Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

David Freddoso on the Dems and drilling; BUMPED; Update II added -- Obama: Save gas; "inflate your tires"

David Freddoso writes over at National Review. He writes at the Corner, and he pens columns for them. Today he's got a timely piece on the Democrats and their obstruction on drilling and he's excited to see this unfold because he knows this is a serious election issue this year:

On September 30 — two months from today — the ban on fossil-fuel drilling off America’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and in the oil-shale fields of the West will expire. Democrats, who control both houses of Congress, must pass an appropriations bill extending the bans.

The onus, in other words, is on them. Democrats will likely propose a continuing resolution to extend funding for the government through the end of the calendar year without making major changes. This bill will certainly include a continuation of the drilling ban — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), a zealous opponent of offshore drilling since the 1980s, has resisted all attempts to change it.

Democrats are sufficiently committed to maintaining the ban that they could even be willing to force a government shutdown in September, or dare the Republicans to force one. But if Republicans are equally committed to increasing the domestic-energy supply, and President Bush is willing to use his veto pen, they have a golden opportunity.

This is the message of Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), who is urging the president and his congressional colleagues to take a risk and fight for drilling here at home. “If President Bush wants a domestic legacy, it has to be on this issue,” DeMint told National Review Online Tuesday. “This is the final few seconds of the game as far as his administration goes, and we’re down seven points. We can’t just keep running up the middle. It’s time to throw the Hail Mary.”

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that it would be premature to discuss the president’s position before Congress comes up with a concrete plan for appropriations bills. “It’s a hypothetical,” he said. “It’s too early to say what they’ll do.” Success will depend on President Bush’s willingness to fight. He left conservatives hanging recently by relenting on his threatened veto of the housing bailout. If he chooses a similar course of compromise with respect to drilling, he will have allowed congressional Democrats to continue their current approach of willful neglect of U.S. energy prices.

DeMint’s idea is just beginning to receive some discussion and attention on Capitol Hill, where his bombthrowing ways have not always endeared him to some important Republican colleagues. DeMint acknowledges that there are risks in forcing a showdown on energy policy, but that the battle would also be fought on the field where Republicans are most likely to win. “It is the only issue that could change the tide of this election, which is going against us right now,” he said.

Folks, this IS the election issue this year. It is the make-or-break issue for both sides. What's not surprising is that the Democrats, apparently, are too dense to realize that if they just gave in and committed to opening up the OCS that they'd put the stake through the heart of the GOP this election. Senator Schumer sent out a video plea a couple months ago, imploring donors to help him ensure a 57 seat majority in the Senate. If he wants that, then he better pull Harry Reid aside in one of the cloak rooms, and explain the situation to him.

"Listen Harry, we need to win in November, so pull your head out of your @$$ already."

At least, that's what I'd tell him, but he isn't listening. He doesn't want to listen. He and Nancy Pelosi -- the Democrat leaders in Congress -- are beholden to a radical environmental lobby. Those weenies don't want us drilling. They want us riding bicycles, living in dark, hot homes, and basically reverting back to the 1700s. Environmentalists have made a mountain out of a mole hill and they've based it all on lies and deception. Remember the crying Indian commercial back in 1971? I do because it was popular throughout the 1970s, and it helped spurn on the growing environmental movement. Since then, environmentalists have gotten more funding, and gotten much bolder in keeping Congress at the end of their puppet strings.

67% of Americans want Congress to lift the bans, increase domestic production, and bring down the price of oil and gas. T. Boone Pickens has recently been running ads on the radio about wind power; a noble effort, and a smart move towards alternative energy. But he's also called for drilling everywhere because, unlike the enviro-weenies and Democrats in congress, he understands that this nation -- the whole world -- runs on oil. He recently stated in an interview with Sean Hannity that government vehicles -- both state and federal ones -- should be retrofitted to run on natural gas, which would lower the demand for gasoline. The same goes for companies that deliver goods to people and stores, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Budweiser, etc. The average person can't afford to get a natural gas car, but the government and business can.

Ridding this nation of the ban would help move us in the right direction. It would help us become energy independent, which is something that John McCain made as the cornerstone of his campaign earlier this month. It is also the noose being closed around the necks of the Democrats right now. People are fed up with this obstruction on their behalf, and if the Democrats aren't careful it could cost them dearly in November. The GOP has picked up this football, and they're running with it. If the Democrats extend the ban, and refuse to listen to the electorate, the electorate will not be kind to them in the fall.

Publius II

ADDENDUM: Breaking over at NRO -- The Dems have shut down debate on drilling again -- Mark Hemingway reports:

A G.O.P. Press Release [emphasis mine]:

Do-Nothing Democrats Vote to Adjourn House of Representatives Without Taking Action to Lower Gas Prices

Putnam: "It's Time Democrats Put Their Boarding Passes Back in Their Pockets"

WASHINGTON – Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, issued the following statement shortly after the House of Representatives voted 213-212 – with no Republicans voting in the affirmative – to adjourn for five weeks in August and September without taking action to lower gas prices and break our dependence on foreign oil:

"The Democratic Congress should be held in contempt for voting to skip town without dealing with America's energy crisis.

"Democrats are out of touch, out of excuses, out of support and out of time. Americans are hurting. Independent polls show they overwhelmingly support House Republicans' all-of-the-above energy solutions.

"It's time Democrats put their boarding passes back in their pockets and get to work by voting on the American Energy Act."

The Democrats' obdurate obstinence on energy issues and gas prices is really going to hurt them if they don't wise up soon. Not taking action on this is a gift to Republicans up for election. They can now spend the next five weeks on the campaign trail railing against their opponents for not doing anything about gas prices.

That's the point I made this morning. If the Democrats want to play this game, then let's make sure they lose, that they're seriously hurt (politically; I'm not advocating violence), and that they learn the lesson of who is in charge of the nation. It's not them. We're in charge, and it's time they learned that, once and for all.

Publius II

ADDENDUM II: I just couldn't let this go. Our "savior" has an energy plan that is "snort-worthy." Captain Ed has the video (and the stunned silence of the crowd). Here's what he said:

There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy. Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!

Go watch the video. I'm not kidding. There were crickets chirping after he finished that statement, and nothing shows his lack of intelligence more than that statement. Captain Ed breaks it down:

Er, no it couldn’t. The Green River oil shale formation could produce at least 800 billion barrels of oil alone, enough for over 100 years at our current rate of consumption (20 million barrels per day). Would inflating our tires eliminate every single drop of oil we use? Of course not! Nor would it save any significant amount at all. Tire inflation could improve gas mileage by about 3%, which would relate to about 600,000 barrels of oil a day at the most absurdly optimistic extrapolation.

Maybe the Democrats could use a tune-up on energy policy. It looks like they’re still stuck in the 1970s, with tired, worn-out points and bad timing. On energy, Obama is your father’s 1973 Oldsmobile.

