Saturday, October 15, 2005

13 vs 347

Dirty Harry blogged 13 vs 347 - That's the difference between now and January. That's how much better things have gotten. During the Iraq elections last January there were 347 terrorist attacks on voters and polling places. Today there were 13.

It was a glorious day for Democracy in Iraq
I heard this on FOX. I haven't watched the other networks but it will be interesting to see if they report something this signifigant as widely as they do yet another single insignifigant, albeit tragic, car bombing. The liberals are upset today.
Both they, and the MSM, would have much preferred a civil war.
They discovered once again the Iraqi people agree with Bush: That their freedom is worth fighting and dying for. And they proved it by risking death to make a statement. They proved it by creating a remarkable Constitution in ten months -- when it took us years.
And we did not have a super power helping us maintain security, and advising us on how to do it.
The Iraqi people are our allies in the War on Terror. And judging by their grit, restraint in the face of violence for a bigger cause, and bravery, we are lucky to have them. Sorry, liberals, no Civil War here. Move on. Nothing to see. Maybe elsewhere you can propagandize on behalf of mass murderers to hurt the Bush administration, but not in Iraq. Not in Iraq.

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Boycott American Girl

Yahoo! News reported American Girl, manufacturer of a highly popular line of dolls and children's books, has become the target of conservative activists threatening a boycott unless the toy maker cuts off contributions to a youth organization that supports abortion rights and acceptance of lesbians.

That is their right
American Girl, whose often patriotic products have long had a loyal following among conservatives, issued a statement Friday defending its support of Girls Inc. and assailing the protest campaign. "We are profoundly disappointed that certain groups have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts and turn them into a broader political statement on issues that we, as a corporation, have no position,"
Perhaps you should redirect your purely altrusistic efforts to something which is not politically charged.
the statement said.

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Polls Close

NYT reported Iraqis walked through silent streets this morning to begin voting on a new constitution that, if passed, would mark a major step toward the formation of the country's first full-term government since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The voting started hours after Baghdad and parts of southern Iraq began emerging from a blackout caused by a disruption to a northern power line, possibly due to an explosion and perhaps an insurgent act of sabotage.

That had little effect on the voting. After the country's 6,100 polling centers opened their doors at 7 a.m., people began lining up to get the paper ballots, check off "yes" or "no" for the constitution and drop the sheets into boxes. They then stamped their index fingers with purple ink to show they had voted.

"I came to vote for Iraq," said Fayek al-Ani, a businessman in a collared shirt walking into a polling center in downtown Baghdad. "The most important thing is that I came to vote."....

Of course this little boy did not vote,
but he got a blue finger just like his parents

“During the Saddam regime I lost two sons,’’ said Saliema Khidher, 50. “I have only one daughter left, I am here today to vote with yes for the sake of Iraqi people because I consider them my sons. She added: “Even if I have no idea about’’ the constitution, “I would say yes because al-Sistani said yes to it.’’ Saleh Mahdie, 42, a food shop owner, said that even if there were gaps or mistakes in this new constitution “they could fix them, while the chaos we are in, no one could put an end to it, so I say yes to help my country.’’


Good luck to the newest Democracy in the Middle East

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GodBlogCon

FOXNews reported When Johann Gutenberg's printing press began churning out Bibles in the 15th century, the new technology helped usher in a new era of religion in Europe. Nearly 600 years later, some think that increasingly popular Web logs — the Internet's version of personal journals, pamphleteering and issue forums all wrapped in one — combined with traditional religious beliefs could once again take people on a new, uncharted course. In what appears to be a first of its kind, a small evangelical Christian college in Southern California on Thursday will open the God Blog Convention, a conference on Christian blogging.

The convention has its own blog.

LaShawn Barber is live-blogging the convention, and here and here are other live bloggers.

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Pay for Performance

Daniel Henninger wrote in OpinionJournal about how Meadowcliff Elementary School in Little Rock Arkansas city achieved success:

About 80% of Meadowcliff's students in the K-to-5 school are black, the rest Hispanic or white. It sits in a neighborhood of neat, very modest homes. About 92% of the students are definable as living at or below the poverty level, a phrase its principal, Karen Carter, abhors: "I don't like that term because most of our parents work at one or two jobs." This refusal to bend to stereotypes likely explains what happened last year at Meadowcliff.

Students' scores on the Stanford achievement rose by an average 17% over the course of one year. They took the Stanford test in September and again in May. Against the national norm, the school's 246 full-year students rose to the 35th percentile from the 25th. For math in the second grade and higher, 177 students rose to the 32nd percentile from the 14th. This is phenomenal. What happened in nine months?

Meadowcliff has two of the elements well established as necessary to a school's success--a strong, gifted principal and a motivated teaching staff. Both are difficult to find in urban school systems. Last year this Little Rock public school added a third element--individual teacher bonuses, sometimes known as "pay for performance." Paying teachers on merit is one of the most popular ideas in education. It is also arguably the most opposed idea in public education, anathema to the unions and their supporters.

Of course the teachers unions are opposed to merit pay. It would mean they would have to work harder to be paid more.
Meadowcliff's bonus program arrived through a back door.

Karen Carter, the school's principal, felt that her teachers' efforts were producing progress at Meadowcliff, especially with a new reading program she'd instituted. But she needed a more precise test to measure individual student progress; she also wanted a way to reward her teachers for their effort. She went to the Public Education Foundation of Little Rock. The Foundation had no money for her, and the Little Rock system's budget was a nonstarter. So the foundation produced a private, anonymous donor, which made union approval unnecessary.

Together this small group worked out the program's details. The Stanford test results would be the basis for the bonuses. For each student in a teacher's charge whose Stanford score rose up to 4% over the year, the teacher got $100; 5% to 9%--$200; 10% to 14%--$300; and more than 15%--$400. This straight-line pay-for-performance formula awarded teachers objectively in a way that squares with popular notions of fairness and skirts fears of subjective judgment. In most merit-based lines of work, say baseball, it's called getting paid for "putting numbers on the board."

Still, it required a leap of faith. "I will tell you the truth," said Karen Carter. "We thought one student would improve more than 15%." The tests and financial incentives, however, turned out to be a powerful combination. The August test gave the teachers a detailed analysis of individual student strengths and weaknesses. From this, they tailored instruction for each student. It paid off on every level.

Twelve teachers received performance bonuses ranging from $1,800 to $8,600. The rest of the school's staff also shared in the bonus pool. That included the cafeteria ladies, who started eating with the students rather than in a nearby lounge, and the custodian, whom the students saw taking books out of Carter's Corner, the "library" outside the principal's office. Total cost: $134,800. The tests cost about $10,000.

The Meadowcliff bonus program is now in its second year, amid more phenomena rarely witnessed in "school reform." Last year's bonuses were paid for by an anonymous donor; this year the school board voted to put the pay-for-performance bonuses on the district's budget. The Little Rock teachers union thereupon insisted that Meadowcliff's teachers vote for a contract waiver; 100% voted for the waiver. Another grade school, with private funding, will now try the Meadowcliff model.
Oops. I bet the union thought they would turn it down. But it is not the teachers that are opposed to merit pay, it is the unions. I personally think they should cut teachers pay in half, and put the rest of the money into a fund to reward the best teachers. If they did that, I believe that the local governments would find the improvements in test scores was so impressive that they would vote additional money for the award program.

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The Finest Court in the Nation

An OpinionJournal article describes why the Michigan Supreme Court may well be the finest court in the nation, recognizing that the legislature makes laws, and it is just up to the courts to rule on those laws. They also recognize that respect for precedent is basic to the stability and predictability that is a prized achievement of the rule of law; but it can also turn into a rule of unreason, impeding necessary reform, and when it realizes an earlier decision was wrong, the Michigan Supreme Court has been willing to simply admit error and move on. In 1998, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a police officer can be the proximate "cause" of an accident when the driver of a fleeing car hits a third party. In the 2000 ruling in Robinson v. Detroit, it overruled its own precedent (5-2). "This Court has no obligation to perpetuate error simply because it may have reached a wrong result in one of its earlier decisions," wrote Justice Taylor (now chief justice). Elaborating further in Sington v. Chrysler Corp., a 2002 workers' compensation decision, Justice Taylor said: "We believe the constitutional arrangement in our state and nation reposes in the legislative body the role of making public policy. That arrangement is distorted when the judiciary misconstrues statutes. . . . [Upholding precedent here] is flawed because it gives the earlier Court and its judges far too much power--power beyond that which the constitution gave them." In the court's view, deference to precedent should be limited to cases in which reversals would be impracticable and have broad societal impact. While respecting legislative authority, the Michigan Supreme Court does not allow legislative or executive action to violate constitutional rights.

This is EXACTLY what a court should do. They should not legislate from the bench; if a judge wants to make law, he should resign from the bench, and run for the legislature. They should respect prescident, but not be afraid to overturn a bad decision. And while they should be respectful of legislative and executive branch authority, they should not allow legislative or executive action to violate constitutional rights.

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Staged Report

If Michelle Kosinski's canoe had sprung a leak on NBCis Today show Friday, she didn't have much to worry about. In one of television's inadvertently funny moments, the NBC News correspondent was paddling in a canoe during a live report about flooding in Wayne, N.J. While she talked, two men walked between her and the camera _ making it apparent that the water where she was floating was barely ankle-deep.


Matt Lauer struggled to keep a straight face, joking about the "holy men" who were walking on water. "Have you run aground yet?" Katie Couric asked. "Why walk when you can ride?" Kosinski replied. Later, an NBC News spokeswoman explained that Kosinski had been riding in deeper water
Maybe even a foot or two.
near an overflowing river down the street, but there were concerns that the current was too strong for her. "It's not like we were trying to pass it off as something it wasn't," spokeswoman Lauren Kapp said.
Why on earth would we think NBC was trying to fake something? Should we believe you, or our lieing eyes?

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Saturday, October 15

This Day In History

  • 1860   Eleven-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, N.Y., wrote a letter to presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he could improve his appearance by growing a beard.
  • 1892   The U.S. government convinced the Crow Indians to give up 1.8 million acres of their reservation for 50 cents per acre. On this day, by presidential proclamation, the land in the mountainous area of western Montana was opened to settlers.
  • 1905   President Grover Cleveland wrote an article for "Ladies Home Journal", joining others in the U.S. who opposed women voters. The president said, “We all know how much further women go than men in their social rivalries and jealousies... sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.”
  • 1914   The Clayton Antitrust Act was passed.
  • 1917   Mata Hari, a Dutch dancer who had spied for the Germans, was executed by a firing squad outside Paris.
  • 1939   New York Municipal Airport, later renamed La Guardia Airport, was dedicated.
  • 1945   The former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed.
  • 1946   Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.
  • 1951   The situation comedy ''I Love Lucy'' premiered on CBS.
  • 1966   President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill creating the Department of Transportation.
  • 1969   Peace demonstrators staged activities across the country, including a candlelight march around the White House, as part of a moratorium against the Vietnam War.
  • 1976   In the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.
  • 1989   Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings surpassed Gordie Howe's NHL scoring record of 1,850 points in a game against the Edmonton Oilers.
  • 1990   Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1990   South Africa's Separate Amenities Act, which had barred blacks from public facilities for decades, was scrapped.
  • 1991   The Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, 52-48.
  • 1993   Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid.
  • 1997   British Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green twice drove a jet-powered car in the Nevada desert faster than the speed of sound, shattering the world's land-speed record.
  • 1999   The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 2001   ABC said the infant son of a news producer in New York had developed skin anthrax.
Happy Birthday To
  • 70 B.C.   Virgil (poet: The Aeneid; died Sep 21, 19 B.C.)
  • 1844   Friedrich Nietzsche (philosopher: “Plato was a bore.”; The Birth of Tragedy, Thoughts out of Season, Human, All Too Human, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, On the Genealogy of Morals, Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist; died Aug 25, 1900)
  • 1858   John L. Sullivan (International Boxing Hall of Famer: World Heavyweight champion [1881-1889], Marquis of Queensbury Champion [1885-1892]; last bareknuckle championship fight [75 rounds in 1889]; actor: The Great John L. Sullivan, vaudeville; died Feb 2, 1918)
  • 1908   John Kenneth Galbraith (economist; author)
  • 1917   Arthur (Meier) Schlesinger Jr. (Pulitzer Prize-winning author/historian)
  • 1924   Lee (Lido) Iacocca (mechanical engineer, automobile executive: chairperson of Chrysler Corporation, president of Ford Motor Company; author: Iacocca; chairperson: centennial rehabilitation of Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island foundation)
  • 1937   Linda Lavin (Tony Award-winning actress: Alice)
  • 1942   Penny (Carole) Marshall (actress: Laverne & Shirley)
  • 1954   Tanya Roberts (Leigh) (actress: Charlie’s Angels)
  • 1959   Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York: ‘Fergie’)
  • 1959   Emeril Lagasse (celebrity chef, TV host)

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Friday, October 14, 2005

One Senator's power

Robert Novak wrote in http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/robertnovak/2005/10/13/171090.htmlTownhall .... The 17th-century Polish institution of the liberum veto, where objection by one deputy in Poland's Diet could defeat any proposal, lives in spirit in today's U.S. Senate. Voinovich, a two-term senator after serving as mayor of Cleveland and governor of Ohio, let it be known last week that he was changing his vote from "present" to "no" on Bolton. That means the nomination will not even get out of committee to face a filibuster on the Senate floor.

That is a problem with RINOs.
That rules out even bringing up Bolton's renomination in committee. Voinovich's problems with Bolton began last May when he wandered into a Foreign Relations Committee hearing and swallowed whole Democratic deconstruction of Bolton orchestrated by Sen. Christopher Dodd. The White House had expected any Bush U.N. nominee to face confirmation trouble prior to the 2004 election. But the president named John Danforth, a prestigious former U.S. senator, for a five-month U.N. stint to avoid a campaign deluge. Bolton's long record of criticizing Fidel Castro made him a special target of Dodd, a champion of "normalizing" U.S.-Cuban relations. But why did Voinovich heighten his opposition? Serving under a recess appointment, Bolton has gotten high marks at the United Nations, as he has in previous government positions. One old hand in the U.S. Mission at Turtle Bay told me that while Bolton can be "blunt," he is smart, very well informed and faithfully follows instructions from Washington. Voinovich declined to talk to me about why, in the face of that record, he has lowered his opinion of Bolton. Fellow Republican senators who have asked him have received no explanation.
Unfortunately he was up for election in 2004, so he will not face the voters again until 2010
Being a U.S. senator means never having to explain yourself. No wonder respectable citizens flinch at accepting a job that subjects them to senatorial mercy.

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Bush to poor: Drop dead?

Larry Elder wrote in Townhall President George W. Bush, according to Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., doesn't care about the poor.

Dems frequently say things that have no basis in fact
.... Since Bush took office, according to the Heritage Foundation, federal anti-poverty spending -- including Medicaid, food and nutrition programs, housing, earned income tax credit and child credits, plus other programs -- increased 42 percent. This is nearly double the rate of increase under President Clinton. Some critics claim increased poverty has driven up poverty costs. But poverty rates have increased less than 1 percent under Bush, and remain lower than the average poverty rates under Clinton.

Bush doesn't care about the poor? Let us count the ways.
  • Education: Under No Child Left Behind, Bush increased federal spending on education -- in inflation-adjusted dollars -- from 2001 to 2005 by 38 percent.
    And if the teachers had embraced the program, and improved the job they were doing, rather than fighting it every step of the way, I am sure even more money would have gone into it.
  • Job TrainingCommunity Service: The budget of the Corporation for National and Community Service -- which includes funding for former President Bill Clinton's pet project, AmeriCorps -- grew by an inflation-adjusted 76 percent from 1995 to 2005.
  • Health Care: The federal share of Medicaid, the joint federal/state program, increased from $129 billion in 2001 to $176 billion in 2004, a 36 percent increase, averaging over 10 percent a year. Health research and regulation funding has gone from $42 billion in 2001 to $63 billion in 2004, a 48 percent increase.
  • Faith-based Initiatives: Tracking of faith-based spending only began in 2003, and was not broken out separately before then. Under President Bush, 600 religious organizations received federal grants for the first time in 2003 and 2004, and faith-based groups received 8 percent of available social service grants in 2003, and 10 percent in 2004.
  • SBA Loans: The Small Business Administration provided twice as many loans in 2004 than it did in 2001, providing over $19 billion in loans and venture capital to almost 88,000 small businesses.
  • Homeownership: Half of all minority households are homeowners, an all-time high.
    And owning your own home can mean everything.
    In 2002, Bush vowed to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million families by 2010. Bush pushed for programs on down payment assistance, and called for increased funding for housing counseling services.
But, Bush doesn't care about the poor.

There's a saying: We don't care how much you know, until we know how much you care. If one measures compassion by "outreach," the president placed more minorities and women in his government and with power positions than any president before him. If one measures compassion by spending, the president owes no one an apology.

None of this matters, of course, as long as you're a Republican. If "love means never having to say you're sorry," being a Republican means always having to say it.

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Religion in Iraq

Bilal Wahab wrote in National Review Online As Iraqis prepare for a referendum on their controversial new constitution, many Americans have voiced concerns about the possible emergence of a theocratic state there, in which unelected clerics control the country’s politics. The real danger in the Iraqi constitution, however, doesn’t lie in the power it confers on religion over the state; rather, it is the power that it confers on the state over religion.

