August 10, 2002


, or, more likely, he's just pulling another trick. To me, the real villain in the story is British pol George Galloway, who's been having secret meetings with Saddam to get weapons inspectors back in on the one hand while undermining PM Tony Blair's pro-war stance on the other. Uh, Mr. Galloway, what on earth do you think could be making Saddam so nervous these days? Might it be Blair's pro-war statements? If you get Blair to back off, might you also be taking the heat off Saddam, which might just make him bold again?
Posted by B. Preston at 08:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: This looks very scary. Saddam may be small potatoes...
Posted by B. Preston at 08:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Dave sends along the details of how fellow Marylander Joe Messner stole al Qeada's web domain. I love this part:

For five days, visitors believed was still the real al-Qaida site. Then at 4:30 a.m. on July 20, a message was posted to an Islamic message board by the person who had regularly maintained the actual Al Neda website.

"He told them it was a trap, not to go there, the infidels were tracking their information, they had taken control of the domain and stay away."

After that, Messner realized, "The jig was up."

With his cover blown, there was no sense keeping the decoy up anymore, so Messner replaced the website with a picture of the Great Seal of the United States and the phrase, "Hacked, tracked and now owned by the USA."

Imagine the shock when those idiots logged in for their daily fix of Usama-lovin' but got the Great Seal instead! Joe Messner, you rule.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


, so rant away at me.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:51 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


went looking for original Democrat ideas, and found none. She did find some rather hateful lefty sites, though--a couple that are on a par with
Posted by B. Preston at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


went fairly well this morning, considering how rusty I was. The gist of the discussion was media bias, a natural fit given my criticism of The Baltimore Sun's Mike Olesker in the NRO piece. I had a ball with it once I got over the butterflies (it's funny how that feeling of nervous tension gets me wound up tighter than a tick before air, but once the show is underway the nerves just disappear).

The host, Bruce Elliott, asked me to handicap the Maryland governor's race as a closer, and I said the following, more or less: It's going to be tight, and ugly, as we get down the stretch. The state Dems will pull no punches, and will race-bait and name-call as much as possible. Their allies in the press will aid and abet this, going easy on Townsend while parsing every statment Ehrlich has ever made. Ehrlich will respond to the negative campaigning because he has to, but fortunately he'll have the financial war chest to do it. He needs 20% of the black vote, which he can get (he's at about 13% now, and rising). It's obviously too close to call now, but that fact has to worry KKT and her handlers. They've been running not to lose, and they have to start running to win, which means she will have to get out there at some point and answer questions herself instead of letting her numerous spokesmen do it for her.

That will be interesting. Just look at this Kathleen Kennedy Townsend quote regarding the death penalty:

During a recent interview about the death penalty, she said she supported it in part because of what the alternative - life in prison - would mean to prison guards. Asked to explain what she meant, she appeared at a loss.

"Just psychologically. You know you're, um, you're keeping people in, in um, uh, maybe they were, they were condemned to solitary confinement. You know, what do you do, passing food under the door. It just, so, it wasn't, it wasn't, the main purpose wasn't the prison guards. But you think about what happens to them, and you think, these people who had committed a crime really had done bad things," she said.


UPDATE: The Townsend campaign may also have a a legal problem brewing. I find it interesting that the Sun ran this article on a Saturday, considering how important it may turn out to be.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, or is that a spate of referrals coming my way from InstaPundit? Thanks, Glenn.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


the Chrisian Top 1000 list of websites just yesterday or the day before, I'm now going to withdraw from that group and remove the link from my site. Why? I mean, they're Baptists, I'm a Baptist, so what's the deal? They nixed their link to Pray Naked Experience, a great site that more of you should check out. They believe its name could be offensive to some Christians. Ninnies. When I found PNE myself I linked it immediately, not just for the writing but because the title clicked with me. I immediately understood it--naked as in completely exposed before God, hiding nothing. Which, whether we like it or not, is in fact how we stand before God. He doesn't care what we're wearing or what we look like--He sees straight through to the soul, and He sees it all. Therefore PNE is not only clever, it's correct.

So, my quest for world domination won't go through the Christian Top 1000.

Interestingly, the band from which that title comes, The 77s, also got into trouble when they wanted to title one of their cds Pray Naked. Christian bookstores refused to carry it, their label gave them no end of grief, so they ended up not giving the cd a title at all in the Christian market (though they did manage to keep the song "Pray Naked" on it). It turned out to be one of their best cds, both in terms of the quality of the music and production and in its spiritual content as well.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:03 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 09, 2002


: Tomorrow morning, I have a date with Baltimore's WBAL 1090 AM. 9:05 to 9:40 or so, and yes they're on the web (the link goes to their webcast). I'll be on the Bruce Elliott show, which is cool since I listen to him most weekends. He's a solid conservative type and runs a great show. I'm just hoping that doing radio is like riding a bike--you never forget how. I got my media start in radio more than 10 years ago, then moved to TV when I was in the Air Force, but radio is still my first love when it comes to broadcasting.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


: From UPI:

The brawl on the bayou -- Things are not getting any easier for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. She first won election to the Senate in 1996, winning by a margin of less than 6,000 votes in a contest severely tainted by allegations of fraud at the polls. In the ensuing six years, she has worked hard to establish her credentials as a moderate Democrat, often following the lead of the state's senior senator, Democrat John Breaux. Now it looks like she may be in for a heck of a fight come the fall.

When Landrieu's only opponent was GOP U.S. Rep. John Cooksey, most observers believed she was a safe bet for re-election. Then state Rep. Tony Perkins, a Republican best known for authoring the state's covenant marriage law making it harder to get a divorce, joined the race. Elections Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell, also a Republican, is in the race along with the Rev. Raymond Brown, a black community activist running at Landrieu from the left. In a five-way race, Landrieu's re-election is much less certain because all the candidates run on the same ballot in November. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers compete in a December run off. Landrieu supporters and national Democrats, who thought they could breathe easier once state Sen. Cleo Fields -- a black Democrat who is a former member of the U.S. House and who does not get along with Landrieu -- announced he would not join the race, may have spoken too soon. State Sen. Don Cravins, who, like Fields is a black Democrat, said Wednesday that he was considering getting into the race. If he does, it means both the Democrat and Republican votes will split into thirds, making a December runoff all but certain.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has a website. And he's got a whole new series in production.

