Thursday, July 22, 2004

Congress

Unity of Effort: Congress
Congress took too little action to adjust itself or to restructure the executive
branch to address the emerging terrorist threat. Congressional oversight for
intelligence—and counterterrorism—is dysfunctional. Both Congress and the
executive need to do more to minimize national security risks during transi-tions
between administrations.

I had to laugh a bit here, dysfunctional, who'd have thought it?

• For intelligence oversight, we propose two options: either a joint com-mittee
on the old model of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy
or a single committee in each house combining authorizing and
appropriating committees. Our central message is the same: the intel-ligence
committees cannot carry out their oversight function unless
they are made stronger, and thereby have both clear responsibility and
accountability for that oversight.

• Congress should create a single, principal point of oversight and
review for homeland security. There should be one permanent stand-ing
committee for homeland security in each chamber.

• We propose reforms to speed up the nomination, financial reporting,
security clearance, and confirmation process for national security offi-cials
at the start of an administration, and suggest steps to make sure
that incoming administrations have the information they need.

I think these speak for themselves.

A point of contention

While I agree that all imformation should be shared within the various departments, I disagree with how the panel wants to do it.

The 9/11 story teaches the value of integrating strategic intellegence from all sources into joint operational planning-with both dimensions spanning the foriegn-domestic divide.

• In some ways, since 9/11, joint work has gotten better. The effort of
fighting terrorism has flooded over many of the usual agency bound-aries
because of its sheer quantity and energy. Attitudes have changed.
But the problems of coordination have multiplied. The Defense
Department alone has three unified commands (SOCOM, CENT-COM,
and NORTHCOM) that deal with terrorism as one of their
principal concerns.

• Much of the public commentary about the 9/11 attacks has focused
on “lost opportunities.”Though characterized as problems of “watch-listing,”
“information sharing,” or “connecting the dots,” each of these
labels is too narrow. They describe the symptoms, not the disease.

• Breaking the older mold of organization stovepiped purely in execu-tive
agencies, we propose a National Counterterrorism Center
(NCTC) that would borrow the joint, unified command concept
adopted in the 1980s by the American military in a civilian agency,
combining the joint intelligence function alongside the operations
work.

• The NCTC would build on the existing Terrorist Threat Integration
Center and would replace it and other terrorism “fusion centers” with-in
the government.The NCTC would become the authoritative knowl-edge
bank, bringing information to bear on common plans. It should
task collection requirements both inside and outside the United States.

• The NCTC should perform joint operational planning, assigning lead
responsibilities to existing agencies and letting them direct the actual
execution of the plans.

• Placed in the Executive Office of the President, headed by a Senate-confirmed
official (with rank equal to the deputy head of a cabinet
department) who reports to the National Intelligence Director, the
NCTC would track implementation of plans. It would be able to
influence the leadership and the budgets of the counterterrorism
operating arms of the CIA, the FBI, and the departments of Defense
and Homeland Security.

• The NCTC should not be a policymaking body. Its operations and
planning should follow the policy direction of the president and the
National Security Council.

I don't know about you but, I think we have enough govermental agancies. The FBI was set up to protect us from internal threats, the CIA from external. Since, in the case of terrorism, you deal with both, I think that departments can be set up within these existing bodies. The specific job of these departments would be to gather, coelate and give this information to those who need it.

On top of that, we already have a Department of Homeland Security that could be used for this purpose.

Are we safer

As I read through the report I will comment on the thing I find most important, it may not be in the order of the report but, it will be word for word. Also, with each thing I find of interest, I will write a new post and not update. My reasoning in this is, although this report speaks of one event, there are different areas worth discussing in seperate posts.

Are We Safer?

Since 9/11, the United States and its allies have killed or captured a majority of al Qaeda's leadership; toppled the Taliban, which gave al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan; and severely damaged the organization. Yet, terrorist attacks continue. Even as we have thwarted attacks, nearly everyone expects they will continue. How can this be?

The problem is that al Qaeda represents an ideological movement, not a finite group of people.

Very good point. We often say we are fighting a WAR ON TERROR but, what is terror? It's a group of people whose philosophy is, that the destruction of innocents is in line with them getting what they want. How do we fight a belief? A few ways.

