Saturday, February 18, 2006

Able-Danger. Will we get more?

Jack Kelly's column today is an excellent roundup of last week's hearings.

Unable to see danger
Questions still surround the pre-9/11 intelligence project to track al-Qaida

Iran's Defensive Strategy

Bill Quirk has a shocker of a column at RCP this morning. If true, it sure limits our options. Here's a segment:

Over the last five years the Iranians have also created the following defensive attack strategy:

1) Accelerate the development of several, maybe up to 5 nuclear bombs, coupled with a deployment strategy of missile technology gained from Pakistan, China and North Korea. These missiles are now capable of being equipped with nuclear weapons could hit Israel, London and most of the 7th Fleet targets (American ships and bases in the Persian Gulf).

2) Iran has fully-trained and equipped terrorists established in the USA, Venezuela, Mexico and probably Canada. These operatives may have weapons of mass destruction and also have plans to bomb American shopping centers and/or symbolic targets to create fear and mass panic that will hopefully damage the American economy.

These terrorist are zealots who may and probably will engage in suicide bombings. These particular spy/terrorists are compartmentalized from and not part of Hezbollah who have their bases in Venezuela, Canada and covert operatives in the USA.

3) Strike at targets within Europe. The French government under Chirac in 2003 made the mistake of issuing over 5,000 visas for Iranian “students” to come to France. France was trying to placate its own Islamic community and ingratiate itself with oil rich Iran. Many of these Iranian students obtained French passports and then migrated to Canada, Venezuela and some to the USA

Why Terrorist Activity Is Down

Very good article from Strategy Page.

The annual Shia Ashura festival brings out the faithful in large numbers, and was banned when Saddam ruled. Since then, terrorists have attacked the Shia participants, killing 55 in 2005, and 181 in 2004. This year, the terrorists were unable to kill anyone. Iraqi police and soldiers supplied the security, with the help of some religious militias. This sharp drop in terrorist activity was no fluke.

"Goooood Morning to the Mainland!"

The NYT leads with the Abbas/Hamas clash and what they see as an opportunity for the Dems to make hay from the Drug plan startup problems.

The WaPo leads with China's internet crisis and the Hamas/Abbas story.

"Food for Nukes?

Claudia Rosett is just an outstanding reporter.

In North Korea, it's Western chumps to the rescue.
WSJ.com
BY CLAUDIA ROSETT
Sunday, February 19, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

It's bad enough that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is starving his people while building nuclear bombs. But why are we helping him?"

Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK

Telegraph UK

Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

50pc said interracial relations were worsening

Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.
Rest at:

Briefing the Chinese Army

Richard Halloran says The United States Pacific Command and the People’s Liberation Army of China have quietly begun an exchange of military officers that is intended to reduce the chances of a miscalculation leading to hostilities between the established power in the Pacific and the rising power of East Asia."

"That which is not seen"

Strategy Page points out that piracy can be good.

"But Piracy also benefits people who have no ties to it. Somali fishermen reportedly have been able to improve their catches as a result of piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa. The lack of a government in Somalia has meant that there is no navy or coast guard to patrol the country's "Exclusive Economic Zone." As a result, foreign fishing fleets have been illegally working Somali waters for some time, often employing illegal technologies to seriously deplete the fish stocks. With the increase in piracy, the foreign fishing boats have mostly been scared off, which leaves more fish for the Somali fishermen. Apparently the pirates usually don't bother the Somali fishermen, perhaps because of clan ties, because they're just too poor to rob, or they've made a deal to give the local pirates a portion of the catch.

Hold the 2008 GOP presidential convention in San Francisco.

Ed Driscoll's idea is "spot on." Let the MSM show the country just how nutty the Democrats have become. It would make the 2004 convention in New York City look like a playpen.

Dr Sanity's Placard





What would be the reaction if this was pictured in media photos of an American demonstration?

Dems Need A Newt Of Their Own

The WaPo points to the fact that "The Democratic Party Can't Have a Revolution Without the Revolutionaries"

The point out that:

And yet, after languishing in the minority for more than a decade, the Democrats' back bench has yet to produce a Gang of Seven or an insurgent leader such as Gingrich, who inspired dozens of GOP House candidates in 1994. Most of the Democrats elected since the Republicans took over in 1994 simply replaced other Democrats. Moreover, none was really elected on a message of bringing "change" to Congress.

The absence of a Democratic Gang of Seven is even more glaring given that there hasn't been much new blood flowing into the House leadership. Not a single ranking member (i.e., the top member of the minority party) on 21 House committees came to office after the Republicans took control. And in only five instances has a GOP committee chair been in Congress longer than his Democratic ranking-member counterpart.

After Neoconservatism

Francis Fukuyama has the lead article in the NYT Magazine this week pushing his now familar "realist" Foreign Policy position. Excellent exposition of that viewpoint.

"Week in Review" at the New York Times

This usually excellent section of the Sunday "Times" leads with the ranch Cheney was at. Lyman & Kronblut write "The Ranch Where the Politicians Roam." Dao & Nagourney write about Iraqi vets running for office. Then a story about how Hamas getting into office was a fouled up vote.

Jim Yardley has an essay on the hidden role of Chinese Muslims. Leonhardt follows up on the British survey that claims that having a boy makes a couple conservative, but a girl makes them liberal.

This is outrageous!

Cash-for-Kofi
The U.N. secretary-general wins a half-million dollar prize in Dubai.
by Claudia Rosett
Read it all at "The Weekly Standard"

DESPITE FREQUENT DECLARATIONS OF REFORM, it seems that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has learned nothing from the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food scandal, in which Saddam Hussein's billions corrupted the U.N.'s entire Iraq embargo bureaucracy. Earlier this month, Annan accepted from the ruler of Dubai an environmental prize of $500,000--a fat sum that represents the latest in a long series of glaring conflicts of interest. Call this one Cash-for-Kofi.

More on the ABA's Illegal Racial Preference Requirement:

Volokh says:

The ABA has been trying, without written authority, to enforce preferences and quotas. The accreditors will now do so even more vigorously given that they now have written authority that requires law schools to ignore any legal or ethical objections they may have to such policies. Read the post here.

Polls, Polls, Polls

Protestors Carry “God Bless Hitler” Sign In Pakistan

This makes it soooo easy to tie in with the Nazis.

Sweetness and Light blog
February 18th, 2006

From the German TV site N-TV.DE:



The German caption translates to:

Women demonstrating against the Mohammed caricatures on Wednesday in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Exactly what they want to say with the poster remains unclear.

Unclear? Who are they kidding?

They couldn’t be any more clear.

"PATRICK FITZGERALD'S CIA LEAK DODGE [Byron York]

CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is continuing to refuse to provide the Lewis Libby defense team with evidence that Valerie Wilson's employment status was classified when she was outed by Robert Novak's column, or evidence that the disclosure of Wilson's identity damaged national security. In court papers filed late yesterday, Fitzgerald attempts to muddy the question of Plame's status by saying he has no documents that show her status was not classified: Read the rest here.

Hatred of censorship drove cartoons' editor

COPENHAGEN The man behind the Muhammad cartoons that have upset Muslims around the world describes himself as "just the cultural editor of a Danish newspaper." But his critics say Flemming Rose of Jyllands-Posten is a cultural warrior whose outlook was forged in the Moscow of the Cold War years and who knew what he was doing when he opened fire on what he sees as a form of totalitarianism, even if he did not expect the consequences to be global and deadly.
[-]
His worldview changed, Rose said, when he went to Russia in the 1980s and saw firsthand the repression of the Soviet regime. He befriended dissidents, devoured books by Solzhenitsyn, Hannah Arendt, and Ayn Rand, and traveled throughout Asia and the Middle East, eventually covering the fall of communism in the Baltics and the war in Chechnya. Rest here

"It's no secret what the Democrats are going to do. It's what they always do — scare seniors."

"Drug Plan's Start May Imperil G.O.P.'s Grip on Older Voters
New York Times
By ROBIN TONER
Published: February 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 — Older voters, a critical component of Republican Congressional victories for more than a decade, could end up being a major vulnerability for the party in this year's midterm elections, according to strategists in both parties. Paradoxically, one reason is the new Medicare drug benefit, which was intended to cement their loyalty. Rest at

""THERE IS NO SUCH HUMAN PERSONA AS A 'MODERATE MUSLIM'" [Andy McCarthy]

The Corner - This is just one of the provocative thoughts offered in an important LA Times op-ed this morning by one of our most thoughtful commentators on developments in the Islamic world (among many other issues), Masoor Ijaz.

For me at least, there is a lot in Mansoor's piece that resonates, and a lot that is debatable and raises interesting questions. But every word of it is worth reading and thinking about. Find it here.

