Ed Morrissey has blogged at Captain's Quarters since 2003, and has a daily radio show at BlogTalkRadio, where he serves as Political Director. Called "Captain Ed" by his readers, Ed is a father and grandfather living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, a native Californian who moved to the North Star State because of the weather.
Podcast With Norm Coleman
I've podcasted the interview Mitch and I conducted with Senator Norm Coleman about his opposition to the Bush administration's surge strategy. As always, Senator Coleman made his point with eloquence and careful thought -- but I'm still in disagreement with him. Listen to both portions and decide for yourself, but be sure to read his speech and more of what went into his decision at his website.
Podcast With Claudia Rosett
Mitch and I had a blast today talking with Claudia Rosett about the latest shenanigans at the United Nations, including Kofi Annan's valediction and Ban Ki Moon's inauguration. I've broken the two segments into separate podcasts:
Hope you enjoy listening to the interview as much as we did conducting it!
A Long Chat With Peter
Normally I like to do the interviewing, but last week during my vacation I spent a little time with Peter at Hi-Wired .... actually, a lot of time, close to an hour. Peter had asked me some time ago to get together for an interview for the blog, and I took the opportunity to do it while the First Mate was in dialysis. Originally it was supposed to last about 20 minutes, but I think both of us had too much fun to shut it down that quickly.
We covered a wide range of topics in this interview, and I have to say it was one of the most interesting I've done. Peter has it posted on his site, as well as through iTunes. He also lifted a picture of me from the first month I was blogging, when I went as Zorro to work on Halloween. Hope you enjoy the talk as much as I did.
George Allen Interview, Part II
Bumping both posts to to Saturday -- and welcome Instapundit readers.
This is the second part of my interview with Senator George Allen. In yesterday's installment, Senator Allen talked about economic policy, immigration, and taxes. He concludes by discussing his race and the messages that Republicans must communicate in these midterm elections.
CQ: Energy policy and national security have become inseparable since 9/11. You have offered an energy-reform policy to reduce dependence on foreign oil. How would that work, and what how does your opponent differ on energy policy? How soon can we achieve self-sufficiency for energy under both plans?
GA: I absolutely agree that energy independence and protecting our homeland go hand-in-hand. We must declare an end to our strategic dependence on oil from the Middle East and from any other foreign source that has the potential to jeopardize our national security and economic vitality. When I recently spoke on the Senate floor about my energy proposal, I spoke of the need for a new declaration of independence for the United States, and I believe that we can set aside partisan differences to make this reality.
My proposal includes five crucial elements: First, the strategic use our global economic power and international relationships to remove the oil-based leverage that hostile states now enjoy. Second, the accelerated exploration and development of domestic energy supplies – including American oil, American natural gas, American clean coal, and American nuclear power. Third, the accelerated research, development, and deployment of every economically viable alternative and renewable source of energy. Fourth, a bold new national commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, investing in the next generation of leading-edge, creative scientists, researchers, and engineers of advanced technology. Fifth, an unequivocal declaration of our national security commitment to energy independence.
To be honest, I’m not sure what my opponent’s plan is for energy security. All I have ever heard him say is that we need a windfall profits tax on oil companies. He clearly isn’t a student of history as President Carter tried this with disastrous effects.
CQ: You have had your share of electoral campaigns. In this one, you have had to deal with unproven allegations of decades-old racist comments and the questioning of your ancestry. Do you ever recall a campaign as nasty as this one? What damage do you believe this does to the electoral process?
GA:One of the most unfortunate aspects has been that we have been diverted for talking about the issues Virginians care about. Campaigns are supposed to be about a robust discussion of the issues so that voters can make educated and informed choices. I have said that I brought some of this on myself, but much of this is baseless allegations. It seems that those who are scared about running on issues try to change the subject because they know that if this election is decided on issues, we’ll win.
CQ: Continuing on that point, what responsibility does the media have in covering the personal attacks? What responsibility do the candidates have in controlling the message during the campaign? In your estimation, has your opponent deliberately contributed to the personal attacks, and if so, why?
GA: It is actually ironic – the media says on one hand that the candidates need to be talking about the issues and then on the other hand, they run story after story about baseless allegations and character attacks. While it’s frustrating, throughout it all we’ve been talking about the issues that I know Virginians care about. Virginians know me. They know my positive record of over two decades of service to Virginia. That’s what we are talking about. The media can say what they want, but I am taking my message directly to Virginians. That’s the main reason that I have twice bought 2-minute segments of airtime statewide. So that Virginians can hear directly from me without having to use newspapers or nightly news stories as filters.
CQ: Republicans have heard an avalanche of bad news regarding the GOP's chances in these midterms. What message do you have for Republicans in the final days of this campaign?
