...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

April 26, 2008

Wright - Moyer Love Fest

I forced myself to watch the Wright-Moyer1 love fest last night on PBS. Here's the transcript. Knowing Moyer, and his talent for partisan obfuscation, I didn't expect much. My expectations were not exceeded.

If the purpose of this interview was to rehabilitate Pastor Wright for those whose only knowledge of him was based on "snippets" of his sermons "run in an endless loop," the interview failed.

Here's the Moyer-Wright argument, in a nutshell:

1. Pastor Wright is a good guy, and really smart.2

2. The "snippets" were taken out of context.

3. And besides, you wouldn't understand them anyway.3

When I first heard the audio of Pastor Wright's vitriolic sermons, the first thing I thought was "this guy shouts like a fascist." If you've ever heard recordings of Hitler or Mussolini at the crescendo of an oration, the tone is eerily similar.

I've since heard the context, and not only do I understand what he was trying to say, it's no different in context than it is out of context. The man is full of hate. Just because you can construct an elaborate argument to justify your hatred doesn't mean you don't hate.

I don't mean to equate Pastor Wright with Hitler or Mussolini, but their methods of proselytization are similar. It boils down to this: Out there you're a victim; in here you're safe because I will tell you the truth.

Many people naturally want to hear that they're victims, because it explains life's inherent unfairness in a way that relieves them of any responsibility. And many people are naturally attracted to conspiracy theories out of ego-gratification. I know the "truth" -- you believe the "lies." Therefore I'm smart and you're a fool. That's all it is.

So what if Wright's ministry did good work in the community? So does my church, and without all the race-baiting hate speech. It is possible to preach the gospel without dividing people into us and them. But perhaps not as profitable.

One passage from the interview stood out for its absurdity.

[A]fter every revolution, the winners of that revolution write down what the revolution was about so that their children can learn it, whether it's true or not. They don't learn anything at all about the Arawak, they don't learn anything at all about the Seminole, the Cheek-Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. They don't learn anything. No, they don't learn that. What they learn is 1776, Crispus Attucks was the one black guy in there. Fight against the British, the- terrible. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal while we're holding slaves." No, keep that part out. They learn that. And they cling to that. And when you start trying to show them you only got a piece of the story, and lemme show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred because you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred. And when you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth.
I don't know what schools Pastor Wright went to, but I was taught all that stuff in every single history class I ever had. In a good number of law school classes too. Pastor Wright, if he knew what he was talking about, should have no problem with the history curriculum of today's students.4 In that sense, Obama was right when he said that Wright's profound mistake was thinking that America hadn't changed. We have changed, and we can do even better.

In his Farewell Address, Ronald Reagan addressed the same question, with a very different take, and one that I think is superior and unifying in contrast to Wright's divisiveness.

But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.

. . .

And let me offer lesson number one about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do


1. I know there's supposed to be an "s." I omit the "s" because that's what LBJ did.

2. See, he uses the word "hermeneutic" in a sentence to show how smart he is. Even Bill Moyer doesn't know that word, which proves how smart the Pastor really is.

3. Wright said, "The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly." Again, he divides people into us and them. If you were there, you understand and presumably agree. If you disagree, well, you weren't there so you couldn't possibly understand and you're opinion has no value. Interestingly, Obama would have it both ways. He agreed, but only with the stuff he heard when he was there. He disagreed, but only with the stuff he didn't hear because he wasn't there.

4. A recent poll of 2000 High school students asked them to name the top ten "most famous Americans." The top three were: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. Oprah Winfrey came in 7th. And check this out, "when the researchers polled 2,000 adults in a different survey, their lists were nearly identical."

Posted by annika, Apr. 26, 2008 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 04, 2007

It's The Slickness, Stupid

Hugh Hewitt asks:

Given all the hits Huckabee has taken in the last four days, the question becomes: Where will the folks who drop him move their allegiances?
That's a funny question to ask, because I can think of several more appropriate questions at this stage of the game. For instance:

1. How can Romney fans expect their guy to win the nomination, let alone the general election, when he's going backwards in the polls? In what possible spin universe is a slip from third to fifth in the national polling a good sign for the Romney campaign?

2. Why should I believe that Romney will catch fire once America gets to know him when three weeks ago nobody knew who Huckabee was and they both used the same forum to introduce themselves to us, i.e. the debates? Isn't it time to admit that Romney just isn't able to sell himself to Republicans?

3. If Romney can't sell himself to Republicans, even with the right message, how can we expect him to win the middle third of voters, the independents, whose votes win and lose elections?

4. How is it that Romney, the management genius, can spend so much time and money in Iowa and yet be in a statistical tie with a guy who's spent next to nothing, whose campaign team is supposedly third rate, and who's supposedly not even a real conservative?

5. When will Romney fans stop crying about "religious bigotry" and admit the real reason Romney is such a dud: The Slick Factor?

Romney is in trouble. And no, I don't believe religious bigotry has anything to do with his apparent collapse. Sure, there's people out there who won't vote for a Mormon just because he's a Mormon, but I can't believe they're more than a handful. I certainly haven't met any. I have much more faith in the goodness and good sense of the majority of Republican voters than those who are so quick to ignore Romney's obvious lack of appeal and pin the blame on some non-existent anti-Mormon hysteria.

If Romney still aspires to be anything beyond a one term governor he's going to have to do more than tell us his views on "religious liberty." I don't really care about his opinion on that subject. What I care about is this: can Romney present himself as anything other than the consultant robot he's been in every debate I've seen so far.

We know Romney can buy and sell corporations. Can he sell himself? So far the answer has been a definite no. He says the right things, he's right on the issues, but nobody's buying it. Like Hillary, he's got a perception problem. But unlike Hillary there are still a lot of people, like myself, who are open to being convinced. Romney just needs to figure out how to sound genuine, instead of an overly focus-grouped consultant's idea of what a conservative candidate should sound like.

It's important that Romney figure this out, and soon, because he may just be our only hope. As much as I love Rudy, I have serious doubts about his electability, because there are just too many vulnerabilities in his past. And I'm sure Hillary's team has already mapped out their narrative against Rudy for next fall. They'll leak a scandal a week to their buddies at the New York Times and CNN. It won't matter if the scandals are real or imagined, as long as they reinforce the narrative they will have created. Tough as Rudy is, I don't know if he can survive the onslaught that's waiting for him.

Romney's squeaky clean image, in theory, should immunize him from any Clintonian Swift Boat strategy. Hopefully Romney can learn how to fight back against the Hillary machine without committing the Lazio error, and without curling up into a ball like he did when McCain dressed him down the other night. But the most important thing Romney needs to do is figure out how to make himself likable, and he needs to do that now.

Posted by annika, Dec. 4, 2007 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 29, 2007

More On The Debate

All the buzz this morning on talk radio and the blogs is about the planted questioners from last night's debate. I'm not as outraged at the individual questions a question is a question as I am at the fact that they were all designed to perpetuate a Democratic stereotype of Republicans and conservatives. And not only that, since the planted questioners all came from the activist left, yet were only identified by CNN as ordinary citizens, they gave the false impression that ordinary Americans are united against conservative principles. That's simply not true; eight years of Republican presidency prove that it is not.

Questions designed to place the candidates on the defensive have their place, but such questions are fundamentally unfair when the background of the questioner is hidden, and especially when the same tactic is not used against the Democrats in their own debates. Bryan at Hot Air said it:

Last time, the debate was for Democrats and the plants were all Democrats. This time, the debate was for Republicansbut the plants were still all Democrats.

Posted by annika, Nov. 29, 2007 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 28, 2007

YouTube Debacle

First off, I pray that the candidates of both parties have the guts never to allow this format ever again. But I know they won't. The format is worse than a joke, it's destructive. Just look at the type of people asking the questions and ask yourself how many people you know in your everyday life who are that weird.

Somebody at CNN chose these questions and that person was not a friend of the Republican party or conservatives in general. It seemed many of the questons were specifically chosen to portray conservatives in a bad light. I certainly saw nothing like that during the Democratic YouTube debate. But not only that, there were too many irrelevant and undignified moments. There is no excuse for Yankees/Red Sox questions or confederate flag questions or questions about biblical inerrancy in a presidential debate during wartime. That said, I do have some impressions of how the candidates did.

I've been a Romney skeptic since I first began hearing about him. It's not that I'm dead set against him, I just want the guy to prove himself to me. I've listened closely to him and he fails to sell himself every time. Up until now I've had trouble putting my finger on why. But tonight I realized that the man just doesn't come across genuine. Every time he gets a hard question he dodges it by saying he'll consult the appropriate people when he's president. I know that's what presidents do, they consult advisers, but when I hear a candidate say it I have to wonder if he has any core beliefs that he can draw upon.

The most famous example of this Romney dodge was when he said he'd consult "the lawyers" before deciding if he would get congressional approval before responding militarily. Just about the worst thing he could have said. Tonight Romney did it twice. On the torture question he said he'd consult McCain, but McCain would have none of it. And looking at Romney's face, I could tell he was embarrassed. I disagree with McCain on the torture issue, but I loved the way he called Romney out on his Hillaryesque refusal to commit to anything. The third time Romney played the "I'll consult" card was on the "don't ask don't tell" question, and it drew boos.

I'm still willing to be persuaded by Romney, because I'm afraid he might be the only winning option against Hillary. But he's not convincing me to feel good about that. The one thing I like about Giuliani the most is that when he says something I can feel his conviction. And that's exactly what Romney is lacking. To my ears, Romney seems passionless and convictionless, even while he's saying the right things. I know it's a perception problem, and maybe I should listen more to what he says rather than how he says it. But a perception problem is an electability problem too. So there's your reason Romney's way behind in the national polls. I'm not the only one who has trouble believing in him.

Regarding the other candidates, I thought Thompson did really well. And I'm the biggest Thompson basher out there. I wish Anderson Cooper had granted him the amount of time his second place position deserved. I'm willing to be convinced by Thompson too, though running him against Hillary would be 1996 all over again.

Giuliani was Giuliani. I know his story, I like him, I don't think he hurt himself tonight. In contrast to Romney citing Bill Cosby, Giuliani's answer to the black on black violence question was spot on. Giuliani reduced black on black violence by reducing violent crime, drastically. Even Romney had to admit that Rudy got results.

Paul has no business being in these debates. He's not a Republican and he's only a distraction who wastes minutes that should go to the real candidates. Everybody knows that, but the media hates Republicans so much I wouldn't be surprised if they invited Paul to participate in the general election debates.

Huckabee's answer on the Bible question was excellent, but he is a preacher.* I'm still leaning Huckabee, but the guy who really rose in my opinion was Duncan Hunter. He's good on all my issues as far as I could tell. No chance to win, but he may be the most solid conservative on the stage. McCain, as always, was great on Iraq and the War on Terror. I'm glad he reminded people that he was the only one who was right on Rumsfeld and the new Petraeus strategy. Tancredo was bumbling and innefectual, as always.

Did anybody miss Brownback, Gilmore or Tommy Thompson? I didn't.

Update: Iowa and Florida Polling shows Huckabee the clear winner.

Also, some good stuff at The Scratching Post, including shoes!

* Giuliani's rambling answer came close to an approximation of liberal Catholic doctrine as I was taught by Jesuits. The actual Catholic doctrine is codified in the Catechism as follows:

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures."

Still, the Christian faith is not a "religion of the book." Christianity is the religion of the "Word" of God, a word which is "not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living". If the Scriptures are not to remain a dead letter, Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, must, through the Holy Spirit, "open [our] minds to understand the Scriptures."
[emphasis added]

But I prefer St. Augustine's answer :
For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.

Posted by annika, Nov. 28, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 26, 2007



The new bumper sticker for people who can't go five friggin' minutes without pimpin' their third place guy.

Posted by annika, Nov. 26, 2007 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry & photoshopaholic

May 20, 2007

Who's Next?

Gigantic rock concerts are good for hearing crappy live renditions of old songs, seeing the backs of a lot of people's heads, getting wasted and dehydrated, and later on wearing a t-shirt so you can say how fun it all was.

But if they couldn't even get Kerry elected, how can they be expected to save the world?

Daltrey and Geldof, veterans of just about every big charity concert in history, apparently believe as I do.

THE WHO's ROGER DALTRY has blasted the big Wembley gig Gore is organising to raise awareness of global warming.

The huge concert - which features performances from the likes of MADONNA and RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - is taking place at Wembley on July 7 and in other countries around the world.

But Roger, who played with U2 at Live Aid and Live8, reckons the whole thing is a waste of time.

Speaking exclusively to Bizarre, Roger said: "Bo***cks to that! The last thing the planet needs is a rock concert.

"I can't believe it. Let's burn even more fuel.

"We have problems with global warming, but the questions and the answers are so huge I don't know what a rock concert's ever going to do to help.

"Everybody on this planet at the moment, unless they are living in the deepest rainforest in Brazil, knows about climate change.

The rocker, who used to sing about my g-generation, added: "My answer is to burn all the f***ing oil as quick as possible and then the politicians will have to find a solution.

Actually, that last one is a brilliant idea. In a sense, that's why I no longer complain about high gas prices. They're the only way to truly motivate people to conserve and find alternative energy sources.

Here's what Geldof said:

Roger's comments come hot on the heels of SIR BOB GELDOFs equally scathing views.

Last week the Live Aid hero lashed out, saying: "Why is Gore actually organising them? To make us aware of the greenhouse effect?

"Everybody's known about that problem for years. We are all f***ing conscious of global warming."

Roger Daltrey earned even more respect from me, by recognizing that these mega-benefit boondoggles have become exercises in musical back-slapping.
Again Roger complains that unlike the original Live Aid in 1985, where the money went directly to famine relief, the follow-up 20 years later had no achievable aims.

Roger moaned: "What did we really achieve at Live 8? We got loads of platitudes and no action.

"Who were we kidding there?"

I think what he's saying is, "The sixties are over dudes." It's time to start trusting people over 30. Or at least stop believing music can change the world like you did when you were 18.

h/t Cranky

Posted by annika, May. 20, 2007 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 17, 2007

If She Can't Even Choose A Campaign Theme Song...

...how can we expect her to make the life-or-death decisions concerning national security?

Hillary wants you to pick a song for her.

Update: I just realized there's a write in spot at the bottom of Hillary's voting list. Go stuff the ballot box with The Bitch Is Back!

h/t 6MB

Posted by annika, May. 17, 2007 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 12, 2007

Scott Card On GW

From Orson Scott Card's* recent column, "Civilization Watch," on the global warming debate:

How many thousands do you want to spend this year on preventing global warming? And after you find out that there's no proof that humans even cause it, or that it's even a bad thing, how many thousands do you want to spend "just in case"?

Two thousand? Surely you can afford two thousand. What about five thousand?

You're not writing your check. I guess you're not such a true believer after all.

[GW advocate and columnist Andrew] Brod also ignores the fact that the British government report was issued in support of policy changes that are, by any rational standard, pathetic. The changes they are making are ludicrously inadequate to change the levels of greenhouse gases to any significant degree. Given that the results will be near zero, any costs, however divided, might seem exorbitant.

Brod likens this to insurance, but it is not. Insurance is designed to pay you money after a loss. It does not prevent a loss. The valid comparison is to protection money: Somebody comes to you and demands you pay money "or you might have a fire." You pay the money so that they won't burn you out of business.

That's what the global-warming protection racket is about: Hey, we can't prove anything is actually happening, but look how many people we've got to agree with us! You'd better make a whole bunch of sacrifices which, by coincidence, exactly coincide with the political agenda of the anti-Western anti-industrial religion of ecodeism -- or global warming will get you!

Regarding proof, it should be obvious that there can be no proof of a theory that is designed to predict future events. Predictions of future catastrophe can only be proven by waiting to see if it happens. Computerized models that purport to project future events are not proof that those events will take place.

At the most basic metaphysical level, we are all ignorant of the future. I can predict that the earth will continue to revolve as it did today, and thus the sun will come up tomorrow. But to a metaphysical certainty, I have no idea whether I will be proven correct until it happens. If I look out my window, I can't even say for certain that the earth is spinning, or even that it is round. For those facts, I rely on the scientific consensus and my blind faith in the research and observations of others. I have enough confidence in those observations that I don't worry if they are wrong.

But global warming predictions are not based on observations. They can't be, because no one can observe the future. Therefore, when I make a judgment that global warming science is right or wrong, metaphysically speaking, I have no idea what the truth is. Whatever my opinion is, it can only be based on the observations of others, since I have not done the research. But the important point is that nobody has made the relevant observations necessary for proof. Not even the scientists. The data cannot be collected or observed, since the data does not yet exist.

For hundreds of years, Newton's laws were considered to be truth for two simple reasons. First, they accurately described the observed motion of objects and second, they accurately predicted the motion of objects as observed in the future. Based on the technology that existed to detect the necessary proof, Newton's laws were reliable.

Now, of course, we know that Newton's laws are wrong or at least incomplete. Einstein has superceded them. Only advances in technology have allowed us to see that descriptions of reality based on Newton's work could only approximate reality. Newton gets us close enough for most purposes, but metaphysically speaking, it is not truth.

Yet for hundreds of years, Newton's laws were indistinguishable from the accepted version of reality. (Einstein blew a hole in that by showing us that reality itself is relative.) But the point I'm trying to make is that scientific consensus does not equal truth even if the scientific consensus, as with pre-Einsteinian physics, conforms to observed reality and appears to predict future observed reality. Global warming theory, since it seeks to predict catastrophes that are far off in the future, doesn't even have those things going for it.

h/t protein wisdom

* A science fiction writer. I read his most famous book Ender's Game, and thought it was creepy and over-rated.

Which is not to say that GW science is wrong, only that we can not presently know whether it's right or wrong. This is why there's such an emphasis on "consensus." But the media, who don't understand the scientific method, continue to misrepresent "consensus" as truth, when in fact it is not. Without the ability to obtain proof, consensus is about the best people can do, but it is still something short of proof.

Posted by annika, May. 12, 2007 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 10, 2007

Draft Thurl Ravenscroft!

I feel the need to disabuse you all of the myth that is Fred Thompson.

Fred Thompson is not the savior. Repeat. Fred Thompson is not the savior. He does not ride a white stallion. He does not wear a white hat. Thus, he can not ride to the rescue of a Republican party that has lost its way. Stop expecting him to.

I'm not convinced that Fred Thompson will enter the presidential race. Neither am I convinced that if he runs he will win the nomination. He's currently polling third. Third is not first. Third is third. And right now that means he's in the low teens. Despite the fact that a lot of otherwise reasonable people think he's a viable candidate, polling in the teens does not indicate a huge groundswell of support.

I think a lot of people are projecting their own hopes on Fred, unreasonably. Sure, none of the top candidates are perfect conservatives. Sure, George W. Bush has been a disappointment for those of us who idolize Ronald Reagan. But wishing Fred Thompson is another Ronald Reagan does not make him so. And wishing Fred Thompson is another Ronald Reagan does not make him electable.

I've accepted this fact and you should too: We will not see another Ronald Reagan in our lifetime. The best we can hope for is that our presidents try to emulate him, but they will never duplicate him. The man was that great.

Please also remember the following (those of you who know a lot about Reagan should already know this): Reagan was a great man and a great president because above all, he was a great thinker. He thought big things, and he thought about them all his life. Before he entered politics he had his own idea of how the world should work. When he entered public life he put his ideas into practice. But make no mistake, the thinking part came first.

Fred Thompson has it exactly backwards, and too many people are forgetting that. Reagan left acting to enter public service. Fred Thompson left public service to become an actor. That should tell you something about their comparative priorities.

And don't tell me people aren't attracted to Thompson in large part because he is an actor. I'm sure the theory is that his acting experience should give him the ability to connect to the average voter. Reagan was an actor and he was "the great communicator." Therefore all actors who run for office should make great communicators. It sounds silly when you say it out loud because it is silly.

"But," you say, "Fred Thompson agrees with me on all the issues." Yah well, so do I. Why don't you write my name in? Being right on the issues is not enough, and never has been. Running for president is a huge, difficult job and I don't think Fred has what it takes to win.

First, you gotta have the right contacts, and lots of them. What contacts does Fred have? Contacts get you donors, and volunteers, who in turn get you money. You need a lot of money to run for president, and this time around you need a lot more than during past elections because the big states have all moved their primaries up front. Name recognition is not enough.

You still need money because you have to pay big staffs, and consultants, and they all have to travel, and you have to buy ads and computers and cell phones and pay rent on offices in fifty states, and spend your money on countless other expenses that eat it up like crazy. At this late date, Thompson's rivals have too big a head start.

Besides that, all the most experienced consultants are spoken for. Who's going to guide Thompson's campaign? Will he have to settle for some amateur? If you think these things don't matter, you're dreaming. Bush got half his contacts from family and business connections. The other half Karl Rove brought with him.

I'll always remember something I heard Phil Jackson say to his team in a huddle during one of their losing playoff runs. "I know you guys want to win, wanting to win is not enough." I know lots of people want Thompson to win, but it's not enough. He has to have the resources, the money, the people, the contacts, the ideas and the fire in the belly. I don't see him having any of that stuff. All I see is a relatively likeable conservative, who's been flattered way too much for anyone's good.

And as for qualifications, I have as much executive experience as Fred Thompson. What has he ever run in his life? A few months ago I explained one reason why I prefer candidates with executive experience over former legislators.

Theoretically, executives must work in the real world where results are expected. Therefore, they should be more results oriented. Legislators on the other hand, work in a world of theoretical projections, possibilities and imaginary outcomes. When they fuck up, they're rarely held to account because they simply blame the other party, the executive, or both.
Even giving him the benefit of the doubt, Thompson only had eight years experience in the Senate. What are his accomplishments? If you can name any, how do they match up with Rudy's, or Romney's or Huckabee's records as executives. Even more than running for the post, being president is also a huge, difficult job. Thompson would need on-the-job training. I don't care how solid he is on the issues. I'm really not sure I want someone who's never run an organization running the executive branch of the most important organization on the planet.

"But, he's got a great speaking voice..." Okay. He does have a pleasant baritone. But if that's all it takes to get your vote, why stop at baritone? Why not draft a bass? If vocal timbre is all it takes to be president, we should have had a President Thurl Ravenscroft!


Posted by annika, May. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 09, 2007

Republican Primary Update

On one issue, I am not a "big tent" Republican. I don't think there should be room for pro-abortion candidates in the Republican party. But I think abortion is a great moral evil, so it follows that I don't think there should pro-abortion candidates in the Democratic party either. Nevertheless, I don't live in a perfect world. Much as I am confounded by his illogical position on the abortion issue, Rudy Giuliani is still the front-runner for my party's nomination.

But the same can't be said of Mitt Romney, who even after getting rave reviews for his debate performance last Thursday night, still remains mired in fourth place. Gallup even has him losing ground after the debate.

What's the difference between Romney and Giuliani? Both have flip-flopped on abortion. (So did I, by the way. Although I came over from the dark side much earlier than Romney, who "says" he switched in 2004). Giuliani donated to Planned Parenthood three times. Romney's wife donated $150 only once, back in 1994.

Both men supposedly have an impressive record of accomplishments. Rudy's is better known to me. He fixed an unfixable city, I watched him do it. Romney did something or other with the Olympics and as far as I know he was a successful governor of Massachussets.

One might say it's anti-Mormon prejudice. It might be, there certainly is some of that going on. But I don't think that explains all of it. I personally don't have any problem with Romney's religion, yet I don't like him at all. What's up with that?

I think one reason I don't like him is that he polls so badly, and I badly want to win. Would I like him better if he were a stronger candidate? Perhaps. I'm open to voting for Romney in the primary (which is more than I can say for Rudy or McCain), if Romney could somehow prove that he can beat Hillary, but so far he hasn't proven that.

Then there's the intangible slickness factor. Romney seems slick. I'll admit that's a silly reason not to vote for somebody, but I doubt I'm the only one who has noticed it about him. I also doubt I'm the only one who's slick-averse after eight years of Clinton. Would America vote for slick over shrew? I don't know. But I do know Romney's got a lot of work to do if he's going to get my vote.

For now, I'm leaning towards Mike Huckabee. He impressed me* during last week's debate, although he's not good on tax policy from what I understand. He has zero chance in hell of winning the nomination and Hillary would crush him like a bug anyway. But I always vote my conscience in the primary, and save my pragmatism for the general.

* And a lot of people.

Posted by annika, May. 9, 2007 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 03, 2007

A's J Healthcare Survey

Just out of curiosity:

Free polls from Pollhost.com
Do you have health insurance?
Yes. No.   

Posted by annika, May. 3, 2007 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Battle Royal

Memo to Republican candidates: here's one way to get Hillary's goat. Be polite. That was what Rick Lazio got wrong, when he did his famous "space invading" gesture during the 2000 NY senate race.

For more than two hours, France's presidential front-runner needled his challenger during a debate Wednesday, wrapping it in a veneer of chivalry and always addressing her as "Madame."

Finally, Segolene Royal snapped. The woman seeking to become France's first female president erupted in anger toward the end of the prime-time duel with conservative Nicolas Sarkozy.

It was surprising -- and potentially damaging -- that Royal, not Sarkozy, proved quick to anger. During their bitter election campaign, the Socialist has sought to portray her conservative rival as too unstable, too brutal, to lead the nuclear-armed nation.

In front of millions of television viewers, Sarkozy turned the tables. Royal got furious when he started talking about disabled children, saying he was "playing" with the issue. "I am very angry," she said.

"You become unhinged very easily, Madame," Sarkozy said. "To be president of the republic, one must be calm. . . . I don't know why Mrs. Royal, who's usually calm, has lost her calm."

Smooth move, Sarko!

Hey does anybody speak French? I think this is the video.

By the way, I know nothing about French politics, except that Royal is a hottie, and she's a socialist. Sarkozy, I remember, got in trouble during the recent "youth" riots for stating the obvious: that the rioters were thugs.

Posted by annika, May. 3, 2007 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 02, 2007

Romney's Book

Does Romney want to be president or not? Because naming Battlefield Earth as his favorite novel was probably not the best choice he could have made. It's not enough that he has that "Mormon problem," now he's got to add a "Scientology problem" to it.

Posted by annika, May. 2, 2007 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 27, 2007

Lessons From The Iraq Experience

Allow me to recommend two essential articles from Armed Forces Journal that I think are necessary reading for those of us not on the fringes, who strive to understand rather than shout slogans back and forth. I find little to disagree with in either piece.

The first is "A Failure In Generalship," by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling. Colonel Yingling places blame squarely on Rumsfeld and his generals, for the failure to achieve our goals in Iraq.

The intellectual and moral failures common to America's general officer corps in Vietnam and Iraq constitute a crisis in American generalship. Any explanation that fixes culpability on individuals is insufficient. No one leader, civilian or military, caused failure in Vietnam or Iraq. Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts produced similar results. In both conflicts, the general officer corps designed to advise policymakers, prepare forces and conduct operations failed to perform its intended functions. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps.
My only criticism of Yingling's article would be against his proposal that Congress assert more control over the selection and promotion of general officers. On the contrary, while Congress has a role, it's the executive's job to select military leaders who can get the job done. I believe Yingling is correct to criticize the culture of conformity that produced sub-par generals at the war's outset. But that's common in every major conflict. War is a results-oriented game, and typically the dross is burned away after the first few months of battle.

In the case of Iraq, we had an unusual tendency towards inertia that can only be blamed on Bush and Rumsfeld's management styles. Whether you want to call it admirable loyalty or excessive stubbornness, neither Bush nor the SecDef were willing to change horses when necessary to get results. Of what other successful wartime administration can this be said? Not Lincoln's, not FDR's, not Truman's.

To be fair, one reason for this President's inertia was the withering and omnipresent criticism from the left, whether by Democrats or internationally. Bush, rightly or wrongly, made the decision that sticking to his original plan and personnel was better than adapting midstream to the changing situation on the battlefield. His enemies so vehemently accused him of being wrong, that he overcompensated in an effort to prove that he was right.

I don't give Bush a pass on this. It's no excuse to say that he did what he did because the left made him do it. It's the commander-in-chief's job to husband the souls of those men and women serving our country as wisely as possible. I'll grant him the best of intentions; I know the President feels every loss of life personally and deeply. But, good intentions are not enough. As I've said many times before, what we need is results, and the responsibility for getting results lies ultimately with the president. If Franks, Casey and Abizaid were not getting the job done and I don't think they were Bush should have been quick with the hook. (Bush knows baseball; he should have taken a lesson from old Sparky Anderson.)

The essential constraint that the entire war team missed is the constraint of time and patience. In a democracy, this constraint is strict and onerous, especially now in our hyper-political environment where the opposing party turns every issue into a power-play. Time and patience are part of the battlefield, and Bush's advisors were negligent in failing to stress that fact. Success in Iraq, if it was/is to be had, must be had quickly, with sufficient force and resources to get it quickly. Unfortunately, Bush and Company acted like they had all day long. Instead, time has now nearly run out.

The second article, by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (ret.), is called "Wanted: Occupation Doctrine." His point of view is decidedly Machiavellian, but in a good way. Peters catalogues some lessons we should take heed of when planning for the next counterinsurgency campaign.

Consider just a few essential rules for successful occupations all of which we violated in Iraq:

Plan for the worst case. Pleasant surprises are better than ugly ones.

All else flows from security. Martial law, even if imposed under a less-provocative name, must be declared immediately it's far easier to loosen restrictions later on than to tighten them in the wake of anarchy. This is one aspect of a general principle: Take the pain up front.

Unity of command is essential.

The occupier's troop strength should be perceived as overwhelming and his forces ever-present.

Key military leaders, staff officers, intelligence personnel and vital civilian advisers must be committed to initial tours of duty of not less than two years for the sake of continuity.

Control external borders immediately.

Don't isolate troops and their leaders from the local population.

Whenever possible, existing host-country institutions should be retained and co-opted. After formal warfare ends, don't disband organizations you can use to your advantage.

Give local opinion-makers a stake in your success, avoid penalizing midlevel and low-level officials (except war criminals), and get young men off the streets and into jobs.

Don't make development promises you can't keep, and war-game reconstruction efforts to test their necessity, viability and indirect costs (an occupation must not turn into a looting orgy for U.S. or allied contractors).

Devolve responsibility onto local leaders as quickly as possible while retaining ultimate authority.

Do not empower returned expatriates until you are certain they have robust local support.

The purpose of cultural understanding is to facilitate the mission, not to paralyze our operations. Establish immediately that violent actors and seditious demagogues will not be permitted to hide behind cultural or religious symbols.

Establish flexible guidelines for the expenditure of funds by tactical commanders and for issuing local reconstruction contracts. Peacetime accountability requirements do not work under occupation conditions and attempts to satisfy them only play into the hands of the domestic political opposition in the U.S. while crippling our efforts in the zone of occupation.

Rigorously control private security forces, domestic or foreign. In lieu of a functioning state, we must have a monopoly on violence.

Many of the above precepts have been adopted by Gen. Petraeus and his staff, now in charge of the war effort. For that reason, I'm hopeful that success is not yet beyond our grasp.

In the article, Peters uses the word "occupation," but he doesn't apologize for it.

The first step in formulating usable doctrine is to sweep aside the politically correct myths that have appeared about occupations. Occupations are military activities. Period. An Army general must be in charge, at least until the security environment can be declared benign with full confidence. Historically, the occupations that worked often brilliantly, as in the Philippines, Germany and Japan were run by generals, not diplomats. This is another mission the Army doesn't want, but no other organization has the wherewithal to do it.
It's obvious that Colonel Peters has a distinct pro-military, anti-Foggy Bottom bias. I share that bias.
Consider the prevailing claim that an occupation is a team effort involving all relevant branches of government: The problem is that the rest of the team doesn't show up. The State Department, as ambitious for power as it is incompetent to wield it, insists that it should have the lead in any occupation, yet has neither the leadership and management expertise, the institutional resources nor the personnel required (among the many State-induced debacles in Iraq, look at its appetite for developing Iraqi police forces and its total failure to deliver).

The military is the default occupier, since its personnel can be ordered into hostile environments for unlimited periods; State and other agencies rely on volunteers and, in Iraq, the volunteers have not been forthcoming even when the tours for junior diplomats were limited to a useless 90 days and dire warnings were issued about the importance of Iraq duty to careers.

These two articles deserve wide readership. Print them out and read them on your lunch hour.

Posted by annika, Apr. 27, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 25, 2007

Skadefryd Part 2: Rosie O'Donald Is Out

According to TMZ. Good news, I guess, but why don't they just cancel The View? While she was there it was easy to blame Rosie, but the show sucked long before she arrived.

Rosie hasn't announced yet, but how much you wanna bet she's going to spin it as "her decision," to "pursue other interests," blah blah blah. It won't be the fact that nobody likes a bully and she's a bully.

Rosie is the left's equivalent of Michael Savage a loud, bigoted, egotistical, ignorant clown. The only reason Rosie gets away with it on tv and Savage is relegated to after-hours radio is that tv execs agree with Rosie's bullshit.

via Hot Air

Update: Rosie said, "my needs for the future just didn't dovetail with what ABC was able to offer me."

I was close. She just left out the "blah blah blah" part.

Posted by annika, Apr. 25, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 23, 2007

Skadefryd: Kiki On The Ropes

From The Philadelphia Enquirer, rumor has it that Kiki Couric, "an expensive, unfixable mistake," may get the boot next year.

[T]he former star of NBC's Today has failed to move the Nielsen needle on No. 3 Evening News since her debut seven months ago.

In a bottom-line business like television, that's a cardinal sin. Already-low morale in the news division is dropping, says a veteran correspondent there.

"It's a disaster. Everybody knows it's not working. CBS may not cut her loose, but I guarantee you, somebody's thinking about it. We're all hunkered down, waiting for the other shoe to drop."

Seven correspondents, producers and executives at CBS and other networks interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity, given the sensitive nature of the Couric situation.

Couric and CBS were a bad fit from the start.

"From the moment she walked in here, she held herself above everybody else," says a CBS staffer. "We had to live up to her standards. . . . CBS has never dealt in this realm of celebrity before."

Media experts predict Couric's ratings won't improve anytime soon, given that news viewers tend to be older and averse to change.

Couric, 50, draws fewer viewers than did avuncular "interim" anchor Bob Schieffer, 20 years her senior. Much of the feature-oriented format she debuted with is gone, as is her first executive producer, Rome Hartman.

"The broadcast is an abject failure, by any measure," says Rich Hanley, director of graduate programs at the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University.

"They gambled that viewers wanted a softer, less-dramatic presentation of the news, and they lost. It's not fair to blame Couric for everything, but she's certainly the centerpiece and deserves a fair share."

CBS Evening News this season averages 7.319 million total viewers, down 5 percent from the same period a year ago, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Couric's viewership has dropped nearly 30 percent since her Sept. 5 premiere week, when she averaged an inflated 10.2 million viewers and led CBS News to its first Nielsen win since June 2001.

"A bad fit from the start" is an understatement. To be absolutely fair, I would also use the descriptors "lightweight" and "clueless bimbo."

Have you watched Couric lately? Talk about deer in the headlights, she makes Kathleen Blanco look like the embodiment of "confidence" by comparison.

Posted by annika, Apr. 23, 2007 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 19, 2007

Bradford Wiles Update

Remember a few posts ago, I quoted from a prescient op-ed by VT grad student Bradford Wiles, published eight months ago?

Well, somebody did track Wiles down for his comment on this week's horrific event. Here's what he said:

On Tuesday, Wiles stood by that opinion in the wake of this week's massacre, telling Cybercast News Service that "the only way to stop someone with a gun is somebody else with a gun."

"The entire campus was a place where someone knew they could inflict the most damage with the least amount of armed resistance, and that's what you get with gun control," Wiles said. "If you let people like myself carry a gun legally ... then you have the possibility of stemming the tide."

Wiles, who wasn't near the campus buildings where Monday's shootings took place, said he doesn't believe an armed student could have prevented all of the bloodshed. But, he added, "even if just one person is not shot by that gunman because somebody had their legally licensed concealed firearm on them, isn't that enough?"

h/t Buckeye Firearms Association News

Posted by annika, Apr. 19, 2007 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 18, 2007

NBC Completely And Irresponsibly Throws Standards Out The Window

In pursuit of $ensationalism and the almighty ratings point, NBC proves that there is no longer any such thing as responsible media. Oh, Brian Williams made a big show about "not wanting to make Cho into a hero," even while holding up the pictures Cho intended to cement himself into the popular mythology.

NBC should have shredded the entire package immediately, not even handed it to the police, just burnt it as surely as Cho is burning in hell right now. Do they really think there aren't future sickos who will idolize Cho and memorize every word in his multimedia manifesto? Do they really think there's any possible journalistic justification that outweighs the virtual gaurantee that someone will idolize and imitate Cho the same way Cho idolized and imitated the Columbine murderers? Do they not understand that publishing the pictures and airing the video only gives the next mass murderer something to outdo?

Fucking assholes! But when the next mass murderer cryptically references the VT killer in his manifesto, you won't hear NBC or their ilk pointing the finger at themselves for creating the "cult of Cho." No, next time it will be "lax gun laws" all over again, and "easy availability of weapons," and "the incredible firepower of the nine millimeter," and "the NRA lobbyists," etc.

Posted by annika, Apr. 18, 2007 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Clinton Is In Trouble

I still think she'll win the nomination, but clearly Senator Clinton is in a dogfight. The RealClearPolitics average has her leading Bronco Bomber by only 6 points!

Update: More at Wizbang. Hillary's favorable/unfavorable rating is in freefall too.

Posted by annika, Apr. 18, 2007 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 17, 2007

More Thoughts On VA Tech

Here are some more random thoughts on the shooting, which occurred to me throughout the day.

The touchy-feely methods of preventing this type of violence failed miserably yesterday. For instance, one oft-cited preventive measure is for faculty members to watch for signs of a troubled loner with possible violent tendencies, then send him to counseling. This was done in Cho's case, by one of his English professors, to no avail.

After Columbine there was no end to the re-education and awareness-raising on the dangers of bullying. Kids were taught not to make fun of outcasts, but to be nice to them. Again, in Cho's case, members of his peer group tried to befriend the loner during sophomore year. One said they invited him to lunch, tried to get him to laugh and come out of his "funk." Again, this was done, to no avail. He apparently did laugh during the lunch, but it didn't change anything.

Time Magazine, perhaps the most ridiculously out-of-touch major news source in America today, professes to know "how to make campuses safer." Frikkin joke. Here's the best they came up with:

Some schools like Princeton train professors how to spot signs of depression, and access to mental-health services is a big part of preventive efforts on many campuses. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to tell someone if they see suspicious or troubling activity. Says Gene Burton, public safety director at Ball State University: "You need to get everyone on board." But as colleges and universities learned on Monday, it often takes a tragedy to expose just how many weaknesses there are in the system.
As I wrote above, they did that! It didn't work! Time Magazine... clueless fukkin idiots.

More: OMG, not to be outdone, CNN is just about as clueless as Time Magazine. No wonder they're joined at the hip.

Watch this video, which contains the absolutely hilarious warning that a semi-automatic handgun can fire bullets "as fast as you can pull the trigger!"

Dun-dun-dun duuuunnnh!

If anyone knows of a gun on the market that does not shoot bullets "as fast as you can pull the trigger," please let me know. I will make sure I don't have any of the manufacturer's stock in my portfolio.

Update: The anti-American New York Times reports that "officers also found several knives on Mr. Chos body." Will there be calls for stricter knife control? It's not unheard of.

Posted by annika, Apr. 17, 2007 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 16, 2007

Tech Shooting

The point has been made over and over again, and I'm sure I don't need to mention it on this blog, but I'll do it anyway.

It's ironic that some people who are criticizing the school for its response to the initial shootings this morning are the same people who will be calling for tighter gun control in the future.

If we learned anything from Katrina, it's the same thing we learned again today:

You cannot rely on the government to protect you from every harm!

In a land where the citizenry is unarmed, the government is the only thing that stands between a criminal and his victim. Thus, the one thing these types of shooters know is that all they need to do is outsmart the government in order to accomplish their evil.

Government, specifically the police, do certain things well, but preventing random acts of violence is not one of them. They can only respond after the fact. And the difference between that first 911 call and the arrival of SWAT (usually after the shooter has killed himself) today was measured in 32 innocent lives.

So when people ask "why didn't the school officials shut down the school right away?" the answer is, "well, I guess they fucked up." (Even though on a campus the size of Virginia Tech, I'm not sure that was practical, or that it would have even prevented the tragedy. Who's to say he wouldn't have found some other populated place to go on his rampage?)

Yes, government fucks up sometimes. Recognize this reality. Embrace it. Own it. Because the sooner we realize that government cannot gaurantee our safety, the sooner we'll stop willingly handing away our right to protect ourselves.

More: KG at Crusader Rabbit has a partial list of recent school shootings worldwide. And John Hawkins correctly identifies the deadliest school mass murder in U.S. history, the 1927 Bath School bombing.

Still more: I wonder if anyone in the MSM will contact VT grad student Bradford B. Wiles, just to see if his opinion has changed any by the events of today. My guess would be no on both counts.

Mr. Giles wrote the following in an op-ed published last August, after he had been evacuated from a campus building in the previous on-campus incident.

I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.

I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.

First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.

Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.

Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.

Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.

Read the whole piece here.

h/t Dymphna at Gates of Vienna

Update: Anti-American AP reports the following:

Two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been announced, said Cho's fingerprints were found on the guns used in both shootings. The serial numbers on the two weapons had been filed off, the officials said.

One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol.

Did anyone think to ask why Cho would go through the trouble of filing off the serial numbers, then carry the receipt around with him?!?!!? Something is not right with that story. Why would somebody take the receipt with him on a shooting rampage? Especially after filing the serial numbers off (which isn't easy by the way)? Gun receipts are multi-page documents, at least mine is. If you ask me, it would be real convenient for the gun-grabbers if they could say this gun was bought legally just a few weeks ago.

Must-read: Publicola deconstructs the incident in his inimitable way.

[I]t has been preached from every rooftop of every school that resistance is bad. We even had a politician proposing using books as bullet proof shields as a solution to school violence. Not too long ago a teacher in Texas was "re-assigned" because he dared teach his students to fight back even if unarmed. For a number of reasons political & cultural we simply do not on the whole wish to face the idea that violence is an acceptable option in any situation.

That, & not the school's reaction (or lack thereof) contributed to the deaths & injuries at VT. [links omitted]

My friend Publicola says he can't take credit for my becoming a gun owner. That's wrong. It was he and Katrina that made me take the leap. Unfortunately, in California, the gun laws are designed to prevent self-defense. But as my sidebar quiz shows, if somebody busts into my home, I won't be jumping out the second story window.

Posted by annika, Apr. 16, 2007 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 12, 2007

Annika Asks Her Readers 2.0

What do you think? Will the Don Imus auto da fe, recently concluded, have the unintended result of making it easier to execute Rosie O'Donald when she makes her inevitable next outrageous statement?

In other words, is the threshold of firable offenses now so low that Rosie will no longer be able to get away with the shit she's been pulling for months on The View?

Or does the Imus controversy have no relevance to Rosie, since the culturally designated Torquemadas, Sharpton and Jackson, are unlikely to be offended by anything Rosie might say?

Posted by annika, Apr. 12, 2007 | link | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 11, 2007

Bill Whittle's Newest

If you're like me, who waits impatiently for each great essay by Bill Whittle to come out, wait no more. The newest one is up! In it, Bill hits upon the motivation I've always suspected was the driving force behind the popularity of conspiracy theories: self-esteem. Or rather, the lack of it.

[M]ost normal people do not look at life from within a pit of failure and despair. Our lives are measured by small successes -- like raising children, serving in the military, doing volunteer work at your church or just doing the right thing in a thousand small but important ways, like returning money if someone makes you too much change.

These are simply the small, ordinary milestones of a life of value. They give you a sense of identity.

But if I didnt have that sense of identity rooted in my own small achievements, I wonder how likely it would have been for me to grab onto that sense of sudden empowerment, of being an initiate in some arcane club of hidden wisdom. I wonder what might have happened to me if being the Holder of Secret Knowledge had been my only source of self-esteemthe one redeeming landmark in a life of isolation and failure. Indeed, I wonder what power such a worldview would have over me if I could believe that behind the scenes lurked vast and unknowable dark forces forces that could topple a president and perhaps even explain why a person of my deep, vast and bountiful talents was not doing a whole lot better in life?

When I uploaded my footage of the Truther at Ground Zero on YouTube, I intentionally checked the "no comments" box. For some reason, YouTube still submits comments for my approval and sure enough some idiot upbraided me for not drinking his particular flavor of kool-aid. I don't remember his exact words, but it was something like, "stop watching American Idol and do some research." I had to laugh at the irony of that.

To paraphrase Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, "and where did you do your hard hitting data research... in your ass?"

Posted by annika, Apr. 11, 2007 | link | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

My First And Only Duke Lacrosse Related Post

Now that the Duke Lacrosse thing is over, I think it's an appropriate time to review what did not happen in Durham. So here's Mary Katharine Ham to remind us, in a video she did way back in December.

Posted by annika, Apr. 11, 2007 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Latest LA Times/Bloomberg Poll

The latest LA Times/Bloomberg poll on the Iraq War contains a real surprise, which might explain why nobody is reporting it. The poll is dated April 5th through April 9th. The key question is this:

Generally speaking, do you think setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq hurts or helps U.S. troops serving in Iraq right now, or doesn't it affect the troops one way or the other?
And the responses, no doubt highly disappointing to the LA Times and other anti-American news organizations, were as follows (emphasis mine):
Hurts: 50%
Helps: 27%
No Effect: 15%
Unsure: 8%
The really crazy thing about the poll is that the next question asks whether the President should sign a funding authorization that includes a timetable for withdrawal, or veto it. The poll found 48% of respondents favoring such a timetable! Even though 50% believe it would harm the troops! Not only that, 45% believe Congress should "refuse to pass any funding bill until Bush agrees to accept conditions for withdrawal." Again, even though it harms the troops.

So much for Americans supporting the troops, if you believe the poll.

Predictably, the only news story I found on Google that even mentions the poll is selective in its coverage i.e. they're incredibly biased. Here's the link. As of this writing, E&P completely failed to mention the first question I highlighted above, instead focusing on the second question. That's not just biased reporting, it's fucking propaganda.

Posted by annika, Apr. 11, 2007 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 10, 2007

Thank Don Imus

I have a somewhat different take on the whole Imus debacle. I've always thought he was totally overrated and I never understood his appeal or influence. Happily, living in California, I don't have to listen to him.

However, I think the huge uproar surrounding Imus's recent unfunny racial jokes, his subsequent apologies, public bitchslapping and two week suspension have shown us just how far we've come as a society that is unwilling to tolerate such insensitivity.

It is right and just that Imus be brought low, a-hole that he is.

I also firmly believe that this controversy has brought us closer to that glorious day, which will occur soon and possibly within our lifetimes, when no one will ever be insulted ever again. By anyone. At any time. In any way.


Update: It's official. Wikipedia now refers to "Imus in the Morning" in the past tense.

Posted by annika, Apr. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Rhetorical Answer

Captain Ed asks the rhetorical question on a lot of conservatives' lips these days:

[H]ow can we expect these [Democrat] candidates to face off against America's enemies when they can't bring themselves to face Fox?
The answer, of course, is that nobody expects them to face off against America's enemies either.

Posted by annika, Apr. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 06, 2007

Kiki On WWI

Here's Kiki Couric on today's anniversary of the American entry into World War I.

Did you catch that?

Listening between the lines, Kiki's message is this: If not for advances in modern medicine, over 413,000 Americans would have died fighting the Iraq war.

Am I reading too much into it? If it was anybody else, I might be, but this is the anti-American CBS News.

Posted by annika, Apr. 6, 2007 | link | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: The Huh? Files & annikapunditry

April 05, 2007

A Non-Issue For Me

I am in complete agreement with Jim Geraghty on the Pelosi head-scarf non-controversy.

I enjoy whacking around Nancy Pelosi as much as the next guy, but as far as I can tell, the photos of her in a headscarf are all of her while visiting a mosque. . . . There are a million and one reasons to object to Pelosi, but wearing the headscarf while in the mosque isn't one of them. It's akin to dressing appropriately while visiting a church, or a man wearing a yarmulke in a synagogue. It's something you do when you're a guest. It's not submission, it's respect.
I, too, looked through the entire Yahoo News photos slideshow to find a picture of Pelosi wearing the scarf outside the mosque, and there isn't any. Remember, she visited the tomb of John the Baptist, and made the sign of the cross. Before Vatican II all Catholic women covered their heads in church. I have zero problem with this and I think it hurts our credibility when we make a big stink over a non-issue and try to turn it into something it's not. Pelosi followed the same custom you and I would have done if we were in the same place. In fact, I think American women (myself included) dress far too immodestly in houses of worship. I was impressed when I visited Portugal, and saw young female tourists covering their shoulders before entering a church. So anyways, stick to hating Pelosi because she's an idiot.

Posted by annika, Apr. 5, 2007 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 04, 2007

Truth Kook Caught On Video By Yours Truly

When I heard crazy Rosie O'Donald shooting off her ignorant bullshit about WTC Building 7, I was reminded of my trip to Ground Zero in July 2003.

As my friend and I walked around the site, we saw a guy standing next to a sign with a bunch of literature. He kept talking about how the WTC was really made up of seven buildings, not just the towers. I thought, "How nice, he's not political at all, he just wants to give people a little history while they tour the site." He kept repeating the exact times that the buildings came down with special emphasis on Building 7. I thought that was odd, but it wasn't until recently that I remembered him and realized that he was a friggin Truther, defiling the scene with his craziness.

On the video I shot, you can't really see him until the very end. In the last frame, I think he's to the right of center, half hidden behind the dude in the white shirt.

Posted by annika, Apr. 4, 2007 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Capitulation Works

I suppose we should all be happy that the crisis over the kidnapped Royal Marines looks like it's coming to a peaceful end. But something doesn't feel right about the way this thing has turned out.

I mean, Britain was patrolling the Gulf for a reason, right? And whether the Marines were kidnapped outside of Iranian waters or inside, the Iranians have quite forcefully demonstrated their power to win a showdown, anytime, anywhere.

The British could have won this confrontation, gaining the marines' release, without showing the world what a bunch of groveling patsies they've become. But instead, they've given the world another reason for a false hope: that you can deal with the Iranians as long as you avoid making them mad.

And don't think I'm letting President Bush off lightly in my scorn. Sure he talked tough while it was the Brits in captivity. But this administration has done nothing except pusue diplomatic impotence, while the Iranians built more centrifuges, and yanked our chains. Where is the Iranian Lech Walensa? Where is the Iranian Solidarity movement? Does anyone think the Iron Curtain fell on its own? We pushed it over. Reagan pushed it over. The means he used weren't always open and obvious, but by this time in Reagan's second term, we could see the effects. I've been hearing about Iranian dissidents and how sick the people are of the mullahs for years now. If that's so true, we should be seeing some actual dissent over there, demonstrations, labor strikes. Again I ask, where are President Bush and Secretary Rice on this issue?

Great Britain just made the likelihood of eventual military confrontation between Iran and the West more likely. What are we doing to prevent it by toppling the dictatorship before that happens?

Update: A comment by Cruiser at The Belmont Club made the following very cogent point:

We always hear that acting aggressively towards Iran shores-up the hardliners. This is an good example of why the opposite can be true.
Cruiser reacts at his own blog, here.

Update 2: In 2005, after the London bombings, I asked, "Where is this Britiain?" I'm now sure of the answer. It no longer exists. Blair has made a mockery of James Thomson's stirring poem, and it should never be sung again, except in sarcasm.

Yes the Britain of Lord Nelson is dead. And so is the Britain of Lord Churchill who, in 1940, said:

[B]e the ordeal sharp or long, or both, we shall seek no terms, we shall tolerate no parley; we may show mercywe shall ask for none.
Yes, that Britain is dead as dead can be. Mourn it.

Posted by annika, Apr. 4, 2007 | link | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 02, 2007

McCain Loses First Primary

John McCain just lost his first primary this season: the "fundraising primary."

Sen. John McCain today announced a disappointing $12.5 million fundraising total for the first three months of 2007.

The total, which would have been impressive in past election cycles, finds McCain trailing GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Rudolph Giuliani in the crucial early money sweepstakes.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has struggled in the national polls, reported $23 million in primary election contributions, including more than $2 million of his own money. The Federal Election Commission allows candidates to collect money for their primary and general election campaigns simultaneously.

Giuliani, the Republican frontrunner in national surveys, took in more than $15 million in primary cash, including more than $10 million last month. He also transferred about $2 million from another campaign account for a total of $17 million.

This is not good news for McCain, but it's good news for America.

Memo to Senator McCain: The mainstream media is not a constituency. You pissed off the wrong people with your Gang of 14 - anti-free speech - dumbing down the definition of "torture" - Democrats are people too, views. Money flows to candidates that can win the nomination. You can't win. It's time to leave the field to Giuliani and Romney and stop sucking up attention that should be going to the legitimate candidates.

Posted by annika, Apr. 2, 2007 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 30, 2007

Key Quotes From VDH Column

Here are two key quotes from today's Victor Davis Hanson column at NRO.

Confrontation can be avoided through capitulation, and no Western nation is willing to insist that Iran adhere to any norms of behavior.

. . .

Why put European ships or planes outside of European territorial waters when that will only guarantee a crisis in which Europeans are kidnapped and held as hostages or used as bargaining chips to force political concessions?

Indeed. Why do the Europeans bother pretending that they have any spine at all?

Royal Marines don't apologize. Not willingly. But so what? They don't need to, eventually their government apologizes for them.

