Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An example of the CIA doing their job

A top Central Intelligence Agency official traveled secretly to Islamabad this month to confront Pakistan’s most senior officials with new information about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to American military and intelligence officials.

The C.I.A. emissary presented evidence showing that members of the spy service had deepened their ties with some militant groups that were responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the officials said.

The decision to confront Pakistan with what the officials described as a new C.I.A. assessment of the spy service’s activities seemed to be the bluntest American warning to Pakistan since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks about the ties between the spy service and Islamic militants.

The C.I.A. assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

-- NY Times

Everyone knows that the biggest nexus of terrorism is in northern Pakistan, and that ultimately, we will have to deal with this problem if the Pakistani's don't. That said, I really really don't want American forces operating in northern Pakistan. I want Pakistan to clean their own god damned mess up, as the groups in their backyard are attacking nations far beyond their borders. I don't want war, but the simply can't tolerate a haven for folks who instigate attacks, such as 9/11, and then run back to an untouchable home base.

We need the Pakistani's to clean up their backyard. If that's by removing the support for terrorists from within their intelligence agencies or by helping them successfully retake their own territory, I don't really care.

The best scenario is for the militants in the north to adhere to the treaty they signed with the government to prevent insurgents from training in their tribal areas and to prevent said insurgents from crossing into the Afghanistan border. Realistically, that isn't going to happen (as they have broken this same sort of treaty twice already), so we need to support the Pakistani military when they again attempt to pacify the north. That doesn't necessarily mean American boots on the ground, but we need to make sure that the Pakistani's receive support so they can clean up their own mess. I don't want to violate the sovereignty of a nuclear-armed country, but the reality of the situation is they most likely will continue to be ineffectual and will drag their feet when we present evidence to them. In that case, and I hate saying it, the next president (be it McCain or Obama) will be pushing the military into the northern frontier of Pakistan. Both of these candidates have supported the idea of unilateral action in northern Pakistan before, so I'm hoping that the Pakistani's will realize that we are serious and will clean up their own mess... similar to the realization they had about needing to play ball with us in the months immediately after 9/11.

BBC: Alzheimer's drug 'halts' decline

Holy moly!

UK scientists have developed a drug which may halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

Trials of the drug, known as Rember, in 321 patients showed an 81% difference in rate of mental decline compared with those not taking the treatment.

--http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7525115.stm

Monday, July 28, 2008

Exploratorium!

Eric, the kids and I had a fantastic time at the Exploratorium today. To celebrate his birthday, Eric wanted us to go, as the two of us really enjoyed ourselves when our parents took us there. Last time we went, Danica was barely three years old and Kira was an infant. Now that they are seven and five, it was the perfect time to go back. Below are a few photos that I took:

One of the exhibits focused on how your brain reacts when items that are acceptable to you are presented in an unacceptable format... such as drinking from a perfectly fine water fountain that happens to be in the shape of a toilet...
What amazed us was that Kira simply walked up, took a few long drinks and when she noticed that a few people in the crowd were uncomfortable with it, she looked at me and clearly said that she had no idea why people in the crowd looked uncomfortable. On the flip side, Danica, didn't exactly embrace the drinking fountain toilet. :) I guess once Kira hits elementary school, she'll be instructed in the miracle of shame...

The kids with Eric

Kira and Eric hamming it up

Kira wishing the tree the best of luck

Happy sisters

"What does this do?!?"

Kira draws a picture of me

I mentioned how much I love this sign to Eric, and he said that it's pretty obvious if you spend any time on the internet...


When the kids and I drove home, I decided to take them down the windy road on Lombard Street. There was one hell of a wait there, however we got to go down and have fun. Unfortunately, that dropped us off on Columbus street, which was packed due to some party that was being held in a local park. A lot of time passed before we made it through downtown and near the entrance to the Bay Bridge, however I got pulled over by SFPD right before driving out of town. Apparently the car pool lane was actually a bus only lane. I had no idea, but considering how many times I've broken the law and gotten away with it, I have no problems helping the city out with police-delivered taxes.

Despite the ticket, my brother managed to deliver probably the best Sunday the kids and I have had in quite awhile. Now we can't wait for the California Academy of Sciences to open back up on my birthday!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ben Stein compares Obama to Hitler

Ben Stein continues his slide to irrelevance, along with Sharpton and the other loonies.

STEIN: I want -- I'm glad you brought up this Denver thing. I don't like the idea of Senator Obama giving his acceptance speech in front of 75,000 wildly cheering people. That is not the way we do things in political parties in the United States of America. We have a contained number of people in an arena. Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuehrer would have done. And I think whoever is advising Senator Obama to do this is bringing up all kinds of very unfortunate images from the past.

