Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gridlock Friday here we come

Pardon me whilst I engage in a little local flavor. For any Memphis readers, yes, we have a little winter storm event predicted for tonight and tomorrow (official mass hysteria to begin shortly) but the city apparently decided it might also be fun to close the intersection at Walnut Grove Rd and Humphreys Blvd at 9 AM at the same time. Just part of the ongoing tangled mess already ongoing.
Memphis city engineer Wain Gaskins said forecasts for subfreezing temperatures Friday night forced officials to move up the beginning of the work to Friday morning.

"You have to have a certain temperature to manufacture asphalt and lay it to where it will harden properly," Gaskins said.
Hmmm. The forecast high for Memphis Friday is 37. The contractors are saying they can't lay blacktop at temps below freezing, but it's only going to be 5 degrees above that tomorrow, with possible frozen precipitation as well. This should be interesting.

Now, excuse me but it's state law that I run to the supermarket and get milk and bread.

BACK 11/30

Time for some limb walking. As to the snow day, it just ain't gonna happen. Living 'round here for more than a decade whenever low pressures (those red L's on the map) go directly overhead we get nothing. The red L's need to go a few hundred miles south of here for us to get clobbered. Besides, the weather rock isn't cold.

The Letter

It's rather absurd to think James Baker will soon suggest opening a dialog with this nut.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's love letter to the American people was just as condescending as his first attempt, but a little less bizarre. Expert analysis abounds on the web (except from web sites in Iran) but here's my two cent rant, for what it's worth:
But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.
I wasn't aware polls showed we were in favor of wiping Israel off the map. Go figure.
Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq, nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.
This could be one of the most ludicrous paragraphs ever placed on paper, subtracting anything Jimmy Carter has recently penned. The lies are so dastardly they aren't worth refuting one by one, but what a nice touch with the "Bush lied, people died" reference. Wonder if Michael Moore gets any residuals?
Noble Americans,
Wait, doesn't he mean "Death to America"? Probably just got lost in translation.
As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.
I'm calling extreme hypocrisy on this one. Just how much aid money did Iran give to help Karina victims? Apparently less than I did.. Even Afghanistan gave 100K. Remember the 2003 earthquake in Iran? The US gave millions. Oh, and how much did they give to help the tsunami victims? Less than a million. That's sort of like an Al Gore tax return by comparison.

But speaking of suffering, people continue to die in Darfur at the hands of a radical Islamist government. It appears Mahmoud doesn't care much about black Africans, either.

Finally, for some reason this paragraph stood out as odd to me:
Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities
Is this a reminder of potential 'sleeper cells' here, or am I misreading it?

Anyway, my first thought upon reading this was a line from 'Rush Hour' where Chris Tucker's character says to Jackie Chan's, paraphrasing, "do you really believe the s$$t that's coming outa yo mouth?". But using that analogy would be a serious disservice to both Tucker and Chan.

MORE 11/30/06

ABC (per Drudge) is reporting possible smoking gun evidence of Iranian weapons being shipped to the Shia militias in Iraq. If true, kinda makes A'jad's letter a joke before the left can effectively de-spin themselves from it. Not to mention the effect on James Baker's ISG report.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Jamil Hussein located?

This photograph was just sent to Fore Left from a trusted source in the region. It looks like it could be the notorious Jamil Hussein, purported spokesman for the AP in Iraq.

To say otherwise, we believe, would be ludicrous.

MORE 11/30/06

OK, my half baked attempt at photoshopping aside, the above pitcher (as some say down south) was meant to convey a point about the possible background of this particular spokesman, "Officer Hussein". Here's further clarification from Patterico, quoting someone inherently more legitimate.

even more 11/30/06

Hot Air pointed out the DoD's screwup on placing the Iraqi Interior Ministry's spokesman on their unverified spokesman list, a very good catch that brings into question our ability to identify Arab names. The problem is that very same guy came out and stated that Jamil Hussein wasn't someone on their payroll. You'd think the MOI's spokesman, an Iraqi, wouldn't be confused with Arabic names.

yet more 12/1/06

Flopping Aces' stubborn coverage has produced some very illuminating replies from the AP's middle east spokeslady. It seems pretty clear he's burrowed way in under her skin. To bring up Saddam Hussein in comparison to anything occurring now is beyond the pale to the third power.

That said, I can see a possible reason for AP keeping "Jamil Hussein" under wraps. Perhaps he's an actual Baghdad Police captain but wants to remain anonymous due to the demographics of his precinct. If such were the case it would be impossible to finger the real captain for verification, and they wouldn't even be able to even admit such a thing. However, their arrogant and condescending explanations seem to suggest otherwise, and in spades.

What about Juba the CNN Sniper? Was he actually captured? Getting him would seem a huge moral victory for our side and quite newsworthy. Perhaps Captain Hussein is working the story right now..

NSA surveillance program OK with Lanny

After years of hyperventilation about Bush's law-breaking, Constitution-busting NSA terrorist surveillance program, the crescendo of caterwauls from the port side may soon be nearing an end:
"If the American public, especially civil libertarians like myself, could be more informed about how careful the government is to protect our privacy while still protecting us from attacks, we'd be more reassured," said Lanny Davis , a former Clinton White House lawyer who is the board's lone liberal Democrat.
Yeah, the commission was appointed by Bush and the Republican Congress but Davis, a former Clintonite, is hardly a rubber stamp. Opined Captain Ed,
After all, having a former Clinton aide wish he could reveal more about a secret program to reassure people of the good work done by it rather than to torpedo the Bush administration should raise some eyebrows among the paranoid. .
Paranoid might be too strong a generalization, since anyone genuinely concerned about protecting the Constitution and civil liberties is OK in my book. The paranoia mainly came from moonbats who if given absolute power would just as soon throw conservatives into a lion's den for being conservative that made it a joke.

At any rate, one of the reasons speculated for Pelosi's snub of Rep Jane Harmon for the House Intelligence Committee Chairmanship was her steadfast refusal to jump on that hyperbolic train after she was briefed on the program (ie, didn't help leak it to the NYT). Based on this report it appears she had good reason--they went a long way to protect civil liberties and, oh yeah, the program was necessary. Only when people stop to realize we're still an active target can they adequately appreciate that fact.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ball of confusion

Philosophy and religion seem to be converging in a big ball throughout the middle east this week. Perhaps a tad melodramatic, but UN Ambassador John Bolton has said the future of the region might well be decided during the next few days.

Meanwhile the Rodney Dangerfield of Ba'ath terrorism, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri (he just can't get any respect) is in the news again. Some may remember his recent decree telling Ba'ath terrorists to stand down their attacks on the Coalition shortly after Saddam was sentenced to swing. Looks like he's changed his mind:
'He told us in a letter that no talk, no contact, no reconciliation (is allowed) with the occupier or their stooges,' one former top Iraqi Baath leader told the AP in Damascus.

Another former Baathist, also in Syria but only temporarily, quoted a recent letter from Ibrahim to his followers outside Iraq as saying: 'Only the mujahadeen (fighters) are entitled to decide what they should do, and nobody else.'
A few days ago we learned about a scheduled meeting this week between al-Maliki and lower-level Ba'athists--not to include the likes of al-Duri or other most-wanted figures. One could speculate that Izzat's letters are meant to dissuade the participation of lower-level operatives still in-country. Only time will tell if it had any affect on the meeting, or whether Izzat himself still has any affect on anybody.

More interesting were the references to Syria. Aside from the Hariri and Gemayel murders, they've been implicated as a conduit for re-arming Hizballah and facilitating the cross-country movement of Mehdi Army terrorists for training purposes. According to Jordan they were the point of origin for terrorists who were planning to gas Amman back in 2004. And of course there's that claim the Syrians accepted some of Saddam's weaponry before the invasion. Considering everything we know such a notion doesn't sound far-fetched.

It's also beyond speculation they've allowed themselves to become a superhighway for foreign jihadis on their way to becoming ordnance in Iraq--but mostly of the Sunni stripe, while the jihadis entering through Iran are supposedly Shia flavor. That's why the Syrian-Iranian alliance is so weird.

