Friday, August 31, 2007

Football news

The college football season begins in earnest tomorrow. The NFL is right around the corner (thank goodness that the necessary evil and endless drudgery of meaningless "pre-season" games are about over). Anyway, two important pieces of news today: first, it appears likely that Demetrius Jones might well be Charlie Weis' starting quarterback for Notre Dame tomorrow in their season opener vs Georgia Tech. It wouldn't surprise me--Jones has speed and good running ability, and thus if he can throw just a little, would pose the most problems for opposing defenses. Meanwhile, David Garrard, in a big surprise, has been named the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, replacing Byron Leftwich. Nobody seemed to see that coming, though Garrard badly out-performed Leftwich in the pre-season, and Leftwich has a long history of injuries.

Oh, and--surprise!--with training camp over and the season looming, the NY Giants' Michael Strahan ended his holdout.

The meaning for conservatives of Sen. John Warner's announcement that he will not seek re-election

I'd say the guys at Powerline about sum it up for me: "This means that the Senate will be losing one of its biggest windbags, and that the Republican caucus will be losing one of its least steadfast conservatives. Warner generally voted as a conservative, but on big ticket items he seemed to believe it was statesmanlike (or at least made for good sound-bites and good press) to take a moderate or liberal line. "

Friday's good news from Iraq

Big improvements on Haifa Street in Baghdad, once a hotbed of terrorism. Quote: ""IF you saw any news clips of intense combat last January, you were probably watching the fighting unfolding on Baghdad's Haifa Street: 10 days of grim sectarian violence. Until we put a stop to it...Six months ago, terror ruled. The streets were empty of civilians. Shops were shuttered, facades were shot up, and hate graffiti covered the intact walls. Power was out, and the district was out of hope. The residents who could leave had already left. It would've been easy to write off Haifa Street. Instead, 1-14 Cav and their foster parent, the 2nd brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, switched gears. First, they won the fight. Next, they were determined to win the peace. AND the numbers in "AO Warhorse," their area of operations, reveal an impressive transition from a hellhole to a livable - if still understandably nervous - neighborhood: From 74 attacks on our troops in January, the violence dropped to 20 attempts in August. And they were minor attacks, compared to those of the past. Overall, murder rates in Baghdad are down by two-thirds, while attacks on the Iraqi police and civilians have declined for months. In fact, 2nd Brigade is now "out of the checkpoint business," according to its commander, Col. Bryan Roberts. With the Iraqi police doing its job, Roberts can muster as many as 34 combat patrols a day - the presence we always needed and didn't have."

Peace has also returned to Ramadi, a place in the Sunni triangle, again formerly a hotbed of insurgent anti-U.S. sentiment. But now a major police station, with the vigorous approval of the locals, is named after a U.S. marine. In east Baghdad, meanwhile, there's been another successful raid against terrorist insurgents by coalition forces. And in the Tigris River Valley.

Meanwhile, in Iskandariyah, over 500 citizens have joined a Concerned Citizens Program, which is helping to root out terrorist insurgents.

American commander in Iraq David Petraeus, in an interview with an Australian newspaper, hints at what he will tell the congress in September--that there has been major improvement in Iraq. Quote: "General Petraeus told The Australian during a face-to-face interview at his Baghdad headquarters there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year, a doubling in the seizure of insurgents' weapons caches between January and August, a rise in the number of al-Qa'ida "kills and captures" and a fall in the number of coalition deaths from roadside bombings. "We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress and we believe al-Qa'ida is off balance at the very least," he said."

The debate over Iraq continues to shift

Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has abandoned a strict withdrawal timetable. Quote:
"Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq. Reid acknowledged that his previous firm demand for a spring withdrawal deadline had become an obstacle for a small but growing number of Republicans who have said they want to end the war but have been unwilling to set a timeline. "There is no reason that this be Democrat versus Republican," he said."I don't think we have to think that our way is the only way," Reid said of specific dates during an interview in his office here. "I'm not saying, 'Republicans, do what we want to do.' Just give me something that you think you would like to do, that accomplishes some or all of what I want to do."

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part 7

Another easy one. It came here, on Olbermann's August 13 show, on which he once again awarded his "worst person in the world" award to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Why? Apparently it had to do with John Edwards, Edwards' dislike of Fox News, and Mr. O'Reilly's response. Quote: "Responding to Senator John Edwards, who said, succinctly and aptly, quote, Fox News I think has a long history of bias against Democrats. We have to stand up to them. It‘s time to put a stop to this. You know what Fox Noise does to its critics, it lies about them.
Bill-O replies, John Edwards has been on the Fox News Channel 33 times, 33 times. Not once could I find anything insulting, demeaning or disrespectful to the senator. So he‘s actually lying, is he not?"

Okay, so it appears Mr. Olbermann fairly accurately represents O'Reilly's point here. Now--how does our friend Keith respond? Quote: "No, you are lying, Billy. May 24th, John Edwards is called the, quote, “$400 haircut man” by Sean Hannity on Fox Noise. August 3rd, John Edwards is called, quote, “the Breck Girl,” and, quote, “the biggest fraud running for president,” quote, by John Gibson on Fixed News Radio. June 4th, John Edwards is called, quote, “dopey,” by Bill O‘Reilly on Fox Noise. June 8th, John Edwards is called, quote, “the biggest phony in the world” by Bill O‘Reilly on Fixed News. Not once could I find anything insulting, demeaning or disrespectful to the senator. You would probably have a much more successful search, Bill, if you took your head out of your heiny."

Wow. Er, Mr. Olbermann--the one with the problem here is you. You need to learn to read much more carefully. Look at what Mr. O'Reilly said again. He was not saying that no one on Fox News had EVER said anything negative concerning Senator Edwards. Instead, he was quite clearly suggesting that, WHEN SENATOR EDWARDS APPEARED on FNC--and he appeared there no less than 33 times! (if Senator Edwards hated Fox so much, why has he gone on the network over 30 times? why didn't you examine that question, Mr. O?)--he was questioned respectfully and was treated fairly. That's what Mr. O'Reilly was getting at. Get it now? Or is your head, ahem, still in "your heiny"?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Culture watch: virgin cynicism

The TV segment "HollyScoop" notes that "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks promised her parents at the age of 13 that she would remain a virgin until she was married.

But goes on to say that Britney Spearks promised her parents the same thing--and we all know what happened to her.

Hey, well, if that doesn't prove that Miss Sparks will never, ever be able to keep her promise, what does?????

The Republican congressional campaign strategy for '08

It's discussed here. It's not exactly new. Quote: "Republicans face another hostile political climate next year but congressional election strategists think they may have found a way to overcome it. According to party officials, the emerging campaign game plan will play off the voters' deepening disapproval of the Democratic-run Congress by urging Republican challengers to run an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, insurgent campaign. "We're working closely with our candidates as we head into next year to tell them don't be afraid to run against Republicans as a whole, run against Washington as a whole, talk about runaway spending, and pick and choose the issues on which to run against this Congress," a Republican election official told me."

The strategy goes back to Goldwater, Carter, Reagan etc; but whatever.
It could work. But only if the GOP can convince voters that they really mean it.
In '06, too many voters weren't sure they did. It means Republicans have to start now, with this congress, demonstrating this agenda with action, with votes.
Start busting that pork.

Fred is coming

Former Senator Fred Thompson will formally announce his candidacy for the presidency on September 6th.
Up to now, Thompson's strategy has worked well. Everyb0dy knows he's going to run. He's gained support and attention. Without really campaigning, most polls show him in 2nd place now among Republicans nationally, behind Rudy Giuliani. Not being an official candidate has shielded him from being a focus of attacks from the other candidates.

But now comes the hard part. Once he announces, the other campaigns' gloves will come off. And Thompson will have to make it clear exactly what his candidacy is about, exactly for what he stands. Right now, that remains a bit murky. It can't continue that way, or his campaign will drop like a stone. But it's good he's running; he's obviously a worthy individual with potentially serious ideas. Principled conservatives should welcome him to the race...and then scrutinize his ideas most carefully.

The Clinton campaign and damage control

Senator Clinton's campaign rushes to return the campaign donations Of Norman Chu.
From a tactical point of view, it's smart. The story had run for several days; it reflected negatively on the campaign; so Clinton moved to cut any losses immediately and move on.
We're still left to wonder, though: did the Clinton campaign know the dirt about Hsu long ago, and take his money anyway? We don't know. We may never know. But if we some day find out they did, it won't be a good day for the Clinton campaign. Note also that she isn't returning all of the money; just $23,000 of it. Hmmm....

