Monday, April 30, 2007

See if you can identify the contradiction in these four recent headlines from the UK:

[2004] Fertiliser bombers linked to 7/7 [2005] attacks

MI5 'knew 7/7 [2005] bomber was terror target associate [in 2004]'


Britain becoming a Big Brother society, says data watchdog

UK committee probes surveillance, data collection

Just so it's clear...

We demand our intelligence services survey for potential terrorists without actually conducting, you know, surveillance.

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Just released today, many are already finding a slew of bad errors in former CIA Director George Tenet's new book, At the Center of the Storm.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD has now learned of a second, more stunning error in Tenet's book (which is due to appear in bookstores tomorrow). According to Michiko Kakutani's review in Saturday's Times,

On the day after 9/11, he [Tenet] adds, he ran into Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative and the head of the Defense Policy Board, coming out of the White House. He says Mr. Perle turned to him and said: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday. They bear responsibility."

Here's the problem: Richard Perle was in France on that day, unable to fly back after September 11. In fact Perle did not return to the United State until September
15. Did Tenet perhaps merely get the date of this encounter wrong? Well, the quote Tenet ascribes to Perle hinges on the encounter taking place September 12: "Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday." And Perle in any case categorically denies to THE WEEKLY STANDARD ever having said any such thing to Tenet, while coming out of the White House or anywhere else.

According to Kakutani, Tenet concludes by paraphrasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan's comment: "Policymakers are entitled to their own opinions--but not to their own set of facts." How many other facts has George Tenet invented?

Additionally, one agrees with Bill Kristol's assessment on Fox News this weekend that Tenet is "a big baby."

This guy was the CIA director! Not so long ago it would have been unprecidented and unthinkable that the director of an agency charged with keeping national secrets would feel the self-absorbed need to release a "tell all."

Are we really in an era where persons in such high-power positions are so thin skinned they cannot cope with natural criticisms that come with such a job?

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[UK Times] Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake.

Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.

Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

Global warming on Mars is the mother of all "inconvenient truths" for Al Gore and the endless number of enviro-evangalists posing as scientists. This is, after all, hardly the first news report suggesting that for all our fear mongering over carbon output it may be that huge ball of heat, called The Sun, responsible for both Earth and Mars warming (see here or here, for example).

It is nonetheless a fact that carbon tax proponents and other such scheming snake-oil peddlers choose to ignore.

Martian warming may end up exposing these persons for what they truly are: Socialists, by any other name, forcing upon the masses schemes that redistribute money and energy production from developed countries to those developing.

Having found themselves unable to complete with the American economy because of their endless stream of entitlements (see: "free" health care, Euro work weeks, etc.) the Europeans in particular have determined the best way to level the economic playing field is to pull America down to their level.

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The Wall Street Journal editorial board has been all over the attempt by European heavy hitters to replace Paul Wolfowitz with one of their own as president of the World Bank. Their latest editorial (available free here) covers some of the same ground previously known, but it nonetheless bears repeating because of their brazen attempt to use a fabricated scandel to re-acquire power.

Mr. [Ad] Melkert has played an especially craven role by running from his own responsibility in the case. As head of the ethics committee in 2005, he refused to let Mr. Wolfowitz recuse himself from dealings with Shaha Riza, who had been long employed at the bank. Then Mr. Melkert advised him to ensure that Ms. Riza got a new job that included some kind of raise or promotion to compensate for the disruption to her career. Now, however, Mr. Melkert claims he was an innocent bystander who knew nothing about Ms. Riza's raise.

How very European. This is the same Ad Melkert, who on October 24, 2005, after Ms. Riza had been told of her new job and salary, wrote in a letter to Mr. Wolfowitz that "Because the outcome is consistent with the [Ethics] Committee's findings and advice above, the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed."

Read the rest.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- What do you call the largest political rally for tax relief in Minnesota history? A non-story, at least according to the Twin Cities media.

Then again, Minnesota taxpayers probably weren't too surprised. The lead anchor for the CBS television affiliate here as well as the Star Tribune of Minneapolis played up a competing "global warming day of action" rally on the mall, while playing down the much larger tax protest just a few hundred feet north on the Capitol steps.

Indeed, on Saturday, April 14, an estimated 7,000 Minnesotans lined up in St. Paul to protest against run-away government spending and a push to feed it with yet with more tax hikes on the "rich." Former State Senator and now Congresswoman Michelle Bachman told me it was one of the largest rallies -- if not the largest -- she had ever seen at the Capitol.

Not bad. But rather than report that tax protestors far outnumbered a much better financed ( was sending email reminders) Sierra Club event by at least 2-1, local news outlets merely noted the combined totals for both. The local CBS affiliate also posted an Internet story on the global warming get-together using video footage of our anti-tax rally. Under protest, the piece was pulled.

-- Jason Lewis.

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Why Howard Dean Wants to Re-regulate the Media
Conservatives dominate talk radio—but no more thoroughly than liberals dominate Hollywood, academia and much of the mainstream media.

By George F. Will

May 7, 2007 issue - Some illiberal liberals are trying to restore the luridly misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which until 1987 required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to presenting fairly each side of a controversial issue. The government was empowered to decide how many sides there were, how much time was reasonable and what was fair.

By trying to again empower the government to regulate broadcasting, illiberals reveal their lack of confidence in their ability to compete in the marketplace of ideas, and their disdain for consumer sovereignty—and hence for the public.

The illiberals' transparent, and often proclaimed, objective is to silence talk radio. Liberals strenuously and unsuccessfully attempted to compete in that medium—witness the anemia of their Air America. Talk radio barely existed in 1980, when there were fewer than 100 talk shows nationwide. The Fairness Doctrine was scrapped in 1987, and today more than 1,400 stations are entirely devoted to talk formats. Conservatives dominate talk radio—although no more thoroughly than liberals dominate Hollywood, academia and much of the mainstream media.

Beginning in 1927, the government, concerned about the scarcity of radio-spectrum access, began regulating the content of broadcasts. In 1928, it decided that the programming of New York's WEVD, which was owned by the Socialist Party, was not in the public interest. The station's license was renewed after a warning to show "due regard for the opinions of others." What was "due"? Who knew?

In 1929, the government refused the Chicago Federation of Labor's attempt to buy a station because, spectrum space being limited, all stations "should cater to the general public." A decade later, the government conditioned the renewal of a station's license on the station's promise to broadcast no more anti-FDR editorials.

In 1969, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that the Fairness Doctrine violated the First Amendment protection of free speech, saying the doctrine enhanced free speech. The court did not know how the Kennedy administration, anticipating a 1964 race against Barry Goldwater, had wielded the doctrine against stations broadcasting conservative programming. The Democratic Party paid people to monitor conservative broadcasts and coached liberals in how to demand equal time. This campaign burdened stations with litigation costs and won 1,678 hours of free air time.

Bill Ruder, a member of Kennedy's subcabinet, said: "Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters in the hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." The Nixon administration frequently threatened the three networks and individual stations with expensive license challenges under the Fairness Doctrine.

In 1973, Supreme Court justice and liberal icon William Douglas said: "The Fairness Doctrine has no place in our First Amendment regime. It puts the head of the camel inside the tent and enables administration after administration to toy with TV and radio." The Reagan administration scrapped the doctrine because of its chilling effect on controversial speech, and because the scarcity rationale was becoming absurd.

Adam Thierer, writing in the City Journal, notes that today's "media cornucopia" has made America "as information-rich as any society in history." In addition to the Internet's uncountable sources of information, there are 14,000 radio stations—twice as many as in 1970—and satellite radio has nearly 14 million subscribers. Eighty-seven percent of households have either cable or satellite television with more than 500 channels to choose from. There are more than 19,000 magazines (up more than 5,000 since 1993). Thierer says, consider a black lesbian feminist who hunts and likes country music:

"Would the 'mainstream media' of 25 years ago represented any of her interests? Unlikely. Today, though, this woman can program her TiVo to record her favorite shows on Black Entertainment Television, Logo (a gay/lesbian-oriented cable channel), Oxygen (female-targeted programming), the Outdoor Life Network and Country Music Television."

Some of today's illiberals say that media abundance, not scarcity, justifies the Fairness Doctrine: Americans, the poor dears, are bewildered by too many choices. And the plenitude of information sources disperses "the national campfire," the cozy communitarian experience of the good old days (for liberals), when everyone gathered around—and was dependent on—ABC, NBC and CBS.

