Saturday, January 14, 2006

Web Site Attacks Critic of War

WaPo reported Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the former Marine who is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, has become the latest Democrat to have his Vietnam War decorations questioned.

Does he have an answer to the question?
In a tactic reminiscent of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth assault on Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) during the 2004 presidential campaign, a conservative Web site yesterday quoted Murtha opponents as questioning the circumstances surrounding the awarding of his two Purple Hearts. David Thibault, editor in chief of the Cybercast News Service, said the issue of Murtha's medals from 1967 is relevant now "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement." Thibault said: "He has been placed by the Democratic Party and antiwar activists as a spokesman against the war above reproach."
The article said
Murtha is a retired marine and was the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress. Since 1967, there have been at least three different accounts of the injuries that purportedly earned Murtha his Purple Hearts. Those accounts also appear to conflict with the limited military records that are available, and Murtha has thus far refused to release his own military records.
It seems we had the same problem with John Kerry.
A Cybercast News Service investigation also reveals that one of Murtha's former Democratic congressional colleagues and a fellow decorated Vietnam veteran, Don Bailey of Pennsylvania, alleges that Murtha admitted during an emotional conversation on the floor of the U.S. House in the early 1980s that he did not deserve his Purple Hearts.
Kerry never would sign his SF-180 form, the finally he said he signed it, but no one seems to have yet seen the results.
Cindy Abram, a spokeswoman for Murtha, said, "We certainly believe that the questions being raised are an attempt to distract attention from what's happening in Iraq." As for how Murtha won the Purple Hearts, she said: "We think the congressman's record is clear. We have the documentation, the paperwork that proves that he earned them, and that he is entitled to wear them proudly."
Then ask that he sign SF-180 and make his records available to everyone.
Cybercast is part of the conservative Media Research Center, run by L. Brent Bozell III, who accused some in the media of ignoring the Swift Boat charges, but Thibault said it operates independently. He said the unit, formerly called the Conservative News Service, averages 110,000 readers, mainly conservative, and provides material for other Web sites such as GOPUSA. "We won't run anything against anybody if we don't have the goods," he said.


Democrats See Wide Bush Stamp on Court System

NYT reported Disheartened by the administration's success with the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Democratic leaders say that President Bush is putting an enduring conservative ideological imprint on the nation's judiciary,

That is what he was elected for.
and that they see little hope of holding off the tide without winning back control of the Senate or the White House.
They are going to need both for anyone but a moderate. If they win back the Senate they may be able to refuse to put up any more conservatives, but a Republican President is not going to nominate extreme liberals like Clinton did. And if they win the White House, but if Republicans hold the Senate, then they should expect the Republicans to do the same thing to liberals a Democratic President might name, that the Dems did to Bush's nominees.
In interviews, Democrats said that the lesson of the Alito hearings was that this White House could put on the bench almost any qualified candidate, even one whom Democrats consider to be ideologically out of step with the country.
That is because it is the Democrats that are ideologically out of step with the country.
That conclusion amounts to a repudiation of a central part of a strategy Senate Democrats settled on years ago in a private retreat where they discussed how to fight a Bush White House effort to recast the judiciary: to argue against otherwise qualified candidates by saying they were taking the courts too far to the right.
It was already too far to the left. Bush is just bringing it back to the center.
Even though Democrats thought from the beginning that they had little hope of defeating the nomination, they were dismayed that a nominee with such clear conservative views - in particular a written record of opposition to abortion rights - appeared to be stirring little opposition.

Republicans said that Mr. Bush, in making conservative judicial choices, was doing precisely what he said he would do in both of his presidential campaigns, and indeed that his re-election, and the election of a Republican Congress, meant that the choices reflected the views of much of the American public.

Republicans rejected Democratic assertions that Judge Alito was out of the mainstream. "The American people see Judge Alito and say, that's exactly the sort of person we want to see on the Supreme Court," said Steve Schmidt, the White House official who managed the nomination.
Precisely. It is the Democrats that are out of the mainstream.
As a result, several Democrats said, Mr. Bush - even at time when many of his other initiatives seem in doubt and when he had been forced by conservatives to withdraw his first choice for the seat - appeared on the verge of achieving what he has set as a primary goal of his presidency: a fundamental reshaping of the federal judiciary along more conservative lines. Mr. Bush has now appointed one-quarter of the federal appeals court judges, and, assuming Judge Alito is confirmed, will have put two self-described conservatives on a Supreme Court that has only two members appointed by a Democratic president.
But it has a couple of liberals that Republican Presidents foolishly nominated.


ACLU does not like 10 Commandments

Stop The ACLU blogged ACLU fights Commandments in Tennessee

In the wake of major decisions on public display of the Ten Commandments, the American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal court to order removal of a Tennessee courthouse exhibit.
What else is in the exhibit? The Supreme Court has ruled that if it is just one item of several in an exhibit it is ok.
"The posting of the Ten Commandments sends the message that only certain believers can receive justice at the courthouse,"
89 to 90% of Americans are Christians, and the 10 Commandmends is in the Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament), so Jews should recognize it. And if anyone with another belief asks, I am sure the judge will say they will receive the same justice as everyone else.
said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU of Tennessee.
I believe the tide is turning on the ACLU in the area of ten commandment cases. The "seperation of Church and State" argument has grown tiresome, and hopefully more judges will start ruling on what the Consitution really says, and not what revisionist have twisted it to say.
Let us hope so
Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel believes that with Judge Samuel Alito’s expected confirmation to the Supreme Court, “the ACLU can no longer count on the High Court to further their agenda.”

I hope he is right. I’m tired of the ACLU trying to secularize our history.


Disposable Cell Phones

ABC News reported Federal agents have launched an investigation into a surge in the purchase of large quantities of disposable cell phones by individuals from the Middle East and Pakistan, ABC News has learned. The phones — which do not require purchasers to sign a contract or have a credit card — have many legitimate uses, and are popular with people who have bad credit or for use as emergency phones tucked away in glove compartments or tackle boxes. But since they can be difficult or impossible to track, law enforcement officials say the phones are widely used by criminal gangs and terrorists.

On April 20, 2004, George Bush said "Law enforcement officials can now use what's now called roving wiretaps, which will prevent a terrorist from switching cell phones to get a message out to one of his buddies." This is why it is so important that the Patriot Act be renewed.
"There's very little audit trail assigned to this phone. One can walk in, purchase it in cash, you don't have to put down a credit card, buy any amount of minutes to it, and you don't, frankly, know who bought this," said Jack Cloonan, a former FBI official who is now an ABC News consultant.
I believe that all cell phones now need to contain GPS tracking information. I hope that this includes the disposable cell phones, and if so, I hope that the NSA will make use of this to track these disposable cell phones. They may not be able to track who purchased it, but they should be able to track which cell phones were purchased in quantity, and where each one is.
Law enforcement officials say the phones were used to detonate the bombs terrorists used in the Madrid train attacks in March 2004. "The application of prepaid phones for nefarious reasons, is really widespread. For example, the terrorists in Madrid used prepaid phones to detonate the bombs in the subway trains that killed more than 200 people," said Roger Entner, a communications consultant.

The FBI is closely monitoring the potentially dangerous development, which came to light following recent large-quantity purchases in California and Texas, officials confirmed. In one New Year's Eve transaction at a Target store in Hemet, Calif., 150 disposable tracfones were purchased. Suspicious store employees notified police, who called in the FBI, law enforcement sources said. In an earlier incident, at a Wal-Mart store in Midland, Texas, on Dec. 18, six individuals attempted to buy about 60 of the phones until store clerks became suspicious and notified the police. A Wal-Mart spokesperson confirmed the incident.

Sister Toldjah blogged When did the story on the NSA eavesdropping break? Dec. 16. I hope the "whistleblowers" and those who once upon a time claimed to be so concerned about how leaks could damage our national security suffer some sleepless nights and restless days over this. A lot of them.

Anchoress blogged Let us be clear, here. Although the US press pretty much buried the story, terrorists actively planning against the United States were recently captured and arrested in Italy, thanks to these wiretaps. The post at Powerline is huge and there is more on the story here and here. (H/T Reader RM). The Turkish press (via Redstate) spelled it out pretty out, clearly.

Junkyard Blog blogged The story points out that the Madrid bombers used pre-paid cell phones in their work. It doesn’t point out that the last time the press leaked operational information like this, it helped Osama bin Laden decide to move from satellite phones, which presumably the NSA had been using to track him, to harder-to-track means of communication including human mules hand carrying notes. That was quite a while before 9-11; the disclosure of the satellite phone tracking probably helped him stay alive long enough to make sure 9-11 happened.