Bored with Larry Craig

So Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho is in trouble.
Boooo-ring. Yes, his actions over the past week or two suggest he's a fool, in many ways.
No, i don't blame Republicans for distancing themselves from him.
But the idea that the odyssey of Larry Craig says something, anything, about the Republican Party as a whole is as silly as suggesting that Bill Clinton's exploits with Monica Lewinsky told us something about the procliviities of all Democrats.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Huckabee's momentum: up in smoke

Because he's managed to position himself to the left of Hillary Clinton on the question of a national smoking ban in public places.

What, so is secondhand smoke cool? No--but from a conservative, fundamental, principled point of view, Huckabee is wrong. Jim Geraghty of NRO's Campaign Spot explains why: "I don't have much of a problem with local governments mandating the creation of non-smoking sections. I know second-hand smoke is bad, that's why I avoid it. I think it ought to be up to businesses to decide whether it's permitted in their offices or other work environments. But it's not a federal issue, and a one-size-fits-all national law is statism run amok. Plus, there's something unseemly about the way smoking has become this convenient punching bag of a public health enemy in a society that otherwise is growing ever-more-tolerant on other substances."

Bingo. Huckabee has hurt himself significantly with conservative Republicans on this.

Growin' soybeans in the city and corn on the corner

Or something. Must be. Look at all the folks in downtown Manhattan who are receiving agricultural subsidies.

Wednesday's good news from Iraq

A new Zogby poll released today shows that American public opinion may be continuing to shift (again) on the war. 54% of Americans believe the war in Iraq is not lost. And it was safe enough recently in Baghdad to allow a U.S. military patrol to stop and leisurely gobble down sweet treats at an ice-cream stand.

Michael Totten, who's reported from Iraq's front lines for years (he's been to the country 4 different times) writes today in the NY Post, upon returning home, this: "And this time, what I saw was overwhelming, undeniable and, like it or not, complicated: In some places, the surge is working remarkably well. In others, it is not. And the only way we will know for sure whether the tide can be turned is to continue the policy and wait. I know that's not what many Americans and politicians want to hear, but it's the truth." Read the whole thing.

From Powerline: "Muqtada al-Sadr has just announced a six-month suspension of military activity by the Mahdi Army to provide for the "rehabilitation" of that force, which has more or less splintered. The suspension includes a cessation of attacks on American forces."

MoveOn to independent Democrats: shut up and get in line

Remember Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat who represents a district near Seattle, Washington? I wrote about him yesterday. So now, the liberal Democrat pressure group is mounting an ad campaign against him---all because Baird went to Iraq and, based on what he'd seen, came back in favor of the surge and against a quick pullout from Iraq.

Now I'm not surprised that Baird's change of position on the war irritates MoveOn. But the argument they seem to be making here should be (one would think) untenable. Baird didn't change his mind for no reason, after all. He wasn't bullied into altering his position by a meeting with President Bush either. Instead, Baird went to Iraq. He saw things. He believes he saw evidence mandating a change of position. But MoveOn, and his antiwar critics in his district, seem to be saying that he ought to shut his mouth, ignore whatever he saw in Iraq, swallow any doubts he has about the antiwar position, and, er, march in formation with the rest of the antiwar army.

But that's not what a representative should be doing, and frankly it smacks of an attempt to use pressure tactics to stifle dissent within the Democratic Party.

Outrage of the day

Presidential candidate John Edwards spoke today about environmental issues. He thinks Americans should be willing to make "sacrifices." Quote: "Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group that he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles. "I think Americans are actually willing to sacrifice," Edwards said Tuesday during a forum held by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "One of the things they should be asked to do is drive more fuel efficient vehicles."
The former North Carolina senator was asked specifically if he would tell them to give up their SUVs, he said, "Yes."

Excellent, Senator! first. How about that 28,000 square foot, BTU-guzzling house of yours? Willing to sacrifice that? "I have no apologies whatsoever for what I've done with my life," Edwards said when asked about his mansion.

Exactly right, Senator. Many Americans have no apologies to make for their lives, either. And they don't need you lecturing them about their lives, especially when you're not willing to "sacrifice", either.

More questions for Senator Clinton's fundraising people

An update to yesterday's story: remember Norman Hsu? He's the big-bucks donor to the Clinton campaign who may just be funneling money to the Senator through, er, questionable means. Mr. Hsu is hard to track down. Turns out there's a reason for that. Quote: " A Democratic fundraiser who has raised $1 million for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says he has done nothing wrong and has asked no favors in return, but Norman Hsu didn't mention that he's a wanted man. A California prosecutor says Hsu pleaded no contest to grand theft, was sentenced to three years in prison and then disappeared, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday."

The Clinton campaign may not have done anything wrong here--but they need to keep closer tabs on their donors at the very least. And if it is shown that Clinton knew what was going on here from the get-go, it could and should be a big deal.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part 6

Recently, when Senator Barack Obama made what should surely was an innocuous comment--suggesting that immigrants to the United States should learn English--our friend Keith suggested he was being unnecessarily divisive: "There was something about Senator Obama and this issue of unifying that happened at the debate in Chicago that seems to go right past people. He was talking about roots to citizenship for immigrants. He suggested one of the tests should be are they learning English. In retrospect, I think I should have stopped the debate right there and said, did you really just say that? How unifying is that position going to be among Democrats in, say, Florida and New York and California and Texas?"

Mr. Olbermann, sir, our friends on the left have been assuring us for years that immigrants really do want to learn English, and will learn it. Is that not so, now? Not to mention the fact that a national language will unify us as much as anything can.

Immigrants to America have historically learned English, Mr. Olbermann, and done so fairly quickly. My ancestors did so. So did yours. Are you saying it's divisive to suggest that immigrants should do so today? Think, Mr. Olbermann. Senator Obama wasn't being divisive. He was simply reminding us of what has been a tradition in this country for nearly 200 years.

A constituent a little unclear on the concept of a republic

Our founding fathers always preached that, in our republic, while congressmen and senators certainly needed to represent their constituents, they also must exercise their own judgment, even if the majority of voters in their districts might disagree.

Well. Brian Baird, a Democratic congressman who represents a district near the city of Seattle, was long opposed to the war in Iraq. But recently he visited there, and came away convinced the surge is succeeding and that a rapid pullout was a bad idea. He has said so publicly. Therefore some of his antiwar constituents are after him, which became obvious in a town meeting he held in his district the other night. The congressman, with some obvious courage, argued with some of his critics, stating that he couldn't go against his convictions. That didn't sit too well with a female in the audience: “We don’t care what your convictions are,” said Jan Lustig of Vancouver. “You are here to represent us.”

Tuesday's good news from Iraq

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina just returned from a brief reserve duty in Iraq. He points to progress there, especially in the evidence that many Iraqis have decisively rejected Al Qaeda: "The rejection of al-Qaeda in Iraq is evident in the decision by about 12,000 Iraqis to join the local police force in Anbar province since January, compared with only 1,000 in all of 2006, Graham said. He cited the willingness of Iraqis to participate in local security in the volatile Sunni province as one indication that the new security may be sustainable."

Coalition forces, meanwhile, killed over 30 terrorist insurgents near the town of Khalis, and also re-established the water supply to that town.

Some funny business in campaign contributions to Senator Clinton

Details here. Basically we have some middle-class people (at best!), the Paw family, who live in a tiny house and don't make big money, giving the Clinton campaign a whole lot in campaign contributions. But their contributions very closely track those of a rich fellow named Hsu...who used to live in the home in which the Paws now live. Could Hsu (and possibly the Clinton campaign?) be skirting (read: violating) the campaign finance laws by having several members of the Paw family give money to Senator Clinton's campaign, money that Hsu gave them? If so, that's a violation of the law. As an expert in the article said, there are "red lights" all over this one.

Stay tuned. Note the source of these allegations is the Wall Street Journal news page, regarded by most everyone as a reliable source.

If the U.S. leaves Iraq...

...guess who pledges to "fill the vacuum."
Remember that Mr. Ahmadinejad boasts of renewing a jihad against Jews, too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Outrage of the day

The Washington Post refuses to run a comic strip because it engages in some humor at the expense of traditionalist Muslims.

But no, that's not necessarily the outrage---the real outrage is that the editors of the Post don't have the guts to say WHY they pulled the strip. All they've done instead is to spike it, and in a rather cowardly fashion refuse to say why. Sad.

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part 5

Here, friend Olbermann remarks on the existence of a: "... report officially released by the Pentagon today, but previewed last night by the Associated Press, pointing to a disturbing correlation between the extended tours brought on by the war in Iraq and the number of suicides within the military -- 101 American soldiers killed themselves last year, and nearly one-third of those, 27, occurred in Iraq. That Marks the highest suicide rate in the armed forces in 26 years."

