Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Another key terrorist captured

Another one bites the dust...

Irish Examiner - Ahmed Hussein Dabash Samir al-Batawi was arrested by a terrorist combat unit on Monday in Baghdad, according to the prime minister’s office. “Al-Batawi is considered at the top of the terrorist list,” the statement said, adding he had “committed the ugliest crimes against innocent civilians especially in Hurriyah neighbourhood that witnessed many massacres.”

The government said he confessed under questioning that he beheaded hundreds of Iraqis in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces.

100's of beheadings... So many they don't have a number. Seems to me that's a good guy to have arrested. Let's see if the media agrees... Well, as of 2:15pm pst there are 50 articles on his arrest, one through the Jawa Report (way to go Jawa!). But where's the MSM? Behind the curve and shackled by their own bias. As usual.

Oh and when someone tells you Iraq's a bloody hell-hole, don't be fooled. It's not. Gateway Pundit runs the numbers and come to some interesting conclusions... Casualties have continued to decrease steadily over the past three years, US casualties per month are lower than every other war other than the Revolutionary war, US casualties overall are the lowest of any US war, and the numbers suggest living in Washington DC, Detroit, or Baltimore is more dangerous than living in Iraq as those three US cities have more violent deaths per 100,000 residents than Iraq.

That's reporting for you. Too bad we can't expect the same from the MSM.

The administration's policy shift on Iran

It seems to be the big story of the morning, that the US has had a policy shift on relations with Iran, agreeing to a face to face meeting. Now that would be the first face to face meeting in almost 30 years, but what the headlines seem to miss is the condition on that meeting: stop enrichment programs.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States will join multilateral talks with Iran on its nuclear program once Iran suspends disputed nuclear activities, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.

"As soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU colleagues [France, Germany and Britain] and meet with Iran's representative," Rice said.

While the US joining the groups at the negotiation table would be new and noteworthy, it hardly makes for a policy change. The policy is still no nukes for Iran; the only thing changing is that we'll joining the active negotiations along with the EU3 if Iran stops enriching uranium. That's been the policy goal, that's still the policy goal. We're just taking a more active role.

Will it work? I dunno. Right now I'm leaning to no, it won't work. Iran will push this to the use of force, because I don't think they'll take anything seriously until they see the destruction because of their actions. To them, anything less than that is weak. Words mean almost nothing. Why else do Muslim protests always seem to turn to violence? They don't respect anything other than harsh action.

UPDATE @ 11:32am: The Captain seems to be of a similar opinion. Of course he says it a whole lot better than I did...

This is just a proposal along the same lines as we have seen before, except with the carrot of direct talks. It's significant, but not earth-shaking. Iran won't agree to suspend enrichment, and certainly won't agree to the kind of verification necessary to pursue this offer.

[...] This really doesn't change much except for an American offer to join direct, multilateral talks based on a condition that the Iranians have already said they won't meet. It does provide an effective response to Ahmadinejad's latest PR campaign and puts the onus back on Teheran for progress. I suspect that was the entire purpose of this statement.

I'll update with other bloggers opinions as I find them.

UPDATE @ 11:50am: David Ignatius has an excellent op-ed in today's WaPo. Here's a snippet...

I suspect Iran wants dialogue now partly because it perceives America's position in Iraq as weak and its own as strong. That may be true, but so what? Washington should still take yes for an answer. The United States and its European allies this week are crafting a package that, one hopes, will include everything the Iranian people could want -- except nuclear weapons. The bundle of goodies should stress connectivity -- more air travel to Iran, more scholarships for students, more exchanges, Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization. The mullahs may well reject these incentives as threatening, but that's the point. Their retrograde theocracy can't last long in an open world. This very week, about 40 police officers were injured in a clash with demonstrators at two Tehran universities. One of the hand-lettered protest signs captured in an Iranian photo said: "This is not a seminary, it is a university."

It's worth the read. Check it out.

UPDATE @ 2:31pm: In from the Cold doesn't think face to face meetings will help the situation.

We've expressed major misgivings about this diplomatic track, but the Bush Administration appears fully committed. There is a very good possibility that Iran may merely use the talks to push its propaganda points, berate the U.S., stall for time, and give its nuclear engineers the months or years they may need to produce an Iranian bomb. Despite that possibility, the White House seems to believe that it can somehow reach an accord with Tehran, and those favoring a diplomatic solution have the upper hand in policy debates, at least for now.

The State Department insists that it is not "negotiating with terrorists," given Iran's long support for Hizballah and other Middle Eastern terrorist groups. In fact, there doesn't appear to be any effort to link the proposed talks with broader discussions on Tehran's terrorist ties and other issues of concern. In diplomatic terms, that type of linkage might be "premature."

As I said earlier, I don't think Iran will respond to anything we request unless we back it up with the language they understand: violence. I pray it doesn't come to that, but I'm certainly not going to delude myself into believing that diplomacy will get us everything we want out of this situation.

UPDATE @ 2:56pm: Iran's response to our "policy shift" and proposed face to face meeting if they meet the conditions. It's about what you'd expect...

TEHRAN, Iran May 31, 2006 (AP)— The official Iranian news agency said Wednesday the U.S. offer to join in direct talks with Iran about its disputed nuclear program was "a propaganda move."

It makes you wonder if the Iranians just really wanted to get themselves bombed back to the stoneage. Clinton may have been fine with idle talks with North Korea so they could lie to our faces and then go build nuclear weapons anyway, but I've got to hope that Bush won't settle for that sort of complacency.

Indonesia earthquake death toll passes 5800

Another staggering tragedy that requires everyone's help. One because people need food, water, medicine, etc. and two, because the UN is coordinating it.

Indonesia has upped the death toll from the earthquake which hit the island of Java on Saturday to more than 5,800.

Large quantities of aid started flowing into affected areas, and the UN spoke of "enormous progress" being made.

[...] The 6.3 magnitude quake near the city of Yogyakarta left thousands injured and as many as 200,000 without homes.

Donations from around the world have continued to arrive as the relief operation, involving at least 22 countries, gathered pace.

[...] The UN has set up a co-ordination centre close to the airport to bring order to the flow of goods.

More international medical teams have flown in to help treat the injured, including personnel from the US, Japan and a 40-strong team and five tonnes of medical supplies from China.

The UN loves to coordinate, usually inbetween lobster lunches from their 5 star hotels.

All kidding aside, if you haven't donated yet, please do. Like the tsunami victims, these people will need our help.

Hot Wing Conspiracy week 8 round up

Well, I suppose I couldn't go undefeated all year. At least I put up a fight, because RFTR poured it on... Thanks to GOP and College for the summary this week.

RFTR - 6
Wookies Will Win - 5 (1 tie)
RFTR! The GIANT KILLER! And if any of you remember from HWC Football, this signaled a very bad turn for the worse for then top ranked RFTR. Talk about a trophy week for RFTR!
Game MVP: Jason Bay - Batting .500 with 7 Home runs (in one week), 11 Runs Scored, 15 RBI's, a stolen Base, and only 5 fans. As if you expected anyone else?
Game Wash-Out: Matt Clement - 2 starts, 7.2 Innings pitched, 14 Earned Runs for an ERA of 16.62 and a WHIP of 3.0

I don't even think that does RFTR's stats justice. His team scored 41 runs (mine scored 38), hit 19 HR's (10 for me), and 60 flippin' RBI's (to my 25). The next best RBI total in the league was 35! I think Jason Bay's stats ought to be thrown out because he's obviously Barry's Balco buddy... I kept it close taking the little categories... SB's, fewest strikeout, and batting average. And then of course my vaunted pitching staff got slaughtered; I managed to take only the most K's and Holds. It wasn't pretty, but I was fortunate to get the 5 that I did, because most of the week I wasn't winning in more than 2 categories...

