Trouble brewing in Kenya

October 14, 2008

According to this Washington Times column, Kenya’s new Prime Minister is not a good guy:

By mid-February 2008, more than 1,500 Kenyans were killed. Many were slain by machete-armed attackers. More than 500,000 were displaced by the religious strife. Villages lay in ruin. Many of the atrocities were perpetrated by Muslims against Christians.

The violence was led by supporters of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who lost the Dec. 27, 2007, presidential election by more than 230,000 votes. Odinga supporters began the genocide hours after the final election results were announced Dec. 30. Mr. Odinga was a member of Parliament representing an area in western Kenya, heavily populated by the Luo tribe, and the birthplace of Barack Obama’s father.

Mr. Odinga had the backing of Kenya’s Muslim community heading into the election. For months he denied any ties to Muslim leaders, but fell silent when Sheik Abdullahi Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum, appeared on Kenya television displaying a memorandum of understanding signed on Aug. 29, 2007, by Mr. Odinga and the Muslim leader. Mr. Odinga then denied his denials.

The details of the MOU were shocking. In return for Muslim backing, Mr. Odinga promised to impose a number of measures favored by Muslims if he were elected president. Among these were recognition of “Islam as the only true religion,” Islamic leaders would have an “oversight role to monitor activities of ALL other religions [emphasis in original],” installation of Shariah courts in every jurisdiction, a ban on Christian preaching, replacement of the police commissioner who “allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists,” adoption of a women’s dress code, and bans on alcohol and pork.

This was not Mr. Odinga’s first brush with notoriety. Like his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the main opposition leader in the 1960s and 1970s, Raila Odinga is a Marxist He graduated from East Germany’s Magdeburg University in 1970 on a scholarship provided by the East German government. He named his oldest son after Fidel Castro.

Other than his involvement in post-election violence, I hadn’t heard any of this before. The news reports that Kenya is currently at peace, with a power-sharing arrangement in place between Odinga and President Kibaki, but with this man at the center of Kenyan politics, it doesn’t sound like that peace will last.

There is an American angle to this story, too. If Odinga is at the center of Kenyan politics, it’s because Barack Obama helped put him there:

Initially, Mr. Odinga was not the favored opposition candidate to stand in the 2007 election against President Mwai Kibaki, who was seeking his second term. However, he received a tremendous boost when Sen. Barack Obama arrived in Kenya in August 2006 to campaign on his behalf. Mr. Obama denies that supporting Mr. Odinga was the intention of his trip, but his actions and local media reports tell otherwise.

Mr. Odinga and Mr. Obama were nearly inseparable throughout Mr. Obama’s six-day stay. The two traveled together throughout Kenya and Mr. Obama spoke on behalf of Mr. Odinga at numerous rallies. In contrast, Mr. Obama had only criticism for Kibaki. He lashed out against the Kenyan government shortly after meeting with the president on Aug. 25. “The [Kenyan] people have to suffer over corruption perpetrated by government officials,” Mr. Obama announced.

“Kenyans are now yearning for change,” he declared. The intent of Mr. Obama’s remarks and actions was transparent to Kenyans – he was firmly behind Mr. Odinga.

Obama has shown extraordinarily poor judgement by becoming associated with this character, the latest in a long line of dubious characters (Ayers, Wright, Rezko, Samantha Power, Jim Johnson).

(Via the Corner.)

The most ethical Congress ever

October 14, 2008

I don’t think I could make up a story more perfect than this one.

In 2006, the GOP hopes of holding on to control of the House of Representatives were sunk by Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), who was revealed to have sent inappropriate messages of a sexual nature to House pages. The scandal extended beyond Foley himself because it was revealed that some in the House leadership had a hint of the problem and did nothing. (Democratic leaders also knew of the problem, and also did nothing, apparently preferring to save the matter for the election.) The GOP was swept from control, placing Nancy Pelosi in charge of what she pledged would be “the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history.”

Yesterday the story broke into the national media that Rep. Tim Mahoney, Foley’s Democratic successor in Florida’s 16th district, is embroiled in his own sex scandal involving $121,000 in hush money. As is the case with most stories of Democratic wrongdoing these days, the blogosphere (in particular, Gateway Pundit) had the story long ago.

ASIDE: There’s a media-failure angle to the story as well. Gateway Pundit spotted the story on the web site of the Tampa Tribune, which later edited its story to remove the scoop.

The story is nearly perfect already; it’s just missing one thing, and here it is. The Democratic leadership says they didn’t know:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi today issued the following statement on Congressman Tim Mahoney of Florida:

“I just learned today about the serious allegations concerning Congressman Tim Mahoney. These charges must be immediately and thoroughly investigated by the House Ethics Committee.”

But, as noted again by Gateway Pundit, they did:

Two prominent House Democrats — U.S. Reps. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland — say they heard rumors that Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney was having an affair and spoke to him about it before allegations became public today that Mahoney paid $121,000 to settle a lawsuit threatened by a former staffer. . .

Emanuel, who recruited Mahoney to run in 2006, only heard vague rumors in early 2007 and didn’t know they involved a staffer or payments, spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said.

