Friday, April 30, 2004

No Accountability 

Mercenaries strike again.

"Lawyers for the soldiers argue they are being made scapegoats for a rogue military prison system in which mercenaries give orders without legal accountability."

Now the mercenaries are giving our soldiers orders? These guys have been in the news many times since the war started, has the President ever been asked his opinion of the mercenaries? They are privately owned and operated, so I guess he's in full support.

There are some people with interesting backgrounds among the mercenaries.


Thursday, April 29, 2004

World War II Memorial 

Opens to the public.


Their Ultimate Revenge? 

The Arab-American vote could help tip the scale against Bush.
"Numbering at least 3.5 million, Arab-Americans make up a little over 1 percent of the US population. At the same time, their voter turnout, which is higher than that of most other US groups, is expected to hit close to 2 million this year, or about 1.5 percent of all voters."


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Inside Najaf 

Some details from the NY Times about what's going on in the Iraqi holy city.

"The American military appeared to be getting help from a shadowy new vigilante group in Najaf that might have been responsible for the deaths of seven armed supporters of the rebel cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, according to residents of Najaf. An American commander said that "there may be some validity" to reports of attacks by the vigilantes."

Are they little Iraqi angels-on-our-shoulders, or CIA trained Iraqis doing our dirty work? I have no idea which, but i hope they are Shiites who are pissed at the meglomaniac Sadr for what he's putting the people of Najaf through...More soon.


"Bad" Catholic Double Standard 

Michelangelo Signorile gets it right:

"Sure, Kerry is running for president—the first Catholic candidate since John F. Kennedy—and he's been avidly pro-choice and spoke out in favor of abortion rights as a major march took place in Washington over the weekend. But the story of Catholic politicians and abortion is an old one, as are the Vatican's condemnations and statements on morality. It seems odd when these old stories suddenly play big again; when they omit Republicans who are pro-choice, it becomes downright suspect. Responding to Kerry's statements supporting a woman's right to choose, a Bush campaign flack said Kerry's views are "outside the mainstream.'' Is that what Bush thinks about Arnie, Rudy, Pataki, Christie Todd Whitman and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge? That would certainly be a good story—if the media actually pursued it."


Wes Clark on Kerry 

I think Clark is campaigning for the VP slot. I hope so.
"Yet the Republican attack machine follows a pattern we've seen before, whether the target is Senator John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 or Senator Max Cleland in Georgia in 2002. The latest manifestation of these tactics is the controversy over Mr. Kerry's medals."

With Kerry's recent attacks on Cheney and Rove's lack of military service, it may be hard for Kerry to select a VP with no service him/herself, like John Edwards.

Kerry probably should be more straightforward with the issue of whether he threw away the medal or ribbon. I thought I've long heard him say that he only threw the ribbons away, keeping the medals. End of story. Personally, I can care less, it's a bogus issue, similar to Bush's attacks on McCain in 2000-no substance from a campaign that wants to keep the talk away from the real issues.


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

End of the Road 

For Senator Arlen Specter? Let's hope so. A Pat Toomey win, would match Toomey up with Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel. Pennsylvania is a strange political state, with elected Pro choice/anti-gun Republicans and elected pro life/pro gun Democrats. Having worked on a campaign in the that state, I don't think voters there will elect another conservative like Toomey, to join hard core conservative Rick Santorum in the Senate. Hoeffel and Toomey have many obvious differences and if Hoeffel can get Philadelphia/Pittsburgh voters out, along with the labor unions that dominate Pa., he should be the next Senator.

Update: Specter narrowly pulls it off, 51%-49%. That's trouble for Hoeffel.


Monday, April 26, 2004

Picture of the Day 

From Agence France Presse: A portrait of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden burns after protestors set alight his effigy during a protest against terrorism. Jordan foiled a chemical attack linked to Al-Qaeda against the intelligence services with trucks loaded with 20 tons of explosives that could have killed 80,000 people, security officials.

These are the sights that are good to see from a Middle Eastern country-pictures of Bin Laden being set alight. Moderate Arabs and Muslims realize that they too can be killed by bombs set by extremists and are speaking out against it. If our government's PR staff was any good (and I don't think they are), they would find away to keep these protests going. Not invading Fallujah or the holy city of Najaf may be one step. In the long term, a democratic Iraq is another.


Defensive End? 

The Center for American Progress takes a look at Cheney's record on Defense, and it's not what you'd think.

"Yet, a look back at the record shows it was Cheney who repeatedly tried to cut defense spending at this time, even publicly attacking a president of his own party."


Trouble in England 

Why is this terrorist still in England? His deportation hearings have been going on for years and in the meantime, his recruitment of terrorists has increased. Hamza is now calling for suicide bombers to attack England.

More on Hamza and the state of terror in England here.

"Even more worrying, said a senior counterterrorism official, is that the level of "chatter" — communications among people suspected of terrorism and their supporters — has markedly increased since Mr. bin Laden's warning to Europe this month. The spike in chatter has given rise to acute worries that planning for another strike in Europe is advanced

"Iraq dramatically strengthened their recruitment efforts," one counterterrorism official said. He added that some mosques now display photos of American soldiers fighting in Iraq alongside bloody scenes of bombed out Iraqi neighborhoods. Detecting actual recruitments is almost impossible, he said, because it is typically done face to face."

Update: Abu Hamza was branded and "Enemy of the State" yesterday.


Sunday, April 25, 2004

The Next Saddam? 

