Thursday, July 31, 2008

There He Goes Again

He's doing it again--playing the future race card on himself:
"Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
The way things are going Obama might be able to charge racial discrimination on himself before it's all over.

It's tempting to say this is a first in presidential politics but is there really any doubt Jackson or Sharpton would have used it had they come as far? The first here is that Obama's the first to effectively pull it off without sounding obvious. Actually the real first in this campaign is the media's overt bias towards one candidate, but that's another post.

As Obama says, they'll keep hitting him as "risky" because frankly, he is risky based on his experience and past associations and visions for losing wars. What team Obama is trying to do is remove the legitimate criticism by associating it with his name and skin color in an effort to immunize himself from all white opponents. He did likewise with Hillary and it worked.

It's tempting to suggest a bold strategy for McCain--perhaps a commercial showing Obama talking about fearmongering then flash to Jeremiah, Phleger and Moss, ending with Obama calling his own grandmother 'typical'. At the very end McCain would pop on and say "stop making this campaign about race and come out to debate me at some townhall meetings, you little snot". OK, maybe without the last part.

He could also make a commercial calling attention to the savior's own fearmongering by his attempts to tie McCain to Karl Rove while pointing out how a do-nothing Congress has ignored gas prices to focus on getting Rove on some trumped up charge to help prop up Obama's fearmongering. Too bad McCain can't use the biggest fearmongering card of all--global warming. C'est la vie. Or oops, Merci beaucoup.

There are of course pitfalls. Once McCain even utters the word race he runs the risk of making the whole thing about race because of his own race. So perhaps it's not time for action. McCain's true friend right now might be Obama's hubris and overconfidence fueled by a throng of adoring media snapping pictures. It's bound to be a house of 'cards'.

Takeways from the Hamdan Trial

Not many bombshells so far, other than learning that even drivers for bin Laden know McDonalds fries don't taste good cold. Hey, Saddam liked Doritos, perhaps we should adjust our interrogation methods by withholding fast food. Or would that be called torture, too?

The only thing approaching a serious headline has been the already-known impressions bin Laden had about America (paper tiger). But this is an important point and something even relevant to decision 08.

Andrew McCarthy, the government prosecutor who tried the Blind Sheikh for planning the "Landmarks" plot in New York City in the mid 90s, has a new book called Willful Blindness that deals with exactly what Hamdan reportedly attributed to UBL. But does he remain blind on the blindness? Some think so.

McCarthy wasn't very kind to private researcher/writer Peter Lance and he hasn't been much nicer to another critic, former Clinton Iraq adviser and writer Laurie Mylroie. Her book review sparked the followed retort:
Sometime in 1993 or 1994, a briefing at the Manhattan district attorney’s office was arranged for me and a few other federal prosecutors involved in the World Trade Center bombing cases. The briefer was Mylroie, then (if memory serves) a professor at Harvard, where she’d earned her doctorate in government. She was spouting a theory that the attack had been the work of Saddam Hussein and that we ignoramuses were completely missing the boat by charging Islamic terrorists, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that they had carried out the atrocity.
He continues the same snarl throughout the piece but his overall rebuttal isn't nearly as biting.

Mylroie has long been known for asserting that 93 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef was an Iraqi agent--McCarthy basically thinks she's a nut. She defends:
Indeed, as Judge Mukasey stated, there was "no evidence" any defendant knew Ramzi Yousef, the plot's mastermind, let alone joined him in bombing the building.
Yep, that's the same Mukasey. Anyway, McCarthy actually supports this line of thought by depicting Yousef and several others as mysterious people "called in" from the outside without going into much detail about who they were and why they came (Mylroie essentially claims that was because they were tied to state intelligence apparatuses).

He talks extensively about 93 WTC participant Mohammed Salameh but completely ignores the following:
In June 1992, Salameh's phone bill went through the roof, rising from $128.41 in May to $1,401.00 in June. Indeed, on June 10, Salameh made the first of forty-six calls to Iraq, before his phone service was cut-off on July 9 for non-payment.8 The vast majority of these calls to Iraq were to his maternal uncle, Kadri Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr had been number two in the "Western Sector," a terrorist unit established within the PLO after the 1967 war, when the PLO was based in Jordan. It operated in the area west of the Jordan River. Abu Bakr was arrested by Israeli authorities for terrorism in 1968 and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He was released in 1986 and deported from the West Bank, whence he made his way to Iraq, where he came to work at the PLO office in Baghdad.
Yousef was a known Palestinian sympathizer, as was Saddam. Personally I found these omissions a little puzzling when reading the book as well.

Perhaps McCarthy thinks Mylroie is insinuating he was a dupe for U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White (and ergo, the administration) to allow the Blind Sheikh to be set up as a bogeyman to divert public attention off any state sponsorship, specifically from Sudan. As a political appointee White could hardly go after Sudanese diplomats without coordination from the top. That never happened. Instead, a higher wall went up.

But in supporting his "willful blindness" theory McCarthy didn't shy away from tying the Sudanese government officials to the Landmarks plot, mentioning their former jihadi-loving leader Hassan al-Turabi as perhaps linked to an assassination plot against Egypt's Mubarak. Yet this actually brings Saddam and others into the picture since according to Yossef Bodansky, al-Turabi was working hard in the 90s to bring Arab countries together to give jihad a chance against the west. McCarthy seems of the opinion these jihadies were acting as cliques without much state help, at least without Iraq's help, while admitting Sudan's involvement. Keep in mind Iraq sent Farouk Hijazi to meet bin Laden in Sudan during 1993, where an office in Baghdad was apparently discussed.

We do know that after the Gulf War Saddam reduced his love for Mubarak and we know from the recent Joint Forces report on Iraq that he was dabbling with Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad group (all largely ignored by the MSM). These things favor Mylroie's view of state involvement.

It's notable the FBI's agent provocateur inside the Brooklyn Cell, Egyptian Emad Salem, was once affiliated with Egyptian intelligence. Mubarak had previously persecuted Zawahiri and other Islamists. Saddam had issues with Mubarak and was dabbling with terrorists along the Nile. Perhaps an "enemy of my enemy" thing?

We know Bill Clinton sent cruise missiles to Iraq and Sudan during his tenure, the former officially in reaction to the aborted hit on Bush 41 in Kuwait and the latter on a presumed pharmaceutical plant thought to be making VX gas for bin Laden with help from Iraqi scientists (another fact never mentioned by the MSM). Was the Khartoum attack actually more about revenge for the failed Landmarks plot (along with a message to Saddam) than anything else? If so, it didn't work. Hamdan's paper tiger was in full force and the rest is history.

So if the Jihadists took the US military as dressed up foo-foo dogs with bark but no bite, what did the states think? Scooter Libby once opined on that back in 2001, as relayed by Bob Woodward in "Bush at War":
"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."
The 9/11 Commission would later call al Qaeda a bunch of "rootless, non-state actors" yet it's indisputable that a state sponsor was involved in the Landmarks plot in 1993, using proxy terrorists, who probably also thought we were toothless. This seems to be lost on McCarthy.

As Mylroie says, had Americans been fully aware of the state involvement in the Landmarks plot they'd have surely demanded a pound of flesh in retribution, forcing Clinton into a war if he had any hope of regaining the White House. Clearly he wanted to spend the "peace dividend" instead, gained only by downsizing the loathsome military--which is hard to do while at war. He didn't know 9/11 would come, though.

