Thursday, August 26, 2004

Target Centermass Has Moved

Well, it took longer than hoped, but it's time to unveil my project. This blog is moving to its own domain, (EDIT: updated from .com to .net on 19 DEC 04 because of hosting issues) I'll try to contact those who have been so kind as to link to me.

I also want to recommend as an excellent place for new bloggers. Try it and see if blogging is right for you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I promise I haven't stopped blogging. Please be patient -- there are big changes coming.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Are the Media Finally Hearing the Swiftvets?

Working on a project tonight so there may be no original posting.

Check back later but, for now, a tip of the CVC to Captain's Quarters for finding a hard-hitting editorial about Kerry and the Swiftvets. It looks like the walls around Fortress Kerry may be showing some cracks.
With his campaign being pounded by the very "band of brothers" that John Kerry invoked time and again on the stump, his advisors have been working overtime on two tracks: discredit the veterans he once presumed would wholeheartedly support him and keep the story out of the mainstream press.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Feel-Good Story: Iraqi Olympians

Target Centermass is now, with this post, hitting its century mark, 100 posts and I'm sticking with it. I've decided to devote this post to the Iraqi soccer team's surprising 4-2 win over Portugal.
"This victory will be received with happiness by my people, who have suffered through much," said Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad, whose countrymen were already taking to the streets of Baghdad, lighting up the night sky with streaks of celebratory gunfire.

The stunning victory over a team that made it to final of the recent Euro 2004 tournament brought a rare moment of joy for Iraqis plagued by violence, chaos and constant power outages.

Across their homeland, they watched the game on television at home and at cafes. Even people at a Baghdad barbershop took time out of their late-night haircuts to celebrate the goals.

Reciprocity II

I don't know how he found me, but this guy linked to Target Centermass. After checking out his site, I recommend anybody who wants to really understand Texans check out this guy. For what it's worth, I plan on hitting this guy's camping business up some.

The Fat Guy

I'd love to sip a brew with this guy at a Rider's game. Comments section is wide open, Scott.

The News from Iraq and Thoughts on Najaf

The obvious story of the day in Iraq is the developments in Najaf, with the U.S. increasing the pressure on the thorn-in-the-side-of-the-day of the new Iraqi government, the fuzzy-faced Muqtada al-Sadr.
Thousands of U.S. troops sealed off Najaf's vast cemetery, its old city and a revered Shiite shrine Thursday and unleashed a tank, infantry and helicopter assault against militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. They also stormed the radical cleric's home, but he was not there.

As billows of black smoke drifted across Najaf amid the clatter of military helicopters, gunmen in a house near the shrine shot at U.S. forces patrolling the 5-square-mile cemetery. Militants hiding in the cemetery took fire from the Apaches and from American soldiers crawling on the roofs of single-story buildings. When the gunships turned away, the insurgents in the graveyard shot back.

As the day began, the military trumpeted the operation as the beginning of a major assault on al-Sadr's fighters.

"Major operations to destroy the militia have begun," said Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Later Thursday, a spokesman for the top Marine command in Iraq (news - web sites), Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, said that although there was some fighting and some Najaf residents have fled the city, the combat has been "sporadic and there have been no major engagements" with the militiamen.
The story goes on to ominously mention the dangers inherent in fighting near the holy Shiite mosque and the protests and violence elsewhere in the country resulting from the Iraqi/American push. The interim government and the U.S. have tried to counter this with a modicum of restraint.
In Baghdad, Iraqi officials were at pains to assure the public that U.S. troops were not in the shrine compound and only Iraqi forces would enter the shrine if it became necessary.

Damage to the building or a U.S. military presence there would set off an outcry across the country and much of the Muslim world.

The government blamed the al-Sadr's followers for the violence.

"This is a conspiracy against the Iraqi people, targeting all of Iraq," Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib said during a briefing Thursday. "Who will benefit from this? Who will benefit from targeting these holy places?"
I wasn't a blogger at the time, but I posted a few months back on an internet discussion forum that the primary difference between the Iraqi occupation and the post-WWII occupations of Japan and Germany was that the people of the former Axis countries absolutely knew that they had been defeated. So much of the Iraq takeover had been intended to diminish the hardship on the populace and wrap things up in a speedy manner that I don't think this feeling of defeat was ever sent to the Iraqi people and the Arab world. We shredded a military and the world barely knew it.

Looking back, the threatened Shock-and-Awe campaign, which was never actually unleashed, possibly should've been. The Arab world and Joe Iraqi needed to know the might and ruthlessness of the U.S. in the war against terror. We allowed the possible importance of an al-Sadr by not showing the willingness to destroy. Now, that card is off the table. We have established an interim government that we cannot undermine. To do so, unless absolutely needed, would be reckless beyond comprehension.

