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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Taken to task over FISA reforms

Democrat leaders in the House have had the bill for almost two weeks, and they have refused to move on it. John Boehner and House Republicans are trying to get the Senate's bill brought to the floor. But Speaker Pelosi knows that if it does come to the floor, it will win, and be sent onto the president. And that's something, in her view, she just can't afford to let happen. So, the feckless leadership in the House continues to play games with our national security. Today, the Washington Times takes her and her minions to task:

Yesterday President Bush implored Congress — and, in particular, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — to stop blocking passage of much-needed legislation to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and grant retroactive liability protection to telecommunications companies that helped monitor jihadist communications after September 11. Mr. Bush emphasized that it would be dangerous and unfair to deny telecoms retroactive protection against lawsuits for their assistance to U.S. intelligence agencies. Government officials, he said, told these companies that "their assistance was legal and vital to national security."

Alluding to the nearly 40 lawsuits filed against telecommunications companies that have been pushed by groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mr. Bush noted that dragging these companies into court could do major damage to national security. If retroactive protection against lawsuits is denied, the president noted, trial lawyers who "see a financial gravy train" from filing suits against deep-pocketed telecoms would benefit, but Americans' public safety would be jeopardized. As the president noted, U.S. firms would face a wave of lawsuits revealing how the United States conducts surveillance against terrorists and that would "give al Qaeda and others a road map as to how to avoid surveillance." Without the cooperation of private companies "we cannot protect the country from terrorist attack," he said.

The dispute over FISA, the president said, is not "a partisan issue." In this instance, he is right. A strong case can be made that a majority of members of both Houses of Congress — both controlled by Democrats — agree with the Bush administration's position on FISA, and that only the malevolent behavior of the House Democratic leadership has prevented Congress from reforming FISA to ensure that patriotic corporate citizens of this country are not penalized for doing the right thing. Before Congress recessed several weeks ago, the Senate voted 68-29 for the Bush administration's proposal to renew FISA with retroactive liability protection.

In late January, 21 members of the Blue Dog Coalition of relatively moderate Democrats sent a letter to Mrs. Pelosi supporting the Senate bill. So, Mrs. Pelosi, realizing that she would almost certainly lose, abruptly recessed the House without considering the Senate bill. During the just-concluded recess, Mrs. Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled brief pro forma sessions of the House to prevent Mr. Bush from calling the House back into special session to consider FISA.

It is particularly disappointing to see that Mr. Rockefeller, who has generally played a constructive role on FISA and telecom liability, has taken to repeating Mrs. Pelosi's specious assertions that U.S. intelligence capabilities aren't being damaged by the lapse of FISA. The reality is that U.S. intelligence agencies have lost a considerable amount of their capability to monitor any new terrorist groups they discovered after Feb. 16, when the old FISA law expired.

We condemn Rockefeller for his 180 degree turn on this issue. He was the one who helped author the bill, and mounted the offense at killing the amendments that would've stripped the immunity from the bill. Now, all of a sudden, he's back to playing games with our security just like Pelosi, Reid, and the other imbecilic Democrats.

What the Times fails to note is that if the immunities aren't in place, the telecoms won't work with the government any more. Why open themselves up to a lawsuit for the ambulance chasers and the anti-America fifth column in the ACLU? It's not worth it, no matter the cost of security issues.

Think about this: As it stands right now a jihadist in the Middle East could make a phone call to talk to another jihadist elsewhere in the world. We can't listen to that phone call, despite the fact it would come through our switches, without a warrant. In other words, because we have to play the FISA two-step with the FISA court, we're being hampered in the prosecution of this war, and in protecting the nation.

Pelosi knows this is a losing battle. She should also know that if a major attack goes down -- be it here or abroad -- and we would've had the ability to prevent it by having the FISA reforms in place, our failure will be laid at her feet. Think about that, Madam Speaker, as you continue to dill-dally on this vital piece of legislation.

Publius II

Turkey pulls out of Iraq

We doubt many people knew that Turkey had conducted a limited invasion of northern Iraq to deal with the PKK -- the Kurdish terrorist group that had been staging attacks against Ankara. Turkish officials claim they have dealt the death blow to the PKK, and began pulling troops out this morning:

Turkey pulled its troops out of northern Iraq on Friday, ending a major offensive against Kurdish PKK rebels that Washington feared could spread conflict through the region.

A statement by Turkey's armed forces General Staff denied any foreign influence on the decision, which came a day after President George W. Bush urged a swift end to the offensive.

"There was no question of completely liquidating the terrorist organization, but Turkey has shown the organization that northern Iraq is not a safe haven for them," the General Staff said.

Turkey sent thousands of soldiers into mountainous northern Iraq on February 21 to crush rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who use the region as a base for attacks on Turkish territory.

"It was determined that the aims set at the start of the operation had been achieved," the General Staff said in its statement. "Our units returned to their bases (in Turkey) on the morning of February 29."

Announcing the withdrawal ahead of the General Staff, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari welcomed the decision to leave.

But Turkey's Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, quoted by TV networks, said Ankara reserved the right to send troops again into Iraq if needed. A parliamentary mandate allowing the army to stage cross-border operations only expires in October.

Washington, like Ankara and the EU, brands the PKK a terrorist organization, and has been supplying intelligence to the Turkish military on the PKK in Iraq.

Part of the blame for this lies at the feet of the Iraqi government. They failed to reign in the PKK, despite requests from Turkey and the US to do so. They had been operating in northern Iraq, in an isolated valley, and they flourished there. Turkey, after repeated incursions by the PKK, was left with no choice but to invade.

Turkey abided by it's promise to not engage any US or Iraqi forces there. They went right for the PKK, and according to the report, the PKK has been severely weakened. While the Kurds cried foul, the Iraqi government didn't raise a finger to stop the invasion. But if this is to end, it must be done by the Iraqis. We can ill afford to be caught in the middle of a conflict between Iraq and Turkey, and we shouldn't. If this persists we may have to do a joint operation in northern Iraq to finish off the PKK. We'd really rather not, as we have protected the Kurds since the invasion began. To do so could drive a wedge between us and them, and they have long supported our efforts to liberate their nation.

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Israel readying for a Gaza invasion

They've just about had it with the Palestinians, and their incessant rocket attacks. This time, they mean business, and they won't hold back should an invasion begin:

Israel's deputy defense minister warned on Friday of a disaster in the Gaza Strip after Israel activated an air raid system to protect a major city from increasingly threatening Palestinian rocket barrages.

As Israeli troops, tanks and aircraft went after Palestinian rocket operations, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio that Israel had "no other choice" but to launch a massive military operation in Gaza.

"As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases ... they are bringing upon themselves a greater 'shoah' because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate, whether in airstrikes or on the ground," Vilnai told Army Radio.

The Hebrew word "shoah" is most often associated with the Holocaust but Israelis use it to describe all sorts of disasters. A spokesman for Vilnai, Eitan Ginzburg, said the deputy defense minister never intended it as a reference to the Holocaust but used the word "shoah" to denote a disaster.

Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza in late 2005, but the rocket fire has persisted and this week became more ominous as Iranian-made rockets slammed into a major city.

Communities right over the Gaza border have taken the overwhelming brunt of the rocket attacks from Gaza, but militants firing longer-range Iranian rockets struck hit the town of Ashkelon several times on Thursday. One sliced through the roof of an apartment building and three floors below, and another landed near a school, wounding a 17-year-old girl.

Ashkelon, a beach town 11 miles north of Gaza, had been sporadically targeted in the past but never suffered direct hits or significant damage. Aside from its relatively large population of 120,000, the city is also home to a hospital, a power station, hotels and the European force that used to monitor a major Gaza-Israel crossing before Islamic Hamas militants violently seized control of Gaza in June.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Friday that the assaults on Ashkelon "demand an Israeli retaliation." Barak, who has warned repeatedly of a large-scale operation in Gaza, blamed Gaza's Islamic Hamas rulers for the escalation in violence and said the militant movement would "suffer the consequences."

