Sunday, January 31, 2010

Has Obama accepted that Iran will become a nuclear power?

According to administration and military officials, the Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of missile defense systems in the Persian Gulf.  The White House has declined comment about the deployments, but the New York Times quotes unnamed officials about the aims of the moves:

“Our first goal is to deter the Iranians,” said one senior administration official. “A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don’t feel they have to go nuclear themselves. But there is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well.”

Today on Fox News, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton described the acceleration of defense systems as a continuation of policies begun in the Bush administration.  But he also expressed concern that it may be a sign that the Obama administration has accepted that Iran will become a nuclear power, and recent moves are just the first steps in extending a "defensive umbrella"  as described by Secretary of State Clinton in a warning to Iran last July.

If Ambassador Bolton is concerned that the Obama administration is resigned to a nuclear Iran, you can be sure Israel will not be calmed by a few Patriot missile systems scattered about the region. 

Pakistan state television: Taliban chief dead

Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud is dead according to Pakistan state television.  According to a Fox News correspondent in Pakistan, intelligence sources confirm that Mehsud was injured in a U.S. drone attack around January 14th and subsequently succumbed to his injuries.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

If the latest reports of his demise prove true, it would be the second time in six months that American missiles have slain the leader of the Pakistan Taliban; Mr. Mehsud's predecessor -- Baitullah Mehsud (no relation) -- was killed in August by a U.S. drone.

Sunday's report also was not the first time Hakimullah Mehsud, who is in his late 20s or early 30s, was said to have died. For almost two months after he was named the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, an offshoot of the Afghan movement, Pakistani and U.S. officials insisted he had been killed in a power struggle for control of the group. The rumors didn't stop circulating until he held a small press conference in the tribal areas in early October.

Mr. Mehsud has since gone on to order a series of terror attacks on Pakistan's major cities. But he has also faced an onslaught from Pakistan's army in his home base, the South Waziristan tribal area.

At the same time, he has moved up the U.S. hit list. The U.S. attempts to kill Mr. Mehsud with missile strikes increased after the release in January of a video showing him with the al Qaeda double agent who blew himself up at an American base in eastern Afghanistan in late December, killing seven agents and contractors for the Central Intelligence Agency.
The CIA has had the difficult mission of protecting our interests abroad while simultaneously being undermined and interrogated by our own justice department, and impugned and second-guessed by the speaker of the house. The seven CIA casualties sustained in last month's homicide bomber attack in Afghanistan was second only to the eight killed in the Beirut embassy bombing in 1983.  It's been a tough year for the CIA.  Hopefully the elimination of the second Pakistan Taliban chief in six months portends a better year ahead for these brave Americans.

Former spy chief rips Obama terror policy

Former CIA director, Michael Hayden, rips the Obama administration's handling of terrorism in today's Washington Post.  It is a comprehensive overview of the missteps made by the executive branch in the year since Obama's inauguration.  This comes less than two weeks after Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence was taken to the woodshed for admitting that officials had botched the handling of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to bring down a Detroit-bound jet carrying 290 passengers and crew.

Hayden specifically delineates how the CIA would have handled the interrogation differently:

In the 50 minutes the FBI had to question him, agents reportedly got actionable intelligence. Good. But were there any experts on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the room (other than Abdulmutallab)? Was there anyone intimately familiar with any National Security Agency raw traffic to, from or about the captured terrorist? Did they have a list or photos of suspected recruits?

When questioning its detainees, the CIA routinely turns the information provided over to its experts for verification and recommendations for follow-up. The responses of these experts -- "Press him more on this, he knows the details" or "First time we've heard that" -- helps set up more detailed questioning.

None of that happened in Detroit. In fact, we ensured that it wouldn't. After the first session, the FBI Mirandized Abdulmutallab and -- to preserve a potential prosecution -- sent in a "clean team" of agents who could have no knowledge of what Abdulmutallab had provided before he was given his constitutional warnings. As has been widely reported, Abdulmutallab then exercised his right to remain silent.
General Hayden concludes by pointing out the perverse priorities of the Obama administration.

Actually, Blair suggested that the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), announced by the administration in August, should have been called in. A government spokesman later pointed out that the group does not yet exist.

There's a final oddity. In August, the government unveiled the HIG for questioning al-Qaeda and announced that the FBI would begin questioning CIA officers about the alleged abuses in the 2004 inspector general's report. They are apparently still getting organized for the al-Qaeda interrogations. But the interrogations of CIA personnel are well underway.
 Read the whole thing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Nobel Peace Prize President sends Aegis cruisers and Patriot missiles to the Middle East

The New York Times is reporting that the U.S. is escalating efforts to provide missile defense to its reluctant allies in the Middle East.:

The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.

Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait have accepted American Patriot missiles, military officials said.

The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama’s dealings with Iran. He is warning that his diplomatic outreach will now be combined with the “consequences,” as he put it in the State of the Union address, of the country’s continued defiance on its nuclear program. The administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Western nations say controls the military side of the nuclear program.

As part of that effort, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly warned China on Friday that its opposition to sanctions was shortsighted.

The news that the United States is deploying antimissile defenses — including a rare public discussion of them by Gen. David H. Petraeus — appears to be part of a coordinated administration strategy to increase pressure on Iran.

The deployments are also partly intended to counter the impression that Iran is fast becoming the most powerful military force in the Middle East and to forestall any Iranian escalation of its confrontation with the West if a new set of sanctions is imposed. In addition, the administration is trying to show Israel that there is no immediate need for military strikes against Iranian nuclear and missile facilities, according to administration officials, all of whom requested anonymity.

By highlighting the defensive nature of the buildup the administration was hoping to avoid a sharp response from Tehran.
So the buildup is designed to allay the existential fears of Israel while simultaneously avoiding a sharp response from Iran?  Meanwhile, Obama sends Secretary of State Clinton to Paris to scold China for its lack of support for Iranian sanctions in the same week that his administration announced  its plans to sell $6.4 billion of weapons and aircraft to Taiwan in compliance with the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

The President's stalled domestic agenda is about to look like a cake walk.

Every picture tells a story don't it?

