Unbelievable photos of the birth of an island in South Pacific, August 2006...

The following photos were sent to me by a now regular contributor to TWWI, and frankly they are among the most amazing images I have ever seen in my entire life. They are sequential, at least as far as I can tell, and the were taken by vacationers on a yacht in the South Pacific in August 2006. The particles that are floating on top of the sea in the first few photos appear initially to be sand. However, as the particles proliferate and frost over the entire surface of the ocean in every direction it becomes apparent that it is in fact volcanic rock that is being spewed to the surface from an underwater gyser.

Then, all of a sudden, in the distance there is steam rising from the sea, and it becomes obvious that the yacht had stumbled upon a large and significant volcanic event. Before the eyes of the world, perhaps for the first time in history, an island was born from the sea, and the face of the earth was changed for perhaps tens of millions of years. The pictures speak for themselves, so enjoy.

Absolutely Incredible.

Thanks Messner!


Hanoi Jane and Susan Surrender lead the sheep to the Mall, again...

TheStar.com - News - Fonda leads anti-Iraq War rally

I am young, far too young to remember anything about the Vietnam era, but if the actions of the 1970's hippie, peace movement were anything like the pathetic, intellectually devoid demonstration that Hanoi Jane and Susan Surrender led on the Mall in Washington yesterday, then we should all chip and send them to Baghdad so they can organize the "insurgents" to peacefully repel the "illegal occupiers". I've seen the pictures of Miss NVA 1968 sitting on top of the anti-aircraft cannon, in fact, I felt compelled to include one of the better ones. I understand the principle of free speech, and I am not entirely opposed to peace, but can anyone seriously imagine a scene similar to the one caught in the black and white on the right being replicated in Iraq today? I just don't understand. How ignorant are these people?

I have no doubt that the enemy we face today in Iraq, and throughout the world for that matter, is of a far different breed than the one we stood toe-to-toe with in the jungles of Vietnam. If Fonda tried to get a photo-op with one of the leaders of the terrorist insurgency in Baghdad, I doubt they would oblige her with the same courtesy she was afforded by the Vietcong. Odds are, she would have her head sawed off by masked men screaming "Allah Wekbed" (Praise God, or something disgusting like that). I doubt the last thing that would go through her head would be an image of the American aggressors. It would be almost surreal, wouldn't it? Maybe I should start a not-for-profit that takes donations to purchase one-way airplane tickets for these wackos to use to fly to Iraq or Afghanistan, not to meet with the troops, whom they obviously couldn't care less about, but to meet with Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi militia, or with the commanders of the Taliban. These thick-headed hippies will never understand until they come to terms with the nature of the enemy.

Chicago 2016? Looking good for the Second City...

Chicago was chosen as one of the finalists, along with LA, for the US Olympic Committee's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. To the left is the logo the city has designed and below is a selection from the official planning committee's website describing the symbolism and inspiration for the logo.

Underlying its simple, sophisticated style, the Chicago 2016 logo represents many different facets of the Olympic spirit and the values of Chicago. Three distinct visual components reflecting some of our city's most iconic symbols are artfully blended to form the Olympic torch.

The flame, in the shape of Chicago’s skyline, represents the way our enduring city rose from the ashes of the Chicago Fire. The blue base of the torch symbolizes Lake Michigan and its stretching shoreline. Merging into a vibrant green, the body of the torch is a reflection of Chicago's lush parks and our commitment to the environment.

Displaying Chicago’s ambition to host a compact Games with little travel time between venues for athletes, the city skyline, lakefront and parks are fitting symbols for an Olympic stage set in the heart of Chicago.

"We are proud to present this dramatic new symbol that creates a very special link between Chicago and the Olympic Games, "Mayor Richard M. Daley said. "The Olympic Games are a very exciting prospect for Chicago, and I'm pleased that we now have a great new symbol to show the world that we're ready to carry the torch."

The city has also released where it plans to host each event, a list which I have attached below. Based on the cities efforts so far, I think it would be safe to say the Mayor is fairly confident that Chicago is not only the US front-runner, but the international front-runner. I hope that we aren't all getting our hopes up, but seriously, how often does a Daley not get what they want?

- Sports Venues

Aquatics - Olympic Aquatics Center (UIC)
Archery - Grant Park
Athletics - Washington Park
Badminton - McCormick Place
Basketball – Preliminaries I & II - Allstate Arena /Chicago State University
Basketball – Finals - United Center
Boxing - UIC Pavilion
Canoe / Kayak - Olympic Whitewater Course at Lincoln Park
Canoe Flat - Lakefront Rowing Course (Monroe Harbor)
Cycling – BMX - Olympic Sports Complex at Northerly Island
Cycling – Road - Cook County
Cycling – Track - Olympic Sports Complex at Northerly Island
Cycling – MTB - Palos Forest Preserve
Equestrian – Dressage - Olympic Equestrian Center (Lake County)
Equestrian – Endurance - Olympic Equestrian Center (Lake County)
Equestrian – Jumping - Olympic Equestrian Center (Lake County)
Fencing - McCormick Place
Football – Preliminaries & Finals - Soldier Field
Football – Preliminaries 1-3 - Ryan Field (Northwestern University), TCF Stadium (University of Minnesota), Husky Stadium (Northern Illinois University)
Gymnastics – Artistic & Trampoline - United Center
Gymnastics – Rhythmic - McCormick Place
Handball - McCormick Place
Hockey - Olympic Hockey Fields at Jackson Park
Judo - McCormick Place
Marathon - City
Modern Pentathlon - McCormick / UIC
Rowing - Lakefront Rowing Course (Monroe Harbor)
Sailing - Olympic Village Harbor
Shooting (In/Out) - Olympic Shooting Complex (Lake County)
Table Tennis - McCormick Place
Tae Kwon Do - McCormick Place
Tennis - Olympic Tennis Center at Lincoln Park
Triathlon - City
Volleyball – Beach - Olympic Sports Complex at Northerly Island
Volleyball – Indoor - McCormick Place
Weightlifting - McCormick Place
Wrestling - McCormick Place

Non-Sports Venues

Olympic Village - New Lakeside community
International Broadcast Center - McCormick Place
Press Center - McCormick Place
Opening & Closing Ceremonies - Washington Park

(sources for information on logo and venues)

Amazing montage on "The Bomb"...