1.) We take the fight to them, as we have done already.
2.) We find out why these people believe the way they do. This means we have to get into the heads of the people who hate us. We have to try and fight a philosophy that thinks we are expendable. And it means we have to try and change this belief.
3.) We take our case to those who may be neutral in this and show them why it is important to fight this.
It initiates and inspires, even if it no longer directs. In this way, it has transformed itself into a decentralized force. Bin Laden may be limited in his ability to organize major attacks from his hideouts. Yet, killing or capturing him, while extremely important, would not end terror. His message of inspiration to a new generation of terrorists would continue.

Another very good point. The capture of bin Laden means nothing, it would give us a shot in the arm and some pats on the back but, that's all.
Because of offensive actions against al Qaeda since 9/11, and defensive actions to improve homeland security, we believe we are safer today. But we are not safe.

Notice the distinction. Though we are safer, we are not safe. While we have disrupted and even killed some of the leaders, they are still out there planning. This is the one thing I think we should not forget.

Let's be honest for a moment. We can do all the things recommended in this summary, we can do everything everyone else thinks we should do, and still, we can be attacked. There are people who hate us, for whatever reason and hate, not love, is the greatest motivator. They will find a way to attack us so, we should be prepared for it.

9/11 Report

Just scanning over the 9/11 Executive Summary I came upon this.

Since the plotters were flexible and resourceful, we can not know whether any single step or series of steps would have defeated them. What we can say with confidence is that none of the measures adopted by the U.S. government from 1998 to 2001 disturbed or even delayed the progress of the Al Qaeda plot. Across the government, there were failures of imagination, policies, capabilities and managment.

The first thing that comes to mind after reading this is, all those people who said Bush could have done something, were wrong. Yes, steps could have been taken but, as the summary shows, even these steps wouldn't have stopped them.

The most important part of this statement is the last line. I hate this saying but, it fits here, we didn't think outside the box. We were wearing blinders because, we didn't expect this. We had tunnel vision and couldn't get out of the tunnel. Enough cliches.

The important part, NOW, is that we learn, we grow and we strive to do better than we did. We have made steps in this direction, we need to make more.

Be ALL that you can be

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan "Be All You Can Be," but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime.

The New Yorker magazine reports in its July 26th edition that members of all four branches of the U.S. military can get face-lifts, breast enlargements, liposuction and nose jobs for free -- something the military says helps surgeons practice their skills.

"Anyone wearing a uniform is eligible," Dr. Bob Lyons, chief of plastic surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio told the magazine, which said soldiers needed the approval of their commanding officers to get the time off.

Between 2000 and 2003, military doctors performed 496 breast enlargements and 1,361 liposuction surgeries on soldiers and their dependents, the magazine said.

The magazine quoted an Army spokeswoman as saying, "the surgeons have to have someone to practice on."

The things I could say about this article. I'll just go straight with it though. There are these places called hospitals, the military even has some for retired or injured soldiers, called VA hospitals, where these doctors can "practice". If these soldiers want plastic surgery, they can pay for it themselves.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

An open letter from Michael Moore

Dear Mr. Timmins:

I understand from the news reports I've read that, after Linda Ronstadt, one of America's greatest singers, dedicated a song to me from your stage on Saturday night, you instructed your security guards to remove her from the Aladdin, which they did.

What country do you live in? Last time I checked, Las Vegas is still in the United States. And in the United States, we have something called "The First Amendment." This constitutional right gives everyone here the right to say whatever they want to say. All Americans hold this right as sacred. Many of our young people put on a uniform and risk their lives to defend it. My film is all about asking the questions that should have been asked before those brave soldiers were sent into harms way.

He's right, she does have the right to say what she wants but, Mr. Timmins also has the right to have what he wants on HIS stage. He owns the Alladdin, he pays Ronstadt. He paid her to sing not to opine on the state of the world.
For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film, is simply stupid and Un-American. Frankly, I have never heard of such a thing happening. I read that you wouldn't even let her go back up to her room at your hotel! Are you crazy? For crying out loud, it was a song DEDICATION! To "Desperado!" Every American loves that song! Sure, some people didn't like the dedication, and that's their right. But neither they nor you have the right to remove her from your building when all she did was exercise her AMERICAN right to speak her mind.

Actually Mr. Moore, he had every right to throw her out of the building. You see, there is this thing we have here in America called private property. With that comes the right to have who we want on that property. She chose to use her American right and so did he.
Of all the things that go on in Las Vegas, this is what creates the need for serious action? What about the other half of the crowd at the Aladdin who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, cheered her when she made her remarks? Did you throw them out, too?

