Taking The Day Off

A bout of insomnia, computer problems, and a busy travel schedule have led to do something I haven’t done in the four years I’ve been blogging — take a day off. I need a recharge of the batteries and preparation for travel tomorrow. I’m going to give the First Mate some undivided attention, because she deserves it.
Have a great day — I’ll be back tomorrow!

The Bookshelf Is Open

One feature at the new Captain’s Quarters has not yet been properly introduced. As part of my work as a blogger and radio host, I interview authors on a regular basis, and I will often include a link to their books. In the previous design, I had a small portion of the sidebar that would show those books and others that I recommend, but it did not get updated very often.
In the new design, we included a page called the Bookshelf. It shows all of the books that I have covered, with links back to Amazon. I participate in the Amazon Associates program, which pays me a small percentage of the sale price on every book sold through this blog. In fact, that’s true for any purchase made at Amazon resulting from a CapQ referral, so I have included a search widget on the page that will allow readers to find and purchase whatever they want through this site. It doesn’t add cost to the products, and it gives me a small revenue stream with which I can support the site.
If you haven’t checked out the Bookshelf yet, click on the link in the header just below the logo and take a look at the recommendations. If you’re going to shop at Amazon for anything, I’d appreciate it if you start your search here and help support the site.

Rutten: Score One For Ahmadinejad

Tim Rutten looks at the arguments from Lee Bollinger’s apologists and finds them unconvincing. Reaching back to Columbia University’s earlier support for fascists, Rutten scores the win for Ahmadinejad for his appearance at the Ivy League academy, and scolds Columbia for giving Ahmadinejad the Western legitimacy he craved (via Memeorandum):

It would be interesting to know if any consideration of these events — and all that followed a decade of engagement and dialogue with fascism — occurred before Columbia extended a speaking invitation to a man who hopes to see Israel “wiped off the face of the Earth,” has denied the Holocaust and is defying the world community in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Perhaps they did and perhaps that’s part of what motivated Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president now, to deliver his extraordinarily ill-advised welcoming remarks to Ahmadinejad.
Bollinger clearly had an American audience in mind when he denounced the Iranian leader to his face as a “cruel” and “petty dictator” and described his Holocaust denial as designed to “fool the illiterate and the ignorant.” Bollinger’s remarks may have taken him off the hook with his domestic critics, but when it came to the international media audience that really counted, Ahmadinejad already had carried the day. The invitation to speak at Columbia already had given him something totalitarian demagogues — who are as image-conscious as Hollywood stars — always crave: legitimacy. Bollinger’s denunciation was icing on the cake, because the constituency the Iranian leader cares about is scattered across an Islamic world that values hospitality and its courtesies as core social virtues. To that audience, Bollinger looked stunningly ill-mannered; Ahmadinejad dignified and restrained.
Back in Tehran, Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leading Iranian reformer and Ahmadinejad opponent, said Bollinger’s blistering remarks “only strengthened” the president back home and “made his radical supporters more determined,” According to an Associated Press report, “Many Iranians found the comments insulting, particularly because in Iranian traditions of hospitality, a host should be polite to a guest, no matter what he thinks of him. To many, Ahmadinejad looked like the victim, and hard-liners praised the president’s calm demeanor during the event, saying Bollinger was spouting a ‘Zionist’ line.”

Rutten and the Los Angeles Times hardly qualify as conservative mouthpieces. Rutten makes a devastating argument against the notion of engagement with oppressive tyrants, or in this case, their mouthpieces. He notes that tyrannies base themselves on will, not intellectual argument, for their use of power. Intellectual challenge does nothing to deflect them from their courses of action — but it does provide an excuse for inaction from free peoples who should know better.
He particularly scolds the media for failing to report properly on Ahmadinejad. The media played up the Bush administration’s various efforts to contain and confront Iran, but managed to play down the irrational messianic nature of the mullahcracy, and Ahmadinejad’s role in it.
Be sure to read the entire essay.