"I believe we need to re-regulate the media," says Howard Dean. Such illiberals argue that the paucity of liberal successes in today's radio competition—and the success of Fox News—somehow represent "market failure." That is the regularly recurring, all-purpose rationale for government intervention in markets. Market failure is defined as consumers' not buying what liberals are selling.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

"How many more suicide bombs must kill American soldiers before this president offers a timeline for our troops to come home?"
-- Rep. Patrick J. Murphy (D-Pa.)

Actually, a better question is: "How many suicide bombs will kill American citizens back home should capitulating Democrats succeed in pulling American forces from Iraq too soon?"

Enemies see the retreat as weakness, call it the old strong horse/weak horse comment Osama bin Laden made. And no longer fearing our responses and knowing our lack of resolve, they will follow.

Murphy continues:

"How many more military leaders must declare the war will not be won militarily before this president demands that the Iraqis stand up and fight for their country?"
This comment is, what they call in the Queen's English, "Utter crap." No American military leader has ever claimed that the war cannot be "won militarily." Not one. What they have said is that the war in Iraq cannot be won by the military alone, requiring political and economic success as well. Democrats are thus knowingly misrepresenting the military's opinion. And while the military is requesting a three-pronged strategy, the Democrats offer just one: surrender to Islamic terrorists.

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How does one disprove a negative?

The friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman and its entire aftermath is sad, but maybe the saddest thing next to Tillman's death, and the agony of his family, is that it didn't have to be that way. Somehow, our culture, led by our breathless, context-lacking media and over-lawyered society, have redefined friendly-fire, or fratricide, as something to be ashamed of.

Further, one can only conclude that our military and government leaders fortify this silly culture, perhaps due to fear of lawsuit, by treating our population as though they were not rational and mature enough to understand that in war, fratricide happens.

During a foggy morning in the French and Indian War, Col. George Washington's First Virginia Regiment accidentally attacked the Second Virginia Regiment, causing more than 30 casualties.

Thank heavens Col. Washington didn't have to answer to our modern Congress, else he'd have never made president.

One recalls no Southerner demanding Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee confess "what they knew, and when they knew it!" after subordinates accidentally killed their beloved Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. In the Civil War alone author Webb Garrison catalogued 150 instances of friendly fire (long before the era of the cluster bomb).

Friendly fire in the modern era has naturally been far more destructive, such as: Twenty five GIs were killed and 131 wounded when some of 1,800 Allied bombers missed their German targets; or, 318 US GIs gunned down in mid-air by their own troops while parachuting during the 1943 Sicily invasion.

Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War likewise saw their share of friendly-fire.

But here we are today, with Tillman's brother, Kevin, who served with Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, issuing blanket condemnation without a shred of proof towards the full chain of command, from local Afghanistan leaders all the way to the White House.

"It's a little disingenuous to think the administration didn't know," Tillman claimed. Conspiracy mongers and Democrats who care not one iota for the Tillman's plight naturally seized upon those comments for their own agendas. But, if meritlessly accused, how does one disprove a negative?

A professional soldier should know better.

Pat Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004. The US military officially notified the Tillman family that the cause of death was friendly-fire on May 29, 2004, or about a month later.

Is a one month delay to get the facts straight unreasonable? Maybe, maybe not.

And the military is not without blame. U.S. Army Spc. Bryan O'Neal told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday that "I was ordered not to tell him [Tillman's brother]" about Pat Tillman's cause of death.

Thus, there appears, at least in the low levels, to have been an initial attempt to delay or obfuscate the findings. But what I don't understand is why?

Why does the military willingly swallow the poison pill an irresponsible, immature media and combative antiwar crowd serve it?

Why not instead have said, "Pat Tillman was tragically killed in a friendly-fire event yesterday. We honor his service and express our sorrow to his family. While working tirelessly to minimize such occurrences, all should understand that so long as the human element remains in war friendly fire will always be a danger"?

One expects the Tillman family to lash out when in pain. One fully expects the media and many in the Democratic Party to continue to exploit the situation and act like boobs.

One should not expect our military to go along.

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Some critics point to the Gulf War as the nation's darkest fratricide era, claiming that a whopping estimated 23 percent of US casualties were due to friendly fire. But considering that there were only 378 deaths during the Gulf War and even a high school student would conclude that the fratricide statistic is meaningless -- the striking statistic of that war was its incredibly low death count, not a high fratricide rate. Emphasizing the latter is missing the forest for the trees.

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One Choice in Iraq

By Joe Lieberman
Thursday, April 26, 2007; A29

Last week a series of coordinated suicide bombings killed more than 170 people. The victims were not soldiers or government officials but civilians -- innocent men, women and children indiscriminately murdered on their way home from work and school.

If such an atrocity had been perpetrated in the United States, Europe or Israel, our response would surely have been anger at the fanatics responsible and resolve not to surrender to their barbarism.

Unfortunately, because this slaughter took place in Baghdad, the carnage was seized upon as the latest talking point by advocates of withdrawal here in Washington. Rather than condemning the attacks and the terrorists who committed them, critics trumpeted them as proof that Gen. David Petraeus's security strategy has failed and that the war is "lost."

And today, perversely, the Senate is likely to vote on a binding timeline of withdrawal from Iraq.

This reaction is dangerously wrong. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of both the reality in Iraq and the nature of the enemy we are fighting there.

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

This progress is real, but it is still preliminary.

The suicide bombings we see now in Iraq are an attempt to reverse these gains: a deliberate, calculated counteroffensive led foremost by al-Qaeda, the same network of Islamist extremists that perpetrated catastrophic attacks in Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and, yes, New York and Washington.

Indeed, to the extent that last week's bloodshed clarified anything, it is that the battle of Baghdad is increasingly a battle against al-Qaeda. Whether we like it or not, al-Qaeda views the Iraqi capital as a central front of its war against us.

Al-Qaeda's strategy for victory in Iraq is clear. It is trying to kill as many innocent people as possible in the hope of reigniting Shiite sectarian violence and terrorizing the Sunnis into submission.

In other words, just as Petraeus and his troops are working to empower and unite Iraqi moderates by establishing basic security, al-Qaeda is trying to divide and conquer with spectacular acts of butchery.

That is why the suggestion that we can fight al-Qaeda but stay out of Iraq's "civil war" is specious, since the very crux of al-Qaeda's strategy in Iraq has been to try to provoke civil war.

The current wave of suicide bombings in Iraq is also aimed at us here in the United States -- to obscure the recent gains we have made and to convince the American public that our efforts in Iraq are futile and that we should retreat.

When politicians here declare that Iraq is "lost" in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do, although I know that is not their intent.

Even as the American political center falters, the Iraqi political center is holding. In the aftermath of last week's attacks, there were no large-scale reprisals by Shiite militias -- as undoubtedly would have occurred last year. Despite the violence, Iraq's leadership continues to make slow but visible progress toward compromise and reconciliation.

But if tomorrow Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds were to achieve the "political solution" we all hope for, the threat of al-Qaeda in Iraq would not vanish.

Al-Qaeda, after all, isn't carrying out mass murder against civilians in the streets of Baghdad because it wants a more equitable distribution of oil revenue. Its aim in Iraq isn't to get a seat at the political table; it wants to blow up the table -- along with everyone seated at it.

Certainly al-Qaeda can be weakened by isolating it politically. But even after the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree on a shared political vision, there will remain a hardened core of extremists who are dedicated to destroying that vision through horrific violence. These forces cannot be negotiated or reasoned out of existence. They must be defeated.

The challenge before us, then, is whether we respond to al-Qaeda's barbarism by running away, as it hopes we do -- abandoning the future of Iraq, the Middle East and ultimately our own security to the very people responsible for last week's atrocities -- or whether we stand and fight.

To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security -- and that is to stand, and fight, and win.

The writer is an independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.

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Behind high gas prices: The refinery crunch
When gasoline prices surge, a lack of refining capacity is often blamed. What's being done, and is it enough?

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer
April 17 2007: 3:43 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- It's the same story every year.

Each spring, just before the summer driving season, gasoline prices skyrocket. And every year, these four words appear in news reports nationwide as a big reason for the runup: "lack of refining capacity."

Then experts call for more refineries, politicians pledge to make the dirty behemoths easier to build, but guess what? Nothing really happens. Next year, repeat story.

So why hasn't a new refinery been built in the U.S. since 1976?

"There have been calls every year this decade for new refining capacity, yet no new projects initiated," said Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for AAA, the motorist organization. "Refining capacity has not kept pace with demand for gasoline."

