Friday, June 30, 2006

The Silver Lining

According to a few, there is in fact a silver lining to be had in yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on Hamdan:

Andrew Cochran calls it a political gift: The decision is actually a huge political gift to President Bush, and the detainees will not be released that easily. The President and GOP leaders will propose a bill to override the decision and keep the terrorists in jail until they are securely transferred to host countries for permanent punishment. The Administration and its allies will release plenty of information on the terrorist acts committed by the detainees for which they were detained (see this great ABC News interview with the Gitmo warden). They will also release information about those terrorist acts committed by Gitmo prisoners after they were released. They will challenge the "judicial interference with national security" and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people.

Andy McCarthy makes essentially the same point but in greater detail: And I think it's strategically right to say this is a gift to the those concerned about national security, because it invites a debate in the months leading up to November about exactly what rights members of congress are willing to accord to the enemy in wartime. Two points here.

1. Justice Breyer's short concurring opinion maintains that all the court has really done is invite the president to seek legislation from congress authorizing the commissions and defining their structure. Several folks, me included, have argued from time to time that this is overdue anyway — we should have a national security court, created by congress to get many of the terrorism cases out of the regular criminal justice system. But that said, Justice Breyer's unfortunate invocation of the left-wing/civ-lib-extremist talking point, to wit, that "Congress has not issued the Executive a 'blank check,'" is bombast.


2. A big issue to watch out for as congress re-examines this: the protection of classified information from al Qaeda in the trial process.

One of the principal reasons for having commissions rather than courts-martial or civilian trials is to prevent our enemies from learning what we know and how we know it. But the court held that the president had not justified procedures which call, potentially, for excluding the terrorists from the courtroom when classified information is introduced.

Now, let's compare. Alien combatants have no constitutional rights; therefore, they have no constitutional right to be present at trial. On the other hand, protecting the security of the American people — which is what classified information is all about — is the number one obligation of government. So by what law does an al Qaeda killer's purported right to be present outweigh the American people's unquestioned right to have the government protect them (by, for example, not providing the enemy with sensitive intelligence)?

It could only conceivably be Geneva's Common Article 3 — an international law provision the court had to twist beyond recognition to give the enemy its benefit. That fuzzy language talks about providing "judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people." OK, but who says all "civilized people" would opt to elevate a homicidal maniac's right of access to the government's most sensitive information over the government's obligation to protect its citizens by withholding intelligence that may help those trying to kill them do just that?

Why is this question so important? Because you can bet a big part of the debate in congress will be about whether the court has left congress with any latitude here on this point.

That's why Jonah's observation about Hamdan not being constitutionally based is crucial. Congress absolutely has the power to deny al Qaeda terrorists the right to be present at portions of trial where sensitive evidence is introduced. Let's leave aside that the court's entire Common Article 3 rationale is hooey (the article doesn't apply to al Qaeda and the court owed deference to the president's interpretation to that effect). The salient point here is that when the inevitable argument is made that the Geneva Conventions now require handing over our intelligence to the enemy in wartime, congress — and more properly, the president (who has the authority to cancel treaties) — should make clear that we would withdraw from the Geneva Conventions (or at least any offending portions of them) before we do that.

The United States government's job is to protect Americans, not please judicial elites, self-styled human rights activists, international law professors, and transnational progressives everywhere.

At a visceral level, this ruling just doesn't feel right. Whatever John Q. Public may think of President Bush's Iraq policy, every time the issue of his broader strategery and handling of Terrorism has been contrasted with Democrat cat-calling, disengagement and overall lack of coherent policies, the President and his party have won. There's no reason to think the dynamic different this time around.

The best laid plans of men

And loons. The Miami Seven wanted to spring prisoners from a prison and were planning on using their attack on the Sears Tower in Chicago as a 'diversion':

The alleged ringleader of a group of South Florida men accused of plotting to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower wanted the blast to divert law enforcement so he could free inmates from a prison to join his terrorist army, federal prosecutors said Friday.

The lead lawyer in the government's terrorism case against the seven men provided fresh details about the group's alleged plot to bomb buildings in Miami and Chicago - and how the plan disintegrated as members fought among themselves.

The picture that emerged during Friday's hearing in Miami federal court was of an ambitious, but inept, military-style organization whose members had illusions of grandeur and a taste for intrigue.


Steynism of the Day

Mark Steyn talking with Hugh Hewitt yesterday:

MS: Well, you know, you said you thought that we would in the end win this war. I think it is entirely possible that we could lose, simply because at the heart of all these things is the idea that somehow, you demonstrate your moral virture by bending over backwards to be as accommodating as you can at people who want to kill you. And that is generally not a good idea. I don't like Vladimir Putin, but when he reacted to this business with the four Russian hostages by saying that he was dispatching Special Forces on a mission to hunt down and kill the guys who did it, I did...I was very heartened at a guy who just actually sees it that clearly.

I fear how many Americans will have to die for the rest of the nation to wake up.

Rare Indeed

Rare is the guy who can repeatedly lose to himself in a debate.

I would never believe it had I not seen it with my own four eyes.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

We Don't want to Win

I want to win. I'm fairly sure that Sim wants to win. I know for certain that the President prioritizes winning the War on Terror. Many other people all across the country want to win. Sadly though, it seems that our Government does not. Not when mid-level bureaucrats wish to act as legal experts and make decisions way beyond their pay-grade; not when Congress hasn't the fortitude to name much less prosecute people and organizations that knowingly expose classified information to the public. No, we don't want to win.

It's not been a banner week in the War on Terror. First, a highly-effective and secret financial counter-terrorism tool is exposed, potentially putting citizens of large US cities such as New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles at greater risk of terror attacks.

For good measure, the US Supreme Court today made plain for all to see that it does not want to win this fight. The 5-3 decision makes it clearly more difficult to conduct a war against a state-less, irregular force by forcing America to extend--for all intents and purposes--Constitutional protections to detainees in Gitmo and other places. Additionally, the ruling calls for Geneva Convention protections to be extended to all detainees, despite the fact that they fight for no national state and do not wear a recognizable uniform.

Many have roundups on this. Here are select quotes:

Make no mistake: if this happens, the Supreme Court will have dictated that we now have a treaty with al Qaeda--which no President, no Senate, and no vote of the American people would ever countenance. (Compare this.) The Constitution consigns treaty-making to the political branches, not the courts, but a conclusion that Geneva protects Hamdan (and, by extension, his fellow savages) would ominously mean that the courts, under the conveniently malleable guise of "customary international law" can rewrite treaties to mean whatever they like them to mean.

Anyone want to bet against me that this won't come to mean criminal trials with virtually all the protections required to be given to U.S. citizens under the Constitution?


Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"--including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. See my further discussion here.

This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administration has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).

If I'm right about this, it's enormously significant.


Guest mil-blogger Oakleaf at PoliPundit offers the most scathing commentary of all:

I only wish that this was sarcasm. These individuals have no idea what they have done.

I wasted 12 months of my life in Afgahnistan for this.

Support by the military in the GWOT is going to collapse.

UPDATE: This opinion will go from a ripple to a wave throughout the uniformed military. We were slapped by John McCain last December. Today, we are slapped by the Supreme Court. This afternoon, I am removing myself from the volunteer list at Human Resources Command-St. Louis to re-deploy. I will not be the only one.

UPDATE: I have received three e mails so far from guys in Afgahnistan on my “.mil” e mail. The sentiment is as follows:

$%^& the supreme court. They have no idea what we are going through. Major xxxxxxxxx

My third tour for what? SHIT!!! Captain xxxxxxxxxx

I want to go home to my family now. Master Sergeant xxxxxxxxx

We do not want to win. We're making it increasingly clear to anyone who is watching. We're taking a knife to a gunfight and it's going to ultimately get people killed, whether it be soldiers overseas or innocent Americans living life at home when the next 9/11-like attack finally hits.