There are few things in this world that command the power of God, but The Bomb is certainly one of those things. This video puts these amazing powers on display, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is looking for a 6 1/2 minute experience of pure, unadulterated nuclear power.

One Of These Days - video powered by Metacafe


BlogBurst Syndicates TWWI...

So I have been syndicated again, this time by a third-party syndicate known as BlogBurst which offers all of my articles to their clients, who in turn post my stories up on their sites. Among the more distinguished sites that use BlogBurst's services are the USA Today, Reuters and the Washington Post. I haven't seen any indication that my material has been picked up yet, but hopefully this new opportunity will drive traffic to my site and increase my exposure to other publishers and syndicates. I would really like this site to lead to a job in journalism, or some other paid opportunity.

NFL bans tailgating at Super Bowl XLI...

cbs4.com - Tailgating Forbidden On Super Bowl Sunday

View CBS Miami News Report on Tailgating During Super Bowl

The NFL, apparently without even consulting the Miami Dolphins, has decided to ban tailgating from the Super Bowl Festivities. According to Dolphin officials, tailgating is going to be permitted, but Sue Jaquez, a member of the Super Bowl XLI host committee, told the CBS 4 news in Miami that the organization has been sorely misinformed. She stressed that there would be no RVs allowed within one mile of Dolphin Stadium.

In my opinion this is only another reason to stay here in Chicago next weekend. I mean, this is not a college bowl game, and I doubt very much that a Bears fan would care very much if you told them that there were valid security reasons for banning tailgating. I can't imagine a Bears game without tailgating, and though I am not much of a drinker, I think the fans should call the Dolphins organization and workout some sort of plan for tailgating and RVs to be assembled outside of the supposed one mile halo that surrounds the stadium.

I am curious to find out what everyone thinks about this. Should the NFL ban tailgating at the Super Bowl? Is any supposed security concern that important?

BetaNews | Intel Reinvents the Transistor

BetaNews | Intel Reinvents the Transistor

IHP: Intel, IBM seperately reveal transistor breakthrough

The many tech-focused blogs and websites on the internet are heralding the discoveries of Intel and IBM engineers as the most important developments in the history of transistor technology realized since the 1960's. Considering the scope and acceleration of innovation in transistor technology, which is largely responsible for the drastic differences in the society of the 1960's and that of today, this is an amazing assertion. Many of the comments I have read thus far insist that today will go down in the history books as a moment of significant change in the world of computer technology and it may be available to consumers within months.

On the 1st anniversary of the last telegram, I find wisdom in the prophetic words chosen by Samuel Morse for the first message sent using telegraphy- "What hath God wrought?" If we continue to discover and innovate at our current pace, this question is only going to continue to become more and more difficult to answer.


Even the American flag kicks ass...

My friend sent me this picture/joke yesterday and I think it is hysterical. If you can read the caption, it says:

American Flag- $25
Gasoline- $2
Cigarette Lighter- $2.50
Catching yourself on fire because your a terrorist asshole: PRICELESS

Thanks Messner.

Competition challenges college students to build their campus in 3-D on Google Earth...

The folks over at Google have opened a contest for college students across the country to build their campuses in SketchUp and they are going to fly the winners out to Mountain View for a three day 3-D modeling symposium, all expenses paid. The contest is open to all comers and all submissions must be in by June 1st to be considered. The winning entries will be posted in the online 3-D Warehouse that Google Earth enthusiasts use to share and collaborate on large modeling projects.

I get the sense that Google is out to turn their virtual Earth into an interactive experience beyond any we have ever witnessed, and this is a good way for them to build a reputation on US campuses. Several bloggers have predicted that Google envisions their Earth program as a virtual world akin to Second Life, but built in an extension of users real lives as opposed to other such sites which create gaming environments that are wholly imagined and unpredictable in how it will evolve and develop. Google, according to these rumors, is looking to create an interactive environment that would be more of an extension of each users real world experience, which could be used by both the avid fantasy gamer and the CEO who is looking to be, literally, in two places at one time.

IBM has recently received a lot of attention for holding a press conference to announce a new virtual incubator project in Second Life. If the engineers at Google can somehow offer a first person perspective to their Earth interface, and offer tools to allow people to communicate across the globe in an environment that gives them all the benefits of meeting in person (i.e. conference room, privacy options, etc.), such an ambitious project would be revolutionary and all of our lives will never be the same. There are already indications that Google is moving in exactly this direction, as they have begun exploring the possibilities of placing advertising in video games, for instance on billboards on the side of the road in car racing games. If they are able to devise a profitable and innovative advertising model for a virtual world, Google will have a leg up on Microsoft and Yahoo in another important advertising medium.


Stop Hillary PAC gets headstart on Democratic frontrunner...

There are few people, let alone politicians, in American that inspire a passionate opinion from nearly everyone you run into on the streets of every American cities as Hillary Clinton, having spent most of the 1990's as America's First Lady and subsequently serving in the US Senate from New York. Though her supports are vocal and well financed, so too are her enemies. Stop Hillary PAC has announced that they will be launching 60-second television spots in Iowa as the wife of America's most dynamic and crafty politician in a generation or more. After months of silence about her future plans and possible ambitions of a run for her Hubby's former job, Hillary has finally announced that she is in, and she is "in to win." As if she was in for some other reason.

View Stop Hillary PAC's most recent ad here.

Read about the Stop Hillary campaign here.

Japanese students capture rare deep water shark on video...

UK Daily Mail: Rare Primitive Shark Caught on Film

Japanese students have captured video of just about the creepiest sea creature I have ever seen. The Frilled Shark is extremely primitive, evolving little since prehistoric times. I lives more than a thousand meters below the surface, which is deeper than humans can travel, and it feeds on other sharks and sea creatures. Images such as the one to the left and those captured recently of a live giant squid, the first such photos ever, make one wonder what exactly is down at the bottom of the deep blue sea that we have yet discover. So often forgotten, the oceans are more of a mystery to humans than deep space. We have explored merely 1% of the deepest regions of the underwater canyons and mountain ranges that we could never even begin to understand or conceive of what we do not know. As we advance in our marine capabilities, we will undoubtedly uncover mysteries that will change our understanding of life and its many intricacies in the only places on earth where creatures exist is their most primitive state. Cool.


The Donald fined $1250 per day in Palm Beach for flying Stars and Stripes?

Related Google News Links

The Donald Trump has taken leave from his bitching and dissing match with Rosie O'Donnell to take on an even more disturbingly ignorant and disgusting bully, the Palm Beach municipal government. Apparently, the prissy Palm Beach zoning board, or whomever is responsible for this disgraceful campaign against The Donald, has decided that he is flying the American flag too high at his ocean front club Mar-a-Lago. As a reprimand, they have been fining the billionare television personality $1250 per day until he lowers it to meet their specifications. Predictably, The Donald has gone prime time with his grievances and issued a lawsuit to the tune of $25 million, I guess for emotional damages.

My only question is: Do these people own a television set? Even those of us who hate reality TV and think that Extra kills more brain cells than a heroin overdose, know that The Donald has been engaged in a petty war with daytime talk show personality and former-tomboy actress turned lesbian activist Rosie O'Donnell for weeks. Did they maybe think they could make a quick buck by slipping under The Donald's radar and ultimately becoming a marginal inconvenience. Whoops.

Meanwhile, The Donald sips his latte and swims in his money (think Scrooge McDuck) while watching his show in fifty different languages and munching on caviar...

Surge of 20,000 may just be the beginning...

This story popped up on Drudge a few minutes ago and if this is true, and the Iranians are about to test a nuclear device underground in the desert, there is absolutely going to be a showdown in the desert. Such an escalation would be unquestionably met with a swift response of heavy airstrikes and full ground assault. I can't possibly imagine anything other than an all out ass whoopin'. That said, we've seen what happened in Iraq. Iran has been our enemy since they held our diplomatic presence in Tehran hostage in the late-1970's, so I doubt it would take much to get Bush to reign hellfire and brimstone and grant Amadine-jihad's apocalyptic premonitions upon his government and the Ayatollahs. Amadine-jihad only seems to be further emboldened, even after suffering political defeats in key local elections in the nation's capitol.

If this is accurate, I am joining the Marines and I would urge everyone else to consider following suit. If the military isn't your bag, you may have an option to join a Civilian Corp. soon, which Bush proposed in his speech last night. The next phase of WWIII may be on the horizon.

Bush sounds good (and right), Webb sounds great (but wrong)...

60 percent of the active duty military view Bush favorably, at least according to the military newspaper Military Times. Freshman Senator Jim Webb, in his rebuttal of president Bush's State of the Union, asserted that a majority of the American people and the military do not support his (W's) strategy on Iraq. (I clarify to emphasize that W is the only person, as of yet to actually offer a strategy for achieving significant progress in a short term, except of course me.) He's a rookie, though there is a theatrical quality their that is at the level of Reagan, so I think its fair to forgive the novelist turned Senator for embellishing. This is not the first time the Senator has been bold when the issue of Iraq and his feelings with the president's policy. About a month ago, before the Senator was sworn in, he was invited to a Christmas party at the White House and when he was mingling with Bush, the president asked him how his 'boy' was doing. With Karl Rove buzzing in your ear, it is likely that Bush was well aware that Webb's son is serving in Iraq currently, so he was asking out of respect and I have no doubt with a heavy heart. I can only imagine the look on Bush's face when Webb had the audacity to respond with a sharp, "My son wants to come home." Aghast, W retorted, "That's not what I asked you." Doesn't it make your stomach churn to imagine someone at the president's Christmas party walking in like a bully with a chip on his shoulder. Respect.

I look forward to the next six years with Jim on the Hill. It is telling that the Democrats put Webb out to rebut, I think it was just last year that recently retired Virginia Governor Mark Warner was rolled out to give the Democratic response. One could argue that this was the turning point for Bush's presidency. I sincerely hope that this night will be the rallying point the White House was looking for, but I have learned not to hold out hope.

Also, I thought it was hilarious was Bush gave his cute little bit to make the new Madam Speaker blush, and he shook her hand at least three times. I didn't notice at first, but I did not see Dick Cheney so much as glance the Speaker's way. He didn't even make the slightest congratulatory gesture, not even when SHE reached over and grabbed his arm after Bush had already started speaking again. I am sure the VP's cold welcome was motivated by nothing less than a personal revulsion. And why not hate, she has after all taken over the government by running all over the country spewing crap about how the president is a liar. She has no class and I hope she was humbled by the way the president honored her big night, but the unspoken tension and hostility on the back bench was obvious. It looks like Cheney has got his game face on and has W's back all the way. Bush kisses ass really well, and Cheney is a great hit guy (remember his "hunting trip"), so I wonder if the Bush in front of the camera was suppressing an inner hostility that was conveyed through his #2? Maybe, but I suspect his ALL CLASS reputation will prevent him from stooping to the level of petty attacks and name calling. I doubt they will soon understand, or rather rediscover, the old fashioned principles of American politics which has finally after 12 years given them some momentum.


Hastert jumps on the Romney train...

I was surprised to learn during the State of the Union preview that the former-Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert today signed on to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Apparently the former-Massachusetts governor has been courting Congressmen aggressively as he prepares to take on several formidable challengers in the Republican primaries beginning roughly one year from today. Though Hastert no longer wields the same power and influence that he once possessed as the most powerful legislator in the nation, he will always be one of, if not the most respected members of the Republican Party. I would not be surprised to see many other Republicans also join the Romney camp, which should help boost the Governor's campaign as it begins its long up hill battle against front-runners Rudi Giuliani and John McCain.


Saudis may send troops to Iraq...

Google News Related Links

View Comments on Blogcritics.org 150+ already...

A senior White House official says Saudi Arabia would be ready and willing to deploy its own troops into Sunni-dominated areas of Iraq if the Bush Administration plan to crush the insurrection fails, leading to total chaos.

Chaos, indeed, is precisely the direction the Saudi Government see the situation heading - even though it has not yet made an official offer to escalate involvement beyond logistical and political support for the US in the Middle East.

The active Saudi military stands at 200,000 troops. And my only question is: Why wait? This is an alternative the entire world could back. And certainly the new Democratic majority in the US Congress, with all their talk of "US forces standing down and Iraqi forces standing up."

Here's a new development for Congressional leaders to grasp onto - a surprising show of generosity from the one Middle Eastern government most likely to identify with the primary catalyst of current problems: the minority Sunni population in Iraq's western Anbar Province. But in view of far-left rhetoric about the Saudi government during the 2004 election, I doubt the Democrats are willing to embrace the most controversial US ally, especially with the hype of the 2008 election already heating up. I also doubt the Republican Party would support insertion of thousands of Saudi militiamen, though for different reasons.

Republicans, I believe, will be inclined to assert that the Shiite majority in Iraq would most likely lash out violently to purge their country of a foreign military representing a Sunni Muslim state - a valid point on either side of the aisle. However, if the Saudi move has any chance of dampening Sunni-driven violence, does this not outweigh competing concerns?

What think mainstream media?

I have yet to detect mainstream media reaction to the Saudi proposal, but considering the propensity of pundits to blame the Saudis for rising prices at the gas pump, I see no reason to expect much of a reasoned discourse. More likely, the Saudis will find that their extended hand will be bitten off by the liberal-minded American media that would sooner debate why women cannot drive in the Kingdom.

All American administrations recognize the unique relationship we enjoy with the Saudi royal family, and most presidents have maintained an open-door policy with the Kingdom's diplomats. Hopefully, the Administration will not reserve consideration of the reported offer as a last resort, and instead use it as a bargaining chip with other Middle Eastern nations. They should be encouraged to follow their neighbor's example and commit their own troops to a multinational force representing the Arab League. The peacekeeping force representing the African Union in Darfur should be used as a model, and with the tactical support of the American-led coalition. This kind of alliance could lead to a genuine political settlement among now warring factions in Iraq.

Status quo in Middle East: unacceptable

I do not pretend to be an expert on Middle Eastern politics. But I do think the status quo in the region is unsustainable, and without innovative solutions nothing is going to change. Though I think the President is on the right track when he escalates rhetoric about Iranian-backed elements in Iraq, I don't think he has any idea what to actually do to get Iraqis to start settling their internal disputes with the pen rather than sword.

If anything, an insurgence of Saudi troops into the Sunni-dominated regions could broach a new relationship between Americans and the more belligerent elements in Anbar Province. It is still unclear exactly how many troops the Saudi government would be willing to deploy, but I suspect it would defer commitments until consultations and coordination with the Pentagon.

The Saudi government maintains an active military of 200,000 troops, the 25th largest in the world. In term of military spending, the Kingdom spares not a penny. In 2006 they spent roughly $31.25 Billion, or 10% of their GDP, and since 2003 their military spending has ranked 9th in the world as a percentage of GDP. Additionally, the cooperation between the Saudi armed forces and the Pentagon has been hand-in-glove for decades, and in 2005 the Saudis were the number one customer of US supplied weaponry. I suspect that the King and his ministers are willing to spare whatever it takes to insure the stability of its neighbor, and thus its borders. I also think the White House will not be modest in any request they make of the Kingdom to join the coalition.

Perhaps the presence of a fully trained and self-reliant Arab military in Iraq would allow the US to focus on rooting out Iran and leaning on the Shiite government to take control of al-Sadr and his militia, while delegating responsibility for the counter-insurgency to a more qualified arbiter. Many of our current problems, I believe, stem from bearing primary responsibility for all the problems Iraq faces, while the Iraqi government and our allies play back-seat driver. Maybe the Saudi initiative is the key element missing in the equation.


Another site worth checking out: Google Maps Flight Simulator

I just happened upon this flight simulator for Google Maps called Goggles, and though it is short on features, it is absolutely worth checking out whenever you have a moment. All you do is select a starting point and control yourself using the keyboard arrows. There is a limited selection of locations, but the site offers directions on how you can link your hometown to the project. I wish such a feature was available in Google Earth so you could fly between the 3D buildings and have other people that you could have dog fights with, but I can only imagine how much time I would waste playing with such a toy. Chicago isn't linked here yet, but as soon as I have a minute I will put it up. Hope you enjoy.

SpaciaLogic: Web 2.0 Political Style...

So I stumbled upon this link tonight and I was shocked that there is actually a service that offers such comprehensive campaign management information. It is an absolute must use for political coordinators, and for ambitious nerds and political junkies like myself, a lot of useful knowledge when plotting future campaigns. Since I don't have $220 dollars to drop right now, I cannot offer more than just my initial thoughts upon discovering SpaciaLogic, but if anyone out there has a password they would like to share, or when my income reflects the true value of my knowledge, I will definitely give my full review. The potential impact this information has on the future of American politics, as well as any other region of the world where similar services and information are available on the internet, are immeasurable. Data like this has been accumulated in the minds of professional political operatives of previous generations as they suffer the agony of many a campaign both won and lost, and rarely is the information passed along to anyone more than an apprentice. The future of politics is upon us, and it will be up to the politicians to recognize the value of the internet as a tool for more than just raising money.

Castro Condition Grave...

It is reported on the Drudge Report this afternoon that the recently ailing Cuban dictator is now in grave condition, which I assume means the end of the longest reigning government of the 21st century is finally at hand. I reported here two weeks ago that I had heard from "a little bird" from Foggy Bottom that in anticipation of Castro's imminent death the US is working around the clock to negotiate an end to the trade embargo that we have had with the island nation 50 miles off the coast of Florida for decades. The negotiations were broached by Raul Castro, who appears to be far less antagonistic and anti-American than his stubborn brother. I wonder if an announcement is imminent from the Bush Administration, which needs to do something to take the focus off of its most recent announcement of a final offensive in Iran. However, there are many strategic victories that can be won in the first days after Castro's death that will give the US an immediate advantage over Castro's self-appointed successor in the war against the capitalist destruction of modern Communism, Hugo Chavez.

The first thing the US should do is immediately, if not preemptively, drop the travel embargo to the island paradise. Not only will this allow the huge Cuban diaspora in the US return to its country and reclaim their long isolated families and histories, but it will offer a quick and cheap getaway from the recently frigid weather in the middle of the country. Also, we should offer publicly a rapid path to citizenship for any Cubans who wish to emigrate and join their families here in the US, a policy which should also be extended to all American emigrants from the new government of Raul Castro. These, along with a far-reaching bi-lateral trade agreement will do wonders for the future of US and Cuban relations, and could serve as a uniting issue in a Congress (and really a country) which is divided bitterly.


Is it Hill's political savvy or Bill's political puppetry?

Few people have paid notice to the inexplicable absence of Senator Hillary Clinton from the Democratic victory party on Capitol Hill this past week, not to mention the huge media bonanza surrounding the Bush bashing in the committee rooms. I couldn't help but ask myself all week, does she know something everybody else doesn't? Then it occurred to me, she doesn't, but s/he undoubtedly does. So soon we all forget that as an ex-president, Bubba is entitled to complete intelligence briefings everyday, thus making him much more informed than every single member of Congress, except maybe his wife, whom I assume he keeps fully updated so she doesn't say anything stupid.

Hillary had the sense to hightail it out of town when her colleagues stayed to not just grandstand Bill maybe tipping her in on what he is hearing in his daily intelligence briefings. What if she, or more likely he, has read the report? What if s/he is the only senator who has, other than McCain and Lieberman, actually read the report. I suppose that they may have by now, but I doubt they had when they turned up the lights on Thursday morning. Clinton is headed for a photo-op on the front lines, making brief day trips to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, just so she can get back to make a splash on Tuesday. Most likely, she is trying desperately to meet the challenges put forth by Bush Administration officials, Senator John McCain and the entire Fox News crew, which asks the simple question, "Do you have an alternative that is more than rhetoric?" She would be the first to do so, but any major proposals at this point aren't likely to be detailed enough to make much of an impact on the overall debate, but I can guarantee it will be fully vetted and weighed on its merits, which is more respect than Bush and his backers have received from the media thus far.

She has already reignited her previous campaign to send more troops into Afghanistan while in war torn country. These calls are echoed by NATO, and are being spearheaded threw Brussels on the backs of the German Chancellor and the British Prime Minister. One certainty of a Hillary presidency, just as Bush may have been thinking about his father's decision (mistake) to leave Saddam in power, Hillary will stop at no lengths to eradicate Osama bin-Laden and his entourage in the mountains Asia Minor, even if it involves ruffling the feathers of the Pakistanis or the international community. In the words of the recently infamous Sasha Cohen- "Respect"- at least on this position.

Besides the perks of being the former-leader of the free world, Bill Clinton also doubles as a brilliant chameleon with the uncanny ability to gage the swings in the mood of the American voters (which are far more important than the rest of you). Even if s/he doesn't think that Bush's plan is worth giving some time to see how it plays in Iraq (as it appears s/he doesn't), she will be able to go through her tour and come back with the most credible argument against the "surge", particularly since her colleagues have all gone on the record and established positions in the media. My guess is she will probably talk out of both sides of her mouth very effectively, knowing that she is must regain some of the anti-war, bring the troops home crowd if she is going to compete in the primary, but she also needs to avoid turning off too many soccer moms who associate her with thoughts of Barbara Boxer or Nancy Pelosi, who rarely put much thought into the words they speak, but try their best (which is shameful) to emulate the Hillary-style of empowered female progressive.

It is amazing, nobody has seen it yet, but I have. They are all talking about the Democratic swing and they are going to come out of this week looking like amateurish, uninformed pontificators. So much for their hundred hours, most of the legislation they have passed through this week was poorly scripted as a consequence of insufficient oversight and debate. So far Hillary has avoided the limelight and let her competition dictate the debate, but she will have credibility and her husband's security clearance to her advantage. Things are looking good for the Senator from New York, but we still have a long way to go...

Bush authorizes offensive against Iranian networks; is a larger strategy emerging? Let's hope so...

Bush and Rice dropped a bombshell today, admitting that the offensive against Iranian elements in Iraq is now several months old, a realization that, in my opinion, only gives greater credibility to Bush's assertions of Iranian meddling. This the day after hearing reaction from the president's speech which now puts the democrats in the position of having to defend what now looks like an uninformed posturing. They may actually end up looking childish, as long as the American people are willing to believe Bush is serious when he makes accusations and levels consequences on Amedine-jihad's doorstep. Guess what Senator Nelson, they were keeping you out of the loop because they knew you were reckless enough to manipulate issues for national security for political purposes and they didn't want to create the impression of an Iranian confrontation without understanding the playing field. If Bush had been supported universally by the Republican members of the Senate, I honestly don' t think he would have even exposed the operation at all. Truth is, Bush has always listed Iran at the top of his list of enemies. I really think Bush pulled the ace out of his pocket here, at least politically speaking. Sounds like classic Karl Rove to me.

It is outright embarrassing to hear how the president has made progress recently with in the diplomatic and legal fronts against the Iranians, as Howard Dean sheepishly admitted on Chris Matthews, or to hear young, bumbling freshman Congressmen talk about how Iran is our greatest enemy and should be our number one focus, but on substance there was nothing. Only sophomoric rhetoric stating that the Iranians are still years away from developing a nuke (we think) and it should be left to the next Administration (presumably a Dem) to deal with the threat of a nuclear armed Iran. Oh yeah, but first we need to pull our military completely out of the country that borders Iran (maybe the most ideal strategic position), bring them back home to their families for a few years, and then we can send them back to start from scratch when the Iranians decide to press full steam ahead because they no longer face the threat of military retaliation. Pretty soon this logical blunder and political failure will become obvious, or at least I hope.

