« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 1, 2007

The Only Test Should Be Citizenship

Jonah Goldberg has a good sense of humor, and it comes across in his posts at The Corner, which tend to display his wry wit. That's why, when I read his column for yesterday's Los Angeles Times, I suspected he may have been kidding about competency tests for voting. If not, then Jonah has forgotten some painful civil-rights history: Can you name all three branches of government? Can you name even one? Do you know who your congressman is? Your senators? Do you even know how many senators each state gets? If you know the answers to these questions (and you probably do because you're a newspaper reader), you're in the minority. In fact, the data have long been settled. A very high percentage of the U.S. electorate isn't very well qualified to vote, if by "qualified" you mean having a basic understanding of our government, its functions and its...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Democrats To Wait Until September For Surrender Bill

Apparently the Democrats have resolved to wait until September to offer a withdrawal bill -- and John Murtha stomped off the floor when he learned about their plans. He had planned to offer a bill which would have required withdrawal to start within 60 days but not demand an end date, and the anti-war faction balked: A proposal by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for the House to vote on withdrawal from Iraq without a timetable has been nixed, several lawmakers and aides said. The opposition of the Progressive Caucus also apparently doomed a proposal by Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and John Tanner (D-Tenn.) demanding a redeployment plan from President Bush. The measure will not get a vote this week. Progressive Caucus lawmakers met Tuesday morning and agreed they would not support any Iraq measure that does not include a firm timetable for withdrawal. ... “We don’t want to see any...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Spectators At The Genocide

The UN will finally intervene in Darfur, thanks to a unanimous Security Council vote last night, but it will have a restricted mandate that will essentially do nothing. Up to 26,000 troops, primarily African, will deploy to Sudan over the next several months under the command of the UN, but will only have authority to use force while not "usurping" the Sudanese government: The full force, the largest authorized by the U.N., will take about a year to muster and could cost $2 billion, said peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno. He added that a substantial number of troops will arrive before year's end. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the resolution "historic and unprecedented" and said it would help "improve the lives of the people of the region and close this tragic chapter in Sudan's history." The resolution is the culmination of a 9-month-long fight with the Khartoum government over sending troops to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Will Democrats Move On FISA Changes?

Democrats have decided that they have to support changes requested by the White House to the FISA law in order to protect vital national-security programs, the New York Times reports. They fear leaving themselves open to charges of being weak on terrorism as well as impeding vital signal intelligence efforts to keep the nation safe from another attack (via Memeorandum): Under pressure from President Bush, Democratic leaders in Congress are scrambling to pass legislation this week to expand the government’s electronic wiretapping powers. Democratic leaders have expressed a new willingness to work with the White House to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make it easier for the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on some purely foreign telephone calls and e-mail. Such a step now requires court approval. ... In the past few days, Mr. Bush and Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, have publicly called on Congress to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Sudan Vs Iraq?

Earlier, I pointed out the folly of the new UN mission to Sudan. The force is too small, the mission too narrow, and the rules of engagement too restrictive to accomplish anything other than provide a sideshow for the genocide. Also, the history of UN peacekeeping forces in that region more than suggests that the troops themselves will perpetuate some of the unsavory practices on the victims that the UN wants to end. Putting those issues to one side for a moment, the UN and the advocates of this intervention have for the most part railed against the American presence in Iraq. At Heading Right, I look at the prevailing arguments for the futility of our mission in Iraq and for complete withdrawal there, and compare it to the situation in Darfur. Which mission has the best chance for success?...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Now They Tell Us

Last year at this time, the world watched as Israel tried to drive Hezbollah out of the sub-Litani region in a large but tentative invasion of Lebanon. Leaders from the UN and the West worked tirelessly to restrain Israel, finally brokering a truce to end the fighting. According to a Hezbollah officer, it came just in time to save the Iranian-backed terrorists from a complete collapse: "The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization [at the end of the Second Lebanon War]," a Hizbullah officer said in an interview aired by Channel 10 on Tuesday. In the interview, the unnamed officer said Hizbullah gunmen would have surrendered if the fighting last summer had continued for another 10 days. ... The officer shown on Channel 10 said the organization's gunmen had been running low on food and water and facing rapidly diminishing arms supplies. It turns out that Hezbollah...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

McConnell To Force Consideration Of Southwick

A source on Capitol Hill tells me that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to force consideration of Judge Leslie Southwick's nomination to the appellate court in the next few minutes. Stay tuned! UPDATE: It looks like the debate on this has already started. Pat Leahy is arguing that the Republicans have not asked him to put Southwick's nomination on the agenda, but that he has done so for tomorrow anyway. He says Republicans "pocket vetoed" 61 Clinton administration appointees, and used one of them -- unnamed -- to accuse them of racism. UPDATE II: McConnell introduced an amendment asking for the sense of the Senate on Southwick's nomination. McConnell apparently wants to show that Southwick would gain a majority for his confirmation on the Senate floor....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Happy Anniversary, Rush

The man who helped create the market for conservative talk radio celebrates 19 years in the business today. Rush Limbaugh has changed broadcast radio history and continues to produce the most popular political talk show in America after all these years. He's opened up doors for conservatives that had been shut tight before he appeared on the scene and transformed talk radio. Besides that, he's a good friend and a great guy. Thanks again, Rush, for all you do. Happy anniversary, and many more ahead, we hope. (via The Corner)...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Obama: Let's Pull Out Of Iraq And Invade Pakistan (Update: Obama's Website Emphasizes Punitive Invasion)

Democrats have been demanding a withdrawal from Iraq for the past two years, and Barack Obama knows exactly what he'll do with the troops once they withdraw. He'll send them on an invasion of Pakistan: In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism scheduled for this morning, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will call not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan -- with or without the permission of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. "I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges," Obama will say, according to speech excerpts provided to ABC News by his campaign, "but let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Energy Independence, Michael Mannske

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we have two excellent guests. In the first half, we'll talk with Sara Banaszak, API's senior economist, about the proposed taxes on oil licenses in the Gulf of Mexico and how that will affect gas prices and the efforts for energy independence -- as well as any questions you may have. In the second half, author Michael Mannske joins us to talk about his new novel, Foreign and Domestic: Campaign II--Battle for the Middle States, as well as his experiences in the military and the issues surrounding Iraq, Iran, and the UN. UPDATE: I'll also ask Ms. Banaszak about Rolling Stone's explosive article on ethanol. It's interesting; I'll blog about it later tonight. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

I Obviously Needed More Coffee Today

Apparently, I miscoded something on my CQ Radio post which made everything else fail out. I've fixed the problem, and the rest of the site should be accessible now. I apologize for the inconvenience....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Free Speech Vs Prior Restraint

The Muslim special-interest group CAIR has attempted to intimidate the Young America's Foundation into cancelling a speaker at their conference this week. Reacting to frequent CAIR critic Robert Spencer's invitation to address their National Conservative Student Conference, CAIR's attorney demanded that the event get shut down: You should be aware that Mr Spencer, a well-known purveyor of hatred and bigotry against Muslims, has a history of false and defamatory statements. Several of those statements have falsely accused CAIR of activity that would constitute a federal criminal offense. Interestingly, the attorney (Joseph E. Sandler) never actually produces the supposedly false statements, nor indicates when or where Spencer supposedly made them. Nevertheless, Sandler demands that Spencer be silenced: For those reasons, we demand that YAF cancel the subject session, or else take steps to ensure that false and defamatory statements are not disseminated at that session. This seems to be the main...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Pray For The Twin Cities

One of the most-traveled freeways in the Twin Cities -- a span over the Mississippi River -- collapsed about an hour ago. At the time, the highway had bumper-to-bumper traffic in the middle of rush hour, and dozens of cars have gone into the river or been caught in the rubble: The Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the evening rush hour Wednesday, dumping at least eight cars and a truck into the water and onto the land below, creating a horrific scene of damage, fire, smoke, injuries, frantic rescuers and terrified motorists. It was not clear how many people might be hurt or killed, but witnesses said at least 20 cars were involved. The crumpled green wreckage of the bridge lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 2, 2007

Death Toll To 9 As We Wait For Sunrise

The morning after the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, authorities await sunrise to continue their efforts to search the wreckage for any unaccounted victims. By this time, most expect this to be a recovery rather than a rescue effort, and the death toll has risen to nine, and twenty people are known to be missing: Nine people were confirmed dead as of 4 a.m. today. Sixty were taken to hospitals and 20 people were still missing this morning. Authorities said they expected the death toll to rise. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek told the Associated Press at about 1 a.m. today that all search efforts had been called off for the night and that searchers did not expect to find any survivors. "It's dark, it's not safe with the currents in the water and the concrete and rebar," he said. "At this point it is a recovery effort." The "missing" figure...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Was The Bridge Deficient?

Normally, in the wake of a catastrophe, the details become clear only slowly and fitfully. Last night we heard that the 35W bridge had passed all of its inspections and that the collapse completely surprised everyone. Today, the Pioneer Press reports that inspectors had warned of a problem with this particular bridge, although the state overall had done an excellent job in bridge maintenance: Bridge inspectors had noted structural problems over the years in the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River that collapsed Wednesday evening, but it was unclear whether obvious warning signs had been ignored. ... In 2005, inspectors from the Minnesota Department of Transportation deemed the bridge "structurally deficient," in data submitted to the Federal Highway Administration's National Bridge Inventory. Inspectors gave the bridge a sufficiency rating of 50 percent on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. A rating of 50 percent or lower means the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Bridge Collapse Caught On Security Video

UPDATE: Here's the video (via Hot Air): CNN has the video from a security camera near the 35W bridge that catches the collapse. It shows it in the typical four-frames-per-second style of security video, but it quite clearly catches the sequence of the collapse. The bridge appears to break, as one might guess from the pattern of the rubble, not in the center but as the span goes over the water of the river. The center section drops straight down, and the video briefly shows the cars that went down with it. A few seconds later, that first third of the bridge follows it down. In that first couple of frames, the steel structure buckles dramatically. One point to note: it does not show the entire span of the bridge. The collapse could have started on the right of the camera, which is not shown. That would be the south...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Pawlenty: Experts Did Not Warn Of Collapse

Tim Pawlenty just appeared on KSTP to answer questions about the bridge collapse yesterday afternoon. As I noted earlier, the Pioneer Press and other local news outlets have begun to report that the bridge had been rated as "structurally deficient", which would normally have flagged it for higher-priority maintenance or possibly replacement. Governor Pawlenty told KSTP that the experts had not recommended either: Q: I understand that you're waiting to hear from President Bush. What kind of federal help do you expect to receive? A: We've received offers of help from the federal government, and I'm sure that will take the form of cash, assistance, and personnel. We have federal officials already on site, and more coming. But we just want everybody to know across the country and across Minnesota that our thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with the families who have lost a loved one, somebody that...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Bush: Federal Response Will Be "Robust"

President Bush made an obviously impromptu appearance just now to make a statement about the bridge collapse. He promised a "robust" federal response, not just in the recovery and investigation, but also in rebuilding the bridge. He didn't spend much time talking about details, other than to say that the Secretary of Transportation has flown to Minneapolis to ensure the best possible coordination with state officials already on the ground. This shouldn't require a huge effort in those regards. This hardly compares to Hurricane Katrina, after all. It's a localized and comparatively small tragedy. It won't require FEMA, but it will require the resources of the NTSB for the investigation, and that has to be coordinated now. Bush's statement did emphasize one point that has understandably been missed while we focus on rescue and recovery, although my clear-thinking radio partner Mitch Berg has already blogged about it. This section of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

To Dream The Impossible Dream

The Senate takes up ethics reform on the floor this morning, and given the overwhelming vote in the House yesterday, it seems certain to pass. The roll-call vote will take place this afternoon: The Senate debated Thursday whether to make lawmakers disclose more about their efforts to fund pet projects and raise money from lobbyists, a move that reform groups say is overdue. Senate leaders said they hoped to win a showdown vote later in the day to end debate and ready the bill for final passage. A two-thirds majority is needed to end debate because the bill would change Senate rules, but a simple majority would suffice on final passage. The measure "is the most sweeping reform bill since Watergate," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said as the debate began Thursday morning. That may be damning with faint praise. It had real teeth in its earlier version, especially on earmarks,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

It Shouldn't Happen Anywhere

National Review extended a kind invitation for an essay about the Minneapolis bridge collapse, and they have already published it on their web site. "Into The River" looks at the dynamics of the collapse here in Minnesota and looks at the road ahead: Nevertheless, Minnesotans already want to know how the unthinkable happened to one of its most critical traffic structures. The power of the Digital Age started showing itself in the first hours of the tragedy. News organizations found reports on prior bridge inspections on the Internet, one of which noted the bridge “has many poor fatigue details on the main truss and floor truss system.” Other reports came to light shortly afterwards, including more recent inspections that classified the bridge as “structurally deficient.” State officials quickly clarified that engineers didn’t recommend any immediate action as part of those inspections, but the issue will not disappear quietly. Minnesotans have...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Stephen Hayes on Dick Cheney

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Stephen Hayes joins us to talk about his new book, Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President. We'll talk about Hayes' unprecedented access to the fanously private Vice President, what he learned about Cheney and the Bush administration, and much more. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Who Was On Bush's List For VP Candidates?

If you missed today's CQ Radio show with Stephen Hayes, you missed a great piece of fascinating history. Hayes, author of Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President, talked at length about the selection process that put Cheney on the ticket with George Bush in 2000. Cheney had not told Stephen who else had been considered for the position while Cheney headed the search committee prior to his own selection, but the biographer managed to find out through other channels -- and in an inadvertent exclusive, Hayes told me that one of the names was ... Chuck Hagel. If you listen to the interview, Stephen puts it into good context. Hagel has a long history of conservative votes, and at the time was considered a comer in the GOP. Imagine the ways in which history may have changed -- and how that would have affected...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Recovery Suspended; Inspections Ordered

The fast-moving waters of the Mississippi River have hampered the recovery efforts at the collapsed bridge in the center of Minneapolis, and the operations have been suspended. Also, Governor Tim Pawlenty ordered fresh inspections of all state bridges with similar construction: Divers were pulled from the murky and fast-moving waters of the Mississippi River Thursday afternoon before any bodies could be recovered from the wreckage of Wednesday's I-35W bridge collapse. At about the same time, Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered an immediate inspection of all Minnesota bridges that have a design like the one that collapsed Wednesday in Minneapolis. Pawlenty said he did not know how many bridges have that design. ... The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lowered the water level of the Mississippi by about 1 foot today in an attempt to give emergency workers better access to vehicles at the site of the bridge. The initial plan called...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Interviews Upcoming With Romney, Huckabee (Update: Audio Added)

Earlier today, NZ Bear from the Victory Caucus joined me in two interviews today with Republican presidential candidates. First, we had Mitt Romney for about ten minutes to discuss his new Surge of Support for military personnel and families. While I had him available, I asked him about Barack Obama's contention that he would send American troops into Pakistan if Pervez Musharraf didn't shape up. Romney laughed at Obama's bluster: ROMNEY: I think Barack Obama has been demonstrating through his statements over the past several weeks a very limited understanding of the nature of conflict and diplomacy. Hillary Clinton, whom I rarely agree with, said that he's showing a naivete that is quite alarming I think naive is the right word in this case. He had a few choice words for Obama's pledge to visit Fidel Castro, among others. Be sure to catch this interview later today. Also, Mike Huckabee...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Southwick Nomination Reported To Full Senate

The Senate Judiciary Committee finally voted to recommend confirmation of Judge Leslie Southwick to the appellate court this afternoon, on a 10-9 vote where Dianne Feinstein crossed the party line. Mitch McConnell's office sent out the following statement: “With today’s vote to send Judge Southwick’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to the full Senate, the Judiciary Committee took a step forward in ensuring we are able to confirm qualified judges to our nation’s courts. Judge Southwick is an outstanding jurist, and a bi-partisan majority judged him on his record of service. “Judge Southwick, an Iraq war veteran, is superbly fit to continue serving his country, this time on the Fifth Circuit. His colleagues know this, as do his home-state senators. The American Bar Association knows this; it has twice given him its highest rating, ‘well-qualified.’ Even Democrats on the Judiciary Committee know this; just last fall all...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Media Alerts

I'll be making two appearances on radio shows this evening to discuss the Minneapolis bridge collapse story. First, I'll join Hugh Hewitt at 6:40 pm CT. Hugh will probably run with this story for most of his show. At 9:35 pm CT, I'll be on The World Tonight with Rob Breakenridge on Calgary's CHQR....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

This Could Have Waited

It's not that I completely disagree with Nick Coleman in today's Star Trribune. In some ways, I agree with what he has to say. But was this the time to say this? The death bridge was "structurally deficient," we now learn, and had a rating of just 50 percent, the threshold for replacement. But no one appears to have erred on the side of public safety. The errors were all the other way. Would you drive your kids or let your spouse drive over a bridge that had a sign saying, "CAUTION: Fifty-Percent Bridge Ahead"? No, you wouldn't. But there wasn't any warning on the Half Chance Bridge. There was nothing that told you that you might be sitting in your over-heated car, bumper to bumper, on a hot summer day, thinking of dinner with your wife or of going to see the Twins game or taking your kids for...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 3, 2007

King Of Pork Wins Again

The undisputed king of pork in the House has another championship trophy for his wall. Despite a game effort by Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), who actually got more earmarks into the upcoming defense appropriation bill, John Murtha outscored him on total dollars spent on protecting his incumbency. The King spent $150 million of our money on his pet projects: Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense panel, has secured the most earmarked dollars in the 2008 military spending bill, followed closely by the panel’s ranking member Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.). Even though Young secured 52 earmarks, worth $117.2 million — and co-sponsored at least $27 million worth of others — Murtha’s 48 earmarks amount to a total of $150.5 million, according to a database compiled by the watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). The House is expected to take up the $459.6 billion defense appropriations bill...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

HP Responds To QUT Laser Printer Study

On Tuesday, I linked to a report from Australian researchers that found laser-printer particulates in high amounts in offices. The report suggested that laser printers could present a health hazard with such high levels in areas where people work long hours. I suggested that it sounded more like a great new market for personal-injury litigation. Hewlett-Packard contacted me late yesterday and asked to respond publicly to the study here at Captain's Quarters. The statement comes from Tuan Tran, HP's Vice President of marketing for supplies: After a preliminary review of the Queensland University of Technology research on particle emission characteristics of office printers, HP does not agree with its conclusion or some of the bold claims the authors have made recently in press reports. HP stands behind the safety of its products. Testing of ultrafine particles is a very new scientific discipline. There are no indications that ultrafine particle (UFP)...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Doesn't Sound Like A Funding Issue

MnDOT officials had concerns about the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River last winter, focusing on the same fatigue and potential cracking that has grabbed the focus of the post-collapse coverage. Engineers debated whether to apply patches to the more worrisome points of fatigue, but in the end, opted to continue inspections instead: Structural deficiencies in the Interstate 35W bridge that collapsed Wednesday were so serious that the Minnesota Department of Transportation last winter considered bolting steel plates to its supports to prevent cracking in fatigued metal, according to documents and interviews with agency officials. The department went so far as to ask contractors for advice on the best way to approach such a task, which could have been opened for bids later this year. MnDOT considered the steel plating at the recommendation of consulting engineers who told the agency that there were two ways to keep the bridge safe:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Erasing History At The House (Update: Video Added)

The bitter partisanship in Congress will apparently get a lot worse after some shenanigans by Democratic leadership in the House last night. According to the Politico, the Democrats have not only attempted a revote after an embarrassing loss on an agriculture bill, but they've changed the records to expunge any mention of the vote they lost: In a massive flare-up of partisan tensions, Republicans walked out on a House vote late Thursday night to protest what they believed to be Democratic maneuvers to reverse an unfavorable outcome for them. The flap represents a complete breakdown in parliamentary procedure and an unprecedented low for the sometimes bitterly divided chamber. The rancor erupted shortly before 11 p.m. as Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) gaveled close the vote on a standard procedural measure with the outcome still in doubt. Details remain fuzzy, but numerous Republicans argued afterward that they had secured a 215-213...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Do-As-I-Say Moment For Edwards

The man who decries the "Two Americas" while building a 28,000-square-foot mansion strikes again. John Edwards' presidential campaign has become so desperate that he has started running against Rupert Murdoch, who isn't running for office. He now demands that all of his opponents for the Democratic nomination pinky-swear that they will snub Murdoch and Fox News -- after Edwards took close to a million dollars from the man (via Memeorandum): John Edwards, who yesterday demanded Democratic candidates return any campaign donations from Rupert Murdoch and News Corp., himself earned at least $800,000 for a book published by one of the media mogul's companies. The Edwards campaign said the multimillionaire trial lawyer would not return the hefty payout from Murdoch for the book titled "Home: The Blueprints of Our Lives." The campaign didn't respond to a question from The Post about whether it was hypocritical for Edwards to take money from...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Day Out Of The House, Courtesy Of Comcast

I'm enjoying the relaxations of our local Panera restaurant and its free wi-fi service, courtesy of an area-wide disruption of service at Comcast. Today marks the first full month that I've had with Comcast's Triple Play, and until about 6:30 this morning, I was pretty satisfied with the switch. Comcast had a couple of advantages. It could provide much faster Internet access and it saved me $60 a month over my combined Qwest and DirectTV bills. The picture isn't quite as crisp as with DirectTV, but I love the free on-demand video. The internet speed went from 500K to 6M, and it allowed me to finally start streaming video on my computer. (Before that, YouTube was a rare indulgence.) Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, it really goes wrong with Comcast. The only problem before today was a bad TV box, which they replaced in two days with no fuss. Today,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Appellate Court Upholds Congressional Privilege In Reasonable Ruling

The DC federal appellate circuit has ruled a part of the FBI's raid on William Jefferson's Congressional offices unconstitutional. The three-judge panel ordered the FBI to return certain seized documents to Jefferson without accessing them. The Department of Justice warned that the ruling could put public corruption out of the reach of law enforcement, but a close look shows that the court made a specific and reasoned ruling that actually supports most of their position: The FBI violated the Constitution when agents raided U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's office last year and viewed legislative documents, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The court ordered the Justice Department to return any privileged documents it seized from the Louisiana Democrat's office on Capitol Hill. The court did not order the return of all the documents seized in the raid. Jefferson argued that the raid trampled on congressional independence. The Justice Department said that...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Have You Seen My Wife, Mr. Jones?

Our community suffered a terrible blow this week when the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi collapsed on Wednesday afternoon. So far, we know of six people who have died, and the latest count of the missing portends at least another eight deaths. Dozens were injured, some critically, and the healing process will take years. One of the comforts we have taken from the tragedy has been the remarkable heroism of our first responders -- police, fire, and paramedics -- as well as the ordinary citizens who risked their lives to rescue others when every instinct told them to run away. Their example has helped unify our community and exemplify the American impulse of individual effort and volunteerism. On the heels of that comes word that these heroes carried an additional burden -- taking the last words of the dying to their families: The first moments after the Interstate 35W bridge...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Bridge Was In Bottom 100 Heavy-Use Bridges In US

The bridge that collapsed on the Mississippi ranked in the worst 100 heavy-use bridges in the US -- but still was deemed fit enough for full service The Pioneer Press reports on the apparent contradiction, which calls into question the assumptions on which bridge inspections are based: The Interstate 35W bridge that collapsed Wednesday was not just "structurally deficient," it was among the 100 worst heavily used bridges in the country. It was also deemed perfectly safe. How this bridge could have both labels at the same time seems to defy logic. But the contradiction goes to the heart of a complicated national bridge inspection program meant to ensure we can safely drive across the country's 709,000 bridges every day. ... The I-35W bridge was in particular need of attention. In a comparison with about 4,000 similar bridges nationwide - those carrying more than 100,000 cars per day for a...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson from the Hugh Hewitt show joins us to review the week's top stories. We'll talk about the bridge collapse here in Minneapolis, as well as the other hot stories this week, including last night's power grab by the Democrats in the House. I'll go over a couple of moments from my interview with Governor Mike Huckabee, too! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Process Of Living

Now that the first couple of days have passed since the collapse of the I-35W bridge, and even while the recovery of victims remains incomplete, Minneapolis begins its adjustment to the loss of its major traffic artery. The loss will start impacting the community in unexpected ways. For instance, electric service may be disrupted to a good section of the area: Xcel Energy has two cables in the area around the collapsed bridge and they serve the West Bank areas. Those two cables are operational now, Nystuen said, and the company has a contingency plan in place should they fail. The utility is also going to reroute cables away from the bridge area so that they will not be a factor in reconstruction. ... The University of Minnesota has asked students and staff on the campus' West Bank to limit electricity use today and through the weekend as Xcel Energy...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Not A Lack Of Funds, Part II

People have made a lot of assumptions in the wake of the bridge collapse here in Minneapolis. Without waiting to find out the actual cause of the collapse, politicians and pundits have assumed that governments on state and federal levels failed to properly fund infrastructure maintenance. One of the memes that has popped up has been that the war in Iraq has somehow drained funds from these responsibilities, offered in this instance by our freshman Senator, Amy Klobuchar: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, suggested Bush administration spending on the Iraq war may have crimped funding for domestic projects such as road and bridge construction, and for such infrastructure projects as new levees for New Orleans. "We've spent $500 billion (250 billion pounds) in Iraq and we have bridges falling down in this country," Klobuchar told MSNBC. "I see a connection between messed-up priorities." Someone had "messed-up priorities" by...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 4, 2007

And Now It's Oberstar's Turn

Yesterday, Senator Amy Klobuchar blamed the collapse of the I-35W bridge on a lack of highway funds -- even though the 2005 highway bill increased federal funding to Minnesota by 46% over its five-year span. Apparently realizing that line of argument wouldn't hold, Rep. James Oberstar accused MnDOT of being too cheap to use advanced technology for bridge inspections. He left out of his accusation that the technology hasn't proven itself for that purpose: On the House floor Friday, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., accused MnDOT of turning down an opportunity to use a $200,000 high-tech inspection technology on the bridge that might have detected a fatal flaw. ... "Technology can discover microscopic cracks not visible to the naked eye and then measure their propagation and do the same with bridges," he said on the House floor. "The Minnesota Department of Transportation was offered the opportunity to use that technology...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Senate Agrees To White House FISA Changes

The Senate voted to approve the White House-backed changes to the FISA law after failing to muster any significant support for the Democratic alternative. Sixteen Democrats joined all of the Republicans and Joe Lieberman in passing the legislation, giving the Bush administration a rare victory -- but a temporary one: The Senate bowed to White House pressure last night and passed a Republican plan for overhauling the federal government's terrorist surveillance laws, approving changes that would temporarily give U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order. The 60 to 28 vote, which was quickly denounced by civil rights and privacy advocates, came after Democrats in the House failed to win support for more modest changes that would have required closer court supervision of government surveillance. Earlier in the day, President Bush threatened to hold Congress in session into its scheduled summer recess if it...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Trophy Wife Or Machiavellia?

