Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Groundhog Re-Emerges

And sees six more weeks of man-made global warming, delivered via a New York Times article. But a few things were missing..

1. He didn't call skeptics were 'flat-earthers' or believers in a faked moon landing.
2. He didn't explain how, if weather is now climate why it wasn't climate years ago, when the earth was just as warm (say around 1998).
3. Why it matters that January 2010 was 'hot' when everyone knows that one month doesn't make a trend.

What he did say was to reiterate the importance of this entire movement--that global governance and restrictions are necessary to save the earth. You can read his analogies of how free market capitalism and Fox News/Rush Limbaugh are destroying the world on page three of the article, and how they must be reigned in. So what's a few little 'mistakes' in the science.

MORE 2/28/10

Ann Althouse provides another reason why she's a real blogger while I'm just throwing words at a screen. Her dissection of Algore's return from his secret location gets right to the heart of the Frankenstein by nailing the screaming message--how dare we not roll over and accept our socialism fate unlike the dangerous, divisive right wingers calling it socialism.

Her argument using a parallel to the Iraq war was also nice. The Brits like to blast Blair for 'sexing up' the evidence on WMDs to justify Iraq but so far I haven't heard that term used to describe the likely deliberate errors in the 2007 IPCC finding, designed to prepare the world for the coming global wealth redistribution CO2 mitigation plan.

She also said something else:
Oh? Just a coincidence? Al Gore has unwittingly tweaked my suspicion that the scientists are politicos.
There's evidence. Check out a recent interview with the creator of the hockey stick, Penn State's Michael Mann, where he uses an analogy of the angry health care town halls to make his point about the regeneration of the climate debate:
The debate over the reality of climate change was still alive and well. And now there is such a poisonous atmosphere being created by the climate skeptics — similar in many ways to that poisonous atmosphere we saw last summer in those healthcare town hall meetings — irrational sort of conspiracy-driven lunatics, frankly, entering into the fray — where the discourse has been so skewed to the point where those extreme voices are a substantial component in the debate.
Only a liberal would use that analogy. If you read the whole thing it's painfully obvious this guy is delusional if he really believes there's a "David vs Goliath" mentality now between AGW and skeptics, with climate scientists taking on David's role. Even the friendly interviewer took umbrage to that notion. Good grief, the public has been subjected to a near vacuum of stories on the skeptical side of the debate for years from a press that has largely been in Gore's back pocket--which Mann admits by saying they took it for granted the debate was already over to the point he had to warn scientists not to get complacent!

And now the climategate emails have suggested that hey, maybe the debate really isn't quite over yet; maybe some of those flat earth kooks aren't really all just vile pigs spewing oil-industry crap after all.

BTW, his interview style is similar to Gore's by trying to make himself an underdog to the carbon man while at the same time repeating the mantra that dissent is pure evil. He wasn't dumb enough to suggest, like Gore, that the only saving route is world governance (restricted free markets) but that kind of thinking fits in nicely with what many modern scientists most probably believe, being kids who grew up watching a steady diet of eco-protesters spraying No Nukes on bridge overpasses and warning of alar-filled apples and 3 mile islands, evil DDT and saving the whales from Exxon Valdez, all perpetuated by the likes of CBS News' 60 Minutes and others in the trusting leftist media that Mann now claims has betrayed him with this report.

Or in other words someone finally had the temerity to tell the other side of Mann's story by reporting the facts as known without a giant slant towards the AGW side, and for that he is incensed. He's lucky, they could have reported on the cash-c0w he's become for the university by bringing in all those grants--millions and millions, and counting.

Side Tracks

A little late to the plate this weekend, but here goes. George Benson was a great college friend of mine, helping me wind down and study when the need arose. Here's one from the Breezin' album..

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Liberal Frustration

CNN is having some fun today presenting a study that concludes liberals are smarter than conservatives:
"Liberals are more likely to be concerned about total strangers; conservatives are likely to be concerned with people they associate with," he said. Given that human ancestors had a keen interest in the survival of their offspring and nearest kin, the conservative approach -- looking out for the people around you first -- fits with the evolutionary picture more than liberalism, Kanazawa said. "It's unnatural for humans to be concerned about total strangers." he said.

The study found that young adults who said they were "very conservative" had an average adolescent IQ of 95, whereas those who said they were "very liberal" averaged 106.
Not sure that science is settled yet, but note the obvious (but unspoken) parallel to Obama and the Republican Congress, tea partiers, Rush Limbaugh, et al.

Meanwhile Tom Maguire, in dissecting the gushing liberal praises of Obama's health care summit performance, points to this New York Times profile from 2008 in trying to figure out Barack's bizarre auto insurance analogy (bizarre for us dumb conservatives, but perhaps so smart that it sails over our heads), which contains this in regards to a failed community meeting regards asbestos at a housing project:
“Barack basically talked about how tough it was to generate real results through organizing and that it was embarrassing to him to have the residents out of control,” he recounted.

“He wondered if he had done a good enough job preparing them for the meeting,” Mr. Owens said. “He sounded angry at himself. He was questioning the whole methodology.”

Mr. Obama had risen to executive director of the Developing Communities group, but the demanding hours, small victories and low pay took a toll on him, and he decided to leave.

“ ‘We are not making large-scale change, and I want to be involved in doing that,’ ” Mr. Kellman said Mr. Obama had told him.
While digesting this please keep in mind the liberal post-game analysis from Jonathan Chait about the Healthcare Smackdown, that Obama was comparable to LeBron James playing a junior varsity squad or thereabouts. Perhaps this asbestos debacle anecdote can be useful in determining how he might react to a less than successful meeting with more recent adversaries. He will show us the way forward next week, so we'll have to wait and see.

But it's clear Obama has now risen to the top of the frustration pole on his mission for change. When he was a community organizer and things went bad he had the option to move to a higher level to git er done, but now that he's the president his elevator has come to the top floor. He can't go any higher within constitutional boundaries should the Congressional rabble fail to come through. What would LeBron do?

Af-Pak Happenings

The news about the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi by Iran has thrown a ton of uncertainty into the mix coming on the heels of the Baradar capture and possible relocation to Afghanistan.

Iranian state TV paraded Rigi out for a photo-op message where he claimed Obama was solely responsible for contact with Jund'allah (obviously false) and that the US wasn't that concerned about AQ or the Taliban anymore, only Iran.

US state media the New York Times was quick to point out that Bush had some dabblings with this group too, getting a twofer dig in at both Iran and Bush, but it's interesting that the Iranians cut off the relationship at Obama's inauguration to maximize propaganda. Apparently they have no trouble moving on from the Bush years, unlike Obama.

As to Baradar, Mark Hosenball of Newsweek wasn't as kind to the administration in regards to the apparent reluctance to use the HIG interrogation unit (that wasn't available for underbomber) for Taliban Two:
Some of the officials say they find this puzzling, since Baradar, who before his capture served as the Afghan Taliban's top military commander, is widely believed to possess information that might be very useful to U.S. and allied forces fighting his Taliban comrades in Afghanistan.
Maybe that makes Rigi's 'propaganda' a little more interesting.

BTW....

Here's what I uttered on this blog January 31st of the year 2010:
In the meantime here's a thought--why not hold the trial in DC? The administration has already said they plan to try "Hambali" there and so far there's only a whimper of protest. KSM also bombed the Pentagon and tried to take out the government by hitting the Capitol or White House, so it's fitting. Besides, Washington already has a pretty strong no-fly restricted airspace zone and ample security.

