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12/24/2006
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
CATEGORY: General

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

By: Rick Moran at 12:15 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

Doug Ross @ Journal linked with Paging Judith Regan: Books on my Amazon Wish-List
12/22/2006
IG REPORT ON BERGER’S THEFT AN EYE OPENER
CATEGORY: Ethics, Government

He can’t be prosecuted a second time thanks to the double jeopardy clause in the Constitution. But if half of what the Inspector General’s report on Sandy Berger’s escapades at the National Archives can be believed, the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton has a lot to answer for – if not to the law, then certainly to history and the American people.

Berger robbed the American people of the only thing owned by all of us; our shared experiences as a nation. His destruction of documents relating to the Millennium Plot will make that event a little less understandable, a little less clear when historians 50 years from now try and pick up the thread of all that transpired during that time.

A small event in the sweep of history, yes. But no historical event exists as an island. What knowledge we lose from our incomplete picture of the response to the Millennium Plot ripples across other events and prevents us from fully understanding our past in a way that was entirely avoidable and largely without precedent.

From the Executive Summary of the Inspector General’s report, we learn that it was not simply copies of the Millennium Plot After Action Report (MAAR) and “notes in the margins” that were stolen and destroyed as we were originally led to believe. In fact, the MAAR was an attachment to each document taken. There were four separate emails with the attachment, the contents of each not being revealed (for obvious reasons).

This information throws the entire Berger incident into a totally new light. Richard Minter of Pajamas Media, who has the PDF file of the IG report available for download:

What was role of Omar Bashir, President of the Sudan, and his relationship to Berger and President Clinton during the days when he offered to cooperate in the capture of Osama Bin Laden?

What was in the ten to twenty pages of notes Berger is believed to have taken out of the reviewing room against regulations during his first session?

Who was the person or persons Berger contacted during the numerous “private cell phone calls” he was allowed to make during his active review of the classified documents?

Exactly what was in the documents Berger stole from the archives, some of which he has confessed to destroying?

Did Berger have an accomplice? If the person on the other end of those phone conversations knew what he was doing, it would seem logical that he/she would be open to aiding and abetting a crime. There is nothing in the IG report that I can see where any attempt was made to discover who Berger was making all those phone calls to.

Minter speculated on air today that one of the documents removed and destroyed by Berger was a 1995 letter from Bashir to Clinton offering to hand Osama Bin Laden over to us. What would the 9/11 Commission have had to say about this? Would it have altered their final report?

Probably not, which makes these revelations perhaps more of an historical curiosity than anything else. I doubt whether it would have altered any perceptions by the American people about whose failures were responsible for 9/11 and how much blame should be assigned to both Clinton and President Bush. Al-Qaeda would not have disappeared even if we had gotten a hold of Bin Laden. And radical Islamists would have continued plotting against America regardless of his fate.

But none of this lessens the outrage we should feel against Berger. The man might not have to face a court of law again for the crime. But the government can certainly revisit his paltry 3 year national security clearance suspension. Given the facts of the case, there should be no reason why the government shouldn’t make Mr. Berger permanently ineligible to review classified material.

And any Democratic presidential candidate who would use Mr. Berger as an advisor is opening themselves up to well deserved criticism for having such an untrustworthy person as an aide.

Berger should be banished to the outer darkness of the national security establishment for what he’s done. Unfortunately, he will still pull down five figure speaking fees and be in demand as a lecturer and talking head on cable news shows. It is we, the American people who will be poorer for Mr. Berger’s crimes – acts for which he has yet to show much remorse much less being shamed for what he’s taken from all of us.

By: Rick Moran at 6:44 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (14)

The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 12/26/2006
Cao's Blog linked with News bits
Doug Ross @ Journal linked with The Sandy Berger Thought Experiment
Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Report: Ex-Clinton Aide Hid Documents
WHAT IRAN WANTS
CATEGORY: General

Flynt Leverett, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council and Hillary Mann, a former Foreign Service officer who participated in the United States discussions with Iran from 2001 to 2003, have published a redacted version of an OP-Ed they wrote for the New York Times a few weeks ago that the White House nixed for what appears to be rather specious reasons.

The White House won’t say why they stifled the piece and the authors predictably plead persecution. It could very well be that given the most recent military moves in the Persian Gulf that the White House didn’t want to send the regime mixed signals or, more prosaically, some bureaucrat overstepped their authority.

Regardless, the Op-Ed is instructive in that it gives a short history of Iranian-US relations over the past decade or so while urging the Administration to initiate dialogue with the regime.

The rehash of history is interesting in that while highlighting American “failures” by the last three Presidents to take advantage of diplomatic openings, the piece neglects to mention a few salient facts about what the Iranian regime was up to over the same period that made talking to the fanatics in Tehran extremely problematic.

Assassinations, sponsorship of several terrorist organizations who attacked western interests as well as Israel, unremitting hateful rhetoric spewing from the leadership about “The Great Satan” (even the so-called “moderate” Khatami consistently referred to America this way), and their not very secret push to acquire nuclear weapons indicated that any talks with Iran to “normalize” relations would be an exercise in surrender diplomacy – in effect, handing the Iranians a diplomatic victory by making their criminal and warlike behavior pay big financial and economic dividends.

So what’s changed in the last few years?

Iraq, obviously. But here’s what Leverett/Flynn have to say about the Iranians helping us out in Iraq:

Iran will not help the United States in Iraq because it wants to avoid chaos there; Tehran is well positioned to defend its interests in Iraq unilaterally as America flounders. Similarly, Iran will not accept strategically meaningful limits on its nuclear capabilities for a package of economic and technological goodies.

Iran will only cooperate with the United States, whether in Iraq or on the nuclear issue, as part of a broader rapprochement addressing its core security concerns. This requires extension of a United States security guarantee — effectively, an American commitment not to use force to change the borders or form of government of the Islamic Republic — bolstered by the prospect of lifting United States unilateral sanctions and normalizing bilateral relations. This is something no United States administration has ever offered, and that the Bush administration has explicitly refused to consider.

Indeed, no administration would be able to provide a security guarantee unless United States concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities, regional role and support for terrorist organizations were definitively addressed. That is why, at this juncture, resolving any of the significant bilateral differences between the United States and Iran inevitably requires resolving all of them. Implementing the reciprocal commitments entailed in a “grand bargain” would almost certainly play out over time and in phases, but all of the commitments would be agreed up front as a package, so that both sides would know what they were getting.