From Investors Business Daily:
With the economy posting its best gain in six years, you'd think stocks would rally too. And so they did on Friday — for about an hour. Then it was all downhill. Why? Ask Lincoln.

It was old Abe who said you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.

To which we'd that add you can't fool the stock market very much any of the time. It simply has too much going for it: millions of investors all over the world poring over every scintilla of evidence that could influence market direction.

And that includes government policy as well as market and economic conditions. And right now, the market seems to be saying: "It's the policies, stupid." Specifically, the socialistic policies that the Obama administration keeps pushing at Americans who know that's not the way this great country was built.

It isn't just the efforts to socialize medicine or nationalize the car industry or control banks or punish both consumers and industry for climate variations that have little to do with it either. It's every initiative that comes out of this White House.

We got another raft of them in last Wednesday's State of the Union address. Sure, there were good ideas here and there, and we made a point of highlighting them in this space Friday. But most of the others will do little to strengthen the country or the economy, and we're surprised the president's more experienced advisers allow them to be advanced.

But maybe that's the problem. Such advisers are few and far between in this White House. The chart below, which we've run before, shows that this crew has less real-world experience than any other administration since at least Teddy Roosevelt's.

Small wonder, then, that this White House is so anti-business, and that stocks have turned south. None of this gets by a market that is hypersensitive to such realities.
John Hinderaker at Power Line notes:

President Obama's lack of private sector experience is probably his single biggest weakness. The fact that he does not value such experience in his top advisers shows a serious lack of judgment. One would think that if Obama wants to run automobile companies, banks, insurance companies and who knows what else, he would want to have someone on hand who has done it before.

More junk climate science at the IPCC

Just hours before the State of the Union address in which President Obama implored congress to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill, yet another blow was delivered to the battered credibility of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  From Fox News:

A United Nations report on climate change that has been lambasted for its faulty research is under new attack for yet another instance of what its critics say is sloppy science -- adding to a growing scandal that has undermined the credibility of scientists and policymakers who back the U.N.'s findings about global warming.

In the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), issued in 2007 by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists wrote that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest in South America was endangered by global warming.

But that assertion was discredited this week when it emerged that the findings were based on numbers from a study by the World Wildlife Federation that had nothing to do with the issue of global warming -- and that was written by a freelance journalist and green activist.
A blog skeptical of global warming, EUReferendum, uncovered the WWF association. Taken together with Climategate and the Himalayan melting glacier fabrication, I think that's three strikes for the IPCC, and by extension, cap and trade.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Lech Walesa campaigns for Andrzejewski in Chicago

This post is written for my children and their friends and contemporaries, most of whom attended government schools, and may not have learned about Lech Walesa.  This week Mr. Walesa is in Chicago campaigning for Republican Candidate for Governor Adam Andrzejewski.  Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV reminds us of exactly who Walesa is:

A Polish politician who spearheaded the movement that led to the fall of communism in Poland is taking a stand in Illinois politics.

Lech Walesa, the former polish president, is endorsing Polish-American Adam Andrzejewski in the Republican race for governor.

Walesa [is] an iconic figure of Poland's rise from communism but today Lech Walesa is hoping to give Adam Andrzejewski a lift in the race for governor. The two men joined together for an event at the Union League Club of Chicago.
This description is inadequate.  Mr Walesa did not start out as a politician.  He was a shipyard worker in the Polish city of Gdansk.  The following is excerpted from the Nobel website:

Lech Walesa was born on September 29, 1943 in Popowo, Poland. After graduating from vocational school, he worked as a car mechanic at a machine center from 1961 to 1965. He served in the army for two years, rose to the rank of corporal, and in 1967 was employed in the Gdansk shipyards as an electrician. In 1969 he married Danuta Golos and they have eight children.

During the clash in December 1970 between the workers and the government, he was one of the leaders of the shipyard workers and was briefly detained. In 1976, however, as a result of his activities as a shop steward, he was fired and had to earn his living by taking temporary jobs.

In 1978 with other activists he began to organise free non-communist trade unions and took part in many actions on the sea coast. He was kept under surveillance by the state security service and frequently detained.

In August 1980 he led the Gdansk shipyard strike which gave rise to a wave of strikes over much of the country with Walesa seen as the leader. The primary demands were for workers' rights. The authorities were forced to capitulate and to negotiate with Walesa the Gdansk Agreement of August 31, 1980, which gave the workers the right to strike and to organise their own independent union. [snip]

The country's brief enjoyment of relative freedom ended in December 1981, when General Jaruzelski, fearing Soviet armed intervention among other considerations, imposed martial law, "suspended" Solidarity, arrested many of its leaders, and interned Walesa in a country house in a remote spot.

In November 1982 Walesa was released and reinstated at the Gdansk shipyards. Although kept under surveillance, he managed to maintain lively contact with Solidarity leaders in the underground. While martial law was lifted in July 1983, many of the restrictions were continued in civil code. In October 1983 the announcement of Walesa's Nobel prize raised the spirits of the underground movement, but the award was attacked by the government press.

The Jaruzelski regime became even more unpopular as economic conditions worsened, and it was finally forced to negotiate with Walesa and his Solidarity colleagues. The result was the holding of parliamentary elections which, although limited, led to the establishment of a non-communist government. Under Mikhail Gorbachev the Soviet Union was no longer prepared to use military force to keep communist parties in satellite states in power.

Walesa, now head of the revived Solidarity labour union, began a series of meetings with world leaders.

In April 1990 at Solidarity's second national congress, Walesa was elected chairman with 77.5% of the votes. In December 1990 in a general ballot he was elected President of the Republic of Poland. He served until defeated in the election of November 1995.
It is not surprising that the leftist Nobel website doesn't mention the critical support the Poles received from President Ronald Reagan during this historic period. But Lech Walesa did not forget.  When President Reagan passed away in 2004, Walesa wrote a touching tribute in the Wall Street Journal which I reread today.  He said, in part:
When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can't be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989.

Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.

I often wondered why Ronald Reagan did this, taking the risks he did, in supporting us at Solidarity, as well as dissident movements in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, while pushing a defense buildup that pushed the Soviet economy over the brink. Let's remember that it was a time of recession in the U.S. and a time when the American public was more interested in their own domestic affairs. It took a leader with a vision to convince them that there are greater things worth fighting for. Did he seek any profit in such a policy? Though our freedom movements were in line with the foreign policy of the United States, I doubt it.