The Palestinians have no one to blame but themselves. They're the ones who put Hamas in charge, and Hamas has used that to continue waging their intifada on Israel. The rocket attacks haven't stopped, and Hamas is obviously put it's people on a collision course with the IDF.

Let's hope that this time Israel doesn't cave to international pressure, and they take out the Hamas leadership. This was the folly of voting for a terrorist group to run Gaza. The limited civil war that broke out late last year between Hamas and Fatah should have been a clear indication to the world that these animals can't govern it's people. And the Palestinians would be wise the next time elections are held not to vote for these people.

Publius II

A couple pieces of quick commentary

There are a couple of things I'd like to address off the bat today. The first one is the NY Times utterly idiotic story yesterday question the eligibility of John McCain when it came to his candidacy. They brought up the fact that he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and asked if he was really an American citizen.

For the record, and I hope both Bill Keller and Carl Hulse are paying attention, the Panama Canal Zone -- at the time of his birth -- was sovereign US soil. In 1953 Congress passed a law that granted US citizenship to anyone born in the Zone and had at least one parent who was a US citizen. (Title 8, Section 1403) So the idea that he isn't a citizen is obtuse, at best, and woefully ignorant, at worst. Mr. Hulse would have been better off inquiring with the FEC about John McCain's eligibility. After all, they would have told him if he was unable to run. Furthermore, this question was answered back in 1999 when he began mulling his first run for the presidency. And finally, Mr. Hulse claimed their were "queries" about this subject. Apparently he was the only one who had such worries, as in his piece no one questioned it. They all basically stated that this was something to look into (which just goes to show the stupidity of a few).

Secondly, yesterday Drudge broke a story about Prince Harry in Afghanistan. The story focused on what he had done there, the operations he'd participated on, and his unit. Specific information was given out, which put his life at risk.

Now, while Drudge may be the "grand-daddy" of the alternative media, he is really no better than a MSM source. He grabs headlines -- be they real news or tabloid -- and runs with them. He patted himself on the back for the scoop, but the Brits had specifically asked that the press stay away from him, and not report on his activities. Doing so not only puts his life in danger, but the lives of the men in his unit. I guess that didn't bother Drudge much.

Today it's being reported that Harry will be pulled out of Afghanistan immediately. Yesterday, British defense officials were mulling it over, and said they'd speak with theater commanders. As he had only a few weeks to go in his deployment anyway, this doesn't look so bad. However the hubris of the press to report on whatever hey want to -- no matter the cost or repercussions -- is positively sickening.

Allahpundit asked in his exit question yesterday whether or not we, in the 'Sphere, would have run with the story, with all it's specificity. Michelle weighed in in the comments, and excoriated Drudge for his audacity. So we know they wouldn't have run with it; preferring to abide by the blackout the Brits had requested. I share those thoughts. If it was the average Joe Schmoe, that's one thing. But we're talking about a member of the Royal Family, and one in which the enemy has decided to ramp up attacks against British troops there because of Harry's presence there.

Way to go, Drudge. You're a real tool.

Publius II

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BREAKING NEWS -- William F. Buckley dies

Seen as the "father of modern conservative thought" William F. Buckley founded National Review in 1955. The first issued rolled off the presses on 19 November, and a whole new era of "right-side" thinking was born. The goal was to sever the isolationist viewpoint of the Republicans then, and bring them into a new era of political thought and ideology. According to K-Lo at NRO's The Corner he went peacefully last night:

I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.

After year of illness, he died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas. As you might expect, we’ll have much more to say here and in NR in the coming days and weeks and months.

For now: Thank you, Bill. God bless you, now with your dear Pat. Our deepest condolences to Christopher and the rest of the Buckley family. And our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB’s life’s work justice.

I'd put this on par with the death of Ronald Reagan. William F. Buckley was a true icon and leader for conservatives. He will be missed greatly. Our condolences go out to his family.

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UPDATE: Over at National Review's The Corner the voices that we are so used to are in mourning, and giving their condolences for William F. Buckley's passing. K-Lo has set up an e-mail address for fans and supporters of National Review to pass on their condolences. That address is rememberingwfb@nationalreview.com. If you wish, please drop them a note. they're receiving a ton of e-mails from those greatly influenced by Mr. Buckley. Also, here is the link to his obituary in the New York Times.

I never had the opportunity to meet the man in person, but I have seen numerous interviews and debates of this man. He was more than an icon. He loved life to it's fullest, and was as much a political and intellectual hawk as I am. I remember when I picked up my first issue of National Review from a bookstore here in Arizona when I was fifteen. That purchase set me on the path that I remain on today. There aren't enough words to describe how influential this man and his thoughts were to me, and to who I became.

I can say that the conservative movement would have been nothing without Mr. Buckley. He is the second most important conservative -- second only to Ronald Reagan -- that this nation has had. This post is being bumped to the top of the page for the day in honor of this great man who will be sorely missed by so many, so scroll down for any further updates today.

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UPDATE II: This is from FOX:

William F. Buckley Jr., the erudite Ivy Leaguer and conservative herald who showered huge and scornful words on liberalism as he observed, abetted and cheered on the right's post-World War II rise from the fringes to the White House, died Wednesday. He was 82.

His assistant Linda Bridges said Buckley was found dead by his cook at his home in Stamford, Conn. The cause of death was unknown, but he had been ill with emphysema, she said.

Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of "Firing Line," harpsichordist, trans-oceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to write a column for his magazine, the National Review.

Yet on the platform he was all handsome, reptilian languor, flexing his imposing vocabulary ever so slowly, accenting each point with an arched brow or rolling tongue and savoring an opponent's discomfort with wide-eyed glee.

"I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition," he wrote in The New York Times Book Review in 1986. "I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?' I couldn't think of anyone."

Buckley had for years been withdrawing from public life, starting in 1990 when he stepped down as top editor of the National Review. In December 1999, he closed down "Firing Line" after a 23-year run, when guests ranged from Richard Nixon to Allen Ginsberg. "You've got to end sometime and I'd just as soon not die onstage," he told the audience.

"For people of my generation, Bill Buckley was pretty much the first intelligent, witty, well-educated conservative one saw on television," fellow conservative William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said at the time the show ended. "He legitimized conservatism as an intellectual movement and therefore as a political movement."

Fifty years earlier, few could have imagined such a triumph. Conservatives had been marginalized by a generation of discredited stands — from opposing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to the isolationism which preceded the U.S. entry into World War II. Liberals so dominated intellectual thought that the critic Lionel Trilling claimed there were "no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation."

Buckley founded the biweekly magazine National Review in 1955, declaring that he proposed to stand "athwart history, yelling `Stop' at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who urge it." Not only did he help revive conservative ideology, especially unbending anti-Communism and free market economics, his persona was a dynamic break from such dour right-wing predecessors as Sen. Robert Taft.

Although it perpetually lost money, the National Review built its circulation from 16,000 in 1957 to 125,000 in 1964, the year conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater was the Republican presidential candidate. The magazine claimed a circulation of 155,000 when Buckley relinquished control in 2004, citing concerns about his mortality, and over the years the National Review attracted numerous young writers, some who remained conservative (George Will, David Brooks), and some who didn't (Joan Didion, Garry Wills).

"I was very fond of him," Didion said Wednesday. "Everyone was, even if they didn't agree with him."

Born Nov. 24, 1925, in New York City, William Frank Buckley Jr. was the sixth of 10 children of a a multimillionaire with oil holdings in seven countries. The son spent his early childhood in France and England, in exclusive Roman Catholic schools.

His prominent family also included his brother James, who became a one-term senator from New York in the 1970s; his socialite wife, Pat, who died in April 2007; and their son, Christopher, a noted author and satirist ("Thank You for Smoking").

