Saturday, February 24, 2007

Guiliani Leads Poll for GOP Nomination

A lot of bloggers seem insistent that Rudy Giuliani cannot win the Republican nomination for President, given his well-known positions on issues such abortion, gay rights and gun control.

Skeptics also point the former Mayor’s personal life, for example. his three marriages, and the way he treated his wife while he was Mayor, Donna Hanover.

All this is supposed to doom his chances with Republican primary voters, who are supposed to be very conservative.

But Josh Marshall points to a poll that show Rudy far outpolling his rivals.

It’s to face the reality that Giuliani may very well be the nominee, and think about how that would affect a national Democratic race.

I’m in the minority, but I think there is very good chance that Giuliani will be the Republican nominee for President, and that if he were be a strong candidate. It’s true, his just being the nominee would change the Republican party in fundamental ways, but I wouldn’t count him out.

More later on why electing Giuliani President would be unhealthy for this country.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


8:00 a.m., Wednesday:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on CNN and CSPAN live, speaking before Parliament, defending the invasion of Iraq. He is citing the elections, the constitution, reconciliation, and hydrocarbon legislation. Expresses concerns that terrorists are going to thwart all this.

Mentions the bombing of the shrine in Samara. Blames Saddamists, Al Qaeda, and Shia militant groups.

He says these groups are different, but they have one common purpose: to prevent democracy from working. The majority of Iraqis, he says, want democracy. There can be “no debate about the rights and wrongs” in Iraq today, he says. The real question, Blair says, is “Do we have a plan to succeed?”

Cites that Iraqis have 10 divisions, 130,00 trained Iraqi troops. In normal circumstances this would be considered a success, he says.

But these are not normal circumstances, he says. 90% of the violence is in and around Baghdad. “An orgy of terrorism” is being conducted to destabilize Baghdad.

So now we have new plan, says Blair, adjusted to meet the new threats.

We’re going to take the city, district by district. We only started last Tuesday, he says, but it looks good.

Also we’re going to have a better reconciliation effort. It’s much too early to judge whether the plan will work.

Basra is very important, he says. Very different from Baghdad. Not nearly as bad. Iraqi forces have the primary role to secure the city. Murder and kidnapping is down. Plans are in place for new sewage, drinking water, schools, etc. Next chapter in Basra’s history will be written by the Iraqis.

British forces, he says, will move to a base nearby. Role will be to support the Iraqi army. British presence will be reduced, possibly to 5,000 by late summer. But Britain will still be there well into 2008, he says, but increasingly in a supporting role.

Blair pays tribute to Lithuania and Australia.

This is part of a wider struggle between the forces of progress and the forces of reaction. For too long, he says, we ignored what leaders did to their own citizens. Cites Saddam’s gassing of his people. Says the best way to make Britain safer is to democratize the Middle East. Also says we have to resolve the Palestinian - Israel problem.

Says Syria has recognized threat of Al Qaeda, but is hostile toward Lebanon. Says Iran and Syria must work with the international community, or become more isolated. Blair says, The strategy must be clear: to bring about change in the Middle East. Says that international terrorist have chosen Iraq to be the battleground. Defeating it is essential. Our purpose should be to stand up to them.

David Cameron, Conservative Party Leader

Praises troops. He says that we are very far from a peaceful and stable Iraq. How are going to get peace between Sunni, Shia and Kurd, he asks. Cites the Baker-Hamilton report. Notes that Bush has not adopted those recommendations.

He says his party supports peace in the Middle East. Wants Blair to talk about engaging Syria. Calls for even more financial sanctions on Iran. Agrees democracy in the Middle East is a good thing, but surely he says, that a strategy must go beyond military force, that we should use the soft power of diplomacy, that we must have moral authority. Mentions extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo.

“There have been many, many bad mistakes.” Will Blair accept the need to look back at the mistakes that have been made?