The history of diversion actually goes back even further. The FBI characterized Meir Kahane's murderer Sayyid Nossair as a "lone wolf" in 1990 while knowing of his involvement with the Brooklyn Cell. Bush 41 was in office at the time, so it seems Clinton simply took up the baton.

Bottom line, while Mylroie might be an obstinate debater and probably dead wrong about Ramzi Yousef's identity she's unequivocally correct on this:
When it comes to the Shiites, we recognize Iran's role, but we refuse to consider that Sunni extremists might also receive crucial assistance from states.
McCarthy's discomfort in acknowledging the level of involvement from states despite his knowledge of Sudan's involvement gives Mylroie a win by technical knockout regards the book fight. Meanwhile down in the trenches, Bush has been working for years to change America's tiger image, unleashing the military to prove the point, which is something McCain seems eager to continue and preserve. Obama? Well, he's got his team for change in place.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Speaking of cracked

OK, so a large chunk of ice from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf near Canada's Ellesmere Island has cracked off according to CNN, who says the ice researcher at Trent University who recognized it was careful not to blame global warming. And why not? That's probably what caused it.

After all, it was warming that caused the ice to break free from Ellesmere Island at the turn of last century. Yet this is news, not because Arctic temperatures might be warming but because the conventional wisdom says that man has caused this warming:
Ellesmere Island was once entirely ringed by a single enormous ice shelf that broke up in the early 1900s. At 170 square miles and 130-feet thick, the Ward Hunt shelf is the largest of those remnants. Mueller said it has been steadily declining since the 1930s.
Emphasis added.

No wonder the scientist was reluctant to mention 'global warming' since by doing so he'd be linking exhausts from SUVs and jet aircraft to an event that occurred 100 years ago and before the birth of Dick Cheney or Karl Rove.

Proof? Link? OK, from muzzled NASA scientist James Hansen's GISS site, here's the record from an actual weather station in the NW Territories, one of few with data back into the 1800s. Unfortunately it stops around 1980 but provides enough to get a feel for the warming that caused Ellesmere to begin losing its ice before McCain was even around.

So...does anyone really think Nancy Pelosi could have saved that precious ice were she alive and Speaker back then? Not rational folks, but it seems nutbars are now gaining more and more power, with others arriving soon if Obama sweeps in. To point out the ludicrousness, Jerry Brown is now harassing(and I pronounce that hur rass) a bottled water company for trying to bring jobs to an old lumber town in California called McCloud for having the audacity to suggest a plant there.

If bottled water is ripe for ridicule as an unnecessary climate change-causing luxury item then the door is wide open for anything depending on the whims of the nutbars. Consider California's recent ban of trans-fat and Los Angeles's ban on new fast food joints and it certainly looks like the hippies are making their final stand.

Just call it change.

MORE 7/30/08

Well, I guess McCain would not be happy with me for the above. It's a mad, mad, world, folks.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Apologies indeed

There's nothing necessarily wrong with the government issuing an apology. Even for slavery? Well, we fought a war over it then corrected the wrongs to the point a black man is the odds-on favorite to win the presidency. But if they really want to sincerely apologize for past wrongs, including Jim Crow, go for it. Just keep the word sincere in mind.

The man who floated this resolution was Rep Steve Cohen, a liberal Democrat from Memphis who apparently hates Jesus and is running for re-election in less than 10 days in a predominately black district against a fairly popular black woman. Surely just a coincidence. Perhaps a vote for Steve is a vote for reparations, hint, hint?

Who knows, maybe this can start a trend. How about weekly Congressional apologies for wasting the voters' time and money? Perhaps Speaker Pelosi could find time from the daunting task of single-handedly saving the planet during her four day workweek to get this program going.

But just wondering, how would a slavery apology affect Obama? Would he even qualify? For instance, are people with one typical white American parent and a black African parent formally included, even if their ancestors were perhaps part of the problem? Confusing.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Midhat Mursi killed...again

News outlets are saying the US Predator strike in Pakistan has killed AQ chem/bio expert Midhat Mursi. Good. Problem is, he's already dead, or so we were told.

Zombie or not, Midhat is/was yet another Egyptian involved with al Qaeda, going all the way back to the 1993 attack in New York. More later.

MORE 7/29/08

It's confirmed according to the Pakistanis but not us. If true this certainly cancels his scheduled torture session and subsequent habeas corpus petition.

For those who don't like to click, one of the above links contained the following tidbit:
Whether due to the frustrations of a stagnate nuclear weapons program or the aspiration to pursue other WMD for their unique capabilities, al-Qaeda, under the direction of Abu Hafs al-Masri and Midhat Mursi, aka Abu Khabab, established a biological weapons program around 1999 [6]. The program experimented and developed several biological agents including botulinum toxin, but al-Qaeda still seemed fixated on agents with mass casualty potential. Operating in laboratories scattered among al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, the biological program began experiments in isolating a virulent strain of “Agent X,” most likely anthrax bacteria.
Mursi, aka Abu Khabab, was apparently one of Zawahiri's point men on the X issue, so if true this was a big score. Kudos are in store for the RC controllers at CIA and DoD for getting this creep off the streets and preventing him from someday killing innocent women and children, even if he wasn't able to constitute much of a chem/bio program for AQ. Hopefully the US will absolutely confirm soon.

By the way, a few bloggers fell for the mix up between photos of Mursi and Abu Hamza again. The same thing happened the last time he was killed.

The problem? Googling images of Midhat Mursi produces mainly versions of Hamza. As I found out with McCain's plane recently, paste and post doesn't always work.

The real photo is at left.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Qantas QF-30

The updates are trickling in on the strange explosion aboard Qantas QF-30. Scotland Yard wasted no time in proclaiming that the massive hole ripped in the side of flight QF-30 wasn't caused by a bomb (or even the mention of one).

The media didn't waste time either, grabbing the nearest experts to speculate wildly on non-bomb related causes:
Experts said the dramatic incident was most likely to have been caused by either corrosion to the inside of the plane, such as a liquid spilled in the cabin above that had lain undetected, or damage caused by freight or a maintenance vehicle that had been badly repaired.
Coffee drippings causing corrosion. Nice. But that was yesterday's theory, now debunked. Today's theory has moved to oxygen tanks.

Once upon a time authorities and experts were steadfast in refraining from premature speculation until the investigation was completed. Now they offer opinions before investigations even start. Tends to strain credibility.

But OK, it's certainly possible a bomb could have been ruled out due to a lack of visible scorching, etc. If the oxygen bottle theory is correct that brings to mind the Value Jet crash in 1996, blamed on a fire started by improperly sealed oxygen bottles. That possibility would seem to open the door for some litigation since there were mandates to install fire suppression systems in cargo holds, however with no injuries the lawsuits will probably be minimized.

Whether these oxygen tanks were loose or the ones used for the drop-down oxygen masks isn't clear yet, but nobody complained of a lack of oxygen on the video. This will become known soon. Still, it seems premature to rule out foul play so early especially since if it was involved here they'd need to rule out ramp personnel in London and Hong Kong first (as this explosion was obviously not within the passenger compartment). In the Value Jet crash a ramp contractor was partially blamed. How would the NTSB or anyone else know at this early juncture whether some form of sabotage was not involved?

