Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

From Sydney, this year, thanks to the power of the wire.

And thanks to all who've dropped by and perused the blog in 2007. Cheers, and here's hoping everyone's favorite teams win, including mine.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A year of extremes, except...

The AP's science writer has just published an ominously scary piece about 2007 being a year of records. Indeed it was. For example, he mentioned the all time record high of 105 degrees in Portland, Tennessee (it was awfully hot and dusty here in Memphis, too); he talked about the fires in Calefornyeea and the lake-parching drought in the southeast; and he rang the warning bell about the record melting of the Greenland and Arctic ice caps.

But for some reason he failed to mention the record cold winter experienced in part of the southern Hemisphere. As Spock would say, fascinating. And for some reason he didn't bother to tell anyone about how the Antarctic ice cap and it's surrounding sea ice expanded in 2007. Weird. And for some reason this AP science writer failed to mention the positive reversal of the Arctic Current, once thought to be a harbinger of doom.

These are called feedback mechanisms. For instance, he could have explained that any increase in snow pack over Antarctica has the potential to offset melting in Greenland (melting sea ice does not affect sea level) but apparently such things don't fit the script, which goes like this:
Get used to it, scientists said. As man-made climate change continues, the world will experience more extreme weather, bursts of heat, torrential rain and prolonged drought, they said.
Everything but cold extremes, of course. Simply put, their refusal to even acknowledge a cold side to the extremes or any natural feedbacks suggests an agenda at work and is part of the primary reason many conservatives have trouble with the whole darn thing.

Presidential fire

Does Fred Thompson need some in the ole belly? Is it even necessary?

The fair and balanced media hoisted another misrepresentation against the big guy the other day. A few more of those coupled with a poor showing in Iowa and a loss in South Carolina and we can say a toasty fare-the-well to Fred 08. The media surely smells that blood.

Here's his reply:
If a candidate succumbs to this he will be reduced to nothing more than a sound bite machine. As for me I am going to continue to say exactly what is in my heart and is on my mind and give straight and honest answers to those who ask straight and honest questions.

Incidentally, the audience in Burlington broke into applause in the middle of my answer. The reporter wouldn’t know that because she wasn’t even there
That's why I like Fred. And I like the way he's handled himself so far. I still think he's the most well-rounded conservative candidate. But it's no surprise he's not doing well.

Before his announcement he allowed himself to be built into a near rock star, so naturally people expected a rock star when he finally arrived. What they got was a laid-back southern gentleman running an "it's not about me" campaign. That doesn't compare well with Mitt, Rudy, Hillary or Obama, but as he says, neither would Washington or Teddy Roosevelt. Still, rock stars are what people have come to expect anymore. Thank Bill Clinton for changing that paradigm (who's basically running again).

Thompson's plan to use the alternative media to make quick end-runs around the blood sport crowd was clever but it doesn't appear to be reaching the people who change the polls. Even this morning had the "not interested" headline in its top stories page, only to later add a question mark on the end. At last check was still part of the internets. It's a sure guess more people visit them than they do blogs or

Not only that, but many people today still get their news from sound bites amassed from hither and yon, whether it be radio, TV or friendly conversation. That's not intended to be a slam on individuals, just a statement of fact. Aside from political junkies and bloggers, there's only so much news that an average person can cram into a work day along with other commitments, including entertainment/relaxation. That means a large number of people only get one side of the story, and it ain't necessarily his side.

But what about presidential ambition? My jury is still out. On one hand I agree with Fred that too much ambition is a bad thing. Besides, once in the Oval Office ambition doesn't count for squat, it's coolness under fire and leadership that are needed. We should be closely watching the candidates for such qualities. But that doesn't mean ambition can be dismissed.

The POTUS is the most demanding job on the planet. There are no real days off. People blame the president for nearly everything--magnified in spades by the Katrina disaster and as we've seen, even a terrorist attack. It's not easy being the Decider or the Commander Guy. My feeling is it takes a man of at least some faith--it's a pretty massive burden to bear alone. Perhaps that little intangible partially explains Huckabee's viability. At the same time Huck possesses a near missionary level of ambition to reach the top. Is that good?

Which is precisely what Fred was trying to say. In comparison he might be the most sane candidate of all based on that alone. But the American people are not idiots. We know how easy it might be for someone without driving ambition to at some point open their eyes and say, "what the hell did I do"? Nobody dares reach that decision point with everything facing America in the next decade. In other words, Freddie would be well-served by showing more fire from here out, however he chooses to do it.

FIRE. BELLY. 12/31/07

Fred lays it out (via Hot Air/Fred08). He's making an appeal to common sense, leadership for the good of America rather than for power-seeking, and the future sans a nanny state (that comes in part through a depleted military). And at the end he appeals to the Almighty, as only Fred can. It was necessary based on Huck and Mitt's perceptions so it was a tad on the pandering side, but at the same time well done and very much like you'd expect from Fred.

He's no Reagan. He's no Clinton. He's not even as charismatic as Huckabee. But he's not lying about his background, about the other candidates, about the Democrats, or about the future.

Thing is, will this video be seen by more than 1 percent of the voters?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anything it takes get Hannah Montana tickets:
An essay that won a 6-year-old girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq." While gripping, it wasn't true _ and now the girl may lose her tickets after her mom acknowledged to contest organizers it was all a lie.
This little girl's mother, after being cornered with the bald faced fact that "daddy" (not married to mommy in this case) was not killed in Iraq, explained it all by saying:
"We did the essay and that's what we did to win," Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."
Here's a video from WFAA in Dallas [from the video]:
They say they never dreamed of having to do background checks on essays from little girls. They say the real truth of what happened is "even more disturbing." But so far, they won't say what that is.
Not sure the 6 year old needs the punishment here. Perhaps they could send her on the trip along with the runner-up (after a background check of course) and her family and let mom stay home or even answer to petty fraud charges.

But gee, what could be 'even more disturbing' than a little girl being told it's OK to lie to win a contest by using a fantasy killing of her father; then winning; then having it stripped away? Are they illegals? Are they even related at all? Where's the real dad and what does he think? Did he put them up to it?

Speculating wildly, should they eventually turn out to be 'undocumented' it makes a certain sense--most people who come across our border illegally possess an "anything it takes" mindset. This has been pointed out by many on the pro-enforcement side as a possible future by-product (or for you Ron Paul fans 'blowback') of granting blanket amnesty, ie, if they didn't abide laws when coming here and end up being rewarded, what incentive is there to ever follow a law?

But let's face it, no major company in America would ever describe being undocumented as 'disturbing' so it's probably something else. Not sure of their politics, but it's easy to imagine a scenario where they picked her as the winner thinking it was a "win-win": she was Hispanic and her father had been killed by the evil Bushitler's unjustified war. Very chic.

Whatever the case (and the facts may change) it's certainly not the first time a parent has irresponsibly coerced their child to lie for a cause. The major point here was the callousness and shamelessness of the method. Which says something.

Friday, December 28, 2007


The nonsense is flowing full stream now. Pakistan, after saying she was shot, then hit by fragments, now says she just hit her head. That's a convenient way of dismissing the horrible security that allowed at least one shooter to fire several rounds at near point blank range, although as pointed out by many, Bhutto certainly helped by standing up through the opening.

