Saturday, September 03, 2005

Rehnquist dies

What an interesting week this has been. From AP:

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died Saturday evening of cancer, ending a remarkable 33-year tenure on the Supreme Court and creating a rare second vacancy on the nation's highest court.

Rehnquist, 80, was surrounded by his three children when he died at his home in suburban Arlington.

"The Chief Justice battled thyroid cancer since being diagnosed last October and continued to perform his duties on the court until a precipitous decline in his health the last couple of days," said court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.

Rehnquist was appointed to the Supreme Court as an associate justice in 1971 by President Nixon and took his seat on Jan. 7, 1972. He was elevated to chief justice by President Reagan in 1986.

His death ends a career during which Rehnquist oversaw the court's conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election.

The death leaves President Bush with his second court opening within four months and sets up what's expected to be an even more bruising Senate confirmation battle than that of John Roberts.

It was not immediately clear what impact Rehnquist's death would have on confirmation hearings for Roberts, scheduled to begin Tuesday.

On that note, FoxNews just reported that the Roberts hearings will begin on Tuesday as scheduled.


While we're on the topic...

Another great cartoon from Glenn McCoy.

Brewing discontent

As we struggle through the aftermath of Katrina, a growing chorus of yapping chihuahuas on the left has seized the opportunity and are now taking turns nipping at the ankles of President Bush. While admittedly there are aspects of the rescue effort that could have gone better, I have noticed that many of the accusations swirling around the President come more from an intense dislike of the man himself than anything concrete. The result is a hodgepodge of unfounded rumors, off-topic associations and blanket condemnations that are pushed into the arena as fast as the libs can come up with them.

The phenomena is interesting to watch. It is as if the left has hauled out a large iron cooking pot, painted the words "Blame Bush First" on it, filled it with broth and lit a fire underneath it. Every morsel of negative news that comes out of New Orleans is then thrown into this pot as the stew simmers... and boils... and churns.

Here are some of the ingredients that have been thrown in to date: Bush caused the hurricane because of global warming, Bush's tax-cuts prevented the levees from being reinforced, Bush responded to the disaster too late, Bush doesn't care because he is a racist, Bush doesn't have enough National Guard troops to restore order because they are all deployed in Iraq.

In short, the man has been accused of everything except pulling the wings off of butterflies (the Washington Post is looking into that one).

Well, let's look closer at one of the more popular claims -- that of a National Guard that is supposedly spread too thin. James S. Robbins of the National Review takes a look at some of the numbers, and effectively throws this particular argument on it's ear:

So is the war in Iraq causing troop shortfalls for hurricane relief in New Orleans?

In a word, no.

A look at the numbers should dispel that notion. Take the Army for example. There are 1,012,000 soldiers on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard. Of them, 261,000 are deployed overseas in 120 countries. Iraq accounts for 103,000 soldiers, or 10.2 percent of the Army.

That's all? Yes, 10.2 percent. That datum is significant in itself, a good one to keep handy the next time someone talks about how our forces are stretched too thin, our troops are at the breaking point, and so forth. If you add in Afghanistan (15,000) and the support troops in Kuwait (10,000) you still only have 12.6 percent.

So where are the rest? 751,000 (74.2 percent) are in the U.S. About half are active duty, and half Guard and Reserve. The Guard is the real issue of course -- the Left wants you to believe that the country has been denuded of its citizen soldiers, and that Louisiana has suffered inordinately because Guardsmen and women who would have been available to be mobilized by the state to stop looting and aid in reconstruction are instead risking their lives in Iraq.

Not hardly. According to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, 75 percent of the Army and Air National Guard are available nationwide. In addition, the federal government has agreed since the conflict in Iraq started not to mobilize more than 50 percent of Guard assets in any given state, in order to leave sufficient resources for governors to respond to emergencies.

So there are the facts. This of course won't stop the chihuahuas from yapping... and nipping. It is all they know how to do. Liberals will continue to be liberals, will continue to be unhappy about the last two elections, will continue to be unhappy with anything coming out of this administration. The rest of us will observe the stories coming out of this disaster and do our best to find something positive in the midst of all the chaos. We will also continue to support an administration that is doing the best it can with the circumstances it was given.

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One family's ordeal

FoxNews has published some entries from a blog by Michele M. of Slidell as she documents her family's ordeal after fleeing Huricane Katrina. Her reaction to the lawlessness in New Orleans as well as to the attitudes of some of the other refugees is telling:

Blog Entry #8
2:15pm ET

I can't believe what I am hearing on television. A reporter is mad because there is a building on fire and there is no one from the fire department to put it out. Come on now. They have to make choices. Right now it's a choice between putting out a fire where no lives are in danger, or go out and help rescue people who are still trapped. NOPD and state police are doing the best they can.

Some local websites are estimating that approximately 1,500 people are still stuck on roofs in St. Bernard parish.

The police, firemen, EMTs, doctors, and others who are trying to rescue strangers, are truly some of the finest people in America. They are the only people who are courageous enough to stay and face danger.

If you do research on New Orleans, you will see that it is a beautiful but very dangerous city, even prior to Katrina. There are some legit people who need help, but some are just taking advantage.

What is happening in New Orleans is an embarrassment to everyone who is from that area. I expected better. It is a tough time, and everyone must ban together to help your neighbor out, not kill or rob them.

Mayor Nagin of New Orleans is doing the best he can with what he has. It's not his fault. He is begging for help. We have to pull together. All we have left is each other.

Blog Entry #7:
12:11am ET

I just saw an interview where a woman was complaining about being in the Superdome. She was upset because they didn't heat up her MRE. At least she had food. My husband and dad didn't have any food until we sent some to them. They called us begging us for food.

My dad and my husband build houses for a living. They are currently in our company trucks labeled Bluelake L.L.C. with the slogan "Beautiful Homes...Attention to Detail." People are stopping them asking them to please put a tarp on their roof to prevent further damage or to help repair their homes. I contacted the Army Corps of Engineers in Memphis to offer our men since they are already in Slidell and could get started right away.

The girlfriend of one of our friends who evacuated to the Orlando area tried to leave tonight with more supplies for the guys. On the Turnpike, she had a blow out and didn't have a spare. She got word to me, but I was not able to contact her for three hours. I called Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) since I had no idea where she was. All I knew was that she was alone in unfamiliar territory with a cell phone that didn't work.

FHP went looking for her, and I just got word that they found her and are taking care of her. Thank you FHP.

I took the kids to the Disney shopping village tonight and got them some clothes. My daughter Britta was so excited.

Nextel direct connect is beginning to work again in Slidell, so we are getting more information from there. My mom's house has the most damage. It appears to be structurally unsound. I think we may have lost her home completely. My sister's house faired the best. I may have pictures of the damage coming soon from my brother-in-law.

When we were leaving Disney Village, Britta looked at me and said, “Mom, today was a great day." I didn't know what to say. With all this death, destruction and desperation, I realized WE were so lucky. She was right, today was a great day.