Posted by B. Preston at 03:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is dissing US Christians--saying we're as dangerous as Islamists. What is this--"It takes one to know one?" And, like all things the Saudis don't like, it all comes back to the Jews:

The paper (Watani) said Christian fundamentalism in the US was particularly dangerous because it was capable of influencing American foreign policy to further its own interests which, the paper added, were identical with Israeli interests in the Middle East.

Losers. Chris over at MCJ has already given this story the proper treatment--Fisking an entire kingdom. They deserve it, and so much more.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Reader and blogger Randy Huey sends along this Steyn gem, about the cure instability may offer the Middle East.

I'm not a Hashemite romantic: When you actually sit down and try and work out why Jordan gets such a good press, it seems to boil down mainly to the Royal Family's taste in hot-looking westernized babes. But, if their good points remain kinda mysterious, it's nevertheless the case that they've got fewer bad points than any of their neighbours. Getting Saddam off the Hashemite windpipe will be the first step in letting the most reformable Arab regime start reforming. Leaving Saddam in power means losing Jordan.

He's right, about Jordan and about the good ridding the world of Saddam will do. And he's right about Frankencanditate--the man just ain't right in the head these days.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Each day I receive an email from our good, dear friends at It's always full of stories about how bad Bush is, how immoral the war is, how our government was complicit in 9-11, how Clinton and Gore are such unfairly maligned characters--it's always entertaining. And I always handle it with rubber gloves, if you know what I mean.

In today's email, the Donkeys link to a story in the Guardian, headlining it "George Bush Is THE Ugly American -- And No Amount of PR Can Change That." But that's not what the story says. The story details America's struggle to explain itself and its intentions to the world, and highlights world opinion of us since 9-11. The only direct references to Bush are 1) that he isn't satisfied with our new PR Czar's efforts thus far to explain American intentions, and that 2) the "Axis of Evil" speech garnered an approving reaction at home while shocking the rest of the world.

The article goes on to argue that the US should try to be more multilateral and so forth, but doesn't make a solid case that America is intrinsically wrong about the war. And it certainly doesn't make the case that Bush is to blame--he's the one trying to put a good face on things, after all. But for, none of that matters. They see a couple of references to Bush, and a reference to the old book The Ugly American, and immediately link the two. What's even worse, the abstract of the original article takes sentences out of context and even out of sequence to make the link look legit.

Here's's analysis of the article:

Martin Woollacott writes: "A generation ago, the best-seller The Ugly American
tried to explain why the US had, through mistaken policies in part, but largely
through arrogance and insensitivity to the feelings of others, alienated those
who might have been its friends in south-east Asia... The US, and to a lesser
extent the west as a whole, once again found themselves in this situation after
September 11... Now, unsatisfied with the results of the effort to remake
America's image, [Bush] has ordered that the campaign be run from the White
House rather than the State Department. The announcement was made on the same
day as... a report saying that America is widely seen as self-absorbed and
contemptuous of others, and, of course, in the same week that military action
against Iraq was being intensely discussed."

I'm not going to go into a line-by-line takedown here, but the part about Bush being unsatisfied opens the fourth paragraph. The reference to The Ugly American is higher up, in the second paragraph, and is part of a discussion of America's ongoing struggle since Vietnam to define its image to the world. When Bush comes in, in that fourth paragraph, it's to change the dynamic and bolster our image. The Ugly American isn't in any way a reference to George W. Bush. And watch for the ellipses...they make thoughts appear to be connected that aren't, unless you take every thought in the article as a jab at Bush, which just isn't the case. is guilty of either sloppy analysis or intentional distortion--you make the call.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Or really, what's old (in blog terms, meaning about five minutes ago) is new again. Lately I've noticed a new site in my referrals, and I kept scratching my head and wondering "What's this blogs4God thing?" Turns out Martin Roth's brainchild--the Big-Time Mecha-Fantastic Christian Bloggers List--has morphed into blogs4God, and it's now a group blog. It's a reall juggernaut--they already have 10,000 hits to boast in a few short days. Check 'em out. If you're nice, they may link you.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The editors of JunkYardBlog have uncovered a sinister plot involving airport screeners--from now on when you board a plane, you're also unwittingly auditioning for Fear Factor.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: It's not just the Enrons and the dot coms that are having trouble getting over from the '90s binge. Art museums, which proliferated and expanded like mushrooms during the last decade, are also feeling the crunch. The long national hangover has only begun, I'm afraid.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Dem Senator Bob "The Torch" Torricelli is locked in a dead heat with his Republican challenger, Douglas Forrester. This could be a good year for the GOP.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Like a bad '70s band that doesn't know when to just go away, al Qeada is apparently massing in Pakistan with the idea of retaking Afghanistan. First, I think it's good that they're massing. Thus far they've been scattered to the wind, making it harder to dent them. En masse, a few well-aimed daisy cutters should do the trick--if we can find them. We need good intel on the ground though, which may be the weakest link.

More worrisome to me, though, is China's possible role. China has been playing both sides of the war since 9-11--publicly standing with us while producing video programs for the home crowd praising the attacks. China has also used terrorism as a pretext to clamp down on dissidents and religious sects like Falun Gong. There have even been rumors that China has sent "observers" into Afghanistan to "advise" the Taliban and al Qeada. The advice, supposing it was given, obvisously wasn't of the highest quality. But contained within the linked story is a hair-raiser--that China may supply anti-air missiles to the terrorists.

Then there's the whole question of what China may do vis a vis Taiwan should we get bogged down in Iraq. I may have more to say on this later, as it's a subject I'm paying particularly close attention to.

One other little tidbit--al Qaeda apparently has a new name--Fateh Islam, which apparently means "Islamic Victory." So if another terrorist group comes along and claims the name "al Qaeda," will the real al Qaeda sue for trademark infringement?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


in our plans for Iraq--they back an Iraqi opposition group that's in Washingon to meet with our government and other opposition groups.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is edging closer to admitting responsibility for Lockerbie. They're even talking about compensating the victims' families.
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has an important adherent: Jordan's Prince Hassan. He wants to be Iraq's next king.
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is "soft on terror"...according to the Russians. Crawford Ranch diplomacy, and common sense, paying off.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 08, 2002


has become very leaky lately. The latest--there is now a war plan on or near the President's desk. This leak seems pretty damaging--outlining the size of the US invasion force, the sequence leading up to invasion.

