The time has come to sail Captain’s Quarters into drydock. Tomorrow I officially start my new adventure at Hot Air, and as we have discussed all week here, all of my blogging efforts will go into building on the success at that site. I will continue to write as I like, as often as I like, on subjects that I like, with my own perspective, and gain access to a much larger platform at which to do it.
The site will remain on the Internet. The archives will be accessible at this link, so if you ever decide you wish to review my work or search for a favorite post, it will be ready to serve you.
I hope all of the commenters at Captain’s Quarters will join me at Hot Air. For those who missed the open-registration deadline, I can add people manually. Send an e-mail to “register” at “captainsquartersblog.com” (without the quotes), and be sure to include your preferred username and password, as well as the e-mail address you want to use for your account. I can add people manually or fix earlier registrations at any time, so keep that e-mail address handy.
For my last post here at Captain’s Quarters, I’d like to thank a few people. First, I want to thank the entire CapQ community, which has been an absolute blessing. I want to thank Hugh Hewitt and Duane Patterson, who have mentored and befriended me and opened many, many doors. Rush Limbaugh has shown me many kindnesses, most of which have come quietly. Of course, it goes without saying that Michelle Malkin — for whom I will begin working tomorrow — has been a wonderful friend to me for almost the lifetime of this blog.
I don’t have the room to list all of the bloggers who have assisted me over the years, but I do want to acknowledge a few. Glenn Reynolds has given me many links and has served as an inspiration, of course, as he does to many of us. Robert Bluey at Heritage has been a good friend and a sounding board. Rob Neppell has become a good friend, as has Mark Tapscott.
Mostly, though, I want to thank my friends on the Northern Alliance — Mitch, King, Brian and Chad at Fraters Libertas, and John, Scott, and Paul at Power Line — who gave me encouragement and guidance without any reservation or condescension. They are a great group of bloggers, but more importantly, a great group of friends, and I’m lucky to have them.
Finally, and crucially, one person remains to thank. If it weren’t for the support and love of my wife Marcia, the First Mate, I never would have been able to do this. She has been nothing but supportive and encouraging, even when the blogging became a much larger effort than either of us ever dreamed.
Simply put, I’m one lucky man to have all of this.
Let’s all take the next step on the adventure.
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 joins us for the 90-minute week in review.
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:
I’d call this the last act of a desperate woman. Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton present themselves as the person most people would want answering the phone at the White House in the middle of the night. In fact, the Democrats have done their best to minimize the threats to the US, especially since it became clear that John McCain — with his decades of work on military policy — would be the Republican nominee.
Does anyone remember the line that the “war on terror” was just a bumper sticker?
John McCain could simply clip off the last ten seconds of this ad and run it for the general election — no matter which Democrat won the nomination. I can’t wait for the pushback against Hillary for this ad.
AOL and BlogTalkRadio have partnered on the Hot Seat poll, extending the debate to our listenership. I will host a 15-minute show weekdays at 1:00 pm ET to review the poll, interview the blogger, and take calls from the participants. We’ll speak to a wide spectrum of bloggers and callers alike for each day’s poll — including today’s:
Be sure to tune it at BlogTalkRadio — and don’t forget to cast your votes! We will also take your calls at (347) 205-9555.
After reporting on Barack Obama’s dance with the Canadians on NAFTA yesterday, Canadian broadcaster CTV got accused of perpetrating a smear against the Democratic front-runner. They insisted that Obama meant every word he said about overturning the free-trade treaty, and that no one had contacted the Canadian diplomatic corps to reassure them that it was mere demagoguery. CTV responded today by naming names — and suddenly the Obama campaign has grown quiet:
The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.
However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama’s senior economic adviser — Austan Goolsbee — and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.
Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue. On Thursday night, CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters.
CTV didn’t stop there. They also announced that their sources, at “the highest levels of the Canadian government”, reconfirmed the story to CTV. One of their primary sources provided a timeline of the discussion to CTV. Contrary to some reports, CTV has not retreated at all from this story. Jim Geraghty notes:
I realize Obama’s campaign can still claim that one of his advisers went rogue in contacting the Canadians about his NAFTA rhetoric, but to me, this is game, set and match to CTV. … If Goolsbee had not talked to officials in the consulate, it seems likely that his answer would have been, “No, I didn’t talk to them.”
Who is Austin Goolsbee? According to this press release from last September, Goolsbee serves as the Senior Economic Advisor to the Obama campaign. He was highly touted by Obama in his visit to Iowa in that month, when he showed his intellectual chops by bringing Goolsbee along with a raft of other advisers, in part to show that he wasn’t a political lightweight.
It will be rather hard to distance himself from Goolsbee at this point. If Goolsbee spent time reassuring the Canadians sotto voce that Obama was merely demagoguing on NAFTA, then voters need to understand that the supposed “new politics” of Obama smells very similar to that of the same old lies and empty rhetoric we have heard from the Beltway for decades. And without that “new politics”, Obama is nothing more than an empty suit with a pleasant voice.
Cross-posted at Hot Air.
UPDATE: ABC also gets some refusal to confirm or deny from both Goolsbee and the Canadian diplomat in question, Georges Rioux.
The Israelis have sent a warning to Gaza and its Hamas leadership after the latest rocket attack on Ashkelon. If the attacks continue, Israel will invade Gaza and conduct large-scale military operations to eliminate the threat:
Israeli leaders warned Friday of an approaching conflagration in the Gaza Strip as Israel activated a rocket warning system to protect Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people, from Palestinian rockets.
Ashkelon was hit by several Grad rockets fired from Gaza on Thursday, a sign of the widening scope of violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza. One hit an apartment building and another landed near a school, wounding a 17-year-old girl.
Located 11 miles from Gaza, Ashkelon had been sporadically targeted in the past but never suffered direct hits or significant damage.
“It will be sad, and difficult, but we have no other choice,” Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defense mister, said Friday, referring to the large-scale military operation he said Israel was preparing to bring a halt to the rocket fire.
“We’re getting close to using our full strength. Until now, we’ve used a small percentage of the army’s power because of the nature of the territory,” Vilnai told Army Radio on Friday.
Israel had tried using softer methods to stop the attacks, including a lockdown on the border between Gaza and Israel. That resulted in a breakout at Rafah, which took the Egyptian government several days to resecure. Other nations had pressured Israel to end the embargo or at least loosen it for food, energy, and medical supplies, but the rocket attacks continue.
Hamas says that Israel’s return fire has killed 15 civilians and blames Israel for the rising tensions. Apart from the absurdity of blaming someone for hitting an aggressor in return, Hamas and other terrorist entities have no one but themselves to blame for civilian deaths. Even the AP acknowledges that Hamas launches its rockets from densely populated civilian centers, drawing fire onto their own people.
Israel cannot stand idle while terrorists rain rockets onto civilian populations, and the escalation to Ashkelon is a deliberate provocation by Hamas. The IDF has to take action, and this time it cannot be constrained by proportionality. They need a massive response to the Gaza provocateurs, one that leaves them no ground to hide. If Gaza’s civilian population wants to avoid that, then they need to rid themselves of the terrorists before Israel’s military does its work.
What’s worse in politics than being attacked? Being ignored — and Hillary Clinton wants it to stop. She wants back into the national discourse after mostly being overlooked since the debacle of Super Tuesday:
There was a time not long ago when Hillary Clinton dominated the discourse in both parties’ presidential contests.
Now, she’s struggling to get her message out and remain part of the campaign conversation as the media and her remaining rivals, Barack Obama and John McCain, stampede toward a general election matchup that seems more and more likely. ….
Today, though, after a post-Super Tuesday string of wins by Obama, Clinton hardly draws notice from the Republican party. The daily barrage of press releases from the Republican National Committee almost exclusively targets Obama. McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, makes almost no reference to Clinton in his campaign appearances, instead zeroing in on Obama’s record.
Oddly, I had thought to write about this exact phenomenon at some point today. Over the last two weeks, hardly any releases about Hillary Clinton have found their way into my e-mail. The RNC’s missives have focused on Obama exclusively, no mean feat considering his thin track record. Even blog readers have stopped sending Hillary material, a sure sign that she represents no real threat to either Obama or John McCain.
That makes Hillary pine for the days of her “vast right-wing conspiracy” fantasy. As Mike Huckabee once said, you know you’re over the target when you’re taking flak. When the flak aims at someone else entirely, you know you’re over. Hillary needs some media oxygen to keep her campaign alive, especially in Texas and Ohio, but Obama has kept the spotlight on himself.
The example given by the Politico amply demonstrates this. Hillary thought she could capture some attention by announcing her February fundraising number — a very impressive $35 million. It briefly created some buzz about a comeback, but Obama’s campaign responded within hours that he had raised close to twice that much. Not only did that take the spotlight away from Hillary, but it reinforced the perception that she keeps falling further behind.
Hillary once complained about media-fueled controversies that surrounded her and Bill. Now she’d put up with a scandal or two if it managed to focus the media and the opposition in both parties back on her campaign. She has discovered that obscurity is worse.
Turkey has ended its incursion into northern Iraq, according to the Iraqi government, and its troops will return home shortly. The raid intended to wipe out PKK bases in the Zap valley, and some sources in Turkey claim that they have succeeded:
Turkey wound down its major ground offensive against Kurdish PKK rebels inside northern Iraq on Friday, although it declined to confirm an Iraqi minister’s statement that it had already withdrawn all its troops.
Turkey sent thousands of soldiers into remote, mountainous northern Iraq on February 21 to crush rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) who use the region as a base for attacks on Turkish territory. Washington feared the incursion could destabilize an area of relative stability in Iraq….
A Turkish military source, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, confirmed only that Turkish forces had fully withdrawn from the key Zap valley in northern Iraq, long a major PKK stronghold, and most had already arrived back in Turkey.
The invasion made its point. The Turks rightly had lost patience with the Iraqis over their inability to control PKK terrorists in Zap. The valley has not come under Iraqi control, and PKK had flourished there as a result. The terrorists used their isolation to conduct attacks in Turkey that Ankara could no longer tolerate.
The US had pressed Turkey to avoid attacks on Iraq, but in the end could not stop the Turks from retaliating against terrorists. Instead, the US tried to contain the fighting to Zap and keep the situation from escalating into the rest of Iraqi Kurdistan. In that, we seem to have succeeded; the Turks did not attack areas controlled by the Iraqi security forces.
Americans and Iraqis have to come to a better solution to the PKK menace. While Kurds in Turkey have legitimate grievances, we cannot allow terrorists to operate in Iraq, especially under our protection. It not only works against the entire mission in Iraq, it will eventually destabilize the relationship between what we hope will be the only two moderate Muslim democracies in the region.
We need both Turkey and Iraq as partners to bolster our fight against radical Islamist terrorists. We don’t need them fighting each other, with the US in the middle.
The Economist takes a look at Obamanomics, and it sees William Jennings Bryan and class warfare. Instead of offering hope, Barack Obama offers the same fear- and envy-based tactics on which populism has always thrived. While Democrats have often used these tactics in primaries, the Economist worries that Obama might try to govern based on these promises:
FOR a man who has placed “hope” at the centre of his campaign, Barack Obama can sound pretty darned depressing. As the battle for the Democratic nomination reaches a climax in Texas and Ohio, the front-runner’s speeches have begun to paint a world in which laid-off parents compete with their children for minimum-wage jobs while corporate fat-cats mis-sell dodgy mortgages and ship jobs off to Mexico. The man who claims to be a “post-partisan” centrist seems to be channelling the spirit of William Jennings Bryan, the original American populist, who thunderously demanded to know “Upon which side shall the Democratic Party fight—upon the side of ‘the idle holders of idle capital’ or upon the side of ‘the struggling masses’?”
There is no denying that for some middle-class Americans, the past few years have indeed been a struggle. What is missing from Mr Obama’s speeches is any hint that this is not the whole story: that globalisation brings down prices and increases consumer choice; that unemployment is low by historical standards; that American companies are still the world’s most dynamic and creative; and that Americans still, on the whole, live lives of astonishing affluence. …
If he were elected president, backed by a Democratic Congress with enhanced majorities, Mr Obama might well feel obliged to deliver on some of his promises. At the very least, the prospects for freer trade would then be dim.
The sad thing is that one might reasonably have expected better from Mr Obama. He wants to improve America’s international reputation yet campaigns against NAFTA. He trumpets “the audacity of hope” yet proposes more government intervention. He might have chosen to use his silver tongue to address America’s problems in imaginative ways—for example, by making the case for reforming the distorting tax code. Instead, he wants to throw money at social problems and slap more taxes on the rich, and he is using his oratorical powers to prey on people’s fears.
Many people have compared Obama to Ronald Reagan in his ability to promise “morning in America,” but they have focused only on the most superficial part of the Reagan revolution. Reagan didn’t cast himself as the agent of hope, but appealed to the hope within Americans that they could lift up the country, and not the other way around. He focused on the hope of the individual as the true agent of change, and not the despair of the collective that required government intervention.
The rhetoric has given us nothing really new. It has the same populist ring to it that we have heard since before collectivism got entirely discredited in the latter 20th century. It’s simplistic calls to soak the rich and redistribute the wealth, to impose economic isolationism, and to prey on the fears of the working class by casting globalization as an unmitigated evil.
The Economist acknowledges that Democrats usually drop the populism when it comes to general elections. That was certainly true of Bill Clinton, who made the NAFTA deal that his wife routinely disparages on the stump now. It would most likely be true with Hillary, but Obama has no track record on which to gauge this. Given that the only basis for analysis is Obama’s rhetoric, it’s hard to judge him as anything other than the fear-mongering populist he has become on the campaign trail.
Black superdelegates report harassment, intimidation, and namecalling in attempts to get them to change their votes. Has this come from the vaunted Clinton machine, desperately attempting to pull out a miracle win? No — it comes from affiliates of the Barack Obama campaign, which hardly needs the hard sell (via Memeorandum):
African-American superdelegates said Thursday that they’ll stand up against threats, intimidation and “Uncle Tom” smears rather than switch their support from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama.
“African-American superdelegates are being targeted, harassed and threatened,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), a superdelegate who has supported Clinton since August. Cleaver said black superdelegates are receiving “nasty letters, phone calls, threats they’ll get an opponent, being called an Uncle Tom.
“This is the politics of the 1950s,” he complained. “A lot of members are experiencing a lot of ugly stuff. They’re not going to talk about it, but it’s happening.”
After civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) switched his support from Clinton to Obama earlier this week, other black superdelegates have come under renewed pressure to do a similar about-face. A handful have bowed to the entreaties in recent weeks, including Georgia Rep. David Scott, but many say they are steadfast in their support for Clinton and resent strong-arm tactics to make them change.
This ugliness is the inevitable product of the Democratic delegate structure. One has to remember that the superdelegates comprise 20% of the total delegates, and that they are almost all public office holders. Their votes will determine the nominee, not the popular vote in the primaries and caucuses — and their constituents will hold them responsible if they vote in opposition to them.
For a candidate who supposedly wants a new kind of politics, this looks a lot like an older version that we thought we’d left behind. Obama’s supporters, at least, don’t seem to have much problem playing the race card with the superdelegates. That might work in the Democratic primaries, but this naked power play with identity politics will diminish his prospects in a general election, and it won’t help other Democrats, either.
It portends ugly divisions for the party in July, when they meet for the convention. Only an early withdrawal by Hillary Clinton will avoid it, and at the moment that doesn’t look likely. She’s leading in both Ohio and Texas in some polls, although in Texas she’s slipped behind Obama in most. If she stays in the race, the ugliness will only increase, and the bitterness will not easily fade.
The Democrats need to overhaul their delegate system, or put the pretense of a popular nomination process aside. They cannot expect people to sit idle as their elected representatives gainsay their will at the ballot box, and the superdelegates won’t stand for it again after this, either. They have to run for re-election in these districts and states, and getting called an “Uncle Tom” doesn’t make for a great campaign slogan.