UPDATE: The Watcher commented that the phone sales rise may be linked to the recent Zawahiri tape. Here’s that story. Brown believes that the first tape of the pair emerged last October, with the Jan. 6 tape being the second. Which, if he’s right, means we can expect a major al Qaeda attack within the next thirty days. But where? He points to either Italy, where the Olympics start in February and where there will be an election this spring, or the US, because we’re the US and because of some veiled references in the Zawahiri tape that might have been code speak to activate cells here.

Which brings us the the surge in disposable phone sales, which led the FBI to known terror cells in Texas and California. The Spain bombings used such phones to detonate bombs on trains and tipped the election toward the defeatist Socialists. The same could be the plan for Italy. Our elections are a ways off, and that might factor into the scenario. But the terrorists here had to be procuring those phones for some purpose.

Macsmind blogged For those who think the NY Times story was "freedom of the press" and "right to do", consider that all these slugs need is a chance. Reporters like James Risen and leakers like Senator Rockefeller have not only damaged our national security - if for no other reason that the almighty buck (in Risen's case) and political bias (in Rockefeller's), and subsequently put us all in danger.

You can't mess with these animals. They're not stupid. I helped chase The Red Brigades/Black September groups across Europe in the early 80's and most times just when we thought we had them, someone would tip them off. Usually its was some socialist leftwing news rag who got a leak "from a friend". The problem, one more day out of captivity was one more day they could attack. Make no mistake "Loose Lips Kill" - period. Defensive measures and tactics aren't a matter of the public's right to know. There is no such right - especially when our national security is on line.

Blog for All blogged Considering how easy it is to obtain disposable cellphones that are essentially untraceable, the potential threat is significant. Terrorists may have already purchased disposable cellphones in far smaller quantities such that they wouldn't be noticed as has happened in these instances that are still under investigation. Purchasing cellphones singly or in small batches wouldn't arouse suspicion.

In any event, we're relying upon store clerks to use common sense to wonder why someone is purchasing large quantities of disposable cellphones. That's a worrisome proposition.

Expect a push by legislatures to limit the numbers of disposable cellphones that can be purchased at one time to no more than 3 (or 5),
Actually I would rather allow them to purchase as many as they want, but have bulk purchases reported, including the numbers of the phones purchased, so they can be tracked.
and use a rationale similar to that which is used in limiting the purchases of Sudafed and other drugs that contain pseudoephedrine because they could be mixed and combined into crystal meth.

Mike’s America blogged Democrats, who recently crowed about killing the Patriot Act, were also opposed to extending a provision for "roving wiretaps" which allows law enforcement to monitor individuals using any phone, not just wiretaps on specific phone numbers. Without that authority, the use of multiple disposable phones would make monitoring those calls nearly impossible. Law enforcement would have to go back to a court and get a new warrant every time a suspected terrorist grabbed another phone out of the bag. Combine Democrat opposition to extending the Patriot Act with the leak describing the NSA program to monitor terrorist calls into the United States and you find Americans are at greater risk for terrorist attack. Is Another Attack Imminent? Flopping Aces has a troubling new report.

Flopping Aces blogged But you know what the typical lefty response to this would be? How dare these folks be profiled by the police! Maybe they just wanted to call their friends to have them wish a happy Ryder truck rental experience as they cross the Golden Gate. Nothing wrong with that. IT’S AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION!


Friday, January 13, 2006

Merit Pay

NYT reported Over the objections of the teachers' union, the Board of Education here on Thursday unanimously approved the nation's largest merit pay program, which calls for rewarding teachers based on how well their students perform on standardized tests.

Good for them. I think the ultimate solution to public education would be to cut teacher's salaries in half, and then distribute the saved money totally based on results; the better the job the teacher does, the more money he makes.
The $14.5 million program, which immediately replaces a model with lower incentives, would distribute up to $3,000 annually per teacher and up to $25,000 for senior administrators.
I would have put more into the merit pay for teachers, and less for administrators.
Abelardo Saavedra, the Houston superintendent of schools, praised the vote, saying that it "will ensure that the academic growth of each child is important and will be compensated." Houston business leaders also supported the change. But Gayle Fallon, president of the United Federation of Teachers, which represents about 40 percent of the district's 12,300 teachers, condemned the program as misguided.
That is what the teacher unions always say.
In its place, Ms. Fallon called for across-the-board raises to lift Houston from what she said was the low-paying end of area school districts. "No one has been able to show us one ounce of research that paying teachers for test scores improves performance," she said.
Most of the time the teachers union kills merit pay, so it really has not been tried that often.
The 9-to-0 vote at the board meeting of the Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state, with 210,000 children, opened a new front in the national dispute over teacher merit pay and excited particular emotion in a city bruised by a cheating scandal that called some schools' test results into question.


Bush in the Briar Patch

John Dickerson wrote in Slate George Bush wants congressional hearings to look into his administration's domestic eavesdropping. At first he wasn't so keen on the idea, but yesterday he said they'd be "good for democracy." Hearings are good for Jon Stewart; good for C-SPAN; good for fundraising. But good for democracy? Has he watched Alito this week?

Yes, and the Democrats showed what petty people they are. But that was in January, and the public has a short memory. But it will take several months to set up and hold the hearings, so they will take place in the middle of the 2006 election period. And if Democrats show how evil they are, they will get roundly defeated in 2006, with the Republicans picking up seats in both the House and Senate, and that will be good for Democracy.
The political acrimony reached such a pitch yesterday that Judge Alito's wife left the hearing room in tears. It's hard to conceive of hearings on any topic being good for the commonweal in this environment.

But that's precisely why George Bush wants hearings on domestic spying. He's inviting Democrats to another round of self-immolation. In 2002, the Republican Party used the debate over the Department of Homeland Security to attack Democrats in the off-year election by arguing the party was soft on terror. The president and his aides hope the NSA hearings will offer the same opportunity in 2006.
It is true that in the Alito hearings it was a Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, and not a Democrat, whose remarks made Judge Alito's wife cry.
Apologizing for what the Democrats did, which just brought it all back in her mind.
It's also true that Alito's limited answers contributed to the atmosphere that forced Democrats like Ted Kennedy to act out. It's also true that the Democrats are desperate. But you don't have to come down on one side or the other of these issues to know that it's not good for members of the Democratic Party to look like bullies.
Democrats hurt the Democratic Party every time they open their mouths.
(For teeing up the moment, Sen. Graham should get a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands.) George Bush normally resists congressional oversight. Hearings are a venue for second-guessing and exposing secrets. Administration officials should be doing their jobs, not wasting time at the witness table. But Bush and his aides are eager to talk about the National Security Agency's activities because they think the issue benefits them politically. While Democrats are often confusing, with too many leaders and no clear message to push back against the commander in chief, the president is passionate when he talks about fighting terrorists, and a majority of voters still approve of his handling of the issue. And because the spying program was initiated soon after 9/11, it offers Bush an opportunity to discuss his more popular days as a take-charge executive after the 2001 attacks.
This man has broken the code. I hope the Dems have so much hatred in their hearts that they will ignore what he says.
"We're very comfortable discussing the issue for as long as they want," says Counselor to the President Dan Bartlett.

It's a familiar playbook. But it's not 2002, when the president's approval rating was 83 percent and Democrats were losing the battle to shape the Department of Homeland Security. The president's current approval rating is 43 percent, according to the latest Gallup Poll.*
But it will be higher after the hearings.
Half the country supports the idea of domestic spying. That's not a slam-dunk for Bush. Forty-six percent of those asked are against domestic spying even on terrorists.
I doubt they realize how limited the NSA spying has been.
Presumably the numbers of those against broader eavesdropping is higher. The poll questions also don't test how people would feel if the president broke the law when he authorized secret spying. While the president says that he didn't, hearings might offer another view.
They might. Are you going to be stupid enough to find out?
The president's opponents have tried to compare him to Nixon.
Which is stupid. Nixon spied on his political rivals, Bush is spying on associates of the guys that flew planes into the Twin Towers and killed almost 3,000 people.
That's likely to seem like a stretch to voters for whom domestic terrorism is more of a concern than the White Panthers. Democrats are more likely to have luck arguing that Bush used his authority recklessly than that he abused it. The number of people who think the president has gone too far in fighting the war on terror has increased to 38 percent, up from 11 percent in 2002. By arguing this line, Democrats link domestic spying to the Iraq war: At home and in Iraq, Bush moved too quickly and without consideration.

Whether the president will be able to make his case, or whether his opponents will be able to make theirs, depends on the conduct of the hearings. As with the Alito hearings, Republicans will have the advantages of majority, as well as the authority of the commander in chief. Democrats will be frustrated and antagonized. The president hopes they will get red-faced and obstinate. That would be good for him, though not necessarily good for democracy.


Zawahiri May Be Dead

ABC News reported Today, according to Pakistani military sources, U.S. aircraft attacked a compound known to be frequented by high-level al Qaeda operatives. Pakistani officials tell ABC News that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, may have been among them.

Let us hope so.
U.S. intelligence for the last few days indicated that Zawahiri might have been in the location or about to arrive, although there is still no confirmation from U.S. officials that he was among the victims. The attack took place early this morning Pakistan time in a small village a few miles from the border with Afghanistan.

Villagers described seeing an unmanned plane circling the area for the last few days and then bombs falling in the early morning darkness. Eighteen people were killed, according to the villagers who said women and children were among the fatalities. But Pakistani officials tell ABC News that five of those killed were high-level al Qaeda figures, and their bodies are now undergoing forensic tests for positive identification.

It now appears he may not have been killed


Wal-Mart employees expose terror cell's bulk phone purchase

Engadget reported Unfortunately, terrorists always seem to be one step ahead of our defenses when it comes to weaponizing modern technology, from using airplanes as missiles to re-purposing shoes into wearable bombs. Well thankfully some alert retail employees across the country have been notifying law enforcement about bulk purchases of prepaid cellphones (which can be used, as in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, for remote detonation), in one case actually cluing the FBI into a suspected terror cell. After the December 18th purchase of 60 prepaid handsets by six Middle Eastern gentlemen, Midland, TX Wal-Mart employees decided to call the local po-po, who turned the case over to the Feds when the men began acting shady in custody.

The press bad mouth's WalMart, and Maryland may be forcing WalMart to spend more on health care, it looks like they do good things too.
The six were later linked to a Metroplex-based sleeper cell, and are most likely enjoying the company of some "outsourced" foreign interrogators right about now.
I wonder if NSA has any intercepted communication from any of the 60 cell phones.
Seems like Wal-Mart's minimum-wage army may actually be just as adept at crimefighting as the "highly-trained" G-Men, which either says a lot for Sam Walton or not so much for J. Edgar.


300 Million Americans

NYT reported If the experts are right, some time this month, perhaps somewhere in the suburban South or West, a couple, most likely white Anglo-Saxon Protestants or Hispanic, will conceive a baby who, when born in October, will become the 300 millionth American.

If it were not for Roe v Wade, it would happen faster than that.
As of yesterday, the Census Bureau officially pegged the resident population of the United States at closing in on 297,900,000. The bureau estimates that with a baby being born every 8 seconds, someone dying every 12 seconds and the nation gaining an immigrant every 31 seconds on average,
and a baby being aborted every 24 seconds
the population is growing by one person every 14 seconds.

At that rate, the total is expected to top 300 million late this year. But with those projections adjusted monthly and the number of births typically peaking during the summer, the benchmark is likely to be reached about nine months from now.
Men keep your pants up, and ladies keep your skirts down. You may be about to push us over 300 Million.
"You end up with a number in October," said Katrina Wengert, a demographer and a keeper of the Census Bureau's official Population Clock, getting about as specific as possible this far in advance in a field subject to chronic fudging and revising. The clock is, itself, a contrivance, of course, but no more so than other pretexts for a wintertime sexual encounter. Rest assured that hospital publicists, canny obstetricians, entrepreneurial chambers of commerce, baby food manufacturers, public officials and countless others pursuing some political social or personal agenda, abetted by the media, are already guesstimating the growth rate to anoint any number of unsuspecting newborns as the mythical American who pushed the nation's population to 300 million.


Steamed about Rice

New York Daily News reported Steamed about Rice,

Steamed Rice. Soounds good, but it is high in carbohydrates.
Russian pol unleashes rant - Condoleezza Rice might want to see if there's room in one of those "black site" terror-suspect prisons for Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
Let the Russians deal with him; I don't think we want to lower the average intelligence level of the prisons.
The wacko leader of Russia's Liberal and Democratic Party has surpassed his earlier screeds with a misogynist attack on our secretary of state. Speaking with Pravda this week, Zhirinovsky chastised Rice for calling on Russia to "act responsibly" in supplying natural gas to Ukraine. The fascistic pol attributed that "coarse anti-Russian statement" to Rice being "a single woman who has no children."
I am happy to hear she has not been sleeping around, but what is the relationship between the number of children a person has, and whether Russia should supply natural gas to the Ukraine.
"If she has no man by her side at her age, he will never appear," Zhirinovsky ranted on. "Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers. She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied. "Condoleezza Rice is a very cruel, offended woman who lacks men's attention," he added. "Such women are very rough. … They can be happy only when they are talked and written about everywhere: 'Oh, Condoleezza, what a remarkable woman, what a charming Afro-American lady! How well she can play the piano and speak Russian!'
Would he be happier with her if people did not say good things about her, or if she did not play the piano.
"Complex-prone women are especially dangerous. They are like malicious mothers-in-law, women that evoke hatred and irritation with everyone. Everybody tries to part with such women as soon as possible. A mother-in-law is better than a single and childless political persona, though."

A State Department spokesman told us Rice would not "dignify the article with a response."
They probably don't have anyone who can ramble that much.
Zhirinovsky has made no secret of his insanity in the past. Besides praising Hitler and encouraging the use of nuclear weapons, he has advocated Russia's invasion and "reacquisition" of Alaska. To eradicate bird flu, he's suggested arming every Russian and ordering them to shoot everything with feathers. Perhaps we could fit him with a Big Bird costume.


Microsoft Extends XP Home Support To '08

TechWeb reports Microsoft has quietly extended the support lifespan of Windows XP Home, which as recently as last week was scheduled to be put out to pasture at the end of this year.

This is good news. I don't run XP, but was thinking about doing so, and held back because of the short period when it would be supported.
Analysts had pointed out that XP Home, and most other XP operating systems, would be cut off from technical support on Dec. 31, 2006, a potential problem since XP's successor, Windows Vista, isn't to release until shortly before that date

In a blog written last Wednesday, JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox put the blame at Windows Vista's door. "It's more a problem of product delays, that Microsoft repeatedly delayed release of Windows Vista," he wrote.
Delays? In releasing a Microsoft Product? Have they ever released one on time?
In an updated support lifecycle listing, Microsoft said that all Windows XP products--which include Home, Pro, Embedded, Media Center, and Tablet PC--will enjoy mainstream support for "two years after the next version of this product is released."

Assuming Vista releases in November of this year, XP's mainstream support will end November, 2008.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Kennedy belongs to exclusive university club of his own

Washington Times reported Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club

Oh, it is a "social club". Maybe he just goes there to get drunk.
for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.
But racism and sexism is ok if Democrats do it.
According to the online membership directory of the Owl Club, the Massachusetts Democrat updated his personal information -- including the address of his home that is in his wife's name -- on Sept. 7. The club has long been reviled on campus as "sexist" and "elitist" and, in 1984, was booted from the university for violating federal anti-discrimination laws, authored by Mr. Kennedy.


The Plot to Shush Rush and O’Reilly

Brian C. Anderson wrote in City Journal The rise of alternative media—political talk radio in the eighties, cable news in the nineties, and the blogosphere in the new millennium—has broken the liberal monopoly over news and opinion outlets.

The Democrats maintained control for 40 years because their alies in the MSM helped spread their lies, and there was no way for conservative ideas to be considered. But with political talk radio in the eighties, cable news in the nineties, and the blogosphere in the new millennium conservative ideas are getting equal distribution, and the people find them much more attractive than the tired liberal pap that they get from the MSM.
The Left understands acutely the implications of this revolution, blaming much of the Democratic Party’s current electoral trouble on the influence of the new media’s vigorous conservative voices.
They don't think it is fair that voters hear both sides.
Instead of fighting back with ideas, however, today’s liberals quietly, relentlessly, and illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. Though Republicans have the most to lose in the short run, all Americans who care about our most fundamental rights and the civic health of our democracy need to understand what’s going on—and resist it.

Read the entire article


So who is CAP?

Danny Carlton blogged Senate Dims are in a tizzy because Samuel Alito put on a 1985 resume that he belonged to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

A conservative group, which is why the Dems are so upset about it.
They claim it's a notorious racist group (as if the DNC isn't already a notorious lying group, which makes their claims highly dubious). So what info is there out there about CAP?

