« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 1, 2004

Muslim Cooperation in the UK

Two stories from the London Telegraph show how the war on terror has divided the Muslim community -- and how imams and other leaders of Islam continue to demonstrate their disloyalty to their nation and their insistence that the only law worthy of recognition is Islam. The first article looks at the reaction of the families of the eight Muslims arrested in the UK after months of surveillance, netting a half-ton of explosives and preventing a large-scale terrorist attack: Britain's most prominent Muslim leader last night demanded a crackdown on "rogue" Islamic preachers, blaming them for brainwashing young men with sermons promoting holy war against the West. Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was backed by the families of some of the eight men arrested in Tuesday's anti-terrorism raids in south-east England. ... People such as Omar Bakri Mohammed, the leader of Al-Muhajiroun, which campaigns for...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Iran Still Playing Games: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that despite Iranian claims of full cooperation with IAEA inspectors, Iran has continued to interfere with the inspections and block the investigations into its nuclear program: An internal report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency challenges Iran's contention that it has provided international inspectors with free access to workshops where it has manufactured parts for centrifuges. The document contradicts Iranian assurances this month that it had allowed inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, unrestricted access to the sites during inspections in January. "The agency's visit was 'managed' by the Iranians in the sense that the inspectors were not permitted to take pictures with IAEA cameras or use their own electronic equipment," said the document, which was first reported by Reuters and obtained Wednesday by The Times. The last time that the IAEA or the UN issued a critical report on...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Brother, Can You Spare a Kidney?

I have another First Mate update, and unfortunately this time the news is not so good. The friend who had generously volunteered to donate a kidney has received notice that her medical tests show she will be unable to do so. Her own kidney function falls below the thresholds needed to qualify as a donor. She had no idea that there was any problem, and it's not a serious issue for her; in fact, she probably won't require any treatment. I didn't realize how much I was counting on this transplant emotionally until I got this call on Tuesday. The First Mate had spent all day Monday at the hospital getting an angiogram done -- which came back okay -- and we knew our friend had been at the transplant center at the same time, working on her own evaluation. Up until that time, whenever my wife had felt poorly...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Iraqi Scientist: I Saw the WMDs

The Australian newspaper, The Age, features an interview with a scientist formerly in Saddam's employ who insists that Iraq maintained stockpiles of WMDs, at least until he was arrested and almost executed in 1998 (via Drudge): For seven years, before he was tortured and sentenced to death, Rashid (not his real name) worked at the top of Iraq's scientific establishment. He says he regularly met Saddam Hussein and his cousin and strongman deputy prime minister Abdul Tawab Huweish. After the Gulf War he was put in charge of a taskforce code named "Al Babel" to develop stealth technology to make aircraft and missiles undetectable on radar. Rashid, who now lives in Melbourne, also claims to have had access as a trusted insider to secret underground bunkers where chemical weapons were stored. "Saddam gave me access to everything, he was so desperate to perfect the stealth technology," he says. Now Rashid's...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Economy Still Steaming Forward

Two stories in today's USA Today demonstrate the strength of the economic expansion. Manufacturing, which the Democrats have used to beat George Bush over the head, turns out to be expanding even faster than the overall economy: The Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index registered 62.5 in March compared with 61.4 in February. The new reading beat the expectations of most analysts, who had forecast a figure of 59.5. ... It was the 10th consecutive month of expansion in the sector, which makes up less than a fifth of the U.S. economy. The ISM said its monthly employment index climbed to 57.0 versus February's 56.3. February's reading was its highest level since December 1987 [emph mine]. The ISM measures 20 manufacturing industries and reports expansion in all twenty. That may account for the dropping numbers of jobless claims, which indicate that companies have stopped trimming payrolls in the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

I Get E-Mails ...

First off, I love running this blog. Although it takes a lot of effort to maintain, Captain's Quarters has allowed me to interact with some terrific people throughout the political spectrum -- and I find that the regular readers of this blog are almost intimidating in their intelligence. Friends and family ask whether I'm preaching to the converts, but I have been challenged many times on my positions, which just makes me better at defending my positions or, as happens on occasions, rethink those positions entirely. Some of you bypass the comments and e-mail me directly, which is fun to read. Lately, I have been receiving suggestions for posts, which is new for me. I do read each of them, even if I don't respond, so feel free to keep sending them to me. If you don't see a post, it's just because I either have decided to focus on...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Boston Globe Minimizes Assassination Plot

Today's Boston Globe manages to surpass other American broadsheets in covering John Kerry's association with the Phoenix Project, the assassination plot cooked up by Scott Camil and debated at the November 1971 meeting of the VVAW, where Kerry was present as one of the organization's leaders. However, as reader Pat Curley notes, the Globe tries its best to minimize the seriousness of the plot in order to limit the damage to the home-town candidate: Senator John F. Kerry said through a spokesman this week that he has no recollection of attending a November 1971 meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War at which some activists discussed a plot to kill some US senators who backed the war. Quite frankly, although Pat feels that the Globe didn't bury the lede, this is one of the weakest lead paragraphs I've read on a major news story (as opposed to human-interest stories, which...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

SuperBloggers Congregate at the Lord High Commissioner's Office

If you weren't listening to the Hugh Hewitt radio show -- or if you're allergic to "Going Up The Country" by Canned Heat -- you missed a terrific hour and a half, where Hugh interviewed Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, James Lileks, and Roger L. Simon, all of which can be found on my blogroll as well. Great discussion and phone calls, and Hugh was kind enough to mention an e-mail I sent in. DC from Brainstorming called in and did a great job. If you missed it, check out the replay at the KRLA website, and find out the top five blogreads of these blogosphere leaders......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 2, 2004

NYT: Shocked at Hollywood Politics?

Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times watches very little television in his role as entertainment critic -- or else he wouldn't have written such a pandering, naive article as today's report on the shocking development that Hollywood has 'suddenly' started injecting partisan politics into its TV shows: Galvanized politically in ways they have not been since the early 1990's, Hollywood's more liberal producers and writers are increasingly expressing their displeasure with President Bush with not only their wallets, but also their scripts. In recent weeks, characters in prime time have progressed beyond the typical Hollywood knocks against Washington politicians to calling out the president directly or questioning his policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, the support of the antiterrorism law and the backing of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Translation: Having a Republican in the White House galvanizes Hollywood activists to get partisan...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Michael Moore: The Jerry Lewis of Germany?

The Boston Globe informs us this morning of a disturbing phenomenon in Germanny: the balooning of Michael Moore's popularity. In an article today about a visit made by Colin Powell to a group of high-school students, Glenn Kessler provides background on the source of German anti-Americanism: When you want to send a message to a nation that gobbles up the anti-Bush ideas of Michael Moore, whom do you call to deliver it? Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, of course. ... Most were two or three years old when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989; their parents had grown up under communism. Many told reporters they detested President Bush, and several said they learned a lot about foreign policy by reading Moore's books. Even those who hadn't said one of the school's music teachers manages to talk at length about Moore's condemnations of the Bush administration while kids are tuning...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Yesterday Was What?

As you may have noticed, I played an April Fools joke on you all yesterday ...er, by not playing one. Ha ha! Bet I had you all fooled, right? Okay. However, if I had played one, maybe it would have been like this post at Fraters Libertas. The Elder thought through what a number of bloggers should have done to celebrate yesterday -- and none of us did. Thank goodness for The Elder. But Glenn, if you're reading this ... it's all lies. I swear....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Job Growth Soars in March

Job growth may finally be catching up to the roaring economy, as 308,000 jobs were added in March: U.S. payrolls grew at the fastest pace in nearly four years in March, the government said Friday, in a report that soared past Wall Street's expectations and could play a pivotal role in Fed policy and the presidential election. ... Payrolls outside the farm sector grew by 308,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department reported, compared with a revised gain of 46,000 in February. When these numbers were released, stock prices jumped and the bond market dropped, indicating that Wall Street was surprised at the strength of the new job creation. It's hard to understand why. Capital investment jumped upward the past few months, indicating that businesses were gearing up for higher production that would require higher employment. Now that the economic recovery is an undisputable fact and job growth seems to...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Slate: Cleland Poster Boy for Victimization

Michael Crowley, the assistant editor for the New Republic, writes today in Slate about one of the sacred icons of the 2004 Democratic Party, former Senator Max Cleland. Kerry has used Cleland as an example of how eeeeeeevil Republicans get when they're on the campaign trail, but Crowley questions the basis of the Dems' almost religious belief in Cleland's victimization: Cleland's image as Bush's ultimate victim suits Kerry's campaign all too well. There are no bold new ideas in the Democratic Party today, no coherent policy themes. Even Kerry's supporters are hard-pressed to explain what he stands for. What does define and unify the party is a sense of victimhoodand a lust for revenge. ... Bush and Chambliss hammered at the fact that Cleland was voting with Senate Democrats against Bush's proposed Homeland Security Department because of its infamous provision limiting union rights. The message was that Cleland was kowtowing...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 3, 2004

Nader: The Magical Mystery Tour Is Dying to Get Off The Ground

The Washington Post profiles Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate-cum-presidential wannabe, who's busy trying to get himself on the ballot around the country. As Brian Faler notes, Nader isn't helping himself with his go-it-alone strategy: Nader's task would be easier if he accepted the presidential nomination of one of the minor parties that already have spaces reserved on some states' ballots. Some members of the Green Party, which has yet to choose its presidential candidate, want to support Nader. The Green Party nomination would give access to ballots in 23 states, thanks to the party's performance in previous elections. The Reform Party, founded by Texas billionaire Ross Perot, has offered Nader its top spot, along with its seven ballot spots. The Natural Law Party is also considering giving him its nomination and 12 ballot lines, according to John Hegelin, the group's former presidential candidate. But Zeese said Nader will not accept...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Is Germany Awakening From Its Socialist Coma?

The London Telegraph profiles a new German book that is flying off the shelves in Berlin and around the country, arguing that Germany may be in a fatal economic decline. The book, Germany: Decline of a Superstar, points out the crippling effect the nanny state has had not only on German productivity but also on its inventiveness and its self-sufficiency: The book argues with a brutal frankness that Germany needs to be completely restructured and that it has been poorly run since 1945. The result, according to Mr Steingart, is a country where industry is on its knees, where the welfare state is deep in debt, whose inventive minds have been forced into exile, and whose citizens largely hate work. ... "It is simply not profitable or viable to have German workers, who cost considerably more than they produce," Mr Steingart says. "Our productive core is melting away and Germany...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry Didn't Always Master the Rope Line

Today's New York Times runs a puff piece -- typical weekend fare -- on John Kerry, this time on his supposed skills as a flesh-presser on the campaign trail: Mr. Kerry, the all-but-nominated Democratic presidential candidate, has been criticized throughout his career for an aloof, inaccessible style on the stump, and his stemwinders are a constant worry for supporters of his White House bid. Yet he is proving adept at the more intimate political ritual of the rope line: the inevitable postspeech meet-and-greet over a rope placed as a security measure to keep the crowd from the candidate. It is a daily dance that has become a central, even dominant element of his schedule. In fact, he sometimes spends more time in that kind of chitchat than in delivering substantive speeches. Jodi Wilgoren doesn't mention Kerry's most well-known rope-line moment from this campaign season, however (link to my post here):...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Northern Alliance Radio On the Air Today!

It's Saturday, so it's time for another installment of the Northern Alliance Radio Network. Unfortunately, I won't be there today -- I have a prior commitment at an Irish-language workshop. (I've got to post on that later on ...) The rest of the gang will be there, reviewing the week's news stories, interviewing important guests, and dissecting the local media. Be sure to tune in if you're in the area....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

BBC: Spanish Suspect Islamists in Rail Bomb

While I initially held off on commenting on the Spanish rail bombs discovered this week, it's becoming more apparent -- at least to the Spanish -- that radical Islamofascists have targeted Spain despite their appeasement: The explosives found on a high-speed rail track on Friday were of the same type and brand used in the Madrid train blasts, Spain has confirmed. But Spanish Interior Minister Angel Acebes said it was still too soon to draw any conclusions about who planted the unexploded device. ... Several newspapers reported on Saturday that the Spanish embassy in Egypt had recently received a letter signed by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades threatening to attack Spanish embassies and Spanish interests in north Africa and the southern and eastern Mediterranean region. The letter warned that the attacks would go ahead unless Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within four weeks, El Mundo reported. ......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Sex Being Marked Down for Clearance

In a rebuttal to the adage "sex sells,", the London Telegraph reports on a new study that demonstrates a lower box-office return on films that have explicit sexuality: A new study has found that films containing explicit sex or nudity do much worse at the box office, earning nearly 40 per cent less on average than more wholesome movies. An analysis of 1,120 cinematic releases over the past four years has shown that films without sex scenes, such as Disney's Finding Nemo or Toy Story 2, earned an average of $41.1 million (22.3 million), while films with sex have grossed 38 per cent less with an average of $16.7 million. In 2003, the final year of the study, the gap was even wider, with films without sex earning more than double those with explicit scenes. Hollywood has long been concerned with a gradual decline in box-office sales, and this may...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

European Parliamentarians Committing Fraud: MEP

The UK Independent reports that a Member of the European Parliament has secretly been tracking the attendance and participation of other MEPs, and has discovered that many of them falsify their records in order to collect the large per-diem fees paid when the EP is in session: A senior member of the European parliament yesterday exposed what he claimed was widespread corruption at the Strasbourg assembly by revealing that nearly 200 of his fellow Euro MPs had faked attendance at parliamentary sessions in order to pick up generous daily allowances. Hans-Peter Martin, an Austrian Social Democrat MEP, said he had seen scores of colleagues signing on for parliamentary sessions which they had missed, to claim a daily attendance allowance of 262 (175). "I have witnessed almost 200 MEPs hurrying to the central register to sign on for a session and then watched them drive to the nearest airport or station,"...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 4, 2004

Guardian: Bush, Blair Agreed on Iraq War 9/20/01

Tomorrow's UK Guardian/Observer reports that George Bush and Tony Blair reached a personal accord nine days after 9/11 to go to war in Iraq, in a story that's bound to have electoral impact on both sides of the Atlantic: According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy. It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Pincus Spins

Walter Pincus puts on a ballet of spin in today's Washington Post, as he tries to wrap readers around the inherent contradictions in his analysis that a degraded al-Qaeda, an ineffectual Osama bin Laden, and the replacement of terrorist leadership with less-capable candidates is somehow bad news: The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has accelerated the spread of Osama bin Laden's anti-Americanism among once local Islamic militant movements, increasing danger to the United States as the al Qaeda network is becoming less able to mount attacks, according to senior intelligence officials at the CIA and State Department. At the same time, the Sunni Triangle has become a training ground for foreign Islamic jihadists who are slipping into Iraq to join former Saddam Hussein loyalists to test themselves against U.S. and coalition forces, these officials say. Translation: the attacks on al-Qaeda and their state sponsorship has made them increasingly unable to mount...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 5, 2004

Dodgers Land Bradley, Hope He's Not Sheffield

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have underachieved for several years and haven't won a playoff game since Orel Hershiser beat the A's in 1988, finally pulled the trigger on a major trade for a big-time hitter ... but somehow this sounds familiar: If all goes well, Milton Bradley will be that long-awaited impact hitter, stirring a dormant Dodger offense to life and displaying his supreme talent for the hometown fans. If not, he'll be the guy who displaced an entire outfield on the eve of the season opener, a volatile personality injected into the clubhouse of a manager whose contract expires at the end of the season. New owner Frank McCourt promised a big bat before the season started, and new General Manager Paul DePodesta delivered with 24 hours to spare, but only after the Cleveland Indians basically fired Bradley for misbehavior. The Dodgers gambled on him Sunday, trading their...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry Flip-Flops on Education Reform

Who wrote these words about education reform? "It bothers me," the reformer wrote, "that some Democrats have resisted the idea of making educational outcomes the skills and knowledge our kids obtain from the educational system as important as educational inputs the adequate funding, the good facilities and the higher teacher pay we all want." The answer? John Kerry, in his campaign book he published just last year. However, Kerry the Candidate has reversed course and now campaigns against No Child Left Behind because of its "punitive" provisions for schools that fail to raise educational outcomes. However, the Los Angeles Times' Ronald Brownstein -- who usually acts as a reliable spin doctor for the Democrats -- unspins Kerry on this issue: After voting for President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, Kerry, during his race to the nomination, joined the mob of Democrats condemning the education...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Myth of Decompensation

