Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Now the lazy MSM will call it a "bipartisan" investigation
New evidence is emerging that the top Democrat on the Senate committee currently investigating Jack Abramoff got political money arranged by the lobbyist back in 2002 shortly after the lawmaker took action favorable to Abramoff's tribal clients.

A lawyer for the Louisiana Coushatta Indians told The Associated Press that Abramoff instructed the tribe to send $5,000 to Sen. Byron Dorgan's political group just three weeks after the North Dakota Democrat urged fellow senators to fund a tribal school program Abramoff's clients wanted to use


Monday, November 28, 2005

2006 Election 

Year of the Iraq War Vet? I'm glad Rahm Emanuel is in charge:
Duckworth is part of a new breed of macho Democrats, joining eight Iraq veterans who have already announced themselves as candidates in next year's congressional elections. (The party is also reaching out to veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Vietnam, as well as former CIA officers and FBI agents.) These Democrats don't offer a unified strategy on how to leave Iraq. But they represent the most visible sign of the sea change in politics over the past year. The GOP has long held an advantage on questions of national security, but that lead has steadily eroded, offering Democrats a rare opening since 9/11. Recent polls show Democrats running neck and neck with Republicans on terrorism and comfortably ahead on Iraq. For all the lack of alternatives, Democrats have gained ground as public opinion has turned against the war. With relatively few competitive seats across the country, as well as a bigger campaign war chest, the GOP is still favored to retain control of the House. But Democrats believe they have found candidates who personify what voters want: real Americans (not politicians) who represent community, service and, of course, security. The vets also represent the Democrats' best hope of burying their GOP-crafted caricature as the Mommy party of John Kerry—unable to defend the country from terrorists or themselves from political attack. "A macho Democrat is someone who isn't afraid to stand up for what they believe in, to tell their story, to fight back when they're unfairly attacked," says John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
I'm sure the GOP is gassing up the Swift Boats already...


"Trusted Lieutenant" 

Check out The Cunning Realist's running count of the many Zarqawi "2nd in Command's" that are caught. This time it's Zarqawi's "Executive Secretary" who was killed (Note: did the dead man find the job posting on Craigslist?)
When our military punches out a constant stream of breathless ham-handed missives about "trusted lieutenants" and "executive secretaries" while our casualties mount and conditions on the ground deteriorate, what does that say about the gap between reality and spin, and what does it imply for our ultimate success or failure in Iraq? And when a Thesaurus determines the content of a short press release about a single individual no one's ever heard of, what does that betray about the military's own confidence in how things are going?


Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Death before being dishonored any more" 

Read this sad story.
"I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.

"Death before being dishonored any more."


Monday, November 21, 2005


Not super, but better than I expected.


Friday, November 18, 2005

Air Jordan 

Zarqawi today:
Al-Zarqawi insisted that the striking of the wedding party at the Radisson SAS hotel was a "lie" and a "forgery" by Jordanian security officials.

The Radisson bomber struck a hall where Israeli intelligence officials were meeting at the time, al-Zarqawi claimed. But part of the roof fell in on the wedding hall, either from the blast or even — he said — from a separate bomb placed in the roof, though not by al-Qaida.

"We didn't target them. Our target was halls being used by Zionist intelligence who were meeting there at the time," he said. "Our brothers knew their targets with great precision."

"God knows we chose these hotels only after more than two months of close observation (that proved) that these hotels had become headquarters for the Israeli and American intelligence," he said.

Al-Zarqawi accused the Jordanian government of hiding casualties among Israeli agents. "I defy the renegade government to show us the losses among the Jews," he said.

FPN on Tuesday (Via Debka):
The Radisson was selected, according to our sources, because a Palestinian wedding party there was the opportunity for a mass-casualty strike on similar lines to the Passover Seder massacre of 17 Israelis at Netanya’s Park Hotel in March 2002. The attack on the Grand Hyatt struck the lobby where a group of senior Palestinian, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence officers were communing secretly and wiped out the entire group. Riyadh and Amman have not identified their officers. The Palestinians were Maj-General Bashir Nafeh, head of Palestinian military intelligence on the West Bank and Abed A-Lon a senior facilitator between the PA and Western intelligence. Palestinians were also hit at the Days Inn hotel.
If this is true, who's feeding Zarqawi the intelligence?


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Words to Live By 

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.

Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn't matter if you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better be running.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Musharraf's Katrina:
Musharraf seized power in a coup, six years ago, and at the time he described the Army as the “last institution of stability left in Pakistan”—the only body disciplined enough to fix the country’s ills. Since then, he has expanded the military’s influence in national life, yet, when the earthquake hit, the Army appeared neither efficient nor consumed by any sense of urgency. The Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, a coalition of opposition parties, demanded an official investigation into what its spokesman called “the failure of the Army high command.” The United Nations warned that thousands of earthquake survivors could die from exposure if relief did not reach them before winter, yet, ten days after the earthquake struck, Musharraf’s government signed a billion-dollar contract for Swedish military surveillance aircraft, a bewildering priority. The Friday Times, one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers, suggested in a front-page editorial that Musharraf’s insistence on heavy defense spending might explain the slow pace of donations to the U.N. for earthquake relief: “If you were a Westerner asked to provide humanitarian financial assistance to a country led by a military government obsessed with the regional ‘military balance,’ what would you think?” A week later, Musharraf announced that he would postpone buying American-made F-16 fighter jets, at least until the financial pressures of earthquake relief had eased.

At a news conference, he dismissed criticism of his government’s performance as irresponsible harping by media skeptics and discredited politicians. “Panic and alarm in the face of a calamity are signs of weakness and defeat—let’s come out of that,” he said. He vowed to “prove the cynics wrong” by rallying the troops and attracting support from Western military allies. Adding to his difficulties was the fact that many of the hardest-hit villages were in Kashmir, whose land and people are at the center of Pakistan’s most emotional national cause—the fifty-eight-year conflict with India over its political destiny. He said that the Army was moving into Kashmir, and that aid would reach the region’s stranded victims by winter. The Army’s sluggish reaction may be explained, in part, by its own heavy losses in the area where the quake hit. According to an Army spokesman, four hundred and fifty officers and soldiers died on the first day, and seven hundred and eleven were injured. To judge by the damage I saw in Army camps in Kashmir, the actual toll may be higher; scores of Army wives and children also perished as cantonments and schools collapsed.

And sometimes disaster relief creates strange bedfellows:
Musharraf has said that as long as the jihadi groups concentrate on peaceful social work, he is prepared to tolerate them; at the same time, he says that he intends to keep a close watch on them. The earthquake-relief effort in Muzaffarabad has made plain Musharraf’s dilemma, and has drawn together the two sides of his ungainly balancing act: his coöperation with the United States in fighting terrorism and his attempt to appease, or at least manage, Pakistani groups that the United States has identified as terrorists. Less than a mile from the main Jamaat ud-Dawa camp in the Azad Kashmir capital, the U.S. Army has erected a field hospital. American Humvees on break from chasing remnant Al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan were sharing Muzaffarabad’s streets with ambulances from the Al Rashid Trust, a Pakistani charity whose funds were blocked by the Bush Administration in 2001 because of accusations that it aided Al Qaeda. Musharraf’s political position has been perilous ever since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when he supported the United States; members of one group that Musharraf has singled out, Jaish e-Mohammed, attempted to assassinate him in December, 2003. The success of jihadi groups in providing earthquake relief have only strengthened their claims to legitimacy in Pakistan.

At Musharraf’s invitation, soldiers and relief workers from European and NATO countries have also come to Azad Kashmir. Two months earlier, the region was a closed security zone, to which foreigners typically could not travel without an escort and a special permit. Now small crowds of local men gathered to watch with apparent admiration as female European soldiers shopped in their food stalls. Pakistan has unsuccessfully sought to turn the conflict into an international matter, with the United States and European powers directly involved, and helping to push for a settlement; at least temporarily, the outside world, thanks to the earthquake, has finally come to Kashmir.


Important Question 

Anyone looking into this?
I've obviously missed something. When did it become appropriate for the Commander-in-Chief to go onto a military installation before a military crowd and denounce the opposition party? I cannot remember a time in my 21-year career when anything remotely like this happened. Is it just me or are we embarked on something very dark and dangerous for our democracy?
That same question dawned on me as I saw the "highlights" of the speech. Since 9/11, Bush has pretty much made every major speech at a military base, or at least, in front of a military backdrop. I can see why he'd want that-they're a captive audience-they have to support their Commander-in-Chief. However, if no other President has made a partisan speech at a military base, is it because it's bad form, or illegal?


Jordan Bomb Motive? 

On top of killing innocent people. From Debka:
This is coming out in Jordan’s advancing probe of the bombing attacks on three Amman hotels last Wednesday. The inquiry received a huge boost with the capture of the failed woman bomber.

Altogether 27 Palestinians were reported killed out of the 57, 17 from the same West Bank village of Silet al-Daher east of Tulkarm.