Setting aside the 99% of information on the internet that was written within the past few months by Liberals doing their usual historical revisionism, one has to look pretty far to get an accurate picture of who this group really was. First of all note that Fox News' Andrew Napolitano was not only also a member of the group, he served in a leadership position (and says that while he knew Alito at Princeton, wasn't aware that he belonged to CAP)
He also said that the group did not hold meetings, except for board members, and Alito definitely was not on the board. He also said that when he and Alito were at Princeton, someone bombed the ROTC building, and the administration just kicked ROTC off campus, and the two of them had to go to another school to complete their ROTC oblibations, and getting ROTC back on the Princeton Campus was one of the main things that CAP was formed to push for. He also said that the main thing they did was publish a magagazine, which had a disclaimer in it that opinions expressed in an article were not necessarilly those of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton organization.
In order to wade through the Liberal nonsense we need a refresher course in Liberalese.

When someone says... “People should be required to show picture IDs in order to vote.”
A Liberal hears... “Black people shouldn't be allowed to vote.”

When someone says... “Parents should be notified if their minor daughter gets an abortion.”
A Liberal hears... “All un-wed and pregnant women should die cruel and horrible deaths!”

So when CAP's executive director, T. Harding Jones is quoted as saying... “Many Princeton graduates are unhappy over the fact that the administration has seen fit to abrogate the virtual guarantee that 800 would continue to be the number of males in each freshman class.”

Liberals hear... “Women and Blacks shouldn't be allowed to go to college.”
Note: Princeton was not co-ed when Alito attended.
So you can see why Teddy Kennedy is convinced CAP is nothing more than a branch of the KKK combined with the “He-Man Woman Haters Club

First of all, recent reports quote CAP without noting who within the organization actually made the statement. That's a slick trick Liberals use to make one outspoken member seem to fully represent anyone associated with the group. From what I can find, virtually all of the quotes are from one source, T. Harding Jones, who the New York Times noted in 1974, “runs the organization almost single-handedly from its off-campus headquarters.” The nation is being scoured as I write, by Liberal journalists trying to find the elusive Mr. Jones since they can't seem to get any juicy quotes from any other former member of CAP, who all, seem to hold prestigious positions and oppose the very things the Libs are claiming CAP stood for. It's even more confusing given that the editor of CAP's paper in 1983 was none other than East Indian born, Dinesh D'souza, it seems odd to accuse them of opposing minorities.
I believe that Judge Napolitano also said that at one time there was a woman editor of the CAP magazine, and possibly a black editor at another time (or perhaps those were board members)
Another whine against CAP is that they opposed allowing women into Princeton. But up until 1970 Princeton was an all male school. I certainly don't hear the MSM getting in a huff about Hillary Clinton's all female alma mater, Wellesley College, do you? And of course if Princeton Alumns objected to women at Princeton, why it's just logical that they also opposed Blacks, even though none ever said such a thing. It's one of those Liberal-mind-reading things, y'know.

Here's the question I'd like someone to ask Alito... “Mr. Alito isn't it true that members of CAP once, in a drunken stupor, drove a woman into the water and swam away and hid, failing to call the police, a cowardly act which most certainly kept authorities from saving the woman from drowning? Oh, my apologies, I was thinking of someone else.”
Some documents of interest can be found here, here and here.

Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy notes a very interesting parallel.



Elizabeth Holtzman wrote in The Nation Like many others, I have been deeply troubled by Bush's breathtaking scorn for our international treaty obligations under the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

He actually read what our obligations are, and does not interpret our obligations in an overly broad, liberal manner.
I have also been disturbed by the torture scandals
Al Qaeda trains its people to claim they have been tortured when they have not. The interrogation techniques used against captured terrorists do not meet the legal definition of torture, and very few were even interrogated with harsh measures like waterboarding.
and the violations of US criminal laws at the highest levels of our government they may entail, something I have written about in these pages [see Holtzman, "Torture and Accountability," July 18/25, 2005]. These concerns have been compounded by growing evidence that the President deliberately misled the country into the war in Iraq.
Which he did not do. Some of the intelligence that the Clinton administration and some of our allies believed to be true turned out not to be true, but Bush did not create this false intelligence.
But it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans,
No one knows how many were wiretapped, and it appears they were just people called by al Qaeda. Do you really think that terrorist cells in the US have a right to privacy?
in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)
It was not in violation of FISA, they just did not use FISA procedures.
--and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws--that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate.
Then you need to take some Alka-Seltzer. Watergate involved spying on the opposition party for purely political reasons. What Bush is doing is trying to protect the country from another 9/11, and so far he seems to be doing a pretty good job of it. Since 9/11 al Qaeda has attacked Britain, Spain, Jordan, Bali, Australia, and many other places, but it has not hit the US again. Maybe listening on the phone when Al Qaeda calls their cells in the US, and being a bit rough with captured Al Qaeda has helped protect this country.

I know you want to feed the extremists in your party, but if you try something like Impeachment for protecting the country, you will destroy the Democratic Party. So go ahead. Make my day.


Inssurgents vs al Qaeda

NYT reported The story told by the two Iraqi guerrillas cut to the heart of the war that Iraqi and American officials now believe is raging inside the Iraqi insurgency. In October, the two insurgents said in interviews, a group of local fighters from the Islamic Army gathered for an open-air meeting on a street corner in Taji, a city north of Baghdad. Across from the Iraqis stood the men from Al Qaeda, mostly Arabs from outside Iraq. Some of them wore suicide belts. The men from the Islamic Army accused the Qaeda fighters of murdering their comrades. "Al Qaeda killed two people from our group," said an Islamic Army fighter who uses the nom de guerre Abu Lil and who claimed that he attended the meeting. "They repeatedly kill our people." The encounter ended angrily. A few days later, the insurgents said, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and the Islamic Army fought a bloody battle on the outskirts of town.

This reminds me of a gang war, where two rival gangs kill each other off. We need to encourage more of this rivalvy between the insurgents and al Qaeda
The battle, which the insurgents said was fought on Oct. 23, was one of several clashes between Al Qaeda and local Iraqi guerrilla groups that have broken out in recent months across the Sunni Triangle. American and Iraqi officials believe that the conflicts present them with one of the biggest opportunities since the insurgency burst upon Iraq nearly three years ago. They have begun talking with local insurgents, hoping to enlist them to cooperate against Al Qaeda, said Western diplomats, Iraqi officials and an insurgent leader. It is impossible to say just how far the split extends within the insurgency,
It does not matter how far it extends. The more insurgents al Qaeda kills, and the more al Qaeda the insurgents kill, the fewer we and the Iraqis need to kill.
which remains a lethal force with a shared goal of driving the Americans out of Iraq. Indeed, the best the Americans can hope for may be a grudging passivity from the Iraqi insurgents when the Americans zero in on Al Qaeda's forces. But the split within the insurgency is coinciding with Sunni Arabs' new desire to participate in Iraq's political process, and a growing resentment of the militants.
The Sunnis see that ballots are better than bullets, and they also see that more of their own people are being killed, so they have an incentive to either turn in, or kill, both al Qaeda and other insurgents.
Iraqis are increasingly saying that they regard Al Qaeda as a foreign-led force, whose extreme religious goals and desires for sectarian war against Iraq's Shiite majority override Iraqi tribal and nationalist traditions.


Alito's wife in tears

Michelle Malkin blogged Why is this woman crying?

She sat through three days of the Democrate relentless attacks on a man she knows to be an honorable man, and she had just bottled it up, but when Senator Graham offered an apology for what the Senate had done to her husband, the memories of the smear attacks was overwhelming, and she had to leave for an hour or so to recompose herself.
The Political Teen has the video of Judge Alito's wife breaking down as Sen. Lindsey Graham offers an apology for the past three days of relentless smear attacks by the Dems. I've isolated video of Sen. Graham's apology: Download the video (.wmv file). 3.5MB.

I have many differences with Sen. Graham, but thank God for his show of decency and humanity today. Now, where are the apologies from Sens. Schumer, Kennedy, Biden, Feingold, and the rest of smear merchants?


World’s greatest deliberative body

Soxblog produced this photo montage of the world’s greatest deliberative body in action:


Democrats Losing Their Alito Opportunity?

David Corn blogged It doesn't appear to me that the Democrats are striking fear into the hearts of Alito supporters.

