« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 1, 2005

Has Musharraf Prepared For Democratization?

Agence France-Presse reports this morning that Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf has created a website to explore his "softer side" -- a professionally-produced site that combines a bit of tourist-baiting with an undeniable sense of a serious campaign effort: His favourite food is a spicy lentil dish, the best book he read recently was on Richard Nixon and he was nearly court martialed in 1965. Welcome to the world of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, via the Internet. Pakistani officials say a slick new website devoted to the general, which mixes moments of unusual frankness with a glowing, hagiographical tone, puts the country's people a mere mouse-click away from the "man behind the leader". But according to analysts, the aim is not so much to reveal the truth about Musharraf as to project a softer image of both the president and his country, after years of foreign media coverage focused on...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

A Healthy Dose Of Crow At The Paper Of Record

The New York Times editorial board must have experienced considerable pain when they opined today on the momentum building throughout Southwest Asia for democratization. After all, after deriding the Bush administration for two years over its "neocon" strategies designed to do exactly what we now see, the board had to publish this: Still, this has so far been a year of heartening surprises - each one remarkable in itself, and taken together truly astonishing. The Bush administration is entitled to claim a healthy share of the credit for many of these advances. It boldly proclaimed the cause of Middle East democracy at a time when few in the West thought it had any realistic chance. And for all the negative consequences that flowed from the American invasion of Iraq, there could have been no democratic elections there this January if Saddam Hussein had still been in power. It misses the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Maybe His Book Isn't Selling Well Enough

Turkmenistan's strange dictator Niyazov has ordered the closing of all hospitals and libraries throughout his country, the BBC reports, except for those in the capitol, Ashgabat. This order is only the latest in a string of increasingly weird actions by the self-styled Father of All Turkmens as he continues his main policy of self-aggrandizement at the expense of his oppressed subjects: Reports from Turkmenistan say President Niyazov has ordered the closure of all the hospitals in the country except those in the capital, Ashgabat. The order, announced by a government spokesman, is part of the president's radical health care policies. Thousands of medical workers have already been sacked under the plan. ... President Niyazov apparently took the decision to close the hospitals at a meeting with local officials on Monday. "Why do we need such hospitals?" he said. "If people are ill, they can come to Ashgabat." After building numerous...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Revolution!

Michael Ledeen puts the dizzying series of events occuring in Southwest Asia into perspective in today's National Review. He points out that the current revolution towards democracy started in a European state that had stagnated under the last Western dictator, but only took flight when America elected a visionary leader to nurture its development: We are living in a revolutionary age, that started more than a quarter century ago in Spain after the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. At that time, hardly anyone believed it possible to go from dictatorship to democracy without great violence, and most Spaniards feared that the terrible civil war of the 1930s which ended when Franco seized power and installed a military dictatorship would begin anew. Instead, thanks to a remarkable generation of political leaders, some savvy priests, and the grossly underrated King Juan Carlos, Spain passed smoothly and gracefully into democracy. It...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Great Moments In Air Safety

The Captain's cousin writes today that he traveled to England last week on a no-frills British Airways flight. When he says no-frills, he really means it. British Airways saved 100,000 on his flight by cutting back on such luxuries as engines and common sense: A BRITISH AIRWAYS jumbo jet carrying 351 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing after an 11-hour transatlantic flight with a failed engine. The fault occurred on take-off from Los Angeles but the pilot declined all opportunities to land in the US and instead continued on three engines for 5,000 miles to Britain. The incident happened three days after a European regulation came into force requiring airlines to compensate passengers for long delays or cancellations. Under the new rules, if the pilot had returned to Los Angeles, BA would have been facing a compensation bill of more than 100,000. So to save themselves 100,000, the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Assad: We'll Be Gone No Later Than A Few Months

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has told Time Magazine in an interview that the Syrian presence will be gone in "a few months," the AP reports: "It (withdrawal) should be very soon and maybe in the next few months. Not after that. I can't give you a technical answer. The point is the next few months," he told Time magazine. Joe Klein has the story for Time, and the blurb on their site has plenty of weasel room, but the commitment is explicit: TIME: Could you give me a timetable? ASSAD: It's a technical issue, not political. I could not say we could do it in two months because I have not had the meeting with the army people. They may say it will take six months. You need to prepare when you bring your army back to your country. You need to prepare where you will put the troops. Assad...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Meeting The Proof Threshold

Hugh Hewitt notes that Ed Kilgore, filling in yesterday for Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo, scoffs at the notion that the Cedar Revolution this week in Lebanon has anything to do with the Bush administration: But it literally never crossed my mind that Bush's fans would credit him with for this positive event, as though his pro-democracy speeches exercise some sort of rhetorical enchantment. This is the kind of thinking, of course, that has convinced God knows how many people that Ronald Reagan personally won the Cold War. It's the old post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) logical fallacy. This is a president and an administration that chronically refuse to accept responsibility for the bad things that have happened on their watch--even things like the insurgency in Iraq that are directly attributable to its policies. Barring any specific evidence (provided, say, by Lebanese...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iraqi Judge Killed Not The One Outed By Robert Fisk

Despite the early report by NBC News, promoted by the Drudge Report, the Iraqi Special Tribunal judge assassinated today by terrorists was not Raid Juhi, the presiding judge. NBC has corrected its preliminary reporting with an update from the same reporter that originally reported it was Juhi: A judge working on the special tribunal established to try Saddam Hussein and other senior officials in his toppled regime was assassinated Tuesday in Baghdad, but U.S. officials told NBC News that initial reports that the victim was the presiding judge were erroneous. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the person killed by unidentified gunman was not Raid Juhi, the 35-year-old chief investigative judge of the special tribunal set up to try Saddam and senior officials, but was another judge working for the tribunal. The officials did not immediately identify the victim. None of this lets the ever-execrable Robert Fisk...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 2, 2005

Milwaukee Election Official Resigns

CQ reader Joe K brings me up to date on a story line that has gone quiet the past couple of weeks. The embattled head of elections for Milwaukee responsible for the fiasco of last year's presidential balloting has abruptly resigned after spending the last month on sick leave: Under a blitz of criticism over the city's handling of the Nov. 2 presidential election, Lisa Artison resigned Tuesday as executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission after four weeks off the job on sick time. Artison faxed a one-sentence note of resignation to the mayor's office Tuesday. She could not be reached for comment. In recent days, speculation grew that Artison would leave the post she held since July, when she faced sharp questions about her qualifications from aldermen at her confirmation hearing. Her mysterious resignation probably has to do with the independent investigation launched by a combination of the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

British Airways Passenger Describes Flight

Yesterday, I wrote about the decision by British Airways to continue a flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow despite blowing an engine at takeoff from LAX. The flight almost ran out of fuel due to the lower altitude forced on it by the engine loss and had to make an emergency landing at Manchester. It turns out that BA forced the pilots to continue despite several attempts by American air controllers to get them to land simply to avoid cash penalties for flight delays which kick in at the five-hour mark. One of the passengers on that flight just happened to be my cousin, Mike Reger, who tipped me to the Times of London article on the flight. Mike followed up with a description of the flight: As a 50 year old seasoned traveler all seemed fine on this excursion at first ... We lifted off from LAX and all...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Dear Colorado, I Lied. Love, Ken

The Los Angeles Times reports today that the new Democratic Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar, didn't take long to betray one of his "centrist" positions from his election campaign. After telling conservative Coloradans that he supported Bush's judicial nominees during his election, he now has sent a letter to Bush telling him to withdraw said nominees, including one Salazar pointedly said he would support: Hopes that the Senate could rapidly confirm some troubled judicial nominations ran into a roadblock Tuesday when one of the moderate Democrats expected to support a vote by the full Senate on the nominees instead called on President Bush to withdraw the 10 candidates he resubmitted last month. The move by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), a newcomer to the Senate, surprised both sides in the rancorous debate and came just hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee held a second testy hearing for one of those nominees...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Ukrainians Arrest Man Carrying Uranium At Airport

Reuters reports that Ukrainian security personnel detained a man at Kiev's airport carrying 1.28 pounds of uranium-238 in his car: Ukraine's SBU security service arrested a man at Kiev's airport who had a case containing radioactive uranium-238 in his car, the Emergencies Ministry said Tuesday. It said the man was detained at Boryspil airport, Ukraine's main international gateway, with 582 grams of uranium. It did not say when the arrest took place or whether he had been attempting to leave the country. ... Depleted uranium, where uranium-238 is normally found, can theoretically be used to make nuclear "dirty bombs," but it is often used in gun ammunition and armor because of its high density. Ukraine still has a heavy reliance on nuclear power, even after the Chernobyl disaster, and depleted uranium doesn't necessarily make good material even for dirty bombs. Still, one has to wonder what the man intended to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Byrd Compares Republicans To Nazis On Senate Floor

Senator Robert Byrd, defending the minority's right to filibuster on the Senate floor today, wound up his speech by comparing Republican efforts to eliminate the hijacking of the Senate on the Constitutional duty of confirming federal judges to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Not only did Byrd imply that the GOP equates to the worst mass murderers of the 20th century, he's so proud of doing so he's posted the speech to his own website: Many times in our history we have taken up arms to protect a minority against the tyrannical majority in other lands. We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolinis Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not of men. But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitlers dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Jewish Groups Denounce Byrd's Nazi Remarks

Two Jewish groups have denounced Senator Robert Byrd for his equating Hitler and the GOP and have demanded an apology and a retraction, the AP reports today, in a development that may signal a crack in the media disinterest that has marked Byrd's antics up to now. The first group to criticize Byrd was the the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that Democrats could dismiss as partisan. However, the second group, the Anti-Defamation League, will not so easily be disregarded by Byrd's colleagues: Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday that Byrd's remarks showed "a profound lack of understanding as to who Hitler was" and that the senator should apologize to the American people. "It is hideous, outrageous and offensive for Senator Byrd to suggest that the Republican Party's tactics could in any way resemble those of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party," Foxman said. The...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

CNN's Inside Politics Covers Byrd's Nazi Remarks

CNN jumped into the fray over Senator Robert Byrd's Nazi reference in its Inside Politics look at the blogs. Hugh Hewitt played the segment on his show tonight as Judy Woodruff, Jacki Schechner, and Abbi Tatton reviewed the Byrd scandal through CQ and Radioblogger: WOODRUFF: ... Time now to check what's going on in the blogosphere. And with me once again today to talk about what they are talking about, CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner. She's our blog reporter. So, Jacki, I bet it's not baseball. JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: No, it's more like Byrd. We've already heard what Senator Robert Byrd said on the floor of the Senate, comparing Republican tactics to Adolph Hitler's rise to power. Conservative blogs all over it. Over at Captain's Quarters, he's got plenty to say, including this comment: "Byrd, with his attempted filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN Peacekeepers Go On Offense

Last Friday I noted that nine UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in the Congo by rogue militia elements. After more than ten years of running from fights, I wrote that the UN would have to start fighting back if it wanted to retain any credibility. Apparently, someone at the UN has reached the same conclusion: United Nations peacekeepers have gone on the offensive against a militia group in Congo, deploying helicopters and killing nearly 60 people in the biggest battle fought by the world body in more than a decade. But criticism of the operation was mounting yesterday when it emerged that up to a third of the dead could have been civilians used as human shields by the group that was the attackers' intended target. The latest hostilities began when a battalion of Pakistani soldiers advanced on the militia base in the Ituri district, the scene of...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 3, 2005

Russia Tells Syria: Leave Lebanon

Bashar Assad's hope of holding onto some international political cover for his continued operation in Lebanon took a body blow this morning, as his normally reliable trading partner Russia told him that Syria should leave Lebanon as soon as possible: Russia has increased the pressure on its ally Syria by joining calls for Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said: "Syria should withdraw from Lebanon, but we all have to make sure that this withdrawal does not violate the very fragile balance which we still have in Lebanon, which is a very difficult country ethnically." America, supported by France, has led international pressure on Syria, particularly through a UN resolution demanding the removal of foreign forces from Lebanon. Russia has, of late, been somewhat of an apologist for the Syrians, openly questioning the identification of Damascus as a center for terrorists and of...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Arabs Tell Syria To Get Out Of Lebanon

In another signal that exasperation with the Assad regime may run closer to Damascus than Assad would prefer, members of the Arab League have joined the chorus telling Syria to get out of Lebanon at the earliest possible moment: Arab leaders launched a flurry of diplomatic activity Thursday, including a trip by Syrian President Bashar Assad to Saudi Arabia, as they sought to control a political storm over Syria's role in neighboring Lebanon. ... Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Wednesday night after meeting with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal, that they had discussed how to "find a mechanism to implement" last year's U.N. Security Council resolution that called for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon. "Egypt is encouraging Syria to settle the situation surrounding Lebanon as soon possible," Aboul Gheit said. The League does not plan on putting the Cedar Revolution on its foreign-miniter agenda for this...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Air Marshals Claim Flight Numbers Have Been Padded

Signs keep appearing of widespread discontent from the Federal Air Marshal service. In today's Washington Times, sources within FAMS tell Audrey Hudson that FAMS management routinely pads numbers to demonstrate coverage mandated by Congress, sometimes doubling the actual number of protected flights -- and even the inflated numbers fall short of 10%: Flight reports by the Federal Air Marshal Service show that federal agents were on less than 10 percent of the nation's flights in December, a number several air marshals say was inflated to make it appear to Congress that commercial air travel is better protected than it is. "The numbers reported to headquarters come back higher than originally reported and are sometimes upwards of double the number of what is actually flown," an air marshal said. "Everyone knows they are padding the numbers." FAMS flight reports for December, obtained by The Washington Times, show air marshals were on...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Byrd's Incoherent Defense

Senator Robert Byrd's office issued a defense of his remarks comparing Republican attempts to bar filibusters on judicial nominations with Naziism in the Senate earlier this week. Unfortunately, it appears that Byrd's staff suffers from the same incoherence that afflicts their boss most of the time: Sen. Robert Byrd's description of Adolf Hitler's rise to power was meant as a warning to heed the past and not as a comparison to Republicans, a spokesman for the West Virginia Democrat says. ... "Terrible chapters of history ought never be repeated," said Tom Gavin, spokesman for Byrd. "All one needs to do is to look at history to see how dangerous it is to curb the rights of the minority." Put aside all of the historical inaccuracies that one has to swallow for that argument to work, such as the fact that the Enabling Law basically abdicated the Reichstag and made Hitler...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Asymmetrical Offense

The recent impulse for democratization has surprised and delighted the West as oppressive regimes thought untouchable have suddenly rethought their strategies in the face of popular discontent. The most dramatic example would be Egypt and Lebanon, two countries which suffered under some of the most constraining dictatorships in Middle East after the departure of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. The two controlling regimes, Mubarak and Assad in Syria, have reacted in opposite directions, at least at first, but the movements have continued to pressure for democracy regardless. They join with the popular will of the Iraqis, the Afghanis, and even a watered-down impulse of the Palestinians. Even Saudi Arabia has a nascent democratization program, and Iran has had street demonstrations for the past two years or more demanding freedom. The wave of democratization promises to free the Muslim world from the grip of kleptocracies and mullahcracies, a welcome development all...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Saudis Get Direct With Assad: Leave Lebanon Now

Bashar Assad must feel as though he's auditioning for a remake of The Lonely Guy this week, as his international political support has crumbled in a flash. The Egyptians earlier today alluded to Saudi expectations for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and now the Saudis have spoken for themselves (via Instapundit): Saudi officials told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Thursday that he must fully withdraw troops from Lebanon and begin soon or face strains in Saudi-Syrian ties. Assad promised only to study the idea of a partial withdrawal by later this month. The kingdom took a tough line as Assad met with the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Abdullah, and other officials in Riyadh. So far, Damascus has resisted Arab pressure for a quick pullout from Lebanon. Saudi officials told Assad the kingdom insists on the full withdrawal of all Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon and wants it to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

CQ Reader Survey Bleg

In conjunction with my advertising service, I'd like to ask CQ readers to take 5 minutes to complete this reader survey to gauge how our advertisements match up with our audience. Please make sure you note on question 16 that you've been referred by Captain's Quarters. Thank you for your help!...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

McCain-Feingold May Shut Down CQ

I have long railed against the back-door First Amendment violations of the McCain-Feingold Act, which purports to reform campaign financing but in reality acts to criminalize political speech. Now Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith explains exactly how MFA could mean the end of political blogging, as we get intimidated by the massive legal requirements that MFA might impose on CQ and other sites: Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over. In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines. Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 4, 2005

Letterman Sucks Up To CBS, Rather

I recall the movie made by HBO about the late-night television war set off by Johnny Carson's Retirement, The Late Shift, in which Kathy Bates played Jay Leno's voracious and self-destructive agent/manager. One criticism of Leno -- one he later acknowledged as valid -- was that he made no mention of Carson or his support of Leno over the years on Leno's first broadcast as Carson's replacement. In the movie, Bates tells the head of NBC that she refuses to let Jay thank or even mention Johnny, telling him, "That's suck-up. Jay doesn't do suck-up." Well, now we know David Letterman does suck-up, and he sells out pretty easily too. Last night, Letterman hosted Dan Rather on Rather's farewell tour from the CBS Evening News, and tossed softball after softball to allow Rather to misrepresent the Memogate fiasco that cost four of Rather's colleagues their jobs. Les Moonves had to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Assad Still Doesn't Get It

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, an opthalmologist by trade, keeps proving that he can't see his way around the worst political crisis of his career. According to Lebanese political sources at Reuters, Assad will announce a partial withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, according to the Taif Accords that have lain dormant for sixteen years: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to announce on Saturday the pullout of some Syrian troops from Lebanon and the redeployment of the rest close to the border, a Lebanese political source said on Friday. Assad, who delivers a speech at Syria's parliament on Saturday, is expected to declare the move in line with the Taif Accord which ended Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, the source said. Taif stipulates Syrian forces redeploy to the eastern Bekaa Valley and then the Lebanese and Syrian governments agree on a timeline on how long these forces would stay. The problem...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Texas Radio Stands With Blogosphere

Instapundit links to an expression of support for bloggers of all political stripes this morning from Dan Patrick of KSEV 700 AM and the blog Lone Star Times. Dan writes: LoneStarTimes.com is affiliated with KSEV 700 AM, an independently owned talk-radio station in Houston, TX. As such, we believe that we enjoy the "broadcast exemption" that prohibits the federal government from regulating our speech in the manner they are proposing for "mere" citizen bloggers. While we still need to talk to some sharp lawyers and nail down the details, if these restrictions come to pass, KSEV and LST are committed to working out a legally sound way in which individual bloggers of every ideological persuasion and partisan affiliation can somehow register with us and be credentialed as a press representative of KSEV and LST. Like Raoul Wallenberg handing out passports, we will start issuing press credentials to any blogger that...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Another Ukrainian Minister Kills Himself

The Orange Revolution, a bloodless exercise in people power which overthrew a proto-puppet government, has not gone as bloodless as thought. The reversal of Viktor Yanukovych's fraudulent electoral win and the subsequent victory of Viktor Yushchenko has removed the political protection for the highly-ranked allies of Yanukovych -- and they seem to all have the same exit strategy in mind: Ukraine's former interior minister has been found dead of an apparent suicide on the day he was to be questioned about the killing of an opposition-minded journalist, officials said. The Security Service of Ukraine, the SBU, confirmed Friday that Yuri Kravchenko's body was found at his country house and that a preliminary investigation suggests he committed suicide, CNN's Jill Dougherty reported. Kravchenko was due to be questioned Friday by prosecutors in connection with the murder of investigative journalist Georhiy Gongadze. Some criticized the West for its insistence on free and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Does British Airways Only Own One Airplane?