If their analysis is correct, one might legitimately ask why bother? By the time any kind of a “Grand Bargain” was struck, either Iraq would be somewhat pacified or in even worse shape than it is today. If we’re not looking to talk to Iran about what they can do in the immediate future to help tamp down the violence, then we’re back to where we were prior to the war; deciding whether or not to deal with a state that insists on operating outside the norms of civilized behavior.

I see the efficacy of talking to Iran in a regional context regarding Iraqi security. And reality demands that we recognize that the Iranians have once again become a dominant player in the region – perhaps the most dominant. But “normalizing” relations with an abnormal state would be an exercise in futility. Perhaps we should ask those who so eagerly seek direct negotiations with the Iranians why the US must be the one to make concessions while Iranian support for terror groups like Hizbullah continue to sow political discord in Lebanon and their nuclear program continues to make progress – something the Iranians have made crystal clear is not even on the table at the beginning of any talks.

There is one element in the Leverett/Flynn proposal I find intriguing; a guarantee of sovereignty for the Iranian state: A promise by America not to attempt to overthrow the regime and not destroy their nuclear program.

The second part of that diplomatic equation would be that we would ask in exchange a halt in their enrichment activities under IAEA supervision and a halt to their clandestine assistance to the insurgents and militias in Iraq.

Before the howls of protest erupt over this “surrender,” I would like to point out that we’re doing precious little at the moment in assisting elements in Iran who seek regime change anyway while the bombing option will cause more problems than it will solve. For a discussion of some of those problems, you might want to take a look at this post I did last April about the pros and cons of bombing.

The historical forces at work in Iran – demographics as well as a massive unease and chafing at the rule of the mullahs – could mean that changes might be on the way faster than we dare hope. Michael Ledeen:

The recent protest on the campus of Amir Kamir University in Tehran was no surprise; Iran is constantly riven by public demonstrations against the regime. The news was not the demonstration, but the amount of attention it received. Why this one and not the scores of others? The answer, I think, is that this protest was covered by the official Iranian media, which made it safe for foreign correspondents to report it. And why did the official media cover it? Because it was the first move in a campaign—culminating in the “election results”—to demystify Ahmadinejad and his messianic allies, one of whom had declared himself a candidate to succeed Khamenei. So Act One was the protest and Act Two was the “election.” Maybe there will be a third act, maybe not.

At the same time, Act One served another function: it helped the thugs in Tehran identify the current student activists. “The Amir Kabir Newsletter,” as reported by the intrepid passionaria of the Iranian-American community, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, says that the student demonstrators have gone into hiding, most notably the student who bravely held up the sign “Fascist president, you don’t belong at the polytechnic.” Thoughtlessly, various foreign newspapers published his photograph.

This is a dangerous game for the regime to play, and the repression at Amir Kabir provoked, of all people, Italian Youth and Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri, to call for a demonstration in Rome, supporting the Iranian students. Another demonstration is scheduled for tonight, sponsored by a truly bipartisan group of young people, including Jewish organizations already enraged by the Holocaust Conference.

It is possible that the mullahs are feeling a little less secure in their position lately. If so, we may be able to extract some of what we want from them by offering something that they have made clear they would like; a guarantee of sovereignty.

Not the “Grand Bargain” offered up by Leverett/Flynn. But then, the idea that we’d unfreeze Iranian assets and allow that regime into the World Trade Organization while it builds nuclear weapons and undermines other nations is ridiculous – despite the author’s protestations that no agreement would be reached unless all issues had been agreed to “up front.” As the Iranians have proved with IAEA, they are perfectly capable of delaying inspections and hiding parts of their program as well. That’s why de-coupling Iraq and the nuclear issue from the normalization process is what the Administration has had in mind all along. If the Iranians prove they can be trusted, other issues can then be brought to the table. But the mullahs have a long way to go to earn that kind of trust.

Talking is always better than bombing – especially if you can achieve more by talking than you can by bombing. I don’t know if the latter is true as it relates to Iran but I know that it would be unconscionable not to try.

By: Rick Moran at 8:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

Doug Ross @ Journal linked with AP whitewashes Ahmadinejad (again)
12/21/2006
THE COUNCIL HAS SPOKEN

The votes are in from this week’s Watchers Council and the winner in the Council category is newbie Andrew Olmsted for “The Peace Myth.” Finishing second was Soccer Dad for “Baker’s Bad Recipe.”

Finishing first in the non Council category was “The Clash of Convictions and the Remaking of the World of Wars” from Winds of Change.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say hello to the newest Council member, Colossus of Rhodey who will take the place of the departing Shrinkwrapped. Good luck to the good doctor in his future endeavors.

And if you’d like to participate in the weekly Watchers vote, go here and follow instructions.

By: Rick Moran at 4:10 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

THE DARK SIDE OF “TRADITIONAL VALUES”
CATEGORY: Ethics, History, Politics

It’s bad enough when some B-List blogger and wacko talking head like Debbie Schussel runs off at the mouth about the danger of electing Muslims. That kind of idiocy can be partly ascribed to Ms. Schussel’s desire to move up the blogging ladder, bashing Muslims being a quick way to fame and fortune when plumbing the extreme depths of the conservative sphere for audience and links.

But when a Congressman of the United States sends a letter to his constituents that raises the false specter of some kind of Muslim invasion of Congress while simultaneously warning that “traditional” values would be threatened by Muslim immigration, it forces me once again to take up the Cudgel of Righteousness (already bloodied from yesterday’s pummeling of Schussel) and give Representative Virgil Goode, Jr. a few well deserved whacks upside the head:

In a letter sent to hundreds of voters this month, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., Republican of Virginia, warned that the recent election of the first Muslim to Congress posed a serious threat to the nation’s traditional values.

Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., left, said Keith Ellison’s decision to use a Koran in a private swearing in for the House of Representatives was a mistake.
Mr. Goode was referring to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat and criminal defense lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student and was elected to the House in November. Mr. Ellison’s plan to use the Koran during his private swearing-in ceremony in January had outraged some Virginia voters, prompting Mr. Goode to issue a written response to them, a spokesman for Mr. Goode said.