I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They're convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for. Otherwise they would consider their life and work pointless. Only such politicians are great politicians and Ronald Reagan was one of them.
Read the whole thing here.

It is difficult to know what political capital Walesa brings to the Illinois governor's race.  But I'm sure the Gipper is proud of his attempt. Today Publius at Big Government said it well:

Today, in Chicago, anti-Communist hero Lech Walesa is headlining a Tea Party Rally. The Rally is in support of Republican Candidate for Governor Adam Andrzejewski. 20+ years ago an American President helped Lech take back his country. Today Lech returns the favor and helps us take back ours.

Negotiating with a terrorist

The Washington Post reports that unnamed officials are closing in on a deal with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab:

Authorities are inching toward an agreement that would secure cooperation from the suspect in the failed Detroit airliner attack, according to two sources familiar with the case, even as fresh details emerged about the intense and chaotic response to the Christmas Day incident.

Seizing on the near miss, GOP lawmakers have mounted a sustained attack on President Obama and the Justice Department, saying they may have lost out on valuable intelligence by charging Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in a federal court rather than under the military justice system.
Marc Theissen asks the obvious question.  Are they kidding?

The Washington Post reports today that “authorities are inching toward an agreement that would secure cooperation from the suspect in the failed Detroit airliner attack.” Inching is the operative word here. It’s been over a month now that this terrorist has been exercising his “right to remain silent.” Each day that goes by when he does not talk is an outrage.

The Post adds that “public defenders for the Nigerian student are engaged in negotiations that could result in an agreement to share more information and eventually a guilty plea, the sources said. Negotiations could still collapse before the next scheduled court date, in April, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.”

April? Negotiations “could still collapse”? Are they kidding?

What Obama officials don’t seem to understand is that the intelligence Abdulmutallab has is perishable. He was supposed to be vaporized with the plane when it exploded. As soon as al-Qaeda learned he had survived, they began shutting down e-mail accounts, bank accounts, moving and hiding operatives, and closing the intelligence trails he could lead us down. Every second, every minute, every day he did not talk resulted in lost counterterrorism opportunities. If he starts talking three months from now, that’s not good enough.
I can't decide which is more outrageous:  the fact that we are negotiating with a terrorist or the fact we are negotiating with a terrorist from a wealthy family through a taxpayer funded public defender.

Momentum builds to move terrorist trials out of Manhattan

The Obama administration has directed the Justice Department to look for alternate venues for the trials of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four 9/11 co-defendents.  From New York Daily News:

The White House ordered the Justice Department Thursday night to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would "prefer that they did it elsewhere" and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Fox News reports:

The White House denied a New York Daily News report that it ordered the Department of Justice to find a new location for the trials, which are sure to attract massive publicity and require intense security preparations wherever they are held.

However, senior administration officials confirm alternative trial locations are being sought because Congress is almost sure to deny President Obama the funds necessary to conduct the trials, as originally planned, in the federal courthouse mere blocks away from the Twin Towers, the epicenter of the 9/11 attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 civilians.

"The discussions are under way in case the option of holding the trials in New York City is foreclosed upon at either the state or the federal level," an Obama administration official said.

Up to now, the Obama administration has stood by Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to move the suspects, including self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York to be tried in federal court rather than before a military commission, as many Republicans have demanded.
It is very interesting to watch the flip-flopping by the Democrats on this issue since the historic GOP senate win in Massachusetts.  New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand both signaled their support for alternative trials sites after Mayor Bloomberg reversed his support for the Manhattan trial on Wednesday.

Representative Peter King has introduced legislation to deny funding for the trial if it is held in New York:

King's legislation already has backing from Republicans in the House and Senate. Some Democrats also say they want to keeps the terror trials out of lower Manhattan.

"It's I believe the most irresponsible decision any pres or attorney general has ever made," said King.
The White House and the Justice Department need to wake up to the political reality that Americans do not want these trials to be held in criminal courts within our borders.  To the extent that they continue to pursue other U.S. venues, they can only expect this controversy to grow.  That will not help the Democrats in the mid-term elections in November.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama takes an 'almost unprecedented' swipe at the SCOTUS

In his first State of the Union address, President Obama delivered a rare scolding to members of the Supreme Court, seated right in front of him.  Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett believes the President was out of line (H/T

In the history of the State of the Union has any President ever called out the Supreme Court by name, and egged on the Congress to jeer a Supreme Court decision, while the Justices were seated politely before him surrounded by hundreds Congressmen? To call upon the Congress to countermand (somehow) by statute a constitutional decision, indeed a decision applying the First Amendment? What can this possibly accomplish besides alienating Justice Kennedy who wrote the opinion being attacked. Contrary to what we heard during the last administration, the Court may certainly be the object of presidential criticism without posing any threat to its independence. But this was a truly shocking lack of decorum and disrespect towards the Supreme Court for which an apology is in order. A new tone indeed.

The Blog of Legal Times researched Professor Barnett's opening question and concluded:

President Barack Obama's pointed criticism of the Supreme Court in tonight's State of the Union address, which we reported on here and here was beyond unusual; it was almost unprecedented. The third branch rarely even merits a mention in the State of the Union speeches, according to a search we've made going back to Woodrow Wilson's speech in 1913 in this University of California Santa Barbara database. (Thanks to editor David Brown for the research.)

Presidents have mentioned the Supreme Court by name only nine times since that Wilson speech nearly a century ago, according to the search, and it would be hard to categorize many of those nine as criticisms.
When Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted "You lie!" during the President's health care address in September, he had the good sense to call the White House and issue a statement of regret immediately.  The President should apologize to our Supreme Court justices, but doing so would require introspection and humility, qualities that have not been evident heretofore.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

17-year old woman rescued in Haiti after 15 days

Please pray for Darlene Etienne, who was lifted from the ruins of Port Au Prince today:

French rescuers pulled a teenage girl from the rubble of a home near the destroyed St. Gerard University on Wednesday, a stunning recovery 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city.

Darlene Etienne, near death from dehydration and a broken leg, was rushed to a French military field hospital and then to a hospital ship, groaning through an oxygen mask with her eyes open in a lost stare.

