Saturday, December 31, 2005

First Annual Year End Awards

Welcome to the First Annual Let Freedom Ring Year End Awards. Let's get started.

The 'You Could Hear His Jaw Hit The Floor Award': It was a difficult choice but I've decided that this award could only go to Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-IL), for his facial expression after John Roberts' answer to Durbin's question. During Durbin's third round of questioning Chief Justice Roberts, the senator asked "Judge Roberts, how are we to know that you'll side with 'the little guy' when you're on the bench?"

You could almost hear Sen. Durbin's (and likely all other Democratic senators') jaws hit the floor when now- Chief Justice Roberts said "Senator, I'll guarantee that I'll side with the little guy every time that the Constitution is on his side."

The 'Coming Out Of the Closet' Award: This was undoubtedly the most difficult choice of all the awards because of the plethora of deserving candidates. You had the Agenda Media's pacifism finally exposed in August of this month. Who could forget the media throng in Crawford watching Cindy's every move?

Still, there were other deserving candidates like Defeatist John Murtha, who'd been masquerading as a defense hawk inside the Democratic Party, showing his true colors when he announced his "immediate redeployment" plan the day before Veterans Day? Alas, we should've known since Murtha had previously shown his colors by urging President Clinton to pull out of Somalia in 1993.

Also deserving was the NYTimes. Not that it's a surprise that they're a liberal lefty rag but because they tried posing as a serious, patriotic rag. That ended with their breaking the NSA non-story. They proved that a huge budget to research complex issues doesn't mean they'll use it. They clearly didn't because they didn't even include relevant case law on the matter. As a result, they can't be taken seriously again.

Let's not leave the Washington Post feeling left out. They deserve recognition for their publishing the article about the CIA's 'dark sites' that they use for interrogating HVT's captured in Afghanistan and Iraq. They should be made to pay for publishing highly classified information like that. Then again, with readers running away in droves, maybe the American already are punishing them.

In the end, I've decided that I hate picking from so many worthy candidates. Besides, I'm feeling kinda like the socialist-liberal who doesn't want anyone to lose. For that reason, I'm giving this award to all of the above.

Time for a serious award. Next up is the 'Courage Under Fire' Award, given to the most courageous politician. This one is both serious and simple. Joe Lieberman runs away with this award for standing steadfast against his own pacifist party after his op-ed. Joe's been the only stand-up guy in the Democratic Party for some time now. At a time when everyone should recognize this man's courage, Kossacks and the people are threatening to run a primary challenger against him. They should be defeated and embarassed every opportunity we get.

Minority Leader of the Year Award: Obviously, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are the only candidates for this award. What's troublesome is that both have displayed vast amounts of stupidity, little backbone and virtually no common sense. What sets them apart, though, is that Ms. Pelosi hasn't said anything so reckless as Sen. Reid's "Just think what happened 20 minutes ago. We killed the Patriot Act" statement in front of a microphone on Dec. 15th. Lord knows that this duo of dunces deserve the award but I've got to give the award to Sen. Harry Reid.

Man of the Year Award: In past years, President Bush would've been the presumed frontrunner but he stumbled this year, with the Federal response to Katrina, his picking Harriet Meiers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor to his not hitting back after Democrats berated him over Iraq.

In my mind, there really is only one person deserving of this award: Chief Justice John Roberts.

Who can forget who unserious and silly he made Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats look during his three days of hearings? Or his understanding of the law without notes in front of him during the hearings? Or his winning debate after debate with Sen. Kennedy?

Those hearings were John Roberts' coming out party and he set the world afire in the hearings. It was a beautiful sight to behold. John Roberts deserves this award for taming the Democrats and making them look like idiots. Congratulations, Mr. Chief Justice.

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Impeach Him!!!

That's essentially what the Nation's Jonathan Schell is recommending. Here's a representative sampling from his hyperventillating article:
The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend? What need is there, for example, to pass or not pass the Patriot Act if any or all of its provisions can be secretly exceeded by the President?
I can't wait for the day when liberals like Jonathan Schell would actually read the Consstitution and to read whether there's case law on point on the issue. I also can't wait until someone asks Mr. Schell whether wartime presidents had authorized warrantless searches prior to FISA's enactment. If they did, by what power did they do this? Or do liberals like Mr. Schell think that FDR's Justice Department went into open court to get warrants for intercepts of calls originating in Germany and ending in New Jersey.

My wish for Mr. Schell is that Hugh Hewitt gives him a crash course in ConLaw so he doesn't sound so oblivious to the Constitution, which supercedes any legislation that Congress passes. It'd be wise for Mr. Schell to learn that legislation must comply with the dictates of the Constitution.
There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship. The Administration of George W. Bush is not a dictatorship, but it does manifest the characteristics of one in embryonic form. Until recently, these were developing and growing in the twilight world of secrecy. Even within the executive branch itself, Bush seemed to govern outside the normally constituted channels of the Cabinet and to rely on what Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff has called a "cabal."
Throw Mr. Schell a life preserver because he's just fallen into the deep end of the pool. The Bush administration isn't a dictatorship but it "manifest the characteristics of one in embryonic form." That's so over-the-top that it's hardly worth mentioning in serious conversation. Unfortunately, this thinking is what forms the base of today's Democratic Party.

It's even worse that he mentions Larry Wilkerson's moronic and elitist comments that the VICE PRESIDENT is heading a cabal to "hijack" U.S. foreign policy. From whom is Mr. Cheney hijacking it? From nobody bureaucrats like Mr. Wilkerson? I'd suggest to Mssrs. Wilkerson and Schell that they need a refresher course on the Constitution so that they'd know that the elected officials of the executive branch set policy, whether it's foreign or domestic policy.
He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law, I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is, and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it."
The depths of Mr. Schell's outrage is only exceeded by his lack of comprehension of the Constitution and his utter disregard for actual facts. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he's a contributor for the extremist ultra liberal publication of "The Nation" magazine. In fact, this is fairly temperate by their standards.

With these types of hyperventillating 'journalists' attempting to excoriate the President, he should have a great year by comparison.

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This past Thursday, I listened to Michael Barone, Mark Steyn and Fred Barnes talk about the year ahead for Republican candidates. It wasn't a nightmare scenario they painted but it wasn't pretty, either. This morning's readings brought me new optimism for the 2006 midterms.

