Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nothing but the Truth comes to Memphis

Boy howdy. The new Rod Lurie film based on the CIA leak case is going to be filmed here in Left Tennessee:
Inspired in part by the "CIA leak case" involving outed agent Valerie Plame and New York Times reporter Judith Miller, "Nothing But the Truth" features the acclaimed Farmiga ("The Departed") as a CIA agent and Beckinsale ("Underworld") as a reporter who is jailed for refusing to give up her source.
Beckinsale as Miller? Uh, Ok. Not surprisingly, some Kate fans are not happy with the cast. I'd venture some probably don't even know who Miller is. Or Wilson. Or even Cheney.

The more exciting news is that Lurie plans to hire many of the extras and bit players from the local area, which theoretically means even AC McCloud could grab sudden Hollywood fame. Keep your eyes open for any disturbances on the set.

The film is set to begin shooting (maybe not the best choice of words for a Memphis movie) in October and last about seven weeks. You might wonder what Judy thinks about all of this? Nothing, officially, but perhaps she'll let us know soon.

UPDATE 10/3/07

Here's the info...if you want to become famous.

Frozen terror?

Debbie over at Right Truth has an interesting anecdotal letter speculating on a possible resident of Guelph, Ontario Canada:
In January 2007, a reader of Right Truth contacted me. Daphne (not her real name) said: "I think Adnan is living in my building in Guelph, Ontario...Theres a guy who looks exactly like one of the pics on the FBI website of him and nine of his friends are taking flying lessons! I'm not sure who I should contact any feedback appreciated".
In case you were wondering, 'Adnan' is this guy. Her story links to another story about explosive devices being delivered to three separate Canadian residents, one of them in Guelph. But that's not the only weird news from Canada. Here's an article that just screams "more info, please":
WINNIPEG–Two men made repeated attempts to get into the cockpit during a WestJet flight from Calgary to Winnipeg earlier this month, though police say they won't lay charges.

"They took their seats and during the course of the flight, the two people involved did approach the flight attendant at the front of the aircraft, asking to go on the flight deck again.
While it's absurd to expect any modern publication to divulge their heritage we must assume newspapers still employ reporters capable of digging into why anyone would demand in-flight cockpit access in this day and age. Were the men just stupid? Undercover security experts trying to test the system? Gung-ho aviation enthusiasts? Fellow pilots? Maybe Bob and Doug McKenzie? Mum's the word:
The airline never determined why the men were so desperate to access the cockpit. "I don't think it had anything to do with hijacking, I think they just wanted to see the cockpit but there hasn't been any determination as to what their motives were,"
Who said anything about a hijacking? By the way, searching around for more info generally produces this same Canada Press article rehashed on a variety of different sites.

Are all of the above stories coincidences? Hype? Paranoia? Many on the left would certainly say so. But, as Debbie alluded to in her post we've been getting more and more hints from public officials of late about the inevitability of coming attacks, including a cryptic reminder from Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell that people would die because of leaked security programs that have become so popular these days.

Think about it. Everybody seems focused on political sex scandals, sports, idiot drunken celebrities and their jailhouse rehabs and the up and down stock market. Occasionally people will gripe about the Mexican border and the potential for AQ operatives to cross into America bearing jihadist gifts. Nobody really thinks about Canada. It would make perfect sense for terrorists to reconnoiter there before another attack--an immigrant-friendly territory with a long, porous border. After all, they've done it before.

MORE 9/1/07

In looking around for more information I found the Canadian Sentinel, who was asking the same questions I was, several days before I was, and essentially getting the same answers. BTW, no offense with the Bob and Doug stuff, CS.

Right Truth is asking, too. Surely someone on that plane was questioned or interviewed. Or has a blog. Or knows a blogger.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mr. Hsu, where are you?

As mentioned previously, the Winkle Paw caper is in the news, although currently being overshadowed by a scandal about a non-gay GOP Senator who likes to play gay footsies in airport men's rooms. Sex sells.

We await the surrender of Mr. Norman Hsu, currently a fugitive from California justice (whose efforts to find him seemingly rank up in there with O.J. Simpson's quest to find the real killers). Nothing yet, but if he waits long enough another Republican might screw up and grab all the headlines, saving his day. Maybe he can write a book about how one commits a crime, gets indicted, gets convicted, agrees to serve time, then floats off to become a "Hillraiser" for a presidential candidate.

While we wait it's mildly entertaining to watch the various Democrats who received donations nearly pull a collective groin muscle getting those checks back in the mailbox. Nobody is talking about giving the Paw family's donations back yet. Wonder if those fine people might soon come out and proudly explain their passion? They don't have to if they don't want to, but it would be nice.

All things considered, there's no evidence to suggest Mr. Hsu was laundering campaign contributions. There may indeed be no there there. But we must be vigilant--there's a culture of corruption you know. We saw it with Duke Cunningham, Tom Delay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. And that guy down in Louisiana, what was his name? Meanwhile, the New York Times has printed what looks like a Hillary press release thinly disguised as a story. So move along now folks and remember, Bush screwed up New Orleans and Iraq, and Karl Rove is evil.

MORE 8/30/07

Here's a very well-written overview from the Former Spook about why we should care about this matter. And Power Line makes the inevitable Steely Dan connection. Pretzel Logic does come to mind.

UPDATE 8/31/07

Well, there he is. At least he turned himself in--but notice it was on the Friday leading into the Labor Day weekend. Wonder if there was any cheering in America's newsrooms at the news?

Footbaths for all!

Well, this'll no doubt be a hot blogger topic:
Plans to construct two foot-washing stations continue at the University of Michigan at Dearborn amid concerns that such action would constitute an establishment of religion by the public university.
Pandermania! Too bad this story wasn't covered in the Washington Post, itself coming under fire for refusing to allow a conversation between cartoon characters Steve Dallas and Lola Granola but since it's the Times it'll likely be dismissed as Mooney propaganda or just outright bigotry against the only religious group deserving of protection:
The foot baths, while benefiting Muslim students, are open for use by all students and will be located in two new unisex bathrooms that will be renovated on campus.
Wait, devout Muslims entering unisex bathrooms to wash their feet before praying to Mecca? Add this one to the story of "Winkle Paw" and Democrat fundraiser Norman Hsu's claim that he "did not remember" agreeing to serve a California prison sentence and you get a great big question mark in neon lights on the side of the Sears Tower during the 4th of July.

But wait, the BS can, and will, get deeper:
The university, in a statement posted on its Web site, said the foot baths reflect a "strong commitment to a pluralistic society" and "a reflection of our values of respect, tolerance and safe accommodation of student needs."
Or hate speech, depending on the flavor.

Complaints about students washing their feet in the bathroom sinks sounds almost as bad as a US Senator standing around a stinky men's toilet waiting to have sex with a stranger between the stalls. Oh wait, speaking of accommodations... Er.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I guess he's not dead yet

Seems Comrade #1 has offered some important advice to the Democrat Party:
In an editorial in Cuba's communist party newspaper, Granma, the ailing dictator said the pairing of the two White House hopefuls seemed "invincible,"
I guess he's not dead yet. Perhaps he's entered the same state of limbo currently housing bin Laden. Hey, they both have long beards. But the bigger question is, what do Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong think about our coming election? Maybe Barack can find out--get a head-start on that promised dialogue.

As to a possible Goracle candidacy:
"I don’t think he will do so," Castro said, but added that Gore, "better than anyone, he knows about the kind of catastrophe that awaits humanity if it continues along its current course."
Saving us from dirty capitalism, in other words. Here's a thought. Since Gore asked us to change the way we live, which presumably includes Fidel, perhaps the supreme leader could start by reforming his country so they could drive modern, fuel efficient vehicles that burn cleaner fuel.

