Saturday, August 12, 2006

AP Misses it; Time Gets it

There's an interesting contrast in today's news with regard to the terrorist chemical explosive plot just broken up. First off, note that the terrorists had just been given the go-ahead to attack. (And people wonder about the timing?) And you should also know that a key to uncovering the plot was a tip from 'a member of the muslim community.' And the attack was apparently scheduled for August 16.

The AP comes off pretty darn silly for its article entitled "Bush staff wanted bomb detect cash moved." It might just be the headline that's the problem, because the article has no coherent point and the headline gives the impression that there is one:

Bush staff wanted bomb-detect cash moved
By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 11, 7:38 PM ET

While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

First note for Solomon: in a federal budget in excess of $2 trillion, every $6 million shift is 'quiet.' Would Solomon describe a moth in a hurricane as 'quiet,' too?

Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.

"The committee is extremely disappointed with the manner in which S&T is being managed within the Department of Homeland Security," the panel wrote June 29 in a bipartisan report accompanying the agency's 2007 budget...

"They clearly have been given lots of resources that they haven't been using," Sabo said.

...Lawmakers and recently retired Homeland Security officials say they are concerned the department's research and development effort is bogged down by bureaucracy, lack of strategic planning and failure to use money wisely.

The department failed to spend $200 million in research and development money from past years, forcing lawmakers to rescind the money this summer.

So Republicans and Democrats agree that the agency is a 'rudderless ship,' and are disappointed that it has been unable to spend $200 million provided to it in recent years, and yet the headline is that the Bush administration wanted $6 million shifted away? What about the $200 million unspent?

The rest of the article is similarly pointless. If Solomon and the AP are suggesting that this $6 million is somehow important to the effort to thwart terror plots, they're entirely unable to sustain the point.

Plus, even if this technology is important (which makes some sense), that's not what broke up this terror plot. And the proposed $6 million shift would have made no difference in thwarting the attack.

CNN's story on the plot discusses the methods that broke it up, and makes clear that the threat to efforts to thwart terrorists comes not from $6 million budget shifts, but from the NYT, LAT, and others in the MSM:

Counterterrorism officials used telephone records, e-mails and bank records to connect the suspects and build a detailed picture of the conspiracy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said.

Their spending habits and bank accounts also were traced by a unit that monitors the flow of money to provide evidence of association, the memo said.

Bank records, telephone calls, and money flows huh? Who would have thought that things like that could help you catch terrorists? It boggles the mind that the MSM see no harm in trying to expose every possible detail about how these programs operate.

And credit to Time magazine, which seems to lack the courage of its convictions, but at least suggests the correct response:

The answer, say security experts, highlights the need for a security system based on sophisticated profiling: It may be more important for the security system to be geared towards detecting passengers with intent to do harm rather than relying on detecting the specific means they've chosen. Boston's Logan Airport is currently testing a version of profiling called the SPOT program, but it avoids the ethnic profiling that many security experts say, despite its objectionable political connotations, would have to be the focus of an effective system.

Get ready for the next set of Republican campaign commercials: can you trust Democrats who oppose wiretaps and monitoring of transactions to fight the war on terror?

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Islamic Terrorists as Devil Worshippers

One of my favorite parts of the writing of CS Lewis is an epsiode from The Last Battle, which is the last book in the Narnia series. Aslan (who represents God) confronts Tash (who represents the devil). One of Tash's warriors - Emeth - is a good and righteous man, who misunderstands Tash and believes him to represent good, not evil. What is this warrior's fate? Redemption or damnation? Aslan answers him:

I take to me the services which thou hast done to him [Tash]. For I and he [Tash] are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath's sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he knows it not, and it is I who reward him...

At its heart, I suspect that this is more of a question about your religious beliefs than anything else. But if you believe in God as depicted in the Bible, and superimpose the theology of Aslan, then are not terrorists (Islamic terrorists in our current circumstance) following the devil?

Discuss amongst yourselves...

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Containing North Korea

Am I the only one who hadn't noticed that China has frozen North Korea's funds? China is North Korea's one and only patron, and the route through which it launders all the money it uses to evade limits on acquisition of critical technology.

It's a sign that China recognizes that it's being endangered by North Korea's recklessness. This recklessness might eventually lead to Japan becoming a nuclear power, and it will certainly help lead to a victory by Shinzo Abe when Japan votes in September.

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Omert Struts and Frets

"Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action."

Omert can't decide whether he's coming or going. Will he have the courage to go down and tell the grunts that some of them may have to get killed as a bargaining manoeuvre?