So what does this mean in Najaf today? We are within a mile or two of the shrine, apparently on all sides. Surprisingly, my vote is for restraint. Me, the fan of carpet bombing. Yes, restraint but, more accurately, siege. Cordon off the small area. No one enters. No one leaves alive or not in custody or not in a body bag. Snipe them all, if needed. No food, water or media allowed in until al-Sadr surrenders or dies. There is no glory to an Islamic militia that slowly slips into captivity.

We set this up by playing with kid's gloves, and now it's better we follow it through that way. A desperate, hungry (seriously, he could use the under-siege diet) al-Sadr looking patheticly meek would be the best result of this.

In other equally important Iraq news, the Iraqi government will convene Sunday to determine the interim national assembly.
The conference, considered a crucial step in the country's move toward democracy, was to have been held in late July, but was delayed to allow more time for preparations — a postponement encouraged by the United Nations.

Some areas of the country complained last month that they hadn't been given enough time to agree on delegates, and officials expressed worries the gathering would be a target for terror attacks. The postponement was announced the day after a car bombing killed 70 people in Baqouba, underscoring the continuing wave of violence across the country.

In addition, key political groups had threatened to boycott the conference. U.N. officials wanted more time in hopes of persuading those factions to attend, but it wasn't immediately clear Thursday if they had changed any minds.

"We invite everyone to take part in the political process," Dawoud told reporters.

The conference, made up of 1,000 delegates from Iraq's 18 provinces as well as tribal, religious and political leaders, is intended to help choose a 100-member national assembly that will counterbalance the interim government.

The assembly will have the power to approve the national budget, veto executive orders with a two-thirds majority and appoint replacements to the Cabinet in the event a minister dies or resigns.
This is key in bringing the new government one step closer to the Iraqi people. The closer the interim government is to the populace, the more they are intertwined in determining a democratic future for the nation. While not getting the attention that al-Sadr's latest cat-and-should-be-already-dead-mouse game is drawing, this could have a greater effect in the long term hopes of bringing democratic stability to the region.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Captain Nails Kerry Again

Read this. Then make your friends read it.
This major flip-flop has handed George Bush a belated endorsement of his Iraq policy, even while John Kerry has said he'd do everything else differently -- but has yet to actually say what that would be. Even his secret plan wound up being a rehash of what Bush has already done, except for the transfer of sovereignty, which his European friends insisted on and which Bush himself recognized as a must. (Kerry wanted a UN "high commissioner" to run Iraq indefinitely.)
Captain Ed is very quickly pushing his way up my list of favorite bloggers.

Olympics ... Yawn

Never in my life have I felt so underwhelmed about the Olympics, and I can't put my finger on why that is. Is it the loss of USA vs USSR? The influx of our professional athletes, as opposed to the days of old when it was our amateurs against the Soviet and East German so-called amateurs? Is it the drug scandals? Is it the fear of possible terror? Is it the move to have the Winter games offset so we now have an Olympiad every other year? I just don't know. Maybe I'll get into whatever remains of the Olympic spirit after the games start.

Kerry Chooses Raising Taxes Over Funding War

In his latest spinning of his vote against the $87 billion in funding for the troops and the Iraqi campaign, John Kerry said today that his nay vote was really against Bush's tax cuts.
President Bush says you can not negotiate with terrorists; they must be brought to justice. The president again criticized Senator Kerry for opposing an $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the U.S. military last year, saying American troops sent into battle must have the best equipment.

Senator Kerry says he voted against that money because he wanted it to come from the president's record tax cuts instead of adding to the federal deficit.
This is stupid on so many levels. Does this mean that he actually voted for the tax cuts before he voted against them? A presidential candidate should never say he played politics while trying to withhold support from the troops and the war effort. This statement just begs to be publicized to the voters and those in uniform.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

U.S. Demands Najaf Militants End Fighting

While it is a somewhat interesting twist in an ongoing story, I felt driven to post this just because I love the quote I've put in bold.
U.S. forces adopted a new tactic Tuesday in their sixth day of battles in this city south of the capital, sending patrols armed with loudspeakers into the streets to demand that militants loyal to a radical cleric drop their arms and leave Najaf immediately or face death.

The call, broadcast in Arabic from American vehicles, added a psychological component to the U.S. offensive. It came as U.S. helicopter gunships pummeled a multistoried building 400 yards from the gold-domed Imam Ali Shrine with rockets, missiles and 30 mm cannons — one of the closest strikes yet to what is one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.