"She's alive!" said paramedic Paul Francois-Valette, who accompanied her into the hospital.

Her family said Etienne, 17, had just started studying when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staff in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes.

"We thought she was dead," her cousin, Jocelyn A. St. Jules, said in a telephone call from Marche Dessalines, a town north of the capital.

A voice from the rubble

Neighbors who heard a voice coming from the rubble of a private home down the road from the collapsed university called authorities who brought in the search and rescue team Wednesday.

Rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the dangerously crumbled roof, heard the voice and then saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. He said he cleared some debris, managed to reach the young woman and could see she was alive.

The team then dug out a hole big enough to give Etienne some oxygen and water. She had a very weak pulse, but within 45 minutes they managed to remove her, covered in dust, from what appeared to be the collapsed porch area of the home.

"It's exceptional. She spoke to us in a very little voice; she was extremely weak," Fuilla said. "Before we stabilized her she was extremely dehydrated and weak. She had a very low blood pressure.

"She couldn't really talk to us or say how long she'd been there, but I think she'd been there since the earthquake. I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours."

Etienne did mumble something about having a little Coca-Cola with her in the rubble, he said. While Fuilla said she was rescued from what appeared to be the porch area of the house, a neighbor said he believed it was the shower room, where she might have had access to water.
It will be a true miracle if Darlene survives this ordeal.  I humbly send up heartfelt prayers for her full recovery, and heartfelt kudos to the French rescue team that found her.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Speaking of Super Bowl ads ...........

From Daniel Foster at the Corner:

A reader points to this ad from, which was supposed to run in the 2004 Superbowl, but was rejected by CBS. It shows young children working blue-collar jobs to "pay for" President Bush's $1 trillion deficit.

Do you think will submit an ad for this year's Super Bowl protesting Obama's projected 2010 1.35 trillion deficit?

Shock: Democratic polling outfit admits Fox is the most trusted name in news

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared alone on Fox News Sunday, signaling what may be the end of the President's war on the network.  Results of a recent poll conducted by the Democratic polling group Public Polling Policy suggest this is a smart move:

A new poll asking Americans whether they trust each of the major television news operations in the country finds that the only one getting a positive review is Fox News. CNN does next best followed by NBC News, then CBS News, and finally ABC News.

49% of Americans say they trust Fox News to 37% who disagree. Predictably there is a large party split on this with 74% of Republicans but only 30% of Democrats saying they trust the right leaning network.

CNN does next best because it is the second most trusted of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. 39% say they trust it compared to 41% who do not, with 59% of Democrats, 33% of independents and 23% of Republicans saying it carries credibility with them.

The major networks all have the majority trust of Democrats but less than 20% from Republicans. NBC, perhaps because of the ideological bent of MSNBC, does the best among Democrats at 62%. Overall 35% of voters trust it to 44% who do not. CBS does the worst among Republicans, with 69% distrusting it. A plurality of independentsexpress distrust of all five outlets we tested.
These results may also explain why CBS has agreed to air the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad. (H/T Jennifer Rubin).

Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad drives these women crazy

On January 15, Focus on the Family announced that the organization would broadcast a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow.   Fearing a favorable response to what is expected to be a pro-life message, critics are predictably coming out of the woodwork.  From the AP:

A national coalition of women's groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together," said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women's Media Center.

The center was coordinating the protest with backing from the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups.

CBS said it has approved the script for the 30-second ad and has given no indication that the protest would have an impact. A network spokesman, Dana McClintock, said CBS would ensure that any issue-oriented ad was "appropriate for air."

The ad — paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family — is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.

The controversy over the ad was raised Sunday when Tebow met with reporters in Mobile, Ala., before beginning preparations for next weekend's Senior Bowl.

"I know some people won't agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe," Tebow said. "I've always been very convicted of it (his views on abortion) because that's the reason I'm here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it." [snip]

The protest letter from the Women's Media Center suggested that CBS should have turned down the ad in part because it was conceived by Focus on the Family.

"By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers," the letter said.
If CBS can survive Dan Rathergate, David Letterman's adultery/blackmail scandal and the famous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, I think they will survive an ad which celebrates family and life.

Democrats say reconciliation last, best hope for health care

If you thought last week's election of Republican Scott Brown put an end to the Democrats plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system, think again.  From the AP:

Democratic congressional leaders are coalescing around their last, best hope for salvaging President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul.

Their plan is to pass the Senate bill with some changes to accommodate House Democrats, senior Democratic aides said Monday. Leaders will present the idea to the rank and file this week, but it’s unclear whether they have enough votes to carry it out.

Last week’s victory by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts cost Democrats the 60th vote they need to maintain undisputed control of the Senate, jeopardizing the outcome of the health care bill just when Obama had brokered a final deal on most of the major issues. [snip]

The procedural route — known as reconciliation — would allow a majority of 51 senators to amend their bill to address some of the major substantive concerns raised by the House. That would circumvent the need for a 60-vote majority to hold off Republican delaying tactics.

The remaining alternatives are unappealing: scaling back the health care bill to less controversial, smaller pieces, or setting it aside altogether.

Momentum is growing to pass the Senate bill with compromises agreed on by the president and congressional leaders, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “Are they there yet? No,” he said.

Among those arguing for a quick strike on health care is David Plouffe, the political adviser who helped elect Obama president and has just been summoned back by the White House to help coordinate this year’s elections.

“I know that the short-term politics are bad,” Plouffe argued in a Washington Post op-ed. “But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside.” Among the immediate benefits: allowing dependent children to stay on their parents’ coverage into their mid-twenties, and assistance for seniors in the Medicare prescription coverage gap.
Mr. Plouffe, to say that the short-term politics are bad is a huge understatement.  With the mid-term elections just ten months away, any attempt to circumvent the will of the electorate to pass health care reform that Americans do not want will be political suicide for the Democrats.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hugo Chavez's version of the Fairness Doctrine?

Hugo Chavez has once again tried to silence opposition cable TV channel RCTV:

Police fired tear gas and plastic bullets at thousands of university students on Monday, breaking up a protest after President Hugo Chavez's government forced an opposition cable TV channel off the air.