Geraghty the Indispensable tries to slap some sense into this empty-headed politician:

So it would indeed be nice if Americans pumped up their tires sufficiently, and we started seeing some of that 4.9 million to 6.5 million gallons saved per day. But why it has to be an either/or in regards to the 1.6 trillion gallons of gasoline in the OCS (not even getting into ANWR), as Obama insists, is not clear.

Only a fool could offer such a pathetic idea when the nation doesn't want drilling, just to increase our supply, but to become energy independent. Additionally, there is the idea that drilling and refining more oil -- putting it out on the open market -- will drive down oil prices to numbers much lower than what we had when President Bush came into office.

This is the point that the "Don't Drill Democrats" don't get, or could care less about. They scream and yell about alternative forms of energy (except nuclear, of course), and they miss the boat with the notion. NONE of the alternative energy today is economical for the average person, and the only one that makes sense for industry to convert to is natural gas. Wind, solar, electricity ... They're not economical for the average person whether it's in their vehicle or powering their home. The costs right now would simply be too much for the consumer. Drilling makes all the sense in the world, on so many levels, and Barack Obama and his colleagues just refuse to believe it, understand it, and are instructed by their enviro-weenie masters to ignore it.

Publius II

Dana Milbank -- Obama's hubris

There are many adjectives we've used to describe Barack Obama. Arrogant, effete, haughty, egotistical, and after reading through Dana Milbank's piece at the WaPo today we see that the press is beginning to see what we have seen. We doubt it'll do any good because the majority of the MSM is still in the tank for the guy. But, as Dana Milbank points out, some of the press -- be they journalists or columnists -- are starting to get turned off by his attitude:

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported last week that Obama has directed his staff to begin planning for his transition to the White House, causing Republicans to howl about premature drape measuring. Obama was even feeling confident enough to give British Prime Minister Gordon Brown some management advice over the weekend. "If what you're trying to do is micromanage and solve everything, then you end up being a dilettante," he advised the prime minister, portraying his relative inexperience much as President Bush did in 2000.

On his presidential-style visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem last week, Obama left a written prayer, intercepted by an Israeli newspaper, asking God to "help me guard against pride and despair." He seems to have the despair part under control, but the pride could be a problem.

One source of the confidence is the polling, which shows him with a big lead over McCain. But polls are fickle allies: A
USA Today-Gallup poll released Monday found McCain leading Obama by four percentage points among likely voters. Another reason for Obama's confidence -- the press -- is also an unfaithful partner. The Project for Excellence in Journalism reported yesterday that Obama dominated the news media's attention for a seventh straight week. But there are signs that the Obama campaign's arrogance has begun to anger reporters.

In the latest issue of the
New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was "acting like the Prom Queen" and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others." Then came Obama's overseas trip and the campaign's selection of which news organizations could come aboard. Among those excluded: the New Yorker magazine, which had just published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign.

Even Bush hasn't tried that. But then again, Obama has been outdoing the president in ruffles and flourishes lately. As Bush held quiet signing ceremonies in the White House yesterday morning, Obama was involved in a more visible display of executive authority a block away, when he met with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani at the Willard. A full block of F Street was shut down for the prime minister and the would-be president, and some 40 security and motorcade vehicles filled the street.

Later, Obama's aides issued an official-sounding statement, borrowing the language of White House communiques: "I had a productive and wide-ranging discussion. . . . I look forward to working with the democratically elected government of Pakistan."

It had been a long day of acting presidential, but Obama wasn't done. After a few hours huddling with advisers over his vice presidential choice, Obama made his way to the pep rally on the Hill. Moments after he entered the meeting with lawmakers, there was an extended cheer, followed by another, and another.

"I think this can be an incredible election," Obama said later. "I look forward to collaborating with everybody here to win the election."

Win the election? Didn't he do that already?

Ouch. Don't count on seeing Dana at any Obama pressers anytime soon, or sitting opposite any of his campaign staff on the talking heads shows. But his point is well-founded. Barack Obama is acting like he's already won the presidency, and that he is the president. The election, as far as he's concerned, is done. He won. The only formality that's left is his "coronation" in January.And if you think that the term "coronation" is over the top, keep in mind that what's quoted above is the SECOND half of Dana's piece. Read the first page, and you'll understand why I'm saying what I'm saying.

Hubris doesn't even begin to cover this man who is clearly buying the hype of the media. He did a great job getting them on his side (as if there were any doubt they wouldn't go along with him), and they've done a good job of carrying his water for him. But it's clear that some are content that the honeymoon is over.

Publius II

Senator Obama Will Bring Back Traditions?

A snort-worthy quote, to be sure:

Obama was waxing lyrical about last week's trip to Europe, when he concluded, according to the meeting attendee, "this is the moment, as Nancy [Pelosi] noted, that the world is waiting for."

The 200,000 souls who thronged to his speech in Berlin came not just for him, he told the enthralled audience of congressional representatives. "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions," he said, according to the source.

On Wednesday morning, House leadership aides pushed back against interpretations of this comment as self-aggrandizing, saying that when the presumptive Democratic nominee said, "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America," he was actually trying to deflect attention from himself.

No tape of the event exists and no one is denying the quote.

But one leadership aide said the full quote put it into a different context. According to that aide, Obama said, "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."

There is a disagreement about which way the quote was meant to be; whether he, himself, stated he was the symbol, or the latter explanation. But it matters not because we, once again, see the arrogance of this candidate. He believes, thanks to his campaign, that he has become a symbol. And people wonder why he is derisively referred to as the "Obamessiah." He acts like it. He has embraced the hype.

But I would like to issue a challenge to Senator Obama. If the quote is the former, and he is the symbol of returning to traditions, can he please name three of those traditions that have seemingly been lost that he will return to us? Inquiring minds would like to know. And Thomas adds that there can be no teleprompters when he expounds on those traditions.

See, Democrats for the last four-plus decades have had a tradition of being for a bigger, more intrusive government. They have stood for higher taxes. They have embraced the European socialism as a way to "change" the direction of this nation. (Reminder: the Founding Fathers escaped Europe because they wanted something more than an intrusive, oppressive government.)

No one cares what the Europeans think about Senator Obama. They will not be voting in our election. What matters is what we think, and we are content in the notion that his tour (which clearly has not received the bounce in the polls that his campaign expected) did not help him. The speech in Berlin threw this nation under the bus. The snub of the wounded soldiers at Landstuhl is not going over well. Finally, his arrogant response to the surge questions presented by Lora Logan and Katie Couric seemed to have backfired on him. What seems to have many of his supporters starting to think twice about him is the sheer haughtiness of his attitude, and the egotistical nature of his statements.

No one likes a snob, and that is now becoming apparent, especially within certain areas of the media.


TIME talks to Obama

I heard this on the morning show I listen to in Arizona. Barry Young runs the 8-10 AM show on KFYI, and his co-host brought this interview to his attention. Here's the money quotes for you:

Was there anything you saw on this trip that changed your mind? John McCain, as you know, is saying, "Well, he already knew what he was going to think before he got there."

