Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

First Venezuela -- now Bolivia

By Aussiegirl

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with Chavez in Venezuela making nice with Castro and with Al-Qaida elements, now comes Bolivia. Where's the Monroe Doctrine when you really need it? Kudos to the American Thinker's A. M. Mora y Leon (don't you just love that name?) for keeping an eye on Latin America for us.

The American Thinker: "Cuba's state-owned Prensa Latina reports that Morales says he seeks to 'be a nightmare to the U.S.' and wants Bolivians to vote for him for this reason. See it for yourself here.
Well, we already know the Marxist Morales will be a nightmare to the U.S. - as well as to Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Morales intends to nationalize Bolivia's energy industry, drive out foreign investment, rob the people and install a Marxist collectivist government.

China's Leader solidifies power -- reading Chinese tea leaves

By Aussiegirl

China watch -- China is slipping back into familiar ways -- clamping down, using the old Maoist techniques of forced "self-criticisms", and other methods of general repression. While China continues to modernize and expand its economy, it is internally very wary of any political liberalization, fearing another orange revolution in its midst. This bears watching as Americans are becoming complacent about China and imagine that increased growth in the economy will bring with it inevitable liberalizations in the social sphere.

These developments show that in many ways the Chinese leadership has not come far from the old Cultural Revolution days of Mao, is still employing many of the same tactics, and that power is still decided in shady back rooms between various competing elements.

Unlike a democracy, the future is never certain - nothing is guaranteed - the freedoms that people experience today can be taken back tomorrow on the whim of a an all-powerful leader. All policy comes from the top down. What was legal yesterday - is illegal today. What was encouraged yesterday, is a crime today. The very threat of living with such uncertainty serves to keep a populace on guard and tentative. That's exactly the point. The leaders are holding the reins. The people have no say.

China's Leader, Ex-Rival at Side, Solidifies Power - New York Times:
BEIJING, Sept. 24 - Three years after becoming China's top leader, Hu Jintao has solidified his grip on power and intimidated critics inside and outside the Communist Party with the help of the man once seen as his most potent rival.

Mr. Hu, China's president and Communist Party chief, and Zeng Qinghong, vice president and the man in charge of the party's organizational affairs, have tackled the most delicate domestic and foreign policy issues as a team, governing as hard-liners with a deft political touch, former Chinese officials and scholars with leadership connections said.

[...]Their alliance has shored up the Communist Party as it faces enormous stresses, including simmering social unrest and an uphill struggle to curtail corruption. They have quieted talk of serious factional splits and paved the way for Mr. Hu to impose his orthodox, repressive stamp on Chinese politics.[emphasis added]

Mr. Hu and Mr. Zeng made back-to-back addresses at a secretive party conclave in May to promote a "smokeless war" against "liberal elements" in society that they contended were supported by the United States, said people who said they had been told about the speeches. They have also clamped down on nongovernmental organizations, tightened media controls and forced all of the 70 million Communist Party members to submit self-criticisms as an act of ritualistic submission to their authority.

China sets new rules on Internet news

By Aussiegirl

These are the people the UN wants to put in charge of your internet usage and access. Be afraid - be very afraid.

China sets new rules on Internet news - Yahoo! News

China set new regulations on Internet news content on Sunday, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other Web sites, such as discussion groups.

"The state bans the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest," the official Xinhua news agency said in announcing the new rules, which took effect immediately.

The news agency did not detail the rules, but said Internet news sites must "be directed toward serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests."

Established news media needed permission to run a news Web site, it said. New operators had to register themselves with government information offices.

China has a dedicated band of cyber police who patrol the Internet with the aim of regulating content. Postings that criticize the government or address sensitive topics are quickly removed.

Do we really want these people watching over our internet usage?

By Aussiegirl

Keep an eye on this -- the internet is becoming dangerous to the usual suspects, and as such, an effort is underway to undermine our freedom of expression via this backdoor attempt at international "supervision" of the internet. All we need is for the same people who brought us the Oil for Food scandal to be in charge of our internet access, usage and content. And why is a Chinese official in charge when China is actively suppressing and censoring the internet in their own country? I suppose they want to censor mine and yours as well.

Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky & Joseph Barillari

"In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it." So observed Houlin Zhao, the man who wants to control the greatest forum for free expression in history.

Zhao, a director of the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and a former senior Chinese-government official, is a leader in the United Nations's effort to supplant the United States government in the supervision of the Internet. At a series of conferences called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held under the aegis of the ITU, and set to culminate in Tunis this November, the U.N. has floated a series of proposals for doing exactly that.

The U.N.'s professed goals, which include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam, are laudable. However, the substance of its proposals — shifting Internet governance from the U.S. to a U.N. body — would produce an Internet in which regulations smother free speech, strangle net-driven economic growth, and threaten America's online security.

[...]China, a major proponent of a U.N.-administered Internet, already operates the world's largest and most advanced system of online censorship. Thousands of government agents, including some from ITU Director Zhao's former Department of Telecommunications, make sure that websites, e-mails, and even search-engine results deemed threatening to the regime remain inaccessible to a fifth of the world's population. U.S. companies have shamefully participated in this system, as shown by China's recent jailing of dissident journalist Shi Tao based on information revealed by Yahoo!, Inc. Chinese Internet users are unable to access the websites of the Voice of America or, even, the BBC. The regime's filtering is so sophisticated that many sites, such as cnn.com, time.com, and, curiously, yale.edu, are filtered page-by-page, thus maintaining the illusion of openness. Other WGIG participants have similar policies. Like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also recognize that control over the Internet brings them closer to control over minds. It is unsurprising, then, that Mr. Zhao and his ilk support the U.N.'s drive to give them more of it.

That the next WSIS summit should take place in Tunisia speaks volumes. The Tunisian government and President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's relatives control all of the country's internet-service providers. As in China, international news and human-rights websites are routinely blocked. Citizens who post their dissent online face lengthy prison terms. That the U.N. would award a meeting on the fate of the Internet to such a regime betrays the incoherence of an internationalism that insists on treating dictatorships and democracies as equals.

Reach for the stars

By Aussiegirl

Going up!! Contrast this innovative idea with the 40 year-old Appollo retread technology that NASA just unveiled for its new moon program.

Stairway to heaven:

"Space may still be the final frontier, but getting there could soon be almost as simple as stepping into the office lift at the start of the day.

The race is on to build the first 'space elevator' - long dismissed as science fiction - to carry people and materials into orbit along a cable thousands of miles long.

Supporters of the elevator concept promise a future in space that is both cheap and accessible, and contrast it to Nasa's announcement last week that it will be relying on 40-year-old technology from the Apollo programme for its $105 billion plan to return to the Moon by 2018. The companies behind the space elevator say they will be able to lift material into orbit for as little as $400 a pound, compared with $20,000 a pound using existing rockets.

That would open up the possibility of tourists visiting a sky hotel in stationary orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth, with a view previously enjoyed only by astronauts.
It would also allow for far cheaper travel to the Moon and other planets within the solar system, since most of the energy required by rockets is used simply to escape Earth's gravity.

Russian scientists first envisaged a fixed link to space, and the idea was popularised by the British sci-fi writer and vision-ary, Arthur C Clarke, in his 1978 novel, The Fountains of Paradise.

Byrd announces reelection campaign

By Aussiegirl

Well, someone's got to represent all those dead Democrat voters! Remember to vote early and often.

Lone Star Times - Byrd announces reelection campaign:

Plunging into what will likely be the toughest - and final - campaign in a political career that has spanned seven decades, Democrat Robert C. Byrd on Tuesday kicked off his bid for a record ninth term.

"I have the best job in America because I represent you, the people of West Virginia. And I want to keep this job," the 87-year-old Byrd told several hundred supporters who packed the state Capitol Rotunda.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Get out the "Whip Inflation Now" buttons -- quick!

By Aussiegirl

Groan -- can the cardigan be far behind?

How about a muscular prime-time speech saying that once we have helped people to rebuild (NOT give them unlimited funds) we must address the obvious energy problem by engaging in an unprecedented Manhattan Project to build more refineries, open up new areas to drilling, including ALL offshore areas, and build new, clean and safe nuclear plants. Now THAT's a plan!

White House Staff Urged to Conserve Energy: "In a move to cut energy use, White House staffers are being reminded to adjust thermostats and shut down computers, faxes and printers at the end of the day. Public transportation and car pools are a good idea, too, they're being told.

Presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday that notices were being sent to staff with energy-saving tips.

The Silence of the American Jewish Lambs

By Aussiegirl

The other side of the argument is presented by the Israeli Insider. The basic flaw in this argument is President Bush's and Sec. Rice's naive view that what the Palestinian people want is a state with liberal democratic values and western standards of living. Some may indeed want that. But the ones who have the power, Hamas, et al.. want nothing of the sort. Their stated aim is to drive Israel into the sea -- nothing more -- nothing less. To them this is just one more victory on the road to the elimination of the state of Israel -- not a step on the road to the creation of the State of Palestine.

israelinsider: Views: The Silence of the American Jewish Lambs: "Ariel Sharon's morally indefensible and strategically suicidal policy has been implemented, uprooting long-established prosperous communities, creating deep fissures in Israeli society and giving enormous impetus to Arab terror groups, which rightly see this retreat as their victory"

[...]And when a rocket aimed at Israel falls harmlessly and the five Israel launches inadvertently kill women and children? What will be the world's response? As for Israel standing pat, waiting for a transformation of Palestinian Arabs, before the destruction of the Gaza communities was even done, Secretary of State Rice was announcing this was merely the beginning of territorial concessions that must now be stepped up. As for President Bush, his comment on the Gaza evictions at his August 14 news conference suggested he had stepped through the looking glass to join Shimon Peres: "I can understand why people think this decision is one that will create a vacuum into which terrorism will flow. I happen to disagree. I think this will create an opportunity for democracy to emerge. And democracies are peaceful."

