Monday, March 31, 2008

The Obama strategy on terror

Obama on his strategy for dealing with Pakistan:
If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will,"
Cowboy Up!

The Taliban strategy for dealing with Pakistan:
“Taliban are patriotic people and do not want to fight with their own government. We have waged jihad against America. But the country will suffer as long as Pakistan remains an ally of the US in the ongoing war on terror in the region,” Maulvi Faqir said.

The Taliban leaders warned elders of ‘consequences’, if they met US officials.
According to AJ Strata the terrorists are throwing their weight against the new government regarding US incursions into the tribal areas, ie, stop or else.

Oddly, unilateral incursions seem to be exactly what Obama has proposed whenever actionable intelligence suggests the location of high value targets (we had actionable intelligence regarding Saddam's WMDs, too). Such incursions are not pleasant for the Taliban, which is exactly why they're lobbying against them with the new government. History shows they lobbied Ms Bhutto pretty hard.

A moment of snark seems to be in order: perhaps Obama should request a pre-election meeting with Mullah Omar to ask whether his plan would really make the world love and respect us again. Before blowing him away, that is.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Domestic terrorism update

Concurrent to the mild publicity given to Steven Hatfill's defamation case for being named a "person of interest" in the 2001 anthrax letter attacks the FBI recently announced some news regards their "Amerithrax" investigation, summarized nicely by Michelle Malkin:
The FBI has narrowed its focus to “about four” suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.
While it appears the FBI has traded one person of interest for four (they learned from their previous mistake and didn't name names) this release of information is very interesting. It would seem to suggest they're either close to cracking the case or hopelessly desperate, trying to use a press release to play head games with the staff at Fort Detrick in hopes one of them might turn. Curiously, their wording left open the possibly that Hatfill himself is still a suspect but it also doesn't take foreign terrorists off the list.

The different powders used in the mailings seem to point away from a terrorist organization since logic would say they'd use a single source. At the same time, different powders would not rule out a lone wacko since he/she might be trying to cover tracks. But the varying locations from which the mailings were sent seems to point more towards a group. Curiously, some of the mailings went to notable individuals and featured inert powder, such as a letter sent to former New York Times terrorism reporter Judith Miller. This leaves open the possibility of copycats or opportunists. The FBI seems content with the lone perp theory.

Conspiracy theories abound, running the gamut from Big Pharma trying to protect an investment in a military anthrax vaccine to Saddam Hussein sending Bush a message to back off after 9/11. Others are less sensational. The near-military grade powder used on the Daschle letter hints at bio-weapons experts, undoubtedly why the Feds are still concentrating on USAMRIID workers. Perhaps some misguided concerned scientist decided to send a message illustrating how vulnerable America was or perhaps a liberal faction resented the notion America was clandestinely producing aerosolized anthrax in violation of international treaty. Assuming we were.

Of course there was a foreign terrorism angle. The first recorded attack occurred at the American Media building in Florida, home of the National Enquirer and very close to the former domicile of head 9/11 plotter Muhammad Atta. Some have asked a reasonable question--why would Atta be asking around about buying a crop duster if he had no "dust"? Dig a little deeper in this area and you'll eventually come across this site. Have fun.

Finally, since Walton was the judge on the Libby case it's surprising some intrepid lefty bloggers haven't tried to connect the two events, especially since Libby seemed to be a kind of point man on bio-weapons at the White House. It might explain the judge's draconian order in light of Bush's commutation. As blogger Luigi Warren once alluded, Libby was mentioned in Bob Woodward's "Bush at War" as follows, page 167:
They turned to the hot topic of anthrax. The powder in the letter mailed to Senator Daschle's office had been found to be potent, prompting officials to suggest its source was likely an expert capable of producing the bacteria in large amounts. Tenet said, "I think it's AQ" -- meaning al Qaeda. "I think there's a state sponsor involved. It's too well thought out, the powder's too well refined. It might be Iraq, it might be Russia, it might be a renegade scientist," perhaps from Iraq or Russia.

Scooter Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, said he also thought the anthrax attacks were state sponsored. "We've got to be careful on what we say." It was important not to lay it on anyone now. "If we say it's al Qaeda, a state sponsor may feel safe and then hit us thinking they will have a bye because we'll blame it on al Qaeda."

"I'm not going to talk about a state sponsor," Tenet assured them.

"It's good that we don't," said Cheney, "because we're not ready to do anything about it."
Putting on the Clancy hat, perhaps the administration was using an elaborate disinformation campaign to steer the public away from terrorism fears. Anyone seen Ashcroft lately?

Thing is, Walton also mentioned the Wen Ho Lee case in his ruling so there's no indication he harbors bias towards the truth. More likely he wants to keep the government from using private citizens with limited resources as scapegoats to solve sticky political problems (wonder if we'll ever find out who within the Clinton administration leaked Lee's name?). After all, shield laws would equally protect whistleblowers, partisan hacks and frauds.

Back to the front burner!

A New York Times headline today: "Iraqi Offensive Revives Debate for Campaigns." What, no exclamation point?
The war’s return to the public consciousness poses new challenges and opportunities for the candidates, particularly Senator John McCain.
Mighty nice of 'em to admit they had removed it from the headlines when the violence went down. Interestingly, it was only a few days ago McCain was in Iraq talking about how the Iranians were training al Qaeda and this is a Shia uprising. Times, again:
Some are saying the fighting strengthens their case for troop withdrawals.
The Times doesn't say who the "some" are. Their newsroom staff? Arianna Huffington? Barack Obama? Speaking of the man of change he issued a statement you'll have to read yourself to make sense of. And his opponent?
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, did not directly address the Basra situation on Saturday and instead kept the focus on economic issues.
Perhaps someone stopped her from claiming she was nearly wounded on one of her visits over there? All things considered, she's looking more irrelevant by the day.

In the midst of all this wonderful news about Iraq came a bummer from CNN:
Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told his followers to stop fighting and to cooperate with Iraqi security forces Sunday, as U.S. and Iraqi forces targeted his Mehdi Army in Basra and Baghdad.
Maybe the Times will tell us (quoting "some people" of course) how that affects the Obama campaign plans in tomorrow's edition.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Side tracks

Funny, but pitiful. Since this is a music post I tried to think of an accompanying song but this one kept rolling around in my head...

Too harsh? How about too blunt for popular consumption. People don't lie anymore, they misspeak or are misquoted. Really, is this the best we can do? Is this who we want occupying the same office once held by principled men like George Washington and "Honest Abe" Lincoln at such a crucial juncture in our history? Regardless of the fears about Obama one thing seems clear--it's high time the Clintons began their ride off into the political sunset, never to hold office again.

MORE 3/30/08

LA Sunsett has some additional musical selections in this same political theme.

Where words have no meaning

Apprently in Howard Dean's world, that is. By now you've probably heard what the Chairman of the Democrat National Committee said about McCain:
"While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years," Dean said.
Aside from the deliberate distortion of McCain's comments regarding our commitment to the Middle East it's obvious the Dems are trying to downplay the Maverick's military credentials in a sneaky way. In case you missed it, ABC's Jake Tapper found this Dean quote from 2004:
"The real issue is this," Dean said in March 2004, when endorsing formal rival Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., "Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?"
I don't agree that combat military experience is a prerequisite for the presidency. Such an axiom has been proven wrong by past presidential performance in wartime and besides, the founders wanted the CIC to be a civilian position.

But the left has been thrashing Bush for 6 years about his service, or lack thereof, making it some kind of critical issue pertaining to judgment. Therefore we can only assume Dean's axiom still holds true in 2008 since we're still fighting an overseas war. But it doesn't, of course.