And wouldn't it be just a little bit fun to see the DC politicos trying to justify not trying KSM in Washington for the same reasons New Yorkers are now saying he shouldn't be tried in New York, after saying the Big Apple should steel themselves and not let the terrorists win?
Mentioned only because today's WaPo has a feature titled, "Bring Sheikh Mohammed's Trial to D.C.", whereupon Thomas Pennfield Jackson states:
A highly competent panel of prosecutors has reportedly told the attorney general that it is convinced it has sufficient admissible, credible and untainted evidence to convict KSM of the criminal conspiracy behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and most of its substantive criminal acts. There is virtually no possibility of an acquittal or even a hung jury.
Nice to see my influence in action over a former federal judge but c'mon, virtually no possibility of acquittal? Really? Hell, why not just blast the man with a hellfire from close range and save a lot of dough, since it's apparently legal and authorized.

Friday, February 26, 2010

17 Years Ago Today

February 26, 1993--with Kuwait celebrating their second "Liberation Day" in memory of the ouster of Saddam's Army by valiant US/coalition forces, a sinister event was about to transpire in New York.

Several terrorists led by a man named Abdul Basit Karim, or "Ramzi Yousef" according to his Iraqi passport, drove a rented Ryder Truck packed with explosives and cyanide into the parking garage of the World Trade Center with hopes the massive bomb would topple one tower into the next and kill over a hundred thousand in lower Manhattan.

Little did we know it then but the War on Terror had begun.

It would take eight years and an elaborate plot by Karim's Kuwaiti-born uncle to forever change the landscape of lower Manhattan and bring this war home to the average Jane and Joe. This same man is still wreaking havoc on New York and America from his jail cell at Gitmo as we fight over how to dispense justice.

To this day it's still a mystery as to where Clinton might have retaliated had the attack been successful as planned. Despite Yousef's Iraqi passport and dozens of calls made by cell member Mohammed Salameh to his father in Iraqi--himself with ties to terror groups--and despite Iraqi national Abdul Yasin being a bomb mixer then fleeing to Iraq after the attack, Iraq was never blamed during the 90s. Al Qaeda was unknown.

Clinton did strike back quick at Iraq later in 1993, blaming the attack on the thwarted Iraqi-sponsored hit on Bush 41. He continued to sporadically bomb Saddam and search his sands for WMDs until the final flurry of shock and awe--Desert Fox--came in 1998. He also bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum in 1998, making a public tie to Osama bin Laden, who had become known via the Embassy attacks. Yes, Republicans accused Slick of wagging the dog but several others were also busy forming PNAC while Congress passed a near-unanimous resolution calling for regime change. Nobody had forgotten.

After the 1993 attack there were no calls for a fact-finding commission; likewise for Oklahoma City despite circumstantial evidence linking the two. Maybe they weren't big enough to cultivate the necessary public outrage but the 9/11 commission seemed to have no interest in dredging up that past in their pursuit of the truth.

Flash forward to today. Conventional wisdom says Yousef was an AQ operative and that bin Laden hated us and declared war on us because we took out Saddam from Saudi soil, even though we helped his mujihadeen defeat the Soviets just a few years prior and despite his much ballyhooed hatred for the scotch-drinking butcher of Baghdad.

And Yousef is locked in the Supermax for life. But it might be interesting to ask the one who almost pulled off the first 9/11 on 2/26/93 why he obtained his Iraqi passport with a date stamp of 9/11/90 to enter America in prep for the job. Was it just an odd coincidence or was it an answer to this? Does anyone really want to know? Or is it all just too much?

Health Care Showdown

Let me say that I didn't watch it live--I was at work. But in looking over the various reports and clips it's near impossible to tell who 'won' since like a heavyweight fight, each side has declared it's fighter the clear winner. Hard to see that one coming, eh?

Judging by this anecdote from Obama about his bad experience with car insurance in old Chicago days it's amazing he would ever rise to edit the law review at Harvard. Guess they didn't have uninsured motorist back then. And why was he using car insurance stories at a health care forum? Why, to bash Big Insurance of course.

Here's a clip featuring Rep Ryan where Obama has a sorta deer in headlights gaze, or maybe he was about to pass out (I'd cut him slack there). And here's O trying to goad McCain into an outburst and only managing to insult him, although Crooks and Liars called it a 'smack down'. Both sides claimed victory in the battle of Lamar Alexander, but ABC shouted their best "you lie".

According to Reuters the president "dominated the room". That doesn't mesh with David Rodham Gergen from CNN, but it lines up quite well with HuffPo. Oh well, this whole production was based on the recent thrashing O gave the GOP at their retreat with hopes for a reprise to and rescuscitation of their health care zombie in the Scott Brown era. Speaking of which, did Brown do anything for his team?

Regardless of the final score Obama stayed on script, thanked everyone, and threatened to go all reconciliation on 'em if they don't soon come around to his way of thinking. Because the time for talk is over--and this time it's for real.

BIG MEDIA REAX 2/26/10

WaPo:
Professor Obama schools lawmakers on health-care reform
Which is interesting, since he's not a doctor and doesn't seem to have a grasp on the concept of car insurance.

NY Times:
The main lesson to draw from Thursday’s health care forum is that differences between Democrats and Republicans are too profound to be bridged. That means that it is up to the Democrats to fix the country’s dysfunctional and hugely costly health care system.
Chicago Sun-Times:
Health-care reform is in peril because the Democrats lost one senator. Ted Kennedy, the 60th Democrat in the Senate, died and was replaced by a Republican. That's what changed the political equation in Congress, that's what ground momentum on reform to a halt. A sweeping loss of appetite for comprehensive reform it was not.
LA Times:
No breakthrough emerged. But Obama may have achieved a political goal, showing the American people he confronts irresolvable differences with Republicans -- a prelude to pushing ahead with a healthcare bill unilaterally.
They could have written that sentence before the event.

MORE 2/26/10

I don't have time to go through the seven hours of tape but I'm wondering if anything was said about the problem of illegal aliens straining the hospital system and how this new bill would significantly affect that problem. The guess is no, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Jund'allah, Again

While Obama was at Blair House blowing smoke on the right and the Congress was sneakily trying to cement laws to punish CIA interrogators (and remind everyone of Cheney) Debbie was asking the question:
Who is Abdolmalek Rigi?

Abdolmalek Rigi was arrested in Pakistan and then given to Iranian government agents. The New York Times reports he was arrested Tuesday on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, (via Press TV reported). DEBKA reports "an Iranian bomber forced down a Kyrgyzstan airliner heading out of the emirate to seize its most wanted fugitive, Abdol Malek Rigi, leader of the Baluchi Jund Allah underground movement."
Jund'allah has long been associated with western intelligence so Debbie displays normal and expected curiosity as to why the west would be in bed with a possible AQ-related Sunni terrorist. Well, I wondered the same thing in 2007 when both ABC and the New York Times reported on Jund'allah and figured they were a convenient but strange proxy.

That still looks plausible but some complications have arisen since 2007. Number one, Obama is in office. Number two, Iran has released their AQ house captives, such as Saad bin Laden, and number three, Obama is ramping up the war against the Taliban.

So my new questions (sorry Debbie, still not answering yours here)..

1) How does Jund'allah fit in with the Quetta Shura that included Baradar?

2) Does the news that Baradar might be sent back to Afghanistan have an bearing here?

3) Was Pakistan involved in Rigi's capture, and if so, why? What benefit do they get from handing him over to Tehran vis a vis our current surge against the Taliban?