Plumes of thick, black smoke rose from the building, which serves as a hotel for visitors to the shrine. Witnesses said insurgents were firing from inside it and that U.S. forces returned fire.

"We've pretty much just been patrolling and flying helicopters all over the place, and when we see something bad, we blow it up," said U.S. Marine Maj. David Holahan, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines Regiment.

Nearby, Bradley fighting vehicles swept through a huge cemetery, pursuing small pockets of militants hiding in elaborate concrete tombs. Choppers provided support, firing rockets from above, witnesses said.
I'm thinking Maj. David Holahan would've made a good tanker.

Grab a Drink and Read This

Doffing the CVC to the greatness that is Vodkapundit for his look at strategies going forward in the war against radical Islam based on lessons learned from the Cold War.
By now, you probably know where I'm going with this little history lesson: How do we define victory in the Terror War, and what will the peace look like.

Let's get the second part out of the way first.

What will the peace look like? I don't have a damn clue. And neither do you. And if you meet anyone who claims to know, feel free to laugh at them really hard. So hard, you get a little spit on their face. Sometimes, justice can be small and spiteful – ask a meter maid. Anyway.

When peace comes, it could look like whatever Mecca, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh, Pyongyang, Khartoum, Kabul, Cairo, etc., look like after being hit by big city-busting nuclear warheads. Or it could end with the entire Arab and Muslim world looking like the really well-manicured bits of Connecticut. My best guess is, somewhere in-between. But that's only a guess.

NOTE: It's a sad state of affairs (their affairs, not ours) that the first scenario, no matter how repugnant and unlikely, still seems more likely than the second scenario, no matter how virtuous.

Now that we know that we don't know how we'll win, that leaves the question (and the oxymoron): How do we win?
Go. Read. Learn why Stephen Green is one of my favorite bloggers.

Palestinian Inquiry Blames Arafat for Anarchy

It seems that even the Palestinians have figured out that Arafat is the Palestinian problem personified.
A Palestinian Legislative Council investigation says the Palestinian Authority, and its president Yasser Arafat, are to blame for failure of the Palestinian security forces to restore law and order in the Gaza Strip. The committee also calls for the resignation of the Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's government and that new general elections be held.

The panel's report follows a month-long inquiry in which dozens of people were interviewed, ranging from Prime Minister Qureia to leading commanders of security forces, and activists from the mainstream Fatah faction from all over Gaza. Their blunt testimony charged that the Palestinian leadership failed to build state institutions and as a result used clan loyalties instead of law to deal with out-of-control armed factions.

The five-member committee was made up of both Arafat loyalists and those advocating reform with the Palestinian Authority.

The report lays the blame for the failure of the security forces to restore law and order to what it calls "the total lack of a clear political decision" and to no definition of roles for security forces "either for the long term or the short."
Unfortunately, the Palestinians haven't figured out the true first step in repairing their problem, which is the abandonment of Arafat the terrorist. Peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people cannot be attained under Yasser, as they would only lead to his eventual loss of relevance in the region and on the world stage. Arafat knows this and will not allow it.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Rock'em, Sock'em Banner

Kudos and a tip of the CVC to A Small Victory and Sekimori Design for the new banner.

Man, I loved Rock'em, Sock'em Robots as a kid. One small issue: in today's political arena, I'd be rooting for the red states' robot.

Iraqi Minister Singles Out Iran for Supporting Insurgents

The Iraqi defense minister has identified an old and expected enemy as being a supporter of insurgents.
The charges leveled by Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim al-Shalaan and the kidnapping of Iran's consul to Kerbala highlighted growing mistrust between the two neighbors which fought each other to a standstill in a bitter 1980-1988 war.

Political analysts said the mounting tensions reflected the desire of Iraqi officials to assert their independence from Shi'ite Muslim Iran which, in turn, is divided over how best to exert influence in its western neighbor.

Shalaan, who has previously branded Iran as Iraq's "first enemy," said Shi'ite Muslim rebels were using arms obtained from Iran to wage a bloody uprising in Najaf where U.S. forces say at least 360 rebels have been killed since Thursday.
Of course the Iranians have a huge hand in the insurgency, as do the Syrians. These are two regimes with a great deal on the line in Iraq. However, I am somewhat surprised by how boldly Shalaan called out Iran. He may feel a little freer to do so after this little tidbit came to light:
Ramazanzadeh said kidnapped diplomat Fereidoun Jahani was a long-serving Foreign Ministry official despite footage provided by his captors showing credentials in his name bearing the logo of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Security experts say the Revolutionary Guards -- an ideologically driven branch of the armed forces -- has sent scores of agents into Iraq.
It looks like the Iranians have gotten caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Will this stop their support of the insurgency? The answer to that is no, because the fundamentalist rulers of Iran simply cannot allow a successful democratic state next door when so many of their own citizenry chafe and yearn for democracy.