Example--just for fun let's say Obama wins and follows through on his promise to chase AQ anywhere they exist regardless of cooperation from host countries. Won't that make him a "chickenhawk" based on his own lack of service? Of course not.

Alright, alright, politicians mangling words for their own self aggrandizement--hardly man bites dog stuff. The mistake is taking anything Howard Dean says seriously considering his litany of embarrassing gaffes. In his zeal to tar the opposition he's liable to say just about anything, to which the Insta guy says can only help McCain. Thing is, it's too late for the Party to get rid of Dean now, they'll have to live with him. But I hear Cancun is lovely this time of year.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gore as Yoda

And they say being the Vice President is a nothing job. It sure has helped Al Gore become the most visible ex-VP in history, a man whom the media constantly seeks to answer the world's vexing questions about politics and mother earth. Sort of like Yoda without the ears.

Jeralyn Merritt is giving kudos to the man for his measured response to a question about the contentious Democratic primary, summarized as follows:
"What have we got, five months left?"
It's an agreeable statement indeed, but there's confusion in them thar hills. Ms. Merritt lumps him with Howard Dean for sending "chill out" messages to the faithful, but a few days ago HuffPo featured an exchange between a reporter and Harry Reid in which the Majority Leader intimated that Chairman Dean had more than patience in mind:
Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.
"Things are being done" does not connote a "let's let this whole thing play out by itself" kind of attitude as suggested by Talk Left. Are we getting the true truth from these truth-loving Democrats?

Meanwhile, having solved the Democratic primary race Captain Planet will be appearing on 60 Minutes Sunday to inform those who don't believe human CO2 emissions are 100 percent responsible for par-boiling the planet they are nothing but flat-earthers and kooks on par with those who believed the moon landing was staged.

No matter that it lumps thousands of undecided scientists still working hard to conclusively prove or disprove man's role in our recent 30 year warming blip, it also disparages folks like the president of the Czech Republic and the founder of the Weather Channel. But of course, none of them have Emmys or Nobel Prizes in their curriculum vitae.

Close your eyes and imagine a Gore-inspired Democrat administration. Is it a stretch to believe it might see a certain usefulness for scientific muzzling or places like Gitmo (aside from housing terrorists committed to destroying western civilization)? What better place to send the oil shills masquerading as skeptics who dare challenge the party line on science? After all, they are de facto terrorists themselves, threatening the very safety of the planet, right? Just sayin.

By the way, evidently 60 Minutes will feature Gore's new enviro-friendly Nashville mansion in their piece, which he's conveniently modified by slapping on a few solar panels. Wonder if they'll remind everyone how far he has to go to catch the liar in chief?

Democratic EEO

"Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying at the church," Obama said Thursday during a taping of the ABC talk show, "The View."
Evidently that's what Obama will say on Friday's "The View", and with a straight face, although according to rumors there's an embarrassing shot of his nose growing grotesquely longer towards the end.

Now, some may be shocked that such a lousy liar could 1) still be in the running for president and 2) be on the verge of getting away with such an obvious pile of manure. But let's keep an open mind and stop with the typical thinking, shall we? Bill and Hillary have been getting away with the same crapola for decades and their net result has been a Presidency, Senate seat, and millions of dollars in speaking fees and book royalties. It's high time they changed the guard.

MORE 3/28/08

Tom Maguire summarizes the blow back from Obama's "sexy" appearance on The View (apparently Obama got Brad Pitt's sex gene but skipped Cheney's warmonger gene) and calls "BS!". Many of us in the VRWC beat him to it late last night with only a snippet to work with, but kudos to him for at least waiting for the show to air before opening fire.

The question seems to be whether Wright apologized or not. Barack didn't say he did, only that the reverend had "acknowledged" that his words were offensive. Maguire wonders "when"--come to think of it, I don't recall seeing or hearing the good reverend disown his own comments, either.

Matter of fact, where is he? Seems a few questions about whether Barack's "forceful, honest, truthful" replies were on the mark would be most entertaining. Hmmm, maybe we should be looking under buses. Again.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The emerging McCain doctrine

One of the reasons conservatives have never been thrilled with John McCain, aside from his utter disregard of the rule of law in the illegal immigration mess, is his maverickness, in other words, his easy willingness to side with the other side.

Here's another example. Note how the AP reporter frames it:
"Our great power does not mean we can do whatever we want whenever we want, nor should we assume we have all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to succeed," the likely presidential nominee said in a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. "We need to listen to the views and respect the collective will of our democratic allies," McCain added.
Who wouldn't agree? But perhaps he should have cited examples rather than leaving it open to press interpretation.

For instance, the AP reporter divined that Mac was referring to Iraq and Bush's cowboy diplomacy. Thing is, he was in favor of US action all along and has expressed hope we'd have a presence there for 100 years. It's doubtful he performed a quick global test before making that remark.

He went on in the speech to chastise other world leaders should they fail to have the proper understanding of the threat from Islamic terrorism. That sounds a tad unilateralist, too.

The only issue remaining in which the US has been accused of cowboyism is our refusal to sign Kyoto, so he must have been referring to global warming. How about this takeaway--John McCain will not unilaterally attack climate change before consulting with our allies.

Oh well. Running against Bush is probably an effective strategy in light of conventional wisdom on the American street and various popularity polls. That will be suspended for the convention, where McCain will be forced to embrace a few neocons and wives of former presidents but he'll likely drift back left of the glide slope in the home stretch. Probably for the best under the circumstances, but sometimes the medicine is hard to swallow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The trickle out effect

I know, sounds like a personal problem but it aptly describes the way we're getting the truth about the regime of Saddam Hussein. Bit by bit.

We already know about the greased palms and slapped backs all over Europe to curry favor with UN dignitaries in an effort to get the resolutions removed. We know well his role in the Oil for Food scandal. A few days ago we learned of his feelings for the Saudis and Egyptians and his love for Ayman al-Zawahiri via released captured documents and tapes from his intelligence service. Today we've learned those same agents were allegedly paying for trips to Baghdad for sympathetic US Congressmen to help lobby the world against US military action:
An indictment unsealed in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michigan nonprofit group, of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam's regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.
Surely Henry Waxman is penciling this on the top of his busy investigation calendar as we speak. Right after the hearing about why Valerie Plame lied to Congress.

But no need. The narrative on this one is easy--the courageous congressmen were right--there were no WMDs and war was not the answer, regardless of who paid. That such a position puts them squarely in line with the brutal dictator will not matter one little bit.

Don't worry about Antarctica

If you believe the mainstream press, Antarctica is on the verge of cracking up and scientists are blaming us. It was on the news.

But this rebuttal won't appear on the news..
Icecap Note: Lets put this in perspective. The account may be misinterpreted by some as the ice cap or a significant (vast) portion is collapsing. In reality it and all the former shelves that collapsed are small and most near the Antarctic peninsula which sticks well out from Antarctica into the currents and winds of the South Atlantic and lies in a tectonically active region with surface and subsurface active volcanic activity. The vast continent has actually cooled since 1979.
The article goes on to say that the southern hemisphere winter (normally June, July, and Aug but longer at the South Pole) is coming early and ice is already 60 percent more widespread than normal, ahead of even last years' record pace.

Are we seeing some desperation from the warming freaks? For instance, when northern hemisphere snow cover reached the greatest extent seen since the 60s this past winter it was brushed aside as a blip. At the same time arctic sea ice recovered in much greater coverage than expected after the record low levels recorded in late summer 2007. So what was the narrative? Yes the ice was there, but it was really, really, thin.