A precocious controversialist, William was but 8 years old when he wrote to the king of England, demanding payment of the British war debt.

After graduating with honors from Yale in 1950, Buckley married Patricia Alden Austin Taylor, spent a "hedonistic summer" and then excoriated his alma mater for what he regarded as its anti-religious and collectivist leanings in "God and Man at Yale," published in 1951.

Buckley spent a year as a low-level agent for the Central Intelligence Agency in Mexico, work he later dismissed as boring.

With his brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell, Buckley wrote a defense of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in 1954, "McCarthy and His Enemies." While condemning some of the senator's anti-communist excesses, the book praised a "movement around which men of good will and stern morality can close ranks."

In 1960, Buckley helped found Young Americans for Freedom, and in 1961, he was among the founders of the Conservative Party in New York. Buckley was the party's candidate for mayor of New York in 1965, waging a campaign that was in part a lark — he proposed an elevated bikeway on Second Avenue — but that also reflected a deep distaste for the liberal Republicanism of Mayor John V. Lindsay. Asked what he would do if he won, Buckley said, "I'd demand a recount."

He wrote the first of his successful spy thrillers, "Saving the Queen," in 1976, introducing Ivy League hero Blackford Oakes. Oakes was permitted a dash of sex — with the Queen of England, no less — and Buckley permitted himself to take positions at odds with conservative orthodoxy. He advocated the decriminalization of marijuana, supported the treaty ceding control of the Panama Canal and came to oppose the Iraq war.

Buckley also took on the archconservative John Birch Society, a growing force in the 1950s and 1960s. "Buckley's articles cost the Birchers their respectability with conservatives," Richard Nixon once said. "I couldn't have accomplished that. Liberals couldn't have, either."

Although he boasted he would never debate a Communist "because there isn't much to say to someone who believes the moon is made of green cheese," Buckley got on well with political foes. His friends included such liberals as John Kenneth Galbraith and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., who despised Buckley's "wrathful conservatism," but came to admire him for his "wit, his passion for the harpsichord, his human decency, even for his compulsion to epater the liberals."

Buckley was also capable of deep and genuine dislikes. In a 1968 television debate, when left-wing novelist and critic Gore Vidal called him a "pro-war-crypto-Nazi," Buckley snarled an anti-gay slur and threatened to "sock you in your ... face and you'll stay plastered." Their feud continued in print, leading to mutual libel suits that were either dismissed (Vidal's) or settled out of court (Buckley's). [Editor's note -- the actual quote was "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I will sock you in your goddamn face, and you will stay plastered."]

The National Review defended the Vietnam War, opposed civil rights legislation and once declared that "the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail." Buckley also had little use for the music of the counterculture, once calling the Beatles "so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of antimusic."

The National Review could do little to prevent Goldwater's landslide defeat in 1964, but as conservatives gained influence so did Buckley and his magazine. The long rise would culminate in 1980 when Buckley's good friend, Ronald Reagan, was elected president. The outsiders were now in, a development Buckley accepted with a touch of rue.

"It's true. I had much more fun criticizing than praising," he told the Washington Post in 1985. "I criticize Reagan from time to time, but it's nothing like Carter or Johnson."

Buckley's memoir about Goldwater, "Flying High," was coming out this spring, and his son said he was working on a book about Reagan.

Buckley so loved a good argument — especially when he won — that he compiled a book of bickering in "Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription," published in 2007 and featuring correspondence with the famous (Nixon, Reagan) and the merely annoyed.

"Mr. Buckley," one non-fan wrote in 1967, "you are the mouthpiece of that evil rabble that depends on fraud, perjury, dirty tricks, anything at all that suits their purposes. I would trust a snake before I would trust you or anybody you support."

Responded Buckley: "What would you do if I supported the snake?"

Publius II

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The New York Times reaches congressional approval levels

Never thought we'd see the day where the New York Times reached this level of contempt by readers. Sixty-five percent of those polled said that this was a deliberate effort to sink his campaign with regard to the recent story they ran over his supposed lobbyist ties:

Just 24% of American voters have a favorable opinion of the New York Times. Forty-four percent (44%) have an unfavorable opinion and 31% are not sure. The paper’s ratings are much like a candidate’s and divide sharply along partisan and ideological lines.

By a 50% to 18% margin, liberal voters have a favorable opinion of the paper. By a 69% to 9%, conservative voters offer an unfavorable view. The newspaper earns favorable reviews from 44% of Democrats, 9% of Republicans, and 17% of those not affiliated with either major political story.

The Times recently became enmeshed in controversy over an article published concerning John McCain. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the nation’s likely voters say they have followed that story at least somewhat closely.

Of those who followed the story, 66% believe it was an attempt by the paper to hurt the McCain campaign. Just 22% believe the Times was simply reporting the news. Republicans, by an 87% to 9% margin, believe the paper was trying to hurt McCain’s chances of winning the White House. Democrats are evenly divided.

In terms of its ultimate impact, opinion is more mixed. Overall, 30% believe the Times article helped McCain, 34% believe it hurt, and 29% say it had no impact. A plurality of Republicans believe the article helped their party’s presumptive nominee while a plurality of Democrats held the opposite view.

Captain Ed calls it a kneecapping attempt and he's spot-on. There was no there there in that non-story. The veil has been lifted. He goes over the cross tabs for the demographic breakdown, and by a two-to-one margin in every category, except self-described liberals, the people believe that the Times was off the mark and out of bounds for printing the story.

In fact, the only people who are defending the paper, and claiming that the story was just "presenting the news" rather than doing a Ratheresque attempt to influence an election are liberals. Which should sound warning bells to the New York Times, not that they're listening. The only people that are willing to put up with their crap are the nuanced liberals that click their tongues at the likes of the masses. And that, folks, is the likely reason why their subscriptions are down, and advertisers are slowly pulling out of the Times. Well, that and you can get the Times for free on the 'Net, so why bother with the cage liner. Besides, most birds refuse to crap on such a paltry rage.

You'd be better off lining the cage with the National Enquirer. At least there's some decent reading in there once in a while. Of course, that's in between the Brittney/Lindsey stories, and the Oprah diet plans. (We'd use the Weekly World News but they went out of print. We really do miss those bat-boy stories.)

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Democrats and lobbyists -- the connection no one wants to talk about

Paging Bill Keller at the New York Times -- Get off your ass and look at a REAL lobbyist story:

Both Democratic presidential candidates, who promise to curb the influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington, helped enact narrowly tailored tax breaks sought by major campaign contributors.

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has accepted $54,350 from members of a law firm that in 2006 lobbied him to introduce a tax provision for a Japanese drug company with operations in Illinois, according to public records and interviews. The government estimates the provision, which became law in December 2006, will cost the treasury $800,000.

In 2002, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation at the request of Rienzi & Sons, a Queens, N.Y., food importer, according to company president Michael Rienzi. The provision, which became law in December 2004, required the government to refund tens of thousands of dollars in duty charged on imported tomato products, Rienzi told USA TODAY.

Rienzi gave $110,000 to committees set up to support Clinton's 2000 Senate race, records show. Rienzi family members contributed an additional $52,800 to her campaigns since 2000. Michael Rienzi also said he donated to Bill Clinton's presidential foundation, but he declined to say how much.

At issue is a little-known congressional practice of suspending import taxes on specific products at the request of companies. Typically, Congress passes a tariff bill every two years that includes a variety of such measures.

So here is a real story regarding two elected representatives of the government doing exactly what lobbyists wanted them to do. This is what Bill Keller and the fools at the New York Times accused John McCain of doing, which he didn't, and they turn a blind eye to these two. Furthermore, as Captain Ed points out John McCain hasn't ever done this. He refuses to do this.

John McCain isn't beholden to lobbyists, but both Hillary and Obama are. But Bill Keller and his crew at the New York Times don't want to report on that. They'd rather follow the stupid attacks that Hillary throws at Obama, or Obama's fainting fans. But God forbid the Times actually cover real news, and do so accurately.

