Saturday, October 30, 2004

If Bush Is Elected...

then German director Wim Winders will no longer travel to America. Is that a promise? This just might be the endorsement that shifts the vote to GWB. After sleeping through a few Winders films I can only hope.

Lancet: Between 8,000 and 194,000 Iraqi War Dead. Thats Helpful.

Fred Kaplan splits open the much hyped Lancet study and reveals the sloppy and vague inner details.

Here's the Lancet quote:

"We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period."

Kaplan translates for those of us who slept through stats class.

"It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000."

Gee thanks. That's a big help. I could have guessed that for free and saved them the cost of the study. Dumbasses.

Democratic Underground Agrees with Bin Laden

I wish I was making this up. These are quotes from this Democratic Underground forum on OBL's speech.

Post 12 "Frankly, I find myself in agreement with most of what he says. I think it makes Bush and his family look evil themselves."

Post 22 "Why do we support Israel? Unconditional American support for that shitty little country is the single biggest reason for anti-American sentiment all around the world, especially in the middle east. I say we cut them loose."

Post 11 "I doubt very much that OBL hates the American people"

These quotes are from this forum titled 'Bin Laden: U.S. Can Avoid Another Attack'

Post 3 "Is this a Karl Rove stunt, a fake transcript of OBL that reads like a Kerry ad bashing Bush?"

Post 11, from a DUer with more than 1000 posts "Bin Laden's right. I've been saying this all along. If we knock it off, they won't bother us. ... I blame the politics of America for the downing of those buildings. We'll never have another terrorist attack again, if we just keep our nose out of these other countries."

Post 23, writing of OBL "The man is very intelligent, unfortunately many US citizens are not and do not see the whole picture. (Concerning the current Administration)"

Post 59, from a DUer with more than 1000 posts "All I can say about that is it makes me wonder if that tape really is authentic. If so, he's cribbing from our very own DUers, who have been saying for the past year, "Why doesn't he attack Sweden if he hates freedom so much?" Sheesh! He should at least get original material. That "fanatical Muslims" are perptrating these atrocities just because they hate our lifestyle is laughable in the extreme!'

I believe these statements speak for themselves. My comments are not required.

"The Era of Arafat is Over"

"Palestinian officials close to Arafat told CNN they have reached the conclusion that the era of Arafat as Palestinian leader is over."

He may not be in full control of his "mental faculities" and has lost the ability to "communicate coherently". It seems likely that the old villain has leukemia. Top PA figures are meeting to "determine a course of action and divide responsibilities." As if you needed more proof this is a clear indication that the PA is an organization not run by laws or rules or any impersonal structure but rather an organization based purely on personalities and power. There is no mechanism to replace the "President" in the event that he dies or cannot perform his duties.

My bet is that Arafat does not die soon but lingers on for some time, alive but incapacitated by illness. The PA will enter the realm of surrogate leaders acting on his behalf much the way Saudi Arabia is run now. These surrogates will lack the standing or power to make any serious decisions about the future of the Palestinian people. The PA will be adrift. Hamas will more openly challenge its authority, especially in Gaza leading up to the March 2005 Israeli withdrawl. Indeed without Arafat the PA may split into several factions, the central authority existing only on paper and for the cameras.

A semi-living Arafat is worse for the PA and the Palestinians than a clearly dead one. And possibly worse for the Israelis too.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bomb Plot Averted in Spain

"Spanish police have arrested 13 more suspected Islamic extremists in connection with an alleged plot to bomb the country's national court"

Spain has long since pulled its troops out of Iraq. To my knowledge there are not Spanish forces in any muslim nation. But OBL said in his tape today that only countries that attack muslims will be attacked in return, "why we didn't hit Sweden for instance."

So why are they still active in Spain? Today's message is high-grade bullshit. Regardless of any particular policy, regardless of any military action, jihadists will try to kill the infidels. Spain, because it is a former muslim nation. Not Sweden, because Islam and Sweden do not share a history. However they do share a future as migration and birth rates and conversion transform Sweden over the next two generations. Jihadists do not need to attack Sweden. They are confident of a long-term victory there.

This exposes bin Laden's true message: acquiesce or die.

My Response to the Bin Laden Tape


Not much nuance to that is there? It also comes in green and pink.

Bin Laden Admits to Directly 9/11 Attacks

"We decided to destroy towers in America." Will this end the stupid conspiracy theories? I doubt it, since the conspiracy theorists are mostly idiots.

On a serious note, we've seen two tapes in two days. There are so many questions. What is the significance of bin Laden's gold robe? Why did Al-Jazeera only air one minute of the five minute tape? I have to ponder all this. More later.

Update: Turns out the full tape is 18 minutes long. The NY Post reports that Al-Jazeer aired only 6 minutes but that on the unaired portions "bin Laden bemoans the recent democratic elections in Afghanistan and the lack of violence involved with it.

On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border."


Now why on earth wouldn't Al-Jazeera broadcast the rest of the tape? More importantly, why does Al-Jazeera still exist?

The League of United Nations

Martin Peretz, publisher of the New Republic and a serious Bush critic writes, "John Kerry speaks, not unfairly, of George W. Bush's habits of denial. But Kerry himself is in denial. He is in denial about the United Nations."

"The United Nations is bloated and corrupt, and its putrescence extends to the secretary-general's very family and his inner office."

It may be based in New York and with its pretentions of global importance look into the future, but the UN is haunted by an all-too-familiar past. "Yet, intrinsically and practically, it is following the path of the League of Nations. The League couldn't protect the rights of national minorities in the multiethnic states established at Versailles. And, in a sense, the U.N.'s culpability is even greater, since it often has a presence in the countries where the killings take place. As hundreds of thousands of noncombatants are slaughtered, the United Nations watches on the ground and dithers in New York while its diplomats dine out on their importance at the city's elegant salons and eateries."

Which brings me to the "scandal" of the week - the missing explosives. Of course the military should have secured that site. They should have secured a lot of sites. But for Kerry to claim that now the explosives are in the hands of our enemies is a load of crap. The explosives were in the hands of our enemies for years. Hussein was our enemy. What's more this is a perfect example of the failure of a "global test." The League of United Nations inspectors could have destroyed those weapons 8 years ago. The Clinton administration asked them to. But Hans Blix refused. He just padlocked the site and went home.

Rather than 400,000 tons of explosives at the disposal of the Hussein family, there are X number of tons missing and presumed in the hands of unknown terrorists, Baathists or Zarqawi and his band of serial killers. Don't get me wrong, any explosives in the control of murderous jihadists is too much. I'd rather they only had spitballs and rubber bands. But for Kerry to say that now our enemies have these weapons is fantastic nonsense.

Who does Kerry think put the explosives in that bunker? The Hussein military. Where did the money comes from? The Oil-for-Bribes program run by Kofi's family and buddies. Who inspected the site and knew about these weapons for years? The IAEA and that toady al-Baradei (not to mention Kerry's cousin, Brice Lelond, works for the IAEA). Who visited the site and cataloged the explosives but refused to destroy them? Blix. Note that "Bush" is not the answer to any of these questions. He was governor of Texas at the time. Kerry was a US Senator. Where are the records of his concern for the explosives in 1998? 2000? Where are the records of him criticizing the League of United Nations Oil-for-Food program that purchased weapons and bribed public and provite officials aroud the world, but especially in France and Russia? I haven't seen or heard a single peep from the man or his advisors on these issues.

Look, Bush may deserve blame for not instructing the military to secure the sites. But there is plenty of blame to go around, going back years and years. I'd like to see Kerry or any democrat blame somebody else for a change.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Al-Qaeda Terror Tape in English

ABC News aired snips of the newest terror tape earlier this evening. I don't yet know what to think of it. I've been looking around on the web for the full 75 minute version but it doesn't seem to be available yet. It was released in Pakistan last week, almost certainly timed close to the election. Currently I am of two minds on it.