From Debka:
"Bush administration secretly designates Sunni former major general Abdullah Shehwani Iraq’s next strongman supported by newly-appointed mixed Sunni-Kurdish-Shiite military command"

No idea if this is true or not, but Debka's sources are pretty accurate. I don't think the Shiite majority will be too thrilled with a Sunni strongman. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni strongman, who was veryviscouss to the Shiites when he was in power. The U.S. invasion was supposed to finally give the Shiites a voice. Now the only voice we may here is from Muqtada al-Sadr. Is this a sign we plan to give power to a strongman so we can get out and save face?



Maureen Dowd's latest.

"In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft."


Saturday, April 24, 2004

NFL Draft 

I've been watching today's NFL draft sporadically all day, and one thing comes to mind-how tired Chris Berman's attempt at humor is. Every times he opens his mouth, he tries to come up with something witty. I've noticed Michael Irvin and Mel Kiper, who are sitting next to Berman, roll their eyes more than once. Is ESPN just being loyal to Berman, since he's been there all these years, or do people really enjoy him? I think loyalty.


A Shutdown? 

I'd love to see this happen. A Republincan controlled Senate and House, with a Republican in the White House. And they can't get anything done because of Democrats are being mean?

However, the even better news is that Tom DeLay may be indicted for corruption. Of course, he'd be indicted by a "runaway Democratic prosecutor", as Novak puts it.


Friday, April 23, 2004

Picture of the Day 

Pat Tillman is just one of the many that have been killed or wounded, but he is a recognizable face to some. Let's use his death to remember those who died serving our country.


What If 

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il had been killed in yesterday's train accident? Who would assume power? One of Jong-il's three sons, or a military junta perhaps?

What if Kim's train was destroyed by the explosion, totally by accident, how would the North Koreans (i.e. Military) react? I fear that they would immediately assume it was an assassination, and in a worst-case scenario, lash out at S. Korea and the U.S. soldiers that are stationed just across from the DMZ, and N. Korea's 13,000 artillery cannons. However, if we take a Richard Perle perspective, maybe the N. Koreans would greet the U.S and South Korea with flowers and assist us with the reunification of Korea.


Tillman Dead 

CNN has breaking news that former NFL player Pat Tillman was killed in action, while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Tillman enrolled in the Army Rangers with his brother, Kevin.


Decision Making 

From Juan Cole:

There are also rumors that Bush himself made the decision that Fallujah would have to be massively punished for the desecration of the bodies of the US private soldiers of fortune killed there, and that Gen. John Abizaid strongly agreed.

That decision backfired badly from a political point of view, both in Iraq and the region , and the British in particular have signalled hard that it is time for the US to negotiate.

It does make sense to have the President sign off on a major military decision, such as what's going on in Fallujah, but of course, this Bush decision backfired. Can he get any Iraq decisions right?


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Iraqis Arming Selves 

A case of Art imitating life here from the Onion. "Arming selves for Independence" sounds like something the Pentagon would come up with. Sort of like "In order to save the village, we had to destroy the village".

"Saddam is overthrown! Praise Allah! Iraq is ours once more!" Baghdad native Alaa al-Khawaja said, as he busily shoved boxes of 7.62mm ammunition beneath the bed in his two-room home on the outskirts of Baghdad. "Now is the time for all citizens to prepare for our nation's glorious future—a future certain to contain wave after bloody wave of sectarian violence."


Round 2 

Flyers Vs. Toronto Maple Leafs starts tonight. Going to be a tough series, but I think the Leafs will be tired from a tough Round 1.

-My prediction: Flyers win series in 6.


Spring Love 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reacts to being asked to China's Communist Party Dance, by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
(Jong-il accepted and will be wearing gray)



Page 250 of Woodward's new book, Plan of Attack: Karl Rove, a Norwegian-American, is obsessed with the "historical duplicity" of the Swedes, who seized Norway back in 1814. This nationalism manifests itself as hatred for Swedish weapons inspector Hans Blix.

Also notable:

Page 290: Paul Wolfowitz, one of the administration's fiercest neocons, entertains wild theories linking al-Qaida to remnants of Cold War spycraft. He wonders whether Bin Laden is in league with former East German intelligence agents. Unnamed "heads of state" warn him that al-Qaida may be working with ex-KGB officers.

More from the book here.



Mary McGrory has died.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Why They Hate Us 

One good opinion why.

Something I never considered before:

In Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and other countries, the large majority of people I spoke with are ready to tolerate the Jewish state — most even understand that the final boundaries of Israel will include some of the heavily settled areas beyond the pre-1967 borders


Militias Regrouping? 

They're still here.

"We're moving back into this period where radical right-wing activism is being dismissed as goofy and loopy, whereas the al-Qaida threat is around every corner. But the right-wingers are much closer to home. And they are still there."


Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Spanish Police Officer who was killed in the recent standoff with terrorists, had his body stolen from his grave and mutilated.


Feel the Draft in Here? 

Vietnam Vet and Senator Chuck Hagel does.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

...And he wasn't very excited about going to war with Iraq in the first place. It's interesting to hear him mention the fact that most who serve are from lower to middle class. Usually, that's something you only hear from Democrats.

A Bill has been drafted.


Foiled Manchester Plot 

I bet the Sun is exaggerating a bit when it says a plot to bomb Manchester United's Saturday game was "foiled", b/c at this point, we don't know if the game was even the target. However, the idea of terrorists sitting at different spots in the stadium, and detonating bombs is extremely frightening and could cause thousands of deaths.

Despite how annoying it can be, I'm glad to be frisked going into sporting events and concerts in the U.S. In my opinion, a terrorist attack on crowded sporting event/concert/or nightclub would cause more damage psychologically, than another attack on a Navy ship, like the U.S.S Cole. In the case of a bombed sporting event, the terrorists will be striking when least expected, thus causing "terror". Citizens not involved in the government or living in a metropolitan center might realize that they too can be a target. Instantly, people will think twice about going out to a crowded restaurant or movie theatre, causing economic damage, giving the terrorists another "win". I really am surprised it hasn't happened here yet, like what happens in Israel, but we've been warned.


