Saturday, May 31, 2008

Much ado about nothing

The silly season is now in full swing.

As any regular reader can attest I'm not a fan of Barack Obama. It's not because I don't like the man or his color, it's because he's a liberal hiding as a moderate, using happy-talk to cloak his meager experience.

But bashing him for not knowing that Alfred Hitchcock didn't actually place Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant on Jefferson's nose to film "North by Northwest" is petty. The Cap'n over at Hot Air is comparing it to Quayle's potatoe moment--maybe--but many of us on the right felt that was over the top. We should live as we preach.

By the way, North by Northwest is my number 2 fav from Hitchcock, ("Rear Window" being number one). The scene where Grant is in the auction trying to get arrested by making a scene of himself is classic.

By the way, while I'm on a soapbox I'd like to weigh in on the keffiyah kerfuffle. And it's just that--much ado about nothing. Most of the women wearing these things couldn't find the Middle East on a map and don't care. We should stick to the things that matter, like Obama's oddball associations with barking moonbat socialists dressed up as priests/preachers and domestic terrorists dressed up as educators, begging the question as to what Barack is dressed up as.

DISAVOWED 06/01/08

Well, the end has finally come after 20 long years. Funny how Obama could instantly recognize the error of taking out Saddam yet let 20 years pass before recognizing the hate in his own church. Oh well, good luck to him in finding a new church home without appearing the panderer-in-chief. Perhaps he should wait until December (of course then the evangelicals will accuse him of back-sliding).

Just wondering a little more about that cartoonish sermon from Father Pfleger the other day. Surely he knew it would go from pulpit to video to You Tube to Drudge to Fox to the reluctant MSM, causing another embarrassment for the man of change. Assuming he did can we assume it was for personal gain or something else? After all, they knew the press would be fixated on Dean's diddling with the delegates this weekend and Robert Wexler, taking a break from scheduling McClellan for testimony, sure came out in support of the movin' on narrative pretty fast, didn't he? Just sayin'.

Bully for them

Seems the global warming lobby has finally forced the White House to adopt the ongoing hysteria:
A U.S. District Court in August ordered Bush to comply with a 2004 deadline for an updated report, after the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups filed suit.
So, what is the "Center for Biological Diversity"? An enviro group, of course. According to their website:
Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, abd creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.
Interesting that a society with the word "diversity" in its name isn't very diverse--check out the staff page. While there, take note of the ratio of lawyers and advocates to climatologists or other scientists.

By the way, here's an interesting interaction between Center for Biological Diversity and Sea Shepherd, two enviro groups who advocated putting Polar Bears on the endangered species list because of global warming (even though Polar Bears are not decreasing in numbers at present). It's a save the planet pissing contest!

Hmm, maybe this is a good time for some actual data. Using James Hansen's GISS temperature database, here's the trend for Bodo Vi, Norway:

Image Hosted by

Bodo Vi is along the Norwegian coast well north of Oslo. Yes, the temps have been rising since 1985 but notice the peak in the 1930s-40s, not yet surpassed by our present warming. Scan around on the GISS site in the Arctic region and you'll find many sites with similar traces. How anyone can differentiate between these cycles, saying one is due to natural variation and another due to SUVs is beyond reason and perhaps akin to the secrets of magic. But don't worry, politicians on both sides are now firmly in control of the situation! What could possibly go wrong?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why, indeed?

One of the main McClellan charges is against the media, ie they didn't do a good enough job of harassing him, er, Ari Fleischer, in the run-up to the Iraq war regards the intel. The fact checker at the WaPo agrees (ht Macsmind).

Pardon me, but huh?

If one accepts the premise the media was complicit by not asking the administration enough tough questions beforehand then it seems one must also question why they didn't ask Bill Clinton enough tough questions years earlier, like when he said this. Or when CNN reported this. Or when ABC reported this. Watch that Sheila MacVicar video again and just marvel at where we are now.

This isn't rocket science, folks. The media didn't ask questions because they'd already answered most of them back when Clinton was scaring everyone about the evil menace known as the Butcher of Baghdad. To suddenly say that because we didn't find WMDs this very same man was somehow not worthy of removal anyway seems rather perplexing.

In effect and without saying it, McClellan seems to be saying the media should have been challenging itself. Thing is, the media was only reporting what they were being told in 1999 and 2000 when the above reports aired.

MORE 5/30/08

This is all very interesting. Katie Couric has now weighed in on her pre-war reportorial guilt and others are pointing fingers at the corporate suits for hushing any criticism of Bush's "propaganda" campaign regarding a hated figure America already knew a whole lot about before 9/11.

Obviously the premise is that the war was a complete and total failure--a worthless endeavor even though we got rid of Saddam and his minions and their support for terrorism in the region. Matter of fact, since 9/11 we've seen the departure of quite a few notorious figures--Arafat, Saddam, the Taliban, Mughniyeh, and a host of top AQ figures. Yet somehow it's been a total failure and we need change, change we can believe in. Go figure.

MORE 5/30/08

Powerline continues to point out the stark difference between MSM coverage of Feith's book and McClellan's. Meanwhile, we have the media hyenas all debating whether they were tough enough in covering the run-up. Hell, they're dropping the ball right now covering the epilogue.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The specter of Scott

Scott McClellan's new book "What Happened" has not even been released and already the left is abuzz. The administration must be thrilled to death. I'll reserve judgment about the contents for later but a few observations are possible at this point.

One, his tome will get more press and sell better than Doug Feith's, even though the latter was privy to more insider policy decisions/meetings and provided supporting documents. Two, as predicted by Stephen Hayes, McClellan's reputation will improve overnight, although there will be many who'll always consider him a tool of the devil no matter what. And three, he was not the press secretary during the run-up to war, Ari Fleischer was. Ari's book wasn't nearly as scathing despite his role in the Plame matter (he talked a lot about Helen Thomas). Fleischer remains a Bush supporter as to the importance of the war.

As to McClellan's smoking gun story about Rove and Libby meeting in the White House to discuss Plame strategy, that sounds rather hackish without supporting evidence. Nevertheless, Obama stands to benefit greatly from his insinuation especially since Rove is under Congressional subpoena. Frog-march hopes are still alive, lefties!

Meanwhile, Feith was not averse to bashing Bush as well--pointed out again by Power Line this morning--specifically for not sticking to his war rationale after the WMDs were not located. The left could certainly put two and two together and charge deception/war crimes/Satan worship if they so desired, yet for some reason Feith's book remains in the shadows. Probably all those inconvenient documents.

But overall if this book is as harsh as the previews the administration will have a tough time dismissing it. McClellan was an inner circle guy from Texas--probably like-minded on the religious front--and has known Bush a long time. While he wasn't privy to top level policy meetings like Feith he was in a better position to judge the man's personal reactions and style and that's what the media cares about.

But the pushback is fairly easy. If, as McClellan said, Bush was trying to impart change on the Middle East in reaction to 9/11 then simply blowing up terrorist camps in Afghanistan was not going to do it, he had to change the culture of the terror swamps. This simply could not be done with a man like Saddam Hussein (or his maniacal sons) in power, WMD or not. The only way to determine if he had WMD was to invade, but without the invasion nothing would have changed except perhaps the erosion of the no-fly zones and UN resolutions, which Saddam was busily subverting. The options were to allow Iraq to render the UN ineffective by continuing that practice while taking the chance he'd pass off his knowledge to like-minded proxies or, as Bush did, call the bluff.

