« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 1, 2005

US Stopped Nuclear Material Bound For Iran

Condoleezza Rice revealed in a speech yesterday that a consortium of nations, including the US, stopped nuclear material from reaching Iran as well as other rogue nations over the last nine months. The participating nations of the Proliferation Security Initiative have quietly cooperated on eleven interdictions during that time, at least one of those directly involving Teheran: The U.S. and its allies in a program to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction prevented Iran from obtaining material for its nuclear weapons program within the past nine months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. ``The trans-shipment of material and equipment bound for ballistic missile programs in countries of concern, including Iran'' was blocked as was the transfer of ``equipment used to produce propellant'' to a ``ballistic missile program in another region'' of the world, Rice said. ... Rice gave no details but said that the U.S. and 10 of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iraq: US Not An Occupying Force

The newly elected government of Iraq has requested an extension of the US mandate for providing their security from the United Nations, telling the world body that arbitrary timetables should be put aside and the Iraqis themselves should determine when the US presence would no longer be necessary. The Shi'ite Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, emphasized that American forces are not occupying Iraq but serve as "friendly forces" assisting the newly elected democratic government: Iraq's month-old transitional government announced Tuesday that it had asked the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of the American-led forces here beyond the end of this year, and said Iraq's need for outside military assistance, not pre-set deadlines, should determine when American troop withdrawals should start. ... Mr. Jaafari said Iraq's need for outside military assistance, not pre-set deadlines, should determine when American troop withdrawals should start. "The multinational forces are not occupying forces,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Indonesia Issues Warning To Aussies On Colby Case

Indonesia warned Australians that their protests on behalf of Schapelle Corby, the young woman sentenced to twenty years for drug smuggling, will drive a wedge between the neighboring countries at a time when cooperation in the war on terror is most needed. It also threw a bit of cold water on the notion of a prisoner exchange: Calls for a tourist boycott of Bali to protest an Australian woman's 20-year sentence for smuggling marijuana onto the Indonesian island are driving a wedge between the two countries, an Indonesian official said Monday. Several travel agents have advocated the boycott, along with relatives Schapelle Corby, 27, who was convicted and sentenced last week for smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana onto Bali in October. Many Australians believe Ms. Corby's tearful claims of innocence. Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa warned against a boycott, with negotiations to start next week on Australia's push for...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Hospiblogging Once Again

I'm spending the morning at the hospital while the First Mate undergoes a regularly-schedule maintenance procedure related to her kidney transplant. The wireless connection at the hospital is unusually slow today, which means my posting will be limited. I'll try to catch up on a huge backlog of e-mail and work on a couple of speeches I have scheduled, while keeping an eye on the wire services for breaking news. In the meantime, here are a few items that might interest CQ readers: * If you are looking for greeting cards, motivational knick-knacks, and original gift ideas, give The Stickmans a visit. It's a new outfit (partly owned and operated by my uncle, the Tenor Saxman) with unique and whimsical merchandise. Tell them the Captain sent you. * Don't forget about our Not One Dime logo contest. All of the Not One Dime posts and my reporting on the judiciary...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Dutch: We Are The Knights Who Say ... Nee

Fresh on the heels of the French rejection of the proposed EU charter, the Dutch have driven a stake through its heart with an overwhelming 'nee' to match the Gallic 'non' of Sunday: Dutch voters overwhelmingly rejected the European constitution in a referendum Wednesday, exit polls projected, in what could be a knockout blow for the charter roundly defeated just days ago by France. An exit poll projection broadcast by state-financed NOS television said the referendum failed by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent. The turnout was 62 percent, exceeding all expectations, the broadcaster said. Although the referendum was consultative, the high turnout and the decisive margin left no room for the Dutch parliament to turn its back on the people's verdict. The parliament meets Thursday to discuss the results. The Dutch turned out in much greater numbers than anticipated, thanks in part to an assertion by Dutch...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The One That Got Away

Todd Foster of the News-Virginian writes today that he had the Deep Throat story three years ago, and would have published the explosive secret three years ago in People Magazine. However, several factors led People to decline the scoop -- mostly the family's demand for money, as well as the mental incapacity of Felt himself: I've been waiting three years for what happened Tuesday: That W. Mark Felt would be named "Deep Throat." Actually, he was outed as Deep Throat by relatives and an attorney who began pitching me the story in June 2002, when I was a regular contributor to People magazine. ... Ultimately the story died because of money. The Felt family and their attorney wanted a lot of money, and People magazine - with my blessing - backed away in what would have been a case of "checkbook journalism." Reputable news organizations don't pay a penny for...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Online Coalition Responds To The FEC

Mike Krempansky at Redstate has posted the response from the Online Coalition to the Federal Election Commission about their proposed regulation of Internet activity during elections. Mike has made it available in PDF and HTML format. The credit for this goes to Mike himself, who has been a lion in this fight. I am honored to have been asked to be a signatory to this effort. Please make sure you read the response, and drop Mike a comment thanking him for his hard work....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 2, 2005

Will Famine Destabilize The Korean Peninsula?

Nicole Winfield reports in the Associated Press that the Kim regime has begun a mass relocation effort, driving millions of citydwellers to the countryside in what looks to be a desperate effort to fend off a catastrophic famine. Food-distribution NGOs report that despite the lack of significant weather or agricultural incidents, what little production Pyongyang gets out of its farms may drop so precipitously that millions may face starvation: North Korea is sending millions of people from its cities to work on farms each weekend -- another indication that the risk of famine is particularly high this year, a U.N. official said yesterday. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) is the only aid organization that has a presence outside the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and its officials have reported the movements of the North's people from cities to farms, said Anthea Webb, spokeswoman for the Rome-based agency. ... The WFP...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

527s Acquire New Opponents: Congressional Black Caucus

What issue could possibly draw conservative Republicans and the Congressional Black Caucus into a legislative alliance? This morning, the Washington Times reports that the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act's provisions on campaign limits hit sour notes with both groups, as traditional African-American outreach efforts got starved in favor of the massive influence of George Soros' 527 strategies in 2004: Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus are teaming up with conservative Republicans to push for the first major changes in the 2002 campaign-finance reform bill, most admitting that they made a mistake in voting for the bill three years ago. "If I had the chance to vote again, I wouldn't vote the way I voted," said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, New York Democrat, who along with most of the CBC supported the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act after they were promised by Democratic leaders that the bill would not harm their...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

More Clinton Cluelessness On Larry King

Larry King had Bill Clinton on as his guest for last night's show, and the talk-show host asked Bill Clinton about his assessment of Mark Felt in his role as Deep Throat. Clinton delivered a jaw-dropping response that dripped with irony: KING: ... What do you make of the Mark Felt story? Is he an American hero? CLINTON: I think he did a good thing. And I think it's -- it was an unusual circumstance. I think Felt believed that there was the chance that this whole thing would be covered up. Ordinarily, I think a law enforcement official shouldn't be leaking to the press because you should let criminal action take its course. When he did that, he obviously believed there was a chance that the thing would be covered up. And there was some evidence -- we now know that there was also a problem with trying to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Tapes Edited: Dosanjh

The tapes that Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal took of conversations between himself and Liberal Party leaders have been spliced and edited to mislead listeners, Ujjal Dosanjh protested today. Dosanjh claimed that Grewal has altered evidence to make the Liberals appear to have offered a quid pro quo in return for Grewal's support or at least his abstention: As the New Democrats filed an official complaint with the Commons Ethics Commissioner calling for an inquiry and the Conservatives insisted that senior officials in the Liberal government had tried to buy an MP's vote, Mr. Dosanjh charged that the recordings are not only badly translated but pieced together from different conversation and edited to cut out sections. In a written statement he issued yesterday, he alleges, for example, that it appears there are "two obvious cuts" where the phrase "cabinet is quick" is spliced into a recording to make it appear as...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Not One Dime: The NRSC Bleg

The Duke at Pekin's Prattles received a letter from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, sounding a curiously desperate note in their efforts to raise money this month. Frist claims that new funds are necessary to ensure that all of Bush's judicial nominees get their up-or-down votes: Dear Friend, I need your help. I ask that you immediately make an online contribution of $25, $50, $75 or even $100 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). To make a contribution on their secure server, please click here. As Senate Majority Leader, I want to assure you that, if the Democrat's campaign of judicial obstruction resumes, I will not hesitate to use the Constitutional Option. We must ensure that President Bush's qualified judicial nominees get the up-or-down votes they deserve. That's why we need to counter the Democrat's attacks and misinformation - including the multi-state, multi-million dollar advertising by liberal special interest...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Have The Grewal Tapes Been Altered?

The Globe & Mail updated its report on the Grewal tapes a short time ago with the news that an audio expert says that the tapes show an "abnormality" that could indicate tampering: Stevan Pausak analysed a 46-second segment of the recordings and says there's a break in it that indicates a portion may have been cut out. He says the abnormality occurs in a recorded phone chat between Mr. Grewal and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh in which they discuss future job prospects for the MP in exchange for crossing the floor. He says there is a discontinuity in the audio file, what he calls a zero-signal gap of about 0.3 seconds. The signal goes abruptly to zero in that interval, and afterward it continues. I'm not an audio expert, but I do work with audio files as part of my job. The zero-signal artifact could mean that an audio...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 3, 2005

It'll All End In Tears, I Tell You

The unequivocal rejection of the new EU constitution by two of its founding nations have left members of the EU elite profoundly shaken, the Guardian reports today. Even though polling numbers in France and the Netherlands have predicted substantial losses for weeks now, apparently no one prepared a Plan B. As a result, confusion has broken out at Brussels: Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister who holds the rotating EU presidency and who was said to have been on the verge of tears when he heard news of the Dutch vote, summoned Gerhard Schrder for emergency talks. As the German chancellor travelled to the Grand Duchy, the Elyse Palace announced that Jacques Chirac would fly to Berlin tomorrow to discuss the crisis. Such stalwarts of Old Europe, who issued bleak statements on Wednesday night after 61% of Dutch voters said no to the constitution, are still insisting in public that...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iraq Wants More US Involvement, Not Less

Today's Washington Post reports (on page A19) that the Iraqis, far from viewing Americans as an occupying force manipulating their politics and security, instead believe that we have withdrawn too much from both. The new government's foreign minister met with top US officials to request that the US involve itself more closely with efforts to get their permanent constitution written and to provide more leadership on security: To prevent the breakdown of Iraq's troubled transition and a potential civil war, Iraq's new government appealed to the Bush administration yesterday to take a much more assertive role, particularly on four key political and military issues, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials. In talks with Vice President Cheney yesterday and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari requested greater U.S. and coalition help in crafting a new constitution. The deadline is now less than three months away, but...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Is Zarqawi Dead?

Rumor #279b on the Zarqawi circuit now has it that the mastermind of the Iraqi al-Qaeda network has died on the operating table -- and is currently six feet under the Iraqi soil that he has bloodied so badly (via Mystery Achievement and CQ reader Soccer Dad): The Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq - died on Friday and his body is in Fallujah's cemetary, an Iraqi Sunni sheikh, Ammar Abdel Rahim Nasir, has told the Saudi on-line newspaper Al-Medina. He claims that gunfights which broke out in Fallujah in the last few days involved militants trying to protect the insurgency leader's tomb from a group of American soldiers patrolling the area. During a telephone conversation from the city of Fallujah with the Saudi newspaper, Nasir said al-Zarqawi was taken there after being injured in the city of Ramadi around three weeks ago, and may have...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Abramoff Was Ecumenical In His Lobbying, It Seems

Despite the Democrats' best efforts to paint controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff as a GOP tool -- especially in relation to Tom DeLay -- further investigation by the Washington Post shows that Abramoff put significant money into the coffers of leading Democrats as well. In fact, two of Abramoff's biggest winners were the present and former Senate Minority Leaders: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an associate famously collected $82 million in lobbying and public relations fees from six Indian tribes and devoted a lot of their time to trying to persuade Republican lawmakers to act on their clients' behalf. But Abramoff didn't work just with Republicans. He oversaw a team of two dozen lobbyists at the law firm Greenberg Traurig that included many Democrats. Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators. Among the biggest beneficiaries were Capitol Hill's most powerful Democrats,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Still Rather Clueless

Dan Rather appeared on Larry King Live last night to discuss the outing of Mark Felt as Deep Throat. King couldn't resist the urge to compare the Watergate story to that of the disgraced 60 Minutes II report on George Bush's TexANG service, and Rather couldn't resist the urge to once again claim that no one had proven the Killian memos as fraudulent: KING: Well, I don't know another word. You might still believe the story, by the way. RATHER: Well, without getting into that because the panel, this panel that was chosen by CBS to look into it, they issued their report. CBS adopted the report. I said at the time and I say now, I read the report. I absorbed it. I carried forward in my work. Anybody wants to know the panel's version of what happened should read the report. The situation that we had and still...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Guantanamo Fog

One of my favorite columnists and bloggers, Michelle Malkin, writes a must-read column in today's Washington Times about the mythology of Guantanamo's Camp X-Ray being the equivalent of the Soviet gulag, as Amnesty International accused earlier this week. This is how the Americans have mistreated the poor dears at Guantanamo: Erik Saar, an army sergeant at Gitmo for six months and co- author of a negative, tell-all book titled "Inside the Wire," inadvertently provides us more firsthand details showing just how restrained, and sensitive to Islam -- to a fault, I believe -- detention facility officials have been. Each detainee's cell has a sink installed low to the ground, "to make it easier for the detainees to wash their feet" before Muslim prayer, Mr. Saar reports. Detainees get "two hot halal, or religiously correct, meals" a day in addition to an MRE (meal ready to eat). Loudspeakers broadcast the Muslims'...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

CQ On The Stump Tonight (Update!)

I will be speaking at a monthly meeting of Twin City conservatives tonight, from 7-9 PM, on the New Media and its effects on politics and news. The meeting will take place at Park Tavern in Saint Louis Park. I want to thank the folks at Townhall for the invitation; I'm looking forward to the speech and an opportunity to discuss blogs and politics afterwards. UPDATE: I'm at the Park Tavern and blogging away with the laptop while waiting for my early-bird sirloin steak dinner -- just $4.95. I don't live or work near here, but if I did, I'd probably drop by for a meal often. In fact, the steak just arrived -- and it's not bad. Hopefully, I will be able to post a video clip of my speech later tonight. I'm taping it for another project. UPDATE II: I think everyone involved had a great time, especially...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Arrests Made In McCartney Case

Two Belfast men have been arrested in the murder of Robert McCartney, the man whom suspected IRA terrorists killed in a pub brawl and then covered up through threats and initimidation. The killings threw the Northern Ireland peace process into a crisis and badly tarnished the Sinn Fein (NI) party: Two Belfast men were charged Friday in the IRA-linked knife slaying of a Catholic man and the injury of his friend outside a pub earlier this year, the first breakthrough in a case that has overshadowed Northern Ireland's peace process for months. A 49-year-old man will face a charge of murdering Robert McCartney, while a 36-year-old man will be charged with the attempted murder of Brendan Devine, police said. The arraignment was set for Saturday in Belfast Crown Court. McCartney's sisters who have taken their campaign to the White House and the European Parliament said they were stunned...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Liberal MP Calls For Suspension Of Murphy, Dosanjh

Not everyone in the Liberal Party has joined Paul Martin's defense of his Chief of Staff and the Health Minister. Saying that the Grewal tapes "made my skin crawl," MP Roger Galloway demanded that Martin suspend Tim Murphy and Ujjal Dosanjh until the completion of an investigation into the tapes: A senior Liberal MP wants the Prime Minister's chief of staff, Tim Murphy, and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh suspended from their posts until an investigation takes place into the growing scandal over the secretly taped negotiations between the two men and a Tory MP who was considering crossing the floor. Sarnia MP Roger Gallaway says the situation is "totally odious" and "it shows the underbelly of politics that I think is quite unacceptable." "[Conservative Leader Stephen Harper] will have to deal with [Tory MP Gurmant Grewal, who made the tapes], but we have to deal with our own," Mr. Gallaway...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Poll Shows Byrd In Trouble For Re-Election

Because he has been in the Senate for five decades, Robert Byrd has the reputation of being unbeatable if he chooses to run for re-election, even though West Virginia went for George Bush twice. A new poll suggests that this reputation may be seriously overblown, as he has come up in a dead heat against a Republican who hasn't even announced an intention to run in 2006 (via Don Surber): A new poll shows Sen. Robert Byrd and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito would run neck and neck in a possible campaign for the Senate seat now held by Byrd. An RMS Strategies Poll released today reports that 46 percent of 401 registered voters in West Virginia would vote for Byrd if the election were held now. A total of 43 percent picked Capito, R-W.Va., though she has not announced her intention to run. And 11 percent said they were undecided...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 4, 2005

Another Great Moment In Palestinian Democracy

The London Telegraph reports this morning that Mahmoud Abbas has suspended parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories, an unsurprising move considering the popularity of the Hamas opposition in comparison to Abbas' Fatah faction: Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has decided to postpone parliamentary elections which had been planned for next month. The widely-expected move has been criticised by Hamas, the militant group, which said it stemmed from fears it would do well at the ballot box. Mr Abbas said he had decided to postpone the July 17 poll to allow time to resolve a dispute over proposed reforms to the voting law. He gave no new date for the election. The delay could stoke tensions between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas, which had been poised to make a strong showing in its first legislative campaign. Hamas had reacted to earlier hints of a delay by accusing Fatah of manoeuvring to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Self-Indulgence Of The American Media And Leftist Establishment

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, dear readers, and friends, I submit to you that this week represents the nadir of responsible thought about the war on terror. We face Islamofascist lunatics who wish to establish Taliban-like tyrannies throughout the Middle East -- and eventually the world -- and who commit real atrocities in their efforts to bring those twisted dreams to fruition. We have seen their videos showing the beheadings of helpless hostages with dull knives, literally sawing off the heads of these victims while alive. They slaughter women and children as indiscriminately as possible. They even blow up Islamic mosques to kill Muslims at prayer. Now we have had two weeks of debate over whether we have mistreated six hundred or so of these terrorists captured on the battlefield, out of uniform, bearing arms against us. What has been the focus of this controversy? Cattle prods and bullwhips...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

No Extra White Smoke At The Vatican

Despite his expressed wishes to the contrary, John Paul the Great's secretary did not burn his personal notes, deeming them too valuable as historical documents for such destruction: Pope John Paul II's longtime private secretary said Saturday he did not burn the late pontiff's notes as his will demanded, arguing that the papers contain "great riches" and should instead be preserved. Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who worked with the pope from 1966 until his death earlier this year, told Polish state radio there are "quite a lot of manuscripts on various issues," but he offered no details. "Nothing has been burned," Dziwisz said. "Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations every single sentence." "These are great riches that should gradually be made available to the public." Personally, this news gladdens my heart. When I first heard that John Paul II...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

We're on the air, talking about Qu'ran abuse and other media nuttiness, at AM 1280 The Patriot. If you're not in the Twin Cities, catch us on our live Internet stream at their website. Call us at 651-289-4488 to join in the conversation. We'll also be talking Deep Throat and the potential connections between the stories. Join us! UPDATE: Kevin McCullough has just joined us -- be sure to tune in!...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Harkin: Christian Broadcasters 'Our Taliban'

Robert Novak reports that stupid statements on Air America aren't limited to the liberal network's hosts. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin appeared on Randi Rhodes' show and called Christian broadcasters "our home-grown Taliban": On the day before Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen was confirmed by the Senate as part of a negotiated compromise, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin called her "wacko." Harkin, appearing on liberal Randi Rhodes's national radio talk show, became animated as he said of Owen: "This is not a person to put on the bench for a lifetime appointment. This person is wacko! She's wacko!" On the same program, Harkin said Christian broadcasters are "sort of our home-grown Taliban." He added: "They have a direct line to God. And if you don't tune into their line, you're obviously on Satan's line." Thus goes the Democratic outreach to the Christian community. In fact, Harkin and Howard Dean have defined...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

NYT's Wayback Machine Takes Editorial Board To 9/10

The New York Times has an editorial for tomorrow's edition that argues for a return to the failed counterterrorism strategies that brought us the 9/11 attacks. Not only does the Gray Lady continue the fortnight-long harangue about Guantanamo Bay, but also insists that the only way to deal with terrorists is through law enforcement: Now that the Bush administration has made clear how offended it is at Amnesty International's word choice in characterizing the Guantnamo Bay detention camp "the gulag of our times," we hope it will soon get around to dealing with the substantive problems that the Amnesty report is only the latest to identify. What Guantnamo exemplifies - harsh, indefinite detention without formal charges or legal recourse - may or may not bring to mind the Soviet Union's sprawling network of Stalinist penal colonies. It certainly has nothing in common with any American notions of justice or the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Europe Collapsing

