Saturday, September 30, 2006

Invasion of the "Professional vagrant"

Beale Street, the hub of Memphis nightlife and our second biggest tourist attraction, has been undergoing an increase in crime of late. Memphis police are trying to crack down.

Why? Well, a spokesman for the management company that runs Beale lays part of the blame on Katrina, which produced a new type of entrepreneur:
"We've started getting a different kind of individual, a lot of vagrants that came out of New Orleans and other places, displaced by Katrina. They're professional vagrants, more aggressive than what we used to see,"
Professional vagrants. Wonder if they have a society or a website? They must have a lobbying group, since people used to disaffectionately call them hobos, bums, panhandlers, riff raff, etc. Whatever, they still tick off the business owners by scaring the tourists and townsfolk.

The story mentions that Memphis has been chit-chatting with representatives from other cities about their entertainment district problems:
Officials from Fort Worth, Texas, and Richmond, Va., have spoken with Elkington and other city officials about Memphis' work to protect Beale Street.
Can't speak for Richmond, but I've been to Fort Worth, and Fort Worth is no Memphis. Tourists can have a decent evening down in Cow Town thanks mainly to the private security force around their Sundance Square entertainment district, verified by yours truly on several recent trips. It's more likely Memphis was asking for advice rather than giving it. Hopefully our fearless leaders will keep their minds open.

Baghdad lockdown explained?

Apparently the Coalition had intelligence about pending suicide bombings to be carried out within the fortified Green Zone. From news sources provided by a commenter on "Iraq the Model":
Guard Khudhir Farhan was taken into custody Friday at the home of Adnan Al Dulaimi, the head of the largest Sunni bloc in parliament, Al Dulaimi told The Associated Press.
You might recall al-Dulaimi's name being associated with the Jill Carroll kidnapping. That was the man she was going to visit when the militants grabbed her. By the way, if Dulaimi was partly to blame for the lockdown it wouldn't be the first time. It also wouldn't be the first time we've searched his residence.

The commenter also pointed to a raid conducted September 22nd by Coalition Forces against a safe house where a terror suspect had already fled to the "National Dialogue Office", which was a no-go zone for troops.

When asked about all this al-Dulaimi said:
That individual joined my residence as a guard no more than a month ago, therefore I haven’t got complete data about his background,’ Al Dulaimi said. Anyhow, they are only suspicions about his involvement, which have not been proved.’
Sounds kinda weird to hire a guard without a full background check, doesn't it? Yet press stories about al-Dulaimi paint him as someone trying to bring unity to Iraq through the political process. Then again, Saddam has also called for unity. So who's lying? More and more it looks like anyone opening their mouths.

By the way, Saddam's lead lawyer's name is Khalil al-Dulaimi, who made an interesting prediction at the beginning of his trial last year. Just another coincidence, I reckon.

MORE 10/2/06

Point, counterpoint. I think it's fair to say Hitchens was not the player firing the air ball on this one.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Oliver Stone's magical mystery tour

Oliver Stone's comments in relation to America's image and reaction to 9/11 might be the best example of pretzel logic ever seen. His bashing deserves some bashing.

First off, credit where due. He deserves a mention for not politicizing his "World Trade Center" film when he easily could have. He's obviously free to his own opinion about America, but I'm also free to an opinion about his opinion:
"From Sept. 12 on, the incident (the attacks) was politicized and it has polarized the entire world," said Stone. "It is a shame because it is a waste of energy to see that the entire world five years later is still convulsed in the grip of 9/11.
Well, as Hamid Karzai recently pointed out it was a TERRIFYING EVENT. Anytime people choose to jump out the window from the 90th floor to their certain death it's likely to remain in the collective memory banks for awhile. Like forever. He acts as if it was some trifling nuisance. The confusing thing is that most liberals claimed 9/11 was the galvanizing force that united the world, only to have the cuombaya chorus silenced by Bushitler's obsession with Uncle Saddam.

Oliver says there are more important things to worry about than fanatical head-chopping terrorists,
"It's a waste of energy away from things that do matter which is poverty, death, disease, the planet itself and fixing things in our own homes rather than fighting wars with others."
Sure, it's a waste of energy for the average Joe to be consumed with it, but hardly for the government. Perhaps Mr. Stone would like to whip out that handy Constitution and read the duties of the Commander-in-Chief sometime. But this was the best line of the piece:
"Mr. Bush has set America back 10 years, maybe more."
Let's see, reversing the clock ten would put us right back to the Khobar Towers attack, a crime committed in all likelihood by our friends the Iranians, whom we never "brought to justice". Shortly thereafter the world was treated to Clinton's wagging pointer telling us he wasn't really chasing a 20 year old intern for the purposes of phone sex while playing cigar tricks on the Presidential Seal in the Oval Office. Simultaneously bin Laden was declaring war on us--twice.

Therefore it's quite possible Stone was having intense drug flashbacks during the mid 90s, because anyone with the courage to review history without blaming Fox News knows that Ramzi Yousef came within an camel's eyelash of knocking WTC Tower 2 into Tower 1, then followed with a plot to blow up jumbo jets heading for America. Yes, the good ole days.

Stone's magical mystery tour of logic swirls around to inform us there were no 9/11 conspiracies before the event (surely sad news for all those 9/11 Truth professors) but wraps up with the following:
"That's the evil that turns its mind and ears on humanity and is able to say `I can kill a person in the name of God or religion.' This is not a human being, this a fanatic. And I fear that fanaticism is the result of our overreaction to 9/11," said Stone.
Dang, he almost had it! At the last minute he seemed to catch himself, probably remembering all his Hollywood connections or the few remaining hippie chicks still in play and quickly tossed in a bookend boilerplate Bush bash. After all, he's a cool guy...did that Vietnam movie, and all.

Stone is no different than thousands of others who've lost all perspective on what we're facing. If Bush was not there they would be hating someone else. Bush didn't create the hate needed to bomb Israeli children, Spanish and British commuters, nightclub partiers in Bali, or wedding party guests in Amman. The sooner we all realize we're in this fight together, politics aside, the better we'll be.


Here's a challenge for you. Here are some recent quotes about our Iraq policy. Guess who said them:

> "What more will it take for Washington to get the point that our continuing presence in Iraq has become a big part of the problem, not of the solution?"

> "In 40 days, we can put an end to this nonsense,"

> "Bush, O failure and liar, why don't you be courageous for once and confront your people and tell them the truth about your losses in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

> "I think the speaker is a desperate man for him to say that. Would you think that anyone in our country wants to coddle terrorists?"

Only one of them was from Ayman al-Zawahiri.

By the way, don't know if it's Blogger, fat fingers or Fox News, but apologize for the double and sometimes truncated posts.

How low will they go?

Looks like the days when ex-presidents followed the old unwritten rule about not bashing the current prez are long gone. Jimmy Carter, one of the worst presidents in American history, has been consistently breaking the rule for years. Bill Clinton was doing pretty good at keeping it, but the Wallace interview has apparently ushered in a new era for him, too. Yes, it's probably a waste to pay any attention to what these two say, but they are ex-presidents, and the world will listen to them.

What good does it do for one of them to publicly say (or run off to another country and say) something derogatory about Bush? Do they think it makes them look better, or makes America look better? Do they think it will lead to impeachment followed by decades of neo-socialist rule?

Carter, shilling in Reno for his son Billy-Bob (I believe that's his name) said,
The former president say that Bush's policies have been a radical departure from what all previous presidents have done, including Republicans like Bush's own father, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower..
When will this nut realize we were attacked--not because of Bush's policies but partially because of his own? Talk about shame--I once voted for this peanut-brain. But his handling of the hostage crisis and general failure with the economy was itself worse than anything Bush has done.