As fascinating as the last three days have been, the best is undoubtedly yet to come. If this strategy is implemented properly, I think we are going to the streets with 400,000 American marines, trained to roll Baghdad over, and the rules of engagement have been tossed to the curb. I understand the Secretary Gates indicated that the surge in Iraqi troops will be 'phased' over the next six months, but after three years of training I suspect we should have high hopes for the quality of performance. Civil Wars should not be allowed to fester, they should be won and the country should be restored to the order it was given by the voters of Iraq. I foresee a whole bunch of ass-whooping, and I think the Iranians are unlikely to take it well. On his heels after setbacks in local elections, Amadine-jihad is going to likely be provoked to try to persuade the Ayatollahs that offense is their best defense, and our fate is in the hands of the 9th profit and the Persian Muslim rebirth fantasy which believes (maybe) but more importantly has convinced millions of its young citizens to join the martyr's brigade, akin to the Japanese kamakazi pilots. That is one long sentence, but it is also one helluva scary situation.

What has been the most shocking aspect of the whole week, at least to me, is the efforts of the press to pro-actively rally the cause for the politicians who are hootin' and hollarin'. The "Bill O'Reilly Effect" on the prime time media has inspired all of the finger-pointers on the left, who wanted to brand the top-rated cable news host a right-wing hack, too abandon their translucent veils of impartiality, and now Bill O'Reilly really might be the most "fair and balanced" pundit on television.

What if the capitalist revolution has reached its climax. Why don't we talk about the economy, the shrinking deficit , the record closings three times a week for a month on Wall Street . If this is what is to emerge from the recent midst of Washington posturing and intellectual opportunism amongst the major media distributions and pundits, I find it highly unlikely the noise is going to calm and give Bush an inch anytime soon. This leaves many questions about who is posturing themselves where today, literally, for 2008. These next two weeks will tell you who is going to win. S/he quick out of the gate, Guiliani and McCain put all their chips on Bush, and Dems put theirs on Pelosi. SMACK THAT BITCH UP.

There aren't many true believers in Bush left out there, for one reason or another, and the country is trending toward a dangerous Clintonian ignorance of what a world embroiled in a war against terrorism would look like if we walk away after its only super-power failed to give the effort and make the sacrifices we have made in previous commitments, such as in Japan, Western and Eastern Europe and South Korea. Instead we have been subdued by the same pussy-footing that inspired the incredibly disastrous decision to leave Somalia after two helicopters and a couple dozen Marines were killed, which resulted in a Somalian state frozen in a state of uncertainty and a haven for terrorists. I wish Bush was a bit more articulate, but thankfully, responsibility for carrying the torch is soon to be passed to more able orators as anticipation of 2008 heats up.


NFL Rookie of the Year Nomination...

I have tried to avoid sports related posts on this site, but as I sit here watching the Bears play Seattle in the the NFC Divisional Series and I just can't resist. I love the Bears. My grandpa has had season tickets since the 1960's when the Bears played at Wrigley Field, and I normally wouldn't be watching on tv (but somehow my cousins boyfriend hijacked my ticket). Anyway, my girlfriend isn't much of a football fan and she was wondering why the Seahawks are so afraid to kick the ball to Devin Hester and I have attempted to explain to her that 'Anytime' strikes fear in the hearts of special teams units from the ACC to the NFL. Considering he has broken not one, but two NFL records this season; most returns for touchdowns this season (6) and longest play in NFL history (108.6 yards or so). In my opinion he is the rookie of the year, and I hope he isn't left out of consideration because he is just a Special Teamer. Anyone who disagrees should check out these highlights. Bear Down!


Responding to the pathetic response to Bush's speech in the media and on the Hill

George W. Bush has clearly evolved in his approach to winning the war in Iraq, and it seems that an escalation in the war against Middle Eastern radicalism is at hand. Listening to the media and Congress react to the speech delivered by the president from the White House last night has confirmed my long suspicions that the Administration is ready to take the Iranian issue to the next level. As I see it on MSNBC siting here now, with Joe Scarborough, Joe Klein, Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews already turning the scare machine up to full volume. At least Buchanan is level-headed, admitting that such a radical policy change is bound to prove effective either quickly, or not at all. For Klein to call the address the biggest blunder he has ever seen in his 35-years of covering politics is absolutely ridiculous, and clearly he is not a very deep thinker on matters of military strategy. I know you are probably going to call me a chicken hawk, or you think I am unqualified to comment, but Joe Klein's ignorance has without question given every armchair general across the country a position worth 5 minutes on Scarborough Country. For the host's part, he did a great job of reminding the viewers that the US military invaded Iran by default when it raided their countries consulate in Northern Iraq, without once recognizing the Administration and military's shared opinion that the enemies of the coalition are being financed and logistically supported by the Iranian government. Bush has never pretended that he views the Iranian government as anything other than pure evil, a terrorist state, and I have never heard a credible refutation of that assertion. I think it is unlikely that, as the pundits seem to be implying, the administration is only putting pressure on the Iranians to divert attention from the failure that is Iraq, but rather I believe that Bush has always held viewed the Iranians as the greatest challenge to America's interests in the Middle East. To this point, the president has employed the very same diplomatic and multi-lateral methods so vehemently asserted as a better alternative to war with Saddam, and the Iranian response has been to simply reject the will of the "world community" and our "European allies". It only seems appropriate that the president respond to the to defiance by taking measures to protect against the threats posed by a defiant terrorist state, which has been supporting terrorist attacks that have killed scores of US troops.