One, this is a sign of Al Qaeda's operational weakness. Of course they would rather hit us with an attack that with a warning, not matter how articulate and well-produced. They do not have the capability to lauch an attack close to the election so they release this tape as a poor substitute.

Two, the tape is a prelude to a serious attack. Previous attacks have been preceeded by messages from al-Zawahiri or bin Laden. This tape included Arabic subtitles. Do those Arabic subtitles contain key phrases to trigger terrorist cells? Is the tape itself a trigger?

The election is in 4 days.

Holy Crapola! Drudge Reports Terror Tape Authenticated

Keep in mind this is Drudge. Nevertheless, the reports claims that "The CIA and FBI late Wednesday authenticated a disturbing new al Qaeda videotape which warns the next terror attack will dwarf 9/11."

This is the tape that ABC obtained from Pakistan. The masked jihadists on the tape may or may not be American Assface Adam Pearlman. More later.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Kerry on the Defensive?

Have I overestimated Kerry's strength? Has he peaked? Is Kerry playing defense? Today Kerry and Edwards were in states that Gore won in 2000: Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. Bush and Cheney were in Florida, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

A new LA Times poll put Bush up by 8 in FL and the race tied in Pennsylvania. A Detriot News poll puts Kerry up by only 1 point in Michigan. New Jersey may be tied. According to the 10/27 edition of the Note the Democratic Party "plans to divert "substantial" resources to Hawaii; their independent expenditures arm will be going up on the air there, as well as some of the liberal 527s."

The important thing here is that, except for Florida, Bush is playing on the Democrats home turf, looking to steal some votes. Kerry is not appearing in any Republican states. Except for Ohio and New Hampshire Kerry is not challenging any Bush states.

Kerry can take heart from the Red Sox who were down 0-3 and came back. Kerry can win but his margin of error in the electoral college is close to zero. Bush on the other hand has more states to play with. He can lose any number of states that are currently close and still keep his job.

Oh the drama.

Arafat BS Watch

Arafat is suffering from "exhaustion". Right, and I'm suffering from too much sexiness caused by an overdose of brilliance.

"The president is in satisfactory condition,'' Abu Rudeina told reporters in Ramallah. "He suffers from exhaustion and he needs rest and medical care.''

What the Arabic word for 'bullshit'?

Arafat: It ain't the flu

PA security forces are on high alert. You don't mobilize thousands of armed men over the flu.

Also, "Arafat's wife, Suha, who has been living in Paris for the past four years, is expected to arrive in Ramallah on Thursday." She would not leave her plush and expensive Parisian apartment to tend to her "husband" just because he had the flu.

The man is dying. It's only a matter of time now. The question is how long will it take? And will they tell us when he is dead? Remember that Brezhnev was dead for a considerable time before the Soviet functionaries let the public know. They even wheeled out the corpse for a few public appearances on the Kremlin balcony until the succession.

Update: Debkafile says that crowds are gathering in front of the Ramallah compound. An anonymous PA minister told the Jerusalem Post, "President Arafat is dying." A source from Fatah claims he is in a coma.

Breaking News: Is Arafat Dying?

An ambulance pulled up outside the Arafat's Ramallah headquarters and three medics entered the building according to Reuters.

Update: "Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and former Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas were summoned to the 75-year-old Arafat's bedside and met alone with him in his room, one official said."

Update 2: Arafat lost consciousness "several hours ago," according to Israeli public radio.

WaPo Gets the Electoral College Wrong

Dana Milbank needs to read the news and his Constitution closer (or WaPo needs to put Rant Wraith on the payroll). In an article headlined "Electoral College Calculus" Milbank writes

"President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry deadlock on Tuesday with 269 electoral votes apiece -- but a single Bush elector in West Virginia defects, swinging the election to Kerry."

Background: earlier this week West Virginia elector Richie Robb "says he might not vote for Bush to protest the president's economic and foreign policies." However, "Robb calls it "highly unlikely" that he would cast a vote for Democrat John Kerry. He said he might cast his vote for Vice President Dick Cheney or another Republican instead as a protest against Bush, meaning the president would lose out on one electoral vote."

Note to Milbank: Robb's defection would not directly benefit Kerry. In this scenario a 269 tie would simply change to a 269-268 Kerry lead if Robb voted for neither Bush nor Kerry. Remember, the Electoral College is not won by the candidate with the most votes. It is won by the candidate who wins a majority of the votes. A crucial difference. Here's the Constitution, Amendment XII:

"The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed;"

Fairly clear for an 18th Century document. But what if no candidate wins a majority, as in our scenario? It continues:

and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote. (emphasis added)

In which case Bush wins, since more States have Republican representatives than not.

Heavyweight Blogger Showdown: Lileks vs Sullivan

James Lileks smacks Andrew Sullivan all around the ring over Sullivan's 'I Support Kerry' article. Here are some of the juicier bits.

Sullivan is disappointed that the war has become "a partisan affair." Lileks responds with a solid uppercut on Sullivan, who was an earlier supporter of the War in Iraq. Read between the lines:

And let us shed a tear for those who believed it was necessary after 9/11 to knock off Saddam and establish a beachhead in the region ‘twixt Iran and Syria, but later ran away shrieking like freshly skinned rabbits because it had somehow, by some odd turn of events, turned into a partisan affair. What scared them off? Who knows? Just happened, I guess. Somewhere between the brutal Afghan winter, the interminable quagmire of the operational pause en route to Baghdad – all 72 hours of it - and the devastating supposition that the turkey Bush presented on Thanksgiving may not have been the actual fowl consumed by the troops, we realized that the war was all failure and lies and failed lies about lying failures, and we can’t do anything and the Plan was wrong and Mission Accomplished, yeah right. Oh, and We Support the Troops.

Sullivan claims that "in wartime, a president bears the greater responsibility for keeping the country united. And this president has fundamentally failed in this respect." Lileks lays into him with a priceless quote:

"Keeping the country united? Good luck. Imagine FDR running a war with a press composed of cynical snickerers who derided the president as a rich old cripple who thought the best way to defeat Tojo was a war in North Africa and preached defeat every day through the hard slog of the Pacific theater. Imagine running a war with an entertainment industry that declined to make a single movie about the conflict - why, imagine a "Casablanca" where Rick and Sam argue about whether America started it all because they didn’t support the League of Nations. Imagine a popular radio drama running through the early 40s about a smart, charismatic, oh-so-intellectual Republican president whose bourbon baritone mocked FDR’s patrician whine, a leader who took no guff from Stalin OR Hitler! Lux Soap brings you, The West Wing of the White House! Imagine Thomas Dewey’s wife in 1944 callling the WW2 a war for oil; imagine former vice presidents insisting that FDR had played on our fears after Pearl Harbor. Imagine all that."

Ouch. That's gonna hurt in the morning.

Nov 2 2004 - Is this the best we can do?

I note that two of writers I admire have come out for Kerry. I'm not surpirsed that Paul Berman did so. The author of Terror and Liberalism is a long-time Democrat who supports the War Against Jihad and seems to be holding his nose when he comes out for JFK:

"I'm voting for Kerry, with no great belief that he will be a first-rate president. I cringe a little at where Kerry's line on terror and Iraq has lately ended up."

The bigger surprise is Christopher Hitchens. He is even more reluctant that Berman. I think his vote is motivated partly by a desire to put the left to the test on the War:

Kerry's "election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq."

At this point I think that Kerry has a better than even chance of winning. I'm working in Pittsburgh these days and it looks like the state will go for Kerry.