Blog Entry #6
5:00pm ET

I just heard from our friend Rob. He and his family evacuated New Orleans. They have eight feet of water in their home and an unknown amount of water at his business. He is en route to Monroe, Louisiana. He is trying to drop off his wife and kids with family. From there, he will head to Baton Rouge where they are trying to set up a temporary office.

I talked to my husband very briefly. I hear the stress in his voice. I don't know what to do. Rob has also lost everything and only has $9 in his pocket. He has a wife and three children, all under the age of seven.

My sister's friend is heading to Franklinton, LA to rescue her aunt and uncle. They called her stating that they’re trapped in their home by trees, with no water and food. Along with her husband, she left from Atlanta with chainsaws to try and get them help.

My grandfather called. He got 13 feet of water in his house. It is a total loss.

My cousin called. He and his family rode out the storm at my uncle's house. Their house is sitting on their neighbor's house. They have lost everything. They have three very young children.

I can't sleep or eat. My mind just goes a mile a minute. I am scared. I am scared for my loved ones who are in Slidell. My daughter Britta asked me today when she is going home. She talks about her birthday party that all of her friends from school were going to come to. I still have not told her that she probably won't have a birthday party this year.

Anyone reading this: Please stay away from Slidell. There is no food, water, or shelter. Conditions are very dangerous. Slidell police have run out of gas and are on foot. It’s worse than you can imagine.

Blog Entry #5
11:15am ET

I am so angry. How dare these people start shooting at helicopters that are trying to rescue them! I am worried to death about my dad, my husband, and both my brothers-in-law that we sent with supplies. Things should not get that bad in Slidell. Don't get me wrong, things are bad, but civil unrest is totally uncalled for. If they are looting supplies to feed themselves, then let them go. If they are shooting and looting just because they can, then police should shoot first. I have been warning my husband of all the carjackings. The only thing that is keeping my family and friends safe is that the bridge from Slidell to New Orleans was destroyed. I hope the people who need to be rescued are. As far as looters that are shooting at potential rescuers, God will sort them out.

Just got a phone call from my little sister’s friend who is in Baton Rouge. He states that conditions are getting worse. Right after he left Wal-Mart, it was robbed. He said he is hearing about rapes. He is trying to get out. Mom got a call from her friend that lives down the street from her old house. They spent one night in their attic and another on a wet mattress on the front lawn. Still no word on my friend’s father-in-law.

Blog Entry #4
2:32am ET

Today was hard. I have been working the phones trying to find a Blackberry, fuel, and heavy equipment. I promised to take my daughter to Disney World today, but we never made it. I finally left the house and went to Walgreens. My husband called while I was gone. Walgreens was great. They filled my son’s prescription, which didn't have any refills left (it was just for a cream for dry skin). They also refilled my dad's heart medication. The pharmacist was extremely helpful.

I did speak to my husband David earlier today. It sounded like everything was taking a toll on him. You could hear it in his voice. He just wanted someone to talk to. When he said "I love you," his voice cracked. It's hard to stay strong when you just want to cry. The phone call that followed was much better. I think he just got upset over the devastation. My brother-in-law (sister's husband) left for Slidell earlier today carrying fuel and food. My other brother-in-law (David's brother) just left. He is also carrying fuel, food and clothes.

I can't believe people are looting and carjacking people. I am just beside myself. I can understand looting a food store for necessities and supplies, but jewelry stores? We saw one guy with a piano. We did see one lady walking out with the diapers and wipes. I totally understand looting to care for your children.

Tonight I went to Wal-Mart and got clothes and other items for my husband. My father-in-law likes coffee in the morning. I went and got him some, but while getting the cream I just broke down and cried. I saw the hazelnut cream that David likes in his coffee and it just hit me that I don't know when I will see him again.

Every night I would set the coffeemaker up and put his coffee mug out along with his hazelnut coffee creamer. I don't know when I will able to do that again seeing that I no longer have a coffee pot being that my kitchen has been destroyed along with everything else.

My little girl is asking for her daddy. She keeps telling everyone that she lost him. She cried herself to sleep tongiht. I got her and my son some books and toys since they don't have anything.

I talked to my friend today. The last time I talked to her was on Saturday while I was driving to Orlando. She and her family went to Baton Rouge. I have been leaving e-mails for her. They finally have electricity again, and she was able to answer me late tonight. She was crying so hard she could hardly breathe. Her parents have water to their rooftops and her father-in-law is missing. He tried to ride the storm out in New Orleans. Her in-laws live near City Park which flooded. As of this blog entry, still no word.

Blog Entry #3
9:34am ET

Heard from my husband last night. He is asking for food, ice and water. He states that conditions are unbearable. I am not to come home until it is safe and there is electricity — possibly three to four months. I have no money. I will not be getting a paycheck tomorrow, so I don't know how I am going to pay my bills.

My brother-in-law hosts a boat website classicmako.com, though it might currently be down. Some people have been in contact with him. One man in Tampa is giving us a trailer, generator, miscellaneous supplies, gas cans, and food. My brother-in-law is going to pick it up today and will try to head to Slidell with these supplies. We had to go buy a truck yesterday to get supplies to them. These people on this website are coming together and donating supplies. Everyone has been so nice to us.

Last night was the first night I didn't sleep with the television on since Thursday. I just gave up. It is what it is. I can't change anything. I have promised my children that we are going to Disney World. They are excited because we haven't left the house since we got here on Saturday. I have been too scared to leave in case my husband calls. My 11-month-old son needs his medicine refilled, but there is no doctor in Slidell to okay the refill. I can't find our friends that lived in New Orleans and Metairie. I can't find our friends who lived in Slidell, but all our family members are now accounted for.

Blog Entry #2
4:01pm ET

We will be staying in Orlando indefinitely. We have been given secondhand information of major destruction in Slidell. I have been told that where I live we had a 25-foot storm surge. I doubt my house is still there, but do not know for sure. The really bad news is that my mom is my neighbor to the right, my sister is my neighbor to the left, and my in-laws live on the next street over. So I can't just go stay with family; they also have nothing left.

My husband called at about 2:30 am CT this morning from a satellite phone. He is okay. We still have not heard from my uncle who stayed in Slidell. No one can reach him. My sister-in-law and her 6-week-old daughter evacuated with me, but my brother and father-in-law went to Hattiesburg. We have not heard from them since Sunday before the storm made landfall.

I will begin calling my creditors and mortgage company and ask them what to do. I can't pay my bills. I have no job, no money, no home, but I do have two children to feed and clothe. I left my husband all of the money I had. I can use credit cards, but he will need cash.

I have not told my daughter what has happened. She is 3 (turning 4 in October). My son is 11 months (he turns 1 next month.) I had all of these birthday party things up on the second floor, but I doubt they made it. New Orleans is flooding now. At times, all of us just bust out crying. We saw on the television today a man whose wife just told him to take care of the kids as he was forced to let her go. Everyone here were just crying. I can't sleep. I just need information.

The kids are picking up on the stress in the house from everyone, but how do you tell your children that they can't go home because it's a possibility we don't have a home? There are no more toys, no more swing set, and I don't know when they will see daddy again.