“Upon hearing a rumor, Congressman Emanuel confronted Congressman Mahoney, told him he was in public life and had a responsibility to act accordingly and appropriately, and urged him to do so. They had no further conversations on this topic,” Feinberg said.

Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, heard rumors about Mahoney only last month, a spokeswoman said.

“After a rumor recently surfaced on a blog about Mr. Mahoney’s affair, the Chairman spoke briefly once with Mr. Mahoney about his responsibility as an elected official to act appropriately and urged him to come clean with his constituents if there was any truth to the rumor,” DCCC spokesoman Jennifer Crider said.

Emanuel may be off the hook, depending on what exactly he knew. Van Hollen, on the other hand, was aware of the particulars, since they were in the blog post that Mahoney’s office acknowledges reading. Emanuel and Van Hollen are both in the House Democratic leadership, yet the Democratic leadership did nothing.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obama lies about ACORN connections

October 14, 2008

While researching my last post, an interesting sponsored link popped up on Google:

Obama-ACORN Lies Debunked
Get the Facts Now. Barack Obama
Never Organized with ACORN.

Here’s what they say:

  • Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.
  • Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.
  • Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.

Obviously, this contradicts a lot that’s been written in the conservative blogosphere. Who’s right? Well, “fact” one depends on your definition of “ACORN community organizer” so that’s hard to dispute. Regarding the other two, ABC News’s Jake Tapper has the story. After an earlier version was shown to be untrue, “fact” two was carefully phrased to be literally, but very narrowly, truthful:

As reports pile up of voter registration fraud connected to ACORN — the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, a group that advocates for low-income voters – the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has sought to downplay his past ties with the group.

But in their efforts to do, Obama campaign officials found themselves forced last week to correct an erroneous assertion made on the campaign’s “Fight the Smears” webpage that “Barack was never an ACORN trainer and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity.”

That wasn’t true.

In fact, ACORN spokesman Lewis Goldberg told the New York Times that Obama conducted two unpaid leadership training sessions for ACORN’s Chicago affiliate in the late 1990s.

The “Fight the Smears” website now asserts, “Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.”

Key word: hired.

Goldberg told the Times that Obama’s work for ACORN was unpaid.

So Obama did work for ACORN, but he worked for free. That hardly refutes the “smear” allegation that Obama has ties to ACORN. Tapper goes on to explain that “fact” three isn’t true either.

Moreover, it is undisputed that Obama and ACORN have close ties today. In this election cycle, the Obama campaign paid ACORN over $800,000 for its efforts on behalf of the campaign.

UPDATE: The Cleveland Leader has screen grabs.

ACORN raises the bar for voter fraud

October 14, 2008

ACORN has outdone itself in Indiana. They recently submitted 5000 new voter registrations in Lake County. Every single one of them that the county has checked, 2100 so far, was fraudulent. Unfortunately for the county, the law requires that they continue to check the remaining 2900.

When confronted with their fraud, ACORN’s lawyer says it’s partly the government’s fault:

BONUS: In their five-and-a-half minute story, CNN didn’t manage to mention whether ACORN has any ideological or party preferences. I don’t want to bash them too much — after all, they did run the story — but come on. Not only does this organization work to advance the Democratic party, it is actually paid by the Obama campaign.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Jim Hoft has a convenient compilation of ACORN’s fraud across 12 states.  (Via Instapundit.)

Economic liberty matters

October 13, 2008

David Post reflects on the state of economic liberty:

In a recent post, Eric Posner asks a very interesting question:

No one who believes that the government exploited fears after 9/11 to strengthen its security powers is now saying that the government is exploiting financial crisis fears in order to justify taking control of credit markets. No one who thinks that government would use fear to curtail civil liberties seems to think that government would use fear to curtail economic liberties. Why not?

Putting aside the question of whether it’s strictly correct to say “no one” . . . , I think Eric is on to something important, and I think I have the “answer” (sort of). The answer is: the vast majority of people place economic liberties on a decidedly lower plane than they place “civil” liberties.

Examples of this are everywhere. It’s one of the reasons why people who believe strongly in economic liberties get so angry in law school — it’s not just the way the Supreme Court has basically stripped away any constitutional protection for economic liberties while waxing poetic about civil liberties, it’s the way pretty much all of the professors and students seem to think this is perfectly sensible.

While musing about that, consider this item from the Tartan (CMU’s student paper):

The independence of Carnegie Mellon students living on Beeler Street is under the public eye and may soon be tested. In the past month, a grievance has been filed with the city citing a Pittsburgh ordinance that makes it illegal for landlords to rent out houses to a group of more than three unrelated residents.

This information was initially communicated to David Chickering, the Mudge housefellow and a resident of Beeler, at the beginning of this school year.

“I was going down the street, and I noticed that people from the city were looking at houses, and they let me know that there was a possible violation,” Chickering said. “Afterwards, I spoke to Councilman [William] Peduto’s office and he let me know that they were checking if there were possible code violations and that the Bureau of Building Inspections would investigate.”

