Monday, October 31, 2005

Will the Senate go nuclear over Alito?

Frist says he'll lead the charge against the Dems for Alito, even if it means going nuclear.

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)-[off the wire, no link]-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said in an interview on Fox News Monday he won't hesitate to use the so-called "nuclear option" to force a vote on President George W. Bush's latest Supreme Court nomination.

Bush earlier Monday nominated conservative judge Samuel Alito to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court after his first nominee, Harriet Miers, withdrew last week.

Democrats, pointing to Alito's rulings that sought to restrict a woman's right to abortion, have threatened to block the nomination from being voted on in the Senate, where the Republicans have the majority of votes.

But if Democrats try to block it by using a filibuster, a tactic used to keep the Senate from closing debate and voting, Frist said he would revive a bid to change the Senate rules to disallow filibusters for judicial appointments.

"If a filibuster comes back, I'm not going to hesitate to employ the constitutional option to get an up-or-down vote," Frist said. "I think the political posturing from the other side is absurd."

Frist said he didn't doubt he had the votes to make the rules change.

"We have got to work together as a Senate to give this qualified nominee a dignified hearing and a fair up-or-down vote. If they are going to prejudge the outcome, it's going to be a fight."

If confirmed by the Senate, Alito would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a decisive swing vote in cases involving affirmative action, abortion, campaign finance, discrimination and the death penalty.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-31-05 1516EST

I was actually looking forward to this fight in the Seante after McCain's gang of 14 as they've come to be known started trying to strong arm Dubya on his nominations.

Let's throw down.

UPDATE: SayAnything has Lindsey Graham, Gang of 14 member, agreeing to go nuclear for Alito. That's awesome.

UPDATE 2: Hugh is reporting Mike DeWine, another Gang of 14 member, agreeing to go nuclear for Alito. Two down, two to go.

UPDATE 3: And we've got Schumer saying Alito could turn the court back to the times of segregation and Chris Matthews with a DNC talking points memo questioning why the Italian-American Alito failed to convict Italian-American mobsters. Covert liberal racism at work again.

Napolean Dynamite ads for the Utah State fair

You've got to see these videos (Jake Hilton via Evil White Guy).

That boy has some sweet skills.

Samuel Alito: a quick biography

I found this on the wire as well and thought it might be a useful tool for those of you who, like me, aren't neck deep in all that legal mumbo jumbo. It's pretty thorough going into ideology, fmaily, and religious background as well as simple biographical dates and times.

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Samuel A. Alito has been a strong conservative jurist on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a court with a reputation for being among the nation's most liberal.

Dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite," a play not only on his name but his opinions, Alito, 55, brings a hefty legal resume that belies his age. He has served on the federal appeals court for 15 years since President George H.W. Bush nominated him in 1990.

Before that Alito was U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey from 1987 to 1990, where his first assistant was Michael Chertoff, now the Homeland Security secretary.

Alito was the deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration from 1985 to 1987 and assistant to the solicitor general from 1981 to 1985.

His New Jersey ties run deep. Alito, the son of an Italian immigrant, was born in Trenton and attended Princeton University. He headed to Connecticut to receive his law degree, graduating from Yale University in 1975. He served in the Army Reserves from 1972 until 1980, when he was discharged as a captain.

He is married to Martha-Ann Bomgardner, an attorney, and has two children, a college-age son, Philip, and a younger daughter, Laura. His late father, Samuel Alito Sr., was the director of New Jersey's Office of Legislative Services from 1952 to 1984. Alito's sister, Rosemary, is a top employment lawyer in New Jersey.

Alito's mother, who will turn 91 in December, spent the morning fielding congratulatory telephone calls from her home in Hamilton, N.J., a Trenton suburb. "I'm so excited I can't even express myself," she said.

If confirmed, Alito would be the fifth Catholic on the Supreme Court.

On the bench, Alito is known to be probing but more polite than the often-caustic Justice Antonin Scalia, to whom he is sometimes compared. In high school, he competed in debate with his younger sister Rosemary. His style is considered quiet and thoughtful.

Among his noteworthy opinions was his lone dissent in the 1991 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the 3rd Circuit struck down a Pennsylvania law that included a provision requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.