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More antiwar nuance: Solidarity ribbons

No, I'm not kidding on this. At the Oscars earlier this week, Hollywood A-list celebrities (I always though "A" stood for ass) were sporting something new on their lapels. For the longest time it was a red ribbon, symbolizing their solidarity with those suffering from AIDS/HIV. This year, the Holly-weirdos opted to show their support for al Qaeda:

The hot fashion accessory was apparently orange ribbons and bracelets in solidarity with terrorist suspects in Guantanamo:

Out on the red carpet, Paul Haggis (the director whose "Crash" won Best Picture in 2006) said he didn't know what accounts for all these deeply dark, brooding, troubled films. But isn't it obvious, he asked, flashing an orange ribbon on his lapel. Orange, why orange? "It's Guantanamo," his Max Azria-clad wife, Deborah, said, showing off her orange bracelet, which read: "Silence + torture = complicity." Suddenly, we noticed -- orange ribbons and bracelets everywhere.

You'd have to guess there weren't too many "24" fans in that gathering.

Give me an effin break already. These people have stood by and watched antiwar film after antiwar film come out this year, and none of them have done well. Redacted is right there with Gigli as one of the worst movies ever made and it's box office take doesn't come close to it's actual cost. But, that's okay. Ass hats like Brian DePalma and Mark Cuban deserve to fight over the pennies it made while the nation makes them the biggest laughingstocks since "the Bennifer."

But, can we blame Holly-weird? They hate Bush. They think he's Hitler. (How retarded do liberals really have to be when it comes to this? Last time we checked, Bush didn't attack any undeserving nation, or stick anyone in an oven. Yet the celebrity Left has about as much brains as a Barack Obama supporter.) And they want to stand in solidarity with their "brothers" at Gitmo. Don't suppose they'd care to learn and know that these people aren't being tortured, and that the average detainee is gaining weight.

When Holly-weird steps in it and makes a fool of themselves, they don't go halfway, do they?

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Disarray at the NRCC

If Republicans want to truly, seriously have a shot at regaining Congress they will need more than just lip service. According to The Politico Minority Leader Boehner's frustration came through loud and clear yesterday:

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) challenged Republicans on Tuesday to get off their “dead asses” and start raising money for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

And the Republican leader wasn’t the only lawmaker berating his GOP colleagues to raise more money for the committee’s March 12 fundraising dinner: According to sources in the room, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also used a closed-door session at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday to challenge Republicans to raise more campaign cash.

The normally upbeat Cole told Republicans that if they don’t start raising more money for the committee, they should get used to life in the minority. Blunt told his colleagues that Sen. John McCain’s spot atop the ballot should give Republicans the opening they need to regain their majority.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, who has been tapped as chairman of the annual fundraising dinner, set a goal of raising $7.5 million for the event. He even pledged some of his own campaign cash if members failed to clear a recent hurdle. But House Republicans are falling well short in that goal.
According to numbers read during the Tuesday morning meeting, only 15 Republicans have met their pledged fundraising goal for the dinner. Among them are Texas Reps. Mike Conaway and Pete Sessions and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, a source familiar with the fundraising totals said. Another 42 have set a pledged target but failed to contribute the bulk of that money. And an astonishing 142 members — almost three-fourths of the Republicans in the House — have failed even to set a fundraising target.

Boehner kept his remarks brief Tuesday — back trouble has limited his activity recently — but members and aides present said the Republican leader was clearly frustrated.

The party has struggled to emerge from its devastating losses in 2006 as senior members head for the exits and traditional donors buck the GOP in favor of the new Democratic majority. Some of those defections have sapped Republicans of their most powerful fundraisers, and remaining members have failed to fill that void as GOP lawmakers still grapple with life in the minority.

Life in the minority isn't fun. We know because we've been there before, and we piddled that majority away last year. Though I disagree with the assertion that these losses were "devastating." If they were that, then the Democrats wouldn't be as frustrated as they are now. After all, they were thwarted at nearly every turn last year -- from energy issues, to war funding, and earmarks in between.

Boehner's right. It's time the GOP stop moping and start working towards trying to close the gap with the Democrats. Regaining the majority will take some time. It's certainly not happening this year, but inroads can be made. We could very easily close the gap in the House with the failure of Pelosi's majority to accomplish anything of substance last year. Passing a half-dozen measures -- most of them feckless to begin with -- doesn't translate into leadership. She has been a paltry leader in the House, and when this election is done, we can only hope that Democrats will recognize this, and give the House a better, more qualified, and able leader.

But as for the GOP, it's time to start working towards narrowing the majority of the Democrats, and that means fundraising. So yes it is time for them to "get off their dead asses."

Publius II

Monday, February 25, 2008

The shining light: Obama negatives on par with Hillary; greater than McCain's

Conservatives have been fretting long enough over an Obama nomination, and now Rasmussen gives them the inside track on his bad numbers:

Thirty-four percent (34%) of all voters say they will definitely vote for John McCain if he is on the ballot this November. Thirty-three percent (33%) will definitely vote against him while 29% say their support hinges on who his opponent is.

Barack Obama has the same number who will definitely vote for him--34%. But, more people are committed to voting against him than McCain. Forty-three percent (43%) say they will definitely reject him at the ballot box. For 18%, their support depends on his opponent.

For Hillary Clinton, 32% will definitely vote for her if she is on the ballot and 46% will definitely vote against. Core opposition to Clinton, the best-known of the candidates as the long campaign season began, hovered in the high 40s through most of the past year.

See? For crying out loud, quit worrying about the man of "hope" and "change." The right strategy will derail his candidacy. He's inexperienced. He's weak on national security, as he advocates for a troop withdrawal from Iraq. He's weak on the economy, pushing for higher taxes, and more Congressional spending. He's totally unreliable on the issue of federal judges to the bench, especially the high court. His idea of foreign relations is negotiating directly with our enemies, and kissing up to our so-called allies.

It's time to stop worrying about Obama, and come out against him. Unload. BE SENSIBLE. Don't bring up things not true, such as his supposed Muslim heritage. Don't bring up his race. These two "issues" are utterly irrelevant to this election. The focus is the man, and what he stands for. It ain't democracy. It's more of the same old schtick pushed by liberals over the last sixty-plus years.

His negatives show that he's weak with the general populace. That means they have the same opinion most of us have:

"Yes, you talk of change and hope, yet you lack specificity on your rhetoric. SHOW us. TELL us what you mean. Let America decide on specifics, not empty suited rhetoric."

As yet, we haven't gotten that. We've gotten platitudes which have no merit in our lives. We have problems. We have issues to be addressed (and I'm not talking "mental issues.") We have a war we're in, and economy that isn't doing hot, the prospect of six Supreme Court justices retiring over the course of the next eight years, and an rampant illegal alien problem.

What are you going to do for us, Barack? And I don't mean what will the nanny-state do for us. What will YOU do? You haven't been specific because you lack the experience to be that way. This is why you're failing, and why you'll continue to fail. Beating Hillary is nothing. A chimp with two brain cells, beating a slide rule on a banana could do the same thing.

Publius II

Sunday, February 24, 2008

So can we call him "Flipper" instead of "Messiah" now?

We've never quite cared for some who have dubbed Obama "Messiah," be they from the Left or the Right. In fact, we find the term rather offensive. In today's WaPo, they go over what his new name could possibly be:

1. Special interests In January, the Obama campaign described union contributions to the campaigns of Clinton and John Edwards as "special interest" money. Obama changed his tune as he began gathering his own union endorsements. He now refers respectfully to unions as the representatives of "working people" and says he is "thrilled" by their support.

2. Public financing Obama replied "yes" in September 2007 when asked if he would agree to public financing of the presidential election if his GOP opponent did the same. Obama has now attached several conditions to such an agreement, including regulating spending by outside groups. His spokesman says the candidate never committed himself on the matter.

