Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Democrats and Abortion 

I missed it live on Sunday, but on Meet the Press, Rev. Jim Wallis talked about what Democrats need to do on the abortion issue. (Transcript here.)

REV. JIM WALLIS: Well, Christians voted both ways in this election. God is not a Republican or a Democrat. That should be obvious. The values question is critical. The question is how narrowly or how broadly we define values. So we say that poverty is a religious and moral value. So is the environment. So is the war in Iraq. These are moral value that require a lot of discussion. I welcome the moral-values conversation. I really do. It's the soul of our politics, the compass of our public life. But how narrowly or how broadly we define the values is the question.

In this election, there were competing values, so a lot of Christians voted both ways because we wanted to vote all of our values, not just one or two. I think the Democrats are often uncomfortable talking about faith values, when it's even about their agenda. The Republicans want to narrow, though, or restrict values to one or two issues--important ones, but one or two. I think the Democrats have to recover their heart and soul; Republicans need a broader and deeper agenda about values....

MR. RUSSERT: Reverend Jim Wallis, let me ask you. You said something very interesting. You said, "The secular fundamentalism of the left is as much of a problem as the religious fundamentalism on the right." Would you apply that to abortion?

REV. WALLIS: Well, this is a conversation that we're having all across the country now. And it's again about symbols more than--I want solutions here. Pro-life and pro-choice people could unite together around working on teenage pregnancy, adoption reform, supporting low-income women. When you support them economically, the abortion rate falls. The abortion rate is way too high in America.

DR. FALWELL: We're doing all those things, Jim.

REV. WALLIS: You know, we're not--no one's pro-abortion. How do you prevent unwanted pregnancies? I'd like to find some common ground to work together to dramatically reduce the abortion rate. On so many of these issues, we get in the polarized, ideological debates and then we don't talk about to solve the problem.DR. FALWELL: You're a preacher, aren't you?

REV. WALLIS: "How do we make abortion"--Democrats--"safe, legal and rare?" Well, they're keeping it legal, but let's try to make abortion truly rare in the society. That is a common ground around which I think a lot of people, pro-life and pro-choice could and should support.

DR. FALWELL: Jim, let me ask you a question. Did you vote for John Kerry?

REV. WALLIS: I did vote for John Kerry.

DR. FALWELL: Now, he is pro-choice. How can you as an ordained minister--you are an ordained minister, right?

REV. WALLIS: Jerry--Jerry...

DR. FALWELL: How could you vote for some--I wouldn't vote for my mother if she were pro-choice.

REV. WALLIS: Yeah. You endorsing George Bush. That's fine. But you also called--you ordained him. You said all Christians could only vote for him. That's ridiculous. There are Christians who voted for deep reasons of faith for both candidates.
DR. FALWELL: Well, I don't think--I can't command anybody. I can only take the Bible seriously. You're certainly going to have to--Psalm 139:13-16--believe that life is sacred from conception on...

REV. WALLIS: And Jerry, there are 3,000 verses in the Bible about the poor--about the poor.

I tend to agree with Rev. Wallis. Democrats shouldn't make a drastic change and give up supporting the right of a woman to choose, but they should take the position that they to want to lower the abortion rate. To do that we need to support low-income women and help strengthen adoption, make giving birth a better option. This will show some of the moderate "values voters" that Democrats stand for more than just keeping abortion legalized. We can't allow the Republicans to continue to define the abortion issue.


Monday, November 29, 2004


I um...agree with Bill O'Reilly on something:

The ordeal of Dan Rather goes far beyond the man himself. It speaks to the presumption of guilt that now rules the day in America. Because of a ruthless and callow media, no citizen, much less one who achieves fame, is given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to allegations or personal attacks. The smearing of America is in full bloom...

Dan Rather is guilty of not being skeptical enough about a story that was politically loaded. I believe Rather, along with Andy Rooney, Walter Cronkite and other guardsmen of the old CBS News, is liberal in his thinking. That is certainly a legitimate debate - how for years CBS News has taken a rather progressive outlook. But holding a political point of view is the right of every American, and it does not entitle people to practice character assassination or deny the presumption of innocence. Dan Rather was slimed. It was disgraceful.

I think that Dan Rather is a good journalist, but became too easy of a target for the right wing attacks. The National Guard story was the clincher. No way were they going to let that pass, without Rather taking the heat. He did screw up, but he wasn't going to be allowed to get away with it. The fact that the National Guard story was basically true (but the documents were not), was forgotten, because of the ferocious attacks on Rather. He was going down. In any case, I don't think he would have lasted much longer, but I don't believe he would have wanted to retire now.



Speaking Irish is making a comeback.

"What has happened is that Irish has become cool and trendy. You could call it the yuppification of the language," said Padhraic O Ciardha, an executive at TG4, a state-sponsored Irish-language TV station that began broadcasting eight years ago...

"When I was a kid in the '60s and '70s, Irish was very uncool. When we'd go into Galway, we'd speak in a whisper. Irish was the badge of the rural, the backward, the culturally repressed part of Ireland," he said.

But as Ireland transformed itself from one of Europe's poorest countries into one of its most prosperous, as it reversed a century-long trend of population decline, and as it sought a sense of its own individuality in the age of globalization, the Irish rediscovered their language.