Puzzling. Add to the puzzle that Quetta is KSM's boyhood home and it gets ever weirder. As to Quetta, a Baloch journalist for NBC News interviewed the Taliban's Mullah Manan about his boyhood home back in late 2009 from his hideout in Helmand:
'We are not safe in Quetta,' Manan answered, referring to the Taliban forces. 'These days, the Pakistani security forces are looking for us and it is no longer safe to even cross the border to visit friends. Besides,' Manan added, 'we control almost 80 percent of Afghanistan, why should we hide in Pakistan?'"
Which seems true based on Baradar's capture in Karachi. But what was he doing in Karachi? Well, here's Global Security:
Crippling the Taliban leadership by attacking the ‘Quetta shura’ and weakening its influence over Taliban fighters in Southern Afghanistan, seemed to be an important element of the new Obama Administration strategy on Pakistan and Afghanistan. By April 2009, fearing US drone attacks, a large number of Taliban’s Afghan leaders had moved from Quetta to Karachi, Peshawar and other cities.
So good on Obama--threatening to drone Quetta might have flushed Baradar and allowed his capture in Karachi. As to Rigi, the old ABC story might provide some clues:
"He used to fight with the Taliban. He's part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist," said Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant who recently met with Pakistani officials and tribal members.
In other words, not an overly pious one-dimensional terrorist. Drilling down further:
A senior U.S. government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the U.S. to deal with such groups in that context.
Which seems to fit into the puzzle somehow, perhaps in the 'lucky break' we got in capturing Baradar. But.. if all of that is true and he's now captured and in custody in Iran, that can't be good for any conceivable reason:
The interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, said Mr. Rigi was arrested Tuesday on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, Press TV reported. But Al Jazeera, the satellite TV channel based in Qatar, reported from Pakistan that Mr. Rigi was arrested in Pakistan last week and handed over to Iran.
If Pakistan arrested him was it in response to our fingering of al-Baradar? Even if he was captured on the plane (from Dubai, of all places) somebody had to fip off the Iranians. Was it Dubai in response to the Hamas assassination? Sounds like a friggin mess.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sea of Hypocrisy

Mr Keith just can't help but figuratively call himself a moron every night. We start with some must see TV..



Here's a shot taken at the Memphis tea party in 2009:



And of course the guy MSNBC showed carrying a gun to a tea party to stereotype 'teabaggers' as gun nuts was himself a black guy; how ironic they didn't show his face--but they really couldn't, lest their all-white line up be forced to accuse themselves of racial stereotyping! Oh, and here's an oldie but goody I just never get tired of...



Fun stuff. And don't miss this. Or this. You Tube--our new national treasure.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gas Prices to Rise?

In the middle of 10 percent unemployment? That's what this Chicago Sun-Times story says (via Drudge):
What's pushing prices higher is the crude oil that's used to make motor fuel, said Fred Rozell of the Oil Price Information Service. Crude is an international commodity that has become ever more expensive as demand grows in China. As crude prices increase, so do gas prices.
The last big spike in crude prices between 2006-2008 was blamed on capitalist speculators and greedy oil execs, to which the newly minted Democrat Congress under Pelosi responded by dragging in various evil oil company CEOs to testify...



It was funny at the time (especially the reaction of Steve Cohen right beside her) but that was before the government bought GM and Chrysler and a few of the big banks, and are now proposing to take over health care. What will be the solution if gas spikes to 3 bucks this time?

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Powell Also Said

Liberals were gloating Sunday when General Powell made news by seemingly going after Dick Cheney on the "we are less safe" thing. Here's the clip..


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Powell basically disagreed using boilerplate such as the CIA is still in place, TSA is still at the airport, military is surging in Afghan, etc, but failed to mention the lack of an interrogation program, which has been Cheney's main beef for a long time.

Matter of fact, Schieffer followed up by reminding Powell that even Democrats were critical of the Abdulmuttalob episode, to which he agreed, which seems to be an agreement with Cheney. Part of the mishandling was not having a functioning HIG interrogation group in place to take captured terrorists--because Obama canceled everything when he took office. So the headline could have been, "Powell Agrees with Cheney that Underwear Bomber was Mishandled". But it wasn't.

Something else-- he basically said Bush helped save the economy from a depression:
Let's remember at the time of the election the country was falling into a recession, our financial system was collapsing, we were in deep trouble, and as a result of some actions president Bush took with the TARP program before he left, and what president Obama has done, our financial situation has stabilized and our financial institutions are secure now, even though I'm not happy with everything they have done.
So the headline could have been, "Powell Disagrees with Obama on Who Saved Economy", but somehow it wasn't.

Actually, aside than the little bit of partisanship where he defended his Obama pick, his feeling that terrorists should get the same rights of a US citizen, and that Obama doesn't have socialist tendencies and that one man cannot change a government, quite a bit of what Powell said was sensible.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dubai Explained, More or Less

The Daily Mail tells the tale:
The 18-strong team had lain in wait for Al-Mabhouh – who was travelling under the fake name of Mahmoud Abdul Ra’ouf Mohammed – before tracking him down to Dubai’s Al Bustan Rotana hotel near the airport. He had arrived on Emirates flight EK912 from Damascus and had used a fake passport.
The story goes on to explain how they got the security chain attached from the outside (a slender woman) and their jury-rigged, James Bond-ish electric chair bed that didn't work (unless they used it to interrogate him). What it does not explain is why Mabhouh was in Dubai in the first place, traveling under a phony passport. But it does say this:
We believe the papers he was carrying were copied.
Which must have more than a few people squirming in Gaza and perhaps Tehran and other points unknown. It will be interesting to see if the region reacts like it did to the Syrian nuke facility raid or as if a legitimate act of aggression.

Ivins Case Closed

In the midst of the Tiger Woods mea culpa and the DOJ's Yoo/Bybee exoneration another document dump was executed on Friday--the closure of the anthrax letter case. Since I've wasted more than a few words on it here it's only appropriate to comment.

Do I think the FBI got their man? Probably. No, there's still no eyewitnesses to the production or mailing of the material and granted, it seems strange they weren't onto Ivins much earlier, but at the same time the evidence clearly wasn't invented. If they were framing him they certainly got lucky--this guy even admitted to driving hundreds of miles to mail packages to friends so they wouldn't know they were coming from him. How coincidental is that? He had no alibi for the windows of opportunity or the extra time spent in the labs during production. It would have been a heckuva circumstantial case.

Yes I know, few trust the government when it comes to lone wolves, me included. The vacuum between Hatfill and Ivins propagated many conspiracies. On the left some are disappointed because they believe in their heart of hearts the attack was either from Big Defense or BushCheneyBurton--the former to gain lucrative contracts and the latter to gain Iraq. But neither really required an attack. 9/11 itself was probably big enough to do the trick; Big Defense and Big Vaccine Contractor were probably going to get second looks for increased funding without the risk. Besides, they have lobbyists.

As to Iraq, had Bushitler ordered the attack one might think they would have left a better Iraqi fingerprint. Instead, they harassed Steven Hatfill for years and invaded Iraq without using the attack as a casus belli, and when reports surfaced about a bentonite/silica coating on the spores (used by Iraq) they quickly dismissed them.

Even more disappointing to the left--since the report was released using a Friday document dump this means their hero prezOne has either abandoned them, gone over to the dark side, or believes the FBI, since as president he likely knows the truth.

Some, primarily on the right, were figuring AQ was involved. However, many experts believe if they had acquired anthrax or any other WMDs they'd have had little hesitation in using them in a much less judicious fashion than the letters. This was pointed out today in the New York Times by former CIA and DOE analyst Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who conceded Zawahiri was in charge of a bio-weapons program (and warned they may still be pursuing one--AQ Khan is free again).

The one theory that made some sense was the 'warning theory' from Saddam after 9/11, ie, Saddam ordered proxies or his own intelligence agents to send the letters as a warning to Bush not to attack Iraq in response to 9/11. He did send two rambling 'open letters' to America after 9/11 and the second one even mentioned the anthrax. At the time he was harboring one of the bomb mixers from the first attack on the Trade Centers, Abdul Yasin. The first anthrax letter was postmarked on the same day the administration leaked the "Atta in Prague" story.