In 2000, though, Alito joined the majority that found a New Jersey law banning late-term abortions unconstitutional. In his concurring opinion, Alito said the Supreme Court required such a ban to include an exception if the mother's health was endangered.

On the spousal notification law, Alito wrote, "The Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands' knowledge because of perceived problems - such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands' previously expressed opposition - that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion," Alito wrote.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, struck down the spousal notification, but Chief Justice William Rehnquist quoted from Alito's opinion in his dissent.

Former appellate judge Timothy Lewis, who served with Alito, has ideological differences with him but believes he would be a good Supreme Court justice.

"There is nobody that I believe would give my case a more fair and balanced treatment," Lewis said. "He has no agenda. He's open-minded, he's fair and he's balanced."

In a 1999 case, Fraternal Order of Police v. City of Newark, the 3rd Circuit ruled 3-0 that Muslim police officers in the city can keep their beards. The police had made exemption in its facial hair policy for medical reasons (a skin condition known as pseudo folliculitis barbae) but not for religious reasons.

Alito wrote the opinion, saying, "We cannot accept the department's position that its differential treatment of medical exemptions and religious exemptions is premised on a good-faith belief that the former may be required by law while the latter are not."

In July 2004, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled that a Pennsylvania law prohibiting student newspapers from running ads for alcohol was unconstitutional. At issue was Act 199, an amendment to the Pennsylvania Liquor Code passed in 1996 that denied student newspapers advertising revenue from alcoholic beverages.

Alito said the law violated the First Amendment rights of the student newspaper, The Pitt News, from the University of Pittsburgh.

"If government were free to suppress disfavored speech by preventing potential speakers from being paid, there would not be much left of the First Amendment," Alito wrote.

In 1999, Alito was part of a majority opinion in ACLU v. Schundler. At issue was a holiday display in Jersey City. The court held that the display didn't violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment because in addition to a creche and a menorah, it also had a Frosty the Snowman and a banner hailing diversity.

In the case of Homar v. Gilbert in 1996, Alito wrote the dissenting opinion that a state university didn't violate the due process rights of a campus police officer when they suspended him without pay after they learned he had been arrested on drug charges.

One of the most notable opinions was Alito's dissent in the 1996 case of Sheridan v. Dupont, a sex discrimination case. Alito wrote that a plaintiff in such a case should not be able to withstand summary judgment just by casting doubt on an employer's version of the story.

In Fatin v. INS (1993), Alito joined the majority in ruling that an Iranian woman seeking asylum could establish eligibility based on citing that she would be persecuted for gender and belief in feminism.

In a 1996 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of a federal law banning the possession of machine guns, Alito argued for greater state rights in reasoning that Congress had no authority to regulate private gun possession.

In a May 2005 profile in The Newark Star-Ledger, Alito said, "Most of the labels people use to talk about judges, and the way judges decide (cases) aren't too descriptive. ... Judges should be judges. They shouldn't be legislators, they shouldn't be administrators."

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-31-05 1212EST

Differing opinions on Alito

First the always entertaining Sen. (hic) Kennedy:

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Sen. Edward Kennedy was among the first Democrats to sharply criticize President George W. Bush's choice of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement, Kennedy called it a "nomination based on weakness, not on strength."
While acknowledging that Alito is intelligent and experienced on the bench, the Massachusetts senator says the nominee, if confirmed, could "fundamentally alter the balance" of the Supreme Court," and push the court "dangerously to the right."

Kennedy said Bush is trying to mend fences with Republican conservatives by choosing a nominee with "extreme" views, after the failed nomination of Harriet Miers.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-31-05 0902EST

And now Ronald Cass

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 /PRNewswire/ -[off the wire, no link]- The following is a statement by Ronald A. Cass on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court: In announcing his intention to nominate Judge Sam Alito to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, President Bush has selected an extremely smart, principled, and thoughtful jurist with impeccable credentials. Judge Alito has served his nation with distinction and has worked to uphold the rule of law as a prosecutor, a high-ranking government official, and, for the past fifteen years, as a judge. Judge Alito has the experience, the temperament, and the demonstrated commitment to constitutional text, structure, and history, that should make him an excellent justice.

I hope that the United States Senate will take up his nomination quickly, with the sort of dignified proceeding appropriate to the confirmation process.