LIKE A BOLTON FROM THE BLUE [Andy McCarthy]

The Corner - That's what the corrupt, dysfunctional UN must feel like it's been hit with this month, as U.S. Ambassador John Bolton takes his turn as Chairman of the Security Council. The NYTimes reports this morning: "Mr. Bolton, president of the Security Council this month, set meetings next week on what the United Nations has been doing about charges of sexual exploitation by peacekeepers and an audit on waste approaching $300 million in the peacekeeping purchasing department."

Naturally, the UN General Assembly is upset -- not at the waste, fraud and corruption but at the fact that Bolton cannot be dissuaded from shining a light on it.

Go, go Johnny go, go!

Good comment from "The Corner"

W. AND REAGAN [Ramesh Ponnuru]

Most conservatives who are dismayed by the recent trend of spending aren't primarily concerned about the deficit--so the fact that it's a lower percentage of GDP than it was in 1988 doesn't answer our concern. It is more relevant that spending fell as a percentage of GDP under Reagan, while it has increased under Bush (as McIntyre reports). Nor has this increase been entirely a matter of defense and homeland security spending. Spending outside those categories has risen from 12.8 percent of GDP in 2001 to 14.5 percent in 2005."
Captain Ed says:

Why has the West avoided dealing with reality? It reminds one of the rise of the Nazis in 1932, another political movement explicitly dedicated to the eradication of Jews in its vicinity. The Western powers told themselves for years that the Germans just wanted the trains to run on time and to distance themselves from a corrupt and inefficient Weimar government. Now they want to believe that the Palestinians elected the most radical group of terrorists on the ballot for their stand on ethics in government. Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

At least we're consistent. When they start the war, Israel had better make sure that the West doesn't force them into the role of Czechoslovakia in 1938."

Climate of Uncertainty

Steve writes the "Commons blog." He "Deconstructs" Climate Change with this essay.

Climate of Uncertainty
Why global warming is back in the headlines.
The Weekly Standard
by Steven F. Hayward
Steven F. Hayward is F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of AEI's "Environmental Policy Outlook."
02/27/2006, Volume 011, Issue 23


CLIMATE CHANGE IS HEATING UP again in American politics, the result of an orchestrated campaign to push the issue to the forefront. Al Gore is hitting the road with his animated computer slide show and has a documentary movie coming out. Climate action advocates skillfully exploited the Bush administration's clumsy moves to limit the public statements of NASA's chief climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, and landed panicky stories about climate "tipping points" and scientific censorship on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post. The real head-turner, however, was the recent launch of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in which nearly 100 evangelical leaders signed on to the environmentalist party line. Some are the same liberal evangelicals who tub-thumped for the nuclear freeze during the Reagan years, but some are conservative evangelicals important to Bush's red-state base, such as Rick (The Purpose Driven Life) Warren. When the eco-apocalypse meets the New Testament apocalypse, you know something is up. That something is a sense of political desperation among climate change alarmists, as the world slowly turns against them. Rest here.

Congress Wants An Escape Hatch

Captain's Quarters comments on the article I posted earier from the NYT about Congress's attempt to micromanage our intel efforts.

Now, however, Congress wants to eat its cake and have it too. They want to take executive powers, and instead of making themselves politically responsible for the consequences, they want to pawn it off to a court. This is no different than their stated interpretation under FISA, except that Roberts is proposing an expediting process that clearly doesn't exist now. In fact, Roberts wants to create another appointed court to supercede the FISA jurists, and who share with them the complete lack of accountability for their actions.

This is nothing more than a cowardly dodge, an attempt to keep this power dispute between Congress and the executive from reaching the Supreme Court -- which will likely rule against Congress and strike down the wartime provisions of FISA. It also is another attempt to force a wartime role onto the judiciary, which has never before been propsosed and for which they are completely unsuited. Congress either needs to accept the oversight responsibility that the Administration has offered or drop the entire debate altogether." Read it all

How the Democrats took Paul Hackett out.

Backroom Battles
Economic sabotage, whisper campaigns, and threats:
Mother Jones
David Goodman
February 16 , 2006

Democratic Senate candidate and Marine Corps Major Paul Hackett is accustomed to waging quixotic battles and taking his hits. He just didn’t expect the lowest—and fatal—blows to come from his own party.

In an announcement that stunned many in Washington and even some in his campaign staff, Hackett declared on February 13, 2006, that he was dropping his bid for U.S. Senate in Ohio, ending his 11 month political career. “I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind-the-scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign,” he said, only hinting at what had gone down. The day after his withdrawal from the race, he told me about the backroom battles that forced him out.

Hackett was running against seven-term Akron Democrat Rep. Sherrod Brown in a May primary, with the winner going on to face two-term Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in November (assuming DeWine wins his own primary against a longshot Republican challenger). DeWine is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans, and the national Democratic Party is pulling out the stops to defeat him.

But first, the Democrats had to get Hackett out of the way. The weapons used in the rubout included economic sabotage, whisper campaigns, and threats.

Hackett, an Iraq War combat veteran, was hailed last summer as just the kind of “fighting Democrat” the party needed to reinvigorate its base and end its years in the congressional wilderness. After narrowly losing a race for Congress in a lopsidedly Republican district outside Cincinnati last August, the telegenic veteran—famous for dissing President Bush as a “chickenhawk” and “sonuvabitch” while on the stump—was courted heavily by Democratic leaders, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Harry Reid, to take on DeWine. But no sooner did Hackett enter the Senate race last October than Brown announced his candidacy for Senate, reversing an earlier decision he had made to stay out of the race.

With Brown, a party insider, on board, the Democratic establishment quickly began pulling away from the fiery Hackett. Schumer, after having wooed him in August, called again in October. “Schumer didn’t tell me anything definitive,” Hackett told me at the time. “But I’m not a dumb ass, and I know what he wanted me to do.” Hackett, a maverick who relishes the fight, decided to buck the Beltway insiders, and stay in the race.

Hackett’s scorching rhetoric earned him notoriety and cash on the campaign trail. He declared that people who opposed gay marriage were “un-American.” He said the Republican party had been hijacked by religious extremists who he said “aren’t a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden.” Bloggers loved him, donors ponied up, while Democratic Party insiders grumbled that he wasn’t "senatorial."

Swift boats soon appeared on the horizon. A whisper campaign started: Hackett committed war crimes in Iraq—and there were photos. “The first rumor that I heard was probably a month and a half ago,” Dave Lane, chair of the Clermont County Democratic Party, told me the day after Hackett pulled out of the race. “I heard it more than once that someone was distributing photos of Paul in Iraq with Iraqi war casualties with captions or suggestions that Paul had committed some sort of atrocities. Who did it? I have no idea. It sounds like a Republican M.O. to me, but I have no proof of that. But if it was someone on my side of the fence, I have a real problem with that. I have a hard time believing that a Democrat would do that to another Democrat.”

In late November, Hackett got a call from Sen. Harry Reid. “I hear there’s a photo of you mistreating bodies in Iraq. Is it true?” demanded the Senate minority leader. “No sir,” replied Hackett. To drive home his point, Hackett traveled to Washington to show Reid’s staff the photo in question. Hackett declined to send me the photo, but he insists that it shows another Marine—not Hackett—unloading a sealed body bag from a truck. “There was nothing disrespectful or unprofessional,” he insists. “That was a photo of a Marine doing his job. If you don’t like what they’re doing, don’t send Marines into war.”

A staffer in Reid’s office confirmed that Hackett had showed them several photos. “The ones I saw were part of a diary he kept while serving in Iraq and were in no way compromising. The one picture in question depicted Marines doing their work on what looked like a scorching day in Iraq,” said the aide.

But the whispering continued, and Hackett was troubled. “It creates doubt and suspicion,” Hackett told me, saying his close supporters were asking him privately about the rumors. “It tarnishes my very strength as a candidate, my military service. It’s like you take a handful of seeds, throw them up in the wind, and they blow all around and start growing. It really bothered me.”

Hackett backers suspected the smear was being floated by Sherrod Brown’s campaign. A senior Brown staffer angrily dismissed the charge this week as “ridiculous.”

Brown campaign spokesperson Joanna Kuebler declined to respond to the rumors. She offered this prepared statement: “This campaign has never been about Paul Hackett or about Sherrod Brown. This campaign is about the hard working people of Ohio, and what Republican corruption has done to them.”

Hackett wanted to fight to the finish. He raised nearly a half-million dollars in the last quarter of 2005, matching Brown’s fundraising. But Brown entered the Senate race with $2 million in the bank, a strategic cushion. Early polls show both Brown and Hackett running in a dead heat against DeWine. An internal poll done in February for the Hackett campaign that was obtained by the Cleveland Plain Dealer showed Brown leading Hackett by 20 points, but Hackett took the lead if voters simply heard both candidates' bios. The analysis concluded, “If Paul Hackett can raise the funds necessary to communicate his message to the voters of Ohio, he will present Sherrod Brown with a formidable challenge in May.”