In his letter, which was dated Dec. 5, Mr. Goode said that Americans needed to “wake up” or else there would “likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”

“I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped,” said Mr. Goode, who vowed to use the Bible when taking his own oath of office.

In taking the good Mr. Goode to task for this stupidity, allow me first to slap all of you lefties around a bit for once again overgeneralizing when it comes to Values Conservatives by attempting to make the bad Mr. Goode a poster boy of sorts for that constituency.

Goode isn’t even a good example of an extremist. That’s because his letter is so transparently a political calculation that it doesn’t even come off as sincere. No Congressman can be this stupid, can they?

Mr. Goode declined Wednesday to comment on his letter, which quickly stirred a furor among some Congressional Democrats and Muslim Americans, who accused him of bigotry and intolerance.

They noted that the Constitution specifically bars any religious screening of members of Congress and that the actual swearing in of those lawmakers occurs without any religious texts. The use of the Bible or Koran occurs only in private ceremonial events that take place after lawmakers have officially sworn to uphold the Constitution.

Mr. Ellison dismissed Mr. Goode’s comments, saying they seemed ill informed about his personal origins as well as about Constitutional protections of religious freedom. “I’m not an immigrant,” added Mr. Ellison, who traces his American ancestors back to 1742. “I’m an African-American.”

Goode’s spokesman has informed us that the Congressman actually is that stupid; he declines to apologize and “stands by” the letter.

Of course, such incidents help Ellison enormously. They allow him to appear the reasonable, bemused, aggrieved party while anyone who has a passing familiarity with the devastating series of articles published by the Powerline boys knows that “reasonable” is not the way to describe many of the new Congressman’s views.

But beyond the shameless, shallow pandering by Goode is a revealed truth; that too often Republican politicians are using this “traditional values” theme to capitalize on some unimagined fear as in the case of Goode and his phantom Muslims. We also see other individual groups like gays targeted as somehow being in conflict with traditional American values – as if these values are practiced by people solely as a result of their religion, sexual orientation, ethnic heritage, or any other qualifier that a politician seeks to use to drive a wedge between us.

There are plenty of gay people who practice what, by any definition would be “traditional” American values. They are as monogamous as heterosexual couples. They raise children. They are god fearing folk. The cry when the flag passes in front of them. They fight and die for their country. Aside from their sexual orientation, there is absolutely nothing to differentiate them from your average Joe American. (Don’t believe me? Visit Gay Patriot and any one of a number of Republican/center right gay blogs and read a little bit about what they believe.) And yet, because of the actions of some so-called “Gay Rights” groups – who are much more about advancing a leftist agenda then they are about advancing gay rights – most conservatives look with distrust upon gays who believe in traditional American values.

There are traditional values that are under attack – but not by gays, or Muslims, or any specific group. Rather it is leftist ideology that seeks to remove religion from public life not separate it as they claim. It is leftist cant that seeks to change the narrative of our nation’s founding, substituting the basest of motives for Independence instead of the truly heroic and improbable way our freedom was achieved. The left has spent the last 40 years degrading our culture, denigrating our heroes, altering our history, deriding the simplicity and patriotism of the most common of folk among us, and in the end, trying to tear down 200 years of tradition and decency that our ancestors fought to pass down to the rest of us.

Whether this is their intent or not is a moot point. Their actions are having this affect. Whether it is the “no holds barred, anything goes” cesspool of a culture they have created via Hollywood or, in the name of “civil rights,” erecting a structure of separateness and discrimination via “affirmative action,” the left has done its best to destroy what many Americans cherish and believe in.

But none of this excuses idiots like Goode – and many others who use the battle cry of “Traditional Values” to advance their own agendas – from responsibility for engendering fear and loathing among those who are susceptible to the siren call of nativism. This strain has a long, dishonorable history in America, going back to the first days of the Republic when the first wave of immigrants began to unload onto the docks in New York and Boston. Then it was mostly Swiss and Germans with a smattering of Scots and Irish. Later waves of Irish immigrants would raise the spectre of not only aliens who didn’t possess “American values” but arrivals who were papists to boot. And each successive wave, the nativist impulse would rear its ugly head and find something scary and alien about the newcomers.

Goode is no different. From his letter:

“We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy . . . allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country,” Goode said in the letter. “I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America.”

Right out of the nativist playbook.

I’m all for controlling our borders. I’m all for enforcing the law. But I am also in favor of increasing legal immigration. If someone wishes to go through the bureaucratic rigmarole that it takes to get here legally and then work toward citizenship, that alone should denote a person’s interest in the “traditional values” of America. There are plenty of Muslims here today – second and third generation Muslims – who embrace the same values you and I do and are no more a threat to those values than my pet cat Snowball.

For Goode to posit the notion that Muslims are incapable of adopting and embracing traditional values not only flies in the face of history and everything we know about immigrants but also bespeaks a shallow and corrupt mind, incapable of grasping the shining truth about America as a melting pot that embraces all cultures and ethnic groups.

And that may be the most traditional of all American values.

By: Rick Moran at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (50)

Andrew Olmsted dot com linked with Belated Watch
Rhymes With Right linked with Watcher's Council Results
The COLOSSUS OF RHODEY linked with The Council has spoken!
The Glittering Eye linked with Eye on the Watcher’s Council
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Pajamas Media linked with The Dark Side of Traditional "Values":
BOEHLERT MISSING THE POINT ABOUT AP SOURCING
CATEGORY: Media, Middle East

As the quest to unravel the mystery surrounding Captain Jamil Hussein as a source for approximately 61 AP stories originating from Iraq continues, several critics from the left have weighed in to denounce the effort – most by using the curious logic that it doesn’t really matter, that things are so bad in Iraq what’s the difference if a couple of stories turn out to be created out of whole cloth by the enemy?

Things are bad in Iraq as every blogger who has taken an interest in this story has been constrained to point out. And in the grand scheme of things, whether or not the AP has been a tool for enemy propaganda – willing or unwilling – is not the point either. For myself, I assume that the AP is in the same boat as other western news outlets when it comes to reporting from Iraq, albeit given their extensive contacts and experience in the region, probably not as beholden to “stringers” for getting the facts for a story as others.

What is at issue here and why the stakes are so high is so simple that one would think that both left and right could agree on the vital importance of getting to the bottom of the Captain Hussein mystery; to discover the facts of the matter.