In my family league, I fared much better, partly because Bay is on my team in that league. Of course it might have helped if I'd taken him off the bench for more than 2 games, but oh well. I still won thanks mostly to Manny Ramirez' 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, and .476 average. That helped me take 7 of 10 categories.

Make sure you check out some of the past Hot Wing recaps if you're interested.

Week 7 Recap
Week 6 Recap
Week 5 Recap
Week 4 Recap
Week 3 Recap
Week 2 Recap
Week 1 Recap

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

Though we may spend the day barbequing, by the pool, or watching TV, remember what the day is really for...

Find a soldier and thank them.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Hamas pulls terrorist security branch off the streets

Thanks mainly to a hardline stance by Abbas and his Fatah party.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The Hamas-led government withdrew a controversial 3,000-member private militia from the streets of Gaza on Friday, saying it wanted to reduce friction with the rival Fatah movement.

The move came on the second day of Hamas' talks with Fatah aimed at halting violence and resolving a deadlock that has paralyzed the Palestinian government and frozen relations with most of the world.

The talks focused on President Mahmoud Abbas' demand that Hamas accept the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In a bold move, Abbas said Thursday he will hold a national referendum on the proposal in July if Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, doesn't accept the plan within 10 days.

And it looks like Israel is helping Abbas as well, allowing Abbas to obtain new weapons for his personal security guard.

Senate approves Gen Hayden as CIA Director...

... and Bret Kavanaugh is approved to the federal court of appeals after 3 years of limbo!

The vote to confirm Gen. Michael V. Hayden to lead the C.I.A. was 78 to 15, a margin that was a marked turnaround from the predictions of trouble that greeted his nomination less than three weeks ago. At the time, a number of Republicans joined Democrats in questioning whether a uniformed officer should lead the intelligence agency.

In a debate Thursday night that preceded this morning's vote, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, tied doubts about General Hayden to the controversy over the program of warrantless wiretaps that Mr. Hayden oversaw when he was the head of the National Security Agency.

The program raises "serious questions about whether the general is the right person to lead the C.I.A., serious questions about whether the general will continue to be an administration cheerleader, serious questions about his credibility," Senator Wyden said, The Associated Press reported.

Apparently those Republicans came to their sense quickly, and since NYT - Hayden got 12 of 15 votes from the Senate Intelligence Committee it doesn't appear there was much to for the NYT and Wyden to "debate" over...

[...] The vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court was closer, at 57 to 36. But there was no more suspense about it than there had been about General Hayden's nomination, after a 67-to-30 vote on Thursday had cleared the way for a final vote.

Well at least we finally got him in... even if it took 3 years...

Gunfire in a Capitol building garage

**UPDATED - Scroll down for updates**

No reports of anyone being injured.

WASHINGTON May 26, 2006 (AP)— Police investigated reports of gunfire in a House office building on Friday and briefly sealed off the Capitol as a precaution.

Capitol police were investigating "the sound of gunfire in the garage level of the Rayburn House Office Building," said an announcement on the internal Capitol voice alarm system.

[...] The Rayburn House Office Building was completed in early 1965 and is the third of three office buildings constructed for the U.S. House of Representatives. It sits southwest of the Capitol. The building has four stories above ground, two basements and three levels of underground garage space.

[...] The incident occurred at the end of a week of unusually tumultuous series of events that ironically enough, began in the same building. FBI agents armed with a search warrant seized documents and computer material from the first office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., in a weekend raid. Jefferson is at the center of a federal bribery investigation.

Tumultuous indeed.

UPDATED @ 10:04am: Bloomberg is reporting one unidentified person was taken from the building on a gurney. They also remind us that the Rayburn building has a firing range in the basement.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

House or Representatives approves drilling in ANWR!

Well it's about damn time! Allahpundit at Hot Air quotes the Anchorage Daily News which says that the bill won't make it out of the Senate.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House voted Thursday to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but the move was primarily symbolic, since opponents in the Senate are certain to filibuster.

The vote was 225-201.

[...] The bill could go to the Senate next, but Democrats there would undoubtedly block it, and Republicans don't appear to have the 60 votes they need to break a filibuster.

So what happened in the markets today along with this? Exxon's stock's up...

Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest publicly traded oil provider, and U.S. Steel Corp. led the market's advance on speculation demand for raw materials will increase.

Crude oil went up $0.18 but that's due to a stalemate in talks with Iran and specualtion surrounding a possible future conflict. But more good news for oil prices along with possible drilling in ANWR, US gasoline stockpiles are still higher than expected near record levels and OPEC is predicting near record levels of crude production this year.

What's an "aluminum falcon"?

This is hilarious. Thanks to Chad and Kath.

Hey, you'd get all weepy over pandabear Padme too if she looked like Natalie Portman.

Adventures of a first-time father to be...

After the fun I had with my posts on becoming a homeowner for the first time last year (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), it seems only natural that a post on the trials and tribulations of becoming a dad for the first time should merit it's own series of posts as well. It's a far more momentous and important life moment than buying a house, and involves far funnier stories.

While I only announced here that my wife was pregnant a couple weeks ago, we had known since just before Easter. In fact, my wife told me she was pregnant by surprising me with a little gift while we were out to dinner with her step family one night a day or two before Easter. It's was in a little gift bag, with lots of tissue paper, and when I reached in I pulled out a little pen box. Since my wife's a sales rep, I immediately recognized the pen box as the case for a laser pointer pen that had been popular with the doctors, so I immediately say, "Aw babe, thanks for the pen," and go to toss it back in the bag. She says, "Uh, you may want to check that pen," and it turns out it was the positive pregnancy test. We were of course thrilled, we had actually decided to start trying to get pregnant a week earlier (oddly enough "we were trying to get pregnant" seems to be the accepted phrasing for this sort of thing. I guess "knocked her up" just doesn't sound right for some reason). We certainly didn't waste any time...

Well, now there's a bunch of people we need to tell. After dinner we call her dad and practically demand that he and his fiancee stop by the house to pick up their Easter present early. We were going to my parent's for Easter, so we wanted to make sure her dad found out before we left. We ended up pulling the same "pen gift" idea to spill the beans. So her dad and his fiancee come over, and we give him the gift. He opens it up and looks at the positive test and has absolutely zero clue what he's looking at. Once we explained what it was, he nearly jumped off the couch with excitement. Over the past couple years he'd been the parent that asked us every time he saw us if we were knocked up yet (see just doesn't sound right...). He's been looking forward to another grandchild forever.

For the weekend, we head to my parents' and surprise them with the news with a little gift, this time a little baby bib that's got a cute grandma saying on it, and my parents are happy and excited for us. We tell a few more family members that weekend, but decide to wait for a little while longer before announcing it to the whole world (literally...)

Anyway, after an Easter brunch with my family, we head back towards home and stop by the fetching Mrs. Wookie's step family's for Easter dinner. Now, my wife had been experiencing some pregnancy symptoms for a little while before this, so we had a clue she was pregnant. She was a little nauseous and was extremely sensitive to smells. When we got to her step fmaily's house, they were still cooking the turkey and the smell gave the fetching Mrs. Wookie fits; she nearly puked right there. We ended up staying for only 5 minutes.