This process should not focus on ideology or on the association of particular Supreme Court positions with ideological or demographic characteristics of those who have held the position before. The ability and temperament of the nominee should be the sole concern of the confirmation process. On those scores, there is no doubt that this nominee excels.

- Ronald A. Cass is President of Cass & Associates, PC, Dean Emeritus of Boston University School of Law, and Co-Chairman of the Committee for Justice. SOURCE The Committee for Justice

Story Time 10/31/2005 6:21:30 AM

I'm more inclined to believe the honorable Ronald Cass simply because Ted can't make a coherent argument without spilling his scotch.

As far as conservatives are concerned, they ought to be much happier with thhis nominee. Hopefully we don't Bork ourselves again.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Iranian president wants Israel eliminated

And do you you think Iran wonders why we have such a problem with them after they make stupid comments like this?

LONDON (AP)-[of the wire, no link, similar story here]-Britain's Foreign Office said Wednesday it planned to protest "sickening" comments made by the president of Iran calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map."

State-run media reported that Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a speech to students Wednesday that a new wave of Palestinian attacks would destroy the Jewish state.

A British Foreign Office spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, said the deadly suicide bombing that killed at least five people in Israel Wednesday illustrated the "horrible reality" of the violence being praised by Ahmadinejad.

In a swipe at some Arab states, Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it.

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world," Ahmadinejad told students during a Tehran conference called "The World without Zionism."

"Ahmadinejad's comments are deeply disturbing and sickening," the Foreign Office spokesman said.

"Saying Iran wants to wipe Israel from the map will only heighten concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions. We will be protesting to the Iranian charge d'affaires tomorrow," he said.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-26-05 1859EDT

A similar protest came across the wire by Spain's Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos. This is yet another reason why a stable, Democratic Iraq can help sway the tide of hatred for Israel in the Middle East, because I can't believe a majority of Muslims feel this way.

At least I hope not.

And I like how the only US news agency to report this are the Financial Times. Every other story is from an international agency.

Oh, the irony...

I think I got an answer to my question...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday accepted the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, according to a statement from the White House.

In her letter to the president, Miers said she was "concerned that the confirmation process presents a burden for the White House and its staff and it is not in the best interest of the country."

The White House said Miers had to withdraw over concerns that senators wanted documents of privileged discussions between the president and his top lawyer. (Watch video: Withdrawal accepted -- 1:38)

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Bush said. (Full statement)(Miers letter)

But Democratic and Republican senators told CNN's Ed Henry that they hadn't asked for privileged documents.

Bush vowed to fill the vacancy "in a timely manner."

"Harriet Miers' decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers -- and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her," Bush added.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who said he had recommended that Bush nominate Miers, blamed "the radical right wing of the Republican Party" for killing her nomination.

"Apparently, Ms. Miers did not satisfy those who want to pack the Supreme Court with rigid ideologues," the Nevada Democrat said.

Her resignation is probably the only thing close to a "save face" way out of this for the conservatives. Maybe with this nomination Bush will nominate someone better known for their conservative legal opinions. From the get go, I didn't mind having to go to war with the Dems over a nominee.

Looks like there may be a battle brewing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Will the GOP torpedo Miers?

WASHINGTON (AP)-[off the wire, no link, similar story here and here]-Three GOP officials said Wednesday they no longer felt certain that the troubled nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court would survive as long as the Nov. 7 target date for hearings, and that a withdrawal was not out of the question.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, noting that the administration's official policy is one of strong continued support for the president's pick.

Meanwhile, a conservative group that had given Miers the benefit of the doubt changed positions on Wednesday. Concerned Women of America, which had so far supported President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, urged the president to withdraw her nomination.

"We wanted to back the president, and sought evidence to support this nomination, but we find this Supreme Court nominee unqualified and her record troubling," said Beverly LaHaye, the group's founder. "However, we look forward to a nomination that we can wholeheartedly endorse."

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee served notice Wednesday he intends to question Miers about the Bush administration's policy of detaining suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, injecting new uncertainty into a Supreme Court nomination already in doubt.

In a letter to Miers, who is White House counsel, Sen. Arlen Specter also said he would ask what assurances she could offer that she would be independent, if confirmed, "and not give President Bush any special deference on any matter involving him that might come before the court."

Specter, R-Pa., released the letter as the White House struggled to build support for an appointment that has drawn withering criticism from some prominent conservatives outside Congress and steady skepticism - or worse - from Republican senators.