Will this discovery alter the outcome of the war? Of course not. Will it ruin AP if it is discovered that Hussein is either an insurgent plant or a non-existent source, a Jayson Blaired construct without flesh and bones, existing as a convenient catch-all pseudonymous source for particularly ghastly rumored attacks on innocents? Probably not, although it might cause the AP to become a little more careful in the sourcing.

Why then?

Eric Boehlert thinks he has the answer:

The warbloggers’ strawman is built around the claim that if the AP hadn’t reported the Burned Alive story, which was no more than a few sentences within a larger here’s-the-carnage-from-Baghdad-today article, then Americans would still gladly support the war in Iraq. That it was somehow the contested Burned Alive story that swung public opinion on Iraq, not the three years’ worth of bad news.

Chasing the Burned Alive story down a rabbit’s hole, giddy warbloggers deliberately ignore the hundreds of Iraqi civilians who are killed each week, the thousands who are injured, and the tens of thousands who try to flee the disintegrating country. None of that matters. Only Burned Alive matters, as if an AP retraction would change a thing on the ground in Baghdad, where electricity remains scarce, but sectarian death squads roam freely.

Boehlert might want to rethink that first sentence. In fact, the burning Sunnis was the lead story in hundreds of newspapers around the world. It was headline news in dozens of prominent dailies here in the United States (including the Suburban Daily Herald in my neck of the woods). His contention that it was “no more than a few sentences” is absurd on its face and bespeaks either an extraordinary ignorance of the facts or a deliberate attempt to downplay how the story was disseminated.

But why the superficial, shallow, needlessly partisan, and, in the end, stupid charge that bloggers who are covering this story wish to discredit the AP in order to reverse the slide in public support for the war? What bloggers are after here is the same thing that bloggers wanted from CBS following the Dan Rather TANG documents scandal; an acknowledgement of error. The AP has relied on Captain Hussein as either an eyewitness source or as a knowledgeable spokesman for violent incidents in Iraq going back at least to April. Trying to get to the bottom of who or what Hussein is would seem to be a job tailor made for blogs – right or left.

The larger issues at play in this story should be of concern to every blogger, indeed every American who is a consumer of news. And at the top of the list of questions is does the AP really care if they get it right? It appears to me that their double checking on the accuracy of the story in question was cursory and designed to confirm what had been written rather than approach the story afresh in order to see if their sources were correct. We know now, for instance, that at least two of the mosques that were supposedly burned in the original AP story are still standing and still open – the only damage being some bullet holes in the facade.

And their interviewing of “new” witnesses to the atrocity was revealing; the AP swears that their stories were all consistent with the facts that were reported. I daresay that this should have set off a bunch of red flags to begin with; a first year journalism student knows that eyewitness testimony tends to vary wildly from person to person. And in this case – interviewing witnesses 4 days after the story broke and was featured on al-Jazeera as well as other Arab media – one wonders how much these eyewitnesses actually “witnessed” and how much they gleaned from broadcast media about the story. No word from the AP whether they even tried to determine if their “witnesses” were cross contaminated in this way.

But this is not central to either Boehlert’s argument nor my criticism of his ridiculously flawed and over-generalized piece. For instance, Boehlert links to this Bob Owen piece about the incident where the blogger asks a legitimate question:

This presents us with the unsettling possibility that the Associated Press has no idea how much of the news it has reported out of Iraq since the 2003 invasion is in fact real, and how much they reported was propaganda. they failure of accountability here is potentially of epic proportions.

When producer Mary Mapes and anchor Dan Rather ran faked Texas Air National Guard records on 60 Minutes, it was undoubtedly the largest news media scandal of 2004, and yet, it was an isolated scandal, identified within hours, affecting one network and one show in particular.

This developing Associated Press implosion may go back as far as two years, affecting as many as 60 stories from just this one allegedly fake policeman alone. And Jamil Hussein is just one of more than a dozen potentially fake Iraqi policemen used in news reports the AP disseminates around the world. This does not begin to attempt to account for non-offical sources which the AP will have an even harder time substantiating. Quite literally, almost all AP reporting from Iraq not verified from reporters of other news organizations is now suspect, and with good reason.

Why does Boehlert fail to mention that Captain Hussein is a featured source in more than 60 AP stories? Because it ruins his thesis that it is this one story pursued by conservative bloggers is just a question of “holding the AP accountable for questionable sourcing in an isolated incident…” Is Boehlert really this stupid or, like many in the media, is he simply lazy and won’t address the massive implications involved in generating fake news from a war zone?

At the risk of being redundant (something I feel constrained to do given the short attention span and limited reading skills of most of the lefties who visit this site), I will say again the unraveling of this mystery – even if it implicates the AP in years of selling the American public fake news – does not change anything on the ground in Iraq now and would not have changed the attitudes of the American public regarding the war. The people of the United States are a lot smarter than your average lefty and don’t need either enemy propaganda coming from the AP or liberals glorifying our mistakes and blunders in Iraq to know that we are failing there.

But Owens has hit the nail on the head; the only asset that the Associated Press has is its credibility. If it can be shown that Jamil Hussein is a fake or doesn’t exist, where does that leave AP’s coverage of the war over the last three years? How do you separate the facts from what might be propaganda? It’s a question Boehlert doesn’t even bother to address because his mission is to slime “warbloggers” as he calls them by over generalizing and ascribing non-existent motives to their efforts.

And in the process of pooh-poohing the efforts of those who are attempting to get the facts on Hussein, Boehlert also misses a story that would reveal the inner workings of the media and answer some fairly basic questions that absolutely no one connected with any major media outlet has deemed it important enough to answer. That is, the use of local “stringers” to gather the news that western reporters, due to the extraordinary danger of the war zone, cannot gather for themselves.

Boehlert rightly points out that we don’t give enough credit to the dangers faced by western reporters in Iraq. He highlights the death of an Associated Press Television News cameraman Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah, who was killed in Mosul while filming a gun battle between police and insurgents. Boehlert informs us that Mr. Lutfallah’s death brings the total of journalists and others associated with the media killed in Iraq to 129. Even for the locals, it is an incredibly dangerous place to work.

And, as I’ve written before during the Jill Carroll hostage story and in numerous other posts, the process of gathering facts, writing a story, vetting sources, and meeting a deadline is so hazardous that the media’s reliance on stringers is an absolute necessity. Otherwise, the only news we’d be getting would be from press releases by CENTCOM and the Iraqi government. No one wants that – despite Mr. Boehlert’s hysterically off-base arguments to the contrary.

But as citizens interested in the news, we have a right and, indeed, an obligation, to demand that media outlets using stringers answer a few basic questions about them. We can certainly understand why their real names can’t be used or why they would be withheld. But we can ask about their credentials, their experience, the vetting of sources by both the reporter on the scene and the editor back home, and a dozen other noteworthy issues that bloggers have raised about them.

Boehlert is so busy trashing conservative bloggers and trying to demonize their motives that he’s missing a great story that Captain Hussein is only a part. And writing for a publication that ostensibly deals with issues relating to the media, it is unbelievable that he dismisses the questions raised in the course of reporting on this story. They go to the heart of media credibility and believability and have nothing whatsoever to do with trying to place blame for the American public’s attitudes toward the war on the shoulders of the men and women trying to do an impossible job under the most trying of circumstances.

The incuriousness of Boehlert and the rest of the left regarding how news is collected and disseminated from the war zone is telling. Perhaps they are afraid that if they scratch too deep, some of their own cherished notions about the media and maybe even the war itself will have to change.

UPDATE

Michelle Malkin has the latest on who is Jamil Hussein.

The Baghdad-based CPATT officer says there is no “Sgt. Jamil Hussein” at Yarmouk, which contradicts what Marc Danziger’s contacts found. I have another military source on the ground who works with the Iraqi Army (separate and apart from the CPATT sources) and is checking into whether anyone named “Jamil Hussein” has ever worked at Yarmouk.

There is only one police officer whose first name is “Jamil” currently working at the Khadra station, according to my CPATT sources.

His name is Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim (alternate spelling per CPATT is “Ghulaim.”) Previously, Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim worked at a precinct in Yarmouk, according to the CPATT sources. Curt at Flopping Aces has received the same info.

Now, go back and look at the full name and location information the Associated Press cited in its statement on the matter:

[T]hat captain has long been know to the AP reporters and has had a record of reliability and truthfulness. He has been based at the police station at Yarmouk, and more recently at al-Khadra, another Baghdad district, and has been interviewed by the AP several times at his office and by telephone. His full name is Jamil Gholaiem Hussein.

Let’s review: AP’s source, supposedly named “Jamil Gholaiem Hussein,” used to work at Yarmouk but now works at al Khadra. CPATT says the one person named “Jamil” now at al Khadra—Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim—also used to work at Yarmouk. His rank is the same as that of AP’s alleged source. His last name is almost identical to the middle name of AP’s alleged source. (FYI: In Arabic, the middle name is one’s father’s name; the last name is one’s grandfather’s.)

According to the CPATT officers, Captain Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim “denies ever speaking to the AP or any other media.” I retracted information to the contrary two days ago based on a single CPATT source who said he had erroneously stated that Gulaim had admitted being the source.

If I might venture a little informed speculation…

It is an extremely hazardous business, this transliteration of turning Arabic names into English. As a frequent reader of English language Arabic media sites including The Daily Star, Naharnet, Ya Libnan, al-Jazeera, and Palestine Times, it is amazing the different spellings one comes across for the same proper names and names of organizations.

One example is “Hizbullah.” This is the way that the Daily Star spells the name of the terrorist group. But look at the alternate spellings I’ve come across both in western and Arab media:

Hizbollah
Hezbollah
Hizballah
Hezballah
Hezb’allah
Hizb’allah

The same issues arises with the spelling of the Lebanese Prime Minister’s name:

Siniora
Seniora
Saniora

Is this entire issue a translation problem? I think Malkin has almost totally knocked that issue down although I think we should wait to see if AP has any response whatsoever to what Michelle has discovered. But I find it tantalizing that the spelling of the two names could be so close, even if the individual denies talking to the AP. There are numerous reasons why he might make such a denial, including the fact that he might be in hot water if he did speak to the press without authorization. But then why use his name in the stories?

The AP, of course, could solve this mystery by simply producing Captain/Mister/Sergeant Hussein. Since they haven’t so far, either they are unable to do so or won’t because doing so would place the man in danger (Again, then why publish his name in the first place?). Or, they’re just being stubborn and don’;t want to give in to a bunch of pajama clad bloggers.

UPDATE II

Allah roasts Boehlert slowly on a spit over a hot fire.

One would think that a “Media Critic” would want to, you know, criticize the media once and a while rather than attack his ideological opponents using so many strawmen that one would think the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz had gotten a hold of a Star Trek replicator and populated the countryside with copies of himself.

By: Rick Moran at 8:22 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (11)

The Possum Bistro linked with Playing the Fool
Classical Values linked with my foam flecked frenzy over fictional facts
search resource linked with search resource
The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 12/21/2006
12/20/2006
OBAMA FAILS RELIGIOUS TEST: SCHLUSSEL
CATEGORY: Ethics

Senator Barak Obama may as well save his time and money and abandon any thoughts he may have had about being President of the United States.

You see, the internet’s Mother Superior of Religious Intolerance and Hysterical Exaggeration has decided that Obama can’t pass muster when it comes to the Constitution’s well known and time honored religious test.

If you are unfamiliar with this test, don’t worry. Our Holy Mother will shine the light of extraordinary ignorance on your confusion and the obfuscated will become opaque. Just don’t get slimed by the nauseating bigotry oozing from every word:

His full name—as by now you have probably heard—is Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Hussein is a Muslim name, which comes from the name of Ali’s son—Hussein Ibn Ali. And Obama is named after his late Kenyan father, the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim.

And while Obama may not identify as a Muslim, that’s not how the Arab and Muslim Streets see it. In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he’s a Christian, but they do not.

How to dissect this idiocy? A better question might be, why bother?

Answering the latter question is easy; because when you ignore bigotry like this, you in effect become part of the problem. Especially if you have a voice to denounce it. This blog may be small (and getting smaller) but as long as I have one reader who will listen, I will always speak out when I believe someone has crossed the line. And Saint Debbie has proved once again that logic and reality take a back seat to unbridled fear and loathing.

To wit:

So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father’s heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?

