« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 1, 2006

A Look Inside Insanity

Last night on the way to a meeting, I listened to a caller on the Hugh Hewitt show absolutely wrong-foot the normally unflappable Hugh when the caller suggested that he could prove that Republicans support Satanic control of world events, as long as we had an "open mind". Hugh asked how he could prove that, and the caller said that a website could prove that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan conspired to murder John Lennon ... and that Stephen King had carried out the hit. Yes, I mean that Stephen King. Intrigued, I looked up the website and started knocking around it. If one ever wanted to peek inside the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic, this website -- which is completely earnest -- gives one the best possible potential. In its way, it illustrates all the faulty logic, leaps of conjecture, and paranoid thinking that creates conspiracy theories from Right...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Kean Overtakes Menendez

Thomas Kean Jr has overtaken Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez in the New Jersey Senate race, according to Rasmussen's latest poll. Kean created a 12-point shift in the past month, going from six points down in July to six points up at the end of August. This puts a serious crimp in the Democrat's plans to take over the Senate in these midterms. They need to hold all of their current seats before they can possibly hope to gain enough to take control of the upper chamber. Losing New Jersey makes that all but impossible. Expect the Democrats to start spending a lot of money to rescue Menendez in the coming days....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

IAEA Finds Highly-Enriched Uranium In Iran

The IAEA report states that inspectors found traces of highly-enriched uranium a year ago in an Iranian nuclear facility. This time, the IAEA analysis states that it did not come from contaminated Pakistani equipment: The global nuclear monitoring agency deepened suspicions on Thursday about Iran’s nuclear program, reporting that inspectors had discovered new traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian facility. Inspectors have found such uranium, which at extreme enrichment levels can fuel bombs, twice in the past. The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that at least some of those samples came from contaminated equipment that Iran had obtained from Pakistan. But in this case, the nuclear fingerprint of the particles did not match the other samples, an official familiar with the inspections said, raising questions about their origin. In a six-page report to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday, the agency withheld judgment about where the material...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

'An Absolutely Hostile Attitude Towards Jews' In Germany

Charlotte Knobloch survived Nazi Germany's genocide on Jews to rise to the head of the German Jewish Council. In a disturbing interview with Der Spiegel, Knobloch -- whose personal history gives her the requisite perspective -- states that anti-Semitic attitudes have hit levels not seen in years: SPIEGEL ONLINE: When you took office you said one of the main focuses of your work would be the struggle against right-wing extremism. Has the conflict in the Middle East worsened anti-Semitic attitudes in Germany? Knobloch: It has, unfortunately. I see an absolutely hostile attitude towards Jews and Israel. Signs that read "Israel -- Child Murderers" are being carried through the streets at demonstrations here, for example. The police don't confiscate these placards. Persons that deal with the issue only marginally, or not at all, are influenced negatively. That's the basis of this hostile attitude. You can find it everywhere. We're currently organizing...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Henke & Allen

Last week, I suggested that Jon Henke would make an excellent ambassador to the blogosphere for the George Allen re-election campaign. Perhaps someone in Senator Allen's office noticed the post, but they certainly made the right decision whatever the reason. The Allen campaign has hired Jon to be its Netroots Coordinator: I’m very happy to announce that I’ve accepted a job as Netroots Coordinator with the George Allen Senate Campaign. Obviously, this will change my focus quite a bit, but I will continue to blog at QandO whenever possible, generally on the issues and stories in this very important Virginia Senate race. Naturally, as a Netroots Coordinator, I’ll be working directly with bloggers and readers who support George Allen. If I can help any of you, don’t hesitate to contact me. I want to make a couple of observations about this decision, which delights me for personal reasons; Jon and...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

In What Universe?

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad assured him that Syria would enforce the arms embargo on Hezbollah, and that the Syrian army would patrol the border to ensure that arms traffic ceased: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that Syria would step up border patrols and work with the Lebanese army to stop the flow of weapons to Hizbullah. Syria will increase its own patrols along the Lebanon-Syria border, and establish joint patrols with the Lebanese army "when possible," Annan said after meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus. ... Annan said Assad informed him that Syria would "take all necessary measures" to implement paragraph 15 of UN resolution 1701, which calls on countries to prevent the sale or supply of weapons to entities in Lebanon without the consent of the Lebanese government or UN peacekeepers. It would be a lovely development if it were...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

FBI Investigates Terrorism Leads, Film At 11

The very next nine-day wonder of protest is about to break open, as King Banaian notes at SCSU Scholars. The Los Angeles Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education both report on a defunct FBI program that investigated suspected terrorists and accomplices by reviewing data on federal grants for higher education. Not surprisingly, the LA Times gets a significant fact incorrect almost immediately: The Education Department acknowledged Thursday that at the request of the FBI, it had scoured millions of federal student loan records for information about suspected terrorists in the five years since the Sept. 11 attacks. The data mining — known as "Project Strike Back" — was intended to determine whether terrorism suspects had illegally obtained college aid to finance their operations through identity theft or other means. Project Strike Back did not involve data mining, no more than a check of a driver's license during a traffic...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

An Exclamation Point On The Plame Denouement

The Washington Post's editorial board takes a shot at Joe Wilson, one of their anonymous sources three years ago, as the full impact of the discovery of Richard Armitage as the Valerie Plame leaker takes effect. The editors place the blame for Plame's unmasking where it always belonged -- on Wilson himself: [I]t now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Workers Of The World, Rise Up Against Your (Democratic) Oppressors!

With the Democrats demanding a raise in the federal minimum wage and campaigning on the issue to highlight their sympathy for American workers. That sympathy, as Power Line noted earlier this evening, doesn't even extend beyond their own payroll. Democratic canvassers in Wisconsin have walked off the job as the Democratic Party refuses to pay them the existing minimum wage: Alex Scherer-Jones began working for Grassroots Campaigns to fight the Bush administration and elevate the fortunes of the Democratic Party. The 21-year-old MATC student left feeling exploited and sour: "I went in there being very idealistic and it kind of ruined my idealism." The job involves going door to door asking people to give money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, using talking points that include a call to raise the minimum wage. For this, Scherer-Jones says he was paid far less than the state minimum wage of $6.50 an...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Shafer Smokes The Media Over Nicotine Coverage

Experienced bloggers and readers know that the two mainstream media critics worth bookmarking are Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post and Jack Shafer at Slate. Shafer demonstrates his brilliance in tonight's critique of this week's bad science coverage regarding a Massachussetts study that reported a 10% rise in nicotine levels in cigarettes. All of the major newspapers covered the story, and the New York Times even dedicated an editorial to berating the tobacco industry for its heartlessness, but Shafer reports that lazy reporting and bad sourcing created a hysteria over nothing at all: Journalists give tobacco companies the same benefit of the doubt they do alleged baby-rapists, which is to say none. And who can blame them? For a century, the tobacco industry has lied and obfuscated about their products at every turn. Yet serial liars aren't automatically guilty of every charge leveled against them. Even the tobacco company baddies,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 2, 2006

New British Terror Sweep Nabs 14 Suspects

British security forces arrested 14 people in a terror sweep they say is unrelated to the foiled sky-terror plot, the BBC reports. The arrests appear to focus on a madrassa in East Sussex: Armed police have arrested 14 men following anti-terror raids in London, including 12 arrests at a restaurant in the Borough area. Two people were held elsewhere in the city in what police said was an intelligence-led operation. Police said the arrests were not connected to the alleged transatlantic jet bomb plot or the 7 July attacks. An Islamic school near Tunbridge Wells has also been searched as part of the same operation. The Jameah Islameah property, on Catt's Hill near Crowborough, East Sussex, is an Islamic teaching facility for boys aged between 11 and 16. The school only had nine students at its last inspection, which seems very noteworthy considering the size of the facility. The school...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

North Korea Understands The Significance

The US successfully tested its missile-defense system again this week, and this time it specifically used North Korean missile technology in its test. The North Koreans did not miss the significance of the results: The U.S. missile defense system yesterday shot down an incoming dummy warhead simulating the last-stage trajectory of a North Korean Taepodong-2 missile, a milestone that U.S. officials expect to counter critics of earlier tests. It was the first time a dummy North Korean missile was intercepted, and the sixth successful intercept since 1999, said officials from the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. "What we did today is a huge step in terms of our systematic approach to continuing to field, continuing to deploy and continuing to develop a missile defense system for the United States, for our allies, our friends, our deployed forces around the world," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Missile...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

On The Decision For Martyrdom

David Schraub points to a strange column by David Warren that sounds like a demand for Christian or even Wsetern martyrdom regardless of one's own personal beliefs. Warren excoriates Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig for going through a mock conversion to Islam as a means of escaping their kidnappers: Lately I have been looking at the large -- at how the West is proving unable to cope with a threat from a fanatical Islamic movement, that it ought to be able to snuff out with fair ease. (See my column last Sunday.) But the large is often most visible in the small. The degree to which our starch is awash is exhibited in the behaviour of so many of our captives, but especially in these two. They were told to convert to Islam under implicit threat (blindfolded and hand-tied, they could not judge what threat), and agreed to make the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

QandO Hacked; I Question The Timing

Just a day after Jon Henke announced his new position with the George Allen re-election campaign, his QandO blog has been hacked. Individual posts still display, but an attempt to access the main page only displays a misspelled text message, supposedly from a Turkish hacker, saying "NO WAR!" Uh-huh. Suddenly QandO has landed on the radar screen of Turkish hackers -- who manage to misspell 'Turkish'? And their anti-war fervor led them to hack a neo-Libertarian site? Riiiiiiiight. If you don't have QandO's RSS feed, here it is. It appears to work just fine, and you can read anything new that the trio posts while it fixes the damage done by, er, Turkish hackers....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

It's All Happening At The Fair

As I wrote last week, it's that time of year again here in Minnesota, when it seems that half of the state congregates within a square mile to sample food on a stick and make carny barkers rich. It's the Great Minnesota Get-Together, our State Fair, and as always, the Northern Alliance Radio Network will broadcast live from the AM 1280 The Patriot booth. We'll be broadcasting again today and tomorrow from the fairgrounds. Today, we will stick to our new expanded schedule of 11 am - 5 pm CT; tomorrow we will broadcast from 12 - 4 pm CT. If you can't get down to the fair on either weekend, tune us in at 1280 AM or on our Internet stream. I'll be on with Mitch from 1-3 CT today and 2-4 CT tomorrow, so be sure to tune in!...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

An Evening In The Rain

I decided to take the First Mate out for an evening after finishing the State Fair broadcast this afternoon. We had wanted to see The Devil Wears Prada for a few weeks but hadn't had a chance to catch it yet. The FM read the book (on CD), and with Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, it looked like a good choice. I'll pass on writing a review -- it's been out for too long -- but it's definitely enjoyable. Streep is deliciously nasty, Tucci is excellent, and Anne Hathaway almost manages to steal the movie from both. Some have asked for an update on the FM's health. She's improved over the summer, but the BK viral infection has made something of a comeback. She now has to have a weekly IV infusion of a powerful antiviral, and we're hoping that will solve the problem. Until then, we have to wait...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 3, 2006

Will Hillary Pass On Presidential Race?

The Times of London joins a growing number of media outlets that report on Hillary Clinton's supposed reluctance to run for President, in 2008 or anytime else. The Democrats share this reluctance based on consistently high negatives in polling and want her to stay in the Senate -- but another Clinton wants to live in the White House again: FRIENDS of Hillary Clinton have been whispering the unthinkable. Despite her status as the runaway frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, some of her closest advisers say she might opt out of the White House race and seek to lead her party in the Senate. The former first lady longs to return to the White House with husband Bill as consort. Only last week she told television viewers America would be led by a woman one day. “Stay tuned,” she said. First, however, she has to win the election....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Narrow Escape

Notre Dame started its 2006 campaign with a near-stumble against Georgia Tech, a team regarded as a test for the pre-season #2 team in college football. The Fighting Irish escaped with a 14-10 win and likely a lower ranking: The best thing you can say about Notre Dame's game against Georgia Tech is that it's over. And if the Fighting Irish don't figure how to play more like the No. 2-ranked team in the country rather than something from the Also Receiving Votes agate, then they can pucker up and kiss the Holy Trinity of college football goodbye. We're speaking, of course, of the national championship, the Heisman Trophy, and Lee Corso wearing your mascot's headgear near Cardinals Stadium come Jan. 8. Notre Dame remains in the team picture for all three, but only because ND's 14-10 victory came in the first week of the season, not the last. ......

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

AQ #2 In Iraq Busted

Iraqi forces working independently captured al-Qaeda in Iraq's second in command this week, the Iraqi national-security minister announced this morning. Hamed Jumaa Faris Juri al-Saaydi and twenty of his closest friends found themselves in custody after a raid in Baqubah: "We now think al-Qaeda in Iraq is suffering a great deal and disintegrating," [Mowaffak al-] Rubaie said in a news conference at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone that was broadcast live across the Middle East. "The al-Qaeda organization is suffering from a leadership crisis." Saaydi, also known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, ordered the February attack on the golden-domed Shiite shrine in Samara that ignited the ongoing ferocious wave of sectarian killings, Rubaie said. He accused Saaydi of trying to spark a civil war between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiite Muslims. Rubaie said Iraqi forces had been tracking Saaydi's movements since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the No. 1 leader...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Lebanon Unity Dissolving?

The war in Lebanon has fractured what little unity existed in the post-Syrian government in Beirut. While political differences got submerged in the fighting, they have returned with even more vigor after the catastrophe in the sub-Litani region. Various factions now threaten to contest for power in or out of the political system: But now, two weeks into a shaky cease-fire between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israel, some of the big names of Lebanese politics are moving back onto the political stage. The result has been an open round of bitter political infighting and backbiting. Figures from various factions have attacked one another in newspapers and on talk shows. The most vociferous has been General Aoun, who called this week for the resignation of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his cabinet. ... Mr. Siniora refused to resign, saying: “Let these politicians rest. The government is staying, staying, staying.” In almost the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Futility Of Applying Reason To Insanity

With the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fast approaching, the government has busied itself with answering questions raised by conspiracy theorists who fervently believe that the World Trade Center towers had help in their destruction. The State Department and the National Institue of Stantards and Technology both released reports this week proving once again that when big airplanes loaded with jet fuel plow into skyscrapers, it tends to destroy the buildings: The official narrative of the attacks has been attacked as little more than a cover story by an assortment of radio hosts, academics, amateur filmmakers and others who have spread their arguments on the Internet and cable television in America and abroad. As a motive, they suggest that the Bush administration wanted to use the attacks to justify military action in the Middle East. Most elaborately, they propose that the collapse of the World Trade Center was actually caused...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The American Lord Haw Haw

The release of a new video from Ayman al-Zawahiri has caused a minor sensation with its inclusion of Adam Gadahn, an American convert to al-Qaeda jihadism, demanding the conversion of America to Islam. The video shows Gadahn, now called Azzam the American, speaking in American patois and counseling surrender to the terrorist group: It was the second time Gadahn appeared in the same video with al-Zawahri. In a July 7 video marking the one-year anniversary of the terror attack on London commuters, Gadahn appeared briefly, saying no Muslim should "shed tears" for Westerners killed by al-Qaida attacks. But Saturday's video — and the length of Gadahn's speech — suggested al-Qaida has found in him someone who can directly address the American people in idiom they are familiar with. ... Gadahn delivered a lecture on Islam and the "errors" in Christianity and Judaism. He also said the United States is losing...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Last Day At The Fair

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be making our last appearance today at the Minnesota State Fair this afternoon from noon to 4 Central Time. As always, we will broadcast live from the AM 1280 The Patriot booth. We expect visits from local politicians and Mitch's new taste sensation on a stick: deep-fried White Castle sliders. Actually, if he follows through on that, we also expect to meet a few of the EMTs that have worked diligently during the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Be sure to listen to our broadcast on The Patriot or on its Internet stream -- and if you're in town, stop by our booth and say hello! We're at the curve of Judson Street, just south of the Horticulture building, between the motorcycle booth and the corn-dog booth....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 4, 2006

Casey: Social Security Just Fine

Robert Casey Jr took on Rick Santorum in a debate for the upcoming general election, and the Democratic challenger shows that he has more studying to do before the big final. Even Tim Russert couldn't believe Casey's prescription for Social Security's ills was to "do nothing": "I don't think you're talking about a crisis," the Democrat said during an hourlong debate yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Mr. Casey said the program -- raided for years by federal lawmakers to pay for other government programs -- will fix itself. "So [we'll have] double the people on Social Security and Medicare, and life expectancy approaches 80. And the solution is 'do nothing'?" moderator Tim Russert asked. Mr. Casey suggested reinstating the estate tax and then hoping for a booming economy to "grow" the program out of the peril that actuarial tables and demographics predict. "You want to grow the economy by...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Annan's Humiliating Adventure In Islamaland

Kofi Annan just got the clearest diplomatic humiliation since perhaps Neville Chamberlain, according to the AP. The UN Secretary-General traveled to Iran to ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to please stop issuing provocative Holocaust denials and to suspend uranium enrichment. Ahmadinejad responded with a handshake, a smile, and a newly-scheduled conference of Holocaust deniers: The U.N. chief got little satisfaction Sunday at the close of his trip to Tehran, snubbed by Iran's leader over international demands to stop enriching uranium and ignored in warnings not to incite hatred by questioning the Holocaust. In a provocative move on the final day of Kofi Annan's two-day visit, Iran announced it would host a conference to examine what it called exaggerations about the Holocaust, during which more than 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. ... "On the nuclear issue, the president reaffirmed to me Iran's preparedness and determination to negotiate" a solution to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Sarkozy To Fight The 60's Mentality In France

In a potentially transformative development, popular French politician Nicolas Sarkozy has declared that he will break with the culture of entitlement and the legacy of the 1960s in his upcoming election against Socialist Segolene Royal for the presidency: The battle to be the next French President heated up yesterday when Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-right favourite, set out his manifesto for a revolution to restore basic values that would win the confidence of a younger generation that distrusts him. M Sarkozy, 51, the Interior Minister and leader of the Union for a Popular Majority (UMP), President Chirac’s party, blamed the Sixties generation for squandering France’s heritage and creating a sense of entitlement and despair among the young. He would, he promised, create a new, better-educated France of hard workers and entrepreneurs. M Sarkozy staged what was effectively the launch of his campaign for the elections next April at a weekend conference...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Losing The House?

