Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush's Falling Approval Numbers

This from CBS News:

(CBS) The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.

If I hear the usual speculation about how The White House is trying to "figure out the reason" for the falling numbers, I think I'll blow a gasket. The reason has never been more obvious:
When a majority of people on both sides of the political spectrum have been asking the question "What were they thinking?" for the past month, they should have a pretty good clue as to what the problem is.

Don Surber has more.

Update: Poll results skewed in favor of Democrats. No Big surprise here. We are talking about a CBS poll and they do have a history of oversampling Democrats and Independents and undersampling Republicans. Even the weighted sample fails to correct enough. Newsbusters has the numbers here.

The poll, which most likely was meant to portray a Bush popularity nosedive, actually does no such thing. If anything, the numbers have remained fairly consistent. That doesn't change my view that the administration has blown it lately, but the actual numbers don't support the notion that the country has dramatically shifted its views.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don Knotts 1924-2006

This is sad:

LOS ANGELES -- Don Knotts, who kept generations of TV audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" and would-be swinger landlord Ralph Furley on "Three's Company," has died. He was 81.

Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, said Sherwin Bash, his friend and manager.

Griffith, who had visited Knotts in the hospital before his death, said his longtime friend had a brilliant comedic mind and wrote some of the show's best scenes.

"Don was a small man ... but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions," Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday. "Don was special. There's nobody like him.

"I loved him very much," Griffith added. "We had a long and wonderful life together."

I grew up on reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" and have probably seen every episode at least 20 times. It is my opinon that the show was, and always will be, the best show ever broadcast on network television. The life lessons and wholesome values of the show have stood the test of time.

Don Knotts portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife was a major factor in the success of the show. His comedic timing and quirky mannerisms stole practically every scene he was in. As many times as I've seen each episode, I laugh hysterically every time as though I've never seen it.

The closest comparison to a modern day Barney Fife I can think of, for those who've never experienced "The Andy Griffith Show", is Michael Richards portrayal of Kramer on "Seinfeld". Sure, there would have probably been a "Seinfeld" without Kramer, but it wouldn't have been nearly the hit it was without Kramer. I think the same can be said for the "Andy Griffith Show": It just wouldn't have been the same without Don Knotts.

When an iconic figure dies, there is never a shortage of personal stories regarding the person who has died, and ironically, my Don Knotts story occurred just yesterday and I thought I would share it here. I've never met Don Knotts, so my story isn't particularly noteworthy, but in hindsight it is sadly ironic.

I sometimes mind the shop owned by some friends of mine so they can run errands, take a Saturday off, etc. and I just happened to be there yesterday. The business has a client waiting area with a monitor hooked up to a DVD player and my friend has tons of DVD collections of TV shows, cartoons, and other videos to entertain waiting clients.

Yesterday I decided to play the first season of "The Andy Griffith Show", as I do a lot of the time when I'm there. A client walked in with his son and his son decided to sit in the lobby and watch TV with me while he waited for his Dad. The boy is only about 9 or 10 years old, yet he really seemed to like the show.

We were watching the episode(I think it was the 2nd or 3rd episode)when Andy(Andy Griffith)and Barney(Don Knotts) are helping the state police track down an escaped convict. In the episode, Barney sets up a road block and in the process winds up doing pat down searches on the town mayor and his own mother--just to be on the safe side.

In the end, the convict tries to escape across the lake in Andy's boat, but has to swim back because the boat has a hole in the bottom of it and starts sinking. Andy allowed the convict to take the boat on purpose, knowing what would happen when he got to the middle of the lake, The state police, on the other hand, thought he was just standing around allowing him to get away.

The moral of the story: Never discount the value of local knowledge and expertise.

The state police thought the local sheriff and his deputy were just bumbling idiots, but in the end realized their local knowledge and unorthodox methods were invaluable in the capture of the suspect.

The 9 year old boy sat there and watched the whole episode with me and really got into it. He also asked a lot of questions. In one scene, Andy and Barney were in the Sheriff's Office and he asked me "How old is this show?". I told him that it was filmed in the early 1960's, which didn't seem to help. When I told him the show originally aired even before I was alive, I think he started to connect the dots somewhat. "That is an old show!", he responded. I'm not quite 40, but I suppose in his eyes, if I qualify as "old", the show qualifies as ancient.

The ironic part of this story came with the next question the boy asked me: "Are those two men still alive?". I told him they were, but they were both getting pretty old and sadly, I didn't know how much longer they would be around.

Later that afternoon I heard on the radio that Don Knotts had died and I thought of that boy in the shop. He's too young to appreciate the impact that shows like "The Andy Griffith Show" and the characters played by Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and others on the show have had on so many people over the years. Each show taught a valuable lesson about life that could be applied
to our own lives even if we didn't realize it at the time.

Hopefully he'll come back in again. If he does, I'll pop the disc back in and let the show do it's magic. Over time, he'll have fewer questions about the characters, but it will surely answer a lot of questions about life.

May you rest in peace, Don!


Others Blogging:

James Joyner offers his thoughts along with a ton of information.

Joe Gandelman provides background information on Knotts and a personal note. They have ventriloquism in common.

The Sundries Shack offers some personal thoughts.

Don Surber, from Don Knotts home state of West Virginia, offers his tribute including video clips.

Ann Althouse has more.

Nothing from Glenn Reynolds, but he has been busy plugging this which looks to be quite interesting.

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Photo Fair Use Claim: TV Screen Shot

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Warning Signs Or Much Ado About Nothing?

