Dave: Don't keep your hopes up, if Washington Post coverage is any indication. The paper's big story today almost pulls a New York Times in not including any mention of the pages missing from the released version of the report. I said "almost" because buried in the middle of the story is this mealy-mouthed reference: "The document, which was released with limited redactions..." How can 120 pages amount to "limited"?
The Spectacle Blog
Report from Financial Times correspondent at Lagos that the fresh threat to Dutch Shell's platforms and people in the mission-critical Niger Delta is unlike any previous cycle. Usually the gangs steal from the pipelines; the gangs grab a foreigner and ransom him back; the gangs demand protection money. But the new gang is called MEND, for the liberation of the Delta from the central government and the oil cartels, and it looks much more like a nationalist cadre than a shakedown crew. Is this the beginning of a Viet Cong with oil? Grabbing four engineers, from UK, U.S., Honduras and Bolivia, the MEND gang wants Ijaw sympathizers released from government jail and wants Shell to make a $1.5 billion downpayment to clean up the environment of the Delta.
Nigerian output is down near ten percent in less than a month. The Obasanjo government is confused and fractured. The 2007 election demands a new president. Will Obasanjo use a crisis to continue his clumsy, kleptocratic rule? Will Shell and Total and Agip find a fee that the MEND gang accept instead of power sharing in the Delta?
Dave: I did not realize that we shared an alma mater. Though in my days at PC, the biggest to-do I recall was the departure of Rick Pitino to the Knicks, after he had led the most Cinderella of teams, the 1987 Friars, to the Final Four. Ensler had not yet defiled the printed page with her Monologues. I do recall the college's putting on an Edward Albee production, Seascape, one of his less objectionable pieces. Of course I only bothered attending because I was interested in the woman lead …. But I digress.
Good for Shanley. This bodes well for his presidency, and the college.
Trusted source from Israeli politics indicates that support for Olmert and the Kadima Party is soft and likely to fall away over the next weeks to the March election. Olmert polls about 40 plus seats right now, which would give Kadima the power hand to form a coalition in the Knesset. However, this number includes all the Russians, who will reconsider, and a generous count of the Labor and Likud types who are still persuaded that the now absent Sharon and now decayed Peres represent the comfortable future. These shaky votes will drift.
Also, Olmert will now be tested by the witches of the terror gangs, and he will struggle to answer. Olmert is by training a politician: he chooses between sides and shines. We call it triangulation. It does not work when faced with the bombers. Hamas and Al Aqsa and Islamic Jihad regard Olmert as weak and a U.S. pet. HizbAllah does not fear Olmert, as they know he will not send the tanks north again to Lebanon. And the Egyptians regard Olmert as an acting mayor.
RET's erstwhile co-author Brian McGuire reports in the New York Sun today that Congressional Republicans aren't yet giving up on releasing the rest of the Barrett Report. Among options they're considering: committee investigations, forcing the release through legislation, or continuing press on the three-judge panel overseeing the independent counsel. The Democrats and major media want to relegate this report to partisan non-event status. Republicans and the blogs need to fight back by keeping up the pressure.
The only folks in Washington seriously advocating a filibuster are extreme liberals with nothing to lose, like the National Organization for Women.
Strangely, even the People for the American Way doesn't mention the "f" word on its home page or its Stop Alito petition. PFAW doesn't seem to take its own Alito opposition seriously: just take a look at its laughably apocalyptic flash flick, "It's a Less Wonderful Life." If Alito on the Court would be so bad, why not advocate a filibuster? My guess is that Ralph Neas understand the political and legal realities where the Nags don't: Alito will be a fine justice. PFAW's holding their fire for the really conservative nominee.
Ebrahim Sheibani, nimble and quick, tells the world in his capacity as Tehran's top banker that Iran has o'erleaped the singeing candle of "smart" sanctions -- by pulling its foreign currency reserves out of European banks.
Those cruising Drudge lately will also have learned in old-school counterpoint that -- as human paragon of international law and Nobel Laureate M. ElBaradei refuses to condemn Iran -- non-Laureate Jacques Chirac has started talking up the nuclear option against any would-be terrorist enemy of France. It appears, perhaps not yet a day late and dollar short, that the French leadership understands the limits of diplomacy backed by more panicked diplomacy.
Today's NY Sun editorial entitled "Nuts!" imagines the famous response of BGen. Anthony McAuliffe, commander of the 101st Airborne surrounded and besieged in Bastogne in December 1944, to be what President Bush will say in response to bin Laden's truce offer. Forget for the moment that witnesses insist that Gen. McAuliffe's response was far more colorful (and less printable in family magazines) than a mere "nuts." But remember his role: besieged, only able to hang on bravely until relief arrived.
It would have been better for the Sun to put the president in the shoes of Grant at Vicksburg. When the Rebels sought terms, Grant demanded unconditional surrender. On his very worst day, Johnny Reb didn't come close to the level of evil OBL achieves at his most benign. If the troglodyte terrorist chief were in the president's shoes, he'd accept nothing less than America's utter destruction. He should -- and will -- get from G.W. Bush worse, much worse, than the Rebels got from U.S. Grant.
Conversation with Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar, chief of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, who treats PA President Abbas as a used car. The election next week, January 25, will deliver overwhelmingly to Hamas in Gaza and will demonstrate that the Palestinian Authority is a ruse. There is no authority. There are factions within the landscape that have divided loyalties and paymasters. The coalition will consist of Hamas, Al Aqsa, Islamic Jihad, HizbAllah, the Popular Resistance Committee, the PFLP and so forth. I asked al-Zahar if, as a major leader of the Coalition, if he would negotiate with the UN or the Quartet with regard the so-called Road Map. He was adamant. No road map after the elections.
The US State Department depends upon the road map as if it were holy writ. Up ahead is an unknown country. No guides. Bootless.