First, I read an article by Bill Sammon in the Washington Times on the NSA leak investigation. Here's the key section:
Democrats plan to further criticize the administration during congressional hearings next year, and some are planning to highlight the issue in the 2006 congressional elections.
This is political disaster for the Democrats. Rasmussen's latest polls show that 64% of Americans support the NSA program, with 23% not approving. As Michael Barone said Thursday, "I'd like going into an election with a 64-23 issue on my side, and 68% say they're following the story closely. So that opinion's likely to be pretty solid." So would I and it appears as though some congressional Democrats are giftwrapping that issue for Republican candidates.

If that wasn't enough to brighten your perspective, then I give you the Democrats' latest national radio address, delivered by Nancy Pelosi. Check out this Pelosi quote:
"Religious leaders told Congress that they are drawing a moral line in the sand against the Republican budget's misplaced priorities."
What is she talking about, you ask? Here's the answer:
With this plan, she said, the government could wisely invest in issues that are important to Americans, such as education, health care and keeping energy costs down. Proposed spending cuts for these programs has drawn fiery debate in Congress in recent weeks. "We must draw a fiscal line in the sand. And we must join the religious community in drawing a moral line in the sand," Pelosi said. "Nothing less is at stake than the well-being of America's children, the strength and soundness of our economy, and the respect that America commands in the world."
There you have Ms. Pelosi's latest embarassment. "Religious leaders" say that we must draw a "moral line in the sand". I wonder if these "religious leaders" mentioned the Republican budget specifically or if Ms. Pelosi is just imagining that. If these "religious leaders" did say that, who are these "religious leaders"? Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn?

Notice that she didn't bother mentioning national security as an issue. This is extremely telling because I think she knows that that's a losing issue for Democrats. It's also apparent that they don't take national security seriously. I'll guarantee that won't play well in wartime.

The other question I'd pose if given the opportunity to interview Ms. Pelosi and like-minded Democrats is "How would you keep energy costs down if you aren't going to pass the bill allowing drilling in ANWR?" I'd further ask her specifically what is so awful about America's current investment into education. After all, funding has increased steadily and they've introduced standards that measures students' progress.

As the saying goes, "the devil's in the details." In Ms. Pelosi's budget, the devil's all over in the details.

Let me conclude that conservatives are fortunate that they'll be running against real live Democrats instead of an imaginery Democrat. We're equally fortunate that conservatives have the worst minority leaders and the worst DNC chairman in history to run against.

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Ex-CIA Big: Bill Clinton Authorized Extralegal Interrogations

Now doesn't that look interesting? I can't imagine Bill Clinton, being the saint that he's always been, doing "extralegal" things. Can you?
According to an Agence France Press summary of the Die Zeit interview, Scheuer explained that the Clinton administration "had been looking in the mid-1990s for a way to combat the terrorist threat and circumvent the cumbersome US legal system." The top Bin Laden hunter recalled that the extralegal directive came after "President Clinton, his national security advisor Sandy Berger and his terrorism advisor Richard Clarke ordered the CIA in the autumn of 1995 to destroy Al-Qaeda."
While I don't find it difficult to believe that Bill Clinton authorized "extralegal interrogations", I'm more than a little skeptical of the source of this article. Michael Scheuer isn't exactly trustworthy, in my opinion.
Scheuer's revelations contradict a much ballyhooed Nov. 2, 2005 report in the Washington Post, which insisted that "the secret detention system was conceived in the chaotic and anxious first months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." After mistakenly claiming that renditioning began under President Bush, the Post noted that "considerable concern lingers [within the CIA] about the legality, morality and practicality" of the program.
If Scheuer's telling the truth, then this would fly in the face of that Washington Post article. I'll take a wait-and-see attitude on this but I can't say that I'd be surprised if it turned out to be true. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything more.

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The Polling Must Be Conclusive

The polling must be conclusive if Hillary's finally speaking out on the NSA intercept 'program'. Then again, it might just be because she's blasting the Bush administration in a fundraising letter. One thing that's certain: when she's silent on a breaking issue, it's because she's waiting for the polling to inform her of the best-sounding position to take and nothing else. She should be ashamed of herself but shame isn't something that a Clinton feels.
After noting the NSA program, Mrs. Clinton vowed to fight for "national security policies that tell the truth and level with the American people." She also observed that "the values that made America in the 20th century not just the economic leader of the world, but the moral leader of the world are under attack today."
Hillary's right that "the values that made America in the 20th century not just the economic leader of the world, but the moral leader of the world are under attack today" but it's because out-to-lunch lefty Democrats are undermining them. They're undermining them whenever they tell us to leave Iraq. After all, keeping one's word is called honesty and that's a moral value that's been part of America for a couple of centuries. They're undermining our moral leadership by telling the world that our President is essentially a criminal solely for political gains.
Not a word about the NSA program, for instance, appears on Mrs. Clinton's official Senate web site, which covers her positions on everything from "inappropriate" video games to her recent statement on the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2006.
What's the matter, Mrs. Clinton? You speak out on a wide range of issues on your website but you don't mention this? Why not? Doesn't it fit into your carefully crafted centrist image? Or is your official Senate website sheer imagery and the fundraising letter the real you? Inquiring minds demand to know.

As long as she's speaking out on the NSA intercept program that the Bush administration is doing, why doesn't she decry the larger-scale and more randomly selected data-mining operations of her husband's administration? After all, Echelon and Carnivore were alot bigger. Didn't they intrude on Americans far more than Bush's narrowly focused spying?

Don't be shy now, Mrs. Clinton. We demand to know.

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Prayers Needed For FM

A Prayer Request From Captain Ed:
Prayers Needed For FM

Got some bad news today on the transplant front. The biopsy came back from the hospital, and the tissue shows a polyoma virus infection of the transplanted kidney, which has led to the lessened kidney function that we have seen the past few weeks. It often comes with the transplant, and normally healthy people don't have a problem with it as the body suppresses the virus without incident. However, when a patient is on immunosuppressive therapy as transplant patients are for life, this is always a potential threat.
The First Mate will have to go three days each of the next three weeks to the hospital for IV infusions of anti-virals, as well as add in more medication for fighting the infection. At the same time, the doctors have to lessen the immunosuppressive therapy somewhat to allow the body to fight the infection -- but which risks the kidney and pancreas that she received over the last year. It's a tightrope act, and for the next few weeks we'll have to just keep a close eye on her to make sure she comes through OK.
She has always appreciated your thoughts and prayers, so I thought I'd keep you updated. We could use a few of them now and for the next few weeks.
I strongly encourage all my readers to pray for Ed's beloved First Mate & to include Ed, their family & the medical personnel that they'll deal with in those prayers. I'd also strongly encourage people to stop past CQ & drop a little note to Ed in the comments. I'm sure he'll appreciate it.