Fred's southern ways

Power Line's John Hinderaker was among several bloggers who had a meeting with Fred Thompson in Minnesota on Monday. Let's say he was less than blown away:
Yet I still think there is something missing. Thompson gives long answers to questions, and a point often comes where his folksiness gives way to ennui. He rarely shows much--any--intensity. Thomson presents himself as the solution to intractable problems like entitlements and the world-wide Islamofascist threat. Yet one misses the spark of fire, of energy, that would generate confidence that Thompson is really the man to get the job done. Nor does he offer unique solutions to problems; his proposals are, like his persona, of the generic conservative variety.
Not surprising. Northerners have trouble understanding the small-town southern mindset. It's part of his persona, part of his appeal.

It's true that Rudy, Mitt, and Newt are balls of fire in comparison while on the port side it's clear that Obama and even Clinton will be seen as more passionate, or rather animated. This isn't the first time he's been accused of being lazy or lacking drive.

The last thing he needs to do is hire an image consultant or develop some kind of schtick to meet expectations. The beauty of Thompson is his measured, even-handed "what you see is what you get" offering. That may irritate the ideologues but it's the main street voters that count.

As Rove likes to say, never underestimate the power of being underestimated. Hillary is running entirely on the coattails of her husband at the moment but in reality she's hardly a gifted public speaker and has a somewhat shrill voice when she gets "passionate". Concerned GOP primary voters should take a moment and visualize a head-to-head debate in a neutral setting before completely discounting a man like Thompson. If he decides to run, of course.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Memphis Bridge closure

Nothing alarming. They closed the I-40 Mississippi River bridge today (Hernando DeSoto) after finding some settling on sections of the approach span over the Arkansas bottom land. Yes, construction is in progress as it has been since at least the 90s. Maybe the 1890s. Anyway, if you're interested here's an update on my playaround blog (as if this one isn't), Memphis Mud.


He's gone, and surely it's true some in the administration are relieved. Surely this was also planned.

Chertoff for his replacement? Although his resume is impressive and he seems qualified he's also kind of a creepy figure like Gonzales. That may be shallow, but it's just an impression. Both were probably included in the innermost circle of knowledge regards why the terrorist surveillance program was started, something Ashcroft was apparently not even privy to. Democrats might see that a tad differently, as they are apt to do.

Nevertheless, a political junkie might tend to speculate about what seems like Rove's last move before departure:
Between 1994 and 1996, Chertoff was counsel to the GOP Whitewater committee investigating the business dealings of President Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, who is now New York's junior senator and a candidate for president of the United States.

As a senator, Mrs. Clinton cast the only vote against Chertoff when he was nominated for the appeals court in 2003
It's a small world. Chertoff was a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey when Bill Clinton took office in 1993:
Chertoff was asked to stay in his position when the Clinton administration took office in 1993, at the request of Democratic Senator Bill Bradley; he was the only U.S. attorney not replaced.
And here we had been told Clinton fired ALL of them! Interesting the Democrats never make an effort to point that out in public. Chertoff was also heavily involved in the Patriot Act, losing points from the left, but was also instrumental in bringing down Enron. He's already been confirmed by the Senate twice in recent years so another confirmation hearing might be interesting since many of the same Democrats are still in power.

MORE 8/27/07

Personally speaking, I believe it's possible Gonzales exceeded his Peter Principle Level when he assumed the AG post. Nothing wrong with that, we all have our ceiling. His departure basically cleans the White House for the upcoming political season and his replacement will no doubt be chosen partly for strategic reasons.

Politico is saying another candidate might be Fran Townsend:
Possible successors include Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Frances Fragos Townsend, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. One oft-discussed scenario would have Townsend succeeding Chertoff. But a Chertoff confirmation rehearing would mean an exploration of the administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.

Several Republicans said Towsend might be a promising choice. She was a federal prosecutor in New York City, handling mob and white-collar cases. Towsend worked at the Justice Department under President Clinton's attorney general, Janet Reno. She has become close to Bush and is one of the White House's most compeling personalities for television appearances.
I think they're right about the Dems using the Chertoff hearing to rekindle Katrina, especially right here in the middle of hurricane season and while the Bill Proenza brouhaha has yet to be solved. Besides, Townsend is probably part of the inner circle of knowledge. While that sounds conspiratorial or crazy it's based on open source info that came to light in the recent Ashcroft hospital flap, whereupon it was reported the former AG was complaining that he wasn't completely read-in on the reasons behind the TSP, presumably one of the reasons he finally got frustrated and punted to Comey.

As theories go it's weak and the left might say a bit 'graspy' but it might explain why Gonzales and others have acted so strangely over seemingly nothing. Admittedly, had 9/11 not occurred such thinking would rightly be called irrational.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Heck with the Constitution--let's have a coup!

At risk of being just another echo in the echo chamber, this story was just to good to pass up, if for nothing else for my own amusement:
You can relieve the President of his command. Not of his Presidency. But of his military role as Commander-In-Chief. You simply invoke the Uniform Code Of Military Justice.
Yep, heck with the fact the Founders specifically wanted a civilian CIC, and heck with all that stuff about Bush trashing the Constitution, this guy wants an outright coup. Here's a typical and well-deserved slap down. This Lewis putz has some industrial strength nerve lecturing Pace on the UCMJ. But the bigger question is why Arianna Huffington would even allow it to appear? OK, not a real big shocker but we can only conclude it shows the desperate depths of desperation many Dems are displaying in their quest to lose this war.

Further absurdity--Bob Woodward once claimed General Pace told him he still believes Saddam might have had a hand in 9/11.

The answer lies not in reality but in the political sea as it has from the beginning. Both the WaPo and Times devoted Sunday space to the various Congressional delegations who've traveled to Iraq this month in advance of the Petraeus September progress report. While the Times was more broadly focused, the Post focused on the House's biggest anti-war member, Rep Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who after her one day in the Green Zone feels stronger than ever about leaving now, an assessment not shared by all the delegates. But hey, they aren't the leader of the "House Out of Iraq Caucus".

All of this seems to tie rather nicely with Bill Maher's recent self-disappointing interview with NY Times correspondent Damien Pace (co-author of the above story), which failed to provide the desired BDS reaction from his leftist audience and had to be, for lack of a better term, a bomb.

The Dems aren't alone--they and the Dovish Repubs can't possibly succeed in getting us out before the election--there's just not enough time--so the goal is posturing and plausible deniability. In other words, creating a false reality for personal gain, the very thing they hammer the administration about daily. The reality is everyone in their heart of hearts understands that leaving Iraq a mess will create even more of a mess. So, the charade continues.

MORE 8/27/07

For a lost war there sure seems to be a lot of good news coming out of Iraq of late, more than we've seen in a while. Can't help but think the efforts to allow ex-Ba'athists back into the government might somehow be tied to Izzat al-Duri's recent declaration of war against his former al Qaeda buddies, which likely means he has sensed a political wind shift.

Petraeus is winning on the ground. If the political improvement follows it'll be much harder to accuse Iraq of being a mess or declaring that "we've lost" going into the upcoming primaries. That said, U.S. Democrats aren't the only politicians whose careers are dependent on a negative outcome in Iraq, many in the terror swamps are watching and waiting as well. They will likely be heard from yet this fall.