But, Mr. Olbermann, sir---you really should do more research. For example, go here...and what do you find? A great deal of careful number-crunching with the data available on this issue...and this conclusion: "So the suicide rate among all active-duty troops is lower than the 2004 norm - even at the current high point - and the rate among combat troops is slightly above the norm.
Does this mean it isn't serious and that we shouldn't put resources into PTSD treatment or that each suicide isn't itself a tragedy? What do you think I believe...come on, of course.
But is this a symptom of a military so brutalized by the horrors of service that they are killing themselves at an incredible rate? What do you believe I think? Why can't people do some freaking homework before the leap to the Isle of Conclusion - that's what I think."

Too bad you didn't, Mr. Olbermann.

Absolutely the last comment on Michael Vick for a while

So after making his plea, Michael Vick apologized. A writer at ESPN thinks Vick spoke from "the heart" and that he's taken the first step towards redeeming himself.

I dunno. I read the apology; I'm glad he made it, but it read a bit like Vick was hitting all the points that a media consultant would tell him he needed to say. Vick now says he knows dogfighting is wrong. Maybe I'll believe he's telling the truth--when he tells us exactly how he ever came to believe it was okay.

Best comment so far on the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez

Here's my source. Quote:

“Eh.” -- A (GOP leaning) K Streeter."

Monday's good news from Iraq

Operation Lightning Hammer in Diyala Province results in the death or capture of over 60 terrorists.

Despite being ignored by many in the mainstream media, there was an important agreement arrived at yesterday between the Maliki government and other political factions in Iraq. It shows that political improvement and the functionality of the Iraqi government can improve. Quote: "Iraq's top five political leaders announced an agreement Sunday night to release thousands of prisoners being held without charge and to reform the law that has kept thousands of members of Saddam Hussein's political party out of government jobs.
The agreement was publicized after several days of meetings between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite; President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd; Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni; Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite; and Massoud Barzani, president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region..."

In related news, U.S. forces also struck recently in Pakistan, this time vs terrorists of the Taliban variety. The Taliban suffered 19 dead.

Fallout from the Vick case

There's a lot of it. Animal-rights activists mobilize across the nation. In Indiana, activists push for tough anti-dogfighting laws.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part 4

This one's easy. His entire commentary is here. This time, in yet another rant demanding the resignations of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney (gosh, you really distinguish yourself from the rest of the Left on that one, Keith!), Mr. Olbermann wrote this: "I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent."

Well, let's see. Newspapers highlight anti-war opinions. So do television news shows. The web site Daily Kos gets hundreds of thousands of visits per day, and it is a fiercely anti-Bush site. Same goes for MyDD and DemocraticUnderground. And then there's you, Mr. Olbermann, sir--I don't know of anyone more anti-Bush than you, yet your attacks on Mr. Bush haven't "stifled" you--on the contrary, you've risen in the television media world. You now have your own prime-time cable show! If President Bush is seeking to "stifle dissent", he's sure going about it in a strange way.Dissent hasn't been "stifled" in this country, Mr. Olbermann. Be serious.

Outrage of the day

Wow. Details here. There seems to be a chief in the U.S. Border Patrol who doesn't believe in, and/or understand, what the heck the Border Patrol is supposed to be doing. Quote: "A Border Patrol chief at one of the nation's most dangerous Southwest border crossings says the agency's mission doesn't include apprehending illegal aliens or seizing narcotics — perplexing front-line agents and angering a congressional critic of illegal immigration. "I've said it before and I'll say it again," Carlos X. Carrillo, Border Patrol chief of Laredo, Texas, told guests at a town-hall meeting Thursday. "The Border Patrol's job is not to stop illegal immigrants. The Border Patrol's job is not to stop narcotics. ... The Border Patrol's mission is not to stop criminals.
"The Border Patrol's mission is to stop terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country."

Republican representative Tom Tancredo, who's also running for president, had a pretty good response: "If the Border Patrol has developed a new technology that can distinguish between terrorists and other illegal border crossers without first catching them and checking them out, that is good news," said Mr. Tancredo, an outspoken critic of illegal immigration and a presidential candidate. "But if that is not the case, Mr. Carrillo's statements are extremely irresponsible and demoralizing to officers in the field."

Just baffling. But this is often why it's so difficult to get things done via the government--often persons within the bureaucracy oppose what you're trying to do.

The Iraqi PM and his irritation

So Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is busy speaking out against American politicians (such as Senators Levin and Warner) who have been critical of him. The Washington Post reporter sugggests Maliki is simply "weary" of being slammed by American leaders. Suggestion: that doesn't really get at what's going on here. Remember, Maliki is an elected leader. His constituency is Iraqis. Do you think Iraqis--or any people, for that matter--like it when foreigners criticize their country? Of course not. And they expect pushback from their leaders against it. Maliki is simply doing what he expects his constituents want him to do.

Continuing signs of changing times

Today we find out that the University of Vermont (of course! who else?) now has a bathroom for transgendered students, too.
A young, attractive elementary school teacher, minding her own business and doing her duties at her school's graduation, is ogled via videotape and the video winds up on YouTube without her consent.
Organized, premeditated bike thefts in general, especially of expensive bikes, are up significantly--because you can sell a good bike online for good, easy money.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday's good news from Iraq

A U.S.-led mentoring program promotes political development and change at the local governmental level in Iraq.
The Weekly Standard reports on the successes of the U.S. military operation in Iraq called Phantom Strike, near Fallujah.

Senator Clinton's terrorism statement

Here's what she said: "Speaking at a house party the night before, Clinton said, "It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself, 'What if? What if?...But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world," she said. "So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that, as well." Hmmm.

At NRO's The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez sees it this way: "...Senator Clinton appears to be acknowledging the fact that Republican frontrunners appear to more fully understand the jihadi threat America is facing than the Democrats and the American people know that full and well and that another attack on the United States will only make that clearer. And she seems not to have offered a persuasive reason why that's a wrong train of thought — unless she's straight-on going to blame Republicans (Bush/Cheney/"neocons") for the next attack."

Well, maybe. Or at least Clinton is acknowledging that many voters will interpret a terrorist attack that way, and give the GOP a boost in the polls. I see it a little differently: Senator Clinton probably was just thinking of the need to inoculate voters against this happening--to tell them, yes, a terrorist attack maybe will happen, don't let it change your thinking in any way. She wanted to plant that seed in voter's minds. "Ah, yes," she hopes they will say after the attack occurs, "Clinton warned us about this."

I too don't think she articulated it at all effectively, so I don't see how it will help her. Nor did she give people one single reason WHY she would be the best person to take on Republicans if this happened. And by the way, some in the blogosphere have been suggesting that the other Democratic candidates are almost conceding the nomination to Clinton and just playing for the veep slot. Their sharp reaction to Clinton's statement suggests that might not be the case. (Obama has remained silent--I think that's because Clinton did enough damage to herself, and anyway by not piling on he can appear to the figure of change, unwilling to engage in the usual political games).

We know the Lion King. The Lion King is a friend of ours. And you, Hamas, are no...

Once again, Hamas seeks to pitch its radical, violent Islamic message to kids. It's another Disney rip-off, this time mangling the Lion King in order to get across their message.

This is no longer surprising; but what's disturbing about it is its commonalities with past radical, ideological, totalitarian movements. Radical groups and ideologies, in order to entrench their ideas and perpetuate them (for all time, they hope) always go after the children. In Nazi Germany, it was the Hitler Youth. In Stalin's Soviet Union, it was the Young Communists and Young Pioneers. In Mao's China, it was the Red Guards. Now we increasingly see terrorist groups using children as "soldiers", and even encouraging them to be suicide bombers. It's no accident. Cartoons are just another means to an end.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Meeting his Maker?

There continue to be reports...that Fidel Castro may no longer be with us. (and Perez usually has good sources).

If true, something tells me Fidel will be getting measured for his red suit and spiked tail soon...

A reason for favoring the death penalty

Details here: "A convicted sex offender was sentenced Friday to death for kidnapping 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, raping her and burying her alive in his yard."

A reason for favoring the death penalty

Details here: "A convicted sex offender was sentenced Friday to death for kidnapping 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, raping her and burying her alive in his yard."

Friday's good news from Iraq

Another way to look at the most recent National Intelligence Estimate: "Growing Sunni opposition to al Qaeda and in some cases the perception that U.S. troops will leave the country are key factors behind recent and growing stability in Iraq, according to a major U.S. intelligence report based on findings from 16 agencies."