Over the past 20 years, the number of schools in which Irish is the language of instruction has increased tenfold, and some of the schools are far beyond the Irish-speaking enclaves on the country's periphery.

"In Dublin, it's become a kind of yuppie totem to send your kid to one," O Ciardha said.

There you have it, speaking Irish is now the yuppie thing to do, that's something I never thought i'd type.


Friday, November 26, 2004

Prophet Vs. Prophet 

New military equipment to be tested in Iraq.
The Prophet system is named for “The Prophets” Delta Company, 104th Military Intelligence Battalion, 4th Infantry Division. Nothing could represent a greater antithesis to the Prophet Mohammed and his Koran than the unit’s emblem of a star-spangled, white-bearded wizard grasping a magical cosmic ball with electronically charged hands. It will therefore be interesting to see the outcome of the first confrontation between American troops armed with their electronic Prophet and the Prophet Muhammad’s followers – a contest which will not be just military. The Americans will field the most advanced electronic intelligence and command wizardry ever devised, orchestrated from satellites and the military Internet and embodying lessons painfully learned in battling guerrillas and terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian war. Facing them will be insurgent guerrillas and Islamic terrorists armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic rifles, car bombs and explosives...

This symbolically-named tool may be fairly termed the most sophisticated piece of electronic intelligence gadgetry ever made available to ground commanders - from the division level down to brigade, battalion and platoon levels. It will serve them by collecting the graphic and other data present in a battle environment, point up the dangers lying in wait for US forces, expose and nail every enemy combat element, including hostile intelligence, and electronically attack their signals to prevent them from communicating critical data. The effect will be to silence enemy communications, as well as jamming its command, computer and electronical warfare systems.

A ground commander equipped with a Prophet will receive on his laptop a comprehensive picture of electronic emitters within a battle arena of any size up to 150km wide and 120 kilometers deep. He will have a full view of his own forces in relation to the enemy and be guided in mid-combat to openings that will give his troops the advantage.

In the course of battle, he will be able to pinpoint, collect and electronically attack emitters, however large or small, beyond the reach of conventional reconnaissance – whether small, hidden knots of Iraqi guerrillas using any kind of communications or signaling gear, including a mobile phone, gadgets for remote-control of explosive devices or bomb cars, or even an Iraqi guerilla command center operating deep inside Iran or Syria. US commanders often know where an enemy position across the Iraqi border is located. The Prophet extends their reach and arms them with the option of long-distance electronic attack.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Being Tom DeLay 

Me too:
In my next life, I want to be Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.

Yes, I want to get almost the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives to bend its ethics rules just for me. I want to be able to twist the arms of House Republicans to repeal a rule that automatically requires party leaders to step down if they are indicted on a felony charge - something a Texas prosecutor is considering doing to DeLay because of corruption allegations.

But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.

If I can't be Tom DeLay, then I want to be one of the gutless Republican House members who voted to twist the rules for DeLay out of fear that "the Hammer," as they call him, might retaliate by taking away a coveted committee position or maybe a parking place.

Finally someone "mainstream" calls out the hypocrisy of the House Republicans. I have a feeling that if it were Democrats in the majority, and they did something like this, the right wing echo chamber would be in in full force comdemning it. Nancy Pelosi has to keep this story front and center. Make this the beginning of the end of the House GOP.


Happy Thanksgiving 

To all FPN's loyal readers! Sorry for lack of posts recently, my internet has given me problems. Keep checking back for updates. Off to peel potatoes...


Monday, November 22, 2004

You Call Ukraine Weak?? 

This Exit Poll madness brought to you by Ukraine:

Ukraine was thrown into turmoil Monday by nearly-complete election results from Sunday's presidential election, which gave Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych an insurmountable three point lead but raised the threat of unrest because of angry charges by the opposition and Western observers that the vote was tainted by widespread fraud.

Tens of thousands of people flooded Independence Square in the capital Monday amid calls for a general strike or even the kind of revolution that toppled regimes in Serbia and Georgia after suspect elections.

With 99.33 percent of the vote counted, Yanukovych had 49.42 percent of the vote compared to 46.3 percent for his opponent Viktor Yushchenko, according to the Central Elections Commission. Exit polls had initially called a victory for Yushchenko by a wide margin.

Looks like other members of the "Coalition of the Willing" have voting issues as well.


Friday, November 19, 2004

NFL Picks-Week 11 

Minnesota over Detroit
Denver over New Orleans
Tampa Bay over San Francisco
Arizona over Carolina
over Tennessee
Baltimore over Dallas
St. Louis over Buffalo
Indianapolis over Chicago
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
N.Y. Jets over Cleveland
San Diego over Oakland
Seattle over Miami
Atlanta over N.Y. Giants
Philadelphia over Washington
Houston over Green Bay
New England over Kansas City (if Priest Holmes plays, I'll pick Kansas City.)


Brilliant Move 

That's why they are U2 and I'm not.
Critics suggest that the theft of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and its subsequent pre-release to the peer-to-peer sites might have been done for promotional purposes. If this is true, it is one of the first truly brilliant marketing moves to promote a big-release record in years. The RIAA, with the support of the major labels, have been fighting file downloading in all forms while ignoring the media of the internet and PTP networks as a vastly powerful marketing tool. Since the 1960’s, FM radio was a make-it-or-break-it medium for new pop music.