There's no debate that scientists who study climate for a living know more than internet Joes and Janes who make sport of them but some of these researchers might benefit from an attitude adjustment. Computer models are not infallible. When something in nature occurs that doesn't fit the model they need to admit it humbly and go back to work, not spin the result. That's basic science.

For crying out loud, they are making the Bush administration look correct in their controversial desire to filter scientific conclusions from guys like James Hansen.

A wink from Harry

Harry Reid, when asked if there will be a Democratic meltdown at a brokered convention:
Reid: No, it will be done. I had a conversation with Governor Dean (Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean) today. Things are being done.
There's some irony in his clandestine answer. If one were prone to be flippant, one might say terrorist surveillance programs and other such national security program deserve ample sunshine via leaks to the press but smoky backroom dealings to decide the Democratic nominee do not.

So, what's he talking about? Have anything to do with Clinton's vow to go the distance despite Obama not being asked the same question? Or perhaps they've seen the latest Rasmussen poll and are in negotiations with Gore (his campaign sticker might be "Gore through the back door). Or maybe Reid is just so ticked off at Limbaugh for "operation chaos" that he wants people to believe they're doing something when in reality, the party's in a flat spin at 3000 feet? Surely it will leak soon enough--the press will demand it for the sanctity of liberty and democracy. Right?

MORE 3/26/08

Maybe Reid is talking about the Governor Phil Option:
Bredesen is doing something about his concerns. He was in Washington this week to promote his idea for holding a “superdelegate primary” in June, in which the 795 party bigwigs would gather to hear one last time from Clinton and Obama before casting a final vote.

Rather than allow the horse-trading and bloodletting go on all summer, he’d get it over with during a two-day business meeting in a neutral, easily reached city like Dallas

Via Political Yen/Yang

A rare treat

The singing of our national anthem can sometimes make me cringe. Then there are those other times...

From Right Truth via Boortz.

PS, this was sung before a college basketball game. Here are my picks for March Madness from here out-- great 8: NC, Tenn, KS, Davidson!, MEM, TX, UCLA, XAV. Final 4: NC, KS, MEM, UCLA. Final: MEM over NC (shocker, eh)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Saddam tied to terrorists not named UBL

Despite having no operational ties to Osama bin Laden--the perpetrator of 9/11 who just recently proclaimed that Iraq was prime real estate for a shared Islamofascist goal of wiping Israel off the map--Saddam Hussein nevertheless had ties to almost everything else:
Newly declassified documents captured in Iraq show that Saddam Hussein's regime had extensive ties with a variety of Islamist and other terrorist groups, in some cases dating back to the early 1990s. Saddam's Iraqi Intelligence Service (or Mukhabarat) established a working relationship with Egyptian Islamic Jihad, whose leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, later merged the group with al Qaeda, according to a new report by the Institute for Defense Analyses. In addition, the Mukhabarat trained scores of non-Iraqi Arabs to attack Israel. The new report contains copies of captured Iraqi documents that provide what may be the most detailed picture ever of Baghdad's support for terrorism.
Just keep in mind they found no operational links to bin Laden as you glance through all the other reports in this article, such as the 1993 communique where Saddam discussed plans to overthrow Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. Ironically, four years later more than 60 tourists were killed in a terrorist attack at Luxor by a group called the Vanguards of Conquest, Ayman al-Zawahiri's group. We previously learned Saddam was helping, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri's other group, which merged with al Qaeda in summer 2001. But don't forget--there were no formal ties to Osama bin Laden.

One document detailed plans to kill humanitarian aid workers in Kurdistan. But how? Saddam loved Doritos! And he was no threat to America. And he wasn't tied to bin Laden or 9/11.

The fact Saddam had a pre-Gulf War conversation with Nobel Prize winning peace lover Yasser Arafat contemplating ways to kill George Herbert Walker Bushco using suicide bombers is now yesterday's news. Heck, the fact he actually tried and failed in Kuwait is even older news (and we still know he wasn't behind 9/11) but today we learned some new news:
The study also reveals that on Sept. 17, 2001, Saddam gave orders to his military intelligence directorate to recruit Iraqi officers to conduct "suicide operations" against the United States.
Oddly, one day later on September 18th the first anthrax letter was mailed here in the United States.

It's tempting to credit Karl Rove for leaking the pre-release of this study to the liberal press knowing they'd hype the "Saddam had no ties to al Qaeda" morsel above everything else, giving it immediate and pristine credibility. That way when the incriminating red meat began to tumble out they'd be hard-pressed to portray the same pristine report as Bush spin. It's a decent theory assuming they don't successfully bury the story under a blizzard of Obama PR releases and senior moment updates about a certain old guy.

MORE 3/25/08

While driving this evening I happened to catch the Savage show and his guest Michael Scheuer. The former CIA analyst has always been somewhat of an enigma. He seems to be a rare person with no ideological bent. Sometimes.

His latest book laments our demise at the hands of bin Laden, whom he believes is draining our treasury fighting the war. He may be right on that, but we may not have much of a choice if we want to avoid further attacks. He believes to some extent, like our friends the reverend Falwell, Robertson and Wright, that we've brought some of this on ourselves. Yet one minute he'll be saying Bill Clinton didn't allow CIA to blow bin Laden to hell while the next he'll be calling Bush a warmonger who is actually making things worse by blowing people to hell.

His first book proclaimed that bin Laden and Saddam were tied (he was right) but oddly, about the same time it became apparent WMDs weren't going to turn up in Iraq he returned and revised it to say he'd made a mistake. That lost him some credibility with me, yet admittedly his knowledge of the business dwarfs some internet blogger with a day job. Still, the blame America stuff gets old.

Sure the west has problems. There are moral/ethical shortcomings. We focus too much on greed, fame and power. We also have the freedom to get past shortcomings and learn from them without losing our liberty or various and sundry limbs. Both Eliot Spitzer and the mayor of Detroit are paying for their moral misdeeds right now and the left has made George Bush's life a living hell for his feeble attempts to consolidate more power to the presidency. All without shots being fired. And this is worse than the Taliban, how?

Scheuer says bin Laden Inc doesn't want our decadent western values corrupting his pristine religion, which is partly why he fights us. This describing a man with multiple wives. But seriously, if Islam is truly the great world religion then it should be able to co-exist alongside concepts such as female independence or freedom of worship. Matter of fact, if we're to survive and advance as a species, it must.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Diesel wars

In case you haven't noticed, gas prices are a tad high. People who drive for a living certainly know it, and some are threatening a strike on April 1 (unless it's some kind of big truckers joke). It won't bring down prices but it will help the Democrat candidates, who'll turn it hard against the warmongering Bush and by default, McCain.

I've nothing against truckers and certainly feel some of their pain at the pump. If they were to strike en masse the economy would die a quick death. But a few comments in the story demand rebuttal, such as:
Everything in this country is trucked.
Er, no. Anyone who's been in Memphis around 3 pm trying to go north or south near Poplar Avenue and has waited 15 minutes for several 100 car coal trains to pass knows this isn't entirely true. And how would our trucker explain this picture? Or this one? Finally:
“Our federal government is subsidizing railroads, airlines, banks and farmers,” he said. “Meanwhile, we’re being taxed to death.”
Railroads can be included only if you call Amtrak a railroad. Otherwise, the subsidies largely ended when the original land grants were gone. Truckers do pay road taxes but enjoy the subsidy of a nationwide network of public highways also funded by the rest of us. The Feds aren't pumping money into fixing railroads unless public transit shares the tracks and they suffer from skyrocketing diesel prices just like everyone else.

That said, Bush has said he can't "wave a magic wand" and bring down the price of oil, but he recently sent Cheney to the Middle East to hold hands with the Royals. We'll see if any magic occurred but my guess is the OPEC nations are holding the price up to help get rid of rulers like Cheney. Maybe we should dangle this in front of them.

Somebody should ask the candidates...

McCain on the southern border fence:
“By the way, I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.”
Obama and Clinton, in front of Hispanic voters in Texas:
Clinton said of a border fence, "there may be limited places where it would work. But let's deploy more technology and personnel, instead of the physical barrier."
"This is an area where Senator Clinton and I almost entirely agree," said Obama.
Perhaps someone should ask them about this border fence, made possible in part by the good ole US of A.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Do curveballs really curve?

Der Speigel has an update on Curveball, the notorious hero of the left who has become near legendary for single-handedly causing the Iraq war based on drunken fabricatio..

We interrupt this narrative for breaking news...
A video recording of a meeting between Saddam and Yasser Arafat on April 19, 1990, showed Saddam threatening to assassinate then president George Bush. "We may not be able to reach Washington, but we could send someone with an explosives belt to Washington," Saddam told Arafat, three months before the invasion of Kuwait.

"We can send people to Washington. A man with an explosives belt could throw himself on Bush's car."
Taken from the captured Harmony documents found in Iraq, of which only 15 percent have been translated into English.

ns. Being Speigel they tossed in the obligatory "neocons" and "warmongers" when describing the Bush administration, but all in all it's an interesting look at a true enigma and leaves hanging many of the same questions asked after the last Curveball story in late 2007. In a nutshell:

> Why did he choose Germany? Did Deutchland display a friendlier attitude to Middle Easterners compared to other European countries? After all, Atta headquarted his 9/11 cell in Hamburg around the same time Curveball arrived.

> Why did he continue the lie after 9/11 and especially after Bush started talking about nailing Saddam? Seems the self-preservation instinct would have prompted a gradual walk back of the cat after he realized how serious things were getting. As far as we know, he's never admitted to lying and we there's no disagreement that he worked in the CDEC facility.

> Why is the BND still protecting him? Euro-liberal guilt? Fear of embarrassment via interviews to western or eastern media? Something else entirely?

> Why did Iraq put him in a top secret bio facility if his character was so poor and he got D grades in college? Connections? This facility was overseen by Hussein (not Barack) Kamel, Saddam's late son-in-law who famously defected in 1995 and told the UN of an extensive bioweapons program in Saddam's past (but claimed everything had since been destroyed).

> Why did Saddam ever allow such a person to leave and get away with it? When he left in 1998 Saddam and the UN had reached a showdown and the bombing was about to began. Does it strain credulity to think Saddam might have sent agents out with hopes they'd be caught and tell western governments what he wanted them to hear? Perhaps Curveball decided to turncoat. His mother said he had American posters on the wall in his room.

Maybe Curveball is living proof of the failure of the Bush presidency and illustrates how dangerous conventional wisdom can be when coupled with two terror attacks in the span of two months, one which featured the very same substance he was warning about, with a president well-schooled in the business of oil but little else. Or perhaps it illustrates that the curveball itself is merely an illusion.


Since religion and faith have been getting quite a workout in the press this past week, one in which I've devoted an inordinate amount of time and type, here are some capping thoughts:

Happy all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Side tracks

Everyone's talking about race and here we go forgetting the American Indians again. The better half has some Cherokee blood in her but not enough to avoid checking "typical white person" on the census form. Here's a somewhat more famous "half-breed"...

And yet another song mentioning Memphis.

Wallace walkout

The media and blogosphere were buzzing Friday about Chris Wallace of Fox News laying into his fellow commentators on Fox and Friends over their nonstop coverage of the typical white person comment, linked here in the previous post. But was it legit or perhaps a tad sensational?

Obama's campaign wasted no time getting out a statement on the matter, which reads in part:
We appreciate Chris Wallace for doing his job as a tough but fair journalist on a network that has been deeply irresponsible over the last week in its unrelenting and sensationalistic coverage of Sen. Obama.
Never mind that Obama has largely ignored Fox for the entire campaign--not a problem unless someone is running on a platform of bringing people together. Everyone except those nasty neocons (said in an Elmer Fudd voice).

By the way, has anyone of substance questioned the wisdom of Obama's campaign staff in their shotgunning of press releases before events become known? Their candidate is also running as one with superior judgment, but in retrospect they look kind of silly after the passport spying thing ended up being a bi-partisan snoop job. Fred Thompson's campaign would have never skated so easily.

But there's one more thing to consider--Wallace's "Obama Watch". Wonder where that stands now?

Peck and Wright

This is choice. Sam Stein over at Huffpo thinks he's wiggled reverend Wright off the hook on his incendiary comments about 9/11 by attributing them to Ambassador Edward Peck, who he points out is a white man (no, he didn't say typical).

Stein seems clueless that it makes not one fiddler's damn whether Peck is white or black--he's still a blame America first type of guy, very much like Wright. To wit, here he is featured on Air America's website asking for a reopening of the 9/11 investigation:
* Signatory: Petition requesting a reinvestigation of 9/11:
"We want truthful answers to question. … As Americans of conscience, we ask for four things:
o An immediate investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
o Immediate investigation in Congressional Hearings.
o Media attention to scrutinize and investigate the evidence.
o The formation of a truly independent citizens-based inquiry."
Truthery delicious! Included on this list was Joe Wilson and his VIPs friends along with Ron Paul, Scott Ritter, and Dennis Kucinich. And notice the irony of demanding that New York's own Client 9 start the investigation. Maybe he was tied up at the time. Or maybe the reverend's next expose will be how the CIA exposed Spitzer's porn romp to stop him from getting the real truth..

Need more about Peck? He was formerly involved with something called the "Council for the National Interest", which appears to be a little on the anti-Israel side. He was chosen to meet with Hizballah terror leader Hassan Nasrallah after the Israeli-Lebanon war in 2006, then came back and said:
One of the things that concerns me, of course, is that I am not convinced that it’s the capture of those two soldiers, which has provoked this horrific Israeli response. I believe they were looking for an excuse, and there it was, and this is what’s happened since.
Huffpo reminds us of how Peck apologized for Saddam in the 2001 interview with Fox, essentially throwing out the "he won't work with bin Laden due to philosophical differences" line the left loves to use. Ironically in the above interview the subject of Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 came up (brought up by Nasrallah), an event most believe led to the creation of Hizballah, which eventually led to many, many American deaths. Iran just honored one of the founders with a stamp.

What never gets mentioned is the role Saddam Hussein in that war. The casus belli given by Israel was the assassination attempt on their ambassador to England Shlomo Argov in London by the Abu Nidal Organization. What about Abu Nidal? Let's turn to the foreign service experts at the CFR:
Has the Abu Nidal Organization received state support?

Yes. Iraq, Syria, and Libya have all harbored the group and given it training, logistical support, and funding, often using the ANO as guns for hire. Abu Nidal began working with Iraqi intelligence while representing Fatah in Baghdad, experts say. He formed his organization with Iraq’s help and began by attacking Syria and the PLO. In 1983, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein expelled Abu Nidal and his group in an attempt to win U.S. military support for Iraq’s 1980s war with neighboring Iran. Once the war ended, Iraq resumed its support of Abu Nidal.
You remember Abu Nidal, the man who committed suicide in 2002 by shooting himself in the head--several times--upon a friendly visit from Iraqi Intelligence.

Mr. Peck would have us believe Uncle Saddam was a harmless old fart incapable of working with Islamic terrorists. Unfortunately the recent assessment of the Joint Forces Command doesn't agree. But it shouldn't be surprising--Saddam had Allah Akbar pasted on his own flag. Of course he could, and did, work with Islamists if he felt he could leverage them.

