Patterico's Pontifications

2/2/2008

Benazir Bhutto names her Killers

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 10:59 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In a posthumous autobiography excerpted in the Times of London, Benazir Bhutto names four groups that she was told intended to kill her. One group included Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden. Another includes Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud, who is reported to be behind her assassination:

“The former Pakistan prime minister, who was assassinated as she left a rally in Rawalpindi in December, reveals she was warned by both President Pervez Musharraf and a “friendly Muslim government” that Hamza Bin Laden was planning her murder.

The naming of Bin Laden’s teenage son appears to bolster intelligence claims that Hamza is being groomed as a future leader of Al-Qaeda.

In her new autobiography, Bhutto writes: “I was told by both the Musharraf regime and the foreign Muslim government that four suicide bomber squads would attempt to kill me. These included, the reports said, the squads sent by the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud; Hamza Bin Laden, a son of Osama Bin Laden; Red Mosque militants; and a Karachi-based militant group.”

There is speculation that Hamza bin Laden is being groomed to act as his father’s successor. The Times’ article describes him as follows:

“Little has been heard of Hamza since he featured in a joint Taliban and Al-Qaeda video, shot in 2001, of a militant attack on a Pakistan army camp in South Waziristan, a militant stronghold near the Afghan border.

Last September Hamza was described in reports as a senior Al-Qaeda leader who had been waging jihad in the lawless tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.”

Bhutto also provided details of an earlier suicide bomb attack on her motorcade when she returned to Pakistan last October:

“Bhutto’s book also describes how a suicide bomb attack on her motorcade in Karachi when she returned home last October may have been carried out by a would-be assassin who lined the clothes of a toddler with plastic explosive to turn the child into a bomb.

She says a man gestured to her to hold the child, before trying to hand it to police in a nearby van, which exploded soon afterwards.”

As horrible as the last two paragraphs are, it’s important to know this so we understand what our enemies are willing to do to win … and so we know why we can’t let them.

— DRJ

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas Profiles John McCain

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 7:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In the February 11, 2008, edition, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas profiles John McCain in an article entitled “What These Eyes Have Seen.” The article raises good and bad points about McCain. If you want to read the good points, click on the link because you won’t see those in this post. However, there were so many negative aspects of McCain’s character addressed in the article that I’ve decided to chronicle them here.

McCain is prickly and quick to anger and take offense (page 1):

”McCain, who clearly cannot stand Romney (and vice versa), bridles at anyone or anything that impugns his honor, most sacred of military virtues. In rare weak moments, he can seem prickly, impetuous, vindictive—the sort of military martinet whose finger is supposed to be kept far from the button. Yet he is endowed with self-knowledge and self-effacing dignity. “I’m a man of many failings,” McCain says with a genuine, if practiced, ruefulness. “I make no bones about it. That’s why I’m such a believer in redemption. I’ve done many, many things wrong in my life. The key is to try to improve.” There are a number of U.S. senators who can attest to McCain’s repentance with handwritten apologies for his intemperance.”

People who knew McCain as a young man thought he was nasty, a jerk and a bully (page 2):

”According to Robert Timberg’s “The Nightingale’s Song,” McCain’s nicknames at EHS [Episcopal High School of Alexandria, Virginia] were “Punk,” “Nasty” and “McNasty.” A classmate described him as a “tough, mean little f–––er.” Episcopal had borrowed from state military schools the sobriquet “rat” to describe first-year students at the mercy of upperclassmen hazing. McCain writes: “My resentment, along with my affected disregard for rules and school authorities, soon earned me the distinction of ‘worst rat’.” At Annapolis, he was, he writes, “a slob.” He looked for authorities to subvert, settling on a bullying, second-year midshipman he and his friends dubbed “Sh–––y Witty the Middy,” and making life miserable for a by-the-book captain who was supposed to discipline him. “I acted like a jerk,” McCain writes. McCain came close to “bilging”—getting kicked out—but seemed to know exactly how far he could go. He graduated fifth from the bottom of his class.”

