The New York Times’ hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-consAbout as intolerant as most of the Times' readership, I'd say.
But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently.
Rosenthal told Politico shortly after the official announcement Saturday that he fails to understand “this weird fear of opposing views.”
“The idea that The New York Times is giving voice to a guy who is a serious, respected conservative intellectual — and somehow that’s a bad thing,” Rosenthal added. “How intolerant is that?”
Monday, December 31, 2007
December 31, 2007 -- WEST DES MOINES, Iowa - Rudy Giuliani's support here has plummeted into the single digits, far lower than the frigid winter temperatures in the Hawkeye State, according to new surveys released yesterday.Well, Mike's fortunes may shift after his performance today. As for Rudy, that must suck-the pro-torture candidate even with the anti-torture candidate.
A Reuters poll shows the Republican ex-mayor capturing just 8 percent of the vote - tied for fourth place with Fred Thompson and anti-war candidate Ron Paul.
And an MSNBC poll shows Giuliani tied with Paul for fifth place with a measly 5 percent of the vote - near the bottom of the pack.
Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are running neck and neck for first.
DES MOINES – Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) told reporters Monday that he was pulling a negative ad designed to target his chief rival in Iowa, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).Isn't that what the captain of the Hindenburg said?
Then he showed the ad to a room packed wall to wall with reporters.
When asked if it is hypocritical to make an announcement about not running negative ads, and then show a negative advertisement to dozens of members of the national and local media, Huckabee said he had to show the ad to prove its existence.
“I want to show you that we were fully prepared,” Huckabee said.
ISFAHAN, Iran — Iranian scientists said Monday that the country's first cloned sheep is thriving 15 months after birth, eating well and frolicking among a flock of normal sheep.I understand the sheep spends most of its time baa-ing "Death to America!" with its friends.
The cloned male sheep named Royana was born Sept. 30, 2006 in the historic central city of Isfahan, less than two months after the country's first cloned animal, also a lamb, died within minutes of birth.
But unlike it's predecessor, Royana survived the postnatal complications typical for cloned animals and is now celebrated as Iran's scientific breakthrough and achievement.
The effort is part of Iran's quest to become a regional high-tech powerhouse in western Asia by 2025. Tehran has also launched an ambitious space program, while its controversial uranium enrichment has the West worried it is masking Iran's attempts to build a nuclear weapon.
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- One of the most stable nations in East Africa descended further into chaos Monday after a disputed election triggered violence that has killed at least 124 people.Well, maybe in a few decades they'll reach the point where they can just file lawsuits and scream about stolen elections while saying how stupid the voters are. You know, like our losers do.
The deaths in Kenya came as opposition supporters fought with police firing tear gas and live ammunition.
They were protesting the government's announcement Sunday that voters had re-elected President Mwai Kibaki with 51.3 percent of the vote, compared with 48.7 percent for Raila Odinga, the opposition leader.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Ford in a 1975 assassination attempt, was released from prison Monday. Moore, 77, had served about 30 years of a life sentence when she was released from the federal prison in Dublin, east of San Francisco, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said.Had she succeeded, Nelson Rockefeller would have become President and most likely been elected on the sympathy vote in 1976 much as LBJ was after Kennedy was killed. Then you might have had him facing Ted Kennedy in 1980 during a recession and the hostage crisis. By missing Ford, Ms. Moore might have done far more good than she realised.
She was 40 feet away from Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco when she fired a shot at him on Sept. 22, 1975. As she raised her .38- caliber revolver and pulled the trigger, Oliver Sipple, a disabled former Marine standing next to her, pushed up her arm. The bullet flew over Ford's head by several feet.
In recent interviews, Moore said she regretted her actions, saying she was blinded by her radical political views.
"I am very glad I did not succeed. I know now that I was wrong to try," Moore said a year ago in an interview with KGO-TV.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Like most conservatives, I don't agree with each and every position taken by either McCain or Giuliani. Of course, I can't remember any presidential nominee whose positions I've agreed with 100 percent. Yet, I could vote enthusiastically for either man for much the same reason I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980, the first time I cast a vote for a Republican nominee.For those who want to see a return to some measure of sanity in the GOP, McCain seems to be the best bet. If you want a Republican version of Jimmy Carter or Bush on steroids then go with Huckabee or Giuliani. If you want a guy who changes positions more times than a weather vane in a hurricane, go with Romney. Ron Paul has no chance of winning, and Frederalism just can't seem to get any traction. The only one who hasn't come across as looking like he's just come out of the clown car is John McCain.
Then, as now, America faced an ominous foreign threat in the Soviet Union. After Jimmy Carter's disastrous four years in office, U.S. military supremacy was in jeopardy, and communists had made further inroads in Asia, Latin America and Africa, not to mention the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
We're in an even more precarious position now, facing a fanatical enemy that doesn't yet have nuclear weapons but could conceivably gain access to them with growing instability in Pakistan and the dangerous nuclear potential of Iran and North Korea. But Iowa Republicans, at least according to the polls, just don't seem to get it.
Giuliani barely outpolls Ron Paul in averages for polls taken in Iowa in the 10-day period before Christmas, according to RealClearPolitics.com, while McCain is in third place, though gaining some lost ground in recent weeks.
New Hampshire voters seem to have more sense, with McCain in a close second place to Romney in the RCP poll averages. McCain looks poised for a surprise victory in New Hampshire, which could be a much-needed boost to the Republican who shows the best chance of beating either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the general election. McCain easily beats Clinton in recent polling match-ups and ties Obama in the RCP averages. Giuliani also beats Clinton in at least two recent polls, but none of the other Republicans comes close.
DES MOINES, Iowa - Mike Huckabee, a Republican relying on support from religious conservatives in Thursday's hard-fought presidential caucuses, on Sunday stood by a decade-old comment in which he said, "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."At the time the quote may have been in context with his surroundings, but now that Mike is running for the highest office in the land he has made being a warrior for Christ a campaign issue. The GOP seems to have forgotten that it's a political nomination-not a contest to see who has the bigger halo.
In a television interview, the ordained Southern Baptist minister and former Arkansas governor made no apologies for the 1998 comment made at a Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Salt Lake City.
"It was a speech made to a Christian gathering, and, and certainly that would be appropriate to be said to a gathering of Southern Baptists," Huckabee said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
December 29, 2007 -- Warren Buffett is renting out his gold-plated name to cash-strapped cities across America so they can now borrow under his protec tive wing - and, of course, pay him dearly for the lifeline.It's his money and he can do whatever he wants with it, but do you really want to be the town that literally gets owned by this guy?
As the financial serv ices industry remained mired in turmoil over its own shaky credit woes, Buffett yesterday launched a new insurance company to help municipalities find insurance for backing up their bonds - of which they sell hundreds of billions to investors to finance operations.
Many major bond insurers that traditionally dominated the $2.5 trillion municipal borrowing world are on the ropes, wracked by their own credit problems and cash-flow troubles, causing cash sources from investors to dry up for many municipal and state governments.
The launch of Buffett's well-timed venture shook up the industry, and sent shares tumbling for two major municipal bond insurers - MBIA, which fell 17 percent, and Ambac Financial, down 15 percent.
Buffett's new company, Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corp., will carry a rare, triple-A credit rating, allowing him to borrow cash more cheaply and easily than Wall Street firms, and put it to work at a much higher premium.
Even if Buffett's new company charges higher premium rates due to his "stronger and more pristine standing," hard-pressed cities and towns will benefit because they'll be able to convince investors they're safer under Buffett's umbrella which has enough cash to pay back all investors.
Investors now may be more willing to purchase debt from local and state officials using Buffett's creditworthiness instead of from a company "whose rating is under a cloud," said Dick Larkin, municipal trading desk analyst at J.B. Hanauer & Co.