If Kerry wins, the next four years will be contensious and ugly, filled with venom and bile. The Right will do everything it can to destroy Kerry, an effort that will make us long for the comparative calm of the early Clinton years. Unless Kerry pulls out of Iraq and opens an embassy in Tehran, part of the Left will disown him as a neocon in disguise. He will be hit from both sides. And since, as Hitchens puts it, Kerry has demonstrated an "inability to hold up on principle under any kind of pressure" he will try to please the hawkish Joe Biden-type Democrats, court the moderate McCain-style Republicans and palcate the Nancy Pelosi-Deaniac left. Best case scenario is for Kerry to have a defensive and ineffectual administration. He has made too many promises to have a chance of fulfilling even a portion of them. He can't please everybody but he can disappoint everyone.

Worst case scenario for Kerry is that there is an attack while he is in office, especially after the first 9 months or a year. The aftermath would be among the uglyist periods in US history. Forget the national unity of the post-9/11 period. People will be frightened and furious. The Republicans may begin impeachment proceedings. The press, which supports Kerry now out of anti-Bush passion but which has no love for the uncharismatic man, will turn on him. The average Joe may not follow the details of the dozens of investigations to follow but will know one thing: no attack during for more than 3 years with Bush.

If Bush wins things will be hardly any different. Part of the Left will collapse into despair and blind anger. Todd Gitlin warns that after a Bush victory, "In this overheated atmosphere, I would not be surprised to see outbursts of political violence the likes of which we haven't seen since the Weather Underground of the 1970s. The commitment to marginality in much of the antiglobalization movement would take on a tang of negative logic.

Quite a future for the next 4 years. Why are both these men so mediocre? Is this the best we can do? Perhaps we are enduring a period like the mid-1800s, when every president from 1837 to 1861 only served one term (those between Andrew Jackson and Lincoln), when the office was filled with such less-than stellar figures as Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. Perhaps the issues of nation faces are so vast and complex and the country so divided that it will take a major conflagration (much greater than we have yet seen) and a genius like Lincoln to resolve them.

All I know is, neither of these guys is Lincoln.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Electoral College Update

Wow, the race is a real nail biter. It's so close in so many places that I don't believe that anyone knows what's happening on the ground.

But, using this handy-dandy LA Times Electoral Map I have figured out roughly where things stand.

I gave each state to the leader in the latest poll (I fudged on Hawaii which is technically tied but I gave it to Kerry based on history). I left Florida out of the calculation for now. The two states that are tied, Arkansas and Minnesota, I also left out. This gives Kerry a 257-238 lead, broken down as follows:

Kerry: ME, NH, VT, RI, CT, NJ, NY, DE, MD, DC, PA, OH, MI, IL, NM, CA, OP, WA, HI. Note that I gave Kerry TWO of the so-called 3 Big Battleground States, Pennsylvania and Ohio and he is still 13 electoral votes short of the magic 270.

Bush: VA, WV, NC, SC, GA, AL, TN, KY, IN, WI, IA, MO, LA, TX, OK, KS, NE, SD, ND, MT, WY, CO, UT, AZ, NV, ID, AK. Note that I gave Bush Wisconsin, a long time Democratic state, based on the latest polls. He is still 32 votes short.

On my map Bush must win FL and either AR or MN. If Bush wins FL then Kerry must win both AR and MN. If Kerry wins FL then he wins the race. If Kerry can steal Iowa and win either AR or MN, then Kerry wins even if Bush takes FL [except if Bush wins 1 electoral vote from ME (which splits votes) then Kerry must win MN since AR doesn't have enough votes.]

Let's make it complicated. If Bush loses FL and AR but wins OH and MN and only one vote from Maine, then it's the dreaded 269 tie and the election goes to the House. What a nightmare, eh?

Can Bush win if he loses all the 3 Big Battleground States? Not unless he can somehow steal Michigan, which is highly unlikely.

If Bush 2 of the 3 Big Battleground States, can he still lose? Yes, if he wins the smaller states. Bush could win OH and PA but lose FL, NM, AR, MN, WI and NV and lose by 6 votes (5 if he gets one from Maine).

However, if Bush wins any of those states, it's over for Kerry or it ends in a tie and goes to the House where Bush wins.

You can get a sense of the complexity and the stakes. You can create scenarios where almost any state can tip the balance. Next Tuesday will be a long, long night.

Kerry in November 2001 "How do we turn our attention to Saddam Hussein?"

A must-read Kausfiles digs up November 16, 2001 Kerry interview with John McLaughlin:

"McLaughlin askes "What do we have to worry about [in Afghanistan]?"

Here's the last part of Kerry's answer:

I have no doubt, I've never had any doubt -- and I've said this publicly -- about our ability to be successful in Afghanistan. We are and we will be. The larger issue, John, is what happens afterwards.
How do we now turn attention ultimately to Saddam Hussein? How do we deal with the larger Muslim world? What is our foreign policy going to be to drain the swamp of terrorism on a global basis?" [emphasis added]

Stunning. Two months and 5 days after 9/11, 18 months before the invasion of Iraq, here is JFK asking about Hussein. So much for Iraq as diversion. What won't he say? I thought his mom told him when he started running for president, "integrity, integrity, integrity."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Scared Yet?


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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Why We Shouldn't Release Them

From the Comes As No Surprise category:

At least 10 detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay prison after U.S. officials concluded they posed little threat have been recaptured or killed fighting U.S. or coalition forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon officials.

"Reports that former detainees have rejoined al Qaeda and the Taliban are evidence that these individuals are fanatical and particularly deceptive," said a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico.

Indeed. They should be held indefinitely and we should ignore the pressure from foreign governments and human rights groups.

"We would fight America and its allies until the very end." declared one released detainee, Abdullah Mehsud, whose group is responsible for kidnapping two Chinese dam engineers in Pakistan.

Despite all this the spineless so-called human rights groups are unfazed. Although which humans and whose rights they are supporting is in serious question.

"This doesn't alter the injustice, or support the administration's argument that setting aside their rights is justified," said Alistair Hodgett, a spokesman for Amnesty International.

What exactly, by his standards, would?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Muslims Attack Pig Farms

These guys really, I mean really don't like pigs. From the AP thanks to Dhimmi Watch.

Muslims armed with machetes attacked several pig farms in Indonesia, slaughtering around 20 swine they claimed were giving of "offensive" odors, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday.

I certainly didn't help things that the pig farmers were Christians who have a nasty habit of building churches.

I feel validated regarding my apron . In honor of the poor farmers, enjoy a fine piece of pork this weekend.

Car Porn

Edmunds has a buffo review of the new Honda Accord Hybrid. With a 30 mpg city/37 mpg highway fuel economy rating and 255 horsepower it looks to be a fabulous ride. And by burning less fuel (it can go 600 miles on a single tank) you'll be doing two of my favorite things: saving money and sticking it to the Saudis and other oil thugocracies. Thanks Honda.

Military Occupation, Foreign Hegemony, Sham Elections, a Puppet Government

Corruption, oppression, a nation humiliated. Not that you'd ever know that from this AP story. Of course I'm talking about Lebanon under Syrian rule. I'm sure the protest rallies and League of United Nations resolutions are forthcoming. As they have been for 25 years and counting.

The New Republic Endorses John Kerry. He's Doomed

George W. Bush's astonishing contempt for empirical evidence and honest debate is producing a fiscal crisis at home, a disaster in Iraq, and a more dangerous world. John Kerry can do better.

Of course only a few thousand political geeks and old men (including the Wraith who falls into both categories) read the magazine.

Their endorsement is bad news for Kerry. TNR's track record of presidential endorsements is pitiful. Anderson in 1980. Mondale in 1984. Dukakis in 1988. They had back-to-back wins with Clinton in '92 & '96. But the curse returned with Al Gore in 2000. That makes the TNR editors 2 and 4 since 1980. Pretty poor.