But this seeming paradigm shift on premature speculation, sometimes even from authorities, is worth some discussion. Although Andrew McCarthy's book "Willful Blindness" was not about aviation terrorism the first sentence was: "imagine the liability!". He attributes those words to FBI agents when discussing the first known Islamic terror cell in America (the Blind Sheikh), giving readers an insight into the thought processes at the time. Does the notion still prevail? The answer almost certainly has to be yes.

After all, even after 9/11 (an attack designed to be seen by everyone and therefore immune from governmental obfuscation) things haven't changed regarding commercial aviation. We still know a disruption of confidence in air travel with fuel at such high rates could torpedo the industry, which is vital to western civilization and commerce. Such truth could explain a few things in the recent past.

For instance, Al Gore chaired an aviation safety commission in 1996 that made several recommendations for strengthening air safety. Few were put in place due to the enormous costs. For some strange reason the subsequent allegations of political payoffs didn't get the wall-to-wall coverage from the New York Times or 60 Minutes that the Abu Ghraib story garnered. Go figure.

That said, QF-30 may well have an innocent explanation but at the same time history compels us to take notice any time a 747 suffers an unforced explosion:

In 1982 a Jordanian named Mohammed Rashid, a member of the 15 May terrorist group supported by Iraq, placed a small seat bomb on Pan Am flight 830 from Tokyo to Honolulu. The bomb blew up and killed a Japanese teenager, but the plane landed safely.

In 1988 Pan Am 103 blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland killing 270 people.

In 1994 a small seat bomb was placed in a Philippine Airlines Boeing 747. Again the bomb exploded, killing a passenger, but the plane landed safely. This was the supposed test run for Yousef and Khalid's "Operation Bojinka".

Then, in 1996 another Boeing 747 exploded, this time with catastrophic results. We still don't have the entire suite of information on what happened that evening.

In a related vein, the FAA recently heralded their mandate for commercial carriers to retrofit nitrogen inerters in the fuel tanks of the Boeings and Airbuses to minimize chance explosions. What they didn't mention was the ignition sources, which are harder to mitigate. Nevertheless, inerted fuel vapors will make it harder for jihadists to blow up center wing tanks, something also accomplished by narco-terrorists.

As to QF-30, it may soon disappear down the same memory hole occupied by Speedbird 38. If so it won't be a great surprise. But come what may we can rest assured somebody will be learning from these mistakes, even if the public remains utterly oblivious. Let's hope those somebodies are on our side.

UPDATE 7/28/08

Tomorrow's news down under is out, and so is CEO Geoff Dixon. He announced his departure amidst the QF-30 incident and another involving a landing gear door that wouldn't retract. Dixon was in favor of a private consortium takeover bid for Qantas last year that included maverick airline rescue artist David Bonderman of Texas Pacific, which was later rejected:
Dixon had enthusiastically backed the buyout, which would have given him a $60 million payout. "If I had my time over again," he told Fortune in June in Sydney, "I don't think I'd do anything differently, except I would not want myself, or any of the senior management, to do a long-term contract deal with the bidders."
Guess it was time for him to fly.

Meanwhile, engineers are now saying the hole in the fuselage might have saved the aircraft from a disastrous fire by allowing outside air through the hole to mix out the pure oxygen environment, reducing the fire hazard. Aren't those areas equipped with fire suppression? Anyway, perhaps a stroke of luck. This still doesn't explain what caused the tank to fly off it's moorings, suggestive of a number of other causes besides mechanical failure. Usually we'd have to wait for the final report, but probably not.

Out of Africa

Is Obama a Muslim? A socialist? A Marxist? None of them really go hand in hand but logic hasn't stopped the sensationalism machine from saying yes to all of the above. Yet despite the wild eyed pushbacks from his followers whenever the above charges are mentioned we still don't have a definitive picture of what Barack Hussein Obama is truly all about.

Take for instance his 2006 African foray, taken at the behest of his fellow Kenyan tribesman and politician Raila Odingo. According to his Wiki site Odinga is a "social democrat", an kinder gentler offshoot of the pure socialism chosen by his late father, also a Kenyan politician. Odinga is formally affiliated with an outfit called "Liberal International", whose purpose appears to be aligned more with social liberals rather than Marxists or Communists. A factoid--Odinga named his first child "Fidel" in honor of the bearded tyrant in Cuba.

Odinga is officially an Anglican. He came under fire when running for president in 2007 when an agreement with Kenyan Muslim leaders was leaked that promised support for favors. Some controversy exists, since another version was distributed in the US suggesting that the agreement bound Odinga to push the country towards Sharia law if elected in return for their support at the polls.

There's no dispute an agreement was signed, as evidenced by this recent letter to now Prime Minister Odinga begging him to come through on the promises. It's hard to say which one was faked, since it doesn't seem out of the question for Muslims to ask for the moon if they believed the agreement to be secret. Snopes debunks some of the African myth but not all. Just remember, we've been told it's OK to lie for jihad but we've also seen (as Snopes points out) lies for Christianity, so the jury is still out.

An aside--the most famous al Qaeda suspect wanted for the East African Embassy bombings in 1998 is Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, a native of the Comoros Islands off the east African coast. It's interesting al Qaeda chose to target the embassy in Nairobi, and it's also interesting that Kenya was involved in the recent US military sweep in Somalia along with Ethiopia. It's even more interesting that the Muslims who lobbied Odinga (undisputed) are using western instruments like habeas corpus to lobby for the halt of some alleged renditions of Muslim terror suspects given the fact they'd choose Sharia if they could.

The question is whether any of this says anything about Obama or how he might run the country. All we can do is take an overview of his known friends and acquaintances, such as messers Odinga, Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, Pfleger, Moss and various others and paint a partial picture of a man who'll likely lean more left than middle. It'd be sweet if such unknowns could get sorted out in the debates but we're more likely to see Mitchell's aliens before that ever happens.

MORE 7/27/08

Right Truth has a story about some interesting requests the advocacy group "Muslim Americans for Obama 08" are making of the candidate. I can't help but notice the similarity with the requests made by the Kenyan Muslims to Odinga, whom Barack supported. For what it's worth.

MORE 7/27/08

Not the Kenyan school he once knew, or another smear? You decide.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Side tracks

Dedicated to those fighting the wars of politics and passion.

Bush impeachment hearings

It was a raucous day, filled with many protesters and much Congressional grandstanding. While not officially an impeachment hearing, the word impeachment was mentioned over and over. Perhaps the only shining moment for Republicans came in this exchange:

"Slightly demented" and "overwrought". Sorta defines the entire debate.

Indeed, Rep. King's office later released Joe Wilson's debriefing to the CIA after his trip to Niger, which suggested that an Iraqi delegation HAD tried to inquire as to a commercial deal with that country. This has been a fact in evidence for some time but has never been heralded by anyone in the mainstream media for some strange reason.

Perhaps that's because many in the mainstream media undoubtedly took sides in this debate long ago. Nicolas Kristof, the Times reporter that Joe and Val Wilson met with to start the whole "Bush lied, people died" campaign, has showed rather clearly which camp he resides in via his "Truth Commission" and lately his thoughts on Israel. No media bias there, of course.

YES, BUT 7/26/08

Mr. "Bush is guilty of murder" Bugliosi posed an interesting question. Bush is immune from prosecution outside of Congress right now, but what about after Jan 20th?
Will the Dem partisans sick the FBI or World Court on Bushco for the alleged war crimes? And if they do, what would a president Barack do?