CNN reports that British Airways has had another in-flight engine failure that they ignored to complete the flight on time. Remarkably, the plane involved is the same one that blew an engine on takeoff last week, ran out of fuel, and forced to make an emergency landing in Manchester -- and the engine that failed yesterday was the replacement for the first failure: British Airways jet that continued on an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles to London after one of its four engines lost power also flew on three engines on a later flight from Singapore to London, the airline said Friday. The Boeing 747 left Singapore on February 25 and landed at London's Heathrow Airport the next day, arriving only 15 minutes behind schedule, BA spokesman Jay Marritt said. Three hours into the 14-hour flight, an oil pressure indicator showed there was a problem with one of the engines,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Bush: No Baby Steps For Baby Assad

George Bush has kept the pressure on Syria by completely rejecting Bashar Assad's attempt to resurrect the long-dead Taif Accord as an excuse to take his time leaving Lebanon. Bush insisted that Syria had to completely withdraw from Lebanon in order to meet its international responsibilities under the controlling UNSC resultion: "There are no half-measures at all," Bush said during an event here on his Social Security proposals. "When the United States and France say withdraw, we mean complete withdrawal, no halfhearted measures." During a speech Saturday to his parliament, Syrian President Bashar Assad was expected to announce a troop pullback to eastern Lebanon near the Syrian border but not a full withdrawal, according to Syrian and Lebanese officials. "We need to see action, not words," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said a day ahead of that speech. A fellow Arab nation, Saudi Arabia, has also called on Syria...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Look Who's Reconsidering The Bush Strategy On Terror

A number of Bush critics have watched the wave of popular demand for democratization sweep across the Middle East since the staging of the Iraqi elections on January 30th and have started to question their previous assumptions. The New York Times did this, with reservations, in its unsigned editorial last Tuesday. Today, the Christian Science Monitor published an opinion piece wondering if Bush has been right all along. Try to guess who wrote this: The movements for democratic change in Egypt and Lebanon have happened since the successful Iraqi election on Jan. 30. And one can speculate on whether Iraq has served as a beacon for democratic change in the Middle East. During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush said that "a liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region." He may have had it right. That conclusion came from the pen...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

John Cornyn Has Robert Byrd's Number

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has written a detailed rebuttal to Robert Byrd's argument on the Senate floor earlier this week, when (apart from the abhorrent Nazi analogies) the former Klan recruiter took on the mantle of the protector of minority rights. Cornyn demolishes Byrd's arguments that the GOP's attempt to change precedent on filibusters has any Hitlerian overtones by pointing out the specifics of when Byrd himself successfully did the same thing: Recall that it was Sen. Byrd who led the charge to establish new Senate precedents in 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1987 - including a number of precedents that were designed specifically to stop filibusters and other delay tactics that were previously authorized under Senate rules or prior precedents ... In 1980, Senator Byrd led the establishment of a new precedent to require an immediate vote, without debate, on any motion to go into executive session to consider a...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

McCain & Co. Counterattack, But Don't Disclose Previous Interests

Democracy Project notes that the campaign-finance reformers have come out to meet the blogswarm forming around Bradley Smith's revelations about the FEC and their new drive to regulate Internet speech as part of their "reforms". They now claim that Smith overstated the issue, that he has partisan motivations, and that he has always opposed campaign-finance reform anyway. However, here's what they don't tell you about those who are leading this counterattack: Let's say you favor, either through conviction or employment demands, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as McCain-Feingold. You're stunned by a blogswarm born of a candid interview one of the commissioners of the FEC grants to an Internet publication. What do you do? Send out a press release written by a man who served on Al Gore's legal team during the Florida recount controversy in 2000, perhaps? A man who's employed by a lobbying firm...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

An Open Letter To The United States Senate

Following the example of CQ reader Erp, I wrote a letter to Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold, and copied all 98 other Senators to express my outrage over the direction that the FEC has been forced to take in regulating political speech on the Internet. I encourage you to get involved and do the same, in your own words, in order to serve notice that we will not allow them to silence us. To the honorable Senators McCain and Feingold, et al: I have read with considerable dismay the effect that your recent lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission, upheld by Judge Colleen Kollar-Ketelly, will have on political speech on the Internet. I write a political media-watchdog blog, Captain's Quarters, which enjoys a not-insubstantial daily readership. No one pays me to do this; I operate my site and write on topics purely from personal convictions and a deep desire...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Bradley Smith/NRA News Interview At Redstate

Redstate has a transcript of FEC commissioner Bradley Smith's interview with Cam Edwards of NRA News. Smith explains why the ruling in their courtroom loss could mean bad news for bloggers: CS: Well, let me tell you some of the potential ramifications. I mean, some of the folks now, uh McCain and some of his allies, are out saying, Well, this would only apply to paid ads. Thats juthe FEC already treats paid ads as subject to the act. But nothing in the judges decision limits it to paid advertising, and it, she says anything thats coordinated, for sure we have to regulate. Now, what is coordinated under FEC regulations? Any republication of campaign material counts as a coordinated complication. That means, for a blogger, if you put up anything, or ah, from a campaign onto the blogsite, thats going to be republication of campaign material. If you get an...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Day By Day In The Age Of McCain-Feingold

Chris Muir gets it, as usual: Even in silence, Chris speaks volumes....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 5, 2005

Pakistan Gathers More AQ Assets

Operating from new intelligence, the Pakistani Army attacked a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in North Waziristan, capturing eleven foreigners and killing two other suspected terrorists: Pakistani troops raided a hideout of suspected al-Qaida militants Saturday in a remote tribal area near Afghanistan, triggering a shootout that left two foreigners dead, an army spokesman said. Eleven people were arrested. The troops also seized a large number of weapons in the raid near Miran Shah, the main town in northwest Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, said Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan. Miran Shah is near the Afghan border, in a region known for its sympathies to the Islamists. The Pakistanis had recently come to terms with the tribal chiefs in the area and had quit attacking on a broad front in both North and South Waziristan. While they weren't satisfied that the al-Qaeda operatives in the area had all been rounded up, they promised...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Syria Losing Control Of Lebanese Army?

CNN reports that the Lebanese Army has taken positions around the Syrian intelligence headquarters in Beirut, an ominous development in the Cedar Revolution: Lebanese army troops and armored vehicles took up positions Saturday around the Syrian intelligence headquarters in Beirut. The move comes ahead of an expected announcement from Syrian President Bashar Assad, within a few hours, that he will withdraw some troops from Lebanon and redeploy others within the country. ... Lebanon's defense minister Abdul-Rahim Murad said he expected Assad to announce a pullback of troops to the Bekaa region in eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border, but not a full withdrawal from the country, The Associated Press reported. When asked whether the redeployment meant a full withdrawal, Murad answered, "No." This could mean one of two things. It could mean that the Lebanese Army plans on protecting Syrian intelligence assets as the Syrian Army pulls out, a scenario...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Al-Reuters Can't Even Spin Coherently

The news service Reuters appears almost apoplectic today as it tries to gin up a diplomatic meltdown between Italy and the US after the wounding of a freed hostage and the killing of an Italian commando yesterday by US forces at a checkpoint. As MS-NBC noted yesterday, the shooting commenced because the Italians refused to slow their car down as it approached a military checkpoint near the airport -- not exactly a bright idea in a country where terrorists attack checkpoints with carbombs on a regular basis. Silvio Berlusconi called the American ambassador to his office to request a full investigation, which President Bush publicly announced would take place. For our stout Italian allies, nothing less would suffice; however, even from preliminary information, it appears that the shooting could have been avoided had the Italians exercised some common sense and better communication with the Americans. However, Reuters issued two reports,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Zarqawi Ought To Be In Pictures

CNN has new pictures of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, updating the psycho-lunatic photo commonly used with reports on his activities with a kindler, gentler image: CNN recently obtained new pictures of a man believed to be terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose network in Iraq has been responsible for attacks on military and civilian targets. Al-Zarqawi is thought to be a close associate of Osama bin Laden, and has pledged his allegiance to bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. In the photos, he is chatting and laughing with unknown men. ... Intelligence officials said this week that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has enlisted the help of al-Zarqawi to plan new attacks inside the United States. Sources tell CNN the man in the photos is indeed al-Zarqawi. It's not SOP for terrorists to have their pictures taken at parties, which makes me wonder about the circumstances of this...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

NARN On The Air Today!

The Northern Alliance will broadcast live from the White Bear Lake Superstore this afternoon from noon to 3 PM CT. If you're in the Twin Cities area, come on down to the best car dealership in town and meet the NARN, as well as State Senator Michelle Bachmann, who will run for Congress in the 6th CD in 2006. If you can't come down to the site, listen to us on The Patriot or over our Internet stream. Any way you can -- be sure to join us!...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

NY Times Reports On FEC Rulemaking

The New York Times reported the ongoing controversy over the FEC's requirement to regulate political speech over the Internet, heavily borrowing from Bradley Smith's C-NET interview and the rebuttal from the Democratic commissioners. However, their rebuttals did not explicitly rule out regulation, and in fact Ellen Weintraub's comments leave enough loophole room for a Mack truck. Anne Kornblut covers the outlines of the controversy but provides little analysis, allowing the dueling commissioners to define the problem: Anyone who decides to "set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet" could be subject to Federal Election Commission regulation, Bradley A. Smith, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview posted Thursday on the technology news site Cnet.com. "It becomes a really complex issue that would strike deep into the heart of the Internet and the bloggers who are writing out there today,"...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 6, 2005

The Second Front In The War On Bloggers

Michelle Malkin has been covering what looks to be a second front in a semi-coordinated war on bloggers and online speech -- launched by Apple Computers, of all people, the same company who twenty-one years ago advertised itself as a bulwark against Big Brother. In another attempt to strip blogs of any identity as journalism and to suppress the speech within, Apple has sued three bloggers in an effort to reveal their sources regarding the unauthorized release of information about an upcoming product. The court on Friday ruled that Apple must be told who gave the information or the bloggers can be held in contempt of court: In a case with implications for the freedom to blog, a San Jose judge tentatively ruled Thursday that Apple Computer can force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about the company's upcoming products. Santa Clara County...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Hezbollah Endorses The Occupation

Hezbollah had mostly remained silent in the face of the Cedar Revolution, presumably to avoid drawing attention to its special status and relationship to the Syrian occupiers. Now it has decided to fight for the occupation to continue rather than face a free Lebanon, calling for counterdemonstrations to support continued Syrian administration of the country: Hizbollah, Lebanon's most powerful party, threw its weight against Syria's opponents on Sunday, calling for a peaceful mass rally in central Beirut on Tuesday in support of Damascus and against Western meddling. The Shi'ite Muslim group, which has the largest following in the country and is the only one with weapons, has in the past steered clear of plunging into internal Lebanese politics or flexing its political muscles against domestic rivals. ... In the name of loyalist parties, he called for a mass rally Tuesday at a square in central Beirut close to another square...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

War On Terror Bolstering Moderates, Not Radicals

One of the arguments from the Left after 9/11, and especially in the build-up to the Iraq invasion, was that George Bush and Tony Blair's prosecution of the war on terror would only result in further extremism. Many argued that Bush became al-Qaeda's best recruiter, and that the US had blundered into following Osama bin Laden's playbook. Predictions of massive shifts towards radical Islamism in previously moderate populations abounded, complete with allusions to a global uprising of Islam against Western civilization -- Armageddon. Unfortunately for the Chicken Littles, those predictions have suffered the same fate as those proclaiming disasters in the Iraqi desert or Afghani mountains for American military forces. The New York Times reports that the forward engagement of Islamofascists have empowered Muslim moderates and liberals to marginalize the radicals as never before, even within the mosques themselves: Inayat Bunglawala had just finished his talk on "Islamophobia and the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Spiderhole Nightmares, Part II

For those who still doubt that the invasion of Iraq has anything to do with the wave of democratization sweeping across the Middle East and the thus-far impotence of the dictatorships to stop it, the Commissar at the Politburo Diktat noticed this comment from Bashar Assad in an interview with the Turkish press: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, under pressure to withdraw troops from Lebanon, insisted he should not be compared to Saddam Hussein and that he wanted to cooperate with international demands, according to an interview released Sunday. ... At the end of the interview, which was conducted last week, Assad said: "Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to cooperate." Watching Saddam get pulled out of that spider hole by American soldiers has generated an entirely new calculus in the cesspool of tyranny and corruption throughout the Muslim world. When Moammar Gaddafi and Bashar Assad...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

300-400 Bullets Hit This Car? (Updated!)

The British newspaper The Guardian reports that freed Italian hostage Giuliani Sgrena claims that Americans fired between 300 and 400 rounds from an armored vehicle after the car had already stopped and Americans had looked inside with a flashlight: The US Army claimed the Italians' vehicle had been seen as a threat because it was travelling at speed and failed to stop at the checkpoint despite warning shots being fired by the soldiers. A State Department official in Washington said the Italians had failed to inform the military of Sgrena's release. Italian reconstruction of the incident is significantly different. Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle. Rather than calling immediately for assistance for the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Ayman Nour: Did I Take Democracy Too Seriously?

When Egyptian democracy activist Ayman Nour was imprisoned by the Mubarak regime, it resulted in an unusually harsh rebuke from Secretary of State Condi Rice, who cancelled a planned meeting with Hosni Mubarak. In response, Mubarak surprisingly announced that Egypt would allow multiparty elections for president, promising free and open elections for the first time in decades, if ever. And yet, Ayman Nour remains in prison, ostensibly for forgery but really for the crime of forming a liberal political party of the type Mubarak promises to allow in the next election. Nour wonders if he gambled on democracy without a good reason, and he sent a missive out from prison to plead his case to the world. Newsweek publishes it in tomorrow's edition: On Jan. 29, Egyptian security forces snatched me as I was leaving my seat in Parliament amid the cries of my political allies and the suspicious indifference...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 7, 2005

Unions Choose Politics Over Membership

The AFL-CIO has decided to double its budget for electoral politics instead of investing $35 million into organizing efforts, despite a precipitous drop in membership rolls that goes back decades, the Washington Post reports this morning. The decision comes after a bitter debate between two factions of leadership which threatens the unity of the fifty-year-old organization: AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney last week won the latest round in a bitter internal clash over the future of the labor movement by insisting that more money go for future campaigns to unseat Republicans than for trying to shore up the federation's sagging membership. That showdown pitted Sweeney, AFSCME's Gerald McEntee and the Steelworkers' Leo Gerard against such powerhouse dissidents as the Teamsters' James P. Hoffa, the Service Employees' Andrew L. Stern and the Laborers' Terence M. O'Sullivan. ... By a 2 to 1 margin, the AFL-CIO's executive committee last week rejected the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Reality Check For Italian Conspiracy Theorists

The death of an Italian commando and the wounding of Giuliana Sgrena has led to hysterical charges of assassination attempts and war crimes, all of which approach the ridiculous. Michelle Malkin has the best round-up of the media coverage today, including multiple reports that the Italians paid millions of dollars in ransom to free Sgrena -- money that will undoubtedly go towards murdering Iraqis and American soldiers, and certainly a reason to play a little misdirection with an accidental shooting. The Washington Post provides a look at why Sgrena's car likely got shot in an otherwise rather hostile article by Jeffrey Smith and Ann Tyson: The automobile was traversing onto a route -- the road to the airport -- where soldiers have been killed in shootings and by roadside bombs. U.S. soldiers had established an impromptu evening checkpoint at the entrance to the road about 90 minutes earlier and had...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Council On Foreign Relations, Coming To A Theater Near You

The Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank with an impressive name if not necessarily an equally impressive track record, has decided to choose celebrity over cerebra. According to Al Kamen at the Washington Post, the CFR welcomes the following distinguished thinkers into their policy-wonk chambers: The venerable Council on Foreign Relations' list of new members, in addition to the usual diplomats, academics, Hill folk and media suspects, includes Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Warren Beatty and Mike Medavoy. The most surprising aspect of those links showing political donations are how cheap most Hollywood celebrities are. Richard Dreyfuss made no donations at all during the 2004 cycle despite his rhetoric about George Bush and the evil of Republicanism, and only Michael Douglas spent more than a few grand. If the CFR expected the Hollywood crowd to pick up a few dinner tabs with their new memberships, they will be sorely disappointed....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

In Sgrena's Own Words

CNN has a translation of Giuliana Sgrena's account of the incident with American troops that left her wounded and her negotiator dead. Stripped of the dramatics with which she surrounds the narrative, this is Sgrena's recollection of the friendly-fire incident, as published in Il Manifesto: The car kept on the road, going under an underpass full of puddles and almost losing control to avoid them. We all incredibly laughed. It was liberating. Losing control of the car in a street full of water in Baghdad and maybe wind up in a bad car accident after all I had been through would really be a tale I would not be able to tell. Nicola Calipari sat next to me. The driver twice called the embassy and in Italy that we were heading towards the airport that I knew was heavily patrolled by U.S. troops. They told me that we were less...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

When Political Correctness Kills, Part II

MS-NBC has a breaking story from the AP regarding the screening of 9/11 mastermind Mohammed Atta, the last chance to stop him, and why it slipped through our fingers. The airport security agent at Logan Airport remembers Atta well from that day: Michael Tuohey of Scarborough said he was suspicious of Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari when they rushed through the Portland International Jetport to make their flight to Boston that day. Attas demeanor and the pairs first-class, one-way tickets to Los Angeles made Tuohey think twice about them. I said to myself, If this guy doesnt look like an Arab terrorist, then nothing does. Then I gave myself a mental slap, because in this day and age, its not nice to say things like this, Tuohey told the Maine Sunday Telegram. Youve checked in hundreds of Arabs and Hindus and Sikhs, and youve never done that. I felt kind of...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Cooler Italian Heads May Yet Prevail

After the outpouring of understandable grief at the loss of Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, some members of the Italian press want to cool the rhetoric spawned by the far-left Communist mouthpiece Il Manifesto, in which Giuliana Sgrena has accused the US of attempting to assassinate her after the Italians ransomed her from her Iraqi captors. The publication Italian Life (Corriere Della Sera IT) calls for a bit of common sense from Italians when dealing with Sgrena's outburst: [I]s it true, as the self-styled Communist Daily headline puts it, that the death of Nicola Calipari was a preemptive and therefore premeditated, homicide? Is it true, as Rossana Rossanda writes, that the Americans were shooting to kill, and that Caliparis death was an assassination? Can we really subscribe to the picture painted by Ms Rossanda of arrogant Yankee roughnecks, beardless and/or whisky-soused, complying with the American maxim, shoot first, ask questions...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Demick Raises Questions By Her Answers

Barbara Demick generated tremendous criticism for herself and the Los Angeles Times for a front-page apologia of the Kim regime in an article Demick wrote and the Times headlined, "North Korea: Without The Rancor." I didn't comment about it at the time because I hadn't read the article before I heard the controversy, and by the time I had an opportunity to dig into it, my perspective had been well covered by Hugh Hewitt and many others. Hugh attempted to get Ms. Demick to appear on his show, and while it seems as though she's willing, the LAT editors apparently balked at Hugh's offer. However, she did agree to answer questions put to her by e-mail as long as Hugh reproduced them unedited, which he did this morning. Her answers raise new questions about her original article and the editorial judgement of the Times. For instance, Hugh asks Demick this...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 8, 2005

Walter Cronkite Damns Rather With Faint Defense

Walter Cronkite had an opportunity to defend Dan Rather on CNN last night in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, and mostly took a pass. While Uncle Walter made some unenthusiastic attempts at excusemaking, but declined the laughable assertion that the Killian memos still hadn't been established as forgeries, and made his distaste for Dan Rather clear. Here's Walter on Memogate: BLITZER: Well, he's leaving under a cloud, as you well know, the circumstances surrounding that "60 Minutes" report. It's unfortunate for him, given his career. But, looking back, there were lots of sloppy mistakes that were made. CRONKITE: Well, you're speaking of this particular episode, of course. And that was most unfortunate. He hung on too long [with the story due] to his faith in his staff. They had provided this material. And he trusted them implicitly in all things and insisted that the information was correct for a whole...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Hezbollah Sponsors Counterprotests In Beirut

True to their word, pro-Syrian Hezbollah leadership staged a protest in Beirut to counter the people power demonstrations creating so much pressure for a complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. In the AP report, however, no mention is given on how many people Hezbollah attracted for their paean to foreign domination: Pro-Syrian protesters gathered in a central Beirut square Tuesday, answering a nationwide call by the militant Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group for a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon. Loudspeakers blared songs of resistance and organizers handed out Lebanese flags and directed the men and women to separate sections of the square. Black-clad Hezbollah guards handled security, lining the perimeter of the square and taking position on rooftops. Trained dogs sniffed for bombs. Large cranes hoisted two giant white and red flags bearing Lebanon's cedar tree. On one, the words "Thank you Syria" were written...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Syria: Withdrawal Includes Intelligence Services

Syria clarified its position on the withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon this morning, assuring the international community that their withdrawal will include their espionage agents as well as military personnel: Syria's promised troop pullout from Lebanon will include intelligence and security personnel, a Syrian official source said Tuesday. The source gave no timetable for the second phase of the pullout announced Monday, but said: "This doesn't mean it won't be soon." "The fact that security forces were not mentioned in the statement is merely because they move along with the armed forces. It is a given. The withdrawal is of all Syrian forces," the source told Reuters. ... A statement after the talks did not mention Syrian security services. The United States, which has demanded that intelligence agents leave along with the troops, has dismissed the plan for failing to set a deadline for a full pullout. That may...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Gulf News Channels Eason Jordan

To no one's great surprise, Gulf News has taken the Sgrena incident and used it to bolster Eason Jordan's allegations of deliberate assassinations of journalists by American forces in Iraq. Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics points readers to this one-sided editorial by Linda Heard, which takes the ultra-leftist Sgrena's self-contradictory narrative as gospel to smear the American military: CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan was forced to resign last month to quell the furore over his suggestion that US troops had "targetted" journalists. He was later to backtrack and apologise in an effort to keep his job but the damage had already been done. The knives came out from all sides of the political spectrum with Jordan branded as being un-American and unpatriotic. Now, just weeks later, the left-wing, anti-war Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena who was shot at and wounded by American forces in Iraq shortly after being released by her...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Mr. Clean?

CQ reader TR points me to a breaking news item from the AP that alleges a conflict of interest for Senator John McCain. After a non-profit group closely associated with McCain and which pays a six-figure salary to one of his aides received $200,000 in donations from Cablevision, McCain wrote a letter of support to the FCC pushing Cablevision's regulatory positions: Sen. John McCain pressed a cable company's case for pricing changes with regulators at the same time a tax-exempt group that he has worked with since its founding solicited $200,000 in contributions from the company. Help from McCain, who argues for ridding politics of big money, included giving the CEO of Cablevision Systems Corp. the opportunity to testify before his Senate committee, writing a letter of support to the Federal Communication Commission and asking other cable companies to support so-called a la carte pricing. McCain had expressed interest in...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Screaming Hypocrisy: NYT

The New York Times has signaled that Senator John McCain can expect no media blackout of his apparent conflict between his reformer persona and the coordination involving his action on behalf of Cablevision and their $200K donations to the Reform Institute. In an article that manages to almost completely miss the Cablevision connection, McCain still comes across as a hypocrite, raising big money for his pet causes through the supposedly independent 501(c)3 that employs his chief political advisor, Rick Davis: In a small office a few miles from Capitol Hill, a handful of top advisers to Senator John McCain run a quiet campaign. They promote his crusade against special interest money in politics. They send out news releases promoting his initiatives. And they raise money - hundreds of thousands of dollars, tapping some McCain backers for more than $50,000 each. This may look like the headquarters of a nascent McCain...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Revisiting The Keating 5

In order to understand John McCain's present circumstances, it may be helpful to recall his entry into the Senate, tarnished with scandal over the savings and loan system collapse in the late 1980s. John McCain had been a recipient of over $100,000 in donations from Charles Keating, the owner of Lincoln Savings and Loan and American Continental Corporation. Keating used the S&L to float out bad bonds in ACC, resulting in a $2 billion loss and bailout from the FSLIC and the loss of millions of dollars to ordinary shareholders in ACC. McCain ran interference for Keating, as the Arizona Republic's Bill Muller wrote: In 1982, during McCain's first run for the House, Keating held a fund-raiser for him, collecting more than $11,000 from 40 employees of American Continental Corp. McCain would spend more than $550,000 to win the primary and the general election. In 1983, during McCain's second House...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Sgrena Vehicle Exposed

Giuliana Sgrena described the American "assassination" attempt on her life as a "rain of bullets" that still somehow managed to leave her alive. We have asked to see the car that the Italians used to transport her and the deceased negotiator, Nicola Calipari, to the Baghdad airport to see whether the damage matches her description of the incident. Now La Repubblica has a slideshow of photographs that pretty much demolished the notion that the American soldiers at the checkpoint fired indiscriminately at Sgrena's vehicle: This clearly shows that the vehicle did not come under heavy fire but probably got shot by handheld weapon trying to disable the vehicle. This picture is last in the slideshow; others show bullet holes on the fringe of the front windshield, which otherwise remains intact. Whatever else happened, this vehicle did not come under heavy-weapons fire or indiscriminate automatic-arms fire. The fact that it's still...

