Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fred and illegal drivers licenses

Fred may not be making a splash in the polls but he keeps saying the right things:
Giving legal drivers licenses to illegal immigrants is wrong and would provide them the opportunity to register to vote in our country. People who are not citizens of the United States should not be encouraged by pandering politicians to further break our laws and risk the health of our political system.
Of course he's referring to the Hillary/Spitzer drivers license flap in New York. Thing is, we've already been through this same flap down here in Tennessee. Some quick background:

Governor Phil Bredesen, responding to national security concerns after 9/11 such as the case of a Memphis DMV examiner who opened her own DMV candy store for middle easterners (the case is now cold, God rest her soul) decided to crack down by doing exactly what Spitzer is trying to do--giving citizens one license and issuing "certificates for driving" to the illegals.

Problem is, while they weren't supposed to be used for official identification everyone was accepting them as official identification. Due to public outrage these CFDs were discontinued, just recently being officially phased out. Current holders can only renew by requesting a "Temporary Driver's License". Theoretically, illegals can't get these but never underestimate the resourcefulness of those who support cheap labor, especially now that charges of discrimination are rolling in, just as threatened in New Yawk.

As to what role former Senator Thompson might have had in this soap opera, well, the left can dig around looking for dirt if they want. I'm satisfied with his current answer when juxtaposed with Hillary's and all the other Democrats except Dodd (his finest moment was last night)...and just about all the Republicans as well, save Tancredo, which is essentially saying about the same. But alas, the way Fred's been going of late it may not matter.

Colmes versus Coulter

Coulter lost the smirk and got mad for a change.



She's absolutely correct, of course. The New Testament is indeed the continuation of the Old, which prophesied about the coming Messiah. To be a Christian means believing the prophecies contained were fulfilled by Christ, whereas the Jews are still waiting. Nothing controversial in that, or the fact true Christians should wish for everyone, not just Jews, to come to their way of thinking.

But the problem is not Colmes or the others, it's Coulter. People tend to pick up just as much non-verbals as verbals during communication, and hers are usually a brew of sarcasm and amused hostility. It makes for entertaining TV but it's hardly a Dale Carnegie approved method of winning friends or influencing people. So even when she's right people tend to feel like they've just been belittled. It really doesn't bother me but for comparison's just imagine how Billy Graham might have handled the same discussion, and you'll get my point.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sharpton pulls flag card

Apparently somebody at the hunt club Cheney visited Monday likes rednecks because there was a Dixie flag hung on the door of a garage there. Needless to say, the usual suspect couldn't wait to weigh in:
"It's appalling for the VP to be at a private club displaying the flag of lynching, hate and murder," said the Rev. Al Sharpton. "It's the epitome of an insult."
This guy is good. His statement, which also had references to nooses at Jena (probably not even racist) and one at Columbia University, was in the press before anyone had time to issue an official explanation. Maybe Sharpton has some kind of moral outrage generator--he just plugs in "rebel flag", "Cheney", "hunting" and "Jena" and a statement pops out and gets faxed to the press.

C'mon, Al, it's just a piece of cloth! And while there's some evidence Cheney tried to link Saddam to 9/11 there's absolutely none that he would be granted citizenship of redneck nation based on his shooting skills. His home state wasn't even involved in the war. And besides, his ancestors include a black man. Doesn't that earn him some slack?

Besides, comparing Cheney to a hillbilly is not fair. There's only one Hillbilly (viewer discretion advised).

Speaking of fake...

The phony press conference given by FEMA was bad. Horrible in it's stupidity, to be precise. The media reported on it, as they should have, although many seem determined now to move it into the milking stalls. Indeed the Times called it "the story that just won't go away" (do they realize they are part of that process?).

But on Monday many news outlets also ran a horrible story in Iraq--20 headless bodies found near Baquba. I heard it while driving to work Monday morning. A deep-voiced CBS radio announcer nonchalantly wondered whether they were Shia and Sunni. The AFP went further by pondering the deeper meaning:
The discovery of bodies was a stark reminder that Iraq's brutal sectarian strife was far from over despite wideranging US and Iraqi military operations
But did it actually happen?
But, wait a minute... Late last night the BBC reports this: Meanwhile, Iraqi police denied earlier reports that 20 headless bodies had been found dumped near Baquba.
As Gateway reported, it wouldn't be the first time, if true (er, false). In a perfect world the same press who so vigorously reported it Monday along with commentary would provide their patrons with an equally vigorous correction, with maybe some commentary about how lousy some of the fact-checking has been in Iraq. Instead they appear to be diverting patrons to the suicide bicycle bombing in the same town. Fake but accurate again.

Time will also tell whether this apparent good news gets any traction after reports of the initial kidnappings. Perhaps they're waiting for more confirmation, although some will no doubt be disappointed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another casualty of global warming



Random helium absorption, producing the dreaded "Tiny Tim syndrome". The horror.

via Nothing to do With Arbroath

Baseball blues

By now you know that Red Sox nation, ebullient after their second four-game World Series sweep in four years, were quickly embarrassed by a horde of 'fans' who staged a celebratory riot in Beantown.

Then today the AP's baseball writer, Mike Fitzpatrick, suggested the last four World Series have been borefests, calling this year "another yawner". In laying out his case he seemed overly hard on the Detroit Tigers from last year, specifically calling their series "a five game bore" then later saying "five dreary games". Why did I mention only Detroit?

He certainly can't knock the Cardinals for producing the dreariness since they beat the Mets in a thrilling 7-game playoff to reach the series then made mincemeat of a heavily-favored Detroit in five games, a team thought to be so good people were saying they might win "in three". Does he hate underdogs!? And has he forgotten the Kenny Rogers pine tar on the fingers incident? As to the notion that raucous victory celebrations are expected as in Boston, well, Cardinal Nation did no such thing last year. Guess the east coasters would call that boring, too.

Baseball has its problems, sure. Greed has expanded the season, expanded the playoffs, and is now expanding the games themselves. They start and end too late in the eastern and central time zones. But they've done nothing the other sports haven't done and besides, everyone understands the rationale behind "national pastime". Just try to change the rules and watch how people would scream.

Actually, in the four years Fitzpatrick refers to we've seen the following teams in the fall classic: Houston (first time ever), Chicago White Sox (first win ever), Detroit (first time since 1968), Boston (first win ever, now the second), and Colorado (first time ever). That's pretty exciting for their fans and a nice change of pace from seeing the Yankees every year. It was only a few years ago people were worried about powerful dynasties ruining the game.

Hey, is Fitzpatrick maybe just a disgruntled Yankee fan whining because his high salaried team choked again? Would he call some of their late 90s victories 'dreary' (Mariano Rivera got yet another save, yawn). Probably not. This is baseball in it's raw form. Some games are nerve-wracking, others are slow, sloppy and boring. The Series is designed to determine the best team, and we found it. It would have been nice to have seen a game seven with Casey at the bat, but such cannot always be the case. The designated hitter skew and steroid/HGH issues weigh much heavier.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Mukasey trap

The Senate Democrats have set a trap for Michael Mukasey over his answer to the waterboarding question, electing not to proceed with confirmation unless the judge defines torture. That seems to leave some choices..
  • Say that yes, waterboarding is torture, to which he'll swiftly be confirmed. When he enters service Durbin, Reid and Leahy will then demand he prosecute the administration to stop enhanced interrogation practices.
  • Remain with his somewhat fuzzy answer, to which he might not get confirmed, forcing Bush into either a politically messy recess appointment or a new nickname.
  • Say no, to which he'll suffer the same fate as number 2 above.
  • Announce that terrorists might suffer a worse fate by being brought in front of the self-important windbags currently quizzing him, apply the middle finger, and exit the building.
It certainly appears to be a line in the sand moment, since presumably this same tactic might be used on anyone Bush decides to nominate should Mukasey choose poorly. The Cap'n makes a good point by saying the AG acts to enforce laws, not make them:
If Patrick Leahy wants to make waterboarding illegal outside of any doubt or interpretation, he only needs to propose a law specifically and explicitly outlawing the practice.
Meanwhile Joe Conason suggests Rudy and the Judge might want to take the plunge themselves. Is that really helpful? It's not as if Mukasey plans to waterboard Conason, we're talking about fearless terrorists who might possess doomsday information.

But we all know this isn't about protecting the union or the next KSM, it's about rank politics. The GOP best find a way to flip this around or they'll be handed their own boat anchor.

How about this.. propose that Reid and Pelosi give a primetime speech and announce a new pact with America--that heretofore all captured terrorists (and those suspected) be given full rights of the Constitution complete with taxpayer-funded lawyers just like any citizen and be tried in federal court sans interrogation. The speech would also include a disclaimer that should a city or town become blown to bits or poisoned due to lack of intelligence the Dems will officially consider it "the cost of living free" with all blame rendered moot (except against Bush who is clearly responsible for ALL future terrorists forevermore).

Afterwards the token Repub could give the rebuttal and remind everyone that the big government nanny is only expected to protect against massive fires, category 5 hurricanes, every illness known to man and planetary swings in temperature. She don't do terrorism.

MORE 10/31/07

Life is full of twists and turns. Back when Alberto Gonzales was doing his own twisting and turning in front of the Senate, one of the prime weenie roasters was Chuck Schumer. After Gonzo finally became gonezo the senior New York Senator recommended his personal fave, a fellow homeboy and someone with a terrorism track record. Now he's facing his own chagrin:
Schumer has been uncharacteristically quiet, repeatedly refusing to comment on Mukasey's answer on waterboarding. Schumer, who drove the inquiry that pressured former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign, has said that he has concerns about Mukasey's answers on torture and executive power. But Schumer has refused to comment on more than 170 pages of elaboration the nominee sent to the committee Tuesday night.
Chances are they'll confirm him despite this political wiggling maneuver, after which they'll have a dossier of his comments in the can to whip out on a rainy day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Side tracks

Here's a top track from 1970..



Wonder if the Blues Image made enough money off that one to stave off the blues for awhile? The Animals, on the other hand, were not a one-hit wonder but this song is about dealing with a certain kind of the blues...



When these groups were popular fans had to wait ages before they showed up on TV or made a rare concert appearance. Now, they just click. Amazing.

Lamenting the fate of the ghosts


In a column lamenting the "ghost prisoners" of the CIA's secret prison/rendition network (not yet transferred to GTMO) the WaPo's Craig Whitlock once again failed to mention a very intriguing detail about one of the suspected ghosts, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar--his past connections to Iraq.

Doubtful those connections were extensive, nevertheless, they are on the record. Here's what I dug up on Nasar after Whitlock's last column about the red-headed terrorist about 18 months ago (taken from the Jamestown Foundation's site for Global Terrorism Analysis):
Nasar joined the Syrian jihadist movement al-Tali'a al-Muqatila ("The Fighting Vanguard") and deepened his military expertise at the hands of refugee Syrian military officers in Jordan and Egyptian and Iraqi instructors in Baghdad and Cairo. Specializing in explosives engineering and urban guerrilla warfare, Nasar trained recruits in the military camps of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and Baghdad..
While this doesn't prove al Qaeda and Saddam were blood brothers it does support other circumstantial evidence that he was in the loop in some shadowy fashion.

Speaking of the loop, Mr. Whitlock also mentions the fate of the notorious IIS (Iraqi Intelligence Service) member Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, better known as the Iraqi envoy to the Czech Republic reported to have met with Mohamed Atta months before the 9/11 attack. This was never corroborated by the FBI although VP Cheney made frequent mention in speeches before the Iraq invasion, a major talking point within the Bush-lied division of the Democrat Party.

Now we learn al-Ani--an Iraqi spy--is suing the Czech government for framing him! He must have visions of Valerie dancing in his head. But why sue Prague and not Washington? Well..
By many accounts al-Ani was hardly a saint. During his time in the Czech Republic, he reportedly hounded Iraqi exiles living in Prague and provided logistical assistance to Islamic extremists. A top agent in Saddam's intelligence agency, he directed, according to Mlada fronta, all secret operations in Central and Eastern Europe.
So, even if he didn't meet directly with Atta, he was an agent of terrorism in the Balkans under direction from Saddam. Kind of explains why he's suing in Prague rather than New York, doesn't it?

Finally, Mr. Whitlock mentions Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, no household name in America but certainly so for those in the know. He was notorious as the AQ training coordinator captured in Afghanistan who told Egyptian Intelligence that Saddam had offered training in poisons to al Qaeda members before the invasion, only to recant thereafter (to become a sort of cause celebre for the anti-Bush set). Here's what Tenet said about al-Libi in his recent memoir, page 269:
(he) had provided the Egyptians with information that he later recanted, that al-Qa'ida had collaborated with Russian organized crime to import into New York "cannisters containing nuclear material."
Funny, al-Libi is not generally notorious for that morsel, only the one he recanted about Iraq. Speaking of that recantation, Tenet covered it on pages 353-54:
He (al-Libi) clearly lied. We just don't know when. Did he lie when he first said that al-Qa'ida members received training in Iraq or did he lie when he said they did not? In my mind, either case might still be true. Perhaps early on, he was under pressure, assumed his interrogators already knew the story, and sang away. After time passed and it became clear that he would not be harmed, he might have changed his story to cloud the minds of his captors. Al-Qa'ida operatives are trained to do just that.
Maybe. Too often both sides in this debate tend to implicitly believe one side or the other based on their personal ideologies. But one thing remains incontrovertible--Saddam was up to his neck in activity designed to keep himself in power, destabilize the Middle East and weaken the United States' overall influence. He no doubt viewed the Gulf War as a stab in the back by America and had not given up on pursuing revenge, which made him dangerous in a world full of stateless rogue operators.

As to the black site ghosts, one has to decide whether America is really in a war. If we are, reading captured terrorists Miranda with full habeas corpus rights borders on the insane and is surely something even Hillary would not pursue, despite what she might say on the campaign trail. After all, she was there when her husband started the rendition program.

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH 10/27/07

No, not the proposed title of Bush's memoirs. I'm talking about Bond, James Bond. Stay with me here.

Upon relaxing in front of the boob tube I landed on the above-titled movie today. In an early scene Bond meets Sophie Marceau, who plays "Elektra", an heiress to an oil baron. Elektra is continuing her father's work of building an oil pipeline across Azerbaijan, which she explains is going that way to "bypass the terrorists in Iran, Iraq and Syria". Terrorists? In Iraq? Iran?

The movie was released in 1999 and there was no memorable outrage over that portrayal. One might argue that Elektra was the villain and lied about it, but no one called them on it. Not even Robert Redford. Such was conventional wisdom then.

Ironically, after the above scene a commercial for his upcoming movie "Lions for Lambs" aired, which showed Tom Cruise hectoring Meryl Streep with the line "do you want to win the war on terror", a dead giveaway of the likely plot. The movie is being pegged as a wake-up call for America--guess it's too bad Redford was too tied up with Bagger Vance back in 1999 and 2000 to notice all those fatwas.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A parade of tools

This clip seems to epitomize our current predicament vis a vis Iran and the Middle East. The entire ceremony is so utterly corny and cliche it belongs in a Peter Sellers movie, especially that motley crew swaggering along with the Ayatollah. Even the Ayatollah himself is a cartoon character--from a distance he might pass for Dumbledore. Is this really 2007?