Well, I thought John also suggested that I'm always changing my mind, so he's got to make up his mind about what he says about my mind.

But is there any area in which you really feel as if you've changed your mind?

Look, I feel as if I had a good grasp of the situation before I went. It confirmed a lot of my beliefs with respect to the issues. ...

Get that, folks? Remember what he touted his overseas trip as? He said it was a fact-finding trip. He wanted to see Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, France, and Britain. He wanted to meet with the leaders in those countries and see how things were going. He wanted to met the leaders so that he would be familiar with them for the next eight to ten years.

What we saw was it was a campaign rally. It wasn't a fact-finding trip at all. But the quotes above underscore Obama's arrogance. McCain pegged him perfectly. He did say that Obama already had his mind made up, and after he takes a swipe at McCain, he then tells TIME that McCain was right. He already had his mind made up.

Now this isn't exactly news, but it does show us something about Obama. Presidents may have preconceived notions and stances, but they shouldn't be set in concrete. There will be things that arise that they'll have to actually think about. Take, for example, President Bush. He didn't want to be a wartime president. He wanted his terms peaceful. But on 11 September he was forced to make a decision on how to react to those attacks. Now if his ideas of peace were concrete and unwavering, we never would have retaliated the way we did. He would've taken the Clinton route and fired cruise missiles to blow up terrorist camps.

What will Obama do if he's elected? He's already said that, knowing what he does know about the surge and it's success that he would've still voted against it. He says he'll listen to the commanders on the ground to determine a course of action, but then says he's committed to ending the operations in Iraq. He recognizes the energy problems we have right now, but refuses to budge on making us energy independent. What he says and what he believes seem to be two different things. And if he's elected, his preconceptions aren't going to help this nation move forward.

Publius II

CIA To Pakistan: Clean Up Your House

The Pakistanis have had a longtime thorn in their side with their own security agency. The ISI has been protecting and assisting the Taliban and al-Qaeda elements in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. We know this. Our soldiers have seen them assist the animals in cross-border raids. We have just about had enough of this, and CIA has basically put Pakistan on notice -- Clean up your house, or else:

The CIA has confronted senior Pakistani officials with evidence showing that members of the country's spy service have deepened their ties with some militant groups responsible for a surge of violence in Afghanistan, possibly including the suicide bombing this month of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, The New York Times reported.

A top CIA official traveled to Islamabad this month with new information about ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and militants operating in Pakistan's tribal areas, the newspaper said on its Web site late Tuesday. Its sources were American military and intelligence officials it did not identify.

The Times said the CIA assessment pointed to links between the ISI and the militant network led by Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of al-Qaida in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan despite long-standing concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The visit to Pakistan by the CIA official, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency's deputy director, was described by several American military and intelligence officials in interviews in recent days, the Times said. Some of those who were interviewed made clear that they welcomed the decision by the CIA to take a harder line toward the ISI's dealings with militant groups.

Pakistani forces have launched a new incursion into the Swat territory but we have seen this before. It is akin to lip service, and it usually falls apart thanks to the ISI, and rogue elements in Pakistan's military. They kill a few Taliban/al-Qaeda terrorists, and then they pull back.

This cannot continue to go on. The frustration that the Bush administration has with Pakistan is well-known and well-founded. We have seen them dawdle with the terrorists since they gave them refuge after our invasion in October 2001. When President Musharraf gave them "sanctuary" in Waziristan back in 2006, and in the peace agreement in March of 2008, it only emboldened the Taliban to not only ramp up efforts against US and NATO forces, but also against Pakistani forces. This thorn is not just one in our backside, but in President Musharraf's, as well.

Pakistani officials claim the rogue elements are not as widespread as the CIA claims, and that they have this under control. They had better hope so because the last thing they can afford to lose is our support because they will not deal with their problems. Additionally, the CIA has operatives in the Waziristan region that could easily be instructed to hunt down and kill the Taliban leaders. This, of course, would be a last resort, but it would not be outside the realm of possibilities we could initiate.


He Cannot Be Serious

A tip of the hat to Mr. Hewitt for this story out of Chicago. It seems that Senator Obama attended the UNITY conference in Chicago, and acknowledged this nation's dark, "tragic" past:

Sen. Barack Obama, speaking to a gathering of minority journalists yesterday, stopped short of endorsing an official U.S. apology to American Indians but said the country should acknowledge its history of poor treatment of certain ethnic groups.

"There's no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we've got some very sad and difficult things to account for," Obama told hundreds of attendees of UNITY '08, a convention of four minority journalism associations.

The Hawaii-born senator, who has told local reporters that he supports the federal recognition bill for native Hawaiians drafted by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, noted other ethnic groups but did not mention native Hawaiians when answering a question about his thoughts on a formal U.S. apology to American Indians.

"I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged," the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

"I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it's Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds."

Please tell us he is not serious about reparations. I know he did not say he supported giving reparations, but the subject is a lightning rod in politics, and it is due in no small part to people like John Conyers trying to bring up the subject in the Congress. See, there is a minority movement in the US to pay reparations for slavery despite the fact that it cannot be legally binding to begin with. Even if a descendant of a slave could be determined, the statute of limitations has far exceeded.

We understand that this nation has had a dark past. This includes African Americans, Native Americans, and even Japanese Americans. But let us not forget the Irish and Germans that came over here, and were immediately discriminated against because of their ethnicity. This is the central problem with have with Senator Obama playing the sympathy card. If you are going to play it for one or two groups, be prepared to play it for all because we did not just mistreat one or two groups here. We did not treat a lot of people well in the past.

But, that was in the past, and that is where the history belongs. It need not be brought back up now because there is little we can do other than offer up an apology. And no offense, I think we have apologized enough for what this nation did in it's past.


Monday, July 28, 2008

The Central Election Issue

Last year, the war was foremost on people's minds for this upcoming election. Their side wanted it over with, and happily jumped on the bandwagon of Senator Obama who had stated he would end the war in Iraq. (Hint, senator, Iraq is not a "war." It is a theater of operations.) Our side did not want to leave Iraq, and allow it to fall to the jihadists. With the success in Iraq on the heels of the surge, the war has been moved to the back burner. Today, the WaPo touches on the issue that could very well bring us victory this year:

Four-dollar-a-gallon gas has done something that few Republicans thought possible just a few months ago: given them hope.

United behind a renewed push for offshore oil drilling, Republican members of Congress and the party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, think they have found their best political issue of the 2008 campaign.

McCain strategists and GOP leaders on Capitol Hill say the issue, which polls suggest Americans favor by healthy margins, lets Republicans demonstrate their plans to address the anger over high gas prices as well as the broader economic distress that many voters feel.

Because most Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama, are opposed to increased drilling, McCain and the GOP have already begun casting their rivals as unconcerned about gas prices and unwilling to wean the country from foreign oil.