News From the Iraqi Theater, Part V

U.S. Forces Focus More on Training Iraqis
U.S. troops in Baghdad will increasingly focus on training the Shiite-dominated special police forces, a top U.S commander in Iraq said Friday, reflecting efforts to quell ongoing friction among the country's ethnic factions.
In the coming months, he said, coalition forces "will be stepping back somewhat from the Iraqi army forces and assisting in greater numbers the Iraqi special police in Baghdad." Webster said the police training will focus in part on handling detainees.
In other comments, Webster said that while the number of U.S. casualties is about the same as a year ago, there are fewer successful attacks by the insurgency. A year ago, he said, up to 30 percent of the attacks caused injury or damage to coalition forces or Iraqi people, and now just 10 percent are successful.
This is welcome news because it proves that we're transitioning from a fighting force to a less visible force essentially training the people who will finish off the insurgents. It's also likely that this news should convince more people that the President's plan of a multi-track approach is the best plan.

Pace: U.S. to Launch Phased Iraq Pullout
Gen. Peter Pace said the current force of 160,000 would drop to below 138,000 by March, then U.S. commanders on the ground would work with the Iraqi government to determine the pace of future pullbacks in areas that have been secured by local security forces. "The bottom line will be that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police will gain in competence, that they will be able to take on more and more of the territory, whether or not there are still insurgents in that area," he said in an interview with a small group of reporters, including the AP, aboard a military plane en route to the United Arab Emirates.
This is an important and logical step in the war in Iraq. This should be seen as proof that more Iraqi security forces are getting trained, no matter what nonsense Slow Joe Biden mutters about. I predict that he'll claim that this is a PR move that doesn't truly represent the true facts on the ground.

What I'd like to know from Slow Joe is why he's saying these things. Does he think that the military isn't good at training troops? He's whined and complained that troops aren't getting trained fast enough, though he's quick to lay the blame on "Rumsefeld". Is it that he doesn't want to recognize the fact that it isn't Rumsfeld that trains the troops?

First Battle Space Transition in Ninevah Province
Over 500 soldiers from the Coalition Forces and the Iraqi Army came together for a battle-space assumption handover ceremony Dec. 27. For the first time within the Nineveh Province of Iraq, the 3/3/2 Iraqi Army assumed military control of battle-space. The Iraqi Army is fully engaged in the fight, and Iraq’s leadership will bring security and stability back to the nation and ultimately defeat the insurgency.
Teamwork Clearing Ramadi's Streets
Iraqi Army soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Division working alongside of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (28th Infantry Division) are clearing the streets of known insurgents in western Ramadi. In the past two days, 1-1-7 IA forces have detained five targeted insurgents, to include Jassim Mohammed Fayadh, a high value insurgent leader, allegedly responsible for financing terrorism in the Tammim neighborhood and known to have supplied arms and munitions to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
The four additional detainees are under investigation for coordinating insurgent attacks and activities, including the storage and transportation of weapon systems and munitions. “Our battalion has been working in western Ramadi with the Coalition Forces for the last eight months. During that time, we have fought and captured many insurgents. Yesterday was a big step to bringing safety and security to this area for our local citizens and their families. We will continue to work with our coalition partners to bring security to western Ramadi,” said Lt. Col. Mustafa, Commanding Officer, 1-1-7 IA.
The insurgents have been placed under custody of Coalition Forces and will be tried in the Iraqi Criminal Court system. There were no injuries to local Iraqi citizens, Iraqi Army soldiers or Coalition Forces. Additionally, there were no damages to equipment during the capture of these high level insurgent leaders.
This is welcome news. It sounds like the insurgents aren't causing much in the way of casualties, a sure sign that either the insurgency is losing steam (possible, though unlikely) or the Iraqi security forces are getting alot better.

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Fast Eddie's In Trouble

Ed Rendell is in big trouble and he's definitely scrambling. Here's why: The AP's Marc Levy has written an article about the new legislation that the Pennsylvania Senate passed requiring "Pennsylvania voters to show some form of identification at the polls or be forced to cast a provisional ballot." The Pennsylvania House had already passed a similar bill. If the House adopts this bill, then it goes to Gov. Rendell, who can then veto it or sign it.

If he signs it, which isn't at all certain, that means he could lose thousands of votes he'd get from out-of-staters and dead people. If he doesn't sign it, Lynn Swann and the Pennsylvania GOP will use that veto like a billy club on him from the minute he vetoes it straight to Election Day.

Here's what Kate Philips, Rendell's press secretary, is quoted as saying "The governor is concerned that identification requirements may discourage people from voting and eventually disenfranchise people."

Anyone around here buying that disenfranchisement argument? Here's how I'd translate that quote: "Gov. Rendell needs all the fraudulent votes he can get. Anything that stands in his way of that is something that he'd have grave concerns about. It shouldn't matter if the legislation makes sense. Anything that stands in the way of that will be framed in civil rights language, even if the most important factor in it is running clean elections."

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US Probes Eavesdropping Leak

Reuters' Deborah Charles is reporting that the Justice Department is initiating an investigation into who leaked the "highly classified" information about the warrantless wiretapping program. I'm only surprised that it took this long.
A 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, makes it illegal to spy on U.S. citizens in the United States without the approval of a special, secret court. Bush secretly gave the NSA authority to intercept communications without such approval.
I've had 2 questions gnawing at me that I'm attempting to get answered from a couple contacts I've got, namely, did Article II of the Constitution give the president power to surveil communications without warrants? If he did, wouldn't that trump any restrictions that FISA might attempt to put on those powers? When I find the answers to those questions, I'll post an update. If there's an attorney who reads this, I'd welcome your input into this.

It seems to me that everyone's pointing to FISA as the sole governing principal involved in this issue. My question is: What was the governing principal before FISA was enacted in 1978? Did the President have the power to surveil foreign communications without a warrant before FISA and what authority granted him that power?

The reason I ask that is this: If he didn't have that authority before FISA, then how could he carry out his oath of office? After all, it doesn't suggest that he protect us "from all enemies, foreign or domestic"; it mandates that he do that. If he couldn't get a warrant on these wiretaps, how could he protect us from those who secretly tried to harm our nation?

UPDATE: AJ Strata has a great insight into the issue of FISA, warrantless wiretaps and the Fourth Amendment that's must-reading. Here's the main quote from the article:
Several types of search and seizure have long been considered appropriate under the Fourth Amendment, even when not supported by warrant. In particular, the principle of “hot pursuit” has been applied, where, if the police are chasing a fugitive and they see him take refuge in your house, they can enter your house without a warrant and make an arrest. In addition, searches of your person and effects at airports, courthouses, and other public buildings are considered reasonable because of the security threat, and because you’re voluntarily entering the area that requires the search. So, warrantless searches are legal if they’re considered “reasonable.”