IDF given green light in Gaza

By Aussiegirl

Only time will tell, and I hope that Doug Hanson is right, but my own gut feeling is that withdrawal from Gaza was a terrible mistake. This will prove to be either a stragetic piece of genius, or a terrible blunder.

The American Thinker: "Sharon's orders to the IDF show the rationale for the withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip. Rather than a retreat in the face of terror, the evacuation of Israeli citizens now allows for a full-blown military response on terrorist cells operating in the strip.

Sharon also said that the IDF actions were not "a short-term action, but a policy that must lead to the cessation of the terrorist organizations' actions against Israeli communities. I am certain that it is within our ability to halt the terrorist organizations' actions against us. The activity will not only be in Gaza but will also be against terrorism in Judea and Samaria."

Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza are in tactically unsound position. They no longer have a ready-made hostage population to leverage; they are surrounded by the IDF on two sides and by the Mediterranean Sea on the other. The only way out is into the Sinai, but this route could be cut off by the IDF seizing Rafah and Khan Yunis. Sharon�s Gaza maneuver may finally settle the Gaza issue once and for all. Unfortunately for the terrorists, it�s not the outcome they had hoped for."

Wag the Dog War comes home to roost

By Aussiegirl

Gee -- weren't we told that this war a blazing success unlike the mess that Bush has made in Iraq? Didn't the Clintons promise us that the troops would be home by Christmas? Is anyone screaming that "Clinton Lied and People Died?" All that Wag the Dog war succeeded in doing was making Albania safe for Al-Qaida.

Ex-Security Chief Blows Whistle on UN's Kosovo Mission -- 09/27/2005

Following five years of United Nations control and billions of dollars of international aid, Kosovo is a lawless region "owned" by the Albanian mafia, characterized by continuing ethnic cleansing and subject to increasing infiltration by al Qaeda-linked Muslim jihadists, according to a whistleblower interviewed by Cybercast News Service.

Read it and (bleep)

By Aussiegirl

Not much else to say here -- they have seen the enemy -- and it is us conservatives.

GOP Leaders Try to Soothe Conservatives

Squeezed between a conservative clamor for spending cuts and the rising cost of hurricane relief, Republican congressional leaders will respond this week with a public relations offensive to win over angry conservatives -- but no substantive changes in budget policy.

Republican lawmakers and leadership aides conceded that the wholesale budget cuts envisioned by House conservatives are not being contemplated; the Senate is moving toward approving a temporary expansion of Medicaid for hurricane survivors, estimated to cost $9 billion. Nor are GOP leaders considering tax increases.

Talking point of the day -- don't worry -- be happy -- just shut up and pay your taxes.

[...]The leadership has, however, felt the political sting of the recent deficit spending, which began with huge new transportation and energy bills this summer and cascaded into debt-financed hurricane relief this month. Republican leaders plan appearances this week on the syndicated radio talk shows of conservatives Sean Hannity, Tony Snow, Mike Gallagher and Lars Larson, as well as local radio and television shows, leadership aides said. DeLay set the tone in a Washington Times opinion piece yesterday.

And now, ladies and gentlemen -- some Republican newspeak:

"It is clear that the recent political discussion focusing on the government's spending priorities and overall economic platform in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita has introduced a valuable forum to promote the triumph of our ideas and solutions for government over the crumbling and outdated policies of the Democrat-controlled Congresses of past decades," he wrote.

In private meetings last week, GOP leaders sharply criticized rank-and-file Republicans for taking issue with the surge in spending, pleading instead for unity. But neither the public relations offensive nor the private upbraiding has quieted conservatives.

"This leadership group is so out of touch, it's unbelievable," said one House lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid inflaming leaders further.

GOP leadership officials say the conservatives are the ones out of touch. The hurricanes may have raised anxieties about the federal deficit, but they have pricked the conscience of a nation confronted by its own undercurrent of poverty.

"Pricked the conscience of a nation confronted by its own undercurrent of poverty." Didn't LBJ's War on Poverty fix this? And years of Democrat social welfare spending? Aren't all these hellholes of poverty and dependence centered and concentrated in exclusively Democrat controlled districts like New Orleans? Why haven't they fixed it up till now and how do Republicans imagine they are going to fix it by throwing money at the problem?

But politics could intervene, lawmakers warned. Two of the House districts hardest hit by Rita are represented by freshmen Gohmert and Ted Poe, both of whom owe their seats in part to DeLay's redistricting. Leaders have encouraged the spending of federal largess in freshman districts to solidify House gains, said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), an outspoken fiscal conservative.

"We hear the rhetoric, that nobody wants earmarks, but the truth is, the leadership likes them," he said. "They like to get you hooked. They make freshmen believe they are the ticket to reelection."

A large piece of pork pie with my bacon, please

By Aussiegirl

Bruce Bartlett was recently called to testify before a congressional hearing as a hostile witness -- the role that Republicans now have to play when appearing in public and daring to voice conservative ideas.

Apres le hurricane -- le deluge -- torrents of money, promises, recriminations, tears, accusations, rending of garments and the sudden discovery by Republicans that they can demagogue and spend with the poor as their excuse -- but along with all these watery metaphors comes the release of a flood of conservative disgust and disillusionment.

Whatever cunning plan Karl Rove has had in mind all these years (he hasn't shared it with us as far as I can remember), it sure doesn't involve anything to do with Reagan Republicanism. And the Democrats are not doing us any favors by having falling off the edge of the world into the land of "there be dragons", thereby rendering the Republicans as sole players on a stage with only themselves as demented stars and no credible opposition to keep them honest.

I honestly believe that Karl Rove now believes that the only thing that stands between him and permanent power is what used to called the Republican party. As such they appear ready to start the purges. You may refer to your old Soviet textbooks to discover what comes next for those who dare to oppose their Mad King Ludwig ways -- can airbrushed photographs be far away?

Bruce Bartlett: Appalled over pork

Last week I had an interesting experience. I was asked to testify before a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. I made it clear to them that I was a Republican, but they said they wanted me anyway. I suppose that they knew that I have become very disturbed by the Republican Party’s fiscal policy and they presumed that I would attack it. I did not disappoint them.

I explained that I am not particularly a deficit hawk, nor do the size of the Bush tax cuts bother me. What really bothers me is the orgy of spending by Republicans. It is just appalling that the recent highway bill had 5,000 “earmarks” in it. These are almost without exception, utterly unjustified pork barrel projects.

I am further appalled by President’s Bush’s unwillingness to use his veto pen to maintain some semblance of fiscal discipline. He is the first president to serve a full term without vetoing anything since John Quincy Adams, who served from 1824 to 1828.

"They can kiss my ear"

By Aussiegirl

"Asked to respond to critics who have urged him to reallocate this notorious bridge's budget to Katrina's victims, GOP Congressman Don Young, chairman of the 75-member House Transportation Committee, said: "They can kiss my ear!"~~

Deroy Murdock lays it out down and dirty in today's National Review. Unfortunately, it's becoming painfully obvious that the Republican party has become a victim of its own success, and it may be true that the seeds of the destruction of the Republican party were sown when it finally achieved majority status. They are drunk with power and seem to believe that they will be in the majority forever. Nothing seems to sway these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds of spending, spending, spending -- in all sorts of weathers, for all sorts of reasons -- but it all boils down to one thing -- they are out of control and need a reality check. Unfortunately, given the fact that the leadership of the party has decided that, rather than return to sane conservative fiscal policies of restrained spending and free market economics, they will shoot the messenger and purge from the party ranks or intimidate anyone who dares to voice opposition to their out of control spending, there is little hope of stopping this madness short of turning the lot of them out of office.

The party arrogantly thinks that the base has nowhere to go. Conservatives now occupy the same place in the Republican party as blacks do in the Democrat party -- they only look to us at election time -- then after the election it's hasta la vista baby until the next election. See you at the polls, sucker! Maybe they need a big shock come election time. Sure, conservatives are not going to vote for any democrat who is likely to be nominated by the party as it is now under the sway of the extreme left -- but sure as heck conservatives can find something else to do on election day -- or there might even be an alternative candidate. One thing's for sure -- the corrupt and out of touch bunch that are in there now are not worth even getting out of bed for on a fine day in June, much less a rainy day in November.

Turn them all out!! Support alternative candidates in local primaries. These guys have to be taught a lesson. And for those who say it's better than the alternative -- that's what I used to say -- but really -- at this point what's the difference between the parties? Virtually nil. If we are going to have a corrupt and out of control federal government -- at least let the Democrats take the blame, and maybe conservatives will come to their senses as the minority party and start to exert some fiscal control as they did during the Clinton years.

Deroy Murdock on Katrina & Congress on National Review Online

In Crash, Hollywood's finest movie so far this year, Terrence Howard plays a prosperous black filmmaker who tells a black gangbanger (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges): "You embarrass me. You embarrass yourself."

As a Republican, I say to the even more rapacious GOP Congressional leadership: "You embarrass me. You embarrass yourselves."

Not long ago, the Republican Congress at least pretended to be serious about keeping federal spending plausibly sane. While they hurled massive expenditures in every direction, at least their rhetoric honored the grassroots-Republican expectation that they would respect taxpayers' money.

But, save for a band of fiscally responsible backbenchers (about whom more soon), profligate congressional Republicans have surrendered on this front. Their leaders no longer try to restrain spending, nor do they even say the right things about stewarding tax dollars.

As the House of Representatives approved $62.3 billion in universally applauded assistance to Hurricane Katrina's survivors, fiscal conservatives attempted to reduce other spending. House leaders rebuffed their amendment.

"My answer to those who want to offset the spending is sure, bring the offsets," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R., Tex.) told reporters September 13. "But nobody has been able to come up with any yet." Asked if Washington operated at top efficiency, DeLay made free-market jaws drop when he said: "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority, we've pared it down pretty good."

That's right. And Elvis died of anorexia.

Since the "Republican Revolution" of 1994, domestic discretionary spending has grown from $259 billion to $466 billion, an annual average of 5.5 percent, Cato Institute scholar Stephen Slivinski calculates. Under President Bush, this figure has accelerated 8 percent per annum, on average, far ahead of inflation.

On President Clinton's watch, the 1998 highway bill groaned under some 1,850 pork-barrel items. The 2005 highway bill, written and signed by Republicans, virtually suffocated beneath 6,371 fishy projects (including $2.5 million for the Blue Ridge Music Center), a 244-percent increase in fiduciary recklessness. This year's federal budget, Citizens Against Government Waste reports, featured 13,997 pork-barrel items, 31 percent more than in last year's spending plan!

Consider the disgraceful $223 million bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island — Population: 50. This equals $4.46 million per capita. Obscene? This is fiscal pornography. $223 million very generously could grant 892 storm-swept families $250,000 to rebuild or relocate.

Asked to respond to critics who have urged him to reallocate this notorious bridge's budget to Katrina's victims, GOP Congressman Don Young, chairman of the 75-member House Transportation Committee, said: "They can kiss my ear!"

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yulia, Hillary, Geena and Susan

Posted by: BonnieBlueFlag

I rarely listen to anything that Susan Estrich has to say any more, I care nothing for Geena Davis or Hillary Clinton, and I certainly have no intention of watching the TV show with the first woman president, that is intended to prepare the American public to accept one before the 2008 election. Having said all of that, I did find a few chuckles in the following column.

Ukraine's First Woman Prime Minister
Susan Estrich
Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005

Next week, a woman will become president of the United States – on television.

In real life, Hillary Clinton leads every public poll for the Democratic nomination for president – and her candidacy will be the most important test of women's equality in my generation, precisely because so many Americans aren't ready for a woman president yet.

But while I would argue that women have a special obligation to support her for just that reason, unfortunately, it doesn't mean that women are necessarily better leaders.

Last week, in Kiev, the first woman prime minister of Ukraine got fired, amid charges of corruption that would be unimaginable here – a "virtuoso liar," she was called on one local television show. The "Wicked Witch of Kiev" would be more like it.

Ask Americans in an opinion poll if they're ready for a woman president, as the White House Project and the Sienna College Research Institute did last year, and three quarters or more will give you the answer you want to hear. What do you expect them to say?

So as any good pollster will tell you, if you want the truth, ask them about their neighbors. Are other people ready for a woman president? If you do that, the number of Americans who think that their neighbors are so inclined drops to two-thirds, which is a more accurate measure, at least of the starting point.

What they're afraid of, very clearly, is a woman like Yulia Tymoshenko. The just-ousted prime minister and now primary rival to power of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko started out in last year's famous "Orange Revolution" as a popular reformer and populist leader.

She was a beautiful and successful businesswoman, ambitious and attractive, widely described in the press as a firebrand. But she didn't earn her money the old-fashioned way – well, maybe she did.

Upon taking office, she made decisions that caused huge conflicts: ruling that all 3,000 "privatizations" – sales of assets by the prior government to private parties – should be reviewed and trying to freeze gas prices, with oil prices rising, creating a fuel shortage.

To many outsiders, those decisions confirmed fears that Ukraine would become hostile to private investment and unable to make the transition to a capitalist economy. Within Ukraine, they became the backdrop for the internal intrigue between the various wealthy players who control the major assets in the country as to whether and at what price the largest privatizations of the previous administration would be reviewed.

That would all be part of the transition to a market economy, were the government officials acting on behalf of the people as honest brokers, and not as Tymoshenko reportedly did, as a player seeking to make a profit for her own side.

Tymoshenko wears her hair parted like a peasant girl, but she buys her own jewelry – and she can afford the best. She lives in a very large glass house, if you know what I mean. Luckily for her, it isn't in this country.

She made her billions when her close friend and mentor, the much-married and now convicted former Prime Minister Pavel Lazarenko, had this idea about creating regional gas monopolies. And while lots of Ukrainians were shivering and starving, Yulia Tymoshenko started one.

According to author Matthew Brezinzki, Yulia ended up with nearly 20 percent of Ukraine's Gross Domestic Product. She also had her own fleet of private planes at 36.

Earlier this year, Lazarenko went on trial for money-laundering in Northern California, and Tymoshenko's name was all over the case. No one disputed that almost $200 million passed from her accounts to his while he was steering those contracts to her that made her a billionaire. Indeed, it was after Lazarenko fell out of favor, and was charged with corruption, that she originally became a populist.

During the Orange Revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko literally held hands with Viktor Yuschenko and came to symbolize the people's revolution. Even then, however, notwithstanding her rhetoric, there were articles questioning exactly who the billionaire "gas princess" really was. There were also articles about her changing hair color, not to mention the fake braid.

Dick Morris couldn't do a makeover like this.

Nonetheless, she was sufficiently successful to achieve the position of the country's first woman prime minister – and she seems determined to get it back.

Geena Davis is the president from central casting, literally. Yulia Tymoshenko is the one from the League of Women Voters' nightmares. She has been charged – or unindicted but could have been charged – with almost every crime that the Hillary Haters have ever gratuitously thrown at her short of murder: fraud, conspiracy, corruption, theft ... and in Yulia's case, there's reason to believe the charges are true.

Should Ukraine's voters return her because she is a woman? Of course not. They gave her a chance. That's all American women want. On television, and in real life.


Susan Estrich 9/24/2005

Inherit the wind? or Inherit the Myth?

By Aussiegirl

Don't miss the new post on Birdblog entitled "The Scopes Monkey Trial...Again". Tim Birdnow's brother, Dr. Brian Birdnow, tells us the real story of how it all happened. It's not the myth that has been promulgated by the press and the movie and play of that same name.

Birdblog: "Few events in American history have become as thoroughly propagandized as the celebrated 1925 criminal case of John Scopes v. Tennessee. In the popular imagination, spurred on by stage plays and movies such as 'Inherit The Wind' a brave band of free thinking schoolteachers, aided by an idealistic legal team faced down the forces of bigotry and ignorance in Dayton, Tennessee in the summer of 1925. In this view of reality, Clarence Darrow demolished William Jennings Bryan in cross-examination and exposed Biblical theories of creation as scientific balderdash. The laws against teaching evolution were overturned. the 'creationists' slunk back under the rock whence they came, Jennings Bryan died, and the world lived happily ever! How do we know this is true? The popular culture tells us this, so it must be so!"

Has it come to this? Not a choice -- but an echo?

By Aussiegirl

Mark Steyn asks some tough questions. Between the two parties -- where's the choice? Steyn joins a long list of conservative columnists who are suddenly asking the huge unasked question -- whither the Republican party under the leadership of George Bush and Karl Rove? He joins Peggy Noonan, Jonah Goldberg and Mona Charen in stating what has become obvious to all but the most die-hard Bush supporter -- something is seriously wrong with a party which is spending money with the wild abandon of a welfare queen with an unlimited fed-debit card. When Tom Delay states that there is absolutely no fat in the budget and that it has been "cut to the bone" -- you know you're in deep doo-doo. Next they'll be telling us that Vuitton bags for every hurricane survivor are a necessity of life that simply has to be part of the budget.

Politicians not giving us much of a choice

American politics seems to have dwindled down to a choice between a big government party and a big permanently-out-of-government party.

[...]That slab of meaningless emotive exhibitionism would make a good epitaph for the Democratic Party. The reality of life as a bigshot Dem is that what John Roberts is like "as a father" is less important than what George Soros is like as a sugar daddy. The more money shoveled at the party by Moveon.org, Hollywood, NOW and other unrepresentative fringes, the less it's able to see over the big pile of green to the electorate beyond. A party as thoroughly Sorosized as the Democrats is perforce downsized.

[...]These days one party raises a ton of money from George Soros and the other raises a ton of money from you. George Bush has committed to spending $200 billion on Gulf Coast "hurricane relief." The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore put the figure in perspective: There are supposedly half-a-million families displaced by Katrina. For $200 billion, you could give every family 400,000 bucks, and they could build their own beachfront home virtually anywhere in America except next door to Barbra Streisand's pad.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Celebrations in Gaza get underway with a big bang

By Aussiegirl

As usual, Hamas blames Israel. What's a celebration, after all, without a few fireworks?

Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas traded accusations over the weekend following the Friday evening explosion in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip that killed 19 people and injured more than 120.

The blast was reportedly caused by the explosion of Kassam rockets carried in the back of a pickup truck that was taking part in a Hamas rally organized to celebrate the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. According to the PA Health Ministry, a number of senior Hamas operatives were killed in the explosion, which was apparently caused when explosives in the truck were accidentally triggered. Of the dead, at least three were children under 15. Nineteen of the wounded were also minors, the ministry said.

PA officials held Hamas responsible for the explosion, but Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip claimed that Israel was behind the explosion and vowed to resume attacks on Israeli targets.

Pentagon says maybe yes -- maybe no on Able Danger testimony

By Aussiegirl

It's starting to look like the old switcheroo -- or maybe a case of good cop/bad cop -- but there's some serious miscommunication going on regarding the prospect of the testimony of 5 witnesses previously barred from appearing by the Pentagon. It's probably not true that 9/11 could have been prevented, but what is evidently is at stake is protecting some higher ups from the embarrassing revelation that a valuable tool which had identified the potential hijacker years prior to 9/11 was squelched and ignored. Now the evidence of that mistake is being systematically covered up, as it obviously was by the 9/11 Ommish-Commish -- whose job it was, obviously, to exonerate all the usual suspects and to come to some preconceived conclusions.

Pentagon, Senate committee bicker over 9/11 probe - Yahoo! News

The Pentagon and the Senate Judiciary Committee squabbled publicly on Friday about whether lawmakers could question five key witnesses in public about their claims the U.S. military identified four September 11 hijackers long before the 20001 attacks.

The Defense Department came under fire from Republican and Democratic lawmakers this week when it prohibited the same witnesses, including members of a secret military intelligence team code-named Able Danger, from appearing before the judiciary panel at a public hearing on Wednesday.

The panel's chairman, Republican Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, said at Wednesday's hearing the Pentagon could be guilty of obstructing congressional proceedings. Other lawmakers accused the Defense Department of orchestrating a cover-up.

On Friday, the Senate committee announced the Pentagon had reversed its position and would allow the five witnesses to testify at a new public hearing scheduled for October 5.

The Pentagon denied anything had changed, despite behind-the-scenes negotiations to reach a solution agreeable to both sides.

"Our position has not changed," Defense spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters. "This is a classified program and there are still aspects of it that are not appropriate for an open hearing. And that's what we have told the committee."

Not so, responded William Reynolds, the judiciary committee's director of communications.

"The Pentagon has agreed to make five witnesses available. Although there was no talk at the time when they made that offer, the assumption was that it would be in an open committee hearing," Reynolds said in an interview.

"If the Pentagon has issues with that, they need to let us know," he added.

Able Danger, now defunct, was a small highly classified data-mining operation that used powerful computers to sift through reams of public data in search of intelligence clues on a variety of topics.

WHO reports steep rise in obesity in poorer countries

By Aussiegirl

Is this really a problem? You'd think this was a good sign of growing prosperity. And what "actions" are they planning to take to stem this growing menace? Perhaps a few engineered famines would do the trick -- it sure worked for Stalin in Ukraine in the 1930's -- where over 7 million Ukrainians who were too plump for his taste were starved to death on his orders. Or maybe a Kofi Annan diet -- you get to eat whatever's left on the plate after he and his son and every other corrupt official in the UN gets his share. That should just about do it. Honestly, there's no pleasing these people, either they are worried that people are starving (and rightly so) or they are complaining that they are too fat.

New Scientist Breaking News - WHO reports steep rise in obesity in poorer countries: "A staggering one billion of the world's population of 6.45 billion is overweight, warns the World Health Organization. And rates of overweight and obesity are rising dramatically in poorer countries, not just wealthy nations.

If the current trend continues, by 2015 there will be 1.5 billion overweight people in the world. Being overweight or obese greatly increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

'The sheer magnitude of the overweight and obesity problem is staggering,' says Catherine Le Gal�s-Camus, WHO assistant director-general of noncommunicable diseases and mental health.

'The rapid increase of overweight and obesity in many low and middle income countries foretells an overwhelming chronic disease burden in these countries in the next 10 to 20 years if action is not taken now,' she says."

Where is the Iran policy

By Aussiegirl

This is an excellent article by Richard Ledeen which lays out the fundamental problem that our government seems to have no policy regarding Iran. President Bush talked a big game in his inaugural speech about standing with those who stand for democracy, but in Iran we have seen absolutely no support for the nascent pro-democracy groups and no assistance to an internal revolt. The policy seems to be to hope that by the time Iran has working nukes the mullahs will somehow have been magically replaced. The war in Iraq is now the only front in the war on terror, while the administration ignores the obvious intrusions of Syria and Iran into the fighting there. This is no way to win the war on terror. Unfortunately we've done nothing in N. Korea either, the talks there are a sham designed to kick the can down the road to the next administration.

Iran Bubbles Over -- Our enemy is still there.

While most media attention has been devoted to the 'diplomatic' United Nations visit of Iran's brand new terrorist president, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nezhad, the fascinating turmoil within Iran, both inside the mullahcracy and between the mullahs and the Iranian people, has gone largely unreported. There are three basic reasons for this silence:
First, because no Western government -- sadly including the Bush administration -- has any intention of taking serious action against Iran, even though everyone knows that Iran is directly responsible for killing thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans, Brits, and other Coalition soldiers and civilians.
Second, as a corollary to the first cause, because the whole question of Iran, which should be the central issue in the war against terrorism, has been reduced to a fatuous debate over the country's nuclear program, and the attendant phony negotiations between the EU 3 (Britain, Germany, and France) and the mullahs. It was obvious from the outset that no good could come from these talks, because Iran will not abandon its nuclear program and neither the Europeans nor the Bush administration are prepared to do anything serious about it. The sham nuclear negotiations were in large part a way of avoiding what should be the central issue: Iran's central role in the terror war against the West;

The Second Amendment lives! Judge rules gun confiscation illegal

By Aussiegirl

"No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons." ~~
Deputy Police Chief Warren Riley

At last, a victory for lawful gun owners. This is precisely why gun owners have always resisted the idea of registration. It was an outrage that law-abiding citizens were having their weapons seized while armed thugs and criminals roamed the streets with impunity. Check out this video of the Guard wrestling an old lady to the ground as they forced her out of her home. And watch the video of residents of a well-to-do area of New Orleans who were minding their own business while protecting their property. They were handcuffed and ultimately allowed to stay in their homes -- but their weapons were confiscated.

Watch this and be very scared. This is what the government is prepared to do to you in order to "save" you. Barge into your home with automatic weapons drawn, point the weapons at you threateningly, seize your legal firearms and forcibly take you from your home. Does this sound like America to you? Or does it sound more like Nazi Germany?

This is scandalous and outrageous. We are free citizens. Government in the guise of all-giving nanny becomes the agent of our own loss of freedom "for our own good". Frankly, if I want to die in my own home with my own pets then that's my privilege. I don't expect anyone to come and rescue me -- nor do I expect the government to forcibly arrest me and move me to a location where I can be "helped" -- if I don't want that help.

And let's not forget that it was the liberal and Democrat Mayor Nagin and his police chief who promulgated this policy of forcible removal and weapons confiscation. Remember that the nanny state ultimately becomes the police state -- all for your own good, of course.

(And note that the mayor and police chief filed false affidavits denying ever issuing such orders, when they are shown on videotape clearly ordering the same.)

HoustonChronicle.com - New Orleans police can't disarm evacuees

NEW ORLEANS - Gun rights groups won a temporary restraining order Friday preventing police in New Orleans and a nearby parish from confiscating people's firearms when seeking to evacuate residents.

U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey ordered the New Orleans Police and St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office to stop taking weapons from law-abiding people and return any they already took in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

In documents filed in federal court in Baton Rouge, La., New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, Police Chief Eddie Compass and St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain deny ordering the confiscation of firearms.

But news reports quoted Compass as saying that only law enforcement officials would be allowed to have firearms and Deputy Chief Warren Riley as saying, "We are going to take all the weapons."

Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, said his group documented 30 to 40 cases of people having their weapons taken away after Katrina hit Aug. 29.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Able Danger Part Deux

Posted by: BonnieBlueFlag

'Able Danger' Will Get Second Hearing

Friday, September 23, 2005

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department on Friday reversed its earlier decision to bar key witnesses from testifying about just how much information the U.S. government had on the Sept. 11 hijackers before they led the attacks that killed 3,000 people.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has therefore scheduled a second hearing for next week on the formerly secret Pentagon intelligence unit called "Able Danger.

Former members of Able Danger say the group identified Sept. 11 hijackers, including Mohamed Atta, more than a year before the attacks. Although those Able Danger analysts say they told the Sept. 11 commission about their findings, former members of the panel have so far dismissed the claim.

The Senate Judiciary Committee said in a statement Friday that the Pentagon now will allow five witnesses to testify. Among those are Army Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and defense contractor John Smith.

Shaffer said in written testimony last week that the Pentagon blocked him from offering information on Able Danger and its identification of Atta — the lead hijacker.

Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., had suggested that the Pentagon's refusal to allow the testimony "may be an obstruction" to the committee's work. Specter is the judiciary committee chairman.

The second hearing will focus on what happened with pre-attack charts and information allegedly destroyed at the behest of military leaders.

The committee held its first hearing Wednesday, after which senators still had questions.

"I think the Department of Defense owes the American people an explanation about what went on here," Specter said. "The American people are entitled to some answers."

Shaffer's attorney, Mark Zaid, also said that the Pentagon prevented testimony from a defense contractor that he also represents.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department had a representative at the hearing and that it had provided sufficient information to committee members.

“I think there are aspects of this as a classified program that we have expressed some concerns with respect to the appropriateness of some things in an open hearing,” Whitman told reporters after the first hearing on Wednesday. “We are working very closely to provide all the information that [committee members] need to assess Able Danger.”

Zaid fielded questions from committee members on behalf of Shaffer and contractor Smith. He testified that Able Danger, using data mining techniques, identified four of the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11, 2001.

Zaid said Shaffer would have testified about charts his team created dealing with Al Qaeda and a grainy photo on file of Atta.

“Shaffer remembers it specifically because of the evil death look in Mohamad Atta’s eyes,” Zaid said.

Pentagon officials had acknowledged earlier this month that they had found three people who recall an intelligence chart identifying Atta as a terrorist prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Specter asked the official representing the Department of Defense at the hearing, William Dugan, the acting assistant to the secretary for intelligence oversight, if the department had any information about an Al Qaeda cell and Atta.

"I don't know," Dugan replied.

Specter asked Dugan to "find out the answers to those questions" relating to what the department knew about the workings of Able Danger.

Able Danger personnel have said they tried to give the FBI information three times, but Defense Department attorneys refused, citing legal concerns about investigations run by the military on U.S. soil, Zaid said.

Former Army Major Eric Klein Smith also testified that he was instructed to destroy data and documents related to Able Danger in May and June of 2000, in accordance with Army regulations that limited the collection and holding of information of U.S. persons.

Klein Smith said the order to destroy data was not hostile or aggressive, it was a matter of policy. Asked if this information could have prevented Sept. 11, the major said he could not speculate, but believed it would have been significant and useful.

Klein Smith said that he did not remember seeing a picture of Atta, but said he believed "implicitly" claims by Shaffer and Phillpott that they had seen Atta's picture.

Zaid told committee members that some of the secret unit's records were also destroyed in March 2001 and spring 2004.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., was the first lawmaker to come forward with claims that the Sept. 11 commission that investigated pre-attack intelligence failed to accept offers from Able Danger staff about the data it had before the attacks.

Weldon said their refusal to hear from Able Danger's members makes the government record of intelligence incomplete.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge and Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fox News - Able Danger

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Condoleeza Rice is about to get tough with Iran

By Aussiegirl

Oh, wow - real scary, kids!! This is bound to set the terrorist Ahmadinijad to sweating in his turban!! The feckless UN!! The toothless IAEA!! Baradei on the rampage!! I'm sure the Iranians are divesting themselves of nukes as we speak in their frantic panic at the prospect of the nighmarish horrors of international pressure and scorn which await them!

TIME.com: Rice Outlines Next Steps in Iran Showdown -- Page 1: "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes U.S. and European diplomatic efforts will soon bear fruit in the form of international pressure on Iran to desist from its nuclear program. In a wide-ranging interview with TIME on Monday, the secretary of state indicated that Washington is confident of carrying the support of a majority of the 35 members of the board governing the International Atomic Energy Agency for a resolution to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its failure to disclose numerous aspects of its nuclear program. Still, Rice noted, U.S. and European representatives at the IAEA board meeting that opened Monday in Vienna are holding their fire in the hopes garnering near-unanimous support for the move in a body that typically operates by consensus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Surge in Shia violence in southern Iraq is linked to Iran

By Aussiegirl

Iran stirs the pot in Iraq. Looks like Mookie Sadr is still up to no good.

The Australian: Surge in violence linked to Iran [September 21, 2005]

THE violence that has erupted on the streets of Basra is the result of a simmering struggle between British forces and the increasingly powerful Shia Muslim militias active in southern Iraq.

While most attention in the country has been focused on the Sunni Muslim insurgency against the US-led forces further north, the British have been facing a sharp rise in attacks by an increasingly sophisticated and deadly foe.

There are strong suspicions the bloodshed is being orchestrated with weapons and encouragement from Iran.

In a classified report, military intelligence warned commanders that attacks on British forces were being deliberately intensified using a sophisticated new armour-piercing bomb developed in Iran.

The Iranians are suspected of providing Shia terror groups with the "shaped charges" that can penetrate even the thickest armoured protection. The charges, previously used by Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon against Israeli forces, are said to be similar in impact to three landmines.

So THAT's where all the hurricane relief went!

By Aussiegirl

Charity begins at home, after all.

Las Vegas SUN: Donations Found at La. Official's Home

Police found cases of food, clothing and tools intended for hurricane victims at the home of the chief administrative officer for a New Orleans suburb, authorities said Wednesday.

Officers searched Cedric Floyd's home because of complaints that city workers were helping themselves to donations for hurricane victims. Floyd, who runs the day-to-day operations in the suburb of Kenner, was in charge of distributing the goods.

What's Bubba doing up Bush's sleeve?

By Aussiegirl

Author J. James Estrada postulates a theory to explain the inexplicable coziness between the Bushes and the disgraced groper-in-chief Bill Clinton. I tend to disagree and find that the motive goes much deeper, to something that we are not fully aware of yet. And Able Danger may have something to do with it. I think these men are covering up for each other, because the powerful always have more in common with each other than they do with you or me or the truth coming out. All these years we've been reassured that Bush has an ace up his sleeve that he will pull out at just the right moment and show us all what a brilliant poker player he is. As BonnieB. so cleverly put it to me one day, after years of hoping that he had something up his sleeve it may turn out that all that's up there is either Karl Rove's arm -- or Bush's elbow.

The American Thinker: "Why would a Republican President give aid and comfort to a disgraced former Democrat President, who is hungry for a revised legacy?

Well, in watching the Monday Night Football games this week, the answer became clear. One couldn't help but be aware of the "Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund" during the evening that was devoted to fund-raising by the NFL and ABC-TV. The phrase was shown on the screen and mentioned so often, it was as if someone was desperately trying to tell you something beyond the obvious. My friend, during the course of the Cowboys demise to the Redskins, the - message - was received.

This is how the pieces of this puzzle come together. Bush goes out of his way to bring Bill into the fold. Bill answers the call. Bill and the elder Bush do their thing. Bill shows up, as he did this weekend, on the Sunday shows and trashes the President.

Do you see it? Keep reminding America about the unseemliness of all things Clinton!

The man's many character flaws are creating an Andreas Fault beneath his wife's presidential ambitions. Keep straining and applying pressure to the vulnerable area and one day, poof! The earth will move and everything that can be shaken will be shaken.

FOX NEWS ALERT!! Jet lands safely after circling for hours on the Fox screen!

By Aussiegirl

Pheww -- I am so relieved. The jet finally landed. I can't tell you how breathless I was hanging on the coverage for the last few hours as we watched that jet circle endlessly on the Fox news screen. Well, that solved Fox's and all the other cable TV news shows problems of what to show on live TV tonight - makes a break from the 24/7 hurricane coverage. Now if they would only cover Able Danger we might actually have news shows worth tuning in to. Watching this jet circle for hours as it burned off fuel was even less newsworthy than the usual LA car chase. What pathetic pap masquerading as news! I think the only thing that Fox et al. are praying for is the perfect storm - a CAT 6 hurricane that hits Aruba and kills Joren Van der Sloot and those stupid Kalpoe brothers. That would be the journalistic coup of the century. Then Greta could join the great spaceship in the sky with L. Ron Hubbard and we could all go home.

Who needs Pravda when you have tragedy TV on 24/7 -- the modern day equivalent of bread and circuses!

Very Long, Very Involved, and Very Important

Posted by: Aussiegirl and BonnieBlueFlag

September 16, 2005

Being Brunette Barbie: Hurricane Makes Congress See Light on Unqualified Immigration Nominee

By Debbie Schlussel

I and friends of mine, who are Homeland Security agents both inside and outside ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), have voiced concern and dismay over the President's nomination of Julie L. Myers, a 36-year-old lawyer (and confidant of another inept Homeland Security lawyer, Michael Chertoff), to become the new DHS Assistant Secretary over ICE.

Today, Associated Press reports that Congress is finally seeing the light concerning Ms. Myers. Too bad it took a catastrophic hurricane to do it.

I'm not a fan of Ohio's Republican pro-Islamist U.S. Senator, George Voinovich, but yesterday, he got it right: "I think that we ought to have a meeting with [Homeland Security Secretary] Mike Chertoff ... to ask him ... why he thinks you're qualified for the job," Voinovich was quoted as saying in The Washington Times. "Because based on your resume, I don't think you are."

Julie L. Myers has zero qualifications for the job. Being Brunette Barbie is not enough to run the most important agency in Homeland Security, which handles immigration (and does a horrible job at it). If Myers is confirmed, expect Abu Moskowitz (Brian Moskowitz) style malfeasance to continue and national security to be increasingly jeopardized.

