Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Justice Roberts Hospitalized

HUPPER ISLAND — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a seasonal resident of Hupper Island, located off Port Clyde, will be staying overnight at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport following a seizure.

St. George Ambulance responded to a call at about 2 p.m. Monday of a man who had fallen 5 to 10 feet and landed on a dock, hitting the back of his head. The patient was ashen and was foaming at the mouth. National news report quotes a Supreme Court spokeswoman as saying that Roberts was conscious the entire time of the incident. That spokeswoman has not returned a telephone call to the newspaper.

PBMC issued a statement at about 7 p.m., saying that Roberts was being kept overnight as a precaution and was recovered. He suffered some minor scrapes from the fall, the hospital stated. A comprehensive neurological examination was administered to the chief justice and the seizure was determined to be a benign one, the hospital stated. The chief justice suffered a similar seizure in 1993. more

You know the leadership of both parties were holding their breath for a bit there. But for completely different reasons.

Partisanship by the Numbers

The WaPo crunched the numbers of the 110th Congress and discovered that the Dems vote along party lines 92.7% of the time compared to the Republican's measly 88.7%

Here's a lovely chart made by Nick Rivera of The Moderate Voice that gives you the top 20 most and least partisan voters. Notice the main difference between the two.

1-tie. Charles Norwood (R-GA) ……… 100% of 9 votes.
1-tie. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) …………… 100% of 81 votes.
3. Nita Lowey (D-NY) ………………….. 99.% of 700 votes.
4. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA) 99.4% of 169 votes.
5. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) …………… 99.1% of 695 votes.
6. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) ………………. 98.9% of 709 votes.
7. Diana DeGette (D-CO) ……………… 98.7% of 669 votes.
8-tie. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) ……….. 98.6% of 707 votes.
8-tie. Hilda Solis (D-CA) ……………… 98.6% of 721 votes.
8-tie. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) ………… 98.6% of 721 votes.
8-tie. Al Wynn (D-MD) ………………… 98.6% of 694 votes.
12-tie. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) …….. 98.5% of 710 votes.
12-tie. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) ………… 98.5% of 713 votes.
12-tie. Adam Schiff (D-CA) …………… 98.5% of 721 votes.
15. Timothy Bishop (D-NY) …………… 98.4% of 741 votes.
16-tie. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) …………. 98.3% of 715 votes.
16-tie. James Langevin (D-RI) ……….. 98.3% of 724 votes.
16-tie. Doris Matsui (D-CA) ………….. 98.3% of 719 votes.
16-tie. James McGovern (D-MA) ……. 98.3% of 714 votes.
16-tie. Richard Neal (D-MA) …………. 98.3% of 689 votes.
16-tie. David Price (D-NC) …………… 98.3% of 712 votes.
16-tie. John Sarbanes (D-MD) ………. 98.3% of 717 votes.

1. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) …….. 68.4% of 673 votes.
2. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) ……. 74.9% of 718 votes.
3. Christopher Shays (R-CT) …… 75.0% of 673 votes.
4. Ron Paul (R-TX) ………………. 75.3% of 594 votes.
5. Tim Johnson (R-IL) …………… 76.3% of 671 votes.
6. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) ……….. 76.7% of 690 votes.
7-tie. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) ….. 77.0% of 721 votes.
7-tie. Walter Jones (R-NC) …….. 77.0% of 700 votes.
9. Michael Castle (R-DE) ……….. 78.0% of 719 votes.
10. Mark Kirk (R-IL) …………….. 78.4% of 689 votes.
11. James Walsh (R-NY) ……….. 78.6% of 672 votes.
12. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) .. 78.7% of 714 votes.
13. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) …………. 78.8% of 706 votes.
14. Gene Taylor (D-MS) ………. 79.3% of 720 votes.
15-tie. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) …. 79.6% of 721 votes.
15-tie. John McHugh (R-NY) … 79.6% of 719 votes.
15-tie. Ray LaHood (R-IL) …… 79.6% of 642 votes.
18. Tim Murphy (R-PA) ……….. 80.1% of 713 votes.
19. John Barrow (D-GA) ………. 80.3% of 742 votes.
20-tie. David Reichert (R-WA) . 80.7% of 722 votes.
20-tie. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) .. 80.7% of 706 votes

That means that the Democrats get an A- in partisan block voting and the GOP gets a B+. But I'm grading them on a curve due to previous poor performance which means they both come within a point of getting A-. However, should they behave till the end of the session I'll let both of them work together on the Iraq equation for extra credit.

h/t to Memeorandum

Monday, July 30, 2007

Beer Myths Exposed

The following is a public service announcement:

We now rejoin our blog already in progress.

Of Note

Michael J Totten's third article since he arrived in Iraq is up and its my fav so far.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Furball of Doom

I first read this story over at Midtopia and then found video about it so I just couldn't resist.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die: He curls up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live. more

McCain Campaign Continues Circling the Drain

His presidential bid has turned into an endless implosion....

McCain Campaign Is Dealt New Blow as Media Team Resigns

July 26, 2007; Page A4

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain's media team has resigned, an indication that a campaign shake-up two weeks ago is continuing to backfire and further imperil the Arizona Republican's presidential candidacy.

Political ad-makers Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens, veterans of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, on Monday emailed the new campaign manager -- lobbyist and longtime McCain adviser Rick Davis -- to say that they were quitting. The two men told friends they had considered leaving for days, as they hadn't been paid and the campaign's financial straits raised questions of when and how much they would be.


The unraveling of the McCain team this month climaxes months of infighting between other McCain advisers and Mr. Davis. That came against a backdrop of a slide in the polls as Sen. McCain became identified with two unpopular issues, the Iraq war and immigration overhauls. Mr. Davis privately complained to Republicans outside the campaign about the Nelson-Weaver team's strategic leadership, while within the campaign his own actions were a source of building tension. full article

Unfortunately for Mr. McCain this is sounding like one of the final nails in his campaigns coffin. His stance on immigration reform hurt him with the base while his continued support of keeping troops in Iraq hurt him with moderates. But I think what is really hurting him is that this campaign seems like a watered down version of his 2000 campaign. The candor and freshness oft spoken of back then have been replaced by talking points, ambiguous answers, and bad sweaters. Somehow Mr. McCain has gone from being "McCain the maverick" to "McCain the heavily managed career politician". A little advice Mr. McCain:

Ditch the focus groups, managers, and the ambiguity. Call them as you see them, lose the Grandpa sweaters, call BS on every other candidate whenever possible. I can't guarantee you'll win following that advice but at least you'll go out with a bang instead of a whimper. And you'll still have your dignity and the respect of more than a few Americans. Maybe even enough to get elected senator again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Enemy of My Enemy....is Israel?