It's interesting the government is already formally blaming al Qaeda before their dual investigations have even begun:
Cheema described Mehsud as an al-Qaida leader who was also behind most other recent terror attacks in Pakistan, including the Karachi bomb blast in October against Bhutto that killed more than 140 people. "Mehsud is thought to be the commander of pro-Taliban forces in the tribal region of South Waziristan, where al-Qaida fighters are also active.
Of course, we also blamed bin Laden for 9/11 before our investigation was completed. If history repeats we'll soon see the "Bhutto isn't really dead" conspiracies begin.

In the meantime, why would the Paki government be so eager to blame terrorists in the tribal areas when Musharraf has a horrific track record with them? It almost seems he's trying to pick a fight, one he couldn't wage previously due to the mood of his population but one he might now better undertake if Bhutto's enraged supporters throw in behind him to avenge her death. How would the U.S. fit in to such a scenario?

Well, the situation in Afghanistan has to be frustrating to Bush. He's got one year left and clearly doesn't want to be the next president who didn't get bin Laden. Unless Thompson, McCain or Giuliani succeed him it's likely that any democrat or Ron Paul would retreat and let the chips fall where they may, later blaming Bush (or in Paul's case, Eisenhower) when the next attack occurs. And once we're gone it'll be hard to go back, meaning the area will become a terrorist Club Med.

AQ obviously knows our hands are tied and that we need to shut down the tribal areas if we ever hope to succeed in Afghanistan. They know it's not possible without Pakistani help. They know it's a race against time with our elections. Before the Bhutto assassination, stories were already starting to surface about increased American Special Forces activity into Pakistan in the coming months, and today we got another one (HT Jihad Watch):
"Pakistan should be carefully watched because it could prove to be a significant flashpoint in the coming year," US think tank Strategic Forecasting said in an evaluation of al-Qaida's tactics as the Islamist group comes under mounting pressure in Iraq.

With the "rapid spread of Talibanisation" in Pakistan's insurgent northwest, the country would become "especially important if the trend in Iraq continues to go against the jihadis and they are driven from Iraq", the assessment said.

Quick time out--anyone think the anti-war set will start caterwauling about warmongering in Pakistan as they did during our rhetoric war with Iran (even though Pakistan already has nukes)?

As to the culprits, perhaps AQ did stage the attack as a sort of hail mary play to destabilize the country with hopes Musharraf would get toppled before any such allied initiatives could come to pass. If so, it may completely backfire should the bulk of the Pakistani people turn on them as many Iraqis have now done. And if that allows a clean up in the tribal areas, assuming such a thing is possible, then we win.

MORE 12/28/07

And so it begins. This video is apparently making the rounds with the obvious suggestion that Bhutto was eliminated due to a verbal slip-up. It's a clip of this interview, which displayed her charming ability to focus while also illustrating quite well why some people made the connections about maintaining democracy, since she herself was the main propagator of that vision, whether real or imagined. It sure sounded good, though.

In a way this video slip-up reminds me of this one, since it could have easily been a brain fart rather than a fatal slip-up. As to the man she's referring to, Digital Journal explains further.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Assassination reaction

As many have said, this horrible act was unfortunately the most anticipated assassination in modern history. Bhutto will certainly go down as an heroic figure in Pakistani politics and it's likely this event will be a turning point to something, hopefully not something bad.

Bhutto was a friend to the west; she even appeared on a local radio talk show here in Memphis back in the summer talking with host Mike Fleming about going back to Pakistan. This is definitely a defeat for our side any way you look at it, illustrated by her own words in one of her last interviews:
Bhutto says she first heard the name Osama bin Laden in 1989, when he sent $10 million to the ISI, Pakistan’s infamous intelligence service, to help it overthrow her first government.
I'm not going to speculate wildly on this yet.

The presidential candidates have reacted, though. For what it's worth, here's my take on their take:

Giuliani: mentioned "bring them to justice" and "Islamic terrorists". Nothing surprising. If the situation worsens his numbers will go up, plain and simple.

Huckabee: mentioned "prayers" for the people and also "developments", ie, the situation is still developing. The prayers are fine, I concur, and the waiting is also fine. Presidents need not jump off the high dive before all the facts are known.

McCain: mentions "saddened" then lists all the times he's been there and that he'd now be meeting with the NSC, etc. Sorry, but he's coming across a little know-it-all-ish, as we'll see with a few of his Senate colleagues.

Obama: mentioned "saddened" as well along with deep regret and standing with the people for democracy. Fine. Obama hasn't been a Senator very long, and it shows.

Romney: characterized it as developing as well, which scores a point with me. He also took a jab at Ron Paul with "remain actively engaged across the globe".

Richardson: expressed sadness then made vast policy suggestions of forcing Musharraf out and stopping aid until they formed a more perfect democracy. Too hasty.

Clinton: sadness and support of democracy, which is good. Nothing extraordinarily bad, except perhaps too much information as she kept feeding statements to the press.

Dodd: Near the top of his statement, "as a member of the foreign relations committee". Next.

Biden: Decent statement, except this seems to be jumping the gun a bit, "this fall, I twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto," We don't know enough facts to make such determinations yet and this could well cause consternation abroad.

Thompson: short and to the point, bringing it back to a fight against extremism. Perhaps too short, though, as he expressed no regret (at least that USAToday published). People want to see an expression of regret or sadness. Just glad to see he didn't respond with a zinger.

Ron Paul: (still waiting for a statement).

MORE 12/27/07

You've probably read or heard what Paul said, which was no surprise. Edwards also claimed to have talked with Musharraf, which reeks just a tad of opportunism.

Paul and a few conservative pundits mocked the mention of the importance of democracy, suggesting we "pushed it" too fast with Bhutto's return. I disagree. Yes, it was unlikely Pakistan would soften up their internal turmoil before January but we simply must continue to underscore democracy whenever possible. That's our long-term goal. If realpolitik was our only tactic we'd be left with perpetually whacking moles.

But saying it and actually expecting it are different.

Musharraf has been playing a stalling game with us for years, which is why I believe Bush was not premature in pressing Bhutto's return. The game involves waiting us out in Afghanistan until we get tired, broke, or a new president arrives who wants to redeploy. There are more than a few running for office this time around. The NATO coalition is slowly fracturing--the Euros really have no stomach for it anyway--and the Taliban have moved past being the proverbial gnat on a dog's butt. The longer Musharraf holds us out of Wazirstan and the terror-tories, the greater chance we'll go away and he'll survive. But OUR national security demands we have the ability to put pressure on the Taliban's home base while making sure their ilk don't grab the nuke football. Time may be running out.

MORE 12/28/07

Individuals that I respect have taken the idea of Bhutto being a friend of the west and democracy to task, so allow me to add some context to the above. The mere fact that Bhutto was a strong woman and former leader of a Muslim country was a larger step forward out of the 7th century than we've seen so far in the 21st century. Some say it was perhaps an honor killing.

In that sense, whatever she was she wasn't a Wahabbist, and that's better than AQ Khan or a bin Laden surrogate running the country. Admittedly though it's a far cry from a legitimate democracy, so point well taken.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Liberal love for Ron Paul

No, not all liberals love him. The traditional, classical liberals know exactly who he is and what he stands for. But the shallow liberals--the ones who owe their liberalism to an opposition to the Iraq battle and a few social programs disfavored by Bush--seem to like him. Probably that "EVOL" has to do more with a Republican ripping on his own establishment, too, but maybe not all.