The press can't get enough of Jeri Thompson, it appears. They also can't quite get their minds settled on a narrative for her, either. They either consider her a trophy wife, or some sort of manipulative harridan, as this latest non-story from Michael Cooper and Marc Santora proves: One Friday afternoon last month, Jeri Kehn Thompson took attendance at the testing-the-waters presidential campaign headquarters of her husband, Fred D. Thompson. Mrs. Thompson checked to see which staff members were working at their desks, said a Republican close to the campaign, and went on to chide those who were A.W.O.L. The spot-check is just one of many indications that Mrs. Thompson, a former political consultant herself, is taking an active, hands-on role in the effort to propel Mr. Thompson, a former Tennessee senator, into a presidential candidacy. Admirers say the role makes sense, not only because of her background working in...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Britain Faces Agricultural Emergency

An eruption of foot-and-mouth disease among Guilford cattle could portend economic disaster for the UK. Six years ago, a similar eruption ruined the livestock markets in Britain and Ireland and even impacted the tourist trade: Britain is facing the prospect of a new foot and mouth epidemic after a case of the disease was confirmed for the first time since the disastrous outbreak of 2001. The Government launched emergency measures after cattle at a farm near Guildford, Surrey, tested positive. All 60 cattle on the farm will be culled. A nationwide ban on the movement of livestock, including cattle and pigs, was imposed immediately. In the summer of 2001, our family traveled to Ireland at the height of the last epidemic. Mild travel restrictions had been imposed in the Republic, but in Northern Ireland and Britain (where we did not go), the governments had tougher rules on access, especially in...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NARN, The Finger-Pointing Edition

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line's John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station's Internet stream if you're outside of the broadcast area. Today, Mitch and I will be talking about the bridge collapse for most of the first hour, I imagine. In the second hour, we will welcome Stephen Hayes, the author of Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President. Stephen will take us behind the scenes and paint a picture of the VP, as well...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

House To Investigate Itself (Update: Replay Confirms Cheating)

Faced with a clear example of vote fraud, the House has agreed to investigate .. itself. The day after Democratic leadership in the House attempted to nullify a completed floor vote, the Majority Leader had to issue an apology and agree to an extraordinary bipartisan panel to probe the actions of House leadership: The House last night unanimously agreed to create a special select committee, with subpoena powers, to investigate Republican allegations that Democratic leaders had stolen a victory from the House GOP on a parliamentary vote late Thursday night. The move capped a remarkable day that started with Republicans marching out of the House in protest near midnight Thursday, was punctuated by partisan bickering, and ended with Democratic hopes for a final legislative rush fading. Even a temporary blackout of the House chamber's vote tally board led to suspicions and accusations of skullduggery. While Democratic leaders hoped to leave...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 5, 2007

British Outbreak Came From Lab

The outbreak of the devastating foot-and-mouth disease in Britain apparently came from a laboratory. The Pirbright facility in Surrey, three miles from the outbreak, is the only laboratory licensed to study the viruses that cause FAM, and the strain discovered in the cattle is not normally found in nature: A biosecurity failure at a research laboratory has been pinpointed as the likeliest source of Britain's foot and mouth outbreak. An inquiry by scientists is centring on fears that the virus escaped from the Pirbright laboratory site in Surrey, the only centre licensed to work with the foot and mouth virus. It is feared that the virus, carried on the wind, infected cattle grazing in a field three miles away. A private pharmaceuticals company, Merial Animal Health, which has been developing a foot and mouth vaccine, shares the Pirbright site with the government-funded Institute for Animal Health, which holds 5,000 strains...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Blue Dogs Pass FISA Changes While The YKos Plays On

The big story this week for the blogosphere has been the YearlyKos convention, a highly visible amplification of the reach of a blog community into a political force. Presidential and Congressional candidates have spoken to the attendees, and at least to some extent ratified the hard-Left political direction of the YKos crowd among Democratic politicians. Unfortunately, the Democrats in office apparently don't intend to do much more than pander, as the leadership in both chambers of Congress essentially surrendered to the White House on FISA: The Democratic-controlled House last night approved legislation President Bush's intelligence advisers wrote to enhance their ability to intercept the electronic communications of foreigners without a court order. The 227 to 183 House vote capped a high-pressure campaign by the White House to change the nation's wiretap law, in which the administration capitalized on Democrats' fears of being branded weak on terrorism and on Congress's desire...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Inspection Techniques Under The Microscope

Bridge inspections have come under scrutiny after the collapse of the I-35W bridge over Mississippi, with Minnesotans wondering how a bridge that passed an inspection in May could collapse less than three months later. The technology involved in bridge inspections may surprise some, as they still rely on hammers, steel chains, and eyeballs for most of the analysis. Also, the design itself may have been the major contributing factor, according to a former New York City bridge safety engineer: As canoeists paddled below, state bridge inspector Eric Evens stood in a cherry picker next to the two-lane steel bridge over the St. Croix River near Scandia on Friday, eyeballing rust, cracks, bolts and rivets. Computer-aided design and other innovations have changed the way structures are built, but bridge inspections haven't changed much over the years. In this high-tech era, the trained eye and the rap of a hammer to listen...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Pork Pull Down The St. Anthony Bridge?

John McCain blamed Congress and the pork in the 2005 transportation bill for the collapse of the I-35W bridge here in Minneapolis. He spoke to a crowd in Ankeny, Iowa, about his anger over the lost opportunity for pork-barrel reform in the ethics bill that just passed, and used the tragedy as an example of potential real-world consequences: Republican John McCain said Saturday that Congress could share in the blame for the Minnesota bridge collapse because lawmakers diverted billions of dollars in transportation money from road work to pet projects. "I think perhaps you can make the argument that part of the responsibility lies with the Congress of the United States," the Arizona senator said. McCain said Congress spent roughly $20 billion on special-interest projects when it approved a new highway bill, signed into law by President Bush. "We spent approximately $20 billion of that money on pork barrel, earmark...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Story About Jeri Thompson Hits The Front Page

Today, the Washington Post joins the New York Times in its passion to write exposés about Jeri Thompson, the wife of presidential candidate Fred Thompson. With two glaring exceptions, the piece actually appears rather balanced and fair, although it appears that Republican wives get a lot more critical attention than Democratic wives in this cycle: In the nascent Thompson campaign -- anticipated with high hopes by many conservatives unsatisfied with the current crop of GOP candidates -- Jeri Thompson plays a role arguably as influential as those of two better-known spouses of Democratic candidates, Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. She helps shape her husband's conservative message and image, has been a strong voice urging him to run and recently helped instigate a shake-up that pushed aside Thompson's first campaign manager and his research director. ... The current GOP presidential field provides two examples of the political perils of a controversial...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Starve For Mother Gaia

According to Dominic Kennedy at the Times of London, taking a walk to local shops increases global warming more than taking a car there. In fact, the diesel locomotives used for mass transit do more damage than the individual cars of those who eschew public transit do, and food production is the biggest culprit of all. Starving for Mother Gaia may be the only option left (via Memeorandum): Walking does more than driving to cause global warming, a leading environmentalist has calculated. Food production is now so energy-intensive that more carbon is emitted providing a person with enough calories to walk to the shops than a car would emit over the same distance. The climate could benefit if people avoided exercise, ate less and became couch potatoes. Provided, of course, they remembered to switch off the TV rather than leaving it on standby. The sums were done by Chris Goodall,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Primer On Non-Destructive Testing

Earlier today, I noted that one focus of the collapse of the St. Anthony Bridge will be the methods used to inspect the bridges in Minnesota and across the nation. The latest inspection, less than three months before the collapse, never indicated that the bridge was in imminent danger of collapse, but the Star Tribune reports that the inspections mainly rely on eyeballs and ears as the highest-tech devices to find structural deficiencies. The technology of bridge inspections remains largely what it has been for the last several decades. My father, Ed Morrissey (Sr), spent 29 years working on the space program, most specifically on the kind of non-destructive testing technology that would replace those eyes and ears on the bridges. He held a high certification level -- high enough to have a successful post-retirement career as a consultant at the same company from which he retired. I asked him...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Access Denied!

Have you been having trouble accessing some of your favorite blogs? So have the bloggers that run them. Hosting Matters has had issues this afternoon, so it's not your imagination or some grand conspiracy. (At least, I hope it's not some grand conspiracy.) I'm not sure what the problem was, but it's apparently been resolved....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 6, 2007

Shots Across The DMZ

Seoul confirms that the two Korean armies exchanged short bursts of gunshots across the DMZ, one day before disarmament talks expected to set the procedure for permanently disabling the Yongbyon nuclear plant. The exchange could mean that Kim Jong-Il wants a way out of his agreement, or it could have more implications for the role of the DPRK military in the disarmament: North and South Korea briefly exchanged gunshots on Monday in the first such skirmish on their heavily armed border in just over a year, a military official said. There were no reports of any casualties. "A few shots were fired from the North, and a few warning shots were fired (back) from this side," the official with the office of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told Reuters. The shooting came a day before the start of working level talks among regional powers, including the two Koreas,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Clean-Up, Traffic Snarl To Start This Week

Minneapolis will take its first tentative steps this week towards normal business after the collapse of the St. Anthony Bridge last week. The city will work with the NTSB to clear the debris of the collapse from the Mississippi River, while MnDOT will open the last of the operable exits of the I-35W on either end of the collapse: Recovery crews using cranes and barges will start pulling cars and other vehicles from the Mississippi River by midweek as part of a $15 million debris-removal plan, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said Sunday. Meanwhile, the FBI's dive team soon will arrive in the Twin Cities to assist local divers who have been searching for bodies. As of Sunday night, divers had searched several submerged vehicles but had not recovered any bodies in the water. Workers from Carl Bolander and Sons, of St. Paul, will begin moving heavy equipment to the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Paving Material On Bridge Is Not News

Last night, Drudge carried a headline that linked nowhere for hours, announcing that "tons" of paving material had been on the St. Anthony Bridge before its collapse. This morning, the headline finally linked to the New York Times, which published a brief article outlining the obvious: Trucks carrying tens of thousands of pounds of crushed stone were parked on the Interstate 35W bridge, and more stone was sitting on the deck when the bridge collapsed, investigators said Sunday, raising suspicions that the added weight of materials intended for repairs may have played a role in the bridge failure. The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Mark V. Rosenker, said investigators had questioned employees of Progressive Contractors Inc., which was doing work on the bridge deck, regarding quantities of various materials, specific equipment they had put on the bridge, and where the materials and equipment were on the bridge. The...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Alter: I Hate Democracy

It's almost impossible to keep one's jaw in place while reading Jonathan Alter under the best of circumstances, but his column today requires a bungee cord wrapped around one's head to avoid serious TMJ. Alter endorses "mischief" by state officials attempting to make end-runs around the Electoral College as long as it reflects the "popular will" -- but when Republicans actually offer a referendum to the people for ending the winner-take-all assignment of EC votes, Alter accuses the GOP of trying to steal the next election: Our way of electing presidents has always been fer-tile [sic] ground for mischief. But there's sensible mischief—toying with existing laws and the Constitution to reflect popular will—and then there's the other kind, which tries to rig admission to the Electoral College for strictly partisan purposes. Mischief-makers in California (Republicans) and North Carolina (Democrats) are at work on changes that would subvert the system for...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Is AOL Mail Failing?

I'd like to find out if an e-mail problem I'm seeing is a widespread issue. Most e-mail I send out to AOL customers has been bouncing back for the last several weeks. It comes back with a message from the AOL server that states: Delay reason: SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data: host mailin-01.mx.aol.com [64.12.137.249]: 421-: (DNS:NR) http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/421dnsnr.html 421 SERVICE NOT AVAILABLE My e-mail service tells me it will retry, and the failure messages continue for 72 hours until the system gives up entirely. Is this happening across the Internet and is AOL's mail service failing, or is this something more localized? I'd like to hear from CQ readers if they have had any of these difficulties. And if you use AOL and have been expecting replies from me, you may not get them until the problem gets resolved one way or another. UPDATE: The problem...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Huckabee In Motion?

The Politico reports that Iowans have warmed up to a second-tier candidate in the Republican presidential primary race, one with executive experience and conservative bona fides. Governor Mike Huckabee has pulled into a fourth-place tie with John McCain among likely caucus voters, perhaps signaling a move from the pack to the frontrunners: Going into Sunday's Republican presidential debate, most of the Iowans noshing on English muffins in the sun room of the neon-bedecked Drake Diner had never heard of Mike Huckabee, or knew very little about the ex-preacher and former governor of Arkansas. But by the debate’s end, they knew a lot more — and liked what they saw. .... Fetters and Holland were among 29 GOP voters from the Des Moines area assembled here by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and political consultant, and by Fox News. “Huckabee is hitting it out of the park with these people,” Luntz,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Union For Owners?

Bloggers on the port side of the 'sphere have suggested a new way to organize the chaos that is the blogging community. They propose a union for bloggers, which has some labor organizers salivating but a good number of us scratching our heads. Since when have owners (outside of sports leagues) needed to organize? In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards. The effort is an extension of the blogosphere's growing power and presence, especially within the political realm, and for many, evokes memories of the early labor organization of freelance writers in the early 1980s. Organizers hope a bloggers' labor group will not only showcase the growing professionalism of the Web-based writers, but...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Diversity Issue At YKos?

The Washington Post and Rick Moran agree on one thing: the YearlyKos convention looked monochromatic for a multicultural movement. With few exceptions, the gathering could have used Procul Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" as its theme song, according to these reports: It's Sunday, day 4 of Yearly Kos, the major conference for progressive bloggers, and Gina Cooper, the confab's organizer-in-chief, surveys the ballroom of the massive McCormick Place Convention Center. A few hundred remaining conventioneers are having brunch, dining on eggs, bagels and sausage. Seven of the eight Democratic presidential candidates have paid their respects this weekend, and some 200 members of the credentialed press have filed their stories. A mere curiosity just two years ago, the progressive blogosphere has gone mainstream. But Cooper sees a problem. "It's mostly white. More male than female," says the former high school math and science teacher turned activist. "It's not very diverse." There...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

What Constituted A High Priority For Transportation Funding?

Accusations have flown over funding priorities almost from the moment of the St. Anthony Bridge collapse last Wednesday. Despite the fact that federal transportation funding increased in 2005 by 46% to Minnesota, some still insist that the bridge collapsed because of a lack of funds for proper maintenance. Perhaps this roster of earmarks for Minnesota projects in that 2005 transportation bill will show what our Congressional delegation considered priorities. In this list, I-35W only gets mentioned twice in 147 separate line items, neither of which had anything to do with the bridge that collapsed. None of them mention the Lafayette Bridge either, which MnDOT considered more problematic than the St. Anthony Bridge before its collapse. So what did get prioritized? Lyndale Avenue Bridge, Richfield ($13 million) TH 169 between Virginia and Winton ($20 million) Design and construction for new Stillwater crossing over the St. Croix ($9 million) Non-motorized Transportation Pilot...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Rick Moran Reports After YKos Convention

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll talk about the Yearly Kos convention with one of its attendees, Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House. La Shawn Barber will join us half-way through to discuss the diversity issue on which the Washington Post reported today. BlogTalkRadio's CEO, Alan Levy, may also join us to talk about his experiences there. Don't miss this roundtable! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Support For Iraq War Growing

I suppose one could say that it had almost nowhere to go but up, but this is the second national poll to show support for the war in Iraq increasing. USA Today has a teaser on the poll today, and will offer the details tomorrow. Like all polls, sampling will be key, but a subtle shift can be seen: USA TODAY's Susan Page reports that President Bush is making some headway in arguing that the increase in U.S. troops in Iraq is showing military progress. In the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, taken Friday through Sunday, the proportion of those who said the additional troops are "making the situation better" rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was "not making much difference" dropped to 41% from 51%. About the same number said it was making things worse: 24% now, 25% a month ago. It's not a...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Miracle From Tragedy (Update: And Recognition For A Hero)

According to ABC, one miracle from the tragic collapse of the St. Anthony Bridge has given a family a new member they thought might have been lost. Doctors delivered a child from an expectant mother in critical condition via Caesarian section, and the baby is doing well: A 34-year-old pregnant woman who was severely injured in the disaster, has given birth to a healthy baby boy, ABC News has been told. Rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, the woman, whom hospital officials have not identified, underwent an emergency Caesarean section and doctors delivered a healthy baby boy, according to hospital records examined by ABC News. The woman was still in critical condition as of Friday, hospital sources say. ... On her first day at the hospital, she was listed as a Jane Doe because emergency personnel were unable to locate any identification on her, say hospital sources. Doctors eventually were...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Tax Argument

Earlier today, I reported on the earmarks from the 2005 federal transportation bill in answer to the argument that Minnesota didn't have the money to properly maintain the St. Anthony Bridge from collapsing as it did last Wednesday. That bill, despite its almost $500 million in earmarks for everything but the I-35W bridge, still provides Minnesota with nearly $3 billion in unearmarked federal funds for transportation, the vast majority of which gets spent on highways. What about state funds? In the wake of the tragedy, many have called for an increase in the gas tax from its present rate of 20 cents per gallon. That has not changed in 19 years -- but that doesn't mean revenues have remained static. For almost every year after 1988, gas tax revenue increases have been "stellar" -- and in the one year they weren't, an interesting phenomenon kept revenue flat: But by no...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Media Alert: Bill Bennett

Tomorrow morning, I will appear on the Bill Bennett radio show at 6:30 am ET. We'll be talking about the bridge collapse here in Minneapolis and the latest Republican debate. Be sure to set your alarm clocks -- I know I will!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 7, 2007

Georgia: Russia Attacked Us

Georgian officials claim that Russian jets invaded their airspace last night and fired a missile, which turned out to be a dud. The incident appears to be an escalation of Russian hostility towards its former republic and NATO aspirant: Russia has been accused of launching an airstrike in an "act of aggression" against neighbouring Georgia. Russia, which has a long history of tense relations with the former Soviet state, has denied the claim. Georgian officials said that two Russian jet fighters violated its airspace and fired a missile which did not explode. A Georgian government spokesman said that the intrusion took place on Monday night when the aircraft entered Georgia's airspace over the northeastern Gori region and fired a missile which fell near the village of Tsitelubani, around 40 miles west of the capital, Tbilisi. This puts a rather interesting twist on Georgia's relationship with NATO. They have made no...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Britain Discovers Its Retreatist Foreign Minister

When Gordon Brown picked former Kofi Annan deputy Lord Malloch-Brown to handle Foreign Office management of the UN, Africa, and Asia, Americans groaned at the message that the appointment made towards appeasement and unaccountable internationalism. Americans knew Mark Malloch-Brown from his attack on American free speech last year, and his insistence in 2005 that despite a plague of sexual exploitation scandals and the Oil-For-Food scandal that the UN was "not in the mood for more wholesale change". Now the British can get to know Malloch-Brown as the man who wants to give away the British veto power at the United Nations -- to the EU: The United Kingdom should lose its independent voice at the United Nations and hand over its seat on the Security Council to the EU, according to the new Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch-Brown. Last October, when Lord Malloch-Brown was the UN's deputy secretary general, he...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Insert Your Pun Here

Before I begin this post in earnest, I have to tell readers that I struggled mightily not to write about this local story. I know it has no resonance to overarching policy or national issues, or to anything remotely substantial. Like Allie Shah at the Star Tribune, though, it's impossible to let pass without at least some comment. Police in St. Paul are on the lookout for missing testicles and the men who stole them: A St. Paul man, complaining of chronic pain, wanted to have his testicles removed. When conventional medical staff refused to do the job, he hired other "professionals" to take off his testicles, according to a search warrant affidavit filed Monday in Ramsey County District Court. Two or three people operated on the man, Russell Daniel Angus, 62, a couple weeks ago at his home in St. Paul. He was unconscious during the surgery, and when...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

List Of Bridge Suspects Expands To Pigeons -- And Minnesotans

The inspections of the St. Anthony Bridge were difficult and dangerous affairs, according to a Star Tribune report. Spiders thrived on the support girders, and pigeons occupied the steel box sections where fatigue would have caused catastrophic failure. Those dangers don't compare, however, to the treatment inspectors got from passing drivers when lanes had to close to conduct the inspections: Three experts familiar with the bridge said Monday that the impediments faced by inspectors included piles of pigeon guano, poor lighting, road rage and spider webs that could be mistaken for metal cracks. A former MnDOT inspection supervisor told the Star Tribune that even the best inspectors had difficulty making a thorough evaluation of the I-35W bridge. Its sheer length, nearly 2,000 feet, was part of the problem, they said. .. State traffic engineers would close lanes on the bridge for the inspections, and most of the time the lane...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Ethics Bill Short On Enforcement

The Washington Post finally realizes that the new ethics bill passed by Congress has little chance of actually enforcing better standards of ethics. Their somewhat belated observation comes on page A11 of today's paper, where they note that the Democratic leadership not only didn't provide any new resources for enforcement, they put most of the onus for compliance on the lobbyists: Government watchdogs and ethics lawyers generally agree that the bill would shed new light on the Washington influence game but wonder how those who don't play ball would be found and punished. Without an effective bureaucracy for managing the flow of new disclosures provided by the law, they say, the legislation won't mean much. "This law will put a significant new burden on the ethics committees and the public disclosure offices in the House and Senate. They have to do more than sticking the reports in a filing cabinet,"...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Obligatory Beauchamp Post (Update: Reconsideration)

UPDATE VII: A couple of thoughts that I want to put to the top. First, McQ from QandO spoke about the issue on my CQ Radio show with King Banaian and me (at the 45-minute mark), and I found his argument -- and those of most of the commenters here -- compelling. I think I was more dismissive than I meant to be in the post below. I think this is a real story, and I'm glad that the milbloggers went after it, but as I told McQ, it seems like going after a squirrel with a bazooka. McQ rightly pointed out that it deters other squirrels from appearing! However, a few people have implied that I'm a hypocrite for sticking with the bridge collapse story. As many as thirteen people died in that collapse, and the infrastructure debate has policy and tax implications for the entire nation over the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Firewall Of Sanity Crumbles In Face Of Irrelevancy

Two years ago, the New York Times provided on-line readers with a strong disincentive to read their columnists. TimesSelect, which I called the Firewall of Sanity, charged $50 per year for people who just couldn't get enough of Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, Bob Herbert, and Frank Rich. Now the New York Post reports that Pinch Sulzberger has finally realized that he has marginalized his own columnists in an on-line universe (via Memeorandum): The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned. After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter. ... In July, The Post reported that insiders were lobbying to shut down the service. After...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Dr. Ken Thorpe, Chronic Disease

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll welcome Dr Ken Thorpe of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. Dr. Thorpe served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Policy in the Clinton administration, and his partner Mark McClellan ran the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the Bush White House. Together they believe that a serious effort at preventing and curing chronic disease will save over a hundred billion dollars a year in federal spending -- enough to solve the problem of the uninsured in America. I've posted links to coverage of this effort at Heading Right this morning -- be sure to read the background. In the second half of the show, we'll talk with my friend King Banaian of SCSU Scholars about the economics of the bridge collapse and MnDOT funding. As the country begins to debate infrastructure maintenance and funding, it helps to have St. Cloud State's...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Podcast: Bill Bennett Appearance

Earlier this morning, I got the chance to appear on Bill Bennett's national radio show. Many of you may have missed this since it came at 6:30 AM ET, but the show's producer was kind enough to send me an MP3 file of the segment. I've podcasted it here, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Not A Funding Issue, Part III

Once again, the media has brought up the issue of transportation funding as a cause of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, and once again the article itself contradicts the theme. The New York Times tries to paint the cause as a refusal to raise taxes -- but acknowledges that funding on transportation has hit all-time highs. Decisions on spending priorities and a desire to force change on an unwilling public has more to do with infrastructure maintenance: Even as the cause of the bridge disaster here remains under investigation, the collapse is changing a lot of minds about spending priorities. It has focused national attention on the crumbling condition of America’s roadways and bridges — and on the financial and political neglect they have received in Washington and many state capitals. Despite historic highs in transportation spending, the political muscle of lawmakers, rather than dire need, has typically driven where...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Darfur Intervention On Shaky Ground

The UN announced its deal to intervene in the Darfur a week ago, with the Security Council authorizing an anemic force of 26,000 troops with equally anemic rules of engagement. Now it looks like the force may get weaker yet or fail to coalesce at all. The UN cannot find 26,000 African troops, and the Sudanese government refuses to allow any other nations to contribute to the force: Sudan will have to accept non-African troops in a U.N.-authorized peacekeeping force for Darfur or face the prospect of new United Nations sanctions, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Although efforts will be made to ensure that Africa contributes a large percentage of the 26,000-strong mission, the continent does not have enough trained soldiers to fully staff the force and Sudan will be penalized unless it drops objections to non-African participation, said Andrew Natsios, the U.S. special envoy for Sudan. ... The...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 8, 2007

Why Aaron Is King

Barry Bonds broke the career home-run record held for 33 years by Henry Aaron last night, jolting number 756 out of the park at home in San Francisco. Bonds took a 3-2 pitch into the stands 435 feet away -- and extended a controversy as to whether he deserves the record: The ball exploded off Barry Bonds' bat, a small white sphere streaking through the dark San Francisco sky, headed for the right-center field seats and a hallowed place in baseball history. It was 8:51 Tuesday, a night no one in the sellout crowd of 43,154 at AT&T Park would ever forget, a night to be lived and relived by word of mouth, digital camera and endless reels of highlight tape. On a 3-and-2 pitch from Washington Nationals left-hander Mike Bacsik, Bonds, in his second game after tying Hank Aaron's career home run mark of 755, belted No. 756. In...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Inspection Reports Show Pier Changes

Inspection reports on the St. Anthony Bridge show one of the pier supports had shifted in 1996, and made numerous observations of cracks and fatigue in the approach spans in the years since. MnDOT repaired most of these, but the bridge continued to show more significant problems in the years approaching its devastating collapse: State bridge inspectors warned for nearly a decade before its collapse that the Interstate 35W bridge had "severe" and "extensive" corrosion of its beams and trusses, "widespread cracking" in spans and missing or broken bolts. Not only was the superstructure in poor condition, but certain components were "beyond tolerable limits," and one of the bridge's piers had "tilted to the north," they reported. By 2000, the inspectors wrote that "eventual replacement of the entire structure would be preferable" to redecking the bridge. They added: "If bridge replacement is significantly delayed, the bridge should be re-decked." That...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Gomery Retires

John Gomery, the jurist whose investigation into the Sponsorship Programme eventually brought down the man who appointed him to it, has decided to retire. Tomorrow he will celebrate his 75th birthday by riding off into the Canadian sunset, capping a long and illustrious career with a new commitment to clean government -- even if he took a rather authoritarian tone in doing so (via Newsbeat1): When John Gomery was named by Paul Martin to head the Adscam sponsorship inquiry in 2004, we were skeptical about how much he would accomplish. Under Jean Chretien, the Liberals became ex-pert at covering their tracks, and we feared that the pattern would continue under Mr. Martin. But that didn't happen. To Mr. Martin's great credit -- this fact is too often omitted when people dismiss the man's short prime ministerial tenure as a failure -- he gave Judge Gomery broad powers to get to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Split On The Left?