Tune time out

The Wilson sisters were quite talented and put their unique feminine touch on power rock and roll. I was never fortunate enough to see them perform live until You Tube..

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bush, Senator Warner, and Vietnam

The mainstreamers and their friends on left are certainly having their way with Bush's recent mention of Vietnam in the Iraq equation. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post called it "desperate" and a blunder on par with "I am not a crook", while Senator John Warner also disagreed with the comparison then later seemed to agree with it. Hoagland may be right in the sense that Bush's comparison has probably produced many cheers in America's newsrooms as they proceed to distort the headline in the most disingenuous ways possible.

The comparison was obviously designed to convey the disastrous consequences that followed our precipitous exit from Vietnam, something not always mentioned during the stock "Iraq is like Vietnam" debates. In context with Iraq it would probably be magnified, since this war is about direct national security threats, not hypothetical domino theories, etc. He clearly also wanted to convey the notion that 50,000 troops died in vain during that war, something he plans to avoid if possible during this one. If making that point is desperate it's only because the stakes are so high.

As to Warner, his comments must be taken in context. Right wingers are quick to dismiss and lefties only focus on the "withdrawal" statement, but in reality his thinking is quite Bushian:
“There are no parallels really," the Virginia Republican said. "It’s a different type of situation .. we were in a country (Vietnam) that really did not pose a threat to the internal security of the United States as these conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan do.”

For Warner, that’s exactly the dilemma: He wants a withdrawal of 5,000 by Christmas — but he implies that a failed state in Iraq would pose a menace to the United States.
A far cry from "we've lost". He understands the consequences of withdrawal but is trying to find a way to get the Iraqis to act. He also knows the Democrats will use the war as a political boat anchor to hang around the GOP's neck next year, something Bush doesn't have to worry about.

The bottom line for average Americans is fallout, not politics. We've got a stake in this outcome. As Warner said, there is no comparison between security threats. That said, allowing a perceptive win for terrorism by surrendering in Iraq simply cannot stand, no how, no way, and Americans need to push their elected officials hard to make sure it doesn't happen.

MORE 8/26/07

A must-read on this subject.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Izzat you?

Behold, the 20 million dollar man:
The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party's former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said
Well, there's at least one Saddamist bigwig not afraid to admit he could work with the Islamists. But we already knew that.

Some speculated this announcement was triggered by an Interpol red notice on him (similar to Raghad Hussein) a few days ago. Both are believed to be deeply involved in aiding the very same freedom fighters Izzat now claims he's going to fight, a proclamation about as meaningful as a physics lesson from Rosie O'Donnell. After all, he's been dead for years. I'm more curious if we ever found any connection?

Meanwhile on the Iraq front, leading liberals and their friends in the mainstream media are jumping up and down at Bush's reference to Vietnam in a speech at the VFW national convention Wednesday. The WaPo's headline screamed "Bush compares Iraq to Vietnam". Maybe just a tad disingenuous, eh?

The New York Times approached it from a slightly more nuanced angle. Quoting from "historians", they found one who said:
“But there are a couple of further points that need weighing,” he added. “One is that the Khmer Rouge would never have come to power in the absence of the war in Vietnam — this dark force arose out of the circumstances of the war, was in a deep sense created by the war.”
Which naturally follows,
The same thing has happened in the Middle East today. Foreign occupation of Iraq has created far more terrorists than it has deterred.
Despite the State Department and most college professors how does anyone know with certainty the Iraq war has created more terrorists than it's deterred, as opposed to simply refocusing the people already trained for terrorism?

After all, we've been repeatedly told the Islamists under bin Laden were incapable of working with secular bad-boy Saddam, which forces us to ignore the fact many were Jihady-on-the-spot both before and after our invasion, with some even receiving training in Iraq before the fighting began. These same fighters who could never work with Saddam were later marshaled by our new best friend Izzat. So, most of these terrorists were seemingly already created. One might think we'd have seen a huge uptick in traditional Arab terror organizations like the Abu Nidal Group or Abu Abbas's Palestine Liberation Front as both leaders were formerly given refuge in Iraq. We haven't.

But let's humor the professor. He seems to be saying that anything bad that occurs after Hillary cuts-n-runs from Iraq will be entirely Bush's fault. Therefore, it's only fair to say that since Kennedy created the Khmer Rouge by going into Vietnam in the first place he was responsible for the millions of deaths that followed after Nixon saved America by cutting and running.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The same dusty bowl

Pretty scary-looking temperature chart, eh? This is the trace for San Antonio, Texas, sitting right there in Bush's back yard. Notice the clear upward trend. What more evidence do we need?

Well, how about a blizzard of stories of late about record strings of 100 degree temperatures in the south, a record cool high for August set in New York City, record floods in the midwest and a near-record setting hurricane. Is there any doubt the blame lays squarely on capitalism-loving Republicans who refuse to trade their Hummers for Priuses and change the way they live by buying squiggly light bulbs?

Perhaps so. You see, the temperature chart above is from San Antonio, Texas alright, but it's showing the trace between 1880 and 1940. Remember the dust bowl? That was basically it. And do you remember what caused the dust bowl? Neither do I.

By contrast today we must have blame for everything. For 9/11, the economy, bridge and mine collapses, even weather and climate. I recently got an email from a reader who inquired whether I'd seen the anti-global warming video "The Great Global Warming Swindle" that was making the rounds several months ago. I have.

The British-made flick featured appearances from several noted climatologists and scientists, all of whom disagreed that man has singlehandedly triggered the recent temperature uptick. If you haven't seen it it's available here. It was lambasted heartily by the left and their friends in the climate research business.

Even if the video is not 100 percent correct this whole debate really boils down to one of scientific integrity. Those who refuse to tote the party line on the consensus causation of temperature changes have been treated shamefully, sometimes by the very same people who've accused the Bush administration of trying to muzzle them. Maybe with good reason! Coincidentally, just today there was a story about how the Scandinavian Moose might be destroying the planet. Seems a rather fitting summation of the entire debate.

Capitalism at its finest

This picture appeared on the Drudge Report Wednesday along with a report that bin Laden is still alive. Notice the mannequin, evidently in some Asian market, is wearing a bin Laden tee with a Nike swoosh cap. Seldom will one find a better example of the inherent natural tendency of human beings towards capitalism, even in areas that celebrate terror chieftains who rail against the evils of capitalism.

Tenet and the blame game

Some are making a big deal out of the CIA IG report essentially blaming Langley for 9/11 due to their lack of having a ‘comprehensive plan’. That seems a little unfair. There's plenty of blame to go around.

Actually, most of the ground plowed in the IG report was contained in Tenet’s book, which despite a few glaring errors made the case that he was on the case. In response the former DCI issued a statement claiming the report was “flat wrong”, paraphrasing here, "the CIA damn well DID have a plan, dammit".

And he's probably right. They must have had a plan based on how fast they ramped up the Afghanistan mission after the attacks. Matter of fact, leaks at the time supported such a thing.

But it’s possible Tenet is missing their point. Yes, he had a battle plan for defeating the Taliban but they were likely referring to a comprehensive plan, IE, one involving the entire government. The 9/11 Commission Report found that our spy and law enforcement agencies were not playing well with each other at the time (the famous stovepiping concept). Tenet famously claimed “we are at war” in 1998 after several terrorist attacks yet he was never able to get the country on a war footing until the towers fell. But c'mon folks, that can hardly be blamed on one single agency head.

By the way, where are all the 9/11 conspiracy theories on this? You know, ones saying Clinton deliberately kept Tenet’s concerns under wraps due to some nefarious globalist reason? They certainly weren’t covered on the History Channel’s debunking show the other night.

