« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 1, 2007

Another Reason Not To Do Business With China

The Chinese Army has targeted British companies that do business in China for Internet espionage. MI-5 has sent warning letters to over 300 firms, advising them that they run the risk of losing vital proprietary secrets through Chinese hacking. The warning casts a pall over Sino-British trade -- and perhaps trade with other nations as well: The Government has accused China of carrying out an internet spying campaign against vital parts of the economy, it has been reported. The head of the MI5 sent a letter to more than 300 senior executives at banks, accountants and legal firms earlier this week warning them of a web-based attack from Chinese state organisations. The letter warns that British firms doing business in China are being targeted by the Chinese army, which is using the internet to steal confidential information to benefit Chinese companies. It is believed to be the first time the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Putin Withdraws From Treaty

Vladimir Putin continues his saber-rattling with his withdrawal from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty. He signed into law the suspension, which will take place on December 12th, that will throw out the final Cold War treaty that kept Europe and Russia from flooding the borders with heavy arms and allowed the decades-long standoff to wind down peacefully. Putin says he wants a new treaty, one that allows Russia to defend itself: President Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday suspending Russia's participation in a major conventional arms treaty that had limited NATO and Russian military deployments in Europe. The Kremlin had been threatening all year to scrap the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, and on Friday Putin signed a law passed this month by parliament providing for that step. The suspension takes effect Dec. 12. Putin's decision comes two days before parliamentary elections and after a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Talk About Spin

Everyone expressed gratitude and relief at the end of the hostage crisis yesterday in Rochester, New Hampshire, when police arrested the disturbed man who created it. No one got hurt and a sick man will get the care he needs, and the community will receive protection from him as well. It demonstrated the competence and patience of the Rochester police department in resolving a standoff that only gained national attention because it took place in the campaign headquarters of Hillary Clinton. Somehow, later that evening, the Clinton campaign decided this makes Hillary look presidential, at least to Larry Sabato and the AP: And as soon as it ended, Clinton took full advantage of the opportunity she had unexpectedly been handed. In her New Hampshire press conference, she stood before a column of police in green and tan uniforms. She talked of meeting with hostages. She mentioned that she spoke to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Chavez Threatens US Oil Supply (Update: He'll Boycott Himself?)

Hugo Chavez, facing a potentially embarrassing defeat on his dictatorship referendum this weekend, has declared the opposition a CIA operation. He now says those voting against a potential lifetime presidency for himself will have cast a vote for George Bush, and threatened to cut off oil sales to the US if the CIA continues its operations against him: A threat by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop oil exports to the United States has raised the stakes over a Sunday referendum he has called in a bid to expand his powers. Chavez told tens of thousands of supporters late Friday he was putting Venezuela's oil field and refineries under military "protection" and would halt the exports "if this (referendum) is used as a pretext to start violence in Venezuela." He accused the US Central Intelligence Agency of preparing to spread unrest during the plebiscite in an effort to topple him,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Giuliani Scandal Expands, Somewhat

Everyone knew that the marital woes of Rudy Giuliani would get some play in the presidential race, but the extent of official expenses involved in the extramarital affair that led to his second divorce and third marriage may come as a surprise. New York newspapers have begun to dig into the expenses of Giuliani's security details to see how much the affair cost the Big Apple -- and so far, the results have not helped Rudy put the affair behind him. First, his explanations for spreading the billings to other offices didn't wash with other NYC officials, as ABC News reports: New questions were raised today about Rudy Giuliani's explanation for submitting police security expenses to obscure city agencies while he was mayor of New York and carried on a secret affair with his mistress, who also was given use of a police driver and city car. Giuliani said Thursday...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NARN, The Snowy Road 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 cover a lot of ground, including the CNN YouTube debate, the admission from Jack Murtha of the surge's success, and much, much more! Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the conversation!...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Was It Corruption?

Plenty of accusations have flown against CNN since the YouTube debate on Wednesday, but Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten may have the most serious charge. The LA Times' media critic levels charges of corruption against the network, claiming that its emphasis on illegal immigration as a lead topic -- and the large percentage of the debate's time it took -- intended on bolstering its Lou Dobbs show against tough competition (via Hugh Hewitt): Corruption is a strong word. But consider these facts: The gimmick behind Wednesday's debate was that the questions would be selected from those that ordinary Americans submitted to the video sharing Internet website YouTube, which is owned by Google. According to CNN, its staff culled through 5,000 submissions to select the handful that were put to the candidates. That process essentially puts the lie to the vox populi aura the association with YouTube was meant to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

TNR's Iraq And A Hard Place

The New Republic has published its findings in its internal investigation -- and it goes into great detail before finally retracting the stories of its Baghdad Diarist, Scott Beauchamp. The journey fascinates far more than the destination, a point we all knew they would eventually reach. In the long and meandering path Franklin Foer recounts, some interesting assumptions take place that will not go unchallenged. Meanwhile, here's the money quote: Several weeks after the monitored call in September, we finally had the opportunity to ask Beauchamp, without any of his supervisors on the line, about how he could mistake a dining hall in Kuwait for one in Iraq. He told us he considered the detail to be "mundane" given the far more horrific events he had witnessed. That's not a convincing explanation. If the event was so mundane, why did he write about it--and with such vivid detail? In accounting...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 2, 2007

Sistani: Ich Bin Ein Sunni

Earlier this week, the leading Shi'ite cleric in Iraq issued a fatwa that has largely gone unnoticed by the world media, but could have an impact on reconciliation and the political gridlock in Baghdad. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani forbade the killings of Sunnis by Shi'ites on Tuesday while meeting with Sunni clerics in an ecumenical council, and called for a renewed sense of Iraqi nationalism to replace sectarian divides in the country (via SCSU Scholars): Leading Shiite cleric in Iraq Ali Sistani Tuesday banned the killing of Iraqis, particularly the Sunnis, and urged the Shiites to protect their brother Sunnis. Sistani bans the Iraqi blood in general the blood of Sunnis in particular. His announcement came during a meeting with a delegation from Sunni clerics from southern and northern Iraq. The clerics are visiting Najaf to participate in the first national conference for Ulemaa of Shiites and Sunnis. Sistani called...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Brittania Fled The Waves?

Britain's navy cannot reliably handle a medium-scale operation, let alone a major war, after decades of decline and neglect. The shocking report on the Royal Navy comes as a shock to the island nation, whose navy not only defended it for centuries but came to define the British. The current government, already embroiled in a data-loss scandal, may suffer the consequences: The Royal Navy can no longer fight a major war because of years of under­funding and cutbacks, a leaked Whitehall report has revealed. With an "under-resourced" fleet composed of "ageing and operationally defective ships", the Navy would struggle even to repeat its role in the Iraq war and is now "far more vulnerable to unexpected shocks", the top-level Ministry of Defence document says. The report was ordered by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, who had intended to use it to "counter criticism" on the state of the Navy in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Iowa Shifts To The Populists

The Des Moines Register poll, the most reliable indicator for likely Iowa caucus-goers, shows major shifts in both parties for the presidential caucuses that will take place in five weeks. Iowa apparently has gone populist in both parties, with Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee surging to new leads in the state. For the national frontrunners, this may actually be good news: Barack Obama has pulled ahead in the race for Iowa's Democratic presidential caucuses, while the party's national frontrunner Hillary Clinton has slipped to second in the leadoff nominating state, according to The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll. Despite the movement, the race for 2008's opening nominating contest remains very competitive about a month before the Jan. 3 caucuses, just over half of likely caucusgoers who favor a candidate saying they could change their minds. Obama, an Illinois senator, leads for the first time in the Register's poll as...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Establishment Vote

In my post below, I postulate that losing Iowa will cause little heartache for Hillary Clinton. She leads in the delegate-rich states of the coast, and Barack Obama will not be able to pick up any momentum from his opening-night win, if in fact he pulls it off. However, there is a much more substantial reason why Hillary will win the nomination -- the party Establishment: The Associated Press contacted 90 percent of the 765 superdelegates, mostly elected officials and other party officers, who are free to support anyone they choose at the convention, regardless of what happens in the primaries. Hillary Rodham Clinton leads Barack Obama by more than a 2-1 margin among those who have endorsed a candidate. But a little more than half of those contacted — 365 — said they haven't settled on a Democratic standard bearer. "The fact that under half have publicly committed shows...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Retraction At The Tank

A couple of commenters on the latest TNR thread wonder whether we will hold National Review Online's The Tank to the same level of scrutiny as Franklin Foer and Scott Beauchamp. I had not actually heard about this controversy until I read the comments last night. Michelle Malkin covers this topic, though, and issues some rather scathing criticisms while noting the completely different approaches between TNR and NRO: W. Thomas Smith, Jr., a former Marine and milblogger who writes at National Review Online’s The Tank (and whose work in Iraq I’ve praised and linked to here), posts a long-winded defense of bogus, shoddy reporting he published while he was in Lebanon earlier this fall. It’s painful to read because he takes nearly 1,400 words to get to the main points: 1) He claimed he had seen “some 200-plus heavily armed Hezbollah militiamen” at a “sprawling Hezbollah tent city” when, in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 3, 2007

Chavez Loses -- But Does That Vindicate Him?

Hugo Chavez suffered a humiliating defeat at the polls for his referendum on dictatorship. He unexpectedly lost a narrow plebiscite that would have made numerous changes to Venezuela's constitution, including those that would have allowed him unfettered ability for re-election and personal control over most of Venezuelan public life. But did he become the ultimate winner in this loss? President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider. Voters rejected the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council. She said that with 88 percent of the votes counted, the trend was irreversible. ... Chavez said his respect for the outcome should vindicate his standing as a democrat. “From this moment on, let’s be calm,”...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Sharif's Boycott Endorsed By Election Commission

Pakistan has waited to see whether former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 8th. As it turns out, the Election Commission has insisted that Sharif do so, ruling him ineligible to run for office, thanks to his convictions for corruption that followed the coup d'etat of Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan's Election Commission on Monday barred former prime minister and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from a January 8 general election because of his criminal record. "His nomination papers are rejected because of his convictions," presiding election official Raja Qamaruzaman told Reuters in the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif's power base where last week he registered to run in the election. The two-time prime minister says the convictions secured against him in the wake of his 1999 ouster by the then army chief, Pervez Musharraf, were politically motivated. Sharif, who returned from seven years of exile...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Can The Dolphins Do It?

The NFL and its fans have a rare opportunity to follow two teams pushing for perfection in the same season. Tonight, the New England Patriots take on history again as well as the Baltimore Ravens in tonight's Monday night game, hoping to extend their unbeaten record in 2007. Yesterday, the Dolphins managed to clear the most significant hurdle in their quest for another kind of perfection: It's going to be tough to stop the Miami Dolphins now. The last realistic obstacle in their path to imperfect immortality -- the New York Jets -- came and went Sunday, dropping a 40-13 defeat on the Dolphins as easily as Miami quarterback John Beck dropped the football -- twice -- when he wasn't throwing it to Jets defenders. After three interceptions and two lost fumbles by Beck, the Dolphins were left at 0-12 with four games to play. They are the seventh team...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Faith In America

Mitt Romney has decided to give "the speech" -- an address he prepared earlier this year to explain his Mormon faith and why it presents no threat to the Republic. He will deliver this oration at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on Thursday, hoping to dispel the remaining vestiges of doubt over his qualifications for the presidency. Entitled "Faith in America", the speech will bring the Mormon question directly into the mainstream of political commentary. At Heading Right, I question the timing of this speech. It should have come much earlier in the campaign, not at a time where it looks like a defensive maneuver against a surging Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Also, is it a mistake to try to undo bigotry with apologetics, especially when the defender of the faith is running for President? Even if it is a mistake, though, "Faith in America" will be an...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Back In The Saddle Again

Don Imus made his return to the airwaves this morning, diminished but mostly unbowed, on WABC in New York City. The radio cowboy returns to the saddle months after his termination for using racially-insensitive criticisms of the Rutgers' women's basketball team, after which CBS Radio and MS-NBC both dumped him. While he says he learned his lesson, Imus also promises that the show itself will not change: Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday eight months after he was fired for a racially charged remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team, introducing a new cast that included two black comedians. As he did several times in the days after his comments, Imus condemned his remarks and said he had learned his lesson. ... While Imus pledged to use his new show to talk about race relations, he added: "Other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hillary Will Assail Obama's Character, Laughter Abounds

In what would qualify as satire, the Washington Post reports that Hillary Clinton's new strategy in Iowa will focus on Obama's character rather than his policy positions. Hillary has fallen behind Obama in recent polling in Iowa, and has decided to campaign against him more aggressively. However, given the track record of the Clintons, character hardly appears to be a winning forum for the national frontrunner: With a new poll showing her losing ground in the Iowa caucus race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) mounted a new, more aggressive attack against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday, raising direct questions about his character, challenging his integrity and forecasting a sharp debate over those subjects in the days ahead. Clinton has hammered Obama recently over his health-care proposal, arguing that he is misleading voters because it omits millions of people and would not lower costs. But Sunday, in a dramatic shift,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Is Huckabee The Anti-Rudy And The Anti-Mitt?

With Mike Huckabee rising unexpectedly in Iowa against a huge Mitt Romney organization, can he duplicate that success elsewhere against Rudy Giuliani? Will his squeaky-clean Baptist minister image get a boost from a recent ethics eruption that has Team Rudy struggling to answer? USA Today paints a picture of a candidate finding his footing just as the front-runners seem to have lost theirs: Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, the Republican long shot who in a new Des Moines Register poll has surged to the lead for the Iowa caucuses, could hardly be more different from the candidate who has led the GOP field nationally all year. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani entered politics as a big-city prosecutor; Huckabee as a rural preacher. Giuliani is out of synch with the GOP's social conservative core; Huckabee is its most consistent champion. Giuliani's calling card is his leadership against terrorism after the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Putting The M Back In OMB

That's the promise Rudy Giuliani makes in his Wall Street Journal column on fiscal conservatism today. Calling pork the "broken windows of the federal budget" and promising to restore accountability and common sense to federal spending, Rudy makes his case that his brand of fiscal conservatism provides the answer for Republican electoral woes, and America's financial health: With economic uncertainty weighing on the minds of many Americans, Congress is preparing to recess after another year of profligate spending, protectionist talk and promises of higher taxes. No wonder some people feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. But I'm optimistic as I look to the future. It's not our country that's moving in the wrong direction -- it's Congress, and Washington's culture of wasteful spending. Over the last decade, nondefense spending has increased by 65% -- the federal government currently spends $24,000 per household -- while the number of earmarked...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Franken: I Have Iraq Surrounded

The Norm Coleman campaign takes Al Franken seriously, at least seriously enough to do their homework on the former comedian, author, and talk-radio host. If Franken wins the nomination from Michael Cerisi to challenge Coleman in the general election, he will not find Coleman unprepared. The campaign has already readied its first ad, and this one -- on Franken's attempts to triangulate on Iraq -- will leave a big mark: Here are the key parts of the transcript, all of which come from video or audio recordings of Franken over the past eighteen months: “We have to start a withdrawal, I believe, and have a timeline." (10/5/07) “I’m not sure we should set a timetable myself. I may actually, oddly enough, agree with Bush here." (6/16/06) “I neither spoke out advocating the war or against the war." (8/21/07) “Well, first of all, I never spoke out in favor of this...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

David Keene, The NRO Controversy On Heading Right Radio Tomorrow

Note: This post will remain on top until show time. Newer posts can be found below. Tomorrow on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we have two great guests joining us. First, David Keene from the American Conservative Union joins us to discuss his personal endorsement of Mitt Romney, plus the tough season it has been for conservatives and how we can regain momentum. In the second half of our show, Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online will discuss the controversy raging over the posts at NRO's The Tank and NRO's response to it. We'll get into the details and discuss what NRO can and will do from this point forward, and how its response stacks up against that of Franklin Foer and The New Republic. UPDATE: I'll be asking about Andrew Sullivan's post regarding Mitchell Prothero, too. I'd like to get more detail on the entire controversy, so...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NRO: Still Learning The Lessons

Earlier this afternoon, Kathryn Jean Lopez joined me on Heading Right Radio to discuss the continuing controversy over reporting at The Tank by Thomas Smith. Smith wrote two posts at The Tank in September which got events spectacularly incorrect, as recapped ably by retired Washington Post journalist Thomas Edsall at the Huffington Post. Both Michelle Malkin and Rick Moran wrote highly-linked articles on NRO's reaction to the exposure of the blown stories, both castigating Smith; Michelle praised Kathryn's reaction to the challenge, while Rick insisted that Smith be fired. Andrew Sullivan added a series of posts challenging Kathryn's response, noting claims that she and NRO had been notified of the problem weeks earlier and had ignored it. For full disclosure, Kathryn has on occasion asked me to contribute to NRO for on-line symposiums on specific topics. I don't believe I've ever done anything for pay at National Review, although I...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Why We're Not Bombing Iran

Some have expressed frustration at the slow pace of diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear program. A recent setback in Europe created more calls for targeted military strikes against Iran's known nuclear facilities, and military-intervention advocates wondered why the Bush administration didn't strike at once. Wait long enough, and the Iranians would produce a mushroom cloud for a smoking gun. The intelligence community has a different analysis of the situation: A new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, contradicting judgment two years ago that Tehran was working relentlessly toward building a nuclear bomb. The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy. The assessment, a National Intelligence Estimate that represents the consensus view of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

When Did Scott Ott Become Hillary Clinton's Campaign Manager?

All right, I know a great satire site when I read it. Scott Ott must have contracted with the Hillary Clinton campaign for this argument, right? Only a true satirist or a complete idiot would go after a campaign opponent for his academic record -- in kindergarten! Claiming that Barack Obama didn't tell the truth when he said that his presidential run wasn't the result of some long-held plan, Hillary dug up the evidence after checking the Crayola signatures (via Best of the Web): In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07] In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 4, 2007

The Myth Of The Anti-Muslim Hate Crime Wave

To hear CAIR tell the story, Americans have conducted a wave of hate crimes against Muslims that put them at greater and greater risk as time goes on. They highlight every perceived injustice as a means of shaming Americans into believing that Muslims in our midst have been the greatest victims of terrorism, thanks to our innate bigotry. However, as Investors Business Daily discovered when they looked at the FBI's numbers, anti-Muslim hate crime has dropped dramatically since 9/11 -- and another group remains far more likely to be victimized: Not only are anti-Islamic hate crimes way down, but they're a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. The overwhelming majority of such crimes target Jews, something CAIR and other Muslim groups don't seem all that concerned about. In 2006, a whopping 66% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jews, while just 11% targeted Muslims, even though the Jewish and Muslim...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Patriots Stay Unbeaten With Baltimore's Help

It looked as though the New England Patriots would lose their perfect season in Baltimore last night. On a desperation fourth-down play, Tom Brady couldn't execute the sneak to get the final yard, and the Ravens took over on downs -- except that their bench had called a time out just before the play to ice the Patriots. That one misstep encapsulated a quarter in which the Ravens gave the game back to the Pats in a nailbiter that kept New England perfect for at least another week: The New England Patriots, pushing for the first undefeated season by an NFL team in 35 years, marched into Baltimore on Monday night and nearly ended up with a bruised ego and an embarrassing loss. Thanks to willpower and sheer luck, the Patriots defeated the Ravens, 27-24, and walked off with their 12th straight victory. Behind, 24-20, with less than three minutes...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Is The Gray Lady Bailing On Hillary?

The New York Times offers an unusually pessimistic appraisal of Hillary Clinton's effect on the 2008 down-ticket races. Carl Hulse reports that Congressional incumbents and candidates have begun to fear that her nomination will energize a dispirited opposition and could cost the Democrats the seats they gained in 2006. It's not exactly a new thought, but usually it gets expressed as Republican optimism (via Memeorandum): Nancy Boyda, a Democrat who ran for Congress in this district last year, owed her upset victory partly to the popularity of the Democratic woman at the top of the ticket: Kathleen Sebelius, who won the governor’s seat. Now, with a tough re-election race at hand in 2008, Ms. Boyda faces the prospect that her electoral fate could be tied to another woman: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mrs. Clinton is a long way from winning the Democratic presidential nomination, and over the last few weeks...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

No Delay On NIE

After yesterday's release of the declassified National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, a number of pundits assumed that the White House had suppressed the report for months. The conclusions of the NIE -- that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons "years earlier" -- led people to believe that the Bush administration had kept it locked away so it could pursue a policy of war against Iran. As the Washington Post reports this morning, the conspiracy theorists have overreached again (via Rick Moran): While concluding that Iran's weapons program is now halted, the NIE presents a mixed view of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. It portrays Iran's ruling clerics as susceptible to international pressure, having abandoned an extensive and costly covert nuclear program in the face of threatened economic sanctions and global censure. But the report also depicts Iran as cleverly preserving its options, by making steady strides toward a civilian nuclear energy capability...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Yulia Ascendant, For Now

Yulia Tymoshenko will likely return to the position from which Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko dismissed her in a split amongst the reformers last year. Tymoshenko, seen by some as the poster woman for the Orange Revolution, reconciled with Yushchenko enough to see their parties garner a two-vote majority in parliament. Her return as Prime Minister effectively benches the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich: A coalition of two parties linked to Ukraine's pro-Western "Orange Revolution" proposed Yulia Tymoshenko on Tuesday as their candidate to be restored in her old job as prime minister. Members of parliament representing Our Ukraine, the party of President Viktor Yushchenko, and Tymoshenko's bloc unanimously approved the proposal in a room inside the parliament building. The coalition will now submit Tymoshenko's nomination to the president, who has 15 days to consider it and send it to the 450-seat parliament for approval. With Vladimir Putin extending his stay at the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Mumia Activists Protest Interview? Come On By!

Activists for the campaign to spring Mumia Abu-Jamal from Death Row for his murder of a Philadelphia police officer plan to protest outside Rockefeller Center Thursday morning. The widow of the victim has written a new book, Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice, and NBC will interview her on the Today show. The Free Mumia activists want "equal time" (via Michelle Malkin): SUPPORTERS of cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal are threatening to storm the streets of Rockefeller Center Thursday morning to protest the "Today" show. The New York-based "Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition" is infuriated that Maureen Faulker [sic] - the widow of Philadelphia police office Daniel Faulker [sic], whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering 25 years ago - is scheduled to appear on the show Thursday to promote her new book, "Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Pain, Loss and Injustice." The activists - who...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Where's Option B?

Congress has little courage in an election year. The Los Angeles Times reaches this startling conclusion today in a report on the prospects for fiscal responsibility in 2008. With all of Congress, a third of the Senate, and the White House up for grabs, it looks like pandering will take the place of discipline, to no one’s great shock. Fiscal responsibility means more than just jacking up taxes to match an increased spending level, as the Democrats believe. It’s more than just the Republican plan of cutting taxes, too, although that’s at least a start in the right direction. At Heading Right, I explain the option that Congress and the media have forgotten, and one on which voters must insist in the next election....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Gallup: Hillary Losing Ground (Update: Worse Than First Thought)

Recall the pushback when we linked to the Zogby poll that showed Hillary's support eroding at the end of November? The numbers showed Hillary losing ground against all Republican contenders, and had some correlation with Rasmussen's numbers as well. Nonsense, came the response; Gallup's polling in November -- two weeks earlier -- showed Hillary maintaining her momentum. Oops: Though both candidates maintain their leads, Rudy Giuliani continues to lose support and Hillary Clinton drops nine points in Gallup's latest poll. No text report has been posted by Gallup, but the trend for Hillary looks bad and seems to be accelerating. She had polled at 50% this summer, when she appeared invincible and her competition couldn't quit making mistakes. Now, after a gaffe-filled month capped by her attack on Barack Obama's kindergarten ambitions, Gallup has her at 39%, dropping eight points in a month. The news doesn't look good for Rudy...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Evil Genes?

At some point in our lives, most of us will have a personal encounter with someone who seems innately evil or cruel. They go out of their way to hurt people, or at least appear not to care whether they do damage with their actions or words. Most of us will assume that the person had a miserable life or some traumatic incident that turned them into a misanthrope, and with luck will avoid their destructive wake. Barbara Oakley has a different theory, one backed by some scientific research into the cerebral structure of unpleasant people -- and she believes it explains a lot about how Rome fell, Hitler rose, and her sister stole her mother's boyfriend: My sister stole my mother’s boyfriend. It wasn’t as if the boyfriend, Ted, was any great catch. At 85, he trundled about with a nose tube and oxygen tanks, hacking and snorting as...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Evil Genes; Pete Sepp Of The NTU

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we welcome Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes. Barbara will explain how her sister's misanthropy led to Barbara's quest to find how some people cannot avoid doing evil, both grand and petty. Her research raises intriguing ethical and moral dilemmas about the nature of self, accountability, and society's need to protect itself from predators. We'll also talk to Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union, who joins us to discuss the latest initiatives in Congress, especially on energy. As Vice President for Communications, Pete Sepp has helped to develop the 362,000-member NTU's public relations and promotional strategies. He maintains a library of information on tax and spending issues for use by the media, NTU members, elected officials, and the general public. He has written and edited...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hundreds A Day Returning To Iraq

The influx of former refugees into Iraq has reached a level that concerns the UN and the central government in Baghdad. Hundreds each day return from Syria and Jordan, enough to raise concerns about the "fragile" security in areas just now recovering from sectarian violence. The UN wants to start a returning-refugee fund to ease the transition: Iraq's government acknowledged Tuesday that it cannot handle a massive return of refugees, as the U.N. announced a $11 million relief package to help the most vulnerable Iraqi families trickling back to their war-ravaged homeland. The return of refugees is a politically charged issue in this country, where the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is eager to point to recent military gains against al-Qaida in Iraq and other militants as evidence that Iraq is now a relatively safe place. But the U.S. military has warned that a massive return of refugees...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hsustock Hits Federal Court

Another Hsu fell today on the foundering Hillary Clinton campaign as one of her biggest bundlers got indicted for fraud. Norman Hsu will face federal prosecution not just for the "massive Ponzi scheme" alleged in the charges, but also for multiple campaign-finance violations. The news hits the Clinton campaign already facing a significant drop in support over the past four weeks: A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Norman Hsu, a top Democratic fundraiser and former fugitive accused of cheating investors of at least $20 million and using some of the money to make illegal donations to political candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the 15-count indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the government accused the 56-year-old clothing-industry entrepreneur of duping investors nationwide with a massive Ponzi scheme. The government said Hsu also violated federal campaign finance laws by making contributions to various political candidates in the names...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Did Cafferty Cross The Line?