Assad, like Saddam, is more Arab than Muslim, but apparently not Arab enough to keep him from hopping in the sack with the Persian Ayatollahs if the need arises. That would seem to be an exploitable weakness, if not for Israel. But if nothing else it proves just how much Assad wants the US to fail in Iraq, which was predicted by Yossef Bodansky in his book "The Secret History of the Iraq War" several years ago in which he surmised that Saddam was in cahoots with both Syria and Iran (and the PLO) to drive the US out of the region through organized destablization efforts.

So far every single leak from the Baker/Hamilton commission suggests dialogue with Syria, but the average guy on the street might say (in light of all the nefarious behavior from Assad) that any such dialogue should be in the form of an ultimatum, perhaps in the spirit of Reagan's "the bombing begins in five minutes" slip-up.

Of course, the average guy also never seems to have the proverbial big picture. Thing is, there's no evidence the big picture guys have the big picture, either.

MORE 11/28/06

An Iraqi ex-pat says Sunnis are doing fine in southern Iraq, which dispels the notion of a true civil war. It does, however, comport just fine with the notion that Syria is helping the Ba'athists and Iranians in an effort to hasten our departure.

Some blame this mess on Paul Bremer for de-Ba'ath-ifying the new government after we took Baghdad, which seems to ignore the influence of top regime figures who fled the country and had access to piles of cash and weapons.

LEAKY TIMES 11/28/06

The New York Times is heralding another bombshell leak. This time they've come into possession of a secret briefing memo prepared by NSA Stephen Hadley intended to give President Bush an assessment of possible strategies that Iraqi PM Maliki might wish to pursue in the very near future. The timing is certainly interesting since the two leaders are set to meet Wednesday in Jordan.

It's tempting to believe this was yet another example of the Times finding some empassioned whistleblower fed up with fascism within the administration and wishing to bare soul to save the world, and such may be the case. But the election is over. It seems more likely this memo was deliberately leaked (or even written) to carry a message in advance of Bush's pow-wow. Better put, a pre-meeting riot act for Maliki.

The suggestions seem a tall order for anyone, especially someone whom the document says might not have all the necessary clues at the moment. At the same time it demands progress, so take that for what it's worth. It also isn't shy about threatening to target Iran's proxy agents and suggests the Saudis could somehow "lean on" the Syrians to break up their Ba'athist sanctuaries. Meanwhile we have this fluttering peace dove circling the area, aka the Baker/Hamilton Commission, that everybody believes will be calling for a general US kow-tow to both Ahmadinejad and Assad. The plot doth thicken.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Supreme Court to rule on global warming

Actually they've taken a case regarding whether the EPA should regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles as a 'pollutant':
A sharply divided federal appeals court ruled in favor of the government in 2005. But last June, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case, plunging for the first time into the politically charged debate over global warming. The ruling next year is expected to be one of the court's most important ever involving the environment.
The AP story went on to quote a spokesman from the Sierra Club and mentioned the recent Democrat takeover of Congress, but didn't bother to get comments from any actual scientists. Therefore, as a service to those who don't have time to dig around, I present to you here some scientific discussion on the issue. Here's a highlight:
The American Meteorological Society’s Glossary lists the definition as: air pollution - The presence of substances in the atmosphere, particularly those that do not occur naturally.
Since none of the SCOTUS judges are scientists or experts it will be interesting to see how arrive at such a decision, since it would seem the definition of pollutant is key here.

MORE 11/27/06

Drudge has an entire section of embarrassing flashbacks about the hurricane season that wasn't. This was my favorite quote:
As they say about the stock market: Past results are no indication of future performance. This year's uneventful season provides no assurance that next year will be as calm:
Quite true. But some folks believe the weatherman's hands have been tied. Just call it a high-flying conspiracy.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


WASHINGTON - The war in Iraq has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in the war that President Bush's father fought in, World War II. As of Sunday, the conflict in Iraq has raged for three years and just over eight months.
This breathless AP column goes on to provide a smorgasbord of nonsensical commentary on why this represents anything other than a convenient hammer to smack Bush over the head.

While the left vehemently disagrees, Iraq is part of the GWoT. Whether Bush's fault, happenstance, incompetence, co-option by others, or true all along, it doesn't matter now. The US military toppled Saddam, but forces against peace have chosen to continue the battle. Recall a few words spoken in 2001:
Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.
Any comparison of this war to previous wars represents a non sequitur. Israel has been fighting it since 1948. We've been at war with terrorists since the late 1970s, which is the true timeline AP should be using.

MORE 11/27/06

According to the top Marine in Iraq:
Training Iraqi Security Forces “is a long, slow process,” Conway said. “Unfortunately, I think the timeline it would take to build a fully capable, competent force – and for us to feel comfortable in stepping away – is longer than the timeline than we feel now our country will support.”
Hard to disagree. As long as "The Iraq War" is considered isolated from the war on terror the daily violence reported by the MSM, designed to sway the US public opinion, will appear utterly senseless. It's not hard to understand why most would favor leaving. The General goes on:
“Somehow I don’t think our people have made that connection and feel the same way that I do, and our troops do, that because there has not been an attack in this country is directly related to the fact that they are killing these … fanatics who would otherwise be trying to work their way in to Baltimore harbor or Los Angeles airport,” he said.
People have forgotten and it seems like Bush has given up on trying to make them remember anymore. That is, unless he's got something up his sleeve as soon as the dems take office.

What's up with these Seinfeld folks?

I stayed away from the Kramer incident. There really wasn't much to say--when you joke about lynchings it's pretty much over.

But there's another person tangentially associated with Seinfeld in the news, albeit in a less glamorous fashion. Laurie David, who describes herself as one of the biggest global warming activists in the country, is the wife of Seinfeld writer Larry David. She's treading perilously close to the edge of the glacier with her allegation that Big Oil is trying to muzzle science teachers by threatening to hold back donations to their group, the National Science Teachers Association:
It's bad enough when a company tries to sell junk science to a bunch of grown-ups. But, like a tobacco company using cartoons to peddle cigarettes, Exxon Mobil is going after our kids, too"
Big Oil, Big Timber, Big Cigarette, oh my.

Let me lay it out real quick. David, who has no formal scientific training, is ticked that Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" DVD, which she considers must-see TV for every single school child in the world, was rejected when offered to NSTA. She blames their refusal on a fear of ticking off their oil industry corporate sponsors, whom we all know don't want the real truth about global warming to reach the masses because they're immune from planetary climate disruptions themselves. One can only assume they have hidden spacecraft stashed in mountains ready to whisk them off to other oil-rich planets as soon as the firestorms begin here.

Sorry, but this sounds like a load of wet wood chips. It's a good thing that oil companies are donating some of their obscene profits to furtherance of scholastic achievement. Ms. David would probably be the first to whine if they weren't. Their primary interest in NSTA is in cultivating future employees. Like engineers and stuff. Or maybe spacecraft pilots?

Glancing at NSTA's 2004 financial disclosure there are a lot of companies aside from Big Oil on the list, like Big Computer (Microsoft). Evidently they're OK because Gates takes occasionally takes time out from building his monopolies to give away a few million. But hey, even Big Weather (the Weather Channel) was listed, who should act as a watchdog against such things.

Ms. David's conspiracy theories aside, the most likely reason Al Gore's DVDs remain on the dock has more to do with equal access than squelching climate debate. If NSTA accepts Gore's flick they might be sued into accepting similar material about Nessie, crop circles, or Sasquatch. Or even Intelligent Design.

MORE 11/26/06

This is a current Citgo ad found at various places around the internet:

They seem to be interested in educational achievement, too. Yet for some reason the greens are reluctant to dump them into the same Big Oil barrel with the others. Amazing what a PR campaign focused on free heating oil and references to the devil can do. Pretty slick, actually.

UPDATE 11/29/06

The NSTA has issued a response to Ms. David. To borrow a phrase, heh.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Why Syria?

