Weekend links…and video (Happy 4th!)

June 30, 2006 at 9:44 pm

I’ll be on vacation for the next 3-4 days with limited to no internet access so posting will be sporadic at best.

Lot’s of links for the long weekend:

  • Contrarian thoughts on Hillary, flag-burning, the Times and “The View.”
  • NRO changing tune on GOP majority?
  • Superman: Screw you Mr. President
  • I am flattered!
  • Festival of blog bits
  • The next Passion of the Christ? (video)
  • If there were a “geekiest state in America”, this would be it
  • Congress in danger of failing
  • iPod slang?
  • This is the best Bin Laden can do?
  • Some of my best friends are journalists
  • Senate GOP preparing to give Bush a black eye
  • Top 10 beer cities in America (DC makes the list)
  • Alito’s impact
  • Great news for the GOP?


Is there a silver lining in the Hamdan decision?

June 30, 2006 at 3:49 pm

Media outlets last night reporting the Supreme Court Hamdan decision portrayed it as a defeat for conservatives. But might this surface story be only that?…a surface story.

The American Spectator’s David Hogberg explains how this SCOTUS decision will actually benefit conservatives and potentially the GWOT.

Ted Stevens strikes again

June 30, 2006 at 11:40 am

Seriously, this man could find an earmark for anything. Today, Congressional Quarterly ($) reports:

Republican Ted Stevens is looking out for Alaska’s salmon industry — and for babies everywhere.

For the third year in a row, Alaska’s senior senator has set aside money in the fiscal 2007 Agriculture spending bill (HR 5384) for development of baby food made from salmon. The $450,000 earmark in the Appropriations Committee’s report gives direction regarding part of a $1 million line item for “alternative salmon product research.”

…“Given its overwhelming nutritional value for children, Sen. Stevens believes finding ways to incorporate omega-3 into baby food and formula is a project worthy of attention and the [Agriculture Department] agrees,” said Lindsay Hayes, the senator’s spokeswoman.

And I am sure the Alaskan Fisheries think it’s a good idea as well. After all, it’s much easier to turn a profit with a good hefty injection of taxpayer dollars.

Sadly this is not a surprise. This powerful Senator does things like this on a regular basis.

Obama talks faith, ticks off netroots

June 30, 2006 at 11:15 am

By talking about faith in the public square and the Democratic Party’s discomfort and sometimes outright hostility towards it Democratic Senator Barack Obama is the target of the liberal netroots ire. This Howard Kurtz column covers the happenings:

Barack Obama, after leading a charmed political existence, has suddenly become controversial.

The Illinois senator gave a speech at a Washington church the other day in which he talked about the importance of religion in the public square and how Democrats should not be seen as hostile to organized religion. He also talked about the importance of Christ in his life.

Suddenly, the party’s golden boy, talked up as part of the 2008 ticket despite having been in the Senate for only about an hour and a half, is losing a bit of his luster.

Kurtz goes on to quote lefty bloggers and their negative reactions to Obama. The narrative essentially is, “we are not hostile to people of faith! Now that Obama has said this people are going to think we are!”

It’s silly…it really is. If the netroots can’t understand that their chosen party has a serious issue with people of faith then they are blind to political reality. When was the last time the Democratic Party carried a significant chunk of the evangelical vote?

Senate takes up a bad bill

June 30, 2006 at 9:48 am

This morning the Washington Post reports that Senate leaders have struck a deal and will move ahead with a vote on stem cell research legislation that allows federal funding for embryo-destroying stem cell research. No doubt, the votes exist in the Senate to pass this legislation by a considerable margin and it enjoys the support of both Harry Reid and Bill Frist. Frist says a vote will likely take place in July.

This is a terrible, terrible idea. President Bush has made his intention to veto any such legislation crystal clear:

“The president does not believe we are forced to choose between science and ethics,” said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius, adding that the legislation “crosses an important moral line.” The president, he said, “would veto legislation that crosses this moral line.”

So why schedule a vote? You know the President is going to veto it and you know the House does not have the votes to override the veto.

Some Republicans in the Senate who are vehemently against this kind of stem cell research have tacitly allowed the agreement to go forward because it mandates a 3 construct piece of legislation.

The Senate package, announced by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and quickly agreed to by Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), has three components. At its core is H.R. 810, the House-passed bill, which would allow fertility clinic patients to donate their spare embryos to federally financed researchers.

Also included are two bills sought by conservatives, which stem cell research proponents have said they can support. One, sponsored by Pennsylvania GOP Sens. Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter, encourages the National Institutes of Health to finance work that might someday allow scientists to produce cells equivalent to embryonic stem cells without destroying embryos.

The other, sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and known as the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, would make it a crime for anyone to trade in tissues from fetuses that were conceived and aborted expressly for research purposes.

OK, it’s nice that these two pieces of legislation are tacked on. But those two items are so uncontroversial that the Senate could pass them stand alone. Are pro-lifers in the Senate really getting anything by packaging this vehemently anti-pro-life bill with two non-controversial pro-life bills? I think not.

But more important, pro-lifers in general need to think about the ramifications of passing this bill in the Senate.

Do people really think that passing this three bill construct will be a win for the life issue? Or even a wash? No, it will be a loss because the only story that the media will carry will be about the President exercising his FIRST EVER VETO. And what was his first ever veto used on? A politically popular stem cell research bill. The media will carry the Democratic arguments accusing the President of being heartless and not caring about people with diseases like diabates and alzheimers.

It will also be a loss because the debate surrounding this issue is inherently difficult for pro-lifers to make. Pro-lifers believe life begins at conception, and the winning of that argument depends in large part on the ability to persuade people as to the humanity of the unborn child. When the Senate debated partial birth abortion, it was a resounding success for pro-lifers because it was so obvious to the observer that the disgusting practice was violating a human form complete with all the physical characteristics needed to distinguish a person. Now, the stem cell research bill shifts that debate to being about life in its most nascent cellular form. The latter debate is not as instructive as the former.

Finally, the scheduling of this vote will split the Republican caucus in the Senate: pitting some ardently pro-life conservatives against their leadership.

Republicans in the Senate who are so eager to schedule this vote need to rethink what they are doing. They are setting their President, and therefore themselves, up for a political disaster and sadly, they don’t seem to care.

227-183

June 30, 2006 at 8:17 am

The House of Representatives last night approved a resolution condemning the leaking and publication of classified anti-terrorsim programs like the terrorist financial tracking program SWIFT. Only seventeen Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure…seventeen.

The Washington Post:

The GOP-crafted resolution, approved 227 to 183, also condemned the unidentified sources who leaked information of the program. It said the House “expects the cooperation of all news media organizations” in protecting the government’s capability “to identify, disrupt, and capture terrorists.”

The House vote was the latest volley in a Republican campaign accusing the New York Times and other news outlets of endangering national security by disclosing classified programs, including the warrantless surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and the collection of phone data from U.S. residences and businesses.

The culprit’s take:

Lawmakers expressed their sentiment through a resolution that was approved on a largely party-line 227-to-183 vote after days of harsh criticism by the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans aimed at The New York Times and other newspapers for publishing details of the program, which the government said was limited to following possible terrorist financial trails…

…Mr. Oxley and other Republicans said The Times deserved particular scorn as the first to make public the details of the administration’s effort to try to identify and apprehend terrorists by tracing financial transactions processed through an international cooperative called Swift. The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal published similar accounts soon after The Times. “If you are Al Qaeda, the appropriate response to this publication is, ‘Thank you,’ ” said Representative Spencer Bacchus, Republican of Alabama…

…The Republican-written resolution did not identify any publication by name. But many of the resolution’s backers said The Times had acted irresponsibly.