With the very real prospect of a smear against him going public late in the campaign—a la the Swift Boating of John Kerry—Hackett knew that dollars would be especially important for him. “If I don’t have the $2 million or $3 million it would take to respond in the final weeks, to influence the battlefield with my message, then I would just be reacting and I’ll get trounced,” said Hackett.

Hackett had demonstrated his ability to shake money from donors during a January fundraising roadshow in California and New York. But he soon discovered that top Democrats were attempting to cut off his money. The hosts of a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Hackett received an e-mail from the political action committee of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that concluded, “I hope you will re-consider your efforts on behalf of Hackett and give your support to Sherrod.” Waxman’s chief of staff, Phil Schiliro, said the e-mail was only sent to a handful of people and that “it probably came from a suggestion from the Sherrod Brown campaign.”

Michael Fleming, who manages Internet millionaire David Bohnett’s political and charitable giving, was one of the recipients of the Waxman email. Bohnett has given to hundreds of progressive candidates, but Fleming says, “This was the first time I had ever gotten an email or communication like that. I find it discouraging and disheartening. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be didn’t let the people of Ohio figure this out. We should be in the business of encouraging people like Paul Hackett and viable progressive candidates like him to run. The message instead is don’t bother, it’s not worth your time.”

Sen. Schumer was also reported to be trying to turn off Hackett’s cash spigots. No one would confirm this to me on the record. But veteran political activist David Mixner, who described himself as “a fanatically strong supporter” of Hackett and who helped sponsor a New York fundraiser, confirmed that he “received calls from a couple people in Congress urging Paul Hackett to withdraw or not to contribute money to his campaign. The reasons ranged from he can’t win, to he’s too controversial, Brown has more money, is more centrist, and more appealing. It was that inner beltway circle crap,” said Mixner. “They are people who have no idea what’s going on in the country but believe they know everything.”

Mixner added, “I don’t think it’s inappropriate to call me. What’s inappropriate is that the people calling me were the same people who asked him to run, and now they wanted to push him out. That's what made this unique.”

Hackett was infuriated by the subterfuge. “I felt like I got fucked by the Democratic Party because they enticed me in and then they pulled the rug out from beneath me. It sounds eerily familiar to sending in the military to Iraq, which was a misuse of the military, and then not giving them what they need to fight.”

In what is being called the Valentine’s Day Massacre, Paul Hackett threw in the towel, and insisted he would not be running for elected office anytime soon. He declined requests to switch races and run again in the Ohio Second Congressional District against Rep. Jean Schmidt, saying he had promised the candidates currently in that race that he wouldn’t run. “My word is my bond and I will take it to my grave,” he declared.

As word spread about the intra-party intrigue that helped bring down Hackett, supporters have reacted angrily. “If the Democratic Party continues with these suicidal decisions, we will continue to defeat ourselves,” declared Yolanda Parker, who recently attended a California fundraiser for Hackett. “The only strategy the Republicans need to stay in power is patience. They just need to wait while our party self-implodes through idiotic decisions such as the one to pressure an articulate Iraqi war veteran to pull out of the race.”

Party officials have tried to tamp down the anger. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesman Phil Singer stated, “Neither the DSCC nor Senator Schumer reached out to donors to ask them to take sides in this race. Paul Hackett’s statesman-like decision will help us win one of the most important Senate races in the nation.”

Hackett, who says he would still like to help “retool” the Democratic Party, ends his meteoric political career with some advice for other maverick candidates. “They simply can’t rely on any of the party infrastructure to help them, and they must assume that people at high levels will work against them. These guys,” he says of the party insiders, “view the Senate as a club. They’re not gonna welcome you if one day they turn the key on the clubhouse door and you are sitting there with your feet on the table flippin’ them the middle finger. I understand that from their perspective. It works for them, but not for the rest of us out here.”

David Goodman is a Mother Jones contributing writer and co-author of The Exception to the Rulers.

Why No Nukes for Iran?

The rules of the game.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

How many times have we heard the following whining and yet received no specific answers from our leaders?

"Israel has nuclear weapons, so why single out Iran?"

"Pakistan got nukes and we lived with it."

"Who is to say the United States or Russia should have the bomb and not other countries?"

"Iran has promised to use its reactors for peaceful purposes, so why demonize the regime?"

In fact, the United States has a perfectly sound rationale for singling out Iran to halt its nuclear proliferation. At least six good reasons come to mind, not counting the more obvious objection over Iran's violation of U.N. non-proliferation protocols. It is past time that we spell them out to the world at large." Rest here

Berlusconi Demands Minister's Resignation After Libyan Protests

``I may even be sorry for the victims, but what happened in Libya has nothing to do with my T-shirt,'' Calderoli said in la Repubblica. ``That's not what's at stake. What's at stake is Western civilization.''



Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi asked Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli to resign late yesterday after a mob attacked an Italian consulate in Libya angered about the T-shirt worn by the minister on Feb. 14 depicting a Danish cartoon of the prophet Muhammad.

About 1,000 protesters staged two attacks on the consulate building in Benghazi, Libya, yesterday, the Italian foreign ministry said. While fire was set to the front of the building, the Libyan police stopped the protesters from harming the six Italian staff, according to the ministry. Eleven protesters were killed by police, Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

``I respect all faiths and support dialogue between religions and civilizations,'' Berlusconi said in a statement published on the government's Web site early today. ``Senator Calderoli's position isn't that of the government and it's evidently incompatible with an institutional role, so he's invited to resign.'' Rest at

Russia may sell arms to Hamas

Jihad Watch, from the Australian:

RUSSIA plunged deeper into the maelstrom of Middle Eastern politics yesterday, saying it might sell arms to the Palestinians after talks with Hamas in Moscow early next month.

The announcement by Russia's Chief of General Staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, will outrage Israel."

Russia's first gay parade vetoed by 'outraged' city

Ann Althouse posts on the Russian reaction to a Gay-Rights parade in Moscow:

Plans to stage Russia's first gay pride parade have been vetoed by Moscow's city government on the grounds that the idea has caused "outrage" in society.

Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's administration said yesterday it would not even consider an application for a parade, prompting Russia's gay community to threaten legal action in the European Court of Human Rights.

Gay and lesbian activists have been campaigning for permission to stage the country's first gay pride event on Saturday 27 May.

The date marks the 13th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Russia in 1993. But the plans have drawn a furious reaction from religious leaders and been condemned as "suicidal" by other gay activists .

Earlier this week Chief Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin warned that Russia's Muslims would stage violent protests if the march went ahead. "If they come out on to the streets anyway they should be flogged. Any normal person would do that - Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike ... [The protests] might be even more intense than protests abroad against those controversial cartoons."

The cleric said the Koran taught that homosexuals should be killed because their lifestyle spells the extinction of the human race and said that gays had no human rights.
Rest here

Let's not "bad mouth" Willie over his "Gay Cowboy" song

Willie Nelson Plays Long Set for Soldiers
By T.A. BADGER, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 17, 10:27 PM ET

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -
Willie Nelson warmed up for his Friday night concert for paying customers by playing a long freebie gig for soldiers injured in
Iraq.

It was the second straight year that Nelson squeezed in a show at Brooke Army Medical Center while he and his band were in San Antonio to play at the city's annual rodeo.

"I have a lot of respect for the military," said Nelson, himself an Air Force veteran. "I like to show them that I support them every chance I get. ... We get as much out of it as (the soldiers)."

Last February the 72-year-old singer wore out his voice singing 11 songs at the Army hospital, and he had to cancel his performance at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.

He said part of the reason he came back was that he felt bad his soldier concert was so short, never mind that it was also at no charge to listeners.

"I didn't feel that I gave them a very good show," said Nelson, who was coming down with laryngitis at the time. "I figured one year later, my throat was back and I'd give it another shot." Rest at.

Do competitive House seats make for ideologues?

I find this hard to believe, but James Q. Wilson says yes:

It has been suggested that congressional polarization is exacerbated by new districting arrangements that make each House seat safe for either a Democratic or a Republican incumbent. If only these seats were truly competitive, it is said, more centrist legislators would be elected. That seems plausible, but David C. King of Harvard has shown that it is wrong: in the House, the more competitive the district, the more extreme the views of the winner. This odd finding is apparently the consequence of a nomination process dominated by party activists. In primary races, where turnout is low (and seems to be getting lower), the ideologically motivated tend to exercise a preponderance of influence.

Northern Iraq: A Photo Gallery"

Why the Palestinians can't run a state

Bridget at GOP Vixen 'splans it to us.

"... Many of the 132 legislators will not attend: 14 are in Israeli prisons, and two are on the run from the Israeli security forces."

Troops Honed in '03 Fighting a Different War in Iraq

Ricks has been doing a great job of reporting for the WaPo.