National Review points out political progress being made in Iraq. Quote: ""Now the surge has helped turn Sunni tribes against al Qaeda, advancing the goal that nearly everyone in the U.S. notionally shares of routing the terror group from Iraq. Democrats try to chalk up this progress generically to the courage and the adeptness of our troops...The new National Intelligence Estimate reports “measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation,” and says a shift from counterinsurgency operations to efforts simply to train Iraqis “would erode security gains achieved so far”... The surge has failed to enable legislative progress on the part of the central government (i.e., the benchmarks), but important political progress has been taking place in Iraq. The turn of the Sunni tribes away from al Qaeda and toward us is a crucial political development. If anyone had thought this was possible at the beginning of the year (it wasn’t even mentioned in the January 2007 NIE), it might have been included as a benchmark and considered the most important one. Are we really supposed to discount this political progress because it happened in a manner and on a timetable that no one would have predicted?...As we’ve seen in Anbar, the military and political dimensions of the war constantly interact. It would have been harder for the Sunni tribes to turn against al Qaeda absent our military help, and even if they had, they probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to beat back the terror group. Our military operations have been key to the political progress there and the political progress has, in turn, facilitated our military operations...But if the violence of 2006 had continued unabated, the Iraqi government might have fallen by now. The Democrats — of all people — shouldn’t forget that Iraq has been traumatized by a civil war; political reconciliation, if it happens, will take time and only happen in an environment of increasing security."

Meanwhile, the other day in Baghdad, a small battle between U.S. forces and terrorist insurgents ended with 18 enemy fighters dead.

American veterans of the fighting in Iraq speak out against negativism: "But we also know what's possible when even small portions of counterinsurgency strategy are applied. Insurgents are exposed, leaders stand up, and stability occurs. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker understand the principles of counterinsurgency and are applying them up and down the chain of command. It's unfortunate that soldiers in the 82nd Airborne have not yet benefited from the new strategy, but it will ensure that their actions, and those of their fallen brethren, will not have been in vain."

Speaking of jail time and all that...

There was outrage when Paris Hilton was released from jail after serving only a few days of a jail sentence. Nicole Richie's deal however tops that---she served only 82 minutes.
Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan, who's got far more items on her rap sheet than Paris ever did, will serve one whole day in jail.

Where's the outrage? More and more it looks like Paris Hilton got a bum rap, being kept in jail for that long.

It won't work, Mr. Vick

So now we know for what Michael Vick's sharp lawyers were holding out in the neogtiations over the quarterback's plea deal, and it appears they got: he will plea to a felony charge of using interstate commerce to facilitate dogfighting, he'll admit that he was present when dogs were killed, but he claims he didn't participate in the killing.

And I would hope that if Mike Vick thinks putting this spin on it is going to help his reputation or rescue him with public opinion, he's got another think coming. It does not in any way mitigate his guilt. (and frankly I suspect he did kill some of the dogs himself, even though he won't admit to it.) But now we know what the negotiations were all about. UPDATE: well, now news of the actual plea deal has come out--and it turns out Vick admitted that the "collective efforts" of he and his friends resulted in the death of the dogs, and what he most strongly denies is that he gambled on the fights. Still won't help him much. Speculation now runs as to whether Vick named any other big shots (NFL players or otherwise) as being involved. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Romney's confusing abortion position

Details can be found here--basically Republican candidate Mitt Romney has said in the last week or two that he's both 1] in favor of leaving the question of abortion up to the states but also
2] in favor a constitutional amendment banning it. Ooops.

Many are railing about this being a "flip-flop." I don't know that I come down there. To me, the biggest problem with this little flap for Romney is that his position seems confused. From a conservative, principled point of view he's obviously anti-abortion, and that's the important thing. But his position here became hard to grasp, and that's his main problem. Maybe that's the problem with having changed your position recently on the issue...

Thursday's good news from Iraq

There's a continued renaissance of peace and security in Anbar province.

The latest National Intelligence Estimate (some details here) while containing some negative news, also contains some good news. Quote: "The NIE states the security situation in Iraq is improving as operations “measurable but uneven improvements” since the last NIE on Iraq in January 2007. “Overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al Qaeda in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied it grassroots support in some areas.”

Operation Lightning Hammer in Iraq's Diyala River Valley has come to a close, and found some significant success. Quote: "Twenty -six al Qaeda operatives were killed and 37 detained during the operation. Ten weapons caches, six car bombs and 22 roadside bombs were found and destroyed. US and Iraqi forces also gathered significant intelligence on al Qaeda's operations and network in the region. "An al-Qaeda command post was discovered in the village of Shadia, and an al-Qaeda medical clinic was located in Qaryat Sunayjiyah," Multinational Forces Iraq stated in a press release. "The command post, which was surrounded by fighting positions, contained bed space for 20 individuals, supply requests, records of munitions, a list of families supporting the element, a list of al-Qaeda members detained by Coalition Forces and other terrorist propaganda." The joint security operation cleared 50 villages. A permanent combat outpost has been established in the village of Mukeisha, "in the heart of the river valley area." Iraqi and Coalition forces followed the combat operations with humanitarian and medical assistance. "

The electricity situation in Iraq continues to improve. Note especially: "“The demand (for electricity) has increased more than 70 percent since 2004 because the people of Iraq are purchasing more energy intensive products like air conditioners, refrigerators, computers and other electronic devices, and that is good,” Walsh said."

Dueling headlines, same story

Fox News: Intelligence Assessment Suggests Now Is Not Time to Change Mission in Iraq

ABC: Intelligence Report Finds Iraqi Political Leaders 'Unable to Govern Effectively'

Fox does seem to have what other media outlets either missed or ignored: "Shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to only combat support and terror-fighting will wipe out most of the achievements made in the last three years, warns the latest National Intelligence Estimate released Thursday. That dire prediction, buried deep within the unclassified version of the report, states: "We assess that changing the mission of coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) from establishing a safe haven would erode security gains achieved thus far," the report states."

George Wallace's would-be assassin...

...Arthur Bremer, will be released from prison soon. For those of us who lived through it and remember, it's hard to believe.

I can see why he's being released. He's been in prison for 35 years. Apparently he's shown conssisstent good behavior. I do hope prison officials are certain--at his trial for this shooting, Bremer showed no remorse.

I still remember the day Bremer shot Wallace---a sunny day in late spring 1972. Back then it seemed like one more shock, one more disaster, one more assassination...sort of a leftover from the tumultuous 1960s. I remember hearing someone saying that Ted Kennedy better not get into the presidential race--he might get shot at, too. Now it's 35 years later and Wallace's shooter is being released and...things are different now. Or are they? (see for ex: Virginia Tech shooting).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Outrage of the day

From James Taranto at (scroll down to find the story). "Zero-tolerance" nonsense, junior-high-school-variety. Quote: "An East Valley eighth-grader was suspended this week after he turned in homework with a sketch that school officials said resembled a gun and posed a threat to his classmates," reports the East Valley Tribune of Mesa, Ariz.: But parents of the 13-year-old, who attends Payne Junior High School in the Chandler Unified School District, said the drawing was a harmless doodle of a fake laser, and school officials overreacted. . . .Payne Junior High officials did not allow the Tribune to view the drawing. The Mostellers said the drawing did not depict blood, injuries, bullets or any human targets. They said it was just a drawing that resembled a gun. But Payne Junior High administrators determined that was enough to constitute a gun threat and gave the boy a five-day suspension that was later reduced to three days."

Are there really people who think these draconian, inflexible, nonsensical-on-their-face, if-you-even-draw-a-picture-of-something-that-looks-like-a-gun-you're-suspended policies are good things?

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part 3

Ah, Mr. Olbermann. Your errors are so frequent. A few months ago, there you were, raging away at Secretary of State Condoleez Rice about some minor statement she made on a Sunday talk show which today nobody even remembers (and you knew what she was getting at, despite your blizzard of words suggesting otherwise). And in the midst of all that, to bolster your argument that the Bush administration should bow down to congressional Democrats, you tried to make an analogy to the Marshall Plan. Here's what you wrote: "The president of the United States went back to Congress and asked it for a new authorization and for the money. And do you have any idea, Madame Secretary, who opposed him when he did that? The Republicans!"

And do you know what, Mr. Olbermann? That's false! A falsehood!! Wrong!!! How do we know that? How might you know that?

All you had to go was go here. There, you would have seen that a major, nay indispensable, sponsor and advocate of the Marshall Plan was none other than a REPUBLICAN---Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee! Vandenberg helped guide the bill through congressional approval, yes, answered some Republican criticisms of the legislation, but answered them so effectively that when a final vote on the Plan was taken, Mr. Olbermann---you know, when congressional members actually record whether they're "opposing" something or not?---the plan passed by a vote of 69 in favor, 17 against! And Republicans held the majority in the senate at that time.

Meaning that a majority of Republican did not oppose the Marshall Plan, as you claimed--but instead they favored it!

Mr. Olbermann is wrong again. Your show gives out daily a "worst person in the world" award. Good thing it doesn't give one out for most errors.

Nobody likes Congress

Everyone's talking about the astonishingly low approval rating for Congress (it's now at only 18%), but the key question to me is--why? Why do people so dislike the job Congress is doing (absent a major scandal)? Ann Althouse has so far what is to me the most likely explanation.
Quote: "Why so low, in the absence of a scandal? I think people have gotten more judgmental, and the politicians themselves have been teaching us to be super-critical. The very members of Congress who got into office by stoking dissatisfaction now face observation by the people who see no reason to be patient and sympathetic. It doesn't necessarily mean we're all walking around feeling exceedingly pissed off at the government. It could just be that if anyone ever asks if we approve, we're going to say no. Why should we approve?"