This is a perfect case in point. Economic liberty matters. Who chooses to live together is none of the government’s business. Unfortunately, once money changes hands it becomes an “economic matter” and our protection against government intrusion disappears.

Naturally, students are upset at the prospect of being forced from their homes:

Carnegie Mellon students are concerned with the unfair nature of the law.

“Beeler has turned into a college student’s opportunity to find alternative housing, so if there is a house with rooms that could fit more than three residents then it seems unfair to students and landlords to restrict residence by an outdated law. Students are looking for economical housing,” said Yarden Harari, a senior architecture student and resident of Beeler Street.

This sentiment was echoed by other Beeler residents.

“It’s an unfair law because it’s mostly students living on Beeler. If we could have more people live in a house and pay less, why not? Technically, the house I am living in is $2400 a month, and if we split it between only three people, that would be $800 a month, which is ridiculous — if we are legally allowed to have up to four people on the lease, it makes more sense to split the rent among them,” said In-Kyoung Kim, a sophomore architecture major. . .

“It definitely seems like an outdated law, and honestly I can’t really see the purpose of the law in the first place. I would argue that it should not affect me or my peers at all, seeing as it should be the landlord’s responsibility, not ours, to make sure that they are being consistent with Pittsburgh ordinances,” Kumar said.

All of this misses the point. Of course people have good reasons to share a house, but what those reasons are should matter not a whit. No one should have to justify their choices to the government just because money changes hands. It’s a free country, after all.

Isn’t it?

Slow economy chills global warming efforts

October 13, 2008

The AP reports:

The economic free fall gripping the nation may bring down one of the main environmental objectives: capping the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.

Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate, and both presidential candidates, continue to rank tackling global warming as a chief goal next year. But the focus on stabilizing the economy probably will make it more difficult to pass a law to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. At the very least, it will push back when the reductions would have to start.

As one Republican senator put it, the green bubble has burst.

“Clearly it is somewhere down the totem pole given the economic realities we are facing,” said Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke Energy Corp., an electricity producer that has supported federal mandates on greenhouse gases.

Just months ago, chances for legislation passing in the next Congress and becoming law looked promising. . . But the most popular remedy for slowing global warming, a mechanism know as cap-and-trade, could put further stress on a teetering economy.

Not long ago, it was fashionable to mock the idea that we shouldn’t damage the economy to fight climate change. Now, people are realizing that having a strong economy might be pretty important after all.

BONUS: For sheer economic idiocy, it’s hard to beat this:

Other Democrats, however, see a cap-and-trade bill — and the government revenues it would generate from selling permits — as an engine for economic growth. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supports auctioning off all permits, using the money to help fund alternative energy.

“If you see this as a job creation opportunity for the U.S. to develop the products that are then sold around the world, then you should be optimistic about what the impact of passage would mean for the American economy,” said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass.

They want to auction the privilege to continue doing business.  Yeah, that’s going to be a big economic driver.

(Via Instapundit.)

Barone on liberal efforts to stifle free-speech

October 11, 2008

Michael Barone has an summary of recent liberals efforts to stifle conservative speech.  Nearly all of it has appeared in these pages before, but it’s helpful to have it all in one place.  Barone’s title (“The Coming Obama Thugocracy”) is slightly though; only about half this stuff can be directly pinned on the Obama campaign.

(Via the Corner.)

NYT apparently can’t read

October 11, 2008

In the NYT Politcs Blog, Michael Grynbaum writes:

Underscoring the McCain campaign’s aggressive attacks on Senator Barack Obama’s character, Gov. Sarah Palin accused the Illinois senator today of “putting ambition above country” at several private fund-raising events in Ohio.

In making her remarks, Ms. Palin cited a disputed report in The Washington Times today that said Mr. Obama, on a trip to Iraq with other members of the Senate, had encouraged an Iraqi official to delay an agreement that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s campaign denied that claim, as did other attendees on the trip. . .

The Obama campaign, which faced these allegations in mid-September, reiterated its denials today. It called them categorically untrue, citing spokesmen for other senators who attended, including Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who agree that Mr. Obama informed the Iraqis at the beginning of the meeting that the United States spoke with one voice on foreign policy and he would not contradict the Bush administration.

This is simply untrue. At the Washington Times article made quite clear, it was reporting on a telephone meeting with Iraqi leaders in June, which is entirely separate from the trip of Senate members in July. The July trip was the subject of a controversial column in the New York Post. Grynbaum apparently assumed the Washington Times was writing about the same thing, without ever bothering to check.

What I’m really curious about is whether the Obama campaign’s denial that Grynbaum reports actually happened.  Such a denial makes no sense, since Hagel and Reed were at the July meeting, not the June meeting.  While it’s certainly possible that Obama’s campaign issued a nonsensical denial, I think it’s just as likely that Grynbaum invented the denial that he thinks Obama will/should issue.  Moreover, he doesn’t include any direct quote from the Obama campaign, and it’s hard to believe he would forgo such a quote if there was one.

(Via JustOneMinute, via Instapundit.)