GARLAND, Texas (AP) — A 6-year-old girl who won four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert with an essay falsely claiming her father died in Iraq isn't going to the show after all.Soory, kid. On the bright side, she does seem to have a great future as a Democratic presidential candidate.
The contest's sponsor, a store chain named Club Libby Lu, withdrew the prize Saturday and awarded it to another contestant. It didn't identify the new winner.
"With this decision, we hope to revive the intended spirit of the contest, which was designed to make a little girl's holidays extra special," Club Libby Lu chief executive Mary Drolet said in a statement Saturday.
VATICAN CITY, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Vatican is denying reports it plans to install more exorcists around the world so possessed people can get help quickly.I can see it now: "Vatican Cops...watcha gonna do when they come to save your soul for you?"
"Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession,'' Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters in Rome Friday.
On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Web site Petrus said the pope planned to install more exorcists in every diocese next year and reintroduce a prayer during mass to St. Michael the Archangel, believed to be the prime protector against evil, The Telegraph in Britain reported Saturday.
Friday, December 28, 2007
2. Do you see President George W. Bush as a conservative Republican in the mode of Ronald Reagan? (Republicans Only)What? You mean that whose God is better isn't the most important thing on voters' minds? Shocking. It would appear that the real conservatives aren't out on the campaign trail-they are the campaign trail.
3. How important is it for the Republican presidential candidate to be a conservative Republican in the mode of Ronald Reagan, very important, somewhat important, not very important, not important, or undecided? (Republicans Only)
Very Important 56%
Somewhat Important 12%
Not Very Important 7%
Not Important 10%
4. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
1. Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?Hmm, I thought our most basic civil liberty was the right to liberty. Of course, Rombler does say this:
Intelligence and surveillance have proven to be some of the most effective national security tools we have to protect our nation. Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive and the President should not hesitate to use every legal tool at his disposal to keep America safe.
5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?This would be a big change from the past seven years. There may be hope for the GOP yet.
All US citizens are entitled to due process, including at least some type of habeas corpus relief regardless whether they are designated unlawful enemy combatants or not.
The most conspicuous doubter in France is Claude Allegre, a former education minister and a physicist by profession. His new book, ``Ma Verite Sur la Planete'' (``My Truth About the Planet''), doesn't mince words.In other words, the French are farting in Al Gore's general direction.
Allegre doesn't deny that the climate has changed or that extreme weather has become more common. He instead emphasizes the local character of these phenomena.
While the icecap of the North Pole is shrinking, the one covering Antarctica -- or 92 percent of the Earth's ice -- is not, he says. Nor have Scandinavian glaciers receded, he says. To play down these differences by basing forecasts on a global average makes no sense to Allegre.
He dismisses talk of renewable energies, such as wind or solar power, saying it would take a century for them to become a serious factor in meeting the world's energy demands.
Let Us Eat Cake
To his relief, France has taken another path: Almost 80 percent of its electricity comes from nuclear reactors. What's more, France has a talent for eating its cake and having it, too: Although it signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the country is nowhere near meeting the agreed targets.
Republican Mike Huckabee took his presidential campaign for a quick pheasant-hunting expedition in Iowa on Wednesday, and at one point, a reporter asked why he hadn’t invited sporting enthusiast Dick Cheney along. "Because I want to survive all the way through this," Huckabee replied, in a chuckling dig at the vice president’s accidental shooting of a quail-hunting partner last year.Maybe if he gets elected, the White House Press Corps should wear flack vests just in case.
Any good sportsman, though, couldn’t miss a distinctly Cheneyesque moment in the press accounts of the former Arkansas governor’s morning hunt: At one point, Huckabee’s party turned toward a cluster of reporters and cameramen and, when they kicked up a pheasant, fired shotgun blasts over the group’s heads.
(Snip) Perhaps Huckabee missed hunter’s safety classes – Arkansas only requires them for hunters born after 1968 – but the etiquette on this point is clear.
“Never point a firearm at yourself or others,” the International Hunter Education Association declares in its Basic Safety Rules. Later, it adds, “Never point your firearm at something you do not intend to shoot. Make sure you positively identify what you are shooting at and know what lies in front of and beyond it.”
Huckabee emerged happily from his hunt, three dead pheasants in tow, Oliphant reports. Asked for a metaphor to describe the hunt, he replied, "Don't get in my way. This is what happens."
Beijingers were warned to stay indoors on Thursday as pollution levels across the capital hit the top of the scale, despite repeated assurances by the government that air quality was improving.But I thought huge carbon footprints and climate change were all the fault of the United States and other evil Western countries. After all, we're the ones who are supposed to buy carbon credits.
"This is as bad as it can get," a spokeswoman for the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau told AFP.
"Level five is the worst level of air pollution. This is as bad as it has been all year."
According to the bureau's website, 15 out of the 16 pollution monitoring stations in urban Beijing registered a "five" for air quality rating.
The main pollutant was suspended particulate matter, which is usually attributed to coal burning and automotive exhaust.
"Old people and young children should reduce outdoor activities and protect their health," the spokeswoman said.
PARIS (AP) -- From next week, one of France's most iconic institutions -- the smoky cafe -- will be but a hazy memory.Well, the health nazis will be happy. The French just surrendered to them.
The extension of France's smoking ban to bars, discotheques, restaurants, hotels, casinos and cafes on Jan. 1 marks a momentous cultural shift in a country where thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir once held court while clutching cigarettes in Left Bank cafes.
For smokers, this is the most distressing part of a phased smoking ban that began last February in workplaces, schools, airports, hospitals and other "closed and covered" public places like train stations.
But many bartenders and restaurant staffers are looking forward to breathing easier and to clothes that don't stink of seeped-in odors from the clouds of smoke where they work.
Just about anywhere indoors will be off-limits for smoking, except homes, hotel rooms, and sealed smoking chambers at establishments that decide to provide them.
"The French culture associated with smoking is a 20th-century thing, but we won't forget the experience," ex-smoker Lisa Zane, a Chicago-born singer who lives in Paris, said at Le Fumoir (The Smoking Den) restaurant and bar behind the Louvre.
"Smoking seems insane now -- we have to adapt."
Thursday, December 27, 2007
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Senate was called to order for 11 seconds on Wednesday as the last political scuffle of the year between the White House and the Democratic-led Congress played out.So what will they do-Sixty Second Puppet Theater?
Nearly all the senators left the Capitol for the Christmas holiday last week, but Democrats are keeping the Senate in session to block President Bush from making any recess appointments -- a constitutional mechanism that allows the president, during congressional recesses, to fill top government posts for up to one year without Senate confirmation.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, opened and then immediately gaveled the Senate session to a close. He spent 57 seconds in the chamber.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced December 19 that he would keep the Senate open with a series of "pro forma" sessions through mid-January.
Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.Now one of them will rap about the event and get shot for his troubles.
Following the Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church, which is built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, according to photographers who said angry words ensued and blows quickly followed.
For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.
Who knows who did this deed? It is grotesque, of course, that the murder should have occurred in Rawalpindi, the garrison town of the Pakistani military elite and the site of Flashman's Hotel. It is as if she had been slain on a visit to West Point or Quantico. But it's hard to construct any cui bono analysis on which Gen. Pervez Musharraf is the beneficiary of her death. The likeliest culprit is the al-Qaida/Taliban axis, perhaps with some assistance from its many covert and not-so-covert sympathizers in the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence. These were the people at whom she had been pointing the finger since the huge bomb that devastated her welcome-home motorcade on Oct. 18.But here the plot thickens:
She would have been in a good position to know about this connection, because when she was prime minister, she pursued a very active pro-Taliban policy, designed to extend and entrench Pakistani control over Afghanistan and to give Pakistan strategic depth in its long confrontation with India over Kashmir. The fact of the matter is that Benazir's undoubted courage had a certain fanaticism to it. She had the largest Electra complex of any female politician in modern history, entirely consecrated to the memory of her executed father, the charming and unscrupulous Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had once boasted that the people of Pakistan would eat grass before they would give up the struggle to acquire a nuclear weapon. (He was rather prescient there—the country now does have nukes, and millions of its inhabitants can barely feed themselves.) A nominal socialist, Zulfikar Bhutto was an autocratic opportunist, and this family tradition was carried on by the PPP, a supposedly populist party that never had a genuine internal election and was in fact—like quite a lot else in Pakistan—Bhutto family property.As is so often the case in third-world regimes, you reap what you sow. This is not meant to make her death less tragic, only to point out that maybe she should have seen this one coming.
“I am profoundly saddened and outraged by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leader of tremendous political and personal courage. I came to know Mrs. Bhutto over many years, during her tenures as Prime Minister and during her years in exile. Mrs. Bhutto’s concern for her country, and her family, propelled her to risk her life on behalf of the Pakistani people. She returned to Pakistan to fight for democracy despite threats and previous attempts on her life and now she has made the ultimate sacrifice. Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability, and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred, and violence.I guess this proves she has foreign policy experience.
“Let us pray that her legacy will be a brighter, more hopeful future for the people she loved and the country she served. My family and I extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and to the people of Pakistan.”
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
In a potential blow to themed resorts from Vegas to Tokyo, Egypt is to pass a law requiring payment of royalties whenever its ancient monuments, from the pyramids to the sphinx, are reproduced.Can you imagine what would have happened if the RIAA had been around in ancient times? "We need to stop the spread of illegally shared heiroglyphics! We'll sue any scribe who draws a picture of a pyramid on his wall without the Pharoah's permission!"
Zahi Hawass, the charismatic and controversial head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the move was necessary to pay for the upkeep of the country's thousands of pharaonic sites.
"The new law will completely prohibit the duplication of historic Egyptian monuments which the Supreme Council of Antiquities considers 100 per cent copies," he said.
"If the law is passed then it will be applied in all countries of the world so that we can protect our interests," Hawass said.
He said a ministerial committee had already agreed on the law which should be passed in the next parliamentary session, while saying the move would not hurt Egyptian artisans.
"It is Egypt's right to be the only copyright owner for these monuments in order to benefit financially so we can restore, preserve and protect Egyptian monuments."
However, the law "does not forbid local or international artists from profiting from drawings and other reproductions of pharaonic and Egyptian monuments from all eras - as long as they don't make exact copies."
The main cause of this golden age of inexpensive wine is the obvious one: globalization. Once confined to a small part of Europe, the making (and exporting) of great wine is now done across the globe.Once again, the liberal solution to life's woes is to make the rest of us pay for the mistakes of others instead of making those others take responsibility for their actions. But if liberals believed in personal responsibility, they wouldn't have very many people left to "Save."
But there is also another factor that gets less attention. Since the early 1990s, the federal tax on wine — $1.07 a gallon — hasn’t budged. The taxes on beer and liquor haven’t changed either, which means that, in inflation-adjusted terms, alcohol taxes have been steadily falling.
Each of the three taxes is now effectively 33 percent lower than it was in 1992. Since 1970, the federal beer tax has plummeted 63 percent. Many states taxes have also been falling.
At first blush, this sounds like good news: who likes to pay taxes, right? But taxes serve a purpose beyond merely raising general government revenue. Taxes on a given activity are also supposed to pay the costs that activity imposes on society. And for all that is wonderful about wine, beer and liquor, they clearly bring some heavy costs.
Right now, the patchwork of alcohol taxes isn’t coming close to covering those costs — the costs of drunken-driving checkpoints, of hospital bills for alcohol-related accidents and child abuse, and of the economic loss caused by death and injury. Last year, some 17,000 Americans, or almost 50 a day, died in alcohol-related car accidents. An additional 65,000 people a year die from other accidents, assaults or illnesses in which alcohol plays a major role.
BOSTON (AP) -- When the clock runs out on 2007, Boston will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in the city's history: The Big Dig, the nation's most complex and costliest highway project, will officially come to an end.Well, I hope it was worth it. I'd stay on the surface, thanks.
Don't expect any champagne toasts.
After a history marked by engineering triumphs, tunnels leaks, epic traffic jams, last year's death of a motorist crushed by falling concrete panels and a price tag that soared from $2.6 billion to a staggering $14.8 billion, there's little appetite for celebration.
Civil and criminal cases stemming from the July 2006 tunnel ceiling collapse continue, though on Monday the family of Milena Del Valle announced a $6 million settlement with Powers Fasteners, the company that manufactured the epoxy blamed by investigators for the accident. Lawsuits are pending against other Big Dig contractors, and Powers Fasteners still faces a manslaughter indictment.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Greeted by joyous relatives and a crowd of Israeli TV reporters, about 40 Iranian Jews landed in Israel Tuesday, leaving behind their lives in an increasingly bellicose Islamic regime for new homes in the Jewish state.I'm not sure about the whole prophecy thing, but there's no doubt that they're now better off. At least they made it.
The new immigrants took a covert route, facilitated by the Israeli government and backed with funding from American evangelical Christians who see their efforts as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
Relatives screamed in delight and threw candy at the newcomers as they emerged into the airport reception hall after a long bureaucratic procedure.
Two brothers, Yosef and Michael, said they were glad to be in Israel. They declined to give their family name in order to protect relatives.
"I feel so good," said Yosef, 16. "I just saw all of my family. You can't put that into words."
Michael, 15, said he told all his friends where he was going, and they wanted to come along. "I was scared in Iran as a Jew," he said. "I would never be able to wear a skullcap in the streets there." Others said they felt safe in Iran, discounting warnings that Jews could become targets.
The brothers arrived with their parents and a sister and were greeted by their grandparents, whom they had not seen since the grandparents left for Israel six years ago.
Monday, December 24, 2007
LONDON, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The British government will soon release previously classified details regarding hundreds of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects.I wonder if Dennis Kucinich's friends are listed in there somewhere?
The Sunday Telegraph said Sunday that this coming spring, the Defense Ministry will release to the general public 160 files about alleged UFO sightings.
Since the British government department began keeping records about the unusual reports in 1950, more than 10,000 sightings have been recorded.
With officials failing to explain 5 percent of those sightings, a growing number of Freedom of Information requests prompted the release of the classified information.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
WASHINGTON — One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims."It's really getting lonely for Osama in whatever cave he's rotting in. Of course he always has the local goats for company...
In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the early raids of the Ansar warriors. The lapsed jihadist even calls for the formation of a special Islamic court to try Osama bin Laden and his old comrade Ayman al-Zawahri.
The disclosures from Mr. Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl and Abd al-Qadir ibn Abd al-Aziz, have already opened a rift at the highest levels of Al Qaeda. The group's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, a former associate of the defecting theologian in Egypt, personally mocked him last month in a video, remarking that he was unaware Egyptian prisons had fax machines. Meanwhile, leading Western analysts are saying the defection of Mr. Sharif indicates the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Hillary Clinton predicted Saturday that just electing her President will cut the price of oil.Well, witches do have magic powers...
When the world hears her commitment at her inauguration about ending American dependence on foreign fuel, Clinton says, oil-pumping countries will lower prices to stifle America's incentive to develop alternative energy.
"I predict to you, the oil-producing countries will drop the price of oil," Clinton said, speaking at the Manchester YWCA. "They will once again assume, once the cost pressure is off, Americans and our political process will recede."
Taking a break from the Iowa campaign trail, Huckabee delivered a Christmas season sermon at Cornerstone about Christ's birth and embraced Hagee, calling him "one of the great Christian leaders of our nation."Part of me wants to see Huckabee get the nomination. When he goes down in flames, maybe the GOP can finally wean itself off the influence of nutbars like these.
Hagee is a fiery preacher best known for his writings on the Middle East, where he reads contemporary events as unfolding Biblical prophecy. He is staunchly pro-Israel, saying that God had made his love for the land and its people clear.
The Catholic League says Hagee is virulently anti-Catholic -- a charge he denies -- and it is getting the word out that Huckabee is rubbing shoulders with an anti-Vatican figure.
Huckabee's campaign insisted his visit to Hagee's church should in no way be taken as a slight to Catholics.
"Three members of the senior leadership of the campaign are Catholic, including our national chairman. Gov. Huckabee is committed to being a leader of all Americans," said Charmaine Yoest, one of his senior advisers.
Tehran - Iranian police on Sunday were still puzzled over pornographic images broadcast on an LCD billboard in downtown Karaj, 30 kilometres west of Tehran, ISNA news agency reported. The images were shown for several seconds last week on the billboard - usually reserved for state-authorized advertisements - in Azadesgan Square in Karaj, causing surprise among the people in the square at that time.Maybe it was a new ad cmapaign: "Instead of blowing yourselves up for virgins in the afterlife, why not try the real thing instead?"
Pornography is an absolute taboo issue in Islamic Iran where any form of contact between men and women in films and TV series is censored.
In the first phase, an unidentified number of men, believed to be employed by the advertising company had been arrested but later on released after no evidence could be found on their computers, Tehran police chief General Reza Zarei said.
But after the incident, filmed with mobile devices by some Karaj citizens, the images were widely distributed via the Internet, and the same people were once again arrested and their office sealed, the police chief added.
However, it still remains unclear to the police and judiciary how the pornographic images got onto the billboard. There are speculations that somebody played a trick on the advertising company by putting the pictures on the company computer.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Valerie Begue has been told she should immediately take off her Miss France crown because of suggestive pictures published by a French magazine.Mon Dieu! France, what has happened to you?
Ms Begue - who became Miss France less than a fortnight ago - refused to resign, saying she had been betrayed.
She had returned on Thursday to an enthusiastic welcome on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
Before the competition, contestants guarantee that they have never been photographed in compromising positions.
One of the pictures shows her licking yoghurt provocatively, while another has her floating on a wooden cross in a swimming pool.
The President of the Miss France contest, Genevieve de Fontenay, went on French radio to insist that Valerie Begue would have to stand down.
If she did not, Ms de Fontenay said she would be stripped of her crown.
"She is in Reunion. Well, let her stay there," she said.
She went on to say that if she had been aware of the pictures, Ms Begue "would never have been let into the Miss France competition".
"Who is your favorite author?" Aleya Deatsch, 7, of West Des Moines asked Mr. Huckabee in one of those posing-like-a-shopping-mall-Santa moments.Well, C.S. Lewis requires a modicum of intelligence to understand.
Mr. Huckabee paused, then said his favorite author was Dr. Seuss.
In an interview afterward with the news media, Aleya said she was somewhat surprised. She thought the candidate would be reading at a higher level.
"My favorite author is C. S. Lewis," she said.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The leaders of 27 member states of the European Union met this month in Lisbon, Portugal, to sign a new constitutional treaty that will, they hope, replace the previous draft that was rejected in 2005. With his typical penchant for hyperbole, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso declared, "From this old continent, a new Europe is born." In fact, the planned ratification of the Lisbon Treaty smacks of old Europe - when the ruling elite got its way regardless of the wishes of the people over whom it ruled.Hey, you wanted a counterweight to the evil imperialist American Empire. You deal with the consequences.
The Lisbon Treaty is a major new step toward the United States of Europe. It would be reasonable to expect, therefore, for the people of Europe to be given a say over its adoption in national referenda. So far, only the government of Ireland, where the EU is very popular, has decided to hold a referendum. Other governments will try to ram the Treaty through national parliaments. This is a blatant attempt to short-circuit the political process in countries where the EU's popularity is on the decline.
Now, who are the real kooks here?
Washington, D.C. - Among the regulations packed into the newest energy bill that just passed Congress this week, a ban on the incandescent light bulb will officially end what Edison started 130 years ago. "If you outlaw light bulbs, then only outlaws will have light bulbs," says Libertarian Party Executive Director Shane Cory.
"The ban on incandescent light bulbs may seem almost comical," says Cory, "but it raises several red flags on the level of government intrusion in people's lives. From the toilets in your bathroom to the lights in your ceiling, there are very few consumer products free from some form of government regulation. I seriously doubt regulating light bulbs was intended to be a necessary-and-proper role of the federal government."
Incandescent light bulbs will begin to be phased out in 2012, with a complete ban finalized in 2014. Manufacturers will be forced to switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which can cost more than six times as much as the common incandescent bulb. While CFL bulbs are much more energy efficient, to maintain the bulb's longevity and achieve maximum efficiency, consumers must adhere to proper operating suggestions made by Congress, such as leaving the bulb turned on for at least 15 minutes.
"Not only do consumers have to alter how they use light in their houses, they must also take a number of precautions with CFL bulbs that were unnecessary when using incandescent bulbs," says Libertarian Party Media Coordinator Andrew Davis. "Because of the toxic levels of mercury in CFL bulbs, consumers will need to check with their waste management providers for proper disposal methods, and consumers will also have to research how to clean up broken bulbs. These bulbs may save energy in the long run, but at a great inconvenience to the consumer."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
LONDON - Syphilis is back: The sexually transmitted disease long associated with 19th Century bohemian life is making an alarming resurgence in Europe.But remember, like Michael Moore says, we should be more like them.
"Syphilis used to be a very rare disease," said Dr. Marita van de Laar, an expert in sexually transmitted diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. "I'm not sure we can say that anymore."
Most cases of syphilis are in men, and experts point to more risky sex among gay men as the chief cause for the resurgence. But more cases are being seen among heterosexuals, both men and women, too.
Syphilis was the sexual scourge of the 19th Century, and is believed to have killed artists like poet Charles Baudelaire, composer Robert Schumann, and painter Paul Gauguin. But the widespread use of penicillin in the 1950s all but wiped it out in the Western world.
In the last decade, however, syphilis has unexpectedly returned, driven by risky sexual behavior and outbreaks in major cities across Europe, including London, Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin.
Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.It looks like Al Gore's services won't be needed, after all.
The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.
Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel have been conducting regular, private phone conversations over the past few months in an effort to "feel each other out" for a possible presidential run, sources have told the Huffington Post.If you want boring and boring, this could be your ticket. It would be like John Anderson (remember him?) if he'd cloned himself.
It has been widely speculated that the two men could mount a third-party White House ticket. And while the maverick Republican and the independent mayor have met in the past, the private phone calls provide the clearest indication yet that they are considering such a move.
Sources with knowledge of the conversations say they usually occur every few weeks and always are done in private. As such, the topics of discussion remain unclear. But one high-ranking aide confirmed that they have discussed Hagel joining the presidential campaign should Bloomberg choose to run.
"It has to come from Bloomberg because Hagel can't really do anything," said the source, before adding that there was no indication that the two have declared a political alliance. A decision on whether to run will likely be made once the Democrats and Republicans have settled on a nominee.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly returned from a second trip to Iraq in five months encouraged that the mission there is going better and that by 2009 the U.S. military's role could be primarily as trainers and advisers.Gee, at this rate, Harry is going to have an audience of one. Oh, wait...
"I feel we've made progress, and the other part is I feel we can see an end game in sight," Donnelly, D-Ind., told reporters on a conference call Tuesday from Washington. "It isn't we just keep plugging away in the hopes something will turn out right. Gen. (David) Petraeus is working a plan and we seem to be heading toward a place where the Iraqis can be self-sustaining and we'll have a smaller presence in the background."
