Saturday, April 26, 2003

The FBI has a sleek, new (and informative) web site that provides information on the war against terror. On the site, it allows you to play an audio-video presentation of highlights of its counterterrorism efforts. Oddly (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), the presentation flashes to a photo of President Bush and Corretta Scott King unveiling a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just as the narrator voices over these words, "The FBI also has nearly a century of experience at working in the boundaries of the Constitution, working to protect the civil liberties of all Americans."

The FBI fails to note during the presentation that while J. Edgar Hoover ran the bureau, during its "nearly a century of experience at working in the boundaries of the Constitution," it maintained questionable - if not appalling - wiretaps on King to monitor his personal life. The wiretaps were approved by then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Not a very good juxtaposition for a Justice Department that is hoping to extend key measures of the Patriot Act.

Freaky Zeeky, RIP. It's not exactly the safest time to be a rapper. (Has it ever been safe?)

The U.S. Senate gets back to work Monday, after a long Easter Break. On the agenda: whether to confirm Jeffrey Sutton, President Bush's nominee to the federal bench's Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Look for more of the left vs. right social arguments, as the National Organization for Women indicates its suspicious of him because he has no record on abortion. has another biography of Sutton.

In all probablility, Sutton will be "Estrada'd," meaning Democratic senators won't say publicly they are blocking his confirmation on ideological grounds. They'll probably take their cue from NOW and filibuster his nomination, saying they call his lack of an abortion record "troubling."

Friday, April 25, 2003

Rockin' and Rollin' in the Granite State

This weekend, in New Hampshire, according to the state Democratic organization's web site:

April 25: Carroll County Democrats' Grover Cleveland Dinner, featuring U.S. Sen. John Kerry, Grand Hotel in North Conway.
April 26: Cheshire Democrats Spaghetti Dinner, featuring U.S. Sen. John Edwards, Masonic Hall, West St., Keene. More details to come.

One gets the feeling that Edwards' campaign for president might not make it through Labor Day, with one well-publicized misstep after another. (Shady campaign contributions from a Little Rock law firm, high-profile defections from his campaign to others, etc.) However, Kerry's campaign style has the feel of blind man walking through a mine field. Consider: Kerry called for Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., to step down from a senate leadership position because of his remarks to an AP reporter that likened homosexuality to bigamy, incest, etc. But Kerry's got his own dancing to do in that area; he's never embraced the idea of gays in the military and anyone who wants to make mischief for him could bring that question back up during the 2004 campaign.

New York Social Diary writes that, yesterday, it was Barbara Streisand's birthday. She's 61.

The latest Gallup numbers may show some contradictions: The president still has great approval ratings at 70 percent, but "economic confidence ratings" are only at 27 percent. Overall, most people (55 percent) are satisfied with the state of the country.

Everything is relative. Post Sept. 11, priorities are a lot different. The poll numbers seem to say: Yeah, the economy stinks. But compared to how bad things could really be, we're doing OK. Does that mean President Bush is immune to tough economic numbers as he heads into re-election? Probably to a degree, as long as we keep winning the war on terror. That's the prism through which all other issues will be colored. If we get Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, or if Iran falls, that will take the edge off a lot of other problems.

The latest Gallup numbers may show some contradictions: The president still has great approval ratings at 70 percent, but "economic confidence ratings" are only at 27 percent. Overall, most people (55 percent) are satisfied with the state of the country.

Everything is relative. Post Sept. 11, priorities are a lot different. The poll numbers seem to say: Yeah, the economy stinks. But compared to how bad things could really be, we're doing OK. Does that mean President Bush is immune to tough economic numbers as he heads into re-election? Probably to a degree, as long as we keep winning the war on terror. That's the prism through which all other issues will be colored. If we get Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, or if Iran falls, that will take the edge off a lot of other problems.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The capture of Tariq Aziz probably means Saddam and his serial rapist sons will be captured within 48-72 hours if they're alive. It's clear that Central Command is now working off primo intelligence. And the taking of Aziz into custody sends a message to the Islamist terror axis that this is, in fact, the big roundup. That Aziz gave himself up also has to be absolutely deflating to anyone who supported the regime.
Teresa Heinz isn't the typical political wife. The widow of the late Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, who died in a plane crash, and heir to his fortune, she later married another senator, John Kerry, in 1993. Kerry is now the Democratic frontrunner, and has made it clear he may tap into his wife's fortune to finance his run. (She was a Republican when she was married to Heinz, and switched to the Democratic party before Kerry's run.)