Power Line linked to a piece in the Jerusalem Post today in which the writer, Caroline Glick, tried to explain away a puzzling question--that is, why would Syria get involved with the murder of Gemayel in light of their present position regards Hariri and with the final Baker/Hamilton report yet to be released?
Syria set its price for cooperating with the US in Iraq when it murdered Gemayel. That is, in addition to pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights, the US will be expected to accept the reassertion of Syrian/Iranian control over all of Lebanon through a new government controlled by Hizbullah and its allies which will replace the Saniora government.
Although not to be discounted out of hand, and although Ms. Glick possesses more regional knowledge than some yahoo blogger from Tennessee, the above demands, to use the local colloquialism, ain't gonna get met. To do so would require Bush reversing course on every single speech he's made regarding the GWoT to date, effectively capping his legacy and neutering any further effectiveness we might hope to have in the region beyond today.

Ms. Glick goes on to imagine the effects of an Iraq retreat and a capitulation with Syria and Iran, a nightmare most might agree upon, but once again it points out why Bush would likely refuse to play such a dead hand.

For the record, can we assume Syria's relationship with Iran is rock solid? The Assad regime is a tight-knit group of Ba'athists while the country itself leans Arab Sunni. Iran is overtly Shia Persian. Could the Gemayel hit have been ordered directly from Tehran as a message to Assad lest he get wobbly regarding pressure surrounding the Hariri tribunal? Is there any chance Assad might mysteriously go away should Iran be successful in wrestling control of both Lebanon and Iraq?

While all of this is going down we have our original man-in-a-secure-location, Vice President Cheney, visiting the Saudi Royals. As Ms. Glick points out, the House of Saud is a little nervous about all this. The Bush family (and previous presidents) have had good relations with Prince Bandar and others in Riyadh, a wild card yet to be played.

Friday, November 24, 2006

From Russia with love, again

When an impartial observer looks over the evidence, such as the alleged murder of an anti-Putin journalist in Moscow, the alleged poisoning of an anti-Putin ex KGB agent in Britain and now the announcement of arms sales to the nutcake in Iran it sounds for all the world like a coming-out party for Putey. Is there any other conclusion left to make?

For more fun simply add the above assertions to earlier ones about Russia's pre-invasion assistance to Saddam or the alleged poisoning of Ukrainian political candidate Victor Yushchenko, and you've got the trifecta.

The cold war may officially be over but to think Russia has no geopolitical interest in their own region is certainly naive. The fall of the Kremlin gave the Russians a pass since everyone was lured into the belief they were no longer a world threat, or gasp, perhaps even an ally. The death of Mr. Litvinenko should end that fantasy once and for all.

More on the SPP thing

This SPP thing is getting a tad nasty. Several leading conservative bloggers led by Hot Air's Allahpundit have seen fit to chastise their brethren over reactions to Tom Tancredo's O'Reilly factor appearance and his revelation of the SPP, which I wondered about below.

The only reason my antennae went up was due to the vacuum of information surrounding this iniative coupled with some recent immigration stories in our local news. As stated, it wasn't clear to me whether the program was good or bad, but I was leaning towards bad only because of past practice regarding the enforcement of immigration laws combined with the natural desire for profit.

Hot Air linked a rebuttal at Right Wing News, but let's be clear, the 'superhighway' concept is NOTHING NEW. Iniatives such as the Kansas City Smart Port (Memphis is also an inland port) and other are designed to open markets and cut bureaucratic red tape to make mo money, not some nefarious merging of the three governments.

Much of the driving force is coming from the Kansas City Southern Railroad and its maverick president Mike Haverty, who purchased Mexican railway FNM back in the 90s and have called their amalgamated lines the NAFTA railroad. The use of Lazaro Cardenas as a deep water port for bypassing the high cost west coast ports and their longshoremen and congestion is strictly profit-based. The use of that port could cut hundreds of miles off the route between the far east and southeast US. Just look at a map.

But there are other factors involved besides a simple following of the money. If containers arrive at Lazaro Cardenas and cross the Mexican border, how will that affect the container inspection process, already a topic of concern? Another unwanted side effect of streamlining cross border cargo trains might be enhancing the conduit of choice for many illegal aliens--the rail lines.

So, from my perspective this whole SPP thing is less a plot hatched by the local chapter of the Illiminati down at the Masonic Lodge than an attempt to maximize profits by exploiting trade possibilities between the three nations, with some window dressing about fighting infectious diseases and security threats thrown in for good measure. It's what capitalists do.

But what governments do are protect the interests of society. Maybe the SPP will help, let's start the debate. But if you really think about it, the Justice Department should trump the Commerce Department every time.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Beyond the fifth dimension

Just sitting around in a post-turkey eating tripto-funk watching the tube when AC Junior laid this site on us, which attempts to explain all TEN dimensions. I got lost after the fifth, but maybe this isn't the best time for intense concentration. Or maybe I'm just dumb.

Whichever, I'm still confused on whether this explains what lies outside space-time or what came before space-time. Or what the strings used in string theory are made of.

Turkey man

That's me. In a tradition that arose from some twisted event long since forgotten but probably involving some tense marital situation, I got assigned the turkey job. Others who claim residence here at the AC household are given different culinary assignments, like green bean casserole, yam casserole, stuffing (sometimes called dressing by the older folks) and hot dogs. Just kidding there. But I do the bird, no kidding.

Unfortunately I'm not very creative with it. Guys at work talk about deep frying or other exotic preparations and I just nod head and say, "sounds good" not wanting to admit that if the darn thing would fit in the microwave, I'd do it. But everyone loves the traditional turkey so that's what they get and few complain. At least not publicly. My preparation secrets? Thaw the bird, ream out the gutlet bags and take off that little metal shackle, smear some salt on the inside cavity and ram it in the oven before quickly exiting towards the den.

But I'm thankful for the opportunity. This blog can get pretty conspiratorial and sarcastic about world leaders and the nature of things in general, but the truth is our country, despite its shortcomings, is still a land of plenty for many in a world filled with poverty and pain. I'd be remiss not to acknowledge my blessings.

Lastly, on a day where most folks make no apology for slobbishly lying around eating and watching TV all day here's an interesting take on some Thanksgiving movies from Salem's Lot. I agree with John about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles only because I'm a huge John Candy fan. That scene when they wake up in that small bed and realize some unintended touching has occurred overnight is one of the best examples of Man Law you'll ever see. Enjoy, folks.


Thanksgiving is the greatest American holiday. Some might say it's Independence Day (Christmas doesn't count for obvious reasons) but if not for the tone set by thanking God for blessings at that early date this country might not have been formed. Don't take my word for it, take George Washington's.

That spirit can still be found today in posts like this and this. It cannot be found in the story discussed here, but while it's tempting to call this an outlier event, checking some of the "Thanksgiving Guilt" stories on the lefty blogs makes me wonder. One thing is certain, though. The day this holiday falls to political correctness will mark the official end of "the great experiment".

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fantastical tales about Tariq Aziz

The quintessential liberal, Tom Hayden, has been given an 'exclusive' in the HuffPo today. The ex-hubby of Hanoi Jane purports to reveal secret peace deals in the works between America and the Iraqi insurgency:
First, James Baker told one of Saddam Hussein's lawyers that Tariq Aziz, former deputy prime minister, would be released from detention by the end of this year, in hope that he will negotiate with the US on behalf of the Baath Party leadership.
I think we can guess which lawyer he got the information from. Hint, he's the American. By the way, it's nice to hear Aziz is feeling better. He's going to need a near Phoenix-like rise to negotiate for the "Ba'ath Party leadership" since Saddam is still the titular head of that entity, pending death penalty appeal.

There certainly seems to be a trend towards realpolitik of late. The Baker/Hamilton group has been leaking to the press about possible talks while actual talks are scheduled all over the place--Bush is flying to Amman to meet with al-Maliki while Cheney will be dining with the Saudi Royals. At the same time Syria, Iran and Iraq are planning a get-together, and Maliki will be holding court with 'insurgents' next week (but nobody on the most-wanted 41 list, mind you). As Thunderclap Newman once said, something's in the air.