BAGHDAD -- During his first tour in Iraq two years ago, recalled Army Sgt. James Eyler, "the mindset of the whole unit was, if they pose a threat at all, shoot to kill." Back then, "we didn't trust any Iraqis," he added...--snip--Said another machine gunner, Sgt. James Russell: "It's a lot less brute force and a lot more hearts-and-minds now."

'GUMSHOES' GUNNING FOR GITMO

The NY Post snarks the UN report

February 18, 2006 -- A panel of so-called human-rights inves tigators has told the United Nations that the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba should be shut down immediately and its prisoners either quickly placed on trial or set free.

Says the U.N. team: What happens at Gitmo is nothing less than torture — and those responsible should themselves face the long arm of the law "up to the highest level of military and political command."

And how do these gumshoes know this?

Why, they read all about it in The New York Times and watched it on CNN. Oh, and they talked to former detainees.

What they did not do, however, is visit Guantanamo and see things for themselves.

After all, it's so much easier when you only need to get one side of the story.

Indeed, as Kevin Moley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N.'s Geneva offices, wrote in a letter last month, the report "selectively includes only those factual assertions needed to support those conclusions and ignores other facts that would undermine those conclusions."

Republican Fundraisers Off to Fast Start

The latest scoop on "Money, money, money."

WASHINGTON - The Republican National Committee raised $13.7 million in January, getting off to a fast start for this midterm election year. That was the most raised in any one month since the 2004 election year, GOP officials said. The RNC, which has been outraising the Democratic National Committee by a 2-1 margin, reported Friday that it had nearly $39 million cash on hand at the end of January.

Saddam

The American Thinker has a post up that tells you everything you need to know about the Saddam tapes.

What the Chinese Really Believe

"Strategy Page" has a POV on China I agree with:

Chinese views, among the national leadership, are often not the same as those we attribute to them. For example, India is not perceived as a major rival, unlike Japan or the U.S., They don’t believe war with the US is likely, unless we mess with Taiwan. They believe the experience in Bosnia and Kosovo indicate America understands “political warfare” much better than China does. And they don’t seem to think we’re “bogged down” in Iraq so much as that we’re gaining valuable combat experience (maybe a million “seasoned” troops by the time it’s over) as well as learning all sorts of new tricks in how to fight insurgencies, and how to use new military technologies.

The problem is that the Chinese leadership, in self-defense, have been using nationalism, and “big-bad-America” to distract the people from the corruption and other failings of the government. Don’t confuse the propaganda and hype with what the leadership really believe, and talk about among themselves."

Cracks in the Wall

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial [$] today on China. Key Comments.


Political signals are never easy to read in Beijing. But it sure looks like big news that highly placed editors and intellectuals have dared to protest against the Chinese government's recent crackdown on a newspaper for publishing a critical essay.

The drama started with an essay published January 11 in Freezing Point, a weekly supplement to the China Youth Daily newspaper. Dryly titled "Modernization and Historical Textbooks," the article by Zhongshan University professor Yuan Weishi suggested that Qing Dynasty mismanagement had encouraged foreign invasions -- a stark contrast to official textbook versions of the history.

What might have aroused the censors was the implication of a parallel with today's corrupt Communist Party. Mr. Yuan's conclusion -- an indictment of the Party's historical fictions -- probably didn't digest well, either. In a country of 1.3 billion people, Beijing's select leadership circle seeks to retain control through its tight grip on information and historical accounts. So the cadres did what they do best: They shut the offending journal and reshuffled the management.

Unlike past cases of censorship, this time intellectuals rebelled. On Tuesday, 13 retired government officials, journalists, and academics issued an extraordinary open letter protesting the closure. "The Communist Party's Propaganda Department has perverted 'propaganda' into 'control,'" they warned. "This constitutes a violation of the constitution." Signatories included a former associate of Mao Zedong and former heads of the party propaganda department and its arm, the Xinhua News Agency.
[-]
There is a sharp disconnect in China between the new generation of ambitious, well-educated people and the party's ham-fisted methods of maintaining control. Take Tuesday's defense of Internet monitoring at a Beijing press conference: China's censorship is "completely consistent with international practices," an official claimed. The fascinating thing is that the government felt obliged to defend itself, as if it realizes that the criticism of Chinese Internet controls expressed at a U.S. Congressional hearing on Wednesday will surely make it back to the mainland.

The Communist Party will find it increasingly harder to control the many channels through which China's middle class interacts with free nations. Whether it's through business, or access to even limited international news via the Internet, the Chinese people are starting to understand that they're not enjoying all of the fruits of their labor. As for Freezing Point, by the end of the week the propaganda mandarins in Beijing had backed down a bit, saying they will allow it to reopen next month but with new editors.

That's certainly progress of a kind for a Communist system that once brooked no dissent at all. China's commissars may have to accommodate more such openness far sooner than they imagine.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rumsfeld Aims To Elevate Role Of Special Forces

That's the Saturday lede for the Wall Street Journal. [pay site]

Money Quote

Well into the Bush administration's second term, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is concentrating much of his energy on remaking a small but important corner of the military: special-operations forces.

The Pentagon chief's focus on these elite forces reflects his conviction that the Iraq war -- in which about 140,000 U.S. troops are struggling to rebuild a country from the ground up -- is an anomaly that is winding down and won't be repeated, say senior defense officials.

"We are not going to invade and occupy our way to victory in the long war against Islamic extremism," said Michael Vickers, who served as a senior adviser on the secretary's recently released review of Pentagon spending and strategy.

Instead, Mr. Rumsfeld's top-to-bottom review posits that the gravest long-term threat to national security comes from small cells of al Qaeda and its radical offshoots scattered across more than 80 countries. To take them down, Mr. Rumsfeld wants to build a much larger and more aggressive special-operations force with broader latitude to both work with indigenous forces and take action in countries where the U.S. is technically not at war.


What he is shorting, IMO, is building a good "Sys Admin" force for countries that collapse and cannot be left to chaos.

"Goooood Morning, Mainland!"

It's Friday evening here in Waikiki, and I just got back from dancing at "Coconut Willies." The Canadian snowbirds are in town and the place was jammed.

The New York Times leads with "Senate Chairman Splits With Bush on Spy Program." Pat Roberts wants to run the Admin's Intel program. When the grumbling subsides, it will be "business as usual," IMO. The other major story with them is Bush's comments about doing more in the Sudan. Their editorial people are still trying to close Gitmo. Carl Hulse catchs John McCain with his hand in the earmark cookie jar. and the Libby prosecutor is whining about all the requests for info from the defense.

Meanwhile, the WaPo also leads the Dufar story. and their editorial board covers the Hamas confusion.

USA Today leads with Chavez's latest threats While the LA Times leads with local news.

Annan and U.S. troops

Novack says:

WASHINGTON -- Administration sources say UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan misspoke in suggesting to reporters that he asked President Bush, when they met at the White House last Monday, to send U.S. troops to Darfur in the Sudan.

The meeting with Bush had been requested by Annan, but he did not have much of an agenda. That led to speculation at the White House that the secretary-general merely wanted "face time" with the president to boost his sagging prestige.

A footnote: Vice President Dick Cheney sat in on the Bush-Annan meeting but ducked out before reporters and cameras were let in at the end. Cheney at that point did not want to face questions about the Texas shooting incident.

MCCAIN'S BUSHIES

Major political contributors to George W. Bush who have never given a dime to prospective 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain received letters, dated Feb. 8, asking for donations to the senator's Straight Talk America political action committee.

Obviously using President Bush's direct mail list, the letter signed by McCain asks for $1,000 or $1,500 to support candidates agreeing with McCain on "key issues." It specifically lists "limiting federal spending, immigration reform, military readiness, global climate change, Social Security reform, reining-in lobbyists, reducing the power of the special interests and putting an end to wasteful pork barrel spending by Congress."

Each recipient received a card to be filled in for McCain's files. "I'm asking you to update your file card," requests the letter, though the Bush contributors had no previous card in the senator's files.

NON-HILLARY CANDIDATE

Although Sen. Hillary Clinton is not absolutely certain to run for president in 2008, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner is well on his way in preparing his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination as the non-Hillary candidate.

He has signed Monica Dixon, who was deputy chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, to run his Forward Together political action committee. After ending his single term as governor at the beginning of the year, Warner has been traveling the country and recruiting staffers.

Warner has been overwhelmed with offers of support from Democrats since he left office. Friends say he realizes he is a hot article and must be careful not to say or do anything now that will come back to haunt him.

MEDICARE POLITICS

Democratic activists James Carville and Stan Greenberg, complaining that Democrats "have yet to capitalize" on public discontent with President Bush's Medicare prescription drug subsidy, are calling on them to "create an uproar over" the plan.