The Democratic failures to end the war in Iraq and to move against the Bush administration has opened a split on the Left, according to The Hill. Calling the leftist group MoveOn a shill for the Democratic Party, antiwar and other leftist activists have split from the group. They plan to lead attacks against Democrats in Congress in 2008: Congress’s failure to secure a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq has split anti-war activists on the tactical question of whether to attack Democrats, who now control Capitol Hill. The split has also underlined accusations among some activists that MoveOn has abandoned its credentials as an issue-based advocacy group and now instead provides cover for Democratic Party leaders. Anti-war activists throughout the country are united in spending August pressing lawmakers to bring U.S. troops home. But tensions within the movement have been bubbling for months over tactics and whether their...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Isn't That 72 In Blog Years?

Glenn Reynolds, one of the true pioneers in the blogosphere, celebrates the 6th anniversary of Instapundit today. Glenn launched this indispensable site just five weeks before 9/11, which puts his enormous influence today in an amazing context. He's made himself almost into a public utility in the blogosphere, which I'm almost certain may be more of a curse than a blessing for Glenn. HIs success inspired many of us to follow. Early in my blogging career, I struggled to find my own style, and someone suggested that I emulate Glenn. (If you go back to my first month of blogging, you'll see this pretty clearly.) In a very short period, I learned the error of that approach, and it reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Rudy. Robert Prosky, playing Father Cavanaugh, says, "Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

New York Times Delivers Coup De Grace To TNR

Despite the oddly-worded non-denial denial from the New Republic yesterday, the Army did determine that allegations made in its magazine by Scott Beauchamp were false. The New York Times reports this morning that their investigation showed no substantiation for Beauchamp's stories of petty mischief and ghoulish behavior on the part of his fellow soldiers: An Army investigation into the Baghdad Diarist, a soldier in Iraq who wrote anonymous columns for The New Republic, has concluded that the sometimes shockingly cruel reports were false. “We are not going into the details of the investigation,” Maj. Steven F. Lamb, deputy public affairs officer in Baghdad, wrote in an e-mail message. “The allegations are false, his platoon and company were interviewed, and no one could substantiate the claims he made.” ... Yesterday, The New Republic posted another note on its Web site saying its editors had spoken to Major Lamb and asked whether...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

No Free Lunches

Yesterday, I interviewed Dr. Ken Thorpe from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease on CQ Radio about the PFCD's efforts to fund preventive health care initiatives as a long-term cost saving initiative for Medicare and private insurance providers. The New York Times throws a dash of cold water on the underlying assumptions of the PFCD's claims today, claiming that preventive intervention will cost more in both the short and long run (via Memeorandum): The current health care system doesn’t pay hospitals, doctors and nurses to keep people healthy; it pays for tests, surgeries and drugs. So Americans often get expensive invasive care of dubious medical benefit while missing out on sensible basic care. Millions of other people go without any care for chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. If Medicare and private insurers paid for more preventive care, Americans would be healthier than they are today and live longer....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Claiming Reagan's Mantle?

Fred Thompson took another step in readying his campaign for its long-awaited launch on September 5th. He appointed Bill Lacy, a former Reagan advisor, to be "committee manager" and take full operational control over the campaign. Lacy has the long-term connections to the GOP that Tom Collamore lacked, some good history with Fred, and he also has the connections to the Republican Party's secular saint that Thompson needs: Bill Lacy, a former strategist for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and Republican National Committee, will run day-to-day operations of Thompson's committee to "test the waters" for a presidential run. "He turned around my campaign for Senate in 1994 and, as I move toward a decision on whether to run for president, I am confident he will take our operations to the next level," Thompson, the former Tennessee senator and "Law & Order" actor, said in a statement. "I'm here for the long...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Divestment For Thee ...

ABC News reports that a major benefactor to both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has ties to companies doing business with the Sudanese government currently committing genocide in Darfur. Despite Hillary's prescription for "moving quickly on divestment" to spur an end to the conflict in Darfur, Warren Buffet has no intention of selling his stock: Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have taken tough, conscientious stances against the genocidal Sudanese government and the companies which help fund it. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, America's second richest man, has not. In what activists are calling "a definite contradiction," Buffett -- whose estimated $3 billion in Sudan-linked holdings have been disparaged by anti-genocide watchdogs -- is helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the White House aspirants. Over the past several years, the Sudanese government has been widely accused of sponsoring the killing of more than 400,000 of its own...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Imagine There's No Headlines

Imagine, if you will, that two young Muslim men got arrested for carrying explosives in their car. Imagine that they got arrested within a few miles of a military base where terrorism detainees are being held. Imagine that their neighbors told reporters about deliveries of oxygen bottles with an unusual level of comings and goings for a couple of single men on their own. At Heading Right, I try to imagine why this very real incident isn't making national headlines. Don Surber has more as well....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Bill Paxon, Rob Bluey

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we have two great guests. First we'll talk to Bill Paxon, advisor to the Giuliani campaign, about Rudy's effort to adoption and "quality of life" for children. These policy efforts hope to answer concerns from conservatives about Rudy's more liberal position on abortion. If you have questions about that, call and ask them! In the second half, we'll welcome back my friend Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation, who will talk about the new FISA legislation. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link: UPDATE: Don't miss my appearance on Fausta's show from Monday! UPDATE II: Wildly off-topic, but congratulations to Michael van der Galien, who proposed in romantic Instanbul (no,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Georgia Ups The Ante

Georgia continues to press its claim that Russia violated its airspace and fired a missile that failed to explode. They now demand an emergency meeting of the Security Council, and they claim they can bring proof -- including the remnants of the missile: The Georgian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that radar records compatible with NATO standards showed that a Russian Su-24 jet had flown from Russia into Georgia and launched a missile, which did not explode. Investigators identified the weapon as the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars, the ministry said. The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of over 300 pounds of TNT, it said. Russia's air force has flatly denied that its planes had crossed into Georgia's airspace. ... The Gori region, where the missile was dropped, is next to South Ossetia. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of Russian peacekeepers patrolling South Ossetia, said...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Media Alert

I'm just going on air at A Newt One with John and Jimmy Z, another BlogTalkRadio show. Join us at 646-652-2670!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Prosecuting The Victim?

I hope that the AP somehow got this story wrong, because if they have it correct, the Air Force has some explaining to do. A woman who filed rape charges now faces related charges -- and the Air Force has given immunity to her attackers: A female airman says she faces a court-martial next month because she refused to testify against three male airmen she accused of rape. The woman is charged with one count of committing indecent acts and one count of consuming alcohol as a minor. The defense says the charges involve the same men she accused of raping her. ... The men received nonjudicial punishments and have been granted immunity for their testimony in the woman's trial, according to documents the defense provided. Can the Air Force really be this tone-deaf and clueless? If the woman consumed alcohol illegally, it pales in comparison to the alleged attack...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 9, 2007

Musharraf: No State Of Emergency

Rumors swirled yesterday that Pervez Musharraf would declare a state of emergency, postponing upcoming elections and ruling even further by decree to deal with the rise of radicalism in Pakistan. Agence France-Presse now reports that Musharraf has decided against that declaration, despite pressure from key aides to do so: Embattled President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday decided against imposing a state of emergency in Pakistan to cope with growing security and stability concerns, a senior government official told AFP. The military ruler, facing the greatest challenge to his leadership since he seized power in a 1999 coup, decided against the move -- which would have postponed next year's elections -- after conferring with aides, he said. "The president has rejected the suggestions to declare a state of emergency as proposed by his political allies," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Musharraf had been working towards a deal with former...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Raid Hotline In Southern California

Illegal immigrants are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it any more. Claiming that the government "terrorizes" illegal by arresting them, activists have set up a hotline in my old stomping grounds of Orange County, California to tip off illegals when and where the ICE will conduct raids on employers (h/t CQ reader Stoo): Responding to a refusal by city leaders to declare the city a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, more than a dozen people gathered outside City Hall on Monday night to denounce recent immigration raids, accusing federal officials of "terrorizing" immigrant communities and breaking up families. A coalition of local immigrant rights groups, including the Orange County Alliance for Immigrants Rights and the Front Against the Raids, announced a planned program to create a hot line that will notify people where and when immigration raids will take place. The program would also coordinate a support...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Outbreak At Pirbright Laboratory?

Investigators have focused on the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright as the suspected source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak this month in the UK. Now it appears that the lax security that infected animals in the area has allowed something more deadly to escape, and this time humans could be at risk: A reported case of Legionnaires' Disease with alleged links to the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright is being investigated by officials. The research centre is one of several locations being routinely assessed under national guidance which says every place a patient has visited in the days before falling ill should be investigated, the Health Protection Agency said. Environmental health inspectors have taken water samples from the Institute of Animal Health (IAH) after it was discovered a worker contracted the disease, the Guardian reported. Legionnaire's Disease kills people, not animals, and can be difficult to treat. I remember...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Gusset Plates And Heavy Weights

The investigation into the collapse of the St. Anthony Bridge has taken an intriguing and somewhat unexpected turn. The NTSB has issued an alert based on a potential design flaw that could have caused the catastrophic collapse -- and that no inspection would likely have caught: Federal officials investigating the Interstate 35W bridge disaster said Wednesday that they are looking at a possible design flaw in some of the steel plates under the bridge and issued an alert that added weight from construction work may have been a factor in its collapse. Opening a new window into last week's fatal bridge collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said that one of its areas of inquiry involves the design of steel connecting plates known as gusset plates; the material makeup of those plates; and the loads and stresses they bore. Hours later, Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters said the NTSB...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Poll: No New Gas Tax

It didn't take long for people to demand higher gas taxes after the collapse of the St. Anthony Bridge. One local crank managed to hold his water for an entire six hours before blaming Governor Tim Pawlenty and tax-restraint activists for killing people on the "death bridge" in the pages of the Star Tribune. It seems that old cranks are in the minority in Minnesota, however, as KSTP's new poll discovered (via Mitch and Freedom Dogs): Many politicians have called for the gas tax increase to shore up aging highways and bridges. "This is really a call to action and this is a duty that we need to fulfill on behalf of the memory of people who've lost their lives," House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. But so far, it appears most Minnesotans don't agree. Fifty-seven percent of people surveyed say the state should not increase the state gas tax....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Christmas Caucus?

The race for states to gain more influence in the primaries has intensified in South Carolina. In a decision that may give a 2007 start to the 2008 primary race, the state has bumped the Republican primary to January 19th, which may set off a domino effect that could push the Iowa caucus into the Christmas season. At Heading Right, I look at the reasons why this move will almost certainly force a December 2007 start to the 2008 primary race. What can we do to stop these games? We can ask the RNC and DNC to follow their rules and start punishing states who play them -- and we all know the best way to send that message....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Tiresome Smear Campaigns & More!

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll discuss the latest hit job on Fred Thompson. Not satisfied with the way the media have gone after Fred's wife, Santa Monica attorney Henry Reynolds bought a domain name similar to the campaign's -- and posted several links to the KKK and white supremacists. Fausta will join us to talk about this, and afterwards (or maybe simultaneously), Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot will join us to discuss this tiresome false-flag ploy. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Do As I Say, v2.0

The naivete sweepstakes continue in the Democratic presidential primary campaign. Hillary Clinton rightly scolded Barack Obama for effectively negating our nuclear deterrent by proclaiming them "off the table" earlier this month. While the Hillary campaign used that to show how inept Obama is at foreign policy, Fox News did a little digging (via Hot Air): Her views expressed while she was gearing up for a presidential run stand in conflict with her comments this month regarding Obama, who faced heavy criticism from leaders of both parties, including Clinton, after saying it would be "a profound mistake" to deploy nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "There's been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That's not on the table," he said. Clinton, who has tried to cast her rival as too inexperienced for the job of commander in chief, said of Obama's stance on Pakistan: "I don't believe that any president should make...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Progressive For Racist Smears? (Update: Progressive Wises Up A Little Late)

Note: the site in question is now Not Safe for Work or family viewing. See Update III. 5:15 -- Now safe; see update IV. It doesn't take long for provocateurs to crawl out of the woodwork to attack candidates, especially in stealth attacks. With Fred Thompson, they've apparently started before he officially enters the race -- and in one case, race is the operative word. Apparently hoping to confuse web surfers looking for Fred's website at www.imwithfred.com, a new site has appeared at www.imwithfred2008.com -- only this site welcomes people to the Ku Klux Klan, "Bringing a Message of Hope and Deliverance to White Christian America!" It includes links to a variety of disgusting racist sites. Who would post something like this as a smear on Fred Thompson? Someone a little too stupid to cover his tracks, possibly? A DNS search gives us an answer. The domain name, registered through...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The 2007 RePork Card

As fascinating as Henry "Goatsie" Reynolds is, we should get back to actual policy -- and thankfully, the Club for Growth has given us a good reason to do so. Earlier today, they released their RePork Card for Congress, evaluating the members based on their votes on anti-pork legislation. Overall, both parties failed, but one failed spectacularly. Want to guess which one? Even though the Democratic majority vowed to return Congress to a path of fiscal responsibility, the 2008 appropriations bills were stuffed with wasteful pork projects. While Representatives John Campbell, Jeff Flake, Jeb Hensarling, Scott Garrett, and David Obey (1 amendment) offered 50 amendments to strip outrageous pork projects from the appropriations bills, only one amendment, offered by Rep. Jeff Flake, passed. The Club for Growth has compiled a RePORK Card of all members' votes on all 50 anti-pork amendments (see below). "Taxpayers have a right to know which...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 10, 2007

Russian Military Bragging About Overflights

The Russian government continues its strange game of imperial ambitions, this time bragging about using Soviet-era bombers to overfly American-patrolled airspace. Moscow says it's reviving a grand tradition of Russian audacity by eyeballing American pilots. Americans say that Moscow is reviving a grand tradition of Russian baloney: Russian bombers are reported to have buzzed an American military base for the first time since the Cold War when they flew over the Pacific island of Guam. Moscow said that US fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the two Tupolev-95 warplanes as they resumed the Cold War era practice of flying over Western offshore military installations in a mission on Wednesday. ... "It was always the tradition of our long-range aviation to fly far into the ocean, to meet (US) aircraft carriers and greet (US) pilots visually," Maj Gen Pavel Androsov, the head of long-range aviation in the Russian air force, told...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

At What Price Unity?

Stu Bykofsky thinks he knows what ails America, and he's got the cure. What America needs most, Bykofsky writes in the Philadelphia Daily News, is unity -- as provided by our friends in al-Qaeda: ONE MONTH from The Anniversary, I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America. What kind of a sick bastard would write such a thing? A bastard so sick of how splintered we are politically - thanks mainly to our ineptitude in Iraq - that we have forgotten who the enemy is. It is not Bush and it is not Hillary and it is not Daily Kos or Bill O'Reilly or Giuliani or Barack. It is global terrorists who use Islam to justify their hideous sins, including blowing up women and children. Iraq has fractured the U.S. into jigsaw pieces of competing interests that encourage our enemies. We are deeply divided and division is weakness. Not only does...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Choosy News Consumers Mistrust Media

Pew Research has released its latest poll on media credibility, and newsrooms should take notice of the results. The industry has its lowest marks from its most sophisticated customers, but at least they have better credibility than Congress and the President. No, really: The American public continues to fault news organizations for a number of perceived failures, with solid majorities criticizing them for political bias, inaccuracy and failing to acknowledge mistakes. But some of the harshest indictments of the press now come from the growing segment that relies on the internet as its main source for national and international news. The internet news audience – roughly a quarter of all Americans – tends to be younger and better educated than the public as a whole. People who rely on the internet as their main news source express relatively unfavorable opinions of mainstream news sources and are among the most critical...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Thanks, Cindy

Nancy Pelosi has a challenger for her seat in Congress. Using a picture of her son on the podium, Cindy Sheehan announced her candidacy for Congress yesterday in San Francisco: Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, who gained international fame by camping outside President Bush's Texas ranch to protest the war in Iraq, announced Thursday that she would challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her seat in Congress. "The country is ripe for a change," said Sheehan, citing her son's death in Iraq in 2004 as inspiration for her long-shot bid to unseat the first female speaker in history. ... Sheehan admitted she has no funds for a campaign, but planned to immediately get started raising money. Without giving further specifics, Sheehan said she wouldn't accept money from corporations and would run on a platform of universal health care. Sheehan said she also wants to make college affordable and improve ethics in...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Foreshadowing Of Disaster In Cleveland?

Yesterday, I wrote about the NTSB's new interest in the gusset plates that held the St. Anthony Bridge's girders together as a possible cause of its collapse. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports today on a near-collapse of an Ohio bridge that started with construction work and ended with failed gusset plates eleven years ago (h/t: CQ commenter Mike): Two failed bridges. Two scarily similar scenarios. Last week, the Interstate 35W span over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed under the weight of rush-hour traffic and construction crews. Federal investigators now wonder whether the design of steel plates joining beams is to blame. Eleven years earlier, the eastbound I-90 bridge over the Grand River in Lake County failed. The reason: the same steel plates, called gussets. They had corroded, then buckled after crews blasted them during painting preparations. ... The spans are Warren truss bridges, made of diagonal compression members joined...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Project Letters From Home

Jim Cannon at Thinking Right has a new project and could use a lot of help -- and the best part is that the more we help, the more we support the troops. Picking up where Blackfive left off, Jim has decided to organize a letter-writing campaign to keep up morale in our fine fighting forces in the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. He wants to make sure every Marine in that battalion gets a personal letter from an American expressing our gratitude for the service he or she provides us. Jim has the contact information at his site, and perhaps we'll get Jim on today's CQ Radio show to discuss the project further. In the meantime, help Jim reach his goal of 1000 e-mails to those Marines....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Day 2: Henry Reynolds Still Silent

After yesterday's story about Santa Monica attorney Henry Reynolds and his Klan-promoting website, many people wondered whether Henry himself would ever contact me. As I wrote, I did call and leave a message at his law office, asking for comment on the story -- and I would have gladly included it in the original post. Instead, we heard nothing but silence as the MoveOn and DNC contributor changed his Fred Thompson smear site from a white-supremacist linkfest to a John Edwards donor plea, and then to a disgusting pornography portal, and finally to a Wiki homage to his old professor, Frederic Jameson, who taught at Reynolds' alma mater UC Santa Cruz. So far, I have not heard anything from Henry, and I doubt that I will. The frantic content switches and DNS registration changes tells me that Reynolds wants to distance himself from this fiasco at light speed. However, it's...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Dionne On The Democratic Capitulation

I enjoy E.J. Dionne’s columns in the Washington Post, even though he and I rarely agree. Besides giving great insight into the opposite side of the political divide, Dionne is just a good writer. In today’s column, he both deliberately and subconsciously reviews the surrender of the Democrats on FISA legislation. Not only does he correctly analyze the depth of the capitulation, he inadvertently shows its cause. At Heading Right, I dissect Dionne's narrative and analysis and look at the underlying problem with the Democrats in Congress. Why did they cave and legitimize a program they called an "abuse" in the 2006 election, and then put Alberto Gonzales in charge of it? There are only two answers for that, and neither reflect well on the modern Democratic Party....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Why Is Ellen Goodman Whining?

Some may see this post title as unnecessarily provocative, but it fits the Ellen Goodman column that the Boston Globe approved for print today. Goodman decries what she sees as an overabundance of Y chromosomes in the blogosphere, and pale Ys at that. She joins the voices of criticism that have arisen after the Yearly Kos convention about the lack of diversity among the attendees, and levels the same charges against the blogosphere as a whole: Last week, these progressive political bloggers not only attracted 1,200 to Chicago for the Yearly Kos convention, but made it a designated stop for seven out of the eight Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, there is another, less flattering way in which broadband has followed broadcast and the liberal political bloggers mimic the conservative talk-show hosts. The chief messengers are overwhelmingly men -- white men, even angry white men. I began tracking the maleness of this...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Mystery Guest!

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT) ... someone will join me to talk about the week in review. It could be Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson from the Hugh Hewitt show as usual, but he's traveling to Philly to toss out the first pitch in tonight's Phillies game. It could be NZ Bear of the Victory Caucus, to talk about the war effort and developments this week. It could be Jim Cannon of Thinking Right to talk about his new project for the Marines in the war zone. Or heck, it could be you! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! UPDATE: Also joining us was Chris Muir, the artist behind Day by Day, and Gary Gross on John Murtha -- don't miss the podcast... Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Bush To Congress: Prioritize Better

Perhaps George Bush reads the polls over at KSTP. Yesterday he told Reps. James Oberstar (D-MN) and Don Young (R-AK) that he would veto any gas-tax increase Congress passes until it reforms the way it appropriates money for transportation: President Bush said Thursday that he would be opposed to any steps by Congress to increasing the gasoline tax to raise revenues for national bridge repairs in the wake of Minneapolis' bridge collapse. "Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities," Bush said, accusing lawmakers of focusing on their own parochial concerns above such national concerns as bridge conditions. ... The president's comments came in response to an idea proposed by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who said the country has as many as 500 bridges of the same design...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

25 Years Ago Today

I've been reading The Reagan Diaries in fits and starts as other reading assignments take priority, but the personal point of view in this book fascinates me. Years ago, I read Winston Churchill's The Second World War, which gave the same point of view but with a retrospective narrative. This shows Reagan's reactions in real time, and it's intriguing. For instance, take a look at the entry for August 10, 1982, to see what's changed and what's pretty much stayed the same: Things continue to look better in the Middle East [Israel had invaded Lebanon that summer]. Met with Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres of the Labor party. He's quite a contrast to Begin and believes once the P.L.O. leaves Beirut Israel should leave Lebanon. Believes we must also resolve the Palestinian problem. Surprisingly, he wants us to continue befriending the Arabs and wants Jordan brought into the peace process...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Dirty Bomb Threat In New York

New York City has deployed radiological detectors throughout the subway system and at bridges and tunnels tonight in response to a threatened terrorist attack. The city has not raised its alert status yet, but the attack was specific for tonight (via One Jerusalem): New York city police increased security throughout Manhattan on Friday and at bridges and tunnels in response to what they called an "unverified radiological threat," but said the city's alert status remained unchanged. The New York Police Department said in a statement it has increased the deployment of radiological sensors on vehicles, boats and helicopters and had set up vehicle checkpoints in lower Manhattan and at bridges and tunnels. Police confirmed the increased security was in response to receiving information that a dirty bomb may go off around 34th street in Manhattan on Friday evening. The Empire State Building, New York City's tallest building, Madison Square Garden...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 11, 2007

Me And My Big Mouth

Last night, the First Mate and I went to dinner with old friends of ours from Marriage Encounter, longtime Minnesota residents who moved to Florida a couple of years ago. As Minnesotans often do, we started discussing the weather differences between here and there, and they told us that they live in a part of Florida that rarely gets hit by hurricanes, although they get strong winds from them as they dissipate. I remarked that we hadn't seen any damaging straight-line wind storms here in the Twin Cities since they'd left, knocking on the wood table for luck. Well, we didn't get it. Mere hours later, around 3:15 this morning, we woke up to a pounding at the house -- a real, honest-to-goodness Midwestern thunderstorm, complete with lightning and torrential winds and rain. Storm alarms rang all through the city, so we went downstairs to the basement and watched the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Feds Abandon ML King Hospital, State Kills It

Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles has one of the worst reputations in the nation among major metropolitan hospitals. In 2004, the Los Angeles Times ran a devastating exposé on the hospital, showing how federal funds went to waste in a mismanaged muddle that spent far more per patient than any other hospital in the area. Yesterday, the federal funding disappeared -- and so will MLK Hospital: Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital shut down its emergency room Friday night and will close entirely within two weeks, a startlingly swift reaction to a federal decision to revoke $200 million in annual funding because of ongoing lapses in care. The extraordinary developments mark an end to nearly four years of failed attempts to reform the historic institution, treasured by many African Americans as a symbol of hope and progress after the 1965 Watts riots. Los Angeles County health services director Dr....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Shocker: UN Troops Corrupt (Again)!