Surely if the attacks were messages from Saddam the Bush administration wouldn't have had an appetite to divulge the 'brutal' truth, thinking more WMD attacks might be in the offing. Amateur sleuths took hints from Bob Woodward's book on the subject, and certainly one could tie Bush's tippy top secret terrorist surveillance program into that theory.

Maybe Hatfill was either a willing or unwilling dupe targeted by the government to give the impression of a lone wolf to ease public fears while they looked for the real killer(s). At last check Mr. Hatfill and his millions were last seen heading off into the sunset, so perhaps we'll never know (and BTW, this theory works just as well with Ivins as the perp).

But Dr. Ivins seems to shut the door. He had motive, knowledge, access to the material, and psychological issues. The latest documents suggest he lied, tried to finger others, and towards the end even admitted he wasn't a monster but might not remember his actions during that period. As caretaker of the RMR-1029 stock used to prepare the attack material he was evidently above suspicion for awhile but as we've seen in Alabama and Texas over the past ten days, just having a college pedigree or academic title does not remove all suspicion. And sometimes there really are lone nuts.

MORE 2/21/10

The ultimate anti-conspiracist Ed Lake has been going over the FBI pdf and points out a few smoking guns. First, the revelation that Ivins may have used secret codes in the letters that referred to DNA coding must sting because Lake has insisted for years that Ivins got a child to write the letters. Anyway, this does make some sense:
And, for me, on top of that "clincher" is a likely reason why Dr. Ivins probably put a secret message into the media anthrax letters in the first place: He expected to be a hero as a result of sending the letters. He didn't think anyone would be killed. Like many other scientists, he expected a real biological weapons attack from Muslim extremists to follow the 9/11 attacks. By alerting the media and the nation to that possibility with his letters, he probably imagined that he would be saving tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of American lives. And knowing the hidden code would allow him to prove that he sent the letters, even though he'd taken every other precaution he could think of to prevent the letters from being traced back to him.
In other words, Ivins knew the public wasn't prepared for such attacks and wanted to raise awareness but didn't want to kill anyone, while at the same time he was selfish and arrogant enough to want the credit at some future point. He points to the letters being sealed with adhesive and taped in such a way as to limit cross-contamination in the mails as a clue that it was more the work of a hero rather than a terrorist, which also makes sense.

But the most interesting bit of information might be the release of Ivins' email to CDC after the death of National Enquirer editor Bob Stevens, the first known victim (page 9 and again later in the document):
When Robert Stevens became the first victim of the anthrax attacks, Dr. Ivins sent an unexplainable e-mail to a contact at the CDC on October 4, 2001, the day after Stevens was diagnosed with inhalational anthrax. Dr. Ivins, one of the nation’s foremost anthrax scientists, speculated that Mr. Stevens’s infection could have been the result of Stevens drinking infected creek water. This proffered explanation, was impossible because the anthrax had been inhaled. Alternatively, he proposed to the CDC that Stevens could have contracted the disease from infected alpaca used in wool socks or a sweater. Both a renowned microbiologist at another lab and a scientist working at USAMRIID found these suggestions absurd. The microbiologist at the other lab described them as “laughable,” and the USAMRIID scientist called them “fishy, any reasonable scientist would say this doesn’t make sense.” 44
The FBI considered this a fishing expedition and proof of a guilty conscience while Lake sees it as absolute denial after Stevens' death, which wasn't supposed to happen.

Oddly, this very same 'creek water' explanation was actually floated in the press the very same day as the Stevens story broke. From Ari Fleischer's book, page 191, regarding a Tommy Thompson press briefing on Stevens:
"We do know that he drank water out of a stream when he was traveling in North Carolina last week.."
Where did Thompson get the creek water angle? A CBS reporter also asked whether Stevens had been in contact with wool, which was also mentioned in the email. That's certainly a weird one. If Ivins was just a thoughtful patriot who had just accidentally killed a man trying to prevent bio attacks why would he dialogue with CDC about such inane possibilities and not say something like 'hey, this might be AQ we better get prepared'?

The only explanation that makes sense is that he was more sociopath than patriot. Only a sociopath would send yet another batch of even more potent letters a week or so later, after Stevens' death and with the story still in the media, and knowing more deaths may occur.

Perhaps that's why the FBI took pains to reveal Ivins' many idiosyncrasies, which all pointed towards a sort of split personality, one good, one evil, something Ivins himself seemed to accept towards the end. Unfortunately dead men tell no tales, so we'll never know for sure. But as to the far-out Iraq angle--if the letters really were warnings from Saddam Hussein then Bush called his bluff, and we see the results.

MORE 2/24/10

The letter to CDC mentioned above (coming on the same day as the first anthrax media briefing regarding the verified case of inhalation anthrax in Florida) was described by the FBI as "unexplainable" in the summary report:
When Robert Stevens became the first victim of the anthrax attacks, Dr. Ivins sent an unexplainable e-mail to a contact at the CDC on October 4, 2001, the day after Stevens was diagnosed with inhalational anthrax. Dr. Ivins, one of the nation’s foremost anthrax scientists, speculated that Mr. Stevens’s infection could have been the result of Stevens drinking infected creek water. This proffered explanation, was impossible because the anthrax had been inhaled. Alternatively, he proposed to the CDC that Stevens could have contracted the disease from infected alpaca used in wool socks or a sweater. Both a renowned microbiologist at another lab and a scientist working at USAMRIID found these suggestions absurd. The microbiologist at the other lab described them as “laughable,” and the USAMRIID scientist called them “fishy, any reasonable scientist would say this doesn’t make sense.” 44
They didn't post any of that email, so apparently now the recipient has leaked the actual content:
From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
To:
Subject: Florida case(?)
Date: Thursday, October 04, 2001 9:57:19 PM

Hi,

I just heard this evening (and read over internet news) that a case of pulmonary anthrax may have been identified in Florida. Is this true, or is this just hysteria? The only Florida strain of B. anthracis that I am familiar with is V770, which is the parent of V770-NP1-R, the strain used in production of the human anthrax vaccine. (I believe that V770 was originally isolated from a cow in Florida in the early 1950s.) The article said that this person was an “Outdoorsman,” and had drunk water from a creek in North Carolina. If he really does have anthrax, could he have gotten it this way, or did he get it by tromping around some dusty field area. (Has North Carolina been dry this summer?) I know that in the wild in Africa, animals are supposed to be able to get it from water holes by stirring up spores and presumably ingesting and possibly inhaling them as an aerosol. Could this have happened? What if an animal had died upstream and the stream was contaminated? (Drinking from a stream or creek without boiling or purifying the water first is an invitation to intestinal disease or parasites, but have any other human anthrax cases been documented from people drinking contaminated water?)

You called me several times in the recent past with regards to another anthrax issue. If there’s anything I can help with here (if you or coworkers are involved) please let me know. I don’t know if there’s anything I can do, but I’m certainly willing to provide whatever informational assistance I can. (I would have been less surprised if the Florida man had been hunting deer in Texas, where there is identifiable anthrax. I don’t recall North Carolina as having ideal soil for preservation of anthrax spores or for anthrax cycling of spore-vegetative cell-spore-vegetative cell etc., but I suppose there could be areas of higher soil calcium and alkalinity.)

Anyway, please don’t hesitate to give me a call if there’s anything I can do. We are currently testing the virulence (in immunized and unimmunized guinea pigs) of B. anthracis strains from all over the world, including China, and we’ve come up with some very interesting differences in virulence among the strains.