"The failure of Senator Obama to understand the need to increase domestic production is just stunning, and that's going to be a real hurdle for him to overcome, because everybody gets it," said Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior McCain adviser.

This can be the issue that could seriously hurt the Democrats this year provided that the Democrats continue to obstruct the issue, and offer up foolish ideas such as dipping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. The only thing that could change this is if enough moderate Democrats raise a stink and force the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Recall, if you will, the temper tantrum Senator Reid threw last week over being defeated on the oil speculator bill he proposed. The Democrats simply do not care about becoming energy independent, and increasing our domestic supply. They want us in dark homes with no AC or heat, and still beholden to those nations abroad that do not like us.

The moderate Democrats pose the first of two problems. If they push hard enough, and Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid cave, the issue will be off the table. The other problem that the WaPo notes, is if there is a serious accident. They talk about a "massive" spill that occurred on the Mississippi River last week. The problem is that was a tanker colliding with a barge, and the spill was not nearly as massive as the WaPo breathlessly reports. Furthermore, we have not had a serious spill since the Exxon Valdez hit the Prince William Reef back in 1989. Technology has improved greatly, and the risk of such a spill of that magnitude is slim nowadays.

This is, indeed, the issue that could hurt the Democrats seriously this year. Americans, literally, vote with their wallets. As long as gas prices are as high as they are, this is going to be a wedge issue that the Democrats will have to deal with, and they will not be able to spin it away with inanity like "use the leased land you already have or risk losing it" as Speaker Pelosi infamously stated a couple weeks ago. Memo to Madame Pelosi -- if there was any oil there, we are pretty sure the oil companies would be pumping out of the ground. Obviously, those wells are dry. It is time to expand drilling to the OCS, and add more wells to the interior of the nation, including drilling in ANWR.

Until Democrats wake up and get the hint, this issue could literally be the noose they are hung by when November comes around.


Thank God I Am Not An Olympian

I would have loved to make it on an Olympic swimming team but my schooling was more important to me than winning an Olympic medal. My stint swimming on teams ended when I graduated high school.

But take a look at that picture. If you did not know better, you would swear that is either smoke-filled air from California (from wildfires), or that it was some sort of heavy rain shower. But it is not. That is Beijing, and it is not inclement weather. It is smog:

The area where the games will take place failed the government's own smog targets, even as officials opened the Olympic Village with great fanfare.

The air was "unhealthy for sensitive groups," the city's environmental protection bureau said.

The official targets are themselves much looser than those considered "safe" by the World Health Organisation.

"It doesn't really look so good," said Gunilla Lindberg, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

"The day I arrived, Tuesday, was awful. We try to be hopeful. Hopefully we are lucky during the games as we were with Atlanta, Athens and Barcelona."

Partly because of the pollution, several national teams are conducting their final preparations away from Beijing, including the British. But other athletes have begun arriving at the Olympic Village.

From this complex, the main stadia were invisible, thanks to the city's haze.

They are hoping that the winds will come soon, which is a staple of their weather patterns in July, but without it the smog will still be there. And forget being "unhealthy for sensitive groups," that crap in the air is unhealthy for ANY group. Imagine the long distance runners and swimmers having to perform in this pea-soup smog.

Only God knows why the IOC awarded the games to Beijing. They have had nothing but problems since getting them. They were behind in the construction of the Olympic village and stadium. Then there was the clashes with Tibetan monks and the Dalai Lama. The torch relay has been dogged constantly by protesters attempting to extinguish the flame. And now they have smog problems.

We could not believe it when the IOC announced that Beijing had won the games. Obviously the IOC did not care about their abysmal human rights record, nor did they care about the lack of environmental quality. While I may only swim for exercise now, it does not change the fact that if this smog continues as it is, the athletes will not be happy about it.


UPDATE: A tip of the hat to JammieWearingFool for the link to Doug Ross. Mr. Ross has a bevy of photos showing what it is like in China on a semi-regular basis. (Check out the last photo from space showing what China looks like.) And I should also note that Jammie links to a report from the IOC claiming that the air quality there meets with 2005 guidelines. Bravo-Sierra. Those photos show a number of Chinese people wearing masks to filter out the digusting air. If I were an athlete on the US Olympic swimming team, I would remove myself from the roster. Winning a medal is not worth any possible health problems down the road.

Another One Bites The Dust

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan are learning that they are not missile-proof, and that they are vulnerable if we find out where they are. That appears to be the plight of Abu Khabab al-Masri, who was sent to his eternal reward via a Predator drone:

Al-Qaeda chemical weapons expert Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar was believed to have been killed Monday in a suspected US missile strike in Pakistan, security officials told AFP.

"We believe he was killed in this strike," a senior intelligence official based in the northwestern city of Peshawar told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"It was his hide-out and information that has been shared with us says he was targeted in this strike," the official said.

The Egyptian, 54, also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri, had a five-million-US-dollar bounty on his head and allegedly ran terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.

For those who do not recall who this man is, back in 2002 we discovered raining tapes made by al-Qaeda, and al-Masri was in one where he was showing dogs that they used chemical weapons on. The video was beyond disgusting, and only a heartless animal would take as much glee in making such a tape as al-Masri did. That tape sent a clear message to the world that al-Qaeda wanted more than just Kalishnikovs, RPGs, and bomb vests. They were looking for newer, deadlier weapons to use in their jihad.

It we either utilized five million dollars in intelligence, or paid an informant five million, it was well spent to remove this piece of garbage from the face of the planet.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whine, Whine, Whine

While I was zipping through the blogosphere today I came across this post at The Other McCain which addresses this story in the New York Times about female bloggers who are whining about their place in the blogosphere. These women believe they have hit the proverbial glass ceiling:

Blogging has come a long way from its modest beginnings. These days, there is money to be made, fame to be earned and influence to be gained. And though women and men are creating blogs in roughly equal numbers, many women at the conference were becoming very Katie Couric about their belief that they are not taken as seriously as their male counterparts at, say, Daily Kos, a political blog site. Nor, they said, were they making much money, even though corporations seem to be making money from them. ...

A study conducted by BlogHer and Compass Partners last year found that 36 million women participate in the blogosphere each week, and 15 million of them have their own blogs. (BlogHer, which was founded by Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, has itself grown into a mini empire that includes a Web site that helps publicize women’s blogs, and an advertising network to help women generate revenue for the site.)

Yet, when
Techcult, a technology Web site, recently listed its top 100 Web celebrities, only 11 of them were women. Last year, Forbes.com ran a similar list, naming 3 women on its list of 25. ...

At the seminar “How to Take Names and Be Taken Seriously as a Political Blogger,” many women said that their male colleagues and major media groups tended to ignore them, and to link to them less often (unless they are Arianna Huffington). They pointed to the Netroots Nation gathering (formerly known as Yearly Kos) for politically progressive bloggers, occurring that same weekend in Austin, Tex. ...

