Thursday, June 29, 2006

Supreme Court decision hamstrings the GWOT

And it's gonna bring every civil rights attorney in the country to the captured terrorists in Guantanamo.

In a ruling that served as a significant check on the powers claimed by Mr Bush to prosecute the War on Terror, the justices ruled that the controversial military trials at Guantanamo breached the Geneva Conventions and US law.

And the ACLU chimes right in and says if how we were prosecuting them doesn't fly then the prison itself must be closed too.

For a summary of how the administration has approached this we turn to David Frum.

1) The detainees are not prisoners of war entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention because the Geneva Convention regulates relationships between states and their soldiers: and al Qaeda terrorists are not soldiers of any state.

2) The detainees are not entitled to a regular criminal trial because they are not American citizens or residents entitled to the protection of the US Constitution.

3) They occupy a third status: illegal combatants who violate the laws of war and are subject therefore to the kind of drumhead justice that used to be administered to pirates in international waters.

See, now, that makes sense to me, but not to the Supreme Court. And since I'm not a legal scholar so I defer to others for some analysis, like Allah at Hot Air.

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
Afghanistan is a High Contracting Party, so the question for the Court was whether Al Qaeda operatives captured there are subject to the Article. Answer: yes. “But,” you say, “it says it applies only to conflicts ‘not of an international character’ and the war on terror is as international as they come.” Indeed — but the Court is reading “international” in its literal sense, i.e., “between nations.” Al Qaeda isn’t a nation. Which means no matter how global the jihad might be, so long as a jihadi is captured within the territory of a signatory to the Conventions, he’s entitled to the protections of Article 3. And what protections are those?
[T]he following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) Taking of hostages;
(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
You don’t have to worry anymore about Sullivan treating fake menstrual blood or droplets of piss landing on the Koran as torture. Even if it’s not, it’s “degrading” and therefore, per subsection (c), illegal. There’s no condition of reciprocity in the Article, either: unlike a contract, which dissolves for both sides if one party breaches it, we’re bound no matter how many heads AQ hacks off and irrespective of the fact that they’re not a High Contracting Party themselves. Amazing.

So if you're a terrorist and you're captured in a nation that signed on to the Geneva Convention you are automatically awarded the rights of a national soldier, even though you aren't necessarily a citizen of the country you were captured in and you are a member of any nation's military structure. Interesting.

What's sadder still is the affect this is going to have on the GWOT in general and our military in particular. Hugh posted this earlier...

From Polipundit guest milblogger Oak Leaf, on the Hamdan ruling, a sentiment that parallels reaction to the Congressional collapse of courage:

I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this.

Support by the military in the GWOT is going to collapse.

UPDATE: This opinion will go from a ripple to a wave throughout the uniformed military. We were slapped by John McCain last December. Today, we are slapped by the Supreme Court. This afternoon, I am removing myself from the volunteer list at Human Resources Command-St. Louis to re-deploy. I will not be the only one.

How do we really expect our men and women in uniform to react to something like this? How about the families who lost a loved one in either the war in Iraq or Afgfhanistan? Their son or daughter, friend or comrade died helping bring terrorists to justice and now those terrorists get rights they don't deserve and sertainly didn't earn. I can't blame someone for deciding to not volunteer to re-up when their time in the military is served if they feel the fruits of their sacrifice will be simply cast aside and thrown away.

Today the legal system has failed the US and her citizens. We are more endangered because of this decision.

UPDATE @ 5:01pm: Army Lawyer posts on the Hamdan decision as well and comes away disturbed by another factor in this decision.

Insofar as the Court reads this as requiring a court proceeding that specifically adheres to the court martial proceedings of the UCMJ is what’s important.

That’s the important point from this ruling. That the military commissions run afoul of Article 21 and 36 of the UCMJ. Article 36 requires military commissions to follow essentially the same procedures as court martials where practicable. What’s HUGE about this is that the Court makes it almost impossible for military commissions to proceed under anything other than the full panoply of rights and procedures accorded during court-martial.

[...] This is the huge development of the case, not the applicability of Common Article 3. This determination by the court that military commissions must marry up nearly identically to courts-martial procedures means that detainees receive the more protective due process rights that the UCMJ provides.

Again, giving rights to terrorists they didn't deserve and certainly didn't earn.

UPDATE @ 5:18pm: Captain's Quarters isn't as distraught over the decision as I thought he might be.

Stevens writes:

We have assumed, as we must, that the allegations made in the Government’s charge against Hamdan are true. We have assumed, moreover, the truth of the message implicit in that charge—viz., that Hamdan is a dangerous individual whose beliefs, if acted upon, would causegreat harm and even death to innocent civilians, and who would act upon those beliefs if given the opportunity. It bears emphasizing that Hamdan does not challenge, and we do not today address, the Government’s power to detain him for the duration of active hostilities in order to prevent such harm. But in undertaking to try Hamdanand subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in thisjurisdiction.
Shorter Stevens: Don't attempt to hold trials at all for GWOT detainees, and you will have no problems with us. That affirms the treatment of these detainees as POWs in some sense, but in that effort, it makes clear that these detainees have no rights to any court. Stevens only says that if the government wants to try them, then the government must use civil courts, a strange ruling nonetheless when one reviews the relevant articles of the Geneva Convention.

I'm satisfied with that agreement. Lock all of them up until Islamofascists surrender or die.

Surrender or die in prison works for me, but those as the only two options certainly won't last forever. At some point many of these terrorists will have to be tried, or perhaps extradited to their home country? I'm not sure how that would work, but with all the legal cards stacking against the president, indefinite imprisonment will only work until the ACLU takes that to court too...

UPDATE @ 5:28pm: Even the Llamas have taken a break from gratuitous gardening and musical posts to discuss Stevens decision.

My initial impression on the practical outcome of today's decision is there will not be any trials at all; unlawful combatants held at Gitmo and elsewhere will simply be held for the duration of the war-however long that will be which means they will rot in Cuba until their home country wants to take them.

A completely unrelated observation: the plurailty opinion by Justice Stevens is notable for the contortions it goes through to avoid the plain language of the Detainee Treatment Act which strips the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions from Gitmo.

The Llamas now resume their regular scheduled Melissa Theuriau oogling...

UPDATE @ 5:38pm: In from the Cold is less optimistic about the legal gambling the Supreme Court is doing here.

There is no way to mitigate the potential damage inflicted by his misguided decision. Take the legal antics of the Moussaoui trial (which lasted more than three years), multiply that by the number of inmates at Guantanamo, and you've got some idea of what's ahead for our federal courts system. From the district court to the Supreme Court, the system will be jammed with Al-Qaida suspects for years to come, each determined to create their own courtroom circus, and drag the process out as long as possible.

And who knows? If the Democrats regain the White House (and get a few court vacancies to work with), there's no telling what rights the SCOTUS may eventually confer on stateless terrorists. Meanwhile, every defense attorney with an Al Qaida client will mount their own, personal fishing expedition through U.S. national security files , in search of "evidence" to support their clients. Naturally, much of the information obtained in discovery will wind up on the front pages of friendly newspapers. Afterall, the public has a right to know, don't they? Bill Keller and the gang at the Times must be positively atwitter at that prospect.