In the story, UPI quotes a single, unnamed source as describing the plan. The administration needs to hunt down that source, which is probably the same source for many of the other recent leaks, and close them off. This is no time for a lone ranger to be allowed to single-handedly thwart the war effort.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


: At the risk of overexposure to Clintonitis, reader and guest blogger (and heckuva guy) Chris Regan sends along this interesting story about budget projections during Wild Bill's last year in office. That would be 2000, not coincidentally the same year George W. Bush was up against Frankencandidate for the presidency. Is it possible that Clinton's hand-picked political minions in the Commerce Department were systematically misreporting the nation's financial health to help defeat Bush? Here's Bob Novak's lede:

The Commerce Department's painful report last week that the national economy is worse than anticipated obscured the document's startling revelation. Hidden in the morass of statistics, there is proof that the Clinton administration grossly overestimated the strength of the economy leading up to the 2000 election. Did the federal government join Enron and WorldCom in cooking the books?

Through all of President Bill Clinton's last two years in office, the announced level of before-tax profits was at least 10 percent too high--a discrepancy rising close to 30 percent during the last presidential campaign. Most startling, the Commerce Department in 2000 showed the economy on an upswing through most of the election year, while in fact it was declining.

My initial reaction when I read this was something like "Oh my God." Is it possible, did they really do this? If so, the federal government under Clinton was doing exactly what the WorldComs were doing--lying about the balance sheet to keep investors (in this case, the taxpaying public as well as the investor class) happy, hoping that things would eventually work out in their favor. If WorldCom execs go to jail, surely the people at Commerce and whoever was giving the orders should face legal jeopardy too, right? And if you look closely, this allegation is much worse than anything levelled against dishonest corporations. In the case of industry, you had companies and their enabling banks cooking the books to shore up stock prices, presumably in the hope that the company could look strong while in reality riding out a tough period. The purpose was basically to keep the company going, and make money for its shareholders. In the case of Commerce, if books were cooked it was for the purpose of delivering false information to the media, information which would keep the entire stock market bouyed and make the administration look good. Thus, you make it more difficult for Bush to win over Gore. It's just this side of circumventing the election process.

But to think about it for longer than a knee-jerk second, in putting out false forecasts Clinton would have been basically screwing up Frankencandidate's first couple years in office, at least if things went further south like they have under Bush. And they knew that the economy was already tanking in early 2000, though they weren't telling anyone. So the question is, would the Clintonistas have cooked the books anyway?

I think they would have, for the simple reason that it fits a larger pattern of behavior for that gang. The pattern is this--they pursue power, to the disregard of everything else, and will do anything it takes to attain and hold power. They will ignore the growing spectre of international terrorism, shifting the focus instead onto domestic groups that happen to be political critics of theirs. This kept them from having to fight a dangerous, potentially protracted war and got them the bank shot of discrediting opponents like Newt Gingrich. It didn't matter that Americans were dying around the world, and that a demonic terrorist chieftain was emboldened by their impotence. They amassed power, and weakened their political opponents. They will also cover up each other's crimes, violate the Constitution--anything--to keep the power once it's in their hands. Ignoring the sex angle, that's basically what happened in the Lewinsky situation. In this case, it was the transfer of power that they wanted to prevent. So they bragged and bragged about the "robust" economy--and remember, it is the economy, stupid--and used the power that they had over the numbers and stats to try and shift things their way. The evidence is far from conclusive that the errant economic forecasts were created intentionally, but Congress should issue subpoenas for the testimony of all involved.

But you know it won't happen. The Dems control the Senate, and won't even ask for Robert Rubin's testimony though he was a central figure in Citi's relationship with Enron. They don't care about honest government, because it would mean they would have to leave government.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Iraq is trying to drive a wedge between us and the UK, hoping to keep them out of any US-led venture to topple Saddam.

Here's the splashy headline:

Iraq's secret British plea

Apparently, the secret's out. But this story reveals, more than anything else, Iraq's chutzpah. They know what it will take to stop the invasion--let weapons inspectors back in and give them unfettered access to the entire country. That would take the wind out of our sails, immediately, and remove any legal justification we have for going after them. But instead, they think they can split the alliance into a good cop-bad cop pairing, then convince the world (which is all too eager to be convinced) that we're the bad cop.

So why won't Iraq just let the inspectors back in? You don't suppose they have something to hide, do you?

UPDATE: Iraq's secret mission to the UK may be bearing fruit. Is it me, or does Kofi Annan sound bellicose in that story?
Posted by B. Preston at 04:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


OUT of the Iraq war. Unless the UN renews its mandate for weapons inspections, in which case they may get back in.

UPDATE: Dave sends along this item, in which Ireland clarifies its position on the war: No decision has been reached yet. They're waiting to see what the UN will do, and will decide at that time whether to allow US overflight privileges or not. I'm thinking that if the UN green lights the war, Ireland will play ball.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: The ultra-odd band They Might Be Giants (one of my favorites of the past few years, actually) has released a kids album and appeared at a Sandanista rally. Bummer about the rally, but they still made some great music once upon a time. Might have to pick up that kid disc too. Hey, I have a young un' to entertain.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


a fairly overheated troll in the comments section, so I'm removing it for a while. I hate to do that, but sometimes giving people the ability to publish on your site just invites trouble. I'm hoping the guy will just calm down, realize that he's being uncivilized, and go away. I'll probably put the comments back up eventually. In the mean time, my email address is to the left. If you have anything to say to me, just use that. Or use your own site.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, blaming Saudi Arabia for being a terrorist nation. That's not my opinion of course, it's Saudi Arabia's opinion.

I guess they didn't like that Pentagon briefing much, did they. Well, we didn't like 9-11 much.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 01:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, currently visiting family in Japan, gave me a distressing report tonight. It seems that, in Japan, President Bush is viewed as a war monger, a bad man, a villian, by a majority of Japanese. They think America is caught up in bloodlust and beyond reasoning with. They won't support a war with Iraq.

Now, to be honest Japanese support wouldn't have amounted to much anyway. Their military is one of the more modern in East Asia, but that isn't saying much, and Japan's constitution only allows for a military that's purely defensive--no expeditionary forces. And at least part of Japan's current anti-war attitude is tracable directly to World War II. Since losing that conflict, Japan has been one of the most anti-war nations on earth. It isn't difficult to see why--two nukes, two flattened cities, humiliation on a global scale. No one would want a repeat of that.

But Japan's friendship is important to us, so part of me wishes I could go there and explain to them why most Americans think the way we do. Notice I said think, not feel--the pro-war side isn't all wrapped up in feelings. We're very rational about the coming war, and only see it as a necessary evil to stave off a still greater evil--Saddam, and therefore terrorists, with weapons of mass destruction arrayed against ourselves and our allies. That's intolerable--in the zero sum game that the Islamists have started, only one side will be left standing at the end. We aim to see that that's our side.

But I do wish I could sit down and explain to them what it's like to be attacked time and time again, over the span of nearly a decade, and to have had leaders who were impotent and feckless in the face of it. I'd like to let them experience the horror of 9-11 up close the way we did, without them actually having to experience it, because I wouldn't wish that terrible day on anyone. But the experience would be a great teacher, and would show them a dark future if we don't act now.

In the mid-90s, Japan was a nation gripped with fear. Aum Shinri Kyo, a doomsday cult led by an oddball fanatic, let loose sarin gas in one of Tokyo's busiest subway stations. The poison killed a couple dozen, injured hundreds and shattered Japan's self-image as earth's safest nation. Japan then embarked on a manhunt, tracking down and apprehending each and every one of Aum's top leaders. When the police finally arrested Shoko Asahara, the cult's leader, the nation heaved a sigh of relief.

America hasn't caught our Shoko yet. He's either dead or hiding, and if he's hiding he's planning more mayhem. Regardless, unlike Aum our terror nemesis has an ally in Baghdad who's even more dangerous. Why can't Japan just understand--we have to do what they did. We have to hunt down the misfits, take away their power over others, stop their plans for murder, deny them their bases, crush them before they kill again.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


whether I really, deep down, think Bob Ehrlich has a shot to knock off Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in this fall's race to become Maryland's next governor. Honestly, had you asked me the same question a couple of months ago I'd have said no. But times have changed, and I think he has more than a shot at winning. I really think he can win.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy. Once the primaries are done, he'll be sqared off not just against Townsend but against the state's formiddable Democrat machine, the state's screwy election law which practically invites voter fraud, and the historical baggage of being a Republican in Maryland. No, I'm not making Olesker's point for him--but being a real Republican in Maryland isn't exactly a healthy thing, politically speaking. We're practically an endangered species around here, outnumbered in registration 2 to 1. As for the state's election law, check this out--it's illegal for poll officials to ask voters for any form of ID. Can't do it. All they can do is ask who you are and where you live--anything more is considered intimidation under state law. Which means that people can go from precinct to precinct and vote to their heart's content as long as they give the right address for the right name at the right poll. Yes, Virginia, the dead can and do vote in the state of Maryland. On WBAL the other day, Baltimore City's top voting official (I can't remember the gentleman's name) admitted that such a scheme invites fraud. I heard it with my own ears. But will the law be changed? Not bloody likely.

And once the nominations are in hand, we can expect an avalanche of Democrat attack ads comparing Ehrlich to Newt Gingrich (which would just solidify my vote), to Darth Vader, to Ghenghis Khan, Attilla the Hun, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Satan and that recording you get on the phone that says "Congratulations! You're qualified for the Visa card from Dipstick Bank in Des Moines, Idaho!" It's gonna get ugly this fall, and uglier still if Townsend can't get those polls turned around. The Dems will, in the words of the Gladiator, "unleash hell."

So if Ehrlich's up against all that, why do I still think he can win? Because something's just in the air right now. He's collecting roughly $40,000 per day in contributions. With that treasure chest he'll be able to deflect many of those attack ads that are sure to come from the Democrats, the NAACP, the Girl Scouts and every other group with an axe to grind. He's also very good at articulating his positions--he's sharp enough to take on Baltimore's call-in talk shows regularly, and never shies away from tough questions. Townsend, by contrast, gets flustered when a reporter asks her name in a tightly scripted interview. To date, she has "articulated" roughly 47 issues that will be her "highest priority as governor," without ever once actually stating what she'd do about any of those issues. The personality contrast really couldn't be more stark. And, as much as I hate to say it, Ehrlich is just moderate enough to throw mods and libs a couple of bones. Yes, he's strongly in favor of the Second Amendment which keeps us conservatives happy, but for the moderates out there he's pro-choice on abortion. I don't like that, but let's face it--Townsend's pro-choice too, and anti-gun too boot, and apparently a stealth death penalty opponent. And she's got the Glendenning taint--the man's done a few unsavory things during his two terms in office and has made more than a few enemies in his own party. Those enemies may, just this once, stray from the yellow dogs and go for the pachyderm.

The race is by no means a lock, but Bob Ehrlich can beat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. If he does, he will shock the political world.

CORRECTION: I noted in the NRO piece that Michael Steele, Bob Ehrlich's running mate, is the first African-American to run for Lt Gov in Maryland as a Republican. A reader has informed me that he's the third.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2002


: Man, I hope they're as effective as they sound.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, one day early. The kind folks at National Review have just posted my take on this fall's Maryland governor's race. Yes, a conservative Republican congressman *might* just beat a real, live Kennedy--in yellow-dog Democrat territory.

UPDATE: For those of you within shouting distance of Baltimore, I've been invited for a guest spot on WBAL, the city's dominant talk station, to talk about the NRO piece and the MD gov's race. Currently I'm looking at a Saturday morning, 9:05 slot on the Bruce Elliott show. I haven't done any radio stateside since 1993, though I did do quite a bit my last year in Japan. Should be fun.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


that the Palestinian unrest is directly tied to al Qaeda's battlefield defeat last year. Hamas seems to be acting as the West Bank branch of bin Laden's terrorist network. Which means there can be no solution to the Palestinian situation until state sponsors like Iraq, and the international terror network, have been dismantled. Those who say the Palestinians must come first have it exactly backward.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


takes a drubbing from Canada's National Post. The Post has it right--Amnesty was a great organization that has frittered away its goodwill capital on useless rabbit hunts in the First World.