Well, the United Nations peacekeeping efforts have one undeniable quality: consistency. The Pakistani peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have moonlighted as security for gold smugglers. They also traded arms to one of the more notorious African militias to get their share (via Instapundit): The BBC has obtained an internal UN report examining allegations of gold smuggling by Pakistani peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It concluded that Pakistani officers provided armed escorts, hospitality and food to gold smugglers in east Congo. ... The Pakistani battalion at the centre of the claims was based in and around the mining town of Mongbwalu, in the north-east of the country, in 2005. They helped bring peace to an area that had previously seen bitter fighting between the Lendu and Hema ethnic groups. But witnesses claimed Pakistani officers also supplied weapons to notorious FNI militia commanders in return for gold....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Layers Of Editors, Part 37B

I believe it was sometime during the Rathergate debacle that mainstream media apologists insisted that blogs could never compete with newspapers in terms of quality because of the "layers of editors and fact-checkers" that bloggers didn't have. This guaranteed better quality, we were told -- and have been reminded of that ever since. That's why many of us will not hesitate for a moment to jump on Jon Henke's bandwagon at QandO this morning, as he discovers that Managing Editors need some extra layers in Cincinnati: During a debate among GOP presidential candidates on Sunday, Fred Thompson, though officially undeclared as a candidate, declared war on breast cancer. Thompson, a cancer survivor himself, drew on his family's experience to remind everyone of cancer's reach and our nation's need to fight to win. "My mother-in-law died of breast cancer, my mother. My wife has breast cancer. My young daughter has breast...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Deficit Drops, Revenues Up, Just In Time For Congress To Blow It

This probably won't get much attention in the media today, but new budget numbers show that George Bush's sunny deficit predictions were off the mark. It turns out that revenues are better and the deficit is smaller than predicted, and will likely balance much more quickly. That is, it would have until the Democrats decided to reverse the tax cuts that fueled the increased revenues: The federal deficit so far this budget year is running sharply lower, driven by record revenues pouring into government coffers. The Treasury Department reported on Friday that the government produced a deficit of $157.3 billion for the budget year that began last Oct. 1. That's a substantial improvement from the red ink figure of $239.6 billion produced for the corresponding 10-month period last year. ... The White House predicts that the deficit this year drop to $205 billion. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

TSP Cut By 75% In Earlier FISA Ruling

Now we know why the Democrats caved on the FISA adjustment earlier this month that allowed the warrantless surveillance to proceed at the NSA on international communications. The same reporters that blew the program's cover in December 2005 now report that a FISA decision earlier this year forced the NSA to get warrants on purely international calls that happened to pass through American telephony switches. That reduced surveilled traffic by 75%, which forced Congress to act: The prelude to approval of the plan occurred in January, when the administration agreed to put the wiretapping program under the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court is charged with guarding against governmental spying abuses. Officials say one judge issued a ruling in January that allowed the administration to continue the program under the court’s supervision. A ruling a month or two later — the judge who made it and its...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NARN, The Blow-Hard Edition

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line's John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station's Internet stream if you're outside of the broadcast area. Today, Mitch and I will review the week's stories. However, I want to note that Ron Paul's wife has had to go to the hospital in Iowa this morning during the Ames straw poll event. CQ readers know I'm not a big fan of Rep. Paul as a politician, but we should all pray for his wife to recover...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 12, 2007

Ames Poll Produces Winner -- And It May Not Be Romney

The Ames straw poll in Iowa has concluded in a racous day of policy and showmanship, and in the end the man who spent the most money in Iowa won the most votes. However, the real winner may be the man who spent nothing but time and effort in hopes of breaking out of the second tier: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney emerged on top at Iowa GOP’s straw poll Saturday in Ames. The win boosted the former Massachusetts governor’s standing as the party’s frontrunner in Iowa, although attendance at this first show of Iowa campaign strength appeared to fall short of expectations. ... Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had said his campaign’s future depended on a strong showing in Ames. He finished in second place, with 2,587 votes or 18.1 percent. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas placed third with 2,192 votes, 15.3 percent after campaigning aggressively to be the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Render Unto Caesar Was Social Justice?

Pope Benedict will produce on a new doctrinal announcement that will declare tax evasion a social injustice. The focus, says the Times of London, comes from a budget crisis in Italy, where avoiding taxes has become as much of the culture as good food and flirting. Outside of Italy, Catholics might wonder when rendering unto Caesar went from unpleasant necessity to honored status: Pope Benedict XVI is working on a doctrinal pronouncement that will condemn tax evasion as “socially unjust”, according to Vatican sources. In his second encyclical – the most authoritative statement a pope can issue – the pontiff will denounce the use of “tax havens” and offshore bank accounts by wealthy individuals, since this reduces tax revenues for the benefit of society as a whole. It will focus on humanity’s social and economic problems in an era of globalisation. Pope Benedict intends to argue for a world trade...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Engineers: Weight On Bridge Far Below Design Capacity

It takes a while for the Star Tribune to get to its buried lede in today's update on the St. Anthony Bridge collapse, but engineers have thrown more cold water on the theory that construction work caused the disaster. The story focuses on the fact that MnDOT and construction crews did not consider the effect of the extra weight on the bridge, but the story answers the question itself: As federal investigators continued to pursue evidence Thursday in the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, state officials said they had no reason to analyze the potential impact of resurfacing the bridge before authorizing that work. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) said it didn't need an analysis beforehand because the resurfacing work wouldn't add weight to the bridge. Construction officials and some engineers deny or doubt that the resurfacing contributed to the collapse of the steel deck truss bridge. However, an unusual...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Dream Or Nightmare? The Generalissimo Winds Up ....

How many of us, growing up as kids, dreamed of throwing out the first pitch at a major league baseball game? Granted, a lot of us dreamed of actually playing on the team, too, but being able to be on the field at all, taking part of a ritual shared by Presidents and prophets, rich and poor, all brought together by love of the national pastime, was a fantasy many of us played out in our heads as children. As an adult, though, that fantasy could easily turn into a nightmare. What happens if the ball doesn't make it to the plate? What if I trip and fall? What if I show up to school in my underwear just as the final exam finishes -- oh, wait, that's another nightmare. Our friend Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson had to face his dreams and nightmares in one of the least friendly confines in...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hidden Earmarks A Hallmark Of The 110th

When Democrats campaigned in the 2006 midterm elections, they promised to reform the pork-barrel practices of previous Congresses once they took control. They have certainly changed the process, but not in the manner they promised. Instead, for the second time this session, they have buried their earmarks and made accountability nearly impossible while using federal dollars to bolster their incumbencies (via Power Line): Despite promises by Congress to end the secrecy of earmarks and other pet projects, the House of Representatives has quietly funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to specific hospitals and health care providers under a bill passed this month to help low-income children. Instead of naming the hospitals, the bill describes them in cryptic terms, so that identifying a beneficiary is like solving a riddle. Most of the provisions were added to the bill at the request of Democratic lawmakers. One hospital, Bay Area Medical Center, sits...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

So Long Tommy, We Barely Knew You

After tonight, anyone writing about a presidential candidate named Thompson will not feel forced to use his first name. Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and Bush administration official, has withdrawn from the race tonight after a disappointing result in the Ames straw poll: Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson dropped out of the race for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination tonight, a day after he finished a disappointing sixth in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa. "I have no regrets about running," Thompson said in a statement released by his campaign. "I felt my record as Governor of Wisconsin and Secretary of Health and Human Services gave me the experience I needed to serve as President, but I respect the decision of the voters." Thompson is the first casualty of Saturday's Straw Poll. He had pledged to leave the race if he didn't finish first or second in the non-binding...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 13, 2007

Gaddafi Reneging On Nuclear Disarmament?

Moammar Gaddafi agreed to end his nuclear-weapons program in 2003 after Saddam Hussein's groveling surrender in a spider hole, a program that had developed enough to produce weapons-grade plutonium. American and British negotiators won the release of the hardware Saddam produced for the program, and the international community agreed to end its diplomatic isolation on the assurance that Gaddafi would come completely clean on its nuclear capabilities. The French went too far, offering two weeks ago to take Libya nuclear again -- and now it turns out that they don't need to do so: Nuclear experts claim that Libya is sitting on a stockpile of almost 200 barrels of uranium despite agreeing in 2003 to dismantle its nuclear programme, The Daily Telegraph has learned. The revelation that Libya allegedly has not yet complied with the international agreement to get rid of its supply of uranium will be a particular blow...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Huckabee A Threat To Fred?

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Mike Huckabee's surprisingly strong performance in Iowa and wonders whether conservatives might take a second look at the governor of Arkansas. Unlike Mitt Romney and Sam Brownback, Huckabee didn't bring busloads of supporters to Ames, nor did he spend vast amounts of money on the straw poll. Yet he managed to beat Brownback and steal Romney's thunder on the basis of a live performace of "Free Bird" and a large dose of conservative stumping: The biggest winner of Iowa Republicans' weekend straw poll of 11 presidential rivals may well turn out to be not Mitt Romney, whose first-place finish here was expected, but surprise runner-up Mike Huckabee, the guitar-picking former governor of Arkansas. Should Mr. Huckabee capitalize on his second-place showing here Saturday to get a second look from demoralized Republicans unhappy with their choices -- and to get much-needed funding --...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Democrats: We Fear Hillary

The nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President appears to be the most clear point in a murky primary. She has consistently led the field since the start of the year, and the Clinton political machine has trained for this moment for six years. Barack Obama's recent foreign-policy stumbles seem to have reversed his momentum, and no one else has the standing to challenge Hillary. Does that frighten Republicans? Not as much as it does Democrats, according to the AP's Ron Fournier: Looking past the presidential nomination fight, Democratic leaders quietly fret that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of their 2008 ticket could hurt candidates at the bottom. They say the former first lady may be too polarizing for much of the country. She could jeopardize the party's standing with independent voters and give Republicans who otherwise might stay home on Election Day a reason...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Time For A Change

The Republicans lost control of the House and Senate for the first time in twelve years in the last midterm elections. Voters sent the message in 2006 that massive spending increases and political corruption would not be tolerated. We thought that politicians would have listened to that message. Robert Novak, in his column today, explains that neither party's leadership has heard. Democrats need to clean their own house. At Heading Right, I call for Republicans to do the same. We cannot sit back and let Jeff Flake and John Campbell do all of the heavy lifting on porkbusting while GOP leadership in the House supports John Murtha and the Democrats on earmarking. If Republicans want to stand for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and clean public service, then they have to start producing leaders who fight for those principles rather than hypocritically using federal power to protect their own personal interests....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Sign Of Success

Major attacks in Iraq have dropped 50% since the start of the surge, USA Today reports. The majority of the improvement comes from the reduction of the al-Qaeda network in western Iraq, which has kept them from conducting large-scale operations: The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq. The high-profile attacks — generally large bombs hitting markets, mosques or other "soft" targets that produce mass casualties — have dropped to about 70 in July from a high during the past year of about 130 in March, according to the Multi-National Force — Iraq. Military officers say the decline reflects progress in damaging al-Qaeda's networks in Iraq. The military has launched offensives around Baghdad aimed at al-Qaeda sanctuaries and bases. "The...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

YouTube Debate Revived

CNN has rescheduled the YouTube debate for Republican presidential candidates for the week after Thanksgiving. Most of the field has committed to the debate, with the notable exception of Mitt Romney (via Memeorandum): The Republican Party of Florida, CNN and YouTube will announce Monday that the organizations' Republican presidential debate will be held on Nov. 28, two months before Sunshine State voters hold their gateway primary into "Super Tuesday." Originally, the three partners targeted Sept. 17 as the date for the debate that will feature video questions submitted by voters through YouTube. But some campaigns expressed concerns about the timing of the event and the debate partners worked to find an alternative date. .... (NYT) The campaigns of Rudolph W. Giuliani and Senator John McCain have signed on, according to CNN, which will broadcast the event. CNN said it had not heard from Mitt Romney, who has been critical of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Rove Hits The Road (Update & Bump)

The Karl Rove era will come to a close at the end of this month, as George Bush's key aide has told the Wall Street Journal he will return home to spend time with his family. For any other departure, that would sound like a euphemism for "I got canned". For Rove, who has served as Bush's effigy for many of his critics, the wonder is how he managed to put up with the abuse for so long: Mr. Rove, who has held a senior post in the White House since President Bush took office in January 2001, told Mr. Gigot he first floated the idea of leaving a year ago. But he delayed his departure as, first, Democrats took Congress, and then as the White House tackled debates on immigration and Iraq, he said. He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The New Terrorists

Molotov cocktails left on doorsteps. Bombs placed under cars at the homes of targets. Death threats in public communiques. Are these new tactics for al-Qaeda or Hezbollah? In fact, they're part of the new offensive by animal-rights activists targeting the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, and only incompetence has kept them from scoring their first kill (via Mitch): THE HOME OF DR. ARTHUR ROSENBAUM isn’t hard to find. He lives a few blocks south of Sunset Boulevard, near the UCLA campus, in a white two-story house with a front yard jammed with aspen trees. There is a short driveway on the side of the home, and during the evening, a bright, white light illuminates the carport. If someone wants to sabotage the doctor’s car under the cover of night, a flashlight isn’t needed. On Sunday, June 24, just that kind of person struck. Rosenbaum, a highly regarded pediatric ophthalmologist...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Rove Resigns, Huckabee Ascends

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll be talking about two topics -- the results of the Ames poll in Iowa and the resignation of Karl Rove. We'll have Rick Moran of Pajamas Media with us for both topics and discuss his provocative column this morning on Rove. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! That includes you, too, Karl .... Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fast Track On Replacement Bridge

Minnesota's MnDOT has already decided on a conceptual bridge design and will attempt to fast-track the replacement for the St. Anthony Bridge. Rather than go through the normal process of vetting designs and then contracting for the construction, the bridge will be designed and built almost simultaneously -- leading some to wonder if the state may be rushing a little too fast: Little is known about the next Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge, but what officials do know is that the new span over the Mississippi River will go up fast. Real fast. An official told the Associated Press today that a preliminary design already has been selected, but would not give details. ... Under a more routine construction timeline, Beckel said, design work -- drawing up and reviewing plans, pulling permits and talking with agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep them abreast of developments --...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fred's Team On Rove: Enjoy The Retirement

No sooner did Karl Rove announce his retirement than some people started speculating that he would hitch his wagon to another presidential campaign. At Radar, Ray Gustini called Fred Thompson's spokesman and former Rove aide Mark Corallo to ask if the Fred team had cleared a desk for Rove. Not exactly: Asked about the prospect of a Rove-run campaign, former Rove spokesman and current Thompson spokesman (ahem) Mark Corallo tells Radar, "I really don't think Karl Rove is going to have anything to do with any campaign in 2008... I talked to him today, and we shared some e-mails and I told him, 'Enjoy your time with your family and take care of [your wife] Darby.'" Rove has proven himself invaluable to the Bush administration, and if anyone would consider asking Rove to join, it would be Fred. He's already defended Scooter Libby and helped him raise funds for his...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Maybe Men Are More Forgettable

Surveys taken around the world about sexual habits of men and women all have one thing in common: men claim to have more sex partners over a lifetime than women. Supposedly, this reflects a primal urge for procreation. Men act promiscuously while women act more to provide a family unit for children. There's only one problem with this explanation. It doesn't add up -- literally: One survey, recently reported by the federal government, concluded that men had a median of seven female sex partners. Women had a median of four male sex partners. Another study, by British researchers, stated that men had 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes and women had 6.5. But there is just one problem, mathematicians say. It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women. Those survey results cannot be correct. ... Sex survey researchers say they know that...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CBS: Rudy Strengthens His National Polling Lead

This post will need multiple disclaimers. First, the CBS poll has had sampling issues in the past, and this one has a relatively small sample of Republican voters (only 302 respondents). Second, national polls do tell an important story, but not as important as state-by-state polling. Third, this poll got conducted over a weekend, which tends to skew polls more to the center and left. Given that, CBS reports that Giuliani continues to strengthen his lead, and Fred Thompson may be falling back: According to a new CBS News poll out Monday, Rudy Giuliani retains a significant lead nationally among Republican primary voters in the race to become the party’s presidential nominee. In all, 38 percent of Republican primary voters favor the former New York City mayor, a slight increase from last month. Senator-turned-actor Fred Thompson is next; he's favored by 18 percent of Republican primary voters, a seven-point drop...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 14, 2007

'This Is The News The World Doesn't Hear'

Der Spiegel has reflected and led overwhelming German opposition to the war in Iraq practically from the moment of the invasion in 2003. They have often featured George Bush on their cover in unflattering pictures and with negative headlines such as "Power and Lies", an issue last year in which they declared Iraq lost. However, they finally sent their own reporter for an in-depth tour of Iraq, and the magazine realizes that the world media has missed the story (via Medienkritik): Since June, Ramadi residents have only known the war from televison. Indeed, US military officials at the Baghdad headquarters of Operation Iraqi Freedom often have trouble believing their eyes when they read the reports coming in from their units in Ramadi these days. Exploded car bombs: zero. Detonated roadside bombs: zero. Rocket fire: zero. Grenade fire: zero. Shots from rifles and pistols: zero. Weapons caches discovered: dozens. Terrorists arrested:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Reminder Of Inhumanity

Yesterday had a special and chilling significance for the people of Berlin. Forty-six years ago, the East German government started construction on the barrier that would become the Berlin Wall, a structure that stood for decades to keep communism's victims inside the Soviet-sponsored prison that was East Berlin. That characterization appears especially apt with the discovery yesterday of a seven page order that shows for the first time that the regime gave explicit shoot-to-kill orders to its guards -- and included women and children in the directive: Now, coinciding with the 46th anniversary of the start of construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961, a seven-page document has surfaced in an archive of Stasi files that contains an explicit firing order. It was issued to a special team of Stasi agents tasked with infiltrating regular units of border guards to prevent their colleagues from defecting. "It is your...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Micro-Lesson On Appeasement

Rudyard Kipling understood the futility of appeasement. In his poem "Danegeld (AD 980-1016)", he wrote the oft-quoted words, "once you have paid him the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane." Now appeasement has a more modern lesson, thanks to a woman in Brunswick who thought she could outwit burglars by giving what they wanted: A cottage owner in Germany tried to ward off burglars by leaving canned foods on her doorstep, but robbers found the offerings so tasty that they broke into the house to get second helpings, German police said on Tuesday. The woman who owns the cottage and adjacent garden in Brunswick, western Germany, had left a note for potential burglars not to bother breaking into her cottage but to help themselves to the canned foods on her doorstep, police said. "The polite appeal that they treat themselves apparently just increased the appetite of the hoodlums,"...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Are The Wheels Coming Off For Obama?

The primary campaign has turned into a very long dance for Barack Obama, who seems determined to prove at every opportunity that he has two left feet. In New Hampshire, Obama told a crowd that the US military effort consists mainly of "air raiding villages and killing civilians" -- which his tone-deaf campaign confirmed moments later to reporters (via The Corner): Obama defended his push to prosecute a tougher military effort to root out al-Qaida on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, which drew criticism from primary rivals for sounding too bellicose. “Now you have narco drug lords who are helping to finance the Taliban, so we’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there,’’ Obama said. Campaign spokesman Reid Cherlin said Obama was not endorsing the current Bush...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

She's Got 2 Million Little Secrets

The Clinton Presidential Library holds an estimated two million documents relating to Hillary Clinton's activities as First Lady -- a record on which she has explicitly based her campaign for the presidency. She has a page dedicated to it on her campaign web site. Her mantra, "strength and experience", rests on her tenure in the White House. So why won't the Clinton library open these records to the public? The Los Angeles Times reports that the presidential library won't release them until after the 2008 election. At Heading Right, I note the contradiction of a candidate running on a record she won't publicly release, even though other First Ladies have been more forthcoming with their papers....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Reaping And Sowing -- In The Same Field

The mainstream media that has taken to pillorying the departing Karl Rove essentially for playing its own game now decries the natural evolution from its own outrage. A federal judge has ruled that journalists must reveal sources for an article that smeared a government bioterrorism expert and falsely reported him to be the prime suspect in the anthrax attacks -- and this courtroom should provide familiar surroundings (via Michelle Malkin): Five reporters must reveal their government sources for stories they wrote about Steven J. Hatfill and investigators' suspicions that the former Army scientist was behind the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, a federal judge ruled yesterday. The decision from U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton is yet another blow to the news industry as it seeks to shield anonymous sources who provide critical information -- especially on the secret inner workings of government. ... In lengthy depositions in the case,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Why The Ethics Bill Is A Joke (Update: Why Bush Won't Veto It)

How bad is the ethics bill that the Democrats just pushed through Congress? Even lobbyists have started to point out its loopholes to the Washington Post. Under the new rules, Representatives and Senators will no longer be able to accept free meals -- unless the lobbyist also provides money for their re-election at the meal. No, I'm not kidding: Activists on the reform side of the lobbying debate have been celebrating that Congress finally got around to passing an ethics bill. The question is: Should voters celebrate as well? Paul A. Miller, a former president of the American League of Lobbyists, thinks the hoorahs should be muted, and he has a point. The legislation bars lobbyists from providing meals and gifts to lawmakers, a provision long sought by the advocates of change as a way to keep well-heeled interests from buying their way into the hearts of decision-makers. But Miller...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Guess Who's Coming Back To The Dial?

I wonder if ABC got Al Sharpton's endorsement on this decision. Don Imus, whose racially-charged description of the Rutgers womens' basketball team not only got him fired but started a backlash against rap music, has reached an accommodation with CBS that will bring him back to the airwaves on its rival station: Don Imus has reached a settlement with CBS over his multimillion-dollar contract and is negotiating with WABC radio to resume his broadcasting career there, according to CBS and a person familiar with the negotiations. Imus and CBS Radio "have mutually agreed to settle claims that each had against the other regarding the Imus radio program on CBS," the network said in a statement Tuesday. ... CBS confirmed only that the settlement had been reached. The person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press that Imus is taking steps to make a comeback with WABC. The person, who...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Rep. Pete Hoekstra, Steve Forbes

We have a great show lined up for today! Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) joins us to discuss the FISA legislation just passed by Congress -- and threatened again by Nancy Pelosi. The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee will bring us up to date on why the legislation was needed, and how it is at risk now. In the second half of the show, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes will talk to us about his role in the Giuliani campaign, and what the Mayor intends to do about tax policy. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! BUMP: To top, and to link to NZ Bear's post at the Victory Caucus, in which administration officials told him that Iran's influence has grown among the insurgents. Be sure to read the whole thing. UPDATE II: Great show -- I may have excerpts up...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Big Dig Official To Run Bridge Rebuild

I guess we can call it the Big Bridge, but that may hit too close to home for J. Richard Capka, the federal highway official tapped by the Department of Transportation to run the Minneapolis bridge rebuilding project. Capka got terminated from that ill-starred project in 2002 and has remained a controversial figure ever since: The federal highway official responsible for the rebuilding of the collapsed Interstate 35W bridge was dismissed in 2002 as chief executive of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority after his leadership of Boston's controversial "Big Dig" tunnel project came under fire. J. Richard Capka, the nation's federal highway administrator and a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, arrived in the Twin Cities on Monday night in preparation for the first public meeting today on the design and construction of the new bridge. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and state transportation officials say they are determined...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hoekstra On Fire Over FISA

If you missed today's edition of CQ Radio, then you missed an opportunity to hear Rep. Pete Hoekstra give an impassioned explanation of the need for the recently passed FISA legislation -- and the need to make it permanent. Here are a few of the points you missed: On Nancy Pelosi's vow to have Democrats revisit FISA after the August recess: "They've so demagogued this bill ... It's consistent with the other things Democrats are doing on a national intelligence basis and a national security basis. You know, they may decide to extend the civil liberties protections that Americans have to foreign terrorists." (08:10) Wasting intel resources: "They've asked the intelligence community to do a national intelligence estimate, which requires a lot of resources out of the intelligence community, on global warming." (08:20) On the supposed attack on civil liberties from the FISA legislation: "Ed, excuse me, if the Speaker...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The AP's 'Fact' Check

The Associated Press issued a pretentious "fact check" to counter the so-called "spin" around Barack Obama's statement earlier today that the Bush policy in Afghanistan was to bomb villages and civilians. His campaign confirmed Obama's analysis of the Bush policy, which Obama spokesman Reid Cherlin said consisted "solely of air raids and bombing of civilians." Here's the AP' Nedra Pickler and her version of a fact check: A check of the facts shows that Western forces have been killing civilians at a faster rate than the insurgents have been killing civilians. The U.S. and NATO say they don't have civilian casualty figures, but The Associated Press has been keeping count based on figures from Afghan and international officials. Tracking civilian deaths is a difficult task because they often occur in remote and dangerous areas that are difficult to reach and verify. Well, no one said civilians had not gotten killed....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 15, 2007

ABC: 'Clusters' Of Homegrown Terrorists Greatest Threat

ABC News reports that the greatest terrorist threat to the American homeland does not come from the Middle East, but from the Northeast. The report by the New York Police Department's Intelligence Bureau appears to conflict with an FBI analysis that considered the home-grown threat minimal, but provides the names of the mosques and prisons where the risk is greatest: U.S. law enforcement officials say they have identified more than two dozen "clusters" of young Muslim men in the northeast United States who are on a path that could lead to homegrown terror, ABC News has learned. "Any one of those clusters may be capable of carrying out a terrorist action that will result in fatalities," Rand Corporation terrorism expert Brian Jenkins tells ABC News. In a report to be made public today, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly concludes the 9/ll attacks were an "anomaly" and the most...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Must Be Pon Farr

As longtime CQ readers know, my nickname came from the period in my life when I was a Star Trek fan. I don't think I qualified as a Trekkie; I never attended a convention, and the only outward sign of my Trekophilia was my personalized license plate and its "Carship Enterprise" frame. I also dated, had a life, and got married. Now Trekkies want to do the same, and a new dating service promises to take them where few of the men have gone before: By day, 28-year-old Scott Josephson is an educational software writer. By night, or during any of his free time for that matter, he is a Trekkie. In fact, Josephson's obsession with "Star Trek" has evolved to such a degree that he is now attempting to watch all the TV episodes, from the original version all the way through "Enterprise" — in chronological order. But "Star...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Death Penalty For The Man Who Didn't Kill

Texas will execute Kenneth Foster on August 30th for the murder of a man whom prosecutors acknowledge was killed by someone else. Foster's crime? He agreed to participate in armed robberies and did with two incidents, but the murder occurred extemporaneously at another, unplanned place. Is this execution fair? It's certainly legal: Kenneth Foster Jr. is scheduled to be executed in Texas later this month for the murder of Michael LaHood, even though everybody -- even the prosecutors -- knows Foster did not kill the man. Mauriceo Brown, who has admitted to shooting LaHood to death in August 1997, was executed last year, but barring an unlikely 11th-hour commutation from Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole, Foster will meet the same fate on Aug. 30. On the night of Aug. 14, 1997, Foster, Brown, DeWayne Dillard, and Julius Steen were drinking and smoking marijuana when...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Iranian Military Terrorists: US

The Bush administration will designate the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces, the mainstay of the Iranian military, as a terrorist organization. Its involvement with American enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan and material support of other terrorists such as Hezbollah led to the decision. It's the first time a state military force has received this designation, and it will likely create a great deal of controversy: The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances. The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Petraeus To Recommend Pullback

Both sides of the Iraq War debate have waited impatiently for the September report of General David Petraeus. The war's advocates expect the General to report success in the surge strategy and are poised to fight for continued commitment, while the war's opponents plan to counter that with demonstrations and demands for withdrawal. According to the Los Angeles Times, Petraeus' actual recommendations may surprise both sides: Intent on demonstrating progress in Iraq, the top U.S. general there is expected by Bush administration officials to recommend removing American troops soon from several areas where commanders believe security has improved, possibly including Al Anbar province. According to the officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress, when both the war's critics and supporters plan to reassess its course. Administration officials who support the current troop levels hope Petraeus' recommendations will persuade...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

No Time To Investigate Treason?