I was not aware that was their job. Precisely where iin the constitution does it say they are supposed to do that. I thought they were just supposed to advise and consent to the nomination.
They've been asking the right questions: why do your decisions so often support powerful institutions over the little guy, how deferential will you be toward executive power, why will you say you see a constitutional basis for school desegregation and the use of contraception but will not say whether abortion rights enjoy the same standing? Yet they're not telling a story. I hate to sound like a Hollywood producer (though I wouldn't mind living like one), but this hearing was an opportunity--really, the only one--for the Democrats to present an overarching narrative for the Alito nomination. They needed to define the hearings on their terms: We know Alito's a smart fellow and competent judge, but we're not going to support anyone who is likely to vote to end or drastically undermine the right to an abortion, and it's up to Alito to convince us that is not the case with him.
Why? Roe v Wade was just the result of some Judicial Activism. If it was overturned it would not make abortions illegal; the decision would just go to the states, where you could see whether you were right about how much support it had. You could probably at least get a few Blue state legislatures to approve it. Isn't that enough dead babies to make you happy?
They had to create a showdown. Why? Because otherwise not enough people are going to pay attention to the hearing, and if there is not widespread concern about Alito within the American public, the Democrats are not going to be able to block him.
Are you saying the Republicans should have let Clinton get by with Ruth Bader Ginsburg
While the Democrats have generated moments of conflict with the occasional sharp question, there has been no shaping of the event. It just looks like the usual and expected partisan back-and-forth, with Democrats looking--that is, hoping--for a gotcha moment, and Alito not obliging. (For my money, the Democrats and the liberal public interest groups have spent too much time on Alito's membership in the conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton outfit. I understand why his affiliation in a group that was opposed to boosting the admission of women and minorities at his alma mater seems to his foes to be powerful ammo, but it did happen two decades ago and does not speak directly to the issue of what is at stake today.)
And from what I hear that is not the purpose of the organization, but just what a few articles in their magazine called for, and the magazine said the opinions of the authors do not reflect the opinion of the organization.
After the first day of questioning, many anti-Alito advocates were disappointed in the Democrats, who failed to create a larger dynamic for the hearing. One problem: the most effective interrogators on the Democratic side have less seniority on the committee. The best hitters--Russell Feingold, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin--come at the end of the Democratic lineup, long after the old lions--Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy--have had their turn and have set the tone. Durbin even didn't get his swings at Alito until Day Two. By then the die was cast. Or the moment lost.

And Alito--no John Roberts Jr.--has been doing just fine. He stares at his Democratic inquisitors with an unvarying expression that might even creep them out a little. But he has not gotten flustered. He has given non-answers that often sound like answers, rather than say he would not answer a question. He comes across as dweebish, hardly threatening. Which is why the Democrats needed to make this hearing not so much about him but about larger principles. They had to do it with drama and flair. They had to do it in a way to capture the public imagination. Maybe this was too tall an order and not realistically possible. But it certainly hasn't occurred. Alito is closer to the Big Bench, and America is closer to an unrestrained conservative-tilted Court with a majority of justices hostile to abortion rights.
Closer, but not close enough. I would still like to see one or two of the left wing Justices resign or die.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mexico Demands U.S. Allow More Immigration

Deb at EIMC blogged

Diplomats from Mexico and Central America on Monday demanded guest worker programs
I actually support a guest worker program, where each prospective guest worker would be subjected to health tests and a criminal background test, and where each would carry an ID card that was impossible to forge, and which had a photo, a fingerprint, and the date after which the holder must be back in his home country
and the legalization of undocumented migrants in the United States,
I totally oppose that, but I would be willing for them to get a guest worker card, under the same conditiions as describead above, along with the payment of a stiff fine.
while criticizing a U.S. proposal for tougher border enforcement.
I totally support tougher border enforcement, including building the wall(s) and use of the National Guard on to supplement the Border Patrol.
Read the whole sorry story…
Oh, that’s nice. Last I looked Mexico still didn’t allow an American to own land over there. I wonder how that would work if we were to “demand” they change this law? If all of Mexico is going to move up here we’re eventually going to need more room. That way all can contribute to the tax fund. Illegal is illegal. If they want to change our laws they should become citizens and then vote accordingly. I think this should go in the “don’t bite the hand that feeds you” category….

Confused ByTheTruth blogged illegal immigration is well... illegal. People who come into the country illegally should be removed. Period.

RightVoices blogged The only reason they want this is because the “illegal immigrants” send billions of dollars back to their economies while not draining any of their countries resources.

Desert Rat blogged Oh ya...cross our borders illegally...sneak into our country...and DEMAND driver's licenses! Hey Wetback: we HAVE a LEGAL immigration process...why don't you follow that????


Why is Roe v. Wade so important

Danny Carlton blogged I know why I think it's important and why other pro-lifers think it's important, but why do the pro-choice crowd make it such a big issue. The Alito confirmation is supposedly hinging on that one issue. Why?

Because Roe is the most visible example where Judicial Activism established a "Law" that the Democrats could not have gotten passed through the House and the Senate even when they controlled both houses. If Roe is reversed, not only will the abortion industry (a major donor to Democratic candidates) disappear, but people may begin challenging other examples of Judicial Activism.
As in most case there's the given reason, then there's the real reason.

I remember hearing a story several years back about a church that built a new building. the pastor wanted the parking lot paved, but the deacons, and most of the members didn't want to have to pay the extra for it, and felt a gravel parking lot would work just fine. So it was decided to have a gravel parking lot. Then came the question of size. For some odd reason the pastor was adamant about the size of the parking lot, insisting that it was very important that it accommodate at least a certain amount of cars. The added expense of have a slightly large parking lot wasn't all that much, besides the pastor had been voted down on the paving thing, so the deacons and the church members agreed to the size. But—once the building and the parking lot were finished they got a surprise—well, all but the pastor. It turns out that the zoning laws were very specific that parking lots larger than a certain size must be paved, and once the land was covered with gravel, and the gravel pressed, it was parking space. It was either pave the parking lot or pay a hefty fine. The pastor was the only one who'd bothered to study the zoning laws. His real reason for insisting on a specific size for the parking lot became clear.
So why Roe v. Wade? We know the given reason, that it supposedly about a woman's choice, yet we see the pro-choicers throw fits when laws are enacted to prevent minors from being forced into abortions. How is that pro-choice? We see them throw fits when anyone is educated about alternatives to abortion. We see them throw fits even when a license plate that says "Choose Life" is offered. So obvious, while "choice" is the given reason, it's not the real reason.
They don't even support people from having a choice, unless it is on something they approve of. I am Pro Life, but I am also Pro Choice:
  1. I favor allowing parents to have a choice as to what school to send their children to, and if the government is going to set appropriate $X to educate Y children in the public school system, I believe that $x/y dollars should go to the school the parents choose, regardless of whether it is a public, religious, or private school
  2. I believe that every homeowner should have a choice whether or not to buy a gun to protect his life and his property
  3. I support tax cuts, because I believe that the individual can make a better choice of where his money should be spent than the government.
  4. I do not like the idea of a government dictating what must be said, but I believe that if a school district, or school, or even a teacher makes a choice to do so, he/she should be free to lead his/her class in a prayer at the start of the day.
  5. I believe that if a science teacher is presented with text books reflecting the Secular Humanist religion's view of how life on Earth began, he/she should have a choice to also mention alternative theories, including the story of Creation as stated in Genesis, or the concept that there was an Intelligent Designer in control of the process.
Abortion is a water-shed issue. On one side you have those that see life as a something sacred, special. It's sort of like that tag on the mattress. A higher authority has deemed it cannot be removed, so we fear to touch it. Ironically some people who leave those tags on their mattress will insist on the right to murder babies in the womb and old and infirm people in hospices. They're one the other side. They see life as just another thing in a universe void of absolutes.
As an example of the lack of absolutes in their position, many of them oppose the death penalty, where slightly over 1,000 have been executed since the Supreme Court restored the possibility of the Death Penalty, when the condemned has had a trial by a jury of his peers, and numerous state and federal appeals, and yet they support the killing of over 3,000 babies every day, without any sort of judicial hearing, much less a jury trial, and without any opportunity for even a single appeal.
And that's the linchpin. If there are no absolutes, then the inconvenience of pregnancy can be ended without the guilt of murder. But if there are absolutes, life itself would logically be the primary absolute.

It's not abortion the Liberals fight against—it's God Himself. They want no authority higher than the one they create themselves, and abortion allows them to maintain that charade. It's their way of shaking their fist at God and saying, "See you're not so tough, watch us murder babies!!" If we allow anyone, anywhere to put any kind of limits on the ability to slaughter babies in the womb, it allows an inkling of recognition that something exists which is more powerful than the Liberal's myth of the utopian state. That, they must not ever allow.

And so the central issue in the confirmation of then next Justice of the US Supreme Court is whether he will allow the ruling that babies can be murdered anywhere for any reason, to stand. Do we recognize an authority above our own or not?