The one-two punch of rejections by the French and Dutch of the proposed EU constitution has apparently caused former EU stalwarts to rethink the entire project, even as an economic union. After an Italian minister from a fringe party suggested that the lira may replace the euro in Italy, a French colleague of Jacques Chirac predicted a return of the franc. And perhaps the Briton that has been the biggest booster of the EU, Tony Blair, has decided that a united Europe is no longer worth the fight: Tony Blair has given up on Europe as an issue worth fighting for, senior allies of the Prime Minister have told The Sunday Telegraph. A leading Blairite cabinet minister made the admission last night as the European Union descended into deeper turmoil, with doubts surfacing over the future of the single currency. Mr Blair, who will seek to shift the focus of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 5, 2005

Why The Euro May Collapse

Charles Moore explains in today's Telegraph why the Euro may soon disappear, as the political union it hoped to represent has been dashed by two consecutive referenda: In this week of great events in Europe, it was something small that really caught my eye. In an article about the problems of the euro, the German magazine Stern advised readers to check their euro banknotes. The notes issued in Germany, it explained, begin their serial numbers with "X"; those issued in Italy begin with "S". Hold on to the former, was the suggestion, and get rid of the latter while you can. Stern's X-factor advice was based on the idea that the euro zone might break up. When the euro began in 1999, it was glorious for Italy, Spain, Portugal and (prospectively) for Greece. Their interest rates halved. Boom followed. But those countries had not abolished their inflationary habits when they...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Frist: Vindication Will Be Mine ... Someday

Bill Frist gets a close look from the New York Times, complete with snarky photo caption and balanced in that people from both sides take their shots at the Senate Majority Leader. The result is that Frist appears somewhat out of touch with the Senate he leads -- not a terribly inaccurate picture, given what we've seen so far this session: With lawmakers returning from the Memorial Day recess, the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, faces a crucial test of whether he can re-establish his authority after a rapid sequence of events that many say diminished his standing and exposed a lack of experience in Congressional intrigue. Adversaries, independent analysts and even some allies say the Senate leader was wounded by a compromise on judicial nominees achieved last month by a handful of Republicans who bucked him, including Senator John McCain, a potential presidential rival in 2008. The damage to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Wave Of Democratization -- And Bush As Icon -- Reaches Azerbaijan

Another former Soviet republic threatens to join Georgia and Ukraine, with popular demands for democracy and electoral reforms rattling the Azerbaijani authoritarian government. A demonstration of 10,000 in the streets of Baku, on the Caspian Sea, demanded that their parliament enact reforms allowing for free elections to replace the current head of state, who succeeded his father in widely discounted elections two years ago: About 10,000 protesters chanting "Freedom!" marched across Azerbaijan's capital Saturday, urging the government of this U.S. ally to step down and allow free parliamentary elections this year. Some of them carried portraits of President Bush. The rally in Baku was the largest opposition demonstration in the former Soviet republic since October 2003, when one person died and nearly 200 were injured in clashes between police and demonstrators protesting vote-rigging in a presidential election. Tensions have been building in this Caspian Sea nation in the run-up to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

No Wonder The Exempt Media Loves Amnesty International

The Exempt Media's love affair with Amnesty International suddenly become more understandable when AI's executive director, William Schulz, responded to questions about the use of the "gulag" analogy to Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo. When asked to defend its allegation, Schulz said he didn't know that it was accurate, but he also didn't know that it was: Despite highly publicized charges of U.S. mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, the head of the Amnesty International USA said on Sunday the group doesn't "know for sure" that the military is running a "gulag." Executive Director William Schulz said Amnesty, often cited worldwide for documenting human rights abuses, also did not know whether Secretary Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved severe torture methods such as beatings and starvation. Schulz recently dubbed Rumsfeld an "apparent high-level architect of torture" in asserting he approved interrogation methods that violated international law. "It would be fascinating to find out....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 6, 2005

Portrrait Of A Cold, Cruel Man

The Guardian (UK) reports on an interview given by Ludmila Putina that her husband, Vladimir Putin, must have wished he'd never allowed after its publication. Translated from the original Russian version that appeared in the state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Putina paints a portrait of the Russian strong man as a cold, dominating husband with a cruel sense of humor and little capacity for compassion or compromise: In September 2002, the Kremlin's first lady laid out his domestic constitution in a new authorised biography of her husband. She said he had two golden rules about women: "A woman must do everything in the home" and "You should not praise a woman otherwise you will spoil her." The latter rule has apparently forced her to give up one of the key domestic tasks of a Russian women, she added. "He never praises me and that has totally put me off cooking. He is...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Afghani Clerics Strip Mullah Omar Of Authority

In the Muslim world, as opposed to Catholocism and some Protestant sects, the lack of a central authority for reference and authentication has made it difficult to declare clerics as radical or extreme. Clerics attract their own followings, and have the authority to make their own proclamations, and even the opposition of a number of other clerics doesn't necessarily negate the actions of the single cleric. However, when hundreds of clerics band together to make a declaration, it does carry some weight. That's exactly what has happened in Afghanistan, where 600 Muslim clerics announced that Mullah Omar has been stripped of all spiritual authority, with another 400 signatories from other regions: A crowd of 600 Afghan clerics gathered in front of an historic mosque yesterday to strip the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar of his claim to religious authority, in a ceremony that provided a significant boost to the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iran Waiting For An Opening?

With the United States holding a WTO membership as a carrot, the Iranians have offered to maintain their delay on uranium enrichment until the end of July, giving the Europeans a few more weeks to reach a deal with them on nuclear non-proliferation: Iran said it will extend its suspension of uranium enrichment until the end of July to give European negotiators time to prepare a proposal it can accept, but Tehran also warned against wasting the opportunity to strike a deal. The announcement Sunday followed Iran's agreement last month to review a European Union proposal for a new round of negotiations in the summer. Tehran's decision injects some breathing space into the international crisis over its nuclear program, at least temporarily. ... Aghamohammadi called on the Europeans to firm up the agreement reached between Iran and the Europeans last November in Paris, which committed Tehran to suspension of enrichment...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Kuwait Names Two Women To Government Posts

Kuwait recently granted women suffrage, one of the last nations that holds regular elections to do so. Almost immediately, the Kuwaiti government has made good on its efforts, naming two women to government posts ahead of any election: Kuwait named two women to public office for the first time Sunday, less than a month after parliament passed a historic law granting women the right to vote and run for office. Fatema Al Sabah, a member of the royal family and an engineer, and Fawzia al-Bahr, also an engineer, were named along with four other newly appointment members to the 16-member municipal council, Kuwait's prime minister told the official Kuwait News Agency. The other 10 members, all men, are elected. After the suffrage law was amended to insist on the application of shari'a law to womens' votes, no one was quite sure whether the government meant the action as anything more...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

French Socialists In Disarray Apres Non

The Guardian (UK) reports that French Socialists have expelled former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and several of his allies after he campaigned vigorously for the 'Non' vote in last week's EU debacle: France's Socialists were in crisis yesterday after Laurent Fabius, the former prime minister, was unceremoniously ejected from the leadership for having broken the party line and championed the victorious no vote in last weekend's referendum on the EU constitution. Mr Fabius, the Socialists' number two, and four of his chief lieutenants were ousted from the party's 20-strong national secretariat at a stormy six-hour meeting in a Paris hotel one week after 55% of French voters rejected the constitution, triggering a government reshuffle in France and plunging the union into disarray. "Disarray" may be putting it mildly. Fabius touched a nerve on the French Left when he stumped for Non on the basis that it would force the French...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Kurtz: Did Watergate Spoil Journalism?

Howard Kurtz has an excellent, introspective look at the lessons the Exempt Media should learn from the exposure of Mark Felt as Deep Throat in his column for today's Washington Post. Rather than lionize Felt and wax reminiscent about journalism's biggest gotcha, Kurtz looks at the damage that the glorification of anonymous sourcing has done to his craft: Newspapermen became cinematic heroes, determined diggers who advanced the cause of truth by meeting shadowy sources in parking garages, and journalism schools were flooded with aspiring sleuths and crusaders. But the media's reputation since then has sunk like a stone, and one reason is that some in the next generation of reporters pumped up many modest flaps into scandals ending in "gate," sometimes using anonymous sources who turned out to be less than reliable. Journalism became a more confrontational, even prosecutorial business, with some of its practitioners automatically assuming that politicians in...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

SCOTUS Harshes Everyone's Mellow

The Supreme Court dealt a body blow to medical marijuana advocates this morning by ruling that the federal ban on consumption trumps more liberal laws approved by individual states: Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors orders, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state medical marijuana laws dont protect users from a federal ban on the drug. The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drugs use to treat various illnesses. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana. In this case, Stevens argues for judicial restraint and conservatism. The court could easily have declared for state's rights and invalidated the ban enacted by Congress and its agency, the FDA. Instead, he avoided the entire issue of the merits or lack thereof...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Liberal MP Leaves, Martin Back At Square One

After gaining a seat in a critical by-election in Labrador, Paul Martin has returned to square one with a critical defection today by Pat O'Brien. O'Brien won't join the Tories but will instead stand a an independent, but specifically mentioned the Adscam scandal as a reason for his decision: Liberal MP Pat O'Brien, who opposes his party's position on gay marriage, says he's quitting the Grits to sit as an Independent. ... In April, he decided to stick with the Liberals after Prime Minister Paul Martin promised expanded debate of the marriage bill. But O'Brien said the "full and fair'' debate he expected has not happened. His discomfort with the party had also been growing with each revelation of malfeasance from the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal. It sounds as if O'Brien will be reluctant to support the Liberals if another no-confidence motion gets tabled in Parliament. This brings...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Live-8 Live Blog!

I'm taking part in the Live-8 conference call with Sir Bob Geldof about the pressing need for aid to Africa, having been invited by John Hinderaker and Joe Trippi. Sir Bob is talking with a number of bloggers despite having the flu. This is part of the Make Poverty History campaign. 12:13 - Sir Bob is giving us a history of his involvement in ending world hunger, a compelling story about personal and emotional connections to the problem. He wants to make sure that hunger doesn't become a Right/Left issue but that bipartisan efforts need to be made to keep people from starving to death ... 12:17 - The idea is to get the G8 to make Africa a high priority. Africa is the only region that continues to decline ... 12:18 - Sir Bob talks very quickly, and it's hard to keep up. However, this is being recorded so...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Washington Court Upholds Democratic Victory Despite Irregularities

A judge has denied a challenge to the election of Christine Gregoire as Governor in Washington despite finding irregularities of more than ten times the eventual margin of victory. John Bridges ruled that since no one could show with certainty how those voters voted, the election must stand as last counted: Gov. Christine Gregoire's narrow 2004 election victory was upheld this morning by a judge who said Republicans failed to show that voting problems in King County and elsewhere were the reason Gregoire won by 129 votes. ... Bridges said there was evidence that 1,678 illegal votes were cast in the 2004 election, including 1,391 votes by felons. However Bridges said there was no evidence that Gregoire benefitted from the illegal votes. Bridges said there was also no evidence of misconduct by election workers or that the probems with the election were the result of "partisan bias." The judge said...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Gurmant's Envelope Brings A Sudden Vacation

The controversy surrounding taped conversations between Tory MP Gurmant Grewal and Liberal Party leaders just got stranger tonight. Grewal has suddenly left for a leave of absence following an altercation at the airport that saw the MP attempting to get an envelope past security by asking other passengers to carry it for him: The Tory MP at the centre of a surreptitiously taped effort to make a deal with the Liberals is taking a stress leave from his parliamentary duties after Air Canada launched an investigation of incident at Vancouver airport. Gurmant Grewal was spotted in a waiting area Saturday asking passengers to carry a package to Ottawa for him, said an airline source. ... A union official said Mr. Grewal had earlier gone to an Air Canada ticket agent to ask if he could arrange for someone to carry a package to Ottawa aboard flight 166 on Saturday. He...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 7, 2005

I Love Hate To Say I Told You So ...

Do you remember when the 9/11 Commission released its final report, which contained a narrative of the attacks, an analysis of how the various intelligence and defense systems failed us, and recommendations for improvement? My final analysis was that the overall report merited a C-; an A for the narrative, a low-end C for the analysis, and a solid F for the recommendations. I warned that the solution that the Commission insisted on imposing amounted to nothing more than sticking two more levels of bureaucracy on top of all the existing alphabet soup of intelligence services, and that such an approach would do nothing towards solving the lack of communication between the agencies. In fact, I warned, it would make it worse. It didn't take long for that analysis to be proven correct: Overlapping responsibilities among U.S. intelligence agencies could lead to failures in assessing terrorism threats, experts said Monday...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Did Kerry Turn Over Full File To The Boston Globe?

The Boston Globe claims this morning that John Kerry has finally made his entire service record publicly available, at least to them. Michael Kranish, who wrote unquestioning articles about Kerry's service in Viet Name before and during the presidential campaign, proclaims that the release vindicates Kerry -- but even Kranish can't add up why Kerry kept the file secret: Senator John F. Kerry, ending at least two years of refusal, has waived privacy restrictions and authorized the release of his full military and medical records. The records, which the Navy Personnel Command provided to the Globe, are mostly a duplication of what Kerry released during his 2004 campaign for president, including numerous commendations from commanding officers who later criticized Kerry's Vietnam service. The lack of any substantive new material about Kerry's military career in the documents raises the question of why Kerry refused for so long to waive privacy restrictions....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Liberal MPs Considered Toppling Martin To Stop Gender-Neutral Marriage

Americans do not realize the extent to which gender-neutral marriage remains controversial in Canada, having been fed a steady diet of harangues by the Left and the media about Canada's easy acceptance of the practice. In fact, the issue carries such controversy that the party that championed it had dozens of MPs so unhappy about its spread that they briefly considered bringing down their own government to stop it: Last Thursday morning in an office in the historic East Block, a dozen Liberal MPs opposed to the same-sex marriage bill met to plot its demise, and for a fleeting instant spoke about killing their own government as a means to an end. It was an extraordinary meeting in which the MPs discussed strategy, talked of ways to stall the bill and tossed out various scenarios. They even spoke about the possibility of supporting the Conservatives on a no-confidence motion to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

A CQ-DC Working Vacation

I will be taking a working vacation, so to speak, the first week of July in Washington, DC. Neither the First Mate nor I have ever been to DC before, and thanks to some clever timing and some excellent rates, we have decided to celebrate Independence Day in our first visit to our nation's Capitol. The clever timing comes courtesy of the Heritage Foundation. I have been invited to give a speech at Heritage on my experiences covering the Canadian Adscam scandal as part of a review of blogs and their impact on media and politics. The other participants in the panel have yet to be finalized, but Jim Hill, managing editor of the Washington Post Writers Group, will be among them. Mark Tapscott, of Tapscott's Copy Desk, is the Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at Heritage and extended the invitation. More information will come directly...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Defeatists Take Over Ground Zero

Michelle Malkin has a must-read expos about how Leftist defeatists have taken over Ground Zero remembrances. The culprits? Human Rights First, the ACLU, Eric Foner -- the Columbia U professor who called for "a million Mogadishus" -- and of course, George Soros. Read the whole thing. UPDATE: From CQ readers Chris M and Ric J, Nicholas DeGenova made the "million Mogadishus" comment. Foner organized the event but had no idea that DeGenova would make that comment and did not condone it. My apologies to Eric Foner for the error....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

CQ On MS-NBC Today (Updated With Press Conference Notes)

I will be appearing today on MS-NBC's Connected Coast to Coast with hosts Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley at 4 pm CDT. Appearing opposite will be Michael Goeltz (sp?) from Americablog. We'll be discussing aid to Africa, the Middle East, the war on terror, and other issues we expect to be coming out of the Bush/Blair press conference this afternoon. I'll have more for you later. UPDATE: Yes, this was my first time on national TV, and no, my face did not freeze like that naturally. Obviously, I need to work a bit on the screen presence. Apart from that, it was a lot of fun, and the folks at MS-NBC and the local studio here in Minneapolis treated me very kindly. It's an odd experience; it's akin to being locked in a closet and pretending you're talking to millions of people, which in fact is almost exactly what's happening....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Dean Plays Race Card

Howard Dean continued his self-immolation as DNC chair yesterday, telling a San Francisco audience that the GOP was nothing more than a "white Christian party", and then claimed he was just being "tough": Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, unapologetic in the face of recent criticism that he has been too tough on his political opposition, said in San Francisco this week that Republicans are "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party." "The Republicans are not very friendly to different kinds of people," Dean said Monday, responding to a question about diversity during a forum with minority leaders and journalists. "We're more welcoming to different folks, because that's the type of people we are. But that's not enough. We do have deliver on things: jobs and housing and business opportunities." Howard's last broadside, that Republicans never...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Old Europe Finds Way To Blame Britain

In the debacle caused by the collapse of the EU constitution, the EU elite have already begun to look for a scapegoat on which to shift blame, and avoid it themselves. They appear to have found it in Britain, as the architects of the EU now blame the UK's rebate for the political crisis instead of the flawed constitution or the heavy-handed elite that attempted to stuff it down Europe's throat: European leaders lined up behind a plot to ambush Tony Blair yesterday, threatening to blame him for the spiralling European Union crisis unless Britain "saves Europe" by surrendering its multi-billion pound annual rebate. One after the other, European premiers fell in line with a Franco-German plan to portray the rebate as the sticking point that is blocking a "miracle" last-minute agreement on the size and scope of the bloc's plans for the next five years. As ministers and officials...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 8, 2005

Great Moments In Border Control

Question: If you're a border guard for a country at war with terrorists and you stop someone who has in his possession a homemade sword, brass knuckles, a hatchet, and a chainsaw which looks like blood all over it, what do you do? A. Shoot the man on sight. B. Arrest him and call for a psychiatrist. C. Take his weapons and welcome him to America. Apparently, choice C is American policy for security. A border guard in Maine made that decision and allowed a double murderer across the border in order to flee the scene: Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Maine, on April 25 carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chain saw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres. Then they let him into the United States. The next...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Saddam's London Embassy Stockpiled Arms

For Brits who have spent most of the last three years protesting on behalf of the Saddam regime, the discovery of a major arms cache at the abandoned Iraqi embassy in London should force them to reconsider their opposition to his removal from power. London police have discovered not only firearms, but also bugging devices and even cattle prods in the safes within the empty building: A cache of guns, bugging devices and other equipment has been discovered at Iraqs abandoned embassy in Britain, the countrys newly appointed ambassador said on Wednesday. Scotland Yard confirmed a number of firearms had been recovered from the embassy in an upmarket area of southwest London but declined to say when. The guns could be explained as necessary for embassy security, but the cattle prods and the cameras and bugging devices reveal a different use of the embassy than most Londoners know. The bugging...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

American Jihadis

Police have arrested a father and son and two other men in a counterterrorist roundup in Lodi, California. The pair, US citizens, face charges of lying to federal investigators but remain in custody under suspicion of operating an al-Qaeda sleeper cell: A father and son were in custody Wednesday after federal authorities arrested the U.S. citizens when the younger man allegedly confessed that he attended an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan to learn how to kill Americans. Hamid Hayat and his father, Umer Hayat, 47, were arrested Sunday on charges of lying to federal agents and appeared in court Tuesday. According to prosecutors, Hamid Hayat trained with explosives and other weapons, using photographs of President Bush and other political leaders as targets. The Sacramento Bee reported his age as 22; the Los Angeles Times said he is 23. Umer Hayat was charged in the complaint with lying about his sons involvement...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

More Unusual Demographics In Media Polling

I have often written about the suspect adjustments made to the sampling on CBS polls, which skew the results so that they put the Bush administration and the Republicans in a harsher light than the raw data indicates. While the new Washington Post/ABC poll doesn't appear to employ the same "weighting" technique that CBS used to shift its demographics to give the Democrats a four-point edge that its sample didn't support, the Post/ABC sample itself appears very suspect. First, the results of the poll tend to show that the GOP has absorbed the brunt of frustration with the lack of progress on legislation and judicial nominations. Dana Milbank and Claudia Deane also note that the poll shows for the first time that a majority of adults do not believe that removing Saddam Hussein has made them any safer: For the first time since the war in Iraq began, more than...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Harper: Unhappy Grits Hold Fate Of Gov't

Stephen Harper acknowledged that the Tories had slipped in recent polling back to pre-Gomery levels this afternoon, a development that some predict will take the steam out of the no-confidence movement that had energized the Commons for the past month. However, Harper put the onus on Liberals to hold the government accountable for its transgressions, claiming that he has done all that he can: The fate of the government lies in the hands of disgruntled Liberals, not opposition parties, when upcoming confidence votes reach Parliament next week, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said Wednesday. Speaking with reporters following his party's weekly caucus meeting in Ottawa, Mr. Harper said the Conservatives will do whatever we can to make sure its MPs are in the House of Commons when a pair of key budget bills come forward next week. He said, however, that the final outcome will lie with members of the Liberal...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Irrationality The Norm From The Left On Janice Rogers Brown

The Washington Post reported today that after the rhetoric of "saving the Republic" and the schadenfreude of watching Bill Frist slowly roast over criticism from his base, the bloom may be off the judicial-compromise rose among the Left. Many have begun to complain that the Democratic centrists allowed the most objectionable jurists of President Bush's nominees to proceed to a floor vote in return for the right to block less-objectionable choices, and their favorite case is Janice Rogers Brown: Democrats generally cheered, and Republicans groused, when a bipartisan group of senators crafted a compromise on judicial nominations last month. But with the Senate now confirming several conservative nominees whom Democrats had blocked for years, some liberals are questioning the wisdom of the deal and fretting about what comes next. "Our problem with the compromise is the price that was paid," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said yesterday. She and other...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Another Canadian Publication Ban

During the time I reported on the Gomery Inquiry testimony of Jean Brault in defiance of the publication ban, I received many e-mails thanking me for the effort -- but I also received a few that expressed opposition to its publication on my blog. A few of those tended to be nationalistic, but the rest politely questioned my motives for defying the ban. They argued persuasively that the ban had intended to protect the upcoming trials of Brault, Coffin, and Guit from being derailed by information tainting the jury pool, and/or interfering with the rights of the defendants to receive a fair trial in the court instead of by the press. Needless to say, although some of those arguments were undeniably eloquent, I disagreed with their basic premise that citizens could not tell the difference between evidence presented in court and hearsay reports in a newspaper. Nevertheless, I also conceded...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Modern Scientific Method: Cheating

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports tonight on a disturbing revelation in the world of research science. The University of Minnesota recently surveyed American research scientists and found that a third of them regularly broke rules and ethical guidelines meant to certify the validity of the research, including changing the results based on pressure from donors: One in three U.S. scientists admitted in an anonymous survey that they committed scientific misconduct in the previous three years, according to a report by a team of Minnesota researchers. While falsifying research is uncommon, the survey found that 33 percent of scientists admitted breaking rules, large and small, that are supposed to ensure the honesty of their work, the authors report in the British journal Nature. The types of misbehavior range from claiming credit for someone else's work, to changing results because of pressure from the sponsor. "Our findings suggest that U.S. scientists engage in...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iran Faces Soccer Riots After World Cup Win

Reuters reports massive celebrations and rioting in Teheran and elsewhere in Iran after the Islamic Republic's soccer team won a place in the World Cup finals by beating archrival Bahrain earlier today. The blog Regime Change Iran has posted a number of reports by its internal sources that claim the celebrations have transformed into political demonstrations that threaten to topple the mullahcracy, either by accident or design: Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets of the capital Tehran after the match, filling the night air with volleys of firecrackers, whistles and horns. State media reported similar scenes in cities across the country. "Hello victory, hello World Cup. Iran is on its way to Germany," said Mohammad Reza Sadeghi, a shopkeeper in eastern Tehran. Some took the opportunity to flout the Islamic state's strict moral codes. Young men and women danced together in the streets and some women briefly...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 9, 2005

Iraqi Government To Meet Sunni Native Insurgents

The transitional Iraqi government will have its first formal meeting with representatives of the native Sunni insurgency in hopes of reaching an amnesty or other arrangement to quiet the violence and bring more Sunnis into the political process. Not only would such an agreement result in fewer civilian deaths, but it would also ironically hasten the rebuilding of Iraq and allow the foreign troops to leave the country quicker: Iraq's new government plans to hold its first official meeting as early as tomorrow with members of the Sunni resistance in an effort to end the brutal violence that has left hundreds of civilians dead across the country. Representatives of Sunni insurgent forces from the restive western al-Anbar province plan to sit down with members of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's government tomorrow or Saturday, an Iraqi official said on the condition of anonymity. Experts are not eager to predict whether the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Who Took Their Eyes Off Of The Western Pacific, And Why?

The Washington Times reports that the CIA has missed the rapid expansion of the Chinese military over the past ten years, raising questions once again about the effectiveness of the nation's intelligence infrastructure. Starting in the mid-90s, the Chinese expansion of their submarine, missile, and other defense technologies has created "surprise" at Langley, a word that has come up a lot lately at CIA headquarters: A highly classified intelligence report produced for the new director of national intelligence concludes that U.S. spy agencies failed to recognize several key military developments in China in the past decade, The Washington Times has learned. The report was created by several current and former intelligence officials and concludes that U.S. agencies missed more than a dozen Chinese military developments, according to officials familiar with the report. The report blames excessive secrecy on China's part for the failures, but critics say intelligence specialists are to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Jesse Helms Remains Clueless

For Republicans around the country, the retirement of Jesse Helms has allowed many to breathe a little easier since 2003. While Helms' stalwart positions on foreign policy provided America much-needed backbone, especially in relation to the United Nations, his domestic views often caused unnecessary controversy and embarrassment. Helms routinely fell back into name-calling on AIDS and gay-rights issues and never renounced his segregationist past. Neither of these helped the GOP in reaching out to traditionally Democratic populations and made achieving majority status substantially more difficult than it had to be. Now Helms will publish his memoirs, "Here's Where I Stand," intending on setting the record straight. He apologizes for his earlier remarks on AIDS, but still refuses to back down on his opposition to the civil-rights movement: In his upcoming memoir, former Sen. Jesse Helms acknowledges he was wrong about the AIDS epidemic but believes integration was forced before its...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Boston Union Corruption Exposed As Child's Play

Massachusetts has launched an investigation into corruption in a Boston longshoreman's union as investigators discovered falsified records of employment, listing children as young as two years old as dock workers. Union officials apparently issued worker cards to their children and grandchildren in order to build up their seniority and increase their wages and access to jobs when they became old enough to work: The state is investigating allegations that longshoremens union locals in Boston have placed children as young as 2 on the payroll in a scheme to give them higher wages as adult dockworkers. Massachusetts Port Authority officials have turned their records over to Attorney General Thomas Reillys office and the State Police, said Kurt Schwartz, chief of the attorney general offices criminal bureau. Reillys office has launched a grand jury probe. Because seniority is determined by when a union member first receives a union card, regardless of the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Lipscomb: Kerry Did Not Release All Records

Thomas Lipscomb weighs in on the supposed release of the entire John Kerry military file to the Boston Globe in today's Chicago Sun-Times. Lipscomb reminds his readers that the SF-180 is not a magic bullet, and that the scope of release depends on how the form was filled out: "There is nothing magic about signing a SF 180," said former Naval Judge Advocate General Mark Sullivan. "It is sort of like your checkbook. You can fill out a check for one dollar or a million. It is the same check form." "And the Globe story says Kerry sent it to the Navy Personnel Command, which is only a limited storage location. So it is not surprising that the Globe then notes that what they received was largely 'duplication' of records previously released. The Navy Personnel Command primarily stores a subset of service records rather than a person's full military records....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Did Amnesty International Call For Kidnapping Of American Leaders? (Updated)

John Leo wrote earlier this week about the ridiculous Amnesty International assertion that Guantanamo Bay has become the "gulag of our time" in the statement issued by AI's Secretary-General Irene Khan, in his column about Stories Not Told. The "gulag" analogy has received the thorough thrashing it deserved from bloggers and even some in the media. However, according to Leo at the end of his column, AI also issued a press release accompanying their annual report that the media mostly ignored. In that release, Amnesty International apparently called for other nations to kidnap George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and other American officials and haul them off to the ICC for prosecution on charges of crimes against humanity: A different omission marred the reporting of Amnesty International's report charging torture in U.S. detainment camps. The group didn't just call Guantanamo a "gulag," an over-the-top remark that was universally reported. In a press...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Last Of The Guaranteed Trio Gets Confirmed

The final member of the three judges guaranteed an up-or-down vote for their confirmations to the federal appellate court has been confirmed. William Pryor, who had already started serving on the court due to a recess appointment, won confirmation by a 53-45 vote in today's Senate session: With a vote of 53-45, Pryor was approved for 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Atlanta-based court that handles federal appeals from Alabama, Georgia and Florida. President Bush gave Pryor a recess appointment in February 2004 after Democrats filibustered his confirmation. That appointment would have ended this year if Pryor had not been confirmed by the Senate. The Senate has confirmed three of President Bush's most-wanted appellate nominees in less than three weeks after a deal struck by Senate centrists looking to avoid a partisan battle over judicial filibusters. Three Republicans voted against Pryor's confirmation, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins and Lincoln Chafee,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

'They Murdered My Brother Without Regard'

I have followed the tragic and infuriating case of Robert McCartney, murdered by thugs in a Belfast pub by a group of men while several onlookers witnessed the killing. His sisters and family have stood up to threats and bribes to insist on justice for Robert -- in fact, the McCartneys have begun developing a website at www.justiceforrobert.org. Earlier today I received a letter from Gemma McCartney, one of Robert's sisters, in response to a post I wrote noting that arrests had finally been made in connection with her brother's murder. With her permission, I'm posting this as an open letter.. They murdered my brother without regard - Do they think that does not hurt? It breaks my heart. They thought could walk away because they had the shield of the IRA. But the IRA is a more educated animal than these beasts, and true Republicans have seen through their...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 10, 2005

The Devil Makes Him Do It?

After some disarray on how to handle their out-of-control party chairman, leading Democrats have finally arrived at a strategy to unite behind Howard Dean and his overactive mouth. They now blame the right-wing elements within the media for overreacting to his statements for reporting Dean's comments: The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate yesterday blamed "the right wing" and elements of the press "in service to it" for repeating Howard Dean's remarks about Republicans and inflating them out of proportion. "I think we all understand what's happening with you all," said Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, in remarks echoing Hillary Rodham Clinton's blaming a "vast right-wing conspiracy" for her husband's legal-ethical woes. "The right wing has got the agenda moving. Fox [News Channel] and everybody's got the agenda. It's all about Howard Dean. You've bought into it," Mr. Durbin said. "You can't let up on it. You ought to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Report: The Five Missed Chances Of The FBI

A report now being released due to the Zacarias Moussaoui trial determined that the FBI had five opportunities to find out about the 9/11 attacks before they happened, but that systemic problems and a lack of urgency led the agency to miss them. The report mirrors the findings of Congress and the 9/11 Commission, but brings to light the shortcomings of the FBI, which escaped most of the post-attack criticism: The F.B.I. missed at least five chances in the months before Sept. 11, 2001, to find two hijackers as they prepared for the attacks and settled in San Diego, the Justice Department inspector general said in a report made public on Thursday after being kept secret for a year. Investigators were stymied by bureaucratic obstacles, communication breakdowns and a lack of urgency, the report said. The blistering findings mirror those of the independent Sept. 11 commission last summer and a...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Bush's Shot Across Assad's Bow

The Bush administration sent a message to Syrian strongman Bashar Assad that the former opthalmologist could not help but see, if he keeps his eyes open. A "senior administration official" told at least two media outlets yesterday that the US has credible intelligence of Syrian plans to assassinate Lebanese leaders in their new, free electoral system: The United States has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation," a senior administration official said Thursday. The official said that the information had come from "a variety of Lebanese sources" and that "we assess it as credible." The information, he said, was gathered after the recent assassinations of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February, and of Samir Kassir, a well-known journalist, a week ago. ... The...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

WaPo's Leibovich Panders To The Dems New Dean Spin

In my first post today, I pointed out that the elected Democratic leadership has decided on a "blame the messenger" strategy in answering Howard Dean's critics, rather than disassociate themselves from his hate-filled rants. One would expect the media to take offense at Dick Durbin's notion that journalists reporting Dean's comments verbatim somehow become right-wing hacks. However, Mark Leibovich of the Washington Post takes up Durbin's banner and attempts to make him sound reasonable: It was a scalding day on Capitol Hill yesterday, and that includes tempers. Things got particularly hot during a photo op in the office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after the minority leader and his Senate deputies completed a 17-minute meeting with the hot-tongued Howard Dean. About 60 reporters and cameramen attempted to shove their way into an office equipped to handle about 20. The resulting spectacle offered yet another distillation of why so many people...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Shafer's Takedown At Slate

If you want to know why I think Jack Shafer is one of the best media critics working within the Exempt Media, take a look at his column yesterday answering Peter Landesman's rebuttal to an earlier critique. Landesman had written an article on sex slaves in the US for the New York Times Magazine that alleged that 30-50,000 women were being held against their will for sexual exploitation in America. Shafer had critiqued it in Slate, questioning the numbers and the methodology used to produce them. Landesman responded with a snarky and hyperbolic open letter that Slate reproduced as the first part of Shafer's sur-rebuttal: Mr. Shafer formulates his latest set of complaints not as an argument with me but with the victims. "Because sexual slavery is the most depraved form of involuntary servitude," Mr. Shafer writes, "one would expect that if sex slaves existed in the numbers Landesman, Bales,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Expert: Grewal Tapes Clean

An audio expert retained by the Conservative Party to assess the original Grewal tapes of conversations between the MP and several members of Liberal Party leadership pronounced the tapes as unaltered and unedited this morning: An audio expert hired by the federal Conservative party says the final full versions of Gurmant Grewal's tapes have not been altered. The Tories released a letter from audio engineer Randy Dash that says the tapes, which have been handed over to the RCMP, appear to be clean and unaltered. The Tories made a mistake in releasing portions of the audio rather than the entire tapes. The experts who previously analyzed the recordings and found edits and gaps worked from copies, and in some cases digitized copies, of the originals rather than from the originals themselves. While some will point out that Dash worked for the Tories to question his credibility, the willingness of the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Islamists Infiltrate Oakland Tribune?

Little Green Footballs has a breaking story this morning related to the arrests of alleged members of an Islamist terror cell in Lodi, California earlier this week. Today's Oakland Tribune runs a typical celebration-of-multiculturalism article that inevitably accompanies such arrests in American cities. Entitled "Area Mosques Should Not Engender Fear", Tribune staff writer Sajid Farooq explains why mosques present no danger to American communities: After at least five Lodi men, including two imams, were detained by the FBI, the makeup of community mosques falls under the curious eye of the public. But despite suspicions and fears of backlash, several members of the Bay Area Muslim community said mosques though sometimes isolated from the communities they are in are not strange places to be feared. Hatem Bazian, a lecturer in Near Eastern studies and ethnic studies with a specialty in Islamic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, said...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Confidence Decline Self-Explanatory At E&P

A new Gallup poll shows that public confidence in media outlets have hit an all-time low, a result that should surprise no one after the debacles of Eason's Fables, the CBS-Rather hoax on Bush's National Guard service, and Newsweek's Qu'ran-flushing fumble. Even absent those egregious examples of the media's attempted manipulations of events and facts to further their political agendas, the constant exposure of double standards and hyperbole masquerading as reporting has taught the American public to distrust any single source of news. One small example of this last problem comes in the reporting of the poll itself in today's on-line Editor & Publisher. Check out the use of language when comparing the declines of strong confidence between the media and the presidency in E&P's reporting (emphases mine): Those having a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in newspapers dipped from 30% to 28% in one year, the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Nuclear Blueprints Missing From UN? (Updated, With Cautions)

The Guardian and the Canada Free Press reports that blueprints for nuclear centrifuges, complete with multilanguage assembly instructions, have disappeared from the United Nations' and IAEA Vienna headquarters. The blueprints could easily guide anyone through the process of building the necessary centrifuges required to refine uranium into weapons-grade material: [E]lectronic drawings that give comprehensive details of how to build and test equipment essential for making nuclear bombs have vanished from the UN and UN investigators are saying they could show up sale anytime on the international black market. The blueprints, running to hundreds of pages, show how to make centrifuges for enriching uranium. In addition, the investigators have been unable to trace key components for uranium centrifuge rigs and fear that drawings for a nuclear warhead have been secreted away and could be for sale. ... A senior official said several sets of blueprints for uranium centrifuges - the so-called...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

G7 Approves $55 Billion Debt Reduction For Poor Nations

After years of trying to come to an agreement to assist the most destitute nations out of an endless cycle of poverty, the G7 has finally agreed on a plan to bail the lowliest countries out by forgiving $55 billion of debt. The move involves both the World Bank and the IMF, going beyond the agreement reached between George Bush and Tony Blair earlier this week in Washington, DC: Eighteen of the world's poorest countries will have their debts to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund wiped out as part of a $55bn (30.4bn) package agreed today by the G7 leading economies. After weeks of intense negotiations, a deal brokered by the chancellor, Gordon Brown, will save countries such as Mozambique and Ethiopia a total of $15bn in debt payments over the next 10 years. The Treasury said last night that a further nine countries would qualify for...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 11, 2005

Democrats See Bolton Compromise, Raise The Ante

How can you tell when a negotiating partner acts in bad faith? When their demands escalate every time you suggest a compromise. The Senate Democrats have done exactly that in their fight to extend the filibuster on the confirmation of John Bolton to the United Nations. After seeing Pat Roberts try to get the White House to confirm that Bolton had not used his access to check on a short list of names, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd countered by adding more names to the list: Senate Democrats have prepared a list of approximately three dozen "names of concern" and are asking the Bush administration for assurances that John R. Bolton did not misuse his access to highly classified intelligence to seek information about them. ... A copy of the letter was provided to The New York Times by a Congressional Democrat. A Republican Congressional official expressed surprise at the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

G&M Poll: Status Quo Ante Gomery

Today's new poll from the Globe & Mail contains mixed news for the Conservative Party and Stephen Harper. On one hand, the Decima poll appears to have been an outlier, as the new poll shows that the parties stand about where they did before the Gomery Inquiry broke wide open. On the other, it also shows that Harper has lost significant ground with the Canadian electorate during that period: A Globe and Mail-CTV survey, conducted by the Strategic Counsel this week, also finds that, while Liberal support remains relatively stagnant since the week of the historic May 19 confidence vote, the Conservatives have dropped four percentage points and are the choice of 26 per cent of voters, eight points behind the Liberals at 34. Perhaps the most significant results are those measuring Canadians' attitudes to their federal leaders, particularly Mr. Harper. Compared with May 8, Mr. Harper's leadership has taken...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Difference Between Fanatical Idiocy And Rationality ...

... is that we don't ululate and demand a World Court trial whenever people do pointless crap like this (via Gateway Pundit and Michelle Malkin): However, we might prosecute the three or four adults who forced a young boy to display his genitalia for the delight of the sickos in the crowd in this photograph. Makes one wonder, doesn't it? Why didn't one of the grown men drain the lizard instead? (Or why didn't the men encourage one of the women to drop trou?) I did like this next photograph, which prompted one of Gateway Pundit's commenters to ask if the Indian Muslims thought Allah suffered from senility: Does Allah need a reminder? Do the Muslims in Mumbai think it slipped Allah's mind? I hope Newsweek is covering this event. After all, they did help stage it. Perhaps, as Michelle Malkin suggests, they can even use that first picture as...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Maryland Dems: Dean Has More Authority On Race Than Michael Steele?

The Maryland Democratic Party wants Lt. Governor and GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele to apologize for endorsing a book that encourages Republicans to challenge Democrats for African-American votes, describing the author as "divisive". Meanwhile, they refuse to call for Howard Dean to apologize for statements from his own mouth about Republicans being racist: The Maryland Democratic Party is calling for an apology from Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for endorsing a book by an author who accuses Democrats of exploiting blacks but is declining to seek an apology from national party Chairman Howard Dean for describing Republicans as a 'white Christian party.' 'I don't think there is a double standard,' said Derek Walker, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman, who has initiated a petition drive for Mr. Steele's apology, was unavailable for comment yesterday. The book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, reminds...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

You Mean The Filibuster Isn't The Center Of The Republic? (Updates Galore)

I want to note that the phrase "quaint Southern tradition" is unfair; lynching was a "quaint American tradition", as a number of people have told me via e-mail and comments, including a few here in the Upper Midwest. Six Meat Buffet weighs in on that and a few other points. And when Beth, Preston, and Rick tell you you're drunk ... well, it might be time to give the keys up for the evening.

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Upcoming CQ Events

I'm taking a break at the Northern Alliance remote at White Bear Lake Superstore, which we just found out isn't being streamed to the Internet due to technical problems at the studio. Please accept our apologies for the problem; it apparently won't get fixed today. While I'm taking a break, I want to remind everyone that I will be speaking at Coffman Union at the University of Minnesota on June 15th, starting at 7:00 PM. My appearance is being sponsored by CFACT, and I will be discussing the New Media and its impact on politics and the news media. I'll have a Q&A after the speech, which is what I like best. If you're in town, please join us. Speaking of being in or out of town, I'll be traveling to Washington DC for Independence Day with family. While there, I will be on a panel at the Heritage Foundation...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Tyson Goes Out With The Same Class As Always

Mike Tyson lost again tonight, for the third time in four fights, this time to an unknown Irish fighter named Kevin McBride. For those of us who have watched Tyson fight during his entire career, he appeared to end his career with the same level of class that he exuded during the rest of it. When his punches didn't intimidate his opponent, he resorted to deliberate fouling to sabotage the fight: Mike Tyson's career apparently ended in yet another shocker Saturday night when he quit on the stool after taking a beating in a foul-filled sixth round against unheralded Kevin McBride. Tyson lost for the third time in his last four fights, and once again he faded badly as the rounds went on before deliberately head butting McBride in a desperate attempt to end the fight in the sixth round. ... The 38-year-old Tyson was a huge favorite over McBride...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 12, 2005

Kuwait Suffrage Accelerates

The Kuwaitis may take their time to bring modern justice and civil rights to their society, but they act quickly once they make up their minds. Barely a month after legalizing the vote for women, the Kuwaiti government has appointed its first woman to its Cabinet: The Kuwaiti government has appointed its first female Cabinet minister, a month after lawmakers in this oil-rich nation granted women the right to vote and run for office, state-owned television reported Sunday. Political science teacher Massouma al-Mubarak, a women's rights activist and columnist, was given the planning and administrative development portfolios, Prime Minister Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah was quoted as saying. "I'm happy," al-Mubarak, 54, told The Associated Press. "This honor is not bestowed on my person but on every woman who fought to prove that Kuwaiti women are capable." To give readers a sense of perspective, after achieving national suffrage in...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Tennis And Gambling: A Love Match?

Most professional sports learned decades ago to keep professional gamblers at arm's length from the players in order to maintain the credibility of the sport. The most famous scandal of all sports, the Black Sox of 1919, taught the value of at least maintaining a plausible facade of integrity, although to baseball's credit, it put in place one of the most Draconian codes about gambling in sports. Point-shaving scandals have come and gone, but the sports involved know to act quickly and harshly with those involved to rebuild trust with fans. Now, however, a new sport may come under scrutiny for widespread cheating, and combating it may prove much more difficult: The squeaky-clean image of tennis is at risk as the sport braces itself for a court case which threatens to expose match-fixing by top players. Irakli Labadze, a Georgian last year ranked 42nd in the world, will be accused...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Debunking The Downing Street Memo

I don't often agree with Michael Kinsley, but I enjoy reading his columns; he has fun with language and brings an insouciant tone to almost every article. Today, however, he scores on the ridiculous nature of the Downing Street Memo that has the Left all atwitter. After noting that Air America fans have accused him of personally covering up for the Bush White House -- a hilarious assertion for anyone who's read Kinsley -- by failing to comment on the DSM, Kinsley explains why it's not news: It's a report on a meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and some aides on July 23, 2002. The key passage summarizes "recent talks in Washington" by the head of British foreign intelligence (identified, John le Carre-style, as "C"). C reported that "military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Lipscomb: Boston Globe Stonewalling On SF-180

After the Boston Globe and reporter Michael Kranish reported that they had executed an SF-180 signed by John Kerry and received his full records, Thomas Lipscomb reminded us that the SF-180 had to be executed carefully in order to actually confirm that the records were complete. He went back to the Boston Globe to get a release of the form itself to determine how it was executed -- and the Globe, instead of operating with transparency for its readers, instead opted to stonewall for Kerry instead: Michael Kranish, the Globe reporter who wrote the front page story about receiving Kerrys complete medical and military records, was not happy at being pursued by my questions about how he had made that determination. Kranish finally sent me the following: The story speaks for itself. Other media have been given access to the same records, and the Kerry office has said it is...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Crafty Drafty Democrats

One of the discredited accusations Democrats used as a scare technique during the presidential campaign last year was the notion that George Bush planned to restart the draft after winning a second term. Kerry and other Democrats campaigned on college campuses around the country to get students to vote, telling them that only Kerry would keep them from involuntary induction into the armed services. Now that we're eight months past the election, however, the Democrats now insist that the draft should be considered: The United States will "have to face" a painful dilemma on restoring the military draft as rising casualties result in persistent shortfalls in US Army recruitment, a top US senator warned. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the prediction after new data released by the Pentagon showed the US Army failing to meet its recruitment targets for four straight months. "We're...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Ed Klein Goes Too Far

I'm no fan of the Clintons, but the Right has had its problem reining in its vitriol regarding Bill and Hillary since 1992. The last five years have seen that mostly disappear (and reappear as Bush hysteria on the Left), but with Hillary running for re-election to the Senate in 2006 and probably for President in 2008, everyone expected it to return sometime. However, no one could have predicted that former Newsweek editor Ed Klein, of all people, would fan the flames of Clintonosis with a disgusting personal attack that purports to dissect Chelsea's conception (hat tip: Strata-Sphere): "I'm going back to my cottage to rape my wife," Klein quotes Bill Clinton as saying during a Bermuda getaway in 1979. In the morning, the Clintons' room "looked like World War III. There are pillows and busted-up furniture all over the place," an unnamed source tells Klein. Klein source claims Bill...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Time Magazine Goes Inside A Gitmo Interrogation

Time Magazine has acquired a secret interrogation log from Guantanamo Bay's Camp X-ray, one that tracks the investigation of the suspected 20th 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed al-Qahtani. The diary shows the range of methods used in his interrogation, and Time Magazine certainly plays this angle to the hilt in its press release: The log reads like a night watchmans diary. It is a sometimes shocking and often mundane hour-by-hour, even minute-by-minute account of a campaign to extract information. The log records every time al-Qahtani eats, sleeps, exercises or goes to the bathroom and every time he complies with or refuses his interrogators requests. The detainees physical condition is frequently checked by medical corpsmensometimes as often as three times a daywhich indicates either spectacular concern about al-Qahtanis health or persistent worry about just how much stress he can take. Or, more likely, Qahtani's self-declared hunger strikes and resultant dehydration created the need...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 13, 2005

On Diplomatic Immunity

Last week, I wrote about Amnesty International's call for the arrest of George Bush by any country he visits, along with other American officials involved in the war on terror. Besides castigating AI-USA for its lack of proportion and perspective, I also noted that such an action would violate diplomatic immunity. In response, I received this note from an officer in the US Foreign Service who wishes to remain anonymous. He agreed with the post in general but wanted to be sure that readers understand who gets diplomatic immunity and when: An excellent post, but one point on diplomatic immunity. According to Articles 29 and 32 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), the only people entitled to full diplomatic immunity are fully accredited diplomats to a given country. It's a common misconception that high-ranking officials, e.g. President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, and others, also have diplomatic immunity. They don't....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Quick Links For The Morning

I stayed up late last night to get the morning posts in, as my schedule will be erratic today. I hope to have new posts later on, but in the meantime be sure to catch up on a few stories that should get your attention. Arthur Chrenkoff gives us the Step By Step on Iraq in Opinionjournal today. Chrenkoff reminds us that we can't expect to fix in six months something that has been broken for almost two generations. Find out why two-thirds of Iraqis now feel that their country is heading in the right direction. Red State Rant has the first part of their interview with Newt Gingrich posted. They also had a terrific interview with Zell Miller earlier. In the next part, Lance will get to my question for Newt. RSR has made quite a splash for a new blog -- congratulate Lance for the splendid job he's...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Liberals: Duceppe A 'Coward' For Not Pushing Secession

Despite the widespread corruption committed by the Liberals during their governance of Canada, at times their political brilliance requires some admiration, no matter how grudgingly given. The fact of their survival on May 19th took a blend of bald-faced vote-buying and hardball politics that took one's breath away in its audacity and its success. Their apparent recovery in the polls after hearing witness after witness attest to Liberal money-laundering and embezzlement for weeks is nothing short of astounding. Their ability to tar Tory leader Stephen Harper as a stooge of separatists and some malevolent, secretive force that will unravel Canadian federalism as a cover for that graft may stand as one of the great political comebacks in North American history. Today, however, the Liberals may have pushed their luck a bit too far by attacking Bloc Quebecois leader Giles Duceppe for turning down a provincial post in favor of remaining...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Microsoft Helping China Censor The Internet?

Agence France-Presse reports in its Asian section that Microsoft has aided China's efforts to censor the Internet for millions of subjects of PRC's autocratic rule. MSN's China-based Internet Spaces has started blocking specific words tied to political liberation: Users of Microsoft's new China-based Internet portal were blocked from using the words "democracy", "freedom" and "human rights" in an apparent move by the US software giant to appease Beijing. Other words that could not be used on Microsoft's free online blog service MSN Spaces include "Taiwan independence" and "demonstration". Bloggers who enter such words or other politically charged or pornographic content are prompted with a message that reads: "This item should not contain forbidden speech such as profanity. Please enter a different word for this item". Officials at Microsoft's Beijing offices refused to comment Monday. Many blogs, including mine, took Eason Jordan to task for deliberately enabling oppression in Iraq by...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Not One Dime: The New Democratic Strategy

For those who thought that the filibuster had been rendered nearly extinct for executive appointments, the Washington Times reports that the Democrats have instead reworked their PR campaign to present another rationale for restarting them. Rather than argue about "extremism" -- an argument that they lost on the merits -- Democrats will now produce endless requests for more documentation in an effort to convince Senators that the Democratic filibusters support Senatorial privilege: The new filibusters are not based publicly on ideologies -- as with several of the nominees to the federal bench -- but on demands for additional information from the administration. Already stalled under that strategy is John R. Bolton, Mr. Bush's pick to be ambassador to the United Nations. Also, Democrats led by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts stopped a federal appeals court nominee last week by demanding that more of his unpublished legal opinions be provided...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Disclosure Follies Continue

The measure of the Democratic desperation to "get" GOP whip Tom DeLay has come in the number of late disclosures on travel-related expenses made by recalcitrant House members of both political parties. The New York Times reports that almost exactly half of Congress, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, have hurriedly filed travel expenses as required by House ethics rules -- some years late: With scrutiny being heaped on Representative Tom DeLay of Texas and other lawmakers over privately financed trips, dozens of members of Congress are moving to set their travel disclosures in order. Roughly 214 lawmakers - half Republicans and half Democrats - have filed reports late since July of last year, some waiting up to five years after taking a trip to properly disclose their travels, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan group that tracks political spending. Travel records have been available for years but did not attract...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Happy Blogiversary To Michelle Malkin!

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by already since Michelle Malkin joined the blogosphere. No one who read Michelle on a regular basis before June of last year should be surprised that in twelve short months, she has transformed her eponymous blog into the class of the genre. Congratulations, Michelle, and thanks for all your hard work....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Emily Litella Memo (Updated!)

David Sanger at the New York Times discovers another memo from British sources that completely undermines the central argument of the Downing Street Memo -- which is that the Bush administration had fixated on a military solution to Iraq and had started to twist the intelligence in July 2002 to justify the invasion. Instead, as Sanger reports, another memo dated the same week at the DSM reported to Tony Blair that Bush had not yet made up his mind what approach he wanted to take with Saddam Hussein: A memorandum written by Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet office in late July 2002 explicitly states that the Bush administration had made "no political decisions" to invade Iraq, but that American military planning for the possibility was advanced. The memo also said American planning, in the eyes of Mr. Blair's aides, was "virtually silent" on the problems of a postwar occupation. "A...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Polygamist Cult Abandons Young Boys To Eliminate Competition (Updated)

The Guardian reports on a strange story coming out of the American Southwest that has not received much coverage in the US. (Update: Here's the Los Angeles Times link to tomorrow's story.) A cult of polygamists have apparently started to abandon their teenage sons on highways in Arizona and Utah, perhaps as many as 1,000 of them. The reason? To create an artificial shortage of mates for the teenage girls that the older men resolve through multiple marriages: Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven. The 10,000-strong FLDS, which broke away from the Mormon church in 1890 when the mainstream faith disavowed polygamy, believes a man...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 14, 2005

Tories Reportedly Unhappy With Harper

To no one's great surprise, the Tories blame Stephen Harper for booting their best chance in years to topple the Liberal grip on power in Ottawa this spring and may start looking for new leadership according to the Globe & Mail. Members deny that they have started that process as yet, but some organizers have started to grumble about the lost opportunities: Political knives are out for Stephen Harper as his federal Conservatives sink deeper in the polls, and the sharpest weapons are being brandished by members of his own party. "There is a lot of discontent with the turn of things. People are saying it's time to replace the leader," said one key Conservative organizer in Toronto who, like many others, asked not to be named because it could hurt his status in the party. ... [B]ehind the scenes, party members from coast to coast are pointing fingers and...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Cheney: Guantanamo Or Something Like It

Vice President Dick Cheney told the American public twice yesterday that Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay would remain open despite calls for its closure for better public relations. The Washington Post reports on Cheney's appearance at the National Press Club, where he echoed similar remarks from his interview on Fox: Vice President Cheney offered a vigorous defense yesterday of the secretive prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said the United States has no plans to shut it down. Although President Bush kept open the possibility of closing the prison outpost in Cuba, Cheney said such a move would be unwise because the United States needs a special prison to hold and interrogate potential terrorists captured around the world. Cheney said prisoners there are treated "far better" than they would be by any other government and disagreed sharply with critics who charge the United States' image has been...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Apres Collapse, France Lashes Out For Relevance

France's failure to support the EU constitution that its leadership had largely pushed and helped write has caused its government to push its failure onto others even as it concedes defeat. The Telegraph reports that France has finally given up on forcing other nations to continue the ratification process, effectively killing the proposed constitution: France performed a historic about-turn yesterday and abandoned the European Union constitution to its fate, dropping demands that other nations ratify the treaty. The unexpected move appeared to seal the constitution's doom, even if its most passionate supporters still refuse to accept its demise for several months more. Days before a crisis EU summit, Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, simply waived Paris's insistence that the treaty still be put to the vote, country by country. ... Senior French officials quietly agreed with British predictions that an EU summit this week would leave individual member states...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Cotecna E-Mail Memo Shows Connection To Kofi Annan

For months, Kofi Annan has denied any connection between the UN Oil-for-Food contractor and himself through his son Kojo. The Secretary-General has gone so far as to state that he never met with Cotecna on OFF business and only had the most general of information from his son. However, Cotecna has found an e-mail that indicates their executives did indeed meet with Kofi, making his earlier denials look more and more suspicious: A memo written by someone who was then an executive of a major contractor in the United Nations oil-for-food program states that he briefly discussed the company's effort to win the contract in late 1998 with Secretary General Kofi Annan and his "entourage" and that the executive was told that "we could count on their support." The secretary general's son, Kojo Annan, was employed by Cotecna Inspection Services, a Swiss contractor based in Geneva, and the nature of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Europeans Surrender To Castro

Despite the exhortations of freedom fighters like former Czech president Vaclav Havel, European leaders have caved in to Fidel Castro and permanently restored diplomatic access denied in 2003, after Castro jailed 75 reporters and dissidents: In the showdown between Old and New Europe over Cuba, Old Europe has won - and the communist dictator in Havana, Fidel Castro, has gotten a break for at least a year. The European Union decided yesterday not to restore diplomatic sanctions it imposed on the island in 2003, affording Mr. Castro a year of "constructive dialogue" before next reconsidering whether to ban high-level diplomats' visits to Cuba, open embassies in Havana to Cuban dissidents, and take other measures that have greatly irked Cuba's strongman. The decision was issued at yesterday's External Relations Council meeting, a gathering of the foreign ministers of the 25 E.U. member states, in Luxembourg. It was the most recent development...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Apologizing For The Filibuster

The Senate yesterday issued a historic apology to African-Americans for its refusal to act against the practice of lynching for decades, effectively sidelining the federal government while thousands of victims died at the hands of vigilantes. Unfortunately, that apology doesn't address the tool used by the Senate that allowed it to be hijacked by a handful of racists in the early 20th century, and the media coverage barely mentions how it happened: The formal apology, adopted by voice vote, was issued decades after senators blocked antilynching bills by filibuster. The resolution is the first time that members of Congress, who have apologized to Japanese-Americans for their internment in World War II and to Hawaiians for the overthrow of their kingdom, have apologized to African-Americans for any reason, proponents of the measure said. "The Senate failed you and your ancestors and our nation," Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, chief Democratic...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Upcoming CQ Events, Today And Tomorrow

I will make an appearance tonight on The World Tonight, a Canadian radio talk show, discussing the latest developments on Kofi Annan and the Oil-for-Food investigation, the Downing Street memo, and perhaps even Guantanamo Bay. My appearance will be around 9:30 pm EDT. If you live in Calgary and southern Alberta, you should be able to hear me on the air on CHQR 770 AM. Others can pick up the Internet stream at their site. Don't forget that I will also be appearing tomorrow night at Coffman Union at the University of Minneapolis as a guest of CFACT. I'll be speaking about the New Media and its impact on politics and information dissemination, as well as a number of my own experiences as a blogger. I hope to see you there! UPDATE: Bill from CFACT has started his own blog after being inspired by my yet-undelivered talk. I guess we'd...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Second Cotecna OFF Memo Links Bid Win To Kofi Annan

The AP reported earlier tonight that a second Cotecna memo has surfaced, also written by Annan family friend and Cotecna VP Michael Wilson, which assured company executives that Cotecna would win the bid through "quiet but effective lobbying". The new memo appears to follow right after the previously-released memo describes the meeting Wilson had with the Secretary General where the UN executive told Wilson he could "count on his suppport": The committee probing the U.N. oil-for-food program announced Tuesday it will again investigate Secretary-General Kofi Annan after two e-mails suggested he may have known more than he claimed about a multimillion-dollar U.N. contract awarded to the company that employed his son. One e-mail described an encounter between Annan and officials from Cotecna Inspection S.A. in late 1998 during which the Swiss company's bid for the contract was raised. The second from the same Cotecna executive expressed his confidence that the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 15, 2005

Canada Discovers AQ Information Trove

Canadian authorities impounded a computer and recordings from a woman whose family has ties to al-Qaeda as she entered the country, and discovered a wealth of information that may lead back to Afghanistan. The RCMP has held the laptop, DVDs, and tapes for three months, but now has to publicly give a reason for continuing to retain them to keep Zaynab Khadr from taking them back: The RCMP and Canadian military believe they've discovered a vital cache of information on Al Qaeda that includes the whereabouts of wanted members and details of attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan. The information is allegedly contained in a laptop, dozens of DVDs, audiocassettes and the pages of diaries, seized by the RCMP officers who met Zaynab Khadr at Pearson airport with a search warrant as she arrived back in Canada in February, court documents state. ... With the three-month time limit allotted to...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Rude Protestors Ruin Commencement Ceremony

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger returned to his alma mater last night to deliver a commencement speech. Schwarzenegger did not intend on turning the graduation into a political event, but a number of protestors did just that anyway, jeering almost continuously through his speech at Santa Monica College: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to his alma mater turned into an exercise in perseverance when virtually his every word was accompanied by catcalls, howls and piercing whistles from the crowd. Schwarzenegger's face appeared to redden during his 15-minute commencement address Tuesday to 600 graduates at Santa Monica College, but he ignored the shouting as he recalled his days as a student and, later, his work as a bodybuilder and actor. ... Inside the stadium, the drone from hundreds of rowdy protesters threatened to drown out the governor's voice at times. Many in the crowd erupted in boos when a police officer pulled down...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iranian Election May Get Even More Ridiculous

No one expects the election in Iran to produce anything other than exactly what the ruling mullahs of the Supreme Council want: a pliant government that will impose the mullah's will on Iranians. To that end, the Guardian Council has weeded out any candidates who threaten to rock the boat by liberalizing the political climate in Iran, picking only those who will remain subservient to the council of mullahs. Now even that facade may be shorn away, as one of the few "reformers" in the election has warned that violence aimed at his supporters may force him to withdraw: The leading reformist candidate in Iran's presidential election has threatened to pull out in protest at violent attacks on his supporters by religious extremists. In an interview with the Guardian, Mostafa Moin also implied a possible link between the assaults and a spate of bombings that has killed 10 people in...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iraqis, Americans Free Aussie Hostage

Details are thin, but the AP reports that a joint Iraq-American security force has freed Australian hostage Douglas Wood in a military operation: Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, freed an Australian hostage after six weeks in captivity, officials said Wednesday. The release came as a suicide bomber dressed in an Iraqi army uniform blew himself up in a mess hall north of Baghdad, killing at least 25 Iraqi soldiers and injuring 27. No details were available on the operation in Baghdad that led to the release of Douglas Wood, a 64-year-old engineer who lives in Alamo, Calif. He was abducted in late April by a militant group calling itself the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq. The Australian government refused to bend to the kidnappers' demands that its 1,400 troops be withdrawn from Iraq. It sent diplomats, police and military personnel to Baghdad to seek his release. "I...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

LA Times Points Out Lynching-Apology Hypocrisy

The Los Angeles Times opinion pages runs a commentary by Andres Martinez pointing out the historical hypocrisy of the Senate in their lynching apology Monday. As I wrote yesterday, the Senate and the national news media -- including the LA Times -- studiously avoided more than a passing mention of the filibuster's central role in ensuring that the federal government could not intervene to save lynching's primarily African-American victims: Astonishingly, Senate Resolution 39 makes no mention of the f-word, which denotes the mechanism that allows a minority of legislators to block votes. The resolution duly notes that at least 4,742 people, mostly African Americans, were lynched in the U.S. between 1882 and 1968; that nearly 200 anti-lynching bills, backed by seven presidents, were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century; that the House of Representatives did pass three strong anti-lynching measures, but that the Senate never...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Who Are Bernard Goldberg's Top 10 Screw-ups?