Strategy Page notes the following:
Before any major military operation, there are always tell tale signs. With all the talk about Israel or the United States bombing Iran's nuclear weapons program, it would be wise to check for the signs before taking the pundit prattle too seriously.
Ten warning signs are listed that can offer clues that a military operation may be imminent. But...
These warning signs are no secret, and intelligence officers regularly run down their check lists. As a result, nations will sometimes stage a false alert by deliberately performing many of the items on someone's check list, with no intention of following through.

Useful information to have handy when the speculation starts flying, or should I say, continues to intensify.

Tags: , , , Nuclear, Politics, Israel, Security, War

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Standing Firm On Port Sale

As I posted earlier, I have serious concerns regarding the sale of certain operations of six of our major U.S. ports to DP World. There's been quite a blogswarm of criticism directed toward those who haven't immediately retreated from their staunch opposition to the deal and gotten in lockstep with the administration on this deal.

It has been said by many, including the administration, that there is no security risk involved and that we should all just relax and trust that everything will be just fine. Well, that pill would be much easier to swallow if the ports were secure now, but alas only around 10% of the 9 million containers that arrive by ship in this country every year are even inspected. I'm sorry, but 10% just doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Given the above, I feel that I'm pretty much within my rights to question this deal. I have serious reservations about handing control of any part of our port operations, whether it be the loading and off-loading of cargo or control over the janitorial contract, to any Arab shipping company, ally or not, without first knowing something of the vetting process used to select it. Some may call this view bigoted or Islamophobic, but I prefer to call it a refusal to throw caution to the wind. It is the lesson many of us learned in the wake of 9/11; the old rules no longer apply.

It is simply not enough for those of us who question this deal to be told that our security will not be threatened, we also need to know more about how the conclusion was reached.

It matters not to me which link in the chain DP World happens to be. What really matters is whether the link occupied by DP World weakens it. The company may never pose a security threat to the United States, but in this post 9/11 world I think it is an absolute necessity to be certain.

Michelle Malkin notes there are many retreating politicians, pundits, and bloggers on this issue in her post "Postgate and the Rubber Stampers". She can count me among those who are still standing firm.

She also points to this post by Rusty Shackleford who brilliantly notes the difference between allies and friends. It is a must read!

Tags: , UAE, United Arab Emirates, Dubai, Terrorism, Security, ,

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Great News For Day-by-Day Fans!

I'm a huge fan of the political cartoon Day-by-Day by Chris Muir. Most right-leaning blogs either link to the cartoon in their sidebar or display the full cartoon prominently on their page.

Unfortunately, a lot of us who use Blogger and other platforms have been limited in our display options because they don't support PHP parsing. Tempus Fugit provided a vertical option that could be displayed in blogs that support PHP parsing, but that still left some of us with only the horizontal option which couldn't be displayed properly using our chosen templates. That is until now!

Basil, who runs a little blog called basil's blog came up with a solution. He figured out a way to display Day By Day using Javascript and CSS that will fit neatly within most sidebars. The real genius of the solution is that it only requires a simple copy and paste of the code to the spot in your template where you would like it to appear. He submitted the code for approval by Chris Muir and has received his blessing to release it.

He has posted the code here and also as an Alliance blog tip. While you're there, check out all of the blog tips posted by Basil and Phin. They cover everything from etiquitte tips to spam proofing your e-mail address and are a valuable source of useful information.

Additionally, I would like to thank Basil for allowing me the opportunity to participate in code testing here for the last couple of days. I got to see firsthand not only the effort it took to write the code (it looks rather daunting), but also the determination he had to keep tweaking until it was just right. He's done a great service for Day by Day fans everywhere. Be sure to stop by and give him a big thumbs up.

Thanks, Basil!

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Monday, February 20, 2006

I Beg To Disagree

It is no secret to readers of this blog that I support, by and large, the policies of the president, especially as they relate to the War on Terror. My readers also know that I have not been afraid to voice my disagreement when the situation warrants. With that in mind, I'd like to draw your attention to this excerpt from an AP article today:

MILWAUKEE - Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would "startle" most Americans,
President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil.

Less than half the crude oil used by refineries is produced in the United States, while 60 percent comes from foreign nations, Bush said during the first stop on a two-day trip to talk about energy.

Some of these foreign suppliers have "unstable" governments that have fundamental differences with America, he said.

"It creates a national security issue and we're held hostage for energy by foreign nations that may not like us," Bush said.

While I support the idea of developing alternative sources of energy, I have a problem with the last statement in particular. It has been repeated so often by Democrats and Republicans alike, that it has become a catch phrase and an excuse for what is a government created problem.

The government to which I am referring is not a foreign government, it is our own. We are not being held hostage for energy by foreign nations, but by the willingness of our own government to cave in to the wishes of extremists.

The simple fact is we don't have to depend on foreign sources of energy, we can produce everything we need right here. We have the technology, the expertise, and the supply under our soil and along our coastlines to power this nation without outside assistance for the foreseeable future. What we don't have are politicians with the backbone to tell agenda driven environmentalists to take a hike.

We can produce, refine, and burn fuel more cleanly and more efficiently and with less environmental impact than ever before and we should be taking advantage of the technology available right now to do just that.

Of all the problems frequently discussed regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the one most frequently ignored is one of the most crucial: We have put ourselves in a situation where a severe blow from just one major hurricane can effectively cripple the entire nation's fuel supply. That is not a position in which a great nation should ever find itself in. It is, in fact, inexcusable.