But back to blaming people. Yes, we're talking about the men at the top, not to exclude the current president, who was less active before 9/11 than his predecessor. One has to wonder if he was ever going to retaliate for the Cole bombing.

In his defense we were told he was tired of the "swatting at flies” tactic, suggesting a comprehensive approach was in mind--at some point.
However, just consider for a moment the possible implications of an attack on Afghanistan in the summer of 2001 before the emotional buy-in was produced by 9/11. Surrounding countries would not have felt compelled to provide assistance on the basing and overflight rights needed to attack a landlocked country (likely one reason bin Laden was there).

And that's completely ignoring the political blowback from the anti-war left and the 80 percent of mainstream media members who had just voted for Gore in the most contentious election ever.

Excuses aside, Bush has always said he ignores public opinion in making decisions. He could have just done it.

As to Clinton, he can wag his finger at Chris Wallace all day long but he'll never live down his own culpability in the matter. He was in office when Tenet made his 'we are at war' claim. Every time a bombing would occur we’d see him on TV talking tough, followed by an interval of forgetfulness, followed by another bombing and another TV appearance with the same hollow tough talk.

He simply didn’t want to put the country on a war footing. Terrorism was a law enforcement issue and besides, it was the economy, stupid. His troubles with Monica had also put him in a box--as soon as the first soldier was killed in any Clinton-led war the rapid Republicans would have handed him his butt in a bucket, calling him a military-loathing chickenhawk dog-wagging liar. This is something bin Laden and others surely understood.

But while some Americans ponder the past and spin and re-spin the wheel of blame we have to remember one thing--the terrorists are to blame. They are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all around the world. And their mission statement has not changed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The saga of Elvira Arellano

ICE finally got around to arresting
Elvira Arellano, the illegal alien fugitive given 'asylum' in a Chicago church for the past year. Since it's likely this will ignite the immigration debate again I feel compelled to weigh in again.

The only victims here are Ms. Arellano's son and the immigrants trying to legally enter the country without breaking the law. Let's also add common American citizens who've done nothing to contribute to our current broken immigration system, unless you count electing do-nothing self-serving politicians. Hey, they were supposed to uphold the laws. Searching the long term memory I don't recall anyone ever running on a platform of "amnesty for illegals now" since I've been of voting age.

As to the actual sting, I'd have to agree with Allah and others that Homeland Security did this to prove just how disruptive enforcing the law can be. Guessing here, but it's doubtful many Democrats will lump this arrest in with their daily ramblings about Chimpster's coming police state, at least not the high profile party op types or the Air America goons. It's kind of odd, since many are nearing a collective artery-blow over Alberto Gonzales, a person with an immigrant background, who they say was deceptive with Congress. Presumably coming to the country illegally and using phony SS numbers is somehow OK.

Speaking of the president, he'll be heading up north this week to attend the SPP meeting in Canada. Timing is everything.

So, why was she arrested in California, not Chicago? Probably because Bush didn't want an Elian Gonzales type raid into a church, meaning they had to wait her out. California worked for both ICE and Elvira (and her big league supporters) since no other state could generate the same outrage and emotion.

But the outrage should be shared. Law-abiding citizens and immigrants should be outraged that churches are acting with complicity in harboring fugitives. Is it because they're afraid to offend the huge influx of law-breakers who might be dropping jingle in the plates? This isn't a civil rights issue and it isn't a human rights issue.

Personally speaking I've long been in favor of some kind of guest worker solution because we need the workers, but at the same time we don't need people here with voting rights if their hearts are still red, white and green. If they only want to come here to work, let them work, but remove the chaos. Any legislation to that end must have more than a snowball's chance of working and be coupled with enforcement, such as cross-checking Social Security numbers and more robust border surveillance. And it must be long-running, not done for show to get the bill passed. Americans need to develop long memories in this area.

OK, the rant is almost over! Finally, although Ms. Arellano's return to Mexico might simply be a political stunt to pave the the way for re-introducing amnesty-lite it needs to serve as an example to other would-be border hoppers that the country they are about to sneak into has a rule of law, dammit, one the citizens therein are demanding be enforced regardless of how many May marches might occur.

More here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The new God

The New York Times stirred up a lot of dust this past week with their story suggesting we all might be computerized creations in a some cosmic geek's sim program. The original and follow-on post assign God-like qualities to the "designer", including an invitation to leave a message for the programmer, so to speak, on their blog. Sounds strangely close to praying to the traditional God.
Dr. Monton, a philosopher the University of Colorado, argues that the reason to teach Darwin instead of the Bible is because of empirical evidence, not because intelligent design is inherently unscientific or supernaturalistic. He writes: “The intelligent cause could be God, but it need not be. It may be that living things on Earth were created by a highly intelligent alien civilization, as Raelians believe. It may be that the whole universe we experience is really just a computer simulation being run by highly intelligent non-supernatural beings, as Nick Bostrom argues is plausible.”
Rather lazy thinking for a philosopher. If the Raelians created our civilization, who created them? It would be impossible for them to create themselves either after or before the big bang. The same applies to some computer sim geek. As to Darwin, his theory isn't supported by all the empirical evidence but even if he was correct, why would some inter-galactic geek waste billions of years making everything look like a freak accident? What's that you say? He just made it seem like an accident? Well, that would seem to make evolution a fraud. Wonder if these new Sim converts will join ID'ers in seeking to disprove the old man?

Actually, this kind of thinking is troubling on several levels. If people believe human beings are simply computer programs dancing around in some X-box it would greatly trivialize both life and deeds. No need to worry about terrorists or global warming or being mean to the crippled kid, or falling in love because there is no garden of good and evil, and no free will, only code.

It's no big surprise to see some people giving this concept immediate credence (not realizing it trivializes their own rants) while otherwise mocking as kooks anyone who'd suggest we teach kids about an intelligent designer who preaches love.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Break in the action

Remembering Renaissance...

Here's another favorite (not embedded due to poor quality). And I believe this one was a radio hit, if I remember correctly. Lead singer Annie Haslam certainly has a distinctive and rangy voice.

Wanted: Raghad Hussein

Although placed on Iraq's 41 most-wanted list last year, Raghad Hussein, Saddam's eldest daughter, has been enjoying exile as a guest of Jordan's King Abdullah since she and her sister and mother fled Iraq in 2003. For some reason Interpol has now issued a "red notice" for her arrest:
Interpol's "Red Notice" is not an international arrest warrant but is a request for foreign police forces to cooperate in tracking down 38-year-old Raghad Hussein and in extraditing her to face justice in Iraq.
The AFP story does not explain Interpol's decision but this Kuwaiti story may shine some light:
The revelation about this arrest warrant followed, by two days, a visit to Jordan by Iraqi National Security Advisor Muawaffaq Al-Rubaei. At the end of his visit to the Hashemite Kingdom, Al-Rubaei said his country and Jordan had agreed on an exchange of wanted people bearing in mind the large number of former Iraqi Baath Party operatives currently living on Jordanian soil.
Could be an interesting development depending on what the Shia-dominated Iraqi government plans to do with her. If they get her.

By the way, the AFP version of this story is yet another example of shoddy journalism. Case in point:
Raghad and Rana's relations with their father and brothers had broken down after their husbands, General Hussein Kamel Hassan and his brother Saddam Kamel, were killed in Iraq in 1996 after five years in exile in Jordan.
Any reputable world news agency should know that Hussein Kamel defected in 1995, not 1991.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Ashcroft hospital thing, revisited

Today's WaPo had a feature on the notes written by FBI Director Mueller about the March 10, 2004 Ashcroft hospital escapade, dramatized by James Comey.