Bernard Goldberg, the former CBS reporter who blew the lid off institutional media bias with his book Bias, will name the top 100 American screw-ups in his upcoming publication, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37). A press release sent to bloggers (such as Bill at INDC Journal, who also blogged about it this morning) has us guessing at the other denizens on Goldberg's list. Amazon has the following description posted: Bernard Goldberg takes dead aim at the America Bashers (the cultural elites who look down their snobby noses at "ordinary" Americans) ... the Hollywood Blowhards (incredibly ditzy celebrities who think they're smart just because they're famous) ... the TV Schlockmeisters (including the one whose show has been compared to a churning mass of maggots devouring rotten meat) ... the Intellectual Thugs (bigwigs at some of our best colleges, whose views run the gamut from...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Newspaper Circulation Scandal Turns Criminal

The scandal of fraudulent circulation numbers in the newspaper industry has expanded into a criminal conspiracy prosecution, Newsday reported earlier, with the arrest of three of its former employees for fraud: Federal agents arrested three former Newsday [and Hoy] employees today for criminal fraud in connection with a scandal that inflated the circulation of both publications, the U.S. Department of Justice announced. ... Newsday has disclosed that its reported circulation was inflated by about 100,000 copies on weekdays and Sundays in the 12 months ending September 2003. Last year, the Spanish language paper Hoy acknowledged that its reported daily circulation of 92,604 was inflated by about double for the same period. Smith, who was a circulation manager at the paper, retired from Newsday in 2002. From May 2002 to May 2004 he worked as a consultant to both Newsday and Hoy, serving as their liaison to the Audit Bureau of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Stephen Harper Road Show, Coming Soon

Yesterday morning I wrote that Stephen Harper needs to get out and engage the Canadian public personally in order to improve his image and the Conservative Party's accessibility to the electorate. Whether the issue of his declining polling numbers lies with a hostile media or himself, clearly Harper needs to actively work to improve the situation. Apparently, I get results (yes, I'm joking), as the Tory leader announced today that he will start making personal appearances around the country: Get ready for the new and improved Stephen Harper. The federal Conservative leader will criss-cross the country this summer to bolster his image and counter complaints from some Tories about a recent dramatic decline in party popularity. People, for all kinds of reasons, have a misperception of Harper, says Tory deputy leader Peter MacKay. And, MacKay adds, Harper knows it. "He's also come to understand that people have to like you,"...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

CFACT Speech A Hit, I Think ...

I just returned from the University of Minnesota and my speech to CFACT. We had a great audience for the event; what we lacked in numbers was more than balanced by enthusiasm. CFACT is one of the few conservative student groups on the U of M campus. They're busy building themselves into a strong voice, and it's great to see students speaking out for their beliefs and their politics in an environment that has much more sympathy for the opposite end of the political spectrum. Martin Andrade, a MOB member, also belongs to CFACT and live-blogged the speech (using my laptop!). I'm sure he's much too kind, but it gives me some great feedback for the next time out. Martin also has a pretty danged cool setup for audioblogging, which he did with an after-speech interview with me. He uses his cell phone to call into a voice-mail system, which...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 16, 2005

The Schiavo Finale, Lacking Finality

With the release of the autopsy results for Terri Schiavo, we now know much we didn't before, and much that we simply couldn't. Other questions went unanswered, and the coroner even created a new mystery that necessarily will go unsolved: Although the meticulous postmortem examination could not determine the mental state of the Florida woman, who died March 31 after a judicial and legislative battle over her "right to die," it did establish the permanence of her physical condition. Schiavo's brain damage "was irreversible . . . no amount of treatment or rehabilitation would have reversed" it, said Jon R. Thogmartin, the pathologist in Florida's sixth judicial district who performed the autopsy and announced his findings at a news conference in Largo, Fla. Still unknown is what caused Schiavo, 41, to lose consciousness on a winter morning in 1990. Her heart beat ineffectively for nearly an hour, depriving her brain...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Taking A Pass On The Freakers Ball

Oh, they're gonna have a Freakers Ball, Tonight, at the Freakers Hall, And you know you're invited, one and all ... After weeks of waiting for an RSVP from the White House about its invitation to the UN's 60th anniversary bash in San Francisco, Turtle Bay got its answer yesterday. The United States will send a representative to the party -- Ambassador Sichan Siv: Organizers of a celebration here to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations had expressed concern for weeks that the Bush administration would shun the event as a snub to the world body. On Wednesday, organizers learned that big-name invitees - among them, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - would not attend. In their place, said Nancy L. Peterson, president of the United Nations Association of San Francisco, the administration indicated that it would send Ambassador Sichan Siv, the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Traveling Circus Continues To Expand

The rock that Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean picked up to throw at Tom DeLay continues to expose lots of worms instead, as the escapades of traveling Congressmen continues to expand. The Washington Post reports today that an analysis of the data now disclosed by representatives and their staffs show that some of them accept substantial travel from groups for which the Congressmen provide oversight through committee assignments: Senior House committee Republicans and Democrats frequently travel at the expense of companies and associations in the industries they oversee, according to financial records released yesterday. The trips are legal, as long as they are paid for by businesses and not by registered lobbyists. But the sheer volume of them -- along with the alluring destinations, not notably related to the business at hand -- could add impetus to calls for greater restrictions when the House ethics committee carries out a directive...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Durbin: US Operates Death Camps (Without The Death)

The hysteria and historical illiteracy, not to mention irrational moral equivalency, continued on the floor of the Senate yesterday as Dick Durbin equated American military personnel at Gitmo to Nazis, Stalinist thugs, and the genocidal Pol Pot: The Senate's No. 2 Democrat has compared the U.S. military's treatment of a suspected al Qaeda terrorist at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay with the regimes of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Pol Pot, three of history's most heinous dictators, whose regimes killed millions. In a speech on the Senate floor late Tuesday, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, castigated the American military's actions by reading an e-mail from an FBI agent. The agent complained to higher-ups that one al Qaeda suspect was chained to the floor, kept in an extremely cold air-conditioned cell and forced to hear loud rap music. The Justice Department is investigating. ... After reading the e-mail,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Did Reuters Stage 'Insurgent' Photo?

Photos of street fighting in Iraq have become so common that we hardly notice them anymore. Reuters, AP, AFP, and major American media outlets routinely run them with updated stories on attacks and bombings to give readers a visual that should match the text of the story to some degree. Those that don't match up with breaking news or analysis get run from the wire service to their customers, with a short caption as its only description. Such a photograph caught the eye of CQ reader HJ, who noticed something odd about the fighters. Here's the original caption that goes along with this photo: Iraqi insurgents take up positions at a crossroads in the Iraqi town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, June 16, 2005. Five U.S. marines were killed in Iraq when their vehicle struck a bomb near the violent western town of Ramadi, the U.S. military said on June...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Dick Durbin: The Ring Of Familiarity

Tuesday's rant from Dick Durbin has enraged members of the Senate and the military, as he equated military personnel at Gitmo with Nazis, Stalinists, and the Khmer Rouge while also drawing moral equivalence between the Japanese-American WWII detainees and the Islamofascist prisoners of Camp X-Ray. Today, Durbin refused to apologize or back down appreciably from his comments: Defending himself, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat said Thursday it was "just plain wrong" to say he was diminishing past horrors. He said he was comparing interrogation techniques that the FBI report said were used at Guantanamo with those in foreign detainee camps. "This is the type of thing you would expect from a repressive regime. This is not the type of thing you would expect from the United States," Durbin said. This kind of obstinacy sounded familiar to me, as it did to long-time CQ reader and friend River Rat. Both he...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 17, 2005

Durbin Oddly Silent About The Torture Closer To Home

Dick Durbin set himself apart in the Senate on Tuesday by proclaiming that one could not tell the difference between the behavior of detainees at Gitmo by American military person and that of Nazis, Stalin's gulag guards, or Pol Pot. Despite a national furor over his remarks, Durbin has refused to retract them, although he laughingly added yesterday that it was wrong to think that he had minimized the horrors of the Holocaust and the gulags by equating them with a lack of climate control and indoor plumbing in Gitmo interrogation rooms. However, in his zeal to protect America from the Creeping New FascismTM of American servicemen, Durbin somehow missed an opportunity to find similar horrors much closer to home. John in Carolina notes that Durbin's political ally and fellow Democrat in Chicago, Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan, operates a jail that sounds like it has a lot more problems...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Congress Delivers Ultimatum To UN: Reform Or Starve

Henry Hyde has proposed a bill that would require thirty-nine separate reforms for the United Nations to complete by 2008, 32 of them by 2007, in order to avoid having half of its American dues withheld. It will compete against a bill by Tom Lantos that demands reform but doesn't require a cutoff of dues, leaving that question to the State Department. The two bills will come up for a vote today, sending a message to Turtle Bay of American exasperation with its corruption, graft, and lack of accountability: "Over the years, as we listened to the counsels for patience, the U.N.'s failings have grown," said House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., sponsor of the measure. "The time has finally come where we must in good conscience say 'enough.'" Hyde was joined by lawmakers with a litany of complaints against what they said was the U.N.'s lavish spending,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iraqi Democracy Working As We Capture Another Zarqawi Lieutenant

In another sign that the Iraqis have started to get the hang of democracy, the new government announced that it had successfully completed negotiations with leading Sunni groups to involve them in the writing of the new Constitution: Iraqi political leaders reached a compromise Thursday to include more Sunni Muslim Arabs on the committee responsible for writing the country's new constitution, ending weeks of stalemate and raising hopes that the document can be crafted before the panel's deadline expires in two months. "The problem is solved and ended. The Sunnis will participate in the process of writing the constitution," said Tariq Hashimi, the secretary general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading Sunni organization. ... Under the compromise, the new panel will include members of the existing committee, 15 additional Sunni Arabs with full voting rights and 10 more Sunnis in an advisory, non-voting role. A member of Iraq's Sabean...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

VRWC Sighting At The Gray Lady

Mickey Kaus notes that the New York Times has discovered a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy behind the publication and promotion of the smear-job biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Ed Klein. Raymond Hernandez ensures that all of the VRWC elements are included in his report, including Richard Mellon Scaife, talk radio, Swift Boat vets (really!), and the supposedly lock-step Internet sites of conservatives: Republican and conservative activists are behind a vigorous campaign to promote a controversial new biography about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, with some even suggesting that the book will help dash any presidential aspirations she might have. ... The publisher, Sentinel, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) that focuses on conservative views, has added to the atmosphere surrounding the publication. In a catalog sent to bookstores, the publisher, part of Pearson Plc., compared the book with the campaign by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that attacked the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Ahh, Democrats ... They're So Cute When They Play Make-Believe

Dana Milbank, of all people, notes the folly of a handful of Congressional Democrats yesterday in pretending to hold a committee hearing on articles of impeachment for George Bush. Just like little girls having a tea party, the Democrats brought in realistic-looking props and played their parts just as if the meeting was real. It was so cute: In the Capitol basement yesterday, long-suffering House Democrats took a trip to the land of make-believe. They pretended a small conference room was the Judiciary Committee hearing room, draping white linens over folding tables to make them look like witness tables and bringing in cardboard name tags and extra flags to make the whole thing look official. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) banged a large wooden gavel and got the other lawmakers to call him "Mr. Chairman." He liked that so much that he started calling himself "the chairman" and spouted other...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Salon, Rolling Stone Team Up To Promote Pseudoscience

ABC plans to broadcast an interview with Robert Kennedy, Jr on the supposed link between autism and thimerosal in children's vaccines. Salon and Rolling Stone paired up to run an article on this subject earlier called Deadly Immunity, which advocates the fear-mongering about the supposed dangers of life-saving vaccinations. The blog Respectful Insolence takes Salon, Rolling Stone, and Kennedy apart over the biased presentation and the scientific ignorance displayed in the article: It's a one-sided account by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of the supposed link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism that is being promoted by antivaccine activists as an indictment of the government and pharmaceutical companies. ... The article repeats the usual canard about how autism was unknown before the 1940's, which, coincidentally was when thimerosal-containing vaccines were first used. The article even goes so far as to claim: The disease was unknown until 1943, when it was identified...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

NDP: Ethics Commissioner A Lapdog, Not A Watchdog

Despite their last-minute partnership on a budget amendment with the Liberal Party that allowed Paul Martin to hold onto power, the NDP has lost patience with Parliament's ethics commissioner for dragging his feet on investigating their Grit allies. NDP leadership has called for the resignation of Bernard Shapiro and the appointment of a more active ethics watchdog: Parliament's independent ethics watchdog is an incompetent "wet noodle" who should be replaced, critics say. Bernard Shapiro, named ethics czar by the Liberals last year, has been asked in recent months to look into at least two cases of alleged conflict in the Liberal cabinet. He has not released final reports in either case, and has been cast by the opposition as a bumbling foot-dragger. Now, the NDP says Shapiro has declined to expand an inquiry into the controversial Grewal tapes affair to include the prime minister. They have demanded an explanation, and...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Durbin: I'm Sorry You Didn't Comprehend My Genius

Under fire for his remarks comparing humiliation techniques for interrogations at Gitmo to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union's gulags, and the Khmer Rouge's killing fields, Senator Dick Durbin has finally attempted to calm the waters with a statement of "regret": Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday that he regretted any misunderstandings caused by his comments earlier this week comparing American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis. The White House, Senate Republicans and others had called for an apology after Durbin's comments Tuesday. ... On Friday, Durbin tried to clarify the issue. "My statement in the Senate was critical of the policies of this Administration, which add to the risk our soldiers face," he said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 18, 2005

Enjoy A Steaming Hot Cup o' Debt

Do you remember when fifty cents would get a thirsty man a cup of coffee, when hot java represented the common and inexpensive breakfast drink that united the various economic classes of America? Well, those days are gone, thanks to the marketing genius of places like Starbucks, which has turned that simple cup of coffee into a dizzying variety of blends, lattes, espressos, and the like -- and all of them more expensive than a typical drink at a bar. The power of the economic transformation made Seattle one of the most important business centers of the western US in the 1990s. Now, in a bit of irony, the very success that Starbucks created for its home city of Seattle may wind up sinking the hopes and dreams of its next generation in java-flavored waves of debt. The high prices, easy credit, and addictive nature of Starbucks and other competitors...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Prayers Needed For Fellow Blogger

For those CQ readers who have followed the blog for a while, you remember that Sean from Everything I Know Is Wrong is not just a fellow Minneapolis blogger -- and an excellent writer -- but also is my daughter-in-law's uncle as well as being a good friend of mine. Sean and his wife Karen have opened their home to us on many occasions, making us part of their family for holidays, special occasions -- really, any time. Sean had a congenital heart defect that he had tolerated for his entire life, but recently it became necessary for him to have surgery to correct the problem. Sean's surgery went well and he seemed to be recovering quickly, but two days ago he had a serious setback. He's back in the hospital, and while it looks like the doctors have done a good job in catching the issue before it did...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

EU Dissolving Into Recriminations

With the collapse of the EU constitution, the leaders of Europe that put their personal and national prestige on the line in its support have suddenly found themselves looking for a way to lay blame off onto someone else for the EU failure. That has led to the eruption of recriminations across the Continent as the previously united leadership of the EU has dissolved into a finger-pointing club: A bitter war of words has erupted among EU states after the failure to reach an agreement on the union's future budget. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blamed UK and Dutch obduracy for one of the EU's "gravest" crises. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed sadness, but said the failure could prove a turning point. The EU's current president Jean Claude Juncker said he was ashamed poorer countries had offered to cut their EU income to reach a deal. The summit collapsed after...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 19, 2005

Nazi Alert For Senator Durbin!

When Senator Durbin stood on the Senate floor and compared American troops to genocidal maniacs based on our treatment of Islamofascist terrorists at Gitmo, he revealed a wealth of ignorance on his behalf. Not only did Durbin show his historical illiteracy about the Nazis, Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge, not only did he demonstrate an ignorance of the meaning of abuse -- let alone torture -- but Durbin also failed to recognize the true monsters of this war. The New York Times doesn't make that same mistake in this report by Sabrina Tavernise: Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a torture center equipped with electric wires, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual - and four beaten and shackled Iraqis. The American military has found torture houses after invading towns heavily...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Hanoi Hello

For the first time since the end of the Viet Nam War, the US will receive the head of state for the Southeastern Asia nation on an official visit to Washington DC. President Bush will meet with Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to discuss further normalization of relations. Khai will tour several US cities on this trip, which should create plenty of tension between the Communist Party apparatchik and the Vietnamese ex-patriate community here in the US: Khai, who is due to meet President George W. Bush at the White House on Tuesday, is expected in his landmark trip to push for closer ties with the United States and in turn face demands for progress on human rights. Accompanying Khai on the week-long trip is Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan, Finance Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung and other senior officials, as well as 80 entrepreneurs. His visit caps a series of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Gray Lady Can't Distinguish Between Fact And Fiction (Part 37-B)

An alert CQ reader, Roger H, noticed a strange comment in an otherwise silly column on parenting in today's New York Times. Randy Cohen -- "The Ethicist" for the Paper of Record -- was aked by a reader about his recent trip to the Caribbean with his young children, where he planted coins on a beach to allow them to find "buried treasure" on their vacation. After doing so, doubts about this action began to plague him. Cohen writes back: It's a fine thing to play with your kids but a dubious thing to lie to them. ... With kids, it's trickier, a problem every parent grapples with when deciding how to answer a child who asks if there really is a Santa Claus or if the coin under the pillow really comes from the Tooth Fairy. Is the child eager to continue a kind of game, or is he...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

AP: FBI Doesn't Require Terror Expertise For Counterterrorism

The AP reports this morning on testimony in a civil lawsuit against the FBI by one of its counterterrorism experts that indicates the agency still does not place the appropriate value on terror-related expertise when assigning agents to terror-related duties. Bassem Yousef has sued the FBI for bypassing him for promotions in favor of less-qualified agents, and the depositions promise to inspire some questioning of the FBI's top brass on Capitol Hill: In sworn testimony that contrasts with their promises to the public, the FBI managers who crafted the post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorism say expertise about the Mideast or terrorism was not important in choosing the agents they promoted to top jobs. And they still do not believe such experience is necessary today even as terrorist acts occur across the globe. "A bombing case is a bombing case," said Dale Watson, the FBI's terrorism chief in the two years...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Did Lucy Ramirez Find The Downing Street Memos?