McCain has a psychological need to surpass the accomplishments of his father and grandfather (page 2):

”Always, the fear of disgracing his forebears hung over him. “He has been preoccupied with escaping the shadow of his father and establishing his own image and identity in the eyes of others,” reads a psychiatric evaluation in McCain’s medical files. “He feels his experiences and performance as a POW have finally permitted this to happen.” Released after the 1973 Peace Accords, McCain returned to the United States a hero. “Felt fulfillment when his Dad was introduced at a dinner as ‘Commander McCain’s father.’ He had arrived,” noted the psychiatric report in 1974.”

McCain views himself as an inspirational leader, not an organizer of victory (page 2):

”In the military, there are two kinds of leaders, McCain mused in his interview with NEWSWEEK—the “organizer of victory” type, like Gen. George Marshall and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the more “inspirational” type, like his father and grandfather, who may not be terribly organized but are gifted at leading men into battle. Likewise, said McCain, there are different types of senators. “One is the person who is involved in the detail and the appropriation for the road or the bypass,” he said—the type of lawmaker who gets involved in the “minutiae” that helps “people get re-elected.” McCain said, unenthusiastically: “I respect that kind of senator.” Then there is the “policymaking” senator, clearly McCain’s model.”

McCain has a checkered record at interacting with politicians. Some profess admiration and respect for McCain, including Senator Joseph Liebermann and Maine’s GOP Senator Susan Collins. Thomas also reports that McCain got along well-enough with Hillary Clinton to have a vodka-drinking contest with her on a Senate junket to Estonia and that “[f]ormer Democratic majority leader Tom Daschle has written that he engaged in serious talks with McCain in 2001 to bring him over to the Democratic Party.” Although McCain apparently never denied talking with Daschle about changing parties, he claimed he would never leave the GOP. However …

Some Republican Senators probably wish McCain had switched parties (page 3):

”But a number of senators and former lawmakers are still licking their wounds from run-ins with McCain. “It’s sad, really,” says former senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire. “John McCain can tell a good joke and we can laugh, and I’ve had my share of good times with him.” That is the side of McCain, says Smith, that the press sees. But behind the scenes lurks a less amiable McCain. “You can disagree without being disagreeable,” says Smith. “And I don’t think John is able to do that. If he disagrees with you, he does it in a way that is disagreeable.”

The lore of “Senator Hothead,” as McCain has been dubbed over the years, is considerable. McCain is widely reported to have yelled profanities at senators and even shoved one or two (including the late Strom Thurmond, a feisty nonagenarian at the time of the alleged incident). After McCain used an obscenity to describe Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa to his face in 1992, Grassley did not speak to McCain for more than a year. (“That’s all water over the dam,” Grassley says.)

McCain has reportedly learned to control his temper; still, there are moments when he cannot or does not. Last spring, at a closed-door meeting of senators and staff, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tried to amend the immigration bill to make ineligible convicted felons, known terrorists and gang members. Agitated that any attempt to amend the bill would jeopardize its slim chance of passage (ultimately, the bill failed), McCain snapped, “This is chickens–––.” Cornyn shot back that McCain shouldn’t come parachuting in off the presidential-campaign trail at the last minute and start making demands. “F––– you,” said McCain, in front of about 30 witnesses. (A Cornyn aide says that the Texas senator was unbothered by the incident. “I think he just thought, ‘Here’s John being a jerk’,” says the aide, who declined to be identified speaking for Cornyn.)”

Senator Thad Cochran – who supports Mitt Romney – noted that McCain had lost his temper with him and other Senators so often that Cochran worries about McCain’s ability to act as commander-in-chief (page 3):

”Did he find McCain’s temper to be somehow disabling or disqualifying in a potential president? “I don’t know how to assess that,” says Cochran. “I certainly know no other president since I’ve been here who’s had a temperament like that. There’s some who were capable of getting angry, of course. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter both. But this …” His voice trailed away. “You like to think your president would be cool, calm and collected. He’s commander in chief.”

McCain is vindictive and acts on it (page 4):

”McCain may have a bit of a vindictive streak. “John has an enemies list longer than Nixon’s,” says a former Pentagon official who did not want to get on it. “And, unlike Nixon, McCain really does try to get you.” After the Boeing scandal, three Air Force officials who quit all found that one of McCain’s top aides had quietly spread word around the defense community that anyone hiring them would risk the senator’s displeasure.”

Evan Thomas concludes with quotes from an unnamed source who claims to be a McCain supporter (page 4):

”And he still has an impetuosity that is nervous-making to old foreign-policy hands. One of them, a former high official in several Republican administrations who occasionally advises McCain (and wishes to continue to) worries to NEWSWEEK about McCain’s “quirky” judgment and his unwillingness to change his mind once it’s made up.”

After reading this and Patterico’s earlier posts, I wonder if the widespread opposition to McCain by Washington conservatives is due more to their knowledge of McCain’s personality than concern about his policies. It’s easier to say McCain isn’t conservative enough than to say you oppose him because he’s a short-tempered, nasty jerk.

— DRJ

Southern Border Incursions

Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 4:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A January 29, 2008, article from the El Paso Times reports the release of government records (obtained by Judicial Watch) that show 25 incursions by Mexican military and police into the US in 2007, and 278 incursions since 1996. In addition, the article lists the numbers for the past 10 years by sector, including 2 El Paso sector incursions. There have also been US incursions into Mexico.

There are fewer incursions from the US into Mexico than from Mexico into the US, so it’s interesting that one of the US incursions into Mexico happened in November 2006 in Fabens, the same area where Ramos and Compean encountered and shot Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. After the Ramos/Compean case, Fabens is a surprising sector for Border Patrol agents to (1) pursue smugglers and (2) cross the international border, let alone to do so (3) “in the heat of the moment.” And yet it apparently happened.

Are the Border Patrol agents in the Fabens sector not as well-supervised or could they be more prone to reckless behavior? It’s possible but, especially after the Ramos/Compean incident, I doubt it. At this point, Fabens seems like the least likely Border Patrol sector to have something like this happen.

I wonder what happened in November 2006 that caused the Fabens Border Patrol agents to cross the border in pursuit of a drug smuggler?

— DRJ

Who Can Oppose the Democrats’ Pandering? Only Romney

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 2:01 pm

And the pandering continues:

While in Southern California, Clinton stressed pocketbook issues with voters in a working-class neighborhood of Inglewood.

“We need to freeze [mortgage] interest rates, or we are going to have more people at risk of losing their homes,” she said. “. . . What good would it be to have vacant homes in this neighborhood?”

“It is wrong for somebody to have to sell or refinance their home to send a child to college,” the New York senator and former first lady added as she visited a couple who did precisely that.

Freezing interest rates is yet another step towards creeping socialism — government control of the entire economy. Although the Fed controls the discount rate, that doesn’t necessarily affect long-term home mortgage interest rates. Federal control over those rates would be a radical step towards a central Soviet-style economy.

And since when is it the government’s job to send children to college? Parents have to pay for that any way they can manage — and if it requires a refinancing, so be it.

Who do we want to put up against a panderer like that?

Someone who has run a business and knows how insane it is to talk about freezing interest rates?

Or someone who talks about sending greedy Wall Street businessmen to jail for their role in offering subprime loans?

The choice is yours, Republicans. Most polls show McCain ahead — but one recent national poll has McCain and Romney neck and neck. The race need not be over Tuesday. Don’t resign yourself to second best.

Quote of the Day

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 1:30 pm

A salesman talks about his sales success:

My message is obviously selling a lot better than his because look at how much he’s had to put behind it to market it, and it’s barely sold. I have fewer resources, but I’ve sold as much of the product as he has.

Who is this fellow talking about marketing and selling “the product”? Click here to find out.

The War: A Winning Issue???

Filed under: 2008 Election,General,War — Patterico @ 12:10 pm

Conservatives who like John McCain keep telling me that his strong pro-war stance is going to be what carries us through this election.

Meanwhile, 77 people were killed in two coordinated suicide bombings in Baghdad.

The point is not that such attacks demonstrate that we aren’t winning. Things are better in Iraq than they were a year ago.

But I don’t think it has turned into a winning issue for the GOP, and events like this serve as a reminder of why the public hates the war.

UPDATE: Okie on the Lam says that this shows that Al Qaeda is getting desperate, and that the L.A. Times is simply trying to make it seem like the war is getting worse.

This may be true. But in this post, I’m talking about the perceptions of the average voter. And the average voter will see any such violence in Iraq — regardless of the particular circumstances — as just another reminder of why they want us out.


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