Friday, September 28, 2007

The Great Game heats up

Once again (I know I repeat myself a lot here), the indefatigable and indispensable M K Bhadrakumar shines a light on the current maneuvers in Central Asia.

The central player in today's episode is Turkmenistan, who possesses some of the largest natural gas deposits in the world. Back in the spring, it seemed that Russia had sewn up control of distributing its gas to Europe through a pipeline through Russia, but the Turkmenistan leadership seems to have pulled back from that commitment, and to be playing its suitors, Russia, the US and EU, China, and Iran, if not against each other, at least as equals. The Chinese also have an agreement for Turkmenistan gas that might be in jeopardy. Iran wants a pipeline as well, while the ultimate consumers, apart from the Chinese, is the EU. The EU has clearly thrown in their lot with the US, who is trying to develop a complicated pipeline that will run under the Caspian, through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and the Balkans to Europe.

Understanding these relationships is key to understanding how and why things unfold in the news, but without knowing the background it's easy to believe the hype and misinformation that the media dished out. I believe that the current hype against Iran can be linked most directly back to these issues, not the bogeymen of nuclear bombs and Iranian support for insurgencies.

The incredibly mistaken attempt by the US to control the area by invading Iraq is part of the same equation. The US has established its giant footprint closer to the action, but rather than being a way of projecting power in the region, it sucks it out of the US. Despite this, the administration has managed to keep the Europeans on board, as well as the major oil companies.

Bhadrakumar concludes:
It may be twilight in the White House in Washington. A highly controversial era may be coming to a close. Bush's friends may be beginning to desert him. Der Spiegel wrote this week, "Sixty corporate CEOs [chief executive officers] who had previously donated primarily to the Bush campaigns - including John Mack of Morgan Stanley, Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation and Terry Semel of Yahoo - are now giving more money to the Democrats ... It is all too apparent that the political energy is seeping out of the West Wing of the White House."

But Der Spiegel's list of the 60 renegade US corporate giants cannot include the oil majors. Cheney and Rice have just about ensured that.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fully transparent

Following on the WaPo's article on the six wayward nukes, the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael W. Wynne, has written them a letter.

Since he says nothing to dispute anything in the article, it's clear that the scenario in the article is backed by Wynne.

The letter concludes:
We owe America a comprehensive, detailed investigation. And when it's complete, we will provide America with results that are fully transparent and accurate.
That would certainly be a first from this administration.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Has peak oil peaked?

The notion of Peak Oil, the theory that capacity to find new deposits has, or is soon to, fail to keep up with increasing demand (or even continue at current production) was mostly off in kook land until a few years ago, though not an opinion held exclusively by kooks. It has been working its way into the mainstream slowly but surely, and with oil around $80 per barrel it seems to have finally arrived.
But it seems that the Russians are not convinced, according to F William Engdahl at the Asia Times in his article "Russia is far from oil's peak".

I'm certainly not qualified to know how far out in left field Engdahl and the Russians are, but it certainly is going against the general consensus to say that oil is not of biological origin:
An entirely alternative theory of oil formation has existed since the early 1950s in Russia, almost unknown to the West. It claims that the conventional US biological-origins theory is an unscientific absurdity that is unprovable. They point to the fact that Western geologists have repeatedly predicted finite oil over the past century, only then to find more, lots more.

Not only has this alternative explanation of the origins of oil and gas existed in theory, the emergence of Russia as the world's largest oil and natural-gas producer has been based on the application of the theory in practice. This has geopolitical consequences of staggering magnitude.
I guess it really doesn't matter how the oil got to where it is, but evidently the Russians, based on their theory, find oil in places it's not supposed to be, enough to now be the largest oil and gas producer in the world. Fuel for thought, anyway.

Red ribbons?

Some interesting tidbits from World Politics Review about the six nuclear armed cruise missiles loaded on a B-52:
Since the AGM-129 does not have a conventionally armed variant, the Aug. 29-30 error involves more than a ground crew simply selecting the wrong version of the missile. An AGM-129 with a nuclear warhead also looks different (having special red markings) than one with an inert warhead.
The WaPo article by Pincus (discussed and linked to below) mentioned the red markings, but implied they weren't always there, and said that an inspector would have to look through 'a stamp size opening' to know if the missile carried a live warhead. From the WaPo article:
In many cases, a red ribbon or marker attached to the missile serves as an additional warning.
This is deceptive on someone's part (I'd guess the Air Force, speaking to Pincus).