Blog Entry #1
1:08am ET

We found out tonight that we have lost everything. My husband can't make it to our house due to the water. It is too high. We have been told that there is chest-deep water on Old Spanish Trail which is about two miles to our east. The lake is in my home tonight. We are waiting for aerial views of our area. We lived in Lakeshore Estates Subdivision off of Oak Harbor Blvd. in Slidell in St. Tammany Parish. We literally lived on the lake. My husband has refused to let me come home. We have two children, an 11-month-old and a 3-year-old. We are monitoring FOX News 24 hours a day. We have been told that all communication has been lost in St. Tammany. It looks like Orlando, Florida will be my new home. I was born and raised in Slidell, Louisiana, so this is really hard.

Even though I have lost everything, I am truly rich tonight. I have my children and my husband. Everyone in my family is homeless tonight but safe, and that is truly a blessing. — Michele

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/03/05)

Paul Revere's Ride

While tension between the British forces in and around Boston and the Colonists continued to mount, no colonist had fired at British soldier that was soon to end in Lexington. The British were aware that the Colonists were stockpiling arms and munitions in Concord and General Gage was determined to seize the arms. The Colonist knew of Gages plans however, and were vigilant. Thus came about the most famous ride in American history- that of Paul Revere. Revere was among a small group of Patriots whose job it was to keep track of the movements of the British. On the evening of the 18th, the British were observed gathering. Paul Revere gave the word to light two lanterns at the North Church, thus complying with a prearranged signal, "one if by land, and two if by sea." Paul Revere then began his ride. He rode between Medford and Lexington warning almost every house along the way. During his ride he was tempoarily detained by British officers, but escaped.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Links for donations

Below are some links to charitable organizations accepting donations for victims of Hurricane Katrina. This issue has generated a lot of interest from all over the world (my weblogs attest to this) and regardless of what your position or political affiliation may be, the one thing that we can all agree on is that these people can use all the help they can get. Thanks in advance for any support you can give:

Red Cross: 1-800-HELP-NOW or https://http://www.redcross.org/

Salvation Army: 1-800-SAL-ARMY or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/

Operation Blessing: http://www.ob.org/

Catholic Charities: 1-800-919-9338 or http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/

Episcopal Relief & Development: 1-800-334-7626 or http://www.er-d.org/

United Methodist Committee on Relief: 1-800-554-8583 or http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/hurricanes/2005/

Operation USA: 1-800-678-7255 or http://www.opusa.org

FEMA Charity tips: http://www.fema.gov/rrr/help2.shtm

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster: http://www.nvoad.org/

Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: http://www.la-spca.org/

Islamic Relief: http://www.irw.org/katrina

ICNA Relief: http://icnarelief.org

Humane Society of the United States: http://www.hsus.org

United Jewish Communities: http://www.ujc.org/

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Buses, buses everywhere

Below is an AP photo from Thurday Sept. 1 showing what looks to be around 200 buses in a flooded parking lot on in New Orleans. Rather than flail his arms and curse at the Bush administration, Mayor Nagin would do well to explain why he did not deploy these buses before Hurricane Katrina hit to help evacuate those who had no transportation.

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Putting it plain and simple

The high winds of Katrina have all but knocked the wind out of the sails of the Cindy Sheehan story. It nonetheless still gets coverage and will likely get more as her come-back tour hits the road. Bob Kowell, in a brief editorial for The Village News, analyzes the demons that may be driving Sheehan in her quest for "answers":

Typical of the left, poor Cindy Sheehan is just wrong and deluded. Besides her feelings of guilt regarding her son's death, there is fear. She is having a hard time dealing with her guilt that her son re-enlisted despite her protests and probably re-enlisted because of her protests. Also, in hard times, there is a great amount of fear. Fear drives people to do crazy things such as confusing who is right and who is wrong.

Just who is wrong here? Are Americans responsible for 9/11? Were they responsible for the Germans and the Japanese actions in WWII? Were they responsible for the Holocaust?

We Americans have been responsible for freeing most of the world from tyrants, including overthrowing our own American Democrat Party on the issue of slavery, ending the National Socialist Party under Adolph Hitler, ending communism in most of the world and now trying to free Iraq and the Muslim world from tyranny. We are on the side of right most of the time.

I like the way this guy thinks... and many liberals will hate what he has to say in the two remaining paragraphs:

We must do everything we can to support President Bush and the war on terror. Will the evil go away if those who fight evil go away? By not standing up against bullies, will we be safe? Will giving in to the demands of those who kill innocent people give us a little more time?

The enemies of freedom will never go away. Stand against the forces that would destroy America; stand with President Bush. It is the right and just thing to do.

I can almost feel the wincing going on out there. Sorry to subject you to that;)

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Dueling Justices: Roberts vs. O'Connor

Since John Roberts will likely be filling the seat of outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a lot of comparisons are being made on the positions of both regarding civil rights and women's issues. Of course, if Roberts simply does what a Justice has been charged to do -- interpret and "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" -- all of this policy analysis is moot. Nonetheless it is an interesting study and USA Today shows us how the two measure up on important issues:

Roberts' record vs. O'Connor's on major questions

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Germany rises to the occasion

I have not always been happy with Germany's recent positions on world affairs but this gesture does much to soften my opinion:

BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Friday said he supported a U.S. request for the release of international oil reserves in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Schroeder said Germany's had a "historic duty" to support the United States because of U.S. aid to post-World War II Germany.

Kudos, Chancellor Schroeder. And thank you for making it a point to recognize our nation's past generosity in your time of need. Your help is much appreciated.

Schroeder backs world oil reserve release

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New Orleans reaching a boiling point

As NewsMax reports, the situation in New Orleans is still very dangerous and chaotic. As the crisis now enters it's fifth day, it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of what has happened and what is still to come. In terms of life lost, destruction of property, damage to infrastructure and economic repercussions, this event may rival if not surpass Sept. 11 in it's impact.

In addition we now have a home-grown insurgency that has hampered and in some cases halted further rescue efforts. Looting was to be expected but everyone from the Mayor all the way up to the President was caught off guard by the level of lawlessness that has infested the city. It is greatly slowing rescue and evacuation efforts and an angry Mayor Nagin is now faulting the federal government for his city's woes:

"They don't have a clue what's going on down there," Mayor Ray Nagin told WWL-AM Thursday night.

"They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn - excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed."

With the pressure Nagin is under, it is easy to see why he would be tempted to point the finger of blame elsewhere. But it also reveals a marked lack of character in his part at a time when he needs to be showing leadership -- a Giuliani he is clearly not. Ultimately he is the one responsible for his own city and what is now happening rests more on him and his policies than anyone else -- something I will go into at a later date.

In the meantime, there are still many to be rescued and to do that, the state is forced to employ harsh measures to deal with the criminal element that remains entrenched in the city:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco called the looters "hoodlums" and issued a warning to lawbreakers: Hundreds of National Guard troops hardened on the battlefield in Iraq have landed in New Orleans.