Dodd’s banker says Dodd lied

October 10, 2008

The Countrywide scandal continues:

The Connecticut Senator [Chris Dodd] has been out front denouncing the “companies that form the foundation of our financial markets,” for “their insatiable appetite for risk.” He has also decried “reckless, careless and sometimes unscrupulous actors in the mortgage lending industry” and he has proclaimed that “American taxpayers deserve to know how we arrived at this moment.” To that end, we propose he take the stand — under oath.

Former Countrywide Financial loan officer Robert Feinberg says Mr. Dodd knowingly saved thousands of dollars on his refinancing of two properties in 2003 as part of a special program the California mortgage company had for the influential. He also says he has internal company documents that prove Mr. Dodd knew he was getting preferential treatment as a friend of Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide’s then-CEO.

That a “Friends of Angelo” program existed is not in dispute. It was crucial to the boom that Countrywide enjoyed before its fortunes turned. While most of the company was aggressively lending to risky borrowers and off-loading those mortgages in bulk to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. Feinberg’s department was charged with making sure those who could influence Fannie and Freddie’s appetite for risk were sufficiently buttered up. As a Banking Committee bigshot, Mr. Dodd was perfectly placed to be buttered.

In response to the charge that he knew he was getting favors, Mr. Dodd at first issued a strong denial: “This suggestion is outrageous and contrary to my entire career in public service. When my wife and I refinanced our loans in 2003, we did not seek or expect any favorable treatment. Just like millions of other Americans, we shopped around and received competitive rates.” Less than a week later he acknowledged he was part of Countrywide’s VIP program but claimed he thought it was “more of a courtesy.”

Mr. Feinberg, who oversaw “Friends of Angelo” from 2000 to 2004, begs to differ. He told us that as the loan officer in charge he was supposed to make sure that the “VIP” clients knew at every step of the process that they were getting a special deal because they were “Friends of Angelo.”

The story continues with details of how Countrywide made sure its VIP clients knew they were getting a special detail. It concludes:

Mr. Feinberg says he went public with his story because when he heard Senator Dodd on TV talking about predatory lending, he felt it was “hypocritical” and he says, “I just thought, ‘This is wrong.'”

Mr. Dodd hasn’t yet released his copies of the mortgage documents, though he promised to do so more than two months ago. His office told us this week they’d get back to us on that. Meanwhile, presumably the Justice Department can have Mr. Feinberg’s Countrywide documents, if it’s interested.

I, for one, am glad the Democrats have ended the culture of corruption in Washington.

(Via the Corner.)

Obama tax plan hikes top marginal rate to nearly 60%

October 10, 2008

TaxProf has the details.  The rate for high-income taxpayers also goes up from under 40% to nearly 50%.  This is a growth killer, since it is the marginal rate that determines people’s behavior.  (McCain’s plan leaves the top rate and the high-income rate unchanged.)

(Via Instapundit.)

Baghdad dismantles security barriers

October 10, 2008

More good news from Iraq:

Market by market, square by square, the walls are beginning to come down. The miles of hulking blast walls, ugly but effective, were installed as a central feature of the surge of American troops to stop neighbors from killing one another.

“They protected against car bombs and drive-by attacks,” said Adnan, 39, a vegetable seller in the once violent neighborhood of Dora, who argues that the walls now block the markets and the commerce that Baghdad needs to thrive. “Now it is safe.”

The slow dismantling of the concrete walls is the most visible sign of a fundamental change here in the Iraqi capital. The American surge strategy, which increased the number of United States troops and contributed to stability here, is drawing to a close.

(Via Instapundit.)

Obama outreach coordinator meets with terrorist apologists

October 10, 2008

The WSJ reports:

The Obama campaign said it was a mistake for an outreach coordinator to join a meeting last month attended by leaders of two controversial Muslim groups as it seeks votes from large Muslim populations in swing states.

Minha Husaini, newly named as head of the campaign’s outreach coordinator to Muslims, attended a discussion session Sept. 15 with about 30 Muslim leaders and community members in suburban Washington, the Obama campaign confirmed. Participants included leaders of the Council of American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim American Society, which have been cited by the government in the past for ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

In August, the campaign’s previous coordinator, Mazen Asbahi, resigned over a similar issue, pointing up one kind of challenge facing the campaign: pursuing the votes of the Muslim community while not perpetuating any misunderstandings about Sen. Barack Obama’s religion. Sen. Obama is a Christian.

One doesn’t have to buy into the Obama-is-a-closet-Muslim theories to be discomfited by the fact that his campaign has repeatedly cozied up with terrorist apologists and enablers.  (And, of course, actual terrorists.)  Does it mean he is sympathetic to terrorists?  No, but it does mean that he fails to share our revulsion to them.

(Via Instapundit.)

New allegations that Obama interfered with Iraq diplomacy

October 10, 2008

The Washington Times reports:

At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.

Mr. Obama’s conversations with the Iraqi leaders, confirmed to The Washington Times by his campaign aides, began just two weeks after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in June and stirred controversy over the appropriateness of a White House candidate’s contacts with foreign governments while the sitting president is conducting a war.