It's surreal yet serious. Iran's history of attacks against America via proxy are legend and even now they continue to brazenly help kill our troops in Iraq as if possessing some kind of Spectre-like deterrence. But what? They don't have nukes yet, right?

Maybe it's their revealed relationship with Putey-poot, who aside from his practice bombing sorties is now leaving taunting inferences with the Asian press. Is it time to revisit the Russian mole in Centcom story?

Very confusing. I'll say this.. I certainly hope Colbert opens a can when he gets in there!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In Response to the Queen

Valerie continues to blog up a storm at HuffPo with a new column today providing suggestions on how she would operate the CIA if made queen for a day. Let's take them one by one..
1. Divorce the CIA Director's job from the presidential election cycle.
Although the DCI/DNI are political appointments she points out the inefficiency of her own argument by mentioning the Woolsey anecdote while failing to mention that Bush kept Tenet and nearly everyone criticized it.
2. Don't allow any Executive Branch members to make trips to CIA Headquarters to meet with officers about specific intelligence issues, as Vice President Cheney and Mr. Libby did during the run up to the war with Iraq
Tenet said the CIA was not pressured by these visits, which seemed rather prudent in light of the circumstances and conflicting information. For some reason she failed to mention that Colin Powell had also camped out at Langley before his UN presentation. But this comment was absolutely priceless--"CIA analysts are not dumb". In other words, even though they completely missed 9/11 nobody should dare question their stovepiping brilliance.
3. Put into a place a regulation which says that any military officer designated for the CIA Director's position must resign his commission.
While this sounds prudent it also hints at her animosity towards General Hayden, who just recently had the temerity to bump her off the Charlie Rose Show. It's about the 16 words, though!

Despite the above her last paragraph was perhaps the most telling, highlighted by her "war on terror" scare quotes and TSP rant. Perhaps she didn't realize she was deriding the politicization of intelligence by politicizing intelligence? If so, her act deserves an award.

Credit where due?

Hot Air and Drudge are linking to a Bill Clinton altercation with some 9/11 twoofers in Minneapolis yesterday. Here it is. Credit where due? Maybe, but some discussion first.

The Clintons have a long history of benefiting from the headlines. Bill's political acumen is second to none, so he usually doesn't stumble into such things. One could easily believe his candor was merely an ingenious attempt to gain easy points with moderates (or even some fence-sitting righties) by being the first politico to verbally smack down these disruptive kooks. And anything that benefits him benefits Hillary--he's basically on the ticket with her.

Then there's the Ron Paul angle. His base can't be too happy with this since at last check there were no You Tube claims of victory. Clinton must know that many Paul followers are also followers of Alex Jones, a guy who's been known to run around the streets with a bullhorn shouting insurrection-like drool. Since everyone seems to agree a viable third party candidate most helps the Hill-Bill express what better way to keep Paul's love machine humming than to tick them off?

But to make such calculations on the spur of the moment is perhaps a stretch even for Slick. Assuming he didn't know the ambush was coming his reaction seemed genuine. We should not forget he was privy to those super top drawer intelligence briefs about threats from AQ, Saddam, Ayatollahs, etc, so he knows a little. He knows a lot.

That's why I'm choosing to believe his defense of the narrative was an impromptu home run, borne out of knowledge and patriotism. Credit where due, indeed. Here's hoping he starts a trend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clapton and God

Eric Clapton has written an auto-biography, whereupon he .. by the way, he's 62 years old now.. tries to explain things:
the brilliant British guitarist was descending into a personal hell. Eric Clapton traded a heroin addiction for alcoholism, suffered disastrous love affairs, contemplated suicide while armed with a bottle of vodka, a gram of blow and a shotgun.
Ironically, a common refrain in the 60s and 70s was "Clapton is God", rather an unfit description unless they really meant "a god" not "the" God. But speaking of the God, Clapton shared many of the same trials and tribulations the great heroes from the Bible suffered, such as David, Solomon, and Lot, although it's not clear whether those figures could have played Layla. What does Clapton share with me?
"I was having delusions of grandeur," he says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I thought I had something worth saying. That's what drink can do -- give a deluded view of my self-importance.
At least he had the booze as an excuse..

Here's a rare track in celebration of his conquering of fool's hill.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California fires

Not much to add about the fires, except to marvel over pictures like this one..



Yes, that's smoke wafting hundreds of miles offshore. As a kid I vaguely remember seeing wildfires burning across the ranges just north of the LA Basin and the big deal they made out of them. But are these fires any worse? Are we seeing the effects of global warming?

Hard to conclusively say but we can take a look at the 100 year temperature graph for San Diego's Lindbergh Field. Notice the steady upward trend through the late 1980s followed by a gradual leveling off or slight downward trend ever the last decade. As you can see, it's tough to pin everything entirely on local temperatures without considering precipitation and commercial development, among other things. But for some it's never too early to profit off speculation.

MORE 10/23/07

Not endorsing this, only throwing it out there. I've been watching cable news for several hours and the only thing mentioned about origin was some downed power lines.

UPDATE 10/24/07

Apparently a ton of people must be linking to the San Diego Lindbergh GISS temp trend because it's offline. Here's the trend from San Diego North Island NAS, which shows a similar slight cooling in the past decade. And check out Cuyamaca, which has shown little change since the 1940s.

MORE 10/26/07

Not saying there's anything going on here...OK, I probably am. The temp trace from San Diego Lindbergh remains unavailable as of 2300Z today from James Hansen's GISS site. All you get from clicking the link is a "+" (guess they couldn't make it a "-" eh). As mentioned above, many of the San Diego area sites including Lindbergh show a gradual cooling of the average temperature beginning about 1990 to present.

Hansen...you remember him, right?

Monday, October 22, 2007

It would be serious

The lefty media machine is tripping all over itself trying to get Valerie Plame some facetime as America's most famous spy begins her "mislead America" book tour. 60 Minutes, Meridith Viera, and even Plame herself are front and center. If you want to gawk here's the Couric interview.

I'm trying to resist getting too far into the weeds on a subject already beaten to death by much better bloggers. It's not working. Commenting on the sham is too tempting.

The WaPo, a paper Plame recently compared to "Pravda", also felt compelled to react, pointing out how hawkish Plame had once been about the WMDs. Quoting Laura Rozen's addendum:
"Valerie was not one of the intelligence community dissidents arguing against the threat posed by Saddam Hussein."
Hmm. If true, wouldn't that seem to suggest she (and her unit) had a lot riding on those WMDs being found? Indeed:
They were dumbfounded when no weapons of mass destruction were found,
OK, my comments hereafter require a crude timeline:
  • Feb-Mar 2002: Wilson sent to Africer by some guy in the hallway
  • Mar 2002: From his trip report the CIA determined their previous analysis was still correct--Saddam was still a bad guy
  • 2002-pre-war: Joe Wilson serves as a cable TV analyst, not doubting WMDs
  • Feb 2003: Bush utters the 16 friggin words
  • April 2003: Baghdad toppled
  • May 2003: Bush declares major combat over, his stupidest remark
  • May 2003: Judy Miller returns empty-handed from her WMD treasure hunt
  • May 2003: Wilson meets Kristof over a bowl of Cheerios and they hatch the first Bush lied column
  • June 2003: Armitage tells Woodward about Plame while Miller dummies up
  • July 2003: Hell breaks loose

Consider the Wilson push-back began in May 2003, not in 2002 before the war. The campaign only began after it became clear a nuclear program would not be found. Wilson probably wouldn't argue with this, perhaps saying it made his case. It made other cases, too.

For example, the New York Times, hot off the Jayson Blair fraud, was way out on the limb with Iraq due to Judy Miller's earlier reportage. Wilson's Bush-lied story had to have been quite an interesting prospect to the Times, an outfit facing serious embarrassment as each day passed without a WMD. Looks like Joe might have pulled out his Niger story at just the right time--a story few could either corroborate or refute.

The story also figured to help some in the CIA. Recall Michael Scheuer's first book, published in 2001 before he became famous, claimed Saddam had a relationship with al Qaeda. Yet during the election year of 2004 Langley allowed him to publish a more famous follow-up called "Imperial Hubris", a timely Bush-bash. Meanwhile, when nobody was looking he went back and scrubbed the Saddam-AQ relationship out of the first book by issuing a new edition, claiming that a more thorough look inside the intelligence vaults at HQ had changed his mind. If such intelligence existed one might think it would have been there all along.

The finger-pointing surrounding the 16 words episode made it was clear the CIA wasn't about to take the full blame for Iraq, even if they'd spent a decade trumping up the threat. As Armitage said to Woodward, CIA was not going to take a hit. He said it with a chuckle because it made perfect sense to him. Tenet hinted strongly of this in his book as well.

Even today Plame is trying to convince people the case against Iraq was "thin" at the time while simultaneously saying her work at CPD was very serious--she was trying to stop the bad guys from getting nukes. But if there were no WMDs; and if Saddam's regime had already been toppled; and if actual troops were already on the ground looking for weapons, then it would certainly seem her duty at the CPD desk was finished by the time Novak outed her. That doesn't mean her old contacts were not harmed--nobody knows since the damage report was never released--but certainly driving to Langley every day, sometimes with her kids in tow, was not a clandestine act.

But back to the questions. Why did she tell one story to the Senate SCI about who sent Joe then another when on national TV? Why didn't Joe come out strong as soon as he came back and realized nobody was using his debunking stuff? Why did she do the Vanity Fair feature, which her bosses were not happy with? Was she covered by the IIPA act, which Fitzgerald was charged with discovering? And, did anyone in the Democrat Party know Wilson's tale before all this took place?

Yet another conundrum is her refutation about the notion expressed by Tenet and others that Joe's trip actually strengthened the case against Saddam (also contained in the SSCI). She said such a thing was preposterous, that it could not have. But she's misdirecting. No, it didn't strengthen the case that Saddam had tried to purchase uranium from Niger as the fake doc said, but it DID strengthen the overall case against Saddam since it revealed that indeed Iraq had visited Niger and that Naimey had sent an emissary to Baghdad in 2001. And we know Niger has nothing to export but uranium.

So let's get a grip here. Ms. Plame is a very attractive, disarming and compelling figure. America loves blonds and the camera can't get enough of her. It's hard to go after such a creature with anything approaching full vigor. Just remember, she was a NOC--someone who maintained secrets, fooled neighbors and kept family members in the dark for years. Just sayin'.

MORE 10/23/07

If you'd like an eye-opening example of the difference between left and right debate just troll on over to Firedoglake and take in the latest threads. Notice the amount of personal attacks in their attacks. The Wilsons were quite chummy with the FDL crew during the trial, even taking supper with them one night so she has no excuse for not understanding the hard left bent over there. The question is, does that say anything about the depth of her leftness or the depth of her propensity for BS? Don't forget, a spy lives and dies on BS.

At any rate, those chummy connections allowed for a live Q&A session on Monday along with husband Joe and friend Sid Blumenthal. Wade through all 500+ questions if you want to but it might save the trouble to point out most were attagirls followed by get-Bush rejoinders. But there were a few interesting questioners, such as one calling himself Jeff:
Sidney Blumenthal,

Worth noting that your account of Armitage is a bit muddled and almost certainly wrong on a key point. It’s true that one of the enduring mysteries of the case - for me at least - is why Armitage was not charged either with the leak or, perhaps especially, with some kind of obstruction-type charge after he belatedly disclosed to Fitzgerald that he had blown V Wilson’s cover to Bob Woodward almost a month before he did so to Bob Novak
.
Armitage is the one question they never want to answer, and Plame didn't break the mold. But Jeff was persistent:
What I am curious about is whether the CIA, for their pension calculations or whatever, properly counted your work overseas in that period as part of “overseas service” according to their definition.
She didn't answer that either, but she did share one of her favorite songs. Towards the end one more poster attempted to catch a fly with honey:
http://www.fas.org/irp/congres.....i_iraq.pdf

Okay, found the reference…wow, there is a lot of dry material in that heavily-redacted report. Anyway, on page 35 of the Senate Intelligence Report they begin to discuss the details of the uranium trade in Niger. On page 72, Conclusion 12 states that “…it was reasonable…to assess that Iraq may have been seeking Uranium from Africa based on CIA reporting and other available intelligence.” Your personal involvement is discussed beginning on page 39 - a description that differs sharply from your sworn testimony before Congress. Please take this opportunity to set the record straight with loyal firedoglake readers regarding the truth of these findings.

Thanks Again!

David
Alas, our spy was already gone.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

McCain

Won the Republican debate, if winning can be defined by one-liners. His comment about being "tied up" during the Woodstock event is one of the best lines ever delivered in a debate. And the quip about looking into Putey's eyes and seeing three letters--KGB was classic. He's still weak on immigration and suffers from the fact he's been an insider for years and we still have problems.

But aside from one-liners, nobody really won. Huckabee continues to do well but his tendency to drift towards things like national smoking or food bans is troubling. He still seems a little scripted. Fred was relatively weak on delivery despite ending on an high note, but he still suffers from over-expectation. He also set himself up for a post-debate question from Allen Colmes--if, as he says, we're spending our grandkids' inheritance why not get out of Iraq now? His answer of national defense discretionary spending is correct but it's still spending. That's a box.

Actually, that same question could have come from Ron Paul, who won the debate based on all known internet and text-message polls (actually word is he'd already won earlier today). His closing statement that Repubs have lost their way because of out-of-control spending and the Iraq war might resonate with Goldwater fans and 9/11 truthers but Paul still hasn't figured out that when America is attacked we fight back. He gives no impression he'll ever fight back, anywhere, anytime and for any reason.

Anyone who believes that leaving the Middle East cold would not "blowback" on us later is not a serious candidate. Saddam was not inconsequential--just consider what's happened to the pace of suicide bombing attacks in Israel after the Butcher stopped writing checks.

Used Socks

Professor Clovis was asking just the other day, "whatever happened to the First Cat?"
Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks any more. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary
So says Sarah Baxter writing in the London Times, quoting a Caitlin Flanigan column in this month's Atlantic magazine:
Flanagan’s article, headed No Girlfriend of Mine, points out that Clinton wrote a crowd-pleasing book "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids’ Letters to the First Pets", in which she claimed that only with the arrival of Socks and his “toy mouse” did the White House “become a home”.
Was Socks just a prop--or has politics gone into a nosedive reminiscent of a German Stuka? Flanigan goes on to point out the sad tale of Buddy the Lab, which we learn more about here:
Secret Service agents indicated that Buddy ran off "playfully chasing a contractor" who had just left the property in a van.
Hmm. Perhaps a Halliburton or Blackwater van? Or maybe he just committed suicide.

Whatever the case, this charge will sink to the bottom just as fast as all the other recent attacks. If legitimate concerns such as a desire to conquer an entire American industry; questionable fund-raising partners; or flip-flops on Saddam can't gain traction then it's hardly likely that bashing her over pets will, either.

Matter of fact, it can only solidify her image as the victim of persecution from the VRWC. As the story says, Giuliani is busy attacking her record, which remains her only achilles heel at the moment, not her character. Somebody on his team was apparently paying attention during the 90s.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Side tracks

It's hard to post three videos and do justice to the Motown era. Here are a few of my personal faves, starting with Smokey..



The Temptations had a lot of hits, but for some reason this one stands out to me.



All aboard with the O'Jays...



"Backstabbers" and "For the Love of Money" were also huge hits for them in the 70s, but Love Train was just an upbeat and positive song, perfect for the times. To me that's the difference between the generations. Yes the wars are different but it seems like those opposed nowadays don't seem to have the same "peace, love and understanding" feel, rather it's more a violent and hateful pushback for some reason. Maybe it's the lack of a draft, or maybe I'm just getting old.

No nukes?

ABC News is running what they must believe is a sensational story about the Israeli hit on the suspected nuclear facility in Syria. According to their sources it was indeed a nuke site under construction but US Officials were supposedly against the raid. But the bombshell appears to be some ground truth gained via a Mossad penetration of the facility.

Rawstory begs to differ (of course), blaming Satan himself for the leaks, evidently to further his warmongering goals. Their source? Terrorism analyst Vincent Cannistraro, who claimed (it was):
"absolutely not a nuclear weapons facility."
So, the issue here seems to be whether a nuke facility under construction is actually a nuke facility. Common sense would say if Israel wanted to take out such a thing it would best be accomplished before the switch was thrown.

As to Mr. Cannistraro, he's been something of a go-to guy on terrorism for a decade. Rawstory certainly didn't fail to mention his background with the Bush 41 and Reagan teams, something usually done to set the table for a Cheney/Bush skewering to follow. Here's a summary of some of his contributions of late, so decide for yourself. But who could forget his contribution to this report less than two years before 9/11? Apparently quite a few.

But admittedly, there's a high likelihood the public is getting spun to some degree. Whomever the government source is they've taken great pains to distance Rice and Gates (and the US government at large) from the event, while at the same time declaring that it WAS a nuke site, which helps politically. So Rawstory's charges aren't completely out in left field. Thing is, they are making the same mistake most of the anti-Bush sites do by completely accepting at face value Syria's formal denial. What else would Assad do?

Well, maybe a lot. The telltale here seems to be his failure (or that of his ally Iran) to elevate this into an international brouhaha as might be expected. That strongly hints that they're still scrambling around trying to figure out why their Russian air defense systems didn't work. Or perhaps busy wondering who amongst them might be the next Mossad agent. Both would be victories for our side, something that might rub a few folks raw.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The truth is here!

Rod Lurie and his truthy film crew have arrived in the Bluff City. They've taken over the Commercial Appeal, as this morning's story notes, with our small-city Memphis reporters rubbing elbows with the likes of Beckinsale, Wyle and Dillon. Exciting and all, let's just hope such fraternizing won't color their movie review down the road.

Looking hard for any hint of politics in the story we find only this:
"I wrote Bob (Redford) that I was going to commit grand theft larceny with 'All the President's,' and he told me, in his atheistic way, 'God bless.'"

In the film, Beckinsale plays a reporter who is jailed after she writes a story that "outs" a CIA agent, played by Farmiga.

"It's a movie that puts journalism in a very positive light, and a movie that deals with the issue of the First Amendment," Lurie said. "I can't imagine any newspaper wouldn't be eager to be part of that."
Wonder if Lurie or anyone else will be making a movie about Wen Ho Lee's settlement with the media? Not sexy enough, perhaps. Nuke secrets and all.

In perhaps a stroke of irony the nominee for Attorney General was just yesterday asked about a possible shield law for reporters and provided a less than enthusiastic reply:
he echoed Bush administration arguments that such a law could be used to protect journalists who are acting as spies or terrorists.
As to the real-life subject of the film (oops, sorry--it's not actually about Judy Miller, wink, wink) we await something more than gossip.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Know (and love) thine enemy

Hot Air pointed today to a New York Times video promo for the new movie "Meeting Resistance", yet another anti-war movie set to open soon. It tracks several anonymous members of the Iraq insurgency during 2003 as they plot to kill US troops.

As Allahpundit said, the film doesn't offer much news and is endorsed by a Clintonista who offered this stock boilerplate about it, undoubtedly counting as crack for publications like the NY Times. Check it out and see if you don't think the "enemy" they refer to is actually us.

The film, which will probably be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize next year under some newly created subcategory, claims the insurgency just popped up like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. In other words, there was very little delay between the day the statue fell and the first insurgency cells.

Actually, this lines up pretty well with reports suggesting Saddam and his RCC leaders had planned the insurgency from the get-go:
A NEWSWEEK investigation shows that long before U.S. and other Coalition troops blasted across the border into Iraq on March 20, 2003, Saddam had put aside hundreds of millions of dollars (some sources claim billions) and enormous weapons caches to support a guerrilla war. Since the aftermath of his defeat in the 1991 gulf war, Saddam had started preparing secret cells of younger officers from his military and intelligence services, according to Ali Ballout, a Lebanese journalist who had close ties to the former dictator. They were meant, at first, to help him defend against a coup. "He was very good at that," says Ballout, who often acted as an intermediary between Saddam and foreign leaders. Later, some of these officers would provide core leadership in the resistance.
The filmmakers will disagree, since they claim neither the Saddamists nor AQ were instrumental in starting it. Somebody is lying.

Ironically, the Times video page also featured a clip from another film called "No End in Sight", which essentially blames Paul Bremer for losing the war (see if you can find the veiled chickenhawk assertion). Not disputing them, but it's quite interesting since we began hiring the army and police back not too long afterwards under new uniforms and command structure. Historians will also recall that insurgents were blowing themselves up in the recruiting centers as this was taking place.

While it's not out of the question to believe the dissolution of Saddam's Army might have had a negative effect on the population at large (which fed the insurgency) hindsight is 20/20. Bremer should not be treated like scum in the historical record for making a judgment call that was Bush's anyway. Mistakes are made in war. Besides, anything since amounts to rank speculation--it's impossible to say whether these same soldiers wouldn't have been coerced into joining the insurgency anyway. Saddam was still at large and Syria and other countries were helping fan the flames.

Whether these type of movies are honest post mortems or rank propaganda is hard to say. Conventional wisdom already says Bush was snookered by people like Curveball and Chalabi, a theory pushed by those who refuse to outright claim he lied, yet some folk are easy as Sunday morning when it comes to believing their own questionable characters--so long as America takes a hit in the end.

That's not to say we can do no wrong, we can and do. But the vigor with which some pursue the blame illustrates an underlying ideology, one often shared (consciously or unconsciously) by many in the mainstream media borne of Nixon. Ask people what they remember about the decade of Reagan and you'll get a similar disparity on who the good guys were. In contrast, not even the looniest of far right loons believes America was the bad guy in the Balkans war despite Clinton being the president and with no history of threats from Milosevic.

Still, as time marches on the chances of seeing any significant John Wayne type flicks extolling the virtues of our heroes fighting this GWoT are approaching zero. We're hamstrung by an uber-liberal Hollywood and a culture of political correctness so deep it won't even allow public acknowledgment of the enemy. The left has managed to shape Iraq as a colossal failure and Afghanistan is next, none of which portends an impending victory. But please, whatever you do, don't tell these guys.

Halloween for dummies

This story appeared on Drudge yesterday:
This year's elaborate display at the Madison home of David and Cheryl Maines was no different than in year's past. But because of recent events surrounding hateful symbols of nooses, public outcry has caused the creators to yank the decorations altogether.
Here's the dummy. It's pretty lame, eh? That thing wouldn't be hanging outside the AC abode. But racist?
"This is very sensitive. This is something that has gone on in American history that we won't forget," Millie Hazlewood. "But we don't have to keep on recycling and bring it back up, and at this point in time, no."
Well fine, but it's doubtful the Maines were making a political statement in favor of re-instituting public lynchings. The guy claims it was a cheap rendition of this. Who knows?

But there are some interesting parallels between this story and the Brossard Mexican flag-cutting event. Some are saying that conservatives are engaged in selective outrage between the two. Not really. There are some important differences.

The Reno bar owner was intentionally disrespecting the symbol of our country on public street, technically a violation of the law even if not enforced. It's not as if it was during some kind of Cinco de Mayo celebration. It was meant to be offensive. That said, Brossard could have been arrested and charged, and most on the right were OK with that.

But the main argument lefties were making at the time was that the flag is only a "piece of cloth" and people should have just tolerated the display. Those same folks are not likely to say, "hey, the dummy is just plastic". And there's your selective outrage.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mukasey

Judge Mukasey is going through Senate confirmation hearings this week in his quest to become the next Attorney General. Judging by TPM Cafe's video and his own words, he's scoring some points.
Congress should find new ways to relieve "a strained and mismatched legal system" that cannot adequately stop terrorist plots while guarding the rights of those suspected of hatching them.
Notice he said "Congress", the very body deciding his future right now. One possible reason why Bush felt the need to circumvent that grand deliberative body was their well-known tendencies to over-deliberate from a partisan perspective. Look at it this way--when the chips are on the line should we trust our lives completely to a bunch of pompous windbags with re-elections coming up?

Take the anthrax attack for example. If one refuses to believe they were 1) perpetrated by the government or 2) by the military industrial complex, then the president had both hands full while unicycling on a tightrope shortly after 9/11 (add Tenet's revelation for further effect). This is all too quickly forgotten by the crowd calling him der Fuhrer and even by our own media.

Indeed, perhaps the Founders didn't assign the Commander-in-Chief function to the House Speaker for a reason. Cheney has been making the executive powers argument for years, something the left and media have successfully demonized (complete with the ominous soundtrack). However, in an age of instant communications, worldwide travel, and WMDs, it's an argument worth having and judge Mukasey seems engaged.

After all, he's got quite the background, including his stint as the presiding judge over the Blind Sheikh case, Jose Padilla's detainment status, and the Moussaoui evidence. The Rahman case in particular illustrated the tenuous nature of trying terrorists within our constitutional system.

Back in 1995 the government was saying Rahman was the mastermind of the 1993 WTC attack and Holland and Lincoln tunnel plots while simultaneously saying Yousef was also a mastermind. As the New York Times asked at the time, "Can Two Masterminds Exist?".
"Whoever the Fifth Battalion is, it ain't the Sheik," said John H. Jacobs, a lawyer for one of the defendants. "And it sure is not our defendants." But Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutors in the current trial, have called the argument silly.
Amazingly, the defense team for the Blind Sheikh alleged Yousef was an Iraqi agent working on behalf of Saddam to exact revenge for the Gulf War. Remember that? Neither do I. The defense wanted all kinds of evidence dug up on Yousef to make their case, most of which Mukasey disallowed. With lawyers like Lynne Stewart involved in the mix the balancing act becomes quite clear.

The judge seems to have some ideas about how to better approach the problem so hopefully he can lead us to a workable solution that satisfies nearly everyone, with the exception of the evil-doers, of course.

MORE 10/18/07

Wow, what a disappointing day it must have been for those who thought Mr. Mukasey might actually be aligned with the liberal attack dogs trying to get Bush. The interviewee was grilled about torture, torture, torture today yet failed to give the requisite responsive to the grand inquisitors, prompting retorts such as this one from Leahy, "(I'm) troubled by your answer. I see a loophole big enough to drive a truck through." or Russ Feingold, who referred to one response as a "disturbing view."

Mukasey's view on presidential powers vis a vis things like the TSP or other extraordinary measures was brought to light with this response,
"the president is not putting somebody above the law; the president is putting somebody within the law....The president doesn't stand above the law. But the law emphatically includes the Constitution."
Not a lawyer or scholar, but he seems to be taking Bush's side.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Behold, the man of peace

Here's Al Gore via the Greatscat blog speaking about withdrawing from Iraq "as soon as possible". Not sure who he's talking to here, it seems almost like his child.



He's right, 9/11 had nothing to do with Saddam, at least as far as we know. But he also told us (and he's usually correct in his predictions, according to Krugman) that leaving Saddam in power was not a good long term plan.

I wonder, what changed his thinking? Saddam was certainly not going to change his.

IAEA takes action

The U.N. nuclear watchdog did not know about any undeclared atomic plant in Syria and has asked Damascus about information that such a site was targeted by an Israeli air strike, a spokeswoman said on Monday.
As was recently pointed out, Mohamed ElBaradei won a Nobel Prize while completely missing a nuclear program in Libya. Now it appears the IAEA might have missed one in Syria. Trying to think of a word here...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Feckless, that's it.

MORE 10/17/07

Perhaps the spirit of Alger Hiss lives on.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Telephonic memory hole

Seems people are trying to make hay out of the latest brouhaha about phone tapping, insinuating that Bush lied about the reason for telephonic surveillance. To wit, Joe Powell:
Allegations are emerging now that the NSA, authorized by the White House, began using warrantless surveillance programs months and months before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 2001. The program was widespread and threats were leveled at phone companies who did not comply.
Aside from the fact this makes it sound like the administration WAS paying attention to terrorism before 9/11 unlike what critics have said, all one need do is take a trip back in time on the New York Sun (thanks to Macsmind) to the "Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994", signed into law by Bill Clinton before the Congress was taken over by Newt.

What? You've never heard of such a thing? You say the 90s were a decade of peace and prosperity, where the world loved America and the Constitution was still intact and before there was any of this evil Rendition stuff, er, extraordinary rendition stuff? Sure:
The act made clear that a court order isn't the only lawful way of obtaining call information, saying, "A telecommunications carrier shall ensure that any interception of communications or access to call-identifying information effected within its switching premises can be activated only in accordance with a court order or other lawful authorization."
"Or other lawful authorization" being the key phrase. Indeed:
The law that President Clinton signed into law and that was approved by voice votes in 1994 by a Democrat-majority House and a Democrat-majority Senate not only made clear the phone companies' "duty" to cooperate, it authorized $500 million in taxpayer funds to reimburse the phone companies for equipment "enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to access call-identifying information that is reasonably available to the carrier." .
More background here.

Now, I realize Joe and others are focusing more on the Bush raison d'ĂȘtre or lack thereof, 9/11. Not sure if their purpose is truthery, political, or just a quest for facts. Since the NSA program still classified it's impossible to make accurate comparisons between then and now. But it sounds like what the Quest guy could have had a beef with whether that "other lawful authorization" part was indeed legal, if I'm reading this correctly.

If I'm not, and that's always possible, it's still worthwhile to point out that the Clinton administration was doing a lot under the table to combat terrorism back in the 90s, things the MSM either kept quiet about or had no interest of turning into political hatchets.

Yousef, the Supermax, and the conversion

Well, the 60 Minutes expose on the Supermax has come and gone and we really don't know much more than Drudge told us a few days ago. At least not from the televised story.

A few things were confirmed, like the fact that shoe bomber Richard Reid is a wide-eyed tag-along and could probably be contained in the nearby county jail; that the place features a bi-partisan quartet of bombers--the Unabomber (far left), Terry Nichols (far right or perhaps anarchist), Eric Rudolph (Christian fundamentalist) and Yousef (Muslim).

According to the former warden Yousef was the "most interesting inmate" he'd ever seen in his career, a guy with that real "Charles Manson look". Did Charlie Yousef convert to Christianity? Here's the 60 Minutes producer with more insight, information not included in the broadcast:
No one we have talked to who knows Yousef believes his change of religion is for real, despite the extraordinary steps of cutting his hair, eating pork and professing to be a Christian.

What we do know is that Yousef gets his news late and in pieces. He is not allowed to watch any of the news channels and he gets copies of USA Today a month after they are published. News items that relate to terrorism or are otherwise deemed a security risk are cut out of the paper before he gets it.
But that's not all. Here's what he said about Rudolph:
He's also become fairly fluent in Arabic, getting shouted lessons from some of the other D-Unit residents.
We don't know what contact he might have with Yousef, but seems they might be having an ideological battle of sorts. Uncle Pavian has more on the possible conversion, which sounds reasonable. I'm inclined to go with "stunt" right now. Leopards very seldom change their spots.

The show did manage to partially answer one question I've had for years and that is, did Yousef see 9/11 on TV as it happened, and if so, how did he react? The female guard Scott Pelley interviewed said "a lot of them" jumped for joy and were excited, happy, etc, but she didn't specifically name Yousef as one of them. We must presume he was. Recall that:
As Yousef is flying over New York City on his way to a prison cell, an FBI agent asks him, “You see the Trade Centers down there, they’re still standing, aren’t they?” Yousef responds, “They wouldn’t be if I had enough money and enough explosives.”
For some reason 60 Minutes left that out, a factoid that was covered in ABC's "Path to 9/11", the docudrama Swiftboated by the Clintonistas.

All this talk about Yousef brings up a couple of questions, 1) where is Zahid Shaikh Mohammed, KSM's brother, and 2) where is Abdul Rahman Yasin, Yousef's co-conspirator in the 1993 bombing and last seen in Baghdad?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Eid celebration the Mid South way

Memphis made some national blogospheric news when the local Muslim Eid celebration got mentioned by Little Green Footballs, mainly for the picture below:










The knives are kind of strange, especially with a guy in what looks like business attire. Turns out he's just following the custom set by Mohammed to wear nice clothes, but a search for information about waving large knives came up empty. Maybe it's a local alteration--trying to pass it off as a gun and knife show. This is the south, after all.

Memphis isn't the only place making Eid news. The Empire State Building in New York was all lit up in green this weekend to mark the event. Not sure how controversial that is considering the fact they light it for all kinds of holidays throughout the year, although The Religion of Peace's description elicited a guilty chuckle. Only in America.

But if true, THIS has crossed all known lines of sanity and tolerance. A dirt clearing with little flags and mementos and a lemonade stand would be more respectful. Of course, Dylan Avery and his friends long ago took a leak on the site by claiming the crash never happened, but this is far different because it's sanctioned, not just a collection of misguided kids and tottering kooks.

Arnold and SB777

To some, the website World Net Daily is known as "World Nut Daily" due to their propensity for, shall we say, sensationalism. This story certainly seemed to fit that bill, at least at first glance:
"Mom and Dad" as well as "husband and wife" have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose.
"Mom and Dad" now offensive? Signed by the Terminator? Time for some research. The bill that the Governator signed, SB777, does change the definition of discrimination as it pertains to California public school teachers and textbooks. A few examples:
Existing law prohibits a teacher from giving instruction, and a school district from sponsoring any activity, that reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry.
OK, fine, there was some outdated verbiage in the old one, so it's not surprising they wanted to clean it up. So far so good. The new law changed that verbiage as follows:
disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, equal rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the state.
Notice that "sex" has been replaced with "gender", and they've added "sexual orientation" to the list. And the last item is non-specific and depends on whatever crazy definitions of hate the California Assembly might one day dream up.

The new definitions are defined. Most are intuitive, some aren't:
"Gender" means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.
Here's the old, outdated definition of "sex" that gender replaced:
"Sex" means the biological condition or quality of being a male or female human being.
My how times change. Next, here's the new definition of religion, which may raise a few hackles by itself:
"Religion" includes all aspects of religious belief, observance, and practice and includes agnosticism and atheism.
Most atheists would not consider themselves religious but that does seem to set up an interesting dichotomy regards the teaching of macro-evolution, or Muslim culture, for example.
"Sexual orientation" means heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.
At risk of offending, why not include beastialitists, pedophiles, polygamists or eunuchs, since all are making a choice to behave in such manners? It would seem if the state wants to protect a certain group that group should be recognized scientifically as a group. Are people born bi-sexual, for example? The case can perhaps be made that people are born with a propensity towards homosexuality, but what physiological traits exist in bi-sexuals that are different from homosexuals or heterosexuals? Does anyone know? Therefore, they would appear no different than eunuchs or polygamists. Discrimination!

The funny thing is, neither teachers nor textbooks are discriminating against the protected kids now. That's why Christian groups believe the only purpose was to redefine the terms in an effort to force out quaint colloquialisms such as 'mom and pop'. They may be right. It'll be interesting to see if California can effectively ban the term "mom and dad" since technically everyone has a mom and dad, even if the dad is a sperm donor and the mom is a surrogate. Loopholes are loopholes.

But this aspect of the new law may even be more troubling:
..and students, whether male or female, must be allowed to use the restroom and locker room corresponding to the sex with which they choose to identify.
Do they not understand the nature of teenaged boys? Think of the movie "Porky's" without the hole in the girl's bathroom wall.

In the end this whole thing was probably just a conspiracy by the lawyers. Christians should not stop fighting for their rightful place in the shaping of society but they really shouldn't be surprised at any of this. It was all foretold long ago.

QUESTION... 10/17/07

Here is the Preamble to the California state constitution:
We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.
Can California school kids learn about or repeat this phrase while in school without offending others?

UPDATE 10/19/07

Reader PD points out a mistake. In the main text I seemed to attribute this statement to the bill:
..and students, whether male or female, must be allowed to use the restroom and locker room corresponding to the sex with which they choose to identify
It was originally supposed to have been attributed to WND based apparently on this site. Sorry for the mixup.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Side tracks



Amazing. Not sure I've ever seen a keyboardist play that fast without mistake.

A parsing of Sanchez's remarks

No surprise here. Three main outlets, CNN, Washington Post, and the New York Times, all decided to cover the general's criticisms in different ways. See if you can guess why.

CNN lays out all the juicy stuff in their report but they include this short rejoinder fairly close to the top:
Still, he said, the U.S. cannot pull out of Iraq without causing chaos that would have global implications.
Yet for some reason they didn't include this criticism, found in the WaPo's version:
Sanchez opened by criticizing the U.S. news media, saying he was unfairly labeled "a liar" and "a torturer" because of the Abu Ghraib scandal, and he alleged that the media have lost their sense of ethics. He said that members of the media blow stories out of proportion and are unwilling to correct mistakes, and that the "media environment is doing a great disservice to the nation."
Bravo, but before we award the WaPo a medal let's remember they buried that comment at the end of page two despite admitting Sanchez "opened" his speech with these remarks. The WaPo also focused a little more on Sanchez's tie-in with Abu Ghraib than did CNN.

The Old Gray Lady jumped on Abu Ghraib early and often, saying,
But his own role as commander in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib scandal leaves him vulnerable to criticism that he is shifting the blame from himself to the administration that ultimately replaced him and declined to nominate him for a fourth star, forcing his retirement.
Actually, their whole piece was fairly critical of the general, offering this editorial comment further down the page:
Asked after his remarks what strategy he favored, General Sanchez ticked off a series of steps—from promoting reconciliation among Iraq’s warring sectarian factions to building effective Iraqi army and police units — that closely paralleled the list of tasks frequently cited by the Bush administration as the pillars of the current strategy.
But notice the Times didn't include Sanchez's opening remarks criticizing the media, either, nor did they mention his remark about the dangers of leaving too soon. The WaPo didn't mention the dangers of leaving remark either, which is why we didn't give them a medal.

They all covered the "nightmare with no end in sight" remark but not all covered his rather incendiary-sounding quip about, "a lust for power". Clearly he was referring to Bushitler and the neocons, right? Well, the Times described it in reference to 'civilian officials' while the Wapo left it out entirely. CNN had a sharper focus:
"Too often, our politicians have been distracted and they have chosen loyalty to their political parties above loyalty to the Constitution because of their lust for power,"
Too close to Reid, Pelosi and company, perhaps?

This critique should in no way be seen as a diminution of the general's comments, which are valid and necessary as we pursue future goals and elect public officials to carry them out. But hindsight is always right--it's impossible to turn back the clock and pretend that leaving the Ba'athists out of government would have made things any better or worse. After all, we'd just defeated the supreme Ba'athist leader, a man who was the epicenter of this whole sordid affair and who was bloviating about the Mother of all Battles right to the bitter end.

MORE 10/13/07

Should have read Powerline and Captain's Quarters this morning, both of whom pegged this media misdirection play.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Climate control

Ho hum. The inevitable has occurred--Al Gore is now permanently linked with such luminaries as Yassir Arafat and Jimmy Carter.

Of far more interest is what he plans to do with the millions in proceeds. According to some wire services it'll be going to a "bi-partisan" foundation he supports called the Alliance for Climate Protection. Thinking about that title for more than a moment should produce a chuckle. It's akin to having an alliance to protect volcanoes.

But just how bi-partisan is it? Well, Brent Skowcroft is on their corporate board, the same Skowcroft who has lately become an avid Bush basher. Does that count? The board also includes Clinton's former EPA honcho Carol Browner. Listed as a partner is Participant Productions, the company that released such non-partisan thrillers as "An Inconvenient Truth", "Syrianna", "Good Night and Good Luck" (the story of Keith Olberman) and who are currently working on "Charlie Wilson's War", which will likely attempt to blame the War on Terror on America.

Quite literally the site is a boiling stew pot of modern liberalism, complete with embedded political messages and convenient alarmism. For example, Mr. Gore, in trying to make his point, at one point compares the Earth with Venus:
As a result, while the average temperature on Earth is a pleasant 59 degrees, the average temperature on Venus is 867 degrees. True, Venus is closer to the Sun than we are,
Well yes, other than that little factoid about the distance it's virtually the same! Gore makes the point that Venus is even hotter than Mercury, although the latter has no atmosphere. But geez, when Bush tried to tie Saddam with bin Laden (not for 9/11) the left crucified him and called it an alarmist lie, yet Gore can subtly suggest the Earth might turn into Venus and he gets the Nobel.

More troubling is the term "climate emergency" peppered throughout the site. These same folks are apt to call the GWoT a "bumper sticker" even though a few nukes going off in a major city would solve the climate crisis pretty fast. Nuclear winter tends to have that effect.

Without advocating political favorites the site has no problem allowing Gore to say "a domestic regime to reduce global warming pollution" (is needed) in 2009, which can only mean they favor a Democratic Congress coupled with Gore or Hillary in order to sign the new, tougher climate treaty (not called Kyoto) whereupon the forced compliance can begin.

That may seem rash but when advocates use the term "crisis" it's a euphemism for immediate controlling action, similar to evacuations from coastal areas in front of an approaching hurricane or exit orders from a condemned building. Here Gore discusses those who would express dissent about America's role in the mitigation process (taxation):
There are some who will try to pervert this precedent and use xenophobia or nativist arguments to say that every country should be held to the same standard. But should countries with one-fifth our gross domestic product -- countries that contributed almost nothing in the past to the creation of this crisis -- really carry the same load as the United States?
True, but for some reason he fails to mention Chiner (Rudy-speak) who just surpassed the US in annual CO2 output. Must have been an inconvenient truth. His main point seems to be that WE caused global warming, therefore only we can fix it. If you disagree, you are a racist. And you hate children.

I've nothing against conservationists or those who desire to protect the environment. It's downright distressing to see empty Starbucks cups tossed on the side of the road, for example. But when self-anointed ex-politicians run around scaring the wits out of people using terms like "emergency" it's a problem.

That's why the recent judicial ruling in England was a step forward, but it's only a finger in the dike. This issue is far too tempting for professional politicians to resist, what with visions of generational leftist control dancing around in their heads. Some would say the same temptation exists on the Republican side via terrorism but climate holds far more promise for worry simply due to the scope of possible control.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Carter Doctrine

Jimmy Carter made the headlines today essentially for doing the same thing he's been doing for years now, badmouthing the Bush administration and white-washing his past. Today torture, yesterday Dick Cheney. Procotol, schmotocol.

Perhaps it's time for a history reminder. Harken back to 1979 and the essence of Carter's legacy:


Behold the Carter doctrine of peace and security. Notice the US flag on fire, the death chants, the American Marines under arrest, on and on. Maybe he was too wrapped up watching the Soviets stream into Afghanistan on Christmas Day 1979 to get much done. Just an aside, but the Iran-Iraq war began during the fall of 1980 and nobody has since accused Carter of secretly helping Saddam start it to take pressure off the hostage crisis and get himself reelected. Hmmm.

Even today, as Mahmoud whirls invective and comes to New York with the intention of throwing a nice poppy bouquet on Ground Zero while questioning the truth about 9/11 we still await America's formal retaliation for 1979 (and 1983, and 1996). And in the Iranian background and amidst Carter's insults, the centrifuges are spinning.

Getting along

Cooperative Research.org

Slow news day, which usually means some of us will meander around searching for true meaning and purpose on Earth, even to the point of tackling the Islam versus Christianity debate.

Both religions have taken hits in the media and within popular culture but relativism seems to be gaining in popularity as more and more days pass without an attack. Such tranquility more easily allows people to gaze back on the past sins of Christianity and compare them favorably with the current sins of Islam, even though there's no real comparison.

Few stories exemplify the divide better than this one, from ex-Muslim and now atheist Aymaan Hirsi Ali, who believes the west is at war with ALL of Islam. Some are even starting to call her crazy. But, while it's debatable to me whether true atheists are indeed sane due to their belief in random nothingness, based on her writings and speeches she seems pretty lucid.

There's also this story, highlighted by local blogger Mick Wright, about an apparent olive branch foisted by Muslim scholars towards Christians. Sincere or not? My take is located in comments over at Mick's place but suffice to say, it runs a tad skeptical.

But topping it all off was a Drudge exclusive that previewed Sunday's 60 Minutes expose of the Supermax prison in Colorado, where rumor has it that 1993 World Trade Center bomber and super terrorist Ramzi Yousef has converted to Christianity. Speculation is high--even the warden doesn't seem to believe it--but strange nonetheless since it would seemingly give the jihadist movement a black eye. Keep hope alive, since if he can be saved anyone can. Lucky for him he probably won't be honor-killed by Reid or Moussaoui since the former superterrorist apparently doesn't venture much out of his cell these days.

But let's not get too slap-happy on this revelation yet. Recall that he infamously predicted his ilk would one day return and topple the Towers (an anecdote which appeared in the Clinton-criticized "Path to 9/11" movie) and he also proudly proclaimed himself to be a terrorist acting against the US at the end of his Bojinka trial. Funny, the judge in his trial expressed exasperation over the fact they didn't even know exactly who Yousef was.

As for his fundamentalist Muslim qualities, well, they appeared to be lacking at times, even prompting the FBI agent in charge to say,
he hid behind a cloak of Islam.
Perhaps he's just changed cloaks. Zacarious Moussaoui, speaking for himself during his trial, opined that it's OK to lie for jihad. Indeed, the evidence seems to back up that claim. It might be prudent to take with a grain some of these statements and stories that occasionally emerge from the Religion of Peace. After all, few seem in a hurry to condemn verses like Qu'ran verse 9 chapter 111 as it relates to blowing up children and old ladies, for example.