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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gossipy, Gossipy - John McCain and Bill Clinton

A Newsweek story on the 9 digit wealthy McCain's not paying taxes on one of their many properties for four years. (Not as bad as it sounds, but it does point out they have so much money, they don't know where it all is.)

And, according to the Telegraph, Bill Clinton is being a huge douche regarding his support for Obama. "He recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support."

(This from a man who smiled and shook hands with Republicans after the impeachment vote.)

Treat both of these for what they are, but, there they are.

Picture of the Day - Outside of Peshawar

A Pakistani paramilitary solider stands guard in Pakistan's tribal area of Khyber near Peshawar on Saturday, June 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

A Pakistani pro-Taliban militant carries rocket propelled granade launcher as he stands inside a mosque, northwest of Peshawar. (AFP/Strdel)

The failing "other war" - The spiralling problems of the militants on the Afghan/Pak border

I guess we should start with the AP's rendering of a new "Pentagon report that offers a dim view of progress in the nearly seven-year-old war."
The Taliban has regrouped after its initial fall from power in Afghanistan and the pace of its attacks is likely to increase this year.....

Despite U.S. and coalition efforts to capture and kill key leaders, the Taliban is likely to "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008."

The Taliban, it said, has "coalesced into a resilient insurgency."

Next, perhaps, let's visit Peshawar, Pakistan's largest city in the tribal provinces about 100 miles from Pakistan's capital, with the NYTimes,
In the last two months, Taliban militants have suddenly tightened the noose on this city of three million people......

The threat to Peshawar is a sign of the Taliban’s deepening penetration of Pakistan and of the expanding danger that the militants present to the entire region, including nearby supply lines for NATO and American forces in Afghanistan.

Or, more ominously, McClatchy,
Heavily armed Islamic militants have massed on the outskirts of Peshawar, the strategic provincial capital in northwest Pakistan, and the Pakistani government has dramatically stepped up security around the city amid fears that it could fall.

Taliban groups and other extremist warlords now threaten Peshawar from three sides.....

Then, there's Pakistan's latest response,
Pakistani forces bombarded suspected militant hideouts with mortar shells Saturday as the government launched a major offensive against Taliban fighters threatening the main city in the country's volatile northwest, officials said.....

"All bazaars are shut and residents have been asked not to come out of their homes," he said.

Last, perhaps this BBC analysis piece, "Can Pakistan's new anti-militancy strategy work?," which concludes,
"It is still not clear if our security establishment has really decided to dump the Taleban."

If Mr Khatak's doubts are well-founded, then many fear we are in for a period of "cosmetic" military actions aimed at containing the militants, rather than eliminating the militant threat altogether.

Frankly, I don't have the slightest idea of how you would untie the knots stretching from Pakistan's halls of power through the tribal regions into Afghanistan.

I do know this, though. The opportunities were much greater in 2002/2003 when world opinion was far more on the US side, the Pakistanis were far more willing (and politically capable) to cooperate, and the Taleban and Al Qaeda was in fact broken and on the run.

And this president chose to go into Iraq.........

The new Republican minority

The USAToday has a piece that I think typifies where the Republicans are. Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, now out of office, are still collecting pretty big money for their PAC's. The thing is, they're not actually giving any of it to Republican candidates.

There is something of an "every man for himself" quality to this year's GOP. Look at the incredible difficulties of the NSRC and the NRCC in gathering funds from their Congressional brethren.

Also in USAToday, the NRCC tries to explain why they keep losing.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

Bumper sticker. It made me laugh.

McCain starts the official campaign patriotism slime

McCain's new ad (on energy) concludes with a new slogan, "John McCain, Putting country first." (Because , you know, Obama isn't for America.)

It seems awfully early for them to be swinging this hard.

North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say

It's a little bit of a deceptive headline in that there's a chance the North Pole could be ice free because of drift of the much shrunken ice pack but, still......

Each year, it's getting harder and harder to explain Santa's workshop to the kids.

Picture of the Day

Dinnertime? It's 3:30 already?

(Sen. John McCain eats at the counter of Skyline Chili in Cincinnati Thursday, June 26, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero))

Hearts and Minds in Pakistan.......

The headline is that the Taleban executed two "US spies" in the Bajaur tribal region of Pakistan, but what really got my attention was this,
The two men, one of them a former Taliban fighter, were brought blindfolded before a crowd of several thousand people near the village of Damadola....

The crowd shouted Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest) when the Taliban held up the severed heads of the victims who Rehman said were from the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.

A crowd of thousands cheering at a public beheading of two men alleged to have been associated with the US. That's a long way from hearts and minds. (The BBC reports 5,000.)

7 years of talking about switchgrass.......

Certainly, George Bush is not solely responsible for ridiculously high oil prices, but still, the last seven years of denial policy are his.

(AP) "Oil futures shot above $140 Thursday after OPEC's president said oil prices could rise well above $150 a barrel this year and Libya said it may cut oil production....."

(AFP) "
The president of OPEC, Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil, predicted Thursday that oil prices could rise to 150-170 dollars a barrel during the northern hemisphere summer."

PS. Maybe pushing baseless rumors about attacking Iran isn't such a good idea, you know? (An AP article recognizing the politics of the administration pushing the Israel poised to attack Iran story.)


Early polls are kind of meaningless, but you'd still rather be ahead than behind.

(CNN's "electoral map" has "lean Obama" at 230 electoral votes.)

McCain does it again

I'm still not sure if it's just a bad campaign structure or some innate need in John McCain, but once again he launches a policy initiative in about the worst place imaginable.

This time, a nuclear power initiative in Nevada where residents are very opposed to the Yucca Mountain storage facility.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

That's the ticket.....

So McCain's problem is that he's not Republican enough?
McCain told conservative leaders that he would speak out more to highlight his pro-life record and views on other social issues to garner more Christian conservative support, leaders in the room said Thursday.

They're just going to be angrier when he backs off again.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Members of President Bush's cabinet and staff listen in the background as the president, not shown, meets with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, Wednesday, June 25, 2008, in the Oval Office. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds))

Obama Clinton together

I'm sure all day tomorrow, Obama/Clinton will be all over everywhere, but I just wanted to point out that their first appearance, before they show for the public, was in front of fundraisers.

The Obama folks are pretty sure the people will likely/mostly come around, but everyone one of those fundraisers is valued.

Two notes. Obama gave the max to Clinton for he and his wife, and Ambinder describes the event as a little edgy once the pool reporter left.

McCain and Obama submit essays on patriotism

Time magazine asked McCain and Obama to both submit short essays on patriotism.

McCain's is all citizenship, duty, and sacrifice, kind of a cold war interpretation, while Obama's is all about the ideals of America and defending the rights of freedom. It's a very interesting (generational?) contrast.

Picture of the Day

(Sen. Barack Obama talks with aide David Axelrod on the campaign charter plane at Midway Airport in Chicago Wednesday, June 25, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

PS. The Obama camp has really clamped down on the photographers access so the pictures aren't nearly as good.

Novak says, Colin Powell to endorse Obama?

This morning's Robert Novak column seems to say that Colin Powell "will enter Obama's camp at a time of his own choosing."

It's Novak, so judge it for what it is. Robert Novak is a channel used by certain segments of the GOP to dispense whatever garbage they want out there. (inoculation?)

(PS. If this happens, it could be one of the uglier "race events" of the campaign, because I would think even the mainstream GOPers will bring up race as an attempted explanation.)

Another nasty McCain lobbyist story

The WaPo has a frontpage story on McCain campaign adviser Rick Davis and all the money that he's made as a lobbyist representing those "who need McCain's help in the Senate."

Frankly, the story seems a little thin for the level of broad corruption innuendo, but it's quite damning in tone, and Rick Davis isn't the only McCain campaigner mentioned.

I would think the McCain campaign will come out blasting this article, but I wonder if they can dispute any of the facts. (Or do they ignore it and try to bump it out of the headline?)

The real point here is that it's just another in a series of articles on the lobbyist/insider politics of McCain campaign staff. His "reformer"/maverick image is on the line, and without that.......

(To ask the same question we should always ask about these types of articles at this point in the campaign, was this article spawned by opposition research delivered to the reporter?)

And, Politico also slaps McCain around this morning. "John McCain doesn't work weekends." (Doesn't help debunking "the old," doesn't help separating from Bush.)

