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Passing Thoughts In Life's Rearview Mirror: The YEAR That Was
No, we didn't lose our column at Common Conservative. That will be up later tonight in time for tomorrow. No, this was a column idea that Marcie and I had for the 16 January column we were working on. But relevance is key in our columns, and 16 days late with this analysis doesn't equate to being very relevant. So, we decided to make this a special Passing Thoughts column for our regular readers.
2006 was indeed a year with joy and sorrow; good news and bad. And this is our year-end round up of the year's most compelling stories that drifted through the news and across the blogs. They are in no particular order, but their relevance to the world over this past year makes them all equally important.
Number One--Ariel Sharon Steps Down; Ehud Olmert Steps In
Why is this a significant story? Because we saw the loss of a great man who was Israel's last good leader. Ariel Sharon had a stroke in January, and Ehud Olmert stepped in as the interim prime minister. When Sharon slipped into a coma, Olmert was installed as the new, reigning prime minister. And while we all had high hopes that he would maintain a firm stance for Israel on the world stage, we were soon disappointed. A moderate by nature, Olmert began making advances for peace in Israel--he was one of the proponents for a withdrawal from Gaza; a prospect that Sharon wasn't happy with but conceded to nonetheless. What Olmert didn't get, and still doesn't to this day, is that you can't make peace with a tiger that wants to eat you. That is what the Palestinians want, and they proved that by ratcheting up their attacks once Israel withdrew. But his biggest test came when Hezbollah made an incursion into Israel, and snatched an IDF soldier. The war began, but Olmert never waged it to win. A fact that was more than evident with how his soldiers revolted when the cease-fire was put into place at the behest of the UN. To this day, Hezbollah still lobs rockets into Israel, and the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon does nothing to stop it. Olmert had a lot of promise taking over for Sharon, and the Israeli people are definitely not impressed with this man's leadership.
Number Two--Reutersgate-All The News That Is Fit To Fake
Reuters was caught red-handed peddling phony photos of the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict. They were caught by numerous bloggers, but it was Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs that led the charge of the blogger brigades.And at first this scandal looked like one, little contrived image--extra smoke being photo-shopped into a a stock photo--but it was anything but that as more and more images were disseminated by bloggers. Buildings being cut-and-pasted into other images, different angles of similar pictures to make people think that the devestation in Labanon was worse than what it really was. There were also a number of people used in several photos, including the infamous Green Helmet Guy who admitted to staging photos of the rescue work. Zombie put together/li> a comprehensive report on it, detailing the sort of fraud. Once caught, Reuters removed ALL of the photos from their site, and from cached image galleries through Google and Yahoo, but the evidence was there that they had no problem faking photos to push an agenda.
Number Three--Iran And North Korea: Moving In Time Together
No year would be complete without having a couple of nutter regimes barreling headlong towards the aquisition of nuclear weapons, and both nations were taking their steps this year. Both executed similar overtures this year: They both conducted missile tests, though North Korea's was a complete failure; Both tested new military hardware. North Korea conducted a nuclear test that's hardly worth mentioning for the sheer fact that it took the nuclear watchdog agencies at least a week to verify it, and when they did they concluded it was about one megaton; a far cry from the fifteen-to-twenty megaton detonation that Russia claimed it was. Iran announced to the world that it had enriched uranium, and planned on bringing 3000 more centrifuges on line by summer of 2007 to continue it's enrichment program. Kim Jong-Il returned to the six nation talks making demands. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thumbed his nose at the weak UN sanctions slapped on Iran, and continued his call for the destruction of Israel. If it weren't for the comedy of errors between these two nuts, there wouldn't have been as many laughs this year. But we shouldn't forget how dangerous these two regimes can be. China is considering a possible regime change in North Korea because they clearly can't control their little doggy, and Japan is moving towards remilitarizing. Nations in the Middle East are uneasy as Iran quietly continues it's work on nuclear weapons. And all the while, the world holds it's breath, hoping that someone will do something to stop both nations.
Number Four--Dems Win The Midterms; GOP Goes Back To The Drawing Board
To say that we were elated at the Dem win in November would be a lie. We did not want to see them take power back in Congress, but the GOP made mistakes that the voters held them accountable for. What went wrong? The voters did not like the fact that the GOP strayed from its conservative roots, spent like drunken sailors in port for the first night of shore leave, failed to get comprehensive immigration reform passed, and failed to fulfill a single promise made in 2004. Hugh Hewitt warned about such tomfoolery on the part of the GOP in his book Painting the Map Red, and disaster followed their dawdling as he predicted it would. Also losing out in this last election was Donald Rumsfeld, who filed his resignation with the president after the midterm debacle, and Bob Gates was brought in to replace the embattled defense secretary. But if everyone was looking for change from the Democrats, they had to be saddened to see the same mistakes being made by the new party in power. Nancy Pelosi was slapped down twice--once over her backing of John Murtha for Majority Leader in the House (her caucus opted for Steny Hoyer, instead), and over Alcee Hastings being considered to take over the House Intelligence Committee chairmanship (which booted Jane Harman out of the seat, who should be there as her right of ascension). Hastings was jettisoned when it became apparent he was bringing to much controversy, and she settled on Silvestre Reyes, who quickly proved how inept he was in an interview with Congressional Quaterly's Jeff Stein. Furthermore, the Democrats are working to break up the immigration bill passed last session--including the removal of funding for the border fence--and "streamlining" the process for illegal aliens to gain US citizenship. As painful as it may be for the country to swallow, the power changes hands, but nothing really changes in Congress.
Number Five--The Year Of Perpetual Outrage
That's what Michelle Malkin called 2006 as we saw the "religion of peace" come unglued. It started with the Danish cartoon fiasco where a number of Danish cartoonists were approached to draw cartoons reflecting their opinion of Islam. Muslims around the world rioted. Embassies were torched, the cartoonists were threatened with death, and the UN demanded that the Danes be more tolerant of a "peaceful" religion. Obviously the UN wasn't paying too much attention to the news, and the amount of people injured or killed during these riots. Over 800 people were injured, and 130 people were killed, among them Father Andrea Santoro who was gunned down in Turkey by a teenage boy upset over the cartoons. But the violence didn't stop there. In Pakistan, they burned down fast-food restaurants, and in Jakarta they assaulted the offices of Playboy magazine. Pope Benedict XVI was threatened, as well, and all because he referenced a conversation from the 14th Century about holy wars and jihad. They burned him in effigy, and called for his head to be separated from his shoulders. Nice, and tolerant, huh? Yes, so tolerant that Christian churches were torched in Gaza City, and a nun--Sister Leonella Sgorbati--was murdered; shot in the back by a Somali man. All of this closed out the year with six imams being removed from a flight for their suspicious behavior. And while no rioting ensued, they have filed a lawsuit against the airline for racially profiling them. As we stated then, this event seemed more like it was staged than anything else. But their rage continues to seethe, making it harder and harder for people to buy the "religion of peace" line peddled by the apologists.
