Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Kerry's smackdown meltdown

It wasn't a meltdown. At least it wasn't supposed to be. John Kerry's reply to criticism about his gaffe regarding troop intelligence was probably a calculated counterattack, ala Clinton on Fox News. Besides, they probably figured the MSM would run with the counterattack sound bites leaving the gaffe explanation to his spinmeisters, who are working feverishly to turn everything into a Karl Rove GOP stunt.

I halfway expected him to open his sport coat and flash those three purple hearts, but hey, I'm just a nutjob chickenhawk. Of course, by his definition so is Harold Ford, Jr.

Any rational person who's seen the first video will surely find the second response puzzling. It's pretty hard to take those comments out of context. Apologizing just wasn't an option.

So much silliness, but at least we learned some things. For example, we learned that those who "rubber stamped" Bush's Iraq policies in Congress were wrong, which I guess includes democrats such as Harold Ford, Jr. We learned we have a "cut n run" policy in Afghanistan even though NATO forces are fighting there, the same international approach he advocated in 2004. We just blew away some Taliban/AQ in a disguised maddrassas the other day.

By his staunch refusal to apologize for such an obvious gaffe we learned that he's stubborn and would be e hard-pressed to ever apologize as president, something he's accused Bush of doing.

We learned that he considers himself 'a real man' and hack republicans as 'straw men'. Perhaps he was just being seasonal? We learned that we can't trust any dang thing he ever says because it might end up being a 'botched joke'. Like the one about killing the real bird with one stone on Maher's show.

And finally we learned that America made the right choice in 2004. Granted the pickins were slim, but we got it right.

Happy Halloween, folks. And ain't it great to be in America, where we can have passionate debate and dissent without killing each other?!


Said Junior in response:
“Whatever the intent, Senator Kerry was wrong to say what he said,” Rep. Ford said. “He needs to apologize to our troops.”
He went on to say Bush needs a course correction, blah, etc, but he had to. After all, according to Kerry Harold is a chickenhawk for supporting the war and never serving.

Now, do I think Ford is? No. It's a pretty silly concept. But so is leaving the perception the troops are dumb, then refusing to apologize, then accusing Bush of Swift Boating him again. What happened to the gravitas?

MORE 11/01/06

Kerry has now apologized to the troops. In the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson "that's all you had to say, honky". Changed it slightly for context. Mr. Gravitas still insists it was a botched joke (he's got no choice politcally) but some of the rank and file supporters seem to think that what he says he didn't mean was actually pretty ok.

But the republicans should be careful here. They were right to pile on, he deserved it, but the post-apology waters can sometimes be filled with crocs--in this case a dejected MSM loaded for revenge bear. So that's all I've got to say...well maybe just one more comment for the road.

LAST 11/01/06
It's probably a waste to keep beating this dying horse, but one nagging loose end remains. If these lines were actually in the speech and not created after the fact:
A Kerry aide said the senator was supposed to say, "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.
And assuming he'd pulled off the lines correctly, what was the joke? Isn't that what he says 24/7? Why would he now call his basic rhetoric a joke?

Agent X

The Washington Post has a long article today about Pakistani microbiologist Abdur Rauf, an alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer trying to acquire germs on behalf of Ayman al-Zawahiri and friends. He was picked up by the Pakistanis shortly after 9/11 but just like fellow WMD expert AQ Khan, was basically set free, much to the chagrin of US authorities.

Such a senstive subject might bring to mind the unsolved letter attacks of 2001. The article does mention them, but makes no direct ties, quoting an unnamed FBI source as saying, "it doesn't fit with al-Qaeda's modus operandi". Furthermore:
Yet U.S. officials have been unable to rule out al-Qaeda or any other group as a suspect. Earlier this month, FBI officials acknowledged that the ultra-fine powder mailed five years ago was simply made and could have been produced by a well-trained microbiologist anywhere in the world.
In case you missed that, they said,
"There is no significant signature in the powder that points to a domestic source,"
That's a stunning paradigm shift considering previous reports and failed efforts to reverse engineer the substance. Obviously not all the facts have been made available to the press or public, likely for good reason.

Perhaps the most interesting part of today's WaPo story were the ommissions, namely Dr. Steven Hatfill, Operation Amerithrax, and Saddam Hussein. We're still waiting for conclusive evidence that Iraq destroyed its suspected bacterial growth medium.

And Rauf was certainly looking for some. He said the following in a letter to Zawahiri with respect to starter sets:
"Unfortunately, I did not find the required culture of B. anthrax -- i.e., pathogenic," he writes to Zawahiri. He then describes a new attempt to acquire a lethal strain from a different lab
The article doesn't say which labs Rauf visited, perhaps because it was redacted. But it does say he had contact with Southeast Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah in purchasing equipment for the Kandahar lab. We've heard that name before.

But he's not the only microbiologist with a strange story. His visit to Porton Down in the UK brings to mind the late doctor Dr. David Kelly, email pal to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Her book "Germs" came out right in the middle of an incredible spate of bad luck suffered by some in the biological research field, including Dr. Set Van Nguyen in Australia, Kathy Nguyen in New York City, and Dr. Benito Que. Check that, Ms. Nguyen, who passed away five years ago today from inhalation anthrax, only worked in the basement of a medical facility.

Then there's the case of Dr. Don Wiley right here in the Bluff City. One of the leading researchers on human immunity to viruses, he disappeared after attending a gala dinner at the Peabody Hotel on November 16, 2001. They found his rental car parked in a closed lane on the Hernando DeSoto Bridge with some paint markings on it, then subsequently found a body with his ID hundreds of miles downstream a month later. It was sent to the Memphis Morgue.

The Memphis authorities first speculated suicide, then later Medical Examiner O.C. Smith determined it was an accidental death due to his body striking steel support beams on the way down (not something jumpers usually do). Ironically Dr. Smith himself was in the center of a series of bizzare incidents shortly thereafter.

And it was never explained why the brilliant Dr. Wiley, someone whom associates described as "not suffering fools lightly" would himself foolishly stop on a two-lane bridge (the other lanes were closed due to construction) to inspect damage to his rental car when he could have easily waited until arriving at his destination or at the least, the other side of the bridge. Perhaps he was a stereotypical nutty professor who lacked common sense. Whatever the case, his widow Katrin Valgeirsdottir seems satisfied with the accident finding.

All coincidences? Tempest in a teapot? Tin foil hat fodder? Sure, that's possible. Dr. Wiley and his deceased colleagues would probably be the first to agree that a clinical, scientific approach to their disappearances would be most prudent. Still, this entire thing remains a nearly unparalled whodunnit with no conclusion in sight. Perhaps for good reason.

Clinton to Memphis

He'll be here Wednesday to speak at the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ on G.E. Patterson Avenue. Why? Chances are our "first black president" has been sent down here to stir up what the WaPo recently termed "drop off voters", the citizens who tend to drop off in the off-cylce elections.

Mobilizing this group of Shelby County residents, which the WaPo claimed to be predominately black and numbering around 200,000, could help put Junior over the top in a close race. It's the red state, blue state paradigm on a micro-scale.

Since they'll be appearing in church perhaps Mr. Clinton would like to comment on Harold's strange view of Republican spirituality. D'oh! What's wrong with me? Everyone knows you can't make political speeches in a church lest they lose their tax-exempt status. They're probably just gonna pray.

MORE 10/31/06

According to the CA, "Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander, will join Ford for a 2:30 p.m rally Wednesday in Clarksville"
I just found that funny.

SOCAS, ANYONE? 11/01/06

Whoop, there they were. And nothing will happen. Everyone knows the rules only apply to the the right.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wolf Blitzer sinks to a new low

Today on CNN’s Late Edition, Blitzer said he was “surprised” at Cheney’s “sniping at my patriotism,”
Nice choice of words there, eh.

