Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Oliver Stone Is A Bastard


With a title like that, you may be expecting a somewhat humorous post. If that's the case, then I'm sorry that I must disappoint you. What this post is about is trying to expose one self-important bastard's black heart and to try to gin up in you the kind of righteous indignation that this sorry excuse for a human being brings forth in me. Here are a couple of quotes from Mr. Stone.

The director of “Natural Born Killers,” “JFK,” and other controversial films is quoted as saying, “We’re Hollywood wackos and all that stuff, left-wing… (It’s) an easy and facile dismissal. I’m still a citizen, I’ve served my country as a veteran. … We have a right to speak and every time we speak: ‘You’re an actor, a showbusiness director,’ [as if] we’re making it up! This is not a way of dealing with people. This is slander.”

That was a quote Oliver Stone gave to the LA Times. Here is a different quote, the kind of quote that he evidently feels should be immune from criticism:


“I think the revolt of September 11th was about ‘Fuck you! Fuck your order … The Arabs have a point! … Does anybody make a connection between the 2000 election and the events of September 11th? Look for the thirteenth month!

“This attack was pure chaos, and chaos is energy. All great changes have come from people or events that were initially misunderstood, and seemed frightening, like madmen. Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Gates …”

No one said you couldn't speak your mind, you egotistical bastard. But I'll be damned if you feel your status as an artist or a creative person makes you untouchable to the vast majority of the American people who would consider such a statement beyond ignorant. Personally, I consider Mr. Stone and his ilk to be nothing less than fifth columnists operating towards the defeat of our country in a time of war. His right to sedition is guaranteed by our Constitution, but that doesn't mean he should be innoculated from our loathing.

Because of my strong feelings on this matter, I am going to violate one of our unwritten rules on this blog.

Well, here it goes: FUCK YOU, OLIVER!

(H/T Libertas)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Denver is happiness in my rear view mirror


It has been quite sometime since I posted. For that I apologize. I have no great excuse and we all know I feel about excuses anyway: They are like third string quarterbacks; Every team has one but in the end, they are useless. During my absence, I have found myself to really despise the city of Denver and the state of Colorado. That's a different story. Now it's time to talk about Major League Baseball. Let's briefly talk about this steroid investigation. For Bud Selig to investigate steroids is like Tony Soprano's wife investigating him. You've slept in the same bed with him for years, profited off his business and now after all this time, you want the truth? You knew what was going on but you decided to deny it. This is an investigation into past steroid us. In no way am I defending the players but I must pose this question: Did these players break any rules under the Major League Baseball guidelines when and if they took steroids? Another question: Did major league baseball GM's and managers encourage the use of steroids? Yes, I'm serious. Did these guys approach the players and tell them that their careers won't last forever so you must do what you have to in order to succeed in the now and after saying that, leave the room so they couldn't admit to know what was being done? Your thoughts.....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Second Coming of Gordon

On Christmas I receive presents, most likely in the ‘stuff-you’ll-never-use’ format. On Easter I receive candy, most likely in the ‘is that from last year’ format. And on Opening Day of the major league baseball season I always receive a tingle up the spine, most likely in the ‘soon to be heart-break’ format.

It’s inevitable that my beloved Royals will falter, but the thing about baseball is that anything can happen. Whoops…scratch that. The thing about baseball is that only 15 teams can really compete and most of the overpaid players use performance-enhancing drugs due to an authoritarian that’s as much to blame as the new-age fans that surfaced during the Summer of ’98 (which holds strong comparisons to the Summer of Sam).

But my Royals have a secret weapon this season. He’s a weapon that will change the fortunes of the franchise for years to come. Sure, Johnny Damon was unfairly compared to George Brett. Jim Pittsley fielded comparisons to Randy Johnson. Hell, even Bob Hamelin was compared to Babe Ruth, though it has yet to be determined if that was because of his girth or his adulation of the long-ball.

All I’m saying is that this top-secret weapon hit .333 in 18 spring training games. He took walks with the same frequency that Jesus performed miracles. He attended the University of Nebraska which is near Jerusalem. His father was a carpenter…I think. And when this young man ditches his customary thongs and dining table robes to don his baseball uniform all he must do to be reminded of his likeness is look out into centerfield at David DeJESUS.

All I’m saying is that Alex Hoobastank Gordon shouldn’t be unfairly compared to anyone, despite his unquestionable talents. Amen.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Linkage (Updated)

It's a slow Monday, so a link to Winds of Change's excellent Winds of War is all that I have for right not. It's a really wonderful wrap-up of everything that is happening in every corner of the world as it relates to the War. Check it out.

As I find more interesting links, I'll update this post. Have a great Monday, or at least the best Monday possible.

**UPDATE**

Here's a post about the role of our "friends" the Russians from In From The Cold.

This article by Michael Ledeen covers the same ground.

While we're at National Review, this interview with Charles Murray discusses an idea I think we can all get behind.

Want a little entertainment, Greg? Well, this little excerpt defies all description. God bless the Michael Bay Blog! (and thanks to the Galley Slaves for pointing this one out)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this link-o-rama. If you did, next time I feel to lazy to create something original I'll do this again. If you didn't, well go to hell. You're not my real dad (or mom)!

Toodles

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jump! For My Love (Of Holly Robinson-Peete)

In a previous post, Greg pointed out that I have eschewed the humorous posts. This has not been for a lack of interest, rather it has been because of a lack of material to post on. By material, I of course mean good, entertaining TV shows. Honestly, TV in today's world sucks. I have 400 channels, and there is nothing on any of them. I usually find the most engaging TV show to be a Senate Committee hearing on C-SPAN 2. It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, Television truly had a golden age. Magnum, P. I. could be seen five times a week, and the A-Team was always around if no one else could help (and if you could find them). David Hasselhoff was driving around in John Adams and Jan-Michael Vincent was busy flying secret missions for the government with a secretary and a fat old man.

Then, in 1987, television (and specifically action shows) reached its crescendo with 21 Jump Street. Sure, you might think a bunch of 20-something police officers wouldn't be able to pass as high-school sophomores, but then again you aren't Johnny Depp, with his boyish good looks and baby-smooth skin. Together with Holly Robinson (later -Peete) and Dustin Nguyen ("Harry"), the Lenny-like Peter DeLuise and Johnny Depp's evil doppelganger (Richard Greico), Captain Fuller had the pushers and 'bangers in his sights. No small-scale narcotics distribution network stood a chance against these intrepid crime-fighters.

To our everlasting disappointment, this brat pack of counternarcotics couldn't last forever. The country couldn't handle their in-your-face style forever. You know, "the man" always going to get you in the end. Besides that, when the undercover cop "students" start looking older than their teachers, as well as older than the cast of "Thirtysomething", then you know that this marriage of The Breakfast Club and Dragnet is on the rocks and headed for divorce. Besides, Michael DeLuise is a massive tool and killed a show that was already on life support (sorry about he mixed metaphors).

Anyway, this revolutionary fusion of John Hughes and Donald P. Bellesario, of teenage angst and hard-nosed police work, was nice while it lasted. We will morn your passing, 21 Jump Street, and revel in the nostalgia of your reruns.

Saved by the Veracity

I was a bit perplexed the other day when a colleague compared his recent obsession with the NCAA college basketball tournament to Jessie Spano’s addiction to caffeine pills in a 1991 classic “Saved by the Bell” episode. I wasn’t baffled by Jessie’s college of choice, Stansbury, being absent from the Field of 64. No, what was disturbing was that my colleague thought “Saved by the Bell” was appropriate for realistic comparison.

There are a number of problems with this. First of all, when you attended high school did you share EVERY SINGLE class with your friends? Did your high school change zip codes from Indiana to California? Did the same said high school strike oil on the football field rendering the high school rich?