Why would he do that? Those were PAYING customers. Linda was being PAID. Do you see the difference?
I think you owe Ms. Ronstadt an apology. And I have an idea how you can make it up to her -- and to the millions of Americans you have offended. Invite her back and I'll join her in singing "America the Beautiful" on your stage. Then I will show "Fahrenheit 9/11" free of charge to all your guests and anyone else in Las Vegas who wants to see it.

Mr. Timmins, as the song "Desperado" says -- "Come to your senses!" How can you refuse this offer? I await your reply.

Yours,
Michael Moore
Director, "Fahrenheit 9/11"

Isn't that special? He will sing and show his movie for you if you will apologize.

Geebus, it must be nice to have a head that big. I do wonder how he walks around with it.

Now, my views on what happened. She was hired to sing, she was not hired to do anything but sing. She decided to do something. She now faces the consequences of that choice. I do think that Mr. Timmins went a little too far by not allowing her back in her room but, it is his building, he paid her and he had the right.

Berger

Former National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger yesterday stepped down from his position as adviser to Sen. John Kerry, one day after he publicly admitted taking classified documents from the National Archives.
"Mr. Berger does not want any issue surrounding the 9/11 commission to be used for partisan purposes," said his lawyer, Lanny Breuer. "With that in mind, he has decided to step aside as an informal adviser to the Kerry campaign until this matter is resolved."


Please. Let's be honest here. Berger broke the law and it got out and Kerry dropped him like a hot potato. Let's not paint it like Berger is being a bastion of integrity.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Classified?

ASHINGTON - Sandy Berger, former President Clinton's national security adviser, is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department after highly classified terrorism documents disappeared while he was reviewing what should be turned over to the Sept. 11 commission.

Berger's home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI (news - web sites) agents armed with warrants after the former Clinton adviser voluntarily returned some sensitive documents to the National Archives and admitted he also removed handwritten notes he had made while reviewing the sensitive documents.

However, some drafts of a sensitive after-action report on the Clinton administration's handling of al-Qaida terror threats during the December 1999 millennium celebration are still missing, officials and lawyers told The Associated Press.

Berger and his lawyer said Monday night he knowingly removed the handwritten notes by placing them in his jacket and pants, and also inadvertently took copies of actual classified documents in a leather portfolio.

"I deeply regret the sloppiness involved, but I had no intention of withholding documents from the commission, and to the contrary, to my knowledge, every document requested by the commission from the Clinton administration was produced," Berger said in a statement to the AP.


"Sloppiness"? No, Mr.Berger, you broke the law. You know though, this isn't the bad part. This man was the National Security advisor, don't you find it just a tad disconcerting that he doesn't know how to handle secret papers?

Friday, July 16, 2004

The White House strikes back

After years of statements like,

Republicans draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics, and now they want to write bigotry back into the U.S. Constitution.

And calling republicans neo-fascists, a crazed swarm of right-wing locusts and the white-people's party.

After calling the president a snake oil salesman. And saying blacks who supports Bush are, "ventriloquists' dummies." The White Housr finally shot back yesterday.

It really is disappointing to see the current leadership continue to repeat the hostile rhetoric that they have used, which really shows that they are not interested in a constructive dialogue,
Scott McClellan said yesterday.

Instead of speaking to the NAACP, the president will speak to the Urban League. Seeing that the NAACP hasn't actually advanced anything in years and the Urban League actually works to improve the economy of African Americans, I think the president has made a better choice of where to speak.

In an article written by Education Secretary Rod Paige, we see this,
"I have a message for the NAACP's Julian Bond and Kweisi Mfume, who have accused black conservatives of being the 'puppets' of white people, unable to think for ourselves.You do not own, and you are not the arbiters of, African-American authenticity.

It's about time someone spoke up.
How ironic that they would direct this vitriol at a president who has appointed more African-Americans to high-profile posts, has committed more funds to fight AIDS in Africa, has championed minority homeownership, and has supported more trade and aid for African and Caribbean nations than any other administration

But Mr. Paige, he's a repulsive republican. None of the good matters. Even if he would have spoken for the last four years at the conventions, we would still see the same garbage coming from them.
Through his education policies alone, President Bush has done more for the African-American community than any previous president, including the so-called 'first black president,' Bill Clinton, That's a secret some black leaders may not want millions of African-American voters to know.