"They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded," she said. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."
So much is going on that it is difficult to put it all together into anything comprehensive. As it stands we still face many serious problems:

This might sound drastic to some but it would be a lot more cruel to allow people to starve to death and go without medical care. That is not feasible until order is restored by whatever means possible. Many in the press are publishing accounts of hostile treatment at the hands of National Guard members and police officers but I am not going to go there. They are doing an extremely dangerous job and are heroes as far as I'm concerned. I know the press well enough to say with certainty that many of the more positive stories are probably going unreported.

Meanwhile the problems at the Superdome continue to escalate:

Nearby, about 15,000 to 20,000 people who had taken shelter at New Orleans Convention Center grew ever more hostile after waiting for buses for days amid the filth and the dead.

Police Chief Eddie Compass said there was such a crush around a squad of 88 officers that they retreated when they went in to check out reports of assaults.

"We have individuals who are getting raped, we have individuals who are getting beaten," Compass said. "Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."

By Thursday evening, 11 hours after the military began evacuating the Superdome, the arena held 10,000 more people than it did at dawn. Evacuees from across the city swelled the crowd to about 30,000 because they believed the arena was the best place to get a ride out of town.

Some of those among the mostly poor crowd had been in the dome for four days without air conditioning, working toilets or a place to bathe. One military policeman was shot in the leg as he and a man scuffled for the MP's rifle. The man was arrested.

By late Thursday, the flow of refugees to the Houston Astrodome was temporarily halted with a population of 11,325, less than half the estimated 23,000 people expected.

The multiple levels of crisis that affect this city and the national ripples that will follow are almost more than the mind can take in. One thing that is certain is that it will likely get worse before it gets better. All that the rest of us can do is keep praying and helping out as much as we can with our contributions.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/02/05)

George Washington Carver

Carver, George Washington, 1864?–1943, American agricultural chemist, b. Diamond, Mo., grad. Iowa State College (now Iowa State Univ.; B.S., 1894; M.A. 1896). Born a slave, he later, as a free man, earned his college degree. In 1896 he joined the staff of Tuskegee Institute as director of the department of agricultural research, retaining that post the rest of his life. His work won him international repute. Carver's efforts to improve the economy of the South (he dedicated himself especially to bettering the position of African Americans) included the teaching of soil improvement and of diversification of crops. He discovered hundreds of uses for the peanut, the sweet potato, and the soybean and thus stimulated the culture of these crops. He devised many products from cotton waste and extracted blue, purple, and red pigments from local clay. From 1935 he was a collaborator of the Bureau of Plant Industry. Carver contributed his life savings to a foundation for research at Tuskegee. In 1953 his birthplace was made a national monument.

From InfoPlease

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Update on DoD press conference

The Defense Department's press conference detailing their findings on Able Danger is now over and (surprise) the telltale chart has not turned up:

After doing extensive document searches and interviewing 80 people involved with the Able Danger program, DoD officials have been unable to find the chart alleged to have contained a photo of Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, said Pat Downs, a senior policy analyst with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

It was very doubtful that the smoking gun was going to be provided by the Defense Department -- but we still could hope. One thing worth noting is that the DoD did concede the possibility that the chart may have been destroyed:

There is a possibility that such a chart could have been destroyed, because during Able Danger, strict regulations about destruction of documents containing information about U.S. persons were followed, Gandy said. However, the officials found no indication that legal advice was given to anyone involved with the program to destroy documents, Chope said.

I am still convinced that at some point in the very near future a copy of that chart will surface. Curt Weldon would not be sticking his neck out unless he still had some cards up his sleeve.

DoD Discusses ‘Able Danger’ Findings

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Keeping the focus

The full scope of the damage left behind by Hurricane Katrina will not be known for some time to come. The horror of the storm itself and the terror of the ensuing floods have now passed. But now we face a human element that is proving to be every bit as disturbing as anything that has transpired to date. It is now becoming apparent that some of those who ignored the orders to evacuate did so because they wanted to have free reign of a city that would soon be ripe for the picking.

However, it is easy in our outrage (I definitely include myself in this) to lose focus on what is really important -- on helping those who need help. The Red Cross has set up a hurricane relief fund and I engourage anyone who is reading this to pitch in, even if it is a few dollars. Below is the link:

American Red Cross Hurricane Relief

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You want ketchup on that?

Senator John Kerry, loser........ of the 2004 presidential elections, will host a $1,000-a -plate picnic in Pennsylvania to raise funds for the campaign of longtime friend Bob Casey, Jr. Casey is in a bid to unseat Republican Senator Rick Santorum in the 2006 race.

No word about what's on the menu but for $1,000 a plate, I hope they're breaking out the good Chinet.

Kerrys Hold Picnic for Santorum Opponent

Something brewing at the DOD

The following press advisory appeared the Department of Defense website a just few short hours ago:

DoD Background Briefing on Able Danger

There will be an Able Danger background briefing at 2 p.m. EDT in the OSD Executive Conference Center , Pentagon 2C554, Room #7.

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the North Parking Entrance only. Plan to arrive no later than 1:30 p.m.; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please call (703) 697-5131 for escort into the building.

I will issue an update as soon as one is available. In the meantime here's the old tried and true Drudge gimmick yet again:


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Conservative group has some questions of it's own for John Roberts

According to Cybercast News Service the libs are not the only ones scrutinizing John Roberts:

(CNSNews.com) - A pro-life lobby is publishing five questions that Judge John Roberts "must be asked."

The National Pro-Life Action Center (NPLAC) -- which calls itself the uncompromising voice of pro-life America on Capitol Hill -- said it is delivering those questions to every member of the U.S. House and Senate in preparation for next week's confirmation hearing.

The group also is launching a print ad listing the questions.

"Until now, most people involved in this process have sadly been content to ask loaded questions that are designed to appease partisan special interests or obfuscate the facts," said Stephen G. Peroutka, NPLAC chairman and co-author of the report.

"The time has come to restore integrity and propriety to the nomination process and the judiciary itself. These questions are designed to legitimately establish the foundation of Judge Roberts' judicial temperament while respecting the standards of the inquiry."

So what are the 5 questions? The rest of the story can be found below:

Pro-Life Group Poses Five Questions for John Roberts

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A soldier's reply to Cindy Sheehan

Much has been written on this blog and others about the Cindy Sheehan protest. A common argument from the other side is that those who oppose Sheehan who have never served in the military or do not currently have any family members in Iraq should sit down and shut up.

Okay then... let's read a letter from an actual soldier stationed in Iraq:

Michael McCoy

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail Capt. Michael McCoy sent Aug. 26 from Iraq to his family and friends at home in Orange County:

As I am sure all of you know, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, has been holding a vigil/protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch. Sheehan has stated that she wants an audience with President Bush so that she can ask him "what her son died for." She also has stated that she believes that all of the troops should be brought home from Iraq, because the war was based "on a lie" and Americans are "dying over there for nothing."

