Elections 2008

This was written prior to the elections in 2006, it still holds true for 2008.

As we run into the stretch for the Mid-terms both parties have studies, the media has studies, and the pundits have studies all saying that x, y, or z will or should be uppermost on voter’s minds as they head to polls in November. However all of these organizations have the intent of making their the issues uppermost in voter’s minds. In other words it’s galactic-scale spin that speeds up as we draw closer to the election.

This is my attempt to clarify — most things in life nowadays are never simplex. There isn’t a silver bullet issue that will win for either party, no matter how many pundits will try to convince you that one simplex problem cost so-and-so their seat, or got so-and-so their seat.

The world is more than complex today, it’s multiplex. Issues influence each other, and when you come to an election cycle there are so many spinning constellations of political philosophies migrating together that it’s like Galaxies Colliding.  What comes out the other side and why is nearly impossible to predict or to backtrack on after the fact. Unless of course you are Karl Rove.

Using this multiplex theory, it’s easy to see why disentangling the war in Iraq from the war on Terror is an impossible task, just as trying to pry gas prices lose from Future Energy Policy and past Environmental Policy is a loser as well. There are too many stars, planets, and gas clouds spinning into each other to sort those out for the average voter.

So when it comes to this election here are some key nuclei of the multiplex universe:

  1. Local Issues: if there are large ones this will influence outcomes.
  2. GWOT
  3. Future Energy and Environmental Policy
  4. Immigration / protecting the borders
  5. Healthcare?

These appear to be the nuclei of the galaxies colliding in November, notice how they all cross over and influence each other. Also take note that if the stars are larger and brighter in your LOCAL galaxy, the gravity of the situation in the other three are not going to influence you as much as the sooth-sayers with their galacto-scan pundit-hats  might have you believe. If you look behind the curtain of the pundits who profess to influence somewhere between one eigth to one sixth of the electorate, you will see they have their scopes focused on a warped mirror reflecting some alternate, mythic universe.

Snowprints

snowprints.jpgSoon my wife and I will be making prints like this in sand instead of snow.

Jaish e Muhammed Commander Killed

Police and the Indian 44th Rashtriya Rifles killed a JeM commander in a sweep of Ladkigam Drubgam. The sweep came after intelligence indicated the presence of Jaish e Muhammed in the village, and during the ensuing firefight the JeM commander, Abdul Gani Dar, son of Habibullah Dar of Frisipora Pulwama, was killed.

From Etalaat.net

Baitullah Mehsud Denies Assasination

UPDATE: Let’s get the record and chronology straight — first a lot of press people are getting things wrong. Baitullah Mehsud is self-declared Taliban, of the Pakistani, not Afghan flavor. He is loosely aligned with Al Qaeda, and agrees with them on things, and there seems to be mutual support on occasions.

They are not however welded at the hip, and it’s wrong to call him Al Qaeda. At one point last summer, Baitullah led the tribal alliance of the Mehsuds to expel AQ “foreign fighters” from his region in South Waziristan. At other points there seems to have been mutual support and jobs for each other. This was notable in multiple indicators of both Mehsud and Al Qaeda involvement at the Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid.

Baitullah now leads the combined groups of Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek e Taliban. This was announced earlier this month. He’s denying culpability, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is claiming credit for the assasination. I find it hard to believe that he had zero involvement as he does have contacts and traffic with Lashkar e Jhangvi, a group under the Harkut ul Jamiyaat Islami (HuJI) umbrella that’s high on the suspect list for this. JI and HuJI have declared allegiance directly to AQ in October, Baitullah has not directly declared allegiance that I have seen. (Someone please correct me here if I missed that.)

Bill Roggio has come up with the best acronmyn for these knit together but disparate groups: Al Qaeda and Aligned Movements, or AQAM.  

As I was suspecting he would, Baitullah Mehsud has denied involvement in the assasination of Benazir Bhutto. There are four probable reasons:

  1. He’s in a delicate position – open alliance with AQ would sap from his regional support.
  2. It keeps the conspiracy theorists humming, feeding political intrigue and dissension.
  3. To protect himself – the backlash from this against the culprit once found will be terrific.
  4. Or maybe he just didn’t do it.

It’s unlikely that he had zero involvement, the message intercept posted yesterday had names in it, and places. While the government could fake this, it’s doubtful that they would use real names and places if they contrived it because those can be checked.

As the new leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Baitullah’s in charge of a fractious alliance of Pakistani Taliban groups, some who aren’t going to like the way this has unfolded, and who aren’t fond of being directly allied with Al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda made clear claim of ordering this action — Baitullah having performed the assasination under their orders would show a definite alliance, which is something that Baitullah can’t afford in South Waziristan where antipathy towards the foreigners, including Al Qaeda, is still high.

Fueling political intrigue seems to be behind the denial judging from the statement of the spokesperson for Baitullah:

In a telephone conversation with Kyodo News, Baitullah Mehsud’s spokesman Maulvi Umar said that Bhutto was killed for political considerations.

“Benazir Bhutto was assassinated clearly by people who wanted to gain politically from her death. This is the work of (intelligence) agencies and the Pakistani government,” he said.

Maulvi Umar said the Pakistani government is blaming Mehsud to bring the Pakistani Taliban into disrepute in Pakistan and crush their growing power.

He said the Pakistani Taliban shared the grief of the people of Pakistan and the world at large at the assassination of Bhutto.

I find the “Taliban sharing the grief of the people” bit to be well… bullshit. Baitullah has directly threatened to assasinate Benazir in the past, and he’s still on my suspect list.

More at Pat Dollard’s

Will Al Qaeda also Murder Cricket in Pakistan?

australian-cricket2.jpgThe Australian Cricket team is considering canceling their tour of Pakistan in March, which will effectively cancel three tests and five one-day games. From Malaysia Sun:

Melbourne, Dec.29 : The Australian cricket team is almost certain to cancel a tour of Pakistan this March.

Cricket Australia said it was monitoring the situation, but stark warnings posted on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website yesterday strongly advised against visits.

“We continue to receive a stream of credible reports indicating terrorists are in the advanced stages of planning attacks. These attacks could target Western or Australian interests and individuals and places frequented by foreigners,” The Australian quoted the Foreign Office advisory, as saying.

Australia is due to leave in mid-March to play three Tests and five one-day games.

Players have expressed reservations about the tour even before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Test batsman Michael Clarke said he would leave the decision to the Australian Cricketers Association and Cricket Australia.

“We are out of our depths, it’s something we probably shouldn’t even comment on because we don’t know enough about it, or I certainly don’t know enough about it,” The Australian quoted Clarke, as saying.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday his Government would provide advice to the cricketers.

“Our first and foremost concern, like Cricket Australia’s, is the safety and security of the Australian cricket team and we will be providing, through the Government, every source of information necessary for Cricket Australia to be making an informed judgment about the future of that particular tour,” he said.

More at IHT — it’s not just Australia worried.

All Parties Committee to Discuss Pakistani Elections

The government has decided to host an all party committee meeting to discuss how the upcoming elections should be held. I would wager that they are wanting postponement, and to give PPP some grace to put forth a new candidate for Prime Minister.

Above and beyond that one attendee at the discussion stated that it regardless of the problems in the wake of Benazir’s assasination that it would be impossible to call emergency rule again. This is a wise choice, it would be the exact thing that Al Qaeda was trying to provoke. From Dawn:

ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: The government has decided not to re-impose emergency in the country and instead call an All Parties Conference (APC) to decide about the elections, scheduled to be held on Jan 8, sources told Dawn on Thursday.

They said the decision in this respect was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by President Pervez Musharraf. Sources said the president has asked Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro to immediately hold an APC to seek the consent of all political parties in the country on the issue.

It was decided in the meeting that whatever the decision would be taken by the APC about the elections would be welcomed by the government.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz who also attended the meeting gave detail about the decision taken in it, saying there was no possibility to again impose emergency in the country. “Despite severe reaction of the people on the sad demise of Benazir Bhutto there is no possibility of imposition of emergency again in the country,” he added.

Asked whether the option of postponement of election was discussed in the meeting, he said, it was not come under discussion.

For several reasons the party leaders and stalwarts of the Pakistani People’s Party need to get the party and their people under control. While it is a terrible event, the longer the rage and frustration runs the more property and infrastructure gets destroyed. It is like an earthquake made of angry people, and it must subside.

If it does not the rest of Pakistan will judge that the PPP is out of control, and perhaps not fit to govern. The leaders must regain charge, get a message out to stop the violence, burning, and looting.

The Election Commission will also be meeting Monday to see what steps are next, the PPP needs to come up with a plan, they can’t do that if everyone is still raging.

From Malaysia Sun:

Islamabad, Dec 29 : The Election Commission (EC) of Pakistan is convening an emergency meeting on Monday, suggesting the possibility of the January 8 parliamentary elections being postponed.

According to a report, the prevailing law and order situation has prevented the EC from sending poll materials across the country.

The law and order situation has worsened following the assassination of Benazir Bhutoo in Rawalpinidi. Supporters of Bhutto have gone a violent rampage across the country since her death on Thursday.

Eight offices of the EC were burnt in Sindh Province and all election materials was destroyed, The News reported.

Osama Bob Laden

baghdadbob.gifMichael Yon makes a very apt comparison between the relevance of new Bin Laden tapes to Iraq and “Baghdad Bob’s” statements from Baghdad. (Remember the classic “There are no Americans here!” as an Abrams tank rolled by the window behind him?)

Intercepted Assasination Intel

Pakistani authorities intercepted a congratulatory message from Baitullah Mehsud to the coordinator of the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Text from AP below:

Maulvi Sahib: Peace be on you.

Mehsud: Peace be on you, too.

Maulvi Sahib: How are you Emir Sahib?

Mehsud: Fine.

Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations. I arrived now tonight.

Mehsud: Congratulations to you, too.

Maulvi Sahib: They were our men there.

Mehsud: Who were they?

Maulvi Sahib : There were Saeed, the second was Badarwala Bilal and Ikramullah was also there.

Mehsud: The three did it?

Maulvi Sahib: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.

Mehsud: Then congratulations to you again.

Maulvi: Where are you? I want to meet with you?

Mehsud: I am in Makin. Come I am at Anwar Shah’s home.

Maulvi Sahib: OK I will come.

Mehsud: Do not inform their family presently.

Maulvi Sahib: Right.

Mehsud: It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys who killed her.

Maulvi Sahib: Praise be to God. I will give you more details when I come.

Mehsud: I will wait for you. Congratulation once again.

Maulvi Sahib: Congratulations to you as well.

Mehsud: Any service?

Mauvliv: Thank you very much?

Mehsud: Peace be on you.

Maulvi: Same to you.

This intercept coupled with Al Qaeda’s claim of credit for the attack shows that Baitullah Mehsud is firmly allied with Bin Laden and Zawahiri, and that my prior speculation that he perhaps was playing his own game for power was wrong. Baitullah Mehsud is owned by foreign Al Qaeda miscreants bent on the destruction of Pakistan.

Pakistanis want to disbelieve that Al Qaeda exists, that they are a real threat to their country, and that they could have turned on their creators and former hosts. They can’t believe that Pakistanis would actually turn against Pakistan. It’s like Dr. Frankenstein’s eyes widening in disbelieve right before the monster slays him.

They had better start believing because AQ and their handful ISI tag-alongs have no place else to go now. Pakistan’s creation, these death crows, are home to roost – destroying Pakistan is now do or die for Al Qaeda, and Ayman’s called for Jihad.

More from the Daily Times.

Pakistan Burning

Riots and insurrections have broken out in most major cities in Pakistan in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s funeral. There are some worrisome indicators: banks, transport, government buildings are the targets, and the violence and burning in some places seems less than random. Normally I would expect a few gas stations, KFC’s and other buildings to go up, but some of the violence appears directed, like the freeing of prisoners from  jails.

The security forces have stated that they intercepted a message from Baitullah Mehsud congratulating the unit that carried out the attack, and we also have Al Qaeda claiming credit for ordering the attack. It will be interesting to see if Baitullah Mehsud denies this or not.

 Video from AP:

Reforming Islam

An important debate of our time involves the reformation of Islam – and like a household hosting a mugger, the first step is recognizing and admitting that supporting the mugger is the problem.

The recent assassination in Pakistan demonstrates once more the desperate urgency of that problem for all Islamic people. All structures of governance in the Islamic world are but feathers upon the sand awaiting the deathwind of Jihad.

When any cleric, imam, mullah, or maulvi can declare a ruler, a law, a person, or a sect non-Islamic or takfir, then stable civil government — whatever form it might take, is impossible. Unreformed Islam is the path to unending misery, chaos, strife, and despair for Islamic people.

If muslims value their faith then they must not let people like Al Zarqawi and Al Zawahiri or the radical clerics and scholars who back them define Islam. I am not talking about defining it in western eyes either.

As the history unrolls it has become clear that the most vile, heinous, and inhumane treatment of Muslims has come from Al Qaeda and their aligned movements rather than the west. These murderers have maimed, tortured, starved killed, and stolen from more muslims than all the forces in the west. None can deny the horror they have wrought upon the Ummah.

After being scourged from Iraq and Afghanistan by other muslims, Al Qaeda has now decided to move on Pakistan – the first fully Islamic state. If they continue to make hate the most visibile message of the prophet, then Islam is doomed.  It will be Muslims who fear change who usher it in, and muslims who seek temporal power rather than purity who destroy it.

The neo-takfirists in Al Qaeda claim that they are the “true muslims”, and since they have decreed that, all who do not believe as they do are Takfir, or no longer true to Islam. They have self-proclaimed holy-writ, and if Islam is to survive then Muslims must tear that from their hands and reclaim their faith.

Muslims can’t do that without first examining the flaws and the unfinished scholasticism the Neo-takfirists exploit for power. So muslim scholars who love their faith must heal it, it’s not something non-muslims can do. To paraphrase Sophocles: “The unexamined faith is not worth having.”

At Threats watch Daveed Garstenstein-Ross hosted a debate about this subject between Robert Spencer and Marvin Hutchens, a US Marine, and a practicing Muslim for six years. Here is the link where you can hear the audio or read the transcript.