Sunday, August 31, 2014

DFL mantra continues

To: Tom Hauser From: Gary Gross, uppity pea

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's Official

Well, it's official now. I've finally made the move to my new site. Many thanks to Mike Jones for his designing it. Thanks to all the people who've faithfully stopped past Let Freedom Ring. Now it's time for you to follow this link to the new site.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Schieffer: Don't Blame Media for Iraq Failures

That's a deal, Bob. We'll just blame the media for not getting the stories out accurately. Here's how Schieffer closed his 'Face The Nation' program:
CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer lashed out at the U.S. military on Sunday, saying top generals need to "stop blaming the media" for negative coverage of the Iraq war. Closing his broadcast Sunday with a commentary on reports that Iraq has descended into civil war, Schieffer urged: "What must stop is the ongoing government effort to sugar coat [the lack of progress in Iraq], trying to blame it on the media or saying it's all going very, very well, as our top general Peter Pace did last week."
The reality is Mr. Schieffer's colleagues in the Agenda Media haven't gotten much right about the supposed Iraqi civil war. The truth is that Ralph Peters exposed their failings for all the world to see. The truth is that Jack Kelly exposes them in his Sunday column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, aptly titled "All Bad News, All the Time". For Schieffer to accuse Pete Pace of sugarcoating what's going on in Iraq is shameful.

If he wants to accuse Gen. Pace of sugarcoating what's happening in Iraq, it might serve him well to also attack the media's willing accomplices who misrepresent what's actually happening in Iraq.

Here's another example of the media's not telling us the truth about the military:
"Much of the reporting has exaggerated the situation," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday. "The number of attacks on mosques had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated. The behavior of the Iraqi security forces had been mischaracterized." For instance, The Washington Post reported on Feb. 25 that 120 Sunni mosques had been attacked in retaliation for the destruction of the Golden Mosque, holy to the Shiites. In a March 3 news conference, Gen. George Casey, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said:
"We can confirm attacks on about 30 mosques around the country, with less than 10 of those mosques moderately damaged, and only two or three severely damaged. We visited eight mosques (in Baghdad) that were reportedly damaged. We found one broken window in those eight mosques."
This is breathtakingly awful reporting. In fact, it's a stretch to call it reporting. It's more like fiction because it's got nothing to do with factual things. And this is just one thing that I can cite. Earlier I mentioned Ralph Peters' reporting. There's no better example of the media getting things wrong than Col. Peters' reporting. His mocking them saying:
"I’m trying. I've been trying all week. The other day, I drove another 30 miles or so on the streets and alleys of Baghdad. I'm looking for the civil war that The New York Times declared. And I just can't find it. Maybe actually being on the ground in Iraq prevents me from seeing it. Perhaps the view's clearer from Manhattan. It could be that my background as an intelligence officer didn't give me the right skills. And riding around with the U.S. Army, looking at things first-hand, is certainly a technique to which The New York Times wouldn't stoop in such an hour of crisis."
That's called sticking the knife in deep, then twisting it ever so slowly as you extract it. That type of report lays open the Agenda Media's willful disregard for the truth. There couldn't have been any fact-checking back at the office. There couldn't have been any true investigating on the reporter's behalf that led the NY Times to conclude that Iraq had descended into civil war.

Mr. Schieffer would do well to not push this issue too far, lest the Right Blogosphere call him on the awful reporting that the Agenda Media have done.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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A Fitting Tribute To Kirby

I hope that my writing this week has shown me to be an unabashed Kirby Puckett fan. As I watched tonight's tribute to Kirby, I often felt a lump in my throat, usually because former Twins players like Dan Gladden, Al Newman and Kent Hrbek reminded us of what it was like to be a Minnesota Twin in those glory years of this proud franchise.

As a Minnesotan, it'd be easy to think of Kirby as our own native son. That, of course, is us just kidding ourselves. Kirby was closest to us, we all wanted to believe, because he wasn't just a great ballplayer. Clearly, Kirby is the best player to ever don a Twins uniform. Still, Kent Hrbek, the man who hit cleanup while Kirby just in front of him, was right in saying that tonight that it wouldn't be the homeruns he stole from others or the homers that he hit. Herbie said that people were still robbing people of homeruns, a veiled reference to Torii Hunter. Herbie said that people were still hitting homeruns around here, though not at the pace that the Herbie and Kirby teams did.

The thing that Kent Hrbek said that he'd remember most about Kirby was his laugh, his smile and his friendship. I thought he might've thrown in Kirby's mischief-making but I guess that was Cal Ripken's job tonight.