Take care of yourself,

Bruce
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Assuming this is the entire email mentioned in the summary report (and the only one) and the scientist in question didn't do some creative editing (or perhaps the blog he released it to), then it seems we can look at this two ways, a guilty conscience or within bounds of his scientific field.

Guilty: he's ticked off that Stevens died--nobody was supposed to die--so he's trying to suggest to CDC that it could have been something innocent, ie, creek water, dust, etc. A guilty person might do that, along with offering their services to 'help' solve things in hopes he could later manipulate the results showing his guilt. The fishing aspect would be that he knew there was a "AQ did it" letter with the powder so he wanted to see if CDC would confirm that in reply, confirming his involvement and his murder. After all, it could have been a coincidence. Based on the time and header of the email he was also in the lab working late, but this wasn't listed in the FBI time card release.

Within science: Ivins was one of the foremost b anthracis researchers in the world and the email showed he had had prior communication with the CDC contact. It is certainly within the bounds of natural scientific curiosity and human nature to contact a friend and get the inside skinny on an event so close to his field and one which he'd worked to develop vaccines against, especially a month after 9/11. My take- definitely fishing trip, leaning towards the guilty side but not all the way.

The only reason it's not 'all the way' is because the FBI misrepresented this email, claiming he was blaming it on creek water. And he never even mentioned wool or alpacas. Why play fast and loose with facts when trying to convince the public of a circumstantial case?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Side Tracks

For MTB fans, a rather bizarre sight seeing the late Toy Caldwell playing one of his classic songs in someone's back yard (as a solo act)..



No reason why Marshall Tucker shouldn't be in the R&R Hall of Fame, if for nothing else Toy's ability to play that well using only his thumb.

Odds n Ends

On Tiger Woods... we are all sinners, although some can afford more sin than others. To say Tiger isn't sorry is not for us to say but to say he didn't enjoy himself is to distort reality--he obviously thought it was worth the risk. The question is whether he's truly sorry or whether his sorrow is rooted in the destruction of his endorsement reputation. He can still play golf like no other, so we will have to watch going forward to see if his demeanor changes, and whether he eventually decides to drop a race card.

For what it's worth, he should have allowed questions then politely refused to answer those that crossed the line (most all) but they were probably afraid someone would get too deep into the car accident and the nine iron, etc. As to his choice of timing, Ernie Els has a point, although it's possible more than a few fellow tour players are secretly enjoying this flame out, perhaps a bit too much.

Anyway, thankfully his wife didn't subject herself to that show. The innocent victims here are still his children, so here's hoping Mr. Woods can find his way, for their sake if nothing else.
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Dutch Government falls over Afghanistan... This wasn't supposed to happen with Obama. Maybe Conyers and Leahy can hold hearings.
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Bybee, Yoo cleared... Leahy and Conyers will hold hearings. The document is here. Yet another sensitive report released on a Friday afternoon--Obama must be trying to set records for that.
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Health care... now Obama is suggesting, or maybe threatening, they could ram through a new bipartisan bill on a simple majority. They are planning to use the coming health care showdown summit to set this up. It's a bluff the GOP should call.
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Tax scofflaw Wesley Snipes on Joe Stack... What's new?
He brushed off the experience as just another part of living. "These are the bumps and bruises of life. They build character and you learn from it as you move on."
Stack certainly wasn't as rich as Snipes but he never seemed to get that.

Aviation Update

The Reliapundit at Astute Blogger is connecting dots all over the place and predicting a coming strike on Iran; admittedly, there have been some weird occurrences lately, none weirder than the Dubai Eleven. He points to the Lebanese indictment of eleven Fatah al-Islam terrorists in Lebanon as possibly pointing to a connection with the downing of Ethiopian 409, including the recent domestic TSA rules on explosives swabbing here in America (not underwear yet) to suggest that loose ends are being tied up before the shock and awe.

Who knows. They found the cockpit voice recorder from 409 last week and sent it to France for analysis along with the FDR. Today a preliminary finding was released-- pilot error, as predicted. This article states the error:
Audio recordings revealed that the pilot asked the co-pilot to follow instructions by Beirut airport control tower, only to find out that his assistance either did not heed to the orders or did the opposite. This prompted the pilot to take a move which made him gradually lose control of the plane, the voice recorder showed.

The report said the jet remained intact until it hit water.
Remember, this was supposedly an experienced captain who had no doubt experienced thunderstorms before so one snippet of conversation is hardly enough to support a finding of that nature. What does the rest of the tape show? Were they trying to avoid the weather? What does the FDR indicate?

Initial witness reports said the aircraft was on fire as it crashed and the initial speculation was a lightning strike, which does not jibe with a pilot simply losing the aircraft in a turn. A lightning-induced in-flight fire lines up better with the witnesses but so does a bomb or missile. All three could explain the 'strange turn' mentioned by the Lebanese officials--the turn could be the aircraft losing control.

As to sad comment "we're finished", such a thing could relate to a host of unrecoverable problems including pilot error, mechanical problems or foul play, but admittedly any conversation seems to rule out a catastrophic upset, pointing more towards a missile strike if indeed its demise was nefarious. The passenger manifest (hard to locate) listed one Iraqi and one guy with the same surname as notorious al-Qaeda fundraiser Enaam Arnaout, who operated out of Chicago before he was sent to the pokey. Not saying there's any relation, just sayin.

Maybe the French will release the transcripts and FDR data next week, which could put this to rest.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Terrorist or Criminal?

The Austin kamikaze pilot will cause some buzz with his rambling manifesto, which seems to touch on almost every hot button grievance around except hopenchange or radical Islam.

After past violent attacks the administration has been quick to scold about jumping to conclusions, so it'll be interesting to see if they comment here. Stack sounds a little like Amy Bishop in that both were degreed professionals and relatively intelligent and both planned their snaps, although Bishop was probably more delusional since she didn't intend to suicide herself. Like most wanna-be snap killers both were cowards and projected their failures onto the "system" or evil individuals holding them back, which provides the necessary rationalization for murder. That's quite similar to Islamic terrorists aside from their misinterpreted holy book used to provide cosmic moral authority.

But are they terrorists or just isolated extremists, or just common criminals? Stack's letter was meant as a call to action for a violent uprising much like Osama's 1998 fatwa, although he wasn't necessarily addressing any particular group. Bishop was more self-centered--both were very selfish. But she seemed more interested in getting specific individuals, whereas he used an airplane as a weapon just like Mohammed Atta with the intention of killing as many unknown innocents as possible.

My conclusion--both Stack and Bishop are true violent lone wolf extremists, but not terrorists insofar as they don't have a cause and movement behind their actions, although Stack comes closer than Bishop. What will the administration call them?


MORE 2/18/10


I mentioned Amy Bishop because the mainstream media treated her story like any other lone nut with a grievance story, undoubtedly because she was a lefty. Now that we have someone who's not an avowed leftist they have quickly reverted back to advocacy journalism.

Meanwhile, from what I witnessed Olby held his tongue tonight, although he allowed Arianna Huffington to use the term 'playing with fire and matches' when discussing the GOP's interaction with the tea partiers, who apparently beat up a few Olby pinatas at CPAC today. Don't they realize the kamikaze guy was railing about the lack of universal health care?

MORE 2/18/10

It might seem crass to argue semantics while people grieve but the distinction is important as to how these events are handled and mitigated going forward. The president and many on the left were quick not to jump on the 'terrorist' definition for the Little Rock gunman, Major Hasan, or the underbomber despite the rather obvious connections. That portrayal suggested an administration trying to downplay domestic Islamic terrorism and its possible connection to the international version dedicated to the destruction of western civilization. Even if Stack turns out to be connected to an anti-government group he still wasn't trying to bring on the downfall of our way of life.

