Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Pat Tillman Update

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan ( for the link to a December 22nd story on Pat Tillman in the online edition of the Airzona Republic: Pat Tillman Visits AZ Cardinals in Seattle

Tillman was Sullivan's "Hero of the Year" for 2002, and the impetus for the AZCentral item was Tillman's first visit to the Arizona Cardinals since he (and his brother, Keith) enlisted in the Army following the September 11th terrorist attacks. The Cardinals were in Seattle to play the Sea Hawks, and Tillman (between stints in Operation Iraqi Freedom) is currently stationed at nearby Ft. Lewis.

As you may remember from my entry below, some of Tillman's teammates didn't see Tillman's enlistment for the quietly dignified and heroic act it was. I'm glad to report that two years later, support for Tillman's sacrifice is evident. Quoth Cardinals' safety Adrian Wilson:

"He did a great thing for our country," safety Adrian Wilson said. "I was real surprised to see him. I didn't know he was back (in the United States) until I saw him (Sunday) morning. It was nice talking to him."

Yo Adrian! (Forgive me the cheesy shout-out, but I couldn't resist!) I love ya!

Friday, December 19, 2003

Wolf to Investigate Slayings at Henhouse

Wolf to Investigate Slayings at Henhouse
In a follow-up to my post of October 15th "Gaza Strip Blast Kills 3 Americans", Israel Law Center Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner has informed Attorney General John Ashcroft (via the website for the Independent Media Research Center) that the lead investigator assigned to the case by the Palestinian-Authority is in fact the likely perpetrator of the crime.

“It is a disgraceful that the individual assigned by the Palestinian Authority to investigate the murders of Branchizio, Linde and Parsons is himself a leading terrorist suspected of numerous other roadside bombings in Gaza. If the United States is sincere about making arrests then it must not tolerate Rashid Abu Shabak heading up this crucial inquiry. The similarities between the October 15th roadside bombing and the roadside bombing of the Kfar Darom school bus in November 2000 cannot be ignored. We urge the Department of Justice to initiate its own investigation of Abu Shabak and his role in prior Gaza terror attacks, some of which have seriously injured American citizens.” ...

As Charles often says "Lovely people. Let's give them a state!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

To Be Filed Under: Meow!

Why I Think Little of Madeleine Albright

"Do you suppose the Bush administration has Osama bin Laden hidden away somewhere and will bring him out before the election?"

-Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Fox News Green Room conversation with Morton Kondrake

Goodness, Madeleine - bitter much? And since when is 10 months prior to an elelection capitalizing on same? Although, in Maddy's defense, former President Clinton lived to campaign, perhaps we ought not blame his former Secretary of State for thinking 10 months prior to be the closing stretch.

Madeleine Albright (she of the inherently misnomerous surname) is wildly popular among many of my female friends. They blithely regard her as model of mentorship and a master practitioner of statecraft (largely based on her historical status, as well as this money quote from her recent appearance at a Council on Foreign Realtions brunch here in Chicago: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women" ... way to pander to the chicks, Madeleine).

Frankly, the esteem in which she is held in has always been a bit of a mystery to me. When she became the first female SecState, I was keen to give her the benefit of the doubt. However, her modus operandi of reacting to worldwide crises, rather than promoting American interests in a proactive manner, led me to believe that my faith in her was not to be realized. The quote above, made yesterday, clearly shows her to be cravenly opportunistic and cynical, a true Clintonian-democrat of the first order. Gone are the days where former administration officials sublimated personal opinion and opportunism in order to project a united front. Evidently, Ms. Albright cares not for what is in America's best interests, especially when a political three-pointer can be scored against the opposing team.

It's women like Madeleine Albright that make me look a little closer at women running for political office, rather than electing them to office simply because we need female representation in the three branches of our government. Would that my freinds did the same.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Christopher Hitchens on Saddam's Capture

Christopher Hitchens on Saddam's Capture

Christopher Hitchens (known to UK readers for his columns in The Spectator and the tabloid Daily Mail, and US readers for his bi-monthly column in Vanity Fair) has penned a must-read column on the capture of Saddam Hussein, and how it marks the end of a regime so brutal, it is unimaginable to those of us fortunate enough to have lived in secular Western culture: Chrsitopher Hitchens on Saddam's Capture

Kanan Makiya's brilliant profile of Ba'ath Party rule, The Republic of Fear, had a title that was, if anything, understated. In Baghdad in the old days, I knew people who said you could smell the fear. Others said no, you could taste it. The one who came closest said you could actually eat it.