The Washington Times reports that the immigration service has failed to investigate employees who allegedly have assisted radical Islamists in gaining false identification so that they can conduct terrorist activities here in the US. An internal report claims that a lack of resources has kept the USCIS from conducting proper investigations, but the severity of the crimes and their consequences should have demanded some reprioritization (via CQ reader Stoo): A criminal investigations report says several U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees are accused of aiding Islamic extremists with identification fraud and of exploiting the visa system for personal gain. The confidential 2006 USCIS report said that despite the severity of the potential security breaches, most are not investigated "due to lack of resources" in the agency's internal affairs department. "Two District Adjudications Officers are allegedly involved with known (redacted) Islam terrorist members," said the internal document obtained by The Washington...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Giuliani: No Palestinian State Without Recognition Of Israel

Rudy Giuliani took a hard turn to the right on foreign policy yesterday in an essay published in Foreign Affairs magazine. As Eli Lake reports for the New York Sun, Giuliani eschewed almost two decades of American efforts towards a two-state solution and demanded Palestinian compliance with lawful governance before proceeding any further on their national ambitions: The election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories is a case in point. The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance. The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood. Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians -- negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Rove Kidnap Kurtz? Did The MSM?

I have to admit to being a regular reader of Howard Kurtz' Media Notes columns. He writes probing critiques of the mainstream media and of the blogosphere, one of only a handful of media critics who understand both arenas. Whenever a major story breaks, Howard Kurtz usually covers the coverage like no one else. Except now. Just hours after Howard's last column, Karl Rove resigned from the Bush Administration, probably the biggest political story of the year. Everyone has written about this and offered their viewpoints on the meaning of Rove and his resignation. Rona Barrett probably had something to say about it. And ever since, Howard Kurtz has remained ... silent. I suspect a Rovian plot to keep Howard from revealing all he knows about the soon-to-be former Bush aide. Or perhaps, a conspiracy among media outlets has kept Howard locked in an old film room, surrounded by tapes...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Happiness Dictator!

Hugo Chavez will push through an end to term limits on an elected office in Venezuela, not coincidentally his own. The change will allow Venezuelans the pleasure of electing him indefinitely, which he sees as critical to his nation's "happiness", if not his own: President Hugo Chávez will unveil a project to change the Constitution on Wednesday that is expected to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, a move that would enhance his authority to accelerate a socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society. The removal of term limits for Mr. Chávez, which is at the heart of the proposal, is expected to be accompanied by measures circumscribing the authority of elected governors and mayors, who would be prevented from staying in power indefinitely, according to versions of the project leaked in recent weeks. Willian Lara, the communications minister, said Mr. Chávez would announce the project before the National Assembly, where all...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Victory Caucus, Petraeus Report, And Activism

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll be talking with our friend NZ Bear of the Victory Caucus, to talk more about their expansion of the effort. The Victory Caucus is looking for state coordinators to work with local bloggers to get out the support for the war effort. We'll talk about the FISA legislation and yesterday's interview with Rep. Pete Hoekstra, and much much more! Patrick Hynes joins us from Ankle Biting Pundits to review the departure of Karl Rove and whatever else comes up... Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hostaging For Dummies

Apparently it takes a lot of instruction for terrorists to conduct a successful kidnapping. Accordingly, jihadists set up a website in Texas to instruct their minions and wanna-bes on how to prepare for abduction and hostaging. MEMRI gives the Cliff Notes version (via the Jawa Report and Memeorandum): The popular Islamist-jihadist forum www.alhesbah.org, hosted by RealWebHost in Texas, U.S., recently posted an anonymously written document from 2003 titled "The Excellent Summary of the Rules of the Art of Kidnapping Americans." The 60-page guide describes each stage of the kidnapping, explaining how to select the target and then how to follow him, seize him, transport him to a safe location, and hold him there, as well as how to conduct negotiations. The guide also explains how to execute the hostage should negotiations fail. ... Next, the guide explains how to transport the hostage to the hideout. It recommends using a vehicle...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

No Cold Turkey On Alaskan Pork

The Hill reports that Alaskans have begun to push back against their pork kings, Senator Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans. Young ironically holds an annual pig roast every summer as a fundraiser, and this year porkbusting picketers turned out in large numbers to protest their abuse of the earmarking process and resulting corruption allegations. That may still not convince enough Alaskans to toss them from office, though, as Stevens and Young have spread the addiction to sufficient numbers of constituents: About 75 protesters, crying “Oink! Oink!” and “FBI! FBI!” gave Young, Alaska’s two senators and their supporters a shockingly poor reception at last week’s fundraiser. When Young held a public picnic on Monday, the protesters were back, wearing swine masks and waving angry signs. More than 3,600 miles from the Capitol, one thing is clear: Young and Sen. Ted Stevens (R) are in political as well as...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Stupid Media Tricks

A number of blogs have already hit this, so let me jump on the bandwagon and post about the cluelessness Agence France Presse demonstrated in posting this picture and caption: What's the most obvious conclusion one can draw from this picture? The bullets have never been fired. The actual bullet portions are the tips of these cartridges; the casings themselves have the powder which creates the fire that propels the bullets through the barrel of the rifle and out towards the target. I explain it that carefully because AFP's photographer clearly doesn't know one end of the rifle from another. Neither, for that matter, do AFP's Layers of Editors and FactcheckersTM. Anyone who has ever fired a rifle, or seen one fired, would have immediately known the difference. The abject failure to comprehend the basic fact that these bullets could not possibly have been shot through a wall into the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another AFP Scoop In The Making

A middle-aged Minnesota man shows two pieces of currency which he says hit his house following a pork-filled appropriation process by Congress this summer, in the predominantly conservative Twin Cities suburb of Eagan. I'll allow AFP the rights to this picture and caption. After all, it would be newsworthy and accurate, since it just quotes me without actually determining whether what I said was a load of horse puckey. UPDATE: Flip tops me here. Do not sip your coffee before clicking; management will not be responsible for damage to your monitor....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Happy Anniversary, BlogTalkRadio!

Today is the first anniversary of Blog Talk Radio -- and we have a special anniversary show for our hosts to talk about what makes BTR so special. I'm calling in now, and I'll be on until 9 pm CT. Be sure to listen!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

New Assault On Tora Bora

The US has launched a new assault on Tora Bora tonight, partnering with Aghan soldiers in the region where al-Qaeda had once been based. The reasons for the new attack was not clear, although the Pentagon told reporters that the area has the ability to hide militant bases: Hundreds of US and Afghan soldiers have returned to launch a new attack on the last known hideout of the fugitive al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. They have launched an air and ground assault in the Tora Bora region, near the border with Pakistan. .... A US military spokeswoman, Captain Vanessa Bowman, said the assault was launched against targeted positions: "The targets were carefully chosen to pinpoint enemy positions and eliminate the likelihood of harming innocent civilians." "This region has provided an ideal environment to conceal enemy support bases and training sites, as well as plan and launch attacks aimed at terrorizing...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 16, 2007

The Maltese Falcon

The widow of Yasser Arafat has apparently made herself persona non grata among her late husband's fans. In fact, Suha Arafat has managed to get herself kicked out of every place she's landed so far. As the Telegraph reported yesterday, she's running out of options -- but not out of cash: Suha Arafat - the widow of the Palestinian leader - who enjoys a reputation for lavish living, has been stripped of her citizenship in her adopted home of Tunisia and forced to leave the country amid allegations that she secretly married the president's brother-in-law. Tunisian officials said yesterday that the 44-year-old widow, who was 34 years younger than Yasser Arafat, had moved to Malta where she is living with her Palestinian brother. According to one official source she was stripped of her "moral and material rights". It is not clear if this includes her bank accounts, widely rumoured to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Rove On Rove On Rush

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh interviewed Karl Rove for thirty minutes in what may have been one of the more revealing moments in Rove's public life. Rove doesn't like to talk about himself; he even prefaced the interview by insisting that he's no good at navel-gazing. Rush managed to get Rove engaged in discussing how his experience differed from the narrative constructed by the media, which generated this retort: RUSH: ... You've been the brunt of all kinds of assaults and attacks, personally and otherwise, along with the president. How do you guys deal with it? KARL ROVE: Rush, you ignore it. I mean, if you have to wake up in the morning to be validated by the editorial page of the New York Times, you got a pretty sorry existence. So the best thing you could do is just ignore it, plow on, stay focused. The president is very good about...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Pakistan Provided Military Support To The Taliban

Pakistan has insisted since 9/11 that it never provided military support to the Taliban before that date, let alone afterwards. Pervez Musharraf insists that Pakistan only provided diplomatic recognition and economic ties to the oppressive regime until the US ejected them from Afghanistan after the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington. The Guardian reports that Musharraf may have lied through his teeth to save his rear end: The Pakistani government gave substantial military support to the Taliban in the years leading up to the September 11 attacks, sending arms and soldiers to fight alongside the militant Afghan movement, according to newly released US official documents. Islamabad has acknowledged diplomatic and economic links with the Taliban but has denied direct military support. The US intelligence and state department documents, released under the country's freedom of information act, show that Washington believed otherwise. The suspicion has lingered that some elements of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Ongoing Futility Of UN Peacekeeping

Last year, the world rushed to expand the UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon as a resolution to the Israeli-Hezbollah war that the terrorists initiated last summer. Of course, the previous UNIFIL force had allowed Hezbollah to arm themselves to the teeth with missiles, rockets, and the entire spectrum of guns, thanks to Syria. Hezbollah forces even dug in next to UNIFIL positions, which UNIFIL never actively opposed, and it resulted in several deaths from an Israeli counterattack. Now Israel wants better rules of engagement for UNIFIL forces so that they can actually fulfill their mandate of enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which forbids arms to Hezbollah in the region -- and the UN responded with its usual futility: The UN Security Council will reportedly reject an Israeli request to expand UNIFIL's mandate in southern Lebanon against Hizbullah. An official Security Council vote on the matter is scheduled to take...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Subsidizing Sex In Siberia?

Well, actually in Ulyanovsk, but do you know how difficult it is to use alliteration with Ulyanovsk? Via Jules Crittenden, the Boston Herald catches up with the latest government program in Russia, where Vladimir Putin has to bribe his fellow Russian to procreate. Make babies -- win great prizes! And even the runners-up to the parenting contest get lovely parting gifts. At Heading Right, I remind people that demographics is destiny, and Russia has had some unique issues with population growth. They're not the only ones with problems in that regard, and the rest of the West may not be laughing in the near future....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

What's The Rush?

DFL legislators questioned the "frenzied rush" to replace the St. Anthony Bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis two weeks ago. In a joint Transportation Committees hearing, MnDOT management got the message that the state legislature wants to get a better idea of why the first bridge collapsed before building its replacement, and also to ensure that the replacement meets traffic needs for the next several decades: State transportation officials were repeatedly told by DFL legislators Wednesday to put the brakes on their fast-track plans to replace the collapsed I-35W bridge and concentrate instead on making sure the new bridge is safe and meets the needs of Minnesotans for decades to come. "I'm going to need a lot of assurances that building it fast equals building it right," said Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope. "And I'm not there yet." She was one of three dozen members of the Joint House and Senate...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Gallup: Obama Won't Win Nomination By Appealing To Intellect

This has to be the headline of the political season. A Gallup Poll analysis shows Barack Obama heading for the rocks because of his narrow appeal to educated Democrats. The headline reads, "Obama's Appeal to Well-Educated Not Conducive to Winning Nomination," and Gallup warns that only one Democratic candidate has won the nomination in the past generation while winning that demographic: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is a clear second place behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, but he is highly competitive with Clinton among the most educated segment of the party. That appeal may be one reason he has met or surpassed Clinton's fundraising totals despite not gaining much ground in voter support this year -- well-educated Americans tend to have greater income. An analysis of historical Gallup Poll data on rank-and-file Democrats' nomination preferences shows that at least one candidate has...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fred The Fearless?

David Broder sat down for a cup of coffee with America's most anticipated primary-race entrant, Fred Thompson, to talk about why Fred wants to run for President at all. He had a great gig at Law and Order, the one television series that has its own retirement plan and subsidiaries. He has a new family and plenty of money to spend the rest of his days relaxing on his Tennessee porch, if he so desired. So why run? "There's no reason for me to run just to be president," he said. "I don't desire the emoluments of the office. I don't want to live a lie and clever my way to the nomination or election. But if you can put your ideas out there -- different, more far-reaching ideas -- that is worth doing." Thompson, like many of the others running, has caught a strong whiff of the public disillusionment...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Verdict Reached In Padilla Case (Update: Guilty)

A federal jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Jose Padilla, the accused "dirty bomb" terrorist whose case called into question the tactics of the Bush administration in fighting the war on terror. The announcement will come at 2 pm ET in Miami (via Michelle Malkin): A verdict was reached Thursday in the trial of Jose Padilla and two co-defendants charged with supporting al-Qaida and other violent Islamic extremist groups overseas. The jury verdict was scheduled to be read at 2 p.m. EDT before U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami's downtown federal courthouse, according to an announcement from her chambers. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about a day and a half following a three-month trial. Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face possible life in prison if convicted of all three charges in the case. The Bush administration portrayed Padilla,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Padilla Verdict, Rob Bluey

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we're going to cover the verdict in the Jose Padilla case, whatever it turns out to be. Joining me will be Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation, who will cover other topics as well, such as the Gallup poll that has Obama handicapped by his intellect. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Update: Not related to today's show, but Michael van der Galien has a post up requesting funds for an urgent family matter. He shared some of it privately with me; it's for a good reason. If you have a little to spare, drop by Michael's blog. Thank you. Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Rudy Hitting His Stride?

Rudy Giuliani got good news earlier this week from a CBS poll that most people have learned to mistrust -- for good reason -- but Rasmussen may provide some corroboration today. According to the normally reliable pollster, Rudy has his first significant lead in head-to-head polling against Hillary Clinton, and the crosstabs show some surprising depth (via Instapundit): After being virtually tied with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for several months, Republican contender Rudy Giuliani now leads Clinton up 47% to 40% in the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. In the match-up of the frontrunners, this result marks a significant shift. For the last three months the two frontrunners have never been further apart than three percentage points. Last month, Giuliani and Clinton were separated by just a single point. Senator Clinton fares modestly better against former Senator Fred Thompson. Clinton now has a three point edge over him,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Step In The Wrong Direction (Update: Kyllo)

The Bush administration wants to allow law-enforcement agencies to use military and intelligence satellites as a resource for investigations. Real-time imagery and technology than can look inside buildings and even bunkers could be used to pursue criminal investigations, a boon for law enforcement officials -- but a nightmare for civil libertarians: The Bush administration has approved a plan to expand domestic access to some of the most powerful tools of 21st-century spycraft, giving law enforcement officials and others the ability to view data obtained from satellite and aircraft sensors that can see through cloud cover and even penetrate buildings and underground bunkers. A program approved by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security will allow broader domestic use of secret overhead imagery beginning as early as this fall, with the expectation that state and local law enforcement officials will eventually be able to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 17, 2007

Richardson Campaign Tripped Up By Brothel Allegations

Bill Richardson's presidential campaign had shown some signs of life over the last few weeks, perhaps enough to get onto the short list for Hillary's VP selection, but a new scandal may throw cold water on those hopes. A campaign organizer in Nevada has an outstanding felony warrant in California, and new revelations of his ties to brothels could embarrass the campaign even further: One of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson's top organizers in rural Nevada resigned Thursday after the campaign learned he had worked for a brothel and was wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California. "We did not know about all of this," Richardson spokesman Josh McNeil said after the staffer's record was brought to the campaign's attention by The Associated Press. "We accepted his resignation today." Kristian Forland, the campaign's eastern Nevada field director, is being sought by Los Angeles County authorities for failure to appear...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Liberal Reconsiders Chavez

Jeb Koogler, a staunch liberal at The Moderate Voice, has defended Hugo Chavez for a long time. He thought that Chavez intended to help the poor and downtrodden and made excuses for his tough tactics as a necessary interlude towards a better society. He disregarded Chavez' authoritarian impulses as unimportant in the long run. Now Koogler says he can remain silent no more -- and wonders why his colleagues on the Left haven't made the same decision: The sum of these recent developments, combined with previous measures to stack the courts and the legislature, have solidified Chavez’s rule to the point where there should no longer be any doubt about the direction in which the country is headed. Chavez is pushing for dictatorial-like powers and there seems to be little hope, at least in the near future, of re-establishing any semblance of democratic governance. Unfortunately, many of us on the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

US, UK Want Benazir Back

The US and UK have pressured Pervez Musharraf to form a political alliance with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in order to create an anti-extremist political front. However, Musharraf has had trouble finding common ground, and Bhutto herself is not keen on pulling Musharraf's bacon from the fire: America and Britain are seeking to broker a power-sharing deal between Pakistan's president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and the exiled former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. A senior Western diplomat said that the two nations were exerting pressure on Gen Musharraf to broaden his political base by bringing Ms Bhutto into his -government. They are anxious to ensure that the general, a key ally in the US-led war on terror, retains his hold on power after the worst political crisis of his eight-year rule. Last week Gen Musharraf, who has clashed with Pakistan's supreme court over plans to stand for re-election while remaining head...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

What Did We Learn From Padilla?

The New York Times provides an interesting analysis of the Jose Padilla conviction, one that essentially credits the Bush administration with a victory. The jury convicted Padilla in almost no time at all, saying that the evidence was overwhelming -- and yet the question remains as to why the administration didn't just put Padilla on trial from the beginning: In a significant victory for the Bush administration, a federal jury found Jose Padilla guilty of terrorism conspiracy charges on Thursday after little more than a day of deliberation. Mr. Padilla, a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam who became one of the first Americans designated an “enemy combatant” in the anxious months after Sept. 11, 2001, now faces life in prison. He was released last year from a long and highly unusual military confinement to face criminal charges in Federal District Court here. The government’s chief evidence was a faded application form...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Ghoul And The Fool

Patty Murray managed to sucker her fellow Democrats into looking like exploitative idiots two weeks ago, but not many media sources caught the Senator from Washington in her fib. Murray, who made headlines by pointing out Osama bin Laden's educational career after 9/11, used the St. Anthony Bridge collapse to rail against the Bush administration's supposed callousness towards our nation's infrastructure. The Hill and the Seattle Times noted the exchanges (h/t CQ reader Stoo): A day after the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, Sen. Patty Murray joined other Senate Democrats to accuse the Bush administration of failing to maintain the country's bridges. And she had a dynamite anecdote: "I have learned of a bridge where school buses have to stop and let all of the children out and pick them up on the other side because of weight restrictions." The Hill reports that the anecdote was quickly repeated by Senate Majority...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

John Edwards, Exploiter Of The Poor

John Edwards has spent plenty of campaign time talking about the Bush administration's callousness towards the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He's also hurled some invective at the latest economic villains for the Democrats, subprime lenders. According to the Wall Street Journal, Edwards knows more than he lets on about both: As a presidential candidate, Democrat John Edwards has regularly attacked subprime lenders, particularly those that have filed foreclosure suits against victims of Hurricane Katrina. But as an investor, Mr. Edwards has ties to lenders foreclosing on Katrina victims. The Wall Street Journal has identified 34 New Orleans homes whose owners have faced foreclosure suits from subprime-lending units of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Mr. Edwards has about $16 million invested in Fortress funds, according to a campaign aide who confirmed a more general Federal Election Commission report. Mr. Edwards worked for Fortress, a publicly held private-equity fund, from late 2005 through...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Mueller v Gonzales, Round 2

The Washington Post reports that contemporaneous notes taken by Robert Mueller on the night of Alberto Gonzales' late-night visit to John Ashcroft's hospital bed contradict the Attorney General's testimony before Congress. The FBI Director noted on his own visit to the previous Attorney General's room that Ashcroft was "barely articulate," but Dan Eggen seems to have missed the part of the notes just above: Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday. One of Mueller's entries in five pages of a daily log pertaining to the dispute also indicated that Ashcroft's deputy was so concerned about undue pressure by Gonzales and other White House aides for the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Prayers For The Anchoress, And Others

Many CQ readers are, like myself, fans of The Anchoress. Her clear and humble writings on religion always provide a lift for me, usually just when I need it the most. However, right now she needs the lift from all of us. I received a note from her a few minutes ago, telling me she has to go to the emergency room for a serious medical complication that just occurred this morning. I don't want to get more specific than that, but it is quite serious and needs immediate attention. Keep her and her family in your prayers and thoughts today. Feel free to leave her messages of support in this comment thread. UPDATE: Let's keep some traffic going to her site while she's obviously off line. She posted an intriguing essay on the incompatibilities between socialism and monastacism, which might be a good place to start for new readers....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Sauce, Goose, Gander

Kimberly Strassel decides to take on the netroots in a puzzling Wall Street Journal editorial today. She castigates them for using primary challenges to intimidate moderate Democrats, and also points out that they have been almost entirely unsuccessful in this effort. On one hand, she chides them for their impotence, and then concludes by warning about their growing influence. At Heading Right, I point out these basic inconsistencies in Strassel's article. I also posit that primary challenges serve a useful purpose for accountability -- and these days may be the only mechanism for responsibility to voters. (via Memeorandum)...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Duane Patterson And The Week In Review

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson from the Hugh Hewitt show (and from Radioblogger) joins us to review the week's top stories. This always flows quickly from topic to topic, but I imagine we'll debate the Padilla decision, Bill Ruchardson's organizer getting chintzy with the party girls in Nevada, Barack Obama's highbrow plight, and much more. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! We'll tackle whatever topic is on your mind... Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Democrat In Support Of The Mission

Another Congressional Democrat has shifted his views on Iraq to support from opposition -- and this change has significance. Rep. Brian Baird, one of the Democrats who voted against the authorization to use military force in 2002, has now returned from Iraq convinced that we need to give General David Petraeus more time: U.S. Rep. Brian Baird said Thursday that his recent trip to Iraq convinced him the military needs more time in the region, and that a hasty pullout would cause chaos that helps Iran and harms U.S. security. "I believe that the decision to invade Iraq and the post-invasion management of that country were among the largest foreign-policy mistakes in the history of our nation. I voted against them, and I still think they were the right votes," Baird said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C. "But we're on the ground now. We have a responsibility to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Maliki Tries Statesmanship

Nouri al-Maliki has come under a torrent of criticism in Congress, even among supporters of the war effort in Iraq, as too ineffectual and sectarian to create the kind of political reform necessary to stabilize his nation. The Iraqi Prime Minister has had a number of embarrassing resignations from his government, calling into question whether he has enough pull to make any progress towards the benchmarks set by an impatient US government. Given all that, his critics will likely be shocked at his latest move -- a direct and personal appeal to Sunni tribal leaders: Iraq's prime minister, a Shiite, flew to Saddam Hussein's hometown Friday and told Sunni tribal chieftains that all Iraqis must unite in the fight to crush al-Qaeda in Iraq and extremist Shiite militias "to save our coming generations." With the U.S. Congressional majority increasingly antsy to get out of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki's bold incursion into...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Who Killed Steven Seagal's Career?

Steven Seagal has had a strange odyssey through Hollywood. He exploded on the scene in 1988, in his self-produced Above the Law after six years of serving as a martial-arts consultant in films. Seagal made a string of largely similar films over the next fifteen years, usually with names that fit "Steven Seagal Is --" above the title, such as "Steven Seagal Is -- Out For Justice!" Most of these films were self-produced, and most of them featured a martial-arts master delivering justice in his own very special way. Eventually, audiences found other action films and stars, leaving Seagal behind. However, Seagal contends that the real murderer of his career isn't changing tastes or even the butler, but the FBI: According to Seagal, it's the FBI's fault that he now stars in low-budget movies that go straight to video. And he wants an apology from the bureau. The 56-year-old pony-tailed...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 18, 2007

Two Projects Supporting The Troops

I received a couple of e-mail requests reminding me of projects designed to support the troops directly. First, Jim at Thinking Right has made it to about 25% of his goal on his Project Letters From Home. Jim wants to put a letter into the hands of every Marine in the unit he selected. He needs 1,000 letters and he's received about 240 so far. Be sure to check out Jim's efforts and pitch in any way you can. The second project is a little different. Gina Elise wants to provide a little traditional diversion for hospitalized veterans and active-duty servicemen, so she's produced a pin-up calendar, evoking memories of World War II. Pin-Ups for Vets is co-sponsored by the American Legion post in Lake Arrowhead, California and the proceeds go to support hospitalized veterans. The web site may not be entirely safe for work, depending on the tolerance level...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Edwards Jumps The Shark

In 1992, one could tell the precise moment when George H. W. Bush lost his grip and the election. In a late campaign speech, he referred to Bill Clinton and Al Gore with sarcastic name-calling. I can't find the exact quote (see update below), but as I recall, he called Gore "Eco Boy" and Clinton something equally silly. It made Bush look immature and desperate; he managed to make Clinton look more presidential than the sitting President. At least George Bush shot off his mouth at his actual political opponent. John Edwards has apparently decided he's competing with Ann Coulter to see which can prove themselves the most immature: Former Sen. John Edwards on Friday fired the latest round in his ongoing verbal feud with Ann Coulter, calling her a "she-devil" at a public event before quickly adding that he shouldn't engage in name-calling. Edwards, D-N.C., was railing against the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CBS And Child Abuse

The entertainment industry has strict limits on how children can be used in television and film production. The government imposes workplace safety regulations, limits on working hours, and requirements for educational support, mostly based on abuse that occurred in the industry's history. So why did CBS think that they could haul dozens of kids off into the New Mexico desert for a reality series that explicitly broke all of the rules? The ads promoting “Kid Nation,” a new reality show coming to CBS next month, extol the incredible experience of a group of 40 children, ages 8 to 15, who built a sort of idealistic society in a New Mexico ghost town, free of adults. For 40 days the children cooked their own meals, cleaned their own outhouses, formed a government and ran their own businesses, all without adult intervention or participation. To at least one parent of a participant,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A White House Drawdown?

The New York Times reports that the White House has started working on a plan to reduce forces in Iraq, starting next year. However, the Times implies that this reduction represents some reversal on the part of the Bush administration, when it appears to be nothing more than the natural reduction from the surge's timeline: The White House plans to use a report next month assessing progress in Iraq to outline a plan for gradual troop reductions beginning next year that would fall far short of the drawdown demanded by Congressional opponents of the war, according to administration and military officials. One administration official made it clear that the goal of the planned announcement was to counter public pressure for a more rapid reduction and to try to win support for a plan that could keep American involvement in Iraq on “a sustainable footing” at least through the end of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Allawi On The Stump

Ayad Allawi, the Prime Minister of Iraq during the transitional government period, calls his nation a "failing state" and puts most of the blame on his successor, Nouri al-Maliki. Allawi insists that the Iraqis need a multinational force in place to secure the country, along with better international cooperation, and underscores the need for firm American commitment over the next two years: Next month, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will report to Congress on the situation in my country. I expect that the testimony of these two good men will be qualified and nuanced, as politics requires. I also expect that their assessment will not capture the totality of the tragedy -- that more than four years after its liberation from Saddam Hussein, Iraq is a failing state, not providing the most basic security and services to its people and contributing to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Aren't They Making The Glacier Melt Faster?

Spencer Tunick has made a career out of photographing nudes en masse, both for artistic taste and for social causes. His latest effort put hundreds of naked people on a Swiss glacier to protest global warming: Hundreds of people posed naked on Switzerland's shrinking Aletsch glacier on Saturday for U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick as part of a Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness of global warming. Tunick, perched on a ladder and using a megaphone, directed nearly 600 volunteers from all over Europe and photographed them on a rocky outcrop overlooking the glacier, which is the largest in the Alps. Later he took pictures of them standing in groups on the mass of ice and lying down. Camera crews were staged at five different points on the glacier to take photographs. Greenpeace organized the event, which should surprise no one. They want to publicize the reduction of glaciers as a symptom...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NARN, The King For A Day Edition

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line's John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station's Internet stream if you're outside of the broadcast area. Today, Mitch and I are off to attend Brian's wedding. King, however, will do the four hours of our show and his, without Michael Broadkorb, whose wife just had twins. He'll have numerous guests to pass the time, and in general prove himself to be the King of Saturday talk radio. Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Barack Cuts And Runs On Debates

That's how his opponents will likely cast Barack Obama's decision to forego any more debates than those to which he's already committed. Obama has eight debates on his schedule between now and the Iowa caucuses, and he will refuse invitations to any more, complaining that they interfere with his campaigning: Inundated by dozens of invitations, Sen. Barack Obama will turn down requests to join future debates and forums this fall, his Democratic presidential campaign announced Saturday. Obama will honor his commitment to eight more debates (five sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, one by the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision and two in Iowa), but he does not plan to accept many invitations for forums, where the candidates appear sequentially. The announcement could affect such key Democratic constituencies as the Congressional Black Caucus, Iowa AARP and League of Conservation Voters, campaign sources confirmed. On one hand, it's hard to get too critical...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 19, 2007

The Clueless Congress

This session of Congress has already made a name for itself as one of the least-accomplished in recent history. Now, even when it does accomplish something significant, it manages to botch it badly. The new FISA legislation winds up granting the executive branch powers it never requested, thanks to poorly-managed edits to the original language of the bill by Congress: Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that go well beyond wiretapping to include — without court approval — certain types of physical searches on American soil and the collection of Americans’ business records, Democratic Congressional officials and other experts said. ... Several legal experts said that by redefining the meaning of “electronic surveillance,” the new law narrows the types of communications covered in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, by indirectly giving the government the power...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Zimbabwe Collapse In Four Months: Telegraph

Zimbabwe has just about reached the end of its tether, according to Western officials contacted by The Telegraph, and in four months will be reduced to anarchy. Britain has plans to evacuate its 20,000 citizens on an emergency basis as the former agricultural power will send its starving people into the street in a paroxysm of anger, tribal conflicts, and utter collapse: Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, one Western official said: "It is hard to be definitive, but probably within months, by the end of the year, we will see the formal economy cease to work." He added: "One of the great dangers in all this, if Mugabe hangs on for much longer, is that the country will slip from authoritarianism to anarchy, the government will lose control of the provinces, it will lose control of the towns and you will have a situation where the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Are You Sure You Want An Islamic Reformation?

Often pundits will exclaim that what Islam needs is a Reformation. Diana Muir reminds us in today's Washington Post about what the Christian Reformation produced in the short run -- and convincingly argues that we may already be in the middle of an Islamic counterpart. In fact, that's the problem: The Protestant Reformation did precede the things these men admire about modernity in the West, including women's emancipation, political liberty, scientific breakthroughs, the wealth and opportunity created by the Industrial Revolution, and permission to think freely regarding God. But all this came later, and the Reformation was only part of what brought them about. The Reformation was a time of intense focus on God and what He requires of people. As a movement, it was enthusiastic, narrow and far from tolerant. It and the Counter-Reformation brought two centuries of repression, war and massacre to the West. It's unlikely that anyone...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Lost Iranian Revolutionary Guard Patrol

The US military command in Baghdad says it's tracking a band of Iranian Revolutionary Guard far away from home. Fifty members of the IRG have made their way to the area of the Iraqi capital, and the assumption is that they're not there as ambassadors of peace and love: Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, whose command includes the volatile southern rim of Baghdad and districts to the south, said his troops are tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area -- the first detailed allegation that Iranians have been training fighters within Iraq's borders. "We know they're here and we target them as well," he said, citing intelligence reports as evidence of their presence. He declined to be more specific and said no Iranian forces have been arrested in his territory. "We've got about 50 of those," he said, referring to the Iranian forces. "They go back...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Changes Almost Here

Earlier this summer, I announced that Captain's Quarters would undergo a face lift. My site designers, The Blog Studio, have worked hard to make the changes as quickly as possible. Peter and Lucia have been enthusiastic about taking my sometimes contradictory concepts and making them into reality. And now I can tell you that the wait is almost over for the new launch. On Tuesday, we will start working to switch from the old design to the new Captain's Quarters. It may take a little work, and we may have a few ups and downs while we get the kinks out, but we're looking forward to the new CQ -- and you will see that we have taken your input into account in the new design. So what will be new? * Faster load time * New color scheme and logo * Easier to read * New e-mail and print...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 20, 2007

The Perfect Conspiracy-Theorist Foil

For the last seven years, Karl Rove has served as the focus for some of the worst vitriol thrown in the political and media arenas. When he decided to retire last week, his resignation captured the top spot in newspapers and news programming for days. Howard Kurtz wonders whether all of the fuss reflected the reality of Rove's work, or whether it served a synthetic narrative that the media created out of laziness: From the moment he leaked word of his departure to the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Karl Rove has been lionized and vilified by the media hordes. He is either a political giant, shrewdly plotting a series of victories during the Bush presidency, or a nation-wrecker, sowing the seeds of division to boost the GOP. The nicknames -- "Bush's Brain," "The Architect" -- match the portrayal of an important historical figure. But what if journalists are part...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Elvira Arellano Deported

The government acted quickly to deport illegal alien-cum-immigration activist Elvira Arellano after her arrest yesterday. Within hours of her capture, after years of defying the order for her second deportation, American officials deported her to Tijuana. Supporters expressed outrage over her quick ejection: Elvira Arellano was arrested Sunday afternoon outside Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Los Angeles. She was deported several hours later, said the Rev. Walter Coleman, pastor of Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, where Arellano had taken refuge. "She has been deported. She is free and in Tijuana," said Coleman, who said he spoke to her on the phone. "She is in good spirits. She is ready to continue the struggle against the separation of families from the other side of the border." ... Arellano, 32, became a symbol of the struggles of illegal immigrant parents when she took refuge in the church to avoid...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Clinton VP Sweepstakes

With Hillary Clinton having just about wrapped up the Democratic nomination for president, speculation has begun on her choice of running mate. For a while, Barack Obama seemed the perfect choice, but his performance of late has tarnished his image and reminded people of his inexperience. Instead, Robert Novak reports that Hillary's backers have looked away towards Dixieland: Anticipating that Sen. Hillary Clinton will clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, some supporters are beginning to argue against her choosing her principal rival -- Sen. Barack Obama -- for vice president. They maintain Obama provides no general election help for Clinton. As an African-American from Illinois, he represents an ethnic group and a state already solidly in the Democratic column. This school of thought advocates a Southerner as Clinton's running mate. The last time Democrats won a national election without a Southerner on the ticket was 1944. Prominent Democrats from the South...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Zimbabwe: Back To Nature

Yesterday, the Telegraoh reported that Western officials expect a complete collapse of Zimbabwe's economic and political systems, by Christmas or even sooner. Today, the Los Angeles Times picks up where the Telegraph left off, explaining in detail the disintegration of Africa's one-time breadbasket. The farms that once sustained the entire region have returned to pre-agricultural times, and manufacturing and retail will soon join them: A drive across Zimbabwe today reveals a desolate portrait of decline: Aimless mobs of people wait along the rural roads, each with a silent pleading gesture for a lift at every passing vehicle. With fuel almost dried up, unemployment at 80% and transport too expensive for most, movement is almost frozen. Along the highways, brown grass stands high between the thorny acacias in a stunning vista of what Africa must have looked like before mechanized agriculture made farming Zimbabwe's main export business. Now, most farms lie...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

McCain Conference Call Live-Blog

John McCain conducted another of his blogger conference calls this morning to promote his speech later at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City. In taking a look at the speech released by his campaign before the event, McCain focuses on national security and the war in Iraq. He also quotes from his recently-released book, Hard Call, as well as updates the VFW on his analysis of the war on terror: As we meet, in Iraq and Afghanistan, American soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen are fighting bravely and tenaciously in battles that are as dangerous, difficult and consequential as the great battles of our armed forces’ storied past. As we all know, the war in Iraq has not gone well, and the American people have grown sick and tired of it. I understand that, of course. I, too, have been made sick at heart by the many...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Romney Bumps And Grinds

Gallup shows that Mitt Romney got a pleasant surprise from his efforts at the Ames, Iowa straw poll. He jumped from his consistent 8% national polling to 14%, putting him past John McCain and close to Fred Thompson, moving to a solid third-place finish: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has posted modest gains over the last two weeks, both in his favorable rating and in his positioning in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. One presumption is that Romney's gains reflect the visibility that followed his win in the Iowa Republican Party straw poll last weekend, although data in the new Gallup Poll show that only a third of Republicans nationwide are directly aware that Romney won this unofficial contest. Romney now receives 14% of Republicans' votes when they are asked whom they would like as their party's presidential nominee, up from 8% in each of the two previous...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

About The Petraeus Date

Earlier today on a blogger call, Senator John McCain said he believed that Harry Reid had scheduled General David Petraeus to brief the Senate on September 11th. I reported this on my live-blog at Heading Right, and so did Jim Geraghty at The Campaign Spot. It got picked up by a CQ commenter in the earlier thread, but it's easy to make more of this than it is. First, the Senate will have limited dates available for Petraeus, on account of tight schedules for both Petraeus and Congress. The fiscal year runs out at the end of the month, and budget appropriations will go down to the wire and beyond. Reid and Nancy Pelosi need to keep as much floor time available as possible for those fights, including the war supplemental debate, which has to have the input from Petraeus first. The previous week will consist mostly of organizing motions...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Miniter Go Too Far?

Richard Miniter wrote a fascinating look at the the Scott Beauchamp-New Republic affair at Pajamas Media today, and it has received many deserved links today. He digs into the story and produces a good look at what happened behind the scenes that led to the massive failure at TNR to stop an essentially false story. Unfortunately, Miniter lets the story get somewhat far afield and highly personal, which calls into question whether Miniter crossed a line in his reporting. First, though, Miniter points out that TNR had an early warning of what was to come: Beauchamp’s first article for The New Republic appeared in January 2007 and so far been completely ignored by bloggers and the press. It describes a neighborhood he calls “Little Venice” in Baghdad that can only be transited by vehicle because of waist-high sewage streams. This seems suspicious to me. I have been to Baghdad a...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Jim Geraghty

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll welcome back Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot. Last we heard from Jim, we had walked him back from the ledge. Today, we'll talk about the McCain blogger call, the Petraeus report, and ask his opinion on the Richard Miniter piece at Pajamas Media regarding the Beauchamp affair at TNR. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Edwards An Empty Suit

John Edwards had a tough week. Not only has he descended into an immature name-calling obsession over Ann Coulter, not only did the Wall Street Journal expose him as a towering hypocrite on predatory lending, but on Friday Edwards demonstrated that he has no real knowledge of foreign affairs or of movies -- even the films he recommends. When pressed in Iowa as to whether the US should adopt the Cuban model for healthcare, his answer exposed his lightweight status (h/t CQ reader Rush L): When an Iowa resident asked former senator John Edwards Thursday whether the United States should follow the Cuban healthcare model, the 2004 vice presidential contender deflected the question by saying he didn't know enough to answer the question. "I'm going to be honest with you -- I don't know a lot about Cuba's healthcare system," Edwards, D-N.C., said at an event in Oskaloosa, Iowa. "Is...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Vick Pleads Out

Michael Vick may have to get his exercise in a prison yard after agreeing to plead guilty to charges connected to a dog-fighting conspiracy. The defense team announced that the Falcons quarterback accepted a deal to plead guilty to felony conspiracy charges that could mean as much as three years in prison: "After consulting with his family over the weekend, Michael Vick asks that I announce today that he has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors regarding the charges pending against him," lead defense attorney Billy Martin said in a statement. "Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his action and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter," Martin's statement said. Vick's attorneys have been negotiating with federal prosecutors over terms of the deal, which must...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Maybe The Bill Had Something To Do With It

The Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted a study to determine why the immigration-reform bill died on the floor of the Senate -- and readers can guess who gets the credit and the blame. Their exhaustive study, apparently completed and published in six weeks, claims that conservative talk radio set off a frenzied mob by using the word "amnesty": Opposition from key talk radio and cable TV hosts helped kill the immigration bill in Congress, a study out today concludes. “What listeners of the conservative talk radio media were hearing, in large part, was that the legislation itself was little more than an ‘amnesty bill’ for illegal immigrants, a phrase loaded with political baggage,” it says. The study by the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism quantifies what White House and Capitol Hill phone lines and e-mail inboxes already indicated: Talk radio focused on the immigration debate more intensely than...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

An Evening With John Kline

My representative, John Kline, conducted a telephone town hall forum to connect with his constituents. In fact, it's still going on as I blog. It uses a new technology to do outbound dialing, and at the moment, Congressman Kline says 750 people are participating on the call. The exchange calls the numbers in the district, and people who answer get asked to stay on the line to listen in and participate. Having 750 people make that decision says quite a bit about MN-02, and all of it good. Given its random nature, some of the questioners voted for Kline's last opponent, Colleen Rowley, but everyone thus far has been congenial. One man opposes the war; another wants Kline to act to protect religious expression in the military. Social Security has come up more than once, and term limits as well. In fact, Kline supports the idea, but it's hard to...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

What Was The Silliest Moment Of The 9/11 Truther Expose On History Channel?

I'm going to leave this as more or less an open thread for those who just watched The 9/11 Conspiracies: Fact Or Fiction? on The History Channel. Having read the Popular Mechanics book that debunks all of the pseudoscience offered by the Truthers, most of the rebuttals were both familiar and far too short in this program. I'm more interested in what CQ readers thought of the conspiracy theorists themselves. The silliest and yet most revealing moment? That came near the end, when talk-radio host Alex Jones discussed his place in history (note: site may not be safe for your intellect). He told the History Channel that Galileo got persecuted when he told people that the Earth was round instead of flat. "I'm telling people the world is round!" he exclaimed. Unfortunately, Galileo got persecuted for claiming that the Earth moved around the sun, not that the Earth was round....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 21, 2007

Levin Demands New Iraqi Government

In what appears to be the new Democratic strategy to end the war, Senator Carl Levin has declared Nouri al-Maliki and his government "non-functional" and demanded that the Iraqi National Assembly replace them immediately. The focus on Maliki as the ultimate villain comes as other Democrats concede that the military has made real progress on Iraqi security with the surge: Declaring the government of Iraq "non-functional," the influential chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said yesterday that Iraq's parliament should oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his cabinet if they are unable to forge a political compromise with rival factions in a matter of days. "I hope the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office and will have the wisdom to replace it with a less sectarian and more unifying prime minister and government," Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said after a three-day trip to Iraq and...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Final Collapse Victim Found, Bush To Visit Twin Cities

Divers recovered the last body from the wreckage of the St. Anthony Bridge, just shy of three weeks after the tragedy, completing the dark but necessary mission that will allow the removal of the bridge from the Mississippi River. Construction worker Greg "Jolly" Jolstad had plunged into the water in his Bobcat: The remains of the last person missing after a bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River nearly three weeks ago have been found, authorities said Monday, bringing the official death toll to 13 and relief to the only family still awaiting word on a missing loved one. Gregory Jolstad, nicknamed "Jolly," was on the construction crew that was resurfacing the bridge when it fell Aug. 1 during the evening rush hour. Mr. Jolstad, 45, was driving a skid loader, commonly known by the brand name Bobcat. Divers had gone back in the water early Monday, and Mr. Jolstad's wife,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Stampede To January Continues

Michigan has now caught the same Primary Fever as Florida, California, and several other states that want more influence on the presidential selection process. Both Democrats and Republicans in Michigan want the state to change its primary date to January 15th, perhaps even earlier than that, if Carl Levin has his way. The move will put even more pressure on New Hampshire and Iowa to go backwards -- possibly into 2007: Michigan is poised to move its presidential primaries to Jan. 15 or earlier, becoming the latest state to leapfrog to the front of the voting calendar in the ongoing battle for relevance in choosing the next White House occupant. The move by Michigan lawmakers is the latest to push the campaign season ever closer to New Year's Day and the holiday season, and renews the possibility that Iowans could be gathering to vote in December, despite pledges from state...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

UN Ethics Reforms Fail To Protect Whistleblower

The vaunted reforms adopted by the United Nations over the last two years have already failed to protect an important whistleblower. The executive in charge of the program where the whistleblower worked refuses to submit to an independent ethics probe, and in the meantime, Artjon Shkurtaj finds himself out of a job: The top U.N. ethics official has found preliminary evidence that the U.N. Development Program retaliated against an employee who exposed abuse and rules violations in the agency's programs in North Korea. But the UNDP has refused a request from the ethics chief, Robert Benson, to submit to a formal investigation, saying it would appoint its own independent investigator. Benson's findings, detailed in a confidential letter obtained by The Washington Post, dealt a blow to the United Nations' top development agency, which has long said that the subject of Benson's inquiry, Albanian national Artjon Shkurtaj, is not a whistle-blower....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

You Can Tell A Candidate By His Book

Presidential campaigns have developed a side industry in book publishing. Most of the candidates in this race have written and published books or have one under contract. With few exceptions, however, the books tend to be as popular as the candidates -- which means they should focus on their current jobs in both cases: The top-tier presidential candidates have some personal finance numbers in common — six- or seven-figure book deals. Writing a book has become a prerequisite to running for president — a means to explain views in depth, to set the record straight and to add a bit of gravitas. But while nearly all the candidates put pen to paper, it is mainly those ranked high in the polls who make any real money out of it. ... Still, big book profits are not a reality for many White House hopefuls, even if they're well-known. "I think it's...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Limbo Congress!

How low can you go? Chubby Checker once asked that of dancers, but Gallup's new poll must have Congress wondering the same thing. They have reached the all-time nadir of approval in the latest polling, dropping to the same level as when Congress started bouncing personal checks after years of public deficit spending: A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll. That 18% job approval rating matches the low recorded in March 1992, when a check-bouncing scandal was one of several scandals besetting Congress, leading many states to pass term limits measures for U.S. representatives (which the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional). Congress had a similarly low 19% approval rating...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Party Of Tolerance

How desperate are Louisiana Democrats to hold onto power? They're about to air a television ad attacking the leading Republican candidate for governor for his religious views. The TV spots will accuse Bobby Jindal of being anti-Protestant (via Bryan at Hot Air): In one of the hardest hitting – Republicans will undoubtedly say “dirtiest” – television ads aired in history, the Louisiana Democratic Party is accusing Rep. Bobby Jindal of being anti-Protestant. The bizarre charge is delivered by an unidentified woman in a new Louisiana Democratic Party TV ad produced by Carvin/Seder Communications, a Louisiana-based consulting firm whose clients have included former Governor Edwin Edwards (D-La.), Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (D). In the TV spot, the announcer charges that Jindal wrote articles that “insulted thousands of Louisiana Protestants,” and she holds up an article in which she says Jindal “doubts the morals and...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: The Truther Demolition

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll welcome back Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House to review last night's devastating demolition of 9/11 conspiracy theories by the History Channel. Rick has an extensive essay on this today, and we'll talk about the likely impact on the Truthers from this documentary. We will also cover the Louisiana Democratic Party's planned smear campaign against Bobby Jindal and their effort to harness anti-Catholic bigotry to protect their grip on power. Afterwards, I'll join Rick on his show to continue the topic. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation at CQ Radio, and 718-664-9764 for Rick's show afterwards! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CIA Report Slams Tenet

The long-awaited CIA Inspector General's report on the failues that led to 9/11 has been released, or at least its redacted executive summary was published this afternoon. The report puts the blame for the agency's lack of preparation squarely on George Tenet, arguing that although he defined the danger facing the US from al-Qaeda, he failed to organize the CIA to effectively fight it: Former CIA Director George Tenet did not marshal his agency's resources to respond to the recognized threat posed by al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks, the agency's inspector general concluded in a long-classified report released today. The report, which Congress ordered released under a law signed by President Bush this month, also faulted the intelligence community for failing to have "a documented, comprehensive approach" to battling al-Qaeda. Tenet, now a professor at Georgetown University, heavily criticized the report as "flat wrong" in a lengthy statement, saying...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

My Bulls**t Guilty Pleasure

I have to admit it. I'm addicted to Bulls**t. You may wonder why that is such a surprise, given that I blog for a living -- but in this case, I'm talking about the television show featuring Penn & Teller. In fact, the show reminds me of the same kind of attitude behind blogging. The pair built their reputation as skeptics, and apply their skepticism to a wide range of topics. The show combines humor, outrage, and their libertarian point of view into a wild ride that (almost) never fails to entertain. Most of the topics involve politics to some degree, and a few more than most. And just like with blogging, those political points of view can annoy and even enrage the viewer. Tonight, we watched Penn & Teller's deconstruction of Mother Theresa from the show's third season. We also sat through their show on Big Brother, which reviewed...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 22, 2007

An Environmentalist Against Trees?