Conservatives Against the War 

From the NY Times:
Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative stalwart and the dean of conservative direct mail, said the Iraq war had created an unusual schism. "I can't think of any other issue that has divided conservatives as much as this issue in my political lifetime," Mr. Viguerie said.

In a recent interview, Representative John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee, one of the few Republicans who voted against the invasion, said he believed the administration should seek an exit soon. "I think we should announce to the world that no country has come close to doing as much for Iraq as we have, but there are a significant number of people who don't appreciate what we have done," Mr. Duncan said. "I think we should get on out, we should celebrate victory and we should leave."

Interesting schism there. I like seeing the Republicans/Libertarians fight against each other.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Strange Story 

St. Louis Blues forward Mike Danton was arrested and charged in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme. The Smoking Gun was there.

It appears that Danton had an unusual relationship with his former coach and agent David Frost. Some even say Frost used "mind control" on Danton.



Today's the anniversary of the end of the Waco standoff and the Oklahoma City bombing. I haven't seen anything about this in the news today...yet.

As Roger Ailes adds:

On April 19, 2004, news coverage of the anniversaries is minimal. There's some news about the state trial of convicted terrorist Nichols, but almost nothing on the child-molesting sociopath Koresh, whom the wingnuts and Congressional Republicans tried to rehabilitate as some sort of later-day Davy Crockett. I hope that those who still seek to excuse these crimes or shift or spread the blame will give a second's thought to the murdered ATF agents, the public servants who were killed in service of this country, and the children who were Koresh's holy sacrifices and McVeigh's "collateral damage." For the sake of their own humanity.


Pay as You Go 

I like the sound of this. It'll make supermarket shopping easier and will keep you on your budget-exactly what supermarkets don't want you to do...


Without a Trace 

Abcnews.com is running a front page story on the missing Boeing 727, that's been gone for almost a year now. At this point, I don't expect to hear from the missing pilot, Ben Padilla and i'm optimistic that the plane has been crashed for insurance money, but there's this report from last August, that mentions the flying bomb scenario.

More on the plane here.


Saturday, April 17, 2004

Hamas Leader Killed 

No doubt you've heard the news Israel assassinated new Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi by missile strike. It can be debated whether the killing is a good thing or a bad thing for Israel and the "war on terror" as a whole.

Some evidence shows that the recent Israeli assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin has caused Hamas to fight among themselves and other such problems, but this recent assassination may finally cause Hamas and their sympathizers to strike the United States directly. For years, we've heard the anti-American rhetoric from the Palestinians after an Israeli strike, but mostly it's b/c of the Israeli use of U.S. helicopters and other weapons. This time, the timing of the assassination makes the anti-American threats a bit more realistic.

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon and President Bush just had a meeting, where Bush basically conceded to Sharon everything that was asked of him. Now, with this assassination merely a few days later, it gives the appearance that Bush may have ok'd it. I think Sharon acts for himself and what he thinks is good for Israel first, but this attack does nothing but make America look bad. Whether Bush gave the "go ahead" or not, I think America will become more of a target because of it. This is one of the times that our friendship with Israel does nothing but hurt us. Did Ariel Sharon plan this attack in hopes of forcing Hamas to attack the U.S., thus, bringing the U.S. into their specific war against Hamas, Hezbollah, etc, I don't know. But, Sharon is a veteran warrior who thinks he knows what's right for his country and he knows that President Bush is staking his presidency on his "war on terror". Are the Gaza Strip and West Bank the next theatre for U.S. troops?

Update: (Monday) Hamas political leader, and the next person to be assasinated by Israel, Khaled Meshaal called for an Arab and Muslim alliance to defeat the United States and Israel.


Demon Exorcised 

The Flyers today, knocked off the defending Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils 3-1, to Advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs.


Friday, April 16, 2004

Rummy's Slush Fund? 

Check out Matthew Yglesias's interesting look at an excerpt from Bob Woodward's new book em>Plan of Attack. This little nugget may turn into something:

President Bush, after a National Security Council meeting, takes Don Rumsfeld aside, collars him physically and takes him into a little cubbyhole room and closes the door and says, 'What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq?' What is the status of the war plan? I want you to get on it. I want you to keep it secret," says Woodward.

"...The end of July 2002, they need $700 million, a large amount of money for all these tasks. And the president approves it. But Congress doesn't know and it is done. They get the money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War, which Congress has approved. ...Some people are gonna look at a document called the Constitution which says that no money will be drawn from the treasury unless appropriated by Congress. Congress was totally in the dark on this."

Stay Tuned...


Senator Strikes Back 

This is the John Kerry I like to see. Please, please, please keep hitting these guys for hiding behind a cloak of patriotism, whenever they can, but when the had the opportunity to serve themselves, they chose not to, or like VP Cheney, had "other priorities". The best thing Kerry said was this:

I've seen how these people in the White House today, in their twisted sense of ethics and morality, don't think twice about challenging John McCain and what happened to him as a prisoner of war," he said in reference to attacks by President Bush (news - web sites) in 2000 on his Republican primary rival McCain, an Arizona senator.

I'm glad Kerry is sticking up for his friend, John McCain and reminding voters what Bush & Co. did to war hero John McCain during the 2000 primaries...



Now Halliburton really has an image problem.


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Cat Fight! 