An interesting point and it takes my surmise about every attorney in the country heading to Gitmo for legal frivolity one step further. I mean, it wouldn't be a trial without leaks to the press and other such nonsense...

UPDATE @ 5:46pm: Michelle linked to Andrew Cochran at the Counterterrorism Blog who has a very optimistic opinion of the ruling.

The decision is actually a huge political gift to President Bush, and the detainees will not be released that easily. The President and GOP leaders will propose a bill to override the decision and keep the terrorists in jail until they are securely transferred to host countries for permanent punishment. The Administration and its allies will release plenty of information on the terrorist acts committed by the detainees for which they were detained (see this great ABC News interview with the Gitmo warden). They will also release information about those terrorist acts committed by Gitmo prisoners after they were released. They will challenge the "judicial interference with national security" and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people. The Pentagon will continue to release a small number of detainees as circumstances allow. The bill will pass easily and quickly. And if the Supremes invalidate that law, we'll see another legislative response, and another, until they get it right. Just watch.

Interesting. I hope he's right...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Israel expands threat of military action to Syria

Damascus in particular, where an exiled Hamas leader has found refuge.

Scotsman - ISRAELI artillery and warships pounded the northern Gaza Strip last night as Israel began transforming an operation to rescue an abducted army corporal into a wider military adventure reverberating as far away as Syria.

[...] Haim Ramon, the Israeli justice minister, said that Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based chief of Hamas's political bureau, "as someone overseeing, actually commanding the terror acts is definitely a target".

It's interesting I had just heard that a course of action that was more specifically aimed at Hamas' leadership was viewed as a more effective deterrent than a broad invasion of Gaza by many Israelis. Dennis Prager had a guest this morning (who's name eludes me at the moment) who said that many in Israel felt that a few days after an invasion of Gaza, the mission to rescue Cpl. Shalit would be forgotten and Israel would once again be labelled as the evil occupying opressor by the world, once again blamed for the imaginary slaughter of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Palestinians. On the other hand a precision strike that takes Mashaal out(Mashaal was specifically singled out), could be just as effective as an invasion into Gaza, without the negative publicity.

I can see his point, but I still have to think that negative publicity is going to happen either way, so why not do both? Take out Mashaal, that scares the pants off Syria, and invade Gaza killing any Hamas terrorists in the way.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hamas unites with Fatah after Israel threatens full scale invasion of Gaza

**updated & bumped**

And that wasn't a bluff. There were troops on the border, ready to go. And do you want to know why that worked? Because, as I've said before, violence is the only language terrorists understand. How do I know this? Read...

TEL AVIV – Under mounting international pressure to free a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh closed ranks Tuesday by concluding a power-sharing agreement aimed at ending months of violent Hamas-Fatah fighting and laying down principles for talks with Israel.

The pact between Mr. Abbas and Mr. Haniyeh serves to prop up the political rivals at a time when a hostage standoff threatens an Israeli army retaliatory invasion of Gaza.

[...] Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official in Lebanon close to the organization's hard-line leadership in Damascus, criticized Abbas Tuesday for helping Israel search for the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who is believed to be held in southern Gaza, the Associated Press reported. Instead, the official continued, Palestinians should kidnap more Israelis to use as bargaining chips.

Emphasis is mine of course.

Innocent people are bargaining chips? Right... because the rest of the civilized world uses kidnapping victims as bargaining chips too... What a crock. I almost wish the Palestinians had called Israel's play, thinking the Israelis wouldn't actually invade.

UPDATE @ 8:57pm: I must be psychic...

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and knocked out electricity to the coastal strip early Wednesday, stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier.

[...] No casualties were reported in any of the attacks, marked by the first Israeli ground offensive in Gaza since it pulled out of the territory last summer, tearing down all 21 Jewish settlements.

The Israeli strikes came amid intensive diplomatic efforts in the Arab world and by the United Nations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to "give diplomacy a chance."

[...]Israel said only freedom for the captive soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, could defuse the crisis, not a political agreement.

You'd think Condi might be a little more sympathetic seeing how we were just looking for 2 of our young soldiers who'd been kidnapped.

Good luck Israel. I hope you find Cpl. Shalit alive and well. Too bad the rest of the world doesn't care.

US Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow hammers the NYT for exposing yet another terrorist surveillance program

Maybe I should just have a ready made post handy for the future, so I can get a quick post up every time the MSM exposes another method the government uses to protect us and keep track of terrorists. That way I won't be a day behind on the headlines...

Dear Mr. Keller [NYT managing editor]:

The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.

Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort.

That's only half of Snow's letter to the NYT idiots in charge; you should definitely read the rest.

Ace is also reporting that the lone government official that suggested the NYT commit treason and publish their article on the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program was none other than, the one and only, Rep. John Murtha. According to this interview posted at Hot Air, the implication is that everyone that Keller spoke to, Democrats and Republicans, from all levels of government told Keller not to publish the article except for Murtha.

That sonofabitch. If that pisses you off too, go donate some money to Diana Irey. Maybe we can replace Murtha with someone who'll support our troops and their mission not to mention the security of our nation.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hot Wing Conspiracy week 12 recap

It's my turn to host the official recap this week which is pretty fitting since my team stunk it up most of the week. I could have put up some better stats than my guys did last week. But before I get into that here's a refresher course on how the scoring works.

These are head to head games. 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. And whoever has the most statistical category wins, wins the game.

Wookies Will Win - 2
Poca Dots Blog - 9

Yeah, I got clobbered this week; there was even one point in the week where I was losing 12 to zip. Poca Dot put up some stellar pitching numbers, and on top of that my pitchers decided they'd rather start playing slowpitch softball instead, posting a fabulous ERA of 9.00. The offensive stats were more of a toss up. Poca Dots didn't run away with any of these catgories, but my guys didn't even bother to show up. So I basically gave him 5 of those six categories. Not even the return of Pujols could save me.
MVP - Maglio Ordonez caught fire hitting .476 with 2 HRs, and 10 RBIs. That by itself is half of my offensive stats.
Duds - Take your pick from my team... Chipper Jones, Garret Anderson, Phil Nevin, and Carlos Delgado all hit under .200 combining for 2 HRs and 5 RBIs.

Robots Eat Babies - 8
Akhtar the Divorcee - 3

If Robots has been spending as much time on waivers as Todd Zeile, it's finally paid off. These two had a pitching battle. Who'd have thunk Akhtar's 2.63 ERA and 1.12 WHIP wouldn't hold up to Robots' 1.45 and 0.91. Unreal. Then Akhtar did the same thing my offensive did, fell on their back with their skirts up over their heads. Robots took 5 of 6 there.
MVP - David Wright hit .333 with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs
Dud - Miguel Tejeda hit a fabulous .192 with no HRs and 1 measly RBI.