Some of the specifics of the conversations remain the subject of dispute. Iraqi leaders purported to The Times that Mr. Obama urged Baghdad to delay an agreement with Mr. Bush until next year when a new president will be in office – a charge the Democratic campaign denies.

Mr. Obama spoke June 16 to Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari when he was in Washington, according to both the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and the Obama campaign. Both said the conversation was at Mr. Zebari’s request and took place on the phone because Mr. Obama was traveling. However, the two sides differ over what Mr. Obama said.

The allegation is very similar to one made last month the New York Post’s Amir Taheri. The truth of that allegation was never determined. The Obama campaign denied it, but in the denial actually seemed to confirm Taheri’s central claims. Later, however, the allegation was better denied by some outside the Obama campaign, including Senator Hagel. After that, the story dropped out of the media.

The Washington Times, however, makes clear that this is a separate allegation. It refers to a conversation in June, while the Post referred to conversations in July:

A recent article in the New York Post quoted Mr. Zebari as saying that Mr. Obama asked Iraqi leaders in July to delay any agreement on a reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq until the next U.S. president takes office. Miss Morigi denied this.

Is it true? I think it’s clear that something happened. The Washington Times seems to be confident in its story, reporting it as a news exclusive and claiming to have confirmed it. Moreover, the Obama campaign’s non-denial denial of Taheri’s allegation indicated to me that there was something there.

So what exactly did happen? Obama will deny the story, but that may tell us nothing. Obama has been known to deny an entire story due to minor incorrect details, and has denied stories that were accurate in every particular, but of course he has also denied stories that really were wrong. So the denial itself won’t tell us anything at all. What might tell us something is the way he denies it. (For example, the “denial” of the Taheri allegation was rather revealing.)

In any case, at this point it seems certain that Obama did indeed urge delay in some sort of negotiation with Iraq. It remains to be seen exactly what he tried to delay, and how he tried to delay it. I wouldn’t bet against the Washington Times though.

(Via the Corner.)

Today’s UK is pro-criminal

October 10, 2008

Some stories are just too stupid to make up:

A gardener who fenced off his allotment with barbed wire after being targeted by thieves has been ordered to take it down – in case intruders scratch themselves.

Bill Malcolm erected the 3ft fence after thieves struck three times in just four months, stealing tools worth around £300 from his shed and ransacking his vegetable patch.

But Bromsgrove district council has ordered the 61-year-old to remove the waist-high fence on health and safety grounds. . .

Sergeant Nick Husbands, of West Mercia Police, said: ‘We can confirm that five thefts from Round Hill allotments have been reported in the past year.

‘These have mainly been from sheds and our advice to allotment holders is not to leave anything of value there.’

Mr Malcolm’s plight comes just weeks after Bristol council angered allotment holders by urging them not to lock their sheds in case burglars damaged them breaking in.

Can today’s UK be described as anything but objectively pro-criminal? The police are unable or unwilling to protect your property, you aren’t allowed to defend your property yourself, and now it seems you aren’t even allowed to erect passive obstacles. Pretty soon you’ll be required to leave your door unlocked.

But, I shouldn’t give the impression that the police is entirely unable to enforce the law. If you sell products using non-metric measures, they’ll be all over you.

Yet another alternative to embryonic stem cells

October 9, 2008

This makes three plausible alternatives that don’t raise the ethical issues of embryonic stem cells:

Cells taken from men’s testicles seem as versatile as the stem cells derived from embryos, researchers reported Wednesday in what may be yet another new approach in a burgeoning scientific field.

The new type of stem cells could be useful for growing personalized replacement tissues, according to a study in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. But because of their source, their highest promise would apply to only half the world’s population: men.

In light of this, I imagine someone will look at ovarian cells pretty soon.

(Via the Corner.)

CNN vs. ABC on McCain and Lebanon

October 9, 2008

Best of the Web today notes that CNN and ABC draw opposite conclusions when fact-checking a McCain statement from the last debate:

In Lebanon, I stood up to President Reagan, my hero, and said, if we send Marines in there, how can we possibly beneficially affect this situation? And said we shouldn’t. Unfortunately, almost 300 brave young Marines were killed.

CNN says it’s true and ABC says it’s false, while agreeing on the same underlying facts. Best of the Web explains:

Here is CNN explaining why McCain’s statement was true:

The U.S. Multinational Force operated in Beirut, Lebanon, from August 24, 1982, to March 30, 1984, as part of an international peacekeeping operation in the war-torn country

McCain was a freshman member of the House of Representatives in September 1983 when it approved legislation “that would invoke the War Powers Act in Lebanon and authorize the deployment of American Marines in the Beirut area for an additional 18 months,” the New York Times reported.

The resolution had the backing of House leaders of both parties and President Reagan, and it passed by a vote of 270 to 161, the Times report said. But McCain “argued that his military training led him to oppose the continued deployment of troops in Lebanon,” the Times reported.

But here is how ABC concluded it was false:

This is an issue that came up in the first presidential debate, as well. And in both cases, McCain exaggerates his position. Marines were already in Lebanon when McCain arrived on Capitol Hill in 1983, and his vote was to prevent invoking the War Powers Act to extend the Marines already deployed. McCain did vote against that, but as he did in the first debate, McCain is wrong to imply that he opposed sending the Marines to Lebanon.