From Raw Story, here's CNN's Rick Sanchez debating a law enforcement official in Texas over the distinction between criminal/extremist and terrorist, to which the official points out that if Stack did the same act in Iraq we would call him a suicide bomber terrorist. Sanchez nods.

But would we? Based on what we know, if Joe Stack took his plane to Iraq and crashed into the green zone and we later found a twisted manifesto on the web stating his long hatred for Bush for the Iraq war, with no reference to Islam, bin Laden, Israel, or caliphates, I think most people would still call him an isolated extremist, not a suicide terrorist.

Saved or Created

On da Stimulus..



No earmarks? The whole thing is pretty much a giant earmark. As to fraud, despite the weird conversation about barking dogs, has anyone other than Mark Pryor and Faux News been looking for it? It's possible he checked recovery.gov, if Joe remembered the number. Surely he didn't get it from Bayh.

All so predictable. Obama came into office at the down point of a bad cycle and immediately threw out the recovery plan (without anyone reading it) before anymore economic reports could arrive showing minor improvement. With most of the stimulus not scheduled to kick in until this year anyway, and most of last year spent fighting over health care and global warming, it's now time to take ownership of Bush's failed economy.

If anything the TARP financial bailout (Bush) and his auto bailouts did more to stop any massive collapses but he owns the Stimulus so they'll point to it exclusively from here on. Looking back, perhaps Caterpillar is the appropriate bellweather of how things have gone:
"We are pleased that signs of recovery in the global economy allow us to return a selected group of laid off employees to work," Chairman Jim Owens said in a written statement. "But it's important to remember that we are not close to the record-breaking demand we experienced from 2004 through 2008."
Wait, record demand during the horrible Bush economy? How could that be? Of course that was issued in October 2009 so here's January 2010. Only in politics can 37,000 full and part time layoffs followed by 500 re-hires be absolutely awesome.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mushtarak

It appears we've grabbed another top Taliban commander:
Taliban sources in the region and a counterterrorism officials in Washington have identified the detained insurgent leader as Mullah Abdul Salam, described as the Taliban movement's "shadow governor" of Afghanistan's Kunduz province.
As to Baradar, the LA Times reports that the CIA apparently got lucky. Whether that means somebody turned or whether Pakistan itself turned is unknown but perhaps Baradar will issue a statement soon through his lawyer. BTW, this Hufflink has a pretty good rundown of today's events.

A word on the politics. The right will be tempted to tear this down based on how Obama has so far handled domestic terrorism along with years of anti-war rhetoric from noted dim bulbs like Harry Reid, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore (and the rest of Hollywood), etc. And yes, soon we will see liberal super patriots popping up and heralding our actions in Afghanistan so they can take pot shots at Bush, Cheney, Palin, etc, despite calls by many on the left to withdraw only a few years ago. That's life in the big city. Had Musharraf stayed in power this might not be occurring but things change for the better sometimes.

I doubt all of this has escaped the Obama folks. Perhaps they've suddenly realized that winning the war gains them a better chance at passing their domestic agenda and remaining in control of the government by removing most of the GOP's talking points. Peace in Afghanistan, including the capture of a few terror king-pins, is something everyone wants, right? How can the right complain about winning the war?

As to Iraq, our wiley old friend Izzat al Douri, who has recently been operating from of all places Yemen, is ramping up the RDX party ahead of the coming elections, so clueless Joe screwed up by trying to claim any 'success'.

But no worries, the big media have their backs and if the long-forecast civil war finally breaks out nobody will remember Biden's comment or Robert Gibbs explaining how Obama's mere presence in the campaign forced Bush to sign the troop drawdown agreement, etc. Further disasters or attacks will forever be pinned on Dubya so it's all good. They've clearly been doing some deep thinking over this.

SADDAM IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA 2/17/10

To expand on a link in the above, this really is a fascinating story not being told in the US media. CIA has been actively trying to work with former Baathist intelligence officers of Saddam's Mukhabarat who migrated to Yemen after the invasion to form some kind of anti-jihad unit in Iraq in return for reconciliation with the Shia government. The problem:
Mr Saleh also gave refuge to the relatives of Saddam's top henchman, including the families of Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, and Izzat al-Douri, one of the Iraqi dictator's closest military allies.

But Mr Saleh's allies also include a number of Salafists, whose puritanical interpretation of Islam is shared by many in al-Qaeda. Many fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, an experience that brought some into contact with Osama bin Laden.

Although a majority eschew bin Laden's doctrine of violence, the presence of so many Salafists in the government could explain why the CIA did not tell Yemen it had received intelligence of an AQAP plot to set in motion "a Nigerian bomber."
Problem is that al-Duri himself, the self-proclaimed "supreme commander of the Jihad and Liberation Front", worked for years to garner influence from Salafists in Iraq despite being a member of a Sufi Order. The UPI report from a week later says they were meeting with him; since then we've only seen random suicide bombings increasing in Baghdad.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Things are Happening

Strange things. First, Newsweek broke this story Sunday about a top AQ commander captured in Oman last month:
U.S. intelligence officials appear to have obtained access to what could turn out to be a significant trove of phone numbers, photographs and documents detailing the links between Al Qaeda's leaders in northwest Pakistan and the terror group's increasingly menacing affiliate in Yemen, two counter-terrorism sources tell Declassified.
Then this weird story appeared about the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the founder of Hamas' military wing, last month in Dubai:
Dubai's police chief said Monday an 11-member hit squad carrying European passports and disguised in wigs, fake beards and tennis clothes was behind the mysterious killing of a Hamas commander in his hotel room last month.
He was apparently in town alone for some unknown reason (some suggesting he was heading to Iran, perhaps lured?). Huffpo followed today with an even stranger edition including a composite video showing all the suspects captured on various surveillance videos, suggesting some kind of James Bond-like caper (if so it was pretty lame, perhaps intentionally lame?). Why Dubai would release something like this is also strange. Do they want to start a regional war should the culprits turn out to be Mossad or CIA? And why was this man in Dubai without any security? Better, why was this man in Dubai at all?

And we have yet another top terrorist straying from home, ie, the Times bombshell last evening about the number two Taliban commander being recently captured in Karachi. The Gray Lady confirmed the story this past Thursday but held publication back to allow Dick Cheney to come out and criticize Obama over the weekend on TV without knowing at the behest of the administration--here's Bill Keller's flimsy explanation, with this howler:
Back in 2006 the conversations were professional and civil, but in the end when we didn’t agree to hold the story as they wanted us to, it was a kind of firestorm of criticism from the White House aimed at the Times. So far anyway we haven’t had that acrimony with this administration, nor as far as I know have other news organizations.
Digressing, sorry. Of course the obvious question is what changed over there? If the Pakis could have snapped a finger and bagged numero dos why didn't they come through for Bush after all those millions? Did Obama make them a better offer (or threat) they simply couldn't refuse or were they bowled over by misty hope and change? Or are they playing political favorites in America knowing where the One's poll numbers might go? Or was this just good solid diplomacy the Bushies couldn't get away with after Iraq? Oh well, Saddam is still dead--they've got that.

But this could certainly be a big turnaround in the Afghan theater, especially if it leads to grabbing bin Laden and/or Mullah Omar. Keeping hope alive here, at least.

MORE 2/16/10

How much is John Kerry involved in this Taliban catch? He's been focusing there of late:
He reiterated the US stance that Pakistan had to do more to combat terrorists on its soil if it wanted to continue to receive substantial US aid. “Pakistan has got to make clear its willingness to take on internal enemies,” he said.
Not sure when these remarks occurred, because they sound pretty clueless if uttered today. Then again the Paki government has yet to formally acknowledge the Taliban takedown or any cooperation with the CIA yet, so maybe it's part of their buildup to the truth.