Other prominent female bloggers who did not attend the BlogHer conference agreed that there are unique challenges that women in the blogosphere face. “Women get dismissed in ways that men don’t,” said Megan McArdle, an associate editor at The Atlantic Monthly who writes a blog about economic issues. She added that women are taught not to be aggressive and analytical in the way that the political blogosphere demands, and are more likely to receive blog comments on how they look, rather than what they say. ...

First, I will remind readers that I am the only female that is here now. Sabrina, our lovely partner from Chicago has moved on, and returned back to work at her law firm after beating breast cancer. And, I would not be blogging if it were not for my husband, Thomas. As for the comments, we receive few on the site, and much more in e-mails. And no, they are not commenting on my looks (there is a reason there is no picture of me up on our site; I am already taken, guys).

I believe it is farcical to say that women bloggers are counseled not to be aggressive in the realm of politics. I am quite aggressive and analytical in my view of politics and current events; so much so that the e-mails rolled in when I announced I was going on sabbatical during my first year in law school. I did miss being here everyday for readers, but Thomas has done a phenomenal job keeping the site going in my absence. (School is soon to start, and I will gauge my participation while going through my second year of law school. If it is as hectic as Year One was, then Thomas will be taking the reins of the site.)

I dislike hearing this whine from women. I also agree with Robert @ The Other McCain:

Ladies, please: If your blog sucks, it's not because of some patriarchal conspiracy, OK? And as for making money, you could almost certainly fit into my living room every independent blogger who earns a full-time living off blogging. Generally speaking, bloggers either have some other job to support their blogging habit, or else they're "blogging for the man" (e.g., the Atlantic Monthly bloggers, the Gawker cartel, etc.).

Like almost every fad from hula hoops to CB radio, there seem to be a lot of people who think that this latest gadget is going to be their Ralph Kramden get-rich-quick ticket. Well, OK, fine -- the American Dream and all that. But it's wrong to turn that dream around and claim that because you're not getting rich online, therefore you are a victim who's somehow been cheated out of her just reward.

For the record, take a look around our site. Notice anything? If you asked "where are the blogads?" congratulations. There are none on our site because we did not start this to make money. We have jobs for income. Blogging is fun, and it is a passion Thomas and I share. If we wanted to make money off of this, we would have taken steps to achieve that goal. Vox Day offers some advice for these whiners:

If a female blogger wants to be taken seriously, it's not at all difficult:

1. Have at least half a brain and demonstrate that it actually functions by not writing egregiously stupid stuff.

2. At least 75 percent of your posts should have nothing to do with you or your life.

3. Don't post a picture or talk about your romantic life, your children or your pets.

4. Don't threaten to quit blogging every time anyone criticizes you.

5. Learn how to defend your positions with facts and logic instead of passive-aggressive parthian shots fired off as you run away.

The reality is that most female bloggers aren't taken seriously because they don't merit it. They market themselves based on their physical appearance because it attracts attention, then they are surprised when they are judged on that appearance and belittled for relying upon it. There are definitely good female bloggers out there - Rachel Lucas and Dr. Helen are my two favorites - and it's no accident that neither of them are whiners like these ridiculous women, whose blogs are no doubt full of the female litany of complaints that are such music to the average man's ears.

We should also take note of other, very successful female bloggers like Michelle Malkin, Ann Althouse, and Jennifer Rubin @ Commentary Magazine's "Contentions" blog. These three women are very successful, and they did not build that success on their looks. They built it on their knowledge and wisdom. Aggressive as Hell, contentious at times, but nonetheless talented in their own right; these women are not whining. Neither is Rachel Lucas or Dr. Helen. And I am hardly whining about recognition in the blogosphere.

The lesson that should have been taken from the BlogHer conference is that with hard work and tenacity, women can succeed just as well as men do in the blogosphere. Instead, the conference sounds more like a victim fest, which will not make blog readers consider checking these women out.

Ladies, how about some nice cheese with that whine? (A tip of the hat to Professor Glenn Reynolds for the cheese link.)


Snubbing The Troops At Landstuhl

Senator Obama made a serious misstep this past week while on his "Magical Mystery Tour" through Germany. He had a planned visit to Landstuhl and Rammstein to visit wounded soldiers that he cancelled at the last moment, apparently:

++ Visit to US Military Bases Cancelled ++
1:42 p.m.: SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that Obama has cancelled a planned short visit to the Rammstein and Landstuhl US military bases in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The visits were planned for Friday. "Barack Obama will not be coming to us," a spokesperson for the US military hospital in Landstuhl announced. "I don't know why." Shortly before the same spokeswoman had announced a planned visit by Obama.

The reason why was quite simple. He could not use it as a PR stunt for his tour. His campaign complained that the Pentagon was changing the rules on them at the last moment, which was not true. Any photo-op with the troops would have been handled by military photographers, not his campaign staff. The Pentagon has always maintained this rule so as to not have the wounded troops treated like campaign props. It is respecting their dignity and service. It really does speak a great deal about his arrogance and his judgment.

See, he could have easily visited them, with the other congressman in his entourage, but he opted out because he could not use the visit as some sort of a campaign photo-op. This is all Senator Obama's fault for bad judgment, and no amount of whining from his campaign staff is going to change that.

Today, in an interview with George Stephanopolous, John McCain hammered Senator Obama on this misstep:

In Landstuhl, Germany, when I went through, I visited the hospital. But the important thing is that, if I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event. And so, I believe he had the opportunity to go without the media. And I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

And we would have expected nothing less from Senator McCain when it comes to him describing his reaction had he been told he could not visit the troops. The difference is that Senator McCain knows the rules when it comes to such visits. We sincerely doubt he would try to turn a visit with wounded soldiers into a campaign PR stunt.

Captain Ed Morrissey points out another person who feels much the same way we do, and as John McCain does. He is Lt. Col. Joe Repya, who went back into the military at age 50 to serve in Iraq:

The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform. Barack Obama had scheduled a visit with wounded American troops who have served with honor and distinction in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next. Several explanations were offered, none was convincing and each was at odds with the statements of American military leaders in Germany and Washington. For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks. Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn’t be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes.

This goes directly to Senator Obama's maturity, and his integrity. He broke his word, and all because he could not get his way. This man wishes to be the president of the United States, and he shows a significant lack of judgment, a lack of humility, and he has an over-reaching ambition that is too dangerous to be in that particular office. His arrogance in believing he was the president on this tour is positively disgusting. He has yet to win the election (and we believe he will lose badly in November), but that is not stopping the man who thinks he is the second coming.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Truth in advertising, or will the media report on the concert beforehand?

While Fridays are always welcomed by us, we have an equal amount of disdain for it because it's the worst day of the week for news. Not much comes out, and most of the news -- unless it's a bombshell -- will go down the memory hole. And speaking of memory holes, we noticed that no mainstream press outlet covering Obma's "magical mystery tour" took note of the bombshell NewsBusters reported on yesterday:

Remember back in May when media gushed and fawned over a huge crowd in Portland, Oregon -- supposedly gathered to hear the words of Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama -- but chose not to report the free concert given before his speech?