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, scolded Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-TN) for Frist's Senate floor speech a few weeks ago. During that speech, Frist claimed Richard Clarke had contradicted himself , during his testimony in front of the 911 Commission. Clarke had testified in front of Congress about the time leading up to September 11th, a few years ago.

FPN had a scoop several weeks ago that Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Clarke did not contradict himself during his testimony in front of the 911 Commission and was quite upset that Senator Frist would use a Senate floor speech to wrongfully attack someone.



I've avoided it so far, but the world's most famous football star may now be in the doghouse. Yes, the Sun was there.



An account on how Islamic militants around the world use the internet to recruit for jihad. Check out what happened to alneda.net.


Political Ads 

The latest campaign Ad strategy?


Bush on Vacation 

Fred Kaplan's take on a President who's an "out of towner".


Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Billmon's analysis of today's Bush-Sharon press conference. It is a wonder how little press this got, considering this :

In an appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and in an exchange of letters to be made public later today, Bush accepted essentially all of what the Israeli leader had sought. The move substantially changes U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, softening the American objection to Israel's settlements and dropping a reluctance to dictate terms of a final peace settlement.

More Bllmon: "To call this document the most craven, under-handed and one-sided agreement ever negotiated by the U.S. government would be unfair. There are, after all, those 19th century Indian treaties to take into account. But it's pretty clear that, rumors of their demise notwithstanding, the neocons are alive and kicking, and still have a death grip on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. It seems almost inconceivable to me that having plunged America into the bloody quicksand in Iraq, the neocons are now to receive as their reward an only modestly reduced version of their dream of a Greater Israel. Fuck up and move up indeed."

Yes, this might be simplify things a bit too much, but, I don't think the current administration realizes that a key to the U.S. being seen as legitimate in the eyes of Middle Easterner's, is to be engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an even handed peace broker. Sure, everyone there knows Israel is one of our biggest allies, but at one time we were perceived to at least be making an effort at being fair. The Israel-Palestinian conflict is a major recruiting tool for Al Qaeda and other like minded terror groups. In fact, the Sunnis in Fallujah who mutilated the four U.S. contractors claim to be from a new group called the "Brigades of the Martyr Ahmed Yassin", the Hamas "spiritual" leader, assassinated by Israel. Sure, these groups know that linking the U.S. and Israel is an easy thing to do, even if it's a stretch, but, it's all connected one way or another.


Batman Begins 

Gary Oldman has signed on to join Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Katie Holmes in Director Christopher Nolan's
Batman Begins. Nolan also directed Momento and Insomnia. Fake Plastic News is very excited about this...


Zakaria on Iraq 

Here's Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria's latest piece on Iraq. A couple key graf's:

"The tragedy is that so much of this was avoidable. The Bush administration went into Iraq with a series of prejudices about Iraq, rogue states, nation-building, the Clinton administration, multilateralism and the U.N. It believed Iraq was going to vindicate these ideological positions. As events unfolded the administration proved stubbornly unwilling to look at facts on the ground, new evidence and the need for shifts in its basic approach. It was more important to prove that it was right than to get Iraq right."


"the troops were not asked to make security for the Iraqi people their core mission. After spending a week in Iraq last November, the Brookings Institution's Kenneth Pollack noted that "the single greatest impediment" to the success of the reconstruction efforts was that Iraqis "do not feel safe in their own country. Iraqis resent the fact that American forces take such pains to protect themselves and do so little to protect the Iraqi people." He noted the "constant (and fully justified) complaint of Iraqis: the Americans have no presence and make no effort to stop street crime or the attacks on [Iraqis] by the [insurgents]." Since November, American forces have been moving out of cities into heavily armed base camps in outlying districts, out of sight. In Baghdad, the Army started out with more than 60 small units scattered throughout the city. It will soon be based in eight camps, mostly outside the city. When patrols take place, they are usually quick tours using armored cars and tanks, not the frequent foot patrols that provide order and friendly relations with locals."

It's scary how little planning seems to have taken place in anticipation of what could happen and even worse, how little the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has properly adapted to correct what has gone wrong. When asked, last night, about who we're going to hand Iraq to on June 30th, the President replied, "we'll find out soon." I don't think he even knows.


Hearts and Minds 

Bush quote from Slate:

"Some are skeptical that the war on terror is really a war at all. My opponent said, and I quote, "The war on terror is less of a military operation, and far more of an intelligence-gathering law enforcement operation." I disagree-strongly disagree. ...After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States of America, and war is what they got."
President Bush, March 25, 2004

Whether the military operation is the main part of the "War on Terror" or the law enforcement/intelligence aspect is the main part is core difference between the Republican and Democratic party. I think that it all depends on what the battlefield is. Of course, in Afghanistan, the only choice we had was to go in and assist the Northern Alliance militarily. Bush saw the same problem in Iraq: he tried diplomacy, through the U.N., but when that failed, we had to use force. He now calls Iraq "the main front in the war on terror". That appears to be true, because he made it the main front.

The war on terror should be all 3 components, intelligence, military and law enforcement all working together. As we've seen with the recent terror arrests in Spain and London, the extremists have infiltrated most countries, including the United States. Does President Bush expect us to bomb Los Angeles and London, in order to kill tterrorirstssts? No, in those cases we have to have intelligence agencies working with law enforcement. Like Eliot Ness did with the Chicago mafia, we have to arrest the terrorists any way we can. If they spit on the sidewalk, arrest them.

Iraq is now a haven for Islamic extremists to kill Westerners, it wasn't like that before the war. With bloodshed increasing, more and more Arabs and Muslims will be seeing brutal footage on Al Jazeera and go to Iraq for revenge. I think Iraq is a case of the military causing more terror, rather than stopping it. We do have to kill or capture the terrorists that are out there, no question about it. However, we must stop the next generation of Muslims from becoming terrorists. To me, that's what President Bush and his Administration are missing. This is a public relations battle as much as anything else. If we don't win over Muslim "hearts and minds", the War on Terror will last forever.