The New York Times paints a pretty depressing picture for the GOP in the upcoming midterms, but has little data on which to base its analysis. The article by Robin Toner and Kate Zernike seems long on anecdotes and short on actual polling: After a year of political turmoil, Republicans enter the fall campaign with their control of the House in serious jeopardy, the possibility of major losses in the Senate, and a national mood so unsettled that districts once considered safely Republican are now competitive, analysts and strategists in both parties say. Sixty-five days before the election, the signs of Republican vulnerability are widespread. Indiana, which President Bush carried by 21 percentage points in 2004, now has three Republican House incumbents in fiercely contested races. Around the country, some of the most senior Republicans are facing their stiffest challenges in years, including Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Florida,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Big Ben Out For The Opener

Big Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, will miss the season opener this Thursday night after appendicitis caused him to have his third major surgery this summer: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an emergency appendectomy after becoming ill before practice Sunday and will miss Thursday night's season opener against Miami. Coach Bill Cowher is not certain how long Roethlisberger will be out following the quarterback's third operation in 10 months -- and second in 2½ months. Roethlisberger began having pain and was vomiting Sunday morning, and was taken to UPMC Presbyterian for surgery after being examined by the team's medical staff. ... The appendix attack is yet another medical setback for Roethlisberger, who nearly died in a June 12 motorcycle accident only to make a remarkably fast recovery. He missed no practice time during training camp and played better in the preseason than he did...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Tourists Shot, One Dead, In Jordan Attack

A British tourist died today and five other tourists seriously wounded when a Jordanian gunmen opened fire, reportedly shouting Allahu Akbar! ("God is great!) as he attacked: A gunman has shot dead a British tourist in the center of Amman and wounded five tourists and a Jordanian tourist police officer, Jordanian officials said. The casualties included the British man who died, two other wounded Britons and the Jordanian, Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh said. One Dutch person, an Australian and a New Zealander were also wounded. Police and intelligence sources said four of the tourists are women and the Dutch citizen is a man. ... "This is a cowardly terrorist attack, which we regret took place on Jordanian soil," Interior Minister Eid al-Fayez told reporters at the scene, according to The Associated Press. "This operation is considered a terrorist act unless the man is found to be deranged," he said....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

NATO Presses Advantage Against Taliban

The new offensive against the Taliban remnants in Afghanistan, Operation Medusa, has dealt a severe blow to the forces of Mullah Omar. Over 200 Taliban fighters have died in the fighting, while NATO has only suffered four combat deaths: More than 200 Taliban fighters have been killed in a major Nato offensive in southern Afghanistan, along with four Canadian troops. Operation Medusa, launched by alliance and Afghan forces in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, involved hundreds of troops, backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships. A Nato spokesman said: "Reports indicate that more than 200 Taliban fighters have been killed since Operation Medusa began early on Saturday morning." He added that Afghan soldiers had captured more than 80 other Taliban. The Canadians have fought with tremendous courage and energy in this NATO effort. The attempted revival of the Taliban has necessitated such efforts, five years after their loss of Afghanistan...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 5, 2006

Israel Considering Arab Initiative

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israelis have come back to the stalled Arab Initiative, a comprehensive peace plan sponsored by the Saudis four years ago. The Saudis apparently intend on raising the plan again at an upcoming summit in Cairo, and the Israelis will watch with interest how it develops: Israel will be watching a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo with "interest, but little expectation," senior diplomatic officials said Monday. The meeting, which is also likely to include the PLO's foreign minister Farouk Kaddoumi, is expected to discuss an Arab League peace initiative that will likely be presented at the UN later this month. UN Secretary of State Kofi Annan said in Damascus Friday that the Arab League has called on the UN Security Council to formally recognize "the need to reactivate the Middle Eastern...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Will The GOP Dump Immigration Reform

Republicans have shelved their efforts on immigration reform, the New York Times reoprts, preferring to focus on national security in the legislative session preceding the midterm elections. The move comes as a summer series of hearings did nothing to bridge the differences between the two chambers of Congress on the issue: As they prepare for a critical pre-election legislative stretch, Congressional Republican leaders have all but abandoned a broad overhaul of immigration laws and instead will concentrate on national security issues they believe play to their political strength. With Congress reconvening Tuesday after an August break, Republicans in the House and Senate say they will focus on Pentagon and domestic security spending bills, port security legislation and measures that would authorize the administration’s terror surveillance program and create military tribunals to try terror suspects. “We Republicans believe that we have no choice in the war against terror and the only...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Democrats Write A Letter

Yesterday, the Democrats released an open letter to George Bush demanding a change in policy for Iraq and the war on terror. The letter takes five paragraphs to get to the point, and even then doesn't do much more than present general goals rather than any clear changes to current policy: Therefore, we urge you once again to consider changes to your Iraq policy. We propose a new direction, which would include: (1) transitioning the U.S. mission in Iraq to counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection; (2) beginning the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq before the end of this year; (3) working with Iraqi leaders to disarm the militias and to develop a broad-based and sustainable political settlement, including amending the Constitution to achieve a fair sharing of power and resources; and (4) convening an international conference and contact group to support a political settlement in Iraq, to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Nine Terror Suspects Arrested In Denmark

In what appears to be a new front in the war on terror, Denmark has arrested nine suspected terrorists in Odense after tracking them for "some time": Danish police have arrested nine suspected terrorists, the country's security intelligence service says. The suspects, believed to be all men under the age of 30, were picked up during overnight raids in Odense, Denmark's third largest city. The men had been under surveillance for some time and were detained on suspicion of planning terror acts. ... He said the suspects "had acquired material ... to build explosives in connection with the preparation of a terror act". The Danish security services had no clear indication of a target or a timeframe for their attack. However, it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine why terrorists have decided to add Denmark as another theater of operations. After all, the controversy over the editorial cartoons depicting Mohammed...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Immigration Rallies Do Not Increase Voter Registrations

The AP decided to take a look at the prediction that immigration rallies this spring would inspire hundreds of thousands to register as voters in time for the upcoming midterm elections, if not the earlier primaries. Despite this conventional wisdom getting repeated endlessly in political analyses, they only found this to be true in Los Angeles -- and on a much smaller scale than predicted: Immigration protests that drew hundreds of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators to the nation's streets in the spring promised a potent political legacy -- a surge of new Hispanic voters. "Today we march, tomorrow we vote," they proclaimed. But an Associated Press review of voter registration figures from Chicago, Denver, Houston, Atlanta and other major urban areas that had large rallies found no sign of a new voter boom that could sway elections. There was a rise in Los Angeles, where 500,000 protested in March, but...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Syria Doubles Down With Another Assassination Attempt

A roadside bomb has seriously injured the lead investigator into the assassination of Rafik Hariri and killed four of his bodyguards near the seaside city of Sidon in Lebanon. The remote-controlled bomb seems very similar to the means used to assassinate Hariri: A bomb blast near the southern Lebanese city of Sidon has seriously wounded a senior intelligence officer and killed four of his aides and bodyguards. Officials said Samir Shehadeh's was hit by a remote-controlled bomb as he drove past the village of Rmeileh. Col Shehadeh was an investigator into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in early 2005. ... The bombing comes two weeks before the UN chief investigator is to submit a report on his latest findings in the Hariri investigation to the UN. Shehadeh had an inkling of an attack. The bomb actually hit the car in which he would normally ride, but instead...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Prosecutors Get Tough On Stewart Sentencing

The AP reports on a brief submitted by prosecutors arguing for a long prison sentence for convicted terrorist enabler Lynne Stewart. They dismiss defense claims that Stewart mistakenly crossed the line from zealous defender to an unwitting accomplice who deserves no jail time for her error: Stewart's "egregious, flagrant abuse of her profession, abuse that amounted to material support to a terrorist group, deserves to be severely punished," prosecutors wrote in a document submitted Thursday to a judge. Her lawyers have argued that Stewart should receive no prison time, arguing that a harsh sentence would frighten other lawyers from representing notorious clients and that Stewart's three decades of distinguished work for indigent clients should speak louder than a single serious mistake. The prosecutors see it differently. "Stewart did not walk a fine line of zealous advocacy and accidentally fall over it; she marched across it and into a criminal conspiracy,"...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Blackout Days

We are now 60 days from the midterm elections, a key date for anyone hoping to exercise free political speech in the world's first free and democratic republic. America has entered the John McCain-Russ Feingold blackout period, where the federal government must enforce a ban on any third-party political advertising that has the temerity to mention incumbent politicians by name: Something almost without precedent in America will happen Thursday. That’s the day when McCain-Feingold — aka the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 — will officially silence broadcast advertising that contains criticism of members of Congress seeking re-election in November. Before 2006, American election campaigns traditionally began in earnest after Labor Day. Unless McCain-Feingold is repealed, Labor Day will henceforth mark the point in the campaign when congressional incumbents can sit back and cruise, free of those pesky negative TV and radio spots. It is the most effective incumbent protection...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Hill Plays Grab-Ass With S2590

When we started the day, the Coburn/Obama bill to establish a searchable database for the federal budget, a great new tool to keep appropriations above board and to establish accountability for how our money is spent, had no holds and looked ready to receive a vote by unanimous consent. By the end of the day, two politicians from each side had placed holds on the legislation, one from each party. No one knows who the Democrat is, but the Republican is rumored to be Ted Stevens, who had just released his previous hold after an avalanche of criticism. Bill Frist has made it clear that the bill will receive a vote this month, regardless of how many holds it receives: My Democrat colleagues have not yet cleared this legislation ... but I'm confident that they will do so promptly or pay the consequences of continued obstruction. Now is the time...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Terrorism Prevention Act

Please excuse the appearance of sketch notes here earlier; I was playing around with some tools and it posted my notes rather than saving them as a draft. Earlier, John Aravosis wrote that Republicans blocked anti-terrorism legislation in 1996 that would have enabled the Clinton administration to stop 9/11. As the basis of this allegation, John points to a single CNN story about Bill Clinton's frustration with the actions of Congress in negotiating an expansion of power for the government. Aravosis excises this one particular passage to show that Republicans blocked the expansion of wiretap powers: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emerged from the meeting and said, "These are very controversial provisions that the [Clinton] White House wants. Some they're not going to get." ....[Hatch] also said he had some problems with the president's proposals to expand wiretapping. Be careful when one sees ellipses in...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 6, 2006

GOP Spent Millions ... On Lieberman? Doubt It!

I know the White House would prefer to see Joe Lieberman beat Ned Lamont in the Connecticut general election, but the story reported by Insight Magazine seems pretty far-fetched. Yesterday evening, the online publication asserted that the White House has funneled millions of dollars in Republican contributions to Lieberman's independent re-election bid: The White House funneled millions of dollars through major Republican Party contributors to Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s primary campaign in a failed effort to ensure the support of the former Democrat for the Bush administration. A senior GOP source said the money was part of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove's strategy to maintain a Republican majority in the Senate in November. The source said Mr. Rove, together with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, directed leading pro-Bush contributors to donate millions of dollars to Mr. Lieberman's campaign for re-election in Connecticut in an attempt that he...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Will Pakistani-Afghan Pact Spell The Taliban's End?

The Times of London reports that a new pact between Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding border security will force the Taliban to run for cover. Pervez Musharraf will travel to Kabul for the first time in two years to seal the treaty and to coordinate the implementation of the new border protocols: Kabul and Islamabad have been blaming each other for allowing Islamic militants to cross the 1,500-mile (2,400km) frontier and attack security forces. Yesterday Pakistan took a big step towards ending the fighting in the lawless Waziristan region when it signed a peace deal with tribal leaders. The agreement commits local militants to halt attacks on both sides of the border. In return Pakistan will reduce its military presence and compensate tribesmen whose relatives have been killed or whose properties have been damaged. A key provision of the deal is that tribesmen will expel foreign fighters from the area. The...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Even The Gray Lady Has Run Out Of Patience

The unmasking of Richard Armitage as the source for the leak of Valerie Plame's identity has brought about a hail of recriminations on independent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Most people now understand the entire exercise as a waste of time and an example of prosecutorial malfeasance, given that the culprit confessed on the fifth day of a three-year investigation. Now even the New York Times editorial board -- which has some responsibility for stirring up the political firestorm that resulted in Fitzgerald's appointment -- says that the time has come for Fitzgerald to either show his cards or fold: It’s conceivable that Patrick Fitzgerald, the federal prosecutor, has evidence that suggests the information in the memo was used in some illegal manner. Or his investigators may have learned something troubling about the second, unknown, source cited in Mr. Novak’s column, or about some other illegal activity. But whatever it is needs...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Iran Purges Its Intellegentsia

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has engaged on a campaign to purge moderates and secular thinkers from its universities. The move comes in contrast to Ahmadinejad's challenge to George Bush for an open and uncensored debate, and shows the real inclinations of the mullahcracy: Iran's hard-line president urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers, another sign of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country. With his call echoing the rhetoric of the nation's 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran still has strong moderate factions, and since taking office a year ago Ahmadinejad has moved to replace pragmatic veterans in the government and diplomatic corps with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners. His administration also has launched crackdowns on independent journalists, Web sites and bloggers. Speaking...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Iran War Resolution Still Distant Option

The White House and senior Republican leadership in Congress have little enthusiasm for a war resolution at this time targeting Iran, the New York Sun reports this morning. After a suggestion by William Kristol that such a piece of legislation would put more pressure on Teheran to comply with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Bush administration and Congress distanced themselves from any such talk: As Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns prepares for a meeting with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in Berlin tomorrow to discuss imposing tough sanctions on Iran, neither the Bush administration nor some of the most hawkish Republicans in Congress are yet willing to consider military force if those sanctions fail to halt Iran's nuclear program. The idea of putting a war resolution against the Islamic Republic to Congress was floated Monday on Fox News by the editor of the Weekly Standard, William...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Germans Plan For Success, Which Gets Hezbollah Objection

Hezbollah has objected to the deployment of German troops in the sub-Litani region, the German magazine Expatica reports, because Germany intends to fulfill the literal mandate of UNSCR 1701. Hezbollah expressed "reservations" over German intentions to search vehicles entering its area for arms: The Shiite Hezbollah militia has expressed "reservations" about Germany's involvement in the multinational UN force deploying for Lebanon, owing to German demands that its troops be allowed to stop and search boats bound for the country. "Our reservations are regarding the German demand to search boats as they enter Lebanon," Hezbollah member of parliament Hussein Haj Hassan told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Tuesday. "Such a demand stands against the sovereignty of Lebanon." Hezbollah "is not against the German government and has great respect for the German people," Haj Hassan stressed, "but they want the German government to review its stand towards Lebanon." Haj Hassan additionally accused Berlin...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Wonder Why It's Been A Quiet Five Years On The Home Front?

George Bush gave a long-overdue speech on the American efforts to use intelligence and captured terrorists to keep the US homeland safe from attack. He announced the transition of detained high-value terrorists from secret holding facilities to Guantanamo Bay in preparation for military tribunals, once Congress approves the legal framework for such a process, and related the myriad links discovered through their interrogation: Within months of September 11, 2001, we captured a man named Abu Zubaydah. We believed that Zubaydah was a senior terrorist leader and a trusted associate of Osama bin Laden. Our intelligence community believes he had run a terrorist camp in Afghanistan where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained and that he helped smuggle Al Qaeda leaders out of Afghanistan after coalition forces arrived to liberate that country. ... During questioning, he, at first, disclosed what he thought was nominal information and then stopped all cooperation. Well,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rightroots Expands The Slate

The Rightroots initiative has added new candidates to the slate of Republican candidates whose races have critical import for control of Congress in the midterm elections. The group has added Michael Bouchard, a candidate for Debbie Stabenow's Senate seat in Michigan, as well as Ralph Norman (SC-05) and Andrea Lane Zinga (IL-17) in the House. We hope to have the same success in raising funds for their contests as we have with our original eighteen candidates. Robert Bluey introduces the candidates at Human Events: All three are locked in races they can win, but they need your help. In the case of Bouchard and Norman, they're both challenging incumbent Democrats whose liberal views have led them astray. In Michigan, Sen. Debbie Stabenow has earned the nickname "Do Nothing Debbie." She has a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 11% -- far from the mainstream in Michigan. Spratt, meanwhile, has a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 7, 2006

Spending Updates At The Heritage Blog

The Heritage Foundation Policy Blog has two new posts this week on federal spending and entitlement reform, written by yours truly. Pork Proportionality looks at an article in The Hill which looks at the allocation of earmarks in conjunction with elections and the risk involved in the campaigns. For practiced skeptics, this will not provide any shock, but perhaps the direct correlation will surprise some. In the second, Medicare Shell Games, I point out how Congress and the White House decided to show a savings in the Medicare program this fiscal year. Hint: the end of the fiscal year comes in four weeks. It also has some great links to Heritage recommendations by Dr. Robert Moffitt for entitlement reform. Be sure to read both, and keep your eye on the Heritage blog now that Congress has returned from vacation....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Border Security To Get Push Before Elections

After the New York Times reported two days ago that Republican leadership in Congress would drop immigration reform from their legislative agenda in the remainder of this session in favor of national security issues, I predicted that border security would remain, detached from the broader effort at immigration reform. Today, the Washington Times confirms this, as House Republicans have gotten support from key GOP Senators to pursue the issue in terms of national security: House Republicans will make a final push to get border-security legislation on President Bush's desk before November's elections, senior aides told The Washington Times yesterday. Top Republicans are planning a series of tough new border-security measures that they hope can get through the Senate, which in the past has opposed border-security legislation unless it has included a guest-worker program and grants citizenship rights to the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here. Senate...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Rumor A Day Keeps The Fringies Away

Does anyone else get the distinct feeling that we're seeing a whispering campaign getting started against Joe Lieberman? Two days ago, Insight reported the all-but-unbelievable allegation that the Republicans sent millions of dollars into Joe Lieberman's campaign -- in the middle of a brutal midterm campaign where the GOP's control of Congress is in real danger. Today, the gossip du jour in Connecticut has Lieberman replacing Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon: Since Senator Joseph I. Lieberman lost last month’s Democratic primary in Connecticut, a rumor has gained new life — particularly among his liberal critics — that President Bush might nominate him to replace Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, should Mr. Rumsfeld be ousted as many Democrats have demanded. Mr. Lieberman, now running as an independent, has denied any interest in the job, and the White House has said it stands behind Mr. Rumsfeld. But that did not stop...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Clue About World Oil Prices

Americans have demanded answers to questions about the rapid rise of gasoline prices over the past two years, and even with market forces finally working our favor recently, still remain skeptical about their influence on prices at the pump. Analysts understand that the rapid growth of the Chinese economy have permanently changed the oil markets, but even the experts may not wholly understand how much of that impact could have been avoided through better efficiencies. Der Spiegel takes a look at the challenges that China presents to enery markets: China's economy is expanding at an average rate of nine percent every year. Economic planners in Beijing recently discovered that their economy is actually 17 percent larger than they had previously thought. That's as if the Chinese had accidentally discovered an economic surplus the size of Turkey's Gross Domestic Product. The consequence is that China is getting even hungrier for energy....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Even Europeans Recognize Iran's Stall Strategy

A confidential memo between European nations spells out how Iran has manipulated diplomatic maneuvers in order to stall for time to continue its uranium enrichment. The goal, according to this analysis, is to create a rift within the Security Council and a resultant breakdown of Western stamina: Key European nations warn that Iran is trying to weaken international opposition to its contentious nuclear program by stalling on giving a clear response to terms set by six world powers for negotiations, according to a confidential document obtained Thursday. "The Iranian goal obviously is to split the international community," said the document, drawn up by Britain, France and Germany, and made available to The Associated Press ahead of a key meeting of the five U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany. ... Diplomats familiar with the document said it was drawn up by Britain, France and Germany, which are among the six nations...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

How I Will Spend 9/11

As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, many people wonder how best to spend the day in remembrance of the attacks that killed almost 3,000 of our fellow Americans, almost all of them civilians. Some will spend the day in prayer, while others will watch the several retrospectives on the attacks that will be featured on television. Others may prefer to ignore the event and avoid the controversy and hype. I'll be doing something different. I have been invited to a panel discussion at Macalester College in Saint Paul on Monday evening on the Iraq war. The debate is sponsored by Democracy for America, which has invited three other speakers to debate the war. The speakers include Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Univ. of St. Thomas Peace and Justice Studies professor; Phil Steger, Friends for a Nonviolent World director; and Lou Ellingson. Swift Boat retired Navy captain and small business owner. Lou...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Coburn-Obama Federal Spending Database Passes -- Unanimously!