Normally I don't even bother to read Bob Herbert in the New York Times' op-ed section, as he routinely bases his screeds on half-truths or sometimes flat-out lies, which the NYT rarely if ever corrects. However, this morning I had the misfortune of popping it up accidentally and reminding myself why I avoid him. Today's fractured fairy tale involves the recent gains in productivity and Herbert's assertion that employers are screwing labor in tandem: American workers have been remarkably productive in recent years, but they are getting fewer and fewer of the benefits of this increased productivity. While the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, has been strong for some time now, ordinary workers have gotten little more than the back of the hand from employers who have pocketed an unprecedented share of the cash from this burst of economic growth. ... Andrew Sum, the center's director and...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

An Teanga Beo -- The Living Tongue

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I spent Saturday in an Irish-language workshop, and it occurred to me that some of you (okay, all four of you) may be scratching your heads and wondering what the heck I was talking about. I don't believe many people know that Irish Gaelic, known as Gaeilge (GWAYL-gyuh), is in fact a living language spoken fluently by at least 100,000 people in Ireland alone, with a million more who have a lesser command of it. Gaeilge has a rich history, both spoken and literary, stretching far past English; it has existed for at least 2,500 years, and is the oldest surviving language of Western Europe. To give you an example, here's the Nicene Creed in Irish, as printed in a missalette I purchased at the workshop: Creidim in aon Dia amhin, an tAthair uilechumhachtach, a rinne neamh agus talamh agus an uile...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Voice of Reason

Up to now, I have studiously avoided the Kos controversy for a number of reasons. One, I thought that other bloggers already had a good handle on the situation, and I didn't think that a me-tooism would be much of an addition. For another, I wanted to see how the situation developed before writing about it. Lastly, and most importantly, I have a friend working for a security contractor in Iraq and didn't think I could write dispassionately enough about my reaction to Kos' post. For the three of you in the blogosphere who haven't heard, Markos Zuniga -- the blogger who runs the phenomenally successful left-wing blog, The Daily Kos -- posted his reaction to the horrific deaths and disgusting aftermath of four Blackwater Security contractors in Falluja last week. Scorning the men as mercenaries, Kos said: "Screw them." He figured they got what they deserved. The blogosphere blew...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 6, 2004

Sami al-Arian: Snitch for Feds?

The case against former professor Sami al-Arian turned a bit more strange yesterday when the US government revealed in a court motion that al-Arian had briefly worked as an FBI informant: Federal prosecutors say a former professor accused of financing terrorism was briefly an FBI informant, according to court documents. The disclosure came in the government's response to efforts by lawyers for Sami Al-Arian to obtain the taped conversations the former University of South Florida professor had with congressmen and top aides in the Bush and Clinton administrations. His status as an informant, apparently confirmed by both sides now in these court motions, raises some uncomfortable questions for the FBI and some government officials. First, Congress will want to know why the FBI felt it necessary to tape conversations between their members and al-Arian. Did the FBI suspect one or more of them of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations? Next,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Washington Times: No Mention of AQ in Clinton Wrap-Up

The Washington Times has unearthed the final national security report from the Clinton administration to Congress, written in December 2000, and has discovered that it never mentions al-Qaeda and only mentions Osama bin Laden four times (via Drudge): The final policy paper on national security that President Clinton submitted to Congress 45,000 words long makes no mention of al Qaeda and refers to Osama bin Laden by name just four times. The scarce references to bin Laden and his terror network undercut claims by former White House terrorism analyst Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered al Qaeda an "urgent" threat, while President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, "ignored" it. The Clinton document, titled "A National Security Strategy for a Global Age," is dated December 2000 and is the final official assessment of national security policy and strategy by the Clinton team. The document is publicly...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Clinton Report: Identifying the Threats

During the day today, I will be reviewing the national-security report that the outgoing Clinton administration submitted to Congress in December 2000, when certain members of his team claim that they handed the incoming Bush administration a comprehensive strategy to deal with terrorism. In fact, their report belies the notion that anyone took al-Qaeda as a specific threat, and it demonstrates that they focused on state-on-state threats much more seriously -- as could reasonably be expected, under the circumstances. For instance, in the first section of the report, under the subheading Responding to Threats and Crises, the report addresses the major themes of international threats against the United States, and its first statement regards unfriendly states: The persistence of major interstate conflict has required us to maintain the means for countering potential regional aggressors. Long-standing tensions and territorial division on the Korean peninsula and territorial ambitions in the Persian Gulf...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Clinton Report: Pre-emption and Reorganization?

Before the 9/11 Commission questioned Richard Clarke, who as the terrorism "czar" of the Clinton administration prepared this national-security report to Congress, opposition to George Bush from both former members of the prior administration and some members of Congress focused on Bush's strategy of pre-emption -- stopping threats militarily before they became "imminent". Vast amount of energy and debate has gone into whether Bush declared Iraq an imminent threat explicitly (he didn't) or implicitly. Based on this, Bush's opponents have declared the military action in Iraq a violation of international law. However, this report to Congress clearly indicated that the previous administration felt differently. For instance, under the subheading Preparing for an Uncertain Future, the administration made the following suggestions: In addition, preventative diplomacy, often undergirded by the deterrence of our full military capabilities, may help contain or resolve problems before they erupt into crises or contingency operations. You can...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Clinton Report: Protecting the Homeland

Another interesting subsection of Part 2 of the Clinton national-security report is titled Protecting the Homeland. Remember when George Bush was criticized for using the term "homeland" in national security planning? Pundits associated the word with Nazi Germany and claimed that it promoted a "sacred earth" notion that went against everything that American principles represented. Apparently, we know now where that term originated. Under that heading, the report details the strategy for protecting US territory in this order: 1. National Missile Defense 2. Countering Foreign Intelligence Collection 3. Combating Terrorism 4. Domestic Preparedness Against WMDs 5. Critical Infrastructure Protection 6. National Security Emergency Preparedness 7. Fighting Drug Trafficking and Other Int'l Crime Again, national missile defense appears to be the primary concern of the Clinton administration's national-security strategy, while terrorism is addressed third, after NMD and foreign espionage. In fact, it was Bill Clinton who made it our national policy...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Clinton Report: Regional Priorities

Section 3 of the national-security report submitted to Congress in December 2000 deals with regional issues and strategies for confronting them individually as well as integrating approaches across regions. Interestingly, for an administration that Richard Clarke said was focused on al-Qaeda as the greatest threat to American security, the report leaves the two regions most closely associated with Islamofascist terror to last. The structure of Section 3 is shown in the table of contents: Europe and Eurasia East Asia and the Pacific The Western Hemisphere Middle East, North Africa, Southwest and South Asia Sub-Saharan Africa The first topic takes up over a third of Section 3 and covers a number of different state-on-state or ethnic-centered conflicts, mostly in Southeastern Europe, and reviews the Balkans in depth. After talking about the primary goal of the European strategy was to accomplish the complete integration of Europe into a democratic organization of nations,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Clinton Report: Its Conclusions and Mine

Perhaps the most striking feature of the December 2000 national-security report's conclusion is its banality. It starts out by mouthing platitudes about how the world holds the US in high regard, relying on us as a "catalyst of coalitions" -- as if forming coalitions alone have any merit without an indication as to whether they contribute to success, or mire us in paralysis of endless debate and resolution issuance. Nothing specific about terrorism or even missile defence or any other strategic policy discussed in the report makes it into the conclusion. Instead, it closes with a recommendation to remain engaged globally and a warning to avoid our isolationist impulses, for our own good as well as that of the world. It makes an oddly bureaucratic, bland ending to what actually is an interesting and well-written report. The report represents Clinton foreign-policy objectives fairly well -- and that's why this report...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Captain's Caption Contest #5!

It's that time again, and now we have a song to go along with our weekly Caption Contests: If you're going to I - da - ho, Be sure to show A flower in the snow ... Lame? You bet! That's why I need you to make up a better caption than this one. Put the winning caption to this Flower Power Kerry photo and win the respect and envy of your peers in the blogosphere. The contest will be open until Tuesday at 6 PM CT, when the winning entries will be hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar and placed on Funk & Wagnall's doorstep ... or something like that. Remember, the only losers are the ones that don't get submitted! BUMP 4/3: Hey, it's the Birthday Bump! I'm 41 today. How's that for a nice, round number? ... BUMP 4/4: Today will probably be a light posting day,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 7, 2004

Jeb Paints Himself Gray

Florida Governor Jeb Bush may need new glasses. Apparently, when he read about former California Governor Gray Davis' decision to approve a bill authorizing illegal immigrants to receive state drivers' licenses, Jeb must have thought that made Gray more popular with his constituents: Gov. Jeb Bush endorsed a bill on Monday to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. Under the bill, illegal immigrants seeking licenses would be fingerprinted and required to show identification like an employee card, said Senator Rudolfo Garcia Jr., a Hialeah Republican and a sponsor of the bill. The brief article goes on to assure people that illegals would have to also prove they own or lease a car, and get a background check from their consulate proving that they have no criminal record -- even though their status in Florida gives them a de facto criminal status. Anyway, if they could do all that, why...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

NYT: Sadr's Forces Bring Knives To a Gunfight

Thanks to some rather unfortunate circumstances, a New York Times reporter and photographer got an unplanned up-close-and-personal look at Moktada al-Sadr's militia, which has started an insurrection challenging American and Iraqi authority in Kufa. The quality of military discipline left journalist John Burns a bit shy of impressed: If Moktada al-Sadr has chosen a grand mosque in this Euphrates River town for a last stand against American troops, as many of his militiamen have claimed in recent days, he appears to be relying more on the will of God than anything like military discipline to protect him. Many hundreds of militiamen in the black outfits of Mr. Sadr's Mahdi Army were visible on Tuesday on roads approaching the golden-domed mosque and inside the sprawling compound leading to the inner sanctuary. But they seemed unmarshaled, at least to the layman's eye more milling about than militant. Burns and his photographer...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

And You Thought US Schools Were Tough

The London Telegraph reports on two teachers who have been given pensions due to abuse they suffered at the hands of their elementary-school students and, in one case, the parents: Jo Redmond, a mother of five children, said she struggled on for as long as she could "as a matter of professional pride" despite being spat on, kicked, punched and cut by a makeshift weapon of glass strapped to two pencils. Mrs Redmond, 51, said she was "devastated" to be forced to give up her job through ill health after being diagnosed as suffering from psychological as well as physical injury which had destroyed her confidence. Redmond finally left her job after being hit in the face with a carton of orange juice and losing a tooth, being spat and urinated on, and getting hit with a fire extinguisher, breaking her wrist. Another man left teaching for much the same...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

9/11 Commission "Reconsidering" Clarke Testimony: Washington Times

Thanks to the Washington Times' publication of the national-security report submitted to Congress in December 2000 by the Clinton administration, the Times reports that the 9/11 Commission will be "reconsidering" testimony from former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, whose claim that al-Qaeda was the previous administration's top focus was undercut by the report's anemic approach to terror (via Power Line): The September 11 commission will look at the discrepancy between the testimony of Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered the threat of al Qaeda "urgent" and its final national-security report to Congress, which gave the terror organization scant mention. Al Felzenberg, spokesman for the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, said commission members are familiar with an article in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times, which showed that President Clinton's final public document on national security never referred to al Qaeda by name and mentioned Osama...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Captain's Caption Contest Winners!

Once again, we have picked the winners of the Captain's Caption Contest, and once again, it was a lot tougher than Kerry looks with his little flower ornamentation: Here then are the most notable posts. Just remember, there are no losers -- heck, even Kerry looks happy! However, I suppose looks can be deceiving, as a number of you picked a similar theme for your entries ... Captain's Award -- Ted: And after the sunuvabitch knocked me down I took the flower away as revenge, and hung it from my belt like a scalp! Meanest girl scout I've ever seen... You Have the Conn, You SOB #1 -- Flipper: So then that son-of-a-bitch Dean pushed me out of the plane, right over San Francisco! On the bright side, I think I earned a few votes while I was there. You Have the Conn, You SOB #2 -- Pat Curley: Daisy?...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry: Terrorists Have "Legitimate Voice"

John Kerry continues his quest towards self-destruction today in an NPR interview this morning, as he described a radical Islamist currently attacking American troops in Iraq as a "legitimate voice" who shouldn't necessarily be arrested if encountered: In an interview broadcast Wednesday morning, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry defended terrorist Shiite imam Moqtada al-Sadr as a "legitimate voice" in Iraq, despite that fact that he's led an uprising that has killed nearly 20 American GIs in the last two days. Speaking of al-Sadr's newspaper, which was shut down by coalition forces last week after it urged violence against U.S. troops, Kerry complained to National Public Radio, "They shut a newspaper that belongs to a legitimate voice in Iraq." Never mind that this "legitimate voice" used that newspaper to call for an armed revolt against the Coalition and the Iraqi provisional government. John Kerry isn't concerned with that. John Kerry sounds...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 8, 2004

The Folly of "Peacekeepers"

Over the past twenty years or so, we have seen the emergence of a new philosophy of military deployment called "peacekeeping". The theory is that if you can negotiate a cessation of open hostilities, you can inject soldiers from a third party or outside coalition to keep people separated long enough to reach a peaceful accommodation. This notion sprngs from a serious misreading of the military standoffs in Korea and Cold War Europe, and in almost every instance it's been used, it has led to either disaster or quagmire. Governments that send troops to be "peacekeepers" inevitably sell this idea to their constituencies like this: Coalition governments could tell their nervous publics that the troops were in Iraq on humanitarian missions repairing roads, digging wells, providing security and generally helping a shattered people recover from decades of war and tyranny. ... Japan's government sold the mission to a skeptical...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Not One Dollar to Arafat

You have to admire the chutzpah of the Palestinians. After killing three of our envoys in Gaza last year and chanting "Death to America" on any occasion they can find, they turn around and hit us up for cash: The Palestinians expect a large aid package from the United States and other donor countries to help rebuild the Gaza Strip after an Israeli withdrawal, the Palestinian foreign minister said Thursday. ... In the event of a Gaza withdrawal, "the Americans should be ready with the World Bank and other donors to make massive economic support for the Palestinian Authority," Shaath said in interview with Israel Radio. He did not give a sum. The Palestinians, already heavily dependent on international aid, are hoping for more money to help rebuild an economy shattered in more than three years of fighting with Israel. Shaath said the funds were needed for "relief, reconstruction, economic...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Power Line Live-Blogging Rice Testimony

My colleague Hindrocket at Power Line will be live-blogging today's Condoleezza Rice testimony before the 9/11 Commission. I'll be listening but unable to blog until lunchtime (since I do have to work). Be sure to keep up with Rocket Man's excellent commentary as the news unfolds, both for his opinion and his ability to put it into the broader context. (Updated with proper link)...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Rice's 9/11 Testimony

I just finished listening to Dr. Condi Rice's testimony to the 9/11 Commission -- as much as I could catch at my office -- and I'm equal parts disappointed and ticked off. First, I can't tell you how irritating it is to have a live audience at these hearings, and even over the radio you could tell which commissioner was playing to them -- Richard Ben-Veniste. This shouldn't be the forum for one-liners and zingers, but certain members of this commission have decided that it's suddenly appropriate to deliver them, along with long speeches, to witnesses. Further, the questioning seemed to go far afield when former Senator Bob Kerrey started his "questioning" by blasting the military strategy being used currently in Iraq. What?? When did the 9/11 Commission suddenly become the Joint Armed Services Committee? It was a political cheap shot, in a morning full of them, all designed (despite...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

What's Next, Shooting Santa?