Chances are he'd pardon before it got to a trial. Think of the PR coup, especially if the election's close. The headlines might read, "Barack the Benevolent" pardons Republican scoundrels, decries partisan divide..." etc. Chances are he'd only suffer mild damage from the far left while securing moderate brownie points for reelection. If he allowed it to go to trial there's a risk Bush would be proven not guilty, which would blow back in his face like a big pie.

And McCain? Would he be compelled to pardon with no political gain (only loss)? After all, everyone remembered Ford for pardoning and tripping, not much else. Seems he'd obviously have to grant a pardon since he voted for and advocated many of the same things Bush did.

The worse case scenario for Obama might be to let Bush languish in court only to have evidence come out justifying his actions, then have the US suffer another attack. The money's on pardon.

Governor Girly Man

What the hell happened to Arnold?
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made it official: California will be the first trans-fat free state in the nation.
Message to the governator--if people are dumb enough to eat Krispy Kremes for breakfast and McDonalds for lunch every day it's their damn fault. The state has no business getting into our kitchens unless those kitchens are serving too many paint chips or roach legs. Men have fought and died for our freedom to stuff donuts, beer, and polish sausages down our pancake holes while smoking a cigarette. Arnold seems to think freedom of choice resides in his mansion.

Well, unless it's related to sexual freedom. After all, he signed SB777, which effectively removed the concept of mom and dad in California schools. He also signed a smoking ban that makes criminals out of people who light up in a car including someone under the age of 18. And don't even mention his stance on global warming (CO2 a pollutant, trans-fat a toxin, just nuts). He's been trending towards the mommy party for awhile now.

Actually, this is a fine example of why government-run health care is a disaster in the making. Think about it as it relates to food choices and premiums and risk. In the short-term these fast food joints and restaurants will simply switch to an oil not yet demonized--they've no choice if their product is to retain any taste:
"This is problematic," said Jot Condie, president of the CRA. "We fear that this is a potentially slippery slope where the list could go on and on & and basically restaurants would be criminalized for having an ingredient in one of their recipes."

The CRA recently sued the City and County of San Francisco and the city's public health department over a law requiring menus to list nutritional information.

"Consumers are smart and restaurants are very smart and know what consumers want," said Condie, who deems the law entirely unnecessary
Yes, presuming the public is intelligent and can make their own choices--it's called the Republican way, a way in which Mr. Governator is apparently unfamiliar. And they accuse Bush of taking away our liberties.

There's another angle here. The story mentions record profits for the companies making the alternative oils, who stand to gain a lot from these bans if they spread to other states. Perhaps someone needs to start following the money. Surely Henry Waxman (D- California) has that one on his day planner.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama in France

The man of light has done everything but sign executive orders and pardon the Thanksgiving Turkey on this trip. Somebody better check on the nuclear football.

Here's a wild theory--he went to Afghanistan then Europe not only to look presidential by posing for pictures and proclaiming stuff nobody can argue with, but to pressure the Continentals into contributing more troops Afghanistan so he can take credit for it later. That makes him look effective while simultaneously highlighting the 'real' battle in Afghanistan.

That works because McCain has largely ignored Afghan while focusing on Iraq, other than saying he'd pursue UBL to the gates of hell. Obama can now say he's doing something about it, even though he's in no official position to do anything but campaign. But it's clear Obama would rather stress Afghanistan now that Iraq has settled down, and this trip helped.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Obama will deliver a campaign speech to Berlin voters today, preaching a sermon of hope and change that will roughly translate to "when George Bush steps down, the entire world is gonna breath a sigh of relief" or perhaps "anyone but Bush". Apparently they've banned hand-made signs, evidently to prevent photos of Obama speaking to cheering crowds holding Bushitler signs or somesuch.

The anticipation is palpable, both there and here. I happened to catch a short blurb on the radio this morning where a young German woman was interviewed about her impression of Obama and replied, "he knows something about Islam" (funny, he's been running from that over here).

Both Kerry and McCain must be secretly seething. Kerry also ran for president of Europe but got nowhere near this kind of reaction (they're expecting a million for the speech today). But to be fair, he didn't know much about Islam and probably seemed a little more militaristic than Barack. As for McCain, he's spent the last decade running from the image of typical Republican, trying to distance himself from Bush, and yet a typical German said,
"What do want, McCain to win?" that person asked. "It would be good if Obama won, and he can only do that if he convinces voters back home via the TV. So let the cameras show masses of people flocking to Obama through the Brandenburg Gate."
On with the show.

REACTION 7/24/08

Takeaways ..

Overall a good message, one even McCain could have delivered. Clearly aimed at moderates and those who think Obama lacks the international street cred to lead. Few can give a speech like the man of change but reality is something different. With that, here are my questions:
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Drought in Kansas? Not really, unless he was talking about the far western tip. But it's nice to know Beantown was responsible for melting the north pole. Now if professor Obama can only tell us which city is to blame for increasing the southern ice cap.
The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand.
He talked about walls several times. Here this seems to be a knock at border security and sovereignty, or perhaps Europe's lack of charity.
But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
Hard to argue this, since I've been saying it myself for some time.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably.
More code talk about wealth redistribution. UN-types must have been sexually aroused by this speech.
And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is both a good and bad statement, typical of Obama. He's clearly saying he's going to redeploy (end the war) but is suggesting that if chaos breaks out after we leave it won't be his fault altogether.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet.
He'll sign Kyoto, wink, wink. More largesse from America on the way.
Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
In other words, Bush is a war criminal and I'll give comprehensive immigration reform to illegals while chastising those concerned with terrorists waltzing across the border.
every point of view is expressed in our public squares..
Yes, usually in English so we can all understand.
Ironically, Barack himself was speaking English today, not German.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Time to change...the narrative

Really sad. CNN's Jack Cafferty is one among other netrooters questioning John McCain's command of the facts about Iraq and his judgment to lead based solely on his response to Katie Couric's suggestion that Obama has questioned the surge's effectiveness:
“I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.”
Couric's interview can be viewed here.

Well OK, but the beginnings of the awakening did not equate to its success. The same Sheikh McCain mentioned was later KILLED, which some on the left tried to use as proof the surge was a failure. Indeed, Reid was saying the war was "lost" several months after the surge began. Sorry Dems, that dog won't hunt.

Meanwhile, Cafferty must have forgotten his own network's expose on snipers, provided to them by the snipers themselves, which aired in September and October 2006 before the elections.

And chaos was the general view supported by Democrats at the time, who were running on a Six Point Plan that harped on Bush's "wrong directions", such as:
failed to provide strategy to stabilize Iraq or begin the responsible redeployment of our troops
Now that a new strategy has pulled victory from the jaws of Reid's defeat it's time to change the narrative. But the bottom line is that while McCain might be wrong on a few small details he was right on what mattered, and Barack was wrong. Attempting to politicize it only tends to support McCain's earlier point.

Besides, it's possible this whole thing is just a clever smokescreen designed to gloss over Barack's inability to admit his mistakes, made evident by his recent stammering under the hot lights. And where have we seen that before?

MORE 7/23/08

Sam Stein at HuffPo has noticed that Sunni Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed in September 2007 in the midst of the surge, and thinks this constitutes a gaffe because McCain mentioned him as the person the surge was designed to protect. Excuse me, but he just might be a moron.