The obvious solution is to spread our refining and drilling capacity throughout the country, not confine it to a particular region. Yet, that is exactly what politicians have done to appease environmentalists and buy votes. Few seem to question the science behind the doomsday scenarios predicted by these extremists, yet when is the last time you saw one of them walk from New York to San Francisco or from Miami to Seattle to attend the conferences in which they preach these views? The answer is never. They depend on energy just as much as the rest of us do, and their opinions and agendas should carry no more weight.

So, the problem I have is not exploring alternative sources of energy. I believe it should be done because we are a nation born of exploration. We are a nation from its inception that has been in constant search of a better way of doing things. We have always found a better way and we will continue to do so. We will find alternative sources of energy and these sources will be readily available when they are needed. America is not in the failure business, it is in the solution business.

The real problem is the excuse. The excuse that we can't do better with what we have now when we could do better if we were allowed to. The excuse that we are too dependent on foreign oil when we are actually too dependent on special interest groups to eliminate the need for foreign oil. The excuse that we must explore alternative sources of fuel out of fear instead of progress.

The American people drive this economy, an economy fueled by our toil, our sweat, and our innovation. Given that, is it really asking too much to expect our elected officials, regardless of political stripe, to stand up and admit the true reason for our dependence on foreign oil instead of offering the same old excuse that shifts the blame on us? I don't think it is and I think we should.

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Bin Laden Tape Reposted On Islamic Web Site

A militant Isalmic website has reposted the audiotape originally aired by Al Jazeera on January 19. Although there is no new information in the audiotape, The Associated Press finds the following to be of particular significance:

CAIRO, Egypt -Osama bin Laden vowed never to be captured alive and said the U.S. military had become as "barbaric" as Saddam Hussein in an audiotape reposted on a militant Islamic Web site after first being broadcast last month...

"I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived," bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.

This is probably the only time in history you will hear me say that I agree with Osama Bin Laden. I'd much rather see him dead than alive as well. You have to look no further than the Saddam Hussein trial for an indication of what happens when you let these thugs live. I'm sure Ramsey Clark is probably chomping at the bit for the opportunity to represent him.

Although it is pure speculation on my part, I believe Bin Laden was sending a message to the faithful that the noose is tightening and they need to be prepared to assume leadership of Al Qaeda in short order. We are close and he knows it.

There is also the possibility that Bin Laden may already be dead and the re-release is an effort to to keep the faithful vigilant. If Bin Laden still holds as much significance to the movement as he once did, and his survival or the appearance of his survival, is the glue that holds the operation together, then it would only make sense for the remaining Al Qaeda power structure to keep the ruse going as long as possible.

Additionally, we can't assume that when Bin Laden is captured or killed we will know about it immediately. There are many reasons to maintain secrecy, at least in the short term. It may be valuable to maintain the illusion in order to better follow up on intelligence leads. Information regarding a sudden change at the top could lead to a drastic change in the behavior patterns of those being pursued.

There has also been an assumption by the media and many on the left that the War on Terror ends with the capture of Bin Laden, but that has never been the case. Bin Laden is merely one piece of the puzzle. He is an important piece to be sure, but the threat does not end with him. If news of Bin Laden's death or capture leads to an erosion of American will to finish the job, then we've really not accomplished anything.

Again, this is all speculation on my part, but I think a cursory analysis, even by the untrained, can reveal clues as to the long term prospects of Al Qaeda. From where I'm sitting, the prospects appear just as bleak now as they did in January, if not more so.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Alec Baldwin: Unhinged!

Alec Baldwin has a post at The Huffington Post that reminds me of the famous quip attributed to the late Groucho Marx: "He may look like an idiot and talk like and idiot, but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot."

Here's a sample:

So, I suppose the question is...what kind of civil trial will we see, or not see, between Cheney and Whittington? Whittington is certainly no stranger to a court room and to civil litigation. Will Cheney pay him off, preemptively? Will they go to court? I would imagine if a guy with a few beers in him shoots you in the face on a hunting trip, how could you turn down that opportunity?...

Cheney's the guy who told Libby to out Valerie Plame. The rumor I heard is that someone yelled, "Look out! Shooter!" and Cheney thought he said Scooter and fired in that general direction.

Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately. Who ever thought Harry Whittington would be the answer to America's prayers. Finally, someone who might get that lying, thieving Cheney into a courtroom to answer some direct questions.

(Emphasis mine)

I usually blockquote only the amount needed to make my point, but this moron left so little to work with that a visit to the actual post reveals little additional information. Don't bother! I can't find one verifiable fact in the entire post. Wait a minute! He did imply that Whittington had been in a court room. I'm sure that can probably be checked out, but I seriously doubt Baldwin went to the trouble.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for freedom of speech. Freedom to your own facts, however, is another issue entirely. It would be one thing if he were just making bad jokes, but this man is deadly serious. It's the condition Michelle Malkin refers to as: UNHINGED!

I won't go to the trouble to pick apart the post any further because Baldwin could end up reading this and I'm afraid facts would just confuse him. I will, however, demonstate how easy it is for someone like Baldwin to pretend to be a blogger. I just need a subject....I've got it!.. I'll use Alec Baldwin as my subject. Ready, Alec?

Here we go:

When Baldwin was young, he had a job as a busboy at famous New York City disco Studio 54. He claims he had to quit the job because seeing all of the sex going on around him "was making me too horny." It has since been revealed that he was fired from that job for stealing condoms.

He was married to actress Kim Basinger from 1993 to 2002. They were the subject of much media attention for the bitter divorce and custody fight for their daughter and accusations, later proven, that Baldwin was an abusive husband and had a heroin addiction, which many believed hurt his career in addition to allegations of him having anger management problems. He still struggles with his heroine addiction and is currently in treatment. His doctor states that Alec has a tendency to speak in incomplete and incoherrent sentences and often picks his nose with a roach clip. It has been revealed to us by an unnamed source that Mr. Baldwin also served time for bank robbery, but was later released due to evidence coming to light proving that his IQ was too low to actually pull off the robbery in which he was charged.

Baldwin was widely criticized for his appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on December 11th, 1998, eight days before President Bill Clinton was impeached. In a skit that Baldwin later referred to as a "parody", he said that "if we were in another country, ... We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we’d kill their wives and their children. We would kill their families." [1] Baldwin later apologized to Hyde for his remarks. NBC has promised never to re-air the show. Baldwin has since gone on many similar tirades and has threatened to move to another country. He's still here, proving that he is full of empty rhetoric and a lack of courage for his convictions. He's all talk and no action, yet thinks he should be taken seriously.

I suppose I broke Alec's rule by linking my source, but I found it to be surprisingly easy to make up my own facts which I added in bold. I can't prove any of it, but you should just take my word for it because in Alec's world, facts don't matter. I should point out that the last section, while not in the original text, is undeniably true.

I wonder if Alec would like his newly updated biographical information? Maybe we'll find out, maybe we won't, but one thing's for certain: There's more truth in it than in what he wrote.

UPDATE: Alec has allies. Check out the comment thread.

Tags: Alec Baldwin, Cheney, Whittington, Unhinged

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Port Sale A Threat To National And Economic Security

While the majority of the mainstream media has been focused on the non-story of Vice President Cheney's hunting incident, this has gone largely unnoticed:

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration on Thursday rebuffed criticism about potential security risks of a $6.8 billion sale that gives a company in the United Arab Emirates control over significant operations at six major American ports.
Lawmakers asked the White House to reconsider its earlier approval of the deal.

The sale to state-owned Dubai Ports World was "rigorously reviewed" by a U.S. committee that considers security threats when foreign companies seek to buy or invest in American industry, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, run by the Treasury Department, reviewed an assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies. The committee's 12 members agreed unanimously the sale did not present any problems, the department said.

"We wanted to look at this one quite closely because it relates to ports," Stewart Baker, an assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, told The Associated Press. "It is important to focus on this partner as opposed to just what part of the world they come from. We came to the conclusion that the transaction should not be halted."

I'm not expert in this field, but on its face the sale presents an enormous threat to our security. The company is a "state-owned" company, and while the UAE has cooperated in our efforts in the War on Terror, there is a troubling past that can't be overlooked:

There are several 9-11 connections to the United Arab Emirates. Many of the hijackers entered the U.S. via UAE, much of the attack's planning was done there, and the FBI says money for the operation was transferred to the hijackers primarily through the UAE's banking system.

The above referenced World Net Daily article also notes this from The Washington Times

"Do we really want our major ports in the hands of an Arab country where al-Qaida recruits, travels and wires money?

"We should be improving port security in an age of terrorism, not outsourcing decisions to the highest bidder. The ports are thought to be the country's weakest homeland-security link, with good reason. Only a fraction of the nation's maritime cargoes are inspected. …

"President Bush should overrule the committee to reject this deal. If that doesn't happen, Congress should take action. The country's ports should not be owned by foreign governments; much less governments whose territories are favored by al-Qaida."

It should be noted that this sale not only has national security implications, but economic implications as well. These ports are essential for the import and export of goods and services, so it is in our economic interest as well as our national security interest to control their activity.

We are already dependent on foreign sources of oil to keep our economy running,  we can't afford to give any foreign interest the ability to control the flow of our goods and services. Not only would this foreign interest be able to bring threats into this country through our port system, they would also be able to largely control the timing and delivery of essential goods and services. I don't believe I am out of line when I say that this has the potential to become the worst political calculation in our nation's history. I pray that I am wrong.

President Bush has the authority to kill this deal, and in the interest of our national and economic security, he should do so without batting an eyelash.

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It's Time to Move On

This from AP:

SARITA, Texas (AP) - The sheriff's department closed its investigation Thursday into Dick Cheney's accidental shooting of a hunting partner and said no charges will be filed.

The Kenedy County Sheriff's Department issued a report that largely supports the vice president's account of the weekend accident that wounded 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington.

Whittington, interviewed in the hospital, assured investigators no one was drinking when the accident occurred and everyone was wearing bright orange safety gear, according to the report.

Sheriff's dispatcher Diana Mata, speaking for the department, said the case is closed and no charges will be filed. She said Sheriff Ramon Salinas would have no comment on the report.

Since Mr. Whittington seems to be determined to continue living and the Sheriff's Office has all but confirmed that the accidental shooting was just that: An accidental shooting, I think the mainstream media can end their death watch and criminal conspiracy posturing while they still have an opportunity to avoid further embarassment. They probably won't, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Posting Nonexistent Today! Gee, Thanks Microsoft!

I would be interested to know if anyone had the trouble with Windows Automatic Updates that I experienced very early this morning:

I had automatic updates run in the background while I finished my post last night and then everything went haywire. When the download finished, I selected restart for the updates to take effect and when I did, XP crashed and wouldn't even allow me back via using safe mode. It went through a continuous boot/fail process until I forced it to shut down. The computer guy at work ran a disk repair utility on it and told me that apparently something in the updated cause a key file to become corrupted. He was able to recover it, but I'd be curious to know if anyone else had the same problem.

Anyway, I'm too tired and it's too late to post today. Be back hopefully tomorrow.

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This Is CNN


Perfectly fine:

Any Questions?

Tags: Media Bias, CNN, Abu Ghraib, Jyllands-Posten, Cartoons, Mohammed, Islam

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Vultures Are Circling

Note the following excerpt from the middle of an article in the New York Times discussing the condition of Harry M. Whittington; the man accidentally shot by Vice President Cheney while bird hunting on Saturday:

Local officials have not considered any charges in the shooting because no one in the hunting party, including the victim, has accused Mr. Cheney of wrongdoing.

"Everybody that I've heard so far has said it was an accident," said Mr. Valdez, who holds an elected position and is a Democrat. "The victim probably told the sheriff's department it was an accident."

Mr. Valdez added, "Now, if the worst happens and the man happens to die, we would take an additional step."

Under the law, even an accidental hunting fatality can result in criminal charges. Mr. Cheney could be charged with negligence, defined as failing to understand the dangers involved and disregarding them, or recklessness, defined as understanding the dangers and disregarding them.

Exactly why is this information necessary in an article discussing the current condition of Mr. Whittington? It is completely pointless, and in fact disrespectful, to speculate what will happen should Mr. Whittington die, when there has been no indication by medical personnel that a full recovery isn't expected.

And why do they quote Mr. Valdez who "holds an elected position and is a Democrat"? One would think the position of this elected official would be important to the discussion.  Omitting this detail leaves the reader with questions as to whether the article's true intention is to offer the facts about the condition of Mr. Whittington or to use a legitimate news story as a vehicle for taking yet another partisan swing at the administration.

The impression of this reader is that the health of Mr. Whittington matters only to the extent that it impacts Cheney and they want the record to reflect that he could be charged with a crime in the event of Whittington's death.

They've left little doubt as to the outcome that best serves their interests. Unfortunately, it's not the same outcome that best serves the interests of the victim.

Tags:  Cheney, Dick Cheney, Whittington, Hunting Accident, Birdshot, Politics, New York Times, Media Bias

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Saddam On Hunger Strike!

In a display of intellect comparable only to that fellow who penned a stick up note on the back of a check stub, Saddam Hussein today, threatened to slowly kill himself if the court doesn’t start treating him nice:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - After shouts, insults, arguments and walkouts, Saddam Hussein and three of his co-defendants unveiled a new show-stealing tactic Tuesday: They announced in court that they had gone on hunger strike.

Saddam said the strike was called to protest the tough way chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman has conducted the court since he took over last month.

"For three days we have been holding a hunger strike protesting against your way of treating us — against you and your masters," the former Iraqi leader said. Their claims could not be independently confirmed.

At the rate this trial is going, death by starvation is really the only glimmer of hope for a verdict within my lifetime. As an added bonus, Saddam not only handles his own execution, but his cronies are apparently more than willing to play along.

Call me crazy, but I’m having trouble seeing a downside assuming Saddam is serious and feeding tubes can be kept away from him. It would be too perfect! Somebody pinch me!

Others Blogging: This Blog is Full of Crap, Captain’s Quarters

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Monday, February 13, 2006

This Ain’t Chappaquiddick!

The lengths to which the mainstream media and the conspiracy kooks will go in order to manufacture a scandal never ceases to amaze me:

(CBS/AP) President Bush knew Saturday evening that Vice President Dick Cheney had accidentally shot a hunting companion, but the information wasn't made public until the next day — by a private citizen — the White House said Monday.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said the vice president's staff was focused on making sure that the shooting victim, attorney Harry Whittington of Austin, Texas, was receiving adequate medical care after the shooting on the private Armstrong Ranch in south Texas. Whittington and Cheney were hunting quail together.

Cheney apparently did not see Whittington, and the vice president accidentally hit him in the face, neck and chest with bird shot.

So basically, the concern was not for the condition of Mr. Whittington, it was for the fact that Cheney didn’t immediately pick up a telephone and inform everyone in the Washington press corps that he had accidentally shot a hunting companion.

Compare and contrast the behavior of Vice President Cheney, to….Oh! I don’t know…Ted Kennedy:

Little over one mile away, the car that I was driving on the unlit road went of a narrow bridge which had no guard rails and was built on a left angle to the road. The car overturned in a deep pond and immediately filled with water. I remember thinking as the cold water rushed in around my head that I was for certain drowning. Then water entered my lungs and I actual felt the sensation of drowning. But somehow I struggled to the surface alive.

I made immediate and repeated efforts to save Mary Jo be diving into strong and murky current, but succeeded only in increasing my state of utter exhaustion and alarm. My conduct and conversations during the next several hours, to the extent that I can remember them, make no sense to me at all.

Although my doctors informed me that I suffered a cerebral concussion, as well as shock, I do not seek to escape responsibility for my actions by placing the blame either in the physical, emotional trauma brought on by the accident, or on anyone else. I regard as indefensible the fact that I did not report the accident to the policy immediately….

In the morning, with my mind somewhat more lucid, I made an effort to call a family legal advisor, Burke Marshall, from a public telephone on the Chappaquiddick side of the ferry and belatedly reported the accident to the Martha's Vineyard police.

So, Vice President Cheney didn’t notify the press corps immediately? Big Deal! Ted Kennedy didn’t even notify the police until the next morning, and then only after consulting with his attorney. Of course you never hear the press corps griping and moaning about what Ted Kennedy did. At least Cheney stuck around and made sure his hunting partner was cared for instead of playing the poor, pathetic victim on television for the sake of his political career.

Could this have been handled better? Sure. But I think history has shown it could also have been handled much worse.

Expose the Left has the video of the feeding frenzy at today’s White House Press Briefing.

Sister Toldjah and Michelle Malkin have links aplenty.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

The Importance of Keeping Secrets

This from CIA Director Porter Goss in the New York Times today:

AT the Central Intelligence Agency, we are more than holding our own in the global war on terrorism, but we are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.

Judge Laurence Silberman, a chairman of President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction, said he was "stunned" by the damage done to our critical intelligence assets by leaked information. The commission reported last March that in monetary terms, unauthorized disclosures have cost America hundreds of millions of dollars; in security terms, of course, the cost has been much higher. Part of the problem is that the term "whistleblower" has been misappropriated. The sharp distinction between a whistleblower and someone who breaks the law by willfully compromising classified information has been muddied.

As a member of Congress in 1998, I sponsored the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that current or former employees could petition Congress, after raising concerns within their respective agency, consistent with the need to protect classified information.

Exercising one's rights under this act is an appropriate and responsible way to bring questionable practices to the attention of those in Congress charged with oversight of intelligence agencies. And it works. Government employees have used statutory procedures — including internal channels at their agencies — on countless occasions to correct abuses without risk of retribution and while protecting information critical to our national defense.

On the other hand, those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic. Nor are they whistleblowers. Instead they are committing a criminal act that potentially places American lives at risk. It is unconscionable to compromise national security information and then seek protection as a whistleblower to forestall punishment.

He goes on to provide a specific example of news reports in 1998 that disclosed the fact that the U.S. was tracking the satellite phone of Osama Bin Laden. This disclosure effectively ended our ability to keep track of Bin Laden because someone let the cat out of the bag. For all the arguments that this leak did not endanger national security, the fact of the matter is Bin Laden stopped using the phone as soon as he knew we were onto him. Whether or not 9/11 would have still happened without the leak, I suppose, is debatable. What isn't debatable is that one of the tools we were using to track him was eliminated. That one tool may have made all the difference in the world and no matter how you look at it, the fact that it was no longer available put national security at risk.

While it's true the press has a responsibility to report the news and ask tough questions, it also has the responsibility to use discretion and consider the safety and welfare of the citizens it serves. The same responsibility applies to anonymous government sources who leak the information to the press. There is no glory in placing the security of the nation at risk because you either have an ax to grind or because you believe the people have a right to know.

The people don't need to know everything, but they do need to know that their government is protecting them and that these efforts aren't being undermined by those who don't know when to keep their mouths shut.

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Drip! Drip! Drip!

Via AP:

After weeks of insisting it would not reveal details of its eavesdropping without warrants, the White House reversed course Wednesday and provided a House committee with highly classified information about the operation.

The White House has been under heavy pressure from lawmakers who wanted more information about the National Security Agency's monitoring. Democrats and many Republicans rejected the administration's contention that they could not be trusted with national security secrets.

The shift came the same day Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced he is drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the administration's monitoring program and determine if it is constitutional.

It also came after Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

I sincerely hope the Administration merely threw out a bone and didn’t reveal any significant details of the program. If they did, there’s little doubt we’ll be reading all about it in the New York Times long before the ides of March.

However, I have a feeling this is nothing more than a baited trap. The White House knows the information will leak and they want to find out who the leakers will be. To find out, they release information that is classified, but not devastating to the program if made public.

The president knows he is bulletproof on this issue. Not only is he on solid constitutional ground, he also has the overwhelming support of the people. They will not look kindly on anyone who leaks classified information that directly affects their security. That it will be done for no other reason than to undermine the president will only add to the outrage. The president will then be able to demonstrate precisely why only certain members of congress were in the loop.

It would be the ultimate irony: In an attempt to destroy the president, the leakers will instead destroy themselves.

Will anyone bite? Past history would indicate it is an absolute certainty. They simply can’t help themselves.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Case for Abolishing FISA

Today's featured article in Opinion Journal makes a case for abolishing FISA by pointing out the obvious constitutional problems inherent in the statute, and the unnecessary burden these additional layers of legal approval place on our intelligence gathering abilities:

What FISA boils down to is an attempt to further put the executive under the thumb of the judiciary, and in unconstitutional fashion. The way FISA works is that it gives a single judge the ability to overrule the considered judgment of the entire executive branch. In the case of the NSA wiretaps, the Justice Department, NSA and White House are all involved in establishing and reviewing these wiretaps. Yet if a warrant were required, one judge would have the discretion to deny any request.

As a practical war-fighting matter, this interferes with the ability to gather intelligence against anonymous, al Qaeda-linked phone numbers. FISA warrants apply to people, and are supposed to require "probable cause" that the subject is an agent of a foreign power. But as Mr. Gonzales and Deputy National Intelligence Director Michael Hayden explained Monday, in fast-moving anti-terror operations it's often impossible to know if someone on the U.S. end of an al Qaeda phone call is actually an "agent." That means the government must operate on a different "reasonable basis" standard.

FISA is the intelligence equivalent of asking battlefield commanders in Iraq to get a court order before taking Fallujah. "We can't afford to impose layers of lawyers on top of career intelligence officers who are striving valiantly to provide a first line of defense by tracking secretive al Qaeda operatives in real time," as Mr. Gonzales put it….

Far from being some rogue operation, the Bush Administration has taken enormous pains to make sure the NSA wiretaps are both legal and limited. The program is monitored by lawyers, reauthorized every 45 days by the President and has been discussed with both Congress and the FISA court itself. The Administration even decided against warrantless wiretaps on al Qaeda suspects communicating entirely within the U.S., though we'd argue that that too would be both constitutional and prudent.
As the article points out, the Bush Administration has gone to great lengths to ensure the wiretaps are done both legally, and with limited scope. Far from being a telecommunications blanket draped over and snooping on huge numbers of law abiding citizens, these wiretaps have, if anything, been too limited.

Not only has this president ignored politics and poll-driven, Clintonesque, decision making in order to protect us from terrorists who wish us harm, he has also stopped short of his full authority to ensure your privacy is protected as well.

That said, what exactly are the mainstream media and self-serving politicians hoping to accomplish in their attempts to destroy Bush at any cost? If you think they're actually the ones who are trying to protect you, then I'm afraid you're dead wrong. (Pun intended)

Tags: Politics, Bush, FISA, Opinion Journal, NSA, Wiretaps, Intelligence

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Audio Tapes May Provide WMD Evidence

There is an interesting development in the search for Iraq’s WMD as reported yesterday by Eli Lake of the New York Sun:

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is studying 12 hours of audio recordings between Saddam Hussein and his top advisers that may provide clues to the whereabouts of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The committee has already confirmed through the intelligence community that the recordings of Saddam's voice are authentic, according to its chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, who would not go into detail about the nature of the conversations or their context. They were provided to his committee by a former federal prosecutor, John Loftus, who says he received them from a former American military intelligence analyst.

Mr. Loftus will make the recordings available to the public on February 17 at the annual meeting of the Intelligence Summit, of which he is president. On the organization's Web site, Mr. Loftus is quoted as promising that the recordings "will be able to provide a few definitive answers to some very important - and controversial - weapons of mass destruction questions."

It will be interesting to see exactly what, if any, information these tapes reveal about Saddam’s WMD program and/or the steps he took to either move or hide them in the run up to the war.

This is apparently the issue that refuses to die for the simple reason that there are still many more questions than there are answers. Many have raced to the conclusion that the weapons never existed as if time alone was the determining factor. In reality, new evidence presents itself on a continual basis, and until it is fully parsed, the truth will never be fully known.

If these tapes reveal any verifiable information that can tip the scales in one direction or the other, it would at least be a positive step toward resolving this issue once and for all.
I think we can all agree we are much better served by the truth than we are by speculation.

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Nail, Meet Coffin

HT Michelle Malkin

The despicable behavior of the left has been occurring with greater frequency at the most inapproriate of times, and today's memorial service for Coretta Scott King was, sadly, another case in point. Instead of being solely about the life of Mrs. King, the memorial became another in a long line of inappropriate opportunities to throw political stones.

It should be noted, therefore, that the title has nothing whatsoever to do with Mrs. King, but everything to do with the hacks that appear at these somber occassions and make them about something other than what they were intended.

Rush Limbaugh summed it up perfectly on his radio program today when, returning from a commercial break, he announced that the memorial service to Coretta Scott King had "gone Wellstone". Of course he was referring to the October 2002 memorial service for Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone that turned into little more than a partisan political rally.

Those who recall the Wellstone memorial with disgust will no doubt view the behavior that occurred at today's memorial service for Coretta Scott King in a similar light. Those who find no fault in using a memorial service to promote a political agenda have obviously not learned the lesson of the Wellstone memorial: You don't further your political agenda by being offensive, you destroy it!

President Bush made an eloquent and heartfelt speech in honor of Mrs. King and returned to his seat on the stage. That was apparently too much for Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and former President Jimmy Carter. Instead of reflecting on the words of President Bush, they took the opportunity to pounce:

"She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," Lowery said...

"But Coretta knew, and we know," Lowery continued, "That there are weapons of misdirection right down here," he said, nodding his head toward the row of presidents past and present. "For war, billions more, but no more for the poor!" The crowd again cheered wildly.

As he talked about the Kings, he said: "It was difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps." The crowd cheered as Bush, under fire for a secret wiretapping program he ordered after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, again smiled weakly.

Later, Carter said Hurricane Katrina showed that all are not yet equal in America.

Carter conveniently forgot to mention that the wiretapping of the Kings was done by the Democrat Administration of John F. Kennedy. Instead, it was intended as a slap in the face at President Bush who was sitting behind him on the stage and had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Both Lowery and Carter profess to be godly people, and yet they can't resist the temptation to fire cheap shots at a memorial service. Is this really what they would have the American people believe that godly people do? Do they think we are that stupid?

The Wellstone memorial proved that we are not that stupid, but it is a lesson that the Hate Bush crowd has yet to learn. As a result, the memorial service for Coretta Scott King will be remembered by many, not for the life she lived, but for the political opportunism of two people who should know better. What a shame!

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Contract With Al Qaeda

AJ Strata takes out his blender and combines equal parts of Rush Limbaugh's "Terrorist Bill of Rights" and the 1994 Congressional Republican Contract With America, mixes well, and comes up with....the 2006 Democrat Contract With Al Qaeda.

Here's a sample:

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Democrat majority will immediately pass the following major legislation, aimed at restoring the pre 9-11 mirage of security and world harmony and ending this Administration’s policies for National Security:

FIRST, we will finally kill the Patriot Act so that no member of Al Qaeda will fear using our libraries to access international websites, access their email, or do basic research on major US installations and population centers. We will guarantee full privacy due anyone who makes it to our shores without question. In addition, we will roll back all provisions that put terrorism on an equal footing with Drug Traffickers and Organized Crime, which we understand greatly insults members of Al Qaeda who consider themselves above drug lords.

SECOND, We will enact legislation to release all Al Qaeda members now held in custody in the GITMO Gulag, while providing legal counsel to all who have been unfairly detained during this unfortunate international misunderstanding between Al Qaeda and America. We will ensure all detainees have options for bail and parole so they can continue with their life’s efforts while the legal issues surrounding their detention are worked out. Every ex-detainee will be provided the services of an ACLU lawyer....

Read the whole thing. As hillarious as it is, it would be even more so if it weren't so true!

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Monday, February 06, 2006

A Perfect Response

The Commissar offers the best comeback I've seen to the terroristic and hypocritical reaction of Isalmic extremists to cartoons they feel are an insult to Mohammed. He posts a photo of a burning Norwegian flag and offers the following response:

This is an image of the Cross these people are burning. I am a Christian and my wife’s family is Norwegian. I am deeply offended and insulted. This is gross disrespect to my religion. And because it is my religion, everyone, everywhere has to respect any image that I declare “respectful.”...

But I assure you, I will not be torching the Syrian or Lebanese embassies tomorrow.


(I guess it goes without saying that by responding to the cartoons in this way, the extremists are actually proving how spot on they really are.)

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Thank You For Your Order-Will That Be Daytime Or OverNight

HT: Captain's Quarters

Captain Ed, showing a keen knack for true investigative journalism, dialed the phone number on the sign below:

He got this: Tranquility Incontinence Products

You've got to hand it to those moonbats, they really do their research!

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Controversy

HT: Michelle Malkin

I'm a bit late on this, but Michelle Malkin has been reporting on the media's refusal to publish 12 cartoons that have been deemed offensive by Muslim leaders out of respect for (fear of?)Islam, while showing no reluctance whatsoever in bashing and questioning Christianity at every available opportunity. For the full story, click the link above and keep scrolling.


On the 30th of September 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. Mohammedans raised a storm of protest and two artists went into hiding after receiving death threats. Islamic organisations demanded an apology from the Danish government and the incident turned into a world-wide diplomatic issue. The OIC (the Organisation of the Islamic Conference), the Council of Europe and the UN all criticised the government of Denmark for not taking measures against the newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen defended the freedom of the press and free speech and stated that any measures, if appropriate, could not be taken by the government but only by a court of law. Meanwhile in Islamic countries Danish flags are burned and Danish products are taken off the shelves. Several countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Denmark and armed men attacked the office of the EU in the Gaza strip.

Update 02-03-06: Here are thumbnails of the cartoons in question:

Clicking on the image above will take you to Human Events Online. From there you can click on each individual thumbnail for the enlarged version of each cartoon.

Cox and Forkum weigh in:

As for me, I'll start worrying about the sensitivities of Islamic terrorists just as soon as they stop using suicide bombs, airplanes, saws, swords, box cutters and RPG's to kill innocent people who don't cotton to their world view. As to those who are Islamic but not terrorists: If you are doing nothing to denounce the actions
of these terrorists, you too are part of the problem. If extremist Christians in the name of Jesus were doing to you the same as extemist Muslims are doing to us in the name of Allah, I would be first in line in your defense.

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Not One Dime For Hamas

Jimmy Carter appeared on ”Larry King Live” last night and offered this bit of advice on dealing with Hamas:

(CNN) -- Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday.

Carter, who monitored last week's Palestinian elections in which Hamas handily toppled the ruling Fatah, added that the United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinian people, but rather funnel it through third parties like the U.N.

"If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government," Carter said.

"If there are prohibitions -- like, for instance, in the United States, against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas -- then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF, things of that kind," he added.

I think it’s time for a wake-up call, Mr. President!

Hamas is no different today than they’ve always been. They are a terrorist organization and nothing more. They didn’t win an election and suddenly morph into a peace-loving group that now recognizes Israel’s right to exist. In fact, they have stated the exact opposite: They desire the total elimination of Israel.

It would be irresponsible, and in fact hypocritical given our stance on terrorism, for the United States or any of its allies to continue providing aid under these circumstances. It would be the equivalent of fighting terrorism on one front while funding it on another.

Freedom-loving nations have the duty and the responsibility to distinguish between those who desire peace and those who desire evil and they must respond accordingly. It is, in fact, irresponsible to recognize the legitimacy of any government based solely on vote totals. The legitimacy of a government is determined by what that vote total represents.

In this case it represents not only a victory for Hamas, but also an overwhelming one. The will of the people does not make for a legitimate government if that will indicates support for a leadership that is hostile toward Israel. Israel is our ally; Hamas is a terrorist organization. I would think President Carter could make that distinction.

President Carter proposes an end run around Hamas by funneling humanitarian aid through the UN or UNICEF, but he completely misses the obvious: Giving money to the UN to distribute = money in the bank for Hamas. Does Oil-for-Food ring a bell?

The money doesn’t have to go directly to Hamas for them to take control of it. They will take it directly from the people, the people will freely give it to them, or they will find a way to skim it from whatever account it goes into. The UN has a history of enabling thugs and dictators, so the latter shouldn’t pose much of a problem. In reality, President Carter’s proposal is nothing more than a run straight up the middle with a greasy ball.

Finally, President Carter misses the most obvious fact of all: Any aid to the Palestinian people, regardless of source, is by definition aid to Hamas. They have chosen this government; it was not forced upon them. The government they have chosen is terrorism. If President Carter wants this government to be recognized, then he should be willing to recognize it for what it is.

Elections not only involve numbers, they also involve consequences.

Cross posted at RedState

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