From time to time, a story comes across the wire that makes one wonder if humans can survive without cerebrums. By all evidence, it's not only theoretically possible, but occasionally can be verified. For instance, the people in charge of the Easter celebration at Glassport Assembly of God in Glassport, PA, either provide living proof of this theory or try very hard to avoid thinking things all the way through: A church trying to teach about the crucifixion of Jesus performed an Easter show with actors whipping the Easter bunny and breaking eggs, upsetting several parents and young children. People who attended Saturday's performance at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, "There is no Easter bunny," and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified. I don't know to which orientation or denomination the Glassport church belongs; some fundamentalist churches feel strongly about traditions such...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 9, 2004

Strangest Damn Sports Columnist, Period

As some of you know, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been my favorite sports team since the Captain was just a small cabin boy. My dad took me to games at Dodger Stadium, one of the few temples of baseball, back when Wes Parker played first base, and I went to several games a year there until I moved to Minnesoooooooota in 1997. We're talking 30 years of bleeding Dodger blue, people. So one of the ongoing symptoms of this chronic disease is that I read the Los Angeles Times on line every day to catch up with any news from the Blue Crew and to find any hope at all that we'll win our first playoff game since 1988. Now that the season has started, I aim for the LAT Sports section with a laser focus, as Dick Clarke would say on his American Grandstand tour. These days, the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Hostaging: What It Reveals About the Enemy

The world reacted in disgust and anger yesterday when Islamofascist insurgents released video of helpless Japanese civilians kidnapped by the "Mujahideen Brigades" that was broadcast by al-Jazeera, naturally: Iraqi gunmen took three Japanese civilians captive yesterday and threatened to burn them alive unless Tokyo withdrew its forces, sharply raising the stakes in the uprising that has swept central and southern Iraq. As coalition troops fought house-to-house to subdue the town of Fallujah, having earlier lost control of several towns, the insurgents opened up a new front with a rash of kidnappings. First and foremost, the act of kidnapping civilians and holding them hostage should be recognized for what it is: desperation. Yes, the uprising caught Coalition troops by surprise, mostly if not entirely second-line units. However, that's not who the terrorists will be facing now, and they know it. That's why the city elders in Fallujah are trying to negotiate...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Poll: What's Your Opinion of the 9/11 Commission?

You know my opinion of the 9/11 Commission -- now I'd like to know yours. Below is a poll that I believe gives four fair options on how people view their performance. Please vote -- I'll keep this open for at least several days to get a fair view of CQ readers. What do you think of the 9/11 Commission so far? They're doing a great job, treating everyone the same and asking the tough questions we want answered Their balance has worked well and they are on the right track They lean to the left but the work may be salvageable The public testimony has revealed a fatal bias and it's nothing but a political hack job    Free polls from Pollhost.com Keep checking back! Note: Sorry about the funky spacing -- I can't figure out why the poll does that ......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Jim Croce Revisited

If I could make days last forever, if words could make wishes come true, I'd save every day like a treasure and then, again, I would spend them with you... Jim Croce died in a plane crash more than 30 years ago just as his long-delayed career started to finally flower. Croce was one of the last folk-music singer/songwriters to become popular in 1972, as pop tastes were already changing to more synthesis and production. He barely had time to score two hit singles, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" and "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" before being killed, along with his musical partner Maury Muehlheisen. By any logic, Croce should have been a footnote in musical history, but a strange thing happened: people suddenly couldn't get enough of him. A string of hits followed, most poignantly "Time in a Bottle", which talked about the precious moments in life and how...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Now Where Did I Put My ...

Have you ever had a feeling that you forgot something? Did you ever leave the house and suddenly remember that your wallet was on the dresser instead in your pants pocket? Surely most of us have walked away from our desks at the office and left the report we were supposed to bring to the meeting. If so, then this may sound familiar, even if the stakes are somewhat higher: A federal air marshal accidentally left her gun in a restroom at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, an airport spokeswoman said Friday. A passenger found the semiautomatic handgun Thursday and notified an airport employee. The employee then told airport police, who secured the weapon, said the spokeswoman, Pat Smith. "They later found it belonged to a federal air marshal who apparently was using the restroom and put it up on the shelf while she was washing her hands and forgot about...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 10, 2004

CNN: PDB Contained No Actionable Items

Although CNN's headline, "Key document warned of possible al Qaeda scenarios," and its lead paragraph imply something else, the August 6th PDB in fact contains no items regarding hijackers using planes as missiles, nor does it sketch any scenarios that went unresponded: CNN confirmed highlights of the classified August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing, or PDB, which is expected to be declassified and released in the next several days. ... Sources aware of the PDB say much of the intelligence is uncorroborated, and none of it is related to the eventual September 11 terrorist plot [emph mine]. To get that last nugget of information that I bolded, you have to read down to the penultimate paragraph. Prior to that, CNN emphasizes al-Qaeda's intent to strike the US -- but who would be surprised to learn that Islamofascists who had already blown up two of our embassies, committed a suicide attack...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Spectre of Alar Returns

The US has issued an advisory on a specific type of tuna and its higher-than-desired mercury levels, and as usual, the American public moves towards full panic mode: When Joseph Ugalde, 38, a San Francisco marketing executive, goes out for lunch, he orders the Chinese chicken salad, the turkey avocado sandwich or sometimes the chicken pesto melt. But as of last month, one thing he will not order is tuna fish. No tuna salads. No tuna sandwiches. No tuna melts. "I loved tuna melts," Mr. Ugalde said somewhat wistfully. "Or I did." Now, however, Mr. Ugalde is boycotting tuna, which he used to eat once or twice a week, because of federal advisories about mercury in it. ... Consumers like Mr. Ugalde are the tuna industry's nightmare as they react to a federal warning about the mercury content in albacore tuna. More than $1.5 billion worth of canned tuna is...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Northern Alliance Radio On The Air!

Don't forget that we're on the air this afternoon on AM 1280 The Patriot -- and we'll have big news during the show!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Feds Throw MLB A Curveball, Union Whiffs

IRS agents raided a drug-testing lab on Thursday where results and samples of steroid tests performed on major-league baseball players were being held: Federal authorities probing an alleged steroid distribution ring have seized the results and samples of drug tests on selected major league baseball players from a drug-testing lab, a spokesman for the lab said Friday. Internal Revenue Service agents served a search warrant to obtain "documentation and specimens" from a Quest Diagnostics lab in Las Vegas, Quest spokesman Gary Samuels said. Samuels would not say whether IRS agents took the drug-test results or specimen of Barry Bonds, but said the agents took materials consistent with a federal subpoena that had sought test results and specimens from the San Francisco Giants' slugger and fewer than a dozen other players. Among them were New York Yankees Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi. The raid occurred Thursday, shortly after the Major League...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Reign of Spain Stayed Mainly Off The Plane

According to the Miami Herald (via Drudge), the Crown Prince of Spain and his fiance were furious at the prospect of going through airport-screening procedures at Miami International Airport and may turn their search into an diplomatic breach between Spain and the US: Members of the prince's entourage called the required inspection of their private belongings an ''insult'' and ''humiliating'' -- sparking a diplomatic flap that has the United States and Spain on the brink of a protocol war. Crowning it off, Iberia Airlines, the prince's carrier of choice, is suggesting it might pull out of the airport, according to two sources close to the international incident. ... ''We're your allies!'' one member of the royal delegation shouted in Spanish to inspectors at a particularly tense moment. But according to Lauren Stover, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration in Miami, the screeners were only doing their jobs. The mandates of...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

August 6, 2001 PDB Declassified

What in God's name in this report gave any specific warning that coordinated hijackings would turn planes into guided missiles? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing in this PDB that could have prevented 9/11, and Ben-Veniste and Kerrey knew it -- because they had already read it. Why did Ben-Veniste and Kerrey demand its declassification? Because they thought they wouldn't get it, and wanted to suggest that the Bush administration was covering up something. Ben-Veniste and Kerrey bluffed, and today their bluff got called. Game over. They've been exposed as political hacks, and should withdraw immediately from the commission, or else the commission should disband.

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Northern Alliance Radio Goes National!

Great news for all of you who have asked when the Northern Alliance Radio Network will be heard outside of the Twin Cities -- Hugh Hewitt has graciously asked us to fill in for him on his nationwide show on the Salem Radio Network on Tuesday, April 13th, and Wednesday, April 14th! We're not sure why Hugh has entrusted us with the smartest listenership in radio for two full nights; we suspect that a member or two of the gang at Fraters Libertas may have uncovered some deep, dark secret from the Lord High Commissioner's past. However it happened, we're delighted to step in from our cozy little studio here at AM 1280 The Patriot. The air times and stations will be the same (3-6 PM Pacific) -- just tune into Hugh's show and we'll be there. Monday, Mark Larson will fill in for Hugh. If you do not get...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 11, 2004

The PDB, One More Time

Predictably, the major news media are treating the 8/6/01 PDB as a revelation, a document that contained startling new evidence of al-Qaeda intentions rather than the recap of well-known data that it demonstrably is. A good example would be how the Los Angeles Times headlines their story, "Memo Cited Fears of Attacks in U.S.," making it sound as though the document referred to the 9/11 strikes. However, in its lead, the Times makes the distinction a bit more clear: The White House took the extraordinary step Saturday of releasing a top-secret intelligence briefing President Bush received five weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, declassifying a document that contained no specific warning of the looming strikes in New York and the Pentagon but provided fresh information that Al Qaeda was bent on hitting targets in the United States. The 1-page document cited intelligence on Al Qaeda dating to the mid-1990s. But...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Happy Easter and Passover to Friends and Family

Today, instead of concentrating on the minutiae of the world, we focus on the promise of life and the potential for good that resides in each of us. Easter and Passover are seasons of renewal, when we can shed the sins of our past and be renewed into our full power as the good and holy creations of a loving God. Exodus 19:3-6 says: Moses went up to the mountain to God. Then the LORD called to him and said, "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself. Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine. You shall be to me...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

A Few Images from the Captain's Easter

As I noted earlier today, blogging would be light due to the Easter holiday, and I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday with your friends or families. The First Mate and I spent the day with my son's in-laws. I'm a bit too tired to do much blogging now; I spent the evening doing some work on the NARN site, which we will be shortly updating and upgrading. I'll get back to work tomorrow, I promise. Until then, here's a few pictures from today's Easter festivities ... Here's me and the Little Admiral ... Here's the Little Admiral finding an Easter egg ... The Little Admiral's mom and dad, having fun on Easter ... The First Mate and the Little Admiral's other grandmother (and gracious hostess)... Of course, no holiday is complete without a blogger conference -- here's Sean from Everything I Know Is Wrong, my daughter-in-law's uncle! See...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 12, 2004

McCain Finally Gets Categorical

John McCain, who stirred up so much controversy a month ago by telling reporters that he would "entertain" an invitation to join John Kerry as his running mate, has finally gotten around to making an unequivocal statement of support for George Bush: "No, no and no. I will not leave the Republican Party. I cherish the ideals and principles of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan," he said on NBC's "Meet The Press." ... McCain said Sunday that he believes Bush "deserves re-election." "Have we agreed on every issue? Of course not. We didn't agree on every issue when we ran against each other in a primary," he said. "I am not embarrassed to say that John Kerry is a friend of mine, but I want George Bush to be re-elected president of the United States." CNN notes that McCain is running for re-election to the Senate. I...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Guardian: Labour Rolls "Plummet"

According to the London Guardian, Tony Blair's political party has bled subscribing members since the Iraq war began last year and has now dropped below that of the Tories: A collapse in the number of Labour party members is jeopardising the party's election prospects, amid claims that the total has hit a 70-year low. The latest published figure of 248,294 is equivalent to fewer than 390 members per parliamentary constituency but Save the Labour Party, a party group formed by activists concerned at plummeting numbers, argues that that figure has been inflated by including lapsed members, and does not take account of many who left in the wake of the Iraq war. A shortage of volunteers to put up posters, stuff envelopes, deliver leaflets, canvass and knock on doors to get people to vote threatens to undermine the campaign in June's local and European contests as well as next year's...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Howard Dean: Our Hate Must Unite Us

Howard Dean, who pulled the Democrats to the left-wing antiwar fringe during his abortive run at the Democratic presidential nomination by making the case that the party's Washington establishment wasn't sufficiently responsive to the International ANSWER crowd, makes a plea in today's New York Times editorial section for the support of uber-Establishment icon John Kerry as opposed to Ralph Nader. Dean argues that despite all of the party differences, Bush hatred must be the theme that unites every non-Republican: Many Democrats also admire Ralph Nader's achievements, as I do. But if they truly want George Bush out of the White House, they won't vote for Ralph Nader in November. ... Voting for Ralph Nader, or for any third-party candidate for president, means a vote for a candidate who has no realistic shot of winning the White House. To underscore the danger of voting for any third-party candidate in elections this...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Guardian: It's Israel's Fault

Once again, the London Guardian doesn't miss a chance to blame Israel for the rotten state of the Middle East, including the thugocracies at work in the 22 Arab nations surrounding it. Brian Whitaker casts the Israeli-Palestinian war as the central culprit in maintaining oppressive regimes in the area: For more than a generation, one issue has dominated political discourse in the Middle East. It has spawned militant and terrorist groups of almost every hue, from nationalist to Islamist. It has impeded peaceful change and modernisation in the region, and it has helped to keep authoritarian regimes in power. The Arab-Israeli conflict has not only blighted the Middle East but also provided a smokescreen for that malaise, diverting the attention of Arabs from their internal problems and providing an excuse for tired governments to survive well beyond their sell-by date. "We have emergency laws, we have control by the security...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

I Did Stay At A Holiday Inn Express

If you're listening to Mark Larson filling in for Hugh Hewitt, just an FYI -- none of the Northern Alliance are college students. I'm the father of a college student, and King at SCSU Scholars is a college professor, but none of us are students, to my knowledge. I wouldn't mind being the oldest freshman on campus, though. I watched "Old School" with Will Farrell and Luke Wilson. I could handle that whole wrestling scene. Fraternities should contact me as soon as possible for party scheduling ......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Captain's Caption Contest #6!

Okay, it's Friday morning, second down, seven (months) to go ... John, you go long and see what you can do, OK? D'OH! Yes, it's time for the Captain's Caption Contest, and while we're cheerleading for the other side here, let's see if we can't come up with a fight song for John Fumble Kerry. Don't be afraid to go deep here -- toss up that Hail Mary and see what happens! Just remember to keep your eye on the ball ... Put your caption for the picture in the Comments section. Bill from INDC Journal will be our guest judge for this scrimmage. The whistle blows at 6 PM CT on Tuesday, April 13! BUMP 4/10 ... again, 4/11 ... BUMP 4/13: The contest will stay open to 9 pm CT, due to our appearance on tonight's Hugh Hewitt show! ... Comments closed -- thanks for some great entries!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 13, 2004

Capital Punishment, la Francaise

French authorities have repeatedly refused to extradite murder suspects to the United States due to the possibility of defendants being sentenced to death. The most notorious of these cases was Ira Einhorn, the aging hippie who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, in absentia after fleeing the trial just before the conviction came in. Once he was discovered in France, Pennsylvania prosecutors and the State Department tried for years to get the French to deport him, but were met with Gallic obstinacy and disdain while Einhorn continued to live with his girlfriend in a country villa. The French refused to allow Einhorn to return to the US not only because of the death penalty but also because it believed his rights had been violated by his conviction in absentia. Finally, after signing a pledge not to seek the death penalty and granting Einhorn a new trial 20 years after his...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Why al-Sadr Was Inevitable

A statement by Iraqi Shi'ite clerics this morning demonstrates clearly why the Coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council would eventually be forced to deal with al-Sadr or another radical cleric eventually -- and why we may be fortunate that al-Sadr wound up as the opponent: In a statement issued Monday after a meeting with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the clerics and members of the country's religious authority also cautioned the coalition against doing battle in the holy city of Najaf -- and warned against any attempt to kill al-Sadr. "The current crisis in Iraq has risen to a level that is beyond any political groups, including the Governing Council, and it is now an issue that is between the religious authority and the coalition forces," the statement said. "Those who have brought on this crisis must pay for what they have done." Shi'ite clerics have forced the issue of the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Autistic Man Possessed Ricin: FBI

The FBI arrested a man Friday for possession of ricin, one of the most deadly poisons known to man and one considered to be a likely agent for use in terrorist attacks: Robert M. Alberg of Kirkland, Wash., was arrested at his apartment Friday and charged with one count of possession of a biological agent or toxin. "It is enough that it could cause concern that it could harm someone -- could kill someone," FBI spokeswoman Roberta Burroughs told KING-TV on Monday. Alberg was held pending a hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court. He is described in court documents as having autism, a developmental disorder featuring a spectrum of symptoms including impairments in communication and repetitive behaviors such as finger tapping or head banging. Federal criminal justice sources told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer they do not believe Alberg had political motivations for making the ricin and had no plans to use...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

More Evidence of Economic Boom

Retail sales rose to a level that exceeded expectations by about 200% in March, demonstrating the strength of the economic expansion: Shoppers turned out in force in March, a Commerce Department report Tuesday showed, pushing retail sales to their strongest gain in a year. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose an unexpectedly sharp 1.8% in March to a seasonally adjusted $333.01 billion, the biggest gain since March 2003. Excluding cars and trucks, sales gained 1.7%, that category's best performance since March 2000. Wall Street analysts had expected both figures to advance 0.6%. February sales were also revised upward, to a 1.0% increase from the previously reported 0.7% gain. February ex-auto sales were revised to a 0.6% increase from a previously reported flat reading. In a further indication of consumer confidence, home-improvement spending rose over 10%, demonstrating homeowner security in the overall economy. Wall Street expected to see only moderate...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Jamie Gorelick: Part of the Solution, or the Problem?