3. The Cuba embargo In January 2004, Obama said it was time "to end the embargo with Cuba" because it had "utterly failed in the effort to overthrow Castro." Speaking to a Cuban American audience in Miami in August 2007, he said he would not "take off the embargo" as president because it is "an important inducement for change."

4. Illegal immigration In a March 2004 questionnaire, Obama was asked if the government should "crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants." He replied "Oppose." In a Jan. 31, 2008, televised debate, he said that "we do have to crack down on those employers that are taking advantage of the situation."

5. Decriminalization of marijuana While running for the U.S. Senate in January 2004, Obama told Illinois college students that he supported eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana use. In the Oct. 30, 2007, presidential debate, he joined other Democratic candidates in opposing the decriminalization of marijuana.

To be equal, they also address the Hillary flip-flops, but who cares? She's done like dinner. (Is it a coincidence that Robert Novak in the WaPo is wondering who'll stage the intervention for Hillary?) But this doesn't bode well for Obama. He's been making himself out to be an agent of change, and we see that he's not. He's the same old, same old amongst politicos.

His flip-flops should be the source of the next attack launched by the McCain campaign. Obama really has nothing on McCain, in terms of attacks, because anything he cites, we conservatives can cite more. Besides, anything he does bring up in terms of "dislike" for Senator McCain would also seem like a flip-flop of sorts for him. While he wasn't around for McCain/Feingold, he was for McCain/Kennedy, and he voted to support it.

Now we all know he's going to spin this, no matter who brings it up, and claim that he's "triangulating" his position. That's bull. This isn't triangulation. This is changing one's mind to suit the reality he's facing. So, Flipper is the new name for Obama.

Publius II

The agenda of a bureaucratic dhimmi

While the rest of the world holds it's collective breath, and attempts to persuade Iran to end their nuclear ambitions, Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, has been busily scrubbing the record of any sort of accusations and allegations. In short he is giving Iran every opportunity to finish what they started: (emphasis mine)

On Friday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program to the IAEA's Board of Governors. It concluded that, barring "one major remaining issue relevant to the nature of Iran's nuclear programme" -- including a mysterious "green salt project" -- Iran's explanations of its suspicious nuclear activities "are consistent with [the IAEA's] findings [or at least] not inconsistent."

The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA -- so be it.

Mr. ElBaradei's report culminates a career of freelancing and fecklessness which has crippled the reputation of the organization he directs. He has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation.

Mr. ElBaradei assumed the directorship on Dec. 1, 1997. On his watch, but undetected by his agency, Iran constructed its covert enrichment facilities and, according to the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, engaged in covert nuclear-weapons design. India and Pakistan detonated nuclear devices. A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear godfather, exported nuclear technology around the world.

In 2003, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi confessed to an undetected weapons effort. Mr. ElBaradei's response? He rebuked the U.S. and U.K. for bypassing him. When Israel recently destroyed what many believe was a secret (also undetected) nuclear facility in Syria, Mr. ElBaradei told the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh that it is "unlikely that this building was a nuclear facility," although his agency has not physically investigated the site.

The IAEA's mission is to verify that "States comply with their commitments, under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other non-proliferation agreements, to use nuclear material and facilities only for peaceful purposes." Yet in 2004 Mr. ElBaradei wrote in the New York Times that, "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction, yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

IAEA technical experts have complained anonymously to the press that the latest report on Iran was revamped to suit the director's political goals. In 2004, Mr. ElBaradei sought to purge mention of Iranian attempts to purchase beryllium metal, an important component in a nuclear charge, from IAEA documents. He also left unmentioned Tehran's refusal to grant IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military complex, where satellite imagery showed a facility seemingly designed to test and produce nuclear weapons.

The IAEA's latest report leaves unmentioned allegations by an Iranian opposition group of North Korean work on nuclear warheads at Khojir, a military research site near Tehran. It also amends previous conclusions and closes the book on questions about Iran's work on polonium 210 -- which nuclear experts suspect Iran experimented with for use as an initiator for nuclear weapons, but which the regime claims was research on radioisotope batteries. In 2004, the IAEA declared itself "somewhat uncertain regarding the plausibility of the stated purpose of the [polonium] experiments." Today it finds these explanations "consistent with the Agency's findings and with other information available."

The IAEA director seems intent on undercutting Security Council diplomacy. Just weeks after President George Bush toured the Middle East to build Arab support for pressure on Tehran, Mr. ElBaradei appeared on Egyptian television on Feb. 5 to urge Arabs in the opposite direction, insisting Iran was cooperating and should not be pressured. And as he grows more and more isolated from Western powers intent on disarming Iran, Mr. ElBaradei has found champions in the developing and Arab world. They cheer his self-imposed mission -- to hamstring U.S. efforts to constrain Iran's program, whether or not the regime is violating its non-proliferation obligations or pursuing nuclear weapons.

In working to undermine sanctions, however, Mr. ElBaradei demeans the purpose of his agency and undercuts its non-proliferation mission. He also makes military action all the more likely.

It's clear where Mr. ElBaradei's loyalties lie, and it's not with the IAEA, or the United Nations. It is also crystal clear that he is working to undermine any and all efforts, individual from the UN and IAEA, to force Iran to end it's weapons program. Now people will wave the NIE and say they're not pursuing weapons, and to those people I can only ask how you became so obtuse? Iran has invested a great deal of money and manpower into this program, and there's no way in Hell they're just going to walk away from it. We knew about the Parchin facility, and the fact that North Korean nuclear scientists were there. (For the record, North Korea doesn't employ nuclear energy. It's energy comes from coal, oil, and natural gas.)

ElBaradei wants Iran given a clean bill because he believes that any nation should be allowed to construct such weapons -- for defensive purposes only (what a rube) -- and Iran falls under that criteria. What he doesn't understand, and what the world is trying to tell everyone, is that if Iran gets a bomb, they're not going to use it for defense. It'll be an offensive weapon, and the region could easily fall under the umbrella of nuclear blackmail.

It's time for the Security Council to remove ElBaradei from the IAEA. It's clear that he has no desire to uphold the non-proliferation position of the organization, and due to that feeling, he is a danger to the security of the world.

Publius II

The moral relativism of Barack Obama

Senator Barack Obama is running for the presidency, and he has stated -- repeatedly -- that he would meet with our enemies with no set pre-conditions. This has dismayed a number of people not only in the government, but also across the nation. Benny Avni in today's New York Sun addresses this pressing point:

For Mr. Obama, however, dangling high-end diplomatic meetings as an incentive for a change in behavior is bad policy rooted in American hubris. "If we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time," he said during the CNN/Univision debate with Senator Clinton on Thursday.

His aversion to American exceptionalism aside, Mr. Obama's position evolved out of a primary debate last July, when he casually said he would talk, without preconditions, with the leaders of Iran and Syria. Mrs. Clinton immediately seized on the statement as a gaffe by an inexperienced politician, but Mr. Obama declined to correct his course. He instead doubled down and in last week's debate said he favored a sit-down with Raul Castro, selected yesterday in Havana as his brother Fidel's successor, before a single political prisoner is let out of Cuba's gulags.

Because of his background, Mr. Obama is likely to increase goodwill toward America around the world. The leaders of Cuba, Syria, Iran, and North Korea are likely to welcome him too, which may open up new diplomatic opportunities. But what will he tell them? So far, he has declined to articulate a coherent negotiation policy beyond the need to negotiate.

For tutoring, he may turn to President Clinton's first secretary of state, Warren Christopher, whose multiple trips to Damascus during the reign of Hafez al-Assad in the mid-1990s famously led to little of note beyond a great humiliation to America's diplomacy. Or Mr. Obama may want to talk to the European Union's foreign policy point man, Javier Solana, who has negotiated endlessly with the Iranian mullahs in an effort to convince them to suspend their enrichment. Or he could secretly turn to his nemeses at the current White House. Try Christopher Hill, whose negotiations with the North Koreans were successful on all fronts — except for Pyongyang's failure to deliver its end of the bargain, as in dismantling its nuclear program.