Demonstrations broke out after cable companies, under orders from the telecommunications agency, dropped the anti-Chavez channel Radio Caracas Television Internacional early Sunday. RCTV had defied new rules requiring cable channels to carry mandatory programming, including some of Chavez's speeches.

Authorities fired tear gas as protesting students tried to approach the headquarters of the state telecommunications agency, where several hundred Chavez backers had gathered to support the government's action. Some were seen throwing rocks and bottles at anti-Chavez protesters.

At least five students suffered asphyxiation or minor injuries, said Enrique Montbrun, director of health services in the capital's Baruta district. A journalist also suffered minor injuries.

"Freedom of expression is a right that we all embrace, and it must be defended," said Alejandro Perdomo, 19, who accused Chavez of attempting to silence his critics.

Students in the crowd chanted: "It will return, Radio Caracas will return!"

The government says RCTV violated recently approved regulations that require two dozen local cable and satellite channels to televise Chavez's speeches whenever he deems it necessary.

The channel, which has been fiercely critical of Chavez for years, did not transmit the president's speech Saturday to a rally of supporters.
When I last checked the RCTV website was still up.  If any of my readers are fluent in Spanish, it would be interesting to know what is being reported there.

Today Venezuelan Vice-President Ramon Carrizalez, who also holds the title of Defence Minister resigned both positions. His wife, and Environment Minister, Yubiri Ortega also resigned.  His resignation over differences with Chavez had been rumored since Saturday, but he denied those rumors and said that the reasons for his resignation were personal.

I guess Chavez thinks he can stanch his horrible press and quell unrest in his country by silencing the Venezuelan media.  These resignations will leave a hole in his cabinet that will make that more and more difficult.

Obama interrogators have fewer tools than local police

Marc Theissen makes the case today at the National Review, that Abdulmutallab could have been more appropriately interrogated by the Detroit Police Department than by the FBI or the not-ready-for-prime-time High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG):

As I explain in Courting Disaster, even if the HIG were “fully operational,” we might be better off with Abdulmutallab in the hands of the Detroit Police Department — because under the rules established by the Obama administration, local law-enforcement officials actually have more tools at their disposal to interrogate common criminals than our military and intelligence officials have to interrogate captured terrorists. The Obama administration has limited the techniques available to the HIG to those contained in the Army Field Manual — a document that governs the interrogation of enemy prisoners of war with full Geneva Convention protections — even though there is a wide universe of lawful techniques beyond those included in the Army Field Manual that could be used to question high-value terrorists.

Local police use techniques beyond the Army Field Manual every day. For example, police detectives and district attorneys regularly use the threat of execution to get ordinary criminals to confess — offering to take capital punishment off the table if a criminal cops a plea or turns in his accomplices. Under the Army Field Manual this is not permitted; detainees cannot be threatened in any way. In other words, President Obama has so denuded our intelligence agencies’ interrogation capabilities that putting the HIG in charge of his interrogation would likely have been a useless exercise.
This is unbelievable.  On his second day in office, President Obama eliminated the CIA interrogation program under which the Bush administration stopped multiple terror attacks before they occurred.  He replaced it with the HIG which one year later is still not operational.

Senators Lieberman, Collins and Sessions are demanding that the President revoke Abdulmutallab's civilian status and transfer him to military custody.  From Fox News:

Citing reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was "speaking openly about the attack" and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's involvement in it before he was read his Miranda rights, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins said that reading the suspect his rights shortly after his arrest was an opportunity lost.

Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Collins, R-Maine, the committee's ranking Republican, said officials would be able to continue interrogating Abdulmutallab and try him before a military commission if they treat him as an enemy combatant.

"The decision to treat Abdulmutallab as a criminal rather than (an unprivileged enemy belligerent) almost certainly prevented the military and the intelligence community from obtaining information that would have been critical to learning more about how our enemy operates and to preventing future attacks," the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.

"Though the president has said repeatedly that we are at war, it does not appear to us that the president's words are reflected in the actions of some in the executive branch, including some at the Department of Justice," they wrote.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., also released a written statement Monday urging Obama to revoke Abdulmutallab's "civilian status," saying the administration "squandered an invaluable opportunity to gather intelligence from a captured terrorist fresh from Al Qaeda's operation in Yemen."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Courting Disaster: How the CIA kept America Safe and How Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack

Recently I mentioned Marc Theissen's new book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack, in a post about the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab.  Tonight my respect for this former speechwriter for President George W. Bush has grown exponentially.  If you have eight minutes, you must watch this:

I haven't watched CNN since Christiane Amanpour and Peter Arnett broadcast live from Baghdad (subject to the media rules of Saddam Hussein) in 1991 during the first Gulf War, while our service men and women were on the ground putting their lives on the line.  The very sight of Amanpour (with her respectable new bob hairdo) makes me physically ill.  God bless Mr. Theissen for having the fortitude and character to brilliantly persevere and prevail in this left-wing anti-American ambush.

Sean Hannity gave Theissen a much more hospitable interview tonight on Fox News.  I was unable to find the video at the time of this writing, but it is definitely worth watching if you can find it.

Andy McCarthy continues his patriotic and scholarly rail against the Obama administration's response to the underwear bomber today at National Review, concluding his latest piece thus:
We are at war, yet it’s the attorney general — not the commander-in-chief, not the secretary of defense — who decides whether someone is an enemy or not. And under Obama’s approach to counterterrorism, the first priority is prosecution. Nothing is to be done — especially not aggressive interrogation — if it would compromise the terrorist’s due-process rights, be frowned on by federal judges, or otherwise interfere with “bringing the ‘defendant’ to justice.” And so, despite all the criticism of how the Christmas bomber was handled, he is still being treated as a defendant. Obama hasn’t reversed course and designated him an enemy combatant. The interrogation has ceased, and the case goes on.

If you’re going to get angry over something, get angry over that. It’s going to cost lives.
Read the whole thing.

What's on everybody's mind? Unemployment

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you probably know that my favorite news site is, produced by the incomparable Lucianne Goldberg.  (Yes, she is Jonah's mother).  It is staffed by a small tight-knit team of a few professionals and thousands of Americans who read virtually every newspaper in the world.  When these vigilant citizens read something of interest, they post a summary and a link to the original article.  Just glancing at the latest posts this evening,  I was struck by this adjacent series of posts:

Alabama unemployment highest in 26 years

Associated Press, by Phillip Rawls Original Article
Posted By: BamaMan- 1/22/2010 5:55:24 PM Post Reply
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Alabama's unemployment rate has risen to 11 percent-a 26-year high that wiped out a brief hope of recovery for Alabama's job market. State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees announced Friday that the rate rose from 10.5 percent in November. The December rate is the highest since Alabama's jobless rate hit 11.1 percent in January 1984. It also ended the optimism that state officials had a month ago

Nevada jobless rate rises to 13 percent

KCRL TV 4 News [Reno, NV], by AP staff Original Article
Posted By: ruby2ssday- 1/22/2010 5:43:02 PM Post Reply
State officials say Nevada's unemployment rate rose in December to 13 percent. That was up seven-tenths of a percent from November, and begins to approach the 13.3 percent record set in September. (snip) The unemployment rate in Las Vegas rose one percentage point, to 13.1 percent. In Reno and Carson City, the jobless rate climbed to 12.7 percent.

N.C. unemployment hits new peak
Raleigh News and Observer (McClatchy), by John Murawski Original Article
Posted By: Gartrell Bibberts- 1/22/2010 5:20:53 PM Post Reply
North Carolina's unemployment rate hit its highest peak last month in more than 30 years as the recession continues to ravage the state's economy. The statewide jobless figure reached 11.2 percent in December, representing the loss of 2,400 jobs during the month, the N.C. Employment Security Commission reported this morning. It's the highest jobless rate since the state began tracking the figure in 1976 using the current methodology.

Tennessee unemployment rate rose to 10.9% in December
The Commercial Appeal, by Richard Locker Original Article
Posted By: ronnie8365- 1/22/2010 5:20:27 PM Post Reply
NASHVILLE — After a slight drop in November, Tennessee's unemployment rate increased to 10.9 percent in December, the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development announced today. That's up seven-tenths of a percentage point from the November rate of 10.2 percent, which had dropped from 10.5 percent in October.

State unemployment at 11.1 percent last month
Journal-Register [Springfield, IL], by Tim Landis Original Article
Posted By: Fosterdad- 1/22/2010 5:04:46 PM Post Reply
Illinois lost more than 237,000 jobs in the past year, including nearly 71,000 manufacturing jobs, helping drive the December unemployment rate to 11.1 percent, the state employment agency reported today. State Department of Employment Security director Maureen O’Donnell said in a statement the increase reflects the troubled national economy.

Notice these are all posted sequentially by different people, very likely from different regions of the country in a span of  less than an hour.  This is bad.  Very bad.  And by the way, Howard Dean, people are not mad because the Democrats have moved too far to the center.  And President Obama, Massachusetts did not elect Scott Brown on the same wave of change that elected you.  People want jobs.

(I decided not to link to each article here.  Go to if you want to read more.  I think you'll be hooked.)

Thune's amendment to kill TARP falls short

Earlier this week, I told you about Senator John Thune's plan to kill the TARP program as a condition of raising the debt ceiling.  True to his word, he offered such an amendment on the floor of the Senate yesterday, but it failed to get the required 60 votes.  From Reuters:
The measure by Republican Senator John Thune sought to end the controversial $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, created under the Bush administration to throw a lifeline to ailing Wall Street banks during the financial meltdown.

Thune's amendment drew 53 votes, short of the 60 needed for passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Thirteen Democrats supported the measure.

Many banks have paid back the bailout funds as Wall Street has recovered from the crisis.
Democrats hope to capitalize on widespread animosity toward Wall Street by using the remaining money for job creation.

The House of Representatives last month voted to use $75 billion of leftover TARP funds for road construction and other job-creating projects.

The Obama administration also wants to use the money to boost credit to small businesses, which have had trouble getting loans that would allow them to expand and hire new workers.

Thune and other Republican supporters said the money should be returned to the Treasury Department to avoid adding to the national debt, which reached a record $1.4 trillion last fiscal year.

"It's a very straightforward way that we can signal to the American people that we're serious about fiscal responsibility," Thune said. "We have gotten very far afield from what the purpose of the TARP program was in the first place."
You can view the roll call vote here.
While it appears that some Democrats got the message sent by the voters of Massachusetts on Tuesday, it is clear that most did not.  The Republicans have a real opportunity here to extract some meaningful,fiscally responsible concessions from the Democrats.  I hope they don't blow it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Air America Radio will file for bankruptcy

From Associated Press via Fox News:
Air America Radio, a progressive radio network that once aired commentary from Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, said Thursday it is shutting down immediately.

The company founded in April 2004 said it ceased airing new programs Thursday afternoon and will soon file to be liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It began broadcasting reruns of programs and would end those as well Monday night.

Air America said 10 consecutive quarters of declining ad revenue and the difficulty of making money on the Internet contributed to its financial woes.

"The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America's business. This past year has seen a `perfect storm' in the media industry generally," the company said in a statement on its Web site.

The network had some 100 radio outlets nationwide.

Franken, a Democrat, hosted his own show from 2004 to 2007 before going on to become a U.S. senator from Minnesota last year after a close election. Maddow went on to host her own TV show on MSNBC.
I must confess that I never listened to one broadcast second of Air America.  Perhaps I was in the majority on that.

Arlen Specter admonishes Michele Bachmann to act like a lady

As a rule, Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter doesn't warrant my angst or attention at all.  But his misogynist attack on Representative Michele Bachmann on a Philadelphia radio show today demands a rebuke.  From GlennThrush at Politico:
The deeply odd couple of Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Penn.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appeared together on a Philly radio station yesterday -- and things got ugly in short order.

Audio link. courtesy RCP.

The exchange, broadcast on 1210 AM's Dom Giordano Show [but not archived on the station's site], began when Specter challenged Bachmann to articulate what, exactly, she stands for, according to a readout on the clash published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's lively Early Returns blog.

Bachmann first laid out her agenda -- cutting taxes and killing President Obama's health reform bill -- at considerable length.