Former deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick has been one of the more partisan members of the 9/11 Commission, clashing sharply with Condoleezza Rice during her public testimony, although not as rudely as her colleagues Richard Ben-Veniste and Bob Kerrey. Gorelick has been particularly critical of statements regarding the collection of intelligence and the failure to "connect the dots" by national-security agencies and the NSC themselves. However, as Andrew McCarthy points out in today's National Review Online, Gorelick is no disinterested observer to the structural problems between the FBI's efforts at coordinated intelligence with law-enforcement investigations into terrorists: For those of us who were in the trenches of the struggle against militant Islam beginning in the early 1990s, it is jarring to hear, of all people, Jamie Gorelick now a member of the 9/11 Commission hectoring government officials about their asserted failure to perceive how essential it is that...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Zarqawi in Fallujah?

An Australian news website reports that Abu al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda operations chief reportedly behind part of the Iraqi insurgency, may be trapped in Fallujah (via Instapundit): THE alleged mastermind of the al-Qaeda operations in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, is believed to be in the city of Fallujah, which is under US marine siege, a senior coalition spokesman said today. "Zarqawi is believed to be in Fallujah or nearby," said Dan Senor. Remind me again -- why is Iraq a "distraction" from the war on terror?...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Prayers for Cindy McCain

I've had my differences with Senator John McCain this year, but politics is politics -- this is reality: Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, suffered a small stroke and was hospitalized in stable condition Tuesday. "According to her physician, the prognosis is cautiously excellent," McCain said in a statement Tuesday. Cindy McCain, 49, had a small bleed in her brain and her speech is mildly affected, said Robert Spetzler, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital. Senator, just know that you have the prayers of all your fellow citizens for your wife's quick and complete recovery, and for your and your children....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 14, 2004

Media: Dances With Gorelick

Walter Branigin filed a report yesterday at the Washington Post on the testimony of John Ashcroft at the 9/11 Commission, as well as that of Louis Freeh, Thomas Pickard, and Janet Reno. Imagine my surprise when the Post managed to miss the most intriguing part of Ashcroft's testimony -- that commissioner Jamie Gorelick had played an integral part in defending the flawed structure that stymied counterterrorism efforts for a decade and more: For nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, "our government had blinded itself to its enemies." He said U.S. covert action authorities were "crippled" in their ability to go after bin Laden by "a battery of lawyers" in the government who insisted that the United States should try to capture him before taking any lethal action. Branigin never even mentions Gorelick by name, let alone discuss her memo to the FBI instructing them that their...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Award For The Silliest Lead Paragraph Goes To ...

... Jason Keyser and Lourdes Navarro at the AP, whose otherwise uninteresting article on the fighting in Fallujah brings doublespeak to an entirely new level: U.S. warplanes and helicopter gunships firing heavy machine-guns, rockets and cannons hammered gunmen as a truce in besieged Fallujah was strained by increasingly intense battles. With more troops killed, April became the deadliest month for American forces since they set foot in Iraq. Perhaps the AP has a different dictionary than I do, but when I look up the word, the definition I read appears somewhat incongruous to other words like battles. When was the last time you heard of a truce that involved warplanes and gunships firing heavy machine guns? Based on their description, war is safer than peace, since more troops have been killed since the "truce" broke out than in any other month since we "set foot in Iraq." Vive la guerre!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Hate Speech From the Left

Florida Democrats in St. Petersburg have spent too much time in the fever swamps. They ran an ad in a weekly newspaper calling for the assassination of Donald Rumsfeld, prompting outrage from Republicans and -- to their credit -- demands for an apology from the John Kerry campaign (via Drudge): The ad, appearing in last Thursday's edition of the Gabber, a weekly paper covering the Pinellas County community of Gulfport, included a lengthy criticism of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and then singled out Rumsfeld. "And then there's Rumsfeld who said of Iraq 'We have our good days and our bad days.' We should put this S.O.B. up against a wall and say 'This is one of our bad days,' and pull the trigger," the ad read under a banner "St. Petersburg Democratic Club." It won't be long before the increasingly irresponsible mouthfoaming coming from what...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Caption Contest #6 Winners!

The Captain has to apologize for a delay-of-game penalty -- with all of the show prep for our fill-in appearance on the Hugh Hewitt show, I've been thrown for a loss in this game! With Bill from INDC Journal running interference, though, we've picked the winners for the latest Caption Contest. Just to jog the memory, here's the picture: Captain's Award (Touchdown) -- Robert the Llama Butcher: While on a tour of crucial battleground states in the midwest, Senator Kerry was unpleasantly surprised to to discover that "Punt, Pass and Kick" is not just the Democratic Party national security policy. You Have The Conn #1 (The Bomb) -- Cassandra: "Do I catch it, or let it go...catch it, or let it go...damn I wish those poll results were in!" You Have The Conn #2 (Student Body Left) -- Eric: That quarterback has thrown the most reckless, arrogant pass in pick-up...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Sensenbrenner Calls for Gorelick Resignation

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner notes that Congressman James Sensenbrenner has called for the resignation of 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick: Yesterday, a 1995 memo written by 9/11 Commission Member Jamie Gorelick, in her former role as the second in command at the Justice Department, revealed her actions in establishing the heightened 'wall' prohibiting the sharing of intelligence information and criminal information. Scrutiny of this policy lies at the heart of the Commission's work. Ms. Gorelick has an inherent conflict of interest as the author of this memo and as a government official at the center of the events in questions. Thus, I believe the Commission's work and independence will be fatally damaged by the continued participation of Ms. Gorelick as a Commissioner. Reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that Ms. Gorelick should resign from this Commission. "The Commission's Guidelines on Recusals state, 'Commissioners and staff will recuse themselves...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Drudge reports that Air America has been pulled off the air in Los Angeles and Chicago due to non-payment of fees -- which Air America hotly denies (via The Corner): The CHICAGO TRIBUNE is developing a story, insiders tell DRUDGE, on how the network was pulled off the air this morning in Chicago and Los Angeles, the network's second- and third-largest markets, because, the owner of both stations said, the network bounced a check and owes him more than $1 million! Air America, as I said, is not very happy about this description: MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting's conduct in this matter has been disgraceful. To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry. In addition, it is a clear violation of their contractual obligations, and we are seeking...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 15, 2004

Osama Sues for Peace?

Something tells me that this will turn out to be a fake, but the Arab television network Al-Arabiya aired a new audio tape reportedly by Osama bin Laden himself offering European nations a "truce" if they leave Muslims alone: In a recording broadcast on Arab satellite networks Thursday, a man who identified himself as Osama bin Laden offered a "truce" to European countries that do not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers leave Islamic nations. ... "I announce a truce with the European countries that do not attack Muslim countries," the taped message said as the stations showed an old, still picture of al-Qaida leader. ... This truce, the message said, was to deny "the war mongers" further opportunities and because polls have shown that "most of the European peoples want reconciliation" with the Islamic world. As a Tory leader in Britain remarked, the tape (if authentic)...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

New York Times: 9/11 Commission Talks Too Much

Jim Rutenberg wrote an analysis for today's New York Times that questions the relentless public-relations efforts by members of the 9/11 Commission, who have appeared on talk shows and written numerous opinion pieces during their work on evaluating America's failure to predict and defend against the al-Qada suicide hijackings. Rutenberg notes growing discontent from Republicans and Democrats alike over their open discussions of the evidence and voicing their preliminary conclusions before all of the evidence and testimony has been received: Democrats and Republicans alike have raised concerns about the degree to which commission members are discussing their deliberations on television and, even, in newspaper columns to the point that they are spinning their views like the politicians that many of them are. Americans can hardly turn on a television or pick up a newspaper these days without seeing or reading about a member of the commission. From the Fox...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

LA Times: Iraqi Economy Rebounding

Proving that major media outlets can ignore news for only so long, the Los Angeles Times notes in a featured Mark Magnier article that the Iraqi economy shows signs of a strong rebound and the Iraqi middle class is gathering strength: Wedged between the reports of murder and mayhem, the headline in the local paper was eye-catching: "Should you change your wallpaper for lighter tones?" it asked. "Do it once and you'll see the results." ... Slowly but surely, ordinary Iraqis are redoing floors, hanging curtains, buying new pictures and feathering their nests after years of doing without. Furniture and upholstery sellers are reporting strong demand, as are lighting firms, building contractors and plant stores. "I've been in this business a long time," said Muthana Fahawi, a carpet merchant for 25 years in Baghdad's Karada neighborhood. "Anyone who says the economy isn't improving isn't telling the truth. You can feel...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Monochromatic John Kerry

In an unusual broadside, CNN's Carlos Watson reports on an embarassing and potentially mortal flaw within the Kerry campaign -- the striking lack of diversity among his advisors: Seizing on the nation's diversity -- the country is almost one-third non-white -- Bush has appointed African-Americans, Asians, Latinos and women to senior and non-stereotypical roles: Secretary of State, national security adviser, Transportation Secretary, White House Counsel. Unlike Al Gore whose campaign manager, political director and finance director were African-American, the Kerry campaign, as of yet, has no one of color in the innermost circle, including Kerry's campaign manager, campaign chairperson, media adviser, policy director, foreign policy adviser, general election manager, convention planner, national finance chairman, and head of VP search team. This is another case of Kerry speaking out of both sides of his mouth, and a particularly egregious one at that. Democrats have long smeared Republicans with race-baiting tactics; recently,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Stealing Air: Filling In For Hugh

As most of you already know, the Northern Alliance of Blogs stepped in for Hugh Hewitt as he went on a top-secret mission at one of our nation's fine military colleges, the Naval Academy at Annapolis. (We're not entirely sure about this mission, but the Elder claims that he has the goods, complete with pictures.) The Northern Alliance took over Hugh's show on both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, driving his listeners to consider Dead-Air America as their back-up radio choice in the event Hugh takes any more time off -- even though they were playing Marcel Marceau's Greatest Hits (Dance Remix Version) all night Wednesday in LA. I can't tell you how much fun it is to be in a radio studio with terrific guys like the Elder and JB from Fraters Libertas, King Banian from SCSU Scholars, and Big Trunk and Hindrocket (who was unfortunately out of town for...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

A Contractor Tells About His Mission

One of my friends is a Special Forces veteran who has spent decades in active service and the reserves. He took some time off to work as a security contractor with a company whose name has been in the news. After the horrible deaths and mutilations of four contractors in Fallujah, my friend sent out a long e-mail detailing his experiences in Iraq in order to set our minds at ease about his mission and the work the US is doing in Iraq. I asked him to allow me to share his experiences with you, and after a few day's delay, he gave me permission to do so as long as I edited out the pictures (for the privacy of his colleagues) and removed any references that would disclose his identity, to protect his family and himself. Please read this very long post in order to learn for yourselves exactly...

Continue reading "A Contractor Tells About His Mission" »

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 16, 2004

New Nielsen Technology Shortchanging Minorities?

Wired runs an interesting article today on a new Nielsen television ratings system that eliminates the decades-old practice of using diaries to calculate viewership. The computer-based "people meter" attaches to the television, VCR, and game box to give a 24/7 report on what Nielsen families watch. This new system has brought a change that has called into question its accuracy: Just this month, the company came under attack from television networks, minority groups and even lawmakers when a test of its electronic "people meters," newly installed in select New York homes, began reporting a sharp decrease in viewership for television shows that feature minorities. Because the current system -- a decades-old technique involving week-long diaries that are mailed to the homes -- had never yielded such a drastic swing, the critics contended that the new technique must somehow be unreliable. For those of you with a TiVo, the system connects...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Shroud of Turin: New Evidence?

The enduring mystery of the Shroud of Turin, one of the oldest and most controversial religious artifacts, deepened this week when photographs of the reverse side of the shroud underwent analysis for the first time ever: Italian scientists have found a matching image of a man's face and possibly his hands on the back of the Turin shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, one of the researchers said on Thursday. The discovery that the ghostly image on the back of the linen cloth matches the face that adorns the front is likely to reignite debate over whether the shroud is genuine or a skilful medieval fraud. "The fact that the image is two-sided makes any forgery difficult," Professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua told Reuters. I watched an interesting documentary last week on this subject that aired on the History Channel. The...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

LA Times: Hunting Snipe In Minnesota?

The Los Angeles Times goes far afield this morning in order to capture a bit of voter angst towards George Bush and the war in Iraq: For both parties, Minnesota is rich with potential; its voters are among the most independent-minded in the country. They list no political party when they register to vote. Nationally, they are known for sending Democrats to the U.S. Senate, among them Hubert H. Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Walter F. Mondale and Paul Wellstone. But they stunned the country by electing wrestler Jesse Ventura, a Reform Party candidate, as governor in 1998. They also lean regularly toward Republicans, choosing Richard Nixon (three times), Gerald Ford (once) and Ronald Reagan (twice) for president. In 2002, they elected Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Norm Coleman to replace Ventura and Wellstone, respectively, and the GOP picked up seats in the state Legislature. The LA Times engages in some transparent sophistry...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Blogspot Difficulties?

