The Spectacle Blog

Re: JetBlue: The Real Deal?

By on 3.2.06 | 2:30PM

A reader is alarmed that my bag made it onto the flight without me:

if it were me I would contact DOHS (doh !) and FAA at once with the details. Heads should roll.

That was a very, very bad thing that happened. That's so elementary it predates 9/11 by more than a decade. I can remember flights I took in Europeback in the 1980's where all baggage was removed from the plane, lined up on the tarmac and all passengers made to deplane and identify their bags. Unclaimed bag = no flight.

I had suspected this was a problem. I've now called TSA's press office for an answer. I'll let y'all know what I find out.

Re: Iran Shahab-3 and Ghadar Missiles

By on 3.2.06 | 2:13PM

John: Why sea-based? Iran can disperse, harden and create a tremendous nuclear arsenal without the necessity of basing them at sea. They won't have the sub-launched missile capability for decades (unless China sells it to them, which would be too crazy for China, at this moment) and to base it at sea on surface ships would enable us to track them minute-to-minute. I think they can do all they want to with a land-based force. Once the missiles are mated to warheads, their ambitions are reached.

Iran Shahab-3 and Ghadar missiles

By on 3.2.06 | 1:33PM

Best Iran source reports that Iran now deploys many more Shahab-3 missiles than previously determined. Iran likely has up to 300 Shahab-3, which are forward deployed. There is no confirmation of what kind of warheads are now mounted.

At the same time, source reports that North Korean missile technicians are in residence at the Hemmat Missile Industries in Tehran, where they are working with Iranian Defense Ministry teams to develop the Ghadar missile. This is the multistage weapon with a range of 3000 kilometers and a baby bottle nipple like warhead that is capable of mounting a miniaturized nuclear weapon.

Tehran knows that its acquisition of breeder reactors and centrifuge cascades will not provide protection and a diplomatic dagger until and if Iran can mount a credible, well-defended, well-dispersed (sea-based) nuclear tipped strategic missile arsenal.

For those who argue (as more and more do) that blocking Iran's nuke ambitions is a futile mission, consider that Iran will use its enriched uranium product to construct a strategic missile threat to the Saudi Arabian oilfields, to India, Russia, and Berlin, as well as to the easy to reach Israel.

JetBlue: The Real Deal?

By on 3.2.06 | 1:30PM

So JetBlue had the lowest on-time arrivals for January. This is making headlines because JetBlue's supposed to be that different, hip, customer service oriented airline. In light of my travels with them last month, color me unsurprised.

This was my second flight on JetBlue. This one was to San Diego, but both were cross-country flights from Dulles to California. Last time was pleasant enough -- cheap fares, satellite TV, and generous snacks. This time, the satellite was busted, but the movies were still available. And to top it off, JetBlue sent a $15 voucher to compensate for the broken satellite a couple weeks later.

Re: Nuke India Risen

By on 3.2.06 | 1:19PM

John, 1,000 times yes on India, but -- Russia is the necessary piece to build along with India more than a tight tense balance of power, at least over the next 20 years. Real source of concern: Pakistan, which cannot go on precariously like this forever; every month is borrowed time on the im- or explosion of Pakistan, and India looks infinitely stronger with a self-contradictory and U.S.-compliant Pakistan beside it instead of an ex-Musharraf fellow-nuclear fire-breathing monster. All points and counterpoints -- Japanese/Chinese, European/Muslim, and Indian/Pakistani -- lead toward the Russian hinterland...

Nuke India Risen

By on 3.2.06 | 1:04PM

Why is the U.S. negotiation with India over nuclear weapons critical to the long term (century long) defense of the United States?

Examine the facts on the ground. Call this neo-realism. Best India source confirms that India now possesses 30-40 nuclear weapons in position to use. The arsenal includes sea-based missiles (submarine launched) and mobile-based missiles. The warheads are based entirely on plutonium derived from breeder reactors built over the last forty years with Canadian and Indian involvement.

What India wants is the ability to manufacture at least 30 weapons per year entirely from plutonum from breeder reactors. This is why India does not want the new breeder reactors to be available to inspectors as commercial/civilian sites.

India does not want to rely upon the nuclear weapons umbrella of the United States.

There is a nuclear arms race on the South Asian continent. India has a no first use policy. Pakistan does not have a no first use policy. China is pell-mell to outgun India and the U.S. and Australia and Japan.

How Low Can It Go?

By on 3.2.06 | 12:02PM

According to this Bloomberg report, a new Quinnipiac poll puts the Prez/s support down to 36%. The earlier CBS poll, derided as it should have been for weighting Dems' opinions more heavily, may have been close to the mark. But the Quinnipiac poll is much more worrisome: it reports 52% disliking the president's handing of terrorism and 60% opposing his Iraq approach. What's to be done?

President Bush needs to be out there, visibly leading on the miost important issues. There's much damage to be repaired. And much action to be taken. Speeches are important, and the president needs to be making them to the people, not to the press. And he needs to do it all around the country.

Newsflash: Soviets Tried to Kill JPII

By on 3.2.06 | 11:10AM

Talk about behind the ball -- an Italian investigation reports that the Soviets were behind Ali Agca's assassination attempt on Pope John Paull II in 1981. I know the Italian life is leisurely, but this is ridiculous. (hat tip: Icarus Fallen)

UPDATE: I should mention that Marek Jan Chodakiewicz has an excellent article detailing the Soviets' secret file on JPII in our March issue. But you'll only know if you subscribe -- a digital subscription is a measly $19.95 a year. And knowing's half the battle.

Fukuyama, Iraqarama

By on 3.2.06 | 10:04AM

If you want to see someone pick apart Hitchens' strong argument, consult The Washington Realist; after reading both sides, see Robert Kaplan at the Post writing with a seriously level head about the uniqueness of Iraq and the need for a fresh stabilization of order. It's an editorial everyone should be able to agree with, yet it also speaks forthrightly and accurately. I editorialize on it some more here.

Katrina: Over the Top or Under the Radar?

By on 3.2.06 | 9:03AM

We're hearing from some sources on Capitol Hill that the AP's big story this morning on President Bush's pre-Katrina briefing (with both a video of the conference call, as well as documents that were leaked to the AP), was pulled together and leaked by Democratic staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which has been holding hearings on the matter.

In speaking with White House sources, they say the video of the conference call between the President (who was at his ranch in Texas) and FEMA and Homeland Security officials was made available to Government Accountability Office investigators for their report, which was made public earlier this year. The White House believes GAO officials shared the video with Democratic staff.

As seems to be an almost weekly occurrence, the fellows over at Powerline take apart the so-called "explosive" report about the videotape and the leaked materials. Basically, the AP reporters have taken apples and oranges and attempted to make lemonade.