We got home, ate some leftovers, and fiddled around the house. We were watching TV a few hours later and my wife turns to me and says she's hungry. I say, what do you want? She says cereal. I say we're out of milk; want oatmeal instead? She says no, I want cereal. I say how about something else. Grilled cheese, quesadilla, soup... All of a sudden I get a scream, "I WANT CEREAL!!!" She bolts from the couch, grabs her keys, and peels out of the garage on her way to the store.

I'm still standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what just happened.

She comes back more than 30 minutes later. Now she didn't just go get the milk and Honey Nut Cheerios she wanted. She went grocery shopping. Eggs, bacon, bottled water, soda, cheese, apples, bread, peanut butter, etc... All she brings in from the car is the milk and cereal. I'm still standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what just happened. and I try to say something as she comes in and she yells, "DON'T TALK!!!" She rips open the cereal, pours herself a bowl, goes into our living room in the dark to eat, and starts to cry.

I'm still standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what just happened.

After eating she totally returns to normal. She apologizes for losing it over cereal, but I'm sure not going to question a craving again.

I also thought I'd share this. Our friends are having fun with the fact that we're knocked up (that still doesn't sound right...).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

US convicts would be terrorist of plotting to blow up NYC subway

This is a nice follow up to that British anti-terror raid story from this morning.

NEW YORK - A Pakistani immigrant was convicted Wednesday of charges he plotted to blow up one of Manhattan's busiest subway stations in retaliation for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

A federal jury in Brooklyn deliberated two days before convicting Shahawar Matin Siraj of conspiracy and other charges. He faces up to life in prison.

In retaliation for Abu Ghraib, huh? He must really be offended by naked dude pyramids and sheets over his head...

By the way... good work New Yorkers. Now sentence him to life and throw away the key.

Brits arrest 8 in anti-terror raids

The report also mentions 3 terrorist attacks British security has prevented since last July's attacks.

Bloomberg - Prime Minister Tony Blair's government is under pressure to crack down on illegal immigration after the Home Office said it had lost track of foreign prisoners following their release. British security services have averted three possible terrorist attacks since July, when suicide bombers killed 52 people in London, a committee in Parliament said in a report this month.

Police searched 19 addresses in raids that began at 3 a.m. local time in Manchester, London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Bolton. Ten people were arrested in total and two were released. None has been identified.

While Iraq and Afghanistan are important fronts in the Global War on Terror, we can forget to stay vigilant at home. Just because we don't hear about thwarted attempts on US soil doesn't mean there haven't been any attempts. And it certainly doesn't mean the terrorists aren't planning to attack US domestic targets.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Al Gore offered Bush a private screening of his global warming documentary farce

Will Dubya see it?

How many guesses do you really need?

WASHINGTON - Is President Bush likely to see Al Gore's documentary about global warming?

"Doubt it," Bush said coolly Monday.


Like he really wanted to see Day After Tomorrow anyway. No one else did.

Senate Intelligence approves Gen. Hayden for CIA chief

And he got 12 of the 15 committee votes too. I thought there'd be a bigger fight over Hayden than that.

WASHINGTON, May 23 — The Senate Intelligence Committee overwhelmingly endorsed Gen. Michael V. Hayden today to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with all but three Democratic members of the committee voting to send General Hayden's nomination to the Senate floor.

The support that General Hayden received from 12 of the 15 committee members is a sign that he is virtually guaranteed to be confirmed by the full Senate, which could begin debating his nomination as early as Wednesday.

Hayden got all 8 Republican votes and 4 of 7 Democrats. Sens. Rockerfeller, Mikulski, Feinstein, and Levin approved Hayden while Feingold, Bayh, and Wyden voted against confirmation. The article says Hayden drew some sharp criticism over the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program he oversaw, but I didn't follow it too closely, so I'm not sure how ridiculous the questioning got. Perhaps the Democrats finally figured out that since nearly two-thirds of the country is in favor of the NSA's TSP and data mining cell phone records, they shouldn't pound the table in outrage over the program. But that's also betting that they smartened up so take that for what you will...

Some common sense from Europe

That's notable in and of itself, but especially when it regarding dealing with terrorism...

BBC - Ransom payments to release foreign hostages in Iraq have been criticised by the vice-chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee.
Baroness Emma Nicholson said payments would only encourage more kidnappings.

It comes after the Times said it had seen documents showing France, Italy and Germany sanctioned millions of dollars of payments to free hostages.

[...] She said she could understand why nations took unilateral action for their own reasons, "but that's not what modern life is all about".

"It's about sticking to common rules, not ignoring them when the going gets rough.

"And the common rule is that you don't negotiate with terrorists, you don't negotiate with kidnappers, you don't do so with money."

I'm practically speechless... She's exactly right. It's like that grade school bully; if you cave in and give him your lunch money, he will pound on you for the rest of your life (so to speak). But as soon as you grow a spine and stand up to him, more often than not he'll leave you alone now that he knows he can't scare you into giving him what he wants. That's why Bush's "stay the course" message, whikle monotonous and perhaps in need of being revamped a bit, is vitally important. As soon as we show weakness, the terrorists will be emboldened because that's exactly what they want... to prove how soft and weak the "Great Satan" is. That their jihad brought the mighty America to it's knees. So depsite troop withdrawals, we still have to maintain a strong presence in Iraq. Maybe use that to our advantage like a commenter suggested, a rope-a-dope. Give the terrorists a little hope, draw them out of their holes, and crush them.

I love it when a plan comes together...

Fantasy Baseball weekly recap

Fmragtops Spews has this week's Hot Wing Conspiracy round up for those who are so inclined.

My Wookies were once again victorious, but they kept me guessing most of the week. FM summed it up this way

A pretty good match up. The Bombers took the Offensive and Pitching K stat, SV, and HLD. The Wookies took the rest. You can’t stop wookies, you can only hope to contain them. C’mon Fmragtops Spews readers, help me put the gris-gris on Pujols so he’ll blow his knee out while getting out of the bathtub or something.

MVP= Who else? Pujols. With 7 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, and 0 K for the week, Pujols keeps propelling the Wookies to win after win.

Dud= Nobody really played that poorly for the Bombers. Schilling had a 7.94 ERA, but still got a W. I guess that’s the worst performance.

My pitching was pretty poor to start the week. Schilling and Clement each got me wins but with an ERA close to 5.00. My batters weren't doing to hot to begin with either. Chipper Jones finished the week with 10 RBIs but he got all those in the first 3 days of the week, keeping me afloat against the Bombers. I was actually losing going into the weekend, but 2 HRs from Pujols and Delgado apiece and 11 combined innings with a 0.00 ERA and 2 wins Sunday saved my ass.

Pujols was an obvious MVP pick, but I give it to Chipper who had 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 6 runs, and 1 SB all while batting .346 for the week.

This week I'm up against RFTR and though he's got a record below .500, he's got a good lineup and has started the week on fire. Should be another tough battle...

Has Jack Bauer become fates whipping boy?

I mean the man can't catch a break! Just when he thinks life is going back to normal, he's smooching with Audrey "the nose" Raines, thinking about a sammich and a nap, and going to take a call from his daughter, Cougar Bait Kim and WHAM! He's kidnapped by secret, attack ninjas.

I must say when the episode was wrapping up and Jack and Audrey were getting all snuggly, I thought what about the Chinese, Jack? Like they're not gonna notice you came back to life or they've forgiven and forgotten? Then he goes to take the phone call and the ninjas come out of the shadows and attacks. My first thought was damn, if Romano the one-armed wonder doc and his Halliburton cronies employed ninjas why didn't they use them instead of RoboCop? But that's silly because Romano the one-armed wonder doc and Halliburton are there to look out for the white man and wouldn't be caught dead employing people of color to do anything other than pick fruit. That left the Chinese. They are ninjas after all...