Ripken said that he first remembered meeting Kirby right after he first came to the majors in 1984. He said that the Twins were just finishing up taking batting practice and Kirby approached Ripken and Eddie Murray, who were then the Orioles' stars. Kirby, he remembered, walked up and introduced himself, calling Ripken and Murray Sir and saying that he had looked up to Ripken for years. Ripken asked how old Kirby was and found out that the 'Puck' and Ripken were the same age. Finally, Ripken recalled that the conversation took 15 minutes and deprived them of taking batting practice that night.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the night came when for Twins' GM Andy MacPhail told about the great legace that Kirby had left for Twins players for generations. Mr. MacPhail said that everyone in baseball knows that, to be a Twin is to mean that they "play the game right and that you respect the game", which is a fact. He remembered how Kirby took a young outfielder named Shane Mack, who "was a former first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres" who was struggling in the minor leagues and helped Mack become an integral part of the 1991 World Series championship team.

MacPhail mentioned, too, that it was obvious what respect Kirby had for the game, telling of a spring training game in Florida. It was the third inning and Kirby was hitting. MacPhail said you could look down the right field foul line and see this massive wall of water of a Florida rain storm fast approaching. "You didn't need to be a meteorologist to see that this game was about to be over." Kirby hit a "three hopper to short", the ball was fielded cleanly, yet Kirby beat the throw to first. The stopwatch read that Kirby made it down the line in 4.2 seconds. No one would've been upset if Kirby had coasted down there and gotten thrown out because, after all, this was just spring training and a game that was about to be rained out.

That, MacPhail inferred, wasn't Kirby and that wasn't how he played the game. He's right, of course. To this day, Kirby's example set all those years ago, is still how the Twins play the game. Today, the man who finally took over in center field, Torii Hunter, is teaching Denard Span, the Twins' first round pick two years ago, about how to play the outfield right. That's because of the 'fraternity' that Kirby started by taking Torii under his wing.

To this day, if I were starting a team with the goal of winning as many world championships as I could in a ten or fifteen year span, I'd start with Kirby without blinking an eyelash. It isn't that Kirby's the best player I've ever seen. It's that Kirby's the best player I'd ever want as a team leader and a manager's best friend.

Finally, TK, still the best manager I've ever seen, called together the teammates from the championship teams of 87 and 91, along with Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, the Twins' TV color analyst in 1987, Cal Ripken, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and current Twins Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter and said "Folks, get this picture now because this is the best picture you'll ever see." He's right. What a picture for the ages!!!

As a baseball fan first and foremost, it was a sight to behold. Imagine an outfield of Kirby in right, Torii in center and Dave Winfield in left and an infield of Rod Carew at first, Paul Molitor at second, Cal Ripken at short and Harmon at third, with Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Kevin Tapani pitching to Joe Mauer, with Kent Hrbek DH'ing, Randy Bush pinch hitting and TK managing. Give me that team anytime and I'll take my chances. Against anyone, anytime, anywhere.

That's Kirby's legacy. We're still one big family after all these years. Because Kirby and Herbie and Bert and Sweet Music Frankie Viola made the Twins 'Club Fun' when they were together. Today, that torch has passed to Torii and Joe Mauer. How lucky are we?

UPDATE: I just watched a special "Remembering Kirby' show and they had the best line, though I don't know who said it. The line was "Only Kirby could bring Cooperstown to Minnesota." So true. So true.

Clashing Cultures; Priorities Diverging

That's what the homeschooling vs. public school debate boils down to. Nowhere is that divergence made more clear than in Nathanael Blake's latest column for Townhall.com.
When I tell people about my plans for my (hypothetical) children, I invariably hear the same infratentorial objection, which is that they won't "socialize" properly. No one ever tells me that home schooling will stifle my children's academic ability. The stereotype is quite the opposite: home schoolers are smart but socially inept.
Thus we see why more people homeschool now than ever before. Now we see why most conservatives throw their hands up in disgust over exhorbitant funding with precious few results. It's simply a matter of priorities. It seems to me that teaching kids things that are important in building a base of knowledge is far more important than teaching them social skills. With knowledge comes power is a cliche that most people my age understand and accept.

Unfortunately, too few in school administration positions make this a priority. The proof that they don't is shown in the lowering of test scores vs. the rest of the industrialized world. Liberals talk all the time about lowering class sizes as the key to improving eductation. Until President Bush pushed the NCLB legislation, though, no one thought about making schools accountable for measurable improvements.

By contrast, homeschooling is all about making the students accountable. Homeschooling is about learning excellence. It's also about extricating the children from awful school conditions. And I'm not just talking about inferior buildings, either.
The standard (though rarely articulated) definition of successful socialization is to "fit in" with a lot of immature little savages raised by television, video games, and the internet. Spending at least 35 hours a week, nine months of the year, with 20-30 kids of one's own age (with a harried adult supervising) is the antithesis of what is needed in order to learn how to function in society. Give me the shut-in homeschoolers any day; from their family and their books, they will at least have some notion of life beyond their cohort and how to interact with it.
Don't read this as an unqualified endorsement of the homeschooling system. Insetad, see it for what it is: a disparaging indictment against the teacher union regressive system that children are currently trapped in. As for social skills, the truth is that the culture in schools is alarming.

Do you think that a majority of parents were repulsed by Mr. Bennish's anti-Bush diatribe?