That sounds like unelected judges here in the USA finding some sort of Separation of Church and State in our Constitution, which does not contain that phrase anywhere in it, and the phrase comes from a letter Jefferson wrote to a Baptist group assuring them the Constitution would not hurt them.
The manipulation of religion for political ends remains the leading problem in the modern Middle East — and the central challenge for today’s Muslims. Islamic extremists — most notably, al Qaeda and its ideological affiliates — have cloaked their totalitarian lust for power in the language of faith, but the problem is by no means limited to Osama bin Laden. For decades, “secularism” in both dictatorships like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and mere authoritarian regimes like Egypt has meant extensive state regulation of religion and people’s faith. For these “secular” governments, independent religious institutions represent a threat to their rule; subservient institutions, in turn, can be manipulated to legitimize their political actions. In this sense, extremist Islamists are actually not so different than the secular despots they yearn to overthrow; both sides view religion first and foremost as an instrument of power and only secondarily as an individual faith.
Something not supported by the Koran.
In the case of Iraq, the political attempt to “own” Islam can be traced to the British Mandate following World War I and the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The British, eager to consolidate their hold in Mesopotamia, created a ministry of religious affairs in Baghdad, through which the state could “manage” Islam. In the modern Muslim world, “secularism” thus came to mean, strangely enough, that religion was a governmental, rather than civic, affair. State funds were used to build mosques and pay clerics’ salaries. And as government workers, clerics had to teach and preach what their employer wanted.
They need a true separation of mosque and state,
Under Saddam, for instance, a cleric’s failure to praise Iraq’s supreme leader in any Friday sermon would inevitably lead to his dismissal or imprisonment. Clerics, in fact, received weekly and monthly memos "advising" them on appropriate themes for their remarks. The government even began to determine which religious rituals would be allowed to be celebrated. It was not a coincidence that Iraq seldom celebrated the Fitr and Adha feasts on the same day
I am not surprised. Eid Al Fitr is the end of Ramadan and Eid-al-Adha is the end of the Pilgrimmage to Mecca
with Iran during its war with Tehran, or with Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War. Even the lunar calendar became a prison to geopolitics.

After the Kurdish uprising in 1991 and the establishment of a de facto autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, similar practices continued. The ministry of endowment and Islamic affairs kept paying clerics their salaries and in turn buying their allegiance, less in support of any Kurdish “national” interest but rather, in a contest between the two main political factions vying for control of the territory. During the civil war between the Kurdistan Democratic party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the mid-1990s, many clerics offered their religious blessing to whichever side was paying their salary. As power swung from one party to the other, the winner would fire unsupportive clerics.

This unfortunate dynamic has led Iraqi religious sects today to take a radical opposite stand in drafting the new constitution. Shias have imposed more sectarian rights and Sunnis, in reaction, have circled around their clerics. And this worries Kurds, since religion was often a Saddamian pretext under which they were oppressed. Thus, the abnormal relation between the state and religion will continue, harming both.

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Newt Gingrich Considers Run for President

Yahoo! News reported Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday he might run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 — unless some candidates promote his ideas. "There are circumstances where I will run," Gingrich told a news conference before a speech at the University of Mobile. Earlier this year, in an interview with The Associated Press, Gingrich said, "Anything seems possible." Asked under what circumstances he would enter the race, Gingrich, 62, said he plans to continue traveling the United States talking about the issues. "My hope is that five or six candidates are going to jump up, steal all of my ideas, and I will be able to relax and go golf," he said.

If you can come up with something like the Contract For America, go for it

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Al Qaeda in Iraq says Zawahri letter is fake

Yahoo! News reported Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq on Thursday rejected as a fabrication a letter by a top group leader that was issued by U.S. officials and suggested deep internal rifts among militants.

If the letter is fake, does this mean it is ok for you to continue your war on the Shi'ites.

InTheBullpen blogged It must be fake because they don’t know where it came from or how it was found. It is well known that Al Qaida in Iraq controls every courier in Iraq therefore it would have been impossible for the courier to be captured and for the group not to know. Couriers cannot blend in with 20 million people because they hold a letter out high at all times. Heh.

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Iraq Insurgents Attack Sunni Party Office

Yahoo! News Sunni insurgents launched five attacks against the largest Sunni Arab political party on the eve of Iraq's crucial referendum Friday, bombing and burning offices and the home of one of its leaders in retaliation after the group dropped its opposition to the draft constitution.

Killing your own people because of what they said; that is a good way to get the people to support you. NOT!!!
The reprisals came as Sunni and Shiite clerics gave their last advice to their followers in sermons during weekly Friday prayers — a key political platform. Shiite imams transmitted the word of the majority community's most powerful cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani: Go to the polls and vote "yes." The message among the Sunni Arab minority was more muddled after the Iraqi Islamic Party threw its support to the constitution after last minutes amendments were made to the draft in an attempt to assuage Sunni objections ahead of Saturday's referendum. In Tikrit, addam Hussein's hometown north of Baghdad, the preacher at the main mosque denounced the Islamic Party, saying it "broke the nationalist ranks in return for nothing."
Actually the got quite a lot. The Sunnis were stupid to boycott the eletions in January. They now have the ability to vote in December and modify aspects they dont like. What does a 20% minority expect.
Sheik Rasheed Yousif al-Khishman told worshippers at Tikrit's al-Raheem mosque to vote against the "infidel constitution written by foreign hands."
Actually the Constitution was written by Iraqi that were elected in January. The "foreign hands" persuaded them to make changes to give Sunnis elected in December to seek changes.
Mosques throughout the town told people to cast "no" votes and warned "anyone who does not go to the polls is not considered a Sunni."

CQ blogged My prediction is that the constitution will only lose in the Baghdad province, and otherwise find overwhelming acceptance nationwide with a voter turnout of over 10 million.

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Friday, October 14

This Day In History

  • 1066   Normans under William the Conqueror defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings.
  • 1890   Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, was born in Denison, Texas.
  • 1912   Theodore Roosevelt, campaigning for the presidency, was shot in the chest in Milwaukee. He went ahead with a scheduled speech.
  • 1933   Nazi Germany announced it was withdrawing from the League of Nations.
  • 1944   German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel committed suicide rather than face execution for allegedly conspiring against Adolf Hitler.
  • 1947   Air Force test pilot Charles E. Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier as he flew the experimental Bell X One rocket plane over Edwards Air Force Base in California.
  • 1960   Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy suggested formation of a Peace Corps during a talk at the University of Michigan.
  • 1968   The first live telecast from a manned U.S. spacecraft was transmitted from Apollo 7.
  • 1977   Singer Bing Crosby died at age 73.
  • 1986   Holocaust survivor and human rights advocate Elie Wiesel was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1990   Composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein died at age 72.
  • 1991   Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1994   Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shared the Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms.”
  • 1998   Federal authorities charged Eric Robert Rudolph, one of FBI's 10 most-wanted fugitives, with the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
  • 2001   Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's office was quarantined after an anthrax-tainted letter was opened.
  • 2002   An FBI analyst was killed in a mall parking lot in Falls Church, Va., by a single bullet to the head in another shooting linked to the Washington-area sniper.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1644   William Penn (colonist: founded the colony of Pennsylvania as a haven for Quakers; died July 30, 1718)
  • 1890   Dwight David Eisenhower (5-star U.S. army general: Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II; 34th U.S. President [1953-1961]; married to Mamie Doud [two sons]; nickname: Ike; died Mar 28, 1969)
  • 1893   Lillian Gish (de Guiche) (actress: Birth of a Nation, Orphans of the Storm, Sweet Liberty, A Wedding, The Whales of August; died Feb 27, 1993)
  • 1894   e e cummings (Edward Estlin Cummings) (poet, playwright: Him, Santa Claus; writer: The Enormous Room; died Sep 3, 1962)
  • 1916   C. Everett Koop (U.S. Surgeon General [1981-1989]; Director of Office of International Health [1982]; Senior Scholar: C. Everett Koop Institute at Dartmouth College)
  • 1927   Sir Roger (George) Moore (actor: The Saint, Maverick)
  • 1939   Ralph Lauren (Lifshitz) (fashion designer: Polo clothes)
  • 1940   J.C. (Jesse Carlyle) Snead (golf: 22-year PGA Tour pro; Senior PGA Tour [1990]; career winnings total $5,000,000+)

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

How much blame does Gov. Blanco deserve?

Lisa Myers writes on MSNBC How much blame does Gov. Blanco deserve? - Critics say she was slow to respond as Katrina came ashore

It was Gov. Blanco's first big disaster — and less than 48 hours before Katrina hit, she reassured the state. "I believe we are prepared," she said in Jefferson Parish on Aug. 27. "That's the one thing that I've always been able to brag about."

Had she ever read the New Orleans plan here, and the State of Louisiana plan here and here. If so why were they not followed?
Though experts had warned it would take 48 hours to evacuate New Orleans, Blanco did not order a mandatory evacuation that Saturday. "We're going to pray that the impact will soften," she said.
Prayer is always good, but so is action.
Blanco and the mayor waited until Sunday, Aug. 28 — only 20 hours before Katrina came ashore — to order a mandatory evacuation, the first of what disaster experts and Louisiana insiders say were serious mistakes by the governor.
An evacuation that was to take 48 hours issued 20 hours before Katrina came ashore. Gee, I wonder why it did not work.
"It certainly appeared that there was a lot of indecisiveness exhibited by the governor in the early stages of the disaster," says Louisiana State Democratic Senator Donald Cravins. A key criticism: the governor's slowness in requesting federal troops. She told the president she needed help,
But would not give him the authroity to send in troops.
but it wasn't until Wednesday, Aug. 31 that she specifically asked for 40,000 troops. That day, in a whispered conversation with her staff caught on camera, the governor appears to second-guess herself. "I really need to call for the military," Blanco tells an aide. "Yes you do, yes you do," is the reply. "And I should have started that in the first call," Blanco adds.
You certainly should have.
Another key mistake, experts say, was Blanco's lateness in getting the Louisiana National Guard, which she commands, on the streets to try to establish security. "It would have been better if it had happened sooner," says Jane Bullock, a former FEMA official during the Clinton administration. And remember the chaos at the Convention Center? We now know there were at least 250 guardsmen deployed in another part of that building. But they were engineers, not police, so they were not ordered to help restore order or even to share their food and water.
They would not let the Red Cross bring in food and water, because it would have encouraged people to stay in the Superdome. The same is probably true about the Convention Center.
"I think we would have hurt a lot of people if we'd tried to take that on," says Dough Mouton, commander of the Louisiana National Guard's 225th Engineering Group. The governor would not say whether she made the decision not to use those troops and tells NBC News her state's response to Katrina was "very well planned and executed with great precision and effectiveness." "How can any governor argue that they have done what they can do when people were left on an interstate without food and water for a week?" asks Roy Fletcher, a Louisiana political consultant. The governor has said she takes responsibility for what went wrong, but insists her biggest mistake was believing FEMA officials who told her help was on the way.
She should have first used the resources at her disposal, such as the 600 buses

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Stop Paying For The Secularization of America

Danny Carlton blogged U.S. Representative John Hostettler has introduced legislation which seeks to prevent the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) from collecting millions of dollars in court awards when they seek to remove symbols of the Christian faith from society.

The Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005 (H.R. 2679) would prevent secular organizations from collecting attorney fees after suing communities to remove memorial crosses, Ten Commandments displays, or any other vestige of the Christian faith. The legislation reads, “The remedies with respect to a claim under this section where the deprivation consists of a violation of a prohibition in the Constitution against the establishment of religion shall be limited to injunctive relief.”


Our tax system has provisions for things to be made tax deductable, and if you are in a 35% bracket you save 35% of your donation from your taxes. It also has tax credits, which completely deduct from your taxes. I wish he would add a provision to say that a donation to the ACLU makes a 1000% tax debit, i.e. for every $1 you donate to the ACLU, it will RAISE your taxes by $10.

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Hooah Wife's Blogiversary

Hooah Wife is celebrating her first Blogiversary.

Happy Blogiversary

She is running an Open Trackback Post to celebrate

The Political Teen is also celebrating his first Blogiversary. I served as a Guest Blogger on his site one time when he had to go on a retreat.

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Fear of Funning

Michael Ledeen wrote in National Review Online Now that the president has (finally) conceded that (most of) our enemies in the Middle East are actually fanatical Muslims, he should realize that his initial intuition about the war on terrorism — that we are fighting tyrannical regimes and their murderous footsoldiers — was correct. And this, in turn, should encourage him to unleash our greatest weapon: the people who live there. The tyrannical Islamofascists obviously despise and dread their people; otherwise they wouldn’t be constantly seeking new ways to make sure there is no independent thought and certainly no independent action.

Certainly not. Someone might read the Koran and see what it really says.
All those madrasas, for example, are extended experiments in what used to be called "rote learning." The children sit around and memorize the Koran and the sayings of the prophet, blessings be upon him. But, unlike the schools in the civilized world, nobody ever asks anybody else what he thinks about anything.
This is unlike public schools in the US which dont require memorization, but just tell the kids what to think, from a left wing point of view. But even they are not encouraged to think for themselves, unless it is to reject values their parents try to teach them.
In a world like that, several things happen. Above all, creative activity ceases to exist, since culture depends on advancing knowledge and improving understanding. Neither of these interests the clerical fascists who rule the terror countries. They want good little Muslim androids, who will accept the preposterous belief that all knowledge was acquired several centuries ago and that man’s only worthwhile intellectual activity is to imbibe that knowledge in order to recite it when called for.

The most devastating critique of such a system is laughter, which the leaders of the terror regimes can not and dare not tolerate. Laughter bespeaks fun, and fun is totally forbidden.
Laughter is also a good weapon to use against them. When they say what they think, just laugh at them. When they get mad, laugh harder.
Remember the Taliban, from whose caves Osama bin Laden and his merry band of killers emerged about ten years ago? They not only locked away all the women, they banned music. Some French film producer went all over Afghanistan, filming eerie landscapes featuring poles driven into the ground, wrapped with audio tape. The only sound was the rustling of the tape in the wind. This was the country in which Osama et al. found the perfect atmosphere for their preparations for the jihad.

In like manner, the Saudi religious police, a couple of years ago, refused to let female students escape from a burning building because they were improperly dressed. They burned to death. In like manner, the mullahs are increasing the power of the basij, their own religious police, to enforce the dress code on women and to prevent couples and groups from having fun. The tragicomic efforts of the terror masters to eliminate fun from public life tells us everything we need to know about the kind of world they will inflict on those whom they defeat in combat.
A very dark world.
If our reporters and editors had any real interest in giving their readers a full picture of the war in which we are engaged, there would be much more reporting on the relentless crackdown on fun. But they rarely give us the whole context, nor, unaccountably, does the Bush administration, which for the past several years has tiptoed delicately around the nature of most of the Islamic regimes. And so we have to rely on blogs and on such publications as MEMRI.

The October 7 MEMRI report entitled "Anti-Soccer Fatwas Led Saudi Soccer Players to Join the Jihad in Iraq" is a classic of the "you couldn’t invent this sort of thing" sort. Even Charlie Chaplin couldn’t have found anything at once so dreadful and so hilarious as the story told originally by the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan. It turns out that a "religious authority" by the name of Sheikh Abdallah Al-Najdi had issued a fatwa back in late August, warning the faithful that soccer was a creation of the infidel Christians and Jews, and was thus to be avoided, unless the rules were changed. It was not permissible to play for the fun of it, but only to harden the body in preparation for jihad.

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Ramadan Greetings: ‘Go get the infidels!’

Steven Stalinsky wrote in JWR Holiness breeding hatred? A look at Muslim messages to the masses sans spin - Every year since September 11, 2001, there have been threats of potential Al Qaeda attacks during the month of Ramadan. This year is no exception, as there have been reports of an all encompassing "Great Ramadan Offensive," warnings of potential attacks on the subway system of New York, and an attack in Bali aimed at Western tourists. Each year has also seen Al Qaeda releasing communiqu├ęs associated with jihad during this holiday.

During Ramadan Muslems are supposed to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, backbiting, and are meant to try to get along with each other better than normal. I guess that does not apply to Islamofascists that have hijacked Islam
In Ramadan 2004, the 27th issue of Sawt Al-Jihad, an internet journal affiliated with Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, included articles devoted to jihad during Ramadan. The opening editorial stated: "Muslims! Go out to [fight] Jihad for the sake of Allah! Paradise has already flung open its gates and the virgins of paradise are already decked out in anticipation of their grooms…You should at the very least pray for your brothers the Jihad fighters, who gave their lives… in revenge for the pride of the Muslim nation that was wounded by the cross bearers and… Jews."....
If you dont believe there will be 72 virgins waiting for you when you are killed, at least pray for those stupid enough to believe it
Sheik Aamer Bin Abdallah Al-Aamer wrote another editorial in the Al Qaeda journal stating: "Men of Jihad, this is your festive season since Jihad, in a state of fasting, has a particularly delectable taste for the believers… wonderful it is to delight in the breaking of the fast and to taste the killing of infidels, to delight in the sound of the wailing of tyrants and lowly degenerates… [This is a] month of fighting, of self-sacrifice, of military victories, of the victory of religion and the humiliation of the infidels. The most courageous and finest forays took place in Ramadan…"
Actually it is a month of fasting, and the only jihad is supposed to the struggle within oneself to be a better Muslim, not to kill others
"Allah promises [the Muslims] Paradise, and to you he has promised defeat… Oh community of Americans, we repeat for the thousandth time: leave our lands and stop supporting the Jews, otherwise men faithful to their vow to Allah will come upon you [to martyr themselves]…'"
Leave our lands, so we can take over and establish our Caliphate
It should be expected that during the rest of Ramadan this year, the main Islamist sermons and jihadi Web sites will continue to incite to attacks, particularly against Americans.