Of course my prediction that Jack would kill President Weasel was wrong. In the end, though I like that Bib Boobs Logan ended up being the one to nail the weasel.

Overall it was a good season. There were some cheesy parts and for a while there I thought the writers had a serious case of War for Oil/Halliburton/BDS with some of those plot twists. But next season, Jack goes to China.

I can't wait.

UPDATE @ 4pm: How could I forget the Chuck Norris Jack Bauer Moment of ZenTM!

Chuck Norris Jack Bauer is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian.

Few people know that President Jimmy Carter appointed Chuck Norris Jack Bauer as Secretary of Awesome in 1978. This cabinet level position was later rescinded in 1981 after Chuck Norris Jack Bauer refused to give up his title.

The Great Wall of China is one of the few things on earth that can be seen from space because of its sheer size. Chuck Norris Jack Bauer's dick can actually be touched from space because it's just that much bigger.
Take that China!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Blair and Bush speed up troop withdrawal schedule

I dunno... I'm sure they've got good intel and the word of officers on the ground in Iraq to support a sped up schedule of withdrawal of troops, but it smells of political posturing... bringing troops home 4 months before an election.

Guardian - George Bush and Tony Blair are to discuss in Washington this week a programme of troop withdrawals from Iraq that will be much faster and more ambitious than originally planned.

In a phased pullout in which the two countries will act in tandem, Britain is to begin with a handover to Iraqi security forces in Muthanna province in July and the Americans will follow suit in Najaf, the Shia holy city.

Other withdrawals will quickly follow over the remainder of the year. Officials in both administrations hope that Britain's 8,000 forces in Iraq can be down to 5,000 by the end of the year and that the American forces will be reduced from 133,000 to about 100,000.

And if I think that sounds like vote pandering, you know the Democrats will hammer him for it. He better have talking points ready and generals by his side ready to back him up saying things are good on the ground, Iraqi security forces are ready, and they've been doing most of the heavy lifting in the area for "X" amount of time. Hopefully having a former member of the press in Tony Snow heading up press relations will help lead to a better prepared Dubya. He needs to have the full arsenal ready the first time. If he does what he has been doing, drawing the discussion out over weeks and months, letting the pundits get a hold of it and chew on it for weeks, he's going to get hammered in the polls. Again.

[ed. small syntax error corrected in my commentary above]

Weekend Update

It was a big weekend in entertainment news. Sorry I didn't post anything over the weekend, but the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I were hosting an out of town guest (I actually helped surprise the fetching Mrs. Wookie by bringing a good friend of hers out from New Jersey for the weekend). So we were too busy having fun for me to post.

First Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth with his 714th homerun Saturday; one more will put him in 2nd place all time for homeruns with only Hank Aaron to catch. Earlier in the week, fans in Philly gave Barry a hard time with this sign in the outfield. (Stolen image from Chad at the other Cake or Death)

Baseball fans sure do know their history...

Secondly, the Preakness was held on Saturday as well, and it turned tragic as the favorite, Barbaro, pulled up lame nearly right out of the gate. It turned out the colt broke it's leg and has since undergone surgery in an effort to save the horse's life. In college I lived in Del Mar right across the street from the Del Mar racetrack and even though I only went to a handful of races, I quickly saw why horseracing was as popular as it was. This incident reminds me reminds me of another famous horserace that ended with a horse with a broken leg, Ruffian. The famous equine battle of the sexes ended with Ruffian shattering her right foreleg as it broke and she then continued to run on it for another 50 yards. Surgery was ineffective for Ruffian and she was later euthanized. Barbaro's surgery was successful, but the vets give her only a 50-50 chance of survival.

Finally, The DaVinci Code opened this weekend, and we saw it Friday night. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. Whatever you thought of the book, I felt it was much better than the movie, and surprisingly, Tom Hanks was fairly monotone throughout the movie. There was no range or depth to his portrayal of Robert Langdon at all. Audrey Tautou stole the scenes. The movie made $77 million in the US on its opening weekend, and $224 worldwide.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Oliver Stone's 9/11 movie, World Trade Center

It looks good.

Hopefully Stone doesn't go BDS on us with this.

Thanks to Allahpundit for the link.

UC President Robert Dynes keeps his job after pay and perks scandal exposed

Some California voters might want to read this before falling into the trap the election commercials are setting for them. You get those weepy teachers saying vote for this Democrat because he'll fully fund education; vote for this Democrat because he'll roll back fee increases at the universities; vote for this Democrat because he's for smaller class sizes. Bullshit. Vote for Arnold and hope he guts the UC Regents.

SAN FRANCISCO — University of California President Robert Dynes won support Thursday from his bosses, essentially assuring that he will keep his job despite calls for his resignation over a pay-perk controversy.

[...] Media reports and a series of audits said officials consistently violated or ignored policies in order to secure better deals for highly paid administrators and handed out millions of dollars in perks, bonuses and allowances even as student fees went up and services were cut.

Parsky said the discussions with Dynes — held in both open and closed sessions of the regents' meeting at UC San Francisco — left regents persuaded that Dynes understands the depth of the problem and is committed to fixing it.

As a graduate of the UC system (UC San Diego), this is disgusting. Liberals get all pissed about Big Business and CEO profits, so we're coining a new phrase here: Big Education (unless it's been used elsewhere, which is likely. It's too good a phrase to pass up). UC San Diego's Chancellor gets a killer mansion on the cliffs right there in La Jolla. What else are they referring to when they say pay and perks?

Initiated by press reports, the controversy centers on extra compensation given to top university officials in excess of UC policy, without the regents or IRS being informed, and without regents approving it. The reports outline blatant misuse of public funds through the presidents office, the apparent acquiescence of the president and his failure to stop such transgressions.

A state audit found that the presidents office granted $334 million in additional compensation last year for housing, car allowances, stipends, sabbatical leaves and other extras that did not square with university policy. Exceptions were so common that it cultivated a culture of noncompliance, the audit said.

$334 million. Wow.

If this was a product that people were paying for at the pump, at the pharmacy, or in the stores there'd be outrage over this. But no. This is money taken out of every paycheck of every (legal) working Californian, squandered by bureaucratic fat-cats like Dynes, and the liberal teachers' union, who's in bed with the Regents, blame the incumbent, Republican governor for fee hikes and program cuts. What's worse is the fee hikes are far more costly to the hardworking parents of high school graduates who want to give their kids a chance at a better life who pay those fee hikes off over decades thanks to the $30,000-50,000 in loans they had to take out for their child. You know the type... the ones the liberals so desperately want to help. Or worse than that, the student who puts themself through school and is then saddled with that debt as soon as they enter the working world. And don't even talk about graduate school.

But that's Big Education for you. Steamrolling diversity of thought and opinion and blaming everybody but themselves.

UPDATE @ 4:27pm: For other examples of Big Education screwing with our educations see more Cake or Death, Cox & Forkum, Army Lawyer, Blackfive, Hot Air, and more Hot Air.

Hamas official caught smuggling cash into Palestinian territory

I'm betting that that money wasn't going to go to paying the government's bills...

Financial Times - An official from the Islamic movement Hamas, under a western aid boycott, was caught on Friday trying to smuggle €639,000 ($816,000, £434,000) hidden in his clothing from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials said Sami Abu Zuhri was on his way back from Qatar, which has pledged to give the Hamas-run Palestinian Authority $50m (€39m, $27m) in aid. He was held at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza by Palestinian customs police loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, who is in a power struggle with Hamas.

