« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 1, 2004

Ukrainian Rada Tosses Out Yanukovych Government

Ukraine's Parliament, called the Rada, has voted to oust the government of Prime Minister and nominal winner of the presidential election Viktor Yanukovych in a secret ballot, attempting to force an end to the political crisis that has gripped the former Soviet republic for ten days: Ukraine's parliament Wednesday voted to sack the government of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich to help end a political crisis triggered by his contested election last month as president. In parliament, 229 deputies, three more than required, voted in favor of sacking Yanukovich, declared winner in the Nov. 21 election, denounced by opposition rival Viktor Yushchenko as being tainted by fraud. Deputies also voted to create an interim "government of national trust. This resolution may prove to be of little value; as I've mentioned before, Ukraine's PM is appointed by the executive, not the legislature as in other parliamentary democracies. However, what essentially amounts to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Willingham's Defenders Play The Race Card

After three seasons of frustration, punctuated by un-Irish-like blowouts in big games, Notre Dame fired Ty Willingham as its football coach yesterday. Those of us who have watched as the program continued its slide into mediocrity had no illusions about Willingham's status; Irish coaches are expected to win, and certainly not allowed to get blown out of games with traditional rival USC. After the third straight 31-point loss to the Trojans and the second blowout loss this year, anyone who couldn't see this as the end point doesn't know Notre Dame football. However, that hasn't stopped people from speculating that the Irish fired Willingham because of his race. Understandably, people are sensitive to the lack of African-American head coaches in the NCAA; at the beginning of the season, Willingham was one of only eight, an embarrassing number in a division with 117 head-coaching positions. After the usual exits at the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Barghouti Reconsiders

Last week I posted about jailed Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti declining to run for the Palestinian presidency. His decision caught me by surprise, as I expected Barghouti to use a presidential campaign to embarrass his Israeli jailers, who convicted him of terrorist acts as the chief of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (now renamed the Yasser Arafat Martyrs Brigade). His withdrawal appeared to hold out promise that the Palestinians had finally gotten serious about pursuing peace with Israel. Apparently, my analysis was a bit too optimistic: Associates of Marwan Barghouti said Wednesday that the jailed Palestinian uprising leader has decided to run for president, reversing an earlier decision and throwing Palestinian politics into disarray. ... Barghouti's decision came after he met with his wife and two senior Palestinian officials at an Israeli prison where he is serving multiple life sentences, the associates said on condition of anonymity. Hmmm. The Palestinians either...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Schroeder Goes Out On A Creaky Limb With Russia

CQ reader Ken Powell directs us to a new English-language version of the German news magazine Der Spiegel, which reports in its latest edition on the diplomatic razor-dance Gerhardt Schroeder has performed lately between the United States, Russia, and the rest of Europe. According to DS, Europeans have become increasingly disenchanted with Schroeder's apologism for Vladimir Putin and accuse him of sacrificing the democratic ideals over which he scolded George Bush for a pocketful of Russian Euros: Worldwide criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin is mounting -- leaders increasingly doubt his democratic credentials. Except Gerhard Schroeder that is. The German Chancellor continues to stand by his friend and business partner. It may soon get him into trouble. ... The most-recent questions surrounding the Schroeder-Putin courtship surfaced last week. Following energetic attempts by Putin to influence the elections in Ukraine -- including massive financial support and campaign appearances supporting government candidate...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Compromise In Ukraine?

The French press service AFP and Postmodern Clog both report that an agreement has been reached between the Ukrainian government of Leonid Kuchma and opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko to bring the standoff in Kyiv to an end: Outgoing President Leonid Kuchma said the two rivals agreed with the help of foreign mediators to let the court pass judgment on the November 21 vote and then jointly figure out how to resolve independent Ukraine's worst political crisis. But most agreed that another poll was inevitable and the European Union's troubleshooter Javier Solana said that a month would be needed to set a date for another election -- the third since November 30. According to AFP, Kuchma finally acknowledged that the election suffered from massive fraud but doesn't quote him on that admission. The agreement supercedes the Rada vote dissolving the Yanukovych government and lays the groundwork for constitutional changes diluting the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Let's Hear The Clintons Explain This

ABC News reports tonight that oil shipping records show that the fugitive financier pardoned by Bill Clinton in the last hours of his presidency played a significant role in Saddam's fleecing of the UN Oil-For-Food program. Marc Rich, who received a pardon from Clinton despite being on the run and over the objections of the Department of Justice, provided a middleman for Hussein and major oil companies looking to keep their hands clean from scandal: Former American fugitive Marc Rich was a middleman for several of Iraq's suspect oil deals in February 2001, just one month after his pardon from President Clinton, according to oil industry shipping records obtained by ABC News. And a U.S. criminal investigation is looking into whether Rich, as well as several other prominent oil traders, made illegal payments to Iraq in order to obtain the lucrative oil contracts. "Without that kind of middleman, the system...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Cannabis Use Leads To Higher Risk Of Psychosis

The Guardian (UK) reports that a new study of habitual marijuana users run a higher risk for psychosis, which in younger smokers could result in a 25% increase in the onset of mental illness: Some young people who smoke cannabis are at real risk of developing psychotic mental illness, according to a major study announced yesterday. The new survey of 2,500 young people aged 14 to 24 will be discussed at the start of an international conference today on cannabis and mental health convened by the Institute of Psychiatry in London. It shows that regular cannabis smoking increased the risk of developing psychosis by 6% over four years. But there was a substantially greater impact on young people who had already been identified by psychiatrists as having the potential to become psychotic. Regular cannabis smoking raised their risk of developing psychotic mental illness by 25%. This new study will have...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 2, 2004

UN Lacks Authority For Comprehensive Iran Inspections Regime

In a blow to the entire concept of inspections regimes, UN diplomats admitted to Reuters that the UN lacks any authority to inspect areas not explicitly declared by Iran as nuclear sites. While nations collect intelligence detailing Iranian nuclear activities at new locations and the stripping of those facilities that have been declared by Iran, the UN can do little but ask Iran for permission to see for themselves: Inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog would like to visit a secret military site in Iran that an exile group said was a nuclear weapons site, but they lack the legal authority to go there, U.N. diplomats told Reuters. ... The New York Times reported Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes satellite photographs show that high explosives are being tested and that procurement records show equipment has been bought that can be used for making bomb-grade uranium, citing...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Tenet Joins Fight Against 9/11 Intelligence Reform

As the debate grows on the 9/11 intelligence-reform bill and the voices of political correctness face increasing challenge, George Tenet added his own voice to the opposition. The Washington Post reports that Tenet objects to severing a national intelligence "czar" from the operatives who collect and analyze the data with an extra level of bureaucracy, a point I made at the time the commission released its report: Former CIA director George J. Tenet yesterday criticized an intelligence restructuring bill's plan to create a director of national intelligence, saying it would separate the new intelligence chief from direct control over the case officers and analysts who are overseas and "taking risks." ... A senior administration official echoed that position privately yesterday, asking "who will brief Congress and the president" under the new proposal? "Since the CIA director would continue to supervise all-source intelligence analysis within the government," said this official, who...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Giving Conservatives A Bad Name

An Alabama lawmaker apparently wants to confirm every stereotype available of conservatives, Christians, and the South by proposing a sweeping ban of books that contain gay characters. Rep. Gerald Allen wants such literary materials pulled from public libraries and universities that use public funds: An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries. A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for "the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the "homosexual agenda." ... Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed. "I guess we dig a big hole and dump...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Protocols Of The Soulless Of Groningen

Hugh Hewitt addresses the Groningen Protocol debate in his latest Weekly Standard on-line column, "Death By Committee". Hugh has led what little media attention that Groningen Academic Hospital's announcement of killing four babies has generated, and he marvels at the sharp outbreak of widespread apathy he sees: Incredibly, the nation's elite media has turned a collective blind eye to this story, though the Los Angeles Times did, on the day following the Drudge headline, find time to put on the paper's front page, above the fold, the story that Salmon and Steelhead May Lose Protection, but not a column inch of ink for a radical leap past Kevorkian land into the regions of Mengele. LAST WEEK I marveled at the casual manner with which the Target Corporation announced that the Salvation Army could no longer place its kettles and ring its bells outside the giant retailer's 1,500+ stores. It was...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Manifesto Of Irrelevancy, As Suspected

Earlier this week, when the New York Times provided analysis of the report from a blue-ribbon panel appointed by Kofi Annan to recommend changes to the United Nations, I expressed a great deal of skepticism about the result. Others, including Glenn Reynolds, noted that the report appeared to legitimize pre-emptive military action, in Glenn's case based on a quick analysis by the University of Pittsburgh law school. However, in reading the actual report, it's clear that the UN intends on stripping nations of their sovereign right to defend themselves by requiring Security Council approval for any pre-emptive military action. A read through paragraphs 188 - 198 demonstrates that the panel basically took John Kerry's global test and plugged it into their report: 189. Can a State, without going to the Security Council, claim in these circumstances the right to act, in anticipatory self-defence, not just pre-emptively (against an imminent or...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Boxer Goes Pro With Her Fiction

The AP reports that Barbara Boxer has broadened her fantasy world beyond her Senate voting record. Boxer will publish her first novel next autumn, a thriller with a leftist Senate heroine and an eeeeeeeeeevil conservatives as antagonists: Infighting and power, alliances and revenge it's just another day in the Capitol. California Sen. Barbara Boxer has mined her workplace for a suspense novel in which the main character is an activist senator who does battle with right-wing ideologues. That may sound familiar to anyone who knows the liberal Democrat's record. But Boxer said the as-yet-unnamed novel, her first, is purely a work of fiction, though the characters and scenes are drawn from her 12 years in the Senate. "A lot of what is in the book clearly comes from my world," Boxer said. "The clash of the political and the personal, it became very interesting to me, and the role...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Palestinian Leadership Opposes Barghouti

In a sign that the Palestinians may finally be getting serious about making peace and establishing a stable state in the West Bank, leading Palestinians spoke out against the announced candidacy of Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist mastermind currently serving multiple life sentences in Israel. The New York Times reports in tomorrow's edition that influential Palestinians openly rejected Barghouti's entry into the presidential election: Senior Palestinian figures in the main political group, Fatah, closed ranks on Thursday against the on-again off-again presidential candidacy of the popular Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison. The old guard was joined by some prominent younger Fatah militants of Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, who once saw Mr. Barghouti, 45, as their leader, but now criticize him for putting himself above Palestinian unity. Outspoken opposition from Israel, including a refusal to release Barghouti and to use him as a negotiating partner,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 3, 2004

Ukrainian Rada Presses To Abandon Iraq

In an unpleasant side effect of an otherwise delightful progression of open democracy in Ukraine, the newly-emboldened Rada demanded that the Kuchma government withdraw Ukraine's 1600-troop contingent from Iraq, an unwelcome development so close to the Iraqi elections: Ukraine's parliament voted to demand the withdrawal of the 1,600 Ukrainian troops from Iraq, the Interfax news agency reported. The lawmakers voted by 257 out of 397 present in the 450-member chamber to ask outgoing President Leonid Kuchma to pull out the Ukrainian contingent serving in the US-led coalition force in Iraq. The demand mirrors opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko's campaign position on the war and demonstrates the level of support and courage the Orange Movement has gained in the assembly. As a vote of no-confidence for Kuchma, it's pretty convincing -- roughly a 5:3 ratio of those members in attendance and a 55% majority overall. It gives more evidence that the credibility...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Bush Picks Up Myers' Support For Intelligence Bill

George Bush has decided to make another push to get the intelligence-reform bill through Congress, and he now has new support to undercut objections from GOP House members that have blocked its passage. Joint Chiefs chair General Richard Myers, whose objections have been used to stall the bill from coming to the house floor, announced yesterday that a Congressional conference session addressed all of his concerns and that he now supports its passage: An Oct. 21 letter written by Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has until now been used by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to strengthen opposition to the measure on the ground that it could harm the country's war fighters. ... "The issue that I commented on, I understand, has been worked satisfactorily in the conference report," Myers said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "That...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Who Hired Cornelia Spinner?

Washington DC often complains about its Constitutional status as a protectorate of the federal government and its inability to produce representation to Congress. The city has long campaigned for statehood, a move resisted by a Congress loathe to go through an amendment process and blocked by Republicans who see no need to give Democrats two easy seats in the Senate. Washingtonians don't make their case any easier with their inept management of their city government, either; they notoriously continued to elect Marion Barry to leadership positions despite the repeated embarrassment he caused in office. The Washington Times reports this morning on another scandal to hit DC. The former director of their education office, who resigned in scandal after an audit found fraudulent travel reimbursements and misuse of federal funds, managed to get another job in education with the city at a six-figure salary -- and no one can figure out...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Hamas Softens Its Stance On Israel

For the first time, Hamas announced that the radical terrorist group would work towards coexistence with Israel and support a Palestinian state in the West Bank, even as their leader called it a "stage", the AP reports from Ramallah: In an apparent change in long-standing policy, a top Hamas leader said Friday the militant group would accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as a long-term truce with Israel. ... "Hamas has announced that it accepts a Palestinian independent state within the 1967 borders with a long-term truce," Sheik Hassan Yousef, the top Hamas leader in the West Bank, told The Associated Press, referring to lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. Yousef said the Hamas position was new and called it a "stage." In the past, Hamas has said it would accept a state in the 1967 borders as...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

2004 Weblog Awards: Voting Begins! (Update)

Kevin Aylward at Wizbang has the 2004 Weblog Awards polls up and running, and blog enthusiasts can cast one vote per day per category. Captain's Quarters has been included as a finalist in at least one category, Best Conservative Blog, and in the extremely early stages, I have a small lead over some very tough competition. I may qualify for one more, Best of the Top 100, although that may wind up capturing some who didn't make the cut in other specific categories. I'll double-check later. (I am a contributor for a group blog, Blogs for Bush, that received at least two nominations in other categories.) I hope you'll take a look at the embarrassment of riches Kevin supplies for people to explore the blogosphere in more depth. Later on I may publish my votes in different categories, but for now I just want to congratulate those who have been...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Ukrainian Supreme Court Invalidates Election

The Ukrainian Supreme Court has invalidated the second round of the presidential election that has led to a ten-day political crisis in the former Soviet republic. Its ruling also dealt a blow to recent political machinations by the outgoing Leonid Kuchma government by setting a new runoff election between Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko for December 26th: The Supreme Court declared the results of Ukraine's disputed presidential run-off election invalid and ruled Friday that a repeat vote should be held by Dec. 26, bringing cheers from tens of thousands of opposition supported massed in Kiev's main square. The short timeframe set for a new vote appeared to rule out the possibility of holding an entirely new election, as sought by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma. Unless Kuchma can get the Rada to overrule the Supreme Court on the election timing, this decision essentially checkmates Kuchma and Yanukovych. No one believes that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Ed Rendell Puts The Anal In Analysis

Jim Geraghty at the Kerry Spot points out an example of Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell's brilliance on the Paula Zahn show last night. In discussing the results of the presidential election, the Democrat offered this jaw-dropping analysis (emphasis mine): ZAHN: The president also relied on inside-the-beltway talent. Was the difference Karl Rove and he just had a better strategy? It's not like the president didn't rely on people who live in that neck of the woods. RENDELL: Yes, although I think the Republicans do a much better job of listening to the grassroots, of listening to the constituents, of listening to people from all different geographic areas, and we don't. Now, look, I'm not going to wring my hands over this election. If 9/11 had never happened, John Kerry would be president-elect today. I have no doubt about that. Wow -- what a breakthrough in political analysis! If only history...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Brave Sir Robin Wonders At Snub (Updated!)

The Star Tribune reports that Senator Mark Dayton alleges that Republicans denied him a trip to Iraq in order to undermine his chances for re-election in 2006. Dayton cannot comprehend a single reason why Republicans would have bypassed him for a slot on the fact-finding tour and the denial of permission to travel separately: Sen. Mark Dayton wants to make a return trip to Iraq, but his request has been denied, the Minnesota Democrat said Wednesday. Dayton speculated that his request was denied by the Senate Armed Services Committee because he has criticized President Bush's handling of the war and because he's up for reelection in 2006. "Either one of those reasons is absolutely wrong, and unjust and unwarranted, and I regret very much the committee's decision," he said in a conference call with reporters. Perhaps he should re-read the transcripts from his participation in the Abu Ghraib hearings in...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Welcome To Terroristland! It's A Small World (Domination) After All

The London Telegraph reports that Afghanistan plans to make money off of the war that liberated the country from the oppressive rule of the Taliban -- by transforming the notorious hideout of al-Qaeda in the mountains into a tourist trap: The Afghan authorities plan to invigorate the country's fledgling tourist industry by developing Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora mountain hideout as a visitor attraction. Dr Hassamuddin Hamrah, the man in charge, believes that the caves which once housed bin Laden and his fighters, together with the remains of mangled Russian tanks and crashed helicopter gunships from the 1980s, will prove a tourist magnet. ... "We have plans to make a tourist site at the Tora Bora caves. Many Americans wish to go there," Dr Hamrah said. "Our main problem is lack of budget so we are approaching the private sector. We request that anybody, any company, who is interested should...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Another Spirit Of America Update

I want to thank everyone who's already donated to the Spirit of America Blogger Challenge on behalf of the Northern Alliance. So far, our team has raised over $7,000, most of that before the challenge had even officially begun. Our competition now is Castle Arrgh!, a team that has raised over $3,000. It all goes to an excellent organization that helps American servicepeople to rebuild Iraq, both physically and in friendship with the United States. Please give what you can to this worthy charity....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 4, 2004

The Chinese Indulge In Self-Delusion

In contradiction to earlier reports, China will not allow foreign newspapers to circulate in the Communist nation, which has long tried to close itself off from Western influences. However, they will permit foreign publications to take advantage of cheap Chinese labor and print their newspapers strictly for export: Foreign newspapers have been given the green light to print in China but they will not be allowed to circulate on the domestic market. "Foreign newspapers can be printed in China, but all should be exported," Zhu Weifeng, an official with the State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA) told the China Business Weekly. This "means they are made for export for an international market, so not one copy should be left to enter the Chinese market ... the circulation of overseas newspapers will remain forbidden in China, in the near future." Beijing has to be in full-blown denial if they really think...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

What's The Strib Afraid Of?

