Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ex-Gitmo Bomber's Mosul Death Toll

Former Guantanamo guest, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, exploded himself across the Iraqi city of Mosul last Thursday as posted here. At that time, the only casualty reported was al-Ajmi alone. It's a different day.

As the story developed, the suicide attack happened Saturday April 26. Religion of Peace (access avail at top of page) lists the attack as: 4/26/2008, Iraq Mosul, 9 (killed) 11 (injured), Nine people are murdered in two Fedayeen suicide bombing attacks.

The blog, Not Yet Melted, explains:

Al Ajmi was repatriated to Kuwait November 3, 2005, where he was freed on bail, while he awaited trial. His trial began in March 2006, and he and five others were acquitted on July 22, 2006.

On April 26, in Mosul, seven members of the Iraqi security forces were killed by suicide car bombing, thus proving the excellence of the legal services provided by leading American law firms like
Shearman and Sterling.
The English language daily newspaper, International Herald Tribune, writes much the same:

The cousin, Salem al-Ajmi, told Al-Arabiya on Thursday that the former detainee was behind the latest attack in Mosul, although he did not provide more details.

Three suicide car bombers targeted Iraqi security forces in Mosul on April 26, killing at least seven people.
The Miami Herald is reporting the same figures.

Power Line expresses the opinion, which I share, that a bigger scandal than the four star treatment detainees get at Gitmo is "that we have put terrorists like Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi back in a position to wage war against us and to kill innocent people like the seven in Mosul."

It's not like we don't know what will happen when the captured enemy is released on just the promise the bad guy won't return to the battle. Parole, as the practice has been known for hundreds of years, was granted to British prisoners during the American Revolutionary War only to return to their units and the battlefield. Parole was common during the Civil War with the same results for both the North and the South. The Union Army solved the problem by asking for volunteers among the Southern prisoners to serve in the Union Army in Indian Territory.

Other than that one solution, the practice has usually been a failure except in the great long ago when a man's word was his bond. The American Civil War put a stop to the practice when it became apparent the Confederate Army could only maintain its strength through parole. With the loss of the honor concept, the only options left are imprisonment for the duration or take no prisoners.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, May 02, 2008

US Saves Earth by Doing Little to Nothing

Do gooders, according to the chart data, are killing us and destroying the Earth. The Kyoto Protocol were meant to reduce the signatory nation's greenhouse gas emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012. As we all know, because we are told every day, the US is the biggest and worst offender.

The United States, a Member of Parliament reminded us a few years ago, is 5% of the Earth's population and contributes 20% of the GH gasses that cause Global Warming - as bogus as that proposition is. Though the accords were signed by Vice President Al Gore, the Clinton did not sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification. The Senate voted on a pre-emptive resolution in which the treaty symbolically failed 97 votes to zero.

Even without the Kyoto Protocol as a Sword of Damocles, the US is out performing the Euroweenies and other signatories at holding the GH gasses at just above the 5% target (6.6%.) Though the US didn't sign, there was always the moral high ground to defend, so the US, by default, had to perform at a superior level. What's really interesting is that all the nations that did not sign on are also beating the performance of the signers.

Could it be that the trading of carbon credits actually increases the supply of atmospheric carbon just like the laws of capitalism would predict? Carbon in the form of CO2 is the product in demand. The initial low supply with an initial and growing demand would require that more CO2 be created to meet the increased demand. Somebody is getting very rich.

Al Gore?

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

John Bolton: UN, US, and Reform

Photo: Pamela Geller of Atlas Shugs, Amb. John Bolton, and Woman in Red

America's Interests and the U.N.

John Bolton
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Jeane Kirkpatrick was frequently asked why the U.S. didn’t simply withdraw from the U.N., and her answer was, “Because it’s more trouble than it’s worth.” The fact is that the U.N., at times, can be an effective instrument of American foreign policy. Of course, to say this is heretical to the real devotees of the U.N., for whom the U.N. shouldn’t be an instrument of anyone’s foreign policy. But the fact is that everybody who participates in the U.N.—all of the 192 member governments, all of the non-governmental organizations, and all of the civil servants in the U.N. secretariats—try to advance their own interests. The only entity that gets criticized for that, needless to say, is the U.S. government.