What we need here is not "de-escalation" rhetoric. The Iranians are playing the same hand they played in '79, because they know it works. Somebody needs to look them in the eye and say "not this time." But nobody is willing to do it. And so if nobody has the guts, why bother pretending? They should all just go home.

Posted by annika, Mar. 30, 2007 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 29, 2007

McCain Was Almost A Democrat?

Who knows if this story is true? The source is two former Democratic lawmakers, who say that McCain's chief of staff approached them in 2001 about McCain switching parties. The chief of staff denies it, although he's now a Democrat himself, which is bad enough for McCain. Of course in these types of things, it doesn't really matter if the story is true, all that matters is that the story is out there, and it fits the narrative.

McCain may be done.

My prediction for the next big Republican drama: H. Ross Thompson. Will he or won't he? (Fuck everything up, that is.)

Posted by annika, Mar. 29, 2007 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 24, 2007

Bronco Bomber Polling

Is it racist for a liberal to say "I like Obama, but I'm supporting Hillary because America's not ready to elect a black president?"*

Whether or not it's racist, that kind of attitude betrays a characteristic pessimism and contempt for America that many liberals hold but won't admit. The psychological term is called "projection," where a person attributes ones own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts and emotions onto another. Liberals are famous for projecting their own faults, so it wouldn't surprise me if there were a few closet racists in the Democratic party.

I know it's early, but Hillary still isn't beating Giuliani in head-to-head matchups, and I can't understand why Obama isn't gaining traction with Democrats. In almost every aspect, he's a better candidate for the liberals. Consistent on the war (despite the latest Clinton lie, he never flip-flopped), more likeable, a better speaker, less political baggage, got more integrity, etc., etc. And because he's from a new generation, nominating Obama over Hillary represents a step forward, not a step back.

Plus, if Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, I think Obama is the tougher matchup. Let's look at the polling.

The RealClearPolitics average has Obama losing to Giuliani by only 2.2%, whereas Queen Hillary loses to the Mayor by 4.5%. Those numbers seem close, but remember they're averages of about 4 or 5 different polls. The key is that Obama wins two of the five polls averaged in the Giuliani/Obama matchup, with Giuliani winning the other three. By contrast all four polls in the hypothetical Giuliani/Clinton matchup swing for Giuliani.

Both Hillary and Obama run neck-and-neck against McCain, but I'd give Obama the edge. RealClearPolitics has Obama beating John McCain by 1%, while Hillary loses to McCain by 1.6%. I know, I know, margin of error. But in McCain vs. Obama, McCain has the same problems as Hillary. There's a large swath of people who will never vote for the man (myself included), and his generation represents a step back, not forward.

In other matchups, while Clinton beats Romney convincingly, Obama beats Romney going away. Obama's average lead over Romney is almost 20%, and is 7.1 points higher than Hillary's lead. Actually, even John Edwards polls better against Romney than Hillary does. There's no chance that Romney could ever beat any Democrat in the general election.

Things are changing on the Democratic side, however. In the west and the south, Obama has apparently pulled dead even with Hillary. She still retains a two to one lead in the northeast. With the new über-Tuesday election giving more weight to the big states, it's going to be anybody's race, especially if Obama can take California. Even though I'm voting Republican, I'd so love to see Obama beat Hillary. I hate coronations.

* I realize I'm vulnerable to the same criticism, since I have always scoffed at the Romney candidacy. But the reason I don't think Romney can win is not because he's a Mormon. It's because he's a nobody, he looks plastic, and the country is in the middle of an anti-conservative backlash right now. Romney's been marketed as the conservative's conservative, and that's not going to go over well in the general. By contrast, Giuliani has crossover appeal because he's the anti-conservative conservative. His liberal social views make him more acceptable to the average general election voter, who fancies him or herself more "tolerant" than the typical primary voter.

Posted by annika, Mar. 24, 2007 | link | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 18, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Watch the whole thing, spread the word.

Posted by annika, Mar. 18, 2007 | link | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


My mom gave me a gift subscription to Time Magazine last year. I've tried, I've really tried to read it every week, but it's damn near impossible. It's like they deliberately try to insult me every week. I know it's the thought that counts, but I think I'm going to have to cancel my free subscription.

The problem is that Time is a liberal op-ed magazine, masquerading as a non-partisan news source. I could respect them, and even read it occasionally, if they would just admit the truth. But to do so might reduce the effectiveness of the subliminal propaganda they spit out each week. There's no way to avoid it, unless you stop grocery shopping and visiting the dentist.

If I read something in the Village Voice, or Mother Jones, or the LA Weekly, saying "all conservatives are evil" I can take it with a grain of salt, it's no big deal. But when Time Magazine, in a "news" cover story starts out like this, I get mad.

George Bush's sense of humor has always run more to frat-house gag than art-house irony, so he may not have appreciated the poetic justice any more than the legal justice on display in the Libby verdict.

Or, to be more precise, the Cheney verdict.

In a mere 46 words, Time managed to call the president of the United States a lowbrow, call him stupid, then pronounce the Libby verdict as "justice" when it's actually 180° the opposite of justice. Then to top it all off, Time proclaims that Cheney was somehow convicted by the Libby jury. And that's just the first 46 words.

You know, there's a lot of folks in this country who voted for the President, and like the President. There's a lot of folks who really like Dick Cheney, and we're not stupid. We understand that there are people who don't think so, but it's insulting to read a supposedly unbiased news magazine calling the Vice President a criminal, as if I'm supposed to agree. Like saying the Dow was at 11000, or the temperature in Minneapolis yesterday was 53°.

A few weeks ago I tossed the magazine with the pro-abortion cover in the trash without even opening it. I didn't open the one that asked "Does sending more soldiers to Iraq make any sense?" either. I knew the answer to that question. I also knew their answer, and that it was different from mine. But next week's cover really takes the cake: Ronald Reagan crying. First of all, they have no right to touch, let alone re-touch that great man's picture. Second, I simply don't trust them to write about conservative discontent without it being a 3000 word essay on schadenfreude.

And it's not even well written, or well reported. Lately they've taken to using introductory phrases like "here's how..." and "here's why..." As in "With the U.S. tied down in Iraq, a new superpower has arrived. Here's how to deal with it." Or, "The Iraq Study Group says it's time for an exit strategy, Why Bush will listen." Of course, when the President rightly ignores the ISG's report, Time ignores its faulty prediction. But that doesn't stop them from continuing to use that annoying phraseology. Another example: "As the U.S. strikes al-Qaeda, a new government tries to restore order. Here's what it will take."

That phrase bugs me so much because it's like they're assuming some sort of know-it-all status, without ever demonstrating to me that they know anything. When you're wrong as often as Time's writers are, they shouldn't be so presumptuous.

The Time story intro has become so formulaic, I could probably write a script for it if I knew how to write code. All you do is take some story that is happening, insert some anti-Republican or anti-war spin, then promise the reader that you'll have all the answers in the article by saying "here's how."

Here are some examples, just off the top of my head:

A story about JetBlue delays might be introduced like this:

While JetBlue executives struggle to regain passengers' confidence in the wake of storm caused delays, experts say global warming could damage airline stocks even further? Here's how you can protect your portfolio.
A story about Valerie Plame's testimony?
With the U.S. bogged down in Iraq, new questions surround pre-war intelligence as Valerie Plame wows Congress. Here's why her testimony will doom the Bush admistration.
Nintendo's Wii?
Millions of Americans have fallen in love with the new Wii gaming platform. Here's how Alberto Gonzales intends to ruin their fun.
It's easy, you try it.

Posted by annika, Mar. 18, 2007 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 16, 2007

The Big Issue For Election 2008...

If anyone is smart enough to capitalize on it, the big issue that may decide the next presidential election is not the war. It's the mortgage crisis. I say this because it's a pocketbook issue that will affect every voter regardless of whether they rent, own, or live with their parents. The combination of balooning payments and falling house values has a wide ranging effect on business as well as ordinary people. It could hurt all of us because the long awaited housing crash just might bring on another recession.

And guess what, we've known it was coming for at least five years but like with the dot coms, nobody wanted to say anything because too many people were making money. Everybody and their brother wanted to get in on the housing boom, and lenders were all too happy to throw cash at them. Realtors weren't going to say anything. They were like, "don't worry man, you're equity is going to skyrocket." And the lenders just said, "hey, when the adjustable hits, you can always refinance."

But as I watched this all unfold from the sidelines, I always predicted that it couldn't go on forever. Didn't the 1929 crash happen because of easy credit? And there's no way people should be spending 50% of their take home pay on a mortgage. I thought the rule of thumb was 25%, one third tops. How is your average Californian supposed to afford $450,000 for a first home? Just because some crooked lender will give you the loan with no money down, doesn't mean you should take it. But people do, because everybody's doing it.

Sacramento is a prime example. I read somewhere that this city was second only to Palm Beach, Florida in overblown housing prices. My boyfriend, God bless him, did everything wrong. When we first started going out, he was in the process of dumping a house that he had bought at the very top of the market, when properties were selling almost the day they got listed. He put it up for sale a year later, just after everything slowed down. There were about six houses with his exact same floor plan for sale within a radius of a couple of blocks. Luckily, after four months of waiting, and hardly any lookers, he sold to an investment buyer who ended up renting the house. Christopher bought at the crest and sold at the trough. Thus ended his foray into the "get rich through home ownership" scheme.

If my boyfriend hadn't sold when he did, the value of his house was in danger of falling below the amount of his mortgage. He ended up with a tiny profit, but lots of people aren't going to be so lucky. When the adjustable rate goes through the roof, and people aren't able to sell because of falling prices, look out. A lot of folks are going to get hurt.

(I also wondered what was going to happen to all those Gulf Coast homeowners, especially in New Orleans. I imagine there are going to be a lot of foreclosures down there, if there haven't already been. What if you got screwed by the insurance company, the bank still wants their money, and they don't care if you're living out of a trailer (or not) and you still haven't got your job at the liquor store back because that place went out of business too?)

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but I think the mortgage crisis is going to be a real problem. Hillary thinks so too, and savvy politician that she is, she's already made it a campaign issue. This is exactly the type of issue that Democrats win elections on because the conservative response is usually to let the free market sort itself out. People don't want to hear that. If things get really bad, Hillary will score points being the first one to call for a homeowner's bail-out. Predictably, she faults Bush for doing nothing while sub-prime lenders dug us into this hole. And you know what, I can't say she's wrong about that.

Posted by annika, Mar. 16, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 15, 2007



Please please let Edwards win the nomination.

Posted by annika, Mar. 15, 2007 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 09, 2007

Hey Gingrich Lovers...

You know who you are.

Look, I like Newt. Don't get me wrong. But you know what I like more? A Republican in the White House.

In the latest Gallup poll, which of the top candidates from both parties is the only one whose unfavorable rating is higher than their favorable rating. I'll give you a hint. It's not Hillary.


Okay, well maybe Newt hasn't been out in public enough. He should write some books. Check. He should go on Fox News. Check. He should call Hannity's show. Oh, check.

Okay, well at least there's twenty months between now and election day. That's plenty of time for Newt to change people's minds, right?

Oh, well, except that he's decided to save money by waiting until September before he gets in the race. And with a bunch of big states moving their primaries up to February 5th, that gives Newt only five months to change his image.

Okay, well maybe Newt can use the time between now and September to ramp up his public image. Do a full court press on the public. Show everybody what a great guy he is. He should start today. Give an interview with Dobson or somebody.

Oh, he did? Ouch. That's not exactly moving in the right direction, but it's a start, I guess.

Sorry Newt lovers. Stick a fork in the salamander, he's done.

h/t Hot Air

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2007 | link | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Parker v. District of Columbia

In case you haven't heard, the big news today is that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

I know, it's a shock.

The language of the decision is so out of step with the type of wishy-washy "living document" bullshit theory of Constitutional interpretation I've become resigned to, I want someone to pinch me to make sure I'm not dreaming.

We start by considering the competing claims about the meaning of the Second Amendments operative clause: the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. Appellants contend that the right of the people clearly contemplates an individual right and that keep and bear Arms necessarily implies private use and ownership. The Districts primary argument is that keep and bear Arms is best read in a military sense, and, as a consequence, the entire operative clause should be understood as granting only a collective right. The District also argues that the right of the people is ambiguous as to whether the right protects civic or private ownership and use of weapons.

In determining whether the Second Amendments guarantee is an individual one, or some sort of collective right, the most important word is the one the drafters chose to describe the holders of the right  the people. That term is found in the First, Second, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments. It has never been doubted that these provisions were designed to protect the interests of individuals against government intrusion, interference, or usurpation. We also note that the Tenth Amendment  The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people  indicates that the authors of the Bill of Rights were perfectly capable of distinguishing between the people, on the one hand, and the states, on the other. The natural reading of the right of the people in the Second Amendment would accord with usage elsewhere in the Bill of Rights.

The Districts argument, on the other hand, asks us to read the people to mean some subset of individuals such as the organized militia or the people who are engaged in militia service, or perhaps not any individuals at all  e.g., the states. . . . These strained interpretations of the people simply cannot be squared with the uniform construction of our other Bill of Rights provisions. Indeed, the Supreme Court has recently endorsed a uniform reading of the people across the Bill of Rights. . . .

. . .

It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would have lumped these provisions together without comment if it were of the view that the Second Amendment protects only a collective right. The Courts discussion certainly indicates  if it does not definitively determine  that we should not regard the people in the Second Amendment as somehow restricted to a small subset of the people meriting protection under the other Amendments use of that same term.

In sum, the phrase the right of the people, when read intratextually and in light of Supreme Court precedent, leads us to conclude that the right in question is individual.

Parker v. District of Columbia at 18-19.

But here's the best part:
The wording of the operative clause also indicates that the right to keep and bear arms was not created by government, but rather preserved by it. . . . Hence, the Amendment acknowledges the right . . . to keep and bear Arms, a right that pre-existed the Constitution like the freedom of speech. Because the right to arms existed prior to the formation of the new government . . . the Second Amendment only guarantees that the right shall not be infringed.

Id at 20-21.

That's just beautiful. Our rights "pre-existed the formation of the new government," because they came from God, not from the government. It's so easy to forget that in this age when the mere mention of the word "God" can label you as some sort of fanatic. But you don't have to believe in God to marvel at the reasoning of the Court. All you need to know is that there's a difference between the government and your rights, and in a free society, government must bow to those rights, which preceded government itself.

"People" means people, people. That's what originalism is all about. First you determine what the Constitution says (not what you wish it said), then you determine if the law in question departs from the Constitution. If it does, then there is a mechanism for changing the Constitution, specified within the Constitution. You don't simply disregard the Founding Document and make up a lie about what it really means.

This decision will make its way to the Supreme Court, and thank George W. Bush, we'll have Roberts and Alito on our side hopefully.

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2007 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Democrats Are Wimps

Why are the Democrats so afraid of Fox News? It's a live debate, what do they think will happen? It's not like Fox News might superimpose an X over John Edwards' face while she's talking. Nobody would do that.

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2007 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 08, 2007

The Way To Win, 1.0

People are making a big deal about Bronco Bomber's recent surge in the polls against Hillary, most notably among black voters. Hillary made a fool of herself in Selma, and Bomber is clearly making her scramble earlier than anyone thought she would. But she'll survive that embarrassment.

I still don't see Bronco's insurgent campaign winning the nomination in the long run. I like Bronco Bomber, I'm reading his book. I don't like his politics, but for me, he represents the end of the baby boomer stranglehold on American political leadership, which can only be a good thing. Too bad he's going up against the Clinton machine.

I'm sure that Hillary and her staff have been behind the growing list of thinly veiled attacks on the Bronco Bomber campaign. The list includes:

Clinton and her/his allies are denying that they were behind the steady drip drip of opposition research against Bronco. Clinton supporters have already tried to blame Republicans for these well timed attacks against a Democratic challenger who's still polling well behind the presumptive nominee.

That's just crazy. Republicans need Bronco Bomber to mount a strong campaign. It doesn't make sense to knock him down. Every serious political observer knows that Bronco won't win the nomination unless something catastrophic happens between now and the beginning of next year. Given a choice between an establishment front-runner and a populist challenger, Democrats will always nominate the establishment candidate. I think the only modern exception to that rule was McGovern, so you can see why they wouldn't want to make that mistake again.

From my long range vantage point almost 20 months from election day I'm beggining to see two general strategies that each party should use to ensure victory.

For the Democrats, it's easy. Hillary will be the nominee, and she will have a fight on her hands if she goes against Giuliani. That's because she won't be able to take the big blue states for granted. But Giuliani's weakness among social conservatives can be Hillary's secret weapon if she practices a bit of political judo. All she needs is a far right third party candidate, and she will cruise back into the White House. Some say the Republicans were behind Ralph Nader's candidacy back in 2000. I don't know, but it's obvious that Gore would have been president if he'd had Nader's 2% in Florida. I think a Republican Nader, like Pat Buchanan or someone of his ilk, would be just what the doctor ordered for Hillary's ailing campaign. She needs to stop worrying about Bronco and start looking for a social conservative to funnel money to.

For the Republicans, the key is in preparing the general election battlefield by defining Hillary now. She's giving them all the help they need, as she stupidly attacks Bronco through her surrogates. Every time another sneaky negative story appears in the New York Times or some other pro-Clinton organ, the Republicans should take note and tie it to her campaign. The key is to define Hillary as a female Nixon. Devious, sneaky, mean, and unlikeable. You want people thinking these things when the general election comes around.

She'll do anything to win.

That Obama guy seemed nice, and look what she did to him.

You don't want to cross her.

She has an enemies list, just like Nixon.

Her past history fits in well with this narrative. Remember Travelgate?

I had thought that Hillary's left flank might be her undoing, but now I don't think so. Other than a few scattered hecklers, I haven't seen the unhinged protesters that I expected to follow her around. I think even the true believers know that she's their best chance if they want to avoid repeating the humiliations of 2000 and 2004. That may change as Bronco gets stronger, though. Another reason why I'd like to see him continue the charge.

Posted by annika, Mar. 8, 2007 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Irony On Top Of Irony On Top Of Irony

A USC free speech group was fined by the university for posting flyers outside USC's free speech zone, which say "This is not a free speech zone."

Story at LAist.

Posted by annika, Mar. 8, 2007 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 04, 2007

Annika's Journal Now Selling Carbon Offsets

[What the hell is a carbon offset?]



Buy carbon offsets from me.

Even though I don't know what a carbon offset is, I know a moneymaker when I see one.

You, guilt ridden Annika's Journal reader that you are, can save the world! One book at a time. One DVD at a time. One moderately priced cheese sampler at a time.

First, a description of the problem.

All scientists agree that:

  1. The Earth is warming.

  2. It's your fault.

  3. You can do something about it.

  4. If you don't do something about it, the animals will die.

  5. If you don't do something about it, the good rich people will have to move away from Malibu, Palm Beach and the Upper East Side.

  6. Doing something about it should somehow involve penalizing the bad rich people like those evil corporation men.

  7. Doing something about it will make you feel good, even if the world ends up getting destroyed anyway. Or not.
[N.B. Anyone who disagrees with any of the above propositions statements of incontrovertible fact will be immediately banned from this site, and your comments removed. This is not an example of censorship. No not at all. Its just that there are certain prerequisites of intelligence and knowledge that all commenters to this blog should possess. It's what my readers expect, after all. By disagreeing with what I say is incontrovertible fact, you are demonstrating that you do not possess the minimum intelligence and knowledge required, and therefore in order to maintain the credibility of this weblog you must be smacked down sucka!!!]

Now that you understand the problem (animals dying, good people moving), I'm sure you want to know how to help. After all, Al Gore recently said that all we need in order to solve the problem is in our very own hands, except for the will to act, which we also have. Which means that we have everything we need.

But although we have everything we need, we don't have everything we want. This might seem unrelated at first but if you keep reading you'll see that the two points are very related.

When I say we don't have everything we want, what I really mean is I don't have everything I want. For instance, I don't have:

  • Hawaii Five-0 - The Complete First Season. I love this show, and I've been waiting for the DVD set to come out for years! Coincidentally, Hawaii is another place that will probably be destroyed because of you and your decadent lifestyle.

  • A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. I've been working my way through Martin's "Song of Fire and Ice" series, and I'm halfway through it. This is the next book in the series and I want it. By the way, a song of fire and ice is what you'll be singing if you don't get off your ass and do something to stop global warming.

  • Two pounds of Spanish cheese. This item doesn't necessarily have anything to do with global warming, but who doesn't love Manchego cheese? I know I do. It's great with just a sprinkle of olive oil on it. Of course, if we don't stop global warming, all the olive trees will die.
There are plenty of other things I want too. You can find them here.

To sum up what I'm trying to say, we have everything we need to stop global warming but I don't have everything I want.

So here's the deal. You can save the world and help stop global warming by buying me shit. Your purchases will help pay for carbon offsets that I will do, or make, or whatever. For every dollar you spend on me, I promise to reduce the carbon footprint of my apartment by turning off all non-essential electrical devices for one hour.* This could add up to some serious non-electrical usage depending on how many offsets you buy.


So save the planet buy me stuff. If they knew how much you cared, I'm sure the polar bears would thank you. (Assuming they could talk, and wouldn't eat you first, which they probably would, but you get my point it's for the animals.)

* Up to a maximum of 8 hours per day, weekends excluded. Non-essential electrical devices does not include refrigerators, clock radios, and any device that uses a clock or would be a hassle to unplug like my cable box.

Posted by annika, Mar. 4, 2007 | link | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 01, 2007

Amendment To Earlier Pledge

I have already publicly pledged that I will not vote for John McCain in the unlikely event that he gets the Republican nomination. I stand by that pledge, but I'm adding this addendum: If the Republican Party is stupid enough to nominate McCain, I plan to write in "Preston Taylor Holmes."

Posted by annika, Mar. 1, 2007 | link | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 21, 2007

Clinton, Bomber Trade Jabs Early

Presidential politics just might be my favorite spectator sport. And the Democrat league, like the AFL, is inevitably where you'll find the most action. Damn I love the Democrats.

I hope you've heard about the latest Clinton-Bomber skirmish. It's a sure sign of the even worse backbiting to come.

The latest row was sparked by music mogul and former Clinton toady David Geffen, now a Bomber groupie, whose comments were a knife in the back of Mrs. Clinton. He said:

Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling.
Slate.com cited this theory on why David Geffen might have turned against the Clintons:
The gossip passed around by those who follow Hollywood and politics holds that Geffen fell out with Bill Clinton much later over the then-president's refusal to pardon Leonard Peltier and over Clinton's subsequent allusion to Geffen's thwarted lobbying effort to demonstrate that he didn't dole out pardons as favors to certain friends.
Anyways, Hillary didn't like what Geffen said and her campaign wants Bomber to disavow the statement and return Geffen's money. Bomber, perhaps deciding it was best to draw a line in the sand early against the Clinton machine, said no.

At a candidate forum in Nevada today, Hillary played the "politics of personal destruction" card, which I think Bill invented:

I sure don't want Democrats or supporters of Democrats to be engaging in the politics of personal destruction.
She said, no doubt hiding an ironic smile.

I'm fascinated by Bronco Bomber. If I was a liberal, I'd totally jump on his bandwagon, and not just because I love making fun of his name. He's got a lot of strengths. He's very personable and yes, I hear he's articulate and clean too. I think we all want a candidate who bathes regularly, regardless of our party affiliation.

I'm not yet convinced however, that Bronco Bomber is not this season's Howard Dean. Being a media darling means nothing to the Iowa caucusers. Serious political junkies have to admit that raising a ton of money means nothing if your organization doesn't know how to use it.

People like David Geffen may represent the vocal face of the Democratic party. But they don't represent the majority of voting Democrats, who are more centrist than the press corps realizes. That's why Dean came in third in Iowa last time, even though the media kept treating him like he was the front runner. Rank and file Democrats were rightly suspicious of Dean's electability, and they went for the safer bet, John Kerry. The trouble was, they didn't inspect the goods well enough before switching to Kerry, and they got burned.

Not that I place much stock in the "Hawkeye Cauci," as Rush calls it. I don't. New Hampshire has always been a more reliable indicator of party preference, historically. And Bronco Bomber is no Howard Dean; they don't share the same negatives. That's good for Bronco. Unfortunately his poll numbers are not in a range where he should be getting the kind of press he's getting right now. The latest polls have him losing to Hillary by an average of 18.2 points. That's a lot of ground to make up, even for a media darling.

For now, Bomber's just not a credible challenger, though I love watching him make Hillary sweat.

Posted by annika, Feb. 21, 2007 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Iran Plan

The BBC announced that the U.S. has a plan to attack Iran and they know the details. No shit, so do I. Anybody with a brain knows we have a plan, and that it would be negligence if our military did not have a plan.

The BBC seems overly concerned with this little bit too:

US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned.

It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres.

Well, duh. One of the arguments against attacking Iran's nuclear research sites is that they might retaliate against our ships in the Gulf, and threaten shipping. Therefore, it makes sense that any attack plan address that threat too, by targeting "air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres."

Calm down Beeb.

Posted by annika, Feb. 21, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 11, 2007

Chill Wind Update

Whatever happened to Tim Robbins's "chill wind?"

It must be yet another sign of global warming, because that "chill wind" is getting downright balmy.

Posted by annika, Feb. 11, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Social Science As The Answer

Back in August I asked this rhetorical question:

I'm sure there's lots of guys working in thinktanks and war colleges whose job it is to figure these things out, but so far I haven't seen nor heard of any effective way to fight guerrillas other than by total unrestricted warfare which we won't do. How do you counter the weighty advantage they've claimed for themselves by co-opting the machinery of world public opinion? How do you beat an enemy that has perfected the use of civilian deaths both offensively and defensively, if your one achilles heel is the fear of civilian deaths?
By researching the bio of Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, whom I quoted in my last post, I found this essential article by George Packer in the December 2006 issue of The New Yorker. It may contain the answer to my question, namely "is there another way?"

The article is New Yorker length, unfortunately. But it's Sunday Morning, so why not print it out and read it with your coffee instead of the funnies.

Lt. Col. Kilcullen and Dr. Montgomery McFate* are two people who may provide the "new way" I've been talking about. I have read about the social sciences approach to counter-insurgency before and I was very skeptical. The New Yorker article is detailed enough to be persuasive. The anthropological approach is more than just "hearts and minds" b.s. Properly implemented, it's an integrated and adaptable strategy that includes force, coersion, propaganda, and all those other fun things I've said we need to be doing. But it also recognizes that we're in a new "information age" and we need to understand and adapt to the advantage this gives our enemy.

Another very important concept, which I've not considered before, but which makes perfect sense to me, is this:

I saw extremely similar behavior and extremely similar problems in an Islamic insurgency in West Java and a Christian-separatist insurgency in East Timor, [Kilcullen] said. After 9/11, when a lot of people were saying, The problem is Islam, I was thinking, Its something deeper than that. Its about human social networks and the way that they operate. In West Java, elements of the failed Darul Islam insurgencya local separatist movement with mystical leaningshad resumed fighting as Jemaah Islamiya, whose outlook was Salafist and global. Kilcullen said, What that told me about Jemaah Islamiya is that its not about theology. He went on, There are elements in human psychological and social makeup that drive whats happening. The Islamic bit is secondary. This is human behavior in an Islamic setting. This is not Islamic behavior. Paraphrasing the American political scientist Roger D. Petersen, he said, People dont get pushed into rebellion by their ideology. They get pulled in by their social networks. He noted that all fifteen Saudi hijackers in the September 11th plot had trouble with their fathers. Although radical ideas prepare the way for disaffected young men to become violent jihadists, the reasons they convert, Kilcullen said, are more mundane and familiar: family, friends, associates.
I think it's really more complicated than just saying "kill the enemy." As a spectator, I've been as guilty as anyone in believing that our problem was an insufficiency of ass-kicking. Kilcullen sees radical Islam as just a template that the terrorist assholes plug into when they decide to dedicate themselves to their particular brand of assholery. But it's social networks, i.e. their friends, family and local communities, that are the avenue towards jihad. I think about gang members here in the U.S. These are "military age males" who would probably be joining al Qaeda if they were in Pakistan. Why, because they're assholes, and gangs or al Qaeda are what their particular social networks would drive them towards.

We need a strategy that understands and targets those social networks with a flexible and multi-faceted approach. The correct strategy should work not only in Iraq but also in the "long war," which includes Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia and wherever else radical Islam is making inroads. But as the article points out, not many in government understand the problem or have the expertise to tackle it. Another obstacle is the decades long antipathy of social science academics to any endeavor that might be considered patriotic.

That needs to change.

* A fellow Cal Bear.

Posted by annika, Feb. 11, 2007 | link | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 10, 2007

Surge Strategy

There's a reason why I haven't written whether I think the Surge Strategy will work or whether it's a good idea. I'm not an expert in any of the disciplines necessary for my opinion to have any value. In fact, most of my knowledge regarding the Iraq War comes from secondary sources, written by other people who are similarly ignorant, i.e. the press.

The vast majority of reporters and columnists who write about Iraq and pretend to know what they're talking about are completely incompetent to do so. Not only is their journalism degree inadequate for the task (it's a glorified general ed degree) but their undisguised bias robs their output of any credibility. Yet, from my desk chair, I'm forced to rely on these people almost exclusively for my information. So, as a result, my opinions are just about as worthless.

That's why I'm taking a wait and see approach. I do consider myself an expert on another thing, though: I'm an expert on the domestic battlefield. This is why I have said over and over again that we must achieve success in Iraq quickly, because if Americans don't see progress soon, our next president will pull the plug on the whole noble enterprise.

So I was very encouraged when the President yanked the most recent generals in charge, good men though they might be, and replaced them with guys who understand the need for a change in strategy. Today is General Petraeus's first day on the job. His resume is impressive.* He's had success before.** I wish him and his new strategy well.

Australian Lt. Col. David Kilcullen is an advisor to Gen. Petraeus and an expert on counter-insurgency strategy. He's also a Duntroon grad and a veteran of East Timor. In this post at Small Wars Journal, Kilcullen outlines the two schools of thought regarding counter-insurgency.***

An illustrative anecdote:

In Timor in 1999 I worked closely with village elders in the border districts. I sat down with several of them one afternoon to discuss their perception of how the campaign was progressing, and they complained that the Australians weren't securing them in the fields and villages, that they felt unsafe because of the militia (the local term for cross-border guerrillas) and that we needed to do more to protect them. In actual fact, we were out in large numbers, securing the border against infiltration, patrolling by night, conducting 14 to 21-day patrols in the jungle to deny the militias a chance to build sanctuaries, and working in close in the villages to maintain popular support. There had not been a single successful attack by the insurgents on the population for more than two months. So, "objectively", they were secure. But -- and this is the critical point -- because our troops were sneaking around in the jungle and at night, staying out of the villagers' way and focusing on defeating enemy attempts to target the population, they did not see us about, and hence did not feel subjectively secure. This was exacerbated by the fact that they had just experienced a major psychological trauma (occupation, insurgency, mass destruction and international intervention) and as a society they needed time and support for a degree of "mental reconstruction". Based on their feedback (and that of lots of other meetings and observations) we changed our operational approach, became a bit more visible to the population and focused on giving them the feeling, as well as the reality, of safety. Once we did that, it was fine.

In other words, we had to shift from a more enemy-centric approach to a more population-centric approach to adjust to the developing situation. My personal lesson from this experience was that the correct approach is situation-dependent, and the situation changes over time. Therefore the key is to develop mechanisms that allow you to read the environment, to be agile and to adapt . . .

Adaptation is the key, and I'm glad to see that we're trying something new. I hope it works.

You can see how the above example illustrates the need for more troops and contact with the population. It's more than just switching to a zone defense from man-to-man. At least in the short run, our new strategy will provide the enemy with more opportunities to kill Americans. We're not going to like that here at home, and I have no illusions that the media will understand what's happening or that a different strategy is at work. The commanders in theater, and the President must realize that the home front will not cut them any slack and they have to get it right this time.

* But so was McClellan's.

** But so did Hooker.

*** The comments are especially interesting.

Posted by annika, Feb. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 07, 2007

You Heard It Here First

I'm telling you, the secret's getting out. The latest Gallup poll reveals:

In a head-to-head matchup against McCain in a Gallup poll of Republicans and Republican "leaners" taken Jan. 25-28, Giuliani beat the Arizona senator handily in most categories: better public speaker, more likable, better chance of beating the Democratic nominee, would run a more positive campaign, would perform better in debates, would do more to unite the country, would manage the country more effectively, would be better in a crisis, better understands the problems faced by ordinary Americans, and strength of leadership.
What did I just say?

The Monitor article from which I pulled that quote also says that Giuliani's approval ratings are at 62%. Sixty-two percent! That will change as the attack machine heats up. But I ask you, can anyone name another public figure with numbers over 60%? I can't think of one. That's unheard of in this age of hyper-negativity.

On the other hand, some analysts say that McCain's recent dip in polling is due to his more vocal support of the President's Surge plan. It's possible that not a lot of poll respondents knew Giuliani's position on the Iraq War is identical to McCain's. Or maybe they do, but they just trust Giuliani more.

That's my take. Even if I liked McCain, I would always favor a guy with executive experience over legislative experience. Theoretically, executives must work in the real world where results are expected. Therefore, they should be more results oriented. Legislators on the other hand, work in a world of theoretical projections, possibilities and imaginary outcomes. When they fuck up, they're rarely held to account because they simply blame the other party, the executive, or both.

[How can I quit blogging this summer when Campaign '08 is already so interesting?]

Posted by annika, Feb. 7, 2007 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 05, 2007

Rudy Is In

You may have sensed that I am a fan of Rudy Giuliani. While I haven't yet decided who I'm going to support, Rudy definitely makes the short list. And it's a very short list. I've already done the math on him, and nobody has yet debunked my theory. In fact, I'm the only one I've ever heard talking about the New York factor.

In a nutshell, my theory is this: People say Rudy is vulnerable on social issues, meaning he won't win the Red States. But people forget that he has a serious shot at winning New York, even against Hillary. And if Rudy wins NY's 31 electoral votes, he can pretty much thumb his nose at the South and still win the presidency. And I say, if he wins NY, he'll probably get NJ, and possibly PA and CT, too. Let me tell you, that's a scenario that scares the hell out of a lot of people. That's why no one's talking about it.

Now that Rudy's all but announced, you're going to hear a lot of people repeating the same mantra: "He's too liberal to win the nomination." Don't you believe it. The media wants you to believe it, because they know how formidable he really is. They've seen the polling. The "three-G"* conservatives want you to believe it too, because Rudy gives them nightmares.

But before you give in to the anti-hype, read this article in City Journal, entitled "Yes, Rudy Giuliani Is a Conservative". You may not come away completely convinced, but at least you'll know he's not the antichrist, as some want you to believe.

He cleaned up New York when the rest of the world had written it off. Ask any New Yorker. Pre-Giuliani, you took your life into your hands walking in the park after dark, or just riding the subway. Broadway was a shithole. There used to be certain neighborhoods where nobody wanted to live, that are now impossible to afford. New York had a genuine Renaissance in the 1990's and it was thanks to Rudy Giuliani. New Yorkers won't forget this.

Of course Rudy led that Renaissance in the face of withering criticism from the left. He made enemies, and as his tenure was winding down, his enemies seemed to have gotten to him. The Diallo shooting didn't help, either. But then came 9/11, and people saw again that this man was a courageous, principled and born leader. Flawed yes, but that's only a reminder that he's human like all of us. Rudy's personal problems are not going to dissuade New Yorkers from supporting him. They voted overwhelmingly for Clinton too.

Don't forget also that Giuliani is an amazing speaker. He gave the best speech at the 2004 Republican Convention. His style is spontaneous, populist, and deceptively effective. While Zell Miller fired up the base and Schwarzenegger won over the pundits, Rudy's speech was the most articulate defense of the War on Terror that has ever been given to a national audience.

Giuliani has also positioned himself well, by staying out of the administration. To move forward, he will need to come up with an approach to the Iraq mess that navigates the gulf between his unequivocal support for the War and the subsequent truth that Bush and Company have fucked it all up. On that issue he may lose ground to McCain, who has also been unwavering in his belief the Iraq was the right thing to do, while at the same time he's never thought we were doing it right.

In a sense, all Republican candidates except for Hagel are hamstrung by the success or failure of the President's Surge plan. No pro-war Republican will be elected on a victory platform if victory isn't within sight. Mark my words, if the Surge fails to show progress within the next 12 months, we will have a Democratic president in 2009. I think McCain and Giuliani have the best chance of convincing independent voters to stay the course in Iraq, but ultimately I think they'd lose to a cut-and-run Democrat if we don't start winning soon.

Finally, back to Giuliani's social liberal weaknesses. To those who don't like Rudy because he's pro gay marriage, I say where have you been? Gay marriage is here. It's a reality. The only way to put that genie back in the bottle is by a Constitutional Amendment, and good luck with that one. Same goes for abortion, and I'm about as far to the right on the abortion issue as it is possible to be. Rudy does worry me about gun rights, but he made a good first step at winning my confidence two days ago when he said:

I think those are the kinds of justices I would appoint - Scalia, Alito and Roberts. If you can find anybody as good as that, you are very, very fortunate.
I'll keep watching. But as it stands now, Rudy should be the front-runner and I'm skeptical of any polls that don't have him at or near the top. His opponents in both parties will be gunning for him now. Rudy's never been shy about fighting back, so it should be a very interesting campaign whatever happens.

* Guns, gays and God.

Posted by annika, Feb. 5, 2007 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Cold Blast Pushes Global Warming Off The Front Page

The words "Global" and "Warming" were conspicuously absent from tonight's NBC Nightly News, I'm here to tell you.

The good news, if there is any, about what's being called the Midwest Cold Blast, or alternately, the Cold Snap, is that we won't be lectured about Global Warming again for at least another week.

Posted by annika, Feb. 5, 2007 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 31, 2007

Long Live The Nanny State

I live in the Soviet Union.

For the record, I stopped using incandescent bulbs years ago. In my case, the free market worked. But what about photographers, who can't use flourescent bulbs? Does every single thing in the universe need to be legislated?

Posted by annika, Jan. 31, 2007 | link | Comments (31) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 28, 2007

Hillary Said

While campaigning in Iowa today, Hillary said:

The president has said [the Iraq War] is going to be left to his successor. . . . I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it. . . . This was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office.
It sounds as though she doesn't feel she's up to the task. One might add that Bush should resent her husband for having left Osama Bin Laden to deal with.

But in a way, I do agree with Hillary's statement, at least as far as the poorly executed strategy goes. We should expect President Bush to extricate our country from the Iraq War before he leaves office. My only qualification is that we should leave through the "victory" door, not the "abandonment" door the Democrats keep pushing us towards.

Finally, despite all the talk about the new "Rules of Engagement," I'm sick and tired of hearing about shit like this. Keep your ears open for more stories about the ROE's and whether or not they really have changed (I'm skeptical). That will tell you whether our leaders are serious about winning or whether they're just playing out the clock for Hillary.

Posted by annika, Jan. 28, 2007 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 26, 2007

Yet Another Bogus Study Being Trumpeted By The Anti-American Media

You may have heard recently that the United States is the world's unfriendliest nation for international travellers. I'm calling bullshit on this bogus study.

The United States is the world's most unfriendly country for international travellers, a survey suggests.

The global survey showed the US was ranked "the worst" because of rude immigration officials and long delays in processing visas.

More than half of the travellers surveyed said US immigration officials were rude and two-thirds said they feared they would be detained on arriving in the US for a simple mistake in their paper work or for saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.

Twice the percentage of travellers nominated the US as unfriendly, compared with the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

The survey, of 2,011 international travellers in 16 countries, was conducted by the polling firm RT Strategies for the Discover America Partnership, a business-backed group launched in September to promote travel to the US and improve the country's image abroad.

"The entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is keeping foreign visitors away," said Geoff Freeman, executive director of the Discover America Partnership.

"The survey shows there is more fear of our immigration officials than of terrorism or crime."

What is the premise of the survey's results? That travellers to the United States encounter more unpleasantness than in any other country in the world.

Complete bullshit.

Just look at the U.S. State Department's travel advisory for Saudi Arabia, just to pull one example of a worse country from the many that come to mind.

American citizens who choose to visit or remain in Saudi Arabia despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to avoid staying in hotels or housing compounds that do not apply stringent security measures including, but not limited to, the presence of an armed guard force . . .
Not just a security guard, but an armed guard force!
. . . inspection of all vehicles, and a hardened security perimeter to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the facility. American citizens are further advised to exercise caution and maintain good situational awareness when visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners or in primarily Western environments. Keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel, and ensure that travel documents and visas are valid. American citizens are also advised to exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles.
And that's not just paranoid advice from a xenophobic American agency. If you want to talk about unfriendly to tourists, here's some advice from Saudi Arabia's own government website:
Important Instructions:

If a woman is arriving in the Kingdom alone, the sponsor or her husband must receive her at the airport.

Every woman must have confirmed accommodation for the duration of her stay in the Kingdom.

A woman is not allowed to drive a car and can therefore travel by car only if she is accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.

All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.

Here's more anecdotal info about the hassles one may encounter in the Saudi Kingdom, from the Lonely Planet's website:
There are NO visitor visas. It's not even possible to have a Saudi sponsor apply for the visa on my behalf. Visitors can ONLY visit to work, or for a religious visit.

Speaking of religious visits, people who do this who are muslims, can ONLY visit Mecca and Medina, and that's it. Travel to other Saudi cities is not allowed.
Anon, Canada (Mar 03)

One thing Anon from Canada didn't mention is that only those of the Islamic faith are allowed to set foot in Mecca or Medina. The rest of us are unclean or something, I guess. Not that I have any desire to get trampled to death in their crappy holy city anyway.

Back to the Lonely Planet:

WOMEN: We wear the abeyya so we get left alone. But even this doesn't work. We get stared at constantly and sometimes things are said. More so now after the September 11 disaster. I have never been barred from any establishment or had to leave because of prayer. Stealing wallets or purses out of expats handbags or backpacks as they walk around is common. We are not allowed to use the public transport.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Sure, film and cameras are everywhere. But, go and try to do a shoot around Jeddah. You will stop traffic, draw untold attention to yourself and if you are really lucky, the police will stop you and then the Matawwa [Saudi religious police] maybe will turn up which is what happened to me. You cannot take photos of people, any Palace or any government building. Now, as all three are everywhere, photography is difficult and not a delight.

. . .

MATAWWA: If they are around, they will ask all women to cover their hair and generally have the police with them, so this is enforced. I have friends who did not have their scarf with them one night in Balad and the Matawwa made them go to a shop, buy one and put it on while they waited outside until the girls did. Jeddah is not as strict as Riyadh.
Alanna Lee, Saudi Arabia (Jan 02)

It gets worse. Here's what the British Embassy in Riyadh says about travel to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is strictly enforced.

The public practice of any form of religion other than Islam, or proselytising, is not permitted.

Islamic codes of behaviour and dress are also enforced rigorously. You should respect them fully.

Homosexual behaviour and adultery are illegal and can carry the death penalty.

The penalties for the possession of, or trade in, alcohol are severe. Both result in prison sentences. The punishment for importing drugs includes the death penalty. You should not arrive in Saudi Arabia under the influence of alcohol: the consequences could be serious. You should carry with you a doctors prescription for any medication you have with you. The importation of pork products is also forbidden.

While the Saudi authorities say they accept the private practice of religious other than Islam, religious books (apart from the Quran) and artefacts imported for personal use may be confiscated. Also, importing larger quantities can carry severe penalties as it will be viewed that it is your intention to convert (proselytise) others.

The possession of pornographic material, or of illustrations of scantily dressed people, especially women, is prohibited.

The Saudi legal system differs in many ways from the UK. Suspects can be held without charge and those detained have in the past not been allowed legal representation. The Saudi authorities have detained witnesses and victims of crimes. If you require consular assistance our staff will seek to visit you as soon as they are aware of the case. However, in some instances they have not been permitted to do so immediately or have had limits applied to access once granted. We have raised our concern about reports of mistreatment of some suspects during their detention.

Photography of government buildings, military installations and palaces is not allowed. You should avoid photographing local people. It is illegal for women to drive.

Anyone involved in a commercial dispute with a Saudi company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country pending resolution of the dispute.

Passports are often retained by sponsors or government bodies for official purposes. You should carry a photocopy of your passport. Make sure you have included in your passport details of those who should be contacted in an emergency.

It is illegal to hold two passports in Saudi Arabia: second passports will be confiscated by the immigration authorities if they are discovered.

. . .

On occasion, Saudi visas have been refused when passports have reflected travel to Israel or indicated an Israeli birthplace.

Women visitors and residents are required to be met by their sponsor upon arrival. Women travelling alone, who are not met by sponsors, have experienced delays before being allowed to enter the country or to continue on other flights.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country, or in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. . . .

Foreign women married to Saudi nationals require permission from their husbands for themselves and their children to leave Saudi Arabia.

Bunch of backwards-ass dickwads. On any type of objective scale you'd want to use, Saudi Arabia has to be among the world's most unfriendly places for international travellers. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather deal with a rude customs guy than risk getting my head chopped off because I was wearing a sleeveless tee.

So how did the Discover America Partnership get it so wrong, when they decided that the United States is the most unfriendly nation for tourism? Simple, they didn't survey any visitors to Saudi Arabia.

Here's the list of Middle Eastern countries their survey compared to the United States:

1. United Arab Emirates
That's right, they only included one Middle Eastern country in their study. So when the above linked article claims "Twice the percentage of travellers nominated the US as unfriendly, compared with the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent," that's a bit misleading. Besides the fact that the U.A.E. might be the most westernized of any Middle Eastern nation besides Israel, how many respondents traveled there, compared with the the United States? Poor methodology, but you wouldn't know it from reading the headlines.

Posted by annika, Jan. 26, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 25, 2007

"Mahdi Militia Gettin' Their Asses Fuckin' Handed To 'Em"

Via Jawa:

Gotta love the FFAR.

Posted by annika, Jan. 25, 2007 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 24, 2007

Sacramento Native Was Among Executed Contractors

From the Bee:

A reserve Placer County sheriff's deputy was among five U.S. security contractors killed after their company's helicopter crashed in central Baghdad this week.

Art Laguna, 52, was working for the private security firm Blackwater USA when he was killed Tuesday.

Two Sunni insurgent groups claimed responsibility. One posted several identity cards on a Web site, including two belonging to Laguna.
Sell It Yourself

Laguna lived in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova and was a reserve deputy with the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

He helped establish the department's air wing in 1995 and spent hundreds of hours volunteering to train the department's pilots. He also assisted with rescues in the Sierra Nevada, said Capt. David Harris, who commands the air unit.

"We'll definitely miss his expertise, we'll miss his flying abilities, and of course we'll miss him as a friend," Harris told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "He was a wonderful guy."

Laguna began assisting the sheriff's department while he was flying Black Hawk helicopters on medical evacuation missions with the California National Guard out of Sacramento's Mather Field. He worked with the department for nine years and visited when he was in the U.S, Harris said.

The circumstances of the helicopter crash in Baghdad remained unclear Wednesday. The Black Hawk was headed to help a U.S. Embassy ground convoy and was flying over a raging gunfight in a Sunni neighborhood at the time it went down.

An Iraqi military official said it was downed by a machine gun, but a U.S. military official in Washington said there was no indication of that. A U.S. defense official said four of the five people on board the helicopter were shot execution-style, in the back of the head.

Posted by annika, Jan. 24, 2007 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Whatever Else You Might Say About Hillary...

... I think she deserves a thank you from all of us, for this.

Posted by annika, Jan. 24, 2007 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 23, 2007

State Of The Union 2007


Wouldn't it be funny if the Sergeant at Arms announced the president with a Sling Blade voice? I think that would be really funny.

Pelosi really looked good tonight, and even though I don't like her, I was touched by the recognition she received.

When Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean Jacque Wamutombo was honored, my boyfriend and I looked at each other and simultaneously exclaimed: "Who wants to sex Mutombo!" It was a very hilarious moment.

In closing, I didn't expect much from President Bush tonight. I was pleasantly surprised. The speech was one of his most enjoyable. I sensed some genuine good feeling in the House, though I know it's only a temporary thing, but I liked it. I also thought he did as good a job of explaining his foreign policy as he's ever done. Of course, as a lame duck, there's no pressure for him to persuade anyone anymore. He either succeeds or he doesn't.

And now that's over, it's time for the biggest tv event of the night: American Idol.

P.S. Oh I forgot to mention Nancy's non-stop blinking towards the end of the speech. What was up with that?

Posted by annika, Jan. 23, 2007 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

600 Enemies Nabbed

But, as we all have learned, the trick is not in the capture. It's in resisting the inevitable chorus of idiots demanding that we release the bad guys.

In a major crackdown launched in the past few weeks against the Mahdi Army -- the militia headed by Sadr and now considered the biggest security threat to Iraq by the Pentagon -- more than 600 fighters and 16 militia leaders have been detained, the military said.

"There are currently over 600 illegal Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) militia in detention awaiting prosecution from the government of Iraq," a statement said.

It said Iraqi and US forces had also detained 16 high-level militiamen and killed one commander in a series of operations against the Mahdi Army, known for its fierce anti-US stance.

"The detainees are responsible for attacks against the government of Iraq, Iraqi citizens and coalition forces," the military said.

Combined Iraqi and US forces have carried out 52 operations in the past 45 days focused on the Mahdi Army as well as 42 operations that targetted Sunni extremists, it said.

The operations against Sunni extremists led to the capture of 33 cell leaders in Baghdad, the statement said, charging that the detainees were mainly involved in facilitating the entry of foreign fighters into Iraq.

The US military has accused the Mahdi Army, which is believed to have up to 60,000 fighters, of being heavily involved in the sectarian killing of Sunni Arabs in Baghdad and other regions of the country.

US and Iraqi forces aim to take down these fighters as part of a Baghdad security plan announced by US President George W. Bush earlier this month to crush the sectarian fighting that killed tens of thousands of people last year.

h/t Bluto at Jawa.

Posted by annika, Jan. 23, 2007 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 22, 2007

Fuckin' John Warner

I never did trust that guy.

Posted by annika, Jan. 22, 2007 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 20, 2007

Hillary Chat

Hillary sez:

I am going to take this conversation directly to the people of America, and I'm starting by inviting all of you to join me in a series of web chats over the next few days. . . . I need you to be a part of this campaign, and I hope you'll start by joining me in this national conversation.
Okeydoke. I imagine when I log on Monday, the conversation might go a little bit like this:

hillary2008 joined the room

annikagyrl joined the room

annikagyrl: hi hillary, i mean mrs. clinton

hillary2008: Hillary is fine. How are you annikagyrl?

annikagyrl: i am fine. i cant believe im chatting with you

hillary2008: I want to start a dialogue with America about the challenges that face us after six years of failed policies. I'm glad you could join me.

annikagyrl: cool beans

hillary2008: Did you have a question for me?

annikagyrl: yes

hillary2008: Go ahead.

annikagyrl: okay, who killed vince foster?

hillary2008 left the room

annikagyrl: wtf?

vernonjordan69 joined the room

annikagyrl: hello

vernonjordan69: It has come to my attention that you have made an unsubstantiated, outrageous and untrue accusation against Senator Clinton, which is defamatory and libelous and was made with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity thereof. Further, you have published and disseminated said untrue accusation over the public internet. Your IP address has been recorded and a copy of your defamatory communication is being preserved. Your untrue accusations are actionable. I demand that you immediately cease all defamatory and derogatory remarks directed at Senator Clinton, including all statements made, written, distributed, disseminated, or otherwise published to any and all persons and/or entities either now, or in the future. I further demand that you immediately deliver to me, in care of my law firm, any and all copies of said defamatory statements, including handwritten, typewritten, or electronically digitized either magnetically or by means of any other method or data storage system for general storage and transfer of data between computers and/or electronic copies of same, and any and all unused, undistributed copies of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or any other defamatory, libelous, slanderous or otherwise tortious statements made about, concerning or in reference to Senator Clinton and/or any and all members of her family whether immediate or extended, including any of her successors, assigns, heirs and/or personal representatives, to wit, forthwith, and in perpetuity thereof. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by end of business, January 23, 2007, indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, and each of them, I shall take further action against you.

annikagyrl: holy cow, you mean me?

vernonjordan69: yeeeah you bitch

annikagyrl left the room

Posted by annika, Jan. 20, 2007 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

The Audacity Of Hope (Arkansas)

This was unexpected.

Hillary says, "me too."


Not only does Hillary announce with a video, just like Bronco, she even got the AP writer to include a link to her website, just like Bronco.

Notice that the video shot is not wide enough for you to see the rug? That's because Bronco Bomber pulled it out from under her on Tuesday.

Posted by annika, Jan. 20, 2007 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 17, 2007

Informal Survey

Free polls from Pollhost.com
If it comes down to John McCain and Bronco Bomber in the 2008 general election, who do you vote for?
John McCain Bronco Bomber   

Posted by annika, Jan. 17, 2007 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 16, 2007

Bronco Bomber Endorsements

I find it interesting that so many MSM web stories celebrating Bronco Bomber's formation of an exploratory committee contain a hyperlink to his campaign website. It's interesting because a cursory check of old web stories about other candidates who have formed exploratory committees in the last few months (e.g. Giuliani, Vilsack, Romney, Tancredo) do not contain such thinly disguised endorsements.

But the media is not biased.

Posted by annika, Jan. 16, 2007 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 10, 2007

The "Surge" Speech

The President has now outlined his new approach for Iraq. Do I think it will work? Really, who cares what I think? I don't care what anybody else thinks. The time for punditry has long passed. This is the time for results. I sense that the President finally understands this.