Donnelly's findings were in stark contrast to his visit to Iraq last July, when he said the only positive thing that happened in that country since the beginning of the war in March 2003 was the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
The White House and Congress delivered a heavy blow to the hopes of the U.S. science community yesterday as part of a long-delayed final agreement on the 2008 federal budget. As a result, what began as a year of soaring rhetoric in support of science seems likely to end with agency officials and research advocates shaking their heads and wondering what went wrong.Bear in mind that this happened under a Democratic-controlled Congress. Who needs fundamentalists when the other side is willing to do their work for them?
"It's like someone pulled the rug out from under us," says Samuel Rankin of the American Mathematical Society, who chairs the Coalition for National Science Funding. "It's pretty disappointing."
The $515 billion spending package takes a big bite out of President George W. Bush's promise--backed up by votes earlier this year in Congress--to give a substantial boost to the research budgets of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Instead, the agencies get meager increases--a portion of which is eaten up by projects earmarked by legislators for their constituents--or across-the-board cuts. The package also makes moot the double-digit hikes authorized for research, education and training, and investment in innovation spelled out in a 6-month-old law, the America COMPETES Act, that the community fought hard to pass (ScienceNOW, 3 August). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) would receive a 0.5% increase after high hopes for a slice that would at least keep up with inflation. Among the major science agencies, only NASA would receive the president's request--a 3% rise that is universally acknowledged as too little to handle all the projects in its pipeline.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve moved Tuesday to impose tough new restrictions meant to curb unfair and deceptive home-lending practices and prevent a recurrence of the meltdown in subprime mortgages this year.Call me skeptical, but is letting government get into the real estate business really such a good idea? The road to ehll, et cetera.
By a 5-to-0 vote, the Fed approved a plan that would tighten provisions meant to protect borrowers and apply them to a far larger share of home loans - whether from banks, mortgage companies or other lenders - than under current regulations.
The proposed rules underscore the more assertive role the Fed is now prepared to take in regulating lending, a big shift from the central bank's approach in the past. In general, the rules are meant to deter unscrupulous lenders from persuading people that they can afford loans that ought to be out of their reach. By extension, the rules are also intended to keep would-be buyers from deceiving themselves about the debt burdens they can shoulder.
HOUSTON (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Tuesday defended his Christmas ad amid suggestions that the ordained Baptist minister had gone too far mixing religion and politics.Mr. Donahue is right. Mike, you're running to be President of the United States, not Pastor-In-Chief. Showing the socon crowd that you've got real religious chops may help you in the primaries, but in the general election and as President that's not what people are going to care about. If I want religion, I can get it from the Bible, not from a politician.
The ad, which is airing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, shows Huckabee in front of a Christmas tree as he says, "Are you about worn out by all the television commercials you've been seeing, mostly about politics? Well, I don't blame you. At this time of year sometimes it's nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends."
Huckabee is courting evangelical voters and other religious conservatives in his bid to win the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3. In Texas for a fundraiser, he said the ad was a harmless holiday greeting even though it excludes other religions.
"If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can't say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other then we're really, really in trouble as a country," Huckabee said.
Catholic League president Bill Donahue said Huckabee went beyond wishing people a joyous holiday. Donahue said he was especially disturbed by the cross-like image created by a white bookcase in the background of the ad, saying he believed it was a subliminal message.
"What he's trying to say to the evangelicals in western Iowa (is): I'm the real thing," Donahue said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends. "You know what, sell yourself on your issues, not on what your religion is."
DANBURY -- A 33-year-old woman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault Saturday after allegedly groping a man playing Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall.It's the suit. Chicks dig the suit.
Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.
Two messages seeking comment were left on Lamy's answering machine.
Details leading up to the alleged fondling are sketchy.
"I don't know what the deal was. It was just bizarre," the mall Santa told a reporter, referring all other questions about the incident to Cherry Hill Photo, the company that runs the Danbury Fair mall Santa photo setup.
A 10-year-old Florida girl faces felony weapons charges after bringing a small steak knife to school to cut up her lunch, according to a report on WFTV.com.God only knows what they do to spitballers. Hard labor?
School officials say the Ocala 5th grader had brought a piece of steak for her lunch, and had brought a steak knife. According to the report, a couple of teachers took the utensil and called authorities, who arrested the girl and took her to the county’s juvenile assessment center.
"She did not use it inappropriately. She did not threaten anyone with it. She didn't pull it out and brandish it. Nothing of that nature," explained Marion County School Spokesman Kevin Christian, who added that it made no difference what the knife was being used for, they had no choice but to call police.
"Anytime there's a weapon on campus, yes, we have to report it and we aggressively report it because we don't want to take any chances, regardless," Christian said.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Republican White House contender Mike Huckabee refused to apologize Sunday after a rival accused him of insulting President George W. Bush by describing his foreign policy as "arrogant."No, it's one candidate expressing his opinion. The question is, why this guy should have a better shot at the nomination than Ron Paul, who has been saying much the same thing and who has been sounding far more like an actual conservative on many issues than either of these two guys.
Huckabee butted heads with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney after publishing a foreign policy paper calling for American foreign policy to change its "tone and attitude, open up, and reach out."
"The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad," the former Arkansas governor wrote in the journal Foreign Affairs.
"My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists," said Huckabee.
Romney, who has seen Huckabee surge past him in opinion polls with just three weeks until the first nominating contest in Iowa on January 3, expressed outrage at his rivals criticism of the Republican president.
"That's an insult to the president, and Mike Huckabee should apologize to the president," Romney told NBC television.
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- For years, the idea of taxing soda to beat back obesity has been tossed around in medical circles. But now, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a tax on beverages high in fructose corn syrup.And they said extortion couldn't be made legal.
Newsom says obesity accounts for tens of millions of dollars in city health care costs. He cites a recent San Francisco Health Department survey that found nearly a quarter of the city's 5th, 7th and 9th graders were overweight and that high sugar drinks make up a tenth of a kid's daily calorie count.
Newsom reportedly wants all big box retailers and chain drug stores to pay into his new "Shape up San Francisco" program, which started this past summer with a walking regimen.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today that he wept with relief when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon church, announced a 1978 revelation that the priesthood would no longer be denied to persons of African descent.Hmm, maybe a Romney/Huckabee ticket wouldn't be so bad. Romney could open the floodgates, and Huckabee could part them for him.
Romney’s eyes appeared to fill with tears as he discussed the emotional subject during a high-stakes appearance that he handled with no major blunders.
“I was anxious to see a change in my church,” said the Republican presidential candidate, appearing for the full hour just two weeks ahead of the crucial Iowa caucuses.
“I can remember when I heard about the change being made. I was driving home from — I think it was law school, but I was driving home — going through the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I heard it on the radio and I pulled over and literally wept.
“Even to this day, it’s emotional,” Romney went on.
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri said in a new video posted Monday that the United States is trying to hide its failures in Iraq and warned that the mujahedeen there are increasing in strength.Yes, it must be nice to write reports to yourself saying that you're winning. Delusion can go a long way.
"We are seeing a triple failure for the Americans in Iraq," al-Zawahri said in the 90-minute videotape. "No matter how much the gigantic propaganda machine in America tries to deceive the people, the reality is stronger and worse than all the deceptions."
He said U.S. forces were "defeated and looking for a way out," and Iraqi forces were unable to keep security.
Al-Zawahri denounced Sunni Arab tribal forces that the U.S. has backed in the fight against insurgent groups, calling them "traitors" to whom the Americans "pour oceans of bribes."