In the last 10 to 15 years radio groups, many of whom own hundreds or in one case over 1000 radio stations in the US, have very much lost their power to reach the young GenY, record buying public. They are better reached via email, on a cell phone or through a peer-to-peer network. Moreover, as much as the RIAA would argue the opposite, some suggest that the idea of an album getting on the Internet for illegal downloads actually boosts its overall sales. The last major artist this phenomenon of an “unauthorized pre-release on the net” happened to was Eminem and his record sold like hotcakes. Expect U2’s How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb to hit store shelves early (but not too early to be the big pop release for the 2004 holiday season) and to sell like wildfire. Most likely the record will sell better than if there was no scandal over the tracks being available on the peer-to-peer networks and the associated free advertising that comes from the story.

I just downloaded the album, and can't wait to dive into it, on my drive up to NJ tonight. I'll let you know how it is!

UPDATE (3:13PM EST): I was excited to write a review of the new U2 album, but after downloading it off Limewire on Friday, I'm embarrassed to admit I was tricked. It said I was downloading U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb", but I really downloaded some wannabe British(?) guy's new album. Brilliant move on his part. I'll try again!


Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm Sorry 



The Strange Case of Corporal Hassoun 

The case of the Marine who was dead, then not dead, lost, then found, lost again, dead again, finally found, is re-opened, after several personal items were found in Falluja.
Hassoun's civilian passport, military identification card and his military uniform were all found, sources said.

The uniform was described by those familiar with the case as being in "remarkably good shape."

Other items with Hassoun's name on them, but which the sources declined to describe, were also found. It appeared that some items of identification were altered, the sources said.


Shooting the Wounded 

Many of you have asked me what I think about the Marine shooting the wounded Iraqi. Here's my opinion:

From what I hear, on Friday the 12th, a group of Marines took wounded Iraqis to the mosque, for others to pick up and take back to get medical attention/burial. The next day, the 13th, another group of Marines came into the mosque and came across the bodies. Now this group had nothing to do with the bodies that were there, they just stumbled upon them. After checking out several bodies, they found the one alive, wounded Iraqi and shot him, as you see on the video. From what I hear, the same Marines who shot the wounded guy, lost a buddy the day before from an Iraqi, who was wounded, and had a booby trap on him. The Marines went to take care of him, and when they got close, he blew himself up.

Having that incident fresh in their minds, these Marines weren't taking a second chance. I don't blame them, a lot of bad stuff happens in war. I may have done the same thing. Was it the right thing to do? Probably not. Was it the moral thing to do? Probably not. But the chances of this guy recovering from his wounds were slim and he posed a threat. The video/picture of the incident is a part of the modern day warfare-things you never saw/heard of in the wars of yesterday, are now caught on film. Just like the beheadings, and the murder of Margaret Hassan, we should expect to see some terrible things.


Mike Scheuer 

The former head of the CIA's Bin Laden Unit goes one-on- one with Peter Jennings. Some highlights:

Jennings: Because that's where two of the holy places are located.

Scheuer: And the homeland of the prophets, sir. It's the first holiest place in Islam. With the war in Iraq, we now occupy the second holiest place in Islam. And with the Israelis holding Jerusalem, they occupy the third holiest place. So in a sense, we have managed to portray ourselves as the "invaders of Islamic sanctities."

Jennings: When we, at the media, get a tape of Osama bin Laden, we always look for the headline. I'd like to know, when you see the tape, what do you look for?

Scheuer: This is the fourth time Osama bin Laden has talked directly to the American people, saying, "It really doesn't matter if President Bush or Mr. Kerry are elected, if the policies don't change. I know you live in a democracy. I know that you elect the leader. And if you don't like his policies, you elect a new leader. And we will only take it as an act of war, if you again elect a leader, who doesn't change his policies regarding the Islamic world."

Jennings: So what can we, either collectively or in terms of government, learn from this?

Scheuer: I think one thing we can learn is that he is truly a man of his word. The single most important thing to understand the enemy we face is to review what he said since 1995, because his actions have tracked exactly with his words. If he was a politician in the United States, the Democrats or the Republicans would love him, because he stays on message. He never slips from it. He is entirely reliable in what he is going to say.

Jennings: I think you are saying that it's not an enemy that's really defeatable.

Scheuer: I think you are exactly right. The choice, at the moment, is between war and endless war. And I think we need to devise a strategy that combines the work of the intelligence services and the U.S. military with a discussion — at least a democratic discussion within the United States — about whether the policies that have been identified as "amicable to Muslims," still serve U.S. interests.

Now this is a guy that every Western government should be listening to. He's been profiling Bin Laden since the 1980's, and probably knows more about Bin Laden than anyone else. But of course, he resigned from the CIA because of the Agency's leadership. He's not too fond of Porter Goss cleaning house either.