Although I want to talk about some of the U.N.’s failings in the international security area, I first want to mention an issue that doesn’t get as much attention, but which in many respects is more troubling and affects American interests in ways that could have a profound impact well into the future. This is what our friends in Europe call “norming.”

“Norming” is the idea that the U.S. should base its decisions on some kind of international consensus, rather than making its decisions as a constitutional democracy. It is a way in which the Europeans and their left-wing friends here and elsewhere try and constrain U.S. sovereignty. You can see how disastrous this would be just by looking at the geography of the floor of the U.N. General Assembly. Look out at the representatives of the 192 governments spread out over the floor and you wonder where the U.S. even is. Well, we’re there somewhere. But the fact is that we’re sitting with a majority of countries that have no traditions or understanding of liberty. The argument of the advocates of “norming” is “one nation, one vote.” That sounds very democratic: Who could object to that? But its result would be very anti-democratic. As an illustration of this, a friend of mine once went to a conference on international law and heard a professor from a major European university say, “The problem with the United States is its devotion to its Constitution over international norms.”

We have controversial issues within the United States—issues that we debate, and over which reasonable people can disagree. But these controversies should be resolved through our political process, according to our Constitution, just as other countries can resolve their controversies as they see fit. Take, for example, the question of the death penalty. This is a matter about which many people feel very strongly, both for and against. We’ve just seen New Jersey repeal the death penalty. At the federal level, procedures have been reformed to meet objections from the Supreme Court, so that the death penalty can be handed out in appropriate cases. Opinions on the subject change constantly as we debate in the U.S. whether we should have a death penalty and, if so, under what circumstances. But at the U.N. this debate is closed; the death penalty has been ruled out. The new Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, comes from South Korea—where they still have the death penalty—and last year, during his first few months in office, he remarked that this question is for each government to decide for itself. Upon saying this, he was all but subjected to articles of impeachment for failing to realize that the U.N. had already decided that question for all countries.

As I say, I think it’s perfectly legitimate to debate the death penalty from either side. But it is inconceivable to me that anyone can seriously argue—as advocates of “norming” do—that the death penalty violates international standards of human rights, when in a democratic society like ours we are debating it.

Another issue on which “norming” is brought to bear is gun control. In 2001, the U.N. had a conference about international trafficking in small arms and light weapons—weapons that flow into conflict zones and pose a risk to U.N. peacekeepers. The idea was to discuss methods to deal with this threat. But the discussion turned out to have nothing to do with small arms and light weapons in African or Asian civil wars. Instead it was about gun control in the U.S., with advocates of “international norms” pressing for the prohibition of private ownership of firearms of any sort. The U.S. delegation made it clear that while we were concerned about the illicit flow of weapons into conflict areas, we were not going to sign on to any international agreement that prohibited private ownership of guns. I explained that we had a Constitution that precluded any such restrictions. This was treated as an entirely specious notion.

These are the kind of “norming” exercises by which foreign governments hope, over time, to build up a coral reef of U.N. resolutions and pronouncements that can be used to manipulate U.S. policy.

Although the U.N. is perfectly capable of passing resolutions about the death penalty and gun control—not to mention smoking—it has proved utterly incapable, even after 9/11, of agreeing to a definition of terrorism that would enable it to denounce terrorism. The U.N. is incapable of doing this, even to this day, because several member governments think there is good terrorism and bad terrorism. It is inconceivable, in my judgment, that the U.N. will ever be able to agree upon a definition of terrorism that’s not complete pablum—and therefore utterly useless.

So in all the areas where the U.N. shouldn’t be involved—issues best left to sovereign countries—it is very successful in passing judgment, especially when it can spit in the eye of the U.S. But in the one area where the U.N. could be of most use in promoting international peace, it has failed completely. So much for “norming.”

Attempts at Reform

We, as Americans, are pretty practical people. We like to solve problems. I think that’s the way most Americans approach the United Nations. So we have looked for ways to make the U.N. work better. But virtually every serious effort to reform it over the years has failed.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Most of us are familiar with the oil-for-food scandal—the mismanagement and corruption that accompanied the efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people after the first Iraq War. Even Kofi Annan, the previous Secretary-General, recognized that this scandal caused grave damage to the U.N.’s reputation. Thus he brought in Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, to investigate and propose reforms. One of Volcker’s most important findings was that the oil-for-food scandal was not a unique incident—that it represented flaws endemic to the entire U.N. system. So Volcker proposed a whole series of reforms, chief among them being effective outside auditing of U.N. programs. We worked hard with other governments to get these reforms adopted by the General Assembly. Months and months of negotiation led to a vote by the U.N. Budget Committee, and the reforms were rejected by a margin of about two to one.

Let me repeat this for emphasis: The U.N. Budget Committee voted two to one against effective outside auditing of U.N. programs. This tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how the U.N. operates. And I should add that the countries voting in favor of these reforms contribute over 90 percent of the U.N.’s budget, whereas the countries voting against them contribute under ten percent.

We engaged in another reform effort to fix the U.N. Human Rights Commission—a body that everybody in Europe, and even Secretary-General Annan, admitted was a stain on the U.N.’s reputation. It spends most of its time defending human rights abusers and passing resolutions critical of the U.S. and Israel. We proposed a series of procedural reforms that would have changed the membership of the Human Rights Commission in a way to rid it of the worst human rights offenders. But the third world countries, led by Russia and China, adamantly refused to consider these reforms. One by one, our European friends allowed them to be dropped, so that the reform package got smaller and smaller. I knew that the effort was completely lost when it couldn’t even be agreed that governments under sanctions by the Security Council for gross abuses of human rights or support for terrorism would be prohibited membership on the new Human Rights Council. At that point I recommended to the Secretary of State that we vote against the resolution. But ultimately the new Council was created with only four countries voting against it—the U.S., Israel, and our other two close allies, Palau and the Marshall Islands.

The Europeans criticized us at the time for giving up on reform, and my response was that it is foolish to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a butterfly. But in the end the Europeans cared less about reforming the Human Rights Commission than bludgeoning the U.S. into being more submissive to the U.N. So they expressed outrage at us, rather than at the countries that had rejected real reform. Subsequently, even the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post—neither of them conservative supporters of the Bush administration—called the new Human Rights Council even worse than its predecessor.

What I concluded following my 16 months as ambassador—and based on my work in the U.N. system dating back to my earliest service in the Reagan administration—was that efforts at marginal or incremental reform of the U.N. are doomed to failure. Instead, I believe that we should focus on one issue: changing the arrangement by which financing of the U.N. is mandatory.

Under the current system, the U.S. pays 22 percent of the cost of most U.N. agencies, and 27 percent of peacekeeping costs. We are far and away the largest contributor, and every year Congress pays the bill as apportioned by the General Assembly. My revolutionary reform principle would be this: The United States should pay for what it wants and insist that it get what it pays for. This would break up the entitlement mentality at the U.N. and foster an organization that is both more transparent and more effective.

Unfulfilled Promise

International peace and security was the objective that motivated the founders of the U.N. after World War Two. And it is precisely here that the U.N.’s promise has been least fulfilled during its 60-plus years of existence. During the half-century of the Cold War, the U.N. was fundamentally irrelevant to the great struggle between liberty and tyranny due to the make-up of the Security Council and the veto power held by the Soviet Union and, later, by the People’s Republic of China. Since the end of the Cold War, many people have thought it possible that the U.N. could play a more important role in world affairs. These hopes have been completely dashed.

Take the present case of Darfur. Acts of genocide have been committed by the government of Sudan against the people of the region, and unspeakable brutality has gone on for over three years. Yet the Security Council has been incapable of inserting a U.N. peacekeeping force. Why is that? In part, it is because China has given protective cover to the Sudanese government. And why does China do this? Because it has a large and growing demand for energy and wants oil and natural gas leases in Sudan. Thus the genocidal government of Sudan has stood down the entire U.N. Security Council for years.

Or consider the case of Iraq. In the aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent expulsion of Iraqi forces by the U.S.-led coalition, we and Saddam Hussein agreed to a cease-fire based on a number of conditions expressed in various Security Council resolutions. Saddam Hussein ignored those resolutions. Leaving aside the issue of weapons of mass destruction, there’s no doubt that he failed to comply with the cease-fire resolution and other key resolutions of the Security Council. Yet when President Bush suggested that the Security Council take its own resolutions seriously, he was rebuffed. This is a perfect example of the U.N. being willing to talk but not act.