Representative David Dreier, Republican of California, said The Times had led other news outlets in deciding to publish classified material. He dismissed arguments that the disclosure served a public interest, saying the public would rather be safe from terrorists than “all-knowing” about antiterror efforts.

As noted previously, the coverage and debate are all focused on the NY Times…the more I pay attention to this the more I like the resolution.

Lott back in leadership?

June 29, 2006 at 7:29 pm

Could former Majority Leader Trent Lott work his way back into GOP Senate leadership? I think the chances are greater than many may think and there is no doubt he wants it.

The Hill reports:

The prospect of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) returning to leadership next year is creating more and more buzz on and off Capitol Hill, Republican insiders say.

The higher volume of talk has been fueled partly by his former aides who hold influential lobbying positions downtown, but prominent GOP insiders with no special allegiance to Lott say it extends well beyond his inner circle..

…Lott’s best chance of returning to leadership would arise if Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) loses his reelection race. Santorum is considered the favorite to succeed McConnell as assistant leader after Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) retires this year.

Lott has made clear to his friends that he supports Santorum’s bid for reelection and wouldn’t run for the Republican whip’s position while Santorum is fighting for his political life…

If perception is reality…

June 29, 2006 at 4:39 pm

…and in politics it most often is, then the worry that the House and Senate resolutions condemning publication of classified materials do not name the NY Times or the LA Times may be less serious.

Every media outlet that I have watched on cable news over the last 24 hours has portrayed the House and now Senate resolutions as responses to the NY Times‘ decision to publish the classified anti-terrorism SWIFT program. In print the many stories are along the same lines. Granted, some note the absences of the specific names, but most appear to be similar to this Reuters article:

Republicans intensified their criticism of news media over security issues on Thursday as the U.S. House of Representatives debated a resolution that condemns public disclosure of secret surveillance programs.

Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress said government employees who revealed details of a secret Treasury Department effort to monitor bank transfers to the New York Times and other news outlets had undermined national security.

The NY Times is on the first graf or two of most articles. I wanted to see the NY Times named in the resolution. But if the media understands the resolutions to be aimed squarely at the NY Times and any other outlets that may be as reckless, then the resolution serves a purpose. Read the first two grafs of John Cornyn’s resolution:

Condemning the unauthorized disclosure and publication of classified information about the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, and other vital counter-terrorism programs.

Whereas on June 22, 2006, news organizations publicly disclosed the existence of an ongoing, highly classified national security program to track terrorists’ financial transactions, known formally as the “Terrorist Finance Tracking Program”

I would be willing to wager that when Cornyn takes the floor to talk about his resolution, the debate turns to the NY Times and their irresponsible reporting. After all, his first two grafs here are all about the Times. Who are liberals who dislike the resolution going to be forced to defend? The NY Times…that’s who.

The resolutions appear to have tight enough language to cover all the bases: leaking and subsequent publishing by media outlets of classified info. Yes, it would be nice to see the culprits named. As I said, I would have preferred that. But I expect the culprits to be thoroughly named in the debate surrounding the resolutions. If even the MSM understand what this is about, then I feel pretty good about it.

The sausage factory that is Congress

June 29, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Yesterday Rep. Jack Kingston announced an innovative new way for his constituents to communicate with him through the blogosphere. Using Youtube.com Kingston fields video questions and then responds. The first question he fielded asked why he was voting against most of Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake’s anti-pork amendments. Kingston’s answer didn’t go over well with some conservatives.

The Club for Growth’s Andy Roth said that “Kingston’s answer is typical of the big-spending attitudes that pervade the Republican Party in Washington these days.” Dave Holman at the American Spectator Blog said Kingston’s answer was “a bumbling journey through the sausage making of the Appropriations Committee. It goes something like, well, I would like to oppose earmarks, but you see, Democrats like earmarks, and so do Republicans, and we need those guys to vote on budgets, so we’ve got to sweeten the deal a little.”

Kingston deserves credit for answering the question and certainly he knew it would not be satisfactory to everyone. The problem for conservatives on the outside looking in is that we see a Republican majority that is supposed to be about shrinking the size of government. That’s what Republicans say they came here to do. But in reality it all too often looks more like a Republican majority that cannot pass a single bill without buying some votes and therefore increasing — albeit by a small amount each time — the size of goverment. If Republicans are in the majority in the House — which, of course, they are — then why do you need to buy Democratic votes with projects?

To be fair, part of the answer is that Republicans, not conservatives, are in the majority.

UPDATE: Team Kingston responds to the criticism, pointing out among other things that Rep. Kingston voted for the Line Item Veto last week in the House. Read the post on Jack’s Blog. 

Housekeeping

June 29, 2006 at 2:07 pm

A lot of people have emailed me and told me my rss feed wasn’t working with the bloglines rss reader. The problem should be resolved now. Let me know if you are still having trouble.

Keller has standards

June 29, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Ny Times Editor Bill Keller does have some standards as to what he will and will not publish. As the Belmont Club points out, Keller refused to publish pictures picture of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. Michael Barone points out the incoherence of this reasoning:

So that’s the standard. Disclosing classified programs that help protect us against terrorists is just dandy. But publishing cartoons that would be “perceived as a particularly deliberate insult” by Muslims is beyond the pale. Coddling tender sensitivities is more important than protecting national security.

Of course, there’s another way to look at this. The New York Times is, evidently, not afraid that the government or its supporters—not even rabid talk radio listeners or right-wing blog readers—would wreak violence on 229 W. 43rd Street. But aggrieved Muslims—more accurately, Muslims purporting to be aggrieved—might. It’s nice that Keller feels a responsibility to protect his staff. It’s too bad he doesn’t feel a similar responsibility to protect his fellow citizens after they’ve had the effrontery to re-elect George W. Bush.

Cornyn introduces Senate resolution in response to NY Times

June 29, 2006 at 11:34 am

Texas Senator John Cornyn today introduced a Senate resolution condemning the leaking of and publication of classified anti-terrorism programs. Like the House resolution, Cornyn does not specifically name the NY Times or LA Times. The text of the resolution is below:

RESOLUTION

Condemning the unauthorized disclosure and publication of classified information about the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, and other vital counter-terrorism programs.

Whereas on June 22, 2006, news organizations publicly disclosed the existence of an ongoing, highly classified national security program to track terrorists’ financial transactions, known formally as the “Terrorist Finance Tracking Program”;

Whereas the President condemned the unauthorized leak and subsequent publication in the strongest possible terms, calling those acts “disgraceful” and explaining that public disclosure of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program “does great harm to the United States of America”;

Whereas the Secretary of the Treasury noted that this unauthorized leak of classified information and subsequent publication “undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails”;

Whereas similar to the leaks and public disclosure of the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, the disclosure of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program puts America’s terrorist enemies on notice of tactics used to hunt them down and makes defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult;

Whereas Administration officials and the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission (a Democrat and a Republican) urged news organizations to refrain from publicly disclosing the existence of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program because of the probable harm to America’s national security;

Whereas there have been no credible allegations of abuse or infringements on civil liberties in the execution of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program;

Whereas the 9/11 Commission in its Final Report concluded that “information about terrorist money helps us to understand their networks, search them, and disrupt their operations”;

Whereas the 9/11 Commission had given the Administration high marks in its pursuit of terrorist-finance networks, and recommended that “vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing must remain front and center in U.S. counter-terrorism efforts”; and

Whereas the United States must remain vigilant in its War on Terror:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That-

(1) the Senate joins the President in condemning the damaging leaks and subsequent publication of vital national security information about the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and theNational Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program; and

(2) it is the sense of the Senate that the Department of Justice should vigorously and tirelessly investigate and prosecute any and all persons responsible for the unauthorized disclosure to news organizations of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program, and other vital counter-terrorism programs.