It's hard to imagine a high priority item that everyone's involved in to some extent or another where the contrast is defined in starker terms. Sadly, the ones who lose out are the children.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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U.N.: Milosevic's Death 'Pity for Justice'

This is what the U.N. really boils down to. They express their "pity" about Milosevic dying without being convicted but they're the same idiots that put process before results. They're the ones that rail about having a dignified process with little regard for the victims.

Fairness isn't bending over backwards for a evil person. Fairness is making certaint that the defendant is able to view the evidence, mount a defense, then dispensing justice. In this instance, dispensing justice means death by execution. The truth is that the whole world saw what Milosevic wrought. The ethnic cleansing happened because he touched off the powderkeg. The lives that were lost were lost because he commanded armies to kill anyone who opposed him.

Meanwhile, the families of the victims get cheated. But does the U.N. care? Probably. It's just that they don't care more for delivering justice to the victims' families than they care about process. This is what caused the world to run away from League of Nations.

The U.N., like the League of Nations is all about process, nothing about seeing that real justice happens.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Giving McCarthyism A Bad Name

That's Chuck Colson's first impression of Defcon's attack ad against Ralph Reed, Jim Dobson and Lou Sheldon. I couldn't agree with Mr. Colson more. DefCon is the George Soros-funded hate group that bought the ad in the NY Times. Here's the most objectionable line in the ad (titled "The Religious Right Has a Gambling Problem"):
"all the time they must have been betting that they would not get caught taking their thirty pieces of silver and selling out the millions who believed them. [But] they were wrong."
This isn't just another looney left hate website. They're looney alright but they're far from ordinary. Here's the link to Defcon's Advisory Board staff.

The attack on these Christians is sponsored by a group called Defcon. Its website lists the people, a Who’s Who of the extreme left, including same-sex "marriage" and pro-abortion activists, liberal professors, and ACLU luminaries. And they have the nerve to say that Dobson, Reed, and Sheldon have "waged war against our Constitution."

Suffice it to say that these people aren't part of the mainstream of American politics. Anything that's a Tides Center project is anything but conservative, or even centrist, in nature. To say that they're part of the most extreme wing of the Democratic Party isn't a bit out of line. The truth is that these people will say anything to villainize Christian conservatives.

The ad that ran last week was on TV and in all the major metropolitan newspapers. The ad was a mixture of truth, wild-eyed guesses and lies. Ralph Reed did accept money from Abramoff or an Abramoff-related group. That's the truthful part of the ad. The makers of the ad can't know if Mr. Sheldon accepted money from Abramoff, though it's doubtful that he did. As for them saying that Dr. Dobson accepted money from Abramoff, why would he? AFter all, Dobson's been railing for years against gambling of any sort. The implication, of course, is to portray Dr. Dobson as a religious hypocrite.

The best way to beat these charges is to live in such a way as to make the charges seem totally absurd or to make the people who launched the attack look absurd for even thinking it. Actions speak much louder than words in instances like this. Thus far, the known actions of the three gentlemen are quite above board.

Perhaps that's why Mr. Colson said "I was called the Nixon "hatchet man," so I ought to know a "hatchet job" when I see one, though I am not sure that I have ever seen anything quite this vicious since the McCarthy era."

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Chicago Tribune Series

The Chicago Tribune's John Crewdson has written a devastating indictment of the CIA's ability to keep their operatives secret. He also ridicules the CIA in the Valerie Plame fiasco with an article titled "Plame's identity, if truly a secret, was thinly veiled".

Here's a glimpse of his Plame article:
When the Chicago Tribune searched for Plame on an Internet service that sells public information about private individuals to its subscribers, it got a report of more than 7,600 words. Included was the fact that in the early 1990s her address was "AMERICAN EMBASSY ATHENS ST, APO NEW YORK NY 09255."
A former senior American diplomat in Athens, who remembers Plame as "pleasant, very well-read, bright," said he had been aware that Plame, who was posing as a junior consular officer, really worked for the CIA. According to CIA veterans, U.S. intelligence officers working in American embassies under "diplomatic cover" are almost invariably known to friendly and opposition intelligence services alike. "If you were in an embassy," said a former CIA officer who posed as a U.S. diplomat in several countries, "you could count 100 percent on the Soviets knowing."
This article begs the questions: When Andrea Mitchell said that Plame's identity was "common knowledge", was she lying? Or is she lying when she changed her tune after the Libby indictment that it wasn't "common knowledge"? Why should we think that Plame's identity was secret to most of official Washington?

After this series, it's pretty difficult to believe that Mitchell didn't know Plame. It's even more absurd to think that Patrick Fitzgerald didn't know that she wasn't a covert operative.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Phoney Polling

The AP's Will Lester is reporting that an AP/Ipsos poll shows that "70 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats" think that "it's likely that a civil war will break out."

