Friday, February 29, 2008

Compare and contrast

MORE 2/29/08

The anti-Obama hailstorm coming from both the right and Clinton left is getting a few body hits on the Senator in quick fashion. While it's a long way til November it's not quite as long until the convention. If Hillary can stay viable through the remaining primaries while stories continue to trickle out about Obama they'll be poised to enter the convention with Barack past his peak and Clinton nearing her second.

Such a scenario might tend to make Hillary look like the bright, clean and articulate candidate, an old reliable and trusted stalwart to match the crusty McCain. Maybe they'll even fashion a new slogan, something like "not hope--help".

Depending on how many negative stories they can find on Barack going forward it could easily be one of the great momentum shifters ever witnessed at the convention, especially if she agrees to put him on the dream ticket (and he accepts for the good of the party). This is something the Repubs couldn't match in their wildest dreams, unless one considers a last minute Huckabee delegate coup a wild dream. Not only that, but all the heavy ordnance recently leveled at the presumed (but incorrect) nominee would be for naught with Hillary shrewdly slipping past 3 months without the slightest whiff of a negative story. The right would have to reload at a late date.

The MSM might be disappointed but certainly wouldn't be able to resist the 'comeback of the century' story while simultaneously turning on McCain. And despite her flip-flops, Hillary would be able to reclaim the Iraq issue (either way) especially if the surge was still working. Her social policies aren't much different than Obama's anyway, so the party faithful would not lose much. Additionally, as VP Obama would be in position to run for president in either 2012 or 2016, when he's a spry 50 or 54 years old. So as Yogi says, it ain't over til it's over or Bill's left the cafeteria. Long shot, yes. Just idle thought on a Friday afternoon....

Thursday, February 28, 2008

An enemy of my ememy is my friend

So, while Prince Harry busies himself mowing down Talibanis, George Galloway doesn't think Britain has any enemies in Afghanistan?
“I don’t know about you, but I have no enemies in Afghanistan.”
Guess he's calling the Prince a murderer, eh?

This is no surprise based on Galloway's past (reference the picture above of him meeting with Uday Hussein). But it does focus the Afghanistan theater, a place Barack Obama says we need to concentrate more efforts on at the expense of Iraq.

This seems to bring up a few questions. How will Obama handle hotheads like Galloway who'll be trying to influence British policy on Afghanistan, emboldened by a US withdrawal from Iraq? How will Galloway's rhetoric go over here in a frenzy of withdrawal?

Galloway's a nutter but he says things others sometimes think but are afraid to say. With a president elected despite openly admitting the United States was partially complicit for Muslim anger via our operation in Iraq--the same thing Usama has been saying since day one--can the tide towards a full withdrawal from all fronts be stopped? Does Obama have the requisite resolve to say "yes we can win"?


Since we're on this enemy of my enemy is my friend, read the following and ask yourself why Obama would not have vehemently disabused any relationship with Louis Farrakhan, and immediately cancel his membership to any church that would celebrate the man:
Before Farrakhan left Iran for Syria in 1996, a Tehran newspaper quoted him saying: “God will destroy America by the hands of the Muslims. … God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.”

In Baghdad, Farrakhan met with Saddam Hussein and expressed his hope that the U.S. would “halt its mass murder of Iraqis” -- a reference to the economic hardships caused by the post-Gulf War sanctions imposed on Iraq.

In February 1998, Farrakhan sent a cordial and supportive letter to Saddam: “Your Excellency, we who have grown up in Islam inside of America understand that the West wants to destroy you, sir, in order to make an example out of your destruction to all strong Muslim leaders. You are a visionary, and they want to destroy your vision! If they are able to bring you down, that will serve as a warning to Brother [Qadhafi] in Libya; to Brothers Hassan Turabi and [President] Omar Bashir in the Sudan; it will mean a setback for the goal of unity [among Muslims].”

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Farrakhan stated that America had insufficient proof of Osama bin Laden's and al-Qaeda's culpability. "They [American government officials] have lied before," he said, "and there's no guarantee they're not lying now."
Interesting that Farrakhan thought Saddam was in league with a man like Hassan Turabi, who was a friend of Usama bin Laden and one credited with trying to organize the disparate Arab/Muslim nations to fight the west.


Uncle Pavian raises the lid and peeps into the liberal fishbowl regards how the mainstream left figures to handle the messy William Ayers connection to Barack Obama:
This is a mystery only if you think that the Democrats don't live in some weird, alternate universe where Al Gore won the 2000 Presidential election, where health care should be turned over to the same people who run the DMV and the Postal Service, and that it's okay for people who have run nothing more than a campaign for the United States Senate to be in charge of the country.
Indeed, isn't it amazing that terrorists who once declared war on America are now teaching our kids in these fine universities? Have they renounced or does the dream live on in the form of a hopeful future?


Obama, during his spar with McCain over Iraq yesterday, called Russert's debate question about chasing AQ in Iraq "a hypothetical". He said it in a disdainful manner, as if it was absurd question.

Here's the question.

Here's the reply.

A quick aside--note the change in tone while speaking. During the debates he uses a very controlled voice yet when in front of the faithful switches to a more sing-songy preacher-like tone. Different venues, but it clearly shows his strength.

But let's investigate his proposals, as far as we can surmise. First of all, we have more than one enemy in the terrorist world. He keeps talking about al Qaeda, but Hizballah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and others have dim views of our future. The GWoT is not specific to one organization. We've been variously attacked by all.

On Iraq his rationale seems to be that our departure would vaporize al Qaeda in Iraq because our arrival created them to begin with. Sounds like a hypothetical itself. It also seems to imply that we'd be handing the country over to the violent insurgents whose goals and tactics are exactly like the cave-dwelling franchise of AQ he wants to eradicate, while admitting that America was responsible for their murderous actions to begin with. Now this might play well politically--everything can be blamed on Bush--but it doesn't do a damned thing for the country.

He says he'll continue to attack AQ elements with a small surviving force, located somewhere, but that might be difficult when the enemy doesn't wear uniforms and we no longer have neighborhood intelligence. Some observers have even predicted that a complete US abandonment would immediately be heralded as a huge win for terrorists and rogue state dictators worldwide, certainly affecting our abilities to maintain permanent basing rights from which to launch quick strikes. Even Bush says we're not asking for bases in Iraq.

It's probably also a silly hypothetical to suggest that unilateral strikes into territory we've already left--to engage the enemy that was already there--would constitute cowboy diplomacy. When the Marine barracks were attacked in Beirut in 1983 by Imad Mughdiyah's Hizballah forces president Reagan mulled over whether to send quick strike forces back in after he'd removed all our troops, but decided not to. They called Reagan a cowboy anyway. Barack is saying he'd do the opposite. How will this repair the torn image of America Barack has said he'll repair?

He says he'll divert Iraqi troops into Afghanistan. Would our increase cause NATO forces, some already ancy to leave, to draw down or back up requiring more forces? Besides, everyone knows high troop levels there don't guarantee success--just ask the Russians--and they certainly won't allow us to catch terrorists in Pakistan or Iran, including bin Laden or Zawahiri. What happens if we get bogged down in Afghanistan--something predicted (and probably hoped for) by the MSM back in 2001--and the enemy regroups in Iraq, Sudan or Somalia?

We know that's the goal of Iran, some in Pakistan, and perhaps even Russia and China. They'll be scrutinizing the Iraq model with an eye on repeating its success in Afghanistan with a goal of collapsing our entire war effort and leaving us vulnerable to attack at any time, which would strengthen their respective positions. If we lose there and Iraq re-ignites, game over. Then what?