A national survey conducted by the Democracy Corps, headed by Carville and Greenberg, showed two-to-one opposition to the drug plans by all voters. The Feb. 8 letter by Carville and Greenberg said Democrats can "create a tidal wave of opposition" by "creating new opponents" out of the 28 percent of voters shown by the poll to be undecided.

A footnote: A new Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fund-raising letter, signed by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, deals with a single issue: the prescription drug program. "Only a Democratic Senate," it says, "will immediately enact the common sense reforms that will clean up George Bush's Medicare mess."

UNION DISCLOSURES

The first documents received from unions in the Labor Department's demand for detailed financial disclosures, for the first time strictly enforcing the 1959 Landrum-Griffin labor reform act, suggest embarrassment by organized labor when the information is made public next month.

Early reports show the AFL-CIO spent $49 million (27 percent of its total annual budget) on political and lobbying activities but only $30 million (or 16.5 percent) to represent its members. That gap contributed to the breakaway from the AFL-CIO of the Teamsters, the Service Employees and other unions.

Another document reveals that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers spent $791 million, constituting 85 percent of its 2005 budget, purchasing fixed
Ed Morrisey says:

"The world insists on treating the Palestinians as children with no responsibility for their actions or choices. They have supported and demanded violence on their behalf for decades. They have never formed any significant movement for peaceful coexistence with Israel. In a free and fair election, they chose a radical Islamist terror organization as their preferred government. What more can they do to underscore their preference for armed conflict over settlement -- refuse to refund our money without a receipt?"

We should have layed out the "prisoner" terms at the start.

This article on Rumsfeld's conference today says that we have some very bad boys at Gitmo, and that the Salafi Jihadists are winning the propaganda war. We should have announced on 9/12 that all terrorists captured were classified by the Geneva Convention as "non-state actors." This entitled them to a military tribunal to confirm their status and then a trip to a firing squad. But we didn't have the guts.

"Rumsfeld Says U.S. Will Not Close Gitmo

By AMY WESTFELDT, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 17, 6:11 PM ET

The Pentagon will not close its Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorist suspects, despite U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call to shut it down, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday.

"He's just flat wrong," Rumsfeld said in response to a question about the controversial prison during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations. "We shouldn't close Guantanamo. We have several hundred terrorists — bad people, people that if let back out on the field would try to kill Americans. That's just a fact."

He said closing it would amount to pretending there is no problem with a terrorist threat to U.S. interests.

Rumsfeld also took a swipe at Annan, saying, "He's never been to Guantanamo Bay," whereas representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross "stayed there, lived there 24 hours a day" to observe conditions.

"That place is being run as well as any detention facility can be run," he added, his voice rising. "It's absolutely beyond comprehension," he said, that calls for closing Guantanamo Bay can be based on allegations of mistreatment and torture by the prisoners, whom Rumsfeld said are trained to lie.

A U.N. report issued earlier this week said some of the treatment of prisoners amounted to torture.

There are about 500 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Many have been held for nearly four years. Most were captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan in late 2001 after U.S. forces invaded in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Rumsfeld also asserted that U.S. forces in Iraq are making progress on the security front, but he said there inevitably will be setbacks as the Iraqis struggle to assume control of their country.

"Our goal has to be to reduce our forces down, and to do it at a pace where we recognized that we're going to — I almost said 'make a mistake.' It will look like a mistake. It's a judgment call. We're going to have to pull out of some pieces of real estate and turn over things to Iraqis, and they're going to drop the ball. Let's face it.

"And we're going to have to step in, go back in and fix it and then turn it back over again, and it's going to be three steps forward and one step back. It isn't going to be perfect, it isn't going to be pretty," he said.

Rumsfeld said U.S. forces already have closed or turned over to the Iraqis 30 military bases. He offered no projections of future U.S. troop withdrawals. Last December the Pentagon said the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would drop from about 138,000 to about 130,000 by March.

Rumsfeld also said al-Qaida and other Islamic extremist groups have poisoned the Muslim public's view of the United States through deft use of the Internet and other modern communications methods that the American government has failed to master.

"Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but for the most part we — our country, our government — has not adapted," he said.

He quoted Ayman al-Zawahri, the chief lieutenant of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, as saying that their terrorist network is in a media battle for the hearts and minds of Muslims. Rumsfeld agreed, saying that the battle for public opinion is at least as important as the battles on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The extremist groups are able to act quickly on the information front, with relatively few people, while the U.S. government bureaucracy has yet to keep up in an age of e-mail, blogs and instant messaging, he said.

"We in the government have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences," Rumsfeld said.

He said the military needs to focus more on adapting to the changes in global media.

"In some cases, military public affairs officials have had little communications training and little, if any, grounding in the importance of timing and rapid response, and the realities of digital and broadcast media," he said."

Awad has "Oval Office Access."

"Americans against hate" blog writes:

FUNDRAISER FOR SAMI AL-ARIAN'S RELEASE TO BE HELD TOMORROW IN TAMPA MOSQUE

PARTICIPANTS INCLUDE CAIR HEAD NIHAD AWAD AND FORMER AMC HEAD ERIC VICKERS

(Coral Springs, FL) According to an e-mail that was sent out by Ahmed Bedier, the Spokesman for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Florida), a fundraiser will be taking place tomorrow for the release of terrorist Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian is currently awaiting a second trial for his role as a leader in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The event will be held at Masjid Al-Qassam (a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa), the mosque Al-Arian helped create.

Speaking at the event will be Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of the national CAIR headquarters. Also speaking will be Eric Erfan Vickers, the former Executive Director of the American Muslim Council (AMC). Vickers resigned from his position at AMC, after he was exposed for calling the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster "an act of divine retribution against Israel." Read the rest there.

Escape from Baltimore

Joanne Jacobs writes about this WaPo article:

The Boys of Baraka, a documentary about African-American students fleeing inner-city Baltimore for a boarding school in Kenya, was screened for 2,000 D.C. students, who watched with fascination, writes Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post.

The film focuses on four boys, but it evokes larger themes: the malignant persistence of concentrated poverty; the collapse of the family (of the 20 boys in the group, only one was in contact with his father); the resigned apathy of many public schools; and the colossal task facing any school trying to educate children in this atmosphere of chaos and violence.

. . . "Boys of Baraka" opens with a heart-sinking statistic: 76 percent of African American boys in Baltimore public schools fail to graduate from high school. "My neighborhood is mostly about drugs," reports 13-year-old Richard Keyser, whose father is serving 13 years for shooting his mother. "What I'm willing to do is get away from here."

In Kenya, teachers realize Richard has second-grade skills and wonder why teachers in Baltimore didn't notice.

"When you're sending them to Baltimore city schools, you're sending them to jail," says one Baraka parent."


The last section in the article really angers me.

Yet for all the legitimate complaints from many on the left about the straitjacketed rules and underfunded mandates of No Child Left Behind, for all the heartfelt concern about the threats posed by charter schools and voucher programs, it's impossible to watch this film and think anything other than: whatever it takes to give these children and others like them a chance.

The left's reflexive antipathy toward anything associated with the Bush administration has obscured the importance of holding schools accountable for the children they are failing. At Baraka, teachers discover that Richard is performing at a second-grade level. "He's never been evaluated as far as we know in the States, which is mind-boggling -- that some teacher wouldn't notice at some point in time that this kid is not learning anything," says teacher Monica Lemoine.

"When you're sending them to Baltimore city schools, you're sending them to jail," says one Baraka parent. School vouchers make me queasy, but "Boys of Baraka" forces the question: Who am I to tell parents in this terrible circumstance that the public schools are their only option?

Which brings me back to the Warner screening. What you wouldn't have known from the packed house was how hard the sponsors, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival, had to work to get some of the students there. Most were from charter schools, which snapped up the invitations. But organizers made call after call trying to overcome the bureaucratic inertia of the D.C. school system.

Of the city's 37 traditional middle and high schools, students from only seven came.

Do Good looks let you skate?

Ann Althouse writes about a new study on crime and looks that:

"Physical attractiveness is subjective, however. A person's inner life projects through his face and posture, so we may rate a depressed or angry or confused person as unattractive. It may be only that a person's mental condition leads to both criminal behavior and physical unattractiveness. A person with the sort of disordered mind that leads him down a criminal path might also do a poor job of grooming and weight control, another reason why it would not be the ugliness that causes the crime, but an antecedent factor that causes both the ugliness and the crime. In particular, drug and alcohol abuse affect a person's looks and connect to criminal behavior.

On the other side of this coin, those students with good grades and a nice social life might look attractive not because they were born that way, but because they are happy about their success.

There is also an economic factor. It may be that students who are better off find it easier to stay off the criminal path and also easier to improve their physical appearance with good haircuts, nice clothes, acne treatments, and nose jobs."