The key word there is 'reiterated', as in, we've been pleading with them to cooperate and clear out these terrorists since Richard Armitage's infamous warning about the 'Stone Age' shortly after 9/11. I'm certainly much more observer than expert but Bush was dealing with Musharraf for the entirety of his term while Obama is dealing with a coalition government forged on unity, which might help explain some of our recent successes.

BTW, it's doubtful President Zardari's moment of lust for Sarah Palin in 2008 factored into recent events, but it did get him a fatwa. And probably a mean stare from the first dude.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ambinder on Siddiqui

Marc Ambinder from the Atlantic covers the Aafia Siddiqui case:
What makes Siddiqui's conviction relevant for the current debate is that she was captured, on a recognized battlefield -- Afghanistan -- and tried to kill FBI agents and American soldiers who had come to question her. Siddiqui, 40, could easily have been designated as an enemy combatant. But the Bush administration determined instead that she be tried in federal court. She was read her Miranda rights, and given access to a lawyer

.. snip ..

So far as I can tell, Republicans on Capitol Hill did not utter a peep of protest.
Maybe that's because Siddiqui was not found guilty on any of those terrorism allegations, rather, for attempted murder of her captors:
She was not charged with terrorism, and Judge Richard Berman barred any mention of the chemicals or Siddiqui's supposed ties to Al Qaeda.
Her sentencing will occur in May. She has various rooters, a fan club, and even her own day - some of her supporters showed up at Brennan's NYU speech the other day. And the Taliban has already demanded her in exchange with captured soldier Bowe Bergdahl. Does Ambinder not consider any of this important?

As to why she wasn't rung up on the terror stuff the likely reason is the same as with former enemy combatants Ali al-Marri (also sent by KSM who recently plead out for 8 years) and Jose Padilla (not charged on the dirty bomb)--doing so would require their court-appointed lawyers access in discovery to KSM and his cohorts, including Siddiqui's presumed husband Ammar al-Baluchi (KSM's nephew and the cousin of Ramzi Yousef), himself part of the group to be tried in Manhattan. And contrary to belief we did get intelligence from Padilla before trial.

Meanwhile Siddiqui claimed 'torture', made an ass of herself in court, blamed everything on Israel, and her lawyers have hinted an appeal on "mental grounds". Considering that she arrived in New York in 2008 and was nowhere near as important as KSM, her case was probably not a very good preview of the chaos a high profile version might produce.

Exposing the Incline and the Decline

Conservatives are rightly heralding the collapse of the man-made global warming consensus--Gore's hard-line approach (flat-earthers) was appalling and downright dangerous. It's fitting the holographic, Nobel-winning, Oscar receiving king of AGW is nowhere to be found right now (he probably retreated to the same place Bill Ayers did during the campaign, his home--where media fear to tread).

But where do we go from here? Does this new information mean the entire thing was a scam? Yes and no. Yes, in respect to the spin and subterfuge placed on the data to reach a political and financial end; no in regards to the fact temperatures have indeed risen since the 1800s. In effect we should be back to square one--analyzing the mysteries using raw science, now put in its rightful place, where Obama wanted it!

But even with some of the politics removed there's still truth. What is it? Right Truth points to comments from Dr. Christy of UAH on the unreliability of the surface record as to making global decisions but his colleague at UAH, Dr. Roy Spencer, just released the latest satellite-based observations from January, which might be shocking to those suffering from all this cold, snowy global warming..
As can be seen, Northern Hemispheric land, on a whole, is not as cold as many of us thought (click on image for larger version). Below-normal areas were restricted to parts of Russia and China, most of Europe, and the southeastern United States. Most of Canada and Greenland were well above normal
Here's his map showing the departures from normal (not actual temps)..


The point--just because it's cold in America and Europe (oddly centered right over Copenhagen) doesn't mean it can't be warm overall. This data is not massaged Mann/Jones, it's from an AGW skeptic. The satellites have been used for years as a check on the surface data. So while it's good the house of cards has finally collapsed, skeptics should not fall prey to the same temptation of ignoring inconvenient data.

At the same time the great benefit of recent proceedings is that the AGW industry will have a harder time spinning Dr. Spencer's data as proof of a coming catastrophe only solvable through world socialism within the next 10 years. And that's a good thing.

See No Evil

It's a crazy world. The weekend featured a TV duel between Vice Presidents on handling terrorism while in Vancouver, an American gold medal skater was threatened by anti-fur terrorists. Johnny Weir's comment shows some much-needed common sense:
Weir, who plans to join the fashion world once he has hung up his "leather skates made of cow" for good, felt he was unfairly targeted.
Speaking of common sense, the screaming message from Dick Cheney's weekend appearance was that the administration doesn't understand the conflict with radical Islamists. It's pretty clear the administration chose Attorney General Eric Holder to spearhead their return to a 'law enforcement' approach to anti-terrorism and the decision to move KSM's trial into a civilian court was the linchpin. Perhaps it's no coincidence Holder has yet to appear on any Sunday shows since being confirmed.

But common sense appears to be lacking. Obama has thousands of troops currently on the offensive in Afghanistan (we await CNN to get a reporter embedded with a Taliban sniper team as in Iraq) fighting a battle whose stated goal is to free a country from terrorist-facilitators who would surely allow the real terrorists to set up training camps to pull off more 9/11s. Obama has been steadfast on the need to win this battle, repeatedly pointing out that it's the global front in the war on 'violent extremists' that just happen to be 100 percent Muslim.

The disconnect is that when these same individual Arabs enter America with the goal of bringing the war to the homeland the administration suddenly considers them no more than common criminals (unless they attack a naval vessel). It's hard to wrap the brain around.

Granted, each administration comes into office with an ambitious agenda of domestic change--few have 'fighting a war on terrorism' at the top of the to-do list. Holder was there in the 90s serving under Janet Reno when terrorism was boiling--they treated it as a crime; apparently he believed the Bush folks caused the pot to boil over and as soon as the good guys returned the problem would fade away.

How do we know this? Because the NY Times did a long piece on him today, which included this morsel on page three:
At home a few weeks later, on Christmas Day, Mr. Holder had just taken an iPhone snapshot of a turkey when one of his children called out: the Justice Department Command Center was on the line. There had been an incident aboard a jetliner bound for Detroit.

Soon after, he told subordinates to recalibrate their thinking about terrorism issues. “It’s a new day,” Mr. Holder said.
No, actually it was a new day on September 11, 2001. Or closer to present, it should have been a new day when a self-described jihadist assassinated a Little Rock recruiter; or when Mohamed Zazi was arrested before he could pull off a cyanide attack; or when Major Hasan opened fire in one of the most crucial military bases in America.

Holder is aware of the threats. His 'new day' likely referred to the scuttling of their approach highlighted by KSM. As the story laments:
Some administration officials spoke in despair about the apparent freefall of the effort to restore what they see as a rule-of-law approach to combating terrorism.
Bingo. And that's exactly what Dick Cheney has been saying for a year now. The problem cannot be wished away by happy rhetoric blaming non-Muslims or by simply choosing venues used for carjackers. It's not that simple.

Holder, Brennan and others are correct in their assessment of handling fear--we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism to the point of throwing away our values and our system. But hiding our heads in the sand or closing ears and eyes and humming or sucking up to the fundamentalists isn't a strategy, either. The commission option was gained through using the system itself and allows us to treat non-citizen unlawful combatants aiming to kill civilians appropriately.

Obama can even send a hellfire down the throat of an American citizen overseas if he believes them to be the enemy. Based on recent domestic actions one has to wonder whether that option would be dropped if it suddenly got in the way of passing universal health care.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fair and Balanced

Sometimes blogging requires a meal of one's own words. In my case, a comment in the previous KSM thread about Cheney's relative timidity on the trial coming to Manhattan and the whole terror-underbomber imbroglio in general. Darth will blast his way onto the Sunday shows today to discuss.

The specter of this apparently rings fear into some liberal hearts--Obama will send Joe Biden out to mess with his predecessor on TV while the leftosphere was busy Saturday evening working up their pre-emptive strikes. A couple of pundits were afraid the talking heads wouldn't ask the right questions, so they penned a few they hope will be asked.

HuffPo's Jason Linkins came up with several gotchas, some of them fairly decent. For instance, he uses this link to claim Cheney was hot to trot on trying Zacarias Moussaoui in federal court, and it looks that way, but the article goes on to explain why that wasn't a very good idea. So really, this is one Cheney could admit to being wrong about, and still be right.

He makes the comparison between Richard Reid and Abdulmichelob, who are exactly the same to liberals despite the time difference and protocols in place, but nevertheless this might elicit an interesting response. Personally I don't have a big issue with trying him in federal court, I have a big issue with them saying they had gotten all the intelligence possible within 50 minutes then reading him the same rights they'll one day read me when they get tired of all this.

Linkins then points to a Village Voice column containing a real cogent observation:
Afterward the disgraced former Vice President retired to his hyperbaric chamber to suck the blood out of a living infant.
Evil! Worse than Osama! That's followed by a joke about the guy Cheney accidentally shot.

Maureen Dowd of the Times was not to be outdone. Her strictly objective no-nonsense story was entitled "Icicles, Inside and Out", an imaginary conversation between Cheney, Obama, and Richard Robert Gates. Here's a zany outtake:
OBAMA: You keep saying there were no terror attacks after 9/11, Dick. That’s like saying that blimps were safe after the Hindenburg. I wouldn’t have been caught flat-footed reading “The Pet Goat” to second graders.

CHENEY: No, you’d have been teaching a graduate seminar on “The Pet Goat.” Don’t you Muslims eat pet goats?
Hard-hitting Times journalism! Imagine the worst boilerplate lefty war criticism from the Bush era and you can make up the rest without wasting the energy to click.

But in some respects they've got a point--the national media (including them) has shied away from asking the really hard-hitting questions of our political elite. So here's a suggestion for the next Obama interview..

Ask him about whether former Marxist and now Professor John Drew's memory of that little evening in San Francisco is correct, and about where he stands on Rawlsian social justice.

Then maybe ask him why he hasn't allowed anyone to see much from his Occidental and Columbia days. Inquire about Percy Sutton's claim that Khalid al-Mansour helped him into Harvard. Then about what was so private about that Rashid Khalidi tape the LA Times spiked. And how in the world Christopher Andersen could possibly claim that domestic washed up terrorist/neo-communist William Ayers ghost wrote "Dreams". And why no one asked Robert Gibbs about any of this.

Ask him if he continues to think his decision to not support the surge in Iraq was a good one based on events on the ground now, and whether he would now support it in hindsight after being in office and having the responsibility, or does he still think he would withdraw to the horizon. Perhaps the interviewer could include recent comments about the brewing success in Iraq made by the very same guy he's sending out today to slap Cheney around.

Ask him if anything attributed to him in "Game Change" is true. And whether Recovery.gov was worth 18 million or whether that was actually part of the Stimulus.

And finally on the underbomber, ask him if he really expects anyone to believe that Holder acted completely independently on the KSM decision, and why it's OK for al-Nashiri to be tried in a commission. And how KSM can get a fair trial after the leader of the free world has already declared him a dirty, filthy, guilty terrorist headed for hell.

Ya know, this honesty stuff could be pretty fun! Just think of it as 'media justice'.

MORE 2/14/10

Cheney on ABC. A very good, adult-like interview with Jonathan Karl. Cheney:
"If they are going to take credit for [Iraq], fair enough, for what they’ve done while they are there. But it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘thank you George Bush’ up front," he said.
Darth also condemned Biden's comment about a low likelihood of more 9/11 style attacks, which he said would lower preparedness. In a pre-emptive response, Biden basically said they've already won the war:
"The reason it's unlikely is because we have been relentless," Biden said.
As mentioned previously, that's a pretty risky strategy, probably one designed to line up with the "terrorists are nuisance criminals" position of HolderBama, due in part to the political cancellation of most of BushCheney's terror tools.

But if there's less threat of a 9/11 style attack why are we currently surging and kicking ass in Afghanistan? Isn't it to stop terrorists from having a safe-haven (right next door to a nuclear Pakistan) to create more attacks, as Obama has said?
Isn't Biden's comment sort of like declaring 'mission accomplished'?

Cheney then caused massive head-explosions by tacitly supporting the repeal of DADT. As to KSM in New York, no surprises--he didn't want anyone released from Gitmo. Cheney must be a great poker player.

MORE BIDEN 2/14/10

Biden's comment about Iraq not being worth it is certainly his opinion- at least today. But while he's welcome to his own facts, he's not welcome to his own, ah, well here..
Assessing Obama’s Iraq plan on September 13, 2007: “My impression is [Obama] thinks that if we leave, somehow the Iraqis are going to have an epiphany” of peaceful coexistence among warring sects. “I’ve seen zero evidence of that.”
And from 2002:
Biden on Meet the Press in 2002, discussing Saddam Hussein: “He’s a long term threat and a short term threat to our national security… “We have no choice but to eliminate the threat. This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world.”
Keep in mind this was not entirely based on Bush's intelligence, since he'd been saying the same things before 2001. But that was then. Again from 2007, during his run for the presidency, addressing the comment above from 2002:
SEN. BIDEN: That’s right, and I was correct about that. He must be, in fact—and remember the weapons we were talking about. I also said on your show, that’s part of what I said, but not all of what I meant. What I also said on your show at the time was that I did not think he had weaponized his material, but he did have. When, when the inspectors left after Saddam kicked them out, there was a cataloguing at the United Nations saying he had X tons of, X amount of, and they listed the various materials he had. The big issue, remember, on this show we talked about, was whether he had weaponized them. Remember you asked me about those flights that were taking place in southern Iraq, where—were they spraying anthrax? And, you know, what would happen? And, you know, so on and so forth. And I pointed out to you that they had not developed that capacity at all. But he did have these stockpiles everywhere.

MR. RUSSERT: Where are they?

SEN. BIDEN: Well, the point is, it turned out they didn’t, but everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. He catalogued—they catalogued them. This was not some, some Cheney, you know, pipe dream. This was, in fact, catalogued. They looked at them and catalogued. What he did with them, who knows? The real mystery is, if he, if he didn’t have any of them left, why didn’t he say so? Well, a lot of people say if he had said that, he would’ve, you know, emboldened Iran and so on and so forth.
The problem with Biden--and the reason I can't help but like him--is that he can't control himself enough to keep from blubbering out some honesty every now and then.

MORE 2/14/10

From the WaPo analysis:
White House officials say they have been unmoved by criticism from Cheney, whom they note is one of least popular political figures in America.
That's their rebuttal? For real? Sounds appropriate--for ninth grade.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Side Tracks

This week we take a ride on the Grand Funk Railroad. Here's former lead singer Mark Farner singing their big hippie hit in a solo venue..



Farner and Don Brewer both had quality lead vocal voices, rare for one band. They sold out Shea Stadium in 1971, evoking comparisons to the Beatles. I'm not going into that stuff here. This one was always a neat little tune..



The group's name was a derivative of a real railroad--the 'Grand Trunk Railway' of Canada and Michigan fame.