Today's cynicism when it comes to all politicians means that peoples' default position, when asked if they "approve" of a political body or figure, will be "no." UPDATE: I also think Peter Wehner at Contention is correct when he suggests the low rating means: "...Democrats are paying a high price for their hyper-partisanship. They appear angry, zealous, and vengeful, far more interested in investigations than legislation."

An environmentalist with an axe

Why is it that supposed environmentalists have such a hard time living up to their words? Al Gore rails against carbon footprints, but has a huge electricity-guzzling home. Rock star after rock star champions the Live Earth concert a few weeks ago--and most of them fly thousands of miles on huge giant-carbon-footprint planes to get there. And now self-proclaimed environmentalist Bette Midler chops down over 200 trees on her property.

Walking the walk can be much harder than talking the talk.

Wednesday's good news from Iraq

In Al Furat, the U.S. 149th Infantry delivered food and humanitarian aid to over 600 Iraqi families. In Iskandartyah, an area of Iraq strongly divided between Sunni and Shia, U.S. troops have helped make for a significant drop in violence and tension in the area (a sign of how political can happen and is happening in Iraq). And in central Baghdad, soldiers of the U.S. 5th Cavalry unit deliver food and humanitarian supplies to over 70 needy families.

And, political progress: it appears the leader of the banned Baath Party in Iraq is severing ties with Al Qaeda, and will join the coalition.

Quick, warn Patricia Schroeder!

Headline: "One in Four Americans Read No Books Last Year." And trends suggest that reading in this country is on the decline. (Pat Schroeder will tell you it's a sign of the growth of the Republican Party, meanwhile).

No more Vietnams

President Bush today in a speech, using historical parallels to explain why we must stay in Iraq:
"Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left," Bush said. "Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like 'boat people,' 're-education camps' and 'killing fields.'"

Indeed. In fact, in 2001 the Orange County Register investigated the aftermath of the war in Vietnam (some details here) and found that after 1975, over 1 million Vietnamese were held without charge in supposed "re-education" camps, and an estimated 165,000 of them died. That can't happen again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Catching Keith: Counting down Olbermann's errors, part II

Here, friend Olbermann complains that candidate Rudy Giuliani is playing too rough on the campaign trail with the Democrats. Quoting Mr. Giuliani: “If any Republican is elected president — and I think obviously I would be best at this — we will remain on offense and will anticipate what (the terrorists) will do and try to stop them before they do it.” Insisting that the election of any Democrat would mean the country was “back ... on defense,” Mr. Giuliani continued: “But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have. If we are on defense, we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”

Mr. Olbermann is outraged: "At least that Republican president under which we have not been safer has, even at his worst, maintained some microscopic distance between himself and a campaign platform that blithely threatened the American people with “casualties” if they, next year, elect a Democratic president — or, inferring from Mr. Giuliani’s flights of grandeur in New Hampshire — even if they elect a different Republican. How ... dare ... you, sir? “How many casualties will we have?” — this is the language of Osama bin Laden."

Now, now, Mr. Olbermann--think. Think more deeply.
Aren't you, and most Democrats, claiming that the war in Iraq is a disaster for this nation, is accomplishing nothing but leading to the death and maiming of U.S. soldiers?
Isn't this your major complaint against President Bush, and against most Republican presidential candidates--that support for them means more American deaths? You and yours don't say this directly, but it is strongly implied in much of what you do say.
So you and your political allies are saying that support for the Bush or Giuliani position on Iraq means...death. For Americans.
You and your political allies believe there are certain consequences if American soldiers remain in Iraq.
Well, Mr. Bush and/or Mr. Giuliani believe there are certain consequences, yes indeed, if America leaves Iraq, and if we adopt what appears to be the policies advocated by leading Democrats concerning terrorism.

If it is acceptable for you to outline what you believe to be the consequences of your opponents' views on Iraq and terrorism, then why is it unacceptable for them to do the same?
You're in error again, Mr. Olbermann.

Today's good news from Iraq

In Haditha, Iraqi police and U.S. marines team up to host youth soccer day for over 200 Iraqi children. There was another successful anti-terrorist raid north of Baghdad. And southeast of Baghdad, a raid finds a weapons cache.

Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters notes the strides made recently by the Iraqi government towards political reform--quote: However, the Iraqi Prime Minister has made some recent steps towards building the kind of coalition that could produce those reforms. He has dumped Moqtada al-Sadr in favor of Sadr's opponents in the south, who have been more amenable to better sectarian relations than the Mahdi Army leader. He convinced that group, the Islamic Council, to sign a compact of cooperation with the Kurds. Maliki traveled to Tikrit last week to humble himself before Sunni tribal leaders in Saddam Hussein's former power base, and apparently made good progress."

Outrage of the day

Wow. Details here. Quote: "The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,'" Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, said in a recent interview. "It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page."

Ah, so THAT explains why Ann Coulter has sold so many books--her appeal to liberals!
It surprises me that Ms. Schroeder would express such--well, I can only call it what it is, bigotry.

For the children...

Bill Crawford at All Things Conservative makes a good point (and the mainstream media doesn't talk about this nearly enough): can you imagine the shouts of outrage there would be around the world if the Israelis used child soldiers in their battles against terrorists? Of course, they don't. But look who does. Quote: "IDF troops killed two Palestinian children along the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday, Palestinian medical officials said. The two dead were 10 and 12 years old, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanin of the Palestinian Health Ministry. A third child, 10, was seriously wounded and six other people were lightly hurt, he said.. ...An IDF spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post that terror organizations in the Gaza Strip often send children to retrieve launchers from the field after Kassam rockets have been fired, and it appeared that this is what happened on this occasion. "

Tsk, tsk Tiki...

So former NY Giants running back Tiki Barber (now NBC analyst) rips into former teammate/Giants quarterback Eli Manning, suggesting that his attempts to provide leadership last year in meetings were at times "comical."

I'm not impressed. Sounds to me like a new TV analyst trying to create a buzz and gain cred as an analyst by jumping on an old comrade-in-arms. Doesn't seem right to me, not to mention making unprovable allegations about what went on behind closed doors. I don't blame Eli for coming back at him. We'll see if the Giants continue to rally around their QB; so far they have.

Protecting Michael Vick

A few continue to do it. For example, in today's Washington Post, some of Vick's friends deflect some of the blame: "The most prominent theory [as to how Vick got in trouble], espoused by Boddie and Reeves, blames much of Vick's troubles on his continued association with childhood friends who have questionable pasts. Those same friends were the ones who agreed to testify against Vick in exchange for more lenient sentences for their roles in the crimes." Meanwhile, Gregg Easterbrook writing on ESPN a couple of days was even worse, arguing that all this happened because Vick was pampered from the age of 16, that no one ever "said no", to him; and of course (you knew it would happen) Easterbrook flashes the race card, writing that the reaction against Vick comes from "racial animus": "But suppose everything about the Michael Vick controversy was exactly the same except Vick was a white quarterback from an upper-middle-class family in Winnetka, Ill., Newport Beach, Calif., or Coral Gables, Fla. Can you say with a straight face that the public reaction and government action would the same?"

Yes, Mr. Eastbrook, I do. It would be. And all those who want to make any kind of excuses for Michael Vick need to remember: the evidence apparently strongly shows that Vick paid for the house himself, and knew what it would be used for; that he was intimately involved in the training, the fighting, and the gambling over these dogs; and he was intimately involved in killing them. And he lied about it for months. He got himself into this, period.

So much for ending the politics of personal destruction, etc

So the Derry, New Hampshire woman who questioned Rudy Giuliani over the weekend about his family problems, and who received a very calm reply suggesting that maybe in a campaign such as this, with so many big issues at stake, his family should be left alone, is not happy: "In fact, Katherine wonders why she had to be the one to raise long-simmering questions about Giuliani's personal character. "I'm very frustrated by the media. I think maybe they want to maintain access, so maybe they're selling their soul for access and not doing their job."

Or maybe some think we should discuss issues, not heckle a candidate about family problems.
I thought the great lesson of the Clinton years was that we should end "the politics of personal destruction", and no matter a candidate's "personal life", as long as he could "do the job he was elected to do" that was all that mattered. What happened?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Seems a bit premature to me

But Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters is willing to take the risk. Quote from his blog today:
"With Hillary Clinton having just about wrapped up the Democratic nomination for president, speculation has begun on her choice of running mate."

Wow. I mean, respected polls have her essentially tied with Edwards and Obama in Iowa.
If Senator Clinton loses in Iowa, everything is changed.