As I've said before, arguing about whether we should set a timetable for withdrawal is stupid. We already have one, and the deadline is January 20th, 2009. No amount of wishful thinking by war hawks can change the fact that unless there is significant and obvious improvement in Iraq, and soon, the next president of the United States will be elected on a platform of withdrawal.

Therefore, we who long for success should know that this is our last chance to succeed. We have less than two years. Those who oppose us know that this is the endgame for Iraq too. Our foreign enemies will do everything they can to embarrass U.S. forces by creating atrocities or inventing them wherever possible. Our domestic enemies will then do all they can to portray these atrocities as evidence of the failure, futility and immorality of our purpose.

Whether we succeed or not depends very little on what you or I say here at home, given those facts. Our men and women at arms will accomplish everything that is asked of them, as they always have. The question is whether the President and his generals will have the guts to keep fighting when the inevitable criticism hits fever pitch. Based on past experience, I need convincing.

This country is anti-war; our domestic enemies have already won that battle (with the unwitting help, I might add, of Mr. Rumsfeld and the commander-in-chief himself). The President's speech tonight will not magically transform the public's fatigue any more than it can change the Washington press corps into a group of people who love their country. If success is possible at this late hour, Mr. Bush will have to do it without the support of Congress, the media, or the majority of the American people.

But as President Bush explained less than half an hour ago, failure in Iraq would be a disaster. And therefore, I hope he understands above all that now is the time for results.

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Posted by annika, Jan. 10, 2007 | link | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 30, 2006

Hussein's Execution

I feel compelled to throw a wet blanket over some of the triumphalism I see in the blogosphere over Saddam Hussein's execution. I don't think it's a cause for Americans to be celebrating. I say this not because I'm ambivalent about the death penalty, but because we did not invade Iraq in order to kill Saddam Hussein.

We invaded Iraq to bring democracy to that part of the world, because doing so will in theory make us safer here at home. Not only have we not yet succeeded in that purpose, but our ultimate success (as well as the very theory our plan is based upon) is very much in doubt right now. No matter how much Saddam may have deserved what he got, I'd just rather save my celebrating for the day our troops return home victorious.

Posted by annika, Dec. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (40) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 19, 2006

A Hero You Should Know

Imagine what this nation would be like if the media replaced all their stories about starlets behaving badly with stories about women like Sgt. Kristi J. Artigue.


Ive always been a risk taker, said Artigue, 23, now a medic with the 141st Medical Company [Connecticut Army National Guard].

On Nov. 10, Artigue called upon the skills learned during her six years of National Guard service -- including a recent deployment to Iraq -- to help save the life of a man who may have drowned.

. . .

Tom, a middle-aged man, had suffered a seizure and fallen into a section of the West River. Unable to swim, he struggled to remain above the surface with the help of several civilians and two West Haven police officers. The chain was trying to hang on until the local fire department rescue crew could arrive . . .

Then the life-defining event happened.

He let loose, said Artigue, and went under for one or two seconds. Long enough to know he wasnt going to be coming up again. And he was moving out farther from the shore toward the center of the river.

At that point, Artigue let her training take over. The nursing student and Iraq War veteran jumped into the freezing water and swam out about ten feet to where Tom was struggling for air.

It was too cold to talk, said Artigue, but I grabbed his vest and tried to keep him above the water. He grabbed a hold of me and started to pull me down with him, but I was able to drag him by his vest to shore.

. . . On a cold November day, coming out of cold, moving water, communication was difficult, but Artigue was able to keep Tom talking and conscious until emergency crews arrived.

I am continuously amazed at the quality of people who volunteer to serve our country. Swift water rescue is a very dangerous business. I know I wouldn't have jumped in there.
A future trauma nurse, Artigue plans to use her experiences in the Guard and in Iraq to save as many lives as possible.

Since Iraq, she said, Ive learned to adapt and overcome. I saw what was happening and I had no option but to get involved because of not only my medical training, but also because of my personal responsibility.

I will always appreciate my military experience. Its something I would never give up, said Artigue.

Posted by annika, Dec. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 06, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Report

I'm working through the recommendations now. I've approached the report with an open mind, since it's obvious that the Bush/Rumsfeld plan is not working. However, several descriptive phrases about the Iraq Study Group come to mind as I read. They are as follows:

not helpful
wishful thinking
too many carrots, no stick

I wish I could say differently. It's almost like a bunch of guys sitting around a table on Saturday night, playing Risk, or Dungeons & Dragons. The panel members imagine a world in which all the players would act rationally if only they talked to each other. With their "New Diplomatic Offensive," they've conjured a mythological universe that sounds nice, but doesn't actually exist.

The Iraq Study Group's major error was their assumption that parties with a strong negotiation position will trade away strength for promises by a weaker adversary. The kind of negotiation that the ISG envisions could only work if the parties shared mutual interests and goals, which is absolutely not the case in Iraq or in the broader Middle East.

The best example of the ISG's navet involves Iran:

Our limited contacts with Irans government lead us to believe that its leaders are likely to say they will not participate in diplomatic efforts to support stability in Iraq. They attribute this reluctance to their belief that the United States seeks regime change in Iran.

Nevertheless, as one of Iraqs neighbors Iran should be asked to assume its responsibility to participate in the Support Group. An Iranian refusal to do so would demonstrate to Iraq and the rest of the world Irans rejectionist attitude and approach, which could lead to its isolation. Further, Irans refusal to cooperate on this matter would diminish its prospects of engaging with the United States in the broader dialogue it seeks.

In other words, ask Iran to help stabilize Iraq, even though at present Iran is actively working to destabilize Iraq because Iran feels it is in its interest to do so. The ISG suggests that Iran will abandon a key pillar of their regional foreign policy, to avoid becoming "isolated" (though they already are) and to gain a "broader dialogue" with the U.S. (which they don't give a rat's ass about). The penalty for not doing us a favor (against the Iranians self-interest) is to continue with a status quo that the Iranians don't mind at all.

And how does the Iraq Study Group suggest that we persuade Iran to do us that big favor, which the ISG admits they are unlikely to want to do? The report is short on suggestions. But the panelists have no trouble coming up with nice things that Iran can do for us, assuming they can be magically persuaded to ignore their strong negotiating position and act against their own interest.

Iran should stem the flow of equipment, technology, and training to any group resorting to violence in Iraq.

Iran should make clear its support for the territorial integrity of Iraq as a unified state, as well as its respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its government.

Iran can use its influence, especially over Shia groups in Iraq, to encourage national reconciliation.

Iran can also, in the right circumstances, help in the economic reconstruction of Iraq.

Again, why would the Iranians want to do any of these things when the status quo in neighboring Iraq suits Iranian purposes so well? A destabilized Iraq is an Iraq vulnerable to Iranian influence. More importantly, a destabilized Iraq also means a weakened United States especially vis-a-vis Iranian nukes.

And of course, my criticism doesn't even reach the fact that Iranian interests are also motivated by a dangerous religious fanaticism that makes their cooperation with the West even more unlikely.

I've seen many objections to the Iraq Study Group's report from several other critics. I can't address that commentary, since I haven't read the whole report. But if the rest of the ISG's recommendations are as unwise as their "New Diplomatic Offensive," and their failure to understand the Iranian problem, I think the panel might have done more harm than good.

Update: And in the "he said what I said, only better..." department, here's a must read digest of the ISG report, by Robert Tracinski. An excerpt:

We should negotiate with Iran and Syria to convince them to help stabilize Iraq, but then James Baker angrily denies that this would mean caving in and allowing Iran to continue its nuclear weapons program, and he angrily denies that it would mean caving in and allowing Syria to re-conquer Lebanon. In other words, he wants to ask Iran and Syria to help us in Iraq--while ruling out the only concessions that might induce them to do so. At the same time, the ISG also rules out any serious military threat that would force Iran and Syria to abandon their current strategy.

This is the pattern of the whole report: to stipulate the achievement of a result, while denying the actual means that might achieve that result.

When you desire a result without enacting the means for achieving it, that's called a "fantasy"which is ironic, considering that James Baker is a dean of the "realist" school of foreign policy.

I almost never say this, but read the whole thing!

h/t Chris Roach.

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Posted by annika, Dec. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 04, 2006

Bolton Is Out, Who Should Be Next?

John Bolton was one of the best UN Ambassadors we've had. But a minority of Senators decided he was too tough for the job. So he's out.

Apparently, being tough is not an asset for a UN Ambassador. I might have thought otherwise, but we live in a different era now. John Bolton would have fit in better during some earlier time in our nation's history when standing up for his country's interests was something we wanted our ambassadors to do.

No longer. The key requirement for a UN Ambassador these days is likeability. He or she should be well thought of by the international diplomatic corps. And to be well thought of, one needs to make concessions. Well known anti-American Kofi Annan said so himself:

"I think Ambassador Bolton did the job he was expected to do," Annan said, before launching on a discourse about how important it is for ambassadors to "understand that to get concessions, they have to make concessions."
In other words, even if the UN has lost its way, our UN Ambassador should just go along to get along. We need a kinder, gentler, friendlier ambassador who will make everybody feel good.

The question now is, with the above requirements in mind, who should replace Bolton?

The White House gave no immediate signs of its plans for a successor, but people who have been mentioned both inside and outside the administration as possible successors include the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad; Philip Zelikow, the State Department counselor; Paula Dobriansky, under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs; and [Senator Lincoln] Chafee.
I'm not sure any of those guys have what it takes to be a good UN Ambassador under the new criteria. What we need is a real wimp, somebody with no agenda, very little intelligence, and someone whose overriding concern is the need to be liked. That's the surest way to get the good old U. S. of A.'s poll numbers back on top, the way they were under Clinton, when Matt Allbright was ambassador and chief doormat.

I have been known to favor celebrities for positions at the UN. Since celebrities have been in the vanguard on the issue of U.S. global likeability, what could be more obvious than that we need a celebrity at the UN Ambassadorship? Almost without exception, celebrities possess the requisite qualities of low intelligence and a desperate desire to be well thought of.

Therefore, I suggest Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake as co-ambassadors to the United Nations. The fact that Justin was once in a boy band should be a big advantage in dealing with the hyper-sensitive international diplomatic corps. What could be less threatening than a boy band member? Plus JT is about as dumb as half a stump, so if you team him up with Cameron Diaz, you get an intellectual total that equals about... half a stump. They would make perfect ambassadors under the newer, friendlier, criteria.

Posted by annika, Dec. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 30, 2006

Bait And Switch Number Three

#1 The most ethical Congress in history.
#2 The draft.

and now

#3 Implementing every single one of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations.

From the Washington Post:

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. . . .

. . .

"I don't think that suggestion is going anywhere," said Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a close ally of the incoming subcommittee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). "That is not going to be their party position."

It may seem like a minor matter, but members of the commission say Congress's failure to change itself is anything but inconsequential. In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation's intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees' gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.

. . .

Now Democrats are balking, just as Republicans did before them.

The decision will almost certainly anger commission members, as well as families of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, many of whom have pressed hard for implementation of the recommendations.

"The Democrats pledged to implement all the remaining 9/11 reforms, not some of them," said former representative Timothy J. Roemer (D-Ind.), who served on the commission.

Carie Lemack, whose mother was in one of the jets that hit the World Trade Center, echoed that sentiment: "It wasn't a Chinese takeout menu, the 41 recommendations. You have to do all of them."

If you want my opinion, consolidation of oversight is not a good idea. I like redundancy. I was against the creation of an "Intelligence Czar," too. But the Democrats aren't backing away from this promise for policy reasons, it's more politics-as-usual, and juvenile back-scratching.

On an unrealted note, why is it that I can get no information from the media about what crawled up Pelosi's butt to make her dislike Jane Harman and Steny Hoyer so much? I know it's personal, but I've looked far and wide and there doesn't seem to be any investigative reporter willing to investigate this question.

Pelosi's beef with Hoyer goes back to her Maryland days, when she was the receptionist and Hoyer was the chief gofer for Senator Brewster in the 60's. I know there must be some interesting anecdotes, which would explain the animosity she's held onto for decades. But the media is hush hush.

And what's the deal with Jane Harman? I know she's not considered dovish enough, but I do suspect there's a personal vendetta there too. Pelosi is well known for holding grudges (and to be fair, suddenly letting go of grudges too), but nobody wants to dig into this story.

If anybody has seen anything interesting, send me a link. I'm just interested in political gossip is all.

h/t Belmont Club

Posted by annika, Nov. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 29, 2006

A Hero You Should Know

On October 16, 2006, Army CW3 Lori Hill became the latest female pilot decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross (the first was none other than Amelia Earhart).

Back in March in Iraq, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Hill, with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, was piloting her Kiowa Warrior when the lead chopper came under heavy fire. She drew the fire away, simultaneously providing suppressive fire for the troops engaged with the enemy on the ground.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit her, damaging the helos instrumentation, but instead of focusing on her predicament, she established communication with the ground forces and continued to provide them with aerial weapon support until the soldiers reached safety.

As she turned her attention to the aircraft, which was losing hydraulic power, the helo took on machine-gun fire, a round crashing into one of Hills ankles. Still, with a damaged aircraft and an injury, she landed at Forward Operating Base Normandy, saving her crew and aircraft.

For her actions she was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross by Vice President Richard Cheney at Fort Campbell, Ky., on Oct. 16.

[It] was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to get the award and then have the vice president come and award it to you, she said. Its just incredible for any soldier.

Recalling that day in March, Hill reflected, I was actually just glad I didnt pass out and very happy I was able to help the ground guys out, and get our helicopter down safely on the ground.

You won't see Chief Hill's face while your waiting in the grocery checkout line, and Lori Hill may not be a household name, but it should be.

Posted by annika, Nov. 29, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 19, 2006

Fracas At Powell

This is what happens when our Universities' social science departments are filled with former radicals.

According to an extremely biased article in the Daily Bruin,

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner. Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
I think the UC police didn't handle the situation the best way possible either. They should have carried the guy outside as soon as he was handcuffed and then waited for backup. Using a taser to get him to comply with their orders was not going to work, since it was clear the guy was bent on creating a scene.

But the responsibility for this whole ugly incident lies solely with Mr. Mostafa Tabatabainejad. If you don't have your ID card, go back to your room and get it. If they call the police on you, apologize politely and leave the library. Otherwise, they might just taser your idiot ass.

Plus, when students are indoctrinated by professors who are former radicals constantly reliving the glory days of the 60's in class (I went to Berkeley, remember) it's pretty hard not to view all police interactions as if we lived in Franco's Spain. But we don't.

Update: h/t to TBinSTL for this appropriate PSA, by Chris Rock.

Posted by annika, Nov. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

The Old Bait And Switch

I wonder how many people who voted Democrat knew that reinstating the draft was on the Democrat's agenda.

I consider myself pretty well informed politically, I listened carefully to all the Democratic talking points, I'm on a few Democrat mailing lists. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention, but I don't seem to remember any Democrat mentioning that bringing back the draft was going to be their first order of business once they got elected.

Maybe I'm wrong here, but it seems to me if the Democrats had mentioned that they wanted to bring back the draft once they got control of Congress, they would not have gotten control of Congress!

I'm just pointing it out, is all.

Posted by annika, Nov. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 17, 2006

Dutch Burka Ban?

From Reuters:

The Dutch government agreed on Friday a total ban on the wearing of burqas and other Muslim face veils in public, justifying the move on security grounds.

. . .

"The cabinet finds it undesirable that garments covering the face -- including the burqa -- should be worn in public in view of public order, (and) the security and protection of fellow citizens," the Dutch Justice Ministry said in a statement.

. . .

The Muslim community estimates that only about 50 women in the Netherlands wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that conceals everything but the eyes.

What's that? "The moslem community?" I didn't know they spoke with one voice. In fact, I always heard that the reason they never seem to denounce blowing up innocent people and chopping people's heads off is because there is no unified "moslem community." But I digress.
Dutch Muslim groups have complained a burqa ban would make the country's 1 million Muslims feel more victimized and alienated, regardless of whether they approve of burqas or not.

"This will just lead to more girls saying 'hey I'm also going to wear a burqa as a protest'," Naima Azough, a member of parliament from the opposition Green Left, told an election campaign meeting for fellow members of the Moroccan community.

Sorry, but I don't seem to remember any moslem girls protesting when Van Gogh was killed. Perhaps if they had, Dutch people would've been more hesitant to ban their backward-ass burkas.
Job Cohen, the Labour mayor of Amsterdam, said he opposed burqas in schools and public buildings, and said women wearing one who failed to get a job should not expect welfare benefits.
Makes sense to me. Nice to see Dutch Labour getting a clue.

Posted by annika, Nov. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 13, 2006

Spin Digest

It's almost a week since the election and the punditry has coalesced into two distinct themes. I'll digest them for you right now, so you can enjoy the rest of the week without having to bother with the news at all.

The Right: Republicans lost because they didn't try to please the conservative base. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that most Americans are pissed about Iraq, don't believe the President's "stay the course" line anymore, and think it's time to either win or get out. No, the election was really about prescription drug entitlements.

The Left: Not only is Nancy Pelosi really smart and a grandmother, she isn't liberal at all. She's actually a centrist. All Americans are ecstatic that she's in charge of the country. Except for those Republicans, who are very sad. On the other hand, George H. W. Bush is in charge of the country, which would normally be bad, except we like him now.

Take the rest of the week off, but don't forget to visit here as often as possible for more essential analysis.

Posted by annika, Nov. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 12, 2006

Despite Recent Unpleasantness, Saddam Still Popular With Liberals

I won't dirty my blog with video of Bill Mahr, but I do want you to check out this clip, on YouTube. It's called "Farewell to Douchebags," and it's a look back at some faces we've probably seen the last of (or not).

Mahre sets it up by noting how they do the same thing during the Oscars each year, with the dead person reel. Some people inevitably get more applause than others, and sometimes there's an audible pause while people decide how much acclamation to bestow. Mar gives an example "they go, oh DeForest Kelly . . . okay we liked him"

Now watch the video and listen to the hearty applause given at Tom Delay's or Karl Rove's pictures and then compare it to the uncomfortable semi-silence at Saddam Hussein's picture. The audience was like "uh uh do we cheer? oh shit, shit whatdowedo?!" It's liberal brain lock.

h/t SharonCobb

Posted by annika, Nov. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 08, 2006

I Blame Bush

No one loves and supports this President more than I do. But after yesterday's debacle I have to say it: I blame Bush.

It was a debacle, and don't let anybody tell you different. The voters threw forty Republicans out of office, and they would have thrown Bush out too, if they'd only had the chance. Not a single Democratic incumbent lost, and the carnage would have been much worse if it had not been for Gerrymandering.

Clinton's famous catch phrase was, "It's the economy, stupid." It's pretty obvious that the American people sent a message this year, and the message was, "It's the war, stupid." That there are Republicans out there who failed to hear this message is one of the truly astounding things about yesterday's election.

Hugh Hewitt is the prime example. Don't get me wrong, Hugh Hewitt knows more about government and politics that I could ever hope to learn. His radio show is the highlight of my listening day. And he has done amazing work for the party before, as he will again. But Hugh's Townhall column today was so clueless, I think he must need some time off.

In an essay that's 1,351 words long, Hugh failed to cite the Iraq War even once as a possible cause for the Republicans being thrown out on their asses yesterday. Instead, incredibly, he blames John McCain:

The post-mortems are accumulating, but I think the obvious has to be stated: John McCain and his colleagues in the Gang of 14 cost the GOP its Senate majority while the conduct of a handful of corrupt House members gave that body's leadership [to] the Democrats.
That's an incredible example of denial. Look, I'm no McCain fan. I've already placed on the record my vow never to vote for him, even in a general election. But what percentage of swing voters the middle third who decided this election do you think even know what the Gang of 14 was? Not many, I'd wager. And how many of these swing voters would eagerly admit that the Iraq War was their number one issue? I'd say virtually all of them.

Listen carefully to what I'm saying. The principled base might have been pissed off at Republican betrayals, but the base still turned out yesterday. The middle third, the independents, the swing voters, they're who I'm talking about. They're the ones who led the revolt, and their issue was the War. Any one of you can verify this for yourself by asking a few questions around the water cooler.

I'm not saying that we Republicans lost because Americans want to cut and run. Don't believe that bullshit. I absolutely do not believe that the majority of Americans think their country is engaged in an immoral war. I believe that Americans wouldn't really care whether there were WMD in Iraq, if the war was over and won by now. Most Americans want to win, and they can't understand why we haven't yet. The 2004 election was America's rejection of the hate-America crowd who believe the Iraq War was wrong, immoral, what have you. Those people are a loud but small minority. In 2004, Americans made a different choice and said to the President, "We're sticking with you, now go get it done."

And the problem this time around was that, two years later, the President still had not gotten it done.

We can blame the media all we want. We can blame the Cindy Sheehans and the Michael Moores and the Jimmy Carters and the Kos Kids and the George Soroses all we want. They deserve blame. But the fact remains, George W. Bush was handed a vote of confidence by the American people in 2004, and he did not get the job done. Not only that, he took our patience for granted.

The patience of a Democratic people is a historically fickle thing. It would be nice if it weren't so fickle, but it is. And that's part of the ground that President Bush had to fight on. You can't excuse it by saying, as we've heard for three years now, "It's hard work. Stay the course. Stay the course." Americans demand results. We're willing to sacrifice; we're willing to be patient; we're willing to trust our leaders. But ultimately, we demand results.

And 105 brave souls lost in the last month is not results.

We can say that the media is not reporting the real progess being made in Iraq, and I believe that's true. But at some point you gotta ask, "Can we stop with the building schools and the passing out candy, and just win this thing and get our people home?"

President Bush's task is often compared by people on my side of the aisle to Lincoln's task during the Civil War. Lincoln is said to have stood firm in the face of vehement opposition. He stayed the course during the darkest days, and won through to victory. But the comparison, as it looks right now, is not an apt one. Lincoln fired a shitload of generals. Lincoln demanded results, and eventually he got results. Look, I love Rumsfeld for the way he talked back to the media. I was willing to support Rummy through thick and thin, despite what the generals thought of him. But the war plan was Rumsfeld's baby, and as soon as he stopped getting results, he should have been gone.

I understand that the enemy adapts. I get it. But to use a football analogy, we're sick of the three and outs. We need to see some first downs here, guys.

I supported the decision to go to war against Saddam. Even knowing what I know now, I still support that decision. But my support is given with the assumption that we're in it to win. We simply must win. As I said before, there is no third way in Iraq.

Victory in Iraq let's just call it "success" at this point should be defined like this: any situation in Iraq that would enable us to bring our troops home without everything we've done in the last three and a half years falling to pieces once we leave. I'm not sure that the Democrats have any idea how to accomplish this, but I also know that the President sure as shit hasn't gotten us there yet.

So that's why we Republicans lost the House and Senate yesterday. There's plenty of other reasons you can cite to me, and they're all valid criticisms, I'm sure. Culture of corruption, Foleygate, Delaygate, etc. Dubai Ports, Harriet Meiers, even the Gang of 14, if you like. The Bridge to Nowhere, earmarks, amnesty, Hurricane Katrina, whatever. The list goes on and on. But there's one thing I'll argue 'til I'm out of breath. The American people would have forgiven any of those things hell, all of those things if only we knew that our boys were coming home soon, and victorious.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (36) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Some Quick Notes On The Punditry

Here are some notes that occur to me, reading the various conservative pundits doing their various post-election stuff.

1. I keep reading about how it's the Democrats' turn to govern. Congress does not govern. Congress legislates. It takes three branches to govern. Keep that in mind.

2. I keep reading about how "we'll get 'em back in two years." Not so fast. Iraq is the biggest problem that needs to be fixed, and soon. If Iraq is fixed, to the satisfaction of the electorate, then guess who gets the credit. Not us. If Iraq gets worse, Republicans might have a chance to say I told you so, but guess who the electorate will blame. Not the Democrats. And I for one, desperately want a victory in Iraq, regardless of who gets the credit. If that means a longer time in the wilderness, so be it. Our men and women in arms deserve victory, for all they've sacrificed. I hope, hope, hope, that victory is really part of the Democratic plan, and now that they've won, I'm willing to give them a fair chance to make their case.

3. I think yesterday eliminated four sure losers from running for the Republican nomination in '08. Santorum, Frist, Allen, and Romney. These guys all had their appeal for hopeful conservatives (maybe not Frist, who was an abysmal leader from the start), but none of them, in my view, had a snowball's chance against Hillary/Obama in today's environment. I'm glad they're off the table.


4. As the day wears on, I'm more and more disappointed with most of the big name pundits on the right: from Hugh Hewitt (who blames John McCain?!?!), to Rush Limbaugh (who boasts that Republicans are better than Democrats because we're not crying about fraud after a loss, then in almost the same breath demands an ACORN investigation). The first step is admitting there's a problem, fellas.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Rumsfeld: In Or Out?

Headlines this morning reported that Rummy was staying put, but Drudge now reports he's out.

h/t Ace.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

It's A New Day

It looks like I was almost spot on with my Senate predictions. If things turn out as they look like they're headed, the only race that I will not have called will be Virginia, and that only by a couple thousand votes. So I think you all better start paying attention to me. ; )

Regarding the California ballot, the news this morning is particularly disheartening. Tom McClintock lost the Lt. Governor's race to John Garamendi. I like Garamendi, but McClintock was a solid guy, and very popular. I really thought he was going to win, but this is a Democratic year and he had an R by his name.

Jerry Brown is our new Attorney General. This guy is a disgrace. His opponent had some hard hitting ads, which sounded like they were made up because they were so outrageous, but in Jerry Brown's case, the attacks were true.

Our anti-Kelo proposition went down by five points. I don't think proponents spent enough money advertising that one, though.

All the bonds won, and the parental notification measure lost. No surprise there.

The only really good California result I can point to is that Cruz Bustamonte did not win the Insurance Commissioner job. (And no, I do not include Arnold's win as a good thing.) Oh, and Prop 87, the alternative energy referendum, also went down handily.

I have a post-election post in my head, which I've been ruminating on since last weekend. It's coming, I just don't have time to write it now. The working title of the piece is "I Blame Bush," so stay tuned.

A final note before I rush off to class, and I'm sincere about this. Despite yesterday's defeat, today is a good day.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 07, 2006

For California Voters...

I'm leaving this link at the top until polls close on Tuesday.

Click here if you want to refer to my California ballot proposition recommendations.

Posted by annika, Nov. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Open Comments For Election Day

It's open comments. Just leave your election day story here. How did it go? What do you think?

I'm voting later today, after class. I might join in the liveblogging fun at Six Meat Buffet later tonight, so check in there too.

Posted by annika, Nov. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 06, 2006

Memo To The Disgruntled Pro-Life Voter

Along the same lines as my "Memo To The Disgruntled Independent Voter" below, I have a message for those voters whose main issue is opposition to abortion.

What are you doing thinking about staying home tomorrow? I understand your frustration at Bush, and the Republicans, and their betrayal of conservative values. But I also know that a Democratic Congress will lead directly to fewer restrictions on abortion, and more pro-abortion federal judges. Maybe you're okay with that, but I won't have that vote on my conscience.

If you say you're pro-life, your only choice is to vote and to vote Republican. Staying home is not an option.

Posted by annika, Nov. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Memo To The Disgruntled Independent Voter

I agree that the number one issue in tomorrow's election is the war in Iraq. I also agree that things are not going well over there, and it's time for a change. I understand that a lot of independent voters want to give the Democrats a try, with the hope that maybe they can do better than Bush in what seems like a no win situation. Believe me, I share your frustration.

But remember, not all change is good. Sometimes things can change for the worse. Please read Frederick Kagan's column in the Weekly Standard. Here's a key excerpt.

The pullback of U.S. forces to their bases will not reduce the sectarian conflict . . . . It will increase it. Death squads on both sides will become more active. Large-scale ethnic and sectarian cleansing will begin as each side attempts to establish homogeneous enclaves where there are now mixed communities. Atrocities will mount, as they always do in ethnic cleansing operations. Iraqis who have cooperated with the Americans will be targeted by radicals on both sides. Some of them will try to flee with the American units. American troops will watch helplessly as death squads execute women and children. Pictures of this will play constantly on Al Jazeera. Prominent "collaborators," with whom our soldiers and leaders worked, will be publicly executed. Crowds of refugees could overwhelm not merely Iraq's neighbors but also the FOBs themselves. Soldiers will have to hold off fearful, tearful, and dangerous mobs. Again, endless photographs and video footage of all this will play constantly. Before long, it will probably prove necessary to remove the embedded U.S. troops from the Iraqi military units. The situation will become too dangerous; the Iraqis will increasingly resent the restraint the embeds place on their actions; and the U.S. military will become fearful of being implicated in death-squad activity. It is a matter of chance whether the embedded troops are pulled before any are kidnapped or taken prisoner by Iraqi military units turning bad or being infiltrated by radicals.

. . . There will be no "decent interval" here during which we withdraw in reasonably good order--the withdrawal itself is likely to occur in the midst of rising violence. Instead of pictures of Americans on the embassy roof in Saigon, we will see images of Iraqi death squads at work with U.S. troops staying on their bases nearby. And let us not forget that in the world of Al Jazeera, we will be accused of encouraging those death squads. The overall result will be searing and scarring. The damage to the morale of the military could be far greater than what will result from burdening soldiers with longer or more frequent tours of duty in a stepped-up effort to achieve victory. Those who are concerned about the well-being of the Army should fear defeat of this type more than anything.

We know these things to be possible, because they've happened before: after Vietnam.

Do you want your vote to be responsible for the reign of terror that will inevitably follow our retreat from Iraq? I know no matter how pissed I am at the mistakes and the lack of progress, I don't want that blood on my conscience.

There is no third way; there is only defeat or victory. And thus the choice tomorrow is clear, because you know what the Democrats want to do. Even if you don't believe the Democrats want us to lose, you should give serious thought to whether you want us to lose, and to what would happen if we were to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq now, when they're needed there most.

Posted by annika, Nov. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 05, 2006

Pre Election Mental Warm-Up Suggestion

Just keep repeating to yourself:

Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco
Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco
Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco
Keep repeating until it sinks in.

Posted by annika, Nov. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 04, 2006

I Go On The Record Update

On Tuesday I went on the record, saying that the Democrats will pick up five Senate seats to split the upper house 50/50. I just spent the last hour re-analyzing the latest polls, and I stand by that prediction.

Democrats will gain seats in Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Rhode Island. Republicans will fail to take over Democratic seats in Maryland, New Jersey and Minnesota. Republicans will hold on to their seats in Virginia and Tennessee.

The races where I might be wrong are, of course, the hotly contested Montana and Missouri elections.

Montana perplexes me. I don't know enough about the issues to say why, but Democrat Tester has consistently polled ahead of Republican Burns since April. It might be Tester's haircut. Tester's ads portray him as a regular guy, someone you could have a beer with. By contrast, Burns seems more like, well, Mr. Burns. The race is still close. The latest Zogby poll has Burns down by a percentage point. But I'm still calling it for Tester. I think Montanans are turned off by Burns' alleged Abramoff connections, and Tester is a native who looks the part. I also think you can probably trust Montana poll numbers more than you would some other state's.

In Missouri, Republican incumbent Jim Talent is polling about three points behind Democrat Claire McCaskill. The polls have switched back and forth all year between the two candidates. If I'm wrong about any of my predictions, Missouri is likely to be the one. But I think Missouri is a weird state; it seems so evenly split between red and blue. One thing I think McCaskill has going for her is that there are large urban areas where the Democrats can use fraud to add a few unearned points to her total. Talent seems like a good guy though, and I hope he wins.

I could also be wrong about Virginia. I predict Republican incumbent George Allen will hold on to win, despite recent polls showing Democrat Jim Webb with a one to five point advantage. I'm sticking with Allen because I trust Virginia is at heart a conservative state, and I don't trust the pollsters there. When was the last time a Democrat won a national election in Virginia? Okay, Chuck Robb, but he was a centrist. Webb may have a certain appeal to conservatives, but if voting for him means handing the Senate over to the Democrats, I think Virginians will do the right thing.

Finally, I'm still sticking with my prediction that Maryland's open Senate seat will remain in Democrat hands. When was the last time a Republican won a national election in Maryland? And my fraud theory holds here too. I really hope Steele wins, though. After what they've done and said about him, Steele's Democrat critics ought to wear sheets and hoods. It's disgusting.

My best case scenario for Republicans has them maintaining a Senate majority by three seats. Santorum, DeWine and Chafee are toast. But if Steele, Talent and Burns win, there's our three seats. Of course I'm still assuming that Allen and Corker win Virginia and Tennessee, but I think they will.

The House is way too complicated for me to analyze, so like I said before: trust Gerrymandering.

Update: See how far out on a limb I am? Only one guy at the Weekly Standard agrees with me.

Posted by annika, Nov. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 03, 2006

What Have They Done With Nancy?

Drudge has been running this story about Where's Nancy? He claims that Nancy Pelosi has been hidden from public appearances since October 21, two weeks ago. I don't doubt it. She's as bad for the the Democratic Party's PR as John Kerry, only twice as dumb.

Drudge says:

The woman who would be speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has oddly stayed out of the national spotlight in the week leading up to the big vote.

The high profile, potentially history-making democrat has turned low-key.

The last photo of vanishing Pelosi on the wires was from an October 21 fundraiser.

And since Pelosi appeared on the controversial October 22 broadcast of 60 MINUTES, national TV hits have all but been nonexistent.

[Pelosi did appear on CNBC's On the Money on 10/24 and on ABC on 10/26, as THINK PROGRESS points out. But the sightings have dramatically dwindled.]

Former Speaker of the House, Republican Newt Gingrich believes he knows one reason why the congresswoman has largely dropped out of public sight ever since 60 MINUTES.

"It seems clear that some Americans have glimpsed a future with her third in line for the presidency, and they don't like what they see," says Gingrich. "She has become largely invisible as a result."

A source close to the congresswoman explains she has been busy behind the scenes.

Pelosi made a brief public appearance with Bill Clinton this week in San Francisco.

After providing a long schedule of her weekend events, a Pelosi aide added that her favorite stop was the taping of a World Wrestling Entertainment podcast on the importance of young people voting, the WHITE HOUSE BULLETIN reports.

I'm wondering, if Nancy's the leader of her party, and she's being held out of sight, who's in charge? Did she take herself out of circulation? Or if not, who did? Who's the secret figure behind the scenes, who had the power to tell the House Democratic Leader to shut the hell up during the two weeks before the election? And what does that tell you about the Democrats in general? There's something they don't want you to know.

Posted by annika, Nov. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 02, 2006

I Heart Varifrank

Read and understand:

If you vote for Democrats in this election, you might think youre voting for a perfectly nice centrist Democrat, but the "Anti-war" wing of leftist thought will take that perfectly nice candidate that you voted for and use it as evidence that their side in the argument is actually perferred by Americans. Not the "centrist American" side, but the loathesome "We hate America" side. Your vote will be used to prove it.

They will take that protest vote of yours to argue "America is in descent", that our sins have finally caught up with us and we need to be sorry for all the evil we have done in the world, and look at all the people who agree with us! They will argue that fundamental changes in our country are necessary to make up for our crimes of the past, that our its our military is actually what causes wars, that people in the military should be prosecuted and they are what causes other people in the world to hate us and not our lovely and socially relevent "pop-culture".

. . . If Democrats are tossed yet another defeat this time, they will learn. They will get the message. They will remove the leech of "Anti-war" from their crotch and we might start to see Democrats like Harry Truman again. Democrats who don't apologize for America or being an American.

And that will be good for all of us.


Posted by annika, Nov. 2, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 31, 2006

The Botched Senator

Sen. John Kerry:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you dont, you get stuck in Iraq.
Sen. John McCain:
If you offend somebody, whether you intend to or not, you should apologize.
Sen. John Kerry:
I apologize to no one for my criticism of the President and his broken policy.
Listen, I want to believe the argument that John Kerry didn't really mean to insult our all volunteer military servicemen and women. If it were any other guy, without John Kerry's history, I might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But given that John Kerry began his political career by throwing his military ribbons over the White House fence in protest over a military service which he claimed led to widespread and systematic atrocities which he later admitted that he never witnessed, and which were later proven to have been completely made up I sincerely doubt that his "explanation" is genuine.

If John Kerry intended to insult the president with his "botched joke," why then are the words "president" or "Bush" nowhere to be found within the text of that joke?

If John Kerry really fucked up the script so badly, why then didn't he immediately clarify himself? We've all been in that situation. When I mis-speak, and inadvertently give offense, that's what I do. It's customary, even through embarrassment, to say, "I'm sorry, what I meant to say was..." But Kerry didn't do that until the firestorm began this morning. Now that he's busted, it's a little hard to believe his denials.

Here's an instructive thought experiment. What if, instead of touching the third rail of conservative politics by insulting the troops, John Kerry's "botched joke" had imputed stupidity to African Americans? Would he then have apologized quickly and repeatedly? You bet your ass he would have, and he'd have done it based on John McCain's maxim I quoted above: "If you offend somebody, whether you intend to or not, you should apologize." The fact that John Kerry, even now after "admitting" he made a mistake, still refuses to apologize to the American military he claims to respect so much, is tantamount to insulting them a second time. He doesn't think they're worth the courtesy.

What really happened is that John Kerry had a "Dixie Chicks" moment. Like Natalie Maines in England, Kerry thought he had a sympathetic audience of liberal college students to whom he could pander, by sharing a little inside humor. "Heh, heh, I know you guys despise the military and think they're dummies. I do too. Ain't I cool? Vote for Angelides."

Should any of this matter? Probably not, since Kerry can't be voted out of office this year. (Personally, I think Kerry should be forced to resign from his seat on the Committee on Foreign Relations. Nobody with his history of undisguised contempt for American military personnel should be allowed to sit on such a committee, with that body's concomitant influence over the deployment of those same soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.) But that's a different question from whether any of this will matter. And I hope it does. Not only because it may forestall the Democratic takeover I predicted earlier, but because Kerry's latest blunder probably and irrevocably scuttled any hope he might have had of trying for his party's nomination in '08. Democratic power brokers will never ever forgive him for this gaffe, nor should any of us.

Update: Kerry apologizes.

[Technorati tag: ; cross-posted at The Cotillion]

Posted by annika, Oct. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

I Go On The Record

I've been following the polls and the elections closely, but until now I've avoided making any predictions. Now, a week out, I'm ready to cut through all the MSM's pro-Democratic propaganda and all the pie-in-the-sky optimism from the right wing press.

Here are my predictions. The Senate looks tight, but I think it will take a miracle for the Republicans to retain control. By my calculations, it will be a 50/50 split after next Tuesday. Republicans will lose in MT, OH, NJ, PA and RI. I think Corker will beat Ford, keeping TN Republican, but I could be wrong about that. In MD, Steele deserves to win, and though I mistrust polls generally, they can't be that far off. I don't think Steele will do it.

An evenly divided Senate is a de facto Democratic majority, since there are enough turncoat RINOs in the Senate to do Harry Reid's bidding. The Dems also know how to play rough and they will insist on some sort of accomodation on committee chairs. Republican Senate leaders, never known for stiff spines, will cave in to these demands.

As for the House, I have just two words for you: trust Gerrymandering. The Republicans will hold the House.

Divided government here we come. Now maybe in peacetime, a Democrat Senate was tolerable, but Kerry's despicable anti-military insults yesterday illustrate clearly why the Democrats cannot be trusted with any position of leadership.

Posted by annika, Oct. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 30, 2006

More Tips For Voters

Don't like waiting in line? Here's an idea, idiots. Get to your polling place early.

Here's another idea. Vote absentee.

When I go to the Post Office and there's a long line, it doesn't mean I'm being discriminated against. It just means there's a lot of customers. And if I show up at the Post Office at 5:00 and they shut the door in my face, it just means that I should have got there earlier.

Another thing, idiots. If you can't figure out the ballot, fucking ask somebody to help you. Or study the sample ballot before you show up.

It ain't that hard. If voting is so important to you that you are ready to scream disenfranchisement at the drop of a hat, why not take the time to avoid problems by planning ahead.

Unless of course, crying fraud is part of your strategy for winning.

P.S. If you're one of the unfortunate voters who has to use one of these beasts, and you encounter problems, blame Florida and disregard the above. I've never trusted the idea of computer voting, its an example of knee-jerk overreaction to a nonexistent problem.

Posted by annika, Oct. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 29, 2006

A Guide For Voters

Here are my California ballot proposition recommendations. It might be interesting to you, even if you're not from California, since it provides an insight into the workings of my political mind.

As I've said before, I have an easy way to decide on any bond issues. I vote no as a rule on every bond measure, no matter how tempting it sounds (with one exception, I vote yes on all prison bonds*). It seems to me that bond measures are a way for this state's government to spend beyond its means, even though excessive spending is its biggest problem. My philosophy is that the legislature should do its job and prioritize the budget so we won't have to rely on bonds to get things done.

I'm also sick and tired of two or three school improvement bonds every time we have an election. They generally win, because nobody (except me) wants to vote to keep kids learning under leaky roofs and without enough crayons or construction paper. Yet every election, the schools hold out their hand for more. Whatever happened to the promise that the California Lottery was supposed to solve all our school problems? I'm told that "Our schools win too" was the motto back in '84 when the lottery initiative passed. Well, I for one won't play that game anymore. Whatever they're doing with all that money isn't working, so let's cut off the spigot and force them to try something else.

Here's the propositions on the statewide ballot:

Prop 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION This initiative would force the government to use gasoline sales tax revenues for transportation improvements only, instead of dumping that money into the general fund so the legislature can squander it as they love to do. I vote YES.

Prop 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND Here's an example of a bond measure with worthy goals, which I will reject simply because of my hard and fast rule about bond measures. If the legislature would do its job, cut the frivolous spending, and cut regulation and taxes to keep businesses from fleeing the state, we'd have enough money to do this kind of shit without mortgaging our future with 39 billion more in bond debt. I vote NO.

Prop 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND More bonds. Hey, I'm all for helping out battered women and their kids, low-income seniors, the disabled, military veterans, and working families. But again, if this is such a priority, the legislature should find a way to do it without adding to the bond debt. Otherwise, let's encourage private charities to continue their good work in this area. I know that there are many fine non-profits that help battered women and provide shelter for their families, because I did pro-bono work for one of them last year. I vote NO.



Prop 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING This initiative tightens punishment and monitoring of violent sexual predators. Again, where was the legislature on this? Why is such an important public safety issue being left up to the initiative process? A definite YES vote.

Prop 84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY, FLOOD CONTROL, NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION, PARK IMPROVEMENTS, BONDS All important and worthy goals, which I support Just not by increasing the bond debt. I sound like a broken record here. I vote NO.

Prop 85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINORS PREGNANCY This proposition would require a doctor to notify parents when a minor comes in for an abortion, with certian exceptions. If I had a kid, I'd want to know if she was going to have an abortion. I don't care if some other kid doesn't have a good relationship with her parent. I'd want to know about my daughter. It's that simple. I vote YES.

Prop 86: TAX ON CIGARETTES This initiative would add $2.60 in taxes to each pack of cigarettes. Right now, they're about $5 a pack. If this initiative passes, a pack would cost more than it does in New York City. I was shocked at the cost of cigarettes during my last trip to New York. I suppose I should favor this proposition because it might motivate me to quit. But realistically, even though I grumbled, I still paid the seven bucks when I was in New York. I generally oppose sin taxes, because they encourage the black market. We already have enough problems with drugs and illegal aliens coming across the border without creating a whole new market for contraband. I vote NO.

Prop 87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. RESEARCH, PRODUCTION, INCENTIVES. TAX ON CALIFORNIA OIL PRODUCERS This is the most controversial measure on California's ballot. President Clinton is doing tv spots in favor of this plan, which would create a whole new alternative energy research bureaucracy funded by a tax on oil drilling in California. The opposition ads are disingenuous because they do not say that the law would prevent oil companies from passing on the tax to the consumer. It sounds tempting, especially to those who don't understand economics. But when you do the research, this proposition reveals itself as one of the worst ideas to come down the pike in a long time. Virtually every major newspaper to opine on the issue agrees that it's a horrible idea. And I'm talking the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, the Sacramento Bee, the O.C. Register and the Wall Street Journal. That's a pretty wide sampling of the editorial spectrum there. I'd encourage anybody undecided on this measure to read those editorials, which can be found here. As much as we'd all like to stick it to the oil companies, It doesn't make much sense to punish them for developing domestic oilfields in order to achieve energy independence. If it's no longer profitable to drill in California, guess where our oil will come from? That's right, overseas. I also have a problem with the prohibition against passing the new tax on to the consumer. In my view, the way to encourage alternative energy sources is to let the free market work. High gas prices are the best way to create a demand for the new technology, not a poorly regulated and graft ridden new bureaucracy. I vote NO.

Prop 88: EDUCATION FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX The schools got their hand out again. They're like the cookie monster, except it's not Chips Ahoy they want, it's your money. This time they want to add $50 to everybody's property tax bill. If we let them, next year it will be another $50 or maybe $100. Just say NO.

Prop 89: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS, PUBLIC FINANCING, CORPORATE TAX INCREASE, CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITS Another corporate tax increase at a time when California needs to stop business from fleeing out of state. How is that a good idea? And how is it a good idea to make it harder for ordinary Californians to run for office by requiring "a specified number of $5.00 contributions from voters?" This initiative also puts limits on political contributions to state candidates, which is a free speech issue. I vote NO.

Prop 90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY The last ballot initiative is the Protect Our Homes Act, which I first heard about from Tim Sandefur. This is the anti-Kelo initiative. It would basically prevent the state government from using its eminent domain power to grab your property and give it to some corporation, which is what happened in the Kelo case. If you hated Kelo, vote for this. I vote YES.

There you have it. Since I encourage all my blog's visitors to be in complete agreement with me, I suggest that you Californians print out this post and take it with you on November 7th.

* The reason I vote against school bonds and for prison bonds is not because I'm a heartless bitch. I understand the argument that better schools may lead to fewer criminals. But school bonds always win, and yet we still need prisons. Insofar as my one vote can be a message, I plan to send that message. Where school bonds are concerned, my message is that the state should use the gobs of money we send them for schools each year more wisely. As for prisons, they're an unpopular but necessary part of our infrastucture, and my message is that I want them built. As the late Ann Richards said of Texas' vast prison system, when asked what kind of a message it sent to the world: "If you commit a crime in Texas, it means we got a place to put you."

Posted by annika, Oct. 29, 2006 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 26, 2006

Same Shit Different Day

And just in case you thought a cease fire in the north meant peace all over Israel, think again.

Just because the anti-semitic media in this country doesn't deem it news don't meant this shit ain't still happening almost every fucking day.

P.S. The comments under the article are crazy. Man, if a Kassam rocket landed in my yard, but I was only "lightly injured" do you think I would: a) say "no harm no foul," and go on with my day, or b) get pissed as hell and start screaming nonstop until I saw warplanes flying back from Gaza with empty hardpoints.

via Morning Coffee

Posted by annika, Oct. 26, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Danish Court Dismisses Jihadi Lawsuit Over Cartoons

Score one for our side.

"It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims' honor, but there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims," the court said.

The seven Muslim groups filed the defamation lawsuit against the paper in March, after Denmark's top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy.

The plaintiffs, who claimed to have the backing of 20 more Islamic organizations in the Scandinavian country, had sought $16,860 in damages from Jyllands-Posten Editor in Chief Carsten Juste and Culture Editor Flemming Rose, who supervised the cartoon project.

What they need to do now is get rid of the stupid law that allows people to sue for "belittling Muslims."

h/t Right Thinking Girl

Posted by annika, Oct. 26, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 25, 2006

My E-Mail From San Fran Nan

I got an e-mail from Nancy Pelosi today. No lie. I'm on some Democrat list, inexplicably. I thought it was a weird e-mail because it was titled "what we need to do," yet she pretty much avoided mentioning any of the key issues of the day. So much for a Democratic version of the Contract With America.

Here is the entire text of the e-mail:

Dear annika,

You know how high the stakes are -- so I'll get right to the point: there's never been a more critical time to highlight the priorities everyday Americans share.

Right now, working families suffer because corporate lobbyists write the laws. Our seniors can't get the drugs they need because the drug companies get everything they want. And President Bush continues to threaten one of our society's greatest accomplishments -- Social Security -- with his risky privatization schemes.

Congress needs to focus on an agenda that benefits the American people:

* Impose new rules and regulations to break the link between lobbyists and legislation
* Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies and fix Medicare Part D
* Stop Social Security and Medicare privatization plans in their tracks
* Raise the minimum wage to $7.25
* Cut the interest rates on student loans in half
* Roll back subsidies to Big Oil and gas companies
* Enact all the recommendations made by the independent 9/11 Commission

And that all needs to be done in the first 100 hours!

Working together, we will make that happen. Please help Americans United today:


There's a lot at stake in the coming weeks, but we must never lose focus on the task at hand: building a better country. Your work changes the national debate, raising awareness about the misplaced priorities of the current leadership.

Last year, Americans United led the national media campaign against Social Security privatization -- and won.

Now, with so much more at stake, will you help us win again?


Onward to victory.

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives

That's it?

(It's nice that the Democrats want to cut student loan rates in half, but if you can't afford 8% over thirty years with the almost unlimited deferment schemes available, something is seriously wrong with your post college career path.)

I'm sorry but that was a weird e-mail. It's weird because she said absolutely nothing about the big issues that people are arguing about the issues that are going to get people off their ass and down to the voting booth less than two weeks from now.

She said nothing about Iraq.

Nothing about the War on Terror.

Nothing about impeachment.

Nothing about tax cuts.

Nothing about gay marriage.

Nothing about abortion.

Nothing about crime.

Nothing about North Korea.

Nothing about Iran.

Nothing about the border.

The Democrats are either a party with no agenda or a party with a hidden agenda. Either way, they absolutely cannot be trusted with a majority.

Posted by annika, Oct. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 24, 2006

The Economy

According to today's New York Times,

In many ways, the economy has not looked so good in a long time.
Yet Republicans can't get any love when it comes to the strong economy.
Voters overwhelmingly dont approve of the president on the economy, said Amy Walter, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan firm that handicaps political races. It comes down to the issue of credibility. And so many voters feel so pessimistic about the direction of the country.
Take the unemployment figures for instance. The rule of thumb I always heard in school was that anytime you have unemployment at 5% or below, the country was doing great. Right now, unemployment is at 4.4%. That is great. Check out this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some historical perspective.

As you can see, since WWII, unemployment has been over 5% a lot more than it's been under. Yet you still get comments like this one:

Ann OCallahan, a 64-year old Irish immigrant in suburban Philadelphia, defines herself as a social conservative. She voted Republican in 2000, but switched to the Democrats in 2004. This year she plans to vote Democratic again, mainly because of the economy. I am very disturbed by the economic policies of the Bush administration, she said.

Ms. OCallahans district, Pennsylvanias Seventh, is an island of relative affluence. The median income in the area, according to the Census Bureau, topped $63,000 last year, more than a third higher than the national median. According to Economy.coms analysis, based on county data, unemployment this year in the district should average 3.8 percent, well below the national average.

But, Ms. OCallahan said, jobs were not enough. I work with job placement so I see up close how a lot more work is demanded of people, how benefits are disappearing, how hourly rates have been stagnant throughout the Bush administration, she said. She said that jobs were plentiful, but paying $8 an hour with no benefits.

What I think Ms. O'Callahan overlooked is that in any economy there's going to be a bottom of the barrel type job. These days it's probably going to pay $8 an hour without benefits. But when 96.2% of the people in Ms. O'Callahan's district are working, I'd imagine that she's spending most of her time placing people in these bottom of the barrel type jobs. Most people with skills are probably already employed, and making more money.

We need entry level jobs. They're where most people start out. And they're good for students and retired people. Look at what's going on in France where "youths" are burning busses and attacking police because their country won't allow businesses the freedom to offer entry level jobs.

With the Dow over 12,000 and unemployment under 5%, I say the economy is doing great.

Posted by annika, Oct. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 14, 2006

655,000 Iraqis Dead?

Is the line between intellectual dishonesty and bald-faced lying a fine line or is it a wide chasm? Whichever it is, The Lancet and those who masturbate over its latest Iraqi war dead estimate have leapt across that line with ease.

A study published in the Lancet this week estimates that 654,965 Iraqis have died as a consequence of war since 2003. . . .

. . . The researchersled by Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins Universitygathered data on more than 12,000 people in clusters of houses around Iraq, and tried to figure out how many people had died both before and after March of 2003. By comparing the pre- and post-invasion mortality rates, they figured out how many deaths could be attributed to the war, and then extrapolated from their sample to the country's entire population. [via Slate.com]

655,000 is roughly the population of Baltimore, Maryland, where Johns Hopkins University is located.

Historian Gwynne Dyer (who wrote the very readable book War, which pretty much made me want to be a history major) is against the Iraq war. He predictably gushed over the Lancet's study:

Johns Hopkins University, Boston University and MIT are not fly-by-night institutions, and people who work there have academic reputations to protect.

The Lancet, founded 182 years ago, is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world.

Must be true then. These people couldn't possibly make a mistake. In fact, I bet the peer review process is waived for all studies coming out of JHU, BU, MIT, or the Lancet.


The most disturbing thing is the breakdown of the causes of death.

Over half the deaths -- 56 per cent -- are due to gunshot wounds, but 13 per cent are due to air strikes. No terrorists do air strikes. No Iraqi government forces do air strikes either because they don't have combat aircraft. Air strikes are done by "coalition forces" (i.e. Americans and British) and air strikes in Iraq have killed over 75,000 people since the invasion.