Well, it has been learned that before the presumptive Democrat nominee spoke to a crowd in Berlin Thursday, two popular German acts -- reggae artist Patrice and rock band Reamonn -- entertained the gathering audience.

Will media report this tonight, or just gush and fawn over the huge crowd again?

While you ponder, here's what was
reported by Spiegel Online moments ago (h/t Hot Air and Gateway):

++ Pop Concert for Obama Fans ++

6:33 p.m.: The tens of thousands of Obama fans are being entertained as they await the senator. The reggae musician Patrice kicked things off, followed by the rock band Reamonn.

The crowd in Portland numbered 75,000. Estimates in Berlin supposedly rounded out at 200,000. But these people were treated to a free concert, and there were concession stands out there for them. So, will the media even acknowledge this fact? Of course not. Will they acknowledge that this was, in fact, a campaign tour? There are a few images of what his people put up at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem complete with an image of Obama wearing a kippah while at the Wall. And, there are the flyers that were distributed that advertised his much-touted speech in Berlin.

We said this at the beginning of this tour, and we stand by it now. This tour was meant for one thing only: It was to show him as presidential, and nothing more. It's an attempt to influence voters here. "Look at how the world loves Barack." Yeah, yeah. But despite his "citizen of the world" throwaway line, he's missing an important point, and that is Germans, French, English, Iraqis, Jordanians, and Afghanis aren't going to vote in our election. And while they may be friendly to us, who we should choose to be the next president isn't an opinion we really care about coming from them. It should also be noted that the "bounce" that many outlets are talking about with relation to this trip is negligible, at best, and that more than just a few "bitter" people in America weren't pleased with his speech yesterday.

Publius II

Throwing Down The Gauntlet And Keeping Their Word

Yesterday it was reported that the Senate GOP handed Harry Reid an ultimatum: revoke the congressional ban on offshore drilling, expand the drilling in the OCS, or face filibuster after filibuster. In essence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has had enough of Harry Reid's fecklessness, and he has decided to play hardball.

This morning the Democrats tried to push through a bill against oil speculators, which failed miserably:

U.S. legislation to rein in excessive energy speculation failed a key procedural vote on Friday to move forward in the Senate, and now lawmakers will set aside the bill to consider other legislation.

The House of Representatives may take up its own anti-speculation bill next week, and then lawmakers will get ready to leave for their month-long recess in August.

Sixty "yes" votes were required in the 100-member Senate for the bill to move forward, but the measure received only 50 "yes" votes and 43 lawmakers were opposed.

Senate Democrats said the legislation was needed to give the government new powers to curb speculators, whom many lawmakers accused of being behind the run-up in crude oil and gasoline prices.

Senate Republicans strongly opposed the speculation bill, arguing the legislation should be modified to also boost U.S. oil production by allowing more offshore drilling and developing vast oil shale fields in the West.

The GOP has dared the Democrats to ignore the electorate, and in doing so they are focusing on the number one issue this election. While oil prices have gone down -- dropping $20 in two weeks, and all due to the president lifting the executive ban on drilling and exploration -- they are still too high, and need to be lowered. The Democrats could guarantee themselves obstruction-free majorities in the fall if they would heed the will of the people. But they are simply too beholden to the radical environmental lobby to think that clearly.

Captain Ed Morrissey adds a bit of humor to this. What happens when Harry Reid does not get his way? He acts like a petulant brat, and lashes out at the press in a typical mean and nasty fashion:

At a "pen and pad" — a more casual, off-camera chat with reporters — Reid attacked and scolded correspondents in attendance, telling them he's "really disappointed" in how they have been writing his energy plans, which include a bill to reign in speculation in the energy futures markets.

According to two Senate Democratic aides, Reid and other Democratic leaders were particularly stung by an article Thursday in The New York Times. It followed on several other reports that have highlighted Democrats' attempts to fend off defections from their ranks to GOP-sponsored amendments, measures that would permit new drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf and in the West for oil shale.

Democrats have been hard-pressed not to join such measures with oil and gas prices at record levels. ...

Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., told reporters in a separate off-camera briefing that Reid is "incorrect. If he actually said that, there's a misunderstanding."

Kyl said it was "very clear" to him that only two amendments would be permitted for Republicans, which is leading to a complete breakdown of floor action on the Reid bill.

Kyl pointed to a speech this morning by the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, who echoed Reid's position that two amendments would be offered to Republicans on this energy debate.

Reporters tried to pin Reid down Thursday on the amendment issue.

In the exchange, Reid told one reporter she should "watch the [Senate] floor more often. ... You might learn something."

Another reporter explained she had watched the Senate proceedings and said it was not clear he was ... offering separate amendments, to which Reid asked the reporter if she "spoke English."

"Turn up your Miracle Ear," Reid added.

This is the Senate Majority Leader. You stay classy, Harry.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When Will Harry Throw T. Boone Pickens Under The Bus?

We all know who T. Boone Pickens is. He has been running a high-octane ad campaign in favor of wind power in the United States, and he testified before Congress on the subject of alternative energy means. He is correct that the US must lead the way in the construction of alternative sources of energy, but it is not for the reason that so many believe it to be. No, rather than being about the environment, it is more about national security and energy independence.

Now Harry Reid had glowing comments about Mr. Pickens, but that was before these soundbites aired last night on CNN's Situation Room:

PICKENS: We continue to drift like we're drifting, you're going to be importing 80 percent of your oil. And I -- I promise you, it will be over $300 a barrel.

KEILAR: Pickens' solution? Wind energy captured by giant turbines from Texas to Canada. He says they could supply up to 80 percent of the nation's electricity and free up the natural gas currently used to produce electricity, and use it for cars and public transit instead. In 10 years, Pickens says dependence on foreign oil would drop by 38 percent, and that's just the beginning. By 2050, he says renewable sources of energy would replace fossil fuels. Pickens pitched his plan with Congress deeply divided along party lines over the solution to high gas prices. Democrats are pointing to him to rebut Republican calls for drilling on protected lands.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Here is a man who was my mortal enemy, and he's my pal now. T. Boone Pickens has made a fortune in oil. He's a rich man because of oil. And he said, it's no longer there. We need to move to alternative energy.

KEILAR: But Pickens is an unlikely ally for Democrats. He says he will vote for John McCain. In 2004, he contributed at least $1 million to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat campaign. And, while he agrees with Democrats that domestic drilling won't solve the energy crisis, he says it would help in the short term.

PICKENS: Offshore, OCS drilling, ANWR drilling, yes, all of it. I want to get off of foreign oil.

Read it and weep, Senator Reid. Yes, he does want wind power. He wants any sort of sensible alternative energy sources. BUT, he realizes that our dependency on foreign oil and foreign natural gas will be this nation's undoing. He refers to those who sell us the bulk of our oil as enemies, and he is correct. We need to drill; drill here, drill now, and make this nation energy independent. The future is now, and it is high time Congress pays attention and acts responsibly.


