Who are these idiots?

AFP is reporting that several members of the House of Representatives have asked the UN to send observers to “ensure free and fair elections in America.”
That’s right. Apparently nine representatives (the only one named is the ringleader, Florida representative Eddie Bernice Johnson) of our legislative body believe that the American election system is so flawed that we need the UN (the UN!!!) to babysit.
Representative Johnson explained, “This is the first step in making sure that history does not repeat itself.” The history of what? A Republican being elected president? A Democrat losing?
Even if the US electoral system was as rudimentary and chaotic as that of a third world country, no rational lawmaker would believe the UN could offer any assistance whatsoever. This is just one of many preemptory moves by a certain political party to set up issues before they lose the November election. I can see it all in my mind: Kofi Annan making a fuss about how US elections are so unfair that the winner (Bush) isn’t the legitimate leader of the free world, a Michael Moore “documentary” . . . .
I want to know who the other 8 nitwits are, and I’ll post their names here when I find out.
UPDATE: I did a quick internet search on Eddie Bernice Johnson, and the AFP was wrong. She’s from Texas, not Florida. And she’s a Democrat.

Hugh Hewitt Hacked

Someone has hacked into the Lord High Commissioner’s site and replaced the index file on his server. Fortunately, they didn’t do much except insert a new file that your browser hits before his index file. For the time being, use this URL to access his site:
If you just use the domain name, you will get the hacked page, which is stunning in its lack of imagination. I will make sure to keep you informed as updates occur.
UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt fan Richard Shuford went the extra mile to get the problem fixed:

I called the iPowerWeb technical-support line 888-511-4678 (which is claimed to be answered 24 hours a day), and after about 8 minutes of being on hold, I got to talk to a human.
This support guy was able to restore the home page while I was still
on the line. I asked him to have a system administrator inspect the
webserver machine (one of hundreds that iPowerWeb operates) to make
sure that no underlying technical compromise lingers. Let’s hope
that is the end of the story!

No, Richard, the end of the story is that Hugh’s fans are the best in radio, and we can say that because a number of them locally listen to the Northern Alliance, and we know them pretty well. Thanks for your efforts — you went above & beyond!

Deaniacs Threaten Floor Fight

Supporters of Howard Dean have launched a campaign to get their favorite candidate on the Democratic ticket as John Kerry’s VP, and sent a message to the presumptive nominee — pick our man or watch your unity festival dissolve into a floor fight:

The National Draft Dean for VP Committee has not contacted either Dean or Kerry about its efforts, but it expects to approach the former Vermont governor before Democrats gather in Boston for the convention July 26.
“Howard Dean shifts the dynamics of the race,” said Michael Meurer, co-chairman of the draft committee, who argued that Dean on the ticket would stop progressives from voting for independent candidate Ralph Nader. Dean has shown up on few, if any, lists of serious contenders for the vice presidential nomination. Members of the draft committee say they believe their efforts to persuade Kerry through petitions to choose Dean will prove futile.
So they came up with the idea of forcing a vote at the convention. “We’re gearing up for and we’re resigned to a floor fight,” Meurer said.
At least 300 delegates have to sign a petition to put such a question before the convention; organizers claim they’ve already got 350 firm commitments from delegates to sign on and indications of support from another 150.

Once again, the Deaniacs threaten to undo the Democrats. Howard Dean sounded a discouraging note, at least publicly. Dean said that he “trust[s] him to pick a vice-presidential nominee that will best serve the Democratic Party and the country,” and that he fully supported whoever Kerry chooses. Dean has kept a low profile since flaming out at the beginning of the primaries, trying to allow Kerry to attract as much attention as possible; in other words, he shifted from maverick outsider to team player, up to now.
However, Kerry’s inability to gain traction has clearly worried some Democrats, especially those who remember the Dean days somewhat more fondly now that time has passed. The top candidates for the VP slot do not promise much more magic on the stump, either; Edwards comes closest, but he’s also the least experienced and has even less executive credentials than Kerry. Gephardt and Vilsack promise even less excitement at the convention than Kerry, while Hillary probably brings too much excitement — for Bill, and the last thing Kerry needs at the moment is to get outshined by the Big Me. Deaniacs want that excitement, that good feeling back, and if they don’t get it, they may wreck the nominating party and eliminate the big bounce Kerry needs coming out of it.
The problem for Kerry is that it puts him squarely in the middle once more. In order for the Senate’s most liberal member to attract the important swing voters, Kerry has to select a centrist. However, picking a centrist will, as is obvious now, alienate the Deaniacs who energized the early primaries for the Democrats. Those voters may well wind up giving Nader a very long look, and at the least will be less than fully motivated for the remainder of the campaign season.
The other danger for the Kerry campaign will arise if they start believing their own press releases and operate from the assumption that Kerry actually is a centrist. If that is the case, then Dean may wind up on the ticket — which will combine the least effective campaigners in the party on a ticket that will skew hard left, the wrong direction entirely. A Kerry ticket that runs further to the left with Dean will bring about another Mondale or McGovern fiasco. And with the Deaniacs threatening floor fights, we may wind up seeing not just 1972 but 1968 all over again.
Maybe the networks will change their mind and cover the conventions this year. Unless, of course, Katie Couric has a croquet match on NBC instead.