If I was a bettin' man ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

French Get Serious, Expel Two Hijab-wearing School Girls

Give the French credit - they aren't taking much shit with those who are determined to disobey the law banning headscarves. Two girls were suspended in Strausbourg.

Two teenage Muslim schoolgirls have been expelled from their school for ignoring a controversial French law on the wearing of religious insignia in schools. ... There are at present 72 school students within the state school system in France who are currently breaking the new law, according to education ministry figures.

Dishonest Corruption

I'm in a restaurant/bar on Pittsburgh's South Side, the Tuscany Cafe on E. Carson. It has free wireless internet. I'm enjoying a fine beverage and a little light blogging.

An opinion piece in the WSJ nails League of United Nations leader Annan on the Oil-For-Vetoes scandal.

Mr. Annan did not actually deny that the Chinese, Russians and French had taken big payoffs from Saddam. Mr. Annan merely disputed that the Chinese, Russians and French would have delivered anything in return for the bribes. In other words, they may be corrupt, but at least they weren't honest about it.

Shahab-3: Now with Greater Accuracy

Not much blogging this week. I'm starting a new project in Pittsburgh. The company president was in town for the kickoff and I actually had to work.

I did want to note that the our favorite Nuclear Mullahs test fired a refined version of the popular Shahab-3 missile. It is more accurate than ever with a 1250 mile range.

Great. More blogging this weekend.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Cell Phone Jammers Used Worldwide but Not in U.S.

The "Israeli-made cell phone jammers the size of paperbacks" have been installed in Mexican churches, the Indian parliment, Italian universities and in theaters and concert halls in Japan. It's about freakning time. And they're coming to the U.S. soon, right? Nope: "the private use of cell phone blockers is illegal in the United States".

Why? Is there a right to a cell phone signal? Please, that's a leaky bag of wet shit. I want these things installed here in America. Not only that, I want one myself. I'll put it in my backpack when I travel. I don't want to hear people arguing with their girlfriends or discussing their herpes or who got laid last night. To quote the great philosopher George Kostanza, "We're living in a society here!"

Kerry On Spirituality, Bush on Cutting Back

Kerry: As you know, this nation is on the brink of an apocalyptic catastrophe. Civilization as we know it is hanging on by a thread. Our culture has collapsed, our economy is in tatters, the human spirit is extinguished, children never laugh, God is dead, and families like Dick Cheney's are ashamed of their daughters, one of whom is a lesbian. All of this is because of George Bush.

Bush: The first thing we need to do is cut back. I'm not going to have a flu shot this year. I'm not even going to take a Tylenol. I'm going to have a root canal right here on this stage without Novocain.

Kerry: Spirituality is important to me. I've always felt that we humans are insignificant maggots scuttling across the muck of the universe, and that life itself is just a meaningless moment of agony between the suffocating stench of the womb and the foul decay of the grave.

A Future Kerry Administration II

Loyal reader Mr Snuggle Bunny took issue with an earlier post where I argued the up-side of a possible Kerry victory. Mr Snuggle Bunny believes Kerry would become a "Leftist sychophant."

Certainly there will be a change in style and vocabulary and indeed in almost all the public and visual aspects of the presidency. But regarding the war on terror I don't see much room for change for several reasons.

First, Kerry can only replace political appointees, not federal government workers. The people who perform the actual labor will still be in place. The head of the FBI will change but the surveillance, investigation, and arrest of suspected terrorists and terror supporters will continue because the same careerists who are doing the surveilling and investigating will still be in place next winter. The head of the Justice Dept will change but the prosecution of terrorist will continue for the same reasons. Likewise with the Dept of Homeland Security, the new intelligence office and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The War Against Jihad is now a function of our government, there is an inertia to it, and it will continue largely beyond the reach of the top layer of political appointees. In this case the cliche that the government is like a supertanker is true: it is hard to change directions and harder to stop.

Second, after this election Kerry will be very sensative to charges of weakness. He will go to great lengths to avoid the Whimp label. If he yields to pressure from some quarters to, for example end the prosecution of some high-profile terror supporter, he will be playing to stereotype and tarring himself with the label he most despises.

Third, public opinion will not tolerate any softness on terror. Parts of the Left may long for an easing of the war but the broader public, while divided on Iraq, is unified on the War on Terror. As much as Kerry may wish, the public will not go back to the fall of 2000 when al Qaeda could kill 17 sailors and nearly sink the Cole and the U.S. not respond 'for lack of conclusive evidence.' Those days are gone along with other bad ideas like WebVan and Kosmo.com.

The lesson that Kerry and everyone else will learn from a possible Bush defeat is this: the country is so divided that the president has to do anything to keep his approval numbers, he popularity with voters high even at the expense of alienating part of his base (especially in Kerry's case where a large section of his base isn't voting for him but against Bush).

Thinking back since my first post I do think I overestimated the unity of the Left. Some on the Left are clearly irresponsible and will break with Kerry at the first opportunity. Clinton kept the Left in quiet while he passed welfare reform and other centrist programs. Bush did a good job of keeping the Right unified for the Medicaid drug bill and the No Child Left Behind bill, two big government programs that traditional conservatives should have balked at but didn't.

I doubt Kerry can do as well as either of his predecessors, for one thing because the Left is more organized and vocal and plain mad than it was during the Clinton years. Kerry will be caught between an angry Left who'll feel betrayed and an angry Right who'll despise Kerry for being Kerry. It will be an unpleasant four years for everyone, if Kerry wins.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Kerry's To Lose? Okay.

Jonathan Chait has an article up at The New Republic (I think you have to be a subscriber to view it) in which he argues that the election is "the race is now John Kerry's to lose."

Two main reasons. "First, pollsters have long believed that undecided voters tend to break against incumbents who are well-defined in the public mind." And undecided voters dissapprove of W by serious margins.

"Second, available evidence suggests that Democratic turnout will exceed what the polls predict."

This may surprise my handful of loyal readers but I'm okay with that. From my point of view a Kerry victory brings some welcome changes.

First, the Left will have to take some responsibility for the War Against Jihad instead of just bitching from the sidelines. When the terror alert level goes up during a Kerry administration the Left can't blame it on Ashcroft and the evil Republicans trying to scare people. When the FBI and Justice Dept continue to bust Muslims conspiracies in the U.S. they can't blame it on Bush's "obsession" with Islam. When our military still bombs targets in Iraq, they can't fume and scream about Rumsfeld. When Amnesty International demands that the U.S. release all the detainees in Guantanamo and the Kerry administration doesn't, the Left will be forced to either admit that the demand is unrealistic or blame Kerry for violating 'human rights'. Likewise, some of the U.S. Muslims who think that the Bush administration is "after" them will see that a Kerry administration puruses the same policies.

Second, the Left will have to take some responsibilty for our Mid-East policy. Kerry gives every sign of being just as pro-Israel as Bush. Some fringe players on the Left will not be able to reconcile that and they will descend into the netherworld of permanent Israel-haters. Others will see that Kerry is supporting the long standing U.S. position and reevaluate their criticism of Israel.

Third, the Left will have to acknowledge our differences with Europe. It's clear that even with a Kerry victory France and Germany aren't going to do dick to help us in Iraq and will probably resist any increased support for Afghanistan, where, despite peons to multilateral cooperation, we do must of the work with most of the troops. Again, the Left will have to reconicile themselves to the reality that no matter who is in the White House, Jaques and Gerhard won't help out.

I'm not native. I realize that Michael Moore will never admit he was wrong about anything. But he's a clown and a war-profiteer. I'm talking about reasonable Leftists, not Jeanne Garafalo. But it will be a refreshing irony to see protesters outside the White House hold signs that read "KKKerry" and "Baby-killer in Vietnam, Baby-killer in Palestine." Remember that the democrats aren't voting for Kerry some much as against Bush.

