Friday, January 30, 2009


Another Convienent Deserter for Peace

The Wall Street Journal has an article today describing the travails of one Spec. André L. Shepherd. Actually, “good times” is a probably the more accurate description: U.S. Deserter 'Having Time of My Life' as He Seeks Asylum in Germany

Here’s how he got into this mess:

“Mr. Shepherd was again living in a car -- a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am -- in December 2003 when he walked into an Army recruitment center in Lakewood and signed up.”

Remember 2003? That was when we captured Saddam – approximately 9 months AFTER our military took the fight to Iraq. At that time - and at the risk of being insensitive - you would have had to be a moron not to put 2 and 2 together and have at least considered that a tour in the Army might just lead to some time in Iraq. After one tour in Iraq repairing Apache helicopters, he was reassigned to Germany. He deserted after learning that another tour in Iraq was coming up.

Here’s a side blurb accompanying a picture:

“He walked away from the military for his convictions. Now, U.S. Army deserter Andre Shepherd seeks political asylum in Germany. WSJ's Mike Esterl reports.”

His convictions? Perhaps – if we’re going to elevate a life of drinking and getting laid into a moral stance on par with the responsibility to fulfill a freely-entered-into contract with your country.

My bias as a veteran probably heightens my utter disdain for individuals like Mr. Shepherd. So I will look at the glass half-full if Germany, attempting to make a substance-less political statement on Iraq, grants asylum to this deserter because then America can claim a net gain on the quality of its citizenry. But if Germany can get by its PC-instincts and deny asylum then I hope the Army follows up appropriately with a max term punishment.

Side Note: “The deserter has found a new helping hand in Ulli Thiel, a 65-year-old peace activist in Karlsruhe.”

I’m guessing the term “peace activist” is just a synonym for “anti-American”.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


At least he's not accused of waterboarding...

Joby Warrick in today’s Washington Post: CIA Station Chief In Algeria Accused In Two Sex Assaults

“The CIA's top officer in Algeria has been returned to Washington amid allegations that he drugged and raped two women at his Algiers residence…”

“The alleged assaults, if confirmed, are viewed as particularly serious because they could potentially damage diplomatic relations with Algeria, a U.S. ally, and undermine U.S. efforts to improve its image in the Muslim world, former diplomats and foreign policy experts said.”

(Ed Note: Did Mr. Warrick really contact “former diplomats and foreign policy experts” just to gather this obvious bit of intel?)

Isobel Coleman, director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program of the Council on Foreign Relations, said it was vitally important that the U.S. government pursue the investigation vigorously and publicly, given the particular cultural sensitivities of Muslim cultures toward sexual crimes.”

With all this emphasis on the potential reaction of the “Muslim world”, don’t you think Mr. Warrick might have included one more fact:

“Officials say the 41-year old Warren, a convert to Islam, was ordered home by the U.S. Ambassador, David Pearce, in October after the women came forward with their rape allegations in September.” ABC News: Exclusive: CIA Station Chief in Algeria Accused of Rapes


Quick Hits

House Passes Obama Stimulus Package

“Just a day after the president spent more than an hour behind closed doors at the Capitol seeking their support, all 177 House Republicans opposed the measure, arguing that it would spend hundreds of billions of dollars on initiatives that would do little to stimulate the economy. Eleven Democrats opposed the bill.”

…meaning it was only the OPPOSITION to the so-called Stimulus Bill that drew bipartisan support.

'Buy American' Rider Sparks Trade Debate

“The stimulus bill passed by the House last night contains a controversial provision that would mostly bar foreign steel and iron from the infrastructure projects laid out by the $819 billion economic package.

“A Senate version, yet to be acted upon, goes further, requiring, with few exceptions, that all stimulus-funded projects use only American-made equipment and goods.”

Where does the President stand on this matter?

“We're reviewing the Buy American plan proposal, and we are committed to a plan that will save or create at least 3 million jobs including jobs in manufacturing," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.”

Any questions?

Now I don’t have the President’s 2+ years of experience legislating in Congress but I’m going to guess that when the House and Senate get together, their compromise will NOT entail LESS protectionism than either version currently has. With the House version just passed, it’s rather late in the game to be reviewing just where the Administration stands on Free Trade. A virulent protectionist bill is going to end up on the President’s desk and I think we all know how that’s going to end.