Baghdad Bombers - 3
Columbia Cardinals - 8

Another lopsided score, but this one was actually fairly close if you look at the stats. The Cards swept the offensive stats and the only category he really killed the Bombers in was average (.326 to .268). Pitching was pretty close as well, but Baghdad managed to take ERA, WHIP, and the lamest of all categories, Holds.
MVP - Lance Berkman was the cream of the crop here with 4 HRs and 8 RBIs.
Dud - Brad Lidge managed one save last week while posting an outrageous ERA of 15.00. Can't close many games that way...

RFTR - 9
Gashouse Gorillas - 2

Wow, people were either killin' it or getting killed last week. RFTR swept the offensive stats smashing 11 HRs while only hitting .259 overall. That's either really good or else the Apes decided to go easy on him and put in the 5th string. The Gorillas pitchers struck out a ton of people (44) and managed a Hold, but lost 3 of the remaining four categories to a great ERA (1.97) and WHIP (1.09).
MVP - We have a Richie Sexson sighting this week! He hit .438 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs.
Dud - Chris Shelton ain't so hot anymore. He hit .100 with only 1 RBI.

bRight & Early - 3
Galt-inators - 8

Galt's guys were really humming last week taking 5 of 6 offensive stat categories, the most impressive of which, to me, is on 18 strike outs. With 9 players on offense for a whole week you get nearly 200 ABs. Outstanding. Pitching was more evenly matched and bRight eeked a couple wins out there, but overall it was Galt's guys all week long.
MVP - Justin Morneau went nuts last week too hitting .435 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs.
Dud - Jose Guillen hit .056 last week. His one hit must have been his lone HR and paltry 2 RBIs.

webcats - 7
Repubs lost in SD - 4

This one was probably the evenly matched game of the week. The webcats ended up sweeping the offensive stats, but only by that last shot of steriods they took. They had only 3 more runs, 2 more HRs, 1 more RBI, and a better average by only .019 than the Repubs. The only category they ran away with (pardon the pun) was SBs. Pitching here however wasn't so hot. Repubs couldn't manage a win, webcats couldn't get a save, and both of them had ERAs in the 6's.
MVP - Jose Reyes must be on the Bonds juice hitting .613 with 2 HRs, 10 runs, and 4 SBs.
Dud - What's happened to Luis Gonzalez? .211 average, 0 HRs, and 1 RBI? This guy used to be a stud.

Right Wing Nuts - 5
PAWs - 7

The Nuts offensive really decided not to show up this week with only 1 HR and 13 RBIs. Ouch. PAWs had some good stats there and took 4 of six on offense. They split the pitching with some mediocre numbers ERAs above 4 and only 1 save combined. Perhaps if the Nuts took Gary Sheffield off the active roster and put him on the DL, he could have won this one.
MVP - We'll give this one to Jose Valentin who'd been around the majors twice now I think. .455 average with 2 HRs is why he's still playing.
Dud - Gary Sheffield. Sure he's hurt; that's not his fault, but he's on the DL. He won't help the team too much without any ABs.

CZC Owns - 3
fmragtops' spewers - 9

FM really had to battle for this one; CZC certainly didn't give this one up easily. CZC really pounded it with 10 HRs and 31 RBIs, but couldn't get much else goingg in many of the other categories. FM easily took SBs, both K categories, wins, and ERA. That left real battle for runs and WHIP which FM managed to take. Those 3 wins for CZC were enough to get him out of the cellar though. That's a step in the right direction.
MVP - Vernon Wells can do it all. .304 average, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 5 runs, and 2 SBs.
Dud - Alfonso Soriano usually a man among boys, wasn't so hot this week hitting only .115, 0 HRs, and 2 RBIs. Can you say slump?

So here's how the overall standings look. Despite the loss, I managed to keep my spot at the top thanks mainly to the fact that bRight lost as well. Webcats strong showing bumped him into a tie for 2nd with bRight.

And as far as the schedule for this week I think the toughest matchup could be the Baghdad Bombers vs. Akhtar the Divorcee. Two crazy, suicidal Muslims squaring off could be interesting...

Week 11 Recap
Week 10 Recap
Week 9 Recap
Week 8 Recap
Week 7 Recap
Week 6 Recap
Week 5 Recap
Week 4 Recap
Week 3 Recap
Week 2 Recap
Week 1 Recap

10 year High School Reunion

Seems that most people have a love/hate relationship with high school. They either loved it or hated it. It doesn't matter who I talk to, high school either tortured them or else they basically ran the school... there just doesn't seem to be much in the way of a middle ground.

And this obviously carries over for many people to their reunions. If they felt tortured in high school, volunteering to go to a reunion and possibly be tortured all over again must seem like insanity. Or else they grew out of that awkward phase, made something of themselves, and are looking forward to going back and seeing what messes the popular kids made of their lives after high school.

I of course don't really fit any of these patterns (what can I say... I'm special). High school wasn't a ridiculing experience, but I wasn't the sooper-dooper school stud-muffin either. For me high school was fun, and honestly I think it was because of the people I hung around with. I went to an all-boys private school in LA, so for me school was a giant fraternity and my friends seemed to be just like me. We were athletic and played sports, took classes seriously (as serious as you can in high school) and got good grades, and still liked to go to some of the parties and have fun. Before and after school was dedicated to sports, and even during our lunch period we playing football, or ultimate frisbee, or something. Basically, high school was fun, with classes squeezed in between.

So when the letters started coming in the mail about our reunion, I was excited. I've kept in touch with maybe a half dozen people from high school, and surprisingly not the ones I hung out with the most. And they were the one's I was looking forward to catching up with. After all, it had been 8-10 years since I'd seen them.

The reunion itself was a blast (an open bar is always a good thing). Ours was actually on the campus itself, not at a local hotel, but hey if you've got a beautiful, 100 year old campus on 20 acres in the midddle of LA, you'd host every party under the sun there too. But to my disappointment, only a quarter of my class showed up. I had a blast; don't get me wrong. It's such a mind-trip having faces and names appear in front of you that you hadn't even thought about in 10 years. And the fetching Mrs. Wookie had a great time too. After being forced to walk the entire campus to check out all the new construction going on in high heels, she wasn't exaclty thrilled. But she quickly became the most popular lady there, as I introduced her around and mentioned that she was pregnant. She got picked up on a couple times as well (what can I say... she looked hot).

What a blast. I can't wait for the 15 year...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Saudis foil terror plot, kill 6 terrorists

I guess they didn't want to be outdone by the FBI.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Saudi security forces have shot and killed six suspected terrorists in the capital Riyadh, the Al Arabiya television network has reported.

Security forces reportedly foiled a planned attack early Friday and a gunfight followed.

One policeman was also killed in the shootout that occurred in a western district of the capital, while another suspect was wounded, Al Arabiya said.

The seven were linked to the "deviant group" -- a label used by authorities to describe supporters of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, Reuters quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying.

"Deviant group"... that's either a very appropriate name for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, or else the Suadis have a serious case of denial.

I personally vote for denial, but I will give 'em credit for 6 dead terrorists. Hopefully they get some good intel out of the one that survived.

7 arrested in Miami for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower

Here are the seven, upstanding, young citizens themselves.