Things aren't looking too good for the Palestinians because it looks like they're going into self-destruct mode. They don't have the money to pay debts or government employees, they have to illegally smuggle cash into the country, and they're actually killing each other as Hamas' terrorists face off with Abbas and Fatah loyalists.

Memo to the Palestinians: next time don't elect a terrorist group to run your country.

Just a suggestion.

I have reached the pinnacle of blogging...

I got a link from Instapundit!!!!!

Sure it was from an auto-updating carnival sidebar thing, but still...
I might as well quit while I'm ahead because it's all downhill from here...

Senate votes to make English America's "national language" & "common language"

Is the Senate really that spineless that they couldn't choose one, so they chose both? I'm sorry, but that's retarded...

WASHINGTON - Whether English is America's "national language" or its national "common and unifying language" was a question dominating the Senate immigration debate.

The Senate first voted 63-34 to make English the national language after lawmakers who led the effort said it would promote national unity.

But critics argued the move would prevent limited English speakers from getting language assistance required by an executive order enacted under President Clinton. So the Senate also voted 58-39 to make English the nation's "common and unifying language."

All that gobbledeegook can be boiled down to that they wasted a bunch of time and all that they changed is it will mean people seeking citizenship have to demonstrate a "sufficient understanding of the English language for usage in every day life."


Prisoners clash with guards at Guantanamo

... and the UN recommends we close the camp.

Now what, praytell, caught the attention of the guards at Guantanamo that sparked this uprising? .... An attempted suicide in a common area.

What did the guards do? .... Rush in to try to save the prisoner's life.

Heaven forbid we try to save the life of a terrorist...

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Inmates at the U.S. Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, fought with guards trying to prevent one of four suicide attempts at the facility yesterday, the U.S. military said.

Prisoners used light fixtures, fans and other improvised weapons to attack guards who had entered a communal living area to stop a detainee who was preparing to hang himself, the U.S. Southern Command, which runs the prison, said in a statement. Minimum force was used to quell the disturbance and prevent the suicide, Commander Robert Durand said in the statement.

Earlier in the day, three detainees ingested prescription medication that they had been hoarding to attempt to kill themselves by overdose, the statement said. The three were hospitalized and treated. Two detainees are under observation and one was released.

So our guards are fighting with the prisoners to save the prisoners' lives... What kind of f*cked up world are we living in where that makes a prison inhumane and deserving of being shut down?

UPDATE @ 4:46pm: In from the Cold post some interesting thoughts on the cause of the Gitmo suicide attempts and riots.

The "unwritten" message in this account is that conditions are so harsh at "Club Gitmo" that prisoners are attempting suicide to end their misery. And dutifully, MSNBC provides the number of attempted suicides at the prison since it opened back in 2002. Naturally, there's no frame of reference--for example, how does the number of attempted suicides at Gitmo compare to other correctional facilities, just the suggestion that Gitmo is a hell-hole for detainees.

There's also no speculation as to whether the suicide attempt might have been staged, to lure guards inside for the assault. Maybe I've watched too many prison movies, but it would seem that an attack on that scale--and using the types of "weapons" cited--would require some degree of advanced planning and preparation.

To their credit, the folks at MSNBC do manage to stumble across a more likely explanation for the uprising, and Thursday's "rash" of suicide attempts. Seems that these events occurred on a day when a number of Saudi prisoners were remanded to their home country. That transfer, coupled with reports that Gitmo may be closing soon, probably had the terrorists sufficiently agitated to try something--anything--to delay a return to the harsh confines of a "real" Middle East prison. The terrorists at Gitmo understand that if the facility there actually shuts down, many of them will face their own "homecomings," and an uncertain future at the hands of their countrymen.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hosting The Carnival of BauerTM is like being touched by the hand of God

Or close to it, since Jack Bauer being wrong (twice!) in the last episode is one of the signs of the impending end of days! And I wasn't the only one who caught it either. WWDPD is the latest, hip accessory sweeping the nation!

Many of you were extremely upset by the President's immigration speech from the oval office. Not that you disagreed with his position on the issues, but that it might somehow pre-empt some of 24. Perhaps if the president had the oh-so popular Jack Bauer man-purseTM nearby(even if you question it's masculinity, which is tantamount to blasphemy, quite frankly), you might have felt differently. Perhaps it fooled your brain into thinking you were getting your 24 fix, while waiting for the real thing. You know... like switching from heroin to cigarettes to cut the cravings. It made you yearn and twitch and sweat for your shot at Big Boobs Logan in the stables on the Funny Farm right before she pops a cap in a brainless secret service agent bad guy who's about to kill her hunny-bunny, Whiskey Pierce. I can't think of a bigger turn on than that.

And just when you think you're about to watch a kick-ass episode of 24, an episode of Lost breaks out and we're all under the control of "the others." And there's a Jack in that show too... hmmm... Another sign of the apocalypse! But hey it could be worse. It could've been taken over by more Robocop rejects (aren't five actors from the movie enough?). Or you could be particularly intrigued by the LED clock and how the 24 writers have given it a Rathergate type alteration. Maybe it's me, but I'm perfectly happy watching blinking lights with sound effects and not thinking twice about them.

So the episode begins and I might as well have seen a burning bush! Chloe screwed up on something technical! Sure she was sabotaged, but that's not the point! She could turn on my dishwasher from her CTU desk if she wanted to. She's that good. The end of the world must be at hand!

On the other hand maybe Jack just doesn't like Christmas...

We can't stop it. The end is coming. I mean... Bierko's got a Russian submarine. You know he's gonna pull a Red October and try to kill Jack Ryan. WTF?!? Another Jack! That must really be the name of the gods. I may have to reconsider naming my son Jack, even daughter. Sorry Chad. And in order to appease God and Jack I dedicate one final Chuck Norris Jack Bauer Moment of ZenTM...

Chuck Norris Jack Bauer was advised by a guru that he would attain eternal happiness if he went 7 years without breaking necks. Chuck Norris Jack Bauer snapped the guru's neck like a twig.

Chuck Norris Jack Bauer was the fifth Teletubby. His name was "Kil Kil".

Chuck Norris Jack Bauer versus God, who would win? Trick question! Chuck Norris Jack Bauer is God.
An appropriate end...

Thanks to B4B for allowing me the honor of hosting The Carnival of Bauer. It may not be better than the Llama's edition last week, but at least it's on time.

Let the roasting begin!

Gen. Michael Hayden is going to be on the hot seat starting today. We've got seven Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee; let's watch them flip out on Hayden over the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program.

WASHINGTON May 18, 2006 (AP)— Under bipartisan Senate grilling, CIA nominee Gen. Michael Hayden insisted Thursday that he believed the administration's warrantless surveillance program was legal when it was commenced after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and remains so today.

The article goes on to quote Sen. Carl Levin who criticizes the CIA for manipulating information during the lead up to the war in Iraq. It quotes Sen. Rockerfeller who was "delighted" at Hayden's appointment as principal deputy director of national intelligence a year ago, but who's now concerned about Hayden being an administration puppet. Only time will tell what other idiocies are uttered by these and other Democrats like Sens. Feinstein and Feingold.

Whatever they say, I'm sure it won't be relevant at all to his qualifications to run the CIA.

UPDATE: Uh-oh. Looks like Hayden's a Pittsburgh Steeler fan. What's Hugh gonna do now...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Senate agrees to prevent illegal immigrant criminals from gaining legal status

It's a total no brainer, but sometimes those obvious points are the most difficult when it comes to government bureaucracy...