We all saw Bill tell the world Bush was responsible for 9/11 by not having one single meeting about al Qaeda in the seven plus months leading to the attack, a lie, by the way. But that's ok, he was defending himself.

Now we have his lovely wife, who after five years of silence has decided to throw a few punches:
"Everything that we care about is at stake," she said. "On any issue you can mention" -from energy independence to global climate change and the cost of health care - "we won't deal with it if we don't have Democrats in charge."
She seemed to forget the Islamo-whatever they are now called who want to kill her family and take our freedoms. Dead people need no health care, Senator.

The republicans do it, too, yet somehow it seems the democrats are going lower by pretending Bush is trashing the Constitution just because he doesn't want a nuke going off in New York.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Iraq, past and present

As prisoner Saddam continues his daily tantrums the magic of the internets (and Marie's blog) has allowed us to revisit the misty past and some classic Saddam-is-evil speeches from the 90s.

When taken in combination with the Sheila MacVicar ABC report from 1999 (which crowed about a developing relationship between Saddam and bin Laden), it clearly shows who Bill Clinton and friends were really obsessed with back then--the same guy Bush is accused of being obsessed with now.

MORE 9/28/06

The new terror kingpin has issued another call to arms for peace-loving Muslims to kill, kill, kill during the holy month of Ramadan. But as Hot Air describes, not only with guns but with something a bit more potent.

First, where in the world would they get WMDs? There weren't any in Iraq, right? Second, if they do have them it really doesn't seem feasible to spray them around Iraq proper. Dirty bombs and bioweapons are not respectors of ethnic nationalities, and all our troops in theatre have been immunized for bioweapons. Besides, blowing off radiological weapons would justify Bush. So perhaps this is just a casual bluff.

By the way, his call for the release of the Blind Sheikh is not surprising since both are Egyptians. It might also explain Allahpundit's point about how closely coordinated the messages are between Iraq and "the home office", since Zawahiri is another Egyptian.

MORE 9/28/06

Everybody's talking about Iraq. We have polls, messages from terrorists, messages from Bush, Karzai, Talibani, Musharraf, and even Mel Gibson. On Sunday we'll be treated to another 60 Minutes episode featuring "Watergate Bob" Woodward, and from early excerpts he appears ready to tear into Bush like Bill Clinton on a Fox host. From what can be gathered he'll be charging that the administration has been less than brutally honest about conditions on the ground.

But there are two sides of any wartime disinformation coin. A captured communique from Zarqawi's lair was made public today, which discusses al-Qaeda in Iraq's desperate straits late last year. Here's a pertinent sentence:
We have no alternative but to not squander any element of the foundations of strength, or any helper or supporter."
Support from anyone, huh? Well, one of the casus belli arguments for removing Saddam was removing the circumstance of him being an anyone.

HERE, HERE 9/28/06

Grand Ayatollah Sistani has announced he supports the Pope and desires a meeting, a sharp contrast to the juvenile ranting expurgating out of the two-year-old in Iran. Is expurgating even a word? It seemed to fit.

Anyway, Sistani has a kind hearted look. He seems to be a genuine man of peace and wisdom. I wish ALL Clerics and Imams had a quart or two of what he's got.

By the way, al-Masri mentioned the Blind Sheikh. Here's another comparison, just for fun.

Image Hosted by

The Grand Ayatollah is definitely the better Santa Claus.

Another useless NIE

Just after we got over the last NIE (National Intelligence Estimate, for those who don't speak acronym) here we have another making waves. It's almost a why-bother situation.

The 2002 NIE was the topic of much consternation, as we know. It's assessments led the president and most in Congress to believe that a can of whoopass was needed in Iraq in our post 9/11 world. However, that assessment was pretty thin regarding what might happen afterwards.

Now we have a new one. It got released to the insiders in April but apparently took four months for the leaker (holder of a top secret clearance) to get the leak contract finalized with the Times and Post. Maybe they were in a bidding war, who knows. The result was a shameless poltical stunt in a land where shameless political stunts are increasing faster than CO2. They oughta be ashamed.

But they weren't. Bush released the rest of the report yesterday to provide context to the leaked part and also to pull down the short pants of both news organizations, yet this morning both seemed to be oblivious to the fact their collective tallywackers were hanging out. Keep hope alive, guys. November is coming.

But the real bottom line is this--how much money did we spend to author a report that says our presense in Iraq is fueling the jihadists or that if we win in Iraq the jihadists will be defeated? I want that job. Sounds choice, probably one with lots of great perks.

MORE 10/1/06

Must read on this subject.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pop science strikes again

It must be a disappointing fall season for the sky-is-falling crowd. The projected blevy of global-warming-fueled super hurricanes has failed to materialize, replaced by a few popcorn swirls that even the 24/7 media couldn't overhype. Sounds like a good time for a reminder of how republican policies are sizzling the planet like a side of beef on Bush's Crawford barbeque pit.

And presto, here it is:
The planet's temperature has climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years, warming that has begun to affect plants and animals, researchers report in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
It's always amazing they could so accurately assess the earth's global temperatures before ship traffic was..there. And before men invented thermometers.

Ok, ok, it's based on something called proxy data--not like the Islamic proxy terrorists used by both Iraq and Iran, rather things like ice cores and tree ring samples. Problem is, the data network is not exactly uniform. However, that doesn't stop the sensationalism:
That brings the overall temperature to the warmest in the current interglacial period, which began about 12,000 years ago.
The word "intgerglacial" should not be overlooked. But the question is not whether it's warming, but how much has occurred lately, like the past 30 years since reliable instrumentation began.

All the data before the end of the 19th century (when a network of weather instruments were put in place by the Army Signal Corps, precursor of the National Weather Service) is based on speculation. Put simply, when scientists make statements such as these..
The study said the recent warming has brought global temperature to a level within about one degree Celsius — 1.8 degree Fahrenheit — of the maximum temperature of the past million years
..without adding scientific qualifiers, it tarnishes science and degrades the message. It doesn't help when the media reports such things without question, such as how anyone could equatably compare scientifically measured global temperatures of today with proxy estimations crunched by algorithms that have trouble predicting atmospheric conditions five days out. It makes them look like a bunch of loyal stenographers rather than real journalists.

MORE 9/26/06

Kudos to Mark Jaffe of the Denver Post. His column linked on Drudge is a very well-researched and well-balanced look at the global warming debate. Dr. Gray certainly has experience on his side, but it's also possible he's got a political dog in this fight just like so many comprising the IPCC global warming team.

The other story on Drudge from Senator Inhofe is politically-motivated and considers only the skeptic side--therefore should be taken with a grain as well. Besides, this debate should be led by scientists, not politicians. Surely Al Gore would agree.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Chris Wallace hits a nerve

Bill Clinton's rancorous appearance on Fox News Sunday was nothing if not entertaining. Can't help but wonder if the left will lionize Chris Wallace for "talking truth to power" like they did with Stephen Colbert.

Communication experts could have a field day with this thing, which seemed a literal training video for the study of body language. Everyone knows talk is cheap and people lie, so most folks instinctively scan for non-verbals to help ascertain the truthfulness of those they encounter.

Clinton's finger pointing, wide eyed staring and aggressive lunging towards Wallace's airspace were all the result of simply being asked about his response to bin Laden. Aside from the small possibility the reaction was staged, which would be disturbing, it's safe to say Wallace hit a large nerve.

The vein popping seemed out of place. After all, Clinton had reasonable explanations for his inaction. He's right--nobody knew about AQ during the Somalia operation and there was not enough time to respond to the Cole bombing, but his animated reaction seemed to say something else.