GA: The positive message that I am taking around Virginia is aimed at anyone who pays taxes, works for a living, or cares about their families. It’s a message of trusting free people and free enterprise versus big government solutions and plans. Specifically, I am talking about three missions for Virginia. First and foremost, protect our freedoms – that means supporting our troops in the War on Terror, securing our borders, and making America less dependent on foreign sources of energy sources. Second, make America a land of opportunity for all – lower taxes, less litigation, less regulation, more personalized healthcare options, and improved educational opportunities, especially in the areas of science, engineering, and technology. Third, preserve our foundational values – part of this is ensuring that unelected federal judges who are appointed for life do not disregard the will, the desire, and the hope of the American people.
CQ thanks Senator Allen for joining us, and we hope to hear from him again soon. You can support Senator Allen in his re-election campaign at this site.
George Allen Interview, Part I
Bump to Saturday.
I had the opportunity to conduct an e-mail interview with Senator George Allen, currently in a tough fight for re-election in Virginia. Senator Allen answers some extensive questions about the midterm elections, energy policy, the economy, and the media coverage of the Virginia race. The second half of the interview will get posted tomorrow morning.
I appreciate the opportunity to answer questions here on Captain’s Quarters, one of the best of the best in the blogosphere!
CQ: Republican leaders have spoken about the threat of Democratic control of the House in order to ensure a strong turnout from the GOP base. In your estimation, what are the biggest problems that would create for a Republican-controlled Senate and the White House?
GA: I am concerned that a number of the positive policies we’ve been working on will be threatened – tax relief for families and small businesses, measures to keep our homeland safe, and reasonable tort reforms just to name a few. If we don’t make these tax relief provisions permanent, they start expiring in 2008.
CQ: Let's extend the question. If Democrats manage to control both chambers of Congress, how much damage would that do to the war effort and the Bush administration? What specifically could the Democrats do with thin majorities in the House and Senate?
GA: I think that it is more what we won’t be able to do. We won’t pass a comprehensive, reasonable energy plan. Tax relief won’t be made permanent. We won’t be able to confirm judges who are committed to the rule of law and a restrained judiciary. And healthcare options that give families more control and lower health care costs – like expanded Health Savings Accounts and small business health plans – won’t become a reality.
CQ: One of the stronger issues for the Republicans should be the economy and its robust growth over the last three years. Have Republicans done enough to get this message out, and what points do they need to hammer home?
GA: The message really is positive, and I’m talking about it everywhere I go as I travel all around the Commonwealth. In Virginia alone, since the second round of tax cuts were passed in 2003, Virginia has produced 215,925 more jobs – and 6.6 million new jobs nationwide. While there are some parts of Virginia that have been hit hard by international competition, the overall unemployment rate is at 3.2-percent. The average family of four making $40,000 is paying over $2,000 LESS in taxes. That’s money that families can save, spend, or invest. This is why I get especially concerned when I hear Democrats talking about the tax relief measures being “on the chopping block” as Rep. Rangel said. That is bad news for Virginians and all taxpayers.
CQ: The GOP hails the Bush tax cuts as the key to the economic boom over the past three years, but they have not been made permanent. How much risk is there for their repeal after the midterms if the Democrats take over the House and/or the Senate?
GA: This is one of the agenda items about which I am most concerned. The tax relief that the Republican Congress passed have not only benefited families – the average family of four is saving over $2,000 – but it has spurred the economic growth that we see today. Not making the tax cuts permanent would be detrimental to this growth and harmful to taxpayers. Democrats have made it clear that every tax cut should be on the table for possible elimination.
This is extremely frightening and that is why we have made this issue a centerpiece of our campaign. Virginia’s families and small business owners care about this issue because it affects their everyday lives. My opponent has repeatedly said that we need more revenue – that means only one thing – higher taxes. On the contrary, I believe that the federal government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
CQ: Congress appeared gridlocked on immigration this last session until the Secure Fence Act passed somewhat unexpectedly. What led to the breakthrough, and will Congress stop with the border barrier? What differences are there between yourself and James Webb on immigration policy?
GA: I was very pleased that Congress passed the “Secure Fence Act” right before recess with overwhelming support because Members of Congress realized that this is a priority for Americans coast to coast and that it should not be held hostage to political posturing. I have always said that border security is my top priority – a country that cannot secure its own borders cannot control its own destiny. I voted against the Senate immigration bill because it did not adequately address our border security needs and because it also included amnesty. I firmly believe that rewarding illegal behavior will only encourage more illegal behavior. While I don’t support amnesty, my opponent has said that he believes that there a great many illegal immigrants who should be granted amnesty. This is a big difference between the two of us.
Tomorrow, Senator Allen talks about his new energy policy proposals, and the messages he has for Republicans in the final days of the midterm campaign season.
UPDATE: Part II can be found here.
Frist Interview: Iran
Yesterday, Senator Bill Frist sat down for an interview with Scott Johnson, John Hinderaker, and me, and spoke on a range of topics. Yesterday I posted about the secret hold on S. 2590, the federal budget online database, and Frist's pledge to push the bill regardless of holds. The Senate Majority Leader had more to say about Iran and the security challenges of the Islamic Republic.