And that's really the point--just because someone was in the foreign service, or even president, doesn't automatically mean they are correct. Wright was agreeing with this man's distorted opinions from the pulpit, not denying or rebuking them. That's only relevant due to his mentor relationship with Obama, otherwise only his flock would care. As to race, Stein misses the fact that it was Wright who told his audience the man's color. The rest was just conspiratorial pablum designed to inflame an America-blaming congregation. Good thing Obama didn't hear it and doesn't agree.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A force field of sorts

Yet another post on Obama.

The man of change was confronted by Larry King last night about his characterization of his maternal granny as "typical". You can watch the fumbling response here.

Needless to say if the comment were uttered by McCain in the inverse his career might have been abruptly terminated, but the double standard isn't news. Obama floats on, confident that during any tough interview he can always revert back to a vision of a harmonious Utopian future with instant starry-eyed forgiveness following. Nothing not tried before, but others have never gotten away with it. Obama has.

Here's one from the memory hole, where he claims ownership in the Selma movement because his bi-racial parents wouldn't have gotten hitched without their brave actions. Little matter that he was born before the famous march:

Would a black Republican candidate escape without being called a panderer? They'd stop short of calling him an idiot for fear of igniting any racial sympathies--such charges are reserved only for white GOP men. But who in the media desires a war against change, hope and the struggle of minorities, especially if their own background consists of a comfortable suburban upbringing followed by journalism school? Too much absolute moral authority to challenge.

Obama represents a kind of third rail of journalism. The predominately white and Democrat-voting media wants little to do with racism debates unless they can blame the usual suspects--white southern racists such as David Duke, or pastors like Bob Jones, or stories about the Rebel flag. But certainly they realize that any truly deep debate about race in America would eventually unmask their own industry, hardly a shining example of the affirmative action many of them write stories about, exemplified by this.

If Barack's team was smart they'd figure the best way out of the Wright mess was to march the debate towards that guilt and away from his former mentor's interesting background, which brings to light Obama's primary experience consisting of community organizing:
After many lectures like this, Obama decided to take a second look at Wright's church. Older pastors warned him that Trinity was for "Buppies"--black urban professionals--and didn't have enough street cred. But Wright was a former Muslim and black nationalist who had studied at Howard and Chicago, and Trinity's guiding principles--what the church calls the "Black Value System"--included a "Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness.'"
Considering the above it's hardly surprising he's never been grilled on exactly what his change might consist of when juxtaposed with his background. Liberals tend to get mad when told they must take Bush's word for it on things like national security surveillance programs but are quite OK with taking Barack's word on his version of change, whatever that might be.

So far the media is largely content with remaining on the sidelines and letting right wingers ask the probing questions then piling on when the racism charges are leveled. Geraldine Ferarro broke that mold, no doubt in a last ditch attempt to save Hillary's career by cracking open Barack's veneer. Bill Clinton had already tried and failed--indeed only a female liberal Democrat had any chance without being branded a racist, and she was anyway.

So it'll be interesting to see whether the door on Obama's past has been slammed shut by this recent event or whether this kind of nonstop coverage can continue much longer without backfiring. Such might determine whether a brokered convention will produce a broken party, or a candidate covered with the strongest teflon ever seen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Let me say this upfront--I have no news to add here, only a comment about the crack in the space-time continuum over at Olby's house over this passport story. They might have set a new record for asking "what did Bush know and when did he know it"? Speaking of crack, Olby turned to his crack team of fair and balanced contributors consisting of Howard Fineman, David Shuster and Andrea Mitchell. Keith is already giving us a range from Watergate to nothing, stressing the Watergate end. And the Obama folks are already blaming Bush.

The panel talked often about George HW Bush being accused of accessing information about Clinton in 1992, rather obviously trying to suggest son was acting like father without once mentioning Hillary's FBI filegate scandal in 1993. Think about it--who gains more from accessing Obama's files, a lame duck president or a desperate Hillary Clinton?

This should be interesting.

MORE 3/20/08

Well, since Keith and crew are spinnin' and speculatin' like wild, let's join him! Why would the Bush administration want to leak this story NOW? Barack is on the hot seat with Wright, et al, so they pick this time to torpedo the worst story on Obama to date? Make no sense. It makes more sense for Barack's campaign to have picked today to bring this out somehow. After all, they sure had their statements ready and waiting to go..

MORE 3/21/08

What's in a passport file? Not much, according to Jeralyn Merritt. Be sure to read to the end where she ponders whether Obama operatives might have been the source for the reporter who subsequently contacted State officials for comment and broke the story. Of course, she would say that, being a Clinton supporter and typical white person.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back to the business of bash

Today is the first day of the rest of Obama's life and he's using it to the best of his ability. The brilliant speech is history--the problem was successfully shifted to an unsolvable debate where he holds the moral high ground. Mission accomplished! Time to get back to bashing Hillary for her crummy judgment and McCain for wanting to defeat terrorism in any place other than Afghanistan or Pakistan.

He spoke today at Fort Bragg on the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war, suggesting to the crowd that only his superior judgment will end a war Saddam Hussein started years ago and had never stopped waging. Evidently there was no mention of such incidental tidbits like winning or losing, leaving the impression that an Obama presidency might indeed give the Butcher a posthumous win in his "mother of all battles". Someone did bother to question his judgment vis a vis Pakistan, though:
Obama also defended his contention that the United States should act on intelligence about top terrorist targets in Pakistan even if President Pervez Musharraf refuses — a statement last year that drew criticism from Republicans.

"We have a security gap when candidates say they will follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, but refuse to follow him where he actually goes," Obama said, referring to McCain's vow to chase down bin Laden.
Zow, boom--a zinger, at least on the surface. But as MacRanger described yesterday, his judgment is a mile wide and an inch deep.

He's basically saying he'll violate sovereignty of any country in the world based on intel reports. Think about that in context to his criticism of Hillary and Bush for going after Saddam--based on intel reports. Sounds like some serious cowboy diplomacy.

Dare we dig deeper without being called racially divisive? For instance, would he unilaterally invade Russia if intel reports suggested bin Laden was spotted crossing the Urals in one of those furry hats? What if intel reports placed him in Mecca? Would Obama willy nilly send in the 3rd ID blasting "onward Christian soldiers" from the tanks? Hey, has anyone asked Tancredo who he's backing?!

Obama apparently cares not whit one about the delicate political issues of a Muslim country possessing nukes as long as intel reports show the bad guys roaming around (even if they attacked America because we deserved it). Yet somehow removing a secular dictator, apparently at odds with the Islamofascists (except when Clinton was king) stirred up an entire international hornet's nest of Islamofascists in rage against America for taking out said leader, a man they never respected and were not associated with in any way. But magically, proposing unilateral goose chases of those same terrorists in other places will somehow endear the entire world to America again.

Perhaps the mainstream media can figure all of this out, that is, if they've recovered from their speech hangover yet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back to the future

Looks like Obama will attempt to explain himself on religion tomorrow in a new speech. Ben Smith at Politico compares it to the Romney speech and points out that effort never really dispelled the Mormon thing, but there's a glaring difference--Romney wasn't trying to explain a lie.

No need to get too deep into the weeds--either he'll admit he fudged the truth or spin like a new Maytag. Based on actions to date the second choice looks more probable, matter of fact it wouldn't be surprising to hear him say Wright was merely offering him some Mentos (the freshmaker) when he mistook it for an offer to be his mentor (don't blame me, I'm just trying to follow the story):
An adviser said that Obama wants to contain the Wright story. He worries that the 1960s-to-1980s prism of race is what everyone has read into it, and Obama wants to move the discussion forward..
Here's an alternate explanation--people are just pissed or perplexed.