Hewitt on NY Times

June 29, 2006 at 10:02 am

In what I think is his first ever (not positive on this) column on Townhall, Hugh Hewitt goes after the “Times Two”:

For the first time in American history, major media outlets have published classified information that they have been warned will directly assist our enemies. They did so having concluded –on a basis undisclosed to the public—that the dangers were either overstated or non-existent.There is no stopping such recklessness except by locating the oath-breaking criminals who betray secrets.

But there is no honor in endangering Americans, and no pose of world-weary knowledge will dress up scribblers as sages, or perfume their low deeds with any thing except the odor of spoiled goods.

UPDATE: It’s his second column of many more to come since the Salem-Townhall merger.

Blog impact

June 29, 2006 at 6:35 am

In my Townhall column today I write about the impact the blogosphere had pushing Congress to introduce a resolution condemning the publication of classified anti-terror programs.

I also cover Congress’s poor mid term grades and an emerging group within the Democratic caucus.

Read it here. 

Snow: White House will not call for NY Times investigation

June 29, 2006 at 6:28 am

Last night, on the O’Reilly Factor, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the Administration would not call for investigations into the NY Times publishing of classified information. More here.

Atlanta Journal Constitution under scrutiny

June 29, 2006 at 6:25 am

The Atlanta Journal Constitution published one of the most offensive political cartoons I have ever seen. Red State has the story.

Why?

June 28, 2006 at 9:06 pm

Why go to the trouble to author a resolution that is clearly intended to rebuke the NY Times for disclosing classified information about an anti-terrorist government program and then not name the NY Times?

What is the point?

Question: if the NY Times had not run the story in question last week would this resolution have been authored? No.

Was their a culprit or not? If the answer is yes…which it is, then why would you not lay blame where blame is due?

UPDATE: I have been watching the new all evening and repeatedly the media refers to this resolution as the “congressional resolution condemning the NY Times,” and of course, effectively it is. As mentioned above, where it not for the Times irresponsible reporting, this resolution would not exist. But why not just make it it explicit? You could still add a clause in the resolution that addressed the MSM in general.

I suppose, however, at this point, we will have to take what we can get.

UPDATE: I am inclined to agree with these sentiments:

The question before the Congress, the one on which the House –inexplicably, and to the shame of the GOP majority there, has apparently punted– is did the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times injure the war effort by assisting terrorists in avoiding capture?

All the rest is posturing.

The resolutions in both House and Senate are being brought forward because of the stories from Friday.

Not referencing the stories is clearly understood by observors to be an acknowledgment that these papers are privileged in a way soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are not: They get to make mistakes, and not be called to account.

If the House and Senate don’t call them to account, and with specificity, these papers and others will repeat their behaviors.

Sadly, when I say we are going to have to take what we can get, it does not mean I think the resolution is great. That comment is more of a reflection of a conservative who is used to being let down…it seems to happen too often these days. Congress is full of half measures and watered down PC resolutions. The fact that a resolution was even introduced at all has to, to some degree, be a good thing. It means GOP leadership is not completely deaf. But I worry that this resolution was introduced half-heartedly — with the intention of satiating a justly outraged base rather than honing in on the real issue at hand. Friends on the Hill tell me that I am wrong…that this is about going bigger than just the NY Times and LA Times.

UPDATE: Ok, after some thought, I am calming down about this one…

New nominees

June 28, 2006 at 7:25 pm

The White House has sent ten new judicial nominees to the hill today. Check out ConfirmThem for a thorough vetting process. The nominees are listed in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Kingston takes video questions

June 28, 2006 at 4:14 pm

Re. Jack Kingston is soliciting questions via youtube.com…innovative concept. Check it out here.

Senate conservatives rally around border security first proposal

June 28, 2006 at 3:58 pm

A group of Republican Senators today held a press conference on Capitol Hill to emphasize the importance of securing the border before any attempt at comprehensive immigration reform is addressed. Rick Santorum, a participant in today’s presser, released the following statement:

“Throughout the debate on immigration reform, I have consistently stated that the first thing we must do is secure our nation’s borders,” said Senator Santorum. “The Senate recently passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which I did not support for a number of reasons – mainly because it did not appropriately address the problem at hand. While the House and Senate are working to come to an agreement on the broader issues in the immigration bill, I introduced the Border Security First Act, S. 3564, because our borders must be secured now. In the post 9/11 world in which we live, our national security depends on our border security. We need to know who is coming into our country, where they are from, and what they are doing here. I urge my colleagues in both the House and Senate to move this bill so we can secure our borders while we work on the remaining issues related to illegal immigration.”

Other Senators attending today’s presser included Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), and David Vitter (R-LA)

John McCain a blogger?

June 28, 2006 at 2:26 pm

Arizona Senator John McCain today posts for the first time ever on a blog. Check it out over at Porkbusters.

GOP Senators look to move Boyle nomination

June 28, 2006 at 1:46 pm

North Carolina Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter on the hill in which they refute recent allegations against Fourth Circuit nominee Terrence Boyle. “[T]here is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Judge Boyle knowingly heard a case in which he had a conflict of interest, used his office for personal gain, or abused the trust of the people he was appointed to serve,” write the duo. The letter is a direct refutation of allegations that Judge Boyle, whose nomination has languished for over a year in the Senate, unethically participated in cases in which he had a financial interest.

Also of interest, is this letter from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter inviting Judge Boyle to respond to the allegations in writing.

What was lost: the terrorst finance tracking program

June 28, 2006 at 1:25 pm

NPR’s Morning Edition today interviewed a former Administration official about the SWIFT program outed by the NY Times. The official explains the value of the program and laments the public disclosure of this anti-terrorist tool.

Read the brief interview in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Pence meeting with Bush

June 28, 2006 at 11:17 am

Rep. Mike Pence’s press office says that Pence is at the White House right now presenting his immigration reform plan to the President and Vice President.

More on the Pence plan here.

Hillary snubbed

June 28, 2006 at 11:12 am

Drudge has the story:

The exceedingly intense rivalry between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) embroiled just about everybody in the Senate Democratic leadership Tuesday, including Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and his spokeswoman, ROLL CALL reports.

Apparently, Clinton and her staff felt snubbed when party leaders organized a news conference in which they vowed to block efforts to give Members of Congress a pay raise until Congress approves an increase in the minimum wage. Clinton has introduced legislation along those lines, but she was not involved in planning the leadership’s news conference to trumpet the issue.

ROLL CALL’s Mary Ann Akers: Although Clinton, a close adviser of Reid’s, was ultimately invited to attend the news conference, she was not told about the event until just hours before it began Tuesday.

While the noon event was hastily arranged — planning for it only began Monday night — a Clinton aide was apparently so furious that the Senator seemed to be left out of the loop that she bawled out (“reamed out” was how one source put it) a spokeswoman for Reid near the entrance to the Senate Radio-Television Gallery.

The Clinton aide, Laurie Rubiner, was overheard saying to Reid spokeswoman Rebecca Kirszner, “You suck” and “How could you do this?”

Dems lacking messenger

June 28, 2006 at 9:13 am

Roll Call ($) today runs a story about the Democrat’s message problem. Of note in the story:

A senior House Democratic aide said while the party could certainly use a powerful messenger, the bigger problem may be in the message itself, one this staffer suggested is simply rehash of the same old Democratic positions.