Unfortunately, he's right but only because the media's coverage has been awful. If the American people were told the truth, they wouldn't hold these opinions. Earlier this week, I wrote daily about Col. Peters contrarian reports from Baghdad (found here, here, here, here, here and here), which offered, to say the least, an unflattering appraisal of the media's coverage. I suspect that people wouldn't hold those opinions if they knew that 379 people were killed following the mosque bombing, not 1,300. I suspect their opinion would be different if they'd read about the infrastructure improvements that are happening, too.

Considering all the untruthful reporting that the AP's done prior to this, it's amazing that 10 percent of Democrats think that we aren't on the verge of civil war.

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Milosevic Found Dead in Jail Cell

The AP is reporting that
"Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader who orchestrated the Balkan wars of the 1990s and was on trial for war crimes, was found dead in his prison cell near The Hague, the U.N. tribunal said Saturday. Milosevic, 64, apparently died of natural causes, a tribunal press officer said. He was found dead in his bed at the U.N. detention center."
Yet another instance in which Kofi Annan's 'cooler heads must prevail' approach yields miserable results.
A figure of beguiling charm and cunning ruthlessness, Milosevic was a master tactician who turned his country's defeats into personal victories and held onto power for 13 years despite losing four wars that shattered his nation and impoverished his people.
Most sociopaths and mass murderers share those traits. He chose to combine the two, making him one of the most evil men in the 20th century.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Political Cowardice Vs. Substance

That's what the House Appropriations Committee's 62-2 vote amounts to. Gone is the attitude of weighing the facts of the matter, coming up with a logical plan and setting a sensible policy. It's all about political panic and cowardice. If a genie granted me three wishes, I'd (a) wish that all 62 politicians that voted for the appropriations bill would be fired by the voters, (b) strand Peter King, Chuck Schumer, the Clintons and newly appointed New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez on Antarctica and (c) replace all these idiots with real leaders.

To make matters worse, the UAE is threatening to cancel a couple of multi-billion dollar deals, especially one with Boeing. They're also threatening to not let U.S. Navy ships dock in Dubai's ports and stop helping us in the GWOT. Who can blame them? They've changed their ways, they've helped capture AQ terrorists, they've provided safety for our Navy ships and this is the thanks they get?

UPDATE: DP World has just announced that they're cancelling the deal and divesting itself of all its American investments. This is a tribute to the demagogues who didn't care a bit about substance but caved into the worst type of bigotry.

This is what happens when politicians react to phoney baloney polls. Yes, I believe that 80 percent of Americans think this port deal is wrong. But I also think that that poll isn't based on substance but on Democratic demagoguery.

Rush is on fire on this, too. He started his second hour monologue by saying that Democrats don't care about national security. His suggestion is that House Republicans attach the appropriations bill to a bill that authorizes the NSA warrantless intercept program forever. I couldn't agree more, Rush.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Time For a Pep Talk

Tuesday night, I went to the GOP precinct caucuses. I'm glad I did. One of the resolutions we passed in our precinct was to support President Bush for his proactive policy in the GWOT. It passed unanimously, if I recall correctly.

Another benefit of attending was meeting people who shared my enthusiasm for the conservative agenda. It's the first time in weeks that I felt like I wasn't subject to the avalanche of negativism that we're fed by the Agenda Media.

Earlier today, I read George Will's column about Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion in the Rumsfeld v. FAIR case. I was reminded that President Bush deserves alot of praise for picking John Roberts to succeed Chief Justice Rehnquist when he passed away.

I also had the privilege of reading Katherine Kersten's column on Minnesota's educational system. I realized that the liberal legacy on education isn't a pretty picture. On the other hand, it's obvious that the "pillars" of No Child Left Behind, namely "accountability for results; an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research; expanded parental options; and expanded local control and flexibility."

As I said earlier, it seems to me that this is an issue we should rally around. Why shouldn't we put Democrats on the defensive on this issue? It isn't like their 'throw-more-money-at-the-problem' approach is defensible. It isn't like we can't make a strong, common sense case for NCLB's "pillars". It isn't like school vouchers for inner city children wouldn't be a winner with those children's parents.

It's also time for conservatives everywhere, in every state, to jump on board with Mike Pence's "Republican Study Committee’s budget: "Contract With America: Renewed." It's time we started caring about fiscal sanity. That's how we rode to power in 1994. That's the road we need to take to appeal to blue collar workers and executives alike. Only incumbents like it when money is needlessly spent. Don't forget, too, that proposing a balanced budget plan would attract alot of voters to the GOP.

In the end, conservatives of all stripes need to remember that this is another pivotal election. Staying home is like voting for Democrat. The votes not cast might make all the difference between a House Judicial Committee Chairman John Conyers convening impeachment hearings as opposed to Chairman Sensenbrenner holding immigration hearings. Which do you prefer?

The votes not cast in Senate races might mean the difference between a Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and a Chairman Specter is the difference between getting a J. Michael Luttig confirmed to John Paul Stevens seat or settling for someone who's wishy-washy and who doesn't have a judicial philosophy.