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Let This Leak Go

Richard Cohen wrote in WaPo The best thing Patrick Fitzgerald could do for his country is get out of Washington, return to Chicago and prosecute some real criminals. As it is, all he has done so far is send Judith Miller of the New York Times to jail and repeatedly haul this or that administration high official before a grand jury, investigating a crime that probably wasn't one in the first place but that now, as is often the case, might have metastasized into some sort of coverup -- but, again, of nothing much. Go home, Pat..... This is why I want Fitzgerald to leave now. Do not bring trivial charges -- nothing about conspiracies, please -- and nothing about official secrets, most of which are known to hairdressers, mistresses and dog walkers all over town. Please, Mr. Fitzgerald, there's so much crime in Washington already. Don't commit another.

The Left Side of the Blogosphere does not agree. They are not sure exactly what they expect Fitzgerald to be able to prove, but they are so filled with hatred that they hope he can find something to pin on someone.

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Stop Louisiana's money grab

Terence Jeffrey wrote in Townhall When I interviewed Mississippi's Republican Gov. Haley Barbour for last week's Human Events, my first question offered him an opportunity to criticize how the government of neighboring Louisiana had responded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Barbour diplomatically declined to take it. Noting that former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown had defended himself in congressional testimony by arguing that Louisiana was "dysfunctional," while "the system worked in Mississippi and Alabama," I asked Barbour if he agreed. "Well, I don't know anything about Louisiana," he said. "So, I'm not knowledgeable to comment about there." But later in our conversation when I brought up the $250 billion federal aid package proposed for Louisiana by that state's senators, Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, and David Vitter, a Republican, Barbour was incredulous.

He is not the only one. Even the Washington Post called her a Looter for the rediculous proposal. See here and here
"I don't know much about their proposal," he said. "However, I don't think the cost of relief, recovery and rebuilding will be anything like that amount. That seems to me very excessive. We are trying to project what the costs would be here, and it is a small fraction of that." In fact, Barbour said Mississippi now estimates the total federal share of rebuilding Katrina-damaged areas of his state will be "well under $50 billion," and that the best estimate puts it "in the low $30s."
That is because he does not have a bunch of dishonest politicians in his state whose palms need to be greased.
This is despite massive destruction in Mississippi. According to Barbour, 47 of the state's 82 counties have been declared major disaster areas. Forty percent of Mississippi families have applied for disaster assistance. And it isn't as if Barbour is trying to short-change his state of its share of federal aid. The Stafford Act calls for the federal government to pay 75 percent of the cost of rebuilding hurricane-damaged public infrastructure, such as highways, sewers and ports. But Barbour would like the federal share to be even larger. "As I understand it," he said, "there have been 90-10 splits in the past, and that's what we would like to see."
Even that is better than the greedy Landrieu, who wanted 100% and wanted funding in amounts far higher than it would take, and funding for things not damaged by the Hurricane or the flooding.
Yet, Barbour vows Mississippi will not squander federal funds, and his record as governor suggests he will be good to his word. Before Katrina, Mississippi was budgeted to spend 1.75 percent less in nominal dollars this year than it did last year. "We need the federal government's help," said Barbour. "At the same time, we are going to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money, and we are not going to try to use this as a way to gouge taxpayers."
Barbour should get the money he needs, and Louisiana should get nothing.
Louisiana has 4.5 million people; Mississippi, 2.8 million. Louisiana's gross state product (as calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $152 billion last year, twice Mississippi's $76 billion. Even so, it is hard to imagine that the value of the damage done to Louisiana so far outstrips the damage done to Mississippi that Louisiana needs five to eight times the $30-$50 billion in federal aid that Mississippi needs.

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Such brilliant, substantive journalists

Tony Blankley wrote in Townhall During the Reagan years, and even during the Gingrich years, the central complaint about the mainstream media by conservatives was that they misrepresented the substance of our policy proposals. A 4.5 percent budget increase (after adjusting for inflation and the size of the beneficiary class) of the hot lunch program was characterized by the media as a cruel cut

Because the increase was not as much as they would have preferred to see.
in the program that would leave poor little children hungry and with empty tummies, thus causing empty minds. (The second part was true, but that was due to the damage caused by National Education [SIC] Association -- not the government-provided nutrition programs.) A guarantee that the current traditional Medicare program would remain available for any beneficiary who wanted to participate in it was called an end to such benefits.
Because some might have elected to go with an alternative they were offerred.
Increases in spending were called cuts. Guarantees were called broken commitments. Reagan's war efforts to defeat communism and create democracies in Central America were called support for fascism and brutal right-wing regimes.
Since the left wing press was not disturbed by the regimes, they assumed anyone wanting to change them must be to install fascist regimes.
(Funnily, the effect of his "support of fascism" resulted in an unprecedented blossoming of democracies in Central America.) Oh, for the good old days. Then, at least the media cared about the substance of our proposals -- even if they lied about them.
They had to lie about them, because they were in the Dem's pocket, but the Dems had ideas of their own back then; now all they know is they hate Bush.
(Of course they also calumniated the personalities of conservative leaders, but that was only part of the coverage. We should have been grateful.) Today, big media has lost interest in policy substance almost altogether. Analyses of major policy announcements are viewed, almost exclusively, through the prism of polling numbers.
And they run their own polls, and control the questions, so the poll will show what they want it to show.
If the president were to call for two plus two to equal four, the media would report that such a proposal had the support of only 42 percent of likely voters, and a slippage of even conservative support from 87 percent to 63 percent. Perhaps on the jump page, in the 38th inch of the story in the New York Times, they might get around to quoting a professor of mathematics from MIT to the effect that, in fact, the president was right that two plus two still equals four. But for television and radio break news, the story would end at the polling result, which is bad news for the president. What brings this melancholy observation to mind was the grotesque non-reporting of President Bush's arguably historic remarks last week concerning the nature of the enemy in the "War on Terror," that until last week was the enemy of which we dared not mention the name. For the first time the president of the United States named the enemy: "islamfascist" and "radical, militant Islam."
Are you surprised they did not report that? They could not rebut those definitions, which everyone knows are true, and they could not get a poll to show they did not agree. So they just did not report it.
He compared it to the Nazi and communist ideological threat of the previous century. I and others had been calling for precisely such language. From what one had heard, there had been a powerful debate going on within the administration for over six months on the advisability of such verbal boldness. So long as political correctness blocked even the president from naming the enemy, he -- or future presidents -- would be unable to provide leadership to the nation. If a president could not name the enemy, how could he provide the vital war leadership of explaining the danger and advising the public on the necessary strategies? How could the progress or lack of progress be rationally discussed with the public? And in this shadow war that lacks the classic war battles that told previous war generations of victory or defeat, how could the public begin to even understand that there is nonetheless a battle raging that may define their lives and safety for generations to come? There were serious arguments against such language being used. Reasonable people feared that any mention of Islam in the context of the war on terror might needlessly outrage and estrange countless millions of non-radical Muslims around the world -- thus driving them into the enemy camp. Countering that argument, I, and others, made the case that, to the contrary, by defining precisely and explicitly the enemy as only the radical, jihadist, fascist element, we were narrowing the scope of our definition of the enemy. And anyway, even unstated, doubtlessly millions of people falsely had assumed we thought we were at war with an entire religion -- rather than only with those who espoused and acted on their violent ideology.

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Sans title, DeLay still has power

The Hill reports Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is no longer an official member of the Republican leadership, but you would never know it by watching him. DeLay still occupies the majority leader’s ceremonial office just off the House floor, and last Friday he was involved in intense discussions with reluctant Republicans on the floor before GOP leaders eked out a victory on a bill giving U.S. oil refineries incentives to expand.

And that ticks off the Dems, who had hoped to get rid of him with a trumped up inditement
While the former majority leader appears unmoved by his diminished stature, other rank-and-file Republicans are much less comfortable with the interim leadership structure. Most members are content to leave Washington this year without enduring an open scramble to replace DeLay or a reshuffling of the leadership team,
Since there is a very good chance he will deal with the inditement very soon.
but there is growing anxiety throughout the conference about the current direction of the party and whether this leadership team is properly positioned to execute its goals.

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Incitement to terrorism

Guardian reported Censorship, internment and bans on non-violent political parties will increase the likelihood of further attacks in Britain - As negotiating tactics go, it's a pretty transparent one - but it still seems to work every time in British politics. The government has a policy it knows will arouse a blizzard of controversy. So it starts out with a maximalist, even outlandish, version. When that is predictably greeted with outrage, it retreats crab-like to its core position - and the final outcome is then accepted with relief that the government has compromised. But the net effect is to drive through measures that might have been thrown out without the softening-up process.