MORE 5/29/08

Already McClellan's book has outdone anything Feith's "War and Peac, er Decision" will ever do. After all, who's interested in a book with facts and documents when they can pick one up full of innuendo, gossip and 20/20 hindsight?

McClellan's supporters are making the point it was all the nasty partisan pushback that pushed him back, ala this quote:
"People had high hopes for President Bush to bring America together after his election and after the attacks on 9/11. They felt disillusioned by the Administration's adoption of the 'win at all costs' partisan mentality in this town. I think the bigger point of Scott's book comes from the lessons he learned while playing a part in the permanent campaign. It's an exploration of how that mindset can lead to some really bad choices."
Let's get one thing straight off the bat--Bush was already flagging in popularity before 9/11, and the attack was always going to be just a blip in the polls for him. There were just too many enemies on the other side.

Turk seems to believe the Bushies are proving Scottie right by pushing back now--trashing the messenger to defend politics not principle. But in reality the push-back is natural and must occur. The left and to some extent the media have been on Bush's bad side since he was 'awarded' Florida.

Even now many high profile Democrats are trying to capitalize on this for all it's worth, ie, Wexler, ie, Pelosi, ie, the man of change himself, Barack.

McClellan doesn't seem to acknowledge the vent pipe of propaganda that has been swirling Bush's way from the get-go. F911, Loose Change, a plethora of anti-war movies, the recent HBO movie "Recount" and even the mini-series "Andromeda Strain", which was chock full of needlessly nauseating left-wing messagespeak. It's literally a juggernaut if left unchallenged. Rove knew it, which is why he pushed back, which is why they went after him so damned hard. Bush is no Reagan and never had the luxury of making an end run around the press and right to the peeps.

To some extent Scottie sounds a little naive or perhaps mildly arrogant by thinking the Bush gang could ever transform DC into something that hasn't existed since George Washington was in charge. The kitchen is hot, for better or worse. It's a hardball town, but the issues are too important to ever give up.

FINI 5/29/08

Watching McClellan on Olbermann was an exercise in the bizarre. Here we have the most divisive partisan blockhead on the planet, one who ripped Scottie a new rear exit portal when he left the White House, discussing the pitfalls of partisanship in DC. This is a man who refuses to have opposition opinion on his show for balance (like Fox) drooling about McClellan's remarks like some kind of Big Bad Wolf of broadcasting. Yet McClellan made him look like the fool he is when he reminded Keith of that Bush DID have a Democrat on the cabinet--Norm Minetta.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Uneasiness in Pakistan

Seems like something might be going down soon.

First, we hear about a leaked meeting between General Petraeus and US Ambassador for Pakistan Anne Petersen that took place in Doha, Qatar with an agenda item about bin Laden in the K2 area. No expert, but the general was recently put in charge of CENTCOM (with Ordierno taking his spot) so it might not be surprising to hear whispers about a coming American military initiative in the Afghanistan theater. After all, the snows are melting and the Afghans, at least some of them, seem supportive.

Today Hot Air posted a Pakistani story on Baitullah Mehsud, the new bully on the block who in the past has suggested that bin Laden is dead and seems to be holding that thought, at least when not in front of TV reporters. Remember, it's OK to lie for jihad. But that would be quite interesting since none other than Benazir Bhutto slipped this morsel out in an interview with David Frost before her untimely death last year:

If bin Laden is actually dead (which wouldn't be surprising based on the pathetic technical quality of his last video) then who's playing his part and why?

It actually makes more sense to believe this is Pakistani wishful thinking or disinformation. No matter how much trash-talking they do one has to believe the thoughts of a US/NATO incursion into their beloved terrortories will wet some britches. Guess we'll see, but make no mistake that whatever we do the far left (and maybe even some in the moderate left) will blame it on presidential politics.

MORE 5/27/08

More sensational news. Interesting that Mehsud just implied that Pakistan should use its nuclear arsenal to help the jihadis, and they've got a new government in Islamabad willing to make deals with people like Mehsud. AJ Strata thinks Meshud was blabbing to cover for the bearded cave freaks because we're closing in on him. That sounds possible, with this WMD story is coming from jihad, inc. designed to scare the west from pursuing any further.

It's not out of the question that bin Laden could have a small-scale WMD deterrence capability. We know he was pursuing them. We thought as much about Saddam but his situation was somewhat different due to the nature of state politics whereas the cave freaks don't have any such worries. All they need is a favorable fatwa and a wink from the right sponsors.

Aviation news

Over the weekend a Continental airlines flight reported an encounter with what looked to be a "rocket". Apparently the crew saw an object pass them trailing smoke. The article doesn't say anything about heat-seeking missiles per se, but it certainly leaves that concept dangling by speculating about model rockets. Missiles also tend to trail smoke but depending on altitude and type it's doubtful a missile would have just whizzed on past. This was interesting, though:
Model rockets can be made of cardboard and glue or have aluminum air frames, he said. Rockets also have no difficulty reaching the 30,000 to 40,000 feet, the altitude at which an airliner may cruise.
They say shoulder fired missiles could not have reached TWA 800 at even 14,500 feet but to think a paper model could reach the flight levels (above 18,000 feet give or take) is a bit disconcerting.

There was another encounter several years ago off the California coast that was blamed on a bottle rocket. Not sure what the resolution was but the implications are still around.

In other news, the British Airways 777 that landed short of London's Heathrow Airport earlier this year is still a mystery:
"This is a great mystery, and I never expected this accident to be this difficult to solve, given the state-of-art tools on the plane and the fact that the aircraft was largely intact," Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, told the Washington Post this week. "This has potentially broad implications that go beyond this one airplane, depending on what they find."
In a different vein, this video shows some very strange clouds. Apparently there are still a few things up there we don't quite understand. Somebody please inform Mr. Gore.

Finally, a Kalitta Air Boeing 747 broke in half during an aborted takeoff in Brussels over the weekend. The cargo craft was heading for Bahrain under contract with DHL. Since the plane ended up 300 yards off the end of the runway but it's unclear whether the breakup was caused by running off the pavement or was responsible for the "loud noise" the captain reported hearing during roll out, which caused him to abort. This pilot forum has more, including rank speculation, of course!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Memorial Day makes most Americans think of the fighting men who gave their all for the country but quite often we tend to overlook the war fought right here.

Most have seen Emanuel Leutze's painting of Washington's crossing of the Delaware. How many know the story about the lead oarsman, taken to be Prince Whipple, a black man from a wealthy family in Africa sent to America for education but who instead was sold into slavery? Actually, Whipple wasn't in the boat that night but did serve valiantly in the war, later being freed and settling in New England with a wife and family.

Of course the story of Nathan Hale is told to all school children and he's generally recognized as the first spy killed in action. His death was perhaps the lowest point of the war as Washington had lost badly in the battle of Brooklyn and was being chased out of the New York area by a superior British force. Washington needed information but many New York residents were siding with the British. As a result, far too many of his ragtag band of patriots were paying the ultimate price.

Those failures led to the development of "Knowlton's Rangers" and the beginnings of spycraft and elite units in the services:
In the string of news images, one in particular is rich in historical significance, a reminder that the American clandestine tradition is more than two centuries old. During early fighting with the Taliban, an official photograph showed American special operations soldiers riding into battle on horseback. The picture revealed the austere military environment in Afghanistan.

It also provided a link to the secret side of the Revolutionary War. America's first elite, clandestine unit—Knowlton's Rangers—undertook missions for George Washington. The men photographed in Afghanistan, as well as the Army Rangers, Special Forces, Delta Force, and army intelligence, trace their origins to Knowlton's command.
Most accounts of Nathan Hale suggest he wasn't a very good spy--he was certainly fingered quickly and didn't get the job done--nevertheless it takes a special person to volunteer and he'll always be a hero for it, as were the many others who served our nation in the intelligence shadows.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lack of Feith

OK, a poor pun based on the correct pronunciation of his name (fight-th). The Power Liners had a post today about the lack of mainstream media interest in his new insider book "War and Decision" (gee). They note the particularly interesting silence coming from the employer of James Risen--the New York Times. To wit:
Risen immediately recognized the importance of War and Decision. According to Feith, Risen requested and received a pre-publication copy of the book, interviewed Feith, and wrote a piece highlighting book's most newsworthy item -- the Bush administration’s postwar plan for political transition in Iraq (the one most people who follow these things probably believe didn't exist). Risen's editor, however, turned the article down on the ground that it was not newsworthy.
Risen didn't think it was political, and granted, Feith's literary talent doesn't approach that of Risen or Woodward, but of course it was political. The Times certainly didn't seem to have a problem with Scheuer's anonymous missive months before an election. We all know who stands to lose from a reversal of the conventional wisdom on Iraq--and it's not just Obama. Rehashing the war might also dredge up memories of the Times' own contributions.

But after reading most of the book it's odd neither the Times nor Post decided to challenge it. It was clearly an exercise in self-defense against the popularized accounts from other high profile administration officials and the news organizations that conveyed them. For instance, they could have started on page 211:
A dialogue with Iraq would be "an astonishing departure" for the US Government, Rumsfeld wrote, noting that he had met with Saddam when he worked for President Reagan in the mid 80s. Starting a dialogue would "win praise from certain quarters," Rumsfeld thought, "but might cause friends, especially those in the region, to question our strength, steadiness and judgment."
They missed the opportunity to reprint the infamous Rummy-Saddam handshake picture. Or how about page 215:
No one I knew of believed Saddam was part of the 9/11 plot; we had no substantial reason to believe he was.
Good grief, Feith himself ran the Office of Special Plans, which was looking into the connections. Cheney spoke several times of the Atta in Prague affair and Laurie Mylroie, no doubt familiar to several neocons in the administration, was under the impression Saddam was behind the first attack on the WTC. James Woolsey was even sent to London to investigate the connection. Crickets.

There are also some interesting omissions. After going into detail about a very scary top secret tabletop exercise the government ran before 9/11 called "Dark Winter" regarding biological warfare, and after continually mentioning the dangers Saddam posed by potentially passing such weapons (he had smallpox) to terrorists, Feith devoted only two short blurbs to the anthrax letter attacks. Even Ari Fleischer mentioned them in more detail in his memoirs. And he gave only a few cursory mentions to the PNAC group but couldn't find space for significant details despite 400+ pages.

He also had nothing to say about Joe and Val Wilson, although he did mention a highly contentious blowup in February 2003 between Defense and State regards appointing senior advisers to the new Iraq government ministries--page 388:
In the weeks that followed, it became more common for newspaper stories to quote anonymous senior State officials, denouncing "pissant," "pencil-necked" Pentagon officials--phraseology characteristic of Richard Armitage.
Months later Armitage, Grossman and Powell would play important roles in the Plame imbroglio, with the Post's own Bob Woodward and the Times' own Judy Miller and Nic Kristoff at center state. Grossman was a friend of Joe Wilson and Powell was friendly with NBC's Andrea Mitchell. More cricketry.

It's possible the editors just felt the matter is settled--that most readers have already made up their minds and they didn't want to contribute to Feith's effort to write history. Or perhaps the real reason (other than protecting Barack's anti-war advantage) was the fact that all the players come off looking quite rational, both in his writings and the supporting documents. Feith is a source--he was there, so it's hard to argue against him without calling him a liar, which they can't support without documentary evidence, which they don't have.

Indeed, from the footnotes on page 323 regarding a NYT article about Feith's role in discussing the link between al Qaeda and Saddam: "(I was unable to correct the record: The Times did not publish my letter to the editor.)"

Perhaps they felt it better to let the sleeping dog lie.

By the way, in the footnotes to page 215 there is this:* Saddam Hussein was the only international figure, other than Usama bin Laden, to praise the attacks of 9/11. And US troops would later discover two dramatic murals--one installed in Iraqi Army headquarters--celebrating the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center."

Emphasis, added. Here's two of the more famous murals. Perhaps he's referring to the one on the right being at Army HQ:

These murals don't prove Saddam was beind 9/11, only that he seemed to approve. Feith makes the point that the Fedeyeen were training terrorists within this climate, which lends needed perspective to the questions Bush was grappling with after the attack. Ironically, there was a time when top Democrats echoed those concerns, in the innocent days before the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Meanwhile, Obama was against the war but never had to vote on it. Thanks to Bush's actions he now enjoys the luxury of not worrying about things like 'dark winters' coming from the hand of the Butcher and is free to demagogue the issue at will, expressing the judgment to lead and such.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Side tracks

With this being the weekend we honor our veterans I couldn't help but think of some military-themed songs. Here's Johnny Horton..

Who could forget Mike Curb Congregation? And Kelly?

So much for the light stuff. Wars are hell for troops, their loved ones, and most everyone involved. Nobody likes war. But most we've been involved with have liberated people in some fashion even if unpopular. Politics aside, American troops have answered the bell and fought valiantly throughout our history with many paying the ultimate price. Their sacrifices have allowed average citizens to enjoy the freedoms others only dream about--simple things such as protesting in the street or writing a blog post without the fear of being shot.

They've done a kickass job and I salute them all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

John Tanner's Tennessee FISA ad

It's one thing to demagogue the Iraq war to get elected, it's quite another to do so with a national security program the Senate overwhelmingly passed (without help from Obama and Clinton). But that's exactly what Tennessee Congressman John Tanner is doing. Here's his ad:

I just heard it driving home from work. He gave a number, so I called it. The office was closed (closes at 5pm eastern time), although it's doubtful the conversation would have been productive had someone answered. The question was going to be "what's John Tanner's alternative?"

Nobody likes the idea of phone snooping but the problem with this ad is the clear implication "Bush" is arbitrarily listening to private calls without warrants, when in fact the program is probably related to call matrixing, data mining and scanning internet instant messages and message boards, all of which involve telecom switching centers (to which the government was given drops during the Clinton era).

If the telecoms are not given immunity for previous cooperation after the biggest terrorist attack in our country's history then there's really no hope for America. Lawyers and liberal activists can't be allowed to run national security.

But it's funny how times change yet politicians don't. After 9/11 Congresswomen like Nancy Pelosi were asking the CIA if they were being harsh enough with the harsh interrogations, only later to turn the criticism around after the threat had died down (partially due to the success of Bush's programs). Think of it as consistency we can count on.

MORE 5/24/08

Wonder how Mr. Tanner would handle Kahlah al-Marri..
According to court documents citing multiple intelligence sources, al-Marri spent months in al Qaeda training camps during the late 1990s and was schooled in the science of poisons. The summer before al-Marri left for the United States, he allegedly met with Osama bin Laden and September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The two al Qaeda leaders decided al-Marri would make a perfect sleeper agent and rushed him into the U.S. before September 11, the government says.