I am no fan of the Cuban embargo, but removing it now — or announcing a presidential trip to meet with Raul Castro — would indicate that America views this familial transfer of power as real change, rather than what it is: a maneuver meant to leave the brutal Castro legacy intact.

"Meet, talk, and hope may be a sound approach in a state legislature, but it is dangerously naïve in international diplomacy where the oppressed look to America for hope and adversaries wish us ill," Mr. McCain said last week in a statement reacting to Mr. Obama's pledge to talk with Raul Castro.

A policy barring any meetings with dictators — even one as ironclad as Mr. Bush's critics imagine — is no worse than a hope that presidential power and personal charm alone can solve problems with the simple scheduling of a face-to-face meeting. Targeted talks with the bad guys may help, but so can a ban on negotiations. Unlike presidential campaigns, reality is complex, which is why Mr. Bush talks with enemies when he deems necessary, and also why, if elected, Mr. Obama will at times probably refrain from talking.

The NorKs came back to the table when we tightened sanctions, and won a final round in the UN. They came back to the table with promises that have failed to be fulfilled. Because of that, talks were broken off again, and what was promised isn't being delivered to them. The art of negotiation in diplomatic circles is a fine line to walk. Thus far, we haven't done a bad job under President Bush's watch, though there were a couple of negotiations we would have preferred hadn't occurred. (These include the "informal" talks held by members of Congress with other leaders around the world like Bashar Assad in Syria.)

Obama is dangerously naive if he thinks that his charming smile and charismatic rhetoric is going to change the minds of brutal dictators. It won't. And in the end it could cost this nation dearly. The talks held by the Clinton administration with the NorKs in the mid-nineties did little to help us, but it gave the NorKs the ability to come up with exactly what they wanted -- a working nuclear weapon. If Obama were to engage in talks the way Madeline Albright did, we might just end up with a nuclear armed Iran much quicker than is speculated today.

Direct negotiations should be reserved for when a nation complies with our requests, and proves that it has. If we directly negotiate with Iran, it should be after they have suspended their enrichment program, shut down their crash program for a nuclear weapon, and after they quit sending IRGC and Quds forces into Iraq. Mr. Avni is correct in maintaining that this is a carrot-and-stick mentality. They give up what we want through informal, multi-party talks, then we'll address them directly. Not before.

HT to Captain Ed, now blogging at Hot Air

Publius II

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Huckabee isn't lkeaving; thinks he can win a brokered convention

HT to Allah at Hot Air for this one. You know, most conservatives in the base would rather have the Huckster drop out. He doesn't have a shot to win in the general election, and he knows it. He can't compete with either Barack or Hillary, so why bother sticking around? Because he believes that he can win Texas, Ohio, and a brokered convention:

In an interview with 1200 WOAI news during his swing through Texas, longshot Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee outlined a strategy which has him not winning the GOP nomination outright, but pushing the nomination to the September Republican National Convention, which he says will turn to him as the most ‘conservative alternative.’

The ‘brokered convention’ plan is in stark contrast to Huckabee’s previous sunny predictions of a sweep to victory in the primaries and caucuses on the shoulders of adoring family values conservatives.

Huckabee said his ‘brokered convention’ strategy is predicated on a victory in Texas, the country’s largest Republican state.

“We think Texas is an important state,” Huckabee told me. “We know how important it is to win Texas.”

Huckabee says with an upset win in Texas, and a win in the Ohio Republican primary the same day, Huckabee could deny front runner John McCain the nomination in the primaries.

“If we win Texas, I think it changes the dynamics of this race. It could well go all the way to the convention. If the convention delegates pick the president, chances are they would pick the most conservative. I would be the one they would end up picking, if that’s the criteria.”

Huckabee also called for more debates with McCain. "I think we ought to have debates. I think it's not Republcian and not American to shut off the debate and the process of the election."

The Huckster is beyond a long-shot to win a brokered convention, and it's evident he's buying into the whole "never say die" mantra that he and his campaign people have been pushing for quite some time now. While he has done a decent job of virtually sweeping the south, he's yet to take a single state up north. Furthermore, McCain is soundly mudstomping him in delegates. If he forces a brokered convention, those delegates will likely back the man who has been the frontrunner for some time now.

Give it up, Huck. You can't win.

Publius II

McCain not too happy with reporters

And can anyone really blame him? After all, the Times hit-piece on the front page of yesterday's paper had originally been deemed "dead" by editors, as they could find no corroborating facts. Then, a month after they endorse him, they lower the boom on him with a story that, wel, in short, "there's no there there." It was bogus. And if you cruise through the 'Sphere, you'l see others have discovered that the two people they spoke with were former McCain staffers that weren't exactly on great terms with the Senator.

So what happens when you're bitten by the people you thought you could trust? You give them the cold shoulder, and point them the way to the couch. "Get used to it, bub, because that's where you're sleeping from now on."

John McCain’s campaign plane is usually a pretty jovial place to be. The senator, his family and aides sit in the first few rows, while the press is stationed in the back of the plane. On most days, the two sides openly mingle, with reporters sometimes able to sit close so close to the front that they can hear McCain and his aides talking strategy.

But in the aftermath of today’s New York Times story looking at McCain’s dealings with a Washington lobbyist, the mood is decidedly different. Before McCain boarded his plane, reporters were asked to sit farther back than usual on the plane. And when McCain finally boarded the plane, he failed to offer his usual wave at reporters and opted to quickly take his seat. During the flight, the cabin was unusually quiet, save a few quick discussions McCain had with top aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter. Near the end of the flight, Schmidt came back to the press cabin, where, with cameras off, he railed against the New York Times for publishing its story. “The Times in a post-Jayson Blair, post-Judith Miller world… went through a painful period of self-evaluation,” Schmidt said. “That went out the window yesterday with this piece on John McCain...This is much more a story about journalism than a story about John McCain.” When reminded that the Washington Post also published a story today, Schmidt shrugged. “The Washington Post piled on (but) the Washington Post didn’t instigate the story,” Schmidt said.

Is the Post getting a pass? Schmidt says no, but there’s a reason that the McCain campaign is targeting its ire solely at the Times: There’s no other paper more reviled on the right than the Gray Lady. And the story has earned McCain a level of sympathy from some of his toughest critics, including Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, both of whom have lambasted the paper for publishing its account on McCain today.

This was the dumbest mistake the Times could have puled. Why? Because now McCain has sympathy on his side. Hannity, Limbaugh, Ingraham, and an untold number of starboard side blogers who reviled him have now stepped up and come to his defense. Some are still sitting back and saying "When you lie with the dogs, you wake up with fleas." Fine they're welcome to their opinion, but this was low-brow politics. It was a hit piece designed to inflict maximum damage to the frontrunner. Granted, it's no Rathergate -- 44 days before the general election -- but it clearly shows the inherent bias at the times, or just plain stupidity.

They used innuendo to push a story about possible, alleged impropriety on John McCain's part. Throw in a rather attractive lobbyist, set up two staffers who supposedly went out of their way to warn him off, and it looks like the old man might have been preparing to have a fling.

But none of it was true. It was petty gossip that should have no place in a major news publication. But, as Captain Ed notes:

Hey, at least the Times carried McCain's denial in today's edition .... on page A20. Run the smear on the front page in a two-column box; run the response in the back of the news section. Sounds like the kind of journalism that makes Tom Shipley proud!

Sounds like A-typical, modern-day, mainstream media cover\age to me. Shesh, no wonder why they're having problems.