Those were the big stories of 2006, as we saw them. There are, of course, no shortage in events that tops other people's lists, and I am sure the blogosphere will be full of recaps like this. For a fairly comprehensive list of ALL the events of 2006, you can check out Wikipedia's entry for the year 2006, which also includes a list of those who passed onto their eternal reward this year. One thing is certain: Next year is already shaping up to be a humdinger of a year as all eyes turn to the Middle East, and all minds question what will happen next in our war on terror.
I share the same love the kids have for Mark Steyn, and his little "tribute" to the former dictator on his site is one of those must read pieces:
Just in time for Eid, the Iraqis decided Saddam Hussein was one old acquaintance who really should be forgot. Despite The New York Times’ protests that it’s all been too rushed, it’s three years since the mass murderer was pulled from his spider hole. Here’s what I wrote in The Spectator in December 2003, outlining the possible approaches to the trial: In a nutshell:
A courtroom in Baghdad: good.A courtroom in The Hague: bad.
Iraqi and coalition judges: good.International jet-set judges: bad.
Swift execution: good.Playing Scrabble with Slobo in the prison library for the next 20 years: bad.
Bet on Bush and the Iraqis to get their way. As for whether Iraq has a justice system under which Saddam can be tried, I suggest we look to the great King of Babylonia, Hammurabi, whose Code of Laws, the world's first written legal code circa 1780 BC, stands up pretty well. I'm not a Babylonian legal scholar but I note that Saddam's digging of a subterranean hiding place in his hut appears to be in clear breach of Law No. 21:
If any one break a hole into a house, he shall be put to death before that hole and be buried.
Well, it didn’t quite go that way, but it was close enough, and better than the Hague-Slobo model. And to have convicted, sentenced and executed the dictator is a signal accomplishment for the new Iraq. When I was in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, shortly after the war, a young boy showed me his schoolbook. It was like my textbooks at his age - full of doodles and squiggles and amusing additions to the illustrations. With one exception: the many pages bearing pictures of Saddam were in pristine condition. Even a bored schoolboy doesn't get so careless that he forgets where not to draw the line. When the cowardly thug emerged from his hole, it was a rare moment: in the fetid stability of the Middle East, how often do you get to see a big-time dictator looking like some boxcar hobo and meekly submitting to a lice inspection by an American soldier? ...
...The reality is that, as long as he was alive, there was always the possibility that he would return. When a dictator has exercised the total control over his subjects that Saddam did, his hold on them can only end with his death. A day after his capture, I wrote in the Telegraph: Saddam, of course, attempted to reclaim his stature, but, in his current position, opportunities are few and far between. In his first interrogation at Baghdad Airport, he was asked if he’d like a glass of water, and replied: “If I drink water I will have to urinate and how can I urinate when my people are in bondage?” If there’s a statue left of him in Iraq, they should chisel that on the plinth.
That’s still a good idea. My old newspaper in London headlined its editorial “Justice For A Mass Murderer”. There can never be “justice” for murderous dictators – there’s simply too much blood. But there can be retribution, and a final line drawn under a dark chapter of history as he’s shovelled into his grave.
He was not without his style. He liked his Quality Street toffees and his Sinatra albums. In the early Nineties, when the Prince of Wales ventured some mild criticism of His Execellency, Saddam gave a soundbite to his son’s newspaper declaring that “we in Iraq do not pay any attention to the likes of the British Crown Prince” on the grounds that he’s “a notorious playboy well known in the cellars of the night and in whorehouses throughout Europe”, which is pretty cute. In the oddest development of his career, he decided late in life he was a novelist and pumped out a bodice-ripper called Zabibah And The King, an allegory of Iraqi history in which he was the king and Zabibah was Iraq, and getting it night and day. It was, oddly enough, a bestseller in Iraq, and was subsequently turned into a musical – a real-life version of Larry Gelbart’s old joke that he hoped Hitler was alive and on the road with a musical in trouble. Saddam was very much alive and on the road with a musical, but it wasn’t in trouble. Au contraire, it did boffo biz. I would love to have seen it: the critics said it did for camels what Cats did for cats. ...
Yes, there is a bit of fun to be had at Saddam's expense. He was a human being (though the kids would differ in that opinion), and he did die. And it wasn't in the most pleasant of ways, either. I've seen the video. I won't say it's gruesome, but there is something about such an execution that sort of makes your stomach turn. But as Mark points out, for Saddam there simply too much blood spilled. I'm sure there are many Iraqis that don't feel their anger quenched by such a quick death, and he did only face one trial, rather than the numerous ones that could be carried out. But, how many times can you put someone to death. The new Iraqi government obviously wanted his sentence carried out as soon as humanly possible. It would cut down on the unending circus that he would perpetrate during each court proceeding, and it reduced the risk of having him broken out of captivity.
As Mark said, there was alsways the risk he could return.
Not anymore. He has gone the way of the do-do. He's pushing up daisies in Tikrit. But going back to the blood part above, can his death slake the thirst for retribution the Iraqis had? No. It would be similar to a "what if" scenario where Hitler hadn't committed suicide in his bunker. What would the Nuremberg Trials be like had he faced the world's justice. Would people be satisfied with his hanging? Not likely. For Hitler, the blood of millions was on his hands. The same goes for Stalin (who is still revered by many in Russia), and Mao. Brutal dictators and tyrants like those people could never achieve the justice that so many in the world would demand. The Iraqis got their wish. Saddam Hussein brutalized, tortured, and murdered his people from 1979 up to his deposing in 2003. Twenty-four years is a long reign of terror for a subjugated nation.
If nothing else, we can hope that the Iraqi people learned the lessons taught by Saddam. That is not how a nation should be run. That is not how a populace should be treated. But the lesson that Saddam learned in this crazy, upside-down, backwards world of the 21st Century is that when someone bigger than you says "jump," you'd better be asking "how high" in mid-jump. Had he complied with the UN's final order to him, he might still be alive today. 'Might' being the operative word there as no one really knows if we would have gone in had he complied. For all we know, we might have fueled an internal revolt rather than putting US boots on the ground in Iraq. Then again, we might have inserted some troops--special operations, to be sure--to whack some of the terrorists we knew were there.
That, above all, is what the world should remember about this whole phase of the war. This went beyond weapons of mass destruction, which is still a hotly contested issue on both sides. He was still victimizing his people, rebuilding his arsenal, had diverted funds earmarked for his "starving" people, and he had terrorists ties and operators in his country. He was a problem in the region. Was he the biggest one? Not by any stretch of the imagination. He was the easiest one. Despite being given twelve years to rebuild his shattered military, they still couldn't stand up to the coalition forces. That is, perhaps, the biggest gripe we have with this phgase of the war. It wasn't necessary at this moment. And as we're seeing in Iran, he was a threat that could have been dealt with quite easily. Iran stands on the brink of gaining nuclear weapons, either through a direct purchase (which I doubt any nation in it's right mind would make that deal), or through their advancing research. Iran is the bigger threat, but for some reason, trhe administration decided that Iraq had to come first.
Let's hope that they didn't make a mistake in that assessment. It could prove fatal for a few of our allies if we were wrong.