Has anyone else noticed that Blogspot blogs seem to be crashing this morning? I went to check out my Northern Alliance colleagues at Spitbull and wound up with a screenful of garbage. But hey, I've miscoded more than a couple of times myself, so I thought nothing much of it. I went to check out Miller's Time, though, and the same problems seem to be occurring there. Fortunately, SCSU Scholars seems unaffected, and that's great news because King just posted an excellent analysis of John Kerry's "misery index". King will be discussing this tomorrow on our Northern Alliance Radio Network show, too....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 17, 2004

Russia Says "Nyet" To Oil-For-Food Investigation

The New York Times reports this morning that the oft-stalled investigation into bribery and corruption allegations surrounding the United Nations' Iraq oil-for-food program has hit another roadblock. Although UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has nominated Paul Volcker to lead the committee and the other members are ready to start, Russia has refused to approve rules that would enhance the independence of the investigation: United Nations officials said Friday that Mr. Volcker, 76, had been selected for the panel along with Mark Pieth, 50, a Swiss law professor with expertise in investigating money laundering and economic crime, and Richard J. Goldstone, 65, a South African judge who was chief prosecutor for the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia. But the nominations stalled Friday when Russia said it would not agree to a Security Council resolution that Mr. Volcker said he needed to give him the authority to conduct the wide-ranging...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

But If He'd Tried It On Ice, He'd Only Get a 5-Minute Penalty

Fox News reports today on the arrest of St. Louis Blues' center Mike Danton on suspricion of conspiracy to murder, in a story where the subtext seems to speak louder than the story: A center for the St. Louis Blues was arrested Friday in an alleged scheme to kill an acquaintance he feared could ruin his career, the FBI said. Mike Danton, 23, was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., after the Blues were knocked out of the NHL playoffs in a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton told a female friend that a hitman from Canada was coming to kill him and asked the woman if she knew someone who would kill the person for $10,000. The woman, identified as Katie Wolfmeyer, passed his call to another man, described in the complaint as...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Governator Wins Another One

Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's new celebrity governor, continues to score big victories in California politics, this time by pushing through long-overdue reforms to the state's workers-comp program: Despite enthusiasm from labor and business circles that was only muted, the final product was a significant political achievement, just the latest in what has become a growing list for Mr. Schwarzenegger. In the six months since ousting Gov. Gray Davis from office in a historic recall election, he has broken gridlock in Sacramento and delivered on a string of campaign promises, from rescinding drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants to reversing $4 billion in car tax increases to winning public approval of a state bond issue addressing the state's vast fiscal problems. "Of course the first thing I heard when I came to Sacramento in November is that it can't be done, that it is impossible," Mr. Schwarzenegger said at the Capitol after both...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Israel Kills Hamas Leader of the Month

Something tells me that the Employee of the Month award at Hamas won't be nearly as popular as it was before ... Israel, obviously undeterred from the protests following the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Yassin last month, has successfully carried out a targeted killing of his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi: An Israeli missile strike killed Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi as he rode in his car Saturday evening, hospital officials said. Rantisi's son Mohammed and a bodyguard were also killed in the attack. The militant Hamas leader was one of Israel's top targets after it assassinated Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in an airstrike last month. Rantisi's car was hit with missiles Saturday evening on the road outside his home, leaving only the burned, destroyed vehicle. After the explosion, Israeli helicopters were heard in the area. Undoubtedly, this action will once again provoke outrage from a wide collection of...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Thank God For Liberal Talk Radio

Lately, my Northern Alliance brethren and I have been poking fun at the travails at the hopelessly inept Air America, who can't even get radio air time based on their talent. They have to purchase large chunks of it instead, confirming the lack of a market for their schtick, at least at this time. Despite our schadenfruede at Air America's problems, I have found a reason to be thankful for liberal talk radio in today's Star Tribune: Stillwater DFLer Janet Robert, who lost to U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy in a heated contest in 2002 and had been expected to try again this year, said Friday that she has decided not to run after all. Robert said she will devote her full energies to the fledgling Minnesota Production Network (MPN), a corporation she helped start to provide a liberal talk-radio alternative to the often conservative mix. Robert made her decision at...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

NY Times Notices Wonkette

Feature stories on the blogosphere in the mainstream news media always generate quite a bit of interest. Tomorrow's edition of the Gray Lady herself reports on Wonkette, a blogger who's made a name for herself by covering the more gossipy side of Washington: With her gossipy, raunchy, potty-mouthed blog, Ms. Cox, a 31-year-old self-described failed journalist, has grabbed the attention of staid Washington, where gossip columns usually amount to little more than records of Capitol Hill staff changes and James Carville sightings. As she puts it, her mission for her blog is to write "a blend of gossip and satire and things I make up." It supports no party line, mixing gossip items from newspapers and Web sites with tips e-mailed from readers, which could be anything from guesses about which members of the Bush administration are gay to blind items on Washington luminaries. " `Famous for D.C.' should be...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 18, 2004

Hamas Cancels Its Inaugural Ball

After seeing its founder killed by Israel and his replacement likewise killed less than a month later, Hamas has decided that discretion may be the better part of terrorism: Hamas secretly appointed a new Gaza Strip chief early Sunday, but refused to reveal his identity after Israel assassinated two Hamas leaders in less than a month. Unfortunately, not all of the Hamas leadership has read the memo on secrecy quite yet: "Hamas will move ahead and will continue the resistance march," said local Hamas leader Ahmad Sahar, a friend of Rantisi's. ... "Yesterday they said that they killed Rantisi to weaken Hamas. They are dreaming. Every time a martyr falls, Hamas is strengthened," Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, told more than 70,000 mourners gathered at the city's largest mosque for the funeral. Sounds like the Israelis have two more names that they can add to the probable nominees for the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Season's Still Young, But ...

We're just two weeks into the 2004 season, but the Los Angeles Dodgers seem to be firing on all cylinders -- an unusual occurrence for a team known for starting slow. Pitching, defense, and even timely hitting have come together, the latter of which has always been an issue despite having one of the league's highest payrolls: The Dodgers have won four in a row after an 8-3 loss at San Diego on Tuesday, good for a 4-1 start on a nine-game, 10-day trip against the National League West. They're feeling good at 8-3, and even Bonds' towering solo homer on a 95-mph fastball from reliever Darren Dreifort in the eighth couldn't dampen their mood. "It's just momentum," Bradley said. "Momentum can switch at any time, but we've got it right now." Most fascinating is the performance over the past two seasons of closer Eric Gagne, a failed starter at...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Gorelick Swings, and Misses

Beleaguered 9/11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick, whose memo strengthening the so-called "wall" between intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement efforts caused a sensation in the commission hearings last week, writes a defense in today's Washington Post that mostly misses the mark: The commission investigating the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has a critical dual mission to fulfill -- to help our nation understand how the worst assault on our homeland since Pearl Harbor could have occurred and to outline reforms to prevent new acts of terrorism. Under the leadership of former governor Tom Kean and former congressman Lee Hamilton, the commission has acted with professionalism and skill. Its hearings and the reports it has released have been highly informative, if often disturbing. Sept. 11 united this country in shock and grief; the lessons from it must be learned in a spirit of unity, not of partisan rancor. First off, this lead paragraph contains...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry Twists on Meet the Press

John Kerry, appearing on Meet the Press today, was forced to answer questions about an appearance he made over thirty years ago on the same show, as Tim Russert played a much-requested clip from April 18, 1971: MR. RUSSERT: Before we take a break, I want to talk about Vietnam. You are a decorated war hero of Vietnam, prominently used in your advertising. You first appeared on MEET THE PRESS back in 1971, your first appearance. I want to roll what you told the country then and come back and talk about it: (Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, April 18, 1971): MR. KERRY (Vietnam Veterans Against the War): There are all kinds of atrocities and I would have to say that, yes, yes, I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Another Grandstand Tour?

Jesse Jackson wants to insert himself into the hostage strategy currently being employed by the desperate Islamofascists operating in Iraq, continuing his self-aggrandizing world tour and threatening to legitimize the al-Sadr and Fallujah terrorists: American civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Sunday that he has "had prayer" with the wife of Thomas Hamill, an American contractor abducted in Iraq, and promised his family he would try to win his freedom. ... "If I knew who was holding them, I would appeal to them directly," Jackson said. "We've already begun to make some back-channel contacts to them." He said he was willing to travel to Iraq to negotiate for the hostages, but only "if I know with whom to talk and know where to go." Jackson, whose political influence has waned severely over the past few years thanks to personal difficulties, obviously wants to put himself back into the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 19, 2004

Washington Times: Gorelick Not Playing By the Rules

In today's Washington Times, Charles Hurt notes that 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick has not played by the rules set forth in her defense by both herself and commission chair Thomas Kean -- that she must recuse herself when discussion of events arises that personally involves her (via Drudge): Former acting FBI Director Thomas J. Pickard told the September 11 commission in a private interview earlier this year that he was surprised that Jamie S. Gorelick is serving on the panel because she had played a key role in setting the very counterterrorism policies being investigated. According to a summary of that interview obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Pickard said Ms. Gorelick who was No. 2 in the Clinton Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno resisted efforts by the FBI to expand the counterterrorism effort beyond simple law enforcement tactics and agencies. ... But in that open,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Mother of Drunk Driver Sues Everyone In Sight

I have decided that I have no more sympathy left for people who take personal tragedies in their lives and attempt to cash in on them in every single way they can. Today's case in point is the Nevada mother of a 19-year-old drunk driver who got himself killed by wrapping his car around a light pole at 90 MPH. Jodie Pisco retaliate by filing lawsuits against everyone except the light pole: Jodie Pisco, of Reno, contends Coors has failed in its duty to protect the country's youth from drinking. Her son, Ryan, was killed in 2002 after he drank Coors at a party and drove his girlfriend's car into a light pole at 90 mph, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Washoe County District Court, seeks unspecified damages. It accused Coors of "glorifying a culture of youth, sex and glamour while hiding the dangers of alcohol abuse...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Al-Sadr: Muchas Gracias, Amigos

As promised, Spain's new Prime Minister Jose Zapatero has pulled out the Spanish contingent of soldiers from Iraq, resulting in high praise from a likely source: Radical Islamic cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has welcomed Spain's decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq "in the shortest time possible," as U.S. officials braced for more possible pullouts. According to a spokesman in the Iraqi city of Najaf, the Shiite cleric praised Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's decision Sunday to pull Spain's 1,400-plus troops from Iraq. Al-Sadr also is asking that people from all coalition countries put pressure on their governments to follow Spain and recall their forces, spokesman Fuad al-Turfi said. Why is Moqtada smiling? Because the Spanish troops belong to a Polish-led multinational force based in the Najaf area -- coincidentally, just where al-Sadr has been hiding out from Coalition forces looking to capture him and stamp out his insurgency. Spain's...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Air America: Even the LA Times Hates It

During the past couple of weeks, I've spent quite a few keystrokes on the relative merits of the new liberal radio network, Air America. The Northern Alliance gang has had a lot of fun on air and off poking fun at their line-up and their management difficulties, including their loss of air time in Los Angeles and Chicago. (They may be the first radio network that's received air time from a federal judge.) However, one thing I haven't done is to actually listen to Air America, mostly because the entire notion of listening to Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo repels me, but also because I'd rather listen to Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and Michael Medved. Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw spent Good Friday listening to all 17 hours of Air America, and despite his expressed predilection for the liberal viewpoint, he finds it severely wanting and more than...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Gallup Poll: Bush Leads By 6

While it's still a bit too early to take polling numbers seriously, the new CNN/Gallup poll is remarkable given the attacks that the Bush administration has endured over the past few weeks: President Bush's lead over Democrat John Kerry has widened a bit in a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll despite two weeks that have been dominated by a deteriorating security situation in Iraq and criticism of his administration's handling of the terrorism threat before the Sept. 11 attacks. The survey, taken Friday through Sunday, showed Bush leading Kerry 51% to 46% among likely voters, slightly wider than the 3-point lead he held in early April. The shifts were within the margin of error of +/ 4 percentage points in the sample of likely voters. The president's job approval rating was steady at 52%. The pollsters attribute the lack of movement to a polarized electorate, but you may just as well say...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry Flip-Flops Again, Readies His Petard

Big Trunk at Power Line (and yes, it's really Big Trunk) notes that Kerry is misunderstood: he's a political comedian! I'd just say he's a joke.

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 20, 2004

Woodward Says No Secret Oil Deal, Suggests Kerry Learn to Read

After skimming Bob Woodward's new book, "Path to War," Democrats led by John Kerry have charged that the Bush administration concocted a secret deal with the Saudi royal family to lower oil prices prior to the election. Kerry ranted about the subject repeatedly over the past couple of days. But the White House, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, and even Bob Woodward himself say that his book never made that claim: The charge that Saudi Arabia made a secret pact with President Bush to lower gasoline prices in time to help him in the November presidential election was denied Monday by the White House, the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- and even by journalist Bob Woodward, who raised the specter of such a quid pro quo in a book released Monday. "I don't say there's a secret deal or any collaboration on this," Woodward told CNN's "Larry King...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

US to Consider Lowering Airport Security?

US airport security, after having been tightened up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, may be loosened up again in order to allow airport retail businesses to recapture their lost revenue streams: Pittsburgh International could become the nation's first major airport allowed to abandon the federal government's post-Sept. 11 rule that lets only ticketed passengers proceed past security checkpoints to the gate. If successful, the test might become a model for other airports. Pittsburgh is a candidate for the experiment for two reasons: It has a centralized security checkpoint, in one terminal, and it has a 100-store shopping mall that has suffered a drop in business because it can be reached only by ticketed passengers. If successful, I would imagine that Minneapolis-St. Paul airport might be next in line, as our airport has a similar configuration and a substantial retail presence. However, I can't think of a dumber security...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Italy: 1000s of Automatic Weapons Bound for US

Italy announced that they have seized a ship with thousands of Kalishnikov rifles, apparently illegal, bound for the US -- raising the question of their intended use: Police in southern Italy say they have seized a large illegal arms shipment from Romania destined for the US. Customs officers in the port of Gioia Tauro, in Calabria, discovered 7,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles after noting irregularities in the documentation. The cargo, estimated to be worth some 6m euros (3.9m, $7.15m), was declared as arms for civilian, not military, use. Italian authorities stopped the shipment when they discovered "discrepancies" between the goods and the customs declaration by the shipper. The cargo included such accessories as reloading devices and bayonets. While the so-called assault rifles are legal for collectors, 7,000 of them seem to be a bit much for that market niche, and the Italians became very suspicious of their intended use. The receiver...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Thanks For The Help

Iraqi insurgents attempted a prison break in Baghdad today, shelling a compound where American forces hold several thousand Iraqis suspected of being part of Saddam's Ba'ath regime and/or the post-liberation insurgency. Unfortunately, the Gang That Can't Shell Straight wound up causing over a hundred casualties -- entirely in the inmate population: Guerrillas fired a barrage of mortar rounds at Baghdad's largest prison Tuesday, killing 22 prisoners in an attack a U.S. general said may have been an attempt to spark an uprising against their American guards. ... Ninety-two prisoners were wounded in the mortar attack on the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, 25 of them seriously, said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a U.S. military spokeswoman. "This isn't the first time that we have seen this kind of attack. We don't know if they are trying to inspire an uprising or a prison break," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt told The Associated Press. All...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Captain's Caption Contest #7!

What time is it, everyone? It's Caption Contest time! This week's entry comes from Jon at QandO, who will be guest-judging this week's contest. Q and O are two letters of the alphabet, of course, and perhaps that's what John Kerry is debating with this group of constituents. But note where Kerry is, and who gets the chair behind him: I'm sure you can come up with an appropriate caption for such a charming depiction of the political diversity of our education system! Simply submit it as a comment (no e-mails, please) on this post. Comments will remain open until Tuesday at 6 PM CT, when Jon and I will select the most notable, the most intelligent, and the most humorous of all the captions! Bribes don't hurt, either. I didn't get to be Captain by working hard, dammit! BUMP 4/17 -- Great entries are already rolling in. Can you...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The CPA Memo: We Need To Take Forceful Action

The Village Voice published an article earlier today based on an e-mail from the Coalition Provisional Authority which was forwarded to them. The memo, which dates back to March, foresaw civil war if the CPA and the US did not start exerting its authority in Iraq, and specifically mentions a renegade cleric named Moqtada al-Sadr. The Voice, typically, takes the small mention of civil war and explodes it into the entire point of the memo. The subhead of the article, in fact, reads "A Coalition memo reveals that even true believers see the seeds of civil war in the occupation of Iraq". However, in reading the actual memo, the author points not to an inevitable civil war but instead to the numerous opportunities surrounding the CPA to improve its performance and its position with the Iraqis, the vast majority of which want to see the US succeed. The anonymous writer...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

California May Regulate Porn Shoots

In a move that underscores the nanny state and the hypocrisy of big-government California, lawmakers are now proposing to require the use of condoms in all productions of pornography: Health officials in California have said the recent infection of two porn actors with the HIV virus means they may force performers to wear condoms. Los Angeles County officials said they believed existing regulations gave them the authority to require condom use. And the state Division of Occupational Health and Safety is also planning to carry out inspections of productions next week, the LA Times reported. First, let me state that I have no dog in the fight regarding pornography per se; it's rather silly stuff and a complete waste of time, but as long as everyone involved is a consenting adult and no one gets physically injured, I don't see any reason to ban it. My opinion on this is...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Caption Contest #7 Winners!