The crux of this entire kerfuffle revolves around Obama's hint that the Anbar Awakening was mostly responsible for the recent reduction in violence, and that it began before the surge. McCain is saying it wouldn't have succeeded without the surge, as casualty rates have only recently come down this year. The loss of the man who championed the pushback against al Qaeda, during the middle of the surge, serves only as proof the increase was vital to protecting the movement, which later turned the tide. It can only bolster McCain's view.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Mother of all Photo-ops

Mission accomplshed? The tour is almost over and certainly many of the goals were met. After all, Huffpo described his State and military greeters as a mob, quite appropriate for the arrival of a rock star.

Everyone's speculating, so here's mine. First, he was trying to associate himself positively with the military. McCain owns national defense (72 percent believe he's the CIC bomb) but generally struggles everywhere else. Perhaps team Obama figured it was worth the gamble if the tour could take a few chinks out of that armor and quiet McCain's criticism. At the same time it was a gamble they had to take because voters need to feel comfortable with the man holding the button, and right now they don't have warm fuzzies with Obama.

He probably also wanted to gain some control over the recent success in Iraq before it goes to McCain. His erroneous surge redeployment strategy figures to be a very difficult cat to walk backwards unless things return to worms. He needed some control of the message--no silly hat pictures--and the scripted nature of the first impact images was apparent enough to drop the jaw of at least one well-known journo. As soon as Terry Moran got an interview Obama immediately committed a gaffe, but the damage was done.

Finally, they got him as close to camouflage as humanly possible without him wearing it. As we know, every candidate must appear in camo at some point along the trail to win over the bitter clingers. Right now it's a bit too obvious but eventually they may try to slip him into a duck blind or deer stand if the race stays close. It's all about photo-ops.

But speaking of photo-ops, the irony of Moran framing his report in front of the Saddam swords brings to mind Barack's biggest card--the one that closed the deal--that he was the only candidate against the war from the start. It was a card Hillary just couldn't defend, even with the most banal lies and distortions, and even though a Democratic ticket with Hillary at the top and Obama second would have been unbeatable, almost ensuring DNC power for 12 to 16 years (not 8-10).

Of course nobody bothered to ask the man of diplomacy how it felt to be walking around Baghdad International without body armor, an airport whose name would still be Saddam Intl had we followed his 2002 advice.

And nobody asked him whether he'd consider meeting, without pre-conditions, one of the biggest leaders of the Baath-al Qaeda insurgency and number one man on Iraq' Most Wanted 41, Izzat al-Duri, who recently proclaimed:
Addouri sounded definitely confident of victory and reiterated that the U.S. -led occupation has already been defeated, and "in despair is looking for an exit." The resistance "has destroyed the alliance of evil, the parties of which are escaping one after another.
But never mind, how about that shot he dropped from 20 feet (or was it 35 feet)? It was almost a swish.

Near miss for Ron Paul

Look out:
A Continental Airlines flight carrying seven members of Congress from Houston to Washington was forced to make an emergency landing after it lost cabin pressure Tuesday afternoon. Flight 458 was bound for Reagan National Airport, but was diverted and landed safely in New Orleans, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Ted Poe told 11 News.

Poe and fellow Congressmen Nick Lampson, Ron Paul..
The story also said the plane had an hour delay before takeoff in Houston due to an engine problem. Or should engine problem be in scare quotes? Somebody please start the official Alex Jones head explosion watch.

UPDATE 7/23/08

Hmmmm. Ron Paul was just peddling doom in Infowars a week ago, saying something big is coming soon. But the plane didn't crash. Guess the Illuminati were only trying to scare him.

HT Right Truth.

Monday, July 21, 2008

US flag removed from Barack's campaign jet?

So says World Net Daily. And while it would be tasty good to think that Obama would essentially remove an American flag lapel pin from the tail of his campaign plane, it doesn't appear to be the case.

Obama had been chartering a North American Airlines charter 757 through the primary season for his campaign plane. About a month ago that plane went into the shop to be refurbished and repainted after Obama won the nomination and he briefly used an American Airlines MD80. So, WND is correct in one sense, that the very same plane has been alterred to have the flag removed.

The problem is, Obama didn't put the flag there in the first place. Here's another NAA aircraft, a Boeing 767 (not Obama's plane):

There's the same flag. Now, here's the former Obama jet:

Here it is now, after the upgrade:

By the way, here's McCain's plane:

See any flags? (SEE UPDATE BELOW)

After the campaign Obama's plane will undoubtedly return to normal livery and service, with the flag re-added. There is no story here.

However, Obama can only blame himself for people thinking he'd remove a flag from his campaign jet before an important Middle Eastern tour after what we saw with the flag pin/national anthem flap and his friendliness with a flag-stomping domestic terrorist named William Ayers.

But the right wing needs to be careful lest they be labeled a bunch of yahoo reactionaries, knee-jerking to every little story. Once labeled it could act to diminish further legitimate bashing (and there's much to bash).

UPDATE 7/22/08

The McCain photo above might be photo-shopped, as mentioned by a commenter. There are very few pictures available on the net showing his aircraft, other than a Jet Blue A320. The photo above looks strikingly similar to the Airbus corporate livery. So, if the commenter provides a link or image, I'll post, but I am assuming it's a fake for now. It doesn't change the overall storyline, though, but an apology will follow if I'm wrong about McCain's display of the flag.

FLAG DAY 7/25/08

Commenter Mataharley has located the McCain plane and the aforementioned flag. This proves the posted pic was almost surely a photo-shop, and I apologize for posting without definitive proof it was really McCain's. Now, perhaps we can all move on?

Satirical retribution?

Although the New Yorker cover featuring Obama in a Muslim costume was portrayed as satire by the magazine, some did take a more literal view. Like team Obama, for instance. And team McCain. And some of the bitter clingers. And those who tend to view things through race-colored glasses. Still, most in the intelligentsia went to bat to protect satire.

But is there a price to pay for living on the satirical edge? According to Mike Allen at Politico, maybe so:
The campaign received 200 requests for press seats on the plane.

Among those for whom there was no room was Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent of The New Yorker. The campaign, which was furious about the magazine’s satirical cover this week, cited space constraints in turning him away
None other than Rachel Sklar at HuffPo was not very amused, suggesting:
Wow. So it's gonna be like that, is it? Retribution for unfavorable coverage is a chilling thing to contemplate — literally, as in, it carries with it the very real risk of chilling bold, outspoken coverage.
Speaking of robust debate, this topic has certainly produced it, dividing those who usually agree. McCain supporters such as Stormwarning (check out his latest post if you don't believe it) has been very outspoken about those who 'agreed' with the cartoon and other unnecessary methods of slamming Obama, suggesting he's plenty ripe enough for criticism above the Hussein level. Satire is a concept that needs nurturing, because it has a place in an open, free, and polite society.