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Bush's Press Conference 

Wow, Bush is struggling here. For someone who normally has his press conferences scripted, it doesn't even look like he was prepped for this. I feel like i'm watching a 6th grader being asked where his homework is and instead of saying he doesn't have it, gives a rambling answer hoping for the bell to ring. David Gregory asks if Bush is willing to take blame for anything that has happened on his watch. Bush responded with a 5 minute babblefest where he didn't even answer the question...Apparently the "buck" doesn't stop anywhere near him...I can't wait to see the polls.


U.S. to leave the DMZ 

After 50 years, the U.S. will stop patrolling the DMZ between North and South Korea at the end of October.

It isn't clear, however, whether this latest move, intended to downplay the U.S. presence, will make too many people, across the political specrtum happy - Korea's conservatives worry that removing U.S. forces from the DMZ removes an important security tripwire, while liberals complain that the U.S. will now build new bases further to the south to replace the reployed soldiers.

Personally, I welcome the move. Our soldiers have been there for the past 50 years to help protect South Korea from the North. However, over the years weapons and politics have changed. Our soldiers at the DMZ are sitting ducks, if the North decides to attack. It's one thing to be a "tripwire", but another to be killed instantly, at the start of a conflict, by a missile is another. Having our troops dispersed, away from the border probably makes some sense. S. Korea's military should do the heavy lifting, with the U.S. backing them up.


Kissing Jobs Goodbye 

(insert joke here)


Clinton's Memoir 

I love the guy, but if President Clinton releases his book sometime between the Democratic Convention in July and election day, it'll show that some of his criticism is right, he only is out for himself. Kerry needs the spotlight at that time. Unlike Gore in 2000, Kerry should use Clinton as much as he can during his campaign, at the least, to bring out Urban voters. However, he doesn't need all the talk to be about Clinton's book and bring back talk about Clinton's controversies.

According to the NY Times, some party leaders and kerry campaign officials are hopeful that the book can be released sometime in the spring, to help in "pumping up the base." If Mr. Clinton gets it out in time, party officials said, they hoped to hold fund-raising events at stops on his book tour.


Bland Opening 

After the opening ceremonies, it was all downhill at the new Citizens Bank Park yesterday. The Reds beat the Phillies 4-1 in the home opener. The Flyers also lost yesterday, but with the new stadium unveiled, it was still a good day for Philadelphia.


Monday, April 12, 2004

Send in the Twins! 

Interesting timing for Bush's daughters to get in the spotlight. When his ratings were high, he was against having them reported on by the press, but now his ratings have plummeted, he sends them out to visit troops... What's next, will Spot, the Bush dog lead weapons inspectors to the WMD's, a la Lassie?


Ex-Officers return? 

From Debka:

US Generals Abizaid and Sanchez announce major policy turnaround: former Saddam officers are being recalled, part of reassessment to improve leadership and performance of Iraqi army and police. Two extra US brigades with combat and rapid response capabilities requested for Iraq. Read more on generals’ joint briefing in Baghdad in News Box below Headlines

Unconfirmed reports that police stations and public buildings handed over to Iraqi police in Najef, Karbala and al-Kuf in deal with Moqtada Sadr. His Mehdi Army militiamen still visible at Najef’s shrines

The rehiring of some of Saddam's experienced officers sounds like it's something that has to be done. A good idea? That may be a different story. I'm assuming/hoping that these aren't the same officers who've used chemical weapons and otherwise have a lot of blood on their hands. The new Iraqi police's poor showing during this current outbreak of violence shows that they are unwilling to lead or even, take up armagainstnt other Iraqis, under orders from the U.S. led coalition. That's where the ex. Officers come into play. These guys are used to giving orders and havintheirer soldiers follow them. We need Iraqis to run Iraq, not us. If the police can't do their jobs, it'll lead to the death of more U.S. and allied soldiers.

We all know at this point, that disbanding the Iraqi military was a bad idea-it forced too many men of fighting age to be unemployed. Now, let's get as many of these guys jobs as we can.



Dead or Alive


Calling Michael Powell 

Oh the humanity!! Another curse word uttered on live TV, this time by Shaq (again). I'm shocked and deeply offended, hopefully the FCC can get another $500K and Rep. Heather Wilson can call another congressional hearing on indecency.


No means No 

Once again, Senator John McCain has said that he is not interested in the opportunity of being John Kerry's Vice President. I hope this finally puts a nail into the coffin of this idea. It was intriguing and I think a Kerry/McCain ticket would have been a lock to win, but McCain still is a Republican!

I'm tired of hearing people say it'll "restore bipartisanship" to Washington. That itself is false. The minute McCain joins the ticket, the GOP will turn its back on him, whether McCain keeps the "R" next to his name or not. John McCain is a good man and Senator. He can be a hardcore conservative at times, and other times seem liberal. Most importantly, he is willing to see an issue without the partisan views most elected officials take.

What if Kerry would become ill (he already has had prostate cancer), would Democrats be comfortable with a VP who has conservative views on abortion, trade and national security? Or could appoint conservative judges to the Appeals Court or Supreme Court? No way. On the surface the Kerry/McCain tandem seems nice, but when you look closely, it's just doesn't work.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

Biden' his Time 

From Washington Monthly:

On Face the Nation today Joe Biden said he spoke with the President of France, who offered to commit troops to Iraq if the US would get the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council to agree to a plan to put the UN in charge of the political handover in Iraq (something the Bush admin is begging the UN to do anyway) and maintain control until it happens. That last bit is something the Bushies don't want. They want Bremer and then our new as-yet-unnamed ambassador to remain in charge.