“You need something that Members and candidates want to talk about on the stump, not something that goes from fax machine to trash,” this aide said. “The [1994] ‘Contract with America’ made bold reform pronouncements … it was bold enough to attract media attention on its own. It was clear that the Republicans, in 1994, were offering something different.”

House resolution condemns NY Times

June 28, 2006 at 7:58 am

As expected and hoped for, GOP leadership in the House of Representatives today will do the right thing.

The Hill reports:

House Republican leaders are expected to introduce a resolution today condemning The New York Times for publishing a story last week that exposed government monitoring of banking records.

The resolution is expected to condemn the leak and publication of classified documents, said one Republican aide with knowledge of the impending legislation.

This is indeed a welcome development. GOP House leadership is showing that they are in tune with the American people. Paging Bill Frist…where is the Senate companion resolution?

UPDATE: Here is an AP story with this choice quote from Jack Kingston:

“Somebody clearly broke the law in leaking this to The New York Times. The New York Times in my opinion has simply acted irresponsibly,” Kingston, R-Ga., said.

UPDATE: The Senate this afternoon is slated to debate and vote on the Oman Free Trade Agreement. Is that really as pressing as dealing with the NT Times issue?

Senators to push for border security first

June 27, 2006 at 10:07 pm

From the Hill:

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and David Vitter (R.-La.) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, June 28, at 11 a.m. to discuss the immigration reform bill and the importance of the “border-security-first” approach.

House to offer NY Times condemnation resolution?

June 27, 2006 at 8:52 pm

According a Capitol Hill insider, House GOP leadership is preparing to offer a Sense of the House resolution to help clarify Congress’ position with regard to the leaking and subsequent publication of classified information during times of war. The resolution could be introduced as early as tomorrow morning in the House.

Details about the proposed resolution are murky. It is unclear if the resolution will specifically mention the NY Times or not. One hopes the resolution is blunt and to the point, condemning the publication of secret anti-terrorist programs especially during war time.

Let’s hope this insider information proves true. It would be a welcome development.

UPDATE 7:51 am Wed: My source is correct.

Who reads Daily Kos?

June 27, 2006 at 7:21 pm

Well, a lot of people do. But who are those people? And more importantly, do they really represent, as Kos and others in the “people powered movement” claim, a “broad cross section” of America?

A new survey gives us some insight into that claim.

Apparently Kos readers are older — 62 percent are above 45 while 34 percent are above 55. Kos readers are also affluent — 59 percent make over $75k a year. Also, the Kos readership is, not surprisingly, from Blue America, namely the east and west coast — 29 percent from the left coast with 17 percent hailing from the mid-atlantic coastal states.

Flag amendment fails

June 27, 2006 at 6:48 pm

As expected, the constitutional amendment to ban descration of the American flag failed today by one vote. The roll call tally is yet to be posted…should be up here soon.

UPDATE: Three Republicans voted against: Mitch McConnell, Lincoln Chafee and Bob Bennett. Multiple Democrats crossed the aisle to joing Republicans in voting for the amendment.

So…about that resolution

June 27, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Congress is plodding along with business as usual this week, apparently impervious to the legitimate outrage that exists over the NY Times decision to out the existence of a secret anti-terrorism financial tracking program. Hugh Hewitt asks the proper question; “where’s the outrage?”

If what the Times Two did was dangerous to the nation’s security –and everyone from the president down is saying that– then where’s the Congressional debate over this irresponsibility?

Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader Frist need to get a sense of their body’s resolution drafted, debated and voted on this week.

It is hard to take a Congress seriously that doesn’t react to such actions in a time of war.

I completely agree. Why the hesitation to debate such a resolution? Does Congress not have a voice on this issue? As the elected representatives of the American people you would think Congress might want to weigh in on the NY Times decision to endanger the lives of congressional constituents and damage the ability of our government to wage the war on terrorism. This does not seem to be something that you need to wait for polling on…

UPDATE: J.D. Hayworth is calling on Dennis Hastert to revoke the NY Times congressional press credentials. In a letter to the Speaker Hayworth writes:

Times Editor Bill Keller called the decision to reveal the existence of the terrorist tracking program a “hard call,” but went ahead and made it anyway. We disagree. It was not a “hard call” – it was the wrong call and the Times should be penalized for it.

Why not go a step further and ask the Speaker to introduce a sense of the House resolution?

UPDATE 8:20 am Wed: GOP House Leadership to introduce resolution

Congress doesn’t make the grade

June 27, 2006 at 4:54 pm

The Heritage Foundation today releases its mid-term grading of Congress on issues ranging from earmark reform and spending to Social Security Reform. Let’s just say, if I brought these grades home when I was in high school, I would be sitting at home on the weekends for a couple months.

The House had an overall GPA of 1.6 with a C- average while the Senate earned a 1.0 GPA and a D average. The report notes:

As the 109th Congress draws closer to its conclu­sion, there is growing disappointment among many Members and voters over how little has been accom­plished since the 109th convened in February 2005. Federal budgets for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 were not completed until several months into the next fiscal year, the earmark epidemic has been linked to corrup­tion, the much-maligned highway bill was enacted two years late (and gained nothing in quality from the delay), the new Medicare drug benefit plan will add more than $1 trillion to the federal budget over the next 10 years, and the financially shaky Social Security system remains untouched and unreformed.

With such a disappointing record, incumbents have every reason to be nervous about their prospects for re-election in November.

Ouch! Read the whole thing here…see the report card in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Santorum gives blogger exclusive interview

June 27, 2006 at 3:23 pm

John Hawkins today posts an exclusive interview with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum is the third ranking Republican in Senate Leadership and faces the political fight of his life this fall against Democratic challenger Bob Casey, Jr. Hawkins covers the differences between Santorum and Casey in this interview as well as other issues. Of particular interest to me were Santorum’s comments on the recent revelations that the intelligence community has known about the discovery of certain Saddam WMD for a few years:

John Hawkins: What do you say to people who now know that we discovered 500 WMDS in Iraq, that Saddam had stockpiles of weapons, and yet they still say, “Aww, that’s not a big deal. What does it prove?” What do you say to those people, Rick?

Rick Santorum: Well, I say that it was one of the pieces of the puzzle that we believe helps put together the threat that Saddam was to this country and the world… One of the things that we asserted was that he had not destroyed his stockpiles of weapons from the previous war. We sent in weapons inspectors, as people will recall, not only to look at whether he had current weapons programs in place, but to determine whether he had destroyed the weapons he said he had destroyed. It is very clear that he did not destroy those weapons and that those weapons would have been available and unfortunately still are available to…terrorist organizations that could use them against us or other countries around the world.

Read the whole interview here.

How to define amensty

June 27, 2006 at 2:59 pm

John Tierney has an interesting column in today. He points out the shifting attitudes toward the word amnesty depending on various definitions:

If you’re still terrified of the A-word, consider how Republicans defined it in the [Tarrance Group] poll. It made a big difference how an immigrant went about applying for legal status. If he could apply while staying in America, that was considered a form of amnesty by nearly 60 percent of the respondents. But if he had to go back to his native country and apply, then only 22 percent called it amnesty.

To Mike Pence, that poll result is a “window of opportunity.” Pence, the Indiana Republican who leads the House conservative caucus, is dead set against the Senate immigration bill, which he considers amnesty. But he thinks there’s a deal to be made before the election by giving immigrants an incentive to go to their home countries in order to get a visa.
Pence wants to beef up border security immediately, and then, once the measures are in place two years later, open up “Ellis Island centers” in Mexico and Central American countries that would quickly match foreign workers with American companies.