Can this still have an effect on the insurgency itself? Oh yes, as it is demonstrated how much of the insurgency is foreign-driven and opposed to the success and combined will of the Iraqi populace, any remaining native support should wither. At that point, cooperation with and support for the Iraqi government will greatly increase.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Christmas in Cambodia?

A tip of the CVC to Captain's Quarters for his repeated nailing of an apparent Kerry lie about his Viet Nam service here and here and here.
The effect of the collapse of Kerry's Cambodian Christmas should be devastating. It shows that Kerry repeatedly lied about the nature of his service in Viet Nam, destroying his credibility and bolstering that of the Swiftvets. It also casts a lot of doubt on Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony regarding widespread atrocities committed by American soldiers and Marines in the war and the complicity of US leadership. In fact, such blatantly false assertions and testimony undermine the confidence any reasonable person would have in Kerry's entire character.
Go and read Captain's Quarters. Daily. At least.

Experts: Beware al-Qaida's 'Offspring'

The Associated Press has put out an analysis on splinter groups of al_Queda and their growing threat.
The groups are small, little known and highly militant, with ideologies like al-Qaida's. They have struck around the world, carrying out suicide bombings in Morocco, kidnapping civilians in Iraq (news - web sites) and attacking Western residential compounds in Saudi Arabia.

The emergence of these groups is making the fight against terrorism more challenging. Instead of targeting one enemy — just al-Qaida — the West and its allies now face many "al-Qaidas," splinter groups that are mostly unrelated to each other but are bound by the same hatred of the West — especially the United States and its allies, including Israel.

"It's like McDonald's giving out franchises," said Dia'a Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on militant groups. "All they have to do is follow the company's manual. They don't consult with headquarters every time they want to produce a meal."

A key conclusion in last month's Sept. 11 commission report said that even though Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al-Qaida has been weakened, its imitators pose a "catastrophic threat" to the United States.

"The enemy is not just 'terrorism,' some generic evil," said the report. "The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism — especially the al-Qaida network, its affiliates and its ideology."

"The second enemy is gathering, and will menace Americans and American interests long after ... Bin Laden and his cohorts are killed or captured," the report said.
It's good to see the AP is catching up with President Bush, who had this much figured out on September 20, 2001.
Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as al Qaeda. They are the same murderers indicted for bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and responsible for bombing the USS Cole.

Al Qaeda is to terror what the mafia is to crime. But its goal is not making money; its goal is remaking the world -- and imposing its radical beliefs on people everywhere.

The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam. The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children.

This group and its leader -- a person named Osama bin Laden -- are linked to many other organizations in different countries, including the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. There are thousands of these terrorists in more than 60 countries. They are recruited from their own nations and neighborhoods and brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror. They are sent back to their homes or sent to hide in countries around the world to plot evil and destruction.

International Team to Monitor Presidential Election

Okay, I've been away all day so I'm probably late on any news I post. Will that stop me? Not gonna happen.

It seems that the U.S. has asked for international observers for November's presidential elections.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.
I heard about this on the radio and immediately knew I was going to post my opposition to this move. Ahh, but there's one little tidbit that did not make the radio broadcast.
"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."


OSCE, the world's largest regional security organization, will send a preliminary mission to Washington in September to assess the size, scope, logistics and cost of the mission, Gunnarsdottir said.

The organization, which counts among its missions conflict prevention and postconflict rehabilitation, will then determine how many observers are required and where in the United States they will be sent.

"OSCE-participating [nations] agreed in 1990 to observe elections in one another's countries. The OSCE routinely monitors elections within its 55-state membership, including Europe, Eurasia, Canada and the United States," a State Department spokesman said.

The spokesman said the United States does not have any details on the size and composition of the observers or what countries will provide them.

OSCE, based in Vienna, Austria, has sent more than 10,000 personnel to monitor more than 150 elections and referenda in more than 30 countries during the past decade, Gunnarsdottir said.

In November 2002, OSCE sent 10 observers on a weeklong mission to monitor the U.S. midterm elections. OSCE also sent observers to monitor the California gubernatorial recall election last year.
So, it seems that their presence is not exactly unprecedented and, to some degree, demanded by our international agreements. I still disagree, but now I also disagree with our membership in an organization I admittedly had not heard of until today.