The media and the Leftists have had a field day with the Downing Street memos that they claim imply that the Bush administration lied about the intelligence on WMD in order to justify the attack on Iraq. Despite the fact that none of the memos actually say that, none of them quote any officials or any documents, and that the text of the memos show that the British government worried about the deployment of WMD by Saddam against Coalition troops, Kuwait and/or Israel, the meme continues to survive. Until tonight, however, no one questioned the authenticity of the documents provided by the Times of London. That has now changed, as Times reporter Michael Smith admitted that the memos he used are not originals, but retyped copies (via LGF and CQ reader Sapper): The eight memos all labeled "secret" or "confidential" were first obtained by British reporter Michael Smith,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 20, 2005

Lebanon Stands On Its Own Two Feet

Despite the efforts of Syria and its ally Hezbollah in the south, the reformers in Lebanon have delivered a historic victory in parliamentary elections this weekend. Saad Hariri took his revenge for his father's assassination by driving out the pro-Syrian politicians from northern Lebanon, capturing three-quarters of the contested seats and defying traditional clan-based electoral politics: Opponents of Syrian domination claimed a stunning majority victory in the final round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections on Sunday night in a rebellion touched off by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri four months ago. An anti-Syrian alliance that tried to bridge religious lines and was led by Mr. Hariri's son, 35-year-old Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, won at least 21 of 28 contested seats in northern Lebanon, the last polling area in the elections that have been staggered over the past four weekends. That gave the alliance a majority in the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iran Vote Rigged, Reformers Stuck With Rafsansjani

Iranian voters interested in serious reform have found themselves locked out of the presidential election, a suspicious result given the fervor for change among the electorate. The weekend's elections produced two candidates from the slate approved by the Guardian Council -- those candidates with which the mullahs decided they could live -- neither of which hold much hope for reform. As a result, frustrated Iranians ponder a boycott of the runoff, while the former darling of the mullahs warns such an action could result in "totalitarianism": Iran's reformist camp, suffering a devastating defeat in the first round of the presidential elections, is divided over a call to boycott the second round. ... The liberals have an awkward choice on Friday: vote for the pragmatic Rafsanjani or urge a boycott. "Between bad and worse, it's better to select bad," said Morteza Fallah, the managing editor of the reformist Eqbal daily newspaper,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Perhaps Neil Kinnock Is Writing Again

Inexplicably, disgraced former presidential candidate Joe Biden, the senior Senator from Delaware, has tossed his hat into the ring for 2008. In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation", Biden answered the question most people wouldn't have bothered to ask: Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday he plans to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 unless he decides later this year that he has little chance of winning. "My intention is to seek the nomination," Biden said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I know I'm supposed to be more coy with you. I know I'm supposed to tell you, you know, that I'm not sure. But if, in fact, I think that I have a clear shot at winning the nomination by this November or December, then I'm going to seek the nomination." After reading this piece by Dan Balz, Post subscribers will be forgiven if their...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Sean's Home

For those of you who have been kind enough to include Sean from Everything I Know Is Wrong in your prayers, I have a good-news update to the story. The hospital discharged Sean on Father's Day after a remarkable improvement in his condition, and he spent the day quietly at home with his wife Karen and his two children, Allison and Connor. I hear that Sean felt especially cheered by your thoughts, prayers, and comments, and for that I thank you so much on behalf of my friend (and brother-in-law twice removed, or something along those lines). Sean will return to blogging again soon, and looks forward to re-engaging the blogosphere. I'll let you know when he's ready for the relaunch of EIKIW....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Geldof Defends Bush On Africa

Sir Bob Geldof took the unusual position in the entertainment industry of defending George Bush on African aid, according to the London Telegraph. Geldof, speaking to Time Magazine, asserted that the empirical evidence shows that Bush has done more for Africa than any other American president: The Live 8 organiser said he had recently defended Mr Bush on the issue in France. "They refuse to accept, because of their political ideology, that he has actually done more than any American president for Africa," Geldof told Time magazine. "But it's empirically so." Geldof made headlines this weekend when he told Live-8 stars appearing at the concert series that he didn't want partisan rhetoric on stage, especially regarding George Bush and the United States. That's a smart move from a smart man who understands the need to work with people like Bush and Tony Blair, rather than rail against them in public....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

French Don't Buy Chirac's Blamethrowing

Jacques Chirac appears to have run out of options in deflecting blame for the collapse of the EU constitution last month. After his insistence on holding a referendum blew up in his face as political opponents across the French spectrum lined up to torpedo the pact, Chirac attempted to lay off the failure on the British annual euro rebate. That strategy caused the EU summit to collapse in a hail of recriminations across the continent, but for some reason Chirac expected to return home to cheers for protecting French agricultural prerogatives. Instead of cheers, however, the French president has been savaged by the French press, who haven't been fooled at all by Chirac's theatrics, at least according to The Guardian (UK): Swollen with Gallic pride after denouncing Tony Blair's "pathetic" performance at the European summit, the president probably wondered whether the Champs Elyses would be full of adoring crowds. As...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Technical Difficulties Today (Updated)

After the deluge of traffic from a Drudge Report link, the comments at CQ appear to be off line. That usually indicates some problem with the Movable Type activity log and a runaway process at Hosting Matters, the excellent service that hosts CQ and many other fine blogs. It does not seem to be a Typekey issue, as a couple of readers asked by e-mail. We will work diligently to restore comment service this afternoon. Keep checking back; I will update as best as I can. Thank you for your patience. UPDATE: Comments have been restarted by Hosting Matters. The script was dragging down the server for CQ, and since I share a server with other HM users, it was only fair for HM to suspend the process until traffic returned to normal. Fair play -- and they've responded very quickly to restart it....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Ronnie Earle's Shakedown

Travis County DA Ronnie Earle has been gunning for Tom DeLay for years, trying to tie the long-time GOP House leader to political corruption -- and coming up empty, at least so far. However, NRO's Byron York notes that Earle has found others in violation of the law along the way, notably large corporations who have donated to DeLay campaign, forbidden by Texas law. Does he prosecute the corporations? Apparently only if they don't comply with the Ronnie Earle Clemency Program, which consists of demands for huge cash contributions to his own pet causes: Ronnie Earle, the Texas prosecutor who has indicted associates of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in an ongoing campaign-finance investigation, dropped felony charges against several corporations indicted in the probe in return for the corporations' agreement to make five- and six-figure contributions to one of Earle's pet causes. A grand jury in Travis County, Texas, last...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Palestinian Edition

The title of this post is a proverb that keeps proving its wisdom over and over again, in large things and small, but in this particular case it has taken on a despicable hue. The Israelis agreed to admit a Palestinian woman to its country in order to treat her for severe burns after a kitchen explosion left her scarred and in great pain. What did they get for their compassion and generosity? A suicide bomber -- but fortunately, an incompetent one: A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body. The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Form 180s

Power Line has the SF-180s signed by John Kerry releasing his military records posted at their site. Each one authorizes the release of Kerry's complete military record to only one entity each -- the AP (Glen Johnson), the LA Times (Steve Braun), and the Boston Globe (Michael Kranish). A Power Line reader got copies of the 180s through a Freedom of Information Act request, which got him the signed forms but not the records themselves. It would appear from these forms that the three news outlets have access to the complete records, if they got them straight from the Navy, as the release form authorizes them to do, one time only. Interestingly, none of the three has released Kerry's records in PDF or any other format -- only written articles reviewing the data that they have found. It would appear that the Globe, Times, and AP have access to the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 21, 2005

The Syrians Send Another Message

After watching control of Parliament pass out of the hands of their collaborators and into the hands of their oppponents, the Syrians sent a message to Lebanon this morning. Instead of congratulating them on their successful, free elections, Bashar Assad reminded them of their previous vassal status by blowing up another anti-Syrian public figure: An anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon was killed on Tuesday when a bomb ripped through his car, two days after parliamentary elections brought victory for an alliance opposed to Damascus's role in the country. George Hawi, a former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly in the blast in the Wata Musaitbi neighborhood of Beirut, witnesses and security sources. "The car kept going and then I saw the driver screaming and he jumped out of the window. We rushed to the car and saw Hawi in the passenger seat with his guts out," Rami Abu Dargham,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

FBI Chief: No Experience Necessary For Leadership

As I reported here on Sunday, the FBI has ignored people with Middle East and counterterrorism experience while promoting others to leadership positions within the bureau for those units that handle the defense against Islamist terrorists. New testimony in the Bassem Youssef lawsuit shows that the attitude starts at the very top: Director Robert Mueller says he doesn't believe his counterterrorism supervisors need to have a background in Arabic, the Middle East or international issues. "Let me tell you that we want to develop that within the bureau, but making that an absolute requirement if you do not have it you would be precluded from advancing in counterterrorism no," Mueller testified recently in an employment lawsuit. Mueller described his own expertise in Middle Eastern terrorism as having been "relatively limited" when he took over the FBI a week before the Sept. 11 attacks. Mueller also testified he didn't...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Frist Keeps Heat On Durbin

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist kept the heat on Dick Durbin yesterday, demanding that Minority Leader Harry Reid push Durbin to apologize to the American military and the Senate in a formal apology while in session. Reid rejected that request, stating that he stood by Durbin and his remarks: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist yesterday demanded that Sen. Richard J. Durbin make a "formal apology" on the floor of the Senate for comparing U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to Nazi and Soviet regimes and that he strike his remarks from the Congressional Record. In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, said previous bids by the Senate's No. 2 Democrat to clarify his remarks didn't go far enough. "Subsequent statements by Senator Durbin indicate only that he was regretful if people misunderstood his remarks," Mr. Frist said. "We do not believe his remarks...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Abramoff Got OK From House Lawyers On Trips -- Including An FEC Commissioner

In another setback for the efforts to "get" Tom DeLay by attacking lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his firm has produced documentation from Congress itself that advised Abramoff that his actions were legal. House lawyers advised Preston, Gates, & Ellis in 1996 that it could pay for trips taken by Representatives as long as clients eventually reimbursed the firm: A law firm under scrutiny for its role in arranging overseas trips for members of Congress says House ethics lawyers advised the firm several years ago that it could pay for some Congressional travel, an assertion that may bolster the argument of Representative Tom DeLay that he did nothing wrong in accepting lavish trips organized by the firm's star lobbyist. Internal memorandums and e-mail messages from the Seattle firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, say that the firm contacted two lawyers on the House ethics committee in 1996, when it began organizing large numbers...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Bush Derangement Syndrome Claims Another Victim (Updated)

Michelle Malkin points out an obituary from Tucson which should embarrass the family, except that they apparently wrote it. They claim that living with conservatives caused Corwyn William Zimbleman's death through a series of heart attacks from the political stress: An avid atheist, he studied the bible and religion with more fervor than most Christians. He had strong political opinions and followed Amy Goodman's radio broadcast "Democracy Now." Alas the stolen election of 2000 and living with right-winged Americans finally brought him to his early demise. Stress from living in this unjust country brought about several heart attacks rendering him disabled. Cory, a great man, so very talented, compassionate and intelligent, dedicated to the arts and humanities and the environment, will be greatly missed by his wife, family, and friends. While it's never a good idea to speak ill of the dead -- and after all, Cory Zimbleman didn't write...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Chirac Signals Surrender On French Farm Subsidies

After taking a beating in the world press and in French public opinion that blames him for the collapse of the EU budget process, Jacques Chirac suddenly changed course today and signaled his surrender on French agricultural subsidies. Tony Blair, emerging victorious over his French rival, agreed that the annual euro rebate Britain receives should also be reconsidered as part of an economic normalization: The French President said he would after all accept the latest compromise to solve the deadlock, even though it would cost his country 6.6 billion. Last week's Brussels Euro summit collapsed when Britain refused to give up its rebate worth more than 3 billion a year unless France cut back farming subsidies worth almost 7bn a year. Mr Chirac refused to do so despite strong pressure from Luxembourg's prime minister, Jean Claude Juncker, who holds the presidency until Mr Blair takes over on July 1. But...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Poll Shows Gitmo Support Extends Beyond GOP, Bush

CNN/USA Today/Gallup released its latest poll numbers among adults, not voters, and not surprisingly it shows that George Bush has not made much of a rebound since last month's poor showing. His negatives outweigh his positives, and support for the war also has ebbed to its lowest levels in months. Without getting into hyperanalysis of the polling sample and methodology (Gerry always does that well, as does ABP), it's clear that Bush needs to get back in front of the American people and start talking about the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Arthur Chrenkoff and even Kofi Annan can do it, certainly we should be hearing more of it from the Bush administration. However, as Michelle Malkin points out, the polling does show something very interesting -- and should lead to a quick change in the public debate. Even with Bush's numbers dropping, the public supports the detention at...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Durbin Apologizes Weakly A Week Later (Updated!)

Fox News, AP, and other outlets report that Senator Dick Durbin has apologized for his comparison between the American military and Nazis, Khmer Rouge, and Stalinist genocidal maniacs: Under fire from Republicans and some fellow Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin apologized Tuesday for comparing American interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to Nazis and other historically infamous figures. "Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line," the Illinois Democrat said. "To them I extend my heartfelt apologies." His voice quaking and tears welling in his eyes, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate also apologized to any soldiers who felt insulted by his remarks. "They're the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them," he said. At least this is an apology, instead of a "statement of regret". However tearfully delivered, though, it still contains qualifiers that shift the responsibility to everyone but Durbin. "Some may believe that...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Britain: Rafsanjani No Reformer

Britain issued a warning against trusting Ali Akbar Rafsanjani as a reformist voice, reminding people of Rafsanjani's role in implementing some of the most repressive of the policies of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The unusually harsh diplomatic language comes as Iranian reformist groups debate whether to boycott elections altogether or band together to keep hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from the presidency: The wily cleric, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, has cast himself as a centrist, and has dropped several hints that he was open to dealing with America. But a senior British diplomat dismissed Mr Rafsanjani's reputation as a "pragmatist", and cast doubt over whether he would make it easier to resolve the crisis over Teheran's nuclear programme. "It's important that people do not see Rafsanjani as a white knight. He has been president for eight years, and a lot of bad things happened in those eight years," he...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

New, Improved Heritage Foundation Panel For July 8th!

As many of you already know, I will appear at the Heritage Foundation on July 8th to speak at a symposium on bloggers, journalism, and the convergence of the old and new media. Mark Tapscott, the Director for Heritage's Center for Media and Public Policy, has titled the presentation as "Are Bloggers and Journalists Friends Or Enemies"? Originally, Mark had lined up Jim Hill, the managing editor for the Washington Post Writers Group, as my counterbalance for the presentation. Now Mark has upped the ante (and my flop sweat) by adding Daniel Glover, the managing editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. Here's the description from the Heritage Foundation invitation: American blogger Ed Morrissey has broken story after sordid story on Canada's multi-million dollar Adscam scandal. But are bloggers "real" journalists? Are bloggers and journalists natural enemies or allies in reporting the news? Or are bloggers a completely new kind of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 22, 2005

The Four Forbidden Words Of Iranian Elections

George Carlin practically built his career around his famous comedic protest against American broadcast censorship, "Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV". The Iranian Guardian Council, which is not known for its sense of humor, apparently has its own list of dirty words that will get your electoral material destroyed -- words like "democracy" and "freedom": Iranian security officials on Tuesday confiscated more than half a million wallet-size cards and posters endorsing Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for president from a printing house in Tehran, according to employees of the shop. Employees said the posters and cards contained the words "repression," "terrorizing," "freedom" and "democracy." "They said, 'The words you are using are offensive,' " said Mahmmoud Reza Bahmanpour, managing director of Nazar Printing House in downtown Tehran. He and other employees said several plainclothes agents, displaying a handwritten letter bearing the seal of Iran's judiciary, carried away 500,000 wallet-size...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

All In The Family, Part Two

Another UN scam has come to light, according to a Fox News report I missed yesterday, one in which a father-son pair may have combined to ensure access to plenty of cash through the UN's auspices. This time, the Annans are not directly involved, but a Russian involved in the UN's Procurement Department with access to over a billion dollars in funding that he directed to a firm which hired his son as a requirement for the contract: The staffer in question is Alexander Yakovlev (search), a dapper Russian who is possibly the longest tenured member of the U.N. procurement department which last year alone spent more than $1.3 billion buying supplies and services for the United Nations. ... Yakovlevs job includes such sensitive matters as vetting potential U.N. contractors and processing their bids. In the 1990s, Yakovlev was deeply involved in the hiring of inspection firms for Oil-for-Food,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Abbas Defies Sharon On Disarming Militants, Qurei Discovers Why He's Wrong (Updated)

The Israeli-Palestinian summit between Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas collapsed into bitter recriminations yesterday, as Sharon insisted that the peace process cannot continue until Abbas and the Palestinian Authority disarms the militias and takes control of security. Abbas refused, a position he would later have reason to regret: A rare meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ended bitterly Tuesday after they failed to reach new agreements on issues related to Israel's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and on measures to rein in violence by Palestinian radicals. Less than two months before the scheduled Israeli evacuation, the leaders clashed over Abbas's efforts to confront such militant groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the release of additional Palestinians from Israeli jails and the reopening of the Gaza airport that Palestinians see as key to the future of the local economy after the pullout....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Snort Cocaine And Fund More Bombings

The BBC reports that Ecuador has broken up a drug ring that explicitly existed to fund terrorist operations for Iranian-backed and Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The ring specialized in providing cocaine for users in South America, the Middle East, and Europe: Police in Ecuador say they have broken up an international drugs ring which was raising money for the Islamic militant group, Hezbollah. The authorities have declined to give details of the gang's alleged links with the group, but say it was sending Hezbollah up to 70% of its profits. Ecuadorean officials say the drugs network was run by a Lebanese restaurant owner in the capital, Quito. ... The police investigation, codenamed Operation Damascus, led to the arrests of a further 19 people Brazil and the United States. Whoever got arrested in the US for participating in this trafficking scheme should face charges of treason, if the suspects hold American citizenship and...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

A Frontrunner Only The Exempt Media Would Select

Ron Fournier exposes the lack of insight most of the media have into the GOP with his soon-to-be-an-embarrassment column on the 2008 presidential race today, naming John McCain as the Republican frontrunner for the nomination: If you want to be the next president, it's time to start running unless your name is Hillary Rodham Clinton or John McCain. They can wait. And wait, as front-runners tend to do. "They're 800-pound gorillas," says Democratic consultant Jeff Link of Iowa. "They're well-known, well-liked and will be heavy favorites in their respective parties." ... McCain has the opposite problem. He is favored by a majority of Democrats and independents who would vote in a general election, but his support among Republicans is less than ideal. If he seeks the presidency, McCain's challenge would be maintain his appeal to moderates while highlighting in the GOP nomination fight his support of Bush on Iraq...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

A Reminder For Senator Durbin

Italy has just concluded a trial based on World War II atrocities committed by Nazis after Italy switched sides during the war. Italian authorities convicted ten former Nazis in absentia for the massacre of over 500 civilians in Sant'Anna di Stazzema, men whom the Italians believe to be alive and living in Germany to this day: In August 1944, about 300 SS troops surrounded the Tuscan village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, which had been flooded with refugees, ostensibly to hunt for partisans. Instead, they rounded up and shot villagers, according to survivors. Others were herded into basements and other enclosed spaces and killed with hand grenades. Historical documents are not clear on the precise number killed, but the most commonly cited number is 560 people. ... The slaughter was one of the worst in a series of atrocities by Nazi troops in central and northern of Italy during World War...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Why Detain Terrorists? Maybe This Will Explain It

According to a Congressional study on the proliferation of WMD and the threats posed by state and non-state actors, the likelihood of an attack on a civilian population using WMD runs between 50-70% over the next ten years. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee surveyed a group of 85 security analysts from around the world to reach this gloomy prediction: The study was commissioned by committee Chairman Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., whose nonproliferation efforts in Congress have been credited with helping the states of the former Soviet Union lessen their stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. "The bottom line is this: For the foreseeable future, the United States and other nations will face an existential threat from the intersection of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," Lugar said in a statement. Committee aides sent out surveys asking respondents the percentage probability that a biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological attack would...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

British Link To 9/11 Held In Mexico

The London Telegraph reports today that a itinerant Lebanese-born British pilot has been held in Mexico, suspected of having a link to the 9/11 attacks in the US. Mexican and US intelligence services jointly arrested Amer Hykel near the resort city of Cabo San Lucas, but have yet to give any specifics on the role he may have played: A Briton who described himself as a wandering pilot has been detained by Mexican authorities and could be linked to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, officials have said. Amer Haykel, 45, identified as a British citizen of Lebanese descent, was arrested on Monday at the volunteer fire station of Todos Santos, on the Pacific coast about 35 miles north-west of Cabo San Lucas. Mexico's federal attorney general's office said US authorities linked Haykel "to extremist groups believed to be involved with September 11 attacks in New York". It...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Tories Ready To Try Again?

CTV reports that the Conservatives may try again to topple the Liberal government, this time focusing on the NDP budget amendment C-48 which gave PM Paul Martin a tie in the Commons, saving his grip on power by the single vote of the Speaker. The effort reverses an agreement reached earlier with the Liberals to delay action on C-38, the gender-neutral marriage proposal, until after the summer recess: Ottawa is buzzing over word that the Conservatives may once again try to bring the minority Liberal government down before the end of the month. The showdown could happen at the end of this week, or early next week, when the government's top priority budget add-on bill, Bill C-48, comes to a final vote. "I expect we're going to have every member in our caucus here whenever the vote is," B.C. Conservative MP John Reynolds told CTV News on Wednesday. "Whether it's...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 23, 2005

Addressing The Symptom And Not The Disease

The House passed a Constitutional amendment that will guarantee Congress the power to regulate how the flag is treated, including the power to outlaw "desecration" of the American flag, on a fairly bipartisan vote. The measure now goes to the Senate, which has killed it in years past on a more partisan basis, but the Washington Post reports that may change this year: A constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to ban flag burning passed the House yesterday, and congressional leaders said it has a strong chance to clear the Senate for the first time, sending it to the states for ratification. The House has passed the measure four times before, but it has always fallen short of the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate. But several changes in the Senate shifted several votes to the bill's supporters, and a lobbyist who leads the opposition said the absence of one...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Preparing The Next Obstructionist Target

Senate Democrats have selected their next target for their new obstructionist tactics of demanding more and more documentation as an excuse to filibuster an executive nomination. In this case, however, they won't demand documentation on the nominee, but on the man whom the nominee will replace: The senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee has warned the Pentagon that he may block the nomination of a new defense policy chief unless documents involving the departing policy head -- Douglas J. Feith -- are turned over for review. The action by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) threatens to hold up another important presidential appointment as lawmakers remain deadlocked with the Bush administration over the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. That dispute, too, involves Democratic requests for documents the White House has refused to surrender. ... Levin has criticized Feith for portraying the relationship as...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Latest Ohio Post-Mortem -- No GOP Fraud Or Suppression

The Democrats' long-awaited study on the presidential election in Ohio produced plenty of complaints of long lines and malfunctioning machines, but did not come close to proving any fraud or suppression by Republicans, despite claims to the contrary by DNC chair Howard Dean: A five-month study for the Democratic National Committee found that more than one in four Ohio voters experienced problems at the polls last fall, , but the study did not find evidence of widespread election fraud that might have contributed to President Bush's narrow victory there. The detailed report, released Wednesday, said that disproportionately high numbers of blacks and young people had complained about long lines, intimidation and malfunctioning machines. But Democratic officials said they could not conclude that Mr. Bush's Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, would have won in Ohio even if voting had gone smoothly. ... But Dr. Dean said the volume of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

May Your Wishes Come True

USA Today reports that a terrorist on Saudi Arabia's most-wanted list was killed in an American attack on an al-Qaeda stronghold in northern Iraq. A message from terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi confirmed that Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud "got what he wished", which is to say, he died with a gun in one hand and the Qu'ran in the other: The Web statement said Abdullah Mohammed Rashid al-Roshoud was killed in fighting near Qaim, on the border with Syria. It was signed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most notorious terrorist leader in Iraq. The statement did not say when al-Roshoud was killed, but U.S. forces have launched a series of offensives near Qaim in past weeks against militants coming across the border. ... "When the Crusaders could not enter the area, the only thing they could do was bombard the mujahedeen with warplanes," it said. "Our sheik (al-Roshoud) got what...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