So yes, there are a lot of hypotheticals. Stakes are high. Republicans should be focusing on this side of Obama not his name. But not just the GOP, the country at large should want to know more. The outcome affects everyone. As a candidate for president Obama has a special responsibility to answer all these hypotheticals to the best of his ability and make us feel comfortable with his decisions. The past is for politics, the future is for leadership--and we know Obama is for the future.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Barack's defense plan

Most have probably seen this by now, but here it is:


1. He says he's been against "this war" from the beginning. Which one, the GWoT or taking out a dictator in Iraq? A president must be more specific than a garden variety liberal poster on a message board. If he's going to end the GWoT we certainly need to know the plan. If it's just our presence in Iraq, he needs to go over the mitigations he might take should things go wrong later.

2. "I will not weaponize space". Great to hear, but what if China and Russia do?

3. "I will slow our development of future combat systems". Sounds like a real winner there. Does he have any advisers?

4. "[will push for] a global ban on the production of fissile material". More information needed. Exactly how does he plan to stop Iran from pursuing enrichment with Israel not planning any large-scale cutbacks?

5. "...and deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals" We could lose a few nukes as a good-will gesture and still be able to defend ourselves, but somehow his "deep cuts" sounds a little more deeper than good will. How deep is deep?

Pandering to the base, you say? OK, but remember Barack is a new politician who inspires the youth by telling the truth and promoting hope, so we must assume his word here is golden. The openings he's providing for McCain are big enough to drive an entire fleet of straight talk buses through.

AS TO IRAQ 2/27/08

As to Obama's retort to McCain's charge of ignorance over the goings-on in Mesopotamia:
"I said, 'Well first of all, I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq. That's why I've said we should continue to strike al Qaeda targets. But I have some news for John McCain, and that is that there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq."
This is a prime example of what happens when one lives too much off rhetoric alone--eventually it ties reality in knots. In the video above he says he'll end the war fast. He doesn't stipulate AQ targets, just says he'll end it. Now he seems to be saying he'll reserve the right to go after AQ there, but apparently after all the supporting troops are removed. That would leave a similar situation to the one in Pakistan, which would require waging unilateral attacks. All this while making the world love us again by not acting like a cowboy?

As to the boilerplate about Bush (and McCain) bringing AQ to Iraq by invading, first off it remains one of the grossest distortions of history ever made because it suggests that Hussein was harmless. The Butcher might not have been pulling the strings of bin Laden but he was probably the most terror-friendly dictator around at the time. But are we going to see the same old tired debate that's been roiling through the message boards for five years hoisted up on the presidential platform? And if so, how will this represent bringing people together?

Of church and state

This is interesting:
The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Barack Obama gave to its national meeting last year after he became a candidate for president.
Even more interesting in light of the Obama-Russert dustup in the debates regarding Barack's failure to denounce his church's support for Louis Farrakhan after denouncing Farrakhan's endorsement. But as Debbie says, this stuff has been going on a long time. To wit, from 2004 at a Kerry church appearance:

It's a strong part of the fabric of Mid-South politics, by the way. But it's not just on the left or in the black churches. The pastor of a California church is being investigated by the IRS for personally endorsing Mike Huckabee. Hey, maybe that's why Huck is in favor to the Fair Tax!

I have no problem with bringing candidates into a church to speak as long as there's some balance. However, it's frankly downright insulting for a pastor to make a choice for the congregation and expect his entire flock to march in lockstep, even if done in a surreptitious manner. For a church to remain neutral there's only one endorsement that can be made--and it doesn't include any mortals.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Climate swingers

Like other bloggers, I've been hammering Obama a lot lately--not because he's a terrible person but because he's a few teary-eyed speeches and a raised hand away from being the next leader of the free world. It's not clear whether the paid media will come out of their trance and give us any background or critical reporting. But there's one issue where, if voters could take a sort of eye test regards all three major candidates and their vision on man-made "climate change", the only letters visible would be three K's. For Kyoto.

Even the candidates with no chance like Nader and Huckabee, or almost candidates like Michael Bloomberg, are pretty much in agreement. On Monday Michelle Malkin tarred and feathered the mayor for his global carbon tax plan but in the process she reminded us of a Senate hearing on climate chaired by John McCain in 2004 that according to one participant, exhibited more bias than anything seen during the Clinton years.

According to lore McCain changed his straight talk spots in 2000 when a guy dressed in a penguin suit dogged him about the issue at campaign stops. Forget the fact that sea ice around Antarctica has recently grown (without McCain's help) the mere fact he changed suggests an ends-justify-means pandering ability of of high refinement. Or perhaps mere hubris.

I really wish my father could have lived long enough to see decision 08, where politicians are not content with the standard promise of ending poverty, injustice, disease and war, but have the stones (metaphorically) to actually promise to change the Earth's climate. That's one step beneath promising the moon, isnt' it? Jaw-dropping, at least it should be. But some think we possess the ability.

Two perfect examples of why this sort of grandiose arrogance is off the charts appeared in Monday's news. Both were summarized in a story by the Canadian National Post, one new research revealing how changes in wind circulations have more of an effect on Arctic melting than man alone, and another documenting the increase in both ice depth in the Arctic and snow cover across North America (much more here). Neither prove global cooling anymore than a heat wave or two proves warming. But they do suggest we're nowhere near a "climate emergency".

The correlation between low sun activity and large-scale wind forcing is nothing new. As mentioned here a few weeks ago, many climatologists as recently as the late 70s were predicting an ice age, not global warming. In other words, nobody really knows for sure, certainly not enough to justify handing the keys to the kingdom to pandering posturers poised to point America into risky global economic policies and large scale tax increases.

But it does seem the matter is settled politically. Regardless of who the final candidates are we'll have two populists not debating man's impact, but on which one can affect the most change the soonest with all sorts of horrible mitigations. Depressing, really, and perhaps deserving of its own slogan. I'm thinking, "drips for change", but that might be a tad harsh.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yes we can blame America first!

Barack Obama, commenting on the world after George Bush:
When George Bush steps down, the entire world is going to breathe a sigh of relief. And we will have an opportunity to go before the world and say, we want to work with you.. and we want to bring an end to malaria and HIV/AIDs in Sub-Saharan Africa.."
Wonder if that list also includes Zawahiri, Nasrallah, Kim Jong Ding Dong, and Ahmadinerjad? And whoops, guess he missed the memo on what we've already done in Sub-Saharan Africa (or maybe he doesn't hang with Bono).

His pal Louis Farrakhan seemed to echo this "he are the world" sentiment Sunday, commenting on life with Obama:
..Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that presidential candidate Barack Obama is the "hope of the entire world" that the U.S. will change for the better.
It's a regular blame-America-first contest! But there are so many questions. Like, when it comes down to brass tacks will the mainstream American electorate really sign on to an "our fault" candidate? Will McCain, who is no doubt studying Hillary's every move right now, leverage this when the time comes? Can Obama reverse this image and how will the press be involved?

Maybe the last one is already answered. Why wouldn't the endorsement from a noted racist nutcake...of anybody...not be something that mainstream reporters would gobble up faster than free brownies and bourbon at happy hour? It's obvious, but this helps to explain it a little better.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

John Ford justice

Former Tennessee state senator John Ford, uncle of US Senate candidate and former Fox News contributor Harold Ford, Jr, is still not in prison.

He was sentenced on August 27, 2007 to 5 1/2 years in prison for his role in the Tennessee Waltz sting operation, and faces other charges in Nashville. He received a postponement on November 27th, 2007, keeping him out of the pokey until his wife serves a full one year term for drunk driving after being released from the same jail in September 2007 for the same charge.

There are certainly mitigating circumstances involving Ford's children but most people sentenced to prison have mitigating circumstances. Besides, listen to Mrs Ford herself on the issue:
She says she's greatful the children will be with their father for the holidays, but she says it's convenient for him now to want to be with them.

"I think I have the right to be out also to try and raise my children. I always have," said Mitchell Ford.
Recently Barack Obama visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church and talked about injustice, eloquently saying the following:
We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others
The question is, did Ford get "Scooter Libby Justice" or "Jena justice"?

MORE 2/23/08

One might ask the same question about Congressman Jefferson. Obama would probably answer by insisting the issue isn't necessarily about race but about class, yet using his chosen examples in a black church doesn't really help to make the distinction.

MORE 2/29/08


Friday, February 22, 2008

It's a 9/10 world

Sung to the tune of "Five O'Clock World"..

Today AG Mukasey, one of the leading figures on terror's front lines in the 90s, was among the pleaders on Capitol Hill today to remind the increasingly-jaded and war-weary population that we still face threats and still need to remain vigilant:
U.S. spy agencies have missed intelligence in the days since terrorism surveillance legislation expired, officials told Congress on Friday, but a top Democrat accused the administration of "fear mongering."
Someone famous once said, those who are willing to forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Maybe it was former CIA analyst Larry Johnson? Anyway, to that end we have Senator Harry Reid:
"No amount of fear mongering will change the fact that our intelligence collection capabilities have not been weakened since last week," Reid said.
Not so long ago many top members of both parties found the program to be necessary. But as the number of terror-free days continues to click off and with an election approaching, the concern has vanished. Some are now heralding guys like Harry Reid as the truest of patriots, standing tall against the fear-mongering fascists whose only goals are more perks for their telecom golfing buddies and expanded ability to eavesdrop on Grandma's calls to the old country.

Fine, perhaps all patriotic Americans should come to an understanding right here and now. If the plan is to forego security for liberty whenever the two meet, regardless of the consequences, then let nobody from here out blame the government. Let no money be wasted on Commissions to investigate the aftermath. In the fight against security, the sons of liberty should know no whining.

MORE 2/23/08

It's one thing for sanctimonious politicians to hypocritically use terror bills to position themselves for reelection but perhaps the most irritating aspect is the groundswell of left-wingers who believe Bush's enhanced snooping represents evil incarnate. One only has to revisit the CALEA law passed in the Democratic Congress in 1994, which evoked this opinion from a self-avowed "privacy nazi" (and no friend of Bushco):
The domestic electronic surveillance ball really got rolling under the Clinton administration, with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). CALEA mandated that the telcos aid wiretapping by installing remote wiretap ports onto their digital switches so that the switch traffic would be available for snooping by law enforcement. After CALEA passed, the FBI no longer had to go on-site with wiretapping equipment in order to tap a line—they could monitor and digitally process voice communications from the comfort of the home office. (The FCC has recently ruled that CALEA covers VOIP services, which means that providers like Vonage will have to find a way to comply.)
That was after the first bombing of the World Trade Center when later it was discovered that US resident Mohammed Salameh, one of the perps, had made dozens of calls to Baghdad shortly before the blast. Somehow, some way, it wasn't a problem back then.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Service Update

Haloscan is soon to be toast. A few days ago I inadvertently flagged a legitimate user as "spam" by mistake (hit the wrong line) and it promptly deleted all their past comments. Contacting the company to resolve the issue has so far proved fruitless and their online help is no help. Besides, it's slowing things down.

Long story short, I'll attempt to transition back over to blogger comments within the next day or sooner, which seems to require picking a new template after first trying to remove their spider-like code first. In the interim comments will probably not be available for awhile and the blog might look funky. Please pardon the mess. Will attempt to transpose the old comments as time permits, but there'll probably be some losses.

MORE 2/22/08

Thanks to the idiotic way Haloscan embeds and changes blogger code, along with some apparent stupidity on my part, most of the sidebar got blown away this morning when attempting to revert to blogger comments. I've less hair than a few hours ago.

Might as well ask...

Regarding the Big Spring, Texas refinery blast--seems this little tidbit was largely ignored by mainstream media reports:
Blake Lewis, spokesperson for Alon USA, said the last of the fires at the refinery were extinguished late Monday afternoon, allowing the Israeli-owned company to move into its next course of action.
Certainly accidents happen, and this was probably an accident. But after the death of Imad Mughniyeh and the resulting threats from Hizballah to exact revenge, and since Alon is an Israeli-owned company, is it really imprudent to ask?

More on the shield

Fore Left has devoted much time and type to the strange civil suit of Wen Ho Lee against the government and the cash settlement paid to make it go away. In that case the leaky officials worked for the Clinton administration, some of whom were perhaps planning a role in the 2008 campaign.

We've (well, me) also covered the recent contempt citation against New York Times reporter James Risen for leaking top secret info in his book. He faces jail time if he doesn't give up sources.

MSM coverage of both stories seemed to echo the critical need for a reporter shield law to stop the government from crushing the dissent of those in the government who want to leak top secret info. Ironically, the only reporter to visit jail of late for such a thing was Judith Miller, who turned out to be a lonely voice for a shield law in the Scooter Libby trial.

Now we have another reporter, former USA Today scribe Toni Locy, held in contempt for leaking information about Army biologist Steven Hatfill, the "person of interest" in the yet unsolved anthrax letter case. And irony of ironies, the judge in that case is none other than Reggie Walton, who adjudicated the Libby case and is working the Risen deal as well. Small world, eh?

Judge Reggie wants to fine Locy 500 per day---eventually up to 5000--until she gives up the officials' names. Fat chance. If precedent means anything we'll soon see another cash settlement for Hatfill, just like with Lee, a prediction made here. Of course, predictions are never guaranteed, as evidenced by the NFL playoff picks made here last month, but this one feels a little better.

If Hatfill does get a cash settlement it will bolster conspiracy theories that suggest he was a willing dupe in the case to divert attention away from terrorists (or even persons within the biodefense industry). Can they be blamed? If he doesn't, maybe that means John Ashcroft will actually make an appearance somewhere other than his own dinner table.

MORE 2/21/08

Michelle Malkin has long covered the anthrax story and reminds us of the connection of not only Judge Walton from the Libby case, but also of New York Times reporter Nic Kristof, who broke one of the first stories about Hatfill.

Proud Michelle

Her "never more proud" comment has already echoed around the blogosphere and bounced off Cindy McCain (acting as a catalyst of hope to keep the comment in the news), then bounced off some of the MSM "blogs".

The question is, does coverage in MSM political blogs really count as coverage? Can these big boys like ABC News, CNN, WaPo, NYT and others use their "blog" sections to say, "hey, we covered the flap" when in reality many more people read the front pages and main sections and might not see the blog sections?

It's hard to independently verify whether the big papers covered her proud moment as they would had another candidate's spouse made a similar blunder. And make no mistake--it WAS a blunder. There are many different ways to phrase such a sentiment without using her choice of words. Just wondering, because the big boys haven't been shy in covering Bill Clinton or even Elizabeth Edwards up top.

By the way, although Barack has answered for her (ironically his reply made the main WaPo since it was in reference to Cindy McCain), has Mrs. O herself been asked to explain the comment? It certainly deserves one, because there are many ways to interpret the meaning.

For instance, was she not proud of all the liberal voters who supported longshots like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton in years past? What about the voters who diverged from the main track and supported John Anderson, Ross Perot or Ralph Nader? What about the Ron Paulbots and their blimp? Or did her comment only cover hubby's support? If the MSM allows Mrs. Obama to escape with no accountability over her statements then it certainly looks like a bias factor in play.

MORE 2/20/08

According to Gateway Pundit, she has used the phrase more than once. This should up the pressure for her to submit to an interview to explain it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

So long, Gitmo, hello America

Remember the story about the six high-value Guantanamo detainees up for the death penalty? Anybody wonder where the candidates came down on that as well as the future of how we deal with captured terrorists? After all, one of them will be responsible for the place in less than a year.

Well, someone finally asked. Here's Hillary's plan:
Feinstein said that Clinton would ask her Justice Department to consider two possible alternatives to the military commissions: Indictments in federal courts, as some al Qaeda captives have been, or trial by regular courts martial in the military system.
In other words, essentially her husband's method with a military tribunal thrown in as a spicer. It's not clear whether classified information would be protected doing it her way, which is really the crux of the matter.

As to McCain, he's well known for wanting to "close Gitmo" but he's a lot more conservative on the process than Hillary, basically saying he'll stay with military tribunal commissions, just not in Cuba.

Barack weighed in:
Obama was less specific though he, too, questioned the military commissions. "As a candidate to be the next commander-in-chief ...I think it's important to be careful about commenting on specific cases pending before the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay ," Obama said in a statement.

"As I have said in the past, I believe that our civilian courts or our traditional system of military courts martial are best able to meet this challenge and demonstrate our commitment to the rule of law."
Notice he didn't say he'd outright close the facility, just move selected bad guys into the court system. At least that's what he appeared to be saying--sometimes it's hard to say. But no doubt he said it well.

Meanwhile back on the front, a reader pointed out a story I missed regarding the temporal convergence of the surge, lowering causualty rates in Iraq, and that fruitcake 2007 NIE that said Iran was now officially harmless:
The Iraqis who spoke about the talks said they believed the release of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in December was a quid pro quo to Tehran for it having turned its back on the Mahdi Army.
Hmm, under that scenario wouldn't a drop in violence pretty much prove Iranian meddling in the affairs of Iraq and the killing of US troops? The story suggests that while the guns have gone cold, they haven't stopped networking, suggesting the Bush administration was perhaps more interested in a short-term solution to get through end of term. While not entirely convincing, there's no doubt some realpolitik is being practiced right now, something many people just can't seem to comprehend. Just think Cheney and Kissinger.

The wildcard might be how any of the above tied in with the Mughdiyeh hit in Syria. Maybe somebody figured now was the time to act with the Iranians/Hizballah temporarily frozen, if indeed they are. Of course, that's assuming the Big Spring refinery blast and the South Texas pipeline blast were accidents. Oh, right, of course!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

America in the balance

Michelle Obama recently talked about an erosion of souls in America. It didn't go over well in all quarters but in principle she's correct--too many of us are 'losing our souls'. Granted, it was silly of her to prop up hubby as the only fixer but let's deal with the reality of her words for a moment.

At risk of sounding like a glass half-empty lib or end-of-days preacher, the evidence of soul rot is all around us. Mass shootings are becoming common; cheating and corruption are everywhere; the rule of law is becoming a mere suggestion especially if money is involved; and common courtesy has taken a back seat to to selfish expedience as evidenced daily on America's cutthroat highways.

Our popular music and movies long ago jumped the shark. Artists today seem to lack soul, even the soul artists. At the corner bijou, which is now the multi-bijou 15 plex, sequels are all the rage. Former leading men like Cary Grant, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood and Sidney Poitier dwarf today's crop. These stars of yesteryear all had human faults but they also possessed an intangible charm, dignity and respect that today's leading men can't match.

As to the ladies, this may sound sexist, but while they're just as beautiful and talented as before they've left practically nothing to the imagination. Prudish? Curmudgeon-like? You decide. But I've been around long enough to study a few iterations.

The wide world of sports, once a land of heroes, is not immune. In the span of a week we've seen cheating allegations against the coach of one of the most storied college basketball programs in the nation; heard more rumors about the artificial prowess of baseball's all time home run king; and witnessed a foolish attempt by one of baseball's all-time best pitchers to rescue a flaming legacy (appropriately using a lawyer tied to Bill Clinton). Meanwhile the best team in pro football were exposed as serial cheaters from the get-go. Congrats, gentlemen. But they're all rich, right?

As to politicians, most are sleazy suckbags and have been since the days of Plato, but usually the presidential race produces at least one decent choice. The level of patronizing is an inverse relationship to the level of education in America, a country where millions of people can't even understand the 1040EZ form much less what a sub-prime mortgage is. Don't worry, Uncle Sam's Nanny is waiting in the wings.

And just stand back and marvel at the hubris--politicians, with a straight face, boldly promising to change the climate. People react by marveling about what a "great speaker" he or she is!

The barbarians are not at the gates. They're likely hiding in the tall grass nearby watching everything through binoculars and planning their future attacks. Like many others, I've wasted many words here, there and everywhere trying to remind people of the threat posed by terrorism long before 9/11. It's hard to convince people who think the president is the real enemy because of his stances against debauchery or the fact he mentioned Jesus once or twice. For a history refresher, take a look at the movie "Navy Seals" with Charlie Sheen, a flick made in 1990. Charlie kicked some royal Islamofascist butt, and with great glee back then. Now he's a 9/11 truther.

I'd be lying if I didn't blame this downer pill on the NIU shooting. There were certainly other force multipliers but the cold-blooded, calculating nature really focused it for me, especially coming from a kid who nobody suspected. Everyone has their pet theories as to why mild-mannered, plain-looking young, white kids are snapping into mass murderers all over the place. Surely it could be the cheapening of life due to an overload of available fantasy such as porn or video games; or it could be our new brutish, jungleland-like 3rd world culture that tends to place a jackboot on kids like these; or it could be the permeation of evolutionary teachings in our classrooms, which tends to remove the fear of death or common respect for our fellow "animals". Or it could be the divorce culture that left too many kids without meaningful supervision. It's probably a combination of a lot of things and more.

Frankly, I really don't have any profound answers. My instinct is to ammo-up myself and move the family to Montana, placing self over God and country. Wonder how many politicians already feel that way deep down inside?

But life is short. It's better to stand and fight than ride off into a selfish, apathetic sunset, flashing everyone the moon at the city limit sign. Truth is we're swirling at this point, but far from the drain. Ironically, America was so high up on the shining hill that our downward slip has been overly magnified. This is still by far the world's best destination and there's no reason it shouldn't continue to be for years.

But nothing will change if the current generation who've seen the promised land on that hilltop says 'screw it'. Checks and freebies and compassion for law-breakers won't save us. Tax cuts, smaller government or a Fair Tax won't do it, either. Politicians alone aren't the answer. The healing comes from a return to discipline, hard work, self-reliance, seeking wise counsel, living within means, having great compassion for those less fortunate (and showing it) and remembering that the Golden Rule has nothing to do with gold.

Sounds corny and old fashioned. Maybe overly melodramatic. It might even piss you off. But to me even a small dose of the above on a massive scale could indeed lead to "change" and perhaps thwart our imminent slide off the approaching cliff and into the dustbin of nations. Maybe some of our "straight talkers" can touch on this subject during the campaign amidst their promises and platitudes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A hopeful, united America

Everyone is talking about Obama's message of hope and his vision of uniting America and working towards world peace and solving hunger and bringing Republicans into the tent and everything... here:

But Mr. Hope for Change, while hipper and more articulate than the last hopeful uniter, can't even contain his embarrassment about a distant geneological tie to the current Vice President. Is there a divide in the uniter when it comes to people who still support the current administration?

Race and speaking style, that's the change. His main driving force is timing. Bush came along when America was tired of Clinton scandals and the politics of personal destruction and Obama is doing the same to Bush. Actually, it'd be hilarious if Cheney were running against Barack just to observe the magnetic pole dance between the two. We'll see nothing like that with McCain.

As to an Obama presidency, how about some good news, bad news:

1. It would be a huge step forward for people of color. Nobody could say "well, he's just a token" after winning an election for president. It would represent the final hurdle in race relations in America.

2. The Third World, Europe and the Arab Street would be hard-pressed to point the finger at America and call us evil without appearing racist, hateful or jealous.