I once was a proud supporter of Amnesty and its effort to go after political gulags and thuggish dictators. Not anymore.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


at Time Magazine. If Time is running stories criticial of the Saudis, they are in deep trouble here in the US.

Further, it looks like the "Saudi street" will only make things worse for the medieval kingdom's despots:

But while Saudis remain uninterested—or perhaps they're in a state of denial—in the level of Saudi participation in Sept. 11, the country seethes with open loathing for the U.S. and sympathy for bin Laden's cause. Signs of anti-Western militancy are rife throughout this vast kingdom, from the capital, Riyadh—where in June separate car bombs blew up a British banker outside his home and nearly killed an American expatriate—to Abha, a remote mountain city in the southern province of Asir, where four of the hijackers were raised and locals still celebrate all "the Fifteen," as the group is called. "Their friends are really proud of them," says Ghazi al Gamdhi, 22, a university student. "They think the Fifteen were protecting Islam. Most of the guys here want to become heroes protecting Islam."
Posted by B. Preston at 07:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 06, 2002


, targeting internet service providers. The government watched the attack after getting a tip from Europe that it was coming. It was pretty pathetic as net attacks go, taking out no web sites or servers. It was probably little more than a security test--a prep for a worse attack in the future, if the attackers can manage it.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, the Palestinians have started mixing poisons into their suicide bombs. In other words, they've started the bio-chem war without Saddam.

Their weapon of choice seems to be rat poison. Other agents may be in use as well:

Rat poison was also reportedly used in the June 17 suicide bombing at a bus stop in the annexed Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Dr. Avi Rivkind of Ein Karem Hadassah Hospital told a number of media outlets that the poison was an anti-coagulant that caused survivors to bleed uncontrollably from their wounds.

And in the July issue of the Israel Medical Association Journal , an Israeli doctor warned that survivors of suicide bombings may risk infection from blood-borne diseases.

After treating the survivors of one recent suicide bombing, Dr. Itzhak Braverman and his staff believe that flying bone fragments from the bomber infected one woman with hepatitis B. The woman was promptly treated.

While it seems likely that rat poison isn't strong enough to have much of an actual effect, it's just one more indication of the real savagery the Palestinians are willing to employ in their jihad.

Imagine if we let Saddam hang on another year or two, to the point where he can reliably deliver real bio-chem weapons to his surrogates in the West Bank. They will use them, and Israel will be forced into an even more dangerous position than the one it's already in.

UPDATE: A reader passes along two Slate stories about the rat bombs, which are here and here. The stories investigate whether such laced bombs exist, and if so how effective would the poison be. They note, as did I in the original post, that the rat poisons aren't likely to do much harm--the blast is probably enough to incinerate it to ineffectiveness. Curiously, though, Slate does note that because it wouldn't be effective, logic argues against using rat poison in bombs. My problem with that is that the same can be said about the entire regime of suicide bombings. It's a strategy that ain't working for them, yet the Palestinians quite illogically keep on doing it. If the terrorists, not being scientists for the most part, thought adding a poison to their bombs would kill more Israelis, I see nothing that would stop them from doing it. Recall a few months back, Al Qaeda ops tried to buy some nuclear material in one of the former Soviet republics, though the material turned out to be the non-bomb variety. They simply didn't know the difference.

As to the larger question of whether the Palestinians are lacing their bombs with poisons, the case is unproven one way or the other. There are anecdotal stories but little or no empirical evidence. Then again, if the bombs incinerate the stuff, there wouldn't be much evidence laying around anyway.

Slate's done a good job of fact-checking the other media's hindquarters. Their twin stories on the subject are worth reading for that alone.
Posted by B. Preston at 07:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Germany's left-center parties have declared themselves out of war against Iraq.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: A recent hunt for the one-eyed wonder nut Mullah Omar ended up netting his brother-in-law, who goes by the name Noorullah.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: InstaPundit's Washington Post mole was right--the Bush administration seems to be open to viewing Saudi Arabia as an adversarial power in the Middle East. This is significant for a number of reasons, not least of which is the historic closeness between the Bush family and the House of Saud.

Of course, too much can be made of such ties. Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm and Russia's Czar Nicholas II were first cousins and close friends, yet World War I found them on opposite sides.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


on the Clintonistas and their alleged "plan" to get bin Laden. The NY Post absolutely roasts 'em:

Here's the plan:

First, Osama was to be taken out with cruise missiles - but only if the CIA could locate him.

Which the CIA couldn't.

Then there was a scheme whereby ground forces were to be deployed against the terrorist chieftain - but implementation was opposed by Clinton's hand-picked Joint Chiefs of Staff, on military grounds, and then vetoed by Clinton himself, for political reasons.

There you have it: The Plan.

Which was waiting for Bush when he took office.

Or, as one Clinton official complained to the magazine, "We didn't do diddly."

That part, at least, is all too true.

Their boy did some diddling, but didnt' do diddly about terrorism. That about sums it up.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 05, 2002

No Title

LIFE IS GOOD: Houston has a team again. Madden mans the booth on Monday night. Melissa stalks the sidelines.

Football is back.

UPDATE: Watching Channel 2 news here in Baltimore, a wrap-up of the Texans' loss to the Giants. The reporter talked about the new team, Madden, the game, then cut to a shot of Melissa Stark for no apparent reason, just to be able to say that she's "dressing up the sidelines." Nice work.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


left over from the lost week in Kansas, I came across one from some guy at a site called The Law Party. First off, I can't stand 99% of lawyers (bloglawyers are, for the most part, cool though). They're ambulance-chasing, murderer-defending, money-grubbing scum. If you're a lawyer, chances are I don't like you, and calling yourself "The Law Party" doesn't make you a lawyer but doesn't make you likeable either. Have I made myself clear? In the email Jeff says he wants an investigation of Bush/Cheney, and wants my help. He obviously doesn't know who he's dealing with here does he. Here's his email to me, which I suspect a lot of other bloggers received too:


We need an Independent Investigation of the Entire Bush/Cheney Clan. Please join us in demanding it.

Thanks for your time.


Thanks for wasting my time, Jeff. Here's my response to him:


You obviously haven't read my blog or you wouldn't be asking for my help. Spamming me will get you nowhere, especially spam that royally ticks me off. I see the whole push to investigate Bush/Cheney as a purely partisan effort to chip away at their popularity as we get into election season. It's a waste of time, and as it weakens the administration while we turn toward the most dangerous phase of the war, it's a noxious and terrible thing that the Democrats are doing. You won't have my support--you have my opposition.


UPDATE: I've now perused his site. It's a doozy--idiotarian from the word go.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, and chess king Garry Kasparov says taking out Saddam should precede any attempt to get a solution in the West Bank and Gaza. And far from being a pessimist, Kasparov sees a winnable war on the horizon:

As in the 1930s, every delay in prosecuting this war will raise the price of victory, not just in terms of lives lost in the Palestinian conflict, but also of Westerners who will be targeted. Conventional wisdom says that victory against terrorists will require decades. I don't believe it will take anywhere near that long.

He's right about the whole shootin' match. I don't often say this, but you should really read the whole thing. It reads the way he'd probably play chess against the likes of me--swift, artful, and in the end totally convincing. Let's get Kasparov a slot on the war planning team.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Al Gore sounds more and more like the loons at every day. "Political Deception, people vs the powerful," yada yada yada. Ramesh Ponnuru happily shreds Frankencandidate's latest op-ed.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Man, I hope this is true.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Listen and believe...they don't stand a chance against such fearsome technology.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


is losing his battle for reputation rehabilitation. Former Clintonistas are expressing regret that their 8 years in power were wasted while the boss chased more tail than terrorists:

"Clearly, not enough was done," said Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. "We should have caught this. Why this happened, I don't know. Responsibilities were given out. Resources were given. Authorities existed. We should have prevented this."

Said Nancy Soderberg, a former senior aide in Clinton's National Security Council, "In hindsight, it wasn't enough, and anyone involved in policy would have to admit that."

"Anyone involved in policy..." You don't suppose she's talking about her former boss, Mr. Berger, do you? Nah, couldn't be. He's an action hero, fearlessly ripping terror networks root and branch. Or at least talking about it. Or...something.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 10:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Bryan's back in the saddle, and will soon be going full speed. I appreciate the guest blogging opportunity and the report that it worked out well. Hey, if the word gets out, maybe it will start a trend. I'm not sure if I'll be striking out on my own just yet, but keep an eye out here for an announcement. Otherwise, I'll still be providing story tips and comments for the JunkYard. Thanks all for reading and supporting me this week. If anyone wants to contact me, you can do that right here.

Posted by Chris Regan at 04:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


William Safire has so many good contacts in the intelligence community that he's decided to hand out Golden Cloak and Daggers. He has some especially interesting info on Syria, while Iran takes top prize:

Syria, say members of the peer-review panel, is runner-up for the Golden Cloak & Dagger for its post-Sept.-11 strategic coup. Damascus is said to have made a deal with the C.I.A.: We'll help you track down Al Qaeda, saving American lives, if you don't give us a hard time on Hezbollah based in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, which costs only Israeli lives. As a result, even though the U.S. solemnly tut-tuts at active Syrian support of these terrorists, Syria was not included in President Bush's "axis of evil."

This unverified account goes further: in return for a promise of secret U.S. use of Syrian territory near Iraq in the next attack on Saddam Hussein, as took place when Syria joined the allied coalition in Gulf War I, the U.S. has turned a blind eye to Syria's payment in oil from Iraq for being the conduit of Russian replacement parts for Saddam's aging MIG-29 planes and T-62 tanks. Practitioners of espionage everywhere salute Bashar al-Assad. The eye doctor, who succeeded his father as dictator, is taking excellent instruction in duplicity from his experienced spymaster.

Push the envelope, please:

The non-judgmental Golden Cloak & Dagger Award this year goes to Iran, guardian of the heritage of takia, "the need to conceal," for sponsorship of its covert arm, Hezbollah, now spreading throughout the Shiite diaspora worldwide, from Lebanon to Indonesia. While Al Qaeda gets the publicity as designated global villain, the quietly metastasizing cells of Iran's Hezbollah get the intelligence insiders' acclaim.

UPDATE: Instapundit had a backup for Safire's Syria-Iraq arms supply comment. This from a wild post about some U.S. Marine who seems to love Syria and hate Jews.
Posted by Chris Regan at 03:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


into US arms merchants with ties to bin Laden, the Taliban, and Pakistan's ISI was broadcast by Dateline NBC this week after they ran a nice Flight 93 exclusive last week. Sure beats those unwatchable murder-of-the-week stories they always seem to do. Hopefully they'll continue the real journalism. Anyhow, if you missed it, it's wild stuff that reads like a movie script. MSNBC never provides readers the convenience of a print-formatted version, but at least it's online and you can still print it or just read it here: the middle of a crowded New York restaurant, Glass says the talk turned to something much more ominous: components for nuclear weapons, triggering devices and plutonium. ...“They would tell me: ‘The people that I’m dealing with, they have to have the heavy water,’” says Stoltz. And unless they got it, Stoltz was told the deal was off. That was a deal breaker. “That was a deal breaker,” says Stoltz. “They were flexible maybe on military parts for airplanes or small arms or maybe even Stingers, but they always came back to square one. Heavy water.” For nuclear weapons? “Correct,” says Stoltz. And that wasn’t all the arms dealers wanted. “Dateline” has learned that Mike Malik gave the undercover agents a list of radioactive chemicals that could be used to make a so-called dirty bomb.

...But remarkably — even though they were apparently willing to supply America’s enemies with sophisticated weapons — even nuclear weapons technology — Mohsen was sentenced to just 30 months in prison. And Malik? Mysteriously, his sentence remains under seal. And he appears to be a free man as “Dateline” saw recently when we visited him at his New Jersey convenience store.