Heh


Ted Rall is nuts

The Captain has an interesting post on Ted Ralls article yesterday on boycotting the military. I just want to comment on a few things Rall said, then you can go over and read the Captains post.

There was a time when service in U.S. military was honorable and professionally rewarding.


So, Rall doesn't think serving in the military is honorable. Jackass. What the people in the military have to sacrifice so that they can protect us and let this moron right the garbage he does, makes them more than honorable. It's easy to sit back in your office chair and write about something you know nothing about. I'd love to see this idiot walk up to a soldier and tell him this to his or her face.

As for the service being professionally rewarding, I'm willing to bet that, percentage wise, more people in the military find their jobs more rewarding than those in civilian life.

Americans with personal integrity should boycott the volunteer military and discourage everyone they care about to do the same.


Yes, those in the military have no personal integrity. And yes, let's everyone not join the military, it will make it easier for our enemies to come after us. Geebus, this man is words I will not write in a public forum.

Not only is working as a hired gun for the U.S. government bad for your soul, it's a bad deal financially. Starting pay in the U.S. armed forces runs about $12,000 per year, about the same as working at McDonald's. The much-vaunted tuition benefit is a joke: at a time when college costs an average of $20,000 per year, a two-year active-duty stint in the army gets you a maximum $7,500. And if some insurgent draws a bead on you, you'll be treated in shabby, overcrowded Veterans Administration hospitals until you end up on the street, out of work and out of luck.


Ah, being in the military is bad for the soul. Hmmmmm, how would he know? He's right, starting pay is low but, a person with less than 2 years of trainings pay goes up to right around $27,000. Please show me a job outside of the military where your pay more than doubles in 2 years.

Shabby hospitals? I've been in many VA hospitals and most are in better condition than civilian hospitals. Most VA's are teaching hospitals where a lot of breakthoughs in medicine happen. Of course, I seriously doubt Rall has ever been near a VA hospital but, that doesn't matter now does it?

I'm done, go read the Captain.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Voting delays

I've been mulling over the debate on whether it is a good idea to delay the elections in case of a terrorist attack. I have to tell you, I'm torn.

I can see both sides of this argument and, I agree with both sides.

Side 1.
It is important that we have rules in affect so that if, God forbid, something does happen, everyone gets the opportunity to vote.

Let's face it, September 11 changed many thing and we have to look at everything in a new light. If a terrorist attack were to take place just prior to or on the day of the election many people would be unable to vote. We heard a lot in the last election about the disenfranchisement of voters. How would this be any different?

Side 2.
The date set for presidential elections in this country is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. To change that would be breaking the law by ignoring the Constitution.

Both very good arguments so, what do we do?

As I sit typing this I think the only thing that can be done is, put it in the hands of the Few States. If the states think that there may be cause for worry, let them come up with a detailed plan on how to handle the elections.

Although it is a Federal election, it still comes down to State matters. If the Federal government were to do this, it would wrong. Elections are a state issue and should be handled as such.





Monday, July 12, 2004

The NAACP is mad

PHILADELPHIA -- NAACP Chairman Julian Bond yesterday delivered a blistering speech against the Republican Party, accusing it of "playing the race card in election after election."
"Apparently they think we really do all look alike," Mr. Bond said during an opening address at the 95th annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "To hear them, Martin Luther King and Clarence Thomas are the same man."
The address, which in the last several years has been scathingly anti-Republican, has also become widely anticipated and celebrated by the majority of association members since Mr. Bond became chairman in 1998.
Mr. Bond's statements fuel criticism from conservatives that the NAACP, despite its proclamations of nonpartisanship, has become a surrogate for the Democratic Party.

When are the people at the NAACP going to just admit they are part of the democrat party? Anyone with even a little bit of common sense knows they are.

Yesterday Kweisi Mfume said it is "unbelievable" that the president refused to attend their annual meeting. Um, DUH. Would you want to attend a meeting where, no matter what you do, you will be seen as an enemy?

McQ has more.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Ever had one of those days?

Today was a beautiful day so, my brother and I decided to go out on
the river for a couple of hours. When we got to the boat ramp, I
backed in and went back to the unload the boat and couldn't get the
tilt and trim to work. After playing aroung with the hydraulics for a
few minutes we finally got the motor in place and went out for about
an hour and a half. We started seeing some lightning so decided to
call it a day.