Oscar Wilde once observed that "to lose one parent ... may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

To lose 75,000 Iraqis to air strikes looks like carelessness, too.

Actually, blind acceptance of the Lancet's figures and methodology by a historian such as Dyer looks like carelessness to me.

Now, I didn't do too well in statistics, so I won't pick apart the Lancet's methodology, no matter how suspect it seems to me (it was based on interviews?!). But I do have a history background and the 655,000 number seemed wildly far-fetched to me the instant I saw it. Wildly far-fetched.

I immediately wondered why the study's authors had not considered placing the estimate into historical perspective. That would be a kind of "smell test," which I suspected the study might not pass.

Consider this. In 3½ years, the Lancet figures we have been responsible for 655,000 civilian deaths. (Not casualties, deaths. The term "casualty" includes missing, wounded and POWs.) For comparison, I simply went to two easily available sources: The Oxford Companion to World War II, and the often less reliable Wikipedia.

According to those two sources, Japanese civilian deaths in World War II ranged from 400,000 to 600,000. One generally expects the Wikipedia figure to be at the higher range, and that was true in this case. I also consulted Wings of Judgment, by Ronald Schaffer, a somewhat left leaning historian of the two World Wars. Shaffer gave an estimated range from 330,000 to 900,000 Japanese deaths (p. 148), which coincidentally is almost exactly the range that the Lancet used for Iraqi civilian deaths (392,979 to 942,636).

Looking at all three sources, the Wikipedia estimate of 600,000 Japanese civilian deaths seems most reasonable. So the obvious question to me is this:

Are we to believe that the United States has killed more Iraqi civilians in the current war than we killed Japanese civilians during World War II?

I have no doubt that there are very many anti-war kooks who would not hesitate to believe that, but it sure doesn't pass the smell test to me.

Keep in mind that we attacked Japan repeatedly with unguided incendiary bombs in WWII, while we mostly relied on precision guided bombs when bombing Iraq. Also remember that the aerial bombing in Iraq occurred in the first three weeks of the war, and thereafter was only used to support certain offensives like in Fallujah, etc.

Keep in mind that the purpose of strategic bombing in WWII was to kill civilians and that we intentionally targeted Japanese civilians for over a year. In Iraq, we make a great effort to avoid civilian deaths. In fact, Iraqi civilian deaths are counter-productive to the war effort and can be used as a propaganda against us by our enemies, as the Lancet study proves.

Keep in mind that we flattened two Japanese cities in WWII with nuclear weapons, and that those attacks weren't even as deadly as the Tokyo firebomb raid in which three hundred B-29s burned the city to the ground and killed almost 100,000 civilians in one night. We bombed the crap out of Japan so thoroughly that we had pretty much run out of cities to destroy by the end of the war.

It was a lot easier to kill Japanese civilians by firebombing than it is to kill Iraqis today. The Lancet figures that most Iraqis (56%) were killed by gunshots, which is probably the least efficient way of killing mass numbers of people. Remember that Japanese civilians lived in houses made of paper and wood, and that the population density of Iraq is nothing compared to Japan in the 1940s. During the Tokyo raid, escape was near impossible. Shaffer wrote:

The fire storm quickly roasted those who stayed in under-house shelters. Alleys and small gardens filled with flaming debris. Shifting flames blocked exit routes. Abandoning their efforts to check the inferno, firemen tried to channel people across already burned areas, and where there was still water pressure they drenched people so they could pass through the fire. Some inhabitants ducked themselves in firefighting cisterns before moving. . . .

Choking inhabitants crawled across fallen telephone poles and trolley wires. As superheated air burned their lungs and ignited their clothing, some burst into flames, fire sweeping up from the bottoms of trousers or starting in the cloth hoods worn for protection against the sparks. Residents hurried from burning areas with possessions bundled on their backs, unaware that the bundles had ignited. Some women who carried infants this way realized only when they stopped to rest that their babies were on fire.

. . . Thousands submerged themselves in stagnant, foul-smelling canals with their mouths just above the surface, but many died from smoke inhalation, anoxia, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or were submerged by masses of people who tumbled on top of them, or boiled to death when the fire storm heated the water. [p. 134]

That is what it takes to kill 655,000 civilians. Death on that kind of scale is not something that can easily escape notice, yet there have been no such stories coming out of Iraq in the last three years. I'm not trying to minimize the horrible situation in Iraq, but some perspective is definitely in order. And the Lancet's estimate is so insanely exagerrated I can only conclude that the researchers are bald-faced liars.

More: Confederate Yankee wonders, "where are the bodies?"

[cross-posted at A Western Heart; Technorati: ]

Posted by annika, Oct. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & annikapunditry

October 09, 2006

North Korea Options


I chose the above picture as a reminder of what a nuclear bomb can do. That was a young boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, who was incinerated by "Little Boy" at Hiroshima.

I think it's highly irresponsible for various pundits, mostly on the right, but some on the left, to suggest that we must respond to North Korea's saber rattling with a military attack. It's irresponsible because now that Kim Jong-il has a nuclear arsenal (assuming the tests weren't faked) we can certainly expect that he will use it if attacked.

Two things are clear to me: We must use every effort to avoid war with North Korea, while at the same time we must use whatever means necessary to disarm Kim Jong-il. The little boy in the picture is the reason I believe this.

While I think diplomacy is usually a complete boondoggle, there are options that can be and should be employed before we go charging in with guns blazing where a madman controls nuclear weapons.

The North Korean situation is similar to the Iranian one, but not identical. And as you know, I don't support military action in Iran, yet. Regime change without an invasion is the least ugly of all the options in both theaters. It's probably an easier task against the Iranians, but in neither case do I see any concrete signs that the Bush Administration is doing anything to encourage internal opposition movements. As I've said before, I think that's a big mistake.

In regards to North Korea, it seems to me that we have an advantage that is not available to us against Iran. World opinion, and especially regional opinion, seems pretty united against North Korea. I think the reason China and Russia are willing to play along against Kim Jong-il is that the balance of power equation they are employing in Central Asia does not apply to the Korean Peninsula.

In other words, China and Russia have a strong interest in promoting Iran as a rival to U.S. power in the Middle East. It's the latest incarnation of the "Great Game." But the Asian powers have now realized that promoting North Korea as a balance to American Power in the Far East is a fool's game.

The goal of balance of power politics is to maintain regional stability, and a nuclear armed DPRK upsets the status quo not a good thing for China and Russia. They know that if Japan wanted to, they could easily build their own nuclear arsenal, and each warhead would probably fit in the palm of your hand, work perfectly every time, and get great gas mileage to boot.

So if China and Russia can be persuaded to go along with a strong sanctions regime, combined with a "quarantine" of North Korea, I think that would be a great start. They might be willing to do so.

The next few months will be a major test for Condoleezza Rice. I think her tenure as Secretary of State has been pretty lackluster, but I'm much more impressed with John Bolton. If the State Department can get its act together, maybe they can forge an alliance among the regional powers. I'd like to see Australia join in too. I'm hopeful that a united front could successfully change North Korea's behavior.

Normally, I'm not a fan of sanctions. But this might be one of those rare situations where sanctions have some effect, mainly because of the unanimity of world opinion against North Korea. It reminds me of South Africa. Sanctions arguably helped end apartheid, and while that analogy only goes so far, it is interesting to note that South Africa is the only country to have developed nuclear weapons and then given them up voluntarily.

I favor an internal revolution as the best way to solve the Iranian crisis, but I don't see that idea working in North Korea. I have not heard of any opposition groups in that closed society. I think Kim Jong-il's regime is so repressive that they'd make Tian'anmen Square look like a company picnic.

I believe the best way to defuse the situation is to get China to use its influence against Kim Jong-il himself. China is the only party that can apply pressure against the dictator to get him to step down. We'll probably have to live with a nuclear armed North Korea, but if Kim Jong-il can be replaced with a moderate who won't threaten the whole region, everybody will be able to breathe a lot easier.

The North Korean dictator's latest flagrant defiance of the Security Council should offer enough cover for the Chinese to make Kim Jong-il an offer he can't refuse. China can offer Kim asylum, and they have the power to influence the selection of his successor. North Korea can then remain communist, but perhaps reform themselves along the lines of modern China. Sanctions might even eventually be lifted. Getting rid of Kim Jong-il is the key, and as I see it, China is our best hope to accomplish that end.

More: Fans of Kevin Kim know that he teaches something or other in South Korea (English I think). Here's his inimitable commentary on the scuttlebutt over there.

One student surprised me with her take on Kim Jong Il. "I sort of liked him until today," she said, "But now I hate him." I kept a poker face, but my guts were writhing and my testicles kept popping in and out of my body like turtle heads. My asshole started shrieking ultrasonically; little edible dogs screamed in response and then exploded outside our building (NB: I've decided to name any future canine pet "Yummy"). Liked Kim Jong Il?
By the way, Kevin tends to doubt that Kim Jong-il really has nukes yet. Some Koreans aren't above lying about important stuff. Look at how long Sun lied to Jin about knowing English.

Posted by annika, Oct. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Breaking News



President Bush vows to pursue more diplomacy.

In related news, Annika takes two aspirin.


Update: As always, I recommend you check out The Princess.

Back in 1994, we made a deal with their devil to allow them to seek out "enrichment" and nuclear technology--even to assist them in building reactors--so long as they made the Scouts Honor promise to use it for good and not for evil. We agreed to lift the sanctions that the government said was "harming" their population beyond repair, to the point where children and families were starving in the streets. We assumed that they would collapse as a government long before this moment, when a bomb equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT explodes underground. We gave them plenty of money, plenty of resources, engaged in talks with them as though they were a legitimate nation, like Germany or England, and all the while, they understood our motivations and secured themselves agains that. We were the stupid ones; they wouldn't let their regime fail, and they would certainly not allow our money to go to the projects we had designated. Instead, the international community, lifted the sanctions on their end, poured money into a nuclear program, and the results? A nuclear bomb, and a starving people. One step ahead for them, one giant step back, for us.
And Tammy Bruce says what's on my mind:
Many are suggesting this emerging situation reminds people of President Bush's strength, or at least will increase his approval numbers. I suppose this is because his numbers go up when we get a reminder that Radical Islamists are still out there and want to kill us. I'm not so sure that's the case here--what this situation actually reminds me of is the failure of the Bush administration to properly deal with North Korea. Yes, the Norks established their nuclear program under Clinton . . . but President Bush has now had six years to deal with it, and not[h]ing has been accomplished.
Yes, Bush's Korean effort has been a failure but don't start thinking that Kerry's unilateral fetish would have produced a different outcome. I think Madeline Albright proved the ultimate value of that nice piece of paper signed by a tyrant after successful unilateral negotiations.

Posted by annika, Oct. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 03, 2006

Democrats (and some Republicans) Call For Gay Profiling

Any treatment of the Mark Foley story must include certain disclaimers, so let's get those out of the way first.

1. Foley's conduct with the pages was despicable, inexcusable, inappropriate, sickening, and in my opinion may turn out to be worse than has been alleged so far.

2. I'm glad he is gone, good riddance.

3. If Dennis Hastert or other members of the House Republican leadership knew about the masturbatory internet chats (as opposed to the e-mails sent to a different page, which they did know about), then Hastert is no better than Cardinal Mahoney and needs to be booted out.*

Now, the question before us is whether Hastert should be booted out anyway. That's what Democrats and some Republicans are saying.

An excellent summary of the story as of last Sunday can be found at American Thinker.

What do we know so far?

In the Fall of 2005, Speaker Hastert's office was first notified of "overly friendly" emails sent by Foley to a certain page (not the one from the masturbatory chats). Hastert's office was not shown the original emails.

Now, since Hastert is not the "boss" of the House of Representatives (he's barely the boss of the House Republicans) he appropriately handed off the issue to the Clerk of the House.

The House Clerk is kind of a quasi-operations officer for the whole House, and is elected by the whole House.

The Clerk asked to see the "overly friendly" e-mails in question and was told that the parents didn't want to reveal them for privacy reasons. The issue was resolved by the Clerk's office telling Foley to stop all contact with the page.

As far as I know, nobody is claiming that Hastert ever knew of the masturbatory chats before they were disclosed last week. All he knew about was the "overly friendly" e-mails, and he didn't even know what was in them.

Now, we can have a discussion about whether Hastert's office, or the Clerk should have been more vigourous in demanding to see what was in the e-mails. But even if they had seen the e-mails, what should they have done?

Look at the e-mails in question, and ask yourself why they are disturbing. I think they are, but I have the benefit of knowing about the masturbatory chats, which provide a hell of a lot of context.

In the first e-mail, Foley asks, "how old are you now?" In the second, he comments that another page is "in really great shape." In the third, Foley asks the page what he wants for his birthday. In the fourth e-mail, Foley says, "send me a pic of you as well."

In the law of defamation, there is a concept called "defamation per quod," which is used to describe a statement that is not defamatory in and of itself, but can be defamatory if one takes into account facts that are extrinsic to the statment itself.

You might say that Foley's e-mails contain statements that are "pederastic per quod." In other words, the statements themselves are not creepy unless one takes into account a fact that is extrinsic to the statements: the fact that Mark Foley is gay.

Alarm bells could not go off in anyone's mind upon reading those e-mails unless one takes into account the sexual orientation of the author. In other words, Hastert's critics are implicitly saying that Hastert should have made two assumptions about Mark Foley in general and the e-mails in particular (which he didn't even see).

1. That Mark Foley is gay, and

2. All gays want to have sex with young boys.

Assumption number two is patently untrue, and I don't know why gay rights groups are not speaking up in outrage about this. For Hastert to come down on Foley based on the text of those four emails, Hastert would have had to assume the worst about a gay man on pretty flimsy evidence. Is that fair? Or isn't that gay profiling?

Add to that the fact that Foley was not officially out of the closet until this week. There were rumors, certainly, but Foley had always denied them. If Hastert had "outed" Foley on the basis of those four e-mails alone, Hastert would have been pilloried by the same people now calling for his head.

[Cross-posted at The Cotillion]

* As Mahoney should have been, long ago.

Posted by annika, Oct. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 28, 2006

Civilian Contractor Attack Videotaped

Check out this report from tonight's Nightline. It's pretty disturbing. Here's the transcript, in case you can't view the video.

In a nutshell, the video was taken by a Halliburton contractor named Preston Wheeler last September with his digital camera. He was driving truck five in a convoy that got lost near Balad in the Sunni Triangle.

The video shows teenagers throwing rocks at the convoy as the trucks headed down a dead end road. When the convoy had to turn back, the enemy was waiting for them. A bullet hole suddenly appears in Wheeler's windshield. A roadside bomb explodes, a truck driver is killed and his truck overturns. Wheeler's truck is disabled, and his Humvee escort continues driving.

Small arms fire is heard. Wheeler, now alone, is eventually hit by a couple of rounds as he hides under the dashboard. Inexplicably, he is unarmed. He also witnesses another truck driver taken out of his truck and shot dead by the enemy.

The Nightline report also shows predator footage of another Halliburton driver's body being desecrated by the enemy.

After 45 minutes, helicopters arrive and the cowardly insurgents scurry off, no doubt reverting to innocent civilian status.

I don't understand why the civilian drivers were not armed. I don't understand why that village was not carpet bombed immediately afterwards. It's maddening.

Posted by annika, Sep. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (44) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 27, 2006

Happy Birthday Google!


Happy eighth birthday Google! Thanks to you, the internet has made a great leap forward. Congratulations, comrades!

Posted by annika, Sep. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 25, 2006

Award Winning Fauxtography

Fans of photoshopped news photography might want to check out this one, which won a Pullitzer Prize, which I suppose is a lot like Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The photographer (and I assume, the digital manipulator) was none other than terrorist associate and propagandist Bilal Hussein, now in the custody of American forces.

A commenter to The Jawa Report broke this story, so check out Howie's post for more details. The dude "sitting on air" is the clincher.

Posted by annika, Sep. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 23, 2006

October Surprise Comes A Week Early

[Maybe it's like Oktoberfest, which is really in September.]

So now a tiny French newspaper called, get this, l'Est Républicain is reporting that Osama bin Laden is dead.

I knew Karl Rove was good, but damn.

Update: Check Jawa for some really good news.

Posted by annika, Sep. 23, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 22, 2006

Winning The GWOT

Yesterday my post was so pessimistic, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit today — sort of.

Two years ago, President Bush was criticized for saying that we can't win the Global War On Terror:

I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that the — those who use terror as a tool are — less acceptable in parts of the world.
In response to my post from yesterday, my friend Matt wrote:
This isn't the kind of war that either side can "win" in any conventional sense. Our enemies can't destroy us militarily, because we're far too strong. We can't destroy them militarily, because they're too disbursed and decentralized. So we'll be taking potshots at one another for a long time to come. What's the end game? I don't know. How will a permanent state of war affect American politics, our collective psyche and our liberty? I don't know. It's a frustrating and frightening thing.
Great minds may think alike, but I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree with both of these learned men. We can win this war.

Matt, of all people, should know as a boxing fan that a lot of times the winner of a bout is decided by who makes the first mistake. He's right in saying that al Qaeda can't destroy us because "we're far too strong." Therefore, no mistake on our part can end the conflict.*

But if al Qaeda, and the radical Islamist movement it has spawned makes a mistake, we can and will crush them in such a way as to end the war. What is the particular mistake that will cause our enemies to lose? I'm getting to that.

As the situation stands now, al Qaeda et al. have the initiative and the upper hand in the GWOT. As it stands now, we cannot deal them a death blow. That's because in the most basic sense, all warfare is about control of geographic areas.† The great strength of the terrorist is that there is no geographic area which we can push him off of. That's what Matt meant when he wrote that the enemy is "too disbursed and decentralized."

President Bush's big contribution to the theory of warfare is the "Bush Doctrine," which in part addresses the terrorist's strength: their lack of geographical origin. On September 11, 2001, he said that the United States, when hunting down the terrorists, "will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." Nine days later, in his greatest speech, the President restated that doctrine in more detail:

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

The administration's war planners realized very quickly that you can't win a war against an ephemeral enemy unless you can tie them down to a piece of land and then destroy them on that land. That's why we got this oft criticized "you're either with us or against us" part of the Bush Doctrine. The idea was to nullify the terrorists' advantage of not being attached to any state, by attaching them to a state.

It was a brilliant and necessary idea, but unfortunately it has not been entirely successful in practice. Geopolitical considerations have blunted the doctine's effect, as I think the war planners probably anticipated. We've seen the doctrine work beautifully in Libya, but in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for instance, there have been mixed results. We had to make a difficult compromise with those countries because an imperfect alliance with their governments is still of great value to our interests. As a result, we have to accept that, for the time being, there will be some laxity in their efforts to control the extremism within their own borders. We can't fight everyone all at once, and especially not if Pakistan and the Saudis assure us that they are on our side.

The Bush Doctrine alone cannot win this war. So what is the mistake that the Islamists dare not make? What is the mistake that will enable us to win? It is the very thing that the enemy hopes to gain: a pan-Islamic caliphate.

Think back to the 1930's. That was a time when the democratic world looked at the growing threat of fascism and was unable to do anything to stop it. I would argue that appeasement and half-hearted reaction was inevitable then, just as it seems inevitable now. The world simply wasn't in a place where strong and united action was possible. Democracies have many strengths, but swift action is not one of them. In the 1930's there was still a system of alliances that finally mandated a response to Hitler, but the response came almost too late.

The Allies responded to Hitler only after he started taking territory by force. Now fast forward a few years. We responded to the Japanese after they started advancing across the Pacific. We responded to the North Koreans when they invaded the South. Same thing in Vietnam. Same thing when Saddam invaded Kuwait. When territory is invaded by an expansionist enemy, we never seem to have any trouble responding appropriately.

What would happen if Osama bin Laden got what he wanted — the restoration of Islamic territories to a fundamentalist theocracy under Sharia law? My thesis is this: If the Islamic fundamentalist movement were to become attached to a state, and that state were to adopt expansionist ambitions, the Western World would and could oppose them successfully.

We know that one goal of Islamic fundamentalism is to recapture territory lost to the infidel, or lost to secularist governments such as Egypt and Turkey. That is their end game. Their fatal mistake would be to actually start achieving those goals. Once the terrorists start to add nations to their idealized pan-Islamic caliphate, they will become a concrete threat that the world can unite against. Instead of being an ephemeral enemy, unconnected with any state and therefore immune from retaliation, they would suddenly become constrained by the same realities of warfare that have prevailed for centuries — and at which we excel.

The bad news is that my thesis presupposes a long period of very bad setbacks for our side. But I don't see any other way around it. The West has proven that it does not yet have the will to unite against its enemy, and even if it did, fighting insurgents and terrorists is like fighting ghosts. You can bomb a nation into submission, but I think we all know by now, it's pretty hard to bomb suicide bombers into submission. Just ask the Israelis. They've always been able to beat any nation-state with one hand tied behind their back. But they just lost their very first war, against a bunch of terrorists who were disavowed by any government.

The really bad news is that, in my view, the timeline for this caliphate solution to come about is on the order of ten to twenty years. By that time, Iran will have nuclear weapons. I think we all know that it's inevitable. So when Iranian troops spearhead the invasion of Greece, or Spain, or wherever, and the West finally gets up the gumption to oppose them, we will be firing missiles at each other.

I know this post sounds like I've been reading too many Harry Turtledove books, but if you think about it, you'll see I'm right. Countries win wars by finding a way around the enemy's defenses. Islamic terrorists hide within "neutral" states and behind innocent civilians, that is their main defense. But they lose that defense once they attach themselves to a piece of land and call themselves a nation. Therefore the seeds of their own destruction lay inside their own express goals.

I told you this would be a more optimistic post.

* I can hear the nay-sayers now. "But we're already making mistakes that will cost us the war, by being too soft on the enemy, on homeland security, on our borders, etc." I don't disagree that we're being too soft. But what is the probable result of our softness? A major attack? And the result of a major attack will be that our softness is replaced by a hardness in proportion to how bad the attack is. Bottom line is that no terrorist attack, however horrendous, will cause the United States to become part of the pan-Islamic caliphate. That is a danger that exists solely in Europe, due to their lack of moral character, their lax immigration policies, their societal decision not to reproduce, and their sixty year reliance on the United States' security umbrella, which caused them to forget how to defend themselves. But I do not see that fate happening to us. As a people we are too stiff necked and independent. And we love our Constitution too much to replace it with the Koran. (Sure we got some nutty ideas in this country. But when the Swedes are considering a tax on all men to pay for domestic violence treatment — and the idea is taken seriously — all I can say is we have a long way to go in the U.S. before we reach the European level of self-destructive insanity.)

I know von Clausewitz said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," but I'm talking in the micro sense. There's a guy standing on a piece of land that I want to stand on. He's got a gun and I've got a gun. War is how I use my gun to get him to let me stand on that piece of land. He either dies, runs away, or steps aside.

Posted by annika, Sep. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 21, 2006

Another Warning From AQ

Perhaps many of you have seen the Abu Dawood interview transcript that's been making the rounds. If not, here it is.

It's pretty scary stuff. Dawood is supposedly some sort of al Qaeda bigwig, and he says American moslems should leave the country immediately. He also says that al Qaeda has already smuggled "deadly materials" across the Mexican border and that they can attack anytime.

I'm not convinced of this transcript's authenticity. It's supposed to have been done in person, but it reads like a written interview with short questions and long prepared answers.

Assuming arguendo that the transcript is legitimate, a couple of things come to mind. If the "deadly materials" were smuggled across the Mexican border, that suggests to me that a likely target is the West Coast, probably Los Angeles. That scares me a lot because my family lives there. I don't see the terrorists attacking anything except on the coasts. They can blend in easier in populated blue state areas than they can in say, Texas. Transporting the "material" from Tijuana to L.A. is a lot less risky than going from Nuevo Laredo to D.C. And if they want to top 9/11, they'll need to attack a major city that holds some symbolic value.

Secondly, if a big attack occurs, the Democrats won't look quite so dumb for having insisted that Iraq was a distraction and we should have been concentrating on finding Bin Laden. Just being honest here.

Thirdly, I have heard more than once from people I know, that if a major attack occurs, it will be open season on anyone with linen on their head. I think we're in for some serious backlash if there's another attack, as the interviewer acknowledes in the transcript.

I don't know about you, but I've noticed a vague sense of anger and dread rising in this country since about mid summer. I don't see it in my personal day-to-day life, but I do hear it on the radio, on tv and in blogs. I think left and right have been banging away at each other for five years and nobody's winning the debate. We're all sick of arguing and we're just waiting for some event to happen that will prove one side or the other right.

The string of foiled attacks this summer added to the feeling I'm talking about. So did the Lebanon crisis. And the Iran stalemate. And Chavez yesterday. The impending election is also a factor, though I don't think the results will change the national mood, no matter who wins. If there is a big attack on our soil before the year is out, I really think things will get ugly — much uglier than I can even imagine.

Sure, I know that there are lots of dedicated folks out there trying to detect and stop anything bad from happening. And they've been successful so far. But I also worry because it seems like it would be so easy for the terrorists to do something if they really tried. Anytime we catch somebody it seems like we got lucky. But just using my own imagination, I can think of dozens of ways they could carry out an attack without us ever catching them.

So I guess the message is pray, have an emergency kit ready, and don't fly during Ramadan (which starts two days from now).

Update: Peggy Noonan senses the dire mood too.

But the temperature of the world is very high, and maybe we're not stuck in a continuum but barreling down a dark corridor. The problem with heated words now is that it's not the old world anymore. In the old world, incompetent governments dragged cannons through the mud to set up a ragged front. Now every nut and nation wants, has or is trying to develop nukes.

Posted by annika, Sep. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 20, 2006

He Said It

Lord Carey of Clifton just gave a speech at Newbold College in Berkshire. In it, he included an academic quote from political scientist, Samuel Huntington:

Lord Carey, who as Archbishop of Canterbury became a pioneer in Christian-Muslim dialogue, himself quoted a contemporary political scientist, Samuel Huntington, who has said the world is witnessing a “clash of civilisations”.

Arguing that Huntington’s thesis has some “validity”, Lord Carey quoted him as saying: “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”

Lord Carey went on to argue that a “deep-seated Westophobia” has developed in recent years in the Muslim world.

In other words, Nice Religion, Assholes!

h/t American Princess

Posted by annika, Sep. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 19, 2006

Ahmadi-Nejad Makes A Good Point About The Uselessness Of The U.N.

First of all, if anyone knows where I can find a transcript of Ahmadi-Nejad's speech please link me to it.

I've been surfing the cable news channels on TV tonight, and now I know much more than I ever need to know about that baby they found, I haven't seen a single show mention anything about half-pint's speech.

Here's a quote from anti-American, pro-terrorist Associated Press's account of the speech:

"The question needs to be asked: if the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom, who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the U.N. organs can take them into account?," he asked.

"If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council," and take the roles of "prosecutor, judge and executioner," he said. "Is this a just order?"

He pointed to Lebanese suffering during the recent Israel-Hezbollah war as an example.

"We witnessed the Security Council ... was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a cease-fire," he said, referring to the fact that the conflict lasted 34 days despite calls for an immediate truce.

Ahmadi-Nejad was trying to slam the U.S. and Britain, but on the way there he made an excellent point. The structure of the United Nations has proven itself to be unworkable, if the purpose is to solve international crises. The General Assembly has never had any real power, and was never intended to have any. The Security Council has never been able to act decisively because of the veto power (with the exception of the Korean War, which was an unusual situation that proves the rule).

I say scrap the U.N. Scrap the whole thing. We don't need it, and it does more harm than good. The legitimacy it is supposed to afford is only an illusion. Witness the string of unenforced and unenforceable resolutions regarding Sudan, Rwanda, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, etc. It's incapable of producing a consensus on the really important stuff, and then the lack of consensus is used to thwart perfectly legitimate actions.

Maybe we should keep some sort of administrative body for UNICEF* and shit like that, but get rid of the rest of that utopian nonsense once and for all.

* I'm not really sure what UNICEF is, but I think it has something to do with "the children."

Posted by annika, Sep. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 18, 2006

Iranian Supreme Leader Calls For Attacks On The United States — AP Hides It In Paragraph 20

I think it's big news when the Supreme Leader of Iran calls for "attacks" on the United States.

Lest there be any confusion about what he meant by "attacks," here's the quote. Note that the word is distinct from "protests."

Those who benefit from the pope's comments and drive their own arrogant policies should be targeted with attacks and protests.
Yet, here's how the anti-American, pro-terrorist Associated Press announced the news — in paragraphs 19 and 20!
In Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used the comments to call for protests against the United States. He argued that while the pope may have been deceived into making his remarks, the words give the West an "excuse for suppressing Muslims" by depicting them as terrorists.

'Those who benefit from the pope's comments and drive their own arrogant policies should be targeted with attacks and protests,' he said, referring to the United States. [emphasis added]

WTF? Did they not see the word "attack?"

Maybe I'm missing something, but when the real power in Iran (more so than Ahmadi-Nejad), a country actively seeking a nuclear weapon not to mention a well known sponsor of international terrorism, says that the United States should be attacked because of something the Pope said, I think it deserves to be in the headline.

And we need to start taking the Iranian problem seriously.

Update: Curiouser and curiouser.

Ahmadi-Nejad comes to the Pope's defense.

Mr Ahmadinejad said: "We respect the Pope, and all those interested in peace and justice."

He said he accepted the Vatican view that the pontiff’s words had been "taken out of context" and he was "given to understand" that the Pope had later modified them. He said Benedict had been "misinterpreted".

And Mehmet Ai Agca, the Turk who tried to kill the last Pope, warns Benedict against his planned visit to Turkey.
Mehmet Ai Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to murder John Paul II in 1981 and is now in prison in Turkey, urged the Pope not to visit Turkey in November as planned.

"I write as one who knows about these matters very well," Agca said. "Your life is in danger. Don’t come to Turkey — absolutely not!"

The letter, published by La Repubblica, was seen in Rome as a friendly warning, not a threat.

Via the Times of London. While you're there, read William Rees-Mogg's commentary, "Why The Pope Was Right."

Posted by annika, Sep. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Westminster Cathedral

When I lived in London, every Sunday morning I would take the Circle Line four stops to St. James's Park. I loved to walk through that peaceful garden on my way to church. I loved the Duck Island, with all the geese and swans. It's my favorite of London's parks.

Usually I would go through the park to a very pretty Jesuit Cathedral in Mayfair called Immaculate Conception. But when I was running late (which was about half the time), I'd stay on the Buckingham Palace side of the park and visit Westminster Cathedral (not to be confused with the most famous church in Britain, Westminster Abbey).

So it was sad for me to see the scary pictures posted by A Catholic Londoner and taken outside Westminster Cathedral last Sunday.

Imagine having to run a gauntlet of hate-filled masked protesters, some of them quite possibly terrorists if not murderers, just to go to church.

Again, nice religion assholes.

Posted by annika, Sep. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 17, 2006

Nun Killed By Peaceful muslims

From BBC online:

Gunmen have shot dead an elderly Italian nun and her bodyguard in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

The attackers shot the nun three times in the back at a children's hospital in the south of the city, before fleeing the scene.

It is unclear if the shooting is connected with strong criticism by a radical Somali cleric about the Pope's recent comments on Islam.

The nun, who has not been named, is believed to be in her seventies.

The nun was taken into surgery in the Austrian-funded SOS Hospital, in Huriwa district, but she died from her injuries.

A fluent Somali speaker, the nun was one of the longest-serving foreign members of the Catholic Church in Somalia, a former Italian colony.

A Vatican spokesman said the killing was "a horrible act" which he hoped would remain isolated.

Yusuf Mohamed Siad, security chief for the Union of Islamic courts (UIC) which controls Mogadishu, said two people had been arrested.

I guess that whole thing about demanding that the Pope apologize in person was just a bluff. Once you make the list, you're on it for good. And now, it seems, all Catholics are on the list.

Nice religion, assholes.

Posted by annika, Sep. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 16, 2006

A Woman For U.N. Sec Gen

I know I've already endorsed Elton John to succeed Kofi Annan as U.N. Secretary General, but there is a new candidate who has sparked my interest.

Latvian President Dr. Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga announced her intention yesterday to run for the post. Her competition includes South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon; U.N. undersecretary-general for public affairs Shashi Tharoor of India; Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart Sathirathai; Jordan's U.N. Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein; and former U.N. disarmament chief Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka.

Conventional wisdom says that Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's chances are slim, due to Russian opposition and the informal tradition of rotating the U.N.'s top post between regions. Asia is next in line and therefore many believe Ban Ki-moon to be the front runner.

In Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's announcement, she addressed the regional rotation issue:

[T]he member states of the UN should be able to select the best candidate for the post of Secretary General in an open, transparent process. We do not accept the principle of regional rotation as the principal and sole factor in the selection of a candidate. While I deeply respect the candidates that have already been nominated, the selection procedure should not restrict the rights and opportunities of other potential candidates. I hope that the choice made by the Security Council and the General Assembly will be based solely on the candidates’ qualifications, personal qualities and vision of the future of the UN.
I agree, especially given what I learned about Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga's qualifications after only a little bit of research.

She's very popular in Latvia, a country that has done amazingly well since declaring independence from the Soviet empire in 1990. As she told the Danish Foreign Policy Society last month:

The transformation of my own country, Latvia, has taken place at every level. We take pride in having one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Since 2002, Latvia’s GDP growth has averaged at close to 8% (7.7%) per year. In 2005 it reached 10.2%, the highest rate of growth since the restoration of our independence. And during the first quarter of this year, it was registered at a stunning 13.1%, the highest rate in the European Union. Economic forecasts predict that this stable growth will continue in the coming years.
Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga is also proud of Latvia's progress on integration and education of its ethnic minorities.
Latvia has had to work very hard to overcome the tragic legacy of Soviet rule. One of the greatest challenges we have faced is the integration of those persons who settled in our country during the occupation, and their descendants. By the end of July of this year, nearly 114000 persons had naturalized to become citizens of the Republic of Latvia. When we regained our independence in 1991, less than a quarter of those who represent Latvia’s ethnic minorities could speak Latvian. By the year 2000, more than half could, and that percentage continues to rise. We have begun to implement an education reform that balances Latvia’s traditional respect for the rights of minority languages with the need to build a cohesive society. The motto adopted by the EU two years ago is “Unity in Diversity.” Latvia is a multicultural country that adopted one of the first laws guaranteeing education in minority languages close to 100 years ago, in 1919. Our experience with integration can serve as an example at a time when tolerance based in shared values is essential to Europe’s future. Unity and diversity need not necessarily be perceived as contradictory terms.
In regards to international policy, I'm impressed that Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga seems to understand the threat of totalitarian ideologies motivated by racism. In her July speech to a Holocaust scholarship conference in Riga, she alluded to the obvious parallel between the Nazis and today's Islamic fascists:
And this is something that is extremely important for us to study because ideologies that demarcate some human beings under a special label and anybody who belongs to that special label then being marked for extinction, are the very root cause, the very basis of murderous genocides. Elsewhere in the world we see them happening on the basis of tribal belonging, on the basis of religious differences in various parts of the world, in the name of an ideology, in the name of a religion, whatever. It is extremely important for us to understand the principles, by which racism is defined and how is it that not just oppressive regimes and totalitarian governments, but also free movements of volunteers can be seduced into following such ideologies, where the destruction of somebody labelled either as an inferior or as an enemy is part and parcel of one’s being and when the aim is so high to destroy the other that people even come to the point of destroying themselves, where the hatred becomes so deep that they literally are ready to explode themselves in that hatred in the hope of bringing others along.

Those depths of human hatred have not disappeared from the world. They are still everywhere around us. And even when they are not official policies of some totalitarian government, when they become part of seductive ideologies that actually sway young people to join them, we have to be very very concerned and we have to continue working to understand them.

Her philosophy appears somewhat conservative to me, although I am troubled by her belief that the E.U. should adopt a common foreign policy. She favors a more "flexible" approach to labor, which would lower unemployment. And she recognizes that the E.U. is over-legislated and their regulatory scheme needs to be simplified to stimulate business.

Latvian troops are currently in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Kosovo and Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga is considered an ally of the Bush administration. While that's probably enough to doom her candidacy, I can't help wondering what it would be like to have a pro-American Sec Gen for a change (or at least one who is not openly anti-American and anti-semitic).

Dr. Vīķe-Freiberga concluded her speech to the Danish Foreign Policy Society with these words:

Naturally, every nation has its own, national interests. In today’s world, however, relations between nations are not a zero-sum game. It is in every nation’s interest to overcome the mistrust that prevents the effective functioning of multilateral institutions. In today’s world, no nation can stand alone against the challenges of our era. We will only overcome terrorism and other 21st –century threats if we co-operate more closely and reform the structures that make co-operation possible.
I can easily picture a U.N. leader exhorting member states to work together with similar words. But the meaning behind those words changes dramatically depending on whether the speaker is a Kofi Annan type or someone with the type of values I think Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga holds. I'd like to see her win.

Posted by annika, Sep. 16, 2006 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 15, 2006

Welcome To The Next "Cartoon" Riots

I predict we're seeing the beginning of the next round of worldwide riots by the "religion of peace." This time over the Pope's remarks at the University of Regensburg.


In case you had any doubt whether the mainstream media would act to pour fuel on the fire or remain objective, here's how Reuters (via CNN) misquoted the Holy Father:

In his speech at the University of Regensburg on Tuesday, Benedict quoted criticism of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who wrote that everything Mohammad brought was evil and inhuman, "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
Note the subtle and unnecessary use of paraphrasing. What Benedict actually said was this:
The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'
Reuters continues,
The head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mahdi Akef, whose organization is one of the oldest, largest and most influential in the Arab world, said the pope 'aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world and strengthened the argument of those who say that the West is hostile to everything Islamic.' [emphasis mine]
Hold it! Stop right there! As Peter Pumpkin would say, whut the fuk??

The Muslim Brotherhood is "one of the oldest, largest and most influential" organizations in the Arab World? Is it older than say.... the Catholic Church!? I don't get Reuters' point. Never mind the blatant editorialization of the statement (Reuters didn't even try to mask it by turning it into a quote by some supposed expert), am I supposed to give greater weight to Mr. Akef's objections because he's the "leader" of a religious organization that's been around a long time? If so, then I gotta go with the Pope, because they've been around a bit longer.

But that's neither here nor there. Because the organization in question, the Muslim Brotherhood, is in fact an evil organization. And I noticed also that Reuters/CNN neglected to mention that important point.

Catholic author Gary Dale Cearley:

The Muslim Brotherhood? Isn’t that the group whose last part of their motto says ‘death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations’? Aren’t they the ones who assassinated Anwar Al-Sadat, the leader of Egypt and made several attempts on the life of Ghamal Al-Nasser? Wasn’t Ayman Al-Zawahiri a long-time member of this group before joining Islamic Jihad and uniting it with Al-Qaeda? Isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood outlawed in its ‘normal’ form in several Arab countries today? Isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood one of the largest supporters and benefactors of Hamas? Isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal to unite the entire world as one nation under Islam? Why should we be alarmed that the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Mohamed Mahdi Akef, said the Pope ‘aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world and strengthened the argument of those who say that the West is hostile to everything Islamic’? The Pope was simply quoting a man, Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who was one of the last Byzantine rulers who was very often being attacked by the Muslim Ottomans. Manuel II had seen what Islam was doing to his nation.
Here are some more perfectly ironic statements:

Indonesian protest organizer Heri Budianto:

Of course as we know the meaning of jihad can only be understood by Muslims . . . Only Muslims can understand what jihad is. It is impossible that jihad can be linked with violence, we Muslims have no violent character."
That is priceless!

From Iraq's Sheik Salah al-Ubaidi:

In Iraq's Shiite Muslim-stronghold of Kufa, Sheik Salah al-Ubaidi criticized the pope during Friday prayers, saying his remarks were a second assault on Islam.

'Last year and in the same month the Danish cartoon assaulted Islam,' he said, referring to a Danish newspaper's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which triggered outrage in the Muslim world.

And we all know what happened then.

In Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council said:

One would expect a religious leader such as the pope to act and speak with responsibility and repudiate the Byzantine emperor's views in the interests of truth and harmonious relations between the followers of Islam and Catholicism.
Riiiight. Like Muslim leaders have been so very quick to repudiate the views of their most vocal representatives, Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri, Hassan Nasrallah, et al.


The Pope's invitation to visit Turkey (the home of Mehmet Ali Ağca, lest we forget) is now in jeopardy.

In Turkey, . . . Ali Bardakoglu, the head of Ankara's Directorate General for Religious Affairs, . . . describ[ed] the pope's words as 'extremely regrettable.'

'I do not see any use in somebody visiting the Islamic world who thinks in this way about the holy prophet of Islam. He should first rid himself of feelings of hate,' NTV's Web site quoted Bardakoglu as saying.

Look who's talking about hate.
Bardakoglu . . . recalled atrocities committed by Roman Catholic Crusaders during the Middle Ages in the name of their faith against Orthodox Christians and Jews as well as Muslims.
Atrocities? Again, the muslims show how long their memory is. But it's a selective memory, as author Cearly points out:
I believe that Benedict touched a nerve with these people and that nerve has direct historical roots the Muslims are refusing to consider. Where does the Muslim responsibility to rid themselves of these feelings and reign themselves in begin and end? Constantly falling back on harkening to the Crusades is for their audience, which is an audience that forgets, or refuses to remember, that the Arabs forced scores of people from many nations and religions in conquered territories to convert over the centuries. In many countries these periods of forced conversion were the most bloody chapters of their history. And even more important, these Muslim leaders ignore the fact that at varying times the Muslims took their own ‘Crusades’ to Europe, pushing their way to Austria and to the Pyrenees mountains at different points in history. These pushes into Europe both pre-date the Crusades to the Holy Land by several centuries and they continued after the Crusades to the Holy Land, again for several centuries. Standing eye to eye and toe to toe, Islam has more to answer for in the West than the West has to answer for to Islam but you will never hear this from a Muslim ‘spokesperson’.
I am not one of those who thinks that publishing of the Mohammed Cartoons was "regrettable," "unfortunate," or whatever other weasely word you want to use. What Jyllands-Posten did probably needed doing, and it certainly clued a lot of formerly clueless people in to what radical Islam is all about.

That said, I do think Pope Benedict might have been better off leaving that one particular quote from Manuel II out of his speech. But what's done is done. The bell can't be unrung. What's next is for us to see once more how tolerant the "religion of peace" is towards any type of criticism. Especially in this case, when the Pope's speech was not meant as criticism.

Update: Here's another laughably ironic comment from a muslim writing in London's al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. First he says that "there is no difference between" the Holy Father, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Regarding the Pope's speech, he goes on to say:

These are ignorant comments previously made by Adolf Hitler, who spoke of a supreme white race against all the other races, especially the African race.
(Ummm, and the Jews? Interesting that he didn't say the Jews.)

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of the unsurprising violence now beginning in the muslim world. These idiots are lashing out at anything and everything non-muslim. They're confusing Anglican and Greek Orthodox churches with Catholic ones, and they're calling the anti-war Pope a part of the Zionist American conspiracy.

Posted by annika, Sep. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 13, 2006

Essay Exam

One of the purposes of this blog, as I have said before, is to learn from my readers. I have a theory in mind, and I'm wondering if I'm on the right track. Please help me by taking this short answer essay test. One sentence answers are best.

  1. Why did the Confederacy bomb Fort Sumter?
  2. Why did Germany invade the Soviet Union?
  3. Why did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor?
  4. Why did Muslim terrorists bomb the World Trade Center in 1993?
  5. Why did Muslim terrorists bomb the World Trade Center in 2001?
  6. Generally speaking, is there a common motivator among all these acts?

Please mail your answers here.

Update: Thanks for all the great responses. Now I think my theory is not so good. And probably question number one doesn't really belong there since, as many of you pointed out, Ft. Sumter was bombed in response to Federal resupply of the island, and was not a surprise attack.

I had been thinking that all of the above actions were pre-emptive strikes by inferior forces against a superior power. And the common theme would be that each of the attackers had a particular vision of society, and in each case the attackee uniquely stood in the way of the attacker's vision.

However, the Germans and the Japanese planned to shorten a war of conquest by their surprise attacks, while the same cannot really be said of the WTC bombers. The terrorists are not capable of fighting any war of conquest, and I don't really believe they expected the response they got after 2001.

Posted by annika, Sep. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 12, 2006

Syria, Hezbollah, North Korea Violate UN Security Council Resolution... World Yawns

From Reuters:

A ship bound for Syria from North Korea and detained in Cyprus on an Interpol alert for suspected arms smuggling was carrying air defense systems, Cypriot authorities said on Monday.

The shipment was billed as weather-observation equipment on the freight manifest of the Panamanian-flagged Grigorio 1 and officials said the Syrian government had asked Cyprus to release the seized consignment.

"To my knowledge their name doesn't appear anywhere on the manifest as the consignee, but they have got involved," a senior shipping industry source in Nicosia told Reuters.

He said the vessel had been tracked over a long period of time.

The ship was carrying 18 truck-mounted mobile radar systems and three command vehicles. "The radars on the 18 trucks appear to be part of an air defense system," a police spokeswoman said.

And to think people mocked the president when he included North Korea in the Axis of Evil.

10 bucks says the "international community" does squat about this violation.

h/t LGF

Posted by annika, Sep. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 11, 2006

The 9/11 Coverage Replays

This morning, I tried to find CNN's replay of their 9/11 coverage, but it wasn't on tv. I did find NBC's replay, which was broadcast on MSNBC. What I saw bothered me a lot, and I waited all day to post something about it.

Now that I'm home, I was able to view the CNN coverage from that day, thanks to Hot Air. I was able to compare CNN's excellent coverage to NBC's, or I should say, contrast. I've often been critical of CNN, but all I can say is I do miss Aaron Brown.

Kiki Couric and Tom Brokaw were incredibly bad by any standard, and I can't understand why. Somewhere, somehow, the two of them got the idea that good journalism means completely divorcing yourself from all human feeling. Or, perhaps, that the "citizens of the world" ideal that today's elite media have fetishized required them to abandon any sense of horror in order not to offend those viewers who might have been happy about the deaths of thousands.

Or perhaps the two of them thought that by remaining scrupulously objective, they might win some sort of award or peer recognition for their level-headedness. Instead, Couric and Brokaw came off as more wooden than Mr. Spock. Or Al Gore. I don't know what made them think that emotionlessness was required on that day, of all days. The most memorable newscasts during tragic events have always included the broadcaster's personal reactions — and yes emotions — while simultaneously reporting the news. Think Walter Cronkite and JFK, Frank Reynolds and Reagan, or to go way back, Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg.

Amazingly, as I watched the South Tower collapse, Kiki and Tom said nothing. It was as if they didn't see it. But how could that be? It was their job to see it. Then, as Manhattan disappeared behind a thick wall of smoke they continued to act as if nothing had happened. I waited and waited, but they made no mention of the incredible scene unfolding before their very eyes. In fact, it wasn't until eight long minutes later that another correspondent said the first thing about the tower collapsing!

Which brings up an interesting point. Michael Moore made a career out of criticizing Bush's "seven long minutes." But here were two experienced and celebrated journalists, who's job it was to report what was happening, and they completely failed to mention the biggest thing either of them had ever witnessed or would ever witness in their entire careers. Eight long minutes they sat there repeating banalities while lower Manhattan was entirely engulfed in smoke and neither of them said a word about it.

Here's a clip of when the other correspondent stated the obvious for the very first time, "When you look at it the building has collapsed. That building just came down." Listen to what Kiki says at the very end. Instead of reacting to this horrific and unimaginable event, she immediately cuts the reporter off and goes to "Bob Bazell who's at St. Vincent's Hospital..." Infreakincredible.

Which is why Aaron Brown's coverage stands out. When the South Tower began to fall, he interrupted another remote immediately. He then described what we all watched, as it happened, with words like "extraordinarily frightening," which is exactly what it was.

It's a disgrace that Aaron Brown is now teaching at ASU, while Kiki Couric is making $15 million a year.

Posted by annika, Sep. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

No Posting Today

In honor of the fallen.


Go here and read some of the tributes.

Posted by annika, Sep. 11, 2006 | link
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 10, 2006

Today's Homily

The churches around here suck. Here's a direct quote from today's homily:

What if, instead of bombing Afghanistan, we had dropped food, medicine and ecucation?
What an idiot.

Did that priest ever stop to think that dropping food and medicine is exactly what we tried to do in Somalia? And Somalia is one of the reasons cited by Osama Bin Ladin himself for attacking us?

The problem is not the needy people in the world. It's the guys with guns that want to kill us. That priest, if he really wants to do some good, should head on over to Afghanistan himself and try to convert the Taliban. He'd either save some lives, or more likely, he'd get an education real quick.

If you want to pray for peace, try asking God to grant victory to the brave men and women fighting terrorism overseas and at home.

Posted by annika, Sep. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

The Path To 9/11 Clips You're Not Supposed To See

Go and see them now, before the anti-free speech crazies find out and crash the site.

Update: Betsy Newmark explains why it matters.

Think for a moment about the concerted action by Democrats, their lawyers, former White House operatives, Bill Clinton, sympathetic historians, and lefty bloggers to stop this show. Remember that this was the same crowd that was full of praise of for Fahrenheit 9/11 for crystallizing their opposition to George Bush. Accuracy and versimilitude didn't bother them then. And they weren't saying a word about 60 Minutes "fake but accurate" story on Bush's National Guard service. Now, ask yourself. If this crowd were to control the White House, how many more of these attempts to stifle any criticism of them would we be seeing? Think of how much has been aired during Bush's tenure, even a movie depicting him being assassinated and more denials of civil liberties gets made without Bush's White House unleashing its lawyers. But, for this thing, the Democrats go to the mattresses. Are they perhaps modeling for us what their response would be to further criticism if they should gain control of the White House - or even of Congress? Don't forget those not-so-veiled threats to ABC's license. Ponder that chill wind.
Exactly. These are the anti-free speech crazies I'm talking about.

h/t Michelle Malkin

Posted by annika, Sep. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: On The Blogosphere & annikapunditry

September 09, 2006

9/11 Film Controversy

I don't get this stupid controversy about The Path to 9/11. Democrats are thrashing about like a T-1000 in a vat of molten steel. What's the problem?

Is the movie defamatory? If it is then file a lawsuit. They might have a little trouble with the malice requirement, but that's one remedy.

It seems to me that the only objections Democrats have raised are that it's allegedly misleading, innacurate, and fictional. The truth is, they don't like the way it portrays Clinton. So fucking what. Since when have ex-presidents been immune from criticism? If they don't like it, why don't they do their own movie about how bad Bush is?

Oh that's right, they already did. It won the Palme d'Or.

And another thing. Isn't it government censorship when a bunch of Senators and Congressmen threaten ABC's license if they don't pull a tv show because of its political content? Isn't that prior restraint?

The DNC blog has a picture of a stack of 120,000 petitions they've printed. What they don't mention is that they're unsigned, but the picture is supposed to be impressive. I'm impressed that they think there are enough lemmings out there who care about a movie they haven't even seen yet.

And Daily Kos is now calling ABC, "GOP-TV." That is the funniest thing of all. Makes you wonder if they've ever watched ABC News. Would that it were true, it might take some of the heat off of Fox News.

A Kos writer also made the logically insupportable assertion the she "despise[d] censorship" and was in favor of "the free expression of even the most foul and erroneous ideas" except in cases when the speaker (in this case ABC) cannot be expected to "present a factual rebuttal" of its own speech.

By the same logic, Farenheit 9/11, a film that has made hundreds of millions of dollars to date, should never have been released unless Michael Moore also did a follow up film rebutting the lies in his original movie.

Jefferson and Madison would certainly have raised an eyebrow at that one.

Update: Kevin Kim have best comment.

I first read and thnk Bill Clinnton stuipd because is drama like "JFK" by Oliber Rock. "Is ONLY DRAMA BILL AND RELAX! Moreovering, you SUCK Monnica Lunski DIK is INCONTROVERTIBALLY FACT! YOU ONLY YOU!" I shoutted at moni tor.
Clik here to see.

Posted by annika, Sep. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 07, 2006

Kiki Is Still Crappy

I took time out from watching Miami vs. Pittsburgh to catch Kiki Couric doing the nightly news. I missed her the last two nights. Tonight, I made it to exactly eight minutes before switching back to the game in anger. I had no idea how bad the CBS Nightly News had gotten. It's been years since I watched any evening news show. The first two segments of Kiki's broadcast tonight were almost total fiction. It was laughable, except for the fact that many thousands of people were watching who had no idea they were being lied to.

I don't blame Kiki so much. She's more of a master of ceremonies for this contemporary version of the Liars Club. Besides her poor posture and crooked mouth (which I never noticed before), she did a serviceable job. I find her manner more pleasant than Dan Rather's, but that ass surely didn't set the bar too high for his successor.

Kiki's show started with Jim Axelrod asserting quite unequivocally that the latest tape from Bin Laden contradicts the President's message in his recent War On Terror speeches. Anyone with a brain can see that just the opposite is true. In fact, the al Qaeda video features terrorists that are now in U.S. custody, whose interrogation led to the arrests of further terrorists. Bin Laden's video not only disproves beyond any doubt the stupid "inside job" conspiracy theories, but it shows how we've made a big dent in al Qaeda's leadership.

The second segment promised to show how support for the Iraq War has fallen among conservatives of the Bible Belt. They then showed only three people, two of whom said that they support the war! [Actually, the third guy supports the war too! See update, infra.] Now, I'm not trying to claim that support for the war has not fallen. It obviously has, but this joke of a news segment proved nothing of the sort. The one guy who said he was going to vote for Democrats was cut off just as he was about to state the reason why. No doubt his reasons had more to do with immigration and runaway spending, but CBS didn't want their audience to know that.