In 1995 American drivers burned about 17 million more gallons of gasoline a day than the country produced, according to the government's Energy Information Administration. The difference was made up for by imports.

By 2005, the latest figures available, the gap had widened considerably to about 36 million.

"Consumer demand just continues to grow, and we can't grow as fast at the refining level," said Charlie Drevna, executive vice president at the national Petrochemical and Refiners Association, which includes companies like Valero (Charts), ExxonMobil (Charts), Chevron (Charts), and ConocoPhillips (Charts). "But there are plenty of economic reasons why that hasn't happened."

First off, experts note, gasoline, like any commodity, is subject to big price swings. After all, in the late 1990s it was selling for less than $1 a gallon, hardly an encouraging number if you're a refinery exec looking at making a decades-long, multi-billion dollar investment.

While retail gasoline prices are currently near record highs at just below $3 a gallon, where they might be five years from now is a matter of debate.

Some experts say new investment, in both alternative energy and conventional sources, will boost supply and could cut prices in half. If a global recession hit, the drop could be even more dramatic.

Others say rampant demand, especially in the developing world, will keep prices from going anywhere but up. For an oil executive trying to decide on a refinery investment, picking who's right is a tough call.

Secondly, stringent environmental laws and effective community organizing have made it very difficult to build a new refinery in the U.S.

"Everyone is quick to say "look at these refiners, they're driving up the price,'" said Phil Flynn Flynn, senior market analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "But if I wanted to build a refinery tomorrow, I couldn't do it."

And then there's the public's newfound concern over global warming and its supposed commitment to do something about it. President Bush himself has called for a 20 percent reduction in gasoline use over the next 10 years.

"What refining executive in their right fiscal mind would say, gee, we need to add refining capacity right now," said Drevna at the refiners' association.

While refinery capacity may not be growing as fast as demand, it is growing.

For example, Drevna noted that expansion projects at the nation's existing refineries have had the effect of adding the equivalent of a brand new refinery every year. That increase came despite mandates for cleaner gasoline and diesel fuel, which take longer to make.

And the future looks even brighter.

"There is a tremendous amount of expansion," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, speaking of projects at existing facilities. "We will have a solid increase in North American refining capacity, but not for another two years."

Kloza said much of the expansion would come along the Gulf of Mexico and in the Midwest, an ideal spot to process heavy crude from Canada's emerging oil sand deposits.

The only place that might not see more capacity is the West Coast, said Kloza, where there is little refinery expansion planned, leaving the region more dependent on expensive imports.

Overseas expansion is moving even more quickly, with $300 billion slated for refining projects over the next 20 years in places like India, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

"I think there'll be a concern that the world added too much capacity and refining will go in the dumpster again," said Kloza.

Much of the international capacity will feed surging demand in the developed world. But some will also supply the United States and Europe.

"Partly what's going on here is part of a broader trend in manufacturing, and that is the movement of it offshore," said AAA's Sundstrom. "With it go environmental issues, tax structure, legal liabilities."

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Okay, so I'm being a little lazy tonight. But these last two articles pretty much speak for themselves...

Global warming debate 'irrational': scientists
Stephanie Stein / Standard-Freeholder
Local News - Thursday, April 26, 2007 @ 10:00

The current debate about global warming is "completely irrational," and people need to start taking a different approach, say two Ottawa scientists.

Carleton University science professor Tim Patterson said global warming will not bring about the downfall of life on the planet.

Patterson said much of the up-to-date research indicates that "changes in the brightness of the sun" are almost certainly the primary cause of the warming trend since the end of the "Little Ice Age" in the late 19th century. Human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas of concern in most plans to curb climate change, appear to have little effect on global climate, he said.

"I think the proof in the pudding, based on what (media and governments) are saying, (is) we're about three quarters of the way (to disaster) with the doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere," said Patterson. "The world should be heating up like crazy by now, and it's not. The temperatures match very closely with the solar cycles."

Patterson explained CO2 is not a pollutant, but an essential plant food.

Billions of taxpayers' dollars are spent to control the emissions of this benign gas, in the mistaken belief that they can stop climate change, he said.

"The only constant about climate is change," said Patterson.

Patterson said money could be better spent on places like Africa.

"All the money wasted on Kyoto in a year could provide clean drinking water for Africa," said Patterson. "We're into a new era of science with the discussion of solar forces. Eventually, Kyoto is going to fall by the wayside. In the meantime, I'm worried we're going to spend millions that could have been spent on something better like air pollution."

Tom Harris, executive director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project - an organization that attempts to debunk some of the popular beliefs about climate change - supported Patterson's findings.

Global warming assertions are based on inconclusive evidence put forth in science reports that had not been published yet, he said.

"The media takes (inconclusive) information that only suggests there could be a climate problem and turns it into an environmental catastrophe," said Harris.

"They continually say we only have 10 years left, and they've been saying it for 20 years, and it's ridiculous," he said. "The only reason I got involved in talking to media is that I think our resources are being mismanaged.

"Go after something real and tangible like air pollution."

After hearing a second scientist say climate change is part of a natural cycle, Elaine Kennedy - a local environmental activist - is interested in investigating the issue further.

She looks forward to examining scientific reports that will be published in a couple of months by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"The problem may not be climate change, but the problem is still pollution," said Kennedy.

She's not alone in her assertion global warming is a pollution problem.

David Phillips, a senior government environment expert, believes there is more than one contributing factor to global warming. There's a human element, as well as natural cycles.

Difficult to convince

"I'm a man that's difficult to convince," he said. "What convinces me is the large body of evidence, and highly reputable people promoting global warming, who are not lobbyists, but only seeking truth in science. They say the the earth is warming up faster and greater now than in the past."

People who are contradicting the global warming reality, Phillip thinks, have their own motives for doing so.

"These skeptics are keeping the debate alive (for their own interests). They try to confuse people into inaction," said Phillips.

Phillips believes global warming is solvable.

"We solved the ozone and acid rain problem. With effort, and a new way of doing things we could solve this one too," said Phillips.

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It's all about bucks, not science.

Industry caught in carbon 'smokescreen'
By Fiona Harvey and Stephen Fidler in London

Published: April 25 2007 22:07 Last updated: April 25 2007 22:07

Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on "carbon credit" projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.

A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.

Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a "green gold rush", which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go "carbon neutral", offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming.

The burgeoning regulated market for carbon credits is expected to more than double in size to about $68.2bn by 2010, with the unregulated voluntary sector rising to $4bn in the same period.

The FT investigation found:

¦ Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

¦ Industrial companies profiting from doing very little – or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

¦ Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

¦ A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

¦ Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

Francis Sullivan, environment adviser at HSBC, the UK's biggest bank that went carbon-neutral in 2005, said he found "serious credibility concerns" in the offsetting market after evaluating it for several months.

"The police, the fraud squad and trading standards need to be looking into this. Otherwise people will lose faith in it," he said.

These concerns led the bank to ignore the market and fund its own carbon reduction projects directly.

Some companies are benefiting by asking "green" consumers to pay them for cleaning up their own pollution. For instance, DuPont, the chemicals company, invites consumers to pay $4 to eliminate a tonne of carbon dioxide from its plant in Kentucky that produces a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23. But the equipment required to reduce such gases is relatively cheap. DuPont refused to comment and declined to specify its earnings from the project, saying it was at too early a stage to discuss.

The FT has also found examples of companies setting up as carbon offsetters without appearing to have a clear idea of how the markets operate. In response to FT inquiries about its sourcing of carbon credits, one company,, said it had not taken payments for offsets.

Blue Source, a US offsetting company, invites consumers to offset carbon emissions by investing in enhanced oil recovery, which pumps carbon dioxide into depleted oil wells to bring up the remaining oil. However, Blue Source said that because of the high price of oil, this process was often profitable in itself, meaning operators were making extra revenues from selling "carbon credits" for burying the carbon.

There is nothing illegal in these practices. However, some companies that are offsetting their emissions have avoided such projects because customers may find them controversial.

BP said it would not buy credits resulting from improvements in industrial efficiency or from most renewable energy projects in developed countries.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Doggone, I wish I could write this good.

The Will of the Uninformed
Democracy in America.

By Jonah Goldberg

Huge numbers of Americans don't know jack about their government or politics. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, 31 percent of Americans don't know who the vice president is, fewer than half are aware that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker of the House, a mere 29 percent can identify "Scooter" Libby as the convicted former chief of staff of the vice president, and only 15 percent can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader.

And yet, last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's firing of eight U.S. attorneys was "politically motivated."

So, we are supposed to believe that two-thirds of Americans have studied the details of the U.S. attorney firings and come to an informed conclusion that they were politically motivated — even when Senate Democrats agree that there is no actual evidence that Gonzales did anything improper. Are these the same people who couldn't pick Pelosi out of a lineup? Or the 85 percent who couldn't name the Senate majority leader? Are we to imagine that the 31 percent of the electorate who still — after seven years of headlines and demonization — can't identify the vice president of the United States nonetheless have a studied opinion on the firing of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias?

Oh, before we proceed, let me make clear: This isn't a column defending Gonzales. This administration should have long ago sent him out of the bunker for a coffee-and-doughnut run and then changed the locks. No, this is a column about how confused and at times idiotic the United States is about polls, public opinion and, well, democracy itself. We all love to tout the glories of democracy and denounce politicians who just follow the polls. Well, guess which politicians follow the polls? The popular ones, that's who. And guess why: Because the popular ones get elected. Bucking public opinion is the quickest way for a politician to expedite his or her transition to the private sector.

More to the point, Americans — God bless 'em — are often quite ignorant about the stuff politicians and pundits think matters most. They may know piles about their own professions, hobbies, and personal interests, but when it comes to basic civics, they get their clocks cleaned on Fox's Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Though examples are depressingly unnecessary, here are two of my favorites over the years. In 1987, 45 percent of adult respondents to one survey answered that the phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was in the Constitution (in fact, it's a quote from Karl Marx). Then, in 1991, an American Bar Association study reported that a third of Americans did not know what the Bill of Rights was.

That the public mood is a poor compass for guiding the ship of state is an old lament. Here are two reasons why.

The first has to do with the laziness, spinelessness, and vanity of political elites. Citing polls as proof you're on the right side of an argument is often a symptom of intellectual cowardice. If the crowd says two plus two equals seven, that's no reason to invoke the authority of the crowd. But pundits and pols know that if they align themselves with the latest Gallup findings, they don't have to defend their position on the merits because "the people" are always right. Such is the seductiveness of populism. It means never being wrong. "The people of Nebraska are for free silver, and I am for free silver," proclaimed William Jennings Bryan. "I will look up the arguments later."

Which brings us to ideology. The days when politicians would actually defend small-r republicanism are gone. The answer to every problem in our democracy seems to be more democracy, as if any alternative spells more tyranny. Indeed, once more the "forces of progress" are trying to destroy the Electoral College in the name of democracy. Their beachhead is Maryland, which was the first to approve an interstate compact promising its electors to whichever presidential candidate wins the national popular vote.

If these progressives have their way, we'll soon see candidates ignoring small states and rural areas entirely because democracy means going where the votes are. The old notion that this is a republic in which minority communities have a say will suffer perhaps the final, fatal blow.

But that's O.K., because 70 percent of Americans say they're for getting rid of the Electoral College. And Lord knows, they must be right.

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It's not everyday that a member of the administration issues a concise and effective retort to their critics, especially on Iraq. But yesterday VP Dick Cheney did just that in response to Senate Majority Democrat Harry Reid, who a few days ago said the Iraq War was was "lost." His statement was so stupid and counter-productive to troop morale that even some Democrats are nervous that they've lost advantage.

By the way, if you haven't ventured on to Michelle Malkin's blog, lately, do so. She "invited" troops serving in Iraq to email her with reponses to Reid, which she in turn posted on her site. They are to say the least, not complimentary of Reid and the Capitulation Party ( i.e., Democrats). Ditto, soldiers have been Emailing the Pat Dollard site, instantly turned famous from obscurity due to Reid, similarly criticizing those who would pull the carpet out from under our soldier's feet.

Here's Cheney:

So in less than six months time, Senator [Harry] Reid [Nevada, D] has gone from pledging full funding for the military, then full funding with conditions, and then a cutoff of funding. Three positions in five months on the most important foreign policy question facing the nation and our troops.

Yesterday, Senator Reid said the troop surge was against the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. That is plainly false. The Iraq Study Group report was explicitly favorable toward a troop surge to secure Baghdad.

Senator Reid said there should be a regional conference on Iraq. Apparently he doesn't know that there is going to be one next week.

Senator Reid said he doesn't have real substantive meetings with the president. Yet immediately following last week's meeting at the White House, he said it was a good exchange, "Everyone voiced their considered opinion about the war in Iraq," end quote.

What's most troubling about Senator Reid's comments yesterday is his defeatism. Indeed, last week he said the war is already lost. And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat.

Maybe it's a political calculation. Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election.

It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party.

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[Washington Post] Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday that he is considering an executive order to make sure that gun sellers have more information about the mental health of potential buyers, a move that would have kept Seung Hui Cho from purchasing the handguns he used to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech last week.

A court had found Cho to be dangerously mentally ill, but that information was not available in the computer systems used by the outlets that sold Cho the guns. Kaine's proposal would ensure that such mental health information be in the database.

Because Cho had voluntarily introduced himself to therapy, rather than it being court ordered, he was exempt from a law that would have prohibited him to legally purchase a firearm. (Although, again, it begs the question if one willing to murder 32 people wouldn't have simply found a way to illegally purchase a firearm).

I'm not against closing the loophole that allowed Cho's access, and most reasonable people wouldn't be, but it's legally convoluted and nonetheless interesting that Democrats are all for protecting privacy and medical records (see: HIPPA) except when it comes to opposing something they like even less - such as the 2nd Amendment, or say, attacking Rush Limbaugh by trolling for an alleged but never charged crime. Then it's just fine to thumb through someone's private records.

Got that? To recap: allowing the government to search the medical records of al Qaeda suspects: bad. Allowing the government to search the medical records of someone either purchasing a gun or hosting a conservative talk-radio show: okay.

Everyone's clear now, right?

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose tenure at Foggy Bottom began with such energy and fine language about support for freedom in the Middle East, is begging the Iranian foreign minister to come to a "future of Iraq" conference in Egypt next week. She told the Financial Times that it would be a "missed opportunity" if Minister Mottaki didn't show up.

In the same interview, she denied ever thinking about regime change in Iran. Our Iran policy, according to the secretary, is to "have a change in regime behavior." Some day she will perhaps explain how any rational person can believe this cast of characters capable of changing behavior that has been constant for 28 years.

We are back to the days when Madeleine Albright went to international meetings hoping to get a one-on-one with an Iranian minister so she could apologize for past American sins and get on with the glorious business of striking a grand bargain with the mullahs. When that didn't work, President Clinton did the public apology, and his administration trotted out a number of unilateral concessions. His vice president even made a secret deal with the Russians permitting them to sell weapons and supply expertise for the Iranian nuclear program. All for naught; the mullahs spat in our face and continued as before.

Read the whole piece by Michael Ledeen. It seems that our once tough national security advisor has become just another state department bureaucrat unable to learn from the past. As Ledeen points out, every president since Jimmy Carter has attempted to coddle the Iranians, hoping for a diplomatic breakthrough (even tough-minded Reagan was guilty of this), and every single time the Iranians have outright denied or double-crossed the attempt. One must conclude that after so many failed tries it can only be arrogance of the Western bureaucrat to conclude that this time the outcome will be different.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Las Vegas reserves disagree with Reid

"We're not losing this war."

That's how a Las Vegas Army Reserve sergeant and Iraq war veteran who is heading out again for Operation Iraqi Freedom reacted Friday to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's assessment that the war in Iraq is "lost."

"I don't believe the war is lost," Sgt. George Turkovich, 24, said as he stood with other soldiers near a shipping container that had been packed for their deployment to Kuwait.

The soldiers leave today for a six-week training stint at Camp Atterbury, Ind., before heading overseas to run a camp in support of the war effort. It is uncertain if their yearlong tour will take them to Iraq.

"Unfortunately, politics has taken a huge role in this war affecting our rules of engagement," said Turkovich, a 2001 Palo Verde High School graduate. "This is a guerrilla war that we're fighting, and they're going to tie our hands.

"So it does make it a lot harder for us to fight the enemy, but we're not losing this war," he said.

For the most part, the 50-plus soldiers from a detachment of the Army Reserve's 314th Combat Service Support Battalion expressed similar views about Reid's war-is-lost comments this week. They respectfully disagreed with the Democrat.

All volunteers, they were upbeat and excited about the deployment. Some said they were nervous and were trying not to dwell on leaving their families for a year.