Oh, yeah…was the most popular guy the annoying, closet-cased, blonde-haired slacker? Or, was the valedictorian (sans Jessie’s selfish attempt) the guy who couldn’t execute a simple plan? Better yet, was the popular gang at your high school the over-achieving bunch who was nauseatingly involved in EVERY high school activity?

Heck, was your high school the alma mater of a Debbie Gibson-esque singer? Did your high school also host a popular pot-smoking actor’s anti-drug commercial? Did your gaggle of friends, at some point, all work for your local hang-out and yet when it was established that none of you could cut the proverbial mustard you all ended up still calling the hangout your “home away from home”?

Or, does anyone really share that close of a relationship with their ultra-unpopular principal? Don’t think for a minute I forgot that there were two senior years, albeit the Tori years can easily be erased from memory.

My point is that while “Saved by the Bell” is/was one of the greatest shows in recent television history, it shouldn’t be a grounds for realistic comparisons. Of course, “California Dreams”…well, that’s a different story.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Churchill Friday


I just love Winston Churchill. To me, he is the greatest leader of the 20th Century. He was an iconoclast, loved the British Empire, and worked for his entire life to strengthen and perpetuate it. But he loved liberty more. It has been said that Churchill gave up the Empire in order to fight Hitler, even when he could have made a separate peace with "Mr. Hitler" (As Churchill often called him).

Because of my tremendous admiration for Sir Winston Churchill, I am starting a new feature here at G&G. Every friday will be Churchill Friday. I will provide a Churchill quote or interesting anecdote involving Winston Churchill.

Here is an excerpt from his speech to Parliament after Dunkirk:

Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. In the days of Napoleon the same wind which would have carried his transports across the Channel might have driven away the blockading fleet. There was always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many Continental tyrants. Many are the tales that are told. We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous maneuver. I think that no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a searching, but at the same time, I hope, with a steady eye. We must never forget the solid assurances of sea power and those which belong to air power if it can be locally exercised.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

(Information provided By The Churchill Centre. For more information, please click on The Churchill Centre link.)

To War Or Not To War?



For this post, I will require some feedback.

Two of my favorite columnists, Charles Krauthammer (a.k.a. the Smartest Man Alive, pictured on the lower right) and Ralph Peters (pictured to the left), have written two columns on Iraq and Civil War. Both make excellent points and I can see the merits in each of their arguments. The only problem is that the main thrust of their articles are diametrically opposed to each other.

Please read the articles and comment on them. The articles are short and shouldn't take up too much of your time.

Here are the articles:

Of Couse Its A Civil War
By Charles Krauthammer

Civil War In Iraq: Not Even Close
by Ralph Peters

Read these and tell me what you think!


(Thanks for the idea, Mark Coffey. )

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Scrubbing the Feeling

Remember when you were little and everything was edible and nothing was impossible? Sure, reality has reduced your dreams to a puddle of empty promises and Dr. Atkins has made your Cheetos and Peanut Butter sandwich an endangered species, but still there remains hope that two incompatible entities can still unite as one to become something great…right?

So, in 1976 a little known band out of Boston hit the airwaves. They garnered respect for their synthesizing “Long Time” and Tom Schloz’s rockin’ guitar solo on “Peace of Mind”, but the real genius was released on “More Than A Feeling”.

Jump ahead to 2001 when little known Zach Braff, a pack of C-list actors, and the always gratifying John C. MicGinley headed up NBC’s “Scrubs”. The show focuses on Dr. J.D. and his adulation for day dreams. Of course, his best friend and co-worker Dr. Turk complements J.D.’s every move.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Cheetos (the band Boston) and Peanut Butter (Scrubs)…together at last.

CHEETOS AND PEANUT BUTTER

Sunday, March 19, 2006

How Do You Say "Bob" In Arabic?

In atonement for my last, exceeding-long post, I give you the interview with a Guantanamo Bay detainee, a detainee nicknamed "Pimp Daddy":

Ali was brought before the military tribunal that is determining whether he and the several hundred other Guantanamo detainees should continue to be held as enemy combatants. At the outset of his hearing, Ali thanked America for getting rid of Saddam's "cruel regime," which he said killed one of his uncles. Ali claimed he had escaped service in Saddam's Republican Guard and decried the Butcher of Baghdad's poor treatment of his fellow citizens. He even professed a desire to become an "American person."

So far so good. But then, something odd happened. Ali launched into an obscenity-laden rant that takes up much of the 24-page record of his tribunal proceeding.
He is clearly a very angry man. But why? Is it the occupation of his native Baghdad? His detention at Gitmo?

No. Ali explains:

My problem isn't just that I am poor, or that Saddam's government killed my second uncle. My problem, I'm sorry to say in front of the two ladies, but I want the Judge to know everything about me. I was never a "homo" or gay, but I have a problem. I can't get married because my penis is small-sized. I went to the doctor and they said there is no help. They said I couldn't have an operation or surgery of any kind because I'm poor. I want to get the operation or drugs in America or Europe. Who can help me? . . .

This problem has taken all of my life and my thinking. For example, when I was in school, a lot of my friends were married. I look at my friends and say they have a good life. I can't stay in my house, because my father and mother are waiting very anxiously for me to get married. She says she has a nice girl for me to marry, because she says this is my goal in life. I run away from these questions from my mom. I told her that I want to go to college and be a good person. My family said it was a bulls--reason and that I'm Arab and I can marry and complete my life. I can't stand the sight of my mom, because she says, "my son, I want to see your kids." I just kiss my mom and I say "maybe someday."

In America this is only a little problem, but in my home and in my life, it's very difficult when the days get dark, because I hate running from my people. I feel someday I'll go back to my home and I'm sure that all of my friends are married now. This is not just me in my family; it's also my younger brother. He was born in 1980. He's big and is a nice guy, but has the same problem. I know about my brother, but my family doesn't.

I guess this means that Enzyte is a strategic asset in the War on Terror.

As always, I urge you to read the entire article.

The Liberation of Iraq - Three Years On

Since this weekend marks the third anniversary of the liberation of Iraq, I've decided to mark the occasion by beginning a project I have intended to begin for a long time. A couple of years ago I started to archive news articles and columns dealing with the issues at the heart of our beginning a war with Saddam Hussein, and Hussein's role in the larger War on Terror. I am going to begin to transfer these articles over to this blog, providing links to the articles and also providing a summary of the articles. After completing this, I plan to discuss recent evidence which as emerged due to the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence releasing documents captured in Iraq after the fall of the Regime in 2003.

This first article deals with terrorists being trained in Saddam's terrorist training camps. Here are a few important paragraphs:

THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

The secret training took place primarily at three camps--in Samarra, Ramadi, and Salman Pak--and was directed by elite Iraqi military units. Interviews by U.S. government interrogators with Iraqi regime officials and military leaders corroborate the documentary evidence. Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis. According to three officials with knowledge of the intelligence on Iraqi training camps, White House and National Security Council officials were briefed on these findings in May 2005; senior Defense Department officials subsequently received the same briefing.

Later in that same article, this was revealed by a source working in the Intelligence Community:

Other officials familiar with the captured documents were less cautious. "As much as we overestimated WMD, it appears we underestimated [Saddam Hussein's] support for transregional terrorists," says one intelligence official.

Speaking of Ansar al Islam, the al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that operated in northern Iraq, the former high-ranking military intelligence officer says: "There is no question about the fact that AI had reach into Baghdad. There was an intelligence connection between that group and the regime, a financial connection between that group and the regime, and there was an equipment connection. It may have been the case that the IIS [Iraqi Intelligence Service] support for AI was meant to operate against the [anti-Saddam] Kurds. But there is no question IIS was supporting AI."

The official continued: "[Saddam] used these groups because he was interested in extending his influence and extending the influence of Iraq. There are definite and absolute ties to terrorism. The evidence is there, especially at the network level. How high up in the government was it sanctioned? I can't tell you. I don't know whether it was run by Qusay [Hussein] or [Izzat Ibrahim] al-Duri or someone else. I'm just not sure. But to say Iraq wasn't involved in terrorism is flat wrong."