Then there's this, that will keep the alarmists among you far from sleep and flopping about in their beds like gaffed salmon:
The Air Force also subsequently conducted an unusually large number of no-notice and short-notice "limited nuclear surety inspections" of select Air Force units. The Air Force routinely performs these inspections to assess the safety, security and reliability of its nuclear weapons. The Aug. 30 incident, however, probably has resulted in reviews of whether USAF personnel are properly performing counting and verification procedures for stored nuclear munitions. The Air Combat Command, which operates the U.S. strategic bomber fleet, is inspecting its units. But so is the Air Force Space Command, which oversees the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) arsenal.
"Well, Lem, this here manifest says 242 nuclear armed cruise missiles, and I can count only 230. What gives?"
"Don't know, Clyde, but it's time for the prayer meeting and the commander is a stickler fer that. Let's go and let Jesus provide for them nukes."
Sleep well!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


From the SF Examiner:

Vice President Dick Cheney was philosophical about the possibility of a Democratic president fundamentally reversing the policies that he and Bush have worked so hard to implement in Iraq.

“It’s the nature of the business, in a sense,” he shrugged during an interview in his West Wing office. “I mean, you get two terms. We were fortunate to get two terms. And I think we’ll increasingly see a lot of emphasis on deciding who the next occupant of the Oval Office is going to be.”

(h/t The Next Hurrah)

Monday, September 24, 2007


UCLA Prof Perry Anderson has written an amazing portrait of post cold war Europe here. It's long (for the web)' and covers a lot of ground. It's also a grim reminder that European politics remains under the US regime, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Despite the hemming and hawing for public consumption, the European leaders are on board for the worst: theft, torture and destruction. They just want their cut.

Pakistan Update

With eyes focused on Iran and the evil Ahmadinejad, it's easy to lose track of the Muslim nation that actually has nukes, Pakistan.

The week before last, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. That is just after Musharraf unceremoniously booted ex-President Sharif out of the country, just after Sharif's return to the country. Negroponte basically ignored the expulsion.

Since then Musharraf has arrested 'three dozen' (got to love the NYT for counting Pakistanis like eggs) or so opposition leaders, and the US State Department has actually criticized Musharraf for the action. Is Negroponte on board with this criticism? I know the US doesn't like Sharif much, but selective complaining about human rights violations looks so tacky.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing six petitions challenging the eligibility of General Musharraf to contest the elections, and a verdict is expected on Wednesday.
So, the rest of the week should prove interesting. Will the Supreme Court go mano a mano with Musharraf? They did before and won.

Order 17

It's been clear from the get-go that Iraq has a state that is less than a state as we've come to know the term, but I didn't know how their status as a colonial entity had been codified. Now I know and it's available for all to read, it's 'Order 17'.

TomDispatch has a must read article that covers Order 17, and a lot more. It takes a hard look at what we mean by freedom today, it's good to remember it whenever Feckless Leader speaks about freedom:
In other words, when, in June 2004, Bremer handed over "sovereignty" to an Iraqi "government" lodged in the foreign-controlled Green Zone and left town as fast as he could, he essentially handed over next to nothing. He had already succeeded in making Iraq a "free" country, as only the Bush administration might have defined freedom: free of taxes, duties, tolls, accountability, or responsibility of any kind, no matter what Americans or their allies and hirelings did or what they took. In Iraq, in a twist on the nightmare language of Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, freedom meant theft.
It's hard to have a lot of sympathy for Maliki & Co. They know what they signed up for, they know the sham that they're part of, but compared to the US politicians that want to make the Iraqi government live up to 'benchmarks' they deserve sainthood. In fact, we should set up a new award, like the 'Medal of Freedom', we could call it Martyrs of Liberty and make it available to US toadies who get whacked on our behalf. Someday Saddam might even get one!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No press interest anticipated

The WaPo brings out one of its big guns, Walter Pincus, to tell in more detail the story of the nuclear warheads inadvertently shipped from Minot Air Force Base in N. Dakota to Barksdale AF Base in Louisiana.

The nukes were attached to cruise missiles, that is how they are stored evidently, and the missiles, six of the them, were attached under the wing of a B-52 for the flight. There were twelve missiles in all loaded on the plane, six had nukes, six didn't.

Rumsfeld had ordered that the AGM-129s (missiles used only for nukes) were to be decommissioned back in the fall of 2006, 200 have been decommissioned up to now.

The article's main narrative was sourced to unnamed officials. Interestingly, the article does not mention that a new, outside investigation has just been ordered by Gates. That news has been on the wire services for the last few days, but gotten almost no play.

What the article makes clear is that six nuclear warheads were out of the security apparatus for more than 36 hours.

The Air Force had no intention of disclosing this story to the public, and supposedly thought that if it did there would be no public concern. The AF report on the matter states:
"No press interest anticipated."
And they were mostly right. There has been very little press interest. If the story hadn't been leaked by service members to the Military Times, there would have been no coverage at all.

Some additional questions I would like answered:
1. 200 missiles have already been decommissioned, could this have happened before?
2. Why were missiles with live warheads stored in Minot in the same bunker as missiles with dummy warheads? Who gave those orders, and when?
3. Have we run a complete inventory? Do we know where all the nukes are?

UPDATE: Larry Johnson says it's all hooey.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thugs amok

This article by Scott Horton shows, as do many other things, that the thugs have taken over.
Scott seems to hope that Congress is going to clean this stuff up, or maybe Mukasey. I cannot share his optimism.
Also, he tends to emphasize the John Edwards trial lawyer aspect, but I think it goes far beyond that. It's certainly feasible that Cheney is running a wide ranging blackmail operation, and this is just a part of it.
Scott has also been covering the strange and related tale of Don Siegelman, ex-Governor of Alabama. Here is just one of the many posts he's written on the subject. Chilling stuff, indeed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Putin goes to Iran

M K Bhadrakumar at the Asia Times looks at the upcoming visit by Putin to Iran, and speculates that it is going to mean that US-Russia relations are going to be bumpy at the very least.

Putin is also backing El-Baradei's moves to keep Iran in the IAEA, and to emphasize the IAEA, rather than the Security Council, as the reference in these matters. So further sanctions don't seem to be in the cards, and without Russia's support the economic war that the US is waging against Iran will be of doubtful effect.

US blundering, and Russian maneuvering has placed Russia securely in a win/win situation, the same factors have placed the US and Europe in a lose/lose situation. War or retreat seem the only alternatives for Feckless Leader, and Feckless Leader never retreats. War will mean oil and gas prices skyrocketing, Russia will cash in big time, peace means less money, but Iranian support in Central Asia.

The Europeans (and China) would love to get reliable gas supplies from Iran, but their subservience to the US is moving them in the opposite direction. Merkel is a weakling, and Sarkozy is a Berlusconian thug with the same ties to neo-con fabulists. The EU sanction alternative does nothing to alleviate European dependence on Russian gas, and their leaders weakness means that a factor for sanity has been silenced. They are beneath contempt for their cowardice, and will bear responsibility along with the US if war comes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

At least?

SecDef Gates has asked for an outside inquiry into the 'loose nukes' episode. Earlier, we learned that the Air Force report was delayed for 'several weeks'. Since everyone is very tight lipped about this whole affair, it's hard to know if the one is linked to the other.

The whole affair is very murky, and will no doubt remain so. And murkiness makes it all the more intriguing to point out tidbits like this in the AFP's article, which is similar to the AP article linked to above, with this addition:
Defense officials have said that at least six nuclear armed cruise missiles were mistakenly flown from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base on August 30 under the wings of a B-52 bombers.
At least? Oy.


By a strange coincidence, the WaPo has come out with a new feature on the same day that Feckless Leader condemns MoveOn's 'General Betray Us' ad. The new feature is 'The Fact Checker', supposedly devoted to checking campaign ads, and their opening 'fact check' is on, strangely enough, the MoveOn ad.