With all due respect to Sheehan, I strongly disagree with her and believe that her public comments and actions are not only detrimental to the legacy of her son, but also have the very real potential to make our lives over here in Iraq much more difficult and dangerous.

Taking the second point first ... the insurgency listens to the same news broadcasts that you and I do. They hear story after story about how support for the war is falling, how Americans are demanding an early withdrawal and how a spirit of defeatism is gripping the landscape. And with each story, they are emboldened to carry on. Because with every car bomb they explode, every mortar and rocket they fire and every American they kill, the calls for retreat from Washington and the American public grow louder and louder. The way they figure it ... all they need to do is "outlast" us. And given the lack of fortitude the American public has recently shown regarding the war, that can't be much longer.

In the meantime, and in an effort to hasten this process, the insurgents will do everything they can to kill more of us. So they can create more Cindy Sheehans who will stand up and cry and say that "we have lost," and "we must withdraw our troops" and abandon the cause.

What Sheehan and many other Americans don't understand, but what the insurgency most certainly does, is that withdrawal at this stage of the war equals American defeat. If we pull our troops out now, if we abandon this country now, we will have unequivocally failed in our noble mission to lay a foundation for lasting peace in this troubled region of the world. Moreover, we will have rendered the deaths of over 1,800 American troops meaningless.

Sheehan continues to ask "what her son died for." If she asked me, I would answer that question by telling her that her son gave his life for a cause greater than himself (an act increasingly uncommon in modern American society). I would remind her that her son volunteered to join the military not once, but twice (he re-enlisted even after the war had started).

I am sure that he joined the military for a whole host of reasons, not least of which was a desire to serve his country. I assume that he decided to re-enlist, even during the war, out of a sense of loyalty to those he served with, and maybe (just maybe) a belief in the cause in which he was engaged. In both acts, he put aside his strong instinctual feelings of self-preservation in favor of a commitment to those he served with and for. And tragically, he gave the last full measure of devotion to both. For this, he should be extolled, and his sacrifice should not be questioned but unequivocally honored.

I find it sad, but not surprising, that of the 1,800 men and women who have died in Iraq, America only knows the name of oneof the parents who lost their child. Ignored are those parents who quietly mourn and who continue to honor their children's lives by not delegitimizing their deaths.

That pretty much nails it and I have nothing to add. Capt. McCoy puts it better than I ever could.

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A bad situation gets worse in New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is quickly approaching a state of anarchy, as looters, opportunistic delinquents and overall pieces of human debris attempt to reign terror over the city. Now what was once a rescue mission has turned into a warzone:

NEW ORLEANS -- The evacuation of the New Orleans Superdome was suspended Thursday after gunshots were fired at a military helicopter as thousands of National Guard troops poured into the Big Easy to boost security in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The first of nearly 25,000 refugees being sheltered at the New Orleans Superdome began to arrive in Houston, Texas, Thursday. But that process ground to a halt after shots were fired at the helicopter over the Superdome before daybreak, according to an ambulance official overseeing the operation.

"We have suspended operations until they gain control of the Superdome," said Richard Zeuschlag, head of Acadian Ambulance, which was handling the evacuation of sick and injured people from the Superdome.

He said that military would not fly out of the Superdome either because of the gunfire and that the National Guard told him that it was sending 100 military police officers to gain control.

"That's not enough," Zeuschlag said. "We need a thousand."

He also said that during the night, when a medical evacuation helicopter tried to land at a hospital in the outlying town of Kenner, the pilot reported that 100 people were on the landing pad, and some of them had guns.

"He was frightened and would not land," Zeuschlag said.

He said medics were calling him and crying for help because they were so scared of people with guns at the Superdome.

The 10,000 new National Guard troops deployed to the regions brought the number of troops dedicated to the effort to more than 28,000, in what may be the largest military response to a natural disaster.

Meanwhile, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and stop thieves who were becoming increasingly hostile.

"They are starting to get closer to heavily populated areas -- hotels, hospitals, and we're going to stop it right now," Nagin said Wednesday.

Many strong emotions come up as I hear about these developments and I am reluctant to record them all here. I will tell you that I feel an intense resentment over this culture of entitlement and lawlessness that has been allowed and even encouraged by politicians and certain factions of this country over the past few decades. Taking cans of food from a grocery store for survival is one thing. Rolling out a cart full of brand new Nike shoes is quite another.

But now it has gone beyond the mere breaking of department store windows. Looters are crawling over corpses to steal whatever valuables they have on them. Armed half-wits are shooting at medical helicopters and waving guns at rescue workers, preventing them from saving those who legitimately need saving.

In short, a lowlife group of rogues has determined that this city is their city now. I have no sympathy for whatever happens to these punks at the hands of the National Guard.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (9/01/05)

"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

James Madison, Federalist No. 51

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Able Danger docs may be no more

There is an very interesting post on Free Republic from Lancey Howard regarding an interview with Rep. Curt Weldon on Monday's Dom Giordano radio show. According to the congressman, some explosive new revelations are about to come out in the ongoing Able Danger scandal. Here is the first paragraph:

Congressman Curt Weldon (R - Pennsylvania) gave another exclusive interview to Dom Giordano this evening (Monday) and broke the news that he will be giving a speech on September 8th (next Monday) during which he will present yet another 'Able Danger' witness. This new witness will attest (and will swear under oath when called) that he was "ordered to destroy records" relating to the 'Able Danger' program.

Hmmmmmm.... maybe this will explain what happened to the much-rumored charts.

Full post can be found here.

Oh, was this yours?

After considerable debate, the U.N. has decided to pay back $40 million that it owed the Iraqis after the "Oil For Food" debacle ended. How big of them!

U.N. Agencies Agree to Repay Oil-For-Food Proceeds

Problems for New Orleans far from over

Katrina continues to be the big story as the casualties mount and floodwaters continue to rise in New Orleans. We will not have an accurate death count for several more days but as it stands it will likely be in the hundreds. Most of the city is now underwater and now those people that remain are facing new problems:

The flooding in New Orleans grew worse by the minute Wednesday, prompting Gov. Kathleen Blanco to say that everyone still in the city, now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers, needs to leave. She said she wanted the Superdome evacuated within two days as the broken levees continued to allow water to gush into the Big Easy, but it was still unclear where the people would go.

The air conditioning inside the Superdome was out, the toilets were broken, and tempers were rising in the sweltering heat.

"We have a huge problem and until we have that breach under control, we will continue to have a problem," Blanco told FOX News early Wednesday morning.

"One of the reasons we're asking people to leave is it's getting more and more difficult to get things like water and basic things to them... it's just a very trying time for everybody. We're trying to minimize the impact. We've got to vacate the people out of the Superdome today and tomorrow -- that's about 20,000 people that need to be moved."

So long as the water continues to flow into New Orleans at the current pace, Blanco added, "you can't get it under control easily -- it's a logistical nightmare."

What a horrible situation. Even with the dire predictions being put forth on Sunday, I'm not sure many of us were prepared for the sheer devestation Katrina would leave in it's wake.