As to Hayden's piece, you won't get the obligatory 'read the whole thing' directive here (I figure you'll read what you want). Besides, readers may not care to stomach his name-dropping curtain call of left wing luminaries who he claims made this important moment of dialogue (and Bush embarrassment) possible. But that's the naivete that goes with being a utopian liberal, I guess.

MORE 11-24-06

Speaking of fantastical tales, this was a far cry from Q's MI6 laboratory, huh?

As Scott Shane in the Times points out, US military leaders previously postulated a theory that said Saddam was not concerned about us reaching Baghdad, and was more fearful of his own people rising against him. This video might poke some holes in that theory if indeed it was shown to the masses. Stashing weapons all over the countryside and encouraging the use of molotov cocktails and slingshots would not seem to be the actions of a leader worried about the loyalty of his flock.

Or, perhaps it was yet another part of Saddam's PR campaign to encourage everyone to fight against the common enemy--America, but knowing in reality they would turn against each other leaving the country in chaos.

Now, is everybody ready to start dealing with Tariq Aziz again?

The murder of Gemayel

Whodunit? Many have pointed to Syria. On one hand their Foreign Minister was meeting in al-Maliki in Baghdad to discuss re-establishing diplomatic relations, while on the other rumors were flying they ordered the murder. We know Assad and the Iranian Ayatollahs want Syria's influence reestablished in Beirut.

The most likely instrument for carrying out the act, Hizballah, wasted no time in feeling sorry or remorseful for the loss of one of their countrymen, deflecting immediate blame towards Israel. Ridiculous, but let's entertain those notions a sec. Why would the Mossad want this?

One possible reason might involve American politics. If Israel truly believes we're huddling for a cut and run play they might be approaching near panic mode. It's easy to understand how a defeat in Iraq would affect our reputation and embolden the terrorists and despots, but for Israel the effect would be immediate. Only a few days ago Ahmadinejad was blustering about Israel's inability to launch further attacks.

But such a stunt would be risky. Getting caught would almost ensure our retreat from the region due to political pressure, not to mention the UN sanctions, etc.

What about every Arab's favorite target--the CIA? Based on Nasrallah's blustering and the overall tilt towards the Iranian-Syrian bloc it's not hard to see why we might desire an uprising in Lebanon. But as with the Mossad, the price of getting caught would be astronomically high. Besides, this might be seen as Bush fomenting a coup on his own dad. Now there's a book.

No need to waste much time with the Sunni fiefdoms or Hamas and Fatah. Although they might enjoy seeing Hizballah lose a few notches it would be far too risky to be worth it.

So, if the intel services didn't do it that brings us right back around the the neighborhood bully--the pompous alpha male Nasrallah. He's shown open contempt for Lebanon's democratically elected Lebanese government. They continue smuggling weapons past the UNIFIL force in preparation for another war and don't seem to care much about getting caught. So yes, my vote goes to Hizballah.

But before signing off perhaps we can learn from history. On June 6, 1982, Israel invaded southern Lebanon and captured Beirut, a war triggered by the assassination attempt on their UK Ambassador Schlomo Argov. The infamous Abu Nidal group was responsible, and Saddam was later implicated because experts believed he was trying to both keep the Israelis at bay and disrupt the Iranians, whom he was fighting at the time. There was a revenge factor as well, since one year earlier on June 7, 1981 Israel took out his reactor at Osirak. Are there any parallels with the actions of today?

MORE 11/23/06

What should we make of this story (via Instapundit) suggesting that Syria's true demands of Baker will be a calling-off of the international investigation into the death of Hariri and non-interference of their actions to subjugate Lebanon in exchange for some window-dressing help in Iraq?

If true (and that's certainly not a given) it would seem to cast doubt on any involvement with the murder of Gemayel based on the blowback in evidence today.

Following a logical line that says Hizballah carried off the hit at the behest of someone, that someone seems more likely to reside in Persia than Damascus. Perhaps it was a warning for Assad not to deal independently with Baker, a reminder of who really wields the power over him right now. If true, it's something Baker can work with.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What in the world is the SPP?

Specifically, the "Security and Prosperity Partners" of North America. This mysterious agreement was signed between Canada, Mexico and the United States in 2005, but exactly what it's supposed to accomplish is a story untold. Tom Tancredo mentioned Monday night on the O'Reilly show.

Some believe the agreement is a trial balloon for a common North American union, or even outright laying the groundwork. Here's how Human Events' Jerome Corsi put it:
What we have here is an executive branch plan being implemented by the Bush administration to construct a new super-regional structure completely by fiat. Yet, we can find no single speech in which President Bush has ever openly expressed to the American people his intention to create a North American Union by evolving NAFTA into this NAFTA-Plus as a first, implementing step.
Curious myself after hearing someone mention it on talk radio I searched it on the net, and sure enough there it was. After perusing some of the documents it dawned on me the reason we haven't heard more is probably because the sucker is so wrapped in bureauhappyspeak it's nearly undecipherable to the average reader. Rank speculation leads me to believe it's a template for open borders, freer trade and perhaps a common currency at some point, but I'm not sure.

My opinion has yet to solidify on this due in part to the dearth of information but also because it seems to have some positives. Yet from just a cursory glance a few concerns seem to jump out: 1) Congress is not involved, 2) President Bush never talks much about it, and the press never asks him about it, and 3) it doesn't seem to discourage illegal immigration, actually quite the reverse.

We've had a hot story in Memphis lately about a local banker's admitted practice of lending money to illegal aliens to buy homes. The bankers seem to think they're doing nothing illegal. Did they get that notion from things like SPP?

Perhaps the fact it wasn't a national topic of debate during the Congressional elections should tell us something. The Democrats/liberals have hammered Bush on nearly every anti-terror measure put forth, caterwauling about the trashing of the Constitution and so forth, yet they've been silent on this possible usurpation (if indeed that's what it is). Perhaps we can assume one of two things--either there is no "there" there, or they are silently onboard.

If there is a "there" then would it be foolish to expect 'the party of the people' to add it to their upcoming investigatory billet? Henry?


Hot Air and the Captain have suggested that Congressman Tancredo is teetering on the paranoid edge based on his comments on O'Reilly (mentioned above). I don't claim to know his mental state nor anyone else's, but if simply mentioning or asking about this SPP qualifies one for a tin foil hat fitting, guess that includes me, too. Ole!

Monday, November 20, 2006

US pilots still under house arrest

Remember the mid-air collision between the bizjet and 737 in Brazil a few months ago? If not, here's background. The two American pilots remain under house arrest in Brazil, which evidently could persist for 10 more months. Some might say, hey, it's Rio! How bad could that be? Sure, but being held against your will feels the same anywhere.

Their lawyer, Robert Torricella (not to be confused with Robert Torricelli the Democrat politician from New Jersey) claims the data uncovered so far exonerates them and they weren't doing aerobatics contrary to what some Brazilian officials said. The scapegoat solution is still alive.

Their detention appears to be part of a troubling trend. The aviation newsletter Avweb this morning linked to this resolution put forth by a multinational group of aviation industry organizations that details many other cases where criminal, not civil, charges have been filed against individuals in what appear to be accidental crashes. It's not hard to imagine how certain politicians or tinhorns might use such an instrument to their personal advantage.

That's not to say negligence lawsuits should be taken out of play--the spectre of such litigation tends to keep people accountable. But as they say, accidents do happen, and most of the time they are easier blamed on Murphy.

In other aviation news.. on December 21st the government will be releasing a confiscated hotel video that purports to show Flight 77 actually hitting the Pentagon. I'm sure the Nutty Professors for 9/11 truth will have an answer.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Scooter Libby Intel to go public?

Yes, but with big black Sharpie lines drawn through the good parts, of course. The judge had already ruled:
Judge Walton ruled that the substitutions and summaries of classified documents which Fitzgerald has offered the Libby defense team - instead of their using actual classified documents at trial - are inadequate for them to put on a proper defense.
But this ruling goes further:
Judge Walton will give the public a peek at the issues he has had to rule on concerning the thousands of classified document in question..
Classified docs to the public? Looks like the greymail chances just went up. I'm sensing the Libby play might never reach the stage, especially since both the NY Times and WaPo let this one slip by without much notice.