Note that these two “fact checks,” despite reaching opposite conclusions, agree on the underlying fact, namely that McCain voted against what CNN calls the “continued deployment” in Lebanon.

ABC has a niggle–that the vote was not on the initial deployment, which occurred before McCain took his seat in the House. ABC does not mention that when Reagan deployed the Marines in August 1982, he did so on his own authority. Congress’s 1983 vote on “continued deployment” was the first time lawmakers weighed in on the subject.

I would add that if you accept ABC’s reasoning, then Barack Obama is lying every time he says he opposed the war in Iraq. We were already in Iraq when Obama took office in 2005. If you accept Obama’s statement (as everyone does), you have to accept McCain’s as well.

(Via Instapundit.)

UNHCR ignores North Korean refugees

October 9, 2008

Forbes writes on the plight of refugees trying to escape North Korea:

Without life preservers, and within range of the armed guards, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans over the last decade have braved this crossing [into China]. Some have died trying.

Others have made it into China only to fall foul of a state policy that refuses to recognize any of them as refugees. They are all deemed illegal immigrants, to be captured and sent back. On the far side of Tumen, surrounded by a high wall, stands a big white building with a faded red roof and round guard tower. Local residents say that this is the detention center where North Koreans, when they are caught in this area, are held before being sent back to North Korea. There, they can face retaliation as extreme as imprisonment in slave labor camps or, in some cases, public execution.

In many parts of the world, it would be normal near such a border to have a United Nations refugee camp ready to receive such escapees and at least provide haven until they could gain entry to a third country. In China, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, has a spacious office in Beijing. But in deference to the Chinese government’s wishes, the UNHCR does not operate near the border and provides no systematic help for North Koreans trying to flee via China.

One can’t be too surprised by anything that China does, but the UN at least pretends to be a humanitarian organization, so one might hope that the UN High Commission on Refugees would actually do something for refugees. But, given the UN’s record, I guess we can’t be too surprised there either.

(Via Instapundit.)

More ACORN fraud

October 9, 2008

This time in Missouri. (Via Instapundit.)

The Democrats should really think again about whether winning elections is more important than the integrity of the system. We’re headed for a complete breakdown of public confidence in the democratic process. Is that really what they want? An unelected government will lose any moral authority it ever had. A minimalistic government might survive that, but the Democrats want to use the government to carry out grand feats of social engineering. Doing so without the acquiescence of the people will be very hard, or very dangerous.

Treasury considering bank nationalization

October 9, 2008

The AP is reporting that the Bush Administration is considering taking an equity stake in banks (the Schumer plan), which would be the first step down the slope to nationalizing them.

Apparently, the bailout bill gave them the power to do this. Oops. With all the fury over the bailout, why didn’t we hear anyone complaining about this aspect?

Indianapolis registers 105% of those eligible

October 9, 2008

If the Democrats manage to win Indiana, here’s a hint how.  (Via the Corner.)

Hamptons seek to exclude Orthodox Jews

October 8, 2008

The AP reports:

They are largely invisible, and sometimes as simple as a small, plastic marker affixed to a utility pole. There’s an eruv around the White House and one in Manhattan that sprawls from the East River to the Hudson.

Now, in a village at the gateway to the Hamptons, the wealthy eastern Long Island playground, a battle has erupted over this religious symbol for Orthodox Jews, pitting them against their more secular neighbors.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, who counts New York Gov. David Paterson among his friends, wants the Westhampton Beach mayor and village board to approve the placement of the religious boundary called an eruv, which would allow observant Jews to perform minor tasks on their Sabbath or on religious holidays like Rosh Hashana, which was observed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The proposal has stirred controversy among the 2,000 full-time residents of Westhampton Beach, a community 75 miles east of Manhattan where the population can grow to 20,000 in the summer. Mayor Conrad Teller says 85 percent of village residents oppose the eruv. . .

Opponents worry that if the eruv is established, Westhampton Beach — a wealthy community but one less glitzy than its better known neighbors Southampton and East Hampton — may evolve into an Orthodox enclave.

The mayor, who declined to take a position on the eruv because he may eventually have to vote on it, believes those fears are overblown. He said the village has retained an attorney to research the constitutional issues.

Another opposition group, the Alliance for the Separation of Church and State in the Greater Westhampton Area, also has hired an attorney.

Their leader, Mark Williams, says the alliance is concerned that village approval would amount to sanctioning a particular religion — and is unconstitutional.

A typical eruv is essentially invisible, and serves only to allow Orthodox Jews to go about their lives while adhering to their interpretation of Jewish law governing the sabbath.

The usual suspects say that an invisible line on public property violates the separation of church and state. To the contrary, a federal appeals court has ruled that, not only is an eruv constitutionally permissible, it must be allowed if the municipality allows any other attachments to telephone polls, such as flyers:

A group of Orthodox Jews in Tenafly, N.J., won a six-year battle in 2006 to create one. A federal judge had ruled the borough had the right to ban the eruv, but an appeals court disagreed, saying the borough had selectively enforced the ban on utility pole attachments. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

It’s not about anti-Semitism, opponents say:

Several groups have sprung up to fight it, including Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv.