But The Chemicals Came Out Of Nowhere, Apparently

Instapundit and Trey Jackson link to a Washington Post story about a trial of 13 terrorists who attempted to stage a massive chemical attack on Amman, Jordan last year. Jordanian intelligence caught the Zarqawi-led ring before they had a chance to detonate chemical weapons on a scale that could have killed thousands: Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday. Col. Najeh al-Azam was giving evidence in the trial of 13 men who are alleged to have planned what would have been the world's first chemical attack by the al-Qaida terror group. The accused include al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia. Jordanian security services foiled the plot in April last year. Jordanian officials say that had...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

We're From The Government -- We're Here To Move You

The Supreme Court has ruled that cities can seize property under eminent domain, even if that property has been put to productive use and maintained properly, for commercial as well as public use as long as one can stretch an argument about "public use" to its breaking point. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS upheld the confiscation of private homes in New London, CT, so that the city could build a new facility for Pfizer Labs: In a 5-4 decision, the court upheld the ability of New London, Conn., to seize people's homes to make way for an office, residential and retail complex supporting a new $300 million research facility of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company. The city had argued that the project served a public use within the meaning of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution because it would increase tax revenues, create jobs and improve the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Crying Game Continues

The one Republican that Democrats hate more than George Bush appeared in New York yesterday to talk about the opposition party and how they failed to heed the lessons of 9/11. Karl Rove's criticisms enraged Democrats, who today demanded a retraction: Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State. Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Iraqi PM: No Timetables

With Democrats renewing their calls for an exit timetable for American troops in Iraq, the head of the Iraqi government traveled to the United States to confirm what the Bush administration and the Pentagon have said all along -- that so-called "exit strategies" amount to little more than retreat plans in the face of terrorists: The U.S.-led multinational force must stay in Iraq until Iraqi forces are fully prepared to defend the country by themselves, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Thursday. Setting of a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces would be a sign of weakness, he said. "The country would be open to increased terrorist activity," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ahead of his White House meeting Friday with President Bush, al-Jaafari said Iraq's insurgency consisted of a "very, very limited minority" of people. The Iraqi sees this issue for what it is. Dictating a...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 24, 2005

A Suggested Site For New York's Football Stadium

Michael Bloomberg need look no further than a site for New York's controversial new football stadium than the offices of the New York Times, or perhaps the home of its publisher, Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger. In today's editorial, the Paper of Record cheers the Supreme Court decision in the Kelo case yesterday and its attack on property rights: The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest. It also is a setback to the "property rights" movement, which is trying to block government from imposing reasonable zoning and environmental regulations. ... In a blistering dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor lamented that the decision meant that the government could transfer any private property from the owner to another person with more political influence "so...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Mugabe Takes Revenge On Urban Poor For Supporting Opposition

Robert Mugabe has set out to chase the poor out of the cities and into concentration camps, the London Telegraph reports, by bulldozing their houses and leaving them homeless. Unfortunately for a few Zimbabweans, Mugabe's bulldozer squads don't feel particular about checking to see if the houses are empty first, resulting in the crushing deaths of at least two babies in the past two weeks: "The police came. They had been sent to destroy the house," said Herbert Nyika, Charmaine's father. "They knocked down the building, the walls; they smashed everything. This was when our child was trapped inside. She died there." Her mother, Lavender, said: "I blame the government because it is they who instructed the police to do what they did. It is terrible. I have lost my daughter in such a strange way." She added: "Of course they have managed to clean up the city but at...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Martin Pulls Off Another Political High-Wire Trick

Prime Minister Paul Martin reached into his parliamentary bag of tricks again last night and outfoxed Tory leader Stephen Harper, allowing the Liberals to set a late-night vote on a crucial budget amendment that keeps them in control of the government: The contentious budget amendment bill passed 152 to 147 in the House of Commons Thursday in a late-night, snap vote. In a move that caught the Conservative opposition off guard, Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri proposed a rarely-used time allocation motion in the House of Commons, cutting off debate on Bill C-48. The motion passed easily. And as the clock ticked close to midnight ET, MPs voted on the bill's third and final reading. ... "It bushwhacked the Conservatives. They didn't see this coming," said CTV's Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife. Martin took advantage of a rarely-used procedure to call the vote unexpectedly at 11:30 PM. He also managed...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Guess Who's Paying Zarqawi?

According to the US News and World Report, Islamist terrorist groups in Iraq not only get support and funding from dispossessed Saddamites and disgruntled Syrians, but also have a stream of donations coming from Europe itself. David Kaplan discovers that "liberal" Europe has a network of donors stuffing spare euros into Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's pockets: Who's funding the insurgents in Iraq? The list of suspects is long: ex-Baathists, foreign jihadists, and angry Sunnis, to name a few. Now add to that roster hard-core Euroleftists. Turns out that far-left groups in western Europe are carrying on a campaign dubbed Ten Euros for the Resistance, offering aid and comfort to the car bombers, kidnappers, and snipers trying to destabilize the fledgling Iraq government. In the words of one Italian website, Iraq Libero (Free Iraq), the funds are meant for those fighting the occupanti imperialisti. The groups are an odd collection, made up...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

US Acknowledges Torture, And Prosecution Of Those Committing It

The United States has submitted a report to the United Nations that acknowledges its personnel has committed isolated acts of torture on detainees, the French wire service AFP reports. Its unnamed source says that the American report was very forthright and involved a handful of cases which the US military intends on prosecuting as crimes: Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said. The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity. "They are no longer trying to duck this, and have respected their obligation to inform the UN," the Committee member told AFP. ... "They haven't avoided anything in their answers, whether concerning prisoners in Iraq,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Judicial Activism: Not A New Worry

Earlier today, in the aftermath of the Kelo decision, a CQ reader reminded me that judicial activism is not a new phenomenon. In fact, some of the greatest jurists in American history have opined on its dangers for more than a century. They accurately predicted the politicization of the judiciary and the overarching reach the bench could garner through the philosophy of the "living Constitution". Here are the echoes of protest and warning that have gone unheeded until, perhaps, we are too late to stop the worst of its damage. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, in 1916: We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what judges say it is . . . . Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone, in 1936: . . . the only check upon our own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, in 1930: As the decisions...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Quality Of Debate: E-Mails Of The Week

I get e-mail from a lot of people, some of it supportive, and some of it critical. I find that most of it is well-written and open for dialogue, even those who disagree with me. Every once in a while, however, I'll get a mouthbreather who thinks that tossing insults and a few F-bombs amounts to principled and intelligent debate. Normally, I don't comment or reply to these; I calculate it as one of the costs of having a higher profile and simply keep them for my own amusement. However, I just received two from one particular mouthbreather that I simply have to share with CQ readers. Today's messages come from a Jeff Oliver, whose first e-mail came with the subject "rove": no room for comments eh? no room for argument. how typical. you're a yellow fucking coward. Obviously, Jeff has some comprehension problems, because at the bottom of each...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Which Clinton Will Run In 2008?

CQ reader Retired Military points out an effort that has gone pretty much unnoticed for the past four months; it's not breaking news, but it is curious. In February, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer introduced a Constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, co-sponsored by Berman (D-CA), Pallone (D-NJ), Sabo (D-MN) and oddly enough, Sensenbrenner (R-WI). For those who don't have their Robert Byrd Pocket Constitution with them ("Don't leave the House without it"), the 22nd Amendment put term limits on the presidency. Why did four Democrats, including the House whip, decide to dump the 22nd amendment? Here's Hoyer's explanation: We do not have to rely on rigid constitutional standards to hold our Presidents accountable. Sufficient power resides in the Congress and the Judiciary to protect our country from tyranny. ... Furthermore, a lame duck President serving in his second term is less effective dealing with the Congress and the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Time To Send A Little Reassurance To The Troops

The Emperor Darth Misha at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler received an e-mail about a soldier in Iraq who questions our support for the troops and the mission based on the media reports that our men and women have been hearing. The Emperor is starting an e-mail campaign for bloggers and blog-readers to send messages to this soldier and his friends. Take a moment to send a supportive message to the troops through the auspices of Darth Misha as soon as you get an opportunity....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Hardliner 'Wins' Iranian Election

Little-known Teheran mayor and hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the run-off for the Iranian presidency in a development that indicates the Guardian Council has had enough of negotiating with the West and appeasing the burgeoning democracy movement in Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran who has invoked Iran's 1979 revolution and expressed doubts about rapprochement with the United States, won a runoff election Friday and was elected president of the Islamic republic in a landslide, the Interior Ministry announced early Saturday. Ahmadinejad defeated Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former two-term president who had won the first round of voting last week and was attempting to appeal to socially moderate and reform-minded voters. ... With 85 percent of votes counted, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, which oversees Iran's electoral process, said returns showed Ahmadinejad leading with 61.8 percent of the vote, to 35.7 for Rafsanjani. Officials said 47 percent...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 25, 2005

Class-Action Fraud Alleged At Legal Firm

The rapid growth of class-action lawsuits has created a booming industry for the legal profession, one which promises big payouts for relatively little work as defendants tend get intimidated into settlements rather than go to court. Such lucrative opportunities eventually attracts those with lower ethical bars to cut corners and create shortcuts to greater amounts of money, and the feds believe they have found just that problem at one of the most prominent class-action legal firms in the country: Federal prosecutors here have charged a retired Palm Springs, Calif., lawyer with taking kickbacks from a prominent New York law firm in exchange for serving as plaintiff in dozens of class-action and shareholder lawsuits that earned the firm $44 million over 20 years. The indictment against 78-year-old Seymour M. Lazar, unsealed Thursday, stems from a years-long investigation by the U.S. attorney's office into the practices of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes &...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Roberts: Enough Is Enough On Bolton

Senator Pat Roberts, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who has tried to act as an intermediary between the White House and the Senate Democrats on the confirmation of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN, pronounced that he's had enough of Democratic obstructionism on the topic. The New York Times reports that Roberts now has urged Bush to cease negotiating on Bolton and give him a recess appointment instead: The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that it would be a mistake for the White House to bend further to Democratic demands related to John R. Bolton's handling of intelligence material. In an interview, the chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, said he now expected that President Bush would grant a recess appointment to Mr. Bolton, whose nomination as ambassador to the United Nations has been blocked by Senate Democrats for more than a month. ......

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Making Saddam Look Like A Petty Thief

Now that the subject of Africa has re-emerged as a central issue in international politics, especially in terms of how best to get the perennially struggling continent back to self-sufficiency, the question of corruption has become a central sticking point once again. Unfortunately for those of us who would like to find a way to do something effective, the question got a big answer in today's London Telegraph, which reports that the previous leaders of Africa's most prosperous nation stole more than $400 billion dollars over the last several decades: The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused 220 billion. That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Northern Alliance Radio Today

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today at its usual time, noon to 3 pm CDT, to discuss the political and cultural issues of the week. Certainly, high up on our topic list will be the Iranian election, the Kelo decision, Karl Rove, Dick Durbin, and much, much more. In our second hour, we'll interview Christina Hoff Summers, author of One Nation Under Therapy, which warns how our "helping" culture undermines self-reliance. And in our third hour, we will launch our first Un-Pledge Drive, where we encourage listeners to cancel their subscriptions to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune because of their increasingly delusional editorial board. If you are in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, but if you live elsewhere, you can also listen to us on the station's Internet stream from its website. Call in and join the conversation at 651-289-4488...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Training To Work With The Majority

Tony Blair surprised Democrats today by arranging to have his eldest son Euan take an internship with a leading Congressman in the US -- House Rules Committee chair and Republican, David Dreier: Euan Blair is to spend three months unpaid with the Republican majority on the House of Representatives Committee on Rules, the Sunday Telegraph revealed. He will reportedly be under the wing of Californian lawmaker David Dreier, the committee's chairman and a member of the lower House of Representatives for the Republican Party of US President George W. Bush. Blair obviously wants to prepare Euan for a life in politics, and apparently in particular wants him to have plenty of experience with Britain's most strategic ally. The choice of Dreier and the Rules Committee could be read in many different ways, but it's safe to say that the choice is deliberate, as the Democrats would have happily taken Euan...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 26, 2005

US Negotiating With Iraqi Insurgency

The Times of London reports this morning that the US has opened negotiations with the native insurgents in Iraq, attempting to find a way to bring the Iraqis opposing the new order in Iraq into the mainstream without violence. Hala Jaber reports that sources within the insurgency have disclosed the meetings and that progress went well enough to stage a second round of talks ten days later and to plan for even more talks: After weeks of delicate negotiation involving a former Iraqi minister and senior tribal leaders, a small group of insurgent commanders apparently came face to face with four American officials seeking to establish a dialogue with the men they regard as their enemies. The talks on June 3 were followed by a second encounter 10 days later, according to an Iraqi who said that he had attended both meetings. Details provided to The Sunday Times by two...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Dreams Of Palestinian Women

Manuela Dviri of the Telegraph follows up on the story of Wafa Samir al-Biss, the young Palestinian woman who tried to repay the Israelis for their generosity in providing her medical assistance for her burn scars by becoming a suicide bomber for Fatah. Dviri interviewed Biss about her attempt to kill Israelis and the motivation for suicide bombing: The girl had big, brown eyes and her black hair was tied in a ponytail, but it was the strangeness of her gait that attracted the attention of the security officials at the Erez crossing, the main transit point between Israel and the Gaza Strip. When a soldier asked her to remove her long, dark cloak, she turned to face him. All her movements were taped by the military surveillance camera at the checkpoint: calmly, deliberately, she took off her clothing, item by item, until she looked like any normal young woman...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Harper Hits The Road But Passes On The Parade

Stephen Harper has started out on his summer-long effort to connect with the Canadian electorate, starting off by opening the annual Dragon Boat festival in Toronto. He engaged in banter with the friendly crowd, asking for a rescue if he jumped into the lake to cool off, but his choice of apparel -- a business suit, sans tie -- looked a bit out of place and uncomfortable, an unfortunate allegory to his last few weeks in the Commons: Tory Leader Stephen Harper continued his image makeover tour Saturday after an embarrassing week that saw his party ambushed on a budget bill it had promised to defeat. Mr. Harper helped launch Toronto's International Dragon Boat Race Festival by cracking jokes about a quick rescue if he were to leap into Lake Ontario to escape the stifling heat. ... The embattled leader, who plans to hit the barbeque and festival circuit this...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

What A Difference Actual Research Makes

After blathering on for weeks about the supposed gulag-like conditions at Guantanamo Bay, members of Congress finally visited the facility for themselves this week. To no one's great surprise, they left with a considerably change in their attitude after having done some actual research: During a tour of the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists on Saturday, House Republicans and Democrats, including one who has advocated closing the facility, said the United States has made progress in improving conditions and protecting detainees' rights. ... "The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif. Still, lawmakers from both parties agree more still must be done to ensure an adequate legal process is in place to handle detainee cases. In the meantime, said Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., "I think they're doing the best they can to define due process here." ......

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Bicentennial Rick, Old Glory, And Dodger Stadium

My friends and colleagues at Power Line and Shot In The Dark post today about one of the many memorable moments from Dodger Stadium. Rather than a baseball play or a championship season, though, they recall the heroic actions of then-Chicago Cubs outfielder Rick Monday on April 25, 1976, when he rescued the flag from protestors who had run onto the field to burn it. Make sure you read both posts, but being the lifelong Dodger fan that I am, I'd like to add another perspective to this story. First, here's the story from Larry Henry, a sportswriter from the Everett Herald in Washington, written in 1998 to celebrate Flag Day: On this spring day in '76, he was on a Cubs team that was headed for a fourth-place finish in the National League East. It was the fourth inning with the Dodgers batting. The Vietnam War had ended a...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 27, 2005

Another Jihadi Gets His Wish

The UAE-based Khaleej Times reports that US and Iraqi forces killed the number-two man in the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi network over the weekend, using a Jordanian newspaper as its source. Khalid Suleiman Darwish had apparently been regarded in Arab circles as Zarqawi's successor during the period when Zarqawi's condition appeared serious enough that a transition appeared possible. Now the dentist has transitioned himself into the ground: A senior member of Iraqs Al Qaeda branch was killed recently in a US crackdown on insurgents in the Iraqi town of Qaim near the Syrian border, a Jordanian newspaper reported yesterday. Khalid Suleiman Darwish, better known as Abu Alghadiya, was among those killed in the operation, the daily Alghad quoted well- informed sources as saying. Abu Alghadiya, a Syrian dentist married to a Jordanian woman, was described by Arab media as the number two in Iraqs Al Qaeda network and tipped to succeed...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Jaafari Calls Europe To Pay It Forward

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari writes a lengthy call for Europe to step up to the plate in today's Times of London, regarding Iraqi reconstruction after its establishment of Western-style democracy. Invoking the Marshall Plan that rescued the Continent after the devastation of two World Wars, Jaafari pleads with a revitalized Europe to now adopt Iraq and the Middle East the way America adopted Germany and Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II: Marshall said: Our policy is not directed against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Today is the time for a new international Marshall plan towards Iraq and the broader Middle East directed not for or against any policy but against ignorance, tyranny, hatred and anarchy. Marshall repaired the decaying infrastructure of Germany after six years of war and 12 years of Nazi rule. In Iraq we have had nearly...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

'He Fooled Me'

L. Patrick Gray has long been a footnote in the annals of the Watergate scandals, a status that kept him in relative obscurity until recently. He had the misfortune of succeeding J. Edgar Hoover as the interim Director of the FBI, but rapidly lost the confidence of the Nixon White House when the President suspected that some of the Watergate leaks came from his top-level staff. That led to the notorious order to "let him twist slowly in the wind" that signaled the end of his aspirations to make his appointment official. In an extraordinary interview with George Stephanopolous yesterday, Gray talked about his betrayal by both Richard Nixon and his FBI assistant whom he admired until the moment, this year, when Gray discovered he had been stabbing him in the back all along: Former acting FBI chief L. Patrick Gray III said in a television interview broadcast yesterday that...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being ... Bill Frist

Charles Babington takes a critical look at the presidential aspirations of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in today's Washington Post. While Frist has never come out as a contender for 2008, his candidacy has been widely expected, and earlier he seemed to have an inside track to frontrunner status thanks to his high profile and the success of extending the GOP majority after the last election. Unfortunately for Frist, a series of miscalculations and apparent reversals have left that reputation in tatters, to the point where Frist now has the reputation as lacking in either ability or enthusiasm for political battle. That reputation will likely sink Frist's ambitions for higher office, Babington writes: By noon last Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist seemed done with John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador. Bustling from the Capitol to have lunch with President Bush, he told reporters he planned no further...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Friends Of Our Enemies

The Bush administration may promulgate new sanctions against entities that do business with sanctioned firms suspected of trading in WMD or assisting terrorist groups around the world. Existing sanctions target the firms or entities themselves, but the new concept is to expand that ring one level outward to encompass anyone doing business with those firms: The Bush administration is planning new measures that would target the U.S. assets of anyone conducting business with a handful of Iranian, North Korean and Syrian companies believed by Washington to be involved in weapons programs, administration officials said yesterday. ... But the draft executive order goes far beyond previous measures by threatening the U.S. assets of individuals or companies, including foreign banks, that do business with those on the list. "If there is a bank in some European capital that is participating in working with one of the entities and that bank has some...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

SCOTUS: Decalogue For We But Not For Thee

The Supreme Court released its long-awaited decision on the display of the Ten Commandments this morning, deciding on a narrow 5-4 majority to ignore the frieze behind themselves and rule such displays unconstitutional without diluting them with multicultural trappings. The dissent authored by Justice Scalia scorched the "dictatorship of a shifting Supreme Court majority" as a governing principle: In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message. ... The justices voting on the prevailing side Monday left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays like their own courtroom frieze would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history. But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Alone Again, Unnaturally

Howard Kurtz recaps the Dick Durbin and Karl Rove brouhahas in today's Media Notes, detailing the differing responses that the mainstream media gave each speech. Kurtz points out the lack of attention given by the Exempt Media to Senator Durbin's equation of Camp X-Ray to Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, crediting the New Media for forcing the issue to the forefront of debate: When Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin used a Nazi analogy to describe incidents of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, it wasn't much of a story at first. Even when White House spokesman Scott McClellan called Durbin's remarks "reprehensible," "NBC Nightly News" gave the matter three sentences and the other network newscasts ignored it. The NBC and ABC newscasts covered Durbin's tearful apology last week, but the "CBS Evening News" took a pass. ... The Durbin controversy has been fueled...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