Writing in Huffpo, James Freedman noted Dr. Paul's black and whiteness, which goes like this:
"You could [unilaterally] change the foreign policy and bring troops home and save a lot of money. And you could start repealing executive orders that have been so onerous. And you could refuse to enforce laws that are put on the books through regulations and by court orders or executive orders."
Freedman is reporting from the trail and offers no definitive opinion on Paul's vision, but others have lauded his prime mission of ending the Iraq war.

Occasionally a reporter will dare challenge him with some "what-ifs", ie, what if Iran attacked Israel? He answered correctly in that it was a poorly worded what if. The real question is what if Iran THROUGH HIZBALLAH AND HAMAS, attacks Israel again? Or what if another big attack happens on America after Paul circles the wagons? Where will be lash out if proxy terrorists are blamed? What will be do if Iran chokes oil traffic through the straits of Hormuz or invades Iraq? These are the kinds of questions he's yet to give rational answers to in front of large crowds.

But that doesn't bother the libs. They'll be glad to let him win so long as he carries through on ending the Iraq war and making the Bush regime look bad, making themselves look good for opposing it. After that's said and done they'd have plenty of time to crucify his anti-children, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-tax, anti-gay marriage, anti-government intervention administration.

Yet another crisis

Worms. Story today on Drudge about the rise in cases of worms in humans in America according to a researcher George Washington University. Here's perhaps the seminal quote of the article:
Writing in the journal, Hotez said these parasitic infections had been ignored by most health experts in the United States.

"I feel strongly that this is such an important health issue and yet because it only affects the poor it has been ignored,"
Yet another indictment of the Pelosi-Reid Congress! But ignored is probably the seminal word in that quote. What Reuters doesn't explain is the probable reason for this rise, especially amongst the "35 million Hispanics" in the United States. How much is coming straight from Mexico without passing go at the border?

In the same vein, how much of the "fiscal emergency" soon to be declared in California by Governor Muscles is due to that same phenomenon? Notice Mr. Hotez mentioned the treatment of worm-related diseases at Los Angeles hospitals. Google this story and you'll find few if any mention of the public money spent on illegals.

Not much dialogue nationally, either. As we hurdle towards the primaries the chatter between Obama, Hillary, Huckabee, Romney has pretty much ignored this key issue. With Tancredo gone and Thompson struggling to even get a mention there's just not enough information trickling out to make any kind of informed decision on how these candidates would tackle the problem.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Side tracks

Christmas Eve version. Here's the King at Graceland, featuring some rare snow in Memphis.

You've probably never heard "Ding Dong Merrily on High" done this way:

And finally, Aly and AJ:

Happy Christmas to all...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Who was Abu Maysara?

When he was captured in the battle of Falluja Nov. 29, 2004 he gave his name as Muhammad Wasim Abdullah Halabi. In his possession was a forged Ministry of Defense ID. He was sent to Badush prison near Mosul.

Prior to his capture he was seen as a notorious propagator of propaganda for AQ in Iraq, issuing press releases through the internet that carried great weight amongst the faithful.

Now he's dead.

But other than his stage name Abu Maysara and the other nom de guerre given to his Falluja captors what do we know about him?

Well, we've been told he was Syrian. Whether that means he was a Ba'athist loyal to Assad or an al Qaeda sympathizer loyal to bin Laden isn't clear. Very little background is available via open sources but using what little is known perhaps a few educated guesses can be made, with caveats of course.

Most agree he was aligned with al-Zarqawi. After Z-man learned the horrible truth about the virgins in 2006, Maysara's name popped up in various scuttlebutt about the likely successor, which tuned out to be the Egyptian al-Masri. [quick context check--Z-man was a Jordanian, al-Masri from Egypt, and Maysara from Syria, all of whom had a hand in the Golden Mosque bombing. Yet the Iraq conflict is nothing but a 'civil war'. Ahem.]

Syria has long turned a blind eye to the import of foreign fighters across its border into Iraq to fuel the insurgency, everyone knows this. The question is whether that blind eye is actually sighted. Perhaps it's not imprudent to question Maysara's roots as well. If indeed it turned out he had an association with a state intelligence apparatus that would certainly turn the concept of al Qaeda on its ear, at least the Iraqi franchise.

There's another mystery to ponder. Between Maysara's capture in 2004 and his prison escape in March 2007 the Coalition undoubtedly knew he was behind bars in Mosul, yet they kept quiet while internet statements in his name continued to spew out. Remember that embarrassing letter where al-Zawahiri chastised al-Zarqawi? It occurred in October 2005. AQ's official explanation was that the "Black House" had fabricated the letter, a response signed by Maysara. Yet he was in prison.

Admittedly it's sometimes hard to keep track of all the deception. The news release from the Jihad website admitting his death was published through Omar al-Baghdadi, apparently an Islamic zombie, who claimed Maysara was an adviser to kingpin al-Masri. Both sides are playing the game.

But please don't mistake this post for a rant designed to suggest US complicity in jihadist propaganda. On the contrary, when one considers the possible involvement of the Baath goon squad leader Izzat al-Douri the overall picture becomes a bit clearer. Perhaps the important victory here wasn't the actual death of this terrorist, but rather the death of his "good" name.

Off the beaten track, the WaPo link above mentioned that Maysara used the "YouSendIt" internet technology to defeat file size limitations in mass broadcasting large files such as beheading videos. YouSendIt is a Silicon Valley company run by, ironically, a guy named Khalid Shaikh. By all indications Mr. Shaikh isn't a terrorist helper and this is but a mere coincidence, but recent history suggests it's not a sin to question such a coincidence. Surely the FBI already has.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Geniuses and preachers

Bill continues to lay it on thick and heavy with regards to wifey:
Clinton lauded his wife for her early work for the Children’s Defence Fund, her efforts to improve education in Arkansas when he was the state’s governor and her work in the US Senate, repeatedly and forcefully calling her an agent of change.’
Well, to be fair, as first lady in Arkansas, Hillary did chair a committee charged to improve Arkansas's dismal national performance. She apparently helped to shepherd through a raise in the state sales tax to pay for the reforms, meaning the very people that most needed the help were stuck paying for it. But let's not get ahead of ourselves in the genius department. Here is an excerpt from Mike Huckabee's 2003 State of the State address to Arkansas citizens whereupon he discussed education:
You probably have now understood what I have understood. Every legislative session, every decade, every governor, every General Assembly gathers just as we have, and they talk about their constitutional responsibility to provide the kind of education that our Constitution says we must provide. And minor changes are made. And people go home having congratulated themselves for minor adjustments to a system that for 100 years at least every single governor and legislator has said is broken.
In other words, still broken after the genius touched it. By the way, political junkies might recognize this as the underlying rationale for the revenue increases he waxed eloquently about (devilishly snipped by the Club for Growth).

But back to Hillary. What changes came about during her tenure as first lady? Other than firing the travel office staff, hiding the Rose Law Firm documents or cussing out subordinates or talking about the VRWC, nothing immediately jumps out. As to her career in the Senate, well, she did vote for the Iraq use of force resolution and was strongly in favor of dealing strongly with Saddam. Again, Bill said anything she touches turns out better, so maybe that's why the surge is working!

It might be prudent to ask whether Bill's training as an attorney and his penchant for parsing words didn't come into play here. By using the term 'an agent of change' did he specifically mean for good changes or bad changes, or just changes? It's really all about perception.

Speaking of which, let's return to Huckabee for a moment. One thing people really want from their government (and especially the president) is a sense of trust. Bush had it then lost it with Iraq (liberals can take it from here) but as for Huck, well, nothing says trust to the average God-fearing tax paying American than a man of the cloth.