I Hate To Say I Told You So, But ….

… well, I did tell you so. Newt Gingrich has announced through his spokesman that he will not run for President in this cycle. Running American Solutions makes it legally impossible to conduct an exploratory campaign:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will not run for president in 2008 after determining he could not legally explore a bid and remain as head of his tax-exempt political organization, a spokesman said Saturday.
“Newt is not running,” spokesman Rick Tyler said. “It is legally impermissible for him to continue on as chairman of American Solutions (for Winning the Future) and to explore a campaign for president.”
Gingrich decided “to continue on raising the challenges America faces and finding solutions to those challenges” as the group’s chairman, Tyler said, “rather than pursuing the presidency.”
Over the past few months, Gingrich had stoked speculation he might enter the crowded GOP field, despite the seemingly insurmountable challenge of entering the race several months after the other Republicans have been running.

Newt has made clear his dissatisfaction with GOP leadership, especially in his remarks yesterday. People looking for a party’s nomination do not call their consultants stupid and uneducated, nor to they spend their time reaching out to Democrats like Roy Romer. The entire pledge exercise was intended to set so high a bar to his entry that people would finally stop asking him when he would announce his candidacy.
Look for Newt in 2012. He will have his national constituency, a bipartisan reputation, and a record of providing practical solutions over vitriol. He will be positioned as this century’s Teddy Roosevelt.
John at Stop the ACLU is rounding up reactions.

NARN, The Out Of Context Edition

The Northern Alliance Radio Network will be on the air today, with our six-hour-long broadcast schedule starting at 11 am CT. The first two hours features Power Line’s John Hinderaker and Chad and Brian from Fraters Libertas. Mitch and I hit the airwaves for the second shift from 1-3 pm CT, and King Banaian and Michael Broadkorb have The Final Word from 3-5. If you’re in the Twin Cities, you can hear us on AM 1280 The Patriot, or on the station’s Internet stream if you’re outside of the broadcast area.
Today, I’m going to catch up with Mitch on the various topics we’ve missed in the three weeks I’ve been gone from the show. We’ll definitely talk about Newt Gingrich’s Solutions Day, the apparent wave of intellectually dishonest cherry-picking of conservative commentary over the past couple of weeks, the collapse of Democratic opposition to the surge in Iraq, and much much more!
Be sure to call 651-289-4488 to join the conversation!
UPDATE: We also interviewed David Bellavia, author of House to House, an excellent book about his experiences in Iraq, both as a soldier and a journalist. It’s an excellent segment, and it gives a great insight into the mind of the men and women who serve on the front lines. Best sequence: when Mitch asked him what he thought about people who say they support the troops but not the mission, David asked us what we thought about people who say they like us as radio hosts but think our show stinks. Mitch replied that he says, “Thanks for tuning in, Mom!”

Williams Defends O’Reilly, Rips CNN

Juan Williams defends Bill O’Reilly against charges of racism in Time Magazine, and angrily calls out O’Reilly’s critics for calling him an Uncle Tom. He charges those critics with intellectual dishonesty for pulling one quote out of context to reverse what O’Reilly really said — and he also accuses CNN for deliberately misreporting the incident in order to eat into O’Reilly’s substantial ratings lead over CNN.
It’s a media meltdown!

It started with Bill O’Reilly’s grandmother. And it blew up into charges of O’Reilly being called a racist and me being attacked as a “Happy Negro” (read that as a lackey or Uncle Tom). …
So, O’Reilly says to me that the reality to black life is very different from the lowlife behavior glorified by the rappers. He told me he was at a restaurant in Harlem recently and there was no one shouting profanity, no one threatening people. Then he mentioned going to an Anita Baker concert with an audience that was half black, and in sharp contrast to the corrosive images on TV, well dressed and well behaved.
I joked with O’Reilly that for him, a guy from Long Island, a visit to Harlem was like a “foreign trip.” That’s when he brought up his grandma. He said she was prejudiced against black people because she knew no flesh-and-blood black folks but only the one-dimensional TV coverage of black criminals shooting each other and the rappers and comedians glorifying “gangsta” life and thug cool. He criticized his grandmother as irrational for being afraid of people she really did not know.