Among other things, Teresa Heinz is the CEO and chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation, a $69 million charitable organization that hands out millions each year in philanthropic gifts for arts, education and research. A look at the foundation's finances from 2001 (which you can view here in .PDF form) shows contributions that almost never stray out of those areas. Among those winning some of the foundation's charity is the United Nations Foundation (which received $1,000 in 2001.)

A week after the Saddam statue came down in Baghdad, President Bush's approval rating remained at 71 percent, according to Gallup. That's 20 percent higher than Sept. 10. Since Iraq, as a headline, is moving quickly down the page, if the president's rating is going to drop, it would start dropping any minute now. "If."

There are 239 "suspected" or "probable" cases of SARS in the U.S., with only 37 of them "probable," according to data put out by the Center for Disease Control. It's still confined almost entirely to those who've traveled to infected Asian countries, people with family members who have been there, or health workers who've treated SARS patients.

The Times writes that the Justice Department is investigating contributions to Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign, from employees of an Arkansas law firm.

Presidential candidates should be required to prevent the words "Arkansas law firm" from appearing anywhere near "presidential campaign" if they want to win.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

And the biggest fish of the day:


Statement by CENTCOM director of Strategic Communications Jim Wilkinson:

“Today, Coalition Special Operations Forces conducted an operation in Baghdad and successfully captured SALIM SA’ID KHALAF AL-JUMAYLI, the former Chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service American Desk. He is suspected of having knowledge of Iraqi Intelligence Service activities in the United States, including names of persons spying for Iraq. There was one enemy casualty and no friendly casualties.”

It'd be a safe bet that a few people here in the States won't be getting a restful sleep tonight. The great thing is about these types of captures, is they lead to other captures, and so on. All in all, it's probably not the best of times to be a terrorist, Saddam sympathizer or anti-American spy. Good.

This just in from Centcom:


CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – Three additional members of the Iraqi Top 55 list are now in Coalition control.
Muzahim Sa’b Hassan al-Tikriti is under Coalition control. He is the Air Defense Force Commander and No. 10 on the U.S. Central Command ‘Iraqi Top 55’ list.
Zuhayr Talib Abd al Sattar al Naqib is under Coalition control. He is the Director of Military Intelligence and No. 21 on the U.S. Central Command ‘Iraqi Top 55’ list.
Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih is under Coalition control. He is the Minister of Trade and No. 48 on the U.S. Central Command ‘Iraqi Top 55’ list.
(Emphasis added)

The fact that Coalition forces now have the "minister of trade" under control could turn out to be significant, especially if he turns chatty on relations with France, Germany and Russia. It's somewhat surprising that the Air Defense Force Commander, Muzahim Sa’b Hassan, was even allowed to live by Saddam, given that Iraq, basically, had no air defense during the war. is not a valid email address anymore.

Says the Mailer-Daemon:

This user doesn't have a account

An AP story now says that Iraqi scientists were destroying "bacteria and equipment" and bio-weapon precursors sometimes hours before U.N. inspectors arrived, the scientists and some of their students said in interviews:

"The order was to hide anything that might make the inspectors suspicious. Any bacterium, any fungus. I destroyed seven petri dishes in the autoclave and I put the others in the trunk of my car."

When inspections ended in the days before the war began, Iraqi scientists were still refusing to meet with weapons inspectors independently.

Rep. Dick Gephardt, who's in New York today unveiling a new health care proposal. While he's had less success in fundraising and in the early, pre-primary polling in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination, he's had much success in national T.V. expsosure. According to a campaign email to supporters, Gephardt's health plan will unfold today as such:

Gephardt will deliver a speech at 1199 SEIU to unveil details of his plan to provide quality health insurance to all working Americans through a new health care tax credit for employers. Gephardt’s plan would both cover the uninsured and provide economic stimulus by putting more money in workers’ pockets, increasing worker productivity and freeing employers who already provide health insurance coverage to make other investments to grow their businesses.

When put in the context of Sen. Joe Lieberman's plan to use tax breaks for small businesses to buy information technology equipment, it's clear that the Democrats are not opposed to proposing tax cuts for certain groups of voters. Just not all Americans.