Spc. Marvin Castillo, 31, said he hoped to be back next year in time for his son's second birthday in June.

"It's very hard," he said. "The best thing to do is not think about it."

Pfc. Joshua Nance, 18, said he feels Las Vegas supports the troops going to Iraq. "As far as everybody I've ever run into, yes, they support us. Absolutely."

Reid tried to persuade President Bush this week to "bring this war to a responsible end." But Bush said he would veto war funding legislation because it is tied to a Sept. 1, 2008, deadline for troops to withdraw.

While the soldiers discussed their views on the war at the Army Reserve facility on East Sahara Avenue, Reid, the senate majority leader, delivered a speech on the Senate floor, responding to criticism from Bush.

"The partisans who launched attacks on my comments are the same ones who continue to support a failed strategy that hurts our troops," Reid said.

He noted earlier that "no one wants us to succeed in Iraq more than the Democrats."

"We've proven that time and time again since this war started more than four years ago," Reid said. "We take a back seat to no one in supporting our troops, and we will never abandon our troops in a time of war."

In the eyes of Turkovich, who served as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division for seven months each in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mission is nearing completion but is not over yet.

"Our mission statement when we first went into Iraq was to get Saddam out of power and stand up a new government and a new army," Turkovich said.

"We've gone in there. Saddam is now out of power, and we've stood up a new army and we've stood up a new government," he said. "Now we're just kind of the crutch, nursing it along for right now, and hopefully they'll be able to get off those training wheels soon and they'll be able to stand for themselves."

The 314th's stateside commander, Lt. Col. Steven Cox, said the political controversy swirling around the war "does weigh upon us because the representatives are supposed to represent American sentiments."

"I find it exceedingly difficult to believe that the American people would leave their military dangling in the wind the way the good senator is doing," Cox said.

"Defeatism ... from our elected officials does not serve us well in the field," he said. "They embolden the enemy, and they actually leave them with the feeling that they can defeat us and win this.

"All they have to do is wait us out because the American resolve is waning," he said.

Cox said he's "not sure the senator accurately echoes the people he represents. ... I believe his tactics are more of shock in trying to sway public opinion. He may have spoken out of turn."

The lieutenant colonel, who experienced firsthand the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, said the military "never sets timelines. If we establish a timeline, all the enemy has to do is make us miss that timeline, and they can claim victory regardless of the outcome from there."

Reid was unavailable late Friday to respond to the soldiers' views.

In an e-mail, Reid spokesman Jon Summers wrote that the senator "has the greatest respect for our troops and is grateful for their service."

"He understands the sacrifices they make and the effects felt by their families when they are called to serve overseas," Summers said.

"That is why he believes we owe it to them to give them all the resources they need and provide them with a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifices," he wrote. "Military generals, the American public, and a bipartisan majority of Congress all agree that to stay the course of the president's failed strategy fails our troops and will not lead to success in Iraq."

Lt. Col. John Blankenbaker, the unit's overseas commander, said: "You want to be successful and do the mission that we will be given. And you want to make sure that we do it safely and bring all the soldiers back."


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The fellas at have a great satire of the defeatist Democrats, and sadly the humor is about as close to reality as it can get.

April 20, 2007
Reid Supports the Troops Who Lost the War
by Scott Ott

(2007-04-20) — Attempting to clarify yesterday's statement that the war in Iraq is "lost", Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he "supports the troops who lost the war."

In an audiotape recorded from an undisclosed location and released through Al-Jazeera TV, Sen. Reid said, "The troops who lost the war should hold their heads high, because not everyone can be a winner, and they gave it a good try."

CIA analysis of the tape indicates the voice is "almost certainly" Sen. Reid's and that references to recent events show that the Democrat leader may still be at large, in good health and "substantially in charge" of his network of Democrat senators.

On the tape, Sen. Reid also said, "It's not the fault of our troops that they represent an evil regime, or that they wear the uniform of the nation viewed by many as 'the Great Satan.'"

The Nevada Democrat said he looks forward to welcoming the troops home, so that many of them can "lay down their weapons and return to the world of decent and honorable work."

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If you're unfamiliar with the hack job being directed at World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, you can catch up here. But as Bret Stephens demonstrates in his latest column, Wolfowitz's true outrage - at least for Europe - is that he was a Bush apointee. How else do you explain that the European bloc protects the vice president of the European Commission in Brussels, Günter Verheugen, even though he's actually committed acts of scandel?

[Wall Street Journal] In April, Mr. Verheugen, a former German parliamentarian for the Social Democrats, appointed economist Petra Erler as his chief of staff. In August, the couple was spotted au naturel on a Baltic shore. Mr. Verheugen--who also has a wife--has dismissed allegations of impropriety as "pure slander" and asked the German newsweekly Der Spiegel whether "two adults [can't] do as they wish in their private lives?"

In fact, they can't: The EU Commission's Code of Conduct, which he helped draft, observes that "in their official and private lives Commissioners should behave in a manner that is in keeping with the dignity of their office. Ruling out all risks of a conflict of interest helps guarantee their independence."

...But aside from the facts that Mr. Wolfowitz is unmarried and prefers his clothes on, the substance of the cases could not be more different. Mr. Verheugen seems to have obscured the nature of his relationship with Ms. Erler; Mr. Wolfowitz acknowledged his relationship with Shaha Riza before he took the job as Bank president. Mr. Verheugen sought to use the power of his office to bring Ms. Erler nearer to him; Mr. Wolfowitz sought to use the power of his to move Ms. Riza away. Ms. Erler moved into a better job; Ms. Riza was forced into a lesser one. Mr. Verheugen ignored his own code of conduct; Mr. Wolfowitz followed the instructions of his ethics committee, whose chairman later praised him for acting in a "constructive spirit."

What the Wolfowitz scandal comes down to, then, is that he gave Ms. Riza a fat raise after the Bank's board agreed that she deserved compensation for losing her job.

Thus Wolfowitz's true crime? He's a conservative.

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Five years ago, as my colleagues got ready to pass BCRA [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002], I warned them that three things would result: that rather than reduce the influence of money on politics, they'd drive it further underground; that advocacy groups would be blocked from speaking even on issues unrelated to elections; and that a deadline on issue ads would only lead to campaigns starting earlier, with a greater premium on early fund raising. All three predictions have come true, from the influence of 527s on the last presidential campaign, to the case before the Supreme Court, to primary campaigns 23 months ahead of the next presidential election.
-- Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, Ky), commenting on the folly that is the John McCain/Russ Feingold campaign "reform" law.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just so there are no misunderstandings with these "Fighting Back" posts from the past few days, I am certainly not suggesting that any students who were able to escape - such as those who were told to flee by the Israeli teacher barring the door - were in any way acting cowardly, etc.

That would be a silly and hollow charge for someone to make.

Cho had semi-automatic weapons (with a minimum 15 shots in the Glock alone, per clip). Five grown men could have bum rushed Cho and been unsuccessful (or perhaps so, but that's not the point). We have no idea as to how long Cho had been practicing his shooting. For all we know he may have been an excellent marksman.

There are some reports - I don't know whether confirmed or not - whereby Cho may have ordered several students into a line, facing a wall, for execution. In those circumstances where the student has no chance to escape we have to teach our youth to fight back. Perhaps some tried. We may never know.

But this is about mentality and conditioning. The three of four hijacked planes on 9-11 weren't filled with those to afraid to act. It's simply that the passengers in the fourth plane, United FLT 93, had enough time to gather their wits, realize they had no alternatives and organize a plan. I don't know about you but since that day I haven't boarded an airplane without first studying the faces around me, saying a quick prayer for safety, and thinking to myself what I would do should hijackers appear. One has to at least be prepared so they have an inkling of ideas regarding fight versus flight.

Going forward, as the NBC article a few posts below (yesterday) states, people should try to learn from this terror, whether in an office building or school yard, and condition themselves as to what to do the next time, if the next time be thrust upon them.

And sadly, there's going to be a next time.

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"You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today. But you decided to spill my blood. You forced me into a corner and gave me only one option. The decision was yours. Now you have blood on your hands that will never wash off."
-- Cho Seung-Hui, whiney punk and murderer of 32 persons with far more promising futures than this loser.

An FBI profiler told Bill Bennett's morning show today that Cho was most likely clinically psychotic. No doubt. But boy, listening to Cho's "multimedia manifesto" he sounds just like Osama bin Laden or any other run of the mill, chip on the shoulder, crybaby, self-pitying Islamiwacko terrorist attempting to excuse mass murder.