So if Ryan Lizza is really important enough to qualify for being blackballed by team Obama then it's certainly a chilling message--"play by our rules or begone". In other words, a clever way to herd the press into the stalls Obama wants them via faux outrage over anything negative. Then again I can't help but wonder if some of these happenings aren't being organized by the 'keep Hillary alive' brigade. She still hasn't given up her delegates and some of her supporters are, shall we say, passionate.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Charmed, I'm sure

Obama sat down with the charming Lara Logan of CBS to discuss the war fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he considers very critical. Watch the whole thing, otherwise you'll miss the highlights edited out of the short version:
  • He said we need to take a "regional approach" and not be myopic about Iraq, meaning we have to engage Pakistan (as if we haven't yet). Apparently this is some kind of reverse regional approach that eliminates Iraq from the region, which is located in the source region for most of the "Afghan Arab" Mujihadeen who are now flowing into the region.
  • He suggested we could have captured the leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban had we not "taken our eyes off the ball". Obama supporters might argue this doesn't mean at Tora Bora but inclusive from the time they got away. OK, but the last time they were known to be in Afghanistan was at Tora Bora and we haven't had a fix since in Pakistan, so he seems to be saying we 'took our eye off the ball' BEFORE we went into Iraq. How?
  • An Obama regime would be less unilateral and more involved in the interests of other countries. This despite his re-iterated policy from last year wherein he'd go after high value targets wherever they are, even if the host country said no, perhaps an even more draconian Bush doctrine than the real one.
Wonder if someone could pose this hypothetical to Obama--since Zarqawi and one of the WTC 1 bombers were in Iraq before the invasion; and since Saddam wasn't about to turn over anybody without significant concessions the west would surely consider to be deal-breakers that could undermine the UN sanction process; would Obama have veered from that policy with Saddam, even knowing he didn't have nukes?

At any rate, Logan seemed fully charmed.

MORE 7/20/08

Despite Obama's inconsistent logic on the war he's correct that the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse, thanks to Pakistan:
Afghanistan is replacing Iraq as the destination of choice for international jihadists, Western intelligence agencies claim. Analysts have monitored a surge in online recruitment of “lions of Islam” to join the war in Afghanistan through jihadist websites,
At the same time perhaps Obama's rhetoric gives Bush cover to get more aggressive with the Pakis and the tribal areas, which has independently declared war on NATO forces in Afghanistan, and hence that country itself. Perhaps the much-anticipated show of air power sometime before the end of the year will not come in Iran, but a little further east?

Whatever the case, something must be done soon to ebb the flow. AQ's overall plan is to wage a long war, which stretches western resolve and drains our treasuries, something western economies can't withstand forever.

Gore Nation

Al Gore's latest attempt to win friends and influence people occurred at the Netroots Nation conference:
“The defenders of the status quo are the ones who have dug us into this hole,” he said, commenting that Americans have been “so often fooled into finding a remedy for a problem" that has nothing to do with the problem at hand — pointing to the invasion of Iraq when America was attacked by terrorists in Afghanistan as an example.
Rational people could conclude Gore helped shovel that 'hole' as VP for eight years, which included the WARMEST YEAR in the past century, 1998, without changing the way we lived. Guess we had more than a decade back then, but a decade later we suddenly only have a decade left. Unless Obama is elected.

But change is indeed here with 4 buck a gallon gas, ironically close to the target goal in "Earth in the Balance". Gore's solution seems to be to punish the little man for driving his evil car instead of using our own resources because it punishes Gaia (that's where the climate thing really comes in handy). It's a castor oil approach to government except for those with enough get out of climate jail free offset cards to weather any disturbances on the way to energy Valhalla.

Strange, his always friendly audiences never seem curious about such punishment (are there any Gore hecklers?), often including the media (whenever they're not too busy hinting that Bush needlessly fearmongers over terror and takes away civil liberties--as we know, fearmongering over climate is patriotic and acceptable).

Pointing out the obvious, it wouldn't be a Netroots speech without the oft-repeated drivel about Iraq being a mistake because AQ was in Afghanistan, even used completely out of context as Gore did. It's like pablum. Disregard Gore's own State Department list of terrorist-sponsoring nations and his own 1992 speech--all now 'settled' and 'inconvenient', debate over.

But hey, the rhetoric works or he wouldn't use it. Some folks want to believe, like in aliens, unicorns and winning the lottery. It's better than believing in a world where religious extremists unafraid to die pursue hobbies like decapitation with steak knives, forcing airline passengers into unscheduled stops in buildings, or to exit such structures through the windows. To believe Bush and the Joooos are the culprits requires only a new president to fix things, backed by the occasional and justified Katyusha rocket attack from the keffiyah resistance, of course.

There's your change. Obama is running on it, and he's just Gore with a slicker delivery.

Shark Attack!

Good Lord, is that 53 year old Greg Norman leading the British Open after three rounds? Yep. Thank you Tiger for blowing out your knee while nipping 82 year old Rocco Mediate in the US Open so we could get one final Sunday with Greg in contention in a major.

I'll stay away from all that stuff about his divorce and remarriage to tennis great Chrissy Evert, I'm just enjoying the 70s flashback. Maybe the Little River Band will show up and play "Help is on the Way" with an appearance by Bjorn and Martina.

Anyway, if Norman melts down during the final round it won't matter (unlike the 1996 Masters) because he's clearly performing way above expectations at this point. Who knows, it's an advantage he never had before. And while he may be known more for not getting it done at clutch time I'll certainly remember the showman who won the 1997 Memphis Fed Ex tournament by sinking a long curling putt on the final hole. Good luck, Shark.

MORE 7/20/08

To be clear, the above wasn't meant to be gleeful about Tiger's injury. His performance against Mediate in the US Open was almost other worldly considering the nature of his at the time, hidden injuries. Almost certainly, if he were healthy then Norman's performance wouldn't be the main headline going into today.

JOLLY GOOD 7/20/08

If it were any other 53 year old golfer Norman's weekend story would be miraculous (well, perhaps until Tiger reaches his 50s). But it was Greg Norman, who had one more chance to exorcise the demons and change a legacy marred not only by his own failures but by several miracles pulled off by his competitors at the last minute. Alas, the story remains the same. Consolation prize--another return to Augusta.

As to the winner, a good-natured, unassuming Irishman named Paddy, he now has as many Claret Jugs as the Shark. Indeed it's a good day for the Irish, especially after a certain Englishman in the field bragged so much. Aye.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Side tracks

In light of McCain's recent funny on Conan..

Here's a song about the long struggle to get to the top..

Oddly enough, the words seem pertinent to politicians as well, especially those with the battle scars to prove it.

The Neverending Story

MSNewsweek recently reported on Attorney General Mukasey's denial of a subpoena requesting the FBI 302 interview form from Cheney's 2004 sit-down about the Plame matter, expressing frustration and disappointment for Henry Waxman and for all the wasted champagne and party hats.

If noting else the story drew Tom Maguire out of his self-imposed Plame moratorium, postulating correctly that due to the nature of this claim the champagne and party hats could return during an Obama administration if the man of consensus so desires. As to Darth Cheney:
And Fitzgerald introduced a copy of the Wilson op-ed marked up in Cheney's handwriting with a mention of Wilson's wife.
Which leaves me a question. If Cheney was focusing on Wilson's wife from early June and was supposedly the first one to tell Libby why did he mark up a newspaper column from July 6 as if it was something new? Did he forget? After all, he's old and kinda sickly (consistency is a virtue).

Team Newsweek was full of questions, such as why the White House allowed Rove's 302 to be given to the committee but not Cheney's. Their hired expert said it was nearly unprecedented. Well, I'm neither an expert, lawyer, or hired, but it seems possible that Cheney's FBI interview might have focused on his White House conversations with close advisors, the very core of any executive privilege claim. If Rove's 302 focused mainly on what he told reporters, or what others in the administration below level of prez had told him, then it makes some sense.

Yes, both Cheney and Bush submitted themselves to interviews yet after hearing those interviews Fitzgerald didn't go after either, suggesting there wasn't much there of an incriminating nature. That leaves a standard privilege argument.