Hyscience blogged In Sunday's SF Gate there's an interesting statement:
(...) From the pro-choice point of view, pro-choice makes sense, that is: 'If you believe that a life is being taken here, don't have an abortion, but do not impose your view of this on the rest of us,'

(...) From a pro-life point of view, if you're clear that this is a life, then what the pro-choice person has said to you is the exact equivalent of, 'If you have a problem with murder, don't do it -- it just has to be legal for other people who want to do it.'
Certainly one has to ask how is it that a sentient being can so callously place freedom to choose on such a lofty plain while ignoring the murder of an innocent alive and well but yet unborn child!

Even if Roe is overturned that would just return the matter to the states. In the SF Gate article he referred to, they suggest that there 22 are states that are highly likely to ban abortion: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, there are 9 moderately likely to ban abortion: Arizona, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, and there are 21 most likely to protect abortion: Alaska, California, Connecticutt, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming. If you were wondering, as I was, why there were 52 "states", including the District of Columbia, it is because they can't decide what Rhode Island will do. It is listed as Highly likely to ban abortion and Most likely to protect abortion (I guess it is too small for the people to make up their minds).


So much for democracy

U.S. News and World Report writer Michael Barone blogged Here's James Risen, the New York Times reporter who coauthored the paper's December 16 story on NSA surveillance of foreign terrorists, flogging his new book on the Today show. He presents an interesting theory of governance.

Well, I–I think that during a period from about 2000–from 9/11 through the beginning of the gulf–the war in Iraq, I think what happened was you–we–the checks and balances
Checks and balances refers to the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch being equal, and each able to check and balance the other. It does not refer to career bureaucrats being able to check or balance what the elected leaders want.
that normally keep American foreign policy and national security policy towards the center kind of broke down. And you had more of a radicalization of American foreign policy in which the–the–the career professionals were not really given a chance to kind of forge a consensus within the administration. And so you had the–the–the principles–Rumsfeld, Cheney and Tenet and Rice and many others–who were meeting constantly, setting policy and really never allowed the people who understand–the experts who understand the region to have much of a say.
Did they not let you have a say, or did they just not allow you to dictate how they did their jobs?
So, "the career professionals were not really given a chance to kind of forge a consensus within the administration." Evidently, such consensus-building is how government is supposed to operate. Instead, you had folks like "the principles [sic, presumably transcriber's mistake]—Rumsfeld, Cheney and Tenet and Rice and many others—who were meeting constantly, settling policy, and really never allowed the people who understand—the experts who understand the region to have much of a say."

What a scandal! Presidential appointees like Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, and Condoleezza Rice and an elected official like Dick Cheney were meeting together! How dare they? And they were settling policy! Astonishing! What will such people dare to do next?
They were just appointed by the man that had just been elected, after telling the American people what he wanted to do. It is too bad if the bureaucracy did not want to do it that way.
Risen makes it quite clear how he thinks the government should be run. Elected officials like the president and vice president and top presidential appointees should sit quietly in their chairs. They should not meet, at least not very often. They should wait for career government employees—"the experts who understand the region"—to "forge a consensus." Policy should always be kept "toward the center," regardless of what the American people or their elected president think.
That is a stupid idea. The State Department should do what the Secretary of State and the President says, regardless of whether that is they way they have always done something. And the Pentagon should listen to the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief, not just to other Generals.
So that is the New York Times's idea, or at least this New York Times reporter's idea, of how democratic representative government should work. Unelected bureaucrats should rule. If the policies produced by their understanding of the region should produce September 11, they should still rule. Elected officials' jobs are to sit in their chairs, to meet infrequently if at all, and to accept the decisions of the unelected and for the most part unremovable bureaucrats.
That is the problem. They should be removable. That does not say that each time a new administration comes the entire deparment needs to be reformed, but if a career bureaucrat does not want to do something the way the Secretary in charge of his/her department says, he/she should be fired, or at lease reassigned to some place where he/she cannot interfere with the administration's policies.
At least so long as those bureaucrats' policy ideas are considered suitable by James Risen or the New York Times. One suspects that Risen's theory of government would shift completely if the bureaucrats opposed the policies he liked and the elected officials and their top appointees favored them. Then Risen might favor democratic government. But not now, not while George W. Bush is in office. James Risen: for democracy, but only if elections come out his way.


Oppose Changes to Iraqi Charter

NYT reported The leader of Iraq's most powerful party indicated today that his group would block substantive changes to the country's new constitution, despite a promise to Sunnis to consider amendments.

That is a mistake, and one that is liable to cause the terrorist attacks to continue and even increase. The Sunni's were stupid for boycotting the first election. It is not likely that they will be effective in making too many changes this time, but they were promised their proposed changes would be considered, and they should be considered, and possibly some of them should be adopted. The Shi'ites will still have the largest number of members of parliment, and together with the Kurds they dont need to worry about the Sunnis getting in control.
Last summer, as Sunni Arabs protested vehemently against the proposed constitution, the Shiite and Kurd leaders who dominated its drafting promised there would be a four-month window for amending the document following the formation of a new government. But Abdul Azziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution, the most influential group in the ruling Shiite coalition, today said that "the first principle is not to change the essence of the constitution," according to The Associated Press. "This constitution was endorsed by the Iraqi people," he said, during a speech in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Mr. Hakim appeared to rule out in particular any change in the constitution's provisions allowing the creation of strong regional provinces, a point that had angered many Sunnis.


Israel cuts off nose to spite its face

MSNBC reports Israel won't do business with Pat Robertson after the evangelical leader suggested Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke was divine punishment, a tourism official said Wednesday, putting into doubt plans to develop a large Christian tourism center in northern Israel. Avi Hartuv, spokesman for Israel's tourism minister, said officials are furious with Robertson's suggestion that the stroke was retribution for Sharon's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip last summer. "We can't accept this kind of statement," Hartuv said. Robertson is leading a group of evangelicals who have pledged to raise $50 million to build the Christian Heritage Center in Israel's northern Galilee region, where tradition says Jesus lived and taught.

What Robertson said was stupid, but equally stupid is Hartuv deciding to kill a plan to build a Christian Heritage Center just because of a stupid statement made by Pat.
Under a tentative agreement, Robertson's group was to put up the funding, while Israel would provide land and infrastructure. Israeli officials believe the project will generate tens of millions of tourism dollars. But the project now is in question in light of Robertson's comments, said Hartuv. "We will not do business with him, only with other evangelicals who don't back these comments," Hartuv said. "We will do business with other evangelical leaders, friends of Israel, but not with him."


David Letterman and Bill O'Reilly

On January 3 Bill O'Reilly appeared on the Dave Letterman show. I did not watch Letterman, but I saw the portion of the interview that Bill showed on The O'Reilly Factor. A good friend of mine called to my attention that Letterman has the interview here (look for 1/3/06).

Pat Boone wrote I love Dave Letterman. He's my idea of the funniest man in America. I appreciate his intellect, his quirky, irritated ideas about what's funny, and certainly respect his right to whatever opinions he has about anything.

I don't really care for Letterman (he is certainly no Johnny Carson), but I respect your opinion.
I confess he irks me with his nightly ridicule and denigration of our president.
I completely agree with you there, and that is one of the reasons I dont watch Letterman.
He's really got it in for George Bush, and he and the staff select little snippets of speeches, or a stumble, or a door that doesn't open, or even just a little aside and shoulder-shaking chuckle – anything that makes the president appear foolish – and revel in derisive laughter.

Unfortunately, the president provides way too much fodder for them since he isn't the gifted communicator Reagan was, or the charmer Bill Clinton is.

And I understand and even sympathize with the unhappiness Dave and so many others in the media and entertainment business feel about George Bush and his administration and their policy decisions. I do think Karl Rove and those around the president could do a much, much better job of explaining to the American people (and at the same time, our allies) how we're doing and what we're doing – and why.

But still, I bristled a couple of nights ago when Dave had Bill O'Reilly on as a guest and treated Bill in a way no "guest" should ever be treated, certainly not on a comedy/talk show, by a host who is not seen as a political commentator or even especially qualified to opine on complex geopolitical matters.
I completely agree with you.
Dave is supposed to be – and usually is – funny. That's why he gets the big bucks, and I guess he earns 'em. But from the moment Bill sat down, you could tell Dave was uptight and spoiling for confrontation. Not the good natured, spiky and funny sparring with a Dr. Phil – no, Dave obviously wanted to take Bill on, and down.

He asked Bill rough questions, and Bill had the answers and a lot of examples. He rattled off recent incidents across the heartland where Christian civil liberties were being scuttled by liberal jurists, and Dave cut him off. "Do those things really matter? Can't you just ignore things like that and go on to more important things?"

When Bill tried to answer, Dave cut him off, changing the subject. "Why are you so critical of Cindy Sheehan (the mother of the slain solder in Iraq who is crusading against the war)? Can't you just leave her alone?"

Again, Bill began to explain he sympathized greatly with the mom, but saw her being used as a pawn by longtime anti-war – any war – interests, and Dave cut in again: "Instead of asking why she's doing what she's doing, why don't you ask why we're in Iraq in the first place?"

Of course, since it was Dave's audience, disposed to agree with whatever he says and also reacting to the angry way Dave asked, it applauded wildly. Bill tried to calmly answer, but Dave had had enough. He acidly, with his superb comic attitude and timing, said, "Bill, I'm not a journalist like you, and I may not have access to all the information you do – but my gut tells me about 60 percent of what you say is crap!"
And Dave admitted that he had never watched the O'Reilly Factor, so how in the heck could he know whether what O'Reilly said was true or not.
Well, the audience of course erupted in glee at that. And before Bill really had a chance to get a conversation going again, Dave thanked him for coming and went to a commercial. He'd obviously gotten what he wanted – a chance to publicly disdain and embarrass Bill O'Reilly.

Well, Bill is a big boy and can take care of himself. The next night on his own show, he was gracious and simply pointed out that Dave's business is being funny while Bill's is reporting news and sharing valid information – to a far larger audience than Dave's.

But host Dave's mistreatment of guest Bill still provokes me, especially in view of his audience's warmth to Dave's echoing question "Why are we in Iraq anyway?" It's become an acceptable social choice by now to forget the answer to that question. It's sad there's any need, but it seems there can't be too much reminding.

OK: 9-11. Airliners taken over by terrorists who destroy them and hundreds of innocent passengers. World Trade Center destroyed. Over 3,000 Americans killed. Evidence being reported of many plots to do more of the same.

The question of why to be in Iraq is preceded by the question "What are we doing about this? How can we prevent this from happening again?"

Well, leaders of many important allied nations agreed with our best intelligence that Saddam Hussein was developing WMDs. We know, the world knows, that he has developed and used poison gas and other WMDs against his own people. He hates America and Israel, and says so. He not only commissioned militant Muslims to seek out and kill Americans and Jews anywhere in the world, in the aftermath of Bush Sr.'s retaliation against Iraq for taking over Kuwait, but Saddam also is known to have supplied money (lots of it) and arms and weapons to terrorist groups who could do his bidding.

Additionally – and I've been absolutely astonished that the administration hasn't made this widely known – there are documented specific eyewitness reports about the exchanges of money, weapons and information, as well as the training of terrorist operatives in Iraq, between Saddam's top lieutenants and those of Osama bin Laden.
I agree with you. No one is saying that Saddam planned 9/11, but he certainly had ties to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, and the White House has not responded adequately to the Dems when they falsely scream Sadaam had no ties to al Qaeda
I can only suppose that, in today's contrary and suspicious and hyper-critical atmosphere, government officials have hesitated to speak about things they may not have courtroom-type incontrovertible evidence for.

But any rational, unbiased adult could assume that, if a dictator had the desire, the means and the expressed intention – to say nothing of the track record of actually using WMDs – to develop and deploy them, he could play the "shell game" he did with the U.N. inspectors and then, when allied forces were forging toward Baghdad, he could simply slip all the actual WMDs across the border into Syria. And this is exactly what I believe we'll learn, in time, actually did happen. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
As I understand it there were a large number of trucks carrying something from Iraq into Syria in the weeks before the US moved into Iraq.
Why our government spokesmen, and even Sen. McCain, keep repeating "we found no evidence of WMD" or worse, "there were no WMDs," I can't understand. There were, at least until we got there, and any playground kid who ever played "hide and seek" can fill in the gaps.

But, to answer Dave's question, which Bill wasn't given the chance to do: We're in Iraq because we're Americans, Dave! That's what Americans do – we not only take whatever action we need to take to protect our own citizens, we also come to the aid of the oppressed, the victims, the desolate and devastated.

We rush in when tsunamis and earthquakes strike, we help flood and famine victims, we come to the aid of minorities in Bosnia, Rwanda and little countries like Kuwait when they're criminally overtaken by a neighboring dictator. When people are hurting and victimized, we care, and we do something about it.

Anti-war activists seem to think that we can wave a peace sign at an armed, masked terrorist and he'll just nod, "OK, sorry to have bothered you" and go away. When will the liberals among us, the knee-jerk civil libertarians who yell bloody murder at the very thought the government may be quietly wire tapping where and when they feel the need to – for our protection – wake up to the fact that criminals and sworn enemies use our liberties, our democratic structure and strictures against us?

In time of war, citizens in a democracy voluntarily suspend some of their privileges and unite against the enemy, sacrificing, for a while, so that we can protect the structure and hopefully get back to our full freedoms again.

I see a picture of a neighborhood, on a nice cul-de-sac, happy and contented. One day a nest of rattlesnakes is discovered in one neighbor's backyard. Several neighbors insist on going in together and wiping out the nest, before the snakes inevitably slither into the other yards. In this instance, which is most important? Is it privacy or wiping out the snakes, before every home is afflicted and people unnecessarily die?

Why are we in Iraq, Dave?

Because we're Americans – and Americans kill snakes before they kill us!

You're a daddy now, Dave, with a backyard. Think about it.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Top ten blogger lies

gapingvoid blogged

  1. I don't consider myself an A-Lister.
    No, but I turn up for speaking gigs at all the big conferences anyway. Uh-huh.
    I want my 15 minutes of fame.
  2. I don't care about traffic.
    Of course I don't. Even though I'm a freelance consultant, and my blog is my primary way of marketing myself. Rock on.
    Why spend all this time if no one reads it.
  3. I've read your blog.
    Yeah, well I read the "Musings of an unemployed tech consultant" bit on the title bar, before clicking off. That counts.
    I didn't say I read it daily.
  4. I started blogging back in 1999.
    Of course, back in 1999 a Flash-animated, brochureware homepage was considered a blog. Kinda sorta.
    There are sites today that consider themselves blogs, but if they don't have RSS and if they don't have a comment area and/or a trackback capability I don't agree they are a blog.
  5. My blog has no commercial agenda.
    I'm far too sexy to care about money. Exactly.

  6. I only have advertising on my blog as an experiment.
    That explains why the adstrip is right under the "Musings of an unemployed tech consultant" bit. Indeed.

  7. I've never liked the unegalitarian term, "A-Lister".
    Even though I am one. Oh, the irony.
    But if I was one, I might find I like the term.
  8. I'm proud to be a D-Lister.
    Even though I spend 7 hours a day writing the thing. Right.
    And I don't do anything to increase my position in the TTLB Ecosystem
  9. He's a big hero of mine.
    He's got more traffic than downtown Mexico City and I'm hoping to God he links to me one day.
    And maybe if he hears I said this he will link to me.
  10. I really admire what she's doing for the blogosphere.
    I've noticed that she's currently single.
    And maybe if she hears I said this she will go out with me.


The Pro-war Libertarian Quiz

Matt Welch wrote in Reason How far are you willing to go to win the War on Terror?

I'm interested in breaking the cycle for a moment, stepping back, and asking the Glenn Reynoldses and Thomas Sowells of the world one question: How far is too far in the War on Terror? I figure since their approach certainly has more resonance within the White House than mine, the answers would provide a more accurate weathervane than my feverish imagination. And given the eternal foreign policy divides within the libertarian big tent, it may help clarify the differences between camps.

The question is a bit open-ended, so here are 10 yes/no hypotheticals. My answer to every one is "no":

  1. Should the National Security Agency or CIA have the ability to monitor domestic phone calls or e-mails without obtaining judicial approval?
    Absolutely. What they learn might not be able to be used in a court of law, and they should not disclose what they learn to the press or to anyone who might disclose it publically, but they should be free to do whatever they need to do to prevent another terrorist attack.
  2. Should the government have the ability to hold an American citizen without charge, indefinitely, without access to a lawyer, if he is believed to be part of a terrorist cell?
    I believe he should have access to a lawyer, but I do not believe that it should just be treated as any normal crime.
  3. Can you imagine a situation in which the government would be justified in waterboarding an American citizen?
    Yes. If an American citizen was working with al Qaeda to set of a nuclear weapon in an American city I don't believe his American citizenship should prevent him from being forced to reveal his plan for destroying a lot of American lives.
  4. Are there American journalists who should be investigated for possible treason? Should Sedition laws be re-introduced?
    Certainly the editors and reporters at the New York Times should be investigated for treason. And possibly journalists at WaPo and other media outlets.
  5. Should the CIA be able to legally assassinate people in countries with which the U.S. is not at war?
    Sure. It should not be done as a routine matter, and it should require specific authorization from the President, but a bullet is much less expensive than going to war.
  6. Should anti-terrorism cops be given every single law-enforcement tool available in non-terrorist cases?
    Absolutely, plus some tools not available in non-terrorist cases. But certainly any tool available for drug enforcement, organized crime enforcement, etc should be available.
  7. Should law enforcement be able to seize the property of a suspected (though not charged) American terrorist, and then sell it?
    Seize it, but not sell it.
  8. Should the U.S. military be tasked with enforcing domestic crime?
  9. Should there be a national I.D. card, and should it be made available to law enforcement on demand?
  10. Should a higher percentage of national security-related activities and documents be made classified, and kept from the eyes of the Congress, the courts, and the public?
    No, there is too much classified now, but if it is leaked the penalities on the leaker, and those protecting the leaker, should be increased.

My belief, crudely summarized, is not only that you do not need to imitate totalitarians to beat them, but that it doesn't actually help.
You do not need to be totalitarian against everyone, but terrorist cells in this country should have no protection, and an American citizen that joins a terrorist cell should lose his rights as an American citizen.


President determined to defend U.S.

Paul Greenberg wrote in Townhall Dana Priest of The Washington Post sounds shocked - shocked! - to discover that George W. Bush ordered a complete remobilization and reinvigoration of the CIA immediately after September 11th:

But remember she works for the Washington Post, which together with the NYT and other members of the MSM do not fear the terrorists, but they fear the President fighting them.
"The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al-Qaida has grown into the largest CIA covert-action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over clandestine tactics . . . ."
He did exactly what he said he would do and what he should do.
This is news? Isn't this just what W. told the country he would do in the aftermath of September 11th?
"Ours will be a broad campaign, fought on many fronts. It's a campaign that will be waged by day and by night, in the light and in the shadow, in battles that you will see and battles you won't see. It's a campaign waged by soldiers and sailors, marines and airmen; and also by FBI agents and law-enforcement officials and diplomats and intelligence officers. . . . Our campaign will be difficult, and it will take time. But I can promise you this: It will be waged with determination, and it will be waged until we win. We will do whatever it takes to protect our country." - George W. Bush, Oct. 17, 2001.
Apparently W. meant it. According to the Post's Ms. Priest, the president signed an order six days after September 11th empowering American intelligence agencies in a way not seen since the Second World War. Gosh, just as if we had suffered a surprise attack and thousands of our people had been killed in a second Pearl Harbor. Do you think maybe the president decided to fight this like a world war because, far ahead of his critics, he realized we were in one? The result: A moribund CIA was suddenly brought to life, just as the FBI and OSS were during the last great world war.

To quote Ms. Priest: "The CIA faced the day after the attacks with few al-Qaida informants, a tiny paramilitary division and no interrogators, much less a system for transporting suspected terrorists and keeping them hidden for interrogation." A lot has changed since then. The CIA proved instrumental, if not decisive, in winning a war in Afghanistan. It is helping to win another in Iraq. It has made covert alliances with foreign intelligence services across the globe, has been given billions of dollars to set up counter-terrorism operations in two dozen countries, and is reported to have set up secret prisons - excuse me, ahem, detainment centers - in at least eight other friendly countries. And inevitably, to borrow a phrase Ronald Reagan used a couple of decades ago, Mistakes Were Made. Just as they are in every war.


Monday, January 09, 2006


Jesse Kornbluth wrote on The Huffington Post Would you like to turn on a cable TV channel and know that you will never see Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, James Dobson or Ralph Reed? Would you like to know that the news program you're watching --- whatever the politics of the network's owner --- presents verifiable facts from respectable sources?

Then watch Fox News. It is Fair and Balanced.
Would you like to watch commentary on the news by experts whose opinions don't come from the daily talking points of either political party? Me too. That's why I'm writing this open letter to George Soros with one simple request --- PLEASE BUY CNN.
Why should he? CNN is as far left as it can get, and still get any viewers at all.
That thought has come to me from time to time over the last few years, as CNN has devolved into an anemic version of Fox News.
Fox is destroying them in the ratings. Their ratings are not as bad as MSNBC, but they are approaching it.
But it became an incessant drumbeat in my head last week, when Jack Abramoff took his plea and almost everyone on cable bought the Republican lie that this is a "non-partisan" scandal. It is anything but. Although a few Democrats did get chump change from Abramoff,
40 0f 45 Democratic Senators Took Abramoff Money
the tribes that hired him, and SunCruz Casinos --- here's a comparison of his "giving" --- Abramoff's ultimate reason for breathing was to advance Republican causes and cement Republican power.
No his ultimate objective was to increaseAbramoff power. He may have helped the Republicans a little more than the Democrats, but that is because they control both the House and the Senate.
I can understand why Fox News would misrepresent reality --- but why the others?

The reasonable conclusion is not that Fox has such a genius programming formula that everyone else slavishly imitates it. It's that the owners of other cable networks are not much interested in the news business. Except, that is, in a network's ability to turn a profit.
It is called Capitalism.
As for telling the truth about Washington's sordid politics --- forget it. These suits know how much they have to lose if they cross the most vindictive administration in our history. Consider the rich defense contracts of General Electric (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC)
Then why is NBC, like CBS and ABC, in the pocket of the Dems.
And those oh-so-valuable government sources that the publications owned by Time Warner (CNN) have cultivated. To say nothing about regulators who might want to take a closer look at television licensing and movie ratings. [At Viacom, which owns CBS, Sumner Redstone, a liberal Democrat, has been refreshingly blunt about his bias --- he announced he was voting for Bush in 2004 because "I vote for what's good for Viacom."]
But he left Dan Rather on the air until his dishonesty was exposed by the blogs.
It's not the sort of charge you can ever prove --- there won't be any memos to leak or e-mails to forward --- but I'd bet the ranch that the owners of the other cable networks have sent the word down: Get with the program. Treat all issues as if there are two, equally plausible positions --- even when "on the one hand this, on the other hand that" programming results in pointless blather or blatant whoring for Republican causes.

I submit there's an audience that wants more than propaganda from cable TV. I believe many millions of viewers want real news --- without spin from any side --- and informed opinion that's clearly labeled.
You are right. And they watch Fox News to get a Fair and Balanced presentation.
And I'd bet that audience is vastly bigger than the numbers CNN is currently attracting.


Merkel:Criticizes US

Spiegel Online reports Days before her inaugural visit to the United States, German Chancellor has criticized the US detention without trial of terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay.....

SPIEGEL: The US government feels it is legitimate to hold prisoners under water until they believe they are drowning. Is this acceptable to you?

Merkel: There was a similar debate in Germany over the 2002
kidnapping of Jakob von Metzler, the banker's son. The issue then was whether it is legitimate to threaten or use torture to save the life of a child. The public debate showed that the overwhelming majority of citizens believed that even in such a case, the end does not justify the means. That is also my position.

What about to save 1,000 children? How about 1,000,000?
SPIEGEL: Do you agree with Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble's view that in the fight against terrorism, it is necessary to use information that may have been obtained through torture?

Merkel: Not in a criminal proceeding.
We are not seeking to sue terrorists, or even arrest them and send them to prison.
Information obtained under dubious circumstances cannot play a role in legal proceedings in a constitutional state. But everything that's available must be taken into account in threat prevention. What do you do when other countries' intelligence agencies give you information and you aren't entirely certain about its source? Simply ignore it? That's impossible. We have a duty to guarantee the safety of our citizens.
So you don't want us to use torture to protect our citizens, but if we do use it, and learn something that will protect German citizens, you would be happy to use it.
SPIEGEL: In the interest of threat prevention, can German officials be sent to the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to interrogate detainees?

Merkel: An institution like Guantanamo in its present form cannot and must not exist in the long term.
What business is it of yours? And do you think they would be treated better in a Middle East prison?
We must find different ways of dealing with prisoners.
You can lock them up, let them go, or kill them. What other alternatives do you suggest? And if you don't want us to lock them up in Gitmo, do you want us to let them go so they can try to kill us (or you) again (many that have been released from Gitmo continue with jihad), or would you prefer that we just kill them?
As far as I'm concerned there's no question about that.