But even that signing won’t be the first big mistake of his tenure. Peter Kirsanow over at NRO:

“…we're going to have a tax cheat in charge of the IRS, a man instrumental in the pardoning of terrorists as top terrorism watchdog, and a woman whose husband gets tens of millions from foreign governments in charge of implementing foreign policy.”

Speaking of…George Mitchell is now a Special Envoy to the Middle East, Dennis Ross is the Special Envoy on Iran and Richard Holbrooke is a Special Envoy for Afghan and Pakistani matters.

What exactly is Secretary Clinton’s job again?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


AP does PR for Al Gore

I’m sorry, I just can’t resist.

If you live in the DC area and woke to today’s winter storm, you may have thought “Gore Effect! I wonder if Al Gore is in town to talk about Global Warming.” Bingo! Al Gore is in town and is testifying today in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Now don’t feel bad for not knowing about it - only C-Span on the web is covering it live but thankfully Dino Cappiello of the AP is there for you: Gore urges action on economy, global warming

He informs us that Mr. Gore is pushing the so-called stimulus plan “as a first step to bringing greenhouse gases under control.” (Do we later pass Kyoto-like legislation so we can stimulate the economy?)

Actually, the former Vice-president does want us to “take a leading role in negotiations on a new international climate treaty later this year.” Mr. Cappiello tells us why this is so important:

“The Bush administration pulled out of the last treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, because of the lack of participation by developing countries.”

Space constraints probably precluded him from explaining how Mr. Bush pulled off such a preemptive stunt years before he assumed office in 2001. Maybe it was to make room for a fine piece of reporting that appropriately gives us historical context to Mr. Gore’s presence:

“It was the first time Gore appeared before Congress since March 2007. Since then, the recession has deepened and the U.S. has waged two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Actually, we weren’t in a recession in March 2007 and I really kind of think we were already involved in Iraq and Afghanistan but, no matter, this gives the former Tennessee Senator a kind of where-have-you-gone-Joe-Dimaggio cache.

Finally, I especially like the many different ways Mr. Cappiello refers to Mr. Gore:

“Former Vice President Al Gore…”

“…the Nobel Peace Prize winner said…”

…and just in case you still can’t place him:

“Gore _ whose book on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," became an Oscar-winning documentary _...”

For a less-gushy take on Mr. Gore’s testimony: Liveblog of Al Gore Climate Hearing


Griff Witte Reports on the New Style of Diplomacy

Classic Griff Witte – whereby you read his reporting on the Mideast and you finish more confused than ever: U.S. Envoy Calls for 'Consolidated' Cease-Fire in Gaza

First Paragraph:

“The Obama administration's Middle East envoy, former senator George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), arrived here Wednesday to push for a more solid cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, hours after Israel bombed smuggling tunnels in Gaza to retaliate for a Tuesday attack that killed an Israeli soldier.”

19th and Last Paragraph:

Continuing with a Bush administration policy of not talking to Hamas, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, Mitchell is not expected to meet with any members of the movement. Instead, he is expected to focus on talks with the more moderate Palestinian Authority, which holds sway in the West Bank but was ousted from Gaza by Hamas forces in June 2007.”

I certainly don’t object to the new Administration continuing the boycott of Hamas but, as a reporter, isn’t Mr. Witte the least bit curious how the President and his Special Envoy expect this “push for a more solid cease-fire between Israel and Hamas” to happen without Hamas involvement?


The Myth of Lilly Ledbetter

Not sure how many Washington Post readers consider Amy Goldstein a must-read but you’d at least think that her editors were reading her. In today’s Post, Ms. Goldstein is apparently pleased to report that, finally, the Democrats Overturn Barrier to Unequal-Pay Suits.

President Obama plans to sign into law tomorrow the first legislation of his White House tenure, reversing a recent Supreme Court ruling that had restricted the ability of women and other workers to sue for pay discrimination.”

(“…the ability of women and other workers…” Who, pray tell, might those other workers be?)

She is referring to the infamous Ledbetter case, decided in May 2007. You would hope that writers and their editors over at the Post would know enough about the workings of our government to recognize that Congress doesn’t (can’t) reverse Supreme Court decision. This piece of legislation does not reinstate Lilly Ledbetter’s trial court award meaning no court decision has been reversed.