The WaPo used the term "sickbed visit" to describe the event, but notice how Mr. Mueller characterized it:
"Saw AG," Mueller writes in his notes for 8:10 p.m. on March 10, 2004. "Janet Ashcroft in room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."
Which is correct? If he was 'in (the) chair' does that qualify for 'sickbed'?

Mueller said the AG was feeble and barely articulate when he arrived, which was after Gonzales and Card had left. But Comey admitted to being surprised at the strength Ashcroft summoned in dealing with the two men when they entered the room and began asking him to sign the documents. That seems consistent with sitting in a chair.

Admittedly, it appears Gonzo and Card might have put some pressure on the AG but a few other things appear possible. We know Ashcroft had signed off on the TSP dozens of times before Comey arrived a few months earlier (December 2003). The Deputy's first job was to analyze the legal status of the program. After looking at the legality did he embarrass the AG over those past sign-offs? Why does it appear both Comey and Mueller are over-dramatizing the hospital event? What's in it for them? For that matter, why is Mueller still running the FBI?

MORE 8/16/07

We already know there is media bias. It was pointed out today in spades with the Seattle Times and NBC stories. We may have another example here. Notice the blockquoted text above about the AG being in a chair. Now, here's how Yahoo News covered that same AP story:
"Saw AG," Mueller wrote in his timed log of the events on the evening of March 10, 2004. "Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed." Ashcroft was in the hospital with pancreatitis.
Was that an AP omission or a Yahoo hatchet job? Apparently it was the AP because the MyWay News version is the same. Assuming Dan Eggen from the WaPo didn't invent that from whole cloth one might think such a thing would be considered derelict or at the least, quite curious. Hopefully one of the big bloggers will catch this and expand upon it.

UPDATE 8/17/07

Here's a story on it but with no mention of the chair nor any comment on the AP's removal of that part of Mueller's notes. The Captain also has a post, which includes a link to the notes and more details but still doesn't mention the chair. However, the notes contain a very interesting phrase:
The AG also told them that he was barred from obtaining the advice he needed on the program by the strict compartmentalization rules of the WH.
The circle of knowledge was indeed small enough to not include Ashcroft, which might explain why the AG was frustrated and perhaps drawing a line in the sand by handing the responsibility to the new guy (Comey). What would cause the circle of knowledge to be so small?

MORE 8/18/07

In talking with some friends about the AP's failure to include "AG in chair" in their version of Mueller's notes they said such an omission did not change the character of the story--he was still quite sick and Gonzales still came with documents in hand. They pointed out that sometimes nurses transfer patients to a chair for various reasons, which doesn't make them less sick. I agree that could explain things.

My point was that the Associated Press or users of their stories have no business erasing part of Mueller's characterization. Such an editorial decision clearly suggests they believed referring to the AG as sitting in a chair might give the impression he wasn't that sick, which would hurt the Senate Democrats' case. That may not be the case, but it certainly seems possible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Michael al-Vick?

You just can't make this stuff up. Well, maybe you can.

Let's see, a handwritten legal filing...from a prisoner...asking for 63 billion...whose last name is spelled "Riches" with the copyright symbol affixed thereafter.

But the part about Vick converting to al-Qaeda then using the proceeds from stolen dogs sold on eBay to buy missiles from Iran was pure slanderous gold. This guy might have a future in the news business one day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wen Ho Lee with a twist

Remember Judge Reggie Walton? He was the one who presided over the Scooter Libby trial, the one who wasn't very happy when Bush commuted his sentencing. Now he's ruled in another high-profile but quietly controversial case, one that could become quite loud should things go astray:
Walton said Hatfill's search for government leakers is "strikingly similar" to the civil suit filed by Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist who became the subject of a flurry of media stories identifying him as a chief suspect in a nuclear-secrets spy case. Those stories also relied on anonymous sources. Lee was never charged with espionage; he pleaded guilty to mishandling computer files. He sued the Justice Department, and reporters were facing a court order to reveal sources. But the case ended last year when the news companies and the government paid Lee a $1.6 million settlement .
[emphasis added] I described this last year with a post titled 'Win' Ho Lee. Clever, eh? Yep, still have the day job. Anyway, Hatfill was no doubt taking notes.

So what happens next (other than appeal)? Will we see a massive flurry of reporters going to jail to protect sources? Government officials scurrying around for cover or coverups? Lids exploding far and wide? Probably none of the above. Predictions are risky but let's make some anyway, since this is a blog.

How about this--nothing happens, for a couple of reasons.

  • Waxman and Reid aren't likely to schedule high-profile investigations since John Ashcroft is now a pseudo cause celebre in the Gonzo hospital story escapade,
  • Anthrax is a creepy subject nobody wants to think about,
  • had Wen Ho Lee decided to fight and not settle the reporters involved (including the WaPo's own Walter Pincus) would have been forced to disclose which Clinton administration officials leaked his name. At last check Hillary and Richardson are still running,
  • the Bush government most likely has no desire to disclose who started the Hatfill 'person of interest' story (and why) nor explain why he was never charged. Or for that matter, why NOBODY was ever charged,
  • there may be legitimate national security issues involved. Refer to the Cheney post below.
All things considered a Lee-type cash settlement offered to Hatfill wouldn't be the most surprising outcome. And who knows, maybe it's for the best.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cheney's change of heart

Compare and contrast:

Which one is the neocon?

Gore's quips are easy to figure out--he was running for office and had to attack Bush 41's perceived strengths. Turns out he was only echoing a theme that would continue throughout the entire Clinton administration, a theme that would one day became a "lie" when Bush invoked it a few years later.

But shouldn't Cheney also be accused of duplicitous rhetoric? While it's a no-brainer to these people, the question cannot completely be explained by politics. Victor Davis Hansen recently pondered the dichotomy of stratagems used between Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom, yet they largely remain a mystery. Some would explain everything by saying "oil" (history would seem to support it) but was it the only factor?

Indeed, Cheney's comments prove that despite popular opinion the Bush administration had a deep understanding of the Middle East prior to the invasion in 2002. The Veep, more than anyone, knew the risks involved with removing Saddam yet proceeded to press forward anyway despite the counsel of trusted friends like Scowcroft and Baker, who opposed the plan. The picture is now even more muddied as his 1994 predictions slowly seem to be coming true.

We've heard the left's explanation--he lapsed into dementia; became paranoid after 9/11; bought into the Lauri Mylroie theory that Saddam was complicit in first World Trade Center bombing; Ahmed Chalabi; or Halliburton.

What about the man himself? Stephen Hayes covered the above question in his new book. Beginning on page 378 the topic goes to Saddam's support for terror. Like in Tenet's book, Hayes goes to the sessions Cheney had with CIA analysts at Langley:
Cheney and his staff pressed the issue. Why had Saddam put Alluhu akbar on the Iraqi flag after the Gulf War? Why did he finance religious extremists? And what about the many reports of a non-aggression pact between Iraq and al Qaeda?
Just as Tenet described, some of these sessions were embarrassing for the Regional CIA analysts because Libby and Cheney seemed to know more about Iraq than they did. Stunning, really, but no less stunning than Tenet's assertion of Egyptian Islamic Jihad members reported to be flowing to Baghdad in 2002. The CIA did not use the term "al Qaeda" to describe these players. Cheney, from page 387:
He returned the report to the CIA with a question: Would it be accurate to substitute "al Qaeda" for every mention of "Egyptian Islamic Jihad"?
They reluctantly answered "yes". Beginning to get the picture?