The sad thing is that, for most of the members of this organization, I would wager that anything they know about free elections they learned from us. Also, for many of them, the main reasons they have free elections now is the valor of Americans in WWI and WWII and the courage and strength of Ronald Reagan.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Flag torched at Marine's home

Okay, this is simply disgusting.
The parents of a young Marine serving in Iraq were horrified when the American flag they flew to honor their daughter was set ablaze this week outside their Brooklyn home.

Cops were hunting yesterday for the mystery woman whose image was captured on surveillance tape as she torched Old Glory and threw it on a garbage can, a police source said.

"I can't imagine why anyone would do something like this," said Eileen Cespuglio, 44, whose husband, Tom, hung the 4-by-2-foot flag outside their first-floor apartment in Park Slope.

"But that doesn't really matter. It's the flag, so it's a violation, a sign of disrespect, for whatever reason."

The Cespuglios' don't plan to tell their daughter, Natalie Marie, 22, who's serving as a communications specialist with the Marines, what happened.
Fine, I am not against flag-burning as a sign of dissent. Appalled by it, but not in favor of trying to constitutionally ban it. However, it should at least be your own flag, damn it! This was dangerous, illegal and, once again, disgusting.

Also, thanks to Natalie Marie Cespuglio for her service.

EDIT: Link corrected.

Interesting Developments in Iraq

The day was filled with developments in Iraq, not all good from my perspective.

First, Iraq has hung a one-month closed sign on the door of Al-Jazeera's Baghdad office.
"This decision was taken to protect the people of Iraq and the interests of Iraq," Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's told a news conference Saturday.

Allawi said the order to close Al-Jazeera, which was to take effect immediately, came after an independent commission monitored the network's reports.

The findings of the commission were "compelling," he said.

"They came up with a concise report on the issues of incitement and the problems Al-Jazeera has been causing."

Al-Jazeera also reported the closing.

Jihad Ballout, the network's spokesman, told The Associated Press that Al-Jazeera was not given a reason for the closure.

"It is a regrettable decision, but Al-Jazeera will endeavor to cover the situation in Iraq as best as we can within the constraints," he said.
Two things to note in this story. First, the name Jihad Ballout makes me chuckle. He should change his name to something more intimidating, like Jihad Ballstothewall. Second, this closing will have no immediate impact on what Al-Jazeera reports and how they spin it to the Arab world, but it may have more of a local effect. I generally have to come down against this, instead supporting the promotion of respected rival news sources. The one-month technical difficulties will probably end up a non-issue.

Jihad Ballout. Chuckling.

The next story is of a limited offer of amnesty by the Iraqi government to minor criminals in the insurgency.
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi signed an amnesty Saturday intended to persuade militants fighting a 15-month-old insurgency to put down their weapons and join government efforts to rebuild the country.

But the law pardons only minor criminals, not killers or terrorists, and appeared unlikely to dampen the violence, as some insurgent leaders called it "insignificant."


The long-delayed amnesty, coupled with a tough emergency law passed last month, was supposed to help end the violence by coaxing nationalist guerrillas to the government's side.

The amnesty applies to minor crimes such as weapons possession, hiding intelligence about terror attacks or harboring terrorists and appears intended to persuade people with information on attacks to share it with police.

The amnesty forgives those who committed minor crimes between May 1, 2003, just after Saddam Hussein's regime fell, and Saturday, Allawi said.

"This amnesty is not for people ... who have killed. Those people will be brought to justice, starting from Zarqawi down to the person in the street," Allawi said, referring to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose followers have claimed responsibility for deadly suicide bombings.

Rape, kidnapping, looting and terror attacks also are excluded.
This peaked my interest because of the manner in which it meshes with the Al-Jazeera shutdown. The Iraqi government is moving to relieve its people from the insurrection by chipping away at its propaganda and low-level support. At the same time, these moves may work to establish the validity of the new government in the minds of the Iraqi citizenry. I'll have to check if Iraq the Model commented on either of these.

The third development seems to have gone under the radar but NATO has started to officially arrive in Iraq.
NATO sent a group of officers to Iraq on Saturday to begin its training mission for Iraqi forces.

The first four officers left Saturday from a command center in the southern Italian city of Naples, NATO said in a statement from Naples, calling it the official start of the mission in Iraq.

The main part of the NATO training mission group, initially consisting of 45 members, will deploy next week, said the statement.

The NATO trainers are due to report back by early September so that a decision can be made on the scope and content of any NATO training mission.

The 26-nation alliance agreed on July 30 to send the team after sidestepping a dispute between the US and France over command of the alliance operation.

The mission's tasks include liaising with the Iraqi interim government and US-led coalition forces, helping Iraq establish defense and military headquarters and identifying Iraqi personnel for training outside the country.
Al-Lafayette, we are here.