It's bad enough that CNN ran a terrorist propaganda tape showing American troops minutes before getting shot complete with the obligatory Allah Akwar.

It was worse when they tried to defend such a thing by admitting it was acquired from an intermediary who negotiated with one of the worst Ba'athist-rooted insurgent groups in the country (by now everyone should be aware of CNN's 'special relationship' with Saddam. Are they?).

It was even worse when the Vice President's wife recently felt the need to ask Wolf if CNN really wanted the US to win in Iraq. For her trouble the Second Lady is now receiving the treatment.

Now this.

Someone should ask Blitzer and CNN to define what they believe a US-based media outlet's role should be in a war. Should they become a conduit for enemy propaganda in the name of getting the story out? Does placing "enemy propaganda" on the clips absolve them of everything?

If so, then perhaps CNN would like to balance their coverage a bit. Maybe they could obtain some American gun camera video--through an intermediary of course--to show the 'other side'. Perhaps a nice shot of a couple of terrorists caught in the act of planting roadside bombs, fade to black a split second before they meet Allah. Or perhaps US citizens falling from the top of WTC all the way to the ground. Fade to black a split second before impact, of course.

Blitzer's not fooling anyone. Enemy snipers have been operating in Iraq for a LONG TIME, yet they saw no reason to give them special coverage until less than a month before the election. But coverage is one thing, gun camera video another. If they can't see the difference there's no hope for 'em.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fight or flight

The question of Iraq hangs over the world like a dark cloud. Saddam has managed to get the ball rolling on a cycle of endless violence through his subordinates, proxies and enemies all while preaching unity. His execution warrant is only a week away but his fate still hangs in the balance.

One of the problems with executing the Butcher has always been the mayhem that might result, but really, what does it matter now? Things could always get worse, yet it's hard to imagine they could from the perspective of the American media. They've been so 'fair and balanced' that lately we've witnessed the bizarre sight of American government officials and their wives, asking American journalists whether they even want us to win this thing.

The American press isn't trying to help the terrorists on purpose, it's simply a byproduct of their collective ideology mixed with an incessant need to be seen as objective and fair. But in a war situation one must take sides. The failure to do so makes them look like tools. The AQ media war is well-documented and unimpeded by the MSM.

Expanding on that, former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer thinks a Democrat victory in November would be a tremendous boon to the terrorist-propagandists. Unfortunately he's correct--unfortunately being said only because it's rotten when either American side is viewed as helpful to our enemies. Scheuer has certainly proven he's a man who can rise above the fray when it comes to matters of great importance, but now he'll be childishly labeled a neocon.

Still, nobody on either side seems to know what to do. Even some Iraqis are at a loss:
I saw Wamidh again a week later, and the question had lingered with him. "I sometimes wonder what I would do if I were the Americans," he said over a traditional Ramadan dinner. His answer seemed to hurt him. "I have no idea, really."
The triparte option being hawked by Joe Biden and Harold Ford (slicing up Iraq into three religious based countries) seems wrong, since as Bob Corker said in the debate Saturday, "if we can't cause a country to come together in one, I know we can't do it dividing it in three." The tensions created by such a breakup would surely evoke chaos down the line. Everybody knows Turkey has had their finger on the trigger over the Kurds since before the invasion, and there's simply no way Saudi Arabia will let Iran seize Iraq's oilfields, nor will we.

The London Sunday Times says the division is already happening, offering up a pretty glum assessment of the grassroots sectarian division of Baghdad. But there are encouraging pockets of resistance. This quote simply cannot be missed, as it brings into focus part of the inate nonsense driving this entire War on Terror:
And then there is the bravest ice cream seller in Baghdad, a Sunni. When Sunni militants demanded he close because there had been no ice cream in the time of the prophet Muhammad, he told them: “I’ll stop selling ice cream when you ride up on camels to threaten me. There were no BMWs in the time of prophet Muhammad either.”
Outstanding comeback and the kind of smart defiance that must be done en-masse within the Islamic community if we're to win this. Yet such instances are few. Instead we see cracks all over, such as the ongoing intifada in Paris. Wonder if anyone has a plan for dividing up France to solve their quagmire? John Kerry, perhaps?

In their zeal to score political points somehow the dems have managed to demonize the phrase "stay the course" into some kind of bastardized Vietnamization, as if remaining steadfast against an mortal enemy is somehow wrong. That's exactly what bin Laden, Saddam, al Qaeda in Iraq and their minions are doing in both Iraq and Afghanistan despite their large casualties, but in the west any casualty equals failure and let's get out so we can all watch football and Paris Hilton.

In other words, we've been driven back to the importance issue again. If the outcome doesn't matter and the whole thing was a mistake due to bad intel, with our presence now just about saving face, then Bush should set the course for an immediate exit stage left and be done with it.

But if the results of our withdrawal would produce anything near the propaganda already flowing from AQ now, before anything is even decided, then staying the course is mandatory and Bush should drive the point home with vigor while making it crystal clear this is not our daddy's war. After all, if someone in Baghdad can 'get the flick' surely the president can find a way to project it.

MORE 10/29/06

Which story came first, this one, or this one?

Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's tribal lawyer, recently issued a letter overtly threatening George W. Bush that the war in Iraq might suddenely become even more uncivil should his client be given his just rewards. Quite a bold statement, even for a lawyer.

As if by cue another story popped up simultaneously proclaiminng that the prosecution might not hand down a verdict on November 5th after all. It might take a few more weeks of shuffling papers, perhaps.

Meanwhile his lawyer is trying to gin up a controversy. He claims that 1400+ pages of documents pertaining to the Anfal gassing trial have been damaged while sitting in his legal offices located in the US protected Green Zone.

The smart money says this is another cheap stunt by Saddam's team designed to stall the trial, just like when they murdered their own lawyers and blew up the Golden Mosque. It's depressing to think the CIA would have been involved with anything as sloppy as this.

Perhaps Ramsey Clark will claim these damaged docs were the smoking guns that tied Cheney and Rummy to the sale of chemical components used in the gassing, a story made in heaven for CNN and Reuters just a week before the election. And don't think the election doesn't weigh hard on both sides here. Scheduling a verdict two days before the election was possibly a way to sidestep any fallout from a democrat victory or perhaps influence a republican one. Al-Dulaimi's threat now makes that option less attractive, it would seem.

The bothersome thing is the lurid realization that sometimes governments do tacky underhanded things in the name of international peace and security, things that are better left outside the light of history. Don't know if we're seeing that here or whether we're paying the price for something done long ago, but it sure looks like team Butcher is still holding a few cards. More than they should.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Corker vs Ford final debate

Their final debate is tonight. Barring any unforeseen bombshells (not of the blonde variety, mind you) Tennessee voters will be left with their choices. The race has essentially been narrowed into a popularity contest, and in those cases the slick-talker usually wins. See Clinton, William Jefferson.

Of course the reason is largely due to Ford's posturing that began when Junior was annointed his dad's Congressional seat in 1996. The Senate was always on his horizon (and perhaps more) but Tennesseans don't elect northeastern lib'ral types. This is blue dog democrat country. So, the strategy was chosen to take conservative positions on the big issues but appease his street level constituency by coming down to the left on social issues.

It worked--Corker's had to resort to veiled attacks on the Ford family machine and Harold's apparent love of the nightlife to make any headway, something easily counter-attacked by the dems.

In effect they've made Ford bulletproof, an almost Rovian-like strategy (although only Rove is painted as an evil genius for doing such things). Junior's managed to make any criticism of him look like racism or mud-slinging despite the fact it's appropriate to mention he's connected to one of the most corrupt political families in the state. If the shoe were on the other foot it would be dropping in a similar fashion, and with impunity.