In the next segment, both Kiki and the reporter blatantly repeated the lie that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. I guess they believe that old totalitarian principle about repeating the big lie often enough. Then followed an interview with Armitage, which nearly made me keel over with disinterest. This story is so irrelevant, why doesn't CBS just move on dot org?

That was when I turned it off, and to my dismay learned that I had missed a touchdown.

Update: The guy who said he was voting democratic in the second segment I mentioned above was retired Colonel Jim Van Riper, USMC. The unedited interview is here. I was wrong about his reasons for planning to vote Democratic. But CBS, very sneakily, omitted from their televised soundbites any of Colonel Van Riper's very strong pro-Iraq War statements. His objection is not that we're in Iraq, he just wants to win and he doesn't think the administration is getting the job done.

While I think it's misguided to think a Democratic Congress will do anything but weaken America, I can totally understand Col. Van Riper's frustration. We all want to win. Does anybody really think that Bush's poll numbers would be where they are now if we had already succeeded in Iraq? For most Americans — and this is the dirty little secret CBS and the elite media don't want you to know — the issue is victory, not whether the war was legal or right or wrong or unilateral or any of the other Michael Moore objections. If we had won already, nobody would be complaining. Wanting to win is patriotic, as is frustration that we might not be winning.

Posted by annika, Sep. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Future Headline

"Dems Celebrate End of Bush Security Measures"

Have you seen the America Weakly campaign ads?

If not, start here, with a satirical look at what a Democratic Congress will do to national security. Or maybe not so satirical.

A Democratic Congress will be bad, no question about it. They have no plan except opposition to Bush, and a desire to embarrass Republicans. Since they don't hold the executive branch, these goals will have to be furthered by de-funding, and endless investigations.

I think 9/11 might have been an unintended result of Ken Starr's crusade to nail the President on a "process crime." If so, what new tragedy might occur while President Bush is occupied by the latest round of political vendettas, investigations and impeachment proceedings?

Posted by annika, Sep. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 01, 2006

67th Anniversary Of Case White

Today is the 67th anniversary of the beginning of World War Two in Europe. As you should remember, it began with the German invasion of Poland, which the Wehrmacht codenamed "Case White." (DANEgerus also reminds us that the Red Army invaded from the east sixteen days later.)

I think it's especially appropriate to pause today and think about that fateful moment in 1939, which led to the death of so many millions.

Many folks have noted that our situation now is not unlike the time before that first panzer crossed the Polish frontier. I'm one of them. I see the failure of our international institutions and the blindness of so many prominent figures and I think of the League of Nations, Chamberlain, Lindbergh, and Coughlin.

There is no cosmic law that says we can't re-ignite the horrors of World War Two for a new generation. The United States lost 293,000 brave men to the conflict, but almost zero civilians. We had it lucky. We were the saving heroes from across the water in that war. We won't be so lucky next time.

The bill from the last world war was staggering. Twenty-five million Soviet citizens, fourteen million Chinese, seven million Germans, six million Poles, two million Japanese, and on and on.


If you were a European Jew, a Philipino, a Chinese or Russian peasant, even a lowly German or Soviet conscript, your life was a hell in the 1940's. All because a handful of world leaders could not, or would not, stop the juggernaut of fascism.

The atrocities were so numerous, we've given them names: Bataan, Auschwitz, Malmedy, Nanking, Dachau, Katyn Forest, Lidice, Treblinka, the Burma Railway, and on and on.

We must also remember the unimaginably horrible deaths from new techniques of killing developed for the war by our side, and used at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Tokyo, and on and on.

There are those who say we are on the precipice of World War Three right now. Others say it started five years ago. I am not going to argue with either viewpoint. Nor will I end this post with a pollyannish "don't worry, our leaders have things under control."

Because even if we were blessed with the greatest of statesman, which we're not, I don't know that it will be possible to avoid another trial of war brought upon us by evil men.

Some people insist our current enemies are not dangerous, or if they are, they're not evil. I'm at a point now where I don't think that argument matters a whole lot. Our enemies have their own agenda, and they will settle the issue in their own time. And we will have to fight them whether we're ready or not.

I looked up at the sky last night and saw a fiery meteor burn across the horizon. It was scary, though I knew it was no bigger than a coin. It made me think about how wise we think we are, yet how much there is we don't know. I wonder if there are intelligent beings who have been watching us these past hundred years. How they must laugh at our folly.

Posted by annika, Sep. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & annikapunditry

August 31, 2006

Guardsman Beat Up By Crazy Liberals

Near Tacoma, Washington...

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is searching for five people who allegedly attacked a uniformed National Guardsmen walking along 138th Street in Parkland Tuesday afternoon.

The soldier was walking to a convenience store when a sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside him and the driver asked if he was in the military and if he had been in any action.

The driver then got out of the vehicle, displayed a gun and shouted insults at the victim. Four other suspects exited the vehicle and knocked the soldier down, punching and kicking him.

“And during the assault the suspects called him a baby killer. At that point they got into the car and drove off and left him on the side of the road,” Detective Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

The suspects were driving a black Chevy Suburban-type SUV.

“This is something new for us, we have not had military people assaulted because they were in the military or somebody's opposition to a war or whatever,” Troyer said.

The driver is described as a white male, 25-30 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall, heavy build, short blond hair, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, and armed with a handgun.

The vehicle's passengers are described as white males, 20-25 years old. Some of the suspects wore red baseball hats and red sweatshirts during the attack.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charging of the individuals involved. Informants can call 253-591-5959, and callers will remain anonymous.

That is just sick. Every time some terrorist cell gets busted we hear no end of public service announcements intended to prevent "hate crimes" against muslims. They must be very effective, since I haven't heard of a single such "hate crime" since 9/11. Maybe we should be doing the same thing to protect our military in certain sections of the country.

h/t Beth at She Who Will Be Obeyed

Posted by annika, Aug. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 30, 2006

Ahmadi-Nejad Kisses German Butt

Unless you're reading Darleen's Place or Dr. Sanity and a select few other sources of important information, you probably haven't heard about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad's recent letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That's okay, I understand that there are far more critical events taking place in the world.

Let me break it down for you.

Ahmadi-Nejad tried to kiss up to the German Chancellor with an appeal to her religious convictions (Chancellor Merkel, unlike 49% of her countrymen and women, believes in God); flattery over Germany's achievements in the arts and sciences; and by patronizing her as a woman with a woman's unique gifts.

The purpose of the letter? To enlist Germany as an ally against the evil U.S.-Zionist worldwide conspiracy. You don't have to read between the lines to realize that Ahmadi-Nejad's impression of the German zeitgeist was probably formed by a close reading of Mein Kampf. He still thinks they're Nazis at heart, and therefore potential friends of Islamofascism.

If you take the middle third of the rambling missive (containing the most anti-semitic passages) and replace the universally accepted euphemism "zionist" with the word he really meant, "jew," it looks like the letter could have been written by Adolf himself.

Sixty years have passed since the end of the war. But, regrettably the entire world and some nations in particular are still facing its consequences. Even now the conduct of some bullying powers and power-seeking and aggressive groups is the conduct of victors with the vanquished.

The extortion and blackmail continue, and people are not allowed to think about or even question the source of this extortion, otherwise they face imprisonment. When will this situation end? Sixty years, one hundred years or one thousand years, when? I am sorry to remind you that today the perpetual claimants against the great people of Germany are the bullying powers and the [jew]s that founded the Al-Qods Occupying Regime [i.e. Israel] with the force of bayonets in the Middle East.

The Honorable Chancellor

I have no intention of arguing about the Holocaust. But, does it not stand to reason that some victorious countries of World War II intended to create an alibi on the basis of which they could continue keeping the defeated nations of World War II indebted to them. Their purpose has been to weaken their morale and their inspiration in order to obstruct their progress and power. In addition to the people of Germany, the peoples of the Middle East have also borne the brunt of the Holocaust. By raising the necessity of settling the survivors of the Holocaust in the land of Palestine, they have created a permanent threat in the Middle East in order to rob the people of the region of the opportunities to achieve progress. The collective conscience of the world is indignant over the daily atrocities by the [jew] occupiers, destruction of homes and farms, killing of children, assassinations and bombardments.

Excellency, you have seen that the [jew] government does not even tolerate a government elected by the Palestinian people, and over and over again has demonstrated that it recognizes no limit in attacking the neighboring countries.

The question is why did the victors of the war, especially England that had apparently such a strong sense of responsibility toward the survivors of the Holocaust not allow them to settle in their territory. Why did they force them to migrate to other people's land by launching a wave of anti-Semitism? Using the excuse for the settlement of the survivors of the Holocaust, they encouraged the Jews worldwide to migrate and today a large part of the inhabitants of the occupied territories are non-European Jews. If tyranny and killing is condemned in one part of the world, can we acquiesce and go along with tyranny, killing, occupation and assassinations in another part of the world simply in order to redress the past wrongs?


We need to ask ourselves that for what purposes the millions of dollars that the [jew]s receive from the treasury of some Western countries are spent for. Are they used for the promotion of peace and the well-being of the people? Or are they used for waging war against Palestinians and the neighboring countries. Are the nuclear arsenals of Israel intended to be used in defense of the survivors of the Holocaust or as a permanent thereat against nations of the region and as an instrument of coercion, and possibly to defend the interests of certain circles of power in the Western countries.

Regrettably, the influence of the [jew]s in the economy, media and some centers of political power has endangered interests of the European nations and has robbed them of many opportunities. The main alibi for this approach is the extortion they exact from the Holocaust.

One can imagine what standing some European countries could have had and what global role they could have played, if it had not been for this sixty-year old imposition.

I believe we both share the view that the flourishing of nations and their role are directly related to freedom and sense of pride.

Fortunately, with all the pressures and limitations, the great nation of Germany has been able to take great strides toward advancement and has become a major economic powerhouse in Europe that also seeks to play a more effective role in international interactions. But just imagine where Germany would be today in terms of its eminence among the freedom-loving nations, Muslims of the world and peoples of Europe, if such a situation did not exist and the governments in power in Germany had said no to the extortions by the [jew]s and had not supported the greatest enemy of mankind.

"The greatest enemy of mankind." That is just scary.

The man is so clueless about the progress of history, that he actually believes he can win Germany to his side by appealing to a wounded national pride that he imagines the Germans still feel. Germany has changed since 1945, not always for the better. But if it retains any nationalistic tendencies, it's people like Ahmadi-Nejad who need to worry. No, if Germany ends up aligning itself with Iran, it will be the pacifists and appeasers who'll be responsible for that decision.

I recommend reading the entire letter. Ahmadi-Nejad tries so hard to sound worldly and intellectual, but he just comes off as a poseur trying too hard to make friends. He and Hugo Chavez could form their own Axis of Smarmy.

Posted by annika, Aug. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 29, 2006

Katherine Harris

I don't really know much about the Florida Senate race, beyond the widely reported comments of Katherine Harris. And you all know how I feel about the so-called "separation" of church and state. But I just got done listening to Medved's interview with Harris on the radio, and even Medved, a sympathetic questioner, couldn't prevent her from coming off as a complete idiot.

Well hell, she's an embarassment, but why should the Democrats have a monopoly on bubbleheads in Congress?

Posted by annika, Aug. 29, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 24, 2006

Iran's War Against Women

I just read Photon Courier's excellent post about the murder of Atefeh Sahaleh by the Iranian government. I call it a murder because I learned in my first year criminal law course that the term is defined as "the unjustified killing of a human being by another." What was Atefeh Sahaleh's crime? Having sex.

Oh, she was 16 years old.

[Still think the Iranians are basically nice guys who can be reasoned with?]

So, that led me to Amnesty International's excessively neutral post about the execution. You've heard of Amnesty International. They're the organization that's always criticizing the United States because we still have capital punishment.

So then I decided to compare stats. Without looking, can you guess which country killed more women last year?

If you guessed Iran, you'd be correct. In 2005, only one woman was executed in the United States.

[Her name was Frances Newton, and she was executed by lethal injection on September 14, 2005, by the State of Texas. When she was 24 years old, she shot her husband Adrian, her 7 year old son Alton, and her 21 month old daughter Farrah with a .25 caliber pistol to collect life insurance money. Frances Newton was 40 by the time she was finally executed for the crimes.]

Then I went over to a site called Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism In Iran. It's worth bookmarking if you're curious at all about the type of society our enemy would like to impose upon us.

Just looking at the left sidebar, which contains links to various news stories, is pretty enlightening. Here's a selection of headlines:

Amnesty International: Young woman, Delara Darabi, 19, facing imminent execution

A Kurdish woman sentenced to stoning

More crackdown on women

Women-only buses another government run, gender-apartheid program

Iran’s police stop 10-year-old girl for “mal-veiling”

Women ejected by force from Iran stadium

300,000 homeless women in Iran capital

Iran police prevent women from watching football match

Iran's Islamist rulers want sex segregation on pavements

Iran to hang another teenage girl attacked by rapists

Iran to execute two other women

An Iranian woman in the town of Varamin is sentenced to death by stoning

Iran sentences a woman to death by hanging

Another woman is sentenced to death by stoning in Iran

Female workers are ordered to get home by dusk to serve their families

Senior Iran cleric: Prostitutes must be hanged

Iran to execute two other women

Iran to hang 19-year old mother

Sixty Iranian women activists made a public appeal on Thursday for the release of a Kurdish feminist campaigner

Fundamentalists recruit Women for Martyrdom Seeker Movement in Iran.

Post-election, A New Wave of Crackdown on Women.

Thousands join women’s anti-government demonstration in Tehran.

Crackdown on Women.

Defeating misogyny in Iran .

Save the Women, Save Ourselves.

UN women's rights official raps Iran over abuses.

Four Iranian Women were executed in 2004 by public hanging or stoning. There are 14 women to be hanged or stoned to death in coming days, weeks or months.

A woman is facing stoning in next five days

A 19 year old mentally ill girl is facing imminent execution in Iran

Another woman facing stoning in Iran

13 year old, Jila, facing death by stoning flogged 55 times

Iranian Student protest forced veiling

Imminent execution of a 33-year-old Iranian women, Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh...

Iran moves to roll back rights won by women...

Violence, poverty and abuse led girl, 16, to gallows...

Amnesty International outraged at the reported execution of a 16 year old girl in Iran...

'Painful' day as mother's death recalled. Zahra Kazemi's son still seeks answers. He has no faith in upcoming Iranian trial.

Iran's government has launched a crackdown on women who flout the strict Islamic dress codes during the hot summer months.

One of the links contains a story that is enough to make you want to cry. Here it is:
An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Instead of telling us how attractive he thinks Ahmadi-Nejad is, perhaps Mike Wallace should have spent an hour letting the world know about the above, completely barbaric death sentence against an innocent child.

You know, fuck Mike Wallace, fuck Ahmadi-Nejad, and fuck the fucking mullahs. These people are so completely evil, I can't even finish what I was going to write.

Update: Thanks to Beth of MVRWC, I've been alerted to this update regarding the Nazanin case.

On 3 January, 18-year-old Nazanin was sentenced to death for murder by a criminal court, after she reportedly admitted stabbing to death one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj in March 2005. She was 17 at the time. (See Iran: Amnesty International calls for end to death penalty for child offenders, MDE 13/005/2006, 16 January 2006). At the end of May the Supreme Court rejected the death sentence against Nazanin, reportedly on the instructions of the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. The case will reportedly be retried in August and sent to a lower court for further investigation.
One more thing. The Wikipedia article on Nazanin points out that Iran's death penalty can be applied to males as young as fifteen, and females as young as nine!

The Iranian government really is waging a war against women!

Posted by annika, Aug. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Iran Already Has The Bomb

Is the big surprise, which the Iranians are planning within the next few days, an announcement that they already have the bomb?

Read this chilling interview with former Danish agent Regnar Rasmussen in Front Page Mag. He says the Iranians already got three warheads from Kazakhstan back in the nineties.

In autumn 1991 Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Khazakhstan, sold three nuclear warheads to the Iranians. The Iranians wanted to use them as a prototype for their own bomb manufacturing. The price was said to have been 7.5 billion USD. Whether this amount is true or just the fantasies of a less paid government official, I cannot verify. The amount was to cover all bribes and kick-offs and military protection during transport. Every country involved had demanded their fair share of the deal.

Anyway, the warheads were removed from a military depot somewhere in Kazakhstan and transported by train down to Makhachkala in Daghestan. Here they were reloaded onto huge trucks and then taken through the Caucasian region and into Turkey. In the city of Dogubeyazit the Iranians met the convoy and took over. The three vehicles were then driven by Iranian drivers down to the border post Bazargan, where they entered Iranian territory.

The warheads were brought down to Teheran and parked in the military campus Lavizan. Here they were seen by a soldier who later defected to Israel and told the story to the Israeli intelligence services who at that time were unable to verify the matter further. Various rumours have been circulating ever since. Some stories say two bombs, some say four. The correct number, however, is three.

He also speculated whether Pakistan's recent nuclear test was actually a proxy for the Iranians. I think Rasmussen's story is plausible, and he's not the only guy who's been whispering it.

The Wall Street Journal again reminds us that a nuclear Iran would be a bad thing.

“A nuclear-armed Iran would likely embolden the leadership in Tehran to advance its aggressive ambitions in and outside of the region, both directly and through the terrorists it supports—ambitions that gravely threaten the stability and the security of U.S. friends and allies,” says the House Intelligence report. With a nuclear arsenal that they felt protected them from retaliation, the mullahs would also be more likely to use conventional military force in the Middle East. The domino effect as Turkey, Egypt and the Saudis sought their own nuclear deterrent would also not be “stabilizing,” to cite the highest value of our Middle Eastern “realists.” And don’t forget President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s vow that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”
As if any thinking person needs such a reminder. Yet, incredibly, some people are still in denial. And it's funny that those are often the same people who think we need to get out of Iraq immediately. As I've said before, one often overlooked result of a nuclear Iran will be that the United States will be forced to stay in Iraq indefinitely -- and to deploy intermediate range nuclear missiles there for the purpose of deterrence. I promise you, I'm not wrong about this.

h/t Regime Change Iran & Protein Wisdom

Posted by annika, Aug. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 22, 2006

A Lengthy And Perhaps Unnecessary Post Of Dubious Mathematical Merit To Illustrate Something You Probably Already Know

Guys like Chuck Hagel and David Gergen seem to think that talking to the Iranians will prevent them from joining the nuclear club. It's a crazy idea, and I don't understand why so many notable people have put their faith in this silly course of action.

Iran is presented with a finite number of choices and outcomes, which can be easily and logically analyzed. At the end of any honest analysis, you can see that it is simply not in the mullahs' interest to negotiate away their nuclear arms program. Therefore it's logical to assume that they won't, not only because they have repeatedly said they won't, but also because the best possible course of action from Iran's point of view (regardless of whether they are rational or irrational actors) is to continue their program until they get the bomb.

It's like simple math.

Assume three possible outcomes available to Iran from the current state of negotiations.

Outcome ON: Iran gets a nuclear weapon.1

Outcome OI: Iran gets a package of incentives from the West.

Outcome OS: International sanctions imposed on Iran, most likely a combination of economic and diplomatic restrictions.

Assume that the Iranians desire outcomes ON and OI, and wish to avoid outcome OS.

Although it's not essential to my analysis, you may also assume that the West2 wishes to prevent outcome ON, but also that the values of outcomes OI and OS are variable and uncertain, due to dissention within the West.

Now at first glance, one can see two alternative courses of action for Iran that are obvious.

Course of action CA1: Iran refuses to abandon its nuclear enrichment program, rejects all efforts at compromise, and continues working until they get the bomb.

Course of action CA2: Iran abandons its nuclear program in exchange for the package of incentives offered by the West.

If Iran takes course of action CA1, they give up outcome OI. On the other hand, if Iran takes course of action CA2, they give up outcome ON. Therefore the Iranians must decide between the following values (remembering that OS is a negative value):
CA1 = ON - (OI + OS)
or alternatively,
CA2 = (OI + OS) - ON
Those equations demonstrate that the West needs to make the value of their carrot+stick package equal to or greater than the value of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Thus, if (OI + OS) > ON, then CA2 > CA1. If true, Iran should then choose CA2. Even if the values were exactly equal, Iran would probably choose CA2, simply for the sake of peace and goodwill.

However, we live in the real world and we all know that the value of a nuclear weapon to the country that possesses it far outweighs the value of any combination of incentives or sanctions the West could possibly offer. Especially if said country has already expressed its desire to wipe a hated enemy off the map, and has recently sent weapons, including rockets, missiles and drones to a proxy army fighting said hated enemy as recently as this month.

Given the above, one would assume that Iran would pursue course of action CA1, but as we have seen, they continue to pay lip service to the negotiation track, CA2. Are they really pursuing course of action CA2? Not if CA1 > CA2! What then, are they doing?

Perhaps there is a CA3, a third course of action that would tempt Iran with the opportunity to gain outcomes ON and OI at the same time without incurring any sanctions.

CA3 = (CA1 + CA2) = (ON + OI) - OS
Remember OS is a negative value, so the above equation simplifies to:
CA3 = (ON + OI + OS)
A hefty sum indeed! Perhaps Iran believes it can have it all by simply agreeing to a compromise, while secretly pursuing the holy grail of enrichment a la North Korea.

But CA3 contains one flaw: verification. Certainly the West, weak as its negotiating position is, will never agree to deliver incentives without a gauranteed inspection regime. Although the inspections might be watered down, we already know about the Esfahan, Natanz, and Arak facilities, so it would be difficult for the Iranians to refuse access to those sites. Some experts estimate the number of centrifuges necessary at Natanz for a decent enrichment program to be 50,000. That kind of operation would be hard to disguise or relocate.

That's why I think Iran is following another course of action, CA4:

CA4 = (ON x TNT) - (OI - OS)
When multiplied by a factor of sufficient time (T), gained by negotiating tactics (NT), Iran can ultimately win the big prize: a nuclear bomb. Although they give up the Western incentive package, that loss is offset by the fact that they don't suffer any real sanctions (thus, OI - OS). That's because once Iran gets the bomb, sanctions become problematic. Everybody is going to have to kiss their ass then, and the probable severity of any sanctions the fickle West might be able to agree upon (which were weak under the best of circumstances) would shrink in proportion to Iran's newfound leverage.

Course of action CA4 translates into what we've been watching unfold during the past several months. Iran negotiates in bad faith, makes empty promises, renegs, delays, obfuscates, then makes more empty promises, all the while maintaining their research and enrichment activity.

It's possible that a compromise settlement might be reached in the near future, but I seriously doubt it. Iran has repeatedly and unambiguously asserted its intention never to give up its enrichment program (a fact that seems to be lost on many negotiation-fixated politicians and pundits). I take the Iranians at their word, because it's not in their interest to give up the bomb. They've already done the math.

1.    Or, more accurately, Iran successfully gains the ability to domestically produce fissile material for manufacturing nuclear weapons. One can assume that creating delivery systems such as missiles and warheads are less of a problem for the Iranians. These can be purchased, or reverse-engineered by Iranian technicians. But weapons grade plutonium and/or uranium from their own factories are what they need to become a nuclear power, and this is the outcome we need to prevent.

2.    i.e. the U.S. and certain allies, to varying degrees.

Posted by annika, Aug. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Iran's Counter-Offer?

ABC News says Iran has delivered their response to the "package of Western incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment." Apparently, nobody knows what's in the Iranian proposal yet.

How much you wanna bet it's a "demand for Jizya," or a tax on non-muslims. Just a hunch, but we've already had the "call to Islam," so it's time for step two in Ahmadi-Nejad and the Mullah's 3 step plan for jihad.

Update: When you read stories about today's Iranian proposal (indeed, when you read any story about the current standoff), especially by the Associated Press, I want you to notice one conspicuous omission. The AP is always careful to balance the U.S.'s accusation that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon with a "fair and balanced" disclaimer like this:

Iran says it wants to master the technology to generate nuclear power.
Or this, from Reuters:
Iran says it will not abandon what it calls its right to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power stations.
Yet, you'll never see the mainstream press include a sentence reminding its readers that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has repeatedly threatened to "wipe Israel off the map."

One might think that little bit of information would add some important perspective to the story.

Posted by annika, Aug. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 20, 2006

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha

From the New York Times:

A senior Bush administration official said Thursday that he anticipated that the United Nations would move rapidly in September to impose sanctions on Iran if it refused to halt uranium enrichment . . .
Ha ha ha ha ha.
"I think we would want to move very quickly in the first part of September toward a debate in the Security Council about sanctions," he said. "They will be well deserved as this has gone on a long time."
Ha ha ha ha ha.
The resolution passed by the Security Council on July 31 demands that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing work by the end of August or face the possibility of sanctions. It noted the need for “further decisions,” however, before any punishments for noncompliance could be pursued.
Ha ha ha ha ha.
“The will of a lot of countries has been strengthened by watching the Iranian government trying to destabilize both Lebanon and Israel over the last 30 to 40 days,” he said.
Ha ha ha ha ha.
The Iranian government denies that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is peaceful, for research and energy development.
That is no laughing matter.

Posted by annika, Aug. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 19, 2006

My Solution To The Fifth Column Problem

The civilized world is in trouble. At a time when our reputation for getting things done around the globe is in doubt, radical Islam's reputation is gaining steam. Israel just lost its first war, at the hands of a bunch of cowards who hid behind women and children. Only a week after we stopped a major terrorist attack that might have killed over three thousand innocent people, a judge in this very country declared one of the methods used to save those lives is unconstitutional. North Korea probably has a nuclear bomb. Iran will probably get one soon (If they can't make it, what's to stop them from getting one from Kim Jong-il?). The best we can do to stop these madmen is to threaten sanctions that will never be imposed and wouldn't work even if they were.

Anything we do to stop western civilization from spiralling down the abyss is criticized and opposed tooth and nail by a fifth column in our own country. Movie stars who deny that al Qaeda did 9-11; people who call Bush the world's #1 terrorist (forget that, people call me a terrorist!); newspapers that refuse to publicize any wartime successes, while rushing to weaken our ability to defend against our enemies; a Supreme Court that bends over backwards for feces throwing barbarians who would kill untold Americans if only they were set free.

We all know what the problem is. It's Bush hatred syndrome. John Kerry says we should have one-on-one talks with North Korea simply because Bush is persuing multilateral talks. Then he criticizes the administration's foreign policy for excessive unilateralism. Bush is villified for removing Saddam Hussein, which is merely the successful culmination of a policy directive signed by President Clinton. The United States, long criticized for supporting evil dictators, is now told by enlightened leftists that the Iraqi people were better off under Saddam (whom we created anyway?!).

There is one solution I can think of, which could neutralize the anti-Americanism of today's leftist fifth column. We need to neutralize them now because the time to fight for civilization's very existence may be coming sooner than we think. And when the real fight comes, it won't be pretty. This country needs to be free to act without destructive second guessing by those who have a political axe to grind, or who outright sympathize with the enemy. A proper solution is one that will silence anti-American critics, and get everybody working on the same side.

The solution I have devised would allow George W. Bush to maintain the same foreign policy course as he has for the last six years. The only thing he would need to do to silence all his critics is to announce that he is gay. A tearful press conference with his longtime "companion" on his right and Laura on his left should do it. From that point on, anything he does will be golden, in the eyes of the left. Andrew Sullivan might even turn Republican again.

What about the so-called evangelicals, you say? First of all, Bush isn't running in '08, so he doesn't need their vote. And if they're smart, they'll understand the unseen political wink, and not be too upset about it. You know the political wink I'm talking about. It's the same one Democrats give to their own base whenever they talk about "reaching out" to "religious people."

Let's all join in a new political battle cry: "George W. Bush, come out of the closet before it's too late!"

Posted by annika, Aug. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 17, 2006

Freaks On A Plane

What's worse than snakes on a plane? Crazy "peace activists" on a plane!

Posted by annika, Aug. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 16, 2006

Example Of Pro-Terrorist Media Bias #95,788

[part of a continuing series]

I know it's like beating a dead dog over and over again, but I feel like if I don't blog about these things when I see them, people might forget.

Check this article from AP, with the headline: "Iran leader praises Hezbollah resistance."

You will note that nowhere in the article does the word "resistance" appear, which leads one to believe that the editors who wrote the headline chose that word because they think it properly describes what Hezbollah is up to.

I'm not asking for an unbiased media, I just want them to admit that they are on the side of the enemy.

Posted by annika, Aug. 16, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 15, 2006

Somewhere LBJ Is Groaning, Or Laughing, Or Something...

You all remember the story about LBJ, after he saw Walter Cronkite declare the Vietnam War "unwinnable." He switched off the tv and said, famously:

If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America.
Well, I wonder what an appropriate George W. Bush quote might be, after reading Michael Yon, or Rich Lowry?

Is this a sign that some kind of critical mass has been reached?

Well, at least he's still got Annika.

Update: I think it's important to note that neither Michael, nor Rich have given up on Iraq. I am concerned, though, that Michael Yon has not been able to return to the war zone as he has requested. When Rich Lowry starts to get worried, it's even more important that we have the benefit of Yon's reportage, with his uniquely objective voice. Otherwise the real story will continue to be held captive by a biased or disinterested mainstream media.

Posted by annika, Aug. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 10, 2006

Theory #1

[part of a continuing series]

The prime impetus for modern American liberalism is the opposition to any restrictions on abortion. The prime impetus for European liberalism is anti-semitism.

Posted by annika, Aug. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Terror Plot Foiled

What is it with these terrorists and the 11th?

I was on a lot of planes during my vacation, and I didn't see a single muslim. Not that that means anything, but I remember noticing it at the time. Usually there's one or two waiting at the gate whenever I fly and I go through the usual mental gyration. You know the one, like this: "oh there's some muslims... I wonder if I should get on the plane... oh no then I'd look like a total racist... I guess they look okay... gee I hope they're not terrorists." Then you get on the plane, nothing happens and you realize you were nervous about nothing. But of course, then something like today's arrests happen.

People are saying this was supposed to be bigger than 9-11. If the plan was to blow up a dozen planes over the ocean, it would have been big. On a scale with 9-11, but it wouldn't have been worse than 9-11. Which makes me think that maybe they were planning to wait until the planes were over the U.S., and detonate the explosives over populated areas. Just a theory.

Or maybe not. Thinking about the whole "fourth generation warfare" thing, it's probably not in the terrorists' interest to "top" 9-11's horror. Ten or twenty planes blowing up over the ocean is evil enough to demonstrate that the terrorists are still there, and that they can still pull shit. It would have been terrible for the victims and their families. People would have been shocked and there would have been political repercussions for sure. But I still don't think it would have been big enough to change certain attitudes which need changing before we can really take care of the problem.

Attitudes like this one:

Do I sound as if I don't believe this alert? Why, yes, that would be correct. I just don't believe it. Read the article. They say the plot had an "Al Qaeda footprint." Ooh, are you scared yet? What that really means is that they found NO evidence whatsoever that the plot had anything to do at all with Al Qaeda, but the plot simply made them think "gosh, this is something Al Qaeda would do." That's what a footprint means. Nice, but no cigar.

Were these guys totally innocent? Probably not. But there's no reason to believe they were any more Osama's right-hand than Jose Padilla, the famed dirty-bomber who I think is now only being charged with jay-walking or something...

That was from a "brilliant" left wing blogger, quoted at Townhall.com, who apparently thinks that "red alert" is only appropriate if there's an al Qaeda plot. I suppose deadly plots by anyone else do not deserve a "red alert," This idiot thinks its a Republican plot to distract from Lieberman's loss. Yes, Lieberman the Democrat. In other words, if Lieberman the Democrat had not lost two days ago, then the Homeland Security Department would not have taken any steps to tighten airline security after the discovery of a plot to blow up airplanes.

You know what, after three plus years of blogging I've learned that I can't argue against such an idiotic theory. People who believe that shit will never be silent, but people will stop listening to them someday.

Posted by annika, Aug. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 09, 2006

Fourth Generation Warfare

There's an excellent article in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle regarding a subject I tried to write about here. The subject is "fourth generation warfare."

The question I asked, and which the Chronicle article addresses, is this: How does a state fight against a non-state in a new era of warfare in which non-states seem to have the advantage?

Look at Hezbollah. It used to be that the side with the most casualties was the loser. It used to be that the side who was forced to give up ground to an opponent was the loser. But as we've seen in the Israeli-Hezbollah war, the world has entered a new era of warfare in which every casualty suffered on the side of the non-state combatant becomes a weapon to be used against the state combatant.

In this new type of warfare, it behooves Hezbollah (and those particular Iraqi insurgents whose goal it is to end the U.S. "occupation") to maximize casualties on their own side of the fence. What we have is a war of attrition in which one side sacrifices its own citizens in order to obtain a strategic goal by non-military means, i.e. by propaganda.

Chronicle staff writer Matthew Stannard provides a more detailed description of "fourth generation warfare:"

A use of all available networks -- political, economic, social and military -- to convince enemy political leaders that their strategic goals are either unachievable or too costly to achieve.

A lack of clearly defined conditions, including beginning and end, victory or defeat, peace or war, civilian and combatant. Modern wars of this type tend to last for years as conflict surges and ebbs and moves between political, military and other battlegrounds.

Antagonists are organized more as sprawling, "leaderless" networks than as tight-knit hierarchies.

At least one side is something other than a military force organized and operating under the control of a national government -- a force that appears widely dispersed and largely undefined, lacking bases, centers of power and other traditional points of assault. These groups tend to seek to use their opponents' size, power and legitimacy against them.

An emphasis on high technology that allows small organizations to asymmetrically attack larger ones -- for example, availability of weapons of mass destruction, tools of electronic warfare or easy access to global media for purposes of propaganda.

Fascinating stuff. I'm reminded of the revolution in warfare brought about by the invention of the "minie" ball around the time of the American Civil War. Military tacticians did not catch up with that sea change until the end of the First World War. And by then there was a whole third dimension to battle that needed to be understood: air power.

What we've seen with "fourth dimensional warfare" is a completely new way for weak opponents to attack and beat strong opponents. I would say this is one of the lessons of Vietnam, and like the "minie" ball revolution, military planners are slow to recognize that the rug has been pulled out from under them. It is especially important that we get a handle on this problem now, because the Cold War is over and we are going to be fighting Hezbollahs and al Qaedas for the forseeable future.

What concerns me is that, in the battle of civilizations called the "War On Terror," the thing that makes us civilized is the thing that makes us weak -- our compassion. When your enemy is uncivilized, and has no concept of compassion, it's hard to win if you're swayed by world opinion.

My thesis is that we cannot win under these new rules. Only a return to the more brutal methods of World War II can beat these non-state actors and their principals (Iran, Syria). But we can't resort to those older methods unless we abandon our aversion to civilian casualties. And I don't see that happening absent a horrific über-9-11 as a catalyst.

Which is why I ended my last post on the subject with that cryptic and ominous final sentence.

h/t Belmont Club

Posted by annika, Aug. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 07, 2006

Recommended Reading

Blu sent me the following. It's a commentary by Israeli journalist Ben Caspit for the newspaper Ma'ariv, written in the voice of Ehud Olmert. So far as I can tell, it is not an actual speech by Olmert, just something Caspit wishes Olmert had the guts to say.

I thought it was so good, I'm reprinting it in its entirety.

Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world. I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel.

We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana, we will continue to bomb Kfar Kana. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere. The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time you understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb our citizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.

Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish race off the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe the State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.

And you - just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction - those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade their responsibility.

Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.

Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us.

The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.

What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak's peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children. I don't remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close-ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya? What can you do - that's the way we are. We don't wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly.

We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy's children - we express genuine sorrow and regret. That is the monstrous behavior of our enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more.

And Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. What did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don't recall you reacting with such alarm. And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem - and from there to Paris and London.

An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake - we won't go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.

So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don't recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans - and the world remains silent. And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya. And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population - then you also kept silent. What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don't?

In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle. I pray and I believe that now you will understand that. Because if you don't, you may regret it later, when it's too late.

Posted by annika, Aug. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


In the aftermath of the Reuters photo meltdown, wherein photographs taken by a freelancer were doctored for political effect, it might be a good time to note that the most compelling independent evidence of the alleged Haditha atrocities are .... photographs taken by a freelancer.

Posted by annika, Aug. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 06, 2006

Now We Know Why They Doctored The Photo

You may have been following the Reuters doctored photo controversy. If not, Beth has a great rundown.

Of course, my sources here at annika's journal came through for me again. Now we know why Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj felt the need to doctor the original photograph. Open the extended entry to view the original.

Sometimes smoke can form random patterns that are recognizable.


Lots of people have asked why this photographer would risk his career by crudely photoshopping the smoke in this particular picture. It makes sense now don't it?

Update: Now I'm all confused. What if this is the original photo?!

Posted by annika, Aug. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 05, 2006

Violence Begets Violence, The Macro View

Wikipedia has a list of ongoing wars:

Basque Terrorism in Spain; Colombian Civil War; Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines; Somalian Civil War; Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka; Shining Path Insurgency in Peru; Papua New Guinea Civil War in Indonesia; Turkish-Kurdish conflict; LRA rebellion in Uganda; Casamance Conflict in Senegal; Somali Civil War; Myanmar Civil War; India-Pakistan Kashmir conflict; Georgian Civil War; Algerian Civil War; Ethnic conflict in Nagaland, India; Zapatista Rebellion in Mexico; Nepalese Civil War; Second Congo War; Ituri Conflict; Second Chechen War; al-Aqsa Intifada in Israel and the Palestinian Territories; Laotian-Hmong Civil War; Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan; Côte d'Ivoire Civil War; South Thailand insurgency; Iraqi Insurgency; Balochistan conflict in Pakistan; Waziristan War between Pakistan and al Qaeda; Darfur conflict; Chadian-Sudanese conflict; Western Sahara Independence Intifada; and the Israel-Lebanon crisis.

I made some changes to Wikipedia's list, which was overinclusive. Obviously, the wars that are most relevant to us are the Iraqi Insurgency, the Taliban Insurgency, the so-called Waziristan War, and the Israel-Lebanon crisis. But the main thing one gets from looking at the 33 conflicts listed is that the majority of them involve nation states fighting against irregular armies or guerrillas.

In armed conflict between nations and guerillas, the advantages of a nation state are easy to name. They are usually better equipped and better trained. They have professional leadership. They can form alliances with other nation states to obtain resources such as weapons and intelligence, if not actual military assistance. Their status as a recognized state confers a measure of legitimacy to their actions that guerillas do not have, at least initially.

The weakness of guerrilla forces are similarly obvious. In comparison to national armed forces, guerrillas are usually outnumbered. Their access to advanced weaponry is limited or non-existent. They usually lack formal training and professional leadership. They must operate in secret, which hampers their ability to communicate among themselves and their allies, and to obtain and store weapons and supplies.

However, guerrilla forces have distinct advantages over national armed forces. They usually do not wear uniforms, and when not in actual combat can remain in close proximity to their opponent, safely disguised as civilians. Guerrillas are by definition committed to their goal, and thus have the luxury of time. They do not have to answer to indifferent political forces back home, which can be a great advantage in a war of attrition. As Mao once said: The enemy advances, we retreat. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy tires, we attack. The enemy retreats, we pursue.

And now, the latest Israeli-Lebanon conflict has thrown the weakness of nation states vis-a-vis guerrilla forces into sharp relief. Hezbollah's strategy has been to exploit the political weakness of Israel and its ally the United States. That weakness has been an unwillingness to suffer the opprobrium of world opinion, and that weakness has to date proved decisive.

The war in Lebanon is not over, but it looks like a cease fire is inevitable. If it comes to pass, no one should have any doubts about the permanency of the cease fire. It will not be permanent. How can it be when one side remains committed to the complete destruction of its opponent and the other side is committed to its own survival?

I have always said that there are two sure-fire solutions to the decades long Middle East Conflict. The first would be for all the various Palestinian groups to lay down their arms and adopt non-violent protest as their philosophy. That's a subject for another entire post, but I truly believe that a Gandhi style rebellion in the Palestinian territories would result in a fully independent Palestinian state within probably five years, maybe less. It will never happen because the Palestinian terrorist leadership doesn't really care about independence; they only care about killing Jews.

The second sure-fire solution recognizes the fact that the Palestinian leadership wants the conflict to continue because that enables them to keep killing Jews, which is their reason for existence. The second solution is to allow both sides to fight each other until one side wins. That means no cease fire, no brokered agreement, no cessation of hostilities, no UN peacekeeping force. Fight until one side surrenders.

We all know that if Israel were allowed to engage in Clausewitzian total war against its enemies, Israel would win. The Palestinian terrorists know this too. That's why Hezbollah and Hamas try to walk a fine line. They goad Israel into attacking, then cry foul when Israel responds. A cease fire is imposed and the terrorists bide their time until the next intifada. The enemy advances, we retreat. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy tires, we attack. The enemy retreats, we pursue.

The trouble with the total war solution is its ugliness. Since World War II, the civilized world has not had the stomach for civilian casualties on a large scale. Every civilian death is now "regrettable," which is a new phenomenon in the history of the world.

Civilians have always died in war. Before the modern era, civilians were targeted directly. The ancients knew that pillaging was part of war. Victors from Genghis Khan to Napoleon put whole villages to the sword, simply for the crime of having been on the other side of a line on a map.

Did people protest these atrocities? Sure. Its not that people didn't think this type of warfare was unfair to the innocent. They did, but people had different expectations than we do nowadays. If Napoleon burned your town and his troops raped your wife and killed your kids, you didn't complain to Napoleon. You complained to your king, and then he went over there and kicked Napoleon's ass.

It was all about tribalism in the old days. You belonged to a tribe, and the other guy belonged to his tribe. If the other guy did something bad to your tribe, you expected and demanded that your tribe would retaliate by doing something bad to his tribe. That was understood as justice.*

In more recent times, our rationale for killing civilians moderated a bit, even if the number of dead civilians seemed to go up. During World War II, while the Japanese, Germans and Russians were committing acts of barbarism against civilians on the ground, we held ourselves to a different standard. We killed civilians too, but we did it from afar. And we killed a lot of them. Almost a million German civilians died from strategic bombing, and a similar number of Japanese with them. That was total war, and along with all those corpses it produced a clear victor, and a lasting peace.

I started out by remarking how many of the conflicts going on in the world are between guerilla movements and nation states. I'm trying to understand why, in an age when B-2 bombers from Missouri can attack an unseen enemy 7000 miles away in Afghanistan, yet we're not able to defeat a bunch of punks armed with homemade bombs in Baghdad. One fine morning in 1967, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the entire combined air forces of three sovereign nations. Yet here we are in 2006, about to watch a band of criminals shooting glorified bottle rockets claim victory over the vaunted IDF.

I'm sure there's lots of guys working in thinktanks and war colleges whose job it is to figure these things out, but so far I haven't seen nor heard of any effective way to fight guerrillas other than by total unrestricted warfare — which we won't do. How do you counter the weighty advantage they've claimed for themselves by co-opting the machinery of world public opinion? How do you beat an enemy that has perfected the use of civilian deaths both offensively and defensively, if your one achilles heel is the fear of civilian deaths?

America has fought against guerrilla forces in the past. We did it successfully during the Plains Indians Wars and the Philippine Insurrection. We were unsuccessful during Vietnam, although the ugliness of our methods was similar in all three wars. And that's the point. We can't fight and win against a guerrilla enemy unless we do so in a brutal manner. And even then, the outcome is not certain.

To win, the enemy needs to know that violence begets violence. They need to know that if they mess with our tribe, we will mess with theirs and we won't be deterred if things get ugly and innocent civilians die. But the reality is something completely different, because in fact we are deterred by civilian casualties. In fact, we are fighting two wars and a nominal war on terror with the express handicap that we will do everything to avoid harming civilians as much as possible.

That's the situation, and that's why we're still in Iraq. The administration's policy is not to become more brutal, which could win victory but would turn the world against us. (Even more than they already have, that is.) Instead the administration's ultimate goal is to prepare an Iraqi security force to fight the guerrilla war. In truth, our plan is to pass the buck to the Iraqis. It's the only solution, if one recognizes the fact that the world is not in a place where it will accept brutality by a nation state in a small-scale war like Iraq.

I suppose that is understandable. I'm not arguing here for total war, indiscriminate killing of civilians, collective punishment, or the adoption of brutality in Iraq. I'm merely trying to point out the reality of our dilemma. We can't do what needs to be done, so we won't do it. The enemy knows this and is smart enough to recognize it as our greatest weakness. They will keep fighting us, and using our weakness against us. We advance, they retreat. We camp, they harass. We tire, they attack. We retreat, they pursue. Follow this line of thought to its logical conclusion and you'll realize something even scarier.

We may end up with total war, whether we like it or not.

* Nowadays the "world" has a different, some would say more enlightened, definition of justice. Today's justice revolves around preventing the innocent from getting killed. That's fine and dandy, except we don't apply that ideal evenly across the board. There's plenty of dead innocent people around the world who might have argued that our new definition of "justice" didn't do them a whole lot of good.

Posted by annika, Aug. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

August 04, 2006

Two Men Arrested In AZ

Great news! It looks like they've arrested two suspects in the Arizona Serial Shooter case. Supposedly the shooter and his driver. That means the Baseline Killer is still out there. I hope they get him soon.

Posted by annika, Aug. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

July 14, 2006

Mideast Peace Process

One part of me thinks that there's a real opportunity for peace in the middle east if the international community would only do one thing: Nothing.

The reason I've been hearing the phrase "Mid-East Peace Process" all my life is mainly because there has been a Mid-East Peace Process. If the world would just let both sides go at it, winner take all, I think we might see an end to this decades long circle-jerk.

After victory comes peace. So I want to advise Israel: don't bow to international pressure. No cease fires. No negotiations. No more bullshit. Roll up Hezbollah like Stonewall at Chancellorsville. Crush Hamas like Sherman on his way to the sea.

But another part of me senses danger.

The two Palestinian terrorist organizations want to see Israel destroyed. There's no chance in hell that they could accomplish that militarily, so they're trying to provoke this confrontation into a full on Arab Israeli war. Iran wants to see this happen too. They want Israel to attack Syria, so that Iran can jump in. Then, they hope Israel strikes Iran's nuclear research plants, which would be real bad.

For the last few months I've been casually researching whether Israel could successfully attack Iran's nuclear sites. I am now convinced that they have the technical capability to pull it off. They have the right planes, and Iran's air defenses would be no match for the Israeli Air Force. They also have an aerial refueling capability and they recently acquired the BLU-113, which is the most bad-ass of all the bunker buster warheads.

On the downside, Israel really has no good route to Iran. Any way they go would cause political problems that I don't like. The route that makes the most sense would be straight through Iraq, but that would completely fuck up what we're trying to accomplish there by inflaming the Shia. If the Israelis went south through Saudi Arabia, there would be refueling issues, and they could not avoid pissing off the Saudis. Going north might piss off the Turks. I don't like any of those choices, which is why I've always believed that we should be the ones to knock out the Iranian facilities, if it has to be done.

And if we get involved in this thing, well... I don't like to think about it. You all remember where the plains of Armageddon are, don't you? I'm serious, this is scary.

Today Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah went Scarface on the Israelis: "You want a wahh, you got a wahh." One might wonder how he intends to actually win it. Without an army or air force, he's either an idiot, or he knows something I don't. Maybe he's rolling the dice, or maybe he knows big brother Ahmadi-Nejad is his ace in the hole.

With Korea and India and now the Middle East burning up, I think this is the most dangerous global situation to exist in my lifetime. And of course I picked this time to go travelling. And to Denmark no less!

Posted by annika, Jul. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

July 12, 2006

Meanwhile, Enrichment Continues

It's so frustrating watching this slow dance between Iran and the G-6. You just want to sceam at them: "cut to the chase!" However, as I said before, the delaying game benefits us as well as Iran - but only if we use the time well. And to date I have seen no sign that we are doing anything other than playing patsy to a tin-pot third world dictatorship. Damn it, Bush and Condi. Wake the fuck up!

From AP:

World powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran back to the United Nations Security Council for possible punishment, saying the clerical regime has given no sign it means to negotiate seriously over its disputed nuclear program.

The United States and other permanent members of the powerful U.N. body said Iran has had long enough to say whether it will meet the world's terms to open bargaining that would give Tehran economic and energy incentives in exchange for giving up suspicious activities.

"The Iranians have given no indication at all that they are ready to engage seriously on the substance of our proposals," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.

. . .

Any real punishment or coercion at the Security Council is a long way off, but the group said it will seek an initial resolution requiring Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment. Debate could begin as soon as next week.

If Iran does not comply, the group said it would then seek harsher action. The group's short statement did not give any specifics, but it cited a section of the world body's charter that could open the door to economic or other sanctions.

. . .

The group said it could stop the Security Council actions at any time should Iran cooperate.

Make sure you say please, guys. Maybe that will help.

There's always the possibility that the administration is following my advice about supporting Iranian dissidents, and that we just don't hear about it because things are happening behind the scenes. However, by this time in Reagan's second term, the Solidarnosc movement in Poland was in full swing and everybody knew it. I see nothing similar happening in Iran, although I keep hearing that the country is ripe for it.

Posted by annika, Jul. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

July 11, 2006

Breaking News



MUMBAI (AJN) - A coordinated series of seven exposions ripped through several commuter trains in Mumbai, India yesterday, killing at least 160 people and injuring more than 400. And now the repercussions of this latest apparent terror attack have begun to affect the once revered Mainstream Media.

One day after the attacks, which appear to bear the signature of Islamic terrorists, many observers are asking why the Mainstream Media did not act to prevent these deaths beforehand.

"It is horrible," said one man who asked not to be identified. "I ask myself why? Why did not the New York Times do something about this? Why did they not stop these bad men? Do they not care about the lives of innocent Indians?"

News analyst and terror expert Annika, of the blog Annika's Journal, told AJN that questions are being raised about the Mainstream Media's failure to detect and prevent the Mumbai terror plot.

"A lot of people are scratching their heads today," said Annika. "They wonder how the MSM could have fucked this one up so badly. They have more than adequate resources to detect a plot like this [the Mumbai bombings]. They're always patting themselves on the back about their investigative reporting, yet they couldn't stop these terrorists. And now hundreds of people are dead."

The Mainstream Media has recently come under attack from far right conservative groups for releasing information about secretive American anti-terrorism programs, which some say are designed to uncover information about future terrorist plans.

"When the New York Times spends all it's time investigating the programs that are meant to stop terrorists from killing, you got to ask why they can't spare just a little effort trying to investigate the terrorists," said Annika. "It couldn't hurt, and it might just save lives."

Media representatives responded to Annika's criticisms, on condition of anonymity. "It's not our job to be law enforcement," said one television news executive. "That's the government's job, to stop terrorists. We're just there to report news, not make it."

Yet Annika and other media watchers argue that the Mainstream Press has unique capabilities that the government does not possess, which could be used to unearth terror plots before they occur.

"For instance, covert government investigations can always be revealed by members of the press, often destroying months of hard work," said Annika. "But if the same investigation were conducted by reporters, who's going to rat on them? We all know reporters would rather rot in jail than give up one inch of their precious First Amendment rights."

A former New York Times reporter recently served 85 days in jail rather than reveal the identity of one of her journalistic sources.

"The New York Times, The Washington Post... These guys are so proud of how they brought down Nixon, and he didn't even kill anybody," Annika continued. "The L.A. Times didn't have any problem finding every chick Arnold groped back in the seventies. How come they can't find Osama? Bill Keller seems to think he's got better judgment on national security issues than the freakin' Department of Homeland Security. Let him put that superior judgment to use... fighting terrorists instead of helping them."

Bill Keller is the executive editor of the New York Times, which has come under fire by far right wing extremist groups such as the Republican Party for allegedly revealing details of secret U.S. government anti-terror programs. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

"And CNN? Don't get me started," Annika concluded. "It's unconscionable for CNN to wash their hands of these continued terrorist attacks. They consider themselves 'citizens of the world.' What a fucking joke. They're such hypocrites. The people in Madrid and Bali and London and Baghdad and now Mumbai are all citizens of the world too. The MSM is a disgrace."

AJN's Annika Becker contributed to this report.

Posted by annika, Jul. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Is Castro Dead?

American Princess, and apparently Jonah Goldberg have heard rumors. Nothing on Drudge yet. E.M. says she heard it from a Wall Street friend, as does Jonah. I checked the stock market and it did rally around 12:00.

Update: Still nothing from any reputable news source. Or from Drudge for that matter.

If it turns out to be true, I for one will question the timing. Is Castro's death simply the Bush administration's attempt to deflect attention away from their failure to unh...

Oh I got it. It's the Bush administration's attempt to deflect attention away from the impending indictment of Barry Bonds, who I hear, is a Republican.

Culture of corruption! Culture of corruption! Halliburton! Halliburton! Sis-boom-ba!

Posted by annika, Jul. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

July 10, 2006

Nothing To See Here, Move Along...

From the Houston Chronicle:

[A] man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."

No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.

A TSA screener disagreed with the officer, saying "the shoes had been tampered with and there were all the components of (a bomb) except the explosive itself," the report says.

The officer retorted, "I thought y'all were trained in this stuff," TSA officials reported.

The report says the TSA screener notified Delta Airlines and talked again with the officer, who said he had been unable to check the passenger's criminal background because of computer problems.

So what did they do? They let the guy on the fucking plane!

Now of course, since the plane didn't blow up we can assume one of three things: a) that it was a test run; b) that the plan involved hiding the explosive somewhere else on the plane, or with an accomplice who aborted the mission; or c) that this poor innocent man with the middle eastern name was unfairly hassled while scores of evil grannies were allowed to board the plane unmolested.

I tend to think that it was just a test of our defenses, since a clock and battery do not seem to be necessary components of a shoe bomb. In any case, I hope someone is raising holy hell over this incident.

Posted by annika, Jul. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

July 09, 2006

Another Danish Themed Post

From the Wall Street Journal, a sensible Danish liberal:

Bjorn Lomborg busted--and that is the only word for it--onto the world scene in 2001 with the publication of his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist." A one-time Greenpeace enthusiast, he'd originally planned to disprove those who said the environment was getting better. He failed. And to his credit, his book said so, supplying a damning critique of today's environmental pessimism. Carefully researched, it offered endless statistics--from official sources such as the U.N.--showing that from biodiversity to global warming, there simply were no apocalypses in the offing. "Our history shows that we solve more problems than we create," he tells me. For his efforts, Mr. Lomborg was labeled a heretic by environmental groups--whose fundraising depends on scaring the jeepers out of the public--and became more hated by these alarmists than even (if possible) President Bush.
Read what Mr. Lomborg has to say about priorities here. Good stuff.

via Shelly.

Posted by annika, Jul. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Danish Torture Conviction Overturned

A victory in the little known case of Annemette Hommel, the Danish officer accused of "torture" at the Danish Contingent's Camp Eden in Southern Iraq.

Apparently Eden was no paradise for the detainees under interrogation by Hommel and four MPs. They had been subjected to the heinous torture of:

  • having to sit down for a long time

  • getting yelled at

  • not getting a second glass of water when they asked for one
Danish blogger Exile has background on the Hommel case.
She was tried here in Denmark in the full glare of the press and with indignant left-wing politicians screaming for an example to be made. 'War crimes!' they screamed. And it gave a perfect setting for a left-wing outcry against our participation in the 'invasion and occupation' of Iraq.
Though being found technically guilty of abusing prisoners, Annette Hommel was not handed any sentence, merely left to live with the findings of the court and a ruined career. She was not content with that and appealled the courts decision. And in my opinion, quite rightly so.
And Thursday, Jyllands Posten's English language site reported that the Østre Landsret ruled in Hommel's favor.
Annemette Hommel and four other military police have been acquitted of breaking Geneva Conventions by the High Court of Eastern Denmark.

Hommel and the four others had been previously been found guilty by a lower court. Due to mitigating circumstances, however, none of them are facing jail time.

Hommel appealed the decision handed down by a Copenhagen court that convicted her of calling detained Iraqis names and expletives while forcing them to sit in stressful positions during questioning.

Following the first trial in January 2006, Hommel said she was pleased and satisfied with being acquitted on some of the charges but felt that the court has laid down an unnecessarily hard line on the other points.

'I can't live with that,' Hommel said after the first trial, adding that she had been convicted of something that was against her principles.

Hommel has yet to comment on the new, not-guilty verdict by the Eastern High Court.

I like Exile's final comment, which puts most of these "torture" cases into perspective:
No hooking their genitals up to car batteries then? No beatings with clubs or heavy duty electrical cable? No tools or other impliments of torture? No pulling of teeth or fingernails? No poking out of eyes? No beheadings?

No, none of that. That is what she went there to put an end to.


Posted by annika, Jul. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 24, 2006

Hippies In Colorado

I don't know why, but this story makes me laugh. Some choice excerpts:

"I had a shotgun or AK (semi-automatic weapon) pointed at my chest. (The officers) kept saying, 'We're going to shoot your (expletive) dog.' They made this woman cry - she was shaking," said Lobo, a Rainbow Family member.
"They tried to trample us with their horses, and all we did was have our arms up in peace," he said. "I even pulled my pants down - which was probably indecent exposure - to show them I didn't have anything on me."
"I've been here since Saturday, and I've already received three (citations). Look, I'm sick of being harassed. Just because I'm in the middle of the woods with a group of people doesn't mean I don't have a job, that I don't have a family and that I don't contribute to society,"
"All they had to do was get a bullhorn and say 'We've got guns.' They shouldn't have pulled out their guns, that's not kosher, man,"
We are stardust, we are golden... we are picking a different county next year!

h/t DPGI v.2

Posted by annika, Jun. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Democrats Supporting The Doctrine Of Pre-Emption?

It's not unusual that I find myself disagreeing with a democrat. But this time it's really ironic.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale says he supports a pre-emptive U.S. strike against a North Korean missile that is raising nuclear fears around the globe.

. . .

Mondale said on WCCO-AM Friday that the United States should tell North Korea "defuel that missile. It has three boosters. Dismantle it and put it back in the sheds. Because if you're getting ready to fire this, we'll take it out."

. . .

Mondale and other former top Democrats are convinced apparently that action is the key to ending the standoff.

"This is such a legitimate thing for the United States to do," Mondale said. "The nature of the threat is so serious that I think we should knock it out right there if they won't stop."

Didn't that guy die? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he's still alive, but I though I'd heard that he died a while back.

I'm against shooting down the missile. Firing a test missile, assuming they aim it at international waters, is provocative as Condoleezza Rice said. But it is not an act of war. Shooting a test missile down is an act of war. We don't need to escalate this latest confrontation with North Korea into a hot war.

I'm not sure whether Mondale thinks we can shoot the missile out of the sky or whether he thinks we should hit it before it launches. In the audio, he said that

. . . one missile like the one that took out Zarqawi could take out this [the North Korean] missile.
I'll cut the old man some slack, but he seems to have forgotten that we used bombs to kill Zarqawi, not missiles.

Now if we were to blow up the test missile on the ground, we would ignite a shit storm of unimaginable proportions. North Korea would be able to claim justification for some kind of retaliation, and the world might start calling us the rogue state. I would not be surprised if the UN Security Council met to discuss sanctions against the US.

If we were to shoot the missile out of the sky, we'd run the risk that our anti-missile missile might miss. That would be worse than doing nothing. Our anti-missile technology is far from perfect. The task has often been described as "hitting a bullet with a bullet." If we were to try for the Korean missile, we could not afford to miss. And I don't care for the odds.

However, if we let the North Koreans shoot their wad, we can monitor its performance much better than even they can. We'll gain important intelligence on their capabilities, both in missile technology and in electronic missile tracking. (Since they'll be watching the missile, we'll be able to watch their radars.) Diplomatically, we can use their "provocative act" against them if and when we need international support for action in the future.

I say, complain about it, but if they're determined to test their missile, don't stop them.

h/t to Larry at Beth's.

Posted by annika, Jun. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 23, 2006

An Answer To Lukobitch


Update: More great photoshopping on this subject at Beth's and Darleen's Place. And of course at Michelle Malkin's, whose idea it was.

Posted by annika, Jun. 23, 2006 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 21, 2006

What... The... FUCK?!

This has got to be a muhfukkin joke right?

Saudis Offered Scholarships for Aviation Courses in US

JEDDAH, 20 June 2006 — The Ministry of Higher Education and the General Authority of Civil Aviation are offering scholarships to Saudi men and women to study various majors related to civil aviation in the United States.

The forms are available online at the ministry’s website until July 12 for both bachelor’s and post-graduate studies. Nominations will be announced on July 31. Interviews will take place in August and final scholarship winners will be announced on Sept. 2.

The scholarships are available in majors such as communications, electrical and computer engineering, computer science, systems analysis, air traffic control, flight safety, and other majors related to the airline transport industry.

Applicants for the bachelor’s program must have a minimum score of 85 percent in the science section and 90 percent in other sections, such as Qur’an memorizing, administrative and commercial sciences. [emphases mine]

I say again: WHUT THE FUCK?!

Oh, I guess I shouldn't be xenophobic. Because Saudi universities are so well known for their pro-western curriculum. Student visas for everybody!

hat tip: Free Thoughts.

Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: The Huh? Files & annikapunditry

Followup Question

Very interesting discussion going on in the comments section of my poll on Hillary vs. Rudy for New York's electoral votes. You didn't disappoint me.

I think Rudy wins New York, running against Hillary. But it would be a squeaker.

Now let's throw a monkey wrench into the debate.

New York is 31 electoral votes. Assume Rudy gets the nomination, and wins New York. Look at this map of the '04 results. I say Rudy also wins "barely Kerry" Pennsylvania and New Jersey too. That's a 67 point switch!

I've never heard of a Republican "northern strategy," but with sixty seven points, Rudy could lose most of the Southern states and still come out ahead. (I also believe Rudy could win Florida, which was "weak Bush" last time only because of the northeastern transplants in south Florida. Add FL and you get a 94 point switch.) Hillary still wins the other Kerry states, but who cares?

Debunk my theory.

Posted by annika, Jun. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 20, 2006

Taliban Evil Cowards

From the Times of London:

Taleban fighters used women and children as human shields as they tried to escape into the mountains of Afghanistan, British troops claimed yesterday.

The tactics were revealed in the first account by those who fought in one of the main battles faced by the men of 3 Para and the Royal Gurkha Rifles in Helmand province, where 3,300 British troops are stationed.

The Taleban’s use of human shields happened during a six-hour battle that began when British troops arrived in a remote area to flush out a suspected Taleban hideout.

They came under attack seven times and fired 2,000 rounds as the rebels set ambushes and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades. About 21 Taleban were killed.

“It happened twice where they pushed women and children in front of them. The first time they ran into a compound and pushed them out the front to stop the assault,” said Corporal Quintin Poll, 29, from Norfolk.

“The second time they were firing through a building with women and children inside. My guys had to go around the left and right to get them.”

This occurred during some very ferocious fighting.
The fighting was so intense that rounds set fire to nearby wheat fields. At one stage Private Bash Ali, 20, from London, was hit by a bullet from a Kalashnikov assault rifle. It lodged in the spare magazine of his SA80 rifle, around his waist, setting fire to a tracer round.

“I was going around a corner hearing fire and didn’t know where it was coming from. The next thing I knew I fell to the ground. I thought I’d been hit by an RPG. I was dazed and was pulled into cover by a comrade,” he said.

Apache helicopters and A-10 tankbusters were called in to provide air support and at one stage raked a compound housing militants with their 30-millimetre canons.

“The guys were superb. I left the day with a huge amount of pride,” said Major Will Pike, 36, who has been in the Army for 14 years and said that this was the fiercest day of fighting he had ever seen.

Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Question For You

Half of the reason I write this blog is to sample opinions from a wide variety of really smart people, that's you.

So here's a question I was thinking about today, which I haven't seen addressed anywhere.

Free polls from Pollhost.com
If Giuliani ran against Hillary in '08, who would win New York's 31 electoral votes?
Rudy Giuliani Hillary Clinton   

What do you think?

Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

From One Who Should Know...

I'll be really busy today, but I did want to link this WaPo op-ed by none other than Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser. It contains information that should please all political stripes, and is definitely worth reading.

I was perplexed by this cryptic passage.

While Iraq is trying to gain its independence from the United States and the coalition, in terms of taking greater responsibility for its actions, particularly in terms of security, there are still some influential foreign figures trying to spoon-feed our government and take a very proactive role in many key decisions. Though this may provide some benefits in the short term, in the long run it will only serve to make the Iraqi government a weaker one and eventually lead to a culture of dependency.
Do any of you have ideas on who Mr. al-Rubaie meant when he referred to "some influential foreign figures?"

h/t Michelle Malkin.

Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Sad News


Today we mourn the loss of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon.

Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Massachussetts was also killed during the initial battle near Yousifiya last Friday.

All were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Ky.

Posted by annika, Jun. 20, 2006 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 19, 2006

Murtha Schmurtha

On Sunday, in response to a Tim Russert question, Representative Murtha actually suggested that we could have run the Zarqawi operation out of Okinawa.

What an idiot. Froggy at Blackfive does a beautiful job explaining why.

Apparently Murtha also believes that Somalia and Beirut are good models for the proper use of American military power. Or non-use, I should say. Murtha said, "in Beirut President Reagan changed direction, in Somalia President Clinton changed direction, and yet here, with the troops out there every day, suffering from these explosive devices, and being looked at as occupiers [blah blah blah]"

Let's follow that logic a bit. Murtha would have advised Washington to withdraw after Valley Forge; Madison to give up after the burning of the White House; Lincoln to throw in the towel after Bull Run, both of them; FDR to redeploy all troops to San Diego after Bataan; etc. etc. you get the picture.

How long must we wait until Murtha takes MacArthur's advice and just faaades away. Not soon enough, I say.

Posted by annika, Jun. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 15, 2006

Hudson v. Michigan

Reading some of what passes for journalistic analysis regarding today's Supreme Court decision in Hudson v. Michigan, only reinforces my opinion that 90% of all reporters are idiots.

Check the AP reportage for example:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police armed with a warrant can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock, a huge government victory that was decided by President Bush's new justices.

The 5-4 ruling signals the court's conservative shift following the departure of moderate Sandra Day O'Connor.

Dissenting justices predicted that police will now feel free to ignore previous court rulings that officers with search warrants must knock and announce themselves or run afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said Detroit police acknowledge violating that rule when they called out their presence at a man's door, failed to knock, then went inside* three seconds to five seconds later. The court has endorsed longer waits, of 15 seconds to 20 seconds.**

The errors in that article are too numerous to list. For one thing, the cops in the Hudson case didn't "barge in," they announced themselves first then waited before trying the door, which was unlocked. But more importantly, the Supreme Court never said that police "can barge into homes and seize evidence even if they don't knock."

On the contrary, the Court upheld the knock rule. The Fourth Amendment still requires police executing a search warrant to knock first, announce their presence and provide the occupants a reasonable opportunity to open the door voluntarily. Today's ruling did not change that rule.

What the Court did do is apply the brakes to an out of control "exclusionary rule." Hudson v. Michigan is a quite sensible decision, and not even particularly conservative, in my opinion. I wonder if the AP reporter even read it.

Proponents of an expansive exclusionary rule want it to apply to any evidence obtained in the prosecution of a suspect, whenever the police fail to follow a procedural rule. In other words, some people believe that a judge should throw out all evidence against a defendant whenever the police fuck up, no matter what kind of fuck up it was. As Scalia noted, that would mean a "get-out-of-jail-free card" in many cases. This is what is known in the popular culture as "getting off on a technicality."

So, wouldn't it have been more accurate for the AP to describe today's decision as the Court limiting the ability of criminals to "go free" on "technicalities?"

The Hudson case does not overturn the exclusionary rule. It simply says that if police screw up on their constitutional requirement to knock before serving a search warrant, and the search later turns up a bunch of evidence that proves the dude was guilty as sin, the judge does not have to throw out all the evidence and let the guy go. I think that's totally reasonable. The exclusionary rule still applies when the cops commit more serious constitutional violations, like searching a house without a warrant.

Critics of the Hudson decision will say that without the exclusionary rule police might simply ignore the knock and enter requirement. Maybe so, maybe not. The Court pointed to other means available to punish cops for failing to knock, civil lawsuits and disciplinary measures for instance. Also, the Court pointed out that the knock requirement isn't even a hard and fast rule. Police can legally enter without knocking if they have reason to believe that evidence might be destroyed were they to knock first.

But the main point is that the cure would be much worse than the disease. If we were to let criminals go free just because the police failed to knock even though they had a valid search warrant, there would undoubtedly be crooks walking around who should be behind bars. The Hudson decision prevents this potential miscarriage of justice and restores balance to a small part of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Or to put it in Johnny Cochran-ese:

Just 'cuz the cop didn't knock,
don't mean we let the perp walk.
I'm glad the new Court is refusing to expand the exclusionary rule beyond its already unreasonable scope. I just wish that the media would explain the reasoning behind today's decision instead of trying to scare people unnecessarily.

I give the New York Times opinion writer more slack for his wrongheaded piece, because at least that's an editorial. I would be disappointed if I didn't find wrongheadedness in a NYT editorial.

To be fair, some reporters seem to understand the Hudson case better. Two examples of more balanced articles can be found at CNN's site and at The Christian Science Monitor. Although I do have a semantic nit to pick about the Monitor's assertion that the decision is a setback to "privacy rights." While the right to privacy is related to Fourth Amendment freedoms, the two are not identical. As everyone should know by now, the right to privacy is not enumerated in the Constitution, whereas protection from unreasonable searches and seizures is.

* Again, the AP reporter "forgot" to mention that the criminal's door was unlocked.

** Here the AP reporter "forgot" to mention that the standard for deciding how long to wait is based on how long it would take a suspect to flush the evidence. Therefore, a reasonable wait time might be only a couple of seconds, depending on the particular evidence in the case.

Posted by annika, Jun. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: Legal Mumbo Jumbo & annikapunditry

Happy Valdemarsdag!

Today is Valdemar's day, which, as longtime visitors of this blog well know, is Denmark's version of flag day. It's when Danish people celebrate God's gift of the Dannebrog to them in the year 1219. I've retold the legend before, but you can read another humorous version at The Moron's Euroblog.

Valdemar's day

I got an email this morning from visitor Drake, who loves my blog by the way. (I actually encourage anyone and everyone to e-mail me for the purpose of telling me how much you love my blog.) Anyways, Drake alerted me to the following bit of information, Danish exports are UP!

As reported by The American Thinker:

The MSM in Denmark yesterday cited a brand-new report from the Danish ‘Institut for Konjunktur-Analyse’ that unambiguously shows that the “cartoon crisis” has had a positive impact on Danish exports. The export business is literally booming and the result for the first half of 2006 is expected to be the best in the last 4 years.

Here’s an article from Denmarks largest financial newspaper. Unfortunately it’s in Danish (you might be able to extract the essentials from the headline nevertheless.) The article basically says that while the export to Islamic countries has gone down, this is more than compensated for by an increase in export to other countries, especially the USA! Senior analyst Joern Thulstrup is quoted as saying: (translated) “It’s an overlooked fact in the Danish debate that Denmark is held in very high regard in the USA, and this is really paying off in regard to business.”

So help celebrate Valdemarsdag, eat a danish today!

Posted by annika, Jun. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 10, 2006

Code Red To The Zark Man's Head!

Does it even need to be said that if this questionable rumor is true, I hope our boys took a few extra hard swings just for me?

Update: AQ feelin the heat just a little? Via Preston, whom all the girls dig.

Posted by annika, Jun. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 09, 2006

Cautious Optimism?

Here's two articles from the anti-war, often anti-American Associated Press, that give cause for optimism to those of us who want victory.

Ignore the predictably negative headline and check out some key quotes from this article:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death doesn't mean an end to the insurgency in Iraq — but it could mean a change in strategy.

"What Iraqi Sunnis want in Iraq is different from what al-Zarqawi wants," said Sadeq al-Musawi, who until February was President Jalal Talabani's political adviser. "Sunnis want to push out foreign forces from Iraq. Al-Zarqawi ... wanted Islamic rule and wanted to instigate civil war between Sunnis and Shiites."

The death on Wednesday of the al-Qaida in Iraq leader could also provide an opening for the Iraqi government to try to woo Sunni insurgents.

Deputy Prime Minister Salam Zikam Ali al-Zubaie, a Sunni, said the national unity government of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was open to contacts with armed groups except those involved in the killing of civilians or opposed to the U.S.-backed political process.

There have been contacts in the past between envoys of the U.S. and Iraqi governments and various insurgent groups, but none is known to have produced any deals or progressed beyond the preliminary stages.

"Al-Qaida in Iraq and its supporters must be shaken by al-Zarqawi's death," al-Zubaie said Friday. "It has given security forces a boost," al-Zubaie said.

An even more optimistic AP story looks at the beating Al Qaeda leadership has taken around the world in the last two years. A partial rundown:
A 2004 Associated Press analysis named a dozen young terror suspects as front-line leaders, their hands stained with the blood of attacks from Bali to Baghdad, Casablanca to Madrid.

Al-Zarqawi, who sat atop the 2004 list as the biggest threat after bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, died Wednesday when U.S. forces dropped two 500-pound bombs on his hideout northeast of Baghdad.

. . .

Globally, security forces have also had considerable success. Another four of the top 12 young militants in the 2004 list have met violent ends — in shootouts in Saudi Arabia, under U.S. bombardment in Iraq, or in an Algerian terror sweep. The seven who remain at large are on the run, and none has been able to match al-Zarqawi's success at launching large-scale attacks since mid-2004.

. . .

Joining al-Zarqawi in the list of dead militant leaders is Nabil Sahraoui, who took over the North African Salafist Group for Call and Combat in 2004 and announced that he was merging it with al-Qaida. Sahraoui did not have much time to savor his power play. The militant, who was in his 30s, was gunned down by Algerian troops that same year east of Algiers.

Habib Akdas, the accused ringleader of the 2003 bombings in Istanbul, Turkey, and another member of the class of 2004, died during the U.S. bombardment of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November of that year, according to the testimony of an al-Qaida suspect in U.S. custody. Turkish security forces believe the account and say Akdas, who was also in his 30s, is dead.

Syrian-born Loa'i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa, who has emerged as an even more senior leader of the Istanbul bombings, but who was not included in the 2004 list of top terror suspects, is in a Turkish jail awaiting trial on terror charges.

Two other men who were on the 2004 list met their ends at the hands of security forces in Saudi Arabia.

Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, 30, who rose from high school dropout to become al-Qaida's leader in the kingdom, was cornered and killed by security forces in Riyadh in 2004, shortly after he masterminded the kidnapping and beheading of American engineer Paul M. Johnson.

In 2005, Saudi forces shot and killed Abdelkrim Mejjati, a Moroccan in his late 30s who was believed to have played a leading role in the May 2003 bombings in Casablanca that killed more than 30 people. Mejjati came from a privileged background, attending an exclusive French school in Morocco before turning to terrorism. He was sent to Saudi Arabia on bin Laden's orders, becoming one of the kingdom's most wanted men.

For most of those at large, life is anything but easy.

Let's not forget the parliamentary approval of Iraq's new Defense and Interior ministers, and the newfound momentum of American troops against the insurgency. Add to those bits of good news, the announcement by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki two weeks ago that "Our forces are capable of taking over the security in all Iraqi provinces within a year and a half," and things look even better.

I've always been an optimist on Iraq and the War on Terror. I remained so even during the darkest days when the temptation to jump sides became too much to resist for better conservatives than I.

Still, I've never been one who, on this blog, was quick to announce certain "victories" as "turning points" or signs of "light at the end of the tunnel." I know that in war, as in life, the road to victory is often tortuous (definition 1). For every bit of good news, there's some bad news that the opposition will trumpet, so it's hard being an optimist when no one knows the ultimate outcome with certainty. But I'm a lot more hopeful today than I was a week ago. Maybe, just maybe, we've crested a hill over there.

Posted by annika, Jun. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 08, 2006

John Kerry Declares "Mission Accomplished"

This is rich. I wonder if Kerry was wearing a flight suit when he wrote this.

Statement by John Kerry on the Death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a brutal terrorist and his death strikes a blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq. This ruthless thug who abused the true meaning of Islam was an intruder on Iraqi soil and it’s good news that he’s dead. Our troops did an incredible job hunting him down and destroying him, and all of America is proud of their skill and commitment.

“With the end of al-Zarqawi and the confirmation of the final vital cabinet ministries in Iraq’s new government, it’s another sign that it’s time for Iraqis to stand up for Iraq, bring the factions together, end the insurgency, and run their own country. Our troops have done their job in Iraq, and they’ve done it valiantly. It’s time to work with the new Iraqi government to bring our combat troops home by the end of this year. [emphasis added]

Time to declare victory and come home, eh? There was Caesar, Alexander, von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, Eisenhower, and now John F. Kerry: military genius.

Posted by annika, Jun. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Death Of An Enemy


Now that Al Zarqawi is getting fucked in the ass by his cellmates Pol Pot and Beria, I think we should celebrate the heroes who dropped the two 500 lb. JDAMs that killed him. Their victory is as historic at the one that occurred on April 17, 1943, also heralded as great news:

[A]s the mountains of Bougainville came into view [it was] 0934 when sharp-eyed Doug Canning called out "Bogeys, eleven o'clock. High." Mitchell couldn't believe it; there they were, right on schedule, exactly as planned. The Japanese planes appeared bright and new-looking to the pilots of the 339th. They jettisoned their drop tanks and bored in for the attack. Holmes and Hine had trouble with their tanks, only Barber and Lanphier of the killer group went after the Japanese bombers. All the other P-38s followed their instructions to fly cover.

. . . The Lightnings had waded into the Japanese flight, pouring forth their deadly streams of lead. In the manner of all aerial combat, the fight was brief, high-speed, and confused. . . .

. . . Both Lanphier and Barber claimed one bomber shot down over the jungles of Bougainville. Frank Holmes claimed another shot down over the water a few minutes later. From Japanese records and survivors, among them Admiral Ugaki, the following facts are certain. Only two Betty bombers were involved; Yamamoto's was shot down over Bougainville with no survivors; the second went into the ocean and Ugaki lived to tell about it. Shortly after the attack, a Japanese search party located the wreckage, including the Admiral's body, which they ceremonially cremated.

. . .

The pilots uneventfully flew back to Guadalcanal, where upon landing, the ground personnel greeted them gleefully, like a winning football team. While Lanphier and Barber briefly disagreed about the air battle, all was subsumed in the generally celebratory atmosphere. Lanphier later recalled enjoying his best meal of the war that night.

Link to the full history here.

Posted by annika, Jun. 8, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: History & annikapunditry

June 06, 2006

Bush Offers Nucular Technology To Iranians.

From AP:

VIENNA, Austria - A package of incentives presented Tuesday to Iran includes a provision for the United States to supply Tehran with some nuclear technology if it stops enriching uranium — a major concession by Washington, diplomats said.

The offer was part of a series of rewards offered to Tehran by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, according to the diplomats, who were familiar with the proposals and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were disclosing confidential details of the offer.

The package was agreed on last week by the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — the five veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, in a bid to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran.

So far, it appears AP is out there alone on this development. The New York Times reported earlier that the package contained a combination of carrots and sticks: the carrots including aircraft parts and the stick including travel restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are sending out positive signals.

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Tehran to present the package, agreed by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

"The proposals had some positive steps in them and some ambiguities which should be removed," Larijani said after receiving the proposals. He did not elaborate on the "ambiguities".

"We hope, after we study the proposal in detail, we will have another round of talks and negotiations to achieve a balanced and logical conclusion," he said.

But are the Iranians merely stringing everybody along until they work out the bugs in their cascade process? Stay tuned.

Posted by annika, Jun. 6, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 03, 2006

Worthwhile Reading

Much as I hate to link to the New York Times, occasionally they print something that's worth a recommendation. Here's a background story on the internal White House discussions that preceded our latest overture to Iran. It's most notable for illustrating the incredible regard President Bush has for Condoleezza Rice's advice.

[T]he story of how a president who rarely changes his mind did so in this case — after refusing similar proposals on Iran four years ago — illustrates the changed dynamic between the State Department and the White House in Mr. Bush's second term. When Colin L. Powell was secretary of state, the two buildings often seemed at war. But 18 months after Ms. Rice took over, her relationship with Mr. Bush has led to policies that one former adviser to Ms. Rice and Mr. Bush said "he never would have allowed Colin to pursue."

Posted by annika, Jun. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Terrorist Cell In Toronto

In case you've been in a cave, here's the latest news on a terrorist cell arrested by the anti-terrorism squad of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

A counterterrorism sweep Friday resulted in the largest arrest ever made by the nation's anti-terrorism forces and raised, for the first time, the spectre of homegrown terrorists striking Canadians from within our borders.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell announced the arrest of 12 Ontario men who were to appear in court later Saturday in Brampton, west of Toronto. The men ranged in age from 19 to 43, and are residents of Toronto, Mississauga and Kingston.

. . .

Media reports Saturday alleged that the suspects engaged in terror training camps north of Toronto. It was further alleged that the group was plotting to attack targets in Toronto, including the headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

. . .

Police have recovered three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the raids. Commissioner McDonell noted that this amount was three times the amount used by Timothy McVeigh to destroy the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

[from Globe and Mail]

Certainly the most disturbing aspect of this story, and one that will probably be ignored by the evil right wing bloggers, is that the Canadian intelligence services were apparently snooping on these suspected terrorists' private websites!

The chain of events began two years ago, sparked by local teenagers roving through Internet sites, reading and espousing anti-Western sentiments and vowing to attack at home, in the name of oppressed Muslims here and abroad.

Their words were sometimes encrypted, the Internet sites where they communicated allegedly restricted by passwords, but Canadian spies back in 2004 were reading them. And as the youths' words turned into actions, they began watching them.

This is a clear violation of terrorist rights, and it certainly makes me glad to live in America where such domestic surveillance, while still possible, at least generates sufficient outrage among our enlightened class.

Who will step up in Canada to protect terrorist rights? Where is Canada's Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? More proof, I guess, of how backward them Canadians are.

h/t Dr. Rusty.

More from Canadians Skippy Debbye and RightGirl.

Posted by annika, Jun. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

June 01, 2006

Ah Hah!

See, somebody agrees with me! I wrote yesterday that some media pundits completely misunderstood Condoleeza Rice's latest Iran statement. ThreatsWatch totally concurs, only in better prose.

Update: It's hard to imagine any editorial getting it more wrong than the Wall Street Journal's, surprisingly.

Posted by annika, Jun. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Iraq Ain't The Only Dangerous Place For Reporters

A reporter for L.A. radio station KABC was the victim of an attempted murder today. Someone tried to run him over with a station wagon. What did the reporter do? It appears someone didn't like the questions he was asking about a certain all-latino public school. Story here.

More on the principal of the public school and his extremist agenda here. He sounds like a commie to me.

Posted by annika, Jun. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 31, 2006

Change Of Course Or A Poison Pill?

I'm amazed at the naivety of some media pundits regarding Condoleeza Rice's proposal to the Iranians. It's being trumpeted as a major change in U.S. foreign policy. It is not that at all. Here is what she said:

The positive and constructive choice is for the Iranian regime to alter its present course and cooperate in resolving the nuclear issue, beginning by immediately resuming suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, as well as full cooperation with the IAEA and returning to implementation of the Additional Protocol which would provide greater access for the IAEA. This path would lead to the real benefit and longer-term security of the Iranian people, the region, and the world as a whole.

. . .

Thus, to underscore our commitment to a diplomatic solution and to enhance the prospects for success, as soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table with our EU-3 colleagues and meet with Iran’s representatives.

Iran has stated publicly that they have no intention of giving up their right to process uranium. Today they repeated the assertion:
The Iranian news agency said Iran accepts only proposals and conditions that are in the nation's interest. "Halting enrichment definitely doesn't meet such interests[.]"
They've reiterated their insistence on nuclear research countless times. In fact, they've already called Rice's overture "a propaganda move."

Well, of course, it is.

You see, Rice's proposal contains a poison pill -- a condition designed to be unacceptable to the Iranians. Upon Iran's rejection of the offer, we can re-claim the rhetorical high ground we lost when Ahmadi-Nejad sent that stupid letter. We are attempting to regain the "initiative," which is a military analogy that means that we're trying to control the game by placing our opponent on the defensive.

Iran either accepts the conditions or they don't. Either way it's a win-win for us. If they accept the conditions, we gain time to promote regime change from within (assuming the Bush administration takes my advice). If they reject the offer, we gain leverage with our allies and public opinion (assuming we spin it right). Or, you can look at it another way: if the Iranians agree to stop enrichment, they would look really bad if they started it up again for any reason.

Look, regime change is the ultimate goal here and everyone should know this. Ahmadi-Nejad is a bigger nutcase than Saddam ever was, and infinitely more dangerous. We cannot be safe as long as Iran is controlled by religious extremists who hate us. Democracy in Iran is the necessary next step in any permanent solution to the problem of Islamic terrorism.

If you look at what we did to set up Saddam Hussein, you'll see we used the same poison pill method. On the eve of war, we proposed a multi-layered ultimatum which Saddam could not possibly have satisfied. He tried submitting a 12,000 page Declaration of Compliance, but of course that hastily prepared document never had a chance. And the ultimate result is that Saddam is now in prison instead of ruling Iraq.

Now, in the case of Iran, we need to manuever them into a position where we can take out the regime without using the military option. At least I hope that's the plan, because attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in the near future would be politically disastrous, if not technically unfeasible.

But the Iranians have a poison pill of their own, which they haven't yet trotted out. It's called the "security gaurantee" card. When the time is right, they will play it, don't worry. Iran will demand that we give them the same assurance we once gave to Castro: that we won't try to overthrow the current government. As I pointed out above, regime change should be our ultimate goal, and therefore we must never agree to that condition. If Iran plays the security guarantee card effectively, they may regain the rhetorical advantage unless we are ready to counter it.

Posted by annika, May. 31, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 30, 2006

Iran News

From AP:

Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that Tehran is ready to restart negotiations with the European Union on its nuclear program, but he ruled out direct talks with the United States.

"I announce that Iran is ready to respond positively to the call" made by the Nonaligned Movement "for resuming the negotiations on Iran's nuclear issue without any preconditions," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters.

"Accordingly, I would announce our readiness to restart immediately the negotiations with the EU Three to resolve the issues," he said, referring to Britain, France and Germany.

The announcement raised hopes that Iran would react positively to a planned package of incentives meant to convince it to abandon uranium enrichment. The package has been put together by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.

Come on. "Raised hopes?" Among who? I hoped that Santa Claus existed, but it didn't happen. Iran is not going to stop enriching uranium, and they are playing everybody for fools. They also announced that bilateral talks with the U.S. are out. Like that was going to do any good anyway. But maybe we can stop hearing about how we're the bad guys 'cause we don't want to talk to them.

You wait. Negotiations will start again, then in a few months the Iranians will either break it off or do something that will cause us to stop talking and spend another five months ramping up for a security council meeting. This cycle can go on as long as they need it to. Diplomacy alone cannot succeed here. If the goal is to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, only regime change can solve the problem.

Here is the real reason why the Iranians want to talk now. They have run into some technical problems that they need to sort out.

Diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the topic's political delicacy, say that Iranian engineers stopped pouring a raw form of uranium, called UF6, into arrays of centrifuges after just 12 days, even as the nation erupted in celebrations of the enrichment feat. The reports, which have now been widely circulated, say the Iranians kept the empty centrifuges spinning, as is standard practice because slowing the delicate machines can cause them to wobble and crash.

. . .

[O]n April 11 . . . the Iranians announced that they had enriched uranium to the low levels needed to fuel a nuclear reactor. They depicted the achievement as just the start of a sprint. "Our young scientists are working day and night," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, who is in charge of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, told an Iranian television interviewer the next day. "People are shocked and surprised that this has happened so quickly."

Then, on April 28 in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the Iranians were assembling two more cascades, or strings of centrifuges, each consisting of 164 machines. On May 17, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a research group in Washington that tracks the Iranian program, told Congress that those cascades were expected to start operating in May and June, respectively.

But in an interview last week, a diplomat close to the international watchdog agencies disclosed that the atomic agency would report soon that the Iranians had made little progress on the new cascades.

That would be a setback, at least as measured by Iran's declared intentions. It has said the pilot plant is to hold a total of six cascades made up of 984 centrifuges — a goal nuclear analysts expected Iran to achieve later this year. They see that as roughly the minimum number of centrifuges Iran would need to enrich enough uranium to make a single bomb. Analysts say that if the complicated plant worked reliably and efficiently, and if Tehran decided to throw out the inspectors and abandon its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, using the cascades to make fuel for a nuclear weapon would take a little more than two years.

Whoa, what happened to the ten year estimate everybody's been throwing around?

And here's the quote of the day, from a German:

"They've cracked the code," one senior German official said last week. "We're kidding ourselves if we think we are going to deny them the knowledge" of how to produce nuclear fuel.
He's right. That's why regime change is the only answer.

Iran is clear on one thing. They will not stop enrichment, even if the negotiations begin anew, and even if the EU offers the incentive package that's been floated.

"They say that they want to give us incentives. They think that they can take away our gold and give us some nuts and chocolate in exchange," hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said earlier this month.

"We don't need incentives. There is no need to give us incentives, just don't try to wrong us," he said.

"Or stop us," he might have said.

Update: Tod Lindberg of the Washington Times makes the case for negotiation. The central focus of any negotiation with Iran is to answer to these questions:

Is there anything Iran wants more than a nuclear weapon? If so, is what Iran wants instead in any sense reasonable? If what Iran wants is not reasonable, is there anything reasonable that Iran would accept in exchange for a verifiable end to its nuclear program? The answer to those questions may be "no," "no" and "no." But we would be better served by demonstrating that the answers are "no" than simply by assuming and asserting they are.
Put me in the camp with those who think negotiation is futile. Ultimately futile, but worthwhile if we use it to our advantage like the Iranians are currently doing. You see the Iranians negotiate in bad faith to buy time. But we need time too. We need it to stir up internal unrest, promote internal division and opposition to the mullahs, and then covertly support a counter-revolution. It's the only way, short of the military option, that we can ever be sure of stopping the Iranian bomb.

So I say yeah, negotiate. Put on a good show, but we sure as hell better be doing something else too while we still have options. I worry that the Bush administration is not able or willing to multi-task like the Reagan administration was. A linear strategy like: "First try diplomacy, then if that doesn't work try sanctions, then if that doesn't work..." is a losing strategy. Reagan's offensive was multi-faceted and complex. We don't think of it that way because we only remember the brouhaha over the missiles. But the Bush administration really ought to be studying the Reagan model more closely.

Posted by annika, May. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 28, 2006

Another Way To Remember Memorial Day

Readers of annika's journal don't need to be reminded about Memorial Day, or what it stands for. But here's another way to honor those who died to preserve our freedom. Make your voice heard to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross.


The Thomas More Law Center, which does such great pro bono public interest work, has prepared a letter asking the president to help preserve the Memorial Cross from efforts to destroy it by secular zealots.

I'm not exactly sure why a tiny group of chronic complainers feel so threatened by this cross and other symbols meant to honor our nation's heritage. But they won't stop until all traces of religious faith are erased from public sight. And then they'll find something else to destroy. They only reason they are succeeding is because they complain so loudly while we who disagree stay silent.

Posted by annika, May. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (36) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 25, 2006

Musical Chairs At The CIA

Newsweek has more background on the internal feud that led to Porter Goss's surprise resignation. It's an interesting story that involves a Clinton era fuck-up in Belgrade. Well, Goss thought it was a fuck-up, but CIA thought it wasn't. Goss was chair of the House Intelligence Committee at the time, and the dispute carried over into his short lived DCI term. It sounds like Goss was doomed from the start. When he was appointed to head the CIA, he inherited the same enemies he made as Intelligence Committee chairman. It was just a matter of time before he left or got kicked out.

One wonders why Bush would select Goss to a head an agency where the top guys already had an axe to grind against him. That couldn't have been the plan, since Hayden is now planning to re-hire a guy who quit because of Goss -- as Hayden's new deputy! What a mess.

Posted by annika, May. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry


I like how critics say, "well when the Taliban were in power at least there wasn't any opium trade." Of course there wasn't, the Taliban system of law and order was extremely effective because it was extremely brutal. But if you were to suggest that the allied forces use the same brutal methods to stop the resurgence of opium growing, you'd hear, "but that's the only way these poor farmers can earn a living."

So which is it?

Posted by annika, May. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 16, 2006

I Love This...

Here's an example of media trickery in the choice of headlines. MSNBC (home of the Bush-hatin' tag team: Matthews and Olbermann) chose the following headline for their story on the president's immigration speech last night:

Bush talk of immigrant amnesty divides GOP
You might think, reading that headline, that Bush is in favor of amnesty. Yet nowhere in the story do the writers provide this important quote from the text of the speech, which might provide some important explanatory context to their headline:
[W]e must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are already here. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration.
Look, I know and you know that Bush's plan amounts to amnesty. But the press is supposed to be accurate and impartial. By crafting an inflammatory and misleading headline, and then "forgetting" to provide Bush's own disclaimer from the very speech that this story is supposed to be about, MSNBC is deliberately trying to pour gas on this GOP fire.

That's another reason why I never watch that channel.

Posted by annika, May. 16, 2006 | link | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 13, 2006

There's A New Sheriff In Town

And his name is Tony Snow.

New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow continued to go after the media Thursday by accusing the Associated Press and Washington Post of unfair coverage of President Bush.

Since starting his job Monday, Snow has challenged five major news outlets in a clear signal that he will be more aggressive than his mild-mannered predecessor, Scott McClellan.

. . .

This week he has hit back at The New York Times and USA Today. On Thursday, he criticized the AP for a story headlined: “Army Guard, Reserve fall short of April recruiting goals.”

The White House countered: “The Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Marine Corps Reserve all have exceeded or achieved their year-to-date recruitment goals.”

The White House also pointed out that the Washington Post ran an editorial calling Bush’s tax cuts “a windfall for the rich” on Thursday, the same day the paper also published a news article saying the measure would benefit the “middle class.”

It's on muhfukkas! It is on! Ha-ha!

The following retort by CBS, after being hit by one of Snow's emails, is ROTFL ironic:

[CBS reporter Jim] Axelrod suggested he was the victim of “selective editing on the part of the White House to make their own political points.”
Selective editing?! Ohh, that's rich! Pot, meet kettle.
“Very simply, the White House is cutting and pasting to make a point, something they accuse their critics of doing constantly,” he said.
With good reason, I might add.
“I am always open to criticism,” he added, “but if the White House has a point to make, perhaps they should furnish the full and proper context.”
Well, the shoe is on the other side of the fence now, ain't it bro? Or the other foot. Or whatever. Anyway, it's about time.

I can't wait to see what will happen when Snow gives his first public briefing on Monday. It's as if he's said "I know you guys are going to give me about 15 minutes of grace time, and then you're going to go for the jugular. So why don't we just cut to the chase."

h/t to Rightwingsparkle.

Posted by annika, May. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Hidden In Last Week's News...

Was something that scared me very much. And since I feel like I'm being a little paranoid, I thought I'd throw it out to you all.

You may have heard about the Danish Imam Abu Laban, who has decided to leave Denmark because of that country's supposed intolerance of Muslims. I first read about it from the Baron at Gates Of Vienna. (Now of course, the radical Imam appears to have called off the emigration.)

The Baron thought Laban's announcement was a good sign. My initial reaction was quite the opposite. I asked myself why now? This is a guy who has basically enjoyed enormous success waging jihad inside Denmark. (See Sugiero for a rundown on his nefarious activities.) He doesn't sound like the kind of guy who would skedaddle over a few rough words. Might there be some other reason Laban wants to leave Denmark now?

Remember, the major news story from last week was Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush. Some have described this letter as a "call to Islam," which is step one in the process of declaring jihad against the west. (See Robert Spencer, Elder, IBA, LGF, etc.) I think this interpretation is correct. Especially since Ahmadinejad has acknowledged that his letter is, in fact, a call to Islam.

Remember, Iran is run by religious fundamentalists and end-of-the-world nut-jobs. They are not motivated by the same things that motivate modern rational states. Iran views itself as the vanguard of a pan-Islamic movement. They hate the U.S., they hate Israel, and they hate Denmark. (They're not too crazy about the rest of Europe either, but everything in due time.) Iran is also lying about their nuclear ambitions. They are unashamedly playing a delaying game against the west, in order to string us along until they can develop a deliverable nuclear arsenal.

I should add that Iran is executing their strategy beautifully, with a sophistication and a knowledge of its enemies' weakness that I only wish we could duplicate from our side of the conflict.

I should also add that Iran may already have one or more nuclear devices, from some other source. They could have a black market bomb (one of the missing Russian ones) or they could have bought one through a friendly nation.

Anyways, the question I'm getting at is this: Am I paranoid for thinking that the Danish Imam is making plans to leave Denmark because he knows something bad is going to happen there? And soon?

Keep your powder dry.

Update: AP reports that traces of weapons grade uranium have been found in Iran! Hat tip to California Conservative.

[c/p A Western Heart; technorati: ]

Posted by annika, May. 13, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 10, 2006

Have I Been Out Of It?

Have I been out of it, or has this story slipped under the radar? It happened two weeks ago and I'm just hearing about it now.

Jose Manuel Pelayo-Ortega was a crazy passenger on a flight to Sacramento who claimed he had a bomb and was subdued by passengers.

I thought it was odd that, with United 93 premiering that week and all the illegal immigrant stuff in the news, that nobody seems to have reported the story! Pelayo-Ortega's hometown was not released, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was illegal. I only found 12 links on Technorati. It must have been back page stuff in the press. Is this being hushed up, or am I just out of it?

Update: Here's the Bee's story.

Posted by annika, May. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 05, 2006

Is It Time To Test This Administration For Doneness?

[The following post was posted earlier today on annika's journal backup blog, which every good A's J fan should have bookmarked.]

As everyone knows by now, CIA chief Porter Goss has resigned today, quite unexpectedly. He did so in a joint appearance with President Bush, on a Friday afternoon. Bush said something equivalent to "heck of a job Gossie" or some crap like that.

All these signs point even an unseasoned observer like myself to the following conclusion. He was probably fired.

The fact that nobody expected this, and nobody in the administration has tried to explain away the unexpectedness is also a clue. The fact that Goss's statement used the words "step aside" not "resign" may or may not be significant.

Time Magazine has a piece on the resignation, which everybody and their brother is linking to, perhaps because it's one of the first MSM contributions that at least tries to piece together some background. Read it here.

Captains Quarters speculates, persuasively in my opinion, that Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend will replace Goss. An announcement is scheduled for Monday, so we will see.

I doubt that the speculation regarding hookers and "Duke" Cunningham, even if true, would be the reason for so sudden a resignation. I could be wrong, but isn't it a bad idea to fire an important intelligence chief over sex during a time of war? If it's a bribery scandal, that's a different story. But sex? I mean, who cares if he's still able to do his job, right?

I have no clue why he might have been fired, if indeed he was. But maybe he had serious philosophical problems with the bureaucratic restructuring that was mandated by the 9/11 Commission report. I think the whole CIA is in disarray over this, and that it has been floundering from internal division and external pressures for quite some time. Goss's resignation is a symptom of the agency's dysfunction.

I never quite understood why it was a good idea to consolidate the intelligence services under an all-powerful czar. If the problem is faulty intelligence, consolidation would tend to exacerbate that problem. What we really need is redundancy. A system of competing, parallel and independent intelligence agencies should be more likely to generate good information, even if such a system were less efficient.

Again, I'm no expert, but I think the changes should have been limited to enforcement of interagency information sharing, breaking down "the wall," renewing the Patriot Act, and expelling the dead wood and anti-American moles. But creating a whole new level of bureaucracy? When has that ever been a solution to any problem?

I'd much rather have multiple guys reporting to the president on intelligence matters than one DNI chief. I don't know anything about Negroponte, he may be a stand up guy, but what if he's not? He's the only gatekeeper now. If he screws up, if he downplays some key information that later turns out to be important for instance, who's there to challenge him?

Perhaps we'll find out more this weekend about why Goss left. But sudden changes in key positions, no matter how management tries to downplay them, are never good for morale. Anyone who's ever worked in a large company knows this. Goss came into the position with a lot of fanfare, he was a former agent and was supposed to be the perfect guy to get the CIA back on track. Now he's out. I don't like what I'm seeing here, and now my morale is starting to be affected.

Posted by annika, May. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

May 01, 2006

The Protests: My Serious Take

I'm having fun with the protests mainly because illegal immigration is not "my issue," like it is for so many people. Living in California, I have known illegal immigrants all my life, and they have all been wonderful people. To a person, the illegals I've known came here to become American, and they love America. They shouldn't be here, but I'm not going to call them bad people. "Some of my best friends are hispanic" (including my boyfriend).

If I have to be pinned down on the issue, you can categorize me on the side of border enforcement. Just driving around today, I could see the impact of illegal immigration on quality of life. Traffic was nonexistent. And in gridlocked Sacramento, that's saying something. But there's also the well documented cost of illegal immigration to our health care and education systems. And also there's the rule of law angle. My mom immigrated legally, why shouldn't everybody else?

One thing I noticed, the hundreds of thousands of people who left work and school and flooded the streets today had about a hundred thousand different ideas about what the hell they were "protesting" about.

Watching the news tonight, it seemed that nobody marching today had a clear idea what their goal was. Some thought they were protesting Bush, unaware that he's on their side. Some wanted amnesty, unaware that Congress is about to give them just that. Most simply wanted to announce their presence to the world -- the latino version of "we're here, we're queer!"

To the organizers, today was a chance to cynically exploit a perfectly laudable sense of ethnic pride. The international communists who were behind today's demonstrations hope to turn these folks into activists. Get them marching for an ill-defined issue, make them feel as though they are victims, and the next step (they hope) will be to turn them into an army of proletarians. Yes, the holy grail of the American Socialist movement! It's not going to happen though. Today's marchers want into the American dream, not to destroy it.

The most annoying thing about the protests is how they illustrate the left's desperate desire to re-live the sixties. Journalists long to force another presidential resignation. College professors long for the days of mass rallies and sit-ins. And jobless neo-hippies just want to fight the power, whatever that might be. And all of them want the chance to re-live the civil rights movement by creating a new bandwagon to jump on: "immigrant" rights. Never mind that it's an oxymoron.

And who's to blame for the massive turnout today across the country? Well it's the Republican strategists who wanted to sneak an amnesty bill through, while still retaining plausible deniability. They inserted a penalty provision, simply to allow themselves the chance to deny that they are really for amnesty. It's a stupid idea, not only because nobody is going to pay the penalty, but also because it motivated a hell of a lot of the people in the streets today. Most illegals realize that they can't afford to pay the fine and they'd rather stay underground than either incur the penalty or be deported. If the Republicans had been more honest and dropped the pretense of an unenforceable penalty, you probably wouldn't have seen half as many people out there today.

But so what? Because the main thing I want to say about all these protests is "thank you." Thank you to the communist organizers who thought this would be a good idea for their cause. You guys just handed Republicans an early October surprise. Yes, Joe and Jane Six Pack will remember today's illustration of the direction our country is heading, and they will try to put the brakes on by voting Republican in November. Sure there's a perception that Republican politicians are part of the problem, but it's still a two party system and swing voters know enough to pick the lesser of two evils.

So when the Democrats fail again to recapture Congress, they can blame the Mexican flag and el "Nuestro Himno."

Posted by annika, May. 1, 2006 | link | Comments (45) | TrackBack (3)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 28, 2006

United 93

I just got done seeing United 93. I don't mind telling you that I hate them. I truly hate them. If I could get my hands on a jihadist right now, I would easily and gladly kill him.

I never want to hear another word about Guantanamo Bay, or rendition, or the fucking cartoons, or how we should be nice nice. I could flush a thousand Korans down the toilet right now. Fuck them.

Fuck them.

Go see the movie. It's done in a gritty, matter-of-fact, almost documentary style. It increases the feeling that you are watching real events. Which is important because these were real events. It actually happened. There are no viewpoint characters, which allows the audience a certain distance from the very horror of that day. But it also makes you want to yell at the screen, "no, no, no, don't you see what's happening!"

To those who said "it's too soon," (and I'm not sure that story wasn't an urban myth blown out of proportion by the anti-American media) I wonder how such weak people ever get out of bed in the morning. I'm sure the passengers on flight 93 thought it was "too soon" too. I'm sure they would have liked a little more time. But in this world, sometimes there are unpleasant realities that must be confronted. And thank God there are still people who will do what needs doing when the time comes.

Update: RightGirl is pissed too.

Joshua and Josue have similar thoughts as well as names.

And see Rich Lowry's column too.

And definitely see Cranky Insomniac take apart WaPo's hit piece on the movie.

Probably the best review you'll find is by Ms. Underestimated. Smash's is also a must read.

And welcome Hot Air fans!


Posted by annika, Apr. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (5)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 26, 2006

Gas Prices

At the risk of inviting corrections by commenters who know more about economics than me (I got a B in my one and only economics class, so don't even try. I say that not to imply that I am a whiz on the subject. Rather, I say that to let you know that I really know very little about it. Thus any attempts to enlighten me will simply cause more confusion. I have a basic grasp of supply and demand, and that's about it. I also know that if I were to ask ten knowledgeable people what they think we should do about gas prices, I'd get ten wildly different analyses.), here's my analysis.

  • I think that if gas prices get up to $4 per gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.

  • I think that the oil companies would love to see gas prices at $4 per gallon, even if only for a moment, just to break that psychological consumer barrier.

  • I think oil companies are toying with us.

  • According to my memory, it took a long time for gas to get from $1 to $2, but not very long for it to get to $3.

  • I don't believe in, nor do I participate in any of those boycotts promoted in chain e-mails. They've never worked. I don't believe they can work. And they hurt the retailer, whom I don't blame at all anyways.

  • I don't really have a problem with oil company executives making big salaries. Nor do I have a problem with professional athletes' or entertainers' salaries for that matter. If someone is willing to pay that kind of money, then that means they're worth it. That's the free market.

  • I do have a problem with all the extra taxes included in the price of gallon of gas. They're like sin taxes, which I also oppose. I've never liked the idea of using taxation as a means of influencing human behavior.

  • However, isn't the high price of gas the best way to encourage conservation? If you look at it that way, environmentalists should be happiest of all with prices the way they are now. I know as far as I'm concerned, the cleverest PSA ad on tv will not get me to change my driving behavior as much as one $49 fill-up.

  • Someone told me yesterday that she was planning on replacing her car with a hybrid or a diesel "because of all these wars for oil." I replied, facetiously, that I was planning on eliminating all plastics from my life for the same reason. "I'm going all wood from now on." She didn't get it.

  • Do I think prices are being manipulated? Yes, that's my gut feeling. But when people tell me (usually with conviction) why they think prices are not being manipulated, I don't know enough about the market to make a counter-argument. In the end, I still believe prices are being manipulated. It's just natural cynicism at work. And, it's probably true.

  • I'm all for drilling in ANWR. But that's a short term solution, that won't pay off much, and will take a while to kick in. It's certainly not the answer to all our problems as guys like Hannity and Rush would have us believe.

  • I don't want nuclear power though.

  • I think hybrids should be getting much better gas mileage than they do. It seems to me an old Metro or Honda CRX got better mileage in its day than most hybrids today.

  • People who buy cars that require premium unleaded belong in a mental institution.

  • My last car got 35 miles to the gallon consistently. That was until it had to go in for its two year smog cert, required by California. In order to pass it, the smog guys had to fuck with the engine and it was never the same again. I lost like ten mpg, and used way more gas to go the same distance. But hey, at least California said it didn't pollute anymore! Idiots.

  • Don't talk to me about price controls. Always a bad idea. Of course, it's not like I have any suggestions of my own.

  • I hear lots of talk about how envirowackos won't allow new refineries to be built. I hear less talk about how oil companies also don't want new refineries to be built. I believe both are true.

  • I also hear lots of talk about how China is to blame. I totally agree with this. From what I understand, if you fill a Chinese car's tank with gas, a half hour later you gotta fill it up again.

  • To reiterate, and in closing: if gas prices get up to $4 a gallon this summer, all hell will break loose.
That's all I got.

For more serious blogging on the subject, see Pursuit.

Posted by annika, Apr. 26, 2006 | link | Comments (43) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Schlesinger's Latest Revisionism

Interesting Article over at NRO today which touches on a subject Will and I discussed in the comments section some weeks ago: Kennedy and the threat of force in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I believe that Kennedy’s peaceful resolution of the crisis was made possible by his readiness (though clearly not willingness) to use force if necessary, despite the consequences. Or at least that he saw the value in the Soviets thinking the confrontation might “go hot.”

Now, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., has a totally different take on Kennedy’s Cold War strategy. I read the Schlesinger piece a few days ago and was somewhat bewildered at the revisionism of it. In the NRO piece, Michael Knox summarizes Schlessinger’s weird logic, with heavy sarcasm:

According to Professor Schlesinger, the Missile Crisis was successfully resolved because Kennedy “was determined to get the missiles out peacefully.” Once the president had the wisdom to dispense with all bellicose courses and adopt this thoroughly pacific policy, all difficulties vanished; the Soviet Union, impressed, doubtless, by the president’s conciliatory intentions, his manifest goodwill, and the justice of his arguments, embraced his proposals, and the missiles were promptly carried off. Kennedy followed this success, Professor Schlesinger informs us, by calling on both Americans and Russians to reexamine their “attitude” towards each other, “for our attitude,” the president said, “is as essential as theirs.”

So successful a strategy deserves a universal application. If the United States would only make it clear that its policy is always to act peacefully, and that it will never use what Professor Schlesinger calls “preventive” force, its diplomacy would proceed smoothly. It is the saber-rattling of men like President Bush that creates the danger, Professor Schlesinger contends; a thoroughly Quaker policy will dissipate it.

It’s sad, but I think Schlesinger has completely thrown away any credibility he ever had (based on the fact that he knew JFK initmately) by favoring Bush-bashing over logical analysis.

More: I can only describe Schlesinger's statement that an Iran war would be based on "fantasy, deception and self-deception," as idiotic.

Look, no serious person can argue that nuclear weapons in the hands of an Iranian religious dictatorship would not be a very bad thing. Or do Schlesinger and those of his ilk deny that Arab nations have tried to destroy Israel multiple times in the past? (And yes, I know that Persians aren't Arabs.) It goes beyond revisionism to deny that they might still want to destroy Israel. Especially since they say so just about every five minutes.

The only reason Israel wasn't destroyed before now was because their enemies have never been strong enough to beat the IDF. That, plus the fact that the ultimate gaurantor of Israel's existence was the American nuclear arsenal. Now, what if a sworn enemy of Israel were to come into possession of a great "equalizer," which could negate Israeli superiority and American might. Given all their previous attempts to destroy Israel, is it such a stretch to believe that a muslim nation might try again?

And another thing. Liberals are so hot to get our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible. Yet why do so many of them say that we should do nothing about Iran? What do they think would happen if Iran got the bomb?

I'll tell you. We would have Cold War II at the very least. Once Iran gets the bomb, our whole strategy would have to change from pre-emption to deterrence. Western Europe in the Cold War would be the template. Yes, that means we would have to deploy nuclear missiles in Iraq! We'd have no choice. And that means we could never leave. I don't know why nobody is mentioning this, but it's plain as the nose on your face.


Posted by annika, Apr. 26, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 24, 2006

Eagle Claw Anniversary

I find it strange that there is no media recognition of today's 26th anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw. Especially with Iran in the news so much lately. I did a couple of different google news searches and found nothing.

Eagle Claw was the failed attempt to rescue the embassy hostages, in which eight rescuers were killed. The disaster threw a spotlight on Carter's "hollow military," but it also led to the creation of the Special Operations Command, and more importantly, the election of Ronald Reagan.

Why might the media want to ignore Eagle Claw's anniversary? As LGF and others have pointed out, cynicism when it comes to the media's Iran coverage is often justified.

But one would think that they'd play up the Eagle Claw failure angle, in order to argue that a military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem would be futile.

However, such an argument might involve upleasant evidence of Carter's ineptitude, in contradiction of the media's ongoing campaign to beatify the loser.

Posted by annika, Apr. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 18, 2006

New Slogans For The Democratic Party

I just got a spam e-mail from Tom Vilsack, Democratic governor of Iowa, and I presume a future presidential candidate. Don't ask me how I got on his mailing list, I have no earthly idea.

But apparently his PAC has been running a contest for the best ten word slogan to represent the Democratic Party. The contest is now down to the final ten slogans submitted by ten "activists."*

Funny thing about the finalists. Four of them aren't even ten words long. Typical Democrats. Always thinking the rules don't apply to them.

Anyways, I think it's unfair that we conservatives weren't allowed to get in on this contest. Do you all have any ideas for ten word slogans that encapsulize the Democratic Party?

I'll start it off:

"Democrats - because national security makes my head hurt too much."

* I love that word. To me it's a euphemism for jobless looney.

[cross-posted at The Cotillion]

Posted by annika, Apr. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 17, 2006

More Iran Stuff

Mark Steyn's City Magazine essay [via Hugh Hewitt] is my second must read recommendation for today.

Find it here and read the whole dang thing.

Key passages [all emphases mine]:

If Belgium becomes a nuclear power, the Dutch have no reason to believe it would be a factor in, say, negotiations over a joint highway project. But Iran’s nukes will be a factor in everything. If you think, for example, the European Union and others have been fairly craven over those Danish cartoons, imagine what they’d be like if a nuclear Tehran had demanded a formal apology, a suitable punishment for the newspaper, and blasphemy laws specifically outlawing representations of the Prophet. Iran with nukes will be a suicide bomber with a radioactive waist.

. . .

In 1989, with the Warsaw Pact disintegrating before his eyes, poor beleaguered Mikhail Gorbachev received a helpful bit of advice from the cocky young upstart on the block: “I strongly urge that in breaking down the walls of Marxist fantasies you do not fall into the prison of the West and the Great Satan,” Ayatollah Khomeini wrote to Moscow. “I openly announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the greatest and most powerful base of the Islamic world, can easily help fill up the ideological vacuum of your system.”

Today many people in the West don’t take that any more seriously than Gorbachev did. But it’s pretty much come to pass. As Communism retreated, radical Islam seeped into Africa and south Asia and the Balkans. Crazy guys holed up in Philippine jungles and the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay who’d have been “Marxist fantasists” a generation or two back are now Islamists: it’s the ideology du jour.

. . .

With the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, a British subject, Tehran extended its contempt for sovereignty to claiming jurisdiction over the nationals of foreign states, passing sentence on them, and conscripting citizens of other countries to carry it out. Iran’s supreme leader instructed Muslims around the world to serve as executioners of the Islamic Republic—and they did, killing not Rushdie himself but his Japanese translator, and stabbing the Italian translator, and shooting the Italian publisher, and killing three dozen persons with no connection to the book when a mob burned down a hotel because of the presence of the novelist’s Turkish translator.

Iran’s de facto head of state offered a multimillion-dollar bounty for a whack job on an obscure English novelist. And, as with the embassy siege, he got away with it.

. . .

[I]n the 17 years between the Rushdie fatwa and the cartoon jihad, what was supposedly a freakish one-off collision between Islam and the modern world has become routine. We now think it perfectly normal for Muslims to demand the tenets of their religion be applied to society at large: the government of Sweden, for example, has been zealously closing down websites that republish those Danish cartoons. As Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said, “It is in our revolution’s interest, and an essential principle, that when we speak of Islamic objectives, we address all the Muslims of the world.” Or as a female Muslim demonstrator in Toronto put it: “We won’t stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.”

And this, which had me nodding my head at the irony so obvious, I hadn't noticed it until now:
Back when nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, your average Western progressive was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute. The mushroom cloud was one of the most familiar images in the culture, a recurring feature of novels and album covers and movie posters. There were bestselling dystopian picture books for children, in which the handful of survivors spent their last days walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now a state openly committed to the annihilation of a neighboring nation has nukes, and we shrug: Can’t be helped. Just the way things are. One hears sophisticated arguments that perhaps the best thing is to let everyone get ’em, and then no one will use them. And if Iran’s head of state happens to threaten to wipe Israel off the map, we should understand that this is a rhetorical stylistic device that’s part of the Persian oral narrative tradition, and it would be a grossly Eurocentric misinterpretation to take it literally.
Fine as this column was, you'll see me getting off the boat when Steyn concludes, somewhat ominously:
[W]e face a choice between bad and worse options. There can be no “surgical” strike in any meaningful sense: Iran’s clients on the ground will retaliate in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Europe. Nor should we put much stock in the country’s allegedly “pro-American” youth. This shouldn’t be a touchy-feely nation-building exercise: rehabilitation may be a bonus, but the primary objective should be punishment—and incarceration. It’s up to the Iranian people how nutty a government they want to live with, but extraterritorial nuttiness has to be shown not to pay. That means swift, massive, devastating force that decapitates the regime—but no occupation.
That time is coming, but I think we still have other options at present. So if Steyn is urging a military strike now (as he seems to be), I would disagree.

I think our main focus (while we still have the luxury of time) should be on fomenting internal opposition to the regime -- even what you might call internal strife. Take the mullahs minds off the outside world. Make them fear for their own survival. Promote a viable alternative to religious fascism, then give the people of Iran a gentle shove in that direction.

Sure, the days are gone when a Kermit Roosevelt could overthrow Mossadegh with about five guys, a pickup truck and 100 grand in "walking around money." But we can do it, with a little more of the same applied skullduggery, 21st Century style. The New York Times would have to be kept out of the loop, and I'm not sure that's possible when there's a whistleblower around every pentagon corner who thinks he's a hero with a book deal on the way.

Really though, as Steyn's article makes clear, there shouldn't be any debate about the stakes in this newest incarnation of the Great Game. And somebody needs to get on it.

Posted by annika, Apr. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Phishing: It's Not Just From Africa Anymore

I just got a spam e-mail with a new twist. I'm sure you have all gotten those poorly written e-mails from Ojibwe Mumbojibwe of Nigeria, asking for your assistance in an "urgent matter." Well now they've gotten wiser. Here's the twist:

Good day,

My name is Sgt. John Crews Loius, I am an American soldier, I serve in the Military of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq, as you know we have being attacked by insurgents everyday and car bombs. We where lucky to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein?s family hopping it was a bomb in the box, later we find out it was a fiscal cash .

The total amount is US$25,000,000 Twenty Five Million United State dollars in cash, mostly 100 dollar bills which is still in our co sturdy at the military base camp, now we find it as a Big Risk on us if our commandant nor the Iraqis People get to find out about this box of money because we are not allowed to have any money in our position for that We are seeking for a trustworthy foreign business partner who can help us in receiving this box of money

so that He/She may invest it for us and keep our share for banking. This is our plan of sharing my partner and I will take 55%, you take the other 45%.

No stress attached, for we have made all necessary arrangement for shipping it out of Iraq, Iraq is a war zone. We planed on using diplomatic courier service for shipping the money out in one large silver box declaring it as family valuables using diplomatic immunity.

Losers. They couldn't even spell the name right. Whoever is doing this really needs to brush up on English grammar and spelling if they're going to try this approach. It makes sense if you're posing as Ojibwe, but not if you're trying to sound like an American.

Posted by annika, Apr. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Is This True?

Wretchard posted a story [from I do not know where], which is simply horrifying.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. ... After Iraq invaded in September 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran's forces were no match for Saddam Hussein's professional, well-armed military. To compensate ... Khomeini sent Iranian children ... to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.

At one point, however, the earthly gore became a matter of concern. ... Such scenes would henceforth be avoided ... Before entering the minefields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves."

These children who rolled to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979 ... And yet, today, it is a source not of national shame, but of growing pride. Since the end of hostilities against Iraq in 1988, the Basiji have grown both in numbers and influence. They have been deployed, above all, as a vice squad to enforce religious law in Iran, and their elite "special units" have been used as shock troops against anti-government forces. In both 1999 and 2003, for instance, the Basiji were used to suppress student unrest. And, last year, they formed the potent core of the political base that propelled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-- a man who reportedly served as a Basij instructor during the Iran-Iraq War--to the presidency. ... He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij culture" and "Basij power" ... A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors. The children of the Revolution are now its leaders.

Is this true?

Clash of civilizations my eye. If that actually happened, those are the acts of barbarians -- worse than barbarians -- and not anything near civilized men.

Posted by annika, Apr. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 14, 2006

"Be Worried, Be Very Worried"

I'm taking a break from doing my taxes, so I can bash the mainstream media yet again. I'm just in that kind of mood.

Here it is, April 14, 2006, and it looks like we're on the verge of a second Holocaust. The Iranian madman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the scariest shit today that's probably been said since the Wannsee Conference.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "permanent threat" to the Middle East that will "soon" be liberated. He also appeared to again question whether the Holocaust really happened.

"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation," Ahmadinejad said at the opening of a conference in support of the Palestinians. "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

. . .

He did not say how this would be achieved, but insisted to the audience of at least 900 people: "Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."

"The existence of this (Israeli) regime is a permanent threat" to the Middle East, he added. "Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."

You may remember that in October, Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the map. He's now replaced "should" with "will."

That should make everybody worried.

On this day after Passover, this Good Friday, this Easter weekend, I think we all should take some time out to pray very hard. Pray for Israel. Pray for ourselves. And pray for civilization. Because there is a madman out there who wants to finish the job Hitler started.

And I don't want to hear about how it's all rhetoric, and we shouldn't worry because the Iranians would be foolish to attack Israel. Just listen to the man, and then try to tell me he doesn't want to be known as the guy that killed all the Jews.

This is also the week we found out that they've successfully enriched uranium, by the way.

And yet... and yet! Time magazine tells us we should be worrying about global warming. Even though scientists don't even agree whether it exists. Talk about sexed-up intelligence reports! Talk about fake threats! Those guys need to pull their heads out of their asses and smell their own shit.

Ahmadinejad has been going crazy since at least October of last year, and do you know how many cover stories Time has done about Iran?


In fact, Time has not done a cover story even remotely dealing with Iran since 1991, when the title piece was called: "Ollie North Tells His Story: Reagan Knew Everything."

Just out of curiosity, do you know how many times global warming has made the cover of Time since 1987? If you guessed nine (twice in '87, once in '88, twice in '92, and then again in 2001, 2002, 2005 and most recently this month), you were right.

This is not surprising. Time is after all the news organization who brought us "the whistleblowers" as persons of the year. But I think it's "time" they actually started paying attention to what's really important, and putting it on their cover.

Or not. Either way, I won't be buying that rag.

Posted by annika, Apr. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (2)
Rubric: annikapunditry

The "M" In NBC Stands For "Me"

I know there's no M in NBC. You try coming up with clever titles all the time.

Anyways, I had the misfortune of watching NBC's Nightly News tonight, which is something I haven't done in quite a few years. After spending the first couple of segments building their case against Rumsfeld, the network turned its evil eye on the legendary 10th Mountain Division, currently in Afghanistan hunting Taliban.

Here's a transcript and link to the video.

What seemed odd at first, later became annoying, then maddening. Jim Maceda seemed to spend at least as much time talking about himself as he did talking about the 10th Mountain.

An example:

. . . gunmen sprayed our campsite with machine gunfire, just as we prepared to sleep, sending me digging for cover. Two insurgents were wounded, fleeing into the mountains. It was my closest call in 30 years of reporting. [emphasis mine]
Okay, so while you cowered, what else did the real men do? He doesn't elaborate.

Another example:

At dawn, we began the grueling 4,000-foot descent. I carried a 50-pound pack. My cameraman, Kyle Eppler, had that plus a 50-pound car battery, for power.
I thought that was a strange bit of information to put in the story, especially when the accompanying video showed soldiers carrying heavy gear too. Personally, I didn't give a crap how much Maceda carried. What about the soldiers? How much were they carrying? Weren't they supposed to be the point of the story?

Interestingly, Maceda did find it important to mention the four soldiers who needed medical care after the march. I suppose he did that to show how macho he was by contrast.

Maceda couldn't resist adding one more reminder of the hardships he endured to bring us "the story." In closing, he says it's

an often forgotten war that is hard work for the military and the media covering it.
Poor baby.

I appreciate Maceda's effort, but I do not need to know about it. In fact, I thought the reporter was not supposed to be part of the story. Instead of hearing about Maceda and his cameraman, I would rather have known a few more relevant details like: How many bad guys have we blown away and/or how many rat-holes have we flame-throwered?

Posted by annika, Apr. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Don't Believe The Hype (Megastores Can Be Reasonable)

Listening to talk radio, I got the impression that bookstores are run by sneaky liberal kooks whose sole mission in life is to corrupt our minds through product placement. Which may be largely true, but not in all cases.

Cameron, of Woody's Woundup recently discovered that an anti-LDS book was being featured on an Easter display at the bookstore where he works.

Irked, he wrote a letter.

The book is Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven . . . . It is not a happy or religiously inspirational book to read, certainly. The back cover alone, which describes the Mormon church as "Taliban-like", would be amusing in some other context. The book itself is less amusing, arguing that Mormons - all Mormons, and not just a few polygamist nutjobs - are potentially violent, perhaps murderously so, precisely because of our religion. (Yes, I am Mormon.)

Well, Krakauer is certainly free to have such a view and to write it, just as B&N is free to sell his book in an open market place.

What I want to know is, how did this book end up on two - count them, 2 - different displays on Barnes & Noble's display tables? And, in regards to at least one table, I'm talking about Store List books, books that some yahoo in a cubicle in Marketing at B&N's headquarters has decided need to be displayed on specific tables or endcaps in the store.

Under the Banner of Heaven appears on both the "Religion & Inspiration" table and, amazingly, the Easter table.

It boggles the mind. Unless I missed one, Krakauer's book is the ONLY negatively-themed book on BOTH tables. As it is frankly a sloppily-researched attack on a major religion, what is it doing on these displays?

I read that post by Cameron, and figured it would turn out to be a venting experience for him, with no expectation of any response from the corporate monolith. But I was mistaken.

B&N wrote back.

You are absolutely correct. Under the Banner of Heaven should never have been included with the Easter display we are glad you took the time to bring this to our attention. It was an oversight on the buyers end, and we hope you accept our apologies. It is never our intention to insult our customers or our Booksellers.

There is a message that went out on BN.Inside today instructing the stores to remove the title from the Easter table and place it in Trade Paperback Favorites.

Stunning. You know, if I wasn't already a big B&N fan, they would certainly have earned my business for such a prompt and reasonable response to Cameron's letter. And kudos to Cameron for making the effort. I would've assumed I'd be ignored, and probably done nothing.

Posted by annika, Apr. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 11, 2006

California Poll Numbers

In California, Bush surpasses Carter...

Only 32 percent of registered voters approve of the job Bush is doing, while 62 percent disapprove, according to the statewide Field Poll released Tuesday.

. . .

Carter had a 66 percent disapproval and 33 percent approval rating in July 1980.

...while Congress ties Nixon.
Californians' views on the legislative branch were even more negative with 66 percent disapproving of the job Congress is doing and just 24 percent approving.
Nixon hit 24% in August 1974, just before he resigned.

Anybody wanna go for Fillmore?

Posted by annika, Apr. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 07, 2006

Well Do Ya... Punk?

VDH has been boring for a while now, but today he published a must-read piece at NRO, dealing with the subject of nuclear brinksmanship and "craziness" as a foreign policy tool.

One of my favorite history professors at Cal believed that the Vietnam War could be explained by the theory of "craziness" as a geopolitical device. In other words, our foreign policy led us to demonstrate to our allies and our enemies the extreme lengths we would go to promote our interests around the world. "Why else," he asked, "would we send so many boys to fight and die for a piece of land that had absolutely no strategic value to us?"

Looking beyond the obvious liberal slant to his question, I think my professor recognized a truth of realpolitik. A little unpredictability in foreign policy is a good thing. Recent American administrations have proven this fact. Nobody could have expected presidents Ford through Clinton to do what George W. Bush is doing right now in Iraq. They would not have been willing to withstand the political price of a hugely unpopular war. And one result of that perceived unwillingness is the war we are now in.

So if American power can be wielded by a president, despite intense opposition at home and abroad, for a project with such an uncertain outcome... what won't we do?

Bush's "crazy" foreign policy has breathed new life into JFK's pledge, made forty-five years ago:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
Iranian president Ahmadinejad knows the value of apparent "craziness" too. (Although, in his case, it may not be an act.) Professor Hanson points out the method to Ahmadinejad's madness:
The Islamic world lost their Middle Eastern nuclear deterrent with the collapse of the Soviet Union . . . . But with a nuclear Islamic Iran, the mullahs can claim that a new coalition against Israel would not be humiliated — or at least not annihilated when it lost — since the Iranians could always, Soviet-like, threaten to go nuclear. There are surely enough madmen in Arab capitals who imagine that, at last, the combined armies of the Middle East could defeat Israel, with the guarantee that a failed gambit could recede safely back under an Islamic nuclear umbrella.

Lastly, Iran can threaten Israel and U.S. bases at will, in hopes of getting the same sort of attention and blackmail subsidies it will shortly obtain from the Europeans, who likewise are in missile range. All failed states want attention — who, after all, would be talking about North Korea if it didn’t have nukes? So, in terms of national self-interest, it is a wise move on the theocracy’s part to acquire nuclear weapons, especially when there is no India on the border to play a deterrent role to an Iran in the place of Pakistan.

And of course the Iranians have devised a very crafty plan to achieve this end, based on the failed but workable strategy Saddam Hussein employed to "play" the U.N. and Europe.
First, they conduct military exercises, showing off novel weapons systems with purportedly exotic capabilities, while threatening to unleash terror against global commerce and the United States. It may be a pathetic and circus-like exercise born of desperation, but the point of such military antics is to show the West there will be some real costs to taking out Iranian nuclear installations.

Second, Iranians simultaneously send out their Westernized diplomats to the U.N. and the international media to sound sober, judicious, and aggrieved — pleading that a victimized Iran only wants peaceful nuclear energy and has been unfairly demonized by an imperialistic United States. The well-spoken professionals usually lay out all sorts of protocols and talking-points, all of which they will eventually subvert — except the vacuous ones which lead nowhere, but nevertheless appeal to useful Western idiots of the stripe that say “Israel has a bomb, so let’s be fair.”

Third, they talk, talk, talk — with the Europeans, Chinese, Russians, Hugo Chavez, anyone and everyone, and as long as possible — in order to draw out the peace-process and buy time in the manner of the Japanese militarists of the late 1930s, who were still jawing about reconciliation on December 7, 1941, in Washington.

During this tripartite approach, the Iranians take three steps forward, then one back, and end up well on their way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite all the passive-aggressive noisemaking, they push insidiously onward with development, then pause when they have gone too far, allow some negotiations, then are right back at it. And we know why: nuclear acquisition for Iran is a win-win proposition.

Any other American administration would be content to worry, and twiddle its thumbs, and talk tough, and worry some more, and ultimately do nothing. Any other American president might be ignored, as "all talk and no action." And even though the best solution to the Iranian problem might actually be one that requires "all talk and no action," the perception that we might just be "crazy" enough to resort to action is worth a hell of a lot of talk.
So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.
In other words, "do you feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?"

Posted by annika, Apr. 7, 2006 | link | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 04, 2006

Annika's Theorem

Delay provides further proof for my previously stated theorem: Take the over.

Posted by annika, Apr. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

April 03, 2006

Five Years! (my brain hurts a lot...)


Hans Blix, the former United Nations chief weapons inspector, spoke some encouraging words of optimism today. Speaking to a Norwegian news agency, he gave us all the benefit of his expert opinion.

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said Monday that Iran is a least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, leaving time to peacefully negotiate a settlement.

Blix, attending an energy conference in western Norway, said he doubted the U.S. would resort to invading Iran.

"But there is a chance that the U.S. will use bombs or missiles against several sites in Iran," he was quoted by Norwegian news agency NTB as saying. "Then, the reactions would be strong, and would contribute to increased terrorism."

Blix said there is still time for dialogue over Iran's nuclear enrichment program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West fears is part of a secret nuclear weapons program.

"We have time on our side in this case. Iran can't have a bomb ready in the next five years," Blix was quoted as saying.

Blix, also a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, urged the United States to take its time, as it is doing in a similar nuclear standoff with North Korea.

"The U.S. has given itself time and is negotiating with North Korea, while Iran got a very short deadline," he was quoted as saying.

Yes, the additional five years is great news. The U.S. can follow Blix's advice, and take advantage of this window of opportunity. We might get the Iranians to sign on to some sort of ironclad international agreement. More importantly, the extra five years should be enough time for an inspector who can ensure that Iran follows the agreement to arrive here on earth from the far side of the galaxy.

So like I said before, don't worry, be happy.

Posted by annika, Apr. 3, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 30, 2006

Advice For Political Wagering

Whenever a public figure insists he is not going to resign, take the over.

Posted by annika, Mar. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 28, 2006

Go Fish



In yet another striking display of tone-deafness, President Bush ignored critics of his administration by *gasp* failing to name a liberal as his new chief of staff.

Developing . . .

Update: A despondent David Gergen was seen crying in his beer at a Georgetown pub, muttering something about "number six."

Developing . . .

Posted by annika, Mar. 28, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 27, 2006

Guillermo Fariñas

Please find out about Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas and why he's on a hunger strike for what you and I take for granted. Start at The Cotillion and Fausta's Blog.

Posted by annika, Mar. 27, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 24, 2006

Bad Move

I loved the book Reagan's War, by Peter Schweizer. It tells the story of Reagan's lifelong commitment to anti-communism. The most striking thing about Reagan's foreign policy was the breadth of his offensive against the Eastern Bloc. It wasn't just the overt moves: the arms race, SDI, the summits. He put a lot of resources into more subtle efforts to encourage democracy, most notably support for Poland's Solidarity movement. He also revitalized the Voice of America, which had lost sight of its original purpose as a propaganda tool.

No serious person doubts that Reagan's multi-pronged offensive worked. We should be using the same combination of threats, negotiation and propaganda against Iran. But Congress doesn't see it that way, as reported by ThreatsWatch:

From the House Committee on Appropriations comes word of the failure to fully fund the $75M requested by the administration to assist in broadcast/ telecast/ satellite communication efforts into the people of Iran.
"Promotion of Democracy in Iran - The committee did not fund the $75 million requested by the Administration for the promotion of democracy in Iran because it was poorly justified. Instead, $56 million was provided through proven, existing programs that will have an immediate, positive impact on the fostering of democratic ideals in Iran."
. . .

The $75M was not enough and, as it was, decades late in the game. To see Congress slash the belated efforts by nearly one-third out of the gate, in light of the current urgency, borders on disconcerting.

Sometimes I suspect that there are folks in Congress who are not just clueless, but actively working to harm the people who elected them.

The Iranian problem is a very tough one, and we're in a situation which requires a creative solution. Of all the options available to us, encouraging regime change from within Iran is the least unattractive, in my opinion. Thus, I don't think now is the time to be skimping on resources devoted to that end.

Posted by annika, Mar. 24, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 16, 2006

Airborne Assault

Woke up to this news today:

U.S. forces, joined by Iraqi troops, on Thursday launched the largest airborne assault since the U.S.-led invasion, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital, the military said.

The military said the operation was aimed at clearing 'a suspected insurgent operating area' northeast of Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, and was expected to continue over several days.

'More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the operation,' the military statement said of the attack designed to 'clear a suspected insurgent operating area northeast of Samarra,' 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The province is a major part of the so-called Sunni triangle where insurgents have been active since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion three years ago.
Saddam Hussein was captured in the province, not far from its capital and his hometown, Tikrit.

Waqas al-Juwanya, a spokesman for
Iraq's joint coordination center in nearby Dowr, said 'unknown gunmen exist in this area, killing and kidnapping policemen, soldiers and civilians.'

Near the end of the first day of the operation, the military said, 'a number of enemy weapons caches have been captured, containing artillery shells, explosives, IED-making materials, and military uniforms.'

Noticeably absent from the story was any mention of "civilian deaths" or any quotes from the "insurgents" point of view. That may come later, but for now I'm proud of the AP writer.

Posted by annika, Mar. 16, 2006 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 14, 2006

"Civil War" Semantics

What exactly is "civil war" and is Iraq really edging closer to it?

Iraqi authorities discovered at least 87 corpses — men shot to death execution-style — as Iraq edged closer to open civil warfare. Twenty-nine of the bodies, dressed only in underwear, were dug out of a single grave Tuesday in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad.

. . .

Police began unearthing bodies early Monday, although the discoveries were not immediately reported. The gruesome finds continued throughout the day Tuesday, police said, marking the second wave of sectarian retribution killings since bombers destroyed an important Shiite shrine last month.

In the mayhem after the golden dome atop the Askariya shrine in Samarra was destroyed on Feb. 22, more than 500 people have been killed, many of them Sunni Muslims and their clerics. Dozens of mosques were damaged or destroyed.

Underlining the unease in the capital, Interior Ministry officials announced another driving ban, from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 4 p.m. Thursday to protect against car and suicide bombs while the Iraqi parliament meets for the first session since the Dec. 15 election.

Okay. Sounds like there's been some violence. Nothing new there. The government is taking steps to limit further violence. Also to be expected. But where is the support for the assertion that this recent violence is something new ― something different than the insurgency that has been going on since 2003?

People are throwing the term "civil war" around a lot lately, and I think it's interesting that nobody defines what that means. So I looked to that unassailable source, the Wikipedia, which has this to say:

A civil war is a war in which parties within the same country or empire struggle for national control of state power. As in any war, the conflict may be over other matters such as religion, ethnicity, or distribution of wealth. Some civil wars are also categorized as revolutions when major societal restructuring is a possible outcome of the conflict. An insurgency, whether successful or not, is likely to be classified as a civil war by some historians if, and only if, organized armies fight conventional battles. Other historians state the criteria for a civil war is that there must be prolonged violence between organized factions or defined regions of a country (conventionally fought or not). In simple terms, a Civil War is a war in which a country fights another part of itself. [links omitted]
More enlightenment can be found in the classic text, The American Constitution, Its Origins And Development, which describes the semantic issue in the context of the American Civil War:
An insurrection is legally construed to be an organized and armed uprising for public political purposes; it may seek to overthrow the government, or it may seek merely to suppress certain laws or to alter administrative practice. A rebellion in general is considered to have a much more highly developed political and military organization than an insurrection; in international law it conveys belligerent status. Generally, such belligerent status implies that the belligerent government is attempting by war to free itself from the jurisdiction of the parent state, that it has an organized de facto government, that it is in control of at least some territory, and that it has sufficient proportions to render the issue of the conflict in doubt. An international war, on the other hand, is one between two or more independent states who are recognized members of the family of nations.

In international law the rights of parties to an armed conflict vary greatly with their status. Insurgents have a very limited status; they are not mere pirates or bandits, but their activities do not constitute 'war' in the de jure sense, and they cannot claim against neutrals the privileges of the laws of war. A full rebellion, on the other hand, is a 'war' so far as international law is concerned and the rebel government possesses all the belligerent rights of a fully recognized international state, toward both neutrals and the parent state. Needless to say, a parent state may attempt by force to suppress either an insurrection or a rebellion. In domestic law rebels may be criminals in the eyes of the parent state, and answerable to its courts if their movement fails. (Kelly, Harbison and Belz, The American Constitution, Its Origins And Development, 1955, 6th ed. at pp. 306-07.)

In the American Civil War, the Confederacy tried to define the conflict as an international war. Obviously, the Federals tried to define it as an insurrection. In truth, it was a rebellion. But the historic distinctions are interesting when applied to what's going on in Iraq.

I think it's clear that there is no civil war yet, by any accepted definition of the term. Can it happen? Perhaps, but there would need to be a lot more organization on the part of the al Qaeda and Baathists who are currently running the opposition. I think that's a long way off. Right now, it's just an ad hoc campaign of violence, much like a gang war, with no clearly articulated end other than to chase the US out.

Posted by annika, Mar. 14, 2006 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

March 09, 2006

For Those Keeping Score . . .

. . . it's President Bush - 0, the base - 2

Posted by annika, Mar. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
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February 23, 2006

UAE, Our Great Ally In The War On Terror...

. . . does not recognize "U.S. economic sanctions on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries," according to the Wall Street Journal. Since WSJ is a subscription site, I will quote the article at length, which I found at Michelle Malkin's blog.

Dubai is believed to have been one of the most important conduits for Iran's nuclear technology acquisition program, according to U.S. court cases and interviews with experts in the field. The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, a nongovernment advocacy group, last year published a list of 38 weapons-related smuggling cases since 1982 in which the goods moved through Dubai and the other islands that constitute the United Arab Emirates. Most of the illicit goods crossing Dubai go through its ports.

More generally, according to sanctions experts and numerous U.S. court and regulatory cases, Iran uses Dubai to evade U.S. economic sanctions on Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. The UAE doesn't recognize those sanctions.

Iranian front companies in Dubai routinely obtain prohibited U.S. goods, federal court records show. In one undercover investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that resulted in a November 2005 guilty plea in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the representative of an Iranian front company was caught on tape assuring an undercover agent posing as a businessman not to worry about sanctions regulations.

'You are going to export to Dubai, which does not have any regulations. It's a free, uh, country for importing, exporting,' said Khalid Mahmood, according to his guilty plea. Asked if the equipment would then be shipped to Iran, Mr. Mahmood replied, 'Once it comes here, we'll ship it anywhere in the world, no problem.'

Similarly, in 2003, UAE officials refused a U.S. request to intercept a shipment of nuclear technology bound for South Africa by a smuggler named Asher Karni, according to University of Georgia sanctions expert Scott Jones, who works with U.S. agencies on proliferation issues. Mr. Karni was convicted of violating sanctions against weapons of mass destruction last year in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The UAE also was believed to be a nexus for Pakistan's nuclear program and hosted at least two front companies that forwarded material to Islamabad. [emphasis added]

So what. Trust the President. Don't worry. Be happy. Right?

Posted by annika, Feb. 23, 2006 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
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February 22, 2006

Limbaugh's Sophistry

Surprisingly or not, Rush Limbaugh has come out in support of the administration's decision to back the UAE port deal. His sophistry on the issue is just the type of thing that makes it impossible for me to like the guy consistently.

Rush asks "why would they spend billions of dollars to do something they can do cheaply?" He means that the terrorists could always put a bomb inside a container and ship it. They don't need to buy a port operations company to achieve the same thing.

You see the sophistry? Opponents of this deal aren't saying that Al Qaeda is buying the British concern. Or that the UAE is run by terrorists. That's just silly. And it shows how little Rush thinks of his audience, that he thinks he can slip such an argument past us.

I find myself agreeing with Rush Limbaugh more often than not. But it's only due to the inherent strength of the conservative point of view, not because Rush is especially trustworthy or even likeable. And on this point he's dead wrong.

Rush also says that keeping port operations out of the hands of the UAE won't stop terrorists from infiltrating security. "They can do that now," he says. Well, Rush likes football, so how about this analogy. It's like saying no one should rush Donovan McNabb, because he can always get rid of the ball. In football, and in the War On Terror, you know your opponent is trying to score on you. It's not your job to make it easier for him. Quite the opposite. In war and in football you gotta play the percentages.

Posted by annika, Feb. 22, 2006 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 21, 2006

President Misplaces Shield

On September 20, 2001, George W. Bush gave one of the great presidential addresses in modern history. In it he made this vow:

It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal. We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass. Each of us will remember what happened that day, and to whom it happened. We'll remember the moment the news came -- where we were and what we were doing. Some will remember an image of a fire, or a story of rescue. Some will carry memories of a face and a voice gone forever.

And I will carry this: It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died at the World Trade Center trying to save others. It was given to me by his mom, Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son. This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end.

I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

Today, President Bush asked the following rhetorical question:
I don't understand why it's OK for a British company to operate our ports but not a company from the Middle East when we've already determined security is not an issue.
And I ask this: What happened to that police shield that's supposed to be in your pocket, Mr. President? What will you tell the victims and their families if port security does turn out to be "an issue?"

This is a big mistake.

Update: Ken sees a parallel with the border situation.

Like the border with Mexico, the President seems to be tone deaf when it comes to guarding our borders. He seems to think it is more important to play nice with Mexico than it is to keep millions of illegal aliens from entering the country. I believe the same mind set the President uses towards Mexico is the same he is employing to rationalize the UAE takeover of our ports. Both situations are wrong and risk our national security.
Update 2: the best argument I have read on the subject was written, not suprisingly, by Hugh Hewitt.

Posted by annika, Feb. 21, 2006 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
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February 19, 2006

And What Do We Do With Witches?

Burrrrn them!

A Muslim pop singer has been forced to hire bodyguards to protect her during a visit to Britain next month after she received a string of death threats from religious extremists.

US-based Deeyah is due in London next month to promote a new single and video, released tomorrow. But the track 'What Will It Be?' has already outraged hardline Islamists here as it promotes women's rights.

Her performances with a clutch of male dancers and revealing outfits have also deeply offended many Muslims. In one scene in her latest video, the singer drops a burqa covering her body to reveal a bikini.

Oh the horror!
The 28-year-old singer claims that in the past she has been spat upon in the street and told that her family would be in danger if she did not tone down her work. The situation is now so bad that Deeyah feels she cannot visit Britain without protection. 'I can no longer walk around without specially assigned bodyguards' . . . I would be lying if I said abuse from religious fanatics didn't upset or scare me.

. . .

'I have been on the verge of a breakdown. Middle-aged men have spat at me in the street and I have had people phone me and tell me they were going to cut me up into pieces. I became this figure of hate simply because of what I do and wear.'

More Deeyah biographical info here.

I can't tell you whether I like her music, because I can't find any samples on the web and she's not on iTunes. Then again, it doesn't really matter. Now that Muslim extremists have been granted an absolute veto power over anything "offensive," I don't really expect to be seeing Deeyah at the top of the Billboard charts anytime soon.

Here's some lyrics i was able to find, from the offending song, "What Will It Be."

From the land of the free to the jewel of the empire
Does the truth only come from the top of a holy man's spire?
From three paces back, covered head to toe
Are the rules just for the masses and written just for show?

. . .

Do you stand up, lay down or follow?
What will it be?
Will it all be the same again tomorrow?
What will it be?
You can claim it but the words are hollow
Do you stand up, lay down or swallow?
What will it be?

. . .

We don't take it lightly when you threatinin women,
How you have so much hate and faith in religion.
Fake in the system, need to take a break wit the dissin,
Before you end up in the lake where they fishin.
Hearin bout the muslim madona, asian J Lo,
Lookin for drama (OK) if you say so.
If you that religious and not with trendy clothes,
Then what you doin' even watchin' videos.

I think this chick has a death wish. But as Oprah might say, You go girl!

Update: Listen to Deeyah here.

[cross-posted at A Western Heart]

Posted by annika, Feb. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 18, 2006

News Flash: Dick Cheney Was Careless

I just don't get all the hub-bub about whether Dick Cheney shot Whittington at 30 yards or at 30 feet or whatever. What's the point of that argument? If he fired at some closer range does that mean he was extra-super careless instead of just careless? Where are the Cheney critics going with this argument?

Oh I know. The theory goes something like this:

If Cheney lied about the distance it means he lied about WMD. We can't have a Vice President who goes around shooting people. He's reckless. He's evil evil evil. Halliburton Halliburton Halliburton. AAAAAAAgh!!!

[head explodes]

You can only clutch at straws for so long until you run out of straws.

Like that? I just made that one up.

I love how people are saying Cheney was drunk. Like that disqualifies you from being a world leader. I think Churchill put that one to rest sixty years ago.

Look everybody. This was an unfortunate accident, but it's not going to get anybody impeached. Bush and Cheney are going to finish out their term. Get used to it.

Posted by annika, Feb. 18, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 15, 2006

Gotta Love The Beeb

The BBC, no surprise, was one of the many media outlets that refused to show the twelve Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Their excuse was as lame and hypocritical as any other you've seen:

We recognised that among our users there is a wide range of different cultural sensitivities and that the images would cause genuine offence to some.
Tut, tut. Don't want to give offence you know. So sorry about that freedom of the press thing you Yanks are always on about.

Of course, they forgot to mention anything about that fear of gettin' blowed up thing. There's that too.

Interestingly, the Beeb has no problem with potentially offending Muslims when there is no chance that their offices will become targets for retaliation.

Exhibit A: the BBC didn't hesitate to plaster their website with the newest Abu Ghraib photos. Are they really taking the position that those photographs would not "cause genuine offence to some?" Or is the reason for their newfound boldness the fact that any retaliation would be directed at American troops, not journalists whose lives are, as everyone knows, worth more than the rest of ours.

I also love the disclaimer they added to the link in the main story.

Warning: You may find some pictures disturbing
The obvious rhetorical question seems to be: why wasn't such a disclaimer good enough to allow them to publish the cartoons?

Oh, yeah. It's that darn "gettin blowed up" problem.

Posted by annika, Feb. 15, 2006 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 10, 2006

Worlds Apart


Posted by annika, Feb. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
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February 05, 2006

What? Was Hugh G. Rection Unavalable?


I looked all over my favorite humorous blogger sites and I couldn't find anyone who took a shot at the obvious joke. I guess everybody's too busy blogging about the cartoon rioting I blogged about ages ago, although I didn't get any awards for having done so. Do I have to do everything? Well here goes.



Despite stiff opposition, House Republicans selected Ohio Representative John Boehner as Majority Leader on Friday.

"This appointment might be hard-on his family, but Boehner's a real stand-up guy," said one observer. "He always seems to rise to the occasion."

Others were more skeptical. "Woody make a good leader? It's hard to say," said one deflated opponent.

Boehner was visibly excited about his new job. "I'm so pumped up right now, i can barely contain myself," he said. "I look forward to coming to work and plugging away until I'm exhausted."

Posted by annika, Feb. 5, 2006 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

February 04, 2006

Can She Do "Positive?"

I just got done watching a tape of Hillary's sit-down interview with Jane Pauley at the Masonic Auditorium in San Francisco. The event was held on January 28th and sponsored by the San Francisco Bar Association. I've never forced myself to listen to Hillary for as long as I did tonight. It was difficult.

The substance of what she said was unremarkable, except for one outrageous statement. She would have us believe that President Bush is deliberately trying to prevent the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast in order to stop democratic voters from returning to the area. Naturally, the fellow travelers in the audience ate that craziness up. Pauley was only there to suggest topics for Hillary to pontificate on, not to challenge any logical inconsistencies in what her guest of honor might say.

Otherwise, Hillary's chat was a real snooze-fest. Her great handicap is the opposite of Bill's great strength. She is simply not a very charismatic person in public. She can do the subtle-cynical dig well enough for a sophisticated an admiring audience of San Francisco lawyers. She can do the criticism thing. She can do sarcasm and condescention. She can be a pompous know-it-all too. But can she do the "positive" thing?

I hate the positive thing myself. But that's because I ― like you, and like the people in the audience at the Masonic ― am a very sophisticated political junkie. We all have a well developed sense of irony and cynicism, which we either supress or put to use as needed, in service of our chosen party.

Of course, presidential elections are not won or lost by the votes of sophisticates like us. In this country, it's the wobbly middle 20% of voters who decide elections. Those folks who can't be bothered to decide until the last minute respond best to a focused, positive message, often repeated.

The simple positive message worked for Kennedy in '60, Carter in '76, Reagan in '80 and '84, and Bush in 2000 and 2004. Guys who couldn't deliver the simple positive message include Stevenson, McCarthy, Ford, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. In 1980, Carter lost the ability to present that kind of message after he had fucked up the country so badly.

I think Hillary will have a hard time with the "positive" thing. She'll raise money alright, and she'll have large cheering crowds wherever she goes. Actually, the cheering crowds and the money are part of the problem for any Democrat today. It's easy to get the money and applause by negativity and vitriol, but then they forget the positive and upbeat mesages that win elections.

Keep in mind that wobbly 20% when you hear the press and the polls telling you how great Hillary's doing two years from now. Hillary can re-work her image only so much. I don't think you can learn charisma, and she's constitutionally incapable of being pleasant or upbeat, let alone positive. But then, she's a Democrat, and her party has completely abandoned positive ideas in favor of unfocused negativity.

Posted by annika, Feb. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (27) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 30, 2006

A Little Change For This Year

Normally a response to the State of the Union address is released after the president's speech. In an interesting procedural twist, the Democratic response was released beforehand this year.

Posted by annika, Jan. 30, 2006 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 25, 2006

Shame On Google

Screw democratic idealism, Google takes the money.

Google's launch of a new, self-censored search engine in China is a 'black day' for freedom of expression, a leading international media watchdog says.
Reporters Without Borders joined others in asking how Google could stand up for US users' freedoms while controlling what Chinese users can search for.

Its previous search engine for China's fast-growing market was subject to government blocks.

The new site - Google.cn - censors itself to satisfy Beijing.

. . .

It is believed that sensitive topics are likely to include independence for Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as human rights and democracy in China generally.

That pesky human rights again. Like CNN in pre-war Iraq, Google would rather stay in the market than actually stand up for something noble.
Google argues it would be more damaging to pull out of China altogether and says that in contrast to other search engines, it will inform users when access is restricted on certain search terms.
"More damaging" to whom? Google shareholders I'd guess.

Unbelievable Update: Google founder Sergey Brin, in a lame attempt to defend Google's decision, actually compared censorship of information about Taiwanese independence, the Tiananmen massacre, human rights and democracy with censorship of child pornography! Sort of.

Brin: . . . [W]e also by the way have to do similar things in the U.S. and Germany. We also have to block certain material based on law. The U.S., child pornography, for example . . .
I like how Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, summed this up:
I'm sure Google justifies this by saying it's just a couple of search words that people can't get to, but it's very difficult for Google to do what they just did and avoid the slippery slope. The next thing [China will] do is ask [Google] to tell them who is searching for 'Taiwan' or 'independence' or 'human rights.' And then it's going to find itself in the position of turning over the names of dissidents or simply of inquisitive individuals, for imprisonment.

The key in my view is that every company faces the same dilemma -- how do you maintain your principles while benefiting from the enormous Chinese market. And the answer is only going to come through safety in numbers. And it's going to require all of the search engines to get together and say 'None of us will do this.' And China needs search engines. If it can pick them off one at a time, it wins. If it faces all of the search engines at once banding together, the search engines win.

Google's got a great philosophy of 'Do No Evil.' And I'm sure they say well, 'It's better for us to be there than for us not to be there and there are just a few things that people can't search for.' . . . I would have expected better from Google.

Not me.

Posted by annika, Jan. 25, 2006 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 19, 2006

Tell Me What You Think?

Should the U.S. negotiate a truce with Al Qaeda? Yes or no, and why.

Posted by annika, Jan. 19, 2006 | link | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)
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January 17, 2006

Chocolate City

I don't really have a problem with what Ray Nagin said yesterday about New Orleans as a chocolate city. (I'm certainly no fan of Mayor Nagin, and I can't defend the other stuff he said. I think there should be a moratorium on public figures talking about why God does stuff. It always results in the speaker apologizing within a week, so why bother.)

A lot of people sound shocked at the words "chocolate city," but it's an old school phrase that I was first introduced to back when I worked as a temp in downtown Oakland. We used to bring in CDs to listen to while we shuffled paper. A friend of mine brought in the Parliament CD, which featured this title song:

Uh, what's happening CC?
They still call it the White House
But that's a temporary condition, too.
Can you dig it, CC?

To each his reach
And if I don't cop, it ain't mine to have
But I'll be reachin' for ya
'Cause I love ya, CC.
Right on.

There's a lot of chocolate cities, around
We've got Newark, we've got Gary
Somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta
But you're the capital, CC

Gainin' on ya!
Get down
Gainin' on ya!
Movin' in and on ya
Gainin' on ya!
Can't you feel my breath, heh
Gainin' on ya!
All up around your neck, heh heh

Hey, CC!
They say your jivin' game, it can't be changed
But on the positive side,
You're my piece of the rock
And I love you, CC.
Can you dig it?

Hey, uh, we didn't get our forty acres and a mule
But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
Gainin' on ya
Movin' in and around ya
God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya! (heh!)
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
What's happening, blood?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!

What's happening, black?
Brother black, blood even
Yeah-ahh, just funnin'

Gettin' down

Ah, blood to blood
Ah, players to ladies
The last percentage count was eighty
You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot
Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
Chocolate city
Are you with me out there?

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Easin' in
Gainin' on ya!
In yo' stuff
Gainin' on ya!
Huh, can't get enough
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Be mo' funk, be mo' funk
Gainin' on ya!
Can we funk you too
Gainin' on ya!
Right on, chocolate city!

Yeah, get deep
Real deep
Be mo' funk
Mmmph, heh
Get deep
Unh, heh
Just got New York, I'm told

It's a cool song, and the sentiment is about pride, not racism. I think there is real concern that the new New Orleans will become some kind of sanitized N.O. themed resort. I'd hate to see it become a city-sized Pleasure Island or Universal Citywalk. Mayor Nagin was just using a colloquial reference that his audience understood to assure them that New Orleans was going to stay real.

Posted by annika, Jan. 17, 2006 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 12, 2006

What Is The Goal Of Diplomacy?

There was quite a lengthy question and answer period yesterday with State Department spokesman Sean McCormack at his daily press briefing. The key quote is that the admistration now believes it is "more likely than ever" that Iran will be referred to the U.N. Security Council for resuming their nuclear research program.

I'll excerpt some of the press conference in detail because Mr. McCormack expanded on a question I had been pondering myself regarding the diplomatic option: Assuming we get Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council, what good is that going to do? You tell me if his answer makes you feel any better.

QUESTION: When you say this is likely to go to the Security Council, what is the goal of . . . sending it to the UN Security Council? Is it an effort to institute some punitive measures against Iran? Is it an effort to increase pressure on Iran to get it back to the negotiating table? I mean, what is the aim of actually moving it to the Council?

MR. MCCORMACK: Thanks for your question. As we have talked about, the goal of these diplomatic activities is to address Iran's failure to live up to its international obligations. Under -- countries sign treaties and under those treaties they say that they have certain rights. Well, along with those rights come certain obligations, to live up to the -- what you have signed up to in the treaty. In this case, it's the Nonproliferation Treaty.

The IAEA Board of Governors has found that Iran is in noncompliance with its treaty obligations. The goal of this diplomatic exercise is to bring Iran into compliance with its treaty obligations.

Now, what they say is that they want to be able to develop a peaceful nuclear program to provide energy for the Iranian people. Now, put aside the fact that they have some of the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, and I think it's a legitimate question to ask why they need nuclear energy when they have all these energy reserves. Put that aside.

So what the international community has done, the Russian Government in particular, they have laid out for the Iranian regime a proposal that addresses their desire to have peaceful nuclear -- to develop peaceful nuclear power while giving objective guarantees to the international community that they will not use the activities -- their peaceful nuclear power activities to develop a nuclear weapon. That is what the international community suspects that they are doing right now, that for the past 15-plus years, they have, under the cover of a peaceful nuclear program, sought to develop, systematically, a nuclear weapons program.

Now, finally, these activities have come to light. The IAEA has a long list of questions concerning these activities. The EU-3 has grave concerns about Iran's activities. Russia has serious concerns about Iran's activities. We have gotten to the point now where the world understands that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. That would be a destabilizing event.

So, over the past year, the international community has come together. They have come together to try to send a clear, strong message to the Iranian regime to negotiate in a serious manner, to get Iran back in compliance with its NPT obligations. And the EU-3, as well as the Russian Government, have laid out serious, fair proposals to achieve that. Thus far, the Iranian Government has chosen not to take them up on those offers, so we now find ourselves in the position where, because of Iran's actions, it is more likely than ever they will find themselves before the Security Council on this issue.

QUESTION: But to what end? I mean, I know you said you --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think I just went through a long --

QUESTION: No, no, no, but -- I mean, are you trying to change Iranian behavior or are you just trying to cite them for noncompliance? I mean, you can do that at the IAEA.

MR. MCCORMACK: That’s what this has been about, changing their behavior.

QUESTION: So -- but through negotiations or through punitive measures?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have sought diplomatic -- to achieve a change in behavior and still seek to change Iranian's -- Iran's behavior through diplomatic channels.

QUESTION: So you still think there's a chance? (inaudible) made a rather strong speech about a month ago to a university in Virginia, I forget which, and -- you know, he was quite -- it was a quite ominous speech, that they have one more redline to cross. There are reports now that they got 5,000 centrifuges to go. There’s already platforms built for them and a nuclear weapons center. Do you really think there's still a way to keep them from developing nuclear weapons?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's why we're working so hard on this, Barry.