The Radisson was selected, according to our sources, because a Palestinian wedding party there was the opportunity for a mass-casualty strike on similar lines to the Passover Seder massacre of 17 Israelis at Netanya’s Park Hotel in March 2002. The attack on the Grand Hyatt struck the lobby where a group of senior Palestinian, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence officers were communing secretly and wiped out the entire group. Riyadh and Amman have not identified their officers. The Palestinians were Maj-General Bashir Nafeh, head of Palestinian military intelligence on the West Bank and Abed A-Lon a senior facilitator between the PA and Western intelligence. Palestinians were also hit at the Days Inn hotel.

The arrest of Sajid Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, whose confession to being the fourth bomber was aired by Jordanian TV Sunday night, presents the Jordanian inquiry with a chance to find out how the clandestine intelligence meeting reached al Qaeda’s ears.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Arrested Development 

Time for HBO to step in? (Please??)
Fox has cut back its episode order on one of TV's most critically praised shows to just 13 segs, down from 22. SkeinSkein, from 20th Century Fox TV and creator Mitch Hurwitz, has also been pulled from the schedule for the rest of the month, another sign that the network may have finally given up on trying to bring an audience to the show.


New School 

Afghanistan is soo 1990's:
Afghanistan used to be the place to go for terrorist training, funding and real-world experience in battle. Not anymore. Iraq has become, in President George W. Bush's words, "the central front" in the war on terror. And compared with distant Afghanistan, Iraq has more fighting, more people, more money and a far better strategic position in the heart of the Middle East. If Afghanistan under the Taliban was a backwoods school for terrorism, Iraq is an urban university. "Bin Laden and Zawahiri remain in the leadership's safe haven in Afghanistan," says a senior Taliban official who uses the nom de guerre Abu Zabihullah. "But Iraq is where the fierce encounters take place, where we recruit and dispatch fighters and where jihad's spirit thrives."


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Sorry for the lack of posts-It's been a hectic week. Should be a lot better tomorrow.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Record Book on Roids 

Is Bud Selig considering rewriting the record books to exclude steroid users?
"The whole record thing is on table -- after we get this cleaned up, we can look at that," said Selig, who continues to lobby the players union for a stricter steroid-testing program - and emphasized again that he will support Congressional legislation in lieu of an agreement with the players. "I'm not saying we will do anything because there doesn't seem to be a practical way of doing anything about it."
Sounds like he's considering it. I'm all for it. At the very least, put an * next to Bonds, Palmeiro, McGwire, Canseco, Sosa, etc's. name.


Monday, November 07, 2005

(Not So) Imminent Threat 

I hate when elections get in the way of an invasion:
The former ambassador says a delay from March to autumn 2003 could have made a significant difference: "Even if the most optimistic predictions are finally realised for Iraq, the question will still be asked: why did the Americans and British make it so hard for themselves and even harder for Iraqis? The US and the UK would have stood a better chance of going to war in good order, and of doing the aftermath right, had they planned on an autumn, not a spring, campaign."

He reveals that Karl Rove, the political adviser to the president, told him there would have been no problem for Mr Bush in waiting until the end of 2003 or even early 2004 and this would not have risked entanglement in the US presidential campaign.blockquote>


Friday, November 04, 2005

Feel Good Friday 

A "Peaceful Mountain" moves.
The National Zoo's baby giant panda has taken his first steps and the zoo released video of the milestone.

Tai Shan, whose name means "peaceful mountain," is almost 4-months-old, weighs 15.5 pounds and measures 27.1 inches from head to tail.

Mother Mei Xiang and father Tian Tian are on loan from China. The National Zoo will rear the panda until he is 2, when he'll be sent to China.

Outsiders will get their first peek at Tai Shan next week.

The zoo began distributing 600 timed-entry tickets at 9 a.m. Tuesday to members of its booster organization, Friends of the National Zoo. They were all taken by 1 p.m., a spokesman for the organization told The Washington Post.

Ticket holders will get to see the panda cub on 11 dates, starting Monday and running through early December. The zoo was to make tickets for an additional three days of viewing available to FONZ members on the Web site starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The organization has about 80,000 members.

Tai Shan is expected to make his official public debut in early December, though no date has been set. The zoo hopes to start issuing free timed-entry tickets this month, on its Web site, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Officials believe the FONZ membership viewing will help the cub, his mother, and zoo staff get used to having crowds parade through the Panda House, which has been closed since the cub's birth.

The zoo last month began letting small groups of employees, donors and VIPs view the cub for brief periods.


Future of Al Qaeda? 

