translating or releasing them, some speculate, was that the contents may embarrass some of our allies in the overall war on terror.
Makes sense. It's still the most compelling reason the DOCEX and Harmony docs were put into the public domain and not used by the government to formally point fingers. CQ has the paperwork on the recently-publicized allegation that a Russian mole was planted at Centcom and was pumping info to Baghdad before the war.

Besides, in light of the current American cultural divide the anti-war set simply cannot change its mind--the cost is too great. Bush knows this. He knows the fervor of anti-war protests has not reached critical mass, and he's working with a volunteer army. WMD proliferation is still in play and there are bigger fish to fry.


One of the docs analysed at CQ deals with Dr. Rehab Rasheed Taha, AKA Doctor Germ. It's dated 2002 and look pretty incriminating. Yet the Coalition released Dr. Germ (and Mrs. Anthrax) last year. Just let 'em go. There was no swap. And to top it off, Iraq wants them back.

Therefore this recent doc makes her release look all the more puzzling. We surely got something in return for her freedom, but what?

MORE 7/9/06

The left will have a field day with this story. It includes all the morsels that go into making a good Bush bash--secret programs not revealed and former loyal republicans wandering off the reservation.

But look at it this way--in doing so the Times was forced to mention the DOCEX documents and the 500 chemical shells, surely one of the few times to date. And although it probably caused scattered chunk-blowing in the newsroom the mention was tucked onto the second page of a Bush hit piece, thereby taking the sting off. Keller's gotta be careful--Miss Run Amok was fired for talking about that stuff.