Parting shots?

It seems that Omert has faith in two things, the UN and airpower. Beirut gets hit again.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Omert Decides To Try Jaw-Jaw

Israeli government moves to clear way for UN vote Friday. Needless to say, the IDF command is apoplectic.

But who needs the IDF, when you've got 10,000 Frenchmen to protect you?

Thinking about the Lamonts, the Schiffs, Soros et al...

Got me wondering: which is the party of the wealthy plutocrats, again?

Does the Washington Post Have This Section?

Al Jazeera, it turns out, has an entire section of their website devoted to allowing paranoiac speculation free publicity.

The Cat Is on the Roof, and Won't Come Down...

Chavez gets ready to break the news to the true believers. No word on whether Fidel is also pining for the fjords or all shagged out from a squawk.

Sing Muse, of the Wrath of Achilles Peleides

Reading the news about the latest IDF military operations occupying or reoccupying little towns in southern Lebanon reminded me of this:

"Then heaven-sprung Aias hurled next his far-shadowing spear, and smote upon the circle of the shield of Priam's son. Through the bright shield passed the violent spear, and through the curiously wrought corslet pressed it on; and straight forth beside the flank the spear rent his doublet; but he swerved aside and escaped black death. Then both together with their hands plucked forth their long spears and fell to like ravening lions or wild boars whose might is nowise feeble. Then Priam's son smote the shield's midst with his dart, but the bronze brake not through, for the point turned back; but Aias leapt on him and pierced his buckler, and straight through went the spear and staggered him in his onset, and cleft its way unto his neck, so that the dark blood gushed up. Yet even then did not Hector of the glancing helm cease from fight, but yielded ground and with stout hand seized a stone lying upon the plain, black and rugged and great; therewith hurled he and smote Aias' dread shield of sevenfold ox-hide in the midst upon the boss, and the bronze resounded. Next Aias lifted a far greater stone, and swung and hurled it, putting might immeasurable therein..." (See how it ends here:)

Brevity and editorial summarisation are only important when repetition and agonising detail are not part of the editor's desired effect. Consider the stream of stories out of the Lebanon and Iraq in that context.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

BoSox: 40% Chance of Making the Playoffs

While the numbers say the Mets and Tigers are virtual locks.

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DeLay Bows Out... Again

Well, Tom DeLay officially moved his residence out of Texas and tried to have himself replaced on the ballot by another Republican nominee. That effort failed, and DeLay remains the official Republican nominee. However, that doesn't mean he has to campaign for the job, and it doesn't even mean that his name has to appear on the ballot. Instead, there will be a blank space on the ballot, and Republicans will attempt to organize a write-in campaign to retain the seat.

This is tricky, but not insurmountable. As the article linked above properly notes, the key will be to limit the number of Republicans running.

I'm not sure the last time a candidate won a Congressional race on write-in votes, although former Representative Linda Smith (R-WA) won her first Congressional primary as a write-in candidate when the favorite withdrew late in the race (in 1994). The GOP will have a tough road ahead of it in this race.

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I Did not Know That

Turns out Ned Lamont is the grand-nephew of fellow limousine socialist Corliss Lamont. The Lamont family traces its wealth through Corliss' father, and Ned's great-grandfather Thomas Lamont, President of J.P. Morgan & Co. during the Roaring Twenties.

So, when you add up Karenna Gore's marriage into the Schiff family along with Al Gore's abandonment of his erstwhile running mate, it seems like all of Wall Street has turned on poor Joe Lieberman.

IDF Is Go for the Litani River

The Security Cabinet vote was unanimous. The Jerusalem Post expects the operation to take 30 days.

But I Liked the Old Conditions Unconditionally

It's funny how all the calls for "unconditional ceasefire for humanitarian reasons" now have all these conditions now that the IDF is on the verge of securing all of Lebanon in Katyusha range of Galilee.
Remember these greatest hits from last week?

Mayor of London Backs Rally for ‘Unconditional Ceasefire’ in Lebanon

Lok Sabha for ceasefire in Lebanon


OIC Members Press for Unconditional Ceasefire in Middle East

Turns out the lives and property of the Lebanese are in fact negotiable, if the ability of Hezbollah to lob rockets into Israel is seriously threatened.

Lieberman Now the GOP Candidate

Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman 52-48% in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.

First let me get the self-congratulation out of the way: I predicted this months ago. (OK, I may have been writing a fanciful piece that I thought would never come true - but still, there it is).

Second, it's now clear that Joe Lieberman is the de facto Republican candidate in this race. That's because Lieberman has no support in the Democratic establishment, and the Republicans have no candidate. Unless Lieberman changes his mind, a cooperative arrangement between Lieberman and the GOP is inevitable.

DSCC Chair Charlie Schumer and Minority Leader Harry Reid will both reportedly endorse Lamont this morning. Earlier, Schumer had suggested that the DSCC might support Lieberman if he ran as an Independent, but he clearly took too much flak from the Netroots. Barbara Boxer campaigned for Lieberman, but will endorse Lamont. Russ Feingold supported Lamont from the start, and Frank Lautenberg suggested that Lieberman should not run as an Independent if he lost the primary. Even Lieberman's home-state colleague Chris Dodd will side with Lamont. So it's clear that the Democratic establishment is not only not with Lieberman, it is with Lamont.

And the GOP? Alan Schlesinger is the nominal Republican nominee, but he has almost no campaign funds, and his campaign is currently DOA because of revelations that he gambled under a false name and ran up gambling debts at casinos, which he subsequently tried not to pay. And Schlesinger can count on getting no coverage from the media in a general election, as the Lamont-Lieberman storyline will be too good to pass up.

In a nominal three-way election, Schlesinger will be barely a blip on the radar; in fact polls show him with negligible support already. Lamont will take the liberal base - as he did yesterday - so Lieberman will have to find votes among Republicans and Independents. As a result, he will have to focus on attacking Lamont as an extremist, while trying to gather the center-right vote for himself. And if he is re-elected in 2006, he will need to start thinking about re-election in 2012, at which time he will face the same problem with the Democratic base.

There is always the chance that Lieberman decides not to run - in which case Ned Lamont will head to the Senate in a walk. But if Lieberman does run, it can ONLY be as a de facto Republican. He will either declare himself a Republican (which I think unlikely), or he will not commit to either the GOP or the Democratic Caucus if re-elected. I think that's the most likely route. We might even see Republican officials campaigning with him, and I suspect he will get significant funding from GOP figures.

If this interests you, be sure to check out the Hotline's summary of Lieberman's comments since his loss - note his attacks against liberal Democratic colleagues, his statement that he is in this to stay and (in conflict with my predictions), his statement that he will remain a Democrat. Read as well, Taegan Goddards summary of where Lieberman stands now.

Update: Karl Rove reaches out to Lieberman. Shocking!

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006


If it weren't for the backdrop of murder, starvation, and genocide at the United Nations, it would almost be funny. The Russians have called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" in Lebanon. Meanwhile, parts of Grozny are still smoldering.

France Goes Wobbly

Looks like France is about to sell us out again at the Security Council. It should be clear by tomorrow afternoon whether the French have decided to completely roll over for the Arab League. I'd like to think that this kabuki dance was something we had worked out with the French ahead of time in order to gain Israel more time, but somehow, I doubt it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ney Gives up the Ghost

Although I'll be sad to see him go, since obscure Napoleonic allusions and working knowledge of Farsi are underrepresented qualities in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Although the writing may have been on the wall with the announcement last week that "freedom fries" were once again "french fries" on the House cafeteria menu.

Ney Drops Re-election Bid

Well, if you've been reading this blog, you know that this is not a surprise. Congressman Bob Ney has read the handwriting on the wall, and dropped his bid for re-election. His re-election chances seemed awfully slim, and he has opted to step aside to allow a new primary.

As we saw in the DeLay case, that proved more problematic than expected. One wonders if Ney has looked closely to make sure he can drop off the ballot, as DeLay has proved unable to do. Additionally, rumors have Republicans trying to replace Senate candidates in Florida and Connecticut. While it's unlikely that either of those will happen - let alone both - it will be interesting to see if there is any public relations impact of trying to replace several candidates - or being seen to - so late in the campaign.

Apart from that, the only likely effect of Ney's dropping out will be to remove a seat from the Democratic target list. This seat seems completely safe for the GOP with most candidates, and Democrats will likely focus their resources on other races once a new candidate has been selected.

Update: Philo beat me to the post, and probably has more obscure and interesting facts about Ney.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Iran Decides the UN Can Have Its Answer Early

The Iranian responsible for keeping a diplomatically reassuring face on the Iranian regime's actions has told the UN to go fly a kite.

Additionally, word is now leaking out of the UN of Iran's previously detected attempts to acquire uranium.

And these are the attempts we've caught.