The one ray of light will come in the form of a nation pulling together to do what they do best -- help out. With the selfless efforts of military and rescue workers as well as civilians digging into their own pockets and cupboards, Americans will once again show what they are made of.

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (8/31/05)

The Blue Angels

The Blue Angels’ mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting and to represent the naval service to the United States, its elected leadership and foreign nations. The Blue Angels serve as positive role models and goodwill ambassadors for the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps. A Blue Angels flight demonstration exhibits the choreographed refinements of Navy trained flying skills. It includes the graceful aerobatic maneuvers of the four-plane Diamond Formation, in concert with the fast-paced, high-performance maneuvers of its two solo pilots. Finally, the team illustrates the pinnacle of precision flying, performing maneuvers locked as a unit in the renowned, six-jet Delta Formation. Stationed during the show season at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, the squadron spends the winter (January through March) training pilots and new team members at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California. The Blue Angels are scheduled to fly nearly 70 air shows at 34 locations in the United States and Canada during the 2004 season. Last season brought out more than 17 million spectators. Since its inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 381 million fans.


Prime contractor: Boeing
Principal contractor (airframe): Northrop Corporation
Powerplant: Two General Electric F404-GE-400 low-bypass, turbofan engines; each in the 16,000-pound thrust class
Radar: Hughes APG-65 with long-range detection in both head-on and tail-on aspects
Length: 56 feet
Height: 15.3 feet
Wingspan: 40.4 feet (with missiles)
Wing area: 400 square feet
Speed: Mach 1.7+ (1,200 mph)
First flight: November 1978
Crew: One (two in two-seat trainer version)
Combat radius: 500-plus nautical miles
Combat ceiling: 50,000 feet (approx.)
Fuel: (approx.) 11,000 lbs. internal, 16,000 lbs. with external tanks.
Maximum takeoff weight: 56,000 lbs. (approx.) fighter escort missions
Cost: Approximately $18 million

All information courtesy of the Official Blue Angels Website

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Libs shaking their fists at the Angels

Some of my most vivid memories as a youngster were of watching the Blue Angels perform whenever they came to my home state. My spirits would soar along with those Navy jets as they performed their awesome synchronized maneuvers with hairpin precision. I'm sure that anyone who has ever seen their show has experienced the same awe that I did.

Well... almost anyone. Now a leftist group has decided they are actually offended by the Blue Angels. So offended, in fact that they intend to stage a protest at one of their upcoming airshows at Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine.

But that's not the kicker. As an added bonus they have managed to recruit none other than leftist muppet and media darling Cindy Sheehan to participate in the demonstration:

Sheehan, who gained national attention by staging a vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, canceled a trip to Italy to participate in a Sept. 10 rally outside the main gate at the Brunswick base, according to her spokeswoman, Jessica Smith.

The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, Sheehan is scheduled to join a group of local war protestors who will march to the rally site from the Brunswick Mall.

Bruce Gagnon of Brunswick, who is organizing the rally for Veterans for Peace, said it's fitting for someone like Sheehan to come to Brunswick and for the group to stage a protest to "stop the worship of the gods of war."

Whatta buncha hippie-babble. Which is precisely why I hope Sheehan goes through with it. It will not only demonstrate that her cause stretches well beyond that of her son, it will also show just how far out of the mainstream she actually is. With some 200,000 people expected to attend the airshow, Cindy's crowd of dozens will be lucky to register a blip on the screen.

Incidentally, Cindy and her "Veterinarians for Peas" have inspired me to highlight the Blue Angels in tomorrow's "Patriotic Post of the Day". Watch for it!

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Code Pink refuses to observe the signs

Last week CNSNews ran a story about a group of liberal protestors co-sponsored by "Code Pink" who congregate on a daily basis in front of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center holding up anti-war signs for the injured patients to see. Now that the spotlight is on them, the organization is trying to cover it's tracks by claiming that some of the more radical slogans are the result of conservative infiltrators trying to damage their... ahem... good reputation. The following is part of a statement released over the weekend by Code Pink:

"In recent weeks, the [Walter Reed Army Hospital] vigil has attracted some people who have tried to change the tone and message of the vigil, including yelling and holding up inappropriate signs," the Code Pink statement read. "The organizers have asked the newcomers to be respectful and wonder if they might indeed be infiltrators whose aim is to disrupt the vigil."

Nice try. But CNSNews has tracked down the origin of one of the more inflammatory signs and -- at least in this case -- all of the arrows point left:

Among the most controversial signs held up at the protests was the one reading "Maimed for a Lie." But far from qualifying as an "infiltrator," Kevin McCarron, a spokesman for another anti-war group sponsoring the demonstrations, was photographed on June 17 holding the "Maimed for a Lie" sign himself.

Cybercast News Service obtained the photo from the D.C. chapter of the conservative blogging group Free Republic. When contacted on Monday, McCarron acknowledged that he held the "Maimed for a Lie" sign at the June 17 protest. He also expressed reservations about having the sign appear in front of the Army hospital.

"To some extent it might be (inappropriate,)" McCarron said. "We spoke to the (Walter Reed anti-war) organizers and they recommended it is a bit insensitive, so we are not going to show it anymore.

"Then again, the maiming itself, the wounding itself, the killing itself that's occurring, that goes on, is also offensive," McCarron said.

That's all good and fine, Mr. McCarron, but why punish the soldiers? Why not protest in front of the White House or the Pentagon? Your actions at Walter Reed are only adding more trauma to what is already an intensely traumatic situation for these men and women. By rubbing salt into the wounds of the wounded the only thing you accomplish is to show the world what a class-A jerk you are. And trust me, you are one.

Code Pink is not faring much better as they send mixed messages in their feeble attempts at defending themselves:

Asked by radio talk show host Sean Hannity on Aug. 25 whether she was "embarrassed" that signs reading "Maimed for a Lie" and "Enlist here to die for Halliburton" were being waved in front of the hospital, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin replied: "I don't think the signs you said are appropriate signs and if I were there (at Walter Reed), I would ask them (the anti-war activists) to take them down."

But Laura Costas, also a Code Pink spokeswoman, insisted just hours later that such signs as "Maimed for a Lie," were appropriate.

"If that's how somebody feels about it, they're entitled to that," Costas said during an appearance on the Fox News Channel program, "Hannity and Colmes."

Sounds like these two women should have met beforehand to get their talking points straight. Regardless, the common denominator in their contradictory statements is a refusal to claim resposibility for the radical slogans that were being displayed. However, this sort of thing does not happen in a vacuum. The higher-ups in the organization have had ample time to see the more comtemptable messages that were on exhibit and root out any of the rogues in their midst. The fact that they have chosen not to do so until recently constitutes a silent endorsement on their part.

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Too kooky even for Rev. Al

It looks as if Al Sharpton has finally realized the damage he has done to his political aspirations by associating with Cindy Sheehan. Apparently after meeting with the activist mom, he couldn't get away fast enough:

A weekend meeting with Cindy Sheehan was followed by a high-speed, nine-mile police chase for Rev. Al Sharpton.