It was the same knee-jerk we saw during the run-up to ABC's 9/11 show, leading one to believe the history of terrorism in the 90s is somehow off limits unless approved by Clinton himself. Of course it's all about the upcoming elections--these things are seen as nothing but Rovian right wing conspiracies to make the dems lose. One can almost hear the dems in the backroom whispering...'if only we could have frog-marched that SOB we wouldn't have to deal with all his BS'. Sorry folks, history is more than what's displayed at the Clinton library.

He's a football fan and knows a good defense is often a good offense. The veiled assertion that Bush was somehow three times more responsible for not getting bin Laden after the Cole bombing might make the nutroots happy, but it's more than a little cheesy. For example, nobody blamed Clinton for the February 1993 bombing of the WTC, the Somalia soldier dragging incident, or the assassination attempt on Bush 41, all occurring within months after he took office. Yet somehow the same axiom of innocence doesn't apply to Bush.

Another bizarro thing was his repeated mention of Richard Clarke's book, sounding like a cross between a generic lefty arguing on a message board and Clarke's agent. Fact is, Clarke wasn't "fired" by the Bush administration and if we can believe this news report, there was a plan in place to address the Taliban in the fall of 2001. Ironically Clarke was painted as Paul Revere in ABC's Road to 9/11 movie, which Clinton slammed as a work of fiction.

It was disappointing that Wallace didn't ask any questions about Saddam, like why Abdul Yasin was never extradicted back to America to face justice for the first WTC bombing, or his take on the mind-blowing revelation that Saddam didn't have the WMD arsenal Clinton told us he did. What a waste of time scaring us all back then, eh? Instead he demonized Karl Rove for trying to scare everyone now. Pot meet kettle.

Clinton's global initiative is interesting, too, a sort of global end run around the electorate. The rich liberals still believe throwing money at world problems makes them go away, when in reality it often just makes the rich liberal donors feel better about themselves while the tinhorns run off with the proceeds.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate takes that ball and runs with it, criticizing the Iraq war as terrorist-producing factory (even though we've not had any follow on attacks) and scolding Bush for not addressing the root cause of terrorism. Hmm, and bringing democracy to the Middle East is not strategic thinking? There are precious few alternatives other than dropping more bombs or throwing more money.

All in all, the interview was quite strange and un-presidential. Funny thing is, even if Clinton himself had killed bin Laden with some kind of James Bond cigar-gun it wouldn't have stopped the problem--KSM and Yousef were planning attacks before joining 'the base'. The NIE is correct, we've got to deal with the root causes of terrorism and how we respond, but we're not likely to solve the problem by playing partisan politics in Washington, DC.

Oh, one more thing. We're not likely to see Hillary Clinton on Fox News anytime soon. And I was so looking forward to her being interviewed by E.D. Hill!

MORE 9/24/06

Lots of good blog coverage of what Clinton was (or wasn't) doing and what Bush wasn't (or was) doing to get the bearded diablo. Don't miss Mick Wright's excellent summary detailing the "fly swatting" days of summer 2001.

Let's try to keep some perspective here. Hindsight is 20/20 and neither Clinton nor Bush wanted an attack. Bin Laden and Saddam are/were bad guys and both wanted harm to come to Americans, typical of enemies. Bush has made an effort to stay above the fray and focus on the future, which is the only thing we can change. That's leadership. As for me, I'd be happy to stop 'finger pointing' so long as people stop distorting the facts.


Clinton kept referring to his counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke in support of their efforts to get bin Laden. But there were other biographies written from insiders, for instance, the story of John O'Neill, head of FBI counterterrorism in New York and killed in the North Tower on 9/11. It was entitled "The Man Who Warned America". The title kinda speaks for itself.

This book, and to some degree Clarke's (since he says Clinton was hamstrung by 'wag the dog' charges to the point of not bombing) suggest the Clinton folks were trying to keep terrorism the 'nuisance' it had always been, probably for political reasons. Had they foreseen 9/11 things would have been different, but if Clarke and O'Neill were as adament about the threat as they later claimed then it's a legitimate question to ask the President why he didn't listen.


President Clinton forcefully asserted the Somalian adventure wasn't about Islamic terrorism, rather it was about a "warlord", one Mohammed Adid:
That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim warlord, murdering 22 Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had no mission, none, to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out.

He was not a religious fanatic ...
Thing is, there was a definite Islamist connection at the time:
Somalia has been a sanctuary for al Qaeda since 1993, when bin Laden sent several top associates to provide assistance to Mohamed Farah Aideed, whose supporters eventually killed 18 American troops in Somalia. The country was again a center of al Qaeda activity in 1998 as its members plotted the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Bin Laden had been building his empire in Sudan since 1991. Let's go to the 9/11 Commission report for confirmation of whether Somalia was just a bunch of warlords or Islamic terrorists:
After U.S. troops deployed to Somalia in late 1992, al Qaeda leaders formulated a fatwa demanding their eviction. In December, bombs exploded at two hotels in Aden where U.S. troops routinely stopped en route to Somalia, killing two, but no Americans. The perpetrators are reported to have belonged to a group from southern Yemen headed by a Yemeni member of Bin Ladin's Islamic Army Shura; some in the group had trained at an al Qaeda camp in Sudan.
Don't know how widespread this knowledge was back then, but surely the CIA or Mossad had some intelligence. If a fatwa was issued, wonder why it wasn't considered? The report mentions two of bin Laden's earliest agents:
One founding member, Abu Hajer al Iraqi, used his position as head of a Bin Ladin investment company to carry out procurement trips from western Europe to the Far East. Two others,Wadi al Hage and Mubarak Douri, who had become acquainted in Tucson, Arizona, in the late 1980s, went as far afield as China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the former Soviet states of Ukraine and Belarus.
Abu Hajer al Iraqi was, uh, an Iraqi. He was captured in the 90s. His friend Mubarak al-Duri was perhaps the most elusive Iraqi in this whole twisted affair--just where the hell is he and why does nobody seem to care? The 9/11 Commission listed both as 'WNDWMD procurement agents' for bin Laden and both were Iraqis. One even shared the same surname as the leader of the Revolutionary Command Council, but due to the lack of reporting I'm assuming that's just a coincidence.

It would have been interesting to hear Clinton's comments on all of this.

KARZAI 9/26/06

Hamid Karzai spoke to the press today and set a few things straight:
They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated -- extremism, their allies, terrorists and the like.
Wow, excellent. But does this mean he's now part of the same right wing smear group that sandbagged Clinton?


Now that everything has died down I thought it might be interesting to share my personal experience with Chris Wallace. It was certainly nothing like Bill's.

Back in the 70s when I was a senior in high school Chris was a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York. Our paths crossed one day when he was sent out to get student opinions of a local teachers strike. Chris and crew approached me in the parking lot, asked a few questions, said thank you and disappeared.

I want you to know I never lunged at him, touched him on the collar nor raised my voice, although admittedly he didn't ask why I "hadn't done more to avert the strike" or somesuch. All of six seconds made the evening news, which represents my six seconds of fame.

edit--cleaned up grammatic mistakes

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bin Laden -- terror zombie

Terrorist leaders have a history of dying. Repeatedly. Now we're being told that public enemy numero uno might be tango uniform again, this based on a tip from our dear friends the Saudis through our dear friends the French. Consider me a part of the society of skeptics.

Since he's reported dead but might not be, I'm considering him in the zombie phase until further notice. We all know zombies can continue to do considerable damage.

Some are wondering whether the Taliban funeral we didn't fire on could have been his, but that was seemingly disproven by the original report:
In a statement released Wednesday, the U.S. military in Afghanistan said the picture - a grainy black-and-white photo taken in July - was given to a journalist to show that Taliban insurgents were congregating in large groups.
The new report said bin Laden met the virgins on August 23rd. It's doubtful he would have been buried in such an open fashion, anyway.