Ex-Staffers Gone Wild 

Another reason why DeLay must go. His former staffers learned from the "best".
Campbell, who is retiring from Congress and presided over his last hearing yesterday, told Scanlon that he and Abramoff were part of "the shameful legacy" of exploitation of Indian tribes that stretches back 400 years. "You're the problem, buddy, in what happened to American Indians," said Campbell, as he banged down his gavel to close the session.

Scanlon rose from the witness table and turned to face a man who pressed through the crowd to hand him a document. It was Texas lawyer Joe Kendall, serving him with a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Louisiana Coushatta tribe that also named Abramoff and Greenberg Traurig as defendants.

Abbe Lowell, Abramoff's attorney, said in a statement about that suit that his client "provided great results for the fees that were paid" by the Coushattas and looked forward to proving it in court


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Picture of the Day 

You are all (including that guy, smirking at me) under my control...

(insert your own caption)


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


You've no doubt heard by now that Powell is out and Condi is in as Secretary of State. I'm glad to see in this Post 9-11 world we have a forward-thinking Administration who appoints someone who's specialty is....the Cold War to head our State Department. There is nobody with MIDDLE EASTERN experience that could be Secretary of State? How about Senator Lugar (R-IN)?

Condi is a part of the problem, not solution. She took part in one of (if not THE) the biggest intelligence debacles of all time, and she gets a bigger job? I guess being one of the few black female Republicans out there, Bush needs to hold on to her.

Update (4:46 PM EST): And she's a liar.



A powerful Op-Ed in the Washington Post on Rove's election treatment of gays. And also check out the author's last name, very appropriate for the issue.

Here's what Republicans of conscience have to understand about the machinations of Karl Rove and company. Fear isn't some emotion that can be easily bottled back up after it's been -- viciously -- unleashed. It isn't a once-every-four-years vehicle that can be wheeled out for a few months, then stowed back in the garage to be retooled for the next election cycle. Encouraging fundamentalist preachers to pound their pulpits and inveigh against gay people has consequences. It puts men and women in communities across this country at personal and professional risk. There's nothing more despicable than creating a phony political issue (just how many gay couples are clamoring for marriage certificates in the state of Ohio, anyhow?) and preying on people's prejudices.

So now it's up to discerning Republicans to wrestle with this quandary: You won all right, but at what cost? What happened to the party that once shared Abraham Lincoln's faith in the "better angels of our nature"? That fifth-grade teacher taught me to appreciate how -- through Lincoln's resolve -- our nation overcame a cataclysm of hate to stop the Union from dissolving. Back then, certain avatars of ignorance were called Know-Nothings, which, come to think of it, is an apt description of more than a few right-wingers today.

"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid," Lincoln wrote in the years leading up to the Civil War. "As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except Negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

There are a lot of Republicans troubled by their party's exploitation of contemporary know-nothingism. You know who you are. And before your party's degeneracy is complete, you ought to do something about it. Because camouflaging the fear and loathing of gay people as "moral values" isn't the base alloy of hypocrisy. It's hypocrisy itself.


Get Your Hands off my TIVO 

From Wired:
The Senate might vote on the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of "fair use" -- the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay.

The bill lumps together several pending copyright bills including HR4077, the Piracy Deterrence and Education Act, which would criminally punish a person who "infringes a copyright by ... offering for distribution to the public by electronic means, with reckless disregard of the risk of further infringement." Critics charge the vague language could apply to a person who uses the popular Apple iTunes music-sharing application.
The bill would also permit people to use technology to skip objectionable content -- like a gory or sexually explicit scene -- in films, a right that consumers already have. However, under the proposed law, skipping any commercials or promotional announcements would be prohibited. The proposed law also includes language from the Pirate Act (S2237), which would permit the Justice Department to file civil lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers.

H.R. 2391 here.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Prisoner Exchange 

The next Palestinian leader to be swapped?

The death of Yasser Arafat may soon open the way for a prisoner swap reminiscent of the days of the Cold War. Marwan Barghouti, the man regarded by many as Arafat's successor until his conviction by Israel on June 6 on five counts of murder, is serving a life sentence. The Israeli media is buzzing with rumors that discussions are underway between Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem for a complex three-way prisoner swap in which Barghouti would be freed in return for Israel receiving convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from the United States and convicted Druze Israeli spy Azam Azam from Egypt. According to the reports, pressure for the deal is coming primarily from the Palestinians, who maintain the popular Barghouti is the only leader capable of unifying divisive Palestinian factions, curbing militants and possibly restarting peace efforts. Under Palestinian law, elections are to be held by Jan. 9, or within 60 days of Arafat's death on Nov. 11. While Israel has not previously indicated any inclination to liberate Barghouti, pragmatism may temper the decision. Barghouti also could represent the best chance for Arafat's Fatah blunt efforts by Hamas, increasingly popular in the West Bank and Gaza, to field a candidate.

Pollard's release is more problematic for the Bush administration. A former U.S. Navy civilian intelligence analyst, Pollard was arrested in 1985 and convicted of espionage in March 1987, receiving a life sentence. Pollard himself estimated during his interrogations that the amount of material that he gave the Israelis would form a stack six feet wide, six feet long, and 10 feet high. A small but vocal segment of the Israeli public has ever since campaigned for his release. The case of Druze Israeli businessman Azzam Azzam, who was imprisoned in Egypt November 1996, is more straightforward. In 1997 Azzam was convicted on charges of spying for the United States and Israel and received a 15-year prison sentence. Israel has consistently maintained that Azzam is not an Israeli agent and has persistently raised the case of the Israeli citizen with the Egyptian government.