When Specter tried to counter, Bachmann, darling of the Tea Party movement, kept on talking, which didn't sit well with the one-time Philadelphia DA, who is a stickler for politeness and protocol.

"I'm going to treat you like a lady," Mr. Specter shot back. "Now act like one."

Ms. Bachmann replied, "I am a lady."

Things went on along this line for a while -- with Specter later asking Bachmann to "act like a lady," according to the PPG's Daniel Malloy.

Bachmann is hardly a beloved figure in Democratic circles. But how many liberal women, whom Specter badly needs to defeat front-running Pat Toomey, would appreciate being told to "act like a lady" by a male debate partner?
Arlen Specter is a spineless, turncoat, blow-with-the-wind opportunist.  Any insults that he launches at Michele Bachmann should be worn as a badge of honor.  Donate to Pat Toomey here.

Attorney General Eric Holder has failed America

Yesterday the U.S. top intelligence leaders suggested that FBI agents on the scene in Detroit made the decision to treat the underwear bomber as a criminal suspect.  I and most thinking Americans were skeptical.  Today Wendell Goler from the Fox News Channel asked the question of Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs:
Q … who made the decision to try Abdulmutallab in federal court? Was the president aware of this decision when he began being processed in the legal system?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, understand that the decision to try him was handed down in an indictment that I think took place many days afterward. So, yes, all the team was involved in that.

Q So the decision was made over a period of days. I mean, there was a time between which he was taken into custody on Christmas Day and a time in which the decision was made that –

MR. GIBBS: Well, understand this, there was a period of time in which he was taken into custody, a period of time in which experienced FBI agents interrogated him, received valuable intelligence from him. He was arraigned at a later period of time, and later than that was indicted.

Q And who made the decision to try him in federal court? Did the president make that call?

MR. GIBBS: I believe that decision is made by the Attorney General.
The despicable truth is, no one at the press briefing at the White House, nor arguably anyone in the television viewing audience was really surprised by the answer, despite the fact that its revelation took almost a month.  It is crystal clear from recent events (e.g., the firing of Americorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin; the dismissal of a default judgment against the New Black Panthers for voter intimidation at a voting precinct in Philadelphia in November, 2008; the subsequent reassignment of Christopher Coates, the veteran Justice Department voting-rights section chief  who signed off on that AG-dismissed complaint against the Black Panthers to South Carolina; the decision to try 9/11 mastermind terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed in criminal court in NYC; just to name a few) that Attorney General Eric Holder is running the national security show.

It's an unacceptable, terrifying and outrageous truth.  I believe Attorney General Holder must go.

Supreme Court strikes down McCain-Feingold campaign spending limits

The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down limits on corporate political spending, key provisions of the McCain-Feingold law and similar provisions enacted by nearly half the states.  From the Wall Street Journal:
The ruling underscored the impact of former President George W. Bush's two appointments to the court. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito joined the five-justice majority in ruling that a central provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance act violated the First Amendment by restricting corporations from funding political messages in the run-up to elections.

"The government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority in a 57-page opinion.
The McCain-Feingold law aimed to rein in independent campaign spending by corporations and unions—that is, advertisements that the corporations or unions buy on their own to advocate for or against a candidate.

McCain-Feingold required that they channel their campaign spending by creating a special fund, known as a political action committee, which can accept donations from employees, shareholders and other affiliates. Advocates argued that the law was a valid way to prevent special-interest funds from distorting elections.

But Justice Kennedy wrote that the effort to divide corporate political spending into legal and illegal forms chilled political speech. "When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought," he wrote. "This is unlawful."
Predictably President Obama blasted the decision in a statement released after the ruling today:
With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.
The unabashed chicanery of this statement is astonishing.  Frequent White House visitor, SEIU president, Andy Stern bragged openly last year about the money his union spent electing Obama:
"We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama -- $60.7 million to be exact -- and we're proud of it," boasted Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, to the Las Vegas Sun this week. The behemoth labor organization's leadership is getting its money's worth. Whether rank-and-file workers and ordinary taxpayers are profiting from this ultimate campaign pay-for-play scheme is another matter entirely.

The two-million-member union, which represents both government and private service employees, proudly claimed that its workers "knocked on 1.87 million doors, made 4.4 million phone calls and sent more than 2.5 million pieces of mail in support of Obama." It dispatched SEIU leaders to seven states in the final weekend before the election to get out the vote for Obama and other Democrats.
Perhaps today's ruling will remove the free speech gags placed by McCain-Feingold on oil companies who want to actually drill for oil; on banks who did not take bailout money and do not want to be punished with a new banking tax; on health insurance companies who do not want to be bankrupted by a single-payer health care system; on institutional bondholders who were denied their contractual rights in the government takeover of  GM and Chrysler.

Justice Kennedy wrote the 57-page opinion for the majority.  Chief Justice Roberts penned a concurring opinion which begins eloquently:
The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censor-ship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful inexpressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government toprohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as themajor ones are. First Amendment rights could be confined to individuals, subverting the vibrant public discourse that is at the foundation of our democracy.

The Court properly rejects that theory, and I join its opinion in full. The First Amendment protects more thanjust the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphle-teer. I write separately to address the important princi-ples of judicial restraint and stare decisis implicated in this case.
You can read the court opinion in its entirety here.

I believe our founding fathers who mutually mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in support of our independence and liberty would be proud of the U.S. Supreme Court today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Democrats move to raise debt limit by $1.9 trillion. Thune says: End TARP

Just a day after losing their supermajority in the Senate, Democrats called for a $1.9 trillion increase in the U.S. debt limit.  Why on earth would they do that, you ask?  It's very simple.  They want to raise the debt ceiling enough to fund the obligations of the U.S. treasury up to and beyond the mid-term elections in November.  They think you will forgive and forget.  Politico reports:
Upping the ante just a day after losing their 60th Senate seat, Democrats moved Wednesday to seek a $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling and give the Treasury adequate borrowing authority past November’s elections and into next year.
Republicans were caught off guard by the scale of the increase which follows a $290 billion short-term debt increase approved prior to Christmas. “That’s just escapism of the worst sort,” Sen. Judd Gregg (R.,N.H.) told POLITICO. But Democrats countered that their only alternative would be to give-in to a Republican strategy of forcing multiple smaller debt ceiling increases, designed to bleed them politically before November.