What is the lesson learned when unlawful governments are the subject of repeated resolutions by the Security Council and yet suffer no consequences for ignoring them? We find the consequences played out now in two direct threats to the U.S. and to international order: the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran. And, as in the days of the Cold War, the U.N. is fundamentally irrelevant in the face of these grave threats to world peace.

I’m sure all of you recall the Israeli Air Force raid last September that destroyed a major facility in Syria. It turned out to be a nuclear facility that was being constructed with the assistance of North Korea, quite possibly financed by Iran. This reminds us of the real threats we face, of the ineffectiveness of the U.N., and of the importance of U.S. military power and foreign policy.

There is one point of view here in America—a view given expression during the 2004 presidential campaign by Senator Kerry—holding that American foreign policy should meet some kind of “global test.” By this way of thinking, America needs, in effect, to demonstrate the legitimacy of its foreign policy decisions by getting the approval of the U.N. Security Council or some other international body. The same suggestion will no doubt surface again this year, in the run-up to the November election. In the 21st century, then—just as in the 20th—the political decisions we make here in the U.S. will be much more significant than those made at the U.N.

The preceeding was adapted from a speech delivered at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona, on February 11, 2008.

Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Former Gitmo Guest Explodes in Mosul

Former Guantanamo prisoner, Abdullah Saleh al-Ajmi, carried out a suicide attack in Mosul, Iraq. Al-Ajmi was released from Gitmo in 2005 apparently because he showed no signs of rejoining terrorist forces despite the fact that he was taken prisoner for acting in a terror capacity.

A friend said, "We were shocked by the painful news..." Shocked because a terrorist carried out a terrorist attack? Abdullah had a son after his release from Guantanamo Bay. If the hostilities last long enough, please don't be shocked when Abdullah, Jr. grows up and blows himself to kingdom come along with as many innocents as possible. It's what mohammadan lunatics do.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Romanovs (and Reagan) are Dead - Get Over It

Ninety years after being kidnapped and executed by Bolshevik revolutionaries in 1918, it is now official - Russian Tsar Nicholas II, his wife the Tsarina Alexandra, and their children (Tsardines?) Maria, Alexei, and Anastasia - are dead.

The remains of the Romanov parents and three of their children were unearthed in 1999 in Ekaterinburg where it's believed they were taken to be killed.

The skeletal remains of two bodies were found in a burned field near Ekaterinburg in September 2007. The governor of the region Sverdlovsk made public in April 2008, that DNA research has proved the remains belonged to crown prince Alexander and his older sister Maria. Nadia Kizenko, a Russian scholar at the University at Albany, State University of New York said, "It was 99.9 percent clear they had all been killed; now with these shards, it's 100 percent ... Those who regret this news will be those who liked the royal pretender myth."

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jeremiah Wright Was Born a Poor Black Child

The Jeremiah Wright that Barack Obama spoke about in his Race Speech is a figment, a phantasmagoria, a clever ruse that doesn't hold up under light and truth.

As background, Obama spoke of "Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments" which "helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white..."

"A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families - a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened...

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

...for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table...

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews."

One would think from the Obama race speech that Jeremiah Wright was born into the very poorest of circumstances, lived a horrid life of abject poverty and want, and lived in something akin to plantation slave quarters.

Wright's story, however, is something quite different. Jeremiah Wright was born in a 1941 Philadelphia mixed race neighborhood. Germantown boasted of broad tree-lined streets and middle class families. His father, one the first blacks with a degree from the Philadelphia Lutheran Theological Seminary, was the pastor at Grace Baptist Church. His school teacher mother was the first black teacher of academics at Roosevelt Junior High, Germantown High, and Philadelphia High School for Girls where, in 1968, she became vice-principal.

Jerry Wright did not attend any of those schools, though. He bussed himself several miles to the elite Central High which admitted only the most qualified and privileged. Wright matriculated in 1959. During his years of attendance, Central High was 90% white and 75% of those were Jewish. Former students, like Bill Cosby, say that racial tensions were not part of school life.

Jerry declined his student deferment and signed on with the US Marine Corps, and served in the 2nd Marine Division in 1963. After 2 years, he transferred to the US Navy to become a Corpsman. He graduated Corpsman School as salutatorian and was awarded a spot on the LBJ presidential medical team where he received three commendations.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright has retired from the Trinity United Church of Christ. He will live out the sunset of his years in a million-dollar home given to him by the Church as a gift. The home is adjacent to Odyssey Country Club and Golf Course in Tinley Park, an almost all white Chicago suburb. Wright purchased the land for $345,000 in 2004, then sold the land to the Church that immediately mortgaged the property for $1.6 million. The 10,340 square feet brick home, about 4 times the size of the average suburban house, has four bedrooms, a four car garage, an elevator, and an exercise room.

