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April 29, 2005

Why the UN Needs Bolton...

Roger Bates on TechCentralStation notes that Zimbabwe has just been named to the UN Commission on Human Rights. What a farce. Bates points out:

"For the UN to have voted Zimbabwe onto the UN Commission for Human Rights it had to ignore the following:

The 20,000 members of the opposition that Mugabe ordered killed in the 1980s

The destruction of half of the economy in the past five years to maintain power; the regular physical abuse encountered by any opposition to his regime (and that includes just saying nasty things about the leader)

The lack of free media

Food allocation used as a political weapon

Helping wage a war in the Congo so that Mugabe and his cronies make millions from conflict diamonds

The neglect of the entire health system so that life expectancy has dropped from 55 to 33 years in the past decade."

Read the article and tell me why the UN is worth saving...

April 28, 2005

Back to the Oil for Food Scandal...

Over at the New York Sun's website, Claudia Rosett has another story on the Oil for Food Scandal, this time telling us that the next area of investigation that Congress is going to be focusing on is the relationship between the program's bank, the French (of course!) BNP Paribas, the UN, and Saddam Hussein. Apparently Hussein (along with ex-UN head Boutros Boutros-Ghali) hand-picked this bank. There are apparently several re-assigned Letters-of-Credit involved where the real identity of the ultimate assignee is in question. The possibility exists that the money might have ended up in terrorist's hands.

Zarqawi's Laptop...

Over at the Winds of Change website, we have an interesting peek at what the master terrorist Zarqawi had on his laptop computer that was captured in February. He's a Window's man who loves porn, for one:

"He's a Windows man. He also uses something called PGP for e-mails, which I was told is some kind of e-mail encryption method.

The info on the computer was very helpful towards us capturing a number of his lieutenants.

I've heard there's a fair amount of porn. Now that could be disinformation, but given all the drugs, beer bottles, and the like that were found among the Pious Mujahideen™ in Fallujah I'm certainly not going to dismiss it off-hand.

There's information on his medical condition, so we may finally get an answer on the issue of how many legs he has and what not.

There is at least some record of the correspondence between him and bin Laden. Basically, bin Laden gives him a broad outline as far as strategy is concerned and Zarqawi is in charge of implementing the tactical aspects of his plan together with his lieutenants and allies, such as the Baathists.

There's some record of Zarqawi's interaction with Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi, a senior al-Qaeda leader who I gather replaced Hassan Ghul as Zarqawi's al-Qaeda liaison after the latter individual's capture in January 2004.

There are recent pictures of Zarqawi and it seems Praktike is quite correct to note that he is indeed a master of disguise."

'Profiling' Islamists...

Steven Schwartz sheds light on the most egregious practitioners of "profiling" that one can encounter nowadays. Law enforcement, you say? Nope. CIA? Nope. It's the Wahhabists themselves, in an attempt to "purify" Islam. Wrong sect? You die. Read it and be as amazed as I am that the same entities that scream to high heaven about their rights being violated by profiling are profiling themselves.

Indoctrination in Rhode Island

Over on FrontPage, a very interesting description of what it's like to go after a Master's in Social Work at the only Rhode Island college that offers such a degree, Rhode Island College. It's written by Bill Felkner, a current graduate student in the program. Shameful, but it's Rhode Island people, what do you expect!

Bolton Update

Good editorial posted on on who actually is behind John Bolton's nomination to be UN Ambassador.

"The real motives are a combination of ideological animus and bureaucratic score-settling. On the latter, we know Mr. Bolton tangled with State Department officials who were profoundly antagonistic to President Bush's agenda on issues ranging from the ABM Treaty to the International Criminal Court, and that he usually got his way. Now it's payback time.

Thus we have Larry Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, telling the press Mr. Bolton "would be an abysmal ambassador." This is the same Larry Wilkerson who last year said, "I don't care whether utopians are Vladimir Lenin on a sealed train to Moscow or Paul Wolfowitz. Utopians I don't like." He has also described his own Administration's policy toward Cuba as "the dumbest policy on the face of the earth."

Or consider the unnamed State Department official who recently told Newsweek that in November 2003, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had complained personally to Mr. Powell that his Undersecretary was taking too tough a line on Iran's nuclear weapons program. "Get a different view of [the Iranian problem]," Mr. Powell is reported to have told the aide. "Bolton is being too tough." Remember that at the time, Britain, along with France and Germany, had recently negotiated a nuclear-freeze deal with Iran, a deal Iran violated within months. (For the record, Mr. Straw denies Newsweek's report.)

