Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's End

Saddam met his end today, at the end of a length of official Iraqi government rope -- it was a far more merciful fate than he doled out to his victims during his dictatorship.

Estimates for the number of people he murdered range from one million to more than seven million. That doesn't count the one million soldiers killed during his war with Iran.

At the low end, those numbers put him in the same category as Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin.

The atrocities committed by him and his sons are astonishing, including:

-- The rape of girls as young as 12 as a form of recreation;

-- The torture of children, even infants, to extract information and confessions from their parents;

-- The murder of children as part of military training exercises;

-- Extermination of whole villages of Kurds via gas attacks;

-- Torture methods including rape, beatings, gouging out eyes, lopping off hands and feet, electical shocks to the genitals, burning, and cutting;

-- Execution methods ranging from firearms and hangings to stuffing people into shredding machines or tossing them into vats of acid.

For a fuller accounting of his barbarities, you can go review this British report.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Brown, Ford Pass

Two icons from different spheres passed over the holidays.

James Brown died early Christmas morning and President Gerald Ford passed away this morning.

Brown -- "The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business," "The Godfather of Soul" -- electrified R&B and was widely imitated by soul singers and rockers alike. Tussles with the law over guns and drugs led to time in the jail, but couldn't diminish his legacy.

Ford was a disintinguished statesman known for his integrity who had the dubious distinction of being the first Amerian politician victimized by late-night-comedian character assassination -- notably impressions of him as a bumbling stiff by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live. Chase later admitted that he portrayed Ford as a dull-witted fumbler to sway the '75 presidential election.

Frightening to realize that many people still get their information from the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and the other late-night chuckleheads.

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau once observed that anyone who gets his political information from the comics deserves he gets at the polls. He was talking about the funny papers, but the principle applies to the midnight yucksters and those who listen to them as well.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Experts say: Send More Troops

Experts told incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates that more troops are in needed in Iraq.

"Sir, I think we need to just keep doing what we're doing," Specialist Jason Glenn told Gates, who along with other soliders serving in Iraq had breakfast with the new DS."I really think we need more troops here. With more presence on the ground, more troops might hold them (the insurgents) off long enough to where we can get the Iraqi army trained up."

These are, after all, the REAL experts -- not the armchair kind back in DC writing up reports. These are the people doing the fighting, the bleeding and the dying. They're also the ones most intimately familiar with the strength, tactics and psychology of the enemy.

So maybe someone ought to listen to them.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Iranian Whackjob President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- as in "I-hate-Israel-death-to-America-the-Holocaust-didn't-happen-I-want-nukes" Ahmadinejad -- got a smack in the face this week when his party lost big time in the influential Tehran local elections.

"Relative moderate" and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani -- who lost to Mad Ahmad in the last national election -- polled the most votes, reports AP.

A faint ray of hope that there might be someone rational to deal with in Iran.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Money Talks in Iraq

Newsweek reporting that Iraq's economy is booming.

"Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all."


Interesting because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Interesting because no one else is reporting this. Interesting because it contradicts the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group.

No, it doesn't mean everything is just swell in Iraq. But it is encouraging, because when people are making money they tend to be too busy to kill one another.

All the more reason we should encourage this trend as much as we can.

I think Senator John McCain has it right too -- send additional troops into the Iraq to cripple the insurgents and sectarian militias.

Then follow up with LOTS of economic building.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Obama? Haysbert!

All this talk about Barack Obama as a presidential candidate in '08? Bah!

My guess is the first black man to be president will be a Republican -- I dunno who it will be, but I think it would be someone like Dennis Haysbert.

Whether he's handling a major crisis as President David Palmer on "24" or firing at terrorists with his trusty M4 as Jonas Blane on "The Unit," Haysbert is everything you'd want in a president -- smart, cool-headed, tough, aggressive, principled, decisive, results oriented.

Heck, you'd even buy insurance from this guy.

Note: I don't know what Haysbert's actual political views are -- I'm referring to the qualities of the characters he plays.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In Denial on Iran

Iran hosting a conference this week questioning whether the Holocaust occurred, hosting all the leading antisemitic whackjobs and screwballs on the planet.

The goal, of course, is to discredit the legitimacy of the state of Israel -- if the Holocaust didn't occur then the Jews don't need a homeland to protect them, the logic goes.

The event is billed as an open discussion on the subject, but only those who don't believe the Holocaust occurred are speaking.

That's nice.

Hey everybody, these are the people who are gonna help us stop the war in Iraq, with all their levelheadedness, tolerance, and sensitivity and stuff!

Uh huh.

Monday, December 11, 2006

ISG Fantasy and Reality

Oddly, the Washington Post editorial page agreeing closely with my views on the conclusions of the Iraq Study Group.

The military objectives are realistic, in fact quite close to those that already exist within the Bush administration and the Iraqi government, and should be vigorously pursued.

The diplomatic ones, however, are pure fantasy -- the idea that an Israel-Palestine peace plan is central to success and that Iran and Syria, the biggest troublemakers in the region, could be part of the solution is preposterous.

Read it all.

I printed off my copy of the report today, btw -- only runs about 85 pages. I plan to read it this week. You can find it here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Reyes Don't Know Shiite

Okay, not good.

Incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes couldn't sort out the main players in the Iraq conflict in an interview with Congressional Quarterly.

When asked whether Al Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite, he guessed Shiite.


Al Qaeda is rabidly Sunni -- so much so, opined CQ interviewer Jeff Stein, that"if a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball."

In fact, it is the stated objective of Al Qaeda in Iraq to spur civil war by conducting and supporting attacks by Sunnis against Shiites.

Pretty basic. Pretty fundamental. For the incoming Intel Committee chair not to know it is pretty bad.

Even I knew the right answer on this one, and I'm just your average, college-educated, mid-level, corporate professional who reads the newspapers -- not a major political leader about to be appointed chair of perhaps the most important House committee.

Remember, Reyes is a member of the party that keeps telling us how much smarter they are than the rest of us and how they're going to fix everything.

I don't feel very well.

One more note -- when President (then candidate) Bush failed a similar pop quiz by a reporter a few years ago, I recall it was the subject of much media attention and chuckling. Yet I see little pickup of this story about Reyes. Interesting.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Spider Webb

Week four of the Democratic Revolution. Any progress so far?


But we do have a freshman senator acting rudely to the president at a White House reception for incoming Congressmen.

Virginia's James Webb first ducked the reception line in an attempt to avoid President Bush.

The President later sought Webb out personally to inquire about his son, a Marine serving in Iraq. Webb, a frequent critic of the war, rebuffed him, saying "I'd like to get them out of Iraq."

The president persisted, somewhat testily, saying "That's not what I asked you -- how's you boy"?

Webb replied, "That's between me and my boy."

Is this the spirit of bipartisanship that the Democratic leadership pledged after the election? I don't think so.

Webb doesn't like the president and his policies? Fine. Doesn't want to speak with him? Okay.

But who goes to a White House reception hosted by the president and then deliberatly tries to avoid the host?

Someone trying to provoke just that kind of encounter.

Bad manners at least. Scheming and hypocrisy at worst.

During the election, I actually thought Webb might be an improvement over incumbent Republican George Allen. I'm beginning to rethink that.

But still no progress on the ambitious Democractic agenda for America.

Tick tock.