A car carrying the former presidential candidate to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport was clocked at 110 mph in a 65-mph zone on Interstate 35-E west of Waxahachie, Texas.

"That nine-mile chase is news to me," Sharpton told the Associated Press. "All I know is that the police pulled us over because they wanted to talk to the driver about speeding."

He also called the sheriff's report "ludicrous" and accused the officers in Ellis County of "embellishing the story."

Chief Deputy Charles Sullins said the driver, 43-year-old Jarrett Maupin of Phoenix, ignored police attempts to stop the vehicle, which was weaving in and out of traffic before state troopers were finally able to get in front of it.

Maupin was arrested on charges of evading arrest with a vehicle and reckless driving. He has since been released after posting a $1,000 bond. The car was impounded.

Sharpton reportedly said the law required officers to arrest everone in the vehicle, but Sullins said that was wrong, asking AP, "Why would we arrest the passengers for something the driver did?"

Sharpton and the two other passengers in the rented 2005 Lincoln were reportedly offered a ride by deputies to a nearby hotel. They declined and said they'd walk.

Sharpton reportedly hitched a ride from a passing car and made his flight to New York.

You gotta admit the guy is great entertainment!

Story below:

Sharpton hitches to airport after 110-mph chase

Request made to White House for Able Danger chart

In the latest chapter of the Able Danger saga, we learned that the much touted chart showing Mohamed Atta's connection to 9/11 had appeared in a 2002 video of a speech by Rep. Curt Weldon. Now the Senate wants to see the chart:

The Senate Intelligence Committee has contacted the White House asking whether it has a copy of a pre-9/11 chart put together by the Able Danger military intelligence team that identified lead hijacker Mohamed Atta as a terrorist threat.

Time magazine reports that the Committee "last week drafted a letter asking the White House for a copy" of the politically explosive chart, which Congressman Curt Weldon said he gave to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Hadley two weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

Earlier this month, Able Danger whistleblower Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer explained how the Atta chart was handed off to Hadley.

"Within two weeks of the attack, this colleague of mine ... she took that very poster [with Mohamed Atta] to Congressman [Curt] Weldon," Shaffer said in a radio interview. "And I have to say he took it right to [Steven] Hadley, I believe, over at the NSC."

Story below:

Senate Asks White House for Able Danger Chart

Katrina's deadly journey

Hurricane Katrina has left a devastating toll, with unconfirmed reports of 80 deaths in one Mississippi county alone:

"The devastation down there is just enormous," [Gov. Haley] Barbour said on NBC's "Today" show, the morning after Katrina howled ashore with winds of 145 mph.

Tree trunks, downed power lines and trees, and chunks of broken concrete in the streets hampered rescue efforts, which were being conducted by boat and helicopter.

Swirling water in many areas contained hidden dangers. Crews worked to clear highways. Along one Mississippi highway, motorists themselves used chainsaws to remove trees blocking the road.

More than 1,600 Mississippi National Guardsmen were activated, and the Alabama Guard planned to send two battalions to Mississippi.

"We know that there is a lot of the coast that we have not been able to get to," the governor said. "I hate to say it, but it looks like it is a very bad disaster in terms of human life."

More below:

'This Is Our Tsunami'

Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (8/30/05)

The National Guard, the oldest component of the Armed Forces of the United States and one of the nation's longest enduring institutions, celebrated its 366th birthday in 2002. The National Guard traces its history back to the earliest English colonies in North America. Responsible for their own defense, the colonists drew on English military tradition and organized their able-bodied male citizens into militias.

The Guard doubled the size of the Regular Army when it was mobilized in 1940, more than a year before Pearl Harbor, and contributed 19 divisions to that war, as well as numerous other units including Guard aviation squadrons. More than 138,000 Guardsmen were mobilized for Korea, followed by numerous smaller mobilizations for the Berlin Crisis, Vietnam, and numerous strikes and riots at home. Approximately 63,000 Army Guardsmen were called to serve in Desert Storm, and in the decade since then Guardsmen have seen a greater role than ever before -- conducting peacekeeping in Somalia, Haiti, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 50,000 Guardsmen were called up by both their States and the Federal government to provide security at home and combat terrorism abroad.

Today's National Guard continues its historic dual mission, providing the states with units trained and equipped to protect life and property, while providing the nation with units ready to defend the United States and its interests around the world.

From The Army National Guard website

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sheehan's shadow

So you thought the Cindy Sheehan protest was a spontaneous act of desperation from a grieving mom? Think again.

Byron York from the National Review introduces us to Lisa Fithian, the ultra-radical leftist who has been lurking behind the scenes of this story from the very beginning. According to York, it is she who first pushed Cindy Sheehan into the spotlight and it is also she who has been whispering into Sheehan's ear every step of the way:

A notice on Cindy Sheehan's website, meetwithcindy.org, asks for donors who might be able to offer a camper, or an RV, or just money, for Sheehan's upcoming cross-country tour, scheduled to begin Wednesday in Crawford, Texas, and end in Washington at the big antiwar demonstration scheduled for September 24. At the end of the note, readers with something to offer are asked to "please call organizer Lisa Fithian."

To anyone familiar with the world of professional protesting — protests against globalism, capitalism, war, police tactics, and dozens of other causes — the presence of Fithian is a sign of how far Cindy Sheehan has strayed from the roots of her "one mom" crusade against George W. Bush. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a sign that the "one mom" crusade was never just one mom. Fithian is a legendary organizer who operates in the world of anti-globalism anarchists, antiwar protesters, and union activists; an advocate of aggressive "direct action" demonstrations, she protested the first Gulf war, played an important role in the violent shutdown of Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, was a key planner in protests at the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2000 and 2004, and organized demonstrations at trade meetings in Washington, D.C., Prague, and Genoa.

Although she has received virtually no attention from reporters covering Sheehan, Fithian has been part of the Crawford protest from the very beginning. In a telephone interview with National Review Online on Sunday, she explained that she was with Sheehan in Dallas at a meeting of the antiwar group Veterans for Peace during the first days of August when the decision was made for Sheehan to go to the president's ranch. On August 6, when Sheehan went to Crawford — in a bus with the words "Impeachment Tour" emblazoned on the side — Fithian went along. "I came the first day and helped her [Sheehan] set up the initial encampment," Fithian said. With the exception of one brief absence, she has been there ever since.

Full story below:

Cindy Sheehan’s Radical Strategist

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That elusive chart...

From all appearances, we are getting ever closer to the smoking gun in the Able Danger controversy. According to NewsMax, we now have video of the missing chart which identified 9/11 leader, Mohamed Atta. Appropriately enough, the chart is seen in a speech given by Rep. Curt Weldon in May, 2002 on data fusion techniques:

"This is the unclassified chart that was done by the Special Forces Command briefing center one year before 9/11," he explains. "It is the complete architecture of al Qaeda and pan-Islamic extremism. It gives all the linkages. It gives all the capabilities. . . ."

