Friday, December 29, 2006

Cue Jeopardy Theme:

Hussein execution imminent, lawyer says
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein could be hanged as early as Saturday, one of the former Iraqi dictator's lawyers told CNN on Friday.

"Different sources" said the death sentence would be carried out Saturday morning, defense attorney Najib al-Nuaimi said from Doha, Qatar.

"I think the Americans will accompany him onto the execution stage and I think they will have a pre-recorded film that will be released [Saturday] evening if they carry out the sentence in the day," he said.
Although Mitch, who originally locked in January 2007, moved his pick a bit earlier, to tomorrow as well.
Mark your dead pools for Saturday, 3PM Central time (midnight Baghdad). Here’s why; Ronald Reagan and the Pope both passed away moments after the NARN show let off the air. Now, you’d be right in saying that there’s no comparing Hussein with either of those two great men, or comparing the natural deaths of two men after long, rich lives to the execution of a genocidal Napoleon. That might well throw my prediction off. But I gotta start somewhere.

My first prediction was a very slightly educated guess. Here, I have tradition on my side.
Whenever it will be, it will be soon, and allow the Iraqi's to move on.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

President Gerald Ford; 1913-2006

via CBS:
Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Mrs. Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."
His presidency was at an awkward time, but he carried the country admirably.

A small bit of trivia, he was the last surviving member of the Warren Commission tasked with the investigation of the John F Kennedy Assassination.

Thank you, President Ford, for your service. May you rest in peace.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lights Please . . .

Thanks to Buhl, with credit to Charles Shultz. From 'A Charlie Brown Christmas':
"And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid ... And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord."

"And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men."

"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

- Linus Van Pelt
Enjoy your Holiday weekend!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good and/or Evil!

According to Raw Story, Drudge was a little miffed at this picture:Of course, back in the early days, no one seemed to have a problem with these angles:


If You Love Hockey

Just look at this picture:
Whether you like hockey or not, can't you just feel the intensity.

One of many on CNNSI's 'Most Interesting Pictures' of the year.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lernaean Hydra

Lernaean Hydra from the Wiki:
In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra was an ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic water beast that possessed numerous heads— the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint— and poisonous breath (Hyginus, 30). The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as one of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos, for Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian (Kerenyi 1959, p. 143).
And the one in Iraq:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has replaced al Qaeda in Iraq as "the most dangerous accelerant" of the sectarian violence plaguing Iraq for nearly a year, according to a Pentagon report.

Attacks by Iraqi insurgents and sectarian militias jumped 22 percent from mid-August to mid-November, and Iraqi civilians suffered the bulk of casualties, according to the quarterly report released on Monday.

The average number of attacks reported each week jumped during that period from nearly 800 to almost 1,000, the report said.
I'm still waiting for someone to play the roll of Heracles.


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Contenders

Over the weekend we heard of Evan Bayh's departure and Sen. Edwards' likely entrance in to the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes.

I have started a new sidebar entry in an attempt to keep track of these contenders. Once a candidate forms an exploratory committee, or states publicly they plan to do so, they will be added to the list. Should they drop out, that will be noted, and they will remain on the list for a brief period of time before they are dropped.

Electoral Vote has already formed a nice compilation of potential candidates, so be sure to stop by and review their take on this crucial race for our country's future.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

My Marine is Home!

Well, not home in Minnesota, but on dry land in California where his home is. The Corporal will be hanging out through the holidays until his orders come through. The next stint is looking like a 13 month deploy as a member of the Iraqi' security contingent. Boots on the ground as they say. He is also talking about being a member of the 'Bomb Squad'.
I am making a few changes with my career in the Marine Corps. I am making a move into the EOD field (explosive ordnance disposal). I'll be on the bomb squad! Yeah!
Talk about a parental buzz kill.

But for now he is safe and sound. I can't worry just yet about that which I can't control.

As always, I'll keep ya posted.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Getting It!

Since the war in Iraq began, the military's objective has been self governance and self security by the Iraqi people. In order to achieve this goal, training of local forces, and redevelopment of damaged infrastructure needed to take place. But one area that has gone unreported by the media, but not unnoticed by the local resurgency, is the need for economic stability, and jobs, jobs, jobs. Seems the resistance knows this, and the military planners do not:
A suicide bomber targeting laborers killed 71 people Tuesday in Baghdad and wounded 220, Iraqi officials said.

A pickup truck loaded with about 440 pounds of explosives pulled into central Baghdad's Tayaran Square as hundreds of unemployed Iraqis holding picks and shovels gathered seeking a day's work.