Bette Midler has long championed environmentalist causes, but apparently that didn't stop her from cutting down 230 trees on her Hawaiian property. The state will fine The Compost Queen $6500 for removing the trees and grading a road without the proper permits: Bette Midler cut down more than 230 trees around one of her properties on the island of Kauai without a permit, and the state has recommended she be fined. The staff of the Board of Land and Natural Resources recommended $6,500 in fines for having the trees felled and for building a graded road without permits required for the land zoned for conservation use. ... The actress and movie star, who was born in Honolulu, didn't realize permits were needed to remove the trees on a vacant 58,000-square-foot parcel of land on Kauai's North Shore, Graham said. "The whole idea with cutting the trees down was with the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

French Plan Engagement In Iraq

The visit from the French Foreign Minister to Baghdad signaled a new policy of engagement in Iraq and not just a one-off, the Times of London reports today. Nicolas Sarkozy has decided that a failing Iraq serves no one's interests, especially France, and wants to push the UN into taking a larger support role in stabilizing the country: France proclaimed its desire to help restore peace in Iraq after a visit yesterday to Baghdad by its Foreign Minister ended the four-year diplomatic freeze that followed the US-led invasion. As Paris media hailed “The French return to Iraq”, Bernard Kouchner concluded his three-day trip with a pledge that under President Sarkozy, France would no longer sit on the sidelines saying “we told you so”. The position had changed since President Chirac led an international coalition against the invasion, he said. “The world knows that the Americans cannot get this country out...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The UNDP Is A Loose Cannon

Claudia Rosett, one of the best resources on the United Nations in the national media, gives a lengthy explanation of the UN Development Program at National Review -- and it's not pretty. The UNDP, which retaliated against whistleblower Artjon Shkurtaj and refuses to abide by UN ethics reforms, has operated independent of UN leadership for years, assisted by its cozy ties to the worst regimes in the world: Quite simply, the UNDP is, for most practical purposes, morphing from a development agency into a species of highly privileged rogue state — operating, it seems, outside any jurisdiction. In theory the UNDP reports to the General Assembly, but to suggest that any actual oversight takes place is a joke. The General Assembly is a sprawling 192 member-state committee. Last year its members scrapped a package of U.N. management-reform proposals rather than jeopardize via even a slight increase in transparency and accountability...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Democrats Miscalculate On Iraq

Democrats figured that the August recess would give them plenty of opportunity to raise the heat on Republicans to force a withdrawal date from Iraq. They could return to their home districts, stoke some demonstrations, and return with new momentum after Labor Day to push for retreat. Unfortunately, events have intervened, and now Democrats have to regroup to avoid looking like defeatists while the military effort has started producing successes: Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions. And now the Democrats, along with wavering Republicans, will face an advertising blitz from Bush supporters...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Californians Willing To Forego Winner-Take-All

A proposed referendum to replace the current winner-take-all system in California for presidential elections has a strong plurality in favor, according to a Field poll. Voters asked whether they support allocating Electoral College votes on a proportional basis agreed 47%-35% that the current system should be jettisoned -- and Democrats were as likely to support it as oppose it. (via Memeorandum) At Heading Right, I look at the two ways in which Field pollsters posed this question. The results will surprise readers who might have assumed that heavily-Democratic California would consider this proposition. California may benefit from this new allocation -- and it may be the next political wave that starts at the Golden State's shore....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Glass Houses, Etc

One might think that the editors of The New Republic would use their energy to investigate the collapse of their credibility after publishing a fabulist for at least the second time in the last few years. Instead, Jonathan Chait takes aim at Bill Kristol for his criticism of the magazine, blithely sidestepping any editorial responsibility for Beauchamp's fabrications: Kristol's sensibility is perfectly summed up in one representative passage from a recent issue. The topic was The New Republic's decision to publish an essay by Scott Beauchamp, an American soldier serving in Iraq, detailing some repugnant acts he said he and his comrades committed. Legitimate questions have been raised about this essay's veracity. (We've been publishing updates on our continuing efforts to get answers to them at tnr.com.) But Kristol rushed past these questions, immediately declaring the piece a "fiction." Offering up his interpretation of why tnr would publish such slanders,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Haiku As A ... Well, You Know

Seattle has spent the last couple of weeks redefining journalistic objectivity -- downwards. First, the Seattle Times newsroom erupts in cheers when Karl Rove announced his resignation, and now the Post-Intelligencer refuses an FBI request to publish photos of men wanted for questioning after suspicious behavior on Seattle-area ferries. Rather than reconsider the decision, the P-I instead decides to use the story as a contest for haiku writers. First, the P-I explains why it doesn't feel a community responsibility to help the FBI: The P-I last year reported that according to a Justice Department inspector general's assessment, Puget Sound's ferries were the nation's No. 1 target for maritime terrorism. This may well be a case of alert citizens spotting a very real threat. But running a photograph of two men who may as easily be tourists from Texas as terrorists from the Mideast with a story that makes them out...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Freedoms Watch, New Design

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), I'll be talking with NZ Bear about the new Freedoms Watch site, which has the support of the Victory Caucus. We'll also talk about the new site design launched here at CQ today, when I will explain some of the new features implemented by The Blog Studio (which is still working hard behind the scenes as I write this). We may shorten the show today as needed while we implement all of the functionality. UPDATE: Don't miss Political Vindication Radio at 6 pm PT! John Hawkins at Right Wing News is their guest tonight, and they'll be discussing Ron Paul's base of support. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Has Maliki Ended The Insurgency?

Earlier today, the Italian news service AKI reported that the presumed leader of the largest insurgency in Iraq will start cooperating with the Iraqi government. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of the highest-ranking members of Saddam Hussein's government, reportedly pledged to work with Iraqi and American forces to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq: The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party's former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat. "AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said. Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami. He figures in the 55-card deck of "most wanted" officials from the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Welcome To The New CQ!

As CQ readers have already surmised, we launched the new site design this afternoon. We've made quite a few changes, and I'd like to walk you through some of them -- and get your feedback on this thread. The site had not been substantially updated in more than three years. My previous designer did a good job, but I wanted a site that looked less like a hobby and more like a profession. Michelle Malkin kindly referred me to the firm that did her recent site redesign, The Blog Studio. I worked with Peter and Lucia to develop the goals of the conversion. First, I wanted the site to load much more quickly than it did previously. It sometimes took forever to get the site to load, causing me and readers a lot of frustrations. I also wanted less contrast in the color scheme. I liked the navy blue but...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Guns Out Of Control In Gun-Control Britain

British laws have some of the most restrictive gun-control regulations in the West. Even so, for years the British have seen gun crime skyrocketing as more and younger criminals realize the advantage they have with a firearm in hand: The number of young people prosecuted for firearms offences has soared by 20 per cent in the past five years, it was revealed earlier this month. In 2001, 1,193 youngsters under age 21 went to magistrates courts on gun related charges. By 2005, that had risen to 1,444. The statistics come after a recent wave of gun crime in Britain’s inner cities, with many victims not even out of their teens. Shadow home affairs minister James Brokenshire said: “The rise in gun crime demonstrated by these figures is alarming.” In April Bernard Hogan-Howe, the chief constable of Merseyside Police, insisted new laws to make reporting information on shootings and possession of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 23, 2007

Did Clinton Lie About Targeting Bin Laden?

It appears that Bill Clinton may have exaggerated his record when it came to strategizing against Osama bin Laden. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball take a look at the Inspector General's report of the pre-9/11 intelligence failures at the CIA and find an interesting nugget. Despite Clinton's angry assertion to Chris Wallace in last year's controversial Fox interview, he never gave the CIA an assassination order regarding bin Laden (h/t: CQ reader Mark): The report also criticized intelligence problems when Bill Clinton was president, detailing political and legal “constraints” agency officials felt in the late 1990s. In September 2006, during a famous encounter with Fox News anchor Wallace, Clinton erupted in anger and waived his finger when asked about whether his administration had done enough to get bin Laden. “What did I do? What did I do?” Clinton said at one point. “I worked hard to try to kill...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Frank Discussion On FISA

The El Paso Times caught National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell in an unusually talkative mood. They posted the transcript of what they call a "debate" with one of the Times' reporters about the effect the FISA debate in Congress had on the collection of foreign communications. McConnell makes it plain that the insistence on requiring warrants just because communications touched American switches not only took too much time, but it also tied up translators who had to testify to the communications in question: Q: Can't you get the warrant after the fact? A: The issue is volume and time. Think about foreign intelligence. What it presented me with an opportunity is to make the case for something current, but what I was really also trying to put a strong emphasis on is the need to do foreign intelligence in any context. My argument was that the intelligence community should not...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Romney Flip-Flop On Abortion?

Mitt Romney has had a tougher time on abortion than Rudy Giuliani in this presidential cycle. Rudy had a momentary stumble that finally forced him to state his support for abortion rights. Romney has tried to play down his earlier support of abortion through acknowledging his change of position and assuring voters that he will remain strong on the subject. Unfortunately, he stumbled yesterday, not so much on abortion as on federalism: Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said this week that as president he would allow individual states to keep abortion legal, two weeks after telling a national television audience that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure nationwide. In an interview with a Nevada television station on Tuesday, Romney said Roe. v. Wade should be abolished and vowed to "let states make their own decision in this regard." On Aug. 6, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Singin' In The Rain

The Democrats and Charles Grassley have proposed an expanded tax on equity partnerships to offset a middle-class tax cut -- a typical soak-the-rich plan that will rain on a lot more people than politicians think. However, it won't soak the people most able to buy umbrellas, according to a new study by the Institute for Law and Economics at Penn. In fact, it will raise much less money than promised, and possibly none at all: Congressional efforts to more than double taxes on managers of private-equity firms will generate little or no additional revenue to help pay for middle-class tax cuts that many lawmakers are seeking, a new study shows. Buyout and venture-capital firms will restructure their affairs to sidestep any new tax laws aimed at their executives, according to the paper by Michael Knoll, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. ... Knoll's study may be...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

AARP Poll Shows Fluidity On Both Sides Of The Aisle

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) conducted a wide-ranging survey of its membership in five key primary states. Contrary to some analyses of the overall electorate, the AARP found that Democrats and Republicans alike were overwhelmingly open to changing their minds about their favored candidate -- and that the change would most likely come on financial and health-care issues: Two domestic issues of importance to AARP members - financial security and health care - are explored in depth with questions about how well candidates address each issue and who can best break through special interest and partisan gridlock to make real progress in these areas. In general, AARP members in all five states are following candidate coverage, but have not settled on presidential preferences which may change as they learn more about candidates' positions on the issues. A majority of respondents planning to participate in the primaries or caucuses...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Paul Celucci, NIE, AARP Poll

Please note: we are working on the comment scripts. If you click "Post", your comment will register, even if the screen fails to reload properly. Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we'll talk with Rudy Giuliani advisor Paul Celucci on tax and economic policy. We'll get more detailed in what Team Rudy will do if elected. We'll also review the NIE that got leaked a couple of hours ago, as well as look at the AARP poll for the five critical primary states. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Comments Closed For Repair (Update: Open Again)

Unfortunately, we seem to have introduced some weird loop into the comment scripting with the site changes. It's kept me from blogging most of the day and created astronomical server loads. Until we can address this later today, I've had to disable the comment script. It should be up and running later. In the meantime, if you want to comment on one of the posts, feel free to call my CQ Radio show today -- and you can bark directly at me! UPDATE: I've re-enabled the comment script, as we think we've found most of the problem. Later tonight, we're going to do a major rebuild and try to fix most of the outstanding issues. I will probably disable comments at that point until the rebuild finishes so we can ensure a clean, successful rebuild. In the meantime, the floor is yours!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NIE: No Real Surprises

The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq has leaked out of Washington this afternoon, and it consists of an update to the official January NIE. According to the most complete republication of the unclassified portion, it tells us little that has not already been known from the political debate over the direction of the war. Since the posting scripts got bombed out here earlier at CQ, I posted my analysis at Heading Right. (It's a good reminder to check there when CQ is having issues anyway.) Over at HR, I look at three reasons for optimism, two of which can be found in the report and one that arose after its completion. The report does a good job of honestly laying out the challenges in Iraq, which are formidable -- but we haven't lost yet, unless we quit....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fox, CBC Throw In The Towel (Update: Blacks, Native Americans Hardest Hit)

The Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News finally surrendered to reality and canceled the presidential debate scheduled for September 23rd. Most of the Democratic candidates refused to attend, claiming that Fox was so biased that they couldn't endorse it by appearing on their network (via Memeorandum): Fox News and a black political group say they will not hold a Sept. 23 Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, which the leading candidates already were planning to skip. A new date had not yet been set, Fox News spokesman Michael Murphy said Thursday. The campaigns of U.S. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards had said they would not participate in the debate. Opponents have criticized Fox as biased against Democrats. What did the CBC have to say about this disrespectful snub of their debate? CBC member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote at his website that the problem...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Should Crack Cocaine Get Stiffer Sentencing?

One of the odder aspects of the war on drugs has been the disparate treatment that different drugs get. No drug shows this difference more than cocaine. Produced and distributed by violent cartels in South America, it arrives in the hands of its American customers in two forms, powder and crack. One gets an average of 50% longer jail term than the other even though the two forms have essentially the same affect on its users. Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft has been actively working for equating drug sentencing for cocaine use, regardles of its form. She notes that a 2002 Sentencing Commission recommendation that would have achieved this never got implemented. This year, their new report to Congress -- their fourth on this subject -- recommends action again. They note that crack cocaine convictions get longer sentences than convictions for any other drug, regardless of quantities involved. The only one...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 24, 2007

Ten Stroll Past Sexual Assault In St. Paul

Twin Cities residents now have to share a moment of shame with New York City. Forty years ago, Kitty Genovese screamed for help when being murdered, and her Big Apple neighbors didn't lift a finger to help her -- not even to dial the phone to call the police. Yesterday, police in St. Paul say that at least 10 people saw a sexual assault take place in their hallway but did nothing to stop it: Although police say as many as 10 people witnessed a sexual assault in a St. Paul hallway, the suspect said he has no memory of what happened. Rage Ibrahim, 25, said he blacked out from drinking too much alcohol. But he said he wouldn't have committed rape. ... Surveillance video from a Highwood-area apartment hallway makes it clear that a sexual assault happened Tuesday, St. Paul police Cmdr. Shari Gray said. Prosecutors charged Ibrahim, of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Affirmative Action Hold Down The Number Of Black Attorneys?

The Wall Street Journal steps into the hornet's nest of racial politics today with a provocative commentary from Gail Heriot. She points to a UCLA study that claims race-based admissions policies to universities designed to boost African-Americans may have inadvertently created the already-noted disparity in Bar success. Professor Richard Sander's research indicates that affirmative action may have "mismatched" black law students by putting them above of their academic capabilities, and that better matching could have made them successful attorneys: Mr. Sander's original article noted that when elite law schools lower their academic standards in order to admit a more racially diverse class, schools one or two tiers down feel they must do the same. As a result, there is now a serious gap in academic credentials between minority and non-minority law students across the pecking order, with the average black student's academic index more than two standard deviations below that...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Brown Government Reneges On EU Plebescite

Gordon Brown didn't take long to hit full reverse on his campaign promise to allow a national vote on the new EU constitution. Conservative MP Daniel Hannan notes in the Telegraph that while Brown makes it sound as if conditions have changed, the only change has been Brown himself: Even by the Prime Minister's standards, it was an unusually hollow and perfunctory message: "I have been clear throughout that if we achieve, as we have achieved, our negotiating objectives, then I believe the proper way of considering this is through detailed consideration in Parliament itself." Clear throughout, eh? That wasn't what your last manifesto said. Its language could hardly have been more explicit: "We shall put it [the constitution] to the British people in a referendum and campaign wholeheartedly for a 'Yes' vote". In order to justify reneging on his promise, Mr Brown now has to pretend that the new...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Step Reached In Zimbabwe's Collapse

Earlier this week, I noted that Zimbabwe had begun accelerating towards collapse with the imposition of price controls, backed up by enforcement squads that provided little more than government-assisted looting. I wrote at the time that when state-created shortages threaten the economy, dictators attempt to stamp out the symptoms through even heavier state action rather than cure the original disease. Now Zimbabwe has almost no domestic capital left, thanks to Mugabe's ruinous economic diktats. That didn't stop Mugabe from taking the next step towards utter collapse -- chasing out foreign capital as well: President Robert Mugabe has paved the way to effectively seize control of foreign-owned companies, many of them British, dealing another blow to Zimbabwe's tottering economy. Under a bill laid before Zimbabwe's parliament, all firms undergoing structural changes, and any new investments in the country, must be 51 per cent controlled by "indigenous Zimbabweans". Paul Mangwana, the minister...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

I Guess The P-I Missed This, Too

ABC News reports that a number of suspicious incidents have been reported on ferries in the state of Washington, according to the FBI. Accordingly, they have issued warnings to local law enforcement and alerted the Coast Guard to heighten their awareness in the area: There have been a number of suspicious incidents this summer aboard Washington state ferries, which prompted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Coast Guard to increase security along the ferry lines and to issue a warning to law enforcement. "On several occasions since May 2007, members of the public and employees of the Washington State Ferry (WSF) have reported a number of suspicious activities aboard state ferries," said the note, sent out Wednesday to state and local law enforcement by the chief intelligence officer at DHS. The warning was issued as the hunt continues for two potential suspects that were observed on multiple Washington...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Has Fox Flamed Fred?

According to alert CQ reader Shelbysbest, an ardent Fred Thompson supporter, Fox News showed a rather dismissive attitude towards the proto-candidate on last night’s Special Report with Brit Hume. During the roundtable discussion in the second half of the show, the panel led by Hume made their distaste clear. At Heading Right, I have Shelbybest's transcript of the segment (Fox doesn't have it available yet). Understanding that this part of the program is explicitly opinion and not news, it doesn't cross any lines for me in terms of institutional bias. In fact, I like the roundtable that Brit Hume leads, especially for its inclusion of diverse points of view from Juan Williams and Mara Liasson. In this case, though, they have it wrong -- and I explain where they went off the rails on Fred....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Incentives Part Of New Bridge Effort

Minnesota's plan to replace the St. Anthony Bridge will take a page from California's expedited effort after the 1994 Northridge earthquake by incentivizing the contractors. They can earn an extra $27 million if they can complete the replacement by December 2008 -- and given the economic impact of the bridge's collapse, that may be a bargain: In its push to replace the I-35W bridge by December 2008, the state on Thursday offered contractors up to $27 million in incentives if they finish the job early. The team of contractors that will build the 10-lane bridge is expected to be announced three weeks from today, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said in issuing its official request for proposals on Thursday. The cost of the bridge, which will be built strong enough to carry light-rail trains, is estimated at $220 million to $270 million. The incentives are budgeted into the project and...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Duane Patterson, Week In Review

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson joins us again to review the week's stories. We'll talk about the Seattle P-I story regarding their refusal to publish the pictures of two men of interest in several incidents on Washington ferries, as well as the 9/11 conspiracy theory debunking at the History Channel, McConnell's interview about FISA, Newsweek's exposure of Bill Clinton's exaggeration on Osama bin Laden, and much more. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Attempting To Bridge The Real Internet Divide

I've been meaning to test the new CQ design with a YouTube presentation but just hadn't gotten around to it. This one should do nicely. It uses South Park animation to address the most bitter divide on the Internet, and reaches a conclusion that will satisy both sides. Hope you enjoy!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Pulled Pork In Placer County

The Club for Growth's RePork Card has had its first success. Placer County GOP chair Ken Campbell has announced that he will no longer endorse Rep. John Doolittle, the longtime Republican appropriator who scored a whopping 2% on anti-pork voting: Former Placer County Republican Party chairman Ken Campbell, a longtime financial backer of Rep. John Doolittle, said Friday that he is withdrawing his support of the nine-term Roseville Republican because he has betrayed his conservative roots. Campbell based his conclusion on a recent Club for Growth report on votes this year on 2008 spending bills to eliminate "wasteful pork projects." Doolittle scored just 2 percent, the average score for Democrats and well under the Republican average of 43 percent. Campbell has been a longtime supporter of Doolittle, with about $10,000 in political contributions to his reelection in the last decade. The most recent contribution was $400 in May. Doolittle has...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Politicizing Terror

One of the accusations commonly tossed at the Bush administration is that they politicize the war on terror. Critics use every warning from the White House about elevated threat levels to claim that the administration wants to get some sort of political boost from the announcement. It reached its nadir when Madeline Albright and Teresa Kerry both claimed six weeks before the 2004 election (see update below) that Bush had Osama bin Laden locked up and would announce it as an October Surprise, the dumbest and least-realized political meme ever. Now Hillary Clinton has decided to play the same game, with a silly analysis of who would benefit from a terrorist attack on the US (via Memeorandum): Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday raised the prospect of a terror attack before next year's election, warning that it could boost the GOP's efforts to hold on to the White House. Discussing the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NFL Gives Vick The Pete Rose Treatment

Hours after releasing an admission that he had helped kill dogs and had bankrolled gambling as part of a dogfighting operation, Michael Vick got an indefinite suspension from the NFL. Commissioner Roger Goodell cited the "cruel and reprehensible" nature of Vick's acts, but it does not necessarily preclude Vick from a return to gridiron action in the future: The NFL indefinitely suspended Michael Vick without pay Friday just hours after he acknowledged in court papers that he did, indeed, bankroll gambling on dogfighting and helped kill some dogs not worthy of the pit. Vick, however, insisted he placed no bets of his own nor took any winnings. In disciplining Vick, commissioner Roger Goodell said Vick’s admitted conduct was “not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible” and regardless whether he personally placed bets, “your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Isn't Robert Fisk A Journalist?

Allahpundit piqued my curiosity with his link to Robert Fisk's latest screed at the Independent, wherein he claims to be unable to find answers to many questions about the 9/11 attacks. Don't call me a conspiracy theorist, he says, and "spare me the plots", but he implores Karl Rove to tell him about how the Bush administration created the reality of 9/11. But spare him the plots, of course. This puzzles me, because Robert Fisk claims to be a journalist, and one would expect a journalist to understand how to conduct research. Let's see if we can help Mr. Fisk with his questions, which unfortunately get spread throughout a paranoid harangue. Where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Shockingly, this information actually can be found at Popular Mechanics, along with eyewitness testimony: Blast expert Allyn E. Kilsheimer was the first structural engineer to arrive...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 25, 2007

Winning The Jimmy Carter Sweepstakes

The Barack Obama campaign won an endorsement that sounds more like a kiss of death to anyone who survived the Jimmy Carter era. Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who oversaw the disastrous foreign policy of the Carter administration, picked Obama to be the next Carter: Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the most influential foreign-policy experts in the Democratic Party, threw his support behind Barack Obama's presidential candidacy, saying the Illinois senator has a better global grasp than his chief rival, Hillary Clinton. Obama ``recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America's role in the world,'' Brzezinski said in an interview on Bloomberg Television's ``Political Capital with Al Hunt.'' ``Obama is clearly more effective and has the upper hand,'' Brzezinski, who was President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, said. ``He has a sense of what is historically relevant, and what is needed from...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August Recess Creating Space For Petraeus

The Politico notes that the Congressional recess in August, which Democrats hoped to use to create momentum for withdrawal legislation, has instead brought an inertia to action for its members. Once at home with the constituents, the progress of the surge has Democrats hesitating on pulling the plug, and Republicans hesitant about extending the mission: August is a time ripe for political conversions. Members of Congress are away from Washington during a month-long recess. They’re talking to their constituents, reflecting on their political careers, jetting off on fact-finding trips to Iraq and other far-flung places and sometimes enduring vicious ad campaigns designed to sway their votes when they return in September. So perhaps it wasn’t a surprise when Rep. Brian Baird, a low-key Democrat from Washington State who has spent a career toiling away on local issues, suddenly came out in support of President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. ......

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

DNC Attacks Florida Democrats?

For once, Howard Dean is right, and he's likely to pay a large price for it. Dean warned Florida Democrats that he would refuse to certify their delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 2008 for their participation in fouling up the primary schedule, which has Florida Democrats irate: Florida lawmakers angrily assailed the Democratic National Committee and its chairman, Howard Dean, saying he is threatening to "disenfranchise" the state's voters by considering a plan to invalidate the state's presidential primary. The DNC's rules committee is to vote today whether to sanction Florida for violating party rules by moving its primary up to Jan. 29 and violating a party rule against holding a primary before Feb. 5. The action would deny Florida its delegates at the party's national convention next year and prohibit Democratic presidential candidates from campaigning in the state before the primary. In a conference call with reporters...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

NARN, The State Fair Edition Part 1

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line's John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you're in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station's Internet stream if you're outside of the broadcast area. Today, we're broadcasting from the Minnesota State Fair -- as we will next Saturday as well, and also from 5-8 pm all during this week! Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the conversation!...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

HuffPo Calls For Military Coup In USA

The Huffington Post published a plea to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs today to arrest George Bush for "conduct unbecoming" -- essentially, a military coup against the elected government of the United States. Martin Lewis claims that the military can arrest a President while not conducting a coup d'etat by focusing only on his role as Commander in Chief of the military: General Pace - you have the power to fulfill your responsibility to protect the troops under your command. Indeed you have an obligation to do so. You can relieve the President of his command. Not of his Presidency. But of his military role as Commander-In-Chief. ... In addition to relieving him of his command as Commander-In-Chief, you also have authority to place the President under MILITARY arrest. Lewis quotes extensively from the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but clearly his scholarship does not extend to the Constitution....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 26, 2007

Gonzales Out?

US News & World Report's Washington Whispers column dropped a tantalizing prediction on Friday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would soon depart. His replacement? The buzz among top Bushies is that beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales finally plans to depart and will be replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. Why Chertoff? Officials say he's got fans on Capitol Hill, is untouched by the Justice prosecutor scandal, and has more experience than Gonzales did, having served as a federal judge and assistant attorney general. Perhaps. Chertoff has long ties to the Bush administration, and would make a comfortable transition from Homeland Security to Justice. His familiarity with the DoJ will help soothe the roiling seas there and perhaps also help with its relationship to Congress. He got confirmed at DHS by a near-unanimous vote, with only Hillary Clinton objecting, thanks to Chertoff's role in the Whitewater investigation. Would Congress confirm...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Maliki: Hillary, Levin Should Tend Their Own Villages

Nouri al-Maliki may have a knack for American politics, even if he has proven somewhat disappointing in Iraqi politics. After Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin demanded Maliki's resignation or ouster, the Iraqi Prime Minister reminded them that they should concern themselves with their own turf and not his: Iraq's beleaguered prime minister on Sunday lashed out at American critics who have called for his ouster, saying Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Carl Levin need to "come to their senses." Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to hold his government together, issued a series of stinging ripostes against a variety of foreign officials who recently have spoken negatively about his leadership. But those directed at Democrats Clinton, of New York, and Levin, of Michigan, were the most strident. "There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Sobriety Of Fred

The Politico reports on Fred Thompson's latest speech in Indianapolis, and concludes that the soon-to-be candidate may have decided on a theme of even straighter talk than his friend, John McCain. The Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference got a sobering look at the challenges facing the nation from the former Senator, a surprising change from the normal upbeat presentations that other candidates normally give. Fred has a prescription for what ails America, too: Fred Thompson thinks the country faces a tough road ahead and he's not glossing over the problems we face. In fact, he's anxious to outline the daunting litany and appears to be basing his forthcoming campaign on the assumption that his party shares the same outlook. In a 25-minute after-dinner speech to attendees of the Midwestern Republican Leadership Conference here, Thompson offered a stark assessment of what he described as America's perilous condition. "I simply believe that on...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fair Tax Anything But?