I wonder if there is a correlation based on your outlook on life. I think optimistic people do better than pessimists. There was a British documary that followed a group of kids on film from age 4 or so to age 35. You could see the difference in attitude starting at an early age and it held true all the way to adulthood. The ones who were optimistic did better in life. I suspect it's genetic.

"In the Mideast, the Third Way Is a Myth," by Shibley Telhami

Thomas Barnett writes about this article:

Driving with family up north and got this article sent from a reader.

Great article. Gets at something I've always felt insinctively about the region and which drives my co-optation strategy with Iran. This realization is what needs to happen among U.S. decisionmakers if we're going to keep the Big Bang rolling (hmmmm, feel like I have my next column).

Here is the key point in the text:

This leaves U.S. foreign policy with limited choices. Full electoral democracy in the Middle East will inevitably lead to domination by Islamist groups, leaving the United States to either continue a confrontational approach, with high and dangerous costs for both sides, or to find a way to engage them -- something that has yet to be fully considered. Given this, skepticism about the real aims of these groups should be balanced by openness to the possibility that their aims once they are in power could differ from their aims as opposition groups. This requires partial engagement, patience, and a willingness to allow such new governments space and time to put their goals to the test of reality. Hamas, in fact, could provide a place for testing whether careful engagement leads to moderation.

Whither Hamas?

I think the Pals have a "death wish," but I wish Hamas the best. It's really not a "moral equivalent," but some of Israel's best leadership came out of the most strident fighters, the "Irgun."

It is not in anybody's interest for the Pals to remain in their present state of misery. Hamas has an "incorruptable" reputation going in. That is in their favor. Of course, they have never had the kind of money available to them that they now could have.

If they can dance between the rhetoric needed to keep their faithful happy while bending enough to get along with the west, perhaps they can accomplish some good.

I think one of their biggest obstacles is the number one subject under discussion. Money. The whole society has spent 55 years on welfare. That's an almost impossible bar to get over.

I was thinking about a related subject that [due to PC and "multiculturalism,"] is impossible to discuss at the Academic or elite level. The structural reasons for corruption in various cultures. The thing that stands out is how less corrupt the "Anglosphere" is compared to all the other cultures on the planet. There are "exceptions," but they stand out because they are exceptions.

The Judicial system developed by our English "common law" heritage, combined with the our approach to private property and capitalism as a societal base, stands out. But is this it? There has to be more.

"Feeding at Saudis' trough"

None dare call it incest:

Former U.S. envoys lobby for kingdom
- Jeff Stein
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Back in August 2002, a congressional delegation was traveling around Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 19 al Qaeda hijackers who less than a year earlier had launched the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

On one leg of the trip, in a big, white embassy van, Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, a former FBI agent, turned to the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan. He asked Jordan, in light of how the Sept. 11 attacks had revealed the Saudis' role in nurturing al Qaeda-connected charities and religious schools, whether Jordan, a big-time Houston oil and gas lawyer, would be the first U.S. ambassador to not go to work for the Saudis after leaving his post.

Jordan, who had George W. Bush as a client before he went to the White House, considered Rogers' question for a moment, and then politely declined to "take the pledge," according to a witness who recalled the episode.

Not that it mattered: Jordan's company, Baker Botts LLP -- that would be James Baker, secretary of state in the first Bush administration and lawyer for the second Bush in the 2000 Florida election deadlock -- already had a host of business clients in the royal kingdom, with offices in Riyadh and Dubai.

In any event, Jordan in 2003 joined the long list of U.S. ambassadors and other former American officials working directly or indirectly for the Saudi royal family. Rogers recently introduced a bill that would bar federal employees from representing foreign governments for four years after they leave public service. Also last week, the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution (HRes648) that sharply curtails lobbyists by foreign agents on the House floor. Rest at

"Appeals court upholds state marriage laws“

Polipundit passes this on:

A midlevel appeals court yesterday upheld state marriage laws, handing a defeat to dozens of same-sex couples seeking to ‘marry.’

‘In our opinion, the Legislature is where changes to marriages of the nature urged by plaintiffs should be addressed,’ Justice John Lahtinen said in the 5-0 decision….

Who knew there were so many constructionist judges over there in

New York State?

"The Long War"

Al Qaeda has 50-year plan, UK police say

Britain's anti-terrorism chief has said that it was likely to take police 50 years to get on top of Al Qaeda's comprehensive terror strategy.

Speaking at a conference at central London's military think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute, Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist branch, revealed that police were ''still learning'' about the nature of the Al Qaeda threat and how to deal with it.

Questioned as to whether the war against the international terror organisation would be won imminently, Mr Clarke replied he believed that to be "hopelessly optimistic".

"I only wish that could be the case but I very much doubt it," he told the conference, divulging that security intelligence thought Osama bin Laden and his followers had a 50-year "strategy" in place." Rest here

I Believe In Global Warming

That's what REDSTATE says:

But Not the Religious Doctrine of the Same Name
By: Blanton · Section: Culture

“Scientists . . . are predisposed to think major changes on earth are causes by men.”
There have been more and more news reports in the past few weeks on global warming. The latest reports allege that NASA censored some of its scientists who think the end of the world is upon us because of glaciers melting. I know that environmentalism in general and global warming in particular causes as much debate and sets off as many people as discussing evolution vs. intelligent design. The reason is the same; environmentalism like intelligent design, has become a religious doctrine that one must subscribe to through faith. But I want to offer a few thoughts anyway.

I believe in global warming. I think the planet is heating up. I really do. I think glaciers are melting. I also thing there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. I do not subscribe to the hockey stick graph. I think it was generated based on flawed science by scientists pushing an agenda.

Yes, I think global warming is cyclical and natural. Most scientists readily admit that our world has global cooling cycles -- in fact, we had one in the 19th Century. It stands to reason then that we also have global warming cycles. Most scientists admit that the sun has gone through a period of activity that has caused the earth to warm.
Rest here

A Tale of Two Vice Presidents

RCP BLOG says

So much focus on the current Vice President's poor aim, so little focus on the former Vice President's poor judgement. Dick Cheney accidentally blasted a friend in the face on Saturday in Texas. Al Gore purposefully blasted his country on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.

The Chicago Sun-Times picked up my column on the subject today:

As with most things in politics and diplomacy, context is everything. Gore didn't need to fly halfway around the world to apologize to Muslims living, working and going to school in the United States after 9/11. And if Gore believed America's treatment of Muslims after Sept. 11 to be so shameful, why hadn't he made it the centerpiece of one of the numerous, widely covered speeches he's given in the last few years?

But the bigger mystery is this: Did Gore really think his comments were beneficial to the United States of America? Was he putting the interests of his country first? Did he believe making an exaggerated claim of U.S. abuse of Muslims and then apologizing for it on Middle Eastern soil would somehow help build goodwill for the United States in the Islamic world?

Hamas taps moderate for Palestinian prime minister

Jihad Watch

There's that word, "moderate" again. A terrorist elected by popular acclaim must perforce become a moderate, right? From the Bandar Beacon also known as the Washington Post.

JERUSALEM -- Hamas leaders say they have agreed to nominate Ismail Haniyeh, a powerful party figure in the Gaza Strip, as prime minister when the Palestinian parliament convenes Saturday for the first time since the radical Islamic movement's electoral victory last month."
Rest here

Washington's Bumper Crop of Pot

REASON

A.P. reports that last year the value of marijuana seized by state and federal authorities in Washington state, estimated at a record $270 million, exceeded the value of the state's eighth biggest legal crop, sweet cherries. Depending on how good the government is at seizing marijuana, the total value of cannabis grown in Washington may even exceed that of apples, officially the state's biggest agricultural commodity and worth $963 million in 2004. (That would be the case if, for example, the government manages to find one in four plants.) These numbers, of course, are testimony neither to the relative demand for marijuana as compared to cherries and apples nor to the efficiency of the state's drug warriors but to the perverse effects of prohibition, which makes a dried weed worth half its weight in gold (or more)."

The Cartoon Riots Backfire

Strategy Page

February 17, 2006: Syria's attempt to leverage Moslem anger, over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed that have recently been published in some Western newspapers, seems to have backfired. By permitting the protest demonstrations against several Western embassies to turn into riots, the Syrian government appears to have been attempting to refurbish its connections with Islam. But some analysts in the region believe that the actual result has been to encourage anti-government Islamic extremists. This pattern is being seen in many Moslem nations, most of them run by dictators that normally do not allow free expression by the people."

"I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental..."

Ann Althouse

So the Senate Intelligence Committee is not going to investigate President Bush's (supposedly) controversial surveillance program. There was also a 96 to 3 vote today in the Senate not to hold up the Patriot Act. Quite a fizzle, no?"