DO the stars find themselves as fascinating as their fans do? Yes, says a forthcoming psychological study of Hollywood’s celebrity class. It is not just money or career that makes them seem different: it is their extreme levels of self love and their compulsive need for public attention. Some stars have long been aware of Hollywood vanity. Beyoncé Knowles, the pop singer and actress, said recently: “It’s scary that you rarely meet celebrities that are normal. They live on their own diva planets.”
Two Los Angeles psychologists have produced the first scientific evidence that many celebrities sincerely believe that they are better than the rest of us. The psychologists’ forthcoming book suggests that many pop culture icons are heading for disaster.
Mark Young and Drew Pinsky used a mathematical formula to measure the traits, including exhibitionism and vanity, that make up narcissism. Psychologists believe that in general men are both bossier than women and show off more. However, in the “celebrity class” women are far more narcissistic than men and up to a third are more manipulative and vain about their appearance than the typical woman in the street, according to the psychologists from the University of Southern California.
Young and Pinsky have had rare access: celebrities queue up to appear on Loveline, Pinsky’s nationally syndicated radio show, where he has been compared to Professor Anthony Clare, the BBC psychiatrist, for his revealing interviewing style. They asked 200 celebrities who appeared on the programme to fill out a standard questionnaire called the Narcissism Personality Inventory. They were asked how they felt about themselves, including whether they felt they deserved compliments or were embarrassed by them and whether they insisted on being “respected” at all times.
Participants remain anonymous but interviewees featured on Pinsky’s website include Renée Zellweger, Jessica Simpson, Jim Carrey and members of Duran Duran, the British pop band. “It was people like that — actors, comedians, musicians and reality TV contestants — who emerged as the most narcissistic of all,” said Pinsky. “The fewer real-life skills they had, the louder they tend to be in their attempts to hold on to attention.” ...
... Pinsky said: “Vanity is only part of it. They crave attention, are over-confident of their abilities, lack empathy and can behave erratically. But they are often admired and well liked, especially on a first meeting, and perform well in public.” Knowles said she had noticed a “desperate hunger” around her when she first started making films in Hollywood: “I hope I’m past needing it, as I don’t want to feel the void I see in a lot of celebrities — the unhappiness underneath the smile.”
Young said he suspected that many of today’s Hollywood “fast set”, such as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, were in danger of stumbling over the line between fun and malady.
“I have spoken with Nicole Richie, Hilton’s on-off best friend, and she is very polite in private. But she has had a troubled past, her adoptive father [Lionel Richie, the pop star] had admitted he was not a very good parent, and now we see it all coming out in the attention-generating headlines about alleged eating disorders,” Young said.
“They are going further and further. One of these Hollywood party girls is going to be dead in five years’ time.
“We are seeing a new type of celebrity who is famous just for being famous, without a foundation of skills, and this puts the pressure on them to perform ever more outrageously to feed their need for attention. Like Britney being photographed without underwear.”
He added: “We have also found striking differences between the celebrities and their jobs — the more real-life skills they have, such as musicians, the less narcissistic they are.
I'm sure a lot of readers are scratching their heads and saying "yeah, so? What's so important about this?" It's not that it's important, per se. Rather, it's revealing, and it does so in a way that confirms the suspicions that many people have had for years. Today's Hollywood stars and starlets can't compare to those who came before them. Take an actor like Jimmy Stewart, and show me who in Hollywood can even compare to him today. Not only was the man a fine actor, but he served this nation during World War II. The same holds true for Eddie Albert, Johnny Carson, and Art Carney. These men had a life outside of Hollywood, and set aside their acting to serve this nation.
Today's celebrities simply can't compare. They live in a world of fantasy, from one day to the next, and have people who wait on them hand and foot. They have people who stroke their egos anytime they need it on the set, and have agents that butter them up when they really feel the need. And the behavior nowadays can't compare to the class and elegance of bygone days. NEVER would an actor pull the stunts that Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, or Martin Sheen have done. Back in the day, Hollywood supported this nation, but in recent years their celebrity status seems to have given them a de facto pass to act like an ass for all the world to see.
Do celebrities make a point about issues in the world? Absolutely. Though I'm not fond of her except in a couple of roles, Angelina Jolie has brought attention to the plight of children in Third World nations, and devoted a good deal of her own money to helping them. George Clooney, who isn't a bad actor, is constantly pushing the point that Darfur needs help, and has urged the UN to get more active in the nation of Sudan. Sure, these people still crave the limelight, but even they have worthy causes they support. Does this make them any less vain? No, but it is worth recognizing when they do something that is seemingly selfless.
But it doesn't change the simple fact that celebrities, in general, today are self-centered narcissists. They two psychologists bring up Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Not surprising that they seem to garner some of the more outrageous headlines in the news. But what's to be expected out of someone like Paris Hilton. She's never really worked a day in her life, and she is enjoying the party circuit with her family's millions. Her parents obviously could care less about what their daughter does, and with her continued antics, it's clear she is one of those people who craves the attention and adoration of the "little people."
That is perhaps the biggest rub of all regarding celebrities. We are the "little people;" The unwashed masses that, ew, might touch them, or come within their personal little bubbles. These people don't like being around us, yet they depend on us. They want to see their movies, go to their concerts, and be at public appearances, yet they shower nothing but disdain on us. We work for a living. They don't really. There are actors who do go to great efforts to get into a role, like Robert DeNiro for the movie Raging Bull. (He purposefully gained sixty pounds to protray the boxer Jake LaMotta.) Also of note, DeNiro founded the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Company.
This isn't to say that we should disdain celbrities. Many are fine artists, in their own right, but this study puts their lives in a bit of perspective that many of us suspected. It also sends a message to people that try so hard to be like those celebrities that such a life isn't all that's it made up to be.
Between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Baghdad time, the former Iraqi president/dictator was hung for his crimes.Some witnesses say he was smiling. Others said he looked worried; almost fearful. He clutched a Koran in his hands. And I can guarantee you that there were many celebrations in Iraq once news spread that he was dead.
His familiy has requested his body so that it may be buried under Islamic traditions, which I find funny as Saddam was secular, preferring not to govern Iraq under shari'a law. His daughter claims that he was drugged before the execution because he did not seem like himself. I find it interesting that she made that statement on CNN as she was not present at the execution. But it is a distinct possibility as nations that still do carry out capital punishment usually drug those about to be executed to "ease their pain and suffering." Whatever. This man did nothing but create pain and suffering for his nation. I hardly see why such leniency should have been bestowed on him.
Yes, it is annoying to me why such a fuss was made over his execution. I was up late last night watchng coverage of the aftermath of his execution, flipping between FOX News and CNN, and you could seriously tell the difference in coverage. CNN had a somber tone; almost as though they were mourning that passing of a great leader. Meanwhile, FOX reported the execution as simply a news story. That is, after all, what this was. Simply a news story.
I can say that I am happy that this piece of human debris is dead--gone for good. I share the Iraqis happiness that their former dictator is worm food now, and that I will shed no tears. But the war is far from over. Indeed, the morning has been rocked by bombings, but even the press admits that they cannot corroborate a connection to his execution when it came to the violence this morning.