Speaking of zombies, we're still waiting for a few key Iraqis to show up fully dead after being reported dead, namely top insurgent leader Izzat al-Duri and Saddam's right hand man Tariq Aziz. In a region where disinformation is key (as evidenced of late) a more encouraging report might have been good health--for example a French report that UBL had been spotted playing tennis or racketball. Then we'd know he was dead.

PS--confession--I've vacilated back and forth on this UBL death concept worse than a John Kerry position paper. I fully admit to having less of a clue today and than yesterday, and yesterday's clue was pretty flimsy.


One idea floating around the internet has potential--that is, if bin Laden kicks the bucket from natural causes, like distemper for instance, it prevents him from becoming an official martyr. That could explain our waiting game. As Sudanese leader Hasan al-Turabi once said, paraphrasing, "kill bin Laden and you create 100 more", kill being the operative word.


In discussing reasons bin Laden might be dead the Ace of Spades referred to this:
5. Rove's Alleged Promise of a Coming "October Surprise." Sort of speaks for its damn self, doesn't it? If Rove heard about this -- and of course he had -- he knew it was only a matter of time before there was either confirmation (discovery of the body) or at least a news source reporting it.
Thing is, the surprise might not have anything to do with bin Laden. Think about it. Iraq has caused more problems for republicans than anything, and many democrats are prepared to make issue with it this fall. Perhaps the surprise has something to do with Saddam vis a vis the GWoT.

That said, I'd be remiss without criticizing such a thing if indeed it turns out to be a political stunt. Any delay in announcing 'news' should be explainable, such as a legitimate need to protect operational security, etc.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The diplomatic spin-talk starts here

Never will you see a more blatant example of diplomatic spin talk as with the aftermath of the Armitage-Pakistan "stone age" dust up:
"We wanted to make sure they understood both the opportunities and the downside, but there was no threat,"
Mr. Armitage certainly can't be accused of having a silver tongue, but he wiggled out of that one pretty well. And President Bush? He was shocked, shocked that such a thing was said,
"I was taken aback by the harshness of the words," he said.
No, no, no. You see, Colin Powell said Musharraf fully understood the situation:
"All I can tell you is that shortly after 9/11, Secretary [of State] Colin Powell came in and said President Musharraf understands the stakes, and he wants to join and help route out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens."
Well of course he did...because...otherwise we'd bomb them back to the stone age! This brings to mind the scene in Ghostbusters where, after Bill Murray finds out that reversing the streams might leave them with an infintesimal chance to survive, says something like, "I love this plan, I'm behind it 100 percent".

But the stone age episode is light entertainment in comparison to what's been going on between these leaders during the past few weeks. Keep in mind the Taliban have been pouring over the border into Afghanistan after years of regrouping in the tribal regions of Pakistan thanks to General Musharraf's lack of control there.

Let's recap. First, news the Pakis had killed the rebel leader in Baluchistan Nawab Akbar Bugti in August. By the way, Baluchistan is the boyhood home to both World Trade Center bombers. That was followed in short order by the announcement of a peace deal with tribal leaders in the territories, initially saying that even bin Laden himself would be left alone if he renounced terrorism and kept quiet.

No, no, no, claimed Musharraf, that's incorrect. It was just a "gaffe".

Then we heard Bush say we couldn't hot pursuit bin Laden and Zawahiri into (what the map shows as) Pakistan because of soveriegnty issues, only to reverse himself a week later and say, heck yes, if we get good intel.

Then Musharraf again says, no, no, no, they'll take care of it themselves but nobody knows quite what that means, since they've just had their butts handed to them up there and signed the aforementioned peace deal agreeing to leave the area alone. Pardon the crudeness, but WTF?

The two leaders are meeting in America this week and have apparently gotten their stories straight:
...And when he says, if we find -- or when we find -- Osama bin Laden, he will be brought to justice, I believe him.
Hopefully Bush stops short of giving him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But seriously, this is one whale of an extremely tense predicament. We might very well be witnessing the highest level of political leverage ever used in modern times. Musharraf needs to help us or he'll be holding bones and sticks in a loin cloth amidst smoking remains. On the other hand he can't very well tick off the Islamists, our mortal enemies hiding in his country, or he'll quickly be separated from his head. It must stink to be him right now.

Meanwhile, the diplomatic show must go on. Bush continues to smile for the cameras and shake hands with the leaders while rolling off warm fuzzies about the great work Musharraf has done for us in the GWoT. But under his breath I bet he keeps whispering it, "stone age..Pervez, stone age..".


This news blurb adds to the above weirdness. Or perhaps explains it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mine's gone, how about yours?

Chopped that sucker into bitty little bits after reading this story on the heels of El Loco Diablo's speech. It's just doesn't seem right to contribute to that nut in any form or fashion.

For what it's worth I'm committed to my boycotts--haven't bought a drop of Exxon gas since they arrogantly blamed a rise in pump prices after the Valdez crash on the Valdez crash. BP got some brownie points for not doing likewise after their recent pipeline fiasco. Hitting the gas companies hard, I am...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Calling all comedians

As the comedy show in New York winds down its long-running counterpart in Baghdad meanders right along.

Let's recap: after the chief judge practically walked over and kissed Saddam's rear in open court the tribubal protested and al-Maliki fired him. His replacement started day one by playing "the new sheriff in town" game, kicking lawyers and dictators out the door in a frenzied shouting match.

When added to the 'surfuric el diablo why does America hate us' UN sideshow surely that's enough stand up comic material to last for months. That's really the only way a rational person can react to such nonsense.

As to Saddam, the highlight of Wednesday's proceedings might have been the following quote, one that should be recorded for posterity's sake:
"This is our personal right" Saddam shouted as he pointed his finger at the judge and pounded his fist on the podium. "You must deal with us as the law dictates."
See, Saddam does cherish the law when it applies to him. But that wasn't the end of the comedy. Human Rights Watch weighed in on the removal of the judge:
"This appears to be improper interference in the independence of the tribunal, and may greatly damage the court,"
Gee, and allowing the chief judge to make prejudicial editorial comments wouldn't? If a Nuremberg judge had told Goering, "yeah, I never thought you were evil, it was the Nazis around you that made you that way", I think he'd have been history.

MORE 9/21/06

The world seems to have no problem believing Chavez might work with Islamic terrorists and vice versa, so long as both are enemies of America. Why then was that standard not applied equally to Saddam? Oh that's right, it was--during the Clinton years.


In defending el Loco Diablo's speech, Senator Tom Harkin uttered these words:
Harkin says, "We tend to forget that a few days after 9-1-1 thousands, thousands of Iranians marched in a candlelight procession in Teheran in support of the United States. Every Muslim country was basically on our side. Just think, in five years, President Bush has squandered all that."
Not so fast, sir. Let me refresh your memory.

The fruits of Zawahiri's labor?

The last we heard from Ayman he was announcing the GSPC's inclusion into al Qaeda and their mutual declaration of mayhem against France. That message hit the headlines on September 11th.

A few days prior, on September 9th, NATO military leaders made a plea for up to 2500 additional troops in Afghanistan to help fight the Taliban. Currently British, Canadian and Dutch troops are taking the brunt of the casualties there.

So, who's answered the bell? As of September 13th the Supreme Commander had receieved a whopping 20 troops, from powerful Latvia. Poland then came through with 1000 to help bolster the force, once again proving they understand tyranny in the world. Other countries seem to prefer sending sending armor to protect the men and women already there.

Apparently some countries are conflicted on the rules of engagement, which include the actual killing of enemy troops using loaded weapons. For a glimpse of the mindset, here's how a Canadian MP described the 'problem':
New Democrats are in the vanguard of the growing numbers who are highly critical of the search-and-kill combat mission in southern Afghanistan. CARE Canada’s president has asserted that "this war is unwinnable if we keep concentrating on the military/technological side without undercutting the world view that motivates our enemies
No. Clue.

