Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mental Note on Iraq and al-Qaida

Well that is all it could ever be considering not much is being said about the trial taking place in Jordan of a group of terrorist (13 men) accused of attempting to unleash a chemical weapons attack in that country. Read the AP article here.

Of course the fact that this was an al-Qaida plot, masterminded by Al-Zarfqawi in Iraq should be a concern for most. But it isn't.

Why is it so significant?

From PowerLine :

A televised confession by the terrorist allegedly responsible for carrying out the operation included information that closely tracks the testimony about Zarqawi and his operations in Iraq that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003.

In Herat, [Afghanistan]," Jayousi told Jordanian TV, "I began training under Abu Musab [al Zarqawi] which involved high-level instruction in explosives and poisons. Then I promised my loyalty to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I agreed to work for him -- no questions asked. When Afghanistan fell, I again met up with al-Zarqawi in Iraq."

"There in Iraq," said Jayousi, "I was told by Abu Musab to travel to Jordan with Muwaffaq Udwan. We were to get ready for a military action in Jordan."

"When I arrived in Jordan, I met with another person with ties to Abu Musab by the name of Haytham Omar Ibrahim -- a Syrian -- who secured our safe houses," said Jayousi.

"Next Muwaffiq and I began reconnaissance on the targets," said Jayousi. "Then we began to gather chemicals needed to make explosives. . . . amassing almost 20 tons, which was sufficient for all our plans in Jordan. Then I began manufacturing."

John at Powerline conclude by saying:

So, after the fall of Afghanistan at the end of 2001, Zarqawi and other al Qaeda veterans made their way to Iraq, where, secure under the wing of Saddam Hussein, they plotted chemical weapons attacks on countries friendly to the U.S., as well as the murder (successfully carried out) of an American diplomat. And yet, to this day it remains an article of faith on the left that Saddam's Iraq was a kite-flyer's paradise with no connection to international terrorism, no relations with al Qaeda, and, of course, no chemical weapons. Maybe the current trial will reveal where the chemicals assembled for the attack on Jordan came from; maybe it won't. But we don't need any new information to understand that Saddam's regime protected and supported the deadliest of al Qaeda's terrorists.

Often we are reminded that al-Qaida and Iraq had no ties. Well that statement was false. All that has 'really' been said by U.S. sources is that there is "no formal established relationship" between Iraq and al-Qaida.

In fact though, there is a connection. As established by Deroy Murdock of the National Review here.

One excerpt:

According to the Clinton Justice Department's spring 1998 indictment of bin Laden, "Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq."

Again, just a mental note.

Doug Ross had two excellent and related blog entries here.
Posted by mightymerk, 5:03 PM | link | (3) comments |

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Today is Fathers Day

Lil' Merk Masterpiece, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Today is Fathers Day. I have to tell you it feels good.

I enjoyed a nice breakfast with the family. My wife cooked up a nice egg, hash brown and sausage platter that was rounded off nicely but a sweet cup of coffee.

I was presented two gifts. One a scrapbook that my daughter had made detailing my 5 years of parenthood as well as a the picture show above, a page from my sons Wiggles coloring book.

To all the Dads out there, Happy Fathers Day!!

Posted by mightymerk, 5:49 AM | link | (1) comments |

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wanna lose weight?...ask Ronald how?

It Could Do A Body Good!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Many of us are familiar with Morgan Spurlock's film "Super Size Me", in which he chronicled his 30 day 'binge' of eating nothing but McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner and limiting his physical activity to the bare basics. At the time when I heard of Spurlock's movie and understanding that his health was far worse off after the 30 days, my immediate reaction...No Duh!!!

In the true spirit of Michael Moore's 'Roger and Me', Mr. Spurlock made quite a name for himself tackling another American Corporate Giant, this case McDonalds Corp. as opposed to General Motors. Predictably a great many people liked both films, and in the case of Roger and Me, so did I. That said, as the increasingly popular saying goes, "Reality is not Real"...well at least in many cases.

But I want to focus on something else right now.

Most of us have not heard about another film. It is a a 55 minute piece by Soso Whaley (New Hampshire) titled "Me & Mickey D", which chronicled her own 30 day diet that consisted exclusively of foods from the same McDonalds menu. Choosing to eat foods such as salad, Big & Tasty sandwhiches, low-fat milk, and diet soda she kept her calorie intake to under 2,000 calories a day, combined with low impact physical activities such as roller skating and waking her dogs. Ms. Whaley was able to lose 18 pounds and 40 cholesterol points during this time.

Let's compare the typical meal choices of Mr. Spurlock and Ms. Whaley:

Whaley: Bacon, egg and cheese McGriddle, OJ, diet soda. Total Calories 590
Spurlock: Sausage biscuit and egg, has brown, coffee with two packets of half and half. Total Calories 670

Whaley: One Big & Tasty w/cheese and a diet soda. Total Calories 570
Spurlock: Double Quarter Pounder w/Cheese, large fries, ketchup and a large soda. Total Calories 1,570

Whaley: California Cobb salad with grilled chicken and cobb dressing, diet soda, vanilla ice cream cone (reduced fat). Total Calories 530
Spurlock: 20-piece Chicken McNuggets with BBQ Sauce, Caesar Salad and creamy dressing, large vanilla shake. Total Calories 1,905

Total Diet Comparison
Whaley: 1,690 Calories per day (on average)
Spurlock: 4,145 Calories per day (on average)

What did we learn from Ms. Whaley?

What I like most about Ms. Whaley's 'lesson' is that she freely admitted that her diet was far from perfect and that weight loss was not synonymous with healthy eating (as this diet proved to be very high in sodium because of all the Diet soda. Also, the message itself is fairly positive. In moderation anything can be conceivably good.

It also makes a strong case that any diet should be carefully monitored if not prescribed by a physician.

Whad did we learn from Mr. Spurlock?

If one eats like a jackass and does not exercise he is going to become a Grimace? Fascinating.

Oh that's right, we learned that if you attack a corporate giant with a one sided slant piece you can become famous, maybe even get your own TV show.

Details and source information about Ms. Whaley's film can be found here.

Posted by mightymerk, 11:22 AM | link | (7) comments |

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Watching Train Wrecks

It's my party and I'll scream if I want to...sceam if I want to., originally uploaded by mightymerk.

The word is Schadenfreude. And when it comes to watching politics, Ameircans are once again becoming equally divided about which side is providing the most entertainment. My more liberal leaning buddies get a good kick out of seeing George Bush stammer along during speeche's, and getting tongue twisted by even some of the most basic words. I must admit there are many times when I can't help but laugh as well. In fact there are some liberal I know who only listen to Bush's speech just to hear these gaffe's and chuckle about it later.

That said Howard Dean, though in much more different fashion, is providing some unique entertainment. While certainly succeeding in making himself the center of attention it seems that the only message one can take away is ..."Look at me, I'm dumb".

Just recently Howard while on the offensive and delivering 'the message' he had this to say about the Republican Party, they are:

"not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it's pretty much a white, Christian party."

Quite interesting coming from the party the democratic party. Then again, not so much of a surprise I had posted not too long ago that the Democrats themselves were becoming the party of hate/dividedness here. Challenged on the issue Dean could only respond:

"This is a diversion from the issues that really matter: Social Security, and adequate job opportunity, strong public schools, a strong defense,"

So why bring it up that way Mr. Dean? So you are saying that somehow there is a Republican in National Office saying that Democrats are by and large made up of 'other people'? It seems that Dean's goal wit his statement about republicans was to stigmatize the words 'Republican', 'White Christian'. Interesting enough Howard Dean himself is one of those White Christians and GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman is Jewish.

I believe what really needs to be ovserved though is thatHoward Dean is not serious about delivering American the Democratic message. It is clearly about keeping Howard Dean on the tips of every Americans tongues for better or for worse. My call now is that Howard Dean will run as a 3rd party candidate in the future, perhaps even by the next election. The Democrats indirectly get 'press and exposure' through Dean, and Dean has a financial pool to tap from to keep his future candidacy a viable option. I would describe it as two leeches sucking on each others wounds.