“The objection to the eruv has nothing to do with religion, per se,” said group chairman Arnold Sheiffer, a semiretired advertising executive. “What they object to is creating a division in the village where none ever existed.” . . . Their intention, he says, is to blunt talk that anyone opposed to the eruv is anti-Semitic.

So it’s not about opposition to Jews, just Orthodox Jews. That’s so much better.

Russia pulls out

October 8, 2008

The AP reports that Russia is finally pulling out of Georgia, more than a month-and-a-half later than they promised. I hope it’s true. Meanwhile, Stephen Green worries that Russia is preparing a pretext for a continued or resumed occupation.

Obama silent on Corsi arrest

October 8, 2008

Jerome Corsi, the author of a highly critical book on Barack Obama, was arrested yesterday in Kenya (where Obama is extremely popular) on trumped-up charges. There’s probably only one person in the world with the influence to stand up for Corsi’s right to free speech, and that’s Barack Obama. Yet Obama has remained silent:

A spokesman for Obama said the campaign had no comment on the deportation.

Why not?  There’s no political downside whatsoever to standing up for the free-speech rights of your political opponents, especially one whom you’ve already succeeded in marginalizing.  It would allow Obama to rehabilitate his tarnished free-speech credentials at very little cost.  Even if, for some reason, you don’t want to highlight a free-speech issue, it would be easy enough to respond to a request for comment with a single sentence like “Senator Obama believes strongly in the right to free speech and is disappointed by Kenya’s action.”

So why not?  If politically it would be all upside, his refusal must be personal.  Obama doesn’t want to stand up for his opponent’s rights, even though it would benefit him politically to do so.  For the man who could be President of the United States, that’s worrisome.

(Previous post.)

Palin hacker indicted

October 8, 2008

The AP reports.

How we got here

October 8, 2008

Sebastian Mallaby writes in the Washington Post that we shouldn’t blame deregulation for the financial meltdown. Among the true culprits, he writes, are Fannie and Freddie:

If that doesn’t convince you that deregulation is the wrong scapegoat, consider this: The appetite for toxic mortgages was fueled by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the super-regulated housing finance companies. Calomiris calculates that Fannie and Freddie bought more than a third of the $3 trillion in junk mortgages created during the bubble and that they did so because heavy government oversight obliged them to push money toward marginal home purchasers. There’s a vigorous argument about whether Calomiris’s number is too high. But everyone concedes that Fannie and Freddie poured fuel on the fire to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

That’s the Fannie and Freddie that Democrats so vigorously resisted reining in.

Next, let’s take a trip down memory lane to September 1999, courtesy of the New York Times:

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. . .

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

(Emphasis mine.)  During the last year of the Clinton administration, there was a lot of talk about what Bill Clinton’s “legacy” would be.  Now I think we know.

(Via Justin Webb’s America, via the Corner.) (Previous post.)

McGovern attacks card check

October 8, 2008

Next year, expect to hear “Even George McGovern. . .” a lot.

(Via Gateway Pundit, via Instapundit.)

Obama critic arrested in Kenya

October 7, 2008

The AP reports:

The American author of a best-selling book attacking Barack Obama as unfit for the presidency was being deported from Kenya on Tuesday, a criminal investigations official said.

Jerome Corsi, who wrote “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality,” was picked up by police Tuesday for not having a work permit, said Carlos Maluta, a senior immigration official in charge of investigations.

He was briefly detained at immigration headquarters before being brought to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for deportation, said Joseph Mumira, head of criminal investigations at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

NPR reports further (no link, sorry) that Corsi was arrested at the hotel where he was about to launch the Kenyan edition of his book.

Will Obama issue a statement defending Corsi’s right to free speech? We’ll see.


Nevada raids ACORN offices

October 7, 2008

This should be interesting.

UPDATE: It appears that the government has a damning case.  According to the affidavit, ACORN was hiring criminals on work-release from a state prison to commit identity theft.  (Via the Corner.)


October 7, 2008

Popular Mechanics looks at the Airborne Laser and its applications to missile defense.  (Via Instapundit.)

Orwell at the LA Times

October 7, 2008

What do you do when Obama’s remarks don’t match the events of the day? If you’re the LA Times, you edit the events.

Yesterday, John McCain finally began to highlight the Democrats’ culpability for the financial meltdown through their support for irresponsible policies at Fannie and Freddie. (Background at this thread.) That same day, Obama claimed that McCain is avoiding talking about the economic crisis due to his weakness on the issue. As a mainstream media Obama booster, you want to make Obama look good. But how do you support his talking point when it’s manifestly untrue?

If you’re the LA Times, you selectively quote McCain’s speech to remove any mention of the economy, and then you can uncritically repeat Obama’s claim that McCain isn’t talking about the economy.

(Via Instapundit.)