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate today agreed to exclude as many as 500,000 criminal aliens from a plan to give undocumented immigrants legal status, agreeing to compromise on a proposal that nearly killed immigration legislation last month.

The Senate voted 99-0 to accept an amendment by Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl or Arizona to bar felons, repeat offenders and other criminal aliens from gaining legal status under a provision to give many of the 11 million immigrants illegally in the U.S. a path to citizenship.

[...] Last night senators agreed to let some immigrants who have ignored deportation orders remain eligible for legal status if they show family hardship or prove they did not receive adequate notice of a deportation hearing.

[...] Yesterday, the Senate blocked an amendment that would have struck the guest-worker proposal and approved one reducing the number of guest-worker visas for foreigners to 200,000 per year.

Other amendments the Senate is likely to consider would require employers to advertise jobs to Americans before foreign employees can gain permanent residency, call for additional fencing along the border and make English the nation's official language.

Finally after all this time and all these demonstrations and all this arguing over illegal immigration, it looks like some good positive steps are being taken. Illegal immigrant felons should all be denied entrance to the US and those we have in custody ought to be deported to their native country if they'll match the punishment we've deemed necessary. Fewer guest worker visas approved; that's good. And of the other ammendments being considered, I'm a big fan of the fence and English as the official language of the USA. It's about time. Assimilation to US customs used to be the norm for immigrants and that included learning English. Somewhere along the way immigrants assimilating to our norms changed to us being forced to accept immigrants as they are, putting zero expectations on them as we grant them citizenship. It's probably the lawyers' fault.

Jason Coleman has a great post on the immigration debate, where he stands on the issue, and how all the infighting among Republicans on the issue is hurting us more than helping us, although interestingly enough, the infighting points to diversity of opinion among conservatives that you don't seem to see from the left.

UPDATE @ 3:55pm: The Senate OK's a fence at the border, 83-16. It was labelled as a "'real fence' as distinct from a virtual fence" across 370 miles of the Mexican border.

UPDATE @ 3:50pm on 5/18: The Rottweiler has another immigration ammendment that's passed. This one's not so hot.

WASHINGTON – The Senate reversed itself early this morning and passed an amendment to the proposed immigration reform bill that would allow guest workers to self-petition to stay permanently in the United States after working here for four years.

I wonder if they'll bother to refuse any of those petitions...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

It's a sign of the apocalypse! Jack Bauer was wrong!

The end of days is quickly approaching! Jack Bauer was wrong TWICE during the last hour!

First Jack disagreed with Frau Blucher and Chiggy Killer's choice to give RoboCop immunity in order to prevent another possible terrorist attack. C'mon jack lives are in the balance and without the tape RoboCop's life is forfeit. With no safety net the Halliburton gang led by the one-armed wonder doc Romano will surely eliminate RoboCop. He needs to help you out of his own self interest. Chiggy even had to play the "WWDPD" card (What Would David Palmer Do). Jack check that trendy bracelet and go with Chiggy on this.

Jack's second mistake (three words I never thought I'd utter... or type) was not trusting RoboCop. Sure he was helping terrorists and a traiterous president in their attempt to kill innocent civilians for oil and nearly killed your girlfriend. But let bygones be bygones, sing Kumbaya, meditate over it. It's all water under the bridge. He nearly had the other terrorist guy fooled into downloading all the information you needed onto a handy little flash drive for easier consumption. But you blew it and busted in too early and stopped him. That gives Chloe twice as much to do and half the time to do it, and she can't work under those conditions and be her normal chipper self. Not possible.

Anyway. Other sundry items... Jack nearly kills kiss-ass Miles; instead we have to settle for a bitchslap from Frau Blucher. Big Boobs Logan kills a secret service agent saving Whiskey Pierce. And a sub full of Russians get gassed as part of Vlad's backup terrorist plan. Just when you thought it was almost over Jack now gets to hijack a submarine and a plane all within a 6 hour period. I thought you had to wait 24 hours between flying and diving? Or is it like eating, you've only got to wait a half an hour?

Don't forget to submit your posts for the Carnival of Bauer! Yours truly is the host this week, and I'll try to make sure I'm not late getting it together like the Llamas were (who also forget to put in my 24 post. You really can't trust a Llama to do anything right, can you?). So get those 24 posts ready and click the link or go through Blogs 4 Bauer to submit those posts!

And as always your Jack Bauer Moment of ZenTM...

Fool Chuck Norris Jack Bauer once; shame on you. Fool him twice; good-bye teeth.

Chuck Norris Jack Bauer believes strongly in ending world hunger. He plans to do this by terminating the populations of all third world countries.

Obi-wan trained Luke. Qui-gon trained Obi-wan. Yoda trained Qui-gon. Chuck Norris Jack Bauer trained Yoda.

Monday, May 15, 2006

US restores diplomatic relationship with Libya

This is an interesting turn of events...

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Monday it was establishing full diplomatic relations with Libya and removing it from a list of nations that sponsor terrorism, ending 27 years of mostly hostile relations between the countries.

Libya reversed course on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, earning the right to join the ranks of "the mainstream of the international community," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement. "We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya's continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism."

Some are extremely unhappy about this, and others are cautiously optimistic. Despite Libya's history as a rogue state, human rights violator, and a state sponsor of terrorism they came clean about their nuclear aspirations and pledged to abandon the program. Whether or not this is the right approach to take with Libya (hopefully they still keep a real close eye on them), it does send a good message to other nations that if they follow the straight and narrow, there's enough room in the civilized world for us all.

UPDATE @ 3:49pm: Counterterrorism blog posts the details about the decision to renew diplomatic ties with Libya. I found the piece with the Special Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Henry Crumpton particularly intriguing.

QUESTION: Can I ask you what does Sudan and Libya have to do to get off the state sponsor terror list? And when you talked about Iran, what is the help that they are giving -- that you said they're giving insurgents? Are you saying the state of Iran actually gave the components to insurgents for the IEDs?

AMBASSADOR CRUMPTON: The first question. Libya continues to make progress. We have outlined specifically to them what we need. They have to not engage in any terrorism for a certain period of time and we have to be able to verify that. They have to pledge to renounce terrorism, and they have. In fact, Secretary Rice met with the Libyan Foreign Minister last year and there was a joint statement to that effect. And we're at the point right now of continuing our discussions, verifying some issues and moving forward.

Verifiable information that the country has stopped sposoring terrorism for a certain amount of time. Verifying is good.

Hot Wing Conspiracy week 6 round up

Fantasy baseball update...

And, as usual, I'll start with the scoring explanation. The stats your team builds up are broken down into 12 groups. For batters, there's runs, homeruns, RBI's, Strike-outs, stolen bases, and batter's average. For Pitching, there's Wins, Saves, Strike-outs, Holds, ERA, and WHIP. Each one of those is a win, a loss, or a tie. So in a given week, you can have any combination of wins, losses, and ties that add up to 12.

Robots Eat Babies: 3
Wookies Will Win: 7

I am once again victorious! Robots were actually making me nervous for a while. We were tied going into the weekend but my guys had an offensive explosion this week (15 HRs, 51 runs, 42 RBIs) taking 5 of 6 categories and then managed to wrestle away 2 pitching categories to steal the victory.
Stud: Albert Pujols hit .429 with 3 HRs, 10 RBIs, and 8 runs
Dud: Cory Lidle went only 2 innings against the Mets and got pounded finishing with a 22.50 ERA and WHIP at 4.00

Right Wing Nuts: 4
Baghdad Bombers: 8

Pitching got the Bombers the win here. The offensive stats were mediocre on both sides and ended in an even split 3-3. Bombers took 5 of 6 of the pitching categories to seal their victory.
Stud: Jeremy Bonderman pitched 8 shutout innings with 8 K's and a WHIP at 0.75
Dud: Jimmy Rollins hit .130 for the week with 2 RBIs and only 1 run. That won't cut the mustard in the leadoff spot.