As expected, their fact checking technique is to repeat unverifiable statistics from the government as God's truth, hem and haw about Petraeus's past statements that the war was being won, and the Iraqis he was training were ready to stand up, and come up with mind-bendingly idiotic statements such as this:
Reporters based in Baghdad have reported that one reason for the declining violence is the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods. See this useful New York Times graphic, for example. Petraeus did not dispute a New York Times report that 35,000 Iraqis have left their homes in Baghdad as part of ethnic cleansing.
There are now 4,000,000 Iraqi refugees, and according the the Iraqi Red Crescent, 1 million are from Baghdad.

So please, WaPo, now that you've made your point (that we already knew) that you slavishly support the Bush administration, no matter what disasters they cause, please discontinue your moronic feature. Award yourself a bunch of Pinochios for your past lies, and spare us an analysis that just adds to the total.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's not capitulation...

...when you're only pretending to fight.

Despite my best efforts, I find myself falling into a common fallacy when commenting on politics and policy at the national level. That fallacy is assuming that there is any real difference between the Dems and the Rethugs when it come down to the national security state. What I need to do, in order to avoid this pitfall, is define the boundaries of the NSS and apply the formula to each potential political football. Then, when an issue comes before Congress or is discussed in the press, it should be easy to tell if it will be subject to a real discussion, and possible opposition, or just be a lot of BS that both parties will sign off on, while we are left to follow the exploits of O.J.

Note that the area of real discussion is shrinking like the Arctic icecap, and the NSS keeps growing, so maybe my solution won't be easy to apply.

The latest charade that is being played out is the new law that is necessary to give retroactive immunity to the telecoms that helped BushCo with their spying. Here there isn't even the hocus-pocus that surrounded the FISA law, it's a straight matter of not only backing the NSS, it's also about doing right by your patrons. Why even bother to fake it when there's money and campaign contributions involved?

The next item on the list of fake struggles will be the confirmation of Mukasey as AG. There's no real opposition to him and his judicial positions anyway, since he is a very prominent member of the NSS. You don't get to preside over cases like Padilla and the blind Sheik if it isn't known how you're going to rule and back the government's case. (BTW, it has been a bit disconcerting to see the 'libertarian/liberal' wing of the blogosphere, Greenwald and Horton, lavish praise on someone who thinks the President can lock up a US citizen without any right of habeas corpus.) Now the Dems claim to want to hold up the nomination until they get documents from the DOJ. According to my new formula, this will not happen. The mechanism will make it look very unfortunate, but expect Mukasey to be confirmed in the time frame that Bush wants. The Department of Justice is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the NSS.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's the rush?

From the Air Force Times:

Even though Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne wanted a report about an Aug. 30 B-52 weapons-loading mistake on his desk by last Friday, it will take a little longer to generate, his office said.

“The investigation is ongoing and is expected to continue for at least the next several weeks,” Jennifer Bentley, a spokeswoman for Wynne’s office, said Sept. 14.

A lot of TV stations, usually those around the Air Forces bases concerned (Barksdale and Minot) have continued some coverage of this story, from the national media, zilch, nada, niente.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Protecting Blackwater

The news that the government of Iraq has (supposedly) banned Blackwater from working in Iraq has generated a lot of press. Even with the O.J. action hammering at the door, CNN had Blackwater as their internet lead story, and it's had a prominent place on most news sites.

The NYT had this internet headline for this article:
U.S. Contractor Banned by Iraq Over Shootings
followed by this text:
The Iraqi government’s authority to bar Blackwater USA, a security company that was involved in the deaths of eight Iraqis, appeared to be in question.
Appeared to whom, youm? Then there was this paragraph:
Because Blackwater guards are so central to the American operation here, having provided protection for numerous American ambassadors, it was not clear on Monday whether the United States would agree to end a relationship with a trusted protector so quickly. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker praised private security companies in a speech on Sept. 11, referring to Blackwater by name.
Well, Ambassador Crocker, you'd better praise them, they have a contract to protect your ass. And Blackwell is so central that the US might just have to lay down the law to Maliki so quickly, and if he doesn't like it, pop a cap in his ass. (I do the bolding around here, even in quotes.)

Let us face it, Blackwater is a big reason we're still in Iraq, now. It's a cash cow. All the oil dreams have gone up in smoke, and keeping 160,000 troops in Iraq to protect Blackwell's thugs still means a big money maker for Cheney's boys. But when troop levels come down, and they will soon, Blackwater will be gone, whether Maliki likes it or not.

That's what the surge is all about, protecting Blackwater.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alarmed yet?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists points out that we should be alarmed by the wayward nukes:
Thus far, the reaction in the United States hasn't been encouraging. The story made a splash in the news, but the public has apparently bought the air force line that there was never a chance of an explosion and that the accident wasn't a big deal. The Pentagon is paying attention (if only because there are still a few people there who remember that nuclear weapons are dangerous), but air force leadership has already started arguing that releasing information about the accident would harm national security by "giv[ing] terrorists insights into how the United States guards and moves weapons." There might be some congressional action, but with the Iraq War taking center stage this fall, it's quite possible that the accident won't get the attention it deserves.
So once again, we need to depend on the Air Force to investigate the Air Force, and we cannot know the results of the investigation because otherwise the terrorist will win! Expect Congress to get a secret report, tut-tut, and the whole matter will disappear down the memory hole.

As the scientist hints in the article, we're fucking doomed in this country. Deadly systems have broken free of all control, emergency response has been outsourced for profit, and nobody in politics has a clue on what to do. Except the Republicans, they're going to steal everything they can and hope for the best.

A photo op to die for...

(AP Photo)
Most of the versions of this photo you see in the press have been cropped to exclude both Condi talking to someone (anyone know who?) on the right, and a smiling Petraeus on the left. I like this one, the gathering of American assholes seems to have alarmed the late sheik, while the cropped version pushes Bush to the forefront with him.

Petraeus interrupted his victory tour long enough for him to comment on the killing of the sheik:
"This is a tragic loss," Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said of Abu Risha's death. "It's a terrible loss for Anbar province and all of Iraq. It shows how significant his importance was and it shows al-Qaeda in Iraq remains a very dangerous and barbaric enemy."
It's clear that everyone the US fights in Iraq is now 'al-Qaeda in Iraq' for Gen. Petraeus. If nothing else he remains steadfastly on message no matter how many sheiks get blown up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It's always nice to have one's opinions confirmed:
Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.
My bold. Fallon being Admiral Fallon, head of CENTCOM and Petraeus's direct superior.

With the war drums sounding ever louder for war with Iran, Israel bombing Syria, and the US and Britain setting up bases on the Iranian border it might look like we're ready to rumble. However, note that Adm. Fallon:
vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM.
Blog Simple has no way of confirming either story, both from IPS. But if it's true that Fallon will not go along with an attack, a good way to know that an attack is immanent would be his replacement. Also, Gen. Pace, the current head of the Joint Chiefs is going to be replaced by Adm. Mullen on Sept. 30. Pace has always seemed to be pretty much in the same mold as Petraeus, while Mullen is an unknown to me.

Mullen seems to have been Gates's choice, as was Fallon. Gates has been pretty quiet of late, letting GGE Petraeus run amok in Congress and the press. Maybe when he's figured out how those nukes got to Louisiana, he'll be more assertive about avoiding an Iran catastrophe, at least in the background. Here's hoping, anyway.

Oregon coast

Taken back in July from Cape Sebastian looking north to Gold Beach.

He said X 20

One of the acknowledged faults of our press corps is their tendency to approach issues from a 'he said, she said' perspective, without making any effort to discover if what he or she said is true.

Overcoming this tendency would be thought a good thing, but the NYT has shown a way forward that is even worse. It's 'he said X 20'.

Alissa J. Rubin has the byline for the article, "For Iraqis, General’s Report Offers Bitter Truth" which over the course of more than twenty interviews (not all quoted) comes to the conclusion that Iraqis kind of want America to leave Iraq, except they don't. They all believe that the Greatest General EVAR's report is accurate, they all whisper at the end that they're afraid that the Americans will leave.

