Wednesday, April 28, 2004

More news of the Terrorfist 

This morning CNN, FoxNews, and MSNBC were all carrying the same fuzzy video phone feed of something burning in Fallujah. There was a marine sniper atop a building, and every once in a while when the camera steadied, you could see a can of Sprite, no doubt used for refreshment. Sure, the situation in Fallujah is certainly worthy of coverage, but not of the omnipresent "must not leave the feed for fear of missing something Pulitzer worthy" type.

All the while I was watching nothing happening on the three mainstream outlets, there was another nothing transpiring. Nothing was being said about the attacks on the Embassies in Damascus last night. according to Debka

"US and UK close Damascus embassies and warn nationals to be vigilant after terrorists unleashed explosions, grenades, rockets and automatic fire on diplomatic quarter of Syrian capital Tuesday night. Reports of four buildings set on fire including UN offices and shootout at Canadian embassy.

Syrian ambassador blamed al Qaeda for strike and declared his government on America’s side in war on terror."

Perhaps Al Qaeda was reeling to do something of scale now that the gas bombing plot was foiled. (incidentally, this also received very little press on this side of the pond). Syria now avowedly "with us?"

Why must the mainstream media continually fail to report on incredibly newsworthy events in this manner?

In other news, Mary Kate Olsen might have an eating disorder.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Rainy Day in Houston 

It's a good rain, but there's been an awful lot of it. Succulents do not like it very much.
Here's hoping the auditions went well.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Welcome Home, JD 

As Dedman reports today, he's returning to the city from whence he came. A long road indeed is that I-10 West, made shorter by a jaunt across the Lynchburg ferry. Perhaps he would be wise to scope the Houston Survival Guide and give me a call...

His visit is all the more untimely, given that I am to travel to Beaumont tomorrow for the same sort of activity, and had intended that we might enjoy lunch. An unfortunate juxtaposition yielding fewer boozefest opportunities.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Not a Good Time to be a Hamas Leader 

Well, it seems the average tenure of a Hamas leader these days is roughly akin to that of a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Israel assassinated the Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, roughly one month after he succeeded Sheik Rassin, also felled by a pinpoint strike.

In other incredible important news which has yet to be spoken about in the mainstream Western media, debka is reporting the killing of a top Al-Qaeda officer in Chechnya, Abu al-Walid al-Ghamdi, who is alleged to have been in charge of selecting a contingent of Chechen militants to aid in the fight in the Sunni Triangle. His death marks a serious blow to the Al-Qaeda operation in the much-beleaguered Russian republic, and is a considerable victory for the United States' efforts to stamp out the global scourge of Al-Qaeda. It will also, undoubtedly, make Pres. Putin very happy.

Friday, April 16, 2004

House Maj. Leader DeLay is a deadbeat blogger 

Why does Rep. Cantor post his letter to his house.gov site the day it is sent to the commission, yet Rep. DeLay's most recent post is from March 17?

Rep. Cantor's Letter 

Chairman Thomas H. Kean
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
301 7th Street, SW
Room 5125
Washington , DC 20407

April 15, 2004

Dear Commissioner Kean:

As an American and Member of Congress, I have watched the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States proceedings with great interest. I am deeply disturbed by the partisan nature of the hearings and the opinionated statements and dogmatic interviews from some of the Commissioners. Congress charged the Commission, the entire Commission, with a sacred duty to find truth and avoid partisanship and sensationalism. So far, the Commission has failed in this responsibility.

Unfortunately, the recent tone of the Commission has become that of opportunism and assigning blame. I have observed hearings and interviews in which allegedly impartial members of the fact-finding Commission are clearly attacking for partisan gain. I would like an explanation as to why Commission members are granting interviews and sharing opinions before the investigation has been completed.

The Commission has been asked to be judges of our preparation for and response to the 9-11 attacks, not to be advocates, shills or ideologues for a cause or party. I do not look to silence the Commission, but to encourage an unbiased search for truth.

The Commission was created to examine the weaknesses and strengths in our national security network. The Commission’s charge is to ascertain, evaluate, and report on the evidence developed by all relevant governmental agencies regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the 9-11 attacks, the solutions put into place after that attack, as well as suggest new alternatives to further buttress homeland security.

The Commission is a separate, non-partisan entity created to build upon previous House and Senate 9-11 investigations and not be influenced by Congress. I agree with this necessary separation and am very reluctant to see Congress react before the Commission has had time to examine the facts and issue a comprehensive report.

The Commission’s myopic approach is too concentrated on pointing a finger at a single action or an individual rather than examining the long-term, systemic problems that led us to 9-11 and measuring the effectiveness of the broad-based reforms that were put in place after 9-11.

The decade-long pattern of attacks against Americans and American interests should have been a wakeup call to the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities. It appears that barriers were put in place between agencies, atrophy set in, counterterrorism funding was cut and a coordinated national response was lacking. This was not an eight-month problem of President Bush’s, but rather a systemic decade-long problem.