Arab League extends 'hand of peace' to Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — Arab League envoys paid a historic visit to Israel on Wednesday to present a plan for a regional settlement, saying they were extending "a hand of peace" on behalf of the Arab world.
The one-day visit by the foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan marked the first time the 22-member group has sent representatives to Israel. The Arab League peace plan envisions full recognition of Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East War. full article

Simply put Iran and its proxies have overplayed their hand. By showing that they are willing to train, arm, and finance terrorists/militias within their neighbors borders they have proven themselves to be the greater evil. (Plus there is that whole nuculer weapon thingy.)

Additionally since America has essentially turned a Sunni controlled sectarian state into a Shiite controlled semi-religious state the balance of power in the region has been broken and the only country capable of filling the void is you guessed it....Israel. If this meeting leads to formal relations it will mean that the U.S. accidentally brought peace to the Middle East by invading Iraq. How's that for irony?

Of Note

Michael Totten has his second post up. He's now embedded with the 82nd Airborne as they patrol a part of Baghdad pacified by the surge.

And over at Eunomia a conservative takes a look at the misconceptions he had about conservatives and the press prior to the Iraq war. h/t Good Will Hinton

Clinton's Obama Conundrum

Democratic Front-Runners Tangle After Monday Night's Debate

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said today that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, made comments that were "irresponsible and frankly naive" when he said in Monday night's debate that he would meet with leaders of rogue nations during his first year in office.

Clinton's response, made in an interview with an Iowa newspaper, marks the sharpest exchange to date between the top two Democratic candidates for president and the first time Clinton has explicitly attacked another Democratic candidate.

It represents an elevation in a simmering dispute between the two camps, and a continuation of a specific argument at Monday's debate.

The question that sparked the controversy at Monday's debate seemed simple enough: Would the candidates for president be willing to meet, within their first year in office, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea?

Obama said yes, while Clinton said no, arguing that the president should only meet with world leaders who are hostile to the United States after lower-level diplomatic contacts are conducted. In an interview today with the Quad City Times, Clinton more directly criticized Obama's answer.

"I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive," Clinton said, according to a story posted on the newspaper's Web site.

Striking back, Obama called the newspaper Tuesday, saying what was "irresponsible and naive" was voting to authorize the Iraq war.

"What she's somehow maintaining is my statement could be construed as not having asked what the meeting was about. I didn't say these guys were going to come over for a cup of coffee some afternoon," he said, calling this a "fabricated controversy." more

Obama's full answer was:

"I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region."

Edwards got a bye on this question since he had the luxury of answering after Clinton. What's interesting to me is that Clinton opted to go after Obama for supplying a direct answer rather than a nuanced one. The fact that she's splitting hairs in order to make an attack tells me that she considers Obama a real threat to her nomination.

What Clinton doesn't seem to have grasped is that she needs to be careful on when, how, and why she attacks Obama. In past races the nominee could count on the majority of Dem's backing them after their first choice failed to win the nomination. However since Obama is pulling in many independents and some moderate Republicans there is no guarantee that she would reap a windfall of Obama supporters should she win the nomination. This is especially true if Bloomberg runs or Unity08 successfully fields a Dem presidential candidate with a GOP Vice Presidential candidate or a GOP presidential candidate with Obama as VP. (If they run head to head odds are they both lose.)

Given the fact that voters from both sides of the aisle dislike Clinton and that voter dissatisfaction is high she has to beat Obama on the issues rather than through attacks if she wants enough of his supporters to remain engaged and back her. Otherwise she risks losing the election by winning the nomination.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quick Note

I've been using the time normally spent blogging to get ready to upgrade and move Donklephant.com to a new server.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Press vs John Edwards

Many seem to be of the opinion that the national press corp doesn't like John Edwards. Which I can understand as as I don't much care for him myself. However since I don't have a really strong feeling about him or any major factual basis for my dislike I keep it to myself. Hence, I originally blew off the idea until I read this today from the NY Post

by Charles Hurt
Trailing in the polls, John Edwards spent the past week telling the poor and downtrodden how much he cares about them.

He even insisted that his Kennedy-esque "poverty tour" was not part of his campaign to capture the White House.

Yeah, just like all those years he spent latched to the back bumper of an ambulance were all out of the goodness of his heart.

That and the $38 million fortune he amassed as the most successful personal-injury lawyer in North Carolina history.

What made Edwards such a brilliant attorney - and a pretty good politician - is his ability to look you in the eye while picking your pocket and convince you that's really not his hand on your wallet.

And so he stopped in the hinterlands of Wise, Va., to commiserate with the poor there who can't afford health care. Even if they could, they'd have to drive a hundred miles to find a doctor.

"We're here to help," Edwards assured them.

There are plenty of causes for this sad heath-care situation. But Edwards wasn't talking about one of the biggest causes - the cause he is among the most responsible for.

"The primary factor is liability insurance," said Dr. Stuart Weinstein, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Iowa. "It's either too expensive in areas like that or simply not available anymore."

Virginia's medical-liability insurance rates - driven largely by the very types of lawsuits that made Edwards a multimillionaire many times over - have more than doubled in three years, according to the nonpartisan Medical Liability Monitor.

In Edwards' home state, those premiums quadrupled. As a result, doctors have fled rural areas or quit practicing altogether.

Here to help?

No, thanks.

So it seems that there may be something to the claim as Chucky didn't once bother to quote a source, cite a reference, or provide communication frequencies to the mothership that told him all of this. I know the NY Post doesn't specialize in things like truth, accuracy, or reason but come on. What I do know is that the NY Post isn't brave enough to go where no press has gone before ( thereby risking a libel or slander suit). So maybe there is something to the claim.

Bloggers usually state their biases either up front or over the course of time but MSM journalists(outside of editorials) usually don't and aren't required to. Those biases were first recognized by the right but the blatant lack of professionalism the media has sunk to over the past few years have made it apparent that "objective journalism" is in real peril. (No, not the Castle Arghhh! type of peril.)

The anti-Edwards bias is just the latest example of that. We all need to make a point of calling BS on the press whenever we find it even if it isn't to our political advantage otherwise the press will never have cause to change. The majority still rely on the MSM for candidate information and an ill informed electorate is a greater threat to true democracy than all of the hanging chads in Florida.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Of Note

Michael J Totten has arrived in Iraq. Take some time to drop by and get a blogs eye view of what things are currently like there.