The Senate has busted through the holds put on by members and passed S2590, the Coburn-Obama bill establishing the federal spending database we have demanded. Bill Frist announces it at his VOLPAC blog: Tonight I’m proud to report that the Senate unanimously passed S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. The passage of this legislation is a triumph for transparency in government, for fiscal discipline, and for the bipartisan citizen journalism of the blogosphere. Without the efforts of ordinary Americans empowered by the Internet, including many hardworking members of the iFrist Volunteers, this legislation might easily have been successfully obstructed. Instead, the unprecedented synergy between online grassroots activists and Senate leadership provides a new model for participatory democracy in action. The bill now goes to the House, where their version exempts contractors from the database. We need to pressure House leadership to accept the Senate version...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory

After the story broke on the artistic license taken by ABC in its upcoming miniseries on the 9/11 attacks, Clinton administration officials and Democrats in general had a good case for protesting. After all, Republicans had bitterly criticized CBS for its miniseries, "The Reagans", when it proved overly dramatized and factually inaccurate, eventually getting it pulled to another Viacom outlet (Showtime). However, not content with merely reasonably protesting questionable script choices, the Democrats in Congress have issued a thinly-veiled threat against ABC's broadcast license: We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day. Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 8, 2006

Steelers Give Daunte Deja Vu

The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to win convincingly against the Miami Dolphins, despite the sudden unavailability of Big Ben Roethlisberger a few days ago to appendicitis. Charlie Batch came off the bench in his hometown to deliver a big win for the Steelers, 28-17. Batch threw three TDs and defensive back Joey Porter scored another as the team clicked on most cylinders: The Pittsburgh Steelers needed two big plays from unlikely sources to pull out a season-opening victory behind their backup quarterback. Maybe Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban should be flagged for a costly delay, too. Tight end Heath Miller chugged his way down the Steelers' sideline on an 87-yard touchdown pass play midway through the fourth quarter, fill-in QB Charlie Batch's third scoring pass of the game, and the Super Bowl champions beat the Dolphins 28-17 Thursday night in the NFL's first game of the season. ... Miami had a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Da Vinnie Code

Italian investigators have called the FBI to unlock the mysteries of the Bible. Is this the Da Vinci Code? Opus Dei? More like omerta and the Da Vinnie Code: Italian officials have handed to the FBI a Bible that belonged to suspected Mafia kingpin Bernardo Provenzano to see whether it contains a secret code. Provenzano, 73, was captured in Sicily in April after 43 years on the run. The Bible found in his isolated hut contained dots, arrows and notations and investigators want to know if it is a code that will unlock other messages. ... Prosecutors say Provenzano constantly refers to the book, found in the hut close to his birthplace in Corleone where he was caught. The FBI has to be somewhat amused by the task, but it's no joke in Italy, where they have fought a deadly battle against the Mob. Provenzano made his reputation as a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Bibi Says Bush Will Cowboy Up On Iran

Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to New York, hoping to build support in America for a bid to replace Ehud Olmert as Israel's Prime Minister. As part of that effort, he gave a speech last night in which he told the audience that George Bush has just about run out of patience with international diplomacy regarding the Iranian nuclear program: Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of an American tour repositioning himself for a return to the Israeli premiership, told an audience in New York today that President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone and that American politicians of all parties would do well to stop squabbling about Iraq and join the president in focusing on threat from Tehran. The former prime minister, who leads the right of center Likud Party in opposition to the current government, went on to tell lunch guests of the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Armitage 'Fesses Up

Richard Armitage finally confesses to his role as the leaker who revealed Valerie Plame's name and status to two different reporters. He claims that he could not speak out until Patrick Fitzgerald released him from his pledge to remain silent -- and said George Bush wanted it that way: Expressing regret for his actions and apologies to his administration colleagues, Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, confirmed Thursday that he was the primary source who first told a columnist about the intelligence officer at the center of the C.I.A. leak case. “It was a terrible error on my part,” Mr. Armitage said in an interview, discussing his conversations with reporters. He added: “There wasn’t a day when I didn’t feel like I had let down the president, the secretary of state, my colleagues, my family and the Wilsons. I value my ability to keep state secrets. This...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Monkey Festing?

Just a couple of weeks after Democrats went into high dudgeon over the poor treatment given one of their oppo researchers at a George Allen event and claiming Allen is a closet racist, the James Webb campaign has pulled much the same kind of boner. Staffers have organized a protest at an Allen event celebrating ethnicity that they have termed "Monkey Fest": Imagine: You are on the road looking for a quick place to grab a bite to eat and up ahead of you – just past the stop light are a dozen furry and yellow-peeled creatures – a gathering of monkeys, gorillas, and bananas. They are dead serious about their message: “Racism is NOT a family value.” But they are having a great time monkeying around with yellow balloons and bananas to give away. You think to yourself: “Perfect! A free snack!” as you pull over, park, and join...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Cantwell Provided $11 Million To Lobbyist/Advisor's Clients

Senator Maria Cantwell, running in a tight race for re-election in Washington, provided millions of dollars in federal spending to clients of a lobbyist that also serves as an advisor on her campaign. The AP reports that Cantwell's former campaign manager, Ron Dotzauer, represents clients who got $9.6 million in earmarks on a dam project and another client that received $2 million for biotechnology efforts: Cantwell, a Democrat who is in a tight re-election race, has reported for years that former campaign manager Ron Dotzauer owes her between $15,000 and $50,000 for a personal loan predating her first Senate election in 2000. Dotzauer now runs a lobbying firm. The loan was still listed as outstanding on the financial disclosure report Cantwell filed in May. The senator's office said Dotzauer continues to advise informally Cantwell's campaign as an unpaid adviser. Since last fall, Cantwell has helped persuade Senate appropriators to set...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Retrospectives Begin

As we get closer to the fifth anniversary of 9/11, expect to see more retrospectives about the event and its aftermath. Yesterday we received the DVD for United 93, the special two-disc edition, in the mail. Because we had seen it before and I wanted to catch the Pittsburgh game, we decided to watch the movie itself over the weekend. However, we did watch the documentary on the bonus disk, "Chasing Planes", which retells the efforts made by air traffic controllers and the military to defend the nation from a threat none of them had ever imagined. It uses clips from the movie (mostly where the principals played themselves), but also features fascinating and chilling interviews with the controllers and pilots. It's excellent, well worth the small additional cost of the two-disk edition. Also, I'd like to remind people that the Minnesota premiere of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

House And Senate Reach Agreement On Federal Spending Database

It looks like momentum has built for the reformers for openness in government, especially appropriations. One day after Senator Bill Frist pushed through S.2590, the Coburn-Obama bill establishing a on-line, comprehensive, searchable database for all federal spending, the two chambers of Congress have agreed on a final version of the bill. House Majority Whip John Boehner has agreed to schedule a vote next week, according to this release from Senator Tom Coburn's office: House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and Tom Carper (Del.), and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) today announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to increase accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts. House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced he plans to schedule the agreed-upon language for House floor consideration next week. "This process has focused on enhancing the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

CQ On The Air

I'll be on the air with Lars Larson at 6:30 PM Central, about thirty minutes from now. Lars and I will be discussing the spate of 9/11 retrospectives and the Macalester College debate on Monday evening, as well as United 93 and Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West, and other topics. Be sure to tune in on your local radio station or listen on the Internet stream from his website. You can also call the show while I'm on at 866-HEY-LARS....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Phase II Reports

I spent my lunch break in a teleconference regarding the release of two reports from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the so-called Phase II reports. These came from further investigations by the SSCI into the differences between pre-war intel and post-war findings, and specifically focused on two areas of inquiry. The first covered the general accuracy of pre-war intel on WMD and Iraqi connections to al-Qaeda. The second report analyzes the information given to American intelligence by the Iraqi National Congress, headed at the time by Ahmed Chalabi, who currently serves in Iraq's National Assembly. This telecon was "on background" and involved senior Republican staffers on the Hill, and it was pretty strange. For one thing, I found it less than enlightening. They covered the data in very broad strokes, basically giving us a quick rundown of what they saw would create the most controversy -- but didn't...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Phase II 'Accuracy' Report Proves Joe Wilson A Liar

The Senate Select Commitee on Intelligence Phase II reports may take some time to process, reading the source data rather than just relying on the conclusions, but I've found one interesting nugget already. In the WMD accuracy report, a significant passage demonstrates the falsity of one leftist talking point (page 16, emphases mine): On February 4, 2003, the U.S. government provided copies of the Niger uranium documents to the IAEA with talking points which stated, "two streams of reporting suggest Iraq has attempted to acquire uranium from Niger. We cannot confirm these reports and have questions regarding specific claims. Nonetheless, we are concerned that these reports may indicate Baghdad has attempted to secure an unreported source of uranium yellowcake for a nuclear weapons program." The two streams of reporting refer to the intelligence reports from the foreign intelligence service and a CIA intelligence report reflecting the findings of a former...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 9, 2006

French Military Turns Pacifist On Shores Of Lebanon

When Israel agreed to lift the air and sea blockade of Lebanon two days ago, the UN promised that the forces replacing them would interdict arms intended to resupply their enemy, Hezbollah. France, which will provide substantial forces in controlling sea access to Lebanon, now says its military will not use force to stop anything: France announced on Friday that the international naval force designated to patrol Lebanon's territorial waters would not be authorized to employ force to stop ships from entering or leaving Lebanon. A spokesman for the French defense ministry said that the international craft would only provide assistance for Lebanese ships, and would not interfere with other nations' boats, Israel Radio reported. Earlier Friday, Israel began to remove its naval blockade of Lebanon, imposed almost two months after Hizbullah launched its cross-border raid and kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini, the French commander of UNIFIL, said...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Phase II Report: Saddam Retained Banned Missiles, Biological Stocks

Thanks to the genius of CQ reader Harrison Colter, I now have searchable PDFs of the Phase II reports. The new copies have already paid dividends. In the overall report on pre-war intel accuracy, two of the conclusions of the report seem to have gotten lost in the mainstream media coverage. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has concluded that Saddam Hussein maintained his stocks of biological material intended to create weapons as well as missiles banned by the cease-fire in 1991. In fact, as the report states, Saddam never accepted the missile-range restrictions and intentionally developed missiles to violate them. These conclusions, numbers 4 and 8, appear on pages 54 through 58: Although Iraq no longer had a large scale BW production capability after 1996, Iraq did retain an inherent dual-use BW capability. Iraq retained technical B W know-how through scientists who were involved in the pre- 199 1...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Blogger In Fight For His Life

Michael van der Galien writes about his Liberty and Justice co-blogger Isaac Schrodinger and his legal fight to avoid deportation from Canada to Pakistan. Isaac is a Muslim apostate; he has provided a consistent critical voice against radical Islam, seeing the dangers of its totalitarian nature. Now, however, Canada has started deportation hearings [not quite -- see update below] against Schrodinger, and he is trying to claim refugee status. He's having a difficult time convincing Canadian authorities of the danger he faces if compulsorily returned to his native Lahore. Their immigration office is not convinced that Isaac will suffer any harm if deported, and he's frantically trying to assemble evidence. If you have any objective reporting on the fate of apostates in Pakistan, now would be a good time to contact Isaac or Michael at Liberty and Justice. I think we understand Isaac's danger, even if Canadian authorities do not....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Searchable Phase II Reports

Earlier, I noted that CQ reader Harrison Colter provided me with searchable versions of the Phase II documents released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday. I'm now hosting these documents for others to use as reference: Phase II - Overall Accuracy Phase II - Iraqi National Congress intelligence Hopefully this will make it easier for all of us to peruse the actual data, rather than relying on the politically-charged conclusions from all sides....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Northern Alliance Radio On The Air ... For Now

The NARN retreats to the studio this week after our successful State Fair run the last two weekends -- but be careful who you tell. We understand that broadcast outlets that dare to criticize Democrats run the risk of getting their FCC licenses pulled. Nonetheless, we've already gone on the air today from the Undisclosed Bunker and will remain on until 5 pm CT at AM 1280 The Patriot -- or until they shut us down. You can listen on the Internet stream if you're not in the Twin Cities, and you can call us at 651-289-4488 to join the conversation, even if you have to disguise your voice and call on cell phones while changing locations. The Fraters gang is already on. Mitch and I start our broadcast at 1 pm CT, and the Final Word with King and Mike take the final two hours, starting at 3 pm...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Bikinis For Freedom!

Meet the woman who drives Pakistanis crazy -- although not like you'd think: Mariyah Moten entered a beauty contest at a Chinese resort, representing Pakistan (and rather nicely, I'd say). She won an award for the attracting the most photographers at the resort in Beihai. She entered herself as a Pakistani, although she moved out of the country eight years ago to live in the US. For some reason, Pakistanis find her loyalty to them infuriating: Stunning Mariyah Moten, 22, won the 'Best in Media' title - for being the most photographed and interviewed contestant - at the pageant in the Chinese resort of Beihai. But furious Pakistani authorities say she did not have permission to represent the country, where many women only go out in public covered in a veil. They are now threatening the model, who grew up in Pakistan but holds a US passport after she moved...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Fighting Irish Lion-Tamers

Brady Quinn broke out with a 25-for-36 effort and three TDs while the ferocious Irish defense kept consistent with another outstanding effort as Notre Dame easily dispatched the Penn State Nittany Lions, 41-17. The score doesn't accurately reflect the rout as JoePa's team added two touchdowns late in the game to take the sting off the beating: Brady Quinn and the Notre Dame offense were as good as advertised in Week 2. After an unimpressive opening game, Quinn, Jeff Samardzija and Co. returned to their fantastic form of last season in a 41-17 victory over No. 19 Penn State on Saturday. Quinn, the Heisman-hyped quarterback, was 12-of-16 passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter alone as fourth-ranked Notre Dame opened a 20-0 lead. The defense and special teams chipped in, too, breaking the game open in the third quarter by scoring one touchdown and setting up...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 10, 2006

A Dinner For Shawn Silvera

This evening, the First Mate and I will attend a dinner and silent auction in memory of Shawn Silvera. Shawn gave his life one year ago in service of our community as a Lino Lakes police officer. He left behind a wife and family, and a community which he had served not just as a police officer, but also as a member of the Peace Corps and as a volunteer for several charities. The evening will benefit several charities that reflect Shawn's passions for community and service, including Minnesota COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors), Catholic Charities, and our own Marriage Encounter. We're honored to be recognized by the Silvera family and we're looking forward to meeting them tonight. If you have the means, please consider supporting any of these fine organizations, especially Minnesota COPS, in Shawn Silvera's honor....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Path To 9/11 ...

... is the path to lunacy, if one keeps up with the links at Memeorandum. They're already planning Phase II of their war on Disney and ABC after the showing of the miniseries, having failed to dislodge the network with their "vociferous and righteous public outcry". The bloggers now refer to the show as "terror porn" and decry the fact that the producers have distributed advabce copies to conservatives -- although they fail to note that the conservatives that got them are media personalities who often get advance copies for pre-release review. It's called "publicity", and usually broadcasters like it. I don't know whether the film is terrible or terrific, and unfortunately I won't get a chance to find out. I'll be at a benefit dinner this evening honoring a fallen police officer (see below), and I'll be at Macalester College Monday night engaging in a much more rational debate...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

How About Another Huge Wave Of Saudi Students?

In a move that has more complexities than it seems on the surface, the US and Saudi Arabia have announced a big increase in the number of college students coming from the West's oil partner to campuses near you. Five times more students will get admitted to American universities -- and, of course, America -- than will have been in the country before: Thousands of students from Saudi Arabia are enrolling on college campuses across the United States this semester under a new educational exchange program brokered by President Bush and Saudi King Abdullah. The program will quintuple the number of Saudi students and scholars in the United States by the academic year's end. And big, public universities from Florida to Oregon are in a fierce competition for their tuition dollars. The kingdom's royal family -- which is paying full scholarships for most of the 15,000 students -- says the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Disingenuousness Of Jay Rockefeller

Senator Jay Rockefeller has provided one of the loudest voices decrying the Bush administration after the release of the Phase II reports this week, but last night's headline is simply jaw-dropping. Claiming that the White House "duped" America regarding Iraq and its ties to terrorism, he now says that the US and the Iraqis would have been better off with Saddam still in charge (via AJ Strata): "The absolute cynical manipulation, deliberately cynical manipulation, to shape American public opinion and 69 percent of the people, at that time, it worked, they said 'we want to go to war,'" Rockefeller told CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. "Including me. The difference is after I began to learn about some of that intelligence I went down to the Senate floor and I said 'my vote was wrong.'" Rockefeller went a step further. He says the world would be better off today if the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Did The AP Have A Spy For Saddam?

The American Thinker posts a translation of a captured Iraqi Intelligence Service document that intimates a mole for the IIS worked at the Associated Press. Document ISGQ-2005-00026108, translated by the tireless Joseph Shahda, does make an intriguing reference to a source within the AP: Republic of Iraq The Presidency of the Republic The Intelligence Service Date: 25/7/2000 Number: 6146 Secret To: 5th / 4th / 13th Directorates We were informed from one of our sources (the degree of trust in him is good) who works in the American Associated Press Agency [emphasis added] that the agency broadcasted to through computer to its branches worldwide the following ... The AP has earned plenty of mistrust for its slanted reporting over the years, but I don't think this adds significantly to that record. First, the memo doesn't describe the nature of its source. It could have been a reporter, but could just...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

MEMRI Shows Muslim Coverage Of 9/11 And Its Aftermath

Hot Air points readers to an excellent 43-minute documentary by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), hosted by Ron Silver, about the coverage and analysis of 9/11 in the Muslim world. It's an excellent perspective on the widespread paranoia and denial that conspiracy theorizing has brought to the ummah. If you want the short version, here it is: the Jews did it. In fact, some of the assertions made in this video sound uncomfortably similar to rhetoric emanating from far-Left circles. Also, Allahpundit also recommends this CBS site, which has unedited clips of 9/11 coverage. You'll see many scenes that the broadcast networks had excised for the last five years....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 11, 2006

Pilots Fight Background Checks For Flight Schools

On the day when we remember the 2,996 people killed by terrorists who used their limited flight-school training to turn commercial airliners into guided missiles, the New York Sun reports that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association plans to fight a New York law requiring background checks for students at flight schools. In the five years after 9/11, only New York has such a requirement: The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is considering filing a lawsuit against New York to block legislation signed by Governor Pataki that would require flight training schools to force its student applicants to undergo background checks before they start instruction. The Maryland-based association, which had lobbied aggressively against the legislation, is claiming that the state lacks jurisdiction over aviation security requirements for student pilots. It also is warning that the checks would drive away business from New York flight schools by making it more difficult...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Ahmadinejad As Monty Hall

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to play Monty Hall, the Guardian reports. He has offered an eight-week window in which he will refrain from uranium enrichment, a short respite that puts pressure on the West to reach a deal before Teheran opens Door #1: Iran offered to freeze its uranium enrichment programme yesterday for eight weeks in what looked like a successful tactic aimed at delaying consideration of international sanctions. In talks at the weekend in Vienna between Iran's national security chief, Ali Larijani, and the European Union's foreign policy supremo, Javier Solana, Tehran appeared to concede enough to prevent a quick move to sanctions by the UN security council. Washington is pressing for a swift decision on sanctions after Tehran failed to meet the terms of a security council resolution requiring it to freeze its uranium enrichment activities in order to resume negotiations with the west, Russia and China. The...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Difference Between Israel And Its Enemies

In Israel, Jewish terrorists get tried and convicted: An Israeli settler who shot and killed four Palestinian civilians in the West Bank in an attempt to scuttle Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip was convicted Monday in the Jerusalem District Court on four counts of murder. Asher Weisgan, 38, of the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, who had subsequently called for the assassination of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, had been found mentally fit to stand trial by a psychiatrist who examined him at court order. A driver who transported Palestinian laborers, Weisgan grabbed a gun from a security guard at the end of the work day last August after asking him for a drink of water, and then opened fire at the workers in his car at close range, killing three instantly and mortally wounding a fourth, who died later on the operating table at Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Poison Pregnancy

Ayman al-Zawahiri released a message to the West last night reminding everyone of the nihilism of radical Islam and its central role in the 9/11 attacks, and warned of more to come. The new message, complete with subtitles, warns that Islam is in the family way again: A lengthy statement from al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks calls on Muslims to step up their resistance against the United States. "Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster," al-Zawahiri says in a statement posted on the Internet late Sunday. "And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance." The video appeared on the Web site for Al-Sahab, the terror network's production company, said counterterrorism expert Laura Mansfield. Al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims to fight U.S. allies in Somalia, where...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Frist Underscores Border Security In Session Agenda

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist pens a column in today's Washington Examiner regarding the priorities at the top of his legislative agenda. As he promised in our interview, national security will occupy most of the Senate's time, but as I predicted, he will hit border security as a big part of that picture: Homeland security stands atop my list of remaining priorities. Last month’s arrests in England reminded all of us that, almost exactly five years after Sept. 11, terrorists remain intent on attacking and killing Americans. ... Congress must also work to secure America’s borders. While the Republican Congress has already devoted billions of dollars in new spending to border security, our frontiers still need additional protection. Thus, as we appropriate money, we’ll provide funds to hire new Customs and Border Protection personnel, provide them with necessary equipment, and begin the construction of a mixture of virtual and physical...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Forum On Iraq Tonight At Macalester College

As I announced last week, I have been invited to a panel discussion at Macalester College in Saint Paul this evening on the Iraq war. The debate is sponsored by Democracy for America, which has invited three other speakers to debate the war. The speakers include Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Univ. of St. Thomas Peace and Justice Studies professor; Phil Steger, Friends for a Nonviolent World director; and Lou Ellingson, Swift Boat retired Navy captain and small business owner. It's my understanding that all three will speak in opposition to the war. I felt that I owed some effort to defend the positions I've taken in a public forum, even one that has the potential to be as hostile as this might be. The people at DFA have been great, very encouraging and very polite, and I'm working from the assumption that the evening will feature sharp but polite disagreement on policy...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