Andrea Mitchell on Obama's "fake" interviews

We heard about this soundbite on Chris Matthews' Hardball yesterday, but couldn't find the video. Captain Ed did find it, and posted it the very bottom of this piece. The point that Andrea Mitchell makes is that in Afghanistan and/or Iraq the presser and interviews Obama claims to have had weren't real. They weren't with journalists, so they seem staged, at best: (Emphasis -- Captain Ed.)

MITCHELL: Let me just say something about the message management. He didn’t have reporters with him, he didn’t have a press pool, he didn’t do a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you’re seeing is not reporters brought in. You’re seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they’re not interviews from a journalist. So, there’s a real press issue here. Politically it’s smart as can be. But we’ve not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about access to the troops, Andrea. A lot of African-American faces over there, very happy, delighted faces. Is that a representation of the percentage of service people who are African-American, or did they all choose to join someone they like, apparently? What’s the story?

MITCHELL: I can’t really say that. Being a reporter who was not present in any of those situations, I just cannot report on what was edited out, what was, you know, on the sidelines. That’s my issue. We don’t know what we are seeing.

Here is the point we think she was making here. Obama claims to be a "new politician." He vowed transparency for the nation, and he's not giving it. He has kept himself from the press, for the most part, in an effort to minimize the gaffes he's made.

Katie Couric's interview with him last night had a couple of hard-hitting moments, but for the most part it was pap. She hammered him pretty hard on the issue of his opinion about the surge and whether or not it's true he would stick by his guns, and stand in opposition to it today. You can clearly tell from the video (You can view the clip here at Hot Air and you can view some of the questions she asked of him there, too) that he gets flustered at her repeated questions to him regarding the surge, the security issue in Iraq, and whether it's really a smart things to "take our eye off the ball in Iraq" and focus on Afghanistan.

But, back to Andrea Mitchell, the only press time he's giving anyone in the media are the ones he's basically scheduled with them. There's no time for off-the-cuff moments. (No doubt in response to this montage assembled by Rush Limbaugh's team of the stuttering fool. BTW, you must be a subscriber to hear the entire 8 minute long montage.)

Folks, he doesn't speak well in front of people when he doesn't have prepared remarks, a memorized speech, or a teleprompter. In the video at Hot Air it shows him shooting hoops with black troops (for the most part) in Iraq. He can hang with the guys and girls because they're not going to ask him specifics. This is a visit from a politician, and one that is running for president. They're psyched, regardless. But no one asked him to explain his timetable idea for Iraq, or asked him about his ideas regarding taxation or federal court justices. They probably asked him how the campaign was going, how his family was, and maybe even who he was thinking of for veep. (I can only speculate on that because the video of the hoops shooting has no audio.)

Ms. Mitchell's point is noted, and it's a shame that Captain Ed and others had to dig up the video from other places, like Breitbart, and not on MSNBC's website. I wonder about that. Is that because MSNBC might be a tad embarrassed at having this pointed out to them? Where's the tingle now, Chris?

Publius II

Economy Improves, Oil Prices Drop

What an amazing accomplishment. Investors and speculators have reacted in ways that the Congress has been slow to acknowledge, but as oil prices have dropped $20 in two weeks world financial markets have started to balance themselves out:

Oil prices headed back lower Wednesday, failing to sustain a brief push into positive territory, after the government reported gasoline supplies rose far more than expected.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery was trading down 98 cents at $127.44 a barrel by early afternoon on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after earlier swaying between modest gains and even bigger losses. The August contract expired Tuesday at $127.95.

The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reported that crude inventories fell by 1.6 million barrels in the week ended July 18, slightly less than analysts surveyed by energy research firm Platts predicted.

Perhaps more significant was the 2.9 million barrel jump in gasoline stockpiles. Analysts had expected an increase of only half a million.

The report also provided further evidence that cash-strapped Americans are cutting back on fuel. Demand for gasoline over the four weeks ended July 18 was 2.4 percent lower than a year earlier, averaging more than 9.3 million barrels a day.

None of those figures gave traders, who have swung to selling mode in recent days, reason to turn sharply bullish just yet.

"The market appears heavily concentrated on demand numbers all of a sudden," said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Ritterbusch and Associates.

"These numbers continue to show big-time depreciation in gasoline demand."

As I explained back on the 16th, with a drop in oil prices we will begin to see our markets start to balance out a bit. The stock market, while it still remains fairly rocky, continues to rise almost daily as oil prices drop. The price at the pump is also taking a noticeable dip. And while many Americans are still being frugal with their gasoline purchases, the dip in the price is a welcome relief to many who foolishly predicted $5 a gallon gasoline by the end of summer. (That, of course, could still happen, but it is dependent on the situation in the Middle East, and pressure that is being ramped up against Iran.)

So what is the cause for this? While the doddering old fools in Congress continue to refer to it as a "hoax" the president's lifting of the executive ban on drilling has much to do with the drop in the price of oil. All we have to do now is apply the right amount of pressure to Congress to get them to see that drilling now will help us out. The notion they keep pushing that we would not be able to get any oil out of the ground for up to ten years is a fallacy. We have heard a number of people who work in the oil industry -- not the execs, but rather the men who work on the actual drilling and exploration -- that drilling and pumping can begin within a matter of months, not years.

This is an election issue that neither side can afford to ignore. The Democrats refuse to listen because they are beholden to their environmental lobby. John McCain switched his position because of how quickly oil prices were rising, and the impact it was having with Americans at the pump. That is not a flip-flop. That is reevaluating a position in light of new evidence. He is right. The Republicans in Congress are right. The time to drill is now, and end our energy dependence on foreign providers. Yes, in the process of drilling we should work towards new and alternative forms of energy, but until one that is prudent and economical is developed, we need the oil. This nation runs on oil. Not just the people who drive to work everyday, but the industry that handles construction, that handles the delivery of goods, those that provide us services -- these people need oil as much as we do.


The WaPo Hoists Senator Obama Up

Mild rebuke, or a lecture vaguely reminiscent of some of his own? We will let the readers decide, but the WaPo editorial board makes no bones about the fact that Senator Obama's statements on Iraq while in Iraq will not work to help his campaign on this issue:

THE INITIAL MEDIA coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Iraq suggested that the Democratic candidate found agreement with his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces on a 16-month timetable. So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama's own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq's principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the architect of the dramatic turnaround in U.S. fortunes, "does not want a timetable," Mr. Obama reported with welcome candor during a news conference yesterday. In an interview with ABC, he explained that "there are deep concerns about . . . a timetable that doesn't take into account what [American commanders] anticipate might be some sort of change in conditions."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki's timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama's. More significant, it would be "a timetable which Iraqis set" -- not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki "wants some flexibility in terms of how that's carried out."

Is everyone in the media paying attention? We certainly hope so seeing as how they perpetuated the myth that Prime Minister al-Maliki was on board with Senator Obama's insane idea of withdrawing all combat troops and their equipment out of Iraq in sixteen months. The commanders on the ground have repeatedly said that is not a realistic possibility just on the logistics involved alone. But the media was quick to jump on the misconstrued quote out of Der Spiegel. In doing so, they are the ones with egg all over their face. Recall, please, that Senator Obama had his sit down with General Petraeus yesterday, and emerged from that meeting with the opinion that the general knows not of what he speaks. In essence, the soundbite was basically "I do not believe him."

Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq's rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.

Mr. Obama's response is that, as president, he would have to weigh Iraq's needs against those of Afghanistan and the U.S. economy. He says that because Iraq is "a distraction" from more important problems, U.S. resources devoted to it must be curtailed. Yet he also says his aim is to "succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future." What if Gen. Petraeus and Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough -- or will the strategy be altered?

You can bet that as long as Iraq is a "distraction," a "President" Obama would work quickly to throw that country under the bus. It is a classic waffle on his part to say he would not be willing to continue funding the continued efforts to stabilize and prepare Iraq for full sovereignty, but then in the same breath claim that he wants to make sure they can stand on their own. They will not be able to do that if we abandon them. While al-Qaeda is most assuredly on its last leg in Iraq, and many are fleeing for countries like Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Iran, to leave abruptly will only invite that element back into the nation. We provide the stabilizing posture there. If it were not for us and our outreach to the tribal elements, the Sons of Iraq and the Anbar Awakening might never have happened. The nation would have devolved into a constant state of sectarian civil war. Anyone who has read the dispatches from Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, or Michael Totten know this. They know what we went through to stave off all-out civil war; a civil war, we add, that was fomented by al-Qaeda.

Arguably, Mr. Obama has given himself the flexibility to adopt either course. Yesterday he denied being "so rigid and stubborn that I ignore anything that happens during the course of the 16 months," though this would be more reassuring if Mr. Obama were not rigidly and stubbornly maintaining his opposition to the successful "surge" of the past 16 months. He also pointed out that he had "deliberately avoided providing a particular number" for the residual force of Americans he says would be left behind.

This is, perhaps, his biggest blunder on this trip, or at the very least his biggest one on this particular leg. While he admits that the "surge" has worked, he steadfastly stands by his decision to oppose it, and if given the chance to do the vote over again, he would oppose it again. This is his biggest blindspot. He knows it worked, but he still stands in opposition to it. Iraq is in the strategic center of the Middle East. It is the proverbial lynchpin to the region. Add in it's oil reserves, which are helping to stabilize their economy, and you have a country that we cannot afford to lose to extremism. Senator Obama's plans for Iraq would jeopardize all for which has been fought for.

Yet Mr. Obama's account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is "the central front" for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country's strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world's largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama's antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.

Afghanistan is indeed becoming more violent. That is due, in no small part, to the fact that the Pakistanis are either reluctant to engage the Taliban presence in the tribal regions of Waziristan, or they have elements that directly undermine their efforts. The Pakistani intelligence serves -- the ISI -- has been accused of aiding Taliban elements, and while they vehemently deny this, the Predator strike carried out just a couple short weeks ago killed Pakistani military/intelligence personnel that were helping the Taliban in a cross-border raid. But without permission from Pakistan we cannot simply cross over and take out those bases. We are allowed to pursue and engage those hostile to our forces on the Afghanistan side of the border, but once they go into Pakistan, the best we can do is send a Predator after them.

We must stop at the dividing line.

We have already "surged" in Afghanistan. There is not much more we can do with the military there. Senator Obama's "rigid" stance that Pakistan could be invaded to end the threat is beyond insane. It is a neophyte's view that reveals a lack of understanding when it comes to geopolitics. It would be far better to have talks with the Musharraf government to see what is needed to end the Taliban's threat to both Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In that region, we face a virtual "two-front" war. We have the cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, and we have the problems the Musharraf government is facing with the Taliban in their country.

Senator Obama would be wise to learn more and speak less until he has the facts. Simple campaign sloganeering will not bring us a solution to these sticky issues. We need someone who understands and recognizes what needs to be done, and in an intelligent fashion. Needless to say, that does not appear to be in Senator Obama's repertoire.


Is "The Dark Knight" Conservative?

I decided to start us off a little lighter than usual today, and in Kyle Smith's review of "The Dark Knight" for Pajamas Media it seems fairly light enough, but his point is well taken:

There is no pretending necessary to fear the Joker (Heath Ledger, in a role that is already a screen landmark). It is said of the Joker that “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

How to deal with such a figure? There is no easy answer, and here is where The Dark Knight strikes me as a conservative movie.

Liberals live in a world of “and.” Full security and full civil liberties. Universal health care and the best quality with no waiting. A dynamic economy and full welfare and unemployment benefits. Liberals, in other words, live in that scene in Spider-Man in which Spidey, forced to choose between saving a tram car full of innocent civilians and saving his girlfriend, chooses both. Liberals live in a fantasy.

Conservatives, though, live in a world of tradeoffs, of either/or. For having this relationship with reality, conservatives are caricatured as grumpy, stingy and negative. Surely all it takes is a bump in taxes on the wealthy and everything will be affordable? Where’s the Hope? Where’s the Dream? Yes, we can!

The Dark Knight lives on a razor edge of tradeoffs. In the coin flips of Harvey “Two-Face” Dent there is a message that not only can’t you choose both heads and tails, but sometimes you’re up against a trick coin that ensures you lose either way.

As Thomas and I watched this movie this past weekend, there were times where we felt like we were watching a car crash in slow motion. It is a cinematic masterpiece with outstanding performances by all involved. But the underlying message. Mr. Smith points out earlier in his piece that the "Spider Man" franchise is the very essence of liberalism; it is the epitome of "and." But in "The Dark Knight" there are gritty decisions that have to be made, and none of them are ever as easy as one thinks.

The Joker is pure chaos, and he becomes the one thing that has Batman beyond concerned. There is a point in the movie where he demands that Batman turn himself in, or he will kill people everyday until he does. Not an easy choice for the hero because he knows that in turning himself in, he will most assuredly be killed, and the Joker's reign of terror over Gotham City will not cease.

For Batman, it is always an "either/or" choice. There are never any easy answers. This is what makes Batman inevitably conservative. Liberals fail to understand that you cannot have everything. There is no "this and that." That is utopian, and impossible to achieve without disenfranchising others. In Batman's world, he understands there will always be the haves and the have nots. No one said life was fair, but he tries to make it as equitable as possible.

With Batman, everyone knows he will do what must be done, and that he will do his best to protect the innocent from the guilty. But he does not go out of his way to accommodate their every need. That is not what he is about. For him, his job is literally zero-sum -- there are winners and losers -- and in the end it is all for the greater good of protecting the city he loves dearly.