Just the mention of the name was enough to bring a look into the eyes of almost any Iraqi: the look of a broken dog that is once again shown the whip. This is why I can't stand those who refer with a sneer to the courageous Iraqi opposition as "exiles".

It's a brilliant essay that truly makes one feel, albeit vicariously, the oppressive fear that permeated every aspect of Iraqi life. While I agree with the overall tenor and point of Hitchens' piece, I can't embrace his categorization of Iraqi exiles. Formenting change in from inside Iraq was a near impossibility; after all, those who possessed the courage to challenge the Ba'athist tyrants were dragged away and tortured before being executed without trial.

I've often wanted to ask those persons who identify themselves as civil libertarians as well as anti-Bush's "Unjust War" how they reconcile the inherent dichotomy of Hussein's actions to suppress all dissent under penalty of dismemberment or even death with the fact that today's Iraqis, while enduring the chaos that comes with the last desperate acts of self-preservation among Saddam's disposessed power-base, have at their disposal the tools and resources to create a more liberated society than could have existed prior to this war? I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a common-sense answer to this question, as introspection, not to mention common sense, is often absent from their emotion- & ideology-fuelled hatred of anything our President does.

I think I may have found my life's purpose ...

I think I may have found my life's purpose ...

Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, lol! Quite frankly, I would love to be a GOP Babe of the Week. Granted, a few pseudo-Babes are included in the list (Shannen Doherty, ewww), but this week's choice is Elizabeth Hasselbeck, new to ABC's "The View". It's good to know at least one of the hosts of that show possesses a modicum of common sense.

GOP Babe of This Week: Elisabeth Hasselbeck; Someday: Me!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Allow Me To Aquaint You With One of My Heros

The NFL's Lonely Hero: By Paul Beston

In Decmber 4th's online edition of The American Spectator, writer Paul Beston has reminded me of the guise in which you will find true heroism, pure valor and plain-speaking patriotism. Many of us may have, for lack of a better expression, forgotten about former NFL player Pat Tillman. A starting strong safety for the Arizona Cardinals, Tillman left the cardinals at the conclusion of the 2001 football season and enlisted straightaway in the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment. He and his brother, Kevin, enlisted at the same time and are both currently serving somewhere in the Middle East. The article doesn't interview Tillman; gaining access to him would likely be impossible. Even if the most intrepid reporter attempted to do so, in all likelihood Tillman would refuse to highlight himself. There's too much to do, and interviews are a silly distraction. As Beston writes, "Apparently determined that their endeavor not be construed as self-aggrandizing or insincere, they have simply done what they said they would do -- leave behind the fantasy world of sports to serve their country."

It would be a remarkable story in any time, but in a more cynical age it is nothing short of breathtaking. Imagine a 26-year old American male, talented enough to play in the National Football League and earn millions of dollars, leaving because he felt he had more important things to do. What could be more important than riches and fame? Why sacrifice when our culture so often portrays sacrifice as the preserve of misfits and losers? For many observers, Tillman's decision had to have an explanation more rational, and less abstract, than mere nobility.

Not that the NFL's resident thugs "get" guys like Tillman. Simeon Rice, Tillman's former teammate at Arizona, posited that Tillman's decision was based more on a lack of talent than a sense of duty. More recently, Rice (perhaps realizing the folly of his earlier statement?) clarified his gaffe, saying Tillman's motivation was "admirable", and likely inspired by ...

"Maybe it was the Rambo movies?" he asked. "Maybe it's Sylvester Stallone and Rocky?"

I kid you not. While that statement is likely to boil your blood, the rest of Beston's essay is truly inspiring, and will remind you of what constitutes heroes. We need a reminder that heroism involves courage, stamina, iron will, and above all, sacrifice. The Tillman brothers, and many lesser known individuals who serve in the ongoing War on Terror, embody these qualities. Actors, sports stars, musicians, writers, journalists, and activists are merely entertainers and aparatchiks, and when it comes to lasting impact they are as ephemeral as the smokey haze in a run-down bar.

While many of us spend our Sundays worshipping gridiron heroes like Rice (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and are able to cite their playfield heroics with enthusiasm, people like Pat Tillman are out there, in places where there are no sideline air conditioners, heated benches or catered skyboxes. They're slogging through sandstorms, demining village soccer pitches, and patrolling in neighborhoods where Fedayeen Sadaam and Taliban sympathizers lurk in the shadows. You will not find heroes hot-footing it to the goal line, shaking their booties, and retiring to gentlemen's clubs to celebrate.

It's no wonder the NFL, and us, have forgotten about Pat Tillman.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Wilson & Wife's Idea of "Going Undercover"

It's been a while since former ambassador Joseph Wilson lashed out at the Bush administration after columnist Robert Novak "outing" of his wife, Valerie Plame. In Novak's column, a "senior White House staff member" named Plame as a CIA field agent: Robert Novak's Column of 14 July 2003. At the time, Novak did not directly name or divulge the location of his source, and Novak has since denied Wilson's assertions that a White House staff member had leaked the story. Not that any of this matters to Wilson & WifeRobert Novak's Column of 1 October 2003

Former ambassador Wilson, obviously upset at no longer being a member of DC's "Those That Matter" club, has up 'til now claimed that his wife "would rather cut off her arm at the elbow" than be exposed for her activities while undercover. Valerie Plame, an attractive forty-something blonde mother of young twins, was a member of the recent CIA team that went to Lagos, Nigeria to either substantiate or disprove the story that Nigeria had supplied yellowcake uranium to Al Qaeda via Iraq (President Bush subsequently claimed in a State of the Union address that such activities warranted the invasion of Baghdad and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein). To be sure, I was immediately skeptical of Valerie Plame's extra-curricular activities - how many mothers of twin toddlers do you know who have the wherewithal to work international covert investigations? "Alias" spy Sidney Bristow must surely feel inadequate at the thought!

If Plame was indeed an active field agent during the not-so-recent past, how does one explain today's revelation (props to Drudge) that Wilson & Wife were photographed for an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair?
CIA Agent Valerie Plame Goes Undercover In Vanity Fair Allow me to "Fisk" (props to LGF) this story:

"My wife has made it very clear that -- she has authorized me to say this -- she would rather chop off her right arm than say anything to the press and she will not allow herself to be photographed," he declared in October on "Meet the Press."

Fair enough, if a bit overwrought in metaphor. There are really risks to those working in the field in the War on Terror. I fail to see how Plame was anything less than tangential in her role (considering the aversion of many Islamists to deal with women, let alone involve them in the upper ecehlons of the decision-making apparatus), but let's run with this for the sake of Wilson's testimony:

But that was before Vanity Fair came calling ... (t)he January issue features a two-page photo of Wilson and the woman the magazine calls "the most famous female spy in America," a "slim 40-year-old with white-blond hair and a big, bright smile." They are sitting in their Jaguar. Plame is wearing a scarf and big glasses, which just adds to the aura of mystery. In a second shot on their terrace at the couple's home near Georgetown, she holds a newspaper in front of her face.

As if in defense of Plame's seemingly dunderheaded decision to appear in the Hollywood ragsheet, Rob Bienner, who shot the snaps, said "... Plame was not originally scheduled to participate in the Nov. 8 shoot, but agreed to join her husband once 'she felt suitably disguised'."

Her teddibly, teddibly gallant husband adds:

"The pictures should not be able to identify her, or are not supposed to," Wilson said yesterday. "She's still not going to answer any questions and there will not be any pictures that compromise her." The reason, said Wilson, is that "she's still employed" by the CIA "and has obligations to her employer."