"The reports from Iraq tell of the growth of the mujahedeen and the collapse of the Americans' circumstances," al-Zawahri said.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Born in the 1970s, punk rockers purposefully sing off-color lyrics, wear politically incorrect labels, and stamp their bodies with tattoos in the name of individual freedom and opposition to the status quo. The Prophet Muhammad was punk, according to Knight, because he was a nonconformist who fought for what he believed. A growing number of young Muslims who resist their parents’ orthodox views, but also struggle with the values of their non-Muslim friends, are embracing punk. Muslim punk provides a place to forge a new identity for young Muslims confused about religion and their role in American society, particularly as they are bombarded by negative stereotypes of Muslims in a post-9/11 America. At the same time, Muslim punk offers a palpable way to express anger toward the orthodoxies of fundamentalist Islam.Like previous generations before them, these kids have discovered that music is still the best weapon against oppression. Fighting for the right to think for themselves and live their own lives. It sounds (dare I say it)...conservative.
CARACAS (Reuters) - A video of a Gucci- and Louis Vuitton-clad politician attacking capitalism then struggling to explain how his luxurious clothes square with his socialist beliefs has become an instant YouTube hit in Venezuela.Now why can't our own Hollywood hypocrites come up with an answer like that?
Venezuelan Interior Minister Pedro Carreno was momentarily at a loss for words when a journalist interrupted his speech and asked if it was not contradictory to criticize capitalism while wearing Gucci shoes and a tie made by Parisian luxury goods maker Louis Vuitton.
"I don't, uh ... I ... of course," stammered Carreno on Tuesday before regaining his composure. "It's not contradictory because I would like Venezuela to produce all this so I could buy stuff produced here instead of 95 percent of what we consume being imported."
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Friday he will declare a "fiscal emergency" in January to give him and the Legislature more power to deal with the state's growing deficit.A Republican who actually cares about cutting spending. Who'da thunk it?
Schwarzenegger made the announcement Friday after meeting with lawmakers and interest groups this week to tell them California's budget deficit is worse -- far worse -- than economists predicted just a few weeks ago.
The shortfall is not $10 billion, but more than $14 billion -- a 40 percent jump that would put it in orbit with some of the state's worst fiscal crisis, those who have met with him said.
A fiscal emergency would trigger a special session and force lawmakers and the governor to begin addressing the shortfall within 45 days.
"What we have to do is fix the budget system. The system itself needs to be fixed, and I think that this is a good year, this coming year, to fix it," Schwarzenegger said in Long Beach, where he was promoting his plan for health care reform.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Mike Huckabee, who has joked about his lack of foreign policy experience, is criticizing the Bush administration's efforts, denouncing a go-it-alone "arrogant bunker mentality" and questioning decisions on Iraq.This is not going to please the "Go to war and torture 'em now and ask questions later" crowd. He's starting to make too much sense.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor now running for the Republican presidential nomination, lays out a policy plan that is long on optimism but short on details in the January-February issue of the journal Foreign Affairs, which is published by the Council on Foreign Relations. A copy of his article was released Friday.
"American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out," Huckabee said. "The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad. My administration will recognize that the United States' main fight today does not pit us against the world but pits the world against the terrorists."
...Although we dedicate enormous resources to recruiting "human sources," there just aren't many good ones available. The central problem is that the people who actually know the secrets we'd be interested in aren't recruitable. Officials at the highest reaches of foreign governments have wealth and power and usually no compelling reason to put those at risk. The most knowledgeable members of terrorist groups are ideologically committed and aren't going to work for the CIA or anyone else.Therein lies the problem. The CIA was created as an information-gathering agency-but that was based on the assumption that you could get people to give you world-changing intel. But it's not like the FBI using informants to bring down criminal organizations. That's law enforcement. This is like getting somebody to tell on their boss-who in the employees' eyes could be doing things for legitimate reasons. In other words, one man's enemy government is another's employer.
Unfortunately, everyone expects the CIA to recruit sources with access to important secret intelligence, and both Congress and the public count it as a "human intelligence failure" when there aren't any such sources to tip us off before major events. After each of these "failures" -- the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Sept. 11 attacks, Iraq's non-weapons -- the usual suspects are trotted out to explain what happened: Cuts in CIA funding as far back as the Carter presidency devastated the Directorate of Operations (poor Stansfield Turner is still getting blamed for CIA failures 30 years after he reduced the number of overseas slots for case officers); case officers don't receive adequate language training; Anglo-American case officers can't pass for locals in the world's foreign bazaars; and the CIA uses inadequate cover arrangements for its officers abroad. But the actual explanation is much simpler: The CIA can't recruit top-quality agents because it isn't possible.
This does not mean that there isn't some useful intelligence to be gleaned from various human sources -- just that these sources aren't always going to be recruited agents and that they aren't going to prevent terrorist attacks or change the outcome of wars. Sympathetic Europeans who work at companies involved in the illicit transfer of nuclear components might help us understand how the underground nuclear supply chain works. Scientists who attend highly specialized conferences might glean valuable insights into foreign capabilities.
But the majority of CIA agents do not fall into even these less glamorous categories. Most are worthless as sources of information, mid-level bureaucrats with no access to vital intelligence. They are recruited to give case officers something to do...since recruiting truly valuable sources is close to impossible.
Mr. Paul isn't going to be president. He trails in national polls, in no small part because his lack of a proactive foreign policy makes him an unserious candidate in today's terror world. But his success still holds lessons for the leading Republican candidates, as well as those pundits falling for the argument that the future of the GOP rests in a "heroic conservatism" that embraces big government. Mr. Paul shows that the way to many Republican voters' hearts is still through a spirited belief in lower taxes and smaller government, with more state and individual rights.It's ironic that a man who, despite some of his views, sounds more like a Republican than Bush ever did and is now considered part of the fringe, while folks who were part of the fringe now represent the GOP base. It's as if the country-club liberalism of Rockefeller Republicans met the Jesus wing of the party, and they both decided to leave real conservatism behind in their quest to gain power. And we have all become the worse off because of it.
Yes, the Paul campaign--with its call to bring the troops home--is also profiting as the one landing pad in the GOP race for those Republicans and independents unhappy with the Iraq war. Mr. Paul's insistence that he isn't an "isolationist" so much as a "non-interventionist" who rejects nation-building has also won him voters who might otherwise have been wary of his passive foreign policy.
Still, it's Mr. Paul's small-government message that has defined him over the years, winning him election after election in Texas--well before Iraq was a question. His appeal has only grown, too, over seven years of a Bush presidency that has moved the party away from its limited-government roots.
"Compassionate conservatism" was a smart move on George W. Bush's part, maybe even necessary to win. The GOP was dogged by a reputation as the heartless party, amplified by the 1995 government shutdown and the clunky Dole campaign. And it had learned from the success of welfare reform that message matters. Many Republican voters believed Mr. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" was just that: a way of selling conservative reforms. Tax cuts would help the working poor. Vouchers would help minority kids. Charities would fare better getting people off drugs than government bureaucrats.
Mr. Bush got his tax cuts, but voters found out too late that he was no small-government believer. School vouchers were traded away for more education dollars. A new Medicare drug entitlement has added trillions to the burden on future taxpayers. Government-directed energy policy is larded with handouts to political patrons in the corn and ethanol lobbies. A lack of budget discipline encouraged a Republican Congress to go spend-crazy, stuffing bills with porky earmarks. Much of this was simply a Republican majority that had lost its way. But at least some of it was promoted by Bush advisers who specifically argued that "compassionate conservatism" was in fact a license to embrace government--so long as government was promoting Republican ideals.
That idea has become even more vogue, with a wing of the party now arguing that the small-government libertarianism that has defined the Republican Party since Goldwater is not only immoral, but an election-loser. Former Bush speechwriter Michael's Gerson's new book, "Heroic Conservatism," calls on Republicans to give in to big government and co-opt the tools of state for their own purposes. "If Republicans run in future elections with a simplistic, anti-government message, ignoring the poor, the addicted, and children at risk, they will lose, and they will deserve to lose," he writes. Then again, Republicans have already been losing, and losing big, in no small part because they've taken Mr. Gerson's advice.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Barack Obama has come from behind to turn the Democratic presidential race in New Hampshire into a toss-up, according to a new Monitor opinion poll. The results - which show Obama with a one-point edge over Hillary Clinton - mirror other polls released this week, indicating that Clinton's once-imposing lead has evaporated in the run-up to New Hampshire's Jan. 8 primary.Hillary had better hang onto that hope. Her biggest liability is herself-namely, that an overwhelming majority of people just don't like her. Obama, on the other hand, just oozes likeability. Hillary's spent so much of her life faking sincerity that she probably wouldn't know how to show the real thing if she tried.
The poll suggests that the Democratic race could hinge on the turnout of undeclared voters, who aren't registered with either political party. Much of Obama's backing comes from undeclared voters, while registered Democrats make up the bulk of Clinton's support. In New Hampshire, undeclared voters can vote in either party primary, giving them sway in both contests.
"The more undeclared voters that decide to vote in the Democratic primary, the better chance Obama wins," said Del Ali, president of Research 2000, the Maryland-based nonpartisan polling firm that conducted the poll for the Monitor on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. "What Hillary Clinton has to hope is that more of the established Democrats come out to vote."
BALI, Indonesia – A global tax on carbon dioxide emissions was urged to help save the Earth from catastrophic man-made global warming at the United Nations climate conference. A panel of UN participants on Thursday urged the adoption of a tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.”Call me crazy, but I think most of us living in those evil, polluting countries would not be too keen on paying taxes to some vague carbon enforcement entity. No De-Carbonization Without Representation!
“Finally someone will pay for these [climate related] costs,” Othmar Schwank, a global tax advocate, told Inhofe EPW Press Blog following the panel discussion titled “A Global CO2 Tax.” Schwank is a consultant with the Switzerland based Mauch Consulting firm
Schwank said at least “$10-$40 billion dollars per year” could be generated by the tax, and wealthy nations like the U.S. would bear the biggest burden based on the “polluters pay principle.”
Thursday, December 13, 2007
NEW YORK (CBS) ― The Reverend Al Sharpton is once again under federal investigation.What, he can't hustle himself out of this one?
Sharpton staffers were told to appear before a grand jury the day after Christmas and provide investigators with the reverend's financial records.
A fired-up Sharpton came out swinging Thursday after finding out that his non-profit National Action Network -- and possibly he himself -- is being investigated.
Sources tell CBS 2 HD federal tax agents are looking into the possibility the National Action Network co-mingled funds with Sharpton's presidential 2004 campaign.
"They have to do their job, and I have to do mine, but come on fellas," a defiant Sharpton said Thursday.
When Democrats took control of Congress in January, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) pledged to jointly push an ambitious agenda to counter 12 years of Republican control.Yeesh. At least when the Republicans were in the majority, they acted like they knew it.
Now, as Congress struggles to adjourn for Christmas, relations between House Democrats and their colleagues in the Senate have devolved into finger-pointing.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) accuses Senate Democratic leaders of developing "Stockholm syndrome," showing sympathy to their Republican captors by caving in on legislation to provide middle-class tax cuts paid for with tax increases on the super-rich, tying war funding to troop withdrawal timelines, and mandating renewable energy quotas. If Republicans want to filibuster a bill, Rangel said, Reid should keep the bill on the Senate floor and force the Republicans to talk it to death.
Reid, in turn, has taken to the Senate floor to criticize what he called the speaker's "iron hand" style of governance.
Democrats in each chamber are now blaming their colleagues in the other for the mess in which they find themselves. The predicament caused the majority party yesterday surrender to President Bush on domestic spending levels, drop a cherished renewable-energy mandate and move toward leaving a raft of high-profile legislation, from addressing the mortgage crisis to providing middle-class tax relief, undone or incomplete.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian police will crack down on women in Tehran flouting Islamic dress codes with winter fashions deemed immodest, such as tight trousers tucked into long boots, an officer was quoted as saying on Saturday.Up next: Declaring a fatwah on snow for daring to land on a Muslim man's head.
"Considering the start of the cold season and its special way of dressing, police will start early next week a drive against women who wear improper dress," Tehran police chief Ahmad Reza Radan was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
"Tight trousers tucked inside long boots while wearing short overcoats are against Islamic codes," the police chief said.
"Wearing a hat or cap instead of scarves is also against Islamic dress codes."
Police officials were not immediately available for comment. The Iranian week begins on Saturday.
DETROIT — A warning on a small tractor that reads "Danger: Avoid Death" has been chosen as the nation's wackiest warning label by an anti-lawsuit group.What we need is a way to keep people indoors all their lives, not allowed to touch or use anything unless it has been guaranteed for their safety. That'll make everyone happy.
The Wacky Warning Label Contest, now in its 11th year, is conducted by Novi-based Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch as part of an effort to show the effects of lawsuits on warning labels.
Kevin Soave of Farmington Hills, a Detroit suburb, won the $500 grand prize for submitting the winning label.
The $250 second place was given to Carrianne, Jacob and Robby Turin of Greensburg, Pa., for a label they found on an iron-on T-shirt transfer that warns: "Do not iron while wearing shirt."
Richard Goodnow of Lancaster, Mass., earned the $100 third-place prize for a label on a baby stroller featuring a small storage pouch that warns: "Do not put child in bag."
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A top adviser to Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign said Wednesday that Democrats should give more thought to Sen. Barack Obama's admissions of illegal drug use before they pick a presidential candidate.This from a guy who works for the wife of the former President who said he did not inhale. And he's worried about Obama being smeared? The Clintons are the kings of smear tactics.
Obama's campaign said the Clinton people were getting desperate. Clinton's campaign tried to distance itself from the remarks.
Bill Shaheen, a national co-chairman of Clinton's front-runner campaign, raised the issue during an interview with The Washington Post, posted on washingtonpost.com.
Shaheen, an attorney and veteran organizer, said much of Obama's background is unknown and could be a problem in November 2008 if he is the Democratic nominee. He said the Republicans would work hard to discover new aspects of Obama's admittedly spotty youth.
"It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" said Shaheen, whose wife Jeanne is the state's former governor and is running for the U.S. Senate next year.
"There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome," Shaheen said.
So, Mike is perfectly willing to give praise to God with his "Huckaboom," but seems somewhat ashamed or afraid of what people might find in his sermons from back in the day. That's the attitude of a guy with something to hide, not a man who wants to be President.
As Huckabee has surged to the front of the Republican pack in Iowa, his religious views have drawn media and voter attention. After all, Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, has been campaigning as a "Christian leader." But he has vacillated on how far to interject faith into politics. At an early debate, he indicated he does not believe in evolution, but at a more recent debate, when he was asked by Wolf Blitzer if the creation of the Earth occurred six thousand years ago and only took six days, as stated in the Old Testament, Huckabee said, "I don't know. I wasn't there." During a question-and-answer session with students at fundamentalist Liberty University last month, he asserted that his rise in the polls has an explanation that is "beyond human" and is due to the power of his supporters' prayers. Afterward, he backtracked slightly, adding, "I'm saying that when people pray, things happen.... I'm not saying that God wants me to be elected." (At a victory rally held after Huckabee won a 1993 special election for lieutenant governor, Huckabee told his supporters that he had only won because God had intervened, according to the Texarkana Gazette.)
With Huckabee walking this fine line, his campaign has declined to make available sermons that Huckabee delivered during his preaching days.
Before beginning his political career, Huckabee was a Southern Baptist minister for 12 years in his home state of Arkansas. He assumed the pastorate at Immanuel Baptist Church in the town of Pine Bluff in 1980, at the age of 25. Six years later, he moved to Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana. In both locations, Huckabee's energy, ambition, and skills as a communicator energized his congregation. Under his leadership, each church grew.
When asked for copies of the sermons Huckabee delivered at Immanuel Church, an employee there claimed none could be found. A Beech Street Church pastor's assistant maintained that much of the archival material from Huckabee's tenure as pastor had been destroyed during a remodeling. The rest, she said, was not available to the press.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Eat up, shop fast and move along.I don't know about this. It would seem that deciding to eat a McDonald's hamburger would be punishment enough.
That's the message some stores and fast-food establishments, including McDonald's, is giving its customers in England.
The restrictions were put in place because people were abusing parking privileges at the establishments, a spokeswoman for McDonald's told The Guardian.
If customers decide not to pay the fine, the fee rises and they are threatened with court action, the newspaper reported.
MEXICO CITY — A murder suspect dubbed "the cannibal" was found dead in his prison cell of an apparent suicide Tuesday, two months after police found cooked and seasoned bits of his girlfriend's corpse on a fork and plate in his apartment.Now he can serve as wormfood. Slugs eating a slug. How appropriate.
Jose Luis Calva, a self-proclaimed poet and dramatist suspected in at least three murders, was found hanging from his belt in his Mexico City jail cell Tuesday morning, the city department of corrections said in a statement.
The man routinely referred to as "the cannibal" by Mexican news media had been working on a book about himself at the time of his death.
The United States gave its blessing Monday to a civilian nuclear energy deal between France and Libya, saying it expected its former foe to respect its decision to renounce weapons of mass destruction.Now, in light of the now-notorious NIE report, can anyone still claim that we can't get Iran to do the same thing that we have been able to get North Korea and Lybia to do without firing a shot?
"In light of Libya's historic decision in 2003 to rid itself of its WMD programs, we expect any cooperation with Libya on a peaceful secure and responsible use of nuclear power to be consistent with the highest standard of non-proliferation," said Kurtis Cooper, a State Department spokesman.
France announced plans to sell nuclear reactors to Libya as well as 10 billion euros of trade deals, as President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi on Monday for a five-day visit.
**Exclusive**I have to say that the way he's running now, Huckabee would deserve to lose. I vote for President, not Pastor.
Democrat party officials are avoiding any and all criticism of Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, insiders reveal.
The Democratic National Committee has told staffers to hold all fire, until he secures the party's nomination.
The directive has come down from the highest levels within the party, according to a top source.
Within the DNC, Huckabee is known as the "glass jaw -- and they're just waiting to break it."
Friends and classmates of a 16-year-old girl who police say was murdered by her devout Muslim father in a Toronto suburb told local media Tuesday she was killed for not wearing a hijab.Ah, diversity.
Police said in a statement they received an emergency call at 7:55 am local time Monday from "a man who indicated that he had just killed his daughter."
The victim, Aqsa Parvez, was "rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, but tragically passed away late last night."
Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, was arrested at the scene and will be formally charged with murder when he appears in court Wednesday, said police.
The girl's friends, meanwhile, told local media she was having trouble at home because she did not conform to the family's religious beliefs and refused to wear a traditional Islamic head scarf, or hijab.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Human evolution has been moving at breakneck speed in the past several thousand years, far from plodding along as some scientists had thought, researchers said on Monday.Well, if Michael Moore is any indication, there are still a few throwbacks in society...
In fact, people today are genetically more different from people living 5,000 years ago than those humans were different from the Neanderthals who vanished 30,000 years ago, according to anthropologist John Hawks of the University of Wisconsin.
The genetic changes have related to numerous different human characteristics, the researchers said.
Many of the recent genetic changes reflect differences in the human diet brought on by agriculture, as well as resistance to epidemic diseases that became mass killers following the growth of human civilizations, the researchers said.
Monday, December 10, 2007
OSLO, Norway (AP) - Al Gore received his Nobel Peace Prize on Monday and urged the United States and China to make the boldest moves on climate change or "stand accountable before history for their failure to act."And what kind of rallying cries should be used for this new "War?" "Don't Carbon On Me?"
In accepting the prize he shared with the U.N. climate panel, the former vice president said humanity risks sliding down a path of "mutually assured destruction."
"It is time to make peace with the planet," Gore said in his acceptance speech that quoted Churchill, Gandhi and the Bible. "We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war."
Compassionate conservatism on steroids. Welcome to the modern Republican Party, folks.
"Government knows it does not have the answer, but it's arrogant and acts as though it does," Huckabee said. "Church does have the answer but will cowardly deny that it does and wonder when the world will be changed."
The shootings were just one more wake-up call to the nation, he said.
"I fear we will turn and hit the snooze button one more time and lose this great republic of ours."
Huckabee said ungiving individuals are responsible for higher taxes.
"I'm often asked why taxes are so high and government is so big. It's because the faith we have in local churches has become so small. If we'd been doing what we should have -- giving a dime from every dollar to help the widows, the orphans and the poor -- we now wouldn't be giving nearly 50 cents of every dollar to a government that's doing ... what we should have been doing all along."
Huckabee also explained why he left pastoring for politics.
"I didn't get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn't have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives."
He compared his entry into politics to "getting inside the dragon's belly," adding, "There's not one thing we can do in those marbled halls and domed capitols that can equal what's done when Jesus touches the lives of a sinner."
The most basic unit of government is not the city council, quorum court or state legislature, Huckabee said. "It is Mom and Dad raising kids and teaching them respect for authority, others and God."
The nation has descended gradually into crisis, Huckabee said, and repairing the damage needs to be gradual, too. He said the solution is simple: faith in Christ.
"I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ."
Sunday, December 09, 2007
WASHINGTON — As security improves in Iraq, pressure is building to reverse one of the most onerous decisions Defense Secretary Robert Gates made to enable President Bush's troop buildup to go forward this year: extending the tours of active-duty soldiers from 12 months to 15 months.Remember the days when any change in stategy (or "Strategery" as Bush might say) was regarded as defeatism at best? Since the surge seems to have worked, is too late to offer some of those "Defeatists" an apology?
The extra three months is a weighty burden, both physically and psychologically, for soldiers already stressed by multiple tours, and on families coping with strains that have mounted since the war began in 2003.
"We can't sustain that," Gen. George Casey, who was the top U.S. commander in Iraq before becoming the Army chief of staff at the Pentagon in April, said recently. "We have to come off that." He said a decision on cutting tour lengths could be announced in three months or four months.
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.This in no way excuses the Republican pro-torture lobby, of course. But it goes a long way in explaining why the Democrats have been all talk and no action when it comes to the war.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The blast occurred in Kandahar, south of Kandahar city on a road frequently used by NATO and police forces, he said.
In Musa Qala, ground forces surrounded the area and airstrikes targeted militants inside the town in the southern province of Helmand, defense ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said. Thanks for the early Christmas present, doofuses. By all means, keep 'em coming.
As a candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, Huckabee answered 229 questions submitted to him by The Associated Press. Besides a quarantine, Huckabee suggested that Hollywood celebrities fund AIDS research from their own pockets, rather than federal health agencies.
Huckabee said Saturday that his comments came at a time when the public was still learning about HIV and AIDS and promised to do "everything possible to transform the promise of a vaccine and a cure into reality." So, maybe he has seen the light. But the kind of ignorance he expressed fifteen years ago is tough to overcome.
Friday, December 07, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) - Cracks are emerging in congressional Democrats' solidarity, as frustrated lawmakers concede their majority status is not enough to overcome Republican resistance on taxes, spending, Iraq and a host of other issues.
The fissures, which became obvious this week, are undermining Democrats' hopes for several key achievements this year. They also point to a bruising 2008 election in which Democrats will say Republicans blocked prudent tax and spending plans to score political points on immigration and other hot-button issues.
Republicans say they simply want to prevent higher taxes of any kind, even if the targets are not-so-sympathetic groups such as oil companies and hedge fund managers. If the Republicans are serious they just might get me to start voting for them again. It would be nice.