Miers met with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the latest in a round of senatorial courtesy calls, and labored to answer written questions from the Judiciary Committee by day's end. The panel sought the information after deeming her earlier responses incomplete.

Vitter told reporters he wanted the White House to provide written evidence that Miers has a conservative judicial philosophy. "What I am suggesting is that I'd love to see more written material that predates the nomination," he said.

Miers was named less than a month ago to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose views on the constitutional questions of the most contentious issues of the day often left her as the pivotal vote on 5-4 rulings. In particular, O'Connor joined in rulings that upheld abortion rights and affirmative action.

While several GOP senators have lamented the shortage of material detailing Miers' views, a speech she delivered in 1993 drew attention from Vitter and other conservatives.

Discussing the issues of abortion and voluntary school prayer, she told the Executive Women of Dallas, "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination. And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes the most sense."

Vitter declined to tell reporters what Miers had told him about the speech she made a dozen years ago. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said it raised another question in his mind about her views. "It's something we'll have to probe," he said.

Specter's letter set out a controversial area he intended to probe - the constitutional underpinnings of the administration's handling of suspects in the global fight against terrorism.

Referring to cases involving the detainment of "enemy combatants" at a U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Specter noted that the administration contends that most of the detainees are kept in custody "not for punishment" but to keep them for interrogation and prevent them from returning to the battlefield.

"Are there any limitations as to how long detainees may be held for the purposes identified by the government?" he asked, setting out the first in a series of questions he intended to pose at the hearings. Pentagon policy on the issue makes no mention of a time limit on the detentions.

Additionally, Specter posed a series of questions about the authority of the president to detain aliens outside U.S. borders.

These questions all appeared to involve controversy for Miers, since she has advised Bush privately about the war on terror, and the president has long insisted that advice offered within the White House is off-limits to outsiders.

The issues raised by the cases that Specter cited may resurface at the Supreme Court in the future, and nominees traditionally have shied away from offering opinions in such circumstances. Chief Justice John Roberts invoked that precedent numerous times at his own confirmation hearings.

Specter also outlined questions relating to Congress' constitutional authority to declare war.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-26-05 1903EDT

Now, I'm certainly not a huge fan of her nomination. Of course I believe that their a several more qualified and possibly more deserving candidates, but unless she shows some sort of gross ineptitude during the confirmation process or some very scary skeletons come out of her closet, I don't see any reason why fellow conservatives and fellow Republicans should protest this so vehemently. Some dissent is expected and an effort to reason with and change the mind of Dubya on this can and should be expected, but these attacks now only serve to hurt the future of the Republican party.

I think Hugh had said that this is the anti-Suter candidate, and I can see the logic there. Bush, Sr. did not know Suter when he nominated him, and Roberts was obviously the most perfect candidate Dubya could have put forward which is evidenced by how smoothly and quickly he flew through the hearings. So I think in an effort to avoid an unknown Suter-esque candidate (and a woman to replace O'Connor), he took the one he has known personally for several years.

Is it the right thing to do? Only time will tell. But I can't imagine the results being worse than the rift in the party that many Republicans continue to widen over her nomination. As president, Dubya is the leader of the Republican party, and while concerned conservatives should voice their opinions, they must get behind her nomination when push comes to shove. We survived Suter's slide from conservative to liberal (how extreme that shift is a debate for another time, and for people much better versed in legal matters than I), and if it happens again, so be it. But you have to believe the chances of that happening a far smaller this time around.

So the final question still remains, how much do you trust Bush?

European news stories

(aka I'm too lazy to think of my own crap to post)


- Iraq's constitution was approved, final referendum results showed, as Sunnis narrowly failed to get enough votes to reject the charter. Nearly 10 million people participated, 63% of registered voters. Shiites and Kurds cheered the result, but some Sunni leaders denounced the vote, despite election officials' vow of no substantial irregularities. Meantime, the U.S. military death toll hit 2,000.

- The U.S. and France worked to rally support for a U.N. resolution demanding that Syria cooperate with a probe into Hariri's slaying.

- Beijing reported a new bird-flu outbreak and agreed in principle to share virus samples, cheering international health officials. Germany tested dead fowl there.

- The U.N. will hold a donor conference today in Geneva for the South Asian earthquake, as aid workers say the international response has been weaker than expected.

- The U.S. is initiating action at the WTO to pressure China to toughen its enforcement of intellectual-property rights.

- Floridians surveyed the billions in damage left by Hurricane Wilma, which cut power to six million and killed at least six in the U.S. state.

- The EU trade chief won full support from Brussels to make new farm-aid concessions in a bid to spur WTO talks, despite France's opposition.

- The EU executive told Romania and Bulgaria to speed up judicial overhauls and tackle corruption if they want to join the bloc in 2007.

- Merkel could take over as German chancellor on Nov. 22 if the top two parties can agree on how to plug a $42 billion deficit, officials said.

- Power-distribution disputes were threatening to derail Polish coalition talks, as Civic Platform said it could refuse to join Law and Justice.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-26-05 0030EDT

Monday, October 24, 2005

Maybe that Patriot Act thing isn't so bad after all

Sure it made my life and getting the loan for my house a little more difficult, but when you here about these kinds of arrests, it makes it all worthwhile.

NASHVILLE (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-An Iraqi-born man was sentenced Monday to nearly five years in prison after trying to buy machine guns and hand grenades in a federal sting operation.

Ahmed Hassan Al-Uqaily, 34, was arrested last October during the investigation prompted his alleged threat about "going jihad" against the U.S., investigators said.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force said Al-Uqaily paid $1,000 for two disassembled machine guns, four disassembled hand grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Al-Uqaily pleaded guilty in May to illegal possession of weapons and possession of unregistered firearms.

Under a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 57 months in prison and three years supervised release. He can be deported to Iraq after he serves the prison time.

Prosecutors said they were not sure what Al-Uqaily planned to do with the weapons, but felt he was no longer a threat. Defense attorney David Baker wouldn't comment.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-24-05 1902EDT

Every little bit helps. Hopefully they follow up on some of those loose ends with regards to what he planned to do with the weapons. These are the kinds of arrests that lead to the bigger fish. Let's see if they find any.

This story can also be found here (via Jihad Watch)

Moving sucks...

Man I hurt. The fetching Mrs. Wookie's bedroom set had to be taken upstairs to the master bedroom, and that damn stuff is big and heavy. Everything hurts right down to my toes.

But man sleeping in your first home that first night more than makes up for it.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tomorrow... we move in!

The house is ours!

The bank finally approved us after confusing me with a terrorist for a little while, but we picked up the keys yesterday and are moving in over the weekend.

I can't believe I own a house!

I never thought I'd be a fan of Joan Rivers...

I always kind of thought of Joan (and her daughter) as the annoying duo that appointed themselves the Oscar's style police. But as soon as I heard about this story from London, I couldn't help but laugh and think that I'd like to buy the woman a drink.

Howe went on to talk about his Channel 4 documentary Son of Mine, detailing his relationship with his 20 year-old son, Amiri, and whether it was racism or his faults as a father that were to blame for the difficulties his child had been through.

Rivers, 72, broke in, saying: "I'm so, so bored of race. I think people should inter-marry. Everybody should be part this, part that and part everything. Race doesn't mean a damn thing. Everybody should just relax, take the best of their cultures and move forward."

Purves suggested that was a "very American approach" but Howe disagreed, saying: "That's not an American approach. America is one of the most savagely racial places in the world."

And then he later suggested: "Since black offends Joan…"

This drove Rivers into a complete tizzy. "Wait!" she cried. "Just stop right now. Black does not offend me. How dare you? How dare you say that? 'Black offends me!' You know nothing about me. How dare you."

Their exchanges culminated with Rivers shrieking: "Don't you dare call me a racist. I'm sorry. How dare you."

As a somewhat harassed Purves tried to calm the situation, Rivers said to Howe: "Now please continue, but don't you dare call me that. Son of a bitch."

Amen Joan.

And I'm sure you looked sharp in Armani while you tore him a new one.

UPDATE: Here's the full transcript (via Hurry up Harry).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The wookies are soon to be homeowners

We just about signed our lives away. One notary plus a 3 inch high stack of escrow papers equals the bank just about owns my soul.

But at least we own a hunk of land, and we get a tax write-off!


Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy Blogiversary to me!