So while observing the democratic party right now and more specifically its Chairman Howard Dean, I believe the German term Schadefreude is what would best describe my interest.

The instructions: open mouth- insert foot would be well served by Mr. Dean.

Posted by mightymerk, 8:13 AM | link | (0) comments |

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Of Gulags and Gitmo's

Recently there has been a lot of buzz in the Blogsphere regarding Amnesty Internationals claim several days ago when it compared Ameircan Prisons at Guantanamo Bay to Soviet Gulags.

It had been my thinking all along that AI was being intellectually dishonest about the whole matter. That is, that unfortunately a great deal of people are far from well informed about what the Soviet Gulags were run or how the detainees are actually treated at Gitmo now.

Well today it is being reported that AI head, William Schulz admits his group did not pick the best analogy. NO KIDDING

At the time I presented my argument in another forum like this:

AI is being intellectually dishonest here. Truth be told I find tha a great many people on either side of the 'issue' are far from well informed. AI, acting as an agency would, traditionally sensationalizes its reports, especially when dealing with the U.S. to have more broad appeal.

With regards to this recent report comparing Guantanamo bay as "the gulag of our times" is downright silly and absolutely prey's upon their average supporters lack of understanding about how the Soviet Gulags really worked. NOTE: I UNDERSTAND THAT MANY OF YOU HERE ON THE IB MAY BE BETTER INFORMED. I am just critiquing the manner in which AI submitted this report.

There were as many as some 25 million prisoners in the Gulags at its peak utilization made up of some 476 camps. These were made up of those 'enemies of the state' with a political purpose to suppress internal dissent inside a totalitarian state. Prisoners were seized from their homes, places of work, meeting halls and street corners and made to serves as slave laborers.

The 600 (approximately) Gitmo prisoners were taken from the battlefield in the midst of war, and were nationless memebers of terrorist groupin which many of their nations of origin would either not want them back or would have killed them if they had been returned there. Further they could not simply just be released (as some suggest) or they would have been able to commit further terrorist attacks (which has happened). The only political purpose is the suppression of an international terrorist group with absolutely zero financial purpose (it is actually a financial drain).

Now are there cases of prisoner abuse (both in physical and mental forme)? Yes, and I would rely on a group like AI to be a watchdog for this. Yet surely they know the tremendous horrors that took place daily (and for several decades) in the Soviety Gulags, and that a few relatively small incidents at Gitmo, not only pale in comparison, but are very much the exception rather then the rule.

What I also fail to understand is AI's rationalization of the prisoners at Gitmos as somehow suppose to follow the terms of the Geneva convention. No one (rationally) argues that a majority of those imprisoned at Gitmo were in fact memebers of alQaeda. Again, because they are a stateless organization. I am not sure any such precedent has been set before. (I could be wrong though)

I could take AI more seriously if it just presented the facts as they were, but again there own viability and survival as an organization is priority #1, so they have the ulterior motivations as well. A Human Rights watchdog is fine. An organization that is quickly becoming a parody of itself is not helpful to anyone.


ALL prisoners of Gitmo eat culturally sensitive meals and follow arrows painted on dorm floors to face Mecca and receive copies of the Koran from their captors. Prayer calls are broadcast over loudspeakers five times a day. While thse deemed 'troublemakers' wear prison style orange jumpsuits and are confined to more limited accommodations and lifestyles, those who follow the camp rules wear white outfits and exercise seven to nine hours daily. They also are allowed to play chess, checkers, playing card games, etc.

Now what happens when you let some of them go. Well, in total about 167 detainees have been freed from Guantanomo, all of whom are forced to take oaths that they will no longer participate in terrorist activity. From my understanding about 10-12 confirmed former prisoners have resumed terrorist operations. This past October, two chineese engineers were kidnapped in Pakistan. Former detainee Abdulah Muahsude ordered the kidnapping. Several others have been killed in combat.

All in all, those in Gitmo live rather comfortable lives for prisoners of war. How AI could refer to Guantanamo as the "Gulags of our times" is intellectually dishonest if not downright deceiving.
Posted by mightymerk, 4:43 AM | link | (4) comments |