I must give Klein a bit of credit, he closed well, reiterating almost verbatim one aspect of the proposal I put forth earlier this week, that the US pull out of Baghdad and into the mountains and desert regions, so as to allow the Iraqi military (now some 220,000 strong and fully trained) cut the head off of any civil war that foments in the vacuum that is created following troop redeployment. But I have heard very little reasoned analysis tonight, instead hearing little more than pompous opportunism by pundits who are more concerned with what the polls say than what the military and Bush Administration have presented as the facts on the ground. I have been thinking quite a bit about the current state of political discourse, particularly in Washington in modern times, and I have been hoping to write a post dedicated to the topic, but from the first minute the thought occurred to me I new that it would be entitled The Age of Opportunism. There is no word more suited to characterizing the reckless, self-inflated and shock driven personalities that currently inhabit what is popularly known as the "mainstream media". Though it took nearly six years to hack away at Bush, whom they so obviously view with a disdain and sense of intellectual superiority, they have finally succeeded at melting the brains of enough American's to aid in the emergence of a more progressive political order that shares their snobbish perspective on the current president and his policies. It is almost impossible to even watch prime time cable news anymore, with a few exceptional exceptions, because it increasingly feels like either a evangelical infomercial or a goom-by-a peace rally.

It appears as if the American embassy has come under attack tonight in Athens, and I can't help but wonder- is this Hezbollah striking back at the US for today's raid on their consulate? My suspicion is yes, but I doubt it will be fully understood soon enough for it to even have any bearing on the debate, but I also suspect this is far from the end. If today's raid on what is technically Iranian territory and the air strikes against terrorist elements in Somalia don't signal a very serious, and focused escalation of the war against global extremism and terrorists, I am at a loss for what exactly would. It has been difficult to sit-by and watch the president squirm in the run-up to and the aftermath of the November election, but the fact that he only accepted Rumsfeld's resignation the day after election day and waited until the new Congress was seated before announcing his new policy, is indication that he is a man driven by principles that are largely unheard of in the deeply partisan legislature.

I realize that I may sound irrational in my ranting, but I am absolutely amazed by the utter rejection of everything Bush proposed as empty, misguided rhetoric. Last time I checked, the executive branch made and implemented foreign policy, so the disregard for deference, in my opinion, is nothing more than another indication that politicians are more driven by opportunism than by finding solutions to our problems. I distinctively heard the president challenge the Democrats to propose an alternative, detailed policy for winning in Iraq. Where in all of the pontificating today did we hear such a proposal? That is absolutely right, we didn't, but were rather fed crap talking points about "seeking a new course" or a "new way forward".

In my mind, several questions are now unavoidable and should have been seriously addressed in the committee hearings that were so effectively hijacked by presidential hopefuls this afternoon. Most obviously, are we headed into another invasion of a large, hostile Middle Eastern country? Are we prepared to do whatever it takes to eliminate the Iranian nuclear program? What type of involvement have the Iranians had in supporting and cultivating the chaos in Iraq? What do we do if the Iranians strike first? Where do I sign up for a machine gun and a plane ticket to Tehran?


A real strategy for victory in Iraq...

I have thought long and hard about the best options available to the coalition forces as they attempt to combat a seemingly unrelenting terrorist insurgency, which has fomented sectarian strife and successfully (though ironically) won the "hearts and minds" of American voters, as evidenced by the results of the recent midterm elections and daily public opinion polls. My opinion of the US-led effort to date is more favorable than most, but it is hard not to notice the opportunistic undertones in many of the recent converts to the anti-war bandwagon. Unfortunately, because of unforeseeable consequences of US post-war policy, the situation has become impossible to rationalize through the media and the Administration is likely to face growing opposition unless it can take radical and innovative steps toward achieving a viable long-term solution to the violence that has ravaged Iraq. At the same time, it is essential for and change in military strategy to take on the increasingly bold regime in Iran, which has decided to defy international consensus and press forward with its nuclear program, not to mention the constant infiltration of suicide bombers and arms the country has been supplying the Iraq insurgency.

The most important goal of the the coalition should be to figure out how the fledgling Iraqi military could most effectively take over control in major urban areas. I have concluded that the most practical and potentially effective option would be a two phase redeployment of forces. First, the Iraqi police forces should be tasked with rounding up every single male Iraqi over the age of 16 in the areas of Iraq that have seen the most terrorist activity, and then they should release them slowly after each has been given a thorough background check. A story I have recently read in Forbes suggests that this is exactly the type of strategy that the coalition is now considering. The second phase of my strategy would have the US forces still in the Baghdad area pull out completely, along with all other coalition forces, and set up new bases along the border with Iran and Syria, where most of the terrorists are infiltrating the country.

There are several potential political and military victories that could be achieved by employing such a strategy. First, if the Democrats hold true to their previous political tactics, they will predictably oppose such a radical change in tactics, likely invoking Iraqi civil rights in a pathetic attempt to stand against Bush at all costs. I doubt very much that such an argument would carry much favor with the American people, so by taking this seemingly radical step, Bush could reshape the debate here at home and put his party back in the position of being the most trusted on the issue of combating terrorism.

Another potential benefit is that by realigning the American presence in the war torn country, the president can effectively argue that his policy is focused on reducing the military's presence over the long term. It would be logical to assume that fewer troops would be needed to patrol the Iraq's borders than are currently needed to patrol the streets of Baghdad. Additionally, by increasing the US presence in the northern regions of the country the unspoken message sent to Tehran will be unmistakable. I am not a fan of the so-called McCain Doctrine, or the troop surge which the White House has been floating in the media recently as the centerpiece of their strategy adjustment. Having recently deployed another aircraft carrier to the Gulf, the White House has shown it is serious about putting Iran on notice that it won't put up with its defiant posturing for very much longer.

I don't think that I have all of the answers, but at least I am attempting to come up with an innovative solution to the problems facing our forces in Iraq. I hope the ideas put forth in this article will spur similar thought and critical analysis from those of you who are as interested as I in finding a realistic policy option that will help us win the war against terrorism.

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Bravo Congressman Ellison, Bravo...