9/11 Remembrance: Ysidro Hidalgo-Tejada

With the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack approaching, I wondered what I would write to honor those who lost their lives in the worst foreign attack on the homeland in almost two centuries. Plenty of stories have already been told about the victims and the heroes, and I wondered what I could add. Not long ago, I received an invitation from the 2,996 Tribute Project. The organizers want bloggers to remember each one of the dead from that terrible day, and in order to ensure that no one gets forgotten, they assigned a victim to each blogger. The project assigned me Ysidro Hidalgo-Tejada, a food-service worker in the World Trade Center. I tried doing some research on Ysidro. The messages at the website indicate that he had a family that loved him, a family that the Dominican Republic immigrant supported by working at the Windows On The World...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Iraq War Forum: Opening Remarks

As I announced earlier, I will take part in a Macalester College forum on the Iraq War this evening. I'm posting my opening remarks to the forum so that CQ readers who could not attend can read my speech and my arguments. I hope they inspire a healthy and rational debate here in the comments section. I'll let you know if they did the same at the forum. The War In Iraq Good evening, and thank you for your hospitality. A few weeks ago, Grace Kelley e-mailed me asking if I knew anyone in the area that would defend the decision to invade Iraq for tonight’s forum. I think I surprised Grace when I volunteered to do it myself. She had been unable to get anyone to commit to speaking in this forum, and while I do not know the individual circumstances of those she approached before, I do know...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Return From The Lion's Den

I had to laugh this afternoon after I received an e-mail from my mother, who occasionally posts here as Vayapaso, regarding my appearance at Macalester College for the forum on Iraq. She said, "You're walking into a den of lions tonight," and from the comments, she wasn't alone in that observation. I'm glad to report back that no one got devoured tonight and that the evening went very well indeed. As most people guessed, the audience and the panel were (for the most part) highly opposed to my point of view. However, they all treated me rather graciously, even if they did not agree with me on almost anything I said -- save for my remarks about democracy, at least as it applied in the United States. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of the debating positions. I don't think they would be surprising on either side to CQ readers,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 12, 2006

Zogby: Santorum Within Range

The internal poll leaked from the race for the Pennsylvania Senate seat late last week appears to have been accurate. According to a new Zogby poll, Rick Santorum has come from twenty points down to a 47-43 gap, almost within the poll's margin of error. Bob Casey, Jr has squandered a massive lead and has lost the momentum. In fact, Republicans have suddenly gained momentum almost across the board: In two of the other hottest Senate contests this fall, vulnerable GOP incumbents have suddenly closed the gap on their challengers. Republicans Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio, both of whom were down by wide margins essentially all year, have suddenly narrowed the edge of their Democratic challengers to four points. The survey shows that in Pennsylvania, the presence of third-party candidates suggests an even closer race, with left-wing candidates siphoning votes from moderate Democrat Bob Casey Jr....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Gas Prices Tumbling

In another bad omen for Democrats hoping to ride a wave of voter anger into power, gas prices have dropped dramatically over the last few weeks. USA Today reports what every driver has noticed when they hit the pumps: Gasoline prices continue to tumble, almost free-falling toward levels not seen in five months. The nationwide average for regular was $2.618 a gallon, the Energy Information Administration reported Monday. That was 10.9 cents lower than a week earlier. "The reason prices are going down so far so fast is that they shouldn't have been that high in the first place. Two reasons they were: fear and speculation," says Mike O'Connor, president of the Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association. It represents gasoline distributors who operate about 4,000 stations. ... Although motorists worried that once the $3 barrier was pierced, prices never would fall much, the current drop-offs are logical, Gamson says:...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Syria Foils Attack On US Embassy

Syria shot four men trying to detonate a car bomb outside the US embassy in Damascus, killing three and wounding the other, the BBC reports. One bomb detonated but so far no American casualties have been reported: A bomb attack on the US embassy in Damascus has been foiled by local security forces, Syrian officials say. Attackers tried to drive two cars at the embassy compound but three men were killed by guards and a fourth was captured, the interior minister said. One car bomb went off but a second failed, he told Syrian state TV, adding that it was being examined for clues. A member of Syria's security forces was also killed but there are no reports of US casualties. The attack started as the perpetrators ran towards the embassy compound, firing automatic weapons and shouting religious slogans, witnesses reported. They threw grenades at the wall and at some...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Just Kidding!

Iran apparently has withdrawn its earlier offer to suspend uranium enrichment for an eight-week period to resolve the diplomatic standoff over its nuclear ambitions. They reversed themselves shortly after making the offer: Iran still refuses to suspend nuclear enrichment before the start of talks on its nuclear program - a key demand by the six nations locked in a diplomatic standoff with the Islamic republic, officials said Tuesday. Tehran offered over the weekend to suspend enrichment, which can produce fissile material for nuclear warheads, for up to two months. The willingness to consider such a halt was seen as an important opening. But officials from delegations familiar with the outcome of the weekend's negotiations between Iranian and European negotiators said Tuesday that Iran had also made clear it would not halt enrichment before broader, six-power talks aimed at persuading Iran to agree to a long-term moratorium. They demanded anonymity in...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Strange Perspective On Pork

Today the media gave us two decidedly different takes on porkbusting. USA Today's Richard Wolf lauded the 'blogosphere' -- the quotes demonstrating that we pesky kids still haven't quite made it yet! -- for pushing for greater government oversight and uniting across partisan lines to fight pork-barrel politics: When watchdog groups that monitor federal spending wanted more information on 1,800 "pork barrel" projects buried in a House appropriations bill, they listed them on the Internet and asked readers to dig deeper. Within days, details began pouring in. The same thing happened when Porkbusters.org enlisted readers of its website to find out which senator had blocked legislation that would create an online database of federal grants and contracts. One by one, senators were eliminated until Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., were uncovered. The two episodes illustrate the latest trend in government oversight: More light is being thrown on Congress,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 13, 2006

Angelides Staff Hacks?

Last week, anonymous sources released an audio file of a telephone conversation in which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made reference to a Latina legislator as "very hot". The heat may now focus on the Governator's political opponent in the upcoming election, as the campaign of Phil Angelides acknowledged that they released the audio: The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded — and leaked to the media — a recording of a private meeting in which the governor described a Hispanic legislator as having a "very hot" personality. But Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor's Web site. "No one hacked," Calfo said at a news conference to address the role played by the Angelides campaign, first reported by The Sacramento Bee. "They accessed information that was available to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Primaries Offer Few Surprises

The final series of primaries swept through several states last night, and unlike in previous years, they featured interesting and competitive races in many places. None of them produced any big surprises, however, as the frontrunners won across the board. In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee kept his re-election bid on track by holding off a surprisingly strong bid by Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey. The final margin of victory appears to have been around eight points, indicating a tough race for Chafee in November. Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse has kept a thin lead over Chafee in polling over the last few months, but his margin has narrowed in the last few weeks. Laffey has promised to support Chafee and endorsed him last night in his concession speech, but that may not be enough to get Republicans who have tired of Chafee's voting record to come to the polls. I had endorsed Laffey...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Sistani Kills Federalism Plan

In a move that belies earlier reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had withdrawn from Iraqi politics, the widely respected Shi'ite imam scotched a plan by Shi'ite political groups to transform Iraq into a loosely-knit federation of three autonomous states. The Shi'ite-controlled legislature will table the proposal indefinitely, and the third-ranking official in the government pronounced the plan dead: The speaker of the Iraqi parliament said Tuesday that a controversial plan to partition the country into three autonomous regions is politically dead. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said in an interview that legislation to implement a concept known as federalism, which threatened to collapse the country's fragile multi-sect government, would likely be postponed indefinitely after a meeting of political leaders on Wednesday. The federalism plan would create a Shiite region in southern Iraq much like the autonomous zone in the north controlled by the Kurds. Sunnis have generally opposed the plan, on grounds...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

NATO Chief: Members Not Pulling Their Weight

NATO's Secretary-General has publicly scolded member nations for reneging on their commitments to supporting the mission in Afghanistan, apparently despairing of getting the promised level of troops. The rebuke comes as a demonstration of a consistent refusal of Europe to fight the war on terror, even against the Taliban of Afghanistan, which most Europeans concede was a necessary step after 9/11: THE political head of Nato appealed yesterday for alliance members to provide hundreds more troops for the mission in southern Afghanistan. With most of the fighting burden falling on the shoulders of the British, US, Canadian and Dutch troops in the South, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Secretary-General of Nato, said that some countries had failed to live up to their promises on troop numbers. In an interview with the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he said that he could not accept a scenario in which Nato members...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Yes, Russell, There Really Is A 1st Amendment Problem In The BCRA

In an editorial in yesterday's Examiner, former Federal Elections Commissioner Bradley Smith demolishes a recent assertion by Senator Russ Feingold that his Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act does not trample on First Amendment rights. Smith, who had a front-row seat to the implementation of McCain-Feingold, assures him that telling people when they can and cannot publicly criticize politicians is an egregious limitation on free speech: Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., takes issue with The Examiner’s editorial criticism of the McCain-Feingold bill and its “ban” on certain broadcast ads. The indignant senator responds that the law “doesn’t ban or censor any speech.” Feingold’s position is disingenuous. For just a few sentences after telling us the law “doesn’t ban or censor any speech,” he tells us that McCain-Feingold was necessary to prevent some voices from being “drowned out” by others. As McCain-Feingold does nothing to affirmatively create or encourage speech — it offers no...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Palestinians May Walk Away From Self-Government

The Washington Post reports that the newly-declared unity government might not last very long if its leaders cannot convince Israel and the West to lift economic sanctions imposed after Hamas took power earlier this year. More Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority should collapse if it cannot meet its payroll: Created a dozen years ago to administer the occupied Palestinian territories, the frail political system called the Palestinian Authority is now broke, paralyzed by months of partisan infighting and depleted by Israeli arrests. A growing number of Palestinians -- a group that has expanded in recent months from a core of secular intellectuals to include officials from the leading political movements -- have begun advocating openly for the authority's dissolution. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, facing a strike by civil servants over unpaid wages, agreed this week to form a power-sharing government with Fatah and other factions in hopes...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

New Effort At Earmark Reform In House

The House will take up a new rule tomorrow regarding earmarks that will force earmarkers to identify themselves with their targeted appropriations. The new rule, which only requires a simple majority, will also require conference reports to list their "airdropped earmarks" -- those appropriations that got added to bills after their individual adoption by the House and Senate by the conference members. Last night, I had an opportunity to talk to a leadership staffer on the Hill. Currently, the House has no rules on earmark additions or identification. Previous reform efforts aimed at legislation failed on the differences in approach between the House and Senate, as well as differences on the exact definition of "earmark". Appropriators rejected any controls on appropriations alone, noting that earmarks occur in other legislation. Instead of trying to hammer all of the issues into legislation that would satisfy both chambers of Congress and the White...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Senate, House Agree On Final Spending Database Bill (Updated!)

** Updated -- see below! ** Senator Tom Coburn's office has announced that the Senate has just passed a new bill to replace the language of the original S.2590, which establishes an on-line searchable database for federal spending. This action will expedite the legislative process and may put the bill on President Bush's desk by tomorrow: The Senate just passed an amended version of the Coburn-Obama database bill based on our agreement with the House. Following House passage of the bill the measure will go to the president for his signature. Tonight’s action in the Senate means the Senate will not need to revisit the measure as the House will vote on this identical measure tonight or tomorrow. The Senate, under Bill Frist's guidance, simply took the modified language under consideration in the House and passed it themselves first, apparently by acclamation. This eliminates the need for a conference committee...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Novak Tees Off On Armitage

The other shoe has dropped in the Armitage-Plame scandal, and I don't mean Valerie Plame's addition of Richard Armitage to her lawsuit. Robert Novak, now free to discuss the sourcing for his infamous column that unmasked Plame as a CIA "operative", says that Armitage has gotten stuck in the spin cycle in his mea culpas over the past two weeks. In facr, far from the inadvertent disclosure between friends that Armitage paints it, Novak explains that the disclosure was quite deliberate: A peculiar convergence had joined Armitage and me on the same historical path. During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview. I tried to see him in the first 2 years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me — summarily and with disdain, I thought. Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage’s office said the deputy secretary would...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 14, 2006

Ask. Tell. Enlist.

Once again, the issue of gays in the military has arisen during a tough recruiting period and questions about the reserve strength of the armed forces. The New York Times reports that gay-rights groups have seen this situation as a potentially propitious moment to breathe new life into the debate, five years into the war on terror: As the Pentagon’s search for soldiers grows more urgent, gay rights groups are making the biggest push in nearly a decade to win repeal of a compromise policy, encoded in a 1993 law and dubbed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” that bars openly gay people from serving in the military. The policy, grounded in a belief that open homosexuality is damaging to unit morale and cohesion, stipulates that gay men and lesbians must serve in silence and refrain from homosexual activity, and that recruiters and commanders may not ask them about their sexual orientation...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Media As Yenta

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match... Given the tensions in the world today, one would think that newspapers covering Condoleezza Rice's visit to our northern neighbor might focus on our foreign policy, especially war policy in Afghanistan, where Canadians continue to fight with distinction. Her meeting with Foreign Minister Peter MacKay should have prompted diplomatic inquiries about the softwood lumber dispute or continuing negotiations regarding passport requirements and border security. Instead, prurience trumped professionalism as reporters spent their time wondering how to get these two wonderful kids together, according to the Times of London: In the latest demonstration of the perils of being an attractive, articulate, female — and single — Dr Rice, the US Secretary of State, returned from an official visit to Canada yesterday with the North American press obsessed with one issue. It was not the number of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. After spending two days in...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Maybe They Should Get A Room

Yesterday, the prosecutor in the trial of Saddam Hussein demanded that the chief judge step down for refusing to stop Saddam from ranting in out-of-order outbursts. The judge demurred, stating that he had no bias towards Saddam and that he merely wanted to ensure that the record showed the defendant received a fair hearing. Today, however, the judge managed to make the prosecutor appear prescient in an exchange that had everything but flowers: Questioning a Kurdish witness Thursday, Saddam said, "I wonder why this man wanted to meet with me, if I am a dictator?" The judge interrupted: "You were not a dictator. People around you made you (look like) a dictator." "Thank you," Saddam responded, bowing his head in respect. Awwww. Poor Saddam meant to rule as a benevolent father to his subjects, but it was those meanies he hired to cut people's tongues out, chop off their hands,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Israeli Arabs a 'Fifth Column'?

Israeli Arabs have come under unprecedented criticism in the last few weeks, undermining their political position in the nation. While majorities still see native Arabs as Israelis, growing percentages of Israelis want them to emigrate out of Israel, with even Knesset members expressing hostility towards them. The potential for increasing racism have some politicians worried, especially Israeli Arab MKs. However, as the Jerusalem Post reports, they have done the most damage to their image themselves: Unsurprisingly, this trend worries Israeli Arabs. MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) complained of a "season of incitement against Arab MKs" during the recent Lebanon war. Bakar Awada, director of the Center Against Racism, said the poll showed that "racism is becoming mainstream…. This is a worrisome development." Yet Israeli Arab leaders apparently still see no connection between this growing anti-Arab sentiment and their own behavior. And in fact, their behavior is the main impetus for this...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Ellison Gets The 10-Foot Pole Treatment From Democrats

After Keith Ellison won the primary for the nomination for Minnesota's heavily-Democratic Fifth Congressional district, one would have expected a hail of congratulatory statements from fellow party members. However, Minnesota Democrats appeared very cautious about associating with the former Nation of Islam officer as only a handful of his peers endorsed his candidacy in the election's aftermath: Usually, everybody loves a winner. But some Democrats had little to say Wednesday about DFL primary winner Keith Ellison, who seems to have a good chance to become Minnesota's first black congressman, and the first Muslim in Congress. Among those who maintained their silence: Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who has had a 28-year hold on the seat Ellison is seeking. Sabo was backing his chief of staff, Mike Erlandson, who finished second. ... Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., like Sabo, declined to comment on Ellison's victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which is anchored...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Arabs Increasingly See Lebanon As A Loss

At the imposition of the UN Security Council cease-fire resolution, the West almost unanimously considered the war in Lebanon a disaster for Israel. Most analysts insisted that Israel's failure to destroy Hezbollah amounted to a humiliation and worried about the energizing effect Hassan Nasrallah's victory would have on radical Islam's popularity in the region. These analysts would be surprised to learn that Arabs increasingly view Hezbollah's war as a disaster as well -- but a disaster for Arabs: At the height of the war, as Hizbullah rockets regularly sent hundreds of thousands of Israelis scurrying to the shelters like "rabbits and mice," as some of the Arab media noted with undisguised gratification, the mood tended to be militantly euphoric, buoyed by the widely broadcast images of Israeli suffering and humiliation. But as the war came to its conclusion and life in Israel returned pretty much to normal, opinion in the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Momentum For Open Government Grows

The House has become the latest showcase for the building momentum for openness and accountability in federal appropriations. New rules for the House that require the listing of all earmark sponsors in the Congressional Record passed by a much wider margin than first thought, 245-171. The rule takes effect immediately and will apply to a wide range of legislation and conference reports, forcing earmarkers to own their pork instead of dodging responsibility for the pork. The vote shows who on the Hill gets the new paradigm, and who still lives in the passing age of pork. Democrats voted 147-45 to defeat the new rule, and that included their leadership. Among those opposing the identification of earmarks are Nancy Pelosi, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Patrick Kennedy, Tom Lantos, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Betty McCollum, Allan Mollohan, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, and Ike Skelton, some of whom have been named as committee chairs if...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

McCain Supports Rightroots Campaign

The big push has continued this week for the Rightroots campaign, and it has added a rather significant name in support -- Senator John McCain. Patrick Hynes, who works for McCain as well as blogs at Ankle Biting Pundits, reports that the presidential contender wants to use Rightroots to help maintain Republican control of both chambers of Congress. He also includes an entertaining video clip in which McCain uses humor to separate rally attendees from the GOP money that still resides in their wallets. The Rightroots effort is in the middle of a push to get 100 new contributions per candidate between now and the 20th. Of course, every donation helps, but we really want to show that the conservative blogosphere can adopt a grassroots enthusiasm and support key candidates in the midterms. I can tell you that the endorsed slate include very winnable races for the GOP, and that...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 15, 2006

Will Gas Prices Continue Tumbling?

As I drove home from work yesterday, I noticed that local gas stations now sell regularl unleaded at $2.17 per gallon, a level I have not seen in many months, perhaps before Hurricane Katrina took a large part of our production off line. Now analysts predict that oil prices may start a free-fall if the winter proves mild, perhaps sending pump prices to levels not seen in years (via Power Line): The recent sharp drop in the global price of crude oil could mark the start of a massive sell-off that returns gasoline prices to lows not seen since the late 1990s — perhaps as low as $1.15 a gallon. "All the hurricane flags are flying" in oil markets, said Philip Verleger, a noted energy consultant who was a lone voice several years ago in warning that oil prices would soar. Now, he says, they appear to be poised for...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Bad Start For Al-Qaeda?

For the fifth anniversary of 9/11, al-Qaeda's executive officer Ayman al-Zawahiri celebrated by publishing a video that threatened a new phase in the group's offensive against the West. In this new effort, the Egyptian terror leader told viewers that AQ would now target Gulf states, including oil facilities, that cooperated with the infidels. Foiled attacks on a Yemeni refinery and a Canadian-Yemeni storage facility appears to have launched the AQ offensive, but both failed to achieve their mission objectives: Suicide bombers tried to strike two oil facilities in Yemen with explosives-packed cars, but authorities foiled the attacks and four bombers and a security guard were killed, the government said Friday. Friday's attacks happened 35 minutes apart, targeting a Yemeni oil refinery in the northeast province of Mareb and a Canadian-Yemeni oil storage facility at the Dubba Port in Haramut province — scene of a 2002 attack on the French tanker...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Now This Is Surrender

Pakistan has removed all doubt about its tenacity in fighting terrorism. The London Telegraph reports that Pervez Musharraf has released thousands of Taliban fighters caught in the five years since the US drove their government out of Afghanistan: Pakistan's credibility as a leading ally in the war on terrorism was called into question last night when it emerged that President Pervez Musharraf's government had authorised the release from jail of thousands of Taliban fighters caught fighting coalition forces in Afghanistan. Five years after American-led coalition forces overthrew the Taliban during Operation Enduring Freedom, United States officials have been horrified to discover that thousands of foreign fighters detained by Pakistan after fleeing the battleground in Afghanistan have been quietly released and allowed to return to their home countries. Pakistani lawyers acting for the militants claim they have freed 2,500 foreigners who were originally held on suspicion of having links to al-Qa'eda...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Border Barrier The New Berlin Wall: Democrats

Apparently in desperate need of a history lesson, Democrats yesterday described the border security barrier bill passed by the House yesterday "another political gimmick" and called the barrier a new Berlin Wall: The House yesterday easily approved building 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to get major border-security legislation on President Bush's desk before November's elections. "The time to address the border-security emergency is now, before Congress leaves for the November election," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, applauding the Republican-backed measure and introducing a slate of new border-security measures that he hopes to pass this month. Yesterday's border-fence bill was approved on a 283-138 vote. The vast majority of House Republicans were joined by 64 Democrats to support the measure. Six Republicans voted against it. ... Democrats dismissed the vote as "another political gimmick" by House Republicans who passed a tough border-security bill last...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Bush Ratings Rally Contributing To GOP Support?