This article is critical of the final report of the 9/11 commission for excluding certain facts:

The Special Operations Command data-mining program, which according to three public witnesses identified Mohammed Atta as a potential terrorist 18 months before September 11, wasn't included in the final report and was apparently ignored by the Commission's staff on at least two occasions. When confronted by this new evidence, the Commission changed its story several times over one week, eventually settling on a rebuttal which hinged on discrediting the one witness who had come forward. By the time another week had gone by, two more witnesses had appeared--and further damaged the Commission's credibility.

INSTEAD OF BEING THE DEFINITIVE WORD on September 11, the report has begun to resemble a literary equivalent of Swiss cheese as more and more data came out about what else the Commission missed in its report, either by chance or by design. These data points, or dots as the Commissioners themselves called them, did not have the opportunity for connection in their report:

* The target=_blank>trial and conviction of Mohammed Afroze in India, for his part in a conspiracy to use airplanes to bomb four overseas targets on 9/11/01 using commercial flights out of Heathrow Airport in London.

* The second memo from U.S. District Attorney Mary Jo White in response to the notorious memo from Deputy Attorney General Jamie
S. Gorelick, warning that the implications of the memo will create insurmountable obstacles for prevention of terrorist attacks in the United States. In fact, the report barely mentions the Gorelick memo at all. It certainly never mentions the fact that the Gorelick memo was sent to the Office of Intelligence and Policy Review, which provided legal advice to all government agencies on the use and sharing of intelligence information with Department of Justice agencies.

* A July 21, 2001 editorial in a state-run Iraqi newspaper, al-Nasiriyah, which predicted the three targets of the September 11 attacks two months beforehand. This editorial read was read into the Congressional record by Senator Fritz Hollings on September 12, 2002.

* On July 26, 2001, an Iranian espionage agent told CIA agents in Baku, Azerbaijan, that Osama bin Laden would attack the United States on 9/11 using six men who had already entered the country via Iran. When pressed for his sources, the agent told them that Iranian intelligence knew all about the plot.

* The discovery and arrest of two Iraqi spies in Germany in February 2001, which the Germans claimed at the time exposed an extensive Iraqi espionage network operating in several German cities--at the same time three of the four 9/11 lead hijackers traveled to or through Germany, the only time it ever happened after their successful entry into the United States. Almost six moths to the day before the 9/11 attacks, an Arabic newspaper in Paris described the arrests as relating to the suspicion that radical Islamists, and specifically Osama bin Laden, had started working with the Iraqis to target American interests around the world.

* A memo from the State Department warned Bill Clinton in 1996 that its intelligence services had determined that the United States had to stop Osama bin Laden from relocating to Afghanistan, or al Qaeda would grow into an even more dangerous threat. The report also fails to mention a later Clinton administration effort to offer the Taliban official recognition if they handed bin Laden over to our custody.

* German intelligence analysts concluded in 2002 that radical Islamist terrorists such as al Qaeda worked with Iraqi intelligence services through contacts in the German neo-Nazi community.

* As Stephen Hayes points out, the Commission failed to include Ahmed Hikmat Shakir and Abdul Rahman Yasin--despite their connections to the first World Trade Center bombing and the 9/11 hijackers.

None of the above data points is mentioned in the Commission's final report. They all indicate a possibility that other state sponsors had close ties to al Qaeda. They also indicate that the scope of the Islamist war has little to do with American policy but instead with the establishment of a latter-day caliphate for the ummah, and after that, global Islamist domination. More to the point, however, they all demonstrate--along with Able Danger--that the intelligence services had recognized the threat and tried to take at least some action to stop it before it could fully form against the United States.

I am sorry for the already-excessive length of this post. For the time being, this article and excerpt will be the last one included in this blog posting. This deals withan Iraqi intelligence official who was deeply involved in the world of terrorism:

From the evidence now available, it seems clear that Saddam Hussein did not direct the 9/11 attacks. Few people have ever claimed he did. But some four years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and one year after the 9/11 Commission released its final report, there is much we do not know. The determination of these officials to write out of the history any Iraqi involvement in terrorism against America has contributed mightily to public misperceptions about the former Iraqi regime and the war on terror.

HERE IS WHAT WE KNOW TODAY about
Ahmed Hikmat Shakir. In August 1999, Shakir, a 37-year-old Iraqi, accepted a position as a "facilitator" at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A "facilitator" works for an airline and assists VIP travelers with paperwork required for entry and other logistical issues. Shakir got the job because someone in the Iraqi embassy in Malaysia wanted him to have it. He started that fall.

Although Shakir officially worked for Malaysian Airlines, his contact in the Iraqi embassy controlled his schedule. On January 5, 2000, Shakir apparently received an assignment from his embassy contact. He was to escort a recent arrival through immigration at the airport. Khalid al Mihdhar, a well-connected al Qaeda member who would later help hijack American Airlines Flight 77, had come to Malaysia for an important al Qaeda meeting that would last at least three days. (Shakir may have also assisted Nawaf al Hazmi, another hijacker, thought to have arrived on January 4, 2000.)

Malaysian intelligence photographed Shakir greeting al Mihdhar at the airport and walking him to a waiting car. But rather than see the new arrival off, he hopped in the car with al Mihdhar and accompanied him to the meeting. Malaysian intelligence has provided its photographs to the CIA. While U.S. officials can place Shakir at the meeting with the hijackers and several high-ranking al Qaeda operatives, they do not know whether Shakir participated actively. (Also present at the meeting were Hambali, al Qaeda's top man in South Asia, and Khallad, later identified as the mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole.)

The meeting concluded on January 8, 2000. Shakir reported to work at the airport on January 9 and January 10, and then never again. Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaz al Hazmi also disappeared briefly, then flew from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles on January 15, 2000.
Shakir, the Iraqi-born facilitator, would be arrested six days after the September 11 attacks by authorities in Doha, Qatar. According to an October 7, 2002, article by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman, "A search of Shakir's apartment in Doha, the country's capital, yielded a treasure trove, including telephone records linking him to suspects in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and Project Bojinka, a 1994 Manila plot to blow up civilian airliners over the Pacific Ocean." (Isikoff, it should be noted, has been a prominent skeptic of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection.)

Shakir had contact information for a lot of bad people. As noted, one was a Kuwaiti, Ibrahim Suleiman, whose fingerprints were found on the bombmaking manuals U.S. authorities allege were used in preparation for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Suleiman was convicted of perjury and deported to Jordan. Another was Musab Yasin, the brother of 1993 Trade Center bomber Abdul Rahman Yasin. Yet another was Zahid Sheikh Mohammed, brother of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, now in U.S. custody. Shakir also had an old number for Taba Investments, an al Qaeda front group. It was the number long used by Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim, the highest-ranking Iraqi member of al Qaeda. According to testimony from al Qaeda informants, Salim maintained a good relationship with Saddam's intelligence service.

I have discussed Shakir with nine U.S. government officials--policymakers and intelligence officials alike. The timeline above represents the consensus view.

With all of these excerpts, I urge you to read the original documents. I chose excerpts I felt best captured the essence of these articles, yet to get the true importance of the information, please read the originals. This is especially true with the last article. The issues surrounding Hikmat Shakir are complex and I feel I did not truly do them justice.

Once again, I am sorry for the length of this posting. There should be more of these posts coming, for I have many more articles archived.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Andrew McCarthy: Distinguished American


Andrew McCarthy is a true American hero. Of course he's a legendary actor, appearing in such classics as St. Elmo's Fire and Weekend at Bernie's. But did you know that in between acting stints, Mr. McCarthy is hard at work keeping our country safe? What? You didn't know that? Well here's a look at Andrew McCarthy's biography:

Andrew C. McCarthy
Legal Commentator, Terrorism Expert [not to mention first-class actor]


Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor and a Contributor at National Review Online. From 1993 through 1996, while an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he led the prosecution against the jihad organization of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in which a dozen Islamic militants were convicted of conducting a war of urban terrorism against the United States that included the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Mr. McCarthy also made major contributions to the prosecutions of the bombers of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the Millennium plot attack Los Angeles International Airport.