A computer specialist, al-Marri was ordered to wreak havoc on the U.S. banking system and serve as a liaison for other al Qaeda operatives entering this country, according to a court document filed by Jeffrey Rapp, a senior member of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
And if indeed all of this was true al-Marri would have likely been triggered by whatever communication device the TSP plan is targeting, yet Tanner and like-minded individuals would as soon send telco execs to the pen.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

With liberty and fairness for all

Debbie Hamilton over at Right Truth has smacked the ball way outa the park, over the left field wall and in deference to my Cubbie-loving friend Mick Wright, out onto Waveland Avenue):
You are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ... you are not entitled to everything that you want. You are entitled to pursue all things, but you are not guaranteed you should have all of those things. There's a big difference and many Americans don't see the difference. Some people believe that they deserve all things, even if someone else has to share what they have. There's a lot wrong with this idea. Being 'equal' means we have equal freedoms, not that we have the right to equal possessions or equal wealth.

You are not entitled to a fancy house, a shiny new car, cheap gas, college education, and many other things. One problem with those on the Left politically is, they seem to think their constituents are entitled to anything they want.

Hillary Clinton thinks she is entitled to be President of the United States. Illegal aliens think they are entitled to the same rights as legal American citizens. Terrorists think they are entitled to our legal system and courts. In fact, the first words out of their mouths, when caught on the battlefield, were "I want a lawyer." Young people think they are entitled to all the worldly possessions their parents have, and have worked, scraped and saved their entire lived to accumulate.
Behold the mindset of the founders of this country. And of course, completely alien to our modern public discourse.

Unfortunately the GOP, faced with a chance to score points against a candidate lacking judgment, substance and experience, continues trying to snatch defeat from the jaws. The YouTube attack on Barama she linked was disingenuous since it distorts the actual number of Americans "owning stock" versus those invested in the stock market via mutual funds and 401Ks.

This not only diminishes the ad before it's finished but is yet another example of the politics-as-usual, head-in-sand, same-ole-same-ole, out of touch no-new-ideas tripe coming from the the grand old national party HQ right now. They need some new blood in there STAT, because the graffiti is already on the wall. This, despite this. It's as if they want to lose.

Yet they're correct in the overall sense that Obama is a liberal and liberals love taxes, and he's gonna have a tax partee like it's 1999, especially with help from a windfall of coattailing Dems coming in with him. Capital gains? Check. Payroll FICA tax cap smash? Roger. (BTW, the Democrat version of Social Security reform will be to remove any doubt about it being a tax). Death taxes back up? Yep. Repealing the Bush middle class cuts? Affirmative, plus a few others nobody has thought of yet, and all the while feeding the friendly media a lines about how he's helping the middle class before the middle class knows what hit them.

It's the age old battle under new wrapping paper. There's no real "change" involved, unless change is defined as a harder turn to port or a president breaking the color barrier. Otherwise, we've seen the show before.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Is America really "mean"?

The TNGOP's recent commercial about Michelle Obama has rekindled her other controversial statement, ie, "America is mean". Many Obama defenders have been out in force on the tubes, oddly confirming her suspicion.

But I'd like to offer a second to her "America is a mean country" lament, at least partially.

Actually I was contemplating this well before Mrs. Obama spake it. Since 9/11 it seems, at least anecdotally speaking, that people are meaner. People used to be friendlier down here in the south, now they seem colder. And driving manners? Forgetaboutit. Heck, maybe it's just me. Maybe everyone has come to the conclusion that Bush hosed everything and they can spot a clinging Bush supporter a mile away, and they're just responding appropriately. Or maybe it's just the damn gas prices.

Whatever the case, it seems America is more divided than ever. The election results from last night tend to prove it, with whites going one way and blacks the other--and that's just the Democrats. Obama paints himself the uniter but seems to be dividing a lot of people so far. Not his fault, of course.

And of course, I'm dividing people by posting this. Might as well go for the full Monty, then. And maybe this has been covered already, but anyway... when Mrs. Obama was discussing her glee about the political process energizing new voters (proud) was she actually only talking about Democrats? After all, she would have been comparing primary crowds from this year to years past but the mobs have only been impressive on the Democrat side. Surely she wasn't proud of her country for the weak turnout on the GOP side (well, on second thought).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

President plans to kill off all homosexuals

The president of Gambia, that is:
Addressing supporters at the end of his meet the farmers tour here Sunday. Jammeh also ordered any hotel or motel housing homosexuals to close down, adding that owners of such facilities would also be in trouble.

He said the Gambia was a country of believers, indicating that no sinful and immoral act as homosexual would be tolerated in the country. He warned all homosexuals in the country to leave, noting that a legislation “stricter than those in Iran ” concerning the vice would be introduced soon.
Dare we inquire as to their primary faith? Yep. Note to Barack--better get 'em on the carrot and stick list...

UN rap'ur coming to America

This story made brief news on the cable screamers last night and on blogs as well, such as PYY. Labeling it "theater of the absurd", National Review writer Niles Gardiner outlined the trip:
This week sees the arrival on U.S. soil of Doudou Diene, the U.N. special rapporteur charged with investigating “racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” in America. Diene, a French-educated lawyer from Senegal, will spend three weeks touring the country, from Washington and New York to Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Anyone with functioning brain cells might quickly tie this special rapporteur's visit with the ongoing drama for the presidency. Even Reuters made the connection!
His campaign has increased turnout among black voters but has also turned off some white voters in a country with a history of slavery and racial segregation.
By the way, which countries do NOT have a history of slavery and segregation in the past 200 years? Have any worked as hard as us to solve them? Anyway, let's introduce some possible meetings...
  • With Geraldine Ferraro, to discuss her hatred of minorities
  • With Bill Clinton on his experiences as the first black president
  • With Reverend Wright to get more info on how the AIDS virus was actually planted
  • With blacks in the NBA to discuss racism and fairness issues inherent in their league
  • With any Latino person
  • With any American Indian
  • With any Pacific Islander
  • With Imus and Al at a roundtable
  • With any of the Duke LaCrosse players
  • And with Jackie and Dunlap, for the cracker perspective
We wish him well and are glad to see he's not going to Memphis or Detroit, where he might get shot, although it has improved. Perhaps he may wish to refer to this guide.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Who can say no to Obama?

Let's see, 65,000 people heard the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democrat Party say the following:
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.
And, this:
"I want everybody to be absolutely clear about this because George Bush and McCain have suggested that me being willing to sit down with our adversaries is a sign of weakness and sign of appeasement,"
Yet none of them ran for the exits like they were being chased by Bigfoot?

Granted, it was in Portland, Oregon not Charleston, West Virginia. And granted, it's not hard to understand why they might have applauded as the factually challenged Obama distorted Bush's recent Knesset speech on the dangers of appeasing terrorists and such. Yet apparently they remained as the messiah chastised them personally for having the audacity to eat and climate control their own homes.

Change is indeed coming, the only question is whether a older man of limited charisma and oratory skills can convince an impatient, war-weary electorate he's a better choice over a younger, more vibrant, more cutting edge and history-making figure full of populist idealism--especially after eight years of Bush administration missteps and press distortions thereof, and especially since that same press will be overtly pulling for the rookie. The bets are on.