And while Newsweek seemed to delight in leaving the sinister impression this was virgin territory it's not everyday Congress has access to a vice-presidential 302. Waxman was essentially attempting to make an end run around the White House, which is likely why Mukasey characterized it as such, and why he got the buzzer sound.

But back to Maguire's question--will Obama carry the torch if elected? He'll get pressure from some of the hardest nutrooters, like some rapid Republicans pressured Bush vis a vis the Clintons in 2001. But Bush wouldn't even go after Hillary for stealing the furniture or messing up the W keys. History and 50 bucks says Obama will take the same path.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ashcroft on the Hill

The Congress finally found John Ashcroft. The former Attorney General came out of semi-hiding and testified before the full House Judiciary Committee Thursday about his role in the detainee interrogations memos, pretty much another collective yawn for the media despite some moments of candor and verve.

Mr. Ashcroft unsurprisingly declined to call waterboarding torture but he did say he wished he'd paid more attention to terrorism before 9/11, something the left has repeatedly bashed him about. They were also atwitter over this, but at the same time couldn't have been thrilled with one of the witnesses brought in to help the Congressmen nail Ashcroft.

Former Solicitor General Dellinger (Clinton 93-96) testified that presidents have a duty to sometimes ignore laws if they believe them to be unconstitutional but if faced with a ticking bomb scenario they should order the action then resign immediately if laws were broken.

Republicans countered by asking him if FDR should have resigned when he ordered mustard gas carried in Navy ships during WWII (in case the Germans used theirs) to which he generally said no, but was forced to accede that FDR was protecting America from the Axis while Bush was protecting America from AQ. Whoops.

But the only thing approaching a sound bite came from our illustrious Rep Steve Cohen, who after tossing out some boilerplate about blaming Bush for 9/11 managed to get a response from the former AG about that infamous hospital drama (towards the end of the clip):

All in all, John Ashcroft handled the questions well and wasn't prone to much squirming, meaning we basically learned nothing. Just another day in DC for the accomplish-nothing Dems. Ironically, while they were dickering around about the meaning of torture some real torture was proven across the other side of the world. That's the same place another lawyer, Barack Obama, will soon be heading. Wonder if he'll mention it?

Speaking ill of the dead

Did Jesse Jackson's recent hot mic slip on Fox count as speaking ill of the dead?
On Monday, July 9, 2007, during its 98th Annual National Convention in Detroit, Michigan, the NAACP will conduct a mock funeral to bury the N-Word.
Perhaps Jesse just buried himself, figuratively speaking. Al doesn't seem to mind very much. Not sure, does this mean Whoopi hates the NAACP or just loves free speech more? Or is speech only free for those who've paid their dues? All very confusing.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TWA 800, case closed?

Today is the 12th anniversary of the downing of TWA flight 800. In conjunction the FAA had a special announcement to "close the door on fuel tank explosions":
We’ve worked with Boeing to further develop the technology so that it will now be mandatory. Older aircraft will be required to retrofit their systems. New aircraft will have the technology built in.
Long time readers know I've got my own opinions on 800. Let's just say I'm surprised the 9/11 truthers aren't interested since 9/11 pales in comparison on the weirdness scale. Unlike twoofers I'm perfectly willing to admit a sparked wire caused the crash just as soon as the NTSB finds evidence of a spark. All they found was a fray. Actually, it was the way the authorities handled the investigation that caused some people to become skeptics.

The FAA appeared proud of themselves for finally issuing directives on the dangerous problem of exploding fuel tanks after all these years. The airlines weren't impressed, preferring to continue believing such events are so rare as to not be worth the cost of retrofit. Statistics would back them up--800 was the first in the modern jet age to blow up in midair and has been the last.

Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing. It will definitely make these rare explosions even more rare, regardless of the possible ignition sources. Matter of fact, the FAA was very careful to stipulate that retrofitting would only apply to airliners with Center Wing Tanks (under the fuselage), or about 2730 Airbus and Boeings (not nearly the entire fleet). According to the Washington Post the retrofit would not apply to cargo jets because as we all know, cargo jets never explode.

Interestingly, the FAA's union NATCA was first to ask the obvious question--why just retrofit CWTs and not wing tanks as well? After all, they're close to the jet engines. Part of the explanation comes from a so-called "warm days" provision relating to the center wing tanks' proximity to the tarmac, which was cited as a possible contributing factor in 800 even though the temperature at JFK that day only reached the upper 80s. All I can say is if 87 degree days are enough to cause explosions then Memphis and Phoenix have been unbelievably lucky all these years.

Nuances of that nature will keep the conspiracists going on this one for awhile longer. The bottom line is we still don't know what caused the spark, whether a missile, bomb or spark in a wire. But weird behavior by the authorities, including the CIA, doesn't automatically prove a terrorist attack or Navy shootdown. Matter of fact, a fear of rampant litigation against the airlines or aerospace industry can easily explain some of the weirdness all by itself. Lawyers sue, and we've got lots of 'em.

But amidst all the apparent closure perhaps it was fitting this story popped out yesterday. Kinda speaks for itself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Feith on the Hill

Douglas Feith, commonly known to the left as the evil progenitor of torture and various myths tying Saddam and bin Laden, was in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee yesterday. Who knew?

Apparently not too many. There is almost nothing in the news about this testimony, nor can much be found on You Tube. When David Addington and John Yoo testified before the subcommittee last month there was considerable interest, especially after Congressman Delahunt suggested that al Qaeda might be happy to see the guests on TV.

But no such frivolity took place with the Feith hearing, mainly because Feith didn't allow it. The testimony can be found on CSPAN with a warning, it's pretty long (2+ hours). Much of it stays close to his opening statement in tone, which was adamant about the care taken to remain within a humane framework in trying to glean critical information out of those who wanted to kill American civilians in the worst ways imaginable.

  • Feith said he was subpoenaed but it wasn't necessary--he wanted to testify.
  • Feith said General Hill of Southcom came to the administration looking for more latitude for interrogating the toughest nuts because the Field Manual wasn't working.
  • Issa asked that Reps Harmon and Pelosi be brought before the committee because they were briefed on tactics (by Feith among others) in 2002.
  • Under Geneva, category 2 methods were approved by Rummy but only one Category 3 method, "light shoving or poking with a finger" was approved.
The irony here is palpable--the Democrats are today operating in the sanguine climate of a 2008 devoid of attacks, made possible in part by the very same witnesses they continue to grill and allow others to characterize as torturting murderers. It's no surprise the President didn't want these bozos to have too much knowledge of the sensitive national security initiatives involved in fighting this war, which itself is a crying shame.

Post-mortems should be possible without creating a climate of condemnation and guilt strictly for political gain, something to should be remembered by the Republicans should Obama win and we see another attack.

Bush really did lie!

Addressing the assembled jackals of the press on Tuesday:
Bush expanded on this riff, however, with a strange movement vaguely reminiscent of a genie granting a wish: "You can't just say, 'low gas!'"
But apparently you can! Since Monday crude oil has cratered:
Light, sweet crude for August delivery fell $4.14 to settle at $134.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier sinking as low as $132. The drop follows a $6.44 sell-off Tuesday, crude's biggest since the Gulf War.
Maybe the magic words were not "low gas" but "executive order rescinded".

Of course, Pelosi holds the same magic wand and can wave it by simply acting to rescind the Congressional ban on drilling. But do they really want to lose a political talking point?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hitchens versus Obama

Christopher Hitchens appears to be on a quest--make everyone in the world hate him before he takes leave.

