September 21, 2002


: Iraq sits atop the world's second-largest known oil reserve. But, oil is also plentiful in Russia, Mexico, Venezuela and Africa. Canada has lots of oil too, and their prime minister has been a bit of a putz lately. Why aren't we invading any of these places, if the coming war in the Persian Gulf is all about oil? I think President Bush should re-think invading Iraq and concentrate on the low-hanging oil, I mean fruit. Iraq's much too complicated an operation, and entirely unneccessary, with so many other potential targets around.

Mexico in particular could be made into a convenient target almost overnight if President Bush really wanted to. After all, Mexican President Vincente Fox has all but declared an invasion on the American Southwest, in the form of encouraging illegal immigration. And, Fox has repeatedly claimed to be the leader not only of Mexico, but of all Americans of Mexican descent. In recent polls, a majority of Mexicans said that they believed that the former Mexican territories of the southewest--Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California--should be returned to Mexican rule. Heck, Mexican troops have even reportedly stepped across the border a few times in the past year. They claimed that they were chasing illegal immigrants and drug traffickers, but we're on to them--they were really probing our border security to see where we're weakest. And don't get me started on the flow of illegal drugs coming our way through Mexico. Couldn't that be turned into a "clear and present danger," warranting invasion, if we really felt like it? We've been fighting a "war on drugs" for years. We could merge it with the "war on terror," claim to have spotted an al Qaeda base in the Mexican jungles manufacturing crack cocaine, and giddyup. It's time to head for the border, boys. We could say we've seen Usama himself there, and turn him into Pancho Villa redux.

Mexico would also make an easier place to invade. Its military is antiquated, while ours is the most advanced around. Lots of our top-notch bases are conveniently located in the former Mexican territories which are now states in the American union, so a good portion of our military is already within striking distance. Heck, most of our aircrews could lift off at a leisurely 9 am, drop a few thousand pounds of laser-guided ordance, and have dinner with the missus most nights. Our ground troops could roll straight across to Puerto Valerta and set up the theatre command there--the generals would all love that. Imagine the chicks our single troops could pick up with lines like "Hey baby, I bombed an enemy training camp today, but I saved my biggest weapon for you." We'd have no worries about troop morale. Invading our own neighbor negates the need to dither around with fickle regional states like those surrounding Iraq. Since Mexico doesn't have any long-range weapons, an invasion wouldn't pose a threat to Israel (I just threw that in to please the all-powerful Zionist lobby--gotta keep them happy). Mexico doesn't have any bio-chem weapons, so we don't have to worry that our troops will get gassed. The food may give them gas, but they won't get gassed. When you add it all up, invading Mexico would be much more of a cake-walk than Iraq. It would make more sense, it would be far less complicated logistically, and we wouldn't have to kowtow to any tinpot despot in Riyadh. Besides, it's not as though we've never invaded Mexico before.

So what are we waiting for? Since the whole dang war is all about oil anyway, let's just forget about Iraq. First we should invade Mexico, then we'll take out Venezuela (they've been acting bellicose lately too, better pre-empt them while we can), and then work out a re-colonization plan for Africa. Canada--well, we've been stealing their best comics and actors for years without much of a fuss. They won't put up a fight when we move in to take their oil, so we can pretty much consider that one done. The United States will finally achieve the Manifest Destiny, from the Canadian arctic to the Mexican jungles. Every great civilization needs pyramids--after taking Mexico, we'll have some of them too, gracing our new United States of North America. As for Russia, it can't get to its oil without us, so we can leave them alone for now. For now...but if Putin gets uppity, he's toast. As for a pre-text...hhmmm. We bought Alaska from Russia--we could say that we found a clause in the treaty that gives us mineral rights from Anchorage to Moscow, and we aim to claim it. The Bering Strait becomes an ice bridge during most winters--that'll make it easier to get our armor over there. And since Japan has been at war with the Russians since 1945, we could promise them the Kuril Islands and they'll be on board. It'll have the veneer of multi-lateralism that's sure to get Tom Daschle's approval.

Come to think of it, either President Bush is really dumb to invade such a far-flung place like Iraq when he could just annex a couple of our neighbors, or the conflict with Iraq really isn't about oil at all. There must be something else to it.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 20, 2002


: No charges filed in the case of the astronaut versus the crackpot.

I have to say, and maybe I'm showing my pro-NASA bias here, but this whole moon hoax thing is such nonsense. There were hundreds of thousands of people involved in that mission, ranging from the lowest little techie to the astronauts themselves and right on up the chain to the president, who would have had to willingly engage in a massive coverup and then kept it secret for decades. And some of those involved had no reason at all to help out--I saw an interview with a black NASA engineer from the period who described some of the racial incidents that he witnessed during those days. He concluded that if NASA was lying, he'd be the first to rat on them, because he was still mad at some of the stuff that went on.

As for the Aldrin incident--a snotty reporter ambushed Buzz and tried to force him to swear on a Bible that he'd really been to the moon--it's clear that the reporter's intent was to goad Aldrin into doing something dramatic.

In a prepared statement Friday, Ratinoff said the videotape showed (crackpot reporter Bart) Sibrel following Aldrin on the street and "thrusting" a Bible at the retired astronaut, while others tried to "protect" Aldrin as he walked away from Sibrel. She said the video showed Aldrin punching Sibrel in the face.

"Sibrel immediately turns to the camera crew present and appears to twice state, 'Did you get that?'" said the prosecutor.

According to the release, Sibrel did not appear to be knocked down, sustained no visible injury and did not seek medical attention. Aldrin has no prior history of criminal arrest.

This idiot Sibrel showed part of his tape on Fox the other night, including the section that he says proves that the astronauts were faking photo ops to make it look like they were getting closer to the moon and further from earth. It was probably the lamest "smoking gun" I've ever seen--all it proved was that Sibrel is a charlatan and that he hopes the public is gullible.

He may be right about that, but he's wrong about the moon missions. I hope Buzz, or maybe Neil Armstrong or another moonwalker, gets another shot at him.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


is back and posting again. You almost missed the war, dude.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Usama bin Laden is alive, according to his half-brother Sheikh Ahmad, who for some reason didn't want his last name used in stories about him. Kinda stupid, isn't it, not using your family name but identifying yourself as Usama bin Laden's half-brother. Obviously not the bright bulb of the clan.

Not only is his bro alive, but the sheikh says that Usama couldn't be the man behind 9-11. No way, no how. And he doesn't have any kidney disease. And that he's a nice guy, with a "merciful, soft heart." Oh, and he also "fears God."

If he is alive, something tells me he also has a healthy fear of low-flying bombers, too. And a ringing headache that just won't quit.

But he isn't alive. He dodged daisy cutters until he ended up pushing up the daisies. Which was still too good an end for him.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Say it ain't so. I mean, don't all those countries over there have free presses, unfettered access to movers and shakers, and a real watchdog of a press corps?

What was I thinking?

Anyway, the drug pusher from the last post has a nice run-down of how Palestinians are trying to win the PR battle--by creating organizations with "media watch" or words to that effect somewhere in the name, and spinning media treatment of the Israel-Palestinian war. If you check the comments, yours truly has already debunked a big lie emanating from one of these media watch outfits.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


, and then they turn out to be drug pushers. Er, maybe pop pushers?
Posted by B. Preston at 04:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


has managed to irritate Brussels' best blogger.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 19, 2002


I wrote in passing a few days ago that the present conflict will probably force us to re-think, and ultimately rearrange, our global military force structure. This isn't going to be a detailed post about that--I still have too much research to do before I can come up with hard numbers and the like--but I do want to toss out what I'm thinking in the hope that some of you will add to it, or at least think about it.

The United States rebuilt Europe after World War II, via the Marshall Plan, which allowed for us to bring former enemies as well as wartime friends into some semblance of order. Most of Europe had been destroyed by one army or another, and simply needed what was in effect a brief period of colonization. The former colony became, for a time, the empire while the former empires were reduced to colonies.

Having rebuilt Europe along lines we could live with, we then stayed on to keep the peace. The saying was that we stayed to keep America in, Germany down and Russia out. In other words, in addition to allowing our democratic ideals to take hold in former fascist and Nazi states, we stayed on to keep a lid on Germany and to keep Communist Russia on its side of the iron fence.

That mission is finished, and has been for a decade. The USSR is dead, and isn't likely to come back. Even if it did, what could it do in a conventional sense anymore? Russia's economy is a shambles, and would only get worse if the USSR suddenly reconstituted itself. Eastern Europe, which lived under the USSR's boot or half a century, would never go back. In fact, if the US wants to find real friends in Europe, we shouldn't really even bother with the likes of France when Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic idolize us so. Most of the reason the eastern states want NATO membership is about establishing a better friendship with us--it has little to do with actual security concerns.

The US now faces a new mission, which is to destroy a faceless enemy that has declared war on us. Accomplishing this mission will actually probably prove easier than defeating fascism and communism, but will take much effort and time. We only have so many troops, and only so much cash to keep our military funded. We have to think judiciously about how to use our resources to their maximum effect.

So I propose that we start phasing out most of our European military presence, and begin shifting it to the Middle East. We need to get America in there, we need to get ahold of the Islamists and put them down for good, and we need to keep any dangerous new replacement ideologies from getting in. We need, in effect, a political and social version of the Marshall Plan to make something decent of the desert tyrannies.

Shifting our force structure around to meet the Middle Eastern challenge will be difficult, as we face opposition from pretty much everyone involved. As much as Europe carps at our presence, we save them billions by basically being the military that they don't care to fund themselves. Our defense is increasingly of ungrateful nations, but those same ingrates really don't want us to leave. By the same token, while the Middle East will benefit from our presence over time, its leaders won't. They will lose power and, worse, lose face before their own people as they come to be seen as no more than local governors of an American empire.

It won't be an empire, of course, any more than Europe has been our empire since World War II. But the Middle East will become our protectorate--we will build more bases there, and station more troops there, and we will no longer force our personnel to conform to the medieval Middle Eastern cultural standards. And we will reduce our presence in Europe, because it's no longer as necessary as it once was. Eventually, we won't have any bases in Germany or Spain, though we might keep a few in the UK and Italy.

This will dramatically change the global political landscape. The European Union will suddenly find that it's a paper tiger, and that as it must begin to pay for its own military while buttressing is stressed welfare state, its economic performance will lag further behind the US and Japan. Russia may become more influential in European affairs, harkening back in some sense to the days of the czars. As long as Russia stays out of communist hands, this shouldn't pose much of a problem. British influence will likely gain as well, as it will be seen as Europe's best conduit to the United States. NATO may eventually cease to exist.

But the Middle East will change too, and for the better. The early going will be very difficult: Our troops and cultural influences will be very unpopular at first, but as we maintain contact and keep the local dictators to heel, we're likely to become more popular. If one or two Middle Eastern states flirt with real democracy, there's a chance that they all will, and the Middle East might come to resemble eastern Asian states like South Korea and Japan--not exactly Milton Friedman-style capitalism, but not hard-core socialist either. Either way, they will be better than they are now, and less likely to fund our enemies.

The best part is that we could do all of this without a massive regional ground campaign or having to drop the big one. We could break the back of our Islamist enemy without declaring war on Islam itself, and without having to resort to unthinkable violence. We could literally kill our enemies with kindness, as well as Machiavellian determination.

Wishful thinking? Maybe, but it's worth thinking about. Our military has, as some have said, done more for human rights around the globe than any fifty Amnesty Internationals, by effectively making war to establish peace, and then by staying around to keep it. It may have to create and keep the peace one more time, but to accomplish this mission, our military may have to move from the comfortable confines of Europe to the dusty hostility of the Middle East.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:29 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


: Saddam Hussein, the man who has attacked most of his neighbors, gassed his own people and made a mockery of our last couple of presidents, is reportedly planning to leave town should US troops show up to liberate Baghdad. But this part of the story just irked me to no end:

The report said that Uday had visited the Russian capital of Moscow, while Saddam’s cousin visited Algeria.

According to the newspaper, Saddam has millions of dollars in a Swiss bank account - - an amount which will enable him to live his life in dignity in a foreign country.

Commentators of the French daily estimated, in light of this report, that Saddam’s decision to agree to the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq was meant for the sole purpose of “buying time”, needed for preparing his escape route.

It's not the escape that ticks me off--let him go, we'll find him eventually--it's the part about the money. He wants to use his millions--which, to state it one more time, should've gone to feed the starving Iraqi children but instead went to line his pockets--to live "in dignity." That's something he's denied his people for decades. We should deny such a life to him.

UPDATE: Saddam seems to be acting true to form as the war nears. In 1990, he moved many of his troops and SCUD launchers into residential areas, and moved his 900 Western hostages into radar sites and other places where they could act as human shields against our bombing campaign. Once again, he's moving his troops into schools, hospitals and neighborhoods as tensions escalate. These moves constitute a war crime, incidentally.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:35 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


won a big one today, when the GOP managed to kill the Democrats' version of the Dept of Homeland Security.