Just like Bush’s analogy about Nelson Mandela and the Rush Limbaugh controversy, this is another effort to discredit someone by cherry-picking the transcript and stripping something of all context. I don’t even care for O’Reilly’s show. I never watch it unless Michelle Malkin appears on it. I don’t like shoutfests on TV and haven’t gone out of my way to watch them in quite some time. That, however, doesn’t mean that O’Reilly should be pilloried for supposedly saying something almost completely opposite of what he actually said.
Juan Williams goes into far more detail than I will, but essentially, O’Reilly was arguing against the rappers’ defense that they just represent reality in the ‘hood. O’Reilly countered that by relating his experience at a Harlem restaurant and an Anita Baker concert. His supposed “surprise” that black people behave normally was a sarcastic commentary on the “reality” that rappers supposedly relate to their audiences.
Media Matters, which has apparently created an entire division of cherry-pickers, dishonestly claimed that O’Reilly was surprised that black people act normally, and the rest of O’Reilly’s critics followed. Normally, that would only matter in the blogosphere, but CNN decided to play the same intellectually dishonest game, and they’re still playing it.
Last night in the 8 pm ET hour, I watched a segment on CNN where they continued to exploit this story, claiming that O’Reilly wouldn’t come on their show and wouldn’t apologize for what he said. Well, first off, O’Reilly’s show airs live against that time slot, a point which the CNN hosts never mentioned, so he couldn’t possibly join them to discuss it. Second, why should he apologize? He didn’t say anything wrong, as Williams notes in his column.
Even the other people in the airport were scoffing at this. One younger man sitting next to me said, “Wow, CNN must be getting desperate.” Another said, “Isn’t there anything else to talk about?” Not on CNN. They and the Left have to play their intellectually dishonest games, and as Williams points out, make it impossible for anyone to have a constructive conversation about race.

Huckabee Hits The Bush Administration

Mike Huckabee has decided to make a clean break with the Bush administration on foreign policy. In a speech yesterday, Huckabee supported the surge in Iraq but came out against the White House on most other foreign-policy issues, including the conduct of the war on terror:

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee ripped the Bush administration’s war against terrorism Friday, delivering a bold and potentially risky speech that could establish the former Arkansas governor as the maverick among top Republican candidates and test his party’s loyalty to President Bush.
“This administration’s bunker mentality has been counterproductive both at home and abroad,” Huckabee said in opening a broad indictment of Bush’s style and policy.
The speech came after several top Republican candidates started distancing themselves from Bush, vowing change on such issues as illegal immigration and federal spending even as they endorsed Bush’s foreign policy.
By going much further than his rivals have in attacking Bush, Huckabee could draw attention to a campaign that’s inched up in polls in recent months but still lacks the money and organization that can compete head-on with better-known, better-financed candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson.

His speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies puts an interesting twist on Huckabee’s campaign. He’s generally been seen as the most personable candidate of the Republican flock, but perhaps he feels he’s been a little too nice. Huckabee may want to show a little flash and fire to let people know that he’s got enough flint to be a Commander in Chief.
McClatchy’s Steven Thomma believes that Huckabee wants to wrest the “maverick” role away from John McCain, and perhaps some of the straight talk label as well. McCain himself has criticized the Bush administration on foreign policy in the past, but not quite in these terms, and he definitely doesn’t counsel closer relations with the mullahcracy in Iran. Huckabee told the CSIS yesterday that the US could turn Iran away from nuclear weapons through the promise of better relations and economic support.
We have tried that approach in the past, though, and it never works. Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all attempted outreaches to the Iranian mullahcracy, and all efforts failed. The Iranians may have seen al-Qaeda as a Wahhabi threat to its own vision of a Shi’ite Caliphate based in Teheran when it offered to assist us in beating back the Taliban and AQ in Afghanistan, but they have no interest in helping us protect our assets in the Middle East or anywhere else. The fantasy that 9/11 represented a unique opportunity to engage with the Iranian mullahs is just that — fantasy. They want Israel destroyed and the US completely out of southwest Asia and North Africa. That’s their end game, and it won’t change until the Iranian people finally jettison the mullahcracy and replace it with responsible self-government.
His criticism grew especially harsh when he discussed the aborted mission into Pakistan that intended on capturing Ayman al-Zawahiri. Donald Rumsfeld called it off when the support group got so large that it would have required coordination with the Pakistani government. Huckabee promised that he would not have let his Defense Secretary make that call had Huckabee been President. “Did the President even know about it? … When I’m president, I will make the final call on such action, not my secretary of defense.” That one will sting.
We’ll see if it gains Huckabee anything other than headlines. In a general election, these positions would almost certainly boost a GOP nominee. In the primaries, though, it may have the opposite effect.

Taliban Changes Tactics, Karzai Offers A Deal

The Taliban has seen itself decimated in attempting straight-up fights against Western forces. Some have wondered why Mullah Omar doesn’t just adopt the tactics of al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and focus on suicide bombings. Apparently, Omar has decided to do just that, and one of his terrorists killed 30 people in Kabul this morning:

A Taliban suicide bomber wearing an Afghan army uniform set off a huge explosion Saturday while trying to board a military bus in the capital, killing 30 people, most of them soldiers, officials said. Hours later, the Afghan president offered to meet personally with the Taliban leader for peace talks and give the militants a position in government. …
Saturday’s explosion ripped off the roof of the bus and tore out its sides, leaving a charred hull of burnt metal. It was reminiscent of the deadliest insurgent attack in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 — when a bomber boarded a police academy bus at Kabul’s busiest transportation hub in June and killed 35 people.
Dozens of civilians and police officers searched for bodies. Police and soldiers climbed trees to retrieve some body parts. Nearby businesses also were damaged.

The bomber didn’t actually get on the bus. The Afghan military had sent the bus to a local cinema to collect soldiers at the meeting point. They check IDs before allowing people on the bus, and the terrorist detonated his bomb as they completed the security check. It still devastated the bus and the men on and around it.
Hamid Karzai called it “an act of extreme cowardice”. Nonetheless, he again extended an offer of direct talks with Mullah Omar and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to negotiate an end to the conflict, although Omar would have to dump his foreign terrorists first. He even offered to allow them to take ministerial posts in his government if they pledged to eschew violence and work within the new, democratic framework of Afghanistan. “Why are you destroying the country?” he asked them.
Karzai’s performing a high-wire act without a net. If Omar and Hekmatyar agree, Karzai runs the risk of letting the fox in the henhouse. The Taliban did not have a reputation for moderation and inclusion, and allowing them to participate in the governance of Afghanistan would risk another brutal takeover.
On the other hand, Karzai might believe he’s not risking much. Omar has already said that he would not even negotiate unless Karzai sent all of the foreign troops out of Afghanistan. Karzai shrewdly said that he would do so as soon as all of the streets were paved, Afghans had reliable electricity and water, and Afghan security forces could maintain control. Karzai is playing a hearts-and-minds game with Omar, and he’s winning it. As long as Karzai can show that he’s improving the standard of living in Afghanistan and Omar is destroying it, Omar will remain marginalized.
NATO thinks that a large number of Taliban fighters want an end to the conflict. They have become frustrated by the new tactics and the stunningly bad performance of their troops in the field. Karzai, by focusing his words of reconciliation strictly to native Afghans, may have driven a wedge between the rank and file of the Taliban and al-Qaeda’s foreign terrorists. The UN concurs in this analysis, and Karzai wants to take advantage of the opportunity to strip Omar of his tattered army.
It may work. If all Omar has left is a few senior commanders and AQ, he will present little difficluty to Karzai, and Afghanistan can finally focus on rebuilding itself after decades of war and centuries of isolation.

Iraq: We Want American Security Partnership

Iraq plans to propose one final extension to the UN Security Council mandate for the American deployment, the AP reports this morning. After the end of 2008, Iraq wants to directly negotiate a bilateral security arrangement with the US similar to that of Kuwait and Qatar:

Iraq wants the U.N. Security Council to extend the mandate of the 160,000-stong U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq only through the end of 2008, then replace it with a long-term bilateral security agreement, Foreign Ministry officials said Saturday.
Aides to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the mandate extension for the U.S.-led coalition, due to be discussed at the end of this year, would be “the last extension for these forces.”
Iraq would then seek a long-term, bilateral security agreement with the United States like the ones Washington has with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt, he said.
“Iraq needs a new resolution to determine the shape of the relationship between the two countries and how to cooperate with the U.S. forces,” said Labid Abawi, a deputy foreign minister.

The Iraqis want to move beyond what everyone sees as a temporary arrangement to something more permanent with the US. This will effectively take the UN out of the equation, but at the same time, it will give Nouri al-Maliki the initiative to negotiate a draw-down of American forces. That will satisfy demands from the Shi’te coalitions in his government while maintaining enough security to keep Iraq stable.
This could take the pressure off of the Bush administration, too. First, it indicates that the Maliki government has enough confidence in the development of Iraqi security forces that it can rely on them in 2008. It also changes the nature of the debate over the Iraq deployment. Even the Democratic candidates won’t commit to having all of the combat troops out by 2013, but this changes the ground conditions for the debate. If we negotiate a bilateral security agreement on the request of the Iraqis, all of those conditions would get settled in the negotiations, and it will be conditioned on Iraq’s demands.
A bilateral security arrangement will also change the dynamics of the international debate. Our status in Iraq will change from occupation to partner, with Iraqi sovereignty helping to settle the nature of our work. The relationship will resemble that of our other partnerships in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and therefore less open to criticism.
It’s a good development, and it will help reduce the vitriol over our engagement in Iraq. It will also ratify our present security arrangement and help keep the pressure on the terrorists for another year, during which we can hope to break them down completely. This is a positive step forward for both Iraq and the US.

Experience The Adventure Of Travelocity

I’ve found that booking my travel for the blog on Travelocity normally gets me good bargains and excellent adaptability. However, in order to use it properly, one has to focus on the details of the itineraries in order to avoid having unusual adventures. Tonight, I’m learning the lesson the hard way in Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport.
Initially, I wanted to fly back from my Solutions Day trip around midday, and I thought that’s what I’d booked. It would have brought me home in time to do my Heading Right Radio show and then get some rest for more travel. I’ve already booked my flight to DC on Monday for a special event, after which I’ll do my HRR show at the prime-time hour of 9 pm ET to discuss the event, which I can’t talk about at the moment.
However, late last night I realized that I had selected an 11 PM flight for tonight. I had to extend my stay at the excellent and reasonable Hyatt Place Airport hotel for another half-day, and I’ve been here at Hartsfield ever since.
It hasn’t been all bad. I’ve chatted with a few other travelers, done some blogging, and had a drink with my dinner, which is a rare event for me. I don’t usually get a chance to absorb any local flavor in airports, but I did notice that I kept hearing a recognizable voice in a local TV spot for the Atlanta tourism site. After a few (dozen) repetitions, I realized it was Samuel L. Jackson doing the voice-over. I almost expected him to say “Every day is Opening Day in Atlanta …. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would talk bad about Atlanta.” Maybe that wouldn’t have been all that enticing, but it would have been more entertaining than the ubiquitous CNN feed.
I’m here for another couple of hours, and then I’ll finally head home. Next time, I’ll double-check those departure times….