You can read Cheney's explanation at the end of the chapter and yes, Hayes is a partisan writer for the Weekly Standard, which must be considered. But it's hard to come away thinking Iraq was all about the oil.

Good timing

Rove is gone, although at the place and time of his choosing and not that of the frog-march brigade. I've little to add other than an observation about the coverage.

Here's the Opinion Journal:
Holding the White House for a third term is always difficult given the pent-up desire for change, he says, but "I think we've got a very good chance to do so."
Here's the WaPo:
And he said Republicans could still retain the White House next year. The Democrats are likely to nominate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), "a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate," he said, but Republicans have "a very good chance" of beating her.
And here's the New York Times:
Mr. Rove had a parting shot for his political nemeses, telling Mr. Gigot that he believed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton would be the Democratic nominee but called her a “tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate,” and predicted a Republican victory in the 2008 presidential race. It is the sort of political boasting that had become Mr. Rove’s hallmark.
And I guess distorting comments is a hallmark of the Times. Well done.

MORE 8/13/07

Reading this sparked a thought about why so many on the left might be stricken with RDS, (Rove Derangement Syndrome). Could it be...

That Rove is a poster boy nerd? This picture seems to provide solid evidence. Perhaps they just can't stand being beaten by such a person.

No big eureka moment, although coupled with Tamara's point it might explain a lot going on in the blogosphere at any given moment.

For what it's worth, as a long time skeptic anytime the "spend more time with the family" option is rolled out, my opinion is that Rove's newfound ability to glow in the dark will make this retirement semi-real, at least beyond the 2008 election. If he tries to work underground for anyone, say Thompson, and the media finds out (and you know they would), it's automatic turn out the lights time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Somebody warn Santa

You've probably already heard about the Russians claiming the north pole. We've now learned that Reuters had some fun with the report, in a fake but accurate kind of way. Courage.

Meanwhile, the mighty Canucks have vowed to defend the Arctic while an American icebreaker has steamed off to map the frozen north. Hasn't that been done yet?

At any rate, it's Saturday night and traditionally time for some music. All this talk about intrigue, Russia and such makes me think of James Bond. Here's an appropriate theme song..

And what's a Bond theme without mentioning Shirley Bassey? They won't let us embed these because hey, they're hot, hot, hot.

But my favorite Bond theme has nothing to do with Shirley or Russia. It has to do with Nancy.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Democrats and the national security path

Here's Russ Feingold's reaction to the recently-passed legislation giving NSA broadened powers of listening for terrorist chatter:
“There was an intentional manipulation of the facts to get this legislation through,”
Liberal readers shouldn't blow a gasket--this post isn't designed to impugn anyone's patriotism, it simply questions the direction this country will go should we elect a Democratically-controlled government for 2009. Voters will be subject to heaps of rhetoric in the upcoming year regarding methods of "dot connecting", attack prevention and so forth, so it's our job as responsible citizens to look past the rhetoric and consider the paths most likely taken and react accordingly.

There's no doubt Russ Feingold and friends love this country and our Constitution just as much as anyone. He's not against dot-connecting per se, just opposed to the way Bush is doing it. The president's response has consistently been as follows:
"It is inexcusable to say, on the one hand, 'connect the dots' and not give us a chance to do so."
And there's the rub. The question of presidential powers is not a new one. Our present debate has roots in the post-Nixon era, magnified during the Iran-Contra hearings and recently discussed at length in Stephen Hayes' book about vice-president Cheney, a long-time voice against the neutering of executive powers. Actually the debate goes back to the founders.

Senator Feingold takes a more Jeffersonian/Madison view, believing executive powers should be reigned in as much as possible, which is all fine and dandy except during times of national threat when his criticism rings hollow on the practicality side. The Constitution is clear on the role of the Commander-in-Chief and was not intended as a suicide pact as mentioned by Jefferson himself.

The founders knew external threats were best handled by an elected CIC rather than by partisan Congressmen and their various political agendas. Had the founders understood or envisioned WMDs they might have added or changed the document in some way, nevertheless modern threats have really complicated matters. But give Feingold some credit--the Constitutional method of dealing with the executive is spelled out and he's following it. So far, few have joined him.

As to the NSA story, the Times quoted another prominent Democrat, one long privy to inside information about "TSP" well before it was leaked to the very same newspaper, who turned it into a political football:
Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California, said the White House “very skillfully played the fear card.”

“With the chatter up in August,” Ms. Harman said, “the issue of FISA reform got traction. Then they ran out the clock.”
Ironically the chatter was full blast in summer 2001 as well, referred to by Tenet as the system "blinking red". Many on the left chastised Bush at the time for spending August in Crawford and ignoring the warnings, yet when he and other Republicans mention such threats these days they are accused of fear-mongering.

Yet despite all the bluster we continually see a number of Democrats voting with the president to authorize Patriot Acts and surveillance programs. Aside from the conspiratorial angle involving Trilateral Commissions and such, this certainly suggests a strong dose of pandering while simultaneously giving the terrorist threats merit. The "Spitballs" speech must have stung a few Democrats, whether they'll ever admit it or not.

Still, the question remains unanswered as to which direction the Dems might go with full legislative and executive control. Would the Feingold/nutroot wing take over and deconstruct things, taking us back to a reactionary 1990s law enforcement approach in dealing with threats? Most Americans, while probably believing the GOP has politicized the GWoT for their own purposes, also probably believes we're still vulnerable.

Or maybe not. That someone named 'Clinton' even has a remote chance of winning might suggest otherwise. The impact of 9/11 is becoming more distant with each passing week.

Speaking of terrorist surveillance programs, there is an ongoing investigation into finding the culprit who leaked the program to the author of the above-linked story, Times reporter James Risen. Coincidentally, this popped up Friday, which is the second allegation of prominent Republicans leaking national security information for political gain. Sure sounds like a push-back on the TSP leak investigation, which might be targeting high level Democrats. In reality, it's a perfect example of what happens when Congress tries to run a war.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Close enough for government work

I've featured James Hansen's GISS temperature graphs on this site many times--mainly as proof the country isn't slowly sizzling away in a figurative frying pan--but I never had any notions the data might not be correct. Recall Hansen's world data goes into a formula that computes global temperatures, which tend to make headlines if they become record global temperatures.

Now another blogger, one who deals much more with the technicalities of such stuff, has snooped out a major flaw in Hansen's data. The net result has been a quiet recalibration resulting in a quiet reversal of some previous sensationalist headlines:
NASA has now silently released corrected figures, and the changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as record-breaking) moves to second place.
Perhaps Hansen will blame the 'oversight' on the administration.

As a tribute, here's the 60 GISS graph for Casper, Wyoming, boyhood home of Dick Cheney. Believe it or not.

MORE 8/10/07

Hey! Hanson got quoted in the paper! But not about his error (we're still waiting for the national media firestorm on that) rather, about the tornado in Brooklyn. After admitting that one extreme weather event doesn't say anything about long term climate he just couldn't resist continuing:
"However," he added, "it is fair to ask whether the human changes have altered the likelihood of such events. There the answer seems to be 'yes.'"
Since he included a "however" (the best weather word ever) the answer could also be 'no'. Perhaps it's time for another blogger to recheck the math.


The crushing of climatic dissent? Not only is the story being underreported, apparently someone is trying to make the original story unavailable. Who would hate the truth so much?