So what of France? Of their 135,000 person army they've invested 1900 troops to the mission. Only 9 have paid the ultimate price so far, bad, but much less than most other comparable sized contingents. They don't plan to send more, but quickly point out they've finally committed 2000 troops to the new UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, yet they have 7600 troops deployed in "the Carribean". But don't bother bringing up Normandy lest you be called insensitive.

If Poland can ante up 1000 troops it certainly seems France could send at least another 100. It looks to me like warnings from Zawahiri are designed to stop the French from responding more vigorously by threatening to rile up their local Muslim mobs, affecting operations in both Lebanon and Afghanistan. But that's clearly the problem with other NATO signatory countries, who are more concerned about local politics than honoring the treaty. If that's the case, might as well chuck it.

By the way, at least one lefty site reacted to the call for more troops as yet another way to bash Bush, despite an international force on the ground. These idiots have conveniently forgotten their own howls of "quagmire" before we ousted the Taliban government and allowed free elections for the first time in their history.

And with that there's an irony. Iraq war supporters are often branded as "chickenhawks" for advocating the war but not signing up to fight it, to some degree a legitimate point especially for those of military age. However, the same folks have also offered support for 'the real war' further east, and have argued that Bush should have added more forces--all from the safety of their computer chair.


That's what the AP is charging in regards to his comments to Wolf Blitzer about going into Pakistan in pursuit of bin Laden. He told Wolf "absolutely" when asked whether he would order cross border raids to get UBL or Zawahiri if intelligence showed them there. AP points out that just last week Bush said this:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier this week, you told a group of journalists that you thought the idea of sending special forces to Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden was a strategy that would not work.


Q Now, recently you've also --

THE PRESIDENT: Because, first of all, Pakistan is a sovereign nation.
Reading the rest of the quote he seems to stumble around some, but does say we can't just go in there willy-nilly. I couldn't find a transcript from the program to confirm what else might have been said.

Since this question is liable to come up at the White House press briefing Thursday perhaps Snow will have a reasonable answer. Pakistan has been playing games on their role of late, first making a peace deal with the Taliban and suggesting they would offer bin Laden exile if he renounced terrorism, then saying, 'absolutely not'.

One might say Bush intentionally made this comment in front of an international audience on CNN to send a message to Pakistan about this behavior, making sure the AQ guys (who watch CNN) also got the message. But it seems an easy way to leave himself open for charges of hypocrisy or incompetence. We'll see.

MORE 9/21/06

The cat and mouse contest with Pakistan just keeps getting weirder. After Bush announced that, heck yeah, he would send forces into Paki if he thought the weird beards were there, Musharraf chimes in with a bombshell of his own:
“The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, ‘Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age,”’ Musharraf said.
No one should be surprised by that--both WTC bombers hailed from the Quetta area and both were arrested there as well. Bush did say "with us or with the terrorists", but in their case, it was more like "cooperate or die".

But after five years of bin Laden trapsing around the wild yonders of that country, Bush must be getting frustrated. Pakistan's failure to corral the territories and their recent kiss and make up with the Taliban might have been a straw, perhaps the last.

By the way, it's shocking such a diplomatic message could possibly eminate from the "we hate cowboys, too" State Department, but it was on the heels of 9/11. On more thing, if true it seems to be consistent with how Armitage's friends describe his communications skills regards the Plame affair.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Heads of state and household

Since A'jad and Chavez are determined to make a joke out of the UN I felt it appropriate to make a statement of protest by not discussing a darn thing about their exploits whatsoever.

Besides, just look around, there are much more important stories than any involving those blustering blowhards, like this one:
Surgeons in China who said they performed the first successful penis transplant had to remove the donated organ because of the severe psychological problems it caused to the recipient and his wife.
Allow me to respond for both males and females worldwide with a hearty "ouch" and "eewwww".

This poor man, whose name wasn't released (for obvious reasons) couldn't care less about terrorism, the Pope, tainted spinach or tinhorn bloviators:
"Because of a severe psychological problem of the recipient and his wife, the transplanted penis regretfully had to be cut off,"
Wow, talking about hard knocks. Guess the sight of the new "10 centimeter" long foreign appendage was just too much for the Missus:
"The patient finally decided to give up the treatment because of the wife's psychological rejection, as well as the swollen shape of the transplanted penis"
Somehow the image of Vincent Price in a lab coat comes to mind. But I can't help but wonder whether they sewed it back on the brain dead donor--on the slightest chance he might wake back up. Imagine if they didn't, and he did..."well Mr. Wang, there's good news and there's bad news.."

This was also a setback for the growing penile enhancement industry, whose prime time commercials already riddle commercial radio and TV and who might have been studying the surgery option as a future market. There goes their "pick a peck of pickled peckers" promotion.

Returning to regular programming...

Monday, September 18, 2006

What's old is new again

While driving today and listening to talk radio I heard something too deliciously ironic to be true--something so powerful that if actually true would make the Pope look like an awfully clever fella and anyone who blogged it, well the same.

What was it? I heard a caller say the 14th century Byzantine Emperor quoted by the Pope, Manual II Palaiologos, was beheaded by the Muslims.

It sounded believable, but not being a serious student of European history a check of the internets was in order, and sure enough, it doesn't appear to be true. So much for talk radio being a source. The Turks did destroy his grave, but that somehow lacks the same drama.

Nevertheless, there seems to be some ironies between his time in history and ours. The Byzantine Empire was in it's last throes during Manny's reign, and he was doing anything he could to defend Constantinople, including a personal tour of western Europe to ellicit support:
Western Europe is becoming more aware of its Greek heritage and Manuel encounters much sympathy and expressions of goodwill - unfortunately these do not extend to much in the way of concrete assistance.
Perhaps they were war-weary due to their previous Crusades, which were a little tougher than orginally planned. Perhaps there was a John Kerry predecessor in France railing against war, who knows. Needless to say, Constantinople fell, as did much of southern Europe, and it wasn't pretty. The Ottomans were finally stopped at the Gates of Vienna and their defeat signaled an end to the great Muslim empires, something that bin Laden and others would like to reverse.

This is old news to many, but it's interesting to study the ebb and flow and compare it with today. Everyone seems to think the present age is the most enlightened; that with all our technological advancements and gizmos we could never allow history to repeat. Yet it appears to be happening before our very eyes. The age-old axiom "only the strong survive" is still very much in play, despite any of our intellectual protestations.

And yet, the last words of Sister Leonella, "forgive them", represent the hallmark of Christianity, the very core of the faith. She was only echoing the master who once said, "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do".

I sometimes wonder, did He want us to follow that teaching in the face of barbaric ghouls ready to chop off the heads of our children, or sometimes put up a fight? It's a question I still occasionally grapple with, but one which usually gets rationalized back towards the latter persuasion. Forgive me, Lord.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Phase II smackback

A few noted Saddam/Iraq experts are now taking pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboards, after having fully digested the recent Phase II report issued by the Senate regarding Iraq war intelligence failures.

One thing they seem to agree upon--and it stood out like a sore thumb anyway--was a certain willingness to take at face value the testimonies of former regime members, including Saddam himself, on a variety of questions.

Said Stephen Hayes:
On what basis do the authors claim that Saddam Hussein was "resistant" to cooperation with Islamists? The finding is sourced to "postwar detainee debriefs--including debriefs of Saddam Hussein and Tariq Aziz." Well then, that settles it.
In another Weekly Standard feature Christopher Hitchens tackled the Nigerian yellowcake story and exposes another hard-to-believe declaration:
Why send Iraq's only fully accredited European ambassador such a long way on such a mission? And what were Saddam Hussein and the Nigerien president supposed to discuss if such a visit were to come off? The price of goats?
Hitchens handily points out the nuclear background of Iraq's emmissary to Niger, Mr. Zahawie, and also reminds us that UNSCOM chief weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus was offered million dollar bribes from Iraq to look the other way regards his inspections. Why would Aziz do this if, as the report says, Iraq had destroyed most of its WMD stocks by 1991?