I hope we remember then that we can't blame any but ourselves.

Oil News

Oil news that doesn't get a feature spot. Go figure.

First off, it's reported yesterday that Iraq's oil production has reached a high not seen since pre-invasion 2003:

Iraq's new oil minister offered an optimistic forecast for the country's oil industry on Sunday, saying daily production has reached 2.5 million barrels a day and that Iraq hoped to rival top oil exporter Saudi Arabia within a decade.

Iraq expects its daily oil production to reach 2.6 million to 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the year, rising to about 4 million bpd by 2010, and 6 million bpd by 2012, Hussain al-Shahristani said in an interview on CNN's "Late Edition."

Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow wonders if market fundamentals are about to catch up with the oil markets:

The economic principles at work here are very simple: Markets work. Supply and demand works. Higher prices are gradually slowing consumption. At the same time, those high prices continue to stimulate outsized profits and investment returns. So capital is pouring into all the energy sectors, providing a strong foundation for new energy production. Chevron, for example, is reinvesting virtually all its profits in new oil-and-gas exploration and drilling. The drilling industry, meanwhile, has recovered from last year’s Hurricane Katrina shock and is once again producing near peak capacity.

There’s even good news from Washington on the energy front. The House Resources Committee, chaired by California Republican Richard Pombo, has just delivered the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, which will give coastal states the authority to drill 100 miles or more offshore. This will allow for exploration and production in the deep seas and on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), where kajillions in oil-and-gas reserves are waiting to be siphoned. It also will provide the coastal states with significant oil and gas royalties. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi opposes this, but the bill has strong bipartisan support.

Finally, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its first license for a major commercial nuclear facility in thirty years. Construction of the $1.5 billion National Enrichment Facility in New Mexico could begin in August, and according to Louisiana Energy Services CEO Jim Ferland, it could be ready to sell enriched uranium (for electricity) by early 2009. Senate Energy chair Pete Domenici calls this a “renaissance of nuclear energy in this country.”

A combination of market forces and government deregulation could be setting us up for a big crack in energy prices, including gas at the pump. And it may happen sooner rather than later. Many years ago, during the 1970s oil crisis, Milton Friedman argued that free markets are more powerful than OPEC, and Ronald Reagan proved the point when prices plunged after he deregulated energy in the early 1980s. Twenty years later, energy-market forces may be poised to assert themselves once more.

Is he right? I don't know, I'm not an economist. An interesting thought though and one that, if true, would be a welcome development.

Obligatory Sports Post

The New York Knicks are atrocious. They have an owner who doesn't know what he's doing, a GM who has ruined everything he's touched in the NBA and now a head coach with the same anti-Midas touch. Well, that's not really as spectacular a trick as it might sound because the GM and Head Coach are now one-and-the-same.

ESPN's Page 2 looks at the long-history of shattered franchises and shattered lives that Isaiah Thomas has left in his wake:

The New York Knicks are about to get even worse. Worse than 23-59. Worse than the Atlanta Hawks. Worse than being the league's leading laughingstock, an inept, ill-conceived collection of overpriced, underachieving talent. And also, worse than Jerome James.

We already know what you're thinking, The Knicks? Even worse? Is that possible?

Yes. It's possible. Probable. A near-mortal lock, in fact, a given now that Thomas is the team's coach.

Where there's Zeke, there's a way. To lose, that is.

Don't take their word for it though, the proof is in the pictures.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Here Come the Judge

As stated previously, this is a family-friendly site. But due to recent assertions of press freedom of which I am just a victim, it would be irresponsible for me not to sate the public's right to know regarding the behavior of one Oklahoma judge. Now you know my feelings about Oklahoma, but this sounds like the kind of thing you'd read about in....Arkansas.

All that good Pub

The other day, Today ran a Norah O'Donnell piece discussing the 'politic-ing' of the NY Times' recent revelations by the President and other members of the Administration. Afterward, fill-in David Gregory interviewed Chris Matthews about the program.

After pointing out the secretive nature of the Administration with the riveting example of Dick Cheney's Energy task-force (read: Giant Non-sequitur), he goes on to make the following observation: "The President's numbers have come down otherwords, there's been a trendline...has been about a 45-degree drop in support since 9/11...."

True enough. It doesn't take a rocket-scientist though to analyze at least one component in this phenomenon.

For the better part of three years the Big Media to a certain extent--and progressive media to the greater--have told us repeatedly that George Bush lied to go to war. They've told us that fault for 9/11 rests solely with him. They've featured angry mothers of war dead, offering them a voice far more worthy than their motives deserve. They've framed classified programs aimed at protecting the country as malicious efforts to stifle constitutional freedoms.

With such good pub, Big Media could talk God's approval ratings down.

Ted's Rocket

Ted's Delta IV took off from Vandenberg last night. Like the enthusiasts you see here, we had a bird's eye view last night while visiting with friends over in the Country Club.

Never seen anything burn so bright for so long: The Boeing rocket, approximately 20 stories tall, blasted into twilight sky as dozens of onlookers watched from vantage points on and around Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The flight was clearly visible at Gaviota and other points on the Central Coast.The dusky skies allowed spectators to see the rocket's pair of powerful solid rocket motors fall away as Delta climbed.

“What a show, huh?” said John K. Mitchell, spokesman for engine maker Pratt and Whitney. “Wow. The word I have to give you is wow. We're delighted. That was pretty spectacular stuff.”

No word from Ted though on his take.

"I fall down, go Boom"

I hate having hypoglycemic reactions in the middle of the night. Perhaps not nearly as much as my poor wife who must nurse me back to lucidity, but still...I have no fun.

The middle of our night on Friday (or call it ridiculously early Saturday morning) was again rudely interrupted with another visit from the Ghost of Hypoglycemia. I have no recollection of my wife's help--the first thing I remember is laying in bed, noticing that she was not there but suddenly struck by how much I needed to get up and get to the restroom. Timing is, of course, everything.

With a start I pushed the covers off and sat up, ever so wobbly but determined to get there one way or another. After about 10 steps my feet gave way, I went down and cracked my head on the edge of the bench-seat that runs under our bedroom window. With that crash my wife and the girls all came running to find me kneeling as if in prayer to the bench with blood on my hands.

My wife--God bless her a hundred times--before she could be annoyed was willing to clean me up and get me back to bed in one piece. All in all the episode turned out to be better than it sounds, but still is prompting an appointment with an endocrinologist to address my struggling control of my blood sugars of late.

The worst part though was showing up at Flower Festival the next morning looking like I'd been beaten up in a bar fight.

"You should see the other guy!"

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weak Sauce

This, from the Times' Bill Keller yesterday, is just plain weak. I won't offer much in the way of analysis because, frankly, others are doing it better but this is just a weak attempt at justifying the Times' pulling back of the curtain of secrecy that shrouds our government's counter-terrorism efforts.

As to that 'better analysis'...

Hugh's initial reaction is here. Instapundit and Powerline (lawyers all), weigh in here and here. Meanwhile, Andy McCarthy at NRO lets loose again here.

The Administration has even weighed in now; the President here: "The disclosure of this program is disgraceful,"...and the Vice President with these comments:

"What is doubly disturbing for me is that not only have they gone forward with these stories, but they've been rewarded for it, for example, in the case of the terrorist surveillance program, by being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding journalism. I think that is a disgrace."

Perhaps the best response of all comes, however, from outgoing Treasury Secretary John Snow who writes this response to Bill Keller's 'explanation':

Mr. Bill Keller, Managing Editor The New York Times 229 West 43rd Street New York, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Keller:

The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.

Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror. Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.

You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that "terror financiers know" our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.

Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the "public interest" in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.

What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.

John W. Snow, Secretary

U.S. Department of the Treasury

The Secretary's letter packs, by far, the biggest wallop of any of the "official" responses and--rightfully so in my opinion--calls Mr. Keller out for trying to sugar-coat the issue of who-said-what about the program to the Times. Under Secretary Levey underscored that argument in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt program this afternoon:

HH: I'm talking to Stuart Levey, who is the department of Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. Mr. Levey, about half hour ago, I pretaped a segment with Wolf Blitzer, and a former Washington Post ombudsman. And Wolf made the argument to me now look, how do we know that this is going to help terrorists? And I replied that certainly in the case of Hambali, anyone who knows Hambali in the terrorist world will simply reverse engineer what he did with regards to money, and not do it again. Is that overstatement? Is that one of the ways...

SL: Well, I think you're essentially on the right track, Hugh. I mean, what people will now know is exactly what information it is that we're obtaining, and it's not too hard to evade it. I have to say, I hope very much that it remains valuable, but I'm certainly concerned that the effectiveness of this program has been damaged.

HH: New York Times editor Bill Keller published a letter on his website yesterday, and this paragraph stuck out at me. It was the second to last, or actually, the third from the last paragraph. "A secondary argument against publishing the banking story was that publication would lead terrorists to change tactics. But that argument was made in a half-hearted way. It has been widely reported, indeed trumpeted by the Treasury Department, that the U.S. makes every effort to track international financing of terror. Terror financiers know this, which is why they have already moved as much as they can to cruder methods. But they also continue to use the international banking system, because it is immeasurably more efficient than toting suitcases of cash. Your response, Stuart Levey?

SL: Well, I have a couple of responses to that. One, it's offensive to me that he says it's half-hearted. I met with his editors several times, his reporters several times. I made a very impassioned pitch to them, and it was very, very heartfelt. I pleaded with them not to publish this story. Secondly, I would say it's quite arrogant of the New York Times to be suggesting that they know what terrorists are doing. I'm telling you that the terrorists are still using this system. At least they were up until last week, and it was continuing to be valuable. Yes, a number of terrorist organizations are moving money through case and other informal means, but this system was still being valuable, and exposing it was quite damaging.

HH: Did you meet with Mr. Keller?

SL: Secretary Snow did.

HH: And when did that happen?

SL: I don't have an exact date, and I'm not sure I would do that. But we were engaged with them over a period of several weeks, trying to persuade them not to publish this story.
HH: Stuart Levey, did you go to New York?

SL: No, I met with them here, and all the meetings were in Washington.

HH: Do you want the Department of Justice to try and ascertain who it is that leaked this information to the New York Times?

SL: Well, I think that we need to find out how some of these leaks are occurring. This series of leaks that we've had, and the publications that we've had, make it very difficult to do counter-terrorism. We certainly are pursuing a very deadly enemy. These people take a lot of precautions, and we can't expect to continue disrupting them if our programs are all exposed on the front pages of our newspapers. So yes, I'd love to see whatever can be done to stop it.
HH: Have you read Mr. Keller's letter?

SL: I have, yes.

HH: And what was your general response, not just to that paragraph, but to his tone and his attitude?

SL: I don't think that I want to get into a dispute with Mr. Keller. I think it's...I'll just leave it by saying we tried very, very hard to persuade them not to publish it. We believe, and I think the overall reaction to the story bears this out, that this is on very, very sound legal footing, we have controls in place, and it was quite valuable. Those three things taken together, in our view, tipped the balance so that it shouldn't have been published. Mr. Keller made a different decision, and that's his to make. And I'm just disappointed.

The fire breathed at Keller and his reporters is justifiable and, if there be any justice will continue for quite some time. A Rather-esque retirement would be the least satisfactory result at this point.

The Un-Democrat

A somewhat encouraging sign from Senator Carl Levin on Sunday:

WALLACE: And what about the idea that this says something about the overall mission?

LEVIN: I think that we've, frankly, been there so long that we're going to see quite a few of these incidents. They're intolerable. We train our people not to kill innocent folks. But will there be a few of these? I'm afraid there will be. There are in other wars. There will be in this war and are, I'm afraid, in this war.

But is it a pattern? No. I think 99 percent of our troops are fighting professionally. They've been trained well. I hope it's not a pattern, but there will be a few.

Though seconds before he was pushing the line that there was a command cover-up in Haditha but call me an optimist. Maybe there's hope for the Murtha-ites after all.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Start with 'Bitter'

Markos Moulitsas is a bitter little progressive.

His reaction this week vis-a-vis his comrade-in-arms Jerome Armstrong and the "pay-to-play" allegations against him is combative, angry and ultimately unpersuasive. It does though highlight all the things that make DailyKos run:Ludicrous, all of it, but that's the new rules of the game. TNR and its enablers are feeling the heat of their own irrelevance and this is how they fight it -- by undermining the progressive movement. Zengerle has made common cause with the wingnutosphere, using the laughable "kosola" frame they created and emailing his "scoops" to them for links. This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into -- just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy.

While Markos has most certainly not broken any law or breached any sort of code of blogger ethics, he has damaged the one primary attribute that, as he once so eloquently put it, makes blogs work: Credibility.

For the record, this kind of phenomenon--just the mere appearance of impropriety--is precisely why you don't read much here about one of my favorite pet-peeves: ridiculous assaults on Walmart. While I frequently receive many an email from Marshall, my responses and posts number few.

Why? Quite simple really; I and the paper I work for actively pursue advertising dollars from Walmart at the corporate and local level.

Opening myself to scrutiny for writing pro-Walmart commentary while deriving income from a business relationship with them is something that I, for the sake of credibility, do not want.

Markos would be wise to get his head around that lesson, though it seems he has not yet.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jack Cafferty, Nincompoop

Jack Cafferty of CNN asks the dumbest question in the history of Television.

If I have the chance, I'll bring up the Cafferty Standard if-and-when the California State Franchise Tax Board tries to collect the $1000 they think I owe them from 2001.


"We've done it before, we'll do it again"

The same day that the Justice Department announces that a home-grown, al-Qaeda sympathizing terrorist cell in Miami had been disrupted, the NY Times took it upon themselves to expose yet another secretive US government program aimed at protecting Americans from further terror attacks similar to what the Miami Seven had aspired to. Yep, here we go again.

This time around, the Times reveals the cooperation between US intelligence and a banking consortium--SWIFT--designed to track financial dealings internationally. The Times says of it: Swift's database provides a rich hunting ground for government investigators. Swift is a crucial gatekeeper, providing electronic instructions on how to transfer money among 7,800 financial institutions worldwide. The cooperative is owned by more than 2,200 organizations, and virtually every major commercial bank, as well as brokerage houses, fund managers and stock exchanges, uses its services. Swift routes more than 11 million transactions each day, most of them across borders.

The cooperative's message traffic allows investigators, for example, to track money from the Saudi bank account of a suspected terrorist to a mosque in New York. Starting with tips from intelligence reports about specific targets, agents search the database in what one official described as a "24-7" operation.

As indicated by the Times' report, the general consensus within the government is that this program is in fact legal even as it pushes at the edge of the envelope. Attorneys at Treasury and Justice concluded..."that the privacy laws applied to banks, not to a banking cooperative like Swift. "

Likewise, reporters Erich Lichtblau and James Risen document successes that have come as a result of this effort. So let's recap quickly...

We have a program that is generally accepted as legal and effective at fulfilling it's purpose. Namely, drying up terrorist monies around the world and providing information that leads to arrests of terrorist suspects and sympathizers.

So then, why if you are the NY Times would you divulge this information? According to Times' editor Bill Keller, it's because of some compelling "public interest":

Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

I've thought about this all day, I've read the several roundups of opinion and blogger commentary and for the life of me I haven't discovered this "public interest." Scott Ott in his comic-tary makes the only argument I can get my head around:

Under a secret program launched in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, which killed 3,000 people on American soil, The New York Times gained access to private information from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and disseminated it periodically on paper and electronically to al Qaeda and other terror organizations.

News of the covert "intel-sifting and sharing" program follows revelations by the Times and other major media operations that the Bush administration ordered monitoring of major international bank transactions after the 9/11 attacks, which toppled two of the tallest buildings in the United States.

Last year, the Times revealed that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on phone calls to and from suspected terrorists in an effort to prevent another attack like 9/11, in which a civilian jetliner was used in a missile strike on U.S. military headquarters at the Pentagon.
Times executive editor Bill Keller, in a hastily-called news conference, assured Americans that the scope of the intel-sifting and sharing program is "strictly limited," and that the results are "crucial to the success of the war on the war on terror."

An argument that is echoed by Andy McCarthy at NRO: The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.

And so there we are. The morning's anger has given way to a sort of perplexed frustration as to what ought to happen here. Does the Times get off scott-free when it--intentionally or otherwise--reveals sensitive and classified information for the second time in six months? I don't know...

I do know though that the Times' sources should sleep very fitfully. A special prosecutor should be commissioned and an investigation into Government sources who spilled this to the Times should begin near-immediately.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Where I am

This is where I am now, or will be for each of the next several days. Assuming I'm not here or at work.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Chimpy Bush McHitler says what!?

Matt Lauer is a weenie. In his interview this morning with Counselor to the President, Dan Bartlett, he expressed concern over the President's characterization of Democrat's position on "redeployment" of US troops out of Iraq:

"'The White Flag of Surrender'...that's a very dramatic and harsh expression to use against the Democrats. Have you heard any Democrat calling for the White Flag of surrender?"

Chimpy Bush McHitler says what!?

Matt, for three years Democrats in varying tones of harsh and dramatic rhetoric have accused the President of lying outright in starting a war for oil. Groups serving the Democratic base--far, far to the left--such as have made even wilder 'claims' and in fact, have endorsed grassroots political ads equating the President of the United States with Adolf Hitler.

And you're just now concerned about harsh and heated political rhetoric?!


Winning is the point

So says Andrew Sullivan. Ryan Sager at RealClearPolitics isn't quite sure he's buying:

OK, I'm not here to defend torture, but can Andrew Sullivan and the reader he quotes approvingly here really say what they're saying with straight faces?

After reviewing the reader's statement, this: We shun torture to preserve our own dignity as a society, not because we expect mercy from the enemy. They will show us none. To pretend otherwise is naive and morally blind.


For good measure, he notes that Andrew offers some clarification on the subject. For my money, the second comment is as stupefying as the first:

It qualifies as such by the Geneva Conventions definition. And Rumsfeld's own explicit guidance for interrogation techniques allowed the unethical use of medical and psychological records to devise specific torture methods for individual prisoners. Yes, that violates Geneva. But we already know what Rumsfeld thinks of Geneva. I should also pre-empt the flood of emails about this post by simply saying: a) yes, al Qaeda would torture captured American soldiers whatever our policies are; and b) yes, even the worst forms of torture we have employed cannot be measured up against the Jihadists' barbarism. But torture is always wrong; and this war is both military and ideological. Before the Bush-Cheney torture policy, the U.S. could protest the abuse of its soldiers in enemy captivity and be supported by its allies and their populations. Generations of American soldiers had cemented the concept of America as a decent country for whom torture was unthinkable. No longer. And so the enemy gains in the long war; and we lose. That's the point. Winning is the point.

1) Geneva doesn't apply. It never applied in this fight. Insurgents and terrorists don't fight in a uniformed military belonging to a state. It doesn't apply.

2) If winning is the point, lets do it. Let's win. Unfortunate as it might seem, that means fighting like you mean it.

Makin' it up as we go along II

According to the LA Times yesterday, there is no "cover up" in Haditha. Foul up, yes...cover up, no:

The general charged with investigating whether Marines tried to cover up the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha has completed his report, finding that Marine officers failed to ask the right questions, an official close to the investigation said Friday.

Nothing in the report points to a "knowing cover-up" of the facts by the officers supervising the Marines involved in the November incident, the official said. Rather, he said, officers from the company level through the staff of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Baghdad failed to demand "a thorough explanation" of what happened in Haditha.

As Michelle and others have pointed out so ably, that is a far cry from what we were assured had happened:

A powerful member of Congress alleged yesterday that there has been a conscious effort by Marine commanders to cover up the facts of a November incident in which rampaging Marines allegedly killed 24 Iraqi civilians.

"There has to have been a coverup of this thing," Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, charged in an interview on ABC's "This Week." "No question about it."

Poor Wile E.'d think after a while he'd learn that his plans backfire, routinely making him the victim. You'd think the Democrats in Congress and their fellow anti-war travelers might pick up on the same lesson.

Downing Street, Valerie Plame, the Non-indictment Rove indictment...they can't help themselves sometimes.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What's the objective?

Do we want to win the fight or be nice?

Andrew Sullivan on today's discovery of the bodies of the two missing US soldiers in Iraq:

I doubt whether even Donald Rumsfeld will describe what has been done to two young American soldiers as a "coercive interrogation technique." But you never know. Some people wonder why I remain so concerned about torture, and the surrender of our moral standing with respect to this unmitigated evil. Maybe the news of captured, tortured and murdered Americans will jog their conscience. Or maybe it will simply reinforce the logic of torture-reciprocity endorsed by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales. As usual, complete silence from Instapundit. Almost radio silence from the Corner, except for the torture-advocate, Mark Levin, who is urging reciprocal atrocities. Give him points for consistency. And so the cycle of depravity and defeat deepens ...

And we maintain our standards of civility that differentiate us from most of the rest of the world. At what price?

How many other soldiers and/or civilians must be put into potentially the same kind of danger so that Andrew can feel morally superior to his enemies?

Doing the job of Iraq is not worth doing half-assed. Are we there to win the fight or aren't we?

I won't dogpile--and it needs no explanation--but Greg Riehl expresses a not-uncommon perspective on what Andrew Sullivan has become over the last two-and-a-half years.

Makin' it up as we go along

Tom Maguire highlights (ridicules? Kinda the same thing in this case...) the ongoing follies over at Truthout surrounding Jason Leopold and the Rove Non-indictment-Indictment. It's ridiculously funny to see how much like a pretzel founder Marc Ash's logic has become on the subject:

--They have a case number, but it can't possibly have been created on the date they claim.
--Their day long meeting at the area law firm of Patton Boggs now only needed be long enough to read "part of the indictment" to Rove and his attorney.

Round and round they go...where they land, not even they know!

Put that in your pipe and smoke it

Since this is a family-friendly blog, I won't say too much about it; but if you're up for a well-crafted, funny piece of prose let me direct you to the latest missive from one of the best writers out there, Christopher Hitchens.

In the piece, Hitchens deconstructs the history of a form of employment that few males would refuse. And while some may find the subject matter boorish or even inappropriate, it's worth the read just to watch Hitchens on top of his game. It's so clever, intelligent and witty that even the most dubious reader can have fun with it. And I think that is part of the brilliance of Hitchens: No matter what he writes or the relative importance of the subject matter, he's obviously having an awful lot of fun.


Marley and Me and Lacy makes Three

Columnist and author John Grogan's memoir of life with the family pooch, Marley and Me was the subject of a Lifestyle feature this weekend in the Santa Barbara News Press. I immediately felt like I'd known both he and his precocious Yellow Lab, Marley, for years and it was quite apparent that Marley, in one regard at least, is quite obviously a kindred spirit to, if not the elder brother of, Lacy.