If he uses the speech to make a veiled accusation against those who got upset that his friend Jeremiah calls Jesus black, America a land of racist murderers, and Louis Farrakhan a hero his boat will be on the bottom in record time. But if he fesses up to his little fib then explains the black choiwch experience followed by an immediate return to the future he might be able to repair the teflon cloak he's been wrapped in during the entire election and keep the subject far off limits the rest of the way.

Whatever the case it's clear the good ship Obama is listing hard to port (or would it be starboard?). The captain has no choice but to pull hard on the boat anchor known as Wright lest it keep dragging him down to the bottom or show up on a 527 commercial for McCain (which the Maverick will criticize even though he's partially responsible for 527s). It could go either way, but never underestimate a professional orator and a forgiving public.

MORE 3/17/08

Everyone keeps accusing Obama of talking out of both sides of his mouth when he says he wants to heal the racial divide yet took years to realize the divisiveness of his own preacher. But has anyone ever quizzed Barack about his exact cure? Surely Reverend Wright also has a few ideas about how to heal the divide. Perhaps someone should ask the candidate how their solutions might differ.

MORE 3/18/08

Barack admitted to telling a fib in a sort of Clintonesque word-parsing way. He didn't apologize. And he didn't impress.

From what I gather he now admits to an awareness of Wright's controversial views he didn't have this past Friday night, yet his pastor remains an inspiring figure in a benevolent cranky uncle kind of way. We didn't get an explanation of what constitutes his idea of "controversial". Will he be asked to explain? Are we to assume the few clips we've seen of Wright represent the complete library of his worst pop-offs or will Obama have more denials coming up should a few more spring forth from the woodwork?

Overall, the speech lacked the passion of his normal speeches, evident in tone of voice and body language. The attempt to drive the issue into a racial debate, with a subtle assertion that angry Americans are just killing the messenger represents politics as usual, plain and simple. Sure, we still have issues with race but Obama is living proof things have improved. He touched on that in the speech, probably not with the goal of solving or healing but of muddying the waters. Such represents the crux.

He continues to tout his judgment on Iraq but heck, every liberal I know was against going into Iraq and none of them should ever get near the Oval Office. This was a chance to spotlight his wares to a mass audience and all we saw were fibbing, parsing and deflecting. He's promising, he's good, but he's not ready yet.

MORE 3/18/08

Maybe I should have called this post "Barack to the future". Alright, OK, I'm no professional writer/blogger! But this guy is...and he basically nails it for me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Trinity pushes back

Not the actual Trinity (unless the Atlanta tornado or the raping of a 5 month old baby are taken as signs of the end times), rather the Trinity UCC church, former home of the man who apparently inspired Barack Obama in his quest to build bridges and bring people together:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's former church sharply criticized the media Sunday for recent coverage of his past controversial sermons, saying in a statement that Wright's "character is being assassinated in the public sphere."
Very weird, since the big media has up til now all but ignored most of the spittle-flecked rantings of the man they've portrayed as a mentor who led the candidate to Jesus. Or rather, black Jesus.

Getting defensive is OK--after all Mike Huckabee lived it up til the end, accusing fellow conservatives and secular media figures of holding him to a different standard due to his background as a pastor. And Mitt Romney had so much defensiveness he devoted an entire speech to defending his religion. But is there more in play?

On Friday Obama was wounded like a heavyweight. On Saturday he came out speaking about the forces of division raising their ugly heads, which seemed like a veiled insinuation against someone for dividing something by pointing out the political leanings of the people he admires. Now his church seems to be saying that exposing those sermons amounts to character assassination, as if taking the Lord's name in vein to describe a country that allowed Michelle Obama to become a lawyer or laying the Ward Churchill analogy on 9/11 amounts to pleasant Sunday puffery. But wait, since Obama himself strongly disavowed the sermons does that mean he's part of the assassination team? Confusing.

It's possible we're seeing a sort of pre-emptive strike against the weak and trembly media, 'til now afraid to tiptoe very far into the valley of the shadow of death but who might now entertain the idea of further investigation into whether Obama's cognitive abilities sporadically zoned out during the last 20 years, especially after seeing the overnight ratings they got from reporting on Wright.

Whatever, in an interest in not losing the moment here's an attempt to recap: Obama is now fighting hard to heal the wounds produced by his own former pastor, whom he never payed much attention to anyway, therefore any further attention to the matter represents the ugly forces of division raising their ugly head(s). Or in the Catholic tradition, say a few "O-bom-A's" and sin no more.

Oh, and if anyone is offended by the above opinion they might be guilty of character assassination.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Go ahead, knock off the battery

Those old enough might remember the commercial where Robert Conrad, noted for his portrayal of James T. West in the Wild, Wild, West, would dare people to knock the battery off his shoulder.

What does this have to with anything? Well, anyone paying attention knows the Democrat party is heading for a self-induced trainwreck at the moment. If Hillary and company are actually behind Obama's mentor meltdown--and one could speculate it all began with Geraldine Ferraro last week--then it certainly suggests they're setting the final plan for snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at the expense of the black guy.

But at the same time, throwing Obama under the same bus he just threw pastor Wright would be fraught with peril for the DNC. Feeling betrayed, blacks might stay home en mass in the general election or worse, it might set back racial relations in America for years, ultimately something that would be blamed on the Clintons and Deans and those running the party.

Obama still has the lead. He still has the delegates. He still has the charm, albeit tarnished. His camp is still in the position of figuratively saying "go ahead DNC, I dare you to knock this battery off our shoulder and take away this nomination, disenfranchising all those voters". Will they?

An aside, when factoring everything, including the Michigan and Florida disasters, why isn't Howard Dean getting more blame?

Maybe Dean has the final plan close to his vest. Surely it involves blaming the Republicans somehow but whatever the case it seems a super ingenious solution might be the only way to avoid the meltdown while still getting Hillary the crown. At this stage of the game Obama can't win a general election against a war hero holding the baggage he's holding.

MORE 3/15/08

A word on the letter Reverend Wright sent to the New York Times complaining about a 2007 article gleaned from a sit-down between himself and reporter Jodi Kantor about Obama's pastoral snub at the campaign announcement party (via JOM). A few excerpts:
I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was
This comment seems juxtaposed to Bush, who was rumored to have not known about the divisions of Islam when elected, which is hard to buy based on his long relationship with Cheney, Baker, and his own dad, who all understood those divisions with crystal clarity.

Besides, how is Barack more capable of understanding the inner workings of Islam if he was born in Hawaii, sent to a madrassas (in name only) as a tot in Indonesia, then came directly to America? We've been told his grandmother wasn't Muslim then was, and that he didn't visit the old family in Africa until he was an adult. His supporters have bent over backwards to tell us Obama is not Muslim, so how would he understand Islam any better than say Hillary or McCain?
I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed.
Nice to see, although being a Christian usually requires a certain level of witnessing to non-believers. But it's clear he was referring to fundamentalists, probably of Christian stripe because he just talked highly of Barack's knowledge of Islam (some of whom delight in sending non-converts directly to their version of hell).
I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before
The Reverend shares a similar distaste for the Times with conservatives--maybe Barack really can unite America!
Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior.
Stark leftist boilerplate, coming from a preacher no less. Speaking of blogs, that could have been lifted off Kos. And it's interesting he mentions a Times connection to outing Valerie Plame, ie, Judy Miller. Does he have inside info? Because conventional wisdom says Miller never reported on the information she had about "Valery Flame" but that Times reporter Nic Kristoff did, allowing Joe Wilson's "Bush lied" charge to get legs. One more:
Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana.
I'm going out on a limb and saying Ms Kantor might be Jewish. Based on Wright's tributes to Farrakhan, whose views on the Jews are legend, is it a stretch to wonder if this was softly antisemitic? Perhaps not, perhaps it was just an appeal to her religion, but when one lies down with the leader of a group espousing conspiratorial views of a zionist corporate media it's hard to tell.