This step for the new Iraqi government was necessary to separate itself from the former regime. There was no way that they were going to allow this man to live. And a last minute appeal to a United States district court was met with a resounding refusal to address the issue; this was an Iraqi matter, not an American matter. Hugh Hewitt points out the mistake on the part of his legal team. They should have filed the appeal to the Ninth "Circus" Court. Maybe he would have obtained a stay from them, but the Iraqis would have finished the job regardless.
The era of Saddam Hussein is over, and it was not nearly short enough. For all the misery the man caused, for all the deaths he ordered, and for all the human indignity that he forced his fewllow citizens to bear and witness, this piece of slime was let off far too easy. I personally believe that the Iraqis would have served themselves better had they implemented one of his own tools in the execution, but I am not sure if any of his wood chippers were still functioning in the torture chambers he utilized.
From the AP News Service, ethics charges have been filed against Mr. Nifong surrounding the Duke Lacrosse case:
The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse sexual assault case, accusing him of saying misleading and inflammatory things to the media about the athletes under suspicion. The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment. The complaint could also force District Attorney Mike Nifong off the case by creating a conflict of interest.
"He's got this hanging over his head," said Thomas Metzloff, a Duke law professor and member of the bar's ethics committee for the past 10 years. "It relates so much to his underlying conduct in the case."
Among the four rules of professional conduct that Nifong was accused of violating was a prohibition against making comments "that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused." ...
... The bar cited 41 quotations and eight paraphrased statements made to newspaper and TV reporters, saying many of them amounted to "improper commentary about the character, credibility and reputation of the accused" or their alleged unwillingness to cooperate. Most of the comments were in March and April, in the early days of the case. Among them:
- Nifong referred to the lacrosse players as "a bunch of hooligans."
- He declared: "I am convinced there was a rape, yes, sir."
- He told ESPN: "One would wonder why one needs an attorney if one was not charged and had not done anything wrong."
- He told The New York Times: "I'm disappointed that no one has been enough of a man to come forward. And if they would have spoken up at the time, this may never have happened."
Nifong was also charged with breaking a rule against "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." The bar said that when DNA testing failed to find any evidence a lacrosse player raped the accuser, Nifong told a reporter the players might have used a condom.
According to the bar, Nifong knew that assertion was misleading, because he had received a report from an emergency room nurse in which the accuser said her attackers did not use a condom. ...
...Last week, Nifong dropped the rape charges against the athletes after the stripper wavered in her story, saying she was no longer certain she was penetrated vaginally with a penis, as she had claimed several times before. The men still face charges of kidnapping and sexual offense. In recent months - and especially after last week - legal experts and even Nifong's own colleagues have warned openly that the case appears pitifully weak.
And the hits just keep on coming. Mike Nifong has a lot of explaining to do. And I honestly hope he takes that arrogance into the ethics hearing. He'll be disbarred in not time. The reason for his zeal in this case was due soleyl to his reelection bid. He had something, coming down the home stretch, that would enhance his image, and win the election. He used this case to prop up his campaign, and he literally used these players. He has slandered them, mislead people discussing the case with him, and purposefully suppressed evidence.
His conduct aside, his professionalism in the case is in serio9us question. He filed charges against these thre young men before even getting a deposition from the accuser. He admitted just three short months ago that he hadn't even discussed the rape with her. How can you file charges when you haven't talked to the accuser? Add that to the fact that she has repeatedly changed her story. You tell me how these three guys are supposed to get a fair trial with Mr. Nifong's inflammatory comments, and his refusal to reveal evidence to the defense team? It's not possible.
I have said from the beginning that Mr. Nifong has acted inappropriately and unethically. He should be removed the case immediately, and in my opinion, he should be disbarred for his behavior.
The latest U.S. deaths brought the number of members of the U.S. military killed since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978 — five more than the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Now, let us compare applaes to apples here. BarcePundit did the same thing (only his numbers are off by 100); 2,403 men losat their lives at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched their surprise attack. So, using the AP's logic, we should have ended our involvement in World War II when we reached that number, correct?
May of 1942 saw the Battle of the Coral Sea, where we lost 543 men. June 4-7, 1942 saw the Battle of Midway--the turning point of the Pacific campaign--where we lost 307 men. In November of 1942, we opened up our Euro/Africa offensive with Operation: Torch, which claimed over 480 men. By February of 1943, our casualty count was well above 2500 men lost. So, is that when we should have called it quits? Over a full year prior to the D-Day invasion, and the final push against Hitler?
This is why I do dislike the media so very much in covering this war. What gives them the right to to make such broad, sweeping judgments? Granted they do not make the judgment themselves, but the inclusion of that paragraph in that story gives the reader the impression that the cost has been too high; that we have exceeded the blood shed in the worst terrorists attack on the US--indeed, the worst on our home soil--ever.
The media will never understand what the term "sacrifice" means. We shed more blood in World War II than any war previous, or since. In World War I we lost 126,000 men. In World War II, we lost 407,300 men. That was the price to turn back the forces of evil from 1941-1945. The price, in my opinion, was a high one to pay, but one that needed to be paid. To stop the forces of evil in this world, we pay with our dearest blood. It is a fact of life, and it is not something our young men and women do lightly. They KNOW when they sign their names on the dotted line that they may be called on to do a duty that no one wishes would happen. That would be going to war. That is their job, and they accept it with grim determination and with an unwavering love of their nation and freedom.
The AP wqould be better seved isf they simply reported the news, and left the analysis to others. The act of putting that fact into their piece serves no purpose other than to fuel those who are ardently antiwar, and oppose our mission. Their comparison makes no sense because by the time 1943 rolled around, we had already lost more soldiers than what we did at Pearl Harbor. They are not marking a "grim milestone." They are pimping their agenda, which is obviously opposition to this war. No one likes war, but there are times where it is a necessary evil. That includes this moment in time, and hisotry is showing us that. Maybe if the AP monkeys understood our enbemy, and what is at stake they may have thought twice about including that little factoid in this article.
History, a wise man said, is a pack of tricks we play on the dead. Very well: Let's get out the deck and deal. As we stand on the cusp of 2008, let's look back on the follies of 2007. North Korea returned to the negotiating table and announced it wants a Playstation 3 and a ham sandwich. Also a pony. Talks broke up when the Americans refused to supply a Playstation because they bought North Korea an Xbox last time, and it just sat in the closet.
The new Democratic Congress repealed the Patriot Act, banned racial profiling at airport checkpoints, required the executive branch to inform terrorists by certified mail that their phones were tapped, and began efforts to revive the draft. As Speaker Pelosi put it, "This is not about this war. This is about setting the stage for the racial and class-based rhetoric that will automatically undermine the attempts to fight the next war. Wait a minute, is this mike on? Oh, crap."
The bird flu killed millions — of birds.
Rumors of presidential irrelevance were put to rest when President Bush appeared in Punxsutawney, Pa., and saw his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of Keith Olbermann monologues.