Which Ms. Ledbetter recognizes, even if Ms. Goldstein doesn’t understand the significance of what she is reporting on:

Ledbetter said in an interview that she was "thrilled, thrilled." She said the Supreme Court's ruling means that she never will be able to claim the $360,000 she was awarded by a lower court.”

Ms. Goldstein further educates:

“The high court had held that such cases could be brought only within six months of the discrimination's beginning, rejecting a long-held interpretation by lower courts and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that each paycheck represented a fresh act of discrimination.”

It’s a bit disingenuous to emphasize the lower courts “long-held interpretation” without simoultaneously mentioning that the Supreme Court decision she refers to UPHELD a lower court (Eleventh Circuit) ruling against Ms. Ledbetter’s claims (although this is mentioned later in the article). And let’s recall that even Justice Ginsburg’s dissent notes that the EEOC brief on Ms. Ledbetter’s behalf only called for accepting her claims for 1997 and 1998.

Finally, if you’re going to discuss the facts of a case, do some independent reporting:

Several months before she retired in 1998 as a Goodyear area manager, Ledbetter found an anonymous note in her mailbox at work, tipping her off that she was being paid less than the men who held the same job.”

You mean tipping her off AGAIN, don't you? Here’s what she is not telling you:

“In 1982, Mrs. Ledbetter filed a complaint for sexual harassment against her supervisor. That complaint was settled between her and the company, Goodyear, in a timely fashion, and she was satisfied.

In 1992, Mrs. Ledbetter, under testimony, testified that she became aware she was being paid less than her peers, but she filed no complaint.

In 1993, she did not file a complaint.

In 1994, she did not file a complaint.

In 1995, Mrs. Ledbetter said:
I told him at that time that I knew definitely that they were all making a thousand at least more per month than I was and that I would like to get in line.
But she did not file a complaint.

In 1996, she did not file a complaint.

In 1997, she did not file a complaint.

And then on July 21, 1998, a complaint was filed, shortly after her supervisor died.” Johnny Isakson, United States Senator from Georgia

With all the commentary this case generated, you would think Ms. Goldstein could have had least listened to something beyond the Obama Camp spin.

Side Notes I: As I noted in July 2008:

Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent, practically begs Congress to get involved:

“Once again, the ball is in Congress’ court. As in 1991, the Legislature may act to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII.”

…highlighting once again one of my favorite points – the left is rarely constrained by Court decisions it doesn’t like; a simple legislative decision awaits.”

Side Notes II: For a more detailed review of the Ledbetter decision, check out the usually excellent Simon at Stubborn Facts: Ledbetter v. Goodyear


Heavy Breathing Around Secretary Clinton

Secretary of State Clinton assesses the world:

“"There is a great exhalation of breath going on in the world as people express their appreciation for the new direction that's being set and the team that is put together by the president," Clinton said.”

…well, maybe except for her husband…who never first inhaled.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Thank God for the Reid-Pelosi Tax Cuts of 2003

Remember in Orwell’s 1984 when the residents of Oceania wake up to discover that what they long thought was their mortal enemy, Eurasia, was in fact their ally against Eastasia (which everyone had originally thought was their ally). The people later “learn” that their preconceptions were in fact wrong and that Eurasia had always been their ally.

Changing the subject; remember when the Bush tax cuts were a diabolical evil, ruining our economy and pretty much guaranteeing our children and grandchildren a life of poverty and misery? At least that’s what I thought I remembered but now…

“Approximately two-thirds of the spending and tax cuts contained in an economic stimulus package crafted by House Democrats would flow into the economy by the end of fiscal 2010, producing a "noticeable impact on economic growth and employment," congressional budget analysts said yesterday….

“The total package -- including tax cuts and direct aid to the poor and unemployed -- won significantly better marks for speed than the portion of the package devoted to highways, schools and other infrastructure projects, which are among the Democrats' top priorities.” House Plan Offers 'Noticeable Impact'

Monday, January 26, 2009


We Only Want the Nice Ones...

After years of sanctimonious preaching about our treatment of the terrorists held at Gitmo, we get this today: E.U.: U.S. Must Show Guantanamo Detainees Pose No Risk

“European Union leaders said Monday they are willing to take prisoners being released from the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay _ but only after detailed screening to ensure they don't import a terrorist.”

(Ed. Note: But the reason they were at the camp in the first place was because we believed they were….oh, what’s the use…)

Of course, the beauty of all this is that those left over because the EU wouldn’t take them will presumptively be considered terrorists…and then what? The Obama Administration brings them to the US? We’ve got a less-than-one year deadline now solidly embedded on our collective calendar as a result of the President’s grandstanding executive order. Liberal NIMBYism when it comes to wind power will pale in comparison to that to be exhibited by the communities selected for the noble sacrifice of ensuring President Obama makes good on his Gitmo campaign pledges.


Greed rears its ugly head again

Remember back in April 2007 when Circuit City laid off 8% of their retail in order to replace them with cheaper help? Predictably, it didn’t play well among the usual suspects:

Clinton blasts Circuit City for layoffs

San Fernando Valley Young Democrats: Circuit City Protest Rally Recap

Boycott Circuit City Citizen Against Lies

Well, all that negative ill will directed at it was apparently successful as Circuit City recently announced it was in liquidation mode:

“The familiar brand name will be lost, along with its 34,000 jobs.”

Well played by all those champions of the working man.

Unfortunately, greed and an incessant devotion to the bottom line continue to wreak havoc all over and there is no shortage of eligible entities one can self-righteously preen over to show one’s moral superiority. May I suggest one that “claims” to be so “impacted by the unfolding economic crisis [that it] laid off ten percent of its national workforce this week. Thirty-six staffers lost their jobs, including five in the Washington, D.C. legislative office, a source familiar with the firings told the Huffington Post.”

Yep, those greedy bastards over at the ACLU.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Governor O'Malley and the Death Penalty - redux

Front Page, Washington Post:

O'Malley Begins Quest To Repeal Death Penalty

The Governor has been on this kick for awhile but now “O'Malley said in an interview that he plans to invest heavy political capital to persuade the General Assembly to pass a repeal bill during its current 90-day legislation session...”

He still has political capital?

I’ve previously noted that I am ambivalent about the death penalty but this move by the Governor strikes me as pure grandstanding. There are five people on Maryland’s Death row today. If the Governor so wished, he could easily commute all of their sentences with a few strokes of his pen. But he doesn’t do so for if he did, he knows he would have to then answer to those who remember why they were so sentenced in the first place.

I believe the Governor is sincere in anti-Death Penalty stance. I just don't think he has the political courage to go it alone.


Proud Before It Was Cool To Be Proud

A few quick words on the sentiment this piece reports: Americans, Feeling the Love

“It's cool to be an American again, Wyatt said. "Finally! I'm tired of pretending I'm Canadian."

Damn – Canada’s gain is our loss.

Through my time in the Navy and now with my job, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to have been pretty much around the world, spending time in, among other places, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Poland and Israel. No matter where, though, I have always been proud to say I was an American…even (or, more accurately, especially) in France. Perhaps I was just lucky but I’ve never really experienced much of the anti-American spiel that so many left-leaning expatriates seem to inspire. And the few times I have? Who cares – what citizen of what country has a better story to tell than ours?

On Inauguration Day I will be out of the country. Obviously, I didn’t vote for Mr. Obama nor am I particularly enthusiastic about what lies ahead with his administration. But I know I will still be proud to be an American come 12:01 PM EST and should anyone ask me then or thereafter, I will tell them that Mr. Obama is my president. I consider it my duty as an American, especially after reading about the poor representation we’ve had overseas for so many years.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


The Innocent Mr. Geithner

Barack Obama then:

“This is a basic issue of fairness and integrity,” said Obama. “We need to crack down on individuals and businesses that abuse our tax laws so that those who work hard and play by the rules aren’t disadvantaged.”

Barack Obama now:

“It is an innocent mistake. It is a mistake that’s commonly made for people who are working internationally or for international institutions. It has been corrected. He’s paid the penalties,” Obama said.”

(Ed. Note: For the record, Mr. Geithner did NOT pay the penalties – they were waived.)