Rep. Ellison to be sworn in on Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of Koran

In an absolutely marvelous and well-orchestrated political maneuver, Congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) has announced that he will place his left hand on Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the Koran when he is sworn in tomorrow. Clearly a shrewd fellow, Mr. Ellison (the first Muslim elected to federal office in US history) seems to have a very bright career in the House of Representatives ahead of him, though he also arguably has the largest burden to bear among the 432 member delegation, as the sole voice representing a faith that has become deeply misunderstood.

In recent comments issued in a public letter responding to Ellison's announcement that he would be the first American Congressman sworn-in using the Koran, Virginia Congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA) felt it was his place to issue a public statement that asserted more than half of his constituents would much prefer the freshman Congressman use a Bible, going further to not-so-vaguely assert that it is dangerous for Muslims to be elected to Congress (comments which I have wrote about both here and here). I won't give the gentleman from Virginia's comments anymore attention here than to say once more, he is an embarrassment to every Republican in the country and the party should have repudiated them from day one.

Interestingly, Congressman Goode represents Thomas Jefferson's birthplace of Albemarle County and was unavailable for comment when asked about Ellison's use of his district's favorite son's Koran during Thursday's ceremonies. My guess is that it took several hours for his staffers to convince him that Thomas Jefferson did in fact possess some of the intellectual curiosity that has seemingly been lost on him. I guess the only conclusion I can come to is that Virginia don't raise 'em like they used to. But in today's intellectually-deficient political culture I don't think a man of Jefferson's capabilities would have had much of a taste for the political life.

Is the sun finally setting on Castro's Cuba...

A little bird has told me that the State Department is aggressively negotiating with the Cuban government of Raul Castro, the younger brother of ailing Communist dictator Fidel Castro. As I hear it, Fidel's days are numbered with his long-anticipated demise weeks/months away, and the Bush Administration hopes to take advantage of the inevitable power vacuum that will emerge. Reports as early as this morning have placed the ailing leader in a hospital across the Atlantic in Spain, which one would assume is not a sign of his good-fortune. So is the Cuban Isle going capitalist? I think it is too early to say, but few think that Raul is as hardened in his rejection of the West he has always been perceived to lack his brother's ruthless nature.

I am currently reading Bobby Kennedy: His Life by Evan Thomas, and the most striking thing about the entire book (besides Thomas' apologist approach to the historical record) is Bobby Kennedy's almost manic obsession with destroying Fidel Castro. Throughout his brother's tenure in the oval office the former-Attorney General is literally knee-deep in various CIA-concocted schemes for offing the communist revolutionary, each of which he carefully studied and all of which he dismissed before anything actionable could materialize. With Castro still alive and kicking (barely) it seems almost improbable that the greatest nemesis of America's "princes" would live to see the 21st century and beyond, and not so much as a hair on his head has been disturbed by anything other than a dozens of filthy Cuban prostitutes. I doubt we will see the end of Castro in the immediate future, but his days are certainly numbered and the future of Cuban is coming into focus on the geopolitical horizon. The Bush Administration seems to be well prepared for whatever the case may be, and I have no doubt that my children will spend their spring breaks getting hammered in Havana. However, any failure to affect serious and irreversible economic and political change on the island by utilizing the many-thousands of very wealthy, well-educated and culturally nostalgic Cuban refugees living here in the United States (the same group that failed to deliver for the Kennedy brothers) would be an even greater political failure than any of our actions thus far in the Middle East will ever be judged. Victory in Cuba (even if by default) is indispensable, but until Fidel is gone, the day is his, he has always had out number.

Once struggling Panda has fertile year in China...

30 Panda's Born in '06

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Because they are without equal in the world of things that are cute, cuddly and generally impossible not to love, I thought I would send out a congratulations to the thriving Panda population in China, which has added steadily to it captive population since the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to stop poaching and preserve the bear's natural habitat. Once thought on the verge of annihilation, Panda's are no longer spoken of as if a lost cause. The complicated and delicate birthing of a Panda cub (newest newborns pictured on left) was a difficult procedure for Chinese zoologists and veterinarians to master. But after years of trial and tribulation, all of the hard work and investment put forward in one last ditch effort to save the lovable Asian bear payed off and the world need not fear losing its Panda any time soon. The Chinese now have 217 total Pandas that are considered healthy in captivity, with 30 of those born just this year.


Was Chicago visited by a UFO?

In the sky! A bird? A plane? A...UFO?-- Chicago Tribune

People all over the world are constantly witnessing what they believe to be visits by extraterrestrial spacecraft, but rarely is are there more than a few corroborating witnesses, and the claims are usually dismissed by authorities as optical allusions. However, one such event which took place in the Chicagoland area recently has received quite a bit of local attention and has already prompted both United Airlines and the FAA to change their official position on the events that transpired on that hazy night over Chicago.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune over the weekend, as many as a dozen United airlines employees that were spread through the airlines' vast global headquarters located at O'Hare airport, an unusual object was seen hovering roughly 1,500 feet above Concourse C for several minutes before rapidly ascending straight upward, cutting a "hole" in the thick atmosphere which billowed over the airfield at the time. Apparently nobody in the control tower witnessed the event, and the official FAA account of the event classifies it as a "weather phenomenon", but according to the Tribune, it has spoken with several of the witnesses on condition of anonymity and clearly it has concluded that the incident deserves greater public attention and official scrutiny. In fact, one of the witnesses was so emotionally shaken that she has apparently experienced some "religious issues".

I am generally of the opinion that until I have my own encounter with a UFO, I am inclined to dismiss those that are taken seriously, or at least given public attention, as the product of psychedelic hallucinogens or just pathetic attempts to get a little bit of attention. However, because all of the United employees that the Tribune interviewed spoke under condition of anonymity, and because the FAA and United were willing to compromise their credibility by lying to the Tribune when first contacted regarding the official record of events, I think this event deserves to be investigated thoroughly. I believe that these employees saw "something", and I also believe that the airline and the federal authorities would prefer to avoid having to figure out exactly what that "something" was, but as long as the Tribune aggressively pursues the story I do not doubt we will have an official explanation of an inexplicable anomaly sooner rather than later.