The Obama versus McCain dust up about Iran is really exposing Obama's inner policy zen:
"Thanks to George Bush's policy, Iran is the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and the Middle East for a generation. John McCain wants to double down on that failed policy."
There's so much wrong with this statement. It's worth it's own post but in the interest of not doing another prophet post right after the last one, how is that not the same as saying "this war is lost"? How is it not admitting that Iran IS a threat after all, and a generational one at that? For instance, who would care if we emboldened Turkey or Kuwait for a generation. And isn't it admitting that a hasty retreat from Iraq would make things far worse for America down the road a generation?

Supporters might suggest Obama was blaming Bush for creating the monster in Iran by invading its neighbor. But that would suggest he's clueless as to the history of terrorism since the 70s, and since he's not, it can only mean he once again derailed himself by hastily replying to a charge before thinking it through.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Iowa immigration crackdown

Regards the recent illegal alien crackdown in Postville, Iowa the WaPo's Spencer Hsu wrote:
The couple hid for hours inside the plant before obtaining refuge in the pews and hall at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, where hundreds of other Guatemalan and Mexican families gathered, hoping to avoid arrest.
After making a point to depict the Bush administration's recent crackdown as more about illegal employees than their employers the story finally made mention that company records were seized in the raid. Several paragraphs from the end it finally got around to admitting the actual charges against the 300+ illegal workers:
Of the adults, 306 face criminal charges for aggravated identity theft and other crimes related to the use of false documents. A lawsuit filed on behalf of the workers on Thursday, meanwhile, accused the government of violating their constitutional rights through arbitrary and indefinite detention.
Granted, identity theft doesn't open up the tear ducts quite like emotional stories of hiding behind pews from helicopters and jack-booted thugs, but it's not a victim-less crime, either. And Notice Mr. Hsu followed it with an immediate mention that groups had filed complaints of illegal detention of these illegal aliens based on trampling their constitutional rights (cough GTMO, cough torture). Check.

Let's put this in perspective. Identity theft is a major crime these days. It hurts law-abiding Americans but the column expressed ZERO sympathy for the fraud victims by fraudulently painting the illegal aliens as victims. If the charges stick many of these people will be deported since they are in effect criminal aliens. If that sounds draconian just remember the old saying many of us were taught as children--"crime doesn't pay". Evidently some believe that's just a quaint old notion--unless of course it pertains to the Bush administration.

Harkin's history

Many people might react to Senator Tom Harkin's comment about McCain's service by saying "wow":
"I think he's trapped in that," Harkin said in a conference call with Iowa reporters. "Everything is looked at from his life experiences, from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous."

Harkin said that "it's one thing to have been drafted and served, but another thing when you come from generations of military people and that's just how you're steeped, how you've learned, how you've grown up."
McCain has already been there, done that regards the man:

Anyone with such a memory as Harkin's cannot be taken as anything more than a doddering old fool.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Side tracks

Oh no..

It's a beautiful lazy Saturday afternoon, which brings back all the ones I wasted as a kid watching cheesy movies like this. BTW, Cult never did one for Gamera nor did Men Without Hats, but that doesn't stop the tubes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Matthis Chiroux and the Winter Soldiers

Seems we have another soldier refusing assignment to Iraq and another disengenuous attempt to slant the story by our friends in the lib'ral media. To wit, here's how AFP covered the statement of Matthis Chiroux, testifying at the Winter Soldier on the Hill event:
"I was from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school," the now 24-year-old told AFP. "I was 'filet mignon' for recruiters. They started phoning me when I was in 10th grade," or around 16 years old, he added.

Chiroux joined the US army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant. He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and was due to be deployed next month in Iraq. On Thursday, he refused to go, saying he considers Iraq an illegal war.
I don't pretend to know what any of these guys have been through and don't begrudge them their hard-earned opinions. This is still a free country. They are engaged in an activity that would result in, at the least, enhanced interrogation in many other countries. My beef here is with AFP.

Nowhere in the story does it say what Mr. Chiroux did in the service--he was a photojournalist. Why leave that out? Too embarrassing? Furthermore, the first few quotes make it seem he was almost tricked into military service by evil recruiters but it fails to provide any background, like this:
First, he would join the U.S. Army. Then, he would use his G.I. Bill benefits to enroll in college to pursue his dream of becoming a lawyer. After college, Matthis planned to become a public defender and dabble in politics.
Well, guess it was too much to ask any further questions exploring that political bent. They also failed to mention his father was a Navy vet who should have acted as a junkyard dog barrier to protect, as he called himself, the filet mignon.

And as Beerintheheadlights reminds us, the AFP forgot to mention the assembled group around Mr. Chiraux were members of IVAW as part of the Winter Soldiers on the Hill event, a John Kerry Vietnam rehash hosted by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of left wingers chaired by Congressman Barbara Lee of Berkeley (although an official House search turns up not much). So there you go. Decide for yourself.

Corker on Fleming

Bob Corker was on Mike Fleming's afternoon radio program talking about his interview with the WaPo's E.J. Dionne, in which our junior Senator was quoted saying:
And Corker said voters did not believe the Republicans were "solving the major problems," notably guaranteeing Americans health coverage. "We just haven't been responsible," Corker said. "We deserve to be where we are. I hope we right ourselves."
Fleming asked about the health care quip (which made Corker sound like an Obama spokesman) to which the Senator replied he was taken out of context--he only mentioned health care as one of many 'issues' and never implied that everyone was guaranteed free health care.

Obviously I wasn't privy to the interview but having some familiarity with both men I'd venture a guess Mr. Dionne just might have mischaracterized Corker in his haste to back up his "brand on the run" premise. Corker did not blast individual Republicans in his WaPo or Fleming interviews, he blasted the RNC and other national groups for ramming divisive commercials down their candidates' throats. I agree, and feel this same tactic hurt Mississippian Greg Davis.

Side note--Dionne factually argued that McCain trails Obama by 7 points in national polling as if there was only one poll. Checking RCP we see the ABC poll he chose just happened to be tied for the highest margin of advantage for Barack with the average of all polls showing him leading by just over 3 points with Gallup even showing Mac ahead by 2. Nope, no liberal bias there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So goes California

We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.
So says the preamble to California state constitution. Today their Supreme Court not only ruled that gays can marry, but by overturning the 1977 law that defined marriage as between one man and one woman they also seemed to affirm the right for polygamists, cats, dogs, chimps, or common house flies to tie the knot as well:
Citing a 1948 California Supreme Court decision that overturned a ban on interracial marriages, the justices struck down the state's 1977 one-man, one-woman marriage law, as well as a similar, voter-approved law that passed with 61 percent in 2000.
I'm no lawyer so hopefully this will be cleared up without having to pore through 172 pages. I'm still trying to read Feith's book and remain awake.

Perhaps the irony of ironies here is the man who once disparaged others by calling them 'girly men' will formally oppose a state amendment to the constitution to stop this reversal. The governator also took no action to stop SB777, a law which made it off limits for educators to refer to mom and dad in the classroom lest they offend childrens of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. Perhaps Arnold should reconsider his opposition to amending the constitution--that old preamble seems a little outdated for such an enlightened bunch.

In all seriousness, this has always been a tough issue from a legal standpoint, mainly because the founders never foresaw the problem. My sense is that marriage was set up more as an institution for the raising of children, which if done well benefits all of society, including gays with no children. That's not to say gays cannot raise good kids but they certainly can't produce them naturally and it's inarguable that a child is better off with a mom and dad if all other things are equal. Society's condoning of gay marriage is basically tantamount to saying that it doesn't matter how children are raised or by whom, and from that aspect I'm opposed.