In conclusion:
However, several Iraqis noted that it was the Americans who created the government. And the corollary, they say, is that Americans bear the responsibility for fixing it. Some went further, saying the Americans should start all over again — even if it meant they would be here for years.
Josh Marshall says it's worth your time to read the article, and I agree, though I'm not sure if it's for the same reason. As a piece of administration sponsored propaganda disseminated through the pages of the NYT, it is a striking example. The sheer brazenness of pretending that most Iraqis want to US to stay in their country for years to come while they 'fix' things has to be read to be believed. The total ignoring of 4 million refugees and 1 million dead strike us as vaulting Ms. Rubin into the front lines of the media hacks, the willing tools of the murderers, liars and thieves that are firmly in charge of this country and the New York Times. Judith Miller, Michael R. Gordon, et. al., take notice, you have competition.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That queasy feeling...

Big pipeline blasts in Mexico.
Crude oil approaches record.

Not on the internet front page of (that's even the sub-sub-headlines):
  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • CNN
at 12:38AM PDT.

I guess something will be ready for the morrow, best to get the story straight.

Will the markets take notice?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Welcome! Benvenuto! Bienvenue! Willkommen!

Blog Simple has been around for more than a year now, and has never had much traffic to speak of.

Apart from friends and family, who dutifully dropped in during the first month or so and haven't been seen since (excepting my father, who is probably trying to atone for sending me to a military academy at a tender age, ha, ha), most of my traffic comes from google searches, the blog whoring I do (rarely!), comments I make on other blogs, and a couple of regulars, God bless their little hearts.

But of late, my hit count has gone up, driven by google searches for 'elizabeth mcnally', or 'elizabeth mcnally army'. I mentioned a Captain Elizabeth McNally in this post, and the article that is the subject of the post says that she is a West Point graduate and Rhodes scholar, and is currently General Petraeus's speech writer. Today I even got a hit from a search for McNally launched from a computer at in the Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture. How exciting! I hope she hasn't done anything wrong. I hope I haven't done anything wrong either, though Asset Forfeiture is not a big worry around Blog Simple. Maybe when the big advertising bucks start rolling in, but not before. I wonder if there is an Executive Office of Debt Forfeiture? I could get behind that!

So friends, relatives, enemies and investigators of Elizabeth McNally, welcome to Blog Simple. We're just plain, down to earth folk around here, we love hippos of all sizes and we strive to keep you amused and informed. Commenting is on, and you can always drop me an email if you can pass the intelligence test that is set up to deceive automatons.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

F for Fake

Why is this man smiling?

And this one not?

The world of con men and flim-flam artists is one that has a certain fascination for me. Lying and deception are so prevalent in the world, it's hard to say when normal, everyday deception and lies pass into the con, when Michael O'Hanlon becomes Alex Debat.

Michael O'Hanlon works for the Brookings Institute, where he is a resident scholar. He's got a PhD from Princeton, written some books and is widely quoted as an authority about foreign policy. He has recently been misrepresented as a critic of the Iraq war while pushing the 'surge', and seems to be a willing propaganda tool of the Bush administration. He is part of a throng of experts, pundits and reporters who simply cannot be trusted, they say what they are paid to say, report what they are paid to report and opine what they are paid to opine. The more it's instinctive and ingrained the more successful they will be. I'm sure we will be afflicted with Mr. O'Hanlon for many years to come as he rises up the ladder of punditry.

Alex Debat is a senior fellow for the Nixon Center (America's Realist Voice). According to this online article, Mr. Debat published a faked interview with Barak Obama in a well regarded French journal. The linked article also calls into question many items in Mr. Debat's resume, including his PhD, and seems to push him squarely into flim-flam land, even though he has been an ABC new consultant, and recently was quoted in the press about possible action against Iran. It might be that it is time for Mr. Debat to move on to other accomplishments. If so, I'm sure he will be missed at the Nixon Center.

Debat conned his employers, O'Hanlon conned his readers. I prefer the former, just for fun.
(h/t Matthew Yglesias)

Friday, September 07, 2007

I'm with Freddie?

The breaking news that Fred Thompson is actually named Freddie Dalton Thompson has stunned Blog Simple. Read it and weep:
But Thompson was known as Freddie growing up in Lawrence County, Tenn. And he used the Freddie name all the way through college and all the way through law school.
Like when Caleb Major was revealed to be Major Major Major Major, Fred's friends might withdraw from him in distrust, as they might feel deceived into supporting a stranger for President. It could also lead to a personality breakdown, and the gruff, tough, Old Spice wearing, pickup driving guy we've come to know and love might turn into someone hiding in a trailer, forging Washington Irving's name on official documents.

How this breaks in the major press is now key. If Fred (or Freddie) receives the John Edwards haircut treatment in the NYT or WaPo, it could mean the end. Of course, he is a Republican, and Republicans are usually immune from just about anything but soliciting sex in public lavatories, but this type of situation hasn't happened before to my knowledge.

If he had been named Frederick, it would have been different, his parents might have been accused of being kinky, or just uptight, so using a diminutive would be kosher. (Though if he was still called Frederick in law school it would be even worse.) But Freddie is already a diminutive, and Fred has magnified his parents bad taste by not legally changing his name when reaching his majority. (Sorry about the pun.)

Fred is still Blog Simple's pick as the next elected President, but we must admit that our uncertainty has grown. Dark days, indeed.
(h/t Orcinus)

Thursday, September 06, 2007


That me, tooting my own horn. Wait, let me do it once again: TOOT!

I'm considering subtitling Blog Simple 'Where you get tomorrow's news today' after some of my intuitions have started to pan out.

Firstly, the New York Sun today came out with an editorial 'Petraeus for President' today which eerily recalls my President Petraeus post. The New York Sun being what it is, the home of ass-kissing sycophancy towards Feckless Leader, recognition of a fellow knee-dropper is logical. But don't get me wrong, my money ($2.47) is still on Fred. And just to edge out on another limb, a Thompson/Petraeus ticket would waltz into the White House like a dancing bear.

Then, even more improbably, my suspicions that China was behind the market's recent hiccups is now being circulated in the press.

If I start a rapture countdown, start to worry.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

He's everywhere!

Another O'Hanlon sighting!

The Military Times probably has the most detailed and authoritative report on the nuclear warheads that got shipped off to Louisiana, by accident we hope.

Before I move on to the actual subject here, I'd just like to say I hope that the Air Force is running an inventory at the base where the missiles were stored, and that they tell us about any other 'mistakes' they might find. (Fat chance, huh.)

Anyway, what struck me in the article was this paragraph:
The risk of the warheads falling into the hands of rogue nations or terrorists was minimal since the weapons never left the United States, said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an independent research and policy think tank in Washington D.C.
That's the only comment by O'Hanlon in the article, and it seems very strange to me. First of all, the 9/11 hijackers were all in the US, Timothy McVeigh was in the US, the dude that set off a bomb at the Olympics was in the US.

Second, why go to the Brooking Institute, and O'Hanlon in particular for such a dubious comment? O'Hanlon has a record of getting it all wrong on Iraq, he continues to shill for the administration, and misrepresents his past statement. He's a PhD in his mid-forties who apart from a stint in the Peace Corps has only been in 'research' positions. Never been in the military or law enforcement, but he's brought in to tell us that the risk is minimal.

It's obvious that such a toady will say just what he's supposed to say, if nothing else he knows which side his bread is buttered on, but the Military Times should do better than to print such pablum.

Oops, there goes Slim Pickins

This sort of thing is disturbing any time, but in today's hurry up world of nuclear threats and nothing taken off the table, it just makes you think how dependent we are on a large group of religious fanatics to handle our nukes.

The religious fanatics being the US Air Force, or at least a large part of it.

Of course, we don't know that the fellows involved in strapping six nuclear armed cruise missiles to the wings of a B52 were waiting for the rapture, or just distracted because of more mundane mishegosh.
The Pentagon would not provide specifics, citing secrecy rules, but an expert said the incident was unprecedented, and pointed to a disturbing lapse in the air force's command and control system.
Then, there are other, more sinister theories about what happened out there, too.