Now, if you re-read the Fourth Amendment, you’ll see that it applies to your “person, house, papers, and effects,” but not to your communications. However, in 1967, an activist Supreme Court twisted the constitution to make it say what they thought it should say. Since then, warrants are required for some wiretaps. It seems that the Supremes assumed that the Founding Fathers didn’t mention communications in the Fourth Amendment because there were no communications in 1789, not realizing that the Constitution expressly authorized Congress to set up the Post Office without making mail secure from government snooping. Be that as it may, in the 1967 case, the Supremes noted that warrant requirements do not apply to issues of national security.
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Upon Further Review

Jack Kelly has written another must-read column for Jewish World Review. Here's a sampling:
"Mainstream media giants like the Washington Post repeatedly claim to have layers and layers of editors and fact checkers to make sure only verified facts get into the daily newspaper. This process is allegedly why (journalists) are superior to bloggers in getting it first and getting it right," said Mark Tapscott, a former journalist who now works for the Heritage Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "Finer and Struck are experienced journos, but their reporting in this instance contained so many errors of basic fact that one wonders how on earth this example of their work made it into print," Tapscott said. The answer, as Mr. Tapscott well knows, is that editors are less vigilant in fact-checking stories which advance their agenda.
That's why I consider most of the 'reporters' for the Washington Post, NY Times & the AP to be the core of the Agenda Media. The reality is that these "layers of editors" are either asleep at the switch (unlikely) or they're hell-bent on advancing their agenda, whether it costs their paper readership (and thereby advertising revenue) or whether it costs the reporters their reputations. The agenda is the only thing that's important to them.

It's also apparent for everyone to see that bloggers police their own ranks with extraordinary efficiency. They simply get things right the vast majority of times and most bloggers link to their source documents or reports. When I link to a politician's speech, my readers can examine the transcript to see whether I took a key phrase out of context or if I'm merely highlighting a major point.

Since I pride myself on being accurate and on not taking statements out of context, I believe, as I'm certain most bloggers believe, that the more I'm scrutinized, the more favorably I compare to the Agenda Media. After all, those that get it right the first and second and third times are the ones who need't worry about the scrutiny. It's the Agenda Media, whose articles read more like propaganda than anything, who should be worried about the scrutiny.

Unless and until the Agenda Media wakes up to that fact, they'll continue to be clueless as to why their profits are shrinking and their readership is less loyal.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Black Lawmakers Vow to Repeal GA Voter Law

Neal Boortz is gonna go nuts when he reads that headline. So will Bill O'Reilly. The AP's Errin Haines writes:
At the end of a losing battle during the past legislative session, Georgia state Rep. Alisha Thomas-Morgan burst into the civil rights anthem "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around" to protest the passage of a law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. In the next session starting Jan. 9, the 27-year-old black Democrat says she will not be moved in her fight to get the law repealed. "It's whatever it takes," Morgan said. "I'm putting on the armor. Nothing they can do will fix the bill. It's a bad law and it needs to be repealed. We're not going backwards."
Perhaps someone should explain to Ms. Morgan that they aren't going backwards and that this law is merely to prevent voter fraud.
Republican Sen. Cecil Staton, the legislation's chief Senate sponsor, is proposing to amend the law during the upcoming session. He said he is willing, among other things, to make the state-issued IDs free for the asking. "I don't want there to be a hardship any more than necessary for voters, but I don't think it's too much to ask that when you come in to vote, you help us see that you are who you say you are," Staton said. He added: "Most Georgians think this is common sense, including African-Americans."
This makes perfect sense, which is likely why Democrats don't like it. As Mr. Staton notes, African-Americans think this is common sense. It won't be long before that voting block comes to realize that the old 'Civil Rights' Democrats haven't done a thing for them since the early 70's.
However, black legislators are promising to fight any plan that does not repeal the law, and they are getting support from the AARP, the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "This is a fight that has to be fought. A whole lot of folks have expended a lot of blood, sweat and tears to protect voting rights. It's a fundamental issue," said Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat.
Then you'll lose, Mr. Fort. The usual suspects don't have the clout to create monolithic voting habits like they used to. As a result of improving technology and an emerging black middle class, most African-Americans can think for themselves and don't see themselves as victims. They'd rather win than complain.

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Let's Go Bowling Tomorrow

I'm planning on a morning of bowling tomorrow. As in the Music City Bowl from Nashville, TN. As in the college football bowl game that my almost mighty Golden Gophers have played in 3 of the past 4 years.

Earlier, I wrote about the blizzard we're expecting Thursday night. What that blizzard amounts to is that it's a great excuse for me to watch Laurence Mauroney's last game as a Golden Gopher. I wonder if Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds will make the trek to watch.

For those of us who are NFL Draft junkies, the game will showcase two players who will likely be drafted in the top 10 picks this year in Mauroney and Virginia's D'Brickashaw Ferguson, an elite level offensive tackle who will be a top 3 pick, most likely going to Houston's Texans.

The game should be extremely high-scoring, with neither team having much of a defense and with my Gophers having one of the best running games in the nation the past 3 years running. I'll predict that Mauroney will get upwards of 200 yards rushing tomorrow, if he stays healthy, and with Gary Russell, his 'backup', getting another 150+ yards.

Either way, treat yourself to what I think will be the funnest bowl game to watch other than the Texas-USC national championship game.

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Batten Down the Hatches

Don't look now, Minnesota, but we're in for some serious snowfall tonight. KSTP-TV's Weatherbug says that we're to expect 3-5" of snow overnight, with the snow ending around noon Friday.

For those of you who haven't downloaded it, I'd strongly recommend you download KSTP-TV's Weatherbug program. It's a valuable tool in keeping track of the weather. I personally have it running all day since it's easy on my computer and because I want to know about changes in the weather. (I think that's part of being an information junkie.)

In a related story, the AP is reporting big snowfall and strong winds in Colorado. Here's the important details of that article:
A winter storm packing snow and wind gusts to 75 mph blew across the Colorado Rockies on Thursday, knocking down trees, causing accidents and shutting down roads including heavily traveled Interstate 70 west of Denver. Drivers slowed to a crawl on icy, snow-packed roads in the mountains an hour outside Denver. Vehicles slid off the highway near Georgetown and farther west, on Vail Pass, said Eric Escudero of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Aspen reported a half-mile visibility as snow fell, the National Weather Service said. Copper Mountain Ski Resort reported 6 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours Thursday afternoon, and the Loveland ski area at the Continental Divide reported 9. South of Denver, a wind gust of 75 mph was reported near Chatfield Reservoir as the storm reached the metropolitan area, spitting out rain and snow and sending dust blowing through the streets of downtown. The highest gust at Denver International Airport was 64 mph.
It doesn't say what track this Colorado storm is taking but it wouldn't surprise me if it headed towards Minnesota, though it's more likely to hit Iowa instead.