Fidel Castro died and lay in state for 48 hours while Cubans filed past to pay their respects in the traditional manner. Experts estimated that 24,302 liters of spittle were expelled. Brother Raul declared a "National Day of Mourning and Mopping Up."
North Korea tested a nuclear bomb attached to a medium-range missile; it was headed towards a U.S. carrier group before it was destroyed. The United States subsequently tested several nuclear missiles on North Korean soil. The tests were successful.
Iraq remained a mixed bag. The Kurdish parts were peaceful and prosperous, and hence unreported upon. Evidence of Syrian and Iranian complicity in Iraqi violence continued to accumulate, forcing James Baker to suggest it may be necessary to invade Israel and give Syria the Golan Heights by force. The Bush doctrine, meanwhile, was quietly amended: You're Either With Us Or Against Us. Whatever: It's All Good.
Terror plots in London continued to be unearthed daily. The Labor government, seeking to defuse the more immediate threat of Islamophobia, forbade anti-terrorist squad members from wearing a cross during raids and required all policemen to remove their shoes before raiding mosques.
Vladimir Putin prepared for his eventual retirement in 2008 by forcing the Russian Parliament to create a position called "Czar," which he described as "purely ceremonial." Critics of his imperial ambitions and corrupt, gangster-style government were not reassured by the theft of Lenin's body, which turned up on eBay, was then stolen from the winning bidder and was finally discovered in a London alley. Poisoned.
American politics were in that blessed period between elections, but jockeying continued for the presidential spot in both parties. Hillary Clinton made a masterful move to the center by coming out against gay marriage for stem cells; Barack Obama continued to run on a platform of being Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney continued to remind people of his impressive chin. Rudy Guiliani rolled out a new campaign slogan: "Why? Because I'll Nuke Them Old-School Style if I Have To, and You Know It," while John McCain's team came up with a GOP base-tested slogan, "Suck It Up, Haters! It's Him or the Witch."
In Iran, President Ahmadinejad said, "I have signed legislation outlawing Israel, Britain and the United States. The bombing begins in 18 minutes!"
Commentators observed that he was obviously channeling a Reagan joke made when the mike was off and noted the difficulties Gorbachev faced in his bid to bring about world peace. The bombing actually did begin 18 minutes later, leading to renewed calls for stiff U.N. sanctions on toner cartridges, a move that would severely crimp Iran's ability to make copies of its instructions to its regional operatives.
Something happened somewhere in Africa, but no one was quite sure. It was pretty bad though.
Nothing happened in China, as far as we could tell. Isn't that peculiar? One billion-plus people, and nothing seems to happen. It's like they're just waiting. For what? Who knows.
Blogging will continue to be light today. Not just because we are both down sick with this bloody cold, but because our sides hurt so much from laughing at this hilarious column.
Triumphant Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies marched into Mogadishu on Thursday after Islamist rivals abandoned the war-scarred city they held for six months. The flight of the Islamists was a dramatic turn-around in the volatile Horn of Africa nation after they took Mogadishu in June and spread across the south imposing sharia rule. Terrified of yet more violence in a city that has become a byword for chaos, some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid.
"People are cheering as they wave flowers to the troops," said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding scores of government military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University west of the city center. Parts of Mogadishu shook with the sound of gunfire and there were outbreaks of looting after leaders of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fled its base early in the morning. Some fighters ditched their uniforms to avoid reprisals.
"We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes," one former SICC fighter told Reuters. "Most of our leaders have fled."
The fall of Mogadishu came about 10 days after the Islamists sought to march on the government base of Baidoa. That prompted Ethiopia to come openly into the war, proving the decisive factor in saving the government and pushing back the Islamists. ...
... He [Abdirahman Dinari] said the Islamists had fled to the southern port city of Kismayu and the administration controlled 95 percent of the Horn of Africa country.
Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi flew to a town near the capital on Thursday afternoon.
The government declared a state of emergency "to control security and stability."
SICC leader Ahmed said his side's hasty withdrawal was a tactical move. Many had predicted the Islamists would wage a guerrilla war if dealt a resounding blow in the first round of war.
This morning, Thomas highlighted the story about troops preparing to push into Mogadishu,. and he appropriately warned about the guerilla warfare that might ensue. Now that has yet to happen, but I am afraid I have to side with him on this. There is no way the Islamofascist regime simply gave up, and moved on. They are still in Somalia; they just lack control ofg the country. Wait until their reinforcements show up, and we will see if they are willing to go head-to-head with the forces that drove them from Mogadishu in the first place.
This is the newest chance to restore a stable, legitimate government--the 14th such try since the ouster of a dictator in 1991, according to Reuters--and hopefully this time it will stick.
Moqtada al-Sadr is a problem for us and the Iraqis, and we have been trying to tell the government there this blatant fact. However al-Maliki has been doing his best to shield the militant cleric. Today, the WaPo reports that we are done playing games with the man who refuses to disarm his militia:
A top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf, sparking protests from Sadr's followers and complicating an already tense relationship with the powerful anti-American leader. Hurling rocks and shouting expletives, thousands of angry Sadr loyalists marched through the streets of Najaf after Sahib al-Amiri was shot and killed by a U.S. soldier during an early morning raid. "Agents and stooges!" protesters shouted at Iraqi soldiers and local authorities.
U.S. military officials declined to confirm that Amiri was a Sadr aide, saying only that he had provided explosives for use against Iraqi and U.S. forces. Sadr officials said Amiri was an aide and a lawyer who ran an educational organization that helped orphans and impoverished children. They said he had no connections to illegal activity. In a statement, the U.S. military said Iraqi and U.S. forces were trying to detain Amiri and shot him only when he pointed an assault rifle at an Iraqi soldier.
The incident comes at a delicate time for the Iraqi political process. Sadr, who runs one of the country's most feared militias, is also a potent political force: His allies control 30 seats in parliament and four key ministries. Last month, influential politicians linked with Sadr suspended their participation in the government to protest a meeting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and President Bush in Jordan. Unable to pass legislation without Sadr's support, and fearing Iraq's government could collapse, other Shiite leaders have been appealing for an end to the boycott. We are done playing the games that al-Maliki wants us tpo play. An opportunity presented itself, and we wasted no time in taking it. And in doing so, a clear, concise message was sent to not only al-Sadr, but to al-Maliki: If you will not deal with him, we will. Now the US commanders have stated that their goal in dealing with Amiri was detainment and questioning. They were not looking to kill him, however they were not going to let him shoot at them. The commanders, when asked, stated that Amiri had an assault rifle that he raised int he direction of our troops. Sorry, al-Maliki, but our boys are not going to wait to be fired at. The guy was connected to al-Sadr, and we were not taking any chances.
For the longest time, we have trusted al-Maliki to rein in al-Sadr, and keep him under wraps. Unfortunately he has failed time and again in that respect. So, the bigger message sent to al-Maliki is we are done with him trying to protect al-Sadr. He is already facing severe opposition by the Iraqi parliament, which tried to remove him not too long ago. That bid failed, but I doubt the Parliament will fail if a second attempt is made. Al-Maliki is showing, on a consistent basis, that his heart does not lie with a unified Iraq, but rather with a Shi'ite-dominated one. That should give our commanders on the ground a moment of pause based solely on the sort of shi'a fundamentalism that al-Maliki is supporting in al-Sadr--the same sort that resides in Iran.
Hopefully this sends a clear message to al-Sadr that his days are numbered in Iraq. This was a joint operation conducted by US and Iraqi forces. So it is clear that some people do see him for the threat that he is. And if he is not careful, we may be coming for him soon, and not even al-Maliki will be able to protect him.
Hizbullah is paying Palestinian splinter groups "thousands of dollars" for each Kassam rocket fired at the western Negev, The Jerusalem Post has learned. According to Israeli intelligence information, Hizbullah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and paying "a number of unknown local splinter groups" for each attack.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources said the Islamist organization paid several thousand dollars for each attack, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded.
"We know that Hizbullah is involved in funding terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," a security official said.
"Palestinian terrorists get thousands of dollars per attack. Sometimes they are paid before the attack and sometimes they submit a bill to Lebanon afterward and the money gets transferred a short while later."
According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks - including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot - several splinter terrorists groups are also involved and have received direct funding from Hizbullah.According to security officials, Islamic Jihad gets the money via its headquarters in Damascus while Fatah's Tanzim terror group and the Popular Resistance Committees receive payment from Hizbullah in Lebanon.
All of the money originated in Iran, the officials said.
Government officials said Hamas was not currently involved in firing missiles, but was doing nothing to stop those who were.
If this story does not prove the point that Iran cannot be trusted, then I am afraid I do not know what will. Iran is directly involved in Assad's push to topple the Lebanese government. Iran has sent terror troops, weapons, munitions, and supplies tothe terrorists in Iraq. And now we learn that they are neck deep in the continuing violence in Israel. But, this should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching events unfold surrounding Iran in the past several months. And, of course, this goes hand-in-hand with their promise to remove Israel right off of the map.
Olmert, for his part, I think is struggling right now. I have no faith in his leadership as he refuses to take the gloves off of the IDF, and let them deal with the terror groups directly. Now, whether that is because he is afraid of the possible civilian casualties, or because he is inept and has no clue how to run military operations, I do not know. What I do know is that his approval to target only the Kassam sites is not a wise move. It would be best if he simply allowed the military to do its job. And should any allied nation with Israel voice its concerns, do not pick up the phone.
If al-Qaeda came to the United States, and initiated attacks like what the Israelis have to deal with daily out of Gaza, you can bet that we would go after them, and any nation who condemned us for it would either be told which round file their complaint belonged in, or in more blunt terms, they would be told to stick their complaint where the sun does not shine. Israel should do precisely the same thing. War is Hell, as General Sherman observed, and sometimes there are casualties. But the benefits that arise from the ashes of war, simply put, is that your enemy should be destroyed; or at least his capacity to fight.
If Olmert is unwilling to let his soldiers loose to do their jobs, then it is time that Olmert is removed. Furthermore, Iran must be dealt with. They are doing everything they can in the region to destablize neighboring nations, and the world continues to yawn at this. The UN's idea of sanctions on Iran is laughable; they will be subcerted by the two nations that did not want sanctions in the first place.
It is clearly evident to me that the Palestinians do not want peace. They want Israel gone, replaced by a new "Palestine," and the Jews eradicated. With such a mindset, how can anyone expect peace to flourish there? And as long as Iran continues to stick it's nose into the affairs of other nations, how can those nations be expected to survive. After all, Iran is not helping anyone but themselves, and their supporters in those other nations. Peace is the last thing on Ahmadinejad's mind.
It's tiring when we have to continue teaching this lesson, but eventually, the monkeys in the MSM will get this. On 20 December, Joseph Rago penned a particularly scathing indictment of blogs and bloggers. Now, the MSM has had a fixation on coming after the blogosphere as a whole since we took down their "saint," Dan Rather. But Mr. rago doesn't seem to comprehend the worth of the blogs when it comes to the media. In fact, he states, in part, that we're overinflating ourselves:
The blogs are not as significant as their self-endeared curators would like to think. Journalism requires journalists, who are at least fitfully confronting the digital age. The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps. More success is met in purveying opinion and comment. Some critics reproach the blogs for the coarsening and increasing volatility of political life. Blogs, they say, tend to disinhibit. Maybe so. But politics weren't much rarefied when Andrew Jackson was president, either. The larger problem with blogs, it seems to me, is quality. Most of them are pretty awful. Many, even some with large followings, are downright appalling.
We "ride along" with the dead tree industry? If we were to ride along, as he states, then we would be sharing the mantra and the same shameless ignorance of facts that the media has perpetuated in recent years. It was bloggers that caught Dan Rather peddling phony memos to the public in a 60 Minutes II expose against a sitting president. It was bloggers that caught Eason Jordan making up lies about the alleged abust journalists were suffering at the hands of our troops. It was bloggers that led the charge against John Kerry and his lies that he continued to push about his military record during Vietnam, which was the focal point of his 2004 campaign. Bloggers uncovered the "fauxtography" of Reuters during the Israeli/Hezbollah war. And bloggers have called the AP on the carpet recently over whether or not Jamil Hussein exists in Iraq, and whether or not he is truly an Iraqi police officer. Where was the media in reporting these stories? Oh, that is right; they were not there. They refused to report these stories for whatever feeble excuse they could find.
As for the quality of blogs, we can only speak the truth of those that we read consistently and daily. Hugh Hewitt, Captain Ed @ Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, Professor Glenn Reynolds @ InstaPundit, Charles Johnson @ Little Green Footballs, Hot Air, and Pajamas Media are the big guns iun the center-right blogosphere. They are the best of the best, and show it each and every day they post. We have run across smaller sites, like those from the 101st Fighting Keebees that are good, and near the par set by the elites. But let us face hard facts. There are ovger fifty million blogs on the Internet. Not every one of them will be stellar and astounding. But those blogs out there do their best to do the job they believe is their niche. For example, Thomas, Sabrina, and myself all do our best everyday to bring news to our readers, and provide thoughtful commentary. If Mr. Rago has a problem with that, then it is perhaps the writing style he dislikes as opposed to the blogger.
The way we write affects both style and substance. The loquacious formulations of late Henry James, for instance, owe in part to his arthritis, which made longhand impossible, and instead he dictated his writing to a secretary. In this aspect, journalism as practiced via blog appears to be a change for the worse. That is, the inferiority of the medium is rooted in its new, distinctive literary form. Its closest analogue might be the (poorly kept) diary or commonplace book, or the note scrawled to oneself on the back of an envelope--though these things are not meant for public consumption. The reason for a blog's being is: Here's my opinion, right now. The right now is partially a function of technology, which makes instantaneity possible, and also a function of a culture that valorizes the up-to-the-minute above all else. But there is no inherent virtue to instantaneity. Traditional daily reporting--the news--already rushes ahead at a pretty good clip, breakneck even, and suffers for it. On the Internet all this is accelerated.
My turn. First off, we have a rule at the Asylum, and on our new site (the link will be available shortly): Always professional, Never personal. We take the news we have, as up-to-date as it can be, and not only relay that information, but offer our thoughts on it. The thoughts will not change because they're based on our ideology. Our ideology is what drove us to begin blogging in the first place because we could clearly see the bias in the media. The difference between the media and blogs is that they refuse to admit that there is a bias in their reporting, and we openly admit it. ANY visitor to The Asylum knows they're coming to a center-right site. There is a distinctive conservative side to our ANALYSIS, but it's not there in our reporting. The reporting, literally, comes from the media. We cite a portion, or all, of the story, and let the reader see where our complaints are. There's no argument that we're taking anything out of context because you can clearly read it in it's context--the exact and precise manner in which it was reported.
And I take issue with the idea that he perpetuates that news moves at a "breakneck" pace. Dan Rather made his phony report, and withing HOURS of that report, his piece was debunked by a team of experts that had worked on those sorts of typewriters. By the next morning, Hugh Hewitt was lining up typewriter experts for his afternoon show to "testify" about what they knew. Where was the media? Asleep at the switch, or circling the wagons to protect a colleague. Is that what he calls reporting? Where was the media demanding an explanation and proof of Eason Jordan's unfounded allegations? Where was the media in asking Reuters why they were doctoring photos to show more devestation in Lebanon during the Hezbollah/Israeli affair earlier this year. They were, much like the moderate Muslims after a terrorist attack, noticeably absent. The one complaint that many bloggers have regarding the media is that they don't fact-check enough, and it has become painfully obvious in recent years that this is a true statement.
The blogs must be timely if they are to influence politics. This element--here's my opinion--is necessarily modified and partly determined by the right now. Instant response, with not even a day of delay, impairs rigor. It is also a coagulant for orthodoxies. We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought--instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition. The participatory Internet, in combination with the hyperlink, which allows sites to interrelate, appears to encourage mobs and mob behavior. This cross-referential and interactive arrangement, in theory, should allow for some resolution to divisive issues, with the market sorting out the vagaries of individual analysis. Not in practice. The Internet is very good at connecting and isolating people who are in agreement, not so good at engaging those who aren't. The petty interpolitical feuding mainly points out that someone is a liar or an idiot or both.
We do not institute panics or manias. A swarm develops on the heels of a story that bloggers all take notice about, such as the Eason Jordan incident. Eason Jordan sat at the Davos Conference in Switzerland and literally indicted our troops in a war crime. No proof was presented then, or after the fact. And he did not come out and state that he misspoke. His silence was deafening on the issue; basically a "shut up and deal" sort of response to the bloggers who immediately demanded answers. The swarm grew from a few into a full on attack. Put up or shut up, was our response to his allegations. There was no panic involved. The argument was reasoned, and shared by the majority of bloggers demanding answers. We wanted to see his proof. We did not think he was an idiot for making the comment. We wanted his proof. When none was forthcoming, the pressure intensified to the point where CNN was left with no alternative but to cut him loose. They could not have a loose cannon like him working for them. His statement was a detriment to their network because the readers of those sites were levying pressure on them.
As for his insinuation that we refer to people who do not agree with our opinions as idiots, that is completely untrue. Thomas and I are in chat rooms on a daily basis dealing with people who disagree with us, and vice versa. They are not idiots. We disagree, and we debate the issues. The "idiots" that he may believe are out there are those who engage in partisan rhetoric, and vitriolic, personal attacks. But those we disagree with we hold no personal grudge against. For example, our editor Thomas Lindaman is a libertarian, by his own definition. We do not always see eye-to-eye on an issue. However, he respects our opinions, and never puts us down for them. Likewise, he recognizes the talent that comes along with our work. Otherwise, we would not be writing for him. Personal attacks, as Thomas pointed out above, are not welcome here. Now, the odd slam we occasionally put up (referring to someone as a "nutter," a fool, or an imbecile) is not meant to be a personal attack. We do not mean it that way. WE are simply stating our opinion at that moment regarding their argument. William F. Buckley is equally brilliant as he is foolish at times, but we still have a healthy dose of respect for the man.
Because political blogs are predictable, they are excruciatingly boring. More acutely, they promote intellectual disingenuousness, with every constituency hostage to its assumptions and the party line. Thus the right-leaning blogs exhaustively pursue second-order distractions--John Kerry always providing useful material--while leaving underexamined more fundamental issues, say, Iraq. Conservatives have long taken it as self-evident that the press unfavorably distorts the war, which may be the case; but today that country is a vastation, and the unified field theory of media bias has not been altered one jot.
The "party line" argument that Mr. Rago presents here doesn't hold water. Yes, there are favorite "beating posts" that the center-right enjoy (It's not like we're forcing John Kerry to make a fool of himself), and the idea that we aren't critical of certain issues is positively preposterous. Hugh Hewitt was joined by a chorus of blogs hammering away at the Senate over judicial nomineesa. Michelle Malkin ahas a veritable cadre of blogs that are on her side when it comes to the issue of immigration. And the list of center-right blogs that have been critical of the strategy in Iraq is longer than we have room for in this post. WE are intellectually honest in our arguments, which sets us apart fromt he media on another level. We're willing to question the president and the administration when things don't seem right. We have no problem with that. On the flip side, the Left attacks us for the same reasons that Mr. Rago has outlined here, and they stand in lock-step loyalty to their party. If there is any disingenuousness in the blogosphere, it is profoundly on the Left side.
The simple fact of the matter is thatMr. Rago has failed to grasp the idea of the blogs. I would suggest a couple of books so he might bone up on the subject, and understand it better. Blog by Hugh Hewitt is an essential book for the new blogger who wants to understand the 'sphere, how it works, and what people expect from a blog (and no, it does not have to be a poli-blog). Additionally, Professor Reynold's work, An Army of Davids, takes us beyond the blogs, and shows how the blogs started a technological revolution that is devestating the status quo establishment.
Instead of taking dirty swipes using fifty-cent words that the average reader couldn't comprehend, Mr. Rago should have taken a closer look at the conglomerate he decided to indict. They are, after all, having a significant impact on the world. We have broken more "scandals" than I can count, and have shown the media that there is a new sheriff in town. It's the people, and we do weild the power around here. If he doubts that, he might want to take a close look at the MSM ratings on TV, and the circulation numbers for what my beautiful wife terms as the "dead-tree industry." They're dying a slow, painful death right now. In the end, we may not be the ones who deal the death blow, but we've driven enough stakes into their hear tthat they're little more than the punchline to a very bad joke. It shows, and that's where we opened up some eyes. We're a legitimate group of people, and we're anything but amateurs. Every one of the bloggers we listed here are working professionals that are experts in their own right. Likewise, the trio here aren't slouches. We have our expertise in areas that I'm sure Mr. rago only dreams of. But, then again, what can you expect out of a twenty-three year old kid who thinks he has it all figured out?