Wait 'til you hear her other "qualifications." More on Julie L. Myers coming up. Stay tuned.

***UPDATE: Michelle Malkin also has a great post on this. And FYI, the wimpy Voinovich reversed course on Julie Myers and is now supporting her. I knew I couldn't trust him.

You should take the time to go to Debbie Schlussel's original article, for numerous additional links that are pertinent to this subject: Being Brunette Barbie
Posted by Debbie at September 16, 2005 10:44 AM

September 21, 2005

We Don't Need Another Homeland Security Hack
by Michelle Malkin

My fellow conservatives in Washington refuse to learn two vital homeland security lessons, one from 9/11 and the other from Hurricane Katrina.

Lesson Number One: If you neglect immigration enforcement, you will regret it.

Lesson Number Two: If you appoint political cronies in times of crisis, you will regret it.

The Bush administration has barely rebounded from the resignation of horse show organizer Michael "Heck of a job" Brown at FEMA, and yet is pushing forward with the nomination of another inexperienced bureaucrat to a key post at the Department of Homeland Security.

If this is supposed to be a shining example of Karl Rove's political genius, get him some stupid pills quick.

The new crony waiting in the wings is attorney Julie Myers, the White House pick to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). At the risk of stating the painfully obvious, the agency Myers would spearhead deals with "enforcement" of "immigration" and "customs" laws and policies. Myers has practical and managerial experience in none of the above.

Zip. Nada. Nil.

As I've reported many times over the past several years, one of this country's greatest vulnerabilities is its disgraceful lack of clear and consistent interior enforcement of our immigration laws. The detention and deportation system remains in shambles. Rank-and-file ICE agents are undermined routinely by open-borders superiors.

So, what exactly are the 36-year-old lawyer's main credentials to solve these dire national security problems? Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Her husband is DHS chief Michael Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood. Chertoff was also Myers' former boss for a short spell at the Justice Department's criminal division. Myers also worked at the Department of Commerce on export control policy under Michael Garcia, the departing head of ICE.

Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman, told the Washington Post: "She's well-known and respected throughout the law enforcement community…She has a proven track record as an effective manager." That is most certainly not what I'm hearing from rank-and-file employees at ICE and other parts of DHS, who have been brutal and vocal in criticizing Myers' nomination. By contrast, the silence of the usual open-borders suspects on the Left to this Bush appointment is rather telling.

Myers and her supporters think some cute sound bites will paper over her lack of qualifications for the job. "I realize that I'm not 80 years old," Myers testified at her nomination hearing last week. "I have a few gray hairs, more coming, but I will seek to work with those who are knowledgeable in this area, who know more than I do."

Please, spare us the not-so-clever rejoinders about age and wisdom. Reagan could pull them off. Myers can't. Why hire someone who needs to "seek to work" with those "who know more than I do" in order to her job? Myers may be perfectly capable of writing legal briefs and organizing policy conferences. I'm sure her knowledge of export controls is second to none. But as long as the borders are broken and al Qaeda continues to exploit lax immigration enforcement, she has no business heading ICE or any other DHS agency.

Old habits die hard, unfortunately. The Bush administration, like the Clinton presidency before it, has continued entrenched Beltway practices of installing no-nothing political seat-warmers in high places within the immigration bureaucracy. Bush appointed Eduardo Aguirre, a banker with zero experience in immigration law, to head DHS's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Bush has also named several Republican Party operatives with zero experience in immigration law to immigration court posts. It's hack heaven at DHS.

This must end. Cronyism and national security are a deadly mix. Do we really want to wait until another mass terrorist attack happens to finally learn that lesson?

Not another Homeland Security hack By Michelle Malkin

September 21, 2005

Desperate ICE-Wives: Who is Julie Myers?
By Debbie Schlussel

Remember President Bush's Saturday speech at the White House, after Katrina struck?

Behind him to his left was failed Homeland Security chief and lawyer Michael Chertoff. But to his right was Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I remember thinking: If only Bush had appointed a military or law enforcement type like Gen. Myers, to head up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)--the most important law enforcement agency in the War on Terror--instead of his niece, Julie L. Myers. Julie Myers is another lawyer like Chertoff, inept and inexperienced when it comes to law enforcement.

The White House claims that Ms. Myers is "well-known and respected throughout the law enforcement community."

Wrong. As one ICE agent wrote me, "What a joke of a nomination!"

Chuck Showalter, President of the National Homeland Security Council, the union for 22,000 DHS (and 7,800 ICE) employees, told me, "I haven't seen anything to show that she is qualified. . . . My members are worried about whether they will have someone on top that can support them." He said DHS employees are tired of "program managers with no experience" and want someone with a law enforcement or military background. Myers has none.

I've been hearing from ICE agents, since April, when it was apparent ICE chief Michael Garcia would leave, and Julie Myers would get the job.

They wondered what this 36-year-old's credentials were--besides being General Myers' niece and the bed partner of Chertoff's Chief of Staff (to whom she was then engaged and is now married). The clueless Myers needed days and days of tutoring from ICE executive management for her nomination hearings.

It's not that ICE agents were that impressed with their first boss, Assistant Homeland Secretary Garcia.

Under Garcia's "leadership," immigration went unchecked, and our borders hemorrhaged. ICE was a merger of the agent portions of the INS and Customs Service. But Garcia moved the focus away from immigration enforcement and terrorism money laundering to the less threatening--but more PR-sexy--realms of sex tourism and kiddie-porn trafficking.

Instead of investigating radical Islamic groups' money-laundering to Muslim terrorists, ICE Special Agents in Charge, like Brian Moskowitz (who oversees the heart of Islamic America--Michigan and Ohio), are hanging out at Hezbollah mosques (future column), pandering to "former" Islamic terrorists, and enlisting them in Arabic-speaking agent recruitment efforts. With Garcia's tacit approval, Moskowitz shut down many investigations into Islamic terrorist money-laundering and illegal Islamic immigration, hanging out with individuals tied to these operations instead.

Garcia spent his tenure doing questionable things like nominating guys like Terry Nelson for an ICE award. Nelson, a legacy INS employee, once oversaw prison contracts for holding illegal alien and immigration detainees awaiting deportation. He allegedly accepted luxurious vacations for himself and his family from a prison contractor. Yet, under Garcia's "leadership," instead of being prosecuted, Nelson remained a high-ranking ICE official, and was NOMINATED for an ICE leadership award! Instead of facing justice, Nelson still works in a cushy ICE job in Buffalo and runs girls' softball programs in his free time.

But, as bad as Garcia was, Julie L. Myers is worse. She has virtually no experience working with law enforcement. She claims her short stint as an Assistant Treasury Secretary overseeing money laundering and boycott issues is enough. But sources say that, in that role, she worked with current ICE Director of Investigations, Marcy Forman-Friedman, and the two engaged in a prolonged catfight--unable to get along and wrestling over who got credit for successful operations.

How will she get along with Forman, who is in charge of all ICE investigations, now? Will she push Forman toward the immigration problems she has ignored? Don't count on it.

Will Myers change the policy of promotions and rewards for malfeasance by renegade ICE "leadership." For example, what will she do about:

* Giovanni Guadioso, a/k/a "GG," who headed ICE's office in El Paso? As the press has much reported, he allegedly participated in a cover-up to conceal the involvement of an ICE informant in a series of violent murders, including the attempted murder of an undercover DEA agent. It's the subject of a high-profile lawsuit, too. But, instead of being suspended, he was PROMOTED to Deputy Director of ICE over its budget, staffing, and training.

* Jennifer Sedgebeer, a Texas ICE agent, who allegedly participated in handcuffing a woman to a hot tub because the woman refused to perform a sex act on Sedgebeer and her cop boyfriend? Sedgebeer was put on PAID leave.

* Two unnamed ICE agents still working for Moskowitz, with Forman's full knowledge? One was caught driving drunk in his federally-funded "G" car, soliciting a prostitute. Another is an alleged child molester, and habitually used his "G" car to stop and harass drivers on Western Michigan area highways for fun.

Then, there's New Orleans. Here's a little quiz:

What was the lead Homeland Security agency down in New Orleans from before the Hurricane hit to date? If you answered FEMA, you are wrong.
In fact, ICE was the lead Homeland Security agency designated by Chertoff to deal with Katrina aftermath, with Forman "running the show" from New Orleans' chic "W" Hotel.

It was a miserable failure. Many agents who volunteered to go to New Orleans were waiting for days and were never sent. Others were sent days late, too avoid paying overtime (the ICE "leadership" didn't realize that FEMA paid overtime and wanted to cut costs). Forman and ICE's New Orleans Special Agent in Charge, Michael Holt, were reportedly in Baltimore just prior to the hurricane, partying at a Forman reception--instead of making preparations.

As a brilliant ICE agent friend said, ICE honchos and people like Julie Myers "are transforming the good men and women of ICE and of DHS into a pathetic bunch of milquetoasts who are incapable of providing the most basic protections to the people of this nation."

Clearly, ICE is an agency with a lot of problems, problems that need the attention and know-how of a law enforcement or military veteran.

Not an inexperienced 36-year-old relative of important people.