Curiosities about the "Ishmael Ax" tattoo and war alias aside, such as Jerry Bower's opinion below, it's improbable that Cho was himself an Islamic guided terrorist, although perhaps a closet sympathizer.

But either way it certainly sounds as though he took a page out of militant Islam's "lack of personal responsibility" murder-propaganda playbook.




Jerry Bower wonders if any of us learned anything during Sunday school.

First it was Johnny Muhammad, now it was Cho Sueng Hui aka Ismail Ax. Precisely how many mass shooters have to turn out to have adopted Muslim names before we get it?

...This morning I read that the Virginia Tech shooter died with the name Ismail Ax written in red ink on his arm. The mainstream press doesn't seem to have a clue as to what this might mean. To quote Indiana Jones, "Didn't any of you guys go to Sunday School?"

...In the 7th Century, Muhammad, the founder of Islam, re-wrote the story, claiming that Ismail was the true faithful descendant of Abraham and that it was he, not Isaac, who God told Abraham to sacrifice. Ismail was the one saved. For Muslims, Ismail (not Isaac) was the true 'Son of Sacrifice.' In the original version of the story, Abraham used a knife, in some of the later Muslim versions, he used an Ax.

Flash forward 1,400 years: a sullen, angry young man who rages against rich people and apparently against Christians, writes a play in which a mother and son try to kill his step-father, but in the end the boy (age about 13, the age many think Ismail was when he was exiled) is murdered by the step-father with 'a deadly blow'. Father issues? Yeah, I think so.

Cho Sueng-hui cum Ismail Ax hated the American society to which he had been brought 15 years earlier. His play McBeef (a poor pun from an English Lit major on Macbeth) is one endless screed against the corruption of American culture. A cheesy re-telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, it involves a young man abused by his step-father, a former NFL football player. The son, throws epithets at his father calling him a 'Catholic priest'. And makes derisive comments about McDonalds. It seems that none of the foundational structures of Western Civilization, Christianity, capitalism, family, are spared his rage. In other words, he really meant what he said in his last words: "you (that is us, America) made me do this."




Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That's up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass 55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President's Reagan's move to scale back the size of government.

That two-decade shrink-the-government trend now appears over, if for no other reason than demographics. The aging baby-boomer generation is poised to receive big payments from Social Security and government healthcare programs.

-- Christian Science Monitor

Sheesh, how can I get on such a gravy train?

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One of the stories you may not have seen this week, for obvious reasons, is nonetheless one you should know. I held this for a few days because it seemed trite. But onward the blogging goes...

Once you know the relevant facts behind the fracas surrounding World Bank President and former Bush aide Paul Wolfowitz, one can only conclude that he was set up by members of the World Bank to fail. Furthermore, as recent articles in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal demonstrate, one can only conclude that the media is - once again - being selectively but purposely negligent in its reporting duties.

Here's what the mainstream media has emphasized: Wolfowitz ordered that his girlfriend who worked at the bank, Shaha Riza, be given a raise of about $60,000.

Sounds bad, right? Well, most media reports don't mention that 1) the World Bank ethics board refused Wolfowitz's attempt to recuse himself, 2) that they created the terms of Riza's pay increase (because as Wolfowitz's girlfriend she would no longer be eligible for promotions), and 3) most galling of all, the ethics board informed Wolfowitz that he had to directly order the pay raise since the board had no such authority.

The articles that do mention any of these facts minimize those facts by burying them in the story (The WaPost placement: paragraph 13 of 15).

"I'm amazed that the ethics committee had a lot of views, but then stepped back from their implementation," said Ruth Wedgwood, a professor of international law at Johns Hopkins University. Turning the matter over to Wolfowitz to resolve in the first place, she noted, was "sort of oxymoronic: 'You can't recuse yourself enough to suit us, but we want you to be formally in the chain of command to resolve this.' "
Nothing personal to professor Wedgwood, but an international law professor shouldn't be so naive. This is politics, and Wolfowitz, in attempting to add transparency and accountability to the World Bank, is targeted by the 'status quo' enemies.

One expects bureaucrats to be slimy. But what of reporters and editors? Here's a Wall Street Journal headline: "Wolfowitz Memo, Dictating Raises Given to Friend, Now Haunts Him." Oh really? But no mention that the World Bank's own "Ethics Board" - and what an oxymoron - instructed Wolfowitz to dictate said raise!

Fortunately, that paper's editorial board bothered to concentrate on the most relevant angles:

The paper trail shows that Mr. Wolfowitz had asked to recuse himself from matters related to his girlfriend, a long time World Bank employee, before he signed his own employment contract. The bank's general counsel at the time, Roberto Danino, wrote in a May 27, 2005 letter to Mr. Wolfowitz's lawyers:

"First, I would like to acknowledge that Mr. Wolfowitz has disclosed to the Board, through you, that he has a pre-existing relationship with a Bank staff member, and that he proposes to resolve the conflict of interest in relation to Staff Rule 3.01, Paragraph 4.02 by recusing himself from all personnel matters and professional contact related to the staff member." (Our emphasis here and elsewhere.)

That would have settled the matter at any rational institution, given that his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, worked four reporting layers below the president in the bank hierarchy. But the bank board -- composed of representatives from donor nations -- decided to set up an ethics committee to investigate. And it was the ethics committee that concluded that Ms. Riza's job entailed a "de facto conflict of interest" that could only be resolved by her leaving the bank.

Ms. Riza was on a promotion list at the time, and so the bank's ethicists also proposed that she be compensated for this blow to her career. In a July 22, 2005 ethics committee discussion memo, Mr. Danino noted that "There would be two avenues here for promotion -- an 'in situ' promotion to Grade GH for the staff member" and promotion through competitive selection to another position." Or, as an alternative, "The Bank can also decide, as part of settlement of claims, to offer an ad hoc salary increase."

Five days later, on July 27, ethics committee chairman Ad Melkert formally advised Mr. Wolfowitz in a memo that "the potential disruption of the staff member's career prospect will be recognized by an in situ promotion on the basis of her qualifying record . . ." In the same memo, Mr. Melkert recommends "That the President, with the General Counsel, communicates this advice" to the vice president for human resources "so as to implement" it immediately.

And in an August 8 letter, Mr. Melkert advised that the president get this done pronto: "The EC [ethics committee] cannot interact directly with staff member situations, hence Xavier [Coll, the human resources vice president] should act upon your instruction." Only then did Mr. Wolfowitz instruct Mr. Coll on the details of Ms. Riza's new job and pay raise.

Needless to say, none of this context has appeared in the media smears suggesting that Mr. Wolfowitz pulled a fast one to pad the pay of Ms. Riza. Yet the record clearly shows he acted only after he had tried to recuse himself but then wasn't allowed to do so by the ethics committee. And he acted only after that same committee advised him to compensate Ms. Riza for the damage to her career from a "conflict of interest" that was no fault of her own.

Based on this paper trail, Mr. Wolfowitz's only real mistake was in assuming that everyone else was acting in good faith. Yet when some of these details leaked to the media, nearly everyone else at the bank dodged responsibility and let Mr. Wolfowitz twist in the wind. Mr. Melkert, a Dutch politician now at the U.N., seems to have played an especially cowardly role.

In an October 24, 2005 letter to Mr. Wolfowitz, he averred that "Because the outcome is consistent with the Committee's findings and advice above, the Committee concurs with your view that this matter can be treated as closed." A month later, on November 25, Mr. Melkert even sent Mr. Wolfowitz a personal, hand-written note saying, "I would like to thank you for the very open and constructive spirit of our discussions, knowing in particular the sensitivity to Shaha, who I hope will be happy in her new assignment."

And when anonymous World Bank staffers began to circulate emails making nasty allegations about Ms. Shaha's job transfer and pay in early 2006, Mr. Melkert dismissed them in a letter to Mr. Wolfowitz on February 28, 2006 because they "did not contain new information warranting any further review by the Committee." Yet amid the recent media smears, Mr. Melkert has minimized his own crucial role.

All of this is so unfair that Mr. Wolfowitz could be forgiven for concluding that bank officials insisted he play a role in raising Ms. Riza's pay precisely so they could use it against him later. Even if that isn't true, it's clear that his enemies -- especially Europeans who want the bank presidency to go to one of their own -- are now using this to force him out of the bank. They especially dislike his anticorruption campaign, as do his opponents in the staff union and such elites of the global poverty industry as Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development. They prefer the status quo that holds them accountable only for how much money they lend, not how much they actually help the poor.