BECK: Well, yeah, you know what? I've been -- I've been saying that we're headed towards a Mussolini-style presidency forever.

STEIN: Well, I think --

BECK: I mean it's crazy.

STEIN: It's a scary situation. I mean, I think he has to recognize some bounds on his own ego. I understand politicians are politicians because they have ego deficit problems and they try to cure them by having lots of worship and adulation and adoration. But 75,000 people screaming at an outdoor arena, that's just too much. It's just -- it's scarily authoritarian.

-- Media Matters

Wow. Talk about stupidity on full display.

Monday, July 21, 2008

al-Maliki backs Obama's withdrawl plan again

Hmmm... if Obama takes office in 2009, what year will it be sixteen months later after he finishes pulling most of the troops out of Iraq?

Whether by chance or by design, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq chose a day when Mr. Obama was in the country to provide its clearest statement yet about its views on the withdrawal of American troops. After a weekend of dispute about precisely what Mr. Maliki was suggesting, his spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, told reporters in Baghdad, “We cannot give any timetables or dates, but the Iraqi government believes the end of 2010 is the appropriate time for the withdrawal.”
-- New York Times

Unfortunately for John McCain, he is left with the position of saying that we should keep our troops in a sovereign country longer than their elected government wants them to be there.

What stinks for McCain is that Iraqi elections are going to be held relatively shortly after the US elections, and al-Maliki is clearly throwing red meat to the electorate who wants the US out of their country. Not to mention the fact that the Iraqi congress has sent a non-binding letter to al-Maliki demaning that the US withdraw from Iraq.


I'm telling you, if Obama loses this election, the Democrats need to get into another line of work. It's not looking possible for them to screw it up this perfect environment... but I have to remind myself that these are the Democrats we are talking about...

Leader of Iraq supports Obama's withdrawal plan

McCain certainly isn't a happy boy after hearing this news:

In Iraq, controversy has reverberated between the United States and Iraqi governments over a weekend news report that Mr. Maliki had expressed support for Mr. Obama’s proposal to withdraw American combat troops within 16 months of January.
....
After that, the government’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, issued a statement casting doubt on the magazine’s rendering of the interview.

The statement, which was distributed to media organizations by the American military early on Sunday, said Mr. Maliki’s words had been “misunderstood and mistranslated,” but it failed to cite specifics.

“Unfortunately, Der Spiegel was not accurate,” Mr. Dabbagh said Sunday by telephone. “I have the recording of the voice of Mr. Maliki. We even listened to the translation.”

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki’s office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki’s interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama’s position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The Times: “Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

He continued: “Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.”

-- Source: New York Times

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Do you want to be a millionare?

One US dollar with worth one hundred billion dollars in Zimbabwe, and it's enough to buy you four oranges. A thousandth of a penny could make you a millionaire, as good old Abe Lincoln is worth a billion Zimbabwe dollars.

Gosh! Just think of how rich those Zimbabweans are, thanks to Robert Mugabe!

Friday, July 18, 2008

So, have we succeeded or not?


"I predict that they will make an attempt as we get in to the election season to make more of these spectacular kinds of attacks which they're still capable of doing," he said. "The suicide bombers, et cetera, would not surprise me and we've already found out that they're going to try and step up their attacks and try and do things in a more spectacular fashion so that they can erode the support of the Maliki government."

The comments come a day after the Arizona senator appeared to make a rhetorical shift in how he described conditions the war-torn country, telling reporters aboard his campaign bus that "we have succeeded in Iraq."

-- CNN

I guess the question is, "succeeded in what?"

God bless the internet

Linus as the Comedian? Lucy the Silk Specter? Snoopy as Rorcharch?

This is why the internet is the ninth wonder of the world.


Watchmen movie!


I had heard they were doing a movie based on the Watchmen comic, but I had no expectations of it's quality... until I saw the trailer.

Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian in Vietnam killing the VC. Anti-Vigilante Riots. Nixon as the president. The Comedian being given flight lessons. Dr. Manhattan creating his "fortress of solitude" on Mars. It's rated R and not dumbed down to PG-13!

Holy crap! This looks amazing!


Lord knows how faithful it's going to be to the book, but I'm sure as hell going to watch it. The only thing that sticks out as unusual is that the guy they got to do Ozymandius in the movie doesn't look much like the one in the comic. Given that the trailer appears to be showing important scenes that all appeared in the comic, I'm not too worried about it.

Comic Ozymandius:


Movie Ozymandius:

Man, March 2009 can't come quick enough! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

McCain declaring victory in Iraq

"I repeat my statement that we have succeeded in Iraq," McCain told reporters aboard his campaign bus in Kansas City. "Not 'We are succeeding.' We have succeeded in Iraq."
-- CNN

I guess it's time to pull the troops out then.

McCain's flawed logic in Iraq

Given how tightly he is wrapping himself in the flag, McCain is clearly choking off the flow of blood to his brain. Quotes from a recent Reuters article.

On his bus, [McCain] said he hoped Obama will listen not only to commanders on the ground in the two war zones but also to the troops.

"They'll tell him they don't want to be defeated," McCain said. "They'll tell him that the surge has succeeded," he said, referring to President George W. Bush's 2007 troop buildup.

"They'll tell him that we're winning this war, will win it, if we don't do what he wants to do, which is to set a date for withdrawal."


Will they tell him (and remind John McCain again) that the Iraqi government has publically asked us for a timetable for withdrawal?

Bush made it very clear that Iraq is a sovereign nation and that we would leave when they asked us to. Bush and McCain dragging their feet when the Iraqi government specifically asks us for a timetable for withdrawal is more concerning to me than Obama talking about pulling the majority of the troops out of Iraq 16 months after being elected.


That said, I'm glad McCain repudiated the comments of his own communications director:

... McCain said he was glad Obama was making the trip, disagreeing with his communications director, Jill Hazelbaker, who told the Fox News Channel:

"Let's drop the pretense that this is a fact-finding trip and call it what it is: the first of its kind campaign rally overseas."

Clearly McCain realizes this isn't a first of its kind campaign rally overseas. He hasn't forgotten that he just traveled to Canada, Mexico and Columbia in the past few weeks, and during those visits he repeatedly attacked Obama in his speeches and trying to highlight his foreign policy experience.

Then again, what can you expect from an attack dog campaign surrogate on Fox News?

Hillary supporters aren't flocking to McCain

The San Francisco Chronicle has an article about the presidential polling in California (in short: Obama is crushing McCain), however in going through the data it had a couple very interesting items in the article:

Putting an end to fears that Clinton's supporters might hold out - or tip to McCain - in the general election after a contentious Democratic primary, the poll shows that the New York senator's former backers now prefer Obama to McCain, 80 to 8 percent, and the Illinois senator now holds a 2-to-1 lead among California's likely female voters.

Democrats back Obama 78 to 9 percent, compared with the softer support for McCain in his own party - 65 to 16 percent.

Three times as many Obama supporters as McCain voters describe themselves as "very enthusiastic" for their candidate - 51 to 17 percent; a full 27 percent of McCain's supporters describe themselves as "not enthusiastic," compared with just 5 percent of Obama's supporters.



All three of these items are part of the reason why Hillary isn't going to be Vice President.

I don't blame Hillary supporters for being dissapointed that their candidate is no longer in the running, but what disturbed me was all the howls of protest by those supporters about how they would be voting for McCain in November. Looking at the polling data, it looks like those Hillary supporters actually compared John McCain's platform to what both Hillary and Barrack's platform are. Luckily, they don't appear to be cutting of their nose to spite their face.


Of course, I think number one thing that prevents Hillary from being VP is Bill. Having a former president over your shoulder is not a good thing. I don't think it would be a problem if Bill Clinton could somehow work as an agent of and take orders from the Obama administration. However, given his performance in trying to get his wife elected... I think it's best to use him as a good will ambassador around the world, similar to what he is doing with Bush Sr.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Great America!

We went to Great America today. Apparently the IBM club had cheap tickets, so Wayne (my father in-law) got us some tickets. After dropping the dog off at Pet Smart Doggie Day Care, we hooked up with Wayne, George (my brother in-law), his wife Jennie and Michell, Jennie's sister.

We had a great time and I figured I'd upload a handful of shots I took.

The Kids in front of the Carousel

Kira on the Carousel

The kids with Patrick at the Spongebob Boatmobile ride

Kira and Robin at Spongebob's house!
Kira screamed her head off for the first three minutesof the ride
but then asked to go back on it over and over and over again...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

This is no surprise...



The White House rejects their own expert's finding about global warming and punts the discussion to someone with more insight that the current administration. ie, the next president.

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration Friday rejected its own experts' conclusion that global warming poses a threat to the public welfare, launching a comment period that will delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least until the next president takes office.

The Environmental Protection Agency published a 588-page examination of the issues surrounding greenhouse gases but refused to adopt its staff's finding that such gases could cause disastrous flooding and drought and affect food and water supplies.
...
California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the administration has never believed in global warming nor in doing anything about it. He asserted that the U.S. did not want to act because China and India have not done so. In an interview scheduled to be broadcast Sunday on ABC News' "This Week," the governor added: "We don't wait for other countries to do the same thing. That's what makes America No. 1."

-- LA Times

Zimbabwe says sanctions failure a victory over racism

I just read this in Reuters
Zimbabwe on Saturday welcomed the failure of a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution to impose sanctions over its violent presidential elections, calling it a victory over racism and meddling in its affairs.
...
"We are very happy with the turn of events and would like to thank those who helped defeat international racism disguised as multilateral action at the U.N.," Zimbabwean Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told Reuters.

Yeah, that's the problem. It's racism. A once-promising democracy devolving into a brutal dictatorship has absolutely nothing to do with it. Freaking amazing.


"It is our considered view that imposing sanctions would indeed have impacted negatively on the current dialogue process among Zimbabwean political parties," it said in a [South African] statement.

Dialogue? You mean the one that involves members of the ruling party torturing and killing the members of the other party?


"An adoption of such a document by the U.N. Security Council would have created a dangerous precedent, opening the way for interference by the Security Council in internal affairs in connection with certain political events including elections, which is a gross violation of the U.N. Charter," [the Russian Foreign Ministry] said.

I can understand that. It essentially means that if nations have an external conflict, the UN is there as an avenue to address it. On the flip side, if it's an internal conflict, then whatever the magnitude of the problem, the UN will turn a blind eye.

Unbelievable.

Friday, July 11, 2008

China, Russia veto U.N. sanctions against Zimbabwe

I just read this in the Los Angeles Times

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin framed his country's veto as an expression of opposition to a larger trend of Western countries trying to intervene in domestic matters under the guise of protecting international security, as with Myanmar and Sudan.

In Zimbabwe's case, he said, sanctions would only undermine mediation efforts led by South Africa.

"This resolution is nothing but an attempt to interfere in the internal matters of Zimbabwe," he said.

Well no shit, sherlock.

Sanctions wouldn't have just been a step in trying to deal with Mugabe, but now even that's off the table. At this point, the only option left is for starving citizens of Zimbabwe to rise up in a bloody civil war and be butchered in the thousands in order to try removing a dictator that apparently the African Union and the UN are cool with having in power.

It's hard to imagine, but hanks to China and Russia, the situation in Zimbabwe is just going to continue to get worse.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Minutemen at the Fourth of July Parade

I live in Fremont, which is a really diverse community. There were Sikhs, Taiwanese, Hispanic, Scots, Celtic-pride groups, etc.

So I was surprised to see the Golden Gate chapter of the Minutemen at the parade. These are the guys who are guarding the border to prevent the evil Mexican horde from taking over our nation and causing the US to lose our sovereignty to the dastardly Mexican government...

Anyway, what was even more annoying is that marching alongside of them was a man with a bullhorn who was literally ranting about god knows what. Racism, the borders, etc. Most of the folks around just shook their head and was annoyed by Minutemen... however when he walked past me, I noticed he was carrying a sign with Che Guevara on it and text about worker rights emblazoned on it. This dude wasn't a Minuteman, but was actually a protester bitching about them. In one hand, I have no sympathy for the message of the Minutemen, but on the other hand I thought it was pretty jacked up that the protester was really preventing them from expressing their free speech and right to march in a parade. Almost everyone I talked to thought the annoying protester was with the Minutemen, and didn't recognize or notice Guevara's picture.

I only wished I wasn't swapping my camera batteries at the time, as I missed getting a photo of it.

Fremont Fourth of July Parade!

Here are a bunch of photos that Sierra (Marc's daughter) and I took of the Fremont Fourth of July parade that just happened to be one block away from our house! Woo hoo! Great seats and fun time had by all.

The kids had a fun time waving flags and cheering the crowd. Someone was handing out flags for free, but there was a very old veteran who was selling a flags... so I bought them from him. IMO, holidays like this are for support veterans, rather than looking for free lunches.

Anyway, on with the shots!



Sierra with the kids

One of the many groups of Scouts in the parade

The ACE hardware store had a cool group of people in balloons


The Sikh community (as well as a ton of other minority groups in Fremont) were very well represented. These guys are Sikh Saint Soldiers, showing off sword fighting and other fun bits.

Pirates during the fourth! The Pirates of Emerson had a great float. I love pirates and pirate themed stuff (we have a pirate store three blocks from my house), however I'm always amazed that murders and criminals from four hundred years ago are romanticized. Makes you wonder how Al Queda will be viewed in 2500 AD...

Just one of the cool pirate outfits from the Pirates of Emerson.

Portland Photos

Here are photos of the kids from their recent trip to Portland: