Tuesday, July 31, 2007

James Clyburn in today's WaPo on the Democrat's need for failure in Iraq

What a shameful position Democrat's find themselves in now. That an American victory paid with Americans blood and lives would become a big problem for them. Read today's WaPo: Positive Report by Petraeus Could Split House Democrats on War
Many Democrats have anticipated that, at best, Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker would present a mixed analysis of the success of the current troop surge strategy, given continued violence in Baghdad. But of late there have been signs that the commander of U.S. forces might be preparing something more generally positive. Clyburn said that would be "a real big problem for us."
Update: Good news so hard to bear, Rep Boyda had to leave the Armed Services hearing until it was over.

Hugh Hewitt's interview with NYT's John Burns

From Hugh Hewitt's must read interview with NYT's Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns.
HH: One of the arguments for those favoring a timeline for withdrawal that’s written in stone is that it will oblige the Iraqi political class to get serious about such things as the oil revenue division. Do you believe that’s an accurate argument?


JB: Well, you would think it would be so, wouldn’t you, that the threat of withdrawal of American troops, and the risk of a slide into catastrophic levels of violence, much higher than we’ve already seen, would impel the Iraqi leadership to move forward. But there’s a conundrum here. There’s a paradox. That’s to say the more that the Democrats in the Congress lead the push for an early withdrawal, the more Iraqi political leaders, particularly the Shiite political leaders, but the Sunnis as well, and the Kurds, are inclined to think that this is going to be settled, eventually, in an outright civil war, in consequence of which they are very, very unlikely or reluctant, at present, to make major concessions. They’re much more inclined to kind of hunker down. So in effect, the threats from Washington about a withdrawal, which we might have hoped would have brought about greater political cooperation in face of the threat that would ensue from that to the entire political establishment here, has had, as best we can gauge it, much more the opposite effect, of an effect that persuading people well, if the Americans are going, there’s absolutely no…and we’re going to have to settle this by a civil war, why should we make concessions on that matter right now? For example, to give you only one isolated exception, why should the Shiite leadership, in their view, make major concessions about widening the entry point for former Baathists into the government, into the senior levels of the military leadership, that’s to say bringing in high ranking Sunnis into the government and the army and the police, who themselves, the Sunnis, are in the main former stalwarts of Saddam’s regime. Why would the Shiites do that if they believe that in the end, they’re going to have to fight a civil war? This is not to reprove people in the Congress who think that the United States has spent enough blood and treasure here. It’s just a reality that that’s the way this debate seems to be being read by many Iraqi politicians.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

An all Empire State Election

From a comment by Norton Zenger found on Political Arithmetic.
The election that would amuse me most would be a three-way race between Clinton, Giuliani, and Bloomberg, though I don't think it'll come to that. Just because it would so completely obviously be giving the finger to anybody not from New York.
We might get just that.

Reyes on warrentless wiretaps (they're ok)

Opinion Journal on the Wire Tap debacle and Reyes's CYA letter to Bush telling him he already has authority for warrentless wiretaps.
At least a few Democrats realize they may be setting themselves up for trouble if there's another terrorist attack. House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes wrote to Mr. Bush last week saying he was "very concerned" about the program and urging the Administration to "devote all the resources necessary to ensure that we are conducting maximum surveillance of the terrorist target abroad."

Mr. Reyes went on to note that "FISA does not require a warrant for communications between two individuals outside the United States. If clarifications to the law are necessary, we are prepared to deal with this." That'll serve Mr. Reyes well as political cover if the next 9/11 Commission asks who ruined the terrorist surveillance program. But if he's serious about national security, he should send his next letter to Senate Democrats.

Six months is too long for Mr. Bush to cater to Pat Leahy while Americans are put at risk. The President should announce immediately that he is rescinding his concession to put these foreign wiretaps under the FISA court. He should say he is doing so as an urgent matter of national security as Commander in Chief because Congress has refused to respond in good faith by modernizing the law to let the U.S. eavesdrop on terrorists who wish us deadly harm. Then let Democrats explain why they're willing to put partisanship above the safety of America.