First, it was Frank Stanton who served as the president of CBS. That was the 24th. Then, it was the "Godfather of Soul" himself, James Brown. This evening, it was the man who took over for President Richard Milhouse Nixon after Watergate, Gerald Ford who had many a recent problems with his health. We knew he was not long for this world, but we had no idea that he would go before the end of this year.
Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon's scandal- shattered White House as the 38th and only unelected president in America's history, has died, former first lady Betty Ford said Tuesday. He was 93. "My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Mrs. Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country." The statement did not say where or when Ford died or list a cause of death. Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments _ including an angioplasty _ in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
He was the longest living president, followed by Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93. Ford had been living at his desert home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 130 miles east of Los Angeles.
From Michelle's site:
A CNN commentator says President Ford will be buried at the Ford library and museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan after funeral/memorial services in California, D.C., and lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda. It will most definitely not have the pomp and circumstance that President Reagan received after his death, but it is no less important to note that as of this moment, we have only four surviving presidents left alive. Those would be Presidents Carter, Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43). It is especially sad to see President Ford go with all the health problems he had. Once he left office, he stayed out of the press's limelight, and with due reason. They savaged him for his pardon of Richard Nixon.
We, at the Asylum, salute President Ford for doing his best after the resignation of President Nixon, and for his poise, professionalism, and respect for the presidents that succeeded him. It has always been speculated that Ford was not happy that President Reagan did not choose him as a running mate during his run at the presidency, and there was always bitterness between the two. I, personally, do not buy that, and President Reagan said as much in his autobiography. There was no animosity between these two people; there was mutal respect.
President Ford was a class-act, and God rest his soul. God-speed, President Ford, on your journay to be in God's light and arms. Rest in peace, finally.
In at least 17 criminal cases, federal district judges nominated to the federal bench by presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush have ruled against requests to force the government to tell defendants, most accused of terrorism-related crimes, whether the NSA eavesdropped on them without a court warrant. The rulings indicate that even as public support for the war in Iraq has eroded in polls and as the NSA program has come under criticism from congressional Democrats, and even some Republicans, federal judges may be a bulwark that the Bush administration can rely on to defer to at least some aspects of its wartime policies. The judges' decisions have come after defense attorneys filed motions requesting access to relevant surveillance intercepts that the government obtained without a warrant. Defense attorneys claim they are entitled to such information and that evidence obtained from warrantless wiretaps is tainted and inadmissible at trial. In many, but not all instances, the motions were filed after a conviction.
Individually, the judges' orders, often very brief and rarely providing explanations, indicate little. Taken together, however, they signal that the judges are unwilling to permit defense attorneys to use prosecutions to force disclosures about the program.
The legality of the NSA program is being litigated in several civil lawsuits across the country. In one case, a district judge in Detroit, Anna Diggs Taylor, ruled in August that the program was unconstitutional, a decision that the government has appealed. Legal observers dispute whether even a ruling by the Supreme Court that the program is unconstitutional would lead to the overturning of criminal convictions in which the program played a role in securing evidence or targeting the defendants.
This story comes courtesy of Captain's Quarters. It's impact, however, isn't being felt by as many people as it should. In only one case did the NSA program not stand up to jurisprudential muster. And that would be the case where Jdueg Diggs-Taylor injected her own, personal beliefs into the case, rather than weighing it on the merits of the law. It's quote obvious in that case--as the kids covered it--that she had her own activist axe to grind. Her decision, however, was immediately stayed by the Sixth Circuit Court, pending a review and likely reversal.
The NSA program has been upheld by the courts in a clear refusal of the courts to challenge the authority of the president. And for all the liberals out there, no it's not fear. It's respect for the powers of the president when it comes to matters of national secuirty. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the United States, and the NSA is connected to the military in a de facto state; they do provide military intelligence information, and have always been headed up by a military officer. Their power falls squarely withint he confines of the executive branch of government.
And it's working like a well-oiled machine. This program has helped in the capture of more than one sleeper cell, and in countries other than our own. the NSA program helped break up the Canadian terror plot, and the plot from England, affectionately dubbed Operation: Bojinka II by the blogosphere. To say that this program wasn't effectiuve is a lie. To say that this violates the rights of citizens is a lie.
Should a US citizen be suspected of collaboration in a terror plot, the government must still take steps to protect thie rrights. That means going before the FISA court to obtain a warrant. There are provisions within the Patriot Act that allow them to bypass that for a short time only; as US citiznes, we still have rights. BUT for those not citizens--whether here illegally, on student or work visas, or even travel visas--there are not such protections, and they are open to being surveilled. Again, there are "hoops" we have to jump through, such a probable cause, but they don't have the protections against such surveillance like we do.
The outrage over Judge Diggs-Taylor's outlandish decision swept through the media--both new and old--like a wildfire, and it had it's share of critics on both sides of the aisle. Cass Sunstein, noted law professor from the University of Chicago, stated on the record in an interview with Hugh Hewitt that in the scope of power, the poresident was well within his jurisdiction to enact the program, and added that it was quite legal. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Sunstein, he has written over thirty different legal textbooks, and is considered "the go-to guy" when it comes to Constitutional Law. If anyone would know, he would, and he is correct in ways that make liberals seethe.
But the coverage of the ONE case that the NSA program failed to meet ONE judge's standards received a hundred time more press than the seventeen other rulings upholding it. That is quite telling from our point-of-view. And it shows the abhorant bias of the media.
Before the new Congress changes hands, before Nancy Pelosi is even officially named the Speaker of the House, the Democrats are already linig up their wish lists. And on the issue of immigration, it seems that they are, once again, ignoring the will of the people:
Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring. The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.
The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support. Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats. The immigration reform bill was the ONLY thing the GOP Congress managed to get right, and even then it took a lot of howling from the public. And now the Democrats have decided to buck the voice of the people, and move towards a virtual amnesty for illegal aliens in the United States. It is appalling and outrageous that they would pull such a stunt.
In addition, the border fence was the cornerstone of the legislation. A move towards enforcing border security, and making it more difficult for illegals to enter the United States. Apparently, the Democrats believe differently. So, get up off of your butts, and call these clowns. Let them know you DO NOT approve of this idea, and serve them a reminder that this is not going to look good in 2008 when the House goes back up for reelection, again.
Nancy Pelosi is either just simply this stupid, or she is the most inept and obtuse representative to serve in the House since Tip O'Neil. The benefit Tip had over her was he was not as stupid as she is. Again, her ignorance shows through, and moves like this will not only lead to her downfall, but it could very well spell a removal of her party from power for an extended duration. This is not a smart move, and I am urging our readers to make their voices be heard, again.
Remind incoming Speaker Pelosi that this is the United States. It is a sovereign nation with laws. Illegal aliens are directly violating our laws, as are those who employ them, and they continue to thumb their noses at us. This cannot stand, and should not stand. We must gain control of our borders for security matters, and the first step in that is tougher enforcement, and the fence. Without them, and the Democrats clearly could care less about that, this nation will remain to be vulnerable.
Call your representatives at 202-225-3121. Let them know you are not happy, and you want that bill adhered to.