Though Weldon never mentions Able Danger or Atta by name - and the video never zooms in on the chart to the point where Atta's photo is identifiable - it's clear from Weldon comments that the chart is the same one currently being sought.

So where is this copy of the chart now? Has Weldon misplaced it? I suspect not. Knowing the congressman's penchant for drama I think he may simply be waiting for the appropriate time to unveil it again -- perhaps during future congressional hearings.

If not then we can always ask Stephen Hadley for his copy:

Since the Able Danger story broke three weeks ago, the Pennsylvania Republican has repeatedly insisted that he gave a copy of the chart shortly after the 9/11 attacks to then-Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley.

In the 2002 speech, Weldon told the same story in greater detail, standing beside a copy of what he said he gave Hadley.

"I went to the White House. I don't mean to embarrass this guy cause he's a good friend of mine. But I took a mini version of this chart in Nov. [2001] and I turned it over to him - Steve Hadley, who works directly for [then-National Security Advisor] Condi Rice."

Weldon said Hadley was stunned after viewing the Al Qaeda-Atta document.

"This is unbelievable - where'd you get this?" he wanted to know.

After being told that the chart was prepared by military intelligence a year before the 9/11 attacks, Hadley said, according to Weldon, "I've got to show this to the man" - apparently referring to President Bush.

This is getting interesting, folks.

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A conservative in his own write

The St. Petersburg Times, in an article titled Meet John Roberts, in his words details the conservative views of John Roberts as revealed in his own writings. The topics covered here range from political and social issues to sports to pop culture. While there is nothing groundbreaking here, there are some interesting quotes that give us a glimpse at his reasoning behind certain positions as well as his sense of humor.

On judicial activism:

In another 1981 memo, Roberts attacked "judicial activism," a term many conservatives use to criticize the abortion decision. He said everyone may like the idea of a right to privacy, but "that does not, however, mean that courts should discern such an abstraction in the Constitution" and use it to strike down laws.

On prayer at graduation ceremonies:

"Students were not compelled to attend the ceremony," the brief said, "and those who attended were not forced to participate in any religious activity."

On habeas corpus:

In a 1981 memo, he argued for restrictions of habeas corpus protections, which give accused criminals the right to challenge their imprisonment. "The current availability of federal habeas corpus, particularly for state prisoners, goes far to making a mockery of the entire criminal justice system," Roberts wrote.

He said it is rare "that the meritorious claim has anything to do with the petitioner's innocence."

On comparable worth:

When three Republican women in Congress urged the Reagan administration not to intervene in a case involving the comparable worth of female workers, Roberts scoffed at their ideas.

The three representatives wanted the administration to support better pay for women because on average they earned only 60 cents for every $1 earned by men. Roberts believed that would violate free-market principles.

"I honestly find it troubling that that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept," he wrote in a 1984 memo. "Their slogan may as well be "From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.' "

On Pete Rose:

In a 1985 memo, he said it would be inaccurate for Reagan to refer to Pete Rose as a "slugger." He said: "Rose is a singles hitter, whose lifetime "slugging average' of .415 is not even close to the minimum .500 required for listing" as a slugger.

On Michael Jackson:

"If one wants the youth of America and the world sashaying around in garish sequined costumes, hair dripping with pomade, body shot full of female hormones to prevent voice change, mono-gloved, well, then, I suppose "Michael,' as he is affectionately known in the trade, is in fact a good example. Quite apart from the problem of appearing to endorse Jackson's androgynous life style, a presidential award would be perceived as a shallow effort by the president to share in the constant publicity surrounding Jackson. . . . The whole episode would, in my view, be demeaning to the president."

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (8/29/05)

Treaty of Paris, 1783

In April 1782 Benjamin Franklin rejected informal peace feelers from Great Britain for a settlement that would provide the thirteen states with some measure of autonomy within the British empire. Franklin insisted on British recognition of American independence and refused to consider a peace separate from France, America’s staunch ally. Franklin did agree to negotiations with the British for an end to the war. West sketchJoined by peace commissioners John Adams and John Jay, Franklin engaged the British in formal negotiations beginning on September 27, 1782. Although Franklin demanded the cessation of Canada to an independent America, he knew that the British Government of Lord Shelburne, opposed to American independence, was unprepared to accept that offer. Two months of hard bargaining resulted in a preliminary articles of peace in which the British accepted American independence and boundaries--a bitter pill to George III--resolved the difficult issues of fishing rights on the Newfoundland banks and prewar debts owed British creditors, promised restitution of property lost during the war by Americans loyal to the British cause, and provided for the evacuation of British forces from the thirteen states. The preliminary articles signed in Paris on November 30, 1782, were only effective when a similar treaty was signed by Britain and France, which French Foreign Minister Vergennes quickly negotiated. France signed preliminary articles of peace with Great Britain on January 20, 1783, which were followed by a formal peace of Paris signed on September 3, 1783. The illustration above, a copy of a sketch by the studio of Benjamin West, shows the American negotiators of the Peace of Paris. The sketch remains incomplete because British negotiators chose not to sit for their half of the portrait; it has served as a powerful symbol of the division between Great Britain and its former American colonies.

From Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Orleans soon to face Katrina's wrath

Hurricane Katrina is expected to slam into New Orleans early Monday morning in what will be the city's first direct-hit by a hurricane in 40 years. As if this writing, the storm is a category five with 165 mph winds:

"The conditions have to be absolutely perfect to have a hurricane become this strong," said National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield, noting that Katrina may yet be more powerful than 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Andrew, with 165 mph winds, leveled parts of South Florida, killed 43 people and caused $31 billion in damage.

"It's capable of causing catastrophic damage," Mayfield said. "Even well-built structures will have tremendous damage. Of course, what we're really worried about is the loss of lives."

As many as 100,000 inner-city residents didn't have the means to leave, and an untold number of tourists were stranded by the closing of the airport. The city arranged buses to take people to 10 last-resort shelters, including the Superdome.

This shaping up to be a serious event. Pray for the city and those that are stranded there.

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With friends like these...

For a supposed U.S. ally, Russia sure does some strange things sometimes:

MOSCOW -- Two U.S. senators visiting sites where weapons of mass destruction are being stored were held for several hours Sunday at a Siberian airport while trying to leave Russia, a U.S. Embassy spokesperson said.

Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., were held at the airport in Perm but allowed to leave after discussions between U.S. and Russian officials, the embassy spokesperson said on condition of anonymity.

Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Obama spent three days in Russia visiting sites where warheads are stored before destruction under the U.S.-funded Comprehensive Threat Reduction program.

The spokesperson did not have information on the nature of the dispute that resulted in the senators being held. Telephone calls to the Russian border guard service and Foreign Ministry were not answered Sunday evening.

The spokesperson also said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., was delayed in departing from another Russian airport Sunday because of documentation problems.

According to my trusted sources, the Bush administration was engaged in heated negotiations to let Russia keep Obama and Hagel in exchange for a couple of those neat little matryoshka dolls.

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Patently Patriotic Post of the Day (8/28/05)

“It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”
“ The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.”

Thomas Paine “The Existence of God", 1810