We get back to the ramp and a guy is backed in but not loading his
boat. We had to sit and wait and, of course, it starts raining so, we
decided to sit under an overpass while we waited for he guy to get his
boat loaded. The motor stopped and we couldn't get it restarted. It's
raing, lightning, and the tide is coming in. As we rapidly floatd down
river we dropped the trolling motor to try and keep pace with the
tide. My brother asked me to run the troll so he could look at the
motor, on the way to the front of the boat, I kicked the trolls lines
out, without knowing. A mile downriver I finally saw that the wire was
loose and plugged it back in. 45 minutes later we get back to the
ramp. We get the boat loaded and as I'm walking to get in the truck,
BAM, I fall on my face and break my glasses, again. When I get in the
truck I look over at my brother and crack up laughing.

I must admit, with all that happened, I still had a good time.

Joe Wilson Lied

Former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, dispatched by the CIA in
February 2002 to investigate reports that Iraq sought to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program with uranium from Africa, was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly.

Let's see what Mr. Wilson told the Washington Post Earlier this year and what he said in his "memoirs".
Valerie had nothing to do with the matter. She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip.

Wilson last year launched a public firestorm with his accusations that the administration had manipulated intelligence to build a case for war. He has said that his trip to Niger should have laid to rest any notion that Iraq sought uranium there and has said his findings were ignored by the White House.

And what a firestorm it was. Claims of lies made by the president, THOSE 16 WORDS, Saying the CIA had problems ith the intel, and saying that the intel we used was based on false questionable intel. Let's see what the commission found.
The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

The agency did not examine forged documents that have been widely cited as a reason to dismiss the purported effort by Iraq until months after it obtained them.

Not only did the panel basically back up the administration it's showed how decietdul people can be to get what they want. We'll discuss that in a minute.
The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."

Documents where the names and dates are wrong would be a bad thing. But,
Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong, when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports

OOPS!! It sometimes helps to read a document your discussing.

There are a few more things the committee said but, I gave you the most telling so, why would a respected Ambassador lie? I can thik of a couple of reasons.

1.) He disagrees with the way the administration is handling the war on terror.

That's okay. A lot of people have problems with the way the war is being handles. The difference? We aren't in a position to lie to the populace.

2.) Like a few others that have been proven wrong over the last year or so, he wanted to give press to the book he was writing.

What do you know, it was publishd this past spring.

Friday, July 09, 2004

IMAO blogiversary

Today is the second aniiversary of Frank J's site IMAO. And since it IS International Link To IMAO Day, I'll link to this post. Enjoy

Best Hair?

Jonh Kerry said the other day that he and Edwards should be voted for because they have the best hair, yes, I know it was a joke but, not so says the Wahl Clipper Corporation.

STERLING, Ill., July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- May the best candidate win, but
when it comes to the best presidential hair, George W. Bush has America's
vote, according to Wahl Clipper Corporation's 2004 Grooming Survey and First
Ever "Index" on men's grooming habits.
Despite John Kerry's recent claim that the Kerry-Edwards ticket has the
best hair, Wahl's survey found that the majority of Americans overwhelmingly
voted for Bush's hair over Kerry's (Bush -- 51 percent; Kerry -- 30 percent;
neither -- 10 percent; don't know -- 9 percent.)
"Wahl isn't choosing sides politically, but when it comes to what we know
best -- hair -- we're interested in what Americans think is a fitting
hairstyle for their president," said Pat Anello, Director of Marketing for
Wahl Clipper. "Whether you're running for president or running a busy
schedule, Wahl has innovative, quality products that make grooming easy."
The truth behind these and other hairy facts have been tabulated to form
Wahl's first annual Grooming Index, designed to benchmark the grooming
behavior and habits of American men (age 18 and over).
The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, is based on
telephone surveys of 1,009 adults, 18 and over (including 512 men) conducted
between May 6-9, 2004 with a margin of error among all adults plus or minus
three (3) percent (and a margin of error plus or minus four percent among
men).

Victor Davis Hanson writes,

Last week, the carnivore Saddam Hussein faced the world in the docket. There was none of the usual Middle East barbarity. The mass murderer was not hooded and then beheaded on tape, in the manner of al Qaeda. Civilization has come to Iraq.