For all those who perspire...

...which includes me--a great column in today's NYT. Sweat-ers of the world, unite!

Monday's good news from Iraq

Democratic Senator Carl Levin acknowledges military gains in Iraq, and acknowledges--hesitatingly-that some political gains have been made, too. Quote: "We are also encouraged by continuing positive results – in al Anbar Province, from the recent decisions of some of the Sunni tribes to turn against al Qaeda and cooperate with coalition force efforts to kill or capture its adherents...”, he said in a joint statement with John Warner. Meawhile, for the first time in years, the French foreign minister visits Iraq, giving all involved a boost.

Meanwhile, U.S. army medics and others pass out over 100 humanitarian aid bags to needy Iraqis. And north of Baghdad, a raid by coalition forces kills 8 terrorist insurgents.

And: "And there are newfound signs of success in the area just north of Salman Pak, along the road known to 3rd Brigade as "Route Wild," between the villages of Wuerdiya and Ja'ara. It all began with a phone call." Details here. And at the end of that piece, this: "People ask me, 'Is the surge working?'," Colonel Wayne Grigsby, 3rd Brigade commander, said to me. "And I say, 'How can it not be?' We're in these areas that no soldiers have been for months and years, we've got al Qaeda , JAM , and JAI discombobulated, and we're showing the people there--people who might not have seen an American soldier in years--a sustained presence, catching bad guys, building checkpoints, and making life safer for them."

"Again, I say, 'How can it not be working?'"

Tough questions

An illegal immigrant to this country was taking refuge for over a year in a church. She'd had a son while in this country (he's now a U.S. citizen) and therefore she and her supporters claim it's wrong to deport her. But she's been arrested and deported.

Some claim deporting her is wrong and immoral. But the woman in question came here illegally, and had a job using a false Social Security number. Does having a child excuse law-breaking? Did not the illegal immigrant in question know what the law was before she came here, and before she got pregnant?

Catching Keith: the countdown of Olbermann's errors, part 1

You know, Keith Olbermann, former sports reporter and ESPN anchor, has got himself a pretty good gig going. He has his own show, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann", on MSNBC; a platform for engaging in passionate commentary; and lately, vastly increasing street cred on the left (here's a good example) with his attacks on President Bush and other conservatives (often Bill O'Reilly, though not always) with his daily "worst person in the world" segment.

So maybe Mr. Olbermann thinks he's counting down the sins of President Bush, or of the Right. But who's keeping track of the sins and errors of Mr. Obermann? (I'm not talking about loud, rather personal attacks---you can get that for example here). I mean a careful look at the problems with his thinking, and his errors. I hereby volunteer.

Let's start here. A few weeks ago, our friend Keith was railing against Michael Chertoff, President Bush, and Homeland Security in general for supposedly infringing upon our freedoms for no reason. But Mr. Olbermann in his argument tries to have it both ways. First, he suggests: "Not only has there not been a terrorist attack stopped in this country, but your good old Homeland Security hasn’t even unraveled a plausible terrorist plan." So according to Keith, yes, there have been no terrorist attacks in this country since 2001? Big deal---the Bush administration deserves no credit. But then later, in the same commentary, Olbermann writes of "...the ominous truth that if this country is victimized again by al-Qaida, the personal responsibility for the failure of our misplaced defenses would belong to President Bush and President Bush alone..."

Wow. So if there are no attacks, well, the terrorists must not have attempted any...but if there are attacks, it's all your fault, Mr. Bush.

Mr. Olbermann, sir---you really must try to be more logical and consistent in your arguments. The above is a classic heads-I-win-tails-you-lose fallacy. It is unfair to grant the Bush administration no credit for the safety of this nation since 9/11, but to promise to place all blame for future attacks right at its door.

Ah, but we are not finished for today. A few weeks prior, Keith, you wrote this piece, in which you made this remarkable statement: "The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of “a permanent Republican majority,” as if such a thing—or a permanent Democratic majority—is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms."

Mr. Olbermann, sir, surely you cannot be serious. Do you really not understand the nature of American politics? Do you really not understand what all American political leaders and strategists seek to do? Why, they seek to win every election. They seek to create a majority, one that will last and will provide the margin of victory for their party in the current campaign, and into the foreseeable future. It's what politics is about--winning elections. Are you really unaware, Mr. Olbermann sir, of what Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party sought to do in the days of the Great Depression? (I suspect you aren't--read this.) President Roosevelt and others in the Democratic Party were able to use the Depression, and some of the legislation Democrats passed through Congress during it, to put together the "Roosevelt coalition" of African-Americans, farmers, urbanites, and union members. It produced darn near a permanent majority---from 1932 through 1968, Democrats won 7 of 9 presidential elections, and controlled Congress for all but 2 of those years. Was that majority offensive to you? And are you saying you don't want antiwar Democrats, now, to be seeking a permanent majority? That you don't wish them to seek to defeat conservative, pro-Bush Republicans in 2008 and into the foreseeable future? Surely, sir, you jest. Permanent electoral majorities are very difficult to achieve. But it is ultimately what every political strategist seeks, including those who believe as you do. Or maybe you somehow don't think party politicians should seek to win every election?

Please, sir--think more deeply.
More to come--this will become a regular feature (Mr. Olbermann gives us lots of material).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Outrage of the day

A not-s0-great moment in nationalized, government-run health care. Details from Don Surber (via Instapundit). Quote:
The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, to a humble, French-speaking couple in a farmhouse outside of Callander, Ontario, Canada. They were identical sisters and for the first 10 years of their lives, the five girls were the No. 1 tourism attraction in Canada.
Then came free health care for all Canadians. Which is why the four identical Jepp sisters were born in Great Falls, Mont., instead of Calgary this weekend. The Canadian parents flew 325 miles to get to an American hospital.

Can you imagine being about to go into labor for four births, and then flying 325 miles to get to the hospital in another country? Incredible. Michelle Lang, Calgary Herald, reported:
Their mother, Calgarian Karen Jepp, was transferred to Benefis Hospital in Montana last week when she began showing signs of going into labour, and no Canadian hospital had enough neonatal intensive-care beds for all four babies.
73 years ago, a poor French Canadian mother was successfully able to give birth to five girls in a farmhouse in Ontario, but then the Canadian government took over the health system and — voila — Karen Jepp has to go to an American hospital 325 miles away.

The Evil Genius' sense of humor

Karl Rove sits down at an IHOP near Waco, Texas for a long interview with a couple of NY Times reporters, in which he civilly but forcefully defended himself against his critics. At the end of the interview, on their way out of the restaurant, Rove is twice stopped by well-wishers, both expressing how much they admire him. Later, Rove sends the two Timesmen a note: “I didn’t plant the guy at the IHOP or the woman at the hotel but it would be the subtle personal touch that the Evil Genius would do to throw you off the scent, don’t you think?”

There's a guy who doesn't let the bastards get him down.

Beware of the NY Times sometimes

Here, for example, we see an article that is clearly meant to be critical of American progress in Iraq. See the headline: "Falluja’s Calm Is Seen as Fragile if U.S. Leaves." See, says the Times, the U.S. hasn't achieved anything in Iraq--if we go home, it'll all horribly collapse. And as supporting evidence, the Times' reporter writes: "Rank-and-file marines question how security forces here would fare on their own, especially when the vehicle ban is lifted. If Falluja were left unsupervised too soon, “there is a good chance we would lose everything we have gained,” said Sgt. Chris Turpin, an intelligence analyst with a military training team here."

Yes, indeed! And so a clear reading of what Mr. Turpin is saying is this: what many Democrats and progressives are advocating is wrong! A quick pullout from Iraq would be precisely the wrong move. If we stay, there might be a chance. Unsurprisingly, the Times' reporter tries to spin it differently.

I don't do this--critiquing the rather biased slant of many mainstream news pieces--that often, because one literally could do it on a daily, nay hourly, basis, and we'd never have the chance to examine anything else. But this time...

Yet another Democratic debate

The Democrats debated (again) this morning; details are everywhere on the web, but a good summary is here. There wasn't too much new. Bill Richardson was more energetic, trying to get into the race, and eagerly pointed out his desire to have all U.S. troops out of Iraq within 8 months. John Edwards said again that he'd fight for the poor against the powerful. Hillary Clinton got her biggest applause for claiming that Republicans attack her because she knows how to beat them. Barack Obama seeks to portray all the other major candidates as old Washington players stuck in "conventional" thinking, while he's the main agent of change. Dodd, Kucinich, Gravel and Biden mainly clutter the stage.