The Israel's have been trying to get Pollard for a long time, but because the information he provided Israel, MAY have gotten passed on to the Soviets, The United States has always refused his release. But, with Arafat's death, and the Palestinian power vacum, the release of Barghouti may be worth giving up Pollard for-if he can be a respectable Peace talk partner. If he's just another Arafat, forget it. Michael Collins should be the model, not Arafat. When Collins signed the Peace Treaty with England, he knew he was signing his death warrant, but still understood peace was worth it. Not long after signing, he paid the price.

FPN predicted something would happen with Barghouti:
My opinion on who will replace him- Marwan Barghouti. Yes, he's in jail, but that'll just build up his credibility to the militants. Pressure will be put on Israel to release him, and it will happen.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Team America: World Police 

I finally got to see Team America last night, and I can say it was the funniest movie I've seen this year. It was as crude as can be expected, but it was also on point with how Americans think. I've heard some liberals who have complained about how Michael Moore, Alec Baldwin, etc., are portrayed in this movie (they are pro-terrorist allies of Kim Jong Il),but come on, it's supposed to be over the top. Yes, Moore and company look terrible, but the rest of the movie makes fun of the "America First" crowd or hardcore hawks. You don't hear complaints from them, b/c they might not even know they are being made fun of. The creators stereotyping Americans, the most. In a scene showing the Pyramids in Egypt, the screen says "Cairo, Middle East. 5,900 miles West of America" or, "Panama Canal, Latin America. 2,000 miles South of the real America".

The opening scene is great: 4 terrorists are spotted in Paris, so "Team America" arrives to take t hem out. After a brief battle where the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de'Triomphe are destroyed, leaving Parisians upset, "Team America" responds: "Don't worry, the terrorists are dead, we saved you!" Brilliant. The movie probably could have been a few minutes shorter, but it didn't really drag too much. I recommend seeing "Team America: World Police" for the laughs, but prepare to be offended.


NFL Picks 

My Week 10 picks (On Tuesday, I'll check my wins and losses, and total them up. It isn't pretty)

N.Y. Jets over Baltimore (I'm going to the game)
Detroit over Jacksonville
Kansas City over New Orleans
Seattle over St. Louis
Cincinnati over Washington
Green Bay over Minnesota
New England over Buffalo
Chicago over Tennessee
Indianapolis over Houston
Pittsburgh over Cleveland
Atlanta over Tampa Bay
San Francisco over Carolina
Arizona over N.Y. Giants
Philadelphia(!!) over Dallas


Friday, November 12, 2004


Hypocrisy at its best. From Atrios:

I just heard a report on NPR about a group of Chinese Muslims who have been in Guantanamo. We've decided that they're no longer a threat. The Chinese government wants us to hand them over so they can try them on terrorism charges.

We don't want to hand them over because... yes, you know it's coming...

The Chinese government may torture them.


Anonymous No More 

Here's a guest on the Daily Show that I'd like to see. I figure the "other" news organizations would be too busy covering Donald Trump or an Olympic swimmer's DUI arrest, to take the time to cover someone of real importance.

Michael Scheuer, the author and former chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit, announced yesterday that he had resigned from the agency so he could speak openly about terrorism and what he sees as the government's failure to understand the threat from al Qaeda.

"I have concluded that there has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the force he leads and inspires, and the nature of the intelligence reform needed to address that threat," Scheuer, whom the CIA banned from speaking publicly in July, said in a statement issued by his publisher.

Update (4:00 PM EST): Bin Laden now has "religious approval" to use a Nuclear device on the U.S. I guess God is both speaking to him, and the Republican Party.

Even if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, he probably wouldn't have used it for a lack of proper religious authority - authority he has now. "[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik...a rather long treatise on the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Americans," says Scheuer. "[The treatise] found that he was perfectly within his rights to use them. Muslims argue that the United States is responsible for millions of dead Muslims around the world, so reciprocity would mean you could kill millions of Americans," Scheuer tells Kroft.

Scheuer says bin Laden was criticized by some Muslims for the 9/11 attack because he killed so many people without enough warning and before offering to help convert them to Islam. But now bin Laden has addressed the American people and given fair warning. "They're intention is to end the war as soon as they can and to ratchet up the pain for the Americans until we get out of their region....If they acquire the weapon, they will use it, whether it's chemical, biological or some sort of nuclear weapon," says Scheuer.


Bordering on War 

More good news from the Iran-Iraq border.

Islamic extremists have been moving supplies and new recruits from Iran into Iraq, say Iraqi Kurdish and Western officials, though it's unclear whether Tehran is covertly backing them or whether militants are simply taking advantage of the porous border...

Iranian involvement with extremist groups in the Iraqi insurgency would be potentially explosive, especially given the history of U.S.-Iranian animosity. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said recently Iran was engaged in "a lot of meddling" in Iraq but gave no details...

Kurds living in mountainous villages near the border who have traveled inside Iran to visit relatives said they have seen Arabs living in what appeared to be safe houses in the Iranian border town of Mariwan.