The former quote came as part of a press release to trumpet a new Senate bill to clamp down on US citizens and entities using offshore vehicles to avoid US taxation. Note that many of these offshore techniques were legal. The latter quote is a response to the revelation that his Treasury Secretary-designate is either incompetent in his use of tax prep software or he’s a tax cheat. Everything Mr. Geithner did (or did not do) was explicitly illegal. It’s interesting which apparently more outrages the President-elect.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Geithner's "Innocent" Mistakes

Maybe as part of his new Administration, Mr. Obama can work to get a tax code simple enough that even his new Ivy League-educated Treasury Secretary can understand it.

“In his appearance yesterday, Geithner told the committee that he had failed to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes because he mistakenly believed that his employer at the time, the International Monetary Fund, was deducting those taxes from his paycheck.” Treasury Nominee Accounts for Own Tax Errors

Mistake? As the accompanying Geithner Tax Documents clearly outline, Mr. Geithner received W-2s that clearly showed NO taxes of any kind being withheld. He knew they were not being withheld because he correctly paid in quarterly estimates for his Federal and Maryland income taxes. It also notes that as he used tax software to prepare his tax returns, he willfully ignored the part of the W-2 input section that references FICA taxes. [My experience with such tax software is that when you input the wages from a W-2, it automatically calculates what the Social Security and Medicare payments were (or should have been).]

Most damaging though is that he applied to the IMF for a tax allowance specifically to pay for the FICA taxes. He did this on an annual basis. Meaning each year, he received an extra bump in his paycheck so he could pay a tax that he continually “forgot” about.

Our tax code is a horrendous piece of literature and mistakes do happen in the application of it. But Social Security is a fairly basic, easy-to-calculate tax; esp. with a tax software program. Used correctly, mistakes like this just don’t/won’t happen. That Senators are falling over themselves to describe these episodes of incompetence as innocent mistakes means that they acknowledge that their handiwork can be incomprehensible gibberish and that they probably don’t prepare their own tax returns.

Read these tax documents pertaining to this matter. It is not a flattering picture of the proposed new Treasury Secretary.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Apparently only Jews destructively blockade

Griff Witte gets us up-to-date on Israel’s response to the terrorist group Hamas:

Blair Says Mideast Cease-Fire Elements in Place

“…the former British prime minister, spoke amid intense negotiations aimed at bringing the 17-day war to a halt. Both Israel and Hamas are participating.

“But as the talks proceeded in Cairo…”

Cairo is in Egypt and, as can be seen, Gaza also shares a border with Egypt but you don’t see Egypt rushing to alleviate any so-called Israeli-induced humanitarian crisis:

“Since then, Israel has tightened a blockade against Gaza, and Egypt, the only Arab country sharing a border with Gaza, has refused to open it, fearing increased Hamas influence and the responsibility for 1.5 million economically distressed Gazans.” The already-strained Hamas-Egypt relationship sours - Los Angeles Times

What does Israel expect of Egypt?

“Israel says it wants Hamas to halt its rocket fire and Egypt to guarantee -- possibly through an international monitoring force -- that the Gaza-Egypt border will not be used for smuggling weapons. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has so far balked at the idea of monitors.”

…and here’s the UN and Jimmy Carter swiftly denouncing Egypt’s unwillingness to do what is necessary to secure a firm and lasting peace: This Page Intentionally Left Blank

So, if you’re keeping score at home:

Israeli blockade of a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction: Crime against humanity

Egyptian blockade against that same group: Next question, please


Piling on Jimmy Carter

Others have already appropriately slammed former President Carter for his all-too-predictable anti-Israeli rant in last Thursday’s Washington Post but, not unlike the last guy in on the tackle, I feel the need to get in my own cheap shots:

“After visiting Sderot last April and seeing the serious psychological damage caused by the rockets that had fallen in that area, my wife, Rosalynn, and I declared their launching from Gaza to be inexcusable and an act of terrorism. Although casualties were rare (three deaths in seven years), the town was traumatized by the unpredictable explosions.”

His casualty statistic is surely designed to understate the significance of these terrorist acts:

“Since 2001, when the rockets were first fired, more than 8,600 have hit southern Israel, nearly 6,000 of them since Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. The rockets have killed 28 people and injured hundreds more.” BBC NEWS Middle East Q&A: Gaza conflict

…and they had to first go to Sderot before they could declare that a rocket fired indiscriminately is an act of terrorism?