3. Minorities in America would have nobody to blame for their economic problems anymore, and might rise up and improve their lot in life as a result.

4. At the same time it would be harder for al Qaeda to gain support for a big attack if people viewed America as a country that could elect a leader born in Africa from a presumed Muslim father.


1. He seems a little wobbly away from podium. That might hurt him in world affairs or in the actual management of a crisis.

2. He'll face charges of reverse-discrimination when making appointments, even if it's not true. A lot of people will be expecting jobs, people from his race, but if he tries to appear even-handed by rebuffing them there might be a backlash. Race baiters may also worry over a perception their jobs were superfluous with a black in the White House. No telling what some of them might do.

3. As morbid as it sounds, he'll be a prime target for assassination by extremist groups. Not only white racists, but AQ might see an opportunity to turn hatred inward and explode a race war by taking him down in an effort to destabilize America. Imagine the emotion surrounding JFK's death injected with years of pent-up racial hate, especially if some hillbilly white supremacist dude is fingered. No more all getting along.

4. The likelihood he might actually follow through on his campaign promises, like allowing habeas corpus for terrorists, pulling stakes in Iraq, putting troops into Darfur, socialized health care, carbon taxes, amnesty for illegals. Raising my taxes.

In many ways an Obama presidency would be one of healing for the nation but at our present historical vertex also perhaps too ambitious. He still seems better than Hillary, who'll probably prove that by showing her rear very soon if the losses keep piling up. But if McCain can keep his composure (and Barack is already trying to goad him into a temper outburst) many people might weigh his experience and trial by fire down through the years as slightly more valuable.

MORE 2/16/08

Obama's a real knock-out it seems. That would never get old, eh?


Everyone's asking for specifics--Obama delivers an economic plan. [via Hot Air.] There are a few head-scratchers:
Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures: In addition to taking important steps to prevent mortgage fraud from occurring in the future, Barack Obama will establish policies to help Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own. For instance, in communities where there are many foreclosures property values of innocent homeowners are often also negatively impacted, driving them toward foreclosure, too.
I'm no financial genius, but if someone owns a house financed with a solid, fixed-rate 30 year mortgage how does their neighbor's foreclosure affect their loan? And, if they were desperate or dumb enough to get a variable rate, how does their neighbor's foreclosure affect that loan? Surely I've missed something.

He mentioned being against the Bankruptcy Bill of 2005, which was hammered as a screw-job to the little peeps by bloggers and financial experts like Dave Ramsey. Others disagreed, including Republican purist Ron Paul, believing the bill would foster accountability and living within means.

Obama's financial plan also includes this winner:
The tax code is supposed to encourage home ownership with a mortgage interest deduction, but it goes only to people who itemize their tax deductions. Like so much in our tax code, this tilts the scales toward the well-off.
Well off? We started itemizing the first year we got a mortgage after comparing the 1040A, EZ, and long forms. Doesn't everyone?

Later he seems to explain why:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimated in 2004 that it took more than 28 hours for an individual to complete his/her tax filing, and that half of the taxpayers filing the “easy” forms ended up paying a tax preparer to do it for them.
Cripes. We're really in trouble. He goes on to suggest the IRS could do the tax forms and have people just sign and return. Something creepy about that. While it makes sense for people with little income or those not intelligent enough to understand a 1040EZ form, it's mainly an attack on accountants, something sure to win favor with the masses, at least the ones who aren't accountants. I'd prefer a flat tax, which stands the same chance as Congress building the border fence or giving up earmarks.

As to college education:
This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover twothirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university
Sounds great, in a sort of David Copperfield way. The mirrors are there somewhere.

As to retirement,
Even when workers are given the option of joining employer-based plans, many do not take up the option because it requires considerable work to research plans and investment portfolios, and enroll in the plan. Barack Obama’s retirement security plan will automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan
No, many don't because they'd rather blow money by getting credit cards and homes and toys they can't afford, and Obama seems to want to help them do more of that. Yes, real income is down with gas prices up, but all of us--present company included--could probably prioritize better. Where is the incentive for that? No need--Barack will do it for us. He's the super nanny!

The more I read, the less "hope" I have for the future of America.

Friday, February 15, 2008

More than an idiot

Tom Scholz is a musical genius but apparently he wasn't blessed with much sense. His temper tantrum about Huckabee playing bass on his song "More than a Feeling" with ex-guitarist Barry Goundreau at a few campaign rallies is fairly petty:
"Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for," wrote Scholz, adding that he is supporting Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. "By using my song, and my band's name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed. In other words, I think I've been ripped off, dude!"
Apparently Huckabee was not using the song as a theme-song, he was jamming to it in a band including Goudreau. If Scholz is to remain intellectually honest, which is important to all good liberals, he'll now need to check the political leanings of every classic rock garage band in America or of any bloggers posting his stuff off YouTube and command them to stop if they don't espouse the views of Barry O (which at last check were to bring America back together).

As to Scholz's comment that Boston's beliefs (as if the band has a collective belief) are "polar opposite" of Huck's, that's even more curious. We've learned that Huck has at various times supported 1) tuition credits for kids of illegal aliens, 2) working together in a bi-partisan fashion with the Democrat legislature, 3) advocating for small businesses, 4) closing GTMO, 5) abolishing the IRS and enacting a Fair Tax, and 5) reigning in our "arrogant" foreign policy.

So, using the old pocket calculator we find the polar opposite would produce a candidate who'd restrict illegal aliens, ignore elected bodies, support big business, leave GTMO and the IRS untouched, and continue our current foreign policy. Pretty much a neocon. Who knew?

Geez, maybe at the next event maybe Huck can find some players and jam to "Don't Look Back". Of course the way he seems to be ticking everybody off, maybe "Used to Bad News" would be more apropos.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obama compared to Hitler

The inevitable has occurred. Just as predicted!

Fox Radio should know better. It's not like they're Air America or NPR.

In reality Obama compares more to MLK or a revivalist preacher than to a wrapped-tight Nazi spitting out guttural German. There may be a valid discussion about blind loyalty in general, to wit, even members of the MSM have questioned some of his teary-eyed supporters (admittedly some might just be upset they weren't reacting that way for Hillary) or his relevance.

Obama should be able to handle this stuff equally as well as Bush. If not, his timber is cut too thin for the job. Perhaps he can even turn this tripe into a clarion call to better define "hope" and "change" for those less prone to hero worship.

But as to indignation from outlets like Media Matters, the irony is richer than George Soros himself. The left has made a cottage industry out of such idiotic comparisons, and we've heard similar subtle renderings from public officials, Hollywood actors and noted singers. So, please.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain, FISA and torture

The left is wildly spinning McCain's "no" vote on the FISA authorization bill today, which included a Feinstein amendment that restricted a POTUS to one set of interrogation standards (not containing the waterboarding techniques we no longer use). Apparently they missed Hillary's not voting vote yesterday on the Dodd amendment to that same bill. Then again, who's still watching Hillary other than the New York Times and guys like Joe Wilson?

Bush will of course veto the bill, which he claims takes away his constitutional privilege to kick terrorist ass when necessary, so McCain will be placed right back in the box very soon.

But here's the rub. We spend all this mental energy flailing about on how to treat captured terrorists and in a bright white flash a guy like Imad Mughniyeh gets blown to smithereens without the slightest trace of habeas corpus, ACLU lawyers, enemy combatant hearings or testimonials from Rosie. Sure, Israel might be the culprit and they have different rules, but we've done this before.

Somehow killing a terrorist using a car bomb or hellfire missile fired from a CIA toy airplane is seen as justice, not torture! Yet if either (both were wanted by America) had been captured and brought to GTMO they could have become cause celebre's for Dick Durbin while providing campaign fodder for certain messianic presidential candidates.