Bruce Bartlett pushes back against the growing enthusiasm for the Fair Tax, the proposal to replace the income-tax system with a federal sales tax to eliminate the need for the IRS. Bartlett, a former Reagan and Bush 41 economist at Treasury, calls the proposal deceptive and more costly than anyone imagines: Rep. John Linder (R., Ga.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) have introduced legislation (H.R. 25/S. 1025) to implement the FairTax. They assert that a rate of 23% would be sufficient to replace federal individual and corporate income taxes as well as payroll and estate taxes. Mr. Linder's Web site claims that U.S. gross domestic product will rise 10.5% the first year after enactment, exports will grow by 26%, and real investment spending will increase an astonishing 76%. In reality, the FairTax rate is not 23%. Messrs. Linder and Chambliss get this figure by calculating the tax as if...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Brace Of Dhimmitude From American Newspapers

Twenty-five years ago, I followed the comic strip Bloom County avidly. Berkely Breathed's sense of the absurd and his flair for political and social satire surpassed anything on the comics page in the 1980s. Part Jules Pfeiffer, part Pogo, but with an original sensibility that transformed comics, Breathed made the comics page a must-read every day. Later, as he started to get less balanced and more advocative, the strip lost some of its luster, but even during its weakest moments outperformed almost every other satire in publishing. Breathed has spent the last several years working on a Sundays-only offspring of Bloom County called Opus, in which he gives us frequent flashes of his brilliance. Needless to say, I rarely agree with Breathed's point of view, but I can see the power of his satire and the truth behind some of what he skewers. Newspapers have delightedly snapped Opus up for...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Iraqis Reach Agreement On Reforms

It looks like the Iraqi political leadership remained on the job during their August recess. Representatives of all main sects in Iraq announced agreement on the most contentious issues, including a deal to initiate revenue sharing on oil production that concerned the American Congress most (via Power Line): Iraq's top Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political leaders announced on Sunday they had reached consensus on some key measures seen as vital to fostering national reconciliation. The agreement by the five leaders was one of the most significant political developments in Iraq for months and was quickly welcomed by the United States, which hopes such moves will ease sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands. ... Maliki's appearance on Iraqi television with the four other leaders at a brief news conference was a rare show of public unity. The other officials present were President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Sunni Vice...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 27, 2007

Page 9 At The WaPo Is As Good As It Gets

Let's say we're at war, and we're waiting for some specific action to take place to show us that our efforts are succeeding. Add in that the war itself would be rather controversial and that our political class is split as to whether we will ever see that specific action take place. Imagine that Congress and the White House have scheduled a showdown in the next couple of weeks to determine how much longer we will wait for that development. Now imagine that the specific action for which we've waited actually occurs. Where would you think that story appear in Washington's biggest newspaper? The front page, one might assume. Would you believe ... page 9? Iraq's top five political leaders announced an agreement Sunday night to release thousands of prisoners being held without charge and to reform the law that has kept thousands of members of Saddam Hussein's political party...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hamas Ordered To Prepare Massive Attack On Israel

Now that Hamas has consolidated its grip on Gaza, its leadership in Damascus has a new assignment for the terrorists. They have sent an order to Hamas to prepare a massive attack inside Israel -- from the West Bank: Yahiya Moussa, a member of the Hamas parliament in Gaza, said the organization did not change its policy regarding suicide attacks, Israel Radio reported Sunday evening. He said reports aired in Israeli media earlier Sunday were meant to "set the ground for renewed Israeli violence against the Palestinians." Moussa added, however, that Hamas was not in complete control over its activists and that "pressure against activists in the [West] Bank could lead bring about an explosion." A Palestinian source in Ramallah contradicted Moussa, and confirmed that the leadership in Damascus had indeed instructed West Bank Hamas members to carry out a large-scale attack. Earlier Sunday, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Migrants Self-Deporting In Arizona

Yesterday's Arizona Republic reported on an interesting phenomenon taking place as a new workplace identification law approaches implementation. Those workers with no documentation -- in other words, illegal aliens -- have begun to sell off their property and leave the state: Undocumented immigrants are starting to leave Arizona because of the new employer-sanctions law. The state's strong economy has been a magnet for illegal immigrants for years. But a growing number are pulling up stakes out of fear they will be jobless come Jan. 1, when the law takes effect. The departures are drawing cheers from immigration hard-liners and alarm from business owners already seeing a drop in sales. It's impossible to count how many undocumented immigrants have fled because of the new law. But based on interviews with undocumented immigrants, immigrant advocates, community leaders and real-estate agents, at least several hundred have left since Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano signed...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Gonzo Gone

Alberto Gonzales has resigned as Attorney General, apparently effective on confirmation of his replacement. He resigned Friday in a phone call to George Bush, but the President waited to announce it until he had a chance to meet with Gonzales in person: Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington. Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here. Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Attorney...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another Elian?

It appears that another custody case has started moving down the same path once trod by Elian Gonzales and Janet Reno. A Cuban father has demanded the return of his child after the mother emigrated to the US and no longer can provide care, but the Cuban expatriate community has aligned against the father in his custody battle: A Cuban father allowed his young daughter to emigrate legally to the United States with her mother to find a better life. But months later, the mother has become incapable of caring for the girl and the father wants to take the child home. It would seem a simple case, especially since the mother agrees her daughter should return to Cuba. Yet on the eve of the trial, a judge has warned that it could "inflame the community," where the battle over Elian Gonzalez nearly eight years ago divided the city and...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Sneak Peek At The Thompson Interview

I'm at the Minnesota State Fair all day today, thanks to a couple of scheduling issues that came up over the weekend. The Fred Thompson campaign offered me a chance to get a quick interview with the Senator at midday, and as you will hear on today's show, it was fairly quick -- around five minutes, which is as long as we could go in this madhouse. However, I think you will find it fascinating, especially in regards to the tone of his campaign and his Indianapolis speech. Thompson has a few words about the importance of this election and why it's important to talk straight to the American people. You won't want to miss it. I'm also including a recording of Thompson's press conference at the GOP booth here at the fair, in which he answers a lot of the questions asked by the readers here at CQ. He...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Chertoff Getting Less Traction; Bush Defends Gonzales

It appears that Michael Chertoff won't be making any lateral moves to the Department of Justice, if the rumors are any indication. In the aftermath of the statements coming from departing Alberto Gonzales and President Bush, the test balloon sent up over the weekend apparently encountered some stormy weather: Some senior administration officials floated Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff as a possible replacement, but others waved CNN away from Chertoff, saying that his nomination could run into problems because of his role during Hurricane Katrina. A source close to Chertoff said of a possible nomination, "this would be a surprise to Mike." Gonzales aides at the highest level and other top-level officials knew nothing about the announcement in advance, Justice Department sources told CNN. They were not informed until a meeting Monday morning, sources said, when Gonzales acknowledged he would be reading a statement later in the day. In terms...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Fred Thompson Interview

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), I'll broadcast my intervie of Fred Thompson from the Minnesota State Fair. Due to the candidate's brief time available, I'll record the interview and play it back live from the fairgrounds. This should prove logistically interesting, for a number of reasons. Today's show will likely go 30 minutes rather than the full hour, depending on those logistics. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

As If 2008 Wasn't Going To Be Tough Enough

Larry Craig, the Republican Senator from Idaho, paid a visit to Minneapolis in June, and apparently wanted the full tour of the Twin Cities. He went from the airport men's room to the hoosegow by the most direct route after attempting to importune an undercover police officer, according to Roll Call. Hot Air has the details: Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon. Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 28, 2007

Organized Anarchists For Authoritarianism

Mitch brought this story to my attention last night on our NARN broadcast from the State Fair. Local anarchists have begun to organize for the 2008 Republican National Convention, and they started off with an implicit threat of violence and lawbreaking: A group of activists who describe themselves as "anarchists and anti-authoritarians" will hold a private strategy session over the Labor Day weekend to discuss plans to protest at the Republican National Convention to be held in St. Paul Sept. 1-4, 2008. The group, called the RNC Welcoming Committee, held a news conference on Monday at the Jack Pine Community Center on Lake Street in Minneapolis, where Bea Bridges, speaking for the commitee, showed a video that hinted at confrontational tactics, read a statement and walked out, taking no questions. First, let's muse for a moment on the concept of organized anarchists. Isn't anarchy the rejection of any kind of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

A Writer Surrenders

CQ readers may never have heard of Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi writer who finds herself without a nation at the moment, but she has a similar dilemma as the more famous Salman Rushdie. Nasrin fled Bangladesh for her life after writing a critique of Islam, and now India may expel her for the same reason: In the second week of August, she was physically assaulted by a Muslim religious group at the launch of a translation of one of her controversial novels in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. A week later, in Calcutta, Muslim clerics issued a "death warrant," threatening to kill Ms. Nasrin - who is Muslim, although a critic of Islam - if she did not leave the country. This week Forward Bloc, part of the leftist block supporting the Indian ruling alliance, announced that it would press for Ms. Nasrin's expulsion from the country, senior FB...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Iran To Cooperate On Uranium Program: Teheran

Has Teheran begun to feel the pressure of international sanctions and diplomatic isolation? Iran has announced that it willgive more cooperation on its nuclear effort, including a secret program that American intel showed had a definite military component: Iran on Monday offered some cooperation with an International Atomic Energy Agency probe of an alleged secret uranium processing project linked by U.S. intelligence to a nuclear arms program. The Iranian pledge was contained in a memorandum reached between Iran and the IAEA and published on the agency's Web site at the request of Tehran's mission to the agency. In it, Tehran also outlined its timetable for providing other sensitive information sought by the IAEA in its probe of more than two decades of nuclear activity by the Islamic republic, most of it clandestine until revealed more than four years ago. The document reiterated Iran's allegations that the search for information on...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Did Fred Phelps Move To Israel?

Even if Fred Phelps didn't move to Israel, it looks like he's opened a franchise there. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leader of the ultra-conservative Shas faction, has declared that Israeli soldiers die because they're not devout enough: An influential and outspoken rabbi has said Israeli soldiers died in battle because they were not ritually observant Jews, sparking outrage. ... “Is it any wonder if, heaven forbid, soldiers are killed in a war, when they don't observe the Sabbath, they don't observe the Torah, they don't pray every day, they don't put on phylacteries every day? Is it any wonder that they're killed?” “It's no wonder.” This is not an isolated incident. Yosef once called Hurricane Katrina God's curse on the US for supporting the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. He asked God to strike down Ariel Sharon at the time, and called another Israeli politician "Satan". In other words, he could...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Graham Returns From Reserve Tour Supporting The Surge

Lindsey Graham has returned from his Air Force reserve posting in Iraq to support the continuation of the surge. The South Carolina Senator, who has not been supportive of past military strategies in Iraq, claims that the US has seized on a historic opportunity almost by accident, as al-Qaeda has discredited themselves and prompted Iraqi tribes to work together: After serving two weeks of reserve duty in Iraq, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) yesterday called for continuation of the "surge" of U.S. troops in Iraq and warned that any decision to mandate a withdrawal this year would undercut critical gains made in recent months. Graham's comments come at a time when some of his colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), are calling for troop withdrawals. Graham, a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and a longtime supporter...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Brown Remains Defiant On EU Referendum

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a backbencher revolt over his refusal to acquiesce to a referendum on the new EU treaty. Brown claims that the treaty, which Tony Blair negotiated in his final days, has no connection to the failed EU constitution, on which Labour promised a referendum in 2005. His critics, which comprise a good part of his own Parliamentary faction, believe otherwise: The Government today insisted there would be no referendum on the new EU treaty, despite revelations in the Daily Telegraph that 120 Labour MPs now want a public vote. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said this morning that the treaty was different in "absolute essence" from the defunct European constitution, so the Government was not obliged to follow through on its manifesto pledge to hold a referendum. ... Mr Miliband was responding to revelations in today's Daily Telegraph that more than 120 Labour MPs, including...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Threat In Soft Focus

The US knows that al-Qaeda has a plot in the works to attack America. We know some of the tactical details. However, we don't know enough to generate a specific threat warning or to raise the threat level, according to the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, John Scott Redd. At Heading Right, I take a look at the "warning" Redd gives, and find it unsurprising. Redd gives an honest assessment of the threat and the reason for not elevating the warning level, which conspiracy-minded folks might actually understand. The threat he describes in the interview, and which Newsweek mistakenly underscores as the lede, is not the biggest threat to American security Redd discusses. Be sure to read the post and the interview....

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The Relativity Of Poverty

What does it mean to be poor, both here in America and elsewhere in the world? That question sounds philosophical but is fraught with political consequences. Elections get won or lost on the definition of poverty, and even more significantly, public resources get commandeered based on the perception of poverty in America. The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector takes a long look at the actual living conditions of American poverty and reveals some startling facts: Poverty is an important and emotional issue. Last year, the Census Bureau released its annual report on poverty in the United States declaring that there were 37 million poor persons living in this country in 2005, roughly the same number as in the preceding years.[4] According to the Census report, 12.6 percent of Amer­icans were poor in 2005; this number has varied from 11.3 percent to 15.1 percent of the population over the past 20 years.[5]...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Me And My Shadow

The Wall Street Journal has noticed a strange correlation between the donations of a major contributor to Hillary Clinton and a family living in a modest Daly City, California home. Despite having an annual income that would likely qualify as John Edwards' other America, the Paw family has contributed over $45,000 to Hillary's electoral campaigns -- on the same days as mega-donor Norman Hsu, who once lived at the same address: The Paw family is just one set of donors whose political donations are similar to Mr. Hsu's. Several business associates of Mr. Hsu in New York have made donations to the same candidates, on the same dates for similar amounts as Mr. Hsu. On four separate dates this year, the Paw family, Mr. Hsu and five of his associates gave Mrs. Clinton a total of $47,500. In all, the family, Mr. Hsu and his associates have given Mrs. Clinton...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: John Hawkins, Wide Stances, And South Park

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), John Hawkins joins us to talk over some big stories -- the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, Larry Craig's wide stances, and perhaps even Iran's shifting on nuclear inspections. However, we're going to leave room for a big debate on which South Park episodes belong in the Top Ten. Check out John's list and be sure to call with your favorites! We'll try to post some of the other worthy episodes that John left off his list. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

What Exactly Is The Crime?

Right at the beginning of the post, I'm going to state that I find Larry Craig's conduct in the Minneapolis-St Paul Airport reprehensible. I find his conduct during his arrest even more so, obviously trying to intimidate the arresting officer by giving him the Senate business card. Looking for sexual partners in public restrooms reflects very badly on Craig, and makes his political posturing on "family values" a joke. All that said, I think we have to ask ourselves about the nature of the crime itself. After reading the complaint, it hardly makes for a good case for police intervention, let alone convictions on disorderly conduct: “I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,”...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 29, 2007

Major Taliban Engagement Ends In Rout

Taliban forces ambushed American and Afghan troops in Kandahar province today -- and now probably wish they hadn't. They killed one Afghan soldier and wounded three others, but lost over 100 men when the Americans called airstrikes down on their position: More than 100 Taliban insurgents and allies have been killed in a major battle with US-led troops in southern Afghanistan, according to the US military. The fighting erupted after a convoy of Afghan and US coalition forces came under attack in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province and called in air support. There were no civilian casualties reported but one Afghan security force member was killed and three foreign troops and three Afghan soldiers were wounded. The Taliban continues to prove wildly inept at actual warfare. They lost 100-1 in this engagement -- when they had tactical surprise and presumably the best ground. In any rational armed force,...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hsu On The Lam

One of Hillary Clinton's major fundraisers turns out to also be a major felon on the run. Yesterday, connections to Norman Hsu turned up in a Wall Street Journal investigation into large donations from a family of modest means at Hsu's old address. Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that Hsu lammed it after agreeing to serve a three-year stretch for grand theft (via Hot Air): For the last 15 years, California authorities have been trying to figure out what happened to a businessman named Norman Hsu, who pleaded no contest to grand theft, agreed to serve up to three years in prison and then seemed to vanish. "He is a fugitive," Ronald Smetana, who handled the case for the state attorney general, said in an interview. "Do you know where he is?" Hsu, it seems, has been hiding in plain sight, at least for the last three years. ......

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Edwards: One Of The Americas Can Engage In Conspicuous Consumption

John Edwards got a big round of applause from union workers in Florida when he shared his policy direction on the environment. He told the crowd that Americans should be prepared to sacrifice, and the first sacrifice should be the sports-utility vehicles that American drivers prefer: Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group that he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles. "I think Americans are actually willing to sacrifice," Edwards said Tuesday during a forum held by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "One of the things they should be asked to do is drive more fuel efficient vehicles." The former North Carolina senator was asked specifically if he would tell them to give up their SUVs, he said, "Yes." Well, SUVs have been the target of environmentalists for years, even as most of them have become more efficient. They...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

More On The Seattle Ferry Story

As more news outlets look into the story of the pair wanted for questioning by the FBI after a series of incidents on Seattle ferries, the more details start sneaking out about their odd behavior. CNN reports on the story today, and unlike the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the pictures of the two men accompany the story: Members of the public and ferry workers reported the men to authorities after the two were seen pacing in areas of the boat, including a cargo hold, as if trying to measure distances, FBI Special Agent Larry Carr said Tuesday. The men were also seen about two months ago taking photographs of the ferries -- including restricted areas -- and studying an emergency evacuation poster. The men were spotted on multiple ferries and ferry routes, Carr said. Initially, in the Seattle P-I's report, the men were asking unusual questions on the one ferry. ABC's follow-up...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Primary Whack-A-Mole With A Marshmallow Hammer

Earlier this week, the Democratic National Committee touched off a feud with its state party in Florida by threatening to bar their delegates if they did not change their primary date back to comply with the rules. The Republican National Committee followed suit with warnings to four states who have tried to elbow their way to the front of the line on primary election dates. Florida, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Michigan all face the loss of delegates to the convention if they do not take action to comply with party scheduling rules. At Heading Right, I ask whether either party can actually instill discipline at this point, even if they wanted to do so. Which of the two major parties want to have a scene of protest and disunity on the cusp of a presidential election? If the only other option is federal intervention, will the parties be able...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Sadr Backs Down

Moqtada al-Sadr, who has tread lightly on Iraq's stage for the past several months, announced today that his Mahdi Army will undergo rehabilitation. It will take the next six months to reorganize itself, and in the meantime will conduct no offensive operations in Iraq, including actions against American forces: Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered a six-month suspension of activities by his Mahdi Army militia in order to reorganize the force, and it will no longer attack U.S. and coalition troops, aides said Wednesday. The aide, Sheik Hazim al-Araji, said on Iraqi state television that the goal was to "rehabilitate" the organization, which has reportedly broken into factions, some of which the U.S. maintains are trained and supplied by Iran. "We declare the freezing of the Mahdi Army without exception in order to rehabilitate it in a way that will safeguard its ideological image within a maximum period of six...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Poverty Rates Drop In US

For the first time in years, even the Census Bureau has noted a drop in American poverty, mostly among Hispanics. For the elderly, the poverty rate hit a low not seen since the Eisenhower administration -- and given the rather loose definition of poverty in America, the data seems compelling that the pro-growth policies of the last 25 years have delivered on their promise: The nation’s poverty rate fell in 2006 for the first time this decade, the Census Bureau reported today, even as the percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage hit a record high. The results were not consistent across racial or age groups. For Hispanics, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points to 20.6 percent, while for whites, blacks and Asians, it remained statistically unchanged. For elderly people, the poverty rate was among the lowest since 1959, when the government began collecting such data. Interesting. The...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

CQ Radio: Robert Rector On Poverty

Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation joins me to talk about his latest paper on poverty in the US. You will be surprised about the definition of poverty in America and its effect on public policy. Don't miss this interview, especially if you care about entitlement spending and the ticking time bomb it represents. King Banaian joins us. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

The CQ Rollercoaster

It's been a fun day at CQ -- the comment scripts still have their problems, and once again they locked me out of the site and dented my blog output, as well as other work-related issues that I had to put aside. We've unknotted most of them, and I'm reopening comments once more. Tonight, I'm making the last of my weekday appearances at the Minnesota State Fair for AM 1280 The Patriot. Tonight my co-host will not be Mitch Berg but Colonel Joe Repya, a local legend and a tremendously fine man. We'll talk about Iraq with Col. Repya, who served multiple tours there, especially about the latest developments. We will also talk politics regarding the special session for the bridge, the problems with the primaries, and maybe even get to John Edwards' sacrifice offsets. If you get the chance, be sure to listen on the Internet stream at the...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

GOP To Craig: We Love Ya ... Too Bad You Gotta Run

Larry Craig defended himself yesterday by insisting that he had done nothing wrong, and that his decision to plead guilty was a mistake that he regretted. He also insisted that he would keep his Senate seat and didn't rule out running for re-election. However, some of his colleagues would prefer to see him running for the next flight back to Idaho, even in the White House: Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's political support eroded significantly Wednesday as three fellow Republicans in Congress called for his resignation and party leaders pushed him from senior committee posts. The White House expressed its disappointment, too — and not a word of support for the 62-year-old lawmaker, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge stemming from an undercover police operation in an airport men's room. Craig "represents the Republican party," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, the first fellow GOP member of Congress...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

August 30, 2007

Requiem For A Betrayed Hero

Richard Jewell died yesterday at 44, the victim of diabetes and kidney failure. Richard Jewell's public reputation died eleven years ago, the victim of a mistake by law enforcement and a media blitz that did its best to paint him as a psychopathic bomber with absolutely no evidence -- when all Richard Jewell had done was save lives. In this instance, the New York Times gets it right: Richard A. Jewell, whose transformation from heroic security guard to Olympic bombing suspect and back again came to symbolize the excesses of law enforcement and the news media, died Wednesday at his home in Woodbury, Ga. He was 44. ... The heavy-set Mr. Jewell, with a country drawl and a deferential manner, became an instant celebrity after a bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in the early hours of July 27, 1996, at the midpoint of the Summer Games. The...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

When Exactly Did Art Die?

At least the latest travesty in the art world comes Down Under rather than the US, but that only shows how global the collapse of art from a meaningful form to an anti-Christian realm of bigots has become. The latest examples are entrants in the Blake Prize competition in Australia, which features a statue of the Virgin Mary in a burqa and a holographic image of Jesus that transforms into ... Osama bin Laden: THE artist behind a controversial work depicting terrorism mastermind Osama bin Laden morphing into Jesus today asked people to look deeper into the work. Queensland artist Priscilla Bracks denied she had deliberately set out to be offensive. "Absolutely not, no, no. I am not interested in being offensive. I am interested in having a discussion and asking questions about how we think about our world and what we accept and what we don't accept," she told...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Another National Health Care System Horror Story

The lack of facilities in a national health-care system has resulted in the death of a newborn. Japan, whose system has been cited as a model for the United States to consider, has few medical facilities in their rural areas, and the lack of obstetricians led one couple to be turned away from eight hospitals when the mother-to-be went into labor: Japan's health minister has pledged to address the shortage of doctors in the country after a woman in labour was turned away by eight hospitals. A ninth hospital refused to admit her even after she miscarried in an ambulance and her baby died. The woman, who was in the sixth month of her pregnancy, lived just three minutes away from a hospital. But she was forced to travel 70km (45 miles) by ambulance looking for a facility that would admit her. Actually, the ninth hospital initially agreed to accept...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Fred Thompson Interview Transcript

On Monday, I had the opportunity to interview Fred Thompson briefly between stops at the Minnesota State Fair. I aired the recording of the interview the same day on my CQ Radio show, along with a recording of the press conference that preceded it. For those who missed the show, I have the transcript of my one-on-one walking interview with the presidential aspirant, who discusses the tone he wants to set with his upcoming campaign. EM: I’m Ed Morrissey from Captain’s Quarters. FT: Oh, Captain’s Quarters, yea EM: Well thank you very much for agreeing to talk to me for a little bit here Senator. FT: Well, not at all … Captain’s Quarters! I’m a big fan of yours. We’ve dealt with similar subjects in times past EM: Yes we have, Federalism is among them. … Senator, what do you see as the most pressing foreign policy issue outside of...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Hillary Not Hsu Happy

Hillary Clinton has decided to return some of the money donated to her campaign through Norman Hsu after learning of his outstanding warrant for fraud and failure to appear. She will direct $23,000 to charity, less than half of the amount identified by the Los Angeles Times that came from the Paw family, whose connections to Hsu led to his exposure as a convicted con man: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign said yesterday that it would give to charity $23,000 it had received from a prominent Democratic donor, and review thousands of dollars more that he had raised, after learning that the authorities in California had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a 1991 fraud case. ... On his own, Mr. Hsu wrote checks totaling $255,970 to a variety of Democratic candidates and committees since 2004. Even though he was a bundler for Mrs. Clinton, his largess was spread...

« July 2007 | September 2007 »

Democrats Split Over Terrorism

After essentially caving on FISA legislation, Democrats have started to turn on each other, according to the Washington Post. Activists blame Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for failing to use their majorities to turn back Bush administration policies, while conservative Democrats warn that the Left will push them back into minority status: A growing clamor among rank-and-file Democrats to halt President Bush's most controversial tactics in the fight against terrorism has exposed deep divisions within the party, with many Democrats angry that they cannot defeat even a weakened president on issues that they believe should be front and center. The Democrats' failure to rein in wiretapping without warrants, close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay or restore basic legal rights such as habeas corpus for terrorism suspects has opened the party's leaders to fierce criticism from some of their staunchest allies -- on Capitol Hill, among liberal bloggers and at...