Sorry for the Delay

No posting yet today, but politics a plenty.

Spent the evening with some of my girlfriend's visiting family and found myself in a long-running argument with her brother-in-law. He's from Europe and is quite comfortable with the address of his political home being on Far Left Avenue. It was all the standard talking points: no WMD, no action before 9/11, too much action now, blah, blah, blah.

But enough of that, let me go grab a beer, look around and see if there's anything I want to throw my two blog cents on tonight.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Back from the Game

Well, a hot dog, a sliced brisket sandwich and two big beers later, I'm back from the ballpark. Great weather, great time, great company and great game. Riders come back to win 7-6 after a seven-run fifth inning.

Follow the link. Every time I go to that ballpark, I'm amazed at how well it was designed. It redefines the idea of friendly confines. You even have a view of the field while in line for foodage.

Checking around to see if there's anything else I want to comment on tonight.

Take Me Out to the Ballpark

I'm heading out to catch tonight's Frisco Rough Riders game and stuff myself with stadium food.

Since any blogging I do today will be late, I felt I'd point you to the
latest by Victor Davis Hanson (tip of the CVC to lgf).
In a word, we have devolved into an infantile society in which our technological successes have wrongly suggested that we can alter the nature of man to our whims and pleasures — just like a child who expects instant gratification from his parents. In a culture where affluence and leisure are seen as birthrights, war, sacrifice, or even the mental fatigue about worrying over such things wear on us. So we construct, in a deductive and anti-empirical way, a play universe that better suits us.

In that regard, for the moment George Bush is a godsend. His drawl, Christianity, tough talk, ramrod straight strut — all that and more become the locus of our fears: French and Germans on the warpath? They must have been Bushwhacked, not angry that their subsidized utopia — from a short work week, looming pension catastrophe, and no national defense — is eroding.
Oh, and I've decided that minor league baseball is a far superior product when compared to the major league version. Maybe not better play, but much more bang for the buck. Hustle and effort sans the egos. Not to mention how nice Frisco's ballpark is, and how good the hot dogs are.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Kerry Raps Bush on Initial 9/11 Inaction

So, Kerry's now wanting to politicize 9/11.
"Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear that America is under attack, I would have told those kids very nicely and politely that the president of the United States has something that he needs to attend to," Kerry said.
A tip of the CVC to elgato at The Swanky Conservatve for his take on Kerry's claims.
Kerry's just puffing his chest like a preening rooster. Mr. Tough Guy, indeed.
Go read and get swanky.

EU to Question Palestinian Prisoners About Terror Funding

The European Union has asked Israel for permission to interview jailed Palestinian terrorists as part of investigation into a possible redirection of EU funds to terror groups.
The European Union wants to carry out interviews with Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel. The investigations are part of an inquiry launched last year by the EU anti-fraud unit at the request of the European parliament.

A parliamentary inquiry in April found no conclusive evidence that the Palestinian Authority misused EU funds. But some European lawmakers questioned the report and asked for more inquiries by the anti-fraud office.

The European Union is the biggest foreign donor to the Palestinian Authority and provides more than $96 million a month to fund Palestinian public salaries.

EU investigators visited Israel earlier this year and reviewed Palestinian Authority documents seized by Israel and also heard testimony by members of Israel's secret police.
$96 frickin' million a month. If some of that's not going to terrorism, it's at least freeing up other money to go to the bad guys. The EU just wants to look at the books and not see the big picture.


Just wanted to take a moment to thank my fellow bloggers who have linked to Target Centermass, and to plug them as well.

Shades of Gray (Umbrae Canarum)
Thoughts on Auto Racing by a Texas Aggie
Bear Left on Unnamed Road
Arguing with Signposts

And a special thanks to Blogs of War for being the first to link me and also naming me as a Site of the Week.

Thanks, all.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Iraq Coalition Vows No More Kidnap Concessions

In a late response to the Philippines' move to join the Coalition of the Wilting, the U.S. is now saying that the nations remaining in the Iraqi theater of operations have sworn off further concessions to kidnappers.
In an effort to present a united front against a wave of kidnappings, the United States issued a policy statement that it said was supported by the coalition hoping to send a message to hostage-takers they would not win their demands.

"We understand that conceding to terrorists will only endanger all members of the multinational force, as well as other countries who are contributing to Iraqi reconstruction and humanitarian assistance," the statement said.

The United States has faced an erosion in its coalition this year and insurgents have tested the will of governments to keep troops in Iraq by targeting their citizens with kidnappings and beheadings.
The article goes on to include the obligatory doubts about the actual strength of the message and to detail some of the terrorists' criminal successes and current threats.

I had to sign a waiver to play lacrosse. Maybe all foreign workers should have to sign off on a waiver acknowledging that their native country will not pull a Philippines or a Spain and fold up like an origami boulder.

Truckers Coordinate to Guard US Highways

Okay, being stuck behind them on the highway can be suck, but I understand the importance of truck drivers to the economic vitality of our nation. Heck, my dad spent about two decades in a rig. However, I did not know the role truckers are filling in the homeland defense efforts.
U.S. anti-terrorism officials recently alerted the public that al-Qaeda terrorists may be planning a truck bomb attack in the northeastern United States. The nation's trucking industry has been on alert for some time, in large part, due to a federally-funded, $20 million program called Highway Watch.

"We have a pledge. It's a person pledge. It's an industry pledge and that's to do our level best to see that one of our trucks is never used as a weapon," says Mike Russell, a spokesman for the American Trucking Association (ATA), the trade group that represents more than three million truck drivers nationwide.
If anyone wants to see how dangerous a trucker's life can be or how tough these people really are, I suggest this movie.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Army Conducts Lightning Raid to Nab Four

The Army released the news today of a July 30 raid that utilized speed, efficiency and professionalism to net four probable bad guys.
U.S. soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment and an attached platoon from 8th Engineer Battalion conducted a successful four-target-simultaneous cordon and knock raid July 30, detaining four suspected terrorists in four different homes in Al Doura.

Four of the intended six targets were allegedly involved in the killing of four Russians who worked at the Al Doura power plant in May, according to Capt. Jeff Mersiowsky, Company B commander.

“All four houses we hit contained personnel we were looking for, so we didn’t have any dry holes,” Mersiowsky said. “It’s always a concern to go into a house and have to disrupt someone’s life and realize you’re in the wrong house.”

An added success to the mission was the speed in which it was executed.

“We took about 30 minutes to search the house,” said Staff Sgt. Michael Clay, 8th Engineer Battalion team leader. “From the time we left to the time we came back was about 40 minutes.”
Just as I pointed out earlier today about the Pakistanis' recent string of success, this raid is another example of a crack in a terror cell leading to greater opportunities.
The objectives and locations were developed when the company found information about a possible terrorist cell during a farm raid in Al Doura.

“In that cache the farmer was detained and he was the first person in the cell we found. After we got him, pieces of the cell started to unravel with information,” Mersiowsky said. “We didn’t realize how big the cell was until we got an informant.”

With four more terrorists off the streets and one of them a possible leader to the cell, Company B has taken a big step forward to taking anti-Iraq force insurgents off the streets of Al Doura.

“Every time we pull someone out of there it makes a big difference here. The area has a lot of people who finance the activity,” Mersiowsky said. “Whenever we can take out the leader, then it’s difficult for the rest of the people to operate.”

Sharon Stone: Bush a Problem for Lesbian Kissing

From "The Headline Writes Itself" Department, we get this interesting political statement:
Sharon Stone blames US President George W Bush for the absence of a lesbian kissing scene in Catwoman - because of the current conservative climate in America.

Basic Instinct star Stone, 46, was keen to enjoy an intimate moment with Oscar-winning co-star Halle Berry, but believes a puritanical streak running through the country put an end to any potential girl-on-girl action.

Stone says: "Halle's so beautiful and I wanted to kiss her. I said, 'How can you have us in the movie and not have us kiss? That's such a waste.'

"That's what you get for having George Bush as president."

Pakistanis on a Roll in Terror Arrests

Pakistan continued its hot streak as they nabbed two more with suspected ties to al Queda.
Pakistan arrested a suspected member of al Qaeda with a multi-million dollar price on his head and several others, government officials said Tuesday.

Arrests over the last three days in Pakistan follow on from an earlier sweep for militants which led to information of a possible attack in the United States and a subsequent rise in the U.S. state of alert.

"We have arrested in the past 24 hours from Punjab another two people of African origin who in our view have links to al Qaeda," Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat told Reuters.

"Before that another person was arrested who has a multi-billion dollar bounty on his head," the minister added, but he declined to give any further details on the big catch.

The crackdown on militants in Pakistan has apparently gathered pace since the capture of a computer engineer who acted as an e-mail postman for the groups by distributing coded messages. The New York Times said he was arrested in mid-July.
This is the nature of the fight against a cell-based, loosely-organized outfit like al Queda, as any break in information can open up a few threads in the terror web.