Anyway, people, concentrate on your job, especially if you handle nuclear weapons.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

It ain't easy... be the Greatest General EVAR. But with a little help,

Petraeus's willingness to be a mentor stems from a desire to position himself as the man who rebuilt the Army, people who have worked with him in Iraq and elsewhere say. He has been open about his desire to shape the officer corps into a group of highly educated thinkers and has surrounded himself with Rhodes Scholars and PhDs, a group that has come to be known as his brain trust.

"I think he's universally well known for finding smart people who are interested in doing things a little differently, and I think that's a major reason for his success," says Capt. Elizabeth McNally, a West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar who is Petraeus's speechwriter.

maybe you too could be the GGE. You need:

First, a scholarly U.S. Army Captain, such as Elizabeth McNally, who can be your speechwriter. That takes a lot of the drudgery out of sounding just right. What a lucky army we have that can find the right person for the right job.

Next, a reporter like Megan Greenwell writing for the authoritative WaPo, one who knows how to put all the gee whiz hype into a total DoD propaganda screed that Congresscritters and pundits will find so appealing. And I'll bet Elizabeth and Megan became fast friends!

Finally, a little wanker of the type all too prevalent on the intertubes, the Prince of Princeton, Wesley Morgan. Wes rocks us with comments like this:
"It's amazing," Morgan said after the briefing at Camp Taji last month. "It's the weirdest summer vacation ever, but to finally get to see what's happening for myself is unbelievable."
And Wesley know where his bread is buttered:
Morgan's blog maintains an adulatory tone in discussing Petraeus, concluding that nobody understands the situation in Iraq as well as the general does.

So, we've got coming back to the good old USA this month one hell of a General. He's going to tell us what we need to do, and how to do it. Captain McNally will help him with mundane details of diction and phrasing. I bet that Megan will get her licks in again too.

So take heart, America. With all this talent out there trying to convince you that the war is being won, your worries are over.
(h/t Laura Rozen)

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Steve Clemons of the Washington Note has picked up some chatter about the political prospects of Gen. Petraeus. Apart from being an occasion for some of my more successful blog whoring, the post puts some reporting behind what had been pure speculation on my part:
There is informal discussion among some in the military set -- and increasingly among some pols -- that General David Petraeus could be an interesting presidential prospect on the Republican side of the line a few years from now.
As the unrestrained adulation that the Greatest General EVAR is receiving raised that thought in my mind as well (see my President Petraeus post), it should be pointed out that Petraeus might have some skeletons rattling around in his closet, despite this:
Petraeus -- who both Dems and Republicans liked when he was perceived to be a highly competent, underappreciated expert on counter-insurgency and who was punished by Rumsfeld and exiled far from the front line action to do his work in Leavenworth, Kansas -- won't be blamed for the deteriorating mess in Iraq.
Before Petraeus was 'exiled' he was in charge of training the Iraqi military. He was in charge when the 190,000 weapons 'disappeared'. He was in charge when Col. Westhusing committed suicide after accusing his superiors of ignoring rampant corruption.

Let's face it, the whole operation to 'train' the Iraqi military was run on the same lines as Bremer's Green zone fiasco: toadyism, incompetence and corruption. Petraeus was probably moved out to protect him, not to exile him.

Officers under Gen. Petaeus have now been charged with accepting bribes:

The court papers make clear that investigators have concluded that Lee Dynamics paid large bribes to numerous United States officials in Iraq and Kuwait. Major Davis is one official cited. Another is an Army officer, identified in the investigator’s report as “Person B,” because he is now cooperating with the investigation. He acknowledged receiving $50,000 in cash bribes from the company, the court papers said. Two people with direct knowledge of the investigation or the contracting office in Iraq at the time said “Person B” was Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who worked with an officer who has emerged as a focus of the investigation in the weapons case in Iraq.

That officer, Lt. Col. Levonda Joey Selph, was at the heart of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. She worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded the effort at the time. The general is now the top commander in Iraq. There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by General Petraeus.

In a brief phone conversation Thursday, Colonel Selph confirmed the connection between her and Colonel Davis in Iraq. “I worked for Kevin Davis,” Colonel Selph said. She said she wanted to consult her lawyer before speaking further and did not respond to subsequent messages.

We'll see how loud the skeletons will turn out to be.