By June of next year they will start to see the flaws and limitations of their man. Some will shrug and bite their tongues. Others will protest against him just as they do against Bush when Kerry doesn't sign the Kyoto treaty or the International Criminal Court treaty.

Last, Republicans and my fellow anti-jihad bloggers will see that Kerry does not in fact lie down for the terrorists or pull out of Iraq. That the people may change but America's interests do not.

UPDATE: It seems that I agree with Andrew Sullivan on this and agreeing with Sullivan is rare for me these days. Still it's nice to know I'm not alone. He quotes RObert Kagan and Max Boot on the same subject. But he provides no links to back up those quotes. Yo, Andrew, it's the internet baby, HTML and all that. Wake up and smell the hyperlinks.

Former Head of American Muslim Council Sentenced to 23 Years

Abdurahman Alamoudi "also helped found the Pentagon's Muslim chaplain program and was involved in a variety of other Islamic political and charitable organizations."

The crime? ""He saw an opportunity make a buck in a murder-for-hire plot," Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven P. Ward." The target was the head of the Saudi royal family.

Here's the best part. "Alamoudi is a naturalized U.S. citizen who automatically lost his citizenship when he pleaded guilty to engaging in prohibited transactions with Libya, along with tax and immigration counts."

Friday, October 15, 2004

U.S. Muslims Feeling "Beleaguered"

From WaPo. Many U.S. Muslims are feeling "beleagured" and "discouraged". Three years after 9/11, "many Muslims say the atmosphere seems much bleaker. Anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be hardening into a permanent feature of public discourse."

"A recent national poll found that almost one-third of Americans respond with a negative image when they hear the word "Muslim."" After all the beheading and suicide bombers I'm impressed it's so low.

You have to get to the second page of the article before things start to get interesting.

"The Los Angeles-based Muslims Public Affairs Council has expressed disappointment that no American Muslims were included in the drafting of the federal 9/11 Commission report." They are also concerned that "no American Muslim occupies a policy making position in key agencies that deal with the Muslim world."

Now I wonder why that could be? The same day as this article, we get this piece from AFP. Trapped between duty and devotion - the US army's Muslims. It seems some Muslims feel "torn between their religion" and "duty to their country."

But some Muslims get it. Shahed Amanullah, a Georgetown University graduate student, said "he found the rhetoric of most Muslim leaders so "simplistic and naive"."

"I'm just so sick and tired of hearing that 'Islam is peace.' It's a conversation killer; it's an intellectual thought-killer. It's meaningless," Amanullah said. "Most Americans want to know that Muslims are dealing with our own problems even if they're not solved. What they don't want to hear is that everything is fine with us . . . this kind of denial mode."

Rock on Shahed. I couldn't have said it better myself. Good luck.

"Hey, You Can't Load that in Here."

Headlines from WaPo, "Europeans to Offer Inducements to Iran".

[T]"hey intend to offer Iran a package of inducements next week in hopes of persuading Iran to halt nuclear weapons development."

Meanwhile, "Russian officials said in Moscow that construction had been completed at the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran, and it hoped to sign agreements next month on shipping nuclear fuel to Tehran."

France, Germany and the UK just are following the Standard European Operating Procedure, the nuanced, diplomatic route, which will at best delay the mullahs nuclear development. But Russian is actually building the capacity for the Iranians to create weapons they will use to threaten Russia. In two years (or sooner) when Iran goes nulcear, I don't think they will just turn a blind eye to Russian assaults on fellow Muslims in Chechnya. It's stunning, really.

It reminds me of that scene in the first Terminator when he walks into a gun shop, selects several powerful weapons and asks for some boxes of ammo. The owner is excited, thinking he might close early with this big sale. Then the Terminator starts loading one of the weapons. The hapless owner says, "Hey, you can't load that in here."

Then the Terminator shoots him.

It's Ramadan, Infidels


The Rant Wear featured Ramadan product. It's a t-shirt. It's a baseball jersey. It's a sweatshirt if you get cold. It's a magnet, a button and a sticker. It's a pack of postcards to remind your friends and family. It's a shirt for infidel babes (made of 100% superfine combed cotton, it's body contoured and baby soft and comes in 3 colors). It's a flying disc (frisbee to my generation) for your decadent Western games. It's even a coffee mug so you can wake up and smell the jihad.

The War Against Jihad: It's Everywhere You Want to be - and Many Places You Don't. Order now, filthy infidel.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Kausfiles: Bush Upbeat, Kerry Near-Funereal

And Kaus is a (reluctant) Kerry supporter. It's worth reading.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Debate 3: First Impression - Bush Wins

Bush got better as the debates went on and Kerry got worse. Bush had the energy. He was on the offensive, gesturing, smiling, telling jokes, slapping the podium for emphasis. Kerry was stiff. Bush had several memorable lines, "a plan is not a litany of complaints," and "Kennedy is the conservative from Massachusetts." All of Kerry's memorable lines were reruns.

Bush won on the human warmth side: the story of how he met his (first and only) wife, his answer on the gay marriage question. Bush won on the 'turn the sound off and just watch the visuals' test. Kerry didn't do badly but it was the same performance we've seen. He made the classic mistake of peaking too early.

Maybe I'll think differently tomorrow after I sleep on it, but that's the rant for now.

Bush Loves Strong Women

and the diry jokes write themselves. But good response. The audience is laughing. And now it's the story of how Mr and Mrs Bush met.

Kerry's "We all married up" joke was a flop. I hope that wasn't planned. He did marry up. Way, way up. I don't know Bob Schieffer's wife (I met his daughter a few years ago on a congressional campaign) but I bet she wasn't a billionaire when they got married.

This is better than

I thought it would be. Don't listen to the pinheads who tell you that these things aren't substantial. It's not a detailed list of policies. It's a kind of shorthand. And look at the breadth of issues they have covered. They seem to be making real attempts to provide serious answers and to explore their clear differences. I'm impressed.

The jab and straight right combination

Bush jabbed Kerry with the Global Test. Pow! Kerry tried to defend and then Bush nailed him the straight right: Kerry's Gulf War vote. And Kerry walked into. "No war can pass the test in his view of the world." That put him on the ropes.

Bush is much more energetic

during this one compared to Debate 1. Kerry looks okay. I haven't seen him smile but he's never a very relaxed man. His eyes are so deep set that they are hidden is shadow sometimes. Kerry isn't nearly as animated as Bush. Maybe W had an extra cappuccino before this started.

The Increase in the Price of Gasoline

Kerry has mentioned the increased cost of gas several times now. Newsflash people: the time will come, sooner or later, when we will look back on $1.95 a gallon with nostalgia, as the 'good old days.'

Trillions. X% of Gagillions. Future Zillions

I'm afraid this Social Security q&a is too abstact for most people. Me included. These guys make it more complicated because they just can't be honest - people have to work longer, pay more and receive fewer benefits. Period. I know it's painful and ugly but it is what it is. But Joe Average doesn't want to hear that so these guys dance around the answer in this complex trillion-zillion-gagillion shit.

"Kennedy is the conservative Senator from Massachusetts."

Ouch.

Bush is hammering Kerry with his votes. Again and again. 8 and 217. He just broke the rules (technically) when he addressed Kerry directly. "Those are your votes." Kerry is on the defense.

Kerry: I Don't Blame Him Entirely

A rare moment of candor. "I will make the playing field as fair as possible."

Good answer for Kerry. He acknowledges that outsourcing will happen but wants to limit and take on foreign competitors.

How does his aggressive stance on trade match with his pro-alliance stance on the war? I agree that we should be tougher with Airbus but how will this persuade France and Germany to join us on the battlefield?

Split Screen View

Notice how Bush is staring at Kerry when Kerry is speaking. All the bad posture and smirking from Debate One is gone. His team has whipped Bush into shape for this one. He's disciplined when he's not talking.

Kerry: Prez turned his back on the wellness of US

He answers the vaccine question into an attack on lack on insurance. But Bush is on the case, "A plan is not a litany of complaints. His plan is an empty promise."

Kerry chooses Blue Cross. "We not giving this away for nothing." Is this an opening to ask how much will it cost the "average American"?

Bush: Vaccine Shortage

Vaccine producers are afraid of being sued so we rely on foreign suppliers. Good judo. Turned the question into an attack on a different subject.

Debate 3. Kerry: Are we as safe as we ought to be?

The answer will always be No. We never have been and we never will be "as safe as we ought to be."

Sure, and Kerry is an Android from the Future

Salon must be getting desperate for readers. There's a story citing an "expert" who claims that Bush was using a "hidden electronic device" during the debate last Friday. The so-called evidence used to back up these fevered fantasies are pictures from the debates that show shapes under his jacket.

First, as Whizbang points out, if Bush was wired by the Secret Service, they would provide a much smaller device, one that would be essentially invisible. Even a tailor quoted in the article said he do a better job hidding a device. "I can hide a pistol under the breast."

All that aside, think about. The charge is this: that Bush was wired to someone offsite who was feeding him answers to questions from the audience and responses to statements from Kerry, all in real time, so that Bush could provide appropriate answers to a live nationwide audience of millions. Do the conspiracy theorists grasp how hard it would be for Bush and the person on the other end of the transmitter to do this? No one knows the questions until they are asked. Watch the fucking tape. Did he ever touch his ear to focus on the voice in his head? Bush provided answers lasting one minute and longer. He would have to listen to the answer in his "hidden ear piece" and begin repeating it as it was still being fed to him. All the while reacting to the audience members, the moderator and Kerry. What tremendous skill!

Try it at home conspiracy boy. Stand up in front of your friends. Put on headphones. Play an audio book on your iPod and repeat what the book says for one minute while engaging the people in front of you with eye contact and gestures that fit what you are saying. Pause. Then do it repeat those steps for 90 fucking minutes! Now imagine the lights, the stage, and the fact that you don't know the questions until they are asked. Holy shit! If Bush could pull this off he'd be the kind of genius people claim he isn't.

Please. This is just sad. The man can be accused of a lot, but this story has more holes in it than a Pamela Anderson movie.

Democratic Senator closes Capitol Hill office on terror fears

What exectly did he see in those classified docs?

US Democratic Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota has closed his Capitol Hill office and sent his staff home, arguing he had grown very concerned about the possibility of a pre-election terrorist attack on congressional buildings after reading classified documents.

Sounds like this is more than a nuisance.

"I do so out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents," Dayton told reporters.

This is a Democratic Senator, nor a "fear-mongering neocon nutjob" of leftist fantasies. I don't think he would send his staff home if the Capitol was threatened by prostitutes or gangsters.

Native Danes Joining Islamist Group in Denmark

An Islamic extremist group is successfully recruiting native Danes, the Copenhagen Post reports.

Controversial Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir is recruiting new converts among young people who have lost faith in Western values since the Iraq war.

Obviously their faith was pretty shaky to begin with but this is another example of the ideological nature of the Global War Against Jihad.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Rant Wear Featured Product - the Apron


My pro-pork, anti-jihad apron. On sale now along with many other unusual products at Rant Wear.

Capability and Intent

Belmont Club has another excellent post, this one about the decapitation of Kenneth Bigely. The essence of the post is in this quote:

Radical Islam is self-evidently at war with the West because their efforts are limited only by their capability. And the West is just as clearly not yet at war with radical Islam because its actions are still limited by its intent. Zarqawi sawed off Bigley's head simply because he could; America spares Fallujah from choice.

How true. We are self-limiting. They aren't. As long as this is the case, the Islamists can keep up their games with the infidels of the decadent West. They can make political pawns of British hostages and manipulate the British public into weapy passivism ("the entire city of Liverpool going into a week of Dianysian emotional masturbation over some deceased prodigal son with no inclination to return whom none of the massed ranks of weeping Scousers from the Lord Mayor down had ever known" as Mark Steyn put it). They can flount a few corpses before Al Jezzerah and keep the Marines from leveling Fallujah.

But the world is full of other, less sensative infidels and, as I wrote here, I think the Islamist will cross a line with them sooner rather than later. The Russians and Chinese do not have histories of compromise and reconciliation with enemies, nor overly emotional, theraputic cultures that winces at enemy deaths, nor political systems of opposition that will argue against fighting the Islamists with all their capabilities.

I was a child ,when the Iranians took the embassy workers hostage. The ordeal seemed to go on forever, especially to a child for whom a school year is an epoch. I remember clearly at one point well into the crisis, out of frustration and impatience and boredom I asked my parents (I'm paraphrasing), "Why doesn't the president just say that if they don't release the hostages that he will assume they are dead and bomb the city?" I had seen pictures of World War II Europe in the World Book encylopedia and I thought that was what bombing was - total devastation, survivors in gray tatters crawling over rubble. And I thought that was appropriate. Year later I thought, "How childish. How simple-minded. How unjust and cruel. Just like a child to think, 'If I can't have it I'll break it.'" Now, even more years later, I have come closer to how I thought as a simple-minded child. We cannot allow our own capability to intimidate us more than the enemy itself.

As Steyn put it about Bigley, "A war cannot be subordinate to the fate of any individual caught up in it." That is true whether the individuals are British or Muslim.

Into the Chasm

I haven't been posting much lately. I'm suffering a little bit of blogger fatigue. More than that. I suspect that so many different events are occuring so quickly, that our world is so complex, that no one person or group of persons is able to keep up in a meaningful way, much less grasp what is happening in any detail and plan for the future. The interconnections of demographics, resource depletion, disease, religion, technology, etc, etc, simply boggle the mind.

Nigeria, a oil producing state, is shut down by strikes over high fuel prices. Meanwhile, a group styling itself after the Taliban has killed four policemen in two raids on police stations in northeaster Nigeria. Its leader studied in Iraq.

In Pakistan the Shiites and Sunnis continue their low-intensity civil war, trading car bomb blasts and suicide bombers. Meanwhile Pakistan successfully tests its first nuclear-capable missle.

This morning NPR reported that Sudanese from Darfur, living in refugee camps in Chad, are fighting with the locals over increasingly scarse wood, used for fuel. (Please, stop the 'no blood for wood' jokes. This is serious.)

The residents of Belsan end their 40-day period of mourning tomorrow. Many have sworn revenge against other ethnic groups in the Caucasus region.

The current New Yorker has an article about the spread of AIDS in Russia. As the health of military age Russian men declines, who will provide security and order for a land that values these above almost all else? How will a depopulating and ill Russia react to migratory and military pressures from Muslim border states?

A few year ago, before 9/11, in The Ingenuity Gap, author Thomas Homer-Dixon warned that since "we must make far more sophisticated decisions, and in less time, than ever before" there is a "very real chasm that sometimes looms between our ever more difficult problems and our lagging ability to solve them."

I fear that the War Against Jihad is slipping into that chasm.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Words Fail Me

What's next, the Courtney Love Emotional Stability Award?

Friday, October 08, 2004

Bombing at the Ecumenical Patriarcate in Istanbul

A home-made bomb damaged the seat of the Orthodox Church in Istanbul overnight but no one was hurt in the explosion, Anatolia news agency reported Thursday.

This follows a protest earlier last month where 1,000 people demonstrated outside the building heeding calls by a Turkish ultra-nationalist movement and burning a puppet representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeus I.

Earlier I predicted that this very thing would set off a chain of events resulting in a global religious war. The jihadists failed this time but we know they are trying. And they like to revisit places where previous attacks failed. It is only a matter of time.

W. on Taxes: the Rich Cheat so Let's Not Raise Their Taxes

This may be the worst against raising taxes on the wealthy in the history of taxation. Here's Bush in Pennsylvania on 10/6.

[Kerry] "says the tax increase is only for the rich. You've heard that kind of rhetoric before. Rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason: to stick you with the tab."

Well why don't we enforce the tax laws so they rich can't dodge paying their freaking taxes? Hmmm? This arguement, that people will find ways around the law so let's change it instead of enforcing it, could be used to legalize any illegal behavior, from illegal immigration to drug use. "We, gee, we can't stop these determined people, so let's not even try. If we just change the law then they won't be criminals anymore."

That's a moist pile of dog shit whether we're talking about herion, illegal workers, prostitution or tax dodgers. It's the kind of argument people use when they don't have a leg to stand on.

As Edwards would say, let me be clear, we should raise taxes on wealthy households. We should raise taxes on unearned income. We have a structural deficit and a mindboggling amount of liability coming due as the Boomers retire. We have to fund the war and increased security at home. The money has to come from somewhere. We have to tax the rich for the same reason Willy Sutton robbed banks, "because that's where the money is."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Coaltion of the Bribed, Indeed

"It's hard to pass the 'Global Test' when the people grading it are being bribed to administer a failing grade". Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit in the blogosphere) uses the confessions of Tariq Aziz, among others, to argue that Kerry's foreign polciy case has collapsed. No only has Kerry admitted that he knows France and Germany will not send any troops but the Oil-for-Bribes scandal has uncovered a vast network of international figures bought and paid for by the Hussein regime.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.


The Oil-for-Bribes scandal is perhaps the number 1 under-reported (or even unreported) story of the year. The same report by Charles Duelfer that the press is so eagerly touting as proof that the Bush adminstration mislead the world in regards to Husseins weapons contains damning evidence of bribes and corruption at the highest levels of the UN and several nations that were, unsurprisingly, critics of the Iraq war.

The Duelfer report said that Benon Sevan, the former chief of the U.N. program, is among dozens of people who allegedly received secret oil vouchers, with Saddam personally approving the list of recipients. The voucher list was dominated by Russian, French and Chinese recipients, in that order, with Saddam spreading the wealth widely to prominent business leaders, politicians, foreign government ministries and political parties, the report said.

The report names former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri and the Russian radical political figure Vladimir Zhirinovsky as voucher recipients, for example, and other foreign governments range from Yemen to Namibia.


Reynolds is right, the Global Test is rigged against us, by bribes, corruption and intimidation. The coalition of the bribed and the coerced, as Kerry calls it, was not the coalition that supported the war in Iraq. It was the coalition that opposed it.

El Baradei to Iran: "Stop Enriching Uranium or I'll Ask Again."

Iran, home of the Nuclear Mullahs, is currently enriching tons of yellowcake uranium. IAEA chielf El Baradei has asked them politely to stop.

"I am calling on them obviously to fully suspend all enrichment-related activities as a confidence-boosting measure," he added. "We are still working with them, the Europeans are working with them and I hope we can move forward in a positive way."

This is just the last in a series of El Baradei requests that Iran stop progressing toward a nuclear weapon. On September 19th the IAEA "demanded" that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment. That same day El Baradei "said that there is still no firm evidence that Iran is secretly developing atomic weapons."

What exactly are El Baradei and the 'international community' prepared to do if the mullahs refuse and give them the finger? One guess. How do you say "nothing" in Farsi? Iran's new and improved missiles can reach Europe. The Bomb is between 6 and 24 months away. What wil Europe do? Nothing in French and Nothing in German.

What will Israel do? Something. Perhaps something involving airstrikes and bunker-busters. Perhaps something involving commandoes and laser guided missiles. Then of course, like clockwork, like a skipping CD, the 'international community' goes apeshit and screams about unilaternal action by the Jews attacking a sovereign nation developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Anti-Israeli demonstrations across Europe, the same Europe that Iran would have been targeting with its nukes. That's how fucked up things are right now. Europeans will, in essence, protest in favor of living under the threat of nuclear annihilation, as long as the would-be annihilator is a Muslim nation hiding its nukes behind the bureacratic facade of 'peaceful purposes.'

Kerryism of the Day

In a NYT article about religion and politics Kerry told the reporter, "I'm going to talk somewhere, in an appropriate moment - I'm not sure when or where - you know, values and faith."

I don't want to address Kerry's, you know, values or faith. But I found this quote very telling. Kerry is a Processor. He believes in planning to talk. He has great faith the meetings, negotiations, and compromises required to setup conferences, summits, conventions, protocols, and accords. For Kerry the process of political and bureaucratic elites 'going to talk somewhere" is as important as the content of the talking and perhaps even more important that the outcome, if there is one.

This is appropriate in many circumstances. The WTO, the IMF, and all the other International Acronyms work in this manner, not to mention corporations and educational institutions. In the subset of humans who are educated, polite, law-abiding, well-mannered, reasonable, and civilized (in the Western sense) Processing is the way we relate to our peers, competetors, and even our families.

If health care and interest rates were my primary concern in this election I might be attracted to this characteristic. But my primary concern is the War Against Jihad, not the percent increase in average out-of-pocket health care cost for the average household earning less than $200,00 per year. The jihadists do not believe in Process except as a way of distracting the infidels, of lulling them into believing they are making progress. The jihadists have faith in mass violence. The jihadists value dead infidels.

Remember Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences and no dialogues."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bush Pummels Kerry in PA Speech

Various bloggers have alluded to this televised Bush speech in Pennsylvania earlier today. WaPo has a transcipt and it is serious spanking for Kerry.

Last week in our debate, he once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that America had no business removing that threat.

Senator Kerry said our soldiers and Marines are not fighting for a mistake but also called the liberation of Iraq a colossal error. He said we need to do more to train Iraqis, but he also said we shouldn't be spending so much money over there.

He said he wants to hold a summit meeting so he can invite other countries to join what he calls the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the war on terror.


Damn! W's speechwriters have been working overtime. He continues pounding Kerry on this theme.

These days he praises America's broad coalition in the Gulf War, but in 1991 he criticized those coalition members as, quote, shadow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden. Sounds familiar.

At that time he voted against the war. If that coalition didn't pass his global test clearly nothing will.


Ouch. Global test indeed. I'm surprised the Bush team hasn't brought up Kerry's Gulf War vote more often. If Kerry wouldn't support a war to reverse a clear violation of international law, a war to defend an ally from an unprovoked invasion, a war supported by the UN Security Council, then what kind of war would he support? If that's not a global test, what is?

I think the 'global test' line will go down with the 'I voted for it before I voted against it' line as two key moments in the campaign, perhaps they were simple slips, perhaps they were windows into Kerry's character. Either way, the Bush Team is proceeding to use Kerry's own words to beat the living shit out of him. Bush may be inarticulate but he doesn't tend to mistakenly provide his opponent with so much high-grade ammunition.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dueling Veeps

Cheney came off as a serious, articulate and thoughtful man, not the neocon Rasputin he's made out to be. Edwards was in over his head. He didn't do badly but he seemed a bit shallow, more like someone acting like a candidate than an actual candidate. ("I'm not a Vice Presidential candidate but I play one on TV.")

They are both highly accomplished, smart and organized men. Both had a wide range of facts at their command. But Cheney displayed a broader vision than Edwards. At times it felt like Edwards was an eager debating student who was debating the teacher.

To continue the cliched boxing metaphor, Cheney closed off the ring, cornered Edwards and then dealt him a series of bodyblows. Edwards flailed around but just couldn't connect. His Haliburton lines never scored. Whereas Cheney had several fine shots: Edwards was for the Iraq war when it was going well and he's against it as soon as there was bad news; Edwards said two years ago that Afghanistan was going poorly (I liked that one); Desert Storm had 34 allies, the war in Iraq has 30; don't discount the contributions of the brave Iraqis who are fighting and dying for their freedom. (Edwards, "Oww, my ribs!)

Some of the pundits are harping on Cheney's statement that he never drew a connection between Hussein and 9/11. He said on several occasions that there were connections between Hussein and al Qaeda (which is not the same thing). MSNBC is bugged-eyed over an old Cheney quote about Iraq being the geographical center of "terrorist enemies who've attacked us for years and on 9/11." This is one of the key differences between Buch-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards. BC04 believes in a broad war on Arab-Islamo-fascism. KE04 believes in a narrow focus on al-Qaeda (see here). I'm with Cheney. We are not fighting against the 1000 or 5000 individual people in al-Qaeda. We are at war with a broad ideology centered in the Arab world. Hey, Edwards, guess where Iraq is?

Again, no knockout. They both did well. Cheney did as well as he can. So did Edwards. Cheney is just better.

UPDATE: The day, hearing some of the clips on the radio and reading some of the quotes, I am of the same opinion only more so. Part of Cheney's advantage is his voice. Nearly everything he said sounded serious and well-reasoned. He has a calm paternal tone monotone that is understated and weighty. At his best Edwards sounded quick and well-worded. Other times he sounded small, his voice too high pitched beside Cheney's. Edwards occasionally o-ver-ar-tic-u-lates his phrases, like he was reciting lines. And the smile, the Edwards smile. Please. It might work with juries, emotionally exhausted after weeks of intimate medical trial testimony, but on TV next to Cheney, addressing terror and foreign policy, the smile risks appearing vapid, or a nervous defense mechanism.

Democratic partisans can comfort themselves that Edwards survived. And thank their lucky stars there won't be a second debate.

What If Edwards Was a Politician in 1943?


"Let Me Make This Very Clear. Mussolini had no connection with the attack on Pearl Harbor. None. Italy had no 'super weapons.' None. We have taken the focus off the enemy who attacked us with this diversion in Italy."

New and Improved Range

Not much blogging this week as they are actually making me work, transitioning my responsibilities to the woman who is replacing me on the project. Damn it, those bastards.

But I will be blogging during and after the VP debate tonight. My expectations are low but it may be worth a laugh.

If you really need a blog-fix that I can't supply right now, the always interesting and insightful Belmont Club has some valuable posts. Roger Simon is on the case of the Atomic Ayatollahs.

Meanwhile Iran says it's Shahad-3 missile has a new and improved range of 1250 miles. Maybe the prospect of nuclear doom will help move some of these products.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Europe, Bolkestein concluded, "would implode."

An article in the NYT about EU expansion to include Turkey. Mostly the same stuff I addressed earlier in the week. Here are some interesting poll numbers:

A French opinion poll released Tuesday indicated that 56 percent of the French oppose Turkey's membership. President Jacques Chirac said Friday that he would require a national referendum on any future expansion. While Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany has reacted favorably, a poll released Friday showed 57 percent of his country's population opposed. A poll issued earlier this week stated that 62 percent of Germans wanted the matter to be decided in a referendum.

And some valuable quotes.

Yucel Gundogdu, a Dutch-born on Turkish descent: For him the European Union's decision is a kind of litmus test for Europe. "If the E.U. refuses Turkey for cultural or religious reasons, then it's racist," he said. (Racist has become the universal curse word of our age, so much so that it has lost its meaning. To refuse Turkey for cultural or religious reasons doesn't equal racism. Being anti-Muslim is bigotry but not racism.)

At a nearby table, a group of young men of Turkish descent playing cards said in chorus that Turkey should not be allowed to join. "They will flood into Europe," said Akag Acikgoz, 21, a Dutch-born bouncer at a nightclub. "I don't want the Turks to join, even if they are my people."

Friday, October 01, 2004

Rant Wear, because Infidels are Always in Style


The Department of Strategic Planning at Rant Wraith's undisclosed underground headquarters is always thinking of ways to expand our brand, leveraging the blog to exploit emerging opportunities (all those buzz words leave me breathless). So in the spirit of shameless marketing Rant Wear, the official Rant Wraith store, is in beta testing. Let me know what you think. The margins are razor thin as we attempt to establish a market presence. If we can raise a whopping $7 then we can expand the store to include other products.

Coming next: Rant Wraith cereal, Rant Wraith Medical Devices, and Rant Wraith Human Capital Management Consulting Group. Keep laughing, infidel. Your all working for me one day.

Debate Counter-Point: Bush Did Surprisingly Well

A loyal Rant Wraith reader who is, shall we say a bit more moderate than I am and who is demographically speaking squarely in Kerry's target audience (professional, highly educated, centrist-to-liberal on social issue, pro-choice, pro-environment, never voted for a Republican), takes issue with my earlier comments. (Thanks for writing. I encourage all readers to email me or leave a comment.)

"I have to say that I disagree with you that Kerry won the debate—even to the casual observer. I was dismayed to see how well Bush did.

I thought that Bush, sticking to his message, managed to make his point stick that Kerry doesn’t know what he thinks about the war in Iraq. I think the “mixed message” is a concept that the average viewer can understand. And Kerry didn’t do a good job of pointing out what he saw as the problems with Bush’s consistency. He did say that he didn’t the war or the peace were sufficiently planned and I don’t actually think that’s debatable. But I thought that Bush reduced the question pretty effectively to a “mixed message” question—without having to talk about his plans.

I thought Bush scored several strong points about the disparaging way Kerry has talked about the coalition forces. It may be true that ideally we want as many nations to buy in to what we’re doing –spread the responsibility etc. It didn’t make Kerry look very good in my opinion.

I thought Bush looked strong talking about N. Korea—even if he wasn’t as strong as he could have been. Kerry kept relying on the phrase “bilateral talks” as a shorthand. I don’t think a lot of the average voters know what that means. But they understand when Bush says that he’s got China and Russia helping to put pressure on N. Korea. People can understand what that means—it’s very clear. And Bush, to me, looked extremely comfortable talking about this relationships with international leaders—Putin, Blair, Allawi, etc.

I think Kerry was an idiot to bring up port security. The money, man power and technology required to perform effective port security is not something that most Americans want to finance, I don’t think, and the huge financial impact of creating delays in the ports is going to weigh heavily against increased security in the ports –that’1s not something that Kerry is talking about either. I thought Kerry’s answer about homeland security—more police and firemen was pitiful. How would that have prevented Oklahoma City or 9/11? It would be purely an after the fact coping mechanism. Not what I call a security measure. He doesn’t want to touch the Patriot Act or immigration, etc.

I do agree that Bush did well enough. And well enough will keep him in the White House for 4 more years. I think Kerry was okay—but I don’t think, unless Bush self-destructs, that Kerry’s close enough to make any significant difference.
"

Part of our differing views may be due to differing expectations. I expected Bush to perform better, thought he would have snappier responses to Kerry's comments, would have been a bit more articulate. Initially listening to the debate on the radio I was accutely aware of the dead air in some of Bush's replies, whereas Kerry filled the time alloted (and he may have a better radio voice).

But our reader is right on the port issue and the Kerry's homeland security answers. Firefighters play defense. Bush wants to stay on the offense and Kerry doesn't.

These are all details for policy geeks (you know who you are) though. The impressions people take away from the debates, the emotional, intuitive feel for the candidates as people, are what matters. That this reader, someone who should so clearly be for Kerry, who's friends and peers probably range from soft democrats to the anti-Bush lunatic fringe, thinks that Bush did well, is the worst possible news for Kerry a mere 12 hours after the debate.