That would be too bad. Although a tiresome endeavor to most, the spectacle of all those high profile journos being hauled into court or off to jail for refusing to give up sources might have been fun to watch, not to mention getting a peek at those PDBs, even if highly redacted. And doesn't everyone want to know who really sent Wilson to Africa?

Robert Gates to the rescue

What about Bob? Is it fair to paint him as some kind of "Bush 41 Fireman" dispatched in to rescue George W? I don't know, but Gates is certainly an interesting character who possesses a fairly typical Americana life story without the stereotypical silver spoon republican upbringing.

He's got some baggage--lefty hit blogs are already gearing up to highlight his 1991 Senate confirmation hearings and his alleged involvement with passing intelligence to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war. That's fine, but their failure to mention the participation of the Soviets and French, who were also knee-deep in Iraq, always exposes them as partisans. Note to the nutroots--we weren't the only country concerned about tinhorns controlling 3/4ths of the world's light sweet crude, and rightfully so.

Here's a short archive of Mr. Gates' possible positions. His antiterror philosophy more resembles John Kerry than Bush. Perhaps that, along with the fact he's no neocon and got along well with university types has apparently made him palatable to the democrats to the degree they'll not complain too loudly about a confirmation in the lame duck session.

His military resume is pretty short. Problem? Not necessarily, says Brad Warthen. Civilian control of the military is still a good thing.

But his history with Saddam and the first Gulf War deserves some attention. I found it interesting that Mr. Gates seems to deny there was ever any "threat letter" sent to Saddam in 1991. That's not what James Baker told NPR. Second, I found this 1989 New York Times story about Saddam's budding bioweapons program interesting. Keep in mind Mr. Gates has been a spy for most of his career.

Everyone has a theory about this. The conspiratorial version seems to suggest his arrival isn't a rescue more than an intervention. In other words, it's the equivalent of Sandy Berger's trip to the National Archives (only with better access) with the ultimate goal being to protect the Bush 41 legacy.

A more believable theory is that Gates is smart. Very smart. He understands the Iraq problem better than most and will advise the cabinet accordingly, He isn't an ideologue, and his appointment might even signal a decreasing war threat across the greater Middle East, which would certainly help any possible negotiations, not to mention having a positive effect on the world markets. Oh, and he also knows a lot about the Russians.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Moving through Memphis

It's a quiet Saturday night so I thought it would be nice to ratchet down from the usual serious fare and share some pictures.

For those unaware, Memphis is a nationwide transportation hub even if you subtract Fed Ex. More cargo and raw material moves in, out and through here than just about anywhere along the Mississippi. Fed Ex (and even a small UPS Air Freight base) makes Memphis International airport the world's busiest cargo airport.

Memphis has an extensive trolley system complete with overhead wires. The trolley runs right past the vintage Orpheum Theater, which sits at the corner of Beale and Main. It's an area of intense partying for those who do such things, unlike me.

But unlike the trolley, which was well-designed, the road system here is horrible. I-40 goes all the way from Wilmington, NC to California but when it gets to Memphis it makes a huge detour to the north. This was due to the old "cotton money" NIMBYS. Thanks to them we all suffer daily with 12 mph commutes to work.

This last picture was actually taken in Italy by a close relative and has nothing to do with Tennessee, well, unless it's Al Gore's new invention to cut global warming. In order for it to be accepted in Memphis they'd need to make those spinning rims small enough to fit. But unless that sucker flies the average motorist wouldn't last one day based on the relative driving skills found round here.

Lying for the cause

But which side? The dems like to scream "Bush Lied" but now a western double agent named Omar Nasiri says not so fast--al Qaeda lied:
A senior al-Qaida operative deliberately planted information to encourage the US to invade Iraq, a double agent who infiltrated the network and spied for western intelligence agencies claimed last night.
Nasiri is currently the focus of attention in Britain and hawking a new book. Maybe this will change the "Bush lied" meme to, "Bush lied, and was gullable, too".

The Guardian story focuses on Nasiri's account about Ibn Sheikh al-Libi, who was captured in 2001. The al-Libi story is old news, but Nasiri's twist is the contention he deliberately lied to Egyptian investigators about their relationship with Saddam to draw us into Iraq.

Al-Libi become the epicenter of the rendition debate after it was suggested his information on Iraq, later presented by Colin Powell in support of the invasion, was obtained under duress. He later recanted, something celebrated by the MSM (and of which we were expected to believe absolutely) but now Nasiri is saying he deliberately lied under duress to trick the west.

So which is it? Did torture cause him to just give up some BS to stop the beatings--something he thought they wanted to hear--or did he plant the info as part of a grand scheme? If it's the latter why didn't he simply tell the CIA or FBI agents who debriefed him in Afghanistan before he was sent to Egypt? Maybe he wanted to show off his proficiency of the detention chapter of the AQ Training Manual.

Whatever the case none of it explains away some of the captured regime documents that support the notion that Saddam trained terrorists, unless they themselves are fake. The DOCEX port was shut down recently but some are maintained in cyber posterity in places like this. Also check out Bill Roggio's excellent post on the al-Libi confession.

Nasiri is either passing disinformation or trying to hype his book, probably both, but don't dismiss the possibility the Brit press is running a deflection campaign to bury other damaging facets of his testimonial, such as the timeline. He claims western intelligence didn't appreciate (HT eye of the world) his information when he provided it back in the 90s. The last thing we need is Clinton back on Fox News Sunday to wave his finger.

I can't help but wonder what Zawahiri and bin Laden think about all of this? Maybe we'll soon get that promised tape.

But let's assume al Libi's comments:
I heard him telling us when a question was asked in the mosque after the prayer in the evening, where is the best country to fight the jihad? Libi said Iraq was chosen because it was the "weakest" Muslim country."
are dead-on true. That suggests AQ was going to wage a large jihad somewhere, and also proves such a sentiment was in the air BEFORE 9/11--and before Bush divided the world and created more terrorists with the Iraq war. Besides, the notion that Saddam and Islamists couldn't play well together has long been shattered by reality.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tariq Ramadan talks the talk

The Swiss-born grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was the recent subject of an interview in the WaPo (from Newsweek) religion section, where he discussed Islamophobia, assimilation, and why Bush might have denied him a Visa:
Caryle Murphy: How do you feel about the United States refusing to give you a visa?

Tariq Ramadan: My feeling is really it has to do with a specific administration not willing to engage in debates and critical discussions. Because for years I have been visiting the States, talking to people. I made my statements clear. I even went to speak at the State Department and all the people knew exactly…what I was saying, that I was critical towards the American policy in the Middle East: The unilateral support of Israel or the war in Iraq, which in my view was wrong and illegal...
Such unchallenged notions continued through the interview, rendering it a game of underhanded softball. Perhaps the readers would have benefitted by hearing answers to some of these assertions from Daniel Pipes, who has his own explaination of why Mr. Ramadan was denied entry into the States (proving that tough immigration decisions occasionally still occur).

Dr. Ramadan apparently has a warm and fuzzy way with words, but the proof is what he says in the Mosque. Such was posed to him in an interview by Foreign Policy magazine, and here's how he responded:
FP: Fouad Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, argues that you think it is acceptable to lie to non-Muslims about your true intentions. How do you react to that?

TR: You know, this is exactly the opposite [of what] I have been saying for the last 18 years to Muslims and non-Muslims. I’m always saying, “Just please have one word in the mosque, one word, and when you go out of the mosque, [stick with that] one word.” When he says that I lie, let him come with evidence…. It’s just allegations repeated and repeated…. Fouad Ajami is coming with very, very old French criticism, without evidences and just spreading suspicion about me because I am the grandson of [Muslim Brotherhood founder] Hassan al-Banna.
Ramadan seems to gingerly look down his nose at people in America for their "Islamophobia" as if recent events don't warrant at least some suspicion from the masses. The reporters didn't bother to point out we have the best track record of any nation on earth regarding assimilation, and to say any less is insulting.