Friday, July 27, 2007

John Edwards fights "They"

Edwards railing agains the "theys" that want to shut him up via Ben Smith's blog.

I say ramble on Senator, ramble on....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sen McConnell's Amendment 2357

McConnell's amendment in response to Salazar's amendment to the education bill condeming Bush's commutation of Libby's prison sentence (not the fine mind you!). Sen Schumer had to advise Sen Clinton to leave the Senate floor before the reading per Barnes over at The Weekly Standard.

via Mary Mostert

Senator McConnell then introduced Amendment 2357, which was read aloud by the Senate Clerk, as follows:

Deploring the actions of former President William Jefferson Clinton regarding his granting of clemency to terrorists, to family members, donors, and individuals represented by family members, to public officials of his own political party, and to officials who violated laws protecting United States intelligence, and concluding that such actions by former President Clinton were inappropriate.

The Armed Forces of National Liberation (the FALN) is a terrorist organization that claims responsibility for the bombings of approximately 130 civilian, political, and military sites throughout the United States, and whereas, on August 11, 1999, President Clinton commuted the sentences of 16 terrorists, all of whom were members of the FALN, and whereas this action was taken counter to the recommendation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and two United States Attorneys;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton commuted the sentence of Susan L. Rosenberg, a former member of the Weather Underground Organization terrorist group whose mission included the violent overthrow of the United States Government, who was charged in a robbery that left a security guard and 2 police officers dead;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton commuted the sentence of Linda Sue Evans, a former member of the Weather Underground Organization terrorist group, who made false statements and used false identification to illegally purchase firearms that were then used by Susan L. Rosenberg in a robbery that left a security guard and 2 police officers dead;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned Patricia Hearst Shaw, a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a domestic terrorist group which also advocated the violent overthrow of the United States, and that carried out violent attacks in the United States;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned his half-brother Roger Clinton, who had been convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and of distribution of cocaine;

Since, on March 15, 2000, former President Clinton pardoned Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory, who had been convicted of conspiracy to willfully misapply bank funds and to make false statements and who, according to news reports, were represented by the former President's brother-in-law, Tony Rodham;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton commuted the sentence of Carlos Vignali, a convicted cocaine trafficker who, according to news reports, was represented by the former President's brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned Almon Glenn Braswell, an individual convicted of money laundering and tax evasion, who according to news reports, was represented by former President's brother-in-law, Hugh Rodham;

Since, on December 22, 2000, former President Clinton pardoned former Democratic Representative Dan Rostenkowski, who had been convicted of mail fraud;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton commuted the sentence of convicted sex offender and former Democratic Representative Mel Reynolds, who had been found guilty of bank fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, conspiracy to defraud the Federal Elections Commission, and making false statements to a Federal official;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned his former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, who had been convicted of making false statements about payments to his mistress;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned Susan McDougal, who had been a key figure in the Whitewater investigation and who had been convicted of aiding and abetting, in making false statements, and who refused to testify against the former President in the investigation; Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned Christopher Wade, who was a real estate salesmen involved in the Whitewater matter;

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned his former Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch for his mishandling of national security secrets; and

Since, on January 20, 2001, former President Clinton pardoned Samuel Loring Morison, a former Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted on espionage charges: Now, therefore, be it determined that it is the sense of the Senate that

(1) former President Clinton's granting of clemency to 16 FALN terrorists, two former members of the Weather Underground Organization, and a former member of the Symbionese Liberation Army was inappropriate;

(2) former President Clinton's granting of clemency to individuals either in his family or represented by family members was inappropriate;

(3) former President Clinton's granting of clemency to public figures from his own political party was inappropriate;

(4) former President Clinton's pardons of individuals involved with the Whitewater investigation, a matter in which the former First Family was centrally involved, was inappropriate; and

(5) former President Clinton's pardons of individuals who have jeopardized intelligence gathering and operations were inappropriate. Senator McConnell then stated:

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, if the Senate has decided to go into debating the appropriateness of future pardons, there is plenty of material to go around on past pardons. President Clinton's decision to pardon a host of individuals convicted of serious crimes then is certainly worthy of Senate comment as well.

Many of the individuals were convicted of the crime of terrorism.

Some were individuals who jeopardized intelligence gathering. Some were family members and represented by family.

My fundamental point is if the Senate wants to spend the evening commenting on the advisability of pardons that have not yet occurred, maybe we ought to go on record discussing the appropriateness of pardons that have already occurred.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Edward's Hair Ad

Far be it from me to talk about hair, but I'm not certain this ad from the Edward's campaign does the candidate much good. It just makes me wonder more about the guy. I don't know, maybe it's just me.

Take a look for yourselves,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sun Times on Corruption

Yesterday the ST's Jennifer Hunt wrote Could Obama end centuries of corruption? telling us,

Even in colonial days, chicanery and corruption were endemic among American politicians. It's become part of the American electoral tradition.

Can it ever be fixed? Barack Obama has been a champion of improving government ethics at both the state and federal level, but he faces a long history of improbity among our elected officials.
Today the ST hits us with Daley pal implicated in mob bombing

Outfit hit man Nicholas Calabrese on Tuesday implicated a close friend of Mayor Daley's, Fred Barbara, as taking part in the bombing of a suburban restaurant in the early 1980s.

Calabrese is the star witness in the Family Secrets mob case and testified that Barbara, now a multimillionaire businessman, was one of six men who split up into teams to throw bombs on the roofs of two restaurants.

Barbara has never been charged in the case but allegedly teamed up with Chicago mob captain Angelo "The Hook" LaPietra and reputed mob killer James DiForti to bomb Horwath's Restaurant in Elmwood Park, which was a well-known hangout for mobsters.
A little further down is this qualifier,

Barbara could not be reached for comment but has disavowed any connection to organized crime.

"Show me my connection to organized crime," Barbara said in an interview three years ago with the Sun-Times. "Did I turn the corner? You show me anything in the last 24 years that reflects to that nature."

A spokeswoman for the mayor could not be reached for comment.

In a full day of testimony, the mention of Barbara was a small part of Nicholas Calabrese's testimony.
I'm not trained as journalist but both stories over the top to me. Obama is sure no reformer, and just about everyone in Chicago's a pal of the mayor.

ST's crossed some fine line here. Neither story tells much. One's a puff piece for Obama and the other a slur without evidence on the Mayor.

Barbara nailed it three years ago: show us the connections please.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hitchen's on Libby

Two para's from his Slate column,
If Scooter Libby goes to jail, it will be because he made a telephone call to Tim Russert and because Tim Russert has a different recollection of the conversation. Can this really be the case? And why is such a nugatory issue a legal matter in the first place?
[***]
The call to Russert was not about Plame in any case; it was a complaint from the vice president's office about Chris Matthews, who was felt by some to have been overstressing the Jewish names associated with the removal of Saddam Hussein. Russert was called in his capacity as bureau chief; any chitchat about Wilson and Plame was secondary.
Not exactly Creamer style check kiting.

Bob Creamer teaches Obama's volunteers

From Tom Roeser's blog first found on a now broken link at Obama's website,
Creamer taught at “Camp Obama,” a week-long summer camp last month held at the presidential candidate’s office in Chicago for campaign interns and volunteers-just a few blocks away from the federal court where on August 31, 2005 he pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and failure to pay federal taxes…on charges brought by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. He admitted in his 18-page signed plea agreement that he wrote checks on accounts that lacked funds and did so repeatedly as he moved money from one account to another in three banks. He had a multiple group of organizations that received money, the best known being the “Illinois Public Action Council” a left-wing group on which his wife, Jan Schakowsky, was a board member while the manipulating was going on. She was already in Congress when he pleaded guilty; she was not charged.
Will Rezko teaches the intermediate class?

Why coddle the Wahhabis?

Good column by Stephen Schwartz: Who Is Responsible for the Mess in Mesopotamia?
It is considered impolite by many Americans to suggest that Al-Qaida in Iraq takes comfort in the antiwar acrobatics of American public figures, but why should such courtesy also be extended to the Saudi financiers of terrorism? How did the "W" word come to be effectively banned? Why do more journalists and other public figures not simply come out and explain the meaning and role of Wahhabism to the American people? Wahhabism is neither as appealing to Westerners as Communism once was, or as accomplished at manipulation of the public as Nazism. Saudi-financed extremism is the simplest thing in the Muslim world to explain, to contend with, and even to refute - as millions of moderate Muslims know.
Update: The Trib picks up the story today.