Damn, I can't believe I've been doing this for a year already. The actual day was Tuesday the 11th to be acurate. And it's come a long way... well maybe a kind or long way... well really not very far at all. Just check out the first post.

Please, you don't have to get me anything, just link me furiously.

Thanks to my 9 visitors, and the 3 comments they've left. I couldn't have done it without you. Mean it. Really.

Happy blogiversary to me!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CIA reform

Got Design has an intelligent post on the need for changes at the CIA to help it realize it's initial intent as an intelligence gathering agency:

The Central Intelligence Agency was designed to be an organization that would collect information from a wide variety of sources and provide analytical support of the president's foreign policy objectives. In the absence of a firm presidential foreign policy objective (e.g., the Clinton Administration), the CIA should continue its mission of information collection. As for the conduct of clandestine operations, they should always be in support of policy and subject to the oversight of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

Make sure you read the rest, and since yours truly left a rather insightful comment, here are some of my views:

You shouldn't feel like you're in the minority at all because the CIA does need a great deal of work to reverse damages done to it by years of political correctness that ironically started with the Carter administration.

Information is apolitical, but like the MSM, the CIA's field agents who are bringing in the first hand data, have their information manipulated by countless bureaucrats who distort it's meaning and context for their own political gain.

If only real life were more like a Tom Clancy novel, where intelligence gathering is taken seriously and the info gets direct from the field to the president with no interference.

Not to be trite but one of my favorite movies, Sneakers, put it best: It's not who controls the guns, it's who controls the information.

Oh so true.

Take a look at the CIA's website. They put their mission very nicely:

We are the eyes and ears of the nation and at times its hidden hand. We accomplish this mission by:
  • Collecting intelligence that matters.
  • Providing relevant, timely, and objective all-source analysis.
  • Conducting covert action at the direction of the President to preempt threats or achieve United States policy objectives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Equal opportunity for women, Islamo-fascist style

And you didn't think fundamentalist Muslims would allow women to blow themselves up for Allah.

BAGHDAD (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-A female suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle near a U.S. military patrol in northern Iraq Tuesday, police said. It was the first known suicide car bombing by a woman since the country's bloody insurgency began two years ago.

The site of the attack in Mosul city was quickly closed off by U.S. forces in the residential neighborhood of al-Hadbaa, and it was not immediately known whether the blast caused any casualties in the patrol, said police Capt. Ahmed Khalil.

In Baghdad, the U.S. military said it had no information about the attack.

The remains of the suicide bomber were identified as those of a woman, said Khalil and Dr. Bahaa al-din al-Bakri, who works at the local hospital that received the remains in Mosul, 360 kilometers northwest of Baghdad.

Male militants often have carried out numerous suicide car bomb attacks against Iraqi security forces, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, but the Mosul attack was the first one known to have been carried out by a woman driver since the insurgency began.

The only other successful suicide attack by a woman in Iraq occurred on Sept. 28, when a female with explosives hidden beneath her traditional white robe set them off after she stood in line outside an Iraqi army recruitment center in the western city of Tal Afar, killing at least six people and wounding 30.

Before the insurgency began, Saddam Hussein's regime is known to have used female suicide bombers at least once: Just before the April 2003 fall of Baghdad, two women detonated their car near the city of Haditha, killing three U.S. soldiers.

Women strapped with explosives have attempted other suicide bombings on foot - without using a car bomb - but were captured before they could carry out their attacks.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-11-05 1454EDT

Now even women can grow up to be terrorists. This must make NOW so proud.

Similar stories from Yahoo, WaPo, and National Geogrphic.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Terrorists will kill you regardless of politics

Since 9/11, particularly loud and outspoken voices on the left tried to blame the attacks on US foreign policy. It was our fault we'd ostracized and alienated them, so of course they'd lash out at us.

Not so apparently.

PARIS (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-A French terror cell suspected of plotting attacks on the subway and other targets in Paris had contacts with Iraq's al-Qaida leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a leading French counterterrorism official said Monday.

Christophe Chaboud, head of the counterterrorism unit of the national police, also said that a member of the cell had returned to France with a potential bomb-making substance from Lebanon.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-10-05 1322EDT

If the French aren't even safe, after years of diplomatically avoiding confronting the evil and illegally buying oil from Saddam though the Oil-for-Food program, who is?

Here's a similar story found on CNN and MSNBC.