With the midterms approaching, George Bush's approval ratings have started peaking, Rasmussen reports, with a 47% approval rating. That's his best rating since mid-February, and Rasmussen says that's no coincidence. In February the White House took a beating over the abortive Dubai ports deal, a story that broke just days before that last peak. That issue caused massive conservative outrage, probably unfairly, and dropped Bush into the 30s, where he spent most of the spring. Now he has rebounded, and in time for the elections -- and that's no coincidence either. With control of Congress at risk, conservatives have rethought their anger towards the Bush administration. Rasmussen notes that 85% of Republicans now approve of Bush's performance, a large improvement from the mid-60s. Whether that comes from 9/11 retrospectives or from a renewed sense of Bush's commitment to the war on terror, it seems to have some coattails. For instance,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rightroots Push Continues

We're continuing our push for 100 contributions for each candidate in our Rightroots campaign, which has a slate of excellent candidates in competitive races for both the House and Senate in the upcoming midterm elections. As of this post, we have raised over $66,000 for the list, and we're just getting started. In order to make the stakes clear regarding the candidates, I'd like to highlight the two Minnesota races Rightroots supports. Mark Kennedy has served in Congress for three terms and now wants to win the seat from which Mark Dayton will retire. Kennedy has a solid conservative voting record and wants to pursue national security and open government issues when he moves to the Senate. His opponent, Amy Klobuchar, has a small but consistent lead on Kennedy in the polls. Klobuchar has served as the District Attorney for Minneapolis without getting her hands dirty by actually prosecuting cases,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Since When Has Geneva Protected Our Troops?

The arguments employed by the opponents of George Bush's plan to establish specific definitions for Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions make one argument over and over again, and rarely get challenged on it. They claim that any redefinition or apparent backsliding on the Geneva Conventions will put our own troops at risk; Colin Powell made the same argument yesterday. However, they fail to explain how the GC has ever protected American troops during wartime: Colin L. Powell, Mr. Bush’s former secretary of state, sided with the senators, saying in a letter that the president’s plan to redefine the Geneva Conventions would encourage the world to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism,” and “put our own troops at risk.” ... Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, warned the administration against taking on Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war. “They’re...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Pope's Real Threat

Many people have written about the controversy over Pope Benedict's recent remarks at the University of Regensburg, where he quoted a medieval emperor about the barbarity of forced religious conversions. In a replay of the Prophet Cartoon madness, Muslims only escalated their rhetoric after the Vatican apologized for any offense the quotation may have given followers of Islam. Despite apologizing Wednesday for quoting Manuel II's words from 1391 (but not for its argument against violence in religion), Muslims burnt effigies of the Roman Catholic leader and staged demonstrations around the world: Protesters took to the streets in a series of countries with large Muslim populations, including India and Iraq. The ruling party in Turkey likened Pope Benedict XVI to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades. In Kashmir, an effigy of the pontiff was burnt. At Friday prayers in the Iranian capital, Teheran, a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 16, 2006

Pope Apologizes For Being Prophetic

Pope Benedict XVI apologized more clearly for any offense taken from his speech by Muslims that decried violence in relgious proselytization, as Muslims burnt two churches in the West Bank. Benedict now says that he hoped Muslims would understand the core meaning of his speech, which appears extremely unlikely: In a statement read out by a senior Vatican official, the Pope said he respected Islam and hoped Muslims would understand the true sense of his words. ... The BBC's Christian Fraser in Rome says the speed with which the Vatican has reacted shows just how seriously it views the situation. Reading the statement, new Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the Pope's position on Islam was in line with Vatican teaching that the Church "esteems Muslims, who adore the only God". "The Holy Father is very sorry that some passages of his speech may have sounded offensive to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Limited Reluctance Of Israel

Israel has warned Lebanon that a failure to disarm Hezbollah will lead to a war with Lebanon if Hezbollah attacks Israel again. Tzipi Livni, Israel's Foreign Minister, told the Washington Post that the stakes will go up considerably if the terrorists attempt more provocations along the Blue Line: The Lebanese government must fully implement a recent U.N. resolution requiring the disarming of the militant Shiite group Hezbollah or Israel will be less reluctant to attack the Lebanese state if Hezbollah resumes hostilities, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday. Livni, in an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Post, said that when the fighting began in July after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers, Israel heeded calls from world officials not to undermine the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora because the formation of the government and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian troops was an "achievement of the international...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Democratic Fecklessness On Entitlements

The Washington Post calls out Democrats on their inability to address entitlement reform in today's editorial. After noting that Congress has shown signs of backing away from the containment of health-care inflation for the third year in a row, they puzzle over Democratic resistance to means-testing for Medicare: The second announcement was that the richest 4 percent or so of retirees will face steep increases in Medicare premiums. Until now, all patients have paid a premium equal to 25 percent of the value of the benefits that the average retiree receives. In the future, the most affluent will pay more, though they will still be paying less in premiums than they take out in benefits. This modest reform, which won't affect the premiums 96 percent of retirees pay, is expected to raise an extra $20 billion for Medicare over the next decade. That's a fraction of the program's long-term funding...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

JAGs Were Not Coerced

After the White House produced a letter signed by the leaders of the Pentagon's lawyers supporting a clarification of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Republican Senators opposed to the effort accused the Bush administration of coercing the statement. The New York Times reports today that the signatories did not get forced into signing anything: The lawyers, known as judge advocates general, had been pivotal players in years of debate over detention, interrogation and prosecution. They had repeatedly sparred behind the scenes with Mr. Haynes, the top civilian lawyer in the Defense Department. This summer, the judge advocates general emerged in public after the Supreme Court struck down a Bush administration plan to take an important role in opposing parts of a White House effort to resurrect military commissions for terrorism suspects in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But at the meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Haynes sought to enlist the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Na Na Ney Ney Goodbye

Bob Ney became the first lawmaker to admit corruption in connection with Jack Abramoff yesterday, pleading guilty to conspiracy and false statements regarding gifts he received. Ney came up with a new excuse for his abrupt fall as he entered his plea: Representative Bob Ney of Ohio admitted Friday that he had effectively put his office up for sale to corrupt Washington lobbyists and a foreign businessman in exchange for illegal gifts that included lavish overseas trips, the use of skyboxes at sports arenas in the Washington area and thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips from London casinos. In a plea agreement announced by the Justice Department, Mr. Ney, a six-term Republican who once seemed poised to rise far in the House leadership, admitted to a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy and to making false statements about the gifts. With the agreement, Mr. Ney became the first member of Congress to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Victor Davis Hanson And John Hawkins On NARN Today

The Northern Alliance Radio Network returns to the airwaves today with a couple of very special guests. At 2 pm CT, we will have the extraordinary Victor Davis Hanson joining us, talking about ... well, whatever he wants to discuss! We will definitely discuss the analysis of the term "Islamic fascism", which seems to have academia in an uproar lately, as well as the erupting controversy over the Pope's remarks. He also has a post regarding the new deal to quintuple the number of Saudi students in the US, and we'll get to that topic, I'm sure. At 1:30 CT, we'll call John Hawkins of Right Wing News to discuss the progress on the latest Rightroots push. He's been the organizing force behind this effort to support targeted races in order to secure a Republican majority in the next Congress, and he'll have updates on the candidates endorsed by the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

When Irish Eyes Are Crying ...

Well, that certainly hurt! Notre Dame got an old-fashioned butt-whupping from the Michigan Wolverines at South Bend today, losing 47-21 and looking poor in almost every facet of their game. Even Fighting Irish head coach Charlie Weis had to admit it: No. 11 Michigan finally put a Big Blue bruising on the second-ranked Fighting Irish in a 47-21 rout Saturday -- the most points scored against Notre Dame at home in 46 years. "They deserve their just due," Irish coach Charlie Weis said. "I think it's important to understand that team just came and whupped us pretty good." Indeed, they did. Chad Henne threw three touchdown passes to Mario Manningham, and Michigan intercepted Brady Quinn three times, forced him to fumble and shut down the rest of the Irish offense. Michigan ended a two-game losing streak against the Irish and a three-game slide at Notre Dame Stadium. The win likely...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 17, 2006

Jefferson's Corruption Goes Beyond Bribery (Bumped)

When the FBI found $90,000 of cash in William Jefferson's freezer and raided his office on Capitol Hill, many observers believed that law enforcement suspected the Louisiana Congressman of the usual pedestrian corruption -- taking money from special interests and shooting federal money into their pockets, as well as his. However, as Christopher Drew reports in the New York Times, Jefferson had a much more far-reaching abuse of power in mind. Instead, he had conspired to wrest control of iGate from its founder, Vernon Jackson, and exploit the company for the benefit of his family: For nearly five years, the inventor and the congressman had carried the message that Mr. Jackson’s company, iGate, could help close the “digital divide” by delivering high-speed Internet access to poor blacks around the world. They had flown to Africa to seek business opportunities, and they had talked up iGate to potential partners at the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Religion Of The Peace Of Surrender

In what could only be described as a depressingly predictable escalation, Somalian Islamists shot an elderly Catholic nun in the back three times, killing the woman who had served as a nurse to Mogadishu's poverty-stricken people. It came as Pope Benedict XVI offered an apology for using inflammatory language while Muslim activists and leaders around the world proclaimed it insufficient: An Italian nun was shot dead at a hospital by Somali gunmen Sunday, hours after a leading Muslim cleric condemned Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks on Islam and violence. The nun, who was not immediately identified, was shot in the back at S.O.S. Hospital in northern Mogadishu by two gunmen, said Mohamed Yusuf, a doctor at the facility, which serves mothers and children. The nun's bodyguard and a hospital worker were also killed, doctors said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, and it was not...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

An Open Letter To Pope Benedict XVI

To His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI: I went to church angry today for the first time in quite a while, perhaps since 9/11. We are called to humble ourselves when we worship God, and while I'm far from being the world's best example of Catholicism, I usually prepare myself by recalling my sins and my flaws before Mass begins -- not usually a difficult task, I'm afraid to say. Unfortunately, today my anger got the best of me, and I struggled through an otherwise excellent service by our pastor. Why should this be so? Before I went to Mass, I read about the senseless murder of Sister Leonella Sgorbati, who got shot three times by Islamists in Mogadishu, where she worked as a volunteer nurse to the Somalian poor. The shooting came in response to the outrage and violence that sprang from protests over your speech last week at the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rightroots: The John Hawkins Interview

Yesterday, Mitch Berg and I had the pleasure of interviewing John Hawkins regarding the Rightroots initiative on our Northern Alliance Radio Network show. John, the proprietor of Right Wing News, put together this effort on behalf of the conservative blogosphere to raise funds for key races that we feel are critical in holding onto Republican control of both chambers of Congress. This gives people living in districts that do not feature competitive races or states that have no Senate seat at risk to put their contributions where they will have the most impact. As of now, we have topped the 100-contribution mark in this 15-day spotlight effort days before the deadline. The rest of the candidates have more than half of their contribution goals, and we have raised over $38,000 in ten short days. That gives us a total of almost $90,000 for these fine candidates, none of whom have...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 18, 2006

The Icognito Victory Lap

Hassan Nasrallah wants to celebrate Hezbollah's "victory" with a massive rally in Beirut, in the suburbs that have served as a Hezbollah stronghold for decades. That apparently won't be enough for Nasrallah, however, as he will not commit to appearing at his own victory rally: Hizbullah's leader on Sunday called for a massive rally in Beirut's bombed out southern suburbs to mark the militant group's "victory" over Israel during the monthlong fighting this summer. Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the rally, to be held Friday evening, would show Hizbullah's "absolute commitment to our right to recover our land and prisoners and defend our nation, its dignity, freedom, sovereignty and real and full independence in the face of [Israeli] occupation." "I call on all of you to participate in this victory rally," he said in a brief, televised speech broadcast on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV station. Nasrallah, who went into hiding on July...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Would More Troops In Anbar Help?

The New York Times takes a look at a question that has plagued the Iraq mission from the beginning, and which continues to stir debate to this day. With the latest alarming reports coming out of Anbar, Thom Shanker asks whether more troops would improve the situation -- and gets a mixed response: IN the lawless villages and empty deserts of Anbar Province, the Sunni heartland that provides safe haven for indigenous insurgents and foreign terrorists, what could an American commander do if more troops showed up? This tantalizing “what if?” is being debated with renewed intensity after it was revealed last week that a Marine Corps intelligence assessment said Anbar’s dire security situation could be improved only by injecting more economic aid and a division’s worth of troops to reinforce the current 30,000-strong coalition contingent. ... The answer is, they would help, in the short term. But many military...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Has Socialism Started Retreating In Europe?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Nicolas Sarkozy's electoral strategy to run against the "60s mentality" in France and support market based reforms of the French socialized economy and government. Yesterday, Europe's most socialistic government fell as economic moderates beat them in national elections, promising to scale back the nanny-state programs that have created widespread unemployment and malaise: SWEDEN’S centre-right alliance won a narrow general election victory to end 12 years of Social Democrat rule last night after a campaign dominated by the future direction of Europe’s most generous welfare state. Fredrik Reinfeldt, the youthful right-wing leader likened to David Cameron for the way he dropped traditional policies to modernise his party, saw off the veteran Göran Persson, Europe’s second longest- serving Prime Minister. Mr Reinfeldt, 41, based his appeal around reforming rather than overhauling Sweden’s social welfare system, with plans to cut the sickness benefits that account for 16...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Robert Mugabe's Helpful Touch

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has earned a reputation as one of the leading thugs of Africa. The leader of Zimbabwe has turned a once self-sufficient nation into a starving wasteland in which a very few elites garner all of the wealth to themselves. Those who oppose his efforts to enrich himself at the expense of the millions of starving Zimbabweans get treated to a painful form of government attention, as the London Times reports: THE beating stopped as the sun began to go down. After two-and-a-half hours, the fourteen men and one woman held at Matapi police station in Mbare township, Harare, had suffered five fractured arms, seven hand fractures, two sets of ruptured eardrums, fifteen cases of severe buttock injuries, deep soft-tissue bruising all over, and open lacerations. The 15 included Wellington Chibebe, the leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and senior officials of the opposition...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

AP Prefers Anecdotes To Real Data

As we approach the midterms, the media will attempt to kneecap Republicans on one of the issues where they can point to real success: the economy. Over the last three years, as the last of the tax cuts came into force and provided more incentive for investment, the economy and job growth have both erupted, resulting in one of the biggest booms over the last twenty years -- and this just after the 9/11 attacks designed to crush our capacity for growth. In doing so, media sources will avoid talking about real data and go on a search for individuals experiencing hard times, arguing a standard that no economy can be good for the nation as long as a few individuals have not prospered from it. Meet Liz Sidoti, who takes that approach in a release today from the AP, one that will no doubt be reprinted in thousands of...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Just Another Quixotic Monday ....

Perhaps Porkbusters may have another issue to press in the cause of open government. Jeffery Birnbaum reports in today's Washington Post about an exception to election rules requiring immediate electronic filing of political contributions, rules that allow voters to determine to whom politicians may be beholden before casting their votes. Not to worry, though -- the exception only affects 100 offices: In the next few weeks leading up to Election Day, money will pour into candidates' coffers and voters will be able to see which lobby groups are trying hardest to buy their lawmakers' favor. Except if the candidates happen to be running for Senate. ... As it is, almost all senators and Senate candidates deliver their reports on paper (even though those reports are written on computers). The paper filings are laboriously scanned and then key-punched into an electronic system, a procedure that often takes six weeks to finish...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Date To Remember

Today marks two important events in my life, and I hope CQ readers will indulge me a short post to note both. First, today is CQ commenter Vayapaso's birthday. Since Vayapaso also goes by "Mom" around the house, it's safe to say that she's the one commenter most responsible for the blog's existence. Happy birthday, Mom, and hope you have a wonderful day. Coincidentally, this is also the seventeenth anniversary of the day I met the First Mate. (Apparently I had something else going on other than Mom's birthday in 1989.) Needless to say, September 18th is a pretty damned good day for me, and I'm lucky on both counts....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Border Fence Vote Upcoming

Bill Frist posts that he will push for a vote this week on the border fence proposal currently under debate in the Senate. The Secure Fence Act of 2006 will authorize the construction of 700 miles in border barriers as well as higher-tech methods of security: One of the most important and most effective ways that we can stop illegal immigration is through the construction and proper maintenance of physical fences along the highest trafficked, most commonly violated sections of our border with Mexico. Take the case of San Diego. According to the FBI Crime Index, crime in San Diego County dropped 56.3% between 1989 and 2000, after a fence stretching from the Ocean to the mountains near San Diego was substantially completed. And, according to numbers provided by the San Diego Sector Border Patrol in February 2004, apprehensions decreased from 531,689 in 1993 to 111,515 in 2003. That’s why...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 19, 2006

Spain Gets Realistic About Gibraltar

The Spanish government has lifted travel and communication restrictions on the 28,000 residents on the British enclave of Gibraltar, effectively retreating from its efforts to impose its sovereignty on the Rock: In an agreement the Foreign Office described as "historic," many of the day-to-day restrictions Spain had imposed on the 28,000 inhabitants of the rock will be lifted. While the central issue of sovereignty remains untouched under the agreement, diplomats pointed out that talks held in the Spanish city of Cordoba are the first time the Spanish government has agreed to talk directly to Gibraltar's political leadership. "For the first time, all three parties have negotiated together and have reached agreement together. This is ground-breaking in itself. And it demonstrates that constructive dialogue and co-operation is possible," said Geoff Hoon, the Europe minister. The restrictions on travel and communication left only the sea as Gibraltar's reliable access. Francisco Franco sealed...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

French Retreat On Iranian Suspension

The French, who have remained surprisingly firm on the requirement for uranium-enrichment suspension until now, have retreated on it now. Jacques Chirac now says that Iran would not have to stop its enrichment program to get talks on an incentive package started, but could wait until talks were underway, and that's not even the retreat that matters: In an effort to jump-start formal negotiations between six world powers and Iran over its nuclear program, President Jacques Chirac of France suggested Monday that Iran would not have to freeze major nuclear activities until the talks began. Over the years, Mr. Chirac has consistently taken an extremely hard line against Iran both in public and private. But his remarks in a radio interview could be interpreted as a concession to Iran, whose officials have said they will not suspend their production of enriched uranium as demanded by the United Nations Security Council....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Union Shifts To Lamont After Primary

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has switched its endorsement from Joe Lieberman to Ned Lamont in a curious about-face after the primaries. Before Lieberman lost to Lamont, AFSCME had enthusiastically supported the incumbent with his long record of union-friendly votes. Somehow that became less of a concern to AFSCME leadership in the five weeks since: The switch by the union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, is the biggest labor boost Mr. Lamont has received since winning the Democratic primary last month. The support of the union, which represents about 35,000 members, shows that Mr. Lamont has chipped away at enough of Mr. Lieberman’s union support to make it most likely that the state A.F.L.-C.I.O., the umbrella group of state labor organizations, will stay neutral in the Senate general election. Both Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Lamont had lobbied the municipal union for its...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

When Human Rights Watch Calls You Anti-Israeli ...

In an embarrassing development for the United Nations, Human Rights Watch has issued a public scolding of Turtle Bay's Human Rights Council for its obsession for criticizing Israel. The successor of the Human Rights Commission has learned little from the failures of its predecessor, according to the international organization not exactly known for its Israeli sympathies: Human Rights Watch on Monday criticized the new UN Human Rights Council for its one-sided attacks on Israel and disproportionate attention to the Middle East. The New York-based human rights organization issued a statement urging the council to "expand its focus beyond the Middle East" and address other crises, such as those in Darfur and Sri Lanka. The statement also pointed out that in the meetings that have occurred since the council was created in March, it has adopted three resolutions on "human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law" by Israel. But, the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

War On Rome?