But hey, my opinion is insignificant compared to the men running for president who can produce real change we can depend on. Obama's website seems somewhat ambiguous as to whether he's in favor of actual gay marriage while McCain's position seems fairly straightforward. Both will soon be wiggling around in the hot lights trying to parse an answer to this question, which if nothing else might be fun to watch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Go green with Mac

No, not the Leprechaun kind of green, the eco-friendly kind. Apparently in coordination with his climate change tour Mac has opened an enviro section of the Mac store featuring bio-degradable shirts with the new Go Green McCain logo.

They even have Go Green onesies for your favorite political tot! I'm momentarily at a loss for words, other than to reiterate my previous words.

Bearings all over the place

Obama confused himself while speaking in Cape Girardeau, MO the other day. Here's the link.

No big deal, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, we are short on interpreters in general. Sounds like he just lost his bearings. Maybe he was thinking about his sweetie.

MORE 5/14/08

Obama has apologized to the info babe for his sexist slur, elaborating as follows:
"That's a bad habit of mine," Obama said in the message. "I do it sometimes with all kinds of people. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front.
All kinds of uh "people"? Was that a sidelong wink to the gay community?

Seriously, this isn't a big deal. It would only be a big deal if McCain, or any Republican known to man, uttered it in public.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rummy's right

What's wrong with this statement?
RUMSFELD: That's what I was just going to say. This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack. And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it's a shame we don't have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats...the lethality, the carnage, that can be imposed on our society is so real and so present and so serious that you'd think we'd be able to understand it, but as a society, the longer you get away from 9/11, the less...the less...
Huffpo "unearthed it", linked it to the TV general propaganda story, and seems to think it's generally "astounding". It's dead-on accurate.

There is no longer a great perception of any significant threat. People naturally move on with their lives if planes aren't flying into buildings every so often. There was an 8 1/2 year gap between the first and second attacks on the WTC, so applying that gap to 9/11 our next attack would be right on schedule if it occurs in 2009. The left is apoplectic about the notion that Rummy thinks Democrats were elected because of this misperception, but the fact is they RAN on such a platform.

But it's always fun to check the comments of such a story. Here's the very first:
Can we put this a**hole in prison already?
Would another attack even matter?

Must see TV

This is making the rounds:
Taliban insurgents have ordered residents of a province near the capital Kabul to stop watching television, saying the networks were showing un-Islamic programs, officials and local media said on Tuesday.
More proof these people are plain nuts...and more fodder to show how Bush took his eye off the Afghanistan ball by going into Iraq even though most of the Afghan troops were redeployed in 2002.

But should we really care whether the Afgahni women can watch Indian soap operas? Is that a reason for NATO troops to die over there? In a weird way yes. Today it's TV, tomorrow it will be the government. Giving in to these thugs would set up a most depressing narrative, saying they got away with hosting AQ training camps in the 90s and could do so again at will with little fear of long-term recrimination. Would more troops help? Yes, but not unless they can enter Pakistan with vengeance.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cheney to Memphis

He's coming in support of Mississippi 1st Congressional District candidate Greg Davis. A lot has been said about the bellweather aspect of this special election. Check out this WaPo article, complete with a picture that makes Davis look about one toothpick shy of Jethro Clampett. Damn yankees!

Democrat Childers is running in a traditional Republican district as a Democrat-lite with a strategy of tying his opponent to the Bush doctrine. Here's a commercial running us crazy here in Memphis--check out the musical switch from major key to minor key in the background tune when Davis's name comes up. Classic.

At the same time, Childers doesn't seem too thrilled with being tied to people like Obama or even Nancy Pelosi. One might think he'd welcome the comparisons to Miss Nancy since she's the party leader of the Congress he seeks to join, but maybe it's because they've 'changed' nothing in their two inglorious years since seizing power with a bunch of moderate DINOs, unless one considers the change in the price of gas as change. By the way, have you heard that Childers is pro-gun and pro-life? Hence, Davis's fair play turnabout.

If you're really interesting interested here's an interview with Childers, and Davis. They sound fairly similar, talking about jobs and such with the usual national party boilerplate thrown in, but outside the studio we get things like this:
Dodging Davis hobnobs with Big Oil's best friend while Childers puts Mississippi First.
Should the Democrats succeed in winning this election the press will likely not play up the DINO aspect of their victory, preferring instead to headline the GOP's coming demise in November. Somewhat biased perhaps, but the Repubs deserve part of that blame for squandering the public trust when in the majority led by guys like Trent Lott. Bush is not blameless either since he didn't have enough charisma to 'Reagan' the press in their attempts to re-write his presidential history. But it'll be interesting to see how these new moderate liberals vote if elected. Bloggers have long memories.

MORE 5/13/08

Election results are here, updated every 4 minutes. Looks pretty close so far.

DOOM 5/13/08

Childers won. GOP suicide watch to follow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

War and Decision

One would think one of the most hated neocons at the Pentagon, a man whose name has almost become a bona fide cuss word in some circles, would get front page attention from the major newspapers by putting out a book. Apparently not.

A Saturday night search around 9:30pm CDT revealed the following. From the Washington Post:

From the New York Times:

(The one result was actually a short op-ed written by Feith, not a Times story about the book).

And from Google:

Ironically the first hit on Google led to the WaPo, whose own site doesn't show any hits. But the link is only to a letter to the editor complaining about erroneous information in their pre-publication article about the book, which has not been followed up upon publication. As of 3:45pm CDT Sunday, little had changed.

And that's interesting, because Feith's main charge seems to be that the media distorted the administration's role leading up to Iraq and helped to create a false narrative by repeating those accusations over and over, ie, the Bush lied meme. He's trying to dispel that notion with a book chocked full of declassified documents, yet few have noticed.

Certainly his position allowed a pretty good view of events so if he's being brutally honest in this book we've been given the most insightful inside glimpse yet. But so far the reaction seems more in line with this TPM rendering of his 60 Minutes piece or rants from bomb-throwers, while the positive coverage has come from predictable places. Feith brings some of this on himself--he's the ultimate nerdish policy wonk--but that shouldn't disqualify his information.

I'm in the process of slogging through this 500 page behemoth and plan to issue at least one more post on it for my own amusement should anything jump out, not that it will matter of course. To most Iraq was an unnecessary debacle and is a finished file, a case closed, with Barack Obama being the leader of that pack. It's up to the reader to determine whether they believe the mainstream press is intentionally ignoring Feith's book because it might disrupt that profile and affect a leading candidate, or not.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Side tracks

When a problem comes along, you must whip it.

Let's go!

Both circa 1979-1981, good memories for me.

Plame on

Joe and Val are making one last stand for their pal Hil. Ironically, this story came out Friday as well:
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame is trying to resurrect a lawsuit against those in the Bush administration she says illegally disclosed her identity.
Meanwhile, her gripping story awaits its telling. Can we question the timing? After all, the hired heroine lays in wait with child, which puts the movie release well into 2009. Are the Wilsons afraid a Barack presidency and subsequent Iraq drawdown might steal some thunder? What difference does it make who hits the redeploy switch, if that's what it's really all about?

MORE 5/10/08

She's a busy lady. Ms. Plame was in Chicago Friday along with Michelle Obama at a fund-raiser for Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and had this to say about her role with the Clinton campaign:
Plame told reporters that a reason she is with Clinton is "because in the darkest days of the story of the last five years it was Sen. Clinton who reached out to us on a personal basis and gave us her support. So we feel a deep sense of loyalty for that." Plame and Wilson are in a new ad Clinton is running in Oregon.
Hmm. How many times have we mentioned that Mandy Grunwald, a longtime Clinton strategist, is married to reporter Matt Cooper? I'll stop now.