Nor was the destroyer of Iraqi dissidents hitched — Saudi-style — to a Humvee and dragged to pieces through the streets of Baghdad. The pillager of Kuwait did not lose a limb on the precepts of a sharia-inspired fatwa. A young Saddam-like Baathist assassin did not break in and shoot the desecrator of the Mesopotamian marshlands in the back of the head. And a West Bank-like mob did not lynch the torturer of dissidents in the public square. Even al Jazeera, an enthusiast of the usual barbarity, was wondering what the heck was going on in its own neck of the medieval woods.

Surely, the slow emergence of real civilization in Iraq is one of the seminal events in the history of an Arab and Muslim Middle East that has had no prior record of either consensual government or an independent judiciary. Unlike Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, a global criminal is facing his victims in a legitimate court administered by the beginnings of a free republican government. The more Washington, D.C., insiders insist that the transfer of power was a meaningless construct, the more we are beginning to see the future shape of an autonomous, free, and civilized Iraq. Don't listen to cynical American reporters and played-out professors who laugh at the idea of civilization. Watch instead how dictators and monarchs in the region recoil at it all. After all, such autocrats have lots to worry about: 70 percent of the world is democratic; excluding Israel, 0 percent of the Middle East is.

In response to the historic events of the week, one columnist for the New York Times decried George Bush's pronunciation of "Eye-rack." Another pundit trumped that profundity by whining that Bush had written "Let Freedom Reign," rather than "Ring" — a verb that, had Mr. Bush employed it, she would most likely have denounced as a hackneyed cliché.

At a time when tens of thousands are risking their lives to end the barbarism that has spawned a quarter century of worldwide terror, the New York Times wishes us to know that its columnists can properly pronounce Iraq and really do remember that freedom "rings" more often than "reigns."


It's amazing how far the left will go to downplay any good news coming out of Iraq. We can look at it in any light we want but, facts are facts and some people just can't handle them.

Go read the rest of the article.

The man who would be president

In an interview with Larry King, John Kerry made the following statement.

KING: News of the day, Tom Ridge warned today about al Qaeda plans of
a large-scale attack on the United States. Didn't increase the -- you
see any politics in this? What's your reaction?

KERRY: Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time [emph mine -- CE]. But all Americans are united in our efforts to defeat terrorism.

I believe that John Edwards and I can wage a far more effective war on terror than George Bush has. I think we can do a better job of making America safe. But in these days ahead, we all join together no matter what.


He can't make time for a briefing about a possible attack on the U.S. but, he thinks he can be far more effective in the war on terror?

I'd like to ask Mr Kerry just how he would do that, seeing the an intelligence briefing isn't worth his time. I'd also like to ask him to state a position on anything and actually stand by it. Alas, I doubt that will ever happen.

It all comes down to a matter of who will do a better job. Believe me, I am no champion of Bush but, with him I know where he stands on the most important issue that faces this country. With Kerry, he doesn't seem to have time.

Why do we keep bothering with the French?

France says it does not support US plans for international sanctions on Sudan if violence continues in Darfur. The UN Security Council is debating a US draft resolution imposing sanctions on militias accused of "ethnic cleansing" against non-Arabs. ...

Some one million people have fled their homes and at least 10,000 have been killed in what the UN calls "the world's worst humanitarian crisis."

A rebellion broke out in Darfur early last year, when two groups took up arms, accusing the government of ignoring the region. ... France led opposition to US moves at the UN over Iraq. As was the case in Iraq, it also has significant oil interests in Sudan.

Mr Muselier also dismissed claims of "ethnic cleansing" or genocide in Darfur. "I firmly believe it is a civil war and as they are little villages of 30, 40, 50, there is nothing easier than for a few armed horsemen to burn things down, to kill the men and drive out the women," he said.

Human rights activists say the Janjaweed are conducting a genocide against Darfur's black African population.


The Sudan has been in a civil war for 20 years. Over the last year or two things have escalated to a monstrous point. 10,000 dead, hundreds of thousands forced to flee but, the French think it's all a few horsemen being bad boys.

Jebus!

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Edwards

I've been asked what I think of Kerry, henceforth known as Droopy dog, picking Edwards as a running mate. Simple answer, who cares?

He picked a safe choice. I think he made a mistake. He thinks Edwards will help him carry the south. I don't think so. He only won his state by 4% and he is on shaky ground there now. He is a trial lawyer, many people can't stand trial lawyers. Some see him as a charismatic speaker, others see him as a slick lawyer who likes to use words.

Kerrys choice, a bad one though.

The tables may be turning

I can't say this surprises me. I am surprised it took as long as it did.

BAGHDAD -- A group of armed masked men yesterday threatened to kill Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi, saying that he was murdering innocent Iraqis and defiling Islam.
Zarqawi is the prime suspect behind a wave of suicide bomb attacks, beheadings and other brutal acts, including a car bomb yesterday that killed 14 persons who were attending a wake for the victims of a previous attack.
In a videotape sent to Al Arabiya television, the previously unknown group, which called itself the Salvation Movement, ordered Zarqawi to leave the country immediately and questioned how he could justify the killing of innocent civilians and his threats to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The threat was initially reported by the Associated Press.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Did Saddam gas the Kurds

In a recent article Stephen C. Pelletiere wrote:

It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured."

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.


Yes, the DIA did a report immediately after but, in the last 16 years quite a bit of evidence has come to light that disproves this. The documents can be found here.

During the Iran-Iraq war the Kurds sought the help of the Iranians in their insurgency. Because of this, Iraq launched the Anfal operations. It started with bombing cities then moved to ethnic cleansing and finally, when these measures didn't work, Saddam sent his brother in law, Ali Hasan al-Majid, better known as, Chemical Ali.

39 seperate attacks were launched over a 2 day period, March 16 and 17 1988. In the city of Halabja alone, 5000 died. Many, to this day, are born with birth defects due to the gassing of the Kurds.

High Iraqi officials, including Vice-Premier Tariq Aziz, have since admitted using chemical weapons against the Kurds. Last year, Radio Free Iraq broadcast the allegation by a former brigadier general in Saddam's air force that the command to use "extraordinary" weapons against Halabjah came from the president himself.

I do find it funny that this man, all of a sudden, has come out with this information, even though it is false. 3 presidents, the U.N. and Human Rights Watch all agree that Iraq used chemical weapons. Thousands of pages of evidence show he used them yet, people are jumping on this story as if it were a gold strike. People talk about intelectual integrity, how about these same people gaining some.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Things to be thankful for

We have a lot to be grateful for in this country and we should all take time over this weekend to think about those who helped and who are helping us to keep that freedom. We can never thank them enough for the sacrifices that they made and are making for us.

We should be thankful for the oppurtunity to dissent. There are many things I disagree with with our present administration, I haven't shared them yet because more important things have been going on. I am very thankful that I have the chance to have my say. I can to it here, in debate groups, with my duly elected officials and in the voting booth. Never take for granted this oppurtunity, speak up and speak out.

We have the freedom to worship as we please. No matter if you're Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, satanist, etc... You can worship in your way in this country. Again, don't take this for granted, other countries of the world don't allow this.

We are the most open society in the world. We allow anyone, within reason, onto our shores. This can and has hurt us but it is a basic tenant of our belief as a country.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


I could go on and on but I think it's important that we all look at the importance and uniqueness of this country in our own way so, please take a minute to think about what a wonderful land you live in.

Happy Birthday America

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. --And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

--John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Friday, July 02, 2004

NYC's Freedom Tower Construction to Begin

NEW YORK - Nearly three years after the twin towers fell, a 20-ton block of granite will be set in place Sunday to mark the official start of construction on the 1,776-foot tower that will rise on the site of the World Trade Center But plans for the site are far from being set in stone.

Details in the design of the $1.5 billion Freedom Tower, announced last year as a compromise between feuding architects, are still changing. Trade center leaseholder Larry Silverstein still has not signed an anchor tenant for the 70-story tower. And a recent trial over insurance proceeds limited how much he can collect, prompting some to question whether all five proposed office towers on the site will be built.

Despite the uncertainty, Sunday's cornerstone-laying is "an incredible step for the rebuilding of ground zero," said Daniel Libeskind, the designer who conceived the site's original master plan.

The Freedom Tower is set to rise in a corner of the site that still holds the ruins of a parking garage. At 1,776 feet, a height meant to symbolize the year of America's independence, it will be the tallest skyscraper in the world.

This is some great news. I can't say I'm thrilled with the design, you can see the picture here, but the reasoning behind the concept is pretty cool.

I really am glad that it was decided to rebuild on the ground zero site. It shows the world that, you may be able to hurt us but. you will never keep us down.

Amtrak Workers Can't Walk Off Job

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Amtrak employees can't walk off the job to protest what they call chronic government underfunding of the passenger railroad.

Members of unions representing 8,000 of Amtrak's 21,000 employees said in October they'd call a work stoppage because Congress and the Bush administration wouldn't give the railroad enough money. Such an action could have affected intercity passenger service as well as commuter trains in some major cities.

The unions argued that the law banning strikes doesn't apply to the proposed walkout because it would be a political action that had nothing to do with negotiations over pay or working conditions.

The court disagreed, noting that Amtrak unions are engaged in negotiation or mediation with the railroad over new contracts.

"Call it a political protest rather than a strike; no matter," the court said, adding that federal law prohibits a strike as well as any union tactic that "has the consequences of a strike."

I have a very simple solution to this problem, turn Amtrak over to a private company. Let it live or die on it's on. Why in hell should my tax dollars keep going to this black hole?

To the above problem, the court is absolutely correct. You can call it what you want but, it is still a strike and government workers can't strike.

The Wid One dies

Marlon Brando, one of the most influential actors of his generation, has died, according to media reports on Friday citing his lawyer. He was 80.

A family friend told Fox News that Brando died on Thursday night at 6:20 p.m. (2220 GMT) in a Los Angeles-area hospital after being taken there on Wednesday. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Brando, with his broken nose and rebel nature, established a more naturalistic style of acting and defined American macho for a generation with classic performances in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), "The Wild One" (1953) and "On the Waterfront" (1954).

To many, Brando remained the motorcycle-riding rebel he played in "The Wild One." Asked what he was rebelling against, Brando replied, "Whaddya got?"

Brando won an Academy Award for "On the Waterfront" and another for his brooding, at times mumbling, portrayal of the patriarch of a Mafia family in "The Godfather" (1972).

But Brando also railed against Hollywood and chafed at the pomp of stardom throughout a stormy career. In 1973, he refused to accept his second Oscar to protest the treatment of American Indians and later professed not to know what had happened to the award.

In more recent years, Brando's brilliance as an actor was overshadowed by his eccentric reclusiveness, the turmoil in his family life and financial disputes.

Christian Brando, his son by his first wife, Welsh actress Anna Kashfi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 1990 murder of his half-sister Cheyenne's boyfriend. Cheyenne later committed suicide, in 1995, at the age of 25.

Brando, who was paid a then-staggering $14 million for his walk-on performance in 1978's "Superman," remained enmeshed in legal disputes over money up until his final weeks.

He poured millions into Tetiaroa, a South Seas atoll he bought in 1966 and where he spent much of the 1980s living out a boyhood fascination with Tahiti rekindled during the shooting of "Mutiny on the Bounty."

Movies, he said, he made only for the money. "Acting is an empty and useless profession," he said.

Still, Brando inspired a generation of beatniks and rebel actors, including James Dean.

"There was a sense of excitement, of danger in his presence, but perhaps his special appeal was in a kind of simple conceit, the conceit of tough kids," wrote critic Pauline Kael of the New Yorker.

"Brando represented a contemporary version of the free American," she wrote.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Saddam charged

Yesterday I posted on the turn over of Saddam Hussein today, he's been charged, the list of charges are as follows:

Killing of religious figures in 1974.
Killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983
Gassing of Kurds in Halabja in 1988.
Killing members of political parties over the last 30 years.
The 1986-1988 "Anfal" campaign of displacing Kurds.
The 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The suppression of the 1991 uprisings by Kurds and Shiites.

As I said, I think that he should be tried by the Iraqi people others disagree so, let's look at the charges indivually.

Killing of religious figures in 1974. This was done to Iraqi citizens.

Killing the Kurdish Barzani clan in 1983. Again, Iraqi citizens.

Killing members of political parties over the last 30 years. If you've seen the special on Saddam on the History Channel, you've seeen him sentence these men to death. Still, Iraqi ciizens.

The 1986-1988 "Anfal" campaign of displacing Kurds. If you call thousands of men disappearing, displacing, okay. This, although done to Iraqi citizens could be considered an iternational court issue.

The 1990 invasion of Kuwait. This is the only true international event that happened.

The suppression of the 1991 uprisings by Kurds and Shiites.Again, while this could be considered international, it was done against Iraqi citizens.

I'll make a deal with those who disagree with me. Let the Iraqis try him and if convicted, punish him, IF, there is anything left, the international court can have him.