The McCain campaign gets dirty

The McCain campaign dropped this memo today,
"There has never been a time when Barack Obama has bucked the party line to lead on an issue of national importance…. He has never put his career on the line for a cause greater than himself.”

FirstRead says this is about the Republican Oregon Senator, Gordon Smith, who ran an ad about how he and Obama had worked together.

Quickhits - Iraq and Afghanistan

I don't want to minimize the peoples' lives here with the language I use, but it seems apparent that the violence in Iraq is starting to "tick up." A seeming increase in attacks over the last week, at least 9 Americans killed this week, and two more bombings today, a carbomb near a government office in Mosul, 18 killed, and a suicide bomber west of Baghdad targeting Sunni sheiks working with the US, 12 killed.

(NYTimes) The Afghani government directly states that the Pakistanis, in the form of the ISI, were directly involved in the recent assassination attempt against Hamid Karzai. (It's getting pretty diplomatically hot again. Remember when Bush had to bring Karzai and Musharraf to the White House two years ago?)

Making a mockery of the state terror list

After the North Koreans have agreed to supply nuclear documentation, the US offers a few transactional sanction items in return. Read that second concession.
In exchange, the U.S. is fulfilling its promise to erase trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act, and notify Congress that, in 45 days, it intends to take North Korea off the State Department list of nations that sponsor terrorism, White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

What exactly are the conditions here that have gotten them taken off the "state sponsors of terror list"? They're making concessions in providing information about their internal nuclear program.

We can talk about whether they should have been on that list in the first place, but this episode really shows how shaky is the State Department's use of that "state sponsor of terrorism" designation.

(PS. I'm all for the North Korea deal, though.)

PPS. Apparently, this is being played as a huge story, NYTimes, WaPo, and they're not revealing their existing nuclear weapons.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Do you think the succession of Clinton supporters/commenters who stormed off the blog from January through March will ever come back?

Picture of the Day - 2

The protests in South Korea are continuing. George Bush actually canceled a visit to South Korea scheduled for early next month.

(Protesters clash with riot police as protesters try to march to the Presidential House in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 25, 2008. South Korea's government said Wednesday it will resume imports of American beef this week, hoping to move on from a crisis that battered the pro-U.S. administration with weeks of anti-government protests over food safety.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon))

Chuck Todd makes a point on polling.

Earlier I was asking how they craft their polling samples?
Be careful over-interpreting the independents number for McCain in current polls. The reason he's doing well among indies is that a growing slice of them are former Republicans.

This goes to the party I.D. issue. As more folks refuse to identify themselves as GOPers, they move into the independent category, making those voters more conservative than we've seen in the past and therefore artificially increasing McCain's share among them.

(And if the polls are using a non-adjusted R/D/I distribution....)

Later: The McCain campaign issues a detailed complaint against the LATimes poll pointing at the sampling. It's pretty whiny, and broadly questionably accurate, but it does contain some detail on polling composition. (Are they seriously telling me they expect Republican and Dem turnout to be within a few points?)

I think most of all, this McCain complaint underlines the point I was trying to make earlier. The McCain camp is on a shaky narrative and desperately needs the polling to show it close, so, the modeling on which the polls are constructed becomes an element in the campaign.

Picture of the Day - The Return of the Monkey God

A little while back, I noted that Barack Obama carries, among other things, a small monkey god for luck. He brought it out again on the campaign plane the other day. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Well, I just thought this next bit was an interesting tie in.

(Hindu priests offer prayers for U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama beside a statue of Lord Hanuman, a Hindu monkey god, inside a Hanuman temple in New Delhi June 24, 2008. The prayer meeting was held in support of Obama's presidential bid in the U.S. elections later this year. Priest Brij Mohan Bhama will send the statue to Obama next week, devotees of the temple said on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Vijay Mathur))

Obama's 50 state strategy (Well, really 37 or so.....)

Politico has an interesting piece on some of how Obama is looking to use resources in several "red states" he's not likely to win.

But separate from the specific states and presidential campaign strategy to press John McCain into spending time and money defending, I find the idea of coordinating and transferring Obama's enthusiasm and volunteers into local races quite intriguing. In Texas, I'm seeing huge Obama enthusiasm.
“If we can register more Democrats, if we can increase the Democratic performance and turnout, maybe we can pick up a congressional seat,” Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.

In Texas, for instance, Obama’s three dozen offices were overrun with volunteers during the primary; the campaign’s challenge is, in part, to find something useful to do with all that free labor......

(Also, I'm curious. Is this early 37 state exposure a "head fake" to lure John McCain, a testing of the waters to see where opportunities might be, or an expression of a campaign that already expects to win?

The reason I ask this is because the Obama campaign's math was unbelievably accurate in the primary. Is "50 state" a necessity or a luxury? What do they know sitting where they are? )


For some reason this morning, reading this article on the Fed "talking tough" on inflation, I was struck by how many of America's problems have devolved into a "jawboning" solution by this White House.

Oil prices. Inflation. The economy in general. The Iraqi political stalemate. The Pakistani inaction in the tribal regions. Sudan. Zimbabwe....

You know, in a successful administration with momentum, sometimes talking tough about problems can make some difference, but in this lame duck, historically disapproved administration, it's tantamount to throwing up your hands.


(WaPo/AP) The GAO digs into all the money given to Pakistan to "fight terror" and finds that billions were wasted, misallocated or simply disappeared. (Graft in Pakistan? Who could have forseen...)

(AFP) Pro-Taliban militants have killed 22 pro-government tribal elders who were kidnapped a day earlier in a Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan (They were part of the peace jirga.)

(NYTimes) 3 US soldiers were killed by a bomb in Mosul.(Sunni)

(AP) Two US soldiers and two US contractors were killed yesterday in an explosion in Sadr. City. (Shia)

(AFP) A car bomb attack in northern Iraq's restive city of Mosul has wounded at least 90 civilians...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who is modelling the correct polling sample?

There seem to be two very distinct threads of Obama/McCain polling out there. One like the AP and Rasmussen tracking seems to show the race at Obama +4/+6. The other like Newsweek last week (Obama +15) or today's LATimes/Bloomberg (Obama +12/+15, Bob Barr takes a couple points off McCain.)

The only sense I can make of this is that they are modeling their samples pretty drastically differently. Are the low polls using what we should assume will be an inaccurate 2004 turnout model, or are the Newsweek/LATimes estimations really out there? (How do you predict turnout this election?)

(It's not just Dem/Repub/Independent. It's also the age, income, evangelical, black, female demographics that are likely to turnout fairly differently than previous elections.)

These polls are so far out from the election that they're pretty meaningless. However, come fall, a narrative of a close race versus the narrative of a blowout creates a very different dynamic within the electorate. This will matter.

$400,000 for a couple phone calls.

Awww.... This is just disgusting.
A former top official in the White House's faith-based office was awarded a lucrative Department of Justice grant under pressure from two senior Bush administration appointees....

The grant was $1.2 million, $400,000 of which went to Lisa Trevino Cummins who basically got paid because she could get "two senior Bush administration appointees" to force this through. There are more grants in question.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama talks with Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Committee, while in flight from Washington to Chicago Thursday, June 19, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon))

McCain's problems

Well, now that we appear to have worked through "the Obama fret" (Polling fine to good among women, Hispanics, "working white," Jewish, swing state, etc.,) it looks like the focus is swinging back onto McCain whose campaign right now seems a rather chaotic and slipshod affair.

You had McCain's top campaign figure Charlie Black yesterday saying Americans dying in a terror attack could only be good for his candidate.

You've got the anti-immigration GOP livid that McCain held a secret meeting with Hispanic leaders where he supposedly promised them "paths to citizenship."

You've got McCain out in a poorly chosen Santa Barbara pushing offshore drilling in a state where that's not popular.... and McCain's backs off hiding behind "states' rights..... and you've got Schwarzenegger speaking against his plan.

Then, there's this gem. When asked by Fortune magazine "What do you see as the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy?" John McCain responds Islamic terrorism.

Another McCain adviser is the YouTube burp of the day in trying to defend McCain's inability to use a computer at a tech forum.

There're polls out showing Obama in reaching distance in swing states and red states (Indiana's the latest.)

And, An early bubbling of problems related to Cindy McCain's beer distribution company. (Opposed Mothers Against Drunk Driving on labels, markets the "youth friendly" flavored drinks.)

Bottom line. This is not the GOP machine we're used to seeing. I'm not sure if this is an off year thing, or a McCain thing, but seems to confirm that, for whatever reason, John McCain is not good running large campaigns. When he goes small, he's effective in targeted markets, but when it scales up, it always gets chaotic.

Cutting off your nose......

The US and Europe threaten their support for Iranian anti-heroin smuggling programs as part of the anti-nuclear sanctions package.

Really? That sounds like a good idea?

Crappy, crappy blogging

I don't know what's up, but I'm just not feeling at my bloggy best.

If I'm sloppy, or kinda off, cut me a little slack. It'll snap back in a day or two.

Picture of the Day

(Cindy McCain, wife of Republican U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, visits a hospital in Vietnam's central Nha Trang city, June 19, 2008, as part of her Asian tour to promote the Operations Smile Charity. REUTERS/Kham))

"The surge" has not succeeded.

A GAO report yesterday points out that "the surge," or at least the deals cut with the militant groups during the troop increase, has succeeded in lowering violence in Iraq.

However, the "benchmarks," (to reach back into the lexicon of one of the previous strategies) have all completely stalled. The oil deal is seemingly dead. Provincial elections are now pushed back into November, past the US election. The dispensation of Kirkuk has been moved to a distant future. A working plan for un-de-Baathification was approved, but the commission is unstaffed and inactive. The Iraqi security forces still cannot operate alone.....

These were the measurements of "the surge." Although the reduction in violence is extremely welcome, without resolving the underlying issues, the violence will always be just an election or one decision away.

But perhaps the most worrying thing should be this,
The administration lacks an updated and comprehensive Iraq strategy to move beyond the "surge" of combat troops President Bush launched in January 2007 as an 18-month effort to curtail violence and build Iraqi democracy.

They don't have a plan for after, and there are no troops left.

Somebody just crossed Tom Ridge off the VP list

Tom Ridge was never a likely choice for VP for McCain because of his pro-choice stance (although he was reportedly one of McCain's preferred choices,) but, to me, this sounds like somebody wanted to cross Ridge off the list anyhow.

RollCall reports that Ridge was lobbying for a foreign government(Albania) for two years without registering. (Probably not too big a deal except that Albania's government is now implicated, along with the US Ambassador there, in the illegal smuggling of Chinese ammunition.)

There are tons of ex-officials, unregistered and lobbying, so the timing of the RollCall reveal seems to me like someone is telling McCain to move on from considering Tom Ridge.

(VP politics is a very insider game.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Feeling the foundations shake?

Leaving aside the great irony of James Dobson accusing someone else of "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview," take a minute to appreciate this in some context.

Obama has been in the beginning phases of an evangelical (specifically youth) outreach of christian rock concerts, electronic media, twitter, etc. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, James Dobson digs back to criticize an Obama speech from 2006.

(This comes right on the back of that big Pew study on religion which seems to show evangelicals shaking from their traditional power structures.)

I don't think Obama picks up big evangelical support, but the Dobson's of the world can't be happy that the young in their movements are looking afield.

Slow Day

The USAToday poll has Obama +6 and FirstRead notes the enthusiasm gap, "61% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting in this year's election, while just 35% of Republicans said that."

Kathleen Sebelius is still working Ohio (and for VP.)

(JoeKlein) "the word in Republican circles is that John McCain is quite frustrated by the vice presidential selection process because he can't go with any of his top three choices...." (Tom Ridge - Prochoice, Jeb Bush - a Bush, and Mel Martinez - Not born in US.)

And, how shaky is the perception of John McCain's health that the mere appearance of a bandaid generates a question about cancer?

Picture of the Day

What? Well, just ****ing tell them to ignore all the ****ing oil execs who are donating to my ****ing campaign, you ****ing ****!!

(Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain talks on a cell phone as he takes his seat aboard his campaign charter before departing San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday, June 17, 2008. (AP Photo/LM Otero))


In Florida alone, more than half a million black registered voters stayed home in 2004. Hundreds of thousands more African Americans are eligible to vote but not registered. And campaign analysts have identified similar potential in North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri and Ohio.


(WaPo) Unsurprisingly, the US funded Arabic news service al-Hurra is failing. (One news anchor greeted the station's predominantly Muslim audience on Easter by declaring, "Jesus is risen today!")

(Wired) The Pentagon's "black budget" reaches an all time high.

And, (NYTimes) the news coverage of Iraq has fallen to almost nothing. (This year, the three nightly newscasts have shown a combined 181 total minutes of Iraq coverage.... CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq.)

McCain playing energy as a reform issue? The NYTimes plays along?

Check this out. McCain comes out with a $300 million car battery gimmick
The Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting is proposing a $300 million government prize to whomever can develop an automobile battery that far surpasses existing technology....

"In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure," said excerpts from McCain's prepared text.....

"Different hybrids and natural-gas cars carry different incentives, ranging from a few hundreds dollars to four grand. They're the handiwork of lobbyists, with all the inconsistency and irrationality that involves," McCain said.

And this just happens to be the same day the NYTimes frontpages with a story alleging Obama is crooked on ethanol.
He also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.....

Mr. Obama, in contrast, favors the subsidies, some of which end up in the hands of the same oil companies he says should be subjected to a windfall profits tax.

Oh, and of course, after implying "advisers and prominent supporters" in the Obama campaign, this pertinent fact is buried in the 24th paragraph, 3rd from last,
Ethanol industry executives and advocates have not made large donations to either candidate for president, an examination of campaign contribution records shows.

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but this sure feels like more than a coincidence, especially with the McCain speech and the NYTimes article echoing the same language.

(I don't think the NYTimes wrote the article at the behest of the McCain campaign, but the language and type of detail sure smells like an article that started with an opposition research handout.)

So, does the press cover the McCain proposal as a great idea or as a gimmick? You figure the right pundits will rave, but will the refereeing anchors? McCain will again be setting the agenda.

(This comes to stomp on Obama's call to close the "Enron loophole.")

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Picture of the Day - 2

A theater in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Thursday, June 19, 2008.
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

My assumptions confirmed on the Israel Iran story

Third day posting on this. First we get something of a confirmation that reports of this particular Israeli practice exercise against Iran are being hyped because, "such drills have been commonplace at least since 2005."

But, maybe more interestingly as I postulated yesterday, I think the bigger story may be that the Israeli exercise may have shown such a strike is likely to be off the table because such an operation would not be successful.
Officials, who declined to be identified given the censorship around Israel's strategic capabilities, said the air force would be unlikely to deliver more than a one-time blow to an Iranian nuclear programme, which international experts believe may require as many as 1,000 strikes to be destroyed.

"A hundred warplanes are enough for a raid but they do not make for an air campaign, and that is what is needed to deal conclusively with Iran's capabilities," an official said.

"Israel wants to go it alone against Iran as a last resort only."

And, one more, "I was right,"

Asked why the exercise might have been leaked in the United States, the official said only: "There's a lot of brinkmanship."

"US officials" (Bush administration figures) leaked this solely for effect, and it got dutifully and unquestioningly reprinted across the media.The thing is, the Iranians know. They've done their own exercises. The only target for this is the public and the Europeans.

Another shameful media moment. Another "package" delivered unquestioningly on the front page by the NYTimes' Michael Gordon.

That's new and ugly

A new tactic along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
A woman and three children were killed when rockets launched from about 300 meters (yards) inside Pakistani territory landed near the eastern town of Khost on Saturday, close to a large NATO base, provincial governor Arsala Jamal said. Eight people were wounded in the attack, most of them women....

Around the same time on Saturday evening, a rocket fired from Pakistan hit a hospital in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar, killing a man and wounding another man and a woman, the provincial governor said.

Also at the same time, three artillery shells fired from Pakistan landed in an Afghan army camp and three more close to a NATO base in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, the alliance said. There were no casualties, but NATO forces returned fire.

Also, from the Guardian today,
The Pakistani Frontier Corps has been heavily infiltrated and influenced by Taliban militants, sometimes joining in attacks on coalition forces, according to classified US 'after-action' reports compiled following clashes on the border.

....there are 'box loads' of such reports at US bases along the length of the Pakistan-Afghan border.