Hayes also points out another interesting ommission:
There is no mention in the report of Abdul Rahman Yasin, an Iraqi who admitted mixing the chemicals for the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, cited in the July 2004 Senate report as an al Qaeda operation.
Ironically Yasin was also ommitted from the recent ABC series "Road to 9/11" (yet the left says it was biased against the Clinton administration). It's as if he no longer exists.

Thomas Jocelyn recently wrote about the merger between AQ and the Algerian terrorist outfit GSPC and reminded us of the links between the Saddam and GSPC. The original ISG report did not make the link, but did admit that other foreign nationals were trained at Salmon Pak. The Senate report is making the distinction between al Qaeda and other foreign nationals, lightly suggesting the latter were somehow insignificant.

But by far the most interesting part of the report was the exploits of Faruq Hijazi and his visit to meet UBL in Sudan during January 1996. Keep in mind the CIA tried to foment a coup in Iraq in 1996, which was being ramped up that very same January.

The report doesn't provide a concrete opinion as to why bin Laden was demanding an office in Baghdad and certain weapons or what Saddam might have asked for. Certainly if bin Laden was asking for things, so was Saddam. That's how things are done. Such a lack of reasonable alternative explanations (or any for that matter) tends to discredit the report's value.

For instance, leaving unchallenged Saddam's statement that the United States was 'not his enemy' and that 'he just opposed our policies' is outright laughable.

The report was probably meant more for political cover to democrats who voted for the war than to getting at the truth. It was known the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and State Department were at odds with the CIA over most of the intelligence on Iraq, but in a post 9/11 mindset the president chose the worst case assessment.

It could well turn out that almost everything UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and the Clinton administration told us, later acted on by the Bush administration, was flat wrong. But it could also be true that the IIS cleaned out all the incriminating evidence before US investigators reached it, and that Iraq had plans to regenerate WMD programs as soon as sanctions were dropped.

Let's hope that historians will one day get a bearing on the nature of Iraq's threat, or whether American politicians simply manipulated Saddam into a political scarecrow. Who knows, history may also record something a little more sinister.. Right now it's still impossible to say.


The Senate could have saved a lot of trouble by just substituting Saddam's open letter of July 7 instead of their Phase II report. After all,
Saddam Hussein, ladies and gentlemen, is an honorable patriot and an honest man.
After 9/11 Saddam sent three similar letters to America explaining why he thought we were hit (rather than offering an apology). They're not easy to find in the search engines, but they exist on message boards, such as here. Saddam also used similar disinformation practices during the Gulf War. It's clear he's still fighting the Mother of all Battles, and that perhaps the only way to defeat America was to draw us into a 'quagmire' in Iraq, thus forcing our retreat and, well here, let's let him explain it:
That is because when America was expelled from Viet Nam it did not lose its standing, or we might say it only lost a small part of its standing. But when it is expelled and routed from Iraq, which has no great power to support it directly, it will lose the fundamental basis of its standing.
He knew he couldn't defeat us on the battlefield, so how then? Perhaps by drawing us into an Iraqi quagmire and forcing our withdrawal he felt he would emerge as a cause celebre for defeating American imperialism?


The first letter was mailed five years ago today. This was not covered in the Senate report, but apparently addressed by other branches of the government.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stop, look and listen?

Those three words were once etched into the brains of motorists across America in a nation criss-crossed by thousands of miles of railroad tracks.

For a variety of reasons 21st century railroads are dwindling from the public consciousness, party due to the abandonment of trackage in the past 50 years, but also due to the railroads' own strategy of staying out of the limelight to avoid a world increasingly filled with lawyers and NIMBYs.

Ironically train traffic has actually increased on trunk lines that remain, thanks in part to trade with the far east and coal. Railroads are still more fuel-efficient than trucks.

But their image is horrible. Today's lines go by boring alphabetic designations such as CSX and BNSF, a far cry from names like "Santa Fe" or "Seaboard Coast Line" that evoke memories of America's past.

These faceless entities might soon get more attention than they desire. The nominee for Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, will begin her Senate confirmation hearings this week. World Net Daily is pushing a story that might get some MSM attention, especially since a railroad whistleblower named Dave Nelson calls Peters just "another Bush cover-up artist".

Caveats up front. WND has a somewhat dubious reputation, and Nelson is a former CSX employee who might be a tad disgruntled. The animosity between union-management in the rail biz is legend. But that doesn't mean Nelson's contention has no merit.

Specifically, he alleges that former Treasury Sec John Snow, the ex-CEO of CSX railroad and Peters, former head of the Federal Highway Administration, were in cahoots to bury an investigation into allegations that CSX was skimming federal funds allotted to fix highway warning devices. You might remember John Snow from the Dubai Ports deal.

The 'problem' is hardly new, making it a challenge to blame entirely on Bush or Peters. Besides, the impression being left by Nelson is that crossing accidents are mainly caused by inept railroads, which does not comport with reality. Talk to any train crew and they'll likely tell you stories about cars or trucks driving around lowered gates seconds in front of their horn-blasting locomotive, some that'll curl your hair.

But signals sometimes malfunction, which in a world full of cell-phone talking drivers can be quite dangerous. Young people are not taught to look and listen anymore, it's much cooler to "beat the train".

Accusations are a dime a dozen. It's imperative to separate those who might be trying to exploit accidents for personal gain or for political reprisal with those who are trying to expose the truth. If indeed the railroads are stuffing federal money intended to fix signals into their pockets that's certainly indefensible and worth a bit of sunshine. But accusing someone of a conspiracy requires something more than a hunch.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Was his message wrong? No. Was it inappropriate? Well.. Was it stupid? Most likely.

He should have known there are a whole flock of poor Muslims with Kinkos cards who can crank out hundreds of protest signs at a moment's notice, all in English of course. He should have known they probably have stockpiles of gas soaked cloth likenesses of his eminency sitting around in warehouses in a pile next to Bush's. And he should have known that such protests attract at least as many cameras as Paris Hilton announcing her self-imposed celebacy.

In a nutshell Benedict's message was, "violence is incompatible with the nature of God", apparently a notion that when spoken outloud elicits a rather violent response from some in the religion of peace (or is it the religion of war?). But I dare anyone in their right mind to rationally disagree with his premise. Hey that reminds me, how many Mohammed dolls were burned in effigy during the 9/11 anniversary? I don't remember seeing any.

MORE 9/16/06

"This is not exactly a diplomatic pope." Indeed, one of his former nicknames was "God’s Rottweiller", surely a reflection of how people saw his adherance to the faith. In light of world events since September 11th, and knowing the Pope's background as they did, one has to wonder if the Vatican chose him for a reason.


"Reconciliation is not possible". Stating the obvious, perhaps, just like the cries for his head.

I wonder about the term "moderate Muslim". The use of such a descriptor has yet to incite howls of protest, but the fact we have to label some as moderate suggests there are large numbers who are not. No one would think of using such a term to denote Christians or Jews, since they largely refrain from violent outbursts in the practice of their faith. That, along with the reaction to the Pope's comment, should tell us something.

"I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims,"
This, of course, wasn't the kind of apology the radicals wanted. They would have probably preferred something more along these lines,
"I am deeply sorry for suggesting that Islam is not a religion of peace, and take full responsibility for the violence that ensued because of my words. Hey, whaddya expect from an infidel?"
Nah, not quite to the point, either. How about this,
"Sorry for shining the light of truth on the concept of 'convert or die'. We have nothing similar in Christianity, so if you'd rather think of God as love, as someone who always considers the murder of innocent people a sin, who considers women the same as men, and who saves us through His own grace, then please come join us."
LAST 9/17

A moderate Muslim admits that rioting based on the Pope's comment proves his point.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A noble view of history

Maybe future Islamic scholars writing their new history books will look kindly on America for what the Senate Armed Services Committee did today. Perhaps we can even imagine a conversation...