“From Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was negotiating between the Israelis and Hamas, we learned that there was a fundamental difference between the two sides. Hamas wanted a comprehensive cease-fire in both the West Bank and Gaza, and the Israelis refused to discuss anything other than Gaza.”

Umm, Hamas doesn't control the West Bank.

And the one observation that should forever mark Mr. Carter as little more than an Hamas “Baghdad Bob” :

“And this fragile truce was partially broken on Nov. 4, when Israel launched an attack in Gaza to destroy a defensive tunnel being dug by Hamas inside the wall that encloses Gaza.”

Again, from the BBC (certainly no friend of Israel): “Events began to come to a climax after the Israelis raided southern Gaza on 4 November 2008 to destroy smuggling tunnels.”

Why Israel continues to even humor this man by pretending to take serious his visits to the area is beyond me.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Father John Neuhaus

A few years ago my father gave me a gift subscription to the monthly, First Things, of which Father John Neuhaus was Editor-In-Chief. I was certainly familiar with Fr. Neuhaus and knew of First Things but had never personally connected much with either. I quickly realized that that was to my intellectual detriment. Ever since, First Things has been a monthly must-read esp. Father Neuhaus’ excellent Public Square writings.

It is no exaggeration to state that Fr. Neuhaus has been one of the most important Pro-life speakers of ours or any time. He has also been a leading unapologetic Catholic voice here in the US when one has been sorely needed.

Unfortunately, I write “has” because Fr. Neuhaus passed away today at the age of 72. Count me among the many that recognize this as a very real loss of a great man.

Death Announcement: FIRST THINGS: A Journal of Religion, Culture, and Public Life

Other tributes:

A Tribute to Father Neuhaus - Peter Wehner

Richard John Neuhaus - Yuval Levin

Neuhaus - Ramesh Ponnuru

Commentary » Blog Archive » Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009 (John Podhoretz)

Other info: Richard J. Neuhaus Online (links to many of his writings)


David Ignatius on the CIA

Yesterday’s Washington Post had a column by David Ignatius: A Surprise Pick for CIA Chief

“Obama doesn't have any background in intelligence, but insiders say that since the election, he has been immersing himself in the murky world of secret operations with his characteristic lawyerly diligence. He made a surprising decision in picking Panetta, but on balance, a good one.”

My first reaction was that perhaps Mr. Ignatius was going Chris Matthews on us and just doing his part to support the new Obama Administration. But the CIA is one of his favorite subjects (he’s even written spy novels) and so, prodded on by the ever-astute Soccer Dad, I did some additional research to learn if Mr. Ignatius is right.

David Ignatius then:

“When the next president thinks about fixing the CIA, he or she ought to consider the radical thought that it's time to blow up the CIA and start over.” What's Wrong at the CIA

David Ignatius now:

"Leon is not going to preside over the demise of the CIA," explains one member of the Obama transition team. "The CIA needs to have someone who can represent them well."

“This argument for Panetta makes sense.”

Mr. Panetta was a 9-term California congressman but, like our new President, has no intelligence background. One of the more recent CIA Directors was also an ex-congressman. That would be the widely-dismissed Porter Goss...who did have an intelligence background.

David Ignatius then:

“Goss got off to a shaky start because he was seen as a man on a political mission.” The CIA at Rock Bottom

David Ignatius now:

“But the reality is that the professionals now lack the political muscle to fend off the agency's critics and second-guessers. That's the heart of the problem: The agency needs to rebuild political support before it can be depoliticized”

For the most part, the President deserves to have his people where he wants them and Mr. Panetta may yet prove to be a brilliant pick but methinks a similar pick by John McCain would have been roundly blasted for the same reasons Obama's pick is praised here.

Side Note: “Obama …has been immersing himself in the murky world of secret operations with his characteristic lawyerly diligence.”