...So Stoltz thought that he was on to something so big that ultimately FBI, perhaps CIA might take over? “Oh, FBI at the minimum,” says Stoltz. Could it be that serious leads from this case have been overlooked by authorities? William Wechsler, at the time one of President Clinton’s top counterterrorism advisers, says he too is puzzled that law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Washington apparently didn’t make this case more of a priority. ...We laid all this out for Congressman Ben Gilman, who received the original intelligence report about Dr. Elamir and his brother Mohamed. And we played him excerpts from the undercover tapes. In 1998, the El Amirs are mentioned in this intelligence report. “Yes,” says Congressman Gilman. They are mentioned as supporting Osama bin Laden. In 1999, Mohammed El Amir is caught on tape trying to do a weapons deal. “Is he still-” asks Gilman. Free. “I’m going to personally pursue that and find out why,” says Gilman.

Weren't we just hearing how serious the Clinton administration was about bin Laden? Yeah, right.
Posted by Chris Regan at 02:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


The Greek terrorist group that has been a constant source of shame for their weak-willed government is hoping to stay around long enough to disrupt the Olympics in 2004. On the other hand, the government now has to get serious to prevent their embarrassment from becoming international in scope. Now, almost by accident, they're finally doing something about the group and have sent it reeling since June 30. Their founder and leader was jailed and as this article today reports:

For 27 years, not a single member of November 17, Greece's home-grown assassins, had been caught. Then a bomb went off too early, and the injured bomber began to talk. Suddenly, after a shocking month that has become a turning point for Greece, the bulk of the organization, the Greek government insists, is now behind bars.

However, the remaining members allegedly replied with new threats in a five-page proclamation -- assuring the public the report of their death was an exaggeration. Then some explosives were ominously found buried near an Olympic venue, and an armory was tunneled into. The Greek government said there's no proof that either the weapons robbery, explosives cache, or letter originated with the terrorists. Hmmm...sounds like a familiar refrain.
Posted by Chris Regan at 01:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: An Iraqi opposition leader has announced that it does in fact have advanced WMDs, and is getting ready to use them against US and Israeli targets.

So what are we waiting for?
Posted by B. Preston at 11:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: That's the basic thrust of this article. You may recall, Sandy Berger was President Clinton's national security advisor, a post that leaves him in a particularly harsh glare in the post 9-11 world. After all, it was largely Berger's job to define and characterize threats, and to come up with plans to counter them. In this responsibility he failed--the al Qaeda threat was never really taken as seriously as it warranted. It's to some extent understandable, because though some government planners had hinted at the possibility of a major attack occuring, even on 9-10 it still seemed far-fetched. But, understandable though it may be to us laymen, it's not so understandable to the spooks and assorted personnel who make up the national security aparatus. To them, 9-11 is a failure that stretches back several years, and begins with Berger's failure to grasp the threat and get his boss to agree to take it on. So Berger needs rehabilitation, and Time is where he seeks it.

It's apparent that Berger himself is the source for much of the linked article's assertions, which are that 1) the Clinton administration drafted a plan to destroy al Qaeda which they delivered to the Bush team during the transition; that 2) the Bush team then ignored that plan until 9-11; and that 3) that plan became the blueprint for the actions the Bush administration would take on October 2001, which led to the battlefield defeat of the Taliban and the scattering of al Qeada--possibly to the death of bin Laden himself. All of this the Bush team denies--there was no concrete plan calling for al Qeada's destruction. There was a vague outline aimed at "rolling back" the terror group, but even it only called for a type of containment.

Why is Berger behind it? He has the most to gain, and in this article he gains a lot if you read between the lines. Not only is he not depicted as sleeping on the job, but he's one of just a handful who really understands the attacks to come. He's also one of the few who wants to do something about it--he wants to go further than Clinton, send in the special forces to seek and destroy Usama bin Laden. And, reading between the lines, Berger is responsible for the brilliant battle plan the Bush team used in October to defeat the Taliban. That assertion is here:

(National Security specialist Richard) Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost "several hundreds of millions of dollars." In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11."

The context here is that Clarke is allegedly briefing incoming National Security advisor Condi Rice on Berger's anti-terror ideas. Note that by including the Bush team official's quote, the article seems to be suggesting that the Bush team acknowledges that Berger planned the whole thing. That's at best misleading--the Bush official was likely just confirming that Berger is claiming to have planned everything that's been done since 9-11, not that Berger did in fact plan it all.

There's more, and it's in its own way insulting to the very idea of democracy:

No other great power handles the transition from one government to another in so shambolic a way as the U.S.-new appointments take months to be confirmed by the Senate; incoming Administrations tinker with even the most sensible of existing policies. The fight against terrorism was one of the casualties of the transition, as Washington spent eight months going over and over a document whose outline had long been clear. "If we hadn't had a transition," says a senior Clinton Administration official, "probably in late October or early November 2000, we would have had (the plan to go on the offensive) as a presidential directive."

In other words, if that guy Bush hadn't been elected and bringing in his own people, we could've just handed the plans over to Al Gore and he'd have taken care of business. It bears repeating that Berger et al had been in power for years, and knew that al Qaeda had been behind at least the African embassy bombings. They also knew that bin Laden had been arming our enemies in Somalia, and that he'd probably been behind the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. Yet they blame the transition of power for halting plans to get bin Laden? It's incredible, really, what these people will stoop to in order to avoid responsibility.

There are quite a few problems with this story, and they're disturbing. Why, now, are Clinton officials coming forward to claim that they had a plan in place to topple al Qaeda, a plan that was ignored by the Bush team until it was too late? I see two motives--to halt critics who see them as having failed in their responsibility to protect the nation, and to damage the Bush team. Note in the story that they're not criticizing Bush himself--he's portrayed as understanding the threat very well. But Condi Rice is portrayed as not really grasping the threat, SecDef Rumsfeld is seen to be obsessed with national missile defense, and Attorney General Ashcroft gets an unusually light treatment--he's just shown as being anti-crime, though not mindful of terrorism. So the team is essentially divided here, with Bush depending on a fractured group for his intelligence briefings. That's one component of the damage this story does--it portrays the national security team as divided. This story also makes the hawkish Bush team look like doves when compared to Berger and his team, thereby seeking to turn the blame game from them and back on the Bush admin. As a bonus, it gives credit for the Bush team's battlefield victory to the Clinton team, thereby leaving the Bush team with none of the benefits and all of the blame. Now that's what I call "spin."

Understandably, the Bush team denies Berger's version of events.