Publius II

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

McCain - Veto the torture bil

Buckle up and get ready for the catcalls that he's flip-flopping. John McCain has called on President Bush to veto the ban on waterboarding:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said President Bush should veto a measure that would bar the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods on terror suspects.

McCain voted against the bill, which would restrict the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques listed in the Army field manual.

His vote was controversial because the manual prohibits waterboarding — a simulated drowning technique that McCain also opposes — yet McCain doesn't want the CIA bound by the manual and its prohibitions.

McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is well-known for his opposition to waterboarding, which puts him at odds with the Bush administration.

"I knew I would be criticized for it," McCain told reporters Wednesday in Ohio. "I think I can show my record is clear. I said there should be additional techniques allowed to other agencies of government as long as they were not" torture.

"I was on the record as saying that they could use additional techniques as long as they were not cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment," McCain said. "So the vote was in keeping with my clear record of saying that they could have additional techniques, but those techniques could not violate" international rules against torture.

OK Republicans, line up and take your best whacks in acusing him of flip-flopping on this issue. You're going to do it because of what he has said about waterboarding in the past, that it's "torture" and it should be banned. BUT, read further in the story, and you'll see he's not flip-flopping at all:

President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation, which cleared the House in December and won Senate approval last week.

One supporter of the bill, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week that if Bush vetoes the measure, "he will be voting in favor of waterboarding."

If a president disagrees with legislation, he should veto it, McCain said. He said he disapproves that Bush sometimes signs legislation he dislikes, then issues critical "signing statements" outlining his objections.

McCain said he would never issue a critical signing statement: "If I disagree with a law that's passed, I'll veto it."

See, he's agreeing that the president has the right and the power to veto legislation that he disagrees with. That is what his support of the veto is about. He's telling the president that if he disagrees with it, he should veto it. People are going to jump on this and take it out of context that he's being hypocritical in his statements. He's not. And by reminding voters that he'll veto legislation that he'd disagree with, he's reminding voters that he will not swallow his veto pen the way President Bush did for the first five years of his administration.

Our largest complaint with President Bush is that he should have vetoed more legislation than he did. No Child Left Behind, and the Medicare/Medicaid reforms among them, but he didn't. "Compassionate conservatism," AKA big-government conservatism (a complete oxymoron) , was how the president handled domestic issues. Just throw more money at the problems; add more regulations; grow the bureaucracy bigger. These stood in stark contrast to the conservatism we believed in, espoused, and fought for for decades.

McCain is contrasting himself with President Bush when it comes to legislation from Congress. It also paints the Democrats in a bad light to boot. We know that if a Democrat gets in the White House, and they win wider margins in the Congress, there will be rubber-stamps galore from them. Every little pet project developed over a Democrat presidency will be enacted, and the best we can hope for is to mount and maintain filibuster after filibuster to block it. Problem is such a tactic won't last long without the numbers to maintain it.

(This applies to the Senate only, thanks to rules invoked in 1842 by the House limiting time for debate, and to break a filibuster, a supermajority -- 60 votes -- are needed for cloture to end debate. If the Democrats pick up 11 seats in the Senate, they have the sixty needed.)

So, no, Senator McCain hasn't flip-flopped. He clarified an opinion relating to the powers of the president, and that if the president disagrees with legislation, he should veto it.

Publius II

Jonathan Martin -- Obama not yet ready for what lies ahead

Pay careful attention to this, folks. Jonathan Martin hits the nail on the head with this piece from Politico. (Emphasis mine):

It may be too little too late, but Hillary Clinton may have been onto something with her warning to Democrats last night.

Only one of us, she said about her and Barack Obama at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, is "ready to defeat the Republicans."

On potentially lethal lines of attack, religion and patriotism, Obama has twice now demonstrated that he's not sufficiently aware of the danger that exists from the conservative Freak Show that did as much to beat John Kerry as George W. Bush did in 2004.

Last year, Obama's campaign largely ignored the persistent rumor that he was some sort of crypto-Muslim. Emails to this effect circulated for months, tainting the first impression many casual voters had of the young senator. Obama's camp didn't want to give the smear more attention by spotlighting it, but it reached such a fever pitch in the days leading up to Iowa that the candidate himself finally had to bring it up in his stump speech. And even now, new anecdotes emerge every day about voters who are wary of Obama's middle name (Hussein) or his purported Muslim roots.

And again this week, they've been slow out of the blocks in recognizing another danger zone. "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country," Michelle Obama said Monday in Madison, Wis.

By that evening, the quote was the top headline on the Drudge Report and quickly found its way onto conservative blogs. Yesterday afternoon on his influential radio show, Rush Limbaugh played the clip and then lit into both Obama's.

"Doesn't it just grate on you that liberals in general are not proud of their country, period?" Limbaugh asked.

By last night, the conservative commentators on Fox News were in high dudgeon over her comments, repeating them over and over before lambasting her and predicting they would be used against the candidate this fall. And as of now, Wednesday morning, Michelle Obama has made no public comments nor issued any statement to stop the bleeding. Only Obama campaign advisers have sought to explain away an obvious gaffe. Now, the Obama camp can make the case that her comments are being distorted and that they don't want to legitimize their right-wing tormentors by having Michelle apologize or even clarify the statement. After all, the mainstream media hasn't exactly pounced on the affair.

The New York Times, for example, had just a small story deep in the paper today, completely overshadowed by Obama's success last night. It all sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Kerry and his top aides didn't want to elevate the attacks of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth by forcefully rebutting them. And the Swifties didn't exactly garner much attention when they launched their campaign in the summer of 2004. The elite newspapers and network newscasts initially gave them only the most cursory mention. Plus, Kerry was riding high after his military-bedecked convention. Why dignify a few fringe voices?

But as Kerry learned too late, the politico-media world has changed. Obama may not want to play by the rules of the Drudge-Limbaugh-Fox News axis, but their influence is as real as the voters they reach.

More ominous for Obama is that his general election opponent in waiting appears to appreciate the opportunities afforded by the new media forces.

The right-wing media voices may not have any great affection for John McCain, but the senator and some of his top advisers have been around long enough to know that most of these conservatives loathe liberals even more.

They’ll never go anywhere near the Muslim smear or anything approaching racial territory, of course (that has already proven to have considerable currency underground). But there is nothing that delights a Republican operative more than the prospect of a Democratic candidate (or spouse) criticizing the country.

It plays right into the blame-America-first narrative that the GOP has been beating over the heads of Democratic candidates dating back to George McGovern in ’72.

So sure enough, Cindy McCain used a public appearance the day after Michelle Obama’s comments to bring them up and note that, for the record, she is “very proud of [her] country.”

That McCain doesn’t typically delve in partisan politics and that her husband served in Vietnam and two sons are currently on active duty today only made her remarks that much more striking. More important, they doused gasoline on a fire that was already burning on the right and helped pushed it into the mainstream media.

The good news for Obama is that he and his campaign have now — assuming they’ve grasped the impact — been given something of a warning shot. It’s only February. There is time yet to figure out the difference between the way to win and the way to lose.

We contend that even though the warning shot has been fired, he will not be able to withstand the juggernaut of the alternative media. Bear in mind that this will be the first major presidential election where the alternative media - talk radio, conservative columnists, podcasters, bloggers and vloggers - will have substantial influence in it's outcome. This is the alternative media's "gates of fire."

We haver the ability, at a moment's notice, to dig up disparaging information about Obama. And while Mr. Martin is quite correct that none of the "professionals" in the alternative media wil delve into the Muslim slurs, or race-card tactics, the subordinates will. And they'll be roundly and rightly criticized. Neither -- I repeat, NEITHER -- of those issues are at contention in this election. I could care less if Barack Obama is Muslim (he's not, and it's improper to even contend that he isn't qualified for the presidency if it were true; we've been over this with the Romney affair), and I could care less that he's black (again, it has no relevance in the overall election).