The truck driver signaled that he had jobs -- prompting people to crowd around the pickup before he detonated his bomb, said an Iraqi Interior Ministry official.
Commenter Steve shared more with me recently:
The "new" issue of the day I see is get some factories going over here to put people to work. I surmised years ago that when people are unemployed they sit around thinking how terrible their lives are and they are moved to acts of violence. It happens over and over in places like the Balkans, Iraq, and even in the US. Simply put: people that are employed don't have the time nor do they have the inclination to take up arms and fight. Seems like a no brainer to me, but we haven't put that into practice much.
Disgruntled and idle Iraqi citizens can easily be moved by the terrorist recruitment system. There is no doubt that Security is key to making the employment opportunities more readily available, and I must believe that training is ongoing. But we need to put the citizens to work, to keep them busy, and have them feel success. Steve now believes the military powers are 'Getting it":
The Iraq news today seems to be one of finally "getting it" and one of re-trenchment. The "getting it" is that the powers that be have finally realized that when there's 70% unemployment, all those out of work people are a ready-made breeding ground of insurgents. So now we're finally going to concentrate on helping to rebuild the Iraqi economy so people can work. It never ceases to amaze me that they come to this "realization" when the facts of the issue have been identified throughout history. If the folks living in depressed areas of MN/USA had full employment, good education and a glimmer of hope for their future, would they participate in gangs, crime and drugs? Certainly not in the numbers they are now. Our society tosses these people under the bus then can't understand why they live the way they do. Amazing. Over here in Iraq we put all the former Government employees out of work, fired the soldiers and police, didn't create new jobs and wonder why they fight us.
We will need to see a brief up tick in forces to restabilize and secure economic centers and work more diligently in getting the Iraqis back to work. As more and more of them feel success and see the potential future that is available to them, the recruitment ability of the terrors cells will be effected. Violence could very well subside, and the need for the larger security forces, specifically international one, may diminish.

In my teaser post, a comment states:
Damn few leaders were talking about true reconstruction as part of our "winning strategy". Despite many billions simply vanishing, it's taken all of our resources to start fixing Iraqi basic infrastructure that has crumbled under years of war and UN sanctions. The sad thing is that investors need security to start putting up factories...and security is almost impossible to find. Especially, as pointed out above, in the middle of a widening civil war.

I fear, once again, we started too little, too late, and with the wrong priorities.
I'm not convinced it is too late, and if the military planners start finally 'getting it' there is hope they can work towards rebuilding the economic infrastructure as well as the security infrastructure. But I will agree the clock is running out, and if there is going to be a chance at success in Iraq, things need to start happening pretty quickly.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Busy Busy!

Things have been hectic both at work and home. I can't even blame the holidays.

I am working on a post regarding Iraq, and why we have seen violence at job centers recently. Not only is the Iraqi and coalition forces recognizing the importance of a strong employment system, but the resurgents recognize how that will impact their recruitment ability. More on that as I cull through my material.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Watchya Cooking?

Was he getting ready for some Holiday Cheer (Strib):
The case of the self-described engineer and his fermenting corn is headed to the county attorney.

"In my 18 years, I don't think I've ever even seen a still, except on the 'Beverly Hillbillies,' " said Maplewood Police Lt. Dave Kvam, who raided the apartment Friday.

Police have more questions than answers because they haven't yet talked to the apartment dweller about the still and fermenting corn. He didn't appear to be home Monday.

Kvam said he will forward the case to the Ramsey County attorney's office later this week for possible prosecution. In Minnesota, an unauthorized still is prima facie evidence of illegal alcohol production.

Kvam said it's possible, though unlikely, that the man has a federal license to produce ethanol, which is essentially the same as moonshine. It also seems unlikely that such a license would be granted for operation in an apartment, he said.
Come on, if you can brew some beer, why not a little shine for a bump now and then. *laughing*


Say it Ain't So, Dennis!

MNPublius shares:
Kucinich To Announce ‘08 Presidential Run Tomorrow
There was obviously going to be a peacnik candidate, but Kucinich, again. Isn't there someone, anyone else out there to represent the Left of Wellstone Democrats.

The Dems have a chance to win the White House, I hope they are careful to not blow this chance by failing to realize what the electorate wants. The vast majority want a redeployment and change of course in Iraq. I don't think they want to evolve into a pacifist nation, though.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Cry Me a River!

Rudolph is whining:
Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph laments in a series of letters to a newspaper that the maximum-security federal prison where he is spending the rest of his life is designed to drive him insane.

"It is a closed-off world designed to isolate inmates from social and environmental stimuli, with the ultimate purpose of causing mental illness and chronic physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis," he wrote in one letter to The Gazette of Colorado Springs.