The judge has spoken -- and the judge in this case is none other than Jon from QandO, a fantastic blog that should be on your daily-read list (after Captain's Quarters, of course!). Today, together with Jon's partner McQ, they've posted a review of the Arab press reaction to the Madrid bombings, the real status of the deficit, and especially the new effort to bring Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to the big screen. In short, QandO is like Alice's Restaurant -- you can find anything you want. Jon was kind enough to provide this picture for our Caption Contest ... ... and now he's selected this week's winners! Here they are: Captain's Award (Sailor Moon) -- Spd Rdr: Now pay attention, children. This is a voting booth. VO-ting boooo-the. On election day, you little guys go to the table marked "DEM" and the nice lady will let you go...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 21, 2004

John O'Neill: Kerry No War Hero to Veterans

John O'Neill, who took over John Kerry's command of the swift boat he commanded in Vietnam after Kerry's return home, spoke out on television for the first time in over 30 years on CNN yesterday: "I saw some war heroes ... John Kerry is not a war hero," said John O'Neill, a Houston lawyer who joined the Navy's Coastal Division 11 two months after the future senator left Vietnam. "He couldn't tie the shoes of some of the people in Coastal Division 11." ... In an interview Tuesday on CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports," O'Neill said allegations about atrocities made by Kerry after his return render him "unfit" to be president. "His allegations that people committed war crimes in that unit, and throughout Vietnam, were lies. He knew they were lies when he said them, and they were very damaging lies," said O'Neill, adding that other former sailors from the same...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

London Telegraph: Americans More Phlegmatic Than Media Suggest

The London Telegraph has reviewed the results of two polls, one by CNN/USA Today and the other by Gallup/ABC/Washington Post, and reports that American determination regarding Iraq has been underestimated, as has support for George Bush: In a boost for President George W Bush, opinion polls yesterday showed that the American public strongly backs a continued presence in Iraq, even though they believe the effort there is in trouble. Though 59 per cent of Americans believe the US is "bogged down", two thirds said troops should remain until order is restored, even if that means more casualties. ... The polls refute the belief that ordinary Americans have no stomach for casualties or are oblivious to the problems facing coalition forces. Although our national media continues to operate from hysteria mode, making numerous Tet analogies every time someone shoots a gun off in the Sunni triangle, Americans as a whole understand...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

ABC: Oil-For-Food Corruption at Highest Levels

ABC News continues its excellent series on the United Nations Oil-For-Food program, which descended into a massive scam that netted Saddam Hussein -- supposedly the target of the sanctions that prompted the program -- more than $10 billion, and apparently lined the pockets of many others at the UN (via Instapundit): At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multi-million dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS. One year after his fall, U.S. officials say they have evidence, some in cash, that Saddam diverted to his personal bank accounts approximately $5 billion from the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. This story has bounced around for a while since January, when ABC produced a list of people, some of whom ran the program and some of whom actively blocked UN enforcement of resolutions against Iraq. What ABC has now is independent evidence...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

New Blog: JAG Wire

Based on encouragement from Lord High Commissioner Hugh Hewitt, "Whiskey", an active-duty attorney for the Judge Advocate Generals Corps in the Air Force, has begun her own blog, JAG Wire. I heard about it from ol' whats-his-name at Power Line. It's a nicely designed Typepad site, and based on one whole day of blogging, looks to be well-written and insightful as well. (She's got the late-night blogging ritual down pat, so far.) Her first substantive post debunks the current meme on the need for a draft: So let me get this straight . . . we are going to stop offering incentives to volunteer and instead draft spoiled rich kids just to make sure all classes are represented? Its like some kind of twisted affirmative action program. And why does any of this matter when so many so-called upper class gentlemen (Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, I could go on ....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

New Blog: Friends of Saddam

If you are interested in following the burgeoning oil-for-food scam that the UN manipulated into multi-billion-dollar payoffs to Saddam Hussein and its own management, then you must add Friends of Saddam to your blogroll. Run by the Commissar but outside of his alter ego, Friends of Saddam will definitely be the central information resource for all UNSCAM developments. His latest post reviews an article from The Scotsman (UK), which details the efforts of Claude Hankes-Drielsma, the British investigator leading the corruption probe at the moment: Mr Hankes-Drielsma, an adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) who is overseeing an investigation by the forensic accountants KPMG, said: "From the evidence I have so far, the report will produce some of the most disturbing information that you have ever seen. "There is no question that where the evidence is beyond doubt, the US will take action to put people who defrauded the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

WaPo: Kerry Goes Wobbly

The Washington Post editorial board noticed a not-so-subtle shift in John Kerry's policy statements on Iraq. John Kerry has abandoned the goal of building a democracy in Iraq for mere "stability" to give expedient cover to a fast American retreat: "WE NEED A reasonable plan and a specific timetable for self-government" in Iraq, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said in December. "That means completing the tasks of security and democracy in the country -- not cutting and running in order to claim a false success." On another occasion, he said: "It would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops." Contrast that with what Mr. Kerry told reporters last week: "With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq. [Democracy] shouldn't be the measure of when...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Everything You Need To Know About UNSCAM

Claudia Rosett wrote a lengthy and detailed explanation for today's Commentary website which takes readers on a well-written tour of the disaster that the UN Oil for Food program became. Rosett, who has been tenacious in her investigative reporting on this subject for the Wall Street Journal, collects the sorry mess into a coherent and chronological narrative that lays out the scandal in devastating fashion (via Hugh Hewitt): The tale has been all very interesting, and all very complicated. For those who look yearningly to the UN for answers to the worlds problems, it has provoked, perhaps, some introspection about the pardonable corruption that threatens even the most selfless undertakings. For those who believe the UN can do nothing right, Oil-for-Food, whatever it was about, is a delicious vindication that everyone and everything at the world organization is crooked, the institution a fiasco, and politicians who support it fit for...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 22, 2004

Quagmire Alert (Again)

Do you want to talk quagmire? Then you must mean the Balkans, the real six-century quagmire, into which we injected ourselves nine years ago and have yet to bring the situation to a conclusion. In yet another indication that American and other international forces will be tied down for much longer than the government indicated when they were first deployed, the BBC reports today that the foreign minister of Serbia emphatically ruled out the possibility of independence for Kosovo, even though the ethnic Albanian majority eventually expect to rule their own nation: The new foreign minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Vuk Draskovic, has said an independent Kosovo is "impossible". Any attempt to form such a state would go against the wishes and rights of Serbs living there and would be very dangerous, he told the BBC. Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population want independence, but the Serbs are against it. ......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Bummer Of A Birthmark, Yasser (Part II)

The Israeli get-tough policy on terrorist leadership apparently has made its point -- Yasser Arafat, at least, has learned that the Israelis mean business: Yasser Arafat forced 20 fugitives hiding in his West Bank headquarters to leave the premises early Thursday, fearing the Israeli army would invade the complex to grab them, one of the departing fugitives said. The fugitives, all members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militant group linked to Arafat's Fatah faction, have been hiding from the army in Arafat's headquarters for months. Israel has repeatedly demanded they be kicked out. Israel has complained about Arafat's sheltering of al-Aqsa terrorists ever since he holed up in his Ramallah compound, but had always refused to give up his protection of his organization's men. AAMB, after all, belongs to Arafat's own Fatah faction of the PLO. However, after the elimination of Sheik Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, Arafat has...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Funny You Should Ask That

I'm speechless: A crow sitting on a utility pole triggered the third power failure in 10 days at Los Angeles International Airport, prompting security experts to ask whether the electrical grid serving the airport area is vulnerable to sabotage. Uh, gee ... ya think?...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

I'm With Stoopid

Normally I wouldn't post on something that the Best of the Web has already covered, mostly because I figure you'll have already seen it. However, this was just too delicious to ignore. This is the level of intelligence you see at anti-Bush protests these days: This guy can't even copy a bumper sticker without screwing up. Is this the poster boy for No Child Left Behind or what? He can't spell and doesn't know when to use an apostrophe, but he wants to call Bush an idiot. This picture should appear in Webster's Dictionary next to the definition of ironic. I'll bet he probably bought twenty copies of the paper and gave them to all his friends anyway... UPDATE: If you follow the link to the newspaper, you'll notice that I cropped the picture down a bit to focus on the sign in question. However, this hilarious photo essay from...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Don't Be Shy -- Tell Us How You Really Feel

You have to hand it to the Brits; they know how to do a newspaper war. In what must be the worst case of sour grapes on record, the owner of the Express -- who lost out on a chance to buy the Telegraph -- wound up goose-stepping, making Nazi salutes and engaging in a foul-mouthed tirade during a business meeting with Telegraph execs [I've redacted the expletives]: Express owner Richard Desmond today launched an extraordinary tirade against Telegraph bosses at a meeting of their joint venture print works, hurling a string of abuse and goosestepping around a boardroom in mockery of a German newspaper group's bid for the paper. In scenes that will shock the Conservative party he has just pledged to support, Mr Desmond branded the Telegraph chief executive, Jeremy Deedes, a "miserable little piece of s**t" and said Germans were "all Nazis". Bear in mind that both...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Drudge: Kerry Flipped On Abortion ... Long Ago

The Drudge Report has published a "developing" story that John Kerry has flip-flopped on abortion during his political career -- but the effect of this flavor of waffle will be muted or nonexistent: Kerry claimed in an interview he was "opposed to abortion." Kerry told the LOWELL SUN in October, 1972: "I would say also that it's a tragic day in the lives of everybody when abortion is looked on as an alternative to birth control or as an alternative to having a child. I think that's wrong. It should be the very last thing if it has to be anything, and I say that not just because I'm opposed to abortion but because I think that's common sense." Kerry declared: "I think the question of abortion is one that should be left for the states to decide." Drudge also reports that Kerry spoke with Sun reporter John Mullins in...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Spirit Of America

Rather than rewrite the moving explanation of Spirit of America, I'm going to just repost it here. You can donate here. I already have! US Marines seek to equip seven (7) television stations serving local communities within Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The Province includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. These stations will offer information that is more accurate and balanced than existing alternatives. The goal is to improve understanding between Americans and Iraqis, build trust and reduce tensions. Current TV news in Iraq often carries negative, highly-biased accounts of the U.S. presence. Unanswered, its effect is to stoke resentment and encourage conflict. The Marines seek to ensure the Iraqi people have access to better, more balanced information. By equipping local television stations and providing the ability to generate news and programming, the Marines will create a viable news alternative - one owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens. The...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Even Chirac Now Admits Iran Cheats

The New York Times reports today that Europe has slowly started to move towards the US position on Iran and its nascent nuclear program, as French president Jacques Chirac has now publicly chastised Iran's non-compliance: In a hardening of Europe's position toward Iran's nuclear activities, President Jacques Chirac of France criticized Iran on Wednesday for failing to comply fully with international inspections of its nuclear sites, and suggested that Iran had violated the spirit of an agreement with France, Germany and Britain to curtail its nuclear programs, senior French officials said. In a 45-minute meeting at lyse Palace with Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi of Iran, Mr. Chirac also warned Tehran that unless it met the demands of the United Nations' weapons inspection agency before that group gathers in June for what he called a "decisive" meeting, it ran the risk that international goodwill would be eroded. Better late than never,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

CQ: Watcher's Council Nomination

It's that time of the week again -- and the Watchers' Council has made their selections for the best posts around the blogosphere. Captain's Quarters received a nomination in the non-council category for my post on Bob Woodward's refutation of the Democrats' allegations of gasoline price-fixing conspiracies by the Bush Administration. Just to remind everyone, John Kerry has been expressing his "disgust" at this supposed secret deal that he claims Woodward described in his new book -- while Woodward denies saying anything like that. Make sure you get a chance to read the other nominated posts. By Friday, the winners will be announced after the Council vote. Hopefully, CQ comes out with a couple of "ayes"! UPDATE: Actually, I got 2 1/3 "ayes" and was selected the non-Council winner of this week's Watchers Council contest ... pretty cool! Patterico won the Council category with his post, Your Political Correctness or...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

OK, Now He's Against Gas Guzzlers

Oh, that wacky John Kerry! According to his campaign website, which copied a glowing Detroit Free Press article from February 1st, Kerry's principled stand on higher corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards has made him the "nemesis" of Michigan automakers, but damn it all, he stands firmly for the environment: However, Kerry's efforts over the years to raise fuel-efficiency standards could cause him problems among some Michigan voters. In a state that is home to the auto manufacturers, Kerry is well known for his fight to tighten these standards on cars and light trucks enough to produce a fleet average of 36 miles per gallon by 2015. That would be a dramatic increase from the current 27.5 m.p.g. now required. A measure that would have raised those standards to 40 m.p.g. failed last summer to pass the Senate, which instead required the Transportation Department to consider an array of issues...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 23, 2004

Gorelick: More Calls For Her Testimony

Eleven Republican Senators have now publicly called for 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick to resign her position on the panel and instead provide sworn testimony to the commission: Eleven Senate Republicans fired off a letter Thursday to the 9/11 commission demanding that Jamie Gorelick, a Democratic member of the panel, be forced to testify. The senators want Gorelick to testify about her role in strengthening the so-called "wall" between the FBI and CIA that some say hampered government efforts to prevent terrorist attacks. The letter, which was spearheaded by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, asserts that the commission's final report "will be incomplete without public testimony by Ms. Gorelick about her activities while serving as deputy attorney general" in the Clinton administration. "It is imperative the committee explore with Ms. Gorelick these many initiatives and procedures pursued at her direction and any analysis leading to their formulation," the letter said. Gorelick wrote...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Annan: Shoot the Critics

Predictably, when a bureaucracy comes under criticism, the bureaucrats respond by attacking the critics rather than addressing the issues. Kofi Annan heads the world's most unaccountable bureaucracy, and so his response to damaging revelations about the multibillion-dollar Oil-For-Food scam comes as no surprise: Secretary-General Kofi Annan accused critics of the U.N. oil-for-food program Thursday of treating allegations of corruption as fact and ignoring the program's role of providing aid to nearly every Iraqi family. Very much like OFF program Benon Sevan's dismissal of corruption, when he said that 90% of the money went where it was intended, so why all the fuss over the remaining 10%? The U.N. chief declared that he was "very keen" for the three-member panel led by former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to report "as soon as possible." And he promised that any U.N. official found guilty of accepting bribes or kickbacks would be...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Look For The Weasel Label

A Seattle company has surreptitiously added a message, in French, to labels on its laptop bags and backpacks apologizing for "our President" and claiming that they didn't vote for him (via Wonkette): Bihn's sales have doubled since a French-language presidential insult mysteriously made its way onto the bilingual washing instructions for hundreds of his laptop bags and backpacks. The labels read: "Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui." Translated into English: "We are sorry that our president is an idiot. We didn't vote for him." It's been a while since my high-school French classes, but I don't believe that the correct French idiom for voting is 'We don't have vote for him', which is how Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui literally translates. (It's the wrong tense, for one thing.) Nor is his wiggling about the meaning of the label convincing or...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Pat Tillman, American Patriot, KIA

I was in an office meeting most of this morning, and only got back to my desk at lunchtime. By that point, I had received several e-mails from friends around the blogosphere telling me that Pat Tillman had been killed in action in Afghanistan. After 9/11, Tillman left a multimillion-dollar contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, and all the potential endorsement contracts and all of the adulation, in order to fulfill his dream of serving his country in the Army Rangers while he was still young enough to enlist: Tillman, who was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment, was involved in a search-and-destroy mission in southeastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan, military officials told Fox News. The unit was acting on intelligence about possible Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters when a firefight erupted. Tillman was the only Ranger killed in his unit, although military officials said two other U.S....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

CNN Shills For Kerry?

An interesting thing happened to CNN's analysis of John Kerry and his allegations of widespread American atrocities in Vietnam. After setting up the story as an analysis of how Kerry's words affected Vietnam veterans then and continue to do so now, the story itself is almost entirely dedicated to Kerry's apologetics and pays scant attention to any veteran reaction: The strong, vivid words John Kerry uttered 33 years ago continue to ring through time. Back in 1971, the square-jawed, clean-cut decorated combat veteran, with a generous mop of dark hair, told a rapt audience of senators of atrocities he said had been reported to him by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. Rapes. Razed villages. Ears and heads cut off. Random shootings of civilians. Bodies blown up. Wires from portable telephones taped to genitals, with the power then turned on. Food stocks poisoned. Dogs and cats shot for the fun of...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Sessions: "A Problem With Confidence" in 9/11 Commission

CNN reports that Senator Jeff Sessions (R) has become the first Senator to publicly call for Jamie Gorelick to resign her seat on the 9/11 Commission due to the conflict-of-interest issues revolving around her role in barring intelligence and law-enforcement agents from sharing information: Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, called on Gorelick to resign, becoming the first senator to do so. He told CNN that such a move would help the commission salvage its credibility. "We have a little bit of a problem now with confidence in that commission," said Sessions. "For her to continue to play a key role in it when she herself really should be one of the people being reviewed is difficult for me to swallow." Gorelick, meanwhile, adamantly insists that she will not resign her seat, and so far has the backing of the Republican chair of the commission, Thomas Kean. However, ever since the release...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 24, 2004

Frist and Daschle: Splitsville?