"They went down with their Constitution, Usama. They gave our freedom fighters the same rights as their own citizens". "Proves that Sharia law is the only way, Khalid Sheikh."

"For instance, that Senator Lindsay Graham was a patriot",
We are not going to win the war by killing every terrorist with a bomb or a bullet"
"Ha, ha, ha, they didn't really understand war, eh?"

"Don't forget the general". "Oh, you mean former General Colin Powell, who killed many brave Arabs in his war days?" "Yes, yes, the one who kept a secret for three long years watching as his adminstration adversaries twisted in the breeze, but who finally saw the light",
.. that the Bush administration is risking the safety of U.S. troops and worldwide opinion by permitting harsh treatment of detainees
"Bwaahahaha. The general must have forgotten Mogadishu in his zeal to get revenge on that evil Bush." "Bwahahaha."

"Those Senators were really brave even with their personal security guards and jets and reinforced cars". "Yes, but full of stupid Crusader logic",
Today's Armed Services Committee vote would let suspected terrorists see evidence used against them and would bar statements obtained through torture or inhumane treatment.
"That's when brother Ramzi's ACLU lawyers were able to get ahold of the plans of the rendition program and secretly pass them to the base, praise be Allah". "Yes, and when brother Abu's lawyer was able to find out about the surveillance their Crusader president was using to stop us."

"But that officer John McCain, he was himself a former prisoner of a state regime, no?" "Yes, in their ill-begotten war to stop evil communism in the far east. Good thing our brave mujahadeen had that war to study from."
We are concerned about the plight of American servicemen who may be captured in future conflicts.
"Such kind thoughts for our terrorist, er, freedom fighters who belonged to no state, wore no uniform, or had no rules of engagement, Khalid." "Yes, Usama, it's no surprise we won. Allah Akbar!"

Back in 1810 Thomas Jefferson, himself a "Crusader" who defeated Jihadists during the infancy of our nation, wrote a letter to Thomas Colvin regarding circumstances:
The question you propose, whether circumstances do not sometimes occur, which make it a duty in officers of high trust, to assume authorities beyond the law, is easy of solution in principle, but sometimes embarrassing in practice. A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.

When, in the battle of Germantown, General Washington's army was annoyed from Chew's house, he did not hesitate to plant his cannon against it, although the property of a citizen. When he besieged Yorktown, he leveled the suburbs, feeling that the laws of property must be postponed to the safety of the nation. While the army was before York, the Governor of Virginia took horses, carriages, provisions and even men by force, to enable that army to stay together till it could master the public enemy; and he was justified. A ship at sea in distress for provisions, meets another having abundance, yet refusing a supply; the law of self-preservation authorizes the distressed to take a supply by force. In all these cases, the unwritten laws of necessity, of self-preservation, and of the public safety, control the written laws of meum and tuum.

MORE 9/14/06

A better roundup you'll not find anywhere regarding capitulation politics, including France's Muslim conundrum.

MORE 9/15/06

The EU is now piling on:
"Secret prisons are illegal, immoral, and counter-productive in any strategy to win hearts and minds," EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries said in a statement on Friday.
Aside from these peckerheads, rational Americans fully understand the perplexing spot terrorism has put us in, ie--forcing a choice between providing basic rights to detainees to protect against wrongful persecution (who might then abuse those given rights and kill us) and a President's responsibility to, as Jefferson said, "save our country when in danger". It's not easily solved.

But the idea we can win the hearts and minds of fundamentalist-rooted terrorists is completely absurd. The only hearts and minds that matter belong to the moderates within Islam who might rise up against their terrorist brethren. They don't need an example from America or the west, it should come from within their own hearts and minds. They know what's right and wrong, and they know why we started renditions and secret prisons. And they can fix it.

MORE 9/15/06

Nobody should be debating this topic without first reading Andrew McCarthy's column.

UAVs over America?

"Unmanned Aerial Vehicles". Colin Powell talked about them during his declaration to the UN and more recently a few were shot down by the IDF during the Hizballah war. We've also heard of the Border Patrol using them to track illegal crossers, and they are extensively (and effectively) in Iraq and Afghanistan to save lives and kill the enemy.

But are they coming to the friendly skies of your neighborhood?

In a recent conference regarding these glorified remote control airplanes, the head of the Army's UAV program office suggested there might be civilian uses for UAVs in American commercial airspace. The Colonel went on the describe the challenges of getting such approval from FAA, that according to the online aviation webzine Avweb:
By the end of 2006 “50% of our units are deployed and 50% are in the States. So what is going to happen? Probably it will be just like manned aviation. 20-25% of unmanned systems will be deployed and then we will have 75-80% back here in the United States doing what? Counting the 26 cows that reside at Fort Campbell, Kentucky? I don’t think so. I think there are other missions we need to look at.
Technological toys can be used for good and bad, and I'm not saying UAVs are bad. But we dang sure don't need to be rushing a civilian deployment simply because Army UAV units have nothing to do.

Other than privacy and Posse Commatatus issues there is also the glaring issue of safety. UAV pilots are chair-bound on the ground and their butts are only on the line if they screw up and have to explain it to the general. Pilots are carrying their butts with them on the aircraft.

It would be wrong to call for a banishment of these things as only the Islamofascists can stop the march of technology. The challenge will be to find ways of effectively controlling and utilizing these scary new technologies within the framework of democratic principles. If we don't, we're heading straight for a T3 kind of future.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

All war, all the time

Seems like an apt description of the content here of late. While the war is the most pertinent issue of our time, there are other things. Like:

> Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown are getting a divorce. That's awfully sad, but perhaps it might allow us the opportunity to finally catch bin Laden. Get Whitney a veil, broadcast the breakup on al-Jazeera and airlift her into Kandahar. He will come. (oops sorry, that was about the war).

> Heard while driving.. Glenn Beck, talking about a small nuclear radiation detector the size of a garage door opener you can carry on a key chain. Apparently this will provide seconds of notification before the blast wave or dirty bomb hits (darnit, that was about the war, too). That short warning beep somehow reminds me of the time a friend and me were driving down the interstate around 85 in his souped Nova with his brand new radar detector. The beeping started almost simultaneous to the blue lights.

> Also heard on radio...Paul Harvey talking about hookers now using cell phones and the internets to marshall their Johns. High-tech Ho's (not what Paul said, but can you imagine him saying it?). For some reason that made me think of street corner beggars and technology. You know, the guys who hold up signs like "will work for food" and stare at you while you're sitting at the red light not able to move. As we move towards a cash-less society their business prospects don't look so bright, and it appears they're not gonna keep pace with the hookers unless someone develops a bum-friendly remote card swiper.

> Finally, the hot blonde teacher being interviewed by Matt Lauer story. "He wanted it and I gave it to him". I ask, how is it fair that she's freely giving interviews to Today while another blonde teacher who couldn't resist having sex with a minor student is rotting in the pen for seven years?

Oh, and as to the question of, "well, don't all boys fantasize about doing it with teacher when they're 14?" Depends on their teacher, of course. But yeah, and old men have fantasies about young blonde teachers, and terrorist leaders have fantasies about washed up pop singers. It's a crazy lust-ridden world, which is probably why Lady Justice was blindfolded.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When is a document a link?

Some are having fun with this document released lately from DOCEX that includes charming pictures of al-Zarqawi. Is it a smoking gun?