Continue reading "The Sgrena Vehicle Exposed" »

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Southern Sieve

FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress today that illegal aliens from countries with significant al-Qaeda ties have crossed the Mexican border into the US, while terrorists have now begun assuming Hispanic last names to blend into the flood of immigrants: "We are concerned, Homeland Security is concerned about special interest aliens entering the United States," Mueller said, using a term for people from countries where al-Qaida is known to be active. Under persistent questioning from Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, Mueller said he was aware of one route that takes people to Brazil, where they assume false identities, and then to Mexico before crossing the U.S. border. He also said that in some instances people with Middle Eastern names have adopted Hispanic last names before trying to get into the United States. Our inability to secure our Southern border amounts to the single most embarassing and preventable security lapse since...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 9, 2005

Lebanon Backsliding?

After a massive pro-Syrian rally sponsored by Hezbollah and possibly bolstered by Damascus, Lebanese president Emile Lahoud has decided to reinstate Omar Karami as Prime Minister -- the same PM that the pro-democracy rallies chased from office: Lebanon's president looked set to ask the outgoing pro-Syrian prime minister to form a government on Wednesday, a step sure to anger the anti-Syrian opposition who pressured him to resign in the first place. President Emile Lahoud, buoyed by a mass rally in support of his Syrian backers, began consultations with MPs that were likely to preserve Syria's political grip on its much smaller neighbor. Speaker Nabih Berri's bloc named Omar Karami as prime minister, as did the deputies of guerrilla group Hizbollah. Karami resigned as prime minister last week after huge anti-Syrian protests in Beirut but stayed on as caretaker. Other pro-Syrian MPs were expected to follow, making it all but certain...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Stupidity Of Terror (Western Version)

Sometimes, people act so stupidly that one has to marvel that they remember to breathe. In the case of the IRA and Sinn Fin, that has almost reached the level of parody. The IRA managed to get itself involved in what started off as a simple bar fight, which of course is stupid enough for a supposedly experienced underground paramilitary force. During this bar fight, at least three and maybe more of these geniuses decide to stab one of the combatants and wind up killing the man who tried to stop the fight. Because the men involved were well-known in their Northern Ireland community, the family of the victim, Robert McCartney, has called for the IRA to cough up the men involved in this senseless, brutal, and needlessly provocative murder. The IRA refuses, of course, as it's not really an experienced underground paramilitary force but a terrorist group run more...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

No Echoes Of Lynne Stewart Here

Matthew Hale, the imprisoned white supremacist who the FBI believes may have had some role in ordering the murder of a federal judge's family, attempted to pass coded messages to his followers, according to his attorney: An attorney for jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale said he was asked to give an encoded message to one of Hale's supporters, according to a published report. Hale has been a focus of the investigation into the shooting deaths of a federal judge's husband and mother. Lawyer Glenn Greenwald said Hale's mother asked him a few months ago to pass the message to a Hale supporter. "She said she didn't know what the message meant, but she was going to read it to me verbatim because Matt made her write it down when she visited him," Greenwald told The New York Times in Wednesday's editions. "It was two or three sentences that were very...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Day By Day On McCain And Cablevision Payoff

As usual, Chris Muir nails the issue in real time: I'll have more on John McCain and the Reform Institute later today. In the meantime, if you don't read Day by Day on a regular basis, you should start today. Eventually a syndicate is going to wise up and hire Muir -- and then we'll have to subscribe to a newspaper or the syndicate to get our fix......

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Rocky Mountain News: To The Barricades!

The Rocky Mountain News apparently won't drink the old-line media Kool-Aid regarding McCain-Feingold and the media exemption. The RMN appears to have an editorial board that remains old-fashioned enough to protect the First Amendment, even when the BCRA gives them a political advantage: Little wonder, since the immediate victims of such a scheme would be the proliferating number of bloggers who devote themselves to online political commentary. Current FEC rules count any Web link to a candidate's Web site as "coordination" with that candidate's campaign. If applied to the Internet, that could make individual bloggers subject to the much more restrictive rules that now govern the activity of special-interest groups. As "Captain Ed" Morrissey of the political blog Captain's Quarters said in an open letter to Sens. McCain and Feingold, during the presidential campaign he linked to Kerry's Web site four times as often as to Bush's, "which would have...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

McCain, Feingold, & Co: Trust Us

John McCain and Russ Feingold issued a joint statement yesterday in response to the outrage from the blogosphere over the failure of the FEC to appeal the legal ruling ending the Internet exemption of the BCRA. After FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith detailed the range of options open to the FEC for regulating political speech, especially regarding blogs, CQ and a whole range of other bloggers across the political spectrum protested the decision by the three Democratic appointees to the FEC to block the appeal. The joint statement, in its entirety: As the primary Senate authors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, we have spent years fighting to clean up elections and ensure that powerful monied interests do not drown out the voices of everyday Americans in our political system. Those interests don't want to give up any of their power, and their main tactic has been to try...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Inside McCain's Reform Institute

When CQ first covered the Bradley Smith interview that started the blogswarm on the FEC and the BCRA this week, I noted several unusual relationships between the donors and the institute, all hinging on Richard Davis, RI's president and John McCain's campaign manager. Since Davis also acts as McCain's chief political advisor, I found it odd that the RI -- which pays Davis a $110,000 "consulting fee" annually instead of a salary as its president -- received money from donors such as the sources that follow below. Bear in mind, please, that foundations don't just line up to hand out cash. Rick Davis has to apply and then campaign for these funds, as budgets are limited even for the richest foundations. They carefully select their grantees to ensure that they support the overall mission of the foundation. Why would a close political advisor to John McCain go to these sources...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Dutch Babies Euthanized At Higher Rate Than Reported: CNN

Last November, the Netherlands medical community reported that doctors occasionally practiced euthanasia on children and babies and wanted the government to codify rules and practices for doctors to use. The proposal, called the Groningen Protocol, sought to allow doctors the final choice as to when to end a child's life, even if the parents objected (from the original AP story): Under the Groningen protocol, if doctors at the hospital think a child is suffering unbearably from a terminal condition, they have the authority to end the child's life. The protocol is likely to be used primarily for newborns, but it covers any child up to age 12. The hospital, beyond confirming the protocol in general terms, refused to discuss its details. "It is for very sad cases," said a hospital spokesman, who declined to be identified. "After years of discussions, we made our own protocol to cover the small number...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 10, 2005

CQ On TV

I had not known about this beforehand, but CNN put together a short piece on bloggers and the FEC for last night's broadcast. Hosted by Howard Kurtz and lasting about two minutes, it covered the framework of the threat the BCRA and the recent stripping of the Internet exemption holds for bloggers. Howard Kurtz hosted it, and quoted from CQ (using my full name) and La Shawn Barber. Trey Jackson has the video. UPDATE: For a short segment, Kurtz did a good job, I thought. Let me know what you think about it. BTW, I must have a face built for radio; while I see many of my fellow bloggers getting talking-head time on cable debate shows, my cherubic visage has yet to grace the small screens of America. You can consider this a good example of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand of market wisdom, I suppose ......

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Palestinian Democrats In Action

For those who believed that the fraudulent presidential elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip signaled a turn towards peace and stability in Israeli-Palestinian relations, be prepared for more disappointment. Not only has President Mahmoud Abbas failed to control the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in the territories, allowing them to continue attacks in Israel, but now it at least appears he can't even control the terrorists in his own political faction: More than 20 Palestinian gunmen burst into a large gathering of the ruling Fatah party on Thursday, ordering people out of the building and firing shots into the air. Roughly 1,200 Fatah activists had gathered in a Ramallah hotel to discuss upcoming parliamentary elections when the gunmen burst into the building, said Dimitri Diliani, a party activist from Jerusalem. The gunmen broke chairs, ordered everyone out of the building and fired shots into the air outside the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

US Quits The Consular Notification Provisions Of Vienna Convention

In a surprise move, the Bush administration withdrew Monday from the portion of the Vienna Convention that requires consular notification and assistance to foreigners detained by its signatories. The Washington Post reports that Condoleezza Rice sent Kofi Annan the news on March 7th, presumably in response to the World Court's insistence on assuming jurisdiction on American death-penalty cases: The Bush administration has decided to pull out of an international agreement that opponents of the death penalty have used to fight the sentences of foreigners on death row in the United States, officials said yesterday. In a two-paragraph letter dated March 7, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The United States proposed the protocol in 1963 and ratified it -- along with the rest of the Vienna Convention --...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Lefkow Case Solved?

In a strange twist to a tragic story, a suicide on a Milwaukee street may explain why a federal judge's family was brutally murdered -- a reason that has no apparent connection to white supremacists, as first feared: A suicide note claiming responsibility for the killings of a federal judge's husband and mother was found with the body of a Chicago man who shot himself to death after being pulled over for a traffic violation in a Milwaukee suburb Wednesday night, Chicago's police superintendent said this morning. Supt. Phil Cline identified the North Side man as Bart Ross, 58. In his note, Ross said he killed U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother at the family's North Side home because the judge had ruled against him in a medical-malpractice case, authorities said. Ross has no known ties to white-supremacist groups, Cline said. Authorities had been pursuing possible white-supremacist links...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kevin McCullough: Church Report To Vindicate Pentagon

Kevin McCullough has a source within the Pentagon which claims that the report from the Admiral Church investigation into torture and detainee abuse will vindicate the Pentagon's actions and administration. The report will find the following, according to Kevin: 1. There was no policy that condoned torture. 2. There was no policy that encouraged abuse. 3. There was a lot of inconsistency across interrogation techniques. Many of those techniques were developed in the combat theater and migrated to other areas. 4. There was a general lack of military command guidance in dealing with the CIA. He found 30 ghost detainees. One such detainee was in that status for 45 days. 5. There were missed interrogation opportunities in part because the military failed to take account of lessons from prior conflicts. 6. There was no guidance to CENTCOM or by CENTCOM on interrogations. The New York Times has a preliminary look...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iran Got Centrifuges From AQ Khan

Pakistan finally admitted today that the Iranian nuclear program got a big boost from the father of the Pakistani atomic-weapons program, AQ Khan. Up to now, Pakistan has not given any specifics about the work of Khan in spreading nuclear technology across the Asian continent, but atomic-energy watchdogs believe that his work enabled North Korea and Libya to develop their own programs far faster than analysts predicted. Libya, in fact, confirmed this when they abandoned their WMD programs in January 2004. This time, Pakistan did get specific about the support Khan gave the Iranian mullahcracy: Pakistan has admitted in the past that Khan, dubbed the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya, but has not given specifics as to what he supplied. "He has given centrifuges to Iran, but the government was in no way involved in this," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

PC Madness Doubles In On Itself

Only in a world where sticks and stones break no bones but words hurt like hell can a story this stupid arise. IKEA, the Swedish furniture behemoth, has been targeted for allegations of gender bias because the manuals for their furniture show no women assembling them. IKEA defends itself by claiming it wants to protect Muslim sensibilities by avoiding showing women at work. No, I'm not kidding: Swedish home furnishings giant IKEA is guilty of sex discrimination by showing only men putting together furniture in its instruction manuals, Norway's prime minister says. IKEA, which has more than 200 stores in 32 nations, fears it might offend Muslims by depicting women assembling everything from cupboards to beds. Its manuals show only men or cartoon figures whose sex is unclear. The madness of political correctness has, at least in this case, victimized itself. Does anyone truly care that the drawings in a...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

More Media Voices For The Blogosphere

Two more columnists today use their platforms to argue for the blogosphere and the equal treatment of bloggers as part of the national media. Both use the Apple case as an example of the differing treatment given to self-publishing citizen journalists/pundits. Jacob Weisberg of Slate writes today that a journalist doesn't get made by an HR department or a university program, but by the quality of the writer: [M]any old-line journalists have tried to define their work in a ways that exclude the new aspirants. Insitutionalized journalists argue that bloggers don't do conventional reporting, aren't accurate, aren't responsible, or aren't paidand hence are not genuine reporters. They fret that the current influx of amateurs will undermine professional standards or that seasoned professionals will be unfairly brought down by an electronic lynch mob, as some posit that Dan Rather of CBS and Eason Jordan of CNN were. Disregard all such self-interested...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Getting The Story Right, Even Here At CQ

The main currency of a blogger -- perhaps the only currency -- is credibility. If we expect to be taken seriously, then we need to make sure we get our facts straight, and if we make a mistake, to acknowledge it. Of course, none of us like to admit we missed something important (heck, who does?), but when we do we need to correct the record. Last night I posted about Dutch euthanasia and the Groningen Protocol. In doing so, I used my original source material, an AP wire report that first brought the practice to my attention. The blog PBS Watch and CQ reader Superhawk both pointed out to me that the AP report contained a substantial error -- that the protocol could be used to override a parental objection. But that isn't what Groningen proposed, as PBS Watch noted (emphasis mine): The Groningen Protocol has five criteria: the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Chris Nolan: Regulate Me Before I Lose Control

With the pending FEC regulations on Internet politicking percolating through the blogosphere, the prevailing wisdom goes two different directions. Either the decision by Judge Kottar-Kotelly to strip the Internet of its BCRA exemption portends even more encroachment on political speech by regulating bloggers to death, or the threat has been overblown and the FEC wouldn't dare to try it. No one in the blogosphere has argued on behalf of greater regulation. That is, no one until Chris Nolan wrote this piece for eWeek. Nolan argues that bloggers have become so influential in politics that regulating us should be a high priority for the FEC, in order to prevent our interference with campaign finance reform: It's silly to think Smith's warnings will all come to pass and that the FEC will attempt to figure out, for instance, the actual monetary "value" to a campaign of a hyperlink from a blogger or...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

No Wonder Randy Moss Was Such A Handful

The Minnesota Vikings traded their star receiver, Randy Moss, to the Oakland Raiders last month in what even Moss-scoffers acknowledge equates to the ludicrous Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio trade in 1964. The bad feelings about Moss came less from his on-field antics, although those were plentiful enough, than from his off-field problems, such as deliberately hitting a police officer with his car two years ago. They applauded the Vikings for moving Moss out of the Twin Cities even if they scratched their heads about only getting Napoleon Harris and a couple of draft choices for him. Moss-scoffers felt like the message had been sent that chronic misbehavior would no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately, now it looks like the Vikings got rid of the wrong person if that was their intent. Sports Illustrated reports tonight that Mike Tice has admitted to scalping his Super Bowl tickets for profit the past...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 11, 2005

Rendition Policy Works: CIA Dissenter

Michael Scheuer, the former CIA agent who wrote the book Imperial Hubris which attacked the Bush war strategy last year, writes in today's New York Times that not only has rendition been a US policy for two administrations, but it keeps America secure. He should know; he reveals that he ran the program for over three years: AS Congress and the news media wail about the Central Intelligence Agency's "rendition" program - its practice of turning suspected terrorists over for detainment and questioning in third countries - it is time to focus on the real issue at hand. A good starting place is Page 127 of the tablets on which are inscribed the scripture handed down by the 9/11 commission. Here we find a description of a 1998 conversation between National Security Director Samuel Berger and his counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke, about the capture of Abu Hajer al Iraqi, the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Another Example Of The Clueless MSM Filter (Updated)

Please read the update at the bottom... Michelle Malkin points out an interview of Washington Post Managing Editor Phillip Bennett in the People's Daily, the official news outlet of the Communist government in mainland China. Like Michelle, I wonder how much of this interview got properly transcribed and translated into English, and how much the censors cut out. If it is accurate, then Bennett provides another example of the clueless media filters that effectively regulated news content until the advent of the blogosphere. For instance, Bennett gets asked about democracy and manages to come out sounding like John Kerry: Democracy means many things. How do you define democracy? As a Chinese journalist, you may have your own definition of democracy which corresponds to your history and your way of seeing the world. I may have another definition. Someone else may have their own definitions. Democracy means a lot of different...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

DNA Confirms Suicide As Lefkow Killer

The bigot didn't do it after all: A DNA match from a cigarette butt convinced police that a Chicago electrician was the killer of a federal judge's husband and mother, authorities said. The cigarette butt found in Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's house was matched to the electrician, Bart Ross, who killed himself during a traffic stop in Wisconsin this week, and the evidence points to him as the lone killer, police spokesman David Bayless said. Ross, whose rambling lawsuit over his cancer treatment was dismissed by Lefkow, had claimed responsibility for the killings in a suicide note found in his minivan. "The DNA match, with all the other evidence, certainly convinces us that Ross is the offender in the Lefkow family homicide," Bayless said Thursday night. Like many others, I thought Matthew Hale or his supporters to be the likeliest suspects in this heinous and brutal murder. They fit all...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Italian Story Continues To Fall Apart

The AP reports that the Italian story of Giuliana Sgrena's release and later wounding at an American checkpoint, which also resulted in the death of intelligence agent Nicola Calipari, continues to fall apart. Two Italian newspapers now say that the general in charge of the Sgrena operation did not inform the US that Calipari's mission was to free Sgrena, and one of them reports that General Mario Maroli didn't even know it himself: U.S. forces in Iraq were only partially informed about last week's Italian intelligence mission to release a hostage, which ended with a shooting on the road to Baghdad airport and the death of secret service agent Nicola Calipari, Italian newspapers said Friday. ... Both newspapers cited a report by Gen. Mario Marioli, an Italian who is the coalition forces' second-in-command. The report has been given to Rome prosecutors investigating the killing. According to the newspapers, Marioli informed...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Blog Notes

I noticed earlier today that Captain's Quarters achieved a significant milestone this week. Technorati now ranks CQ in its Top 100 blogs, a group that is extraordinarily difficult to crack. The rank changes during the day, but at this moment, we're at #89. Thanks to everyone who continues to link to CQ and participate in our community. To celebrate, I've added a new search feature from Technorati on the left sidebar. It allows anyone to search CQ or the Web through Technorati's system using CQ as a launch point. It's a beta feature, which means you may experience some bugs, but give it a try and have some fun with it. (My regular search for my archives will remain on the right sidebar.) One last note: Young America's Foundation/National Journalism Center has named CQ its Blog of the Day. Please drop by their site for a visit to thank them...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Sgrena Sets Tinfoil-Hat Brigade Loose

The allegations of deliberate assassination by Giuliana Sgrena against the US military have provoked the lunatics of the International Tinfoil Hat Brigade, which unfortunately has to come up with increasingly ridiculous explanations of how American soldiers filled a car with bullets but left only two or three holes in the car, killed one person but left two people alive, including the one who was the supposed target of the attempted assassination, and covered it up while letting the eyewitnesses go. The latest to attempt this is Uruknet, a bizarre website that appears to dedicate itself to substantiating every loopy hypothesis about the US presence in Iraq. Normally, I just ignore these people, but the explanation at Uruknet simply provides too many laughs to pass up. Here's what Uruknet wants you to believe: By combining photo evidence and eyewitness accounts of the Baghdad airport shooting in which Giuliana Sgrena was wounded...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Media Notes Covers FEC Showdown With Bloggers

I have given Howard Kurtz some harsh criticism over his lack of coverage in the Eason Jordan controversy, but today he does an excellent job of covering the wide-ranging debate over the FEC and its new charge to strip the Internet of its exemption from the BCRA. Kurtz notes that with the media exempted from the BCRA, the strategy at the moment is to get the FEC to explicitly define bloggers as journalists to work under the same exemption -- a notion for which he sympathizes: I'm not one of these people who thinks you need a graduate degree, an ID card or an official stamp of approval to call yourself a journalist. Anyone with an idea and a computer can now play the role of reporter, commentator or social critic. People can tell the difference between a New York Times correspondent and BozoBlogger.com, and both have something to contribute....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Danny Rather Boy

I have mostly avoided the Dan Rather retirement, as I wanted to give him as much recognition as I think he deserves -- ie, none. However, my good friend and CQ reader Kia has written a valediction to Rather intended to be sung to the tune of Danny Boy, one of my favorites. Since Kia beautifully sings Irish tunes by trade, perhaps I could get an MP3 of her personal rendition later, but for now I'll just post the lyrics for your enjoyment: Danny Rather Boy Oh Danny boy, the blogosphere is calling, From comp to comp across the countryside. They call to say, Old Media is falling, Tis you, tis you must go and we must bide, But come ye back when you can check your sources, Or when it is the truth you want to know. You might want to take some journalism courses, Oh Danny boy, oh...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Ryan Sager Follows The Money

Ryan Sager writes a powerful column in today's Tech Central Station that exposes the big money behind campaign-finance reform and the BCRA. Sager spots a report by Political Money Line which traces an astronomical amount of money that got spent by just a handful of sources to push the BCRA, and all of them from the Left: Consider a report just out from the folks over at Political Money Line, "Campaign Finance Reform Lobby: 1994 to 2004." Ignored by the media to date, it details how the supposedly grass-roots campaign-finance reform movement has been funded over the last decade to the tune of $140 million. Of that $140 million, the vast majority ($123 million) came not from retirees scraping together their last nickels for the cause of democracy, nor from schoolchildren collecting deposits on cans plucked from dilapidated playgrounds. No, the money came from just eight ultra-liberal foundations (including the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Italy To Sgrena: You Can Shut Up Any Time Now

After having listened to the reporter from the Communist newspaper Il Manifesto spout contradictory stories and hysterical conspiracy-mongering, even the Italian government has had enough of Giuliana Sgrena. In their first direct criticism of the former hostage, the justice minister publicly scolded Sgrena for her ever-changing accusations: Italy's justice minister urged former hostage Giuliana Sgrena on Friday to stop making "careless" accusations after being shot by US forces in Baghdad, saying she had already caused enough grief. Sgrena has repeatedly suggesting US soldiers shot her on purpose and said on Friday she had little faith in a joint investigation by Italy and the United States into the "friendly fire" incident. "She has created enormous problems for the government and also caused grief that perhaps was better avoided," Justice Minister Roberto Castelli told reporters in Bologna. Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was shot dead by U.S. forces as he shielded the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Saddam's Bribery

The London Telegraph reports that former UN weapons inspector Rolf Ekeus received and turned down a $2 million bribe offer from Saddam Hussein in the mid-1990s. Ekeus told Reuters that the bribe came through Tariq Aziz, who now sits in US and Iraqi custody awaiting trial for selling Iraqis out in a similar manner: Saddam Hussein's regime offered a $2 million (1.4 million) bribe to the United Nations' chief weapons inspector to doctor his reports on the search for weapons of mass destruction. ... Mr Ekeus told Reuters news agency that he had passed the information to the Volcker Commission. "I told the Volcker people that Tariq [Aziz] said a couple of million was there if we report right. My answer was, 'That is not the way we do business in Sweden.' " A clean report from Mr Ekeus's inspectors would have been vital in lifting sanctions against Saddam's regime....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 12, 2005

The Never Ending Story Changes ... Again

Giuliana Sgrena has changed her story yet again, proving if nothing else that the Il Manifesto reporter understands the news cycle. The Independent (UK) reports that Sgrena now says she doesn't think the Americans were trying to kill her: The Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was wounded by American fire last Friday soon after being released by kidnappers in Baghdad, has said that she does not think that the Americans were trying to kill her. "I never said that they wanted to kill me," she said on a television talk show, "but the mechanics of what happened were those of an attack." In an interview with The Independent, her partner, Pier Scolari, said: "None of us is so stupid as to think the Americans did it on purpose. But the dynamic was that of an ambush and we want a convincing explanation of what happened, because the first American explanation...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Egypt Springs Ayman Nour

Egypt has released the democracy activist whose arrest caused Condoleezza Rice to publicly snub Hosni Mubarak and stirred up pro-democracy demonstrations on the streets of Cairo. Ayman Nour walked out of prison today on bail: Egyptian opposition leader Ayman Nur, seen by some as a symbol of the movement for democratic reform, was freed on bail after six weeks in detention, Attorney General Maher Abdel Wahed told reporters. Nur, who heads the Ghad (Tomorrow) party, was detained on January 29 on charges of "falsifying official documents". He was freed after paying 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,400 dollars) along with five supporters who had been detained for the same reasons. "The release was ordered because there is no longer any reason for his preventive detention," Abdel Wahed said. "The preventive detention had been ordered in order to allow for an investigation to be carried out in the utmost secrecy and ensure that...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN: Syrian Agreement, Timetable On Complete Pullout

The UN envoy sent to Damascus to enforce the UNSC resolution calling for a complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon told reporters that he has an agreement to take back to Turtle Bay, implying that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has agreed to a timetable for complete withdrawal: President Bashar Assad reiterated his commitment to withdrawing all Syrian troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, a U.N. envoy said Saturday, indicating that he had received a timetable for the pullout. Meanwhile, a convoy of Syrian troops returning home received a rousing welcome. ... "I will present U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annanwith further details of the timetable for a complete Syrian pullout from Lebanon upon arrival in New York early next week," Roed-Larsen said in a statement read to The Associated Press by Roed-Larsen's spokesman Najib Friji. Roed-Larsen also told reporters that the agreement complies with Resolution 1559 and that Assad has agreed to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Rice Tempers Presidential Fever For GOP

Condoleezza Rice gave an extended interview to the Washington Times editorial board yesterday, and Bill Sammon reports that while Rice didn't specifically rule out a presidential run in 2008, she certainly didn't endorse the notion either. However, the Republican base may have second thoughts about Rice at the top of a ticket after hearing her center-right views on abortion that can best be described as somewhere between Rudy Giuliani and the Vatican: "I have enormous respect for people who do run for office. It's really hard for me to imagine myself in that role." She was then pressed on whether she would rule out a White House bid by reprising Gen. William T. Sherman's 1884 declaration: "If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve." "Well, that's not fair," she protested with a chuckle. "The last thing I can I really can't imagine it." I don't...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Media Notes And NARN Update

Tomorrow we celebrate the first anniversary of the Northern Alliance Radio Network with a special broadcast that looks back on the first year of regularly scheduled blogger radio. We expect many guests to join us to help us celebrate, including the man who got us the gig in the first place, Hugh Hewitt. Expect the unexpected, as the Fraters Libertas gang have made most of the arrangements! If you're not in the Twin Cities, you can pick up our new Internet stream from AM 1280 The Patriot. Later in the evening, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Thomas Lipscomb -- the man who broke the story about the VVAW's assassination plans against eight US Senators and John Kerry's involvement in the meetings -- will appear on PBS tomorrow night at 7:30 PM in the New York area on WNYE-TV. If you aren't in that area, Digital Age will carry the live Internet stream....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Digital Age Debate Hits And Misses

Thomas Lipscomb and Alex Jones debated the blogosphere and the mass media on James Goodale's PBS show on Digital Age in a taped show streamed over the Internet. Lipscomb, a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times (and, for full disclosure, he reads CQ and appeared twice on the Northern Alliance radio show) has long been a friend of the blogosphere, while Jones, who heads the Shorenstein Center for the Press at Harvard, has been more of a gentleman-skeptic. Goodale worked in executive management at the New York Times prior to his Digital Age show. I looked forward to a lively but professional and collegial debate, and they did not disappoint. I felt that both men understand the blogosphere, which made me wonder when Jones claimed that he didn't read blogs as a rule. Jones did make the best point when he said that the blogosphere harnesses the disparate knowledge of millions...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Italy Retreats Further On Sgrena

The Times of London reports in tomorrow's edition that the Italians have agreed to stop paying ransoms to kidnapers in Iraq, a policy change that brings Rome into line with other Western nations. In further developments, an Italian parliamentarian indicated that despite earlier assertions that the Americans had been alerted to Sgrena's release and Calipari's itinerary, the Italians never got clearance for their vehicle: THE Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has promised President George W Bush that he will not pay more ransoms to free hostages in Iraq. The Italian government has denied newspaper reports that $6m (3.1m) was paid for the release of Giuliana Sgrena, who worked for the Communist daily Il Manifesto. But senior officials and intelligence sources have confirmed that money did change hands. ... Last year Italy paid a reported $5m (2.6m) for the freedom of two aid workers, Simona Pari and Simona Torretta. Hours after...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 13, 2005

Testing Free Speech, PC, And History In Germany

The Times of London publishes a report today on nascent Naziism in Germany that will surely provoke knee-jerk responses across the political spectrum. Roger Boyes interviewed Udo Voigt, the leader of the extremist NPD party in Germany who believes Hitler was great and wants to rise to power in order to cleanse his country of non-German elements -- all of which should make any student of history very nervous: ADOLF HITLER was a great German statesman, the bte noire of the German Establishment said as he sat in a room darkened by bombproof shutters. If you can call Churchill a great Briton, if you can make a hero out of Alexander the Great, then you have to give that status to Hitler, too, Udo Voigt, the leader of the far-right National Party of Germany (NPD), said. My lawyer has told me to say no more than that. This rising right-wing...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Race-Baiting At The City Pages Reveals Babelogue's Character

The Twin Cities freebie tabloid City Pages and its blog Babelogue has long harbored the worst of Twin Cities reporting, even surpassing the bloviation and pomposity of Nick Coleman -- which represents a fairly high threshold. Their primary means of financial support appears to come from selling scads of classified advertising to local sex workers, which as a more libertarian sort doesn't bother me but does point out the fringe appeal of the publication. The tone always tends towards the hysterical and overwrought, which is why I almost always avoid it, even at the price offered. Unfortunately, someone pointed out a Babelogue post which goes too far even for the ethics-challenged staff of the City Pages. Molly Priesmeyer attended the Center for the American Experiment's sendoff of Dan Rather Wednesday night, hosted by Power Line's John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, and attended by Mitch Berg and the Fraters Libertas fellows....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN Sexual Abuses Pandemic

The Washington Post reports that United Nations peacekeepers now face numerous and substantial allegations of sexual abuse in several of their peacekeeping efforts, belying the notion that the Congo provided just a fluke or an exception to the lax oversight and inherent lack of central discipline for UN troops. These allegations include forced prostitution, sexual extortion for food and water, and exploiting pre-teen girls for sex. Turtle Bay now wants internal reviews of all seventeen peacekeeping missions around the world to determine how bad it gets: The United Nations is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct by U.N. personnel in Burundi, Haiti, Liberia and elsewhere, which is complicating the organization's efforts to contain a sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished its Nobel Prize-winning peacekeepers in Congo. The allegations indicate that a series of measures the United Nations has taken in recent years have failed to eliminate a culture of sexual...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Hubris

Jack Kelly writes today about the Giuliana Sgrena affair, taking the longer-view perspective of Sgrena's motivations and naivet. He remains mostly neutral, if skeptical, on her assassination claims, but instead demolishes her credibility by pointing out her monumental hubris: Sgrena went to Iraq to report on the heroic resistance to the American imperialists. Dutch journalist Harald Doornbos rode in the airplane to Baghdad with her. "Be careful not to get kidnapped," Doornbos warned Sgrena. "You don't understand the situation," she responded, according to Doornbos' account last week in Nederlands Dagblad. (Excerpts were translated into English and posted on a Dutch writer's Web blog.) "The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers. The enemies of the Americans have nothing to fear." Sgrena left her hotel the morning of Feb. 4 to interview refugees from Fallujah, the resistance stronghold captured by U.S. Marines in November. The interviews didn't go well. "The refugees ... would...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Sgrena Flip-Flops Again

In an otherwise unremarkable interview with John Follain for the Times of London, Giuliana Sgrena has changed her mind again about the American motivation for attacking the vehicle which was to take her to the Baghdad airport: A joint American-Italian investigation is due to report within a month on the shooting, but Sgrena refuses to accept that it might have been simply a blunder. This was an ambush. No sign was given for us to stop. We were going at a normal speed and we were fired at, she insists. American and Italian authorities have branded as absurd the suggestion this was no accident but Sgrena remains undaunted: The Americans dont approve of the Italian policy on hostages, because of ransom payments, and the thing I want to know is whether the Americans tried to put a stop to this policy by preventing one of these operations from being completed,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

A Good Laugh Now And Then

I don't spend a lot of time on entertainment sites when surfing the Internet except for IMDB when researching data on movies. I prefer to spend my time reading and writing about weightier topics, which gives me plenty of entertainment all on its own. However, my son and his friends have a favorite website called Homestar Runner, which really has so much fun packed into one spot that I could spend all day there. The site has a complex series of running cartoon characters, none of which I really understand (I think that one has to have a Star Trek-like devotion to it to really understand it all), but my favorite is StrongBad. If you want a taste of the silly, satirical, and devastating humor, try going to Strongbad's e-mail page. This one in particular skewers radio and is so funny that I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Make...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Join The Online Coalition For Free Speech!

I am proud to be an original signatory to the Online Coalition, a group of bloggers from across the political spectrum which intends on fighting any encroachment on our right to free and unfettered political debate. Today members of our group presented FEC chairman Scott Thomas with our concerns over the direction the FEC will take in regulating Internet speech, as regards the lawsuit brought by Shays-Meehan. Here is our letter: We are concerned about the potential impact that Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotellys decision in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Shays v. FEC, 337 F. Supp. 2d 28 (D.D.C. 2004) and the FECs upcoming rulemaking process may have on political communication on the Internet. One area of great concern is the potential regulation of bloggers and other online journalists who distribute political news and commentary exclusively over the web. While paid political advertising on the Internet...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Blogosphere Created, Women & Minorities Hardest Hit

An old joke about media bias has the New York Times running a headline on the last day of time that reads, "World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit". Somehow that joke immediately came to mind when I read Steven Levy's truly clueless piece for tomorrow's Newsweek that claims the blogosphere is a club for white men only: At a recent Harvard conference on bloggers and the media, the most pungent statement came from cyberspace. Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best ... journalism of the 21st century." The comment was from Keith Jenkins, an African-American blogger who is also an editor at The Washington Post Magazine [a sister publication of NEWSWEEK]. "It has taken 'mainstream media'...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 14, 2005

Irish-American Politicians Drop Sinn Fin, Finally

Americans of Irish descent have always had a soft spot for the old IRA and Ireland's struggle for freedom. Not only do they see the Irish as a parallel to the American revolutionaries, but most of their ancestors fled Ireland as a result of British colonalialism, maladministration, and outright oppression. This has led us to keep blinders on to the nature of the modern conflict in Northern Ireland. American politicians of Irish descent have proven to have a soft spot in their head for supporting the modern IRA's political wing, Sinn Fin, despite the IRA being little more than an American-style street gang -- opposing Loyalist groups of exactly the same timbre -- more reminiscent of a Baader-Meinhof without the discipline. Those days have come to an end, at least for now. CNN reports that Gerry Adams has finally been shunned by the American government, even those politicians he once...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Free Speech Threatened: Augusta Free Press

Living up to its name, the Augusta Free Press runs a guest column this morning by Bruce Kesler that details the the threat to free speech that the pending FEC regulation of the Internet portends. He notes the same problem that I have: Under McCain-Feingold, complaints are brought by the public, to which the accused must respond. The complaints of partisans against potent bloggers, almost all being one or a few individuals, can only burden them to end blogging or to restrain their ability to freely blog. It is difficult, at best, to define and to delineate "paid." Is it being paid to accept political ads or to also work for the wide range of organizations considered political entities under McCain-Feingold and similar laws? Are the mainstream media's reporters and commentators to also be so measured, piercing the current media exemption? Of course not; the media exemption got written into...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Scalia The Prophet

Scott Johnson of Power Line writes a powerful argument about the true intent of the BCRA and its carefully selected targets in today's Daily Standard. Titled "Dream Palace of the Goo Goos," Johnson's article points out the hypocrisy of sanitizing political speech in an era where the courts have permitted all kinds of activity to act as speech, therefore granting them the protection of the First Amendment umbrella: Even if the McCain-Feingold law and the "press exemption" are unclear on the extent of their application, wouldn't the First Amendment protect freedom of speech on the Internet? The Supreme Court's modern First Amendment jurisprudence has afforded Constitutional protection to such vital speech as nude dancing, flag burning, simulated online child pornography, and sexually explicit cable programming. Surely the First Amendment protects the rights of bloggers to express themselves on the Internet as they see fit in connection with elections to federal...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

AOL Wants Your Business (Literally)

I have never been a big fan of America On Line, but part of that comes from the ability to understand and navigate the Internet without having the clunky AOL interface to deliver content for me. From time to time, I use their Instant Messenger product to communicate in real time with friends and family, and I like it better than most of the alternatives. Now, however, that may have to change. AOL has started heavily promoting AIM as a business tool for improving office communications as well as a replacement for professional e-mail communications. Users can upgrade to a client that supports voice conferencing and web meetings. Kevin McCullough points out a new clause in AIM's user agreement that will make its users think twice before implementing AIM for either purpose: "You waive any right to privacy. You waive the right to inspect or approve uses of content or...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Lebanon Answers Hezbollah In One Voice: Freedom!

In response to the massive, organized rally by Hezbollah last week that had significant Syrian support, the Lebanese have flocked to Martyrs Square again today in the hundreds of thousands, according to Reuters, demanding an end to Syrian occupation. Unlike the Hezbollah protests for continued foreign domination, today's demonstration crosses sectarian lines: Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Beirut on Monday in the largest anti-Syrian protest in Lebanon since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri exactly a month ago. ... Unlike previous anti-Syrian opposition protests since a bomb blast killed Hariri on Feb. 14, many Sunni Muslims joined Druze and Christians in taking to the streets. Hariri was a Sunni. The opposition rally came a day after huge crowds turned out in the south for a anti-U.S. demonstration organized by Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group, an ally of Syria. Westerners worried that the massive show...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Mythology Of Cuban Medical Care

For those who support or sympathize with Fidel Castro and his dictatorship of Cuba, no argument comes up more frequently than the supposedly marvelous health-care system that Castro has created for the Cubans. They routinely credit him with managing to deliver world-class facilities and treatment, equally for all Cubans, far surpassing even the United States in egalitarianism and effectiveness. For some people, that level of medical care outweighs Castro's oppression, which would be ludicrous even if they were right about the medical system they espouse. Unfortunately, that system is a myth, as Val Prieto points out in Babalublog. Val points out a March 6th article in Gentunio, translated partially here, which has a number of pictures of Clnico Quirrgico in Havana. Here's what Fidel Castro said about Clnico Quirrgico in 1989: "Now, the old hospital has turned into one of the most modern and best ones in the capital. I...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Lipscomb: No Trust For MSM Until They Police Themselves

Thomas Lipscomb delivers a scolding to the mainstream media (or, as I've begun to think of them in the BCRA era, the Exempt Media) for its inability to hold each other accountable for the egregious failures, let alone the more minor errors. Editor and Publisher runs his latest column, which sounds the same themes as his debate this weekend with Alex Jones on James Goodale's PBS show, and it certainly belongs there where his colleagues will read it. Lipscomb gives competent, if necessarily brief, reviews of the Memogate debacle at CBS and CNN's reaction to Eason Jordan's remarks. In the case of both, Lipscomb eschews the controversies themselves and focuses on the reaction from both news organizations. In both cases, he finds them less interested in the truth than in engaging in cover-ups: When CBS took a corporate look at the disaster, it hired a law firm. Why? Not to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Federal Shield Law For Exempt Media?

The AP reports that bills granting reporters a shield from revealing their sources has gained Congressional support and may soon come up for debate. The prosecution of several journalists with national media outlets have given the issue some momentum and a sense of urgency, although it appears that debate will be all that's scheduled for this year: Legislation to require prosecutors and judges to meet strict national standards and exhaust other remedies before they could subpoena reporters has both Republicans and Democrats as sponsors in the House and Senate. Support is building now that several reporters are closer to facing jail, but the Bush administration is silent on the issue and Congress isn't likely to vote on it this year. ... So far, a dozen House members have signed on to Pence's "free flow of information act," which in general would prohibit federal entities from forcing reporters to disclose the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 15, 2005

Iran: Thanks, But We're Still Going Nuclear

The change in direction for US policy towards Iran announced last week in support of European strategy seems to have made little difference in the Iranian position. Iran's foreign minister told reporters this morning that while American offers of incentives could improve relations between Teheran and Washington, the Iranians would not be deterred from exercising their "right" to the nuclear cycle: Iran on Tuesday said economic incentives may help improve foreign relations but won't permanently stop Tehran from pursuing a nuclear program it says is for generating electricity but Washington believes is for weapons. The United States agreed last week to drop opposition to Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization and to allow some sales of spare parts for civilian aircraft as part of a European plan that offers economic incentives for Iran to permanently freeze its nuclear activities. ... "Economic incentives can't replace our rights. Our legitimate rights...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Pro-Syrian Demonstrators Short On Math

Apparently, Syrian education does not include mathematics. Around 2,000 pro-Syrian demonstrators converged on the American embassy in Beirut to protest American support for democracy activists in Beirut, demanding the expulsion of the ambassador to make Lebanon "free": At least 2,000 pro-Syria demonstrators denouncing what they said was U.S. interference in Lebanon marched toward the U.S. Embassy in a Beirut suburb Tuesday, and scores of riot police and soldiers used barbed wire to block the approaches to the compound. The protesters, waving Lebanese flags and chanting, "Ambassador get out! Leave my country free!" stopped at the barbed wire blocking the road about 500 yards from the fortified hilltop compound. The crowd did not attempt to break through. We're Americans, however, so we can actually use math to solve problems. Let's see ... we have one American ambassador in Beirut, who probably has a staff of around 200 or so people, including...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Sinn Fin: Well, They're Our Thugs, Though

Gerry Adams finds himself in the unusual position of facing hostility from Irish-American groups and politicians that have normally supported Sinn Fin, especially after the Good Friday accord that brought Northern Ireland to an unsteady cease-fire. Two major crimes committed by their IRA partners, a murder and a spectacular armed robbery, have stripped the blinders off of naive Irish descendants here about the general nature of today's IRA and the role of Adams as a Mafia-style mouthpiece. Adams attempted to get ahead of American public opinion and salvage some of his fundraising efforts (the kind that doesn't involve robbing armored cars) by branding the IRA murderers of Robert McCartney "thugs": Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has condemned the killing of a Northern Ireland man and blasted the "rogue" members of the Irish Republican Army blamed for the man's death. The January slaying of Robert McCartney in a fight outside a...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Al-Reuters Strikes Again

Sometimes reading Reuters amounts to an extensive lesson in accidental satire. Take as an example their coverage of the Syrian mukhabarat's retreat from Beirut. Here's how Reuters describes the pullout (emphases mine): Syrian intelligence agents began evacuating their headquarters in Beirut Tuesday, partially meeting a key U.S. and Lebanese opposition demand for an end to three decades of Syria's tutelage over its neighbor. Syria's tutelage? Reuters wants us to believe that the Syrians have spent the better part of three decades having its army and spies controlling every aspect of Lebanon's administration in order to act as a mentor. What exactly was Lebanon to learn? I can imagine this only as a bad episode of Kung Fu, as if there were any other kind: Kwai-Chiang Lebanon: When will I be ready to go out into the world on my own, Master? Master Po-Assad: When you can snatch your stones from...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Other Italian Ransom Payment

Italy retreats: Italy will start to withdraw its troops from Iraq this September, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday. "We will begin to reduce our contingent even before the end of the year, starting in September, in agreement with our allies," he said in an interview on state television RAI. One wonders if this wasn't a negotiated commitment between Italy and Giuliana Sgrena's kidnappers. It certainly looks that way, or else it appears to be a reaction to American demands to stop paying ransoms to terrorists. Italy had been a reliable ally in liberating Iraq and bringing democracy to the Iraqis, but if all they can do is pay off the people killing American soldiers and Iraqis by the score, then we're probably better off seeing them depart....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

It's Time For Action, Senator McConnell

Hugh Hewitt links to a Boston Globe article on the debate over filibustering judicial nominations which reports that Senator Mitch McConnell may not have much enthusiasm for a rule change which would eliminate them. Called interchangeably the "nuclear" or "Constitutional" option, the rule change could pass on a straight majority vote and end the recent practice of Democrats to block floor votes on judicial nominations. I understand that the majority whip may not want to create more trouble than already exists in the Senate, but the antics of the Democrats in this session already demonstrate their intransigence. First Senator Harry Reid allowed Barbara Boxer to hijack the Electoral College vote to grandstand about non-existent voter fraud in Ohio, which the Democrats lost by over a hundred thousand votes in 2004 while winning Wisconsin with less than a tenth of that and real voter fraud in their powerbase of Milwaukee. Then...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Syrian Intelligence Starts Packing

The latest demonstrations of people power in Beirut may have convinced the Syrians to keep packing. Military intelligence units around the city began dismantling outposts and packing to leave under the careful watch of Lebanese security officers, the AP reports this morning: A day after the country's biggest opposition demonstration, Syrian military intelligence on Tuesday was vacating an office in Beirut, moving furniture into trucks protected by Lebanese police. Police blocked the road in the Hamra district of Beirut in the morning as three trucks started loading the furniture from the office. Two agents sat at the entrance of the building amid the chairs and tables. A policeman at the scene said some Syrian agents had already left and others were on their way out. However, Syrian agents remained at their main office for the Lebanese capital, located at Ramlet el-Baida on the edge of the city. Despite Syria's troop...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Texas A Signatory To Groningen Protocol?

CNN reports that a Texas court allowed doctors to override a mother's wishes and euthanize a severely afflicted five-month-old baby from a withdrawal of medical care: A critically ill 5-month-old was taken off life support and died Tuesday, a day after a judge cleared the way for doctors to halt care they believed to be futile. The infant's mother had fought to keep him alive. Sun Hudson had been diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder called thanatophoric dysplasia, a condition characterized by a tiny chest and lungs too small to support life. He had been on a ventilator since birth. Thanatophoric dysplasia is an unpleasant and rare form of dwarfism that occurs once in about 35,000 births in the US. CNN does not properly describe the prognosis of the disease, however. It is not always fatal, although nearly so in the neonatal stage. Usually, thanataphoric dwarves (the name is Greek...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Military Perspective On Iraq

A CQ reader who wishes to remain anonymous forwarded me an e-mail from military sources regarding an unclassified presentation given by Major General Pete Chiarelli, the commander of the 1st Cavalry Division. The New York Times featured Gen. Chiarelli in a Roger Cohen column that managed to capture the general's feeling of optimism only in vague terms. The presentation described by the e-mailer sounds much more hopeful than Cohen's otherwise serviceable column did. I'll excerpt the highlights and put the entire message (minus the identifying headers) in the extended entry. 3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week. 4. His big point was not that they were "winning battles" to do this but that cleaning the place up, electricity,...

Continue reading "The Military Perspective On Iraq" »

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Harry's Hysterics

Senator Harry Reid released a statement on the Capitol steps this afternoon that completely destroys any pretense that the Senate Minority Leader ever intended to work towards any reasonable accommodation with the GOP majority. Not only did Reid overreact to the ongoing debate over the proposed rule change for judicial nominations by threatening to shut the entire Senate down while the nation is at war and threatened by attack, but the statement itself is so inaccurate and historically bankrupt that it removes whatever confidence remained in his ability to lead in a rational manner. Reid starts off by completely misinterpreting the intent of the Constitution's framers: Our Constitution provides for checks and balances so that no one person in power, so that no one political party can hold total control over the course of our nation. Absolutely untrue, at least in terms of political parties. First, the founders didn't give...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 16, 2005

We're Rubber And You're Glue

The North Korean government issued one of its silly contradictions today, backing away from multilateral talks after agreeing to them earlier because Condoleezza Rice won't take back her description of the Kim regime as an "outpost of tyranny": "It is quite illogical for the U.S. to intend to negotiate with the DPRK without retracting its remarks listing its dialogue partner as an outpost of tyranny," the spokesman said in comments published by the North's official KCNA news agency. ... "This is, in the final analysis, little short of indicating it will not to hold the six-party talks. She can make nothing but such outcries as she is no more than an official of the most tyrannical dictatorial state in the world," he added. Yes, when we have multiparty elections, the Dictatorial Party always ensures the same outcome. This schizophrenic break from reality typifies the response one gets from tyrannies once...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Perhaps He's Just Doing Something Wrong

The Guardian reports that a Dutch researcher has theorized a link between yawning and sex. Wolter Seuntjens released his thesis on The Hidden Sexuality of the Human Yawn, which promises to be an encyclopedic look at yawning in science, art, and history: "The yawn has not received its due attention," argues Seuntjens, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who set out to provide an encyclopaedic overview of all available knowledge about yawning, drawing on linguistics (semantics, etymology), sociology, psychology, the medical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology), and the arts (literature, film, visual arts). He then explores whether yawning has an erotic side. Not all readers will agree he has really proved his point about the erotic yawn , despite citing a passage from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as an example, but it is a good try. ... But the yawn and the associated stretch of the 'stretch-yawn syndrome' have...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Democrats And Kristof Still Don't Get It

The latest fad sweeping the Left, the magic bean that supposedly will grow the Great Electoral Beanstalk, is "re-branding". Fittingly, John Kerry started this notion in post-election strategy sessions, where he correctly noted that the Democrats appeared to have lost the mainstream of American thought. However, instead of finding candidates who consistently represent that mainstream, re-branding just means having the same people who pushed the party out of the mainstream suddenly shift their positions back. In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof heartily endorses this strategy and nominates Hillary Clinton as the movement's avatar: If the Democratic Party wants to figure out how to win national elections again, it has an unexpected guide: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton, much more than most in her party, understands how the national Democratic Party needs to rebrand itself. She gets it - perhaps that's what 17 years in socially conservative Arkansas does to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Moonbat Lemmings, Leftward March

Michelle Malkin has an excellent column today on plans by anti-war protestors to mark the second anniversary of the liberation of Iraq by staging protests all over the country this weekend. As Michelle notes, reality has no application for people who can't see a purple-stained finger for the victory it represents for freedom -- the same freedom that allows them to march in irresponsible protests such as these: With freedom on the move across the Middle East and beyond, aggrieved anti-war protesters here in the United States have nothing better to do this weekend than what they have always done: stand in the way. The most unhinged of left-wing activists, from breast-exposing pacifists to the conspiracy-mongers of MoveOn.org, will descend on New York, Washington and other major media markets to "mark the two-year anniversary of the U.S. bombing and invasion of Iraq." They will do so by clogging the streets,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Whiskey Returns

Greetings! It is I, Ed's long lost partner, finally back at home at CQ. For those who might actually remember me, here's a brief update on where I've been and what I've been doing: - I'm engaged! I met a wonderful man while working abroad and we are getting married in November. (Yes mom, he's an American.) - I'm moving. Again. Because Mr. Perfect lives in Oklahoma and is professionally obligated to stay there for the time being, I'm leaving my job here in Texas and will be joining him in the fall. This brings me to the reason for my recent leave of absence: - Bar exam hell. Since I'm just a baby lawyer and don't qualify for reciprocity, I had to take the Oklahoma Bar Exam. All my fellow attorneys how miserable this was, and no, it is not better the second time around. I never realized how...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Democrats Get More Hysterical On Judiciary

Just when we thought Harry Reid's incoherent analysis of the Constitution had lowered the bar as far as possible on judicial nominations and filibusters, along comes Old Reliable -- Senator Robert Byrd. Byrd, who himself authored four changes to the filibuster rule as Senate Majority Leader to favor the majority, told The Hill that the proposed rule change equated to an assassination. I'm not kidding: Today at noon, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) will address MoveOn PAC members about the nuclear option. Byrd (D-W.Va.), the chambers longest-serving member, used the Ides of March anniversary to invoke Julius Caesars murder and told The Hill that freedom of speech in the Senate is about to be assassinated. Lets dont let it happen, he added. Fight. Byrd hasn't posted this speech to his website as yet, and if he's equating Bill Frist with Brutus,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

AP To Offer Even More Biased And Bad Writing To Subscribers

Editor & Publisher reports on a new program from the Associated Press which gives its clients an option on fast-breaking news stories: an article with a traditional lead, or one with a more creative introduction to draw the reader to the story: In a break with tradition at the 156-year-old news cooperative, the AP will now offer two different leads for many of its news stories, the organization confirmed Wednesday. "The concept is simple: On major spot stories -- especially when events happen early in the day -- we will provide you with two versions to choose between," the AP said in an advisory to members. "One will be the traditional 'straight lead' that leads with the main facts of what took place. The other will be the 'optional,' an alternative approach that attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means." Thomas Lipscomb...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Lebanon Rejoices In Freedom, Hezbollah Cowers

Two wire stories reflect the different directions that freedom and tyranny have taken in the Middle East since the free elections in Afghanistan and Iraq. After Syrian intelligence personnel abandoned their stations in all but the easternmost part of Lebanon today, the Lebanese can now give voice to the frustrations and degradations of living under the Syrian thumb for decades: Syrian intelligence agents ended their 18-year presence in Beirut on Wednesday, and emboldened residents of the capital came forward to celebrate. Some kissed the ground and others wept, wandering the basement cellblock at the headquarters and describing torture there. ... Others were forthright. "It's a feast and great joy for me today because they're gone. I consider that Lebanon was born today with its liberation from Syrian forces," said Imad Seifeddine, a 47-year-old blacksmith. Seifeddine said he was imprisoned by the Syrians for four years in the 1990s. "They tortured...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

South Park Takes On UCB Hippies

I'm watching South Park on the Comedy Channel right now, and Cartman is fighting an infestation of hippies in the town. They've convinced Stan, Kyle, and Kenny to hate corporate America and the "little Eichmanns" of capitalism. Guess where they go to college? This is a laugh riot ... UPDATE: Well, you should catch the rerun later tonight. They don't take on Ward Churchill, but it's still pretty damned funny....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Did Terri Ever Receive A Fair Examination?

Hugh Hewitt links to a shocking article on the Terri Schiavo case in National Review today that calls into question the entire premise of her husband's case to remove her feeding tube. According to a number of board-certified neurologists, Terri never got the requisite testing to certify her as suffering from persistent vegetative state (PVS), and the doctor who has testified to her diagnosis has a long track record of right-to-die activism. Father Robert Johansen, a Catholic priest working on behalf of the Schindlers, explains: I have spent the past ten days recruiting and interviewing neurologists who are willing to come forward and offer affidavits or declarations concerning new testing and examinations for Terri. In addition to the 15 neurologists affidavits Gibbs had in time to present in court, I have commitments from over 30 others who are willing to testify that Terri should have new and additional testing, and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 17, 2005

Two Clueless Editorials On Wolfowitz, And NYT Tears Down That Wall!

The New York Times and the Washington Post both editorialize on the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. The Times, following its reporting that trumpets the controversial nature of both Wolfowitz' move and the nomination of John Bolton to the UN, declares that the nomination disrespects the bruised feelings of the international community: When asked why he had nominated Paul Wolfowitz, a chief architect of the Iraq invasion, as the next president of the World Bank, President Bush repeatedly pointed out that as deputy defense secretary, Mr. Wolfowitz had managed a large organization. Even he seemed slightly flummoxed about why a job that is all about international cooperation should go to a man whose work has so outraged many of the nations with which he will be expected to work. Even those who supported the goals of the invasion must remember Mr. Wolfowitz's scathing contempt for estimates...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Al-Qaeda Bund Of West Seattle High

Michelle Malkin notices this disturbing story of political indoctrination gone awry at West Seattle High School. Susan Paynter reveals an attempt to hijack a legitimate panel discussion about the Iraq War and the broader war on terror among those, as Paynter notes, who may soon fight it by radical elements more intent on slandering the US military than an actual debate: Three invited pro-military speakers were shocked last Friday when they arrived for a West Seattle High student assembly to confront a theater stage strewn with figures costumed as Iraqi men, women and children splashed with blood. It was a warm-up for the "Iraq Awareness Assembly" so no students except the actual actors saw the skit before the military guests complained to principal Susan Derse and she put a stop to it. And here comes the crucial part: no teachers or advisers were on hand or evidently even aware of...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

More Highlights Of High School Politics

CQ reader Angry TO points out yet another fiasco of outsiders coming into a high school to raise consciousness among the student body. After a speech by New Jersey's Secretary of State on racism, students walked out of classes yesterday at a South Jersey Catholic school to protest the accusatory tone of her appearance: Some white students at a South Jersey Catholic school walked out of classes Tuesday in protest over a speech by the New Jersey Secretary of State Regina Thomas. Tensions have been building up at Paul VI High School since Thomas' speech on racial justice last week. Many students and faculty members walked out of the speech offended. They said that she lambasted one student for not knowing his black history and that she insinuated that the students were racist. "It's, like, really crazy right now. Teachers are just standing by the doors. Kids are trying to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Investing in Realignment

In a recent Opinion Journal column, pollster John Zogby presents intriguing stats on the election pattern of the so-called "investor class." The participants were asked two questions "Do you consider yourself to be a member of the investor class" and "Who did you vote for?" According to Zogby, self-identified investors comprised 46% of the total vote in November 2004, and 61% of those individuals voted for President Bush. The "investors" Zogby refers to does not simply mean day traders on Wall Street, rather the term includes individuals who are simply saving money for retirement or a college education for their offspring. Zogby therefore predicts that regardless of whether the president wins regarding Social Security reform, his vision of an "ownership society" could spark a significant realignment in favor of the GOP. He concludes: To the president and Republicans: You may lose the battle over Social Security personal accounts, but ultimately...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Torturing Terri

National Review has another excellent article about the Terri Schiavo controversy, as Andrew McCarthy weighs in on the court's plan to remove Terri's feeding tube. McCarthy took a lot of flack early in the war on terror for questioning our outright ban on torturing terror suspects. His e-mail overflowed with indignation from people who lectured him on descending to the level of the savages we oppose. If so, McCarthy asks today, how do we explain the treatment Florida has in mind for Terri Schiavo? On Friday afternoon, unless humanity intervenes, the state of Florida is scheduled to begin its court-ordered torture-murder of Terri Schiavo, whose only crime is that she is an inconvenience. ... It will not produce a scintilla of socially useful information. It will not save a single innocent life. It is not narrowly targeted on a morally culpable person the torture-victim is herself as innocent as...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

L Fhile Phdraig Sona Dhaoibh!

The title says, 'Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of you,' and as a celebration of the event today, I'm listening to a new set of CDs sent to me by the Irish band Poitn. The one spinning at the moment, Winter Brew, has a good mix of traditional Irish instrumental music along with pub songs and even a bit of sean-ns, for true traditionalists. Right now, I'm listening to " Sullivan's March", a lively instrumental. After this CD finishes, I'll be listening to Barley Mash, which I think is actually the better of the two CDs. If you love Irish music and haven't heard Poitn, be sure to pick up these two worthy and entertaining albums. I may or may not get much of a chance to celebrate tonight; in the Twin Cities, St. Patrick's Day gets an insane turnout at the local pubs, especially at places like Keegan's,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Is Terri The Next Elian?

As I drove home today, I spent a while thinking about Terri Schiavo, who faces death by starvation and dehydration by court order unless either Congress or the Florida state legislature intervenes in time. A parallel sprang to mind, one that I don't know that I've seen before -- but it seems to me that Terri has become the new Elian Gonzalez. Gonzalez, as most will recall, was a small boy rescued from the seas that claimed his mother as the two of them fled Fidel Castro's oppressive regime. Since his mother died, he had no obvious guardian to make decisions for his welfare, only some extended family living in Florida. The helplessness of the little boy grabbed the nation's imagination, and when the Cuban government demanded the return of Elian to his father in Cuba, Americans divided passionately on the subject. One side could not imagine the government --...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Boxer Tells The Truth (Accidentally)

Duane at Radioblogger has the audio clip and transcript from Barbara Boxer's appearance at the MoveOn rally in support of Senate Democrats and their unprecedented filibusters of judicial nominees. After such luminaries as Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd railed on interminably about the evils of majority rule (in America!) and the need to preserve the Constitution, they committed the fatal blunder of allowing Boxer to speak: Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 18, 2005

Ryan Sager Updates The Money Trail

I received several e-mails yesterday regarding this excellent Ryan Sager follow-up on the shenanigans behind the BCRA and the general push for campaign finance reform, but I ran out of time to post about it. Sager has video and transcripts of a talk given by Sean Traglia, formerly of the Pew Charitable Trusts, admitting to staging a fraud on Congress to convince them that a popular groundswell of demand for the BCRA existed: Charged with promoting campaign-finance reform when he joined Pew in the mid-1990s, Treglia came up with a three-pronged strategy: 1) pursue an expansive agenda through incremental reforms, 2) pay for a handful of "experts" all over the country with foundation money and 3) create fake business, minority and religious groups to pound the table for reform. "The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says 100 in the Senate, 435 in...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN: We're In The Mood For Stasis

The Washington Times reports today that the United Nations has declared itself "not in the mood" for more change, despite the revelations of multiple sex scandals in some or all of their peacekeeping efforts and the Oil-for-Food corruption that put billions in the pocket of a genocidal tyrant: The senior aide to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he does not expect additional firings of key personnel as the organization struggles to defend itself from multiple scandals. "We're not in the mood for more wholesale change," said Mark Malloch Brown, who became Mr. Annan's chief of staff and primary adviser three months ago. "Senior appointments will not stop, but there is no wholesale change," he told The Washington Times in an interview earlier this week. One wonders exactly what it takes to put Kofi Annan in the mood for change. The disappearance of over $10 billion (the Senate estimates $21 billion)...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Look Who Gets Social Security Choice

Ben Smith reports in today's New York Observer that while the Empire State's two Democratic Senators remain staunch foes of President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security, other Democrats in NYC have already transferred all of their funds into private accounts. Not only have they seen their investments grow, but at least one of them plans to demand full Social Security benefits despite not having paid into the system: The New York City program, which replaces Social Security entirely, goes much further than the "personal accounts" that President Bush has been pushing, which would be only a partial substitute for Social Security. New Yorks program has existed for more than a decade without attention or controversy, despite offering a useful counterpoint to the deeply polarized national debate. It is available to about 20,000 city government managers, political appointees and elected officials, although relatively few take advantage of it. Mr....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

NYT Gets Hysterical About "Un-Volunteering"

It's difficult to fathom what constitutes news to the New York Times. For instance, the head of a major American news network makes repeated and unsubstantiated allegations of American servicemen assassinating and torturing journalists, and the Paper of Record doesn't bother to report it until two weeks later, hours before the executive resigns in disgrace. However, when a handful of American servicemen attempt to evade the service for which they volunteered, they splash that all over the paper: One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines - some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon - are seeking ways out. Soldiers, their advocates and lawyers who specialize in military law say they have watched a few service members try ever more unlikely and desperate routes: taking drugs in the hope that they will be kept home after positive urine tests, for example; or seeking...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Bloggers Have Been Heard

I haven't had a lot of praise for Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), but I'm making an exception today. Reid shows the first sign that the Senate may have heard the outcry from the blogosphere about the BCRA, the FEC capitulation on Shays, Meehan v. FEC, and the coming limitations on blogging. Pennywit, Demosthenes, Right-Wing Nuthouse, and Daily Kos point out a bill which Reid introduced to the Senate which exempts Internet communications from FEC regulation altogether: Paragraph 22 of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: "Such term shall not include communications over the Internet." Expect a howl to arise from the people who have paid good money -- lots of it -- to ensure that campaign finance and speech limits get applied to everyone except the Exempt Media. However, with Reid pushing...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Powerful Thing, A Subpoena (Updated!)

According to The Corner, Congressional panels have issued subpoenas to the health-care providers for Terri Schiavo -- and more importantly, one for Terri herself to testify before Congress on her state: Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA), released the following statement regarding the Committee on Government Reform's inquiry into the long-term care of incapacitated or non-ambulatory adults: "The Committee on Government Reform has initiated an inquiry into the long term care of incapacitated adults, an issue of growing importance to the federal government and federal healthcare policy. The committee's inquiry arises out of the case of Terri Schiavo, who is currently being kept alive in a hospice in Florida. Later this morning, we will issue a subpoena, which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN Fired Whistleblower In UNSCAM Scandal

Testifying yesterday in front of a House subcommittee, a former UN monitor for the Oil-For-Food program testified that he saw numerous acts of corruption while working on it, and that as much as 25% of the funds intended on helping Iraqi citizens never reached them as a result. When he tried to call attention to the corruption, the UN rewarded him by firing him from his job: A former United Nations monitor of the organization's oil-for-food program in Iraq told a congressional committee Thursday that the program had "gaping holes" and that large amounts of aid never reached the Iraqi people. Rehan Mullick testified that by his estimate more than 20 percent of the shipments to Iraq, worth $1 billion a year, were not distributed properly, with many goods pilfered by the Iraqi military. "A fourth or fifth of the supplies were not distributed," he said. ... Mullick told the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Florida Judge Issues Stay (Updated)

A Florida circuit court has issued an injunction prohibiting the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, the AP reports: A state judge on Friday temporarily blocked the removal of the feeding tube for severely brain-damaged Terri Schiavo as legal wrangling continued over efforts by congressional Republicans to keep her alive. Pinellas Circuit Court Chief Judge David Demers ordered that the feeding tube remain in place past a 1 p.m. EST deadline while fellow Judge George Greer, who is presiding over the Schiavo case, deals with conflicting legal issues. This sounds pretty temporary; the legal issues, though, certainly involve the federal subpoena, which Greer cannot overrule. It should keep Terri alive until at least the 28th. More as it comes through. UPDATE: Judge Greer has ordered the tube removed anyway, countering the Congressional subpoenas. This may create a jurisdictional issue that will allow the case to be heard in federal court,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Sweetheart Deals For Politically Correct University Presidents In California

While Lawrence Summers gets grilled for daring to ask politically-incorrect questions about the nature of talent and how to compensate for possible gender differences, one of his critics has learned to rake in the dough, reports Brian Maloney of the blog The Radio Equalizer. Denice Denton, the new chancellor at the University of California Santa Cruz, received a lot of press coverage for her outspoken criticism of Summers' remarks in January. Now she appears to be reaping the rewards in her new position with UCSC, as a series of sweetheart deals -- one rather literal -- has contributed to windfall for Denton. First, Denton's hiring as UCSC chancellor created a small controversy when the regents revealed her new compensation package. Not only did they offer Denton $275,000 per year (just from the UC system, not including any private contributions), they gave her a moving allowance of $68,750. Bear in mind...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Barbara Boxer: Ex-Klansman "Love Of My Life"

One would think that after watching Trent Lott self-destruct while toasting former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday, politicians would take care with their public statements supporting fellow party members with shady pasts. Barbara Boxer apparently didn't take any lessons from Lott's fall from grace, as she described former Klan member fellow Democrat Robert Byrd as "the love of my life" at yesterday's MoveOn appearance: Finally, Boxer made a strong effort to address the uncomfortable fact that she once, in 1994, opposed the filibuster, back when Democrats controlled the Senate and were less concerned about minority power. Now, like Byrd whom she called "the love of my life" she has had a change of heart and believes the filibuster is vitally important. "I thought I knew everything," Boxer confessed. "I didn't get it." "I'm here to say I was wrong," she continued. "I'm here to say I...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 19, 2005