For more thoughts on the Pence plan go here.

Bush talks tough on spending

June 27, 2006 at 2:03 pm

President Bush today commended the House of Representatives for passing line-item veto legislation and ecouraged the Senate to follow suit. The Senate will likely consider the measure after the July 4th recess as part of the Stop Overspending Act of 2006. The SOS Act, a comprehensive budget process reform act, faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Bush also took aim at the congressional earmarking practice:

I believe another crucial test for the Congress is to whether or not the Congress will pass a line-item veto. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today. A line-item veto would be a vital tool that a President could use to target spending that lawmakers tack on to the large spending bills. That’s called earmarking, and that’s become quite a controversial subject here in Washington, D.C.

I happen to believe that a lot of times earmarking results in unnecessary spending. See, part of the job of the President and the leaders in the Congress is to set priorities with the people’s money. If you don’t set priorities, the tendency is to overspend. And sometimes — a lot of times, the earmark doesn’t fit into the priorities that have been sent through the budgetary process. A lot of times earmarks are inserted into bills at the last minute, which leaves no time, or little time, for debate. Part of the process — a good process is one in which members are able to debate whether or not spending meets a priority, whether it makes sense. Earmark sponsors are often not required to provide their colleagues with a reasoned justification for proposed spending. And not surprisingly, the process often results in spending that would not have survived had it not been subject — subjected to closer scrutiny. Part of a good legislative process is for members to take a good look at whether or not a spending request meets a priority or not.

Specter leans toward border security first position

June 27, 2006 at 10:48 am

This is big news.

The Washington Times reports that Arlen Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has settled on a border security first approach to immigration reform. This revelation comes days after Specter’s embattled Pennsylvania colleague Rick Santorum introduced a border security first immigration reform proposal in the Senate.

“Are we out of touch with the American people? We may be, on the basis of what the American people know today,” he said, adding that the broken borders and poor interior enforcement get most of the attention. But he said he’s having hearings, beginning July 5 in Pennsylvania, to look at the need for a guest-worker program and to examine how to deal with current illegal aliens.

Mr. Specter said that although the Senate would insist on a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for many illegal aliens in the final compromise bill, he is open to legislation that would make those proposals contingent on having a secure border and improved interior enforcement.

“It may be down the line that we will come to some terms on a timetable, with border security first and employment verification first,” he said.

Hayden corrects the record

June 27, 2006 at 8:32 am

Democrats have been harping on the fabrication of pre-war intelligence theme for a long time now. Yesterday, they held a fake hearing sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee to further publicize the mantra. But those efforts have been dealt a blow by newly installed CIA Director Michael Hayden.

The Wall Street Journal ($):

A couple of weeks ago, these columns reported that Michigan Senator Carl Levin had cited remarks by General Hayden at his confirmation hearing to claim support for the Democratic assertion that former Pentagon official Douglas Feith had “distorted intelligence assessments on Iraq.” Mr. Levin even cited this to justify his vote to confirm the General.

Well, not so fast. General Hayden has now publicly confirmed what he had previously said in private conversations with Mr. Feith and with Arizona Senator Jon Kyl: To wit, that he did not intend those remarks as Senator Levin has spun them. In a letter to Mr. Kyl, General Hayden concedes that as former Director of the National Security Agency “I did not have any significant personal contact with Mr. Feith or his office and only occasionally saw the product of their work.”

The CIA Director’s letter adds that “the issues I attempted to address were focused on broad questions of analytic tradecraft, not characterizing the work of Mr. Feith’s office let alone attempting to address questions of lawfulness or even appropriateness. My comments about ‘wrong,’ ‘inaccurate,’ and ‘misleading’ were attached to a broader discussion of analytic challenges and not to any specific activities, including those under Mr. Feith.”

Billions in Katrina funding wasted

June 27, 2006 at 8:14 am

I hesitate to link to this story because the NY Times is running it…and let’s just say I am less than enamored with that outfit right now. But link I must because this story is huge. According to the Times, rampant fraud and abuse associated with Congressionally approved funding for Katrina-cleanup is costing the taxpayer billions. Are you surprised? I am not.

A hotel owner in Sugar Land, Tex., has been charged with submitting $232,000 in bills for phantom victims. And roughly 1,100 prison inmates across the Gulf Coast apparently collected more than $10 million in rental and disaster-relief assistance.

There are the bureaucrats who ordered nearly half a billion dollars worth of mobile homes that are still empty, and renovations for a shelter at a former Alabama Army base that cost about $416,000 per evacuee.

And there is the Illinois woman who tried to collect federal benefits by claiming she watched her two daughters drown in the rising New Orleans waters. In fact, prosecutors say, the children did not exist.

The tally of ignoble acts linked to Hurricane Katrina, pulled together by The New York Times from government audits, criminal prosecutions and Congressional investigations, could rise because the inquiries are under way.

Even in Washington, a city accustomed to government bloat, the numbers are generating amazement.

“The blatant fraud, the audacity of the schemes, the scale of the waste — it is just breathtaking,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Yes, Senator Collins, it is breathtaking…but I don’t recall you joining a chorus of House-side conservatives who expressed their fear that this would happen and attempted to offset the funding. Look for the pols to line up and condemn the waste as fast as possible now…but someone needs to ask them why they didn’t see this coming at the time. After all, it was foreseeable:

Such an outcome was feared soon after Congress passed the initial hurricane relief package, as officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross acknowledged that their systems were overwhelmed and tried to create new ones on the fly.

“We did, in fact, put into place never-before-used and untested processes,” Donna M. Dannels, acting deputy director of recovery at FEMA, told a House panel this month. “Clearly, because they were untested, they were more subject to error and fraud.”

When you rush, for political purposes, to appropriate billions and billions of dollars, so as not be appear callous to the very real suffering of Gulf Coast victims, you are bound to be careless with American’s tax dollars.

UPDATE: A reader emails the following:

There are two issues……how you pay for the relief (which conservatives rightfully made a big deal about)…..and how the money is actually spend (which I have yet to see a House side conservative really talk about…probably so they don’t embarass the Administration).

In fact, I think Collins is the only R out there talking about how the money was wasted. If you want to beat her up on the first issue….fine…….but don’t say that the House conservatives (like Mike Pence) are stronger on the second issue, because they are MIA.

The reader also points out that Collins did read a statement into the Congressional record in May of 2005 that highlighted waste fraud and abuse issues within FEMA.

Point taken…but a few additional points should be made.

One, there are other Republicans talking about this. Tom Coburn for one…Coburn has a bill right now that actually would be helpful in this regard. The Coburn/Obama database bill would create a database of all federal grants and contracts that would be searchable by citizen investigators. Watchdog groups and concerned individuals would be able to find out exactly how federal money is being spent. This would go a long way towards increasing transparency and rooting out fraud and abuse. It would be nice to see Senator Collins and some others help Coburn in that effort. Collins did to her credit support another Coburn bill creating a CFO to root out waste fraud and abuse within FEMA.

Two,isn’t it politically harder for house conservatives to raise the offset ruckus beforehand than it is for Collins and others to point out waste and abuse after the fact? Demanding offsets was politically unpopular at the time and it took guts. Granted, offsets and waste fraud and abuse would seem to be different issues on the surface, but to me they are both part of a larger issue: stewardship of American’s tax dollars. It would be nice to see Senators demand offsets on the front end, and then root out waste and abuse on the back end. That would be consistency as far as stewardship is concerned.

Finally, it is worth noting the actual votes for the Katrina funding. In May, the Senate passed yet another emergency supplemental bill appropriating funding to Katrina cleanup. For the most part, it was only the fiscal conservatives in the Senate who voted against the funding (see roll call). At the staggering tally of $103 billion, those votes seemed appropriate.

Secretary Snow refutes NY Times Editor’s arguments

June 26, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Treasury Secretary John Snow today sent a letter to Bill Keller of the NY Times refuting the editor’s arguments in favor of disclosing a secret anti-terror program in the pages of his newspaper. Snow writes:

…justifying this disclosure by citing the “public interest” in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed, you have done so here.

What you’ve seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.

Read the whole letter in the extended section (H/T the corner): Read the rest of this entry »

Flag burning amendment one vote shy

June 26, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban burning of the American flag say they are one vote shy of having the constitutionally mandated two thirds of the Senate needed to pass the proposed change to the constitution.

And to tell you the truth, I suspect many of those supporters are just fine with the whip count being right where it is.

When the Senate finishes debate this week on the amendment, if nothing changes Republicans will fall one vote shy of their bid. That means that every Democratic Senator up for reelection this year who votes against the amendment cast the deciding vote — at least as far as their Republican opponent is concerned. It becomes an election year issue and a campaign stump speech. For supporters of the amendment, that is a nice consolation prize in the wake of losing the Senate vote.

UPDATE 6:40 pm Tuesday: The amendment failed by one vote.

NRO Editorial: Revoke the NY Times credentials

June 26, 2006 at 2:36 pm

National Review Online today has a spot on editorial taking it to the NY Times for their reckless reporting. Responding to NY Times Executive Editor Bill Keller’s claim that the disclosure of the anti-terrorism law was “in the public’s interest” NRO states:

It is a matter of interest mainly to al Qaeda. The terrorists will now adapt. They will find new ways of transferring funds, and precious lines of intelligence will be lost. Murderers will get the resources they need to carry out their grisly business. As for the real public interest, it lies primarily in safety — and what the Times has ensured is that the public today is less safe.Success in defeating the terrorists at war with us is dependent on good intelligence. Without obtaining it and keeping it secret, the government can’t even find the dots, much less connect them. If the compromising of our national-security secrets continues, terrorists will thrive and Americans will die. It has to be stopped.

So what do do?

The president should match this morning’s tough talk [my link added] with concrete action. Publications such as the Times, which act irresponsibly when given access to secrets on which national security depends, should have their access to government reduced. Their press credentials should be withdrawn. Reporting is surely a right, but press credentials are a privilege. This kind of conduct ought not be rewarded with privileged access.

Bush comments on troop withdrawal and terrorist finance program

June 26, 2006 at 12:25 pm

At a press photo op this morning President Bush made the following comments about rumors of troop withdrawal:

“First of all, I did meet with General Casey, and I met with him because it’s very important for me, as well as Secretary Rumsfeld, to meet with our commander on the ground. I’ve told the American people our commanders will be making the decisions as to how to achieve victory, and General Casey, of course, is the lead person. So we had a good visit with him…

“But in terms of our troop presence there, that decision will be made by General Casey, as well as the sovereign government of Iraq, based upon conditions on the ground. And one of the things that General Casey assured me of is that, whatever recommendation he makes, it will be aimed toward achieving victory. And that’s what we want. And victory means a free government that is able to sustain itself, defend itself; it’s a government that will be an ally in the war on terror. It’s a government that will be able to fight off al Qaeda and its desires to have a safe haven.

“And so I did visit with General Casey, and I came away once again with my trust in that man. I’ve told the people here around the table that the decisions that I will make will be based upon the recommendations of people like General George Casey.”

Bush also commented on the anti-terrorism finance program revealed by the NY Times (video here):

“Congress was briefed. And what we did was fully authorized under the law. And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We’re at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America. What we were doing was the right thing. Congress was aware of it, and we were within the law to do so.

“The American people expect this government to protect our constitutional liberties and, at the same time, make sure we understand what the terrorists are trying to do. The 9/11 Commission recommended that the government be robust in tracing money. If you want to figure out what the terrorists are doing, you try to follow their money. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. And the fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this War on Terror.”

UPDATE: Here is the AP story.

Benefits of a Congressional resolution scolding the NY Times

June 26, 2006 at 10:38 am

Over the weekend some conservatives began batting around an idea: Congress, both the House and the Senate, should draft resolutions expressing their disapproval of the the NY Times decision to run a story outing the existence of a classified anti-terrorism program.

Hugh Hewitt, in a conversation with Bill Kristol, got the ball rolling:

The irresponsibility of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times combined with the arrogance of their management in refusing to be available to anyone concerning their decisions puts the burden on Congress to act.

Not, of course, with a law curtailing press freedom, which would be unconstitutional and opposed by any friend of the Constitution.

But rather, as Bill Kristol and I just spent a segment discussing, with House and Senate Resolutions –preferably drafted, debated and voted on next week– expressing outrage at the endangering of national security via the publication of sensitive national security information that obviously assists terrorists in eluding capture or killing.

Perhaps the papers would find some supporters among the congressmen and senators, but I believe that a strongly worded condemnation of the papers’actions would pass, and would as Bill argued, send the message that it isn’t the Bush Adminsitration the papers are defying, but the legislative branch as well.

Kristol then touted the idea over the weekend on the panel segment of Fox News Sunday.

Aside from the above arguments, there is another reason that this idea is worth following up on. Right now in the Senate conservatives are facing a dilemma. The Senate will be in session this week, and then out for a week of recess over the July 4th holiday. After that week, they will return for a three week run up to August recess.

This week is supposed to be consumed with a flag burning amendment and a half-loaf death tax compromise. How to fill the remaining three weeks is up in the air. Their are some outstanding legislative items, but their is worry amongst some conservatives on the hill that those items are not time consuming enough to fill all three weeks — leaving a window of perhaps a few days of free floor time.

Free floor time more often than not means mischief.

One particularly worrisome agenda item that could consume that floor time would be a stem cell research package. This package would force the President to veto a politically popular bill because of his adamant pro-life stand. The veto would become the big story heading into August, and would likely shift the abortion debate from being about fully formed unborn children — a la partial birth abortion — to being about dehumanized cells — a la stem cells. It is a political disaster waiting to happen.

Why not ensure that that floor time is not available? Granted, that would mean the Majority Leader has to acquiesce and forego his stated desire to pass the anti-pro life stem cell legislation, but I think Bill Frist may be inclined to do that in order to avoid splitting his caucus.

Schedule debate this week on a NY Times Sense of the Senate resolution, and eat up a few days. A win win…

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds’ response to NY Times Editor Bill Keller today is a must read. Reynolds:

A deeper error is Keller’s characterization of freedom of the press as an institutional privilege, an error that is a manifestation of the hubris that has marked the NYT of late. Keller writes: “It’s an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly.”

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn’t give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the “freedom of the press” the Framers described was also called “freedom in the use of the press.” It’s the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.

LA Times: Dem resolution would have “emboldened” enemy

June 26, 2006 at 8:17 am

The LA Times editorial board tells it like it is regarding last week’s Democrat proposals in the Senate for withdrawal and timetables (is the LA Time trying to make up for their recklessness last week?):

Senate Democrats seemed not to mind that both proposals went down to defeat. What mattered, Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested, was that Democrats had gone on record in favor of a “change of course” while Republicans had embraced “an open-ended commitment.” Whether or not that political calculation survives Gen. Casey’s proposal, it would have been a mistake for the Senate to endorse even the “soft” redeployment language in the Levin-Reed bill. Advisory or not, such a statement could have emboldened Iraqi insurgents.