At the same time Pajamas Media, Gateway Pundit and other sites also pointed to this document, CMPC-2003-001488, as compelling evidence Saddam was in bed with the Taliban/AQ. But let's not get too far ahead here. The fact they had a dossier on Zarqawi only means they knew he was there (something the liberals will occasionally dispute). That doesn't mean he was invited to the country.

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently commented on the matter, saying that Saddam knew Z-man was in-country but tried to have him deported. Gee, wonder if that was around the same time Jordan implicated him in the murder of American envoy Laurence Foley? Around the other same time Abu Nidal was meeting his maker in the presence of Mukhabarat agents, feeling so depressed he killed himself with three shots to the head. It's amazing what some will believe.

The Senate report also said Saddam was wary of AQ because he thought bin Laden wanted to destablize Iraq, a nugget the democrats have been repeating since 2003, yet the two parties kept meeting through the late 90s. It's amazing what some will believe.

When Farouq Hijazi met UBL in Khartoum the bearded one asked for an office in Baghdad and some assorted weaponry. Why did he expect anything? The only sensible answer is because he was either offering the Butcher freelance services or was setting up an extortion racket. But we know they shared interests...both liked the thoughts of dead Shias, dead Israelis, dead Saudi Royals, dead Americans, and dead Sunnis who refused to obey orders. Short of religion they almost qualify as soul-mates.

Yet the murk never recedes quite far enough. The closest thing to a smoking gun seems to be the possibility that Iraq agents were embedded in Kandahar prior to 9/11. The documents don't prove whether they were cooperating or eavesdropping, or both, or even there.

Take the Afghani consular document:
Our Afghani source #002 (info on him in paper slip ‘1’) has informed us that Afghani consular Ahmed Dahistani (info on him in paper slip ‘2’) had spoken before him of the following:

1- That Usama Bin Ladin and the Taliban group in Afghanistan are in contact with Iraq and that a group from the Taliban and Usama Bin Ladin’s group had conducted a visit to Iraq.
The last reported trip to Baghdad was in 1998, the same year Farouq Hijazi visited Kandahar. Hard to say which one this might be, or maybe a new one.
2- That America possesses evidence that Iraq and Usama Bin Ladin’s group had cooperated to strike targets inside America.
Since this was dated 9/15/01, and since the Atta in Prague story didn't hit the wires until 9/18/01, if indeed that was the link it didn't come from open sources, it came from the inside.
3- In case Taliban and Usama’s group are proven involved in those sabotage operations, it will be possible that America directs strikes at Iraq and Afghanistan.
That could be anything from a "we're so busted" message to a "we've been had" message.
4- That the Afghani consular had heard about the Iraq connections with Usama Bin Ladin’s group during his presence in Iran.
Presuming the intel discussed was Atta in Prague, that was known to the CIA a day or so after 9/11. How would Iran have known?
5- In the light of what preceded we suggest writing to the Intentions Committee about the above information.
Perhaps Saddam's response was something like this--"we will crush their heads".

At any rate, the first anthrax letters were mailed on September 18th, three days after this document and the same day the AP printed a leaked story about Atta in Prague. AP, AP, weren't they recently in the news? We also got this story on September 18, which suggests that Pakistan might have tipped bin Laden about our impending attack, and that both Pakistan and Iraq knew we would be attacked on September 11th. Or something.

In the world of paranoid conspiracies

Well, well. Only one short day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and we see this:
"There is a great story in a movie, a conspiracy by a group of people in the American administration who have an agenda and who used 9/11 to further that agenda,"
That quote dovetails rather nicely into this one, uttered in a recent debate between Popular Mechanics editors and "Loose Change" conspiracists, made available Monday on Hot Air:

"In the world of paranoid conspiracies....there are no coincidences."

OK, confession. I boasted yesterday on this very site that I'd stayed away from these "Bush blew the Towers" fairy tales because of their bankruptcy of logic, but can no longer stand it. My own son has seen Loose Change and asked questions.

I'll tell you upfront I'm not an engineer, pilot, mechanic or crash investigator, nor have I visited a Holiday Inn Express lately. But I have worked around aviation the bulk of my career and can offer an opinion based on published reports and experience. The latter, to my knowledge, is not something possessed by the LC guys nor did they seem anxious to seek it out by interviewing people who had it. That said, here's my take on the debate video and the issue at large, for what it's worth.

The LC boys are certainly well-spoken and effectively masked their Bushitlerhate for most of the debate. As the PM guys said, questioning things is good. Where the LC guys lose me is their stubborn refusal to consider the destructive potential a hard surface can deliver on a relatively lightweight metal or composite travelling at high rates of speed and bathed in Jet A fuel.

Their main argument is that Flight 93 (and 77) had no residual debris left and everybody knows there should have been some left because huge airplanes don't just incinerate on impact. Problem is, we have few real-world examples to compare these to. Most of the time pilots are trying valiantly to save themselves and the passengers before impact rather than fire-walling the throttles and yelling Allah Akbar. But we do have some examples of airplanes hitting hard surfaces at high rates of speed.

I checked the NTSB accident database and found some reports from right here in Tennessee. This NTSB report details the crash of a single-engine Lancair near Memphis in 2004. All that remained were small pieces and a smoldering hole
The wreckage of the airplane was located in a plowed open field 1 mile north of Feathers Chapel Road in the vicinity of Oakland, Tennessee. The crash debris line was 60 yards wide and extended 75 yards south of the initial impact on a heading of 210-degrees magnetic. The engine assembly and fuselage were embedded 8-feet 6-inches below the surface of the ground.
It goes on to point out those assemblies were generally in small pieces, as was the pilot, God rest his soul. Here's another smoking hole example, also from Tennessee:
The plane plunged almost directly into the ground, killing Mr. Zbedah. It slammed into a heavily wooded area at the edge of a pasture near Paris, Tenn., about 85 miles west of Nashville. It made a crater about 15 feet deep, 40 feet long, and 23 feet wide, with a debris field about 375 feet forward and 100 feet out in other directions.
Flight 93 was at 10,000 feet when it began diving into the dirt. There were two large debris fields and a big hole in the mud. There were no reports of fireballs in the air preceding the crash according to the few witnesses. All the rational evidence points to the hole in Shanksville as being produced by Flight 93.

The LC guys seem to suggest it was diverted away while debris was dropped from the air into a pre-dug hole. Other than being an insane theory with no supporting evidence, they'd be better off pursuing whether 93 might have been shot down. There was a standing order to shoot after seeing what the other three planes had done, quite appropriate for the situation. Had an Air Force jet fired a missile it likely would have disabled the plane, not incinerated it. Such could account for the separated debris field.

But remember, when airplanes fall straight down at 500 mph, inverted, they tend to surprass their design limits and break up. Happens a lot to smaller planes that wander into thunderstorms. The LC guys are smart, but it's pretty clear they suffer from what most conspiracists do--a lack of ability to account for evidence that doesn't support their claims.

In their world anyone who debunks becomes part of the conspiracy, including professors at Purdue University, professional crash investigators or even peons like myself. But hey, it's the internet, anything's possible. The fact that Oliver Stone might devote celluloid to such flimsiness is not surprising. Perhaps "World Trade Center" was just part one of a series. It will be interesting to see whether the same crowd who just started a letter-writing campaign about "Path to 9/11" will do the same when it comes to Stone. I'm taking bets.

LIES, ALL LIES 9/12/06

Popular Mechanics' James Meigs neatly sums up the Loose Change movement with just one paragraph:
Meyssan and hundreds of Web sites cite an eyewitness who said the craft that hit the Pentagon looked "like a cruise missile with wings." Here's what that witness, a Washington, D.C., broadcaster named Mike Walter, actually told CNN: "I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up. It's really low.' And I saw it. I mean, it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon."