Friday, June 14, 2002

ZoNotes: Y yo sigo aquí esperandote...

Life and Death in Karachi
The homicide attack on the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan apparently failed to kill any Americans, injuring one Marine and wounding five Pakistani employees of the facility. Nine others were killed and 45 wounded. If you want a glimpse of how sensitive things are in Pakistan, this would be a good indicator. Terrorists of this nature were cultivated by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the infamous ISI. President Musharraf must, I believe, be aware of what working with the U.S. means. First, it means that the monsters he raised are now turning their guns against his rule and the American presence in the country. Second, there is no way that he can exercise control over said groups and expect to get any traction on the issue of Kashmir. The conclusions one could draw are diametric opposites -- either Musharraf can't control the Islamist groups operating within his borders, or his control coincides with Western pressure for him to do so, which means that his authority is far more concrete than he advertises. The Pakistanis so far have been remarkably helpful in terms of logistics and the granting of airspace to attack Afghanistan. On the other hand, the real tar baby here is that two of the biggest terrorist acts since 9.11 -- the death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and this attack, not to mention the latest manifestation of the Kashmir conflict -- have something to do with Pakistan. Musharraf appeared back in January ready to make a decisive move away from the fundamentalists with his high-profile speech. At the moment I guess he feels he can balance the increasingly visible terrorism with his own survival.

The Pride and the Fear: Mexico Captures Group G
Today's World Cup commentary kicks off with Mexico's impressive 1-1 tie with the Azurri of Italy. Mexico played 84 minutes of solid soccer, but then allowed a stunning goal by Italy in the 85th. However, with a tie, the Mexicans won Group G and advance to the round of 16. No ties here, as the Aztecs are in the knockout round. Conversely, it's a real bummer to watch the Americans down 2-0 to Poland in Group D. My fellow Americans got blitzed in the 3rd and 5th minutes, and even though they need only a draw to advance, I fear that they may not get even that.

"Cash equalizes."

Thursday, June 13, 2002

ZoNotes: Te Daría Mi Vida...

GOOOOOOOLLLLLL, GOOOOOOOOOOLLLL Mexico ties Italy 1-1, wins Group G with 7 points.

The Broken Talon
Yesterday's crash of an MC-130 near Gardez in Afghanistan is a terrible accident, an unfortunate noncombat loss in a still-unsettled area of the theatre of operations. Initially I believed that the SpecialOps aircraft had been shot down by small-arms fire or man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) operated by Al-Qaeda. At the moment, that does not appear to be the case. Still, given what is coming out about the attempt to attack aircraft coming in and out of our facilities in that country, we should be aware that MANPADS-capable operatives can strike cheaply and are difficult to detect before they fire their weapons.

Houston, We Have a Problem?
What is it with New Yorkers and their disdain for Houston? It can't just be Enron, right? Is it because the Rockets dispatched the Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals? Or that it's in Texas? Well, I just don't know. Now, to be honest, Houston isn't the first Texas city I would live in. It's highways and toll roads are nightmarish even for Beltway-I-95-395-Route 1 hardened little ol' me. However, ZoNoter M. Michael Gallagher (C'00) hails from that fine city, and Uncle Fernando lived there for many, many years. You can make a good living in Houston. In a feat of blogging connectivity, Josh Treviño hooks us up with Owen Courrages' take on the sickening snobbery of the mandarins at the Times.

So yesterday I was busy patting myself on the back for posting Aaron's suggestion that we go and buy some Russian Flankers for our inventory. So I began researching the Web to see if I could rustle up some comparative data between the Flanker and/or the F-14 or the older F-15s in the Air Force. It seems, indeed, that somebody else had the idea a full 5 months before we the educated got the idea cooking in our overheated imaginations. The graphics and pics are excellent. Hell, the Flanker looks more American than some American aircraft.

"Thanks to suburbs, there are places I will never visit but know what they look like anyway."

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Have the links been fixed?
ZoNotes: Desperado, why don't you come to your Senses...

Today's Her Birthday
Happy Birthday to ZoNoter Kathleen Lyon!