Maybe that's McCain's out. Next time they criticize him for allowing waterboarding he can just say, "well, my friends, at least we're not treating them like Mughniyeh or Atef". Seriously, McCain is smart enough to understand that tying the hands of a Commander-in-Chief, regardless of circumstances, is not a good thing. This should serve as a harbinger--the people poised to take over the government next year think such a thing rivals sliced bread.

UPDATE 2/14/08

A mea culpa is in order. Seems I've conflated two intelligence bills into one. Apologies, and thanks to commenter Mick Wright for alerting me to my dumbness.

Hopefully this is correct--the bill McCain voted nay on was House 2082, a reauthorization bill for intelligence activities which among other things established using the Army Field Manual for interrogation, effectively tying the hands of the CIC as to any "ticking bomb" scenarios. Bush has threatened to veto this bill, and the left was hoping McCain would join them in an effort to get a veto-proof margin and chisel this into stone. Apparently when faced with a possible presidency the idea of limiting powers didn't seem so attractive. But it certainly opens him to hypocrisy charges based on previous statements.

Another bill, Senate 2248, the FISA reauthorization and amendment bill, was passed in the Senate with a veto-proof majority. This is apparently the bill the House refused to take up today resulting in the GOP walkout. It has nothing to do with waterboarding. McCain did not [see comments] cast a vote on this one. Then again, neither did Hillary or Obama.

I provide no guarantees on the correctness of the above update but it simply has to be closer than the initial posting. McCain will still be faced with a vote when House 2082 comes back after Bush's veto, which will be re-spun as him favoring waterboarding and torture when in effect the central issue is whether to tie a president's hands in protecting the country.

HOPELESS 2/14/08

McCain voted yea on Senate 2248, it was an amendment vote he wasn't present for. Heck, let's just let Mick explain it. I'm going to bed.

Big fish fried

He wasn't just another run of the mill terrorist or proverbial revolving "number three" in AQ. He was the Number One or Two of Hizballah. And now he's dead:
Imad Mughniyeh, the militant accused of attacks that left hundreds of Americans and Israelis dead, including a U.S. Navy diver during the infamous 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner, has been killed, Hezbollah said Wednesday.

The militant group blamed Israel for the assassination - a charge the Jewish state denied - but it did not say how he died. However, Middle East media reported he was killed in a recent car bomb in Syria.
Allegedly he was a member of the hijacking crew on TWA 847 in 1985 that resulted in the death of Navy diver Robert Stethem. Strangely, the ringleader of that bunch was captured years ago and imprisoned for life in Germany, then recently released for unknown reasons only to go back on the FBI's most wanted list. This should be a reminder to the left that al Qaeda and Afghanistan aren't the only areas sheltering terrorists who've killed Americans.

Mughniyeh's name pops up all over the place regards terrorism, including with Hamas and AQ. The world is officially better off.

MORE 2/13/08

This strike brings back memories of captain John Testrake, who heroically led flight 847 and left a lasting impression on the writer of this blog. He probably would have been in favor of forgiving Mr Mughniyeh. No longer necessary.

MORE 2/13/08

This is coming from the Jerusalem Post, which may require a dash of skepticism, nevertheless:
He also apparently had strong ties with Al Qaida and according to the testimony of Ali Mohammed, a senior Al Qaida operative who was arrested for involvement in the attacks on American embassies in Africa, Mughniyeh met with Bin Laden in Sudan in 1993. Hizbullah, Mohammed said, provided explosives training for Al-Qaida fighters. This relationship and the fact that Mughniyeh was Hizbullah's liaison to Al Qaida, has led western intelligence agencies to raise the possibility that he was also involved in the 9/11 attacks
Yossef Bodansky wrote a book about bin Laden (pre 9/11) that talked about how Sudan's former leader, Hassan Turabi, was trying to get all the Islamic and Arab factions together to fight the west. This included numerous meetings and conferences, some held in Baghdad, some in Tehran.

Mughniyeh had been in the news recently. Back in November I started a post about him after Interpol issued "red letters" against him and several other Hizballah goons but the link disappeared and I shelved it. Here's some context:
Earlier this week Interpol voted overwhelmingly (74-14 with 26 abstentions) to issue a red letter calling for the arrest of five Iranians accused by the Argentine government of orchestrating the 1994 bombing of the Jewish communal offices (known as AMIA) in Buenos Aires.
Got that? An attack in Brazil pulled off by Hizballah. The writer wondered why the Supreme Ayatollah wasn't included in the red letters, and while obvious, the preceding links between Tehran and Hizballah leave no doubt about their state sponsorship. And it's funny, if they could tie this guy to 9/11 that makes the attack on America state sponsored as well. Wonder what messers Kean and Hamilton would say about that?

MORE 2/13/08

Perhaps messers Kean and Hamilton would not think twice, since Mughniyah was mentioned in the 9/11 report along with Iran, but it's interesting they settled on the rootless, stateless definition in their final analysis.

Finally, somebody dug up this morsel from "scary" Larry Johnson right after 9/11. This was about a month after his infamous expose deriding terrorism as no longer a big threat, by the way:
We now know, for example, bin Laden was meeting with Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah security chief. Mughniyah, until yesterday, had killed more Americans than bin Laden, had wounded more Americans than bin Laden.
Again, a big catch. Now, since WE didn't get him, Bush can't really take credit. He won't care, of course, but politically speaking I wonder if someone will bother to ask Obama about the significance of this man and how he relates to the Obamavision vis a vis the GWoT, since (if conventional wisdom is correct) Mughniyah helped convince bin Laden we were indeed a paper tiger.

MORE 2/14/08

Notice any irony here?
In a fiery, videotaped eulogy broadcast on a giant screen to tens of thousands attending the south Beirut funeral, Nasrallah said Israel had taken the fight outside the "natural battlefield" of Israel and Lebanon.

"You have crossed the borders," he said. "With this murder, its timing, location and method — Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open."
Mughniyah was under indictment for his role in bombings in Argentina. Which part of the 'natural battlefield' is South America?

This whole thing sounds kind of like a sleeper story. The world's top Shi'ite terrorist was just turned to splinters--it's almost to the level of the death of Ayman Zawahiri in importance--yet the reaction from the US media has been relatively muted. Part is due to the fact Imad wasn't a household name (though he should have been, killing as many Americans as he did). But I can't help think there's more.

Perhaps there's a fear of dashing the carefully crafted image that Bush has ignored terrorism by dabbling in Iraq (even though Mughniyah was once aligned with Arafat, who was aligned with Saddam). Or perhaps it's a fear that people will suddenly realize that terrorists have been around and killing Americans long before Bushitler spurred them on by attacking Iraq.

Or perhaps it's Imad's inconvenient Syrian/Iranian connections, which gets terrorism a little too close to the states that liberals have been busy defending these past three years (did Kucinich discuss this guy with Assad?). Or, perhaps it's reinvigorates the Hariri/Gemayal murders, all but vaporized from the press of late.

Maybe this story reminds people that the term war on terrorism means ALL terrorism, not just the brand that attacked us on 9/11.

Finally a longshot, but perhaps it has something to do with the current Democrat frontrunner and his stated opinions about terrorism, or perhaps an overall fear of bringing terrorism itself back onto the front burner of the debate.

Or maybe it's just not as sexy as Roger Clemens denying his trainer shoved a needle in his butt, not sure.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rep Cohen targeted, but by whom?

On the surface, by the reverend George Brooks of Murfreesboro, that's whom. He issued a flier that's apparently circulating through parts of the city, saying some real un-Christian-like things about our Jewish Congressman. The anti-defamation league is not happy.

So who is this Brooks? Well, in reading the Commercial Appeal story all they say is that he's a Murfreesboro preacher.