The votes not cast might mean the difference between hearings based on the criminalization of policy disputes or hearings that actually accomplish solid legislation.

In the end, conservatives have alot to vote for and alot to vote against. What isn't an option is staying home. Sending a 'message vote' by staying home in a midterm election that promises to turn on turnout is the equivalent to letting Democrats pursue their agenda of obstruction and hyperbole.

We must not forget to do the mundane but important things that made a difference in 2004. The hours of doorknocking, manning the phone banks, winning neighbors over to our side and many other things are vital in winning races and building on our current majorities.

We've worked far too hard and far too long to let this majority slip away.

When Ignorance Hurts

When was the last weekday that you didn't hear a poll claiming some alarming message? It seems likea ages to me. Most of the time, I read them, fisking them in my mind just to stay sharp, then discarding them as having been manufactured for political purposes.

Monday night, I read Katherine Kersten's column on how ignorant people are of the Constitution, complete with poll results that should legitimately scare us. Here's some of the statistics that Ms. Kersten quoted:
A new survey reveals that only about one in four Americans can name at least two of the First Amendment's five freedoms: freedom of the press, religion, speech and assembly, as well as the right to petition government for redress of grievances. But 52 percent can name two or more members of TV's "Simpsons." More than 20 percent of Americans actually think the First Amendment gives us the right to own and raise pets! We shouldn't be shocked. Americans', especially young Americans', woeful ignorance of history and civics has been documented repeatedly.
It's stunning to me that people could be that ignorant of the basic foundations that this nation was built on. It's one thing to hear that people know chapter and verse about the Simpsons or other popular TV shows. It's quite another to hear them being this ignorant about things that I learned about as a high school freshman.

What this should tell conservatives is that it's worth fighting against the school system that liberals crafted, not against education. This is an election year and I'd make education reform a center of the GOP agenda. Abolishing the Department of Education isn't the solution, either, because abolishing it just means the bureaucracy changes names. It's changing the policies that matters.
The good news is that Minnesota has made progress on this front. Today, our state has decent K-12 standards in American history and government. That's thanks to a successful battle to dump the Profile of Learning, a costly over 10-year experiment in "hands-on" learning. The Profile aimed to create "critical thinkers," not knowledgeable citizens. As a result, it was notoriously short on facts and long on "process." During the Profile's tenure, students at some schools could satisfy history requirements by completing "performance packages" on subjects such as non-conformity in the 1960s, instead of writing papers about major figures and events in American history.
Forgive me for asking this naive question but how can you have people who are talented critical thinkers but who don't have the basic information about the subjects that prepares them for a career? It seems to me that logic can't exist apart from a detailed understanding of the topic being debated.

Also, isn't it a bit presumptuous to think that process alone will yield higher learning? It seems to me that real learning involves process but it's far more comprehensive than just that. Another key component is accountability, which is a key component of the No Child Left Behind Act.

In the end, education should be a winning issue for conservatives because we can point to recent successes while Democrats have to defend their failed legacy on that subject.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Sipping Roberts' Vinegar

This week, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion in the "Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights" case. In his opinion, he gave FAIR a dose of some bitter vinegar, though it starts out relatively 'vinegar-free':
“Accommodating the military's message," Roberts wrote, "does not affect the law schools' speech, because the schools are not speaking when they host interviews and recruiting receptions. Unlike a parade organizer's choice of parade contingents, a law school's decision to allow recruiters on campus is not inherently expressive."
It isn't until the closing that he gives them a healthy dose of his vinegar:
"Nothing about recruiting," Roberts wrote, "suggests that law schools agree with any speech by recruiters. We have held that high school students can appreciate the difference between speech a school sponsors and speech the school permits because legally required to do so, pursuant to an equal access policy. Surely students have not lost that ability by the time they get to law school."
Ouch. It should be noted that not only did the Supremes strike this argument down hard, they slapped it down unanimously. I'm guessing that this case will have a chilling effect on alot of the silly court cases that are filed annually. I can't imagine that this is the type of verdict that these law professors want to be associated with.

On another note, people have noticed that there's alot more unanimity with the Roberts Court than with the Rehnquist Court. That isn't a shot at Chief Justice Rehnquist. It's high praise for Chief Justice Roberts. Here's what the LA Times had to say about that this morning:
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in less than six months as leader of the Supreme Court, has turned the famously quarrelsome justices, at least for now, into a surprisingly agreeable group that is becoming known for unanimous rulings.
Monday's decision rejecting a free-speech challenge to having military recruiters on college campuses marked the ninth consecutive ruling in which all of the justices agreed.
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The outbreak of harmony has lawyers and law professors wondering whether they are seeing a court transformed or a honeymoon for the chief justice. "I think it is a real phenomenon, and it's because of the new chief," said Georgetown University law professor Richard J. Lazarus. "As the court begins to define itself anew, there is a real effort by all of them to build a new court. And it has brought them together."
It's too early to reach any long-lasting conclusions about the Roberts Court but I do think that the qualities we saw in his confirmation hearings are winning people over to his line of thinking. His intellect, charisma and logic make him a persuasive force on the court.