Equally cynical has been the press corps, which slurred Mr. Wolfowitz with selective reporting and now says, in straight-faced solemnity, that the president must leave the bank because his "credibility" has been damaged. Paul Wolfowitz, meet the Duke lacrosse team.

The only way this fiasco could get any worse would be for Mr. Wolfowitz to resign in the teeth of so much dishonesty and cravenness. We're glad the Bush Administration isn't falling for this Euro-bureaucracy-media putsch. Mr. Wolfowitz has apologized for any mistakes he's made, though we're not sure why. He's the one who deserves an apology.

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Hollywood Interrogates Al Qaeda
April 18, 2007; Page A16

CBS's hit series "Criminal Minds" recently aired an episode entitled "Lessons Learned," where FBI agents traveled to Guantanamo Bay and coaxed a confession from a known terrorist detainee that led to the prevention of an anthrax attack on a Northern Virginia shopping mall. The point of the story was that the regular interrogation tactics (pictured as brutal assaults on the prisoner) were not working, and that the military should adopt the enlightened methods of the crack interrogators from "Criminal Minds."

Having served as an Army Judge Advocate General's Corps officer in Gitmo, a legal adviser to criminal investigators pursuing leads in the war on terror, and a Military Commissions prosecutor, I have first-hand knowledge and experience about what happens there. And here is the ironic truth: The military has outlawed some of the "Criminal Minds" interrogators' tactics -- in response to pressure by the international community.

On TV, an analyst observed the detainee's behavior from an adjoining room behind two-way glass for revealing body movements and language. Subtle movements and body language signaled which statements were true and which were false, leading to a breakthrough that saved lives. In reality, when such a tactic was used at Gitmo the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called it "torture." Gitmo authorities used to employ Behavior Science Consultation Teams (BSCTs, pronounced "biscuits"), trained psychologists/psychiatrists who did exactly what the TV analyst did: used psychology to help interrogators learn the truth. But the ICRC considered their role in planning and assisting with interrogations "a flagrant violation of medical ethics." The military responded by curtailing the role of BSCTs.

On TV, CIA and FBI interrogators used the detainee's religion to gain leverage. The CIA interrogators refused to allow the detainee to pray; then the FBI allowed the prayers but adjusted them to manipulate the detainee's sense of time. Because of the manipulation, the detainee admitted responsibility for an attack that he incorrectly believed had already occurred, allowing the attack to be thwarted. In reality, the U.S. does not manipulate detainee's religious practices. In Gitmo, everything stops, including interrogations, so detainees can pray. The Islamic call to prayer is broadcast, several times a day, over loudspeakers. Everyone in and around the detention camp is forced to listen.

On TV, the interrogators give the detainee a prayer mat and point out the direction to Mecca to win his gratitude. In reality, the U.S. gives religious items such as prayer mats, prayer caps, prayer oil, prayer beads and Qurans to all detainees. They don't need anyone to point out the direction of Mecca because the U.S. paints black arrows on the ground pointing toward Mecca in every cell and around the camp.

In fact, at Camp Bucca, a U.S.-run detention camp in Iraq, the U.S. erected a tent as a makeshift mosque and designated it off-limits to prison guards so that detainees could pray in solitude. The detainees used their privacy to turn the "mosque" into a weapons cache, and then attacked the prison guards. This led to a battle for control of the camp that lasted four days.

Despite the debacle at Camp Bucca, the military still designates some items (such as the Quran) as "off-limits" to prison guards, even though detainees misuse the Quran to conceal illegal contraband, including prescription pills. U.S. forces in Gitmo go to these great lengths despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions provide for POWs to practice their religion only "on condition that they comply with the disciplinary routine prescribed by military authorities."

On "Criminal Minds," the detainee glanced toward bottles of water lining a table, and said, "They line it up to show what I cannot have." In reality, detainees at Gitmo receive ample food and water, including Halal meals and imported seasonal fruits and nuts from their native countries for special occasions.

While the crime show's creators must resort to fiction to depict interrogations, they don't have to fictionalize the contempt that most detainees show for Americans. Hollywood gets that part right. On TV, the fictional detainee said of killing innocent Americans: "There is no such thing, they were infidels . . . they hurt me by existing! The infidels will fall at the hands of the righteous, and that is when the jihad will end."

In reality, according to Gitmo's Web site, one detainee said, "The people who died on 9/11/2001 were not innocent . . . my group will shake up the U.S. and the countries who follow the U.S." Another told military police officers that he would "come to their homes and cut their throats like sheep." Yet another detainee threatened, "I will arrange for the kidnapping and execution of U.S. citizens living in Saudi Arabia. Small groups of four of five U.S. citizens will be kidnapped, held and executed. They will have their heads cut off." These real statements make one thing clear: life in Gitmo has not broken the detainees' spirits.

Hollywood sets unrealistic expectations for many things. The "Criminal Minds" episode represents one instance where truth is tamer, and many would argue stranger, than fiction.

Ms. Rotunda teaches at George Mason School of Law and is director of the law school's clinic that provides pro bono legal assistance to military families. She is currently writing a book about legal issues in the war on terror

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In 1993, Ted Danson appeared at a Friars Club "roast" of his then-girlfriend Whoopi Goldberg. In a now infamous, and infamously unfunny, routine, Danson spewed a string of tasteless and racist jokes, peppering every sentence with the N-word. And Danson did this whole monologue in blackface.

Whoopi defended Danson's act by telling everybody to lighten up, it was all in good fun. Heck, she'd helped write Ted's material.

Fast-forward to 2007. Don Imus, as you may have heard, called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" and other racially offensive things. In response, Goldberg said that Imus's comments "pissed me off." "Firing isn't the issue," she explained. "He didn't do anything illegal. Just morally reprehensible." It is unknown whether those in the room ducked for cover lest they be struck dead along with Goldberg by a divine, hypocrisy-punishing lightning bolt.

-- Jonah Goldberg (subscription required)



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Just as the passengers of United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, taught all future travelers that the time may come where they must fight back in the face of death, I think the Virginia Tech shootings will serve as a watershed moment for our youth (and even for those in the corporate atmosphere who also are occasionally victims of the crazed gunman) to demonstrate that the rules have changed and in the end one can only rely on themselves to fight for their own life.

True, it is so much easier said than done. I pray I never must know just how much so. But in the face of incomprehensible horror one must summon all their inner courage to even have a chance to survive.

It's nice to see some of the mainstream media understand and relate this notion:

Schools need to teach students to be aggressive
Security analyst tells TODAY how schools should prepare for attacks
By Mike Celizic contributor
Updated: 12:05 p.m. ET April 18, 2007

Cowering under a desk and waiting for help to come is no longer an option. American schools must teach their students to respond aggressively to attacks by people bent on mayhem.

"I would hope that the administrators and folks that are making the decisions would understand that it’s difficult to negotiate with a bullet," security consultant Allen Hill told TODAY. "A person that comes into your facility with a gun intends to kill and do you harm."

The founder of Response Options, a Texas-based security company, said, "Get past this paralysis of fear over liability issues. Our country is so litigious and concerned about doing the wrong thing and about doing the politically correct thing that we don’t do anything."

That only helps people like Cho Seung Hui. "The bad guys are counting on Americans to sit still and do nothing," Hill said.

Students and others need to realize that they do have options, Hill said.

The "bad guys" plan their attacks. Schools need to plan and rehearse their defenses and responses just as aggressively.

"The training should be just as intense and be taken just as seriously as the bad guy takes their mission to kill," he said.

At Virginia Tech, Cho Seung Hui walked into classrooms and simply shot people. There are reports that he even lined up victims to shoot them one by one. But in one Norris Hall classroom, student Zach Petkewicz led his classmates in barricading the door, saving all inside.

Petkewicz’ response was instinctive, prompted by "adrenaline and fear."

Hill’s company teaches acting from knowledge and a well-rehearsed plan.

"Once the bad guy’s inside, how hard is it to hit a non-moving target?" Hill observed.

"Get up and move," he advised. "Do whatever it takes to create chaos and mayhem. Disrupt them. Make them go into a protective mode themselves. We feel that we can become actively aggressive for our own benefit, whether that’s actively running out of the classroom, having to face the gunman and take him down, breaking out windows and escaping that way."

You can’t wait for something to happen and then try to form a response, he said. It’s got to be done in advance.

Security systems are passive, he said. But those under attack can be active.