Face it, we don't think he truly understands the gravity of the alternative media. We have been around for quite some time. We were influential in the midterms of 2002, the presidential election of 2004, and we even had a hand in 2006 despite some conservatives who were content to sit at home "to teach Republicans a lesson." This year, that won't happen. Mr. Martin is absolutely correct that we loathe liberals and their socialist platform more than we dislike John McCain.

Obama is going to be scrutinized on his statements (withdrawing troops from Iraq, threatening to invade Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden, having no preconditions before meeting with the worst despots that despise us, and a tax plan that will wreck the economy). He will be lambasted over these positions. And whereas we can acknowledge that John McCain hasn't exactly stayed on the reservation, he hasn't stated any position that will end up doing harm to the nation. (And no, you can't cite McCain/Kennedy because it's dead, and isn't likely to rear it's ugly head again for some time.) Barack Obama has, and that is where we're going to level the cross-hairs. And you can be sure that McCain will take a page or two from our playbooks on how to go after him.

We all know the media is going to be pushing Obama's race when the general election begins. They're doing it now by bringing up being "swiftboated" by racist Republicans. Thank God Obama had enough sense to take that meme off the table, but the MSM won't relent on that topic. They'll do their best to paint McCain and the Republican party as being against Obama because we're "racist." That's the furthest thing from the truth, and we'll condemn any conservative pundit that even makes that contention, overt or veiled.

Just get ready, Obama supporters. We're coming out after him, and we're going to bring facts to the table. Speaking of "hope" and "change" isn't going to help you in the debates you attempt to engage in. We have the high ground in this election.

Publius II

To Barack supporters: "Name one thing he's done, please?"

Michelle Malkin calls it a game. With al due respect to Ms. Malkin, she may see it that way, but in the world of bare knuckle politics, we'd like to hear some specifics rather than flowery platitudes. And many of his supporters are being confronted with a demand for specificity. Many of those confrontations end up going a lot like this one picked up by Curt at Flopping Aces:

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: “You are a big Barack supporter, right, Senator?”

State Sen. Watson: “I am. Yes, I am.”

Matthews: “Well, name some of his legislative accomplishments. No, Senator, I want you to name some of Barack Obama’s legislative accomplishments tonight if you can.”

State Sen. Watson: “Well, you know, what I will talk about is more about what he is offering the American people right now.”

Matthews: “No. No. What has he accomplished, sir? You say you support him. Sir, you have to give me his accomplishments. You’ve supported him for president. You are on national television. Name his legislative accomplishments, Barack Obama, sir.”

State Sen. Watson: “Well, I’m not going to be able to name you specific items of legislative accomplishments.”

Matthews: “Can you name any? Can you name anything he’s accomplished as a Congressman?”

State Sen. Watson: “No, I’m not going to be able to do that tonight.”

Matthews: “Well, that is a problem isn’t it?”

That is a problem. Michelle warns that to play this game, the same thing can be done to Hillary or McCain, and her obvious distrust of John McCain is evident. She claims that the only thing conservatives can come up with in regard to the senior senator from Arizona is "McCain/Feingold," "McCain/Kennedy," etc. That's not true, nor is it intellectually honest.

John McCain is pro-life, pro-fiscal responsibility, and pro-free trade. He supported the Gramm/Rudman bill enforcing automatic cuts in government spending. He helped fashion the Line Item Veto act that the USSC struck down later. He is in favor of Social Security accounts in the same fashion President Bush tried to press Congress to create. He is for school vouchers, and against an expanded role of the government in health care. He also believes in capital punishment and in necessary welfare reform. He's a hawk on foreign policy issues, and has been one of the strongest supporters of the War on Terrorism. He can be classified as "pro-2nd Amendment" as he didn't vote in favor of the Assault Weapons ban or the Brady Bill. And he recently pledged that if elected, he wouldn't raise taxes.

Can Obama supporters claim the same things? Can Hillary supporters calim the same things? The answer is no. Neither one can cite a record as wide and far-ranging as Senator McCain's. When we "play this game" with Democrats, it's not a game. We want specifics. We want to know, honestly, "What have you done for us lately?" What have they done to curtail spending? What have they done to remain on offense in this war? What have they done about immigration? What have they done about the enemies we have around the globe in Iran, in North Korea, in China, et al, to curb their dangerous ambitions?

The answer is they've done nothing. And while McCain has one serious sticky spot with his base (McCain/Kennedy), while both the Democrat candidates have a lot of sticky issues, including vows to raise a host of taxes - from payroll taxes to capital gains -- and their inherent idiocy when it comes to the war we're in.

We don't think this is a game. We think that Obama either needs to start getting specific with his record and his ideas for the country. If not, he is going to be easy fodder for McCain in the general election debates.

Publius II

Cry havoc, and let slip the atack dogs of slime

You have to hand it to Hillary atack dogs. They do know how to bark. Don't know yet if they know how to bite, or if their bite is dangerous, but the bark is filled with vitriol in the true Clintonian spirit:

Oh snap! Who needs a Rottweiler when you’ve got surrogates?

Tom Buffenbarger president of the machinists' union (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers) was the the latest in a string of Clinton junkyard dogs unleashed upon Obama. Prior to Hillary Clinton’s speech last night in Youngstown, Ohio, Buffenbarger delivered nothing short of an Obama diatribe. ..

Buffenbarger called Obama a “thespian,” and he sarcastically referred to the junior senator from Illinois as a “wunderkind.” He compared Obama to “Janus, the two-faced Roman god of ancient times.” And he pleaded with the crowd to boo Obama’s labor record.

Early in his speech, Buffenbarger asked, “So now we have a decision to make. Will we rely on the Harvard Law Review editor? The silver-tongued orator from Kansas, Hawaii and Illinois? The man in love with the microphone?”

Taking off the gloves, he said, “Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate. He took a walk more than a 130 times. That's what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves. All the right combinations. All the right footwork. But he never steps into the ring.”

But it was Obama supporters for whom Buffenbarger saved his most vitriolic contempt, and he proved that the Democratic Party’s coalition is nothing if not fragile. Channeling Howard Beale from the movie "Network," he yelled into the microphone, “Give me a break! I've got news for all the latte-drinking, Prius- driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies crowding in to hear him speak! This guy won't last a round against the Republican attack machine. He's a poet, not a fighter.”

There ought to be a new reality show entitled "When Democrats Eat Their Young." The Clinton machine is desperate to dethrone Obama, and they're content to use every dirty trick in the playbook, including unleashing the attack dogs of slime. Don't get me wrong here. Buffenbarger has some relevant points to make about Obama, including the fact that his career has given him nothing on par with executive experience. Hillary has that, albeit in short supply. McCain has been working with presidents since before Obama even considered politics.

And he's right that Obama has yet to face a real challenger. Hillary is a bloody lightweight, by comparison. That's been made more than evident. She expected to cruise, unhindered, to the nomination, and now she's lucky if she's treading water. The one thing Obama supporters have no clue about is that the GOP is more unified than what's being reported. One only need look across the starboard side of the 'Sphere to see how many grasso-roots people are stating now, firlmy, that they'll vote for John McCain. Only nutters like Ann Coulter miss this point. (That and she believes Hillary will still be the nominee despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)

The conservative base isn't happy with John McCain, and by all rights they shouldn't be. He's spent the last decade honking us off. But he is the nominee, and as the old saying goes "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party." Suck it up and vote for the guy, or stay at home and pout. But if you do the later, forget attending the victory party. We know who you are, and we know where you stand. You opted out, and will do nothing to help keep Obama out of the White House. We'll work our butts off to ensure that the only way Obama gets in the White House is for a guided tour.

But it is amusing to see the lengths that the Clinton campaign is willing to go to. That diatribe won't sit well with the youth in the party for the sheer fact that it's insulting to them. She's going to need them to win, and she's not going to do it if she lets the attack dogs bark as they choose at constituents she needs desperately.

Publius II