Muslim extremists continued to offer threats and violence in response to a speech by Pope Benedict XVI that warned against violent conversion. The Washington Times rounds up the most notable developments from thre previous day, in which Muslims around the world followed the Prophet Cartoon playbook almost to the letter: Elsewhere, Iran's supreme leader called for more protests over the pontiff's remarks and protests broke out in South Asia and Indonesia, with angry Muslims saying Benedict's statement of regret a day earlier did not go far enough. In southern Iraq, demonstrators carrying black flags burned an effigy of the pope. In London, police increased patrols near churches and began an inquiry into remarks by Anjem Choudhary, a well-known extremist who had called at a rally outside Westminster Cathedral on Sunday for the pope to be "executed." The 39-year-old lawyer also had organized a rally earlier this year sparked by cartoons...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Well, Who's Slapping Whom?

I looked forward to E.J. Dionne's take on the latest outrage to spread through the Muslim world regarding the exercise of Western free speech and criticism, with both of us being Catholic but coming from different perspectives on the world. He weighs in today in a column that surprisingly blames Benedict for his rhetorical selections and blaming him for "slapping" Islam: What went wrong here? First, if you read his intellectually interesting lecture, you'll see the passage on Islam was not truly essential to the pope's argument. Indeed, he argued at least as strongly against a liberal Christianity in which "the subjective 'conscience' becomes the sole arbiter of what is ethical" and in which Jesus is reduced to being "the father of a humanitarian moral message." (Those quotation marks around the word "conscience" reflect the pope's skepticism of individual moral choice unguided by the church's teachings.) But then why did...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Funny, She Doesn't Look Reporterish

One of the strangest moments in the recent history of political debates took place yesterday in Virginia, where former Reagan aide James Webb is challenging incumbent George Allen for the Senate. Instead of asking a question about issues that Senators will address in future sessions of Congress, a television reporter decided to ask Allen whether his mother has Jewish blood: At a debate in Tysons Corner yesterday between Republican Allen and Democrat Webb, WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox asked Allen, the tobacco-chewing, cowboy-boot-wearing son of a pro football coach, if his Tunisian-born mother has Jewish blood. "It has been reported," said Fox, that "your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?" Allen recoiled as if he had been struck. His supporters in the audience booed and...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 20, 2006

Mahmoud Goes Conspiratorial While Bush Tries Warmth

George Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tried two completely different tactics yesterday at the UN, with both confounding expectations. Instead of attacking the United Nations as many of his supporters would have predicted, Bush instead used his address to speak directly to the peoples of terror-sponsoring states. Iran's president used his turn at the podium not to plead his peace-loving credentials so much but to level harsh criticism of the very body that cannot bring itself to punish his nation for its defiance. Bush got the first slot at the podium earlier in the day, and he spoke about the need for democracy and its positive effects in the region: Imagine what it's like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform. You're 21 years old, and while your peers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for the first time,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Arab Nuclear Race Begins

The Iranian pursuit of nuclear power (at the least) has spurred interest across Southwest Asia in keeping up with the Persians. Der Spiegel reports that other states in the region that had spurned interest in nuclear research have now openly debated its value: As Iran tries to buy time in its dispute with the international community over its nuclear program, the Arab world's interest in atomic energy is apparently growing. The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdul Rahman al Attiyah, recently called on the "Arab nation" to work "together on a nuclear program," to prevent being left behind as others in the region -- namely Iran, which is Persian and sometimes at odds with its neighbors -- pushed ahead with atomic research. Attiyah's call points to a shift in policy. Arab governments in the past have criticized both Iran's nuclear ambitions and Israel's (officially nonexistent) atomic program, while...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Bad Judgment

The Iraqi Prime Minister fired the judge at Saddam Hussein's trial that refused to control the defendant and then assured the man who wielded absolute power until his 2003 fall that he was not a dictator. Predictably, a number of human-rights activists have erupted in outrage at this "interference" in the trial of the genocidal tyrant: The firing was condemned by human rights advocates as improper political interference by Mr. Maliki’s government, which is dominated by Shiites and Kurds persecuted during Mr. Hussein’s rule. Human Rights Watch said the firing “sends a chilling message to all judges: toe the line or risk removal.” ... But international human rights groups said the firing undermines the tribunal’s credibility and could influence other judges to favor the prosecution. They also questioned whether the tribunal’s procedures for handling allegations of judicial bias and misconduct were followed. “This shows the court is not immune from...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Lord Carey Delivers The Real Thing

For those who insist that Pope Benedict XVI delivered an insult to Islam by pointing out the evil of violent conversion in the use of a single quote from a 600-year-old text, Lord Carey will send them into hysterics. The former Archbishop of Canterbury told an audience at Newbold College that Islam itself is creating a clash of civilizations and praised Benedict for his efforts to bring the conflict to the surface: THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton has issued his own challenge to “violent” Islam in a lecture in which he defends the Pope’s “extraordinarily effective and lucid” speech. Lord Carey said that Muslims must address “with great urgency” their religion’s association with violence. He made it clear that he believed the “clash of civilisations” endangering the world was not between Islamist extremists and the West, but with Islam as a whole. “We are living in...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rightroots Homestretch

We're coming into the home stretch for the Rightroots 15-day project to get 100 contributions for each of the candidates on our slate. We still have candidates who have a little way to go to meet the goal, but we have pushed five of them over the century mark. Diana Irey has received 146 contributions in the last two weeks for her contest against John Murtha, for instance, and all but one of our Senatorial candidates have met the goal. This morning we topped the $100,000 mark for Rightroots, a pretty astounding effort for a project only about six weeks old. With the midterms approaching, these Republican candidates can use all of the assistance you can provide. Help keep Congress in Republican hands by making your contributions to these campaigns. You can hear John Hawkins of Right Wing News explain the program to Mitch and me on our Northern Alliance...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Return Of CMPC-2003-001488

Two months ago, almost to the day, I posted about a translation of a captured IIS document, CMPC-2003-001488, that described intelligence that the IIS garnered from one of its Afghan contacts regarding ties between Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and Saddam Hussein. I also noted in that post that the memo had been translated by Iraqi blogger Omar at Iraq the Model and at Pajamas Media last March. Tapscott's Copy Desk notes that blogger Fix 4 RSO has now also discovered this memo, which appears to put lie to the notion that post-war intel failed to show any operational ties between Saddam Hussein and AQ. Here's the memo as I posted it in July: Office of the Presidency Intelligence Service M5/3/9/2 The Honorable Mr. General Director Manager M5 Subject: Information Our Afghani source numbered 11002 had provided us with the information on the denotation paper number -1- ) The Afghani Consul...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 21, 2006

CNN Found Saddam-AQ Connection In 1999

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence appears to have missed some intel in their evaluation that no ties existed between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. Perhaps they can be forgiven for missing information produced by another organization outside of the American intel community -- but one would think that at least one member of the committee watched CNN in 1999 (via CQ reader Stoo Pid): Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers. Despite repeated demands from Washington, the Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden after the August 7 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, demanding proof of his involvement in terrorist activities. However, in recent weeks, both the United States and Britain have renewed their pressure on the Taliban to expel bin Laden. It's an interesting article, one that has drawn a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rightroots Hits The Mark While The GOP Ascends

The Rightroots campaign succeeded in its project to collect 100 contributions for each of its candidates. John Hawkins announced last night that we rode the momentum that had gathered over the weekend into a big burst at the finish line: Moreover, in the process we raised a nice chunk of change. The official count that ABC PAC gave us for the moment we started the challenged was $50,250.12. As of this moment, we have raised $112,618.46. So, we raised more than $62,000 during the challenge and, because of our success, the RNC has agreed to send out a promotional email on our behalf to their mailing list, which consists of millions of Republican voters. Furthermore, our totals don't include the $14,000 that Jack Kingston's PAC has given to our candidates for meeting a previous challenge. Consider that 10 weeks ago, Rightroots wasn't even an idea in my head yet. 9...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Assisted Suicide: It's Not Just For The Ill Anymore

Over the last decade, Americans have debated whether to legalize certain forms of assisted suicide. Proponents focus on the terminally ill, those people whose prognoses hold no hope whatsoever for recovery, pain-free living, and dignity in their last days. Opponents have warned of slippery slopes and speculated that social acceptance of the act would lead to expanded use. The Times of London reports that Switzerland has proven the slippery-slope argument. Dignitas, a Swiss right-to-die organization, has announced that it will press legislators to allow the chronically depressed to choose assisted suicide as a permanent cure: BRITONS suffering from depression could soon be legally helped to die in Switzerland if a test case in the country’s Supreme Court is successful next month. Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, the Zurich-based organisation that has helped 54 Britons to die, revealed yesterday that his group was seeking to overturn the Swiss law that...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Futility Of 'Clarifications'

The Pope offered yet another clarification of his comments at the University of Regensburg, attempting to ease the rage of Muslims around the world following his criticism of violence in religious conversion. The repeated attempts to appease Islamists have begun to create a different reaction from non-Muslims, as the New York Times' Ian Fisher reports from Rome: Three days after saying he was “very sorry” about the reaction to his remarks, delivered last week in Germany, Benedict sought to clarify them again. “This quotation, unfortunately, was misunderstood,” he said, alluding to protests and attacks on churches by offended Muslims. “In no way did I wish to make my own, the words of the medieval emperor.” “I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together,” he said. He added that he hoped he had made clear his “profound respect for world religions and for Muslims.”...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Hurricane Hugo Hits Turtle Bay

A tropical wind blew mightily through the halls of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, launched by Latin America's biggest blowhard and an apparent candidate for Paxil. Claiming that George Bush was "El Diablo", Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez claimed he could still smell the sulfur at the podium from Bush's appearance the night before, delighting the usual crowd of tyrants and kleptocrats: President Hugo Chavez, the combative Venezuelan leader, denounced President Bush in a U.N. speech Wednesday as a racist, imperialist "devil" who has devoted six years in office to military aggression and the oppression of the world's poorest people. Speaking from the lectern where Bush spoke a day earlier, Chavez said he could still smell the sulfur -- a reference to the scent of Satan. Even by U.N. standards, where the United States is frequently criticized as the world's superpower, Chavez's remarks were exceptionally inflammatory. They were also received...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Democratic Nonsense On Allen's Heritage Made Clear

Today's Washington Post explodes the myth that Senator George Allen hid his Jewish heritage from voters out of shame or fear of the reaction from Virginia voters. After a whispering campaign by Allen's political opponents regarding the religion of his grandfather Felix Lumbroso, whom the Nazis jailed in Tunis during the African campaign, Allen finally confronted his mother last month about the rumors, when she confirmed that she had been raised as a Jew in North Africa. Michael Shear went to the source, interviewing Etty Allen herself: Henrietta "Etty" Allen said Wednesday that she concealed her upbringing as a Jew in North Africa from her children, including Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), until a conversation across the dining room table in late August. She said Allen asked her directly about his Jewish heritage when he was in Los Angeles for a fundraiser. "We sat across the table and he said, 'Mom,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Rally That (Almost) No One Covered

One of the most well-known philosophical questions known to popular culture asks whether a falling tree makes a noise if no one witnesses it. Now we can add whether a rally attracting tens of thousands of supporters for Israel outside the UN exists if no newspapers bother to report it. Fortunately, the New York Sun and Power Line manage to outdo the rest of the media in informing readers: As world leaders convened for the second day of the United Nations General Assembly, tens of thousands of supporters of Israel gathered across the street from United Nations headquarters to protest President Ahmadinejad of Iran and to call for the unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers kidnapped on July 12. The international and national leaders who stepped up to the podium also challenged the United Nations to take preventative action against the Iranian leader who threatens the Jewish people with genocide....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Palestinian Government To Recognize Israel?

MS-NBC is flashing a banner announcing that Mahmoud Abbas has stated that the new unity government of the Palestinian Authority will explicitly recognize Israel. So far, no wire service has a story, but I will keep my eyes open for fresh reporting on this subject. Stand by! .... UPDATE: Allahpundit sends the link to the AFP wire story. Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that any new Palestinian government would recognize Israel's right to exist: Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas told the UN General Assembly that any new Palestinian government would recognise Israel. "I would like to reaffirm that any future Palestinian government will commit to all the agreements that the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority have committed to," he said in a speech to the assembly. Abbas referred in particular to letters exchanged by Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, in 1993 which...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Deal Reached On Terror Interrogations

The White House reached agreement on language that will allow the CIA and military intelligence to interrogate captured high-value terrorists using techniques proven to work while complying with the Supreme Court's Hamdan mandate to bring all such detentions in compliance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The agreement allows Republicans to push through the new legislation as a united group and to bridge differences between the Senate and House. It caps a four-day effort to meet three dissenting Republicans in a compromise all could support: The White House and rebellious Senate Republicans announced agreement Thursday on rules for the interrogation and trial of suspects in the war on terror. President Bush urged Congress to put it into law before adjourning for the midterm elections. “I’m pleased to say that this agreement preserves the single most potent tool we have in protecting America and foiling terrorist attacks,” the president...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 22, 2006

New Boss, Same As The Old Boss?

When the Democrats had more confidence about winning control of the House, they openly discussed committee leadership positions in the new power structure. One of the most important chairs, Appropriations, would move from Jerry Lewis (R-CA) to John Murtha (D-PA), who also covets the Majority Leader position. Lewis is currently under FBI investigation for his dealings with lobbyists, and the Democrats wanted to make an argument regarding corruption as a reason to put people like Murtha in charge. However, Paul at TPM Muckraker demonstrates that the new boss would be much the same as the old boss: Lewis had former aides Jeffrey Shockey and Letitia White lobbying out of the D.C. firm Copeland Lowery, run by Lewis pal Bill Lowery. The firm's clients showered Lewis with donations, and he showered them right back with millions in contracts. Murtha has aides in at least two firms. Paul Magliochetti, a ten-year appropriations...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Armitage Threatened To Bomb Pakistan

Richard Armitage, it turns out, has a big mouth. We found out this month that he leaked the information on Valerie Plame's identity to Robert Novak and Bob Woodward, a fact that destroyed the myth that Bush allies leaked it to the pair as a vendetta against Joe Wilson. Now it turns out that Armitage told Pakistan that the US would bomb them "back to the Stone Age" if the former Taliban ally did not accede to American military demands in the aftermath of 9/11: The Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" after the September 11 attacks if the country did not cooperate with America's war on Afghanistan, it emerged yesterday. In an interview to be aired on CBS television this weekend Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, said the threat was delivered by the assistant secretary of state, Richard Armitage, in conversations with Pakistan's intelligence...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Why, Some Of My Best Friends Are Descended From Pigs And Monkeys!

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks that he has been misunderstood. He told the press covering the United Nations that he doesn't hate Jews at all, and that he actually respects them: Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is not an anti-Semite. "Jews are respected by everyone, by all human beings," he told a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The remarks come months after Mr Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map - and described the Holocaust as "myth". ... "No, I am not anti-Jew," he said. "I respect them very much." Of course! Why, many people openly argue for the destruction of Israel and call the Holocaust a conspiracy theory of Jews to control the world through guilt. Some of his best friends are Hebrew ... or would have been, if his country hadn't chased over half of them out after the 1979...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Edsall's Retirement

Hugh Hewitt has a fascinating interview posted with Thomas Edsall, who recently retired from the Washington Post and most recently held the position of senior political writer. Edsall has a new book in the stores, Building Red America, as well as new gigs at the Columbia School of Journalism and the center-left The New Republic. Edsall discusses politics and the media in a surprisingly forthright way, at one point asserting that Hugh underestimates the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in newsroom across America. I met Edsall once, although I'm certain he wouldn't remember it. When I went to Justice Sunday II in Nashville, Edsall covered the event for the Post, and the reporters and bloggers shared the same hall. Edsall was in front of me in the buffet line and I tried to engage him in a little conversation, but he clearly wasn't terribly interested in it. It wasn't snobbery;...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Even The British Can Diagnose Democratic Fecklessness

The fading fortunes of the Democratic Party in the run-up to the midterm elections have become common knowledge even thousands of miles away. Only a few weeks ago, Democrats confidently discussed the chair assignments in a House run by a Speaker Pelosi instead of a Speaker Hastert. Now that confidence has deflated, and even the Times of London can diagnose the bumblings of a national party with no real agenda: AFTER months of near-euphoria among Democrats and a growing certainty among pollsters that the party will win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in November’s midterm elections, doubts are beginning to creep in. ... To the dismay of Democrats, still scarred by the way that Mr Bush used the spectre of terrorism — and their perceived weakness on the issue — to win re-election in 2004 and gain seats for Republicans on Capitol Hill in 2002,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Columbia Disinvites Ahmadinejad

After his strange speech at the United Nations, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expected to take a brief speaking tour in the US to shore up his image. One of the venues for that effort was Columbia University, which invited the Iranian president to speak at its World Leaders Forum at the request of its dean of international and public affairs, Lisa Anderson. Yesterday, however, Columbia president Lee Bollinger canceled the invitation: In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bollinger said he canceled Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation because he couldn't be certain it would "reflect the academic values that are the hallmark of a University event such as our World Leaders Forum." He told Ms. Anderson that Mr. Ahmadinejad could speak at the school of international and public affairs, just not as a part of the university-wide leader's forum. Ms. Anderson's assistant cited an inability to arrange for proper security as the reason for...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Dishonesty In The Deficit

Rep. Jim Cooper writes today about the misleading government figures used by all parties when discussing the federal deficit. In today's Examiner, Cooper wants to know if voters understand the difference between $8.5 trillion and $46 trillion: Ask a congressman what the national debt is, and he will say $8.5 trillion. That’s a lot of money, but it completely ignores our two largest and most important government programs, Social Security and Medicare. If you include the promises made by those programs to workers who are already paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, the national debt jumps to $46 trillion. So which number is correct? Do we face a mountain, or a Mount Everest, of debt? If you believe that Congress was just kidding about your retirement or health care benefits, we owe $8.3 trillion. If you think America is serious, the total is $46 trillion. If you look closely at...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Citgo No Go?