Following the September 11 attacks, Mr. McCarthy supervised the U.S. Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Command Post in New York City, coordinating investigative and preventive efforts with numerous federal and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. From 1999 through 2003, he was the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District's satellite office, responsible for federal law enforcement in six counties north of New York City.

Mr. McCarthy is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Justice Department's highest honors: the Attorney General's Exceptional Service Award (1996) and Distinguished Service Award (1988). He has served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and as an Associate Independent Counsel in the investigation of a former cabinet official. He has also been an Adjunct Professor of Law both at the Fordham University School of Law and at New York Law School.

He writes extensively on a variety of legal, social and political issues for National Review and Commentary, among other publications, as well as providing commentary for various television and radio broadcasts.

The observation in bold is mine. It is also true.

Now we see the true, multi-faceted Andrew McCarthy. While he was on the set Pretty in Pink, he was also serving as a Special Assiatant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Want to know why Weekend At Bernie's II sucked? Well, it's kind of hard to give 100% effort in acting while you're prosecuting The Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel Rahman. Why didn't the folks who bombed the Marine Barracks in Lebanon in 1983 get brought to justice? Mr. McCarthy can only give so much for his country. His acting is his art! If the choice was between St. Elmo's Fire and Hezbollah, well there's only one choice a true artist can make. We also now know why he's been out of the acting business for such a long stretch. Kind of hard to act while you're supervising the U.S. Attorney's Anti-Terrorism Command Post in New York City! Well, the Department of Justice's loss is the American viewing public's gain. Since leaving public service in 2003, Mr. McCarthy has devoted himself to several acting project such as the renowned Kingdom Hospital and the equally acclaimed E-Ring (supposedly based on Mr. McCarthy's days in the Pentagon). While the tragic loss of these shows demonstrates the fact that the American people are not quite ready for the raw power of Mr. McCarthy's presence on either the small or big screen, we anxiously await his next outing, either in the world of acting, or counter-terrorism.

If you can't tell by now, I'm a true McCarthy-ite. I believe in McCarthyism and I just know that the rest of this country will as well.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Everybody Cut Footloose? No Thanks.

Fire up the DeLorean, because we’re going back to the year 1984 to the Western town of Bomont. A town where everyone has been working so hard, been punching their cards…and they’ve got this feeling, that time’s still holding them down.

Ren McCormack, the new boy from Chicago who has an ardor for dancing, is looking to shake up little Bomont. Of course that will be tough considering Reverend Shaw Moore and the town outlawed dancing and rock music, because it’s viewed as “easy sexuality and relaxed morality”.

This is where will stop the film. Let’s ignore the fact that even the most totalitarian societies allow dancing. Let’s disregard that McCormack is an Irish name and it’s common knowledge that the Irish don’t dance or practice homosexuality. Heck, let’s even ignore Kevin Bacon’s character giving an impassioned speech in front of the town council in which he actually says in a non-sardonic tone, “This is our time to dance!”

My problem with the movie “Footloose” is that I can’t relate to Ren McCormack’s battle cry for dancing. (This isn’t isolated to the fact that my dance moves include The Robot and The Muppet Dance.) If some snot-nosed hippie came in to my sleepy town with some big ideas of dancing up a storm, I’m pretty sure I’d break his legs. If not his legs, then definitely his censored spirit.

I don’t have anything against easy sexuality or relaxed morals, but I’m not about to back the plight of some wiener who feels the need to share some cheesy dance steps. Even more, it makes me sick to think that ol’ Ren could turn a bunch of goodie-two-shoes into a group that can then instantaneously perform highly choreographed dance numbers.

If I lived in Bomont in 1984 I would have sported a buzz cut, complemented by my white shirt and rolled up jeans, and I would’ve sat in the back with the Rev. I would load my 22-shotgun and eye the first “antagonist” to take out. Then I would lean over to the Rev and say, “Why don’t you go fire up the DeLorean…”

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Evolving Understanding of Soverignty (Updated)

Update at the bottom

On my previous post, Greg had this comment:

You know, I go back and forth on this issue. It's sort of a catch-22.I don't think we should be bullies and force our beliefs on a culture that doesn't embrace it. However, I can see where pulling out of Iraq now would have repercussions far worse than Vietnam.

That is a legitimate point, and deserves to be addressed. Only addressing this point requires much more than can be said in a simple comment.

"Being bullies and forcing our beliefs on a culture that doesn't embrace it" means, in this case Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan must be included in this discussion because the democratization path was laid by our intervention in Afghanistan. We swooped into Afghanistan in order to destroy a regime that threatened us. The threat was much more immediate in Afghanistan, but the strategy followed is identical to what is being done in Iraq.

In both the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, the purpose of our intervention was to pre-empt a threat to our national security. A group of people labeled the "to-hell-with-them Hawks" propose dropping the "forcing our beliefs" portion of our war strategy and instead focusing on simply applying massive military force to perceived threats, destroying them, and leaving. As these people say, "rubble won't make trouble". With the world the way it is today, that path is monstrously irresponsible. I believe that we can't go around indescriminantly bombing any country we view as a threat. We can't kill people and run away. If we engage, we must engage fully, to the point of changing their government (this has been labelled "regime change"). This leads me to my second point.

Mass graves, torture rooms and genocide do not a culture make. Toppling a dictatorial regime and nurturing a pluralistic spirit does not constitute cultural imperialism. Popularly elected leaders, an independent judiciary, and honest civil servants are not solely features of Western governments. Culturally, the Iraqi and Afghani people are still independent peoples. The leaders of the two nations have been chosen by their peoples, and their founding documents were written by those freely elected leaders. Toppling the Taliban and Saddam's Iraq were not attacks on Arab culture, rather these were violations of their soverignty. Soverignty is a value-neutral concept. Both virtuous and evil regimes exist within soverign states. The modern international system was set up under the Treaty of Westphalia, and declared that the nation-state was the highest form of polity. This did not prevent Great Power war over the next 300 years, and its limitations should not be expected to limit a power from defending itself from a threat simply because that threat emanates from a soverign state. When soverignty protects a massive evil like Saddam Hussein, and allows collusion with our sworn enemies within that state, soverignty loses all value and that state deserves to be smashed. After that, we would be negligent in our responsibilities as a leader of nations to leave that crushed nation in a state of anarchy and devestation. Soverignty and belligerence cannot be allowed to exist together

In short, we had a responsibility to our people, our nation, to remove the grave threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had a responsibility to the Iraqi and Afghani people, and to the world, to provide the people under those regimes a modicum of freedom and security.

Once again, a great comment, Greg.

Update:

As always, someone said what I was trying to say in a much more eloquent and capable manner than I am able to do. Here's Andrew McCarthy (?) at National Review:

This war was about national security, and the imperative of eradicating the Islamist terror network and states that promote it. It was not about democracy-building. The legacy of the Iraq war critically depends not on what kind of government Iraq ends up having, but on making the public case that Saddam was a terror-monger – that he was leading the paragon of regime-type President Bush rightly said had to change or be ousted right after 9/11.

For too long, people in the intelligence community (who were vested in the delusion that secular Saddam would never make common cause with Islamo-fascists), and people in the media and on the Left (who revile the administration) have been in no great hurry to see come to light evidence that would support the Iraq initiative. (For example, with all the news we read about intelligence failure in Iraq, how often have you seen reported in the mainstream press what Steve reported a few months ago in the Standard: to wit, that we are holding in Gitmo an Iraqi who is charged with having gone to Pakistan with Iraqi intelligence to explore blowing up the U.S. embassy there in August 1998 … the very same month al Qaeda blew up our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania)

'08 Straw Poll

I found this on another site, and I think its kind of neat. Just pick who you would want to see as the nominee, and who you would not like to see as the nominee. You can pick more than one for each category. For instance, I picked McCain, Romney and Newt Gingrich as the people I would like to see get the nomination. I picked George Alle, Bill Frist, Chuck Hagel, George Pataki and Tom Tancredo as the people I would NOT like to see run. I hope this works out well!



