Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A horrifying thought ... 

While having a phone conversation with my mother the other night, she related to me a suggestion that she'd heard on a talk radio show. That suggestion was that Hillary might be Kerry's choice for the vice presidential slot.

It is a horrifying thought, I admitted, but then hastened to reassure her how unlikely that would be.

For one reason, Hillary has already been Vice President, and certainly doesn't want the job. (She'd rather be top dog any and every day).

For another, Kerry is much too arrogant to have someone more popular than he as a running mate.

As a matter of fact, I predict that Kerry will delay choosing a VP candidate as long as his handlers will allow, simply because he's so arrogant that he will detest sharing center stage with anyone !

What about those high gas prices ? 

Kerry, today blasted the Bush administration for doing nothing about the high cost of gasoline. It makes me wonder if he really believed the "No Blood for Oil" theme touted by the left.

Do you remember " No Blood for Oil ! ", the mantra from the anti-war left ? With the recent high gasoline prices, one wonders if the oil companies are gouging. Surely they must be ... it couldn't have anything to do with the crude oil supply. Not since we conquered the Iraqi oil fields for the "evil" Halliburton. Halliburton, by the way is an oilfield services company, NOT an oil company.

With the oil fields under our control since the end of major hostilities in May of 2003, we surely must be importing massive quantities of oil from Iraq.

After all, according to the left, that was the reason we went to war.

The chart below is data from the Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy. It plots crude oil imports from Iraq, from January of 1997 through December of 2003

Iraq crude oil imports

As you can see, oil imports trend steadily larger until September of 2001, and then rapidly fall. Prior to the war in Iraq the levels of imports again rose, but never attained previous levels. As the war progressed, imports fell (naturally). After the end of major hostilities, imports again picked up and by December of 2003 had almost reached previous prewar levels.

But note ... There is no massive spike in imports from Iraq. As a matter of fact, import levels still have not reached the levels attained in 2001.

So where exactly is all the oil that our troops shed blood for ?

John Kerry today stated that oil supplies should be diverted from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and into the refining input stream.
Kerry, noting that gasoline prices have increased by 11.5 percent during the Bush administration, called on President Bush to quit storing oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and divert it into U.S. markets. He also called for Bush to pressure the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to increase production, and said he would promote U.S. oil production in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico, but - unlike the president - not in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
Would this help ?

NO ... The amount of oil currently being diverted and stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve amounts to about 1% of the total oil stream. Likewise, increasing imports from OPEC exporters will not help.

Why ?

Supplies of crude oil are only one factor in the equation. Another very important factor is refinery capacity. An excellent analysis is presented on the Begging to Differ site.
The big problem is that the bottleneck is beyond crude oil. There hasn't been a refinery built in the United States in almost 30 years. The last refinery completed here was in Garyville, Louisiana, and it began production in 1976. Since then, gasoline demand has mostly paralleled GDP growth, and industry capacity has not changed at all. Today, most refineries are at full capacity. No matter how much crude oil is released for the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve), refineries can't produce any more gasoline. With supply and demand not changing, a greater quantity of raw materials won't make a bit of difference.

The costs of building new refineries are prohibitive primarily because of extensive environmental regulations. Environmental regulation is also the reason why imports cannot solve a big piece of this problem. Various blends of gasoline are required in different parts of the United States, and foreign refineries rarely will refine fuel for a specific US state's requirements.
Refineries are operating at maximum capacity. The average capacity utilization for 2002 and 2003 was approximately 90% ! A 10% margin for downtime and preventative maintenance is extremely reasonable for the complex machinery that constitutes an oil refinery, so in effect, US refineries are producing as much output as is possible.

So Kerry's "relief plan" to address the high cost of gasoline, sounds good in an election year political contest, but actually would accomplish little or nothing ... quite like most of Kerry's proposals to date.

Kerry's oil money ... 

After today's big speech attacking Bush and his "oil cronies" it is very interesting to find out that
According to Kerry's financial disclosure forms on file at OpenSecrets.Org:

• Kerry's family pocketed as much as $1 million in dividends and capital gains from its holdings of ExxonMobil stock in 2002, according to disclosures filed last year;

• Kerry's family pocketed as much as $1 million in dividends and capital gains from its holdings in Imperial Oil in 2002, according to the same disclosures;

• Kerry's family pocketed as much as $50,000 in capital gains from its holdings in BP Amoco stock in 2002, according to those disclosures.

For a candidate who seeks to use big, blotchy scare letters to accuse his political rival of favoring Big Oil interests, he seems to have forgotten that his family has been part of those interests.

That's OK. It seems from studying his financial disclosures that his family - after making a cool couple of mil - no longer has such a strong interest in Big Oil. What better timing, then, to call for more conservation and regulation?
Ed Moltzen over at Late Final has more.

Firefighters for Bush ... 

Here you go. Take a look.

(Hat Tip to Hugh Hewitt)

Liberal talk radio ... 

Steve over at Begging to Differ has a very nice take on liberal talk radio.

An excerpt ...
On a recent trip to Washington DC, I enjoyed a rare phenomenon - liberal talk radio. WPFW, an affiliate of Pacifica Radio broadcasts on 89.3 FM. My favorite show was a call-in program with two cheerful hosts. The male host respectfully thanked a caller for making the point that, in reality, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell are white. When another caller expressed her frustration with the Bush administration, the female host enthused, "Let's keep that indignation level high!"

It was like listening to Rush Limbaugh... only different.

Pacifica Radio's mission statement includes this noble objective:
In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms.
I can only assume this statement of principle is meant to be ironic, because WPFW runs the show "We Ourselves," hosted by Ambrose I. Lane, Sr. My ears perked up upon hearing Lane proclaim over the radio waves that the Republican Party is "thoroughly infiltrated by Nazis" invited into the organization by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The "Republicans as Nazis" theme had become so familiar that it almost (almost) wasn't shocking, but it seemed out of place in a public forum that appeared to take itself seriously.
A very interesting read, please check it out.

Vermont education .... 

I have seen this making the rounds on e-mail, and today it made it on Donald Luskin's site ...
A teacher in a small Vermont town asks her class how many of them are John Kerry fans. Not really knowing what a John Kerry fan is, but wanting to be liked by the teacher, all the kids raise their hands except one boy. The teacher asks Johnny why he has decided to be different.
Johnny says, "I'm not a John Kerry fan."

The teacher says, "Why aren't you a John Kerry fan?"

Johnny says, "I'm a George Bush fan."

The teacher asks why he's a George Bush fan. The boy says, "Well, my mom's a George Bush fan and my dad's a George Bush fan, so I'm a George Bush fan!"

The teacher is kind of angry, because this is Vermont, so she asks, "What if your mom was a moron and your dad was an idiot, what would that make you?"

Johnny says, "That would make me a John Kerry fan."

The Blame Game .... 

From today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the following Letter to the Editor...
The 9-11 Commission has 10 commissioners, 80 employees and a budget of more than $10 million, so I spent some time listening to the testimony. I wanted to learn what might keep us all safer from those terrible terrorist attacks occurring almost daily around the world.

I had hoped that the commission's hearings wouldn't be just another waste of our money (and our time), but I suspect that's not to be the case. Unfortunately, the questioning quickly followed party lines, and the hearings became a blame game.

Surely Clarke isn't a good example of the bureaucrats running our government and providing for our safety. He's an excellent master at double-speak. Clarke was in charge of counterterrorism for many years, and yet he was quick to blame one administration over another, one agency over another. It just makes no sense.

Most level-headed Americans are sick of government waste and inefficiency at our expense. Bipartisan politics is an unreal dream. It's got to change.

Fiddling, fumbling and failing must no longer be the status quo. It's just too dangerous. At every level of government, we deserve better. We're sure paying for it.

And, oh, I expect that Clarke will make a ton of money with his new book.

Jim Pope — Weatherford

Major Anti-terror bust in UK ... 

Huge anti-terror busts in and near London Tuesday led to the arrest of eight men and the seizing of half a ton bomb-making material.
Sources said police believe the suspects may have planned to hit "soft" targets and that the operation may have been planned for several weeks.

All the suspects were British citizens and were arrested as part of an operation targeting alleged international terrorist activity, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke of the capital's Metropolitan Police force.

Police also confiscated ammonium nitrate, which can be mixed with fuel oil to make a powerful explosive, was recovered from a self-storage facility in west London. Ammonium nitrate was the key component in the bomb used to destroy the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.

Major terror attack thwarted in Phillipines ... 

A major terror attack was thwarted when authorities arrested four Abu Sayyaf members and confiscated 80 pounds of TNT.
The explosives were to have been used to bomb trains and shopping malls in Manila, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (search) told a news conference.

"We have prevented a Madrid-level attack in the metropolis," she said, referring to the sprawling capital of more than 10 million people. The March 11 train bombings in Madrid, Spain left at least 190 people dead.

Arroyo said one of the men arrested claimed responsibility for a Feb. 27 explosion and fire aboard a passenger ferry that killed more than 100 people. Officials have not concluded what caused the disaster.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Barbara Striesand, foreign policy expert .... 

Babs explains it all for you in "her" latest statement.

Note that she will soon be starring in a new movie sequel ... Clueless 2

(Hat Tip to Hugh Hewitt)

Representative Democracy in action .. 

Citizen Smash has taken up the case of Dana Beaudine, a National Guardsman who fought in Iraq, was wounded by a mortar attack, and diagnosed with some residual disability -- who has run into trouble with his recalcitrant employer who refuses to reemploy him in accordance with federal law.

Smash reports here on some thinking and research that led to an idea.
As is the case in many such incidents, the story gets a bit complicated when you scratch below the surface. But what caught Phil’s interest, and mine as well, was that the company in question, Securitas, holds some major contracts with the Federal government. Why would they get involved in such a dispute, we wondered, when they clearly stand to lose millions by placing their government contracts in jeopardy?

But it turns out that the Federal government doesn’t consider whether a company follows the rules on re-employing returning guardsmen and reservists when awarding major contracts.

Why not? After all, educational institutions stand to lose federal funding if they refuse to allow ROTC or military recruiters on campus. Why can’t the same principle be applied to companies that fail to re-hire reservists?

There oughta be a law!
That being said, he discovered that his Congresswoman was holding a “community gathering” in a neighborhood park on Saturday morning, and the general public was invited, so he decided to attend.

He presented his case to the Congresswoman and hopefully sparked a new bill to address this particular issue.

Please read the whole thing !

Economists see "Booming Economy" ... 

A USA Today article reports that economists are predicting a booming economy.
Employers soon will add jobs steadily as the economy continues to expand, say economists surveyed by USA TODAY.

In an optimistic outlook, the 56 economists also predict businesses and consumers will continue to spend more as the unemployment rate falls. Inflation will stay low, they say, letting the Federal Reserve keep interest rates at historic lows a bit longer.

"I consider it a booming economy," says Timothy Rogers, chief economist at Boston-based Briefing.com, a site that provides data and analysis for investors.

Rogers and other economists are most heartened by the big pickup in business spending. Businesses sent the economy into a recession as they cut spending starting in late 2000. After picking up last year, business investment is expected to increase by double digits each quarter through 2004.

Economists say the economy is improving quickly enough that businesses will no longer be able to meet demand with their existing workforces.

Through new technologies and improved business processes, employers have squeezed more work out of employees without hiring, even though the recession technically ended 21/2 years ago. High costs for health care and pensions have also led firms to put off hiring.
So John, it's the economy, stupid ... no it's the War on Terror, no it's .....

Which is better? 

A new Rasmussen Poll finds that 64% of those polled think that running a budget deficit, but with lower taxes & spending is preferrable to a balanced budget, but with higher taxes & spending (25%).

No Thanks, Mr. Clarke ... 

From the Front Page Magazine site, some excerpts from a letter written by September 11th Families group ...
We are all in agreement that a review of what happened leading up to 9/11 is important for many reasons. As families and friends of loved ones killed by the terrorists that day, we want to know if 9/11 realistically could have been prevented, whether justice is being brought to those behind this attack, and, most important, that our government is taking the right action to stop future attacks.

A meaningful review as to what happened on 9/11 and the aftermath can only happen if it is truly nonpartisan. Unfortunately, this week much of the non-partisanship was taken from us when Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism advisor, decided to use his testimony before the 9/11 Commission to showcase the release of his tell-all book.

We are well aware that the friends and family members of those killed in 9/11 do not speak with a single voice on all issues. Nonetheless, the notion of profiteering from anything associated with 9/11 is particularly offensive to all of us.

We find Mr. Clarke's actions all the more offensive especially considering the fact that there was always a high possibility that the 9/11 Commission could be used for political gain, especially now, with the presidential election less than eight months away.

Surely, Mr. Clarke knew this. Yet he decided to risk the actual and perceived impartiality of this important process to maximize book sales.

As family and friends of those killed on 9/11, we believe it inappropriate for Mr. Clarke to profit from and politicize 9/11, and further divide America, by his testimony before the 9/11 Commission.

Had there been real evidence, "actionable" or otherwise, that this was being planned, we believe that President Bush, President Clinton - indeed, any president of the United States - would have done everything possible to prevent it.

In the end, we will be judged on whether we successfully continue pursuing the ongoing war on terror so that we never again face another 9/11.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Socialists win in France ... 

The swing to the Left continues in Europe as President Chirac's center-right government looses badly to the Socialist party in Sunday's elections.
There was jubilation at the French socialist party's headquarters and a hero's welcome for their leader Francois Hollande on Sunday night as the left gained 50% of the vote.
It was a humiliation for President Jacques Chirac's centre-right government, one which few on the left dared hope for after their massive defeat in presidential elections two years ago.

On Sunday night, they celebrated the resurrection of the left in France after taking control of almost every French region - as voters delivered a clear message to President Chirac.

That message came in loud and clear at Mr Chirac's UMP headquarters, where party workers looked slightly shell-shocked as they realised the scale of their defeat.

The government gained just 37% of the vote.
So Chirac ... see what you get for supporting the US ... oh wait ...

The roots of terrorism ... 

Contrary to what liberals believe, Islamic terrorism is not rooted in poverty and oppression. The liberal self-flagellation regarding the relative wealth of the "average" American leads to the incorrect diagnosis that everyone in the world wants (or at least should want) the same wealth and/or property. This fallacy leads to the thought that perhaps negotiation with the terrorists will alleviate their hatred of us.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Keith Burgess-Jackson expounds further on the subject in an article entitled The Futility of Negotiating with Terrorists.
Terrorists are said to be desperate, alienated, angry, frustrated, and envious of Western success. The implication is that we can and should negotiate with them. Perhaps we can share our wealth and technology with them. But Islamic terrorists don't want our wealth or technology. They want our deaths. They don't want to partake of our material culture; they want to destroy it. There's nothing to be negotiated, so there's nothing to talk about or to understand. What part of "They want to destroy us and our culture and will stop at nothing, even their own deaths, to do it" is misunderstood?
Repeat ... What part of "They want to destroy us..." do we not understand?

It is difficult for we Americans, who enjoy the products of decades of labors that ease our lifestyles, to understand that terrorists don't want what we have. That they, in fact, are forbidden by their beliefs to seek after what we take for granted. Not only do they not seek what we have, our flagrant flaunting and export of our culture is seen as an attack on their belief system!

It is not hard to understand the liberal confusion though. For several decades liberals have moved to embrace moral relativism, the dogma that pretends that all beliefs are relative to a particular time or place or point of view. But the beliefs held by the terrorists are fundamental beliefs. The beliefs they hold are rooted in their education and their culture. That is to say their beliefs are absolute, brooking no compromise. A terrorist negotiating away a tenet of their belief would be a moral impossibility.

So guess what ... Terrorists see things in "black and white" !

That's right liberals ... a terrorist takes no "nuanced positions". They don't see things in "shades of gray".

The products of our culture offend them. The exportation of "decadence", the freedom that women enjoy, the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans either own or can afford to buy a DVD player, all is an affront to their beliefs.

What other contributing factors exist ? A very good synopsis is presented by Donald Sensing, at his site One Hand Clapping.
What Kremmer cites as "root causes" of terrorism are actually the symptoms of deeper pathologies, as he hints. So why didn't he name them? They are not hard to identify:

Political oppression and lack of liberty: except for Iraq, every Arab country is an authoritarian state ruled by an oligarchy, monarchy or dictator. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, explained it just this week:
Contrasting western democracy with Islamic societies, he said: "Throughout the Middle East and North Africa we find authoritarian regimes with deeply entrenched leadership, some of which rose to power at the point of a gun and are retained in power by massive investment in security forces.

"Whether they are military dictatorships or traditional sovereignties, each ruler seems committed to retaining power and privilege."
Lack of economic opportunity: free-market capitalism does not exist on a macro level. All economies are controlled by the central government.

Intellectual stagnation (which Kremmer does mention): Last fall in the opening speech of the Islamic Summit' in Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated the Islamic world's intellectual status thus:
The early Muslims produced great mathematicians and scientists, scholars, physicians and astronomers etc. and they excelled in all the fields of knowledge of their times, besides studying and practising their own religion of Islam. ... The Europeans had to kneel at the feet of Muslim scholars in order to access their own scholastic heritage. ...

But halfway through the building of the great Islamic civilisation came new interpreters of Islam who taught that acquisition of knowledge by Muslims meant only the study of Islamic theology. The study of science, medicine etc. was discouraged.

Intellectually the Muslims began to regress. With intellectual regression the great Muslim civilisation began to falter and wither. But for the emergence of the Ottoman warriors, Muslim civilisation would have disappeared with the fall of Granada in 1492.

The early successes of the Ottomans were not accompanied by an intellectual renaissance. Instead they became more and more preoccupied with minor issues such as whether tight trousers and peak caps were Islamic, whether printing machines should be allowed or electricity used to light mosques. The Industrial Revolution was totally missed by the Muslims.
Indeed. Now, all of these pathologies will be alleviated if the political and social structures of the countries can be liberalized. That doesn't mean there will be no murderous Islamist fanatics. It does mean that the soil from which they grow will be much less fertile.
More very good information can be found in this essay by the same author.

The Clarke 9-11 myth ... 

The following excerpts are from a post on the Silent Running site...
Superstition and myth seem to be the methodology of choice for the folks jumping on the bandwagon to assign blame for 9-11, and shift that blame to the Bush administration. Richard Clarke has provided the latest irrational connection to do so - that by not holding daily principals meetings in Washington, to "shake their agencies", somehow the flow of information suddenly ground to a halt, and was not being properly evaluated.

Still, Clarke has made the observation, and more than a few seem to have latched onto it, that because the Bush administration wasn't having pointless daily meetings, that could be why 9-11 occurred, even though he readily admits that after January 20th, short of presciently arresting all the hijackers, the operation probably still would have been a 'go'. Obviously, in his world, no one was doing anything. Sure, the same sorts of alerts, which the front line FBI, FAA, Customs, and local police forces were used to seeing had gone out. But the meetings weren't held. They weren't issuing a flurry of emails and memos based on the meetings. Important phone calls were not being made to double check what was discussed at the meeting or what would be on the agenda for the next one. Clearly, since fruit wasn't being gathered to put into baskets to toss off the cliff to the Gods of the Sea, that's why the fishing boats were wrecked by a storm!

For while adroit tactical decision making is of great benefit for a crisis driven situation, it is of little to no use if it cannot be coupled with a broader view of an overall strategy. This, and a complete absence of the sense of what is and is not politically possible, as evidenced by his claims that it was his idea to go into Afghanistan and take the place down before 9-11, but nobody wanted to act upon the idea. A tactical thought, not a strategic one, and one not concerned with the consequence.

This is most evident in his rationalization for his ideological break with the current administration - citing his objections to the decision to invade Iraq and take down Saddam Hussein. Clarke is still wearing the ideological straightjacket of thinking that the only way to deal with terrorism on a global scale is to perform a catch up whack-a-mole type action. In other words, play the game by the terrorists rules. Despite hundreds of examples of the failure of this 'strategy' to prevent an attack, save by circumstantial coincidence, such as the Canadian border arrest of the Millennium bomber.

Again, the exercise is to drain the swamp, not thumping the gators individually.

Get inside the terrorist's decision and action loops. Disrupt their ability to recruit train and equip, by denying them use of safe havens. Increase the pressures at all levels, and either convince the governments of the Middle East to actively seek them out, or change those governments into ones that will do so, by whatever means available and or necessary.

Dismantle the institutional methodologies for instilling hatred and violence as acceptable forms of political expression. Create the alternative example of free will and basic human dignity in the heart of a region where the 'common wisdom' says it cannot be done.

Stop reacting like a Pavlovian dog salivating at the sound of a bell.

Richard Clarke may have served his government to the best of his abilities for 30 years, in a steadfast and honorable manner, but from a certain perspective, his charges and accusations sound in a way similar to a man that spent his years as a blacksmith bemoaning the transition to the horseless carriage. Or the old hermit that comes out and announces to the frightened villagers that the chief's decision to stop tossing virgins in the volcano caused the locusts to descend.
Please read the whole article.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Mark Steyn on Dick Clarke ... 

Mark Steyn is dead on, as usual ...
Having served both the 42nd and 43rd Presidents, Clarke was supposed to be the most authoritative proponent to advance the Democrats' agreed timeline of the last decade - to whit, from January 1993 to January 2001, Bill Clinton focused like a laser on crafting a brilliant plan to destroy al-Qa'eda, but, alas, just as he had dotted every "i", crossed every "t" and sent the intern to the photocopier, his eight years was up, so Bill gave it to the new guy as he was showing him the Oval Office - "That carpet under the desk could use replacing. Oh, and here's my brilliant plan to destroy al-Qa'eda, which you guys really need to implement right away."

The details of the brilliant plan need not concern us, which is just as well, as there aren't any. But the broader point, as The New York Times noted, is that "there was at least no question about the Clinton administration's commitment to combat terrorism".

Yessir, for eight years the Clinton administration was relentless in its commitment: no sooner did al-Qa'eda bomb the World Trade Center first time round, or blow up an American embassy, or a barracks, or a warship, or turn an entire nation into a terrorist training camp, than the Clinton team would redouble their determination to sit down and talk through the options for a couple more years. Then Bush took over and suddenly the superbly successful fight against terror all went to hell.

As for Clarke's beef with Bush, that's simple. For eight years, he had pottered away on the terrorism brief undisturbed. The new President took it away from him and adopted the strategy outlined by Condoleezza Rice in that Detroit radio interview, months before the self-regarding Mr Clarke claims he brought her up to speed on who bin Laden was: "We really need a stronger policy of holding the states accountable that support him," Dr Rice told WJR. "Terrorists who are just operating out there without basis and without state support are a lot less dangerous than ones that find safe haven, as bin Laden does sometimes in places like Afghanistan or Sudan."

Instead, all the Islamists who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s graduated from Camp Osama and were dispersed throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, where they lurk to this day. That's the Clarke-Clinton legacy. And, if it were mine, I wouldn't be going around boasting about it.
Read the whole thing ...

(Hat Tip to Instapundit)

Some Kerry fisking ... 

Larry Kudlow provides a thorough fisking of Kerry's economic "plan".

And the Silent Running site completely shreds Kerry's "plan" for the military, as presented in Kerry's speech of the 18th at George Washington University. (scroll down)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Dems to block EVERY Bush judicial nominee ... 

All White House nominees will be blocked. That's right: every single one.

As detailed in this article from Fox News, the Dems plan to hold up every single Bush nomination until Bush refrains from using recess appointments for judicial positions.
That's the word from Sen. Charles Schumer's (search) office, which released a statement on Friday saying that Senate Democrats plan "to hold nominations until the White House commits to stop abusing the advise and consent process."

Schumer's release followed a statement by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (search), D-S.D., on the Senate floor Friday, in which he vowed to make life difficult for the president's nominees as long as Bush keeps using his recess appointment power to install the ones Democrats oppose.

"This White House is insisting on a departure from historic and constitutional practices," Daschle said. "At no point has a president ever used a recess appointment to install a rejected nominee onto the federal bench, and there are intonations there will be even more recess appointments in the coming months.

"We will continue to cooperate in the confirmation of federal judges, but only if the White House gives us the assurance that they will no longer abuse the process, but it will once again respect our Constitution's essential system of checks and balances," Daschle said.
If there is any abuse of the Senate "advice and consent" process, it is most certainly on the side of the liberal left senators stalling judicial appointments. The use of the advice and consent process was never intended by the framers of the Constitution to prevent actual senate floor votes on candidates.

Which is of course what the Dems are doing...

Preventing a full vote on candidates that do not meet their criteria for liberalism.

Stalling all appointments is like the spoiled child, playing sandlot baseball, who provides the only bat, and then states, "I was NOT out! I don't like that call, so I'm taking my bat and going home! "

Of course, there are many other obvious comparisons between liberals and spoiled children ... (See this essay by philosopher Keith Burgess-Jackson)

Book sales soaring ... 

It appears as if the publicity surrounding Dick Clarke's perjurous testimony at the 9-11 Commission hearings is working out for him exactly as he had hoped. His book is now into it's fifth printing with 500,000 copies in print after just three days.

I didn't realize that there could be that many liberals who actually read books, as opposed to "programming" themselves listening to media sound bites.

The party of hate ... 

From the Powerline site, this article relates more recent evidence that the Democrat party is fueled only by Bush hatred ...
To an extent that, in my judgment, has no precedent in American history, the contemporary Democratic party has defined itself as a party of hate. The current frenzy over the self-contradictory and in some instances patently false claims of Richard Clarke has shown the Democrats at their most vituperative.

A case in point is Paul Begala's hysterical attack on Condoleezza Rice earlier today on CNN's Crossfire.

...Some will defend Begala on the ground that he is mentally unbalanced, and argue that his type of fanaticism does not typify the Democratic Party. But I cannot agree. Begala seems to me to be typical of the modern Democratic Party--a party that makes Joe McCarthy look calm, reasonable and scrupulous.
Read the post at Powerline for an excellent analysis of the wordplay by Begala.

Getting to know John Kerry ... 

Bindinotto provides details on Kerry for those who really don't know him ...
(i.e. most of America ?)

by Robert Bidinotto

Favorite restaurant: Waffle House
Favorite fast food: The Whopper
Favorite footwear: flip-flops
Favorite film: Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo
Favorite song: Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?
Favorite line from a film: "We'll always have Paris."
Favorite musical: Hair
Favorite hometown baseball team: the Botox

[P. S. A newly-added piece of information:]

Teresa Heinz Kerry's favorite film: The French Lieutenant's Woman
(Hat Tip to John Ray at Dissecting Leftism)

How many John Kerrys ... 

From Mark Steyn's column today ...

Q: How many John Kerrys does it take to change a lightbulb ?

A: At least four.

One to unscrew the old lightbulb.

One to simultaneously announce his courageous commitment to replacing the old bulb.

One to vote against funding the new light bulb.

And one to denounce George W. Bush and America's Benedict Arnold CEOs for leaving everyone in the dark.

For the record... 

US National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice wrote the following, excerpted from the Jerusalem Post ...
We received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes

The al-Qaida terrorist network posed a threat to the US for almost a decade before the attacks of September 11, 2001. Throughout that period - during the eight years of the Clinton administration and the first eight months of the Bush administration prior to September 11 - the US government worked hard to counter the al-Qaida threat.

During the transition, president-elect Bush's national security team was briefed on the Clinton administration's efforts to deal with al-Qaida. The seriousness of the threat was well understood by the president and his national security principals. In response to my request for a presidential initiative, the counterterrorism team, which we had held over from the Clinton administration, suggested several ideas, some of which had been around since 1998 but had not been adopted. No al-Qaida plan was turned over to the new administration.

We committed more funding to counterterrorism and intelligence efforts. We increased efforts to go after al-Qaida's finances. We pushed hard to arm the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle so we could target terrorists with greater precision.

But the Predator was not a silver bullet that could have destroyed al-Qaida or stopped September 11.

We also considered a modest spring 2001 increase in funding for the Northern Alliance and folded this idea into our broader strategy of arming tribes throughout Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban.

Let us be clear. Even their most ardent advocates did not contend that these ideas, even taken together, would have destroyed al-Qaida. The president wanted more than a laundry list of ideas simply to contain al-Qaida or "roll back" the threat. Once in office, we quickly began crafting a comprehensive new strategy to "eliminate" the al-Qaida network. The president wanted more than occasional, retaliatory cruise missile strikes. He told me he was "tired of swatting flies."

Through the spring and summer of 2001, the national security team developed a strategy to eliminate al-Qaida - which was expected to take years. Our strategy marshalled all elements of national power to take down the network, not just respond to individual attacks with law enforcement measures. Our plan called for military options to attack al-Qaida and Taliban leadership, ground forces and other targets - taking the fight to the enemy where he lived. It focused on the crucial link between al-Qaida and the Taliban. We would attempt to compel the Taliban to stop giving al-Qaida sanctuary - and if it refused, we would have sufficient military options to remove the Taliban regime.

Before September 11, we closely monitored threats to our nation. President Bush revived the practice of meeting with the director of the CIA every day - meetings that I attended. And I personally met with George Tenet regularly, and frequently reviewed aspects of the counterterror effort.

Through the summer, increasing intelligence chatter focused almost exclusively on potential attacks overseas. Nonetheless, we asked for any indication of domestic threats and directed our counterterrorism team to coordinate with domestic agencies to adopt protective measures. The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alerted airlines, airports, and local authorities, warning of potential attacks on Americans.

Despite what some have suggested, we received no intelligence that terrorists were preparing to attack the homeland using airplanes as missiles, though some analysts speculated that terrorists might hijack airplanes to try to free US-held terrorists. The FAA even issued a warning to airlines and aviation security personnel that "the potential for a terrorist operation, such as an airline hijacking to free terrorists incarcerated in the US, remains a concern."

We now know that the real threat had been in the US since at least 1999. The plot to attack New York and Washington had been hatching for nearly two years. According to the FBI, by June 2001, 16 of the 19 hijackers were already here. Even if we had known exactly where Osama bin-Laden was, and the armed Predator had been available to strike him, the September 11 hijackers almost certainly would have carried out their plan. So, too, if the Northern Alliance had somehow managed to topple the Taliban, the September 11 hijackers were here in America - not in Afghanistan.

The president and Congress, through the USA Patriot Act, have broken down the legal and bureaucratic walls that prior to September 11 hampered intelligence and law enforcement agencies from collecting and sharing vital threat information.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the president, like all Americans, wanted to know who was responsible. It would have been irresponsible not to ask a question about all possible links, including to Iraq - a nation that had supported terrorism and had tried to kill a former president. Once advised that there was no evidence that Iraq was responsible for September 11, the president told his National Security Council on September 17 that Iraq was not on the agenda and that the initial US response to September 11 would be to target al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

What are we supposed to do? 

From today's NY Times ...
To swelling trumpets, the biggest stars in the Democratic firmament strode on stage here Thursday night, but true to form, they seemed to lack a certain coordination.

Leading the parade were two former presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, followed by the party's presumptive nominee this year, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, then former Vice President Al Gore.

But as Mr. Kerry's former rivals filled the stage, any choreography was lost. Senator John Edwards maneuvered smack into the center, between Mr. Clinton and Mr. Kerry.

The stars grasped hands and lifted them in an awkward semicircle, then dropped them, unsure of the next step. Laughing, Mr. Clinton turned to Mr. Kerry and said, "O.K. John, you're running this, what are we supposed to do?"
Don't think for a minute that the confusion exhibited at this staged event will be any less apparent in a Kerry administration. If a Kerry administration results from this year's elections (God forbid), the rest of the country will be stating, "What are we supposed to do?"

A vote for Kennedy ... 

From today's Forth Worth Star-Telegram this letter to the editor entitled "Surrogate Vote"...
Those of you from sea to shining sea who have been salivating over Ted Kennedy's policies for years will have an opportunity to vote for him in this year's presidential election.

True, his name won't be on the ballot Nov. 2, but he pops up in every photo op with his puppet, John Kerry. Alas, a vote for Kerry is a vote for Kennedy.

It's not so strange, though, when puppet and puppeteer seem to have a great deal in common. One was involved in the death of a young lady and called on his rich and privileged friends to help him cover it up. The other hid behind his medals to get an early release from his duties so he could come home to demean the integrity of his fellow soldiers.

Kerry and Kennedy have created new definitions for the words privilege and integrity. This isn't so strange, either, given that liberals in this country have been rewriting the dictionary ever since the flower children potted themselves.

O.J. Blakey — Arlington
I guess it has always been obvious that Kerry is a Kennedy "puppet" in the sense that Kennedy has groomed him as a junior senator, and they share the same far left agenda. But this letter brings the point home, Kerry may as well be a Kennedy puppet ... his voting record is even farther to the left than Kennedy's!

Clarke's perjury? 

From the Little Green Footballs site ...
The hammer is about to descend for the final time on Richard Clarke: GOP Moves to Declassify Clarke Testimony.
WASHINGTON - In a highly unusual move, key Republicans in Congress are seeking to declassify testimony that former White House terrorism adviser Richard Clarke gave in 2002 about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Friday.

Frist said the intent was to determine whether Clarke lied under oath — either in 2002 or this week — when he appeared before a bipartisan Sept. 11 commission and sharply criticized President Bush’s handling of the war on terror.

“Until you have him under oath both times you don’t know,” Frist said.

Kerry flip-flops on tax cuts ? 

From the Captain's Quarters site, this insightful post regarding Kerry's announcement of a "new" Jobs First plan...
John Kerry, trying to tack back to economic issues, issued a promise to create 10 million new jobs over the next four years, using corporate "tax incentives" to promote job growth:
"Today, I'm announcing a new economic plan for America that will put jobs first. We will renew American competitiveness, make tough budget choices, and invest in our future. My pledge -- and my plan -- is for 10 million new jobs in the next four years."
Kerry's Jobs First plan will call for the "most sweeping international tax law reform in forty years" that would give tax incentives to companies that create jobs in the United States.
Kerry has spent most of the past year railing against the Bush tax cuts, which have put money back in people's pockets, and has already committed to rolling back a portion of them, especially those he's decried as "corporate welfare". Now he claims that tax cuts, which is what tax incentives are in practice (increased deductions and exemptions), will improve the economy. I'd like to agree with Kerry, but I don't know with which Kerry I would be agreeing!

Isn't tax reduction for economic expansion the Bush strategy? Did Kerry become a Republican while he was in Idaho?

Targeted tax "incentives" are a pretty good idea. In fact, they're so good, one is tempted to ask Kerry why he never proposed them during his nineteen years in the Senate. It's not as if Kerry has been outside of power over the last three decades; legislation can be initiated in either house of Congress, and in fact can only be initiated by either house of Congress. Presidents don't directly propose legislation -- they have to work through their party to have it introduced. So what's Kerry been doing over the past nineteen years? Voting to increase everyone's taxes:
# 1989-90: Votes against considering a capitol gains tax cut.
# 1993-94: Votes against spending reductions – an amendment to reduce budget spending by $94 billion. Votes for the largest tax increase in American history.

# 1995-96: Votes against balancing the budget – a bipartisan plan to balance the books in seven years.

# 1997-98: Votes against approving a GOP budget to cut spending and taxes. Votes against a balanced-budget constitutional amendment.

# 1999-2000: Votes against reducing federal taxes by $792 billion over 10 years.

# 2001: Votes against the Bush tax cut – a $1.35 trillion tax cut package to reduce income-tax rates, alleviate the “marriage penalty” and gradually repeal the estate tax. Votes to reduce Bush’s proposed tax cut ceiling by $448 billion over 10 years.

Then in April of 2002, Kerry doubles back on himself, calling for a tax cut even larger than the one passed in 2001, telling CNN’s "Crossfire":

“It’s not a question of courage. ... And it’s not an issue right now. We passed appropriately a tax cut as a stimulus, some $40 billion. Many of us thought it should have even maybe been a little bit larger this last year. ... [T]he next tax cut doesn’t take effect until 2004. If we can grow the economy enough between now and then, if we have sensible policies in place and make good choices, who knows what our choices will be. So it’s simply not a ripe issue right now. And I’m not in favor of turning around today and repealing it.”

But by December he'd flip-flopped again, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a bigger tax cut “doesn’t make economic sense.”
I'm glad Kerry finally changed his mind about the economic benefits of reduced taxes, but I think I'll trust the man who consistently put that philosophy into practice, instead of the one who seems to say whatever's necessary to get elected.

The WMD "Lies" .... 


If Kerry acuses Bush of lying about WMD's, then either he's a liar too (see quotes above) or he is a gullible fool ...

(Graphics courtesy of Right Wing News)

A leader with "vision" ... 

Schmuley Boteach, of the Jerusalem Post, has published an Op-Ed piece praising George W. Bush for having the vision to do what is necessary to end terrorism.

Some excerpts ...
If there is a hell, then you can bet that Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is roasting there now. And if there is a heaven, then rest assured that whether or not he wins the November election, President George W. Bush has earned his place in it.

What a week for contrasts. A so-called religious cleric whose principal contribution to his people was to inspire them to blow themselves up, taking as many innocent civilians along with them, dies and is hailed by the Arabs as a hero. But the principal savior of Arab life alive, a man who rescued more than 20 million Muslims from the clutches of Saddam Hussein, continues to be excoriated by the Arab press.

Rather than excuse cowardice, let us all applaud courage. The man who is most attacked for having incited the Islamic militants to real shows of anger is Bush with his war of liberation in Iraq. Perhaps there is something redeeming about being the most powerful yet most vilified man on Earth. I would assume it keeps one humble. But let's not ascribe that virtuous motivation to the president's critics, the latest of whom is a former counterterrorism official in the Bush White House, Richard Clarke, who has written a book alleging that the Iraq war actually made the US more vulnerable by fomenting anti-American feelings and taking military resources away from the hunt for al-Qaida.

In truth, Clarke strikes me as an opportunist with myopic vision. Terrorism in the Middle East is a direct outgrowth of Arab tyranny. If Arabs lived – liked their Western counterparts – in open, prosperous, and democratic societies, then there would be no need on the part of their corrupt leaders to scapegoat Israel and the United States as the source of all Arab problems; Muslims wouldn't be signing up by the truckload to attack Western targets.

Iraqi citizens are now the first Arabs in modern history who don't have to be afraid of their own government. But bureaucrats like Richard Clarke, who cannot see the forest for the trees, would have us focus only on individual terrorists instead of the governments that create, harbor, fund, incite, and inspire them.
It's a good article ... read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Rep. Shay adds fuel to the Clarke fire ... 

From Powerline...
Reader James Lacey has kindly forwarded us a copy of Rep. Christopher Shays' highly instructive letter dated March 24, 2004 to the 9/11 Commission regarding the testimony of Richard Clarke:
As Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's National Security Subcommittee, I want to provide some information relevant to testimony today by Mr. Richard Clarke.

Before September 11, 2001, we held twenty hearings and two formal briefings on terrorism issues. Mr. Clarke was of little help in our oversight. When he brief the Subcommittee, his answers were both evasive and derisive. He said a comprehensive threat assessment, as recommended by GAO, was too difficult.

Mr. Clark said it would be "silly" to try to articulate a national strategy. In lieu of a threat assessment or strategy, he offered a laundry list of terrorist groups, as if the fight against global terrorism were nothing more than a hunt for common criminals.

Clark was part of the problem before September 11 because he took too narrow a view of the terrorism threat. His approach was reactive and limited to swatting at the visible elements of al Qe'ada, not the hidden global network and its state sponsors.

The blind spots and vulnerabilities that contributed to the September 11, 2001 tragedy were apparent to many throughout the years Mr. Clarke was in a position to do something about them. Three national commissions - Bremer, Gilmore, and Hart-Rudman - had concluded the U.S. needed a comprehensive threat assessment, a national strategy and a plan to reorganize the federal response to the new strategic menace of terrorism.

Yet no truly national strategy to combat terrorism was ever produced during Mr. Clarke's tenure. Instead, several presidential directives and a Justice Department five-year law enforcement plan were clumsily lashed together and called a strategy.

After his uninformative briefing, we wrote to Mr. Clarke asking for written answers to specific questions: Why was there no threat assessment? When would there be a strategy? Who was responsible for coordinating federal spending and the federal response? We never got a satisfactory answer. A copy of our letter to Mr. Clarke is enclosed [included on the link with Shays' letter].

On January 22, 2001, the Subcommittee wrote to Dr. Condoleeza Rice to express our concerns about Mr. Clarke's narrow view of the terrorist threat and the urgency of mounting a strategic response. A copy of that letter is enclosed as well [also included on the link with Shays' letter].

I hope the Commission finds this information useful.

French raise their terror alert status ... 

After the recent passage of laws resticting Muslim student's attire in schools, and two recent attempted rail bombings ...

The French government has decided to raise the terror alert status from RUN to HIDE.

The only two higher alert levels for French domestic security are SURRENDER and COLLABORATE.

Clarke praised Bush in his resignation letter ... 

Richard Clarke's resignation letter (see here) was full of praise for Bush's leadership ...
...It has been an enormous privilege to serve you these last 24 months.

I will always remember the courage, determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated on September 11th, first on the video link from STRATCOM, and later that day in teh PEOC and the situation room. I will also have fond emories of our briefings for you on cyber security and the intuitive understanding of its importance that you showed. You had prescience in creating the position of Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security, and I urge you to maintain that role in the White House.

I thank you again for the opportunity to serve you have provided me and wish you good fortune as you lead our country through the continuing threats.

Rich Lowry dissects Richard Clarke 

From the Captain's Quarters site...
Rich Lowry, in today's New York Post, takes apart Richard Clarke and outlines why Clarke has sacrificed his credibility for thirty pieces of silver (via Instapundit):
DEAN Acheson famously titled his memoir of his years as secretary of state after World War II "Present at the Creation." Anyone close to Richard Clarke these last few days could write a memoir called "Present at the Self-Immolation." Rarely has a former public servant with such a sterling reputation shot it all away so quickly. ...
For evidence of this, look no further than Clarke's August 2002 briefing for reporters while he was still at the National Security Council. ... In his 2002 briefing, Clarke said that the Bush administration decided in "mid-January" 2001 to continue with existing Clinton policy while deciding whether or not to pursue more aggressive ideas that had been rejected throughout the Clinton administration. Nowhere does this appear in his book. He said in 2002 that the Bush administration had decided in principle in the spring of 2001 "to increase CIA resources . . . for covert action, five-fold, to go after al Qaeda." Nowhere is this mentioned in his book.

In 2002, Clarke emphasized that the Bush team "changed the strategy from one of rollback with al Qaeda over the course [of] five years, which it had been, to a new strategy that called for the rapid elimination of al Qaeda." This is mentioned in his book, but - amazingly - as an afterthought.
Lowry continues with several more examples of Clarke's contradictory public record, so be sure to read the entire article. This merely confirms what I wrote earlier: that the 9/11 Commission and the various players around it are only interested in garnering as much publicity as possible. Clarke is only the crassest and most transparently greedy example. If you doubt that, ask yourself this: why did Clarke wait until 2004 and his book publication date to go public with his concerns, when Bush's supposed "terrible job" on terrorism would put all of us at risk? If you take Clarke's accusations at face value, then the answer must be that our safety is secondary to his potential publishing royalties.

Kerry offers hope ? 

The following Letter to the Editor appeared on today's Op-Ed page in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ...
Although Texas is traditionally a Republican stronghold, I hope that voters in our state will look critically at the issues and the records of the two presidential candidates before casting their votes.

President Bush is responsible for the largest deficit ever recorded. His administration has not curtailed government spending and continues to push for permanent tax cuts that we can't afford.

His greatest achievements are tax cuts for wealthy Americans and the war in Iraq. He refuses to admit that the deficit will cripple our economy.

Sen. John Kerry promises to take the deficit seriously by evaluating government spending and rescinding tax cuts for Americans who earn more than $200,000 a year. His first priority will be to address economic issues and job creation.

I intend to vote for Kerry because we must end the fiscal mismanagement and focus on our troubling economic issues. I know where Bush stands. Kerry offers new hope that these issues will be addressed.

Debby Jennings, — Fort Worth
Well Debby ... where to begin. I agree that the large federal deficit occurred under President Bush's watch, but you must admit that federal spending has probably increased significantly in the last three years due to a little thing called "The War on Terror". What would you rather deal with, a large deficit, or incinerated relatives?

The deficit was also very large in the 80's at the end of the Cold War. Was our economy crippled then? Was it during the "peace dividend" period of the 90's?

Regarding "tax cuts for the wealthy" ... I received a tax cut, and I am surely not "wealthy". Didn't you receive yours? The tax cuts were for everyone who paid taxes, not just the wealthy. The more you paid, the larger the cut you received. Is this not fair?

John Kerry has "promised to evaluate government spending" ... What exactly does that mean? And does that mean he will do anything about it? ... No, of course not. But your next comment is clear ... eliminate the tax cuts for people making over $200K per year. Will this even begin to cover the massive new spending initiatives he is proposing?

I personally think that the Bush administration has not been as financially responsible as it could have been, but if you visit Kerry's website, and view his "plan" for America, all you will see is entitlement after entitlement. Who's going to pay for these programs?

Guess what ... you are. Kerry won't stop at eliminating tax cuts for the "wealthy", he will still have a one trillion dollar budget gap to fill to fund his entitlements.

You wallet is next on his list ...

And finally, how can you say you know where he stands? Maybe today, but what about his positions tomorrow?

He can't even decide what his positions are or where he stands, so how can you know?

Want blame? Look in the mirror ... 

From today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cal Thomas' editorial column ...
At least two things should raise suspicions about the motives of Richard Clarke, the former anti-terrorism adviser to four presidents, whose name, face and book were all over the newspapers last weekend and on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

One is that Clarke's book, in which he accuses the Bush administration of not heeding "warnings" from the Clinton administration about possible terrorist attacks by al Qaeda, was available only to journalists and not to those in the administration on the receiving end of Clarke's criticism. This is according to an administration spokesman with whom I spoke.

The other red flag that should make us cautious about Clarke's assertions is that his former deputy, Rand Beers, is now an adviser to the presidential campaign of John F. Kerry. Part of Kerry's campaign strategy is to persuade the public that President Bush has failed to effectively fight the war on terror.

Clarke is right about one thing.

He admits "there's a lot of blame to go around [for 9-11], and I probably deserve some blame, too." Yes, he does, and he can begin with the first World Trade Center bombing and continue with the bombing of the USS Cole and the attack on the American Embassy in Tanzania, all of which occurred on the watch of President Clinton, whom Clarke was advising.

Was Clinton not listening to Clarke's advice? Did Clinton "do a terrible job on the war against terrorism," the charge that Clarke levels against Bush, who was in office less than nine months prior to 9-11?

Responding to Clarke's allegations, a senior administration official told me that Clarke is engaged in a "flagrant effort to avoid responsibility for his own failures."

He added: "The Clinton administration never gave the Bush administration a plan that included the possibility of hijacked airplanes used as missiles to be flown into buildings. Most of their advice was general in nature."

Even if it had specifically warned the Bush people, he said, it probably would not have prevented Sept. 11, which was well on its way to the execution stage by the time the Bush administration took office.

The official confirmed news reports that al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay are providing "good stuff that's reliable" and are helping to locate wanted suspects still in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Does he think there is a possibility that Osama bin Laden will be captured or killed this year? "There are a lot of military and CIA people who are surprisingly optimistic he will be found this year," he said.

Even so, he noted, capturing or killing bin Laden, while gratifying, will be mostly "symbolic" because others among "the death worshipers" will take his place.

Where was Clarke while all of these threats were developing?

He was the chief adviser to Clinton on terror. The Clinton administration approached terror as a law enforcement problem, not a national threat, which is precisely the strategy that Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry would pursue were he to become president.

At least that is the strategy he says he will employ today. Who knows what he'll propose tomorrow or next week?

The ineffective response to terrorism by the Clinton administration encouraged the terrorists to go for broke with such high-profile targets as the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Capitol or the White House. We know that it was only because of the bravery of passengers on the fourth plane, which crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, that the horror was not greater.

If Clarke wants to cast blame for 9-11, he should look in a mirror. It was he, not the Bush administration, who controlled the power, strategy and direction of U.S. policy toward terrorism for the last decade. That we were hit hard on 9-11 was not the fault of George W. Bush but of William Jefferson Clinton and his chief adviser on terrorism, Richard Clarke.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Democrats for Bush ... 

Senator Zell Miller has publicly endorsed Bush for the presidency, and has started a "Democrats for Bush" campaign.

From Ed Moltzen at Late Final...
Georgia U.S. Sen. Zell Miller has started what looks to be a vigorous "Democrats for Bush" campaign:
I have also known John Kerry for several years and I’ve considered him a friend. He served our country honorably in Vietnam, and he has served our party admirably through much of his tenure in the Senate.

But after listening to Senator Kerry over the last year or two – after hearing the agenda he’s laid out for our country – I cannot support him in his race for the presidency. There are too many issues about which John Kerry and I disagree. And there are too few similarities between John Kerry and the great Democratic leaders I’ve known.
To hardcore Democrats, Miller is loathsome. One commenter on the Democratic National Committee's blog writes:
...(P)lease tell Mr. McAuliffe that I want Zell Miller out of the Democratic Party.


He is a traitor to our cause, and to all Democrats. Now he has started Democrats for Bush.

I want him out on his ear. I want to see the indication (R) next to his name. He is a disgrace to our party, and to my state of Georgia. He is so proud of being an ex-Marine, but he is endorsing a draft dodger like Bush over a decorated war hero like John Kerry.

With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans??
It's almost too easy, but here goes: "Certainly not Ralph Nader."

From one who's been there ... 

From the Citizen Smash site, one who has been in the thick of the fight against terror for a long time writes the following...
I’VE BEEN WORKING in counter-terrorism in one capacity or another since 1998, when I took a military course in anti-terrorism force protection. My first job in the field was conducting threat briefs for military personnel travelling overseas.

Each week, I would scan the classified threat matrixes, the State Department Consular warnings, and every other open-source I could find. I researched terror groups in Mexico, the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Europe, and the Middle East.

Every briefing I conducted had at least one slide dedicated to Usama bin Laden.

“This man wants to kill you,” I would tell my audience. “No matter what country in the world you visit, even right here in America, Usama bin Laden wants to kill the infidel crusaders.” I would pause for a moment to let it sink in. “Servicemen are his favorite target, but he’ll settle for civilians in a pinch.”

I would then read an excerpt from his 1998 fatwah:
We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it.
It always made a lasting impression.

AFTER THE BOMBINGS in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, I was very disappointed in my government’s half-hearted promises to "bring them to justice," and the pin-prick Tomahawk strikes. I wanted that sumbitch TAKEN OUT.

And then we were attacked at home. After September 11, 2001 my world changed forever. I had only been off active duty for a few months, but I had joined a reserve unit whose primary responsibilities included anti-terrorism force protection. The next month, I was sent to Egypt as part of a security force for the bi-annual Bright Star Exercise.

I was called up again in December 2002 to provide security for the buildup of Coalition forces in Kuwait. I spent eight months in the desert, poring over intelligence summaries and coordinating anti-terrorism efforts.

I know a thing or two about international terrorism, and how to fight it.

SO WHO IS TO BLAME for 9/11?

It isn't Bill Clinton, or Al Gore, or Madeleine Albright, or Bill Cohen, or Janet Reno, or Frederico Peña, or Norm Mineta, or Dick Clarke, or John Kerry.

It isn't George W. Bush, or Colin Powell, or Donald Rumsfeld, or John Ashcroft, or Karl Rove, or Condoleeza Rice, or Louis Freeh, or Trent Lott.

It is Usama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and the al Qaeda terror organization.

I realize it’s an election year, and there are partisan points to be made – but can we please stop pointing the fingers of blame at each other, and instead concentrate our combined efforts on capturing or killing these murderous bastards?

Or is that too much to ask?
I agree with the sentiment, but I have to say that I think it much more likely that terrorists will be located and eliminated if Bush wins another term...

Richard Clarke has no credibility left ... 

If he ever had any to begin with ...

From transcripts of background briefing a in early August 2002 by President Bush's former counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke to a handful of reporters, including Fox News' Jim Angle, enthusiastically praising the Bush administration's anti-terror efforts ...

CLARKE: January 2001, the incoming Bush administration was briefed on the existing strategy. They were also briefed on these series of issues that had not been decided on in a couple of years.

And the third point is the Bush administration decided then, you know, mid-January, to do two things. One, vigorously pursue the existing policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings, which we've now made public to some extent. . . .

The second thing the administration decided to do is to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided.

So, point five, that process which was initiated in the first week in February, uh, decided in principle, uh in the spring to add to the existing Clinton strategy and to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after Al Qaeda. . .

JIM ANGLE: You're saying that the Bush administration did not stop anything that the Clinton administration was doing while it was making these decisions, and by the end of the summer had increased money for covert action five-fold. Is that correct?

CLARKE: All of that's correct...

ANGLE: So, just to finish up if we could then, so what you're saying is that there was no — one, there was no [Clinton] plan; two, there was no delay; and that actually the first changes since October of '98 were made in the spring months just after the [Bush] administration came into office?

CLARKE: You got it. That's right.

Who do you believe? The Clarke of 2002? Or the disgruntled Clarke promoting and selling a book in 2004 ?

(Hat Tip to Instapundit)

It's GWB's fault ! 

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit ...
BUSH CAN'T GET A BREAK: Now he's being blamed for not invading Afghanistan in 1998! Here's the relevant passage from MSNBC:
The report revealed that in a previously undisclosed secret diplomatic mission, Saudi Arabia won a commitment from the Taliban to expel bin Laden in 1998. But a clash between the Taliban’s leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and Saudi officials scuttled the arrangement, and Bush did not follow up.
Damn him -- governing Texas while Rome burned! Why didn't he send the Texas Rangers to finish off Bin Laden? ("One mullah, one Ranger!") Sheesh. Can you say "Freudian slip?"

It's not as if anybody has the storyline on this figured out from the get-go or anything. . . .
Bush being blamed for everything is beginning to be standard fare for the liberal media.

Do you really still believe there's no media bias?

The price of appeasement ... 

When appeasement is the strategy of choice to confront terror, the bill will come due sooner or later. Germany is now seeing that it is NOT safe as related in this article from the Captain's Quarters site.
Germany learned a lesson last night about the fate of all appeasers, and fortunately for them may have learned it the easy way -- this time:

German President Johannes Rau canceled a trip to Djibouti Tuesday after receiving threats that Islamic terrorists were planning to try and assassinate him, his office said.
Rau had planned on wrapping up a three-nation African tour in the tiny country on the Horn of Africa on Wednesday, where he was to meet with German naval troops patrolling the Indian Ocean coast as part of the U.S.-led war on terror.

Germany, of course, offered up a very public Nein! when asked to support the Anglo-American proposal to topple Saddam Hussein for its twelve-year nose-thumbing of UNSC demands for compliance to 1991 cease-fire terms. Gerhard Schroeder hitched his wagon to Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin in joining the Axis of Weasels, although Germany never went as far as France did in attempting to intimidate other European countries into opposing the US. Despite all of this open-mindedness, Germany still got targeted by Islamofascists for an assassination attempt.

Memo to Germany: Figured it out yet? Appeasing terrorists don't make you their friend; they hate you because you exist, not because of complex international or financial reasons. When you appease, all you buy is time, but as history shows, you buy it for the enemy -- time inevitably works against the appeaser, allowing evil to gain credibility, support, and further growth. Time makes the eventual day of reckoning that much more painful.

Once upon a time, Germany taught the West that lesson. Perhaps Germany can figure it out quicker this time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"Shoulda' been" 9-11 hearing testimony ... 

Ed Moltzen at Late Final has put together the transcript of testimony he would have given the 9-11 commission investigation.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Commission,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address my role in the tragedy and outrage of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Much has been made about who will ultimately be blamed for America’s failure to stop al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on that crystal clear Tuesday. Today, with heavy heart, I step forward to accept blame.

As a voter, my lack of attention to the details and obvious signs began in 1993. Weeks after the first attack on the World Trade Center, when the towers reopened for business, I took it upon myself to re-prioritize. Like other voters during the 1990s, my attention was re-focused on other priorities.

Those new priorities included: Getting into, and out of, the stock market; Spending extra hours at my job, hoping to keep from becoming a casualty of the dot-com bust. I also spent countless hours studying and reading about the Whitewater and Lewinsky scandals, watching hearings, talk show debates and, ultimately, Congressional hearings and an impeachment trial.

Occasionally, terrorism would enter the discussion – but only occasionally. Oh, I made sure to read and study every news story about Ramzi Yousef, who was arrested, tried and convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. I paid close attention to the arrest, trial and conviction of Sheik Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric who helped organize another attempt at terrorizing New York and bombing key locations in the city. I watched, with outrage, stories about bombings at the Khobar Towers, U.S. embassies in Africa and the U.S.S. Cole.

But again, I allowed my attention as a voter to be diverted. Instead of asking tough questions of candidates or writing letters to the editor, I took time to laugh at Darrell Hammond and Will Farrell impersonating Al Gore and George Bush. Instead of demanding more attention to security by the airlines I flew, I made note of – and complained about – delays at airports and lack of overhead luggage space on my flights. When the occasional feature story in the newspaper or on cable news would point to the inevitable, catastrophic terrorist attack, I repeated the mantra: “If they were going to do it, they’d have done it already.”

All of that changed on Sept. 11, 2001. After that day, I realized the world had changed forever. So, too, my role as a voter changed.

So I can report to the commission that I have taken the following corrective actions:

First: I will ignore lame, substance-free T.V. commercials by political candidates. If they want my attention, they’ll have to have real proposals – free of special interest pressure or rhetoric – that demonstrate the a clear plan to fight terrorists and protect American lives;

Second: I will examine the public record of every candidate that seeks my vote, to judge how vulnerable they are to special interest pressure that diverts government resources from protecting American lives;

Third: I will approach each election with an open mind, free of brainless, partisan reflex. It doesn’t matter whether a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican. It matters whether the person is honest, and whether his or her plan to fight terrorists is strong, realistic and unrelenting. All things being equal, the candidate with the best plan gets my vote;

Fourth: Overblown, breathless and hysterical cries about “Constitutional rights being taken away” will be completely ignored unless those who complain can point to at least one, single concrete case of an American citizen being denied a right. (And that American citizen can’t be a terrorist or member of al Qaeda who wants to kill us all, only invoking citizenship to help carry out a terrorist plot);

And finally: I will completely ignore dumb, partisan finger-pointing. Because there are no more fingers to point, Mr. Chairman. As an American voter, I am prepared to take full responsibility for the country’s inattention to terrorist threats in the past. I am prepared to take responsibility for the country’s fight to completely destroy the terrorist threat to the country going forward.

As a voter, I will not be distracted from the single most important priority moving forward: winning the War on Terror. And I hope, as well, my colleagues in the voting public will do the same.

Thank you.

Clarke Blocked Osama capture .... 

From the Little Green Footballs site ...
Mansoor Ijaz says that would-be whistleblower Richard Clarke blocked efforts to apprehend Osama bin Laden.
Clinton administration diplomatic troubleshooter Mansoor Ijaz charged Monday that one-time White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke blocked efforts to gather intelligence on al Qaeda and torpedoed a deal to have Osama bin Laden extradited from Afghanistan in the years before the 9/11 attacks.

“I was personally asked to brief Condoleezza Rice’s deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on exactly what had gone wrong in the previous efforts to get bin Laden out of the Sudan, to get the terrorism data out of the Sudan, which I negotiated the offer for,” Ijaz told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends.”

He said he also personally negotiated an deal “to get bin Laden out of Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 2000, using at Abu Dhabi Royal Family as a proxy to get him out on an extradition offer.”

But Ijaz told Fox:

“In each case of things that were involved in the Clinton administration, Richard Clarke himself stepped in and blocked the efforts that were being made over and over and over again.”

Krugman's latest rant ...  

Paul Krugman, of the NY Times is still trying to paint the Bush administration with the brush of "weak on terror". This time he uses Richard Clarke's book contents to try to make his points.

I was going to thoroughly fisk his latest rant, but discovered that Donald Luskin has already performed this service, in much more detail than I could, here.

A good point ... 

From Mitch Berg at the Shot in the Dark site ...
Michael Savage had a good one last night.

The same liberals who are exercised that Bush hasn't yet taken out Osama Bin Laden...

...are the ones who are condemning Israel for killing a guy who - in proportion - has done much more damage to Israel than Bin Laden likely ever will to the US.

Israel's casualties in the intifada, if made proportional to the US population, would amount to 16,000 dead and over 90,000 wounded.

The double standard is sickening.

Kerry's "New Direction" ... 

The Kerry camp has launched a new ad that promises "a new direction" under Kerry's "leadership". This new direction is, of course, the same "old direction" repackaged in bright shiny new words. It still promises to roll back tax cuts for the "wealthy" (although there is no clear definition of just what "wealthy" is...) and to place our heads firmly in the sand "ostrich style" with regard to international terrorism. And as usual, Kerry doesn't hesitate to remind us of his massive amount of military experience gleaned from 4 months in combat during the Vietnam conflict ....

An excerpt from this article at Reuters ...
Democrat John Kerry, locked in a harsh exchange of attacks with President Bush, launched a television ad on Monday stressing his military and economic record and promising "a new direction for America."

The 30-second advertisement, which aides said was designed to change the tenor of the bitter presidential race and introduce Kerry to voters in 17 key states, stresses his military experience and features him briefly talking to the camera about health care and taxes.

"We need to get some things done in this country: affordable health care, rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy, really investing in our kids," the Massachusetts senator said in the ad. "That's why I'm running for president."

The ad's announcer says Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, "fought for his country" and has "the military experience to defend America." It concludes: "John Kerry. A new direction for America."

Kerry the "carpetbagger" ... 

From today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram ...
The responsibility of serving in the armed forces was taken for granted by my fellow baby boomers. While serving, most of us learned to obey and honor our military leaders, even if we didn't necessarily agree with all commands.

Unfortunately, before entering the service, some young men were exposed to college educators who believed in utopia. When exposed to the horrors of war, they rebelled against what previous generations of Americans had believed and sacrificed their lives for.

Some, like John Kerry, made political careers of branding everyone in uniform as "baby killers," based on rumored incidents that were generally only isolated occurrences, if true at all.

The Vietnam War, like our Civil War, divided this country. After that war, some took advantage of the fact that they were on the winning side. They were called "carpetbaggers."

Now that the Cold War has been won and a new generation is honorably serving our nation, there are some, like the carpetbaggers of yesteryear -- such as Kerry -- who try to take advantage of their military service record.

That's despite the fact that he was instrumental in trashing the reputation of every Vietnam vet who served with pride.

I can't accept this new type of carpetbagger. Kerry is still the same man who laid a mantle of shame on all U.S. servicemen. His voting record reflects his true ideals.

Kenneth Weant — Arlington

Monday, March 22, 2004

Iraq Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani complains to UN ... 

From Fox News, this article reports that the Ayatollah is stating that the three person presidency mandated by the interim constitution is "a dead end" and would leave the country in a "unstable situation" leading to "partition and division."
In a March 19 letter to top U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani said he would not participate in upcoming meetings with U.N. officials should the world body endorse the interim law.

"This constitution that gives the presidency in Iraq to a three-member council, a Kurd, a Sunni Arab and a Shiite Arab, enshrines sectarianism and ethnicity in the future political system in the country," the Shiite leader's letter said.

It said the presidential system of the constitution "will lead to a dead end and puts the country in an unstable situation and could lead to partition and division."

The interim document stipulates that decisions by the three-man presidency must be unanimous.

Al-Sistani said he would boycott the U.N. mission "unless the United Nations takes a clear stance that the constitution does not bind the National Assembly and is not mentioned in any new Security Council resolution concerning Iraq."

More on "foreign leaders for Kerry" 

I didn't know it, but there is a website specifically put up for "foreign leaders to endorse John Kerry" for the presidency !

Foreign Leaders for John Kerry

(Hat Tip to Donald Luskin's site)

More on Kerry and snowboarding ... 

Kerry Speaks Out Against Snowboarding
(2004-03-20) -- The presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, Sen. John Forbes Kerry, today called for a ban on snowboarding. The demand comes less than a week after a Secret Service agent caused the Senator to tumble on a slope in Idaho.

"Snowboarding is an inherently dangerous activity," said Mr. Kerry. "Although I'm one of the best snowboarders alive, and I don't fall down, there is no way to protect the average 19-year-old from being taken out by a [expletive deleted] Secret Service agent. The board manufacturers claim the sport is safe. But how do you ask a man to be the last man to break his leg for a lie?"

In a symbolic gesture, Mr. Kerry plans to throw his snowboard, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, over the White House fence later this week. TV news crews will be permitted to videotape his second snowboard toss attempt.
If you enjoyed this satire by Scott Ott, you can read more of his work at Scrappleface)

Where's Kerry's tax returns ? 

This article from National Review Online poses an interesting question.

Financial disclosures are common for candidates for public office, but Kerry and his handlers seem reluctant to provide this information to the public.
In January, as the battle for the Democratic nomination raged in Iowa and New Hampshire, the campaign of retired General Wesley Clark sent a letter to fellow candidate John Kerry. "Release your tax returns for the past five years," the letter asked Kerry. "In the interest of full disclosure for the voting public, join General Clark in making the full public record available to voters."

On January 18, during an interview on ABC's This Week, Kerry was asked to respond. "I began the process of putting out tax returns long before Wesley Clark was a Democrat," Kerry said. "I released all my tax returns for 20 years. I have never not released my tax returns throughout my political career."

The answer seemed simple enough, but it turns out the reality is not so simple. Despite Kerry's claim, it is not at all clear that he has released his tax returns for a significant part of his time in the Senate, especially in recent years. At best, Kerry appears to have released information about his taxes on a sporadic and piecemeal basis.

Unlike Clark, Kerry has not made his tax information available in a public forum, such as his campaign website. A Kerry campaign spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, saying Kerry has released his returns "every year," promised on Friday to e-mail NRO copies of the candidate's returns for the last five years. The e-mail never arrived, nor did Cutter respond to several follow-up calls.

That leaves a check of news databases as the best way to determine whether Kerry has in fact released information for a given year. And from those sources, the facts about Kerry's taxes appear spotty at best.

Looking at the last five years, as Clark requested, there are no published indications that Kerry has made his full tax returns public for the years 2001, 2000, 1999, and 1998. As for 2002, it appears that last December, at the time Kerry made an $850,000 loan to his then-struggling campaign, he apparently released his 2002 return to some reporters.

Another letter from someone who's been there ... 

From Donald Luskin's site, a letter from a lieutenant colonel returning from a tour of duty in Iraq ...
My mobilization tour has ended, and I am back from Iraq. Two quick observations pertinent to Iraq and liberal lies, whether propagated by Krugman or others.

If Spain was attacked by Al Qaeda in revenge for Spain's support of the US in the toppling of Saddam Hussein, then Al Qaeda and Saddam must have been much closer than the liberals tell us. They claim that Saddam had no connection to worldwide terror. Or when confronted with Abu Nidal and Abbu Abbas, or Saddam's payments to families of the Palestinian homicide bombers, they respond that at least he had no connection to Al Qaeda, our real target in the war. Then comes Al Qaeda, vaporinzing their arguments along with 200 Spanish commuters. Of course, they could have maintained their "no Saddam-Al Qaeda connection" argument, and simply recognized that Spain was a target because they support the US in Afghanistan and in the secret intelligence efforts, and because Spain is now also a bastion of liberal democracy, thus an anathema to Al Qaeda and the other Islamic extremists.

But, that would have meant admitting that Bush has been right about the threat that the islamo-fascists pose to the entire civilized world. So, they would rather stick to an illogical argument that derives into easier sound bites: "Spain was attacked because they supported Bush in his failed policy in Iraq. Don't support Bush."

Congressional Democrats have latched on to certain phrases that no doubt have come from focus group reactions. The most used are "Bush and his go-it-alone strategy," or "Bush and his unliteral approach," or something similar. I had just landed in the US heading to McDill AFB when I heard Rep. Jim Davis (Democrat, 11th District, Florida, home of McDill) on the radio saying that he, too, had just returned from Iraq, and his primary concern was the go-it-alone approach, and that this seem to come from SecDef Rumsfeld. If one looks at Rep. Davis' website, he made the same observation about unilateralism after a trip last October. Now, if Rep. Davis, who supported the war, visited the palace where the Coalition Provisional Authority is headquartered, and where I spent much of the past two months, then he simply could not have missed the representatives of dozens of our allies who are readily apparent in the hallways and offices. There are 34 other nations with troops officially on the ground, plus a couple of others who are not official members, but nonetheless have personnel directly engaged. The coalition divisions controlling all of Iraq south of Baghdad are composed entirely of non-US troops. The only conclusion I can reach is that such Democrats, who could not have missed the evidence, have chosen to lie out of political expediency. My only consternation is that the facts and the truth are not readily available, nor do journalists, who should have an obligation to the facts, ever challenge such assertions. Mostly, these lies insult our allies who have placed their citizens in harm's way for our common cause.