As his supporters point out, Wright is not on the ballot so how does any of this affect Obama? It's a good point, but the answer was made clear by the way Obama addressed his former mentor. He told Fox's Major Garrett he would have quit the church had he known about the firebrand rhetoric, which is transparently disingenuous. Why not come out and say he was a member of Trinity to experience firsthand the needs/concerns of the black street while having the other foot in the white world of politics? It would fit his theme better, in other words, one can't bring together what one doesn't understand. Instead he acted rather like a politician of old, not a man of change.

MORE 3/15/08

While Mark Penn might be convinced Obama can't win, the memo has yet to reach Obama. With "former pastor" Wright safely ensconced under the Barack bus he was stumpin' in Indiana today and back on the bringing America together bandwagon. It's clear his strategy is to press on and hope the media hasn't the stones to continue pursuing the story now that he's disavowed Wright.

As pointed out frequently, Obama sounds good. He could make an IRS 1040 form sound inspiring. In speaking today about fixing America's divide he was right on target. He says people want to move forward and get to that place. Most do. But until we understand which way his head was nodding during Reverend Wright's "rough stuff" sermons--at least the ones he heard--we can't know for sure whether Barack himself wants to get to that place or is just saying what's necessary to garner the white vote.

It certainly would be much more convincing had he been a member of a mixed-race congregation church whose preacher spoke mainly of the soul rather than cussword-laced screeds against rich white people and Bush. Whether that's standard fare in some black churches I haven't a clue, but such rhetoric isn't standard in most churches I've ever attended.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The enemy is (B)us(h)

The House has passed a doomed version of Senate 2248 without immunity for the telecoms who helped the government track terrorists. Michael Goldfarb from the Weekly Standard blog asks:
By taking weeks to pass a bill with no chance of enactment, the House is intentionally wasting time in the effort to get a reauthorization of the program signed into law. Why do they want to prolong the period of time that our nation's terrorist surveillance program is weakened? And if they are serious about this law, then why would they drag out the debate with pointless actions such as the one the House took today--particularly when Congress is beginning a two-week recess?
Here's a stab. As he alludes, they can't be serious otherwise it would have been defeated on principle so we know their goal is political posturing. But it might also be a game of chicken. In other words, the longer they delay passage and the country goes without this protection Bush has called critical, and no terrorist attacks occur, the more it will make the program itself look unnecessary and non-critical (despite the fact the Dems on the intel committees are fully aware of threats).

And if there's an attack during the Democrat stall? Two routes seem available. The truther route would be less preferred, blaming the attack directly on Bush via black ops agents headed by someone evil like Karl Rove. A more mainstream explanation would be condemning and blaming the terrorists, then explaining their anger was solely based on our illegal invasion of Iraq. We would then be reminded that Obama warned us about going to Iraq in 2002, ergo, if elected, Obama will save us by withdrawing. As to factual assistance from the mainstream press on any of this, based on the handling of Katrina and the recent Pentagon report on Iraq we can't expect much more than rehashed democrat talking points. It's a win-win.

All is forgiven?

Barack has come out with a strong denunciation of his former pastor's publicized blame America talk. It's a solid statement, seemingly rejecting his former spiritual adviser and unpaid campaign adviser, but is it enough?

For instance, where was any of this when he was still neck and neck with Hillary? Most of the other candidates had their closets cleaned by the media back in 2007. Perhaps his was as well and nobody cared until he became a contender, or perhaps too many were afraid to go there, as per Geraldine Ferraro.

Whatever the case, this section of the statement seems rather unconvincing:
The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
It's hard to believe Reverend Wright was totally out of character in those snippets. Rather, they seem rather impassioned and totally in character, especially considering the ties with Louis Farrakhan. Thing is, will anyone dare pursue this matter with the candidate beyond this point?

MORE 3/14/08

To the amazement of many, including me, Obama went ahead and tossed reverend Wright under the bus. My thought was that he'd wait until getting the nomination but maybe he felt the nomination was in jeopardy if he didn't. Chances are Wright was consulted on the move. His last consultation, perhaps. Then again, who'll know?

MORE 3/15/08

For a guy running on the idea that his judgment is better for that all-important 3AM call, he certainly isn't endorsing himself very highly.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pentagon Iraq report part deux

The non-release of the report was pretty weird, but it's possible they leaked to McClatchy early as a trial balloon and didn't like how the headlines were going. ABC has the report and is even suggesting the non-release might be a government conspiracy, fearing the consequences of massive "no operational ties" coverage. As if we haven't already seen this with the 9/11 Commission report.

Thing is, the report can't hurt Bush, it only stands to help Obama and hurt both McCain and Hillary based on the likely spin, which doubtfully would ever include the abstract:
Because Saddam's security organizations and Osama bin Laden's terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term), considerable overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the same outside groups. This created both the appearance of and, in some way, a "de facto" link between the organizations. At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust.
Dare we say the MSM 'cherry-picked' this report?

As to Obama, he's sitting on a long thin limb as to Iraq. If anything should ever surface suggesting even the tiniest of connections between Saddam and AQ the man of change will suddenly become the man of burnt toast, as he's staked his entire judgment argument on an early opposition to the war. Dare we blame the MSM for carrying his water on this one?

Gridlock solution, nanny style

Why build new roads when you can just punish the drivers? A Colorado state senator has set up a web site to allow the public to collectively 'fix' the traffic problems on I-70 west of Denver during ski season and unsurprisingly, pure democracy has led to partial insanity:
If Romer's bill passed, cameras would take pictures of license plates and bill the owners of cars and trucks with fewer than three occupants during rush hours. The revenue would go first to paying for the cameras and other costs of the pilot project.

The money would next pay for parking lots at the top and bottom of the toll route where truckers could wait out the rush hour and avoid paying. Finally, it would help pay for bus service from Denver to and from the I-70 ski resorts
Not sure they can even do this since interstate 70 is a federal highway, surely protected by the Interstate Commerce Clause. It's the same as saying "ban all trains through our town from sunset to sunrise because they're noisy". Won't work. A free flow of commerce benefits everyone, which is why it can't be micromanaged by every little map dot along the route.

In the old days the solution would have been to build new roads or increase capacity on the existing ones. I-70 presents a unique problem due to the geography, including a tunnel, and it's a complex issue. The disturbing thing here are the short-sighted and selfish solutions coming from the public, reminiscent of the global warming issue. Trucks are carrying goods and commodities 7 days a week while most of the cars causing the weekend gridlock are going to the ski reports or sightseeing. Yet their selfish solution is to demonize and punish the truckers. And they've actually found a nut in their statehouse to carry the water.


Everyone's been hatin' on Geraldine for her comments about Obama but it's hard to top Barack's mentor the Reverend Wright, who has some clarity for us:

Jesus was a black man living in a country controlled by rich white men? Hillary's never been called the N word? Mercy sakes, reverend. Weird thing is, the Hillary camp will probably be secretly applauding since they've been desperately trying to bait Obama into the gutter since South Carolina. First Bill, now Geraldine.

Really, is there anyone left who doesn't think the Democrat Party is heading for a trainwreck of epic proportions? Who will be their savior?