It's a safe bet to say that citizens here don't care for being lectured about how we deal with our natural suspicion of Middle Easterners after the hoax perpetrated on us by Atta and company before 9/11. This might be doubly true when such lecturing comes from those who may themselves secretly hold the same destructive ambitions. We just don't know anymore, and it's not our faults.

Ramadan could have at least bridged the gap by pointing out how Bush was the first to use the term "religion of peace" and only used "Islamofascists" in an effort to separate out the terrorists from the rest. It's not as if he condemned all 1.5 billion.

It's also too bad they couldn't have squeezed in a question about the movie "Obsession". Strangely, the left reacts to this movie in the very same knee-jerk manner they did with "The Path to 9/11". Perhaps the reason is that anything seen as illustrating irrational Muslim hate towards the west may in some way tear down the mountain of work done during the past five years to depict the president as the world's one true divider. All the clips used in Obsession were taken from middle eastern TV and have been available on the web for years. It doesn't mean all Muslims think this way, but some do. Conversely, almost nobody in Christianity today harbors similar notions of violence as a means to a conversion.

But Ramadan's message of peace is certainly something conservatives (and some liberals) have been calling for since 9/11 from Muslim leaders, so we run the risk of hypocrisy by bashing. Any fool knows the only way to avoid Armegeddon will eventually involve dialogue, but not empty dialogue. As Zacarious Moussaoui once said, "it's permitted to lie for jihad". Excuse us while we get a background check.

It's possible Mr. Ramadan's banning from the US might have had more to do with his power as a speaker and stated ties to those in the black Muslim community here than those donations to Hamas charities. Judge for yourself. For me, any notion of a connection to Hassan al-Turabi would have been enough.

UPDATE 11/19
After a couple of glances I realized the pic was probably photoshopped. Such was not the intent here, so it was changed.

Let the investigations commence!

If you needed more evidence that the new crop of Democrats who swept into Congress this month aren't exactly Dean clones, this might be it:
Before he was elected to Congress on an antiwar platform, Carney had served in the Pentagon, where he was a senior counterterrorism-and-intelligence adviser in the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, an office set up by Douglas J. Feith, then the Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy. Many critics of President Bush consider the group to be responsible for some of the least reliable and most inflammatory intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Critics say that the purpose of the office was to find links between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that could be used to justify a preƫmptive war against Iraq.

“I was looking at terrorist links between Al Qaeda and state sponsors of terrorism, including Iraq,” Carney said. “On a scale of zero to ten, where zero would be none and ten would be operational control,” he said, the ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda “were about a two and a half.” He went on, “Saddam had links to every terrorist group in the region. I still think there were links to Al Qaeda.”
Maybe this explains why Murtha was torpedoed (aside from his cuss ridden cameo on the Abscam tape). It looks like the new Democrats weren't necessarily as opposed to war or favored immediate redeployment more than they were just fed up with how it was being run. We've long been told such was the position of Hillary and other moderates, but this vote might represent actual ground truth.

Speaking of Iraq, the clock is ticking on Saddam's appeal, which is yet to be filed. Seems the court is having a spot of trouble getting the 100 page verdict on their website or something. Meanwhile Omar was even more impressed with this development, while Ahmad wondered about him a year ago:
Also in the letter, al-Dhari states that al-Zarqawi and the Saddamites are Muslims and that we must corporate with them, and everything they do is according to Shariah even if they killed all the Iraqis, it doesn't matter, what is important in the end is that the "resistance" succeed!
So apparently he's quite the divisive character.

With divisions such as the above it's hard to believe that the 40 pound brains involved with the Iraq Study Group or even the new Secretary of Defense will be able to solve this problem overnight. Just so many deceptions. But if you're really looking forward to investigations in the next year, perhaps these will provide more intrigue.

HT World Threats.

MORE 11/17/06

A lot of sites are running wild with this quote:
Tony Blair: Iraq Is "Pretty Much A Disaster”...
But they don't readily tell you the rest of his comment:
He said: “It has, but you see what I say to people is, ‘Why is it difficult in Iraq?’ It is not difficult because of some accident in planning, it is difficult because there is a deliberate strategy, al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other, to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war.”
Sounds about like what he's been saying all along, without the optimism.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mahmoud or not?

It's pretty close. The nose and eyes are very similar, especially the nose. But not everything appears the same.

Mahmoud seems to have a thinner beard under his lips and on his chin than the mystery man. This conclusion is based on all the publicly available photos. The comparison photo did not make it readily discernable due to his hand. Admittedly it could be a function of lighting or beard trimming, but I'm leaning against based on this one.

Their head shapes look different. From this shot it appears that mystery man's is more pointed than A'jad's. This could be a function of camera angle, but it would help if Mahmoud's hair didn't fade into the black background on the left. Here's another pose without the black background, but with a less than ideal angle:

Finally, from general appearances this person appears to be a grunt. As the Russian story suggests, his gun was not the same type carried by most students. Mahmoud is an intellectual and would have probably spent most of his time with the crowd of planners and thinkers. But, since it's possible he was just out for a break it's hard to accept this line of thought as conclusive evidence either way.

All things considered I don't think it's him. Maybe just Russian disinformation or an attempt to stir things up before Bush's Asian summit. Wonder if the prez asked Putey about it on his stopover in Moscow today? Or maybe he already knows. He knows a lot of things he can't say.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sue them all

If Jim DeMint's attitude is genuine it might bode well for the future of the Republican Party, and for America. But it may be too late. Once an amnesty bill passes his attitude won't matter.

Consider this your rant warning.

Today a local radio talk show host by the name of Mike Fleming opened his show with a description of his nightmare auto accident with a suspected illegal alien. Clues? Well, the man didn't have a license, didn't have insurance, and the vehicle had a paper tag, he didn't (or wouldn't) speak English, and he tried to leave the scene. Maybe he was late for a job nobody wanted to do.

Whether Fleming was at fault or not (he says the other guy was) doesn't matter. What matters is the now rampant and flagrant disregard of the law and the enforcement thereof, not just from the immigrants but from everyone in the system. The people who pay their bills, register their cars, update their licenses, and pay their taxes on time are being treated like a bunch of chumps.

Fleming went on to point out a poignant story about real estate agents laughing at all the money they are making by selling homes to illegals, but that's not at all surprising. Just think how much cash goes into the tills of merchants and state sales tax coffers all over the nation due to these illegals spending their under table cash. We might as well just remove "In God we Trust" from the coinage now and replace it with "God". Maybe the illegals could help somehow, it might be cheaper.

But hey, it's not totally about money. The Catholic Church's nauseatingly unflinching support of this criminal activity is most likely rooted in the historic denomination of the immigrants more than walking the talk of the Gospel. Jesus said "render unto Caesar", remember guys? And the Democrats? Their eyes have been in an LSD-like haze for years just thinking all those potential registered voters.

You may be following Michelle Malkin's coverage of the actress murdered by the illegal in New York. It's funny, Cindy Sheehan can rant about her son volunteering for Iraq and being killed while serving and she becomes a media darling, but just let someone mention this situation publicly and another march might break out demanding that illegals get their rights or how we stole the country. Something about absolute moral authority, I believe.

Since our enforcement apparatus has gone AWOL it might be time to round up some lawyers and start suing some folks. Start with the contractor and go all the way to the White House. Heck, if someone can sue Clinton for sexual harrasment, Rumsfeld for war crimes, and Bush for trying to eavesdrop on enemy phone calls, you'd think a few might care about the destruction of orderly society.

Rant off.

MORE 11/15/06

Here's more evidence of orderly society gone-amuck:
Arellano, 31, who has taken refuge in the Methodist church during the past three months, learned that her son Saul had succeeded. Mexican lawmakers passed a resolution Tuesday asking President Bush to suspend his mother's deportation and that of any other illegal immigrant parents of U.S. citizens.
"Who would Jesus deport?" says the mother's shirt. She's misguided, of course. We've been reminded that whatever Jesus might do or say cannot have any bearing in matters relating to law and government.