FOX News Poll: Republicans Losing Ground in ’08 Race

Either the GOP candidates are in trouble or Fox is trying to lull the Dems into a false sense of security.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton now holds a slight lead over top Republican Rudy Giuliani for the first time in a hypothetical 2008 presidential matchup. In fact, to varying degrees, Clinton and fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama beat every Republican candidate they are tested against in the latest FOX News Poll.

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from July 17 to July 18. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

In seven different head-to-head matchups, the poll shows the Democratic candidate tops the Republican. While this had been the case when Clinton was tested against Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, this is the first time she has the advantage over Giuliani.

By a 5 percentage point margin, voters say they would back Clinton over Giuliani (46 percent to 41 percent) if the election were held today. Clinton also leads McCain by 3 points (45 percent to 42 percent), Romney by 15 points (50 percent to 35 percent) and the yet-to-announce Fred Thompson by 9 points (47 percent to 38 percent).

In addition, voters think Clinton would do a better job than Giuliani handling the situation in Iraq (45 percent to 40 percent).

Although Obama is still well behind Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, he also improves his performance against the Republicans in matchups this month and has a 4-point edge over Giuliani (45 percent to 41 percent). Moreover, Obama does better than Clinton against the other top Republican contenders; he leads McCain by 10 points (47 percent to 37 percent) and Thompson by 16 percent (48 percent to percent).

When voters are asked which one candidate they would pick to sit down and have a conversation with, 26 percent say Clinton, 18 percent Obama, 12 percent Giuliani, 8 percent McCain and 7 percent Thompson.

Among Democrats, 41 percent would pick Clinton and 26 percent Obama; no other candidate receives double-digits. Among Republicans, 25 percent say they would want to have a conversation with Giuliani, 15 percent McCain and 15 percent Thompson — and 12 percent of Republicans pick Clinton and 9 percent Obama.

And when asked which candidate they would definitely vote for under "almost any circumstances," once again Clinton tops the list with 17 percent compared to 10 percent for Obama, 9 percent Giuliani, 4 percent Al Gore, 4 percent McCain and 4 percent Thompson.

Democrats are much more definitive here, with 31 percent saying they would definitely vote for Clinton under almost any circumstances and 18 percent for Obama. For Republicans, 18 percent say they would definitely vote for Giuliani under almost any circumstances, 9 percent Thompson and 8 percent McCain.

The former first lady’s polarizing effect comes through in the poll, as Clinton also wins the flip side of the question with three times as many people saying they would "never vote for" her under any circumstances than say that about any other candidate.

Overall, half of voters think Giuliani has enough experience to be president, and 64 percent of Republicans think so.

For Obama, many voters either think he lacks the right experience or are unsure. Just over a third of voters (35 percent) think he has the right experience, including 47 percent of Democrats. In December, 22 percent of voters thought Obama had the right experience.

More voters think Clinton is basing her candidacy on her own experience (45 percent) than on her husband Bill’s experience (30 percent); 20 percent say both.

"It is clear that the current climate in the country is helping the Democrats," comments Opinion Dynamics CEO John Gorman. "While the Clinton legacy is a polarizing factor, the Bush presidency may be even more polarizing. Compared to Al Gore’s attempt to separate himself from Clinton in 2000, the eventual Republican nominee may face an even harder task." more

I know campaign season is officially five months away but if the GOP doesn't field a strong, seemingly moral, and interesting candidate soon the race may end up really being between Clinton and Obama (and maybe Bloomberg). However if Ron Paul opts to run (which I feel he may if Bloomberg doesn't) as an independent he'll siphon off Republican enough votes to throw the election to the Dems by a clear majority.

Obama: Don't stay in Iraq over genocide

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven't done," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

"We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea," he said.
"We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they're asking the wrong question," he said. "We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade."

Obama said the answer to Iraq — and other civil conflicts — lies in diplomacy.

"When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they're under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can't solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun," he said. "There's got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts." full article

He's almost has a point there but it skips the fact that we didn't directly cause the problems in Chad and Sudan. However provided he (or anyone) were to start the aforementioned diplomatic process months prior to any withdrawal, that would be a plan I could get behind. Mr. Obama's plan, while sparse on details, at least sounds more like a plan than a talking point.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Devil We Know

Hamilton urges U.S. to rout al Qaeda from Pakistan
(CNN) -- U.S. forces should go into Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains on the border with Afghanistan, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group said.

Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who also served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, says the Iraq war distracted the United States when it had al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on the run in the tribal region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He says it's now time to finish the job.

"This has to be carefully calibrated, worked out with the Pakistanis, but I am very concerned that you have a safe haven in Pakistan today where they (al Qaeda) can regroup, rethink, and get ready for more attacks," Hamilton said on CNN's "Newsroom" on Wednesday.

Declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate released Tuesday reported that al Qaeda has "protected or regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack the United States while in this region.

Some intelligence analysts believe bin Laden and his second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are hiding in western Pakistan. more

He's right. We should go after them. But the question is can we afford to? Musharraff is barely in a politically tenable position in the cities. He had previously signed over control of much of the rural areas to local tribal leaders in order to remain in power. Its highly questionable as to whether or not he can allow us to perform such an operation let alone allow his military to participate in it and stay in power. No matter how little you may think of Musharraff you have to admit that he a: knows where his nukes are b: knows how many nukes he has c: hasn't used any of them and d: hasn't sold them or the recipe/blueprints to anyone.

The fact that we haven't gone in after Al Qaeda in Pakistan strongly suggests that Musharraff would be out of power if we did. If he loses power in a cioux we have no guarantee that a through d remain true. So for better or for worse he is, if nothing else, the devil we know.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Greatest Living American

I rarely read more than an article from the Huff Po (I do however appreciate the traffic they send to me) but this story they nailed. Today Norman Borlaug (1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for saving the lives of millions of people.

"Born 1914 in Cresco, Iowa, Borlaug has saved more lives than anyone else who has ever lived. A plant breeder, in the 1940s he moved to Mexico to study how to adopt high-yield crops to feed impoverished nations. Through the 1940s and 1950s, Borlaug developed high-yield wheat strains, then patiently taught the new science of Green Revolution agriculture to poor farmers of Mexico and nations to its south. When famine struck India and Pakistan in the mid-1960s, Borlaug and a team of Mexican assistants raced to the Subcontinent and, often working within sight of artillery flashes from the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, sowed the first high-yield cereal crop in that region; in a decade, India's food production increased sevenfold, saving the Subcontinent from predicted Malthusian catastrophes. Borlaug moved on to working in South America. Every nation his green thumb touched has known dramatic food production increases plus falling fertility rates (as the transition from subsistence to high-tech farm production makes knowledge more important than brawn), higher girls' education rates (as girls and young women become seen as carriers of knowledge rather than water) and rising living standards for average people. Last fall, Borlaug crowned his magnificent career by persuading the Ford, Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates foundations to begin a major push for high-yield farming in Africa, the one place the Green Revolution has not reached." full article

For all that it's worth Mr. Borlaug I hereby award you The Crapomatic Institute's first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Live long and prosper.

H/T to Central Sanity

Iraqis Being Smuggled Across the Rio Grande

From The Blotter:

The FBI is investigating an alleged human smuggling operation based in Chaparral, N.M., that agents say is bringing "Iraqis and other Middle Eastern" individuals across the Rio Grande from Mexico.

An FBI intelligence report distributed by the Washington, D.C. Joint Terrorism Task Force, obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com, says the illegal ring has been bringing Iraqis across the border illegally for more than a year.

Border Patrol officials in the area said they were unaware of the specifics of the FBI's report, and federal prosecutors in New Mexico told ABCNews.com they had no current cases involving the illegal smuggling of Iraqis.

The FBI report, issued last week, says the smuggling organization "used to smuggle Mexicans, but decided to smuggle Iraqi or other Middle Eastern individuals because it was more lucrative." Each individual would be charged a fee of $20,000 to $25,000, according to the report. more

Hey, wasn't that one of the reason's the 9/11 commission said border security was important? Yep.

Has either party done much about it? Nope.

Why? Because one party doesn't want to upset its donors and the other doesn't want to upset its voters.

It's enough to make one wonder when sane solutions to national security issues will be more important than a party's perpetuation of political power.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

None of the Above

From the AP:

WASHINGTON - And the leading Republican presidential candidate is ... none of the above.
The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals. Such dissatisfaction underscores the volatility of the 2008 GOP nomination fight.
A half year before voting begins, the survey shows the White House race is far more wide open on the Republican side than on the Democratic. The uneven enthusiasm about the fields also is reflected in fundraising in which Democrats outraised Republicans $80 million to $50 million from April through June, continuing a trend from the year's first three months.

More Republicans have become apathetic about their top options over the past month.

A hefty 23 percent can't or won't say which candidate they would back, a jump from the 14 percent who took a pass in June.

Giuliani's popularity continued to decline steadily as he faced a spate of headline headaches, came under increased scrutiny and saw the potential entry of Thompson in the mix; his support is at 21 percent compared with 27 percent in June and 35 percent in March.

The former New York mayor is running virtually even with Thompson, who has become a threat without even officially entering the race. The actor and former Tennessee senator has essentially stayed steady at 19 percent. McCain, the Arizona senator who is revamping his nearly broke campaign, clocked in a bit lower at 15 percent, while Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, remained at 11 percent.

None of the top candidates has a clear lead among Christian evangelicals, a critical part of the GOP base that has had considerable sway in past Republican primaries. Giuliani, a thrice-married backer of abortion rights and gay rights, had 20 percent support — roughly even with Thompson and McCain who have one divorce each in their pasts. Romney, a Mormon who has been married for three decades, was in the single digits.

Nine Republicans and one all-but-declared hopeful, Thompson, make up the crowded GOP field. It shrunk in recent days when former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, an underfunded long shot, dropped out. Such discontent with the top-tier could lead Republicans to reconsider lesser-knowns such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback.

Andrew E. Smith, a polling expert at the University of New Hampshire, said the number of voters in flux is no surprise, given that the primaries aren't for another six months. "People really don't decide who to vote for until the last couple months or days," he said. full article

I can see why interest in the candidates are low. No one candidate has the record, the credentials , and is perceived as having the right moral fiber. You have some Reagan lites, some Dubya lites, Giuliani, and that Ron Paul guy.

The "money quote" form this story is, "I'm looking for a strong, honest person. Do you know of any?" and to many Republicans the answer seems to be no.

One has to wonder if they are looking at their line up of contenders and asking themselves,"Where's our Obama?"

Obama Girl vs Giuliani Girl

Part two in the series...

In the third video Obama Girl finally reaches Mount Doom and throws a ballot box into its fiery chasm just in time to keep Ron Paul from being victorious.

H/T to TMV

Darfur Being Resettled by Arabs

This sheds an even uglier light on things.

From The Independent:

Arabs pile into Darfur to take land 'cleansed' by janjaweed
By Steve Bloomfield, Africa Correspondent

Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in "unprecedented" numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war- ravaged region.

An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.

One UN official said the process "appeared to have been well planned". The official continued: "This movement is very large. We have not seen such numbers come into west Darfur before."

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, sent a team to the border with Chad at the end of May to interview the new arrivals. Fighting in eastern Chad has been steadily increasing and it was thought that many could be refugees. But only a very small number have required support from UNHCR.

"Most have been relocated by Sudanese Arabs to former villages of IDPs (internally displaced people) and more or less invited to stay there," said the UN official. more

Christian Crime Continues

If it weren't for the fact that this guy is probably mentally unbalanced I'd be declaring it International Religious Intolerance Month.

Murder suspect says he was doing God's work

A Cypress man charged in the death of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant said Saturday that he was doing God's work when he went to a Montrose-area bar last month, hunting for a gay man to kill.

"I believe I'm Elijah, called by God to be a prophet," said 26-year-old Terry Mark Mangum, charged with murder June 11. " ... I believe with all my heart that I was doing the right thing."

Interviewed in the Brazoria County Jail Saturday morning, Mangum said he feels no remorse for killing 46-year-old Kenneth Cummings Jr., whom relatives described as a "loving" son who never forgot a holiday and a devoted uncle who had set up college funds for his niece and nephew. He worked at Southwest for 24 years.

Mangum, who described himself as "definitely not a homosexual," said God called on him to "carry out a code of retribution" by killing a gay man because "sexual perversion" is the "worst sin."

Mangum believed Cummings to be gay.

"I planned on sending him to hell," he said.

Cummings disappeared June 4. His charred remains were found June 16, buried on a 50-acre ranch near San Antonio owned by Mangum's 90-year-old grandfather. more

A Hat Tip goes to Andrew Sullivan for pointing out this story. However given the recent attempted church fire bombings by self styled radical Christian activists I find it odd that he opted to use a story about a man who is probably mentally ill to set up his question,"And this is different from Islamist barbarism how, exactly?" when there are much better recent examples available that don't have such an easy answer/defense.