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The Greatest Man of My Lifetime

I'd like to start this article by thanking Alexandra at All Things Beautiful for inspiring me to write this article. Alexandra is asking for people to submit a list of their 10 worst Americans of alltime. If you ask how that caused me to write this, my answer is simple:

We're closing in on the start of a new year and I choose to be optimistic, not pessimistic.
Like Ronald Reagan, I choose to believe that our best days as a nation, and my best days as an individual, are still ahead. Why do I choose to beleive that? Simple. I believe in an omnipotent and all loving God who created everything.

With that preface to naming my 'Greatest Man' now finished, I present to you the remarkable Ronald Wilson Reagan. Over the years, liberals mocked him as another "amiable dunce", nice enough but he just wasn't that sophisticated.

The centerpiece of his thinking was his belief that America is a great country because God had blessed this country in ways that no other country had been blessed. Ronald Wilson Reagan was a bornagain Christian and he lived his life that way.

Think of how he won the presidency: Jimmy Carter had just spent 4 years running America into the ground. He was seen on the world stage as a well-intentioned wimp, impotent in the face of Ayatollah Khomeini. We all remember the accounts of the helicopters crashing in the desert on what was supposed to be a mission to liberate the Teheran embassy hostages. But Carter wasn't satisfied with just being an impotent foreign policy president. He also had us believe that gas was in short supply and expensive forevermore, that we had to settle for decreasing buying power and America's mediocrity.

Reagan saw that opinion and bristled. That wasn't the America that he'd seen. And he knew that America, a place that built a transcontinental railroad without the use of a map, where buildings reached to the sky, where architectural masterpieces like the Golden Gate Bridge were seen, was a place of exceptionalism. And he wasn't bashful about it.

So how did Reagan live his life? His speech at the 1992 Republican Convention illustrates it as well as anywhere. In concluding that speech, he said
My fellow citizens, those of you here in this hall and those of you at home, I want you to know that I have always had the highest respect for you, for your common sense and intelligence and for your decency. I have always believed in you and in what you could accomplish for yourselves and for others.
And whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way.
My fondest hope for each one of you, and especially for the young people here, is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here. May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism. And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill."
The cliche says that an optimist sees a glass as half full, the pessimist sees it as half empty and than an engineer sees it and says that you're using the wrong-sized glass. Ronald Reagan didn't subscribe to that cliche. Because he believed that "With God, all things are possible", he would instead have asked 'Why do we have to accept a glass that's only half full? Why can't it be full and overflowing?'

For Ronald Wilson Reagan, he didn't see things as they were and just accept that to be the inevitable. He saw the Soviet Union as a repressive state and he called it an "Evil Empire", causing millions of liberals to cower and some of them to predict that he'd lead us into an escalation of the Cold War, which, in their view, was unwinnable. To an extent, they were right. Using the same tired logic and policies, it was unwinnable. Call it Jimmy Carter Impotence Syndrome for lack of a better term.

Reagan knew that it was the Soviet Union that couldn't survive that escalation because their economy wasn't a free market economy. While he knew that America's economy was based on the proposition of 'guns and butter', he knew that the Soviet's economy was that of 'guns OR butter'.

He also knew that, because the Bible story is laced with stories of liberation, that freedom appealed to everyone in the world. His strategy to push the Soviets on this front was Biblical-based. And it was ultimately successful. Wildly successful.

Reagan's famous closing of "whatever else history may say about me when I'm gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty's lamp guiding your steps and opportunity's arm steadying your way." is typical of his thinking. He inspired people to dream big again when others said that America's best days were behind us.

He knew, deep down in his soul, that "liberty's lamp" was the best guiding system in existence, whether it was energy independence or freedom from tyranny for our Latin American neighbors or liberty for millions of souls yearning to be freed from Soviet oppression.

Another source of my admiration for "Ronaldus Magnus" is that he understood that, though he valued the privacy of his California ranch, he was a public man. Who can forget the letter he wrote announcing to the entire world that he had Alzheimers? Here's a portion of that moving letter:
At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life's journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.
Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.
WOW!!! He starts that passage by saying that God is the one who determines how long he'd live and that he intended to live his life doing the "things I have always done", at least until Alzheimers would take that away from him.

His concern for himself was minimal at best and quite possibly non-existent. His concern was, as was typical of him, that he wished he could spare Nancy "from this painful experience." It was that gentleness that caused people to admire him as a man, not just as a politician.

So how did Reagan's Christianity influence his political policies and his public actions? Simply put, Ronald Reagan believed that, if you lived your life by Biblical beliefs, that if you believed in an omnipotent God whose love was unconditional, then God would direct you where you needed to go.

Ronald Reagan's policy for pushing the Soviets into oblivion came from the story of God delivering Israel out of Egypt at a time when Egypt was seen as the most powerful nation on earth.

Ronald Reagan's cheeriness was a by-product of the security he felt from his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Reagan's beliefs weren't tossed about by that day's biggest stories. They were steadfast because of how solidly they were anchored in God's omnipotence, which he considered to be the only source he needed for strength.

His gentle good humor was legendary and a by-product of a heart that was lightened by his belief that God would take deliver him from the usual burdens that most people felt. Here's a healthy dose of Reagan's humor from his 1992 speech at the Republican Convention in Houston:
I heard those speakers at that other convention saying "we won the Cold War", and I couldn't help wondering, just who exactly do they mean by "we"? And to top it off, they even tried to portray themselves as sharing the same fundamental values of our party! What they truly don't understand is the principle so eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln: "You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
If we ever hear the Democrats quoting that passage by Lincoln and acting like they mean it, then, my friends, we will know that the opposition has really changed. Until then, we see all that rhetorical smoke, billowing out from the Democrats, well ladies and gentlemen, I'd follow the example of their nominee. Don't inhale. This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And governor, you're no Thomas Jefferson.
With a smile on his face and joy in his heart, he utterly dissected William Jefferson Clinton. I suspect that America laughed with him when he did it, too.