Grogan's stories are different yet very much the same and the memoir oozes with the love of Master for his pet and even a grudging measure of respect for the animal's uncanny ability for mischief. It also reflects the sadness all must feel at the passing of any four-footed member of the family and reminds me of the dread I feel even this many years away from that day that waits for us when Lacy and Cassie both will no longer be ours.

At the end of it all, I'm just reminded how much I ought to enjoy every sock-swallowing, couch-chewing, carpet-shredding moment. And do.

Monday, June 19, 2006

One man's garbage...

Is apparently another man's triumph. At least that's what Mike of Blogactive seems to think.

And I suppose he's right in one sense. I mean, for one lone blog to force a man out of Congress does display a certain amount of moxie and more than a bit of influence:

Mind you, you may call it garbage, but I'm the one who got him to leave congress, so the laugh is on you, I guess.

But is that what the blogosphere is really about? Outing men because you get some strange sense of a job well-done at exposing their perceived hypocrisy?

No thanks; I'll stand by my original assessment.

Coming out swinging

If you missed them, Ralph Peters came out swinging in both his NY Post columns last week. First was this scolding of Big Media know-it-alls.

Then came this commentary in the wake of documents released in Iraq. I, like Peters, have gotten a little tired of the conventional coverage of all facets of the Iraq war and so greatly appreciated some blunt push-back.

Semper Fi!

David Holcomb, loving husband and devoted father of three arrived safely home from his second tour of Iraq on Sunday, June 11th.

God is Good!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ethics, Schmethics!

If this is true, Jason Leopold makes Jayson Blair look like Edward R. Murrow.

What a piece of garbage...

Meanwhile, Marc Ash did his best last week to keep hope alive:

Truthout of course published an article on May 13 which reported that Karl Rove had in fact already been indicted. Obviously there is a major contradiction between our version of the story and what was reported yesterday. As such, we are going to stand down on the Rove matter at this time. We defer instead to the nation's leading publications.

In that Mr. Luskin has chosen the commercial press as his oracle - and they have accepted - we call upon those publications to make known the contents of the communiqué which Luskin holds at the center of his assertions. Quoting only those snippets that Mr. Luskin chooses to characterize in his statements is not enough. If Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has chosen to exonerate Mr. Rove, let his words - in their entirety - be made public.

Reporter Jason Leopold

Mr. Leopold did not act alone in his reporting of this matter. His work, sources and conclusions were reviewed carefully at each step of the process. There is no indication that Mr. Leopold acted unethically.

Please keep in mind that over the years we have reported on many examples of individuals being scapegoated in crisis situations by superiors seeking cover from controversy. Truthout, however, does not do scapegoats. And we stand firmly behind Jason Leopold.

Truthout never struck me as an entity with much in the way of credibility, as it always seemed full of the same progressive conspiratorial adventures that one can more readily follow at a Democratic Underground or DailyKos...sort of a political version of the supermarket tabloids. Frankly, I never got the attraction.

Sort of ironic it all came down the same week that Dan Rather was set out to pasture.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Whistlin' Dixie

Does this make you want to vomit? I know I did. (Want to hurl, that is.)

I didn't really care about the Dixie Chicks episode in 2003. Fine, they're against the war. Said it on a stage. No sweat. That's democracy.

I don't know much about the Chicks, except that they went to The Greenhill School (one of my rival schools when I debated) and formed in Dallas' Deep Ellum music scene during the period I was pretty involved with it. I don't know their music and I'm not interested in country music on the whole. But I find the vague "poor Chicks overcome Big Brother" hero-worship from abroad a bit much and more importantly, I find the Chicks' own spin of the debacle to be fairly pathetic.

"The reaction was as if Natalie had said 'Death to the President' or something," says violinist and vocalist Maguire.

"It was the bullying and the scare factor," shudders banjo and guitar player Robison. "It was like the McCarthy days, and it was almost like the country was unrecognisable."

Shuddering, indeed.

McCarthy days? For people who seem so concerned about free expression in a democracy, they seem wildly unfamiliar with the notion of responsibility which accompanies that freedom. Sure, you can say any damn thing you want, no matter how irresponsible. But when you say something, especially publicly, you open yourself up to criticism or negative sanction. That sanction represents society's collective right to exercise *its* freedom of expression. That's the deal. That's democracy. No one ever promised any of us freedom of speech without consequences. Our Constitution merely makes the promise that the government will not incarcerate or punish us for expressing our views. If you fel strongly about a view that is unpopular, by all means express it. But don't cry to the British press when you voice this opinion and it meets with a predictable response. Show some sack.

Last I checked, the Dixie Chicks were free to make another album and untold millions. They made their opinion about the war known, which is fine, and in response a good deal of the country made its opinion of the Chicks' comments known. Touche. I saw nothing in the way of government intervention or censorship that might recall the McCarthy era. I also saw no major deviations in the recognizability of this nation's political discourse. So either Robison has her head somewhere physically uncomfortable when it comes to the history of McCarthyism or she's playing martyr. I'll let you make the call.

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Now the patriotism comment is something altogether different and troubling, gritted teeth or no. Again, the notion of responsibility completely eludes these intellectual heavyweights. Do you have to love this country to live here? Obviously not. Do you have to support everything the government does? Clearly not. Can you speak out against certain policies as Maines did in 2003? Sure.

But what is patriotism? Patriotism is defined as love and devotion to one's country. A willingness to sacrifice for one's country. Please note that the definitions speak of country and not government. An important distinction, I would say.

I think any American with a sense of history should love and respect and be willing to sacrifice for a nation which has given so much to each one of us. After all, how many heroes died at Bunker Hill, Antietam and Normandy? How many Americans have foregone significant portions of their salaries to provide clean drinking water, social security, welfare, education and so many other things which have allowed us to reach for our dreams? Poor little Natalie sits in her counting room on stacks of bills to the ceiling, in part, because of the sacrifices of so many nameless, faceless people who made contributions to her life. That she sits on these bills and shows not the slightest bit of gratitude for the sacrifice of the nameless, faceless may be both a commentary on the superficiality of this band and the Entitlement Generation's repugnant worldview.

But then again, a key aspect of the definition of patriotism is the willingness to sacrifice for love of country. Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death." He was willing to risk it all for his devotion not to a government, but a nation. Natalie Maines' 2003 comments could well have been viewed as patriotic, but her clear resentment of criticism showed she was quite unwilling to sacrifice for love of country. She was not a patriot. Her 2006 comments further support this. It was not even her objective to speak out for love of country. Maines was a disingenuous patriot in 2003 and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of patriotism in 2006.

Finally, how about this baffling juxtaposition?

"A lot of artists cashed in on being against what we said or what we stood for because that was promoting their career, which was a horrible thing to do," says Robison.

followed by

Early concerns about the premature demise of the Chicks' career subsided when the furiously unapologetic single Not Ready to Make Nice became the most downloaded track on iTunes, despite a lack of radio airplay. Then the album went to number one on the Billboard 200 after selling half a million copies in the week after its release in America last month. It looks set to be their first UK top 10 album this Sunday.

So it was wrong of other artists to "cash in" on the Chicks' 2003 comments, but it is perfectly OK for the band to merchandise itself on the basis of a furiously unapologetic single. Hey, more power to you, Chicks. But lose the hypocrisy.

Bottom line, people with marketplace power have a voice. It just sucks that these voices tend to be backed by precious little gray matter.

UPDATE: See point about marketplace power. Five minutes after I post, here's what GoogleAds gives us:

Dixie Chicks TicketsBuy Dixie Chicks Concert Tickets. Where Fans Buy & Sell Tickets.™
Dixie Chicks ConcertsVisit for the Latest on the Dixie Chicks & the New
Dixie Chicks RingtonesDownload Dixie Chicks ringtones for any

Poor Natalie. She's really sacrificed. It's McCarthyism. She's been blackballed.

UPDATE II: There's always more than one way to skin a cat. Coalition of the Swilling gives the Dixie Chicks less credit than I do.

Wasting my Time?

You decide.

UPDATE: Garbage like this can sit around and collect 178 comments, yet I'm fortunate to get 30 visits a day. What gives?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Troubling News about the News

I don't know that you can call it "Civil War," as some have, but it isn't a good thing that a major stock-holder in The Tribune Company, owner of the Los Angeles Times, start selling off chunks of the media giant:

In a letter addressed to the Tribune board of directors, the Chandler Trusts said that the company had not achieved its aims of boosting profits by owning complementary media outlets in major U.S. markets. They expressed fears the future would be no different unless it changes course.

"This strategy has failed," said the Chandler Trusts, which represents the Chandler family.
The Chandlers said the company should consider a tax-free spinoff as the most effective way to accomplish the split. It said Tribune's board has been considering such a move for "many months" but has taken no action.

Three Tribune board members representing the Chandler Trusts signed the letter. The Chandler family took a stake in Tribune as part of its agreement to sell the Times-Mirror Co., and its flagship Los Angeles Times newspaper, to Tribune for $8.3 billion in 2000.

Tribune had sought to build a stable of major newspapers -- including the Times, Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun -- to work in tandem with its television and Internet holdings. It also owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Part of the strategy, the letter said, anticipated changes in U.S. media regulations that would allow media companies to own multiple radio and TV stations, as well as print publications, in the same market. But an effort to relax those regulations has languished in a legal battle.
In the interim, Tribune has seen its stock fall nearly 38 percent during the past two years as many of its papers lost readers to the Internet, while newsprint costs rose and advertising dollars retreated.

However, publisher Jeff Johnson says the Times is not for sale:

Billionaire investor Ron Burkle, former Olympics organizer and Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and philanthropist Eli Broad have indicated in recent interviews or in comments to others that they would like to buy The Times or see it in local hands.

"The L.A. Times is a world-class brand," Ueberroth, a financier and former travel entrepreneur, said in an interview this week. "We're always attracted to quality brands."

Though analysts estimate that The Times could sell for about $1 billion, Publisher Jeff Johnson said the paper was not for sale. With about $1 billion in annual sales, the paper accounts for about 18% of Tribune's revenue and about 17% of operating profit.

One deterrent would be the huge tax burden Tribune would incur in an outright sale.Yet investors and analysts said Tuesday that a rift between the paper's owner, Tribune Co., and its second-largest shareholder, the Chandler family of Los Angeles, had the potential to put The Times in play.

Hugh is a big proponent of blowing up the LA Times and starting over. His summary of this fight echoes that point of view:

This would be a great thing, as the rescue of any newspaper is a good thing, and the recovery of the Times' brand would not be that difficult after a round of tough cuts and the end of hard left agenda journalism.

Ron Burkle may be a FOB, but he's an extraordinary businessman who knows how to sell. Ditto Ueberroth and Broad, though the former Los Anegles Olympics chief is a GOPer, not a Dem like the other two. The three would not put up with the destruction of circulation in the service of politics.

I sometimes wonder if this view really understands the situation that newspapers find themselves in in our New Media environment. As one tasked with selling for one of only a handful of papers in the entire state of California that saw it's circulation increase in the last year, I'm obligated to point out to anyone wanting to make this argument that the situation is far more complex than simple editorial changes.

I don't doubt that the things that Hugh points to aren't contributors, but it's too simple an explanation. Back in March, Outsell had this to say about the just-completed sale of Knight Ridder properties to the McClatchy Co.: In Outsell’s opinion, the increasing uncertainties of market share and future revenue streams have caught up with news publishers. Those valuation questions will be further tested immediately. As the ink on the deal was barely dry, 12 of the KR papers – including flagships in Philadelphia (the Inquirer) and San Jose (the Mercury News) – learned that their buyer was putting them on the block. It was a rude interruption of their celebration. (Their surprise was shared by KR CEO Tony Ridder, who told the Mercury News that he was shocked that his hometown paper and 11 others would not remain in McClatchy’s fold.) The reason was clear: CEO Gary Pruitt had made good on his read-my-lips promise to his shareholders. As the KR auction moved forward, he told them that McClatchy would not waver from its relatively successful strategy of buying higher-margin properties in higher-growth markets. Philadelphia, San Jose, and others didn’t meet that standard. Not said but very much an issue: most of the 12 have unions, making cost savings more difficult and time-consuming to achieve. As Pruitt went on a whirlwind goodwill tour of media and analysts, he made the point that he wanted the deed done quickly. The 12 papers – currently producing 42 percent of KR’s revenues – were to be ready to be transferred to their eventual owners on July 1, when he takes ownership of KR. In Outsell’s opinion, Pruitt’s urgency makes sense. McClatchy is in the throes of all the same issues as its brethren companies. Those issues center on the disruptive effects of the Internet, as readers become online users and advertisers move to the seductive allures of measurable online reach.

If the shoe fits, wear it...and the LA Times' wears essentially the same size booties that prompted McClatchy to unload 12 of the higher-profile KR properties. It's not just a matter of not liking left-leaning editorial content.

Where's this guy been?

Where has George Bush been for the last year-and-a-half?

The George Bush that spoke to reporters yesterday morning in the Rose Garden was confident, poised and purposeful. Where has he been hiding?!

Others have comments on how it went:

Let Freedom Ring says: In what could only be termed as a strong, passionate, logical defense of his Iraq policy, President Bush explained in great detail why we:

  • can’t leave Iraq until the sectarian violence is dramatically reduced;
    must still help Iraq’s emerging government with security operations;
  • and must stay engaged in Iraq in terms of what it means to the overall GWOT.

President Bush also said that he looked forward to debating with Democrats that setting a timetable “is bad policy.” He said that the Iraqi people have to know that they have a reliable ally in their struggle against sectarian violence and foreign jihadists.

Here’s some of the noteworthy things the President said:

He thought he shouldn’t call Zarqawi’s death as a “tide turning” and that he’d rather think in terms of making steady progress in Iraq. That marks a change in tone, replacing his prior bold tone with a more cautious tone.

He said that setting a “zero violence” benchmark for success wasn’t realistic because “it gives the insurgents and foreign terrorists” something to point to as America and its allies not succeeding.

AP’s article has this quote, which I thought was significant:

“Iraqi and coalition forces are still on the offense,” Bush added. He cited raids of suspected terrorist targets. “We got new intelligence from those raids which will enable us to keep the pressure on the foreigners and the local Iraqis who are killing innocent lives,” he told a Rose Garden news conference. “We’ll seize this moment of opportunity to help the prime minister,” Bush added.

This statement’s significance relates back to Democrats calls for a timetable, which he dismissed as bad policy.

That last point was where I walked into the TV coverage, having turned on Today expecting to see Matt et al. and instead seeing a George Bush that I haven't seen for quite some time. Anyway, I thought that exchange was one of a couple of key statements.

From the transcript:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I'm pleased to be here. Mr. President, polls show that the public thinks Democrats can do a better job of running the country than Republicans. Are you concerned that Republicans will lose control of Congress in November? And do you think there's anything you could have done differently to put them in a better position, coming up in the midterms?