I’m sure he meant it as a compliment but when most of us get to witness someone’s “characteristic lawyerly diligence”, it usually because we’re going to end up paying for it.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Who'd a Thunk It? Dianne Feinstein - Voice of Reason

The former Hillary Clinton supporter is on a roll lately:

First she neatly sums up what MC readers have known for awhile : the Senate needs to seat Roland Burris as Barack Obama’s lawful replacement:

“Does the governor have the power, under law, to make the appointment? And the answer is yes," Feinstein said, urging the Senate to settle the matter. "If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America. ... Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician." Sen. Feinstein Breaks With Democrats to Back Burris Appointment

This comes right on the heels of her nicely understated reaction to the proposed nomination of Leon Panetta:

"I was not informed about the selection of Leon Panetta to be the CIA director," Feinstein said. "My position has consistently been that I believe the agency is best served by having an intelligence professional in charge at this time."

And, as a result:

Obama Apologizes to Feinstein Over Panetta Snub

She’s even continuing a Bush policy into the Obama era:

"In California and other states with two Democratic senators, President Bush has relied on bipartisan screening committees, an innovative arrangement that has produced some compromise candidates….Feinstein endorsed a similar approach for the next four years, saying she believes "a bipartisan, merit-based process is the best way to go." Feinstein taps bipartisan panels to pick judges (H/T Bench Memos)

Good for her.


At least he wasn't a lobbyist

Interesting timeline:

Reported August 30, 2008:
CDR and its CEO, David Rubin, have contributed at least $110,000 to three political committees formed by Richardson, according to a review of campaign finance records by The Associated Press.” FBI Examines Richardson Donor's NM Contract

"On Sept. 17, two days before the donation to the DNC, Rubin was on a list of participants in an $11 million Hollywood fundraiser on behalf of Obama, which also included numerous celebrities. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeffrey Katzenberg were among the hundreds of luminaries, according to Entertainment Weekly." Businessman linked to Richardson donated to Obama

Reported October 6, 2008:
Obama spokesperson Bill Burton sent CBS News the following email statement, “We constantly review our donors for any issues … Burton pointed to Harry Sargeant, one of McCain’s donors who is now the subject of a Congressional investigation. McCain returned $50,000 to Sargeant in early August. More Bogus Obama Donors Surface, Donations Made Between July and Early August

"While the CDR investigation has put CDR in the spotlight in New Mexico, CDR has been under investigation for its business practices around the country by the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission." Businessman linked to Richardson donated to Obama


Breaking Up That Old Gang of Ours

Several years ago over at Pillage Idiot, Attila shared this self-observation:

“Sometimes you have to come to terms with what you accomplish in life. Some people devote their lives to changing the world for the better. Some people start businesses to create products that alter the way in which people live. And then, some people post idiotic stories about naked people.

“Guess which category I fall into.”

Well, as any reader knows, he has been a lot more than that so it was a great disappointment to read that he has announced the end of his formal blogging days.


Attila is one of the most important contacts I’ve made since I began blogging nearly 3 years ago. Less than a month after my first post and following a rigorous on-line interview, I became the third member of the then-fledgling Maryland Blogger Alliance. I know now that Attila initially threw out the concept of the Alliance as a kind-of joke (single member alliances aren’t that common). But happily, Soccer Dad took him up on it and I therefore had a group I could join and pal around with on the ‘net.

However, it’s not just his administrative efforts which deserve recognition. With the ever-growing plethora of web sites available today, Pillage Idiot has remained a Tier 1 stop for me; the man is genuinely funny. Politically, he and I are rather simpatico and I’ve long enjoyed his send-offs of, among others, Bill, Hillary, Harry Reid – it’s all amusing stuff.

But perhaps there is a silver lining. Attila has been most welcoming of opposing viewpoints – the Alliance is truly diverse on that point - but is most intolerant of any fashion deviances. I strongly disagreed with the crew neck shirt edict he issued last September but never had the guts to tell him so…until now.

I just hope our new commissar, Michael Swartz (and thanks, Mike, for agreeing to follow Attila in this position) offers more leeway on this matter.

Good luck, Attila, may the Mets continue to break your heart.

Monday, January 05, 2009


This still doesn't make what he did right...

Legal Public Interest Groups Hit by Madoff

“Dozens of public interest legal organizations have been hit financially by the collapse of Bernie Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme and are scrambling to make up the shortfalls.

“Organizations from the Center for Constitutional Rights to the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic to the American Civil Liberties Union found out before Christmas that they will have their budgets slashed by up to one-third, due to the fallout from the Madoff case.”

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