However his post did however receive and interesting rebuttal from a reader and a thoughtful post by Kevin Sullivan which is well worth reading.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Song Remains the Same..

though the shoe is on the other foot:

Courtesy of Bob Geiger

Forcing his Republican colleagues to put up or shut up on the notion of an up-or-down vote, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just moments ago announced that he will immediately file a cloture motion on the Reed-Levin troop redeployment bill and, if Republicans follow through with a filibuster, will place the Senate in a prolonged all-night session Tuesday to force a true continuation of debate.

"Now, Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end," said Reid. "They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops. They are denying us an up or down – yes or no – vote on the most important issue our country faces."

The Reed-Levin amendment to the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization Bill requires George W. Bush to "commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act" and mandates a withdrawal of most combat forces by April 30, 2008. more

It wasn't that long ago that the Dems were the ones resisting a straight up or down vote on judicial nominees with threats of a filibuster and the GOP was crying foul. It's behavior like this that has soured many Americans on the political process. Each party behaves as poorly as the other when in power. The Dems would be much better off focusing on bills that they know they can get passed then spending time on those they know they can't. Because should 2008 roll around and the people find this majority party as ineffective and/or corrupt as the last there's a very real chance that neither party will have control of both the House and the Senate. (Which may happen anyway.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

U.S. Warns Of Stronger Al-Qaeda

I thought the Iraq war was a bad idea. That's mainly because I believe in finishing one job before moving on to the next. Its the easiest way to ensure that you don't end up with two jobs done half assed which is exactly what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Administration Report Cites Havens in Pakistan

By Spencer S. Hsu and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 12, 2007; A01

Six years after the Bush administration declared war on al-Qaeda, the terrorist network is gaining strength and has established a safe haven in remote tribal areas of western Pakistan for training and planning attacks, according to a new Bush administration intelligence report to be discussed today at a White House meeting.

The report, a five-page threat assessment compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center, is titled "Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West," intelligence officials said. It concludes that the group has significantly rebuilt itself despite concerted U.S. attempts to smash the network.

Although the officials declined to discuss the assessment's content because it is classified, the CIA's deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, told a House committee yesterday that al-Qaeda appears "to be fairly well settled into the safe haven in the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan."

"We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications," Kringen said. more

It's become obvious that we didn't truly defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, we only evicted them. Now we can't or won't strike at them directly while they can bide their time and strike at their leisure. Now that Pres. Al Maliki has given us his blessing to leave Iraq the Dems have a new tool to use in pushing for a withdrawl (which isn't happening as long as W is in office) my question is what do the Dems plan to do about Afghanistan, The Taliban, Al Qaeda once that has occured. We've heard little from any candidate about what their plans are once are troops are home. Should this prove to be a close race for the DNC nomination having a comprehensive plan may turn out to be the tie breaker.

IAEA approves atom bomb shutdown mission to N.Korea

I forgot to blog this the other day...

More nuclear good news:

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog's governing body agreed on Monday to send monitors to North Korea to verify a shutdown of its atomic bomb program, launching what is likely to be a long and arduous disarmament process.

It would be the first International Atomic Energy Agency mission in the reclusive Stalinist state since it expelled IAEA inspectors in 2002 after Washington accused it of a clandestine effort to refine nuclear fuel.

Clearance for IAEA monitors to fly into North Korea was expected once Pyongyang receives a first batch of fuel later this week, pledged as part of its February disarmament accord with the United States and four other powers.

South Korea said a ship carrying the fuel would leave on Thursday on a voyage likely to take two days.

In a special session, the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors approved by consensus the return of nuclear monitors to North Korea 10 days after senior IAEA and North Korean officials agreed ground rules for verifying the atomic halt.

Diplomats said nine monitors would install security cameras and place seals on infrastructure in Yongbyon, including its 5 megawatt reactor where North Korea has produced plutonium, leading to its first test nuclear explosion last October. more

Another case of a poor economy, sanctions, and diplomacy getting results. In both N. Korea and Iran's case I'm curious as to whether or not this just appeasement to get the sanctions lifted. If so we'll start seeing them stall and restricting access to facilities shortly after sanctions are lifted. But I'd love for this current positive trend to continue.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Unleashing the Badgers of War

British blamed for Basra badgers

British forces have denied rumours that they released a plague of ferocious badgers into the Iraqi city of Basra.

Word spread among the populace that UK troops had introduced strange man-eating, bear-like beasts into the area to sow panic.

But several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers.

The rumours spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.

UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area. more

If that isn't an illustration of how hard it is to win hearts and minds in Iraq then nothing is.

Besides, it's so obvious that it's a chupacabra.

Iran Takes a Step Back

In what seems like a sudden reversal from its President's rhetoric Iran has opted to allow nuclear inspectors into one of its plutonium producing reactors. Odds are the threat of further sanctions coupled with Iran's current gas rationing are causal in this decision. I'm curious if W will use this as an opportunity to open a dialog with Iran, will Iran allow further inspection if he does, and what will be enough for certain hawks to stop beating the drums of war?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Week in Intolerance

Did somebody make this International Religious Intolerance Week and forget to notify the calender makers?

I opened on the fifth with Of Paganism and Pundits,followed that with a post about Christians trying to firebomb another Christian church, then two days ago the Pope declared that all other churches weren't true churches, and today we have this:

From The Times of India:

Christian activists disrupt Hindu prayer in US Senate
WASHINGTON: Christian activists briefly disrupted a Hindu invocation in the US Senate on Thursday, marring a historic first for the chamber and showing that fundamentalism is present and shouting in the US too.

Invited by the Senate to offer Hindu prayers in place of the usual Christian invocation, Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest from Reno, Nevada, had just stepped up to the podium for the landmark occasion when three protesters, said to belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, interrupted by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the ''false prayer'' of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester shouted. "This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before you."

Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who was serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately asked the sergeant-at-arms to restore order. But they continued to protest as they were headed out the door by the marshals, shouting, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!" more

Operation Save America issued the following press release:

WASHINGTON, July 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.

"Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them." Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America/Operation Rescue

Somehow I don't think their behavior fell in line with that "Do unto others.." thing Jesus was always talking about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One Less Flower in Texas

Lady Bird Johnson passed away today. If you haven't spent much time in Texas its hard to understand how well loved she was here. I have never heard her name spoken without respect and frequently with reverence. On that note, and keep in mind I rarely agree with our governor, but I give him points for getting this much right:

"She inspired generations of Americans with her graceful strength, unwavering commitment to family and keen sense of social justice. Her unflagging efforts to beautify our highways and byways are a lasting legacy, through which our state will forever bear the unmistakable signature of a genuine Texan." — Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

AUSTIN, Texas - Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady who championed conservation and worked tenaciously for the political career of her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, died Wednesday, a family spokeswoman said. She was 94.

As first lady, she was perhaps best known as the determined environmentalist who wanted roadside billboards and junkyards replaced with trees and wildflowers. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Washington. The $320 million Highway Beautification Bill, passed in 1965, was known as "The Lady Bird Bill," and she made speeches and lobbied Congress to win its passage.

"Had it not been for her, I think that the whole subject of the environment might not have been introduced to the public stage in just the way it was and just the time it was. So she figures mightily, I think, in the history of the country if for no other reason than that alone," Harry Middleton, retired director of the LBJ Library and Museum, once said.

She and her daughters remained active in her wildflower advocacy and with the LBJ Library in Austin after the former president's death in 1973. Into her 90s, Lady Bird Johnson made occasional public appearances at the library and at civic and political events, always getting a rousing reception.

President Gerald Ford appointed her to the advisory council to the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, and President Jimmy Carter named her to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships. Her long list of honors and medals include the country's highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, bestowed in 1977 by Ford.

She was born Claudia Alta Taylor on Dec. 22, 1912, in the small East Texas town of Karnack. Her father was Thomas Jefferson Taylor, a wealthy rancher and merchant. Her mother was the former Minnie Lee Patillo of Alabama, who loved books and music.

Lady Bird Johnson received her nickname in infancy from a caretaker nurse who said she was as "pretty as a lady bird." It was the name by which the world would come to know her. She disliked it, but said later, "I made my peace with it."

When Lady Bird was 5, her mother died, and her aunt, Effie Patillo, came to care for her and two older brothers.

She graduated from Marshall High School at age 15 and prepared for college at St. Mary's Episcopal School for Girls in Dallas. At the University of Texas in Austin she studied journalism and took enough education courses to qualify as a public school teacher. She received a bachelor of arts degree in 1933 and a bachelor of journalism in 1934.

In December 1972, the Johnsons gave the LBJ Ranch house and surrounding property to the United States as a National Historic Site, retaining a life estate for themselves. The property is to transfer to the federal park service after her death.

The family's privately held broadcasting company — later overseen by Luci Baines Johnson — was sold in March 2003 to Emmis Communications of Indianapolis. Lady Bird Johnson had been a director of the radio company in her later years and even attended most board meetings before her 2002 stroke.

On her 70th birthday, in 1982, she and Helen Hayes founded the National Wildflower Research Center near Austin, later renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The research and education center is dedicated to the preservation and use of wildflowers and native plants.

"I'm optimistic that the world of native plants will not only survive, but will thrive for environmental and economic reasons, and for reasons of the heart. Beauty in nature nourishes us and brings joy to the human spirit," Lady Bird Johnson wrote.

In addition to her two daughters, survivors include seven grandchildren, a step-grandchild, and several great-grandchildren. full article

She may have been first lady of the nation for only a short while but she will remain the first lady of Texas' heart for years to come.

Sen. Vitter Snared in Prostitution Investigation

From the WaPo:

Senator's Number on 'Madam' Phone List

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.

The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004.

The service's proprietor, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, faces federal charges of racketeering for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area. Authorities say the business netted more than $2 million over 13 years beginning in 1993. Palfrey contends that her escort service was a legitimate business.

"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter, 46, said in a statement, which his spokesman, Joel DiGrado, confirmed to the Associated Press.

"Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling," Vitter continued. "Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way." more

That Vitter ran as a conservative Christian family values candidate makes this ironic. However don't lose sight of the fact that he is just the first person to be uncovered in this scandal. By the time all is said and done we could have enough politicians on the list to hold a decent midterm election.

NAACP Buries the N Word

From the WaPo:

NAACP Symbolically Buries N-Word

DETROIT -- There was no mourning at this funeral. Hundreds of onlookers cheered Monday afternoon as the NAACP put to rest a long-standing expression of racism by holding a public burial for the N-word during its annual convention.

Delegates from across the country marched from downtown Detroit's Cobo Center to Hart Plaza. Two Percheron horses pulled a pine box adorned with a bouquet of fake black roses and a black ribbon printed with a derivation of the word.

The coffin is to be placed at historically black Detroit Memorial Park Cemetery and will have a headstone.

"Today we're not just burying the N-word, we're taking it out of our spirit," said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "We gather burying all the things that go with the N-word. We have to bury the 'pimps' and the 'hos' that go with it." more

I wish it were that easy. I'm also wondering if it'll backfire since making the word even more taboo will only increase its shock value which raises its value to certain comedians and musicians. I'm prone to think that the usage of the word is only a symptom of a larger set of problems that the NAACP, government, and society in general aren't capable of handling until the issues can be discussed in a blunt and open manner and to be honest I don't think America is quite there yet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Of Note

The Moderate Voice has an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee today drop by and read it here.

You can also read TMV's interview with Ron Paul here

The difference between the two is interesting though. Paul's staffers pointed TMV to links on his site that answered their questions while Huckabee actually completed their interview himself.

Al-Qaeda Threatens War With Iran

Courtesy of Memeorandum

From Al Jazeera:

The leader of an al-Qaeda umbrella group in Iraq, who was thought to have beeen killed by US forces, has threatened to wage war against Iran unless it stops supporting Shias in Iraq within two months.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, head of the Islamic State in Iraq, said his Sunni fighters have been preparing to wage a battle against Shia-dominated Iran. Al-Baghdadi made the announcement in an audiotape that was posted on a web site commonly used by armed groups.
"We are giving the Persians, and especially the rulers of Iran, a two-month period to end all kinds of support for the Iraqi Shia government and to stop direct and indirect intervention ... otherwise a severe war is waiting for you," al-Baghdadi said.

In the recording, al-Baghdadi also gave Sunnis and Arab countries doing business in Iran or with Iranians a two-month deadline to cease their ties.
"We advise and warn every Sunni businessman inside Iran or in Arab countries especially in the Gulf not to take partnership with any Shia Iranian businessman, this is part of the two-month period," he said. full article

The only possible downside for the U.S. is that W might take it as a sign from God that it's time to redouble our efforts.