Stupid Astros

Friday, October 07, 2005

Making Iraq safer, one offensive at a time

BAGHDAD (AP)-[off the wire, no link]-Coalition forces ended their six-day "Iron Fist" offensive in western Iraq on Thursday, the day when two U.S. Marines were killed by a roadside bomb that hit their patrol outside the town of Qaim, the region near the Syrian border where the operation was being waged, the military announced Friday.

It said the offensive killed a total of more than 50 insurgents, and that coalition forces established a new outpost in the town Sadah, where it began, to protect its citizens.

The two U.S. deaths brought to six the number of U.S. troops killed in Iron Fist and in River Gate, which was launched Tuesday in the towns of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Parwana.

The Mountaineers offensive by 500 U.S. and 400 Iraqi forces was taking place in and around the city of Ramadi, 115 kilometers west of Baghdad.

In addition, Iraqi and U.S. forces recently began Operation Saratoga in northern Iraq in order to improve safety in towns such as Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah before the referendum this month.

Apart from those offensives, four Marines were killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in Karma, near the town of Fallujah, 65 kilometers west of Baghdad, the military said.

The six Marine deaths brought to 1,950 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Copyright © 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.(AP-DJ)--10-07-05 1530EDT

50 more terrorists bite the dust. Only a gazillion more to go. Excellent work soldiers!

But now check out the CNN version of the story.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Six Marines were killed in roadside bombings in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, the Marines said Friday.

A homemade bomb exploded Thursday near Karma, killing four Marines.

Another blast Thursday killed two Marines on patrol in Qaim.

The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 1,953.

U.S. and Iraqi troops have been conducting two major offensives in the province.

The Marines said Friday that they had wrapped up Operation Iron Fist and established new outposts in Sa'da, a town on the Euphrates River near the Syrian border.

More than 50 members of al Qaeda in Iraq were killed in the six-day mission, a Marines statement said.

Troops were still working to drive insurgents out of Haditha, Haqlaniya and Barwana as part of Operation River Gate. Weapons caches were found in Haditha and Haqlaniya, the U.S. military said.

The fighting came amid U.S. military warnings that insurgents may seek to disrupt the October 15 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution.

Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy director of operations for the region, said Thursday that attacks on U.S. troops were on the rise.

"Since about April, May, that had been going down, just every month, until last month," Ham said. "And then in September of '05, it started to come back up again."

He said there were about 152,000 American troops in the country -- up from 140,000 in the summer. The Pentagon says the increase in troop levels is a short-term one that will last through this month's referendum vote.

In Baghdad, a U.S.-led coalition spokesman said the same rise in insurgency strikes occurred as the January 30 elections approached.

A suicide car bombing killed 10 people and wounded eight others Thursday near the Iraqi Oil Ministry in eastern Baghdad, police said. The bomb detonated in a red Kia minibus.

Earlier Thursday, a suicide car bomber targeted a convoy of private American security contractors in central Baghdad, wounding eight Iraqi civilians, police said.

They of course lead with the 6 US soldiers who died as the main priority, second the total killed in the war, and then when they can find the time, the progress of the GWOT and as a side story.

What a bunch of crap.

And people still think the MSM isn't biased?

Braves spank Astros

What a great game! Took down the Rocket and tied the series.

Go Braves.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Looks like Homeland Security thinks I'm a threat

At least that's what my mortgage broker told me.

Since the fetching Mrs. Wookie and I broke our lease a month ago and have been staying with family, we are esentially homeless. Due to the temporary nomadic lifestyle we've chosen, we rented a P.O. Box from a Mail Boxes, Etc. type place for the glut of mail we get.

Without a current home mailing address, the mortgage broker says they're having trouble clearing me through Patriot Act regulations.

Too bad they're not racially profiling because then they'd recognize that my skin-so-white-that-it's-actually-reflective color (at least that's according to the fetching Mrs. Wookie. She insists I need a tan) and I'm not of any terrorist descent.

Think the ACLU will take my lawsuit if we can't buy this house?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Campaign for Hillary '08 begins

Also known as ABC's new show Commander in Chief, a female VP takes office after the death of the President. Sure Geena Davis is openly a moderate and an independent and brings in a Republican war veteran General to be her VP, but the timing for this is scary.

Now I've nothing against a female preisdent (though politically I'd rather it be Condi), but I don't think this show actually helps promote the plausibility of a woman President. From what I saw (I did not see the whole thing, only about 75% as I flipped back and forth between that and My Name Is Earl) the show seemed to shot for half family drama, half West Wing: main story line - dealing with the new job as President and assorted political pressures of picking her VP and dealing with the press; side stories - husband dealing with being called "First Gentleman" and "First Spouse," having to pick out clothing with an advisor to ensure he continues to be the fashion icon all previous First Ladies have been, and of course the security disaster when the 16 year old daughter's diary gets lost and how that becomes a political problem if the tabloids get a hold of it. Apparently she said some really not nice stuff about her mother in it. Of course President/mom has to mediate between the 16 year old and the youngest daughter who actually stole the diary.

On the political side, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. A little trite and gushy with feelings, but not overly biased. One thing she espoused that I actually liked (shock of the century) was as an independent with only 2 years left on the term, with an independent's chances of winning, she says while trying to convince the new VP to join her that she's not there to play political games, just to do what's best for the AMerican people. Yeah, gag me with a spoon, saccarine sweet, but a good ideal none the less.

Had to check on the shows creator, Rod Lurie. He wrote and directed The Contender, the movie with Joan Allen where the evil Republican Senator drags the Democrat female VP candidate's name throught the mud. It's been a while since I've seen this movie but I recall being nonplussed with it. Looks like he toned it down a bit for the TV version.

We'll have to wait and see how that holds up. With baseball playoffs on Fox, there may not be many episodes of House over the next few weeks, so I guess I'll have to wach CIC and Earl.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

No not Christmas already (at least not until Halloween is over).

It's playoff baseball!!

As an Atlanta Braves fan, the playoffs don't start until tomorrow, but fortunately my boss is a kind and sympathetic man and didn't mind turning Fox News to ESPN for the games today. Hooray!

And as an added bonus Hockey season starts tomorrow (Go Kings!). Double trouble!

It's not like I have anything better to do anyway...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harriet who?

Can't say I was anything other than beffudled when I saw Dubya on TV with this strange lady I'd never seen before. Lot's of reporters, microphones, and flashbulbs. I thought he was giving her some sort of award. And when I found out she was his new Supreme Court nominee, I must have looked as confused as Democrat at a gun show.


So naturally my initial reaction was suspicious, even more so when Senators Harry Reid and Charles Schumer came out with "she's great" and "she's not half bad" statements. Hugh of course thinks everything is hunky-dorey, and he's got a good track record with these kind of rpedictions.

So it all comes down to one simple question: How much do you trust Bush?

UPDATE: If you're looking for her references (or yours just in case she doesn't make it throught the Senate and apparently anyone can be a Supreme Court Justice) check out Iowahawk's job application for a wannabe justice.

Last post on the fires... I promise

After work I was going to get my trucks oil changed, but the place was packed so I took the long way home because that's the slightly more poetic route and has a ton less traffic than the 101. It also skirts most of the areas devastated by the fires.

Anyway once I hopped on the 118 (the Ronald Reagan fwy) you could see why they had closed the freeway last week; the fire had burned right up to the roadside. Miles and miles of hills and canyons were charred black... except for small scattered oases of homes. Clusters of houses in the hills where the fire had burned within feet of the homes, in some cases, all around the homes but the structures remained unscathed. Damn those firemen are good.

The rest of the area realized that as well. It was eveident from the signs on the overpasses saying "we love our fire fighters."

Southern California fires pt. 2

I mentioned in the last post that the fires had gotten close to my office, but close doesn't even begin to describe it. Sorry about these pics, but cell phone picture technology is limited:

That on is from about halfway into the parking lot. I couldn't get a picture of it but the fire is just on the other side of that hill.

The next morning we saw that the fire had burned right up to the parking lot. All of it is charred black. I had left work the the evening before at about 5, and apparently the building was evacuated at about 5:15. The office wasn't damaged in anyway because the fields that surround the reservoir are well maintained and not allowed to get overgrown (and it was as green as my Ireland pics after all our rain last winter).

So now it justs smells like we had one hell of a BBQ. But kudos to the firefighters. This morning the fire was 85% contained with full containment expected by the evening. And after burning more than 24,000 acres there were only 3 homes destroyed. That is a spectacular job by our firefighters.