Attack Burma?

That's what a Time writer is asking:
That's why it's time to consider a more serious option: invading Burma. Some observers, including former USAID director Andrew Natsios, have called on the US to unilaterally begin air drops to the Burmese people regardless of what the junta says. The Bush Administration has so far rejected the idea — "I can't imagine us going in without the permission of the Myanmar government," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday — but it's not without precedent: as Natsios pointed out to the Wall Street Journal, the US has facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid without the host government's consent in places like Bosnia and Sudan.
He goes on to describe the pitfalls, which are many, but asks a good question. Is it?

Before going further it's likely we'll see partisan political parallels being made between this event and Katrina if Bush fails to act, or parallels between our lack of military action compared to our foray into Iraq. Some already have (read the comments).

But as the Time article points out, China has "some influence" over the Burmese junta, just as they do with the government of Sudan (Darfur). China will not get bad PR if they don't act, but we don't expect them to act benevolently. Yet despite our reaction to the pacific tsunami the narrative remains intact that Bush squandered America's worldwide reputation by knocking out a couple of tyrannical governments following a heinous terrorist attack. Reality has taken a holiday these past few years.

My take on military engagement is that it should only be done to protect America's national security interests. If Burma were a threat to US security or to our allies that's a starting point to consider military action but with China involved it's not so simple. Look what happened in Somalia. Besides, any president must be very careful in setting such a precedent by using military force without the permission of the host country.

Maybe not the best analogy, but imagine for a second what might happen in such a widespread disaster here. Let's say the dreaded east coast or west coast tsuanmis ever occur as some have predicted. Or perhaps the Yellowstone volcano decides to pop off. Would any US administration allow Chinese or Russian or Iranian troops to land in association with a recovery effort? Imagine them interspersed with our own military amidst civil unrest in the streets. If our government was overwhelmed yet refused aid would that allow a UN-backed attack on Washington to take out the government via foreign forces?

None of this is comforting to the innocent villagers left to dangle in the breeze in Myanmar, of course. Like almost everything these days it's a sticky problem with no clear-cut answer. As these events continue to occur around the world the stage will be set for someone to step up and offer the visionary, hopeful solution, and this entity will be elevated to hero status should things get done. From where, and whom?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Taking away the issues

I don't pretend to know whether John McCain really and truly believes that mankind has caused all the temperature increases on earth since 1980. I'm pretty sure he doesn't think that skeptics are "flat earthers" or believers in a faked moon landing like Al Gore does. Nevertheless he'll soon embark on a "global warming tour" (wonder if he'll talk about the PDO?).

But before the veins pop out in your temple consider McCain's long experience at politickin'. Climate change? Sure, he's down with it, dude. Bush screwed up Katrina? Right on, bro--he went down to N'awlins and said "never again, my friend". Illegal aliens? Si, mi amigos. La bienvenida a Los Estados Unidos! Gitmo? Roger on the stand down--bring 'em to Leavenworth. Harsh interrogations? Not gonna be tied up on those again.

He's effectively immunized himself from all those Democrat attack points, leaving only Iraq and tax cuts as his weak spots. But just how weak are they?

Everybody is tired of losing in Iraq but nobody wants to lose a war. Maverick has the harsh blowback from losing in Vietnam seared in his memory. He knows Iraq is much more of a direct threat to our national security than his war ever was, and he'll be working hard to convey that to the voters. The image of choppering-out would stay with everyone, including our enemies, for a long time. So people might support a different leader if they get the drift that a loss might mean our eventual return to the region under even worse conditions. Lebanon is already flaring.

Tax cuts? Well, everyone wants to keep more of their own money. It's an old saw that people vote their wallets and when McCain paints Obama as the biggest liberal to come down the pike since McGovern they'll be grabbing for them.

So, Obama will no doubt hammer away on those two narrow issues while his own political platform will be fair game, with the possible exception of pastor Wright. He knows the reverend will be handled by the 527s and/or Fred Thompson; McCain will complain about it and they'll stop, but the damage will have been done. He's craftier than we think, I think.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Major Egyptian terrorist captured in Iraq?

According to the ministry of defense:
BAGHDAD - The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, was arrested in the northern city of Mosul, the Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
We should probably wait for DNA based on the last great capture story. But while we wait for the unknown let's ponder some knowns.

Egyptian Al-Masri, who was allegedly aligned with Jordanian Musab al-Zarqawi, were both somehow part of a "civil war" in Iraq through their bombing of the Golden Mosque. As Allahpundit alludes, Masri was supposedly an associate of Zawahiri's as well. And don't forget Mohammed Atta was also an Egyptian. For some reason the left doesn't treat them the same as they do Saudi Arabia. Throw in the late Abu Maysara, AQI's former IT geek, who was from Syria and the civil war was truly a multi-national affair!

And who could forget the predator raid in January 2006 that took out Midhat Mursi, aka Abu Khabab al-Masri (there's that nom de guerre again) who was, you guessed it--another Egyptian:
What we know about the person who ran al Qaeda's chemical and biological program -- basically chemical, they dreamed about biological, but basically chemical..
That sirname should be familiar:
Abu Hafs al Masri was the nom de guerre of Muhammad Atef, a former Egyptian police officer and chief lieutenant to bin Laden. A founding member of al-Qaeda, he was killed in the US bombing of Afghanistan in 2001.
Lots of Masri's floating around out there.

Finally, the recent Joint Forces Command report mentioned that Saddam previously had ties with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad back when Zawahiri was running it. And let's square this circle once and for all--these guys were all sympatico with al-Zarqawi, who reportedly had ties with Izzat al-Duri, Saddam's former right hand man who recently uncaptured himself. Seems if the Saddam-al Qaeda connection ever existed it might have passed through Cairo.

UPDATE 5/9/08

MNF is saying no. OK, it's possible some Iraqi field commander didn't get the memo on how they wanted to handle this guy, disinformation-wise. Aside from that it certainly suggests the Iraqi Army isn't quite ready to go yet.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The haunting

And they made fun of CNN for hiring Glenn Beck.

Roland Martin's column on reverend Wright is reminiscent of one of the fainting ladies in the crowd at a Barack campaign rally, overcome by emotion. His silly putty-like argument revolving around an equivalence between those condemning Reverend Wright's words against the words of any preacher to ever have known or endorsed McCain is a good try--and it might even work--but it's absurd, of course.

Let's just say he's clearly lost sight of the issue due to his blind support of Barack. For any thinking person the issue was never race nor Wright, it was the way Obama handled everything. However, Martin has tipped us off to the strategy that will likely be employed by Barack's supporters in the general, fueled by a sympathetic media who've been bending over backwards not to offend lest they be judged racist and anti-progress.

Maybe it never occurred to Martin that some Americans are still trying to ferret out the best candidate for this puny little post called president of the United States. One way to do that, aside from believing the 3 AM phone call commercials, is by evaluating a candidate's judgment, candor and calm under pressure in the real world.

To that end, who cares about Wright? He's free to frolic naked up and down the Chicago loop screaming for a new 9/11 investigation while damning America. The issue here is about Obama. We've still not received a good answer as to why he initially joined the church then stayed for 20 years despite the rhetoric, or why he subsequently stretched credulity by pretending he never knew yet couldn't disavow only to later disavow.