Tuition Hits $25,000 at Elite Schools

The cost of educating a child at some L.A. campuses will soon reach Ivy League levels.
By Carla Rivera
LA Times Staff Writer

February 17, 2006

The Marlborough School, where two of Jody Fay's daughters are enrolled, is the kind of educational establishment she always dreamed of for her children: The private, all-girls school in Hancock Park offers small classes, specialized courses, individualized attention from top instructors. Sending her girls there is a gift, Fay believes, that will last a lifetime.

And it is a gift that does not come cheap.

The tuition at Marlborough next fall will top $25,000 — $25,250, to be exact — a 6% increase from this school year. And Marlborough is not an anomaly. For the first time, tuition at several of the most elite private schools in Los Angeles County will either reach $25,000 or hover very near that mark — and that does not include the standard fees that most schools charge, as well as other fundraising for which parents are expected to open their wallets.

Private schools have been steadily inching toward this once unheard-of benchmark. The new price tag is enough to cause any parent, however well-off, to blanch and has provoked discussion among educators about whether there is a tuition tipping point above which parents will balk.

And it underscores the lengths to which many parents will go to send their children to private school if they believe the outcome will be getting into a better college, a more promising career, a brighter future.
Rest here

"Popular Mechanics," of all places!

This magazine is doing a wonderful job of analyzing Katrina.

The Kindness Of Strangers
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina hundreds of volunteers rushed to New Orleans, bringing their own skiffs, airboats and helicopters. Working with local law enforcement, military units, even state wildlife officials, these ordinary civilians launched one of the largest ad hoc rescue efforts in U.S. history."

Read it here

Local "SysAdmin"

The African Peacekeeping Army Forms
Strategy Page
February 16, 2006: Recognizing that half of the world's peacekeeping problems are in Africa, in 2000, the members of the newly formed African Union agreed to create a standing African peacekeeping 'army." The goal was to have five or six such brigades, multi-national peacekeeping brigades of 3,000-5,000 troops each, ready for operations by 2010.
These will be permanent active multi-national brigades, with specialized staff and tactical training to maximize their effectiveness as peacekeepers. Each brigade is intended to be mono-lingual, with French, English, or Arabic as the most likely languages of command. will be So far two brigades have been created, and will begin operations shortly, an ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) brigade and a Southern African one. East African and Central African brigades are in various stages of formation. "
Rest here

More good news from Canada

Canada's Foreign Policy Turning Pro-American
American Thinker
February 17th, 2006

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has forcefully made clear his pledge to improve relations with the United States by appointing a pro-American business executive and former Conservative politician as the country’s new ambassador to Washington and firing the nation’s Liberal-Leftist ambassador to the United Nations and replacing him with a non-partisan career diplomat.President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney must be smiling today on the news that Michael Wilson will take over Liberal appointee Frank McKenna’s place in Washington, and that Allan Rock is being replaced at the UN by John McNee, currently Canadian ambassador to Belgium.
Rest here

Excellent Comparison

Hillary delayed releasing Foster's suicide note for 30 hours.

Vince Foster and Dick Cheney
American Thinker

Some observers have compared the White House’s handling of Dick Cheney’s accident to Vince Foster’s suspicious death in the summer of 1993. This comparison has been drawn mostly on the basis of delays in disclosure in both cases.

We know now the Clinton White House actively withheld information on this regrettable incident from the press, starting with the initial delay while they apparently worked on a major cover up. Numerous problems with the investigation ensued and serious misconduct was later exposed. White House Chief Counsel Bernard Nussbaum was eventually rebuked for mishandling this matter.
[-]
"Strangely, the incurious Washington Post never lifted a finger to advocate for the public’s right to know in this case. Lane in fact disparages the overly insistent “right wingers” that peskily persisted in pursuit of the truth. The Post shows an unhealthy contempt for the truth especially if it is at odds with establishment orthodoxy-that is the Democrat Establishment.

While the Cheney story has not run its course, in all probability this will turn out to be much adoo about nothing adding yet another chapter to the Post’s journalistic legacy-such as it is. The copmparison with the handling of Foster’s death shows in stark relief what is meant by “media bias.”
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The Second Mexican War

Lawrence Auster has a great essay at "FrontPage"

The Mexican invasion of the United States began decades ago as a spontaneous migration of ordinary Mexicans into the U.S. seeking economic opportunities. It has morphed into a campaign to occupy and gain power over our country—a project encouraged, abetted, and organized by the Mexican state and supported by the leading elements of Mexican society.

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As an example of the latter, the Mexican consulates automatically denounce, as "biased," virtually all law enforcement activities against Mexican illegals inside the U.S. The Mexican authorities tolerate deportations of illegals if U.S. officials arrest them at the border and promptly send them back to the other side—whence they can try again the next day. But once an illegal is inside the U.S. and away from the border, he gains untouchable status in the eyes of Mexican consuls, and any U.S. law enforcement activity against him is seen as an abuse of his rights.



The Mexican consulates actively campaign in U.S. elections on matters affecting illegal aliens. In November 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which reaffirmed existing state law that requires proof of citizenship in order to vote and to receive welfare benefits. The Mexican consul general in Phoenix sent out press releases urging Hispanics to vote against it. After the law passed, Mexico’s foreign minister threatened to bring suit in international tribunals for this supposedly egregious human rights violation, and the Phoenix consulate supported the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s federal lawsuit against the proposition.



The consulates also help spread Mexican culture. We are not speaking here of the traditional activity in which embassies and consulates represent their country's culture in a friendly and educational way to the host country—we are speaking of consulates acting as agents of the Mexican state's imperialistic agenda. Each of Mexico’s consulates in the U.S. has a mandate to introduce Mexican textbooks (that's Mexican textbooks) into U.S. schools with significant Hispanic populations. The Mexican consulate in Los Angeles bestowed nearly 100,000 textbooks on 1,500 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District this year alone.



It has also been proposed that Mexicans in the U.S. vote in Mexican elections in designated electoral districts in the United States. Under this proposal, California, for example, might have seats in the Mexican Congress, specifically representing Mexicans residing in that state. The governing PRI party of President Fox has opposed this idea, not out of respect for U.S. sovereignty, but out of fear that most Mexicans in the U.S. would vote against the PRI. Meanwhile, another of Mexico's three major parties, the leftist PRD, urges the designation of the entire U.S. as the sixth Mexican electoral district.

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HAUNTING SPECTER

John J. Miller at "The Corner

From the front page of yesterday's USA Today:

Sen. Arlen Specter helped direct almost $50 million in Pentagon spending during the past four years to clients of the husband of one of his top aides, records show.

Specter, R-Pa., used a process called "earmarking" 13 times to set aside $48.7 million for six clients represented by lobbyist Michael Herson and the firm he co-founded, American Defense International. The clients paid Herson's firm nearly $1.5 million in fees since 2002, federal lobbying records show.

Today's follow-up story reports that although Specter denies any wrongdoing, he wants the Senate ethics committee to investigate his staff's behavior.

JUDGES DEFER TO THE PEOPLE!

John Derbyshire at "The Corner"

"February 17, 2006 -- ALBANY — A midlevel state appeals court yesterday upheld New York's ban on gay marriage, saying any changes in the law should be left to the Legislature, not the courts. 'We are not persuaded that it is irrational for the Legislature to preserve the historic legal and cultural understanding of marriage,' wrote the five-judge panel of the Appellate Division, Third Department. The issue will be decided by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals."

[Derb] Jumpin' jurisprudence, Batman! A panel of judges actually deferring to the legislature on major social change! Someone must have been handing out sensible pills up in Albany."

WHAT SUPPORT? [Michael Ledeen]

Ledeen comments at the corner:

I keep reading and hearing from Iran "experts" that the Iranian people support the country's nuclear program. There are no data, only anecdotes, to support this conclusion. I'm undecided on this one, but a short article from the latest on "Rooz" is tilting me against it:

The ROOZ Online reporter from Tehran reports that one week after Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) instructed the Iranian media not to portray the country’s referral by the IAEA to the UN Security Council as a diplomatic failure, it has sent out another circular asking the press not to criticize Iran’s nuclear issue.

If the leaders were confident that the people supported the nuclear program, they wouldn't be so frantic in censoring any criticism of it, don't you think?"

Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted

DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture. The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
By William Lobdell
LA Times Staff Writer
February 16, 2006

From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.

"We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people," said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. "It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God."

A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.

"I've gone through stages," he said. "Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness."

For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error. Rest at

Thursday, February 16, 2006

You think you are a "conservative Democrat?" Dream on, Victor. :>)

We update questions daily in response to questions asked by the readership. If you have a question for Victor Davis Hanson send it to author@victorhanson.com

February 2006

You have alluded in the past to your “conservative Democrat” identity. Please describe what a Conservative Democratic agenda would espouse economically, domestically, and in terms of defense and foreign policy.

Hanson: Good question. Let's imagine.