Good. Keep bustin' 'em. The day we depend on unions to protect the homeland is the day the terrorists really will win.

UPDATE: The headline to this piece read "Trust-busting" until I changed it. Trust-busting made no sense, of course, I just wrote and posted too fast. Duh.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Hitting a new low in a what can only be described as an arms-length relationship with the truth and common sense, the Rev. Jesse Jackson now thinks that removing Saddam is like, well, just read the quote:

“Since he’s not gonna volunteer, it means you have to kill Hussein. In order to get to him you’re going to have to kill a lot of innocent people - to get to him. It’s reminiscent of biblical times – killing all those children to get to Jesus.”

Wait a minute, back up there. Did a supposed man of the cloth just equate one of the most brutal dictators on the face of the earth with the baby Jesus?

Yup. That's exactly what he did.

I know that Jackson isn't Catholic, and neither am I, but can we get the Pope to excommunicate him anyway? Please?
Posted by B. Preston at 12:56 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack


for toppling Saddam. SeDef Rumsfeld says that the conditional "without condition" return of inspectors, to which Iraq agreed this week, has had no effect on plans for war. And, the Arab states will side with us:

"Will they give us access to bases and territory and airspace we need to conduct a military operation?" Rumsfeld asked in testimony on Wednesday to the House Armed Services Committee. "The answer is that the president has not decided to take military action, but, if he does, we will have all the support we need to get the job done. You can be certain of it."

The US and Kuwait will be holding a four-week joint military exercise at the end of the month.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:59 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


on the Iraq debate, according to the latest polls. Seventy percent back his strategy of pushing the UN to do its job and enforce existing Iraq weapons inspection resolutions, and to get authorization to use force if necessary.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 09:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 18, 2002


: Floyd McWilliams tears into the jackasses donkeys at one of my favorite targets.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Russia, currently playing nice cop to our angry cop, says that while it opposes any new UN resolution in Iraq, it accepts that because the US wants one, there will be one. One suspects that the Security Council will dither around over the wording for a few days and pass a dull version of the sharp-fanged resolution that we want. On the other hand, the Bush team has handled Russian relations exceptionally well thus far--they may be able to get a resolution worth passing. Though any delay makes Iraq more dangerous and the rest of the world less secure.

This whole thing is starting to remind me of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. You know, the part where Clint Eastwood keeps turning in the guy that's wanted for various hangin' crimes, collects the reward money and then shoots the rope to cut it just as it's about to give the criminal his final stretch. Saddam seems to be the guy that gets turned in, and some concoction of the international community--Arab states one time, Russia or France the next--keeps shooting the rope and letting him live.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


with my comments server, Haloscan. It's been down all day, but hopefully it'll get back up and running soon. I miss getting chewed out by Mobius and Sylvain.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: Here's a nice piece on film director M. Night Shyamalan, who thus far has produced three of the best films in recent years with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


could easily have been the title of any article examining the contentious relationship between the NY Times editor and the American right. After all, since Raines took over editorial responsibilities a year ago, the Times has gone remarkably and demonstrably negative toward the right in general and the Bush administration in particular. Further, the Times has begun to aggressively push the left's agenda on issues ranging from gun control to Enron to gay marriage. And it has been using its news and editorial pages to promote skepticism toward the Bush administration's war policies. In criticizing Raines, the right is merely reacting to what he's doing. If we all were little kids pushing and shoving on the playground, the right could say "He did it first!" And we'd be correct.

But The American Prospect's Nicholas Confessore took an entirely different tack, in his article tellingly headlined "Bad News: What the right doesn't understand about Howell Raines." The article's thrust is that if the right sees Raines as an antagonist, it's our fault. He pushes a leftish agenda and fires rightish columnists, but we're misunderstanding him. His paper falsely states former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's position on the war to play up a split within GOP ranks, but we're the ones who aren't getting it. Confessore speculates that the right misunderstands Raines because most of us have never worked in a hard news environment. Fair enough, but what about those of us who have, such as myself, or those of us who haven't worked in journalism at all, but know bias when we see it? Having been both a news reporter and a press relations specialist, I can spot loaded language a mile away, and I see it in Confessore's work (which, as a writer for an advocacy magazine is perfectly acceptable). I think Confessore is playing up the journalistic angle too much. Is it possible that journalists and editors, whom Confessore seems to hold up as capable of burying their political ideologies in favor of what he calls their "professional ideologies," just slip their biases into reports without even thinking about it? Of course it is, but Confessore doesn't seem to think so. Confessore just thinks that, based on his own biased view of the right, that when it comes to how journalism works at a place like the NY Times, people of the right just don't get it.

We get it, all right. It's Raines who doesn't. Like most liberals, he tends to see the world through a lens that filters thought into two bands--liberal and therefore correct, and everything else. The "everything else" band gets spun out of proportion and context while the liberal side gets played as the reasonable side. It may be occurring by a conscious choice, or it may be the result of Raines' blindness to his own biases. Either way, Confessore shouldn't blame the right for reacting to things that are obvious to any objective person who pays attention. In casting the dispute the way he has, Confessore just reveals his own bias against the right.

UPDATE: And speaking of media bias, a professor at Dartmouth says that the right is right: the media is biased toward a very narrow band of the liberal opinion spectrum. The good professor was shocked at the level of bias he uncovered in his study that spanned five years of media coverage:

Author Jim A. Kuypers, a senior lecturer at the Ivy League college, said he had no political agenda when conducting his research of nearly 700 newspaper articles from 116 publications. He called the results of his study surprising and warned of the consequences on American society.

"I didn't set out to look for a particular type of bias and I took steps to ensure I didn't impose my preconceptions," Kuypers said. "What I found was a narrow brand of liberal bias within the mainstream media."

The book, "Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues," is a compilation of Kuypers' research on six prominent speeches between 1995 and 2000. He first obtained copies of the speeches and then compared their objectives with their coverage in the news media.

"I did not honestly believe the level of bias and misrepresentation would be as deep and terrible as it was," he said.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


several more terrorist sleeper cells rolled up in the near future.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 17, 2002


: Having gotten Saddam to agree to the resumption of inspections "without conditions," the Arabs must think they're playing us for suckers. They dither and delay, raising the Palestinian issue at every turn (while not lifting a finger to actually help the Palestinians themselves), and oppose any strike on Iraq until the president's UN speech. Then, as if by miracle, the Arab states line up like little ducks in a row and start quacking a new tune: Sure, we'll let the US use our bases, so long as it's under a UN mandate. Meanwhile, in a back channel, they were probably telling Saddam "Just change the game and say you'll let inspectors back in without condition. But make sure to put a few conditions in there, or they might actually get around to inspecting you."

And so here we are. Saddam has said he'll let Hans Blix and Co. back in, he probably even requested Scott Ritter re-join the team by name, and has put the White House back on its heels. Russia says we should lay off, since Saddam's suddenly being a good boy, and the Arab states are all parroting the Russians. Geopolitics as usual, unless the Bush team has another clever strategy up its sleeve. If they don't, I have a suggestion.

Here's what we do. Saddam's letter said "without condition." Let's take him for his word, and send in inspectors of our choosing.

I'd say that roughly 250,000 inspectors, heavily armed and dropped in by parachute, driven in by tank or brought in by armored personnel carrier, would be sufficient. Iraq is a big country after all, and it'll take lots of inspectors to go through all those palaces. They might even have to break some of Saddam's fine china in the process.

Saddam can't balk at the idea--he did accept the resumption of inspections "without condition."
Posted by B. Preston at 09:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Maryland GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Ehrlich is now ahead of his Democrat rival in two statewide polls. Just a couple of months ago, he was behind Kathleen Kennedy Townsend by double-digits. One poll has him up by a point, the other has him leading by three. Both results are withing the statistical margin of error, but taken together they show that he does enjoy a small lead.

Reinforcing the view among the Republican faithful the Ehrlich has a fighting chance has been the recent explosion in bumper-sticker advertising: The campaign bumper sticker that's been popping up most often in the past few weeks says "Another Democrat for Ehrlich." That means that Townsend's base is slipping away.

And just as worrisome for the KKT camp, her negatives are still climbing:

Carol Arscott, a partner in Annapolis-based Gonzales/Arscott Research and Communications Inc., said Townsend's negative ratings continue to climb, and "I'm not sure at this point that it's going to be possible for her to turn it around."

"At this point, their only option is to try to drive up Bob Ehrlich's negatives," Arscott said.

While 99 percent of Maryland voters recognize Townsend's name, just 39 percent viewed her favorably and 35 percent held a negative view in the Arscott/Gonzales poll. Ehrlich was viewed favorably by 44 percent and unfavorably by 21 percent of those polled.