THE PRESIDENT: I remember 2004. At one point, people -- you would have stood up and said, you know, there's no way you can get reelected, if you had been listening to those polls. I can't remember, I was probably down double digits at some point. And they said, how can you possibly stand here and tell us you're going to get reelected. Listen, the elections are a long way off. What's going to matter is who has got the plan that will enable us to succeed in Iraq and keep the economy growing. And I look forward to the campaign. And I believe we're going to hold the House and the Senate, because our philosophy is one that is forward-looking and optimistic and has worked. We've got a record to run on.

There's an interesting debate in the Democrat Party about how quick to pull out of Iraq. Pulling out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission will make the world a more dangerous place. It's bad policy. I know it may sound good politically; it will endanger our country to pull out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission.

See, Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. It's not "the" global war on terror, it's a theater in the global war on terror. And if we fail in Iraq, it's going to embolden al Qaeda types. It will weaken the resolve of moderate nations to stand up to the Islamic fascists. It will cause people to lose their nerve and not stay strong.

And so I look forward to taking the debate -- that's not quite right -- kind of getting warmed up as a result of your question -- the timing is not right for me to get out there yet. But I think the Democrat economic policy of raising people's taxes isn't going to work either. I know they'll couch it in all kinds of language, but really what they're saying is we're going to raise your taxes.

So, you know, Sheryl, thanks for your question. I don't necessarily buy your premise. I feel confident we will hold the House and the Senate

The response was confident, strong and insightful. It tells us exactly what he thinks and why he thinks it. Again, where has George W. Bush the Orator been hiding.

Later on in answering a question from CBS' Jim Axelrod, the President took a back-handed swipe at the press. After discussing the Iraqi PM, he said this: I was also pleased to meet with his cabinet. You might remember, it wasn't all that long ago that there were some doubts in people's minds as to whether or not this government had the capacity to put a unity government -- as a matter of fact, there was doubts after the first election as to whether or not a portion of the population would even participate in the elections. And last December a lot of folks voted, from all different aspects of society, and the government reflects that. And that was important for me to see firsthand, as well.

The enemy has an advantage in this war, because they can get on our TV screens every day. And, of course, it upsets me when I see the loss of innocent life, and it upsets me to know that our servicemen and women are losing their lives. I'm like most Americans, it is -- death affects my way of thinking. But I also understand the stakes of this war, see. I understand how important it is to defeat the enemy. Now, I recognize some in the country don't feel that same sense of urgency I do. But al Qaeda is real; their philosophy is a real philosophy; they have ambitions. Their stated goal is to drive us out of Iraq before a government can defend itself and govern itself and sustain itself, so they can have safe haven from which to launch further attacks. And my most important job is to protect the American people from harm. And I understand the stakes of this war. And I understand this battlefront in Iraq.

And I want to repeat something: Iraq is not the only part of this war. It's an essential part, but it's not the only part of the war on terror.

One extended meme-killer. An explanation of Iraq's context and the President's committment to the fight there.

I wish he'd given this presser last year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What I meant

From yesterday:

On a personal note, I'm going to tapdance all over the heads of the DU types, even the fine upstanding gentlemen at the Place that shall remain nameless, the commentariot who so blindly insisted that Valerie Plame was 'outed' as punishment for Joe Wilson's brave speaking of truth to power.


You all look like idiots for getting way-out in front of the facts and, frankly, you deserve it. You wanted desperately for this to be true to the point of trying to make it true through sheer force of will.

At least one of the players in this whole little drama seems to agree:

What was most notable in Mr. Luskin’s brief statement was this line: “We believe that the Special Counsel’s decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove’s conduct.”

Mr. Luskin does not gnash his teeth at Mr. Fitzgerald.

“It’s not winning the lottery,” he said of the Rove case. “It’s just avoiding something that would be a truly horrendous injustice for your client …. You feel lucky to be part of a process that works fairly and intelligently.”

Actually, it’s the media—not the prosecutor’s office—that he’s angry at, and especially the bloggers. Mr. Luskin was eager to portray the suffering of his client as a function of media attention and speculation, rather than real danger of a conviction.

Mr. Rove, Mr. Luskin said, had fallen victim to partisans and—more importantly—the bloggers who became their enablers.

“It seems to me that there are lots of constituencies who have treated this as the story too good not to be true,” he said. “And people have all had their own reasons—whether they’re political, whether they have to do with opportunities to put themselves forward personally, whether or not they are motivated by efforts to show up the mainstream media.”

Tom Maguire called it a victory lap.

The Washington Times says--essentially--what I was thinking, actually calling out the offending (offensive?) parties:

Unfortunately, at times, some in the media sounded more like cheerleaders for Mr. Wilson, who said in 2003 that "it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs." In October, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert referred to Mr. Rove as "the administration's resident sleazemeister, who is up to his ears in this mess but has managed so far to escape indictment"; in November he declared that Mr. Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were "clowns" who had been "playing games with the identity of a CIA agent."

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC turned his TV show, "Countdown," into a veritable repository of misinformation: A Lexis-Nexis search shows that the subject of Karl Rove's demise was discussed 26 times on Mr. Olbermann's program. In an Oct. 28 appearance, Jim Vandehei of The Washington Post quoted "people close to Rove" who "are telling us that there's still a distinct possibility that he could be indicted, and that they probably will know soon." On the same broadcast, NBC News Correspondent Norah O'Donnell said that Mr. Rove "has come within a whisker of being indicted." But even though Mr. Rove had escaped indictment, Mrs. O'Donnell said it was still bad news, because he was still working at the White House: "In a way, it might have been even cleaner and more helpful to the president if Rove had gotten nipped with some minor level of indictment, so that you could just get rid of both of these people [Messrs. Rove and Libby] today." On the May 8 "Countdown" broadcast, MSNBC correspondent David Schuster said flatly, "I am convinced that Karl Rove will in fact be indicted."

In the end, however, Mr. Rove was not indicted. And Mr. Wilson was exposed in the bipartisan report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee two years ago, in which the panel demonstrated that Mr. Wilson misrepresented numerous aspects of his account of the trip he took to Niger in 2002. The fantasy Rove indictment should be a cautionary tale for the mainstream media. But we suspect that there will be no sober reassessment at the senior level of the mainstream media of the unprofessional performance of journalists and producers. Rather, we suspect, their instructions will be, "Reload, and fire again."

"...will in fact be indicted." No, fool...he will not. Will you have the nerve to tell us that you were driven over the edge by your dislike for the Administration and all it's members?

I doubt it and that's too bad. It would save alot of heartache in my estimation. As one of Tom's commenters, JJ, put it: The main event/day-of-reckoning for various media outlets is the Libby trial...

A scolding from Luskin or The Washington Times shouldn't rate a blimp [sic] on the radar compared to the severe storm that various sources of news/"truth" are due on PlameGate.

Lastly, Ralph Peters goes all out, calling out the media for it's recent behavior vis-a-vis the President.

Put up or Shut up

Us folks in the North County have an opportunity. Namely, we can put rhetoric into action and implement a solution or continue being part of the problem. American Ethanol looks to build an Ethanol refining facility just west of Santa Maria:

Citing a growing need in the energy industry, a Santa Maria-based company is proposing to bring corn by rail from the Midwest to be turned into ethanol in a 200,000-square-foot plant that would be built on vacant land two miles west of the city.

American Ethanol envisions a plant that would process 50 million gallons of the gasoline additive a year, with the possibility of expanding capacity to 100 million gallons.

If the project is approved, it would be the first ethanol plant in Santa Barbara County and one of only a handful statewide.

However, the proposal is just beginning a long process of review by Santa Barbara County, with the county Planning Commission scheduled to conceptually review it today and offer opinions on the early plans. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Parkway in Santa Maria.

Put up or shut up folks! Either we can take a step and help ease the crimp in statewide refining capacity and thereby help reduce gasoline prices and take--albeit a small one--a step toward energy independence.

Inside the Iraqi Government

Senator Inhofe (R-OK) gives Hugh the scoop after returning from his 11th trip to Iraq.

HH: Let's talk a little bit about the new defense minister, Jassin, Senator Inhofe. How's he strike you? Is he middle aged? Is he experienced in military matters?

JI: Yeah, he's very experienced. He's a general. He is a career military guy, and he's tough as he can be. And he came out with all kinds of wild things. I probably shouldn't tell you this...

HH: Oh, go ahead.

JI: But...and this is so funny when it happened. I was talking to him through an interpretor, and I didn't know whether he could speak English. And I finally got to the point where I said look, our big problem is the media, the media back in the United States, because they're lying to the people of America. All of a sudden, in clear English, he said I hate CNN.


HH: I'm talking with Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, just returned again from his 11th visit to Iraq, just today, I imagine. Senator, I just want to pause on the defense minister of Iraq's reaction to CNN. I hate CNN. Did he tell you why he hates CNN?

JI: Oh, he said all they do is talk about negative things, things that are bad, and we have nothing but successes over here. And then he start enumerating the successes, which I can verify, because I'm there all the time. The number, out of 112 battalions, they have 62 of them. That's over half of them that are either level 2 or level 1. That means they can conduct their own combat. He made the statement, and this is one of the things that he says that CNN and some of the media keeps saying, they keep saying that America is leading them, and we're in the rear. And he said that's not true at all. We are leading, and America is offering support. In fact, of the last 500 special operations that took place, 75% of them were led by the Iraqis, not by the Americans. Only 25% were. Now if you go back, as I've done on almost a monthly basis, you can see how this changes. And a year ago, hardly any of them were led by the Iraqis. These guys...I was up in Fallujah during the last election, and they were so proud. They were going down there to vote, and they were targeted, because they were supposed to shoot any of the Iraqi security forces that voted. And they went down, they voted, and they came back, and they were real proud of it. And then, when I asked them the question, are you going to be able to take over the security of's kind of funny, because of the language problem, they said nein, nein. I thought that meant no, no, but that really means yes, yes.

One Sane Democrat

Marshall Wittman was telling folks last week to temper their enthusiasm about the all-but-ordained Democratic take-over of Congress scheduled for this November:

As a veteran of the '94 revolution, the Moose is recalibrating his view on whether the Democrats will replicate that political tsunami - and not on the basis of the California 50 special. What fuels the Moose's increasing skepticism is that the Democrats are offering no governing vision. And while Democrats believe that there is no comparison between Republican and Democratic corruption scandals, that distinction may not be as clear to the general electorate.

Moreover, despite the unpopularity of the war, Republicans will relentlessly portray Democrats as the party of defeat and retreat. And as was demonstrated in San Diego, the GOP has not lost its touch in exploiting hot button issues.

Curb you enthusiasm.

Yes, you really do need to stand for something.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just when you think he can't be less savvy

He takes off for another super-double-secret flight to Iraq. According to some, he gave a heckuva speech to US soldiers while there.

Instead of meeting with Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki in a much-publicized teleconference, President Bush met with Iraqi leaders in person after an overnight flight from Washington:

President George W. Bush landed in Baghdad this morning on a surprise visit to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and bolster his newly formed government amid continuing sectarian violence.

Combine that with the death of Al-Zarqawi last week, the naming of the two most prominent and important cabinet members in the Iraqi Government and the President has had a pretty good week...

Like clockwork, the not-conservative-friendly Seattle Post Intelligencer published this report that hit the web about 5 hours ago as of this posting.

Aint no Crime...

So there aint no time. Fitzmas is postponed...well, forever. As quoted at thousands of blogs, left and right throughout the day:

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has told White House aide Karl Rove that he does not expect to seek charges against him in connection with the CIA leak case, Rove's lawyer said today.

In a statement this morning, Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, said that Fitzgerald "has formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges" against Rove.

"In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation," Luskin said in the statement. "We believe that the Special Counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct."

Unless you write for, or frequent cesspools like this.

Jason Leopold is doing his best to win the coveted 2006 Dan Rather "That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!," award!

On a personal note, I'm going to tapdance all over the heads of the DU types, even the fine upstanding gentlemen at the Place that shall remain nameless, the commentariot who so blindly insisted that Valerie Plame was 'outed' as punishment for Joe Wilson's brave speaking of truth to power.


You all look like idiots for getting way-out in front of the facts and, frankly, you deserve it. You wanted desperately for this to be true to the point of trying to make it true through sheer force of will. And what have you for your trouble?

A big fat pie-in-the-face. Enjoy worked hard for it.


Roy in AG is not short of any opinions on terrorism, Iraq or Zarqawi. Yesterday in the featured Letter to the Editor, Roy made it plain that--far as he's concerned--Zarqawi's death won't change anything:

The death of Al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda terrorist, means less to the Iraqi mess we are in than the Dodgers winning a game now means to who wins the World Series.

This hoopla over his death is, as Shakespeare said,--full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. What happens to a few terrorists will not make a gnat's difference. What makes the difference is U.S. military imperialism, which has created thousands of terrorists like Zarqawi, and will keep creating more and more and more. Only our withdrawal from Iraq stop it.

The hawks didn't and still don't like it that we withdrew from Vietnam and they will fight us getting out of Iraq. But like the bullies they are, they only know how to get us into war, not how to win it. And never will.

Thinking in black and white in a multicolor world leads only to misery.

This is what happens when someone gets all their information from Big Media. I'll bet dollars to donuts that Roy has never read a milblog. I'd wager that his only source of information on Abu Ghraib came from The New Yorker.

He was right on one thing. Vietnam. He's right that many don't like the way Vietnam ended. Not because we enjoyed seeing innocent Vietnamese and Cambodians suffer. Rather, because leaving South Vietnam to fend for itself when it was not able, ready nor willing to carry the full load meant that nearly 15 years of American sacrifices of time, effort, money and lives were wasted. Wasted because we failed in the objective.

He's also right that many of us have fought to date and will fight still the effort at imposing the Vietnam solution on the people of Iraq. This is a battle that can be won but only if we choose to see it through.

The Iraq-is-Vietnam crowd is wrong on this, in my estimation. While 2,500 brave men and women have died in this conflict, many more are coming home with stories of success and accomplishment in Iraq. We're on the verge of doing a very big thing.

Roy's defeatism and bitterness isn't helping anything.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Navel Gazing

This post over at TPMCafe just strikes me as somewhat odd. As in, how can so many people have the same case of Amnesia about who said what when about war in Iraq?

Meanwhile, even though it seems the media (and those who write about them) might have forgotten, others have not:

Assertion doesn't always beat facts, but it happens a lot. For example, many of President Bush's detractors are saying that his argument for keeping troops in Iraq -- to achieve a democratic transformation -- is a new rationale meant to distract from the missing WMDs. The New York Times made that charge in an editorial on April 27. But it isn't true. Bush listed democratic transformation in Iraq as one of his aims before the war, as the Times acknowledged in an editorial on Feb. 27, 2003. Distilling the president's various arguments on Iraq down to the one on which a lot of people think they were snookered -- the WMDs -- is a distortion, but it accurately expresses a popular feeling, so who cares if it isn't so? Not the Times, apparently.

The emphasis is mine (access the Times editorial at the archives here). I find ideas about a media "skew towards Bush," to be downright laughable. But regardless, reporting about the Administration's case for war mirrored much of the general thought about Iraq--namely, that there were reasons to go after Sadaam. Foreign governments believed it, enough at the CIA believed it and of course the decision-makers at the cabinet-level believed it.

They didn't believe it on the strength of media's reporting...they believed it for the same reason that media reported it: most of the evidence pointed there.

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here