First of all, my middle name is David. Since everyone knows that David was a mighty King of the Jews (“Once a Jew, always a Jew”), perhaps Rebbi Debbie could explain how my Jewishness has affected my ideology and character.

What’s that? I was born a Christian so we’re talking about a different kettle of fish? Since even Ms. Schlussel doesn’t know whether or not Obama’s father was in fact, a Muslim (“the late Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., apparently a Muslim…”), how does she know that Obama’s father didn’t give him the middle name of one of his close relatives who may have been Muslim and hence, the appellation was passed from father to son by tradition and not as a result of any religious significance?

I know that injecting a little logic into this story might cause Debbie’s head to explode but really, what does it matter if Obama’s father or grandfather or his second cousin twice removed on his mother’s side were Muslims? Senator Obama identifies himself as a Christian. And since we’re still poring over the constitution looking for the verbiage that states no Muslim can ascend to high office, maybe we should just accept Obama at his word that he doesn’t keep a blood soaked copy of the Koran in his Senate desk nor does he attend secret meetings of al-Qaeda on his lunch breaks.

And the leap of illogic made by Schlussel that because Obama’s father may have been Muslim that we must then ask “where will his loyalties be” reeks of bigotry and is pretty damned ignorant to boot. Perhaps we should have a loyalty oath for all Muslims in America – even the armed forces. We will allow Muslims to fight and die for their country but, just to be on the safe side, make them swear that they won’t behead any of their comrades in their sleep nor will they proselytize for their religion. And if that’s not good enough for Schlussel, maybe we could assign a reliable Christian officer to keep an eye on them lest they switch sides in the middle of a battle.

One question: Will they take the oath of allegiance on the bible or the Koran? Maybe we should ask Dennis Prager. He and Schlussel should be great pals given that they see eye to eye on the “Muslim Question” in America.

I swore to myself that after the Jill Carroll nuttiness, I’d never link to a Debbie Schlussel post again. But this foolishness is so far beyond the pale of rational discourse that it merits me breaking that promise. The idea that having a Muslim father or even being a Muslim oneself disqualifies anyone from high office is so foreign to the very ideas that gave birth to this country that one wonders whether Schlussel can truly grasp the insult she does and the hurt she causes by even suggesting the idea.

Yes there are radical Muslims who hate us and wish to kill us all (not too many from Kenya, by the way). To be so ignorant as to say that Obama is “is now moving in the direction of his father’s heritage” without one shred of evidence that this is so and to hint that this deserves our disapprobation in the first place puts Schlussel and all who agree with her in a very dark place where bigotry and fear rule the mind rather than reason and logic.

Enough, Debbie. Crawl back under your rock and commune with the other slugs and slimy things who would defile the body politic with unreasoning ignorance and hate. You have proven once again that appealing to the lowest common denominator among conservatives may be a path to readership and links but is a poor substitute for the light of reason and tolerance that should be the hallmark of real conservatives.

UPDATE

Baldilocks (who doesn’t write half as much as most of us would like her to) gives it to Schlussel and the paranoid right with both barrels in “A Warning to the Right”:

I’m tired of the insinuations about Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) because his dead father was a Muslim. I’m tired of the insinuations about his middle name—Hussein—and the racist/bigoted insinuations that I’ve seen on the Right that flow from there. I’m even tired of the assertion that the senator isn’t even really a black American (whatever that means to a group of people who are demonstrably of mixed-race for the most part) because he has a white mother and a non-American black—i.e. African—father and, yes, since his father and my father were/are of the same tribe and nationality, I take that last bit of information quite personally.

Like me, Senator Obama wasn’t even raised by his biological father* and, though he had an Indonesian step-father who was probably a Muslim, he says that he is a Christian. And, like me, Obama has been long interested in knowing more about his heritage—probably since, like me, Obama was born and raised here in our beloved USA with a zero amount of it, outside of our middle and surnames. And, unlike most black Americans, the senator and I are blessed enough to know at least some part of our African heritage—something that is very prized among the mostly slave-descended black American population.

But Debbie Schussel determines such interest as something else. Well, guess what. I was raised as a Muslim also. My mother and (black American) step-father subscribed to the creed of the Nation of Islam back in the day. And like Obama, I went to a Muslim school—for longer than he did. I even have a high school diploma from Clara Muhammad Elementary and Secondary School, obtained when I was fifteen, since the school didn’t take summer breaks.

Baldilocks is a retired Air Force Reserve officer. Maybe Schlussel wants to question her patriotism and ask where her “loyalties” lie?

UPDATE II

With a predictability that would put a laxative to shame, the left holds up Schlussel’s severed head and proclaims her “Queen of the Conservative Blogosphere.”

I hate to bust up this self-congratulatory party fellas but if you bother to read any of the conservative blogs linking to Schussel’s piece, you would notice one curious thread that connects all of them:

Every single conservative or right of center blog that links to the piece strongly criticizes Schlussel for her bigotry and stupidity.

Duh.

By: Rick Moran at 6:37 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (41)

ReidBlog linked with The first casualty of Obama
Sister Toldjah linked with On criticism of the media and blogs
Blogs of War linked with Barack Hussein Obama - It’s the Record, Not the Name
Rhymes With Right linked with Debbie Schlussel -- Princess Of Hate
The Thunder Run linked with Web Reconnaissance for 12/20/2006
12/19/2006
LOOKING INTO THE FACE OF ETERNITY
CATEGORY: Science, Space

This picture and what it represents gives me goosebumps:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

TO A casual observer it could be the psychedelic creation of a mischievous puppy that has dipped its paws in paint. But it may be one of the most extraordinary pictures ever snapped.

It is, scientists said yesterday, the glow from the first things to form in the universe, more than 13 billion years ago. Snapped by NASA’s Spitzer space telescope, the bizarre objects must have existed within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

An Australian astrophysicist, Ray Norris, said the NASA team may have found “the holy grail” of astronomy.

What the ancient objects are remains a mystery. One possibility is stars, the first to light up after the dawn of time. They would have been “humungous”, said NASA, “more than 1000 times the mass of our sun”. Or they may be “voracious black holes”. While black holes are invisible, heat emitted by matter plunging into them can be detected.

“Whatever these objects are,” said Alexander Kashlinsky, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, “they are intrinsically incredibly bright and very different from anything in existence today.” The image was made by Spitzer shooting pictures of five areas of the sky. All light from stars and galaxies in the foreground was then removed, leaving only the ancient infrared glow.