I suspect that, if we could rewrite history, if Reagan and Clinton would run against each other, that Reagan would clobber Clinton, though I'd doubt that he'd win by the same margin as he beat Mondale. There's no doubt in my mind that Clinton would stand a good chance of winning at least 4 or 5 states instead of Mondale's carrying Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

I'd be remiss if I didn't include something from Reagan's most famous speech so here it is:
In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: "We will bury you." But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind, too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.
Here's the most unforgettable line from that speech:
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Reagan understood how inadequate and lacking the Soviet foundation was because it didn't rely on liberty and because it didn't give workers the incentive to work hard and innovate.

In this respect, Reagan, the bornagain Christian, and George W. Bush, bornagain Christian, understand the healing power of liberty. This isn't to suggest that only bornagain Christians understand liberty. In fact, I'd assert that a great many Jewish dissidents understood the power of liberty. I'd offer Natan Sharansky's book "The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror" as proof positive that evangelical Christians and the Jewish people share this belief.

Reagan never stopped reaching for the stars, even when people said he couldn't reach them. More often than not, he proved his critics wrong. For that reason alone, he ranks as "The Greatest Man of My Lifetime."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Trent Lott Eyes Senate Leadership?

When I first read this headline, I thought that this must've been instigated by the delusional Agenda Media trying to create a rift in the Republican Party. It still might be but it appears that Sen. Lott still would like to regain a position of power in the Senate Republican caucus. Here's proof:
But he recently told the Sun Herald in Mississippi that if re-elected he might run for a Senate leadership post "just to make everybody nervous." Back in July, NewsMax reported that Lott had set his sights on the job of party whip, the No. 2 GOP post.
If he thinks he'd be a viable candidate, then he's obviously delusional. Jon Kyl will move into the Majority Whip position when Mitch McConnell gets elected Senate Majority Leader after the 06 midterm elections.
His decision could determine whether Republicans retain control of the Senate next year, according to nationally syndicated columnist Robert Novak. GOP officials in Mississippi believe Lott will probably retire, and they fear that would leave the door open for former State Attorney General Mike Moore, a Democrat, to win his Senate seat, Novak reports.
I don't doubt that "GOP officials in Mississippi" told Novak this but I don't find it credible that Mike Moore would defeat Skip Pickering if Lott retired. I don't have any public opinion polls to support that but I've heard that Mr. Pickering ran an impressive campaign last time and is a rising star in the Mississippi GOP.

It's also worth noting that Haley Barbour's influence with party activists would be a huge advantage in fundraising. That's something that shouldn't be discounted in an open seat. Campaigning with Barbour, who is a popular governor, would also benefit Pickering.

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Court Asks for Response to DeLay Motion

Tom DeLay's defense team is turning up the heat on sleazy Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle. Here's the details of that story:
The state's highest criminal court has asked prosecutors to respond to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's request that the charges against him be dismissed. The all-Republican appeals court on Tuesday gave prosecutors a week to submit arguments regarding the request filed Friday by DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin. The court will decide whether to take the case after the prosecutors' response is received.
In his motion, DeGuerin argues the indictments against his client are factually baseless. A spokesman for Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
As I've said before, I'm not a lawyer but it sounds like the court is trying to ascertain whether Earle is just stringing the case out so Tom DeLay can't regain his Majority Leader position or if he's actually got some evidence to support the charges.

If the court finds that this is just a stalling tactic, they might well dismiss Earle's actions as political in nature instead of them being the actions of a serious prosecutor attempting to convict a criminal.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Unwarranted Complaints

Former Justice Department lawyers David Rivkin and Lee Casey wrote an op-ed in Tuesday's NY Times that's must reading if you want a clear picture of what the warrantless wiretap story is about. Let's get started with this:
The president has the constitutional authority to acquire foreign intelligence without a warrant or any other type of judicial blessing. The courts have acknowledged this authority, and numerous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, have espoused the same view. The purpose here is not to detect crime, or to build criminal prosecutions, areas where the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirements are applicable, but to identify and prevent armed attacks on American interests at home and abroad. The attempt, by Democrats and Republicans alike, to dismantle the president's core constitutional power in wartime is wrongheaded and should be vigorously resisted by the administration.
This is a key paragraph because it points out why the Fourth Amendment isn't applicable and because it points out the history of warrantless wiretaps. These are vitally important if we're to grasp what's happening as opposed to what's alleged.
Indeed, it is highly doubtful whether individuals involved in a conflict have any "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their communications, which is the touchstone of protection under both the Fourth Amendment and the surveillance act itself, anymore than a tank commander has a reasonable expectation of privacy in his communications with his commanders on the battlefield. The same goes for noncombatants swept up in the hostilities.
It's impossible to ignore this point. The Fourth Amendment doesn't demand warrants if the searches are deemed reasonable. It's impossible to find a situation where interception of communications is more reasonable than in preventing attacks from foreign powers.
More to the point, the surveillance act was designed for the intricate "spy versus spy" world of the cold war, where move and countermove could be counted in days and hours, rather than minutes and seconds. It was not drafted to deal with the collection of intelligence involving the enemy's military operations in wartime, when information must be put to immediate use.
It's important to note that FISA was seen as a tool for the Cold War, where time wasn't the issue. That renders FISA useless in situations where immediate action is needed.
The Constitution designates the president as commander in chief, and Congress can no more direct his exercise of that authority than he can direct Congress in the execution of its constitutional duties.
Sen. Kennedy says that President Bush shouldn't think of himself as "King George", yet that's what the Constitution allows in terms of war-fighting. Wartime presidents have considerably greater power as it pertains to fighting the war. That power doesn't extend into domestic policies and for good reason.

It's natural for Congress to get bent out of shape on this issue because they like being the people who debate what's allowed and what isn't. The President's war powers aren't subject to legislative review because they're granted by the Constitution. The proper check to the President's war powers is the Supreme Court, not the legislative branch. To think otherwise is arrogant.

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A Blog-Savvy Chairman?

I just read a Newsmax article that quotes Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins & Lamar Alexander as liking the idea of blog savvy Sen. John Thune to chair the NRSC for the 2008 elections. Frankly, I think that putting him in charge of recruiting candidates and fundraising would be a masterstroke for Republicans.

As a neighbor of Sen. Thune's native South Dakota, I've watched, at a bit of a distance, the impressive campaigns he ran, first against Sen. Tim Johnson, then the picture-perfect campaign he ran that eliminated Senate Minority Leader Whatshisname.

An additional bonus to a Thune chairmanship is that he's very blog-savvy, which would be a major assist in the 08 elections. Sen. Thune tapped into the blogosphere's energy to outmanuever Sen. Whatshisname at every turn, including the court challenge to putting monitors at Indian reservations to make sure that nothing dishonest happened there.

I've written emails to Sens. Alexander, Collins and McConnell encouraging them to recommend Sen. Thune for that position. I also intend on emailing other senators to do the same. I'd encourage other bloggers and blog readers to do the same with their senators.

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Sen. Schumer Sets Sights High for 2006

In what might be their biggest propaganda piece of the year, the AP takes dictation from Chuck Schumer on next year's midterm elections. Here's a stunning example of their Pravda-like 'reporting':
Schumer, the head of Senate Democrats' campaign efforts, said Tuesday he is focusing on seven states where he believes they can take GOP-held Senate seats in 2006: Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Arizona. "If the stars align right we could actually take back the Senate," Schumer said.
It'd be more accurate if he said that "If enough Republicans in Tennesee, Arizona, Montana, Missouri & Ohio move out AND we get lucky and hold onto the open seats in Minnesota and Maryland AND if the dead vote increases in Michigan and Washington turns out like we hope, we might have a shot at reducing the margin between Democrats and Republicans."

As I pointed out last night, vulnerable Democrats include Bill Nelson of Florida, Maria Cantwell of Washington and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Then factor in the vulnerability of the open seats in Maryland and Minnesota, where Republicans have recruited great candidates and it's suddenly apparent that the Senate will stay in Republican control awhile longer. Quite awhile longer. In fact, the worst outcome I can see for Republicans is to maintain their current edge in seats.

Democrats are pointing to Tennessee, Missouri and Montana as potential pickups. PLEASE. Talent is well-liked and articulate. He'll win, though not with a huge margin. Conrad Burns is a solid conservative in a solidly conservative state and he's been winning Senate races since before I was eligible to vote. At one point, I gave Harold Ford, Jr. a shot at winning Bill Frist's seat but that was before he became a liberal apologist for John Kerry and Harry Reid. That won't fly in Tennessee. While Tennessee isn't as conservative as other southern states, it isn't liberal, either, and that's how Ford's perceived.
Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University politics professor, said the conditions in Tennessee may be ripe for a Democratic win. "People think this race would lean Republican, all other things being equal. But it's in play," said Oppenheimer. "For the Democrats, it's certainly doable."
Prof. Oppenheimer couldn't be more wrong. I suspect that he's basing his opinion on Ford's past image, not on his current image. Don't quote me on this but I think the Republicans have recruited Ed Bryant, a popular former congressman, to run against Ford. If that's true, that makes it even harder for Ford to win.
"I can say, without any amount of puffing, that no one was more responsible for our working out the Patriot Act to our satisfaction and to the benefit of the country than Schumer," Reid said.
Sen. Reid inadvertantly points to the albatross that Republicans will hang around every Democratic challenger's neck: his quote that "Think about what just happened 20 minutes ago. We killed the Patriot Act." Spin it any way you want, Mr. Reid, but that's gonna be a daily diet for Democrats this fall. Between that quote and Pelosi endorsing Murtha's plan for unintentional surrender in Iraq, this should be a difficult thing to defend against.

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Story of the Year

According to Michael Medved, it's the "crash of confidence in media", best exemplified in the 'reporting' in Katrina's aftermath. Writing in today's Jewish World Review, Medved says:
Hysterical news accounts, initially exaggerating dead victims by a factor of more than 10 to one, demonstrated the irresponsible nature of U.S. media. Similarly, news coverage of the Iraq war always emphasizes the negative, downplaying all positive developments. More and more in 2005, the public distrusted mainstream media, with opinion surveys showing journalists even less trusted than politicians.
That's a devastating paragraph when you consider how low people think of politicians, especially congressional Democrats, whose approval ratings are in the 20's. I could cite a number of examples of how irresponsible they've been but one that leaps to mind is Michael Isikoff's line from Hardball:

Isikoff proudly said the following:
But also, Senator Warner had a press conference about this today and wasn’t very conclusive. He said, look, he went to this briefing with other people at the pentagon who said we have to get the word out that schools are opening and hospitals are opening and nobody is covering that. Sounds like every politician is complaining about the press. Well, welcome to the news biz. We don’t cover hospital and school openings. We cover bombings.
Mr. Isikoff, don't you think it's time you did? Or don't you think this is something that the public "has a right to know"? After all, every story on a politician's personal life is justified with the media mantra of "The public has a right to know." If that applies to personal lives, why doesn't it apply to information that would inform the public on the most serious issues of the day?

As for Katrina's 'reporting', I'd call that the worst black eye the Agenda Media's ever gotten. And they think it was their shining moment. Witness this exchange between Hugh Hewitt and his other panelists on the "Newshour with Jim Lehrer":
JEFFREY BROWN: Keith Woods in terms of telling the whole story, what did you like & what did you dislike?
KEITH WOODS: Well, I did like the aggressiveness of the journalists throughout, I liked the fact that for a good part of this reporting the journalists brought themselves to the reporting a sense of passion, a sense of empathy, a sense of understanding that they were not telling an ordinary story any more than the Sept. 11 attacks were an ordinary story. So I like the fact that journalism understood the size of this story from the very beginning & brought to bear the kinds of resources & the kind of passion in the coverage that we saw.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, Mr. Hewitt, same question, what did you like & what did you dislike?
HUGH HEWITT: Well, Keith just said they didn't report an ordinary story; in fact they were reporting lies. The central part of this story, what went on at the convention center & the Superdome was wrong. American media threw everything they had at this story, all the bureaus, all the networks, all the newspapers, everything went to New Orleans, & yet they couldn't get inside the convention center, they couldn't get inside the Superdome to dispel the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting.
I have in mind especially the throat-slashed seven-year-old girl who had been gang-raped at the convention center, didn't happen. In fact, there were no rapes at the convention center or the Superdome that have yet been corroborated in any way.
There weren't stacks of bodies in the freezer. But America was riveted by this reporting, wholesale collapse of the media's own levees they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in this own emotionalism. Exactly what Keith was praising I think led to one of the worst weeks of reporting in the history of American media...
I think that sums things up perfectly. The Agenda Media: They just can't be trusted.