Said Hill: "There are things that you can do to take the initiative away from the bad guy, to disrupt their plan and to create a situation that’s winnable for you."

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The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
-- Thomas Jefferson

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In February of this year a young man walked past the sign prohibiting him from carrying a gun on the premises and began shooting people who moments earlier were leisurely shopping at Trolley Square. He killed five.

Fortunately, someone else -- off-duty Ogden, Utah, police officer Kenneth Hammond -- also did not comply with the mall's rules. After hearing "popping" sounds, Mr. Hammond investigated and immediately opened fire on the gunman. With his aggressive response, Mr. Hammond prevented other innocent bystanders from getting hurt. He bought time for the local police to respond, while stopping the gunman from hunting down other victims.

At Virginia Tech's sprawling campus in southwestern Va., the local police arrived at the engineering building a few minutes after the start of the murder spree, and after a few critical minutes, broke through the doors that Cho Seung-Hui had apparently chained shut. From what we know now, Cho committed suicide when he realized he'd soon be confronted by the police. But by then, 30 people had been murdered.

But let's take a step back in time. Last year the Virginia legislature defeated a bill that would have ended the "gun-free zones" in Virginia's public universities. At the time, a Virginia Tech associate vice president praised the General Assembly's action "because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus." In an August 2006 editorial for the Roanoke Times, he declared: "Guns don't belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same."

Actually, Virginia Tech's policy only made the killer safer, for it was only the law-abiding victims, and not the criminal, who were prevented from having guns. Virginia Tech's policy bans all guns on campus (except for police and the university's own security guards); even faculty members are prohibited from keeping guns in their cars.

Virginia Tech thus went out of its way to prevent what happened at a Pearl, Miss., high school in 1997, where assistant principal Joel Myrick retrieved a handgun from his car and apprehended a school shooter. Or what happened at Appalachian Law School, in Grundy, Va., in 2002, when a mass murder was stopped by two students with law-enforcement experience, one of whom retrieved his own gun from his vehicle. Or in Edinboro, Pa., a few days after the Pearl event, when a school attack ended after a nearby merchant used a shotgun to force the attacker to desist. Law-abiding citizens routinely defend themselves with firearms. Annually, Americans drive-off home invaders a half-million times, according to a 1997 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Utah, there is no "gun-free schools" exception to the licensed carry law. In K-12 schools and in universities, teachers and other adults can and do legally carry concealed guns. In Utah, there has never been a Columbine-style attack on a school. Nor has there been any of the incidents predicted by self-defense opponents -- such as a teacher drawing a gun on a disrespectful student, or a student stealing a teacher's gun.

Israel uses armed teachers as part of a successful program to deter terrorist attacks on schools. Buddhist teachers in southern Thailand are following the Israeli example, because of Islamist terrorism.

-- David Kopel, co-author of the law school textbook, "Gun Control and Gun Rights" (NYU Press).

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[Mark Steyn] They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

Point two: The cost of a “protected” society of eternal “children” is too high. Every December 6th, my own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the “Montreal massacre,” the 14 female students of the Ecole Polytechnique murdered by Marc Lepine (born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you’d never know that from the press coverage). As I wrote up north a few years ago:

Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate — an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The “men” stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.

I have always believed America is different. Certainly on September 11th we understood. The only good news of the day came from the passengers who didn’t meekly follow the obsolescent 1970s hijack procedures but who used their wits and acted as free-born individuals. And a few months later as Richard Reid bent down and tried to light his shoe in that critical split-second even the French guys leapt up and pounded the bejasus out of him.

We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom’s security blanket. Geraldo-like “protection” is a delusion: when something goes awry — whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus — the state won’t be there to protect you. You’ll be the fellow on the scene who has to make the decision. As my distinguished compatriot Kathy Shaidle says:

When we say “we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances”, we make cowardice the default position.

I’d prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.

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Latest from Michelle Malkin:

As news was breaking about the carnage at Virginia Tech, a reader e-mailed me a news story from last January. State legislators in Virginia had attempted to pass a bill that would have eased handgun restrictions on college campuses. Opposed by outspoken, anti-gun activists and Virginia Tech administrators, that bill failed.

Is it too early to ask: "What if?" What if that bill had passed? What if just one student in one of those classrooms had been in lawful possession of a concealed weapon for the purpose of self-defense?

If it wasn't too early for Keystone Katie Couric to be jumping all over campus security yesterday for what they woulda/coulda/shoulda done in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and if it isn't too early for the New York Times editorial board to be publishing its knee-jerk call for more gun control, it darned well isn't too early for me to raise questions about how the unrepentant anti-gun lobbying of college officials may have put students at risk.

The back story: Virginia Tech had punished a student for bringing a handgun to class last spring—despite the fact that the student had a valid concealed handgun permit. The bill would have barred public universities from making "rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a student who possesses a valid concealed handgun permit ... from lawfully carrying a concealed handgun." After the proposal died in subcommittee, the school's governing board reiterated its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus buildings.

Late last summer, a shooting near campus prompted students to clamor again for loosening campus rules against armed self-defense. Virginia Tech officials turned up their noses. In response to student Bradford Wiles's campus newspaper op-ed piece in support of concealed carry on campus, Virginia Tech associate vice president Larry Hincker scoffed:

"[I]t is absolutely mind-boggling to see the opinions of Bradford Wiles…The editors of this page must have printed this commentary if for no other reason than malicious compliance. Surely, they scratched their heads saying, 'I can't believe he really wants to say that.' Wiles tells us that he didn't feel safe with the hundreds of highly trained officers armed with high powered rifles encircling the building and protecting him. He even implies that he needed his sidearm to protect himself."

The nerve!

Hincker continued: "The writer would have us believe that a university campus, with tens of thousands of young people, is safer with everyone packing heat. Imagine the continual fear of students in that scenario. We've seen that fear here, and we don't want to see it again…Guns don't belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same."

Who's scratching his head now, Mr. Hincker?

Some high-handed commentators insist it's premature or unseemly to examine the impact of school rules discouraging students from carrying arms on campus. Pundit Andrew Sullivan complained that it was "creepy" to highlight reader e-mails calling attention to the Virginia Tech's restrictions on student self-defense—even as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence rushed to capitalize on the massacre to sign up new members and gather e-mail addresses for Million Mom March chapters. "We are outraged by the increase in gun violence in America, especially the recent shooting at Virginia Tech," reads the online petition. "Add your name to the growing list of people who are saying 'Enough Is Enough!'"

Enough is enough, indeed. Enough of intellectual disarmament. Enough of physical disarmament. You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense—mind, spirit, and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

[Chicago Tribune] Calling the fatal shootings "a horrible tragedy for the commonwealth, this community and the nation," Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine this evening angrily denounced gun lobbyists who have said the murders might not have happened if more students were armed.

"People who want to take this 24 hours after the event and make it their political hobbyhorse— I have nothing but loathing,'' he said during a news conference.

Oh really, governor? Does that go for the New York Times as well, who were so eager to push the issue of gun control they didn't even wait until Tuesday morning, instead releasing their Tuesday ban-the-guns editorial a night early, just hours after the shooting?

Does it go for Newsweeks' Howard Fineman, who lamented within 24 hours of the shooting that the state of Virginia's supposed "paper-thin control measures, based primarily on an "instacheck" system [which are] designed to insure that a potential gun purchaser does not have a criminal record"? (Oh, and news flash for Mr. Fineman, Cho Seung-Hui had no such records and acquired the guns legally; but then again I guess guys like Fineman haven't stopped to consider that a person willing to kill 32 people might be willing to acquire a gun illegally, eh?)

My mid-day Monday ABC News' blog, The Blotter, was already pursuing the gun control agenda with the shameless title "Lapse of Federal Law Allows Sale of Large Ammo Clips," that rhetorically questioned if the shooter, unknown at the time, might have used High capacity ammo clips. You'll find no false outrage from Mr. Kaine on that, will you? ABC News further falsely reminded its viewers that due to the Republican Congress, such clips "became widely available for sale when Congress failed to renew a law that banned assault weapons." It of course implies that the ban prevented the sale of such clips when in fact the bill had only banned the further manufacture of such clips. Regardless, gun aficionados I know have asserted that one can simply carry more clips, which take about a second to reload. It's simply not significant, yet ABC News was willing to anger public opinion with inaccurate facts.

It seems to me the vast majority of those using the shootings to further their "political hobbyhorse" are made of the same political cloth as Virginia's Democrat governor.

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