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune unleashes its venom on Senator Norm Coleman, who had the audacity (in the Strib's view) to demand accountability from the United Nations and its leader, Kofi Annan. Indulging in its usual namecalling by labeling Coleman an "embarrassment", the Strib seems particularly unhappy that the US has launched an investigation into the world's largest financial-corruption scandal: The ostensible reason for seeking Annan's resignation? It was on his watch that Saddam Hussein diverted billions from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program designed to relieve the humanitarian burden on Iraqis suffering as a consequence of U.N. sanctions. Note that no one has the slightest whiff of proof that Annan knew about, condoned or profited from this scandal. Furthermore, when the scandal surfaced, Annan appointed former Fed chairman and man of impeccable honor Paul Volcker to thoroughly investigate the matter. Volcker's report, which both he and Annan have promised will be made public,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Having Fun With The Taxpayers League

I came into the studio early for today's Northern Alliance radio show, doing a bit of prep for today's topics, and my friends David Strom and Margaret Martin invited me in for a segment on the Taxpayers League. We chatted about the ridiculous editorial in today's Star Tribune calling Norm Coleman an embarrassment for having the nerve to demand accountability from Kofi Annan for presiding over the worst financial scandal in history, and had a great time laughing about the cluelessness of the editors at the Strib. Afterwards, I spoke with Dwight Rabuse and I'll also be guesting on his show in the third segment (11:34 CT, on the same stream as our link above) to talk about blogging. If you're interested in how to get your feet wet with your own blog, be sure to tune in. Afterwards, the entire Northern Alliance gang will be in for the normal...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Daily Kos Endorses Massive Cheating At The 2004 Weblog Awards

Well, this is rather pathetic. The Daily Kos can't be satisfied with acquiring one of the largest readerships in the blogosphere; they now have to make sure that no one with whom they disagree can conduct a fun contest without ruining it for everyone. Charles at LGF discovered the Kos post that instructs its readers how to write a program that bypasses the reasonable controls that Wizbang's Kevin Aylward implemented to restrict voters to one vote per day per computer, and Kos readers have reacted enthusiastically. They openly brag about their little fraud, congratulating each other for cheating and blaming Kevin Aylward for not making his site more secure. Let's not just chalk this up to blogosphere immaturity, which undeniably exists on both sides of the blogosphere. Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos' proprietor) is an important fundraiser for the Democratic Party, one of the mid-level movers that got a lot of...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 5, 2004

Further Signs Of Israeli-Egyptian Rapprochement

In another significant sign that Egypt and Israel may be drawing closer, the two nations swapped prisoners at the Taba checkpoint today, resolving another irritant between the two nations: Egypt freed an Israeli Arab man convicted of spying in exchange for Israel's release of six Egyptian students Sunday, a swap that signaled a warming of relations that had been severely strained by the four-year-old Palestinian uprising. ... Egypt released Azzam Azzam, who was sentenced in 1997 to 15 years in prison after an Egyptian court convicted him of espionage. At the time, Azzam ran a textile factory in Egypt, and Israel has denied he was an agent. ... Israel, in turn, released six Egyptian students who had sneaked into the country in August and were arrested on suspicion they tried to kidnap Israeli soldiers and commandeer a tank. The swap is the second major development in this past week that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

All In The Family

The London Telegraph has more background on the role played by Kojo Annan, son of the UN Secretary-General, in diverting funds from Iraqis in the Oil-For-Food program. Records now reveal that Kojo lobbied UN officials at their official functions to get contracts for the Swiss firm Cotecna, which finds itself in the center of the massive corruption at the UN: The son of Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General, lobbied for business contacts at gatherings of UN officials on behalf of a company in the same year as it won an oil-for-food programme deal, it has emerged. The second disclosure in a week about Kojo Annan's role with the Swiss company Cotecna Inspection Services, which secured the $4.8 million (2.46 million) UN contract to monitor goods entering and leaving Iraq in 1998, has raised embarrassing questions for his father. The details were revealed in Cotecna company documents handed over under...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

I Vote For Bill Clinton

With all of the troubles facing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Turtle Bay -- graft, corruption, multiple investigations into his operations, his son's involvement in at least a major conlfict of interest, and calls for his resignation -- we may have an opening at the top of the UN soon, either through removal or Annan's resignation. Republicans have led the charge to insist on accountability from UN leadership for the disastrous results of their management of the Oil-For-Food program, and Senator Norm Coleman's call for Annan to step down is completely appropriate. However, it does leave the question as to whom the GOP would consider an appropriate replacement for Annan, and we cannot just advocate abdication without having a constructive candidate in mind. Best of all would be Professor Reynolds' suggestion of Vaclav Havel, a man of surpassing integrity and clarity of thought. Unfortunately, he has such clarity of thought...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Pardonnez-Moi, Mon Bombe Est Dans Votre Valise

In a rare moment of levity in the war on terror, the AP reports that French police lost track of explosives they planted in travelers' suitcases in order to train their bomb-sniffing dogs. Their actions caused 90 planes to get delayed around the world: Police at Paris' top airport lost track of a passenger's bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday. Warned that the bag may have gotten on any of nearly 90 flights from Charles de Gaulle, authorities searched planes upon arrival in Los Angeles and New York. ... French police at Charles de Gaulle deliberately placed up to five ounces of plastic explosives into a passenger's luggage Friday evening, police spokesman Pierre Bouquin said. But a "momentary lack of surveillance" led to the bag being lost on a conveyor belt carrying luggage from check-in to planes, he said. Authorities immediately alerted...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Tiffany Network Doing More Streetwalking For Viacom

The Hollywood Reporter analyzes the relationship between CBS News and its parent, Viacom, in the latter's promotion of its assets. Earlier this year, the news show 60 Minutes raised eyebrows throughout the media world when they interviewed Richard Clarke and helped him promote his new book -- without revealing that Viacom published Clarke's book through one of its publishing subsidiaries. The Hollywood Reporter (via Netscape News) informs us that this practice continues at CBS even tonight, with their highly-promoted interview of singer Bob Dylan: A "60 Minutes" interview with Bob Dylan that was set to air Sunday about his new autobiography marked the third Simon & Schuster book this year to get exposure on television's most venerated newsmagazine. The publisher's marketing department might want to take all the credit. But it probably doesn't hurt that S&S and the network "60 Minutes" calls home, CBS, are owned by the same parent...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 6, 2004

American Consulate In Saudi Arabia Under Attack

Gunmen of unknown identity shot their way into the American consulate in Jiddah, injuring two people and reportedly taking foreign workers hostage, according to the AP: Attackers using a car struck the heavily guarded U.S. consulate with explosives and machine guns on Monday, injuring several people but no Americans. After a gunbattle inside, one attacker was killed, two were arrested and two others were surrounded, Saudi security officials said. Saudi security forces also said they believed four of the attackers had seized an unknown number of hostages inside the building amid the fighting. Area residents spoke of seeing Saudi forces enter the consulate shortly before a fierce gunbattle was heard inside. A short time later, the gunfire stopped. In Riyadh, the U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Carol Kalin said two local staff members were injured, but all American staff were safe. Saudi Arabia had been relatively quiet over the past year, although...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Jack Straw Suffers From UN Delusions Of Adequacy

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, commenting on the proposed structural changes to the UN currently under review, asserted that the rules change on pre-emptive military action would have resulted in an approval of the Iraq invasion had they existed prior to 2003: New rules being proposed for a reformed United Nations might have allowed the United States and Britain to carry out their invasion of Iraq with the approval of the world body, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said. "Had this new jurisprudence been there, I think the Security Council would probably -- you can't be certain -- have decided to take Chapter 7 action against Iraq in respect of human rights abuses," Straw told the daily The Independent. "That would have been as much a basis for determining an ultimatum by the Council as weapons of mass destruction became. They are dealing with situations before a latent threat becomes imminent....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

LA Times Blows Roof Off Of MLK Hospital And Its Supposed Underfunding

As a native and former resident of the Los Angeles area, one of the continuing issues in the local media was the operation and budget at LA's Martin Luther King Hospital and Drew Medical Center. Its location and its patient base ensure that the hospital requires plenty of government funding, but it has long been an element of faith in the area that MLK/Drew suffers from underfunding due to racism and neglect. Without a doubt, the services there routinely rank as the poorest in the state (if not the nation), and until now, underfunding and racism seemed to be the easiest answers. Today, however, the Los Angeles Times publishes an expos of MLK/Drew, and the truth not only disputes all of those allegations but also provides a microcosm of all that ails California's public and private sector: For years it has been a heartfelt cry: "This hospital desperately needs more...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Send Your Thoughts And Prayers ...

... to our good friend King Banaian at SCSU Scholars, whose father-in-law just passed away this weekend. Drop him a note or a comment, if you get a chance....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Awards Updates!

It's the most wonderful time of the weblog year, apparently, as awards continue to come forth. First off, Kevin has corrected the problem caused by massive cheating at the 2004 Weblog Awards. The cheating appears to have been confined to just the Best Overall Blog category, and the votes have now been reset to their proper numbers. Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who continues to vote for Captain's Quarters -- once per day per computer! -- in the Best Conservative Blog category. I'm still leading LaShawn Barber and Right Thinking From The Left Coast, two terrific blogs you should check out when you have the chance. VodkaPundit looms in the background, just waiting to make a last-minute run, I think. John Hawkins at RightWingNews has concluded his Warblogger Awards, which used a panel of distinguished bloggers to select the winners rather than a web poll. Not surprisingly, Instapundit topped the list,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Iranian Students Mock Khatami

In another sign that so-called Iranian "reformers" have lost their credibility among the masses, Iranian students today heckled President Mohammed Khatami in a speech to mark Student Day at Tehran University. Khatami, who had been a favorite of the reform-minded students, appeared shocked at the hostile reception: A visibly-shaken Khatami defended his record and criticised the powerful hardliners who have closed newspapers and jailed dissidents. He asked students to stop heckling and accused his critics of intolerance. ... "There is no Third World country where the students can talk to their president and criticise the government as you do now. I really believe in this system and the revolution and that this system can be developed from within," he is quoted as saying. But student leader Abdollah Momeni complained that there was is no difference between the president and the authoritarians who thwarted his reform programme. The students understand that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Mr. Bean Speaks Out Against Hate-Crime Legislation

Rowan Atkinson, the British comedian best known for his antics on television shows like Mr. Bean and Blackadder, intends on speaking out against a British effort to pass hate-crime legislation that will make it illegal to create a hostile environment for religions: Rowan Atkinson, the Blackadder comic, is to warn MPs that a Bill outlawing the incitement of racial hatred could undermine free speech and stop comedians making fun of religion. Atkinson will head a coalition of comedians, writers and academics at the launch of a campaign against elements of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill tonight. The Bill, due for its second reading this week, will create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred to protect faith groups - particularly Muslims - from hate attacks. This is not much different than the myriad of free-speech restrictions enacted by universities and colleges in America, and Atkinson rightly opposes...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Swiss Mapplethorpe?

The Swiss have entered political territory familiar to many Americans about the role of government in supporting the arts, especially when artists go out of their way to repulse and insult their sponsor. AFP reports that Pro-Helvetica, the Swiss arts council, faces demands for cuts in funding after presenting a controversial and tasteless display in Paris: An exhibition at Switzerland's cultural centre in Paris, which sheds the more common image of orderly Swiss society in favour of political rebellion and a vomiting actor, triggered an uproar in Switzerland. The "Swiss-Swiss democracy" exhibition by avant-garde artist Thomas Hirschhorn, which opened in the French capital over the weekend, includes photographic paste-ups, graffiti slogans and tracts. It also features an actor feigning vomiting while another urinates on the photograph of the right-wing Swiss justice minister, Christoph Blocher. It typifies the artistic communities in both countries that they only honor the process of democracy...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Anchoress Gives Maureen Dowd More Than She Deserves

Maureen Down inveighed against the upcoming holiday season in a poisoned-pen missive that tripped the bitterometer to new records, even for MoDo. In fact, she expressed a desire to "rip [Frosty the Snowman's] frozen face off." Apparently, Dowd has all the Christmas spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge on a bad night (pre-Ghosts, natch): I've never said this out loud before, but I can't stand Christmas. Everyone in my family loves it except me, and they can't fathom why I get the mullygrubs, as a Southern friend of mine used to call a low-level depression, from Thanksgiving straight through New Year. ... I've given a lot of thought to why others' season of joy is my season of doom - besides the obvious fact that yuppies have drenched the holidays in ever more absurd levels of consumerism. I think it has to do with how stressed out my mom and sister would...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Bring A Crowbar And A Jackhammer

George Bush today appointed two new members of the Civil Rights Commission, replacing two whose terms have expired. However, at least one of them may need to be bodily removed from the offices as she threatens to stay put until she is good and ready to go: President Bush on Monday moved to replace Mary Frances Berry, the outspoken chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who has argued with every president since Jimmy Carter appointed her to the panel a quarter century ago. But Berry balked at leaving now, arguing through a spokesman that she and vice chairman Cruz Reynoso, who also is being replaced, have terms that run until midnight Jan. 21, 2005. The White House maintained that their six-year terms expired Sunday and that Berry and Reynoso had been replaced. The last time Berry went to the mattresses with George Bush was almost exactly three years ago,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Now The DLC Embarrasses The Star-Tribune

Saturday, the Star-Tribune ran an insipid editorial regarding Senator Norm Coleman's call for the resignation of UN chief Kofi Annan for the incompetency and corruption at Turtle Bay, especially for the Oil-For-Food debacle. The Strib called Coleman's request "a sordid move," accused Coleman of being nothing more than puppet seeking to "fawningly please ... his GOP masters." It finished by calling Coleman an "embarrassment," all for demanding some accountability for the failures of the UN. Now it appears that the Strib's embarrassment may extend not just to the GOP but to the Democrats as well, as Instapundit notes this evening: As we argued last week, one of America's most urgent foreign policy needs is to retool international organizations and traditional alliances to provide collective security against the global threat of jihadist terrorism. The United Nations can and should be a central part of this new collective security system, but only...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 7, 2004

More Doom And Gloom From Langley

The New York Times rehashes some old news on Iraq in today's edition, as they report on a CIA cable that gives a pessimistic prognosis for Iraq. The cable acknowledges the progress made by the Coalition to some extent but predicts a long and rocky road ahead -- as if that should be news to anyone: The cable, sent late last month as the officer ended a yearlong tour, presented a bleak assessment on matters of politics, economics and security, the officials said. They said its basic conclusions had been echoed in briefings presented by a senior C.I.A. official who recently visited Iraq. The officials described the two assessments as having been "mixed," saying that they did describe Iraq as having made important progress, particularly in terms of its political process, and credited Iraqis with being resilient. But over all, the officials described the station chief's cable in particular as...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Barghouthi Runs The Mario Cuomo Playbook

First he's in, then he's out. Then he's in after his wife drafts him, but now he's got second thoughts. Mario Cuomo? John Kerry? No, we're talking about Marwan Barghouthi, the living martyr of the Palestinians, who currently resides as a guest of Israel under tight security -- having been convicted of multiple counts of murder from his career running the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Barghouti, it seems, has had second third fourth thoughts about running for the Palestinian Authority presidency: Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouthi is considering pulling out of a presidential race to avoid splitting his mainstream Fatah faction, an Israeli-Arab lawmaker said after visiting him in jail. ... He said that Barghouthi told him that he planned to hold discussions on a number of unspecified issues with [Mahmoud] Abbas and other Palestinian Authority leaders and then he would "make his decision whether he will take part in the election...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Intelligence Bill Gains Enough Support To Pass

The intelligence bill that encompasses many of the 9/11 Commission's recommended changes in the structure of military and civil bureaucracies in order to consolidate their assets appears assured of passage, now that the main critics of the bill have been mollified by last-minute wording changes. The New York Times reports that Duncan Hunter has agreed to endorse the bill with a new proviso: Congressional leaders reached final agreement Monday allowing passage of a bill to overhaul the nation's intelligence community and enact the major recommendations of the independent Sept. 11 commission, including creation of the job of national intelligence director to force the C.I.A. and other government spy agencies to share intelligence about national security threats. The agreement ended a nearly monthlong stalemate over the bill, which had been endorsed by President Bush and the Sept. 11 commission but had been opposed by a group of Republican lawmakers close to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Domestic Terrorism?

The Washington Post reports on a series of arsons in a controversial Maryland development that destroyed a dozen houses and damaged a number of others in a single day. While law-enforcement officials and the builder showed reluctance to attribute the sophisticated arsons to anyone in particular, the development had been the subject of a bitter fight with environmental groups: A preliminary investigation found traces of a fire-starting accelerant in four houses that were the first to be examined by investigators, officials said. Damage was estimated at $10 million, and William E. Barnard, the state fire marshal, said it was the biggest arson in state history. In addition to the 12 homes destroyed, about 30 were damaged, authorities said. Investigators said more than 20 fires were set. Some houses were burned to the ground, and the second floors and roofs of others were burned out. The structures seemed to have been...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Egypt Announces Peace In The Middle East (Film At 11?)

The French news agency AFP reports that Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak has announced a comprehensive peace agreement for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been achieved -- and then clammed up: "An important understanding, that could constitute an agreement in principle, has been reached by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinians and the significant international parties -- the United States and the European Union -- on a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the official news agency MENA quoted senior Egyptian sources as saying Tuesday. No other information was included in the announcement. We'll be sure to keep our eyes on this situation as it develops. If this turns out to be substantial, the Northern Alliance will cover it as we sub for Hugh Hewitt tonight at 5 pm CT. Be sure to tune us in....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Hell No, I Won't Go

Kofi Annan has answered calls for his resignation by refusing to leave before the end of his current term, an unsurprising development after Tony Blair suddenly endorsed Annan's continued leadership: Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday rejected calls from several U.S. lawmakers for his resignation, saying he will "carry on" at the helm of the United Nations for the next two years. Five Republicans in the House of Representative on Monday backed a call last week by a GOP senator for Annan to resign amid allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program. But outside the United States, there is no clamor for the secretary-general's resignation, and he has picked up support from many of the 191 U.N. member states. Well, now there's a shock: the majority of the world's kleptocracies support the man who presided over the largest swindle in world history. Even with his son hip-deep in the scandal,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Cracks In Partisanship On Social Security Appear

The first cracks in the partisan divide on Social Security appeared this evening, with Florida Congressman Allen Boyd (D-FL) announcing that he would support George Bush's plan to save the plan through privatization: President Bush's call for private accounts within Social Security drew an early expression of bipartisan support Tuesday when Florida Rep. Allen Boyd stepped forward to the disappointment of Democratic leaders. "There are some of us who are willing to work across party lines" on legislation to repair Social Security's solvency, he said. "This is the only bipartisan bill that I know of," Boyd added at a news conference where he said he would serve as the chief Democratic supporter of legislation drafted by Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona. And that's the entire problem with the Democratic approach to both Social Security specifically, and to bipartisanship in general. Bush received an inordinate amount of criticism for polarizing...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Berry Quits, A Day After Her Term Expired

Only in Washington could an official resign from an office she no longer occupied, but the Bush Administration won't complain anytime soon. Mary Frances Berry, along with Cruz Reynoso, decided to "resign" rather than battle the government in court and possibly against federal marshals, allowing two new Bush appointees to take their seats on the Civil Rights Commission: Mary Frances Berry, chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, resigned yesterday after more than two decades of criticizing the administrations, both Democratic and Republican, that she served. Berry, an independent, and Vice Chairman Cruz Reynoso, a Democrat, sent resignation letters to President Bush a day after the White House moved to replace the two. Both had resisted leaving Monday, arguing that their terms would not expire until midnight Jan. 21, 2005. The White House maintained that their six-year terms expired on Sunday, and that they had been replaced. In brief letters...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 8, 2004

Ukraine's Orange Movement Keeps Rolling

The Orange Revolution of Viktor Yushchenko continues unabated, as the Ukrainian Rada passed a compromise electoral-reform measure that outgoing president Leonid Kuchma signed. The agreement puts into place a new run-off election between Yushchenko and Kuchma's hand-picked successor, Viktor Yanukovych, for a watered-down presidency: Ukraine's parliament adopted a package of electoral and constitutional changes Wednesday in a compromise aimed at defusing the nation's political crisis less than three weeks before a rerun of the disputed presidential vote. The vote came as a surprise after days of political maneuvering and massive street protests. It suggested that opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko's camp had determined that the prolonged unrest could ultimately weaken the country and his own position ahead of the Dec. 26 repeat vote. The package was approved in a 402-21 vote with 19 abstentions, drawing a lukewarm endorsement from Yushchenko's supporters. Lawmakers stood and cheered as President Leonid Kuchma signed the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Hinzman For President in 2036!

Michelle Malkin reports on the activities of Jeremy Hinzman, a deserter who ran to Canada rather than fulfill his obligation to the Army. Already a darling of the anti-war Left, Hinzman apparently wants to crank up a career in politics, John Kerry style, by reviling his former comrades of the 82nd Airborne (the ones who didn't run squealing into the Great White North) as war criminals: Hinzman and his lawyer plan to argue to Canadian immigration officials that American soldiers are guilty of war crimes and that forcing Hinzman to fight in Iraq would have likely made him a war criminal. Among the witnesses testifying on Hinzman's behalf is former U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, the Winter Soldier of the 21st century, who claims his platoon killed a bunch of innocent civilians. Massey has been making the rounds in the French media and other America-hating swamps. Beautiful, isn't it?...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Does Anyone Like This Intelligence Reform Bill?

UPDATE: Easily the best analysis of the machinations behind this bill appears on Power Line in a post by Deacon.

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Call It An Intervention

Kitty Kelly opened her latest copy of Washingtonian magazine and was shocked to find herself removed from the masthead, where her name has, er, graced the magazine for thirty-two years. When she protested to her friend and editor Jack Limpert, he delivered the truth that the rest of us already knew about the sleazy, undersourced "biographer": After a relationship of more than 30 years, Washingtonian magazine and writer Kitty Kelley are divorcing, and the terms are not amicable. Kelley is in a snit because the mag unceremoniously booted her from the masthead of its current issue, citing her controversial book "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." In an e-mail last week, Editor Jack Limpert lashed Kelley for what he called the book's partisan timing and its irresponsible reporting about President Bush: "We are always willing to attack the policies, and the behavior, of the President," Limpert wrote...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Floridians Had No Problems Voting

According to a post-election Quinnipiac poll, Floridians reported no problems casting votes in this year's election and overwhelmingly had confidence that their votes were counted properly: Most Florida voters had no problem casting a ballot on Election Day and many say they are confident their vote was counted correctly, a poll shows. More than nine in 10 respondents said they had no problems, other than having to wait in long lines, according to the Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. Voters felt strong confidence in the results, with 75% saying they had very or somewhat confident their votes were counted properly. Predictably, this broke out along partisan lines. Only 5% of Republicans expressed a lack of confidence -- but 42% of Democrats felt uneasy about whether their ballot received proper handling. Since all ballots look exactly the same and both parties vote at the same booths, the only explanation for this...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

John Kerry, Deadbeat (Part Deux)

The revelation that John Kerry still had $15 million left in his campaign treasure chest stunned Democrats, who rightfully asked themselves why the money hadn't been spent more aggressively in Ohio and other close races, or even spent on tight Senate campaigns in the final days of the election. As the Washington Post's Al Kamen reports, a specific set of Democrats had a much more personal interest in the money: There are rumblings that, despite a recent discovery of $15 million in leftover campaign money, some of the Kerry campaign advance team are having trouble getting paid for the last several weeks of the campaign. Worse, many of them have not seen a per diem check since the end of August, we're told, and they do not know when they're going to get paid. Phone calls apparently don't get returned and, if they do, the mantra is "next week" or...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Lends Women What?

The Washington Post should hire better headline writers. On an article detailing a visit by California's governator to a conference on women and families, which he sponsored, the Post titled the article thusly: Schwarzenegger Lends Women His Muscle I'm sorry, but given the treatment Schwarzenegger got from the press during the last weekend of his recall election, that headline conjured up something completely different than what the article delivered. Instead, William Booth writes dishy, somewhat gossipy coverage of a routine political event, one in which Arnold's friend and co-star enthusiastically supported his outlook on women's issues: All those accusations of unwelcome gropes in hostile work environments? A distant memory of a recent unpleasantness, it seems. Because when the actress Jamie Lee Curtis introduced California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at his Conference on Women and Families here on Tuesday, the audience of 10,000 -- about 9,995 of them female -- gave the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Being The Wrong Crowd

Today's Star-Tribune runs a cautionary tale for teenagers who think that their behavior has no consequences. Unfortunately for one Minnesota teen, his night of debauchery and crime left him permanently disabled and fortunate not to be dead. His so-called friends showed their true colors the moment things went sour -- demonstrating exactly why parents warn their children about running with the wrong crowd: Minutes after he was thrown from a stolen car and paralyzed after a night of drinking and joyriding, the teenage boy begged his buddies not to leave him behind in a roadside ditch. "Please don't leave me here to die," the 14-year-old from Stewartville, Minn., pleaded with friends, according to a police report. But that's what they did, according to a juvenile petition filed in Mower County this week charging four teenage boys with felonies in connection with the Nov. 4 incident near Racine, Minn. The 14-year-old...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 9, 2004

Sharpton: Shakedown Or Sellout?

One of the more odd aspects of this presidential campaign was the emergence of Rev. Al Sharpton as a mainstream political candidate. Sharpton first rose to national prominence as an advocate of Tawana Brawley, who hoaxed people into believing that she was raped and mutilated by a gang of white yuppies in New York. Sharpton at one point accused a prominent lawyer of being one member of the gang before a court ruled that Brawley had concocted the whole incident. While such an embarrassment would ruin others, Sharpton instead continued to grow in stature as a representative of the African-American community, albeit from the fringe -- at least until 2003. Thanks to an extremely sympathetic media, Sharpton's candidacy for the presidency received little critical commentary; in fact, his bid was given more credibility than that of Carol Mosely-Braun and Dennis Kucinich, who at least had run and won elections in...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

LA Times Misses The Point

The Los Angeles Times attempts to analyze the aftereffects of the political tussle over the intelligence bill that has now passed both chambers of Congress and is on its way to the White House. They conclude that Congress has put George Bush on notice that they can't be pushed around any more -- when the Times misses the fact that Bush just steamrolled them: President Bush has gotten a fresh education this week in how to deal with an increasingly feisty Congress as he heads into his second term. The protracted struggle to enact an overhaul of the nation's intelligence community showed that conservative powerbrokers in Congress could not be steamrollered as easily as when Bush first was elected. Republican leaders are not as willing to "win ugly" as when they rammed his Medicare bill through the House last year, with arm-twisting so aggressive that it drew a rebuke from...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Bribing Europe Through Palestine

The Bush administration announced a new $20 million aid package to be paid directly to the Palestinian Authority, breaking a long-time reluctance to fund the organization while led by Yasser Arafat. The Washington Post reports that Bush wants to make a gesture of support for Palestinian elections: The money will go straight to the authority, breaking a U.S. restriction on direct financing for the government formerly run by Arafat. It comes as Palestinians are struggling to finance their Jan. 9 presidential election, the logistics of which were agreed upon yesterday by Israel and the Palestinians. Bush views the $20 million as a token of the United States' renewed commitment to jump-starting the peace process during his second term, according to a senior administration official. This is a "new opportunity to assist in the emergence of a responsible, democratic, moderate Palestinian leadership," the official said. Certainly the money will help, although...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

South America To Try An EU Strategy?

The Washington Post reports this morning that South America intends on forming a political and economic union between its nations, emulating the EU model in order to compete with Europe and the United States. The notion of unification aside, economic alliances already abound, point out some critics of this latest effort: Twelve South American countries signed a declaration Wednesday creating a political and economic bloc they hope will put them on a more equal footing with the United States and Europe. The pact was signed at a two-day summit beginning Wednesday in the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco. But the absence of three presidents - Ecuador's Lucio Gutierrez, Uruguay's Jorge Batlle and Argentina's Nestor Kirchner - raised questions about the strength of their commitment to forming a powerful regional alliance. ... "In the last 30 years we have sought a Latin America with the capacity for effective international action and...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Smash Takes On Cowardice

LT Smash has had enough of the media turning refuseniks from the all-volunteer armed services into anti-war superstars, and he's also had more than enough of the deserters themselves. In an open letter to Pablo Paredes, who refused to go aboard his ship for deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Smash points out the essential issue with desertion during wartime and why it's anything but courageous: When you were planning your dramatic statement, did you think for a minute about how this would affect your shipmates? You are a fire control technician on the Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missile system. The Navy doesnt have a bunch of spare FCs sitting in cold storage. Your ship is going to the Arabian Gulf, and will have to pass through the threat arcs of Irans Silkworm anti-ship missiles and in case you havent noticed, were not exactly buddy-buddy with the mullahs these days. The...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

CBS Has Seen The Enemy, And It Is Us

CBS News, reeling under the assault on its integrity, has decided to switch to offense ahead of its report on the fraudulent memos published by its 60 Minutes unit. Tonight, CBS reports on bloggers and their supposed lack of credibility and neutrality, a laughable nit to have picked by a news organization that couldn't be bothered to listen to its own document experts: While many are must-reads for political junkies, are some Internet blogs also being used as proxies for campaigns? In the nations hottest Senate race, this past year, the answer was yes. Little over a month ago, the first Senate party leader in 52 years was ousted when South Dakota Republican John Thune defeated top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle. While more than $40 million was spent in the race, saturating the airwaves with advertising, a potentially more intriguing front was also opened. The two leading South Dakota blogs...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Powell: I'm Not Running, Period

Colin Powell squelched speculation today that his retirement from the Cabinet had freed him up to run for political office. He categorically stated that he would not run for any political office in the future, according to the AP: Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday he won't seek political office, dismissing suggestions that he run for governor or senator in New York. Asked about a poll that shows him favored in a hypothetical matchup for the governor's race, Powell said, "I'm not going to be running for office even in my beloved home state of New York, as flattering as that poll might be." ... "I don't think I've ever said I wouldn't be interested in public life again," Powell said. "I think I've repeatedly said over the course of nine-plus years that I've had no interest in political office." Powell has been the center of speculation to replace...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

What Are The Ethics Of Disclosure In The Blogosphere?

The CBS report on the payments from the John Thune campaign to the blogs Dasche Vs Thune and South Dakota Politics has the blogosphere debating what disclosure blogs owe their readers. It's a great debate, and one that should have taken place long ago. Pat from Brainster's Blog wrote: Well, I, for one, am disgusted with Lauck (I never read Van Beek's blog). He owed it to his readers to disclose the fact that he was receiving substantial amounts of money from Thune. And, for the record, our blog received nothing; we did it because we believed in John Thune and despised Tom Daschle. Jon at QandO also feels used by the two bloggers: To put this in perspective: recall that Daschle V Thune spent a great deal of time--and got a great of attention--by ridiculing the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, writing: Look, be an advocate if you choose. Thats...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

SDP Responds To CBS, Ethics Questions

In the wake of the CBS hit piece on the blogosphere, Jason Van Beek responded last night to the charges that he hid his relationship with the John Thune campaign: I began my blog a year before Thune declared his candidacy. I became a consultant for Thune in July of 2004, a year and six months AFTER I began blogging. From the beginning, I have always been very clear about my political predilections. I consistently told readers of my blog that I was pro-Thune. If my blog was a "proxy" for the Thune campaign then it can fairly be said that the Argus Leader and CBS have been proxies for Democratic campaigns since time immemorial. [Good point -- CE.] The difference is that I tell everyone I am not an objective observer. To this day, the Argus Leader and CBS hold themselves out as objective observers. I think blogs in...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 10, 2004

Jon Lauck Responds To Ethics Questions

After an exchange of e-mails last night between Jon Lauck and myself, Jon posted a long message about the ethical issues regarding revelations that he and Jason Van Beek received money as political consultants for the John Thune campaign and did not reveal that to their readers. Jon makes several good points, and the central rebuttal is this: I see Captain Ed has noted that CBS has started criticizing bloggers now that they're about to get nailed for "memogate" and noted some in the commentariat didn't like the fact that I was a consultant to Thune, but I did a long post explaining the many problems I saw at the Argus long before I was a consultant. And SDP and Sibby and others (there was criticism going back 20 years, as it turns out, pre-blog, as the blogs discovered and revealed to those who didn't know about it) were criticizing...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Bush Administration Backs Annan, Cuts Coleman Off At Knees

The New York Times reports that UN Ambassador John Danforth has offered an official endorsement of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, "clarifying" the American position after numerous calls for Annan's resignation, including one from our own Senator Norm Coleman. The US has joined the chorus of voices cheering Annan on, calling into question whether Annan will ever bear any responsibility for the worst financial corruption in history: The Bush administration said Thursday that it had faith in Secretary General Kofi Annan and did not want to see him leave office, its first show of support for the United Nations official since calls for his resignation last week. "We are expressing confidence in the secretary general and in his continuing in office," Ambassador John C. Danforth said to reporters who had been alerted by the United States mission that Mr. Danforth would be delivering an important message. Saying he was speaking for...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Many Fronts Of The War On Terror

Two stories off the wire this morning show the diverse effort put into finding creative ways to wage the war on terror. The Pakistan Daily Times publishes a report this morning stating that an amnesty program offered by the US to Taliban members who willingly surrender their arms and commit to a peaceful political process appears to have made significant headway: The US-led military in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that it had been contacted by Taliban members willing to lay down their weapons following an arms-for-amnesty offer by the US envoy to the country. US military commanders operating in south and southeastern Afghanistan have been contacted by Taliban members declaring their desire to join the peaceful political process, the US-led military spokesman, Major Mark McCann, told a news briefing in Kabul. This new strategy splits the enemy into hardliners and pragmatists and allows the pragmatists a way out of the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

What Does Social Security Privatization And Gay Marriage Have In Common?

After a prominent gay-rights organization hinted that they would back the Bush Administration's privatization policy for Social Security, dozens of LGBT activists wrote letters to every member of Congress denouncing the statement and swearing that they will not negotiate for their rights: Dozens of prominent advocates for gay rights sent a letter to every member of Congress yesterday stating that they would reject any plan to bargain for equal rights, and specifically decried a report that the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political organization, was planning to "moderate" its positions and would possibly support President Bush's plan to create private Social Security accounts. The letter, titled "Where We Stand," was released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) in response to an article in yesterday's New York Times. The article quoted officials from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as saying that, in light of defeats for...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Too Much Time On Their Hands

The Washington Times writes today about the emergence of a sport that features television coverage, enthusiast associations, and high-stakes gambling. Look out, ESPN poker challenges, here comes ... Rock, Paper, Scissors? A 33-year-old body piercer from the District, he is better known as Master Roshambollah, perhaps the most feared Rock Paper Scissors player in the world. Fear being a relative term. Crushing with a fist, cutting with extended fingers, smothering with a flat hand, Mr. Simmons has thrown down for money and sport, in bars and, well, bigger bars. And he's not alone. Long regarded as the civilized way of settling life's thorniest conundrums such as who pays for the next round Rock Paper Scissors is evolving into something else entirely: a genuine, bona fide, almost legitimate sport, sans the towel doffing, fan pummeling and steroid injecting common to its more celebrated peers. The World Rock Paper Scissors...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Powell: No Negotiations Until After Elections

Colin Powell threw a bit of cold water on Palestinian hopes for new negotiations on statehood, declaring that the US would stick by the "road map" and any other negotiations before the Palestinian Authority elections would be premature: Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could not be rushed, as Palestinians must first elect a president and both sides must begin to carry out the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan. "We can't rush it and the road map is the way and the road map is quite detailed with respect to the obligations and the responsibilities of the parties," he told a news conference. His words may dent Palestinian hopes for a quick return to negotiations leading to a Palestinian state. Everyone feels a sense of optimism that progress can finally occur with the death of Yasser Arafat -- the palpable relief from all concerned...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Drop Negative Attitudes Towards Israel: Egypt

Buffalo Springfield once sang, "There's something happening here, and what it is ain't exactly clear" -- which would provide an excellent analysis about Egypt's sudden fondness for the Sharon government in Israel. After warning Palestinians earlier this month that the Sharon government afforded them the best chance for a lasting peace, the official government news service editorialized that negative attitudes towards Israel in Egypt should be shunned: Egyptian-Israeli relations occupy an important place in Egypt's foreign policy and the first serious signs of openness in [Egyptian-Israeli] relations that we are now observing are important. ... In addition, the development of relations with Israel and interest in [these relations] can open a window [of opportunity] that will free Egyptian-Israeli relations from any form of reliance upon [Egypt's] relations with the U.S. It is not natural, necessary, or essential for relations with Israel to be influenced by [Egypt's] relations with the U.S....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

But Lance Armstrong Never Quits ...

The AP reports on problems one major Southeastern hospital chain has with Lance Armstrong's Livestrong bracelets that he sells to fund cancer research. It turns out that the rubber bracelets closely match DNR bracelets used at the hospitals that instruct staff not to resuscitate a patient: A hospital chain is taping over patients' LiveStrong wristbands because they are yellow the same color as the "do not resuscitate" bands it puts on patients who do not want to be saved if their heart stops. ... "It could be confusing, particularly in the situation of a code or a cardiac arrest where people have to think very quickly," said Lisa Johnson, vice president of patient services at Morton Plant Mease Health Care, which is part of the chain. "We wouldn't want to mistake a Lance Armstrong bracelet and not resuscitate someone we're supposed to." I know cancer kills, but who knew...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 11, 2004

Taipei Tiring Of Brinksmanship?

Taiwan's pro-independence parties suffered a defeat in legislative election yesterday, a result sure to please mainland China and a signal that the Taiwanese may be tiring of the adversarial tone between the two Chinese nations: The coalition that included President Chen Shui-bian's party had been widely favored to win control of the legislature. But the opposition rallied, keeping its grip on parliament. The opposition won 90 of the 176 seats that are directly elected by voters, while the president's group won 76 seats, the Central Election Commission said. The remaining 10 seats were still unconfirmed, the commission said. ... Since he was elected in 2000, the Taiwanese president has repeatedly urged Chinese leaders to meet with him. They've rejected his invitations because Chen has refused to endorse their view that Taiwan is part of "one China." Chen has been telling voters that Chinese leaders will be more willing to talk...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Call It The Shotgun Approach

After enduring days of innuendo, character assassinations, and pseudoscandals, Bernard Kerik finally withdrew his nomination for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security for a surprising reason -- hiring an illegal immigrant as a domestic worker: Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush's homeland security secretary, a victim of the embarrassing "nanny problem" that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials. ... While assembling paperwork for his Senate confirmation, Kerik said he uncovered questions about the immigration status of a housekeeper-nanny that he employed. As homeland security secretary, Kerik would oversee the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. "I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people," Kerik said in a letter to Bush. He said he could not...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Little Dioxin In His Borscht

Doctors treating Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko have determined that Yushchenko was poisoned by a powerful chemical known to Americans as the deadliest part of a notorious Vietnam War defoliant -- ironically called Agent Orange: Ukrainian presidential hopeful Viktor Yushchenko was a victim of dioxin poisoning, but it remains unclear if it was the result of a deliberate act, Austrian doctors treating him said on Saturday. "There is no doubt," Dr Michael Zimpfer, president of the Rudolfinerhaus clinic where Yushchenko is undergoing treatment, told a news conference."There were high concentrations of dioxin, most likely orally administered. The disfigurement is a classic symptom of dioxin poisoning called chloracne. It will probably permanently disfigure Yushchenko, a constant reminder of the brutal practice of politics in Ukraine. It is all but impossible to have ingested the poison by accident, and although the hospital refused to characterize it as an attempt at murder, the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 12, 2004

Vatican Supports Tariq Aziz

One of the greater disappointments of the Iraq phase of the war for this Catholic was the reaction of the Vatican to the effort to unseat Saddam's genocidal government. The Vatican ignored the suffering, torture, and mass murder of Iraqis by Saddam Hussein's Ba'athists in order to buy peace at any cost, claiming that the failing sanctions regime and continuing the twelve-year "negotiations" could still free Iraqis from their plight. Now that Saddam's regime has been removed and the full extent of the corruption and genocide he caused has been revealed, one would expect the Vatican to act in at least mild repentance for averting their eyes to evil. Instead, the Vatican now supports one of the murderous regime's top officials, trying to get Saddam's right-hand man and Western-style mouthpiece, Tariq Aziz, off the hook: Saddam Hussein's former foreign minister and right-hand man has persuaded sympathisers in the Vatican to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

More Signs Of Progress In Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

After an unexpected full-court press by Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak over the past month, events seem to be accelerating towards better relations in the dispute between Israel, the Palestinians, and the larger Arab world. Israel announced plans to release hundreds of jailed Palestinians in order to both thank Egypt and to bring more enthusiasm to the Palestinian Authority elections to be held next month. On the same day, the Palestinians have finally attempted to reconcile with the Kuwaitis whose oppression they once cheered: The prisoner release was part of a pact with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That accord resulted in the release last week of six Egyptian students in exchange for the return of Azzam Azzam, an Israeli jailed by Egypt on espionage charges. The new release, which could involve 100-200 of the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, would only include those not involved in the killing of Israelis...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Stupid (And Apparently Public) Gamble

The Washington Post reports today that the US has tapped IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei's phones in an attempt to gather evidence of corruption that would enable the US to oust him from his post. So far, the Post reports, the only crime that ElBaradei has committed is diplomacy: The Bush administration has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to three U.S. government officials. But the diplomatic offensive will not be easy. The administration has failed to come up with a candidate willing to oppose ElBaradei, who has run the agency since 1997, and there is disagreement among some senior officials over how hard to push for his removal, and what the diplomatic costs of a public campaign against him could be. Although eavesdropping, even...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

St. Paul Snobs Strike Snoopy Statues

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that a local beautification group has filed an objection to bronze statues of "Peanuts" characters in Rice Park, complaining that the memorialization of perhaps the most beloved and influential comic strip in American culture demeans the historic nature of the area: The Ross Group is an 11-member organization that's been involved in city beautification efforts for the past dozen years. They say bronze statues of Peppermint Patty and Marcie don't fit with the historic character of the park in the middle of downtown St. Paul. In particular, they say the characters clash with the park's statue of St. Paul-born author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The group says the "Peanuts" statues could jeopardize the park's possible designation as a historic site. The snobs at the Ross Group apparently do not understand -- or care to learn -- the influence of Charles Schulz on American culture, one that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Barghouti's New Pre-Re-Entry Withdrawal

Marwan Barghouti remains on target in his quest to become the Moqtada al-Sadr of Palestinian politics. In yet another tiresome reversal, Bargouti will now withdraw from the Palestinian presidential election: Imprisoned uprising leader Marwan Barghouti is dropping out the Jan. 9 election to replace Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority, associates said Sunday. ... Barghouti's wife, Fadwa, called a news conference in Ramallah to read a letter from her husband harshly critical of the Fatah leadership but implying that he would pull out of the race. Associates said Fadwa would formally withdraw his candidacy on Monday. His harsh criticism of Fatah leadership springs from their sudden focus on creating the possibility of a negotiated settlement on statehood with Israel and the sudden dearth of financing now that their sponsor Saddam Hussein got pulled out of his spider hole. Before Arafat's death, Fatah may have been pleased to run...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Blog Notes

Just a few notes to bring everyone up to date at the behind-the-scenes machinations at CQ ... First, the lower output this weekend is due to the Christmas shopping season and an opportunity to babysit the Little Admiral. Instead of watching Papa sit behind his computer, we decorated the Christmas tree (somehow, it's inexplicably become "Gamma's Tree" this year), watched "Finding Nemo", and played with her Little Peoples toys. I love blogging, but that beats writing every time, which I'm sure CQ readers understand. Speaking of the Little Admiral, she performed in her very first show this week, a Christmas recital her day-care center put on. I have video and hope to post a capture later tonight of her singing ... I'd like to welcome a new sponsor aboard CQ. I'm very grateful to all of my sponsors -- please patronize them as much as possible! -- but today Kevin...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 13, 2004

Slouching Towards Florida 2000

Slowly and inexorably, John Kerry keeps moving towards mounting a vote challenge like the one in Florida that paralyzed the executive branch in 2000. Last night, the AP reported that the Kerry campaign now wants to inspect ballots cast without a vote for president: Democrat John Kerry is asking county elections officials to allow his witnesses to inspect the 92,000 ballots cast in Ohio in which no vote for president was recorded, a Kerry lawyer said Sunday night. The request is one of 11 the Kerry campaign made in a letter sent over the weekend to Ohio's 88 county boards of election, which will begin recounting presidential ballots this week. "We're trying to increase the transparency of the election process," said Donald McTigue, the lawyer handling the recount for the Kerry campaign. But he added that several requests such as using independent experts to check election equipment, "are trying...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Brownstein: Beinart Is Wrong

Peter Beinart wrote a long column two weeks ago for the New Republic that called on Democrats to hearken back to post-WWII tradition and coalesce around a strategy of muscular liberalism in a Trumanesque fashion in order to restore their credibility on foreign policy and especially terrorism. Beinart argued that today's Democrats lack the anti-totalitarian fire they had during the Cold War and fail to recognize Islamofascism as the same enemy as Communist oppression. During his appearance on Hugh Hewitt when we filled in, we questioned Beinart's recollection of Democratic resistance to totalitarianism, especially in places like Nicaragua and Cuba, challenges that Beinart left unanswered. Ronald Brownstein picks up the thread in today's Los Angeles Times and also questions Beinart's analysis, this time in his assumptions regarding the circumstances in which Americans for Democratic Action formed and set Democratic foreign policy until the late 1960s: Beinart is surely right that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Steelers Clinch Division, Bettis Tops 13,000 Yards

The wheels on the Bus go round and round ... The Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the AFC North division yesterday in a game when two running backs topped 13,000 career rushing yards each, the first time in NFL history that has happened. But it wasn't the rushing yards that made the Steelers' Jerome Bettis remarkable yesterday: In a game that featured two of the NFL's best young quarterbacks, the pass that launched the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 17-6 victory over the New York Jets and their eighth division title in 13 seasons was thrown by 32-year-old running back Jerome Bettis. His tiebreaking fourth-quarter toss to Jerame Tuman was as unlikely as it was spectacular, a moment that warmed the hearts of many of the 63,581 who endured sub-freezing temperatures Sunday at Heinz Field. Jerome Bettis -- who played for Notre Dame, by the way -- has had a storybook season. Considered...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Everything Not Regulated Will Be Banned

The Guardian (UK) reports today that British victims groups have called for tougher weapons laws. Of course, Britain already has strict gun-control laws, but now the effort is to regulate knives: Families of stabbing victims will today call on the government to make carrying a knife as serious an offence as carrying a gun. The group, which includes Damilola Taylor's father, will demand that ministers introduce a five-year minimum jail term for carrying an object with a blade longer than three inches, which would equalise the penalties for knives and guns. They also want to see a six-month minimum jail term for carrying a blade shorter than three inches, or three months for juveniles. Once again, we see a push for criminalizing the use of a tool that can just as easily be used for defensive as well as offensive purposes -- and unlike guns, has practical uses as well....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

More Lawrence Mischief

The Army Court of Appeals has thrown out a heterosexual sodomy conviction based in part on the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, throwing the ban on gays serving in the military into doubt. The New York Times reports that the impact on military policy will likely be indirect but cumulative: The decision, issued late last month by the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, was based in part on the Supreme Court opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared last year that the Texas sodomy statute violated the right to privacy. The case before the Army court involved a male Army specialist who admitted that he had engaged in consensual oral sex in a barracks room with a female civilian whom he had met at a nightclub. But those seeking to abolish the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and some legal experts, say the ruling is...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Other Shoes Keep Dropping On Kerik

As I suspected on Saturday, the nanny problem Bernard Kerik cited when he withdrew his nomination as DHS chief does not appear to be the only issue that his confirmation hearing would have revealed. Today, two new revelations about Kerik's tenure in New York demonstrate the poor job done in vetting his candidacy prior to the nomination. First, the Daily News reveals that Kerik managed to conduct two simultaneous extramarital affairs, using a "secret" corporate-rental apartment. One of the women was a publishing magnate, while the other worked for Kerik in Corrections: The first relationship, spanning nearly a decade, was with city Correction Officer Jeanette Pinero; the second, and more startling, was with famed publishing titan Judith Regan. His affair with Regan, the stunningly attractive head of her own book publishing company, lasted for almost a year. Dramatically, each woman learned of the existence of the other after Pinero discovered...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Oh, Let's Just Hold Another Election So They Can Gripe Some More (Breathless Update!)

Now Democrats want federal election officials to stop the Electoral College from certifying the 2004 presidential election until hand recounts are completed in all 50 states, according to this report from the Arizona Republic. CQ commenter Spectregunner directs our attention to a protest at the Arizona state capitol by 200 people, including a Democratic state representative, who insist that the election results have no credibility: About 200 protesters from around Arizona gathered at the state Capitol on Sunday urging electors to delay the Electoral College vote until each state performs a hand recount of the popular vote. The event was timed to pressure the electors, who are meeting in each state today, to cast electoral votes for president and vice president. President Bush won Arizona's 10 electoral votes with 55 percent of the vote, besting Sen. John Kerry. On Sunday, the protesters' primary aim, as described by one hand-lettered sign,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Turkish Checkmate?

The long-proposed entry of NATO member Turkey to the EU has generated much controversy, especially in the context of the war against Islamofascist terror and the Muslim population explosion in central Europe. While the EU powers have stalled Turkey's application, time had started to run out on their delays. However, today France played the genocide card, complicating the politics to such an extent that Turkey's EU entry may be a dead letter: France has said it will ask Turkey to acknowledge the mass killing of Armenians from 1915 as genocide when it begins EU accession talks. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Turkey had "a duty to remember". ... Mr Barnier said France did not consider Turkish acknowledgement a condition of EU entry, but insisted his country would raise the issue once talks opened. Speaking to reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss plans to invite Turkey...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

McCain: Still No Confidence In Rumsfeld

In an indication to everyone except the John Kerry Perpetual Campaign For Political Martyrdom that the presidential election is over, Senator John McCain made clear the feelings towards Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to which he alluded last week with only slightly veiled rhetoric. McCain bluntly told an AP interviewer that he had "no confidence" in Rumsfeld: U.S. Sen. John McCain said Monday that he has "no confidence" in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, citing Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq and the failure to send more troops. McCain, speaking to The Associated Press in an hourlong interview, said his comments were not a call for Rumsfeld's resignation, explaining that President Bush "can have the team that he wants around him." Asked about his confidence in the secretary's leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago. "I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence," McCain...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Democratic Competence On Display In Minnesota

Either one of the DFL's electors in Minnesota decided to make a political statement, or he or she could not remember the name of the Democratic nominee to write on the Electoral College ballot. Whichever the case, it does not reflect well on the DFL's efforts to project competence and relevance: One of Minnesota's 10 presidential electors broke from the pack and cast a vote Monday for John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential running mate for John Kerry. ... "I'm sure somebody made a mistake," said elector Michael Meuers of Bemidji. "I'm certainly glad that the Electoral College is not separated by one vote." With all of the uproar from the Democrats about the importance of counting each vote, one would expect to see massive condemnations for the DFL elector who just disenfranchised 10% of the Minnesota vote in the Electoral College. Was it a mistake? In order to believe...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

When We Can't Win, We'll Act Like We Did

The Washington Times published a revealing blurb about the strategy Senate Democrats will take in the next session of Congress -- pretending they won the last election: Senate Democrats Monday signaled they would continue to try and unofficially oversee the Bush administration. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced several oversight hearings on a range of subjects next hear. The Democratic leadership in the Senate claim that the Republicans in Congress have not exercised their oversight responsibilities, but that's not why they've scheduled these hearings. The GOP has been happy enough with the performance of the Bush administration. The Democrats simply can't handle the fact that they've been sent packing three election cycles in a row. In order to make themselves feel better, they plan on holding circus-atmosphere hearings to air their complaints on TV. They're hoping you tune them in to hear their bitch...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 14, 2004

Abbas Says Intifadas A "Mistake", Calls For End To Attacks

Palestinian interim leader and presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas today called the intifadas against Israel a "mistake" and called for an end to violence as a means of ending the occupation, the AP reports: The armed uprising against Israel is a mistake and must end, interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview published Tuesday, signaling his determination to change direction after Yasser Arafat's death. ... In an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat published Tuesday, Abbas said Palestinians should resist Israeli occupation without resorting to violence. It is important to "keep the uprising away from arms because the uprising is a legitimate right of the people to express their rejection of the occupation by popular and social means," Abbas said. "Using the weapons was harmful and has got to stop," Abbas said, referring to shootings and bombings by Palestinian militants that have killed hundreds of Israelis since...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Delay In Securing Russian N-Arms Due To Russians, Lawyers: USA Today

During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democrats tried making the status of programs designed to render Russian nuclear-weapon fuel harmless a major issue, accusing George Bush of ignoring this gaping vulnerability to terrorism. The Democrats failed to get much traction on this issue, and today's USA Today report explains why. The holdup on securing this dangerous material turns out to originate with arguments over verification techniques from the Russians and threats of liability lawsuits: U.S. programs to help Russia protect and destroy its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are far behind schedule, despite President Bush's warning this fall that terrorists getting such weapons is "the biggest threat facing this country." A half-billion dollars set aside by Congress in the past two years to secure or scrap Russian weapons sits unspent, a USA TODAY review of figures provided by program managers finds. Federal audits released in the past 18 months show...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Getting Closer To Omar (Updated)

The London Telegraph reports that Afghani security forces captured a key lieutenant of Mullah Omar and a Taliban commander yesterday after a tip from an inside informant: The personal security chief for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been captured in southern Afghanistan. The arrest of Toor Mullah Naqibullah Khan as he travelled in a van to Kandahar, gives hope to US and local forces searching for other key Taliban figures and Osama bin Laden. "We have arrested top Taliban figures Toor Mullah Naqibullah Khan and Mullah Angar on the way between Arghandab and Kandahar," provincial security forces said. "They were carrying a satellite telephone and some important documents. We are hopeful we will arrest more Taliban figures and we hope that we can arrest their leader Mullah Omar." Finding a satellite phone on the prisoners is an interesting development. Most of the al-Qaeda hierarchy had given up on satellite...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Weblog Awards Winner!

I wanted to wait a day for all of the polls to officially close before posting about the results of the 2004 Weblog Awards. Kevin has finalized the polling and Captain's Quarters won for Best Conservative Blog, taking an amazing 36% of the overall vote for the category. My colleagues at Power Line won the award for Best Overall Blog in what turned out to be a squeaker. Having worked with all three Power Line gentlemen now, I can only say that the voters knew what they were doing in that competition, although many fine blogs were featured. You can see the entire list at the above link, but I wanted to note a few other results. In my category, I had the misfortune of being squared off against some fine bloggers, including LaShawn Barber, who traded notes with me during the contest. I'm a big fan of VodkaPundit, who...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Missing The Point

Media Matters for America will announce its intention to protest the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the Los Angeles Times reports today. Elizabeth Jensen writes that MMA will launch a new website and encourage a letter-writing campaign to highlight Sinclair's supposed political bias, stopping short of an advertiser boycott for the moment: A coalition of liberal political groups is launching a nationwide protest against Sinclair Broadcast Group, charging that the 62-station TV broadcaster, which was also the target of intense criticism during the presidential campaign, is misusing public airwaves with partisan news programming. The groups, led by Media Matters for America, today will announce a campaign to pressure Sinclair's advertisers with letters. The groups, however, are stopping short of demanding an advertiser boycott. ... The main focus of the protest is the nightly "The Point" commentary by Mark Hyman, who is Sinclair's spokesman and also oversees the company's Washington lobbying. A recent...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Washington State Supreme Court Affirms Electoral Law

In a late decision today, the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously rejected a lawsuit from Democrats to review previously rejected ballots in the race for governor. The justices agreed that state law defines recount as only the retabulation of already-approved ballots and does not give any opportunity to review those rejected: The state Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected the Democratic Party's request that previously rejected absentee and provisional ballots be included in the hand recount of Washington state's contested governor's race. ... In a brief written opinion, the high court said that under Washington law, "ballots are to be 'retabulated' only if they have been previously counted or tallied" excluding those that had been disqualified by canvassing boards. Democrats had estimated in their lawsuit that an additional 3,000 ballots should be reconsidered during the recounts -- in other words, changing the rules for voting after the fact. The...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Lieberman Says No

CNN reports that the Bush administration has made at least two overtures to Senator Joe Lieberman to join the Cabinet -- but Lieberman has passed on both occasions: Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman has twice in recent days said "no" when approached about the possibility of a major job in the second Bush administration, CNN has learned. The Cabinet vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security was the subject of the latest overture, according to congressional and other government sources. Those sources said the earlier overture was to see whether Lieberman might be interested in becoming the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. I'm not sure why the White House would have considered Lieberman for the DHS post, except for Lieberman's role in creating the department. Senators do not make great executives, for the most part, which is one of the reasons why none have been elected directly from the Senate...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 15, 2004

Making No Bones About It

The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il resumed its sabre-rattling today, threatening to go to war with Japan if the latter imposed economic sanctions against the DPRK. Earlier, Japan protested that the bones released by the DPRK that supposedly belonged to Japanese citizens kidnapped by the DPRK turned out to be a hoax, enraging Japanese citizens and inspiring suggestions of retaliatory sanctions: Calls are growing from the Japanese public and politicians for the government to impose sanctions on North Korea after Tokyo said bones Pyongyang had identified as those of Japanese it had kidnapped were from other people. "If sanctions are applied against the DPRK (North Korea) due to the moves of the ultra-right forces (in Japan), we will regard it as a declaration of war against our country and promptly react to the action by an effective physical method," a spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

In Ohio, The Whining Continues

Micheal Powell and Peter Slevin report on Election Day difficulties in Ohio, using spot reports to extrapolate a massive electoral collapse that their own numbers show didn't happen. As Ohio voted in record numbers, the notion that heavy turnout would bring long lines appears to have surprised Democrats, who interpret them as part of an evil plan to disenfranchise inner-city voters: Tanya Thivener's is a tale of two voting precincts in Franklin County. In her city neighborhood, which is vastly Democratic and majority black, the 38-year-old mortgage broker found a line snaking out of the precinct door. She stood in line for four hours -- one hour in the rain -- and watched dozens of potential voters mutter in disgust and walk away without casting a ballot. Afterward, Thivener hopped in her car and drove to her mother's house, in the vastly Republican and majority white suburb of Harrisburg. How...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Pentagon Not Playing The Grinch

The Washington Post reports that the Pentagon will not transmit packages or letters addressed to "any soldier", a common practice at the holidays that has been banned since the 9/11 attacks: The Defense Department has a stern message for those considering playing Santa Claus this holiday season to troops abroad: If you don't know them, don't send it. The agency is reminding the public that it does not accept unsolicited packages -- even holiday gifts -- to troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, the Pentagon explains that unsolicited gifts not only overtaxes their mail-delivery system, delaying packages and letters from family and friends back home, but it also represents a security risk that they hardly need in a time of war. The Pentagon suggests a reasonable alternative -- giving our thanks and our gifts, letters, etc to the families of those...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Even More Ohio Nonsense

The Democratic myth-building in Ohio continues in Washington DC, where Congressman John Conyers wants to ask the FBI to open a vote-tampering investigation in order to cast doubt on the veracity of the presidential-election results. The New York Times reports that Conyers will complain about "inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering", as if there's any such thing as legal election tampering. Conyers bases his complaint on the testimony of one election worker, Sherole Eaton, who questioned the conduct of a technician for the company whose machines tabulate the vote as he prepared the machines for the recount: Ohio recount rules require that only 3 percent of a county's votes be tallied by hand, and typically one or more whole precincts are selected and combined to get the 3 percent sample. After the hand count, the sample is fed into the tabulator. If there is no discrepancy, the remaining ballots can...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Iraqi Terrorists Target Sistani Aide While Sunnis Sign Onto Election

A bombing in Karbala attempted to kill a key aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in order to discourage the upcoming elections, the AP reports. The bombing killed seven people, mostly bodyguards, and wounded Sistani's aide: The attack in Karbala, which wounded the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, came hours after the campaign kicked off, with Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi announcing his candidacy. Allawi's defense minister accused Iranian and Syrian intelligence agents of helping insurgents in Iraq. ... The blast went off at the western gate of the Imam Hussein Shrine in Karbala, killing seven people and wounding 31, said Dr. Abdul-Abbas Al-Timimi, director of Al-Hussein hospital. Al-Sistani's representative, Sheik Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalayee, was among the wounded, and an al-Sistani spokesman said al-Karbalayee was the intended target of the blast. Several of his bodyguards were among the dead and wounded, the spokesman Hamed al-Khafaf told...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Ohio Rules Punch-Card Ballots Not An Eeevil GOP Conspiracy

At CQ today, it's all Ohio, all the time (notify Hugh Hewitt) ... In a ruling sure to disappoint tinfoil-hat brigade members throughout the nation, a federal court ruled this afternoon that the use of punch-card ballots does not amount to racial discrimination, denying an ACLU lawsuit springing from the 2004 Presidential election: Voting rights are not denied to those who use punch-card ballots, a federal judge ruled in the nation's first trial to challenge the system blamed for woes in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the punch-card system is error-prone and ballots are more likely to go uncounted than votes cast in other ways. The group claimed Ohio violated the voting rights of blacks, who predominantly live in punch-card counties. U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. disagreed. "All voters in a county, regardless of race, use the same voting system...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 16, 2004

Brave Sir Robin Now Demands More Equipment

Our own fearless Senator Mark Dayton has latched onto the meme du jour amongst the left, the rather esoteric issue of the lack of up-armored Humvees in the battle regions of Iraq. After a planted question during a military town-hall session with Donald Rumsfeld brought this issue national attention, the Democrats have suddenly transformed themselves into armor-plating experts of a sort. Dayton has amusingly tried to top all of them, calling for the resignations of ... well, everyone: Sen. Mark Dayton urged President Bush Wednesday to order an investigation into the government's failure to provide enough armored vehicles for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a conference call with reporters, the Minnesota Democrat called the failure "outrageous and indefensible" and said Bush should ask everyone responsible to resign. Dayton said he is upset by recent reports that makers of the armored vehicles and armor kits had the capacity to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Intelligence Reform: The New Way To Get Kicked Upstairs

If anyone harbors doubts that the new intelligence-reform act represents anything more significant than an expansion of the American patronage system, this Washington Post report by Walter Pincus should remove them all. Titled "President Gets To Fill Ranks Of New Intelligence Superstructure," Pincus blithely lists the lengthy list of new managers sitting atop an already hidebound intelligence bureaucracy: President Bush is searching not only for a new director of national intelligence to become his chief adviser on intelligence but also for three other senior officials who will work atop the new organization created by the intelligence reform act he is scheduled to sign into law tomorrow. Along with the job of the intelligence director, or DNI, there is to be a principal deputy DNI, a director of a new national counterterrorism center, and a general counsel to the DNI, all of whom must be presidential appointees subject to Senate confirmation....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

UN Report: Massive Sexual Abuse By Peacekeepers In Congo

The United Nations has received a report from its own investigators detailing years of sexual abuse, extortion, and bribery in its own peacekeeping operation in Congo. Just as in other major operations conducted by the UN over the past decade, corruption and a lack of accountability has allowed the victims of genocidal dictatorships to be victimized again and repeatedly by the very organization that purports to champion them: The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations' standing in Congo. The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Showing Why "The Chevy Chase Show" Was No Fluke

Richard Leiby reports in today's Washington Post on an appearance by actor/comedian Chevy Chase at the Lincoln Center Tuesday night that was so embarrassing that even People For The American Way felt it necessary to scold Chase for his tasteless remarks against George Bush. Chase launched a profanity-laced tirade from which even Norman Lear disassociated himself: After actors Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon delivered speeches accepting their Defender of Democracy awards, Chase took the stage a final time and unleashed a rant against President Bush that stunned the crowd. He deployed the four-letter word that got Vice President Cheney in hot water, using it as a noun. Chase called the prez a "dumb [expletive]." He also used it as an adjective, assuring the audience, "I'm no [expletive] clown either. . . . This guy started a jihad." Chase also said: "This guy in office is an uneducated, real lying schmuck...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Eroding, Eroding

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took another political body blow yesterday as a key Republican Senator called for his removal in the coming months. Joining John McCain's no-confidence remark earlier this week, Trent Lott told a Biloxi Chamber of Commerce audience that he wants Rumsfeld out in 2005: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be replaced sometime in the next year, Sen. Trent Lott says. "I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers." ... Lott, speaking to the civic club Wednesday, said the United States needs more troops to help with the war and a plan to leave Iraq once elections take place in late January. The Mississippi Republican doesn't think Rumsfeld is the person to carry out that plan. "I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Warning Signal From Yanukovych?

Ukrainian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych gave a statement that sounds suspiciously like a warning of a potential military takeover of the nation if the rerun of the final election stage goes against him: Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, facing a new election battle against a liberal challenger buoyed by vast street protests, said on Thursday Ukraine had been cast into a crisis which could turn to disaster after the new vote. ... Speaking at his headquarters, Yanukovich restated his opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that led to the new vote. "This is not a conflict between the opposition and the authorities. It is a crisis which is determining the future of Ukraine," he said, while declining to answer questions. "Moreover, a real danger exists that after Dec. 26, Ukraine may be on the brink of a full-scale crisis." At first blush, this statement comes across as either...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Ohio -- One Step Forward, One Step Back

The comedy continues in Ohio today, where the ACLU and Jesse Jackson continue their efforts to manufacture a voting controversy in order to claim victimization for the next four years. Hanging chads have returned to the American electorate as recount teams try to divine voter intent from incompetence, while a federal judge tells Jackson to read the law before filing a complaint: In a scene reminiscent of Florida circa 2000, two teams of Republican and Democratic election workers held punch-card ballots up to the light Wednesday and whispered back and forth as they tried to divine the voters' intent from a few hanging chads. ... The scene is being repeated statewide this week in a recount in the state that put Bush over the top in the election last month. We should have learned the lesson four years ago: any process in which ballots get reviewed for "voter intent" is...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Cerdip Immortalizes CQ In Cartoon

Blog artist Cerdip has taken our ongoing battle against Brave Sir Dayton and immortalized it in cartoon form: Hmmm ... looks a lot like me, too ... [cough cough] Okay, maybe I have slightly less hair ... Be sure to check Cerdipity for the latest in artistic depictions of the news and the blogosphere!...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 17, 2004

Japan Blinks, For Now

After having been insulted by the North Koreans over fraudulent remains of kidnapped Japanese citizens, Japan threatened economic sanctions if Kim Jpng-Il's regime did not answer for its intransigence. This led to a threat from Pyongyang that Japanese sanctions would amount to war and that the DPRK would respond in kind. This morning, Japan blinked, at least for the moment: Japan says it will give North Korea more time to resolve a dispute over kidnapped Japanese citizens before imposing sanctions. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made the pledge after talks with visiting South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun. The Japanese government is under pressure to impose sanctions over a row concerning kidnapped Japanese. Japan had a lot of company, with Roo's voice joining that of China and the US advising that Japan essentially do nothing but complain. Kim Jong-Il has won another minor battle in the multilateral talks without much of a...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Norm Coleman Sends Warning Message On Rumsfeld

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, usually a staunch ally of the Bush administration, sent a message to the White House yesterday with a warning that explanations about the slow supply of armor to Iraq has not satisfied him. He said he didn't want to point fingers, but he intends on opening hearings if better explanations are not forthcoming: Sen. Norm Coleman said he had "serious misgivings" about the process of providing armored vehicles for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I have reservations about what the secretary and the Army have done in this regard," the Minnesota Republican said, but later added, "I'm not at the point of pointing fingers. I don't who did this. I don't know what happened." Coleman said he anticipates an Armed Services Committee investigation, but if that doesn't happen he would consider looking into the matter as chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. This came at...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Do You Think This Means Us?

The Council of Europe has recommended that its 46 member nations enact laws requiring Internet media outlets to allow governments the right to publish responses to articles correcting "false information" on their sites: The Council of Europe has called on its 46 member-states to introduce legislation on the right of reply to correct false information on online media. It said the Committee of (Foreign) Ministers, executive of the European human rights watchdog body, had adopted a recommendation on the right to reply for online Internet media. This recommended that members consider introducing legislation on the "right of reply or any other equivalent remedy, which allows a rapid correction of incorrect information in online or off-line media......" A statement said the recomendation "urges member-states to extend the right to reply which until now applied to the written press, radio and television, to online communication services providing information edited in a journalistic...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Hollywood (Finally) Goes To War

The Guardian (UK) reports in today's edition that Harrison Ford has signed onto a project depicting the Battle of Fallujah based on a book coming out in the spring. This film would be the first Hollywood has produced that looks at the Iraq War, an odd omission noted by several prominent entertainment figures including Roger L. Simon: Hollywood has joined the war. Universal Pictures announced yesterday that it is to make The Battle for Falluja. To prove it is serious, it has enlisted Indiana Jones himself, actor Harrison Ford, to help defeat the insurgency. The film - Hollywood's first foray into the second Iraq conflict - is due to go into production next year and will be based on a yet-to-be-finished book, No True Glory: The Battle for Falluja by Bing West, a former marine, politician and now war correspondent. The movie and book take as their starting point the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

CQ On The Air Today

I will be appearing on Kevin McCullough's show in a few minutes, part of his On-Air Blogroll. I am not sure exactly what Kevin wants to discuss, but I hope to talk about the European fright over free speech and the continuing political difficulties facing Donald Rumsfeld. Kevin is one of the few on-air personalities that really understands the blogosphere (Hugh Hewitt being pre-eminent among this select fraternity) and his support and friendship to CQ and me personally is very much appreciated. You can listen live here. UPDATE: As always, Kevin's show is a blast, and a big thanks to his producer Gary as well. Keep listening!...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Washington's Electoral Meltdown

The ongoing soap opera of Washington's gubernatorial election continues today with two new developments. The AP reports now that King County, a Democratic stronghold, has discovered yet another batch of supposedly uncounted, valid absentee ballots, bringing the total to over 700 that are in dispute. This follows a suggestion from the state GOP that only another election will restore confidence in the results: With Washington state in the middle of a recount of its amazingly close governor's race, election officials in Seattle's King County entered a warehouse Friday and found a plastic tray containing 150 misplaced ballots. The discovery brings the number of belatedly discovered ballots to 723 in the heavily Democratic county potentially enough to swing the election to Democrat Christine Gregoire. Republican Dino Rossi won the Nov. 2 election over Gregoire by 261 votes in the first count and by 42 after a machine recount of the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Braving The Shopping Frontier

My father, the Admiral Emeritus, is visiting this weekend and I'll be joining him shortly for lunch at the Mall of America, the largest US insane asylum for holiday shoppers. Later, we're taking him and his wife out for a holiday sleigh ride and bonfire dinner in Jordan at Minnesota Harvest (pictures certain to be forthcoming!). I'l be back on the blog later, but in the meantime, read this hilarious post about the Vagina Monologues by the Anchoress: My vagina and me, we're just fine as we are. My vagina is exclusive - do you hear me, EXCLUSIVE - given over for the enthusiastic romping and procreating of one good man, and the deliverance of two blessed other good young men. My vagina is no weeping sister of eternal caterwauling! I do not have to keep my legs crossed in order to muffle the sound of its distress! The walls...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

All I Can Tell You Is ...

... he who owns the biggest tires wins -- just like I told Hugh. UPDATE: Oh, sure. First Hugh starts this meme, and now Instapundit broadcasts it all over the blogosphere. At least he didn't call me something like Peeps. Er, well, not yet, anyway....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Controversial Ruling Stops King County Ballot Mining

A Washington state judge has stopped King County from counting any of the 723 ballots it discovered during the hand recount, ruling that state law prevents previously rejected ballots from reconsideration regardless of the circumstances of the rejection: A judge Friday granted a state Republican Party request to block the counting of hundreds of recently discovered King County ballots in the governor's race, which the GOP's candidate is winning by just a few dozen votes. Even if the election workers wrongly rejected the ballots 150 of which were discovered Friday it is too late for King County to reconsider them now, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend said. The ruling matches an earlier state Supreme Court decision that prevented reconsideration of other rejected ballots in the hand recount. It seems likely that the Supreme Court will get another chance to revisit its earlier decision next week, as...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

And Now The Loyalists Spring To The Defense

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finally got a show of support from GOP leaders in the Senate after taking a beating all week long from his own party. Senators Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell both spoke out in Rumsfeld's defense today: "I am confident that Secretary Rumsfeld is fully capable of leading the Department of Defense and our military forces to victory in Iraq and the war on terror," Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in a written statement. "Most importantly he has the confidence of his commanders in the field and our commander in chief." Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the GOP whip, said Rumsfeld "is an excellent secretary of defense and we are fortunate to have a man of his courage and vision serving the president at this critical time." It certainly took Frist and McConnell long enough to speak up. Perhaps the eruption of dissatisfaction with Rumsfeld among the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 18, 2004

One Of The Chief Rats Abandon The Sunken Ship

Tariq Aziz, the Chaldean Iraqi that helped prop up the genocidal maniac Saddam Hussein in his quest for first a pan-Arab and then pan-Islam empire, has now decided that indiscretion is the better part of avoiding the Iraqi execution squad. MS-NBC reports that Aziz has been warming up his singing voice and could become the star attraction at the trials of Saddam and his aides: David Kay a former U.S. adviser in Iraq spent months questioning Aziz and others. He says Aziz quickly turned on Saddam and could testify at any trial. "He talks about direct orders to murder, to assassinate, to kill," says Kay. Even more interesting, the US and the Volcker Commission intend on interviewing Aziz about the UN Oil-For-Food program. As the face of the Hussein regime and the de facto foreign minister, Aziz conducted most of the regime's diplomacy and would have critical knowledge...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Wheels Of Iraqi Justice Begin To Turn

After being liberated by the Anglo-American coalition of nations in spring 2003, one of the big questions was whether the Coalition would try the captured members of the Saddam Hussein regime for war crimes, la Nuremberg, or if the Iraqis could establish a system of justice that could handle the task themselves. Today the Iraqis begin to give the world its answer as investigative judges start questioning the prisoners as the opening of the trial process: Iraqi judges on Saturday started interrogating Saddam Hussein's former defense minister and the notorious general known as Chemical Ali, who is accused of gassing thousands of Kurds in the 1980s, the lead judge said. The investigative hearings for Sultan Hashim Ahmad, Saddam's last defense chief, and Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as Chemical Ali mark the opening of the trial process the first among 11 Saddam deputies who, along with Saddam himself, face...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Slow Syrian Retreat In Lebanon?

Syria seems to have responded to international pressure -- and the presence of 150,000 American troops on its eastern border -- and has "redeployed" its Lebanese contingent, moving them closer to Syria and out of the Beirut area: Syria, under intense pressure to quit Lebanon, pulled out its security forces from three key positions in Beirut and north Lebanon on Saturday and redeployed them in eastern Lebanon. The Lebanese army said in a statement the security positions that were vacated were in Beirut's international airport, the capital's Shi'ite southern suburb and one in northern Lebanon. Syria has around 14,000 troops in its tiny neighbor. Syria has been pressured for years to end its occupation of Lebanon, but has resisted closing out its second front against Israel. Since the American invasion of Iraq, however, Syria has learned that the politics of the region have changed rather dramatically. With George Bush's re-election,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Interviews For Inspectors Begin At The Cash Bar

The city of San Antonio has decided on a high-tech way to attack strip-club prostitution and ordinance violations -- starting on January 1, exotic dancers will be required to wear ID badges while performing: The City Council on Friday approved a measure requiring exotic dancers to apply for permits and wear them while performing. Law enforcement authorities said the rule, which was unanimously approved by the 11-member council and goes into effect in 10 days, will allow them to quickly identify dancers who are breaking nudity ordinances. (Among other things, full nudity and contact with customers are not allowed in San Antonio strip clubs.) Thanks to a series of rather stupid Supreme Court rulings, cities are unable to protect themselves from the deleterious effects of strip clubs on their communities after having ruled nude dancing a form of speech. In fact, nude dancing currently enjoys more legal protections than political...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today (Update!)

We'll be on the air for our last show of the year this afternoon, 12-3 pm CT, discussing a plethora of topics. You can expect plenty of Nick Coleman talk, especially in the third hour, as the Strib columnist has engaged in a series of phone calls and e-mail exchanges with Mitch Berg that frankly has had us in stitches all week long. Also, in the first hour, the First Mate has a Christmas gift for me that she insists I have to open on the air. The Mystery Gift should be opened sometime during the last half of the first hour, so be sure to tune in! UPDATE: The Mystery Gift turned out to be a terrific captain's hat: I haven't taken it off yet. I'll have a better picture from our Christmas dinner tonight with the Admiral Emeritus and our son's in-laws. (Shown laughing in picture -- Big...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

UN Retaliating Against Whistleblowers?

Three UN workers who collaborated on a whistleblowing book with the provocative title Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures have faced sanctions for their part in uncovering corruption within Turtle Bay, according to the London Telegraph: One of its three authors, Andrew Thomson, a New Zealander who has been a doctor on UN missions for more than 10 years, will no longer work for the organisation because his contract has not been renewed. Heidi Postlewait, a peacekeeping official, was officially reprimanded when the book was published in June because she did not ask for permission to write it. She has since been told that she must "explain herself" for continuing to speak out against the UN. The third author, Kenneth Cain, has left the organisation. Why has Dr. Thompson suddenly seen his contract waived by the UN? Possibly for having the temerity to testify in Washington to assist in the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 19, 2004

Chemical Ali's Salad Bar

The judicial investigation of Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known to Westerners as "Chemical Ali," has already revealed more about the character of the man than expected. The London Telegraph reports that tapes of Ali's tirades show the extent of the inhumanity endemic to the Saddam Hussein regime: Gruesome tapes of Saddam Hussein's most feared henchman threatening to cut up his thousands of victims "like cucumbers" have been disclosed as Iraqi war-crimes judges began court proceedings against him yesterday. Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's cousin and the man nicknamed "Chemical Ali" for gassing up to 5,000 Kurds, is also heard vowing to swamp Kurdish villages with clouds of poison for up to 15 days as part of his brutal campaign of suppression in the late 1980s. In chilling words that foreshadow the mass graves that now litter the country, he gives warning that the body count will be so great that Iraqi...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

AQ In Decline In Saudi Arabia

Al-Qaeda has apparently declined in stature in its own Wahhabist birthplace to such an extent that its strategies have had to shift towards avoiding Saudi targets, curtailing a key AQ goal of undermining and overthrowing the Saudi royal family. Today's Washington Post reports that AQ operations have a much narrower focus than before: Al Qaeda forces in Saudi Arabia have shifted their strategy and are now almost exclusively searching for U.S. and other Western targets in the kingdom while avoiding attacks on domestic institutions in a bid to strengthen their flagging network, according to security officials and Saudi experts on radical groups. While al Qaeda retains its primary goal of eventually toppling the Saudi royal family -- as Osama bin Laden made clear in an audio recording released Thursday -- an 18-month campaign of car bombings, gun battles and kidnappings has so far failed to generate many new recruits and...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Latino Advocates Learn Lesson From Election; NAACP Clueless?

Darryl Fears reports in today's Washington Post that the 2004 elections taught at least one ethnic-advocacy group the dangers of a strictly adversarial relationship with Republicans, and the incoming leadership has decided to shift directions: At [the National Council of] La Raza, a change in strategy is in the works. Yzaguirre, who was the group's president for more than 30 years, approached issues and politics with direct confrontation. "My posture has been we are going to award our friends and come down on our enemies," Yzaguirre said. "We are going to speak out on [Bush's] policies if they hurt our people." But [Janet] Murguia, who served as deputy director for legislative affairs for the Clinton White House and as a liaison between the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign and constituent groups in 2000, said she is planning to improve La Raza's relations with the White House. "One of the first lessons you...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Time Magazine Names Power Line Blog Of The Year

The Northern Alliance is proud to congratulate our friends and colleagues at Power Line for their honor at being named Blog of the Year by Time Magazine. CNN reports on the honor as part of their article on George Bush being named Time's Person of the Year: This year the magazine named the conservative "Power Line" as its first "Blog of the Year." Kelly said blogs, Web sites that often mix news, gossip and opinion, are "here to stay." Time has a complete story on the Power Line trio in its issue hitting the newsstands tomorrow; its Internet publication requires subscription. I'll be picking up my copy as soon as possible -- maybe I'll even get Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker to sign it. I can't think of three nicer or more deserving men to get this kind of recognition. Join me in congratulating my friends on their great success....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

They Threw An Election And No One Came

The dictatorship of Turkmenistan conducted a parliamentary election today, electing new members for its rubber-stamp partnership with the personality-cult strongman Saparmurat Niyazov. Unfortunately for Niyazov, his oppressive rule has made elections so superfluous that polling officials had to go door-to-door to get people to vote: Polling stations were nearly empty Sunday in elections for Turkmenistan's rubber-stamp parliament, forcing officials to carry ballot boxes door-to-door in this nation ruled by a former Soviet Communist boss who has been declared president-for-life. The 131 candidates contesting Parliament's 50 seats all represent the Central Asian country's only party, the Democratic Party led by President Saparmurat Niyazov. ... All the candidates officially support Niyazov's policies, and based their campaigns on promoting the ideas in his book, "Rukhnama," which sets moral and spiritual guidelines for the country's citizens. It is held as a sacred text. The act of boycotting the elections actually represents a remarkable protest...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Palestinians Choosing Annihilation

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Palestinian leadership has once again insisted that they will never accept any "settlement" that does not include an absolute right of return for refugees -- a right that would completely destabilize democratic Israel and touch off the population bomb that Palestinians hope to use to destroy it: The Palestinian Authority will never give up the right of return for all refugees to their original homes inside Israel, Zakariya al-Agha, head of the PLO's Refugees Department, said on Saturday. ... The Palestinian leadership, [al-Agha] emphasized, will never sign any deal with Israel that abolishes the right of all the refugees to return to their original homes. It is "a red line for the Palestinian leadership that can't be trespassed," he said. "There won't be stability in the region until each one of the refugees feels that he has attained his freedom to return to his...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Killing Them With Kindness

Nelson Mandela has created a tradition for South African Christmases where he and his wife throw a large party and hand out gifts to any children who attend -- usually the poor. Unfortunately, South Africa has no shortage of poverty, as Eastern Cape police discovered: A children's Christmas party given by former South African President Nelson Mandela was thrown into chaos after thousands turned up for free gifts. Police fought to hold back up to 75,000 children and adults attempting to get into the venue in Mr Mandela's home village of Qunu, Eastern Cape. Police said they were unprepared for the massive surge. No-one was injured. What did Mandela have to say to this tidal wave of children descending upon his party? Not much, considering he absented himself from the proceedings, although for perfectly understandable reasons: his son is critically ill and he's staying at his bedside. The rational action...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Rumsfeld Digs A Little Deeper (Updated)

In a development that hardly helps out the beleaguered Defense Secretary, Reuters reports that Donald Rumsfeld did not personally sign the sympathy notes sent to the families of American servicemen and women who died in Iraq. Lawmakers objected, with Senator Chuck Hagel mimicking John McCain's earlier statement of no confidence: Rumsfeld acknowledged that he had not signed the letters to family members of more than 1,000 U.S. troops killed in action and in a statement said he would now sign them in his own hand. "This issue of the secretary of Defense not personally signing the letters is just astounding to me and it does reflect how out of touch they are and how dismissive they are," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I have no confidence in Rumsfeld," Hagel added. More than in the kerfuffle relating to the uparmoring of Humvees,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 20, 2004

The Transformative Power Of Free Speech

Today's Guardian (UK) reports on what likely is the vanguard of a second Iranian revolution. Iranian bloggers have made Farsi the fourth biggest language in blogs, as over 75,000 sites have opened on the Internet under the noses of one of the strictest totalitarian regimes. The number of Iranian bloggers far outstrips that of those in neighboring countries and allows democracy-minded activists a means to network information to each other and the outside world: In the last five years up to 100 media publications, including 41 daily newspapers, have been closed by Iran's hardline judiciary. Yet today, with tens of thousands of Iranian weblogs there is an alternative media that for the moment defies control and supervision of speech by authoritarian rule. ... While for some blogging allows them to revel in the forbidden, for others it's a way of organising action and spreading the word. As RSF's 2004 Internet...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

NFL Game Causes Stir In Upper Midwest

The decision to schedule the big Vikings-Packers game for Christmas Eve has riled up pastors and congregations in both Minnesota and Green Bay, especially where churches rescheduled services to accommodate football fans. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that a segment of the faithful have called into question their church's commitment to the Lord as well as the judgment and avarice of the NFL: When the Rev. David Pleier of St. Bernard Catholic Church in Green Bay, Wis., announced that his church was eliminating its 4 p.m. mass on Christmas Eve because it conflicts with the 2 p.m. start of Friday's Vikings-Packers game, one congregant commented, "You mean to say you're putting football ahead of the birth of Christ?" "If we had a 4 o'clock service, we'd have family members saying, 'You go to church, but I'm not missing the second half," Pleier said. "At a time when we hope families will...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

World Bank Chief Talking Transition

James Wolfensohn woke up his World Bank employees during an otherwise unremarkable end-of-year speech last week, when he suddenly mentioned "leadership succession", according to the Wshington Post's Al Kamen: "I would like to report to you on the Senior Management Team's annual 'strategic forum,' " he began, apparently in a desperate bid to reduce his audience. He droned on for a while about meeting "Millennium Development Goals," or, as we say in the biz, MDGs, and such. Then, just toward the end, came this: "I know that there is anxiety regarding leadership succession at the Bank." Oh, really? "We can expect clarity on the situation early in the new year, and I have no doubt that we will make an effective transition." Translation: Colin Powell becomes available after Condoleezza Rice's confirmation hearings for her appointment as Secretary of State. After she wins Senate approval, expect to see Powell approached to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Saudi Grip On Political Power In Middle East Slipping

In an ominous sign for the Saudis, the member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- an economic coalition of Arab states -- have rejected a call from the kingdom to negotiate with the West exclusively through the collective which the Saudis have long dominated: Saudi Arabia called Monday for Arab Gulf states to speak with one voice, implied criticism against countries making trade agreements with the United States, but Bahrain said it had no intention of abstaining from such deals. ... A Gulf official at the summit said the other five states Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates would make their own arrangements with Washington whether the Saudis like it or not. The official spoke on customary condition of anonymity. The Saudis sent a lower-level minister to the GCC for the first time to register their dissatisfaction with the direction of the council, but the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Novak Weighs In On Frist And The Nuclear Option

Robert Novak lined up behind Senate majority leader Bill Frist and the so-called nuclear option of a rule change to eliminate filibusters on judicial nominations. Novak points out that Democratic Senator Robert Byrd created four precedents for such rule changes when he ran the Senate, and that nothing short of a rule change will stop the planned filibusters from continuing: Ever since Frist publicly embraced the nuclear option, he has been accused of abusing the Senate's cherished tradition of extended debate. In truth, during six years as majority leader, Democrat Robert C. Byrd four times detonated the nuclear option to rewrite Senate rules. Thus, Frist would set no precedent, would not contradict past Republican behavior and would not strip the GOP of protection as a future Senate minority. The question is whether Republican senators will flinch from the only maneuver open to confirm Bush's judges. The unprecedented Democratic plan to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Another Point Of View On Rumsfeld

Earlier today, I updated my latest post on the controversy surrounding Donald Rumsfeld with some clarifications. Dafydd ab Hugh, a regular reader and often a vocal CQ critic, sent me a private reply that I found intriguing -- even though Dafydd still disagreed with me. Seeing as how most CQ readers feel I've strayed a bit off the reservation here, I thought you might like to read Dafydd's note, and Dafydd graciously allowed me to post it here. Dafydd responded to this point in my earlier post: I disagree strongly with those who believe Rumsfeld is indispensable. I think he's the best man for the job, but no one is indispensable, and the Bush administration should have a succession plan in place in any case. What if Rummy dies of a heart attack tomorrow, or simply decides to retire? If that causes us to lose the war, then our war...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Christmas, Phase I: The Little People Revolt

This weekend, the Admiral Emeritus and his wife came to visit us for an early Christmas celebration. We made a big Christmas dinner and invited our son's in-laws to join the First Mate and I, our son David and his wife Missy, the Little Admiral, and Missy's sister DeeAnn and her boyfriend Andy, who's renting a room at our house now. My dad and his wife wound up buying the Little Admiral a Little People Discovery Village, one of a wonderful set of Little People toys from Fisher Price. It's so wonderful, in fact, that the gift duplicated one that the First Mate and I had already bought for her. (She'll get our gifts on Christmas Day.) Here's the Little Admiral ignoring everyone and everything else to play with her new toys, along with the Admiral Emeritus and her daddy looking on from the background: This toy actually brought quite...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

How The GOP Made The Specter Issue Irrelevant

The GOP juggled commitee assignments today, shifting two strong anti-abortion advocates to the Senate Judiciary Commitee to give George Bush ample political support for the expected conservative nominees to federal courts this session of Congress: Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Sen.-elect Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will join the panel's eight returning Republicans next month, assuming the Republican Conference follows tradition and approves the leadership's committee assignments for all 55 GOP senators. The breakdown of Judiciary will be 10 Republicans and eight Democrats. ... Brownback and Coburn replace Sens. Larry E. Craig (Idaho) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), who will shift to other committees. Craig and Chambliss are solid conservatives but are not as focused on abortion as their replacements are. Democrats, who lost four net Senate seats last month, will not replace the retiring Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) on the committee. Their eight remaining members will stay on the panel. The Senate...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 21, 2004

Death To The Infidel! And Where The Hell Is My Money?

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, currently in jail in Britain for incitement to murder and subject of an American extradition effort for terrorist activities, wants the West to pay. Specifically, he wants Britain to pay for the welfare benefits he claims that are owed him: Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who is in a British jail on incitement to murder charges, is to sue welfare officials for thousands of pounds in extra state benefits. Hamza, who is due in court next month on incitement to murder charges, claims he has been denied benefits worth 200 pounds a week for nearly three years, The Sun newspaper said Tuesday. His family are already taking in benefits worth over 1,000 pounds a week, it said. Meanwhile, he is kept at the taxpayers' expense in jail, has his own personal nurse and even received a new hook worth 5,000 pounds, which is...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Boarded-Up Bethlehem Israel's Fault?

The UN released a typically biased report about the critical economic condition in the town of Bethlehem, whence our Christmas celebration springs. It notes the rapid decline in tourism and blames Israeli defensive actions: Urban Bethlehem, with a population of about 61,000, is now surrounded by nine Israeli settlements, roads restricted to Israelis, a multitude of checkpoints, 78 physical obstacles, and an Israeli barrier nearing completion on two sides of the town to protect against suicide attacks and other violence, the report said. As a result, Bethlehem has become isolated from the rest of the West Bank and most importantly from Jerusalem which is only a few miles away, it said. Tourism has plummeted from a monthly average of 91,726 visitors in 2000 to 7,249 in the first 10 months of 2004, a slight increase over 2003, it said. Since Bethlehem's residents rely overwhelmingly on the tourism sector, the economy...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Congressional Hypocrisy On 9/11 Reform

After holding the executive branch's feet to the fire to implement the 9/11 Commission reform recommendations in the intelligence agencies, Congress has decided to give itself a pass from enacting any reform on the legislative branch. The New York Times reports that recommendations to streamline intelligence oversight have gone unsupported by members who fear losing influence and power: In its unanimous final report in July, the commission cataloged years of turf battles and incompetence by the intelligence and counterterrorism agencies, especially the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., and suggested that Congress had to share the blame for the failure to disrupt the Sept. 11 terrorist plot. "Congressional oversight for intelligence and counterterrorism is now dysfunctional," the report said. "So long as oversight is governed by current Congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they need and want." The commission called either for the creation...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Democratic Marginalization Picks Up Speed

The marginalization of the Democratic Party continued to pick up pace in Kentucky, where a traditionally "blue" area saw three of its elected officials switch to the GOP. The Courier-Journal reported that the local party chairman resigned the same day: Three elected officials in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Shelby County defected yesterday to the Republican Party, the same day the local Democratic chairman resigned. The three officials cited varying reasons for their switch, including conflicts with national Democrats on such issues as abortion, guns and taxes, and said the GOP better represents their moral and economic values. "It certainly doesn't reflect my personal beliefs," Shelby County Attorney Chuck Hickman said of the Democratic Party, which he had been a member of for 24 years. He was joined by Simpsonville City Commissioner Cary Vowels and Shelby County Coroner Tommy Sampson. Four deputy coroners and Sampson's son, an emergency medical technician,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Putin Smells The Coffee

After a full month of openly backing the handpicked successor to Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Vladimir Putin has suddenly reversed course and proclaimed his readiness to work with opposition candidate and frontrunner Viktor Yuschenko, the AP reports: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who openly backed Viktor Yushchenko's rival for president of the Ukraine, said Tuesday he could work with an administration headed by the pro-Western candidate. "We have worked with him already and the cooperation was not bad," Putin said during a visit to Germany. "If he wins, I don't see any problems." Just a couple of weeks ago, Putin warned of a civil war in Ukraine if Yushchenko won a new run-off election. His comments sparked talks of secession in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has significant influence and where PM Viktor Yanukovych enjoys his greatest support. In fact, the AP also reports that Yushchenko's campaign caravan was denied entry into...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Definition Of Insanity ...

... is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. (via Instapundit and Shot In The Dark) UPDATE: I thought this might be too good to be true, and according to eagle-eyed CQ readers in the comments, it is. It's still pretty danged funny, regardless. According to Snopes, the first crane toppling in is real, but the second is a Photoshop job....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Best Mouthpieces That Genocidal Charm Can Buy

Saddam Hussein will get legal representation from around the world in his attempt to beat the rap on hundreds of thousands of murder charges, not to mention rape, torture, and war crimes. Arthur Chrenkoff takes a good look at the defense team that Saddam's family has chosen to shill for the genocidal lunatic. As expected, a number of far-left legal minds have leapt at the chance to defend one of the twentieth century's most significant fascists: Of Emmanuel Ludot little is known outside his own country, except a for his penchant for controversial cases. In the past he represented a cancer sufferer suing over the Chernobyl disaster. In case you were wondering the suit wasn't against the Soviet Union but the French government for allowing people to consume food possibly contaminated by the radioactive fallout over France. According to one recent report, "Mr Ludot... called the Iraqi penal code 'Stone...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Costly Game Of Hide And Seek

The 21st Century Democrats, a PAC affiliated with the DNC, has found out that Minnesota means business when we demand full disclosure on donations. After ruling that the Democrats had slipped in hundreds of thousands of dollars without disclosing their source, the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure board issued a stinging rebuke and a six-figure fine: Minnesota campaign regulators slapped a national Democratic political group with $317,950 in fines Tuesday for violating state campaign finance disclosure laws, the largest penalty of its kind issued in Minnesota. The 21st Century Democrats is the same organization at the center of a campaign finance flap involving House Democratic leader Matt Entenza, whose $300,000 in contributions to the group prompted Republicans to file complaints with state and federal election watchdogs on Monday. I posted about Entenza's checkbook politicking three weeks ago. At the time, I speculated that the 21st Century Democrats and Entenza would...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 22, 2004

Gregoire By Eight: Dems

Democrats in the state of Washington claimed victory late last night, telling reporters that the recount totals from King County had given Christine Gregoire an eight-vote margin over Dino Rossi: The stunning turnaround was reported late Tuesday by the head of the state Democratic Party, who said party officials' analysis of hand-counted returns from King County the last county to finish the grueling process showed that Gregoire had eclipsed the dwindling margin that Republican Dino Rossi has held since Election Day. "We're confident Christine Gregoire has been elected the governor of the state of Washington," Democratic Chairman Paul Berendt said. "I believe Dino Rossi should concede." Neither King County nor the state Republican Party could confirm the recount results that led to the Democrats' analysis. GOP officials have said they were likely to take the matter to court in the event of a Gregoire win. This sounds rather...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Obsessed By Polling (Updated)

I used to chastise Bill Clinton for his obsession with polling data before making decisions, but the current crop of Democratic leaders put Bill to shame. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, demanded the raw exit-polling data from the 2004 election, saying that it will prove intentional voter disenfranchisement: Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan said in a letter released Tuesday in Washington that the polling firms that conducted the polls on behalf of the news organizations, Mitofsky International and Edison Media Research, had declined to share the information with the committee. "Without the raw data, the committee will be severely handicapped in its efforts to show the need for serious election reform in the United States," Conyers said in the letter. ... Conyers' letter said the exit poll information could help determine whether there is evidence "of voting irregularities that occurred as a result of...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Ohio Recount Results In Little Change

In a story that most newspapers appear to have left on the wire, Ohio announced that their recounts have almost completed, with both presidential candidates picking up a handful of votes: With recount results reported in 86 of 88 counties Tuesday, President Bush picked up 438 votes and Sen. John Kerry got an extra 680, narrowing Bush's 119,000-vote lead by 242 votes, according to an Associated Press survey of the counties. ... Kerry's concession hasn't deterred critics who feel that alleged voting problems in Ohio called the outcome into question. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Massachusetts-based Alliance for Democracy have accused the Bush campaign of "high-tech vote stealing." An AP review of electronic voting found few reports of widespread problems. Elections officials of both parties were confident the election was fair and done properly. Jesse Jackson and the rest of the reactionaries on the Left need to be cut...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Annan Wants US To Move On

Kofi Annan issued a coded call for America to drop its investigations into the United Nations and leave him alone, as he cheered the end of an admittedly horrible year for the Secretary-General and the United Nations: At a year-end news conference Tuesday, Annan said he had no intentions of stepping down over allegations of corruption in the Iraqi oil-for-food program, which have "cast a shadow" over the United Nations and especially over its relations with Washington. "The United States needs the United Nations and the United Nations needs the United States," the secretary-general said. "And we need to find a way of working together." "The current criticisms and the attacks have not been helpful for the relationship, regardless of which quarter it comes from, and we need to find a way of putting those kinds of acrimonious discussions behind us and move on," he added. Annan once again shows...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Growing Republican Majority

Bizjournals published a study it conducted on population shifts within the United States, and it concludes that red states will see more representation in Congress and the Electoral College after 2010 than now, and the gains will come at some expense to blue states: Arizona, Florida, Texas and Utah would each gain one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if districts were reapportioned today, according to an analysis by American City Business Journals. Iowa, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, would each lose a seat. The U.S. Census Bureau released new state-by-state population estimates for 2004 Wednesday. ACBJ used those figures to hypothetically reapportion House seats today, six years in advance of the next scheduled reapportionment in 2010. The gains are split between red and blue states, although Iowa barely qualified as a red state this year. Momentum seems to be shifting towards the redder states,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Remembering That We're At War (Updated)

Yesterday's attack in Mosul that left 15 American soldiers dead, along with scores of others wounded, serves as a reminder to Americans that we remain at war with terrorists, and not that the terrorists are winning. However, judging from some of the rhetoric that one finds coming from TV analysts, it's apparent that this lesson is somehow lost on our fellow citizens. According to initial news accounts, the terrorists mounted a rocket attack on a vulnerable position within our base in Mosul, a forward station that expects to be targeted for attack. The Washington Post updates that with more ominous speculation: The explosion, which came at noon, was at first believed to be caused by a mortar round or rocket that pierced the white canvas tent that serves as mess hall at Forward Operating Base Marez, near the Mosul airport. But in an online assertion of responsibility for the attack,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Village Voice Scolds Democratic Conspiracy-Mongers ... For Missing The Bigger Conspiracy

Rick Perlstein in the Village Voice writes a very convoluted essay that both chides the Democrats for spewing insane conspiracy theories about the 2004 election, and at the same time spins an even more ludicrous paranoid fantasy about why Democrats keep losing elections. He wants Democrats to shut up about what he sees as trivialities and easily-explainable happenstances and instead focus on the eeeeeevil genius of Karl Rove: It's possible that their vindication will come, that what's already being referred to as the "vote fraud community"the allusion is to the "JFK assassination research community"won't disappear up its very own grassy knoll. But the charges producing the greatest heat online often turn out to have the most innocent explanations. The recount isn't amounting to much, either. Last week the Franklin County Board of Elections did discover one extra vote for Kerryoffset by the extra vote they found for Bush. The irregularities...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Washington Supreme Court OK's Ballot Mining

Washington's state Supreme Court ordered King County officials to count the 723 ballots that they claimed to have discovered after the second machine recount, which presumably would give Democrat Christine Gregoire enough of a margin to edge out Republican Dino Rossi for the governorship: Washington state's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that more than 700 belatedly discovered ballots from Seattle's King County should be counted in the extraordinarily close governor's race potentially enough to tip the balance in favor of Democrat Christine Gregoire. This appears to reverse their earlier ruling that previously-disqualified ballots could not be used in a recount. It looks like Washington's justices have succumbed to the Florida syndrome, in which judges substitute their own ideas of fair play for the regulations established by the state legislature. At this point, it hardly makes a difference; the mess that Washington created with its election could hardly be made much...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Doing My Penance For Blake Magaoay

Tonight I fulfilled a promise to the First Mate and took her to a midweek Mass and reconciliation -- what we used to call confession before making it sound more friendly. Our pastor celebrates Wednesday night Mass in our chapel, due to the small turnout it receives; on a typical Sunday Mass, our church gets hundreds of people, but tonight less than 20 attended. (The below-zero temperature in Minnesota might have something to do with that, too.) With the smaller group, the congregation volunteered our own intentions rather than just having them read off to us, reminiscent of prayer groups I've attended in the past. After Mass, we went directly to confession and wound up near the front of the line. While I am not a big fan of confession -- I've written about this before -- I always find it cathartic afterwards, especially when I pray as my penance...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 23, 2004

The Cross Shines Through

Los Angeles recently caved in to an ACLU demand to change its city seal, which had a cross in one small sector commemmorating LA's missionary history. At the time, the county board of supervisors estimated that the cost to replace the city seal in all locations and in all correspondence would total around $700,000, which they felt was cheaper than actually defending the historical nature of the seal in court. The move attracted wide derision as political cowardice, especially when people like Hugh Hewitt noted that the ACLU had not expressed any misgivings about the highly prominent rendition of the goddess Pomona. Many people also questioned the low estimate of the county's cost for the change. Now we find out why the estimate was so low. The LA Daily News reports that the county cheaped out and used adhesive stickers to cover the old seals instead of replacing them --...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

How Not To Dress For Your Flight

Michelle Malkin takes the Transportation Security Administration and its Federal Air Marshal service to task this morning, and for good reason. Earlier this month, Michelle reported on a silly dress code that the FAM hierarchy insisted on enforcing with its agents. The dress code required collared shirts and sport coats at a minimum, making the air marshals rather easily identifiable in an age of casual wear, especially while traveling. In fact, Malkin noted at the time that FAM chief Thomas Quinn threatened to suspend dozens of air marshals at Reagan International when he spotted them wearing non-conforming clothes. After her initial report, Quinn had spokespeople hit the cable talk circuit denying any dress code exists. However, Michelle had struck a nerve with the air marshals, and now has plenty of sources that pass along information to the contrary. She posts a memo from a SAC citing a Quinn directive that...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Democrats Rethinking Abortion, Or Merely Repackaging?

The Los Angeles Times picks up on a movement within the Democratic Party to moderate their views on abortion in order to capture the American political center again. Peter Wallsten and Mary Curtis report that the Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate have urged former Congressman and 9/11 Commission member Tim Roemer to run for DNC chair, against vehemently pro-abortion Howard Dean: After long defining itself as an undisputed defender of abortion rights, the Democratic Party is suddenly locked in an internal struggle over whether to redefine its position to appeal to a broader array of voters. The fight is a central theme of the contest to head the Democratic National Committee, particularly between two leading candidates: former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who supports abortion rights, and former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, an abortion foe who argues that the party cannot rebound from its losses in the November...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

NFL Snubs Roethlisberger

The NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters yesterday, and the AFC roster is missing a quarterback that has won 11 games in a row and is the odds-on favorite for a Super Bowl appearance. Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie who has Steel City fans thinking championship for the first time in a decade, will apparently watch the Pro Bowl from home: Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger missed out as six of his Steelers team-mates were named to the NFL's annual all-star Pro Bowl on Wednesday. The rookie quarterback is unbeaten in 12 starts and could lead Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl crown. But he was surprisingly overlooked in the AFC squad for the trip to Hawaii in February. Obviously, Peyton Manning deserves the start for the AFC, with 11 wins and 47 touchdown passes in a season where he will almost certainly eclipse Dam Marino's record. However, the inclusion of...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

I'm Siding With The Feminists On This One

Today's Opinion Journal reports on a strange Austrian custom whose time has surely passed -- The Krampus Run. This may sound like a bowel disorder to American ears, but to Salzburg natives, the Krampus rampage represents a cherished if chaotic Christmas tradition ... but the mayhem aims squarely at women, in what seems to be celebration of male rage: The Krampus is to Salzburg what the bull is to Pamplona, an oversized beast that sends an adrenaline rush of terror through the cobblestone streets of the old town, all in the name of cultural heritage. For a full week during the start of the holiday season, scores of Krampuses stalk the cobbled ways of Salzburg and its surrounding villages. The Krampus is a hybrid-beast of pagan origins that has been affixed to the Christmas season and looks like he stepped out of the pages of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Yanukovych Now Styles Himself An Outsider

Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, whose run-off victory in November was annulled by the Ukrainian Supreme Court after massive vote fraud provoked a huge protest movement, has lost the support of his former patron and current president, Leonid Kuchma. As a result, Yanukovych has now decided to cast his candidacy -- which once enjoyed the backing of the current government, the state-influenced media, and the Russians -- as that of the crusading outsider: Viktor Yanukovych is trying to reinvent himself. A prime minister who was once considered the pro-government candidate, Yanukovych has, in the runup to Sunday's court-ordered election revote, put himself forward as an opposition figure - keeping at arm's length his own boss and former backer, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma. The reinvention came after he was abandoned not only by Kuchma, but also by his campaign manager and other key campaign advisers and supporters. Even the Kremlin, which...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Bush Challenges Democrats To Round Two On Judicial Nominees

After seeing the Senate minority leader lose his re-election bid in part due to Tom Daschle's efforts at obstructing George Bush's judicial nominations, the White House has anted up a second time, promising to nominate the same candidates in the new session of Congress: President Bush said on Thursday he would renominate a group of controversial judicial nominees who were blocked by Senate Democrats, signaling the start of a second-term battle over the make-up of the nation's top courts. Emboldened by his re-election victory and gains by Republicans in the Senate, Bush plans to renominate a total of 20 nominees to the nation's court of appeals and district courts, the White House said. Ten of those nominees drew filibusters or threats to obstruct their progress, an unprecedented action that may have allowed the GOP to convince voters that Democrats overreached in Bush's first term. Harry Reid, Daschle's replacement as minority...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The UN's Abu Ghraib? They Wish

The London Times reports that surreptitiously filmed sex videos may create an Abu Ghraib-like scandal for the UN in Congo. A UN field "expert" shot the videos using hidden cameras while he had sex with Congolese women and children supposedly under the protection of the UN and sold the videos on the black market: HOME-MADE pornographic videos shot by a United Nations logistics expert in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sparked a sex scandal that threatens to become the UNs Abu Ghraib. The expert was a Frenchman who worked at Goma airport as part of the UNs $700 million-a-year effort to rebuild the war-shattered country. When police raided his home they discovered that he had turned his bedroom into a studio for videotaping and photographing sex sessions with young girls. The bed was surrounded by large mirrors on three sides, according to a senior Congolese police officer. On the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Rummy Steps Up

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to the troops in Iraq, spending Christmas Eve with the men and women in Mosul where a bomber killed twenty-two earlier this week: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a surprise Christmas Eve visit with the troops three days after the devastating attack on a U.S. military dining hall here, told soldiers he remained confident of defeating the insurgency and stabilizing Iraq, while noting that to some "it looks bleak." "There's no doubt in my mind, this is achievable," Rumsfeld, who flew here under tight security, told a couple of hundred 1st Brigade soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division at their commander's headquarters. He promised them that later in life they will look back and feel pride at having contributed to a mission of historic importance. "When it looks bleak, when one worries about how it's going to come out, when...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Democrats To Push For End To Electoral College

After the 2004 elections, the Democrats looked at the voting pattern across the United States in the presidential election. Even worse than the state-by-state breakdown, the county map showing the level of support for John Kerry demonstrated the balkanization of the Democrats into the main urban areas, primarily on the coasts. Unsurprisingly, Democrats have lost enthusiasm for the Electoral College as they see less and less likelihood of holding onto anything but the large cities in the future, and Dianne Feinstein announced today that she will propose its demise: Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that when Congress returns in January, she will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one-person, one-vote system for electing the nation's president and vice president. In introducing the amendment, the Democrat from San Francisco is joining Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who last month introduced a similar proposal...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 24, 2004

Freakin' At The Freaker's Ball

Incompetence met intolerance at a Chicago-area YMCA last weekend, resulting in the dismissal of two YMCA executives and the revelation of some curious event scheduling at the ostensibly Christian organization: YMCA director has been fired and overnight facility rentals banned after the parents of young children arriving for a morning swim meet clashed with participants in an overnight transgender fashion show and ball. ... Authorities said a YMCA member had reserved the entire facility from 11 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday for the fashion show and ball. The YMCA rented out the rooms, although families were scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m to use some of the same rooms for a swim meet. When I read this, I shook my head and wondered what the hell happened to the YMCA I used to know. Their overt Christianity has mellowed over the years, but I cannot fathom how an organization...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Shifting Standards Of Christine Gregoire

Perspective is a funny thing. When one trails in an election by 261 votes, one views the result as a "virtual tie." If the margin narrows to 42, then it becomes a flat-out tie. But when the count reverses in one's favor and amounts to 130, all of a sudden the race is over. Such are the vagaries of Christine Gregoire, the apparent governor-elect of Washington despite having lost two of three vote counts: Gregoire said at a news conference in the Capitol last night she would not declare victory until the election is certified next week. "A lot of heated words have been said during this recount," Gregoire said. "But with the election coming to a close, I am confident that we can begin to move forward as one state." Gregoire did not call on Rossi to concede, but said she would have conceded if she were the one...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

From the First Mate, Whiskey, and I to all CQ readers -- we all wish you a blessed and merry Christmas with your friends and family. I'll be posting Little Admiral pictures during the day ... Addendum: I'm posting this at 2 AM as we just got back home from a midnight Mass. Here's the homily from Pope John Paul II's midnight Mass homily at the Vatican: 1. "Adoro te devote, latens Deitas." "Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore." On this night, the opening words of this celebrated Eucharistic hymn echo in my heart. These words accompany me daily in this year dedicated to the Eucharist. In the Son of the Virgin, "wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12), we acknowledge and adore "the Bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6:41, 51), the Redeemer who came among us in order to bring life...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Kerry The E-Mail Santa?