It's as if words have no meaning. Martin has already forgotten the many black pundits who were defending Wright when Obama was playing the middle, who then cheerfully said "yes we can" at the prospect of stuffing the reverend further up under the bus after Obama lowered the boom. Whatever. If anyone deserves a haunting here it might be Mr. Martin.

MORE 5/8/08

MacRanger and a few others are a little upset about this sermon from reverend Wright's successor at Trinity UCC, but I find very little wrong with this particular snippet other than his glorification of Tupac. "Thugology" is just his way of reaching the crowd, something all preachers try to do to keep the flock from falling asleep. The sins of men like Moses, David, Noah, etc, is a universal Biblical message no matter how the analogy is framed.

That doesn't take Wright off the hook because he went way beyond this type of populism in his rantings. And it doesn't take Barack off either because he sat there and listened to it. Speak of the devil, while listening to the local radio talking head this afternoon heard a parody song sung to the tune of Dr. John's "I've Been in the Right Place", with "reverend Wright's church" substituted. Mildly humorous, but it gets to the crux of the original question, one which is still yet to be answered. McCain won't ask it lest he be labeled the angry white man.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Primary thoughts

Watching Barack's victory speech in North Carolina--a better than normal version of his usual stellar job of populist preaching, it was interesting to see the level of applause based on talking points--he consistently gets the most response out of his "get out of Iraq" and "tell the truth" rhetoric.

But the noticeable change was more moderate turn by focusing on core American values that sounded quite conservative, even referring to his maternal grandfather's flag-draped coffin. He's now facing McCain, not Hillary. And he was laying out his path for us--Maverick doesn't share his new moderate traditional vision of the American dream because he supports victory in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich--and everyone else.

All in all a fabulous speech, but it's still unclear as to how he'll get us to the promised land. Through the fog here's what I heard. He will,

1) force control of the oil companies to redirect their profits to his whim
2) get out of Iraq,
3) stop the Bush tax cuts
4) toy with protectionism via giving tax breaks to companies hiring American
5) get out of Iraq,
6) start universal health care
7) get out of Iraq
8) raise a lot of taxes

But nuance doesn't always matter--people want a visionary, a leader, and someone who gives them hope for a better future in a president, not just a policy wonk or expert. And especially now, with all the critical things happening. Go back through recent history and that seems in evidence with noted failures like Nixon and Carter. Neither Al Gore nor John Kerry were able to emit that warm feeling to their electorate and both still almost beat Bush.

McCain has a difficult task ahead of him. He must stress that he is not Bush and HIS reflection of the American dream is more deliverable than a man who desires to tax, spend and regulate his way there while promising a huge moral victory for our enemies and a guarantee we'll be in another war in the Middle East in due course.

Can Hillary go nookular after all this? Put nothing past the Clintons. But the pressure will soon be huge to leave.


Comes a story from the Daily Mail about a terrifying aircraft experience:
A pilot showing off to a young boy in his cockpit ended up almost crashing the airliner, it was claimed yesterday

Passengers said the pilot deliberately rocked the jet from side to side as he showed the child how the controls worked.

Moments later, however, he was forced to throw the Air France plane into a steep climb to get out of the way of another aircraft.
As someone a little bit familiar with the industry I'm here to say there are a few things out of whack about this story. But before proceeding, who isn't reminded of this?

Now, the kid's visit to the cockpit was obviously a no-no. They won't even allow people who work in the business to travel up there since 9/11.

As to the alleged climb of 10,000 ft, sounds rather sensational but it's probably bogus. The captain had already announced they were "coming in for a landing" after the boy left the cockpit and usually these announcements are made near the edge of the "terminal control area", which resides around 12,000 feet most places. It's hard to imagine any scenario where a climb of that nature would be required to avoid another aircraft, matter of fact, such a maneuver might even bring more airplanes into the possible collision picture.

As to the alarms, a system called TCAS resides is all commercial aircraft to give a second line of defense should a controller commit an error, which was perhaps that's what they were referring to.

Finally, the picture accompanying the article is of an Airbus A380 not the much smaller A320 model involved in the incident.

I don't blame the passengers for being upset since as the story alludes, it's possible the crew took their eye off the ball while entertaining the lad, which an investigation would easily reveal. But the media really needs to do a better job of researching these kind of stories rather than pumping out hysteria. And yes I know, that's probably asking too much.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Telling the truth

Thomas Friedman has now set us all straight:
We need a president who is tough enough to tell the truth to the American people. Any one of the candidates can answer the Red Phone at 3 a.m. in the White House bedroom. I’m voting for the one who can talk straight to the American people on national TV — at 8 p.m. — from the White House East Room.

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country
Too bad Dave Ramsey isn't running. Thing is, would any candidate be honest enough to straight talk the low income people, some of color, who were able to get that long-awaited home via the sub-prime backdoor? Or telling those struggling to buy gas they should be stuffing their leftover jingle in the nearest megabank at 3 percent interest instead of "stimulating the economy" (or themselves)?

Or does this have anything to do with those thrown pies?

But OK, OK, honesty is nice. More like a pipe dream. As Nicholson famously said, we can't always handle the truth. Or put more succinctly by our much maligned current leader, sometimes it's not possible to be "brutally honest". I want a president who has the ability to figure that out.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Time's most influential people

They've got their big list out, so here's a few cents worth of reaction...

OK, the order of importance is important since it was picked by Time. Obama, Hillary, McCain. More on that below. As to the current president, number seven (lucky) but the photo is pure entertainment. Apparently if you lighten it up in Photoshop the Iron Cross becomes visible just below his chin!

How about Michelle Obama on Oprah..
In the past few months, I've had the privilege of watching Oprah inspire thousands of Americans to participate in our democracy. She has also reached out to thousands more who might not have known there was a seat for them at the table at all—people who desperately need a voice.
Since everyone in America should already be aware they have a voice through voting rights when they turn eighteen this is an interesting comment, probably partially in reference to her "I'm proud" line but with the unintended consequence of branding a lot of Oprah viewers as mind-numbed robots who didn't realize they had a vote until Oprah told them who to vote for.

Paul Wolfowitz on Anwar Ibrahim. Wolfowitz? Really?

And Baitullah Meshud instead of bin Laden, Zawahiri, or even Ahmadinejad? Interesting pick for the top 20.

Most surprising to me was Mia Farrow, only because I wasn't aware of her work on Darfur. Apparently she's been one of the cadre of people trying to bring light to China's role in this matter due to their sponsorship of the perverted government of the Sudan, something not played up very big by most in the mainstream media.

As to the rest, I realize Peter Gabriel was worshiped by Genesis fans but didn't realize he had a halo. And working with Carter and Kofi Annan?

Lastly, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg as the number one scientist/thinker? How did he ever come in before Larry Brilliant?

Perhaps the most interesting list is the one picked by Time readers who, other than selecting Stephen Colbert as the third most influential person on the planet (Jon Stewart was 44th), picked a strange group of politicians in the top 15--Gore at number six, OK, not so strange, but followed by Mike Huckabee at seven and Eliot Spitzer at fourteen! Bush 43 came in at 158 while Hillary came in at 183, under guys like Jeremiah Wright and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Obama? Came in at 72 (a few ticks ahead of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but one behind Britney Spears) while John McCain led the pack of presidential candidates coming in at number 56. Of course, "high school musical cast" came in one ahead of him.