And then there is Thomas Hubbard, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, who objected to portions of a speech Mr. Bolton delivered in Seoul in which the Undersecretary called North Korea a "hellish nightmare" ruled by a "tyrannical dictator." Mr. Hubbard does not formally oppose Mr. Bolton's nomination, but he has let it be known that he considered the speech "counterproductive" and overly "antagonistic."

And the editorial sums it up nicely here:

"None of this, however, quite explains the depth of hostility that Mr. Bolton inspires. The deeper explanation is that he set out to explode the consensus views of the foreign-policy establishment--and succeeded.

This was the consensus that held, or holds, that North Korea and Iran can be bribed away from their nuclear ambitions, that democracy in the Arab world was impossible and probably undesirable, that fighting terrorism merely encourages more terrorism, that countries such as Syria pose no significant threat to U.S. national security, that the U.N. alone confers moral legitimacy on a foreign-policy objective, and that support for Israel explains Islamic hostility to the U.S. Above all, in this view, the job of appointed officials such as Mr. Bolton is to reside benignly in their offices at State while the permanent foreign service bureaucracy goes about applying establishment prescriptions.

John Bolton would have none of this. For this, he has been smeared by his partisan critics and maligned, often anonymously, by his former colleagues. But he has also been vindicated by events, and by his accomplishments, in the last four years. If this makes Mr. Bolton unconfirmable in the eyes of the Senate, then talented Americans have no place in our government."

On a related note, I just saw Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on Fox News reacting to Frist's filibuster offer and the Bolton nomination - I stopped counting the fact-checkable lies at nine, the false innuendoes were in the dozens. Boxer obviously has no respect for her audience.

Frist's Offer to the Dems...

Bill Frist offered a concession to the Democrats today - to permanently eliminate the possibility of using the filibuster for judicial appointees. With any luck, the Dems will reject it. They just won't be able to help themselves:

"Throughout the judicial obstruction debate, emotions have run high on both sides. This should remind all of us, once again, of the need to return civility to our nation’s capital.
The American people want their elected leaders to work together to find solutions. To them -- doing what’s Republican or Democrat matters far less than doing what’s right for our country.
Let me briefly discuss how we got here.
Never in 214 years -- never in the history of the Senate -- had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote…until two years ago.
In the last Congress, the President submitted 34 appeals court nominees to the Senate. A minority of senators denied ten of those nominees -- and threatened to deny another six -- up-or-down votes.
They wouldn’t allow votes, because they knew the nominees would be confirmed and become judges. The nominees had the support of a majority of senators.
Now, in this new Congress, the same minority says it will continue to obstruct votes on judges. And, even worse, if they don’t get their way, they threaten to shut down the Senate and obstruct government itself.
Throughout this debate, we have held firm to a simple principle -- judicial nominees deserve up-or-down votes. Vote for them. Vote against them. But give them the courtesy of a vote.
Yet judicial nominees have not been given that courtesy. They’ve gone 2, 3, even 4 years without a vote. Now 46 seats on the federal bench are vacant -- as case after case and appeal after appeal stack up.
One nominee -- Priscilla Owen -- has served 10 years as a justice on the Texas Supreme court. She won reelection with 84% of the vote in Texas, yet she can’t get the courtesy of a vote to be confirmed by the Senate.
Judicial nominees are being denied. Justice is being denied. The solution is simple -- allow Senators to do their jobs and vote.
In the spirit of civility and with sincere hope for a solution, I make an offer.
This offer will ensure up or down votes on judicial nominees after fair, open, and, some might say, exhaustive debate. It’s a compromise that holds to constitutional principles.
First, never in the history of the Senate had a judicial nominee with majority support been denied an up-or-down vote until two years ago. However, it was not unprecedented either for Republicans or Democrats to block judicial nominees in committee.
Whether on the floor or in committee, judicial obstruction is judicial obstruction. It’s time for judicial obstruction to end no matter which party controls the White House or the Senate.
The judiciary committee will continue to play its essential oversight and investigative roles in the confirmation process. But the committee -- whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats -- will no longer be used to obstruct judicial nominees.
Second, fair and open debate is a hallmark of the Senate. Democrats have expressed their desire for more time to debate judicial nominees. I respect that request and honor it.
When a judicial nominee comes to the floor, we will set aside up to 100 hours to debate that nomination. Then the Senate as a whole will speak with an up-or-down vote.
The Senate operated this way before we began to broadcast debates on television in 1986. This would provide more than enough time for every Senator to speak on a nominee while guaranteeing that nominee the courtesy of a vote.
Third, these proposals will apply only to appeals court and Supreme Court nominees. Judges who serve on these courts have the awesome responsibility of interpreting the Constitution.
So far, only up-or-down votes on appeals court nominees have been denied. I sincerely hope the Senate minority does not intend to escalate its judicial obstruction to potential Supreme Court nominees.
That would be a terrible blow to constitutional principles and to political civility in America. I hope my offer will make it unnecessary for the minority to further escalate its judicial obstruction.
Fourth, the minority of senators who have denied votes on judicial nominees are concerned that their ability to block bills will be curbed. As Majority Leader, I guarantee that power will be protected.
The filibuster -- as it existed before its unprecedented use on judicial nominees in the last Congress -- will remain unchanged.
Senator Reid and I have been talking almost every day on this issue. And I’m hopeful he’ll accept my offer as a solution. It may not be a perfect proposal for either side, but it’s the right proposal for America.
For 70% of the 20th Century, the same party controlled the White House and the Senate. Yet no minority ever denied a judicial nominee with majority support an up-or-down vote until the last Congress.
These minorities showed self-restraint. They treated judicial nominees with fairness. And they respected the Senate’s role in the appointments process -- as designed by the Framers of the Constitution.
Resolving the judicial obstruction debate, for me, isn’t about politics. This is about constitutional principles. It’s about fairness to nominees. It’s about Senators doing their duty and doing what’s right for our country.
Arbitrarily voting on just a few judicial nominees, as some have proposed, will fail to restore the Senate’s 214 year practice of up-or-down votes for all judicial nominees that come to the floor.
Senators have a duty to vote up-or-down on judicial nominees -- confirm them or deny them -- but give them all the courtesy of a vote."