I dont think the Guardian likes the new laws.
So it has been with Tony Blair's anti-terror plans, first unveiled in August in the wake of the London bombings. In their original back-of-the-envelope formulation, they included the truly Ruritanian wheeze of codifying a list of violent historical events that Britons could be sent to prison for "glorifying, exalting or celebrating". Last week, after two months of ridicule, the home secretary, Charles Clarke, let it be known that the most absurd parts of this censorship scheme had been dropped. Then on Tuesday, he signalled that the government might be prepared to shift on its proposal to jail terror suspects without charge for up to three months.
Maybe cut it to two months.
The apparent climbdown has, as expected, been embraced by key opponents. But, as publication of the terrorism bill yesterday confirmed, the most dangerous and inflammatory elements in Blair's August package are still there: not only the effective internment power, but deportation to countries that routinely torture; banning of non-violent political parties; state control of mosques and the outlawing of any statement that might be seen as inciting or glorifying terrorist acts (including in history).
All sound like good ideas to me. Would the Guardian be interested in moving its offices to the subways that might be bombed again?
The main opposition parties are now focused on detention without charge. The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, wrote on these pages this week that the three-month internment power was now the "one major sticking point" - and changes to the glorification clause, he thought, meant that it was "a lot better" and that non-violent organisations such as the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir
See this and this and this and this and
could not be banned.

In fact, under the terms of the bill, anyone who voices support for armed resistance to any state or occupation, however repressive or illegitimate, will be committing a criminal offence carrying a seven-year prison sentence - so long as members of the public might reasonably regard it as direct or indirect encouragement. Terrorism is not defined in the bill as, say, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, let alone an assault on civilian targets by states - but as any politically motivated violence against people, property or electronic systems anywhere in the world. This is not only an assault on freedom of speech and debate about the most contentious subject in global politics. It also makes a criminal offence out of a belief shared by almost every society, religion or philosophy throughout history: namely, that people have the right to take up arms against tyranny and foreign occupation. Clarke made clear on Tuesday that this was exactly his intention. He could not, he said, think of any situation in the world where "violence would be justified to bring about change".

Clearly, that did not apply to the invasion of Iraq or the bomb attacks on street markets carried out in Baghdad by US and British-backed opposition groups before 2003. But, as the mayor of London pointed out yesterday, support for Nelson Mandela
Who did not use armed resistence but unarmed resistence
, the wartime resistance and any number of anti-colonial liberation movements would all have been crimes under this bill. In practice, of course, the law is intended to be used selectively: it is aimed not just at those who praise bomb attacks on the London tube, but at Muslims and others who believe that Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have a right to resist occupation.

If there were any doubt about that, Blair's stated intention to use this bill to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir - reaffirmed this week by the Home Office - should dispel it. There is little love lost among many Muslims - let alone non-Muslims - for Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for a restored caliphate (or unified Islamic political authority) throughout the Muslim world
Including Londonistan
and against participation in elections. Although it denies being anti-Jewish, the organisation had on its website until recently a statement which by any reckoning crossed the line from anti-Zionism into anti-semitism. But there is also no evidence at all that it is involved in terrorism - it condemned both the London bombings and the 9/11 attacks. It does not, however, condemn armed resistance in Iraq and Palestine, which is how the government plans to catch it. Along with the criminalisation of support for resistance movements, such a ban on a non-violent political party would be unprecedented in modern British history. When set against the toleration of the routinely violent and relentlessly racist British National party, it is scarcely surprising that Muslim opinion is overwhelmingly hostile to all the main planks of the legislation.

The home secretary's remarks in Washington last week that in dealing with global Islamism "there can be no negotiation about the recreation of the caliphate ... no negotiation about the imposition of sharia law"
Which they would like imposed in Britain.
(when support for the latter in particular, variously interpreted, is widespread in the Muslim world) heightens the perception that the war on terror is also a war on Islam. Blair's August announcement was designed to show the government was taking tough action to protect the country from any repetition of the London bombings - and offset the majority view that he had put his own people in danger by invading Iraq. But if the terrorism bill in its current form becomes law, the likelihood is that instead of reducing the terror threat, it will increase it.

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Dutch ban the burka

Times Online The Netherlands is likely to become the first country in Europe to ban the burka, under government proposals that would bring in some of the toughest curbs on Muslim clothing in the world.

That should make the Islamofascists happy. We now know the next country to be bombed. I don't think they will stop with killing one filmmaker
The country’s hardline Integration Minister, Rita Verdonk, known as the Iron Lady for her series of tough anti-immigration measures, told Parliament that she was going to investigate where and when the burka should be banned. The burka, traditional clothing in some Islamic societies, covers a woman’s face and body, leaving only a strip of gauze for the eyes.

Mrs Verdonk gave warning that the “time of cosy tea-drinking” with Muslim groups had passed and that natives and immigrants should have the courage to be critical of each other. She recently cancelled a meeting with Muslim leaders who refused to shake her hand because she was a woman.
Glad to see they are doing something, but it might be better to do like the Brits and ban Imams that preach hatred.
The proposals are likely to win the support of Parliament because of the expected backing by right-wing parties. But they have caused outrage among Muslim and human rights groups, who say that the Government is pandering to the far Right. Mrs Verdonk admitted that a complete ban on the garment would be legally tricky because of freedom of religion legislation. However, she said that she would prohibit the garments “in specific situations” on grounds of public safety. The ban is likely to be enforced in shops, public buildings, cinemas, train and bus stations and airports, as well as on trains and buses.

The Netherlands has become preoccupied by Islamic terrorism after the investigation into the murder of the film-maker Theo van Gogh uncovered a network of Muslim extremists dedicated to destroying the country. Attention has turned to the burka because police authorities have become concerned that a terrorist could use one for concealment. A government spokesman said: “We want to investigate when, how, in which places the burka should be banned. It is a safety measure — you don’t see who is in it.” The Government cites as a precedent existing football legislation, which bans people from entering football grounds covering their faces in scarves.

Yassim Hertog, a vice-president of the Muslim School Boards Union, said: “Can you prohibit someone from wearing a certain type of dress? They are trying to test what a government can forbid, and how far you can go trampling on people’s rights. They want to show all these Dutch citizens who are sick and tired of all these ‘mutant’ citizens, this is where we draw the line — get normal.” Muslim groups insist that only a few dozen women in the Netherlands wear the burka, and that the ban is a distraction. The Muslims and Government Contact Body said: “Only a handful of Muslims actually wear burkas. Let us focus our energy on what we have in common. This is not a big problem.”


Damian blogged I'm all in favor of encouraging Muslim women to cast off this medieval symbol of oppression, but I also firmly believe the state has no business telling me what I can and can't wear. That's why stories like this (which always seem to come from tolerant Europe, not right-wing neocon Amerikkka, by the way) leave me feeling somewhat uneasy

Harry blogged The Netherlands would become the first European country to ban the wearing of the burka in public situations, although there are already some local bans. Last year several Belgian towns, including Antwerp and Ghent, banned the wearing of the burka in public, and recently started issuing £100 spot fines for breaking the municipal ordinance. Several towns in Italy, including Como, have invoked legislation introduced by Mussolini that bans hiding one’s face in public to impose fines on burka-wearers. France and several regions of Germany have followed Turkey and Tunisia in banning the wearing of the hijab, which leaves the face visible, in public buildings, most controversially in schools.

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Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form

NYT reported Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

They have been smoking some of those funny cigarettes, and are having hallucinations.
That sense of political opportunity has Democratic operatives scrambling to recruit more candidates in Congressional districts that look newly favorable for Democratic gains, to overcome internal divisions and produce an agenda they can carry into 2006, and to raise the money to compete across a broader field. In short, the Democrats are trying to be ready if, in fact, an anti-incumbent, 1994-style political wave hits. Already, the response to Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq and soaring gasoline prices have taken a toll on the popularity of President Bush and Congressional Republicans;
But wait until the news about how most of what the press reported about Katrina sinks in, and until the Iraqis approve their new Constitution and have their December elections, and the refineries get back online and gas prices drop.
new polling by the Pew Research Center shows the approval rating for Congressional Republican leaders at 32 percent, with 52 percent disapproving, a sharp deterioration since March. (The ratings of Democratic leaders stood at 32 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval.) A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, released Wednesday night, showed that 13 months before the midterm election, 48 percent said they wanted a Democratic-led Congress, compared to 39 percent who preferred Republican control.
Much of that is the circular firing squad of the conservatives mad about Harriet Miers.
But for Democrats to step into the void, many strategists and elected officials say, they must offer more than a blistering critique of the Republicans in power, the regular attacks on what Democrats now describe as a "culture of cronyism and corruption." What they need, many Democrats acknowledge, is their own version of the "Contract With America,"
What they need is a new idea, period.
the Republican agenda (tax cuts, a balanced budget, a stronger military and an array of internal reforms) that the party campaigned on in the 1994 landslide election, when it won control of the House and the Senate.

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What Extremists Are Saying

Centcom said We note seven critical themes from the Zawahiri-Zarqawi letter. The first four confirm al-Qaida’s long-term strategy and core beliefs; the latter three reflect new information about how senior al-Qaida leader Zawahiri views developments in Iraq – and elsewhere – turning against them.

  • Iraq is becoming the central battlefield for al-Qaida senior leaders in Pakistan. Zawahiri views Iraq as the bridgehead for the creation of a new Islamic caliphate – their ultimate objective.
    That is their short-term ultimate objective. Long term they want a world wide Islamic caliphate.
    The letter makes clear al-Qa'ida intends to wrest control of Iraq from the Iraqi people so they can use the country in pursuit of other goals.
  • Al-Qaida’s ambitions do not stop at Iraq’s borders. Establishing the political dominance of Sunni militants in Iraq is only a first step—a means to an end—in realizing al-Qaida’s ambitions of imposing its control over the broader Middle East. In fact, al-Qaida’s focus on Iraq has nothing to do with Iraqi nationalism, but is purely instrumental as a beachhead for al-Qaida’s broader agenda. Under al-Qaida, Iraq will serve as a terrorist haven and staging ground for attacks against Iraq’s neighbors and quite possibly Western nations -- all those judged to be ruling in violation of their distorted interpretation of Islamic law – and clearly destabilize the region.
  • The letter demonstrates that pulling US forces out of Iraq is the wrong approach – that terrorists will not simply lay down their arms when American forces depart Iraq.
    Tell this to the weak willed Dems.
    Al-Qaida and its terrorist brethren will not go away when the Coalition hands over security control to Iraqi forces; rather, they are committed to overthrowing the elected, democratic Iraqi government and ruling the country according to their interpretation of Islamic law.
  • Zawahiri believes in religious intolerance and converting, conquering, or killing anyone who does not believe as he does. His only concern is how to deceive the population that this is not the case by urging Zarqawi to reduce attacks on Shia civilians.
    Both want the Shia dead. Zarqawi wants them to die in a civil war now, Zawahiri wants to wait until he controls the country.
    Zawahiri contends that Shia are heretics. He views Shi’ism as a “religious school based on excess and falsehood,” and as a danger to what he sees as true, Sunni Islam. Zawahiri does not condemn Zarqawi for killing Shia. Indeed, the Shia, along with anyone who does not blindly follow al-Qaida’s twisted interpretation of Islam, will be forced either to adopt al-Qa'ida's extremist ideology or face repression or death if the terrorists establish control. Zawahiri’s concerns are purely tactical; managing the press and gaining the support, or acquiescence, of the people.
  • Zawahiri clearly is worried they are losing public support in Iraq, and is attuned to the role of the media in the battle for such support. Zawahiri emphasizes that the struggle is ideological, with each side competing for the popular support and loyalty of the Muslim world. Zarqawi’s methods are backfiring by alienating the Iraqi people with attacks against the Shia.
  • Zawahiri, who previously termed democracy heretical, is willing to exploit the political process unfolding in Iraq to advance the group’s goals. Zawahiri is advocating a modified strategy in an attempt to expand the group’s Sunni support base in Iraq. It is tacit acknowledgement that the political process unfolding in Iraq appeals to average Iraqis. Zarqawi’s recent pronouncements for all-out war against the Shia and recent rhetoric against Sunnis supporting the government and coalition stirred concerns among his advisers and allies and already have prompted Zarqawi to quickly adjust his rhetoric and some tactics.
  • Zawahiri’s letter to Zarqawi reveals continued points of weakness in Pakistan-based al-Qaida senior leaders and what they need to operate and survive:
    • Financial shortages: Zawahiri asks for a payment of approximately 100,000 of an unspecified currency until “new lines” – likely with donors – are opened.
      It is difficult to keep his hosts bribed to keep him and Osama safe when each has a $25 million bounty on their heads.
      Moreover, he makes this request in the context of Abu Faraj al-Libi, intimating that his capture adversely affected al-Qaida’s ability to transfer funds.
    • The CT efforts of our partners: Furthermore, Zawahiri notes that while they may have limited the consequences of Abu Faraj’s capture, al-Qaida is wary of the Pakistani army’s presence in the tribal areas where its leaders have found sanctuary. This highlights the importance of continued Pakistani efforts in the War on Terror.
      And shows how smart Bush was to establish good relations with the Pakistanis. Not only has he brought them and India to a point where they are willing to talk peace, rather than nuclear war, but they are also helping round up Al Qaeda.
      As partnerships and partnership capacity expands, so shrinks the space in which terrorists can operate.
    • Isolation of senior leadership. Zawahiri appeals to Zarqawi for information about the situation and activities in Iraq.
Caos blogged Zawahiri, who previously termed democracy heretical, is willing to exploit the political process unfolding in Iraq to advance the group’s goals. Zawahiri is advocating a modified strategy in an attempt to expand the group’s Sunni support base in Iraq . It is tacit acknowledgement that the political process unfolding in Iraq appeals to average Iraqis. Zarqawi’s recent pronouncements for all-out war against the Shia and recent rhetoric against Sunnis supporting the government and coalition stirred concerns among his advisers and allies and already have prompted Zarqawi to quickly adjust his rhetoric and some tactics.

HE!D! blogged If You Didn’t Think Iraq Was Crucial Before…You’re An Irredeemable Idiot

Chad Evans blogged The overall tone of the letter is one of desperation and isolation. Zawahiri continually states he does not know the full picture of Zarqawi in Iraq, but he also continually chides Zarqawi’s tactics for not gaining more popular support in Iraq. Each letter that has been found in Iraq or elsewhere demonstrates Al Qaida in Iraq is on the verge of collapse. The question is how long will it take and are there other capable people other than Zarqawi leading the group that are keeping it together. Sadly, it appears so.

commissar blogged I received the following from CENTCOM. Normally, I wouldn’t post a government press release verbatim. This merits an exception. The money quote: “I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our nation.”

Wizbang blogged Everyone and their cousin has commented on the latest intercepted Al Qaeda letter, from Zawahiri to Zarqawi. I started on my own analysis of it, but discovered that everything I had thought about it had already been written by others. But, by far, the best I've seen so far was by CITIZEN SMASH, a Naval Reservist who spent a good chunk of time over in Iraq on active duty.

Smash blogged Zawahiri urges Zarqawi to get involved in the political process. In other words, it's time to start making deals to share power with the apostates and infidels. Zawahiri can read the writing on the wall. But will Zarqawi get the message?

Jeff Goldstein blogged I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our nation

OTB blogged Zawahiri is very worried that Zarqawi is going to blow the whole Iraq deal because he's a loose cannon.

Juan Cole questions the authenticity of the letter, saying before he went to Pakistan he had never, ever heard a Sunni Muslim add "wa alihi" (and his family) to the salutation, and speculates an Egyptian would not use the phrase. But supposedly Ben Laden and al-Zawahiri have been in the area between Paksitan and Afganistan, and maybe he picked up some traits of the way they speak.

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Thursday, October 13

This Day In History

  • 1775   The Continental Congress ordered the construction of a naval fleet.
  • 1792   The cornerstone of what was termed the President’s House was laid by George Washington in Washington, DC. The name, White House, was not adopted until 1818. The house, designed by James Hoban, would be three stories tall with more than 100 rooms.
  • 1843   The Jewish organization B'nai B'rith was founded in New York City.
  • 1845   Texas ratified a state constitution.
  • 1960   Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy participated in the third televised debate of the presidential campaign, with Nixon in Hollywood, Calif., and Kennedy in New York.
  • 1960   The World Series ended with a home run for the first time as Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit one out in the ninth inning of Game 7 against the New York Yankees.
  • 1962   The play ''Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'' by Edward Albee opened on Broadway.
  • 1974   TV host Ed Sullivan died at age 73.
  • 1981   Egyptians voted in a referendum to elect Vice President Hosni Mubarak the new president, one week after the assassination of Anwar Sadat.
  • 1998   The National Basketball Association canceled the first two weeks of its regular season because of a lockout.
  • 1999   The JonBenet Ramsey grand jury was dismissed after 13 months of work; prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to charge anyone in the 6-year-old's strangulation.
  • 2000   South Korean President Kim Dae-jung was named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1754   Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley) (American heroine: took over loading and firing cannon for her wounded husband during the Battle of Monmouth [American Revolution]; name became synonym for a heroine; died July 22, 1832)
  • 1821   Rudolf Virchow (scientist: founded cellular pathology; died Sep 5, 1902)
  • 1909   Herblock (Herbert Block) (editorial cartoonist)
  • 1915   Cornel (Cornelius Louis) Wilde (actor: A Song to Remember, Sharks’ Treasure, Norseman, Omar Khayyam, The Greatest Show on Earth, Forever Amber; died Oct 16, 1989)
  • 1925   Lenny Bruce (Leonard Alfred Schneider) (comedian; films)
  • 1925   Margaret (Hilda) Thatcher (Roberts) (‘The Iron Lady’: British leader: Prime Minister of Great Britain [1979-1990])
  • 1941   Paul Simon (songwriter, singer, musician: guitar: duo: Simon and Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water, Homeward Bound, I Am a Rock, Mrs. Robinson, Scarborough Fair, The Sounds of Silence, Cecilia; solo: Mother and Child Reunion, Me and Julio, Kodachrome, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Slip Slidin’ Away; LP: Graceland; Wonderful World [w/Art Garfunkel, James Taylor]; Rock and Roll Hall of Famer; in film: Annie Hall)
  • 1959   Marie (Olive) Osmond (singer; TV host: Donny and Marie)
  • 1969   Nancy Kerrigan (Olympic ice skating medalist: [silver, 1994])

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ramadan Ritual

NYT reported Ramadan Ritual: Fast Daily, Pray, Head to the Mall - The decorations are hanging, the cash registers are clanging, and the air of holiday cheer is everywhere. For a holy month, Ramadan is not what it used to be. Once an ascetic month of fasting, prayer and reflection on God, Ramadan has gradually taken on the commercial trappings of Christmas and Hanukkah, from the hanging lights that festoon windows to the Ramadan greeting cards and Ramadan sales and advertising campaigns that have become the backbone of commerce for the month.

Even Islam is not imune to businesses taking advtage of the season, where secular commercialization takes over the religious aspect of the season.
Marketers and businesses have caught on to the potential of 1.3 billion people at home fasting or breaking their daily fasts and getting back to normal life, a captive audience eager for entertainment and celebration, and more than willing to feast when the sun goes down.
I hope they don't have an ACLU trying to beat down any religious aspect of the season.
Here in Dubai, the region's supermall, commercialism has taken on a life of its own as almost everything has been dressed in the cloak of Ramadan, from consumer goods to cars. Malls are open till the early morning, and the nights rock away at dinner parties in desert tents.

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Gore: I Don't Plan to Run for President

Yahoo! News reported Former Vice President Al Gore said Wednesday he had no intention of ever running for president again,

He is just spending a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire because he likes those states
but he said the United States would be "a different country" if he had won the 2000 election,
He is right. The Constitution might well have been replaced by Sharia Law
launching into a scathing attack of the Bush administration.

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Replace the U.S. Constitution with Shari'a

Daniel Pipes wrote in JWR Only when Americans realize that Islamists intend to replace the U.S. Constitution with Shari'a will they enter final era of war - A courageous speech by George W. Bush last week began a new era in what he calls the "war on terror."

To comprehend its full significance requires some background. Islamists (supporters of radical Islam) began their war on the United States in 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini took power in Iran and later that year his supporters seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran. For the next twenty-two years, however, Americans thought they faced merely a criminal problem and failed to see that war had been declared on them. For example, in 1998,

Under Clinton
when Islamists attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, Washington responded by unleashing detectives, arresting the perpetrators, taking them to New York, assigning them defense lawyers, then convicting and jailing them.

The second era began on September 11, 2001. That evening, President Bush declared a "war against terrorism" and the U.S. government promptly went into war mode, for example, by passing the USA Patriot Act. Though welcoming this shift, I during four years criticized the notion of making war on a military tactic, finding this euphemistic, inaccurate, and obstructive. Instead, I repeatedly called on the president to start a third era by acknowledging that the war is against radical Islam.
It was not just a military tactic; they also went after financing and used other diplomatic approaches, but not until 7/7 British Bombings did anyone seriously go after the Islamofascists preaching hate.
Bush did occasionally mention radical Islam — in fact, as early as nine days after 9/11 — but not with enough frequency or detail to change perceptions. British prime minister Tony Blair also advanced the discussion in July, when, after the London transport bombings, he focused on "a religious ideology, a strain within the world-wide religion of Islam." But the third era truly began on Oct. 6 with Bush's speech to the National Endowment for Democracy. He not only gave several names to the force behind terrorism ("Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism"), but he provided ample details. In particular, he:
  • Presented this "murderous ideology" of Islamic radicals "the great challenge of our new century."
  • Distinguished it from the religion of Islam.
  • Drew parallels between radical Islam and communism (both are elitist, cold-blooded, totalitarian, disdainful of free peoples, and fatefully contradictory), then noted in how many ways the U.S. war on radical Islam, "resembles the struggle against communism in the last century."
  • Pointed out the three-step Islamist drive to power: ending Western influence in the Muslim world, gaining control of Muslim governments, and establishing "a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia."
  • Explained the "violent, political vision" of radical Islam as comprising an agenda "to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation."
  • Defined its ultimate goal: "to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world."
  • Observed that Muslims themselves have the burden of doing the "most vital work" to fight Islamism.
  • Called on "all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing" this ideology and taking steps against it.
The detailed texture of Bush's speech transforms the official American understanding of who the enemy is, moving it from the superficial and inadequate notion of "terrorism" to the far deeper concept of "Islamic radicalism." This change has potentially enduring importance if finally, 26 years later, it convinces polite society to name the enemy.

Doing so means, for example, that immigration authorities and law enforcement can take Islam into account when deciding whom to let enter the country or whom to investigate for terrorism offences. Focusing on Muslims as the exclusive source of Islamists permits them finally to do their job adequately.
And not be charged with "Profiling"
Despite these many advances, Bush's speech is far from perfect. His quoting the Koran harks back to 2001, when he instructed Muslims about the true nature of their faith; his comment about extremists distorting "the idea of jihad" unfortunately implies that jihad is a good thing.
Bush is right. Jihad just means struggle, and for moderate Muslims it is the internal struggle to personally do what God (Allah) wants. It has nothing to do with committing suicide (which the Koran says is wrong), and doing so to kill innocents, especially other Muslims. The Islamofascists have hijacked the Muslim faith for their own ends.
Most serious, though, is his limiting the "radical Islamic empire" (or caliphate) to just the Spain-to-Indonesia region,
Which is the objective stated here
for Islamists have a global vision that requires control over non-Muslim countries too — and specifically the United States. Their universal ambitions certainly can be stopped, but first they must be understood and resisted. Only when Americans realize that the Islamists intend to replace the U.S. Constitution with Shari'a will they enter the fourth and final era of this war.
Hopefully it will not get that far. First they need to take over Iraq, and I believe the Iraqis see that Democracy is a lot better than Theocracy.

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How the Left harmed America this week

Dennis Prager wrote in Townhall Not a week goes by that some part of the Left does not hurt America. But in the past two weeks, three examples stood out for the degree of such harm.

The first example involved the ACLU, which has threatened Southwest Airlines with a lawsuit. Southwest ordered a passenger off a flight after she refused to cover her T-shirt on which was printed an expletive.... I have previously noted in this column the widespread approval of foul language on the Left, such as the expletive-filled entertainment at a John Kerry fundraiser organized by MoveOn.org. Nor is it surprising that a high percentage of my e-mail from people on the Left contains obscenities. To most Americans, the huge increase in public cursing is a sign of a deteriorating civilization; to the Left it is a sign of a freer, less hypocritical one.

The ACLU does a lot more to hurt the country than supporting vulgarity. It's total hatred of everything Christian is even more damaging, IMHO.
The second example was a federal judge appointed by former President Bill Clinton ordering the Defense Department to release all remaining photos of prisoner abuse by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison. Though it is certain that the only effect of the photos will be to further endanger Americans at home and abroad and increase the danger to American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and though there is absolutely no need for the public to see these photos, the judge ordered their release. Thanks to this decision by one judge, we are in for another orgy of anti-Americanism in the foreign and domestic news media and another propaganda victory for those who murder people trying to vote, place bombs in tourist hotels and slaughter innocent human beings like sheep.
Surely this judge's decision will be overturned. I wish there was some way that if a judge is overturned X times, he/she would have to be reconfirmed, or reappointed, or reelected, or whatever they had to go through to get on the bench.
A third example is the Left's libel of Bill Bennett. I covered this issue in detail in my last column. Suffice it to say here that a prominent liberal writer, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, sees the larger issue raised by the nearly universal left-wing smear of Bennett as a racist who advocates the abortion of all black babies.
What Bennett said was stupid, but he rejected his own suggestion in his very next statement, and all of the idiots flaming him conveniently don't mention that fact.

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Law questions

Boston Globe reports Some of the advocacy groups that are concerned about Supreme Court nominee Harriet E. Miers's lack of a record on social issues are favoring a new approach to thwarting her nomination: Asking the nominee, who has no judicial experience, complex questions about constitutional law and hoping she trips up.

What are they going to do if she can answer the questions?
Groups are circulating lists of questions they want members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Miers at her confirmation hearings.
If they are circulating the list to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, what makes them think that one of those members won't forward a copy of the questions over to the White House?
The activists' thinly veiled hope is that Miers will reveal ignorance of the law and give senators a reason to oppose her. ''We are trying to establish that there are thousands of questions that law students routinely deal with . . . and if she can't get to that level, it doesn't matter if you're for the left or the right, at that point it's a fait accompli that she is not fit for the office," said Eugene DelGaudio, president of Public Advocate, a conservative profamily group.
And if a law student can handle them, what makes you think that the former head of both the Dallas and the Texas Bar Association can't.
The groups oppose Miers because her scant record offers them insufficient proof that she would be a staunch conservative. But, mindful that judicial nominees resist talking about ideology, they believe that a better strategy is to make her appear unqualified.
Good Luck.

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