Update: July 27, 2007 NYT U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq
During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.

One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.

Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.

McCain's League of Democracies

Some paragraph's from McCains speech in Concord,
"Many today say we are losing the war with Islamic extremists. I disagree. We have disrupted numerous plots to attack our homeland and our allies. Working with allies, we have captured or killed scores of major terrorist leaders. But there is much more that needs to be done. Osama bin Laden and his deputy remain at large, and we cannot rest until they are captured or killed. Al Qaeda remains operational, with franchises sprouting around the world. Threats from other terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah must be dealt with. The outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan is uncertain.

"Today, our goal must be to effectively counter the plans of our enemies not simply with military force but with all the other tools at our disposal - economic, diplomatic, political, legal, and ideological. We must not only track down and capture or kill confirmed jihadists, we must stop a new generation from joining the fight. This Long War is not with Islam but within Islam - a small minority of extremists against the majority of moderates. My administration would pour far more resources into helping moderate Muslims - women's rights campaigners, labor leaders, tolerant imams, lawyers, journalists, and many others - resist a well-financed campaign of extremism that is tearing their societies apart.

"We need not fear democracy in the Muslim world. But there is much more to democracy than simply voting. Democracy is grounded in a functioning and impartial judiciary and police force, a free press, a robust political opposition, respect for women's and minority rights, and other essential elements we often take for granted. We must press friendly Muslim states not simply to open the ballot box but to establish the building blocks of an open and tolerant society. I have proposed the creation of a "League of Democracies" where like-minded countries can work together to meet common challenges. Such a League could work to promote economic development and political pluralism in the Middle East. We must also enhance the economic freedom of the region by establishing a Free Trade Area to include all states which do not sponsor terrorism.

"To talk about the struggle against Islamic extremists is, of necessity, to talk about our war with al Qaeda in Iraq. Many Democrats claim this is a conflict we cannot win. They ignore the consequences of a US defeat at the hands of al Qaeda and some ignore al Qaeda altogether. Just this week, Senators Clinton and Byrd wrote an op-ed about the war in Iraq and never once mentioned al Qaeda or the terrorist presence in Iraq. Foreign jihadists - Al Qaeda operatives - are responsible for at least 80% of the suicide bombings that are the driving force of sectarian strife. They are in this war to win and we cannot let them.

"Defeatism will not buy peace in our time. It will only lead to more bloodshedand to more American casualties in the future. If we choose to lose in Iraq, our enemies will hit us harder in Afghanistan hoping to erode our political will and encourage calls in Western capitals for withdrawal and accommodation with our enemy there as well.
Now compare with the nonsense from Obama via Reverse Spin,
“We cannot win a war against the terrorists if we’re on the wrong battlefield,” Obama said. “America must urgently begin deploying from Iraq and take the fight more effectively to the enemy’s home by destroying al-Qaida’s leadership along the Afghan-Pakistan border, eliminating their command and control networks and disrupting their funding.”
What a great match up if these lead their Party's respective tickets.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Shiner Bock in Chicago

I just bought a 12 Pack of cold ones at the SavWay Liquor store on North Ave in St Charles.

The News has even made the Kane County Chronicle , and Spoetzl brewery has set up a website for Chicago.

I used to spend a week every August in Austin, Texas where I first started drinking it. No one in Chicago believes me about a Bock Beer when I tell 'em, but Shiner Bock is the best on these hot days.

Melik Kaylan's interview with Ahmed Chalabi

From Melik Kaylan's interview with Ahmed Chalabi in today's OJ,
His recounting of post-war Iraqi history--which began with the high-handed regency of L. Paul Bremer and then the appointed Iraqi government of Ayad Allawi--returns again and again to this point.

"The problems began when the U.S. declared an official occupation," he says. "We told the U.S. not to have an occupation, that it would be a disaster. We never intended that. We wanted the Iraqis to run their own affairs, but we were not trusted to do that. Two years ahead of time, we asked [the U.S.] for a 10,000 man multiethnic military police force of Iraqis to be trained.
. . . We were refused."
If Democrats want to have hearings on Iraq, it's really this decision of occupation vs social revolution that needs to be explained.

Here's Jed Babbin on it,
Few know that in early 2003 - a month or more before the Iraq invasion - President Bush was presented with two plans for post-war Iraq. The first, written by CIA Director George Tenet and Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided for a long occupation of Iraq and the nation-building that the president renounced in his 2000 campaign. The second, a Pentagon plan authored by Rumsfeld's team, provided for the establishment of a provisional government before the invasion and American withdrawal within months of Saddam's overthrow. The president, convinced by Powell that "if you break it, you own it", chose the Powell-Tenet plan and ordered Rumsfeld to carry it out.
Update: Chris Allbritton writes over at IraqSlogger,
In Chalabi's views, everything would have been hunky-dory in Baghdad if the Americans had just let the Iraqis run the show, presumably with him in charge. (Which was pretty much the plan until those meddlin' State Department kids showed up.)
Considering the decision to go with the meddlin' State Department kids turned a bust, maybe Congress should hold some hearings to see the pre-meddlin' plan wasn't such a bad idea afterall?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Christopher Hitchens: Don't Mince Words The London car-bomb plot was designed to kill women.

From Hitchen's in Slate which should be read in full.

Hitch may have his issues with God but I'm very certain Lincoln's God is ok with Hitch,
Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was "ladies night" and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead "slags" or "sluts" would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.

....

Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam's claim to be a universal religion.

Iraqi President Talabani addresses the Socialist International

President Talabani's concluding request to the members of the SI but please read his whole address here,
Dear comrades and friends,

We hope that Socialist International helps us through these difficult times and problems that we face. We expect your help and that of your governments in:

1. Combating terrorism that has become a danger on us all and an international plague.

2. Informing your parties and your people of the real situation in Iraq and explaining the positive aspects as well as the negative ones without concentrating on the latter one alone.

3. Encouraging the socialist-led governments to write-off their debts to Iraq, so that they become an example for other governments to follow.

4. Encouraging companies and business people to invest in Iraq starting from the safer areas and then throughout Iraq.

5. Providing moral and media support for the united, democratic and federal Iraq.

6. Sending fact-finding delegations to Iraq in order to give us your comradely feedback.

7. Asking the states in the region to stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq, respect its national independence and sovereignty and also its national unity; this in addition to stopping the facilitation and financial help for the terrorists.

Thank you for your attention.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Shimkus, Iraq, and benevolent Monarchs

Shimkus takes it on the chin from Prarie State Blue and Rich Miller for voicing want seems to me the Democratic Party's Foreign Policy today: that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake, that Iraq would have been best left alone under Saddam (and no philosopher King he!), and that Bush's second inaugural's proclamation that America's ideals and self-interests are now one; was dangerously idealistic.
“In some of these countries where they are having some Islamic presence, is it better to have a constitutional monarchy, with a very strong, powerful king, and maybe a dictator who is trying to move a little bit to democratic principles, versus just throwing the door open and pushing full-blown democratic principles, which could destabilize the country?” Shimkus said during a discussion with the editorial board of The State Journal-Register.

“When I taught government and history,” Shimkus added, “by definition, what is the best form of government, the most simple, is a compassionate monarchy - a monarchy that loves and respects its citizens and … is able to make easy decisions without the weight of a bureaucracy we’d have to fund.”
I don't agree with Shimkus but I understand the frustration and wonder myself.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Judea Pearl: Moral relativism and A Mighty Heart

Daniel Pearl's mother writes the obvious and it's sad she has too.
Drawing a comparison between Danny's murder and the detainment of suspects in Guantánamo is precisely what the killers wanted, as expressed in both their e-mails and the murder video. Obviously Winterbottom did not mean to echo their sentiments, and certainly not to justify their demands or actions. Still, I am concerned that aspects of his movie will play into the hands of professional obscurers of moral clarity.