Tony Blair responds:

Blair first says that George Bush did not reject the Baker-Hamilton report. Says the Iraqis have a lot of money to spend to rebuild their country. The question he says, with regard to Iran and Syria, is are they prepared to help our effort in Iraq. Syria, maybe. But with Iran it’s clear, that they are not. Some weapons in Iraq are coming from Iran.

Blair says they are going to try to get sanctions on Iran, call it very serious.

Blair disputes extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, but also mentions Abu Gharib. He says actually what is more important, we must address the Palestinian issue, and also global poverty, especially in Africa. He says “we should not apologize for our values,” the values that can unite all religions of the world against terrorists.

Menzies Campbell speaks:

Menzies Campbell stands up and looks are little angry at the idea that anyone has suggested apologizing for our values. Says that should not be used as excuse for avoid taking responsibility for mistakes. Remember he says, the British government treated Saddam well after Halabja.

Campbell asks if Blair supports Bush’s surge, and what Condi Rice told him about the Palestinian issue. Closes by saying the invasion was a mistake.

Blair responds:

Blair says progress in regard to the Israel-Palestinian issue is possible.

On the surge, the most important thing he says, is that Bush’s surge is supported by the Iraqi government. As the terrorists have redoubled their efforts, we have redoubled ours.

He says Iraq was not stable under Saddam. The instability in Iraq right now he says, (laughing, presumably at what sees as the absurdity of the question), is not our fault. It the fault of the elements that oppose efforts of the people of Iraq who voted and the efforts of the U.N.

Alex Salmond speaks:

Notes that Tony Blair did apologize for the slave trade, and asks if Blair will apologize for the mistakes with regard to weapons of mass destruction.

Blair says the reason Iraq is so bad is not because of his mistakes, but because the terrorists have a strategy. Those terrorists are the same in ideology as the ones behind 9/11 and the bus and subway attacks in Britain. We should not “walk away and let them get on with it”.


Doesn’t Tony Blair understand that the only reason Al Qadea is even in Iraq is because of his “foolish” decision to invade Iraq?


The reason it is tough in Iraq is because of the terrorists. “We didn’t cause the terrorism, the terrorists caused the terrorism.” We have to stand up to them. Anywhere they rear their heads. Blair says if we listen to Rifkind we will be well on our way to surrender.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


The resolution to oppose the "surge" has failed by four votes, 56 to 34. All the Democrats voted yes, as did seven Republicans.

Senate Republicans voting Yes were:



Friday, February 16, 2007



Wednesday, February 14, 2007


When we can leave, according to George W. Bush:

An Iraq which:

(1) Has a government bound by a constitution
(2) Is even handed in application of security
(3) Is Relatively peaceful
(4) Has Security from criminals and terrorists
(5) Is Federalist
(6) Which Shares resources
(7) Which is an ally in the war on terror
(8) Which is a bulwark for moderation.

Bush appears to find all this terribly amusing.

I must say he may be the only one.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Doulgas Feith ("FSGOTFOTE") has a rather bizarre self-serving op-ed in The Washington Post of Wednesday, February 14.

A few selected passages:

"Promoters of the "Bush Lied, People Died" line claim that the recent Pentagon inspector general's report concerning my former office's work on Iraq intelligence supports their cause. What the IG actually said is a different story.

The IG, Thomas Gimble, focused on a single Pentagon briefing from 2002 -- a critique of the CIA's work on the Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship. His report concluded that the work my office generated was entirely lawful and authorized, and that Sen. Carl Levin was wrong to allege that we misled Congress.

Gimble made Levin happy, however, by calling the Pentagon briefing "inappropriate," a word the senator has whipped into a political lather. At issue is a simple but critical question: whether policy officials should be free to raise questions about CIA work. In Gimble's opinion, apparently, the answer is no. I disagree.