Senator Clinton's act sounded a little old, tired, and strained today, to me. Meanwhile I do think Senator Obama is skillfully attempting to do a difficult thing---to both appeal to the well-educated, urban, professional constituency which best responds to his "change" appeal, yet to reach out also to traditional Democrat constituencies by pledging more government involvement in health care, aid to the poor and unfortunate, etc. But it's a difficult line to walk, and Hillary remains the front-runner. And maybe there are too many debates--in any case, right now there are too many candidates, which means nobody gets to talk very long or to go into much depth, making it further difficult to get outside the box and (even civilly) challenge each other, and anyway today there were too many forced, toothy smiles along with ginned-up remarks on how much they all agree on everything, and a lot of I'm-gonna-stick-to-my-script-if-it-kills-me-itis. I doubt today's debate changes much.

The "O" factor for Obama

So we're reminded today that one of Barack Obama's biggest supporters is none other than Oprah Winfrey (via Drudge), and very soon she's to hold a huge star-studded fund-raiser for the Illinois senator at her Hollywood mansion. And don't think that Oprah isn't excited about her possible influence on the campaign. Quote: "My money isn't going to make any difference," Winfrey told her fellow chat-show host Larry King. "My value to him, my support of him is probably worth more than any other cheque that I could write."

Well, her book club has been influential in promoting books, and she's hawked other consumer items somewhat successfully. Can she really influence the way people (especially her core constituencies, women and blacks) vote? I wonder. Maybe.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

News of the day on the GOP race

Mike Huckabee has indeed gathered some momentum from his 2nd place finish in the Iowa straw poll---see for example the Washington Post, where D.C. politics insider David Broder is touting his chances in his latest column. Broder suggests Huckabee's populism leavened with social conservatism could help him pull a surprise in the New Hampshire primary, a la Pat Buchanan in '92 and '96. We'll see. Meanwhile, Fred Thompson shook hands in Iowa, amid more media fretting about his delayed official entry into the race. Actually, it seems clear that Thompson's gamble of waiting to announce his entry into the race has paid off. He's still high in the polls; and meanwhile waiting these extra months has shielded him from criticism. Now, does he lack the organization to ultimately win? And, more importantly, once he does announce and has to be out there making speeches and facing the press every single day on the campaign trail, what will happen to him momentum? I wonder. But I'm glad he's in the race; the more solid, good candidates with ideas, the merrier.

For college football nuts: who will be the starting QB this fall at Notre Dame?

Prediction: don't look for it to be freshman phenom Jimmy Clausen. Ever since his big, glitzy announcement in spring 2006 that he was coming to ND (and the negative reaction it received), Clausen's looked uncomfortable. This summer, he had to have some surgery on his elbow. And now, those of us who live in South Bend today woke up to this news: a little while ago he had a minor scrape with the law involving alcohol possession. He was cited for it and had to pay a fine. With all these distractions, I don't think there's any way he'll start. The starter instead might turn out to be Evan Sharpley, the only returning signal-caller with any experience.

Don't use hateful language, you she-devil, you!

John Edwards is still trying to use Ann Coulter as a jump-start for his campaign, reports ABC News this morning. Quote: "Edwards, D-N.C., was railing against the right-wing media -- including Fox News and Rush Limbaugh -- when he reminded a crowd in Burlington, Iowa, that his wife stood up to Coulter in a public spat earlier this summer. "We know these people. We know their game plan. They're going to attack us personally," Edwards said. "They attacked Elizabeth personally, because she stood up to that she-devil Ann Coulter. … I should not have name-called. But the truth is -- forget the names -- people like Ann Coulter, they engage in hateful language."

Sounds like pot-kettle-black to me, Mr. Edwards...

Sophomore jinx...

...and will it hit Vince Young this year? Don't be surprised. Last year he quickly becomes the starting QB of the Tennesssee Titans and is rookie of the year. This year, he's benched for last week's first pre-season game for violating team rules; and last night vs the Patriots, he's only 5 for 17 passing and is sacked 4 times.

Athletes too often forget that last year was last year, and don't guarantee you anything for this year.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday's good news from Iraq

Another successful raid by U.S. forces vs the terrorists in eastern Baghdad.

Everybody keeps looking for political advances in Iraq. Here's one--the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have completed the building of two courthouses in northern Iraq's Kirkuk province. These have been turned over to Iraq's government and will aid in the continuing construction of a judicial system based on law and order. This goes to show how advances in military security can bring political advances.

A CNN poll shows that 47% of Americans now believe we're making progress in Iraq--a significant uptick.

A Democratic congressman, who voted against the Iraq invasion in 2002, recently visited Iraq and argues that progress is being made there.

Interesting Iowa poll--Democrats

Yes, I know, it's so early and there's always too much horse-race stuff in politics.
But let's face it, the race for president is on and it's worthwhile to keep up on the state of it.
I found this poll interesting--a reputable poll, done by Peter Hart and McLaughlin and Associates, respected (and Democrat-leaning) pollsters. And after everything (Senator Clinton for example has campaigned pretty heavily in Iowa over the past few weeks), John Edwards still leads in Iowa. What if Edwards wins Iowa? It would certainly affect the Democratic race; Hillary could no longer be seen as inevitable. Stay tuned. UPDATE: One wonders, too, how the continuing trickle of negative stories about Edwards will impact the race--the haircut, his work during the past four years for big investment groups, and now today a story originally in the Wall Street Journal and now going around the blogosphere that Edwards has further ties to big money. Edwards could eventually die from these thousand cuts.

Rudy Giuliani on guns

So it's taken as a given in the mainstream media, and among Giuliani opponents, that Rudy Giuliani has this big disconnect with the Republican base concerning the right to bear arms. It's assumed that Giuliani is anti-gun or favors "gun control." Here's one example, and here's another. But is this really true? I did a little research. And I don't think it's true at all. Yes, as mayor of New York, Giuliani I suppose took steps that one could characterize as "gun control" measures. But that was to satisfy a liberal constituency, to be able to get re-elected in a very liberal environment, and to deal with unique problems. What does Rudy say he'd do now, if he became president?

Let's see. Here we see that all the way back in 2000, Giuliani hardly sounded like someone pushing strict gun control. Quote: "I do not think the government should cut off the right to bear arms. My position for many years has been that just as a motorist must have a license, a gun owner should be required to have one as well. Anyone wanting to own a gun should have to pass a written exam that shows that they know how to use a gun, that they’re intelligent enough and responsible enough to handle a gun. Should both handgun and rifle owners be licensed...we’re talking about all dangerous weapons." Giuliani, quoted in the Boston Globe, p. A4 Mar 21, 2000.

Okay. So what's he saying now, in his campaign for president? In February of this year (details here) we find: "Rudy Giuliani addressed a potentially troublesome issue with conservative voters, saying his policies as mayor to get handguns off the street helped reduce crime in New York. "I used gun control as mayor," he said at a news conference Saturday during a swing through California. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms." Doesn't sound like someone who, as president, is going to push serious gun control. At all.

Furthermore: here we find a transcript of an interview Giuliani had earlier this year with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, where the issue of gun control was raised explicitly. Here's some of the questions, and Giuliani's responses (an original, partial transcript is here):

HANNITY: Let me move on. And the issue of guns has come up a lot. When people talk about Mayor Giuliani, New York City had some of the toughest gun laws in the entire country. Do you support the right of people to carry handguns?
GIULIANI: I understand the Second Amendment. I support it. People have the right to bear arms. When I was mayor of New York, I took over at a very, very difficult time. We were averaging about 2,000 murders a year, 10,000...
HANNITY: You inherited those laws, the gun laws in New York?
GIULIANI: Yes, and I used them. I used them to help bring down homicide. We reduced homicide, I think, by 65-70 percent. And some of it was by taking guns out of the streets of New York City.
So if you're talking about a city like New York, a densely populated area like New York, I think it's appropriate. You might have different laws other places, and maybe a lot of this gets resolved based on different states, different communities making decisions. After all, we do have a federal system of government in which you have the ability to accomplish that.
HANNITY: So you would support the state's rights to choose on specific gun laws?
GIULIANI: Yes, I mean, a place like New York that is densely populated, or maybe a place that is experiencing a serious crime problem, like a few cities are now, kind of coming back, thank goodness not New York, but some other cities, maybe you have one solution there and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules.
HANNITY: But generally speaking, do you think it's acceptable if citizens have the right to carry a handgun?
GIULIANI: It's not only -- I mean, it's part of the Constitution. People have the right to bear arms. Then the restrictions of it have to be reasonable and sensible. You can't just remove that right. You've got to regulate, consistent with the Second Amendment.

So: is this a candidate who agrees with the NRA on every single issue? Perhaps not. But is this the statements of a candidate who's anti-gun, someone who as president would heavily push for gun control? Come on. The answer is no. Giuliani has made himself clear on this, and it's time everyone recognized it.