Heightening the Contradictions
So Aaron Ammerman (F'00) and I were engaging in a little back-and-forth yesterday about the Air Force's simulator tests that assert that the Russian Su-30 Flanker (the rambunctiously evolved little brother of the Su-27) can beat the F-15 in a straight-up head-to-head one-on-one face-to-face battle. First, take all of this with a grain of salt -- Sum of All Fears not withstanding, we aren't likely to mix it up with Russian pilots anytime soon. Secondly, what is Pentagonese for "save my weapons program (the F-22A Raptor)"? Simple, "the Russians have better ________ (insert tank/howitzer/helicopter/fighter aircraft here)." Indeed, while the Flanker is the best the Russians have produced lately, I still have tremendous faith in our pilot training programs and, indeed, even our aircraft. I, like the South Korean Government , will take the trusty Eagle over the Flanker if offered a choice between the two. The Eagle is not only a superior aircraft on its own merit, it is also a piece in a more coherent system -- include satellite-guided precision munitions, a capable air-to-air suite, excellent technical support, and more reliable delivery schedule. Now, if we want to believe the hype, we can extrapolate the Flanker's impressive air show performances. If the Flanker is indeed a superior aircraft to others in our own inventory, why don't we just buy it ourselves, as Aaron asserted? Plus, I figure there's one glaring spot for "AmeriFlankers" to fill an interim role until the carrier version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter comes online in the next 10 years -- fleet defense to replace the F-14 Tomcat fleet. Lately the Tomcat has bought an extended lease on life with LANTRIN guidance pods, and it performed very well during the deTalibanization phase of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. However, the fleet will eventually age to a point of unsustainability, likely before the entry of the JSF into Navy service. The Flanker is a big, manuverable, aircraft, with a comprehensive weapons suite that includes air superiority and ground attack roles -- precisely the same tasks the F-14 is performing at the moment. The Flanker has a navalized variant, and perhaps we could bundle a nice buy package that includes pilot conversion, weapons, and maintenance. This purchase, let's call it the Interim Fighter Program (IFP), would ease the retirement of a "legacy" weapons system, fill a crucial gap until we get an acceptable mix of F/A-18E Super Hornets and JSFs, and put real hard capital into the "westernization" of Russia. Of course, all of this is a blogger's pipe dream because A) the American defense industry will be embarrassed beyond human belief, B) there's no guarantee that Russia could fill a Flanker order of the magnitude that we are requesting, and C) foreign purchasers will follow our lead and ignore export versions of the Super Hornet, F-16, and the F-15, the latter's K-model already accepted by the Koreans.

Iberian Thunder
When you have a chance, check out this witty Euroblog hosted by John and Antonio, a pair I have never met, but who provides in their most recent posting an excellent breakdown of why France's recently eliminated World Cup team wasn't so bad. The blog also has a brisk and readable account of the colorful machinations of Spain's politcal scene.

Of Ties and Goodbyes: Argentina Has Fallen!
This really has been a dismal year for our hemispheric partners in South America. Argentina's economy suffers an ear-splitting collapse, running through presidents of litle consequence and minimal stature, and then the country's erstwhile dominating soccer team gets booted from the Group of Death, and loses to hated rival England 1-0 in the process. Today's 1-1 tie with Sweden negated the hopes of the Argentines. Oh, and I had to chip this political corollary note into this segment: numerous bloggers and pundits link soccer with leftist governments. Indeed, I disagree completely! Many of the major soccer powers of the world have had traditions of rightist leanings, if not outright dictatorship and/or empire! Consider: Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, France, etc., etc.! Leftist pot-smoking trust fund baby states can't play soccer, they're too limp-wristed! There's an inherently martial, stifling, merciless beauty in watching free-market, low-taxes Ireland stuff the Saudis for 3 goals. There's a swift, effortless, feel of watching Brazil march through hapless opponents like a knife through hot butter. It's a ball watching center-right America make a stand in its drive to reach the second round, using precision-guided goals to usurp Portugal and employing Patriot-missile like goaltending to force a draw with hometown South Korea. For all the "progress" our European counterparts say they've made, they sure can whoop it up, can't they! Sure, some of these countries have moved leftward or settled on a happily pluralistic center built upon democratic principals, but it's weak to dump on World Cup soccer as simply a product of running dog reds.