MR. MCCORMACK: That's why the President and the Secretary and a lot of other people in this government are spending so much time on this issue, because it is so important. It's serious business and that is, I think, the shared realization and the shared view of the -- many European countries and a number of other countries on the IAEA Board of Governors. That's why we're working so hard at this, Barry.

QUESTION: How does getting Iran into the Security Council further your goal of bringing them into compliance?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it is a diplomatic next step, Saul. They've already been found in noncompliance and the hope is that once they have now found themselves before the Security Council, that that would be an incentive for them to engage in serious negotiations on this issue. There have already -- as we talked about at length yesterday, there have already been consequences for Iran, in the fact that they find themselves almost completely isolated from the rest of the world on this -- most of the world on this issue.

You want to account for the fact that perhaps they have miscalculated in the steps that they have taken, their failure to engage in serious negotiations. So, the thought, again, as it always has been with the possibility of referral to the Security Council, is to send an even stronger diplomatic signal to the Iranian regime that they need to comply with their international treaty obligations. And the world will not stand aside as they drive towards building a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: But Sean, they did everything they possibly could to push it to the UN Security Council, because you said that if they don't come back to the negotiations, that's exactly where it's going. And they did exactly what they said they were going to do, knowing that you were going to refer them to the Security Council. So, what makes you think moving it to the Security Council is going to change their behavior when they knew all along it was going this --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, we have not gotten to that point, but if, in fact, Iran does end up at the Security Council -- the very fact that you are there, that they have crossed those lines that have caused the international community to put that issue before the Security Council, perhaps that is a signal that is strong enough to the Iranian regime that would get them to the negotiating table, in a serious way, to address these concerns.

. . .

QUESTION: . . . So, if I'm interpreting you correctly, the short-term goal is, get them referred to the UN Security Council so that they realize they've miscalculated -- so that they realize the international community really is serious about this and the consequence of that is, they go back to the negotiating table.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our hope has always been, Saul, to resolve this through diplomatic means through negotiation, so that -- and our hope is that Iran will change its behavior. That's why we go through these diplomatic processes. The process is not an end in and of itself. It's a means to an end. The end -- the desired end is to change Iranian behavior.
[emphasis added]

I think the unnamed reporter had it correct. Iran knew that the consequence of provoking the international community on this issue might be a referral to the Security Council. They also know that the wheels of international law move very slowly and uncertainly. The Iranians need time, and the diplomatic option gives them time.

Posted by annika, Jan. 12, 2006 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 11, 2006

Turning The Process Into A Game

I suppose I should be happy that the "new media" is around to do this kind of thing and keep everybody honest, but the following post at Blogs For Bush horrified me:

As of 3:00pm today, Judge Alito has already answered more questions than Justice Ginsburg did in her entire hearing.

Judge Alito:

441 Questions Asked
431 Answered
Answered 98 %

Justice Ginsburg:

384 Questions Asked
307 Answered
Answered 80%

So much for the Democrats' claims that Alito hasn't been forthcoming.

I'm horrified that the confirmation process has become so insanely partisan that my side is ready to bicker about percentages!

It's reductio ad absurdum.

Posted by annika, Jan. 11, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 10, 2006

Iran's Nuclear Timeline

From The Houston Chronicle, here's a history of Iran's nuclear mischief:

February-May 2003: International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors examine nuclear facilities in Iran, which the United States accuses of running a covert weapons program.

June 2003: IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says Iran kept certain nuclear materials and activities secret.

November 2003: The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says Iran acknowledged it produced weapons-grade uranium but there is no evidence a weapon was built.

December 2003: Iran formally signs the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to allow more intrusive inspections.

February 2004: Media reports say Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan delivered atomic weapons technology to Iran.

March 2004: The IAEA praises Iran's cooperation but criticizes past efforts to mislead the U.N. and urges Tehran to disclose all information concerning its nuclear program by June.

September 2004: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iran's nuclear program is a growing threat and calls for international sanctions.

November 2004: Iran announces the suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities amid fragile negotiations with European nations.

August 2005: Iran rejects a European Union offer of incentives in exchange for guarantees it will not pursue nuclear weaponry. Tehran announces it has resumed uranium conversion at Isfahan, and the IAEA calls an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis.

Sept. 17, 2005: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells U.N. Security Council it is Iran's "inalienable right" to produce nuclear fuel and rejects European offer of economic incentives to halt enrichment program.

Sept. 24, 2005: IAEA passes resolution calling Iran's nuclear program "illegal and illogical" and puts Tehran one step away from Security Council action on sanctions.

Nov. 11, 2005: Plans emerge for Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil.

Nov. 24, 2005: The European Union accuses Iran of possessing documents used solely for the production of nuclear arms, warns of possible referral to Security Council.

Jan. 8, 2006: Iran removes U.N. seals from nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, effectively ending a freeze on the process that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

Coming up, I see three more relevant and key dates.

First, the upcoming March date for Mohammed ElBaradei's report to the IAEA. The report should determine whether the U.N. Security Council will meet to impose sanctions, however impotent, against Iran.

Second, the March 28th special election in Israel, which will form the new government to replace Sharon's, and consequently determine Israel's response to the Iranian threat.

Third, the date Iran gets the bomb. Obviously, the third date is unknown, and therein lies the problem.

Update: On a theme that's more related to the title of my last post, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said today that sanctions against Iran would be imposed only as "a last resort." Wait a minute, I thought "military action" was always the last resort. I guess the unspoken but logical assumption here is that a military solution is off the table for the Europeans. Again.

Nice. Thanks guys.

I'm not advocating a military solution, which has many problems as some of my commenters have pointed out. But diplomacy without teeth is always doomed to failure.

Posted by annika, Jan. 10, 2006 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 09, 2006

Don't Make Me Laugh

Here's a good one:

Each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has told Iran to drop plans for new nuclear activities or risk being hauled before the body for possible sanctions, the Bush administration said Monday.

Although the United States and European allies have been sending that message for weeks, China and Russia are now doing the same, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

'We are working very closely with Russia, China and France and Britain on sending a clear message to the Iranians,' McCormack said.

[pause for laughter to die down]

This is exactly what the Iranians want us to do. They have no intention of negotiating away their nuclear ambition. Despite their double-talk, they've been very clear about that. I can't be the only one who gets this.

The Iranians have been very clear about another thing too:

Iran with the bomb = nuclear war.

Given that fact, nothing else in the news matters these days. Alito don't matter. Spielberg don't matter. DeLay don't matter. Kobe don't matter. Brokenback Mountain don't matter. Pink and Carey don't matter. O'Reilly and Letterman don't matter. Stern on Sirius don't matter. Pat Robertson's latest brain-fart don't matter. Schwarzenegger's fifteen stitches don't matter. etc. etc. etc.

Commentators all seem to be standing around, watching as this ship goes over the cliff. Or whatever. It's infuriating. I'd like to hear some intelligent discussion about what we should do about this big problem.

Update: More detail may be found at Arms Control Wonk.

Posted by annika, Jan. 9, 2006 | link | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

January 04, 2006

Here's Where You Need Unions

From L.A. Times:

The mine's federal health and safety violations had nearly doubled over the last year, rising from 68 citations in 2004 to 181 in 2005. Nearly half of the 2005 totals were deemed "significant and substantial," the government's term for serious mine safety problems. The deficiencies included problems with the firm's ventilation and roof support plans.

At least 46 federal violations had been cited since October. And records from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration indicated that at least a dozen roof collapses occurred in the last six months.

In addition, Terry Farley, a West Virginia mine safety official, confirmed that the Sago Mine was also cited by state regulators for 208 violations in 2005, up from 74 the year before.

Posted by annika, Jan. 4, 2006 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 23, 2005

i Give Up

Now there's a problem with warrantless radiation monitoring? How could anybody possibly object to that?

i give up. i really give up.

Why don't we just propose a new law next year to quiet all the critics? The Unconditional Surrender Act of 2006. It might look like this:



To restore the United States of America to the safety of its pre September 11, 2001 status. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


Section 101 FINDINGS

Congress makes the following findings:

(a) Life in the United States of America was easier when we didn't realize that there were people out there trying to kill us.

(b) Protecting the citizens of the United States from future terrorist attacks necessarily requires that difficult choices be made.

(c) Certain interest groups, including the news media, are very quick to criticize any every action taken by a Republican president, no matter how sensible such action may be.

(d) The elected members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America lack the collective guts to do the right thing in the face of media criticism or opposition by various nut-jobs such as Michael Moore or Cindy Sheehan and their ilk.

(e) By returning to a strategy of doing nothing and ignoring its enemies, Congress can invite a future attack on the territory and citizens of the United States of America.

(f) Such a future attack can be blamed on the President of the United States of America, thus allowing the Senate and House of Representatives to escape blame and responsibility therefor, and making it more likely that a change of political party control will occur in the executive and legislative branches of the government of the United States.


It is the sense of Congress that:

(a) People who have nothing to hide, generally do not complain about surveillance as much as those who do.

(b) People who oppose the use of the United States military are generally louder than those who support the United States military.

(c) Critics in the media, academia, and the entertainment industry will be satisfied only when the government of the United States gets out of the way of the people who want to kill us.



(a) Effective immediately, all operations by all personnel of the United States Department of Defense shall cease.

(b) All personnel and equipment under the authority and control of the United States Department of Defense, and located outside of the territory of the United States of America, shall be returned to locations within the United States of America as soon as practicable, and in no event later than thirty days from the date of enactment of this law.

(c) Hereafter, the use of any personnel, equipment or assets under the authority and control of the United States Department of Defense shall be limited to either of the following:

(1) The distribution of food, medicine and currency to the heads of state, or their representatives, of the following countries only: Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Brunei, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Gambia, Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. For purposes of this subsection, the phrase "heads of state or their representatives" shall include warlords and/or members of the executive branch of the United Nations General Assembly.

(2) The evacuation of American citizens under violent attack or after release from hostage captivity in the above listed countries.


(a) Effective immediately, all diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the state of Israel shall be severed and all diplomatic officers withdrawn and returned to their respective states.

(b) The 1949 Recognition of the State of Israel by the United States, is hereby rescinded, revoked and withdrawn.


Effective immediately,

(a) The United States Department of Customs and Border Protection shall be renamed the United States Department of Welcome and Transit.

(b) Every person located within the United States of America, or within any of its territories or possessions, either now or at any time in the future, who is not already a citizen of the United States, shall be deemed a citizen of the United States with all the rights pertaining thereto. Citizenship conferred to any person under this section shall:

(1) automatically extend to all members of said person's family, whether located within or outside the territory of the United States, and

(2) shall remain irrevocable in perpetuity, regardless of any criminal acts, including treason.

(c) No person travelling on a commercial airliner within the United States of America shall be searched or in any way impeded or delayed from entry into any airport terminal or airplane, unless he or she:
(1) is over the age of 70 years, or under the age of 10 years, and

(2) cannot claim ancestry from any of the countries listed in Title II of this Act, Section 201, subsection (c)(1), and

(3) is not carrying any weapon, explosive device or apparatus for remote detonation of an explosive device.

(d) No interception of any electronic communications by anyone shall ever be conducted upon anyone, ever, for any reason whatsoever.

(e) No person shall ever be arrested, investigated, kept under surveillance, watched or glanced at in a sideways manner if that person:

(1) is an immigrant from, can claim ancestry from, or ever spent time in a terrorist training camp in any of the countries listed in Title II of this Act, Section 201, subsection (c)(1),

(2) advocates or encourages any act of terrorism against citizens of the United States, or contributes money to any terrorist organization or enemy of the United States.


(a) No person shall ever be taken prisoner by any member of the United States Military, or any agent of a United States intelligence service, or any officer of any law enforcement agency operating within the United States if such person has committed, planned or conspired to commit a terrorist act, or in any way taken up arms against the military forces of the United States or those of any ally of the United States.

(b) All persons currently in custody for the above listed acts shall be immediately and permanently released, without interrogation, and after a full meal.

(c) All persons so released shall be provided legal counsel, at government expense, for the purpose of pursuing civil recovery for torts committed upon them while in government custody.


i'm still trying to think of an acronymic title for this bill.

Posted by annika, Dec. 23, 2005 | link | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 22, 2005

The M-Word

Mark Steyn:

These days, whenever something goofy turns up on the news, chances are it involves some fellow called Mohammed. A plane flies into the World Trade Center? Mohammed Atta. A gunman shoots up the El Al counter at Los Angeles airport? Hesham Mohamed Hedayet. A sniper starts killing gas-station customers around Washington, DC? John Allen Muhammed. A guy fatally stabs a Dutch movie director? Mohammed Bouyeri. A terrorist slaughters dozens in Bali? Noordin Mohamed. A British subject from Hounslow, West London, self-detonates in a Tel Aviv bar? Asif Mohammed Hanif. A gang rapist preys on the women of Sydney? Mohammed Skaf.

Maybe all these Mohammeds are victims of Australian white racists and American white racists and Dutch white racists and Israeli white racists and Balinese white racists and Beslan schoolgirl white racists. But the eagerness of the Aussie and British and Canadian and European media, week in, week out, to attribute each outbreak of an apparently universal phenomenon to strictly local factors is starting to look pathological. "Violence and racism are bad," but so is self-delusion.

Via Shelly.

For more background on Sydney's problem, see The Rise Of Middle Eastern Crime In Australia.

Via A Western Heart.

Posted by annika, Dec. 22, 2005 | link | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 21, 2005

Why Exactly The Filibuster?

Mike Chertoff today:

I spent a lot of years as a line prosecutor at the Department of Justice, and as the head of the Criminal Division in this building. Many of the tools which we are talking about using in the patriot act against terrorists are tools that have been used for years in the decades against drug dealers, or people involved in white collar crime. And they've been used effectively and they've been used without there being a significant impact on civil liberties.

The question I ask myself when I hear people criticize roving wiretaps, for example, is, why is this something that we use successfully and prudently in the area of dealing with marijuana importers, but yet a tool that people want to deny us in the war against people who want to import chemical weapons or explosives. That makes no sense to me.

Why is it, for example, that delayed notification search warrants, which again, we use in all kinds of garden variety criminal cases, with the supervision of a judge, why should that tool be denied to our investigators when they're seeking to go into a house with a search warrant to see if there are explosives there, or other kinds of weapons that can be used against Americans.

[It's] Common sense [that] the tools that have been used without any significant impact on civil liberties in a wide variety of cases over the last 10 or 20 years, ought to continue to be available here against perhaps the greatest threat we face in this country, which is the threat of terror.

Well put.

Posted by annika, Dec. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 20, 2005

German Quid Pro Quo

Germany has "secretly" released the Hezbollah murderer of an American Navy diver.

Apparently ignoring Washington's extradition request for Mohammed Ali Hamadi, German authorities have secretly released the Lebanese Hezbollah member who was serving a life sentence in the country for the hijacking of a TWA jet and for the murder of a US navy diver.

German prosecutors confirmed the release of Mohammed Ali Hamadi, now in his late 30s, to the Associated Press and said he was flown back to Lebanon last week.

Hamadi was convicted in 1989 by a German court of killing US Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem during the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight diverted to Beirut. He was sentenced to life without parole. His sentence is one Germany reserves for the most serious and cruel crimes. It is difficult but not impossible to release someone who receives such a sentence after 15 years.

Nice going krauts.

Two observations occur to me. One, this secret release is not so secret, is it? Nice to see that leaks are not something unique to the American government.

Second, this guy was supposedly sentenced to the worst sentence you can get in a place without the death penalty: life without the possibility of parole. Except NOW HE'S FREE!

That's kind of an argument for the death penalty, don't you think? At least in cases of international terrorism, where the continued earthly existence of the criminal becomes a blackmail opportunity for terrorists.

Germany, an entire nation with no balls.

Posted by annika, Dec. 20, 2005 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 19, 2005

Problem Solved

Bush seems to have his own "no controlling legal authority" problem now. He's straining the war powers and the congressional use of force resolution to justify his domestic wiretapping without a warrant. Well, after one semester of Con Law, i think i have found a way out of this mess. Simply invoke the Commerce Clause. It means whatever you want it to mean, you can use it to do anything, and Courts love expanding it. Only problem is getting it to cover executive action, but i'll leave that up to Alberto. Let him earn his keep and give some good advice for once.

Posted by annika, Dec. 19, 2005 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 18, 2005

Breaking News



Christiane Amanpour delivered the Democratic response to the president's speech on the Iraq War tonight. In a nutshell, she said we're losing.

Other democratic responses included the following:

Halliburton Halliburton. Bush spied, people died. Iraqis flying kites. Need specifics specifics timetable timetable pullout pullout. No WMDs.

blah blah blah blah zzzzzzzzz clunk.

Posted by annika, Dec. 18, 2005 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 14, 2005

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

In honor of Peter Jackson's latest film, here is some ape poetry:

Teaching The Ape To Write Poems

by James Tate

They didn't have much trouble
teaching the ape to write poems:
first they strapped him into the chair,
then tied the pencil around his hand
(the paper had already been nailed down).
Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder
and whispered into his ear:
"You look like a god sitting there.
Why don't you try writing something?"

Posted by annika, Dec. 14, 2005 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 13, 2005

The Media Is On The Side Of The Enemy, Update #1,439

This is beautiful.

Caught with their pants down again. You simply cannot trust the media to report the truth.

The media is on the side of the enemy.

Update: President Bush has now given four major speeches in recent weeks on the Iraq War. i see a new pattern emerging.

1. Democrats complain that Bush needs to explain his Iraq policy.

2. Republicans* admit Bush hasn't done a good job of explaining Iraq policy.

3. Bush explains Iraq policy in a major speech.

4. Media ignores major speech, but pulls one negative quote for headlines. ("30,000 civilians killed" or "Bush takes blame for faulty intel")

5. Go to #1, repeat cycle.

And in the meantime, everybody ignores the fact that Iraq continues to improve every day.

* myself included.

Posted by annika, Dec. 13, 2005 | link | Comments (29) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 11, 2005

Mike Wallace

An interesting interview with the one-time legend, now cranky drooler, Mike Wallace appeared in Thursday's Boston Globe. The irony of Wallace's answers to the first couple of questions was funny.

Q. President George W. Bush has declined to be interviewed by you. What would you ask him if you had the chance?

A. What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military. . . . The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?

Gee, i wonder why the President turned down an interview.

My first thought was that most of these questions could have been more appropriately directed to President Clinton, or President Carter while they were busy [expletive]-ing up the country in ways that our current President is now trying to fix.

And then, after showing what a blatantly biased hack he is, Wallace had the nerve to wonder why nobody cares about tv news anymore.

The days of Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley are gone. People still do watch, but it doesn't have the clout that it used to have. I don't know what's going to happen or if there will be an evening news 10 years from now.
Totally clueless.

Then Wallace is asked who he admired the most, out of all the people he's ever interviewed.

Martin Luther King. . . . Despite the gratitude he felt for what Lyndon Johnson did about relations between the races, Martin had the guts during the Vietnam War to say this is the wrong war, the wrong time, the wrong place.
That's unbelievable. Read it again, because the quote really gives us an insight into Wallace's mind.

Look at the choice of words: "gratitude" and "what Lyndon Johnson did." Wallace doesn't admire Martin Luther King for King's Civil Rights accomplishments. He clearly thinks those were gifts from the "great white father," LBJ.

Wallace thinks the most admirable thing about King was his opposition to the Vietnam War!

i don't know how anyone can gloss over King's great achievements, what he did to bring real voting rights, end segregation and Jim Crow, and change the way Americans think about themselves, and then say duhh, I liked him cuz he was anti-war.

Go away Mike Wallace, you had your day. Now you're just irritating.

Posted by annika, Dec. 11, 2005 | link | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 10, 2005

Tookie Prediction

Arnold is supposed to announce his Tookie decision today. He's not given me any reason to believe that he won't wimp out. i predict clemency.

Update: i would like to apologize now to Tookie Williams for predicting clemency. i should have known that i was probably jinxing his chances with the way my predictions have gone this year.

i suppose he can add me to the list of "motherfuckers" he warned at the end of his trial in 1981:

After the jury read their guilty verdict Williams, according to transcripts, looked to jurors and mouthed: 'I'm going to get each and every one of you motherf------.'
Nice guy. Good riddance.

Posted by annika, Dec. 10, 2005 | link | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 02, 2005

Another Anti-MSM Post

Ten Marines were killed by a roadside bomb near Fallujah today. This is tragic, obviously, and i'm exasperated that we haven't killed all them fuckers yet. But really, it only takes a couple of lowlifes to plant these bombs, and how many are discovered and destroyed without killing anybody? Yet everytime the enemy gets lucky, the anti-war media (who are on the side of the enemy) use the event to hammer another wedge into our resolve.

Here, Reuters Foundation Alertnet (i'm not sure what that is, but their slogan seems to be "Alerting Humanitarians to Emergencies," whatever that means.) chose to highlight the latest casualties by celebrating some past terrorist successes in Iraq.

Surprise, people die in a war. Civilians die. Soldiers die. Marines die. It's how wars are fought and won and lost. i understand the political reasons for not focusing attention on enemy body counts. It wasn't really a good indicator in Vietnam either. But i do detect a little bit of glee in these left wing media outlets, whenever some of ours die. How about a little perspective? How about a list of the "Deadliest Incidents" for the terrorists since we began kicking their asses over there? That list would be much longer.

But since the media is on the side of the enemy, they wouldn't want to publicize anything that might hurt enemy morale, or boost our own.

Update: Not all of the media is on the side of the enemy. Thank goodness for the exceptions.

Via Sarah.

Posted by annika, Dec. 2, 2005 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

December 01, 2005

MSM Non-Story Of The Week

i'm telling you, i'm perplexed by the media. Why is this a story?

Since early this year, the Information Operations Task Force in Baghdad has used Lincoln Group to plant stories in the Iraqi media that trumpet the successes of U.S. and Iraqi troops against insurgents, U.S.-led efforts to rebuild Iraq, and rising anti-insurgent sentiment among the Iraqi people, according to senior military officials and documents obtained by The Times.
So they paid the Iraqi editors to run the stories. So f-ing what. Why is this controversial? Why is this a bad thing? There's a war going on. i guess its only controversial if you don't care who wins. Or if you want the good guys to lose.

Posted by annika, Dec. 1, 2005 | link | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 22, 2005

The Next Weapons Controversy?

The NE round.

[I]t is a thermobaric mixture which ignites the air, producing a shockwave of unparalleled destructive power, especially against buildings.

A post-action report from Iraq describes the effect of the new weapon: 'One unit disintegrated a large one-storey masonry type building with one round from 100 meters. They were extremely impressed.' Elsewhere it is described by one Marine as 'an awesome piece of ordnance.'

It proved highly effective in the battle for Fallujah. This from the Marine Corps Gazette, July edition: 'SMAW gunners became expert at determining which wall to shoot to cause the roof to collapse and crush the insurgents fortified inside interior rooms.'

. . .

[I]t’s understandable that the Marines have made so little noise about the use of the SMAW-NE in Fallujah. But keeping quiet about controversial weapons is a lousy strategy, no matter how effective those arms are. In the short term, it may save some bad press. In the long term, it’s a recipe for a scandal. Military leaders should debate human right advocates and the like first, and then publicly decide 'we do/do not to use X'. Otherwise when the media find do find out – as they always do -- not only do you get a level of hysteria but there is also the charge of 'covering up.'

[The author is] undecided about thermobarics myself, but I think they should let the legal people sort out all these issues and clear things up. Otherwise you get claims of 'chemical weapons' and 'violating the Geneva Protocol.' Which doesn't really help anyone. The warfighter is left in doubt, and it hands propaganda to the bad guys. Just look at what happened it last week’s screaming over white phosphorous rounds.

Lawyers? Disproportionate force? Don't some of these same people want us to send 400,000 troops to Iraq. It's crazy. Do whatever works, i say.

In 1991 it was electric filaments that were inhumane. And they didn't even kill anybody. This time it's the white phosphorous nonsense. Nobody ever mentions that we used white phosphorous in World War II. If it wasn't for WP, it would have taken us much longer to break out of hedgerow country after D-Day. The world would be a different place, let me tell you.

Remember what Dupont said (or was it Monsanto?): "Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible."

Via commenter Shelly.

Posted by annika, Nov. 22, 2005 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Deafening Silence

Is it me, or is the blogosphere deafeningly silent on this story. i think it's huge, no matter which side you're on.

Posted by annika, Nov. 22, 2005 | link | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 21, 2005

"Boogie To Baghdad"

As far as i am concerned, there was one main reason Iraq was a serious threat to the United States. It's why Saddam Hussein had to go, and it's why Iraq needed to be turned into a U.S. friendly democracy.

The reason was, in the words of Richard Clarke, "Boogie to Baghdad." Byron York wrote about it in his most recent column:

In case you don’t remember, 'Boogie to Baghdad' is the phrase that Richard Clarke, when he was the top White House counterterrorism official during the Clinton administration, used to express his fear that if American forces pushed Osama bin Laden too hard at his hideout in Afghanistan, bin Laden might move to Iraq, where he could stay in the protection of Saddam Hussein.

Clarke’s opinion was based on intelligence indicating a number of contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq, including word that Saddam had offered bin Laden safe haven.

It’s all laid out in the Sept. 11 commission report. 'Boogie to Baghdad' is on Page 134.

i checked, skeptical person that i am. Here's the relevant quote from the Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:
In February 1999, [CIA assistant director for collection, Charles] Allen proposed flying a U-2 mission over Afghanistan to build a baseline of intelligence outside the areas where the tribals had coverage. [Richard] Clarke was nervous about such a mission because he continued to fear that Bin Ladin might leave for someplace less accessible. He wrote Deputy National Security Advisor Donald Kerrick that one reliable source reported Bin Ladin's having met with Iraqi officials, who 'may have offered him asylum.' Other intelligence sources said that some Taliban leaders, though not Mullah Omar, had urged Bin Ladin to go to Iraq. If Bin Ladin actually moved to Iraq, wrote Clarke, his network would be at Saddam Hussein's service, and it would be 'virtually impossible' to find him. Better to get Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Clarke declared. Berger suggested sending one U-2 flight, but Clarke opposed even this. It would require Pakistani approval, he wrote; and 'Pak[istan's] intel[ligence service] is in bed with' Bin Ladin and would warn him that the United States was getting ready for a bombing campaign: 'Armed with that knowledge, old wily Usama will likely boogie to Baghdad.' Though told also by Bruce Riedel of the NSC staff that Saddam Hussein wanted Bin Ladin in Baghdad, Berger conditionally authorized a single U-2 flight. Allen meanwhile had found other ways of getting the information he wanted. So the U-2 flight never occurred.

We wanted to send a spy plane over Afghanistan, but Richard Clarke was afraid (probably with good reason) that the Pakistanis would tip Osama off, and he'd get spooked and leave Afghanistan.

Please note what Richard Clark did not say:

He did not say, "At least we don't need to worry about Osama going to Iraq, because as everybody knows, Osama and Saddam hate each other, Osama being a religious fundamentalist, and Saddam being a secular infidel."

The argument that Saddam and Osama would never have cooperated is not only factually incorrect, it's naïve. People who hate each other form partnerships all the time. Look at most marriages. No, seriously, what about Hitler and Stalin, Stalin and Churchill, Herzog and Kinski, Bill and Hillary, Ungar and Madison, Owens and McNabb?

The whole WMD argument is a red herring. The administration thought it was their "ace in the hole" when they were trying to make the case before the U.N. Now the anti-war movement thinks it's their "ace-in-the-hole." i never bought into the WMD argument, either way.

The flypaper argument is similarly weak. It's only a part of the puzzle. Alone, it makes a poor justification for the war. The main reason we needed to get rid of Saddam, and make Iraq into an ally instead of an enemy, was "Boogie to Baghdad."

The advantages to both parties would have made a Saddam-Osama partnership inevitable, especially after we kicked butt in Afghanistan. Therefore, it was a strategic necessity to remove the possibility of that partnership. We achieved that goal, and that's a fact that people tend to forget.

Posted by annika, Nov. 21, 2005 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 18, 2005

Joke Of The Day

CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer, on why all three major networks reported Rep. Murtha's "we must surrender" speech as the most important news story of the day:

Politicians make speeches all the time. Some matter and some don't. It was our opinion that this one mattered.
No word yet on why CBS didn't consider a recent "we must win" speech by the freakin' President of the United States in the same light.

Posted by annika, Nov. 18, 2005 | link | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 17, 2005


From Australia's Herald Sun:

Four Australian women have been detained while trying to board a plane in Syria, reportedly after gun parts were found inside a child's toy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) said two women from Victoria and two from NSW were with two Iraqi women when they were detained at Damascus airport on Tuesday.

All six were of Iraqi origin, the department said.

A DFAT spokesman would not confirm media reports that the group was detained after a disassembled gun was found inside a toy being carried by a child with the women.

The ABC has quoted a Syrian police source and a diplomatic source as saying the women entered the airport in the Syrian capital with a child.

They said the women were detained after the gun parts were found in a toy the child was holding.

The women were reportedly trying to board a flight bound for Australia.

Via A Western Heart.

Posted by annika, Nov. 17, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 11, 2005

annika's Proposed Alternative To The McCain Amendment

Rather than legislate a blanket prohibition on all "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment," (which in many cases can be quite useful, not to mention fun*), i propose the following, more simple compromise amendment:


(a) IN GENERAL - All persons within the custody or under the effective control of the Department of Defense or under detention in a Department of Defense facility shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation that works.

(b) LIMITATIONS - But whatever you decide to do, for God's sakes, don't film it!


* Lighten up. i said "not to mention," didn't i?

Posted by annika, Nov. 11, 2005 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 09, 2005

Francis Urquhart Lives

Tony Blair's days as PM are numbered?

(You might say that. i couldn't possibly comment.)

Posted by annika, Nov. 9, 2005 | link | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

California Über Alles

Everything lost.

It's easy to blame the lying public employee unions, and to feel discouraged about the future of democracy. i do. But those feelings will pass, because i know the main reason Californians voted for the status quo yesterday.

Californians, like most of the country, are very pissed off at their government for various, often opposing, reasons. So when you have a bunch of propositions that are intended to improve things and change the status quo, but you introduce them into a climate of voter dissatisfaction, it's very hard to expect people to vote "yes" on anything. The "no" is their way of saying "we don't like things the way they are."

Remember, the recall election was itself a "no" vote.

Add to that, the legions of well-funded and motivated, goose-stepping union members who were certain to get out their own vote yesterday, and you see why the reform measures had no chance.

Oh, and San Francisco voted yesterday to invite gun-toting outlaws to visit the city, stay a while, and while they're there why not rape rob or kill a San Franciscan for added fun and profit.

Posted by annika, Nov. 9, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (2)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 08, 2005

Media Double Standard?

AP's report about today's Tennessee school shooting contains an unusual choice of quotes in the third paragraph, as printed in this ABC News post.

The motive for the shooting at Campbell County High School, 30 miles from Knoxville, was not immediately known, Sheriff Ron McClellan told WVLT-TV.

'We don'a0644t [sic] know yet. I have the individual at the hospital,' McClellan said. 'These men are all fine Christian men, and I am at a loss for words.'

Now i don't have a problem with the quote per se. Sure it's a dumb thing for the sheriff to say. Obviously one of those students was not a fine Christian man.

But i find it interesting that AP seems to take special care to identify the religion of this particular murderer at the top of the story, when i usually have to read to the end of a typical AP story on terrorism to find out that kind of information -- if they disclose it at all.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2005 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Californians Must Vote

If you are a Californian, you must vote today. The special election is the difference between changing things or giving up. Don't you give up. Vote for change. Unless of course, you like things the way they are in CA.

The cool thing is, if you haven't studied the propositions, don't worry. Just vote like i did.

Proposition 73: YES.

Proposition 74: YES.

Proposition 75: YES.

Proposition 76: YES.

Proposition 77: YES.

Proposition 78: YES.

Proposition 79: NO.

Proposition 80: NO.

Posted by annika, Nov. 8, 2005 | link | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 07, 2005

French Riots

It amazes me that after eleven days of rioting, the French have not yet called out the military or instituted a curfew. Isn't that riot control 101? i mean at some point, you gotta do something, don't you. What are they doing over there? Sheesh, Mike Brown could have done a better job than Chirac and Villepin are doing.

Update: i have two more semi-facetious observations. First, it's a measure of how much things have changed in Europe, that the German government is actually advising their citizens to "be careful" about traveling to France. Come on guys. Now is the perfect time to strike! Whatever happened to "Let the last man on the right brush the channel with his sleeve?"

Second, a lot of people are saying it's poverty that's causing these riots. So maybe France isn't socialist enough. Taking that line of thought to its logical conclusion, i'd have to agree. If France were a full blown Communist dictatorship, you can bet these riots would have stopped soon after the first rock was thrown. Just ask any Czech or Hungarian of a certain age.

Update 2: Read Sarah's personal experiences living in one of the Parisian "suburbs."

Posted by annika, Nov. 7, 2005 | link | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 06, 2005

1300 Cars Burned Last Night

Time to buy Renault stock.

Posted by annika, Nov. 6, 2005 | link | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 03, 2005

Danish Ramadan Rioters

You've heard of the suburban Paris rioters. Now meet the Danish rioters.

The police has to stay away. This is our area. We decide what goes down here
We are tired of what we see happening with our prophet. We are tired of [Danish newspaper] Jyllands-Posten.
Transterrestrial Musings has the story.

via Instapundit.

Update: Here's what's prompted the violence. A couple of cartoons.* Funny, i don't seem to remember Evangelicals rioting in this country after Flynt spoofed Falwell some years ago. But whatever.

* link updated.

Posted by annika, Nov. 3, 2005 | link | Comments (32) | TrackBack (2)
Rubric: annikapunditry

November 01, 2005

California Voter's Guide

What a crappy crappy day i had today. i won't go into all the reasons, some were biological and others environmental. But i'm all stressed out right now. My preferred stress reliever had to work tonight, so instead i'm enjoying a glass of fine California wine.

One thing that pissed me off early, happened between classes as i was filling out my absentee ballot. An annoying guy in my class came over and sat down next to me. He obviously thought i was filling out a lotto card.

"Hey, if you win the lottery, do I get some?" he asked.

My first thought was, You couldn't get some offa me even if you won the lottery. Then it occurred to me that he was talking about the winnings.

"No this is an absentee ballot," i told him.

"Oh, are you voting no on all those propositions?" he said.

"What propositions do you mean?"

"Those ones the governator likes."

i paused for effect. "Um, no. i'm actually voting yes on them."

He looked horribly disappointed. "Really?"

"Yes really."

"i voted for him," he added. "But I don't like any of his propositions."

This type of thinking is apparently common, according to the polls. But i was amazed to have actually met someone with that kind of disconnection from reality.

"What's the point of voting for Schwarzenegger if you don't want him to change anything? That makes no sense at all. He can't do it by himself. We might as well have kept Gray Davis."

He obviously hadn't thought about that. "Um, well, it seems like some of those propositions are just 'broken promises.'"

Whoa. That was amazing. Here was a guy who had no idea what was on the ballot, yet he was able to parrot verbatim the Unions' attack ad slogan. That's how effective those anti-Schwarzenegger ads have been.

i wanted to lay into him at that point, but i figured the better solution would be to salvage something positive from an idiot, if possible.

i said, "They're not like that at all. Why don't you read the propositions and vote for the ones that sound good to you."

"Well, i suppose." He seemed open to the idea.

"Good. Promise me you'll do that," i flashed him a smile.

"I will. I promise."

Excellent. i had hopefully converted an idiot.

So here's how i voted for next Tuesday's special election, in case any of you care:

Proposition 73: This measure requires a 48 hour waiting period and parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. This is probably just a ploy to get conservatives to the polls, but i figure it might actually bring just as many pro-abortion voters out. Since i'm against abortion, i'm in favor of any restrictions, no matter how incremental. i voted YES.

Proposition 74: This is the first of the four Schwarzenegger propositions. This measure increases the amount of time a teacher must work before getting tenure. Right now they can get tenure after two years. The initiative bumps it up to five years. Sounds reasonable to me. YES.

Proposition 75: According to the Secretary of State this initiative prohibits "the use by public employee labor organizations of public employee dues or fees for political contributions except with the prior consent of individual public employees each year on a specified written form." That's a no-brainer. YES.

Proposition 76: This is the initiative that promises to make the State government "live within its means." i hope it passes, and if it does, i hope it works. YES.

Proposition 77: This measure is supposed to reform California's gerrymandered districts by taking redistricting out of the hands of the politicians and letting a panel of retired judges draw the lines. Not a perfect solution, but better than the current system, which leaves the foxes in charge of the henhouse. YES.

Proposition 78: One of two competing prescription drug discount initiatives. i voted for this one rather than 79, which is more flawed. YES.

Proposition 79: This prescription drug scheme relies on state bureaucrats to negotiate discounts, instead of the free market. But the worst thing is that it creates a whole new loophole for greedy plaintiff lawyers to file frivoulous lawsuits based on technicalities. NO.

Proposition 80: i don't know what to think about this measure, which purports to repeal California's energy deregulation. i can see arguments both ways on this one. However, i'm generally in favor of deregulation, so i voted NO.

The four Schwarzenegger supported propositions are 74, 75, 76 and 77. The polls say they're all going down. But the polls have been wrong before, and i hope at least 76 and 77 win. That could really start some changes here in California, which is a state that is much more conservative than its legislature. Though most people don't realize it.

Posted by annika, Nov. 1, 2005 | link | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

Hollywood Hypocrisy

i bet i could totally outshoot Ben Afflack, that pansy.

Posted by annika, Nov. 1, 2005 | link | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 30, 2005

Talking About Scooter

i apologize for not blogging much lately. i have been very busy, spending almost all of my waking time trying to care about the whole Scooter indictment. So far i have been unsuccessful.

Yesterday, in a desperate effort to make myself care, i attached this picture to a device i invented, so that i could look at it all day long. That didn't work, and in fact was more of a distraction than i intended.

Later on, i picked up the New York Times and scanned the three stories above the fold. i looked at the first story, which began with something like: Lewis Libby was indicted. Then i went to the second story which said Lewis Libby was indicted. Then i tried the third story, which talked about Lewis Libby being indicted. Then i looked at the... well, you get the picture. i thought, "what the hell?" There was nothing on there about any Scooter! If the New York Times doesn't care enough about the story to put it on their front page, why should i care?

Posted by annika, Oct. 30, 2005 | link | Comments (37) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 26, 2005

Miers: My End-Game Opinion

Earlier, i posted my preliminary opinion on the Miers nomination. At the time i fully expected the controversy to die down, although i was mildly disappointed with the choice. Or rather, i was more disappointed with the fact that Bush had chosen not to nominate one of my preferred candidates, instead opting for another apparent stealth nominee.

Over three weeks have passed, and i've watched and listened as the controversy refused to die. This story has had "legs," in the news parlance of the day. And the more i learned about Miers, the less willing i have been to close my eyes and hope for the best. Now, i am ready to commit to a side in this debate. It shouldn't be a surprise, given my background as a conservative with a history degree, that i have decided to oppose the confirmation of Harriet Miers as Supreme Court justice. My reasons have little to do with ideology.

Many reasons to oppose her confirmation have been proffered by conservative pundits much more knowledgeable than i am. These reasons seem to fall into a few broad categories. One group is mad because she isn't a big name judge. These folks are mad because they expected Luttig or Brown or Pryor. i can understand this criticism. i wanted McConnell or Brown. i still don't understand why Kozinski's name wasn't batted around more often. But i could have lived with my disappointment if Miers had been a good choice, and i think most conservatives feel the same way.

Another group is mad because Miers lacks a clear "judicial philosophy." The most articulate spokesman for this point of view is Mark R. Levin, who's turned the phrase " . . . but what's her judicial philosophy?" into a kind of mantra. This criticism has a lot of merit, in my view. i think it's fair to suspect that a person who has shown no evidence of having a coherent underlying approach to constitutional issues probably does not have such an underlying approach. At age 60, it's a little late to expect Ms. Miers to start developing a useful judicial philosophy if she hasn't given much thought to it before now.

Still, i'd be willing to give Ms. Miers the benefit of the doubt on the judicial philosophy question if that were my only objection. It's quite possible that despite the scant evidence of any coherent philosophy, she might actually have one. The trouble is, we don't know what it is. Larry Tribe and Erwin Chemerinsky have coherent judicial philosophies, but woe unto us if they were ever placed on the court. At least Tribe's and Chemerinsky's viewpoints are well known, as are their towering intellects. Which brings me to my next point, which is the clincher.

i'm not saying that Harriet Miers is not smart. Her background, education and experience proves to me that she is. But the position of associate justice on today's Supreme Court is not a job for just any smart person. It's a highly specialized occupation, and those who say it's not a place for "on-the-job training" have it absolutely right.

i am certainly no expert on constitutional law, although i have studied it in more detail than most people my age, both as a law student and in undergrad and graduate history courses. i know enough to know what i don't know. It is perhaps the most difficult area of law, not because it surpasses the intricate detail of a subject like tax or securities law, but because it is so malleable and its standards can be so hard to define. Con law is the "big leagues" of the legal profession. And doing con law as a Supreme Court justice is like being in the World Series. You have to be on your game at all times. You have to be the best of the best to do it right, and if you're not, it will become painfully obvious to knowledgeable observers very quickly.

i think that is the problem when non-lawyers like President Bush try to make decisions concerning the legal world. Most non-lawyers i've met seem to think that all lawyers know everything about all fields of law. No one would think to ask a dermatologist questions about spinal surgery. Yet Miers supporters are quick to assume that a corporate lawyer could easily slip into the role of constitutional scholar overnight.

i don't care that Miers has been at the White House for almost five years. That's not the same thing as spending a lifetime thinking about constitutional issues and the development of precedent from year to year and case to case. That's what con law is all about. It's analyzing precedent, history, argument and policy, then trying to extrapolate the potential reverberating effects of a ruling on future transactions, often for generations to come. Con law is to regular legal practice as Chess is to checkers.

Think about a guy like Mike McConnell, for instance. i've spent many hours this semester dissecting his various Establishment Clause articles, most notably his William and Mary Law Review piece (44 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 2105), which is heavily footnoted, dense and unquestionably essential reading no matter what side of the religious argument you are on. i'm nowhere close to getting a handle on the subject. Here's a guy who's thought about this shit for years. He likes thinking about this shit. You could say the same thing about Prof. Tribe, if you're a liberal. Is there any evidence that Ms. Miers is similarly up to speed on even one subject of constitutional law?

So what if she's not up to speed? Why does that matter? i'll tell you why. An effective Supreme Court justice must have the power of persuasion. If the other justices do not have confidence in her mastery of the subject matter, in her authority as an analyst of the case law in question, they will eat her alive. At this point, i see no evidence that Ms. Miers has the kind of background that will give her that kind of persuasive authority. In fact, i have seen discouraging murmurs that she lacks just that.

How many Supreme Court opinions has she read top to bottom, and understood? It's hard to believe, with her busy career, that she's had the time for that kind of recreational study. If she's confirmed, when is she going to find the time then? i remember my first month of law school. In my nightly reading, i came across so many unfamiliar words and concepts that i was constantly going into Black's Dictionary to look things up. It was a nightmare. i've since learned how to skim the cases just to get through the reading, but that's not something i want my Supreme Court justices doing.

Oh sure, she can have her clerks do the heavy lifting. But in this day and age, i don't want unaccountable idealistic twenty year olds who were basically the best ass-kissers in law school leading around the new justice by her nose. There are plenty of historical examples of Supreme Court justices who relied overly much on their law clerks, but that was never a good thing. And today, the scariest issues are much scarier than they ever were back in the day. Terrorists who can blow up entire cities, scientists who can condemn millions more unborn lives to death, those are just two examples. This is a game best left to the pros.

i'm planning to watch the confirmation hearings, assuming she doesn't withdraw before then. i'm willing to keep an open mind, but unfortunately Ms. Miers has an even tougher job than Justice Roberts had. She must be absolutely stellar at the hearings, because she has to change minds. i know the White House has been working hard to prepare her, but i'd be very surprised if she can pull it off. Very surprised.

Update: You're freakin kidding me?! i told you the president reads my blog.

Update 2: i heard Dick Durbin this morning say, "this was not about documents, it was about Dobson." What an ignoramus. Dobson was one of Miers's earliest supporters, you moron.

And Hewitt's afraid we might lose to these guys?!

Update 3: The Anchoress, who correctly predicted the Miers nomination ahead of time, now turns her clairvoyant powers toward Ted Olsen. i see one problem that should prevent an Olsen nomination: a little case for which he represented the president once upon a time. Bush v. Gore. An Olsen nomination would be spun as a belated quid pro quo, fairly or not. Who needs that aggravation on top of everything else?

Let me go on record now and reiterate that McConnell is my first choice, J.R. Brown my second.

[cross-posted at A Western Heart]

Posted by annika, Oct. 26, 2005 | link | Comments (43) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 25, 2005

Breaking News



With a collective sigh of orgasmic release, the US Media today celebrated the 2000th military death since the beggining of the Iraq War. In the past week or so, you could almost feel the tension mounting as various anti-American news outlets such as CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC finalized their preparations for today's festivities.

Media hopes are high for a multi-orgasmic week, with many journalists openly speculating that Karl Rove may be indicted before the weekend.

"I haven't felt this good since we hit 1000 dead guys," said one giddy newsanchor, who chose to remain anonymous. "People around the newsroom are positively glowing today. And if Rove gets it, man, I'm gonna need a cigarette. Whew."

In a related story, something or other happened with some election they had over there recently.

Developing . . .

Posted by annika, Oct. 25, 2005 | link | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 24, 2005

Greenspan Successor Prediction

On Mondays, it's customary for me to make predictions. Bush is about to name Alan Greenspan's successor today, so here's my prediction:

Bush will name Zahira Zahir as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Posted by annika, Oct. 24, 2005 | link | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 06, 2005

Quick Note On The Speech

Bravo, at long last, thank you.

Posted by annika, Oct. 6, 2005 | link | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 04, 2005

Just A Little Pet Peeve

i was listening to Hugh Hewitt's show on the way home tonight and i heard a conservative caller from San Francisco say something that really bothered me. The caller paraphrased Bush the Elder's response to criticism that he had flip-flopped on his famous "voodoo economics" quote after Reagan selected him for VP. Supposedly, G.H.W. Bush said something to the effect that "Before Reagan picked me I owed him my discretion, afterwards I owed him my loyalty." The gist of the caller's analogy was that we conservatives owe the president our loyalty, i.e. our trust.

We owe him no such thing. i voted for president Bush twice. He serves at my pleasure and at the pleasure of the American voter. i don't owe him or any other politician my loyalty. On the contrary, they owe me. That is our system of government. i just want this to be clear, because i think most Americans suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of the most basic philosophy by which our nation was founded. It's not just a cute little theory that some old guys in powdered wigs made up. I believe it is Truth.

Do these words sound familiar?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. [emphasis added]
In other words, they work for us. If any loyalty is owed, it is owed by the government, including the executive, to the people. We hold all the cards because we have rights, which come from God Almighty. The government has no rights, only powers, which come from us.

So anyone who says i owe my loyalty, or my trust to any government official, evan a president whom i like a lot, is simply mistaken and needs to take a refresher course in American History, preferably by a professor who knows what he's talking about.

Now i'm just taking the long way around, to make a minor semantic point. But these things do piss me off because i often wonder how people can be so dense.

Posted by annika, Oct. 4, 2005 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

October 03, 2005

Supreme Court Pick

i know everybody's been patiently waiting for my opinion on this chick Bush picked for Supreme Court. i wanted to read a little bit about her and listen to some other opinions before i weighed in.

i am a little disappointed that Bush did not take my advice. i have a pretty good idea that he or one of his aides reads this blog. My advice was to pick an in-your-face conservative. My personal choice would have been either Mike McConnell or Janice Rogers Brown. i like McConnell because he's a historian, and i like Brown because she's a Californian.

Of course, if i had my way, and i could give the Supreme Court an extreme makeover, things would be way different. i imagine there would be a huge exodus of liberals from this country, and that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Except for Canada and France, that is.

If i had my way, Roe would be overturned. Kelo would be gone. The Lemon test: gone. Oregon v. Smith: gone. Fifty years of establishment clause jurisprudence: gone. i wouldn't stop there either. The exclusionary rule? History. Miranda? Toast. 1A protection for Child Porn? Dead. The Second Amendment? Reborn. Federalism? Hell yah.

Regarding Miers, i'm adopting the wait and see approach. Maybe she'll be okay. Maybe not. The whole idea about wanting a known conservative is so that members of the Republican base, like me, won't have to worry. Now we have reason to worry. Two reasons, if you count Roberts.

Another disappointment is the likelihood that we won't get rid of that stupid filibuster rule now. i wanted a fight, because i wanted the nuclear option. But it's easy to forget that Bush is at heart a conciliatory kind of guy. All this talk about him being an evil warmonger has obscured that fact. It really should be no surprise that if Bush sees a way to do something without a fight, he'll do it. Again, if it were up to me, i'd have liked to see the Senate Democrats get straight-armed on this nominee, and losing the filibuster would have been gravy.

i'm not as worried as some people are about Miers having been a Democrat. Reagan was a Democrat once too. So was my dad. Still, neither of them would have ever given money to a freak like Gore. But the real problem is that Miers is not an idealogue. And the Court can change a person; i believe that. Unless a justice has a strong belief system, i'm afraid the pressure to get along can lead to a leftward drift over time.

So, should we trust Bush's judgment on this one as Professor Hewitt counsels us to do? Well, what choice do i have? Miers will probably be confirmed easily and i will have to hope for the best. But i can't help thinking this was a wasted opportunity.

Posted by annika, Oct. 3, 2005 | link | Comments (33) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 30, 2005

San Francisco Builds A Ski Jump

This event reminds me of something Annikus Gibbon once wrote:

And the great Emperor, deaf to the woes of his people, said unto them, 'lo, let us build a great ski slope in the middle of the village, and let them jump off it with skis, and afterward, they shall have sourdough bread, and circuses.'
San Francisco is falling apart, but hey, at least they got a ski jump.

Posted by annika, Sep. 30, 2005 | link | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 26, 2005

ABC Endorses Hillary For 2008

Am i the only one who sees ABC's new weekly Hillary propaganda show for what it is? They even have a fake blog to promote the thing.

Apparently President Allen is supposed to be an Independent, who was picked for VP to balance out a Republican ticket. The fake blog describes her as a "centrist." The plan is clear: get middle-of-the-roaders used to the idea of a female president in time for Hillary's run.

i won't watch that show with Emelio Estevez as president. But i'm a big fan of both Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland, so i'll have to give this propaganda reel a chance tomorrow night. Hopefully it won't be too sickening.

Posted by annika, Sep. 26, 2005 | link | Comments (53) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 19, 2005

Broussard's Soundbite Debunked

It was still one of the most difficult things to watch in the history of tv news. But the finger pointing it spawned needs to be revised.

Posted by annika, Sep. 19, 2005 | link | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 10, 2005

Dad's Words Of Wisdom #417 & 417A (Corrolary)

"The purpose of union activism used to be to protect the worker. But now, the primary purpose of unions has become the weakening various target institutions.

"The Democratic party has become nothing more than a such a union, which chooses as its target the United States of America."

Posted by annika, Sep. 10, 2005 | link | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 08, 2005

Open Gun Nut Comment Questions

Here's two questions i've been wondering about. i bow to your expertise, so please leave any thoughts you might have in the comments.

1. In the event of an extended period of civil unrest, when finding ammunition might become an issue, is it better to have a gun that shoots a common caliber of ammunition like 9mm, or is it better to have something that will use a less common caliber. Think of a donut shop. Normally, you'll always be able to get glazed donuts, but after the morning rush, maybe all you'd find are those disgusting brown crullers that nobody likes.

2. In the city, is it a good idea to advertise gun ownership with a sticker or say, posting a particularly good silhouette in your garage? Would this cause bad people to stay away, or would they simply watch more carefully for their chance to break in and try to steal your gun when you're out?

i will be blogging lightly for the next few days, but i'll check in to read. In the meantime, don't forget to give what you can for hurricane relief.

Posted by annika, Sep. 8, 2005 | link | Comments (47) | TrackBack (0)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 07, 2005

Great News!

American hostage Roy Hallums is free! Details at Jawa Report.

Posted by annika, Sep. 7, 2005 | link | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)
Rubric: annikapunditry

September 06, 2005

A Subtle Kind Of Bigotry

It's a delicate subject, and i try not to write much about it. A white person always runs the risk of being called a racist, no matter what they say. Usually it happens when white people say that charges of racism are exagerrated or without merit. In the case of this post, i should be safe, because i plan to be the one making the charges.

i've noticed a special kind of subtle bigotry, very cleverly disguised. The folks who exhibit this new bigotry probably don't even realize their bias, and they'd probably deny it vehemently. The purveyors of the new bigotry that i'm talking about are mostly in the media and the academy.

A more obvious example that has gotten play recently is the infamous looting/finding controversy that arose from the troubles in New Orleans.

[T]wo news service photographs . . . showed persons wading through chest-deep water in the New Orleans area with supplies taken from grocery stores. Many viewers noticed the seeming disparity of the darker-skinned subject's being described in the accompanying caption as 'looting a grocery store,' while the lighter-skinned subjects were described as 'finding bread and soda from a local grocery store.'
Unlike many on my side of the political spectrum, i find the AFP's description of the "lighter-skinned" subjects as "finders," rather than "looters" to be pretty indefensible. Yes, i know there were two different news agencies involved. But the choice of words was a conscious decision, and the photographer's rationalizations ring sort of hollow, at least to my ears.