Notes on how things seem to me from out here in Hollywood... As seen from Just Above Sunset
Click here to go there... Click here to go there...

Here you will find a few things you might want to investigate.

Support the Just Above Sunset websites...


Click here to go there...

« July 2004 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
Contact the Editor


"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

Site Meter
Technorati Profile

Saturday, 10 July 2004

Topic: The Culture

Automobiles - A Debate on Virtue and Exploitation

Who knew that every time my quiet and mild-mannered friend, the doctor who live nears Boston, drives into Cambridge the folks hanging around the Harvard Bookstore (the Co-Op) point at her and call her hip and "Hollywood" ... This week we see an explanation. And the item also contains an interesting comment on how the political right considers the moral question of cheeseburgers.

See It's square to be hip?
Ellen Goodman - Washington Post Writers Group - 07.09.04

Here's the set-up:
BOSTON - Over decades of driving, my cars have been called many things. Slovenly, for one. Decrepit, for another. The single adjective that has never been used to describe a car of mine is "hip." Trust me on this.

As a confessed car slob, my sole interest in the motor is that when I turn it on, it will go. Every 10 years or so, when I reluctantly enter a salesroom, I am more interested in cup holders and seat warmers than in anything remotely motor trendy.

Then, a few months ago, we bought a hybrid. This car has a name - Prius - so unracy that it sounds vaguely like a pill for erectile dysfunction. But it not only has two cup holders and optional seat warmers, it has a gas engine, an electric motor and a dashboard screen that tells me exactly how many miles per gallon I am getting every single obsessive second that I have my eyes on the screen instead of the road.

It also has this nifty, if unsettling, way of going absolutely dead silent at the stoplight as if I just stalled out. And, of course, it gets close to 60 miles to the gallon.

Now, for the first time, a car of ours has been accused of being "hip." And I do mean accused.
So how could this be hip?

Goodman explains that folks with these particular cars are "being typecast as granola-crunching, tree-hugging enviro-snobs. Not only did a New York Times writer sneeringly call our vehicles `hip,' another mocked us as `virtuous.' A third suggested that we were driving with moral superiority, `the automotive equivalent of corrective shoes.'" [That last comment would be from Dan Neil of The Los Angeles Times previously discussed here in What would Roland Barthes drive? - in the Feburary 23rd issue.]

Goodman does point out Susan Sarandon arrived at the Oscars in her own nice new Prius - just a few blocks down the street here in Hollywood at the Kodak Theater. No black limousine for her! And perhaps it is true that that driving a hybrid was a way of saying, "I'm more intelligent than the next guy."

Did Goodman want to be hip and Hollywood?

No. Goodman just felt all sorts of "liberal guilt" as it were -
... Every time I pulled up to a gas station in the wake of 9/11, I started thinking about our Middle Eastern "friends" and the Madrasa schools they support with my gas-guzzling dollars. Then too, there was global warming, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the fact of Americans using 10 times more gas than the global norm, the bright pink Victoria's Secret Hummer parked outside my office, and you get the idea.

If the car is to the environment as the cigarette is to the body, if I'm not about to go cold turkey -- or cold bike -- why not go hybrid? A New Yorker cartoon said all we needed to know about the technology: "It runs on its conventional gasoline-powered engine until it senses guilt, at which point it switches over to battery power."
That about sums it up.

But Goodman hits on what is so strange these days of conservative Republican dominance in matters of what is the right things to do - anyone who thinks about doing any good becomes a do-gooder, which is bad. As she says, doing the right thing is tagged as the left thing, which is the wrong thing.
It all began when folks sensitized to race or gender issues were politically corrected for being "politically correct." Now everything you say, do, or drive gets politicized, polarized and stereotyped.

If you follow the religious line of moral values you get inscribed in The Bill Bennett "Book of Virtues." If you follow the line of environmental values, you get mocked as "virtuous." If you eat cheeseburgers, you're one of the guys. If you buy organic greens, you're looking down on one of the guys.

This time, the image remakers may be on the wrong side of the highway, since hybrids are wait-listed and Hummers are discounted. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself has talked of turning one of his Hummers green -- though a hybrid Hummer is a little like a low-carb Krispy Kreme.

But I am sure there's a conventional automaker somewhere with a book called: "Real Men Don't Drive Hybrids."
I think I saw that somewhere or other.

