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02/28/2005

The permanent hope of mankind

Clinton_mccain

Putin may not quite grasp the whole "permanent hope of mankind" thing.

But at least Hillary Clinton seems to.

Where we stand right now, there can be no doubt that it is not in America's interests for the Iraqi government, the experiment in freedom and democracy, to fail …. So I hope that Americans understand that and that we will have as united a front as is possible in our country at this time to keep our troops safe, make sure they have everything they need and try to support this new Iraqi government.

If only she could just get the leadership of her own party to agree.

(HT Cigars in the Sand)

Posted by Rodger on February 28, 2005 at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Democracy home study course

Vladimir_putin

How many mistakes can you find in this sentence?

"We didn't criticize you when you fired those reporters at CBS."

This may help to explain why democracy shouldn't be a home study course.

Posted by Rodger on February 28, 2005 at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

02/25/2005

My Dinner with Larry

Hogarth

James Frederick Dwight hosts a disappointing dinner party for the beleaguered President of Harvard University:

I figured things would improve when we all sat down to dinner and partook of my justly famous braised short ribs. The assemblage as a group warmly praised the entrée, but then Larry suggested that the texture of the short ribs was “oddly chewy.” I had heard the man was socially maladroit, but this was beyond the pale.

The instant Larry made this unfortunate observation, I could tell he sensed my disappointment. In a futile attempt to assuage my hurt feelings, he suggested that perhaps the ribs’ “displeasing texture” (as he put it) were because they were cooked by a man. I looked at him quizzically. He elaborated: “I don’t mean to be provocative, but perhaps there is a chance that men have different intrinsic abilities in the kitchen than the fairer sex.”

Well, you can imagine my stunned devastation. If I hadn’t instantly repaired to the powder room, I’m quite certain I would have blacked out. Nonetheless, as I sat in the powder room, I resolved to set President Summers straight. I exited the lavatory, called The Boston Globe and then waded back into the dining room.

The author of The Way of the World would be pleased.

Posted by Rodger on February 25, 2005 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

02/24/2005

Loose talk

Rove_post_headline_1

The Ithaca Journal
. the Voice of Tomkins County, belatedly weighs in on Hincheygate:

It is important to get to the bottom of things, but it is also important for public officials not to peddle half-baked theories with little supporting evidence.

So far so good. Unfortunately, the editors then go on to affirm their solidly pro-Democrat credentials by means of an out-of-left field comparison of Hinchey's remarks to the Iraq WMD issue:

In comparison with the Iraq debacle, Hinchey's recent remarks were definitely no harm/no foul. Yet both instances illustrate why it is important for our leaders to be sure of information before they present it to their constituents. Most people still trust their leaders to tell them the truth and make life and death decisions based on what they say.

As Ross Perot would say, I won't even dignify that with a comment.

Meanwhile Kingston, New York's Daily Freeman reports that Rep. Hinchey has issued a clarification (of sorts):

Hinchey said he did not believe he was being irresponsible by publicly theorizing about the matter. He said he owed it to his constituents to let them how he thinks.

"I have a responsibility to report (my theories) to my constituents and tell them conclusions or ideas that I am working on or believe based upon my analysis and interpretation of the facts," Hinchey said Monday.

Yet another clarification appears in The Poughkeepsie Jounal:

Hinchey said Wednesday he never accused Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, of being behind the bogus documents and has no proof of that. But he believes it nonetheless. "My suspicion and my theory is that it's likely to be the White House political operation headed up by Karl Rove," Hinchey said. "The proof is circumstantial."

One wonders what would that circumstance would be.

That Karl Rove exists? That Terry McAuliffe said it was true?

After all, if you're of member of the "reality-based community," what more proof do you need?

[New York Post graphic by Cranky Neocon 09-21-04]

Posted by Rodger on February 24, 2005 at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

02/23/2005

Arash convicted

Supreme_leader_of_the_revolution

Dissident blogger Arash Sigarchi has been sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment by Iranian authorities:

An Iranian journalist was jailed for 14 years on charges ranging from espionage to insulting the country's leaders in an unusually heavy sentence in Iran, where tens of journalists have been tried in recent years.

Rights activists said on Tuesday that Arash Sigarchi, 28, was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in the Caspian province of Gilan in northern Iran.

Sigarchi, a newspaper editor in Gilan who also wrote an Internet journal or "weblog," was arrested last month after responding to a summons from the Intelligence Ministry.

"In total, he has been given 14 years in prison," Mohammad Saifzadeh, a member of Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Tehran told Reuters by telephone.

Sigarchi's family has asked Saifzadeh and Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi to represent him in an appeal.

The Committe to Protect Bloggers had designated February 22 as Free Mojtaba and Arash Day, in the hope of winning the release of Arash and that of fellow Iranian blogger Motjaba Saminejad. The future of another Iranian blogger, Farouz Farzami—who was jailed and interrogated for 36 days and then released—is still unclear, but there's no indication that charges against her have been dropped.

The disturbing account of her arrest and detention can be found here.

The Committee to Protect Bloggers has helpful contact information for Iranian officials and a link to Amnesty International's primer on how to contact government authoritie

UPDATE: Bloggers have rallied to the cause.

Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.

Posted by Rodger on February 23, 2005 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

02/22/2005

Rehearsing for another big show?

Stinger_afghanistan

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may recall several earlier posts this year on laser sightings by commercial pilots here in the U.S. I also featured some chilling observations on the subject from Phantom, which can be found here and here. Well, the laser sightings haven't gone away—and neither has Phantom. He's been giving this matter some further thought and has developed a compelling theory (below) that may account for the sharp uptick in the frequency of laser sightings in the closing months of 2004 and so far in 2005.

Those who cannot remember the past—as George Santayana famously observed—are condemned to repeat it. And while none of us have forgotten 9/11, some of its more important details have receded into memory's haze—details that, unfortunately, may come back to haunt us.

I'm talking specifically about the reports of "dry runs" on flights across the  United States. There were more than a few reports of these, perhaps the best known being the one described by actor James Woods.

Our adversary runs a tight ship. A military organization adhering to corporate practices. Conduct a feasibility study of your product, engage a focus group or test cases to ascertain viability and release your product. Simple but effective. A business process reengineering approach that reduces overall cost, maximizes total effect and gives a grim new meaning to the phrase "bang for your buck."

"Know thy enemy" is—and always has been—a basic precept of strategy. The more one knows, the more one understands and can exploit the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the opposition.

So try to think for a moment like the CEO of a corporate terror organization. Here's one possibility that explains the recent laser activity.

I've written before on this site about the prospect of laser incidents involving commercial aircraft to be something more than kids going wild with laser pointers. Laser rangefinders are the most effective ranging tool today. Accurate to a fault.

And I've also explained why distance to target is critical. You don't want to waste an asset that costs $30,000 on the black market only to have it fall short due to a lack of range.

As my previous posts have noted, most MANPADs—man-portable air defense systems—have laser target acquisition devices. Point, elevate, acquire either a tone or a visual cue, and the missile will almost always hit the target.

A simple laser in the hands of a penny-pinching organization can serve a dual purpose: It can provide range to target information while at the same time provide aiming practice. Couple that approach with a GPS and one could establish fixed firing positions via waypoints on the GPS.   

We have seen numerous reports of laser activity in both mid-sized airports and large airports. At first blush, it sounds like random activity. Unless you're thinking like a corporate terrorist.

Consider the following scenario:

At a selected point in time, MANPADs are launched at landing aircraft simultaneously at a dozen or so medium sized airports. The reason you select landing aircraft is obvious: landing aircraft have to land;  aircraft taking off to a destination need not take off.

Air traffic at these dozen or so airports would be immediately redirected. Alternative airports would be selected based on reserve fuel availability. Very generally, about two hours worth. And that does not account for the fuel expenditure to get back to cruising altitude.

With certain airports closed to traffic, there is not a wide range for alternatives, especially for larger aircraft. Then the exercise becomes a high tech cattle drive. Drive them to a point where greater resources are available.

The reverse can be true—shutting down the larger airports and funneling the prey into smaller avenues at mid-sized airports.

And that is where the bulk of the carnage would take place. No fuel to divert and no option but to run the gauntlet. Or crash after the fuel was depleted.

My guess is that there would be over 200 MANPADs in the final kill zone. About 50 would be expended to drive the herd into the trap. For an investment of under $1 million, we are talking about a loss—just in aircraft—of tens of billons of dollars. And about 40,000 lives, just in airline passengers and crew.

The airlines would not survive such an event. And the ripple effect on the economy would be horrific. So horrific that it would send us into double digit unemployment and tank the stock market.

Diabolically brilliant.

Posted by Rodger on February 22, 2005 at 08:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

02/21/2005

Easongate encore

Hinchey
Another public figure is making wild, unsupported charges about our government's alleged "war on journalism."

This time around, though, it's a U..S. Congressman—and the tape is already public.

From Little Green Footballs:

Yesterday Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) hosted a community forum in Ithaca, New York, on The Future Of Social Security.

An LGF reader was present in the audience and happened to be recording as Rep. Hinchey launched into a barking moonbat conspiracy rant worthy of Democratic Underground, telling the audience he believed the fake CBS memos were planted by Karl Rove to discredit Dan Rather, and divert attention from President Bush’s “draft dodging.”

When our reader asked Hinchey if he had evidence for these charges, he first said, “Yes, I do,” but when asked a second time he admitted he did not.

Our reader pressed the issue, “Don’t you think it’s irresponsible to make charges like that?” Hinchey replied, “No, I don’t, I think it’s very important to make charges like that ... I think it’s very important to combat this kind of activity in every way that you can, and I’m willing, as most people are not, to step forward in situations like this and take risks.”

And the crowd burst into applause and cheering.

The audio link is here. You can read the transcript here.

UPDATE: The Ithaca Journal weighs in on Hincheygate: "It is important to get to the bottom of things, but it is also important for public officials not to peddle half-baked theories with little supporting evidence." Unfortunately, they then go on to compare Hinchey's remarks to the Iraq WMD issue, declaring, "In comparison with the Iraq debacle, Hinchey's recent remarks were definitely no harm/no foul. Yet both instances illustrate why it is important for our leaders to be sure of information before they present it to their constituents. Most people still trust their leaders to tell them the truth and make life and death decisions based on what they say." As Ross Perot would say, I won't even dignify that with a comment.

Meanwhile Kingston, New York's Daily Freeman reports that Rep. Hinchey has issued a clarification (of sorts): "Hinchey said he did not believe he was being irresponsible by publicly theorizing about the matter. He said he owed it to his constituents to let them how he thinks. 'I have a responsibility to report (my theories) to my constituents and tell them conclusions or ideas that I am working on or believe based upon my analysis and interpretation of the facts,' Hinchey said Monday."

Yet another clarification appears in The Poughkeepsie Jounal: "Hinchey said Wednesday he never accused Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, of being behind the bogus documents and has no proof of that. But he believes it nonetheless. 'My suspicion and my theory is that it's likely to be the White House political operation headed up by Karl Rove,' Hinchey said. 'The proof is circumstantial.' "

Posted by Rodger on February 21, 2005 at 05:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another afternoon of a faun

Barberini_faun_4

Q: Know why Maureen Dowd can't get a date?

A: She can't get anyone to make a pass.

Okay, that was really juvenile—and definitely beneath the dignity of this blog.

But somehow with Mo-Do you just can't help it. She brings out the worst in people.

As you may have seen today, she's desperately trying to squeeze another 24 hours of news life into the biggest non-story of 2005, the Jeff Gannon kerfuffle.

I won't crawl down in the gutter with the Aravosises, Moulitsases, Atrioses and other Greek names of this sordid affair, which you can read about in its definitive form here.

But I will venture that Mr. Guckert's "outing" is one of the sorriest political spectacles I've witnessed in my 51 years.

Mo-Do's right about one thing: It is worse than the Nixon White House.

Even they didn't stoop to publish nude pictures of the folks on their enemies list.

UPDATE: The Typowife has suggested that conservatives might wish to retaliate by posting nude photos of Helen Thomas on FreeRepublic.com. I explained that these are used only to break down enemy combatants at Gitmo and thus remain highly classified.

Posted by Rodger on February 21, 2005 at 09:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Charmed, I'm sure …

Bush_in_europe_2

I just did a Google News search on the phrase "charm offensive" and came up with 587 stories on President Bush's trip to Europe.

That's what I love about the MSM, they know a great meme when they see one.

In point of fact, the trip represents much more than an effort to paper over past differences and try to figure out what to do with the giant albatross known as NATO. There's an excellent opening to find agreement with France about containing Syrian troublemaking in the Middle East and countering the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons.

On the Syria front, Jack Kelly, national security correspondent of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, points out that the recent assassination of Rafik al-Hariri in Lebanon has created a rare opening for cooperation with the French:

France loves to stick its fingers in American eyes. But the Hariri assassination is a complication. Hariri and French President Jacques Chirac were good friends.

"Whoever orchestrated Hariri's assassination imagined the explosive event would produce results in accordance with a master plan," wrote foreign affairs commentator Frida Ghitis in The Miami Herald.

"France is working closely with the United States to craft a new U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the Lebanese government to fully investigate the blast that killed Hariri," reported Stratfor, a private intelligence service.

The result could be a Franco-American push for trade sanctions against Syria by the United Nations and the European Union. And given the bad press the United Nations has been receiving from the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, these sanctions likely would be enforced. The diplomatic isolation of Syria would be nearly complete.

"It is unlikely, however, that the master plan included strengthening the bonds between the United States and France. But closer ties between Paris and Washington will undoubtedly result from the Hariri murder."

Meanwhile, on the Iranian front, the EU-3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) seem finally to be gaining some traction in their frustrating negotiations on Iran's uranium enrichment program—thanks in part to the U.S. turning up the heat on the possibility of a military option. The Iranians have backed away from their threat to walk away from negotiations and are suddenly saying they're ready to create an "atmosphere of trust" with the Europeans.

Whether this has anything to do with a report a week ago in The Washington Post that the U.S. was flying Predator drones over Iran or another report last Tuesday that a missile from an unknown aircraft struck the ground near a known nuclear site in Deylam I'll leave you to judge. But it's just possible that the U.S. and the Europeans may have finally hit upon the right balance of the carrot and the stick.

The press may be covering Bush's trip as a triumph of style over substance, but I'm betting that a lot more diplomatic business gets done between photo ops than you're likely to hear about. There's every chance that the U.S. and France may arrive at a way to thwart the dangerous ambitions of Iran and Syria, which will in turn improve the chances for the success of democracy in Iraq. That would be a diplomatic success of historic proportions. And, what's even more remarkable, the President will have managed it without so much as a word of advice from Colin Powell.

More charm, please, Madame Secretary!

Posted by Rodger on February 21, 2005 at 05:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

02/20/2005

Witch hunts, good and bad

Glinda

A new meme may already be playing at an MSM outlet near you …

I've written about it at War, Truth, and Videotape.

Have a look around the site—and be sure to sign our petition while you're there.

Posted by Rodger on February 20, 2005 at 06:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)