Monday, August 02, 2004

PA Fails to Protect Prisoners in Jail, Hospital

Demonstrating their inability to control (or maybe their ability to direct) their own terrorists, the Palestinian Authority repeatedly failed to protect prisoners from terror, as alleged Israeli collaborators were attacked in a PA jail and two of the injured were later capped while in hospital care.
In dramatic, daytime raids on Gaza City's largest hospital, Palestinian vigilantes killed two men convicted of collaborating with Israeli intelligence, shooting them at close range hours after they were admitted for wounds suffered when a grenade exploded in their jail cell Monday.

The two had confessed during their trials to helping Israeli forces kill two top Islamic militants. While killing of suspected collaborators are common, the audacious military-style operations in broad daylight with hundreds of witnesses illustrated a progressive breakdown of law and order in the Palestinian territories.
Paging Michael Corleone. Mr. Corleone, please pick up the white phone. Your hospital security ingenuity is needed in the land of the lawless.

Kerry Claims Bush Policies Encourage Terrorism

Sorry, but I'm utterly aghast at this stupidity.

John Kerry is now claiming that, by taking the fight to the terrorists sans the approval of Saddam's French and German bankrollers, the policies of President Bush are feeding terrorism.
Kerry repeated his argument that the Bush administration is encouraging the recruitment of terrorists. He said Bush hasn't reached out to other countries and the Muslim community.

"The policies of this administration, I believe and others believe very deeply, have resulted in an increase of animosity and anger focused on the United States of America," Kerry told reporters after a campaign meeting with first responders. "The people who are training terror are using our actions as a means of recruitment."

Bush said, "It is a ridiculous notion to assert that, because the more the United States is on the offense, more people want to hurt us."
One simple response is all that is needed for this tripe: were the current Bush policies in place while the 9/11 attack was planned? No, we were operating at the time under the Clintonian policy of tit-for-tat. That is, tit means "you hit us" and tat equals "we chuck a cruise missile somewhere."

US to Send Armed Troops to Olympics

This tidbit is almost two week old, but I'm just now finding out about it. It seems that, contrary to their own laws, the Greeks have decided to allow armed American, British and Israeli soldiers to accompany their respective athletes and VIPs.
Greece is reported to have agreed to permit 400 U.S. special forces troops to be present at next month's Summer Olympic games in Athens.

The New York Times cites Greek and U.S. officials as saying the American soldiers, along with Israeli and British security officers will be allowed to carry weapons. The agreement appears to run counter to a Greek law barring foreign personnel from carrying weapons.

A NATO official is quoted as saying the Bush administration persuaded Greece to ask for NATO sponsorship for the U.S. contingent to avoid controversy.

The Times says Greece also will permit 100 armed U.S. agents to serve as bodyguards for American athletes and dignitaries. The FBI reportedly plans to send armed hostage-rescue and evidence-gathering personnel.
Is this not an outright admission that the Greeks themselves have doubts about the security at the Olympics? While viewing, I'll be understanding of anyone I see who hits the deck when a starter's pistol is fired.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Latest USS Texas Christened

The fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry the name of the Lone Star state was christened this weekend by First Lady Laura Bush.

The USS Texas (SSN 775) is the second member of the Virginia class of submarines and the fourth vessel in the Navy to carry the name of Texas. The most famous to date would be the battleship that saw duty in WWII, including action off North Africa and Iwo Jima. The ship can be visited at the San Jacinto Battleground near Houston.

How Not to Fight Terror

Today's lesson is in two parts, both involving the U.S.'s staunch allies, the Aussies.

Part 1: Philippines object to criticism

The Philippines are whining about being called out on weak anti-terror policy by Australia. The Aussies had rightly said that the Philippines' policy of running away while emptying their pockets is reckless and could only send the wrong message.

Meanwhile, Philippine weakness continues.
Earlier, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (news - web sites) said she would not apologize for her decision to withdraw the troops and explained that her move was meant to protect the 1.5 million Filipino workers in the Middle East, including more than 4,000 in Iraq.

"The Philippines has no policy that demands sacrifice of human lives," Arroyo said in her state-of-the-nation address Monday.
Part 2: Australia ID's trained terrorists, does nothing

Meanwhile, the Aussies have issues of their own after identifyinng ten indivuals in Sydney who attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan but cannot legally be touched.
The Sunday Telegraph said Sunday it had learned Australia's domestic intelligence agency ASIO had established the 10 trained with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan between 1999 and 2001.

But authorities had been unable to prosecute them because they did their training before Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba were outlawed in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Australia's counter-terrorism offensive was stepped up further in the aftermath of the Bali bombings which claimed 202 lives in October, 2002.

Australia would also have been unable to prosecute two Australian terrorist suspects now held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. But David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib are being prosecuted under US laws.