Pause for context. It's obvious this story is about race. It's obvious that Steve Cohen is a white man representing a majority black district. It's obvious that his main challenger for the seat, Nikki Tinker, is an African American woman. So why in the dickens did they fail to tell us reverend Brooks' race? We are left to guess based on this one quote regards the flier:
He said he sent the flier because the 9th Congressional District is "about 90-something percent black."
Which doesn't really tip the scale either way. Apparently the CA would prefer their readers to dig this stuff on their own:
yesterday i came to the pipe shop and noticed a letter that had been sent to the pipe shop. it was addressed to Three Pen Tobacco Shop. The return address was from Rev. George Brooks. He is an African-American Preacher here in Murfreesboro. it was quite intriguing to read what it said…i thought i’d let you see for your self.
Apparently the reverend has some black-centric views, which some may call extreme. He's got that right in America. Fred Phelps is also an extremist.

But he's making accusations against a Congressman up for reelection in August. It would have been nice to get more information, for instance, does he pastor a church? Does he have any connections with an organized religion and if so, what do they approve of his fliers? I'm no fan of Cohen, but prudence would suggest the local paper might want to track down some of these things while the flier remains in circulation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

KSM to be executed?

Here we go:
U.S. military prosecutors will file charges on Monday against the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and five other Guantanamo prisoners and will seek to execute them if they are convicted, officials involved in the process said..
Reuters didn't waste any time in mentioning the 'torture' aspect here--the government has already admitted they waterboarded KSM to get vital info and according to treaties, any evidence acquired using torture cannot be used against someone. So there's a lot riding on the meaning of the word torture here. Ironically the Attorney General has yet to stipulate on that matter.

None of which means KSM doesn't deserve to to executed in the most heinous fashion imaginable, say perhaps by being lit on fire and dropped from the top of the Sears Tower (it would certainly approximate the suffering of the people he 'touched'). But this move will undoubtedly also fan the flames of those who refuse to believe in his proclaimed super-terrorist qualities. We'll apparently have to wait awhile--the trials will likely be dragged out well into the next administration, which could be interesting in and of itself.

By the way, something from KSM's confession (and mentioned in the Reuters story) continues to be mildly intriguing:
Mohammed also said he was responsible for a 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center, the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia,, and an attempt to down two American airplanes using shoe bombs. He also confessed to the beheading of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
Specifically, his testimony said, "I was responsible for the shoe bomber operation to down two American airplanes". Everyone knows about Richard Reid and American Airlines flight 63, but who was the other shoe bomber?


If this speculation is correct then who was doing all the recent puppeteering, George Lucas? Or shall we check Mr. Cheney's basement (sorry, it would be said anyway). Second question, would a confirmed bin Laden death mean anything politically? McCain has repeatedly said he would chase UBL to the gates of hell while Obama has said he would unilaterally invade Pakistan to fetch him out of a cave. Hmm...advantage, Democrats.

Shield for what?

Have been casually reading "State of War" by New York Times journalist James Risen (acquired through Amazon for mere pennies). Risen was the one who spilled the beans about the NSA's eavesdropping program and telecom spy program.

Ironically he was recently subpoenaed for material in that book--thanks to a CIA criminal referral--specifically for the part about a covert CIA nuclear switcheroo game gone wrong regarding Iran. Persecution fears being what they are with our current fascist government, this has sparked renewed talk of a shield law to protect our upstanding reporters:
“Jim has adhered to the highest traditions of journalism. He is the highest caliber of reporter that you can find, and he will keep his commitment to the confidentiality of his sources.”
And his newspaper also thinks he's pretty swell:
A spokeswoman for The Times, Catherine J. Mathis, said the paper “strongly supports Mr. Risen and deplores what seems to be a growing trend of government leak investigations focusing on journalists, particularly in the national security area.”
The Plamaniacs at JOM have their theories about who his source might be but in the meantime, we need to take a little detour down the memory hole.

Remember that poor little old Chinese man named Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear scientist whom the Clinton administration accused of stealing nookular secrets? He sued the government because of those leaks. Remember what happened to his civil lawsuit? Why, it was settled out of court for a large wad of cash contributed by both government and the media. Apparently this was to designed to prevent the specter of upstanding journalists being forced in court to reveal their Clinton-era sources right before an important election season:
"Unfortunately, the journalists in this case . . . reluctantly concluded that the only way they could continue to protect the bond with their sources and sidestep increasing punishment, including possible jail time, was to contribute to the settlement with the government and Wen Ho Lee," said Henry Hoberman, senior vice president of ABC. "It was not a decision that any of the journalists came to easily or happily."
Yep, their hands were tied. And yep, you've probably already guessed it by now:
The reporters were Walter Pincus of The Post, James Risen of the New York Times, Bob Drogin of the Los Angeles Times, H. Josef Hebert of the Associated Press and Pierre Thomas of ABC.
So in the Lee case a shield law would have done what, fully insulated political operatives who were trying to use a private citizen as a scapegoat to divert attention from a political embarrassment? Or, in the case of Risen's book, potentially stopped the public from knowing who might have leaked above top secret info about an enemy during wartime, and why? Help me out here.

Without some fear of retribution, reporters looking for Pulitzers mixed with sleazy government officials looking to further agendas would be left to run amok. Security clearances are issued for a reason. Nobody should expect to bust their clearance with immunity. After all, it's one thing to leak about tax policy or cronyism on a road project but quite another to give up national security secrets during wartime to torpedo a political enemy. And it's hardly surprising, hardly surprising, that the New York Times can't figure out the difference.


Legitimate pilfering of state secrets. Isn't this just as bad as publishing top secret info in a book or blabbing it to the Times? Seems like they used to hang people for lesser infractions.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Obama, Iraq and the promised land

Supporters are starting to trot out this video, which makes Barack Obama look very much like the "Messiah" colloquialism some have used about him:

One must admit, a brilliant speech based on today's conventional wisdom about Hussein and Iraq. When juxtaposed to this one, which includes Hillary, it very well might slam the door on the nomination. And Hillary has already been pnked by Wolf Blitzer for her duplicity on her Iraq vote.

With that in mind, will ClintonInc now be forced to take a more George Bush-like position as to the importance of Iraq to counter Barack? It seems clear the Clintons have nothing in the bag to spring on Obama at this point, but how would some kind of bombshell about Iraq change things? All very interesting, since anything coming out favorable towards the Iraq invasion would certainly help McCain.

What about the Veep slot for Hillary? It would effectively remove the specter of Bill back in the White House while still giving them access to power. And the Iraq vote thing would be rendered moot.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Side tracks


Think spring! Enjoy the weekend..

Water wars

Tennessee continues to be a source of envy for its southern neighbors:
A resolution in Georgia's legislature proposes to move the Tennessee-Georgia boundary about a mile to the north of where it now lies, which could put Kyle right back into the state he left 15 years ago.
It's not only the east end. Mississippi has a long running lawsuit against the city of Memphis for "stealing" water out of the underground aquifer that spans the state line. They claim Memphis is pumping more than her fair share. Not sure how they'd exactly know, and apparently a local federal judge doesn't either. No surprise--just think of the potential precedent.

The east Tennessee situation is more interesting. Lake Lanier, Atlanta's drinking water source, is going down fast in the great southeastern drought and desperate times make politicians desperate, especially those faced with coming reelections.

According to the Chattanooga Civic Forums the state line IS off by a mile or so, just off the agreed-to 35th parallel, just as Georgia claims. If true, that would place the Georgia state line up against Nickajack reservoir on the Tennessee River, where presumably they could pump water (with oversight from the Army Corp of Engineers).

Here's a map to show just how close, courtesy mapquest:

Seems like they should be able to work things out without firing shots. Georgia needs water, but people who legally moved into what they thought was Tennessee should not be forced back into Georgia against their will. Besides, Nashville would be swamped with lawsuits.

