Tuesday, May 9, 2006

For Puzzle-Solvers

Those readers who enjoy a challenging diversion now and then are invited to go here and see if you can figure out how the gap in the second triangle is created simply by rearranging the parts of the first.

The answer appears in the comments below the diagrams.

Taking Down the Bad Guys

Task Force 145, the special operations outfit assigned to hunt al-Zarqawi and other high value targets, struck over the weekend in Samarra. Bill Roggio has the report:

Over the past month, Task Force 145, the special operations unit designated to hunt Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other high value al-Qaeda targets, has dismantled al-Qaeda cells in the cities of Yusifiyah and Balad. It appears Task Force 145 has struck at two more al-Qaeda cells and killed a senior member of Ansar al-Islam over the weekend. On Friday, two al-Qaeda cells were dismantled near the city of Samarra.

On Saturday, [the task force arrested or killed] Ali Wali (a.k.a. Abbas bin Farnas bin Qafqa) who is described as "Ansar al-Islam's military command responsible for training and military operations including the planning of suicide operations, ambushes and kidnappings... an expert in the implementation of explosives as well as in the use of artillery, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons... and allegedly was an expert in toxins and poisons."

Here is how CENTCOM describes the action in their press release:

As the troops moved to intercept a vehicle occupied by three suspected al-Qaida associates, the assault force simultaneously took small arms fire from a nearby house. While the troops positioned to stop the car, armed men exited the house, two carrying shoulder-fired rocket launchers and one firing a light machine gun. The forces quickly neutralized the threat emanating from the structure, located approximately 20 kilometers southwest of Samarra, with small arms and rockets fired from supporting aircraft. The troops then detained the three suspects located in the vehicle, finding two AK-47s, ammunition, two improvised grenades and one hand grenade. The forces were then provided another location of a second, related vehicle occupied by suspected al-Qaida associates; two more detainees were taken after the troops stopped the vehicle approximately 15 kilometers east of the first intercepted automobile. Troops later searched the safe house discovering mortar rounds and grenades. One of the five suspects detained is believed to be a senior al-Qaida associate. All are currently being questioned for their level and involvement in terrorist activity.

Roggio goes on to tell us that:

In related news, another "High-ranking leader of terrorist organization Al Qaeda" was arrested in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. Abdel Fatih Isa (a.k.a. Abu Aisha) is described as "the chief organizers of terrorist acts in capital Baghdad. According to military sources Abu Aisha was an officer from the Iraqi army during Saddam Hussein's rule..." The myth that secular Baathist and radical Islamists would never collaborate should be sufficiently shattered at this point.

Karbala and Baghdad have been targeted by suicide bombers over the past day, killing upwards of thirty Iraqis. The arrest of Abu Aisha may have spurred the attacks, as he can now compromise his network while under interrogation. His network is aware he is missing, and now are forced to "use it or lose it" as Task Force 145 is likely on the hunt.

The MSM always portrays a flurry of bombings as an indicator of the insurgency's continued vigor when in fact it may be a sign of waning capabilities due to the attrition of their leaders and material assets. To see what a difficult situation al-Qaeda has gotten itself into in Iraq read Ed Morrissey's analysis of a captured document penned by an al-Qaeda source and just released by CENTCOM.

The Democrats say we're losing in Iraq. By "losing" they evidently mean that we're winning more slowly than they think we should.

GOP Dithers at its Peril

John Fund at Opinion Journal lays out some of the reasons why Republicans are in trouble in 2006 and may lose their majority in the House of Representatives. If they do, they have nobody to blame but themselves:

Ken Mehlman is the unflappable efficiency expert who chairs the Republican National Committee. Because he's not known for histrionics, his warning last week to GOP congressional staffers about this November's elections caused many on Capitol Hill to bolt upright.

Mr. Mehlman traveled to Capitol Hill to warn the staffers that they risked a disaster at the polls if they didn't pass meaningful legislation the conservative base cares about. Other GOP strategists go even further. "If the election were held today, I'd say the odds are 90% that we'd lose the House," says GOP consultant Mike Murphy.

Other Republicans aren't as gloomy, but they warn the GOP Congress has to act on a range of issues soon. Some polls show public disapproval of the GOP among conservatives reaching dangerously high levels. A new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that only 66% of Republicans now approve of President Bush's performance. A new Associated Press/Public Affairs poll found 45% of self-identified conservatives disapprove of Mr. Bush's job as president, and 65% disapprove of the GOP Congress.

Republicans are notorious for going into a prevent defense as soon as they get the lead. Once they captured the majority they simply stopped governing and settled for not losing. They ceased trying to institute conservative reforms in spending and immigration, especially, grovelled whenever the Democrats threatened to resist what initiatives they did come up with, and waxed apologetic whenever the Democrats accused them of being meanies. If in November the voters spank them for their indolence and timidity they will have deserved it.

One bright spot is that the Democrats have offered absolutely nothing to the voters except the assurance that they're not Republicans and the tacit promise that if they regain the House Bush will be impeached. As bad as the Republicans are the Democrats are much worse.

While the world is spinning out of control, the country is running serious deficits, our borders are wide open to anyone who wants to cross, the Republicans sit on their hands, and the Democrats seek revenge for the Clinton embarrassments. Makes you wonder why we send these people our taxes every year.