Webcats: 9

Webcats really stuck it to RTFR. The Cats swept the offensive categories with some decent looking numbers and then split they pitching stats 3-3 to cement the win despite RTFR's 6 saves.
Stud: Luis Castillo hit .320 with 8 RBIs, 6 runs, 1 HR, and 1 SB.
Dud: Eric Chavez was in the starting lineup all week but had a bacterical infections and played only once the whole week going 0 for 5 with 3K's

Poca Dots Blog: 3
bRight & Early: 8

bRight got it done on both ends. He took 4 offensive and 4 pitching stat categories with a well rounded game. Sure his pitchers only managed 1 win and 0 saves, but 43 K's and 3 Holds easily made up for losing Wins and Saves to Poca Dots.
Stud: Nomar Garciaparra is back and healthy hitting .480 with 3HRs and 8 RBIs.
Dud: Victor Martinez barely got the bat off his shoulder hitting .087 with only 2 RBIs and 1 Run.

fmragtops spewers: 4
PAWs: 7

This one was closer than it might look at first. Seems neither team really wanted this one since the combined for only 3 wins and 3 saves. PAWs got the closely conteasted stat categories (wins, saves, runs, average) and fmragtops got the blowout stat wins in SB and Holds.
Stud: Morgan Ensberg pounded 3 HRs and 8 RBIs
Dud: Kevin Youkilis hit .235 but managed only 1 RBI and 0 runs. Maybe the Curse of the Bambino is back...

CZC Owns: 0
Repubs lost in SD: 11
I think this was our first shutout of the season, and Repubs really killed it across the board. Looks like he won every category by a decent margin, and it wasn't even that CZC did that badly. CZC might have gotten some points out of the week if he'd played anybody else this week besides the Repubs.
Stud: Khalil Greene hit 3 HRs, and had 8 RBIs. Not bad for a shortstop.
Dud: Jeff Weaver in 2 starts combined for 10 IPs, 2K's and and ERA over 10.00

Akhtar the Divorcee: 8
Galt-inators: 4

Ahktar really got the better of Galt here taking 5 of 6 offensive categories. Galt tried to keep it close but got no help from his pitching posting 0 wins and 2 saves, losing those 2 categories as well.
Stud: Ryan Howard is a beast of a man. He hit 4 HRs, 6 RBIs, and 5 runs.
Dud: Aubrey Huff doesn't deserve the paycheck hitting .053 with only 2 RBIs. You gotta get more than that from your first baseman.

Columbia Cardinals: 4
Gashouse Gorillas: 7

This one seems pretty even as well, but Gashouse's solid pitching got him the win. He took 4 of 6 there winning the ERA, WHIP, and K's fairly handily. That plus pounding 10 HR's was enough to beat Cloumbia's blowout stat wins in SB's and Runs.
Stud: Alex Rodriguez (damn the Evil Empire!) hit .333 with 3 HRs, 5 RBIs, 4 Runs, and a SB
Dud: Claudio Vargas got killed going only 3 innings and giving up 8 runs. For those keeping score at home that's an ERA at 24.00

For previous results...
Week 1: GOP and College
Week 2: Cake or Death
Week 3: Fmragtops
Week 4: GOP and the City
Week 5: GOP and College

And next week's matchups are as follows...

41 insuregents killed in raids over the weekend

The final battle totals were 41 insuregents killed, 2 wounded, and 8 captured, while 4 innocent civilians were injured (all were treated on scene or at an American military hospital). We did lose 2 soldiers when the insurgents took down one of our helicopters.

American forces killed more than 40 insurgents, and a known al-Qaida operative, in five raids south of Baghdad.

Militants downed a US helicopter during the fighting, killing the two soldiers aboard, the US command said today.

[...] Four of the US military raids occurred on Saturday and Sunday around Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, the US command said.

American soldiers and helicopters killed 16 suspected al Qaida rebels, including one militant who allegedly had led an April 1 militant attack that downed an AH-64 U.S. Apache helicopter and killed the two soldiers aboard in the Youssifiyah area, about 12 miles south of Baghdad.

A new al-Qaida group had claimed responsibility for downing that Apache and posted a gruesome video on the web showing men dragging the burning body of what appeared to be an American soldier across a field as they shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great".

The terrorists drag the dead, burning bodies of soldiers through the streets shouting God is great and we are labelled as the evil ones in this battle. It's sickening...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Pakistan advises Iran on how to prevent attacks on their nuclear facilities

Well that's just fabulous... why don't you just give them nukes while your at it

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's former army chief says Iranian officials came to him for advice on heading off an attack on their nuclear facilities, and he in effect advised them to take a hostage — Israel.

Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg said he suggested their government "make it clear that if anything happens to Iran, if anyone attacks it — it doesn't matter who it is or how it is attacked — that Iran's answer will be to hit Israel; the only target will be Israel."

You want to know why our diplomatic talks haven't yielded any results? Because the Iranians and their wackjob of a leader don't understand a language other than violence. You can't have civil discussions with people who are going to lie right to your face and not care because they feel discussions of the kind are a sign of weakness. It's like going on a hunger strike to protest a murderous regime like Saddam or Stalin. They'll just kill that protestor. They don't care. Ghandi's peaceful protests worked because Britain was (and is) a civilized nation. They don't go around killing people willy nilly. It's a similar situation with the Iranians, Ahmadinejad, and the mullahs. You can't reason with that type of person, and their fundamentalist views only exacerbate the problem because they focus more on the afterlife (paradise and Allah's rewards) than they do their mortal lives.

As time goes on and Iran continues to stonewall the process, they are eliminating our counter options. Like I said earlier, this is going to end up like North Korea. "We aren't building nukes. We aren't building nukes. We aren't building nukes. Oops. I lied. We've got nukes."

Then we're up shit creek.

Will US National Guard be deployed to the border?

Apparently Bush is considering doing it as part of a immigration overhaul...

One defense official said military leaders believe the number of troops required could range from 3,500 to perhaps 10,000, depending on the final plan. Another administration official cautioned that the 10,000 figure was too high.

The officials insisted on anonymity since no decision has been announced.

The president was expected to reveal his plans in an address Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. It will be the first time he has used the Oval Office for a domestic policy speech — a gesture intended to underscore the importance he places on the divisive immigration issue.

I like the idea, and I think building a big wall might help too. The article questions the move based on cost of deployment and possible conflicts should the guard be needed for an overseas deployment, and those a fairly valid points. In the long run what's cheaper, building a wall to be monitored by border patrol and perhaps some national guard is necessary or stationing thousands of guardsmen there 24/7? We've been extensively using the national guard overseas, can we afford to take some of them from their active duties in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other future conflict to watch our border? Granted we're looking at some serious troop withdrawals from Iraq this year, but taking them from Iraq and putting them on the Mexican border is going to cost some moolah.

Oh, I've got an idea... BUILD A DAMN WALL. All other immigration reform is pointless if we've got a sieve for a border. I think national guard is only a quick fix; a good step in the right direction, but a wall will be permanent, and then the border patrol can more effectively monitor the area.

Highly enriched uranium found at site linked to Iranian military

But Wackypants Ahmadinejad still insists they need that uranium for nuclear powerplant and strategic sheep purposes...

VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. atomic agency found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian site linked to the country's defense ministry, diplomats said Friday, adding to concerns that Tehran was hiding activities aimed at making nuclear arms.

The diplomats, who demanded anonymity in exchange for revealing the confidential information, said the findings were preliminary and still had to be confirmed through other lab tests. But they said the density of enrichment appeared to be close to or above the level used to make nuclear warheads.

Riiiight. We're supposed to believe this guy? This is like North Korea all over again. They'll talk and promise and delay everything making empty threats and wild accusations to stall us and make us question our approach until we wake one day to Wackypants Mahmoud going "Neener neener neener, now I've got nukes and you can't touch me."

Not good people. Not good.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The fetching Mrs. Wookie has a parasite...

The prognosis is not good. She's been infected now for about 2 months and the doctors don't expect her to get better for another 7 months...

And of course after that it'll be hanging around for another 18 years...

All kidding aside, the fetching Mrs. Wookie is doing just fine. We'll be able to tell y'all a little bit more about that fuzzy looking thing in 10 more weeks...

You're invited to bowling/political debate hosted by Ahmadinejad

I never get invited to the fun stuff...

Mr George Bush, President of the United States of America:

For sometime now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international steel cage octagon of idea-thinkings? Here in which are being constantly debated, specially in political forums and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered, and there are many important midterms coming up! These thinkings and contradictions and debations have given me many important headaches. I am telling you this the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them, and in hopes that you have some Tylenol II.

Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God,

Feel obliged to go to the pancake breakfast at the Jesus (PBUH) mosque,

And also Bingo Nites,

Announce one’s opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs,

Make “War and Terror” into catchy advertising jingle,

And finally, Work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which will be governed by Christ and the virtuous Hidden 11th Imam, but only after they recombine as MegaMessenger to do final battle with the diabolical MechaJew.

But at the same time, make crusader attackings on countries; taking their lives and going into villages and homes and mosques to steal cherished family collections of IEDs?

Do not answer! This is a rhetorical question, and I am not finished.

Iowahawk certainly isn't finished. The post is almost as long as Wackypants Mahmoud's real letter, but twice as funny.

Go read the rest.

Procedural agreement reached on immigration measure

And Ted Kennedy and Harry reid are pleased with it. That ought to tell you everything you need to know right there.

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate reached an agreement on how to proceed with consideration of an overhaul of U.S. immigration policies, clearing the path for debate by lawmakers next week.

``Today's agreement is a major step forward,'' Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts said in a statement. ``I'm optimistic we can get the job done.''

Like I said, it's only an agreement on how to proceed, but Teddy "Hic" Kennedy is happy and that always makes me ill.

The proposed legislation would create up to 400,000 guest- worker visas for unskilled workers and provide a path to legal status for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Sigh. that sounds like amnesty to me.

NSA has been tracking US calls

Of course this means many are going to freak out and go crying to the ACLU to save them from the big bad government of that eeeeevil Chimpeachment Mcdeathitlenronbu$hOILiniburton, the unelected Chimperial pResident of the United Hates of SurveillazionaziKKKa also known as Dubya.

USA Today - The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

Now if you take the hysterical hyperbole out of those two paragraphs you get the meat and potatoes of the article, that the NSA has these huge computers compiling the phone numbers of calls placed and received looking for call patterns. That's it. They don't have thousands of analysts watching the phone calls made by Americans, or even listening to the calls between Americans. They aren't even getting personal information from the phone companies; no names or addresses, just numbers. You can take my word for it or you can read the rest of the article

[...] In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.

Sources, however, say that is not the case. With access to records of billions of domestic calls, the NSA has gained a secret window into the communications habits of millions of Americans. Customers' names, street addresses and other personal information are not being handed over as part of NSA's domestic program, the sources said. But the phone numbers the NSA collects can easily be cross-checked with other databases to obtain that information.

[...] The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., would not confirm the existence of the program. In a statement, he said, "I can say generally, however, that our subcommittee has been fully briefed on all aspects of the Terrorist Surveillance Program. ... I remain convinced that the program authorized by the president is lawful and absolutely necessary to protect this nation from future attacks."

Again, gross mischaracterization aside that these two facets of the Terrorist Surveillance Program are the same (I think most of us can see the difference between the NSA eavesdropping on a handful of international phone calls and not eavesdropping on domestic calls) we see that customer personal info IS NOT BEING GIVEN TO THE NSA. The article tries to make a big deal that the NSA could easily cross check the numbers to get that info. Two things here... One, is duh. Police and FBI get that information all the time in the process of conducting a standard investigation. And two, they get a warrant. You'll notice that the article conveniently leaves that nugget of information out of the article, because not saying anything about a warrant implies they don't get it, and that sounds a lot worse.

Oh and that the appropriate Congressional Committees were consulted again gets buried at the end of the article. In some 50-odd paragraphs, Sen. Pat Robert's comment on the program get stuck in about the 40th paragraph because that's not essential information. Or, more likely, it hurts the intended affect of the article, damning the Bush administration.

UPDATE 1 @ 2:21pm: PowerLine weighs in with two quick points.

One, as A.J. Strata points out, the USA Today article identified Qwest as the one major carrier that declined the NSA's request for cooperation. Presumably Qwest has now become the terrorists' telecom company of choice. Way to go, USA Today!

Two, it's obvious that what the NSA does with this vast amount of data is to run it through computers, looking for suspicious patterns, especially involving known or suspected terrorist phone numbers. I did a quick calculation: assuming that there are 200 million adult Americans, each of whom places or receives ten phone calls a day (a conservative estimate, I think), it would require a small army of 35,000 full-time NSA employees to pay a total of one second of attention to each call. In other words, lighten up: the NSA obviously isn't tracking your phone calls with your friends and relatives.

Yep. Leave it to the press to lend the terrorists a helping hand. The only thing else they could've done to help was actually hand a terrorist a cell phone with Qwest as a provider. He also points to this story that the British subway bombers placed calls to Pakistan just before striking. Might be nice to have some sort of plan in place to track phone calls looking for suspicious patterns of calls to, say, Pakistan. Maybe even listen in on a suspicious international call...

Might be nice if such a program existed...

UPDATE 2 @ 4:50pm: In from the Cold gives us some more detail about how "Links and Nodes Analysis" works.

Here's how the program works, according to media accounts. After 9-11, the NSA entered into a partnership with many of the nation's largest phone companies, including Verizon and Bell South. The companies provided information on calling patterns from millions of phone accounts; which numbers were called, how long the calls lasted, and the number of times a specific number was called from a certain phone. The effort did not include the actual monitoring of conversations by the NSA.

[...] Undeterred, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (who must believe that there's a secret wiretap on every phone) is already promising hearings on the matter. Another Republican, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, openly wondered how "collecting phone numbers" fits in with "finding the enemies." Give me a break.

The data mining operation fits in quite well, Senator. To win the war on terror, we need to track down the bad guys. They talk on telephones, and sometimes place multiple calls to the same number. Using that data, we can identify links and nodes in the terrorist world, allowing us to better direct our surveillance efforts, and eventually, neutralize that cell. If a number in, say, Pakistan is getting a lot of traffic from the U.S., why not monitor that number? The calls may be completely innocent, but they might provide a harbinger of planned terrorist attacks. This program is only a "threat" to Americans with Osama on their speed dial, or Zawahiri in their "friends and family" calling circle.

I guess I better stop calling Zawahiri with all the American Idol updates he keeps bugging me for... Man was he pissed Chris got booted...