Discounting the notorious Christian televangelic frauds the notion of being a true Christian is a powerful subliminal message of trust but at the same can be abused by shrewd businesspeople, especially down south and in the midwest. The "anything to get people in the door" paradigm does a great disservice to those who genuinely operate by the Golden Rule and teach it to their kids.

Not to imply that Huck is using a scheme, but it should be obvious why he's gained traction in the heartland. Here's another line from his State of the State that few would disagree with:
And no matter how much money we spend and what kind of teacher pay we set and what kind of buildings we build and how strenuous an academic curriculum we establish, nothing will replace the most important component of education, and that's still mom and dad.
Here, here, but words are fanciful things. In the end, all the voter has is a track record. Or if you like, on a broader scale consider the fact that despite the presence of the 20th century's best politician and his genius wife, and a former man of the cloth, it's still Arkansas.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas tag

Jon down in sunny Florida has tagged me with a Christmas meme thing. The repug fascist even included rigorous instructions as only a repug fascist would..
  • 1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  • 2. Share Christmas facts about yourself.
  • 3. Tag random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  • 4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Just kidding buddy. I know you lean Libertarian. OK, here we go..

1. Wrapping or gift bags?
Yes, I'll take both. Just hurry, time is running out.

2. Real or artificial tree?
Ha. Real. Always. Even if it means traipsing around a tree farm to cut one down, which now looks strangely similar to a decorated telephone pole.

3. When do you put up the tree?
December 1 or 2, whichever comes first.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Basically after it's become an emaciated hulk and all the needles have almost fallen off. Yes, I know, we've seen the fire safety video of the burning tree. We like to live on the edge here.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Yes. But it doesn't necessarily like me.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
A Lionel train set. Oh so white and nerdy.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Hey, I'm not a nativist-- but I do think people should enter the country legally.

8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Underwear. I mean, get real.

9. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
A little of both. And I do mean little.

10. Favorite Christmas movie?
Scrooge. Fitting, eh?

11. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Usually right after Thanksgiving. Then again about Dec 23 and 24.

12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Ham, scrambled eggs, home baked cookies and treats, Swiss Colony's Dobosh Torte. Mmm.

13. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Colored lights. Inside and outside.

14. Favorite Christmas song?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Transiberian Orchestra; Blue Christmas by that Porky Pig guy (I like the laughing) and Silver Bells sung by Merle Haggard; O Holy Night, and Carol of the Bells. So I had more than one, sue me!

Now I get to pick on people. Or they get to ignore me. Let's tag Marie at Mariestwocents; LASunsett at Poli-yy; Mick at; Mustang at Social Sense; Debbie at Right Truth (might balance out that "World Orgasm Day" post, he he) and Storm at Stormwarning. Ok, and Uncle, too.

Hark, the savior of America

In this time of year when Christians are celebrating the birth of a savior, Bill Clinton seems to have another savior in mind:
The three "very, very profound challenges" facing the country, Clinton said, were growing inequality between rich and poor, terrorism and other sectarian violence, and global warming. And only Hillary Clinton, he said, had the vision, the plans and the record of getting results to respond the right way. He urged his audience to vote for her for the sake of themselves and their children. "This is your life," he said. "This is about you."
Catch that reference to "the children"? What was old is new again! And good gravy, talk about fearmongering. Here we thought only the Republicans were capable of such things, what with their constant reminders of actual attacks like 9/11.

But let's see if we can speculate on Hillary's plans:

1. Growing inequality between rich and poor. That's code talk for income redistribution, aka tax increases on the rich. Who are the rich? Probably anyone who works.

2. Terrorism and other sectarian violence. And Hillary has the unique experience to fight these people? Well, after all, she did get a close-up view of the failed strategy of the 90s and has asked Sandy Berger to help out. So there ya go.

3. Global warming. This is really is a multi-faceted political gem. The term can mean anything from overbearing government restrictions to confiscatory taxes, government intrusion into private lives, the squelching of individual liberties (it's for the good of the planet, just like the Patriot Act was good for America), or a stepping stone to international internationalism.

Very enlightening. The crowd reaction was also interesting, at least from the one gentleman the WaPo interviewed who provided a hint as to why people might vote for Hillary:
Hillary Clinton was best prepared for it, he said, because "she's been around the halls of power, and I'm assuming she sat in a lot of [Bill Clinton's] meetings, and that there was a lot of pillow talk...She's been exposed to a lot of what Bill was, and she inherits his infrastructure."
Other than the obvious notion that his example represents a quasi unethical attempt to circumvent term limits, this is certainly code talk for "Bill will also be there". Wink, wink.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The circular blame game

Many are rightfully upset that a sitting US Congressman would make such a claim about US troops:
.."sure there's less violence but that's because we've ethnically cleansed Baghdad"
In other words, the leftist circular logic goes something like this--violence is down because we killed everyone. If the violence were not down, it would be because we hadn't killed everyone yet. And by the way, we started all the violence.

This dullard needs to be reminded about this man and proxy punks such as these.

But never mind, let's play this game ourselves. "Had we not invaded and started all the ethnic cleansing in Iraq the Iranians would have continued their nuclear weapons program unabated." Or maybe, "had Saddam not dabbled with the terrorists we wouldn't have started all the ethnic cleansing". But wait, that would still leave the Iranians and Libyans with nuke programs in 2003. Darn.

OK, "had the Golden Mosque never have been built Jim Moran would still be an idiot". There.

Tale of the tapes, part 3

The saga of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes continues to be an intriguing mystery. Well, perhaps not to some, whereupon Wednesday this story was just another article of impeachment for the Times until they got busted by Perino. Apparently those shades of gray the left always likes to discuss don't apply to conservatives for some reason.

There are other possibilities, of course. Does anyone in America think the CIA is not beyond doing something like this on their own? Government pensions are lucrative. But let's say the administration secretly did order the destruction of the tapes--NOT because they might have identified agents or provided massive jihadist propaganda, but because whatever the detainees said after they cracked was too sensitive for public consumption.

Here's what Gerald Posner said in 2003 about Zubaydah's gut-spill in his book "Why America Slept":
To the surprise of the CIA team watching the event unfold live on video, Zubaydah said that 9/11 changed nothing because both Prince Ahmed and Mir knew beforehand that an attack was scheduled for American soil that day. They just didn't know what it would be, nor did they want to know more than that. The information had been passed to them, said Zubaydah, because bin Laden knew they could not stop it without knowing the specifics, but later they would be hard-pressed to turn on him if he could disclose their foreknowledge.
One could say that since this information was relayed to Posner in 2003 it suggests it wasn't all that super-sensitive, which might shoot down the protection theory--unless the waterboarding process actually brought out the grimy details. Posner notes that all the high level contacts mentioned from both the Saudi and Pakistani governments died under mysterious circumstances within a year of the revelation. All coincidences, of course (dying of thirst happens all the time).

So my mind is open. I'm willing to believe Bush made the tapes go away because of their Abu Ghraib deluxe quality. Or that he was afraid of agents, and administration officials, being hauled off to the Hague one day for the ultimate in political gain. Or that rogues in the intel community were once again trying to get a Democrat elected. Or hell, that the tapes show exactly what the 'program' consists of, which is what Bush has been trying to protect all along. People always assume the worst.