1. Economically: an end to subsidies to large corporate concerns. No more money for corporate agriculture, which compromises competition and goes to those hardly in need. Some sort of taxation that is either flat or nearly so, and eliminates evasion through phony write-offs. A balanced budget and an end to borrowing for programs we cannot afford, both subsidies for left-wing failed programs and right-wing conglomerates. Some sort of energy policy that weans us off imported petroleum by a balance between conservation, energy exploration, nuclear power, methanol and ethanol, and coal.

2. Domestically: protection of the border and an end to illegal immigration, both to promote the melting pot and to end the undermining of lower-end wages for Americans by the massive influx of illegal alien labor. Less advocacy for radical abortion, homosexual marriage, radical environmentalism and a host of cultural issues that special interests insist upon, but are not embraced by the majority of Americans. No more ethnic separatism but a return to the melting pot and an end to identity politics. More attention to the Midwest and less to Hollywood and the upper-West Side, since populism as advanced by boutique millionaires is a hard sell.

3. Defense and foreign policy: an end to Gorism, in which a Jimmy Carter or Al Gore travel the globe to apologize for American policies to their autocratic hosts. Something akin to Harry Truman or JFK is needed, in which Democratic foreign policy seeks to forge a bipartisan consensus with Republicans, jettisons the Vietnam War era trash-the-United-States mindset, and appreciates that millions come here for a reason. I wouldn't let a Moveon.org mouthpiece, Cindy Sheehan, George Soros, or Hollywood actor speak for any Democrat.

I confess I just don't feel a John Kerry (who thinks American soldiers are terrorizers), or Al Gore (who tells the dictatorial Saudis that the U.S. hurts Arabs), or a Howard Dean (who believes the war is unwinnable and George Bush may have had advance knowledge of 9/11) or Ted Kennedy (who charges that we were no different from Saddam at Abu Ghraib) or Dick Durban (who said we were Nazi-like at Guantanamo) in a post-9/11 world can be trusted with the nation's security.

Here two facts are cognizant: 1) the American people agree since they have not elected a Democratic President without a southern accent (an apparent symptom of conservatism) in nearly a half-century and only then under extraordinary circumstances (a preceding assassination, Watergate, or the presence of a third-party conservative like Ross Perot); and; 2) the foreign policies of both Jimmy Carter (the invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian hostage-taking, the Sandinista take-over, the Cambodian holocaust, the Soviet adventurism and Olympic boycott, the erosion in U.S. military preparedness, etc.) and Bill Clinton (global apologies, Pakistani nuclearization with similar programs hatched in Iran and North Korea, and, of course, the precursors of September 11, from the relatively unanswered first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, the East African embassies, the USS Cole, etc.) were mostly disasters. Note too how similar the Democratic left has become to the isolationist policies of the Buchanan Right; read The Nation and The American Conservative: they are almost identical now."

Freedom in Farsi

WSJ.com Review and outlook
For an Administration looking to spend $35 billion in foreign aid next year, the $85 million it plans to devote to democracy promotion in Iran may seem niggardly. But look at it this way: The request is more than seven times what the Administration had previously budgeted for 2006, and nearly 40 times what it spent in 2005. The sums may still be small, but at least the trend is positive.

"The United States will actively confront the policies of this Iranian regime, and at the same time we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their own country," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday. Ms. Rice promised to improve and expand the Voice of America's television and radio transmissions to Iran, support Iran's labor movement and provide scholarships for visiting Iranian students.

We are skeptics of most foreign aid, but the VOA's Farsi broadcasts have proved to be money well spent. "Next Chapter," a youth-oriented TV show that airs samizdat political videos, is a hit in Iran, as is the VOA's Radio Farda (meaning "Tomorrow"). Labor unions are also a potent source of political opposition in Iran, just as they were during the Communist era in Poland. The current Iranian bus drivers' strike has led to the arrest of hundreds of drivers, evidence of the regime's fear of where the strike might lead.

A larger dose of VOA programming won't solve the looming crisis over Iran's nuclear programs. But as we learned with the old Soviet Bloc, totalitarian regimes are often more brittle than they seem. Outside of Israel, the U.S. may have no better friend in the Middle East than the Iranian people. The more we make our voices heard over there, the likelier it is that they will someday have a chance to make their voices heard too. WSJ.com opinion

China Seeking Auto Industry, Piece by Piece

The New York Times
By KEITH BRADSHER

CHONGQING, China, Feb. 16 — China is pursuing a novel way to catapult its automaking into a global force: buy one of the world's most sophisticated engine plants, take it apart, piece by piece, transport it halfway around the globe and put it back together again at home.

In the latest sign of this country's manufacturing ambitions, a major Chinese company, hand-in-hand with the Communist Party, is bidding to buy from DaimlerChrysler and BMW a car engine plant in Brazil.

Because the plant is so sophisticated, it is far more feasible for the Chinese carmaker, the Lifan Group, to go through such an effort to move it 8,300 miles, rather than to develop its own technology in this industrial hub in western China, the company's president said Thursday.

If the purchase succeeds — and it is early in the process — China could leapfrog competitors like South Korea to catch up with Japan, Germany and the United States in selling some of the most fuel-efficient yet comfortable cars on the market, like the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla.
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The "Domestic Surveillance" issue has reversed.

Looks like the issue now is how to change the laws, not chastise the Administration.

"The New York Times
February 17, 2006
Accord in House to Hold Inquiry on Surveillance
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 — Leaders of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that they had agreed to open a Congressional inquiry prompted by the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program. But a dispute immediately broke out among committee Republicans over the scope of the inquiry.

Representative Heather A. Wilson, the New Mexico Republican and committee member who called last week for the investigation, said the review "will have multiple avenues, because we want to completely understand the program and move forward."

But an aide to Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who leads the committee, said the inquiry would be much more limited in scope, focusing on whether federal surveillance laws needed to be changed and not on the eavesdropping program itself.

The agreement to conduct an inquiry came as the Senate Intelligence Committee put off a vote on conducting its own investigation after the White House, reversing course, agreed to open discussions about changing federal surveillance law. Senate Democrats accused Republicans of bowing to White House pressure.

For weeks, the Bush administration has been strongly resisting calls from Democrats and some Republicans for a full review into the National Security Agency's surveillance program, saying such inquiries are unnecessary and risked disclosing national security information that could help Al Qaeda.
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The Euros are Wobbly

International Herald Tribune
U.S. fights wavering of its allies on Hamas
U.S. fights wavering of its allies on Hamas
By Steven R. Weisman The New York Times
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2006

WASHINGTON Three days before a Hamas-led Parliament is to be installed in the Palestinian territories, the Bush administration is struggling to maintain a united front with its European and Arab allies to make good on the threat to cut off financial aid if Hamas does not renounce its anti-Israel positions, American officials say.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to the Middle East next week, in part to make sure that the Saudis and other rich Gulf states do not try to make up the difference if the West cuts off its portion of the $1 billion a year in outside assistance that has kept the Palestinians afloat for several years, the American officials said.

Similar expressions have been conveyed to Europeans, even though Americans acknowledge that European instincts are different from those of the United States: European leaders want to find ways to continue payments to at least some parts of the Palestinian government, even under Hamas.

"The next phase of American diplomacy will be coalition maintenance," said a senior administration official. "We need to convince everyone that now that we've set the goal, we have to apply pressure and see it through. But we're going through a period of uncertainty and we're going to have to learn to live with it."

Administration officials said that the disclosure in The New York Times that top Israeli and American officials were discussing ways for a cutoff to lead to chaos in the Palestinian areas, forcing new elections later this year, has complicated their efforts to bring Arabs and Europeans along.

Arab and European officials said they definitely do not see things this way.

"For us, it's going to be very difficult to sit by and not to do anything if the Palestinian people seem to be suffering from a blockade," said a European official. "Unless this situation is managed, we're going to have a problem. It's clear that Europeans don't want chaos in the Palestinian territories."
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The fear is that if these people were thrown out of work, a third of the Palestinian population would lose its breadwinners. Perhaps worse, such a result would throw into the street people with weapons, who might then join extremist militias."
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NBC Winter Games Are Becoming TV Also-Ran

From the NYT
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
and BILL CARTER

TURIN, Italy, Feb. 16 — NBC's Olympic broadcasts have never faced the kind of strong counterprogramming that is being deployed by the "American Idol" series on the Fox network and other popular shows on ABC.

"Idol" has trounced the Winter Olympic Games twice and will face them three more times next week, starting Tuesday, the first night of women's figure skating. ABC's and Fox's audacity underscores their belief that NBC, the No. 4 network in prime time, is vulnerable, even during the mighty Olympics.

On Tuesday, two days after a cliffhanger episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" outrated the Olympics, "Idol" attracted 27 million viewers from 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern, crushing NBC's 16.1 million. The next night, when they met again from 8 to 9, "Idol" expanded its lead in the second half-hour with 31.1 million viewers to NBC's 15.4 million. Rest At

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