According to the Asia Times, Al Qaeda is having an internal struggle.
Many among Islamic groups, scholars and educated masses in the Islamic world are sympathetic with al-Qaeda's struggle against US imperialism, but they have serious reservations over its shadowy nature and its methods of operation, many of which, they believe, go against the tenets of Islam.

From the days of the Prophet Mohammed it has been established that neither the message of Islam nor its struggle is a secret. Therefore, Muslim scholars are agreed that an Islamic state is a prerequisite before - and from which - jihad can be waged.

This places al-Qaeda in something of a spot, as nowadays it has no "home base" from which to wage jihad. In discussions in the past several months with prominent scholars and a top leader of an Islamic group (followed by Asia Times Online contacts), al-Qaeda leaders argued that they were fighting a defensive jihad as Afghanistan had been attacked and occupied, followed by Iraq. Since they don't have a piece of land in their possession, al-Qaeda has had to conduct irregular and guerrilla warfare.

However, the contacts maintain that the al-Qaeda leadership is optimistic that by the start of summer next year they will be in control of significant "space" in Iraq and in Afghanistan, which would legitimize their jihad in the eyes of scholars.

This would include appointing an ameer (commander) whose name would be announced, and al-Qaeda's irregular fighting would be organized under one command. The existing setup of small, virtually independent cells would be subsumed under the single command, and no one would operate on their own, as has been the trend since al-Qaeda lost their base in Afghanistan following the ouster of the Taliban in late 2001, and the intense pressure of the US-led "war on terror", which saw many communication and financial links severed.

The cells would fall under single commands in Iraq and Afghanistan, from where they would be directed for external operations, such as launching attacks on the US.

If al-Qaeda prevails over its internal conflicts and adopts the strategy as outlined above, it would be a major turning point not only for the organization, but for the whole of the Muslim world and beyond.

Dawa (Islamic message), hijra (evolution from an enemy state into an Islamic state) and jihad are the three stages based on the life of the Prophet Mohammed to bring about revolution in society.

In essence, al-Qaeda, which means means "the base" in Arabic, is in search of a physical base, like the mujahideen had during the Soviet resistance period in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when they grabbed all rural Afghanistan, or like the one al-Qaeda had two years ago when it moved into the Shawal and Shakai areas near South and North Waziristan on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, before being driven out by combined US and Pakistan efforts.

Once new bases are found - al-Qaeda confidently believes this will be done in Iraq and Afghanistan - the process of dawa, hijra and jihad will begin, and many presently peripheral Islamic groups across the world will pour into these two countries for a reinvigorated campaign against US forces.



The fact that rioting in France could be "well organized", is terrible news. Those that are rioting tend to be poor immigrants who have not assimilated well in France, or with French culture. Exactly the type that are ripe for the plucking by Al Qaeda, or other Jihadist groups. It gets worse: there are now Muslim-led riots in Denmark:
Not that well covered is a very similar series of riots, also running for four days, in Århus, Denmark. Nothing of it has penetrated to theEnglishh-language sections of Danish media, so the following is my translation of a piece in daily Jyllands-Posten:

Rosenhøj Mall has several nights in a row been the scene of the worst riots in Århus for years. "This area belongs to us", the youths proclaim. Sunday evening saw a new arson attack.

Their words sound like a clear declaration of war on the Danish society. Police must stay out. The area belongs to immigrants.

Four youths sit on the wall in Rosenhøj Mall sunday afternoon, calling themselves spokesmen for the groups, that three nights in a row have ravaged and tried to burn down the restaurant and other stores.

Around the parking lot, cars with youngsters from the immigrant community are swarming, and many are walking around, greeting each others with a sense of victory after the worst riots in Århus in years.

Every night 3youthsyouts took part, especially immigrants.

Only two were arrested.

That was a victory.

"We knew, you would be coming. We are spokesmen", said a young man with a black knitted hood on his head, when JP (Jyllands-Posten - Henrik) visited RosenhøjSundaysunday. He was angry. Very angry. Behind him the pub Hot Shot has scars after the attacks with cobble stones, and the stores along the parking lot besides the small mall have their windows covered with adhesive tape in a spiderweb pattern.
Could Al Qaeda be behind these riots, or is it "just" a local matter? Al Qaeda's plan in the aftermath of 9/11 was to get Muslims to rise up against their own governments, and then the West. Is that what we're seeing happening? The riots in France will definitely serve as a wake up call to the French people. They will now see that something needs to be done to help the immigrants fit it. Will it be too late?

Update (12:47 PM EST): It gets worse:
A reporter who spent last weekend in Clichy and its neighboring towns of Bondy, Aulnay-sous-Bois and Bobigny heard a single overarching message: The French authorities should keep out.

"All we demand is to be left alone," said Mouloud Dahmani, one of the local "emirs" engaged in negotiations to persuade the French to withdraw the police and allow a committee of sheiks, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

President Jacques Chirac and Premier de Villepin are especially sore because they had believed that their opposition to the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 would give France a heroic image in the Muslim community.
Now, they don't even want to be a part of France.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

No Raise for Pa. Legislators 

Commons sense, and public pressure prevailed:
HARRISBURG - They finally got the message.

After four months of angry letters, biting editorials, protests, and dismal poll numbers, Pennsylvania legislators voted last night to repeal the pay raise they had approved for themselves, judges, and other state officials.

In an extraordinary reversal, the Senate unanimously decided to tear up the entire law, enacted July 7, that made the General Assembly the nation's second-highest-paid legislature.

"We need to repent, repeal and reform," Sen. Jim Ferlo (D., Allegheny) said during a short floor debate.

"Today's vote is about respecting the public," said Sen. Richard Kasunic (D., Westmoreland). "... Democracy has worked."

Hours later, shortly before 11 p.m., the House followed suit, approving the bill 196-2.

"Pressure mounted in individual lawmakers' districts and they had to listen to the public," Rep. Charles T. McIlhinney Jr. (R., Bucks) said moments after the House voted.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


A Democrat giving the GOP a talking point when they need it most:
A centrist Democratic senator complimented Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito Wednesday as a jurist who won't "hammer away and chisel away" existing law.

While Sen. Ben Nelson (news, bio, voting record) did not endorse President Bush's latest nominee for the high court, he did say he was impressed by what he heard from Alito during his introductory visit.

The Nebraska Democrat, who was Alito's first senatorial host Wednesday, told reporters that he got assurances that Alito would not be "judicial activist" or "take an agenda to the bench" if confirmed to succeed Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring.

"He assured me that he wants to go to the bench without a political agenda," said Nelson, one of the founding members of the centrist "Gang of 14" senators who earlier this year worked out a compact aimed at avoiding judicial filibusters except in the direst of circumstances.

Some liberals, pointing to Alito's rulings as a federal appellate court judge on abortion, gun control, the death penalty and other issues have already raised the threat of a filibuster — an attempt to deny the 55-year-old lawyer a yes-or-no vote by the full Senate. Republicans hold 55 seats in the Senate, and while confirmation requires a simple majority, it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster.
Did Nelson need to give the GOP this talking point ONE day after Reid's masterful closed Senate move?


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

DeLay Judge Removed 

Democratic judges in Texas need not apply. If DeLay's lawyer could get the judge removed for making contributions to Democrats, thus allegedly not allowing a fair trial, would it be a fair trial for the prosecution, to have a Republican judge try the former GOP leader?


"Senator Daschle Never Did Anything Like This" 

Damn right. I had the chance to meet Former Minority Leader Tom Daschle at a fundraiser, and he was really nice, but, I never felt that he could/would put up a fight. I've heard stories that Daschle would be smiling at the GOP Senators, but at the same time putting a knife in their back. That's great, but it never really translated into the Dems looking good. On the other hand, Senator Reid seems to know what it takes to get the Dems on the offensive. Daschle never did. Senator Daschle was always disappointed in his Republican colleagues, but Senator Reid declares war.



Is not a racist term. Give me a break. Hunter at Kos gets it right:
Same crap, different week. Yesterday brought us the sight of Drudge heavily pushing the feces-laden smear that Democrats were aligning against Alito because he was an Italian American. We then got to see MSNBC's Chris Matthews pick up the smear and run with it, waving a "discovered" Democratic memo that he wouldn't bother to actually show anyone but which, we were assured, contained a "disgusting" attack on Alito's ethnicity.

Only one problem. As it turns out, the whole thing was a crude Swift Boat style attack on Democrats that was apparently orchestrated by reliable Republican A. Kenneth Ciongoli, crassly distributing his bigotry-baiting claim under the auspices of the National Italian American Foundation. Oh, and he's hardly a disinterested party -- his son, as it turns out, clerked for Alito.

So within the span of half a day, an attack was manufactured, distributed to reliable Republican sources, and placed on MSNBC, which treated it as something they had themselves "discovered". And within that same half a day, it was tracked back from MSNBC to its original Republican source.

The name "Scalito"? Hardly an "attack" on Italian Americans like myself -- it's a nickname that has been used by legal observers, friend and foe alike, to describe Alito's distinctly Scalia-like, far right judicial philosophies. And those legal observers have been using it for, at bare minimum, the last two years.

Sullivan basically concurs.


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