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Leahy Smackdown

It was with great delight that I read about Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), getting smacked down. This time, it was a Clinton Administration official that administered the smackdown. Here's the smackdown:
On Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, chided reporters for suggesting that Clinton ordered the same kinds of surveillance of U.S. citizens as Bush. Leahy claimed in a press conference that Clinton acted under an "entirely different power. If you go back to Clinton and (President Jimmy) Carter, those are searches under a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) provision into embassies, foreign embassies, things of that nature," Leahy argued. "It's an entirely different situation."
That isn't how John Schmidt sees it:
FBI agents were allowed to break into the home of 31-year CIA veteran Aldrich Ames in 1993 to install eavesdropping devices. An FBI summary of the case described it this way: "FBI Special Agents and Investigative Specialists conducted intensive physical and electronic surveillance of Ames during a ten-month investigation. Searches of Ames's residence revealed documents and other information linking Ames to the Russian foreign intelligence service."
That doesn't sound like a warrantless search of a foreign embassy, does it? It's pretty easy to make a case that Mr. Ames' home isn't a foreign embassy, though I'm sure that he talked with foreign intelligence on a frequent basis. That isn't quite the same, though.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a problem with them doing this with Mr. Ames. Getting a double agent out of the intelligence loop is certainly a worthwhile use of a warrantless wiretap. In cases of extreme consequences, you've got to do whatever it takes to eliminate the problem.

The Washington Post's Jim McGee and U.S. News & World Report's Brian Duffy had much more detail:
"In the early morning hours of an autumn morning in 1993, an unmarked government sedan rolled slowly down an empty tree-lined street in Arlington. The FBI agents inside parked just up from a handsome two-story home. The agents knew the place well.
"Three months earlier, an FBI team had gone inside to bug the place. That operation had been a quick in and out. This time the agents planned to stay for a while. The owners were out of town on vacation. The house was vacant," the pair wrote. "With several hours to go before dawn, the FBI team slipped inside. They had with them the necessary equipment, but they did not have a warrant."
That certainly sounds like Leahy's argument isn't based in truth but in bluster. That won't cut it but it's fair to say that he's just trying to cast the Clinton episode in its most favorable light, which is something that all congressmen have done over their careers.

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Congressional Meddling (Media Meddling, Too)

I wonder what the poll results would be if a Rasmussen or Gallup asked the question "Should the president be given extensive powers in fighting wars?" Similarly, I wonder what the results would be if they asked "Did the Founding Fathers see the need to give the Commander-in-Chief wide latitude in fighting wars?" I suspect that you'd see 80% support for giving the Commander-in-Chief "extensive powers in fighting wars" and that "the Founding Fathers see the need to give the Commander-in-Chief wide latitude in fighting wars."

Common sense, something sadly lacking in the Agenda Media, tells us that militaries that work best are based on order and based on giving the generals alot of power in formulating battle plans but also in implementing battle plans. Common sense dictates that the Commander-in-Chief should be given all the power he needs to do what his oath of office mandates: to protect us from ALL ENEMIES, foreign and domestic.

As a literalist, I find it easy to make the case that the Founding Fathers meant for the Commander-in-Chief to protect us from all enemies, not just the ones who fight with conventional means. That means that the Founding Fathers envisioned a strong Commander-in-Chief. They envisioned it because they anticipated the need to take bold steps, unconventional steps really, in protecting this nation. They saw the need to not fight wars where consensus is reached but rather with someone at the top who was dictator-like in that he gives the orders, the others follow his lead.

That's why I find it so irritating that Congress, the Senate especially, is trying to limit the President's ability to wage war against a totally unconventional enemy. It's been Congress's habit for at least a generation to limit the President's Commander-in-chief powers, having its modern roots in the Vietnam protests.

Ted Kennedy's Boston Globe op-ed is the perfect case in point on Congress's overreaching. He starts by saying
"The President is not above the law; he is not King George. Yet, with sorrow, we are now learning that in this great land we have an administration that has refused to follow well-crafted, longstanding procedures that require the president to get a court order before spying on people within the United States. With outrage, we learn that this administration believes that it does not have to follow the law of the land. Not just above the law, this administration seems to be saying that it IS the law."
Sen. Kennedy would do well to understand that President Bush, as all other wartime presidents, have great powers at his fingertips, including the right of censorship in certain instances. While the Founding Fathers were perfectly happy seeing a relatively weak president on the day-to-day operations of the government (the power of the purse being controlled by Congress is an example), it saw the need for a strong president in wartime.

One of the things that's necessary in any war, but especially in this war, is the need to gather intelligence so our lethal assets can be used most efficiently. Whether that involves overseas intercepts of calls between New Jersey and Kandahar or calls between Kabul and south Florida, isn't the main point to collect that intelligence?

Sen. Kennedy will argue that the President need only have the government's lawyers get a rubberstamped warrant for these activities. That's a mischaracterization at best and a bald-faced lie at worst. Here's what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said about how 'rubberstamped' those warrants are:
A review of Justice Department reports to Congress shows that the 26-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court modified more wiretap requests from the Bush administration than from the four previous presidential administrations combined.

The court's repeated intervention in Bush administration wiretap requests may explain why the president decided to bypass the court nearly four years ago to launch secret National Security Agency spying on hundreds and possibly thousands of Americans and foreigners inside the United States, according to James Bamford, an acknowledged authority on the supersecret NSA, which intercepts telephone calls, e-mails, faxes and Internet communications.

"They wanted to expand the number of people they were eavesdropping on, and they didn't think they could get the warrants they needed from the court to monitor those people," said Bamford..."The FISA court has shown its displeasure by tinkering with these applications by the Bush administration."
Does that sound like a rubberstamp to you? Further, does this sound like the President was out to take an indiscriminent peek at Joe Public's health and library records? Of course it doesn't. It's obvious that President Bush was trying to uncover sleeper cells already inside the U.S. and to possibly pinpoint terrorist hideouts in Kabul or Tora Bora. It's equally obvious that these intercepts involved terrorists on at least one end of the line.

The P-I article continues, saying
"The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act...sets a high standard for court-approved wiretaps on Americans and resident aliens inside the United States.

To win a court-approved wiretap, the government must show "probable cause" that the target of the surveillance is a member of a foreign terrorist organization or foreign power and is engaged in activities that "may" involve a violation of criminal law.

Faced with that standard, Bamford said, the Bush administration had difficulty obtaining FISA court-approved wiretaps on dozens of people within the United States who were communicating with targeted al-Qaida suspects inside the United States.
What are President Bush's options if he can't get the wiretaps approved via FISA? To not wiretap or to go around FISA. Not wiretapping communications between suspected AQ sleeper cells isn't really an option because it leaves us totally vulnerable to further terrorist attacks. Going around FISA, though extraordinary, is the only option.

Considering the lethal capabilities of AQ's terrorists, ignoring them simply wasn't an option. I'd further suggest that the American people would've been furious at the President if he hadn't taken every step to prevent additional attacks.

Complicit in this tempest in the teapot is the Agenda Media, which thinks that the President, especially this President, should be weak and almost subservient to Congressional Democrats. Simply put, that isn't acceptable.

In the end, people will look back and wonder what the tempest was all about. That's a black eye waiting to happen for Democrats.

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