First he supported the Iraq war, angering his lefty friends but gaining a strange new alliance of pro-war Bush-loving conservatives, most of whom probably weren't aware of his overall politics. Then he attacked God, leaving most of those new-found friends in a frenzied lerch, unsure how to take their new ally. Next he declared waterboarding to be "torture", which warmed him further to his former pals on the port side, who'd previously declared him a bigger Judas figure than Lieberman.

But his recent column should dispel any notion he's on anyone's side:
If there is one element of moral and political certainty that cements the liberal consensus more than any other, it is the complacent view that while Iraq is "a war of choice," it is really and only Afghanistan that is a war of necessity. The ritualistic solidity of this view is impressive. It survives all arguments and all evidence.
Indeed he's right, there are two exercises that can accompany any attempt to convince anti-war liberals of their failed logic in this arena, one is bashing one's head against a brick wall and the other is falling into a catatonic trance. All three seem to produce equal results. The anti-Bush crowd is so deeply invested in Iraq's failure that letting go might be a fate worse than 20 years of continual Reagan movies.

In reality, those folks should have collectively apologized to America when the WMDs weren't found. It was Bill Clinton who "fearmongered" about Saddam to justify his Mesopotamian bombing raids (and the one over Khartoum) in the name of stopping the maniac Butcher from one day raining terror across the world. Instead, most lefties decided the best defense was a good offensive and blamed everything on Heir Bush, and with selective help from some in the media they've largely succeeded.

Ah, but all roads now lead to the ultimate point of that offensive, regaining the White House. Hitchens' main focus was their presumptive candidate and his near scatological approach to the conflicts we face, made clear again today by the latest flop, which McCain jumped on like a cat on a crippled rat:
"Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan," McCain said in prepared remarks.

"And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: First you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy."
This dovetails well with Hitchens' reminder of this now almost forgotten golden moment, quite appropriate as Obama begins his mystery tour of the war zone:

For awhile those comments created a mini firestorm in the primary season, which translated into this classic exchange on an MSNBC debate:

Hitch also noticed something else Obama's rivals didn't at the time:
Did he mean to say that, come to think of it, we had enough troops to occupy three countries instead of the stipulated and solitary one? Or would he just exchange Iraq for Pakistan? At least we do know for sure that Pakistan has nuclear weapons acquired mainly by piracy and is the host and patron of the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Case in point, Obama calls the fight in Iraq a "war" while calling the war in Afghanistan a "fight". That's clearly designed to differentiate one from the other to appeal to those incapable of following the above logic.

But he can't even get Iraq right. Tom Maguire pointed out yesterday that simply saying he'll "stop the war" in Iraq won't act as some kind of magic wand if indeed there is really a civil war there now; if anything it'll be a worse civil war upon our departure. So the "war" will only be stopped as far as the US is concerned, despite the regional chaos we might leave behind.

Behold, the problem with politicizing a war. The more Obama tries to contort his views to anything but Bush, the more convoluted and illogical and inconsistent he becomes.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bush's oil gambit

It might not help, but it sounds like a brilliant political move with only months to go before an election:
Putting pressure on congressional Democrats to back more exploration for oil, President Bush on Monday lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling that has stood since his father was president. But the move, by itself, will do nothing unless Congress acts as well.
No Karl Rove needed to figure this one out--Congress has some pesky options ahead.

They can try to shelve this issue while cloaking it with idiotic and childish rhetoric ("once again, the oilman in the White House is echoing the demands of Big Oil,"-- said the Speaker of the US House) something not likely to sit well with those paying 50+ bucks a fill-up, especially if oil continues to rise. Even with a friendly MSM at their sides to explain things such a course resembles a rowboat nearing the edge of Niagara Falls.

Or, they can vote against easing the ban and maintain their environmental stand, despite recent polls showing a 2-1 margin in favor of more domestic drilling. Again, not very popular, especially if oil prices continue to rise. It'll be particularly ticklish for the Reps and Senators going back to their districts and holding town hall meetings. There's only so far they can take "Bush is a mean oil man" before people start yelling "yeah? what are you morons doing to fix it?"

Forcing a vote also forces Senator Obama to take a stand. He will not be able to run away and hide when votes are cast on such a major issue knowing McCain will be there will bells on. But what to do? If he votes against the environmentalists and the party base he'll invite even more wrath from a faithful already mad as fire about FISA and the lack of an impeachment. Not only that, it will be a colossal flip-flop and something repeated like Groundhog Day in every GOP commercial down the stretch.

But, if he stays with principle and party he'll risk appearing an ineffectual elitist puffer, someone more concerned about Seagulls than the common man. Barack doesn't need any more setbacks with the Joe Sixpack crowd. Those very same people hold the key to his victory.

He may try to appear sympathetic while at the same time retreating into boilerplate, ie, having it both ways. This quote seems to suggest it:
"If offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks," spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement. "But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither. It would merely prolong the failed energy policies we have seen from Washington for thirty years."
In other words, opening up more land for drilling is a "failed policy" with oil at 150 dollars per barrel because the results won't come in for a few years, but counting on the technology fairy to deliver cheaper and cleaner technology overnight is brilliantly superior. Good luck with that before an election. But dang, if anyone can pull it off it might be Obama.

We're forgetting one wild card--the woman yet to release her delegates. The woman whose rapid supporters are calling for a floor vote at the Convention. The one who could step up and appear decisive here. That woman. Hmm, maybe it's time for team Obama to manufacture another diversion. Reverend Sharpton, you're up!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

About that New Yorker cover...

Mike Allen of Politico doesn't quite have all the outrages down:
The Obama campaign is condemning as “tasteless and offensive” a New Yorker magazine cover that depicts Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a turban, fist-bumping his gun-slinging wife. An American flag burns in their fireplace.
First of all, it's not their fireplace, it appears to be the Oval Office fireplace (assuming there is one). And he missed the picture of Osama bin Laden on the wall.

But the outrage potential is understandable. In reading the very long New Yorker piece (click on pic for link) it's obvious Obama has long longed for high office and therefore long understood the value of making friends outside his own constituencies. That means the white community, absolutely necessary if a black man is to win the presidency.

Arguably his worst gaffe of the campaign so far was to mention the "bitter clingers" because of the damage that could inflict on the traditional white voters. No doubt his "fight the smears" website was set up to reassure white voters that 1) he wasn't a Muslim, or 2) didn't sympathize with terrorists. The drawing works against that effort, even if satire.

But at the same time, not everything in it was satire. Obama is shown wearing the same garb he wore during a trip to Africa some years ago, something he generally shouldn't desire to toss under the bus, unless he thinks Africa will fit.

As to the burning flag, their friend the former domestic terrorist did a tap dance on Old Glory in 2001. It's interesting the piece hardly mentioned Ayers (something sure to amuse Tom Maguire) other than to say he's been accepted back into polite Chicago society, suggesting his flag dance was perhaps acceptable to those folks, too.

So perhaps the cover could actually work in Obama's favor as yet another way to suggest that asking questions about his past associations actually represents a smear, with those doing so worthy of nothing but ridicule. Time will tell as the complaints come in and the general consensus is formed.

Perhaps the most interesting reaction might come from camp Clinton. Bill just got through speaking out against the troubling divisions in America so a comment seems in order. And perhaps we'll even get one from Hillary if she can manage to remove the duct tape.