April 25, 2005

Engaging Moderate Islam...

Also over on is an article by Daniel Pipes on Washington's outreach to moderate Islam as part of their War on Terror. As much as many people want to deny it, this War on Terror, as represented by 9/11, is a war of cultures. Many organizations, such as CAIR, have used the past several years to trumpet this and claim that it is a war on all Muslims. It is not. There is a core group of extremists, mainly adherents of Wahabbism, that are our enemies. And this is not a fight that we picked. Their expressed goal, despite the denials of affiliated organizations, is to not only eliminate the United States and its allies, but to eliminate all non-believers (including non-Wahabbist Muslims) and install a new Wahabbist world order. Seeing as this fundamentalist sect is small number-wise, it is important to engage non-radical Muslims to point out the error in the Wahabbist ways. This is difficult because of the Saudi monetary support of its "house" religion.

However, it is slowly being done, as Pipes points out. He also references another article summarizing an investigation by David E. Kaplan in U.S. News and World Report. Good reading.

Back to Posting...

Several weeks ago I posted on the death of Marla Ruzicka, a young, quite fetching women who had gone over to Iraq to tabulate civilian casualties and to "help" the native Iraqis. I noticed how ironic it was that the terrorists had killed someone on their side in the car bombing. Meanwhile, many news outlets have basically canonized this women, much in the same way that they attempted to canonize Rachal Corrie, applauding her efforts to demonize the United States.

Along comes the indispensable with an interesting summary of Ruzicka's life work. Makes for interesting reading. What a waste of a life.

April 23, 2005

Many Apologies!

Boss Squirrel has been busy with life things, not the least of which is trying to do spring cleaning and grass seeding in his yard (you thought squirrels had it easy, eh?). Also, I'm a Mac aficionado, and I had pre-ordered Apple's new OS, Tiger (10.4) a few weeks ago. It came in two days ago (10 days before official release) and I installed it. Unable to receive support, however, until official release date (April 29th). Big mistake by someone in shipping, and I'm pulling my hair out. So lawn-care is necessary now as a form of relaxation therapy, if nothing else! Be back to posting over the weekend, hopefully!