"Soccer is the continuation of war by other means."

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

ZoNotes: Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive

Vodkapundit discovers the joys of Buffy by picking up one of the season compilations on DVD. Bravo, jolly good show!

Radiologically Challenged
The capture of the Islamist formerly known as Jose Padilla marks a real success for law enforcement officials in their post-9.11 preventive role. Of course, the flipside is that Mr. Padilla may be one of many Al Qaeda operatives lurking in the U.S. The arrest of Mr. Padilla coincides with arrests in Pakistan, giving the impression that Al Qaeda was at least scoping out its options for a "dirty bomb" attack on a major American city. Now while a dirty bomb that released radioactive dust doesn't do the type of physical damage that a "suitcase" tactical nuclear weapon would cause, it actually could have a corrosive effect that rivals a mushroom cloud. Whole areas of Washington could be rendered inaccessible by radioactive dust, and exposure would be fatal. While not as difficult to manufacture as a real nuclear weapon, dirty bombs aren't easy to create, either. Attackers have to figure in wind direction, location, timing, and materials. All of the ingredients are available, but dirty bombs only "work" under the "right" circumstances.

When Pigs Cross Bridges!
News from the Motherland, as Mexican pig farmers staged a brief strike at Laredo's International Bridge IV protesting the Mexican Government's importing of American pork products. Apparently, for all their troubles the farmers actually are going to get an audience with officials of President Vicente Fox's administration in Mexico City. Apparently the farmers don't love President Fox any more than they did previous political leaders.

Total Recall
Wes Gillette (F'00) sent me this piece yesterday highlighting the conversation between a government official and one of the 9.11 plotters. Wes says:
"Reading something like this you can't help but
wonder how much of that
is made up either consiously or unconsiously. For a
conversation that
she had almost 2 yrs ago that she said at the time
was not that
memorable or out of the ordinary, she sure does
remember a lot."

"The enemy imagined eventually becomes the enemy in person."

Monday, June 10, 2002

ZoNotes: Que El Ritmo No Pare

I'm having many many problems formatting the new design. Bear with me.

Sí Se Puede!
Things are looking good for Mexico and the U.S. in the World Cup, with Mexico catapulting to the top of its Group with 2 wins and the U.S. locking up a tie with the South Koreans 1-1 earlier today Daegu, South Korea. Mexico is in good shape in Group G, 2-0 in the first round of the World Cup for the first time ever and a 2-goal differential lead. A BIG match with Italy is coming up this week, as the men in blue jerseys need a win to advance to the 2nd round. The Americans, with a 1-0-1 record in Group D, can move to the next round with a win or tie against Poland.

The Sum of All Plot Twists
Ernesto, Rolando, and I had a really really hard choice to make at the movie theater on Saturday afternoon. Do we embrace our fuzzy wuzzy sides, swallow our pride, and watch Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or do we bear-hug our testosterone-addled inner pig dogs and go watch Ben Affleck save the world in The Sum of All Fears? When all else fails, go with the action flick. Having read the book, I was unhappy with the blatant and abusive plot contortions, where only the very beginning and near-end of the film are true to Tom Clancy's novel. However, as a stand-alone movie, I was impressed with the myriad of intrigue and the gripping action sequences. Apart from the fact that the villains were the politically acceptable neo-Nazis instead of the Arab terrorists hoping to derail the peace process by detonating a nuclear weapon to provoke a then-Soviet/American nuclear catastrophe, I liked the film's pace. The book is a lot more textured, allowing the story to mature over the course of its length, from hopeful Israeli-Arab peace settlement to global conflagration. The movie is a butter & popcorn matinee pleaser. Know your product.

"I'm only going to marry someone who's Catholic, converts to Catholicism, or says "ok, I'm going to be Catholic.""--- Ernesto "Big Dawg" Cortes, 6.8.02