Right. I'll surmise that the only professional obligation Plame has to CIA is to drive a desk at Langley. Any "agent" who allows her husband to continue to talk about how her privacy and ability to ply her trade have been invaded, and allowing herself to be advised to pose for pictures such as those to appear in VF, could hardly be trusted to any peruse any file above the status of vending machine resupply. It cannot be said that Wilson & Plame have done anything to redeem Plame's professional reputation, such as assuming a lower profile; on the contrary:

It's not that Plame has dropped out of sight. In October, as Vanity Fair notes, she was at the National Press Club -- wearing a "sharp cream pantsuit" -- while her husband received a truth-telling award. Wilson wept from the podium, saying, "If I could give you back your anonymity . . ." and then introduced Plame, who also teared up.

Oh the humanity. Would I be engaging in schadenfreude by pointing out the guilty-ridden subtext of Wilson's tearful declaration?

Plame also mingled unobtrusively last month at a party at the home of The Washington Post's Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn. But there has been an invisible bubble around her as reporters have respected the desire of "Jane Bond," as Wilson calls her, to remain in the Washington shadows.

It's good to know that the "reporters" noted above are doing their jobs! Perhaps it just me, but Wilson's continuance of the alias "Jane Bond" is more telling than any other detail of the Post's story.

I'll grant you that my bias on this story is clear; but in light of this particular comment, I'd venture to guess that Wilson, and not some senior Bush official, was the "source" of the Novak story. It's just too obvious who's getting the most of this scandal, and it's Wilson first and Plame second. Call it a "folie a deux", but most CIA staffers lead a quiet, unassuming life. Their neighbors (and often times their spouse) never know what it is they really do, and this serves both agent and agency well. In the age of the "instant book deal" and "reality TV" it begs mention that Wilson is pursuing a book deal, where he promises to reveal more than simply his wife's 'ordeal'. Quel surprise!

Wilson notes that his family must "make compromises to maintain Plame's privacy. We are not going into seclusion," he said. "We're not going to hide the fact that we live in this town, we go out to dinner and drive cars and parent our kids."

Oh puh-leeze! A return to normal life (and it's concurrent anonymity)is the last thing Wilson & Wife want. Perhaps they might find a place for themselves in Hollywood?

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Continuing Crisis

Yesterday's bombing of the HSBC headquarters and the British Consulate in Istanbul left me saddened, and as I read the initial opinions stated (on the Beeb's website) in this morning's "Having Your Say" topic on the Beeb's website (Thoughts on Istanbul Suicide Bombers), I worry about those well-meaning but ultimately idiotarian anglos who think that if you just take the time to piously examine and humbly address the root causes of Islamist resentment, all these pesky, inconvenient attacks would cease and "peace" would rule the day. If it were that simple, folks, these attacks would have long since ended the moment Bill Clinton and friends assumed the executive branch. That and the nefarious dictatorship of North Korea would be singing "Kumbaya" around permanently dismantled nuclear reactors.

As If!

In attempting to be inclusive in their thinking, these naive people commit the gravest error of politically correct thinking: they apply Western standards to non-Western peoples.

Addressing "root causes" is the current obsession of the anti-war Left, and will be their undoing. Islamist extremists are not concerned with root causes - nowhere in the Koran is there any allusion to root causes. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups may pander to Western sensibilities in claiming that "bias towards Israel" and "double standards" form the core of their discontent. Former US President Bill Clinton and former Israeli PM Ehud Barak gave Yasser Arafat a more-than-generous settlement in the Wye Valley Accords, and Arafat turned them down flat. Once again, America, Britain and Israel were thwarted in their efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, and no amount of attention to the root causes of Palestinian discontent would change that fact.

While we dither over "root causes", the Islamic world continues to fester in its' hatred of all things secular and inclusive, and has addled Western thinking in its' deft manipulation of our desire to make up for the supposed wrongs of our foreign policies. This combined with strict adherence to the more violent and xenophobic tenets of the Koran has led us to where we are today, and it is foolhardy to assume that if we were somehow 'kinder' or more considerate towards countries that support terrorism, groups like Hamas, Al Qaeda and Abu Sayaf would lay down their guns and embrace peace.

This war will only be won when we think like they do, not as they would want us to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

"Welcome to the Hotel Palestornia"

Gaza Strip Blast Kills 3 Americans

US Diplomats were in the PA-controlled territories to interview Palestinian Rhodes Scholar candidates

Diplomats Killed in Gaza

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax, ' said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

I know this is a big leap from the normal tenor of this blog, but one must step outside of their own petty obsessions once in a while and pay attention to what counts, and it ain't the Chicago Cubs, believe me.

I'm beginning to think that the PA-controlled territories (I refuse to consider the idea of "Palestine" any more), are the nation-state equivalent of The Eagles' "Hotel California".

Let me sound out some of the similarities ...

If you happen to hint that you support a peace agreement with Israel, you will meet with an 'accident'. If you happen to survive said attack, your Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades countrymen will burst into your hospital room and assisinate you in your bed.

If you refuse to participate in terror attacks or their resulting celebrations, as on September 11th, you will be labelled a traitor to your homeland and you and your family will live (if one can call it that) under constant threat.

If you aspire to matriculate (legitimately or otherwise) as a Fulbright Scholar, you will find it impossible to do so as those who award these scholarships will be blown to bits whilst trying to facilitate your interview.

As much as I disagree with the tenor of how and to whom international Scholarships are awarded (the Rhodes committee did, after all, choose Chesa Boudin -- son of until-recently imprisoned Weather Underground terrorist and cop-killer Kathy Boudin -- as a 2003 recipient - Emily Yoffee's "Radical Chic"), I am certain that these three diplomats were one of the few chances these young Palestinians had to get out of that self-begotten hellhole, and what their potential saviors received for their efforts was a pre-emptive liaison with eternity.

I understand that there may be fear on the part of some Palestinians to work towards an overthrow of the Arafat Regime (and yes, Howard Dean, you read that correctly); however, there is no excuse for tacit participation in the negation of any proposal for peace. This is what you engender when you keep silent and allow the intifada, a sure component of global jihad, to continue. This is what Arafat and the Palestinian Authority has saddled you with, and this time your complicit silence may have spurned any chance your children and grandchildren have to escape the fate you have created for them.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Lust Is In The Air, Every Time I Look Around ...

What is it with men? When I'm single, you're indifferent, but when I'm taken, I'm like honey for the bees?

I recently started going out with a really amazing guy. Handsome, self-assured, well-spoken and yet thoroughly devoid of that strutting, cocky vibe that can be so off-putting. A part of me is wondering when the bloom will fade, and yet I'm more optimistic than I've ever been about a guy. I have a smile on my face most moments, and the warm flush of summer dapples my cheeks despite the icy winds that have preternaturally set upon Chicago this Fall. If I could bottle this ... you've got the idea.

So last evening, a couple of members of the Posse (an extended group of friends) and yours truly went to PJ Clarke's for minnies, Michelob Ultras, and the Cubs'n'Braves. I'm hardly gussied up, and yet almost immediately I'm practically the lone female in a boy band.

Is it that I can talk Sports? I hardly think it's unusual to be able to discuss the relative merits of whether Sammy Sosa should remain with the Cubs in 2004. Is it that I don't really care if you like me, you really like me? Whatever it is, I could have used it before now ... and not now!

Innocently, the Posse and I are gossiping (about ourselves, not others), comparing players goatees, and hoping, praying, that the Cubs will come from behind (which by now you know they did). Next thing I know Mr. K is hanging on my every word, and trying to hang on me like a cropped T on Britney Spears. I'm not into Mr. K, or Mr. Y, and I've no intention of engaging in anything other than banter with them, but sheesh - where were you guys a couple of months ago?

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I like Japan in April, how about you?

You know what they say: Frequent Flyer Miles - use them or lose them. So I used them.

I have wanted to go to Japan forever and a day, or at least the last few years. I'm not sure why, but I think I am EU-sed up with Britain, France, Holland, and the rest of the motherland. Call it ill will left over from the pre-Iraq lindy hop that was promised to be a waltz. Not that Japan has been our greatest supporter of late, but they certainly haven't made it their raison d'etre to lie, obfuscate and otherwise steamroll over us in the WoT. Besides, it's unique, it's novel, and I want to see Mount Fuji from the shrines at Hanoke. Who knows, maybe I'll meet someone on the plane, too!

Any Edo-philes with tips on accomodations, restaurants and "must sees" are encouraged to pass on the 411.