Monday, March 13, 2006

Everybody Do the Bart-Man!


The truly disappointing thing is, I don't know which I want more: his shirt or his hat. Either way, we can't forget to "Embrace the Knight".

Say Anything...Just Not That

So, you have a problem and you don’t know who to call. No, you can’t call the Ghost-Busters for help with inner, life-altering, concerns. And no, not even Zack Morris can always come through with an E.T.-memory-that-is-somehow-attached-to-drug-use diatribe.

The Zen Master is Lloyd Doblar. Better known as John Cusack’s character in the 1989 cinematically great “Say Anything…”

You’re having trouble fixing the clog in the sink that McGwire left from all of his hair loss in 1998…Lloyd?

"One question: do you need...someone, or do you need me? Forget it, I don't care."

You're having trouble finding a prom dress...Lloyd?

"I am looking for a dare to be great situation."

You’re contemplating slicing your wrists because you just spent over 3 hours watching “Titanic” when you could have been playing frisbee…Lloyd?

"You probably got it all figured out. If you start out depressed everything's kind of a pleasant surprise."

You're having trouble with Mr. Alba because he questions why you're a male nurse...Lloyd?

"What I really want to do with my life - what I want to do for a living - is I want to be with your daughter. I'm good at it."

You're trying to find the silver lining in owning the world's last Scooby-Doo scribble pen...Lloyd?

“I gave her my heart…she gave me a pen.”

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Big Mac brings a special sauce to his legacy




September 8th 1998

8:08 P.M. EST.

Perhaps one of baseball's greatest moments in the history of the game. Four years removed from the strike that sent so many fans away in anger and disgust, Mark McGwire's 62nd home run off Cub's pitcher Steve Trachsel sent the country into a state of jubilation. For that single moment, everything in the sport was right. There was no talk about steroids or contracts. No players leaving for the World Baseball Classic. And perhaps most importantly, no questioning of McGwire's natural athletic ability.

In 1987, this slim rookie from USC set a rookie record by hitting 49 home runs. He was as big as Mookie Wilson but much more potent at the plate. Throughout his career, when healthy, McGwire continued to pound the ball at an astonishing rate. However, steroids will forever be associated with his legacy. Despite his accomplishments on the field, he may never make it to the Hall of Fame. In my opinion, that is unacceptable. However, I am only one man and my opinion basically counts for nothing.

But now there is a new player. A player whose presence strikes fear into the heart of pitchers. Even though he is on the field with other talented athletes, he is not one of them. He is better than them. He has no weaknesses. He can beat you with his glove or his bat. He can even steal a base when called upon. He has accomplished more than Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and other greats in his first five years of major league service.


He can be the best baseball player that ever played, and he wishes to be. Steroids never come into question with this young man. For this reason above all, his capacity for greatness, the baseball gods have sent us...

Batman for President?


Okay, we here at G&G usually leave the political dialogues to Colin, but I have a radical idea for the left side of America: nominate George Clooney for President in 2008.

I know what you’re thinking, “Actors make as good of political leaders as saran wrap does toilet paper.”

Here’s the thing, Ronald Reagan was a great leader and “The Great Communicator”. Ahnold blows, but that’s because the state of California always goes off image. And nominating Clooney would seem like the same song and dance. However, Clooney is a good-looking lad, but isn’t the presidency a human glove-puppet anyway, right? As long as he surrounds himself with good people, he’ll be okay.

The right would have a field day with his comments about Jack Abramoff and the Iraq war, but it’s not like he was making outrageous claims.

Besides, he’s a better speaker than Bush and his only blemish is that he’s single. Of course, Clooney doesn’t come off as the skirt-chasing pervert that JFK was and JFK was married.

I’m sure the American right would make Clooney out to be another loopy Hollywood liberal, but Clooney is far from the Hollywood norm: a good-looking, independently minded, faltered-Catholic, who is actually clean-and-sober. His movies (especially his 2005 films) aren’t exactly politically, deep-seated agitprop. “Syriana” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” are more civics lessons than liberal heresy, and as his Best Supporting Actor speech suggested, Clooney is just engaged with today’s world, rather than a Hollywood bonehead.

I’m not saying Clooney would make a great President, but I do believe he’d be a better candidate than the cocky-poop that’s been trotted out in the past two elections. Don’t take this post as my full-fledged endorsement. I just think the guy should be forgiven for “Revenge of the Killer Tomatoes”.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Barry, Barry...Quite Contrary

This week Sports Illustrated pulls excerpts from “Game of Shadows”, the latest book to indict a major league baseball player of using performance enhancing drugs. This time the book targets Barry Bonds and the evidence is as overpowering as his mid-summer moon shots.

With 708 home runs, Barry Bonds stands a legitimate chance at breaking Hank Aaron’s mark for most homers in a career. Barry’s egotistical attitude and bullying of the media are just some of the reasons his reputation is what it is today. But, when steroids enters the realm the ballgame changes, just ask McGwire, Sosa, and Raffy.

Even Barry’s most loyal of fans can’t dispute the allegations of steroid use. Sure, Barry was a certifiable Hall of Famer before he allegedly started using in 1998 (out of jealous of McGwire and Sosa’s public perception, no less). And selfish Barry couldn’t stand it; so in came Greg Anderson, in came BALCO, in came steroids, and out went the innocence of the game.

For the fans’ sake, baseball’s sake, and even Barry’s sake he needs to walk away. He needs to pack up and head into the sunset and let us forget him. He doesn’t deserve baseball. He deserves his BALCO buddies and his steroid-enhanced head, but he doesn’t deserve any sympathy.

Alas, Bond’s ego will probably prevail and the record that Aaron worked so hard to achieve will be broken by a cheater. It’s as annoying as the pimples on Barry’s back, but it’s the price baseball pays for ushering in the steroid era.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Last Serious Post For A Little While (I promise)

The enemy is not idealistic or egalitarian, but clearly pre-modern and fascist. The more we are told that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror, the more al Qaeda's methods surface in Iraq and its leadership boasts that it is the new front, after Manhattan and Afghanistan. At least some in this country still believe that victory in Iraq, and the emergence of a viable government there, would have implications far beyond Iraq, inflicting a terrible defeat and humiliation on the Islamists in their own backyard.

That's why I support, and will always support, the War.

(courtesy of Victor Davis Hanson)


Now back to Jessica Alba!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

An American House of Cards


Carl von Clausewitz once said that war was (and I'm paraphrasing him here) "politics by other means". As we've seen with the incredible way that the Iraq war has been politicized, he was more right than anyone could have imagined. Using that premise as a jumping-off point, one could say that the practice of intelligence, military or civilian, is warfare by other means. Finally, rounding the circle, one could then conclude that the art, craft and practice of intelligence, as a fundamental aspect of warfare, is as susceptable to politicization as war in general is.

That fun little mental exercise leads me to my next point. The American intelligence community, through its gross politicization, has ceased to function in our national interest. One example of this was recently brought to my attention by Tom Joscelyn, blogging about a man named Michael Scheuer. Scheuer was the man in charge of the hunt for bin Laden from the mid-1990's through September 11. He is also a strident critic of the entire war on terror, and holds beliefs that most Americans would consider abhorrent. Here's an example, again from Mr. Joscelyn, along with his thoughts on Mr. Scheuer's comments:

"A government is only legitimate, and can only be dealt with, if it renounces
violence and recognizes the right of all states to exist. In practice, this
means that Palestine's new Hamas government must unilaterally disarm in the face
of a demonstrably brutal enemy – backed by the unqualified support of the
world's only superpower – and willingly turn its back on a duty (jihad) that it
believes derives from God's word. In commonsense terms, this sort of voluntary
national suicide and mass apostasy seems a bit much to ask and, even more, to
realistically expect to achieve."