John Kerry took a lot of flack for hoarding over $15 million during his presidential run rather than spending it on his own candidacy or to assist down-ticket campaigns. Now the Washington Post reports that Kerry may hold his large e-mail list as a lever with which to control the Democratic Party: The former Democratic presidential candidate built, over the course of his two-year campaign, one of the biggest e-mail lists in his party. More than 2.7 million supporters signed up to receive his campaign e-mails, which his advisers have said were critical to its fundraising success. Now, as Democrats survey the post-election landscape, some are wondering what Kerry might do with all those e-mail addresses. It is a relatively new question. Few cared what happened, for example, to Al Gore's e-mail list when his Democratic presidential campaign folded. But with the increasing maturation of the Internet as a political...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

While We Gather Around The Christmas Tree ...

... our brothers in Christ living in Iraq hide around theirs, afraid to demonstrate their Christianity or celebrate Christmas in public. The atttacks on churches by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has made the Chaldean and Orthodox communities in Iraq frightened into silence for this holiday season: Huddled with his family around a kerosene heater, Sirab Suleyman, a 28-year-old Iraqi Christian, retreats into memories of Christmases past. Before the church bombings, the threats against Christian businesses and the gathering exodus of Iraq's Christian minority, there was a time when Suleyman and his Muslim friends used to spend Christmas caroling in the streets, enjoying each other's company. "Before the war, Muslims and Christians used to celebrate Christmas together," he said, as he rubbed his hands for warmth in his modest living room. "Muslims used to visit their Christian friends and greet them. It was a true celebration. That's over now." Not all Iraqi...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

The Calm Before The Storm

For those of you who may have wondered why CQ was so quiet yesterday -- two posts? -- I figured you'd like to see what kept me so preoccupied. I hadn't wrapped any Christmas gifts, so while I watched the Green Bay Packers edge out the Minnesota Vikings yesterday for the division title, I got all the gifts wrapped up nicely and put under the tree. When I finished and added in all the gifts that our family sent, it wound up looking ... well, a bit embarassing: I would say that we have quite a task getting through all of these gifts later this afternoon when our son, daughter-in-law, and the Little Admiral join us for dinner. In the meantime, we're relaxing after a long, tiring Christmas Eve topped by a beautiful midnight Mass with our good friend Ronnie (who helped me put together the table in the picture,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

More Christmas With The Family

I never got a chance to post about one of our family outings this season -- the evening we spent at Minnesota Harvest with the Little Admiral and the Admiral Emeritus. When my father came out to visit us for an early Christmas celebration, I looked around for something new and different for us to do as a family. Our radio station, AM 1280 The Patriot, has added Minnesota Harvest as a new sponsor this year. The apple orchard stays open through winter and offers an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner and a 30-minute horsedrawn hayride for $20. Despite the bitter cold, we all thought it sounded like a lot of fun and we trooped out to Jordan, in the rural area to the southwest of the metro area. The Minnesota Harvest turns out to put out a pretty nice, low-key dinner, sort of chuck-wagon cuisine. They had turkey and ham, potatoes,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 26, 2004

Happy Boxing Day!

I'm spending the day after Christmas doing some shopping and whatnot, including Mass. I intend to pick up regular blogging this evening. In the meantime, please read Kevin McCullough's site for news on the tragedy in Sumatra, an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale. UPDATE, 8 PM CT: The quake apparently unleashed a tsunami that killed almost 12,000 people, one of the worst natural disasters of all time. Indonesia has at least a million people homeless and the casualties came from eight different Asian nations. We need to pray for the people who died in this catastrophe and do what we can to reach out to those who survived. The best bet for that will be the International Red Cross, despite any misgivings about their politics. I'm donating through the American Red Cross and hope you will join me....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Reggie White, RIP

One of the greats of the NFL has died today at the terribly young age of 43. Reggie White, a man who played fearsome defense as a defensive end for Philadelphia and Green Bay and worked tirelessly for his faith the rest of the time, died of apparent complications from sleep apnea, according to the reports on ESPN tonight. USA Today carried this AP report earlier: Reggie White, a fearsome defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers who was one of the great players in NFL history, died Sunday, his wife said. He was 43. The cause of death was not immediately known. ... A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and ordained minister who was known as the "Minister of Defense," White played a total of 15 years with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina. He retired after the 2000 season as the NFL's all-time leader...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Orange On Top (Updated)

Viktor Yushchenko has declared victory in the Ukrainian presidential run-off today, leading current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych by 16 points with 63% of all precincts reporting. The leader of the spontaneous and peaceful Orange Revolution will apparently complete the triumph of people power in Ukraine: "For 14 years we have been independent, but now we are free. This is a victory for the Ukrainian people, for the Ukrainian nation," the 50-year-old opposition leader and former prime minister said as his audience broke into applause and chants of "Yu-shchenk-ko! Yu-shchen-ko!" Yushchenko appeared in public as the central election commission reported that he held a 16-point lead over his pro-Russian opponent, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich, with more than 63 percent of the country's precincts reporting results. The commission credited Yushchenko with 55.98 percent of the vote, compared to 40.2 percent for Yanukovich. Three independent exit polls published at the close of voting...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

British Conservatives Get Serious About Smaller Government

In a move that reminds one of the Reagan Era in American politics, the British Conservative Party has emphasized its mission to reduce the size of government in the United Kingdom. It plans on starting at the top: The Conservatives will cut the number of MPs, ministers and special advisers by a fifth within five years if they win the election. Proposals for a "smaller government" Bill, to be published this week, will also promise a referendum in Wales on whether to abolish its assembly. The Tories said yesterday that Labour's constitutional changes had made the country "over-governed, over-regulated and over-taxed". The rejection by referendum this year of Government plans for a regional assembly in the North East has encouraged the Tories to put plans for reducing the size and role of the state at the heart of their election manifesto. When the Republicans began their long, slow march to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 27, 2004

Tsunami Toll Tops 21,000, Disease Threatens Survivors

The death toll from the massive earthquake and the killer tidal waves it unleashed continues to climb. Estimates now number the dead at more than 21,000 and the bodies left in the water have health experts worried about a potential second tsunami of disease: The death toll in a tsunami that slammed into coasts from India to Indonesia topped 21,000 on Monday as rescuers scoured the sea for missing tourists and soldiers raced to recover bodies amid growing fears of disease. Sri Lankan military spokesman Daya Ratnayaka said 10,029 people had been killed in Sri Lanka alone. The addition of more than 5,000 dead in the Indian Ocean island nation brought the total number of people reported dead from the waves unleashed from the world's biggest earthquake in 40 years to 21,559, with some 5,200 injured. The bodies have not all been recovered, and crisis workers now warn that the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Israel Frees 159 Prisoners, Abbas Not Satisfied

As part of Israel's attempt to exploit the diplomatic opening left by the death of Yasser Arafat and to strengthen the hand of Abu Mazen/Mahmoud Abbas in upcoming Palestinian elections, 159 Palestinians were released from Israeli jails today. True to form, Abbas declared the exercise wholly unsatisfactory: Israel freed 159 Palestinian prisoners Monday as a gesture to Egypt and moderate new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, but he called for a "serious release" of thousands of security detainees. Abbas, trying to persuade Palestinian militants to stop fighting to help revive talks on Palestinian statehood with Israel, has made prisoner releases part of his campaign for a Jan. 9 presidential election after Yasser Arafat's death. Palestinian leaders want all of the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel released, even (and maybe especially) those who murdered Israeli civilians in pizzerias and buses, and their leadership. Abbas also made headlines this weekend by declaring...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Europeans Try Taking Page From Democrats In Dealing With Bush

Today's Washington Post reports on the state of US-European relations through the prism of Europe's primary foreign-policy priority, settlement of the Palestinian question. Glenn Kessler writes that Europeans have a threshold of "cooperation" that they expect Bush to meet before dealing with him that closely resembles Democrat ideas of "bipartisanship" -- and promises to be just as successful: President Bush and his top aides have repeatedly said they want to improve relations with European allies in Bush's second term, beginning with a presidential visit in February. Bush has also said he believes the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has provided a new opportunity to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Yet those twin goals will be continually tested and at times may conflict in the coming year, administration and European officials say. Few issues separate the Bush administration from Europe as much as which course to pursue in the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Boston Globe Scoop: Crime Still Exists

Murder has declined nationwide, and New York City has reversed the growth rate for violent crime over the past thirteen years. The Boston Globe covers this -- but as a sideline to a story about a family that has seen three of its sons murdered in New York City during that same period. The Boston Globe titles its article "Murders Drop, Fear Continues": When one of her sons was gunned down, Louise Brown found the body on a street, streaked with rain and blood. Rather than offer comfort, police officers there ''asked me for his Social Security number," she said, staring blankly and shaking her head. ''I'll never forget that." More suffering was to come: Two more of Brown's five sons have died in shootings in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the latest three months ago. That opening misses some important context. The first murder occurred in 1991...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Yanukovich Issues Veiled Threat, Vows To Appeal Election

Viktor Yanukovych does not plan on going out with dignity in the Ukrainian presidential elections. Not only will he not concede, he asserted that the apparent President-elect Viktor Yushschenko should take care to avoid the entire eastern half of his own country: Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich refused to concede a historic rerun presidential vote Monday, and vowed to ask the supreme court to throw out official results which showed his rival Viktor Yushchenko won by a formidable margin. "I will never acknowledge such a defeat because the constitution and human rights were violated," he said in televised remarks. "We have lost nothing." "We intend to get the supreme court to review the outcome of the election and to cancel the results," he said. International observers -- 12,500 of them, more than double the last run-off -- agreed that the elections were not perfect. However, the head of OCSE, which...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Fortune Favors The Blog-Ready

Fortune Magazine published an analysis of blogs and the blogosphere, with a business rather than political viewpoint. The verdict: Corporations had better understand blogs and bloggers, or risk annihilation in the marketplace. Their first case study shows how Microsoft failed to grasp the underlying concept of blogging -- free speech -- and suffered a major blow to their credibility: [Boing Boing blogger Xeni Jardin] titled her critique of MSN Spaces "7 Dirty Blogs" and hilariously sent up the fickle censoring filters Microsoft appeared to have built in. MSN Spaces prohibited her from starting a blog called Pornography and the Law or another entitled Corporate Whore Chronicles; yet World of Poop passed, as did the educational Smoking Crack: A How-To Guide for Teens. Within the first hour of Jardin's post, five blogs had linked to it, including the site of widely read San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor. By the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Hugh Hewitt's New Book Due Soon

Hugh Hewitt's new book, Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World will ship soon from Amazon and appear in your local bookstores. I'm waiting for an advance copy for review, but I also plan on buying the book for my daughter-in-law as well. The Elder at Fraters Libertas has already read his copy and gives an excellent review, as does Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit. Who better than Hugh could dissect the ramifications of the New Media's emergence and the potential for the citizen journalists? I'm excited, and even though my blogging has greatly reduced my pleasure-reading time, I plan on putting Blog at the top of my priority list once it arrives. Any literary agents that want my opinion on the blogosphere, feel free to contact me, of course ......

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

More NIMBY Weeping And Illogic From The Gray Lady (Update)

The New York Times takes a second bite at the prisoners-as-census-boosters meme today, this time in a foolish editorial by Brent Staples. Staples argues, as did the Times' editorial board five weeks ago, that the main motivation for mandatory prison sentencing springs from a desire to skew census counts, Congressional representation, and federal handouts: The mandatory sentencing fad that swept the United States beginning in the 1970's has had dramatic consequences - most of them bad. The prison population was driven up tenfold, creating a large and growing felon class - now 13 million strong - that remains locked out of the mainstream and prone to recidivism. Trailing behind the legions of felons are children who grow up visiting their parents behind bars and thinking prison life is perfectly normal. Meanwhile, the cost of building and running prisons has pushed many states near bankruptcy - and forced them to choose...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Protesting Factual Errors In The Paper Of Record

I sent the following e-mail to Daniel Okrent, the public editor (ombudsman) for the New York Times regarding the factual errors in today's column by Brent Staples. I'm hoping for a response in the next day or two. Dear Mr. Okrent, I must protest (politely!) the misleading column printed by the New York Times in today's edition by Mr. Brent Staples. In his haste to concoct a conspiracy among Republicans to count prisoners where they reside for the census, Mr. Staples either failed to research the data on which he based his conclusions or he deliberately misled his readers. Mr. Staples states that we have a "felon class" of 13 million people. That would be news to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which puts the entire American prison population at all levels for all crimes (not just felonies) at just over 2 million at the end of 2003. Moreover, the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Yanukovych Supporter Found Dead, Suspected Suicide

The fallout from the collapse of Viktor Yanukovych and the ascendancy of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine took a dark twist this evening, as a minister who backed Yanukovych was found dead from a gunshot wound: Ukraine's Transport Minister Heorhiy Kyrpa has been found dead at his holiday home near the capital Kiev. The minister is reported to have gunshot wounds and officials said a gun was found near his body. Mr Kyrpa, 58, appointed in 2002, was a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Local media in Ukraine reported Kyrpa's death as a suicide, apparently brought on by the Yanukovych loss in the presidential election. Americans may recall the various conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Vincent Foster a decade ago, whose body was also found with the gun that killed him. Despite several investigations concluding that Foster committed suicide, including one by Ken Starr, many still believe...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 28, 2004

Republicans Demand Voter Rolls In King County

Republicans in the state of Washington refuse to go gently into that good night for the moment, demanding to see the complete voter rolls for King County to determine if any fraud caused the shifting voting totals for Washington's biggest county and Christine Gregoire's margin of victory (hat tip: The Anchoress): Washington Republicans, girding for a possible court challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's razor-thin victory for governor, on Monday demanded a list of the 900,000 who cast ballots in vote-rich, problem-plagued King County. Democrats accused the Republicans of being on "a fishing expedition" and urged them to concede or face the public's wrath for dragging out an election already eight weeks old. Republican state Chairman Chris Vance said his party and other backers of GOP candidate Dino Rossi have nagging questions about the vote count in the county that tipped the race to Gregoire by a scant 130 votes last...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Gonna Have To Face It, They're Addicted To Polls

The Los Angeles Times runs a major story in its Nation section this morning that looks like a refugee from October. Peter Wallsten obsesses about George Bush's approval rating based on recent polling despite the results from the big poll on November 2nd: Despite a clear-cut reelection and the prospect of lasting GOP dominance in Congress, President Bush prepares to start his second term with the lowest approval ratings of any just-elected sitting president in half a century, according to new surveys. That distinction, which pollsters and analysts blame on public discontent over the war in Iraq, comes as Bush begins drafting two major speeches that could quickly recast his image: an inaugural address Jan. 20 and the State of the Union soon after. Bracketed between them is the Jan. 30 election in Iraq, another milestone that could affect public impressions of Bush. In two words: so what? First, George...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Osama Demands Boycott, Sunnis Respond: Coincidence?

On the day that Osama bin Laden issued a call for Muslims to boycott the upcoming Iraqi elections, the country's largest Sunni party pulled out of the elections, claiming that they should be delayed by six months or more: The largest political party representing Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority announced Monday that it would drop out of the Jan. 30 election, dealing a fresh blow to the vote's credibility on the same day the top Shiite Muslim candidate survived a car bombing. The withdrawal of the Iraqi Islamic Party, combined with the assassination attempt on cleric Abdul Aziz Hakim, heightened concerns that the parliamentary election may produce a lopsided result, further alienating Sunni areas where the armed insurgency is growing. The withdrawal of the Islamic Party may cause a loss of some credibility amongst the Sunni in Iraq, but the Sunni as a group hardly have supported the concept of democracy...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Protestors At Pentagon Aim To Destroy Morale

I received an e-mail from an active-duty officer currently posted at the Pentagon, decrying the stupidity of the moonbats that congregate outside the entrances to the facility to protest the war. Usually, the protests involve a handful of disorganized and mostly quiet people. This morning's protest, however, got ugly very fast: Captain Ed-- I'm a lieutenant colonel currently assigned to the Pentagon. The area around our Metro entrance is a popular location for moonbat protests; there's a nice lady who stands out there maybe once a week with a sign. Occasionally, there are others. Of course their signs accuse us Pentagon types of genocide, etc., but imbued in their citizenship is the right to be cluelessly ignorant. Those of us in queue to enter the building are instructed not to react. It's hard to comply, but the policy prevents escalation. This morning, it took every ounce of professionalism not to...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Tsunami Toll Now Above 55,000, Expected To Rise "Sharply"

The death toll from the Asian tsunamis has risen sharply today as aid agencies now say that 55,000 deaths have been confirmed -- and that number is expected to get a lot larger soon: Logistical problems hampered a massive humanitarian relief operation along Asia's devastated shores as the death toll from a huge earthquake and killer tidal waves surged past 55,000. With the scale of the catastrophe rapidly unfolding, the confirmed number of dead in 10 countries shot up to 55,175, with Indonesia's Aceh province accounting for half of those killed, or 27,174. In Sri Lanka, 17,640 are dead. The fear that outbreaks of disease could unleash a second wave of tragedy on a region struggling to cope with the first also loomed large with decomposing bodies and sewerage contaminating water sources. Short of war, the world has not seen such an immediate catastrophe as the Indian Ocean nations are...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Goodbye, Ms. Sontag, And Good Riddance

The execrable Susan Sontag died today at the age of 71 of an undisclosed illness. Perhaps I should be more charitable in my assessment of her now that she has passed away, but she and her ilk represent the worst of the hypocritical Left, especially in the wake of 9/11: Susan Sontag, the author, activist and self-defined "zealot of seriousness" whose voracious mind and provocative prose made her a leading intellectual of the past half century, died Tuesday. She was 71. ... Sontag called herself a "besotted aesthete," an "obsessed moralist" and a "zealot of seriousness." Here's what the obsessed moralist had to say about the 9/11 attacks: "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a `cowardly' attack on `civilization' or `liberty' or `humanity' or `the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?" she wrote in...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

A Cost Of $5000 Per Vote

Ohio has officially finished the recount demanded by the Green and Libertarian parties and encouraged by the Democrats and the Kerry campaign. The result? President Bush's lead diminished ... by 300 votes: Election officials finished the presidential recount in Ohio on Tuesday, with the final tally shaving about 300 votes off President Bush's six-figure margin of victory in the state that gave him a second term. The recount shows Bush winning Ohio by 118,457 votes over John Kerry, according to unofficial results provided to The Associated Press by the 88 counties. Lucas County, home to Toledo, was the last to finish counting. The state had earlier declared Bush the winner by 118,775 votes and plans to adjust its totals to reflect the recount later this week. That certainly proved a productive use of Ohio's resources. The Secretary of State estimated that Ohio's taxpayers will eat about $1.5 million for the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Minnesota Media Both Tacky And Clueless

A business complex exploded in nearby Ramsey today, killing at least two people and critically injuring a third. A gas buildup apparently caused the blast, which destroyed the building: A gas leak was believed to have set off the explosion about 9:45 a.m., leveling the single-story structure along Hwy. 10 in the city of Ramsey, said Capt. Bob Aldrich of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office. However, Aldrich said more investigation was needed to confirm the cause. Investigators planned to talk to a man who had pulled up to the building just as it exploded. The man's car was damaged, but he was said to be uninjured. The explosion will require more investigation, but the odor of natural gas at the scene makes firefighters pretty confident that a gas leak is the culprit. However, that's not why I'm posting about this. Our local media swarmed over the site, quite literally, as...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Yushchenko Wants A Blockade While Yanukovych Xeroxes Voters

Viktor Yushchenko has called on his populist movement to blockade a cabinet meeting called by a defiant Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, refusing to accept defeat in Ukraine's presidential run-off. Meanwhile, the protests that Yanukovych presented to the election commission look suspiciously alike, according to officials: Viktor Yushchenko, fresh from his victory in Ukraine's disputed presidential race, called on his supporters Tuesday to blockade the Cabinet of Ministers building to prevent his opponent from holding a government session. Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin favorite who has come under increasing pressure to concede defeat to Yushchenko, returned to work Tuesday after taking a vacation to campaign ahead of last Sunday's vote. Ukrainian prime ministers do not leave office until replaced by the President. So far, Leonid Kuchma has not released Yanukovych from his duties and shows no particular rush to do so. That allows Yanukovych to conduct government business despite his...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Washington Post Starts New Bush Meme, Trots Out Stinginess For An Encore

The Washington Post runs to the rescue of Jan Egeland by both reinforcing the UN undersecretary's assertions of American stinginess and creating a new smear against George Bush, this time for not exploiting the deaths of 60,000 people for his own political gain: The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions. ... Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Vatican's Anti-Israel's Bias Slips Out

The Vatican embarrasses itself today in its newspaper, mistakenly scolding Israel for not offering aid to Sri Lanka when in fact the anti-Semites in the island nation refused entry to the Israeli aid delegation. In the language they used to issue their judgment on the only nation in Southwest Asia that allows Christians unfettered religious freedom, the Vatican revealed a bias that calls into question John Paul II's famous outreach to Jews: The Vatican newspaper has denounced what it called a decision by the IDF to deny emergency help to disaster victims in Sri Lanka. Calling for "a radical and dramatic change of perspective" among people "too often preoccupied with making war," L'Osservatore Romano singled out Israeli military leaders for declining a request for emergency medical help. Contrary to the Vatican report, an Israeli plane carrying 80 tons of food and medical supplies worth $100,000 was set to depart for...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 29, 2004

Nick Coleman Goes Insane

Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Nick Coleman went off his meds today, or on some new ones, in writing a smear job on Power Line, who he sees as his archnemesis these days. Without bothering to do any research whatsoever, Coleman accuses the "lads" of being unaccountable sellouts and worse: The lads behind Powerline are a bank vice president named Scott Johnson and a lawyer named John Hinderaker. If you read Powerline, you know them better by their fantasy names, Big Trunk (that's Johnson) and Hind Rocket (Hinderaker). I will leave it to the appropriate professionals to determine what they are compensating for, but they have received enormous attention from the despised Mainstream Media and deserve more. Oh ho, a penis reference from Coleman! What a great way to express his superior intellect and standards, seeing that he is a newspaperman: I work for a dopey old newspaper committed to covering the...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Nuclear Weapons Out Of Al-Qaeda's Reach?

The Washington Post starts a three-part series today on the threat of nuclear terrorism which concludes that the threat of a chemical or biological attack is more likely. Unless al-Qaeda can get high-level assistance from Russian or Pakistani nuclear forces in detonating the devices, nuclear weapons appear to be outside their capability. Experts have concluded that AQ does not have the capacity to manufacture its own nuclear devices, which means that they would have to steal or purchase one. However, setting off a nuclear bomb requires a high level of expertise, as the weapons have safeguards built into them to avoid such a scenario from playing out: Newer Russian weapons, for example, are equipped with heat- and time-sensitive locking systems, known as permissive action links, that experts say would be extremely difficult to defeat without help from insiders. "You'd have to run it through a specific sequence of events, including...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Why The MSM Has Run Aground

Hugh Hewitt writes a companion piece to his new book in today's Weekly Standard column, explaining why the mainstream media has suffered body blows to its credibility and how they opened the door to the inevitable reaction: The new recruits to big journalism and their mentors did not work overtime to assure that, in the elevation of tolerance of ideological minorities, there would remain representation of majoritarian points of view. In fact, majoritarian points of view became suspect, and the focus of pervasive hostile reporting and analysis. Crusading journalists seemed to be an ideological pack. By the time the new millennium arrived, legacy media was populated at its elite levels by as homogeneous a group of reporters / producers / commentators as could ever have been assembled from the newsrooms of the old Hearst operation. Big Media had hired itself into a rut--a self-replicating echo chamber of left and further-left...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

On The Matter Of Stinginess

After the foolish comment made by UN undersecretary Jan Egelend about Western "stinginess" towards disaster relief, we wondered exactly to whom Egeland could refer. After all, Americans give more private donations in both time and money than any other nation. More specifically, we asked ourselves exactly how much the Europeans pitched into the relief effort through official government channels. Thanks to Reuters Foundation AlertNet, those figures are now available to us (via Instapundit): Australia: $26M, plus five military transports and 50 specialists Austria: $1.36M Belgium: One military transport to deliver UNICEF aid Britain: 370K (pounds), $100K, plus $481K of materials to Sri Lanka Denmark: 45 tonnes of supplies, $1.82M EU: "Ready to release" 30M Euro, 3M Euro already released. France: 100K Euros ($140,000) Finland: 500K Euro. Germany: 2M Euro. Greece: 17 doctors and staff. Italy: 2 helicopters and crew. Netherlands: 2M Euros. Poland: $336K Spain: 1M Euros pledged, 19 volunteers...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Democrats Opt For New Election In Disputed Tally

At the end of the election, the recount discovered anomalies in the ballot totals -- leading to a large number of uncounted votes for the statewide office. As a result, Democrats have pushed to dump the election altogether and order a new special election to settle the matter. Washington? We wish. Try North Carolina instead: Following nearly two months of court fights and wrangling over lost votes, the North Carolina Board of Elections on Wednesday ordered a new statewide election for the closely contested race for agriculture commissioner. Republican Steve Troxler leads Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes in final results from the Nov. 2 election. However, that figure was left in doubt by the discovery that an electronic voting machine error in Carteret County eliminated 4,438 votes that were cast early. Democrats challenged the election, on reasonable grounds, it appears to me. The error came from the machine...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Guess Who's In The Courtroom With Saddam?

Last week, Arthur Chrenkoff took a look at Saddam Hussein's legal team, a collection of ambulance chasers from around the globe who regualarly work to shield enemies of Western civilization. One attorney formerly represented Nazi stooge Klaus Barbie and bragged of a personal friendship with the genocidal Cambodian Pol Pot; another represents that bastion of human rights, the Palestinian Authority. At the time, both Arthur and I noted the sad exclusion of Ramsey Clark, who openly begged for an invitation. Apparently Clark's supplications found an audience, as the BBC informs us: Mr Clark - who held office in the 1960s under President Lyndon Johnson - said his principal concern was protecting the rights of the former Iraqi leader. ... Left-wing activist Mr Clark described the special tribunal established to try members of the former regime as a creation of the US military occupation. He said it had no authority in...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Tear Down This Wall (And/Or We'll Kill You)

Mahmoud Abbas apparently tried to reach Reaganesque levels of rhetoric this afternoon while campaigning through West Bank towns for the presidential election. He stopped in Tulkarem and Qalqiliya and told crowds gathered there that Israel had to tear down the wall in order to get peace: Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas made a campaign run Wednesday through West Bank towns living in the shadow of Israel's separation barrier, urging Israel to tear down the huge structure that he said would never help peace. ... "I say to our neighbors ... no fence will bring peace or bring you security," Abbas told a rally at a Tulkarem stadium just 500 yards from the barrier. ... Later, Abbas traveled to the nearby town of Qalqiliya, which is almost entirely cut off by the barrier. Abbas toured the wall and addressed a crowd of several hundred supporters. "We hope the Israelis will take...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Lieberman: No Delay In Iraqi Elections

Senator Joe Lieberman told the American media today that Iraqi elections must go forward as scheduled, negating a push for delay that had started to gather some momentum among the mainstream punditry: Sen. Joe Lieberman, traveling in the Middle East Wednesday, said there is strong support in Iraq for the Jan. 30 election, and postponing it would only be a victory for the insurgents. In a telephone call from Tel Aviv, Israel, the Connecticut Democrat said conditions in Iraq, including an increase in trained Iraqi security forces, have improved since his last visit in July. And he said the escalating violence aimed at intimidating Iraqis to postpone the election or not vote is not working in most of the country. Lieberman could have won the last presidential election if the Democrats had been smart enough to nominate him. Instead, they ran their worst candidate since Michael Dukakis and wound up...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Iraqi Terrorists Get Stupid -- Really Stupid

In the aftermath of the Mosul bombing last week, the Washington Post reported comments made by former DIA analyst Jeffrey White that the next phase could be a full frontal assault on an American military base. At the time, I wrote that such an attack would be so blindingly stupid that American military planners should welcome it. I also wrote that Iraqi terrorists were lunatics, not idiots, and that the Saddam remnants knw better than to take on American forces in open battle. Apparently I overestimated the intelligence of the enemy: United States troops and warplanes killed at least 25 insurgents who used car bombs and rocket-propelled grenades to try to overrun an American combat outpost in Mosul on Wednesday afternoon, the American military said. It was the fiercest fighting the restive northern city has seen in weeks. ... The attack began about 3:45 p.m., when insurgents armed with a...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Brave Sir Robin Demands Run-Away Date

Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton accompanied Joe Lieberman on his fact-finding trip to Iraq, after Dayton petulantly demanded that someone take him there. Dayton managed to sound a bit more coherent on this trip, echoing Lieberman's call to stay the course on the scheduled January elections. However, he still took the opportunity to demand a schedule for our withdrawal: Wrapping up a trip to Iraq, Sen. Mark Dayton said he's convinced the United States must take efforts to quicken Iraq's self-sufficiency. "That process needs to be accelerated,'' Dayton, D-Minn., told reporters in a conference call from Israel Wednesday, after spending the day in Iraq meeting with U.S. troops and U.N. and Iraqi officials. "We've been there for 18 months now ... We've got to start to define the remaining amount of time necessary for our forces to be there before they can leave with a victory secured." Once again, Dayton displays...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Operation Pentagon Patriots Scheduled For Monday

After receiving and posting an e-mail from an active-duty career officer at the Pentagon regarding the demoralizing effects of walking past anti-military moonbats every day, I had hoped that a few readers in the DC area could put together a small demonstration of support. I'd hoped that even a few people could help keep spirits high among those working tirelessly for our security and freedom. Am I happy to tell you how wrong I was to set my expectations so low! Thanks to Pierre at the Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill blog and Kfir Alia at Protest Warrior, we may have started something that will not only perk up the people entering the Metro gate at the Pentagon but will show DC and the media just how much support America has for its fighting men and women. Kfir e-mailed me today with the good news: Operation Pentagon Patriots is...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 30, 2004

CQ In The Sun

The New York Sun has published an opinion piece I rewrote about the Vatican's conclusion-jumping regarding the Sri Lankan refusal to admit Israeli aid workers this week. As you may recall, the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, accused Israelis of being "too often preoccupied with making war" because of their supposed refusal to help the Sri Lankans. Not only was it sloppy journalism -- the truth had been long discovered by bloggers -- but the conclusions reached by L'Osservatore Romano smacked of knee-jerk anti-Semitism. You may need a subscription to read this -- I automatically get logged into mine by my browser -- but if you don't already subscribe, you should consider it. The Sun supports bloggers in a very real and literal way and has excellent reporting and writing. Plus, it has one of the richest interfaces for a newspaper I've seen. UPDATE: You're not going to believe this,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Gregoire Hits Out At NC Democrats? Only If Democrats Had Capability Of Consistency

In an amazing turn of events, Washington gubernatorial candidate Christine Gregoire lashed out at her fellow party members in North Carolina, calling a revote wasteful and counterproductive: "This ain't golf. No mulligans allowed here, folks," said Gregoire's spokesman, Morton Brilliant. "It's irresponsible to spend $4 million in taxpayer money on a new election just because you don't like losing this one." Of course, I'm writing with tongue firmly in cheek. Gregoire made these comments in response to GOP candidate Dino Rossi's request for a revote after a series of irregularities in ballot handling, especially in King County, switched an original 230-vote GOP victory to a 130-vote loss. In North Carolina, the margin of GOP victory in the agricultural commissioner race was about half of the disputed ballots lost in a predominantly Republican county. In Washington, the disputed votes come up to at least five times the new margin of victory....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

AP: Tsunami Toll Now Over 114,000

The AP now reports that new estimates of deaths in Sumatra has pushed the aggregate death toll from the massive Asian tsunamis to over 114,000, expanding one of the worst natural disasters of all time: The death toll from last weekend's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe rose to more than 114,000 on Thursday as Indonesia uncovered more and more dead from ravaged Sumatra island, where pilots dropped food to remote villages still unreachable by rescue workers. A false alarm that new killer waves were about to hit sparked panic in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The increase came after Indonesia reported nearly 28,000 newly confirmed dead in Sumatra, which was closest to the epicenter of last weekend's massive earthquake and was overwhelmed by the tsunami that followed. Some 60 percent of Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra was destroyed, the U.N. children's agency estimated, and 115 miles of the island's northwest...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Yanukovych Loses Three Of Four Challenges For Incompetence

The Ukrainian Supreme Court threw out three of current PM and election loser Viktor Yanukovych's challenges to the runoff on the basis that he filed them incorrectly: Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's dogged bid to overturn his liberal rival's victory in Ukraine's presidential election faltered on Thursday after the Supreme Court said it had thrown out all but one of his complaints. ... Supreme Court spokeswoman Liana Shlyaposhnikova said judges had now rejected three of four complaints from Yanukovich's team concerning the organization of last Sunday's re-run of the rigged Nov. 21 poll. "Two complaints were not considered because the proper time frame for submitting them was not respected," Shlyaposhnikova said. "One was turned down because the demands submitted by the plaintiff were not clearly drawn up." This strictly legalistic approach from a Supreme Court once considered in the bag of Yanukovych -- when he had the favor of outgoing president...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Smearing All The Way

In their zeal to overturn the 118,000-vote victory for George Bush in Ohio, Democrats apparently don't care what damage they do. Their latest conspiracy-theory victim is Ohio's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Thomas Moyer, accused by attorneys in the case of having secret knowledge of voter fraud: A group of voters had claimed Chief Justice Thomas Moyer "wittingly or unwittingly acquired knowledge of deliberate national and statewide election fraud" and should step aside. Moyer called the voters' claim "wholly without foundation." He added that he has no reason to remove himself since the challenge doesn't involve his own election and he has nothing to gain by a change in the results. ... Cliff Arnebeck, an attorney representing the voters, said Wednesday said he was reviewing the documents Moyer referred to. As to the chief justice's refusal to remove himself, "the important thing about the judicial process is the concept...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Even In Tsunamis, The Scum Rises To The Top; Let's Beat Them To The Money

Sometimes it seems that human avarice and maliciousness know no bounds. The New York Sun reports today on a number of websites that have sprung up for fundraising in connection to tsunami relief, but these show no connection to known and trusted charitable organizations: On eBay, sellers are hawking Pez dispensers, a gold necklace, a stuffed mouse, and a "hand-carved" Buddha statue with the promise that proceeds from the auctions will go directly to charities assisting the victims of the tsunami in Asia. Visitors to tsunamireliefaid.com are directed to a crudely constructed Web site with photographs of those who appear to be tsunami victims and instructions urging users to send relief packages and $10 checks to a P.O. box in Germantown, Md. As major aid agencies around the globe undertake what could be the costliest and most complex relief effort ever, the catastrophe in South Asia has also given rise...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

British Minister: UN Only Body With "Moral Authority" For Relief

This statement by British minister Clare Short has stunned me into near-speechlessness: The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the worlds response. But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN. I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up, she said. Only really the UN can do that job, she told BBC Radio Fours PM programme. It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers. Short's anti-American bias shines through in this ludicrous and blatantly stupid assertion. The notion that the UN has any moral authority,...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

December 31, 2004

Ohio Recount Partisans Want Another Round On The House

After having blown $1.5 million of Ohio taxpayer money on a recount that resulted in a 0.27% adjustment to George Bush's margin of victory, Buckeye State voters might expect that the idiots who pushed for the recount would go away quietly. Unfortunately, idiots by definition notoriously learn lessons the hard way: Two third-party presidential candidates asked a federal court Thursday to force a second recount of the Ohio vote, alleging county election boards altered votes and didn't follow proper procedures in the recount that ended this week. Lawyers for Green Party candidate David Cobb and the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik made their request in federal court in Columbus. The two candidates, who received less than 0.3 percent of the Ohio vote, paid $113,600 for a statewide recount after the vote was certified earlier this month by the secretary of state. They have said they don't expect to change the election...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Did Abu Marwan Talk?

A few days after the capture of Abu Marwan, the leader of an insurgent affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Coalition forces captured almost 50 terrorists in Saddam Hussein's hometown: U.S. troops rounded up 49 suspected guerrillas near Saddam Hussein's hometown on Friday, a day after Iraq's most violent rebel groups warned voters against taking part in crucial elections for a constitutional assembly on Jan. 30. Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division detained the suspects during a midnight raid in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad, codenamed Operation Powder River, the U.S. military said. The US and Iraqi forces withheld notice of Abu Marwan's capure for six days, a normal procedure that allows for confusion and surprise when dealing with terrorist networks. It also allows for American intelligence agents to interrogate the detainees. The two events may not be connected, but the coincidence certainly appears provocative....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

More Washington Follies

Michelle Malkin and Stefan Sharansky cover some highly irregular developments in the Washington governor's race recounts -- so much so that the Seattle Times even credits Stefan with rattling Christine Gregoire's credibility. Be sure to read up on the shenanigans that explains why extended recounts can never yield credible results....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Patterico Reviews The 2004 Performance Of The LA Times

I'm a little late posting this link, but be sure to read Patterico's excellent review of the Los Angeles Times for 2004, in two parts. Patterico has maintained his high standard of media review that he began in 2003 and gives the LAT its toughest (and fairest) criticism. Don't miss his year-end finale....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Mrs. Anthrax Wants Your Sympathy

The lawyers working for Saddam's ghoul squad wants the court to show some mercy to one of their clients, Dr. Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash. Dr. Ammash is better known to Americans by her nickname, Mrs. Anthrax, for her work in developing biological weapons for the genocidal regime: The jailed Iraqi microbiologist dubbed Mrs Anthrax is seriously ill and should be freed, an Iraqi lawyer has said. Dr Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash is dying from cancer, according to Badih Aref - who represents imprisoned former Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. The lawyer said his client had asked him to help Dr Ammash, who was in "terrible pain". Ammash reportedly had breast cancer before the fall of Saddam but had been in remission. Now her lawyers want her freed to get treatment for a relapse, in order to free her from her pain. Well, at the risk of seeming somewhat callous...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Next, They Can Force The Times To Wake Up, Too

A California appellate court has ordered the Los Angeles City Council to perform an apparently extraordinary duty -- to pay attention to its own meetings: During public hearings, members of the City Council talk on cell phones, chat among themselves, read mail or wander around the room. A state appeals court says they should be doing something else: paying attention. Ruling on a suit brought by the owners of a strip club, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said the 15-member council acts as a quasi-judicial body when it holds hearings and has a legal duty to listen to testimony or risk violating citizens' due process. In a hearing involving a strip club owner who was seeking to extend his hours, both sides "had the right to be equally heard, not equally ignored," the court wrote in a decision Thursday, ordering a new hearing. In the case which sparked...

« November 2004 | January 2005 »

Happy New Year!

To all CQ reader -- Whiskey, the First Mate, and I wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed New Year. 2004 has been such a terrific year for us at Captain's Quarters, thanks to all of you. Stay safe, and see you in 2005! In fact, if you tune in the Northern Alliance Radio Network tomorrow at noon CT, you'll hear us live for our New Year's Day broadcast. UPDATE: I don't know if this is one of the reasons why I'll be thankful for 2004, but at least I only came in second for this award. UPDATE: I'm even happeier coming in second here....

« November 2004 | January 2005 »