Five are US citizens, one's an illegal alien from Haiti (who says border security isn't important), and the last one is Haitian national legally in the country.

As the story turns out, the FBI gets a huge gold star for infiltrating the group and monitoring their movements all along. When the group tries to reach out to al Qaeda, they were actually making contact with an FBI agent. The group requested boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and cash to help him build a "Islamic Army" to wage jihad. They even reqiested to be sent to terrorist training camps. However, at the time of arrest no weapons or explosives were uncovered.

Hot Air has had some fantastic coverage of this series of events that began yesterday.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The earth's got a fever and all that will cure it is more cowbell

Well, almost. But if this isn't the biggest crock of steaming dog poo, I don't know what is.

Earth's Temperature Is Hottest in Centuries

WASHINGTON (June 22) - The Earth is the hottest it has been in at least 400 years, probably even longer.

OK, I can't let this go a sentence without a comment. Two comments actually. How the hell do they know what temperatures were 400 friggin' years ago!?! I don't think even our most sophisticated equipment will tell us if it was 2 degrees warmer back in 1606 than in other centuries. And secondly, assuming they can detect temperatures 400 years in the past and those assumptions are correct. if it's been a degree or two warmer before who's to say temperature shifts like that aren't normal? Can't your make centuries old temperature taking devices go back any farther?

The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia."

Ooh, they can see what temperatures were millenia ago! So what, they were 2, maybe 3 degrees warmer overall?

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is running a fever and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.

Again, if this has happened before, and could very well be part of a cycle of weather for the planet, how do we know it's humanity's fault? People have been around for a while. Why are things falling apart at the seams now? And FYI, earth's fever? Needs more cowbell....

The report was requested in November by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., to address naysayers who question whether global warming is a major threat.

As a naysayer, let me say I don't question that global warming is a major threat. Ice ages happen every few hundred millenia and kill most of the life on earth. That's a bad thing. I'm a naysayer because I think all the chicken littles running around screaming, "The sky is falling because of global warming! Global warming is our fault! We've got to do something like Kyoto and cripple the global economy!" are idiots. I don't think it's the fault of humanity that the temperature may be one degree hotter than 400 years ago. And other than common sense approaches to the use of water, energy supplies, and waste disposal I don't think we want to go messing with earth's climate and weather. It is what it is.

Then again, we could listen to Al Gore...

Al Gore says global warming is YOUR fault!

"He betrayed this country! He played on our fears!"

You don't say...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chemical filled munitions found in Iraq

For those of you keeping score at home, file this under "WMD found in Iraq." (warning, pdf)

We found 500 shells filled with degraded sarin or mustard gas. This was just declassified and made public via press conference by Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Intelligence estimates that more filled and unfilled chemical munitions still exist in the country. Reaction, however has been varied.

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Santorum, and Hugh expressed the extreme importance of this announcement and wanted to spread the news as wide and far as possible. Ace tries to figure out what exactly about this information really deserved classification in the first place. Is it liberals in the intelligence community trying to hide info beneficial to the president or us trying to hide possible connections between the munitions and their possible ties to our pseudo-allies the Russians. Allah over at Hot Air is a bit underwhelmed with the news what with Iran close to developing nukes and asks the obvious question about the political timing of the release since the Senate was just debating Iraq today and elections are only five months away. Hot Air also has the press conference posted as well. Michelle Malkin also wonders what took so long.

As important as the news is, I also wonder what took so long. This doesn't seem to be the earth-shattering, be all and end all of discoveries.

Still, better that we found them rather than the terrorists...

One of Saddam's lawyers killed

Now look people, I understand the sentiment, but we can't just go around killing lawyers, now can we? I mean, we could, but where would that get us? We'd just have a country with lots of dead lawyers...

Lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi, a Sunni Arab who represented Saddam and his half brother Barzan Ibrahim, was abducted from his home Wednesday morning by men wearing police uniforms, his colleagues said. His body was found riddled with bullets on a street near the Shiite slum of Sadr City. Police provided a photo of al-Obeidi's face, head and shoulders drenched in blood.

So I don't want anyone out there kidnapping and killing lawyers.

There's too many of them. It would take you way to long...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I think this is why the fetching Mrs. Wookie won't let me have a Playstation...

Stolen borrowed from Jenna via Lintenfiniel Musings via the Llamas.

Can Bush fulfill his 2004 promise to cut the deficit in half by 2009?

Let me shake my magic 8-ball here... "All signs point to yes"

And on top of that he might even be able to get it done three years early. (Thanks to Ace for the heads up)

National Review - More than two years ago, when President Bush announced his aim to cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2009, many critics guffawed. They called the goal an impossibility, a naïve and futile effort that would be undermined by the fat-cat Republican tax cuts. A Boston Globe headline declared, “Bush’s plan to halve federal deficit seen as unlikely; Higher spending, lower taxes don’t mix, analysts say.” An Associated Press story went out on the wire with the headline, “Bush goal of halving federal deficits draws skepticism, derision.” In that AP article, Sen. Kent Conrad, the top Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, was quoted deriding Bush’s plan: “It’s like so much with this administration in respect to fiscal matters, it’s all spin, all the time.” Former Congressional Budget Office director Robert Reischauer called the proposal “fanciful.” To Democrats, the AP reported, Bush’s goal was simply “laughable.”

But the critics are no longer laughing. Driven by a surging national economy, tax revenues are increasing and the deficit is rapidly shrinking. The president’s deficit-reduction plan looks like it will not only succeed, but will do so years ahead of schedule.

The country was facing the largest projected deficit in history when Bush promised to halve it as a percentage of GDP by 2009. Due to high wartime spending and the residual effects of the 2000–01 recession, the White House expected the 2004 deficit to reach $521 billion, or 4.5 percent of GDP. Bush’s goal was to reduce this to 2.25 percent by 2009.

After all the beans were finally counted, the 2004 deficit came in at $413 billion—roughly 3.5 percent of GDP. The economy had begun expanding, partly in response to Bush’s tax cuts, creating jobs and boosting revenue. This trend continued into the next year, pushing the deficit down to $319 billion in 2005.

This year, the projections look even better. Through the first eight months of this budget year, the deficit is $227 billion—16.7 percent lower than this time last year. That’s largely because government revenues in these eight months have reached $1.545 trillion, up 12.9 percent from last year.

Those are some shocking numbers. Now I agree with Ace, that I'd prefer he'd done a little more slash and burn through the tremndous bureaucratic fat in the budget as opposed to just relying on the strong economy and revenues from the tax cuts. But it's still working. Many of you, I'm sure will take that with a grain of salt. It is from the National Review, and that's a right of center publication. But Investor's Business Daily isn't. And they don't think it's a farfetched idea either.

Some on the left are debunking the "half" claim for two reasons. One, it's good news for Bush and they just can't let that happen. And two, the starting point was based on the 2004 projected deficit. Well, 2004 totals came back better than forecast. So if you're on the left, that means Bush was lying about what the deficit was going to be in 2004 so that he could reach his claim of half by 2009 (seems a bit farfetched to me, but that's never stopped the left before). If you're on the right it means Bush's economic policies helped jumpstart the economy quicker than expected. And if you're in the middle, who friggin' cares?! The deficit is still shrinking!