How about this--rather than acceding to Georgia and allowing widespread annexation, broker a deal where they get access to Nickajack via a narrow right of way to the reservoir, just enough for a pipeline. Affected landowners would receive payments above market value for property seized through imminent domain but would remain residents of Tennessee. And have the Corp of Engineers control the water flow down the pipe not the state of Georgia, to alleviate downstream concerns. Just a thought.

Friday, February 08, 2008

GOP post mortem

Everyone's talking about Mitt's dropout, but this seems to sum it up pretty nicely. Seems to me Mitt never got past the "rich guy who used to be moderate in Massachusetts" factor, which put him at a disadvantage when he was thrust into the role of last conservative standing.

In a way it illustrates how weak the conservative field was all along. As York points out, Romney was never able to convey his core passion. Even Fred could convey that, although he failed everywhere else. Mitt couldn't get around his plastic appearance, due in part to the discipline York spoke of. The voters just weren't sure. And when it came to the southern voters, they defaulted to a home boy.

No offense to Mitt, he was probably unfairly saddled by having to say things to get elected in a blue state, but as they say, dems da breaks. What he did at CPAC will go a long way for his career. It was obvious that by staying in the race he would have continued to divide the electorate without a real chance of winning. Based on the polls it was doubtful he could have beaten either Barack or Hillary anyway.

By getting out he threw it over to McCain, while giving Huck an unencumbered shot to prove himself still viable. Ironically, unlike the quivering media perception in December, the GOP has now settled its race while the Dems might wobble on to the convention. I seem to recall someone saying there was an advantage for one side in that... oh yeah.

As to Mac, he said what he had to say at CPAC. Time will tell if conservatives stay home in the fall or come out to vote against one of the two Dem candidates. We know the conventional wisdom as to the enthusiasm factor but there are many commercials yet to air mentioning socialism, retreat, defeat, and blowback (not of a Paulsian nature). Things can change.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

1,2,3 go

Debbie at Right Truth has hit me with a meme. It sounds interesting, so let's play.

Here are the rules. The rules are simple. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages), open the book to page 123, find the fifth sentence, post the next three sentences and tag five other bloggers. I guess comics and pop-up books are allowed, although I've never seen a 100+ page comic book, unless you count (insert joke here).

Here's mine.. from the book "The Weather Conspiracy...The Coming of the New Ice Age" published in 1977:
What should each one of us do to make our own contributions in the fight against famine? Major international cooperation has always been difficult to bring off, but there are reasons to hope that governments will sublimate their short-term interests to the pressing need for solutions to avoid worldwide disaster. Ample precedent exists for unlikely alliances among sovereign states when confronted by major outside menace--Britain and the United States and Russia, for example, during World War II.
Oh how I wish I could have posted the next sentence. Keep in mind, they were talking about global cooling.

I'll go ahead and tag Mick, LA, and Mustang should they desire to play along.

Another botched joke, perhaps

Bob Krumm is all over John Kerry for insinuating Tuesday's tornadoes might have been fueled by global warming. Krumm made the point well enough, but I'd like to add that Kerry wasn't the only one attempting a pre-emptive strike on Bush's planned tour of the region Friday. Both Barack and Hillary got their shots in on Super Tuesday.

Actually, as hard as this might be to admit, Kerry is technically correct. A warmer planet would produce larger temperature contrasts in winter--especially in the south--which is the bread and butter of tornadogenesis. The question has always been who or what is causing the warming? The liberals are in lockstep in believing it's mankind because it helps promote socialism, while conservatives sometimes tend to overlook the obvious in defense. The planet is warming, boys and girls.

But Kerry's error, other than conflating climate and weather for political reasons, is to assume womankind has conclusively proven that mankind is actually causing all the global warming (trying to be diverse here). For instance, perhaps some of the warming is being enhanced by external sources:
Recent magnetic field readings are as low as he’s ever seen, he says, and he’s worked with the instrument for more than 25 years. If the sun remains this quiet for another a year or two, it may indicate the star has entered a downturn that, if history is any precedent, could trigger a planetary cold spell that could bring massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere.

The last such solar funk corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715
It's simply hard to know with certainty without instrument records dating back thousands of years. Sure, humans have a role, especially when they site thermometers in urban heat villages or beside the nearest airport tarmac.

But there should be absolutely no debate about the sun's influence on weather and climate in general. That big yellow ball's impact far surpasses that of humans and pretty much always will, until it burns out or blows up. So while there's still uncertainty as to whether John Kerry himself caused global warming by flying in too many private jets or allowing his family to own SUVs without his permission, anyone who discounts the sun is basically an idiot or a moonbat with an agenda. If Kerry wanted to be unambiguously correct he would have blamed the tornadoes on the sun.

Speaking of moonbats, the original Monbiot recently weighed in about this subject and recommended we cut our carbon output to zero. A lofty goal, one I'm sure Gordon Brown is deeply contemplating after he gets past the suggestion to convert to Sha'ria law. One thing about being forced into zero emissions, the few hearty inhabitants left on earth would definitely get to see whether the IPCC was correct or not.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Uh, what WMDs?

From LGF this story in the New York Sun about a man charged with having in his possession a treasure map of suspected WMD sites in Iraq:
How the classified military documents from Iraq, which named the coordinates of where the Army suspected weapons of mass destruction to be hidden, ended up in an Arabic translator's apartment on Hoyt Street in Brooklyn, is clear.
Oddly, there was no mention in the story about whether all the sites he had information about had already been cleared before he obtained the intelligence. In other words, might something like this possibly explain why nothing was found when the Iraq Survey Group showed up? Just thinking out loud here. Surely somebody knows the answer.

Where has this story been? Well, it's actually been around awhile sans the WMD component. In Googling we find Mr Malki emigrated to Brooklyn about the same time the "Brooklyn cell" was forming. Doesn't mean he was involved back then but after his arrest the FBI surely checked those leads and cleared him, right? One would think that after he was caught lying to gain citizenship they would have pretty much run down all his US contacts:
Defense attorney Mildred Whalen said her client may have lied to became a U.S. citizen but was a patriot who went to Iraq only to help his adopted country.
Hmm, should we give the government a pass on its apparent incompetency in vetting Muslim translators while we're at war with other Muslims who want to kill us in the name of Islam?
Nour has since told the FBI he is a Moroccan named Noureddine Malki, according to the complaint. “We don’t know who the defendant is,” Buretta said.
Ironically, WTC-1 bomber Ramzi Yousef also went by the name Abdul Basit Karim. His sentencing judge made the same comment. Still, it doesn't mean he was anything more than an Arabic-speaking guy who entered the country illegally like millions of others then wanted to help his new country after 9/11. However, when titillating information such as this (taken from his laptop) is considered it certainly casts some doubt:
One picture, which the government submitted to the court, shows an airplane about to strike the World Trade Center. Beneath the image is a logo of a shipping company and a motto: "We fly things straight to your office."
Somehow this mural comes to mind. Again, it doesn't make him a terrorist but it does challenge his loyalty. In fairness, quite a few troops he was embedded with have vouched for him. And perhaps we should consider a wild scenario that saw him contacting the insurgent leaders with the blessings of the Army in hopes to "find" some WMDs? If so, they're letting him twist vigorously in the breeze now. But would a lawyer ignore that, even a public defender? His defense seems to be that he misplaced the information.

In retrospect it's surprising but not shocking this story didn't get more play several years ago. It's doubtful to get much now, either, although the WMD part is eye-catching. Interestingly, one small wild card remains in play for the upcoming presidential election in regards to Iraq. Should some kind of bombshell emerge about Saddam's WMDs it would certainly only hurt one candidate at present. And it would probably help his opponent greatly. Just sayin'.