From a conservative viewpoint there remains one weakness in Ford's hawkish posturing, and that's the fact he's still a democrat. Based on some of the positions he's taken it's surprising he didn't switch parties, especially considering the flak he's taken from his own party. But that alone should tell us something. It tells us he's a true believer who'll likely come down with the any democrat majority once he reaches the upper chamber. His base understands this, at least most of them. Corker might want to bring this fact to light in tonight's debate rather than blabbing about trips, women and football parties.

I'll have my .02 cent report later..

LATER 10/28/06

From a liveblogger:

Nashville for the 21st Century

Wonder if this was discussed? And wow, are they that interested Down Under, or was it just the comment about Aussie nukes that got their attention?

As to the winner, Corker folks say it was Bob. Ford folks saying nothing yet, but his fan club thinks it was a slam-dunk. Does this prove that Ford's IT people are inferior to Corker's, or that Corker pre-loaded his post? Inquiring minds don't really care.


Still haven't gotten into a position of offering any detailed opinions on the debate, but that's ok, you'll survive without it. In the meantime, if you've been looking for the video it's right here.

HT GOP and College

MORE 10/30/06

After re-viewing the debate I'll share my thoughts. First thought, the video link I posted won't play in Firefox, only Windows. Or maybe I'm just an idiot.

Oh yeah, the debate. Bob Corker is definitely more seasoned and experienced. I like the fact he's actually accomplished things in the real world, while Ford's drawback is being a career politician at a relatively young age. But Ford's learned well--he's the better politician by far--a natural. If he loses this race he might run for Mayor of Memphis and win by a landslide.

On the Social Security question, he lost me on his plan to set up a cutoff point where some people (he listed blue collar workers) would get their FICA contributions while others, the so-called rich, would not. I don't like artificial lines since they can easily be moved and because somebody close to the line is always getting screwed. There's gotta be a better way. Funny, while watching I couldn't help but wonder if Ford's plan becomes reality whether they'll continue sending us those SS benefits statements just to remind us how much our monthly annuity check would've been?

I did find the idea of setting up the 500 dollar account for each child born to be intriguing outside-the-box thinking, which probably means it'll never happen in DC. That he gave Santorum credit is typical Harold Ford.

As to the question about harsh treatment of detainees, both agreed (Ford voted yea) but Corker scored points by mentioning sunset provisions, which I agree with.

On taxation, Ford skillfully tried to paint Corker as a tax-raiser while never acknowledging his own votes. In my view Corker won that argument by pointing out his own success in Chattanooga while Ford didn't do enough to help himself by pointing to his own votes on the Bush tax cuts. Perhaps he was content with letting that sleeping dog lie.

As to closing statements, Ford showed his charisma and once again brought up his Christianity, which the radical left continues to hypocritically ignore. I did like his comment about someone upstairs knowing much more than he'll ever know, and I wish more poiticos would admit to that. And his statement about voting for change is apt, since a vote for Harold might turn out to be a vote for Harry Reid as well.

Corker's final statement was stock speechtalk and not very effective. I agree with others who said this debate was a draw as to talking points, but I still lean to Corker because it appears he'll vote closer to my thinking. For what it's worth.

Meanwhile, they're trying to stir up the 'drop off' voters here in Shelby County (Memphis), which are defined as ones who only vote every four years but skip the off years. According to the WaPo most are black. Let's see, the Ford family has tremendous influence here, desires one its members to hold office somewhere, and we saw what happened when John Ford was indicted and resigned--sister Ophelia ended up on the ballot and in the middle of a dead-voter scandal. If this race is close the lawsuits could drag on forever.


Harold apparently thinks He's on the democrats' side. Side question, is Corker actually a midget or is everyone around him just gigantic?

That's a winner!

This is one of those selfish posts, but I just can't resist. Having been a Cardinal fan since the late 60s this was one of the most aggravating and satisfying seasons I can remember. Hand it to Jim Leyland, though. He's a class act and took his team a lot further than anyone believed. He's a winner.

But Friday night's winners were the Cardinals and their fans, who make up one of the last 'baseball towns' in an America crazy about football. Go crazy indeed, Loo.

World Series weirdness--Cardinals beat the Red Sox in 1967 then lost to Detroit in 1968. Cardinals lost to the Red Sox in 2004, then beat Detroit in 06. Both Tiger-Cardinals matchups featured a centerfielder who slipped chasing a fly ball affecting the outcome of each series. Ed Spezio was a player for the Cardinals on those 60s teams, his son Scott played on this year's team. Cards won the series with the fewest ever regular season wins, simply an incredible turnaround.

In the end, the know-it-all pundits overlooked a team with a Cy Young and MVP winner who were coming back to health. They had more playoff experience than any of their rivals and a Hall of Fame manager. Shows you what pundits know, which can can also be applied to political pundits, by the way. Tony LaRussa did a marvelous job of keeping himself out of the situation and letting the players play. Jack would have loved it. I'm sure he's smiling now.

MORE 10/28/06

Should have known to check the Gateway Pundit last night, he was live photoblogging. But frankly, we were too caught up watching it the old fashioned way..

Those close to STL might want to attend the parade on Sunday. Looks like the weather is gonna be a heckuva lot better than it was for most of the games.

MORE 10/28/06

Hey, the Cardinals made Powerlineblog. Pretty good for a bunch of Twinkie fans..

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bottom line voting

There's a lot of noise out there. We have a major election coming up, yet the main stories are about whether Harold Ford's dad said 'cracker or tracker', whether Michael J. Fox was off his meds or not, whether Bob Corker's radio ad was using jungle drums in the background or whether Webb is a closet pedophile.

Politics as usual? Yep, but the issues are not usual. How will these people actually vote?

Pass another cookie to the Ford campaign, they've jumped all over this construct. These guys are good. Thing is, yes, Iraq is in the balance, but Ford's 'new direction' doesn't seem to lead anywhere. Matter of fact, the party as a whole is all over the place on where that new direction might lead. If the dems win power they'll perhaps have enough votes to influence war funding, Bush's anti-terror measures, or even the future of the Bush presidency itself. What will they do?

The left doesn't mind bringing up social issues like embryonic stem cell research (which they mischaracterize) but are fairly mum about fixing Social Security or gay marriage. Gun control, anyone? How about food control? The space program.

And what of the tax cuts? Can the middle class expect a backdoor tax increase? Have the dems campaigned on Robin-Hooding the rich? I've not heard much.

Perhaps they are talking, but just like a conversation at a Metallica concert, we just can't hear them amidst the white noise blasting from the 24/7 sensationalism press. Or maybe the candidates themselves are creating the white noise to keep from talking about anything real.

Whatever it is, one thing's clear. When the dust settles on November 7 we'll be left with the people we chose. The mud-slinging and posturing will be over. Personally speaking, while none of the candidates on our local ballot are very impressive I plan to hold my nose and vote anyway. The only thing I can think to do is to research their voting records, if they have one, and weigh that against their intangibles, then let 'er rip.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Aussie cleric says women are cat food

Just trying to compete with the tabloids or MSM for headline writing. According to this Australian Mufti,
Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats.
The guy also blamed rape on the victims, apparently for not being veiled. We've seen this "she was asking for it" excuse before in the west, and it never works.

Besides, what defines 'immodestly-dressed'? Well, maybe ole Mufty thinks Terri Irwin, pictured above, is immodest because she leaves a few buttons open on her shirt, or doesn't wear a veil. Such nonsense shows how dangerous the "Sharia gone wild" radical Islamic ideology can be. Why the feminists of America are not 100 percent behind Bush in his efforts to stop these nuts is a mystery, but one that's easily solved.

There was an insightful piece posted a few days ago at Right Truth about the role male sexual frustration might play in spurring on radical Islam. In other words, these guys can't control their urges in a decadent and uninhibited world where their own women are still wrapped up like mummies. Not sure it explains everything, but it certainly might explain this story.

But that said, western society is not without sin. Freedom comes with responsibility and there's nothing wrong with practical modesty. We've lately been told by the sexperts that men think about it all the time, which was an increase over the last study that claimed it was every 11 seconds. I can neither confirm nor deny those figures.

But it's a powerful force indeed. The issue has even arisen in our local Tennessee Senate race over Harold Ford's trip to a Super Bowl party featuring Playboy bunnies, which the Corker campaign subsequently turned into a tacky commercial. I like how the Independent Conservative explained it:
Well every man should :D [like women]. But we do need to try and continually fight our fleshly desires for smut.
Yes. It's a tough fight, but if we cut and run things usually get worse.

UPDATE 10/27/06

The male chauvinist Mufti is not backing down. He continues to insist women are generally fair game for any Muslim man on the street unless wrapped in a mummy costume.

Gotta hand it to John Howard. In 2005 he told the Muslims if they couldn't love Australia as is, they should leave. As we can see, at least one leader didn't listen. That's the kind of instransigence perpetrated by some within Islam, who feel it's their duty to change the world to their worldview. How long til we see Paris riots in the streets of Sydney?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Handling the truth

We've heard a lot about intelligence leaks in the past year. The New York Times public editor recently issued an apology for leaking the classified SWIFT banking program, which surely means Hell is no longer a lake of fire.

Under that cloud the FBI recently declared they'll no longer brief members of Congress about the progress of their Operation Amerithrax, the stone cold anthrax letter investigation. MSNBC's Lisa Myers explains:
The FBI's Assistant Director for Congressional Affairs wrote, "After sensitive information about the investigation citing congressional sources was reported in the media, the Department of Justice and the FBI agreed that no additional briefings to Congress would be provided."
Put another way:
"we won't brief you because you will leak"
That's probably true, but one has to wonder what sensitive information was leaked to the media by Congress about the case? We've hardly heard a peep about it since 2003, and the media, themselves a primary target in the attack, have been about as enthusiastic and effective as OJ in locating the real killer(s).

Senator Charles Grassley points out that the leaks aren't all from unauthorized sources. This week he sent Attorney General Alberto Gonzales one of those official Congressional letters (itself leaked to the media) asking for answers to 14 questions about Amerithrax. He also gingerly mocked the apparent hypocrisy of the FBI's feigned indignation over this while themselves being the source of leaks about Dr. Steven Hatfill and Richard Jewell. By the way, Judge Reggie Walton, the presider in charge of the Scooter Libby case, always seems to be in the middle of these things.

Anyway, Grassley also wondered why the FBI further justified their Congressional lockout by contending the case was one of law enforcement not intelligence without providing Congress much convincing evidence to believe otherwise. There are only so many sources of this stuff.

Plainly speaking, it sounds like Grassley is just ticked that he's been cut out of the loop with the insinuation that he can't handle the truth. There's nothing like a Senator with a bruised ego.

As to the Hatfill thing, seems to me if we believe the person of interest story was just a bone thrown to divert the media hounds that leaves only two conspiratorial possibilities to explain the attack. One, the letters were perpetrated by a cabal within the military industrial complex/biodefense sector to ellicit more government funding or to genuinely raise awareness of the threat. There were warnings to 'take penacillin', etc, which doesn't sound like something AQ would do. Hatfill was selected to take the heat to cover others.

Or two, the letters were sent by terrorists as a calling card to advertise a newly acquired deterrent and/or offensive weapon, something that would surely affect Bush's nightly sleep. Both are bad, but I believe most people would choose door number one if given an option. Reality is what it is, of course, and nothing more.

Seems to me if the Feds had anything on Hatfill they would have arrested and perp-walked him long ago, since such a thing would have provided a very reassuring visual to the public. The fact they haven't has led some to explore more insidious trails, now including a Senator in search of a truth they don't believe he can handle, whatever that might be.

ht Hatfill Deception

One year down the drain

I whizzed right past the one year anniversary of this blog Monday without noticing. McCloud, Jr., the unofficial head of the Fore Left art department, thought it might be nice to change out the header. So he did. Hopefully we don't get sued by anyone.

Anyway, for those folks who've deliberately clicked here more than once, thank you for your interest and patronage. For those visiting for the first time, why on earth, I mean, welcome! I'd like to propose a toast to everyone--including Blogger for the ability to have an interweb voice. Salud!


Noticed that someone visited the site via a google search looking for the best decorated cities during the holidays. For some dang reason the AlGoreithm directed them here. Wha? Oh. Simple reason--I spelled decorated wrong, and so did they. My indexed post was about a 'decoated Marine', and google hasn't forgotten. To any Marines reading this, I'm definitely in favor of Marines having coats.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't fence us out

It's simply amazing that any official with the Mexican government could say the following with a straight face:
Mexican Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, who is president of the 47-member council, said the resolution will denounce the fence for violating human rights and driving undocumented migrants to cross the border in more remote and dangerous areas.
Translated, the Mexicans are going to report us to the UN for enforcing our own laws, which their citizens are helping to break. Such a concept must be 'foreign' to them.

Meanwhile, the local FBI just broke up a prostitution ring operating here in the River City consisting of imported illegal alien hookers. Perhaps Mr. de Alba would like to tack another charge onto his complaint. Surely he could find some kind of rights violation with that as well.

MORE 10/25/06

One of the reasons the illegal immigration issue will not be addressed by either party (other than to build a few walls on the border) is rooted in the work ethic of the illegals, such as showing up on time, no union membership, no hassles with paperwork, etc. In other words, a near sexual experience for businesses looking for dependable workers (and the libs want these people to vote).

Take a gander at this You Tube video (caution- strong language) of an apparent Nestle contractor rounding up illegals for a job. His cancerous verbiage and cavalier willingness to break the law makes it hard to be optimistic about the future of this country, unless we can get a grip.

Manatee in Memphis

In the river, that is. One of the lovable cow-like marine creatures was spotted in the Big Muddy on Monday and caused quite a stir.

Surely there's some juvenile way to tie this event to the Ford family, Bob Corker or even Bush.

I got it. This poor wandering creature was obviously lost due to Katrina. Since Bush allowed Katrina then blew the levees the big fella simply can't find the ocean. Bush knows--he's always known--and is keeping the lost Manatee problem under wraps by muzzling government climate scientists so as not to spill the inconvenient truth as told by Al Gore.

On Monday two 'truth-seekers' climbed the ledge in front of the NOAA building in Silver Spring, MD and chanted, "Bush: Let NOAA Tell the Truth," before being plucked off by a police cherry picker. Their rationale:
...NOAA denies scientific evidence that recent severe weather, such as powerful hurricanes, is caused by climate change. They also allege NOAA withholds proof of this effect.
Apparently they were out smoking something the day the teacher explained the definition of climate. And howza bout that hurricane thing? Really working out well so far, eh? But such are only speedbumps on the path to gloomdom. We must have faith in climate science, which clearly shows the smoky end is in sight, er, unless the democrats take the Congress next month.

On second thought, maybe we better check the Manatee. It could be an environmentalist in a Manatee suit trying to make a point. Or maybe it's just Borat.

MORE 10/25/06

Heavens, by the sound of this story we've got a clone of the movie "Jaws" developing in the Wolf River harbor to the Mississippi:
Underweight or not, the manatee drew scores of residents and kayakers to the harbor area Tuesday.

"We're going to have all of Memphis down here," Vidulich said as he watched onlookers from a Harbor Patrol boat.
Jaws afficionados will recall the dramatic point where Quint says, "he's gone under the boat!". Well, we've got that too,
"I think he dove, John," Vidulich called out to Officer John Leonard, who was steering the vessel. "He might be under the boat."
Let's just hope some of our local yahoos don't do anything stupid. That's why I'm staying home.

UPDATE 10/26/06

Officials (perhaps the person in charge of the lost Manatee office--hey don't put it past the Herenton administration) have scehduled a rescue of the sea cow today. Whether "Manny" desires a rescue or even cares for his new name is unknown at this time.

A good blogger would have grabbed a digital camera and rushed to the scene. As for me, I'll just depend on those being paid to do it, who now say Manny has trapped himself between two barges for the time being. Meanwhile, officials nervously await the arrival of the Sea World team, who it seems must have taken the train.

EPILOGUE 10/28/06

It's amazing how good intentions can sometimes look so silly. Manny the Memphis Manatee has apparently decided to swim off somewhere else like Manatees are apt to do, rather than being 'rescued' here. Perhaps he was scared away by all the watercraft and news helicopters, or perhaps he just wasn't ready to leave yet.

This event was just one of those animal oddities, just like the crocodile who managed to reach Lake Placid. Oh wait, that was just a movie.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A careful, calculating centrist

That's what Newsweek calls Harold Ford, jr, receipient of this week's cover shot. "Not your daddy's democrat", is how they describe him. They're right, he's not near as radical as his daddy, just a heap more, well, calculating.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal points out what would be a problem for others:
The article carries a picture of Ford praying with his staff before a recent debate, and reprises his history, and his family's history.
Surely such a display should indicate conclusive evidence of Christo-fascism run-amok; the horrors of merging church and state; and the impending road to Armageddoom. Sounds like the left needs to get on the stick to stop this dangerous zealot from reaching power!

Huffpo has a column today wondering whether Tennessee will 'vote black', going as far to suggest the our vote will serve as a bellweather for Barrack Obama's presidential aspirations. That's more than a little condescending, though, since they're basing it only on skin color, unless Obama is actually a long lost member of the Ford family. The two are quite different.

But Newsweek doesn't jest--Ford is indeed a moderate democrat. The wildcard faced by Tennessee voters is determining whether Harold will maintain that voting record should his party take control. His past record has been accomplished under Republican House control, it remains to be seen whether he'll drift more towards port if Pelosi and company take control.

Palm Aid

It's been a relatively uneventful playoff season in baseball with no controversial call or plays so far. The only thing even approaching controversial occurred in Sunday night's contest when Fox Sports zoomed in on Tigers pitcher Kenny "the Gambler" Roger's thumb to show what looked like a dreaded 'foreign substance'. Make up your own joke here.

When asked to explain he said,
"It was a big clump of dirt, and I wiped it off," Rogers said. "I didn't know it was there, and they told me and I took it off, and it wasn't a big deal."
Sure, Kenny. Everyone does that. On the playground when they're eight, maybe.

While some press outlets such as AFP didn't even mention the event at all, others showed a comparison picture of Rogers during Sunday's game and one during the ALCS against the A's. There was an orangish smudge during the ALCS, too. Weird, wild, stuff.

Did anyone else find it strange that after the umpires huddled about the smudge Rogers' on-field demeanor seemed to change? He was barking at people, gesticulating and otherwise giving the impression of being half nuts. Even his manager was concerned:
"It makes me nervous to see someone that pumped up," Leyland said.
Was the show of emotions an improvised act designed to detract attention away from the smudge? Hard to say, since Rogers has been known to get wild in the past. Regardless, the Cardinals couldn't hit him either way.

St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa was wise to not make it a big deal. Not yet, at least.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This Iraq thing

That's how Harold Ford, Jr. characterized Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in his parking lot mugging of Bob Corker's press conference Friday. No surprise there--the Iraq thing is the enigma of our time.

This is a long post only because there's just no short way to convey thoughts on a topic that's literally divided the entire world and turned yet another election into a referendum. Getting to the heart of the matter takes awhile, so here goes nothing.

What to do. It's a legitimate question to ask, "why can't we leave if there were no WMDs and no link to al Qaeda? Just admit the mistake and move on." The administration's well-rehearsed reply is sound, ie., it would embolden the enemy, but we're left high and dry on whether the original casus belli still applies. Was the mission a mistake?

Such a disconnect has led many rational Americans down a variety of wildly conspiratorial bunny trails, among those even Pat Tillman's brother. His essay is full of incredible charges on par with the leftiest loons on record. That certainly plays well for our enemies, who at last check still wanted everyone dead or wearing a keffyah.

Fact is, the divisiveness present has largely been a product of OIF, not the GWoT. Those like Tillman who've served over there cannot be easily dismissed as unhinged moonbats even if they sound like Dean. They've seen more than most.

But despite those emotions the book on Saddam cannot be closed, no matter how much the left desires it. Unanswered questions still persist--was he a threat to America or the region? What happened to his WMDs? Was he connected to AQ? An affirmative answer to any of those would clearly justify an invasion post 9/11. That doesn't mean Bush/Rumsfeld should not be held accountable for post-war screwups, it just means they didn't lie and the cause was just. Evidence does suggest contacts.

However, evidence and public perception are not always the same. Ask someone on the street and they're likely to say there weren't any connections--ever. For that we can largely thank a relentless pack of left-leaning journalists, most of whom voted for Gore and Kerry and who are now flooding the circuits with as many anti-Bush stories as humanly possible in an effort to influence the election. One of the primary rhetorical vehicles has been the 'secularists don't play well with Islamists' paradigm, which has become urban legend despite post facto evidence to the contrary. At least they're consistent.

Let me stop and say that Saddam may well be innocent of all ties to AQ. But for the sake of argument let's for a moment pretend he's not. If he wanted to use Islamic proxies to do his bidding, how would he do it?

First, everyone knows his hands were tied in the 90s due to sanctions, resolutions, pesky weapons inspectors, etc, including a CIA coup attempt and daily fighter missions in the no-fly zones. Second, a contributing factor working in his favor was a general sense that he'd been defeated, rendered harmless and placed in a box. "It's the economy, stupid" was the head-in-sand buzz phrase of the 90s, a sentiment not echoed in Baghdad.

Had he desired a revenge attack it obviously wouldn't have come via ordering the Hammarabi Division to land on Jones Beach. One way was through "individual Arabs", to which he had alluded during the Gulf War. AQ seems to fit that description rather nicely, doesn't it? We know Saddam had become aware of bin Laden's movement in the early 90s due to the verified trip to Khartoum by an Iraqi regime member.

It's conceivable that in return Saddam could offer the proxies future access to certain substances they could only dream about. There's only so much one can do inside a cave.

Yes, it's probably true they didn't trust each other or even like each other but that in itself doesn't automatically become a deal breaker. Both the Axis and Allied powers in World War II didn't necessarily like or trust each other either, yet they banded together to fight the common enemy. Besides, surely if there was an agreement they'd need a cover story and the secular vs religious paradigm would provide a plausible distance.

Evidence suggests that things changed in the mid 90s after their reported meetings. After bin Laden was expelled from Saudi and Sudan he was fast running out of safe harbor options, but if the two were in bed the last place he'd run would have been Iraq. That didn't mean he couldn't express sympathy from afar, though.

The 9/11 Commission report discussed the connection issue, now ancient history, but they also dropped a few names in the process, specifically Iraqi natives operating on behalf of AQ in North America and around the world.

The most famous two names were Abu Hajer al Iraqi and Wadi al-Hage, both of whom have been covered in a number of articles. A third more nebulous figure was Mubarak al-Duri, another Iraqi whom the 9/11 folks called "bin Laden's WMD procurement" person. Sounds like a pretty significant figure, right?

Al-Duri operated in Arizona from the late 80s through the mid 90s, then disappeared to Canada other locales before apparently settling in the Sudan around the time of 9/11. State Department envoy Barbara Bodine once called Sudan a "Holiday Inn for terrorists", however after the attacks they began cooperating in earnest, which included rounding up some unusual suspects for interrogation.

Oddly, the 9/11 report doesn't tell us that al-Duri was part of that round up. Here's an account from an alleged interview conducted by the FBI somewhere around 2001:
Another person interrogated was Mubarak Douri, an Iraqi who was regarded as part of Bin Laden's business infrastructure. Cloonan said Douri and a second Iraqi laughed when he pressed them about possible Bin Laden ties to Saddam Hussein's regime. "They said Bin Laden hated Saddam," the retired FBI investigator recalled. Bin Laden considered Hussein "a Scotch-drinking, woman-chasing apostate," the Iraqis told the former federal agent.
That last sentence certainly makes a liberal's heart go pitter-pat, but keep in mind the spiritual leader of Sudan in the 90s was Hassan al-Turabi, who was actively trying to bring together the Sunni-Shia factions in an effort to bolster their team against the great Satans. Here's what the 9/11 report said about Turabi and Iraq:
To protect his own ties with Iraq, Turabi reportedly brokered an agreement that Bin Ladin would stop supporting activities against Saddam.
Wonder what the terms of the agreement were?

For all we know al-Duri (we still don't know if he's related to Izzat, Saddam's former number two man) was telling the truth. His nationality alone doesn't make him a Mukhabarat agent, but it doesn't mean he wasn't one, either. Since the above information was gleaned from an FBI interrogation we presume he was not subjected to any 'harsh methods'.

We could easily wander off into a lengthy sidebar about the FBI's role here, such as how they knew about al-Duri and his whereabouts so quickly after 9/11, which suggests they were aware of him before 9/11, but this post is long enough. Suffice to say any targets even remotely associated with Hani Hanjour could cause embarrasment in light of the famous email that never got to HQ.

We're left to believe the FBI took his "bin Laden hates Saddam" testimony at face value much in the same manner the Senate Intelligence Committee took the testimonies of Saddam and Tariq Aziz in their Phase II report, as if these people were incapable of lying. As if.

I suppose that begs a final question--why didn't the FBI pick up al-Duri in 2001 if he was, as the 9/11 report stated two years later, bin Laden's 'WMD procurement agent'? Was he cleared during the interrogation, and if so, why did the 9/11 report bother mentioning him at all? There's a lot about this stuff I don't pretend to know, but it would seem only common sense to get him off the streets.

All of the above goes toward a scenario where Saddam's role in AQ is being intentionally kept under wraps for whatever reasons. The fact he's still alive might tell us something, especially since we're beginning to get hints that America is willing to negotiate with the insurgency, but only with a certain flavor:
“I am sure that there has been contacts between us and people linked with Baathists (the party of ousted president Saddam Hussein) to a certain extent,” Fernandez said.
So long as the above irregularities and others (the ubiquitous cases of Abdul Yasin, Rayed Mohammad Abdullah Ali, or even Abu Nidal) remain cloudy "this Iraq thing" will never be entirely solved to everyone's satisfaction. At least not before November 7th.


Dilbert's Scott Adams thinks he's cracked this enigma. He used a lot of words, too. I found these to be of particular interest:
1. Announce the pullout on the same day that Saddam Hussein (presumably) gets executed.
Interesting, the first verdict comes down November 5.

It's not absurd to think some top GOP movershakers might be whispering in Bush's ear to declare victory and chopper out. Perhaps they're concerned about the dems getting Congress then dragging out a withdrawal to their own benefit right before the next election.

Anyway, meetings with Sunni troublemakers have apparently taken place in Jordan while back here the press is keying on Bush's meetings with his Generals. Add to that Maliki's recent photo-op with al-Sadr and Sistani and it should leave little doubt that something is in the wind.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Crash and burn?

Many around the country might be wondering why.

After pulling even in a race nobody gave him a chance to win, why would Harold Ford, Jr barge in on Bob Corker's Friday press conference in Memphis and challenge him to an ad hoc debate in the parking lot? Did he bother to study the risk/reward?


It's important to understand why Corker came to Ford's home turf in the first place. He came to Memphis to unveil his ethics reform initiatives designed to stop lobbyists with family members in Congress from being Congressional lobbyists. That would include Harold's dad Harold, a lobbyist living in Florida. It goes hand in hand with his ad campaign.

Another plank of the reform measure just happened to be 'full disclosure' of all government-paid trips, to which Ford, Jr has apparently taken about 69, at least according to another Corker commercial.

This isn't real hard to figure. Ford has effectively voted and talked himself into a conservative, therefore Corker has no other option but to go after his only vulnerability--the Ford family. Coming into Junior's backyard to announce these measures was surely a political "calling out" and was probably designed to ellicit some kind of response, perhaps the one they got. In other words, it worked.

Regarding the possible fallout from this stunt, commenter LASunsett made the following analysis in the immigration post below:
If Ford loses this race, one may be able to point back to this event and say, this could have been a breaking point in his campaign. I have tried to come up with an answer as to why he would do this, especially when he was leading in the polls. I can't.

The whole thing makes Ford look immature.
I'll second that, and stand by my initial reaction that Ford was trying to create a stunt to deflect the media away from Corker's initiative, which is itself designed to essentially paint Harold back into his family portrait.

Early morning scans from the middle and eastern blogs show no large shock waves. The left-slanted blogs seemed to be ignoring it. Fair and balanced Knoxville blogger Michael Silence took a pass, although the event might have occurred too late in the day Friday to make his deadline. Not sure whether the timing favored Corker or Ford on this one. Instapundit (ht for the video) ran several links ensuring national visibility, but only Tennessee voters matter.

Speaking of voting, an online poll at WREG-TV in Memphis was standing at 55-42 against, whatever an internet poll is worth. Speaking of real voting, the early version is now underway, but Diebolt has yet to miscount mine (lines were too long).

MORE 10/21/06

Bill Hobbs thinks Ford's stunt backfired, but he's a professional political analyst. Now, if Lane Wilson's opinion is shared by a lot of others in the east, Ford might be in trouble. He already seems to be in trouble with some on the far left.

Friday, October 20, 2006

"Descend, descend, descend"

That cryptic message was uttered from their onboard TCAS collision avoidance system shortly after the British Airways (Speedbird) 777 left Tampa for London. The warning triggered a 600 foot freefall, leaving four cabin crew members injured and most of the passengers in need of a change of underwear.

TCAS (traffic alert and collision avoidance system) has been available on commercial jets for several decades. It provides a proximity radar sweep of each equipped airplane's immediate airspace to determine other traffic and to warn of possible collisions. In critical moments airline captains are instructed to abide by TCAS rather than air traffic controller instructions.

The most famous TCAS-related crash occurred in Europe several years ago. In that case one of the pilots heeded TCAS while the other listened to ATC. In a macbre twist the father of one of the victims later hunted down the air controller and killed him.

For an interesting fictional read on this stuff try Paul McElroy's "TRACON". It's one of the more realistic books on ATC and focuses on near-misses. Not a good flight time read, though.

Illegal immigration tall grass

Have you noticed? As we approach November the immigration issue is nowhere to be seen, a stark contrast to the emotional Cinco de Mayo rallies seen just a few months ago. Candidates on both sides have immersed themselves in Iraq, Foley, macaca, slaves--anything but immigration.

What of Harold Ford and illegals? Well, Junior is currently running an ad accusing Bob Corker of hiring illegals on one of his job sites in 1988, yet fails to clearly explain his own position. Corker has made his position clear but it's been defused by the Ford hypocrisy charge.

On the official Ford website there's a section called, "Harold on the issues". We don't find an illegal immigration box, but we do find a position on making America competitive vis a vis foreign workers stealing American jobs, but nothing on illegals stealing American jobs.

On the fan site there's a sidebar section called "Ford on the issues", but you'll not see anything jumping out. Ironically there is a bullet point on 'gas price relief'. Somebody didn't get the memo.

None of this is to say he hasn't taken a stand on the immigration issue, he's just not making a big deal out of it. And why should he, it's the new third rail of politics. The Ford crew prepared a defense--scream hypocrisy then run back to the tall grass. So far it's working.

Yep, it's deluded and wishful thinking to assume either party will do anything on this issue other than window dress it. The relevance here is to illustrate how carefully crafted Ford's image is and how well he's being handled, not only on the immigration issue but on everything. His voting record has completely removed any exploitable distinctions between himself and any republican challenger.

That sets up an almost insane construct for Bob Corker whereby criticizing Ford's positions literally amounts to criticizing himself. The only arrows left in the quiver are to attack Junior for being from a west Tennessee political machine and accuse him of Volunteer heresy by not attending UT.

That defaults the race to a popularity contest between a hick-talker and a slick-talker...a guy from Tennessee, and a guy from DC. If nothing else you've gotta admire the Rovian-like brilliance in that.


Looks like we almost had a Jerry Springer moment here in Memphis today. Ford crashed a local Corker press conference challenging him to a parking lot debate about Iraq. Corker refused, of course.

This is still sketchy, but it's possible Ford was trying to deflect media attention away from Corker's agenda, which was to focus on Ford's dad Harold and his lobbyist practices along with Junior's many taxpayer funded trips. Just a hunch.

MOORE 10/21/06

East Tennessee blogger Nathan Moore points out the lack of civility from some fellow Vols regards the election. Not surprising, but keep in mind Harold's not the only 'bitch slapper' in Tennessee--the Guerilla Gals have been known to do a little slappin' of their own:
There is a rising tide of anger among rank and file Dems in this state over the fact that you can't tell a Democrat from a Republican. Many of us are fed up with Democratic candidates and elected officials who could just as easily be Republican.
Apparently Harold's no-show was a little incident that Time has forgotten.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

NLCS game seven

This blog is about back spin and baseballs certainly qualify since they tend to spin. Tonight my beloved St. Louis Cardinals face elimination or a trip to the Series.

Tony LaRussa said something about game seven being a magical opportunity for his players--a Kodak moment sort of thing. Talking about politicians spinning. Ask him if he'd prefer a magical game seven or a resounding throttling in game six with his ace on the mound?

Since most game sevens go to the home team the Mets will probably win, but in baseball you never know. The game-to-game momentum slightly favors the Mets but remember, all the pundits said this series would never reach a game six. LaRussa should remind the troops about what the ESPN clowns and NY talking heads said at the beginning of the series and hope it works.

My strategy? Jump out to an early lead and remove the crowd (not literally) since Met fans tend to be more pessimistic than their Yankee brethren. Plan B, let the Mets get the lead then score ten runs in the ninth. I'll take either, along with the potential eggface that might come from posting this now.


Yadier Molina--the ultimate unlikely hero. Great game, great catch, one of the best game seven catches ever. Suppan deserved the MVP, he's been clutch in a lot of the big games.

The World Series will be a reprise of 1968, won by the Tigers with Mickey Lolich. Time for some payback.

By the way, one of the Cardinal players, John Rodriguez, actually has a blog.


From the WaPo's Thomas Boswell. He Sums it up nicely--the worst team to make the series. But it's far from an uncomplimentary story.

As to Endy Chavez's catch:
Henceforward, if the ex-Nat Chavez wants to make any more such plays, he will have to clear his flight path with the control tower at La Guardia. Otherwise, NORAD may start scrambling jets.
Roger that.

The Sniper master

Hate to keep picking on CNN here but it appears they've embarked on a full frontal assault on the Iraq war down the home stretch of this election. Today's courageous effort consisted of hyping an enemy propaganda tape obtained 'from intermediaries':
The video is disturbing to watch but CNN believes the story, shocking as it is, needs to be told.
Just keep in mind they're the same network who forged an access agreement with Saddam, which captured regime documents seem to illustrate:
• Give CNN the priority to cover this incident to make a bigger effect on the international community.
Additionally, who could forget the Eason Jordan allegation?

But perhaps their story does need to be told since this video provides tidbits of information about the real enemy we face. The "Islamic Army of Iraq" certainly has a slick video production team traveling with the sniper team to make the most of their efforts. According to the video it also appeared the terrorists have taken a page from DC sniper John Allen Mohammed's playbook by using the trunk space of automobiles to fire shots before speeding off.

The Islamic Army of Iraq is led by Ishmael Jubouri, a Sunni from Baghdad who appears to be well trained in tactical military procedures. He refrained sending many fighters into the second battle of Falluja, for example, because he didn't think they could succeed there. That doesn't sound like the modus operandi of a bunch of fanatics.

According to the WaPo story Jubouri is a member of "a proiminent Sunni tribe" south of Baghdad, which de facto implies he might have had status in Saddam Hussein's former regime. But information is rather sketchy, so we're left to guess at his affiliations by studying the IAI's words and deeds. Case in point, how did they react to the recent declaration of independence issued by the Mujahideen Shura Council? Well,
A key Sunni bloc, the Muslim Scholars Association, denounced the declaration, as did some Sunni insurgent groups, including the Islamic Army, which said in a statement that it was not an enemy of the country's Shiites and was against the breakup of Iraq.
Let's see, another fairly well-known figure has also been on the bandwagon against the breakup of Iraq:
"We are a united and undivided people... made up of Arabs, Kurds and various religions and communities," he said.
Circumstantially speaking it sounds like Ishmael could be taking direction from the old boss, but it's hard to say. After all, Saddam stands to gain personally through chaos produced by sectarian violence. At the same time a divided Iraq favors Iran. It's an enigma that will no doubt strain the strategic mind of James Baker.

Back here in America only time will tell how the MSM's eleventh hour assault on Iraq might influence the elections next month. We live in a reality where opinion is shaped by the latest editorial, news story, or IED explosion. But amidst all the politics here it's nice to see at least a few observers in the Middle East haven't lost perspective.

REACTION 10/19/06

CNN's propaganda story has elicited a bombardment of negative feedback. Check Blogsearch, for example, or visit a milblog like Blackfive.

God only knows how CNN can top today's version--they still have another installment in their special three-part pre-election series--but God knows they'll try. Maybe they could focus on something like this. N'ah, probably not important enough.

(HT Gateway Pundit, Formerspook)

CNN DEFENDS 10/20/06

Anderson Cooper is defending the decision to air the video on his 360 blog, which he said was a nerve wracking decision which went all the way to the top. It's not very convincing to me.

Torture for our time

Was scanning some Middle Eastern news sites and came across this article from the Khaleej Times:
Most people around the world reject the use of torture to glean information, even if it could save the lives of innocent victims of a terrorist attack, a poll published on Thursday showed.
The survey was conducted for the BBC by PIPA, a group associated with the University of Maryland and funded by charities such as Teresa Kerry's Tides Foundation and Ben and Jerry's. The bottom line of the finding?
“The dominant view around the world is that terrorism does not warrant bending the rules against torture,” said Steven Kull, PIPA’s director.
For perspective this group recently conducted a poll asking people in several countries how terrorism suspects should be treated, whether as illegal combatants or generic suspects with full rights of due process. Here's their headline:
Americans Support Full Due-Process Rights for Terrorism Suspects ... Majorities Oppose Rendition of Suspects to Countries that Practice Torture
Just remember who started the rendition program and when, and ask yourself why this wasn't a major topic back in the day. Whoops sorry liberals, Clinton digression disease strikes again. Back to the chalk line..

Surely the bulk of responders don't really think we should capture AQ suspects and not ask them any questions, therefore we're discussing methods of interrogation and not whether suspects should be interrogated. The question becomes when does interrogation slide into torture.

But hey, let's all let out a collective "D'uh". NOBODY in their right mind condones torture in the conventional sense. We need to know precisely what defines the unconventional sense if this survey is to mean anything. For example, to some torture might mean going without Twinkies for a day.

John McCain just came off a showdown with Bush on this topic, which basically specificates Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a solution that led to a passage of a bill on the matter. Feel free to peruse the link and read about the allowable 'harsh methods', that is unless you've already committed them to memory.

For those playing at home here are the PIPO questions asked in the survey. Drum roll, please:
A) Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives, or

B) Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture
Not too terribly slanted, but not comprehensive enough. Let's propose a few more:
A) If your government strongly suspected a terrorist had prior knowledge that a plan was in process to explode a nuclear bomb in YOUR city, perhaps under your neighbor's house, would you be in favor of "harsh" interrogation methods being used on that suspect?

B) Suppose terrorists kidnapped your child and are holding her in a small sealed hole in the ground. The air is running out. One of the terrorists is captured, but refuses to talk. Would you support leeway in the authorities' ability to interrogate that suspect?
When questions are moved out of the philosophical and into the personal people tend to respond differently. This was clearly in evidence in the survey results as a majority of people from India favored leeway, not surprising since they hold the dubious distinction of hosting the most recent attack. That doesn't necessarily make it right, it just makes the results different.

Most rational people agree on the potential slippery slope of this issue. The perverbial fly in the ointment continues to be the modern spectre of WMDs and other mass casaulty options available to terrorists, which makes it harder for world leaders to uphold Jeffersonian values in efforts to protect the citizenry. Remember, even the Jeffster considered this conundrum in his day and offered an opinion. Check out the sidebar.

Upon deep reflection it sometimes seems that unless we can find a way to disarm the entire planet, or unless Klaatu makes an appearance and does it for us, the answer to this question will remain elusive and left to situational practicality. After all, what good is Geneva, the Constitution or due process if we're all blown away?


Cap'n Ed covers the topic and links to footage of Clinton's take on the matter.

I keep harping on this like a broken record only because we see story after story about rendition with nary a hint of historical context. It was the Clinton government who developed and shaped the modern program blamed on Bush today. Fact is, support for rendition is bipartisan. The failure to acknowledge this simple fact seems to be more evidence of which entities are really trying to divide America.

In sum, if we're going to have a rendition program it seems to make more sense rendering captured AQ to secret CIA detainment camps rather than exporting them to places like Egypt, where torture is a certainty. I don't like the thought of either, but two successive American presidents of different political stripes apparently disagree and think it necessary. Who am I to argue?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Media reality check

Add CNN to the list of MSM outlets publishing stories intentionally designed to sway voter opinion leading up to the November elections. Although many might say, "we already knew that", such opinions are usually the result of reading biased news stories, not outright commentary.

So, while scandals swirl around Harry Reid and while Steny Hoyer is accused of making racist remarks we get this "three part" headline look about how things are going in Iraq, just to make sure nobody forgets the most promising democrat talking point. Written by CNN's Joshua Levs, the commentary even includes a disclaimer alluding to a "war of words" between political sides leading up to the elections, as if this piece alone was going to clear everything up.

Message board veterans might recognize Mr. Levs's phraseology:
Early in the Iraq conflict, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed insurgents as "dead-enders." In 2004, President Bush said the battle against these fighters was "turning a corner." In 2005, he described a "turning point," and Vice President Dick Cheney said the insurgency was in its "last throes."
Ridiculously optimistic in hindsight (the media hates optimism) but what were they supposed to say? Leaders have to remain positive even when everyone else is negative. A CNN/ Bob Woodward world works this way--after trailing 24-14 at halftime of the championship game coach Parcells comes up to the TV booth and says "we made some mistakes in the gameplan, we've had setbacks, so I've decided we're outa here, game over."

Here's a different sports analogy. After their game one loss in the NLCS St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols was quoted as saying Mets pitcher Tom Glavine wasn't that good, even though he allowed zero runs. In reality he was correct, since the Cards had peppered line drives all over the park but they were caught. Ballplayers look to the positive while the media tends to dwell on the negative. Nothing gets their juices up more than seeing the negative actually occur.

Perhaps CNN will wander into more depth in their next two installments about who's fighting whom and where that might lead if we abandon ship. For example, conventional wisdom said if we left Vietnam Pol Pot would be freed up to kill, and he was. In this conflict, conventional wisdom says our departure would perhaps double, triple or triple-qaudruple the Lancet civilian death figure (mentioned by CNN in this article) caused by the entire region falling into war.

As to the above, one must try real hard not to think such a development would be the 'gift that keeps on giving' for the democrats and CNN, since they could conceivably spend the next two decades reminding everyone who was to blame. Consider how certain media outlets and democrats are currently spinning the North Korea nuclear flareup as entirely Bush's fault, even though it was obvious to everyone Kim Jong never had intentions of stopping his WMD programs and was cheating on the Agreed Framework while Clinton was boinking Monica and Dubya was still governing Texas. Imagine how a disgraced exit from Iraq would be spun.

No, the question remains the same as back in 2004--is Iraq worth the fight? Do the drawbacks of leaving outweight the positives of staying, or vice versa? Was Saddam somehow complicit in the terrorism during the 90s? Do his minions now fighting for control of Iraq have any further destructive potential? How would our leaving impact the oil markets, including OPEC and tinhorns like Chavez, and how would it impact Israel and the Palestinians?

If we determine the war is worth fighting then troops are tragically going to get injured and some will die, all the reason to pull out immediately if we collectively determine it's not. That's the only reality check we need. November will decide.

MORE 10/18/06

After the above was posted I checked CNN.com's main headline and it had changed to "Ten Soldiers Killed in Iraq", By afternoon that story was nowhere to be found, replaced by one about four soldiers being charged with rape.

This falls in line with a Little Green Footballs post on how the Jihadis are planning to ramp up the killing in coordination with the upcoming election:
“The people of jihad need to carry out a media war that is parallel to the military war and exert all possible efforts to wage it successfully. This is because we can observe the effect that the media have on nations to make them either support or reject an issue.”
If challenged, CNN would probably claim to be an international media company not an American one. But who around the world, outside of the liberal establishment here, would actually buy that?

MORE 10/19/06

In case you missed Bush's interview with George Stephanopoulis, he was asked if the current situation in Iraq compares to the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968:
"He could be right. There's certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we're heading into an election."
So, how does al-Reuters headline their story?
Bush sees possible Iraq-Vietnam parallel
Memo to Bush--never allow any comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq in the same interview, no matter how trivial. If you do, the media will run with it like a dog who's just stolen a hunk of pork off your Crawford barbeque pit.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Hot Fuss over Green Day

Being that I'm past 40 it might be silly to even discuss the subject of modern rock music. My rock knowledge pretty much trailed off somewhere after the third Boston album as my musical tastes wandered off elsewhere for a decade or so. While I was 'gone' hip-hop hippity hopped all over the planet.

But after being forced some new music on a recent trip the "Killers" turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Green Day, not so much, partly due to their hippie politics.

And after reading this I've developed even more respect for the Killers:
THE KILLERS frontman BRANDON FLOWERS has slammed rock band GREEN DAY's negative attitude towards the US. Flowers insists he is offended by the AMERICAN IDIOT rockers' portrayal of America, and has criticised the band's supposedly disloyal decision to film their DVD, BULLET IN A BIBLE, in the UK. He says, "You have Green Day and American Idiot. Where do they film their DVD? In England. "A bunch of kids screaming 'I don't want to be an American idiot' - I saw it as a very negative thing towards Americans. It really lit a fire in me.
That's good to hear. I also found this tidbit from Mr. Flowers:
“When I look at my dad, or through my dad’s eyes, it’s weird to see how messed up things are getting. But through him I’ve learned a lot about values that used to exist, and I think those show their face on the new album.”
Support from older farts such as myself can't be good for their image, though.

(HT Jim Rose)