MORE 3/13/08

The above video was found on Huffington Post, which provided little information about time/place. It's a very bad audio synch, prompting a few to question it's authenticity. Sorry, but it's real. More here and here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Better than you

In the wake of Eliot Spitzer's sudden retirement from the New York state government due to an abuse of office we're going to hear a lot about how power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Of late, liberals have outnumbered conservatives in turning that phrase against George Bush and his "illegal war" in Iraq, or wiretapping, or prison detention, etc. To protect against hypocrisy some of those folks will now be forced to admit that axiom must also apply to Spitzer (although that's only about sex). But how many will be willing to take it another step and say it might also apply to the global warming establishment?

It's clear the governor felt himself above the law. Nothing unusual--even the smallest of small-town police officers have been known to feel similarly, which is why we need competent oversight. But where is the oversight on the climate change brigade? Many of them fly around in private jets pretending their carbon footprints aren't the size of bigfoot due to phony-baloney cap and trade formulas while lecturing the little people on how we'll soon have to 'change the way we live' lest the world perish.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus, an economist and vocal critic of climate alarmism, recently pointed out the potential dangers of unchecked power in this debate:
I am afraid there are people who want to stop the economic growth, the rise in the standard of living (though not their own) and the ability of man to use the expanding wealth, science and technology for solving the actual pressing problems of mankind, especially of the developing countries. This ambition goes very much against past human experience which has always been connected with a strong motivation to better human conditions. There is no reason to make the change just now, especially with arguments based on such incomplete and faulty science. Human wants are unlimited and should stay so. Asceticism is a respectable individual attitude but should not be forcefully imposed upon the rest of us.
This coming from someone very familiar with a communist regime. Does it mean those who wish to reduce CO2 output are communists? Certainly not. But like the Spitzer situation, it does suggest the power vs corruption argument can apply anywhere there is absolute power, regardless of the rationale.

ht American Thinker

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's about judgment, dangit

That's Obama's response to the 3AM phone call ad--"trust me--I've got better judgment than she does". He repeated it recently when pushing back hard on Hillary's notion he should be her VP.

Presumably he bases that solely on his decision to oppose the Iraq war in 2002 when he was a state senator. What else? Surely it can't be his admission in 2004 that leaving Iraq too soon would be a national security nightmare?

Or that chasing a few al Qaeda members into the hills of Pakistan, if we got intel on their whereabouts, would be permissible in his administration with or without Paki permission, setting precedent for unilateral attacks across the world wherever AQ are located (that's change?). Or his self-proclaimed restriction on building national defense while waving goodbye to AQ terrorists already on the ground in Iraq.

Judgment is not confined to one event, certainly not one that might still turn out to be positive for America and the entire Middle East if things are allowed to play out right or vastly negative if we make the wrong move. Hillary has little to show for it either, but Obama's dependence on that one issue to make his case, and the press's willingness to let him do it, are farcical.

MORE 3/11/08

Does Geraldine Ferraro only get away with her comments because she's a woman, even though white? And can she please explain Ralph Nader's excuse?

My take--Ferraro is just another Hillaryshill trying to bait Obama into going full tilt racial and becoming the new Jesse Jackson, which will be painted as a losing prospect against the Johnny Mac show come November. That gives superdelegates, like Eliot Spitzer, a reason to vote against change.

MORE 3/12/08

We know Ferraro's comments were greeted coldly by the candidate of change:
"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party," Obama told Pennsylvania's Allentown Morning Call newspaper. "They are divisive. I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd. And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign they shouldn't have a place in Senator Clinton's either."
But the internets are a wonderful thing and tend to preserve all our foibles and such. From Obama's own website:
Obama acknowledges, with no small irony, that he benefits from his race.

If he were white, he once bluntly noted, he would simply be one of nine freshmen senators, almost certainly without a multimillion-dollar book deal and a shred of celebrity. Or would he have been elected at all?

Utter contempt

No, this is not about Governor Spitzer's whoremongering. As Jonathan noted, one of the reporters who passed leaked government information about Steven Hatfill, a 'person of interest' in the anthrax mailings, has been cited for contempt:
U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said Toni Locy must pay fines of up to $5,000 a day out of her own pocket as long as she continues to defy his order that she cooperate in scientist Steven J. Hatfill's lawsuit against the government.
Earlier comments are here. We'll see if the media takes much of an interest in a story so close to home. Some are covering it, like her former employer USA Today, which quoted Ms Locy as follows:
"Even mafia bosses and White House aides are allowed to have legal defense funds," Locy said. "But in Judge Walton's eyes I apparently committed a far more heinous crime: I informed the public about the status and quality of the FBI investigation into the first biological attack on U.S. soil. I respectfully disagree.
Notice the offhand reference to Scooter Libby, dripping with irony because Judge Walton presided over that trial of course. And as previously mentioned, the judge is not unfamiliar with the Lee settlement:
In his opinion, Walton frequently cited the case of a former nuclear weapons scientist, Wen Ho Lee, who was once suspected of spying. In 2004, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson fined five reporters $500 a day each for refusing to identify their sources for stories about the scientist.

After Jackson postponed the fines pending appeals, news organizations, including the AP, eventually agreed to pay Lee $750,000 as part of a $1.6 million settlement of his privacy suit against the government, based on their expectation the Supreme Court would decline to hear appeals. The high court turned away the appeal after the settlement was announced
Good for the goose is good for the gander, eh? Those were Clinton era officials being protected.

The game of chicken begins at midnight when the fines go into effect. Unlike the Lee case there's no longer a compelling incentive for the MSM to make a cash settlement because the other reporters involved have been given waivers to identify their sources and Ms. Locy no longer works for a news organization. But like the Lee case there might be an incentive for the government to contribute. At any rate it would appear Judge Walton is using her as a lever to get someone to act. We'll see who blinks first.

Relationships can be so complicated

Get ready, we're about to get a stroll back down "Saddam and bin Laden had no operational links" lane:
An exhaustive review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents that were captured after the 2003 U.S. invasion has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
Funny, a mere cursory review of some of those DOCEX documents by bloggers over a year ago turned up several contacts, to pretty much zero fanfare. Then the New York Times took interest and helped to shut it down. Apparently since Mr. "100 years in Iraq" is running for president it's now time to publish a report on them, which the Times will no doubt trumpet as soon as the Spitzer story blows over.

But our latest rehash of the neverending story uses the same trickery of language the 9/11 Commissioners used, keying on the word "operational". In other words, there is no evidence Saddam was directing the bearded boys because he never bothered to document it, but all the other stuff about him is still true.

But let's assume for a moment the report is correct and Saddam had nothing to do with pulling al Qaeda's strings whatsoever. Evidently it was only a coincidence he shared their many goals, including the destruction of Israel, the ridding of America and Britain from the Middle East, the downfall of Shiite Islam along with the Saudi royals and Iranian Mullahs, and harbored dreams of becoming the most revered Arab since Nebuchadnezzar and the only one to have used WMDs. Despite all those coincidences, there are still some things that don't add up, such as:
The Senate report, citing an FBI debriefing of a senior Iraqi spy, Faruq Hijazi, said that Saddam turned down a request for assistance by bin Laden which he made at a 1995 meeting in Sudan with an Iraqi operative.
Why, Saddam was practically a hero, he rebuffed bin Laden! But wait, we've also been told by captured AQ terrorists that bin Laden would never, ever have worked with an apostate dog like Saddam.

So, which is it? Did Saddam send Hijazi to Sudan in 1994 just to insult bin Laden if he so feared Muslim terrorists? Did AQ send Zawahiri to Baghdad in 1995 to insult Saddam in return? Are we to believe their relationship wasn't operational, it was a pissing contest? And if so, was that better than operational, or worse?