How exactly is Al Qaeda planning on defeating Iran? Two words. Spy Squirrels.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Hello? Media? Hellooo......

Syria invaded Lebanon. Where's the 24/7 News coverage? Where's the blow by blow reporting?

From Michael J Totten's blog:

A few days ago Lebanese daily newspaper Al Mustaqbal quietly reported a limited Syrian invasion of Lebanon. (Via Naharnet.)Syrian troops on Thursday reportedly have penetrated three kilometers into Lebanese territories, taking up positions in the mountains near Yanta in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

The daily Al Mustaqbal, citing sources who confirmed the cross-border penetration, did not say when the procedure in the Fahs Hill overlooking Deir al-Ashaer in the Rashaya province took place.

The sources said Syrian troops, backed by bulldozers, were fortifying positions "in more than one area" along the Lebanese border, erecting earth mounds and digging "hundreds" of trenches and individual bunkers. more

Syria has advised that all of its citizens leave Lebanon as there will be "an expected "eruption" in that country"

So why didn't this offensive move get the same level of coverage as Israel's defensive incursion?

I'm afraid the only answers I can come up with either laziness, boredom, or bias. And I'm leaning towards bias because if Israel had done the same thing the Media would have been on that story like white on rice.


Drop by Mr Totten's blog as he's currently on a self/reader funded trip to embed himself in an American unit in Iraq.

Bong Hits for Jesus - The Game

It was bound to happen.

All you have to do is decide whether or not to suspend the student for the message shown. I unfairly suspended one student and let one slide that I could have suspended.

Hat tip to Tuscon Scene

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Christian Terrorists Are Inept Too

Three Burleson men who belong to a "radical Christian activist group" were in the Johnson County Jail on Friday night after a church deacon caught two of them attempting to ignite an explosive device on Independence Day at a church under construction in north Burleson, authorities said Friday.

Dayton Lee Calaway, 19, and Michael Philip Plaisted Jr., 18, were arrested Wednesday night near the Victory Family Church after they got bogged down in mud as a fleet-footed deacon chased them from the church in the 400 block of Northwest John Jones Drive, police said.

Two other people drove away, the deacon told officers.

An explosive device in a glass container was found propped against the church door. The suspects apparently tried to detonate the device twice before being interrupted by the deacon, police and Burleson Fire Marshal Stacy Singleton said.


On Thursday, Jered Michael Ragon, 18, voluntarily went to the police station for questioning after Calaway and Plaisted implicated him, police Detective T. Catron said. Police called a MedStar ambulance because Ragon's feet were burned, and a emergency medical crew treated him at the station.

Ragon had gotten gasoline on his feet as he tried to destroy evidence from the church fire in the field, and his feet were burned, Catron said.


Cmdr. Chris Havens, the Police Department spokesman, said the suspects boasted about belonging to a leaderless group of 10 or 15 who share a belief that society has become too focused on self-improvement and self-gratification and has lost focus on the glorification of God.

"They admit to being Christian and being brought up Christian, but they believe there should be one denomination and one church, not multiple denominations," Havens said.

"They did not say they had a name for their group, other than they were a radical Christian activist group. That was the way they explained their group," he said.

The suspects said the group has three levels of involvement: Bible study, consensual fighting and destructive acts. Because one of their beliefs is free thought, however, participation in all three levels is not mandatory, they told police.

The three admitted to being in a core group of seven that created the explosive weapon as a test to draw attention to the demise of society and to see whether the device would work, Havens said. full article

I know that every religion has its percentage of whack jobs but this is the third attempted bombing this year and the first to not target an abortion clinic (or suspected abortion clinic) plus there was one incident of arson at a Planned Parenthood to boot.

It almost seems like Christian nutjobs are tired of Muslim nutjobs hogging the headlines. Its far more likely that the amount of manpower diverted to keeping tabs on Muslim radicals has given Christianity's radicals some breathing room.

Thankfully their competency level has been zero in the bombing department so far. Let's just pray that it stays that way.

U.S. Scrapped '05 Raid on Top Al Qaeda Leaders

U.S. Aborted Raid on Qaeda Chiefs in Pakistan in ’05

WASHINGTON, July 7 — A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said. He was also concerned that it could cause a rift with Pakistan, an often reluctant ally that has barred the American military from operating in its tribal areas, the officials said. more

Now if you bought into The Path to 9/11's story this administration has something in common with the last. I can understand the logic of not violating your allies' border with a couple hundred troops. I'm sure there would have been serious political unrest in Pakistan had we done so with or without Mushareff's permission. I am however curious as to why we didn't bomb the meeting site. Perhaps the administration strongly preferred capturing them and pumping them for intel or would have rather let Zawahiri walk and hopefully lead us to Bin Laden.

One thing is for certain. It's going to be hard for the Administration to continue to bill itself as being tough on terror when its choosing to let them wander out of our sights.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Ron Paul: Bringing Home the Bacon

Indicators are that Mr.Paul's internet based fund raising machine is working pretty darn well.

Ron Paul Tops McCain in Cash on Hand

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Reports:

Though often regarded as a longshot candidate for president, Republican Ron Paul tells ABC News that he has an impressive $2.4 million in cash on hand after raising an equal amount during the second quarter, putting him ahead of one-time Republican frontrunner John McCain, who reported this week he has only $2 million in the bank.

In an exclusive interview taped Friday and airing Sunday on "This Week," Paul said his campaign is on a better trajectory than McCain's.

"I think some of the candidates are on the down-slope, and we're on the up-slope," said Paul.

Paul's cash on hand puts him in third place in the Republican field in that important metric, although he is well behind leader Rudy Giuliani, who has $18 million in the bank, and Mitt Romney, with $12 million.

Paul, who polls show with support in the low single digits, said his surprisingly strong fundraising is the best measure of his support. more

Again the real question will be how much he reports for the quarter and how many donors total. If he can beat Obama's quarter million donors he might actually have a chance.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ron Paul Nearly Excluded in S.C.

Frome the Spartanburg Herald Journal:
Beltram tells Paul to 'come on down' here

So much for that whole closed door thing.

Two days after saying Ron Paul could stay out of Spartanburg, county GOP Chairman Rick Beltram on Thursday reversed course and invited the Republican presidential candidate to come on down.

And Thursday afternoon, Paul's campaign agreed. The only thing left to be settled is a date.