Interestingly enough I received a Democratic mailer from Barack Obama today who did much moaning and wailing about the Republicans politics of fear and interestingly enough, tax cuts.

This November, these efforts will culminate in a historic opportunity to bring back the America we dream of. When Democrats retake the Senate, we will show that we don't have to settle for the Republican agenda of fear and division anymore.

We don't have to settle for a Republican agenda that tells us we can find the money to give Paris Hilton more tax cuts, but we can't find enough to protect our ports or our railroads or our chemical plants or our borders.

First off, I don't feel afraid or divided, so I've no clue what he's talking about there. But more importantly, I can't speak for Paris Hilton and whether she got a tax cut or not, and honestly she probably couldn't either. She probably couldn't find the spot on an IRS form to fill in her name, to be perfectly honest. But that's why she has a tax team the size of Guatamala's army doing her taxes for her. I've got just one guy and his office staff of 2 who managed to find me enough to get me a nice chunk of change back from the gevernment. The point here is, tax cuts work. They give the people more of their money back, that they end up putting back into the economy. Then the government gets more money in sales taxes and taxable revenues of the large corporations that the left loves to hate.

IBD does still urge a cautionary note though... that "long-term growth in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid 'threaten to force either European-style tax increases, unprecedented spending cuts or unprecedented debt,' said Heritage Foundation budget expert Brian Riedl. 'There's no growing out of the long-term budget problems.'"

So let's get to fixing that social security debacle before it gets out of control, m-kay?

Missing US troops found dead

And it appears that they were tortured before they died.

BAGHDAD, July 20 -- Two U.S. soldiers missing since an attack on a checkpoint last week have been found dead near a power plant in Yusifiyah, south of Baghdad, according to U.S. officials, and Iraqi officials say the soldiers had been tortured.

Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Muhammed-Jassim, head of operations at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, said the soldiers had been "barbarically" killed. U.S. officials would not confirm or deny that the men, who were identified Monday as Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., had been tortured by their captors.

First off, our thoughts and prayers to the families of the two soldiers. These men were in Iraq, honorably fighting evil for the freedom and security of Iraqis. May you find some refuge in the greater good that they fought for.

As far as the retreival of the bodies, our forces were extremely cautious and cordoned off the area to bring in bomb squads in to check for explosives in the area. It's truly disgusting that we need to be concerned about things like bombs around the tortured, dead bodies of our fine soldiers or even that the bodies themselves may have been booby-trapped.

The WaPo article then goes on in an apparent attempt to compare the torture and murder of these two soldiers to the deaths of three Iraqi detainees while in US custody. Three soldiers have been charged in the deaths; they're alleged to have shot the detainees while in custody and are charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, communicating a threat, and obstructing justice. They contend that the detainees were trying to escape. Why defile the memory of two brave soldiers with the dispicable actions of, what on the surface appears to be, three bad apples that make up a tenth of one percent on the entirity of our armed forces? I'm confident these three will be given a fair trial and justice will be done, but to link them and the detainees that they killed to the terrorists and the US soldiers they abducted, tortured, and "barbarically" killed is shameful.

Hot Wing Conspiracy: Week 11 fantasy baseball roundup

It's that time of week again, and I'm happy to say that I managed to end the week victorious! Fmragtops has the full summary; here's his take...

The Rightwing Nuts - 3
Wookies Will Win - 8

Wookies rolled through screamin’ “I’m da Juggernaut B*tch!” Can anyone stop this fantasy juggernaut? Is there anyone that can keep the Wookies from winning the whole thing? Wookies must be on the juice! Seriously though, the individual categories weren’t that bad, but Wookies won 8 out of 12 with one tie.

MVP - Alex Rios scored 6 runs, 3 HRs, 4 RBIs, 2 SBs, and only struck out twice.

Goat - Albert Pujols for being a sissy on the DL. Okay, I have Pujols envy, so sue me!

While I'd love to sit here and say that I spanked the crap out of the Right Wing Nuts, we were actually tied going into the final Sunday. Clutch HRs from Dye and Nevin gave me enough of an edge in the offensive stats to take 5 of 6 there. The Nuts put up a hell of a fight; I was just barely able to squeeze enough out of my team to get the win. This also puts me back into 1st place in the league after a brief stint in 2nd. The Wookies are back on top baby! Alex Rios is a great pick for MVP and I'll give a game ball to Jermaine Dye for helping secure the win. While scapegoating Pujols is fun for some the dud of the week has to go to Bob Wickman for his 0 saves, 1 K, and stellar 13.50 ERA. And he was on my team...

Unfortunately, my family league game didn't go as well. I got absolutely creamed 10-0. I couldn't even get a tie in a statistical category. It was just pitiful. The only categories I really put up fight for were HRs and Saves. I ended up losing both categories 9 to 7. Everything else was a blowout. It wasn't pretty. The MVP was David Wright who pounded me with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs. The dud of the week had to be Manny Ramirez who managed only 1 HR, 1 RBI, and a whopping .056 average. Ouch.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bill Whittle strikes again!

If I could only write like this...

There was a time when intellectual meant someone who uses reason and intellect. Today, people who call themselves intellectuals are in a form of mental death spiral: they search for, and find, those index cards that support their world view, and clutch little red books like rosaries in the face of all external evidence. They are ruled by appeals to authority. Their self-image and sense of emotional well-being trumps any and all objective evidence to the contrary.

[...] Socialist intellectuals will tell you that Cuba is a model nation: universal free health care, near total literacy, and essentially no gap whatsoever between the rich and the poor. They call it an island paradise where brotherhood and compassion reign in stark contrast to the brutal inequalities of the heartless and racist capitalist monster to the North, ruled by its Imperial Nazi King, who is the devious mastermind of all manner of Conspiratorial Wheels and also a moron.

Capitalist intellectuals -– and there are not many, since most of these people have jobs -– argue that Cuba is a squalid, corrupt, poverty-ridden basket case, a land of oppression and secret police and torture chambers run by a megalomaniac who practices the most idiotic, inhuman and degrading economic system ever invented.

As usual, it's a long read, but well, well worth it.

Thanks to BlackFive for the heads up.

2 US troops captured in Iraq, massive manhunt in progress

These bastards have just called down the wrath of the world's foremost military. We will not rest until our men are found and these terrorists are brought to justice.

BAGHDAD — An umbrella group linked to “al-Qaeda in Iraq” claimed Monday that it had captured two American soldiers reported missing south of Baghdad as thousands of Iraqi and U.S. troops conducted a massive search for the missing men.
The group, called the Mujahedeen Shura Council, also claimed it had kidnapped four Russian diplomats and killed a fifth in Baghdad on June 3.

The message, which could not be authenticated, appeared on a website known for publishing messages from insurgent groups in Iraq.

“Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahedeen Shura Council kidnapped the two American soldiers near Youssifiya,” the web posting said. It did not identify the soldiers.