It was easy to see that he'd have this effect on the Supreme Court by how he manhandled liberal lion Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin and Russ Feingold. They looked positively impotent in their questioning of him. Who can forget Roberts answering Durbin's feeble question "What assurances do we have that you'll side with the little guy?" Roberts responded, saying "Senator, I'll guarantee to you that when the law is on the little guy's side, he'll get my vote everytime." No hint of pandering. No thought of saying what Durbin wanted to hear. He just stated his judicial philosophy without hesitation and with total clarity. You can't do better than that.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Iran Threatens U.S.

In what might be its dumbest statement yet, Iran has threatened the U.S. with harm and pain. Here's the summary of the U.S.-Iranian exchange:
"The United States has the power to cause harm and pain," said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a senior Iranian delegate to the IAEA. "But the United States is also susceptible to harm and pain. So if that is the path that the U.S. wishes to choose, let the ball roll." He did not elaborate but suggested Iran was awaiting additional American moves. Diplomats accredited to the meeting and in contact with the Iranians said the statement could be a veiled threat to use oil as an economic weapon. Iran is the second-largest producer within the OPEC, and a boycott could target Europe, China or India.
The White House dismissed the rhetoric out of Tehran. "I think that provocative statements and actions only further isolate Iran from the rest of the world," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with President Bush to the Gulf Coast. "And the international community has spelled out to Iran what it needs to do."
John Bolton, America's ambassador to the United Nations, said Iran's comments showed how much of a menace it was. "Their threats show why leaving a country like that with a nuclear weapon is so dangerous," he told The Associated Press in a phone call from Washington. Bolton classified the Iranian comments as "reflecting their determination to acquire weapons."
I've consistently maintained that sanctions likely wouldn't hurt the mullahs who run the country. They'd only hurt the average Iranian. I've also maintained that, irrespective of our troop deployments, declaring war with Iran isn't smart policy. Even if we weren't in Iraq, I'd suggest a different tack: start supplying Iranians who hate the mullahs with weapons so they can take out their own government.

Before anyone starts saying that that's how the Taliban and Saddam gained power, I'd note that we're dealing with a different dynamic in this instance. In this instance, we're dealing with people who actually like America and want to live a western lifestyle. Saddam liked the western lifestyle but he hated America. The Taliban and al-Qaida hate the West and they don't want anything to do with western lifestyles.

It's also worth noting that in both instances, we chose people that hated our enemies but who were, at best, the least objectionable of two lousy choices. In both instances, we chose the group that we saw as the lesser of two evils. If we started arming Iranians, we'd be supporting people that love the internet, western clothing and the western civilization in general.

This isn't to say that we should expect this type of operation to be quick and clean. The mullahs are in power because they're willing to crush rebellions so that they can implement their worldview. In their minds, it's their religious duty to crush western societies. That their own countrymen and women want western civilization is of little consideration to them. They're as much infidels as Americans.

I suspect, though, that the U.S. has a presence in Iran, most likely special forces teams who are befriending Iranians in preparation for whatever future actions are taken.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Dems: Data Mining OK to Identify Democratic Voters, Illegal to Identify al Qaida

Alright, I admit that not all Democrats think that data-mining, which is an integral part of the NSA intercept program, should be outlawed but alot of them screamed to high heavens when they first heard about it. It seems, though, that they're more than comfortable using data mining techniques to identify Democratic voters. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at their data-mining program:
A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.
The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.
Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front. "The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them, and we are way behind the march," said Ickes, whose political technology venture is being backed by financier George Soros. "It's unclear what the DNC is doing. Is it going to be kept up to date?" Ickes asked, adding that out-of-date voter information is "worse than having no database at all."
This type of operation will cause a split in the Democratic Party. Not because of the data-mining but because the DNC won't have access to the names on this database. I wonder what the FEC will say to the fact that this private company is built to help Hillary. Would this firm sell names to Hillary? Would they just develop the list for Hillary? It seems to me that if they just gave the names to Hillary that that would constitute a campaign contribution. It seems to me that 'selling' Hillary those names below cost would similarly constitute a campaign contribution.

Let's also note this for what it is: an in-your-face Clinton manuever to say 'It's all about Hillary in 08.' Yes, it's a no-confidence vote on Dr. Dean but it's much more than that. This projects tells one and all that Hillary's getting elected is the only thing that matters to the Clintonistas. This action will hurt Democratic candidates because they can't access the information on this database. Anyone want to bet that this won't be a source of friction between Hillary's campaign and legislative candidates?

Now that it's official that Soros is funding a 'For Clinton' data-mining operation, I wonder if there will be calls for congressional hearings into whether (a) she has the Constitutional authority to benefit from this type of operation or (b) if this invades people's privacy. Sorry for the sarcasm but it just struck me as hypocritical since the Democrats railed endlessly about the data-mining involved in the NSA intercept program.
Finally, I agree with Captain Ed when he said "This puts Democratic candidates in a real bind; normally they would work with their elected leadership to coordinate voter strategy and outreach. However, now they will have to choose between that official leadership and this shadow elite that wants to use Soros' money to bypass the party's official management."
The truth is that the Clintonistas have hated Dr. Dean from the beginning. This is just the latest stick in Dean's eye from the Clintonistas.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Iraq: The Untold Truths

I've enjoyed Ralph Peters' reporting from Iraq immensely. He's now returning home so this is his last article from the trenches. Fortunately, he saved his best for last:
What actually happened last week, as the prophets of doom in the media prematurely declared civil war?
  • The Iraqi army deployed over 100,000 soldiers to maintain public order. U.S. Forces remained available as a backup, but Iraqi soldiers controlled the streets.
  • Iraqi forces behaved with discipline and restraint, as the local sectarian outbreaks fizzled, not one civilian had been killed by an Iraqi soldier.
  • Time and again, Iraqi military officers were able to defuse potential confrontations and frustrate terrorist hopes of igniting a religious war.
  • Forty-seven battalions drawn from all 10 of Iraq's army divisions took part in an operation that, above all, aimed at reassuring the public. The effort worked, from the luxury districts to the slums, the Iraqis were proud of their army.
Prophets of doom is an apt description for the Agenda Media. First, they won't leave their hotels so they're getting second-hand information (at best). To make matters worse is that they don't have a way of verifying the accuracy of the information that their Iraqi 'helpers' are feeding them. Finally, and worst of all, they don't try finding out anything about the total picture in Iraq.

Thankfully, we've had Col. Peters in theater reporting facts because he cared enough about 'the big picture' to go there and get the facts firsthand. He should be applauded for his great reporting.
AS a result of its nationwide success, the Iraqi army gained tremendously in confidence. Its morale soared. After all the lies and exaggerations splashed in your direction, the truth is that we're seeing a new, competent, patriotic military emerge. The media may cling to its image of earlier failures, but last week was a great Iraqi success.
This matters. Not only for Iraq's sake, but because standing up a responsible military subordinate to an elected civilian government is the essential development that will allow us to reduce our troop presence in the next few years. Much remains to do, and much could still go wrong, but I, for one, am more optimistic after this visit to Baghdad.
Hallelujah and Hooray!!! Good for them, too!!! This can't be seen as anything other than a major positive development. No need for qualifiers. Let's hope that these troops keep improving, keep gaining in confidence and keeping building their morale. It sounds like these soldiers are brimming with pride and patriotism, too. Good for them.
Let's go deeper and probe into the growth of Iraq's army. On Saturday, The Post conducted an exclusive interview with the commander of Iraq's ground forces. It was Lt.-Gen. Abdul Qadir's first sit-down with the press, he's been a busy man.
The general looks like a vigorous, good-natured grandfather in uniform. But his affable dignity masks a heroic past. An armor officer with extensive battlefield experience, Qadir stood up to Saddam, stating that his adventure in Kuwait was destined to fail. The reward for his integrity, the patriotism of the honest soldier, was seven years in prison. Only his history of combat valor saved him from death. Now Saddam's in prison and Qadir's determined to build a better Iraq.
This is an incredible man. Iraqis should be thankful that he's in a leadership position. Just standing up to Saddam must've taken an incredible amount of courage. Now he's training and leading forces. I can only imagine that these soldiers are well-trained and full of pride. I'll guarantee you won't read this account in the NY Times; I'd doubt if we'd hear Sen. Biden admitting anything like this.

Thank you for your outstanding reporting, Col. Peters. I, for one, am most grateful for the information that you reported.

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Chevron Boosting Oil, Gas Production

I wonder how Democrats, especially of the envirnmental extremist ilk will react to this:
Chevron, the country's second-largest petroleum producer, told Wall Street analysts concerned about the company's growth that daily output would rise from 2.5 million barrels per day of oil equivalent in 2005 to 3.1 million barrels per day by 2010. By 2008, daily output would be about 2.9 million barrels per day. "We as a company are doing a lot about supply," O'Reilly said in response to a reporter's question about the criticism the industry has faced from Congress over soaring gasoline prices and tight supplies.
Anyone wanna bet that the environmentalists scream bloody murder on this?

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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What's the Rush?

A NY Post editorial headline caught my eye. The title is " THE GRAND RUSH TO DECLARE DEFEAT". It's an editorial on what's happening in Iraq. Here's a glimpse into the Agenda Media's heated rush to declare defeat:
Violence following the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra two weeks ago "proved" that, this time, for sure, America's mission to Iraq was ending in ignominy. "IRAQ - BREAKING POINT," screamed a Time magazine cover last week. "This is it," the magazine quoted one Sunni pol saying. "This is the start of the civil war." A front-page New York Times headline proclaimed: "Political Talks Are in Ruins." Yet, 48 hours later, the once-upon-a-time paper of record reported: "Iraqi Sunni Bloc To Rejoin Talks on Government." So much for "ruins."
Equally reckless was The Washington Post's report that some 1,300 people died in the week-long violence after the shrine-bombing. A review by Editor and Publisher magazine of news-service accounts found no evidence to support that number. "When our correspondent examined the books at the morgue, he could find only about 250 bodies logged in as killed in the violence," the E&P story quoted a Knight Ridder editor saying. Iraq's Cabinet said 379 people were killed.
It's been said that the Agenda Media doesn't report the news; it reports what it thinks should be that day's news. That's a bit grand for my blood but I don't totally disagree, either.

What is clear, though, is that their isn't alot of accuracy to these articles. When you report 1,300 dead from "the week-long violence after the shrine-bombing" but then it comes out as being between 250 and 379, someone isn't doing much fact-checking. That's misreporting on a magnitude almost approaching Katrina levels.

When someone says that "Political Talks Are in Ruins" but a headline from 48 hrs. later reads "Iraqi Sunni Bloc To Rejoin Talks on Government", that's sloppy reporting at best. When the NY Times declares that civil war has broken out but then a reporter, a former Army intelligence officer, on the ground sarcastically writes "I've been trying all week...I'm looking for...civil war...and I just can't find it", then you know it's shoddy reporting.

The questions that must be answered is simple: How can supposedly objective-minded reporters with proper eyesight with proper access to the facts get something so badly wrong? How can the American pubilc trust them with reporting verified facts while providing them with accurate, logic- and fact-based analysis?

I submit to you that these 'reporters' aren't objective-minded. In fact, they haven't been in ages, not sice Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story. I'd also submit that that part of their 'accuracy problems' stems from such a biased world-view that they can't see events as they are. It's fair to say that we all come with our biases. We can't eliminate from the equation. What we must eliminate, though, is the blind, overwhelming bias of reporters and analysts.

Something that I hadn't thought of before but which makes alot of sense is that reporting has diminished in quality after the trend that brought in shock jocks. Ratings weren't determined by talent of the host or the accuracy of the content. Ratings were determined by how outlandish the claims they were. There's a case which I think I can make that reporters are hyping things so they get more notoriety so they get on more TV shows.

Isn't it time we demanded better?

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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Democratic Obsession: Denying al-Qaida

Michael Barone asks why Democrats keep insisting that there was no connection between al-Qaida and Saddam's regime even though there's sufficient proof of that connection. Here's his theory on why:
Democrats fear that more Americans would support Bush and the war effort if they believed there was. The career professionals, with their many years of training in the subtleties of the Middle East, have developed a vested interest in the notion that religious Wahhabis like al-Qaida could never collaborate with a secular tyrant like Saddam.
In other words, Democrats repeat the lie because they don't want people believing that the President. To them, it's all about regaining their seats of power. It isn't about setting policy based on facts. Here's what the Senate Intelligence Committee wrote in its report:
(U) The briefing slides contained a "Summary of Known Iraq -al-Qaida Contacts, 1990-2002," including an item "2001: Prague IIS Chief al-hi meets with Mohammed Atta in April." Another slide was entitled "Fundamental Problems with How Intelligence Community is Assessing Information." It faulted the IC for requiring "juridical evidence" for its findings. It also criticized the IC for "consistent underestimation" of efforts by Iraq and al-Qaida to hide their relationship and for an "assumption that secularists and Islamists will not cooperate." A "findings" slide summed up the Iraq -al-Qaida relationship as "More than a decade of numerous contacts," "Multiple areas of cooperation," "Shared interest and pursuit of WMD,” and "One indication of Iraq coordination with al-Qaida specifically related to 9/11."
Sounds to me like a connection, doesn't it? It certainly doesn't establish a connection between Saddam and 9/11 but that's another matter entirely.
Minnesota Democrats cite the 9-11 commission's report that it found no evidence of "operational" cooperation between al-Qaida and Iraq, although it did find evidence of many contacts. But, as Donald Rumsfeld likes to say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Then there's this:
Light on the Saddam regime's collaboration with terrorists will almost certainly be shed by analysis of some 2 million documents captured in Iraq. But, as the intrepid Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard has pointed out, almost none of those documents has been translated or released either to the public or to the congressional intelligence committees. It appears that career professionals and, perhaps, political appointees have been blocking release of these documents.
It's worth noting that Stephen Hayes said that about 50,000 of these documents have been translated and already provide proof of this connection. Stephen Hayes isn't just a Johnnie-come-lately to this issue either. He's written "The Connection", which is the definitive book on this subject. Hayes has done the most extensive research on this issue and his conclusion is that there's a connection between Saddam and UBL.

The truth is that Democrats don't want people to have confidence in President Bush's policies in fighting the GWOT and in keeping America safe. The reality is that it's more important to Democrats to return to power than it is in winning the GWOT. Democrats are playing fast and loose with the facts and they're trying to divide people based on bald-faced lies.

That's my definition of being "un-American."

Cross-posted at California Conservative

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