Those photons of light in the above picture travelled 13.7 billion years to end up on my little old blog. To someone like me, a scientific dunce but an enthusiast nonetheless, it’s things like this that make me wish I worked harder in school and applied myself more – especially in math. If you’ve ever read Stephen Hawkings A Brief History of Time or Timothy Ferris’ The Whole Shebang, you realize just how extraordinary the universe really is. And judging by this picture, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s out there and what awaits us as we begin in earnest to reach out and touch the face of eternity.

By: Rick Moran at 6:41 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

Doug Ross @ Journal linked with Bonaduce vs. Connor, part II
CROCODILE TEARS FROM THE LEFT
CATEGORY: Politics

In a long, sometimes contradictory, typically incoherent post, Christy Hardin Smith is crying crocodile tears over the “loss of American influence” in the world.

One would think, judging from the rhetoric and actions of the left over the last 50 years, that she and her fellow liberals would be jumping for joy. The goal of liberal foreign policy has always been a reduction in American influence in the world. Cut the military, unilaterally disarm, rein in the multinationals, do what the United Nations says, and generally grovel at the feet of every thug, dictator, and unelected royal who happens to mention either “colonialism” or the CIA has been, for all intents and purposes, liberal foreign policy goals for more than a generation.

So why the long faces now?

The myth of American superiority has been punctured, most likely irreparably, by the idiocy of George Bush’s policies and failures. Nations which once worked with us — not just because we were working on issues of import to them, but also because it was in their long-term interest to do so with a nation which controlled so much of the economic and military and other resources throughout the world, as well as had its finger on the pulse of so many spheres of influence at once…all of these nations have learned to get by without having to rely on any favor from the United States whatsoever.

Diplomacy is not just negotiating for what you want. It is also maintaining a balance of relationships, a level of trust, and a constant stream of ties that bind one nation to another. This ensures a long-term level of relationships on which we ought to be able to rely when problems — both big and small — crop up, be they in individual nations, regionally, or globally.

The Bush Administration’s disdain for such diplomacy has wrought a whole series of changes to the global system of interdependence and ties — and the web has re-woven itself. But instead of including the strands that the United States had for some many, many years assiduously guarded and jealously built and re-built time and time again, the Bush Administration has allowed many of them to fray, some of them to break — and all of them to become redundant to other lines that have now been built as detours around us.

First of all, allow me to comment on the logic and perspicuity of this extraordinarily convoluted and bizarre reasoning:

Huh?

What “myth” of American superiority is she talking about? Is that the “myth” of a $12 trillion economy? Or maybe it’s the “myth” of the only military on the planet that can project its power to all corners of the globe in a matter of days – even hours?

Couldn’t be the “myth” of our dominant culture, language, arts, sciences, and blue jeans, could it? It seems so recently that the left was skewering America for being too powerful, too dominant. The were imploring American companies to stop being so competitive. They were criticizing Hollywood for making too many movies and TV shows that everyone in the world wanted to watch. They were lambasting American workers for being the most productive on the planet .(Well… maybe they didn’t go that far).

Now that we’re cut down to size – at least according to Smith – one would think that the left would be turning handsprings and jumping for joy.

And as far as this “irreparable”(?) puncture of the “myth” of American superiority, I would dearly hope that Iran, Syria, and half a dozen other nations actually believe that hogwash. I can guarantee that they don’t which makes one wonder why Christy Hardin Smith does. Perhaps she is blessed with that special insight vouchsafed liberals whenever they wish to teach us all a lesson about the evils (or weaknesses) of America.

As for the rest of Ms. Smith’s lovely paean to the “strands” of diplomacy so frayed by the Bush Administration that other threads have been “built around us” – lovely poetry but hardly serious analysis. I daresay the next crisis to roil the world will not see the French or Germans or even Great Britain taking the lead to resolve it; it will, as it has been since the end of World War II, up to the United States to wade in, take the inevitable criticism from friend and foe alike, and bring relief to the suffering masses while the rest of the world stands by and kibitzes from the sidelines.

But here’s where Smith gets particularly incoherent:

Nations which once worked with us — not just because we were working on issues of import to them, but also because it was in their long-term interest to do so with a nation which controlled so much of the economic and military and other resources throughout the world, as well as had its finger on the pulse of so many spheres of influence at once…all of these nations have learned to get by without having to rely on any favor from the United States whatsoever.

First, talking about the power of the United States in the past tense is loony – as in we are “a nation which controlled so much…” and “had its finger on the pulse…” To talk about waning American influence is incredibly short sighted at this point. The doomsayers have buried America several times – most recently just prior to the fall of the Soviet Union when it was widely believed Ronald Reagan was destroying NATO, angering our friends, and driving third world nations into the Soviet orbit all because of our policies in Central America.

They were saying the American “era” was over back then as well. Such sophistry is silly, stupid, and ignores the real world calculations of the Assads and Ahmadinejad’s of the planet who could care less about favors but care very deeply about how fast and how far our military can rampage through their nations before driving them into their very own spider holes.

Belgium or France might not care very much about those calculations but given the stellar level of cooperation between all NATO countries and our allies in the War on Terror, one begins to wonder where Ms. Smith sees this fall off in “favor exchanges.” Is it in negotiating trade and tariff arrangements? Perhaps it is in import-export controls? Immigration? Cultural exchanges?

Even at the UN, all of our allies are on board for sanctions against Iran – most of them wishing stronger ones but recognizing the obstructionist policy of Russia and China in this regard, are fully prepared to go along with the watered down sanctions proposed that our two potential adversaries will eventually agree to. To believe that anything meaningful can be accomplished through diplomacy at the UN with regards to Iran or Syria is a pipe dream in the first place.

One might legitimately ask Ms. Smith then which “nations” she is referring to who have “learned to get by without having to rely on any favor” from America. The Iraq War, unpopular as it is with our allies (decidedly less unpopular than Viet Nam, I might add), as our Central American policies in the past, does not stand in the way of carrying on the business of diplomacy with friend or foe. It is typical liberal exaggeration and overblown rhetorical gibberish to advance the notion that the world is altering right before our eyes as a result of Bush incompetence, or Bush evil, or Bush stupidity. The only thing that is altered is the consciousness of liberals who are giddy at the prospect of American decline.

One final note; I realize the idea that “the world was with us” after 9/11 has now become firmly ensconced as one of the enduring myths about that horrible day. But as numerous people (including myself) have pointed out, the facts do not support that conclusion. Those interested in the truth might read this article which has links to other analyses that debunk that bit of hooey promoted by the left as a means to criticize the Bush Administration for losing something the government of the United States never had – the unqualified support of most of the world’s governments.

What we have lost in respect as a result of our Iraq adventure (including Abu Ghraib and Gitmo) is significant but not a body blow to either our position in the world nor especially our influence. To say otherwise is to ignore the fact that in the capitols of the world where governments plan and plot, they worry most about what impact their policies will have on America. And the day that changes, Ms. Smith and the rest of the left will let out a whoop and a holler for joy; not cry crocodile tears as Ms. Smith did today.

By: Rick Moran at 4:16 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)

WHY HILLARY WILL NEVER BE PRESIDENT
CATEGORY: Politics

From the “Now She Tells Us” Department, Hillary Clinton has disowned her vote to authorize force in Iraq. She wants a do-over, a mulligan as they say in golf. She wants us to forget that she and most of the Democratic party were so knock kneed with fright over the possibility that they would be branded “cowards” or “traitors” by Republicans in the 2002 mid terms, that they swallowed their well documented pacifism in the face of the killers and thugs of the world just to secure their own political hides:

As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton continues to assess a possible presidential candidacy and the contours of a Democratic nomination fight, she has taken another step away from her 2002 vote authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq by saying that she “wouldn’t have voted that way” if she knew everything she knows now.

Clinton has often been asked if she regrets her vote authorizing military action and she usually answers that question with an artful dodge, saying that she accepts responsibility for the vote and suggesting that if the Senate had all the information it has today (no WMD, troubled post-war military planning, etc. . .), there would never have been a vote on the Senate floor.

However, she has never gone as far as some of her potential rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination—who also voted for the war—and called her vote a mistake or declared that she would have cast her vote differently with all the facts presently available to her—until now.

Talk about a woman with her finger in the air sampling the political winds…

Of course, she learned at the feet of the master of tacking with the political gales. Bill Clinton never met an issue he couldn’t straddle until he was sure that he came down on the right side of it with the public. And Hillary is proving equally adept at the practice – a sure sign that a Hillary campaign would be geared to the general election from the start.

This is a high risk strategy considering who usually votes in Democratic primaries and caucuses. One need only look at reaction to this latest calculated move on her part from the self-styled guardians of ideological purity and party disciplinarians on the left; the netnuts and their campaign to rid the Democratic party of evils such as centrism and strong national security proponents:

Honestly, you have to wonder how many focus groups and strategy sessions with her massive team of highly paid advisors that Clinton had to sit through before coming up with those carefully chosen and fairly meaningless eight words, “and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way.”

And on top of that, you have to wonder what all those highly paid consultants were smoking. Is there one voter’s mind who will be changed by this? Right-wingers, who wouldn’t have voted for her anyway, will attack her for lacking the conviction to stand by her 2002 vote. Left-wingers, who wouldn’t have voted for her anyway, will ask what we’re asking now, which basically is, WTF? Maybe centrists will praise her at their 2008 convention, in a booth at Charlie Palmer’s up on Capitol Hill.

That said, it’s not too still not too late for Hillary Clinton to win over at least some anti-war Democrats. And it’s not that hard, either. Just admit in no uncertain terms that you made a mistake in 2002, and why—and then fight like hell on the Senate floor to get us out of that mess over there, ASAP.

Should she wear sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on the Senate floor when she performs this grand mea culpa, groveling before the Attywood’s of the left? Or, should she seek to become part of the solution in Iraq? Getting us out of “that mess” may be an emotionally satisfying solution to the immature and intellectually shallow netnuts. But even John Kerry recognizes that not leaving until something approaching a viable Iraqi state is in the offing marks Attywood and the rest of the mindless, knee jerk, anti-Bush crowd as dangerous loons.

Hillary is not backtracking for them. What Mrs. Clinton is trying to do is build a brand new Democratic coalition, one that will carry her to victory in both the primaries and the general election. She is counting on enormous numbers of new women voters to offset the anger of the far left netnuts. And she’s also counting on disgruntled moderate GOP’ers in the northeast and midwest who may not particularly like her but can appreciate her fairly hard headed approach to national security to swallow hard, cross party lines, and vote for her.

As I said, a high risk strategy but one that holds great rewards if she can manage it. The problem as I see it is that Jesse Jackson tried something similar in the 1988 primaries and failed.

Jackson won 11 primaries that year – including his surprising win in Michigan which temporarily made him something of a front runner for the nomination. Jackson tried to cobble together parts of the old Democratic coalition – big labor and blacks – with the far left and other minorities. It proved too big of a task and he ultimately went down to defeat, losing most of the remaining primaries to Michael Dukakis.

The lesson for Hillary is that the women’s vote alone will not bring her the top prize. Somehow (and Dick Morris has said this as well) she will have to at least mitigate the hatred of the netnuts – pull their teeth – in order to win. She will probably not be able to do this with any grand gestures about Iraq. But she may assuage some of their anger if she begins advocating other issues near and dear to the hearts of the left including national health care and workers’ rights. It won’t satisfy the on-line crowd but it may help with the rest of organized left; not to gain their votes but to prevent their opposition from derailing her candidacy.

It’s a fine line and I don’t believe she can walk it. And even if she does, she will have left herself open to the charge in the general election of being “too liberal” as every Democratic candidate who has run for President in the last 30 years has done.

A Hillary candidacy will be fun to watch. It will electrify women all over the country and, given the novelty of her husband campaigning for her, will constitute one of the greatest shows in the history of our colorful and entertaining political life. But if she doesn’t fail in the primaries, she will almost certainly stumble in the general election. That is, unless the Republicans commit political suicide and nominate someone like Newt Gingrich who may be the only Republican candidate whose negatives match Hillary’s own. But I don’t expect Newt or any other far right candidate to win.

It will be a McCain-Hillary battle. Maybe. Perhaps. Well…don’t take it to the bank. But you might want to slip a fiver to a Vegas bookie on the off chance that I’m right.

By: Rick Moran at 8:14 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (8)