What has also been lacking from these hearings is a review and evaluation of the lessons learned since September 11th. Those attacks made Americans realize that we must take steps to improve security. With the leadership of the President, Congress took bold measures to make those changes. Now we need to know if those efforts were enough, or if there is more we can do to protect lives. (Editor's Note: Precisely.)

It is my hope that the Commission will not remain hijacked by politics. Americans died on Sept. 11, 2001 and more have died since trying to protect America . Ideological demagoguery must not replace the Commission’s duty to do everything possible to examine the complete responses of both Presidents Clinton and Bush to worldwide terrorism.

The American people expect a real and valuable product from the Commission. They expect a report that is not a short-term tool for partisan gain but a timeless guide that dissects a national tragedy and offers valuable analysis and prevention. With these goals in mind, I hope that the Commission will renew its commitment to examine these weighty national issues accurately and fairly.



Hon. Eric Cantor

cc: Vice Chair Lee H. Hamilton


Pigs Flying in a Frozen Hell? 

Dear god. I think I might just agree with Tom DeLay.

Will try and post the text of the letter as it is made available.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

"The Commish" 

I have been following the public hearings of the 9/11 commission on KPFT, our local Houston Pacifica Radio Station. From what I've been able to glean, and what I've read in the published reports, I offer the following observation.

I do not think this will be the silver bullet for which the DNC had hoped. Clearly, the intelligence failures in the months and years preceding 9/11 cross administration, and party, lines. Surely then, the benefit which shall be obtained will not be the crucifixion of Bush 43 (much to the Democrat hardliners' dismay). While I take issue with the Bush administration on a number of its policies, I was never one fool enough to believe that this could be painted in such a way to indict the administration and lay upon it the mantle of proximate cause. Nor did I want to. (Editor's Note: As far as I'm concerned, so long as 43 can concentrate on finishing the fight, and keep his f**ing hands off the Supreme Court and the Constitution, I'll be right as rain.)

The Clinton administration was equally to blame for the failures and ineptitude which led to 9/11. One the one hand, you have the failure of the traditional sort (underfunding, understaffing, lack of cooperation amongst branches), and on the other, you have the Somalia-syndrome, which was purely a Clinton administration blunder. Thankfully, 43 has made considerable strides to demonstrate that the U.S. shall never again turn tail like we did in Mogadishu. Unfortunately, there are a great number of Iraqi dissidents who have not yet gotten the message. Hopefully, before the end of the occupation, they shall.

No, I believe that the true benefit to be gained from the commission's investigation is the surfacing of the problems which have plagued the CIA/NSA/FBI for far too long. Clearly, we are beginning to understand that the failure owed itself primarily to a lack of cooperation and transparency amongst the intelligence gathering branches. Furthermore, the CIA itself lacked the technical capacity to gather and disseminate the immense amounts of data on those who sought to do harm. One of the commission members put it best when he described it as an inability of the CIA to "know what it knew." In the wake of the commission, we can only hope to learn from our earlier shortcomings which enabled the terrorists to operate, with few exceptions, without detection and intervention. This, in turn, should lead to a revitalization of our intelligence gathering capabilities sufficient to gather and analyze the information necessary to effectively defend agasint future attacks.

Incidentally, while listening to the commission hearings, I was reminded of a press conference Rumsfeld gave a week or two before the attacks which spotlighted a similar chronic communication breakdown within the ranks of the Pentagon itself. Curiously, until now, the administration has remained rather mum on this topic. I guess they've had far much more proactive endeavours to worry about than upgrading the computer system.


Monday, April 12, 2004

Remember the Alamo 

As Dedman notes, this past weekend marked the opening of the "long-awaited" feature film, the Alamo. Although I have not seen the film yet, I continue to hold out hope that the film's producers will have found a place for Donovan Leitch's brilliant song regarding the famed battle for the San Antonio mission. While the bare lyrics do the song no justice, I include them nonetheless (edited for accuracy):

"880 were challenged by Travis to die
By a line that he drew with his sword as the battle drew nigh
A man that crossed over the line was for glory
And he that was left better fly
And over the line crossed 179
Hey Up Santa Anna, they're killing your soldiers below
So the rest of Texas will know
And remember the Alamo

Jim Bowie lay dying, his blood and his powder were dry
But his knife at the ready to take him a few in reply
Young Davy Crocket lay laughing and dying
The blood and the sweat in his eyes
For Texas and freedom a man was more willing to die
Hey Up Santa Anna, they're killing your soldiers below
So the rest of Texas will know
And remember the Alamo

A courier came to a battle once bloody and loud
And found only skin and bones where he once left a crowd
Fear not little darling of dying
If this world be sovereign and free
For we'll fight to the last for as long as liberty be
Hey Up Santa Anna, they're killing your soldiers below
So the rest of Texas will know
And remember the Alamo"

Apparently the MP3 is available for download here, but I refuse to click "yes" and the site hates me...