***UPDATE: Check out Michelle Malkin's (POSTED ABOVE) excellent column on Julie L. Myers and latest blogpost about it.

You should take the time to go to Debbie Schlussel's original article, for numerous additional links that are pertinent to this subject: Who is Julie Myers?
Posted by Debbie at September 21, 2005 06:45 AM

Witnesses Ordered Not To Testify By The Pentagon

Continuing with Aussiegirl's clarion call regarding the secrecy about the Able Danger operation, this afternoon's update on the subject at CNN.

Able Danger Hearings

Specter: Pentagon may be obstructing committee
Officials ordered witnesses not to testify about secret program

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Defense "ordered five key witnesses not to testify" about a secret Pentagon unit that some claim identified several of the 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks, Sentate Judiciary

Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Wednesday.

"That looks to me as it may be obstruction of the committee's activities," Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said at the start of his committee's hearing into the unit code-named Able Danger.

Before Wednesday's hearing, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Pentagon was concerned about discussing a classified program in an open hearing and it had worked with the committee to provide a Department of Defense representative to testify. That representative was the acting assistant to the secretary for intelligence oversight, William Dugan.

Whitman also said the Pentagon is "working very closely with the committees of oversight to provide them with all of the info they need to assess Able Danger." The Judiciary Committee does not have oversight over the Pentagon.
At Wednesday's hearings, attorney Mark Zaid testified that his clients, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and defense contractor James Smith, had been prevented from testifying. Shaffer and Smith contend that Able Danger used data mining techniques to identify four of the September 11 hijackers, including Mohammed Atta, and that at least one chart existed that featured a photograph of Atta.

Shaffer and Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pennsylvania, have previously made these assertions in media reports and other public forums.

Zaid also testified that "at no time did Able Danger identify Mohammed Atta as being physically present in the United States." And, he said, "No information obtained at the time would have led anyone to believe criminal activity had taken place or that any specific terrorist activities were being planned."

Also testifying Wednesday was a former defense intelligence analyst, Erik Kleinsmith, who said he helped support Able Danger in 1999 and 2000. He testified that in April 2000 his work became "severely restricted and ultimately shut down due to intelligence oversight concerns," which led to the destruction of very large amounts of data about Able Danger, including information about Atta and other terrorists.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The spinning scarlett spiral in the windmills of my mind

By Aussiegirl

I'm scrolling through the news channels at the top of the hour and here is what I see -- a hurricane, Dan Rather complaining about a hurricane, a photo of a missing girl, and water dribbling into someone's yard from -- a hurricane -- and palm trees swaying in -- a hurricane -- a reporter
in a soaked slicker, reporting from -- a hurricane.

Meanwhile -- Islamist terrorists are plotting a nuclear holocaust in our cities -- North Korea refuses to come to an agreement to abandon its nukes -- Iran thumbs its nose at the UN and the world -- the avian flu may become the biggest pandemic since the 1918 disaster that killed millions -- China is arming -- Russia is making dangerous alliances -- Chavez in Venezuela is fomenting communist revolutions all over Latin America along with his pal Castro -- terrorists and illegals stream across our unguarded borders.

Hearings are about to be held on Able Danger -- but we don't know if we will be privy to them because someone very high up has removed the security clearance of the top witness in order to discredit him -- someone who has to be very high up in the Pentagon -- Sandy Berger has gotten a slap on the wrist for stealing and destroying top secret government documents which might incriminate top officials in malfeasance before 9/11 -- Clinton is publicly tearing the Bush administration to shreds while the Bushes pander and fawn before him and Hillary --

While the networks feed us pap and missing persons and hurricanes. Is this madness? Or are we being lulled to sleep by government and the media while the world spins out of control? Hush, little children -- take your SOMA -- and do not worry. The government will take care of you. A hurricane? -- don't worry -- there are unlimited funds in the government printing presses to buy everyone their own home on their own land. Need money? -- here's a debit card -- buy what you like with it. Vuitton bags? -- why go right ahead -- who are we to interfere with the free expression of your self esteem.

Meanwhile -- have you seen the latest picture of the hurricane? It's a beautiful if scary sight -- look -- it's red and pretty and it goes around and around in a spiral -- like a galaxy -- look, children -- don't take your eyes from the spinning scarlett spiral -- you are getting sleepy -- you are getting very sleepy -- you feel so drowsy and unconcerned that nothing in the world will ever trouble you again -- you are happy -- happy that your politicians have no allegiance to country or party or to people -- only to each other -- you are happy that there are powerful people in
government who take care of everything for you and pay for everything so you needn't worry.

See the water drain from New Orleans -- isn't it beautiful? All that water draining, draining, draining -- like the coffers of the government -- but the government has unlimited money -- and its money can do miraculous things -- it can buy popularity -- it can build bridges to nowhere at fantastic costs -- and it's all free -- see? -- it doesn't cost you a dime -- just look at the pretty picture of
the hurricane -- see how prettily it spins -- round and round the scarlett spiral goes -- over and over again.

And isn't it sad -- here's another pretty white girl who is tragically missing. Feel her loss -- feel her mother's pain -- don't think about the terrorists -- don't think about the war in Iraq -- just sleep, children, sleep -- and watch the commercials that urge you to buy -- and buy -- and buy -- to
make you happy. And here's Michael Jackson in Bahrain -- you'd forgotten about him, hadn't you? But there he is -- isn't that fascinating?

And when the hurricane is over we will show you beautiful tropical Aruba again? -- won't that be exciting? -- You can play at being Agatha Christie with Greta -- Isn't that more exciting than thinking about nasty old terrorists or politics? And when the hurricane is over there will always be car chases filmed from thrilling heights in moving helicopters -- see the cars roll endlessly through the maze of streets and canyons in LA -- sleep, children -- there's always something out here to amuse you -- so never fear.

Aren't you glad you have journalists to make sure that you are informed about the world? We are professionals -- you can leave the thinking to us -- we are highly trained -- for this we have trained our entire lives and attended J schools in the finest halls of academe, honing and practicing our skills in front of countless cameras -- we learned to apply our makeup in moving sound trucks and in the backs of humvees if necessary -- the world is our green room -- we live to bring the world to your living room -- we live to help you understand. We are Fair and Balanced -- we are Fox -- YOUR network - remember? We are the Republican party -- professional politicians -- you can leave the governing to us -- we are the party of BIG GOVERNMENT -- remember? Surely you remember -- just keep your eyes on the spinning scarlett spiral -- see how prettily it spins -- will it hit New Orleans again? Oh, what important things there are to worry about!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Happy First Anniversary

by: BonnieBlueFlag

And, what a tumultuous year it has been!

One year ago this month, Aussiegirl was bitten by the "Blog Bug." She was hesitant at first, and unsure if there would be sufficient news and topics, to maintain the kind of Blog that she wanted it to be.

I was very supportive of her desire to set up the Blog, while being very careful to never say that I would shoulder any great amount of responsibility for its care and feeding, and the good lord knows it requires feeding day in and day out.

There is an old saying about boats, especially the larger ones . . . "A boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into." I often think of that saying when I think of Blogs, because, "A Blog is a hole in Cyberspace, that you pour your heart and soul into!"

My contribution initially was a few original items, the first being an essay about the deer, turkeys, and other wild life in my yard. I did think about that essay Autumn Views recently, when I looked out over the yard and realized that I would soon be able to again say all the things that I had said that day.

As you might expect, we initially discussed and posted numerous things about the November presidential election, including pictures of John Kerry showing that he was indeed the long lost grandson of Frankenstein.

Aussiegirl was wonderful in keeping "Ultima Thule" current and interesting, while I continued to keep a lower profile, as I did not have the courage to be fully responsible for a Blog of my own. Throughout this time Aussiegirl was very encouraging to me, she was very helpful in building my confidence to post the items that I have written.

Then came the Ukrainian Orange Revolution! It was as if the fates had created a coincidence of circumstances that would be very special in an important age. Aussiegirl was someone of Ukrainian heritage who had not cast off her culture, or her language over the years, in favor of everything American.

Ultima Thule became an important place for people here, to learn in English about the Orange Revolution, and the people who would be quiet no longer, the people who wanted their freedom from Russia.

Ukrainians found Ultima Thule and recognized in Aussiegirl, a true friend and support in the US. In some instances, she was even able to teach them little things that had been lost to them over time, because of the Russian domination of Ukraine.

As for me, I learned a great deal. Old ideas and misconceptions about the people of Communist countries were put in the trash. Those misconceptions were replaced, with knowledge gained from someone who had first hand information about what her parents had lived through while in Ukraine, and what they had all endured in order to come to the United States via Australia.

Happy Anniversary to Aussiegirl and the Ultima Thule Blog.

Communist tango in Latin American

By Aussiegirl

Another great article from today's The American Thinker. Chavez and Castro are a dangerous combination in South America, and one wonders if this disturbing element is even on the radar of the present administration. Coupled with the fact that Chavez controls a large percentage of the oil that America imports, and that he is opening his borders not only to narco-terrorists but also to Al-Qaida and other Middle Eastern terrorists, he is going to prove to be a much bigger problem to deal with than Castro ever was, even in his heyday. Together they can dance a very destructive tango for our entire hemisphere.

When the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and China pursued market-led development, it seemed safe to assume that the threat of aggressive communism toppling national dominoes and dominating an entire continent was gone forever. But while America has focused its attention elsewhere, communism is on the move in South America, and the shape of a serious plan to dominate our neighboring continent has become evident. Even worse, our natural ally to resist such domination is strangely uninterested in defending its turf.

On a scale not seen since the 1960s, Cuba's Fidel Castro and his new ally, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, are aggressively seeking influence all through South America. The one power that could stop them, Brazil, is strangely asleep. As a regional power, South America's largest, most economically powerful - and most ambitious - country is proving to be a disappointment, and this couldn't happen at a worse time.

Brazil’s western neighbor Bolivia is about to hold a national election on Dec. 4 that could bring a third member to the Castro-Chavez axis to its leadership, a Marxist coca-growers' leader named Evo Morales. Castro and Chavez are working hard to ensure that he wins. Meanwhile, Bolivia's neighbors are subject to an intense subversion campaign as a result. How such events are resolved may determine the direction of the continent for decades.

Brazil's response so far to predators like Chavez and Castro is largely to ignore them and do nothing.

Salvador Allende was a KGB agent -- whodathunkit?

By Aussiegirl

Herb Meyer sticks his thumb in "The Mitrokhin Archive" and comes up with this plum -- the darling of the American left, Salvador Allende, was a communist stooge on the KGB payroll. Well, let's hope it at least brings to a merciful end the worshipful accolades awarded to Isabel Allende's tedious novels.

The American Thinker

Salvador Allende Gossens of Chile was an icon of the American left, the first Marxist to assume office via the ballot box. The CIA has been blamed for his overthrow and death, further enhancing his cult standing in Camrbidge, Berkeley, and Ann Arbor. Now, 35 years after his election, a book being published today in the U.K., The Mitrokhin Archive, Volume II: the KGB and the World, reveals that Allende was in fact a KGB asset, on the payroll. The London Sunday Times published a valuable summary yesterday.

BY FAR the most important of the KGB's contacts in South America was Salvador Allende Gossens (codenamed Leader by the KGB), whose election as President of Chile in 1970 was hailed as “a revolutionary blow to the imperialist system in Latin America”....

Regular Soviet contact with Allende after his election was maintained not by the Soviet Ambassador but by his KGB case officer, Svyatoslav Kuznetsov, who was instructed by the centre to “exert a favourable influence on Chilean government policy”. According to Allende’s KGB file, he “was made to understand the necessity of reorganising Chile's army and intelligence services, and of setting up a relationship between Chile’s and the USSR’s intelligence services”. Allende was said to react positively....

Kuznetsov arranged his regular meetings with Allende through the President’s personal secretary, Miria Contreras Bell, known as La Payita and codenamed Marta by the KGB. La Payita was Allende’s favourite mistress during his presidency. Kuznetsov reported that Allende was spending “a great deal of time” in her company. “His relationship with his wife has more than once been harmed as a result.” Despite Allende’s affairs, however, his wife, Hortensia, remained intensely loyal to him. Kuznetsov did his best to cultivate her as well as her husband.

In October 1971, on instructions from the Politburo, Allende was given $30,000 “in order to solidify the trusted relations” with him. Allende also mentioned to Kuznetsov his desire to acquire “one or two icons” for his private art collection. He was presented with two icons as a gift.

Needless to say, the American press is studiously uninterested in any of this important news.

Is the U.S. financing Palestinian Jihad?

By Aussiegirl

Diana West has a devastating column about the emerging policy of the Condoleeza Rice State Department towards Israel and the Palestinians. It's not a pretty sight, and another indication that the present Bush adminstration has a wrong-headed approach to peace in the Middle East.

Diana West: What have we paid for with Palestinian handouts?

Maybe it was that last $50 million that George W. Bush forked over to the Palestinian Authority in May that made the Gaza transfer between Israel and the PA this week so ... What was Condoleezza Rice's word for the lawless Palestinian stampede of looting and desecration that erupted after the Israeli withdrawal?


That is, something must have sweetened the deal to make Israeli-Palestinian coordination on this territorial handover so very ... How did Ms. Rice describe the dynamic that led to the flags of jihad terrorism being hoisted into a sky darkened by burning synagogues?


Successful and effective? Not everyone's first reaction, but maybe it all depends on what Ms. Rice was hoping for. The fact that burning synagogues failed even to singe the Secretary of State's assessment of diplomatic success and effective statecraft is nothing less than chilling. But maybe it reflects our arrival at a cold, new reality that calls into question administration attitudes toward longstanding American motives and goals in the Middle East.

Since the Oslo "peace process" began in 1993, Palestinians have received more than $1.5 billion from the United States -- more aid, as the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in August, than from any other single country.

All of which should make us wonder: Have we paid for a "peace process," or have we financed holy war (jihad)? Have we supported a "peace partner"? Or have we just helped create a terrorist state? Time, maybe a very short time, will tell what already seems clear -- except to our secretary of state. Or so I wish. That is, I wish it were myopia alone that had brought us to this not-so-pretty pass. It could be, however, that with the rise of Condoleezza Rice, the current Bush administration now reflects the re-ascendance of the old Bush-Baker-Scowcroft school of foreign policy Arabism.

That would explain the distressing symbolism in the State Department's apparent snub of Israeli offers of aid in the early aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as reported by the news Web site World Tribune.com. Certainly, State Department spokesmen have quite remarkably omitted Israel's name when ticking off countries participating in the relief effort. By now, the United States has received offers of assistance from Israel as well as Arab countries, the latter diplomatically elevated by silence on the former. In the strange, subtle (and not-so-subtle) world of diplomacy, the American cold shoulder "alarmed" Israeli diplomats "concerned that their country was being marginalized," World Tribune.com reported.

But why? Citing unnamed sources, the Web site wrote that "the administration was concerned that (Israeli aid) would deter Arab and Islamic countries from offering assistance." Frankly, if Israeli participation is considered a deal-breaker, then nuts to Arab and Islamic assistance. If we tolerate such bigotry -- like burning synagogues -- our future, I am afraid, does not look very bright.

Eyeless in Gaza continues

By Aussiegirl

Don't miss Caroline Glick's excellent piece today on Gaza's long shadow. Unfortunately, it is beginning to be clear that what was billed as a courageous and clever stand by Israel to withdraw from Gaza, thereby eliminating many security headaches, while simultaneously reaping whirlwinds of international and Palestinian good will and approval for its benevolent actions, has instead turned into a predictable security nightmare. Why is the Bush administration pursuing and pushing this losing policy in the Middle East which rewards terrorists and punishes Israel?

Sometime between destroying the abandoned synagogues, looting the destroyed Jewish villages, tearing apart the hothouses, throwing grenades at IDF patrols guarding Moshav Netiv Ha'asara - now athwart the new border, and shooting mortars at Sderot, the Palestinians discovered Egypt.

At the direction of Hamas, and with the help of PA militias and Egyptian soldiers, thousands of Palestinians crossed the wall separating Palestinian Rafah from Egyptian Rafah. Among the merrymakers, unknown numbers of terrorists crossed back and forth shuttling arms and reinforcements into Gaza in unknown quantities. IDF commanders looked on, and impotently stated that there is a high probability that al-Qaida operatives are among the newcomers. Oh well.

For his part, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz fecklessly railed against the Palestinians and Egyptians for doing nothing to seal the border. The beautiful agreement he negotiated with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman fell apart in 30 seconds and suddenly Mofaz was faced with the meaning of retreat: When you retreat, others take over and you have no ability to stop them because you are not there. Oh well.

The Palestinians minced no words about their goals for the future. Hamas wants to liquidate all of Israel. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said on Tuesday, "We know our nation is expecting us to continue the liberation journey until the flag of Islam is raised over Jerusalem. This land should not have any Zionists on it." That is, Zahar called for genocide. Oh well.

As the IDF was attempting to make sense of the new security insanity forced upon it by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Sharon himself was ignoring the reality he created back home as he basked in the glory bestowed upon him in New York by President George W. Bush for his "courageous" surrender to Palestinian terrorism.

Ultima Thule celebrates one year anniversary

By Aussiegirl

It hardly seems possible that it was one year ago today I wrote my first post on Ultima Thule – it seems like yesterday – and yet it seems an eternity has passed.  Since then, we have gone through the turbulent run-up to the presidential election with all the debates and controversies, and all the fun and nonsense of the political conventions.  Swiftboats sailed into the fray and forever changed the political scene.  Then in October the Orange Revolution swept onto the snowy, wintry streets of Kyiv, and a new democratic country took shape in the homeland of my ancestors.

I want to say a special thank you to Walter G. who publishes Pajama Pack, for getting me into this mess -- I mean business. He talked me into doing it and also encouraged me in the beginning. Also thanks to everyone who has dropped in to Ultima Thule and taken the time to read or comment.  

I hope to continue writing and commenting on this site while watching world events unfold.  I don’t think we have ever lived through such momentous – or perilous times.  It’s not for nothing that the Chinese curse is said to be: “May you live in interesting times.”  And another Chinese curiosity also comes to mind – I have been told that the Chinese character for “danger” is also the same as for the word for “opportunity” -- which is how I see the world we are living in currently -- one fraught with danger, but also pregnant with possibilities.  It’s these issues that we follow here on Ultima Thule, along with a bit of stuff and nonsense and some fun and inspiration now and then to leaven the pie.  

I hope you continue to check in, especially now that BonnieBlueFlag has joined the team.  Stay tuned – there never seems to be a shortage of news!