We're Delighted You Take This Seriously

Celebrities, for some reason, continually get drawn to political issues on which they know next to nothing. Most of the time, this makes for meaningless and harmless political comedy; this week, we had Tom Cruise lecture Matt Lauer on psychopharmacology, in what had to be one of the more evenly-matched battle of lightweights since Peter Kane squared off against Benny Lynch in Glasgow, Scotland. Sometimes it leads to silly scares with serious consequences, such as Meryl Streep's Alar scare in the 1980s. And at times, the idiocy of the celebrity class actually promises to do real damage. For an example, various Canadian celebrities have banded together to spring a terror suspect from prison in Canada, as the Globe & Mail reports today: A suspected terrorist is getting some high-profile support in Federal Court. Syrian national Hassan Almrei has been held in solitary confinement since October, 2001, and wants to be...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Britain Acknowledges Contacts With Insurgents

In a press conference this afternoon, British PM Tony Blair confirmed that the UK had made contacts with the native Iraqi insurgency in an attempt to push them into the legitimate political process. This comes after the Times of London revealed this weekend that the Americans had held two or more meetings with the primarily Sunni bombers, hoping to leverage tribal and family connections to convince the Iraqi component that further fighting was senseless: Britain has been involved in political negotiations with some Iraqi insurgents, Tony Blair revealed today, as he predicted the next year would be "decisive" in determining the country's future. After a weekend which saw the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, admit that American officers had been meeting insurgents in a bid to split the resistance, the prime minister told reporters Britain was also "engaged" in behind the scenes talks. Mr Blair refused to speculate on when...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Further Education Of Dick Durbin, Amnesty Int'l, Et Al

Today's Independent (UK) reports on the experience of a Tibetan nun who had the misfortune of once declaring her loyalty to the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet. When she was thirteen years old, Chinese authorities arrested Ngawang Sangdrol for taking part in a peaceful demonstration for Tibetan freedom. Once behind bars, her jailers made no distinction for her age or gender in tormenting the teen almost to her death: Ngawang Sangdrol was just 13 when she was first imprisoned by China in Tibet. She was so small her prison guards found it easy to pick her up by the legs and drop her, head first, on to the stone floor of her cell. They beat her with iron rods, placed electric shock batons in her mouth and left her standing in the baking heat until she collapsed of exhaustion. They called her the "ballerina", because when the pain became...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

And On The Seventh Day, We Prosecuted 'Em

The Washington Post posts an AP report this afternoon about boot-camp abuse that carries the breathless headline, "Army Recruits Quickly Abused in Training". The opening paragraphs describe the abuse given to recruits at Fort Knox, right from the time they climbed down off the bus -- or in this case, thrown off of it: The recruits of Echo Company stumbled off the bus for basic training at Fort Knox to the screams of red-faced drill instructors. That much was expected. But it got worse from there. Echo Company's top drill instructor seized a recruit by the back of the neck and threw him to the ground. Other soldiers were poked, grabbed or cursed. Once inside the barracks, Pvt. Jason Steenberger says, he was struck in the chest by the top D.I. and kicked "like a football." Andrew Soper, who has since left the Army, says he was slapped and punched...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 28, 2005

Woe, Canada: CEOs

Canadian business leaders have begun to sound the alarm over what they perceive as a threat to the Canadian economy from minority government rule. The Canadian Council of Chief Executives warn that the excessive political game-playing will undermine the basic economic structure of the nation as politicians play with taxpayer money to protect their jobs: Canada's top CEOs are warning that a failure of leadership by Ottawa on the economy has left the country without a long-term strategy to survive increasingly brutal global competition. In a declaration being released today, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said the minority-government situation has left federal leaders preoccupied with short-term politicking -- and prone to excessive spending. "As a political entity, Canada is a nation adrift," said the business group representing 150 leading CEOs. Prone to excessive spending? No kidding. Paul Martin in the past month alone has given out billions of dollars...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Sistani Blesses Major Concession To Sunnis

In another sign that the Iraqis continue to adapt quickly to democratic politics, the spiritual leader of the Shi'a in Iraq gave his blessing to a major concession to his rival Sunnis that could result in greater representation for the former ruling minority in Parliament. That promises to create less tension over the development of the new Iraqi constitution and create serious momentum for the scheduled December elections: Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric appeared to offer a major concession to the Sunni Arab minority on Monday when he indicated that he would support changes in the voting system that would probably give Sunnis more seats in the future parliament. In a meeting with a group of Sunni and Shiite leaders, the cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, outlined a proposal that would scrap the system used in the January election, according to a secular Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Yasiri, who was...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Speaking To The Choir?

President Bush will give a speech tonight from Fort Bragg to revive American support for the extended effort needed to secure Iraq and establish a major base for the expansion of democracy in the Middle East. With unrelenting negative coverage coming from Baghdad, Bush hopes to use his prime-time address with a presumably enthusiastic Fort Bragg audience to highlight the mission's successes and the progress made towards democracy. Bush hopes to bolster the national morale and secure a mandate for our continued work in that effort. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, that may not be as tough a sale as first predicted. Despite some skepticism about our efforts to reduce the insurgency so far, a majority of Americans already reject the cut-and-run option: As President Bush prepares to address the nation about Iraq tonight, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that most Americans do not believe the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Balk!

I saw this report about Republican reaction to a bid by an investment team that includes George Soros to buy the Washington Nationals, the new DC major-league franchise -- and I hoped that Roll Call had it wrong. The Washington Post also covered it in their sports section (link via Michelle Malkin), but unfortunately the story hardly improved in the retelling. GOP Congressmen John Sweeney and Tom Davis issued veiled threats to Major League Baseball if the latter allowed Soros to buy into the national pastime: Major League Baseball hasn't narrowed the list of the eight bidders seeking to buy the Washington Nationals and some Republicans on Capitol Hill already are hinting at revoking the league's antitrust exemption if billionaire financier George Soros , an ardent critic of President Bush and supporter of liberal causes, buys the team. "It's not necessarily smart business sense to have anybody who is so...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Lords Of The Bling

When New Line Cinema announced that it had committed to a three-picture deal with a relatively unknown director from New Zealand to bring the epic Lord Of The Rings to the screen, people wondered whether New Line management had lost its mind. Estimates of the budget ran to $450 million, a huge investment for any film project, especially for a genre series -- a genre which had disappointed Hollywood and the box office on many previous occasions. Peter Jackson and New Line wound up winning the gamble, making three of the most successful films ever, commercially and artistically, and generating billions in revenue. Now success appears to have brought out the worst in everyone, as so often happens in Hollywood. Jackson filed suit against New Line for cooking its books to keep millions of dollars it owes to Jackson under the terms of its deal: What if Frodo Baggins, instead...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Clairvoyant New Media

Don't mess with the AP's Jennifer Loven -- she apparently is the wire service's resident fortune-teller. More than three hours before George Bush wil speak at Fort Bragg to review progress on Iraq and the war on terror, Loven has already heard him speak and delivers her analysis (via Michelle Malkin): President Bush on Tuesday appealed for the nation's patience for "difficult and dangerous" work ahead in Iraq, hoping a backdrop of U.S. troops and a reminder of Iraq's revived sovereignty would help him reclaim control of an issue that has eroded his popularity. In an evening address at an Army base that has 9,300 troops in Iraq, Bush was acknowledging the toll of the 27-month-old war. At the same time, he aimed to persuade skeptical Americans that his strategy for victory needed only time not any changes to be successful. Wow! Here I am, thinking that I...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Mark Twain Option

When I wrote about my reaction to the Kelo decision, I included a portion of a letter written by Mark Twain over 120 years ago that I felt spoke directly to the issue. After losing a copyright case that he clearly should have won, Twain wrote the following in a letter to a Massachusetts group seeking to honor him with an award: It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that judge's homestead for sale,...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Bush Speech: Live Blog

7:00 - The audience is coming to attention as Bush walks across the stage. He looks a bit nervous but as soon as he got to the podium, he looks happy to face this audience. 7:03 - He underscores Iraq as one phase of the overall war on terror, vowing that terrorists will not chase us from the battle with a couple of blows. 7:06 - It appears to me that the soldiers at Fort Bragg have orders not to react. Bush has not paused much in his delivery, as he normally would if he expected applause or cheers, such as a stump speech. His pace, therefore, is better than normal. 7:10 - He will not allow defeat on his watch -- nice touch. 7:11 - Notes that only a year ago, Iraqi sovereignty was restored. Notes that progress has been uneven but has kept moving forward. Int'l orgs and...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

CQ In DC Next Week!

As many of you already know, I will appear at the Heritage Foundation on July 8th to speak at a symposium on bloggers, journalism, and the convergence of the old and new media. Mark Tapscott, the Director for Heritage's Center for Media and Public Policy, has titled the presentation as "Are Bloggers and Journalists Friends Or Enemies"? Originally, Mark had lined up Jim Hill, the managing editor for the Washington Post Writers Group, as my counterbalance for the presentation. Mark has now added Daniel Glover, the managing editor for National Journal's Technology Daily. Daniel also runs the NJ's Beltway Blogroll blog. Here's the description from the Heritage Foundation invitation: American blogger Ed Morrissey has broken story after sordid story on Canada's multi-million dollar Adscam scandal. But are bloggers "real" journalists? Are bloggers and journalists natural enemies or allies in reporting the news? Or are bloggers a completely new kind of...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 29, 2005

Editorial Response To Bush Speech: Predictable

A read through the editorial pages of the three largest and most influential newspapers in the US shows nothing terribly surprising in terms of their response to George Bush's speech last night. The Washington Post offers limited and qualified support, while the Los Angeles Times takes the glass-half-empty approach and the New York Times ... well, the NYT just takes the MoveOn position of screaming every time 9/11 gets mentioned in connection with fighting terrorists. The Post acknowledges that the connections between the fight in Iraq are legitimate, something that neither of the other two papers will admit, but claims that Bush erred by giving nothing but the sunny side of the situation in Iraq. They also fault Bush for not explaining how the strategic position changed: PRESIDENT BUSH sought last night to bolster slipping public support for the war in Iraq by connecting it, once again, to the attacks...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Got Milk?

Today's Los Angeles Times runs a scare story on the security holes in the nation's food supply, focusing on milk production and delivery. In a report that the Department of Health and Human Services wanted to keep quiet, Stanford researchers determined that a third of an ounce of botulinum toxin poured into a milk tanker could kill hundreds of thousands of people and potentially destabilize the food industry: About a third of an ounce of botulinum toxin poured into a milk truck en route from a dairy farm to a processing plant could cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in economic losses, according to a scientific analysis published Tuesday despite efforts by federal officials to keep the details secret. The study by Lawrence M. Wein and Yifan Liu of Stanford University discusses such questions as how terrorists could release the toxin and what effective amounts might...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Thank You, Mark Steyn (And John Hawkins)

John Hawkins has posted his second interview with one of the most lucid and erudite columnists currently writing, Mark Steyn. John's been doing a great job getting major media figures for interviews, and his interview with Steyn shows why. It's an excellent read. (The first interview can be found here.) Like my friends at Power Line, however, I have to take a bit of special pride in this passage at the end: John Hawkins: So what blogs are you reading regularly these days? Mark Steyn: I read a wide range. They come and go, but Im still reading many of those I mentioned to you last time round, like Natalie Solent in Britain and Tim Blair down under. Going back to my earlier point about the dullness of many newspaper comment pages, look at, say, Saskatchewan: its got a yawnsville newspaper - The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and one of the...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Muslims For America?

MS-NBC reports that an Islamic community in California has fired its imam for speaking out in support of Osama bin Laden, perhaps the first time an American Muslim cleric has been publicly disciplined for anti-American rhetoric. However, it took a federal arrest for the mosque's directors to make a stand on behalf of their country: A mosque has fired a religious leader accused of speaking out against the United States and supporting Osama bin Laden in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Shabbir Ahmed, 39, is one of two imams detained on immigration charges as part of an FBI investigation into alleged terror activities in the Islamic community in Lodi, a wine-growing region about 30 miles south of Sacramento. The mosques board of directors unanimously voted to fire Ahmed in a special session Sunday night, said Mohammed Shoaib, president of Lodi Muslim Mosque. The Lodi Muslim Mosque deserves some...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Passport Fraud On The Rise

One of the major areas of concern during this global war on terrorism is border security -- keeping out those who don't belong here while keeping the borders flexible enough for normal trade and tourism. Passports should be the primary tool for ensuring security, but as the New York Times reports, passports routinely get issued to people whose applications should raise red flags: The names of more than 30 fugitives, including 9 murder suspects and one person on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted list, did not trigger any warnings in a test of the nation's passport processing system, federal auditors have found. Insufficient oversight by the State Department allows criminals, illegal immigrants and suspected terrorists to fraudulently obtain a United States passport far too easily, according to a report on the test by the Government Accountability Office to be released Wednesday. The lapses occurred because passport applications are not...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

New Iranian President Old Iranian Hostage-Taker

Gateway Pundit, My Pet Jawa, and LGF all have highly interesting documentation -- including a number of photographs -- that appear to indict newly-elected Iranian President as one of the radicals who seized the American embassy in 1979. The photographic evidence is bolstered by a number of sources on the background of president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that put him in the center of the organizations involved in the hostage crisis that destroyed Jimmy Carter's re-election hopes and made the US look weak and toothless. If so, and the evidence looks damning, then one could make the argument that Ahmadinejad helped start the Islamofascist offensive against the United States. These three and others have done excellent blog work in fleshing this story out. However, its impact is really more historic and academic than practical. After all, the government in Teheran now is the same as that which co-opted the hostaging, even if...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

I'd Like To Teach The World To Live-Blog ...

Trey Jackson has a video clip of today's installment of Inside The Blogs, part of CNN's Inside Politics. The team of Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner highlighted CQ today for the live-blog of the President's speech last night, and they gave me a very fair presentation. As always, I'm glad they're reading CQ, and I'm glad that Trey has the video. Check it out for other blogger highlights. NOTE: It's a bit off topic, but I wanted to thank those of you who have donated to CQ using the PayPal link on the left sidebar. It used to title the donation "RNC", which stood for Republican National Convention, when I put it on the blog to help fund my trip there. I've changed it to "Captain's Quarters Donations" for clarity....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The Dumbest Controversy Ever

The New York Times eats up several column inches on what has to be the pettiest controversy of recent memory -- The Case Of The Missing Applause. As I remarked during my live blog, the lack of reaction to George Bush's speech appeared planned, as Bush spoke at a more rapid pace than normal, without the usual politician pauses that these addresses have. Carl Cameron confirmed immediately afterwards that the audience had been told to hold off on any reaction. Apparently no one else thought to check that out, at least at the NY Times, which results in this David Sanger report: So what happened to the applause? When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah,"...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

June 30, 2005

Army Meets Recruiting Goal For June

The Army has come under considerable criticism for failing to meet its recruiting goals the past four months. Critics blame the war in Iraq for the shortfall, which has put the Army behind in its overall recruiting for the fiscal year. However, the Army has managed to meet its goal for June, according to the New York Times, which points out a different reason for lower recruitment: For the first time since January, the Army met its monthly recruiting goal in June, but it still faces what some senior Army officials say is a nearly insurmountable shortfall to meet the service's annual quota. Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a public forum at the Pentagon on Wednesday that the Army exceeded its June quota, but he gave no details. Senior Army officials said in interviews earlier in the day that the Army exceeded...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Canadian Prescription Drug Channel May Close

After a number of states have demanded access to the Canadian pharmaceutical market, where the nationalized health-care system keeps drug prices lower than in ithe US, Canadians may take action to protect their pricing and supply needs. Paul Martin's government announced that it will draft legislation limiting such sales to prevent domestic shortages, which will probably put a halt to end-arounds such as those proposed by Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty: The government announced Wednesday that it was drafting legislation to limit bulk exports of essential Canadian drugs in an effort to ensure that online pharmacy sales to the United States do not cause domestic shortages. But the proposal fell far short of what the online pharmacy industry feared might have forced it to leave Canada. It is unlikely that the two million uninsured and underinsured Americans who depend on cheaper Canadian drugs to treat chronic conditions will be immediately affected....

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Likely Voters Running Away From Democrats

A new poll by Democracy Corps on behalf of the Democratic Party shows a significant erosion of support for the Democrats among likely voters: [T]he poll indicated 43 percent of voters favored the Republican Party, while 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats. "Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more," said Stanley Greenberg, who served as President Clinton's pollster. Greenberg told the Christian Science Monitor he attributes the slippage to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view." Obstructionism and a monopoly of gainsay has undermined the Democrats during wartime, and they cannot see it. The Democrats have vaulted their radicals to the leadership positions, people like Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, all of whom think that saying "No!" amounts to responsible opposition. In all three cases, the leaders spend more time calling the GOP names and...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Ardaiz Considered For Federal Appellate Bench (Updated)

One of CQ's sources within the legal community informs me that the Bush administration is considering James Ardaiz, the presiding justice of California's Fifth District Court of Appeal, for a nomination to an opening on the notoriously far-left Ninth Circuit, which covers most of the western United States. Ardaiz has served in his present role for eleven years, an appointee of Governor Pete Wilson, after six years as an associate justice on the same circuit as an appointee of George Deukmejian. He has a total of twenty-four years of experience as a jurist, and prior to that spent six years as a prosecutor for the County of Fresno, specializing in homicide cases. Justice Ardaiz has strongly supported California's three-strikes law, and has authored a book on its use and effect. He has a long track record of working with legislatures and other jurists in the California system as spokesman for...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

The French Fascination With Terrorism

When the Left bemoans the "loss of sympathy" that followed the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, they generally point to the French reaction, as typified by Le Monde, which proclaimed all the world to be Americans on that day. Shortly afterwards, when we determined to discard the obviously-insufficient previous counterterrorism approach of criminal investigation in favor of a military response, that sympathy quickly evaporated into a fear of American overreaction. The French went even farther, using the war on terror in a pathetic attempt to position itself into a diplomatic "hyperpower" in opposition to the US, bullying other nations into opposing our efforts to force the UN to confront Saddam Hussein. Now, of course, we know all about the corruption of the Oil-For-Food program at the UN which lined French, German, and Russian pockets as one proximate cause for the loss of this "sympathy" that the American Left mourns so...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Noah: Spread The Smears Around

I wrote Tuesday about the idiocy of House Republicans who made an issue of George Soros' participation in am ownership group for the Washington Nationals, the transplanted Montreal Expos major-league baseball team which brought the American pastime back to the American capital. The silly objections of Reps. John Sweeney and Tom Davis have created a controversy over the role of politics in the team's bidding process, which NY Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg covers in a front-page article: Some Republicans went so far as to suggest that Major League Baseball, which owns the team, could lose its antitrust exemption if it permits Mr. Soros, who would be a part-owner with a group of investors headed by a local entrepreneur, to buy it - a threat that drew immediate ridicule in the sports pages and outrage from Democrats. By Wednesday, one Republican, Representative Tom Davis of Virginia, backed away from that...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

This Is A Blog. This Will Remain A Blog.

Following the depressing nature of the questions at the latest FEC hearing on regulating the Internet, it appears that some bloggers are ready to jump ship, so to speak. Jeralynn Merritt has declared yesterday as the Day the Blogs Died, and now says that TalkLeft is no longer a blog, but an "online magazine." Joining her are Americablog (which might therefore require a name change), The Talent Show, Crooks and Liars, and even Instapundit, although I suspect that Professor Reynolds has tongue firmly in cheek. Not Captain's Quarters. I may describe myself in a variety of ways, including citizen journalist, free-lance writer, pundit at large -- but foremost in this community, I am a blogger. CQ is a blog, and it will remain a blog. It will undoubtedly evolve over time, offer new concepts to the CQ community, change its look, but at its heart, Captain's Quarters will be a...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

NBC: Founding Fathers Could Have Been Terrorists

NBC's Brian Williams extended the concept of moral equivalence into the territory of the absurd in tonight's installment of the NBC Evening News. The new anchor discussed the story about Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's possible involvement in the 1979 American embassy takeover in Teheran and subsequent hostaging of its staff. As I argued earlier, Williams noted that even if true, it wouldn't make much difference in how we interact with the Iranian government, which supported the takeover and quickly co-opted it themselves. However, as Dread Pundit Bluto noted, Williams instead argued that the British likely faced the same dilemma after the creation of the United States. After all, Williams says, one can easily confuse people like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with George Washington: The White House and most official branches of government are ducking any substantive comment on this story, and photo analysis is going on at this and other news...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »

Pelosi Buries Property Rights Under A Mountain Of Ignorance

Nancy Pelosi held a press conference this afternoon, during which reporters asked her about her position on the Kelo decision. The SCOTUS ruling, CQ readers will recall, allows legislative bodies to exercise eminent domain to seize private land and transfer it to other private ownership, as long as it considers the transfer beneficial to the public good. It does, however, specifically leave those decisions to the legislature, a nuance that Pelosi appears to have missed. Senator Jon Cornyn will shortly introduce legislation to restrict the use of federal funds for projects such as those involved in the Kelo case that simply trade one private owner for another. When reporters asked Pelosi about Cornyn's effort, she revealed that she knows nothing about Constitutional law, the Kelo decision, or even the power invested in the Congress that she supposedly leads: Q Later this morning, many Members of the House Republican leadership, along...

« May 2005 | July 2005 »