SJ: I’d like to follow up on a couple of questions. One of the short-term problems is Iran. I wonder if President Bush has has said it’s unacceptable. Do you think President Bush is going to accept it or do something about it before the end of his term? Can you make any sense of that?
BF: I can’t really go beyond what the President said, because what he has said publicly is what he said privately. The moral suasion of that is strong, but the next question – especially coming off Iraq – is what does that mean. … I think now, what’s happening in Lebanon, what’s passing through Syria, what the President has been saying all along has been happening in Iran, now people understand why it’s important to have all the options on the table. Before, people said “I think the president is going to go in there and militarily take out their nascent nuclear facilities here.” Beyond that, I can’t really say much. Literally, all options are on the table, some of which we haven’t talked a lot about. Who we support, how we support certain people other than the governments.
JH: If it comes to military action, will there be support for that in Congress?
BF: I was implying that a little bit when I said there was a greater understanding of the threats and the lines being drawn now directed by Iran around the world. I think that the preparation and understanding will go a long way into building that support. Right now – I don’t know, it’s so hypothetical. If the President were to say that we have to launch a military strike, I don’t know what the support would be.
JH: My impression is that the Democrats are doing anything rather than take a position on Iran. They’re lying in the weeds, hoping that things go badly.
BF: I think what they’re doing – it’s such a political problem – is that they’re taking the spotlight and doing whatever they can to focus that spotlight on Iraq, and trying to separate Iraq from the larger challenges that we have with the rise of the fundamentalist extremists, and that will be it. When they take that spotlight and put it on Iraq, it takes it off of Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, plus other areas where terrorism [exists]. What I will do when we come back, I will use two arms, I will spend a lot of time talking about security issues and other issues, one of which will be the Hamdan decision, which raises questions about the military tribunals and these illegal combatants, and we’ll resolve that. We’ll have an opportunity for debate. The other arm will be in all likelihood a discussion of terrorist surveillance and what tools the government should have and legislatively put that on the table. Arlen Specter has an approach that I haven’t seen the final draft of which works with the administration more closely. We’ll use those two arms, those two platforms to address the sorts of issues on war and terrorism, regarding giving the enemy the playbook and threatening the security of the American people.
SJ: Can you tell us whether you believe that the disclosure of the NSA program, the terrorist surveillance programs, [hurt counterterrorism efforts]?
BF: I answer that “yes”, immediately. You’re going to ask me for three concrete examples, and I can’t give them, although that’s a question I ask in my classified briefings. I can tell you unequivocally, whether we’re talking about the original Afghanistan disclosure or the terrorist surveillance program … or the financial terrorism disclosure four months ago. Each of these three have, when openly addressed, have undercut our ability to [stop terrorism].
SJ: We’ve been making that case out there since last January, and I just wanted to come back and ask that.
JH: Is there anything else we can say that is more concrete?
BF: [crosstalk] Let me just think, because I know what you really need are two or three good examples. I know what kind of information was picked up [on the British plot] a couple of weeks ago, but I’m not at liberty to say right now. …
EM: I’d like to ask what non-military action would get some support in the near future in terms of Iran? Maybe some stronger support for democracy activists?
BF: I will continue to introduce resolutions or statements where we continue to support democracy-promoting organizations. … I continually go back and forth, because before Ahmadinejad came in, there was an undercurrent among the young people, with satellite dishes and college campus type activity. And now he’s captured the elite, so we don’t have enough intelligence to answer the question [on support for democratic change]. The question is how much his leadership has penetrated down into the groups that we thought would foment discussion and debate and change from below. I think that in the last two or three weeks that we can do a lot more so that change can come from beneath. I say that because it’s a wealthy, educated, intellectually bright constituency there. I’m also getting word from my doctor friends over there who have been in this country and have connections over there, and it’s interesting because they’re educated – they had to leave back in the late 70s – and their connections are still among the more educated group.
JH: What you say about supporting pro-democracy elements raises the question of why we haven’t done more of that over the last five years. People like Michael Ledeen have been arguing and arguing for that, and it seems like kind of a no-brainer to me.
BF: I can’t really answer that except to say that we should do better.
SJ: The full text of Ahmadinejad’s letter to Angela Merkel was posted on the Internet yesterday. I’ve read his long letter to President Bush, and taking all his public statements together, it’s a little bit hard to figure out what’s going on. One thing is that they’re trying to desensitize the world to the concept of wiping Israel off the map by saying it over and over again. Do you have any thoughts?
BF: I haven’t seen the on-line posting. I’ll tell you what’s interesting about the psychology. You’ve got someone who started as an aberration but has built himself into a populist movement, and at the same time he’s driving back to the 7th century ideologically, and clearly he’s engaging the nuclear imagination. That bothers me, because he’s pulling younger people into his future. He’s making his case for a nuclear supply that will all be for peace, and that dichotomy there, I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but we have to be very careful. That means this whole nuclear issue is an urgency we need to aggressively address or I think his popularity may increase.
The sanctions issue, like energy, will be interesting to see how it plays out. If they didn’t have to import and heavily subsidize gasoline so much … I haven’t followed in the last 24 or 36 hours what the plans will be, but I think that you do have a real opportunity in terms of sanctions, in terms of energy … and a real opportunity in terms of pressure points. The international global markets in banking itself, and you all have been following the discussions on this.
JH: The answer is no, and are we wrong to be cynical about sanctions, and that would just be dithering and not effective?
BF: [pause to consider] I think it’s an important part of our diplomacy. Will it be effective? I think it will be absolutely critical to make the stab, make the effort, use the peculiar situation there that’s very different than just saying you can’t have tourists there. There is a huge chunk of money, parts of the $500 billion I talked about [earlier], pieces of that, the way energy flows, and the peculiar relationship about where the money goes. I think it’s absolutely critical from a diplomatic standpoint that [sanctions] get tried, exhausted, and then … we’ll see.
JH: When you say the way energy flows, do you mean the fact that Iran has no refineries?
BF: They don’t have refineries, and the gas they put in cars all has to be imported. And then they’re heavily subsidizing that as well.
I'll post more from the Frist interview, and later tonight will have a recap of the luncheon that preceded it.
Frist Interview: Politics
The final part of the Frist interview covered the politics of the Senate in the upcoming session.
SJ: Speaking of holds, John Bolton’s confirmation is coming up. Where are the Democrats on that now?
BF: I don’t know! [Laughs] No, no, no, I have no idea, but it’s coming.
SJ: He’ll be confirmed in September, then.
BF: It depends on what the Democrats do. I’m going to bring it up, we’re going to vote on it, and he’d better be confirmed. I will do port security next – these are my general plans, I haven’t even told my colleagues this – I want to do port security, I want to address the Bolton nomination, I want to address the Hamdan decision on these security issues, I want to address the Specter-FISA compromise. That right there – I’ve only got 15 legislative days, so you can imagine the challenge.
JH: Do you think those things will have an impact in November?
BF: I don’t know, but as I travel around and talk with people, everything gravitates back to security. I think there will be clarification with some people, instead of saying “I’m for the war on terror but I don’t like this.” We’ll look at the tools we need to fight the war on terror, and we’ll look at the issue the Supreme Court gave us. So there will be a lot of discussion of those, which will lead to the clarification. That’s what people want – to feel safer and more secure.
SJ: Since 9/11, it seems that there has been a CIA war on the Bush administration, of which this whole Joe Wilson has been a part. If there were a Democrat in office while this kind of thing went on, it would be a Seven Days In May kind of scandal.
JH: I don’t know if you’ve seen what we’ve written about this, but –
BF: No – [crosstalk] – Let me go back and read more about this. I don’t know, I really don’t.
[Press liaison says only time for one more question]
BF: I’ll look into it. See, I’m at the CIA every week, literally, working with the administration. I want to be very careful about where I say leaks are coming from.
JH: Do you think any of them are coming from the Senate?
BF: I don’t know, I don’t know. Even when we started talking about monitoring phone calls in Afghanistan, Democrat or Republican, where they came from I don’t know. …
SJ: This past December?
BF: No, this was a few years ago. [crosstalk]
EM: One last question, Senator. This whole Fitzgerald investigation has collapsed over the last couple of days with the revelation that the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity came from Richard Armitage, and that the Department of Justice knew about it five days into the investigation. Do you plan to review this investigation to determine if there has been an abuse of power?
BF: Don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to talk to my colleagues.
EM: Yes, this just happened a couple of days ago.
BF: Well, we’ll see what the facts are, and then see if the oversight committees want to look into it. From a practical standpoint, September will be interesting. I’ve been traveling around the country and will continue to do so. We need real clarification on a range of issues of what are the differences between Democrats and Republicans. I’d march down the list: prevailing versus cutting and running, strong border protection versus porous borders, tax cuts versus tax hikes, affordable health care versus predatory trial lawyers driving up costs, energy independence versus energy dependence, common-sense judges versus activist judges.
Floor time I’m going to spend on security. I’ve probably been in 75 meetings in the last three weeks like we just did, where it’s not hard-core politics but just listening to people, and everything keeps gravitating back to that. The questions of giving the playbook to the enemy, how we treat enemy combatants, how we get information has to be fully explored. You’ll see a lot of that on the floor in September.
Six Questions For Senator Frist
I had an opportunity to speak with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist this morning and talk to him about immigration, spending, and the upcoming elections. Senator Frist and his staff graciously squeezed me into a tight window between television appearances.
Q1: The immigration bills are now heading into conference. When will we know the composition of the committee?
The composition of the committee will not be announced until the committee starts its work, Senator Frist told me. He plans on making sure the committee is large and diverse on this topic. The Senate side will split equally on supporters and opponents of the Senate version of immigration reform. The House has not yet made its selections, according to Frist, so he has no idea about its composition.
Q2: For you, what are the essentials that the final bill must have for you to support?
The bill has to have strong border security to gain Frist's support when it returns from committee. He is especially interested in empoyment enforcement to cut off the demand for illegal workers. Frist told me, "We have to stop the bleeding," an interesting metaphor from a physician.
Q3. A lot of speculation arose last week about phased implementation, where normalization programs will only kick in after border security gets put in place. Has this actually been proposed, and if it has, do you think it will allow the comprehensive reform aspects to pass on the house?
Ultimately, Frist believes that the final bill will make use of this strategy. He supports it in concept, but needs to see how the bill would structure it. It has to put all of the elements of security in place before kicking off the normalization and guest-worker programs if it is to succeed in the house.
Q4. Let’s talk about earmarks. The Senate took a lot of heat over the earmarks in the emergency appropriation bill. What steps will you take to keep the lid on earmarks?
Frist was not surprised it became an issue. The US Senate now recognizes the problem. The bill as it exists now shows the fiscal responsibility that we must have. Frist voted against the initial bloated package, recognizing the lack of discipline it revealed. The Senate will be pushing budgetary reforms such as a line-item veto, biennial budgeting, and other strategies for keeping wasteful spending out of the budget. He points out that the Republicans really wanted to tackle entitlements in this session, starting with Social Security, but the Democrats refused to come to the table. It's one of the ways in which he will show the difference between the two parties.
Q5. Tom Coburn has introduced S 2590, which would establish a public database for all earmarks. What is the status of that bill, and when can we expect that bill to reach the floor?
At first, Senator Frist didn't recall 2590 by number, but after I gave a brief description, he noted that it's currently sitting in committee. He says he's looking forward to bringing it to the floor if the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee returns it soon. [Right now it appears that its status has not changed since being referred to HSGA in April.]
Q6. Conservatives have debated whether to support the GOP in the midterms or to stay home as a protest over a number of issues, including immigration and spending. How do you intend to engage the conservatives and get their support?
Senator Frist gave his longest answer to this question, and it's clearly on his mind heading into the midterms. He repeated his belief that the GOP has to "govern with meaningful solutions". That means the Republicans will focus on the war on terror, keeping taxes low, and eliminating the death tax altogether. Frist also wants the last months of this session to work on securing America’s values, including flag-burning and gay marriage, and continue to press on judicial nominees. He believes that the GOP can show the contrast between Republicans and Democrats, even on spending. The GOP will remain stalwart on the war. Frist says that John Kerry’s new bill demanding a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq will show Democrats as the cut-and-run party. Frist knows that they need to show that the voters have a real choice to make in the midterms, and they plan on highlighting those policy issues in the last few months before the midterms.
Note: Due to a malfunctioning device on my end, the conversation did not get recorded, and the results are taken from my notes.
CQ Interview: Bernard Goldberg
Bernard Goldberg has a new paperback edition of his book, The
100 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken Is #37), coming out tomorrow and available now through Amazon and through his own website. He has added ten new entries to his list, expanded his opening comments, and discussed some of the experiences he had last year when promoting the book the first time around.
CQ readers will remember that I interviewed Bernard last year on the first release. I just concluded a terrific interview with him this evening and will be posting a long article based on the interview. (Podcasting will not be possible due to some technical problems with the recording.) Stay tuned!
Bernard Golderg Interview
When we started out, I knew that Bernard would have some time constraints. He had very graciously allowed me to reschedule to the evening while still giving me the first interview of his promotional tour. I thanked him for that at the start of the interview, but he told me that he wanted to make sure that we could connect. "You were the first person I spoke to a year ago," he explained, "and the buzz it created is still appreciated to this day."
The new version adds ten more people to the list, as I noted above, and I asked Bernard if that meant that we were ten percent more screwed up than last year. "No," he replied with a laugh, "what it means is that I wanted to update the book, and I did it in two way. I wrote an extended introduction which told about some of the insane things that happened to me since the book came out ... and the second way I did it was to add the names of people who have done things since the book came out. I wanted to freshen up the book by writing about some of those people."
Bernie and I talked about the "insane things" that happened to him on his first promotional tour for the book last year. I asked him which experience was the most insane, and he answered as I suspected: his appearance on the Donny Deutsch show, The Big Idea. I covered that story in these posts last year, when an inside source tipped me to the brouhaha. It would be hard to imagine a more insane experience on a promotional tour than that. "There were five people yelling at me," he said, "all of whom had not read the book. I was the only one on the show who actually read the book." However, Bernard also says that most of his media experiences were positive and that he enjoyed promoting the book, for the most part.
So who made the addendum to the Top 100? You have to read the book, of course, but Bernard spoke about three of the new additions. The first person on his mind was Ramsey Clark, the defender of many tinpot dictators and torturers, with Saddam the latest in a long line of miscreant clients. Bernard acknowledges that every defendant deserves a defense, but he points out that Clark has a long pattern of defending America's enemies. "I'll grant you, Saddam Hussein deserves a lawyer," he told me. "Over the last twenty years -- let me just go over a quick list [of Clark clients]."
1980 - "While Americans were being held hostage in Iran, Ramsey Clark flew over to Teheran and attended what they called a Crimes of America Conference." 1984 - "He defended a Nazi concentration camp boss. They were trying to deport this guy, and Clark defended him. 1986 - "After the United States bombed the terrorist training facilities in Libya, Ramsey Clark got on an airplane to Tripoli to console Gaddafi." 1986 again - "When a civil suit was filed against the PLO for the Achille Lauro hijacking ... where the PLO killed Leon Klinghoffer and threw him over the side because he was Jewish ... Ramsey Clark took the case for the PLO."
That isn't all. Clark also represented the defendants of the first World Trade Center attack when they came to trial in 1995. He also represented Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague in his war-crimes tribunal. His last client before Saddam was a Rwandan pastor who assisted in the genocide that took place under the nose of the UN. "This guy is a terrorist ambulance chaser," Bernard says. "You have to really hate America to take on the clients he has taken on." He says that taking any one case would be understandable, but that this pattern shows a deeper antipathy towards America.
Speaking of antipathy, the second entry on his new batch highlights the Graede twins, Lamb and Lynx. If the names do not sound familiar to you, you may know them as Prussian Blue, the neo-Nazi teenage singing sensations. ABC News called them "the Olson twins of the white nationalist movement", a description echoed by Bernard. "They're impossibly cute, and they remind you of the Olson twins. The Gaede twins are the neo-Nazi version. ... They sing at fun events like Holocaust denial events, white-supremacist meetings, and they sing songs honoring people like Rudolf Hess." Saying that "it's almost like a Mel Brooks movie," Bernard described how they give little sieg Heil! signs during their performances, which get mirrored back by the men in the audience. "You can make a case that the real villains are not the Gaede twins -- after all, these are just pathetic little girls -- but the stage mother, April, who really is the white-supremacist grown-up in the family." Their inclusion will hopefully revulse enough Americans to put an end to their career, but it's probably wishful thinking at best.
The third entry revealed by Bernard are the five justices who voted to uphold the Kelo decision. He makes the distinction that the five contribute positively to America as individuals, but in this case they did real damage to the most basic of our freedoms: property rights. Souter, Breyer, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Kennedy took the Constitution and turned it on its head by making the government the arbiter of the value of the private use of property. "I can't believe Jefferson meant that," he exclaimed, "I can't believe that for a second."
At the end of the book in its first release, Bernard asked readers to send him suggestions for others who might qualify for the list I asked him if he took his additions from reader input. Not directly, he replied. "The people on the list got mentioned by readers," he says, "but I didn't count the entries to make my decision." The additional entries came from his own judgment of them, but he did enjoy the input. I asked him if he would make this an annual event, but he seems inclined to let this be the last word. He has given his agent permission to take violent action if Bernard even suggests that he might write another book on the culture wars.
I asked Bernard about the heavy tilt towards liberals on his list, and he acknowledges that. However, he points out that liberals control most of the cultural communications, and that most of the intolerance and rage comes from the Left. (If you doubt that, watch the Donny Deutsch show again.) Bernard points out that he used to identify as a liberal until recently and still considers himself more of a libertarian than anything else. He feels that liberal anger from the election of 2000 drives most of the irrationality coming from liberals, and that the only cure might be losing more elections. He reminded me that conservative Democrats used to exist, and used Joe Lieberman as an example of why they have become such an endangered species. Bernard also thinks that Hillary Clinton is smart enough to avoid the problem in 2008.
We also spoke of his experiences at HBO and CBS. Bernard has reported for HBO for seven years on Real Sports, and the first season he worked for both companies. I asked him if he felt more able to do the kind of reporting that he prefers at HBO. Bernard recast the question in terms of the cultural differences. At HBO, he says, colleagues root for each other to succeed in their ventures inside and outside of the network. At the Tiffany Network, it's very different: "At CBS News, correspondents rooted for other correspondents -- to get hit by a truck. ... The atmosphere at CBS News was pathological. Only after I left, Ed, did I realize how liberating that decision was."
He plans to continue at Real Sports for the foreseeable future, good news for fans of the show and of Bernard's reporting. He has won six Emmys for his work at CBS News and one at Real Sports, but also added a Columbia-du Pont award last year for a story in which he takes particular pride. He revealed the abuse of young boys in the United Arab Emirates by forcing them to become camel jockeys -- and earned the first du Pont award for a sports journalist.
The paperback comes out tomorrow morning. Be sure to add it to your reading list. My review of the original release can be found here.
UPDATE: Thanks, Glenn, for the link and for pointing out the formatting problems!
Interview: Mark Tapscott On Immigration And The Conservative Rebellion
Earlier today I arranged to conduct a round-table discussion on George Bush's immigration speech as well as the conservative rebellion that threatens the Republican Party's dominance in Congress in the upcoming mid-term elections. Unfortunately, two of our potential conferees could not make it, Michelle Malkin because of her commitments to Fox News tonight, and Stephen Bainbridge because of technical difficulties that he tried mightily to overcome but could not.
Fortunately for me and for the CQ community, Mark Tapscott and I had a great one-on-one conversation instead. Besides being an outstanding blogger, Mark had spent years at the Heritage Foundation integrating bloggers into their efforts to great effect, and now serves as editorial page editor for the Washington Examiner. Mark has been fighting for the conservative movement for decades, and he has a unique perspective on the crossroads conservatives face, ironically because of their electoral successes.
We first talked about immigration, and Mark and I saw this very similarly. Neither of us think that Bush helped himself in the long term, although both of us predict that he will get a short-lived rise in the polls. We gave Bush high marks for consistency, but do not believe that the base will follow him on this effort. We also do not understand why Bush continues to push for a temporary worker program, and Mark has some good perspective based on his experience covering the German auto industry and their imported workforce.
Mark also clarified his position on the options for conservatives. He does not support the impulse for conservatives to disengage in the upcoming elections, or any other elections for that matter. Mark sees the potential for an effective and quick formation of a third party through the use of the Internet, and figures that such a project may be a rational option for disaffected conservatives. Until then, Mark wants to see the Right work through the GOP to elect the kind of leadership that will deliver on conservative policies.
This description barely skims the surface of our half-hour discussion. Be sure to download the MP3 at the link above for the entire interview.
Michael Yon Interview
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing intrepid independent journalist Michael Yon, back in the US after another tour of Iraq and a short stint in Afghanistan. I had hoped to catch Michael a couple of weeks ago, but the timing never worked out quite right -- and we almost missed each other tonight by accident when we had some confusion due to time zone differences. Fortunately, we made our connection and we spoke for about a half-hour earlier this evening.
I've podcasted our interview in three parts. In section 1, Michael and I discuss his impressions of Afghanistan. Michael only spent about a fortnight in Afghanistan, operating completely on his own, without embedding among US or Western forces. He had little good news for us about his limited experience there. The nation still operates on a tribal basis, only now the poppy harvest has hit record numbers, which fuels a booming drug trade. Michael never got to talk to the central government, but from what he did see the Karzai government has a lot to chew. He also reports that the Western forces there are seriously undermanned but fighting magnificently, especially the Canadians at the moment.
Michael has a much more optimistic view about Iraq, which he discusses in section 2. He says that the Iraqi security forces have done a tremendous job in standing up, although he believes that the US will need to have some forces there for years. The death tolls are still very high among the Iraqis, but they appear much more cohesive as a nation than the Afghans. He feels that the nation has a chance to unify and establish a stable democracy in the Middle East, and that most of the remaining problem revolves around Baghdad and its environs.
However, Michael stands by his characterization of the situation as a civil war, which has led to problems with a few conservative media voices, a problem we discuss in section 3. He doesn't spend his time worrying about it, however, preferring to focus on telling the story as he sees it and letting the chips fall where they may. We discuss the impact that blogging has had on the mainstream media, and we also mention Howard Kurtz as one of the most insightful media critics regarding the blogosphere.
Michael will go to work on a book which he hopes to finish soon, and after that may go back to doing what he does best. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did conducting it.
The RSS feed for CQ podcasts can be found here.
Podcasting At No Left Turns
Earlier this evening, I had a chance to chat with Dr. Peter Schramm, the director of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs and the center's blog No Left Turns. I first met Peter last month at the Heritage Foundation Resource Bank meeting, but only got the chance to introduce myself as I was leaving the Broadmoor for the airport. Peter had just received the Henry Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship, and we heard the moving story of his declaration that he was born an American -- just in the wrong place.
We had an engaging and (I believe) entertaining conversation regarding blogging, the upcoming elections, the inroads that the GOP hope to make in the African-American community, and most of all the Al-Qaeda documents that show the Zarqawi network in complete disarray. I believe the podcast will get hosted at this link when Peter has it ready for publication. I hope you enjoy it, and if No Left Turns hasn't made it onto your blogroll, this is a good time to rectify that.
UPDATE: Rick at The Ugly American interviewed Juan Williams in a pretty entertaining chat of his own,
CFACT Interview On CQ Podcast
The NARN interview with Bll Gilles from CFACT is now on my podcast RSS feed and can be also downloaded from this link. Duane Patterson and Mitch Berg ask some great questions about the funding controversy at the University of Minnesota. You can also come up to speed on this issue at my two posts on the subject:
The CQ Interview & Podcast: Rep. J.D. Hayworth
Earlier this afternoon, I had an opportunity to interview Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who came to Congress during the heady days of the Contract With America and the rise of the Republican majority. Rep. Hayworth has written a new book that has just been released by Regnery, Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security, and The War On Terror. The Congressman took an hour out of his day to talk to CQ about illegal immigration, the guest worker proposal, and how the open border in the south presents a clear and present danger to American security.
It's fair to say that Hayworth has a front-row seat to the many issues that illegal immigration causes. He has lived most of his adult life in Arizona, one of the front-line states in the massive long-term invasion (as he sees it) across the Mexican border. The lack of action from the federal government, especially post-9/11 has continually frustrated him as it has a number of his colleagues in the Southwest. He sees that the time may have finally come for Washington to do something about stemming the flow, even if only for national-security purposes, but he believes tthat the current efforts towards a guest-worker program will not work.
I took the opportunity to speak with Hayworth at length about immigration, and found him to be a fascinating and well-schooled spokesman for the effort to close the southern gap in our defenses. We also talked at length about reform, lobbying, and the upcoming election for the Majority Leader's office. He did not endorse any candidate, although he did say that John Shadegg, as his colleague from Arizona, has his attention. He wants to wait to see if the three contenders will agree to a debate, preferably public. Hayworth talked about the public nature of a process that normally would have taken place in quiet caucuses.
Hayworth also acknowledged that Jack Abramoff had contributed money to his campaign as well, and seemed pleased to be able to address the issue during our interview. Hayworth comes from a state that has a large Native American population that had long supported him, and his answers to my questions on reform and the Abramoff scandal are very interesting.
The interview ran to 57 minutes, and I have broken it up into four separate podcasts -- the first podcasts for Captain's Quarters, and hopefully the lead of a series of interviews for downloading by CQ readers, and listeners now as well. The links for the four parts are below:
For those who have CQ in their RSS feedreader, podcasts will show up in this URL when I post them.
UPDATE: I added the RSS feed to iTunes, but I don't know when it will start showing up.
Able Danger Foxtrot VII: The Zaid Interview
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to talk at length with Mark Zaid, the attorney for Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, about the status of the Judiciary Committee hearings and other questions regarding the Able Danger story. Mark and I spoke for about an hour, and his outlook on the runaround he and Shaffer have received about talking with Congress forms the basis of my new column at the Daily Standard, "The Able Danger Foxtrot Continues":
"We're presumably waiting for them to reschedule," Zaid said. "Officially, the Defense Department and the DIA are taking the position--at least with me--that Shaffer is not allowed to testify." That gag order clearly has allowed the momentum of the story to slow in the last few weeks. When asked about the gag order's origin, Shaffer's attorney cannot tell for certain who ordered it. "These guys are talking out of both sides of their mouths," he replied when asked to identify the agency responsible for blocking the testimony. "The first time around, when the hearing on the 21st was scheduled to happen," he explained, "the Defense Department was calling the shots, and DIA was continually relaying messages from DIA to me."
That seems to have changed since the cancellation of the first Judiciary hearing. After Zaid informed the DIA that Shaffer had invitations from other Congressional committees to deliver unclassified briefings, the DIA took charge of the clearance issue--and placed hurdle after hurdle in front of the career officer and his attorney, preventing them from sharing Able Danger's details with the legislators. "The DIA is calling the shots . .
. First, I had Tony call that [a request for permission] in himself," Zaid said, "and they refused to act on that. Then I submitted it to Congressional Affairs, and they refused to act on that. They say I'm not specific enough."
"I said that House Judiciary wants to meet with him. Congressman Davis wants to meet with him. The House Committee on Government Reform wants to meet with him," Zaid continued. "Somehow, it's not specific enough because I didn't list the individual staff members." Zaid wonders why the DIA wants to know about the names of each staff member that may or may not be present during the presentation of an unclassified briefing. "They don't want him meeting with certain staff members that might be hostile to them? Well, sorry, that's not the way it works."
Zaid tends to think that this reflects incompetence rather than a sophisticated attempt to keep testimony about Able Danger from the public. It sounds a bit more suspicious to me, however, especially when one considers which committees have not asked for a briefing on the program -- a fact which CQ readers can discover in the column itself.
I will post an entire transcript of the interview later in the week when I get more time. Zaid and I discussed numerous details of the case, including the Atta timeline and other issues that Zaid clarifies during the conversation. In the meantime, if people want to see Shaffer and the other AD team members tell us how they identified the AQ cells a year before the 9/11 attacks and no one seemed to notice it, contact the Senators and Representatives involved to get Zaid some help in getting the DIA and DoD to start cooperating.
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