Not bad for a man who started life as a poor black child who grew rich selling religion and hate. I'm just glad he wasn't selling drugs and guns; he could have done some real damage.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Internet Restoration, or How I Learned to Love ATT

For several weeks I have had problems with my ATT Internet connection. The DSL would cut out intermittently and, of course, the Internet signal would be lost. Yesterday, the signal was lost completely.

I had set a goal this year of posting at least once a day and now that's been interrupted, though, because I have plenty of days with extra postings, I'm going to let it slide. But, I was left disconnected from the world like the Associated Press. Not knowing what was going on in the world, I began to think I was a Democrat again.

I called Tech Services and was routed to India. The young man gave his name as Raj, which is a whole lot better than previous year's practice of taking common American Mid-Western names like Mike, Mary, Bill, Bob, Joe, Jane, Shawneyqua in hopes of fooling the client into thinking we were really talking to a good ol'folks in Oklahoma where the wind comes... well, you know the story.

Anyway, Raj took all my info, skipped all the normal prelim testing procedures - unplug/plug the modem, switch off/switch on the computer, so on and so forth - because I had already done all of those things two or three times. So, he connected me to a tech named Rick right here in my neighborhood . Rick tested the line and said, "That's not good." Now, that's like a dentist who says, 'Oops' in the middle of a proceedure. So I asked, "What?" as intelligently as I could. He said the download rate (from ATT to me) was great, but the upload rate (from me to ATT) was almost non-existent. Yeah, like I haven't heard that before.

We set up a repair appointment for Monday at the usual hour - sometime in the afternoon. Good thing I had the day off. Because of the slow economy, the company I work for is only operating four days a week. Because I'm the manufacturing schedule guy, I was asked to pick one day per week that we would shut down. I said Wednesday - work two days, off one, work two, off two - but nooooo. Monday or Friday, that was the choice. I picked Monday. Everyone else wanted Friday, but now after a couple of weeks, they like Mondays off better because it's more relaxing after the weekend.

Rick arrived right on time. He checked all the line filters that I had just replaced as part of my troubleshooting, he tested the internal line, and he got the same results as he did from the office. Rick then sat down at my HP Pavillion dv6000, entered that magic code that only techs know and, as we say when making fun of the French, Walla! The computer sprang to life with Internet and everything, just really, really slow - 77kb/s. It should be closer to 500kb/s. Nice springing nonetheless. Like Lazarus, it had been dead only moments before.

The good news was that the problem wasn't on my side even though my upload signal was weak. I don't have to pay for the visit - ha! Rick told me he had just come from another guy in the apartment complex down the street who had the same problem. He would have to check the relay node located at the fillin' station down on the corner. It seemed to him that a comm-card was malfunctioning; it wasn't splitting the voice and data signals properly. Each card handles the Internet traffic of several hundreds of users, he told me.

He came back about a half-hour later and checked everything again. Everything was fine and dandy, he left his business card, I thanked him, and he was on his way leaving me to wonder, "Who was that masked man?" Then I remembered the business card. DOH!

Okay, here's the thing. In Austria yesterday, a woman was found to have been kept hostage in a secret basement for 24 years by her father. The girl's mother, who lived in the same house, claims she didn't know. How could this happen? We wonder how hundreds of apartment dwellers could have not called police in 1964 when Kitty Genovese was being attacked twice, raped, stabbed, and killed over a 30 minute period with no one coming to her aid, though several did call the cops (note - most of the 'facts' reported in the press at the time were wrong; some things never change.) We wonder how thousands of people did not know what was happening in Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz, and many other NAZI concentration camps when the smell alone should have been a clue, not to mention the thousands of people who went into the camps, but didn't come out again.

Of the hundreds of ATT Internet subscribers in my area, why were there only two people who reported the problem leading to the discovery and replacement of a faulty comm-card which benefits all? Thomas Jefferson is still right when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "...all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

That alone should tell us that Obama simply cannot win.

And thanks to ATT, I'm back!

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.