No, not gay illegals. John Gay, lobbyist extraordinaire:
As the head of the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC), Gay represents a fearsome coalition of businesses. The depth and breadth of its membership and its member organizations' membership is such that if you attempted to boycott the businesses backing open borders and massive immigration, you'd have to go naked and stop eating.
If this article is even close to being accurate it explains what everyone has already suspected. There may be no way to stop this juggernaut. Show 'em the money!

MO MONEY, MO MONEY! 11/16/06

This was news in Memphis several days ago, but it's worth preserving in this post for posterity:
"I don't think it's physically possible or fiscally possible to deport 12 million folks," said Bob Byrd, chairman and CEO of the Bank of Bartlett.

About 18 months ago, the community bank started a mortgage program for people without Social Security numbers.

While some people without Social Security numbers are here legally, many who don't have the numbers are illegal immigrants.

"We're doing this because we think it's right," Byrd said. "We're doing this because it's legal. And we're doing this because it's profitable."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hagee speaks

No, not the pastor, but General Michael Hagee, the soon-to-be former Commandant of the Marine Corp who's approaching the end of his term. CBS News spoke with him and is running an interview on their website. In typical MSM fashion they've cherry-picked a comment about the post-invasion phase to paint him as an anti-war convert about to join Mama Sheehan.

I challenge anyone to listen to the ENTIRE interview and come up with the same headline they did, which says, "Top Marine: No Plan For Post-Saddam Iraq". If you thought the big Democrat victory might slow down the MSM's Bush-hate train, think again.

The Hagee story segues nicely into the redeployment issue. Seems we've reached a strange turning point where Bush will be forced to make a key decision that might affect the world's future in unknown and possibly drastic ways. Based on what's being discussed, I dare say if a Martian landed on Earth and inquired as to our strategy the answers might be perplexing.

You'd have to explain why the Democrats, most of whom voted for the use-of-force resolution in 2002 (some with gusto) are now publicly advocating outright defeat. Mr. Martian might scratch his oversized head and ask about the fate of the remaining terrorists still there. No answer would come forth. "What about the other Coalition forces still there?" Crickets.

Perhaps he'd also ask about the UN resolutions still in effect that call for a Coalition force to remain until Iraqi forces can stand up, since logic says a weak army can't repel an invasion. Suppressing laughter, you'd have to inform him that Iraq and busted UN resolutions are like sunrise and sunset--one always follows the other.

Finally you'd have to explain that all the details above are merely trivial loose ends to the Democrats, who believe the real issue of our time is stopping a megalomaniac neo-fascist who sees a terrorist behind every rock and won't engage in happy talk with his enemies. At that point he'd pop back in his craft and zip off.


This has nothing to do with Iraq, but I mentioned Pastor John Hagee at the outset. While not a regular viewer I landed on his program one day while channel surfing and he was preaching about the end of the world, which the Bible says will come by fire (I'd take that bet if I was a betting man, but it's kinda hard to collect). Anyhow, Hagee was using color props, and while pointing to a picture of the world completely engulfed in fire he said, "for all you tree huggers, THERE'S your global warming". Hillarious, but it sort of made sense in a "we really don't really control the planet or the universe" sort of way.

MORE 11/13/06

The Cap'n has it, plus commercials with bikini clad women on the sidebar.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Principled realpolitik for a fast food world

The title suggests a logical impossibility of sorts. We've been grinding along with the former so far, but it's apparent the Baker/Bush-41 rescue plan will focus on the latter. What will Bush 43 do?

All the smart people are offering up prognostications on the topic, but does anyone really know what in the world they are talking about? Our leaders remain just as baffled now as the moment they realized that Saddam's insurgency plan was beginning to work.

One of Bush's best qualities so far has been his ability to cut through the BS and act on advice of trusted subordinates based on his perception of the right thing, but sometimes the right thing just can't be done, even if it's right. We're arriving at the precipice of a decision that will no doubt have a long-lasting effect on the world.

But before defining a solution it's helpful to define the problem(s), so bear with me for a sec here. Part of this post represents a cathartic exercise in putting things down on page for my own benefit so I can make sense of it.

Essentially the Sunnis/Saddamists, with offhand help from the Iranians and Syrians, have created a quagmire in Iraq to force exactly what is happening at the moment. Iran was content on letting democracy do their dirty work and had al-Sadr under control, but Saddam screwed things up by having the Golden mosque blown up, drawing the Mahdi boys into a civil war.

The Russians are playing both sides because they don't care for American hegemony in their backyard, while the Saudis, Jordanians and Emirates are protecting their wealth. Lastly, Israel remains firmly ensconced at ground zero yet all they desire is to be left alone. Of course, if push comes to shove, they will shove.

I hope that made sense.

Actually, trying to make sense of our next move is like trying to guess which chess piece Bobby Fischer might choose. Complicating the matter further are the proxy armies of both Sunni and Shia sects, al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hizballah. All are ready to spring when sprung. Everyone assumes they operate autonomously but more than likely they coordinate, since their goals often overlap with various state goals. Right now politics is playing their way, so no need to blow something up over here but at some point an attack might become necessary if Bush remains instransigent towards Democrat demands to fold up the tents.

So we have the two choices--remain for principle or take a realpolitik approach. Either could end up disastrous for the country, the region and for the Republican party. The results of choice one would be much better in the longer term, but the cost in blood and toil much higher and besides, it might not be attainable in our lifetimes. Pulling out would save a lot of short term bloodshed and garner some political capital but it would also lead to continued pressure on our remaining presence in the region along with an impossibility of ever going back to 'finish the job' again. Weak isn't the word.

Something else. If Bush decides to stay the modified course he must consider the Democrats, who might get the impression he's trying to 'four corner' them with a stall plan. The last thing they want is a messy Iraq left for the next president, especially since that person has already begun picking out the drapes. Yes, we can hope nobody really thinks that way but we're talking about politicians and spinmasters here.

Whatever happens I believe Bush had the correct approach at the outset. Swatting flies and whacking moles was never going to solve our long-term problems in a world full of loose WMDs. Only a deep-core philosophical overhaul had any hope of changing the scenario, but as we've seen, such things are hard to force.

Oh, one last thing. Our presence in Iraq and the greater Middle East probably comes with an implied threat, a deterrent if you will. Simply put, if some party decides to set off a nuke in America we might just have 'The Cube' on our target list and would probably have many creative ways of making it look like a Christmas tree. Any future solutions need to include some form of lingering deterrence message, and Baker is just the man to do it. After all, what else are nukes good for? Let's hope to God they choose wisely.

MORE 11/13/06

This would seem to be a required reading--a handicapping of sorts--of the Iraq Study Group prior to their much anticipated recommendations. Of course, all handicappers have their biases and their detractors, and in this case it appears to be the Belgravia Dispatch. I was vaguely aware of the neocon tilt, it showed through, but Mr. Djerejian's retort was nastier than Nolan Ryan chin music and seemed overdone in a nerve-hitting kind of way.

Meanwhile, President Bush met with the ISG today, which appeared mainly theatrical. After saying he's open to new ideas (which the WaPo suggested meant dialogue with enemy regimes) Bush reiterated a quicker way--Iran can verifiably disarm their nukes. Gotta love it.

MORE 11/15/06

Saddam's ability to divide the world remains astonishing. Wonder how many fights he's indirectly started around the world since 2002?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Progressing forward

It's Veterans Day, and after having spent several hours watching inspiring reminders of days gone by when America faced a crisis by saying "one for all and all for one", it's back to reality.

During the past week we were treated to George Bush shaking hands with the new Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office. In reality everybody thinks he's a bigger lame duck than Daffy after a tussle with that Abomidable Snowman character, but we can still hope our elected officials might learn to just get along.

Ms. Pelosi looked quite prim, formal and cordial but everybody wants to know how the dems will really behave after six years of trash-talk. It's wrong to take every nutty comment uttered by Howard Dean as the voice of the entire party (even if he's the voice of the entire party) since such a broad brush approach ignores other points of view. For instance, there are many current views over at the Huffington Post where today's edition features the following headlines:
Veteran's Day Message To Karl Rove: Take Your Terror Scares and Shove Them Up Your Ass!
Hmm, don't remember too many scares coming directly from Karl Rove, but we have seen a few coming from actual terrorists. Shall we save that line and send it to the victims from the next attack, or would that be tacky?

Here's another from some guy named Bob Cesca, who no doubt believes strongly in tolerance and bi-partisanship:
Time For A Big Ol' Cup Of 'Shut The F*** Up'
Of course he's referring to the quaint retort used on message boards. Fine, we understand Mr. Cesca's need to vent, but he's writing on a major liberal blog not the Democrat Underground. Hopefully his attitude represents a small minority of the new progressive wave just elected.

Oh, and by the way, the reason people say the "Democrat Party" as opposed to the "Democratic Party" has to do with logic, something Mr. Cesca seems to lack. For example, Republicans belong to the "Republican Party", Democrats belong to the "Democrat Party". Personally I've never connected the later to 'rats' anymore than I've connected Republicans to "repukes", etc, but it's interesting Mr. Cesca would think that way.

The term "Democratic" refers to a process, not a party. It also refers to a form of governance providing everyone a voice, even the minority, which based on the first sentence in Mr. Cesca's second paragraph he knows absolutely nothing about. Well that's ok, there will be time to learn. By the early returns about two years or so.


Al-Reuters is speculatin' on whether VP Cheney will be the next figure to exit stage right. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out--the dems are in control, there's no real damage from him leaving and he doesn't seek the presidency. Why not get a viable candidate in place before the impeachment begins, etc. There are some obvious side effects from such a strategy, but that's for another time.

The story read as if Bush might in effect fire Cheney. Unless he's actually Hitler, that can't happen since Cheney was elected. It's the Veep's call. But I'm sure that fly-fishing stream is starting to look better and better.

The perception of defeat

The video release by al-Qaeda in Iraq starring al-Muhajir has presented an interesting quandary for the newly elected Democrat leadership and President Bush. The democrats were elected by talking about "a new direction" for Iraq, which the whole world understands to mean leaving sooner than later. That perception was invigorated by the departure of Secretary Rumsfeld. It wasn't lost on the terrorists.

Somebody needs to respond, but whom? Friday night the Instapundit linked to Iraqpundit, who thinks the Democrats should quickly act to dispel al-Muhajir's perception. Perhaps, but Bush is still the Commander-in-Chief and speaks for the United States of America. It's his ball.

Here's a suggestion for a Bush response, "the US voters recently elected Democrats to power in our Congress based on a platform of doing something different in Iraq, which is how our democracy works. Some may presume this means leaving, but as long as I'm still the Commander in Chief and as long as there are terrorists who threaten America we'll never stop our efforts to bring them to justice. The Iraqi Army will soon be able to take care of terrorists operating from their soil, but until then we'll be around to make sure the job gets done. Thank you." I'm sure his speechwriters could cobble something that would make that look like Dick and Jane. The point is to get something out.

America is currently in a time of transition, which can be a vulnerable period as the leadership is getting settled. A verbal show of force from the President couldn't hurt. After all, if the troops can say something, so can the Commander-in-Chief.

Speaking of the troops, today is Veterans' Day and I'd like to honor my late grandfather, a wounded veteran of World War I, and my late father, a combat engineer who served with his National Guard unit in Korea.

MORE 11/11/06

Looking back to Sunday, Saddam's plea to the Iraqi people to kiss and make up sounds rather hollow :
Mortar battles have erupted between Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, and the once-mixed city is reeling as the two sides adopt the weapons and tactics of urban civil war.
However, what's missing are the high casualty totals of American forces like we saw in October, before the election.

But if those high totals were partially timed to influence the American electorate (not just solely part of a Ramadan offensive) then why would a stand-down edict be issued before the election results were known? That suggests the Ba'athists are approaching things from a selfish direction rather than a 'future of Iraq' direction. It's all about Saddam. Meanwhile, the civil war his minions triggered rages on with no end in sight.

JUBA 11/11/06

Over at Counterterrorism Blog Walid Phares has an analysis of al-Muhajir's tape, which he says is strange because of several phrases/words used that don't fit the jihadi MO. Specifically, the use of the word "stupid" when describing the war and "lame duck" in reference to Bush's status at the moment. If connections still exist between the cave-dwellers and the Shura Council it's possible our friend Azzam the American is their advisor. But why not have Zawahiri say it? Allahpundit posted a possible answer to that.

Meanwhile the debate rages as to whether al-Duri's decree to stand down will have any effect. The London Times has a chilling story about a sniper known as "Juba" operating in Baghdad, and mentions:
In a 28-minute video, the Islamic Army in Iraq, made up mainly of veterans from Saddam’s security apparatus, celebrated the exploits of “Juba the Baghdad sniper”
It was CNN's use of propaganda footage supplied by this very same bunch that caused such a stir last month. Note again the origin of their fighters. Perhaps the pudding proof of al-Duri's decree will surface over the next few weeks, especially if "Juba" suddenly turns toes up.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The shape of things

It's been less than a week since the Mommy Party "stole" the elections and already San Francisco values are breaking out all over the place. It's like a redawning of the Age of Aqaurius, except the drug of choice this time is power.

Here are some highlights, most of which you already know but I'll repeat for context...Barbara Boxer immediately informed everyone we're going to move towards banning SUVs..ok, ok, enacting Kyoto protocols. It'll probably be a cold winter because of that. Howard Dean gave assurances the new dems won't impeach Bush, actually giving credence to such a notion. It's akin to saying they won't prosecute Neal Armstrong for the faked moon landing.

Sore Loserman Lincoln Chaffee says his final act of party loyalty will be the screw Bush and his faux colleagues by tanking the Bolton nomination. Go away, bad dream. Hey, perhaps the democrats will recommend Benan Sevan for the job. What, he's not a citizen? Heck, just tell him to skedattle across the Mexican border quick before the coming amnesty bill passes--no problemo.

But perhaps the coup-de-grace, this week at least--was the re-emergence George McGovern. The hippie choice for president in 1972 is already giving advice about the Iraq war to the new Pelosi-body politic, reminding them not to forget their mandate:
"I think the Democratic leadership is wise enough to know that if they're going to follow the message that election sent, they're going to have to take steps to bring the war to a conclusion," he said.
And why do they hate us? You guessed it:
"The best way to reduce this insurgency is to get the American forces out of there," McGovern said. "That's what's driving this insurgency."
Al-Mujahir al-Masri seems to agree. Problem is, that philosophy doesn't seem to comport with this or this. And last we checked neither al-Maliki, nor the Sunni leaders, nor the Sunni governments in the region, nor Kurds, nor some of the American troops themselves, want the troops out until the country is stablized. It's not hard to understand why our volunteer troops might not want to cut-n-run--they want to WIN. But wait for it, wait for it, he'll say it.... it's
McGovern told the audience Thursday that the Iraq and Vietnam wars were equally "foolish enterprises" and that the current threat of terrorism developed because — not before — the United States went into Iraq.
Good Lord, what can you say? Sure, it's just like Vietnam. Remember when Ho Chi Chow Mein tried to assassinate President Nixon? Or when he said they would send 'individual Vietnamese' to America to cause mayhem? Or when he sent emissaries to secretly meet with terrorist leaders who wanted Americans dead? You didn't, because it never happened. But an anagram to all of the above DID happen with Saddam. I'm at a loss to continue making this point, so I'll defer to whom some call an atheist drunkard, who by admission is no kind of conservative.

As we move forward together in bipartisan sweetness and light here are some things to ponder. Jose Padilla will be tried in Federal Court early next year, and GTMO detainees Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh in some kind of court. Will GTMO even be there? What of Scooter Libby and Fitzgerald? His lawyer was set to call several prominent media figures to the stand beginning early next year, which could have been fun to watch. And we've been led to believe the new Intel Chieftains are interested in exploring the forged Niger uranium document. And finally, Immigration. If an amnesty bill is proposed with no penalities for law-breaking (on any end) Americans have a duty to take to the streets. Get your popcorn, folks.