Beltram on Tuesday called Paul a "lunatic" for defending a theory that American intervention in foreign affairs contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Paul made the comments at the GOP debate in Columbia in May, and he drew an angry response from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

After the debate, Beltram decided he had heard enough from the Texas congressman and said Paul could "stay home." A flood of e-mails and voicemails from across the country apparently changed Beltram's mind.

"I was told by at least 125 e-mails and 25 voice mails that I didn't hear correctly, newspapers didn't report it correctly and live TV didn't reflect it correctly," Beltram said. "If we're all that naive and we all misunderstood, I think they should come on down and tell us how we're wrong, and I think the people of Spartanburg will be anxious to listen." more

Interestingly enough Mr. Paul is proving to be a excellent test of how inflexible GOP leaders can be to those who voice ideas outside of its mandated talking points. Whether or not he wins the primary, he may prove to be an excellent measure of just exactly how big the GOP's tent is.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Of Paganism and Pundits

So, I'm checking Memorandum today to see if there is anything there of interest to blog about and I see a WaPo/Newsweek article titled "Paganism May Not Pass Religious Muster" and thinking it might be referring to Pagans in the military I drop by and instead discover it is an amazingly discriminatory blog post by Charles W. "Chuck" Colson minister and radio commentator (politely) attacking a minority group of religions that he admits to not be familiar with (in his third to the last line),"Not being as familiar with paganism in its various forms, I do not wish to condemn it unfairly."

So without further adieu...

"It is debatable whether paganism is a religion, per say. It is generally defined as a pre-Christian state, but it takes a wide variety of forms—all the way from relatively benign New Age-style nature worship, to pantheism, to witchcraft, and even human sacrifice.

Those who publicly identify themselves as pagans are at best a marginal number and are basically no different from dozens of other cults."

Dictionary.com defines a cult as :

6: a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

Most pagans tend to practice their religion alone, in small groups of family and friends, and larger more organized groups frequently splinter off to form smaller groups usually due to doctrinal or personality conflicts. Modern western paganism is by its nature an unorganized religion partly due to the lack of prohibitions of worshiping alone

Additionally current estimates of the North American population put it at nearly one million members (based on an average of a 1999 Covenant of the Goddess survey and the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey and assuming the standard 3% population increase) which isn't an inconsequential number.

"I see no reason why Wiccans or pagans generally should have the services of taxpayer-paid chaplains. It is perfectly appropriate, if a group meets court tests for religion, that outside priest/ministers be allowed to come into federal facilities and minister. But historically, with standards that have been spelled out carefully by the courts, chaplains are appointed to represent mainline religions."
In 1999 John Machate, executive director of the Military Pagans Network, made the following comment in an interview first published in Connections magazine: "I estimate that there are at least 10 Pagan families or people on each mid-size military base. With the number of military bases in the world, that would put it at about 300,000 military Pagans, that is including dependents."

"The more difficult question is whether I would vote for a pagan for public office. The answer is that on one hand I fully respect the fact that there should be no religious test for public office; on the other hand, I would have great difficulty supporting an explicit Wiccan or pagan for high public office. There are tenets of their belief that, I think, are incompatible with the requirements of American democratic governance.

Lest this sound discriminatory, I think it is very clear from reading the writings of our founding fathers that a sound adherence to the values of the Judeo-Christian tradition—or at the very least, deism—was essential as a basis of the moral law that would sustain a free society.

The writings of all the founders are clear on this. I would refer anyone interested particularly to Michael Novak’s book On Two Wings, in which he describes the influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition on one wing and the influence of the Enlightenment on the other. They were finally balanced in our founding. But everyone, devout believer or deist or otherwise, saw the necessity of a strong moral law which would provide self restraint. Without self restraint, free governments cannot succeed."

John Adams famously wrote, “We have no government, armed in power, capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion . . . our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” And George Washington said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to a political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

The operative words there are morality and religion. Since the vast majority of Neo-Pagan religions usually work on a," Do what you want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else." rule I don't see where morality is lacking. Additionally the government has already recognized the more "orthodox" Wiccan tradition as a valid religion. Hence both criteria are met.

"Not being as familiar with paganism in its various forms, I do not wish to condemn it unfairly. But from what I know of it, I do not think it can provide the “indispensable supports” Washington wrote about."

But that didn't stop you from doing so in an indirect manner now did it?

So I would not appoint pagan chaplains, nor would I, as a personal decision but influenced greatly by the founders, vote for a pagan.

I'm not a pagan but crap like this just gets my goat. Assuming that one's religion of choice is the only possible source of morality and then using that erroneous belief to attempt to deprive others of the benefits/rights afforded to your religion is arrogant and discriminatory at best and if you're a Christian blasphemous at worst. (And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40)

The last time I checked our troops were fighting people that shared the same mindset but were of a different faith. That Pagan soldiers should have to come back from that battlefront only to have to fight similar minded countrymen in the public and political arenas is beyond shameful.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Texas Submerged

Dear Seattle,

You can take your weather back any time now.



BBC's Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston released

From the BBC:

BBC correspondent Alan Johnston has been released by kidnappers in Gaza after nearly four months in captivity.

He said it was "fantastic" to be free after an "appalling experience". TV footage showed Mr Johnston, 45, leaving a building accompanied by armed men.

He later appeared beside Hamas leader Ismail Haniya and thanked everyone who had worked for his release.

Rallies worldwide had called for Mr Johnston's release. An online petition was signed by some 200,000 people.

The BBC reporter was handed over to officials of the Hamas administration in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Gunmen from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement overran Gaza last month, expelling their rivals from the Fatah faction.

Mr Johnston was abducted on 12 March by the Army of Islam, a shadowy militant group dominated by Gaza's powerful Dugmush clan. more

NBC adds:

There was no immediate comment from Johnston’s captors, the Army of Islam.

Hamas had demanded Johnston’s freedom since it violently seized control of Gaza last month, in an apparent bid to curry favor with the West.

On Tuesday, Hamas gunmen took positions around the Army of Islam’s stronghold, stepping up the pressure to secure his release.

Members of Hamas’ 6,000-person militia moved onto rooftops of high-rise buildings and deployed gunmen in streets of the Gaza City neighborhood inhabited by the Doghmush clan, the large, heavily armed family that leads the Army of Islam.

The same group was involved in the capture of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was seized more than a year ago in a raid on an Israeli army post near Gaza. full article

While I'd love to say something positive about Hammas' actions. I'm left wondering why they opted to "rescue" Mr. Johnston. Given their history its hard to tell the difference between an olive branch and a PR stunt and harder still to believe that an olive branch wouldn't bear poisonous fruit.