She has some suggests to fight back - have every hybrid sold with a NASCAR sticker on the bumper. We could change the name from Prius to Pitbull.

Well, my doctor friend took the bait:
I frequently forget to go to the gas station to fill up my little Prius tank - the car drinks so little fuel. Then there is the stunned look of passersby when the car starts to roll away from the curb - completely silent. No, it's not a runaway car - it's merely electric powered at low speeds. Gets lots of torque that little motor. But for a brief instant, before the pedestrian realizes what's happening, there's panic in their eyes. What! A car without a thundering throbbing engine? Where'd the fumes from the tailpipe go? Not only that, I tempt fate with a Darwin fish to the left of the rear license plate. I might be pushing "hip" a bit too far to the left. But I'm happy to report that the most money I've spent on a fill from empty is $20.78. I think I'll take the kids out now for a bit of pizza in that "pitbull" car of mine and spend all that extra money I've saved on gas. That "hip to be square" silver Prius, that seats five, plus a Labrador Retriever. Here we go!
Oh, this is a Darwin Fish.

Rick from Atlanta chimed in -
Good for Ellen Goodman!

But I am a bit taken back that she says her Prius gets about 60 mpg, while our Civic Hybrid has only been getting about 40 mpg. Still, I love the part when the motor goes dead at stop signs and such!

And I do think it's about time that anyone who calls anyone else "politically correct" should be automatically labeled a "redneck snob". Not that it would shut them up, but at least they'd get a label, which I for one think is only fair.

"Redneck snob!" If there is no such thing in the real world, there ought to be.
Yep. And as labels go, that is a fine one.

Then Ric Erickson in Paris jumped in -
Hold on to your hats, there's bad news for these cheesy hybrid monkeys.

Germany, which had perfected synthetic gas back in WWII - where'd it go? - ever wonder why? - is now making bio-gas, and hydro-gas, which is being used in real cars, like mid-sized Mercedes sedans and BMWs. Yes folks, gas is being made out of wood, cow flops and good old sewer water and pumped into wonderful V8's made in Munich and Stuttgart. Bet you didn't know gas can be made out of wood. Guess which Nordic countries with lots of wood are likely to become targets of the democratic terrorist hunters in Washington.

If you care to add solar panels and windmills, there are several big European sites putting out megawatts of AC. The standard cow flop, and even green grass, is being used as fuel for this too. The solar people here are looking at the nearby Sahara; with the calculation that planting exactly one percent of it with solar panels will generate enough electricity for all of Europe's needs. They are trying this out in Spain as I write. The emissions from this are exactly nil, you know.

In comparison, a hybrid car is crude. It runs on imported pump gas, which also charges batteries, so it can run on electric motors. With two or more motors, and the batteries, these things are needlessly heavy - wearing out tires faster, wearing out bearings faster, causing ugly dents in hamburger drive-in lots, etc. - and they are expensive for what they are.

They are nothing compared to a car fueled by hydrogen. Hydrogen is explosive stuff. The world has more cheap hydrogen lying around than there are Wal-Marts. After putting the boom-boom in the gas tank, nothing but water vapor comes out the exhaust pipe. It looks like steam, because it is steam. If the internal combustion engine hadn't been converted to hydrogen fuel, they could have just made steam instead, and run the car with a steam engine. In other uses, the steam is run into turbines, to generate electricity, and heat whole cities. In Iceland, where they have free steam, they use it for central heating and swimming pools, both indoor and outdoor.

None of these alternatives require sucking up to Middle East satraps. You got a lot of cow shit in the good old USA, you got grass on millions of golf courses, you got wooden trees in Maine and Oregon, and you got not one but two oceans chock full of free hydrogen. Use your noodles!

You probably think I'm a Parisian flake. I can't show you the Wankel engine I accidentally 'invented' in the 1960's, but I might have a drawing of the H20 car I chanced to invent in the 1970s. I was before its time, and was unhonored for it. Well, the Wankel was a kind of mistake, not really worth any great honors. Not all inventions are perfect. Hydrogen, now, this is the stuff bombs are made of. Imagine tanking up Alan's little Kompressor Merc with some. That would be real Hollywood!

- from the garage in Montrouge, ric
Well, the hydrogen may be a problem.

Hydrogen is a non-starter (no pun really) - it's too hard to handle and bulky at that. There is a reason the Hindenburg was so big and floated in the air - the VOLUME of hydrogen. To fit enough of the good stuff in a car it must be highly pressurized and tightly compressed in a really, really good container. Or you can liquefy it, at extreme low temperature - and it takes more energy to do THAT, pretty much, than you save. Damn. And producing it? Pass an electric current through water (H2O) and at one electrode you get pure hydrogen and at the other pure oxygen. Did that in seventh grade science. Yeah, but where do you get the electric current? The energy needed to break the bond between the three atoms is considerable - water is very stable. Glance at the geometry of the periodic table. So the power needed to produce the hydrogen is the problem. Well, you could use solar-generated electric power. Not much of that available yet. General Motors and Ford and the energy companies - all the guys over here - are working the hydrogen problem - but they're talking about producing hydrogen from crude oil. You reconfigure the cracking towers at the refineries over here and you can get a lot of hydrogen pretty cheaply from the standard black hydrocarbon goop the Arab world sells us. Yeah. A problem, as you can see. Or as the oil companies see it, an opportunity.

Bio-mass fuel is, indeed, one answer. Wood? Hemp is probably the very most efficient energy source for that - grows fast and provides more thermal units per ton than almost anything else. And like peas and other legumes, hemp adds nitrogen back into the soil, improving it. Nifty! But you cannot grow hemp here, even if you grow the varieties that contain no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at all. Our government sees this as a moral issue. Oh well. But much gasoline in the middle of this country is already ten percent ethanol - from corn. (You cannot use pure ethanol in gasoline or diesel engines without changing the composition of the gaskets and fuel lines and all the rest - it is a bit harsh and makes those things rapidly dissolve. Top-fuel drag racers, running pure ethanol, know this well and their build-teams use the proper parts.) More bio-mass fuel will come on line, of course, or a bit more. One doesn't want one's parts dissolving. I certainly don't.

The other source of bi-mass fuel? Bullshit and horseshit? We've got that. Lots of it. Methane is easy. We can do that. Why not put it all to use? This IS an election year.

Other stuff. Every few months you see stuff in the press (on a slow news day) about some America or Canadian greener using bio-diesel derived from the residue of deep fat fryers at McDo's and such - and refined, or at least well-filtered, this stuff is fine for any diesel engine. These folks tool around in their quite normal diesel cars leaving, it is said, just the scent of deep-fried potatoes and burnt fish. This is not mainstream. We don't do diesel engines over here. You guys in Europe get the new common-rail diesel designs with superchargers or turbochargers - and staged injection and all the new gizmos. They're pretty nifty engines and work just fine. I drove one from Avignon to Aix a bit back. Worked just fine. No one wants one here. Not cool. But really, we DO have more stale deep-fry fat than any nation on earth I'd guess. Too bad.

An H2O car? Explain!

Oh - the French-made Nissan diesel that took me to Aix one day...

Rick in Atlanta had an explanation for the H2O Car - Boat!

But Ric in Paris explained a bit more -
Look, I just invent these things. I'm not into fiddly details. A car with a H2O motor? Go to the lake or seaside to tank up. You don't need to know what's under the hood.

There was a docu on Arte last week, showing how the alternate energy is coming along. About halfway through, they're showing a Chrysler-Daimler suit tanking up his Merc, at a Chrysler-Daimler gas station, with hydrogen stuff. A pretty formidable gas cap there! Looked like an injection system. But nobody was wearing anti-flame suits or hardhats.

As for wood - it was wood not hemp. Taking all kinds of wood, wood scrap, whole freaking trees, reducing them to sawdust and cooking it up. Turns into energy. Doing the same thing with grass, weeds, any green junk lying around. A lot of stuff that used to be thrown away.

This alternate-energy is going on all over Europe, but perhaps more in countries that have to lay out hard cash for petroleum. They showed farms that were able to quit buying fuel and electricity - ones that produced enough of a surplus to sell it to the grid.

It's a long-range thing. Petroleum is too expensive and it isn't renewable. The nuclear reactors are all going to wear out, and nobody wants to replace them. There isn't enough hydro to go around.

But wood and grass are easy to grow. Shit from animals is free, as is wind and sunshine.
But the docu didn't mention anything to do with cost of the R&D going into alternate-energy resources. My guess is that it is no more than is routinely spent on petroleum exploration and development; it's probably only a fraction of it.

Another plus factor for alternate-energy resources is that the production is often near where it's going to be used - so there's next to no transport like super-tankers involved.

The people who have a lot of vested interest in the oil business do not want to see alternate-energy. This is okay because they haven't done us many favors. These new people, investing in these risks, will deserve the rewards they get - and we will be better off for it.

As for that French-made Nissan diesel that took you to Aix one day... I thought it looked like a Renault, but it's a.... two-generation old Nissan-Renault. It's Renault showing Nissan how to make an ugly car. [Yep, Renault now own a controlling interest in Nissan and the cars do show this.]

Diesel's dirty little secret is that it's very dirty. A lot of filters can cut down on emissions, but the cheaper diesels don't have these. Motorcycles are dirty too. It's possible that about 60 percent of all passenger cars sold in France are diesels. Fuel for them is a bit cheaper, and the modern ones get good mileage. High-end ones are quiet too, and the turbo ones are very powerful and fast.

But diesel motors are more expensive - they have to be stronger. It might take more than 100,000 kilometers to balance the extra price against the lower gas cost just to break even. The pollution from diesels is very bad because of the solid particles they spew out - in Paris.

Attached images done in early 1970s, in no-speed-limit Germany.
And I guess this is the Water Car. It says so.

But it doesn't look hip.

Posted by Alan at 13:11 PDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 10 July 2004 15:29 PDT home

Friday, 9 July 2004

Topic: The Law

Way down Guant?namo Bay way...

Last week much of the discussion was on the Supreme Court rulings that seemed to require that those we are holding at Guant?namo Bay at least be allowed some sort of hearing to argue they were not "enemy combatants" at all. See The Discussion: Second Thoughts and the related articles for all that.

Yes, the Supreme Court ruled on June 28 that these Guant?namo detainees can challenge the legality of their detentions. And the Pentagon actually is complying - setting up a system of hearings for all of them. Each hearing will be presided over by three military officials. And Reuters is reporting that in these hearings the detainees can't consult with or be represented by counsel.

Rachel Meeropol, a human rights lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, called the new procedures inadequate and illegal, and said they fall far short of satisfying the Supreme Court's ruling. "The fact is they're coming up with these procedures on the fly," said Meeropol, whose group has filed cases in federal court seeking the release of several Guant?namo prisoners.

Arriaga said that while the government should be doing everything possible in light of the court ruling to facilitate judicial review of the lawfulness of the detentions, it instead appears to be trying to narrow the scope of the review. Arriaga noted that the new process remains entirely within the U.S. military, and that all sorts of evidence will be admissible, including from anonymous witnesses and statements that may have been coerced.
But close enough? This shows we're trying to be fair, but not getting bogged own in a lot of silly detail?

Well, it's a start.

Except the Los Angeles Times reports this - exceptions we seem to be taking to make sure things don't get out of hand with all this legal stuff.
Despite pledging yearly reviews for all prisoners held by the U.S. military at Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, Pentagon officials tentatively agreed during a high-level meeting last month to deny that process to some detainees and to keep their existence secret "for intelligence reasons," senior defense officials said Thursday.

Under the proposal, some prisoners would in effect be kept off public records and away from the scrutiny of lawyers and judges.

... It was unclear Thursday whether the Pentagon had followed through with the proposal, or how it would be affected by last month's Supreme Court ruling that granted detainees access to American courts. It also was not clear how many detainees the proposal would apply to. The Pentagon said there currently were 594 detainees at the camp...
The number of 594 is, of course, counting only those on the books at the moment. The real number? That is unclear at the moment.

So. Rumsfeld and the Pentagon give in. Everyone gets a hearing - they just don't get advice and counsel.

Does this fall short of what the Supreme Court ruled? One supposes that will take further adjudication - one of these detainees will have to sue over not being allowed to seek legal advice and then take it up through the courts and see if it rises to the top. Gee, how will a detainee get help suing if the detainee cannot seek legal advice? Whatever.

Heck, what is the Supreme Court going to do about this "no lawyers here" rule - hold Rumsfeld in contempt and fine him, or send him to jail? He has the Army.

But he did give in. Everyone gets a hearing - every detainee. Everyone - depending on how you define the term. There will always be some who just aren't there. And they cannot get hearings if they simply do not exist. The Supreme Court cannot require an existential impossibility.

Well, it's a start.

Posted by Alan at 15:03 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Music


If you have a high speed internet connection note this -
Having (relatively) recently obtained over 100 versions of "Body and Soul", I've decided to share the wealth. Herein you'll find the first volume of what is planned to be a 5 volume set of my picks of the litter. This can also serve as a beginner's guide to jazz, as it moves from the most famous version by Billie Holiday, to the most influential version by Coleman Hawkins, to versions by such post-bop luminaries as Eric Dolphy and Sun Ra, to the most impressive recent version by Jason Moran. I plan (i.e. might) add some of the appropriate history of the various versions, especially those of Hawkins and Holiday, if I can dig up the tomes in which those nuggets are buried.
Handy instructions are included.

Needless to say, at tip of the hat to the web site Body and Soul.

Posted by Alan at 10:00 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 9 July 2004 10:08 PDT home

Thursday, 8 July 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Yes, they're not even pretending to be serious anymore.

Two weeks ago here, and in Just Above Sunset, Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, and I kicked around ideas concerning the Associated Press' recent suit seeking access to all records of Bush's military service during the Vietnam War. You see, the AP sued the Pentagon - as The Air National Guard of the United States, a federal entity, has control of the microfilm in question, which the AP said should be disclosed in its entirety under the Freedom of Information Act, or so the lawsuit says. ( See June 27, 2004: The news media wakes up and starts doing its job? for the whole thing. )

Last week here, and in Just Above Sunset, Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, and I kicked around ideas around about how the government now claims they cannot make copies of computer files for the public because it's just too tricky. Might lose the data forever. Yep. Sure. ( See Your government at work... hoping there are some things you won't notice for that exchange. )

Now this - from the New York Times, Friday, June 9th....

Pentagon Says Bush Records of Service Were Destroyed
Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times, July 9, 2004
HOUSTON, July 8 - Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

It said the payroll records of "numerous service members," including former First Lt. Bush, had been ruined in 1996 and 1997 by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service during a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. No back-up paper copies could be found, it added in notices dated June 25.

The destroyed records cover three months of a period in 1972 and 1973 when Mr. Bush's claims of service in Alabama are in question.

The disclosure appeared to catch some experts, both pro-Bush and con, by surprise. Even the retired lieutenant colonel who studied Mr. Bush's records for the White House, Albert C. Lloyd of Austin, said it came as news to him.

The loss was announced by the Defense Department's Office of Freedom of Information and Security Review in letters to The New York Times and other news organizations that for nearly half a year have sought Mr. Bush's complete service file under the open-records law.
Interesting. They just found out? No one knew?

The Times quotes from the Pentagon letter -"The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) has advised of the inadvertent destruction of microfilm containing certain National Guard payroll records. In 1996 and 1997, DFAS engaged with limited success in a project to salvage deteriorating microfilm. During this process the microfilm payroll records of numerous service members were damaged, including from the first quarter of 1969 (Jan. 1 to March 31) and the third quarter of 1972 (July 1 to Sept. 30). President Bush's payroll records for these two quarters were among the records destroyed. Searches for backup paper copies of the missing records were unsuccessful."


But the best part of the letter seems to be where the Pentagon says they will answer no questions at all about this - because you'll only get answers to any questions you might have if you file another Freedom of Information application.

Go away. Don't ask. Just go away.

And these guys just remembered NOW that seven or eight years ago they'd lost this bunch of stuff?

The Times does mention that there was no mention at all of this "loss" when White House officials released hundreds of pages of the President's military records last February - and that was when the White House was in the middle of that big nasty scrum to deal with all those accusations that Bush was AWOL for a time during his commitment to fly the dangerous skies over Texas, Arkansas and Alabama in the Air National Guard as an alternative to flying over in Vietnam. He didn't even want to scoot around over Little Rock or Birmingham?

The Times called Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director about this "loss" of the microfilm that might have settled the matter, twice. Bartlett didn't return the calls.

Hey, why would he? What's to say?

Yes, these guys not even pretending to be serious anymore. They were trying to salvage the microfilm and something went wrong - Rosemary Wood was working on it that day?


Posted by Alan at 22:19 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Places I've always wanted to visit... sort of...

And that would be the French Territory of the Afars and the Issas that became Djibouti in 1977 as I see.

My Paris-born French friend out here, Liane, once told me she had a relative - her sister's husband I think, or a nephew - stationed there for some governmental task or another having to do with the numbers folks at the Bercy ministry. But I had to look it up. Djibouti. Great name.

Now it's all ours, according to this -
The Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa is "a unit based at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti - a sweltering 88-acre outpost by the Gulf of Aden once inhabited by the French Foreign Legion. Sitting at the end of a garbage-strewn dirt road leading out of the capital, the camp is where 1,800 U.S. troops, including hundreds of special operations forces, have since May [2003] based their missions covering seven countries in Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula. And according to the plans being drawn up in unadorned cubicles back at the Pentagon, it is the U.S. military mission in the Horn of Africa - even more than the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq - that is a window into the next decade in the war on terrorism."

"In the Horn of Africa, much of the task force's focus is on humanitarian projects like building schools, wells, and roads. It is not done out of altruism: The aim is to project a better image of the United States and make the ground less fertile for the seeds of Islamic radicalism. During another era, it was known as 'winning hearts and minds.' In April, when their Marine brethren were dropping bombs on Iraqis, marines in the Horn of Africa delivered 15,000 pairs of shoes to children in Djibouti city.

"There are, of course, plenty of bullets to complement the bread. Hundreds of special operations forces and CIA operatives based at Camp Lemonier have the mission of capturing or killing the biggest stars in al Qaeda's constellation and have the authority to launch covert missions throughout much of the Horn of Africa. Last November, a missile fired from a CIA-operated Predator drone killed an al Qaeda operative on a desert highway in Yemen, and intelligence officials are monitoring African airspace and dhow traffic in coastal waters to set the stage for future operations."

"... Yet much of the work is already underway and has a momentum all its own. At dusty Camp Lemonier, Djiboutian contractors are constructing a new gymnasium for the U.S. troops; and soldiers and marines can escape the heat by ducking into a new air-conditioned dining facility, recently christened the Bob Hope Chow Hall. Standing inside the Joint Operations Center, a stark warehouse where Task Force Horn of Africa plans and executes its counterterrorism missions, Master Gunnery Sgt. Barry Walker looks around and sees the future. 'It's bare bones, but it's going to be what we need,' he says. 'The days of small-city U.S.A. are gone.'

"Which means troops based in Djibouti need to seek their entertainment off base. Some spend their free evenings wandering the markets of Djibouti city; others gamble at a local hotel. Some even break the monotony of base life by participating in joint training exercises on the Gulf of Aden with the French (yes, the French) military. In the end, most can recite the exact day and hour that their tour in the Horn of Africa ends, and one Marine officer is even writing a book about the experience of being deployed in Djibouti. The book's title: The Year of the Short Straw."

Source: US News & World Report (September 28, 2003).
Ah, so we're all looking at Baghdad and Basra, and the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and thinking CENTCOM near Tampa and in Yemen or Bahrain is where things are really happening.

Nope. It's in Djibouti. Isn't it always?

And now all over the wires is the New Republic (TRN) item from John Judis, Spencer Ackerman and Massoud Ansari - about the upcoming July Surprise. It seems that they've been chatting with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) folks -
A third source, an official who works under ISI's director, Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, informed TRN that the Pakistanis "have been told at every level that apprehension or killing of HVTs [i.e., high-value al Qaida targets] before [the] election is [an] absolute must." What's more, this source claims that Bush administration officials have told their Pakistani counterparts they have a date in mind for announcing this achievement: "The last ten days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and during [ul-Haq's] meetings in Washington." Says McCormack: "I'm aware of no such comment." But according to this ISI official, a White House aide told ul-Haq last spring that "it would be best if the arrest or killing of [any] HVT were announced on twenty-six, twenty-seven, or twenty-eight July"--the first three days of the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
No, no, no! Way too obvious!

Judis and Ackerman may claim to have multiple Pakistani intelligence sources confirming key details, but this doesn't smell right.

But who knows, with a little help from our guys in Djibouti....

It seems Pakistan has been wanting a good number of our F-16 fighters to even things up with their neighbors in India flying the last of the fancy MIG fighters. And the F-16 is manufactured in Dallas - Forth Worth. Jobs. American manufacturing jobs - and high-paying ones at that. Something could be worked out.

So no doubt there will be (or already is) some intense communications traffic between Islamabad in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and our folks in Djibouti.

This could work.

Djibouti. Dinner at the Bob Hope Chow Hall. Military exercises with our French friends. Sun and sand. Sounds intriguing.

Posted by Alan at 14:16 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Newer | Latest | Older