Here's another fun possibility, consider it a plug for the value of deflection. Posner's book came out in late 2003, just as the Valerie Plame /Joe Wilson brouhaha was heating up. About the same time we were coming up empty on finding weapons in Iraq, a previous slam dunk according to Tenet. The CIA was on the hook for missing a massive attack then the main stated reason for removing Saddam, all while a blue ribbon commission was investigating their actions leading up to 9/11.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

And her name is Holiday Figure:

No mention of the gifts from Norman Hsu and the Chinatown dishwashers? Well, at least there was nothing under there about amnesty.

And universal Pre-K? Let's see, would that be mandatory pre-school for all chirldrun, at risk of losing one's national health care ID card, all to learn early about global climate change and the vast right wing conspiracy?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Huck threat

In short, handle Huckabee with care. Oppose him, if you wish, but do so in a way that preserves both his dignity and those of the people for whom he speaks so eloquently. Otherwise sooner or later they will find another home, and it will not be in the Republican Party.
So said Lee Harris, former Southern Baptist parishioner and now a contributor at Tech Central Station. Would Huck go there if pushed? He just might. The question is, would anyone follow?

Harris's idea that mainstream conservatives are being a little too hard on the Huckster has been floating around here and there, albeit without the indy threat. It's not a stretch to think he maintains more loyalty to the Lord than to the Grand Ole Party since we've already learned that he gave up the ministry and entered politics more to save souls than to lower taxes or cut the size of government. His record speaks of that.

Whether his current followers would follow him to a third (or should we say 'fourth party' since Ron Paul will surely run) is more of a wildcard, though. If the Huck surge is coming mostly off the carcasses of Fred and Rudy then maybe not. Perhaps those voters are simply looking for a genuine-sounding person they can get behind. Huck is good at giving that feeling. As Allah says, he's also apparently a master at surprising people as well. For proof just compare his effectiveness with the candidacy of another minister, Pat Robertson.

By the way, if Paul and Huckabee DO go independent shall we expect to hear a general hoorah from the left? After all, they're usually the ones leading the bash chorus about our broken two-party system even though none of their candidates are likely to venture that direction.

At any rate, Mr. Harris makes a good point about Huck-bashing. The level of intensity within the party is really quite fascinating and can only be explained by an uncomfortableness with God and especially the "J word". I share some of his roots (the Bible thing rang true) and can understand where he's coming from without calling him a fundie nutcake.

At the same time his suggestion that such anti-religious venom will lead to a mass mutiny sounds a little like his criticism of the secular Republicans for stereotyping evangelicals/Christians as sheep marching in flockstep to heir Dobson. Southern Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists can think for themselves, and good Lord willing they'll understand that splitting the party is likely to produce eight more years of the dreaded Clintoons.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Christmas, sucker

So much for the Christmas spirit:
His attendance here at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, with the news media in tow, was as much an observation of faith as it was a rejoinder to baseless e-mailed rumors that he is a Muslim and poses a threat to the security of the United States.
Obama (or it is Osama?) is having to defend himself against attacks on his name, his upbringin, his religion, while Drudge was busy posting a picture of Hillary reminiscent of Rod Stewart's old song "Maggie May", to wit:
the morning sun when it's in her face really shows her age...
Of course, Hil's supporters are likely to remind everyone of the very next line. But for crying out loud, they made her cry! Wait, wasn't that Mitt? Whatever, clearly they both now share something with Jesus.

Meanwhile, a news flash came across CNN asking whether Huckabee's son "hung a dog?". OMG, apparently that banjo playing character in Deliverance was based on Huck's son after all.

In the midst of all this swirling nonsense we have Ron Paul. Speaking of swirling, his supporters bought him a blimp and put his name on it, which floats around. Then every once in awhile they infuse lots more cash. Maybe they're stashing the cash in the blimp because it sure doesn't seem to be getting used effectively. Like in winning a primary. Maybe they're saving it for the independent run he vows not to make, at this point perhaps with John McCain, who made hay out of being endorsed by a liberal who ran against Bush in 2000.

And where is Fred? He seems content with supplying AP and debate show hosts with zingers and one-liners, pointing out the absurdity of everything while his staff actually puts out policy papers, which in part win him endorsements like the one he got today---to absolutely zero fanfare.

All of this is very close to the chaos going on in college football. Perhaps the sign of the end times. Or the end of the year, whichever comes first.

So long, Dan

Although he was best known for sappy rock there was no denying his musical talent. Dan Fogelberg had a habit of writing songs that carried memories well. Although my favorites were the upbeat songs off his collaboration with jazz flutist Tim Weisberg on "Twin Sons of Different Mothers", the two overplayed hits from "The Innocent Age" still manage to stir the right brain every so often even though the other songs on that album bring back a few memories of their own.

His passing is another wake up call for us menfolk, who generally prefer a stroll over hot coals rather than that dreaded back door exam. But as Dan said, it's a small price to pay, which was made painfully clear today. He was still a young man. To use his celebrity in an attempt to spare others from what he endured was the gesture of a friend, and a classy way to exit the stage. RIP, sir.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Challenged intelligence

The WaPo has a very interesting piece by a former CIA spook branch employee talking about the problems with human assets in the intelligence game. Recall that during the Clinton years our intelligence agencies began putting more emphasis on electronic means and less on the "HUMINT" side in an effort to clean up our clandestine act.

As an illustration Mr. Weisberg, our expert, decided to use the case of Naji Sabri, the CIA's star-studded mole leading up to the Iraq war (whom Tenet in part based his slam dunk comment):
If Sabri was being controlled by Iraqi intelligence as a double, the most likely goal of such an operation would have been to convince the U.S. government that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. This means that Sabri's "intelligence" would have been the same whether he was a double or not -- Iraq had no WMD. So the only way to figure out if it was real intelligence or disinformation would have been to determine with absolute certainty whether Sabri was a double.
Not to tell this man his business (such a phrase usually indicates the writer is about to do exactly that) but by most accounts Sabri didn't say Iraq had no WMDs. Instead, he mentioned stockpiles of chemical weapons and claimed Saddam wanted to reconstitute his nukes but downplayed the biggest fears of UN inspectors--the bio weapons. He also apparently told CIA that Saddam was an expert in fooling inspectors.

Therefore, based on Mr. Weisberg's logic it might seem that when Sabri told the CIA Iraq did have some proscribed weapons left it would have come across as highly convincing, since nobody expected Saddam to be intentionally bluffing about having WMDs with several American military divisions breathing down his neck. Weisberg continued:
In Sabri's case, his overriding concern probably would have been securing CIA protection in the event of a U.S. invasion. This could have led him to tell the entire truth about everything he knew. But it could just as easily have led him to tell us what he thought we wanted to hear.
So, he either lied or he didn't? Well, OK. More than a few noticed Sabri was not included in the 55 deck of cards after the invasion, quite odd considering his position in the regime. Today he lives in the open as a teacher in one of the Emirates, so for all the world it appears the US honored the deal.

Perhaps Sabri figured Bush was coming no matter what he said, so he talked of the 500 buried shells knowing that's what everyone wanted to hear, and knowing it would get him a better deal. He didn't go overboard, which made him appear more credible both before and after the invasion. But it's an erroneous conventional wisdom to say he told CIA there was nothing, one the WaPo apparently doesn't mind propagating as we move towards decision 08.

The ironic thing is Sabri could have also been telling CIA exactly what Saddam wanted them to hear since later debriefings suggested the Butcher wanted to maintain the WMD facade as long as he could, thinking Bush was bluffing. Perhaps then the question worth asking is whether CIA told Sabri we were coming to induce his cooperation, and whether Sabri then told Saddam, and if so why Saddam didn't believe us. The end was certainly filled with a lot of called bluffs, eh?

Hillary's slip

Everybody's talking about Hillary's the polls...but apparently everyone missed her real slip,

Hillary's Slip - Watch more free videos

Maybe that explains it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Side tracks

The late great Victor Borge..

The world according to Huck, and Mahmoud

Drudge is headlining Mike Huckabee's remarks about how arrogant the Bush foreign policy has been and how he'd make it kinder and gentler. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears in the latest edition of Newsweek to provide an enemy op-ed, whereupon he basically says the same thing about Bush's foreign policy.

Those with cream-of-wheat for brains might be tempted to believe the Iranian madman's regime is really full of peace-loving Persians who'd never think to harm a sand flea if not for George W. Bush. Reminding them of this, and this, and this (for starters) is pointless. For that reason, and because it's laughable propaganda, Mahmouds's words are not worth quoting.

No, the story here is not Newsweek's decision to let the leader of a country involved in funding terrorism and killing American troops smear BS all over it's pages, it's the odd parallel between his expressed worldview and that of candidate Huckabee. The "other man from Hope" might want to get out there and clarify himself a bit. If he doesn't, Fred surely will.


From the New York Times on December 14:
Investigators examining the bungled terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow six months ago believe the plotters had a link to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which would make the attacks the first that the group has been involved in outside of the Middle East, according to senior officials from three countries who have been briefed on the inquiry.
From the New York Times on December 7:
Documents retrieved during the raid indicated that Mr. Douri had been there recently, the police said. The documents detailed ties to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a predominantly Iraqi group that American intelligence says has foreign leadership.
From the Weekly Standard in 2005:
Yet these same observers forget that from 1993 onwards al-Douri headed up the Iraqi regime's al-Hamlah al-Imaniyyah (Return to Faith) campaign which loosened earlier restrictions on religion and substantially reduced earlier Islamist opposition to Saddam's rule. Also, as a regular speaker at Iraq's Popular Islamic conferences geared at ingratiating Saddam to radical Islamist groups, al-Douri could successfully present himself to Ansar al-Islam as an individual with solid Islamist credentials, whatever his Sufi leanings.
Izzat's latest brush with capture comes years after his reported death. He's a wily one. In his lair were found links to several AQ groups and attack plans despite his earlier proclamation that he'd changed sides. The attempt at deception is obvious. There's an inevitable question that follows the above, which readers may care to ponder on their own.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Living up to their potential

The Reid-Pelosi Congress is clearly the biggest joke to hit DC since the Jib Jab videos. They've essentially achieved nothing but failure and fluff, reflected nicely by their approval ratings.

Who can forget Pelosi traveling to Syria against the wishes of the State Department; or Reid proclaiming the Iraq war was lost; or members of the chamber roasting the very same General they'd unanimously approved as the commander in Iraq; or flapping wildly but failing to do anything about the war itself; or completely failing to pass the required government budgets that will perhaps soon lead to a government shutdown. Remember how the mainstream media treated Newt when he threatened to do the same in the 90s?

It's a shrill a minute with these folks. The other day Pelosi channeled Howard Dean and said Republicans "like this war". Today we learn that the House has passed a new bill funding intelligence agencies that might as well be called "the Terrorist Protection Act of 2007".

Not only did it ban most everything outside Geneva for handling those who'd just as soon destroy the very structure the law was passed within, but it also included a strange caveat--the intel services would be forbidden from spending 70 percent of their budget until Congress is briefed on what happened in that mysterious Israeli raid on the suspected Syrian nuke plant back in September.

Well now. Such a move could easily telegraph that the raid was actually something quite significant and perhaps negate whatever advantage we might have gained from it. Not surprising, since we know many in the port party secretly believe the real enemy is Bush, not the terrorists or rogue dictators (which the CIA created). Need any more evidence the Democrats are the "Mommy Party" on steroids?

Not to lay all blame at the feet of the Donkeys. Perhaps no event more illustrates the childishness of the entire body more than the House's failure to unanimously pass a symbolic resolution on the role Christianity and Christmas after earlier doing so for Ramadan and Hindu Diwali. Some apparently believe such trivialities matter to the man on the street. Dude, we already know that Jim McDermott wasn't even in favor of going into Afghanistan. But don't worry, Chuck Schumer knows what's important about Christmas--protecting us from harmful Christmas trees!

To top it off, while the government remains unfunded Harry Reid says he might pull his recess stunt again by having Jim Webb stroll past the Senate once or twice a week and opening and closing a mock session to keep Bush from making appointments the Congress won't. A Congress of one, in effect.

Essentially the level of productivity wouldn't be much different than current full sessions and yes, had the Republicans used that trick the level of outrage would have reached an all-time high. But in a way it serves as a fine testament to the state of the country at large.

More reporting and commentary:
Bryan at Hot Air
LA at Politcal Yen-Yang
Marie at Maries Two Cents
AJ at the Strata Sphere
Debbie at Right Truth

This time it counts

As if we needed any more evidence of America's slow rotation down the proverbial sewer pipe of greed. The Mitchell steroid report is sad for baseball, for America, and for American kids. Those who grew up in a generation where Gaylord Perry represented cheating didn't realize how good they had it.

The old saying "follow the money" surely applies here but it's also probably a dose of ego and selfishness to boot. Why quit and become a car salesman when there's a pharmaceutical alternative? It's the American way. Perhaps some might even equate their choices with those of illegal aliens who broke the law to come to America and do the jobs we won't do for the same money. Everything is relative.

Ah, but no worries for you old-schoolers worried about things like integrity, the very same circusmaster who allowed this show has promised to get tough on his rogue clowns now. No more naivete, this time it counts. This time things are going to change.

Uh, right. The best thing Selig could do would be to announce his immediate resignation as Commissioner immediately after appointing a real one.

PS, the leaked initial report from WNBC New York naming Albert Pujols and the late Darryl Kile as members of the steroid club was beyond obscene. Those names were then inadvertently dragged through the mud on a local Memphis station "Sports 56" this afternoon (and elsewhere) before the report was corrected. Sounds like a conspiracy, like maybe some low-life Big Apple payback for 2006. Cardinal Nation will never forget Yadier Molina!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From Max to Wax - warm this

Looks like Henry Waxman's supercalifragilistic investigation squad has been hard at work, creating more unmitigated BS from our taxpayer dollars:
"The Bush administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming," the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said.
They've got some ominous-sounding emails, but the star of the report, former National Hurricane Director Max Mayfield, was not even interviewed by the panel. When asked about it, Max told ABC News he was never pressured or muzzled by anyone in Washington. Hey, perhaps Waxman should be investigated by the Hurricane Center.

Had they bothered talking to Max they'd eventually run across researcher Chris Landsea, a noted hurricane specialist still employed at Mayfield's former shop (and who has the perfect name, too). Landsea has long been on record as opposing the Kerry Emanuel study that says global warming leads to Katrina-like storms while simultaneously not refuting global warming itself.

That lack of consensus didn't stop sites like or (or Nobel winner Al Gore) from saying it did. Sounds like fodder for another investigation.

The crux of this matter revolves around government message control. It's something that's been touched on here several times, mainly back when James Hansen was speaking BS to power. The government simply cannot be at odds with itself when speaking formally to the press and public. Private and even most academic scientists generally speak for themselves. Probabilities are high this whole thing came to a boil because the liberal scientific community just does not approve of the current decider.

One last thing. It's always entertaining to note how different newspapers cover the same story. Industrious readers may care to scan this McClatchy article on the report, which pretty much ignores most of what Mayfield said, which seemed kind of important. Can this post actually use the initials BS three times? Yes it can.

MORE 12/12/07

Another media scaremongering story exposed.

MAGMA.. 12/13/07

First there was the story about the mysterious reversal of the Arctic Ocean current that went counter to theory. Now we find that Magma might be causing some of the melting of Greenland. Well. If it's occurring there, might it also be occurring on the sea floor? Geez, and if the earth is actually roasting itself from the inside out that certainly sounds MUCH more worrisome than a man-made cause, all things considered.

Al Gore and his UN lackeys are pressuring the world to act before it's too late. It's an emergency, akin to the blinking red light on the terrorist threat system. Perhaps what they really mean is "act to elect a Democrat president now before we're shown to be frauds by real world events later".

This is all fun and games, of course. The real key is our understanding--or lack thereof. We don't yet know enough about the global system and causes of planetary warming to know whether we can actually do anything about it. Certainly not enough to warrant jumping into a world-changing treaty under pressure from a politician.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tale of the tapes, part 2

Both Instapundit and Hot Air are suggesting that Ted Kennedy owes someone an apology for his comments about the CIA interrogation tapes that were destroyed. But just one minute, says Just One Minute:
DoJ lawyers involved in the Moussai trial told a judge they had watched videotape of CIA interogations in 2007.
Follow the links at that site for a DoJ letter to Zacarias Moussaoui judge Brinkema explaining that the tapes THEY are talking about, destroyed in 2007, would not have changed the verdict. Just how many tapes are there?

The letter redacts which terror suspects those tapes contained, which might be crucial. In searching around on the tubes to ascertain the direction Moussaoui's lawyers pointed their discovery, we find this comment just a few days ago (emphasis added):
Gerald Zerkin, one of Moussaoui's lawyers in the penalty phase of his trial, recalled some of the defense efforts to obtain testimony from video or audio tapes of the interrogations of top al-Qaida detainees. "Obviously the important witnesses included Zubaydah, Binalshibh and KSM (Khalid Sheikh Mohammed)... those are the guys at the head of the witness list," Zerkin said. He could not recall specifically which tapes he requested or the phrasing of his discovery requests, which he said were probably still classified.
So many foggy memories out there! Whoever it was, the public ended up with a substitution for testimony, which at the time was the first we'd heard from any of them about anything. Maybe it should have been called substitution for tapes soon to be destroyed. Bottom line, there still appears to be a tape problem.

Bottom bottom line--all of this must be balanced within the context of Debra Burlingame's testimony, because much of the legal wrangling we're seeing could be in response to a concerted effort by the enemy to subvert the courts against us. Remember Moussaoui's famous quote: "it's permitted to lie for jihad".

MORE 12/12/07

Moussaoui unvarnished. Context is everything.

ONE MORE 12/12/07

The buzz from the destroyed tapes continues, as evidenced by this report, which features a lawyer for one of the combatants. But as the Moussaoui testimony above alludes, these detainees are at war with the US. Aside from the bizarro notion of such people even having attorneys at all, the demand for discovery of things such as interrogation tapes that undoubtedly contain sensitive national security information (harmful if leaked) is the very reason Bush did not want enemy combantants brought into the US courts system.

It's been a long time since 9/11, and people have forgotten why those Congresspeople once asked CIA if they were doing enough.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Politics and religion 08

Religion is always a part of any presidential contest and for good reason--America has a long tradition of being a moral nation. Our own Declaration declares this fact, along with numerous state constitutions, even California's. And although we've heard a lot about how we're collectively losing our religion or there's too much church in state, if the current race is any indication more than a few candidates missed the memo.

First, Mitt Romney gave a highly publicized speech defending his faith, which was evidently some kind of attempt to distance himself from his faith, or perhaps the sins of its past. Yes, all religions have sins but Mormonism hasn't been around very long in comparison so its sins are somewhat fresher on some people's minds.

Concurrent to the Romney speech we saw the rise of Huck, a former Baptist preacher who we've lately discovered got into politics to save souls. I'm all for saving souls but America is not a large Christian mega-church. Electing someone solely because they have an underlying goal of conversion sounds every bit as shaky as electing a fundamentalist Jihadi bent on conversion, without the sword or IED, of course.

Don't misunderstand, I like Huck. I think he's a good man taking an incredible amount of flak for being a true Southern Baptist. But this isn't a race for president of the Southern Baptist Convention. As many have pointed out, he's fallen short on being a true conservative so far.

Finally, from the few snippets coming out of the GOP Latino debate last night it appears that Huck and Mitt are not the only candidates unafraid to make reference to deeply held beliefs, such as the Catholic roots of our new majority minority.

Let's not forget the Democrats, though. Hillary's attempts to pander have been laughingly transparent so far, but nobody buys it anyway--we've seen her before. Meanwhile, some conservatives have chidingly called Obama "the messiah", a moniker perhaps more scarily accurate than assumed:
"I give all praise and honor to God," Obama began. "Look at the day the Lord has made."

Obama's wife, Michelle, opened the rally with a description of her husband that could, at moments, have been a description of Jesus Christ.
Notice he said God, not Allah. Perhaps that's the underlying reason Oprah has signed on, to reassure the masses of that distinction:
"It's amazing grace that brought me here," she began, adding that she was "stepping out of my pew" - television – to engage in politics.

It isn't enough to tell the truth, Winfrey said. "We need politicians who know how to be the truth."
Well OK, but sometimes we can't handle the brutal truth. But one has to wonder whether Oprah and the Obama backers, being so deep into telling the truth and servant leadership, would consider voting for Huckabee if he were the Republican nominee, rather than Hillary?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

For the record

I realize this post will contribute nothing new to the debate, just consider it a clearinghouse of my thoughts on the matter....

After a blizzard of stories that have turned the White House into a kind of "waterboardingworld" we now have learned that all along Miss Nancy and other Democrats knew all about (or at had been briefed on) the enhanced interrogations back in 2002:
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
This should come as no surprise. Bush had told the press repeatedly that Congress was briefed at the time and most of those involved knew Clinton was using rendition during the 90s.

But Instapundit went further, pulling up this golden oldie set to the tune of Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"...

And let's not forget this gem from the vault, or this one.

Funny, after the attack certain politicians had no fear of entering churches where prayers were being said for America, or even singling on the steps of the Capitol. Or even cheerleading the very same CIA debriefers they are now demonizing.

Trying to paint one set of politicians as morally superior to another is always risky and is not the point of this post. This is not to say the Iraq war wasn't mishandled or that torture is justified. The point is a simple reminder of the level to which some will stoop to remain or regain power. Those same individuals very much want to remain or regain power next year.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Side tracks

Here's a track from Neil Young.

Neil's still around, singing about impeaching the president and such but Jim's been a long time gone...

Finally, a holiday classic. Nat King Cole was a favorite of my parents.

Looking back, seems like Cole was under appreciated as a vocal talent in the grand scheme of musical things. Anyway, it's not easy to get in the spirit of the season these days what with wars, political upheaval, mall shootings and the war on Christmas, but it's worth a try. Cheers...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tale of the tapes

Step right up and get your scandal, folks. Today's version involves tapes the CIA made of AQ terrorists in 2002 then subsequently destroyed.

CIA Director Hayden is clearly executing a pre-emptive strike on the forces within the US intelligence establishment with a beef against Bush. Said the former general:
"we may see misinterpretations of the facts in the days ahead." The New York Times said on its Web site that it had informed the CIA on Wednesday night that it was preparing a story about the destroyed tapes.
This sounds like a hard story to defend, for a variety of reasons. It certainly appears plausible the CIA destroyed the tapes to cover their tracks regarding harsh interrogation tactics and keep agents (and higher-ups) out of jail. Does anyone really believe the CIA doesn't have secure enough containment facilities at Langley to safely house such material? Hard to buy.

Another puzzling aspect about the tapes is the disclosure of only one suspect, Abu Zubaydah. Other than KSM, who else was harshly interrogated? We've heard only three, but who knows. Seems they might have admitted to KSM but perhaps it would adversely affected the Moussaoui case. Surely all of this will produce tingles in the truthers thinking about what these high value targets might have told the CIA.

For a fun game of context, let's go to George Tenet. He mentions Zubaydah in his memoirs, beginning on page 146 and continuing on page 243 with this odd passage about his "diary":
"Why wouldn't we devote the resources to convert the book to English?" he (Wolfowitz) demanded. "We know enough about the diary," the briefer explained, "to know that it simply contains a young man's thoughts about life--and especially about what he wanted to do with women." "Well, what have you learned from that?" Wolfowitz asked. Without missing a beat, the briefer responded, "that men are pigs!"
Maybe the CIA was just trying to be sensitive to the feelings of Muslim women or not embarrass the terrorist. Actually, reports were that Zubaydah had multiple personalities and was essentially crazy. Others disagreed strongly, especially Tenet, who mentions that Ressam the millennium bomber told them before 9/11 that Abu was going to attack America, which was supposedly briefed to Rice in summer 2001.

Of course, Ressam's name brings to mind Sandy Berger and whatever it was he was trying to redact from the National Archives. Recall it was something to do with the Millennium After Action Report. Many possibilities, in other words.

But what about the unnamed guy? In late 2001 the military captured Ibn Shiekh al-Libi in Afghanistan and sent him to be interrogated. Tenet mentions him on page 353:
In the course of questioning while he was in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, al-Libi made initial references to possible al-Qa'ida training in Iraq
Which was used as a casus belli, only later to have him recant after the invasion. Quotes Tenet about this event:
Inside CIA there was sharp division on his recantation. It led is to recall his reporting, and here is where mystery begins
The mystery is whether he was telling the truth before or after. Might the tape have solved the mystery? Tenet also mentions "a senior al-Qa'ida detainee" who told them in 2002 that:
..several of bin Ladin's lieutenants had urged cooperation with Iraq, believing that the benefits of possible training, safe haven, and help with al-Qa'ida's WMD efforts outweighed any risks to al-Qa'ida's independence. According to the detainee, Saddam became more interested in al-Qa'ida after the East Africa and Cole bombings.
Tenet did not name this man. Perhaps the tape might have cleared up the relationship between the Saddam and AQ a little more? Hard to believe something of that nature wouldn't have been leaked earlier, though. Occam's Razor would suggest they're just covering up for their agents who used waterboarding but there's always the possibility of more. Maybe Mike Scheuer knows.

The ironic thing here might be the impact on the Plame case. We're asked to believe Valerie, even when she lied to Congress. And we're asked to implicitly believe them when they explained aerodynamics and physics to us as well.

MORE 12/8/07

Here's another angle. Liberals, it's OK to consider it a kool-aid drinking defense of Bushitler's warmongering propaganda if you like, but as you're always telling us, keep an open mind.

Anytime Zubaydah is mentioned it usually leads to talk of KSM, Hambali and Atef, which leads to Yazid Sufaat. Presuming there's more on the tapes than waterboarding, like some kind of confession, could the tapes have anything to do with this theory? Let me urge you to read as much as you can keeping in mind the brouhaha over the military getting forced to take anthrax vaccine in the late 90s. And this. Or this. Debbie at Right Truth covered a companion story last year and noted a plea from the author:
"Whatever your political persuasion, and whatever disagreements about individual issues relating to due process and civil liberties, the FBI and CIA deserve our support. We are, after all, in this together."
But we're really not, are we?

MORE 12/8/07

The Times has a follow-up this morning, surprisingly devoid of any fingers pointing anywhere other than at the retired chief of the CIA's Clandestine Division, Jose Rodriquez. According to the intelligence officials they used for this story Rodriquez basically told nobody important, not even his boss Porter Goss. The story also inferred that the tapes were kept not in the vault at Langley, but in CIA stations abroad, which sounds nutwagon crazy to this outsider.

Many might wonder how the president couldn't have known about such a thing--add me to the list--but let's remember he didn't know about Joe Wilson's trip, either. This brings in question why they made the tapes to begin with. The CIA was never happy about being charged with interrogating these terrorists and the inherent liability, so is it possible this was some kind of insurance policy against future blowback? One could say the Joe Wilson trip served as one for the Iraqi WMDs.

The Times also supplied the name of the other terrorist, which basically negates the previous speculation (well, this is a blog). So, what do we know about Nashiri? His wiki states:
Abd al-Rahim attributed his confessions of involvement in the USS Cole bombing to torture.[7] All the details Abd al-Rahim offered of his claims of torture were redacted from his transcript
But this guy was deserving of the attention paid. During the late 90s he was part of a plan to smuggle missiles into Saudi Arabia and came to the attention of Tenet:
CIA director George Tenet becomes so concerned they are withholding information about the plot from the US that he flies to Saudi Arabia to meet Interior Minister Prince Nayef. Tenet is concerned because he believes that the four antitank missiles smuggled in from Yemen by al-Nashiri, head of al-Qaeda operations in the Arabian peninsula, may be intended for an assassination attempt on Vice President Albert Gore, who is to visit Saudi Arabia shortly.
Wonder if the tapes refer to any of that? Nashiri was also one of the attendees at the infamous Kuala Lumpur terrorist meeting in 2000, so he would have had knowledge of the terrorists mentioned previously, especially Sufaat and his "expertise".

Of course, none of the above really helps solve the question of whether America can reach a consensus on how best to interrogate extreme terrorists wrapped in a religious cause and unafraid to die.

MORE 12/9/07

The comments section at JOM is quite interesting, especially in reference to Gerald Posner's mention of Zubaydah in his book. Here's an excerpt:
American interrogators used painkillers to induce Zubaydah to talk -- they gave him the meds when he cooperated, and withdrew them when he was quiet. They also utilized a thiopental sodium drip (a so-called truth serum). Several hours after he first fingered Prince Ahmed, his captors challenged the information, and said that since he had disparaged the Saudi royal family, he would be executed. It was at that point that some of the secrets of 9/11 came pouring out. In a short monologue, that one investigator told me was the "Rosetta Stone" of 9/11, Zubaydah laid out details of how he and the al Qaeda hierarchy had been supported at high levels inside the Saudi and Pakistan governments.
My early speculation was that the tapes contained something more sensitive than just waterboarding--this would suggest an even deeper ditch. Then again, if AQ's goal was to topple the governments of the Gulf then fingering them in the attack was probably part of the plan. In other words, highly nuanced. Perhaps if the 9/11 Commission suddenly loses their outrage it might be a clue, since their whole premise was built around AQ being stocked with rootless, non-state actors.