The CIA has a hard job. Some of its work has been good; some has been famously and disastrously bad, as everyone familiar with the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction fiasco knows. Intelligence is inherently sketchy and speculative -- and historically often wrong. It is improved when policy officials freely probe and challenge it.

In evaluating our policy toward Iraq after Sept. 11, 2001, my office realized that CIA analysts were suppressing some of their information. They excluded reports conflicting with their favored theory: that the secular Iraqi Baathist regime would not cooperate with al-Qaeda jihadists. (We now face a strategic alliance of jihadists and former Baathists in Iraq.) Pentagon officials did not buy that theory, and in 2002 they gave a briefing that reflected their skepticism. Their aim was not to enthrone a different theory, but to urge the CIA not to exclude any relevant information from what it provided to policymakers. Only four top-level government officials received the briefing: Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and (together) Stephen Hadley and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.


In his report, Gimble wrote that the Pentagon briefing was not the "most accurate analysis of intelligence." This has been taken to suggest it was false or deceptive. But the IG said he meant only that the briefing was at "variance with the consensus of the Intelligence Community." Of course it was at variance! It was a critique. That's why it was prepared in the first place.

Gimble's characterization is absurdly circular. Cheered on by the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and armed services committees, he is giving bad advice based on incomplete fact-finding and poor logic. He is discouraging tough questioning of intelligence. Our government needs more such questioning, not less.


Just saw Mitt Romney announcing his candidacy for Presidency. He spoke from an auto museum in Michigan.

Romney is clearly trying to position himself as a conservative candidate with managerial expericence.

In speaking in a museum, surrounded by monuments to American innovation, Romney was seemingly trying to position himself as a candidate of modernity, of technology, but also someone who adheres very closely to more traditional, old-fashioned values. He also very much emphasized his experience outside of Washington, in contrast to, one assumes, Senators such as McCain, Brownback, Edwards, Clinton and Obama.

He opened by positioning himself immediately as a man compelled to seek the Presidency, as an outsider, because of problems in Washington. Hardly unusual, nearly every candidate in modern history tries this, so did Obama, a few days ago.

Romney cited Washington’s “bickering,” “bombast,” and “peddlers of influence.”

Then he marketing himself as someone who has “run something larger than a corner store.”

Taking on the mantle of man who had done things while others simply debate and position themselves, he said: “Talk is easy, talk is cheap.” He has been a man in “in the arena.”

Then he took pains to clearly emphasize his he’s pro-Christian, pro-life (anti-choice), anti-gay, anti-tax, and in favor of “securing our borders.”

Took what some would call a tough stand, describing a “radically violent jihad” as what America is facing and said, somewhat clumsily, “our best ally for peace in the world is a strong America.”

Then he took a softer turn, talking about the need for America to share, to help “Africa’s poor”, to support moderate muslims.

He said the U.S. should the “link arms with all responsible nations” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

He painted a nightmarish scenario for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying “millions could die,” expanded Iranian influence, etc.

So he said, that as long as there is a reasonable prospect for victory, our wisest course is additional troops.

Closed with calling for a “New American dream, saying American families need all the help they can get. That means lower taxes, affordable health care, good schools, and “leaders with values and morality.”

“With freedom, nothing can hold us back”

[Scattered applause]


“Without freedom, nothing can hold us back.”


I had heard he was a good speaker. He was fine, but I was not overly impressed. He stumbled words several times, confused Iran and Iraq, and messed up his closing line. I would imagine even his supporters would say he needs a little work. Although you could say he looks like a movie version of a President.

Who are his supporters? I suppose people who see a Republican who managed to win in Massachusetts, a guy who’s willing to lean far right on social issues, but comes across more like a friendly banker or business executive than an evangelical. He touts his business experience, though clearly his foreign policy resume is thin.

With the disasters in Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, homeland security, Katrina, and problems in the U.S. economy, trade, infrastructure, schools, and more, “competence” is suddenly in. Maybe he’s not great speaker like Obama, or a veteran like McCain, maybe he lacks the vision thing, but his selling point, I would guess, will be “Competence Plus Values.”


SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Dozens of dolphins and sea lions trained to detect and apprehend waterborne attackers could be sent on a mission to patrol a military base in Washington state, the U.S. Navy said Monday.

In a notice published in this week's Federal Register, the Navy said it needs to bolster security at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, located on the Puget Sound close to Seattle. The base is home to submarines, ships and laboratories and is potentially vulnerable to attack by terrorist swimmers and scuba divers, the notice states.

Several options are under consideration, but the preferred plan would be to send as many as 30 California sea lions and Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins from the Navy's Marine Mammal Program, based in San Diego.

"These animals have the capabilities for what needs to be done for this particular mission," said Tom Lapuzza, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program. The Navy is seeking public comment for an Environmental Impact Statement it is preparing on the proposal.

Lapuzza said because of their astonishing sonar abilities, dolphins are excellent at patrolling for swimmers and divers. When it detects a person in the water, a Navy dolphin drops a beacon.

This tells a human interception team where to find the suspicious swimmer.

Dolphins also are trained to detect underwater mines; they were sent to do this in the Iraqi harbor of Umm Qasr in 2003. The last time the animals were used operationally in San Diego was in 1996 when they patrolled the bay during a Republican convention.

Sea lions can carry in their mouths special cuffs attached to long ropes. If the animal finds a rogue swimmer, it can clamp the cuff around the person's leg. The individual can then be reeled in for questioning.


Monday, February 12, 2007


And you were afraid to give your parents your report card.....

Uncircumcised Pupils Sent Home

A Kenyan secondary school has sent home 20 boys because they were not circumcised, saying it feared they would be bullied by other students.

The new pupils at Kiriani boys' high school in Eastern Province had only been at the school for three days.

The pupils were told not to return until they had completed the procedure.

"Please do the needful within two weeks and let your son report back to school with you immediately he is well," a letter to parents from the school said.



Friday, February 09, 2007



"Do you see parallels between the lives and deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith?"

Yes: O
No: O


Cat Espionage Blogging

Uh-oh, he may get into hacking soon.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Deer Blogging

There should be five or six deer in this shot, taken today.
(Forgive the quality, as always, a Sony Ericsson phone.)


This morning on Imus in the Morning Mary Matalin called to say that she intends on taking money away from a charity assisting children with cancer to give to Scooter Libby's legal defense fund.

Then she said committing perjury is ok because she wasn't Valerie Plame wasn't covert (which isn't true, and also that no criminal trial should go forward if one of the witnesses has a broken ankle.

This is not an exact transcript:

At this point in the conversation she accused Imus of not caring about the suffering of poor Scooter Libby, and Imus protested sarcastically that he did care, and would even give to his legal defense fund.

Then Matalin said:

"I'm putting you down for $500 to the Scooter Libby Defense Fund. If you don't send it, I'm taking it out of my donation to the ranch."


"Oh sure, take money away from kids with cancer for this lying scumbag" (or words to that effect).


"The ranch changes the lives of kids with cancer...."

Matalin, (in a whiny voice):

"You don't think Scooter Libby's life has been changed by this trial?.."


So, just to be clear, no matter what crime a person commits, if their life is changed by a criminal trial, then they are by definition victims. Truthfully I have never heard such twisted logic.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007



Seven Killed as U.S. Copter Crashes in Iraq

A transport helicopter’s crash was the fifth in recent days, as the long-awaited Baghdad security operation got formally underway.

Wonder if Ridley Scott will make a movie about this?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Today on MSNBC Peter King said, when asked about a possible Rudy Guiliani candidacy: "Who will keep us alive?"

He's skirting the real issue, which is, who will protect us from NASA Astronauts and Easy-Bake Ovens?


Sunday, February 04, 2007


You go, Jesus!

Friday, February 02, 2007