Up until yesterday, I was unaware that Citgo is wholly owned by Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA. After Hugo Chavez' lunatic rantings about Bush being Satan and smelling sulphur at the UN podium at Turtle Bay this week, some CQ readers might find that fact ... interesting. (image created by The Man at GOP And The City) Mark Tapscott says that we might want to buy our gasoline elsewhere. My radio partner Mitch Berg notes that the Left wants us to buy all of our gas from Citgo. I'm not much on boycotts, especially with gas providers, because like any commodity, the market is fungible. I have to buy it from someone, and the supply follows the demand and prices follow both, so the only one who usually loses are the independent station owners. However, in this case, it's not a protest about gas prices in general but against a business owner...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Lounging At The LSC, Plus Other Heritage Posts

It's been such a busy week here at CQ, I forgot to highlight some of the Heritage Foundation blogging I've been doing. Today's post talks about the never-ending requests for cash coming from the Legal Services Corporation, the federal agency that provides legal assistance to low-income Americans who cannot otherwise afford it. Now that is an honorable mandate for any organization, although one can certainly debate whether the federal government should provide it instead of private foundations. (This is separate from public defenders, which the government must and should provide for those accused of criminal activity.) However, LSC has been less than honorable in its efforts to carry out that mandate. Instead of using their budget for representation, they've spent it on tony Georgetown digs, and managed to get screwed on the lease arrangement -- to the tune of at least $1.5 million. Their large and comfortable space has plenty...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Let's Give It A Rest

Earlier today, Fox News released a clip from an upcoming interview with Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday. Chris Wallace taped the interview this week, discussing Clinton's new global initiatives, but also asked him about the controversy arising from the ABC movie, "The Path to 9/11". As Hot Air reported earlier, Clinton's angrily responded to the suggestion that he had done little to take out Osama bin Laden in the years of his presidency by noting that the "right-wingers" (as he called them) hadn't done anything in the eight months prior to 9/11. "I failed, but I tried," he fumed at Wallace. We can argue for years about how much he tried, and for what reasons. In fact, we have -- for five years -- and it's time to give it a rest. The rise of Islamofascism didn't occur just on Clinton's watch, and his presidency was not the only...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 23, 2006

Typhoid Osama? Well, Maybe

A leak from French intelligence hit the wires late last night and spread rapidly around the world. The information: Osama bin Laden died in a cave of typhoid last month. However, questions about the reliability of that intel have already prompted the French to admit that they have no confirmation of Osama's death: France said a report that Osama bin Laden died this month of typhoid was unconfirmed, and launched an inquiry into how a preliminary intelligence brief detailing the assertion was leaked. President Jacques Chirac stressed to journalists that "this information is in no way confirmed." He added Saturday that he was "surprised" that the French newspaper l'Est Republicain had published an excerpt from a French secret service note relaying information from Saudi Arabia's intelligence service. ... The note by the DGSE service, dated September 21 and published Saturday by l'Est Republicain, stated that Saudi intelligence officials "are now...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

We'd Like Faith-Based Programming, Easy On God, Please

Christian families have made the "Veggie Tales" video series very popular with young children, with their ebullient mix of Biblical stories and the light, humorous touch of such characters as Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. We bought a couple of these videos for the Little Admiral, and we enjoy watching them with her, especially since the videos emphasize the message that God loves us all. The sales of the videos attracted the eye of NBC programmers, who recently signed the series' creators to use the characters into a cartoon on the network. However, NBC seems a little confused about what made the series popular in the first place. CNN reported last night that network executives have pressured the producers to tone down the religious nature of Veggie Tales: Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber always had a moral message in their long-running "VeggieTales" series, a collection of...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Abbas: Back To Zero On Unity Government

Mahmoud Abbas will have to wipe the egg off of his face after his stunning announcement at the UN proved false. He now says that all efforts to form a unity government for the Palestinian Authority have returned to the drawing board when Ismail Haniyeh and the rest of Hamas refused to join if they had to recognize Israel's right to exist (h/t CQ reader Cynic): Efforts to form a Palestinian government acceptable to the West have gone "back to zero," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday, a day after Hamas said a coalition government that recognizes Israel is unacceptable. The Islamic militant group has ruled alone since March, but this month agreed to share power with Abbas' moderate Fatah Party in hopes of ending a crippling international aid boycott of the Palestinian Authority. The Hamas-Fatah coalition deal sidestepped recognition of Israel. Instead, it said the government would seek to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

NARN On The Air

I forgot to post this , but we are on the air now at AM 1280 The Patriot. Mitch and I will go from 1-3 pm CT, while King and Mike will go from 3-5. Listen to the Internet stream if you're outside the Twin Cities, and call us at 651-289-4488 to join the conversation! UPDATE: If you want to keep an eye out for conservative activists and their latest efforts, La Shawn Barber is live-blogging the Values Voters Summit....

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

When Irish Eyes Are Blinking In Disbelief

After the drubbing Notre Dame took from Michigan at home last week, we wondered how the Irish would respond on the road against Michigan State tonight. For the first half, the answer was: more of the same. The Irish could not move the ball and the smaller defense could not stop the Spartan offense. Michigan State put up 17 in the first quarter while the Irish stalled repeatedly, and had the same lead at halftime when Brady Quinn began to find his rhythm again, 31-14. However, Charlie Weis sent his troops back onto the field with something ringing in their ears, and from the way the Irish played in the second half, I doubt it was Have A Nice Day. Notre Dame suddenly started playing ferocious defense and Quinn's offense gained real traction. After trading touchdowns in the third quarter, the Irish scored 19 unanswered points in the fourth, one...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 24, 2006

Remembering Sgt. Paul Smith

Derek Brigham of Freedom Dogs has arranged for a Minnesota Organization of Bloggers blogburst in memory of Sgt. Paul Smith, the first Medal of Honor recipient in the global war on terror. I wrote about Sgt, Smith when his heroism in battle first got him nominated for the posthumous award in May 2004, and again earlier this year for Memorial Day. Today is Sgt. Smith's birthday, and thanks to his actions in protecting his men, more than 100 of them will see their next birthdays. Here again is the story of Sgt. Paul Smith's heroic actions: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith United States Army For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Iraq As Switzerland?

Sunni legislators in Iraq's National Assembly have agreed to allow debate on a proposal to restructure Iraq into three semi-autonomous cantons along federalist principles, a proposal that they have opposed since the formation of the new republic in 2003. The other factions agreed to set up a constitutional amendment committee in order to get the Sunnis to retreat on federalism: Iraq's fractious ethnic and religious parliamentary groups agreed Sunday to open debate on a contentious Shiite-proposed draft legislation that will allow the creation of federal regions in Iraq, politicians said. ... The deal opens the way for Iraq's Shiites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds to move ahead politically and break a two-week political deadlock that threatened to further sour relations between the communities. If left unresolved, the deadlock could have further shaken Iraq's fragile democracy and led to more sectarian violence. The federalism bill calls for setting up a system to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

NIE: Ending 12-Year Iraqi Quagmire Made Terrorism Worse

The new National Intelligence Estimate will report that the Iraq War has amplified Islamist movements and created a new generation of jihadists, according to the New York Times, which saw an advance copy of the summary and spoke to several sources involved in its creation. (The Washington Post also reports on it here.) Mark Mazetti explains how the various intelligence agencies have concluded that our efforts to topple Saddam have inspired even more radicalism, but strangely absent from this report is how Islamist expansion managed to exponentially grow in the twelve years that we attempted to resolve the Iraq quagmire peacefully: A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks. The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The October Surprise Meme Arises Again

At one time, paranoid conspiracists comprised only the lunatic fringe of American politics. Yesterday, former Senator Gary Hart reminded us of why Democrats have managed to lose three straight elections that they should have won by announcing that the Bush administration would attack Iran in order to win the midterm elections: It should come as no surprise if the Bush Administration undertakes a preemptive war against Iran sometime before the November election. Were these more normal times, this would be a stunning possibility, quickly dismissed by thoughtful people as dangerous, unprovoked, and out of keeping with our national character. But we do not live in normal times. And we do not have a government much concerned with our national character. If anything, our current Administration is out to remake our national character into something it has never been. Hart has it exactly backwards: we have an opposition party that has...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 25, 2006

Palestinian Situation Crumbling

Mahmoud Abbas says he will try once more to get Hamas into a unity government that will abide by the agreements signed with Israel, but several militias threatened open rebellion to any government that offers official recognition of Israel. The developments leave the Palestinian Authority with almost no mandate and no chance to convince the West to restart aid to the territories: Four Palestinian armed groups on Sunday threatened to target any Palestinian government that recognizes Israel's right to exist and attacked Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for "succumbing" to US pressure. The latest threat came as Abbas was preparing to travel to the Gaza Strip for another round of talks with PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh over the formation of a joint Hamas-Fatah government. Abbas is demanding that the political program of the proposed government recognize Israel and honor all previous agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel. Hamas...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

McCain Can't Keep His Mouth Shut

During the negotiations over the legislation intended to authorize CIA detentions and interrogations of terrorists, officials in all agencies and in Congress took pains to avoid specifying the kinds of techniques approved or forbidden by the competing proposals. The CIA and the White House explicitly told reporters that revealing those techniques could allow terrorists to prepare for future interrogations. So it probably surprised everyone when John McCain decided to reveal the limits within the compromise legislation on national television yesterday: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named three measures that he said would no longer be allowed under a provision barring techniques that cause serious mental or physical suffering by U.S. detainees: extreme sleep deprivation, forced hypothermia and "waterboarding," which simulates drowning. He also said other "extreme measures" would be banned. McCain's remarks were unusual because public officials involved in the lengthy public debate about U.S. interrogation practices have rarely made specific...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

UNIFIL Bigger But Just As Ineffective

The expanded UNIFIL force tasked to implement UN Security Council resolution 1701 has almost no mandate to do so and has received no leadership from the UN, the New York Times reports this morning. The force commander believes that he can do nothing unless authorized by the Lebanese Army -- and so nothing they do: One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can. They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Pope Benedict Demands Reciprocity

Pope Benedict XVI met with envoys from several Muslim nations today, greeting them warmly and emphasizing the need for dialogue between the faiths. He did not offer another apology for his remarks at Regensburg two weeks ago, but he did remind the envoys that they have not fulfilled their responsibilities in ensuring freedom of religious practice for Christians: Pope Benedict XVI told Muslim diplomats Monday that ''our future'' depends on dialogue between Christians and Muslims, an attempt to ease relations strained by his recent remarks about Islam and violence. The pontiff quoted from his predecessor, John Paul II, who had close relations with the Muslim world, when he described the need for ''reciprocity in all fields,'' including religious freedom. Benedict spoke in French to a roomful of diplomats from 21 countries and the Arab League in his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills near Rome. After his...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Jules Crittendon: AP Plays For The Other Side

Jules Crittendon, the excellent Boston Herald columnist, wrote a fiery piece yesterday about the AP and its engagement with terrorists. Crittendon wonders when the AP decided to become a propaganda shill for al-Qaeda and the Islamists and laments the betrayal of its long and lustrous history in pioneering objectivity in journalism: The AP was, in fact, a pioneer in balanced coverage. The concept was born with the AP in 1848 and tempered in the Civil War. The AP served newspapers of different stripes and had to keep politics out of it. ... I look at the AP copy I see nightly. The president of the United States gives a speech. The AP grants him a couple of fragmentary quotes before allowing his failed 2004 challenger and other opponents several full paragraphs to denounce him. There is the bizarre work of Charles J. Hanley, an AP apologist for Saddam Hussein. He...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

What's On My Desk (At The Moment)

I have a number of books piling up on my desk these days, begging to be read. I'm in the middle of Conservatives Betrayed by Richard Viguerie, but I'm taking a long time finishing it due to other projects. I'm hoping to finish it soon and then contact the author for a brief chat on behalf of CQ readers. It's a good read, and I'd recommend it to disaffected conservatives, although I'm not in complete agreement with his conclusions. I just received Max Boot's new book, War Made New, this weekend. Max is a favorite columnist and a CQ reader, so I hear. I'm looking forward to reading the history of technology in warfare and the impact it's had on world history. It focuses on 1500 forward, so I presume the use of the longbow as the first effective surface-to-surface missile attack may not be covered. Andrew Sullivan's The Conservative...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

'A Rather Hyperactive Imagination'

The campaign for Senate in Virginia has descended into one of the most mud-filled dirty contests in recent history. Not since the nomination of Clarence Thomas has a political campaign stooped as low as have the supporters of Jim Webb against incumbent George Allen. Ken Shelton, one of Allen's long-time critics and once a college-football teammate of Allen, suddenly recalled -- after several years of opposing Allen politically -- that Allen regularly used a particularly vile racial epithet during his years at the University of Virginia: "Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then." A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Line-Item Veto Presser To Pressure The Senate

Now that we have won major battles on the federal spending database and the new House rules on identifying earmarkers, we still have one more effort to shepherd to victory. The group Citizens Against Government Waste will hold a press conference this week in order to put pressure on the Senate to pass the line-item veto bill passed by the House last June. The Senate version, S.2381, has been stalled since May, and with the legislative session winding down, time may start running out for the new line-item veto. I wrote about this for the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog today. Some feel the new approach taken by the line-item veto is too weak to overcome all of the excessive spending in Congress, but I argue that even a little bit helps: The question about the line-item veto isn’t whether it would do damage to the Constitution, it’s whether it would...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 26, 2006

Swift Program Auditor Found No Abuses

The independent auditing company hired by the government to review the intel program that gathered data from the Swift banking concern found no abuses. The New York Times buried the lede at the seventh paragraph -- the end of the seventh paragraph -- in a story that focuses on European complaints about the legality of the program even while they decline to end it: The program, started by the Bush administration weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, allows analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency and other American intelligence agencies to search for possible terrorist financing activity among millions of largely international financial transactions that are processed by a banking cooperative known as Swift that is based in Belgium. The European Union panel will not call for the program to be stopped, officials said. But it is expected to recommend that additional safeguards be put in place to check how financial...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Brits Take Out Osama Protege

Omar al-Farouq had quite an adventurous career as an al-Qaeda terrorist. He had joined AQ in the heady days of the early 1990s, training in Aghanistan and eventually rising in the organization until Osama bin Laden handpicked him to run the AQ network in Southeast Asia. Captured by the Americans in 2002, he escaped last year and fulfilled American expectations by running to Iraq. The adventure came to an end yesterday in Basra: BRITISH troops shot dead one of al-Qaeda’s most elusive fugitives yesterday after his extraordinary flight from a US prison in Afghanistan to a luxury villa in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Omar al-Farouk, 35, was handpicked by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaeda’s network in South-East Asia and was captured in June 2002, weeks before he allegedly planned to bomb eight American embassies across the region. The Kuwaiti-born terror suspect was groomed at an Afghan camp...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Taliban Assassinates Womens-Rights Campaigner

Taliban assassins shot and killed one of Afghanistan's leading reformers for womens' rights , Safia Ama Jan. It isn't as if Jan was sunbathing at the time, either -- they shot her through her burka on her way to her job as Kandahar's Womens' Affairs director: Suspected Taliban gunmen shot dead a leading women's rights campaigner in Kandahar yesterday in the latest assassination of a government official in the restive southern provinces. Women's Affairs director, Safia Ama Jan, was killed on the city outskirts as she left for work yesterday morning. The assailants shot her four times in the head, through a burka, before fleeing. Ms Ama Jan, 56, has been an advocate for women's rights in Kandahar, the former Taliban headquarters, since the fundamentalists were ousted five years ago. Her murder appeared to mark a return to a strategy of intimidation and assassination after the defeat of Taliban fighters...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Time To Release The NIE

The National Intelligence Estimate leak to the New York Times has given the Democrats yet another election-time club with which to beat Republicans, the Washington Post reports. The selective quotes have made their way into campaign speeches criticizing the Iraq War, and they hope to use them to maximum effect in their fading hopes of capturing either chamber of Congress: A classified National Intelligence Estimate, completed in April but disclosed in news reports over the weekend, offers the U.S. intelligence community's first formal evaluation of global trends in terrorism since the April 2003 invasion of Iraq. U.S. officials said the report concludes that the Iraq war has fueled the growth of Islamic extremism and terror groups, but White House officials responded that the reports reflected a selective and distorted interpretation of the study. Democratic lawmakers said the NIE finding undermines Bush's frequent claim that the toppling of Saddam Hussein's government...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Secret Suspenders

Iran has agreed in principle to suspend its uranium-enrichment program while negotiating with the West over the future of their nuclear program, but there's a new catch. According to the Washington Times, Iran has insisted that the suspension be kept secret: Iran is close to an agreement that would include a suspension of uranium enrichment but wants the deal to include a provision that the temporary halt be kept secret, according to Bush administration officials. ... Many U.S. officials are opposing the agreement as a further concession to Iran, which continues to defy a United Nations' call for a complete halt to uranium enrichment. A Security Council resolution had given Iran until Aug. 31 to stop its enrichment program or face the imposition of international sanctions. Tehran ignored the deadline, but diplomacy has continued. Some in the State Department are supporting the deal, which they view as a step toward...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Rice Strikes Back

Condoleezza Rice stepped out of character for just a moment yesterday and responded forcefully to allegations Bill Clinton made during his Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace. The New York Post reports that the Secretary of State allowed herself a rare moment of anger when defending herself against Clinton's attacks on the Bush administration: Rice hammered Clinton, who leveled his charges in a contentious weekend interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News Channel, for his claims that the Bush administration "did not try" to kill Osama bin Laden in the eight months they controlled the White House before the Sept. 11 attacks. "The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false - and I think the 9/11 commission understood that," Rice said during a wide-ranging meeting with Post editors and reporters. "What we did in the eight months was...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Pam Wolf For State Senate

I will be spending the evening supporting Pam Wolf for the Minnesota State Senate. The event starts at 7 pm at Blainbrook Hall, 12000 Highway 65, in Blaine, where I will be joined by David Strom from the Taxpayer's Leage of Minnesota, one of my good friends. Pam's a terrific candidate and a fine Minnesotan, a teacher who wants to teach a little fiscal discipline to the politicians in Saint Paul. I was supposed to spend an afternoon golfing at a fundraiser this summer -- and if you've ever seen me play, you know it would take all afternoon and most of the evening. Unfortunately, my back injury prevented me from joining Pam like I did in 2004, but it also prevented me from demonstrating why a small ball can ruin a day at the park. I swapped that appearance with tonight's, so I hope you can join us to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Deer In The Headlights

The stories accusing George Allen of using the N-word continue to look stranger and stranger. Yesterday's revelation that Larry Sabato, Virginia's most well-known political scientist, joined another former Allen classmate, Christopher Taylor, in publicly accusing Allen of using the racial epithet. However, these sourcings have also begun to look rather peculiar. Now Sabato appears to be backing away from his first-person claim, telling Chris Matthews that he was relaying information from other sources and declining to identify them: Sabato, who made his comments during an interview on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" program on MSNBC, later declined to specifically identify his sources. "My sources are former classmates who came to me with stories that matched up," Sabato said late Monday night. "I never solicited them. They came to me during the past few months." Initially, Sabato's claims suggested that Allen used the word around Sabato himself, but the two never spent any...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Comment Policy Change (Updated And Bumped)

Due to some complaints I have received over the past few weeks, I am making a small change to the comment policy. Commenters will have a one-hour restriction on posts, which means that after a comment from a specific IP address gets accepted, it will take one hour before another comment from that same IP address will be accepted. I'm hoping that this will reduce some of the "comment bombing" seen recently on some threads, where one person posts three or four lengthy remarks within a few minutes of each other. Eliminating that will, I hope, make the threads easier to read and produce a better level of debate. I hope this poses little inconvenience for CQ readers and addresses everyone's concerns in a fair and equitable manner. We've got the best comment threads in the blogosphere, I think, and I want to make sure they stay that way. UPDATE:...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 27, 2006

The Washington Post Fact-Checks A Useless Debate

Last week I wrote about the futility of the debate about who did what regarding terrorism before 9/11. All sides have once again dragged out their shibboleths all over again, and once again the debate has done nothing to make the nation safer -- but it has at least prompted a fact-checking exercise at the Washington Post. Granted, it comes at the end of the article, but at least someone bothered to do it in a rational manner: And Jay Carson, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, rejected Rice's contention: "Every single fact that President Clinton stated in his interview is backed up by the historical record -- including the 9/11 commission report. Everything President Clinton said was flatly correct." Some of Clinton's statements on Fox have drawn scrutiny. He said that after the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, "I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Fat Lady Sings For Berlin Opera That Depicts Mohammed

How does the West lose the war against radical Islamists? One small surrender at a time. The lastest retreat comes from Germany's Deutsche Oper Berlin, which cancelled a performance of a Mozart opera due to its depiction of the decapitated heads of Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. Guess which one caused the furor (via The Moderate Voice): The Deutsche Oper Berlin yesterday said it had decided "with great regret" to cancel a planned production of Mozart's Idomeneo after city security officials warned of an "incalculable risk" because of scenes dealing with Islam, as well as other religions. Kirsten Harms, the director of the Deutsche Oper, said that the Berlin state police had warned of a possible - but not certain - threat and that she decided it would be in the best interest of the safety of the opera house, its employees and patrons to cancel the production. After its premiere...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Real NIE Revelations

The Bush administration's decision to declassify the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday revealed two truths about politics and the intelligence community, neither of which appear very complimentary. First, the Democrats allowed themselves to get outfoxed on national security yet again by allowing themselves to get hysterical and seriously misrepresent the conclusions of the NIE. As the Washington Post reports, Democrats made a lot of extraordinary claims about the NIE, which the report itself doesn't support: President Bush took the extraordinary step of releasing portions of the classified report, which was completed in April, to counter assertions made after information from the document was leaked to media outlets over the weekend. Reports based on those leaks said the report blames the war in Iraq for worsening the global terrorist threat -- an interpretation that the administration calls a distortion of its contents. Speaking at a White House news conference...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Russia Rejects Putin Power Extension

In a setback to a movement attempting to get Vladimir Putin a de facto lifetime term as the ruler of Russia, its top election authority has barred a referendum eliminating term limits for the presidency. This appears to put an end to the draft-Putin efforts started by those who appreciate Putin's rollback of democracy: Russia's top election authority on Wednesday threw out a call for a people's poll that would clear the way for President Vladimir Putin to stay on in power, making it more likely he will step down as he plans in 2008. Putin has said repeatedly he will abide by the constitution that restricts a head of state to serving two consecutive four-year terms in power at any one time, and go in 2008. But this has not stopped supporters from urging the 53-year-old Putin to stay on and in the latest such move a group from...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The View From The Western Street

Max Boot turns the tables on a hackneyed concept that has bedeviled the West whenever discussing strategies to fight terror. Instead of writing another warning about the "Arab street", Boot warns Muslims about their relative silence in the age of Islamist terrorism and its effect on the "Western street". He writes in the Los Angeles Times that unless moderate Muslims start taking a much more active role against Islamism, the West will have no choice but to conclude that Islam is incompatible with peace: EVER SINCE 9/11, a dark view of Islam has been gaining currency on what might be called the Western street. This view holds that, contrary to the protestations of our political leaders — who claim that acts of terrorism are being carried out by a minority of extremists — the real problem lies with Islam itself. In this interpretation, Islam is not a religion of peace...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Egypt Loses Patience With Hamas

Egypt sent a "strongly-worded letter" to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal after seeing its attempts to resolve the Gaza crisis come to naught. The letter demands that Mashaal release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and Hamas to form a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas: Egypt has demanded that Hamas immediately release kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit to avoid a worsening crisis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials and Arab diplomats said. The Egyptian demand came in a "strongly worded letter" from Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, the officials said Tuesday. The letter also demanded Hamas cooperate fully with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in forming a national unity government, a step that has been stalled by the Hamas' refusal to form an administration that recognizes Israel. The message reflected increasing impatience with Hamas by Egypt, which has been mediating for months, trying...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Party Time In The Twin Cities!