So as I predicted on WBAL radio a few weeks back, expect the Dems to get out the mudslingers soon.

I also predicted that the local press would give Ehrlich a hard time, and it is. Ehrlich recently made two very bold moves: He suggested that if elected he'll take a look at repealing a couple of gun control laws, and told a gathering of children's rights advocates that he and the Children's Defense Fund have nothing in common. The CDF is a far left outfit that's perpetually arguing for the erosion of parental rights, among other things, and as such is a group which will never, ever support Ehrlich. Even if he wholeheartedly embraced every single thing the CDF wants, they'd still back KKT because she's a Dem and he's not. Ehrlich simply refused to pander, even to a room full of child welfare advocates.

On the gun question, Ehrlich was just speaking the truth. He has a long record of supporting gun rights. Further, the gun issue has become a loser for the Dems in recent years, and they've backpeddled from their gun-grabbing rhetoric as a result. In speaking up for gun rights, Ehrlich is merely speaking to his base while reaching out to the Dems who are more open to gun rights talk, especially in the wake of 9-11.

So in both cases, Ehrlich spoke honestly about real issues, which is rare in a politician, and spoke to his base without pandering to constituencies that wouldn't support him anyway. Sounds pretty sensible.

The Baltimore Sun characterized both moves as "self-inflicted wounds," and "gifts" to the KKT campaign.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has just been interrupted by someone spraying something behind the Philadelphia Eagles bench. Eagles Coach Andy Reid had his team move to the center of the field, where they stayed for several minutes. They then moved back to the bench area, only to move back to the center of the field before game officials declared it safe to return to the bench.

ABC's sideline reporter Melissa Stark reported that everyone on that side of the field suffered from a slight burning sensation in the lungs.

Play has now resumed, with the Eagles leading the Redskins by 30 points.

It may be terrorism, it may just be bad sportsmanship--they're playing in Washington.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 16, 2002


: The Discover Magazine piece about seismic recordings of Flight 93's demise is finally online.

Eyewitness reports of plane crashes are notoriously unreliable: When United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, some locals saw a fighter jet in the area, others heard an explosion before the plane went down. Terry Wallace has contrary testimony from Earth itself. Wallace, a seismologist at the University of Arizona, has studied records of ground vibrations triggered by the crash to reconstruct how the event unfolded.

Based on the amount of seismic energy, Wallace could estimate how the plane came down: "The UA flight produced a significant signal, consistent with a fully-loaded jet that was intact, or nearly intact, on impact." That finding disputes rumors that the hijacked jet was shot down, he says, because a missile or other explosion would have broken the craft into smaller pieces that would have caused less seismic disturbance. The Pan Am crash over Lockerbie, Scotland, which blew apart in midair, produced only a faint signal, even though the crash occurred close to an array of ground-motion sensors. David McCormack, a seismologist at Natural Resources Canada who studied the Lockerbie crash, agrees with Wallace's interpretation. "To detect a signal even marginally, the aircraft would have to be intact," he says.

Still, there's the three-minute gap between the time the plane crashed on the seismographs and the end of the cockpit voice recorder. There are several ways to explain this, from electrical failure aboard the plane to an accidental switch-off to FBI bungling, all of which are currently plausible. But it does seem clear from the Discover piece that the plane hit in one big piece, which is almost entirely inconsistent with a missile shootdown.

But for those who still think that Bush knew about (even planned) 9-11, and ordered the shootdown of Flight 93--yes, the crowd has been pushing both theories--what kind of sense would that make? Why would the guy who ordered all the attacks to take place risk it all by shooting down one of the death planes before reaching its target? If that plane wasn't intended to reach a specific target, why not just put a bomb on it? Too many moving parts in this conspiracy...

There are also too many moving parts in the shootdown theory alone. What's the motivation for a cover-up? I can't see one--shooting down a plane headed for the capital on 9-11 would have seemed eminently sensible, given that three planes had already reached their targets and killed thousands.

You conspiracy types need a new angle here--so far, none of your theories make any sense, and they don't match the evidence either.

(links courtesy Stuart Buck and Crooow Blog)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:40 PM | Comments (29) | TrackBack


RESIGNATION: Why I don't care.

I once read Bob Greene's syndicated column regularly. I think it was in the Dallas Morning News, or maybe a local paper when I was a radio news guy, I really can't remember, but I kind of liked it. Greene came off as a decent enough guy, a little too liberal for my tastes, but not in the hackneyed way that we've come to expect from Richard Cohen, Molly Ivins and the entire staff of the New York Times. Greene's writing was human, and engaging.

I eventually stopped reading Greene a few years ago. No reason, I just drifted away, lived a little more and read a little less. But nearly four years ago, my wife became pregnant with our son, and she had heard about this book from a friend of hers. It was Bob Greene's book about going through his wife's first pregnancy. My wife wanted me to read it so that I could see what the impending changes would be like, and being familiar with Greene's work I was happy to oblige.

But I couldn't get through it. The guy came off as way too emotional about the whole thing, way too wrapped up in himself and his own feelings. Every little thing held some Moral Lesson, imparted The Wisdom of the Ages. I couldn't take it, and never finished it. And I haven't read Bob Greene since.

So while the guy may have gotten the shaft screwed an improper ending to his career, I can't say I care all that much. I'm sure he's a nice enough guy, but I just haven't found his writing very interesting in a long time.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: One of Usama's buds says the flea-bitten one is dead.

Yes, I should be more specific: The flea-bitten one named Usama bin Laden is dead. A Tora Bora cave, collapsed thanks to US armaments, is his final resting place.

Of course, I've been saying that UBL is dead since February, before declaring his timely end was fashionable.

Advantage JunkYardBlog? Nah. Advantage USA.

(via Charles Johnson)
Posted by B. Preston at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


may may formally end World War II.

No, this isn't another of my "alternate history" pieces: Japan and Russia have been formally at war since 1945. The USSR declared war on Japan right around the time we nuked them into surrender, and seized the Kuril Islands, which are north of Hokkaido, the northernmost major Japanese home island. Japan has wanted to get the Kurils back ever since, and as a result formal hostilities never ceased.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


works: Iraq is buckling to world pressure, says it will allow the weapons inspectors to return "without conditions."

Is this the 21st century form of appeasement? Is Iraq playing games with the UN, again? Probably, but we'll see. The real test is likely to come when inspectors actually show up. As one of their first acts in Iraq, the teams should demand to inspect Saddam's presidential palaces (which he continued to build while the Iraqi children starved). He kept those installations off limits as part of a side deal with the UN--these vast, potential weapons storage facilities must now be opened up. If Saddam balks, then he is setting conditions on the inspections and is therefore breaking the deal. Again.

The White House is skeptical, and is pushing ahead for a new, stronger resolution from the UN Security Council that addresses Iraqi disarmament.

According to the Iraqi defector Dr. Khidir Hamza, Iraq could have a nuke by the end of this year. Saddam could be playing for time, using the inspections to forestall an attack long enough to get his hands on a real nuke with which he could then permanently halt the US political advance. No regional ally will take part in a strike on Iraq if he can threaten them with a nuclear attack: Saddam will be able to single-handedly dissolve the Arab coalition that the US is currently building. Before that can happen, the UN must get inspection teams together and in Iraq now.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


has spoken, making the airspace as far as 60 miles up above it a weapons-free zone. I wonder if the terrorist faction will abide by Berkeley's wishes.
Posted by B. Preston at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


: UK PM Tony Blair's anti-Saddam dossier, due out on the 24th, seems to contain some damning stuff on the dictator:

A draft version of the dossier, due to be presented to Parliament by Prime Minister Tony Blair on Sept 24, allegedly claims that Abu Zubair, believed to be in custody in the United States, and Rafid Fatah, still at large, were trained in Iraq and sent to work with al Qaida in Afghanistan.

The dossier also reportedly discloses satellite evidence that Saddam has reconstructed three plants to manufacture biological and chemical weapons together with 'worrying activity" at them, according to the Sunday Telegraph report.

Now that the US is set to use bases in Qatar and Kuwait to oust Saddam, the Saudis are seeing the light, and may allow us to use its bases as well.

Time may be getting short--an Iraqi defector thinks Saddam is closer to getting his hands on a nuke than the West has previously suspected.
Posted by B. Preston at 08:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2002


that the five Americans (of Yememi descent) arrested in upstate New York on charges of aiding terrorists are all, according to a Fox News report, registered Democrats?

Weren't Johnny bin Walker's folks of the Democrat persuasion, too?


UPDATE: Whigging Out has more on the Buffalo Six/DNC connection. He includes links to stories that verify their political affiliation.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:21 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack