Thursday, July 24, 2003

Wow. It's been quite a while since I last posted.

But with the economy improving, interest rates rising and refinancing dropping off, the work-related frenzy seems over. Now there'll be less money coming in but more time for other things, including blogging. Not so sure that's a good tradeoff.

Regardless, I neglected this blog to spend some time checking out some sites. Took a walk on the wild side at dailykos for a few days. Attempted some meeting of the minds with some mixed results. Especially with Steve Gilliard, who is easily enough engaged but rarely, if ever, swayed.

Not all of the posters there seemed as hardcore as him, but the overall attitude was unsettling. Think, do, or say anything on any issue to get Bush the hell out. Felt like an inbed behind enemy lines.

Felt so good to be out of harm's way that I went straight to littlegreenfootballs and celebrated by posting about the disappointment on the part of the Left to the good news about the demise of the Saddam sons.

Pictures here and here.

Good to be back.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Three cheers for Tony Blair

An impressive, eloquent, stirring speech from PM Tony Blair. Heck, it was downright flag-waiving. Foxnews has the transcript on its website.

He began:
Mr. Speaker and Mr. Vice President, honorable members of Congress, I'm deeply touched by that warm and generous welcome. That's more than I deserve and more than I'm used to, quite frankly.

...And our tribute to them (servicemen and women) should be measured in this way, by showing them and their families that they did not strive or die in vain, but that through their sacrifice future generations can live in greater peace, prosperity and hope.

One of the best cases for support:
Can we be sure that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction will join together? Let us say one thing: If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive.

But if our critics are wrong, if we are right, as I believe with every fiber of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in the face of this menace when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive.

Bush's plain-spoken stern conviction and Blair's Churchillian (as it's been described) eloquence and passion went a long way to elevating the discussion to what really matters. In Blair's words:
Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty.

We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal.

Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."

And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty.

Tough to watch that speech and not get choked up. And more than once. In fact, during panel time on Special Edition, Fred Barnes had trouble finishing his last sentece as he described Blair's comment about the National Anthem. In Blair's words:
Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when the Star-Spangled Banner starts, Americans get to their feet, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers and those whose English is the same as some New York cab driver's I've dealt with ... but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress.

Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful. Not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud.

He wasn't the only one.

The debates may drag on indefinitely, but it's apparent that Bush and Blair have risen above the petty political bickering and reminded us, in their own words, why we are where we are; and why we must go where we must.

That sounds so clumsy compared to Blair's own words. Glenn Reynold's "Advice for Democrats" also makes an eloquent case and rises above the bickering WMD-gate issues, in a Blairish way.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Thanks, Glenn Reynolds, for the mention.
FOXNEWS HONG KONG UPDATE: Reader Paul Shelton emails:

Seems like someone got your memo about FoxNews not picking up the Hong Kong protestors. Tony Snow and the All-Star panel gave the story a thorough discussion.

Wow. What pull. Maybe as much as Moveon.org has with CNN.

Surely not that much.

UPDATE: Speaking of Hong Kong, the protests seem to be doing some good, as officials resign under pressure.

posted at 08:58 PM by Glenn Reynolds

And it was just a tongue-in-cheek remark that FoxNews takes memos from Instapundit.

Or was it?

Two for one special

Fresh from flooding the headlines with the Niger intelligence during Bush's trip to Africa, detractors in the media seemingly are going for a 2 for 1 special. The same intelligence issues that have made headlines for a couple of weeks apparently have been deemed to "have legs" enough to greet Prime Minister Blair when he arrives on Thursday to meet with Bush.

The NYTimes take is Dispute on Iraq Weapons Clouds Blair's Trip to U.S.

More on UraniumGate at Senators Press Tenet on Assertion About Iraqi Uranium.