It must be a slow day at the New York Times political desk. This morning's edition features a breathless story on how Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's campaigning in South Dakota on behalf of the Republican challenger to Minority Leader Tom Daschle breaks a long-held precedent of which everyone else is unaware: In a sharp break with political nicety and past practice, Dr. Frist, the majority leader from Tennessee, is planning to venture into the backyard of Mr. Daschle, the minority leader, in May on behalf of John Thune, a Republican hoping to unseat Mr. Daschle in what is expected to be a highly competitive race. It is an unusual move, especially given the extent to which the leaders must consult each other in a closely divided Senate. Experts in the Senate historical office could find no recent comparable example of one leader trying so aggressively to oust the other....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Phoenix Project Finally Makes the NY Times

After weeks of allowing Thomas Lipscomb and the New York Daily Sun to stand alone, the New York Times has finally decided to consider the notion that a presidential candidate once participated in assassination debates is news. David Halbfinger reviews the Phoenix Project in the much larger context of John Kerry's anti-war protest career but winds up, much like Candy Crowley's CNN piece yesterday, drifts towards apologetics rather than reporting (via Power Line). It starts off promising, though, raising questions about the Kerry campaigns attempts to pressure witnesses to stay silent or renounce their earlier statements: When questions were raised last month about whether a 27-year-old John Kerry had attended a Kansas City meeting of Vietnam Veterans Against the War where the assassination of senators was discussed, the Kerry presidential campaign went into action. It accepted the resignation of a campaign volunteer in Florida, Scott Camil, the member of the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Northern Alliance Special Guest Today!

Today, on the Northern Alliance Radio Network show (heard on AM 1280 The Patriot in the Twin Cities, and soon on the Internet to the world!), we have a special in-studio guest for our third hour. The Fraters Libertas gang has lined up Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000, who has graciously agreed to sit in with our line-up of fanboys. Because the Captain lost the coin-flip (and allegedly too closely resembles Dr. Clayton Forrester), I'll be banished to the Green Room during the third hour. So I will be live photoblogging Mike Nelson's visit on this post -- keep checking back during the show (12-3 CT) for updates! We will also be fortunate to have as call-in guests during the second hour Yale professor Charles Hill on John Kerry as a literary character, and Doug Tice from our local newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press. If you're in...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

NASA Panic Over Disaster Movie Gives Hollywood Too Much Credit

Tomorrow's New York Times features a story on a too-typical example of bureaucratic mountain-making from molehills, as NASA at first gagged its scientists from commenting on an upcoming movie that shows global warming causing a new Ice Age -- in five days: In "The Day After Tomorrow," a $125 million disaster film that is to open on May 28, global warming from accumulating smokestack and tailpipe gases sets off an instant ice age. Few climate experts think such a prospect is likely, especially in the near future. But the prospect that moviegoers will be alarmed enough to blame the Bush administration for inattention to climate change has stirred alarm at the space agency, scientists there say. "No one from NASA is to do interviews or otherwise comment on anything having to do with" the film, said the April 1 message, which was sent by Goddard's top press officer. "Any news...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

The Worst Damn Song, Period

Everybody's talking pop music this week, as the entertainment magazine Blender released its highly presumptuous list of the 50 Worst Songs Ever, in conjunction with an upcoming VH-1 special in May. (You can find the list itself here.) Once the list rolled out, everyone started talking about it, including my friends Mitch Berg and James Lileks, in his Backfence incarnation. In fact, over at Mitch's, we're starting a rhubarb on the merits of "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band. No, seriously. The problem with a list of 50 songs is that it will inevitably include something so stupid that it invalidates the entire exercise. It doesn't take long on this list, which mistakes mediocrity for badness. Even the #1 song on their Hit Parade, "We Built This City" by Starship, isn't bad as much as it was disappointingly commercial, from the remnants of what once was a great rock...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 25, 2004

Britain to Reject EU Sovereignty?

Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that the question of ratifying the proposed EU constitution, which would transfer limited sovereignty to the massive political organization, would be put directly to the voters through a referendum. Blair warned that a rejection of the referendum would isolate Britain from the Continent. According to polls, however, his argument has not made much of an impact: A majority of Britons would vote "no" in a referendum on a European Union constitution, seen as a political gamble for pro-European Prime Minister Tony Blair, according to polls published Sunday. An ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper found that the proposed EU constitution would be rejected by 68 percent of voters. Only 21 percent would back the treaty, it said. ... A second ICM poll, for the News of the World newspaper, reported that 55 percent of respondents would vote "no" on the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

California Health Department Asleep At The Switch

My hometown newspaper, the Orange County Register in California, has uncovered an embarassing scandal that will surely result in a few heads rolling in California. Health Services apparently knew for years that candy manufactured in Mexico and primarily marketed at Latino children had high enough levels of lead to cause poisoning, but did nothing about it: The poison arrives in an ice cream truck, "Happy Birthday to You" crackling from a single speaker wired to the roof. ... The ice cream man rests his elbows on the counter. Lopez's daughter Diana, a pigtailed 2-year-old, scans the bright pictures of treats. She doesn't want Drumsticks, Fudgsicles or Bomb Pops. Diana wants Mexican candy. Lopez has no idea that some of the imported candy on this truck is so laced with lead it can cause memory loss, behavioral problems and kidney damage if her daughter eats it regularly. The California Department of...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Friends of Saddam: What's New?

Stephen at Friends of Saddam, your one-stop clearingblog for all things Oil-For-Food scandal-related, has created a new Excel file listing the 270 recipients of Saddam's kickbacks. It makes for a handy guide, sortable by country, name, or amount received. A second tab breaks everything out by country. If you need data for a post on UNSCAM, this Excel file certainly provides the detail you need. Today, FoS also notes that Swiss criminal-law professor Mark Pieth has been selected as one of the independent experts to probe the OFF program. Pieth is an expert on money-laundering, a skill that will definitely figure into the probe, as a whole lot of money went a whole lot of places it shouldn't. Don't forget to blogroll Friends of Saddam and check back frequently for updates. If you use a news aggregator like I do, use their XML feed to get up-to-the-hour notices of new...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Why I Hate The Radical Left

Via Power Line, Portland IndyMedia provides a great example of the moral decay evident amongst the anarcho-socialist leftists (not the mainstream left -- there is a huge difference between the two). The headline on IndyMedia's post about the death of Pat Tillman? Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan Here's a few of the sentiments you can find among the International ANSWER crowd: maybe he should have intervened when the CIA was training, funding and equiping bin Laden and Al Qaeda during the 80s. that might have actually accomplished something. ... "Cottled [sic] sports star allows nationalism to foster jingoistic irresponsibility resulting in his death", or how about "Citizen of empire allows ignorance to cause him to die for imperialism", or maybe "Capitalist chooses to kill innocents instead of cashing check" ... Tillman chose to go to Afghanistan. He's partially reponsible for the deaths of hundreds, maybe thousands of Afghan civilians. No...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Drudge: Kerry Lied, Again

John Kerry told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that he had never even implied that he threw his own medals over the fence at the White House to protest the Vietnam War. However, Matt Drudge reports that ABC has video from 1971 that will prove Kerry lied: In an interview published Friday in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Dem presidential hopeful John Kerry claimed he "never ever implied" that he threw his own medals during a Hill protest in 1971 to appear as an antiwar hero. But a new shock video shows John Kerry -- in his own voice -- saying he did! ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA is set to rock the political world Monday morning with an airing of Kerry's specific 1971 boast, sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT. The video was made by a local news station in 1971. Can this man ever tell a straight story, for Pete's...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 26, 2004

Brownstein: Kerry Not Nuanced Enough

In today's Los Angeles Times, political reporter and Kerry supporter Ron Brownstein makes an unusual case that John Kerry eschewed nuance just when he needed it the most, as the late Randy Van Warmer once sang. Brownstein takes Kerry to task on the one issue where Kerry communicated a clear policy position, scolding him for being a bit too much like President Bush: Bush's meeting with Sharon seemed precisely the sort of unilateral, headstrong gesture that Kerry has in mind when he accuses Bush of pursuing the most arrogant and ideological foreign policy in U.S. history. So jaws dropped across Washington when Kerry responded with just one word after host Tim Russert asked him on "Meet the Press" whether he supported Bush's promises to Sharon. "Yes," Kerry said. "Completely?" Russert followed. "Yes," Kerry said again. Not much ambiguity there. Kerry probably hasn't answered an important question in so few words...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

A Whiff of Desperation at the Gray Lady

John Kerry's fumble on his medal-tossing incident has produced an aroma of desperation from the New York Times this morning, where an article titled "1971 Tape Adds to Debate Over Kerry's Medal Protest" broadens out inexplicably to cover a range of what reporters Jim Rutenberg and James Dao must feel are Kerry-friendly topics. First, Rutenberg and Dao hedge on calling Kerry a liar, even though their own reporting makes it clear that Kerry lied about the medals: The Kerry campaign Web site says it is "right-wing fiction" that he "threw away his medals during a Vietnam War protest." Rather, the Web site says, "John Kerry threw away his ribbons and the medals of two veterans who could not attend the event." But the issue is not so cut and dried. A television interview Mr. Kerry gave in November 1971 shows that Mr. Kerry himself fed the confusion from early on....

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Adventures in Headlining

The Sacramento Bee analyzed a Los Angeles Times poll (always a dangerous task) on gay marriage in a state with the nation's strongest gay movement. The results of the poll showed that less than a third of Californians supported legalizing same-sex marriage. However, the Sacramento Bee headlined the story thusly: Poll: Nearly one of three Californians favor gay marriage Wow -- nearly a third support gay marriage! That's about the same percentage that supported Cruz Bustamante in the recall election. I'm talking about the actual vote, not the LA Times' polling, which had both of them ahead until the final weekend before the vote -- labeling the race as "too close to call" just before Californians rejected Gray Davis by 10 points and Bustamante 48%-30%. "Nearly a third of all Californians" didn't help them much in the end. Talk about viewing the glass half-full! Who knew that the Sacramento Bee...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 27, 2004

NY Times Spreads Gossip, Tweaks Bush

Normally, newspapers print gossip -- unsubstantiated rumors that tend towards the salacious or damaging -- in specialty columns, such as the New York Post's Page 6 or the syndicated Liz Smith column. However, if the unsubstantiated and unsourced rumor involves high-ranking members of the Bush administration and can be used to tweak the president, the New York Times feels free to run gossip as a "news" story, as it does today regarding the latest (ho hum) Colin Powell rumor: Forget the official pronouncements that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is staying put at the State Department. The buzz in the capital is at least a couple of steps beyond that, as people in business and finance circles here are speculating that he could become the next president of the World Bank, the largest and most influential development agency in the world. The whispers only grew louder the other night...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Power Line Debunks D-Bunker - Again

My colleague Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson at Power Line provided a terrific look at the Orwellian nature of the Kerry campaign by posting two screenshots of Kerry's "D-Bunker" section of his website. The first screenshot showed the D-Bunker entry on the medal-tossing exploits of the presidential candidate before his ABC appearance, while the second showed an unannounced modification by Kerry's campaign. The difference? The updated D-Bunker entry had this phrase removed: John Kerry is proud of the work he did to end the Vietnam War, and he has been consistent about the facts and the symbolism of the medal-returning ceremony. This morning, Big Trunk notes that the changes go even further back than that, and directs readers to two blogs that captured what we think are the originals. Don't miss it!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Washington Post: Congress Fumbled on Intelligence

While the 9/11 Commission has publicly played a game of Pin The Blame On The Elephant, Dana Priest at the Washington Post puts together a devastating look at Congress' role in ignoring security threats and undermining the systems designed to detect them and protect the US: In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated waging war in Iraq, copies of a 92-page assessment of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction sat in two vaults on Capitol Hill, each protected by armed security guards and available to any member who showed up in person, without staff. But only a few ever did. No more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page National Intelligence Estimate executive summary, according to several congressional aides responsible for safeguarding the classified material. ... Committee members acknowledge in hindsight that they presided over damaging cuts in the CIA's operational budget over...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

AP: Massive Reductions In US Positions on SK DMZ?

The AP reports that the US will reduce its military presence in South Korea, including dramatic cuts in forces along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea, in a policy shift from the decades-long "tripwire" strategy that kept the million-man northern PRK army from invading the south: The United States will pull nearly all its troops from their last front-line positions along the tense frontier with communist North Korea by October as part of a force reshuffle on the divided Korean peninsula, the United Nations Command said Tuesday. Duties along the heavily fortified buffer, called the Demilitarized Zone, will be handed over to South Korea, which has 600,000 troops staring off against North Korea's 1.1-million member military, the world's fifth largest. While the US's popularity in South Korea has waned over the past couple of decades, they never really wanted to see us leave their defenses. The AP...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Making Market Sense of Wages and Prices As A System

When I want to read sensible explanations of a market economy, I turn to many sources, but one blogger in particular: Jon Henke at QandO. Jon posted a long essay today explaining why free-market mechanics work, using Wal-Mart as an example. One money graf -- quite literally -- is the most concise argument I've yet read regarding the pointlessness of artificial minimum-wage increases: We're a wage-earning society, but not we are not exclusively a wage-earning society. We are also a price-paying society, and if we pay attention to the income end of that fiscal balancing act, at the expense of our spending power, then we are simply engaging in a modern sort of mercantilism, wherein we think the consumer is wealthier if he has more money....even if that means he can't buy as much. Jon explains in detail why Wal-Mart is not the devil and why its continued success isn't...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

FactCheck.Org Missing Expertise on Defense Matters (plus "Captain Ed" Defined)

FactCheck.Org, run by the Annenberg Foundation, normally does a pretty good job of providing a balanced look at the controversies of the day and applies logic and facts instead of volume and hyperbole. However, in the case of FactCheck's defense of Kerry's own defense record, they made a monumental goof that deserves a solid response: It is true that when Kerry first ran for the Senate in 1984 he did call specifically for canceling the AH-64 Apache helicopter. What the ad lacks is the historic context: the Cold War was ending and the Apache was designed principally as a weapon to be used against Soviet tanks. And in fact, even Richard Cheney himself, who is now Vice President but who then was Secretary of Defense, also proposed canceling the Apache helicopter program five years after Kerry did. The short answer to this is that there was a huge difference between...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

WMD Not Missing At All

Ever since the David Kay interim report was released in December stating Kay's pessimism about ever finding actual weapons and chemical/biological agents, conventional wisdom has held that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction -- and in fact that our intelligence and that of most of the world was so faulty that we all missed Saddam's disarmament after the first Gulf War. Little attention has been given to the rest of Kay's report, which clearly laid out that Saddam had been in material violation of UNSC Resolution 1441 and the other sixteen which preceded it by hiding and maintaining the activities and systems which could quickly reconstitute WMD programs as soon as the heat was off. Now Kenneth Timmerman has provided a second look at the WMD question, informing us that WMD has indeed been found in Iraq -- even though our national media apparently prefers to stick with the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

I'm "Dark, Mysterious, and Introspective"

Yeah, well, it's going around, so I thought I'd take the Hugh Hewitt challenge and find out which Bob Dylan song I am. Now I have the results, and I still don't know what this means: Which Bob Dylan song are you?Ballad of a Thin ManClick Here to Take This QuizBrought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests. I think I need to consult with Big Trunk at Power Line to find out why ......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Captain's Caption Contest #7!

It's Friday -- time for a new Captain's Caption Contest! We have an intriguing selection by this week's guest judge, Gerbera Tetra, the place for bad commentary, bad ideas, bad motives and bad jokes. GT wants to challenge us all with this eerie image: You know what to do -- post your best caption lines in the comments section of this post (no e-mails, please), enter as often as you like, no purchase necessary, winner need not be present when selected, blah blah blah. We'll keep the contest open until Tuesday 4/27 6 PM CT, when GT will select the winners. Just remember -- if you want to win, don't hide your light under a bushel ... step out of the shadows and give it your best shot! BUMP 4/24: We already have a ton of great entries, but keep it up -- very impressive so far ... BUMP 4/25:...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

More Good Economic News

Consumer confidence and home sales continue to rise as more people find jobs, contributing to an undeniably growing economy: Home sales rose a strong 5.7% in March, according to the National Association of Realtors, and a second report said consumer confidence rose in April, driven primarily by increased faith in an employment recovery. The reports are more good news for an economy showing increasing signs of strength. The Conference Board, a private research firm, said its index of consumer confidence rose to 92.9 in April from a revised 88.5 in March. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the index to slip to 88.0. "The job market, which has a major impact on confidence, appears to be gaining strength," said Lynn Franco, director of research at the Conference Board's Consumer Research Center. "The percentage of consumers claiming jobs are hard to get is now at its lowest level since November 2002,...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

JFK on WMD: WTF?