UPDATE: NewsMax remembers events differently, too. Or at least Bill Clinton's version of events differs significantly from Berger's.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 04, 2002


: With mounting evidence that Usama bin Laden is dead, it seems that his son Saad may be in line to take over al Qaeda. The old world policy of eradicating an enemy's family, down to the last son, is starting to look more attractive.

This also points out one thing that many, including many prominent Dems, don't seem to get: bin Laden is only part of the problem. Personalizing the war, making it about him, is a huge mistake, in that killing him can lead to false conclusions that you've won the war. Not killing him, or not having the proof, leads to speculation that you're losing the war. We hear such silliness from Al Gore almost on a daily basis now, and it's just such a misunderstanding of strategy that led directly to the debacle in Somalia and the failure, across several years, to truly comprehend the nature of the Islamofascist threat. Somalia was personalized into a contest between the US and a local warlord scum named Muhammed Farah Aidid--the day depicted in Black Hawk Down was a failed raid on Aidid's forces--and that personalization in part led to the disaster (the administration's refusal to send in adequate armor also played a major role). Last I heard, Aidid is still running around Mogadishu, strutting that he defied the United States with impunity.

Given the chance, a President Al Gore will personalize this current war and will therefore miss the real threats, which come not only from the larger terror network but from states like Iraq, Iran and Syria as well. In short, he'll lose the war while hunting down the one or two most notorious men behind it. Don't take my word for it--just review the 8 years of his time as VP. We're fighting a war now because his administration wasn't willing to fight it then.

Our current president gets this. That's why we're going after Iraq, and why we'll likely break a few other Middle Eastern eggs along the way.

UPDATE: I should've done my homework--a reader informs me that Aidid died in 1996. So though he only strutted for three years after we left, Somalia still represents a serious disaster for the US, and set the stage for the war we're fighting today.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


. And first, I'd like to thank Chris Regan for making the JYB worth reading in my absence. Thanks, Chris. He has another couple or three posts in him before I officially start posting again in a day or two, so you'll still have his fine work with you for a while.

I won't be posting for another day or two because I'm in a very typical blog funk. Every time I spend a few days away from it, it's tough to get back into the swing of things. Blogging is, more than anything else, a habit--when I'm on a long stretch of uninterrupted blogging it just becomes natural to write up a quick post about whatever I run across. A few days away breaks the habit, and I invariably question whether I want to resume the behavior that leads to loss of sleep, virtual chest-pounding, occassional bloviating, obsessive stat-watching, and constant scouring for that gem of an idea that turns into a decent post. I question whether or not the habit is best left broken.

But I always get back in before long. The siren's call of getting another story right, sniffing out another idiotarian or terror-linked group, is enough to get me back in the game.

So why was I in Kansas in the first place? I was there to attend the International Planetarium Society conference, which is the bi-annual meeting of planetarians (that's the name for people who run planetariums, or create shows for them, or develop technology for them). They're an interesting group, made up of scientists, teachers, writers, effects types and assorted others who, for one reason or another, have decided to make edutainment and project it onto a dome. They're also an eclectic bunch, ranging from the very hi-tech development groups like Sky-Scan and Evans & Sutherland to the very low-tech school and community planetariums. But they all have one thing in common, which is that they work harder than just about any other group I've ever seen, often for little or no money, to produce shows that they hope the public will appreciate. It's a community I'm not all that familiar with, but will become more familiar soon, as my occupation has morphed into this area recently. I'll be a NASA liaison to the planetarium and museum world, and after last week I think it's going to be a fun gig.

As one of my first acts in this role, I'd like to encourage everyone who reads this blog to check out a planetarium show in your area. If you haven't seen one lately, you might be surprised just how far they've come. If you live in New York or Chicago particularly, your local planetariums offer shows that rival anything Hollywood can produce, and at a much higher IQ than Hollywood would dare. These larger houses have all-dome video shows with surround sound, meaning the fare is far more immersive than any movie, and is often projected on screens that dwarf IMAX. It's cool stuff--great eye candy and a little info to make you feel smart. The smaller houses also have quite a bit to offer, usually locally-produced shows that tie your community with whatever science story they've decided to tell. Not all of the larger shows are in the larger towns, by the way. The conference was in Wichita, Kansas, home to the Exploration Place, which has a 60-foot dome screen and is capable of showing the top planetarium offerings. So check out your local planetarium when you get the chance.

But enough of being nice. This is the JunkYardBlog, after all, so I'll resume biting anyone that slips over the fence before you know it.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


William Safire was right all along. Mohamed Atta met in Prague with Iraqi contacts. Three months ago Safire said the anonymous FBI and CIA denials were a bogus misdirection play. Now, the recent White House rebuffing of those denials highlights how this broiling Iraq policy war is stalling our war on terror. The Commander-in-Chief is being forced to fight an unnecessary public battle with hostile anonymous leakers in his Pentagon, FBI, CIA, and of course Congress.

Even though the President uniquely sees the big picture in the war, the media reduces him to just "one opinion among many." He's fighting certain people who want to push their separate agendas and obscure past mistakes from scrutiny, all with the help of allies in the media. Some leaked information is true, some is false, most in-between. But all of it alarmingly helps Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda at the expense of America's war effort. After people leak, more demands fall on the White House to clean up the mess. They have to explain it, and generally provide more details than we feel safe about disclosing publicly, all to satisfy the media's need for legal proof. Meanwhile, everybody must now spend time investigating each other instead of terror leads.

This is a great example of how most leaked information tends to hurt our cause by creating internal political confusion and military paralysis. That's why we've officially decided that either honesty or silence is the best policy, and don't want to see informally disseminated half-truths. We may occasionally try to lie about detailed troop movements or war plans. That's expected. In fact we probably don't lie enough about tactical operations. But to strategically misdirect the enemy I suppose we would probably have to isolate the leakers first, let them think they were still trusted insiders, then feed them the disinformation to pass on. Otherwise, they would also reveal to the media our strategy to deceive. So not only would it fail, but we would lose credibility. When I touched on this topic before I forgot the NY Times already did a harmful exposé like that earlier this year. For more on this topic, check out the Center For Security Policy's 'Who's ‘Disinforming' Who?" and feel free to comment below.

And here's some new details on the fascinating Prague story for those more interested in that subject specifically.

Posted by Chris Regan at 11:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack