Comments Problems Resolved … I Hope

CQ readers know that we have had nothing but frustration with the comment process here, a problem that has long predated the recent site upgrade. Over the last couple of weeks, we have tried everything we could think to resolve it, and I’ve spent more time on this problem than I have on my actual blogging. One reason for that is that the same problem commenters have in posting on CQ happens for me when loading new posts as well. The server load has driven performance to a crawl several times a day, and none of us could really understand why. The Blog Studio and Hosting Matters have put a lot of effort into trying to make the comments work properly again.
Eventually, the good people at Six Apart (creators of Movable Type) explained a number of facts about the commenting process that made the problem clear. We knew that the comments script invoked a rebuild script, but what we didn’t know was that it invoked a rebuild for all archives as well as the index files. Earlier, I had applied a fix that addressed a different rebuilding process, but it didn’t apply to the archives.
Six Apart suggested that I try a plug-in, Rebuild Queue. This defers all automatic rebuilding queries for archives until a scheduled program runs. I’ve set it for once per day, overnight, when not many comments get left on the blog. That way, all rebuilds will happen at once, allowing the site to operate much more quickly and the rebuilds to occur more efficiently.
Hopefully, this will be the final fix. Let me know if you see any improvement, and thanks for all your patience!
UPDATE: Actually, I’ve had to try another kind of fix, also from Movable Type. RebuildQueue works too well — it also stops rebuilding the RSS feeds and the main index file that creates the blog, which means that I’d have to rebuild both manually whenever I create a new post. I’ll try this other fix for a while; it seems to be only slightly slower than the plug-in.
UPDATE II: If you got an error message with the word “abaltach”, it’s fixed now. I wrote the wrong script name into the program, and it took a while for me to find it. Sorry!

Will Anyone Notice?

Three Democratic presidential candidates have committed to staying out of states who have defied party rules and bumped up their primaries. The blow to these states will be tempered by the fact that no one would have noticed them in any case:

Democrats Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden on Friday became the first presidential candidates to promise not to campaign in states that hold early nominating contests in violation of party rules.
The three quickly signed onto a pledge circulated by Democratic leaders of the four states that have the party’s blessing to hold early contests — Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The pledge says they will avoid competing in any other states that vote before Feb. 5.
Aides to Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton said they were reviewing the pledge. Clinton’s aides have previously said she is committed to competing wherever there is a primary or a caucus.
Party rules for this cycle had Iowa’s caucuses on Jan. 14, with tests in Nevada Jan. 19, New Hampshire Jan. 22 and South Carolina Jan. 29.

The announcement keeps the three candidates out of Florida and Michigan, both of which have defiantly announced that they would not adhere to the party rules. Given that both states have a wealth of donor resources, especially in union-heavy Michigan, the pledge to stay out of the state will cost the candidates in funding as well as support. And if any of the three had a hope in hell of contending for the nomination, it would be a splendid gesture.
It’s easy to sacrifice when nothing is at stake. The leading three candidates won’t be offering to take one (or two) for the DNC or Howard Dean. Hillary Clinton could probably afford to do it if all she considered was the primary, but offending Michigan could come back to haunt her in the general election. Barack Obama needs every vote he can get while he slips farther behind Hillary. John Edwards is in even worse shape.
One cheer for the trio for standing up for the rules. In the end, though, it just saves them a lot of money and gives them a face-saving way to lose badly in both states.

CQ Radio: Duane Patterson, The Week In Review

blog radio
Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Duane “Generalissimo” Patterson, producer extraordinaire of the Hugh Hewitt show, joins us for the Week in Review. We’ll talk about the Craig scandal, Norman Hsu and his Democratic friends, Harry Reid’s desperation to salvage his leadership in the Senate, Fred Thompson, and much much more.
Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation!
Did you know that you can listen to CQ Radio through your TiVo service? Click here for the instructions. Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:
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I Guess They Weren’t Fireworks After All

The two University of South Florida students arrested in Goose Creek have been indicted on explosives and terrorism charges, the AP reports today (via Michelle Malkin):

Two Egyptian students at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday for carrying explosive materials across states lines and one of them was charged with teaching the other how to use them for violent reasons.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, an engineering graduate student and teaching assistant at the Tampa-based university, faces terrorism charges for teaching and demonstrating how to use the explosives.
He and Youssef Samir Megahed, 21, an engineering student, were stopped for speeding in Goose Creek, S.C., on Aug. 4, where they have been held on state charges.

For some reason, this story got a lot of pushback in the blogosphere. Here at CQ, several commenters derided the notion of its importance, claiming that the students only had fireworks in the trunk. Apparently a grand jury has decided otherwise.
The indictment goes further than the story initially went, too. Mohamed, who works at the same university where convicted terrorist enabler Sami al-Arian taught, apparently provided assistance in more than just engineering. His indictment includes instructing others on how to build and set off bombs.
Florida seems to be popular with terrorists and wannabes. How many of Mohamed’s students have the FBI found?
UPDATE: Via Fly-Man, al-Arian did not get convicted of terrorist financing, but of “material support“.

Hsu Surrenders

Norman Hsu surrendered to California authorities this morning, ending speculation on his whereabouts. The judge immediately slapped a $2 million bond on Hsu, which should keep him secure for the immediate future:

A top Democratic fundraiser wanted as a fugitive in California turned himself in Friday to face a grand theft charge.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge H. James Ellis ordered Norman Hsu handcuffed and held on $2 million bond. A bail hearing was scheduled for Sept. 5, at which the judge will consider reducing his bail to $1 million.
Hsu appeared in court accompanied by a lawyer and publicist, both of whom declined to say whether the New York apparel executive would immediately post bail. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he skipped the sentencing for a 1991 grand theft charge.

The AP has this incorrect. He already pled guilty to the charge; he’s being held for sentencing. In 1992, he agreed to serve a three-year sentence. Hsu will probably face more time for his flight to avoid prison.
How long will it take for the Paw and Lee families to raise the $200,000 necessary for a bond to spring Hsu?

The Wet-Nurse State

The Washington Post reports on a scandal in a milk bottle this morning that somehow gets front-page treatment. It involves a government program to bolster breast feeding, which supposedly got toned down after intervention by infant formula interests. Rather than be scandalized about the influence of lobbyists, one has to wonder about the editorial decisions of the Post and the idea that government should conduct these kinds of ad campaigns at all.
At Heading Right, I scoff at the notion that anyone is shocked, shocked! to find politics in play in the federal government. Breast-feeding advocates got this ad campaign effort going through the same mechanisms that the formula lobby managed to get it softened from the scare tactics HHS initially decided to take. But why is the government involved in this kind of advocacy at all? And why is this a page A-01 story? It seems we’re regressing from the Nanny State to the Wet-Nurse state.

Steady Eddie And A Boy Named Hsu

You have to give Ed Rendell some credit. Even when his fellow Democrats have decided to cut and run, the Pennsylvania governor believes in staying the course. Are we talking about Iraq? No, we’re talking about money, and Rendell apparently never met a dollar he didn’t like:

A prominent Democratic fund-raiser wanted on a felony fraud charge in California has donated or steered tens of thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania politicians in recent years, moving some to now jettison the money.
But one of Norman Hsu’s biggest beneficiaries in the state, Gov. Rendell, said yesterday that he would keep the money – and stand by his friend – unless he learned more damaging information about the case.
“I want to hear him out; I don’t want to be one of the guys to pile on,” Rendell said. “Norman Hsu’s one of the best 10 people I’ve met. He raised money for me because he believes in all the things we’re doing and he never asked for a bloody thing – not a job, not a contract, not [even] to attend a wedding.”

It turns out that Ed Rendell has plenty of reasons for taking a wait-and-see attitude about Hsu — 37,866 of them. That’s how many dollars Norman Hsu put in Rendell’s coffers in 2005 and 2006. Pennsylvania doesn’t limit donations, which allowed Hsu to contribute directly to Rendell rather than go through all the hassle of filtering donations through other families.
If Rendell thinks that Hsu is one of the “best 10 people” he’s met, then Ed needs to get out more often. California authorities have already confirmed that Hsu fled a three-year stretch for fraud after hustling investors out of more than a million dollars in a latex-glove resale scam. The New York Times reported today that all of his business references lead to dead ends — fronts for some purpose not yet known. Hsu himself appears to have vanished. One has to wonder who the other nine are on Ed’s Top Ten list.
The longer Rendell holds onto the Hsu money, the longer the stench will attach itself to him. Pennsylvania slid a little to the left in the last election. If Rendell continues to defend Hsu, that may turn around in the upcoming presidential election.

Craig To Jump, Just Before The Push (Update: Resignation Tomorrow)

The Larry Craig Saga will draw to a close today, CNN reports this morning. Citing “well-placed GOP sources”, the disgraced Senator will return to Idaho and give Governor Butch Otter the opportunity to appoint his replacement. And if Craig doesn’t jump, the RNC might give him a big push:

Several well-placed GOP sources in Washington and Idaho have told CNN that embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig is likely to resign soon, possibly as early as Friday.
A GOP source with knowledge of the situation told CNN’s Dana Bash that the Republican National Committee was poised to take the extraordinary step of calling on Craig to resign.
However, that move was put on hold, the source said, because top party leaders have received indications that Craig himself is preparing to step down.
Sources have confirmed that high-level meetings on the matter were being conducted in Idaho on Thursday.

Three Republican members of Congress had already called for Craig’s resignation. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Senators John McCain and Norm Coleman argued that a guilty plea for the misconduct in the airport restroom rendered him unfit for high office. The RNC must have agreed — and more than likely some of its members had already contacted Craig’s office to let them know they would demand his resignation if he didn’t quit on his own.
It seems like a high price to pay for toe-tapping and hand waving, but Craig pleaded guilty rather than dispute the charges. He has to take responsibility for that action as well, and as a Senator, he knows that his credibility depends on actions in and out of Washington. The accusations and the guilty plea reflect poorly on him and poorly on the GOP if they try to shield him. Basically, Craig embarrassed himself, and the party doesn’t want to pay the price for Craig’s individual actions.
That’s all perfectly understandable, even if not exactly laudable. However, if the party wants to start drawing these lines, then one has to wonder why David Vitter isn’t getting the same push. He didn’t plead guilty in court, but unlike Craig, he openly admits he broke the law and solicited prostitutes. Others serving in Congress at the moment have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors of more import than disorderly conduct without being forced to resign. If morality and credibility are at issue, why isn’t Vitter being held to that standard? It’s either that Louisiana’s Democratic governor would appoint a Democrat in his place, or that Vitter’s transgressions involved heterosexual sex and therefore are less objectionable.
Craig will depart soon, and these questions will fade away eventually. However, people will wonder whether the GOP decided to argue for standards in public officials, or whether they just found it easy to use Craig without endangering their political balance in the Senate.
UPDATE: Craig will resign tomorrow, according to GOP sources:

Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig will resign from the Senate amid a furor over his arrest and guilty plea in a police sex sting in an airport men’s room, Republican officials said Friday.
Craig will announce at a news conference in Boise Saturday morning that he will resign effective Sept. 30, GOP officials in Idaho and Washington told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A Saturday on a three-day weekend? You couldn’t possibly bury that one any deeper in the news cycle.

Where Does Hsu Get The Money?

The mystery of Norman Hsu deepens today with a New York Times report on his collapsing cover stories. While the Gray Lady tries to focus on the sudden retreat of Democrats from a man who has raised almost a million dollars for them, the real story comes in the second half of the article — in which Hsu appears to be a front:

People who met him said they knew only that he ran an apparel business. Efforts to learn more about his trade hit dead-ends yesterday. Visits to companies at addresses listed by Mr. Hsu on campaign finance records provided little information. There were no offices in buildings in New York’s garment district whose addresses were given for businesses with names like Components Ltd., Cool Planets, Next Components, Coopgors Ltd., NBT and Because Men’s clothing — all listed by Mr. Hsu in federal filings at different times.
At a new loft-style residential condominium in SoHo that was also listed as an address for one of his companies, an employee there said that he had never seen or heard of Mr. Hsu. Another company was listed at a condo that Mr. Hsu had sublet in an elegant residential tower in Midtown Manhattan just off Fifth Avenue, but an employee there said Mr. Hsu moved out two years ago, after having lived there for five years. The employee, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about residents, said he recalled that Mr. Hsu had received a lot of mail from the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton told a Manhattan audience yesterday that her team tries to do the best they can in vetting volunteers. How could any vetting process possibly miss this? None of his story checks out at all, not even with the most cursory look at his record. It’s filled with false addresses. Not even his listed residence appears current. Exactly what kind of vetting did Hillary do?
Hilariously, Eliot Spitzer joined Hillary on stage yesterday. The Governor, whose previous job was Attorney General, got $62,000 of Hsu money for his campaign. Are we to believe that the former top law-enforcement officer of the state of New York couldn’t find out that Hsu was a fraud?
No one vetted Hsu. The only process Hillary and Spitzer used was cashing the check. If it didn’t bounce, Hsu got into the club.
Bob Kerrey has the most laughable explanation, however. The former Senator runs the liberal New School, which made him a trustee after Hsu started showering Democrats with cash. Kerrey explained that he added Hsu to the trustee roster because “I liked his personal story, coming from China, and he had an interest in fashion as well.” All it takes to become a trustee at the New School is to be an immigrant who has an eye for the runway. That says much more about the New School than Kerrey intends.
All of this begs the question: where does Hsu get the money? All of his supposed resources are frauds. Hsu himself is a convicted con man, but the money he threw around was very real. Where did it come from, and what was its purpose?

Stand By The Mission Petition

The Victory Caucus has a new effort for supporters of the mission in Iraq to let our elected representatives know where we stand. Readers can sign this on-line petition through CQ, and the results will be delivered to the House and Senate leadership. If you believe that the US cannot afford to allow a catastrophic collapse and a genocide behind us in Iraq, I’d ask you to add your name to the list.