Sunday, September 24, 2006

Musharraf in Paris

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, after visiting President Bush in Washington this week, took a trip to Paris to visit a personal physician and to have some routine medical tests conducted.

Not so unusual, you say. Why not stop in Paris on the way back to Pakistan? Maybe enjoy a fine French meal, too, before heading on to the home country.

Well, believe it or not, we're not talking about Paris, France, here.


No. We're talking about Paris, Texas. As in, out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere (even by the standards of those of us who live in Texas) Paris, Texas.

Gen. Musharraf spoke by phone during an unannounced trip to Texas on Saturday to undergo routine medical tests and visit with a personal physician.

He arrived at Paris (Texas) Regional Medical Center in the late morning for a checkup with cardiologist Arjumand Hashmi. Hospital officials said Gen. Musharraf was "found to be in excellent health."

After the president had his checkup, he attended a lunch in Paris before departing for Dallas. Later, he visited the doctor's Highland Park home.

"This is a beautiful place you have here," he said of his first visit to Texas.

Dr. Hashmi said he was simply "meeting an old friend" when asked about the high-profile patient on Friday.

"It's a private visit," he said "There's nothing to it."

Interesting. Not sure why he needed to travel all the way to Paris, Texas, to undergo routine medical tests. Kind of unusual, if you ask me, but who knows? Perhaps Dr. Hashmi is an old friend of the General's from Pakistan, so Musharraf thought he would stop by while he was in the "neighborhood".

It's not every day that the President of Pakistan, a major player on the current, worldwide political stage, pays a visit to little old Paris, Texas. No doubt, some locals were taken by surprise.

In both Paris and Highland Park, the cloak-and-dagger visit generated a buzz in two normally sedate small towns.

A motorcade of more than two dozen cars, including state trooper vehicles, Secret Service cars and a Paris hospital ambulance made the trip from Dallas to Paris mid-morning.

Phillip Hamilton, managing editor of The Paris News, said that about 20 people, including at least one other Paris physician, were at the house and dined with Gen. Musharraf.

He said the Pakistani president stood up to say goodbye shortly before 3 p.m.

In retrospect, maybe those reports of people seeing Osama bin Laden in the area aren't so farfetched after all.

Quote of the Day: "...Republicans have a better record and a better commitment to national security than the Democrats do"

That was Jerry Falwell's assessment while discussing prospects for the 2008 presidential election.

And just what planet is he living on?

If memory serves me correctly, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil occurred eight months after George W. Bush took office. And, as the 9/11 Commission Report discusses in painstaking detail, the Bush administration continuously ignored warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning a major attack. Even former Bush administration officials have revealed that Bush and company weren't interested in listening to Clinton administration officials who warned them to be on guard for possible terrorist activity.

Was Bush interested? No. And that's a proven fact.

What have Republicans done to secure our borders, our ports or our chemical plants over the last five years? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Obviously, Jerry Falwell is as clueless as ever. And that's not to mention his other statement that Hillary Clinton would have a tougher time getting votes from Falwell's "flock" than would Lucifer.


The Christian fundamentalists just continue to look goofier and goofier every day. At this rate, it won't be long before they make certain Islamic militants look downright civil in comparison.

Thanks for your keen insight into the political scene, Jerry. Next time perhaps you could try speaking in tongues. You might make more sense.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

NY Times: NIE says Iraq war has made terror threat worse

According to an article in today's NY Times, a soon-to-be-published National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the United States' involvement in Iraq has, indeed, exacerbated the worldwide threat of terrorism.

A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

To that I say, "No shit, Sherlock!"

The question remains, how will the Bush administration use this news to bolster Republicans' chances in the upcoming November elections?

On the surface, one would think the NIE report is a death knell for Republicans' chances. After all, how can they dare to say, "We'll keep America safe", when their policies clearly have left America less safe?

No doubt, those on the right will say that the world has become such an unsafe place that only they can protect us adequately. They'll argue that America hasn't suffered another terrorist attack since 9/11/01, thereby proving that they can protect us better than can Democrats.

Sadly, far too many of America's ignorati (as I like to call the vast, ignorant class in this country) will lap that message up like cats at a saucer of warm milk.

But the reality is that we cannot afford to trust those who have allowed - or even encouraged - the terrorist threat to fester over the last five years. What, in fact, has the Bush administration really done to diminish that threat, as they so boldly proclaimed they would do after the Twin Towers fell? Nothing!

On the contrary, the Bush administration went off and invaded Iraq, a nation that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with terrorism or 9/11. And now we learn that this invasion and the subsequent quagmire-cum-civil-war has made things worse.


It's time to vote these numbskulls out of office. And once that happens, then it will be time to hold the Bush administration accountable for its crimes, of which there are many. The sooner, the better.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Here we go again!

The IAEA has come out blasting a recent report from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee regarding Iran's alleged uranium enrichment program. Interestingly, though not surprisingly, this situation seems to mirror what we saw four years ago in the run-up to war in Iraq.

The International Atomic Energy Agency wrote the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, lambasting it for claiming that the Islamic republic "is currently enriching uranium to weapons grade."

Iran is far from that capability, the IAEA said. (Watch how the IAEA and the House disagree -- 2:00)

Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who sits on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which prepared the report, said the subcommittee's assertion is "very clear."

"It says that we don't believe that they've gotten there. But the point of that whole section is, they are trying to enrich uranium to weapons grade," he said.

The subcommittee's report also insinuates that the IAEA may be in cahoots with Tehran in covering up Iran's nuclear ambitions.

So, what are the similarities between Iran and Iraq?

- Dubious U.S. intelligence claims about weapons of mass destruction.
- Criticism of the IAEA over its monitoring practices and reports.
- Unsubstantiated claims of WMD development by a dissident.

Hmmmm. Curious.

And just who is this Iranian dissident who claims to have inside knowledge of Iran's nuclear weapons development?

On Thursday, Iranian dissident Alireza Jafarzadeh told reporters in New York that Iran was operating a laser uranium-enrichment program in its quest for a nuclear warhead.

The information was obtained by opposition sources, said Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting Inc., a terrorism consulting firm. Those sources made the same claim in 2002.

The current operation, Jafarzadeh told reporters, was set up in the same area near Tehran as the program opposition sources announced in 2002.

However, an analyst for a group opposed to nuclear proliferation questioned the accuracy of Jafarzadeh's allegation.

"Why would Iran put a secret laser enrichment facility in the same place where it had it in the first place? To me, that just doesn't make a whole amount of sense," said Paul Brannan, a research analyst with the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security.

This guy, aside from the fact that he runs a terrorism consulting firm (whatever the hell that is), doesn't sound all that much different than "Curveball", the Iraqi informant who claimed to have inside knowledge of Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities. As we found out, Curveball was a loose nut just looking for a free ride. Yet we apparently relied on his con-job - even though the Germans knew he was unstable - to support a course for war.

Deja vu...all over again. Brilliant!

Another worrisome point that has been reported to be a part of the House intelligence report concerns the generation of electricity. According to the report, the authors wonder why an oil-rich nation such as Iran would even need nuclear energy to generate electricity. Couldn't they just use their vast reserves of crude oil to power the nation for generations to come?

To be blunt, that supposition is utter nonsense. You see, crude oil isn't used much to generate electricity in developed countries. It's far too inefficient and costly compared to coal, natural gas, water, wind and NUCLEAR generated electricity. It just isn't done. Period.

In fact, in 2004 petroleum was used for barely three-percent of total U.S. net electricity generation. It trailed coal, nuclear energy, natural gas and water - in that order - as the top electricity fuel sources in the U.S.

Apparently, those in the U.S. House of Representatives believe Americans are too ignorant and uninformed to know any different. They believe that more lies will allow them to gain support for action against Iran.

Just like with Iraq.

Yes, here we go again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ann Richards, RIP

Ann Richards, former Texas Governor and a pepperpot of a politician, has died of cancer at the age of 73. She will be missed.

I voted for Governor Richards in the 1994 election when she faced George W. Bush, a political novice. Sadly, more Texans didn't vote for Ms. Richards. If they had, we might not be in quite the mess we are today with Mr. Bush in the White House. Ahhh, what could have been? We'll never know.

Rest in peace, Ann. You are missed in Texas, in more ways than you could know.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Quote of the Day: "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation."

That was the brilliant advice of U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne.

Sure, let's just test our weaponry on our own citizens before using it against our enemies. Now that makes a lot of sense.

And just who will these citizens be?

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

Crowd control situations, eh? Would that include people who may organize to voice their disagreement with U.S. government policies?

With people such as Wynne leading the charge, is it really such a stretch to believe that our own government may have had a hand in the attacks of 9/11? It certainly provided the perfectly convenient excuse to wage war, just as the neo-conservative PNACers long have wanted.

Food for thought...

Monday, September 04, 2006

In its effort to promote democracy, the United States blows.

Former Iranian President - and noted moderate - Mohammad Khatami is right on the money with his comments made during a trip to the United States this week:

"(Q)uite frankly, I would tell (Bush) that the policies that the United States has chosen unfortunately have brought about the wrong sentiment toward the United States and has only increased, and will only increase, extremism in our region."

He argued that the U.S. invasion of Iraq has increased hatred for the United States in the Mideast, leading more young people to join terrorist groups.

While the United States tries to force others to accept democracy, its overtly militaristic approach to the Middle East serves only to tick them off. It would tick me off, too.

In many ways, the United States' approach is similar to that of the Wind in Aesop's well-known fable about the battle between the Sun and the Wind to entice a man to remove his cloak. The lesson being that kindness effects more than severity. As the U.S. attempts to blow its way through the Middle East, its harsh manner only serves to alienate people rather than to encourage them to open up to a message of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps U.S. policy makers could take a lesson from the Sun, which used a much more subtle and warming method to achieve its objective.

Former President Khatami said it well:

Asked what he would tell President Bush if he could speak with him, Khatami replied: "I would tell him that the United States, with all of its might and resources, can, side by side with the good people of the Middle East, bring about a new experience and the creation of democracy and the advancement of democracy, even though the way to democracy may have been slow originating in the Mideast. With a change of the language going from threats to ... mutual understanding, the United States can have a better position in the region.

Sadly, the Bush administration and its neo-con power center likely will turn deaf ears to Mr. Khatami's sound advice. After all, it's the way they do things. They don't listen. They just look for more people to attack, either literally or figuratively.

I guess one could say that Mr. Khatami sees the light, while the Bush administration just blows.

So what else is new?