Dogfighting case closer to sacking Vick

More horrid details about Michael Vick's involvement in the dogfighting case---now his co-defendants finger him as having participated in horrible, brutal executions of supposedly under-performing canines. I guess my question has to do with not only how anyone could facilitate dogfighting; but rather, how anyone could think brutally killing dogs in this way is somehow, in any way, OK? How could someone claim in public to love animals (and Vick has so claimed) and then in private kill these animals, and yet sleep at night? i don't get it.

Blog admin

To all readers: comments on posts are going to be hidden and unavailable for a few days, because a few persons here haven't been able to keep obscenities and ethnic slurs out of their comments. Maybe after a few days, when people have realized name-calling and slurs aren't acceptable, we'll enable them again. Meanwhile, hope you enjoy reading...

Obama and Edwards lobby to make lobbying reform an issue

...and of course they seek to use the issue to attack the front-runner, Senator Clinton. Details here. I dunno--Obama claims he wants to be a new, transformative candidate...yet this issue is an old one. It's been ping-ponged back and forth for years. And it's never really been shown that lobbyists' contributions directly influence how House and Senate members vote. One wonders if this kind of old line of attack can do Obama or Edwards much good. UPDATE: Jeanne Cummings of agrees with me. Might be that lobbying reform was so 2006.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Conservatives blasting conservatives

Rich Lowry with a good post at The Corner. Quote: "Here we are as conservatives expending an enormous amount of energy to effectively punish candidates for agreeing with us. Since when did it become a bad thing for a candidate to realize the influence of conservatives (and hopefully the correctness of their views) in the nominating process and react accordingly? Now, after excoriating Romney for becoming pro-life, we are seeing the entire foolish process repeated with Rudy becoming anti-illegal immigration."

I partly agree. Although: On the other hand---one reason to look at flip-flops is to question the sincerity of the candidate in question. Has the candidate truly had a change of heart?
Or is it just political maneuvering, to be jettisoned as soon as the election is over?
Remember, conservatives have been burned on this before. See for example George H.W. bush and 1] his appointment of Souter to the Supreme Court and 2] his abandonment of “no new taxes.” We should question changes of heart. On the other hand, we mustn’t deny that sincere changes of heart can happen. And then, if our favorite candidate gets elected, we have to hold him to what he said in the campaign.

You can call me Allah, or you can call me the Almighty, or you can call me Ray, or...

Via Powerline: "Catholic churches in the Netherlands should use the name Allah for God to ease tensions between Muslims and Christians, says a Dutch bishop. Tiny Muskens, the bishop of Breda, told the Dutch TV program "Network" Monday night he believes God doesn't mind what he is called, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported. The Almighty is above such "discussion and bickering," he insisted."

Er--well, in that case, He'd also be far "above" Muslim complaints that everyone should call him Allah. Indeed, He'd be way "above" ridiculous proposals from lowly bishops telling other humans what He should be called.

Instapundit has the best take on this, perhaps: "I SAY CALL HIM "HERMAN," OR I'LL START BLOWING SHIT UP."

Somehow, in this day and age, they seem right for each other

Check out the possible new big-time celeb couple. Don't let it spear any good feelings, or freak your mind.

The New York Times on Iran

This will shock everyone. The full editorial is here. Quote: "The dangers posed by Iran are serious, and America needs to respond with serious policies, not more theatrics. Labeling Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization — as the State Department now proposes — is another distraction when what the Bush administration needs to be doing is opening comprehensive negotiations with Tehran, backed by increasing international economic pressure. "

"Comprehensive negotiations" and "economic pressure"---liberal progressives' answer to everything. I'm sure Tehran's leaders are quaking in their boots. And are the NY Times' editors really unaware of the fact that the Bush administration's action yesterday will indeed allow it to toughen economic pressure on Iran??? Wow.

Thursday's good news from Iraq

A respected New York Post columnist agrees that Al Qaeda's bombings in Iraq the other day show their desperation. Quote: "TWO days ago, al Qaeda det onated four massive truck bombs in three Iraqi vil lages, killing at least 250 civilians (perhaps as many as 500) and wounding many more. The bombings were a sign of al Qaeda's frustration, desperation and fear." Read the whole thing--contains a good analysis of Petraeus' strategy.

Yesterday, Iraqi forces, with U.S. Special Forces as advisors, launched a successful anti-terrorist raid in northern Iraq. And Armed Liberal examines the claim that, due to the war in Iraq, suicide rates among American military personnel are rising--and finds it wanting. Quote: "So the suicide rate among all active-duty troops is lower than the 2004 norm - even at the current high point - and the rate among combat troops is slightly above the norm. Does this mean it isn't serious and that we shouldn't put resources into PTSD treatment or that each suicide isn't itself a tragedy? What do you think I believe...come on, of course. But is this a symptom of a military so brutalized by the horrors of service that they are killing themselves at an incredible rate? What do you believe I think? Why can't people do some freaking homework before the leap to the Isle of Conclusion - that's what I think."

Read the whole thing.

In northern Iraq, U.S. forces are aiding Iraqis in developing Iraq's water resources.

Rumsfeld's resignation and 2006

So it turns out that Donald Rumsfeld resigned one day prior to the 2006 elections. But the President didn't announce it until the day after. Some Republicans are furious--see for example Arlen Specter, who in the article claims the GOP would still have a senate majority had the resignation been announced immediately.

Please, Senator Specter. Don't be ridiculous. First, don't claim to be a political swami--you over the past 20 years or so have consistently opposed bold conservative initiatives, have consistently favored making concessions to liberalism, and have consistently been wrong. As for Rumsfeld, come on--had Bush announced his resignation the day before the election, liberals and Democrats would have simply roared to the high heavens that it was an electoral trick and to ignore it. And that's how it would have looked. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference. Moderate Republicans like Arlen Specter have all the political savvy of five-year-olds, sometimes.

Hillary and her papers

So there are over 2 million papers from Hillary Clinton's tenure as first lady that apparently will not be made public until some time AFTER the 2008 election. Some details here. I've read a number of bloggers and others who have of course suggested that this is an outrage, what's Hillary trying to hide, etc etc. On the other hand, Bill Crawford at All Things Conservative makes a good argument too--that there's just not likely to be much there, that if conservatives and Republicans are going to beat Hillary, we have to do so by highlighting and defeating her ideas and pointing out why ours are superior. It's a legitimate point.

I guess I come down somewhere in the middle. I don't think the Right should ignore Hillary's papers. That they won't be made public until after the election, given the Clintons' history, has to make you wonder if they're hiding something. And, remember this---the Clinton campaign is emphasizing her yearss as first lady as a reason to vote for her. They cite her travel to over 80 countries, her work with health care in 1993, as part of her supposedly valuable experience. Well, fine--but if she's going to cite her years as first lady, we need to know exactly what went on in the Clinton White House with regard to her duties as first lady. That means we need to see her papers. We probably won't get to see them. So there's nothing wrong with reminding the electorate that we won't, and why. It shouldn't be a centerpiece of an anti-Hillary campaign. But it shouldn't be forgotten, either.

All in Rudy's family

So in New Hampshire yesterday, candidate Rudy Giuliani was asked about the difficulties within his family--his messy divorce, the fact that he is at least somewhat estranged from two of his children. A quote: "Giuliani has a daughter who has indicated support for Democrat Barack Obama and a son who said they didn't speak for some time. His ugly divorce from their mother, Donna Hanover, was waged publicly while Giuliani was mayor of New York. Giuliani has since remarried. Answering questions at a town-hall meeting, Giuliani was asked why he should expect loyalty from GOP voters when his children aren't backing him. "I love my family very, very much and will do anything for them. There are complexities in every family in America," Giuliani said calmly and quietly. "The best thing I can say is kind of, 'leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone.'"

Hmmm. Makes sense to me. Giuliani's questioner wasn't so sure: "The questioner, Derry mother Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien, opened by thanking Giuliani for how he handled the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and introduced him to her 5-year-old daughter, Abby, who was playing on the floor next to the platform where Giuliani stood. Prudhomme-O'Brien, 36, wasn't certain about Giuliani's answer. "If a person is running for president, I would assume their children would be behind them." she said. "If they're not, you've got to wonder."
She said the issue is a question mark that is "going to stay there for a lot of people."

Hmmm. But should it? Many Democrats today still revere John F. Kennedy. But we know the family problems he had---he had endless affairs with other women, embarrassing his wife, Jacqueline. Many Democrats still revere Bill Clinton---the problems he caused for HIS family have been well-documented. Many Republicans still revere Ronald Reagan; yet he had serious differences with his son Ron and with his daughter Patti; and he was divorced.

Giuliani's problems with various members of his family are not new. They existed when he was mayor of New York. Yet it didn't keep him, not in the least, from doing a superb job as mayor--see the aftermath of 9/11. As a nation, in the past, as long as your family troubles don't keep you from doing your job, then we've given candidates a pass. Do we really want to change that now? And let he who is without sin cast the first stone.