Friday, April 09, 2004

I will see you on Good Friday 

That was always one of the Black Crowes' weakest songs. Come to think about it, they had an awful lot of really weak songs post "Money Maker." But seriously, today's far too beautiful to stay indoors typing away.

Perhaps a round of golf is in order. We shall see.

What's really number one on my list is trying to find a sunrise screening of "The Passion" this Easter. I figure, since the entirety of the Christian population of the earth is rushing to instill Mel Gibson as the successor to Pope John Paul II, certainly we can begin by substituting traditional worship services for an early morning popcorn and coke viewing of his uber-successful historical narrative.

Note to Trey and Matt - the feces was a bit much...


Thursday, April 08, 2004

New Links Added 

Have added Raed and Healing Iraq to the blog links. Healing Iraq states it is a blog by an Iraqi dentist concerning post-Saddam Iraq. He has a number of interesting links on his blog, and, time permitting, I will check them out and possibly create an Iraq-Blogger specialty heading.

All in hopes of getting the real story...

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Show down with Al-Sadr 

Of course, the mainstream press wants to characterize the impending showdown with Al-Sadr as the cataclysmic event which will lead to the undoing of the coalition.

Although I do not consider myself a scholar of the Iraqi Social order, I find it interesting to note that debkafile is reporting that the Mahdi brigades are being funded by Tehran. I recognize two distinct intentions from the neighbour to the east: First, draw the U.S. forces into a protracted firefight with Mahdi guerillas, increasing the U.S. body count while the opposition sentiment rises proportionately at home. Second, in the event that the American street proves willing to stay the course, provoke the U.S. into engaging Tehran directly, which will be portrayed as further "proof" of the Americans' imperialist agenda.

Nonetheless, I believe that Raed's blog can offer some insight. I do not pretend that I have enough (or any) information from the mainstream western outlets to form a rational conclusion regarding the current goings-on in Iraq. Raed, on the other hand, has been blogging under fear of death since before the invasion began last year. I find his post on Al-Sadr particularly informative:

"You have to be careful about what you say about al-Sadir. Their hands reach every where and you don't want to be on their shit list. Every body, even the GC is very careful how they formulate their sentences and how they describe Sadir's Militias. They are thugs, thugs thugs. There you have it.

I was listening to a representative of al-sadir on TV saying that the officers at police stations come to offer their help and swear allegiance. Habibi, if they don't they will get killed and their police station "liberated". Have we forgotten the threat al-Sadir issued that Iraqi security forces should not attack their revolutionary brothers, or they will have to suffer the consequences.

Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort of timing is that it: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers."

I for one, have confidence that GW intends to stay the course, but I don't feel that he is doing a good job of getting this message across. Remember when we invaded Iraq, and everyone was talking about how we couldn't do like Mogadishu and cut-n-run at the first sign of U.S. Casualties? Remember when four civilian contractors were brutally murdered and set on fire and 44% of Americans felt we should withdraw our troops.

Although I don't necessarily believe that Saddam posed an iminent threat (and I didn't then either), I have always felt that we should have gone back to remove him from power long ago, and, despite our obvious pretext for war, we returned to keep our word. Regardless of motive and consequences be damned, we must stay the course. The problem is, this course may well prove itself to be a marathon, and this 26th mile could very well be a lot more unpleasant than turning the corner at Park South and getting a faceful of horse manure-stank...


Monday, April 05, 2004

Back to the So' 

A whirlwind trip it turned out to be this past week in NYC. Apart from the subject matter of my champagne fueled guerilla post, the trip was wildly succesful.

I was introduced to a number of people "in the know" in this business, and hopefully, made a good impression. I met some others who already told me I made a good impression, so those don't count. All in all, we did a lot of good business, ate more steak than should be legally allowed, and had a fantastic time all around. Unless you count the drunken wake up call at 7:00 (6:00) after forgetting dedman's advice to spring ahead.

Tonight, I must unfortunately forego the traditional Passover Seder to worship at an altar of a different sort - The Church of the Houston Astros. It's opening night, and we will be praising the name of Drayton as we witness our beloved Astros take on the San Francisco Giants, and their "metabolically advanced" slugger, Barry "Ain't got No Neck" Bonds.

It's been a haze of emails and phone calls to all the people who need to know, and brain-racking for those we've forgotten. Oh well, as they say, tomorrow is another day...

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Then it Begins Anew 

Today, at the center of Shakespeare's Garden in Central Park, NYC, I asked Roberta Hoover to be my wife, and much to my joy, she accepted.

Am in the basement of the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South, and am a bit drunk on Taittenger. Will update when the Dirty So' is reached tomorrow...

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