Supreme Court Turns Congress, Schiavo Away

The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Congress to restart Terri Schiavo's feeding tube while lower courts rule on the legality of the subpoenas issued for her appearance on March 28th: The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday denied without comment a House committee emergency request to have Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted. The decision came after the committee requested the court's ruling in order to buy time as lower court appeals on subpoenas issued by the committee are considered. The severely brain-damaged Florida woman had depended on the feeding tube for the past 15 years before it was removed Friday afternoon. Without the tube, she will likely starve to death within a week or two. In a statement, Republican congressional leaders vowed to work through the weekend in order to save Schiavo's life. The SCOTUS appeal would have given Terri's supporters the most direct and quick route to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iraq Insurgency Fading, General Reports

The top-ranking Marine in Iraq tells the New York Times that the insurgency has tailed off to its lowest level in months, evidence that the Ba'athist remnants and the foreign jihadists have lost the momentum and any popular support they might have had: The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country. The officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, head of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said that insurgents were averaging about 10 attacks a day, and that fewer than two of those attacks killed or wounded American forces or damaged equipment. That compared with 25 attacks a day, five of them with casualties or damage, in...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

NARN Discussing Schiavo Now

Catch us on our stream now and call in at 651-289-4488... UPDATE: We will be returning to this topic in our third hour, but right now we're talking with Cheri Pierson Yecke, who's running for Congress in 2006. Keep tuned in! UPDATE II: Thanks to everyone who called in. Please use this link to find the phone number for your Senator to urge them to pass the bill under debate at 4:00 PM CT that will allow the Schindlers to access the federal courts on behalf of Terri. UPDATE III: A couple of days ago, in a moment of frustration, I deleted a trackback ping from Cao's Blog. It was wrong, it didn't even fit my own trackback policy, and I apologize to Cao for doing it. (I confused Cao with someone who had written to me accusing me of killing Terri for not posting about the case, and it...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Live Blog: US Senate

5:19 PM CT: Senator Frist gets up to introduce the compromise legislation which will allow a federal district judge to hear Terri's case as a civil-rights case. 5:20 - Asking for the adjournment procedure which will call the House into session. 5:22 - That's interesting. The adjournment just involved Rick Santorum and Bill Frist. It seems like an anticlimax for such a moment ... but if it keeps the ball rolling, great. Trey Jackson has the video of the Tom DeLay news conference announcing the compromise....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN: American Security To Be Priority

The United Nations will recast its priorities to make the security of Western nations a key goal in its mission, according to the London Telegraph: The security of America and other wealthy countries will for the first time be declared a key priority for the United Nations under reforms designed to restore confidence in the crisis-ridden international body. The reforms, to be announced tomorrow by Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, will be seen as a concession to Washington after repeated clashes with President George W Bush over US foreign policy, including the war in Iraq. The UN Secretariat promises a "real re-launch a fundamental manifesto" after criticism of its performance since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq oil-for-food scandal. This move surprises me only because I wouldn't have given Kofi Annan enough credit for coming to this conclusion. Prior to 9/11, the UN managed to only make...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Bush Coming Back To DC For Terri

President Bush has changed his schedule to return from his Crawford, TX ranch to Washington DC in order to sign any legislation produced tomorrow that will restore nutrition and hydration to Terri Schiavo: President Bush is changing his schedule to return to the White House on Sunday to be in place to sign emergency legislation that would shift the case of a brain-damaged Florida woman to federal courts, the White House said Saturday. "Everyone recognizes that time is important here," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said. "This is about defending life." ... During previous travels, Bush has had legislation flown to him overnight by military plane for his signature. But in this case, McClellan said that the fact that a woman's life is at stake made it necessary for him to travel to the bill. Bush had a full schedule set up for this week, traveling on Monday and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 20, 2005

Steele Vs. Mfume In 2006?

With the retirement of Paul Sarbanes from the Senate next year, the Democrats now have to defend a Senate seat that they hoped would be a slam dunk for re-election. Only Kweisi Mfume, a former Congressman and the departing head of the NAACP, has announced his bid for Sarbanes' seat in the Democratic primary. If he wins the nomination, he would be the first African-American candidate for Senate in Maryland's history, an anomalous difference among Southern states thanks to Maryland's refusal to join the Confederacy during the Civil War and the avoidance of Reconstruction. However, Mfume may wind up sharing that long-overdue distinction if Lt. Governor Michael Steele decides to throw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination. The Washington Times reports that Steele has not ruled out running for Sarbanes' seat: Mr. Steele said yesterday that he has not decided whether he will run. "I'll be saying...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Fighting To Rescue All Women From Islamist Oppression

Newsweek profiles a courageous Pakistani woman who Ron Moreau and Zahid Hussain compare to Rosa Parks, one who wants to transform a horrific and brutal gang-rape into a passage for freedom for Muslim women throughout Islam. Three years ago, a village council used Mukhtar Mai in order to punish her clan for the supposed adultery of her teenage brother and sent 14 men to rape her, making Mai so undesirable in the eyes of her society that she had little choice except exile or suicide. Mai had other ideas: The local Mastoi clan, which dominates the village council, expected her to keep her mouth shut or simply disappear. Her own Gujar clan refused to support her. "My choice was either to commit suicide or to fight back," Mai recalled last week. "I decided to fight back." ... Using government compensation and contributions from supporters, Mai built the first school for...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Taliban Claiming Amnesty

As I noted a month ago, the Afghan government and the American military leadership in Afghanistan have begun to pursue an amnesty program to entice lower-level Taliban fighters to give up and join the democractic process. Hamid Karzai has employed well-known Taliban leaders who have pledged loyalty to the new Afghani government to assure these worn-out remnants of Mullah Omar's militia that they will receive fair treatment if they pledge allegiance to the new democracy. As Cori Dauber points out, the New York Times finally reports on this phenomenon, only after waiting weeks between reprinting a Reuters prediction that Omar would mount a major spring offensive in early March: Although many senior officials in the frontline provinces were initially skeptical last year when Mr. Karzai spoke of an amnesty for all except the Taliban senior leadership, many of them now voice support for the policy. In the absence of the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Democrats Block Voice Vote In House

House Democrats blocked attempts to hold an approval by acclamation of the compromise legislation that would allow the Schindlers to take the case of Terri Schiavo into federal court, forcing the bipartisan coalition of Congressment to round up at least 218 members for a session that would begin at one minute after midnight tomorrow morning: House Republicans, seeing Congress as a last hope for brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, failed during an extraordinary Palm Sunday session to pass legislation aimed at prolonging the Florida woman's life. Once Democrats refused to allow the measure to go ahead without objection, Republicans began scrambling to bring lawmakers, who had just started their Easter recess, back to Washington. Majority Republicans called a recess after the four-minute session and said they planned to meet as early as one minute after midnight on Monday if they get at least 218 of the 435-member House to attend. Will...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kerry To Sign The 180?

Mickey Kaus and Instapundit both point to a Philadelphia Inquirer analysis of John Kerry's political activities since his loss in last year's elections, which suggests that the Senator may request the complete release of his military records at last: For Kerry, indignities abound. He trails Hillary Rodham Clinton in every 2008 survey. The other day, he was assailed by Clinton aide Ann Lewis for running "an inconsistent campaign." Indeed, in focus groups conducted this winter by Democratic strategists, he was still seen as indecisive; one participant said, "He's the guy that holds up the line at McDonald's." And he's been dogged by bloggers who want him to authorize the release of all his military records, to clear up questions raised in 2004. He told NBC on Jan. 30 that he would sign military form SF-180 to do so, but he hasn't yet. Most of the heat has come from conservatives,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Debate In House Coming To End, Vote Pending

The debate in Congress over the bill to extend federal jurisdiction to the parents of Terri Schiavo in their efforts to save her life. I've bounced in and out of the debate, mostly amused to hear some of the arguments opposing the bill. For instance, I've heard at least one representative try to inject race into the argument, claiming that Terri only gets this attention because she's white. Another got up and claimed that the bill offered Terri "all of the Medicare" she wanted while Congress spent their time denying it to others. Yet another objected, in the one minute accorded her, being yanked out of her place of worship to suffer the indignity of being forced back to Washington. Most, however, debated sensibly about the effect of the particulars of the bill and the case at hand. As I write this, at 11:15 PM CT, the Democratic whip makes...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 21, 2005

NYT Misrepresents Schiavo Case In News Article

Carl Hulse and David Kirkpatrick report on the Congressional action taken yesterday to allow Terri Schiavo's parents access to the federal courts for a new trial. Unfortunately but predictably, this "news" report contains half-truths, loaded language, and a flat-out falsehood, all of which reveal the biases of the reporters. Consider the lack of context for this passage: With just a few senators on hand for an emergency session on a rainy Sunday, the Senate quickly approved the legislation. Its authors hope the measure leads to a federal court order to resume providing nutrition to Ms. Schiavo over the objections of her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo. A series of state court decisions have sided with him. It might be somewhat accurate that a series of state court decisions have sided with Michael Schiavo, but all of those involving finding of fact have been decided by one man, George Greer,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kofi's Dollar Girls

Today's Washington Post reviews the Congolese sex scandal that demonstrates the utter collapse of UN credibility and command/management functions at Turtle Bay. Pre-teens have been trandsformed into cheap hookers by blue-helmeted rapists, who then use them for sex with dollar-per-encounter transactions -- if the girl is lucky: She's known in the community as a "one-dollar U.N. girl." At night, she sleeps on the cracked pavement outside a storefront. In the mornings, she sashays through the dusty streets, clutching a frayed parasol against the blinding sun. Yvette and her friends are also called kidogo usharatis, Swahili for small prostitutes. They loiter outside the camps of U.N. peacekeepers, hoping to sell their bodies for a mug of milk, a cold soda or -- best of all -- a single dollar. "I'm sad about it. But I needed the dollars. I can't go farm because of the militias. Who will feed me?" asked...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

EU Changes The Rules For France And Germany

The European Union pushed through a change in their economic policy that will allow France and Germany to escape punishment for outspending EU limits on debt. Both countries have long defied the EU deficit limits, and instead of enforcing the limits and prompting some reform of the cradle-to-grave social spending that the limits required, the EU simply threw in the towel: European finance ministers agreed late on Sunday to ease the Growth and Stability Pact rules which eurozone members must abide by. The new rules will make it easier for eurozone countries to keep their deficits within 3% of national income. ... Under the deal, Germany can exclude its reunification costs and France will leave out military and aid spending. Reunification costs? German reunified fifteen years ago. I've heard of long-term depreciation, but this sounds ridiculous to me. It's a license to cook the books, as the bond markets have...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

FEC May Still Target Bloggers: WaPo

For those who worry about the possibility of the Federal Election Commission encroaching on the freedom of political bloggers, today's article in the Washington Post will not provide much comfort. Brian Faler notes that the FEC has now been ordered by the courts to regulate political spending on the Internet, and Faler points out the various connections by which independent bloggers might fall afoul of the FEC: "We are almost certainly going to move from an environment in which the Internet was per se not regulated to where it is going to be regulated in some part," said FEC Commissioner David M. Mason, a Republican. "That shift has huge significance because it means that people who are conducting political activity on the Internet are suddenly going to have to worry about or at least be conscious of certain legal distinctions and lines they didn't used to have to worry about."...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

ABC Conducts Push Poll For Euthanasia

ABC News conducted a poll over the weekend about the Terri Schiavo case which purports to show that the American public strongly opposes any intervention in the Schiavo case, and support for Michael Schiavo's right to cut off Terri's food and water. Gary Langer writes the following analysis of the poll: The public, by 63 percent-28 percent, supports the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube, and by a 25-point margin opposes a law mandating federal review of her case. Congress passed such legislation and President Bush signed it early today. That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent oppose it, more -- 70 percent -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

He'd Swear To Uphold The Constitution He's Emasculated?

The Chicago Tribune profiled a Democrat yesterday as a potential candidate for the presidency in 2008, a name that has not yet come up in the national crystal ball, but one whose main political accomplishment should disqualify him for the office. Meet Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin progressive who teamed up with the maverick Arizona Republican John McCain and a hundred million dollars in far-left money to strike a blow against free political speech: Largely overlooked by national political pundits in the aftermath of the November election was the impressive re-election victory by the John McCain of the Democratic Party. As usual, Feingold campaigned as a straight-talking, risk-taking reformer, and his convincing victory should make him highly appealing to Democrats longing for somebody who not only has a winning track record, but who unabashedly stands for progressive Democratic Party values. This is no wimpy liberal who trims his message to fit...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kennedy's Folly Coming Back To Haunt US Speech?

When Justice Anthony Kennedy relied on international legal practices to justify his decision to strike down death penalty sentences for minors, he may have inadvertently opened up a new front in the assault on American political speech. Now with the Supreme Court relying on foreign courts for precedent, the ability of people to rely on the high threshold for establishing libel and slander in American courts may no longer apply, as plaintiffs might simply venue-shop internationally for their complaints instead. Skeptical? You may want to read Thomas Lipscomb's latest article in Editor & Publisher, which describes exactly how such cases have already been filed. This example involves Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose book on terrorist financing, Funding Evil, has provoked legal action from one of the people she names as a terror financier: Sheik Khalid Salim a bin Mahfouz has allegedly endowed and arranged financing for a number of Islamic charity...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

CQ Invited To Brookings Institute Briefing

Captain's Quarters has been invited to participate in the Brookings Institute forum tomorrow morning on "The Impact of the New Media", which will be webcast live from 10:00 am ET while the event simultaneously will display the live commentary from six leading bloggers: At this Brookings briefing, members of the "new" and "old" media will weigh in on the ever-evolving role of the press and the future of journalism. The discussion will focus on new mediums and practices in journalism and what impact these have hadand will continue to haveon the role and credibility of the traditional American media. In keeping with the spirit of this event, the discussion will be webcast and will be "live-blogged" by several prominent bloggers. Panelists will take questions from the audience and via e-mail following their remarks. The panel itself will be moderated by E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post and comprises Ana...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 22, 2005

Whittemore Refuses To Order Tube Restoral

CNN reports that federal Judge James Whittemore has refused to issue a temporary injunction to restore Terri Schiavo's feeding tube: A federal judge in Florida has ruled that he will not order a feeding tube reinserted to Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who is the center of a national legal battle over her life. The case likely will be appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. Presumably, the interpretation here on Whittemore's part is that a de novo look at the evidence has little likelihood of a winning argument for Terri's parents. However, it almost sounds like Whittemore treated this as an appeal rather than the square-one approach called for by the law Congress passed. Whittemore should have treated this case as a fresh filing, and therefore should have restored nutrition and hydration to Terri while both sides presented evidence and testimony, not just 30 minutes...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Ayatollah Says, Get To Work

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has expressed his frustration with the political impasse between Shi'ites and Kurds in the new Iraqi assembly, and the influential cleric hopes a few well-chosen words will push both sides towards finally forming a coalition government: The most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq called late Sunday for quick agreement on a new government, expressing displeasure with the weeks of drawn-out haggling, which has begun to stir unrest in the Iraqi public. The cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, appeared to be putting pressure on Kurdish politicians in talks on forming a governing coalition. Even though he has no constituency in the mostly Sunni Kurdish territory, the ayatollah has proved to be the most influential authority in the new Iraq. He brought together the largest and most successful Shiite bloc in the elections, and he has been able to call up huge street protests and get voters to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Egypt Picks Its Opposition Candidate

In a move which almost guarantees that Hosni Mubarak's opposition will rally around Ayman Nour, the Egyption government pressed its forgery accusations against the dissident and likely presidential candidate, despite an earlier international outcry against his arrest: Prosecutors charged Egyptian opposition presidential candidate Ayman Nour on Tuesday with forging signatures to secure approval for his political party, referring to trial a case that has drawn international criticism and created friction between Cairo and Washington. The 40-year-old populist politician, who has long called for multi-candidate elections, was ordered to stand trial along with six defendants from his Al-Ghad, or Tomorrow Party. After 42 days in prison without charges, Nour who has declared his intent to run for president in Egypt's first multicandidate presidential elections this fall was released on bail March 12. Prosecutor-General Maher Abdel Wahed announced the charges and referral for trial at a news conference Tuesday, but...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Brookings Briefing Live Blog!

8:58 AM CT - I'm setting up for the Brookings Briefing and getting my live-blog post set up. I'm cheating a bit -- I'm using my desktop to watch the event and my laptop to blog it. So far, the stream works perfectly. I believe I see Ana Marie Cox sitting off to the left as they get set up. I'll be checking my comments as we go along, so don't be shy about chiming in. 9:06 - I'm listening to someone talking by the microphone, and a woman says that with Andrew retiring and Ana taking a break, blogging is over. Well, that was a short conference! 9:07 - OK, we're under way. BTW, I really like EJ's tie. 9:11 - EJ refers to there being no true liberal bloggers on the panel. I'd also add that there are no true conservative bloggers on the panel, either. What we...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Honor Killings Rising In Europe

Police across Europe report that Muslim honor killings have increased significantly on the Continent, and only now do they recognize the phenomenon. AFP reports that Britain has provided leadership on this issue and that the killings may be more numerous than any of the nations presume: Known cases of murder and rape committed to protect a family's honour are on the rise across Europe, forcing police to explore the reasons behind such crimes and how to stop them. At a two-day conference in London, British police have been spearheading a campaign to fight so-called honour-based violence, typically committed against women to protect a family's reputation. The problem is greatest in Islamic communities in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, but it has spread as families migrate, bringing their traditional values with them. ... British authorities have started to properly recognise honour crimes over the past three years, but it...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

LA Times Changes Leadership

The CEO of the Los Angeles Times, John Puerner, will leave his post on June 1st in order to pursue a "well-deserved career break", according to LA Observed: TO: Times Employees FROM: Scott Smith, President, Tribune Publishing Today we are announcing an important management transition at the Los Angeles Times. On June 1, Jeff Johnson will succeed John Puerner as president, publisher and CEO. As you'll read in John's note that follows, he is planning a well-deserved career break. Having worked closely with John throughout his 26-year career, I am deeply grateful for his strong and wise leadership in each of his important roles with our company. For the past five years, John has successfully guided the Los Angeles Times transition to Tribune ownership. Over this period, the Times has made excellent progress in many ways including advancing editorial quality, improving operating efficiency and investing to better serve readers and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Tragedy At Red Lake

Once again in Minnesota, we're confronted by the spectre of a teenager on a killing spree, this time in the economically challenged community of Red Lake near the Canadian border. Jeffery Weise, a Native American who incongruously bought into the madness of neo-Naziism, killed nine people and wounded several others at his school before turning his weapon on himself. No doubt this story will get all sorts of play in the national and local media, and I really don't have much to add to the facts already known. The strange connection between Weise and the nihilistic philosophy of National Socialism strikes me as so predictable for an isolated sociopath and so odd for a Native America as to defy belief. However, based on the information reported so far, it appears to be true. One of the greatest mistakes made in the past twenty years or so has been the dimunition...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iraqi Victims Of UNSCAM Pay For Benon Sevan's Lawyers

The United Nations has paid the attorney's fees for Benon Sevan, who headed up the corrupt Oil-For-Food program that stuffed billions into the pockets of Saddam Hussein at the expense of the Iraqi citizens Sevan was supposed to help. In fact, as the UN itself acknowledges, the money for Sevan's fees came from the UN management percentage of the oil deals themselves: The United Nations agreed to reimburse Benon Sevan, the suspended head of the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, for legal fees he incurred during an investigation into allegations of fraud in the operation, a U.N. official said Tuesday. Payment for Sevan's legal fees was to come out of the account containing the 2.2 percent of Iraqi oil revenues from the $64 billion program earmarked for its administration, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said. Sevan's fees are to be reimbursed with Iraqi oil funds set aside to help administer the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 23, 2005

Appeal Denied

Terri Schiavo's parents have lost their emergency appeal to the Eleventh Circuit to get their daughter food and water, leaving them with only a Supreme Court emergency appeal to stop her death by dehydration: In a 2-1 ruling early Wednesday, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said the parents "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" that Terri's feeding tube should be reinserted immediately. "There is no denying the absolute tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo," the ruling said. "We all have our own family, our own loved ones, and our own children. However, we are called upon to make a collective, objective decision concerning a question of law." In his dissent, Judge Charles R. Wilson said Schiavo's "imminent" death would end the case before it could be fully considered. "In fact, I fail to see any harm...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

ABC News Channeling Mary Mapes?