This perception was reinforced by a meeting Tuesday between Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). By going now with the higher $1.9 trillion target, Democrats are making a high-stakes gamble that the party can pull together once more to put the debt ceiling issue behind them for this election year.
 In addition to losing the Senate seat in Massachusetts to Republican Scott Brown, it is not at all clear that all the Democrats are on board with the heavy lift.
Democrats will soon have just 59 votes, once the Massachusetts victor, Republican Scott Brown, takes his seat. The timing of that transition is not yet certain, but Baucus indicated that he now expects the debt fight will spill into next week.

Beyond this transition, the more immediate problem for the White House is pulling together about a dozen fiscal moderates, one of whom—Sen. Evan Bayh (D—Ind.)—voted against the much smaller $290 billion increase in December.

The lead player remains Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) who has participated in on-going White House talks but said Wednesday evening that he still lacked the assurances needed to back such a larger long term debt increase.
The Republicans are in a unique position to effect some real change here.  Senator John Thune (R-SD) has an idea that may help the Democrats secure the needed votes.  Kill TARP:
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., introduced an amendment to the House-passed debt ceiling increase currently before the Senate that would end the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Thune's amendment would prohibit the Treasury Department from making any further commitments of TARP funds and would mandate that all returned funds be used to lower the national debt.

"The Senate will be voting to raise statutory debt limit to a staggering $14 trillion, making this an ideal time to practice real spending restraint by ending TARP," Thune said in a news release.

On Christmas Eve, the Senate voted 60-39 to increase the debt ceiling by $290 billion to $12.394 trillion. There is now a measure before the Senate that would raise the debt limit by another $1.9 trillion, this time to $14.294 trillion.

Recently, the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP released their January Oversight Report, and the panel noted that although TARP authority ends Oct. 3, any funds committed by that date but not yet spent can still be spent under TARP past the deadline.
That's a premium idea, Senator Thune.  And a good start.  I'll wager that Scott Johnson will like it, too.

UN Climate group issues apology for phony glacier data

In a recent post, I told you that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was expected to retract its warning that most of the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035.  Well they did just that today.  Perhaps they thought it would get lost in the Senator-elect Scott Brown media frenzy.  CNN reports:

The U.N.'s leading panel on climate change has apologized for misleading data published in a 2007 report that warned Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said estimates relating to the rate of recession of the Himalayan glaciers in its Fourth Assessment Report were "poorly substantiated" adding that "well-established standards of evidence were not applied properly."

Despite the admission, the IPCC reiterated its concern about the dangers melting glaciers present in a region that is home to more than one-sixth of the world's population.

"Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e.g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes)..."

"The chair, vice-chairs, and co-chairs of the IPCC," the statement continued, "regrets the poor application of IPCC procedures..."

The apology follows a growing storm of controversy which initially forced the IPCC to concede that data relating to the Himalayan glacier melt included in the 2007 report was not backed up by sufficient scientific data. (emphasis mine)
The equivocal nature of this "apology" reminds me of the New York Times headline back in 2004 regarding the forged documents that Dan Rather tried to use to discredit President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard:  Memos on Bush Are Fake but Accurate.

FBI agents decided to treat Abdulmutallab as common criminal?

Today top Obama administration officials gave their first public accounting to lawmakers about operational and intelligence lapses leading up to the failed attempt on Christmas day to bring down a Northwest Airlines jet.  Byron York at the Washington Examiner is shocked to learn that FBI Director Robert Mueller was not consulted about the legal status of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab:
FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee today and revealed that he was not consulted on the question of whether to handle accused Detroit airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a defendant in the civilian justice system or as an enemy combatant. Abdulmutallab, who was trained by al Qaeda -- with whom President Obama says the United States is at war -- was charged as a civilian and given Miranda rights and a taxpayer-supplied lawyer. At a Judiciary Committee hearing today, ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions asked Mueller, "Who made the decision that Abdulmutallab was going to be treated as a criminal rather than an enemy belligerent?" The answer: the agents on the scene, with no input from the FBI director.
The Associated Press reports that the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Homeland Security were not consulted either:
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he was not consulted on whether Abdulmutallab should be questioned by the recently created High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG, and charged in federal court.

"That unit was created exactly for this purpose," Blair said. "We did not invoke the HIG in this case. We should have."

The interrogation group cited by Blair was created by the Obama administration last year to handle high-value terror suspects, but it was envisioned for use with suspects caught overseas, not in the U.S. The group, to be led by FBI interrogators and including experts from a range of agencies, is still being assembled and has not been deployed yet.

Blair said the decision to file criminal charges against the suspect in federal court was made "on the scene."

"Seemed logical to the people there, but it should have been taken using this HIG format at a higher level," Blair said.

Under questioning by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Blair and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said they were not consulted before the decision was made to not use the high-value detainee interrogation group. Also, Michael Leiter, chief of the National Counterterrorism Center, said he was not consulted.
Director Blair now concedes that Abdulmutallab should have been treated as terrorism detainee when the plane landed.  I am very skeptical that the FBI agents on the ground in Detroit made the decision to let this terrorist lawyer up.  But if a mistake was made by FBI agents on the ground, that does not excuse the continuation of his treatment as a civilian court "suspect."  As veteran U.S. prosecutor Andy McCarthy recently and eloquently argued at National Review, the President could have reversed this decision at any time:
President Obama could have designated Abdulmutallab an enemy combatant, detained him as a war prisoner, denied him counsel, and had him interrogated until we’d exhausted his reservoir of information. Indeed, the president could still do that. He could direct the attorney general to table the indictment. Then, some time down the road, he could hand Abdulmutallab back to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Marc Theissen's new book Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack provides clear evidence and detail of terror attacks that were prevented as a result of information obtained by enhanced interrogation techniques.  Theissen offers you a free chapter of his book here:
This chapter tells the previously untold story of how the interrogation of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed helped disrupt the biggest al-Qaeda attack since 9/11: the plot to hijack seven airplanes taking off from London's Heathrow airport, and blow them up en route to cities across north America. It's the reason you can't take liquids in your cabin luggage any more.