NBC News: Self-Promotion Tops Historic Events

NBC News still may be wiping the egg off of its face yesterday, when it declined to cover the most important war-crimes effort since Nuremberg in favor of … Katie Couric’s badminton match:

ABC and CNN managed to outhustle their competition yesterday morning and placed the only Western journalists, aside from a news pool reporter, inside the Baghdad courtroom where Saddam Hussein was listening to the charges he will face when he goes to trial as a war criminal.
No network was more red-faced than NBC, which passed up the chance to broadcast, at the same time as every other television news outlet, the first scenes of the former dictator in the courtroom. NBC chose instead to continue a taped interview with the movie star Robert Redford, followed by a live badminton match between Katie Couric, the anchor of the network’s “Today” program, and competitors from the United States Olympic badminton team. …
NBC had no news of the events in the courtroom until after 9 a.m. The network simply passed on the chance to broadcast the video coverage of Mr. Hussein’s court appearance. … Ms. Genelius said CBS gave a two-minute warning to all other television news outlets that the scenes of Mr. Hussein would be transmitted. Every news organization interrupted its other programming to air those scenes at 8:30 a.m., except NBC.

When you wonder at the editorial choices made by the folks at NBC News (which, obviously, includes MS-NBC and CNBC), look no further than this humiliating incident. People still talk about the Heidi Bowl more than 30 years after NBC Sports decided to cut away from a Jets-Raiders football game instead of simply delaying the start of a rerun of a children’s movie, and viewers missed the Raiders’ two touchdowns in the final two minutes to win.
Needless to say, the embarrassment of this decision will be much worse, especially since the programming involved is so inanely self-promotional. Even on a slow news day, what possible public interest could be in watching badminton, and especially involving the overexposed Couric? Even a speech extolling patriotism on the Senate floor by Robert Byrd would hold more entertainment value, and certainly more news value. Seeing one of the most brutal tyrants in recent history haled before a court of his former victims to answer charges of mass murder doesn’t happen more than once or twice in a lifetime.

“We made a bad call,” said Allison Gollust, the spokeswoman for NBC News. … Ms. Gollust said the network had no explanation beyond, “We made a mistake.”

So did your viewers. Fortunately, in the future you will have less of them.

It Depends — Are We Trying A Celebrity?

Houston may have some problems filling a jury pool, but I didn’t think that they were this desperate. Harris County has served a jury summons to Nathan Dale Campbell, who may be less than an ideal candidate for most courts:

Nathan Dale Campbell was first summoned to report for Harris County jury service Monday, but the date was then rescheduled to Aug. 30, said a staffer in the district clerk’s office.
Campbell, 30, was acquitted in 1997 after a jury found he was legally insane when he attacked girlfriend Kristen West the previous year, blinding her in one eye and permanently damaging her sight in the other. Campbell received treatment as an inpatient at the Kerrville State Hospital.
The attack followed West’s refusal of Campbell’s marriage proposal. He said he thought her eyes were demons. … [L]awyers say it’s doubtful he’ll be picked for a panel.

Houston residents will be pleased to note that Campbell is now out of the state hospital and living in the community, although they refuse to say which one. His legal status allows him to serve on a jury, and while it might be a long shot, stranger things have happened. I was around for two trials in LA where a jury couldn’t convict even though the crime was videotaped, and a second one where the perp’s blood was all over the place and still got acquitted. I’d venture to say that both trials had their share of, er, non-linear thinkers on the juries.

Poland: We Found WMD, Bought It Ahead Of Terrorists

More evidence that the WMD we believed existed in Iraq still waits to be discovered, this time from the Poles patrolling in southern Iraq. The AP and the BBC report that the head of Polish military intelligence revealed that Polish troops outbid terrorists for rockets laden with chemical weapons:

Terrorists may have been close to obtaining munitions containing the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin that Polish soldiers recovered last month in Iraq, the head of Poland’s military intelligence said Friday. Polish troops had been searching for munitions as part of their regular mission in south-central Iraq when they were told by an informant in May that terrorists had made a bid to buy the chemical weapons, which date back to Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran in the 1980s, Gen. Marek Dukaczewski told reporters in Warsaw.
“We were mortified by the information that terrorists were looking for these warheads and offered $5,000 apiece,” Dukaczewski said. “An attack with such weapons would be hard to imagine. All of our activity was accelerated at appropriating these warheads.”

The BBC report adds this:

The general said the ammunition had been buried in order to avoid it being discovered by UN weapons inspectors.

Poland purchased seventeen rockets and two mortar shells containing cyclosarin, a derivative of the notorious nerve agent that is five times more powerful than its more well-known cousin. The Poles say the weapons came from a storage bunker in their sector, although they refused to get more specific.
This development coincides with General Richard Meyers’s statement during his interview last night with Hugh Hewitt (transcript here), where the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs affirmed Donald Rumsfeld’s announcement that the number of chemical weapons found has increased:

Hewitt: General Myers, yesterday Secretary Rumsfeld said and Vice President Cheney said it the week before that more warheads containing saran or mustard gas have been discovered in Iraq. Have you seen those reports?
General Myers: Right. I think there were 16 or 17 warheads that were discovered and has been confirmed that they contained both saran, the nerve agent saran and mustard gas and now they are looking the shells to try and determine their age and perhaps where they originated. So, that work is ongoing and I expect further reporting on that.

(By the way, this was a terrific interview — I listened to it twice last night, and you should read the entire transcript.)
It’s now obvious that Saddam held onto his chemical weapons despite all claims that they had been destroyed after the first Gulf War, which demonstrates the folly of UNSCOM inspections. They had twelve years to find this stuff, since the Iraqis continually failed to prove that they destroyed them. Now we know why. Perhaps he manufactured nothing new since then, although I highly doubt that, but his standing inventory provided enough killing power to make Saddam a highly dangerous man.
How much WMD do we need to prove the point? One of these shells would be enough to kill most of the people in my town, and 17 of them would be more than enough to wipe out any American urban center. The Poles worried about their use in Baghdad, but I suspect that had the terrorists made the buy first, they had plans for the weapons in Tel Aviv or Washington, DC.
UPDATE: Sorry, guys, but Miles’s prediction wins out. The two warheads that tested positive for cyclosarin had degraded to the point where they represented no grave threat, according to this statement which the AP quotes from “multinational forces” in Baghdad:

“Those 16 rounds were all empty and tested negative for any type of chemicals,” it said.
Two other warheads found in mid-June were found to contain an insignificant amount of sarin gas. The armaments were left over from the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the statement said.
“Due to the deteriorated state of the rounds and small quantity of remaining agent, these rounds were determined to have limited to no impact if used by insurgents against coalition forces.”

No danger — but also a demonstration that they continued to remain in Saddam’s arsenal long after they were supposed to be destroyed.

Cosby Wasn’t Just Speaking To Blacks

The news media was buzzing last night as Bill Cosby’s caustic address to the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition conference sped around the country. Cosby, who has dropped his normally humorous approach of late and has taken to scolding and shaming audiences, told people that their problems were primarily of their own making, and to quit spouting excuses — lessons that apply far more broadly than most analysts give Cosby credit. Like most outlets, the AP repeatedly emphasized the ethnicity of the attendees:

Bill Cosby went off on another tirade against the black community Thursday, telling a room full of activists that black children are running around not knowing how to read or write and “going nowhere.” He also had harsh words for struggling black men, telling them: “Stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job.”
Cosby made headlines in May when he upbraided some poor blacks for their grammar and accused them of squandering opportunities the civil rights movement gave them. He shot back Thursday, saying his detractors were trying in vain to hide the black community’s “dirty laundry.”
“Let me tell you something, your dirty laundry gets out of school at 2:30 every day, it’s cursing and calling each other n—— as they’re walking up and down the street,” Cosby said during an appearance at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition & Citizenship Education Fund’s annual conference.
“They think they’re hip,” the entertainer said. “They can’t read; they can’t write. They’re laughing and giggling, and they’re going nowhere.”

And so on; Cosby gave plenty more examples of his point, which was that the degradation of culture began in the homes with the parents. Some of his examples were specifically aimed towards the black community, especially in his tirade against the use of the “n-word”, which I find so foul that I refuse to use it even in quotes. Cosby apparently agrees, despite, or perhaps because of, its resurgent popularity:

Cosby lamented that the racial slurs once used by those who lynched blacks are now a favorite expression of black children. And he blamed parents.
“When you put on a record and that record is yelling `n—– this and n—– that’ and you’ve got your little 6-year-old, 7-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car, those children hear that,” he said.

I heard more of that part of his speech on the radio, and while I can’t quite quote Cosby verbatim, he railed about the popularity of a word created by racists who spent decades stringing black Americans up in trees and burning them out of their homes. But beyond this specific point, Cosby could well have been addressing Nob Hill parents, or the PTA meeting at Beverly Hills High School, and on two levels.
The specific cultural degradations to which Cosby referred — a lack of emphasis on child-rearing, the abdication of parental responsibilities, and the failure to hold children and teenagers accountable for their education, dress, speech, and behavior apply to all social and ethnic strata in American life today. Go to the mall and see how our sons and daughters dress in public today. The boys look like hoods, dressed in gangsta chic, where beltless pants droop sometimes below the buttocks and ludicrously large shirts overwhelm narrow shoulders. But the boys are only the secondary issue. Our daughters go to the mall dressed in the same outfits streetwalkers wore ten or fifteen years ago, covered in makeup and showing almost as much skin as at the beach. At the rehearsal for my goddaughter’s confirmation, many of the girls showed up in that mode of dress — in church. I’m not talking about 18- or 19-year olds; these were girls as young as 14, and the ones at the mall get younger than that.
Since when did American parents get so comfortable pimping their daughters out to society?
The verbal skills are not much of an improvement, either. Everything Cosby says about black youths and the English language applies to suburban white and Asian youth as well. Perhaps they all get it from the same source — rap music and the hip-hop culture — but in any event, it’s not an ethnic issue now, if it ever really was. We are raising a generation of verbal illiterates, and I tell you that it’s not an affectation. I interview dozens of people a year for jobs, and I hear more and more of what Cosby describes during these meetings. I sit back in wonder that the applicants haven’t a clue as to the immediate disqualification that creates for customer-service positions.
People can continue to assume that parental abdication and the degradation of our youth is strictly a problem in the black community. A few will take Cosby’s message and use it to bash African-Americans. Even Bill Cosby may have focused on the community closest to his heart in order to wake it up. But we all are deceiving ourselves if we think that his criticisms don’t apply to our entire society.

The Kiss Of Death?

Kofi Annan’s travels in the Sudan took him to a couple of interesting places yesterday, including a camp that disappeared and another where he gave promises that the world has heard before from UN mouthpieces:

There were only donkeys milling around in a soggy, trash-strewn lot on Thursday afternoon when the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, and his entourage arrived at what was supposed to be a crowded squatter camp here in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.
Gone were the more than 1,000 residents of the Meshtel settlement. Gone as well were their makeshift dwellings. Hours before Mr. Annan’s arrival, the local authorities had loaded the camp’s inhabitants aboard trucks and moved them. …
“Where are the people?” Mr. Annan was overheard asking a Sudanese official who was accompanying his tour of Darfur, the region in western Sudan where the government has been accused of unleashing armed militias on the local population to quell a rebel uprising.
Al Noor Muhammad Ibrahim, minister of social affairs for the state of North Darfur, explained that the camp on Mr. Annan’s itinerary no longer existed. He said the government had relocated its residents the evening before, sometime after United Nations officials had paid a visit at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in preparation for a stop by Mr. Annan.
“It’s not because the secretary general of the United Nations is here that we moved them,” Mr. Ibrahim insisted as incredulous United Nations officials looked on.

Annan has toured the Darfur region of the Sudan in order to determine the treatment of refugees firsthand. Earlier reports of rape and sexual barter at the hands of the UN peacekeepers in the Congo have not kept Annan from instead investigating Sudanese atrocities occuring between the Islamists in the north and the ethnic mix of the people in the south. Annan has stopped short of calling the situation “genocide”, even though tens of thousands of people are dying as they are driven off their land, and rape and sexual slavery have become common. Invoking the G-word requires the UN and its member states to take action, and action is anathema to Annan and his coterie of bureaucrats and sycophants.
As the Oil-For-Food program proved, no one gets rich taking action.
Later, after “inspecting” the Incredible Disappearing Camp (with, it should be noted, the Incredible Disappearing Refugees), Annan and his team inspected the Zam Zam refugee camp, which fortunately for all involved still existed. They checked out the well that the UN had installed at the camp and spoke to some of the refugees, despite attempted interference from Sudanese officials who wanted to monitor the conversations.

After much give and take, the authorities agreed but stood nearby as a woman described how 20 camp dwellers had been raped during the attacks on their villages.
Mr. Annan put his hand to his heart and said: “No one is going to force you to go home without security. As long as you’re in this camp, we’ll do everything we can to protect you.”
The women, in unison, praised Allah.

The women of Zam Zam should be speaking to the women of Bunia, or the Muslims of Srebrenica, or the Serbs of Kosovo.

Chinese Continue Their Espionage

The government announced yesterday that it had arrested seven people for the illegal transfer of sensitive military technology and material to the People’s Republic of China through contacts in Hong Kong. The Washington Post reports that the suspects sent systems like smart bombs and electronic warfare equipment to what the suspects had tried to pass off as an American-owned company:

Federal agents arrested seven people yesterday in two suburban New Jersey towns and charged them with exporting millions of dollars’ worth of sensitive military technology and components to China. The arrests were the latest in a crackdown on what authorities believe is a clandestine network purchasing weapons technology across the United States for the communist power.
The men and women arrested yesterday are connected to two companies and are accused of sending the Chinese military several shipments of weapons systems, including radar, smart bombs, electronic warfare and communications equipment. According to the complaints, the items were routed through Hong Kong by various means, and the defendants tried to conceal their activities by identifying the receiver as a U.S. corporation. …
Agents also seized $76,000 in cash during the arrests, at the homes and businesses of the defendants in Mount Laurel and Cherry Hill. All seven defendants made an initial court appearance in Camden, N.J., yesterday and were charged with one count each of conspiracy, wire fraud and violation of the Export Administration Act, which requires exporters of military items to register and obtain a license from the State Department. The charges carry a combined maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and $1.2 million in fines. Five of the suspects are naturalized U.S. citizens of Chinese origin, and two others, also Chinese, are permanent legal residents who risk deportation.

Color me surprised! We managed to let in more people who want to damage the security of the US, only at least this group did it the old-fashioned way rather than the modern method of killing civilians by the thousands. As far as I’m concerned, all seven of them should be deported if found guilty. Receiving naturalization gives no one the right to spy against their adopted country, and applying for citizenship just to get access to sensitive military technology to sell it to those who may use it against us should be grounds for revocation.
I find it interesting that the government has not yet charged them with espionage but instead with more techical felonies regarding technology transfers. As the Post notes, this is one set of arrests in a series of investigations regarding transfers of military secrets to the PRC. Is the State Department putting pressure on Homeland Security to dial down the charges in order to avoid embarrassing the Chinese government by revealing their extensive espionage efforts against America? After all, they appear to be the main customer, and since their military industry remains nationalized, no one can pretend the technology goes anywhere else. Could this be State’s quid pro quo for putting pressure on North Korea?

Richardson: No Thanks

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico publicly withdrew his name from consideration in the Kerry Veepstakes this evening, in a letter sent to Kerry’s campaign office. Richardson, one of the most recognizable Hispanic officeholders in the nation, had originally promised to stay in office for his entire term as governor, he explained:

Richardson said he wants to keep a promise to the people of New Mexico to serve a full, four-year term and noted that Kerry has “numerous experienced and talented leaders” from which to choose a vice presidential candidate.
“It is with that knowledge and comfort that I must tell you that I respectfully remove myself from the selection process and withdraw my name from consideration for the vice presidential nomination,” Richardson said.

I was just discussing Richardson’s potential with the Elder and Saint Paul at Keegan’s this evening, where the duo invited me to fill in on their regular Thursday trivia contests. (We tied for first, but only because we got robbed on a question about filibusters.) Richardson not only brings real centrist credentials, but also critical experience in foreign policy and federal government. Richardson is widely considered to be noncontroversial and intelligent, and his understated speaking style would have provided a nice counterpoint to Kerry’s broad oratorical style. Plus, he would have brought executive experience to the ticket, something Kerry sorely lacks.
Why did Richardson take himself out? You could take his word that he wanted to complete his term, but his constituency would probably not have been all that unhappy to have their state represented in the national election. His tenure at the Energy Department may have had something to do with it, as the Wen Ho Lee investigation was conducted mostly under his watch, as well as the security problems at Los Alamos. I still think he would have easily overcome both issues and could have been formidable as a candidate, and would have been the easy choice to help Kerry capture the Hispanic vote.
Something tells me that he saw something he didn’t like when he met with Kerry. This chance likely won’t come around for Richardson in the future, as either Kerry will be running for re-election in 2008 or Hillary will be running to replace Bush then. Something also tells me, given Richardson’s discretion and demeanor, that we’ll never know for sure.