The talking-points memo that ABC News reported this weekend that supposedly encouraged Republicans in Congress to support the emergency bill for Terri Schiavo looks fishier all the time. As Power Line noted last night, the memo itself has finally been scanned to PDF and placed on the Internet, although not by ABC. The memo has some odd characteristics, as Rocket Man points out: The memo is not only "unsigned," as it was described by the Washington Post; it is not on House or Senate letterhead, nor is there any indication of source or authenticity. It is a memo that anyone could have typed and distributed[.] Not only that, but unlike regular TP memos, the arguments appear amateurish and poorly written. They also do not descend in order of impact, as most do in order to allow quick scanning by Congressmen and Senators. But most damning of all is the header...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Second Bombing In Lebanon Kills Three

The second bombing in Lebanon this week has people pointing towards Damascus again, believing that Bashar Assad may want to destabilize Lebanon in order to build a pretense for a re-occupation of their country: A bomb killed three people in a Christian commercial center early Wednesday, the second attack in an anti-Syrian stronghold in five days, raising fears that agitators were trying to show a need for Syria's military presence in Lebanon. A major opposition group, Qornet Shehwan, accused the pro-Damascus authorities of seeking to "terrorize" the people through the blasts. The local member of parliament called on his constituents to resist attempts to draw them into sectarian strife. Meanwhile, the magistrate investigating the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which brought Syria's long domination of the country into the spotlight, has asked to step down, the Justice Ministry said Wednesday. The move comes ahead of a...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Questioning My Editorial Policy

One of the privileges and responsibilities of maintaining a blog is complete editorial control over its content. That means I write about topics which interest, inspire, and infuriate me, and hopefully the same topics and my essays on them interest a large readership. Once I have attracted a large readership -- which is now the case -- what responsibility do I have to become responsive to their desires in terms of coverage and tone? I'm not asking this question lightly, because I take the views of my readers seriously. Earlier today, a CQ reader sent this thoughtful and critical e-mail to me: You HAVE been one of the more refreshing sources of a viewpoint on the Net and have been my favorite blog to read. Your blog is quickly becoming, however, something that I no longer wish to read on a regular basis. I've been coming back hoping you were...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kojo's Take From UNSCAM: $300,000

The Financial Times reports that Kojo Annan, the son of the UN Secretary-General, received over $300,000 in payments from Cotecna, half of which went through channels designed to hide the payments (via Instapundit): Kojo Annan, son of Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary-general, received at least $300,000 from Cotecna, a Swiss inspection company awarded a contract ultimately worth about $60m under the Iraqi oil-for-food contract. The amount was almost double the sum previously disclosed, but payments were arranged in ways that obscured where the money came from or whom it went to. This shows that Cotecna knew perfectly well that their relationship with Kojo Annan would be viewed as inappropriate. Hiding payments demonstrates a knowledge of impropriety, which flies in the face of Cotecna's denials in the past. Cotecna made $60 million from the management of oil deals with Iraq based on the OFF program, which means Kojo by himself accounted...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Britain Stakes Further Claim For Speech Jurisdiction

Earlier, I wrote about Sheikh Mahfouz and his libel case in Britain against Rachel Ehrenfeld for a book she never published outside the United States. Mahfouz won a default judgment against Ehrenfeld when she refused to acknowledge English jurisdiction for the case. Now British courts have laid claim to the entire Internet for libel and slander cases and Arnold Schwarzenegger has become their first target: Schwarzenegger, who is now governor of California, had challenged a ruling by a senior High Court official giving Anna Richardson permission to serve proceedings on him out of the jurisdiction. The decision today, by Mr Justice Eady, has cleared the way for a libel trial in London sometime this year. Miss Richardson alleges she was libelled by Schwarzenegger and two campaign workers in an October 2003 article in The Los Angeles Times, which also appeared on the internet. The article ran in the Los Angeles...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Democrat Conspiracy To Buy Votes Grows Wider

ABC News reports that five Democrats have been indicted on federal charges of vote-buying in last year's presidential election: Five East St. Louis Democrats were charged in a scheme to buy votes in November's election in a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday. An undetermined number of voters were paid $5 or $10 to cast a Democratic ballot in the Nov. 2 election, court records said. The money allegedly came from the St. Clair County Democratic Committee, though there was no indication the county committee knew how the funds would be used. Federal prosecutors charged four Democratic committeemen and one precinct worker, a day after three other committeemen and a precinct worker pleaded guilty to related vote-buying charges in federal court. It sounds like their co-conspirators cut a deal in order to reduced their jail time, which means they're looking to find bigger fish to fry. The seven committee members fit that...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

FEC Asks Interesting (And Chilling) Questions

Mike Krempansky at Redstate has the FEC proposal for public review of their upcoming regulation of political activity on the Internet, posted in HTML format for easy review. I've been reading through this on the eve of their first public hearing. While some may find this rather tame, compared to the mischief the FEC could have wrought, the questions the document asks still gives me some trepidation about where the FEC will go in following the court's mandate. For instance, when talking about the issue of defining public communications in terms of regulation, the FEC proposal includes this: The Commission invites comment on whether announcements placed for a fee on another entitys website should be considered general public political advertising, and therefore, a public communication under 11 CFR 100.26. Is this approach consistent with BCRAs definition of public communication to include broadcast, cable or satellite communications, newspaper, magazines and outdoor...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 24, 2005

Dutch Defend Euthanasia But Hide It From Muslims?

The Washington Times editorial board met with the Dutch ambassador to the US, Boudewijn van Eenennaam, who discussed a wide range of issues with the board. The Times headlines his defense of euthanasia, but van Eenennaam also discusses the problem of assimilation the Dutch now have with their significant Muslim population: "Almost without us noticing, we had schools in Rotterdam and The Hague that were 80 percent and 90 percent Muslim," he said. Today, in a nation of 16 million, there are 1.6 million Muslims, many of whom are second- and third-generation Dutch citizens whose parents and grandparents were guest workers who arrived to stay. The mistake, he said, was that the Muslim immigrants had been welcomed to the Netherlands with almost no conditions. There was no requirement that they learn the Dutch language or assimilate into the European culture. "We were too tolerant. ... There is strong support that...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Media Matters Underscores Judge Greer's Capriciousness

I received an e-mail from Bart M this morning with the following message: You published a link to a Michelle Malkin article which repeated a slime on Schiavo's husband. I suggest reading the following to appreciate just how scurrilous Ms. Malkin's opportunistic hit piece was[.] The link was to this Media Matters post, and as you might imagine, I took the reference with a huge, Lot's Wife-sized grain of salt. Sure enough, our friends at Media Matters have the spin cycle going pretty hard trying to discredit the nurses who have brought affadavits forward regarding the behavior of Michael Schiavo during his guardianship of Terri Schiavo. Not only does Media Matters take all the news agencies to task for giving Carla Iyer airtime during this debate, they link to another affadavit from another nurse who corroborates Iyer's testimony, while claiming their testimony is "incredible". Where do they get that idea?...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN Report Whitewashes Sexual Abuse

The UN has released its recommendations for combatting sexual abuse by its peacekeeping troops, but it transfers responsibility from its own ranks to that of the nations which provide the troops. Normally, I would applaud that concept; I don't want to give the UN power to discipline US troops. However, the problem with the UN's troop composition is the countries from which they come. That is compounded by a mind-boggling attitude of "boys will be boys" that completely ignores the nature of the exploitation of women and young girls in the Congo and elsewhere: A U.N. report on peacekeeper sex abuse released Tuesday describes the U.N. military arm as deeply flawed and recommends withholding salaries of the guilty and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators. Those recommendations and several others come after repeated allegations that peacekeepers exploited the very people they were sent to protect. The report described...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

All Over But The Dying

The Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of the Schindlers to get food and water restored to Terri Schiavo: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, rejecting a desperate appeal by her parents to keep their severely brain-damaged daughter alive. The decision, announced in a terse one-page order, marked the end of a dramatic and disheartening four-day dash through the federal court system by Bob and Mary Schindler. Justices did not explain their decision, which was at least the fifth time they have declined to get involved in the Schiavo case. I'm not surprised by this action. I always felt that the only hope Terri had of getting relief was at the district court level. Once Judge Whittemore ignored Congress' express desire for a de novo retrial, I knew the effort was doomed. I'll post more later. I hear that Jeb Bush...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Soros Conviction Upheld In France

George Soros, the multi-billionaire financier and one of the primary source of funds behind the far Left in the US, has had a conviction for insider trading upheld in France today. The case originated when Soros received a tip on a buyout of Societe Generale and started scooping up its stock ahead of the announcement. Soros, of course, proclaims his innocence (hat tip: CQ reader M. DuFresne): Billionaire investor George Soros failed to erase the only legal blemish on a long financial career Thursday, when a French appeals court upheld his three-year-old conviction for insider trading. Rejecting Soros' bid to clear his name, the Paris Court of Appeal maintained the guilty verdict and 2.2 million euros fine handed down by a lower court the same amount that Soros made buying and selling Societe Generale shares in 1988 after receiving information about a planned corporate raid on the bank. Amusingly,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Lesson #1: Don't Rig Elections

Kyrgyzstan has apparently thrown off its authoritarian government after making the same mistake that led to the collapse of other former post-Soviet strongmen rule -- rigging an election: KYRGYZSTANS opposition appeared to have seized control of the central Asian country yesterday, making it set to become the third former Soviet state in two years to see its entrenched leadership fall to popular protest after disputed elections. Following Ukraine and Georgia, the latest revolution was a swift event that was over almost as soon as it began. However, last night outbreaks of serious looting had broken out in the capital, Bishkek, adding a dark note to the political change and underlining the challenges it presents. Unrest had been growing since elections last month provoked claims of ballot rigging by the government. Calls for Askar Akayev, the president, to stand down were followed this week by opposition protesters seizing control of government...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 25, 2005

Inconceivable!

Mike Krempansky at Redstate continues to keep an eagle eye on the FEC while it debates the best way to regulate Internet campaign activity, or the least worst way, depending on the point of view. Mike has attended the initial FEC hearing on the subject and managed to get his hands on an initial draft of proposals from March 10th that, according to Mike, amounted to speech regulation worse than what Brad Smith had predicted the week before its drafting: To step back a moment, remember on March 3rd, Commissioner Bradley Smith warned of some real potential problems with the upcoming rulemaking process. In return for ringing the alarm bell, he was dismissed as a crank, a partisan, an ideologue and most of all, just plain wrong. The FEC would NEVER do something like regulate bloggers heavens no! Its inconceivable. Well, I dont think that word means...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Hang Onto Those Tulips For A Moment

A few ominous notes have sounded in the triumphal procession of Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution, discordant tones which should prick the ears of those cheering democracy's spread. As Reuters reports this morning, Vladimir Putin has rushed to endorse the interim government of Kurmanbek Bakiev, which sounds a bit out of character for the Russian president who has spent more time consolidating power than encouraging democracy during his term in office: Kyrgyzstan's opposition, a day after snatching power in a lightning coup in the ex-Soviet state, on Friday named a new acting president and won almost immediate -- and vital -- support from Russia. ... Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was ready to work with the Kyrgyz opposition and offered refuge in Russia to Akayev, who is thought to have fled abroad, possibly to neighboring Kazakhstan. "We know these people (the opposition) pretty well and they have done quite a lot...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Another Exempt Media Blackout?

Michelle Malkin is all over what appears to be another Exempt Media blackout. Despite every news outlet covering the supposed "GOP Talking Points" on the Schiavo litigation when the story first broke, now that the memo appears to have been fraudulent, suddenly no one wants to talk about it. Howard Kurtz, Michelle notes, has not written a word on it since Power Line first challenged the memo's authenticity in a series of posts. The only newspaper that covered Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg's call for an investigation into the memo's creation was, oddly, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- which gave it two lines. Regardless what one thinks of the Schiavo case, this suspicious memo should be getting some attention, especially since it broke as headline news last weekend in an attempt to discredit the GOP by questioning their motivations. If a GOP staffer wrote it, he or she should be fired...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Governor Bush Must Uphold The Law

Now that the federal court has ruled against the Schindlers again this morning in their fight to save their daughter from death, Terri's supporters have renewed their calls for Governor Jeb Bush to step in and do something -- some say even if he has to break the law to do it: The Rev. Patrick Mahoney -- a Christian Defense Coalition representative who is frequently on hand across the country for controversial matters of concern to religious conservatives -- called for Gov. Bush to send Florida law enforcement officers to "come in and take Terri." "A citizen of your state is being brutally murdered," he said. "You need to intervene." Mahoney was organizing the prayer vigil Friday. "We are here on Good Friday to ask Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo," he said in a statement. "The governor has it within his power to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Day By Day Updated Daily At CQ!

Based on the feedback I received earlier from readers, I have finally taken down the Day by Day cartoon which specifically referenced me and the Ted Rall smackdown. Comments and e-mails kindly suggested that I had played that out way past its expiration date -- and while I write what I please, in this case I figured that enough people were telling me that I was drunk and I should sit down, so to speak. After e-mailing DBD creator Chris Muir, I got permission to have his latest cartoon posted at the top of the context column so that it automatically updates each day (other bloggers have already done so). I think Chris does top-flight work and always find his commentary amusing and fresh, and having it appear here will give everyone an opportunity to keep up with it. I hope you enjoy it, and don't forget to check out...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Ah, Those Darned "Perceptions"! (Updated!)

The new president of the MPAA met with Christian Toto of the Washington Times to discuss the challenges of replacing the only other man to hold that position, Jack Valenti, in the changed political climate in which Hollywood finds itself. Dan Glickman, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, acknowledged that working with two Republican-controlled branches of government would present some difficulties, but it seems the first hurdle for Glickman might be reality instead: The president of the Motion Picture Association of America says Hollywood must build a bridge to the Republican-controlled Congress in order to deflate perceptions of a liberal bias. ... "There's no question in the general world there's the perception that the entertainment community is to the left of the country as a whole," Mr. Glickman told editors and reporters at The Washington Times yesterday. "I've got to build bridges with the people who run the show." The...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

UN Report Demonstrates Assad's Motive In Hariri Assassination

The UN report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri has unusually harsh and specific criticism for the pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud and the Lebanese investigation of the carbombing. The Washington Post gives us a few eye-popping details of the way Damascus' First Opthalmologist treated Hariri just prior to his murder: Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team. The report, which calls for an international investigation into Hariri's death, describes an August meeting in Damascus at which Assad ordered the Lebanese billionaire to support amending Lebanon's constitution, according to testimony from "various" sources who discussed the meeting with Hariri. The amendment, approved Sept....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iraqi Prisoners Attempt Remake Of Stalag 17

The Hill reports that US forces in Iraq caught onto an elaborate escape attempt by thousands of terrorists held in a prison camp in southern Iraq, just ahead of an inspection tour by top military leadership: U.S. military police Friday thwarted a massive escape attempt by suspected insurgents and terrorists from this southern Iraq Army base that houses more than 6,000 detainees when they uncovered a 600-foot tunnel the detainees had dug under their compound. ... Within hours of the discovery on the first tunnel, a second tunnel of about 300 feet was detected under an adjoining compound in the camp, which holds 6,049 detainees. The elaborate escape is reminiscent of the 1994 movie, "The Shawshank Redemption," where a prisoner burrows his way out of prison. The key difference, however, is that not one Iraq prisoner got out. I think the better reference is to Stalag 17 or maybe Hogan's...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

FT: Iraqi Insurgents Want A Way Out

The Financial Times of London reports that native insurgent leaders in Iraq -- as opposed to the smaller band of foreigners led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- have lost heart and want a face-saving way out of the battle against American and Iraqi forces. They want Iraq to offer some security guarantees in return for their surrender and an ability to join in the political process: Many of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician. Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 26, 2005

Rice: Middle East Status Quo Doomed

Condoleezza Rice spoke extensively with the Washington Post on the foreign-policy objectives of George Bush's second term, and unsurprisingly, democratization formed the focus of Rice's interview, especially regarding the Middle East. The Post reports that Rice underscored the move away from the Scowcroftian realpolitik of cutting deals with the dictators and kleptocrats of the region in exchange for supporting stability by pointing out that the idea of a stable status quo in the Middle East has always been incorrect anyway: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday set out ambitious goals for the Bush administration's push for greater democracy overseas over the next four years, including pressing for competitive presidential elections this year in Egypt and women's right to vote in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. Rice, in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, said she was guided less by a fear that Islamic extremists would replace authoritarian...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Counterrevolution That Couldn't Demonstrate Straight

Reuters reports some mildly ominous developments in Kyrgyzstan this morning. The ousted interior minister that had just been appointed by ousted president Askar Akayev will lead thousands in demonstration against the so-called Tulip Revolution in Bishkek today, threatening "civil war" if Akayez is not returned to power. I say "mildly ominous", because the people rounded up for this march on Bishkek apparently don't all agree on their opposition to the new interim Kyrgyz government: Kyrgyzstan's ousted interior minister led thousands of demonstrators toward the capital on Saturday to protest against the coup that overthrew President Askar Akayev, warning there was a risk of civil war. ... "They may get there today. They may get there tomorrow, but the important thing is they will go there," Keneshbek Dushebayev, appointed interior minister by Akayev just before he was ousted, told Reuters. Dushebayev, who is leading the protesters whom he predicted could eventually...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

The Laid-Back Revolution

Ian MacWilliam files a personal look at the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan with the BBC this morning which should caution us to the extent by which the Kyrgyz people demand democratization. Mostly, MacWilliam writes, the Kyrgyz people want to be left alone to return to their traditional nomadic culture: A couple of hundred demonstrators had occupied the governor's office [in Jalal-Abad] for more than a week, but they chatted quite happily to militiamen who were also in the grounds keeping an eye on them. One middle-aged woman told me what in essence what the whole protest was about. "I'm a teacher, but I haven't worked for close to 10 years. The government pays teachers next to nothing, only the rich live well here in Kyrgyzstan," she said. "Once, when we lived as nomads in the mountains, our life was clean, we lived in our yurts and kept our horses and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

Be sure to tune into the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon from noon to 3 pm CT. We'll talk about the Terry Schiavo case, the faked talking-points memo, Kyrgyzstan, and plenty of other topics. If you can't catch us on AM 1280 The Patriot in the Twin Cities, you can listen to our Internet stream here. Call in and join the discussion at 651-289-4488....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 27, 2005

Dowdifying The Vatican Response To The Da Vinci Code

Maureen Dowd greets the most holy of Christian holidays by reducing the conflict between the Catholic Church and Dan Brown, the author of the Da Vinci Code, to a whiny complaint about the all-male priesthood. Typically, she talks about a subject on which she knows little and focuses on the most superficial aspect of it to make a facile point about the supposed misogyny of the Church. And a Happy Easter to you, too, Maureen: Some may mock the Vatican for waiting until everyone on earth has read "The Da Vinci Code" to denounce "The Da Vinci Code." I am not one of them. It's Easter, and I don't want to blot my catechism. Of course she's not one of them. Oh, wait, yes she is: Mr. Brown's zippy version has Jesus and Mary Magdalene marrying and having children. This "perverts the story of the Holy Grail, which most certainly...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Second British Newspaper Notices We're Winning, American Media Still Clueless

The Guardian (UK) follows up on a report yesterday by the Financial Times that the Iraqi elections have severely undermined at least the native insurgency, and have even resulted in an internecine war among them: The Iraqi resistance has peaked and is 'turning in on itself', according to recent intelligence reports from Baghdad received by Middle Eastern intelligence agencies. The reports are the most optimistic for several months and reflect analysts' sense that recent elections in Iraq marked a 'quantum shift'. They will boost the government in the run-up to the expected general election in May. ... One foreign intelligence report cites a recent incident in which members of the al-Dulaimi tribe, previously known for their antagonism to the coalition and the new government in Iraq, shot dead a number of Islamic militants from outside Iraq, whom they believed responsible for killing a senior al-Dulaimi sheikh. Although the sheikh was...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kofi Bumming Out Over His Incompetence

The London Times informs us today that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has struggled with depression and might quit his United Nations post over the continuing and deepening scandals surrounding his leadership of the world debating society. The report seems like an attempt to paint a sympathetic portrait of a man torn by circumstances between his career and his family rather than the natural progression of the revelation of Annan's incompetence and corruption: KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations secretary-general, is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future. Colleagues have reported concerns about Annan ahead of an official report this week that will examine his son Kojos connection to the controversial Iraqi oil for food scheme. Depending on the findings of the report, by a team led by the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, Annan may have to choose between the secretary-generalship and loyalty to his son....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Have I Angered The Google Powers That Be?

While Charles at Little Green Footballs and Michelle Malkin point out that Google refuses to acknowledge their sites as "news" despite Google's linking to other, less savory sources as news, it appears that Google has stopped recognizing Captain's Quarters' existence on the Internet altogether. I received this e-mail from CQ reader Ed Davidson this morning: I have been using the search criteria "captains quarters" on Google for a considerable time. Your blog was always the lead link returned and it was a convenient way for me to do a two click connection. She's-a-no-work-no-more. Google no longer will return your link with "captains quarters" or "captains quarters blog" or "www.captainsquartersblog.com" in their search function. Of course, I decided to check this out -- and sure enough, Ed's alert is accurate. Check out this search. While my old Typepad site comes up as the first hit, my main site has disappeared entirely....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Dueling Parliaments In Bishkek Threatens Tulip Revolution

The Tulip Revolution continues to sputter along in the Kyrgyz capitol of Bishkek, where a conflict between the old parliament and the new one elected as a result of the rigged election has caused such confusion that the new security chief briefly threatened to arrest members of the old parliament that had freed him from prison: TWO rival parliaments competed for power in Kyrgyzstan yesterday, fuelling more political uncertainty three days after the former Soviet countrys longtime leader fled and his government collapsed amid massive demonstrations. ... Some fear the division - and the competing parliaments - could plunge the shaken central Asian country into deeper turmoil. Both parliaments - the new one elected in the disputed vote that sparked massive discontent and the one that lost the election - met in separate chambers over the weekend, each claiming to represent the people. Felix Kulov, a former opposition leader who...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Iraqis Grab 131 Terrorists Targeting Kerbala

Iraqi security forces have demonstrated their increasing effectiveness by leading a raid on a terrorist stronghold outside of Kerbala, capturing 131 operatives, many of them the foreigners that cause the worst attacks on Iraqis and Americans: Iraqi soldiers, backed by US helicopters, are reported to have seized 131 suspects in a dawn raid on insurgents planning attacks on the holy city of Kerbala. The Defence Ministry says troops also retrieved tonnes of explosives. The Defence Minister, Hazim al-Shaalan, described it as a very successful operation based on intensive surveillance. Several suspected militants were reported killed in the operation, which began late on Friday and culminated in the dawn raid just outside Kerbala, about 100 kilometres south-west of Baghdad. Officials say say those arrested included foreigners using fake Iraqi identification papers. Next week brings an expected large pilgrimage to Kerbala for Arbain, one of the mourning rites of the Shi'a. Undoubtedly,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

How To Treat A Legend

For decades, no one has embodied the spirit of the Los Angeles Dodgers more than Tommy Lasorda. As a player, his heart far outstripped his talent, despite his oft-repeated (and hilarious) claims that the Dodgers would have been better off optioning off Sandy Koufax and keeping him on their major-league roster. As a talent scout and a minor-league coach, he developed some of the Hall of Fame talent that he later coached to two World Series with Walter Alston, and himself led the team to four World Series appearances in twenty years, winning two of them. But more than his impressive record, Lasorda has imprinted his personality on his beloved Dodgers and the Los Angeles region. He still lives with his family in the middle-class neighborhood of Fullerton instead of tony digs in Bel Air or Beverly Hills, and rather than shut himself off from baseball's fans, he seems to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 28, 2005

Hijacking Terri

When does advocacy turn from focusing on an injustice to focusing on yourself? After spending Saturday taking phone calls on our radio show and reading today's USA Today article about the increasingly chaotic demonstrations outside Terri Schiavo's hospice, I would say that the time has arrived. Randall Terry, the radical anti-abortion activist who had mostly disappeared from national view over the past few years, has suddenly grabbed the stage in Florida, and his followers have stopped taking their cues from Terri's family: Tension mounted outside Woodside Hospice here, where Schiavo was in her 10th day without food or water. Bobby Schindler, Schiavo's brother, told the protesters they aren't helping his family by getting arrested. Karl Henderson, 25, of Denver Bible Church, took issue with Schindler. "We should be able to take her water if she's dying," he said. "You're not speaking for our family," Schindler said. Randall Terry used his...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Congress To Debate Life And Death

After the passions have cooled a bit, Congress intends on taking up the central issues that surrounded the Terri Schiavo case to determine whether federal action is needed to protect the rights of the disabled under guardianship regarding so-called "end of life issues". The New York Times report makes clear that partisanship does not appear to be a problem, as both parties have called for hearings to make sure people like Terri have better protection in the future: On Sunday, lawmakers of both parties agreed that Congress has a role to play in such cases and should contemplate legislation that would give added legal recourse to patients like Ms. Schiavo. While it is difficult to predict whether such a measure could pass, the Schiavo case has clearly pushed thorny questions about end-of-life care to the fore on Capitol Hill, as well as in state legislatures around the nation. The Republican-controlled...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Housecleaning In Iraqi Security Services?