Rudolph wrote that he spends 23 hours a day in his 7-by-12-foot cell, his only exercise confined to an enclosed area he described as a "large empty swimming pool" divided into "dog-kennel style cages."

"Using solitary confinement, Supermax is designed to inflict as much misery and pain as is constitutionally permissible," he wrote in a letter.
So is he expecting to be treated better than his victims. Seems to me he already is, so as Ann Landers would say " Quit yer Beefin' "

One of the main premises behind these Super Maxs is to isolate these notorious killers and have them wallow in solitude. I am a little concerned that the Gazette would give him any print at all, and embarrassed for myself for even bringing it up. Oh well.

Last word from me on Rudolph. What a whiner!


Friday, December 08, 2006

Remember The Rule of Threes

Living in the frozen Tundra of Minnesota, we know cold well. But for those of us following the events in the Pacific Northwest over the last few days, we have a new perspective. While his wife and kids were rescued a couple days ago, James Kim was not so lucky (watch the CNET tribute). Feeling the reality of their seclusion, Kim felt the need to venture out, and seek help. Many of us 'dads' probably would have done the same thing, considering the patience already displayed by the family. However, sometimes the survival instinct still rooted in our primordial minds overrules the actions an arm chair quarterback, with hindsight, might have taken.

Rick Sanchez, on Anderson Cooper's 360 Blog, shares:
Probably every one of us who has seen the tragic story out of Oregon has wondered what they would do if faced with same situation as James Kim and his family. I'm no different.

I've discussed it with my colleagues. I've discussed it with my wife. So now I'm heading into the Rocky Mountains to find out what it is really like to be in the kinds of unbelievable conditions James and his family faced -- the freezing cold, the snow, the wilderness.
I may be a day or two behind in commenting on this tragedy, but it was the Rule of Threes that Rick pointed at that seemed like advice we should all be aware of:
1. You can survive for three hours without shelter
2. You can survive for three days without water
3. You can survive for three weeks without food
And now I know where the priorities should be:
If you have to make a choice between food, water and shelter from the cold, then shelter wins out in a big way.
Remember the rule of threes!

You can read the almost 3000 'thoughts and condolences' to the Kim family here, and leave your own if you choose.


McCain Picking a Dirty Fight?

McCain makes some moves:
According to a source close to the McCain operation, the candidate has lined up Terry Nelson to serve as campaign manager (if a formal bid is announced), and Republican National Committee Communications Director Brian Jones has committed to lead the press effort for a national bid.
Who is this Nelson guy:
Nelson, along with Karl Rove protegé Scott Howell, produced a controversial ad in Tennessee's 2006 U.S. Senate race between Democrat Harold Ford, Jr. and Republican Bob Corker in which a white woman seductively invites an "off-camera" Ford to call her.
Oh, and there's more:
He was supervisor over James Tobin, the convicted New Hampshire GOP operative who schemed to jam Democratic phone lines in the 2002 election season.
McCain could loose me if this is how he starts his campaign. Going negative out of the box is a sign, to me, that even the candidate feels they couldn't win on their own merits. I struggle to find a scenario where I could support a Hillary Candidacy, if nominated, but the Republican's are obviously set on creating just the right set of circumstances.

The electorate is moderating, and many of us are a bit fed up with the dirty pool in politics. Isn't it a bit early to disenfranchise us?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Test Matchups

Rasmussen grocery lists a variety of General Election Match ups:
Clinton (D) 46% Giuliani (R) 46%
McCain (R) 48% Clinton (D) 43%
Giuliani (R) 50% Edwards (D) 41%
McCain (R) 47% Edwards (D) 43%
Giuliani (R) 47% Gore (D) 44%
McCain (R) 48% Gore (D) 41%
Giuliani (R) 48% Obama (D) 39%
McCain (R) 47% Obama (D) 39%
Edwards (D) 51% Romney (R) 34%
Obama (D) 48% Romney (R) 33%
Edwards (D) 50% Huckabee (R) 33%
Obama (D) 50% Huckabee (R) 31%
McCain (R) 49% Vilsack (D) 32%
Vilsack (D) 39% Romney (R) 35%
What's interesting, is that even though McCain is in a great postion to hold off Hillary, the GOP doesn't want him:
As expected, McCain struggles with conservatives. Among conservative voters, the Arizona Senator is essentially even with Gingrich, far behind Giuliani.
However, the other RINO, Giuliani, has surged past Hillary in recent polling:
While there has been no change in the McCain-Clinton match-up, Rudy Giuliani (R) has opened a five-point lead over Clinton, 48% to 43%. In the previous survey these New York politicos were tied at 46%.
So my Right Wing readers, could you plug your nose and vote for one of these RINOs, or do you have something else up your sleeve to attract a more conservative candidate, giving the Dems a better shoot at returning to the White House. What a dilemma you are in. Stick to your values and lose, or compromise them and have a shot.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ISG:The Way Forward: A New Approach

