Friday, October 24, 2008

The GOP Hope Chest: Three Possible “October Surprises”

With Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain increasing on an almost daily basis, the GOP is left with “a-wishin’ and a-hopin’” for a so-called October surprise that could upset the likely election outcome in the remaining 11 days.

Authoritative sources in and out of government indicate three possibilities.

1. Killing bin Laden

The upsurge in US attacks on “suspect Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts” inside Pakistan has one overriding objective: Find and kill Osama bin Laden, even if by accident.

At the same time, three independent sources in the intelligence community say that the Army’s super secret Delta Force crosses the Afghan-Pakistani border regularly to search out bin Laden and other high-ranking al Qaeda officials, sometimes following hard intelligence leads and sometimes following rumors and hear-say. In 2001, before the Afghan invasion, at one point Delta Force was within 500 metres of bin Laden, watching him head down a mountain to trucks waiting to take him and his security guard across the border to Pakistan before being ordered by Washington to stand down, according to Kill Bin Laden by Dalton Fury and Col. David Hunt (R).

Given his universally low approval ratings, handing McCain the head of bin Laden is the only thing George Bush can do directly to try helping the Republican ticket.

2. Israel Attacks Iran

This possibility dropped dramatically when Ehud Ohlmert resigned as Israel’s prime minister and leader of the Kadima Party in the wake of a corruption scandal. He remains as PM but heading a caretaker government which, by law, cannot launch any new initiatives.

In widely published reports, Dick Cheney urged Israel to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities. Ohlmert resisted, mostly because the Mossad and his Air Force commanders doubted such a strike would be successful in anything but launching an all-Arab war against Israel. Moreover, Condaleeza Rice intervened with Pres. Bush, thwarting Cheney’s insane idea.

Yet with Iraq threatening to blow up again at any moment – perhaps before the American election – as American-paid Sunni militias become increasing angry with the al-Maliki government the Bush Administration may be looking for a distraction and a US air strike against Iran is not out of the question. But it is doubtful the Pentagon’s service chiefs would go along willingly with such an expansion of the war.

3. Terrorist Attack Inside the US

This does not mean another 9/11-style attack; in fact, no known terrorist organization in the world has the strength or capability right now to launch such a strike.

Rather, national security sources are more interested in monitoring possible attacks against Western or Arab targets inside the United States, perhaps embassy bombing or grabbing foreign diplomats as hostage. One such scenario has terrorists gaining entrance to an embassy using a plant inside the embassy and then threatening to blow up a “suitcase nuke” even though finding the processed uranium either inside the US or smuggling it into the country is extremely unlikely. Nonetheless, the security services would have to take such a threat seriously.

Another scenario puts Arab speaking and looking Mossad agents at the heart of the operation. If elements inside the Israel government are worried about the policy of an Obama administration towards Israel, they are said by intelligence sources in the US to not be above “staging” an attack before Nov. 4 to sway the election to McCain. Sources confirm that both the Mossad and AIPAC are being monitored, along with the usual al Queda channels.

Reality Or Fantasy?

There are other possibilities, perhaps involving North Korea although with Kim Il Jung reportedly very ill the likelihood of an Army adventure are remote. Russia might cause mischief somewhere in what it sees as its area of influence – in former Soviet republics or in the Baltic countries – but Vladimir Putin is no fool. He’s viewed as not wanting to try influencing the American election, especially anything that might elect McCain who the Kremlin views as irrational and unpredictable. China is too involved in trying to avoid the worst of a Western recession to worry much about American politics.

The question is whether an engineered October surprise is reality or fantasy.

Although chances are remote, the bin Laden scenario is seen as having the greatest possibility of happening. The issue is whether bin Laden would cooperate by staying still long enough for either Predator overflights or a Delta Force squad to swoop down and nail him. It is thought that he and his lieutenants have abandoned satellite and even cell phones under the assumption that every call is monitored and pinpointed by the CIA and National Security Agency.

With the days dwindling before the election, time is running out on any sort of October surprise. This doesn’t mean it cannot happen; it just means it becomes increasingly difficult to engineer and pull off successfully.

What Happened To GOP Outrage Over $400 Haircuts?

I suppose when the Republican vice presidential candidate is discovered spending $150,000 on a campaign wardrobe, it’s hard for the GOP to remember being shocked – Shocked, I tell you! – over John Edwards $400 haircut.

It’s even harder to be publicly outraged over the price of haircuts when the party can’t really figure out what it spent Sarah Palin’s wardrobe allowance on. Turns out the numbers don’t add up – and it looks as if somebody is taking the Republicans for a ride.

On Thursday, the New York Times political blog tried tracing the money reported by the GOP on Federal Election Commission filings. For example, the blog reported, the RNC said it spent more than $4,900 on clothes for Doughty Dude Todd Palin at Atelier in Manhattan. Except Atelier carries what The Caucus describes as expensive cut-up T-shirts and tricky suits from avant-garde designers. I haven’t spotted Todd Palin wearing any “tricky suits” as he stands behind his wife at campaign stops. It is possible he is wearing “cut-up T-shirts” underwear but he doesn’t strike me as the type who wears a $400 T-shirt – let alone one that is cut up in advance and not from too much wear – under his Wal-Mart sport coats.

Atelier says the purchase was made by Jeff Larson, a “consultant” to the Republican National Committee who then put in for the expense reimbursement, according to RNC filings. The question is why dies a Republican consultant like Mr. Larson wear “tricky suits” and pre-torn T-shirts? Isn’t this what “elitist celebrities” wear?

Meanwhile, The Young Turks have taken up the Palin wardrobe malfunction.