Santorum, Hoekstra seeking further declassification of WMD docs

June 26, 2006 at 8:07 am

In today’s Wall Street Journal Sen. Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra lament the sloth-like movement of the intelligence community in response to the lawmaker’s requests for declassification of documents containing proof that Saddam had WMD. Having succeeded in partial declassification proving the existence of various WMD including sarin gas, the duo are seeking further disclosure with the expectation that information regarding more WMD exist:

In fact, the public knows relatively little about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Indeed, we do not even know what is known or unknown. Charles Duelfer, former head of the Iraq Survey Group, stated that the ISG had fully evaluated less than 0.25% of the more than 10,000 weapons caches known to exist throughout Iraq. It follows that the American people should be brought up to date frequently on our state of knowledge of this important matter. That is why we asked that the entire document be declassified, minus the exact sources, methods and locations. It is also, in part, why we have fought for the declassification of hundreds of thousands of Saddam-era documents. Read the rest of this entry »

Rep. King: Prosecute the NY Times

June 25, 2006 at 8:32 pm

Rep. Peter King today called on the Bush Administration to prosecute the NY Times for reporting the existence of a covert anti-terrorism program, thus tipping off the terrorists to its existence.

Via Powerline:

King, a New York Republican, said he would write Attorney General Alberto Gonzales urging that the country’s chief law enforcer “begin an investigation and prosecution of the New York Times - the reporters, the editors and the publisher.”

“We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” King told The Associated Press.

Three thoughts…One, I don’t think its a good idea to prosecute the NY Times because frankly, I don’t think it’s possible. Two, that doesn’t mean talking about it is not a good idea. Talking about it will further highlight the irresponsible behavior of the Times and perhaps prevent them from being so reckless in the future (here’s to hoping…). Three, the NY Times insists that the story they ran with about the Administration anti-terror program was acceptable because the info was “in the public’s interest.” Is it not also “in the public interest” for our government to have every advantage possible, including the presumption of secrecy with respect to anti-terror operations, at its disposal? Good journalism is not just running a hot story…good journalism requires discretion — a quality the Times has demonstrated it sorely lacks.

Conservative megasite launching

June 25, 2006 at 1:11 pm

Big things are in store for my former employer and current column publisher.

Newsweek reports (H/T Hugh Hewitt):

On July 4, Salem Communications, one of the country’s largest radio-station owners, will relaunch an old Web war horse called Townhall.com as a hub for its stable of stars (including Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Hewitt himself). The hope? That “Web 2.0″ wherewithal can transform what was once an op-ed clearinghouse into a single nerve center serving the separate conservative communities of talk radio and the Internet. To Hewitt, a valuable White House ally, the math is simple: add 6 million Salem fans to Townhall’s 1.4 million unique monthly visitors and you’ve got an audience six or seven times the size of liberal site Daily Kos, the Web’s biggest political blog. “We will overwhelm them,” he says.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey has some thoughts on this.

UPDATE II: Danny Glover — The begninning of the “GOProots”? 

Levin’s posturing

June 25, 2006 at 12:46 pm

Today on Fox News Sunday ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin was asked by the show’s host Chris Wallace about a N.Y. Times report released today detailing a top general’s plan for significant troop withdrawal from Iraq by 2007. Wallace pointed out that Levin has been one of the key Democrats in the Senate pushing for withdrawal or timetables. “Are you willing to take yes for an answer?” asked Wallace.

Of course. Frankly, it’s one of the worst-kept secrets in this town that there is going to be reductions in our forces, redeployments in our forces, before the election. I mean, it’s obvious what’s going on here.When we offered a resolution not with a fixed timetable for the final departure of American troops, most Democrats voted against that. That was the Kerry resolution.

We didn’t think there should be a fixed timetable for the ending, but we did, almost all the Democrats, including all of the Democratic senators who are considering running for president, then coalesced around the so-called Levin-Reed resolution which simply urged the president — urged the president — to begin the phased redeployment of American forces from Iraq by the end of this year.

So let me get this straight. Levin has admittedly known all along that such a plan was in the works? If he has known that, then why the need for the repetative amendment process in the Senate? The answer appears to be simple: politics. Levin is scared that the President, and therefore Republicans will get credit for bringing troops home when the job is closer to being finished, so he and his party want to be on record as having called for the action before it takes place. In the very next breath, Levin begins to reveal his political motivations:

But let me tell you something, it will be the greatest shock in this town — it would be like a tornado hitting this town, frankly — if there’s not a reduction in our forces prior to the election.

It will be time for that by the administration, and I don’t have the slightest bit of doubt that that’s what’s going to happen…

But it shouldn’t be a political decision, but it is going to be with this administration. It’s as clear as your face, which is mighty clear, that before this election, this November, there’s going to be troop reductions in Iraq, and the president will then claim some kind of progress or victory.

OK, so the Administration has a secret plan to significantly draw down the troops by 2007…meanwhile, the Democrats parade numerous messaging amendments across the floors of the U.S. House and Senate, and then turn around and accuse the Administration — who has repeatedly said we will stay there as long as needed to get the job done — of playing politics.

I think it is crystal clear who is more concerned about the political optics of this situation.

Liberals on Iraq out of step with mainstream

June 25, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Even Harry Reid recognizes the fringiness and future political consequences of his party’s left wing (which more often than not he seems to be a part of):

When two Democrats looking toward 2008 pushed hard for a firm date on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, they crashed headlong into Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid’s effort to retake the Senate this year.Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin want to pull out all combat forces over the next year, a proposal that delights the left wing of the Democratic Party but that failed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Thursday.

That 86-13 vote forced Democrats in difficult midterm election campaigns, such as Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Maria Cantwell of Washington, to go on record on the question of ending the military mission in Iraq _ and risk the wrath of liberals in their states.

NPR covers Heritage “24″ event

June 24, 2006 at 9:09 pm

National Public Radio this morning covered yesterday’s Heritage Foundation “24″ event in this interesting 3 minute spot today.

Weekend links…and video

June 24, 2006 at 7:27 am
  • Constitutional convention?
  • The Senate passed what!?
  • Rush on the Heritage “24″ event
  • The great society subway
  • Who died and left the NY Times in charge?
  • Jerome Armstrong’s nutroots
  • Missing WMD found…
  • I finally break 1000
  • Most controversial movies EVER
  • How to tune in to BloggerCon
  • It’s not about homosexuality
  • White House engages new media


Armstrong/Moulitsas-Gate

June 23, 2006 at 4:46 pm

John Hawkins has what I think is the definitive summary of this story about two of the liberal blogosphere’s most beloved darlings. In his summary Hawkins is more than charitable, giving Kos and Armstrong the benefit of the doubt. Of all the inferential evidence suggesting a possible link between payments Armstrong received and the sequential support of the Kos community for Armstrong clients Hawkins writes:

So, does this all point to a Kos/Armstrong backdoor deal? Although some of these maneuvers on Kos’s part are admittedly more than a little bit suspicious, it doesn’t mean that he’s on the take…

Put it all together and the most likely explanation would seem to be that Kos is good friends with Armstrong and pays a lot of attention to what he tells him. In other words, one of the fringe benefits of hiring Armstrong may be knowing that your consultant appears to have a lot of sway with the guy running the biggest liberal blog on the net. Now, if that was all there was to it, I wouldn’t bother to write about it.

But, in the course of reacting to this story, Kos sent out a missive to a private email list of liberal bloggers called “Townhouse” — and told them not to discuss the story. Wait a second…there’s a list of liberal bloggers out there where they discuss what stories are to be talked about and what stories are going to be ignored? Well, well, well.