The bipartisan 'Iraq Study Group' has released its report. Just a year ago it may have been called 'cut and run', but today, I would call it common sense. Some details via CNN:
"It's clear the Iraqi government will need U.S. assistance for some time to come, especially in carrying out new security responsibilities. Yet the U.S. must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq."
Other items of significance:

-- move most U.S. troops out of combat roles by early 2008 transitioning into more of a supporting roll

-- encourages the administration to explore fresh diplomatic options to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

-- recommends direct talks between the United States and Iran, as well as Syria. The President has been chilly to this idea.

-- "Iraq's neighbors and key states in and outside the region should form a support group" to help Iraq achieve long-term security and political reconciliation -- "neither of which it can sustain on its own,"

The report concludes with comments addressing the new majority in congress, and the potential conflicts that will exists with a President of another party:
"What we recommend demands a tremendous amount of political will and cooperation between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government," the report says. "Success depends on unity of the American people at a time of political polarization."

The report concludes: "Foreign policy is doomed to failure -- as is any action in Iraq -- if not supported by broad, sustained consensus."
There are other reports out there, and I am sure the polipundits will cherry pick what they want to believe out of the report that supports their predetermined conclusions. But the bipartisan ISG, co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, just may have the most credibility.

A PDF of the report will be available at their website during this morning's 10:00 AM CST Press conference. Some reading material for my lunch break.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Making Nice!

See, Pelosi isn't the Wicked Witch of the West she is made out to be. Via Roll Call, RawStory shares this nugget:
In what is described as a "random act of bipartisan kindness," incoming Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly offered her Republican predecessor Dennis Hastert prized office space during the 110th Congress, according to a report in today's Roll Call.

The article in the "Heard on the Hill" gossip column by Mary Ann Akers suggests that Pelosi will not house the controversial former Speaker of the House in a less desirable space. While he loses the office with a balcony he has occupied, Hastert will take over the coveted office of the outgoing Republican chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who is retiring at the end of the 109th Congress.

The office provides a favored view of the National Mall. Roll Call also presents the possibility that the move could result in some controversy among House Democrats.
So either this is a sincere gesture to promote bipartisanship, or a reminder of the old adage; 'Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer!'


Monday, December 04, 2006

Bolton Bolting!

Faced with an unfriendly congress, and unrealistic confirmation chances, John Bolton will resign:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unable to win Senate confirmation, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday.

Bolton's nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections November 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton.

Critics have questioned Bolton's brusque style and whether he could be an effective public servant who could help bring reform to the U.N.

A Civil War?

My favorite in a bunch of on topic 'toons at Cagle. Even our own Strib drawer was in the mix.


More on Iraq

Commenter Steve who was in country had some more analysis on the Doctor's Iraq post.
Actually serving over here in Iraq I can tell you that much of what was written by the doctor is true. We could go on for hours about how we win wars only to lose the peace, and why that happens time and again. We keep electing incumbents and the even the same "types" of people over and over yet we expect different outcomes. Having been "in country" for almost a year now, and working alongside Iraqis, I can tell you that we can not even begin to understand the people of the Middle East. Our experience of Democracy is not what they can or will ever understand. We have to shift our thoughts and see things through their prism.
and some agreement with disbanding the Army int he early days.
We committed a grave error by invading in the first place, by disbanding the Iraqi security forces (Army and Police), and by tossing out all the government officials who knew how to make things work. And of course we didn’t have any clue about how to win the peace. This was supposed to be a “revolution” that sprang up from our ground assault. Revolutions only work when they come from the grass roots, not from an outside source. Outside armies like the French came in after we had already won our Revolutionary War. After the way we acted in Gulf War I (with Prez Bush I) who could blame the Iraqis for not trusting us to help them toss out Saddam? Thousands died believing America’s assurance of support in 1991. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
You may have read the post, but be sure to read the comment thread as well.


Bird Huntin'

The Doctor and I went back to Iowa for another round of pheasant stalking. Saw more deer than birds on Saturday, which doesn't mean we didn't see many birds. Just that we saw a lot of Deer.

I didn't even fire my gun on Saturday. Clive was successful later in the afternoon and dropped his first bird of the season. Sunday was a bit colder, but we were determined. Than it happened in a flurry with a flush. I lowered my gun and beaded on the nice size rooster. BAM! One shot and it dropped like a rock. Below is a pic with the fantastic habitat we hunted in the background.

That was probably my last trip of the year. Doc will be down for family events over the holidays, so he gets one more shot at 'em.