Biden's plan would get us anywhere from 2,000 to 25,000 more foreign troops in Iraq, and more importantly, directly give the rest of the world a stake in the effort. Pat Roberts, the Republican chair of his Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was stunned by this announcement.

Only last week Powell was in Europe trying to work something out to get 1,500 troops to protect the UN commissioner in Baghdad. He came back with a lot of "we'll get back to you" and from the French "our plate is pretty full in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, etc."

I love Joe Biden. He's blunt, effective and not afraid to pick up the phone to speak to a foreign leader. Maybe he can get a job in a Kerry Administration.

If only he didn't plagiarize that speech during his Presidential race...



Another big Flyers win.


Saturday, April 10, 2004

Commander Kerry 


"Meanwhile, just 36 percent of those polled say they are satisfied with 'the way things are going in this country.' More than half (59%) say they are dissatisfied."

That is the key-are we better off than 4 years ago? Absolutely not.


The B-Team 

Slate has an interesting piece on our hired guns working in Iraq. I've been posting a lot about these guys b/c it is a story now, but I think it'll be even bigger when the Iraq situation clears up. I bet there will be some Congressional hearings about more oversight in dealing with these contractors. I guess the Pentagon will basically suppport keeping them around, as support for our regular forces. However, I think some of our commanders in the field, would beg to differ. Many of the contractors are thought of as wanna be Rambos who aren't exactly making the lives of our soldiers any easier.


ABC News has more on contractors and who they answer to.


Friday, April 09, 2004

Situation in Iraq 

From Juan Cole's excellent analysis of Iraq:

"The US suffered 6 more combat deaths on Wednesday and Thursday. In a CNN interview retired General Barry MacCaffrey said that the task of the US is to regain control of Baghdad and restore its lines of communication in the South. He gave away a great deal. One may conclude that a) the US has lost control of Baghdad and b) the US communications and supply lines in the South have been cut. That is, a year after the fall of Saddam, the US faces the task of reconquering the country."

Get more troops there now, we can't afford to continue doing this, on the cheap. We are fighting the war that we didn't fight last year. During our invasion, most Iraqi soldiers went home without fighting. Now, they've had time to organize, and in some cases unite in a Sunni-Shiite front. This can be a good thing for the Coalition in the long run. It's "better" that this is occurring now, rather then after June 30. We never should have taken most of our troops out of the city. Now, we have the opportunity of re-taking the cities and getting rid of the pro-Saddam/Jihadists once and for all. We are going to take some losses, but the rebels need to be shown what it is like to face an angry marine.


Flyers 3 Devils 2 

Game 1 to the Flyers...


China Scenario 

How does China plan on taking Control of Taiwan? The Asia Times has an idea.


Boy Needs His Rest 

From the Washington Post:

"This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency."

More than 40% of his presidency away from the White House. He wants to remind us at all times that "we are at war", but if so, why are you always on vacation? Why were you on vacation prior to 9-11, when there was substantial "chatter" of a terror attack? Why are you on vacation now, while our marines are getting attacked and killed throughout Iraq, because of your administration's bad idea?


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Honor and Integrity? 

From Billmon:

....apparently it came up in Rice's 9/11 testimony -- but the infamous August 6, 2001 presidential briefing, the one the Bushies have fought like rabid wolverines to keep secret, has a title:

"Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S"

Bush's last carefully worded excuse:

"Had my administration had any information that terrorists were going to attack New York City on September the 11th, we would have acted."


I think most people would realize that with all the information out there, there's still a big chance that the attacks would have occured anyway. That is what Richard Clarke says-911 still may have happened. It's obviously a hard thing to do, but why can't the Bush Administration just admit that they screwed up? He made such a fuss during his campaign about "restoring honor and integrity in the White House", but President Bush can't look the American people (or the press) in the eye and admit the truth.


Atlantic City has Class 

For the first time ever, the Macallan Scotch whiskey vintage collection will be offerered by the glass.

You'll be able to find it at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, but have your credit card ready. One glass can cost anywhere between $50 and $3,500.


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Coors for Senate 

Pete Coors to run for Colorado Senate. Future member of the Congressional Beer Caucus?


Skirmishes with Syria 

UPI reports several border clashes between U.S and Syrian soldiers, resulting in a few injuries.

"Beirut's daily As-Safir quoted U.S. political and military sources in Washington as saying Tuesday that Syrian troops fired at a U.S. helicopter in one of the border incidents, causing the casualties."

I'm not too surprised that these skirmishes take place, considering that anti-U.S. forces have come across the Syria-Iraq border, reportedly, assisted by Syrian itself. However, if you read a few paragraphs down:

"The U.S. sources also said the Pentagon decided to place Lebanon and Syria under the U.S. Central Command led by Gen. John Abuzaid which is responsible for the Middle East region. The sources cited "geographic and field reasons" and the necessity of dealing better with the situation on the Syria-Iraq border for its decision. "

I never had any reason to think of looking into it before, but I figured Lebanon/Syria would already fall into the "Middle East Region". I'm a little surprised the Pentagon didn't make that change before the war in Iraq, but their planning, or lack of, never ceases to amaze me. I just hope Syria doesn't become another Cambodia.


Iraq Rumor 

Uh oh.


Now, the Iraqis claim to have captured coalition soldiers. It's entirely possible that they do have captured soldiers, considering how much the soldiers are outnumbered in some areas. However, it could be evidence that the the rebels are taking heavy casualties and are hoping to have some negotiating leeway. I bet that's the case, but either way, don't expect to hear anything from the Pentagon.

Update 2:

Debka has a map of the Iraq flashpoints.



From the Onion. Notice the date that it was originally published.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

How to Beat Terror 

Fareed Zakaria is becoming my favorite journalist. Here's his latest.

To Sum it up:

"Open societies will have to get used to some invasions of privacy. We need pre-emption but against individuals more than states"



Poor Ralph. That sympathy is sarcastic. He should consider Oregon's message.

Update: From the Hartford Courant:

Nader Seeks Strange Bedfellows

WASHINGTON -- Ralph Nader, while vowing his presidential run is as an independent, is embarking on a new strategy that, come Election Day, may find him running as an independent, a Green, a Populist and a Reform Party candidate all at once.

In recent days, he has met and exchanged letters with third-party officials to negotiate what he says is a pragmatic strategy that would help him gain access to all 50 ballots.

"I would still be an independent candidate, I would just appear on their ballot lines," Nader said this week.

But such a hodgepodge of party affiliations threatens to muddle his message of pure independence, not to mention giving critics more reasons to attack his politics. Already, it is creating controversy within third parties. And it has some fans wondering whether this pragmatic approach is at odds with the central idealism of his candidacy.

"It's weird," said John B. Anderson, the 1980 independent presidential candidate. "That, to me, would shred the credibility of his effort."


Private Security 

Mercenaries save the day. And they have their own helicopters too. They really are a private army.


Phils lose 

Not a good way to start the season, especially with Mesa getting the save. However, there was something to feel good about. There are still 161 games left.


Mayor of Kabul 

Seymour Hersh on the status of the war in Afghanistan. It ain't pretty.

3 important paragraphs.

In retrospect, Clarke said, he believes that the President and his men did not respond for three reasons: “One, they did not want to get involved in Afghanistan like Russia did. Two, they were saving forces for the war in Iraq. And, three, Rumsfeld wanted to have a laboratory to prove his theory about the ability of small numbers of ground troops, coupled with airpower, to win decisive battles.” As of today, Clarke said, “the U.S. has succeeded in stabilizing only two or three cities. The President of Afghanistan is just the mayor of Kabul.”

The results of the postwar neglect are stark. A leading scholar on Afghanistan, Barnett R. Rubin, wrote, in this month’s Current History, that Afghanistan today “does not have functioning state institutions. It has no genuine army or effective police. Its ramshackle provincial administration is barely in contact with, let alone obedient to, the central government. Most of the country’s meager tax revenue has been illegally taken over by local officials who are little more than warlords with official titles.” The goal of American policy in Afghanistan “was not to set up a better regime for the Afghan people,” Rubin wrote. “The goal instead was to get rid of the terrorist threat against America.” The United States enlisted the warlords in its war against terrorism, and “the result was an Afghan government created at Bonn that rested on a power base of warlords.”

"Despite such statistics, the American military has, for the most part, looked the other way, essentially because of the belief that the warlords can deliver the Taliban and Al Qaeda. One senior N.G.O. official told me, “Everybody knows that the U.S. military has the drug lords on the payroll. We’ve put them back in power. It’s gone so terribly wrong.”

We can't afford to ignore Afghanistan as we did in the early 90's, when CIA cut off funding to the anti-Soviet rebels. We paid for it by allowing Al Qaeda to fester there, with the result of 9-11. Now, we're downplaying reality in order for a propoganda victory.


Monday, April 05, 2004


This scares me. I'm optimistic, but any time you match up against one of your biggest rivals (if not your biggest), in the playoffs, the unpredictable usually happens.


RIP Kurt Cobain 

"Happy" anniversary Kurt.

I guess the "where were you on Sept 11th" has over taken it, but "where were you when you heard Cobain died" was my generation's "where were you when you heard JFK was shot?". I was on my way home from baseball practice when I heard about Kurt Cobain, where were you?

Update: Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, has eulogy of Kurt Cobain in the New York Times.


Charlie Wilson's War 

Well, I just finished reading Charlie Wilson's War, and it was probably the most riveting, interesting and scary books i've ever read. The best part is that it's all true. Charlie Wilson was a Liberal Democratic Congressman from Texas, who became obsessed with helping the Afghans rid their country of the Soviet Red Army. The hard partying Wilson used his seat on the Appropriations Committee to steer hundreds of millions of dollars to the mujihadeen and become a folk hero the very same people who would later turn on the U.S. and declare a Jihad on it.

One of Wilson's major allies on the afghan rebel side was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who was probably the most feared rebel commander by the Soviets. Hekmatyar, a former communist himself, was believed to have skinned captured Soviet soldiers alive and leave them on the side of the road for other soldiers to see. Throughout the 80's Hekmatyar received countless aid and training from the CIA and returned the favor in 1991 by siding with Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. He later became Prime Minister of Afghanistan, only to be forced out by what became the Taliban, forcing him into exile in Iran. Recently Hekmatyar came back to Afghanistan, only to side with Osama Bin Laden and join in the jihad against the West.

It appears Hekmatyar may have switched sides once again, and would declare a truce in fighting, if his party, Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA), is allowed to participate in elections this September. After decades of war, everyone would like the Afghanistan's guns to go silent, but with their track record, any truce will probably be a short one.


Sunday, April 04, 2004

Transfer of Power 

Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind) are openly questioning whether or not we are transferring power to the Iraqis too soon.

Asked whether the transfer of power is coming too soon, Lugar said, "It may be, and I think it's probably time to have that debate."

Yes, considering that the transfer date is less than 90 days away and the situation seems to be worsening, is transferring power the right thing to do, so early? A part of me would love to just hand power over to the Iraqis and get out of Iraq, but that would absolutely destroy any credibility the U.S. has. Unfortunately, we are in it for the long haul. By cutting and running, we will be saying our troops who died or injured, were there for nothing. We've gotten ourselves into a major mess, with nobody to blame but ourselves. The "liberated" Iraq that Bush & Co. said would be greeting us with roses and kisses, has instead greeted us with chaos and a probable Civil War.

I do think it's time to talk about delaying the transfer of power, but the Iraqis who are willing to give us the benefit of the doubt that we are not their for Imperial reasons, may turn against us as well. At that point, do we have any friends?


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Boys of Summer 

Hopefully this is a sight we'll be seeing a lot of this season. Thank god baseball is back.


Vist the Louvre 

Without having to leave your chair.


Battle in Spain 

From Debka:

" First battle with al Qaeda in European capital leaves at least four dead. Explosion set off by three suspects in March Madrid railway 5. Bombers holed up in apartment building in Leganes suburb of SW Madrid said died in blast bombings during raid kills at least one Spanish police officer, injures 1singing Arabic songs. Area cordoned off as 40 apartments evacuated. Spanish interior minister reported fourth terrorist may have escaped before area sealed off. Fifteen held earlier - 11 members of al Qaeda-linked Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group."

"Spanish army and helicopters guarding railways after finding bomb Friday on high-speed Madrid-Seville railway track."

Scary stuff. Hopefully this wakes up Europeans to the reality of what we're up against. Most have been through it before, with the IRA, Basque separatists, Red Brigades, etc., but this is different. These muslim extremists seem to be growing in number and more willing to give up on the idea of a "spectacular" terror attack, instead going for backpack type bombs. I think the terrorists who blew up the train stations in Madrid didn't even kill themselves, like they normally do. With the 3/11 attack in Spain, the arrests in England, and the recent Government warnings of possible attacks on busses and trains in the U.S., it's shaping up to be a long summer.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Bush+Taliban sitting in a tree? 

Just a reminder on Bush's get tough stance with the Taliban before 9-11.


Mercenaries in Iraq 

Here's a roundup about the many, many, many mercenaries in Iraq.

Interesting Point:

"It is also only a matter of time before U.S. soldiers grow unhappy with the presence of mercenaries in their midst. The high salaries and shorter terms of employment offered to mercenaries will inevitably make a serious dent on the military's budget. As Blackwater's Jackson acknowledged in the Guardian, "If they are going to outsource tasks that were once held by active-duty military and are now using private contractors, those guys [on active duty] are looking and asking, 'Where is the money?'"


Rumor Roundup 

That NFL Commisioner Paul Tagliabue may run for U.S. Senate as a Democrat from NJ, if Senator Frank Lautenberg retires... Richard Clarke's book set to debut at #1 on NYT best seller list...


The Army of the Rising Sun 

Asia Times is reporting that the U.S. may have a new, or shall we say improved, ally fighting along side of it at hotspots around the world-Japan.

"If Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gets his way, soon he will not only be authorized to dispatch the country's armed forces (at his own discretion, Koizumi likes to add) in the event of an attack on Japan, but also in the event that the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are needed to defend the 47,000 US military personnel on Japanese territory - and beyond. The North Korean military threat is a major factor in the rethinking of Japan's security relationship with the US... All that needs to be done, Koizumi said, is to change the interpretation of "individual self-defense", adding the defense of US troops stationed on Japanese territory to the concept."

The strength of Japan's "Defense Forces" is one of the best kept secrets in the military world, however, they still aren't as prepared as a modern military should be. Japan has sent troops to Iraq, to show they are more willing to cooperate on International security and to show some of their Asian neighbors that Japan is willing to fight alongside the U.S.

Some people may be scared off by Japan stepping up their military, especially the Asian countries that Japan conquered and ravaged during World War 2. But I think this would be a major victory for the U.S. At a time when we can use any support we can get from our allies, one of our biggest may be stepping up. With our military stretched thin because of the Iraq War and the War on Terror, the rise of the Japanese military may give China a reason to think twice about invading Taiwan or keep North Korea from misbehaving. The balance of Asian power may continue to shift.


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Camp Counselors? 

From Geostrategy-Direct:

Pakistani intelligence agents were killed during an August 1998 U.S. missile attack on Afghanistan, a hearing of the U.S. government-sponsored commission examining the September 11 terrorist attacks disclosed last week.
The 60 Tomahawk missiles were fired on a complex of four terrorist training bases, a logistics center and a headquarters some 94 miles south of Kabul near the Pakistani border.

The storage site had weapons and explosives.

Osama Bin Laden and other top Al Qaida leaders were supposed to have been in the facility along with some 600 Al Qaida trainees.

According to a staff report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States, neither Bin Laden nor other terrorist leaders were killed in the raid.

Former National Security Adviser Samuel Berger was asked during one hearing whether a decision to inform Pakistan about the missile strike in advance had compromised the chance of killing Bin Laden and other top leaders.

Berger said that a senior U.S. general informed Pakistan's chief of staff about the attacks during a dinner meeting as the missiles were in flight.

Asked he believed the Pakistanis warned Bin Laden of the attack, Berger replied, "There has been speculation to that effect, - that he was tipped off. I tend to doubt it, for the simple reason is that we also killed, apparently, a number of Pakistani ISI intelligence officials who were at the camps at the same time. So one would think that had there been a tip, they would have gotten their own people out."


Telling the truth 

We've heard Hans Blix, David Kay and many others come out and say that there are no WMD's in Iraq. Well it has finally happened. Our Great Leader has now come out, on the record, and admitted the truth. "There are no WMD's in Iraq". Story here.


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