John Kerry can't decide what he believes about the Iraqi WMD issue, on today's Hardball with Chris Matthews. First he says he agrees with Matthews that WMD didn't exist at the time of the invasion and leverages that into a tirade against the Bush administration's honesty -- but then he executes a curious, partial reversal, as Hugh Hewitt noted on his show tonight: Key portion of the Hardball exchange this evening: Matthews: "If there was an exaggeration of WMD, exaggeration of the danger, exaggeration implicitly of the connection to al Qaeda and 9/11, what's the motive for this, what's the 'why?' Why did Bush and Cheney and the ideolouges around take us to war? Why do you think they did it?" Kerry: "It appears, as they peel away the weapons of mass destruction issue, and --we may yet find them, Chris. Look, I want to make it clear: Who knows...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Caption Contest #7 Winners!

The judge has stepped out of the shadows to shine a light on the winners of this week's Caption Contest! For those of you who have forgotten, here's the picture: Gerbera Tetra has selected his favorite entries for this week's contest: Captain's Award (The Limited Salute) -- Todd Robins: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American, unless of course this offends someone in which case I will simply deny it later. And to the republic, for which it stands, one nation, under no ridiculous illusions of a higher moral power, with liberty and justice for any protected minority group. You Have The Conn #1 (You SOB Award) -- Scotty: In a move defending his ethnically challenged cabinet, Senator Kerry hires his own shadow to be his general secretary of urban music appreciation. When told that a dark shadow of a white man doesn't count as...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 28, 2004

More Problems at Err America

The gang at Air America just can't catch a break. First they lose access to the radio signal in the #2 and #3 markets, having to ask a judge to force the radio station to air their program -- and that only lasts until Friday. Now comes word that one of their founders has packed it up, decided that he doesn't care for the daily grind, and another executive has been "replaced" ... at least according to the FrankenNet spinners: In the latest development in what has become a chaotic inaugural month, Air America Radio is losing two of its top executives, including the network's co-founder. Mark Walsh, the former AOL executive and Democratic National Committee operative who announced the network's launch to much fanfare five months ago, said Monday that he has stepped down as chief executive officer. Separately, the network confirmed that Dave Logan, Air America's vice president...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Be Careful What You Wish For

George Bush must be pleased to see the results from Pennsylvania's primary election last night, which saw the candidate he personally endorsed, incumbent moderate Arlen Specter, narrowly edge out conservative challenger and current Congressman Pat Toomey by two points, which amounted to less than 17,000 votes. Bush went to Pennsylvania to campaign for Specter's re-election and threw the weight of the state and national GOP behind Specter's run. After all, Specter represents so many of the things that Bush wants: He supports abortion rights, voted against limiting medical malpractice awards and successfully pushed for a reduction in the size of Bush's tax cut package back in 2001, though he voted for the tax cuts in the end. ... He has also questioned provisions in the Patriot Act, which Bush has been pushing to renew. Well, then, Toomey represented a real threat to Bush's legislative initiatives after re-election ... right? A...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Democratic Dirty-Tricks Campaign To Target NY Convention

The New York Times runs a story today on a campaign by anti-Bush protestors to infiltrate the Republican Convention in New York by signing up as volunteers, and then doing their best to disrupt the event -- a clear sign of both desperation and of a lack of respect for the political process: "Really?" said Kevin Sheekey, president of the New York City Host Committee, when told that protesters were talking about flooding the ranks of volunteers to disrupt convention operations. The city is obligated to find a total of 8,000 New Yorkers to volunteer to help things run smoothly, and would-be protesters are hoping that by signing up, they can work from the inside during the convention, scheduled Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. For some reason, the Times headlines this article "G.O.P. Protesters Plan to Infiltrate Convention as Volunteers," leaving the impression that the protestors are Republicans. However, even...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Whither the Hero?

Reader Limpet6 e-mailed me a link to a fine article, originally from the Naval Institute, on the attention paid to victims at the expense of heroes in the war on terror. Captain Roger Lee Crossland, a SEAL reserve officer, notes that in previous conflicts Americans knew the heores of the age as household names: In earlier times, the American public could recite names such as Boatswains Mate Reuben James, Lieutenant William Cushing, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, Sergeant Alvin York, Mess Attendant Dorie Miller, and Sergeant Audie Murphy as easily as they could their own home addresses. The individual heroes of the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, generally are unknown. Deluged by lengthy, detailed stories of the extreme efforts taken by terrorists, we have heard little of the extreme efforts taken by members of the U.S. armed forces. In his article, Captain Crossland places the blame for this point at...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Patriot Forum Tonight

Well, we're trying this again ... the First Mate and I will be at the Patriot Forum (sponsored by our radio station, AM 1280 The Patriot) in Bloomington, MN to see Michael Medved! The Northern Alliance will be represented by Mitch Berg, The Elder, Saint Paul, and myself, and perhaps a few others as we provide "security" for the event. (Translation: we stand at the door and tell everyone to wait until the dining room is open.) I'm taking my camera and hope to post a few pictures when I get back. In the meantime, I want to thank everyone who's helped Captain's Quarters get past the 200,000 visitor mark, as of yesterday. Thank you and keep coming back! UPDATE: No pictures (sorry), but Michael Medved was fabulous! Both The Patriot and Michael himself went way out of their way to mention the Northern Alliance, and we got a nice...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kofi Annan Endorses Unilateral Action By Anglo-American Alliance

Under pressure from the revelation of what may be the largest corruption case in history, Kofi Annan attempted to strike back at critics of the UN and the Oil-For-Food program, asserting that member nations never alerted Annan to the smuggling and the kickbacks that stuffed Saddam's pockets: Annan pointed out that all members of the U.N. Security Council were on the committee overseeing the program, yet none had come forward and said "we had a role." Instead, Annan said, all accusations of wrongdoing were being leveled at the U.N. Secretariat which he heads. "Be that as it may, these allegations are doing damage, and we need to face them sternly and do whatever we can to correct them," he said. "And we are beginning to put out quite a lot of information which I hope will correct some of the misinformation that has been put out." Annan wants to play...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 29, 2004

Fallujah As Microcosm of the War on Terror

For 24 days, the US Marine Corps has surrounded Fallujah, the center of a nagging insurgency that made headlines when their successful ambush of four contractors turned into a macabre party, with people literally tearing the bodies to pieces in front of reporters and photographers. However, the US has been reluctant to move past siege status for a number of reasons, as this Los Angeles Times article states: The plans have been laid, the troops are positioned, and all is ready for a massive Marine assault on Fallouja and with it the long-dreaded prospect of major urban warfare in Iraq. "We got the last unit in place today. We're tightening the noose," Col. John Toolan declared with grim satisfaction, standing on the roof of the Marine command post at the edge of the volatile Sunni Muslim city on Wednesday as occasional hostile rounds zinged overhead and American tanks rumbled...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Insurgency Led By Saddam Remnants: Pentagon

The New York Times confirms that Pentagon analysts have concluded that the apparatus of the Saddam Hussein regime has financed, advised, and even led the insurgencies inside Iraq. In fact, intelligence shows that the insurgencies are the result of pre-war planning, as many had suspected: A Pentagon intelligence report has concluded that many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad. The report states that Iraqi officers of the "Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch," known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq. In addition, suicide...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Al Franken: Neanderthal Man

The London Telegraph has uncovered new evidence as to why Al Franken is such an unpleasant little man: Evidence that the life of Neanderthal man was short and probably nasty, is published today. Short ... nasty ... Al! The Telegraph includes some convincing visual evidence as well: Of course, the good news is that the Neanderthals eventually went away, which may be happening soon with Al, if Err America keeps going the way it has been .......

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Whiskey

I've received e-mail regarding the sudden disappearance of JAG Wire, a fresh new blog by Whiskey, an active-duty officer serving overseas for her country. I can tell you that Whiskey herself is just fine and that she will soon be back to blogging, although under different circumstances, probably in a week or so. I will post an announcement as soon as she's okayed it. Stay tuned!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Kerry's Diversity Problem, Part II

CNN's Inside Politics continues its look at the Kerry campaign's diversity problems, which I described on the air on the Northern Alliance Radio Network as The Incredible Whiteness of Being. Since Carlos Watson's original piece appeared on CNN talking about the fact that almost all of his campaign's decision-making positions have been filled with Caucasians, representatives from traditionally Democratic minority groups have begun to make their displeasure known. Typically, the same people who would scream bloody murder if Bush's campaign or his cabinet had a similar composition are now busy making excuses for Kerry: Some black officials and independent analysts expressed concerned about the campaign's lack of racial diversity. Campaign officials and the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus said the criticism was unfounded. "I am concerned about diversity, but more importantly I am concerned about the experience in that diversity -- senior policy people who know people from one...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Sinclair Group: Koppel's Plan "Political Statement", Pre-Empts Nightline

Bloomberg reports that the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 62 ABC affiliates, will preempt the Nightline broadcast when Ted Koppel spends the hour reading off the names of American servicemen killed in Iraq: Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. ordered its ABC affiliates to preempt tomorrow's broadcast of "Nightline,'' which will air the names and photos of U.S. military personnel who have died in combat in Iraq, saying the move is politically motivated. "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq,'' the company said in a faxed statement. Sinclair, which owns 62 U.S. television stations, said ABC is disguising political statements as news content. Many readers may not recall this, but during the Teheran hostage crisis, Dan Rather traveled to the Iranian capitol in order to televise interviews with the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Coincidence?

The BBC reports that US analysis shows international terror attacks declined last year and the number of civilian deaths at a 30-year low: US government figures suggest that terrorist attacks have fallen to the lowest level for more than 30 years. The annual report records a slight fall in the number of international attacks last year and a dramatic decrease in the number of victims. The report says that less than half the number of people lost their lives in such attacks last year compared with the year before. Attacks in Iraq have not been counted as terrorist attacks, primarily due to the targeting of military assets rather than civilians. Cofer Black, the State Department spokesman, credited improved international cooperation against terrorism, especially crediting Saudi Arabia. Malaysia also received praise for its cooperation, as CNN reports, and progress noted in both Libya and the Sudan. The State Department reports that...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Watchers Council Announces Winners and Open Seat

The Watchers Council has spoken again this week, and the winners are King of Fools in the Council category for his post on creating terrorists, and Kim du Toit in the non-Council category for his weekly rant on Dubya the "dummy". My post on Kerry's prime-time paranoid waffling about WMD got an honorable mention ... and one-third of a vote. Lo, have the mighty fallen! It's an honor just to be nominated, of course. The Watcher also announced that the Council has an open seat due to the resignation of the Hawken Blog, who has an acute case of life and needs to reduce his blog load. I'd volunteer, but with the workload I already have, it's just not possible. Be sure to read the rules and let the Watcher know if you'd like to join up. It looks like tremendous fun!...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

April 30, 2004

Kerry's Diversity Problems Grow: NYT

In a sign that John Kerry may be experiencing some real damage from his monochromatic senior campaign staff, the New York Times covers criticism from minority groups on the Kerry campaign's lack of diversity in much greater detail than CNN's article from yesterday. The normally supportive Jodi Wilgoren writes in today's Times that not only is the protest more widespread than CNN reported, but more passionate as well: For weeks, Senator John Kerry savored a Democratic Party that was unified in rallying behind his presidential candidacy. But in recent days, influential black and Hispanic political leaders whom the campaign had counted on for support have been openly complaining that Mr. Kerry's organization lacks diversity and is failing to appeal directly to minority voters. Even as Mr. Kerry spoke here on Thursday to the National Conference of Black Mayors an appearance his community outreach team viewed as critical to building...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Teamsters Anti-Corruption Team Resigns, Blames Hoffa

In a move that threatens to delay the end of federal control of the largest American union, 20 investigators and lawyers assigned to fight corruption in the Teamsters followed the example of their leader, Edwin H. Stier, and walked off the job. The New York Times reports that union president James Hoffa, Jr frustrated investigators who got too close to high-ranking members of the union: The former prosecutor, Edwin H. Stier, sent a sharply worded letter that accused James P. Hoffa, the Teamsters president, of blocking a broad investigation into possible union corruption in Chicago and of dragging his feet in a case of alleged embezzlement by a Teamsters leader in Houston. "In spite of our efforts to convince General President Jim Hoffa to remain committed to fighting corruption," Mr. Stier wrote, "I have concluded that he has backed away from the Teamsters' anticorruption plan in the face of pressure...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

And Now, Today on Dr. Howard, People Who Shout "YEEARGH!"

Matt Drudge reports on the nadir of Howard Dean's trajectory in what was supposed to be his triumphant march to the Democratic nomination. Instead, Dr. Dean may trade in politics to signify the end of his career as surely as a previous generation's Vegas shows marked the end of theirs: While everything's still in the early talking stages, the former Democratic presidential candidate is mulling the idea of hosting his own syndicated gabfest. He's hooked up with ex-Big Ticket TV topper Larry Lyttle ("Judge Judy") and longtime political consultant Gerald Rafshoon, who would likely serve as exec producers of a pilot for any such project. ... "The last thing we're going to talk about is politics," Lyttle said. "We'd talk about a myriad of other things instead of politics. He'd look at things like, What happens if you lose a sibling? What about when you're victimized by not having health...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

It's Not Just Bombs and Bullets

The New York Times shines a light on a little-mentioned facet of the Bush adminsitration's approach to combating terrorism. While wars and captures understandably occupy the headlines, the strategy also works towards building stronger relationships with Muslims in areas where we can provide humanitarian assistance: From remote Siyu, investigators say, the bombing of a Mombasa hotel that catered to Israeli tourists, and the simultaneous failed attempt to shoot down an Israeli-chartered airliner, were planned in 2002. The well is one of many public works projects being undertaken by the American military throughout the Horn of Africa aimed at changing the locals' view of a country many of them had learned to hate. "The war on terrorism is not necessarily a shooting war," said Maj. W. Brice Finney, commander of theArmy's 412th Civil Affairs Battalion. Still, these are good deeds with a strategic edge. The main purpose is to monitor the...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Did Chris Matthews Equate Bush and Cheney to the Menendez Brothers?

I received an e-mail from reader Vayapaso who regularly watches the Imus show on MS-NBC. Today's guest was Chris Matthews, who infuriated Vayapaso by equating George Bush and Dick Cheney with the notorious parricidal killers, Lyle and Eric Menendez. Here's an excerpt from her e-mail to Matthews, which she copied to me as well: Dear Mr. Mathews: I rarely ever write to people in your industry but you said something this morning on the Imus show that shocked and amazed me; so much so, I had to write you. It was when you compared the President and Vice President to the Menendez Brothers. I realize that your philosophy differs from this administration but there should be a line that you should not cross over and I believe that you crossed that line. I have watched you for the seven years you have had Hardball and felt that even though you...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »

Becoming What You Oppose

The new nation of Macedonia, eager to prove its anti-terror chops on the world stage, made much of stopping a terrorist cell in its capitol city of Skopje, killing seven Pakistanis identified as terrorists conspiring to attack embassies and diplomats throughout the country. However, prompted by US intelligence agencies that remained skeptical of the plot, Macedonian authorities have discovered that several police officers and a businessman smuggled the Pakistanis into Macedonia to act as clay pigeons: Macedonian police gunned down seven innocent immigrants, then claimed they were terrorists, in a killing staged to show they were participating in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, authorities said Friday. Police spokeswoman Mirjana Konteska told reporters that six people, including three former police commanders, two special police officers and a businessman, have been charged by police with murder. ... She described a meticulous plan to promote Macedonia as a player in the fight against...

« March 2004 | May 2004 »