Former Ansar prisoners held by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan - one of two Kurdish militias that control the north - have backed up the claim as have PUK intelligence officials.

A U.S. official said Kurdish security forces found passports from Arab countries including Yemen, Egypt and Saudi Arabia buried under the dirt floor in one safe house on the Iranian side of the border.

"We are not just talking about Iranians passively dealing with al-Qaida," one former U.S. official who worked in Iraq said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are talking about al-Qaida at Revolutionary Guard bases and safe houses. This is active assistance."

The Turkish border says "Don't forget about me!"


Night of Power 


Thursday night, forces braced for a significant counteroffensive by Iraqi insurgents - an effort coinciding with the "Night of Power," an annual Islamic holy day marked by intense spiritual devotion, which is said to cleanse sins and determine destiny.

Loudspeakers from at least one mosque began what US Marine officers said was a "revving up" of militants by chants that resembled the "martyr's last rites."

"We expect an increase of suicide attacks, by cars, motorcycles, and people wearing explosive vests," said Lt. Col. Michael Ramos, commander of the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines, from Dallas.

"It's going to get a lot worse tonight," Capt. Gil Juarez, commander of the Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) company told his platoon chiefs, as marines loaded their vehicles at dusk with extra ammunition

That reminds me of a book (can't remember its name right now) I read about the Soviet-Afghan War, written by a Russian reporter, who said the Soviets ruled Kabul all day, but once night fell, the mosques loudspeakers would call for attacks, and otherwise just taunt the Soviets, putting the fear of god into them.

On another note, if that is what is coming from the mosques, wouldn't that make the mosques a military target? We're also finding weapons in every mosque that's been raided.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Picture of the Day 

(look closely)


Mission Accomplished 

"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved" - Former(!!) Attorney General John Ashcroft in his 5-page resignation letter .

Now we all can get back to our normal lives.


Supreme Court 

With Gonzales in as Attorney General, does that take him off the list as the next Supreme Court nominee?
President Bush has chosen White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, a Texas confidant and one of the most prominent Hispanics in the administration, to succeed Attorney General John Ashcroft, sources close to the White House said Wednesday.

He's no liberal, but he may be the least worst person Bush could nominate. Could possibly turn into a Souter down the road, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I imagine statues across DC will soon be having a "Statues-Gone-Wild" moment.



I don't like to pretend I know a whole lot about military matters, but what is going on here?
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Wednesday, Nov. 10 - Insurgent leaders in Falluja probably fled before the American-led offensive and may be coordinating attacks in Iraq that have left scores dead over the past few days, according to American military officials here. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is the most wanted man in Iraq, has almost certainly fled, military officials believe. Americans say his group is responsible for attacks, kidnappings and beheadings that have killed hundreds in more than a year. Before the offensive began, some military officials said Mr. Zarqawi could be operating out of Falluja, but his precise whereabouts have not been known. "I personally believe some of the senior leaders probably have fled," Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, said in a video conference with reporters on Tuesday. "I would hope not, but I've got to assume that those kinds of leaders understand the combat power we can bring."

I know it can be hard to find one specific person(or 2) in a heavily populated area, but that's our job over there-get Zarqawi and other insurgent leaders, before they do more damage. I've read reports leading up to the current battle in Fallujah, which said that many or most of the insurgents have fled Fallujah, to fight elsewhere. How can we let that happen? Wasn't the city surrounded, if not, why not? So now we're attacking Fallujah (which I know we have to do), and are killing many bad guys, but once again the big fish have fled. It's a viscous circle-clean Fallujah up, go fight in another city, causing the insurgents there to go back to Fallujah, only to force us to fight there again, which will then lead to more civilians getting killed in the crossfire, which will then create more insurgents. Great.

Update (12:42PM EST):
Well, perhaps 50% stuck around.

Khalid said insurgent leaders had debated how many men to leave in the city. "They discussed percentages like 20 per cent inside the city and 80 per cent outside - to save as many fighters as possible for future operations," he said.

"In the end they settled on a 50-50 split. We told the fighters that those who want to stay alive and fight should leave, and those who want to become martyrs in this battle should stay."


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

How the... 

Siva Vaidhyanathan, contributing over at Altercation, makes a great point:

Looking back over the past six months, one thing continues to amaze me: Bush ran as if he were the challenger and Kerry were the incumbent. It was Kerry's Vietnam record that got twisted so tight that my doctor could not tell what was true and what was not. It was Kerry's "liberal" Senate record that became questionable, troublesome. It was Kerry's statements about the war that generated angst on the talk shows, not Bush's (even though he clearly said he could not win the War on Terror, the statement quickly lost its currency as attacks on Kerry mounted). No one seemed too interested in the fact that Bush had a horrible record in every area of policy. No one seemed to care that Bush failed to live up to the promises that got him appointed in the first place. Bush's acceptance speech at the convention did not seem to acknowledge that he had in fact been president for four years and had not really moved on major (i.e. "compassionate") elements of his agenda in all that time. Kerry tried but failed to turn the focus around to Bush's record. Bush's failures were old news. So they were no news.

The Daily Mirror agrees.


Tank Commander 

From the BBC .

Earlier, a US tank commander said guerrillas were putting up a strong fight in the north-western Jolan district.

"These people are hardcore," Capt Robert Bodisch told Reuters news agency.

"A man pulled out from behind a wall and fired an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) at my tank. I have to get another tank to go back in there."

Wow. Now that's a tough guy.


Monday, November 08, 2004


Bush wins a relatively close election, and suddenly this country can't handle "Alfie"?

Paramount's "Alfie," a remake of a romantic comedy about a roguish womanizer starring Jude Law, opened to a dismal $6.5 million in more than 2,000 theaters, far below expectations. The tepid response was the latest blow to Sherry Lansing, the chairwoman of Paramount who last week announced her plans to leave the job when her contract expires in 2005, and whose movies have performed poorly this summer and fall.

Wayne Llewellyn, the president of distribution at Paramount, said that the conservative ethos reflected in last week's election results might have hurt the film.

"It could be the mood of the country right now," he said. "It seems to be the result of the election. Maybe they didn't want to see a guy that slept around."

If that's the case, will a Leave it to Beaver movie be a blockbuster? The media is really running with the "moral values" mantra.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bayh for President 

I know it may be a little soon, but earlier I had mentioned I liked Evan Bayh as a possible Presidential candidate in 2008. Well, apparently he may be thinking that too. I can't tell if it's real or not, but he seems to have a Friendster account, and he's reaching out for help, his message is:
I am trying to organize for the 2008 campaign!

In the section titled "About Me", Bayh says:
I believe the Democratic Party has to be more representative and that a prospective Presidential Candidate should run from the center - and be from the center of the country, like Indiana. I have repeatedly won Statewide election in the traditionally Republican State of Indiana. My wife, Susan, and I have twin sons who were born in 1995

In the section titled "Who I want to meet", he says:
People who are willing to listen to what I have to say - and who want to move the country back to the center/left. People who are willing to move forward and be constructive with their anger and outrage! People who would like to see a Republican stronghold in play for the first time in generations.

There are photos as well, two with Bayh speaking, one with his family, and one with everyone's favorite Republican Senator.......John McCain!

It looks like someone's gearing up for a campaign, but is Bayh taking Howard Dean's internet campaign thing a bit too seriously? Friendster?


Tucker Carlson 

Sources tell me Tucker Carlson is to leave CNN's Crossfire in Mid-November. Carlson will continue his PBS show, writing, and wearing a bow-tie. No word on his replacement, or if Crossfire will continue. Jon Stewart 1 Crossfire 0.


Friday, November 05, 2004

NFL Picks 

Arizona over Miami
Philadelphia over Pittsburgh
Kansas City over Tampa
Carolina over Oakland
NY Jets over Buffalo
Cincinnati over Dallas
Detroit over Washington
Seattle over San Francisco
NY Giants over Chicago
Denver over Houston
St. Louis over New England (look for Bulger to have a big game)
Baltimore over Cleveland
Indianapolis over Minnesota (Going to be a shootout of epic proportions)


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Flightsuit Boy 

Taking revenge on a "Blue" State for not voting for him?

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, N.J. (AP) - A National Guard F-16 fighter jet on a nighttime training mission strafed an elementary school with 25 rounds of ammunition, authorities said Thursday. No one was injured...

The pilot of the single-seat jet was supposed to fire at a target on the ground three and half miles away from school, said Col. Brian Webster, commander of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard. He does not know what happened that led to the school getting shot up.

Update (1:50 PM EST): Sarcasm.


Arafat Just Died 

Now opening: Pandora's Box.

Update (12:27 PM EST): My opinion on who will replace him- Marwan Barghouti. Yes, he's in jail, but that'll just build up his credibility to the militants. Pressure will be put on Israel to release him, and it will happen.

Update (10:21 PM EST):Yes, there are conflicting reports on whether Arafat is "dead" or "brain dead" or "napping", but I stick to my sources. He's dead.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

9-11 Vote 

All the States that were directly involved in the 9-11 atrocities voted for Kerry-New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine(some hijackers took a flight from Maine to Boston), California (destination of planes) and Massachusetts. Obviously, these are Dem states, but none felt better protected by Bush in the "Post 9-11 world" to vote for Bush.


New Faces 

With the sad loss of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle last night, and the retirement of Rep. Dick Gephardt, it marks the end of an era (I know Pelosi is House Leader, but Gephardt still has the face of the Dems). We can all have a toast to them, but in the long run, a new face is what the Democratic Party. We should no longer have a Senate leader who is from a conservative state. It's just bad politics. We can't have someone who during an election year, suddenly votes like he/she is a Republican. The next leader MUST be from a Blue State. I agree with Kos, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin should be the next Senate Leader.

In the House, Pelosi needs more time. I think the jury is still out on her leadership, but keeping Dems of all backgrounds in line is a tough job. However, the retirement of Gephardt is a good thing. I've had the chance to meet Gephardt, and he's a great guy, but his dry demeanor and stale face will not attract anyone to the Party. Give Harold Ford (TN) a bigger role. He's smart, popular and an attractive face for the Democratic Party in the South. We need to take advantage of him more. Likewise Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois. He's only served one term, and yet he's a major influence.

Terry McAuliffe was brought in (or should I say installed?) by president Clinton to lead the DNC because of his fundraising prowess. In that standpoint he was amazing-I heard the Democrats raised something like $350 million across the board. Granted, a lot of that was the "internet/Dean" money that poured in, but McAuliffe can take some credit. However, it's time for him to go as well. Since 2000, the Democrats have done nothing but lose. If this were a baseball team, and McAuliffe was manager, he'd be fired. We can't continue to be run by people who lose. A winning mentality produces winning. For the DNC job, people have mentioned Howard Dean, I like it. I'm not the biggest fan of Dean's campaign, but at the moment, I think it's what we need-a blunt talker who is willing to try different things, and appeal to all types of people. We can't continue to write off the South, in hopes of winning the Mid-West. We should give the other side no ground. These kinds of electoral changes don't happen over night, and I don't thin we should nominate a Southerner just to keep them happy, but we need to start working on it. A simplified message is key.

Kerry hasn't officially conceded yet, and the "I voted" stickers are still attached to some t-shirts, but we need to get started looking for our next candidate. Who will it be? Governor Ed Rendell, a blunt talking sports fan, who was "America's Mayor" before Guiliani? Senator Bayh of Indiana, who could appeal to the so-called Mid-West values?

I don't have all the answers, but there's a few suggestions where we can start to get us back on track.


Keep Fighting 

Barring nothing short of a provisional ballot miracle (which I don't believe will happen), it appears George W. Bush will remain our President for the next 4 years. Yes, that's hard to swallow right now, but we have to deal with it, but continue the fight. It'd be easy to thrown in the towel and say "it doesn't matter anymore", and lose interest, but that would be defeatist, and guarantee that the GOP stays in power even longer. The reason they win now is because they constantly suffered defeat, knew what it was like to lose, but never gave up. We need to do that now.

Understandably, we'll need a few days to fully realize what happened on 11/2, but we can't lose all hope. I have never seen so much excitement and energy regarding an Election, it practically brought me to tears (But because of my being a manly-man, I didn't cry). We need to keep that feeling. If it was your first time voting, stay involved, if you hosted meet & greets for candidates, don't be shy about doing it in the future, keep making the extra phone call that might make a difference. Just keep doing something.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Early Exit Polls 

From my friend who works for a Democratic Polling firm in DC:

Update (4:45 PM EST):

HI+10 (so much for Cheney's late night visit)
Colorado-7 (but closing)

Update (4:55 PM EST): WOW

FL: 52/48 - KERRY
OH: 52/47 - KERRY
MI: 51/48 - KERRY
PA: 58/42 - KERRY
IA: 50/48 - KERRY
WI: 53/47 - KERRY
MN: 57/42 - KERRY
NH: 58/41 - KERRY
ME: 55/44 - KERRY

NM: 49/49 - TIE

NV: 48/49 - BUSH
CO: 49/50 - BUSH
AR: 45/54 - BUSH
NC: 47/53 - BUSH

Update (6:00 PM EST):

CO-2 (!!)

*Keep checking back for updates.
** Don't forget, Democrats usually tend to be late voters.
*** Headed out to the Arlington Drafthouse-Need beer, very nervous.
****Exit Poll numbers received from Lake Snell Perry.


Vote '04 

Well today is the day we've all been waiting for since 2000. The disappointment of that loss should still be fresh in our minds. I plan to vote around noon, but from what I've seen and heard, lines at polling places stretch around the block. I think it's a good sign. It's great hearing that this could be the largest turnout ever-that should be the case every year, but personally, I think these lines mean the end for Bush. Especially from some of the things I've heard from Iowa and Florida. I'm still cautiously optimistic, but starting to feel much better. Kerry will win with relative ease.


Bin Laden Tape 

More from last week's Bin Laden tape. It's funny how this new information was left out of Friday/Saturday's news and transcripts. Was Bush afriad it was true?
The thinkers and perceptive ones from among the Americans warned Bush before the war" about the dangers of invading Iraq, bin Laden said on the tape, according to a U.S. government transcript released yesterday. "But the darkness of the black gold [oil] blurred his vision. . . . The war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threatened his future...

"All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration," bin Laden said. "All that we have to do is to send two mujaheddin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses, without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."


Monday, November 01, 2004

Zarqawi Overrated? 

Jordan thinks so:
analysts, as well as some Western diplomats, say Zarqawi's group is just one of many jihadist factions that attract fighters from Iraq and across the Arab world -- and that Zarqawi's capability and ties to Osama bin Laden have been exaggerated.

They say American counter-terrorism officials are ignoring a wide array of fundamentalist groups at work in Iraq and surrounding countries in their effort to portray all terrorist activity in Iraq as the handiwork of a single mastermind.

''The bottom line is that America needs to create a serious public enemy who is not Iraqi so they can claim Iraqis aren't responsible for the resistance," said Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political analyst who regularly meets with Iraqi government leaders as well as opposition militants.

A Western diplomat familiar with evidence against Zarqawi said the US government often paints terrorist activity in Iraq and Jordan with a broad brush, attributing the activities of a disparate array of terror groups and individual operatives to the ''Zarqawi network."


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