I decided to do a little lunch-time blogging, which I normally avoid these days, and it turns out I picked the right moment for it. The AP reports that the Republican Party has selected the Twin Cities for its 2008 national convention: The four-day event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild. By choosing the Twin Cities for 2008, the GOP will ensure plenty of news converge in media markets in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa _ all battleground states in the 2004 election and ones expected to be competitive in the next presidential race. Minnesota had been seen by some as an unlikely host, with just 10 electoral votes and the nation's longest streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won the state 51 percent to 48 percent. The last Republican to...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Why Doesn't Page Six Take A Big Whiff Itself?

Let's make one point clear at the beginning of this post: I cannot stand Keith Olbermann. I couldn't stand his pretentious, egotistical sportscasting when I first saw him in Los Angeles, and thought he only improved marginally at ESPN's SportsCenter. He has long since jumped the shark regarding reason and rationality and uses his MS-NBC gig as a venting mechanism for both his ego and his hatreds. Unless one partakes of the most poisonous political Kool-Aid, he's unwatchable. All that being said, Olbermann is human, and a feigned terrorist attack on him goes waaaaaay beyond the pale. As if that wasn't bad enough, the New York Post's Page Six belittles him for checking with a doctor to be sure (emphases mine): MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 28, 2006

House Sends Detainee Bill To Senate

The controversial legislation that establishes military tribunals and the rules for trying captured terrorists passed the House yesterday afternoon, on a somewhat bipartisan vote. It now heads to the Senate for debate, but so far it appears to have enough support to pass: The House this afternoon approved a new approach to interrogating and trying terror suspects and the Senate opened debate on the legislation, as Congress sought to create a system that could wring information from terrorists and bring them to justice in a way that meets court scrutiny. Despite serious objections from some Democrats and a few Republicans, the legislation appeared headed to approval, delivering Republicans and President Bush one of the accomplishments on national security they hoped to achieve before the election. The bill passed the House by a vote of 253 to 168. “The time to act is now,” said Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

New Offensive Brewing In Gaza

The London Telegraph reports that Palestinian militants have acquired tons of explosives and perhaps even advanced missiles, preparing for a showdown with the IDF they expect to come if Gilad Shalit is not freed soon. The terrorists want to emulate Hezbollah's attack against the Israelis and have upgraded their weapons systems with that in mind: Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip are rearming and retraining for an imminent military showdown with the Israeli army, intelligence sources disclosed yesterday. Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel's intelligence service Shin Bet, said 19 tons of explosives had been smuggled into Gaza in the past year. Other senior Israeli officials indicated that Palestinian fighters were acquiring more effective weapons. ... Brigadier General Shalom Harari, a military intelligence officer, said yesterday that Israeli forces might "go into Gaza in a big way" unless Cpl Shalit is freed. Accusing Iran of being behind the new weapons...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Uptick For George Allen

Despite the mudslinging in the Virginia Senate race, or perhaps because of it, George Allen actually gained traction against his challenger Jim Webb in the latest Survey USA polling. Real Clear Politics' John McIntyre notes that Allen now leads Webb by five points, 49-44, a slight uptick from two weeks ago (48-45) and two weeks before that. It shows that Virginia voters have more sophistication than the perpetrators of the smear campaign against Allen calculated. I'll continue to keep an eye on developments in the Allen/Webb campaign, but hopefully this will convince the mudslingers that they're wasting their time. UPDATE: I managed to miss this Washington Post article when I first posted this, but this seems likely to end the entire N-word mudslinging: Webb's comments to the Times-Dispatch prompted Allen campaign officials to direct a reporter to Dan Cragg, a former acquaintance of Webb's, who said Webb used the word...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

As A General, He Makes A Passable Cleric

Moqtada al-Sadr has never shown himself to be much of a military genius. One of his first forays into the war in Iraq got scathing reviews from John Burns in April 2004, who got an unplanned visit with his forces. Now Sabrina Tavernise reports for the New York Times that Sadr has lost command over a significant portion of his Mahdi Army and can no longer impose his discipline on it: The radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has lost control of portions of his Mahdi Army militia that are splintering off into freelance death squads and criminal gangs, a senior coalition intelligence official said Wednesday. The question of how tightly Mr. Sadr holds the militia, one of the largest armed groups in Iraq, is of critical importance to American and Iraqi officials. Seeking to ease the sectarian violence raging across the country, they have pressed him to join the political...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Big Apple Becomes The Recipe Police

Everyone understands by now that trans-fatty acids create an avoidable health risk for people who ingest them on a regular basis. It causes heart disease, among other problems, and the Food and Drug Administration acted to ensure that Americans could track the amount of trans fats in their food by requiring manufacturers to reveal the amounts of trans fats on labels. That requirement pressured the manufacturers to find ways to reduce trans fats in their products, fearful of the market reaction when consumers became more informed of the composition of the food. However, New York City decided that consumers and food preparers couldn't be trusted to make their own decisions. The health board imposed trans-fat limits on restaurants in the Big Apple, transforming the debate from health to politics: City health officials maintained on Tuesday that they could not have suggested more strongly a year ago that restaurants voluntarily cut...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

'Is That Too Much To Ask?'

My fellow Examiner Blog-boarder Lorie Byrd pens a critique of the media in its recent coverage of war-related stories. She points out examples of bias and incompetent reporting in the stories about the Clinton-Wallace interview and the NIE release, and wonders why reporters cannot perform simple research when reaching unsupported conclusions: The first story that got a lot of attention this week was the Fox News Sunday interview with Bill Clinton. News anchor Chris Wallace asked Clinton the question, “Why didn’t you do more to put bin Laden and al-Qaida out of business when you were president?” For that, he was attacked by a visibly angry, finger-pointing Clinton, and later by some on the left, for conducting a “conservative hit job.” It is understandable that the theatrics of the interview got lots of attention, although none of the networks showed the most unhinged clips. What was focused on by few,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Twin Cities Nod A Bipartisan Win

How did the Twin Cities land the Republican National Convention for 2008? It took a bipartisan effort that predicated itself on a gentleman's agreement: all Minnesota politicians would support bids for both conventions, and whichever party chose first would get unanimous support. The combination worked better than anyone could have hoped, as the Twin Cities made both short lists. However, in the end, Howard Dean's inability to make a decision cost the Democrats the spot: On an October day last year, Tom Mason, who served as Gov. Tim Pawlenty's chief of staff, finished breakfast at St. Paul's Downtowner with Pawlenty and visiting Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman and offered Mehlman a lift. While he drove, Mason listened as Mehlman raved about Minnesota's beauty, its fall weather and its political value as a swing state and thought "Gee, we might have a shot at long last." Mason's next call was...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Join The Jihad, Take The Dirt Nap

The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, released an audiotape that tries to recruit more radical Muslims to the Iraqi jihad. In doing so, Zarqawi's replacement shows why the US considers Iraq a central ground for the war on terror and how effective our effort there has been against the terrorists. Unbidden and apparently thinking it an attraction, Masri told his followers that the US-led Coalition has killed over 4,000 terrorists in Iraq: Al-Qaida in Iraq's leader, in a chilling audiotape released Thursday, called for nuclear scientists to join his group's holy war and urged insurgents to kidnap Westerners so they could be traded for a blind Egyptian sheik who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison. The fugitive terror chief said experts in the fields of "chemistry, physics, electronics, media and all other sciences — especially nuclear scientists and explosives experts" should join his group's...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Senate Approves Detainee Bill By Wide Margin

The Senate got bipartisan support for the passage of the White House's comprehensive terrorist prosecution bill this evening, putting an emphatic stamp on a victory for the Bush administration. In the end, the bill garnered 65 votes and Bill Frist fought off attempts to bury the bill in amendments: The Senate on Thursday endorsed President Bush's plans to prosecute and interrogate terror suspects, all but sealing congressional approval for legislation that Republicans intend to use on the campaign trail to assert their toughness on terrorism. The 65-34 vote means the bill could reach the president's desk by week's end. The House passed nearly identical legislation on Wednesday and was expected to approve the Senate bill on Friday, sending it on to the White House. The bill would create military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects. It also would prohibit blatant abuses of detainees but grant the president flexibility to decide what...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 29, 2006

Musharraf Deal In Waziristan Prompting More Attacks

The deal between Pervez Musharraf and the tribal leaders of Waziristan looks more and more like a surrender rather than a partnership against terror. The British newspaper The Guardian reports that American military sources indicate that attacks from Islamists in the border regions have more than doubled since the deal was announced: Taliban attacks along Afghanistan's southeastern border have more than doubled in the three weeks since a controversial deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban militants, the US military said yesterday. Pakistan's military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, had promised the agreement with militants in North Waziristan would help to bring peace to Afghanistan. But early indications suggest the pact is having the opposite effect, creating a safe haven for the Taliban to regroup and launch fresh cross-border offensives against western and Afghan troops. A US military spokesman, Colonel John Paradis, said US soldiers had reported a "twofold, in some cases threefold" increase...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

And Some People Think A Fence Is Bad

The Greeks have reportedly found a new method to deal with their illegal immigration problem, according to Der Spiegel. When interdicting boats that carry illegal immigrants on the Aegean, the Greek Coast Guard simply returns them to the sea -- but minus their boats. According to Turkish authorities, six people drowned and three remain missing when the Greeks threw 40 illegals into the water: Greek authorities have denied knowledge of an alleged incident in which Greek officials threw illegal immigrants into the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey. On Tuesday morning, some 31 illegals were plucked out of the sea near the Turkish coastal city of Izmir. They claimed that the Greek Coast Guard had thrown them into the water. They did so, said one survivor, "without even asking if we could swim," according to Turkey's state-owned Anatolia news agency. Six people have reportedly drowned; three are missing. Greek...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Columbia Dean Abruptly Leaves After Invite Cancellation

The Dean of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University has abruptly left her position after her invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got cancelled by University president Lee Bollinger. Lisa Anderson resigned from her position, and the big question on campus is if Bollinger's intervention caused it or whether the exposure of her politics drove the decision: The big question at Columbia University this week is whether the tensions between President Lee Bollinger and the dean of the School of International and Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, led Ms. Anderson to step down. The press office at the university confirmed yesterday that the dean, who has come under criticism for siding with anti-Israel factions on campus and for taking a junket to Saudi Arabia paid for by the regime in Riyadh, is leaving the post she has held for 10 years. Professors at SIPA said Ms. Anderson circulated an e-mail message at...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Did The Washington Post Miss Its Own Story Yesterday?

The Washington Post editorial board attempts to recap the mudslinging in the George Allen-James Webb race for Allen's Senate seat, but while announcing that it considers allegations of decades-old use of racial epithets germane, it fails to account for all of the accusations in the contest. This seems rather odd, since the Post slams Allen for his alleged use of the N-word but never mentions the allegations reported yesterday about Webb's use of it and purported race-based assaults on Watts residents. What's odd about that? That story got reported ... by the Washington Post: DID REPUBLICAN Sen. George Allen use racial slurs years ago? Did his Democratic challenger, James Webb? Does it matter, in a race between two candidates with long public records and substantial differences on Iraq, health care, the economy and other critical issues? Yes, it does matter. Mr. Allen said he does not recall having used what...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Stabenow In Trouble? Maybe

The Democrats have salivated over the historic trend of midterms, hoping to gain enough seats in both chambers of Congress to wrest control away from the Republicans. However, a series of polls shows that their hopes in the Senate may come to naught as they may prove unable to hold the seats they already have. The latest to show weakness is Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, where anti-incumbent fervor and a lackluster record have threatened her first-term seat: The fever among voters to throw incumbents out of office -- furiously stoked by Democrats in Washington -- might backfire in this state, where Republicans are riding a surge of voter discontent. With Democrats holding both Senate seats and the governor's mansion, Michigan is suffering the worst economy of any state in the nation. The state's unemployment rate is nearly twice the national average of 4.7 percent, and the auto industry is losing...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Oberstar Fails The Pork Test

The House has considered a new Coast Guard appropriation (HR 5681), but they did so under a suspension of the rules. This parliamentary manuever allows Representatives to undermine the new rule just created that forces them to identify their earmarks in the Congressional Record. Sure enough, sources on the Hill tells me that some shenanigans occurred with the Coast Guard Authorization Act, and section 405 confirms it. The addition to HR 5681 authorizes a multimillion-dollar research program at the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a joint project of the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The bill requires Congress to fund a study for the following purposes: (K) identify ways to improve the integration of the Great Lakes marine transportation system into the national transportation system; (L) examine the potential of expanded operations on the Great Lakes marine transportation system; (M) identify ways to include intelligent transportation applications into the Great...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Has Frist Made The Case For 2008?

Senator Bill Frist will retire from Congress at the end of the year, and he's widely rumored to be considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. Last year, Frist had plenty of critics, including me, for failing to get judicial nominations or much of the original agenda through the Senate. Now, however, Frist appears to be firing on all cylinders. He has pushed through the detainee bill, a border barrier, and the on-line federal budget database, among other accomplishments. Some of these bills appeared to have little chance of avoiding filibusters and delaying tactics, but the tall Tennessean worked some magic, or twisted some arms, to get real accomplishments out of this session. Here's a question for CQ readers: has Frist's valediction made the case for a 2008 run at the Presidency?...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

The Incredible Lamery At Wonkette

It's almost too pathetic to post a response, but the Wonkette benchwarmers really have no clue about weblogs, photoshops, or criticism -- and their latest attack on Michelle Malkin exposes them as wanna-bes. Michelle penned a cultural critique about the potential effect of trashy chic on young girls, as exemplified by Bratz dolls and the recent restyling of Charlotte Church. Rather than actually responding with any intellectual criticism, Wonkette instead posted a picture that supposedly depicts Michelle in a bikini in 1992 -- as if that has anything to do with her critique of Charlotte Church. As if that wasn't bad enough, they failed to realize that the picture was a pretty obvious photoshop. Note for instance the size of Michelle's head in proportion to the rest of the body: Now, I've met Michelle Malkin and spent time at her house. In fact, I've seen her standing next to a...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Foley's Folly (Updated)

Sometimes people say that politics make them feel unclean, but this story will amplify that exponentially. Rep. Mark Foley, a Republican from Florida with an almost-assured re-election bid, has resigned from Congress after harrassing a teen-age intern. His abrupt departure leaves his organization bereft of its chair -- the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children: Saying he was "deeply sorry," Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from Congress today, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18. A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. ... They say he used the screen name Maf54 on these messages provided to ABC News. Maf54: You in your boxers, too? Teen: Nope, just...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

September 30, 2006

Border Fence Passes Senate

In the end, the border fence bill passed the Senate by a wide margin, 80-19, belying the canard that the only option for any border security to get through Congress was through comprehensive immigration reform. Facing the midterm elections, eighty Senators could not find any excuse with which to explain why America continues to leave our southern border practically undefended in a time of war: The Senate gave final approval last night to legislation authorizing the construction of 700 miles of double-layered fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border, shelving President Bush's vision of a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws in favor of a vast barrier. The measure was pushed hard by House Republican leaders, who badly wanted to pass a piece of legislation that would make good on their promises to get tough on illegal immigrants, despite warnings from critics that a multibillion-dollar fence would do little to address the...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

A Perspective On Democratic Outrage Over Mark Foley

The Republican leadership in the House has plenty for which to answer over their laissez-faire treatment of Mark Foley when allegations of improper contact with underage pages first came to their attention. Despite knowing of Foley's "inappropriate" behavior this spring, Majority Leader John Boehner did nothing about it, after hearing that the parents of the page wanted the matter dropped. Regardless, the actions of Foley reflected badly on the GOP and the House, and action should have been taken at the time to punish Foley. Surely, the Republicans could at least have removed him from the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. However, Democratic protestations on this matter seem rather hypocritical, given the history of their party and page scandals: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who introduced a privileged resolution friday night to require an ethics probe, criticized Republican leaders, who she said, "have known of the egregious...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Keith Ellison On The Hotseat

Keith Ellison, the DFL's candidate in MN-05, has a couple of problems in the local blogs this morning. First, our NARN partner Michael Brodkorb finds a photo of Ellison leading a march against police brutality in 1998, holding what looks like several copies of the Nation of Islam's Final Call: Brodkorb alleges that Ellison was distributing these copies at the event, which puts lie to Ellison's insistence that he had no affiliation with the Nation of Islam or Louis Farrakhan after the Million Man March in 1995. MN Publius, who like Brodkorb does paid political work, defends Ellison by claiming that the picture doesn't show Ellison distributing the copies of Final Call. I'm on the fence in that respect. Sometimes I pick up a copy of the Star Tribune, especially when dining out where no Internet connection exists, and I'd hate to be photographed doing that. On the other hand,...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Has Pakistan Changed Sides?

Yesterday I noted the increase in cross-border attacks in Afghanistan in the three weeks since Pervez Musharraf signed a peace deal with the tribal chiefs in Waziristan and released thousands of captured Islamists. Today, the government of India now says that the train bombings in Mumbai this past July had the support of Pakistan's ISI: Mumbai police Commissioner A.N. Roy said an intensive investigation that included using truth serum on suspects revealed that Pakistan's top spy agency had ''masterminded'' the bombings. Roy said Pakistan's Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence, or ISI, began planning the attacks in March and later provided training to those who carried out the bombings in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. ''The terror plot was ISI sponsored and executed by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operatives with help from the Students Islamic Movement of India,'' Roy said at a news conference to announce the completion of the investigation. Lashkar is a Pakistan-based Islamic militant...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Northern Alliance Radio Network On The Air

We're back on the air with the Northern Alliance Radio Network this afternoon. Mitch and I will go from 1-3 pm at AM 1280 The Patriot, and we'll be discussing a wide range of topics. We're looking into the border-fence bill, the new legislation for terrorist detention, interrogation, and trial, and the announcement that the Twin Cities will host the 2008 Republican National Convention. Since I blogged at the RNC in 2004, I'll have a few stories to tell about what we can expect in 2008. We also will cover the Mark Foley scandal, but we're disappointed that we forgot to bring the proper bumber music. Mitch and I wanted to use "Uncle Ernie" by the Who, "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull, "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, "Baby Talks Dirty" by The Knack, and a number of others. If you have any suggestions, please post them in...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »

Hastert Knew While Foley Flew

Well, well, well. It appears the Republicans actually can make the Foley controversy worse. As if it wasn't bad enough that John Boehner knew about Foley's track record of sexual harassment of his underage pages, now it turns out that Speaker Denny Hastert lied about what he knew and when he knew it. Roll Call reports that Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Hastert about Foley's predatory actions in late winter or early spring of this year: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) issued a statement Saturday in which he said that he had informed Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) of allegations of improper contacts between then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and at least one former male page, contradicting earlier statements from Hastert.' GOP sources said Reynolds told Hastert earlier in 2006, shortly after the February GOP leadership elections. Hastert's response to Reynolds' warning...

« August 2006 | October 2006 »