The U.S. Defence Department identified the missing men as Pte. 1st Class Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pte. 1st Class Thomas Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

An Iraqi farmer witnessed the capture of two and death of one of our soldiers by 7 heavily armed insurgents. Since the story broke on Sunday, the US has some 8,000 troops involved in the search and have thus far killed 3 insurgents and taken 34 others into custody.

Godspeed to the troops searching for their comrades, and our thoughts and prayers are with the two missing soldiers and their families as well as the family of the soldier who died in the attack that led to their capture.

Louisiana passes bill to ban abortion

Holy crap. Looks like that Roe v. Wade showdown might be coming a little sooner than expected.

BATON ROUGE, La. - Governor Kathleen Blanco has signed a bill banning abortions in Louisiana, but for it to take effect, the United States Supreme Court would have to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Roe v. Wade was the landmark decision that made abortion legal.

The bill Blanco signed would prohibit abortion, except when necessary to save the life of the mother. The bill does not include protections for women in cases of rape and incest.

The ban could also take effect if the U-S Constitution is amended to allow states to prohibit abortions.

I'm actually fairly moderate on the abortion debate. I think it's wrong, and I'd never even suggest that anyone go that route, but I believe that women ought to have the choice. I believe it should be much more restricted (no partial birth abortions; it should be restricted to the first trimester). And like many legal scholars I believe Roe v. Wade is bad law, and the legality of abortion should be left to the state. If the people of a state don't want abortion, they should be allowed to vote on it or have their elected representatives pass legislation to that effect.

So we'll see where the Supreme Court goes with this. Ought to be interesting...

UPDATE @ 11:48am: South Dakota has a strikingly similar bill pending (bans abortion in all cases unless mother's life is in danger, even in cases or rape and incest) that will take the matter straight to the voters in the November 7th elections.

As Saddam's trial ends, prosecutors demand the death penalty

It's a no brainer to most of us. Hopefully it's the same for the Iraqis.

Guardian - The prosecution in Saddam Hussein's trial today demanded the death penalty for the former Iraqi dictator and two of his co-defendants as closing arguments in the eight-month trial began.

Saddam, his half-brother and former intelligence chief, Barzan Ibrahim, and Taha Yassin Ramadan, another former senior regime member, should all be executed, the chief prosecutor, Jaafar al-Moussawi, said.

"They were spreading corruption on earth ... and even the trees were not safe from their oppression," he said, prompting Saddam to mutter a sarcastic: "Well done."

That's right, not even the environment was safe from Saddam... setting the oil fields on fire and destroying precious marsh land... That might even be enough for Al Gore to be in favor of the death penalty for Saddam (never mind the tens even hundreds of thousands he murdered).

Friday, June 16, 2006

Rep. Jefferson stripped of committee seat

I supposed that's the least they could do for taking a $100,000 bribe and stuffing it in his freezer.

WaPo - The House of Representatives today followed last night's decision by the Democratic Party to strip Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) of a plum committee assignment while he is embroiled in a federal bribery investigation.

The move by the full House came on a voice vote with no dissenters and no debate.

No dissenters and no debate. I guess it's kind of hard to debate facts like $90K in cash in you freezer given to you by FBI agents. Of course if they rolled over and gave up, what fun would that be?

Jefferson, who has denied any wrongdoing, was on the House floor at the time of the vote. He and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus were talking in a tight circle, according to the Associated Press.

Denied wrongdoing? What'd he think that money was for? Tax refund? And what do you think the "Black Caucus" was talking about... "Why the hell do they call us a caucus? That's racist!"

Last night's 99 to 58 Democratic Party vote followed weeks of public and private wrangling, as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sought to take a strong election-year stance on ethics, while Jefferson's allies -- mainly fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- protested that he was being singled out for unfair treatment.

Actually I think he was singled out because he took a bribe, but that's just me. Last I checked that's still against the law.

The bribery investigation involves Jefferson's alleged role in African business dealings. The pressure from Pelosi and others was stepped up when the FBI revealed it videotaped Jefferson accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from a government witness, explaining that he would pass it on to the vice president of Nigeria to assist in a telecommunications deal. All but $10,000 of the cash was later found in Jefferson's freezer in his Washington home.

And they got it on video?! That's awesome. I'm surprised that being stripped of his spot on Ways & Means is all they've done to him so far, although I'm sure that's just the beginning...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson resigns

There's apparently no controversy or shake up or political disagreements behind the move. But I love how the Guardian tries to make some up...

The Bush administration is facing a future without one of its most influential backstage figures today after Michael Gerson, the evangelical Christian who coined the phrase "axis of evil" and wrote most of the president's scripted words, announced his resignation.

Mr Gerson was originally brought on board as a speechwriter, to craft memorable phrases for a president prone to verbal gaffes. But his sway with Mr Bush soon exceeded his job title, and he is widely seen as having been one of the key architects of the administration's "freedom agenda", providing a religious underpinning for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The first two paragraphs and they've got to thrown in that's he's an Evangelical Christian and Bush is prone to verbal gaffes. What's the point of having either of those facts in the first two paragraphs? None.

Good luck Michael and thanks for some memorable quotes...

Hamas government minister stopped from entering Gaza with $20 million in cash

Gee... I wonder where that came from... And it's the second Hamas government official terrorist associate in the past two days.

Haaretz - A Hamas government minister returned to the Gaza Strip on Thursday carrying $2 million in his luggage.

It was the second straight day that a minister has hand-delivered large amounts of money to the financially strapped government. Officials said Information Minister Yousef Rizka turned over the money to the Finance Ministry.

Fearing U.S. anti-terrorism sanctions, international banks have refused to allow Hamas to transfer money electronically to the Palestinian areas. In recent days, Hamas officials have taken matters into their own hands, physically carrying donations in their luggage.

Apparently the Hamas government official terrorist associate had 12 bags at the crossing and was refusing to allow them to be opened. Needless to say the splodeydope associate left the border without his luggage.

Meet Zarqawi's replacement

Everybody say hi to Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

The Times - The US military today published a photograph of the Egyptian named to succeed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq...

[Major-General William Caldwell] said al-Masri was believed to have become a militant in 1982 when he joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, once led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda No 2. Al-Masri met al-Zarqawi in

Afghanistan in 1999, when they were both at the Al-Faruq training camp where he became an explosives expert, something General Caldwell said made him the premier manufacturer of car bombs in Iraq.

"He eventually made his way back to Iraq after the fall of the Taleban," he said.

In Iraq, al-Masri originally worked with Zarqawi in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah before moving south of the capital and becoming the al-Qaeda leader for the south.

"Raids in April and May of this year in the area of southern Baghdad recovered some materials confirming his high-level involvement in the facilitaton of foreign fighters and attacks in Baghdad itself," the general added.

And yes, we've got a 500 lb bomb with your name on it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Is this a worse disaster than Katrina?

No it's not tropical storm Alberto. It's $1.4 billion in bogus aid handed out by the government to "Katrin victims."

WASHINGTON - A FEMA official angered lawmakers Wednesday, after she cast doubt on a congressional study that concluded up to $1.4 billion of the individual aid doled out after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was spent for bogus reasons.

[...] The GAO concluded that FEMA was hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and a sex change procedure. Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.

[...]The investigative agency said it found people lodged in hotels often were paid twice, since FEMA gave them individual rental assistance and paid hotels directly. FEMA paid California hotels $8,000 to house one individual - the same person who received three rental assistance payments for both disasters.

In another instance, FEMA paid an individual $2,358 in rental assistance, while at the same time paying about $8,000 for the same person to stay 70 nights at more than $100 per night in a Hawaii hotel.

FEMA also could not establish that 750 debit cards worth $1.5 million even went to Katrina victims, the auditors said.

Among the items purchased with the cards:

-An all-inclusive, one-week Caribbean vacation in the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic.

-Five season tickets to New Orleans Saints professional football games.

-Adult erotica products in Houston and "Girls Gone Wild" videos in Santa Monica, Calif.

-Dom Perignon champagne and other alcoholic beverages in San Antonio.

Yep, your tax dollars went to someone's sex change operation, someone's champagne dinner, season football tickets, and a nice little vacation in the Caribbean. They couldn't even say where some of theie pre-loaded debit cards went.

In FEMA's scramble to not appear incompetent in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina (even though most of the blame should be on the shoulders of Nagin and Blanco for piss poor preparedness and crappy execution of a stupid strategy. See Jason Coleman's excellent Katrina coverage), they went straight to the first step in the government solution manual: throw money at the problem. That never works, and this is an even better example than our horrible, failing education system. I thought at the time that just giving away money was going to be trouble. I hate it when I'm right.

US-coalition forces lead huge offensive in Afghanistan

More dead terrorists...

Forbes - Fierce battles killed at least 30 people across Afghanistan on Wednesday as the U.S.-led coalition readied to launch its largest anti-Taliban offensive since the Islamic extremist government's 2001 ouster.

Officials said some 26 militants were slain in eastern mountains Wednesday, while a rebel ambush killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others Tuesday in the volatile south, where more than 11,000 troops have deployed as part of Operation Mountain Thrust.

There are some conflicting reports on exactly how many died in these skirmishes. Some articles say as few as 14, others as many as 30. Of course many of the headlines led with the deaths of US-coalition forces, and add the dead terrorists in as an aside, so whatever...

Iraqi government is taking the fight to the terrorists

Iraqi troops are outnumbering US troops by nearly 7 to 1.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister launched a security crackdown against al Qaeda in Baghdad on Wednesday but extended an olive branch to Sunni rebels who want to join the political process in a twin strategy to ease violence.

Backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, about 50,000 Iraqi security forces and 7,200 U.S.-led troops were deployed across Baghdad, setting up checkpoints and patrolling streets in the strife-torn capital, officials said.

My only concern is that the prime minister not cave in to the Sunni insurgents. If any had participated or aided in any way the insurgency or the reported "death squads," he better make sure they're rooted out and arrested. I don't want this to be a concession (read as "cave in") to the insurgency... an attempt to buy them off with an offer to particiapte in the government.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rove will not be charged in the Valerie Plame brouhaha

Which is convenient since he didn't do anything.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House aide Karl Rove will not be charged in the CIA leak case, his lawyer said on Tuesday in a much-needed boost for President George W. Bush's White House, which has been battered by bad news for months.

Freeing Bush's top political adviser from possible indictment on perjury charges allows him to concentrate on Republicans winning the key congressional elections coming up in November.

"On June 12, 2006, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove," Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in a statement.

Fitzgerald has already gotten an indictment from a federal grand jury against another top White House aide, Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

This of course doesn't prevent the left from going apoplectic over the whole affair. And of course, Howard "Yeeeaaaarrgg" Dean leads the charge on the Today Show.

"That does not excuse his real sin which is leaking the name of an intelligence operative during the time of war. He doesn't belong in the White House. If the President valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, then Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago. So I think this is probably good news for the White House, but its not very good news for America"
Never mind that the extra-sooper-dooper-sekret-spy Valerie Plame wasn't so extra-sooper-dooper-sekret and hadn't been so for nearly 5 years. But don't take my word for it...

The above opening to an Associated Press story caused weeping and wailing in the Democratic Party. They didn't get Rove. The piece went on to say that the Special Prosecutor has gotten a judge to issue a criminal indictment for "Scooter" Libby, former advisor to V.P. Dick Cheney, in this case. The truth is the agent in question was a paper shuffler at the CIA in Virginia, and hadn't been under cover for more than five years. The law relating to this "crime" further requires intent of a clear nature on the perpetrator's part. None of these or other sections of the law were violated by Libby, who like Karl Rove is only guilty of participating in the election of George Bush as president. This, according to the American Left, is a felonious activity in that like the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, diminished their power, which is theirs by tradition and birth.

[...]Neither Rove nor Libby can reveal (uncover for public viewing) a name which the agent and her husband revealed, themselves. (In one instance, as a result of their self-promoting appearance in a major East Coast magazine.) Of greater importance is the regulatory abrogation by said "agent" by recommendation of her husband for an information gathering mission to Africa. A trip to ask about Saddam Hussein's interest in yellowcake (uranium) ore purchases.

CIA agents are not allowed to promote relatives for such things.

Rove and Libby did not "out" Valerie Plame, Valerie Plame and her husband did, while at the same time violating agency policy. To top it all off, the husband did a crummy job of gathering intelligence, did not file a written report for the administration on his return but instead wrote a political piece about the whole affair (loaded with bias and inaccuracies) for a major liberal daily newspaper.


Surprise! Bush is in Iraq

Excellent. I hope that gives our troops there a nice moral boost: that Dubya feels it's secure enough, thanks to their hardwork, to visit the country.

WaPo - President Bush arrived in Baghdad today for a face-to-face meeting with new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- an effort, the White House said, to get a clear sense of the premier's priorities and how the U.S. government could help his government succeed.

The White House originally had said Bush was scheduled to be at Camp David and to hold a video-conference with Maliki this morning. Instead, without telling the Iraqi government or all but his closest advisers, the president slipped out of Washington last night and made the 11-hour trip to Baghdad International Airport, landing at 4:08 p.m. Baghdad time (8:08 a.m. EDT).

And after some chit chat ("Hey, I'm George, nice to meet you, Malikalikimaka... Isn't there a song about that? Damn it's hot here...) they get down to some real talkin'.

"I have come to not only look you in the eye; I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.

And it's in our interests that Iraq succeed. . . . And when Iraq succeeds in having a government of and for and by the people of Iraq, you will have dealt a serious blow to those who have a vision of darkness, who don't believe in liberty, who are willing to kill the innocent in order to achieve a political objective."
And Maliki replies with just as much passion for his country's success, not to mention a little gratitude...

"God willing, all the suffering will be over. And all the soldiers will return to their country with our gratitude for what they have offered, the sacrifice."
Now of course the left is going to get all squirrelly and start spouting off about political stunts, etc. I'm sure some of the crazies over at the DU have already started praying for an IED, but fortunately for the world we're going to continue to help the Iraqis kill terrorists. For their future and ours.

Hot Wing Conspiracy week 10 Fantasy Baseball round up

Here's the weekly results from the wonderful world of fantasy baseball. Public Figures Beware is hosting this week's play by play of the action. Here's how I fared...

webcats: 5
Wookies Will Win: 5
Wookies Will Tie, I suppose. The batting categories were split 3 - 3, but the Wookies hit 14 HR for the week (you would too if you were a Wookie). The picthing categories, therefore, went 2 - 2 - 2.
MVP - Two MVp's this week. Raul Ibanez of the Mariners playing for the webcats. 3 HR, 10 RBI, 5 Runs, 1 stolen base and a .357 BA. Also, Carlos Delgado of the of the Mets, playing for the Wookies. 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 Runs and a .391 BA. If I had to get techinical, I'd take Delgado as the MVP of the MVPs.
Goat - David Weathers of the Reds, playing for the webcats. A 12.00 ERA. That's it. Well done, Dave. Have fun in the minors, next year.

Yep. Another damn tie. Since Pujols went down, I've got a record of 0-1-2. Not good people, not good. Delgado was definitely the MVP for the week for my team although Bob Wickman gets a game ball. I was losing (yet again) 6 to 5 going into the final day. Wickman's save on Sunday pushed me into a tie in that category, resulting in the tie for the week overall. He saved my ass there...

For Webcats, Ibanez may have put up the big power numbers for the week, but since I won those categories, I'd give his MVP to Joe Mauer who hit a scorching .625 with 2 SB's and only 1K. Webcats ended up winning those three categories keeping the offensive stats in an even tie.

As it happens Joe Mauer's on my team in my family league, so he was a big help for me there. Even though I won that matchup 8-2, it was a lot closer than the score suggests. I only won categories by 2's and 3's here, so his .625 average, 8 runs, and 4 RBI's were critical.

For past recaps...
Week 9 Recap
Week 8 Recap
Week 7 Recap
Week 6 Recap
Week 5 Recap
Week 4 Recap
Week 3 Recap
Week 2 Recap
Week 1 Recap

Monday, June 12, 2006

Beer fights cancer!!!! Somebody pass me a pint, STAT!

This is the best news ever!!! And after the bachelor party weekend I went to a for a college buddy of mine, I think I'm about a week ahead of the game...

PORTLAND, Ore. - For many men, a finding by Oregon researchers sounds too good to be true: an ingredient in beer seems to help prevent prostate cancer, at least in lab experiments. The trouble is you'd theoretically have to drink about 17 beers a day for any potential benefit. And no one's advising that.

Researchers at Oregon State University say that the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland. The protein acts like a switch that turns on a variety cancers, including prostate cancer.

I hereby volunteer for future studies in this area... in the interest of furthering scientific reasearch, of course. (Attn. OSU researchers.... call me, I volunteer)

The 2nd best part about this study? Tomatoes have also been linked to prostate cancer prevention, so pizza and beer is the latest meal for the health-conscious. That is, quite possibbly, the BEST DIET EVER.

Other fringe benefits... drinking at work. Not only does it make your day go by faster, and make your boss less of a bastard, but you're doing it for your prostate health too! 17 beers may be too much for some guys to wait until happy hour to start drinking.

UPDATE @ 4:24pm : Finally! People doing research we can use! Coffee may combat alcohol liver damage! Can there possibly be a better pairing for the alcohol cancer prevention story? I think not!

Politics can be a dangerous game

And it the Palestinians killing each other in Parliament

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Hundreds Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas went on a violent rampage against the Hamas-led government Monday night, riddling the parliament and Cabinet buildings with bullets to protest an attack against their comrades in the Gaza Strip by Hamas gunmen.

The security men shot out the windows of the parliament before storming the two-building Cabinet complex, where they smashed furniture, destroyed computers and scattered documents. No casualties were reported. But the mob set fire to one of the Cabinet buildings, causing heavy damage as flames quickly spread.

Seems when dealing with a terrorist organization, the only language that reaches them is violence. Talking, negotiating, pleading... doesn't seem to work. I've said it before, but if I were the Israelis I'd be glad the Palestinians are shooting at each other as opposed to at me...

Why does work have to get in the way of everything...

I've got way too much other fun stuff to do that work just continually keeps me from. I've obviously got the blog; I could always use more time to post stuff here. Then of course there's streaming radio through the computer; I get to listen to my favorite talk radio (Dennis and Hugh) everyday. I've usually got my iPod with me, so if the talk isn't very interesting, I can scroll through my 3000 songs and keep myself entertained.

The new wrinkle in all of this is that I went by one of my coworkers desks last week and I saw he had the Padre/Brewer game playing in the lower right corner of his screen. I was amazed. He had purchased a month's pass to where he can watch any baseball game live around the country. I think I started drooling...

He gave me his pass, and I offered to split the fees for the rest of the year, so between myself and two other coworkers, it will cost me $20 for every game for the rest of the year.

So now I've got talk radio streaming, the baseball game playing (on mute), and my iPod right there if there's a lull. The only thing that slows any of this down is work....

Some question whether Zarqawi was mistreated by US troops on the scene

The only thing that mistreated him were the two 500 pound bombs we dropped on his head.

WaPo - Military pathologists said today that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader killed last week in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq, died of massive internal injuries caused by the bombs dropped on his hideout and was neither beaten nor shot.

Col. Steve Jones, an army pathologist, said at a news conference in Baghdad that medics attempted to treat Zarqawi after they arrived, clearing his airways, but that injuries from the June 7 blast to his lungs were not "survivable."

Zarqawi was "treated better in death than he treated others in life," added Major Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the military spokesman who presided at today's news conference. He "did lapse in and out of consciousness" but his breathing was shallow and labored all the while, until it stopped, and his pulse deteriorated rapidly.

As I said in a post last week once we discovered that he survived the initial explosion before finally kicking the bucket, I hope he suffered. But that suffering came from a big explosion... maybe you've seen the video.

It certainly wasn't from any troops that arrived at the scene. In fact in the conflicting witness statements, one statement reflects that Americans who made it to the scene first tried to give Zarqawi CPR, another says we tried to give him CPR with the butt of a rifle. I'm more inclined to believe the CPR without the rifle since our medical support teams in the field will always give the terrorists they see premium care, the same they give to our troops.

UPDATE @ 4:06pm: Hot Air posts an excellent celebration of Zarqawi's death (via In Training).

UPDATE @ 4:33pm: And al Qaeda in Iraq takes some time out of busy day of splodeydoping to pick a successor for Zarqawi.

"The shura council of al Qaeda in Iraq unanimously agreed on Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir to be a successor to Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said a statement signed by al Qaeda and posted on a Web site frequently used by Islamist militants.

"Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir is a good brother, has a history in jihad and is knowledgeable. We ask God that he ... continue what Sheikh Abu Musab began," it said.

Hello Musab. Nice to meet you. Don't worry we've got a 500 pound bomb for you too... In fact I bet there's someone in the Air Force putting your name on one right now.