Got that? Israel is the "demonstrably
brutal enemy," while Hamas would be committing "voluntary national suicide" if
it renounced terrorism. If I thought it required more than two brain cells to
debunk this nonsense, then I would. But, I don't. So...

My objective here is not to take down Michael Scheuer, for others have done that and will continue to do that with much greater skill than I can muster. My point here is that, up until a few years ago, this man was the top bin Laden guy at the CIA! My point here is that the CIA, which can only function effectively if the intelligence it produces can be trusted by the principals (The President, VP, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, etc.) as being the unvarnished truth withough agenda, currently is lacking that trust. The same self-loathing post-modernist groupthink that has infected academia (anyone who has ever attended a college class can attest to this, for those who haven't, google Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky or Ward Churchill, or just go here and read any story) has worked its way into the Intelligence Community. It's not as pronounced, but just as present. The present campaign (and by "present" I mean since shortly after 9/11) of leaks of classified materials, materials in some cases damaging to national security, in other cases just inacurate or incomplete in order to cause political damage to the Administration, has very nearly brought our war effort to a screeching halt, has damaged the credibility of the Administration in a time of war, an, perhaps most importantly, has damaged the ability of the President and his key advisors to trust the assesments coming from the Intelligence Community.

Don't get me wrong, I have a tremendous amount of respect for the mission of the Intelligence Community, and for many of its members, but the mission of the Intelligence Community is too important to let unelected bureaucrats use its tremendous power and authority to wage a partisan blood feud against a sitting Administration, no matter whether that Administration is Democrat or Republican. Congress needs to probe these leaks, following on what the Department of Justice is doing. More importantly, the hiring and firing of career spooks under Porter Goss needs to continue, but at an increased rate. The criteria for hiring people needs to change, also. Investigative skills can be just as important for analysts as International Relations degrees from Johns Hopkins. The street cop and special agent practice much of the same tradecraft and use many of the same analytical tools that people in the Intelligence Community use, but practice these skills with a much greater degree of objectivity than the analytical spooks do. But with the sorry state of our intelligence capabilities today, any improvement will do.

In the beginning, I mentioned a saying by Clausewitz, and in conclusion I would like to add on to that saying with this observation; war may be politics by other means, but gathering intelligence against an enemy as shadowy as the salafist Islamists is simply battle by other means in our current war. With the current lethality and skill of our armed forces, by the time the battle is joined by our forces, it is already won. The true front lines of this war is in the seceretive and seldom-understood world of intelligence. With faulty intelligence and and intelligence community more worried about fighting perceived enemies inside the Beltway, rather than avowed enemies throughout the world, gathering strength to destroy us, no matter how skilled and how deadly our military is we risk defeat each and every day. However, when our intelligence capabilities match the capabilities and sophistication of our military forces, no threat, potential or otherwise, will ever even have the opportunity to materialize.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Of War and Total War

The picture to the left is of the Battle of the Somme, 1916. It is widely believed to be the bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. 56, ooo men were lost on the first day of battle. Combined lossed exceeded 1,000,000 men for the entire battle. This is what total war looks like.

Although some don't want to admit it, today we are engaged in a titanic struggle for the future of our very country. We are at war with a vicious ideology as insidious and as hate-filled as any of the former "-isms" we've faced in the past. What we are not at war with is the Islamic faith. We must do everything in our power to keep this war from mutating from a struggle with a violent form of fascism using the Islamic faith as cover for its own naked aggression into a struggle with the world's 1.4 billion Muslims. If we allow that war to come to pass, it will resemble our own Indian wars of the 19th century, only with nuclear weapons. In pushing towards the idea of a war with Islam, instead of a war aiding the reformers and modernizers within Islam, a strange alliance of Left and Right has formed. The left, so desperate to regain power, takes up the banner of xenophobia and isolationism, and in doing this stands with certain elements of the pre-Eisenhower (to say nothing of pre-Reagan) conservative movement, and old balance-of-power realists to oppose all change in the Islamic world, to try to try to effectively close our nation to the world, in hopes of keeping the dangerous and foreign "other" out. This explains the opposition to the Dubai Ports World deal.

This doesn't have to be the path that we follow. We can take up the hard task of bringing modernity to one of the last corners of the world that has not entered the 21st century. As Jack Kelly says, "Josh Manchester, a Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, asks in his Web log (Adventures of Chester) the central strategic question in the war on terror: Is Islam compatible with a free society? Dancing around this question is dangerous, because as Mr. Manchester notes: "A 'yes' answer offers a far different set of strategic imperatives than a 'no' answer.".

President Bush has answered "yes" to this question. Up until recently, we thought that most of the rest of the country had answered "yes" to this question, also. In answering "yes", Bush stands with a proud and distinguished group of people. Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan, both Roosevelts, all answered "yes" to this question when it was asked to them in different forms. Here's Jack Kelly again on who answered "no" to this question, and what a "no" answer means:


Osama bin Laden, conservative columnist Ann Coulter and
some Christian preachers say "no" -- all of Islam is at war with the values of
the West.

It would be inconvenient if they were right. There are
approximately 1.4 billion Muslims in the world. Blood will flow in rivers if we
have to fight them all. If you believe being a Muslim is as inherently
threatening to liberty and democracy as being a Nazi was, then it follows that
we must either convert, deport, arrest or kill the Muslims in our
midst.


Harking back to the title, war is what a "yes" answer will give you. It will be messy, sometimes hard to understand and frustrating. Victories will be too small to recognize individually, while setbacks will large, spectacular and horrifying. It will be a long and tedious struggle.

On the other hand, total war is what a "no" answer will give you. Several years of ignoble peace bought with the defeat of our country in foreign war, a pathological fear of foreigners, and closing ourselves off to the rest of the world. Following this, an attack spurring us to action in what has been dubbed, with much forboding, "The Great Islamic War". In this exercise of total war, we will strike out to wipe the Islamic faith from the map. We will win, but lose our souls in the process.

Right now, we have answered yes. We are fighting alongside Muslims, not against them. Once again, Jack Kelly:


I think the answer is yes, because I know of many Muslims
who are devoted to liberty, democracy and social equality. I wrote about "the
trainer" (who infiltrated a terror cell in Toledo) in last week's column. Our
ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, is an example. So is businessman and
terror fighter Mansoor Ijaz.

You don't hear much about genuine Muslim moderates because
if you did, it would expose the cravenness of a news media that largely has
capitulated to the demands of Islamic radicals. That capitulation can be
portrayed as something other than cowardice only if the vast majority of Muslims
are depicted as being offended by the exercise of free speech.


We are winning, although it is not often portrayed that way. If we as a people lose heart, we will move ever closer, as a people, to answering this question "no". This we must never let happen, for if we let this happen we will be forsaking those who came before us and failing those who will come after us.

More Oscar Madness (this time, with guest stars)


Greg, your Oscar post inspired me. I refuse to watch these pampered millionaires pontificate on national tv, while hundreds of sycophantic peers mindlessly cheer. Instead, I decided to find fellow bloggers who would live-blog the event and, using sarcasm and wit, cut these inflated egos down to size.

Who, you may ask, will be live-blogging this event and insulting everyone and anyone who comes into their sites? Well, how about Mizzou alum Stephen Green. With lines like this:

Me, I'm excited as a little kid. The Oscar show is still the best chance you have on broadcast television to see happy nipples. At least since Will & Grace's Debra Messing starting wearing padded bras.
So what will happen tonight? Heck if I know. But between the slinky dresses, a couple of martinis, and too much cold medication, we should have some fun watching.


He should be worth following.

Who else, you may ask, will be blogging this event? Why, its none other than the one, the only Judd Nelson. Here's what Judd has to say about Keira Knightley:

Not that it matters, but I have it on good authority that Keira Knightley used to keep a poster of me from St. Elmo's Fire on her bedroom wall.
For what it's worth.


And here's Judd on race relations:

And I know black. Three words, peeps: New Jack City.
Nuff said.


And Jennifer Anniston:

Not that it matters, but I have it on good authority that Jennifer Aniston used to keep a poster of me from St. Elmo's Fire on her bedroom wall. For what it's worth.

And finally, a last insight from Judd on race relations:

I worked with T in New Jack, by the way. We became tight. In fact, to this day, we still like to get together and rap. And eat Sloppy Joes.

So stop by this site and check it out, won't you?

Oscars the Grouch


You know what really makes me sick? Okay, well besides Jimmy Fallon and any chap that sports an earring and claims to be heterosexual. It’s the fact that Oscar nominees (people who act for a living and get paid outrageously for it) will be receiving goodie bags at the Oscars tonight.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘But, Greg, it’s a simple marketing ploy’ or ‘Greg, don’t you think you’re just jealous?’. Well, you’re right on both accounts, but I don’t appreciate the cut of your jib.

Listen, it’s a brilliant marketing ploy. After tonight the Oscar nominated-actors will fly to Bora Bora for their free stay at a hotel that’s the antonym of Motel 6, receive free suits made by someone from Italy and not Osh Kosh, and diamonds that are worth more than my collective value—and I’m NOT cheap!

What’s even more impenetrable is that actors like Matt Dillon, Michelle Williams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman will receive these goodie bags. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, that’s the douche in “Something About Mary”, the awe-uninspiring new girl in “Dawson’s Creek” and the kid from “Crocodile Tears”.

Maybe my boy Heath will hook me up.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

You got it dude!

In keeping up with the latest Chilie's, TGI Friday's, Pizza Hut and Applebee's commercials, I think I have found the perfect song for one of these restaurants to capitalize on. It goes a little something like this:

Everywhere you look, there's a face (there's a face)
Of somebody who loves you
When you're broke out there and you're appetite's alone
Our light is waiting to carry you home
Everywhere you look!!

Do you recognize the song? Maybe this will help.

Actual Love for Love Actually

So, the recent happenings with Buck O’Neil, Zack Greinke, the Golden Mosque, and my inability to find an “Embrace the Knight” t-shirt on eBay have me feeling pretty despondent.

Of course, whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.

It’s like a good man once said on numerous occasions (even when it didn’t apply), “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Buck Stops Here

Baseball has become a joke in recent years; an inescapable punchline to an otherwise growing sports world. McGwire and Co. embarrassed the nation that embraced them so much in the steroid-bash of ’98 and the empty seats that remain for the World Baseball Classic all tell the story of how America’s pastime has become a running joke.

Of course, those of us in Kansas City have one of baseball’s best kept secrets: Buck O’Neil. Yet, baseball has ruined this 94 year-old Negro Leagues pioneer and baseball ambassador by snubbing him during the latest Hall of Fame vote.

Buck played for the Kansas City Monarchs (the Yankees of the Negro Leagues, but without the money). Sure, he had a career average of .288 (Look up Ozzie Smith’s average) and he played with some great ballplayers (Satchel, Jackie, etc.), but he’s bigger than the game.

Buck was the first black coach in the majors when he coached the Chicago Cubs in 1962. He was the guy who discovered Ernie Banks and Joe Carter. He has been the face, voice, ears, eyes, inspiration and everything else for the Negro Leagues and even baseball and yet baseball can’t return the favor.

Once Buck passes on without a Hall of Fame call and Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Raffy are delivering their induction speeches just remember how the game could have prevented a blemish. By snubbing Buck, baseball has simply cemented itself as sports’ long-running joke.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Golden Mosque - Aftermath, Current Situation and Future Consequences


This has turned into a series of posts, and I beg our reader's indulgence while I continue to try and cover these events and provide any commentary I feel necessary. I warn you, this is a lengthy post - Colin

The situation in Iraq after the bombing of the Golden Mosque was as tense as Iraq has been since the January 30th, 2005 election, possibly even since the end of major combat operations in May, 2003. Ethnic tensions which had been building for many, many decades under Saddam and his Ba'athist thugs reached what I believe was a crescendo in the civil strife and sectarian violence following the destruction of the Golden Mosque. Tribal anarchy seemed just around the corner in Iraq, but cooler heads prevailed. There are villains in this situation, there are buffoons, and yes, there are heroes, too.

Moqtada al-Sadr is both a villain and a buffoon, and al-Zarqawi stands as the embodiment of evil in all of Southwestern Asia. Sadr's Mahdi Milita was taking advantage of the tense situation by attacking rival factions, sunni and shiite alike. All the while, Sadr was making overtures to sunni leaders by appearing with them publicly and praying with the members of powerful sunni groups. The Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim Jaffari, is proving to the the embodiment of a buffoon. He makes no major statements to his people and refuses to be seen in public, acting as the leader of Iraq. He is not the person we were hoping to lead Iraq ahead after such a successful election in December. The Iraqi Police have also shown themselves to be buffoonish. They could not keep the peace in the streets, and in many cases did not even seem to try. Police training is an area that the Coalition needs to work on in the next year.

Luckily, there were may heroes in Iraq to counteract the buffoons and the villains. One hero is our Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. He is a man of courage and of vision. He is one of the main reasons this situation did not turn out any worse than it did. Working behind the scene, Amb. Khalilzad twisted the arms of the various political groups in Iraq and got them to sit down together and make a show of unity, which greatly aided in calming the nation down. On the Iraqi side, President Jalal Talibani is another person who could properly be described as a hero. Operating as the Iraqi President, a role which was originally intended to be largely ceremonial, President Talibani has become the voice of all Iraq, going beyond the narrow sectarian differences and reaching out to people from all areas of Iraq. Because of this, he has garnered a lot of trust from the Iraqi people and from other Iraqi politicians. He used this trust to call in actors from across the political spectrum and get them to sit down and agree to not act in a hasty manner, to direct their followers to calm down and not engage in violence, and tocome back to the table and continue establishing a new government. In short, he gave an Iraqi face to the demands and cajoling of Amb. Khalilzad. Much credit goes to the Iraqi people themselves, who once again proved the cynics wrong. Every setback we've seen since the fall of Baghdad was supposed to start a civil war, and every time the Iraqis weathered the setback and after a shor period of re-adjustment, went on with their lives. Their incredible resolve deserves to be recognized.

Suspects and Motives behind this attack

The second part of this post has to do with possible perpetraitors of this attack, and their motives. Several groups are suspect in this attack, and they will be profiled here. Also, their possible motives will be analyzed.

al Qaeda and aQ-affiliated Salafists: In short, this means Zarqawi. Right now, Zarq is the top suspect, for both he and Zawahiri have announced that it is their goal to push Iraq into open civil war in order to drive the United States from the battlefield. From there, the plan is to take over Iraq and use it to launch a Caliphate engulfing the entire Middle East. Blowing up a religious shrine presents no problem to Zarq, for he sees the Shia as less than human, and the Golden Mosque was a Shiite holy site. Aside from motive, Zarq also has the expertise to carry something like this out. All of the major car-bombs and IEDs that go off in Iraq are coming from Zarqawi's aQ bomb-makers. Many of the IEDs show the kind of sophistication necessary to destroy a building the size of the Golden Mosque. He has conducted attacks of this size before, like when the fuel tanker truck blew up in Baghdad last year.

This explanation also has the advantage of being the simplest, most-likely and least conspiratorial. Although the world of intelligence and warfare is made up of deception and deceit, Occam's razor still holds true: the easiest explanation is usually the correct one. Still, other possible culprits are out there and their motives deserved to be looked at.

The Islamic Republic of Iran: Iran is a belligerent power, trying to reach regional hegemony using its nuclear program. In doing this, it has found itself a pariah nation, shunned by a great number of the nations of the world. In response to this condition, Iran has given up trying to obtain respectibility and instead tries to engage the world by treachery and deceit. This means that Iran must secretly build up its client states in order to gain equality with the west on a balance-of-power basis. To do this, Iran tries to enlarge its sphere of influence to include not just Syria, but Iraq as well. For Iran to gain power in Iraq (at least in Southern Iraq, where the oil reserves are located), the country has to fall into civil war, like Lebanon did twenty-five years ago. Then Iran can use its intelligence apparatus and its covert military units to create a Hezbollah-like organization (or possibly Hezbollah itself) in the Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq, at which point Iran has de-facto control of Iraq, much like it did in Lebanon (through its client state, Syria, and its state-run terrorist organization, Hezbollah). To start this civil war, Iran would need to spark extreme sectarian violence. Attacking a revered Shiite holy shrine and seeing that the attack is blamed on sunnis would appear to be a provocative-enough move. This is the theory people suspecting Iranian involvement have adopted. It is currently being called the "Reichstag Fire" theory, so named for the fire the Nazis set at the Reichstag (German parliament) in the 1930's and then blamed on the Communists, so that the Nazis could outlaw opposition parties. The Iranians definitely had the capabilities (because of their covert military-intelligence organizations) and the opportunity (because of their penetration of the shiite Iraqi community).

This is probably one of the most dangerous possibilities, because this would constitute and act of war by Iran against Iraq, and by agreement against us, too. That is why this is also not the most likely theory. Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, and turning Iraq into a sworn enemy, especially when the United States, which has sworn not to let Iran develop nuclear weapons, would not make sense. Alienating the Iraqi shia would not make sense. However, Iran has been doing all sorts of things recently which do not make sense.

Combination of Groups and Motives: It is possible that a combination of the groups mentioned here have acted together. This is the least likely scenario, but it is still a possiblility. Iran and al Qaeda have acted together before, and imagining that they would act together again is not too much of a stretch. Iran could have supplied the explosives, and al Qaeda could have supplied the suicide bombers. It's also possible the weapons were supplied without knowledge or concern to how they would be used. This kind of "blind" state sponsorship is very likely involved in this attack, along with most of the other attacks that happen because its happened so often in the past. This was the hallmark of Saddam Hussein's sponsorship of terrorism because, for the most part, it kept his hands "clean".

Conclusion

This is a summation of just one terrorist attack. All of the players (and many wern't even talked about here) are present in many other attacks across the world. Hopefully this gives a glimpse into just how dangerous and interconnected terrorism issues can be and why in the case of terrorism, the only option is to defeat them before they defeat us.

I'm not sure anyone will actually read to this point, but you do I would love to see your thoughts in the comments on the what you think about the possible suspects and motives.

My twin - Part 2


We all laugh at the big nose and the big hand. There are some (GJM) that believe if they were to make a movie that the famous "pie banger" should play the one and only Mikey Tisa. I must digress and chose Michael Imperioli. If I were still in my prime, I could pull this look off.

Here are a two actors that would be perfect to play my father. Their facial features are much similar to mine and for crying out loud, look at there noses!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Autistic Cure


We make a lot of jokes on this website. Seriously, a LOT! But, I’m actually going to deter that for one post. By now you’ve probably heard about the Greece, New York high school basketball manager that scored 20 points in a game. You probably already know about 17 year-old autistic Jason McElwain.

Forget the fact that he scored more points in 4 minutes than I did in my grade school basketball career. I won’t even attempt a paraplegic dunking joke. Because when it comes down to it, Jason’s feat wasn’t about basketball at all; it was about an abnormal kid getting to be a kid.

Autism is supposed to affect the way a person communicates and relates to people around them. Jason did just that when he hit his final shot: the crowd went out of control, even rushing the court and carrying Jason on their shoulders.

Don’t worry, the blog will continue with its regularly scheduled programming, but for just one moment let’s give Jason the accolades he deserves.

If you haven’t seen the footage then here you go:

JASON McELWAIN

The Gathering Storm



Events over the past few weeks have showed the weakness of the resolve of the American people, the pettiness of our political leaders (well, not all of them) and the inscrutable nature of our enemies. The facts are that things are not as bad as they now seem. The situation in Iraq, after the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, is not as bad as reports would make it seem. Rational thought and cooler heads are prevailing, and the violence being perpetrated is being done by al Qaeda in Iraq, trying to use an attack most likely committed by them to force the country into a state of tribal anarchy.

For some reason, the recent tipping point has not been an attack in Iraq, nor has it been the seemingly mindless violent protests taking place all around the Islamic world in response to a few innocuous editorial cartoons (I say "seemingly mindless" because most likely the most violent protests took place in countries being run by authoritarian regimes, and thus the protests were almost certainly state-run and state-sponsored). The tipping point has been an innocuous corporate merger between two foreign companies, one British and one based in Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates. This deal, a deal over operation of several port terminals in several American cities, would not change the operations of these facilities in any noticeable way. Nor would this endanger American security (I could go into more detail about the port deal, but that is not really the subject of this post). This "tipping point" pushed not only hypocritical members of the Left and the Democratic party over the edge into the rarefied air of demagogery, it also pushed many in the xenophobic Right and the Republican party in the fever swamp of the fear of the "other" and demonizing of foreigners. This is a symptom of the American people tiring of dealing with a dangerous world. The problem is that we cannot ignore the world without facing the horrible consequences that we faced in 2001. Retreating from the world, into our own borders would be ceding the battlespace to our enemies. The War on Terror is a unique war, and it is a hard war. We have to be willing to face the world if we want to succeed and remain a great power. In a recent column, Bill Kristol writing in the Weekly Standard had this to say:

From Copenhagen to Samarra, the radical Islamists are on the offensive. From
Tehran to Damascus, the dictators are trying to regain the upper hand in the
Middle East. From Moscow to Beijing, the enemies of liberal democracy are
working to weaken the United States. Across the world, the forces of terror and
tyranny are fighting back. Are we up to the challenge?

It's not clear that we are. Many liberals, here and in Europe, long ago
lost the nerve to wage war--or even to defend themselves--against illiberalism.
Parts of the conservative movement now seem to be losing their nerve as well. In
response to an apparent clash of civilizations, they would retrenching, hunker
down, and let large parts of the world go to hell in a hand basket, hoping that
the hand basket won't blow up in our faces.

Remember: The United States of America and its allies--regimes that seek to
embody, or at least to move towards, the principles of decent, civilized,
liberal democracy--did not seek this war. But we are at war, and we could lose
it. Victory is not inevitable.


And he concludes with this:

Moral seriousness in this case means political seriousness. Insist on going
ahead with the ports deal so that Arab governments who have stood with us in the
war on terror are not told to get lost when one of their companies acquires port
management contracts in the United States. Make a real effort to destabilize
Ahmadinejad in Iran. Do what it takes to defeat Zarqawi and secure Iraq. Stand
with Denmark, and moderate Muslims, against the radical mob. This is no time for
dishonorable retreat. It is time for resolve--and competence. After all, it
would be most unfortunate if the administration summoned its nerve and charged
ahead--only to meet the fate of Tennyson's Light Brigade
!

This is not an easy time for America, being faced almost daily with death and destruction that numerous groups both at home and abroad want to blame on us (not to mention the ever-present possibility of an attack on us or our interests either here or overseas). What this is is a defining moment for us as a country. We can leave the world a better place for us having fought this war, or we can retreat and leave the world to tear itself apart. We can be a great nation or a once-great nation. The choice is up to us.

Finally, here are some words from Sir Winston Churchill, a man who chose not to be cowed by the storm clouds on the horizon, but instead decided to confront evil, with no guarantee of victory:

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us
many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our
policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might
and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous
tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That
is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is
victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however
long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let
that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that
the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the
ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task
with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail
among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say,
"come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."