Hugh Hewitt and Duane Patterson link to this Jack Cafferty commentary at CNN tonight, discussing the speech Mitt Romney will give on Thursday, "Faith in America". Cafferty said that he felt the speech would be a waste of time unless Romney gave a detailed apologia regarding Mormon doctrine and practices. He based this on the supposedly secretive nature of temple practices and the small percentage of Americans who have experienced them: The specific quote from Cafferty is, "It's not like he's a Catholic or a Protestant or a Lutheran or a Methodist or a Baptist." The implication is that any minority religion would require an explanation for a candidate to be considered for public office. Cafferty said that 25% of voters in some polls would not vote for a Mormon, and unless Romney could change their minds, he had no chance of winning an election. We have two issues here...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 5, 2007

Confidence Games, High And Low

The NIE released on Monday said that Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons effort in 2003 after international pressure forced it to change directions, a conclusion in which the intel community had "high confidence". However, two years ago, the same intel community said that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons -- and had the same "high confidence" level in that conclusion as well. The Wall Street Journal wonders if the intel community hasn't played a confidence game on Iran, and notes a few of the players who might have reason to do so: As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that "Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons" and do so "despite its international obligations and international pressure." This was a "high confidence" judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 "in response to increasing international scrutiny." This too is a "high...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The New/Old Democratic Strategy On Iraq

The Democrats have a new strategy on Iraq war funding that looks a lot like the old strategy: chaos. Unable to come up with a way to meddle with the successful strategy of General David Petraeus, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will attempt to punt on additional funding until January. At that point, they may try to dump withdrawal timetables for a series of short-term appropriations that may wind up keeping troops in Iraq longer than they promised: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq's politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress. The new thrust has divided Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, some of whom say...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Mumia Memory Lane

Yesterday I asked readers to find the record of an ABC News report on Mumia Abu Jamal from almost ten years ago, one which exploded the myths of the Free Mumia movement. Incorrectly, I recalled John Stossel working that segment, or perhaps he did another piece independently, but reader Greg Lang of Soliah.com -- which follows the case of former SLA fugitive and murderer Kathleen Soliah/Sara Jane Olsen -- forwarded me the transcript of the show I remembered. Sam Donaldson reported on the 20/20 segment almost exactly nine years ago on the shooting of Daniel Faulkner, and the myths that arose from the defenders of the controversial defendant: Myth #1: The 44-Caliber Bullet DONALDSON: ... 20/20 has looked at the arguments both she and the free Mumia movement make on the key points. First, ballistics. Jamal's supporters say the bullet that killed Officer Faulkner was .44-caliber, not a .38, like...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Paintballing With The Stars Of The Jihad

The BBC paid for a paintball trip that included men now accused of training Islamic extremists for terrorism. The British television network included the activity in its "Don't Panic, I'm Islamic" reality series that poked fun at Western Islamophobia. In this case, however, the "joke" is on the Beeb (via Memeorandum): The BBC funded a paintballing trip for men later accused of Islamic terrorism and failed to pass on information about the 21/7 bombers to police, a court was told yesterday. Mohammed Hamid, who is charged with overseeing a two-year radicalisation programme to prepare London-based Muslim youths for jihad, was described as a “cockney comic” by a BBC producer. The BBC paid for Mr Hamid and fellow defendants Muhammad al-Figari and Mousa Brown to go on a paintballing trip at the Delta Force centre in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2005. The men, accused of terrorism training, were filmed for a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Sweatshops Of The Democrats

Barack Obama says that America needs serious rethinking of political issues. Apparently he includes child-labor laws as part of that recalculation. Time's Mark Halperin posts a new initiative by Obama on national service, entitled "A Call To Serve", that proposes a work schedule for middle-school children at which unionized Democrat adults would balk. Among the proposals: * Establish a goal of having middle and high-schoolers contribute at least 50 hours a week to community service, and reach that goal through national guidelines for service-learning and additional resources for schools to develop successful programs. * Create a new American Opportunity Tax Credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for Americans willing to complete 100 hours of public service a year. Fifty hours a week -- for community service? That's not a call, it's a sentence. When exactly will they do other tasks ... like...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

When Does Hillary Start Her Apologetics Tour?

Hillary Clinton has so many endorsements, she can’t keep them all straight. Her campaign may have to rely on that explanation after the AP looked through her list of ministers at a South Carolina event and found a few misrepresentations. The number of organizations endorsing Hillary appears significantly lower than implied on her web site. As campaign scandals go for Hillary, this is pretty mundane, but it does show considerable sloppiness. At Heading Right, however, I ask why Hillary can surround herself with ministers but Mitt Romney has to provide apologetics for his religion. We have a double standard at work here. Shouldn't Hillary have to explain the theological reasons she sought the endorsements of all these ministers, especially when Romney has done nothing of the sort?...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Hidden Treasure For Republicans

Many have linked to the latest Gallup poll that corroborates earlier findings by Rasmussen -- that public perception of the surge in Iraq has grown significantly more optimistic. One subtlety has not yet surfaced that may give the Republicans reason to hope for better success in 2008's elections: Four in 10 Americans now say the U.S. troop surge in Iraq that began earlier this year is making the situation there better. This is up from 34% four weeks ago and from 22% when Gallup first measured it in July. Since August, more Americans have tended to say the surge is making the situation in Iraq better rather than worse, but today's ratio -- 40% vs. 20% -- is the most positive yet recorded. Thirty-nine percent of Americans currently say the surge is not making any difference; this is down from 43% in September and 51% in July. This reinforces the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

When Did Fingar Change His Mind?

One of the main authors of the recently-released NIE on Iran sang a different tune to Congress less than five months earlier. Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard notes that Thomas Fingar testified to the completely opposite conclusion on July 11th, 2007 -- that Iran continued to pursue nuclear weapons. This tends to substantiate that the change in posture came very recently: Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons--despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Jacki Schechner; Bill Kovacs

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Jacki Schechner joins us to talk about politics and media. Jacki spent years as an on-air correspondent for CNN, specifically working to engage the blogosphere. We'll catch up with Jacki and talk about how media, politics, and the Internet intersect -- and how that will play out in the election. In the second half, Bill Kovacs joins us from the US Chamber of Commerce to talk about the latest global-warming legislation floating on Capitol Hill. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! BONUS: I'll be on Midstream Radio with Jazz Shaw sometime in the first half of the show, which starts at 12 noon CT. Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Blame To Go Around On Wayne Dumond

Mike Huckabee has found out what it feels like to bark with the big dogs. No sooner had he joined the first tier of Republican presidential candidates than the issue of Wayne Dumond's parole arose. Huckabee worked to get Dumond out of prison in Arkansas for a rape conviction -- and Dumond raped and murdered Carol Sue Shields and Sara Andrasek. While Huckabee has to answer for his role in pushing for Dumond's release, he isn't alone -- and some on the Right need to explain themselves as well. Murray Waas notes that Huckabee hasn't exactly modeled openness in his response, either: Huckabee has refused to release his gubernatorial administration's records on the matter, saying that he was concerned for the privacy of Dumond's victims and that the records contain sensitive law enforcement information. The Arkansas Parole Board also refuses to make public any letters or warnings it received from...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Dan Bartlett Burns A Bridge

Dan Bartlett, former White House communications director, won't keep many friends in the blogosphere after this interview in Texas Monthly. When asked about the relationship between the Bush White House and conservative bloggers, Bartlett responded that, in the words of Forrest Gump, the two were just like peas and carrots. Bartlett bragged that bloggers allowed the message to get through unfiltered -- very unfiltered (via TPM): What about the blogs? We had to set up a whole new apparatus to deal with the challenges they pose. Are they real journalists? The Washington Post, for example, has journalists who are now bloggers. Do you treat them as bloggers? Do they get credentials? Let’s think of it as a practical matter. If one of those journalists-turned-bloggers, Chris Cillizza, e-mails you to say he needs an interview, and at the same time one of the Post’s print reporters—say, Dan Balz—e-mails you and says...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 6, 2007

Timelines To Disappear Again

The Democratic disarray continues in Congress, where leadership has no clue how to manage expectations. Once again, after promising to force the White House into commitments on troop withdrawal deadlines, they have reversed course. Instead, they will set up benchmarks on political progress that will not force any withdrawal commitments at all: Each day lately, Democrats inch closer to giving President Bush more money for the war in Iraq without any serious mandates for withdrawing U.S. troops. Democratic leaders are loath to acknowledge they’ve backed off, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as congressional aides, say Democrats are trying to find a way to provide continued troop funding while searching for some compromises that show they’re still intent on challenging the president on the war. The possible conditions for troop funding include anti-torture rules and benchmarks for Iraqi political reconciliation, language sure to upset an impatient...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

How Badly Has Hillary Damaged Herself?

Once seen as an inevitability, Hillary Clinton may not win the first two contests in the primaries -- and that may change the entire Democratic race. Having fallen into no better than a tie with Barack Obama in Iowa, Clinton now has lost significant ground in New Hampshire. She now leads by only six points, and her momentum has completely dissipated: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a narrow lead over Sen. Barack Obama among Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire, a state whose primary her campaign has viewed as a potential firewall should she stumble in the Iowa caucuses, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Clinton is widely seen as the party's best experienced and most electable presidential candidate, but with most Democratic voters in the state looking for a fresh approach to governing, the first-in-the-nation primary has become fiercely competitive. With New Hampshire voters set to go...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Dear Dear Leader?

How does one address a letter to the dictator-for-life of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Kim Jong-Il? Would it be a "Dear Jong" letter? Maybe if one comes from Texas, a fine "Howdy, partner" would suffice. Unfortunately, we may not ever know the answer -- because George Bush wrote the letter, but has not revealed its contents: In a rare move, President Bush has sent a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the North's official news agency said Thursday without giving further details about the message. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill delivered the letter to North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun during his recent trip to Pyongyang, the Korean Central News Agency said. North Korea has just about met its opening obligations in the agreement to end its nuclear-weapons program. Hill predicted that the Yongbyon shutdown would meet its scheduled target, which will allow the DPRK...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Devil In The Corpus Callosum

Our friend Barbara Oakley has an interesting follow-up to our conversation on Tuesday with this intriguing opinion piece in today's Chicago Tribune. The author of Evil Genes discusses cultural blind spots, starting with a personal anecdote regarding her adopted sons, both Balkan Muslims. She noted that they have never even thought to look at Islam critically, as they do with other religions. Similarly, Westerners have a blind spot when it comes to their belief in the inherent good of each individual: It's fashionable in the West today to assert that every culture has its blind spots, and so culturally speaking, everything is relative. But what many Westerners are unaware of, unless they have also spent time in a totalitarian state, is how much more free Westerners are to study their blind spots, to write about them and to publicly attempt to put a spotlight on them. One blind spot Westerners...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

John Bolton, Dick Cheney Diverge On NIE

People would assume that two fire-breathers on national security may have the same objections to the just-released NIE downplaying the danger of Iran. However, while John Bolton responds with vigor in the Washington Post, Dick Cheney seems more sanguine about the conclusion that Iran has halted its drive towards nuclear weapons. Bolton presses home the thin basis for the U-turn, and blames it on the culture of the State Department: Second, the NIE is internally contradictory and insufficiently supported. It implies that Iran is susceptible to diplomatic persuasion and pressure, yet the only event in 2003 that might have affected Iran was our invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, not exactly a diplomatic pas de deux. As undersecretary of state for arms control in 2003, I know we were nowhere near exerting any significant diplomatic pressure on Iran. Nowhere does the NIE explain its logic on this...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Faith In America -- Live On Captain's Quarters

Mitt Romney will make one of the most anticipated speeches of the presidential campaign today at 10:30 ET, entitled "Faith in America". Thanks to the Romney campaign's agreement with Ustream, the speech can be seen live at blog sites, including here at Captain's Quarters. Romney's team has released excerpts of his speech. In it, he will explicitly reject calls to explain the specific tenets of the Mormon faith, claiming it will set up a religious test: "There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths." That may be true in spirit, but not in actual fact. Article VI did not constrain voters from...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Did Romney Score With The Speech?

People sometimes underestimate Mitt Romney's persuasive speaking style and genuine warmth on the dais, and that made some difference today with his speech, "Faith in America". Before its delivery, it appeared to hold no promise for Romney's standing with voters, but would present many risks for him in legitimizing religion for political debate. Those risks remain and their potential remains to be seen. However, I believe the speech will be a net positive for Romney and his campaign. Adroitly, Romney avoided apologetics except on the nature of Jesus Christ. He then specifically denounced calls for apologetics on any faith being part of a political campaign, whether willingly or compelled. Romney went out of his way to talk about the common nature of America's "symphony of faith," calling on America to focus on our shared values than on less-meaningful differences of practice. He warned that state religions did no good for...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Battling Bloggers In The Public Eye

CBS News has discovered the Dan Bartlett kerfuffle in the blogosphere, and Matthew Felling interviewed me earlier this morning for Public Eye. He gives conservatives a somewhat broad platform from which to defend ourselves, reaching out to Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldberg as well. Here's Matthew: "Regurgitate?" Really? Coming from a former Bush aide? Oh no he din’t. That’s basically the equivalent of calling White House reporters ‘stenographers.’ (And we've learned you don’t go there.) I figured that this wouldn’t sit well with right-wing bloggers. But I wasn’t quite sure. So I pulled a Captain Renault and e-mailed some "usual suspects.” I'll let readers venture to Public Eye to read the responses. I actually picked up the phone and did a traditional interview with Matthew -- and he'll return the favor next Tuesday on Heading Right Radio. He also reports on a very testy exchange between a Washington Times reporter...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Grover Norquist, Brian Johnson

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we welcome two great guests from Americans for Tax Reform. In the second half, Grover Norquist joins us to talk about his assessment of the Republican presidential candidates on fiscal matters, including his positive remarks on both Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. In the first half, we'll speak with Brian Johnson about the new Index of Worker Freedom report card, and what it means for the American economy. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Violence Not The Only Thing Decreasing On Iraq

After the massive coverage that our setbacks in Iraq received from the mainstream media, one would expect that success would at least receive equal treatment. (No, actually, I didn't, but bear with the rhetorical argument.) Anyone with those expectations would have to face crushing disappointment, according to the Media Research Center. The MRC discovered an intriguing and completely predictable direct proportion between deaths and media coverage in Iraq: Now, all three networks have become more optimistic in their on-ground reporting from the war zone, admitting that the surge in troops and new counterinsurgency tactics have reduced the violence. But as the news from the war front improves, a Media Research Center study finds ABC, CBS and NBC are less likely to tell viewers about it. .... Back in September, as reporters voiced skepticism of General Petraeus’ progress report, the networks aired a total of 178 Iraq stories, or just under...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

France, Germany Still Consider Iran A Threat

Despite the surprising conclusion of the American intelligence committee that Iran suspended its push for nuclear weapons, both France and Germany insisted that Iran represents a real threat. Nicolas Sarkozy still wants to impose harsher sanctions, although Angela Merkel would not commit to supporting another round at the moment. The two EU powers want Iran to end its uranium enrichment: "Iran continues to represent a threat," Mrs Merkel said during a joint news conference with Mr Sarkozy in Paris. She did not specifically express support for a new UN sanctions resolution against Iran, which the US is calling for. .... Mr Sarkozy said he agreed with his German counterpart that Iran still posed a danger, and that he supported the push for more sanctions. "Notwithstanding the latest elements, everyone is fully conscious of the fact that there is a will of the Iranian leaders to obtain nuclear weapons. "What made...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 7, 2007

The Surrender This Time

Democrats not only have decided on surrender for Iraq war funding, they have come up with their redeployment strategy. The AP reports that House Democrats will pass an omnibus funding bill without any funds for the mission in Iraq. Senate Democrats will instead add it in and blame Republicans for threatening a filibuster, after which the House will "reluctantly" pass the funding in conference: Democrats controlling Congress sent the most explicit signals yet on Thursday that they are resigned to providing additional funding for the war in Iraq before Congress adjourns for the year. Conceding that President Bush is in a strong position as Congress seeks to wrap up its work, Democrats are cooking up a pre-Christmas endgame that would deliver tens of billions of dollars for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan on conditions acceptable to the White House. The Iraq funding would ultimately be attached by Bush's Senate GOP...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Fazlullah The Boozer

Pakistani army troops overran regional Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah 's command headquarters yesterday in Swat as part of its offensive. Fazlullah had fled before the army captured Imam Dheri, but he left behind his stash of liquor: Security forces captured Imam Dheri, headquarters of pro-Taliban militant leader Maulana Fazlullah, and the Khwazkhela area in Swat, officials said on Thursday. The army also blew up the houses of Fazlullah and his spokesman Maulana Sirajuddin, besides seizing several weapons, computers and some bottles of liquor from the site, army officials said. The liquor was believed to be seized at militants’ checkposts from people. Earlier, troops backed by tanks and gunship helicopters advanced towards Imam Dheri and seized control of a madrassa run by Fazlullah, and an adjacent mosque without any resistance. De-mining experts have started combing the area for landmines and booby traps. In Khwazkhela, the troops have taken control of a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Pakistani Boycott Looks Unlikely

The opposition parties in Pakistan cannot agree on a joint list of demands to present to Pervez Musharraf in return for their participation in next month's parliamentary elections. Benazir Bhutto has expressed skepticism regarding the benefits of a boycott in any case, and Nawaz Sharif may find himself forced into contesting the election in order to keep up with his rival: Pakistani opposition parties have failed to reach agreement on demands to set the government to ensure their participation in next month's election, making a united opposition boycott increasingly unlikely. Former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, both recently back from years in exile, are trying to forge a "charter of demands" to present to President Perez Musharraf to ensure a fair election and their participation. A boycott by the two main opposition parties and smaller allies would deprive the vote of credibility and prolong instability that has raised...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Still Ignoring Option B

The Washington Post reports on the anguish of the Democrats in fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), one of the dumbest ongoing fiscal issues over the last several years. Why the anguish? Democrats can't find another tax to replace the AMT revenue this year. The Democrats in this article act as though they have only one choice in dealing with the AMT, which is to play a shell game and find another way to tax Americans. Even the Republicans in the article, gleeful over forcing Democrats to violate Paygo, seem to forget that other options exist for fiscal responsibility. At Heading Right, I remind Congress that the budget "hole" supposedly blown by the AMT fix amounts to a whopping 1.67% of the federal spending plan for next year. Congressional anguish over fixing the ludicrously broken AMT apparently has clouded their minds so much that they've forgotten about the option to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hate Crime Expansion Dropped

The hate-crime expansion legislation that Ted Kennedy attached to the military spending authorization bill has disappeared, thanks to a veto threat by the White House. The suddenly-relevant and somewhat ascendant Bush administration forced a conference committee to drop the controversial amendment, with House Democrats unwilling to force a confrontation they would lose with the President: House and Senate negotiators yesterday nixed a measure to expand hate-crime protections, removing it from a Pentagon policy bill that is now likely to pass both chambers by wide margins. Negotiations on the defense authorization bill had bogged down, with House Democratic leaders worried that they did not have enough votes to pass the bill if it included the hate-crime measure. The bill, which has been vigorously supported by gay rights groups, would have extended hate-crime protections to victims based on gender, sexual orientation or disability. ... House Democrats already faced a loss of support...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

What Not To Get Me For Christmas

Good news, men -- master shoe designer Manolo Blahnik has created a new line of men's footwear. If you don't recognize the name, your wives or girlfriends can explain that his designs are highly prized and very expensive. Now, possessors of the Y chromosome can have the access to Blahnik's genius, as represented in this new design: Men, we've waited years for this opportunity. Now we can also wear open-toed slingbacks with a low heel: Well, guys, listen up. There's a man who wants you to put on a pair slingbacks. And they're blue suede, open-toed, and cost about as much as a flat screen TV. This week, Manolo Blahnik, the Spanish designer famous for making women swoon over $700 stilettos, announced he's putting out a line of men's shoes. Among the styles: Afiyet, the aforementioned blue suede number, and Bir, a sandal made of leopard-print leather. "There are some...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NRO: Smith's Reporting Not Reliable

Kathryn Jean Lopez updates National Review Online readers about NRO's investigation into the reporting of W. Thomas Smith at The Tank, a subsidiary blog of NRO. Kathryn retracted two of Smith's pieces last weekend after Thomas Edsall at the Huffington Post raised serious questions about Smith's reporting. Now NRO has decided that they cannot stand by any of Smith's reports from Lebanon: Having reviewed his work, we cannot vouch for the accuracy of his reporting. In general, too much of Smith’s information came from sources who had an incentive to exaggerate the threat Hezbollah poses to Lebanon — and these sources influenced his reporting for the whole of his trip. While we agree that that threat is very real, our readers should have had more information about Smith’s sources so that they could have better evaluated the credibility of the information he was providing. I apologize to all of our...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Noonan And Dionne On Romney's Speech

Two viewpoints on the "Faith in America" speech by Mitt Romney have arisen since its delivery yesterday. Either people believe it to be a masterpiece or unnecessarily divisive. Two columns today make these cases in particularly clear manners. Peggy Noonan and E.J. Dionne write impressively for both cases, with former speechwriter Noonan opting for masterpiece: Mr. Romney gave the speech Thursday morning. How did he do? Very, very well. He made himself some history. The words he said will likely have a real and positive impact on his fortunes. The speech's main and immediate achievement is that foes of his faith will now have to defend their thinking, in public. But what can they say to counter his high-minded arguments? "Mormons have cooties"? Romney reintroduced himself to a distracted country--Who is that handsome man saying those nice things?--while defending principles we all, actually, hold close, and hold high. His text...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

CIA Channels Rose Mary Woods (Updated & Bumped)

The CIA finds itself under fire today after the New York Times forced Director Mike Hayden to admit that the agency destroyed two videotapes in 2005 showing terrorists undergoing waterboarding. The agency had previously denied any such tapes existed to all but a handful in Congress. Now the revelation could have far-reaching consequences, including on the conviction of Zacarias Moussaoui: The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials. The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Huckabee Moves Right On Immigration

He got to show his sensitive side during the CNN/YouTube debate, and now he gets to show his toughness. Mike Huckabee released his immigration plan last night, and it moves him much more towards the enforcement-first position favored by most Republicans and some Democrats as well: Released Friday, Huckabee's plan takes a tough stance — similar to those of his GOP rivals — though he has been more forgiving of some here illegally: As Arkansas governor, Huckabee attempted to make children of illegal immigrants eligible for scholarships and in-state college tuition. Huckabee defended that Arkansas effort at a debate last month: "In all due respect, we are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did. We're a better country than that." His new immigration plan does not address education, health care or other services provided to illegal immigrants that strain communities in early-voting Iowa and other...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: The Week In Review!

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we'll have the Week in Review with Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson! We go long on Fridays to 90 minutes, hopefully like the Steelers will go long on the Patriots on Sunday and end the unbeaten season for Tom Brady. I'll be wearing my Steelers cap while we discuss Mitt Romney's speech, the Democrats collapse on Iraq, the resolution of the NRO controversy and lessons learned from TNR's, the CIA destruction of videotapes containing interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and others, and the NIE on Iran. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Meet Michael Larson

Many readers at Captain's Quarters lived through the multiple transplants that the First Mate had over the last three years. Literally, this blog began because she went into the hospital for a week with kidney failure in October 2003, and I needed something to take my mind off of the pressures of her illness. CapQ readers have supported us in prayers, good thoughts, and celebration when she successfully underwent a pancreas transplant and two kidney transplants, the latest of which came on March 30th of this year. Both kidney transplants came as tremendous gifts from friends we knew in Marriage Encounter. Rarely does anyone have a friend willing to put his or her life and health on the line to save one's own -- and it's beyond remarkable to have that happen twice in three years. The FM would not be here today without them, as she never could have...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Reyes, Hoekstra Call Shenanigans On Hayden

Michael Hayden tried last night to defuse the controversy over the 2005 destruction of videotapes depicting the waterboarding of al-Qaeda terrorists by claiming that the CIA had worked with Congress in doing so. Not so fast, say Silvestre Reyes and Pete Hoekstra. Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee and Reyes took over Jane Harman's position on the committee -- and neither have any recollection that the CIA notified them at all: The CIA did not tell Congress about the destruction in 2005 of videotapes recording aggressive CIA interrogations of two Al Qaeda suspects until this year, the top two members of the House Intelligence Committee said in an angry letter Friday to CIA Director Michael V. Hayden. Anticipating an upcoming New York Times article revealing the destruction, Hayden said in a memo to employees on Thursday that congressional oversight committees had been notified about the existence of the tapes and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 8, 2007

It's Always Tea With The Brits

Slowly the media outlets have begun to acknowledge the dramatic success of the surge strategy in Iraq. Some of them use unusual methods of measurement; for the Washington Post, the activity of cabbies demonstrated the return to normalcy in Baghdad. For the BBC, it comes down to a very British -- and Arabic -- method of measure: For the American soldiers patrolling Baghdad's southern suburb of Dora these are days of trial by tea. For in many houses they enter in this largely Sunni part of the city, hot sweet tea is offered and they know that refusal can offend. It does not stop at tea either. As a goodwill gesture, the soldiers have taken to buying roast chicken, cheese, bread, and the Iraqi delicacy called samoun - bread dipped in sweet syrup - as they make their rounds of Dora. ... Nearby Dora market is thriving. Back in April...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Tape Destruction Decision Compartmentalized

The decision to destroy the tapes of interrogations that included waterboarding two al-Qaeda terrorists came from the director of the clandestine services of the CIA and in opposition to requests from both Congress and the White House. Jose Rodriguez, the Director of Operations, made the decision without consulting the CIA's attorneys or the DCI, Porter Goss. While a member of Congress and head of the House Intelligence Committee, Goss had demanded that the CIA retain all such recordings: White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday. The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Obama Didn't Get Sung The Gore Lullaby

Al Gore joked during the 2000 presidential campaign that his mother sang him to sleep with the union jingle, "Look For The Union Label". Barack Obama could have used a lullaby like that, as he took criticism from organized labor over the choice of venue for his Oprah Winfrey campaign rally. The Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire has no union representation, despite the best efforts of organizers (via Memeorandum): Barack Obama’s presidential campaign deeply concerned organized labor by booking its big rally Sunday with superstar Oprah Winfrey at the non-union Verizon Wireless Arena. But an agreement reached tonight ensures no picket line will be set up at the event, saving Obama from an uncomfortable choice and potential embarrassment. A union representing organized stage hands has been trying unsuccessfully to gain a foothold at the arena since it opened six years ago. State and national labor officials informed the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Market Free Of Consequences Is Not Free

For an administration eager to promote policies of free trade and free markets, the Bush White House seems unwilling to live by its consequences. Instead of allowing the mortgage market to operate freely, the Treasury Department will force lenders to freeze adjustable-rate mortgages at artificially low interest rates to keep bad loans from defaulting -- at least for now. The five-year freeze essentially removes the obvious inherent risk of ARMs, forcing lenders to further subsidize those who chose unwisely. Mark Steyn takes up the topic in today's column (via McQ at QandO): Last week the Bush administration decided to "freeze" for five years the interest rates of certain types of mortgages. You've probably caught the tail end of news stories about "subprime" home loans, lots of foreclosures, etc. Never a happy moment when the bank takes the farm. So now the government has stepped in and said that, if you...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Sean Penn Endorsement, And The Sean Penn Endorsement

Sean Penn endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President, after tipping off news agencies of a major political announcement earlier this week. While his choice of candidate may not suprise many, it should have surprised John Edwards. After all, Penn had already given him twice as many greenback endorsements as Kucinich (via the Political Machine): Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn endorsed Dennis Kucinich for president in San Francisco Friday. Penn made what had been billed as a "major political statement" at San Francisco State University. Andy Juniewicz, National Press Secretary and senior advisor to Kucinich told NBC11 that Penn made the endorsement at an open-to-the-public event sponsored by The San Francisco State College Democrats. The NBC report includes a slideshow entitled "The Many Faces of Sean Penn". Well, perhaps we can at least say two-faced. FEC records show that Penn had donated $4,600 to John Edwards -- two days after donating $2,300...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NARN, The Frozen Everything 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, the Volume I guys have the day off, so King, Mitch, and I will rotate through between 11 am - 1 pm. We'll cover the week's hottest issues -- and I'll ask King about the Treasury action to freeze ARM rates. Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the conversation!...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Batiste Switches To Pro-War Stance

General John Batiste has spent the last few years speaking out against the continuing efforts of the US in Iraq. Today, in the Washington Post, the former commander has decided that the surge strategy has succeeded in rescuing the US mission, and that Iraq really is the center of the war on terror. Batiste writes a joint op-ed column with Pete Hegseth announcing that he now supports the Bush administration's pursuit of stability in Iraq (via Worldwide Standard): First, the United States must be successful in the fight against worldwide Islamic extremism. We have seen this ruthless enemy firsthand, and its global ambitions are undeniable. This struggle, the Long War, will probably take decades to prosecute. Failure is not an option. Second, whether or not we like it, Iraq is central to that fight. We cannot walk away from our strategic interests in the region. Iraq cannot become a staging...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 9, 2007

Pelosi Briefed On Waterboarding In 2002, No Objections

The CIA briefed four Congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, on the controversial practice of waterboarding over five years ago. Not only did no one object to the practice during the September 2002 briefing, but one attendee asked the briefer whether the technique was tough enough: In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk. Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Musa Qala Leaders Captured

NATO and Afghan forces captured two Taliban leaders in Musa Qala, the only city held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Their capture comes amid the long-awaited push to liberate Musa Qala and end its ten-month loss. The Taliban has been forced into the city center, and the coalition forces have patiently kept up the pressure: Two senior Taleban leaders have been captured in heavy fighting for the southern town of Musa Qala, the Afghan defence ministry has said. Afghan and Nato forces are trying to recapture the town, the only major centre in Taleban hands. ... The heavy blows from the ground and the air seem to have forced the Taleban to pull back closer to the centre of Musa Qala, but they say they withdrew from two frontline villages because of civilian casualties there. Nonetheless, Taleban commanders have said they will defend the town from fortified positions covered by...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Huckabee Lead In Michigan?

Rasmussen's polling in Michigan has Mike Huckabee surging to the top of the leaderboard, a significant showing in what could be a critical state. The January 15th primary holds a significant number of delegates and could be seen as a harbinger of the other large states in the Super Tuesday races three weeks later: Mike Huckabee’s surging campaign has created a three-way toss-up in Michigan’s Republican Primary. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds Huckabee earning 21% of the vote. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the son of a former Michigan Governor, attracts 20% support while former New York City Mayor is the top choice for 19% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Trailing the Michigan frontrunners are Fred Thompson at 9%, John McCain at 8% and Ron Paul at 7%. Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter split 2% while 15% are not sure how they will vote. Michigan’s primary is scheduled...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Biden Wants To Pass The Buck

Joe Biden told ABC News this morning that the destruction of tapes by the CIA warrants a special prosecutor for the investigation. He reminded George Stephanopolous that he had voted against Michael Mukasey for Attorney General because of his answers on the legality of waterboarding, and that he cannot be trusted to investigate the actions taken by the CIA to destroy evidence of its use: A Senate Democratic leader said Sunday the attorney general should appoint a special counsel to investigate the CIA's destruction of videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists. Sen. Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, cited Michael Mukasey's refusal during confirmation hearings in October to describe waterboarding as torture. .... "I just think it's clearer and crisper and everyone will know what the truth ... if he appoints a special counsel, steps back from it," said Biden, D-Del. "I...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Kidney Donation: A Personal Story

On Friday, I wrote about Michael Larson, a twelve-year-old boy who needs a kidney transplant to survive. His mother Leah has allowed me to tell Michael's story in hopes that we can find a living donor with type B or type O blood to give the gift of life to Michael. I intend to write every few days on Michael and transplants, but after Friday's post, I received an e-mail from Amy Kissling, a CapQ reader and a living donor herself, asking if she could tell her story. I have written this because you might be donating a kidney to a loved one. I have no medical experience but having done this myself, I can share with you what the experience was like for me. Not on a personal or spiritual level, but just what you can expect to happen to you, your body and your kidney. What follows are...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

My Steelers Prediction -- NFL Week 14 Thread

Today the Pittsburgh Steelers meet the undefeated New England Patriots in Foxboro. The Patriots face the toughest remaining test this year in their quest to match and surpass the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Miami, meanwhile, faces off against Buffalo not far away to maintain its perfect season of futility. Anthony Smith predicts a Steeler win: Certainly, Steelers second-year safety Anthony Smith thinks so. The big discussion in the Patriots locker room Thursday was Smith's bold guarantee of victory. "We heard about it," Brady said. "Coach always says we do our talking on Sundays. I'm glad they feel that way. I hope they feel that way. We'll see who comes out ahead on Sunday." Belichick, whose quotes always seem to be in lockstep with Brady, added, "I would expect when Pittsburgh walks out there, they're going to expect a win. I can't imagine they would approach it any differently. My prediction? Steelers...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 10, 2007

E-Mail Alert

If anyone attempted to e-mail me over the last 24 hours, I probably didn't receive the message. A large message with multiple attachments remained on the server yesterday, and I went over my limit on the mailbox. If you sent me something important yesterday, you may need to re-send it....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Do Gun Free Zones Create A Legal Liability?

Not being a lawyer, this question will exist more as a philosophical one, much as we treated it on Saturday's Northern Alliance broadcast. Mitch Berg and I debated the efficacy of gun-free zones in the wake of the Omaha mall shooting that left nine people dead, but before the two shootings at New Life church facilities that left eight dead. In at least the first shooting, the perpetrator conducted his murder spree in a commercial facility whose owners had marked it as a gun-free zone, a designation that keeps concealed-carry licensees from bringing their weapons into the building. We both wondered if that decision opened the owners to legal liability for forcing people to disarm themselves without having enough security to protect them. D.J. Tice, one of the more thoughtful columnists at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, listened to our show and found the argument intriguing. He wondered, though, why we don't...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NATO Enters Musa Qala

NATO forces, accompanied by Afghan troops, made it to the center of Musa Qala today. The Taliban have retreated to the city center, pressed in on all sides by a long-awaited NATO offensive on the only major piece of ground held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The liberation of the city will come after 10 months of Taliban rule: Afghan troops Monday entered the town of Musa Qala which had been captured by Taliban rebels 10 months ago and become a key insurgent base, the NATO-led force said. "The ANA (Afghan National Army) have entered the district centre. They are in the centre of the town," a spokesman for the NATO-led force, Major Charles Anthony, told AFP. The Afghan defence ministry issued a statement saying the Afghan and NATO troops had entered the Musa Qala district, of which the town is the centre, and had started cleaning up operations. Musa...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Debate En Espanol: Just As Dull

For a nice change of pace, the Republican presidential candidates met for their 8.476th debate of the 2008 primary race, but this time for Univision, translated into Spanish. Unlike their previous debate, the candidates played nice with each other and even with Hillary Clinton. The debate, therefore, hardly displayed much spice: The Republican presidential field gingerly defended tough immigration policies before a Hispanic audience even as candidates acknowledged that their party has lost support from the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. There were few differences voiced among the candidates and not a single candidate attacked any of his rivals, a sharp contrast to recent Republican debates. Rather, it seemed that the evening was a discourse between the Republican Party and the Hispanic community, as moderators asked about immigration, health care, education and Latin American politics, and Republicans sought to show they shared values with their questioners even as...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Paygo: Carnival Huckster Of Fiscal Discipline

The Democrats have insisted that the "paygo" rules enforce fiscal discipline, except when they don't. They gave up on paygo when they voted for the AMT patch that will save middle-class taxpayers from a $50 billion Congressional mistake. The Wall Street Journal explains that paygo never really represented fiscal responsibility, but instead presented Democrats with a fig leaf for taxation. Why so? It turns out that paygo doesn't apply to an overwhelming majority of the federal budget: domestic spending and entitlements. At Heading Right, I point out that the rules only restrict the most Constitutionally legitimate parts of the federal budget while allowing the greatest amount of leeway for the priorities of the Democratic Party. Until paygo applies to the entire federal budget, it's nothing more than a three-card Monty i terms of fiscal discipline. No wonder the Democrats gave it up so easily....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Pork Barrel Presidential Candidate

How has Hillary Clinton prepared herself to become the Democratic nominee for President? She hasn't held an executive office, nor has she entered the diplomatic service. She has only one and a third Senate terms for experience. However, she has nurtured a network of supporters and contributors, and as the Los Angeles Times reports, Hillary has used her Senate power to keep them enriched: Since taking office in 2001, Clinton has delivered $500 million worth of earmarks that have specifically benefited 59 corporations. About 64% of those corporations provided funds to her campaigns through donations made by employees, executives, board members or lobbyists, a review by the Los Angeles Times shows. All told, Clinton has earmarked more than $2.3 billion in federal appropriations for projects in her state since her election to the Senate, much of it for public works projects funded in conjunction with fellow Democratic Sen. Charles E....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Steny Hoyer For Vice President!

If Hillary Clinton can run on the Pork ticket, Steny Hoyer makes a fine running mate. The Washington Post reports that Hoyer made the Top Ten Porkers List for 2008, based on an analysis of funding requests pending for next year's budget. And, like Hillary, Hoyer does not forget his contributors when it comes to spreading out the taxpayer dollars: Even as House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer has joined in steps to clean up pork-barrel spending, the Maryland congressman has tucked $96 million worth of pet projects into next year's federal budget, including $450,000 for a campaign donor's foundation. Hoyer (D) is one of the top 10 earmarkers in the House for 2008, based on budget requests in bills so far, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog group. ... Consider the $450,000 that Hoyer inserted into a 2008 education spending bill for the California-based InTune Foundation...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Brits To CIA: Psyche!

The latest national intelligence estimate (NIE) on Iran has come under considerable criticism for ist conclusion that the mullahs stopped pursuing nuclear weapons in 2003. Not only have Americans questioned the sudden reversal of the analysis, but even the Europeans wonder what the CIA has been drinking of late. The British have "grave doubts" about the veracity of this conclusion, and openly speculate that the CIA fell into a disinformation trap: British spy chiefs have grave doubts that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons programme, as a US intelligence report claimed last week, and believe the CIA has been hoodwinked by Teheran. The timing of the CIA report has also provoked fury in the British Government, where officials believe it has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran and made an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities more likely. The security services in London want concrete evidence to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Libby Will End Appeals

In a striking retreat, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby will not pursue any appeals of his conviction for obstruction of justice and perjury. His attorney says that the "burden ... of complete vindication" proved too much for Lewis and his family. However, given the short period of time since his conviction and sentence commutation, it appears more that Lewis doesn't believe he can achieve any kind of vindication, at least not through the courts: Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is dropping his appeal in the CIA leak case, his attorney said Monday. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of perjury and obstruction for lying about his conversations with reporters about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. "We remain firmly convinced of Mr. Libby's innocence," attorney Theodore Wells said. "However, the realities were, that after five years of government service by Mr. Libby...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Chavez Tried Rigging Referendum Vote

Hugo Chavez suffered a narrow but humiliating loss at the polls last week for his referendum on changing the Venezuelan constitution into a roadmap for dictatorship. His acknowledgment of the defeat gained him praise from world leaders for his commitment to democracy. However, Newsweek now reports that Chavez tried to manipulate an overwhelming loss into a victory -- only to be stopped at the threat of a military coup (via QandO): Most of Latin America's leaders breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week, after Venezuelan voters rejected President Hugo Chávez's constitutional amendment referendum. In private they were undoubtedly relieved that Chávez lost, and in public they expressed delight that he accepted defeat and did not steal the election. But by midweek enough information had emerged to conclude that Chávez did, in fact, try to overturn the results. As reported in El Nacional, and confirmed to me by an intelligence...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Sharif Drops The Boycott

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dropped plans to boycott Pakistan's parliamentary elections after failing to convince other opposition parties to join it. Instead, his party will contest for seats in the assembly while Sharif remains ineligible for office on the basis of convictions reached after his removal from office by Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan's election campaign began in earnest Monday, a day after former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dropped threats to boycott the ballot to protest the authoritarian rule of President Pervez Musharraf. Sharif is drawing up plans to tour the country to stump for his Pakistan Muslim League-N party, even though election authorities have rejected his own candidacy, said Sadiq ul-Farooq, senior party official. The two-time premier will travel to the cities of Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar in the coming days, ul-Farooq said. The only significant party boycotting the elections is Jamat-e-Islami, the party of radical Islamists....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Val Prieto; John Randall, NRSC

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we welcome Val Prieto of Babalu Blog to explain his latest "Cambio" project. In the second half, John Randall of the NRSC joins us to talk about the latest in the 2008 Senate races and the latest issues hitting the NRSC radar! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Price Of Pork Refusal

You can almost write the headlines yourself: "Congressman Forgoes Pork, Women And Minorities Hardest Hit". The Star Tribune tries that on John Kline, the Republican representing Minnesota's Second Congressional District -- my own, in fact. They manage to make a virtue look like a vice in noting his conversion to anti-pork activism, and line up a few complainers to make the point (via True North): As Congress lurches toward a budget showdown before Christmas, Minnesota Rep. John Kline is at the center of an ideological food fight over the role of pork-barrel "earmarks." The Lakeville Republican calls the system of special funding for pet projects a "corrupting" influence in Congress, and says he won't take any. That has left officials in his rapidly growing suburban district wanting federal dollars to complete projects from the Cedar Avenue Transitway to the expansion of Hwy. 212 in Carver County. While some appreciate the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Idiot Who Torpedoed The Holy Land Foundation Trial

I believe in the jury system, I really do. An overwhelming amount of the time, juries get it right, proving the wisdom of the common individual. No system achieves perfection, as we saw with the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and now we have another example in the strange mistrial in the Holy Land Foundation prosecution. Michael Fechter interviewed several of the jurors, and found the reason why a jury refuted its own reported verdicts -- an out-of-control juror who thinks Hamas and the founding fathers of this nation have a lot in common (via Memeorandum): While several jurors favored acquittals, just one out of the 12 did most of the knocking down. In fact, interviews with three HLF jurors - speaking publicly for the first time - suggest that juror William Neal's stridency may have changed the trial's outcome. Neal even claimed credit for steering jurors away from convictions in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Is Waterboarding Torture Or Necessity? Yes

ABC News has an explosive interview with one of the men who interrogated al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah -- and he admits to waterboarding him. John Kiriakou says that he thinks waterboarding is torture, but that its use saved countless American lives and stopped perhaps dozens of attacks: A leader of the CIA team that captured the first major al Qaeda figure, Abu Zubaydah, says subjecting him to waterboarding was torture but necessary. In the first public comment by any CIA officer involved in handling high-value al Qaeda targets, John Kiriakou, now retired, said the technique broke Zubaydah in less than 35 seconds. "The next day, he told his interrogator that Allah had visited him in his cell during the night and told him to cooperate," said Kiriakou in an interview to be broadcast tonight on ABC News' "World News With Charles Gibson" and "Nightline." "From that day on, he answered...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 11, 2007

Algerian Bombings Leave Dozens Dead

Two bombings rocked Algiers today, killing at least 27 people. The bombs targeted the Algerian capital's judiciary and UN refugee offices, and at least one of the explosions came from a suicide attack. That puts suspicion on the al-Qaeda affiliate, the GSPC: Two bomb attacks in the Algerian capital -- one on the UN refugee agency office and one in front of the Supreme Court -- killed at least 27 people Tuesday, officials and other sources said. Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said a suicide bomber was used in at least one of the two attacks -- the latest in a series this year which have mostly been claimed by Al-Qaeda. "The death toll is very high," the minister told reporters. Zerhouni said a suicide bomber triggered the explosion outside the Algiers office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the attack. The GSPC (now calling itself al-Qaeda in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Democrats Fight For The Right To Pork

Our neighbor, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, has demanded that the White House start approving some Congressional pork if he wants funding for Iraq. Senator Robert Byrd believes fiscal responsibility means increasing domestic spending if the nation has to spend more money on defense and foreign aid in a time of war. Both represent the Democratic petulance regarding the White House demand for a stripped-down omnibus bill: A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith. Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

How Many Lives Did The Concealed-Carry Licensee Save?

Jeanne Assam carried her pistol with her to church on Sunday. She did so legally, having received a license to carry a concealed weapon. If a weapon in church seems incongruous, it also became providential on this particular Sunday, as Assam stopped an assault that may have killed many more people than it did (via Memeorandum and many CapQ readers): Assam said she believes God gave her the strength to confront Murray, keeping her calm and focused even though he appeared to be twice her size and was more heavily armed. Murray was carrying two handguns, an assault rifle and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, said Sgt. Jeff Johnson of the Colorado Springs Police Department. "It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," she said. Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NCRI: NIE Half Right

Unfortunately, it's the wrong half. Previous NIEs did not acknowledge a shutdown of the Iranian nuclear weapons program in 2003, but the new one fails to recognize its restart in 2004. The Iranian opposition group that exposed the program in the first place will publicly state that the ODNI's new estimate ignores evidence of the program's continuance at new facilities: The Iranian opposition group that first exposed Iran's nuclear-fuel program said a U.S. intelligence analysis is correct that Tehran shut down its weaponization program in 2003, but claims that the program was relocated and restarted in 2004. The claim, to be made public today by the National Council for Resistance in Iran, joins a broad pushback by conservative hawks who say the U.S. analysis has wrongly given the impression that Iran's nuclear-fuel program doesn't present an urgent threat. In recent days, Republican lawmakers have called for a review of the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Time To Go Negative?

With less than four weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, the presidential campaigns have begun pulling out all stops for the first contest of the primary season. Mitt Romney has gone negative first, stunned by a rapid rise by Mike Huckabee and a potential embarrassing loss in a state where he invested heavily. His switch to the negative underscores the importance of Iowa to his overall strategy, and perhaps reveals a hint of desperation. As negative attacks go, this is really fairly mild. Candidates should have the ability to compare records and policies without getting accused of unfair personal attacks, and this lands squarely in the former category. However, Iowans don't care much for negative advertising as a rule, and as I explain at Heading Right, being the first to launch them implies a certain back-against-the-wall quality....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Did The Gray Lady Get The Story Wrong?

The story of the CIA's tape destruction took another twist today. Earlier, Mark Mazzetti had written that the destruction of the tapes angered the CIA's legal counsel, John Rizzo. Today, Mazzetti and Scott Shane report that the CIA's attorneys gave permission to destroy the tapes of interrogations that included waterboarding: Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode. The involvement of agency lawyers in the decision making would widen the scope of the inquiries into the matter that have now begun in Congress and within the Justice Department. Any written documents are certain to be a focus of government investigators as they try to reconstruct the events leading up to the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Time For The CIA To Go?

Christopher Hitchens proposes a radical solution to the problem of spin-cycle NIEs and interagency feuding. Rather than continue with efforts to reform the intelligence community, Hitchens argues for the elimination of the CIA and rebuilding our intel efforts from the ground up. It seems like a radical step during a time of war, but the agency may now have angered enough people on both sides of the aisle to make it possible: And now we have further confirmation of the astonishing culture of lawlessness and insubordination that continues to prevail at the highest levels in Langley. At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Does Mormonism Matter?

According to a new Gallup poll, the supposed hurdle for Mormons in a presidential campaign has been somewhat overstated. Only one in six Americans, including a fairly equal representation of Democrats and Republicans, would refuse to vote for a well-qualified Mormon: A new Gallup Poll finds about one in six Americans, including similar proportions of Republicans and Democrats, indicating they would not support their party's nominee for president if that person were a Mormon. The poll was conducted in the days immediately following a major speech by Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in which he attempted to quiet voter concern about his Mormon religion. The speech appeared to be a response to the political situation in Iowa, where former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has made his Christian faith a centerpiece of his Republican presidential campaign, has taken the lead in the Iowa caucus polls. According...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Larry O'Donnell, Cowardly Hypocrite

I haven't commented on the Larry O'Donnell volcanic rant about Mormonism, mostly because I have found O'Donnell repugnant ever since his volcanic rant at John O'Neill in 2004. However, one has to take notice of hypocrisy so bald and cowardice so exposed as his admission to Hugh Hewitt on last night's show. Why does O'Donnell go after Mormons? They don't fight back: HH: Would you say the same things about Mohammed as you just said about Joseph Smith? LO’D: Oh, well, I’m afraid of what the…that’s where I’m really afraid. I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I’m afraid for my life if I do. HH: Well, that’s candid. LO’D: Mormons are the nicest people in the world. They’re not going to ever… HH: So you can be bigoted towards Mormons, because they’ll just send you a strudel. LO’D: They’ll never take a shot...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Free Will With Barbara Oakley

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we welcome back Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, to discuss the concept of free will in light of her research on neurological sources for evil. I'll also talk about the latest in the presidential races, including an interesting poll on the effect of Mormonism on voter decisions. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

National Review Picks Romney

The endorsement season seems in full swing now, and this time Santa's dropped a big gift to Mitt Romney -- the National Review endorsement. When William F. Buckley's venerable journal speaks on effective conservatism, people listen, and Mitt's team has reason to cheer: Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest. While he has not talked much about the importance of resisting ethnic balkanization — none of the major candidates has — he supports enforcing the immigration laws and opposes amnesty. Those are important steps in the right direction. Uniting...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 12, 2007

Republican Special Election Performance A Harbinger For 2008?

Had the Republicans lost their two special election contests to replace deceased GOP House members, one would see the papers filled with analyses of the coming debacle for Republican hopes in 2008. Now that they have won both handily, expect most to either ignore the races altogether or chalk up the wins to local Republican strength. However, pundits cannot easily dismiss the lessons from the race in Ohio: Republicans retained two House seats in special elections Tuesday, including a hotly contested Ohio race that the two parties spent nearly $700,000 trying to win. ... State legislator Bob Latta decisively defeated Democrat Robin Weirauch in Ohio’s 5th District, leading by 56 to 43 percent with 90 percent of the vote in. The special election was held to replace the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R). In Virginia’s 1st District, GOP state Del. Rob Wittman won a landslide victory over Iraq war veteran...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Another Assassination In Lebanon, Another Syrian Hit?

Has Bashar Assad struck again? A car bomb killed a Lebanese Army general expected to take command of the military in the settlement over the presidency. It recalls the string of assassinations against anti-Syrian political figures, most notably Rafik Hariri, that almost certainly have their origin in Damascus. However, this case may be somewhat different: A car bomb attack killed one of Lebanon's top military generals and at least two others Wednesday, the military and state media said, putting even more pressure on the country's delicate political situation. The target of the attack, Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj, a top Maronite Catholic in the command, was considered a leading candidate to succeed the head of the military, Gen. Michel Suleiman, if Suleiman is elected president. Hajj, 55, also led a major military campaign against Islamic militants over the summer. The blast is the first such attack against the Lebanese army, which...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Maybe It Would Just Last An Hour

The writers' strike grinds on in Hollywood, with no end in sight for the work stoppage in the entertainment industry. As the days pass, some wonder whether the strike will affect the Oscars -- and if so, what the effect will be. What would an Academy Awards show do without writers? No official cancellation announcements have been made, but with three prominent award shows just around the corner -- the Golden Globes airs in January, the Grammy's in early February and the Academy Awards just a few weeks later -- industry insiders have been speculating about how the shows will air without a team of writers in place to craft the monologues and introductions. Former head writer for the Oscars Bruce Vilanch told Variety that an Academy Awards ceremony sans writers would certainly make for interesting -- if not dull -- television. "There might be an Oscar show, but I...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Taliban Fail In Fallback

The Taliban lost their grip on the only significant Afghan territory they held, Musa Qala, earlier this week. Most of their forces withdrew rather than fight the combined NATO and Afghan forces that took back the Helmand city. Their effort to shift to a fallback position in Sangin, a neighboring town, has also failed: Afghan soldiers backed by NATO air power killed more than 50 Taliban fighters during a two-day battle with militants who tried to attack a southern Afghan town near the one they were routed from this week, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said Wednesday. Afghan soldiers fought the insurgents in Sangin, a town in Helmand province that neighbors Musa Qala, which Taliban fighters had controlled since February before abandoning it this week in the face of an offensive by Afghan, British and U.S. forces. "When the terrorists were defeated in Musa Qala, they escaped to Sangin and started firing...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hoekstra: Hayden's Got Some 'Splainin' To Do

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) tells Eli Lake that the CIA's explanations for the destruction of interrogation tapes and the reversal of the NIE conclusions on Iran haven't satisfied him at all. CIA Director Michael Hayden testifies today before Hoekstra's House Intelligence Committee, and he shouldn't expect many softballs from the ranking Republican. Hoekstra wants to know why the intelligence community has dashed its credibility: Following a 90-minute closed-door hearing yesterday in the Senate, Mr. Hayden told reporters that he laid out narrative for why the tapes were destroyed. But because both the recording and the destruction took place before he became director of the CIA, he could not provide all the answers to the questions from the Senators. The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Rockefeller, a Democrat of West Virginia, said yesterday questions remained unanswered. Mr. Hoekstra also told The New York Sun that he told...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Fixing FISA

The new Attorney General takes to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to call for immediate action to solidify FISA reforms. Michael Mukasey emphasizes the critical nature of FISA in the war on terror and lauds the compromise legislation passed almost unanimously by the Senate Intelligence Committee. However, that bill has now stalled, thanks to attacks from the Left against Democrats who supported it, and Mukasey wants to see it passed: The Senate Intelligence Committee's bill is not perfect, and it contains provisions that I hope will be improved. However, it would achieve two important objectives. First, it would keep the intelligence gaps closed by ensuring that individual court orders are not required to direct surveillance at foreign targets overseas. Second, it would provide protections from lawsuits for telecommunications companies that have been sued simply because they are believed to have assisted our intelligence agencies after the 9/11 attacks....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hillary's Firewall -- A Political Maginot Line?

Hillary Clinton has begun to shift resources to New Hampshire as part of a firewall strategy after seeing Iowa slip from her grasp. However, it may be too late for the Granite State to contain the collapse of her once-invincible primary campaign. CNN shows a dead heat now in New Hampshire, as Hillary has squandered her lead: Barack Obama has chipped away at Hillary Clinton’s lead in New Hampshire, and the two Democratic presidential hopefuls are now locked in a statistical tie less than one month before the first-in-the-nation primary, a CNN/WMUR Poll released Wednesday shows. Clinton has dropped 5 percentage points since the CNN/WMUR November survey, while Obama has gained 8 percentage points, according to the poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Clinton is now at 31 percent to Obama’s 30 percent. A loss here would prove devastating to Hillary. She has had a consistent...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Will This Debate Have 'Seismic' Impact?

The Des Moines Register can be forgiven for trying to drum up viewership for the 10th Republican presidential primary debate this year, three weeks before the Iowa caususes. The Register will sponsor the debate this afternoon, taking place at the odd and relatively inaccessible time of 1 pm CT, and they can use all the viewers they can muster during the workday. The chances of "seismic" revelations at this point seem very remote: The Des Moines Register's presidential debates, set for today and Thursday, are the last meetings of the candidates before the leadoff Iowa caucuses and most meaningful of the dozens already held this year, campaign strategists agree. Republicans, scheduled to debate today, will meet with the caucus campaign in flux as better-known candidates aim for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the surprise leader in Iowa with three weeks until caucus night. .... "With just over 20 days left...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Murdered By Mumia

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we have two guests to talk about the Mumia Abu Jamal case. First, Maureen Faulkner joins us to discuss her new book, Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice, in which the widow of the murdered Philadelphia police officer explains the case, the impact of the murder on her family, and the impact of Mumia's ascension to hip left-wing cause has had on her personally. In the second half of our show, I'm pleased to have Shaun Mullen join us. Shaun worked as city editor at the Philadelphia Daily News at the time of the murder and has some unique perspective to share with us. Shaun's take on this case may surprise some, but not anyone aware of Shaun's incisive commentary --...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Winner Of The Most Dull Debate Is ...

... certainly not the viewer. I'm with Fred Barnes. We got a series of campaign slogans, not a debate. He called Carolyn Washburn "Nurse Ratchet," and Mort Kondracke echoed my depiction of Washburn as a schoolmarm. Nothing much happened in 73 minutes, as I noted in my moment-to-moment commentary at Heading Right. Without much tension on stage, or even interest, the candidates had to push against air most of the debate. Earlier, I wrote about what the top-tier candidates had to do today, but they had very little opportunity to score points for themselves or each other. Nothing said today on the stage had been left unsaid before today. That said, all of them took some positives away from this race. Fred Thompson showed up for the debate, and scored points against Washburn's silliness in the most interesting and spontaneous part of the debate. McCain relaxed and was himself. Rudy...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Aroma Of Flop Sweat

I've written before that in both politics and romance, desperation does not act as an aphrodisiac. The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone past the stench of desperation to the reek of flop sweat as they see their inevitability collapse into incoherence. Hillary's New Hampshire co-chair warns that surging Barack Obama will get peppered with questions about his admitted high-school drug use: Billy Shaheen, the co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign in New Hampshire, raised the issue of Sen. Barack Obama's past admissions of drug use in discussing the relative electability of the Democrats seeking the presidential nomination today. ... "The Republicans are not going to give up without a fight ... and one of the things they're certainly going to jump on is his drug use," said Shaheen, the husband of former N.H. governor Jeanne Shaheen, who is planning to run for the Senate next year. Billy Shaheen contrasted Obama's openness...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Media Alert (Update: Time Change)

I'll be interviewed on C-SPAN2 sometime after 10 pm CT tonight. The topic will be the Republican debate earlier today. Normally we'd live-blog this at Heading Right, but thanks to the odd time the Des Moines Register chose for this debate, most of our correspondents won't be able to watch it live. I'll post my debate analysis after my Heading Right Radio show concludes. (I'm TiVoing it, as it will run during the show itself.) Be sure to catch my telephone interview during Capital News Today. UPDATE: Thanks to an extended Senate session, they had to pre-record the interview, which I just completed. C-SPAN2 will play it after they replay the debate, which is on right now -- actually just finishing up. I'm guessing that they'll run this around 11 pm CT. UPDATE: It looks like it will be more like 10:30 pm CT. It's coming up soon. Sorry for...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 13, 2007

Thursday: Mike Huckabee Live On Heading Right Radio (Bumped)

He's the hottest candidate in the Republican race at the home stretch before the primaries begin. He has the biggest headlines, and the biggest controversies. Now he returns to Heading Right Radio at a special time on Thursday. Governor Mike Huckabee will appear live on the December 13th show, scheduled to begin at 6 pm ET. We'll take calls and keep a close eye on the webchat, too! In the meantime, feel free to post your questions for Governor Huckabee in the comments on this post. Don't miss this late-breaking item, either -- the founder of the Minuteman Project has endorsed Huckabee. Will this build any confidence for Huckabee among illegal-immigration activists? UPDATE & BUMP: I'll push this to the top. Post your question for Huckabee, and make sure you're around today at 6 pm ET for his Heading Right Radio appearance....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Russia Will Finish Bushehr

Russia has negotiated a payment schedule with Iran and will complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant, both nations announced today. The move comes in the wake of the NIE that reversed years of intelligence analysis and declared Iran's nuclear weapons program halted. The Russians appear happy to accept that conclusion, even if Britain and Israel strongly disagree: Russia and Iran have settled all differences over the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station and agreed on a time-table for its completion, the Russian contractor building the station said on Thursday. "We have resolved all the problems with the Iranians," said Sergei Shmatko, president of Atomstroiexport. "We have agreed with our Iranian colleagues a timeframe for completing the plant and we will make an announcement at the end of December." Russia's role in building the Bushehr plant on the Gulf is at the centre of a diplomatic dispute. Western powers, which...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Little Adjustment To The Constitution, And Voila!

Pervez Musharraf will lift the emergency decree he imposed six weeks ago, but only after amending Pakistan's constitution to keep his actions during the PCO from judicial challenge. It serves as a tacit admission of his violation of the constitution during his reign as military dictator and especially in his emergency rule: Attorney General Malik Mohammed Qayyum told The Associated Press that the president, who has acknowledged that he breached the constitution, will amend the charter to protect his decisions from legal challenges. Qayyum said government legal experts were finalizing the changes and that they would be announced before Musharraf lifts the emergency on Saturday, but provided no details. "The president will lift the emergency to restore the constitution and the fundamental rights," he said. Pakistanis have demanded a restoration of the constitution as a prerequisite to engaging in the electoral process. The secretive nature of the changes puts into...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Do-Nothing Congress Divides Democrats

The Democrats promised a new approach to legislation when they took control of Congress at the beginning of the year. No one knew that the new approach would mean doing almost nothing and blowing off budgeting until almost the end of the first quarter of the new fiscal year. Democrats in particular didn't think it meant having the Senate undo almost all of their work while under Democratic leadership. Now the Democrats have fallen into a public family feud, with members in both chambers bitterly criticizing each other for their failures. Here's the House: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) accuses Senate Democratic leaders of developing "Stockholm syndrome," showing sympathy to their Republican captors by caving in on legislation ... And the Senate: Reid, in turn, has taken to the Senate floor to criticize what he called the speaker's "iron hand" style of governance. And the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

George Bush, Mr. Relevant

George Bush should send nice Christmas cards to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The pair have done more for Bush's reputation that the three Republican-controlled Congresses that preceded the 110th. The Democratic leadership have made George Bush more relevant and more Republican than ever before -- and their latest surrender on the budget underscores it: House Democratic leaders yesterday agreed to meet President Bush's bottom-line spending limit on a sprawling, half-trillion-dollar domestic spending bill, dropping their demands for as much as $22 billion in additional spending but vowing to shift funds from the president's priorities to theirs. The final legislation, still under negotiation, will be shorn of funding for the war in Iraq when it reaches the House floor, possibly on Friday. But Democratic leadership aides concede that the Senate will probably add those funds. A proposal to strip the bill of spending provisions for lawmakers' home districts was shelved...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Clinton Method, Exposed

Robert Novak tells readers today that Barack Obama has managed to do what the "vast right-wing conspiracy" could not -- show how the Clintons operate against their political opponents. The rapidly collapsing Hillary Clinton campaign's desperation has forced them to go public with accusations they normally whisper, because their whispering campaign has proven ineffective against Obama: David Axelrod, the seasoned Chicago Democratic operative who is chief strategist for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was taken by surprise in the last minute of CBS's "Face the Nation" on Dec. 2. Howard Wolfson, Sen. Hillary Clinton's spokesman, accused Obama of running a "slush fund." In fact, the Clinton campaign was spreading that story privately months ago. Last summer, a senior Clinton aide told a famous Democrat believed to favor Obama that the Illinois senator was using his "leadership" political action committee to spread money around the country to grease his presidential prospects....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Economy Still Steaming

The rumors of impending economic death still appear to be exaggerated. According to the Labor Department's figures, spending rose sharply in November as consumer confidence increased. The price of gasoline figured in some of that increase, but even with that factor removed, the rise of spending increased three times from October: Wholesale prices and retail sales jumped in November and jobless claims fell last week. Wholesale prices shot up 3.2 percent, the biggest jump in 34 years, propelled by a record rise in gasoline prices. Meanwhile, consumers put aside worries about the weak economy in November to storm into the shopping malls, pushing up retail sales by the largest amount in six months. The Labor Department reports that new claims filed for jobless benefits dropped to 333,000 last week, an encouraging sign that the job market is holding together despite problems in the economy. .... Half of the November increase...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Fair-Weather Friends

The intelligence community suspected that the fervor to protect the nation from terrorist attack would fade as they succeeded in doing so. That conundrum has proven true, as the agency takes fire for intel methods that had consensus support in the months after the 9/11 attack. It continues as the newspaper most responsible for anti-intelligence backlash now reports on the effect they've had on national security efforts (via Memeorandum): For six years, Central Intelligence Agency officers have worried that someday the tide of post-Sept. 11 opinion would turn, and their harsh treatment of prisoners from Al Qaeda would be subjected to hostile scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution. Now that day may have arrived, after years of shifting legal advice, searing criticism from rights groups — and no new terrorist attacks on American soil. The Justice Department, which in 2002 gave the C.I.A. legal approval for waterboarding and other tough interrogation...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

In Case You Missed It ....

Last night, I appeared on C-SPAN2 (via telephone) to discuss the presidential debate earlier that day in Iowa. The appearance time shifted around that evening as Congress unexpectedly stayed in session into the evening, and rather than conduct a live interview, we taped it instead. Some CapQ readers may have missed it, and so I've created a YouTube of the segment: C-SPAN2 shows a clip from MS-NBC's Hardball in this segment proving that the Left and Right can agree on one thing: Carolyn Washburn. I tried being gentle, but Chris Matthews and his guests don't pull their punches. You may have missed my appearance last night, but don't miss Mike Huckabee's appearance on Heading Right Radio tonight! We're on at 6 pm ET....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Era Of Open Government Commencing

The long-awaited opening of the federal budget to Internet researchers has arrived. The new website envisioned and enabled by the Coburn-Obama Act in 2006 has officially launched at USAspending.gov, offered by the government and designed by OMB Watch. The Washington Post reports on the creation of the site: Robert Shea is a Republican insider with a head for business and a yen for federal program performance standards. Gary Bass is a government watchdog with a mean bite who wants openness and knows how to get it. Official antagonists, political opposites, brought together by a wild, crazy idea: federal budget transparency. Online and searchable. Free for the asking. Today, the White House budget office officially launches USASpending.gov, a Web site that shows taxpayers where their dollars go and which legislators, contractors and regions get the most. The site was created by Shea, associate director of the Office of Management and Budget....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Peeking In On The Democrats (Update: Who Won?)

I'll do something today I've mostly avoided this year -- watch the Democratic presidential debate. I consider the party debates to be mostly internal affairs, and have contented myself to dissecting transcripts after the fact. With this being the last major debate before the Iowa caucus, I'm going to take the time to peek in on the Democrats to see whether (a) they do any unusual damage to themselves, and (b) whether the Des Moines Register learned any lessons from yesterday's debate. You can keep up with the debate at Heading Right, where I will live-blog the show. My final analysis will appear in this post after the debate's conclusion. UPDATE: Well, if this debate gives any indication, I haven't missed much. Partly this comes from the Washburn model of debate, which reduces everything to 30-second sound bites. That has some relation to yesterday's debate, but Washburn got weaker and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Paging Sir Edmund Hillary

Recall the embarrassment Hillary Clinton suffered when she tried to explain she'd been named after Sir Edmund Hillary after he'd climbed Mount Everest -- only to have it pointed out that she had been five years old at that time? Well, she still seems a little confused about her birth date. Here's an interesting passage in today's debate: HC: We've got to enlist the American people the way we did in a previous generation for the Apollo program. As a little girl, I remember being thrilled about that, and feeling there was something I could do. [Shrugs] My fifth-grade teacher said it was to study math and science, but it gave me an idea of actually contributing to my country. Hillary Clinton was born in 1947. Assuming she started the first grade as a six-year-old as most kids do, she would have been in the fifth grade in 1957-1958. The...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Governor Mike Huckabee

Today on Heading Right Radio (5 pm CT/6 pm ET), Governor Mike Huckabee will join us live! Gov. Huckabee has appeared twice before on Heading Right Radio, and this time he joins us as a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. We'll talk with him about his newfound top-tier status, what that means for his campaign, and how it has affected fundraising and national strategy. He's come under a lot of fire, and we'll give him a chance to answer the criticism that comes with his rise in the polls. UPDATE: Tom Bevan from Real Clear Politics will join me in the first half of the show. He's been in Iowa covering the debates, and we'll talk about who won, who lost, and what Tom hears from the ground in Iowa. Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Call 646-652-4889...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

What Huckabee Said On Heading Right Radio

If you missed the live broadcast of Heading Right Radio today, featuring a live interview with Governor Mike Huckabee, you missed an interesting look at the sudden frontrunner for the upcoming Iowa caucus. Huckabee has risen so suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, that most people only know him through the headlines. We asked him about those controversies tonight, and Huckabee gave us some thoughtful answers. Here's a sample: On Mormons qualifying for the presidency: "It shouldn't have anything to do with whether people vote for Romney or not." On questions about religion: "Interestingly, I think I have been asked far more in-depth questions about my faith than Mitt Romney or anybody else has." On immigration: "Every person who lives in this country ought to live with his head held up, and not in fear of each other or our own government. ... The laws are broken. Fix the law, fix...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 14, 2007

Old Mister Withers Speaks

Readers may have misspent part of their youth watching the cartoon series "Scooby Doo", which (like the Road Runner series) made an entire television show recycling one plot line over and over again. Despite being ghost hunters, they always discovered a hoax, with a typical villain being Old Mister Withers. He would end the episode saying something like, "If it wasn't for those darned kids, I've have gotten away with it!" Apparently that sentiment extends to journalists. David Hazinski, a former NBC correspondent, decides that he doesn't like those darned kids messing with Journalism. In yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he calls for self-regulation of the news media to shut out bloggers and other consumers from providing content (via Instapundit): The premise of citizen journalism is that regular people can now collect information and pictures with video cameras and cellphones, and distribute words and images over the Internet. Advocates argue that the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Nancy Overreaches, Part 37B

Pity poor Nancy Pelosi. She and Harry Reid promised to make 2007 an annus horribilis for George Bush in many ways. Instead, the two Congressional leaders have stymied themselves through hardline tactics and divisive rhetoric. They have not been able to deliver on their biggest promise -- an end to the war in Iraq, even with Reid declaring defeat on the floor of the Senate. Yesterday, Pelosi lashed out at Republicans, saying that they "liked" war (via Memeorandum): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans on Thursday, saying they want the Iraq war to drag on and are ignoring the public's priorities. "They like this war. They want this war to continue," Pelosi, D- Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans' ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending and other matters. "We thought that they shared the view of so many...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Will 'Holly Holy' Become A Campaign Theme Song Next?

For those who long for some of that old-time religion, the presidential primaries have given them a concentrated dose of it. At times, this race has resembled a revival more than a campaign. With even Joe Biden -- Joe Biden! -- quoting lyrics from a spiritual at yesterday's debate, one might wonder who will select Neil Diamond's song about a faith-healer for a campaign theme song, and when. Charles Krauthammer wonders who will have the guts to end the revival: Mitt Romney declares, "Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone." Barack Obama opens his speech at his South Carolina Oprah rally with "Giving all praise and honor to God. Look at the day that the Lord has made." Mike Huckabee explains his surge in the polls thus: "There's only one explanation for it, and it's not a human one. It's the same power that helped a little boy with...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Dogs And Cats, Living Together Creates Minor Hysteria

Sean Lengell starts off his Washington Times article on the energy-bill compromise with a bit of undeserved triumphalism. Although not inaccurate in a narrow sense, the agreement on the energy bill to remove an onerous tax doesn't quite equate to surrender, but rather an uncommon occurrence in the Beltway -- an actual process of consensus legislation: Senate Democrats yesterday bowed to Republicans and stripped a proposed tax increase for oil companies from a broad energy bill, clearing the way for passage of the measure that includes the first increase in vehicle gas-mileage standards in 32 years. The bill, designed to make the nation less dependent on fossil fuels and which calls for greater use of renewable energy sources, passed 86-8 and now heads back to the House for final approval. "Compromise can be frustrating, it can be exasperating, and it can be maddening," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Huckabee Surge Spreading

Don't look now, but the Republican presidential race has become extremely interesting. Fueled by apparent discontent with the top-tier candidates, Mike Huckabee has zoomed out of nowhere to become the hottest candidate in the race. He now leads in South Carolina according to CNN's polling, and Rasmussen now shows him leading in Florida, a stronghold for Rudy Giuliani all year: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee surged to the top among Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina, while Sen. Hillary Clinton's lead over Sen. Barack Obama among Democrats narrowed since July in that state, according to a new poll. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of South Carolinians was released Friday Huckabee was the choice of 24 percent of South Carolina Republicans in the survey conducted by telephone between Dec. 9 and 12. When the same poll was conducted in July, Huckabee was in the lower tier with just 3 percent of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Quiet Victory Of Musa Qala

The NATO/Afghan coalition won an important victory this week in Musa Qala, held by the Taliban for almost ten months. Not only did they eject the Taliban from their one strategic position in Helmand, they also shut down an important source of funds for their continued fight against the democratic government in Kabul. Although the victory got plenty of play in the blogosphere, Investors Business Daily notices that it barely received a mention from the mainstream media: Far from just an important Taliban command post, Musa Qala was also a training base for both Afghan and foreign Islamist militants. Azimi has said hundreds of foreign terrorists had gathered there. That makes this week's victory a big win in the global war on terror. On top of that, though, is the fact that the town was home to as many as 70 heroin labs, profits from which were used to fund...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Michael Larson Update

Last Friday, I introduced readers to Michael Larson and his mother, Leah. Michael, in the words of his teachers, is "a great kid" with a serious problem -- end-stage renal disease. Michael had to have his kidney removed and is now on dialysis at an age where boys usually spend their days playing baseball, or at this time of year, sledding and playing hockey. Instead, Michael and his mom have to worry about whether Michael can stay healthy enough for the average five-year wait for a cadaver donor. Given the extraordinary gift that my wife received twice of live-donor kidneys from our friends, I wanted to pay that forward in some small way by helping Michael find his own live donor. My first post prompted an excellent essay from CapQ reader Amy Kissling, who shared her personal story of organ donation for her friend. That prompted another reader, Paul, to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: The Week In Review!

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we'll have the Week in Review with Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson! We go long on Fridays to 90 minutes, and we'll go long on Huckabee's surprising surge, the debates that weren't, the latest in Democratic surrenders, and much, much more. Jim Geraghty of NRO's Campaign Spot joins us again as well. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Would An Obama Nomination Change The Tone In 2008?

A funny thing happened on the way to the coronation; the queen tripped over herself and lost her crown. That could well be the story in the Democratic primaries if the Obama surge in recent polling holds. Hillary Clinton, once thought invincible, has spent the last five weeks reminding everyone why she has such high negatives, and the inexperienced Illinois Senator has reaped the rewards. In New Hampshire, Obama has now edged ahead of Hillary among likely voters: Barack Obama has come from behind to turn the Democratic presidential race in New Hampshire into a toss-up, according to a new Monitor opinion poll. The results - which show Obama with a one-point edge over Hillary Clinton - mirror other polls released this week, indicating that Clinton's once-imposing lead has evaporated in the run-up to New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary. The poll suggests that the Democratic race could hinge on the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Do-Over?

How bad was the last debate in Iowa? So bad that Iowa Republicans want the candidates to use valuable campaign time to add another debate in the week before the Iowa caucus. The Politico reports that we won't see Carolyn Washburn again: Dissatisfied with the debate here Wednesday that drew widespread scorn, Iowa Republicans will discuss on Friday the possibility of holding another forum before the January 3rd caucuses. The debate this week, sponsored by the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Television, was to have been the final gathering of the GOP contenders, but one well-placed Iowa Republican said tonight that they were interested in getting the candidates back together ... It's uncertain if all of the hopefuls would agree to an additional joint gathering or if there is even time enough to get one scheduled. But that Republicans are even mulling the prospect says much about just how...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Congress Does Half The Right Thing -- In The Dark

Congress has finally authorized spending for the Iraq war without the demand to end the success of the Petraeus strategy. On a 90-3 vote in the Senate, the defense authorization bill finally left Congress and will make its way to the White House, with the money itself still not appropriated. That may take another Friday evening to produce: The Democratic-led Congress authorized more Iraq war spending on Friday, sending President Bush a defense bill requiring no change in strategy after failing again to impose a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals. The defense policy bill, approved 90-3 by the Senate, also expanded the size of the U.S. Army and set conditions on the Bush administration’s plan to build a missile defense system in Europe. The measure already had passed the House and now goes to Bush, who is expected to sign it into law. It authorizes Pentagon programs expected to cost...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 15, 2007

Emergency Rule Lifted In Pakistan

Pervez Musharraf lifted the emergency decree under which he ruled for six weeks as promised. The action clears the way for national elections in the second week of January, but the nation's largest Islamist party withdrew its candidates from the parliamentary races, claiming fraud: President Pervez Musharraf lifted Pakistan's six-week-old state of emergency and restored the constitution Saturday, easing a crackdown that has enraged opponents and worried Western supporters. Information Minister Nisar Memon said Musharraf had signed the order lifting the emergency. He called it a "historic day" and said next month's parliamentary elections would cement the country's return to democracy. .... Jamaat-e-Islami — Pakistan's largest Islamic party — withdrew its 130 candidates for Parliament and 450 nominations for provincial assemblies in protest against Musharraf's dismissal of judges, spokesman Ameerul Azim said. "This is a fraud election. We are boycotting unless the judges are restored," he said. Thus far, JI...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A California Emergency Means Grab Your Wallets

Arnold Schwarzenegger will declare a fiscal state of emergency in California after badly miscalculating the deficit condition in the Golden State. Last August, he predicted that the state would have a $4.1 billion reserve at the end of this fiscal year, but a legislative analyst predicted in November that California would have a $10 billion deficit. Schwarzenegger now says it's even worse than that: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the state's growing deficit. Schwarzenegger made the announcement Friday after meeting with lawmakers and interest groups this week to tell them California's budget deficit is worse -- far worse -- than economists predicted just a few weeks ago. The shortfall is not $10 billion, but more than $14 billion -- a 40 percent jump that would put it in orbit with some...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Romney Gets An Impressive Endorsement

Mitt Romney has picked up his second impressive conservative endorsement in a week. This time, Judge Robert Bork has thrown his support to the former Massachusetts governor, following on the heels of the National Review endorsement. Mike Allen at The Politico, another Cerritos guy kicking around in politics, thinks this carried considerable street cred among conservatives, and he's right. Bork had these comments to accompany his endorsement: Joining Romney for President, Judge Bork said, "Throughout my career, I have had the honor of serving under several Presidents and am proud to make today's endorsement. No other candidate will do more to advance the conservative judicial movement than Governor Mitt Romney. He knows firsthand how the judicial branch can profoundly affect the future course of a state and a nation. I greatly admired his leadership in Massachusetts in the way that he responded to the activist court's ruling legalizing same-sex 'marriage.'...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Terrorist Plot No One Talked About

A terrorist conspiracy to attack military sites and synagogues developed among prison Muslims for years, and yet hardly any mention of the conspiracy made the news. The Los Angeles Times picks up the story no one else seems interested in reporting, noting that two of the accused have pled guilty to the conspiracy: Two members of a prison-based Islamic terrorist cell that authorities say was poised to attack military sites, synagogues and other targets across Southern California pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to conspiring to wage war against the United States. The plot, which police stumbled upon during a routine investigation into a gas station holdup, represented one of the most realistic terrorism threats on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, experts said. The case also raised concerns about whether the country's prisons could serve as recruiting centers for Islamic extremists. As the defendants entered their pleas, prosecutors made public...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NARN, The Emergency Rule 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 is on assignment -- and I've declared emergency rule, like Pervez Musharraf and Arnold Schwarzenegger. King joins me in Volume II to talk about the week's top stories! Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the conversation!...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Playground Diplomacy?

Mike Huckabee is taking shots from conservatives today after his explanation of his foreign policy, especially from Mitt Romney, who calls it "playground diplomacy". The substance of his foreign policy seems less at issue than in the way he introduces it. He castigates the Bush administration for conducting its policy with a high-school arrogance: The United States, as the world's only superpower, is less vulnerable to military defeat. But it is more vulnerable to the animosity of other countries. Much like a top high school student, if it is modest about its abilities and achievements, if it is generous in helping others, it is loved. But if it attempts to dominate others, it is despised. American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 16, 2007

The Register Endorsements

The Des Moines Register gave its endorsements in the primary races. For the Democrats, the Register unsurprisingly went with the Establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton. For the Republicans, they gave a big surprise to John McCain, a man who ignored Iowa in 2000 and has gained almost no traction in 2008. Why McCain? McCain is most ready to lead America in a complex and dangerous world and to rebuild trust at home and abroad by inspiring confidence in his leadership. In an era of instant celebrity, we sometimes forget the real heroes in our midst. The defining chapter of McCain's life came 40 years ago as a naval aviator, when he was shot down over Vietnam. The crash broke both arms and a leg. When first seeing him, a fellow prisoner recalls thinking he wouldn't live the night. He was beaten and kept in solitary confinement, held 5 years. He could...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Bolivia Moves Towards Civil War

Just a year after the election of the leftist government in Bolivia, the nation's most resource-rich regions have moved towards secession from the central government. The move sets up a conflict on several levels between Evo Morales and the wealthy producers he has attempted to nationalize, and that conflict appears headed for violence: Tensions were rising in Bolivia on Saturday as members of the country's four highest natural gas-producing regions declared autonomy from the central government. Thousands waved the Santa Cruz region's green-and-white flags in the streets as council members of the Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando districts made the public announcement. The officials displayed a green-bound document containing a set of statutes paving the way to a permanent separation from the Bolivian government. Council representatives vowed to legitimize the so-called autonomy statutes through a referendum that would legally separate the natural-gas rich districts from President Evo Morales' government....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Brits Hand Basra Back To The Iraqis

The British completed their handoff of security responsibility in Basra to the central Iraqi government today, the last of four provinces under their control. The UK will leave 5,000 troops at their base near the Basra airport, but will only deploy on request from Baghdad. Otherwise, they will consider themselves "guests" and assist with training for Iraqi security forces: Britain has formally handed control of Basra province to local Iraqi authorities, in a ceremony at Basra airport. The ceremony - the first stage of a move to reduce UK troops to 2,500 by next spring - is a significant step in the formal handover of power in Iraq and the eventual withdrawal of all UK forces from the country. The commander of British forces in Basra, Major General Graham Binns, said the city had been pulled from the grip of its enemies. "I now formally hand it back to its...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Bali Compromise

The US has agreed to a policy statement in Bali that commits the nation to funding emissions-control efforts in developing nations while leaving targets ambiguous for our own reductions. The agreement came after our previous allies on emissions-control negotiations left the US isolated when developing nations agreed to enter the strictures of the policy: The landmark global warming document agreed to on Saturday at a United Nations climate conference here was weakened in furious last-minute negotiations, but still made important progress in two key areas. Under pressure from the United States, the document abandoned setting any firm goal for worldwide emissions reductions and left open the possibility that industrialized countries could avoid individual caps on their emissions. Nonetheless, for the first time, it enrolled the developing world in efforts to reduce global emissions and pushed those nations to consider ways to limit their output of greenhouse gases. More important, the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The 2007 Retrospective

We're coming to the end of another great year here at Captain's Quarters, and just as with most enterprises, it provides us an opportunity to review the work done over the past twelve months. Rather than decide for myself which posts rise (or sink) the farthest, it makes more sense to me to ask the CapQ community. What posts touched you the most? Which posts engaged you? Which left you cold? Which just flat-out got it wrong? Granted, this is a rather large task, given the volume of posts here. However, I'd love to get some nominations for Best and Worst Posts here at Captain's Quarters in 2007. I'll try to narrow it down to three each, and I'll put up a poll in time for the last week in December for finals voting. Feel free to include your arguments in favor of your nominations, and to reply back to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Last Auld Lang Syne

Dan Fogelberg left us too soon and too young at 56. He passed away earlier today after a long battle with prostate cancer. Fogelberg wrote ballads that had a knack of hewing close to the emotional bone while insinuating his deceptively simple melodies into our consciousness: Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56. His death was announced in a statement released by his family through the firm Scoop Marketing, and it was also posted on the singer's Web site. "Dan left us this morning at 6:00 a.m. He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side," it read. "His strength, dignity and grace in the face of the daunting...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 17, 2007

No-Knock In Minneapolis

This could have ended very badly. Police conducted a raid on a house based on bad information and wound up getting shot by the owner, who could not speak English. Fortunately for everyone, no one got hurt, but once again the wisdom of no-knock raids will get challenged by the disaster that could have occurred (via Memeorandum): Police blamed bad information for sending a SWAT team into a north Minneapolis house early Sunday morning in a raid that ended with shots exchanged between police -- who were struck by bullets -- and the resident, who said he was just defending his family. The homeowner, who does not speak English, told his brother that he thought the police were the "bad guys" after they broke through the back door of the house, where he lives with his wife and six children. He fired and hit two police officers, who were not...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Baghdad Strategy

The US has had an interesting change in strategic planning for the coming drawdown in Iraq when the surge troops depart. Originally, the Army planned on making most of their significant reductions in Baghdad. Now they have decided that the western provinces can manage themselves better than expected, while Baghdad will require a stronger American presence longer: In a change of plans, American commanders in Iraq have decided to keep their forces concentrated in Baghdad when the buildup strategy ends next year, removing troops instead from outlying areas of the country. The change represents the military's first attempt to confront its big challenge in 2008: how to cut the number of troops without sacrificing security. The shift in deployment strategy, described by senior U.S. military officials in Iraq and Washington, is based on concerns that despite recent improvements, the capital could again erupt into widespread violence without an imposing American...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Declining Into Dhimmitude

Let's say that a public college started segregating non-restroom facilities by gender, giving women less resources than men. Add to that the dissemination of literature that instructed women to keep their mouths shut, as public speech by women offends. Top it off with diatribes that demands the shunning of Jews and Christians, and one might see the lawsuit appearing quickly in the rear-view mirror. However, in Minneapolis' Normandale College, it's just another concession to radical Muslims (via Power Line): A row of chest-high barriers splits the room into sex-segregated sections. In the smaller, enclosed area for women sits a pile of shawls and head-coverings. Literature titled "Hijaab [covering] and Modesty" was prominently placed there, instructing women on proper Islamic behavior. They should cover their faces and stay at home, it said, and their speech should not "be such that it is heard." "Enter into Islaam completely and accept all the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Does Lieberman Help McCain?

John McCain picked up another endorsement today -- this time from his old friend, Joe Lieberman. The Senator now designated as "independent-Democrat" on roll calls gave his support to his colleague and friend during a joint appearance at a VFW hall in New Hampshire this morning. The unusual act of having a former VP nominee from the opposition party endorsing his run for the Presidency will get McCain some headlines, but will it help Republicans feel more comfortable with McCain? "I know that it is unusual for someone who is not a Republican to endorse a Republican candidate for President. And if this were an ordinary time and an ordinary election, I probably would not be here today. But this is no ordinary time," Lieberman said in prepared remarks released by the McCain campaign. "When others were silent, and it was thought politically unpopular, John had the courage and common...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

British "Fleeing" Iraq: Zawahiri

The number two man in al-Qaeda has decided to take the British turnover of Basra to the Iraqi central government out for a little jihadi spin. Ayman al-Zawahiri claims that Britain has not left Basra because of a successful transition to Iraqi security forces, but because of successful action by the "mujaheddin" in Basra. Of course, the al-Qaeda "mujaheddin" haven't come within a hundred miles of Basra, but Zawahiri doesn't let that interfere with his propaganda: Al-Qa'eda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri has said Britain's decision to hand control of Basra to the Iraqi government shows that the insurgency is stronger than ever. In a newly released video Osama bin Laden's deputy mocked the "decision of the British to flee" and said it follows the growing strength of the Mujahideen. He also claimed that coalition control in Iraq is deteriorating "despite their desperate attempts to deceive and mislead". The 98-minute video...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Omnibus Follies

As I have written before, omnibus spending bills give Congress a lot of power to create mischief and hide corruption. These appropriations roll up all spending authorizations into a single spending bill, creating fragile alliances that these days rely more on pork than real consensus on priorities. This approach makes it difficult for the White House to use its veto without shutting down vital portions of the federal government, a type of extortion that usually means that Congress has hidden its own selfish interests in this poison pill. According to Senator Jim DeMint, today's omnibus bill is exactly like your father's: • Earmarks: Instead of reducing the number of pork projects in the federal budget, the bill drives the number of earmarks up from last year. The bill contains over 8,000 earmarks, bringing the total for 2008 up to over 10,000 earmarks compared to just 2,658 in 2007. • Spending...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Internet Not Just For Venting Spleens

Sally Satel's first online relationship left a permanent scar -- for which she gives profound thanks to God. In yesterday's New York Times, Satel reveals how she found a donor that saved her from end-stage renal disease, and likely a slow death from dialysis while waiting the enormously long time it takes to get a cadaver donor. Satel wonders why we don't have a better system for encouraging live donors (via King at SCSU Scholars): My story, it turns out, is a triumph of altruism. Looking back, I see that my anxiety over my future donor was a neurotic luxury. I worried about finding the ideal donor, but thousands of people have no donor at all — no relative who will do it out of love or obligation, no friend out of kindness, no stranger out of humane impulse. Alas, I have no kidney to give away. Instead, I am...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Why Not Just Wait For It? (Update: Romney's Camp Says, Not Us)

NBC certainly isn't alone in this failing, but they're the ones wearing egg on their collective faces today. Instead of just waiting for Rep. Steve King to make his announcement about endorsing Fred Thompson in the Iowa caucuses, First Read reported that he would endorse Mitt Romney just minutes ahead of the endorsement: And the endorsements keep coming... Congressman Steve King (R), one of Iowa's most strident critics of illegal immigration and a champion of the state's rural conservatives, has endorsed Romney. ... *** UPDATE *** King just announced that he's supporting Thompson. Team Romney is in the back of the room looking bewildered. They were all here, leading all the press to conclude that it was an endorsement for Romney. Give NBC credit for not burying its mistake. First Read appended the update to the original report, allowing everyone to see exactly what happened. Apparently, Team Romney made an...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Flylady!

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), The Flylady joins us to talk about her remarkable career -- one which has hundreds of thousands of people trusting her on everything from babysitting to politics! Author of two books and inspiration to many, Marla Cilley tells us how she transformed herself and where she will take her movement next. Don't miss this episode of HRR. Marla is a delight. In the second half, Fausta Wertz joins us to talk about the latest in Bolivia. It's a complicated story -- and one that could impact our relations in Latin America for the next several years. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Dr. Ayman Takes Your Calls After A Word From Our Bloodthirsty Sponsor

Ayman al-Zawahiri has decided to expand his horizons yet again. Once a doctor, then a terrorist leader with a world-wide following, Dr. Zawahiri now fancies himself a talk-show host. At the end of his latest missive of hatred and mass murder, Zawahiri has offered to tell us everything we want to know about radical bloody jihad but are afraid to ask ... in person: Expanding its use of the Internet, al Qaeda now is asking that online users submit their questions -- even "hostile" ones -- to its No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri. And like any other blogger, Zawahri says he is prepared to engage. He made the offer on a video posted on a jihadist Web site Sunday touting Britain's withdrawal from Basra as a success for insurgents there. ... At the end of the video, entitled "A Review of Events," a written message invites individuals, organizations and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Telecom Immunity Gets Bipartisan Support

The FISA reform bill that contains immunity for telecommunication companies that assisted the NSA on national security hurdled a procedural obstacle today on a clear bipartisan vote. The Senate invoked cloture on the bill with 76 votes, sixteen more than needed to proceed to a vote this week. Although some Democrats will attempt to attach amendments that will derail telecom immunity, the effort appears all but lost: President George W. Bush's demand for immunity for telephone companies that participated in his warrantless domestic spying program won an initial victory on Monday in the U.S. Senate. On a vote of 76-10, far more than the 60 needed, the Democratic-led Senate cleared a procedural hurdle and began considering a bill to increase congressional and judicial oversight of electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists. It includes a provision to grant retroactive immunity to any telecommunications company that took part in Bush's spying program --...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Clintons About To Get A Taste Of Their Own Medicine

A bad autumn looks to turn into a catastrophic winter for Hillary Clinton. After attempting to distract people from her stumbling campaign by launching a series of attacks on Barack Obama -- and having them backfire -- Hillary promised to take the high road in the future. That promise may have come too late for the pundit class, which has begun to question whether the Clintons intended to use racial stereotypes to frighten Democrats away from Obama: Ever since Barack Obama began to pierce the inevitability that we were told surrounded the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, I've wondered how the Clintonistas would react. Now we know: not well. .... But could it be that this story is even worse than many in the national press will say? Isn't it interesting that Shaheen, or whoever is behind this, opted to invoke the image of a drug dealer in referencing the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Huckabee Ho Ho Ho

For a while, we thought that the Iowa caucuses might come before Santa Claus and his eight reindeer. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed and the 2008 primaries remained in 2008, but only just. That gave the presidential candidates an opportunity to work Christmas into their ouevre, but none will do it quite as well as Mike Huckabee. The former governor got a jump on the non-political political advertisement rush, and he'll get the credit for improving the tone for the holidays, as Newsweek's Andrew Romano points out: The first step: beating his rivals to the "This Is No Time for Politics" punch; now every on-air attempt they make to topple the frontrunner from his above-the-fray pedestal looks tawdry. The next step: reminding voters which side of the "War on Christmas" he's on. Most campaigns run tame, PC "holiday" fare. Not Huckabee. A Southern Baptist pastor, he's counting on evangelicals to win...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 18, 2007

Fournier Misses The Mark

Ron Fournier tries to paint Bill Clinton as hypocritical for criticizing Barack Obama's lack of experience. The AP analyst claims that Clinton faced many of the same criticisms when he ran for the presidency in 1992, but discounts the extensive executive experience that Clinton already had at the time of that first run for office: Bill Clinton says Sen. Barack Obama is a callow, highly ambitious political prodigy who is asking voters to "roll the dice" and elect him president. He should know — that's a fair description of Clinton when he sought the presidency in 1992. The fact that the former president is stealing a page from the same Republican playbook used against him 15 years ago underscores the threat Obama poses to the candidacy of Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. It also illustrates Clinton's penchant for rewriting history. ... Clinton was 42 in 1988,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Beauty Contest? Have You Seen These Beauties?

Could one bad picture derail a presidential campaign? Have political campaigns become the equivalent of beauty contests for both men and women, and if so, can women get a fair shake at an age where candidates have the requisite experience? Rush Limbaugh, surprisingly, believes not, and has some sympathy for the unfairness for women: There is this thing in this country that, as you age -- and this is particularly, you know, women are hardest hit on this, and particularly in Hollywood -- America loses interest in you, and we know this is true because we constantly hear from aging actresses, who lament that they can't get decent roles anymore, other than in supporting roles that will not lead to any direct impact, yay or nay, in the box office. While Hollywood box-office receipts may be stagnant, none of that changes the fact that this is a country obsessed with...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

As Long As The Axe Has His Name On It

Have the Senate Democrats decided to dump their most egregious porker from his leadership position? The Politico reports this morning that Robert Byrd may get pressured to leave his position as chair of the Appropriations committee, a move that could call into question his ability to function at all in the Senate. Pork has nothing to do with this move: A group of Senate Democrats has begun quietly exploring ways to replace the venerable Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, believing he’s no longer physically up to the job, according to Democratic senators and leadership aides familiar with the discussions. Under one scenario being circulated in Democratic circles, the 90-year-old Byrd would be named “chairman emeritus,” and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would become “acting chairwoman” for the remainder of the 110th Congress. Democratic insiders caution, though, that no decision has been made. But there...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Can McCain Make The Sale?

On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, the only certainty apparent in the Republican race is that no one has a clear path to the nomination. Mike Huckabee has to rely on a surge that will derail Mitt Romney's early-state strategy. Rudy Giuliani has to hope that Huckabee's momentum hasn't killed his Florida firewall strategy. Fred Thompson somehow has to capture the momentum he ceded to Huckabee in Iowa with a surprisingly sluggish campaign. Meanwhile, John McCain continues to work on friendly ground in New Hampshire, hoping he can see daylight to a surprise in the Granite State that will boost his credibility for the later states. The Wall Street Journal wonders whether Republicans will have any inclination to reconsider the one-time maverick: As recently as January, Mr. McCain was the putative Republican favorite, but his support collapsed amid his campaign mismanagement and the GOP's immigration meltdown. Now primary voters...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Two Words That Strike Fear Into The GOP

They aren't Hillary Clinton, nor are they Ron Paul. The two words that will haunt the early primary states are "brokered convention", and we may be heading towards it. At Heading Right, I review the McClatchy analysis of what looks to be a Rudy Giuliani slide. Jim Geraghty points to a Gallup quote arguing that Mike Huckabee's ascent has plateaued after two weeks of hard pushbacks by a number of campaigns. Meanwhile, John McCain rises in New Hampshire, while Romney has treaded water. Republican primary voters have sent a very clear message: they have not found their candidate. After a remarkable full-year, full-court press, the top five candidates remain bunched together closely enough to have a serious shot at winning at least one of the early states. No one has broken out of the pack on either a national or state-to-state basis, and all of them have serious obstacles to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Honey, We Shrunk The Fence

Congress has apparently misinterpreted the call to shrink the federal government. While our Representatives and Senators have included over 9,000 earmarks in the omnibus spending bill under consideration today, and while they continue to add more and more federal spending, they have shrunk the border fence passed by the 109th Congress last year. It removes the requirements for specific construction and location, leaving the project in limbo (via Michelle Malkin and Memeorandum): Congress last night passed a giant new spending bill that undermines current plans for a U.S.-Mexico border fence, allowing the Homeland Security Department to build a single-tier barrier rather than the two-tier version that has worked in California. The spending bill, written by Democrats and passed 253-154 with mostly their votes, surrenders to President Bush's budget demands, meeting his spending limit with a $515 billion bill to fund most of the federal government and setting up votes to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Turks Using US Intel To Hit Iraqi Targets (Update: Rice In Iraq)

If we can't stop the Turks from invading Iraq, at least we can control their target selection. That appears to be the strategy this morning, as the Turks moved in and hit at rebel bases within the autonomous Kurdish area in northern Iraq. The Bush administration has walked a tightrope for months on the increasing provocations of the PKK and the inevitable response: The United States is providing Turkey with real-time intelligence that has helped the Turkish military target a series of attacks this month against Kurdish separatists holed up in northern Iraq, including a large airstrike on Sunday, according to Pentagon officials. U.S. military personnel have set up a center for sharing intelligence in Ankara, the Turkish capital, providing imagery and other immediate information gathered from U.S. aircraft and unmanned drones flying over the separatists' mountain redoubts, the officials said. A senior administration official said the goal of the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Fred Phenomenon?

Mike Huckabee's surge may not be the final chapter in Iowa, the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen warns, and Barack Obama may still get an unpleasant surprise. The longtime political analyst has detected signs of life from Fred Thompson and John Edwards in the Hawkeye State, and believes that the unsettled nature of both races may provide yet another surprise or two: Both Edwards and Thompson are pouring time and resources into Iowa these days. ... On the GOP side, Romney has slipped, and Huckabee has surged in Iowa and nationally. Other candidates such as Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, who never seemed to figure out just how they want to play Iowa, have effectively bypassed the state in favor of contests elsewhere. That seemed a wise strategy because it would help Huckabee defeat Romney here, thereby derailing his New Hampshire momentum and making that state easier for Giuliani and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Rick Moran, Jon Swift

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), we welcome back Rick Moran of the Right Wing Nut House. Rick and I will talk about the prospects for a brokered convention and whether a woman can win as President if she shows her age. In the second half, we'll both welcome Jon Swift, who skewers people on the Right and Left on a regular basis (but mostly on the Right). Afterwards, I'll be Rick's guest at The Rick Moran Show on BTR from 3:15-4 pm CT. Don't miss this double dose of fun! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Kicking Up The Ruckus

Newsweek has launched a new feature at its website called The Ruckus, in conjunction with the Media Bloggers Association. The Ruckus will track the postings of nine bloggers on the presidential race from now until Election Day in November -- including Captain's Quarters: Media Bloggers Association (MBA) and Newsweek have launched "The Ruckus," a new group blog about politics for Newsweek.com. The blog will feature posts from nine MBA-member bloggers about the presidential campaign on a single page, giving Newsweek.com readers a convenient sampling of some of the best political blogging from across the country and from key primary states. " 'The Ruckus' places Newsweek on the cutting edge of this campaign season's online political dialogue," said Robert Cox, president of MBA. "MBA bloggers offer Newsweek readers fresh, authentic content with real-time updates from some of the nation's leading political blogs." " 'The Ruckus' will be a key part of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Let's Be Fair

James Taranto has provided conservative readers with a must-read feature at Opinion Journal for years in the Best of the Web Today. His incisive commentary regularly skewers the ridiculous and gives a lighter look at the day's stories. Taranto rarely misses a target, and rarely selects a target without reason. Unfortunately, today he missed the mark on at least the former count. Taranto criticizes Mike Huckabee's support for the Fair Tax initiative, on which the Wall Street Journal has written extensively in the past. Taranto makes some good points, but misses entirely on one: Fair Tax people respond to this point by saying they would counter the added burden with subsidies, which they call "prebates"--a deviation from the elegant simplicity that is the plan's biggest selling point. Still, no matter how complicated they make the system, there is no escaping simple arithmetic: If some taxpayers pay less, others are going...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Reid: Al Qaeda Still Winning In Iraq

Harry Reid doesn't know when to give up, or more precisely, when to give up on giving up. After spending the last several months trying to live down his declaration of America's defeat in Iraq on the Senate floor, Reid once again gave al-Qaeda a propaganda boost that sounds as if he took it from Ayman al-Zawahiri's latest video message: Indeed, Republicans have gotten their way in the battle over spending, have forced Democrats to jettison rollbacks of tax breaks for oil companies, and have beaten back attempts to pay for expanded children's health care programs with a tobacco tax increase. Even though they're in the minority, the GOP, backed by President Bush, has used the filibuster to block Democratic priorities over and over this fall. "Who's winning?" Reid asked a group of reporters. "Big Oil, Big Tobacco. ... Al Qaeda has regrouped and is able to fight a civil...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 19, 2007

Bush Gets War Funding, Congress Gets Pork

Voters will have to determine whether the trade is worth it, but the 2008 budget finally passed Congress in an omnibus bill that will make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue on pork grease. The spending bill contains 9,000 earmarks, hundreds of which violated the supposed ethics reforms by getting airdropped in conference. Still, the bill represents at least two stunning victories for the White House and yet another surrender on the war by Democrats: The Senate last night approved a $555 billion omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, shortly after bowing to President Bush's demand for $70 billion in unrestricted funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats had vowed only weeks ago to withhold any Iraq-specific money unless strict timelines for troop withdrawal were established, but they instead chose, on a 70 to 25 vote, to remove what appeared...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

How Many Degrees Of Separation?

Blogosphere buzz today centers on a Drudge story regarding alleged marital infidelity for a major contender in the Democratic presidential primaries. The story comes from the National Enquirer, so the reliability of the information seems rather debatable. The source may be more of the story than the story itself, as the NE has a passing relationship with the candidate's main competitor. AMI owns National Enquirer, as well as other tabloid gossip rags. AMI has been on the block for a while, and investor Ron Burkle of Yucaipa Cos. has been involved in making a play for AMI. Guess who just recently -- a week ago, in fact -- distanced himself from Burkle? Former president Bill Clinton says he is preparing to reduce or curtail his business relationship with Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle's investment firm if his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, wins the Democratic presidential nomination. The move appears to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

One Congressional Action To Cheer

Somewhere in the maelstrom of double-dealing in the dark on Capitol Hill yesterday in passing the omnibus bill, a small ray of sunshine broke out. Congress passed a bill that puts a few more teeth in the Freedom of Information Act, which will help citizens get information from their own government in a more timely manner. The improvements will ensure that delays hit the government where they least like it: Taking aim at Bush administration secrecy, Congress yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would toughen the Freedom of Information Act and penalize government agencies that fail to surrender public documents on time. The bill would speed the process of releasing government documents to the public under the FOIA, as the act is known, and broaden the information available to the public by including, for example, additional government contracting information. The measure passed the House by voice vote yesterday, less than...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Putin Is POTY

Time Magazine has selected its Person of the Year, and while they didn't select General David Petraeus, they didn't select Al Gore, either. Instead, they chose Vladimir Putin with the title,"A Tsar Is Born" -- which would have been catchy in 2006 or 2005, when Putin's political direction became clear: Putin has said that next spring, at the end of his second term as President, he will assume the nominally lesser role of Prime Minister. In fact, having nominated his loyal former chief of staff (and current Deputy Prime Minister) Dmitri Medvedev to succeed him as President, Putin will surely remain the supreme leader, master of Russia's destiny, which will allow him to complete the job he started. In his eight years as President, he has guided his nation through a remarkable transformation. He has restored stability and a sense of pride among citizens who, after years of Soviet stagnation,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Any Floating Crosses?

Some people disliked the Mike Huckabee Christmas ad now getting airplay in Iowa. Complaints included too much emphasis on religion for a religious holiday, a floating cross that turned out to be a bookshelf, and Huckabee's alleged subliminal evangelical messaging. Rudy Giuliani has a new Christmas ad out, too Anything subliminal here? He does have Santa Claus in his ad. Perhaps that's subliminal for people to consider sending "gifts" in the form of campaign donations. Of course, for gifts, Rudy decided to go less subliminal here: I'll leave it to readers to dissect the deeper meaning of Rudy's mention of holiday fruitcake. The second ad intends to be more political, and may get some mixed reviews for mixing the holiday with the campaign. The first ad seems more like the genuine Rudy, and will succeed for the same reason Huckabee's ad worked so well. It allows voters to get past...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

McCain Making A Move In New Hampshire -- And Iowa?

It's too bad that Phil Rizzuto passed away earlier this year, because we could have used him for the political play-by-play in the two weeks left before the Iowa caucuses. Mitt Romney has begun to regain his footing in Iowa, but may be slipping in New Hampshire. And as it turns out, John McCain may have begun a comeback in both states, according to Rasmussen: In many places around the country, Mitt Romney is facing a challenge from Mike Huckabee. However, in New Hampshire, Huck-a-mania never took hold. But, following endorsements from the Manchester Union Leader, the Boston Globe, and Senator Joe Lieberman, John McCain is now challenging Romney in the state he won eight years ago. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the state shows Romney with 31% support, McCain at 27% and no one else close. Rudy Giuliani attracts 13% and Huckabee barely reaches double digits at...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Ayman Al-Desperate

Just two days after begging for questions at the end of his last jihadist rant, Ayman al-Zawahiri has decided to flack for interviews. The number-two man in al-Qaeda has put out a request for interviews from journalists, conducted through the Islamist forums that AQ's media arm, al-Sahab, maintains: Al-Qaida has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure Ayman al-Zawahri, the first time the terror network has offered an "interview" with one of its top leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The invitation — issued by Al-Sahab, the group's media arm on an Islamic militant Web site — is the latest in al-Qaida's increasingly sophisticated efforts to get out its message. Al-Sahab has dramatically increased the number of messages it has issued this year, and its videos have shown more complex production. The statement, first posted Sunday, invites "individuals, agencies and all media"...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Another Convert On Iraq

Yet another Democratic Congressman has returned from Iraq impressed by what he found. This time, Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says that he sees where Petraeus is heading, and that we will succeed if we persevere in the short term: U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly returned from a second trip to Iraq in five months encouraged that the mission there is going better and that by 2009 the U.S. military's role could be primarily as trainers and advisers. "I feel we've made progress, and the other part is I feel we can see an end game in sight," Donnelly, D-Ind., told reporters on a conference call Tuesday from Washington. "It isn't we just keep plugging away in the hopes something will turn out right. Gen. (David) Petraeus is working a plan and we seem to be heading toward a place where the Iraqis can be self-sustaining and we'll have a smaller presence in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Blankley Not Firing Blanks

Tony Blankley has a bone to pick with the conservative punditry covering the Republican primary race. Given the volatility of the campaign, the top-tier candidates have all had their shot at being the flavor of the week, exposing them immediately afterwards to criticism. While Blankley doesn't have a problem with honest debate on the issues, he warns about the internecine nastiness he sees: The Republican Party primary has so far been an exercise in none of the above. In their turns John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney seemed to be or seemed about to be frontrunners — only to fall back as the party's likely voters got a sharper look at each of them. Even my old boss Newt Gingrich, without even announcing, had a handsome surge from 4-5 percent to 18-20 percent in February — before falling back to single digits. Now Mike Huckabee — for...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Rich Lowry, Tim Graham

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Rich Lowry joins us to talk about the Republican primary campaign. National Review's editor talks to us about the need for a miracle for Rudy, the unsettled nature of the race, and the potential for disaster in an inconclusive primary. In the second half, Tim Graham joins us to talk about his book with L. Brent Bozell, Whitewash: What the Media Won't Tell You About Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will. Hillary Clinton has tried to project more warmth through her site, The Hillary I Know, with testimonials from various people. Tim will tell us who they are, and why voters should be wary. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

No Red Sweater On This One

We've taken a look at a couple of Christmas ads from Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani, wearing red sweaters and trying to give Iowa voters access to their character and quality. Mitt Romney's team decided to take a different tack with the ad below. Instead of sending warm or funny Christmas wishes, Romney's team shows him as a man of action -- and of the right priorities: This could play extremely well, or as exploitative. It helps to have the father in the ad; in fact, his presence makes it work. Robert Gay's story hits at all of the emotional points: family, loyalty, action, command, success. Gay understandably tells the story with a great deal of emotion years later, and anyone who's had a teenager not come home on time will relate instantly to the tale. Romney gets some criticism for being scripted and slick. This ad will have some...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Jim Moran: American Troops Practice Genocide

In case we forgot Harry Reid's fantasy of al-Qaeda "civil war" in Iraq from yesterday, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) reminds us why Democrats have gone out of their minds on the Iraq debate. Moran tells Congress during the funding debate that American troops "ethnically cleansed" Baghdad. No kidding (via The Corner): "Sure, there's less violence, but that's because we've ethnically cleansed most of Baghdad." The UN and most of the rest of the world define ethnic cleansing as a form of genocide. Moran believes that American troops have conducted that crime in Baghdad as part of a pacification program. His words have no other meaning. Of course, such an allegation is absurd on its face. Refugees streaming back to the capital put lie to such a scurrilous charge. In the next breath, Moran notes that the Sunnis stopped fighting us and started fighting al-Qaeda. Would they have likely made a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

AOL Puts Captain's Quarters On The Hot Seat

Today, AOL announced a new partnership with several bloggers for a new project called The Hot Seat. Daily poll questions will appear, asked by the various members of the partnership, on AOL and on the blogs. The partnership includes Captain's Quarters and Power Line, as well as some well-known media sites: AOL has launched a syndicated online political widget - called "Hot Seat" - on AOL News, http://news.aol.com. "Hot Seat" features daily political poll questions from some of the biggest political bloggers on the Internet, including The Huffington Post, Time's Swampland, Slate, The Politico, Crooks & Liars, Power Line and Captain's Quarters. The questions address current political issues and events as a way to stimulate a dialogue between voters, pundits and politicians. "Hot Seat" also features responses from major presidential candidates to specific questions posed to them by bloggers and pundits. "Hot Seat" will be displayed on all AOL News,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 20, 2007

A Little Experiment With Searches

CapQ readers may notice a new search feature on the far right sidebar. I'm testing a Lijit account. It looks like it works a little better than my native search feature, and it allows me to expand the search parameters to Heading Right, Heading Right Radio, and other blogs as well. It uses the Google engine, and it includes a normal Google web search as an option. Give it a go, and let me know what you think....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Sadr May Extend Sidelining

Moqtada al-Sadr may keep the Mahdi Army on the sidelines for another period of months. Apparently satisfied with the impact his unilateral cease-fire has had on his fortunes, Sadr may instead focus on his religious studies while mothballing his Shi'ite militia. The news has some scratching their heads: Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is considering extending a freeze on the activities of his powerful Mehdi Army militia, his official spokesman said. "Yes, there is a chance that the freeze on the Mehdi Army will be extended," Salah al-Ubaidy told Reuters late on Wednesday. Ubaidy did not say how long another extension might last or why the group was thinking of extending a freeze that U.S. commanders say has helped ease overall levels of violence in Iraq. Sadr, who led uprisings against U.S. troops in 2004 and whose militia were later described by U.S. commanders as their greatest threat, surprised both...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Al-Qaeda Torture Center Discovered

American soldiers found another example of the bloodthirsty depravity of al-Qaeda in Iraq two weeks ago but have just now revealed its extent. In an operation to clear AQI from Muqdadiyah, US forces found a mass grave nearby a torture facility that nearby Iraqis said belonged to the terrorists. They also found some weapons left behind in AQI's haste to flee: The grisly discoveries of the mass graves and torture center near Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, came during a Dec. 8-11 operation. The torture center, which the U.S. military said it suspected was run by al-Qaida in Iraq, was found based on tips from Iraqis in the area, where the al-Qaida insurgents are very active. Graves containing 26 bodies were found nearby. "We discovered several (weapons) caches, a torture facility that had chains, a bed - an iron bed that was still connected to a battery -...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Rudy Slips In Second National Poll

Rudy Giuliani has to take a little time off the campaign trail due to "flu-like symptoms," but they could be caused by a significant drop in his poll standing. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll confirms what Rasmussen reported earlier this week -- that Giuliani has lost his national lead in the Republican presidential primaries. The momentum shift casts grave doubts on Giuliani's big-state strategy and further confirms the unsettled nature of the GOP base: Two weeks before the Iowa caucus, the race for president, while tightening among Democrats, is wide open on the Republican side, highlighting the unusual fluidity of the first campaign for the White House in over a half-century that doesn't include an incumbent president or vice president. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that Rudy Giuliani has lost his national lead in the Republican field after a flurry of negative publicity about his personal...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Clintons And Their Donors

The Clintons have long kept hidden the identities of the donors to their foundation, and now we know why. The New York Times finally got a look at the books, and they discovered millions of dollars coming from people with a lot to lose during the Clinton administration. Shockingly, the pace of donations has accelerated as Hillary comes closer to winning the Democratic presidential nomination. At Heading Right, I take a look at some of the connections: * The beer company that needed to protect its advertising * The emirs whose bid for management for American ports created a firestorm * The Hillraiser who managed to avoid perjury charges * The CEO whose illegal tech transfers to China got ignored until the Bush administration If this sounds familiar, just wait until the Clintons return to the White House. UPDATE: I've also cross-posted this at Poligazette, Michael van der Galien's new...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Al-Qaeda Philosopher: Zawahiri Is A Snitch

The man who gave al-Qaeda its philosophical justifications for murderous jihad has repented, and wants Muslims to stop the jihad. Eli Lake at The Sun reports on the story of Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, the man who literally wrote the book on radical Islamist terrorism, and who now serves a life sentence in Egypt for his crimes. Sharif has decided that the 9/11 attacks have been a "catastrophe" for Muslims, and that the war against America has created a huge problem for Islam: One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims." In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Paul To Keep Supremacist Donation

Usually when a candidate receives a campaign donation from a disreputable donor, the money either gets returned or donated to a charity. Ron Paul wants to be a maverick, however, so he will keep the $500 from Stormfront founder Don Black. Paul claims his own campaign as a charity, in a sense: Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received a $500 campaign donation from a white supremacist, and the Texas congressman doesn't plan to return it, an aide said Wednesday. Don Black, of West Palm Beach, recently made the donation, according to campaign filings. He runs a Web site called Stormfront with the motto, "White Pride World Wide." The site welcomes postings to the "Stormfront White Nationalist Community." "Dr. Paul stands for freedom, peace, prosperity and inalienable rights. If someone with small ideologies happens to contribute money to Ron, thinking he can influence Ron in any way, he's wasted his...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Hot Seat Question For Today

As I announced yesterday, I've partnered with AOL for their new Hot Seat project. Bloggers and pundits pose poll questions, and AOL puts them on their home site and all news pages. I decided to offer a provocative question based on yesterday's post on the Ron Paul decision to keep a $500 donation from Stormfront founder and white supremacist Don Black. CapQ readers can participate in the poll here: embedSWF(9, 0, 0, "widget", "recent", 128865); This content requires the most recent version of the Adobe Flash Player. Get this version below: Get Flash Once you vote, you can see the state-by-state results as well as the overall result right from this widget. Give it whirl, and see how your answer matches up with others. UPDATE: We're still tweaking scripts. Try this one if Internet Explorer won't display the first. I'm bumping this back up to the top. embedSWF(9, 0, 0,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

More Independence At Justice

Michael Mukasey promised Congress during his confirmation hearings that he would operate the Department of Justice in a more independent manner than his predecessor. Yesterday, he took a big step in that direction with an order limiting contacts between Justice and the White House. Communications on pending criminal and civil cases will only get conducted through a limited number of channels (via Memeorandum): Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey issued new restrictions yesterday on contacts between Justice Department and White House officials regarding ongoing criminal or civil investigations, implementing his first major policy revision since taking office on Nov. 9. Mukasey had promised to institute new guidelines in the wake of the U.S. attorney firings scandal, in which lawmakers and some prosecutors alleged that White House political aides and other officials were inappropriately informed about details of criminal or civil probes. The new guidelines would restrict such communication but would still...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Tastes Great, But Less Filling

The Democrats have ended their first year controlling Congress since 1994, and they now return home with much less self-congratulation than when they arrived triumphantly in January. The taste of success turned bitter when their leadership found they could not get their agenda past a suprisingly resilient opposition, and discovered the hard way that presidents are never irrelevant. Still, they have not learned that they created most of the problems themselves: Congressional Democrats ended their first year in control of Congress in more than a decade Wednesday, approving a $555-billion government spending measure that gave President Bush $70 billion for an Iraq war they had promised to end. And underscoring the frustrations that have beset the new majority much of the year, Democratic leaders left the Capitol complaining that much of their agenda had been thwarted by congressional Republicans who repeatedly stopped their most cherished initiatives. "We could have accomplished...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Hillary We All Know

Hillary Clinton just launched her new site The Hillary I Know, designed to humanize her to draw down her high negatives, amid much fanfare. On the same servers, ABC News discovered a few other websites that Hillary plans to launch. She has set up domains for websites designed to attack Barack Obama and to claim that they attacked her first: ABC News has learned that the campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has registered the names of two websites with the express goal of attacking her chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, the first time this election cycle a presidential campaign has launched a website with the express purpose of criticizing a rival. "Votingpresent.com" and "Votingpresent.org" are domains hosted by the same IP address as official Clinton websites, such as TheHillaryIKnow.com website, which was launched with much fanfare this week. The Clinton campaign intends to use these new websites to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Oklahoma Cancels Christmas (Update: No They Didn't)

UPDATE: I'm putting this at the top because early callers to the AG's office claims this isn't true, and they are wishing people a Merry Christmas when greeting callers. So I called there myself, and spoke with Emily Lang, spokesperson for the AG. Ms Lang confirms that they are greeting callers with "Merry Christmas" as a means of refuting this story. AG Edmundson did not issue this order, she insists; they are checking with assistant AGs to see if the advisory ever existed at all. At any rate, the AG does not believe state workers should refrain from Christmas greetings. Ms. Lang wants people to know that they have a Christmas tree in the office, and hopes everyone has a Merry Christmas. And yes, I consider this sloppy work on my part. My apologies to readers and the Oklahoma AG's office. Original post follows .... UPDATE II: The sad denizens...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Tony Blankley, Rep. Steven Pearce

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Tony Blankley, the Washington Times editor in chief, joins me today to talk about the potential fallout from the close Republican primary contest. Rep. Steven Pearce will appear in the second half to discuss a wide range of issues, including energy policy. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Tancredo Endorses Romney

As widely expected, Tom Tancredo dropped out of the presidential race this afternoon. He had generated almost no significant national support despite being associated with the favored position on one of the biggest issues for Republicans, immigration. However, he surprised everyone with his valedictory endorsement of Mitt Romney: Rep. Tom Tancredo announced Thursday that he is dropping out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination. Tancredo, a five-term congressman from Colorado, said he would endorse rival Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination. Some may dismiss the endorsement as an afterthought. Given his very poor showing in the polls, one could figure that Tancredo will shift very few voters to Romney. If Tancredo's influence only extended to his primary constituency, they would be correct. However, Tancredo's influence on immigration extends far beyond the 1% he attracted as a presidential candidate. Many people who consider him an authority on immigration didn't...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

MinnMon-- A Soros Joint

Over the last few months, we've watched the growth of leftward media outlets like the Minnesota Monitor spring up, not just here in Minnesota but nationwide. Many suspected that its parent, Center for Independent Media, operated as a firewall of sorts for George Soros. When some pundits have speculated on that being the source of the funding, accusations of paranoia usually follow. It's somewhat surprising, then, to see both an admission of the Soros financing and an implied accusation of paranoia come from MinnMon contributor, Eric Black: I’ve always meant to write piece titled “Who Pays Me?” Never got around to it. But if I had, I would have said that I was working under a contract with the Center for Independent Media (CIM), a Wasington-based non-profit, which is the parent organization of the Monitor and three other similar state-based sites. And I would have said that the silly attack...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Cheney The Time-Traveler, And Thoughts On The Poll

Tom Maguire has a great takedown at Just One Minute. It seems that Dick Cheney not only is all-powerful in linear time, but also has traveled back in time to make America a land that potential immigrants fear. Be sure to read the entire post. On another topic, the AOL poll seems to have worked pretty well today. Despite a script problem that we quickly overcame, the poll has generated 39,000 votes already today. Comments, as you may imagine for a Ron Paul post, have been overwhelmingly negative, including one ambiguous threat that I'm reviewing at the moment. However, the poll itself shows that only 29% of respondents think that Paul should have kept the donation. Only five states show a plurality of votes for that option, and nowhere does it get above 40%. Only two states favor sending the money back, again none over 39%. The rest of the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 21, 2007

Was Libya Framed For Pan Am 103?

Nineteen years ago, a Pan Am flight took off from London to bring 259 people to New York, 179 of them Americans. It never made it past Scotland, where the plane exploded, killing all aboard. A trial in Scotland placed blame on Libya, and found a man guilty, despite mounting evidence that the trial had at least gotten the conspiracy wrong -- and did so under pressure from the American government. Jeff Stein at CQ Politics lays out the fascinating story: Back in 1988, Iran was immediately suspected of authoring the mass murder, in retaliation for the accidental downing of one of its own airliners by a U.S. Navy warship in the Persian Gulf a few months earlier. U.S. intelligence agencies, in overdrive to find the culprits, quickly compiled evidence that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, or PFLP-GC, had carried out the plot on behalf of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

McCain Goes On Offense On Rumors

Saying that he learned a lesson from 2000, John McCain eschewed the quiet approach yesterday and blasted rumors that he did favors for a Washington lobbyist. Matt Drudge posted that the New York Times had a story that would show McCain -- a staunch activist for reducing lobbyist influence -- had his own scandal brewing. Both of the principals in the story have hired lawyers, and the Times has clammed up: Sen. John McCain said yesterday that he has "never done any favors for anybody -- lobbyist or special interest group," as his presidential campaign issued a statement denouncing allegations of legislative favoritism as "gutter politics." The Arizona Republican has hired a prominent Washington criminal attorney, Robert Bennett, to deal with the matter. "What is being done to John McCain is an outrage," Bennett said in an interview. Bennett said he sent prepared answers yesterday to written questions submitted by...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Suicide Attack Kills 50 In Pakistan

Prayers turned into carnage in Sherpao, as a suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 50 people at the home of a former Interior Minister during a celebration of Eid. Suspicion immediately fell on Taliban and al-Qaeda elements fighting against the Musharraf government. The minister had been targeted by a suicide bomber eight months earlier, and has now escaped twice with his life: A suicide attacker detonated a bomb packed with ball bearings and nails amid hundreds of holiday worshippers Friday at the residential compound of Pakistan's former interior minister, killing at least 50 people, authorities said. It was the second suicide attack in eight months apparently targeting Aftab Khan Sherpao, who escaped injury. One of his sons was wounded. Suspicion will likely focus on the pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants active in the northwestern region of the country where the attack occurred. The attack also deepened the sense of uncertainty...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Congressional Dems Want Surrender On Surrender

Congressional Democrats have finally tired of fighting for surrender and will pressure Nancy Pelosi to end the battles over Iraq war funding. The Politico reports that Pelosi and Harry Reid haven't gotten the message yet, even with the fatigue clearly showing in their latest efforts to block war funding without strings attached: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, despite their pledges to continue pushing to end the war in Iraq, face growing pressure from their rank-and-file Democrats to focus more attention on domestic, “pocketbook” issues in the upcoming election year. Junior Democrats describe an “Iraq fatigue” setting in among some members after dozens of successful withdrawal votes failed to drive a wedge between Republicans and President Bush on the war strategy. The restless Democrats acknowledge the war issue remains critically important for the country, but they would like to see their leaders tone down the rhetoric...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Don't Forget The Bookshelf For The Last-Minute Gifts!

If you're looking for some last-minute gifts -- and who isn't? -- you still have time to order them through the Captain's Quarters Bookshelf and Amazon widget. Orders placed by 4 pm ET tomorrow will still get delivered in time for Christmas, in most cases (check the stock status before you order, of course). Shoppers can also buy Amazon gift certificates through the Bookshelf's Amazon widget. All sales through Captain's Quarters results in a small percentage paid to me by Amazon. It helps defray some of the tech costs of the blog, as well as giving me a handy method to purchase gifts for others. All of the books promoted on this blog use links that sell through my account. Thanks for your support, and I appreciate all of those who have put cash in my tip jar for a more direct gift this Christmas season. (thanks to Instapundit for...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Flibbertigibbet, A Will O' The Wisp, A Clown

How do you solve a problem like Bill Clinton? Eugene Robinson wonders whether it wouldn't be easier to keep a wave upon the sand than to try to shoehorn him into a ceremonial post as First Spouse. Bill already acts as though the campaign exists to provide him a revival of the production most Americans thought had closed for good in January 2001: Sexism might have something to do with the fact that Hillary Clinton has to answer questions about her husband that the other candidates never get asked about their wives. But Bill Clinton has always had a way of making himself the story, and he's at it again. When the Clintons made a campaign stop at an Iowa grocery store Tuesday, Hillary's face said it all. She realized that Bill had departed from the script and wandered off to another part of the store, and cameras caught her...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Buried, Unquotable Exoneration

The New York Times exonerates Rudy Giuliani from charges that he moved travel expenses around through subsidiary agencies in order to hide his affair with his now-wife, Judith. People looking for that exoneration on their feedreaders will find themselves frustrated. Not only did the Times bury the story on one of its blogs, it put it in a graphic format that doesn't allow for copy-and-paste. In fact, it isn't even shown as an entry on the blog itself: All eight of Mr. Giuliani's trips to the Hamptons in 1999 and 2000, including the period when his relationship was a secret, were charged to his own mayoral expense account, according to the records. In fact, the amount of money transferred through those agencies represent an insignificant percentage of the total cost of those travel expenses. Furthermore, the Times found that Giuliani had started spreading the costs of travel through subsidiary agencies...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Hillary: Have A Wonky Christmas, On You

One curious aspect to Hillary Clinton's new Christmas ad is that she didn't use viral technology at her website to spread it through the blogosphere. It only takes 30 seconds to understand why. Instead of exuding warmth or humor, it's a Very Wonkish Christmas, as Hillary inadvertently shows why statists haven't a clue about either Christmas or public policy. It's up at YouTube, however, and I'll post it here: First, let's talk about the tone-deafness of the ad in terms of the holiday. John Edwards had at least some theological underpinning for using the holiday to remind us of those without at Christmas. It may not make for pleasant viewing, but it follows in the tradition of mercy, charity, and outreach, as did BandAid's "Do They Know It's Christmastime At All?" This, however, just manipulates Christmas into a series of visual billboards for policy slogans, such as "Universal Health Care",...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Bringing A Water Pistol To A Firefight

The title has the most apt analogy, because while going after Rush Limbaugh makes sense for the Democratic presidential candidates, "bringing a knife to a gunfight" doesn't begin to describe the foolishness of a Republican candidate trying the same strategy. Rush, who has tried to remain studiously non-committal in the primaries, let loose a barrage of criticism of Mike Huckabee after an unnamed source harshly criticized the talk-show giant (via Hot Air): RUSH: Yeah, that’s why I haven’t endorsed anybody. I’m waiting. I don’t know how else I can do it. I realize that there are a lot of you out there: You got a candidate, and you think that if I got behind your candidate it would put ‘em over the top, and you might be right. But, at this point, it’s just an age-old belief that I have, and I remain true to my beliefs and principles. Now,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: The Week In Review!

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson of the Hugh Hewitt Show returns to review the week in politics. We'll have plenty to hash out, like the potential for President Bush to strike a blow for fiscal discipline and cancel the Earmark Christmas, the Mr Toad's Wild Ride Republican primary, the exposure of CIM and MinnMon as a George Soros joint, the AOL poll on Ron Paul and the insanity of the commenters responding to it, and much, much more! Before that, I'll call into Mid Stream Radio with Jazz and Ron at around 12:30 pm CT. I want to talk a little with Jazz about his post on the apparent rebellion of the Lakota in the upper Midwest and why they have a legitimate beef that looks to end...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Interview With Russell Means On A Bonus Heading Right Radio

Tonight at 6 pm CT, we will have a special Heading Right Radio show, airing an interview I just completed with Russell Means, Native American activist and a leader in the Lakota Nation. Means announced yesterday that the Lakota Nation would unilaterally withdraw from all treaties with the United States and consider itself sovereign and free of US jurisdiction. Means explains what he intends with this initiative and how he intends to succeed in this effort. Jazz Shaw at Middle Earth Journal and BTR's Mid Stream Radio co-hosts and discusses the issues after the interview. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Will Bush Cancel Congress' Christmas? (Bumped)

The omnibus spending bill made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue this week, and it could have slid all the way down on the grease it contains from over 9,000 earmarks. In remarks yesterday, George Bush warned that his budget director will look at ways to eliminate wasteful spending, and thanks to Congressional dishonesty, he may have a way to do it: The White House threatened yesterday to cancel thousands of pet projects that Congress inserted into a massive spending bill before leaving town this week, a move that could provoke a fierce battle with lawmakers in both parties who jealously guard their ability to steer money to favored purposes. At an end-of-the-year news conference, President Bush chastised Democratic leaders for failing to live up to their campaign promise to curb so-called earmarks and said he has ordered his budget director "to review options for dealing with the wasteful spending in...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 22, 2007

Australia Remains Steady On Afghanistan

When Kevin Rudd replaced John Howard as Australia's Prime Minister, Americans wondered whether the Labour PM would prove as strong as his predecessor on the war against radical jihad. In Afghanistan, Rudd put those questions to rest as he committed Australia to success as part of the NATO coalition: Australian PM Kevin Rudd has told Afghan President Hamid Karzai during a visit to Kabul he is committed to the "long haul" in Afghanistan. Mr Rudd also visited some of the 1,000 Australian troops in Uruzgan province. Mr Rudd, who has said he will pull out combat troops from Iraq, stressed he was committed to reconstruction and stability in Afghanistan. The decision to withdraw Australia's remaining 550 combat troops from Iraq surprises no one. Rudd and Labour had campaigned on a promise to do just that. Rudd, on a trip to Iraq this week, pledged to leave personnel in place to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Why Inexperience Matters

The AP takes a look at the political development of Barack Obama, and it's hard not to look at it as an apprenticeship. His position changes don't count as flip-flops in the same sense that a teenager's infatuation with radical politics changes with some maturity. In this case, the significant changes in such a short period of time suggests that Obama hasn't reached his political maturity: If he wanted, the Barack Obama of today could have a pretty good debate with the Barack Obama of yesterday. They could argue about whether the death penalty is ever appropriate. Whether it makes sense to ban handguns. They might explore their differences on the Patriot Act or parental notification of abortion. And they could debate whether Obama has flip-flopped, changed some of his views as he learned more over the years or is simply answering questions with more detail and nuance now that...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

What Choice Was There?

The Washington Post reports this morning that Hillary Clinton has reached the earth-shaking conclusion that she has to embrace her husband in her campaign to win the presidency in 2008. Apparently, this strategy created controversy in her campaign despite the rather obvious connection voters would make between the two of them: After months of discussion within her campaign over how heavily she should draw on her husband's legacy, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is closing out her Iowa and New Hampshire campaigns in a tight embrace of Bill Clinton's record, helping fuel a debate about the 1990s with Sen. Barack Obama that she thinks she can win. As part of the Clinton strategy, the former president is playing an increasingly prominent public role as an advocate for his wife. He appears to have overcome concerns within the campaign over how closely she should associate her candidacy with his time in office...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Where's The McCain Beef?

We're here at the Media Watch, Day 2 of The New York Times Held Hostage. Despite the Drudge Report announcement earlier this week that the Gray Lady would release an investigative report that Senator John McCain had traded favors for lobbyist cash, the report still has not hit their website. Managing editor Bill Keller still has issued no comment on the crisis. What could be the problem? Could this be a form of Stockholm Syndrome? Could the door to the bunker be jammed? Could it be that the leak left the Times without a fig leaf on its efforts to kneecap McCain in New Hampshire? Mmmmm ..... could be! We'll continue to monitor this situation. Meanwhile, back to your irregularly scheduled primaries....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

NARN, The Silent Afternoon 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, however, the entire NARN is taking the day off. We'll be back next week with our year in review, but today you can listen to the Best of the NARN while most of us finish our Christmas shopping!...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Eggnog Factor

Often, I will describe the success or failure of a candidate in terms of the "beer factor" -- whether voters would want to have a beer and a conversation with a contender or not. This measure transcends partisanship. I'd rather have a beer and a chat with Bill Clinton than with a few Republican politicians, not because I support Bill's politics, but because I think he'd make for fascinating conversation. With the current crop of contenders attempting to get warm and gooey for the holidays, I figure we can test to see how much success they've had. To recognize the festive spirit of Christmas, I've changed eggnog for beer. You can vote for multiple choices in this poll, and we'll see which candidate comes up with highest Eggnog Factor. ADDENDUM: Post a comment about your selection, and what topics you'd cover in the conversation! UPDATE: I found out that Huckabee...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Christmas Ad That Topped Them All

CapQ readers want to have an eggnog with him, and now we know why. Fred Thompson just released the best Christmas ad in this cycle, one in which no one will find floating crosses, holiday fruitcake, downer lighting, and especially tone-deaf "gifts" of expanded entitlements under the Christmas tree. Instead, Thompson reminds us that we have other Americans than Presidential candidates to keep in our thoughts on this holiday: Thompson knows how to hit the right buttons, and do it with class. Of course, I don't want to brag, but he may have looked at my Christmas greeting from last year: I'll have a new greeting for Christmas morning, but Fred reminded me that most of this is pretty evergreen....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Can't Anyone Play This Here Game?

If any presidential primary ever exemplified None Of The Above, it's the one inflicted on us now. According to Rasmussen, everyone gets a negative favorability rating in this race -- and I mean everyone (via Memeorandum): Among the leading Presidential candidates, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have the highest level of core opposition among voters. Forty-seven percent (47%) say they will vote against each of these candidates no matter who else is on the ballot. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Arizona Senator John McCain. For the second straight month, McCain finds himself with the smallest level of core opposition--just 33% say they will definitely vote against him. That figure is unchanged from a month ago, down from 39% a two months ago and a peak of 42% in June. These results are just one part of the reason that it is...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 23, 2007

You Mean Shredding Muslims At Eid Didn't Win Hearts?

Pakistan's mainstream opposition parties have tremendous popular support but claim persecution will prevent them from winning seats in next month's legislative elections. Islamist parties will find their failure comes from voter disgust, especially in the North West Frontier Province. The Washington Post reports that five years after winning control of the provincial government, the Islamists have proven completely inept at running anything but a suicidal jihad: Fed up both with Pakistan's military-led government and with the mainstream, secular opposition, Hussein decided that religious leaders should be given a chance to improve living conditions in this sprawling frontier city. But five years after support from people like Hussein propelled the Islamic parties to power in the provincial government -- and to their strongest-ever showing nationally -- the 36-year-old shopkeeper is rethinking his choice. "You can see the sanitation system here," Hussein said, pointing with disgust to a ditch in front of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Bias In What Gets Left Out

Pew Research Center issued a stinging indictment on Wednesday regarding the press coverage of Iraq this year, one that shows a subtle but clear editorial bias. The news media gave plenty of attention to the war in Iraq when they could show it as a failing enterprise, with half of all their coverage focusing on anecdotal stories of violence. When the success of General David Petraeus made even that coverage difficult, media outlets simply stopped reporting on Iraq (via Wake Up America): Through the first 10 months of the year, the picture of Iraq that Americans received from the news media was, in considerable measure, a grim one. Roughly half of the reporting has consisted of accounts of daily violence. And stories that explicitly assessed the direction of the war have tended toward pessimism, according to a new study of press coverage of events on the ground in Iraq from...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

McCain And Obama The Mo Men?

The Boston Globe's new poll puts both New Hampshire primaries in dead heats with sixteen days to go. As other polls have shown, Barack Obama has succeeded in overtaking Hillary Clinton and now has a slight two-point lead. For the Republicans, John McCain has made a run at Romney and now only trails by less than the margin of error (via Memeorandum): Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose bid for the Republican presidential nomination was all but dead this summer, has made a dramatic recovery in the Granite State 2 1/2 weeks before the 2008 vote, pulling within 3 percentage points of front-runner Mitt Romney, a new Boston Globe poll indicates. McCain, the darling of New Hampshire voters in the 2000 primary, has the support of 25 percent of likely Republican voters, compared with 28 percent for Romney. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani has slid into third place, with...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

When Santas Go Bad

I decided to take most of the day off today and will work a limited schedule tomorrow, but this little news item is just too weird to pass up. Santa Claus will have to add himself to the list of bad boys in New Zealand as fifty Santas went on a drunken rampage at a movie theater, frightening the filmwatchers: A gang of about 50 apparently drunken Santas invaded a New Zealand cinema complex at the weekend -- frightening customers, damaging property and swearing, the cinema's manager said Monday. Thought by police to be university students dressed in Santa suits, the group did a lightning 20-second raid on Hoyts Cinema complex in the South Island city of Christchurch on Saturday, manager Derek Rive said. You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry .... you'd better not pout, or I'll blacken your eye ... Kiwi Clauses will sack the town!...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Self-Deportation A Reality

While Congress tried to offer more and more legislation for immigration reform, a number of people wondered why the government didn't try harder to enforce the laws already on the books. Many suggested that employer enforcement would remove the incentives for illegal immigration and illegals would just return home. Reuters now reports that those predictions have proven accurate already (via Power Line): The couple are among a growing number of illegal immigrants across the United States who are starting to pack their bags and move on as a crackdown on undocumented immigrants widens and the U.S. economy slows, turning a traditional Christmas trek home into a one-way trip. ... The toughening environment has been coupled with a turndown in the U.S. economy, which has tipped the balance toward self deportation for many illegal immigrants left struggling to find work. Remember the concern over anchor babies, those children born in the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 24, 2007

One Reason To Like Barack

It wouldn't convince me to vote for Barack Obama, but his rise in American politics has had at least one salutary effect. It has marginalized Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, two long-time race-baiters and both former Presidential candidates in their own right. Allison Samuels at Newsweek notes the decline of their influence in an anecdote from Los Angeles: Jesse Jackson can still get a crowd going—when he can find one. He appeared at a Los Angeles restaurant this fall, primed to discuss school dropout rates and home foreclosures. But only eight people showed up, mostly reporters. It's no longer Reverend Jackson's day in the sun, or any other black leader's whose name isn't Barack Obama. So where does that leave the leaders to whom black America has long turned in times of crisis—Jackson, and the Revs. Andrew Young and Al Sharpton? At times they can seem like jealous, cranky old...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Rodriguez Wants Immunity

Jose Rodriguez, the Director of Operations for the CIA who apparently ordered the destruction of videotaped interrogations of high-value al-Qaeda detainees, wants immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. The demand deepens the fog around the decision to destroy the tapes at the same time that Congress took an interest in waterboarding and indicates that the buck did not stop at his desk. The Times of London reports that Rodriguez had contacted White House staff on the issue before ordering the destruction, which will certainly tempt Congress to offer the deal (via Memeorandum): THE CIA chief who ordered the destruction of secret videotapes recording the harsh interrogation of two top Al-Qaeda suspects has indicated he may seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying before the House intelligence committee. Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Lost In Translation

Both American and Pakistani officials now admit that the massive aid given to Pakistan since 9/11 has mostly missed the mark. Significant portions of the five billion dollars have gone to efforts to bolster defenses against India and reportedly to keep Pervez Musharraf safely ensconced in power instead of front-line units in Waziristan and the North West Frontier Province. The Pakistanis complain that Washington has yet to deliver the promised technology that could help them fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda more effectively: After the United States has spent more than $5 billion in a largely failed effort to bolster the Pakistani military effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, some American officials now acknowledge that there were too few controls over the money. The strategy to improve the Pakistani military, they said, needs to be completely revamped. In interviews in Islamabad and Washington, Bush administration and military officials said they...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Iranian Score

Now that the Russians have begun to fuel the nuclear power station at Bushehr, the Iranians want to build more reactors. In fact, they will build nineteen more while the UN debates whether to increase sanctions on Teheran for their refusal to stop their uranium enrichment program: Iran will soon announce an international tender for building 19 nuclear power plants, an MP was quoted as saying, a week after Russia said it had begun fuel deliveries to the Islamic state's first such facility. ... Russia said on December 17 it had delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr power plant in southern Iran, a step Moscow and Washington said should convince Tehran to shut down its own disputed uranium enrichment activities. Iran, however, said it would not halt its efforts to enrich uranium, a process to make fuel for power plants that can also provide material for...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Iran Doesn't Have An Army?

Foreign policy is a critical part of selecting a president, but most often, the potential candidates have little practical experience in that arena. Bill Richardson has the most extensive practical experience by far, but has no chance of winning; the rest in both parties have to rely on policy presentation instead, backed by a show of in-depth study. In that sense, how badly should this statement disqualify a candidate on the eve of the primaries? That is like saying “Iran is about to invade Mars.” I mean, they have nothing. They don’t have an army or navy or air force. They don't? In fact, the Iranians have two of each, as the CIA notes in its Factbook. The Artesh represents the regulars, while the Revolutionary Guard has its own forces in each branch. They spend a significant portion of their GDP on maintaining their military, belying the thought that the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Unity March That Will Escape Media Notice

Given all the concern over the rift between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Iraq, would a show of unity be considered newsworthy? Would the American media report a march for peace along the border between sectarian neighborhoods in Baghdad if it attracted a thousand marchers? We should find out, as the Iraqis have provided the material if anyone wants to report on it (via SondraK and CapQ reader Stoo): Approximately 1,000 Iraqi citizens, of both Shia and Sunni religions, joined together on the sectarian fault line in Rawaniyah, the Karkh District of Baghdad, to march with one another in what they called a “Peace March”, Dec. 19. It was an Iraqi initiative to ease sectarian tensions, solely driven by Iraqi Neighborhood Council (NAC) and District Advisory Council (DAC) leaders and Sheiks from both religious sects in the area, said Capt. Marcus Melton, commander of Pale Horse Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Conference Call With Rep Michele Bachmann

Minnesota's Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has traveled to Iraq to spend Christmas with the troops. She held a press conference via telephone this morning. After some technical bumps, Bachmann spoke about her visit. In fact, I may have been the only blogger on the call -- lots of regular media, such as the Strib, KARE-TV, Minnesota Network News, MPR, and more. She began the day in Kuwait, and learned that the Kuwaitis have paid for the fuel used in the first three years of the war in Iraq. Bachmann flew into Ramadi on a troop transport so that she could see the city after its pacification. She took a tour with the new MRAP vehicles and observe the neighborhoods of the city, as well as talk with the American soldiers. Children played in the streets and new businesses have opened, including a new car dealership. It shows that the economic stability...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Bush Mulling Over The Earmark Question

George Bush will seriously consider the popular request of an executive order banning the funding of non-legislative earmarks by federal agencies, the Wall Street Journal notes in an editorial today. While some question whether the move will actually save any money, and even some Republicans question whether antagonizing Congress will be worth it, the Journal says that the White House can only benefit from such an action: Most are listed in accompanying Appropriations Committee reports that lack the force of law. The point of this Congressional ruse, in part, is to let Members "air-drop" earmarks at the last minute and thus escape scrutiny by other Members who might try to expose their "Bridges to Nowhere" on the House or Senate floor. Mr. Bush assailed this habit in this year's State of the Union address, and the Members cheered. So why not force Congress to live up to its applause? Some...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Merry Christmas To The Readers Of Captain's Quarters

I'll be off until Wednesday, December 26th, when CapQ and Heading Right Radio return to the normal schedule. In the meantime, keep safe, enjoy Christmas, and keep all the men and women who protect us in your thoughts and prayers....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 25, 2007

The Best Gift?

We've reached the end of a long Christmas day, one of the better that we've celebrated since moving to Minnesota. We have an honest-to-goodness white Christmas this year, thanks to an early winter and prodigious snowfall this December, the coldest and wettest December in at least ten years. The First Mate and I started celebrating last night, and we've continued to celebrate until now -- and we have just reached the point of exhaustion. Michelle Malkin asks her readers to identify the best gift they gave this year. I figured I'd share with you a few different award winners along those lines... The gift most likely to backfire on me was my son's didgeridoo. For some reason, he insisted that he wanted to learn the Australian instrument, and so we looked around for a reasonable, good-quality didge. Even our daughter-in-law seemed enthusiastic -- until he actually got it today and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 26, 2007

McCain's Turn To Surge?

We have seen each front-runner build momentum in the Republican primary, only to get their surge blunted in a hailstorm of criticism. John McCain may have his turn at this particular see-saw this week. Rasmussen now has him claiming at least an electability surge, as his numbers against Hillary Clinton improve to the best they have been all year: With the first primary contests less than two weeks away, Senator John McCain has gained a six-point lead over Senator Hillary Clinton in the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey. A month ago, McCain had a two-point edge over the former First Lady. However, before that, Clinton edged out McCain by at least a point or two in six consecutive surveys of the match-up .... The current survey finds that Clinton fares better in another match-up. She leads former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee 47% to 43%. Clinton has led Huckabee in six...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Iraqi Cabinet Pushing Towards Reconciliation

On Monday, Rep. Michele Bachmann told a press conference about an important pension bill passed by the Iraqi National Assembly. It got little press in the US, but it created economic stability for the Sunnis, who had lost their pensions after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Bachmann called it an important step towards reconciliation, as it requires the Sunnis to engage with the elected central government -- and they appeared eager to do so. Today, the Iraqi cabinet sent another significant bill to the National Assembly, and this should get more press: The Iraqi cabinet approved a draft law on Wednesday that will offer a general pardon to thousands of prisoners in U.S. military and Iraqi custody, a government spokesman said. "The cabinet has passed the general pardon law, which will define who is eligible to be freed from all prisons, both Iraqi and American," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Russian Conundrum

Russia has begun transferring nuclear fuel to Iran for the completion of its contract for the nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The delivery marks a victory for Iran, but also a potential trap. The Russians claimed today that its delivery of fuel renders a uranium enrichment program by Iran unnecessary -- as the UN begins considering another round of sanctions for the Iranian refusal to suspend enrichment: "We believe that Iran has no economic need to proceed with its program of uranium enrichment," Lavrov told the daily. "We are trying to persuade the Iranians that freezing the program is to their advantage as it would immediately lead to talks with all countries of the "six," including the United States." Such talks, he said, would aim to end any suspicion that Iran had any secret aim to produce nuclear weapons. "Iran's agreement to this proposal is in everyone's interest." Iran was...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Late John Edwards

How can one make a case for running a government effectively when the candidate can't even manage his own schedule? John Edwards has people scratching their heads in Iowa and everywhere else -- because that's all they can do when his campaign events are supposed to start. Running late occasionally on the campaign trail happens, and is more or less expected. When someone does it all the time, it comes across as both undisciplined and rude. At Heading Right, I note that Edwards already has an image of self-absorption without adding this kind of cluelessness to the mix. (via Memeorandum)...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Experience By Osmosis

Hillary Clinton claims executive experience through her work as First Lady in her husband's administration. She tells people about her involvement in foreign relations, especially about her work in the Balkans and her efforts to get Bill Clinton to engage in the fight against Slobodan Milosevic and end the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia. The New York Times looks at her case and concludes that she had little to do with anything in the Clinton administration -- and any lessons she learned came through "osmosis": As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton jaw-boned the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan to leave his car and shake hands with people. She argued with the Czech prime minister about democracy. She cajoled Roman Catholic and Protestant women to talk to one another in Northern Ireland. She traveled to 79 countries in total, little of it leisure; one meeting with mutilated Rwandan refugees so unsettled her that...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Give Up Energy Or The Fat Man Gets It

The San Francisco Chronicle must have had a tough time getting letters to publish for its Christmas edition. That's the only explanation for including this very strange effort to plug global warming as a threat to Christmas (via Fausta and Michelle): Santa is deeply concerned with the rapid shrinking of the North Pole. For generations, he has depended on swift, reliable and environmentally friendly reindeer power. If we do not change our lifestyle soon and seek alternative energy sources, future generations will not experience the thrill of seeing Santa flying over the rooftops on Christmas Eve, and the only happy soul will be the Grinch, who wants to see a Christmas meltdown. What is the target audience for this rather strange argument? Does the Chronicle want kids to read on Christmas morning that the lights on their tree will kill Santa, or that the economy that produces all of the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Talking With The Taliban?

Just two weeks after Gordon Brown promised that his government would not negotiate with the Taliban, their intelligence services started talks about legitimizing them as a militia in Afghanistan. The Telegraph reports that MI-6 and SIS opened negotiations with Taliban envoys despite Brown's denial. The Afghan government has also expelled two diplomats for meeting with the Taliban: Agents from MI6 entered secret talks with Taliban leaders despite Gordon Brown's pledge that Britain would not negotiate with terrorists, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Officers from the Secret Intelligence Service staged discussions, known as "jirgas", with senior insurgents on several occasions over the summer. An intelligence source said: "The SIS officers were understood to have sought peace directly with the Taliban with them coming across as some sort of armed militia. The British would also provide 'mentoring' for the Taliban." ... The delicate balance in Afghanistan was underlined as it emerged that...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The H L Mencken Page, Talent-Free

The LA Times must have have scheduled December 26th as Old Curmudgeon Day. Opinion sections usually cover issues of significant political or cultural weight, but the Times' offerings today do little but gripe about fellow Angelenos. Two essays even use the word "hipsters", which is two references too many. First, we have a complaint that LA has gone to the dogs from Will Beall: Some hipster's English Mastiff, big enough to bring down a cape buffalo, lies athwart the front entrance to Starbucks while his "daddy" is inside hunched over an iBook. So my 4-year-old son and I head for the side door. A spastic Weimaraner tied to a bistro set lunges at us, gets tangled up in the iron furniture and yowls like he's caught in a bear trap. My kid covers his ears. The Weimaraner's "mommy" charges out with her yoga mat slung like a quiver, nonfat soy...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Tech Notes

A few technical notes from behind the scenes at CapQ ... Yesterday, I gave the First Mate an unusual gift: a digital voice recorder. I have used the Sony ICD-P520 for recording interviews both in person and over the telephone, and it has proven handy and reliable. It has 256 MB of flash memory, and most importantly, allows for easy transfer to my computer. It also allows me to load MP3 files onto the device, which it converts to its native (and better compressed) format. So why does this make a great gift for the FM? Being blind, she has to rely on recorded books for her reading. Normally this means tapes, but publishers have begun switching to CDs. CD players create headaches for blind users, as they rely on electronic displays and small buttons for operation. Also, unlike tapes, when the device gets turned off, the reader loses her...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Union Leader Channels The Monitor

Mitt Romney has taken some body shots in New Hampshire as the primary gets within a fortnight. First the Concord Monitor, not exactly a conservative bastion, issued an anti-endorsement calling on Granite State voters to keep Romney from winning the nomination. While that hardly carries much weight with Republican voters, the center-right Union Leader has also added to its endorsement of John McCain by explaining why Mitt doesn't fit: Granite Staters want a candidate who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. John McCain has done that day in and day out, never wavering, never faltering, never pandering. Mitt Romney has not. He has spoken his lines well, but the people can sense that the words are memorized, not heartfelt. Last week Romney was reduced to debating what the meaning of "saw" is. It was only the latest in a string of demonstrably false claims --...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Jim Geraghty And The State Of The Race

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Jim Geraghty of NRO's Campaign Spot joins me for a post-Christmas look at the state of the primaries. Who's up? Who's down? Who's got the Big Mo? We'll look at all of this and read tea leaves to see whether anyone can generate momentum for the big push in January! Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Stop A Fire, Go To Jail

The city of La Habra Heights sits on the eastern end of Los Angeles County, among foothills filled with brush and trees. It has some spectacular views but also has the potential for some spectacular fires. The city does not have a full-time fire department but relies on a two-truck volunteer force, located at one end of the city. When George Edwardz decided to buy a pumper truck to augment the response capabilities of La Habra Heights, he thought that the city would appreciate the help. Instead, they threatened him with prosecution: Edwardz, 39, an executive vice president of a communications firm that does satellite work for TV broadcasters, has lived in La Habra Heights for five years. He bought his 1980 four-wheel-drive pumper truck for $7,200 from a department in Montour Falls, N.Y., in early 2006 after becoming alarmed at the slow response to his neighborhood. Sometimes, he said,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

On My Desk: To Set The Record Straight

The Swift Boat controversy continues to resonate in American politics. The term "swift-boated" intends to convey an unfair or untruthful massive attack on a political candidate, riding along with the notion that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their leader John O'Neill had been substantially rebutted. However, despite the occasional claim by John Kerry that their myriad claims had been proven false, the vast majority of their allegations went unanswered. Scott Swett and Tim Ziegler have written a new book to set the record straight, entitled -- of course -- To Set The Record Straight. Scott will appear on tomorrow's Heading Right Radio show to discuss the book, which is exclusively available through their website. I'm quoted occasionally in the book, and we'll discuss the blogospheric response as well. King Banaian joins me as co-host....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Foregone Conclusion Will Get Broadcast Live

The NFL put an end to one of the dumbest controversies in politics this season, and an end to grandstanding by a Congress that has accomplished next to none of its own business. The league has decided to have CBS and NBC join the NFL Network in televising the final regular-season game of the New England Patriots: After weeks of insisting they wouldn’t cave in, NFL officials did just that Wednesday. Now all of America can see the Patriots’ shot at history. Saturday night’s game between New England and the New York Giants on the NFL Network, which is available in fewer than 40 percent of the nation’s homes with TVs, will be simulcast on CBS and NBC. The Patriots could become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season. Could? The Patriots have proven themselves as operating at another level, while the Giants have struggled to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 27, 2007

Blaming The Jews, Again

Why do people fall into anti-Semitism? It happens on the fringe end of both the Right and the Left. It almost seems as though people need to think that a vast conspiracy operates against them, personally and individually, in order to explain their own shortcomings -- and the Jews make a great scapegoat. This sign of a weak mind showed up in the blogosphere, and on Christmas Eve of all days, as My Left Wing blames the Jews: Several months ago, at the suggestion of MSOC, I returned to this site, resolved that I would never again descend to the moral cesspit occupied by the haters. I would willingly engage in civil and rational discourse with anyone of good will, but if they refused, I would ignore them. Unfortunately, the same persons whose emnity and hostility were so pervasive before immediately resumed their campaign to discredit me, not only rejecting...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Secret Fantasy Life Of Joe Biden

The Iowa caucuses can provide unpleasant surprises for candidates and their supporters, but even Iowans have a limit. With Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards splitting most of the likely caucus goes in the polling, the second tier has no chance of pulling off an upset. Don't tell that to Joe Biden, however, who apparently needs to maintain his interior fantasy of superiority: Joe Biden is talking. “Barack does a room, Hillary does a room, I do the same room and I win,” he says. “I have absolute confidence in that. The question is: Do I get in enough rooms?” Biden is sitting at a table in a Starbucks, a cup of coffee rapidly growing cold in front of him. We talk for thirty minutes and in that time I manage to fit in exactly two questions. I am not complaining. Biden is charged up and telling me that...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Bhutto Rally Hit By Suicide Bomber Again (Update: Bhutto Dead)

UPDATE III: The Washington Post reports that an assassin shot Bhutto before blowing himself up and killing more people: Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday at a political rally, two months after she returned from eight years of exile to attempt a political comeback, officials said. Bhutto was shot at close range as she was leaving the rally in this garrison city south of Islamabad, aides said. Immediately after the shooting, a suicide bomber detonated explosives near Bhutto's car, killing at least 15 other people. Bhutto was rushed to a hospital with extensive wounds to her torso, her supporters said. Shortly after she arrived at the hospital, an official came out of the building and told a crowd of supporters Bhutto was dead. Snipers also killed four people attending a rally for Nawaz Sharif in Rawalpindi. It looks as though the radical Islamists made their statement today....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Will Immigration Provide The Key?

Two candidates, two evolving approaches to immigration. Can either catch the imagination of Republican primary voters? Mike Huckabee and John McCain have tried retooling their message on one of the biggest issues for voters in this election, and their success depends on how well they can communicate the changes in their positions: While governor, Huckabee gained favor with Hispanic leaders by denouncing a high-profile federal immigration raid and suggesting some anti-illegal immigration measures were driven by racism. He advocated making children of illegal immigrants eligible for college scholarships. Huckabee's Republican presidential rivals have tried to make an issue of the scholarship plan, portraying him as soft on illegal immigration, an important issue for many GOP voters. Huckabee responded this month by unveiling a plan to seal the Mexican border, hire more agents to patrol it and make illegal immigrants go home before they could apply to return to this country....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

What Next For Pakistan?

With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the policy of the US towards Pakistan will have tremendous difficulties to overcome. The Bush administration hoped to have Bhutto and Musharraf enter into a political alliance that would accomplish two goals simultaneously: to promote democracy and marginalize the radical Islamist terrorists. While the initial response from the White House shows caution, the assassination deals a bitter blow to both: The Bush administration on Thursday condemned an attack on a political rally that aides to Benazir Bhutto say killed her. "We have seen the press reports. We're seeking confirmation, but we do not have any definitive word one way or the other about former Prime Minister Bhutto's condition," deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey said. To be sure, Bhutto provided her own contradictions. She represented democracy in Pakistan, but delivered corruption and no small level of incompetence. Her value to the US came from...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Fundless Fred?

The Fred Thompson campaign has stopped television ad buys in Iowa, a state where they absolutely have to generate momentum in order to continue the campaign. Jonathan Martin at The Politico reports that campaign funds have run short, and Fred now has to rely on personal campaigning alone: Fred has gone dark in Iowa. With not enough cash to buy ads, he's doing all the free media he can on his bus tour. But it's a remarkable indicator of just how topsy-turvy the GOP race has been that the man once viewed as the party's savior cannot even afford to buy TV time in the final days before Iowa. To some, he remains the party's savior. Bloggers especially have a fondness for Fred, and have planned a blogburst for today in order to assist in fundraising. Rick Moran has worked hard to organize the blogathon, and he explains why: [I]f...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The World Reacts

World leaders have reacted to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto with ringing defiance against terrorism in most cases. Russia, France, and the UK gave the most pointed responses, with Russia explicitly calling it a terrorist attack. India has so far given a strangely muted response, declaring only that instability in Pakistan is a "deep concern" to their nation. Iran called it a "criminal act", apparently avoiding the T-word that has multiple associations with their own regime. We'll start with President Bush, who just delivered his statement from Crawford, Texas: The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy. Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice. Mrs. Bhutto served her nation twice as Prime Minister and she knew that her return to Pakistan earlier this year put her life at risk. Yet she refused to allow assassins to dictate...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Holiday Is Over (Update With Candidate Reactions)

As our efforts in Iraq continue to show improved results, national security slowly slipped off the radar in the presidential primaries. Instead, health care and immigration have taken more of a leading role in both parties as we focused inwardly in the final quarter of 2007. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto changes that calculation, argues John Podhoretz, and demonstrates the folly of that thinking: The horrifying assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan this morning comes only one week before the Iowa caucuses and 12 days before New Hampshire. It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists. This is what the next president will be compelled by circumstance...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: Scott Swett, King Banaian

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Scott Swett joins us to talk about his new book, To Set The Record Straight. It reviews the Swift Boat Veterans controversy and argues that despite assertions from John Kerry and his supporters, none of the allegations made by his 250 colleagues have ever been substantially repudiated. King Banaian of SCSU Scholars joins me for the entire hour as co-host. We wanted to talk economics, but likely we will talk more about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in the second half, and take your calls. Also, for those interested in an intriguing podcast, Glenn Reynolds interviewed Jonah Goldberg about his new book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

BlogTalkRadio, Books, And Advertisers

Publisher's Weekly noticed this week that BlogTalkRadio likes books -- and authors. The story notes how easily BTR can integrate into a publisher's publicity strategy, and even mentions me as one of the hosts that regularly engages authors: [BTR CEO Alan] Levy was quick to note the importance of books on BTR, which offers a daily update of featured authors either hosting their own shows or being interviewed on the network. Authors on the site recently included rock drummer Martin Atkins discussing his new book, Tour Smart; conservative authors L. Brent Bozell and Tim Graham discussing Whitewash, their book on Hillary Clinton, on Ed Morrisey's BTR show; and New York Times columnist Frank Rich being interviewed on a teen BTR show about his book The Greatest Story Ever Sold. “BTR offers opportunities to promote authors,” Levy said. “Writers can do an online tour right from their own homes and publishers...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Rasmussen: Huckabee On Top, Romney 4th

Rasmussen has a new national poll out that shows the Republican primary remains volatile. Mike Huckabee has maintained a lead he has held for over two weeks of daily polling, while Rudy Giuliani has begun to move back into a virtual tie -- and John McCain has crept into third place: With just a week to go until the Iowa caucuses, the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll continues to show five Republican hopefuls in double digits nationally. In the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination, it’s Mike Huckabee at 20%, Rudy Giuliani 18%, John McCain 14%, Mitt Romney 13%, and Fred Thompson at 11% (see recent daily numbers). Ron Paul currently attracts 5% of Likely Republican Primary voters nationwide. An Inside Report by Robert Novak says that McCain is now “viewed by canny Republican professionals as the best bet to win the party's presidential nomination.” McCain has the highest...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Soft Sell

Everyone waited to see how Rudy Giuliani would fit in a reference to 9/11 in his television advertising. His opponents in the firefighter's union wanted to use it to beat him up, and the other Republicans likely would have followed suit -- but Rudy gave then a little sleight of hand. Instead of talking about what he did, Rudy talks about what he saw others do in his latest ad, "Freedom": The AP notes the head-fake: Now, with the New Hampshire primary less than two weeks away, Giuliani draws attention to that tragedy with a national ad meant to get widespread attention. The ad tells a narrative about unity against outside threats. Giuliani establishes the foundation by referring to Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation." When he speaks of 9/11, Giuliani describes what he saw, not what he did. The images illustrate Americans fighting challenges — victory in World War II,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Alert The Media

I'll be on the Hugh Hewitt show tonight at 7:30 pm CT to talk about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Hugh's going all three hours on this topic; be sure to tune in to catch all the latest information on the terrorist attack....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Richardson: We Must Force Musharraf Out Of Power (Update: Yes, Richardson Said 'Force')

At one point, I considered Bill Richardson the most prepared Democrat for the Presidency, based on his extensive experience in foreign relations, Congress, and the executive branch. That experience doesn't do much good without common sense, and Richardson keeps proving his lack of it. Today, in response to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, he made us all thankful that he doesn't already occupy the White House: Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called on President Bush to force Musharraf to step down. Until then, Richardson said the U.S. must suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. "A leader has died, but democracy must live. The United States government cannot stand by and allow Pakistan's return to democracy to be derailed or delayed by violence," Richardson said. The stupidity of this statement cascades through several levels. First and foremost, how would the US...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 28, 2007

A Heartwarming Display Of Christianity At Its Birthplace

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, tradition has it, is located on the spot where Jesus was born. The church itself honors the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, who called all humanity to love one another as they do themselves. What better place to have a recurring brawl between His followers? On Thursday, dozens of priests and cleaners were scrubbing the church ahead of the Armenian and Orthodox Christmas, celebrated in early January. Thousands of tourists visited the church this week for Christmas celebrations. But the clean-up turned ugly after some of the Orthodox faithful stepped inside the Armenian church's section, touching off a scuffle between about 50 Greek Orthodox and 30 Armenians. advertisement Palestinian police, armed with batons and shields, quickly formed a human cordon to separate the two sides so the cleaning could continue, then ordered an Associated Press photographer out of the church. It's not...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

IBD: Where There's A Will, There's An EO

Investors Business Daily comes to praise George Bush's will -- and demand its use on the earmarks in the omnibus appropriation he signed this week. IBD argues for Bush to issue an executive order defunding the 90% of the 9,000+ earmarks that got airdropped into committee reports: President Bush has proved his courage on Iraq, on SCHIP, and on refusing to accept a tax hike to fix the AMT. His is the sort of will that could squash pork-barrel earmarks — in the name of the Constitution. ... The Congressional Research Service issued a report last week confirming that earmarks not included in the actual bill but written into accompanying reports — which is most of them — do not have force of law and can therefore be disregarded by the president. ... If the president decided to get tough and issue an executive order instructing all agencies not to...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Pretty Thin Sample

The Los Angeles Times offers a poll for Iowa that shows some dramatic numbers in the Republican race. Mike Huckabee has a commanding lead over Mitt Romney, according to the Times/Bloomberg numbers, running fourteen points ahead. However, the sample leaves these results with debatable predictive value: 2,312 adults completed the survey in Iowa, including 2,145 registered voters ( margin of sampling error +/-2), 580 Democratic caucus voters (+/-5) 389 likely Democratic caucus voters (+/-5), 310 Republican caucus voters (+/-6) and 174 likely Republican caucus goers (+/-7). Only 174 likely Republican caucus goers got surveyed by the Times/Bloomberg poll. That hardly gives much credence to the results of this survey. They found more than twice as many likely Democratic caucus goers as they did Republicans, and that's still a pretty thin sample, even for a state race. The poll may reflect the opinion of the sample itself, but as a predictor...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

AQ Infiltration Of Pakistani Intelligence A Possibility

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto looks more like a complex operation, planned carefully, with decoys and serious preparation. Eli Lake at The New York Sun reports that the murderers used one explosion as a feint to draw Bhutto into a sniper's line of fire. The killers had already prepared to shoot through her defenses: American and Pakistani military leaders are seeking to account for what may be renegade commando units from the Pakistani military's special forces in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan's opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto's rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto's armored limousine was shot by...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Tale Of Two Television Ads

Mitt Romney and John McCain have released competing ads in New Hampshire today. Both take different approaches, and may show a little about how each candidate views the Granite State. While McCain's ad showcases himself with ebullience in "The Choice Is Clear", Romney also focuses on McCain as the wrong choice in "Future": As so-called attack ads go, this seems rather mild. It focuses on McCain's record, doesn't call him names, and even offers that McCain is an "honorable man". There's nothing objectionable about it in that sense. Campaigns are all about making choices, as both men make clear. However, the decision to go after McCain with ten days left before the New Hampshire primary shows how close that race has become. If Romney still had a double-digit lead there, he never would utter the name McCain in any of his advertisements. He now needs to make the comparative case,...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Choice Is Clear (In Canada, At Least)

Theo Caldwell takes a step back from the minutiae of the presidential primaries, the internecine spats, and the wildly varying polls -- and indeed, from the American border. In Canada's National Post, Caldwell takes a look at the choices offered by the Democrats and Republicans and determines which party takes the Presidency more seriously: This instinct intensifies as the stakes of the given choice are raised. American voters know no greater responsibility to their country and to the world than to select their president wisely. While we do not yet know who the Democrat and Republican nominees will be, any combination of the leading candidates from either party will make for the most obvious choice put to American voters in a generation. To wit, none of the Democrats has any business being president. This pronouncement has less to do with any apparent perfection among the Republican candidates than with the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Ask Me No Questions ...

As the Iowa caucuses approach, the time has come for risk-taking for those who trail, and risk avoidance for those who lead. Hillary Clinton has decided to take the latter approach, even though she has dropped into a dead heat in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Peter Nicholas reports that Hillary has stopped taking questions at campaign appearances: As she races through Iowa in the days before next week's caucuses, Hillary Clinton is taking few chances. She tells crowds that it’s their turn to “pick a president,’’ but over the last two days she has not invited them to ask her any questions. Before the brief Christmas break, the New York senator had been setting aside time after campaign speeches to hear from the audience. Now when she’s done speaking, her theme songs blare from loudspeakers, preventing any kind of public Q&A. She was no more inviting when a television...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Still Murky On Assassination Details (Update: Sharif Wants Election Suspended)

UPDATE: While many have speculated that Pervez Musharraf might cancel the elections -- and Congress has demanded that they continue -- the surviving opposition leader wants them canceled (scroll down): Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif said Friday if the government went ahead with parliamentary elections next month, it will “destroy the country. If the government is adamant about holding elections on January 8, it is going on a self-destructive path which will not only destroy the government itself but will also destroy the country,” he said. Sharif, who narrowly avoided an assassination attempt yesterday as well, had wanted to boycott the elections unless Musharraf stepped down and/or restored the judiciary. Benazir Bhutto forced him to give up the boycott, but now that she has been assassinated, he may fall back to that position. He now wants Musharraf to step down as president before any elections get held. That may leave Congress...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Topless Woman Propositions Man In Park -- And Who Gets Arrested?

Police have a tough job, especially when it comes to vice-squad details. They have to keep areas free of predators in order to allow law-abiding citizens to enjoy public places. However, they also have to take care not to entrap people in behavior that they ordinarily wouldn't commit. In Columbus, Ohio, it seems very clear they crossed that line: Robin Garrison, an off-duty 42-year-old firefighter, was walking in Berliner Park in Columbus, Ohio, in May when he saw a woman sunbathing topless under a tree. He approached her and they started talking and getting comfortable, the woman smiling and resting her foot on his shoulder at one point. Eventually, she asked to see Garrison's penis; he unzipped his pants and complied. Seconds later, undercover police officers pulled up in a van and arrested Garrison; he was later charged with public indecency, a misdemeanor, based on video footage taken by cops...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Blogburst Mission Accomplished?

Well, not quite, but close enough for government work. The Fred Thompson campaign needed to raise about a quarter of a million dollars to get an ad run in Iowa for next week's caucus. They have come close enough to make the deal, but they still need a little help: Any Fredheads out there who want to see the Thompson campaign survive should start digging for loose change now....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Heading Right Radio: The Week In Review!

Note: This post will remain on top until show time; newer posts may be found below. Today on Heading Right Radio (2 pm CT), Duane "Generalissimo" Patterson of the Hugh Hewitt Show returns to review the week in politics. We'll have plenty to hash out, especially on the Benazir Bhutto assassination, the latest election polls, Hillary Clinton's new don't-ask, don't-tell policy, and more. We'll also welcome veteran film star and blogger Ron Silver to talk about Rudy Giuliani's new ad, and why Silver supports Rudy in 2008. Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! And don't forget to join our chat room! This show is now sponsored by Lifelock -- and listen to find out how you can save 10% on their services. Did you know that you can listen to Heading Right Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to Heading Right Radio...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

A Strange Veto Threat

First George Bush couldn't find his veto pen, and now it looks like he wants to wear it out before the end of his term in 13 months. Today, the White House announced that it would veto the hard-won defense authorization bill that passed with huge majorities in both chambers of Congress, which had been until now a legislative victory for the administration. The reason has Congressional leadership apoplectic: President Bush will veto a huge Defense Department bill because of concerns by the Iraqi government that Iraqi assets in American banks could be vulnerable to claims from victims of Saddam Hussein, the White House said Friday in Texas. “The new democratic government of Iraq, during this crucial period of reconstruction, cannot afford to have its funds entangled in such lawsuits in the United States,” Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. Mr. Stanzel said the president objects...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 29, 2007

NARN, Creaky Alley 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. Ed and Mitchie were getting pretty itchy to leave 2007 behind, John and Brian left the Loons a-cryin' while Chad kept them on the line, Banaian and Brodkorb sat -- after they did their number, they left Mark Ritchie flat .... It's creaky and not Creeque, but it's close enough! (Well, except for the meter ...) Mitch and I...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

'Tis The Season For Attack Ads

Oh, let's just call it comparative advertising, shall we? The Iowa caucuses start in less than a week, and at least one Republican candidate has decided to let it all hang out. Mitt Romney released a negative ad against John McCain earlier for New Hampshire, and now he's got one in rotation in Iowa against Mike Huckabee that has the Arkansas governor seeing more red than a Christmas sweater: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched a fresh attack Friday on rival Mike Huckabee, raising the stakes in the tense two-person contest in Iowa that could prove critical to both candidates' hopes of winning the GOP nomination. A few months ago, Romney appeared the likely winner of Iowa's leadoff caucuses, having outspent and outhustled former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former senator Fred D. Thompson of Tennessee. But Romney never anticipated the groundswell of...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Dead Heat In The Iowa Cold

Robert Novak reports on a massive polling effort that surveyed 15,000 pledged attendees of the Iowa caucuses. Unlike the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg, whose partnership could only dig out 174 such subjects, the poll results seem much more predictive -- in their own way (via Memeorandum): While public polls show Mike Huckabee leading Mitt Romney in Iowa, a new survey of an oversized sample shows Huckabee slipping and no longer ahead of Romney. A private corporate interest commissioned a phone bank survey of 15,000 Iowans who say they will attend Republican presidential caucuses Jan. 3. It showed Romney with 30 percent and Huckabee at 26 percent. Sen. John McCain was third with 12 percent and Rudy Giuliani fourth at 9 percent. Fred Thompson had only 1 percent, with slightly fewer votes than Rep. Ron Paul (also at 1 percent). Numbers for both Huckabee and Romney dipped sharply when Iowans...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Iraqi Shi'ites Push Back Against Iran

The religious connection between Iran and the Shi'ites in southern Iraq have caused significant concern of dissolution of the Iraqi federation. Not all Shi'ites in that region have a love of Iran, however. An op-ed in Kitabat, an Iraqi newspaper, calls any Iraqi Shi'ite cooperating with Iranian agents a "traitor": Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t frankly and publicly reject Iran’s interference is an Iranian agent, a traitor and a coward. Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t boycott Iranian goods is a traitor and a coward. Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t attack the nests of Iran’s intelligence agencies within Tehran’s embassies, consulates and charitable institutions is a traitor and a coward. My Shiite brother, you now confront a great test of your patriotism, your honor and your loyalty to Iraq ... declare with a loud cry your rejection of Iranian interference and prove to one and all that you are an honorable...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Because Oil Companies And Pizza Hut Couldn't Afford It

I've figured out how to get conservatives and liberals together on the issue of pork. All we need to do is show how earmarks put money in the pockets of a progressive bete noir, and if possible, throw in a dash of Congressional cluelessness. That would give us a broad-spectrum motivation to kick some porkers out of the Capitol Hill barbeque. Bingo! One Representative's failure to gas up created an earmark to build a gas station: More than 25 years after he nearly ran out of gas there, Rep. Dave Hobson was finally able to fill up in Wilberforce Thursday at a new Speedway SuperAmerica gas station at U.S. Route 42 and Brush Row Road. ... The development, named the Tawawa/Dave Hobson Plaza at a 1 p.m. ribbon-cutting, is joint project between Speedway SuperAmerica, which has its corporate headquarters in Enon, and the Tawawa Community Business Development Center. In addition...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Musharraf Calls The Bluff

Plenty of speculation has arisen over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, fueled in part by a posthumous message from Bhutto herself accusing Pervez Musharraf of wanting to kill her. The rapid burial custom of the Muslim religion gave rise to accusations of cover-up on the part of Musharraf. He has now answered by offering to exhume the body for further examination: The Pakistani government has offered to exhume the body of murdered opposition leader Benazir Bhutto if her party requests it. ... The government has claimed the former leader died after hitting her head on her car's sunroof during the suicide attack, a version of events that the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, has said he has no reason to contradict. But Miss Bhutto's party dismissed the official account, branding it as "ludicrous" and a "pack of lies". One aide who bathed Miss Bhutto's body before her burial said she saw...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

In Which Chris Dodd Channels CapQ

On Thursday, progressive commenters here at CapQ erupted in outrage when I quoted Bill Richardson demanding that the US "force" Musharraf out of power in favor of a national government. Originally, the Richardson apologists insisted that the word "force" came from the journalist reporting the story; when I produced the quote from Richardson's website, they claimed he didn't mean "force" when he said ... "force". Count Chris Dodd among those who scoff at that explanation (via CapQ commenter NoDonkey): Though Richardson often touts his foreign policy experience — he was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Bill Clinton — Dodd dismissed Richardson’s proposals in strong terms. “I think that is a dangerous idea, and I am sort of surprised Bill Richardson would make that recommendation,” Dodd said. “Can you tell me who is going to then be controlling the keys to the nuclear weapons in Pakistan when Musharraf is...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Perfect Suspense

In the end, it turned out much more suspenseful than anyone predicted. At one point, the New England Patriots found themselves down 28-16, then scored 22 unanswered points to seemingly put it away. They then had to weather a late effort by Eli Manning to hold on, 38-35, to have the first perfect regular season of the 16-game schedule, and the first in 35 years overall. Tom Brady came out roaring in the second half, but the big surprise came from Manning, who had played poorly in the previous four games. Tonight, he looked a lot like his older brother had switched jerseys with him. Until the fourth quarter, Eli played flawlessly. He looked commanding, poised, and prepared. Only an unfortunate interception in the last stanza marred his record, and it provided the Patriots with the drive that won the ballgame. Once again, the Patriots looked beatable ... for a...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 30, 2007

Osama Bin Desperate?

Osama bin Laden released an audio tape statement that focused on the Sunnis of Iraq, warning them not to fight against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the bin Laden affiliate currently reeling from the combined forces of the American surge and the Anbar Awakening. The tape got made before the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, as Osama didn't mention al-Qaeda's success in Pakistan. He did make clear that he sees Iraq as a central battlefront in his jihad against the West: Osama bin Laden warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against fighting al-Qaida and vowed to expand the terror group's holy war to Israel in a new audiotape Saturday, threatening "blood for blood, destruction for destruction." Most of the 56-minute tape dealt with Iraq, apparently al-Qaida's latest attempt to keep supporters in Iraq unified at a time when the U.S. military claims to have al-Qaida's Iraq branch on the run. ... Bin Laden said Sunni...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Still Dead Heats In Iowa

A new poll by Reuters, C-SPAN, and Zogby show what most polls have told us about Iowa: it's still a dead heat. For Republicans, only one point separates Mike Huckabee from Mitt Romney, while Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards come within seven points of each other. It makes for a dramatic conclusion to the 2007 phase of the primaries: Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a narrow lead in Iowa four days before the state opens the presidential nominating race, while Republicans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are virtually tied, according to a Reuters/C-Span/Zogby poll released on Sunday. Clinton, a New York senator, led Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois 31 percent to 27 percent, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards a close third at 24 percent and no other Democratic contender registering in double-digits. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, held a statistically insignificant one-point edge over former Massachusetts Gov....

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Did Reporters Get Born Yesterday?

The dumbest political controversy this week, a prize that one wins with some difficulty, comes unsurprisingly from the Boston Globe. Michael Kranish found it necessary to breathlessly report that John McCain used a proverb that is so well-known that it has probably appeared on tens of thousands of blogs before yesterday. Somehow, however, Kranish and an unnamed reporter on McCain's beat managed to turn it into a nasty personal attack on Mitt Romney: Asked how he intended to respond [to a Mitt Romney attack], the Arizona Republican said: "Never get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty -- and the pig likes it." The back-of-the-bus compartment in which McCain was holding forth went silent for several seconds. Finally, a reporter asked: was McCain comparing Romney to a pig? McCain laughed and paused as he formulated his response: "That was a general philosophical approach to American politics."...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Are They That Afraid Of Bill Kristol?

The New York Times decided to bring another conservative commentator aboard their flailing op-ed pages, still recovering from their years-long cloister of TimesSelect. They chose Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, whose run at Time Magazine recently came to an end. Did liberals celebrate the balancing of opinion at the Gray Lady? Not exactly, as The Politico points out: The New York Times’ hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently. Rosenthal told Politico shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views.” “The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

The Ultimate Poll: The Five-Place Tie

Well, we knew this was coming, didn't we? Rasmussen has a new poll out this morning that shows a dead heat among the five Republican frontrunners, with a new face at the very top of the heap: For the first time all year, Arizona Senator John McCain finds himself on top with support from 17% of Likely Republican Primary Voters. In the muddled GOP race, McCain becomes the third person to top the poll this month and the fourth since October. But his lead is statistically insignificant--Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are just a point behind at 16% and Rudy Giuliani is two points back at 15%. Slightly off the pace, but still within five points of McCain, is Fred Thompson at 12%. Ron Paul retains his base support at 7%. One of the more amazing things about the Republican race this year is that it has grown closer and...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

Who Knew Rudy Would Be Mr. Sunshine?

With the races in Iowa and New Hampshire ending up in dead heats with less than a week to go before the start of the 2008 primaries, the tone has descended to at least cranky. Mitt Romney has gone on the attack against John McCain and Mike Huckabee, while both candidates have returned the favor. Rudy Giuliani, with his big-state strategy, has managed to stay above the fray: Largely out of the political debate in Iowa and New Hampshire, Republican Rudy Giuliani tried to turn the bickering among his presidential rivals to his advantage, arguing that voters appreciate candidates who stay positive. "We're not involved in the back and forth about criticism of each other," the former New York mayor said Sunday in Plymouth after speaking at a town hall meeting in this college town. "I kind of like that; I'd rather not do that. I don't think that's the...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »

December 31, 2007

Pakistan Postpones Elections Amid Unrest

Pakistan has decided to push back its January 8 elections by at least four weeks, due to the unrest sweeping the nation after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The rioting comes at least in part over the controversy surrounding the cause of death. As it turns out, no autopsy has been performed, and for a surprising reason: Pakistan's elections will be delayed by at least four weeks due to mass unrest after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a cabinet official told AFP. Other government and election officials confirmed that the January 8 polls would be postponed. Bhutto's party rejected any delay and insisted the government should stick to the schedule, but a spokesman for Nawaz Sharif, another major opposition leader, said a short postponement "would be acceptable." The vote is under scrutiny around the world as President Pervez Musharraf pledges to complete the Islamic nation's transition to civilian-led democracy after...

« November 2007 | January 2008 »