PS--although this adjustment evidently involved US temp data only one can argue the US data is the most important. Global warming stories from outside the states tend to get shoved to the mental back burner but when they occur in the backyard, alarm bells may ring.

The mistake was likely incidental, however, judging from Hansen's outspoken comments and claims on the subject one has to reserve the outside notion someone might have been tempted to fudge and nudge the 1998 data into the number one spot, thereby bringing much-needed media attention on the crisis at hand to educate an ignorant and at-fault public. After all, we're only talking a few tenths of a degree difference. And that outside notion is why science and politics cannot be married. They can't even date.

Who can beat Hillary?

That's what it really comes down to in 2008, right? As Power Line notes, she's way ahead in the polls and it's silly to think there's ever been any serious doubt about the nomination. As we've seen, inbound hypocrisy charges just keep bouncing off. All the good ones wear teflon.

The only serious declared competitors are of course Obama and Edwards, if one calls them serious. Edwards hardly projects any strength and the notion of him on a poverty tour is high comedy. Barack has lately lost a couple of outboard engines and the inboards are smoking. He doesn't have the experience to run this country but he's only in training anyway.

What about Gore? Well, he's a loser. Harshly put, but that's his image. A lot of people will also be creeped out by his climate zealotry.

That leaves the debates as thinly disguised showcases for Hillary with the other candidates as props to make it look official, sort of like a Harlem Globetrotter game. Can any Republican beat her?

How about politician emeritus John McCain? Despite his firmness on Iraq and his past valor, the straight talk boat capsized with immigration. Changing course only made it worse. Besides, he's always had a problem projecting optimism and charisma.

Rudy does have charisma and a smiling personality but he lacks background. Not political background--being the mayor of New York is enough--the boat anchor is his checkered personal life. His handlers will be trying to find ways to make people forget while the Democrats do everything possible to make people remember. Oh, and there's that pesky abortion thing.

Mitt has that sculpted look and is rather sunny but his pesky problem is the Mormonism. It will be a show stopper for some people like it or not. He'll also continue to be hammered on his own abortion flip flop, and now that we know his military age sons don't consider the military a priority right now...well. Put it this way, cheap shots yes, but if the right can accuse Al Gore of hypocrisy for flying private jets while demanding the little people change their ways then they leave themselves open to having the left make similar hypocritical hay about allowing the little people to fight wars.

There's Mike Huckabee. He's smart and quick-witted and seems honest but it's hard to believe this country can elect a Baptist preacher in this day and age. The hysteria about the coming theocracy would reach record levels.

The other declared candidates are merely also-rans at this point.

That leaves us with the obvious wild cards. Fred Thompson has been smart to bide his time since it saves money, reduces the chance he'll say something stupid that can be used against him later and tends to get most of the skeletons out of the closet in advance. While it's true a tad of luster has worn off the candidacy that's mainly from the perspective of political junkies. The bulk of voters don't care yet. He's still quite formidable.

As for Newt, his brilliance in the field of political science and history along with his arch conservatism greatly interests some. He would certainly be a very articulate president. Thing is, he's got so much baggage some of it's still rotating around the carousel at Hartsfield International. The left will do everything possible to resurrect the image of "the Gingrich who stole Christmas" and they may succeed with help from the MSM.

Hopefully Thompson finally enters the race in early September. It would be fun to see him blast on the scene in the You Tube debate, making subtle fun of the dumbarse questions from people in costumes. We really need to find out if he's up to the challenge of taking on Hillary before it's too late to issue a last minute call to the bullpen for Newt.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bridge investigation update

Call me a geek but the bridge investigation continues to be intriguing. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker, now back in DC, gave CNN a progress report last Saturday:
Rosenker said nothing significant was discovered on the south side of the bridge, and attention was now shifting to the north, which buckled vertically. The FBI images will be a great aid, he said.
Just a day after the crash they were focusing on the south side due to lateral shifting, then said nothing was wrong and went north, but after examining that side they announced Wednesday there was nothing overtly wrong there, either. Instead they've now focused attention on the 'gusset plates' that help tie the truss beams together while simultaneously pointing towards heavy construction equipment parked on the bridge. Not surprisingly the construction company quickly denied any wrongdoing.

While not an official finding it seems strange to suggest the gusset plates were at fault so early in the game. Of course, pinning blame is what everyone wants--not only a curious public but the pack of lawyers circling on the periphery. Most families will likely sue the city/state/feds or whomever else looks to be at fault, and that might not be limited to just the families. Commuters not even present at the crash might try to sue for lost revenue from having longer drives, etc.

In that vein, one of the construction crew members on the bridge was quoted as saying the structure was "wobbling" in the days before the fall. Now a spokesman for the contractor says:
..the company had interviewed every employee on the bridge when it collapsed and had not found anyone who could substantiate reports from a first responder who said workers told him the bridge was wobbling before it fell.
Too bad the specter of lawsuits has to hang over the investigation like a black cloud, but such is life.

They still haven't explained the loud sound heard on the south side by eyewitness Lori Patterson. Some are speculating about the listing north pier seen in the photo above, which were supposedly anchored pretty deep. We've been reminded of the uniqueness of the design; that those piers weren't sitting in the channel--true--but the north pier was placed at water's edge. Any significance?

As to the tilt, did it happen before or was it a result of the collapse? Common sense would suggest both are possible. If it suddenly shifted a few feet that might explain the loud sound heard on the south end as the superstructure failed at the steel joints. It might also explain the lateral shift upon collapse. The video released to the public showed the south end go down first, also consistent but we've not been privy to all the available video. One might also deduce the north pier was pushed forward by the sheer force of the collapsing approach deck after the main span failed. All speculation of course, and all without the benefit of a night's stay at a Holiday Inn Express, so take it for what it's worth.

Anderson Cooper posed several questions to a seasoned bridge engineer a few days after the collapse and posted them on his 360 blog:
I asked all the questions: Cracks in steel? Construction accident? Salt corrosion?

Galambos says anyone of them can bring down a bridge-but not like this. It was complete and instant failure. Cracks and corrosion give warnings, construction accidents can be witnessed. There is no evidence, he says, of either.

The surveillance video seen on CNN shows an event he calls one-in-a-billion; it just doesn't happen.
Not sure what to make of that--maybe just the emotional words of a proud engineer after a long career designing bridges. Or perhaps words of wisdom.

MORE 8/10/07

This is quite an interesting feature on bridges, for all those closet engineers out there.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pass the guilt, please

Get into a discussion on the web or elsewhere and it's not unusual for conservatives who warn of the ever-present threat of Islamic terrorism to be derided as fear-mongering cowards hiding under their beds, duped by Republicans using the issue to garner the security vote. Oddly, this same type of criticism doesn't apply to the greatest example of political fear-mongering ever known to man--climate change, an issue being framed around western excess and bolstered by media articles like this one:
Looking back to other periods in our planet's history when the climate was swinging about wildly, most notably during the last ice age, it appears that far more than the weather was affected. The solid earth also became restless, with an increase in volcanic activity, earthquakes, giant submarine landslides and tsunamis.
Talk about "vote or die", this article leaves the impression George Bush was not only responsible for Katrina (and the Minneapolis bridge collapse) but also the Asian tsunami and the next eruption of your nearby volcano. Here's the science:
Further evidence for a flurry of volcanic action at this time comes from cores extracted from deep within the Greenland ice sheet, which yield increased numbers of volcanic dust and sulphate layers from eruptions across the northern hemisphere, if not the entire planet.
It's like each story is trying to out-doomsday the previous one. Here, there's no mention that such layers tend to suggest global cooling--facts are really incidental. The goal seems more to create a collective feeling of guilt amongst the western electorate, a problem that can later be 'cured' by intellectually superior global progressives like Al Gore through veiled socialism.

All of which tends to chip away at the voluntary notion of the LiveEarth buzzphrase "are you ready to change the way you live?" with the goal of replacing it with "WE are ready to change the way you live". Hey, it's for the kids and all. And don't worry about those terrorists--they'll appreciate our efforts.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Remember Jose Padilla?

The suspected dirty bomber's trial is just about over after absolutely no fanfare in the national media. It's somewhat surprising the left didn't get a little louder based on previous wheezing but perhaps the calm had to do with this:
But the government's case -- built largely on FBI wiretaps of phone conversations -- offered scant evidence of any of the defendants' direct involvement in any jihad theaters.
When did those wiretaps occur? Well,
Padilla's voice was heard on only seven intercepts, a tiny fraction of the 300,000 collected by the FBI during the nearly decade-long investigation.
Maybe some folks were concerned that too much light could divert attention away from the Gonzo secret prison terrorist surveillance lynch mob. After all, John Ashcroft is the new truth-to-power cause celebre these days, wherever he may be hiding.

Or maybe they just feared another facial egg wash similar to the Mike Hawash affair, or just waiting for a guilty verdict to kick into high gear. Hard to say.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The book on Cheney -- 2

More from "Cheney" by Stephen Hayes...
  • When working for Nixon he became a true conservative after watching how the 'wage and price controls' worked, or didn't.
  • He drove his 1965 Volkswagon to work at the White House, even into the mid 70s.
  • He liked to keep a low-pro, even as a Congressman
So far this book is a fascinating look into the world of big game politics and I'd suggest it to all political junkies. Hayes does a good job of painting a picture of the man who's not a very sympathetic figure from the start but improves with age.

The description of his first heart attack at age 37 was chilling not only due to its early onset but also in the lack of symptoms--he awoke to tingling in his left fingers as if he'd "hit his funny bone". No pain, no significant chills until he reached the hospital and passed out on the exam table. He stopped smoking cold turkey. As we later saw, it didn't completely work.

More later.

Bonds rant

Obligatory for all baseball fans, I reckon.

Anyway, congrats to him for reaching a sacred mark held by a real class act who accomplished his feat despite harsh racism and without any known enhancement products. Bonds certainly belongs in the Hall, no question, first ballot. His talent for the game is indisputable.

But he sold his soul and there's no going back. By all appearances he's got company--Sosa and McGwire made the same demonic transactions. Hopefully kids can see the net effect.

I still remember the excitement of Aaron passing the Babe. Some weren't as excited but at least he wasn't being accused of cheating. At least the game itself wasn't tarnished. It's one thing to be accused of hitting cheap home runs in a hitter's park like Atlanta Fulton County Stadium since everyone else had the same access. Ruth was similarly criticized because he hit in parks with short porches but so did everyone else of his time, and without nearly the same results.

It's quite another to be accused of using steroids and 'machines' (the latter not proven but interesting nonetheless) to reach a record in order to make a racial statement of some sort (even though he's passing another black man).

So hooray and whoop de doo. All I can say is c'mon Ken Griffey, Jr. Imagine the fanfare right now if Junior were in Bonds' shoes? And that is precisely the fallout from this whole stinking selfish circus--there's absolutely nothing in it for the fans.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Toes up for Golden Mosque suspect

So long, sucker:
US troops in Iraq say they have killed an al-Qaeda leader who masterminded the attacks on a Shia shrine that led to a major escalation in sectarian violence.

Officials say Haitham al-Badri was behind the 2006 and 2007 attacks on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, which destroyed its golden dome and minarets.
It's likely most of the major news outlets will omit this man's previous career as a member of Saddam's Special Republican Guard. So what, you say? Just doing what he had to survive back then, you say? Well, maybe. But keep in mind he wasn't in the Iraqi Army or even the Republican Guard, his unit was, well, special:
Key regime protection assets, such as the Special Security Organization and the Special Republican Guard, largely recruited from Saddam's al-Bu Nasir tribe and other nearby tribes that had good relations with the al-Bu Nasir. The SRG was filled with recruits drawn from Tikrit, Baiji, al-Sharqat and small towns south and west of Mosul and around Baghdad -- areas and clans noted for their loyalty Saddam's person and regime.

The Special Republican Guard, also known as the "Golden Division," was paid higher salaries and accorded priority in getting food and prescription drugs. The Special Republican Guard bridged the capabilities gap between the regular Army and the security apparatus. The primary mission of the Special Republican Guard was to work with the Special Security to protect Saddam, and the two units together became known as the Organization of Special Security (OSS).
Hey, Jamil Hussein was also a former "army officer". Now he's working for the AP.

It's a confusing region. In the backdrop of the above and with news last week of a multi-billion dollar arms deal with the Saudis, what should we make of these comments from the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information about the real culprits of the Mosque attack? The world is chocked full of nuance these days.

Speaking of nuance, Regime of Terror included Badri on a long list of insurgency figures with connections to the former regime who allied themselves with al Qaeda-linked groups after the invasion. The top dog in that kennel is still on the loose, despite some occasional loud barking.

And lest you think this confirms the Juan Cole version that we created these alliances by invading Iraq, think again. We were told by folks like Cole and middle east analysts within CIA that Saddam and AQ were incapable of working together. Ever.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Long Run

As in longevity. The Eagles are on the verge of another tour and have been hard at work on a full-length studio album (sorry, CD). Here, the boys perform a Don Henley/Mike Campbell song..

And yes, this one was overplayed, but it's a classic nevertheless.

Have a great weekend, all.

The book on Cheney

Currently reading "Cheney" and can't resist blogging a few interesting tidbits so far:
  • His best friend growing up in Wyoming was a guy named Fake
  • His mother's maiden name was "Dickey"
  • He was once a traveling lineman for an electric utility in Wyoming
  • His first meeting with Don Rumsfeld was a disaster, neither liked the other
  • His second meeting with Rummy was just as bad
  • He soon became Rummy's right hand man
  • All the players, on both sides, are powerful, connected and smart and play hard ball
As to the last bullet point, some manage to pull it off and look good doing it. They have charm. Cheney is the anti-charmer. His early life was very normal, not too bad, not too good. He didn't appear destined for greatness according to the book, which by the way doesn't paint a very sympathetic picture, especially the section about his Vietnam years.

There's simply no other way to spin it--Cheney displayed great hubris regarding his actions at the time. I won't put on the Kreskin hat and say he dragged out his college years and married Lynne to extend his deferments (he was rated 1-A) as the detractors have but it wouldn't be hard to make that accusation. That said, he dodged the draft legally rather than leaving the country or obtaining help from higher connected officials as did others.

By the way, here's another interesting figure from the book:
  • There were 6144 soldiers lost in Vietnam in 1966
That was smack dab in the middle of Johnson's term and before the real meat of the fighting had even begun. Matter of fact, we'd already lost several hundred military personnel there before the Gulf of Tonkin (HT Rosie) incident occurred in 1964, the anniversary of the second attack being today.

No doubt the Vietnam war was a far bigger pre-emptive war of choice started against a country that posed no direct threat to our security other than in long term hypotheticals, whereas Iraq had tried to assassinate a former president, harbored terrorists and was actively working to undermine the middle east peace process in the most geopolitically unstable region on the planet.

Here's more, including a podcast interview with author Stephen Hayes. More later.