Speaking of guilt by association, Maureen Dowd is playing the Newt Gingrich card in her column this morning.

It's becoming a clear point of attack against President Bush, now that the war against Iraq was successful and polls show Americans aren't getting that doomsday feel on the economy: Guilt by association. If you can't throw mud at President Bush (73 percent of Americans approve of how he's done his job), find someone who most Americans hate who is a registered Republican, and start mentioning their names in the same paragraph. A lot.

"We're being fed another line of baloney by the Newt-Gingrich-Joe-McCarthy-Herbert-Hoover-Ed-Meese-George-W.-Bush Republican party."

The Trent Lott "issue" last year will look like a Tupperware Party next to the developing Rick Santorum "issue."

It's probably not a good strategy. These games can cut both ways, even against the Barney-Frank-Al-Sharpton-Bill-Clinton-Jim-Guy-Tucker-Dan-Rostenkowski Democratic party.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Howard Dean just sent out invitations to a $1,000- and $250-a-head fundraiser in New York City next week, headlined by Whoopi Goldberg and Melissa Etheridge. Meanwhile, he and Sen. John Kerry have turned their attention to political issues outside of the economy or national security: both are calling for GOP Sen .Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to quit a leadership position because he said of a Texas legal dispute before the U.S. Supreme Court:

"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything,"

Dean, for one, favors a "guilt-by-association" response to the issue in linking Santorum's remarks to President Bush:

The silence with which President Bush and the Republican Party leadership have greeted Sen. Santorum’s remarks is deafening. It is the same silence that greeted Senator Lott’s offensive remarks in December. It is a silence that implicitly condones a policy of domestic divisiveness, a policy that seeks to divide Americans again and again on the basis of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation.

Republicans are taking a less aggressive approach to Dean, opting not to criticize the former Vermont governor for remaining silent on Saddam Hussein's crimes against humanity and poor "love-nest" decorating style, among other things.

From the 'Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out' Department:

U.N. Weapons Inspector Hans Blix says it'll be sayonara when his contract expires in June, according to the U.N. news service:

Mr. Blix said he was bowing out in June when his contract expired.

Gen. Garner appears to have been greeted much more warmly by the Kurds today than he was by some in Baghdad, according to pool reports of his visit there.

Garner's message to the Iraqi's today was a bit on the populist side:

"You are the youth of Iraq
"You are going to lead Iraq
"You will govern new Iraq.
"You will raise your children in new Iraq and you will give birth to new Iraq.

After 35 years of torment, there's a definite sense in the reports that they have to see it to believe it. But there's also the sense that they're hopeful.

Today's story in The Times on President Bush's re-election plans for 2004 is going to provide ammo to the president's opponents, especially on the issue of holding the GOP convention in New York as close as possible to the Sept. 11 anniversary. Regardless, the convention would have been close to the anniversary, but it's not the best timing.

The funniest part of the story, though, is a quote from one Bush advisor on potential Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry: "He looks French."

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who is running for president, campaigned in New Hampshire yesterday.

According to the Manchester Union Leader,, Lieberman said he would help boost the economy by proposing a 20 percent tax break for information technology purchases, with special credits for small business.

Lieberman doesn't really need to propose that, since President Bush has a proposal to let small businesses boost their capital expense deduction from $25K per year to $75K per year - a proposal that Lieberman opposes.

Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof, in his column in today's Times, admits he miscalculated the war in Iraq. Well, sort of. Kristof describes many Iraqis as showing contempt for Americans.

Once their lights go back on, they go back to their jobs, start making money and realize they can speak without having their tongues cut out, that should change, though.

"Slowy but surely" Iraq is getting its power back, as an American engineer notes in this pool report from Gen. Jay Garner's first day in Baghdad:

"Yesterday there were about 100,000 more people with power than there were the day before."

It appears the work ahead of them is extensive, though. Between shelling during the war, and vandalism afterward, a lot of power lines need to be replaced. As the lights go back on, people go back to work and start making money, the mood should improve by light years.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Gary Hart offers a brutal assessment of past (and current?) Democratic party strategy:

Not too long ago Democrats thought they could win on economics ("It's the economy, stupid"). But, while we are generally given slightly more favorable marks on economic fairness, we are way behind with voters on confidence in our strength to manage America's role in the world and our knowledge of how, when, and where to use military force. In the age of globalization and the information revolution, we can't just "change the subject" and hope to win.

Hart has yet to say whether or not he'll run for the Democratic nomination for president, but already he's picking up support without even officially campaigning. Says today's Concord (N.H.) Monitor:
Hart's party again needs a change of direction. He should run for president because he can help make it happen.

Were he to run, he'd be the only candidate not just pitching a reform of American economic and foreign policy, he'd be the only candidate pitching a reform of the Democratic party.

Rand has just published a new, detailed study on mathematics education in our schools. Among other things, the think tank finds:

Although the educational system has always produced some mathematically proficient individuals, now every student must be mathematically competent.

After much research, the organization found that more emphasis needs to be put on teaching the teachers to teach correctly, and figure out how to make math education relevant. To read a summary of the report, or the whole thing, you can find it listed on the Rand web site.

Funerals for fallen G.I.s aren't the only things that Sen. John Kerry has missed while campaigning. According to this AP story, which is running in the New Hampshire press, Kerry missed a January vote to travel to Florida on a campaign trip to meet with a teacher's union. That same day, a measure in the Senate to raise funding for education and medicaid was defeated by a couple of votes. He missed a second vote, a few weeks later, to fully fund President Bush's education reforms. That measure also failed by a couple of votes.

Baghdad Bob has gotten a new job, with Happy Fun Pundit.

According to the New York Times' Judith Miller, an Iraqi weapons scientist has provided a smoking gun. He's shown Coalition forces where chemical agent precursors are, said Iraq ditched some weapons in the days before the war and even started to form ties to Al Qaeda.

Before the war, U.N. Weapons Inspectors, though complaining, found no success in convincing Iraqi scientsts to speak independently about Saddam's WMD programs. Other Iraqi scientists - once afraid to talk about the WMD - now must be afraid not to talk about them.

There's no ditching your war criminal past, not in the U.S., at least.

The Justice Department says its convinced a deportation court to throw Theodor Szehinskyj out of the country: Szehinskyj guarded a Nazi death camp during World War II, preventing prisoners about to be killed from escaping.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Bad P.R. for Sen. John Kerry, courtesy of Drudge.

Kerry is the best-financed candidate, and, so far, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes. His campaign schedule does not yet indicate when he'll be getting out of his own way, however.

Howard Dean's grass roots effort appears to be holding its own in New Hampshire.
The Iraqi National Congress has captured the 9 of Clubs, Saddam's Deputy Head of Tribal Affairs:

CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar -- The Iraqi National Congress has reported they have Jamal Nustafa Abdullah Sultan al Tikriti and that they are turning him over to Coalition forces in Baghdad.
He is No. 40 on the U.S. Central Command ‘Iraqi Top 55’ list. CENTCOM officials have no confirmation, but are looking into these claims.

UPDATE: Not only is he Saddam's Deputy Head of Tribal Affairs, he's Saddam's son-in-law and the one son-in-law who Saddam didn't have shot in the back of the head. According to Fox News, he was in Damascas, Syria when he decided to give himself up. Which is an interesting development, since Syria initially denied they were harboring any top Iraqi officials.

For those coming to this web log seeking a definition of Red Meat...

According to the U.S.D.A.'s Food Safety and Inspection Service:

Why is Beef Called a "Red" Meat?
Oxygen is delivered to muscles by the red cells in the blood. One of the proteins in meat, myoglobin, holds the oxygen in the muscle. The amount of myoglobin in animal muscles determines the color of meat. Beef is called a "red" meat because it contains more myoglobin than chicken or fish. Other "red" meats are veal, lamb, and pork.

There. Now, while you're here, you can feel free to check out the other stuff that gets written about on this web log.

Jeff Jarvis calls observations in today's Times about the anti-war movement's head scratching - over how it lost public opinion - "rich and creamy understatement."

The National Organization for Women is coming to the aid of accused wife-killer Scott Peterson, according to this story.

More detail of crimes against humanity in Iraq, this time from Newsweek:

“Tell the world what happened here."

Today's Newsday writes one of the most telling and vivid stories of why the war was not only justifiable, but necessary:

A Regime of Torture