The newly-elected Shi'ite leaders of Iraq want to clean out the ex-Ba'athists who have returned to work in the new Iraqi police, setting up what could be a major division within the forces that Iyad Allawi has slowly rebuilt to credibility: Members of the Shi'ite coalition that won Iraq's elections are demanding that the new government, when it is formed, cleanse the security services of terrorist informers and Saddam sympathizers as its first order of business. Pressure for a purge of the new services is coming from within the ranks of the United Iraqi Alliance, many of whose mainly Shi'ite members complain of being harassed by Sunni officers much as they were persecuted under deposed dictator Saddam Hussein. "There's a certain grass-roots feeling on the Shia side, a concern at what they claim to be a sort of re-Ba'athification process in the security ministries," said a senior British diplomat, who...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Google Makes Good

Yesterday I asked whether I had angered the Google powers, as suddenly CQ had disappeared from the results of their searches. Rob from Say Anything told me that he and I had made the same mistake: selling ad space and subdomains to a company that creates "link farms" that leverages Google searches for sales opportunities. Neither Rob nor I did enough investigation to understand the implications of the business plan. Although the folks at Business Barn treated me well and never lied to me, had I known that their business practices would get CQ banned from Google, I would have declined. I received an e-mail from Business Barn ending our current relationship -- perhaps because my Google ranking disappeared overnight -- but offering me a new deal with free hosting and unlimited bandwidth. I have turned it down and deleted the subdomains that caused the problems with the Google search...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

First Amendment Takes Another Hit

Let's imagine that a reporter (or a blogger!) attends a political event where a politician accuses specific opponents of being homosexuals and child molesters. The journalist writes a report about the event that includes the charges leveled by the unbalanced politician, quoted verbatim. The article even includes a rebuttal from the slander victim. Nevertheless, the writer and the publisher of the article eventually find themselves as defendants of a slander action, presumably along with the idiot who made the comments in the first place. Would the case get thrown out of court, as it amounts to nothing more than a truthful account of a public event? Not if the writer works in Pennsylvania, or apparently even in the United States: The Supreme Court refused Monday to step into a lawsuit against a newspaper, leaving the media in Pennsylvania legally vulnerable when they report defamatory comments by public figures. ... The...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 29, 2005

Jack Shafer Takes David Shaw To The Woodshed

The Los Angeles Times ran an opinion piece by David Shaw on blogging that argued against extending First Amendment protections to the "solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre." He wrote that bloggers didn't deserve such consideration because we do not have editors and fact-checkers to ensure that we don't make errors or slander people. Then Shaw used Matt Drudge, who even Shaw acknowledges as a questionable blogger, to make his point. Somehow his editor missed that. (He's not a blogger; he's a news aggregator. Different animal.) Jack Shafer at Slate didn't miss it, or the irony of Shaw's screed, and he takes Shaw to the woodshed in his response at Slate this morning. Not only does Shafer point out the goofiness of Shaw basing his entire argument on quality while failing to use a correct example, but Shafer also teaches Shaw a little First Amendment history along the way: Giving every indication...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kyrgyzstan Resolves Parliamentary Crisis

In a major development for the one-time Soviet republic, Kyrgyzstan old parliament has agreed to peacefully disband after the new parliament -- formed in the questionable election that wound up running Askar Akayev out of office -- named interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiev as prime minister: Lawmakers on Tuesday ended a damaging battle for legitimacy between rival parliaments, boosting prospects for political stability in Kyrgyzstan after last week's ouster of longtime leader Askar Akayev. ... The old parliament's upper house ended its defiance and disbanded Tuesday, one day after a similar move by its lower house, deferring to a new legislature packed with lawmakers who had Akayev's support during the disputed elections that fueled the push for his ouster. The move apparently signaled a measure of accommodation between the old elite and the former opposition leaders now in charge of the country, who swung their support behind the new parliament and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Democracy Spreads To Bhutan

When the wave of democratization reaches all the way into the Himalayan hinterlands, people can bet on its power to transform the world. The latest nation to embrace democracy is the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, an isolated agricultural nation between India and China that has been ruled by an absolute monarch since the days of the British raj. Interestingly, the impetus for this radical shift came not from the Bhutanese but apparently from the king himself: The king of the Himalayan state of Bhutan announced the end of a century of absolute royal rule yesterday with the publication of a draft constitution to establish a multiparty democracy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that by the end of the year his 700,000 subjects would be given the right to elect two houses of parliament, whose members would be empowered to impeach the monarch by a two-thirds vote. While the National Assembly...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Red Lake Shooter Not Exactly A Loner

After the spate of news stories following the Red Lake Massacre that killed ten people painted gunman Jeff Weise as a loner, Minnesota will be surprised to find out that the FBI has arrested another teenager as a co-conspirator. Louis Jourdain, the son of the tribal chief, was taken into custody last night and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, according to the Star Tribune: The teenage son of Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr. was charged with conspiracy Monday in connection with the March 21 shootings that killed 10 people, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. The source said that Louis Jourdain, who is believed to be 16 or 17, plotted with the gunman, Jeffrey Weise, to violently attack Red Lake High School. One witness told reporters that Jourdain hid out with her in the library and knew without looking that Weise was the shooter,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Boy Howdy, Dan's Happier Than A Dog With Two Bones

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister catches up with Dan Rather, who keeps himself busy nowadays trying to rescue 60 Minutes Wednesday and what's left of his career. Shister finds Rather in an exceptionally good mood -- so good, in fact, that The Dan can't resist trotting out that Texas homeboy facade that he uses to disarm critics: Rather, 73, who had an unprecedented 24-year run as anchor, was also surprised at how easy it was to relocate from the CBS Broadcast Center across 57th Street to 60 Wednesday and mother ship 60 Minutes. "I moved from the 'hard-news' side of the street to what we called the 'carpet-making, basket-weaving' side of the street. It turns out it's not basket-weaving at all. That was vastly overstated." Though he's juggling several pieces with his usual intensity, Rather sounds almost, well, laid-back on his new voice-mail message. It begins, "Howdy, this is Dan...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Right-Wing Theocrats For Life!

Today brought out two more voices of the right-wing theocracy threatening America, according to Paul Krugman, arguing to reconnecting the feeding tube for Terri Schiavo and to stop her deliberate starvation and dehydration. The first right-wing Bible thumper to speak out today comes from a religious background (WARNING: ACLU members should protect themselves from any contact with Christianity before proceeding): As Terri Schiavo entered her 12th full day without food or water, the Rev. Jesse Jackson prayed with her parents Tuesday and joined conservatives in calling for state lawmakers to order her feeding tube reinserted. ... "I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips," he said. "This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes." ... Jackson said he asked Michael Schiavo for permission to...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Because The UN Has Done Such A Great Job Everywhere Else

Just when we thought that the United Nations had enough problems trying to keep its peacekeepers and mission management off of prepubescent girls in Africa and its hands off of aid money intended for the starving and oppressed, we find out that Turtle Bay wants to take on a whole new mission. Now the UN, which brought you the Oil-For-Food scandal and the rape of the Congo, wants to take over the Internet: The International Telecommunication Union is one of the most venerable of bureaucracies. Created in 1865 to facilitate telegraph transmissions, its mandate has expanded to include radio and telephone communications. But the ITU enjoys virtually no influence over the Internet. That remains the province of specialized organizations such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN; the Internet Engineering Task Force; the World Wide Web Consortium; and regional address registries. The ITU, a United Nations...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 30, 2005

ABC, Washington Post Stand By Schiavo Memo ... Mostly

Howard Kurtz addresses the controversy over the memo released by ABC under the headline "GOP Talking Points Memo" by claiming that neither ABC nor the Washington Post meant to imply that the memo originated with Republicans -- only that it was circulated to them: ABC and The Post say their reports on the Schiavo memo were accurate and carefully worded. The document caused a stir because it described the Schiavo controversy as "a great political issue" that would excite "the pro-life base" and be "a tough issue for Democrats," singling out Florida's Sen. Bill Nelson. Two days after the memo was reported, the Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill, signed by Bush, to transfer jurisdiction of Schiavo's case from Florida courts to the federal judiciary in an effort to restore the brain-damaged woman's feeding tube. ... The controversy erupted March 18 when veteran correspondent Linda Douglass reported on "World News Tonight":...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

11th Circuit To Hear Schindlers' Appeal On 13th Day

After watching Terri Schiavo struggle to stay alive for thirteen days without food and water, the Eleventh Circuit appellate court has finally decided that she may have some rights to due process after all. The court agreed to hear the Schindlers' appeal to reinstate her feeding tube in a dramatic thirteenth-hour development: A federal appeals court early Wednesday agreed to consider a petition by Terri Schiavo's parents for a new hearing on whether to reconnect their severely brain-damaged daughter's feeding tube. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled without comment on Schiavo's 12th day without nourishment. Last week, the same court twice ruled against Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, who are trying to keep her alive. ... [T]he court will consider the request for a new hearing, rather than whether previous Florida court rulings have met legal standards under state law, which is what federal courts have done...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

EU Endorses Wolfowitz For World Bank

The European Union finally gave their blessing to the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank after weeks of speculation that they would attempt to sink it: European Union governments gave their endorsement to World Bank president nominee Paul Wolfowitz on Wednesday after he affirmed his commitment to multilateralism and said he would make the fight against poverty his top goal as head of the Washington-based global lending institution. Belgian Development Aid minister Armand De Decker told reporters "there are no objections of EU countries" to Wolfowitz, who met for two hours with development and finance ministers at EU headquarters. The specter of having a Bush administration official so closely aligned with the US policy in Iraq and on the war on terror leading the World Bank made a number of European nations uneasy. Undoubtedly, their concerns spring from their own domestic politics rather than any particular issue...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Down with da flu

I'm finally starting to look and feel more alive after coming down with the flu last week. Unfortunately, I have yet to regain my energy or my appetite, I only want to eat chocolate. This is even more unfortunate considering that swimsuit season is around the corner and due to recent Easter holiday chocolate bunnies are in abundance at home and at the office. Every year I get the flu shot and I always catch the flu anyway, but I dont recall that illness being followed by an irrepressible urge to bite ears off helpless edible rabbits . . . ....

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Curiouser and curiouser

Eric Pfeiffer of NRO has an interesting piece on Michael Schiavos attorney, George Felos. Apparently he can do more than move juries with his advocacy skills, but he believes he has the ability to mentally control aircraft as well. Pfeiffer checked out Mr. Felos book (Litigation as Spiritual Practice) and observed the following passage: Felos claims to have used his mental powers to cause a plane he was passenger on to nearly crash. By simply asking himself, "I wonder what it would be like to die right now?" the plane's autopilot program mysteriously ceased to function and the plane descended into free fall. Felos then observed, "At that instant a clear, distinctly independent and slightly stern voice said to me, 'Be careful what you think. You are more powerful than you realize.' In quick succession I was startled, humbled and blessed by God's admonishment." Mr. Felos also claimed to use...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Karami Unable To Form Unity Gov't In Lebanon

Omar Karami, who had earlier resigned in the face of massive anti-Syrian protests following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, now admits that he cannot form a unity government and may have to resign again. Emile Lahoud may need to find a prime minister with more credibility among the Lebanese nationalists and democracy activists in order to stave off the inevitable for a short period: Lebanon's pro-Syrian Prime Minister-designate Omar Karami confirmed Wednesday he would abandon his bid to forge a national unity government, but stopped short of formally tendering his resignation. ... The anti-Syrian opposition had always rejected the idea of a unity government. Karami's doomed effort to form one, and his slow-motion resignation, have fueled opposition suspicions that the authorities are maneuvering to postpone the polls. "Since the beginning, the government was trying to delay the elections," Christian former President Amin Gemayel told Reuters. "We are pushing to have...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Robed Pot Calls Kettle Black?

In denying the Schindlers a final en banc appeal, the opinion for the denial includes a shot at Congress and the President by Justice Stanley Birch: Birch went on to scold President Bush and Congress for their attempts to intervene in the judicial process, by saying: "In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people our Constitution [sic]." Talk about judicial arrogance! Not only did the Eleventh Circuit openly disregard the law written by Congress, this justice arrogantly tells the other equal branches that the only branch guaranteeing a free people is the one not accountable to the will of the electorate. Bear in mind that none of the courts that reviewed this case after the...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Photo IDs The New Form Of Jim Crow?

Three states have begun debating the need for better identification at polling places during elections, especially after seeing the voting debacles in Washington and Wisconsin. Seeing how a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID has become necessary for almost any business transaction in modern life, one might expect such a mundane requirement to attract little passion, let alone serious opposition. However, lawmakers in two of the three states -- Indiana and Georgia -- walked off the job and out of the debate in protest, and Wisconsin's governor again threatened to veto any legislation requiring identification at the polls: Legislation that would require voters to show photo identification before casting ballots has touched off fierce debate in three states, with opponents complaining the measures represent a return to the days of poll taxes and Jim Crow. Lawmakers in Georgia and Indiana walked off the job to protest the proposals, which...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

PFAW Finds Republican Against Filibusters ... In Union That Supported Kerry

Radioblogger listened to the press conference held by People for the American Way and its president, Ralph Neas, as they launched their new ad campaign against a proposed rule change eliminating filibusters on judicial confirmations in the Senate. [Why? Well, someone had to do it, I guess -- CE] Apparently, Neas bubbled over with joy at finding a "common sense Republican" to front PFAW's ad blitz, hoping it will convince other GOP voters to demand their Senators vote against the ban. So who did Neas find? Brent Scowcroft? Henry Kissinger? Jim Jeffords? The ghost of Nelson Rockefeller? No! Neas found ... Ted Nonini. You know ... that Ted Nonini. Still stumped? Welcome to the club. Ted Nonini, as it turns out, works as a Los Angeles firefighter -- obviously a brave man -- but as a politician, he doesn't have much of a track record. A Google search on Fireman...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

March 31, 2005

Maybe The UN's Problem Is Mathematical Illiteracy

CQ reader Marc Landers thinks he's discovered why the United Nations can't keep track of the money it gets, allowing so much of it to wind up in the pockets of its own managers, such as Benon Sevan, and tyrants like Saddam Hussein. It may not happen through maliciousness -- it might be that they just don't know how to do simple math. For instance, a new report from the UN on the children of Iraq claims that the starvation rate has doubled since the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as the BBC reports this morning: Increasing numbers of children in Iraq do not have enough food to eat and more than a quarter are chronically undernourished, a UN report says. Malnutrition rates in children under five have almost doubled since the US-led invasion - to nearly 8% by the end of last year, it says. ... When Saddam Hussein...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Abbas: OK, Now I'm Serious

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has had a credibility problem ever since Yasser Arafat named him as Prime Minister. He has never had a mandate for action of any kind, as the Palestinian electoral fraud that hoisted him into the presidency demonstrated. His Fatah faction has only minority support, as the Palestinians have openly endorsed Hamas by a 2-1 margin in the only election cycle that Hamas contested. Now it appears that even his Fatah faction may be deserting Abbas, as their al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has now overtly turned their guns on their leader -- and Abbas suddenly has become a convert to the rule of law: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a crackdown on Thursday on Ramallah militants who defied demands that they lay down their arms under peace moves he had agreed with Israel. Abbas took a tougher line after half a dozen gunmen from his own ruling...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

When Bureaucracies Grow, They Tend To Collide

One of my main criticisms of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was that the ultimate resolution called for a greater bureaucracy rather than a reorganization along functional lines. In other words, rather than take the alphabet soup of intelligence services and reorganize them into two agencies -- FBI for all domestic counterintelligence and the CIA for everything else -- the 9/11 Commission recommended that two more layers of management be added on top of all the existing agencies and that a new Director of National Intelligence would become the President's sole advisor for all intelligence work. At the same time, the 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center to act as a clearinghouse for all these agencies to coordinate their efforts. Again, had the Commission exercised better judgment, the NCTC wouldn't be necessary as the only coordination required would be between two agencies, the FBI and...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

American Intelligence 'Dead Wrong' On WMD: Panel

The presidential panel report on WMD intelligence has determined that the spy agencies got its information "dead wrong" but did not politicize or distort its findings to suit any particular policy, the AP reports this morning: In a scathing report, a presidential commission said Thursday that America's spy agencies were "dead wrong" in most of their judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before the war and that the United States knows "disturbingly little" about the weapons programs and threats posed by many of the nation's most dangerous adversaries. The commission called for dramatic change to prevent future failures. It outlined more than 70 recommendations, saying that President Bush must give John Negroponte, the new director of national intelligence, broader powers for overseeing the nation's 15 spy agencies. It also called for sweeping changes at the FBI to combine the bureau's counterterrorism and counterintelligence resources into a new office. On...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Terri Schiavo, RIP

The AP reports that Terri Schiavo has died this morning after 13 days of court-ordered dehydration: Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged woman whose final years tethered to a feeding tube sparked a bitter feud over her fate that divided a family and a nation, died Thursday, her husband's attorney said. Schiavo, 41, died quietly in a Pinellas Park hospice 13 days after her feeding tube was removed despite extraordinary intervention by Florida lawmakers, Congress and President Bush efforts that were rebuffed at every turn by the courts. Her death was confirmed to The Associated Press by Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, and announced to reporters outside her hospice by a family adviser. Out of respect for the family and all concerned, I plan on offering no further comment on this issue today, other than to implore CQ readers to please pray for Terri, her family, and all who mourn...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Kennedy Follows In Krugman's Freaked-Out Footsteps

Earlier this week, Paul Krugman asserted that the greater political participation by conservative Christians would lead to politically-based assassination attempts, and blamed talk radio and cable news for the phenomenon. Never one to leave a hysterical rant aside, Dan Kennedy today picked up Krugman's paranoia and predicted that conservatives would one day murder Michael Schiavo, and the blame would fall on Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough -- all because they had the audacity to air a dissenting opinion about Terri Schiavo's diagnosis: IF THERE WAS an emblematic moment in the religious rights crusade against Michael Schiavo, it might be said to have taken place on March 21. It was a Monday, three days after Terri Schiavos feeding tube had been removed. And William Hammesfahr, a neurologist who claims to have examined the all-but-brain-dead woman for some 10 hours several years ago, was a guest on Sean Hannitys radio show. What...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Oupatient Hospiblogging For Today (Updated)

I'm sitting in a treatment room at the Transplant Center this afternoon as we have combined a couple of appointments for the First Mate and eaten up most of the afternoon here. I haven't posted an FM update in quite a while, mostly because not much has changed. She still hasn't required any additional insulin since the days after her release from the hospital, and her blood levels for kidney function have been the best since ... well, since I've known her. She's completely off of blood-pressure medication now -- she used to take three different hypertension meds in combination to get it under control -- and her appetite has even improved a little. Unfortunately, her anemia has returned, and she needs iron infusions via IV for the next few weeks, which is one of the reasons we're here today. She has a nasty cough that she picked up from...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

TNR: Bush Deserves More Credit For Democracy's Spread

The New Republic's Martin Peretz ventures into nearly uncharted territory for the Left, even the center-Left, in the latest edition of TNR. He argues that George Bush deserves more credit for tranforming the Middle East than given him by the media and punditry, and takes them to task for their "churlishness": If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Pope In Serious Condition, Gets Sacrament Of The Sick (Update)

The Pope has taken a turn for the worse, suddenly running a high fever as a result of a urinary-tract infection. CNN reports his condition as "serious", but radio reports have the Italian authorities sealing off the streets around the Holy See: Pope John Paul II's condition remained "serious" early Friday, but he appeared to be responding well to antibiotic treatment for a urinary tract infection that caused him to develop a fever, a Vatican official said. Thursday night, as his health deteriorated, the pontiff was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican source told CNN. The sacrament does not necessarily mean that the pope is dying. Last rites -- also known as the sacrament of the sick or extreme unction -- are commonly given to people who are seriously ill as well. The First Mate, in fact, has received the sacrament prior to her transplant...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Coalition Holds American Aide To Zarqawi

The Associate Press reports that the US forces in Iraq have held an American citizen who they claim served as a chief aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi since late last year. The Pentagon has declined to identify the man, but describes him as a Jordanian-born naturalized US citizen who has lived in several different American cities over a 20-year span: U.S. forces in Iraq are holding a senior operative of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who has joint American-Jordanian citizenship, defense officials said Thursday. The man was captured in a raid by U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq late in 2004, said Matthew Waxman, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. "Weapons and bomb-making materials were in his residence at the time he was captured," Waxman said. Waxman described the man as an associate of Zarqawi and an emissary to insurgent groups in several cities in Iraq. Zarqawi,...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »

Berger Cops To Misdemeanor

Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's former National Security Advisor, will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor tomorrow for taking a raft of classified documents out of the National Archives just ahead of the 9/11 Commission's investigation: Former national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday. ... The former Clinton administration official previously acknowledged he removed from the National Archives copies of documents about the government's anti-terror efforts and notes that he took on those documents. He said he was reviewing the materials to help determine which Clinton administration documents to provide to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He called the episode "an honest mistake," and denied criminal wrongdoing. Sorry, that explanation simply doesn't fly. As anyone who has ever held a clearance can testify, the security briefings regularly delivered to cleared...

« February 2005 | April 2005 »