Nevermind that Thomas Friedman simply refuses to be a team player at the NYT with his Winning the Real War. Instapundit and andrew sullivan link to good quotes. Here's another:

Eyes on the prize, please. If we find W.M.D. in Iraq, but lose Iraq, Mr. Bush will not only go down as a failed president, but one who made the world even more dangerous for Americans. If we find no W.M.D., but build a better Iraq — one that proves that a multiethnic, multireligious Arab state can rule itself in a decent way — Mr. Bush will survive his hyping of the W.M.D. issue, and the world will be a more hospitable and safer place for all Americans.

No wonder Friedman gets abused in the DailyKos posts.

The WaPost widens the debate to many intelligence "questions." A sidebar summary provides even more resources:

__ Weapons of Mass Destruction __

• Bush, Rice Blame CIA for Iraq Error (Post, July 12, 2003 )

• CIA Asked Britain To Drop Iraq Claim (Post, July 11, 2003 )

• White House Backs Off Claim on Iraqi Buy (Post, July 8, 2003 )

• Secretary Expects Arms to Be Found (Post, June 25, 2003 )

• Lawmakers Begin Iraq Intelligence Hearings (Post, June 19, 2003 )

• Full Coverage of the Hunt for WMD

___ The Debate ___
• Commentary & Opinion
• Post Editorials

The WaPost deserves some credit, however, for bothering to print this: Italy May Have Forwarded Uranium Claims, although it comes a little late to the controversy.

As to the Blair visit, one story reveals the smell of conspiracy--VisitGate?:
Bush has a full menu of perks to reward a foreign leader. The selective special treatment has another purpose, too: It sends a not-so-subtle message to those who miss out.

But UraniumGate is not forgotten:
Bush and Blair stood shoulder to shoulder in the war to depose Saddam Hussein. Now they face similar problems, particularly questions about their still-undocumented claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Even Silvio Berlusconi's trip is clouded in controversy, since "...Like Bush and Blair, the Italian leader has problems, too." Apparently, insulting a German minister is a "problem" for the WaPost.

But Bush might not consider that a problem. More like Berlusconi's ticket into Camp David and the Ranch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

You mean UraniumGate isn't a 'Gate after all?

The UK Telegraph reports that the French intelligence services do have evidence of a Niger Yellowcake deal but are withholding it:

French secret service 'kept CIA in the dark over Iraq and uranium'
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 14/07/2003)

The French secret service is believed to have refused to allow MI6 to give the Americans "credible" intelligence showing that Iraq was trying to buy uranium ore from Niger, US intelligence sources said yesterday.

MI6 had more than one "different and credible" piece of intelligence to show that Iraq was attempting to buy the ore, known as yellowcake, British officials insisted. But it was given to them by at least one and possibly two intelligence services and, under the rules governing cooperation, it could not be shared with anyone else without the originator's permission.

US intelligence sources believe that the most likely source of the MI6 intelligence was the French secret service, the DGSE. Niger is a former French colony and its uranium mines are run by a French company that comes under the control of the French Atomic Energy Commission...

US sources also point out that the French government was vehemently opposed to the war with Iraq and so suggest that it would have been instinctively against the idea of passing on the intelligence.

Could this be the handywork of the French-looking, not having served in Vietnam, Jacques Chirac?

And as to the NYT and WashPost's favorite, oft-cited Joseph C Wilson, IV:
They dismissed a report from a former US diplomat who was sent to Niger to investigate the claims and rejected them. "He seems to have asked a few people if it was true and when they said 'no' he accepted it all," one official said. "We see no reason at all to change our assessment."

Many thanks ought to go to: Jacques Chirac, the NYT, the WashPost and the Democratic candidates for creating this issue and managing to trip themselves up over the stubborn facts. If they could just keep this up for about a year or so.

And credit the watchdog (and when necessary, the attack dog) LittleGreenFootballs for the link.

Niger-Iraq uranium deal: What does Chirac know, and when did he know it?

John Batchelor/Paul Alexander on WABC interviewed John Loftis Tuesday morning, who reported that French intelligence HAS CONFIRMATION that Iraq was seeking yellowcake from Nigeria. The French intelligence service has the Nigerian unanium mine operator's name and the exact amount of yellowcake that was being sought.

The problem was Chirac. The French intel service apparently knew that Chirac wouldn't allow them to share the intel with the British, so the Brits couldn't get the hard evidence to provide to the CIA.

So instead, the Brits went to the Italians, who also said the story was true and could get confirmation. But they were apparently set up by a Nigerian diplomat who sold them the infamous forged documents for a few thousand dollars.

But both the French and the Nigerian diplomats have reportedly been lying about the whole uranium procurement attempts. The often cited "former CIA" diplomat, Joseph C Wilson, IV, wrote a NYT article that relaunched the debate the Sunday before Bush's trip to Africa. Wilson was quoted in both the NYT and the WashPost:
A former diplomat was sent by the CIA to the region to check on the allegations and reported back that one of the Nigerian officials he met "stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office..."

The WashPost or the NYT didn't bother pushing their investigative reporting past this "Nigerian official's" apparently patent lie; or Wilson's immediate acceptance of it. (At least Jayson Blair at the NYT would have had the sense to save a trip to Africa and make the whole story up at his desk).

But Wilson was revealed in a piece in the NRO by Clifford May to be a Left-leaning, anti-Bush, anti-war partisan.

Gabon and Mali also reportedly were willing to deal with Iraq in the sale of yellowcake, but Batchelor and Alexander singled out Niger as a puppet of the French, who apparently have business interests in the Nigerian uranium mines.

No word yet from Jacques Chirac...

Monday, July 14, 2003

Sitting here working with Beatles Anthology playing in the background. When Lennon's "I'm only sleeping" was playing, my mind meadered to what it must have been like for him, sitting in his New York apartment in the Dakota, overlooking the spot in Central Park that would later be dedicated to him, Strawberry Fields.
Lying here and staring at the ceiling
waiting for that sleepy feeling...
please don't wake me
no, don't shake me
leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping.

And of course, having earned the right to live comfortably enough to spend the day in his apartment, listening to tunes and tripping on acid, watching people scurrying about.

And then J.F.Kerry pops into my mind. Must be from the snapshot of him and John Lennon on stage in '71 that went around yesterday. Kind of jarring mental image, actually. Not sure how to take it.

But you wonder if he and Lennon partied together. I'm not saying they dropped acid, or anything. Mabye a quick doobie backstage?

I don't mean anything by it. Just saying.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

RadioFarda reports how Iran managed to block Western satellites:
Cuba Helps Iran to Block Los Angeles-based Anti-Regime TV, Says Broadcaster

•The Operator of Telstar 12 informed Los-Angeles-based Persian-language TV broadcasters that the source of disruptions in their satellite signal is in Cuba, head of Azadi TV Reza Fazeli tells Radio Farda. He says he and other broadcasters are signing a deal with a satellite operator half owned by the US Navy, and will soon resume broadcasts to Iran on new channels. (Jamshid Chalangi)

Friday, July 11, 2003

Critics lied about Bush having lied

NRO's Clifford D May exposes the "lies" about Bush having "lied" about the uranium from Niger (pronounced Neee--ZZZJJJERE):
A big part of the reason this has grown into such a brouhaha is that Joseph C. Wilson IV wrote an op-ed about it in last Sunday's New York Times in which he said: "I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

...let's give Wilson the benefit of the doubt and stipulate that he was correct when he reported back to the CIA that he believed it was "highly doubtful that any such transaction ever took place. "

...But, again, because it was "doubtful" that Saddam actually acquired yellowcake from Niger, it does not follow that he never sought it there or elsewhere in Africa, which is all the president suggested based on what the British said — and still say.

So Wilson parsed his words to either make or bolster his case.

But was there a motive for Wilson's parsing? May continues:

It also would have been useful for the New York Times and others seeking Wilson's words of wisdom to have provided a little background on him. For example:

He was an outspoken opponent of U.S. military intervention in Iraq.

He's an "adjunct scholar" at the Middle East Institute — which advocates for Saudi interests. The March 1, 2002 issue of the Saudi government-weekly Ain-Al Yaqeen lists the MEI as an "Islamic research institutes supported by the Kingdom."

He's a vehement opponent of the Bush administration which, he wrote in the March 3, 2003 edition of the left-wing Nation magazine, has "imperial ambitions." Under President Bush, he added, the world worries that "America has entered one of it periods of historical madness."

He also wrote that "neoconservatives" have "a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party." He said that "the new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our world view are implanted throughout the region, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme."

He was recently the keynote speaker for the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, a far-left group that opposed not only the U.S. military intervention in Iraq but also the sanctions — and even the no-fly zones that protected hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Shias from being slaughtered by Saddam.

And consider this: Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wilson did believe that Saddam had biological weapons of mass destruction. But he raised that possibility only to argue against toppling Saddam, warning ABC's Dave Marash that if American troops were sent into Iraq, Saddam might "use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have. For example, if we're taking Baghdad or we're trying to take, in ground-to-ground, hand-to-hand combat." He added that Saddam also might attempt to take revenge by unleashing "some sort of a biological assault on an American city, not unlike the anthrax, attacks that we had last year."

In other words, Wilson is no disinterested career diplomat — he's a pro-Saudi, leftist partisan with an ax to grind. And too many in the media are helping him and allies grind it.

Tenet accepts blame for critics' lies about Bush having lied

Since the NRO article, George Tenet has apparently agreed to be the fall guy. From the WashPost:
"These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the president," Tenet said in a statement released after Bush and his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, blamed the miscue on the CIA and members of Congress called for someone to be held accountable.

"This was a mistake," the director's statement said.

Tenet said the responsibility for vetting the allegations included in Bush's State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to get uranium from Africa beloing to the CIA and ultimately with himself.

"Let me be clear about several things right up front," he said. "First, CIA approved the president's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Second, I am responsible for the approval process in my agency. And third, the president had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound."

The WashPost obligingly provides the "crucial evidence" upon which much of this media frenzy has been based:
A former diplomat was sent by the CIA to the region to check on the allegations and reported back that one of the Nigerian officials he met "stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office," Tenet said.

And that "former diplomat" would be...none other than Joseph C. Wilson IV, right?

So Wilson was "unaware of any contract being signed." Hmm. So, what? Case closed? Whether true or not, one is led to believe that Saddam couldn't have "sought" to acquire anything without making Joseph C. Wilson IV aware of it. And in addition, Saddam would have to have had a contract signed. Nothing else would do, apparently--not a verbal contract, not a "seeking" of nuclear materials from either Niger, Somalia or the Congo (as suggested on Foxnews' Special with Brit Hume).

Oh, well. Good ole George tenet. What a team player to fall on his own sword. E tu, Bush?

But what a knucklehead. May wrote that "Mr. Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA" to verify the uranium claim. Why send Wilson? Tenet may as well have sent Terry McCauliffe, Howard Dean, or the French-looking J.F.Kerry, who happens to have served in Vietnam.

But of course, the dailykos still smells a conspiracy. Nothing gets past them.

The BBC of Saudi Arabia, Arabnews, describes Iran as an innocent present and future likely victim of US aggression in Who's turn is it next?

It was too easy to take the bait:

OK, so the US is influencing events in Iran and denying visas.

On the other hand, Iran is actively funding "resistence" in Iraq. And along with Syria and Lebanon, is bringing in fighters to destabilize Iraq.

Sounds like a fair fight to me, right? Just bring on the fight, and quit your bitching.

You try to tie the US down in Iraq to delay our coming after Iran. We try to destabilize Iran with the students. Oh, and we'll leave you rich princes in Saudi Arabia to fend for yourselves since your paymasters are also financing "resistance" in Iraq.

And the denial of visas? Boo Freaking Hoo! If the US is such a Great Satan, then why bother coming here and defiling yourselves.

Paul S.

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