Read the whole post if your interested in this blogosphere drama.

The Pelosi agenda

June 23, 2006 at 2:03 pm

From a Nancy Pelosi press release today:

“Through the effective advocacy of the LGBT community, California has made enormous strides in equality and advancing the rights for everyone. Last year, the California legislature became the first in the nation to pass legislation supporting equal rights for lesbian and gay couples who want to enter into the civil institution of marriage, while reaffirming that no religious institution would ever be required to solemnize marriages contrary to its fundamental beliefs.

“Unfortunately, on the national level, we are facing an assault on our Constitution. Serious work remains to achieve equality for LGBT individuals and protect the rights of all Americans. The Republican leadership in Washington is taking America in the wrong direction, trying to distract and divide with the mean-spirited and politically-motivated Federal Marriage Amendment that would enshrine discrimination into our Constitution. Congress should be debating the urgent priorities of the American people that today remain unmet.

Video of Heritage “24″ event

June 23, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Archived video of the Heritage Foundation “24″ event that I blogged about today is now up.

Watch it here.

UPDATE:  The video is having some trouble right now, should be working soon…

Santorum, Talent, Isakson introduce border security first act

June 23, 2006 at 12:01 pm

Today Rick Santorum along with fellow Senators Johnny Isakson and Jim Talent introduced legislation to secure the borders before any other action on immigration reform. Santorum:

“Throughout the debate on immigration reform, I have consistently stated that the first thing we must do is secure our nation’s borders,” said Senator Santorum. “The Senate recently passed the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which I did not support for a number of reasons – mainly because it did not appropriately address the problem at hand. While the House and Senate are working to come to an agreement on the broader issues in the immigration bill, I am introducing the Border Security First Act today because our borders must be secured now – not later. In the post 9/11 world we live in, our national security depends on our border security. We need to know who is coming into our country, where they are from, and what they are doing here.”

The fact that Santorum and Talent are headliners on this bill is testament to the political popularity of a border security first position. Both Senators face tough reelection fights this year and both are rightly convinced that their conservative position plays very well with their home state voters.

Pence, Hensarling take aim at wasteful spending

June 23, 2006 at 9:27 am

The Hill’s e-newsletter reports:

Next stop on the conservative crusade to curb federal spending: Washington’s own Metrorail system. A pair of prominent House conservatives sent House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) a letter Thursday asking the two leaders to postpone a scheduled vote next week on the National Capital Transportation Amendments Act until appropriators find offsets to balance funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the RSC budget director, wrote the GOP leaders to oppose federal funding for select Metrorail upgrades, which includes 340 new rail cars, 275 new buses, two new underground pedestrian walkways, each linking a different pair of downtown stations, and a number of other construction projects.

The letter sent by Pence and Hensarling can be read here.

“24″ and America’s image in fighting terrorism

June 23, 2006 at 7:13 am

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The event has begun (stream here)…aside from the stellar panel of VIPs, there are a few in the crowd. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is in the front row, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham is here and NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd has been spotted…that should be an interesting column.

Today’s event is especially timely, as a real-life “24″ appears to have taken place over the night in Miami.

Pictures and updates to come…

UPDATE: Justice Thomas was announced as a distinguished guest by Secretary Chertoff, he received a rousing applause.

Chertoff made the point that the events of the last 24 hours in Miami and the foiled plot in Toronto reminds us of the fact that terrorism is an international problem that deserves great attention.

Regarding “24″ Chertoff finds particularly compelling the tough choices that the actors in the show must face. “They are always trying to make the best choice from a list of bad options.” That, says Chertoff, is what we sometimes have to do. The show makes you think about what you would do faced with a choice between a lot of unpalatable alternatives. When you are in the middle of an event with high consequences you have to be able to make a decision realizing that the consequences could be dire.

However, Chertoff admits there is an element of “24″ that is unrealistic, and that is that our problems can be solved in 24 hours.

UPDATE: A member of the audience asked Chertoff what aspects of 24 are most like the real world? Chertoff said, we do not have an operations center like CTU, things don’t get solved in 24 hours, and we don’t succeed in getting information by breaking the law.

What is like the real world is the work and dedication that the people in the show actually put into protecting the nation.

UPDATE: Question — “would it be unethical to clone Jack Baur?” Chertoff: “We are already doing that.” HA!

UPDATE: Rush was just introduced to a rock star’s welcome. He promptly poked fun at “Justice Thomas and his wife Clarence.”

Rush introduced the panel….

UPDATE: Rush asked one of the show’s producers if they knew where the show was going before the season began. The answer is no…”we are lucky if we know where the next episode is going!” Rush then asked what the most surprising thing about the show is, Joel Surnow said that it was surprising that “everybody from Rush to Barbara Streisand liked the show.”

UPDATE: Rush noted that “you never know about job security on this show. How many times have you guys been dead on the page and talked yourself out of it?” Carlos Bernard, aka Almeida admitted, “a couple…”


UPDATE: Chloe: “I got into acting to avoid politics of any type…and you guys are bringing me out of that.” She said the toughest part of the show for her is all the “fake typing…hurts my fingers.”

UPDATE: Rush suggests a guest cameo: “Jack Murtha as the head of the new KGB.”

UPDATE: Rush asked the producers if they were trying to teach people lessons with the show. Their short answer was “No, we are just trying to heat our pools.”

UPDATE: Question from the audience: “Do you ever worry about giving terrorists ideas with the terrorism tactics you portray on the show?” Producer Robert Cochran said they do worry about that. They try to only use information that “is already out there.”

Another question from the audience to Chloe, “Are you carrying Edgar or Jack Baur’s love child?” Chloe, “Whoever asked that question needs to think about something else for 24 hours…my baby is my business.” HA!

UPDATE: Question: “Why did you feel the need for Keifer to make a public service announcement about Islam in season 4?” The producers said they were asked to do so by CAIR and that they did not change the content of the show in any way so they saw no harm in doing the announcement.

UPDATE: For next season, the producers say there will be more action taking place in Washington, D.C. Also, everyone’s favorite Secret Service agent Aaron will be back in a larger role next season.The producers are working on a 24 movie right now in which “Jack Bauer will be the new James Bond.” The movie will not be in CTU Los Angeles, it will take place internationally and will be a big “epic action with Jack Bauer front and center.”

Stars of the show “24″, Secretary Michael Chertoff and Rush Limbaugh…

June 23, 2006 at 5:28 am

All of these people are converging on the Reagan Center in Washington, D.C. to speak at an event organized by my employer, the Heritage Foundation. I will be at the Reagan center covering the event today. If you want to tune in live go here for streaming video.
Here is the lineup:

“24″ and America’s Image in

Fighting Terrorism:
Fact, Fiction, or Does it Matter?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Moderator:

Rush Limbaugh
Host, The Rush Limbaugh Show

Featuring:

The Honorable Michael Chertoff
Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

James Jay Carafano
Senior Research Fellow,
Defense and Homeland Security,
The Heritage Foundation

David Heyman
Director and Senior Fellow,
Homeland Security Program, CSIS

Howard Gordon
Executive Producer and Writer, “24″

Joel Surnow
Executive Producer, Creator and Writer, “24″

Robert Cochran
Executive Producer, Creator and Writer, “24″

Plus, members of the 24 cast including: Gregory Itzin - “President Charles Logan”, Mary Lynn Rajskub - “Chloe O’Brian” and Carlos Bernard - “Tony Almeida”…stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: Rush previews today’s event here.