How we got here

October 6, 2008

(Via Hot Air.) (Previous post.)

Is the Taliban looking for a truce?

October 6, 2008

CNN says so.  Ed Morrissey comments.

For my part, I’m skeptical.  A genuine settlement would be welcome, of course, but it seems more likely (if the CNN story is accurate at all) that they are merely trying to drive a wedge between their enemies.

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh votes to realign

October 5, 2008

The Anglican Church is a peculiar one. It is the official church of England and headquartered in London, but most of its adherents are outside the English-speaking world (especially Africa). It is a worldwide denomination without any centralized authority. Its nominal leader, Rowan Williams, was appointed by a British politician, Tony Blair, who happens to be Catholic. Overall, it is strongly orthodox, but it has a powerful non-orthodox minority.

All these factors contribute to the crisis that now exists in the Episcopal Church (an American branch of the Anglican church). Within the Episcopal Church, orthodox Christians (who hold traditional Christian positions on the person of Jesus and the authority of the Bible) find themselves in the minority; the majority “progressives” wish to make the faith more compatible with modern views.

Non-Anglicans are most familiar with the conflict over sexuality, but that conflict is merely a sideshow, next to central disagreements over the divinity of Christ, his unique redemptive purpose, the Resurrection, and the authority of the Bible. The conflict has simmered for a long time, and although the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire (Robinson divorced his family to live openly with a gay partner) worsened existing divisions, it wasn’t until the election of Katharine Schori as Presiding Bishop that the conflict exploded.

Schori was seen as a compromise candidate, progressive but moderately so. She has proven to be anything but moderate, as she showed in an NPR interview before she even took office:

Christians understand that Jesus is the route to God. Umm– that is not to say that Muslims, or Sikhs, or Jains, come to God in a radically different way. They come to God through… human experience… through human experience of the divine. Christians talk about that in terms of Jesus.

A tolerant and multicultural statement this may be, but a Christian one it is not. Unfortunately, this is just one of Bishop Schori’s many statements denying basic tenets of the Christian faith, and she is far from alone. As just one other example, the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles recently apologized to Hindus for Christianity’s efforts to evangelize them.

Anglicanism has a long tradition of “comprehensiveness,” which refers to orthodoxy in central matters but tolerance in secondary ones. Unfortunately, the progressives have moved from secondary issues on to central ones, and their church soon will no longer be recognizable as a Christian one. (Schori’s NPR interviewer insightfully asked “What are you, a Unitarian?” Schori did not answer.)

It was in this context that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh last year began the process of leaving the Episcopal Church. Several provinces of the Anglican Church offered to accept Pittsburgh into their fold, including the Southern Cone (in South America).

Many were loath to leave the Episcopal Church, feeling that it would be better to remain and try to change it from within. Those voices were undermined, however, by Katharine Schori’s decision to depose Robert Duncan, the bishop of Pittsburgh. Ordinarily, deposition of a bishop requires a trial, but that would have required an actual charge, and would have taken a considerable amount of time. Instead, Schori used a provision called “abandonment of communion,” intended to deal officially with the departure of bishops who had left for the Roman Catholic church. Safeguards exist to prevent a charge of abandonment of communion in controversial cases (such as a bishop who had not yet left), but Schori ruled that those safeguards were inoperable.

In the end, the vote to realign and join the Southern Cone was not close. Clergy voted 121-38, and laity voted 119-72 (including abstentions and spoiled ballots). Vote counters indicated that nearly every swing vote sided with realignment in the end. Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone immediately moved to welcome the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and appointed Duncan its caretaker bishop until Duncan can officially be re-elected next month.

After the vote, Katharine Schori issued a statement, saying:

“There is room in this Church for all who desire to be members of it.” She also said schism is not an “honored tradition within Anglicanism” and is “frequently been seen as a more egregious error than charges of heresy.”

In other words, unity is more important than truth.

The struggle does not end with the decision to realign. All observers now expect that the Episcopal Church will quickly file suit in secular court to confiscate the property of the Diocese. Historically, church property belonged to individual dioceses, but in 1979 the Episcopal Church passed the Dennis Canon, which asserts that all church property actually belongs to the national church. In 2006, after a lengthy court battle, the Episcopal Church took control of the Church of St. James the Less and shuttered it, and it remains empty today. However, differences in legal circumstances suggest that the Diocese is more likely to prevail in this case.

The media is beginning to understand the nature of the conflict. Although generally still biased against orthodox Christians, they are beginning to understand that the conflict is not about homosexuality, but much more fundamental issues. For example, the New York Times wrote yesterday:

The movement is driven by theologically conservative leaders who believe the church has turned away from traditional biblical teachings on issues like whether Jesus is the son of God and the only way to salvation.

Liberalism ⊢ False

October 5, 2008

When faced with a conflict between Muslims and birth control, what’s a poor liberal to do?

Mother is denied pill by Muslim pharmacist

A woman was refused the “morning-after pill” by a supermarket’s duty pharmacist because it was against his religious beliefs

Ruth Johnson, 33, who has two children, including a month-old baby, had not been using her usual method of contraception with her fiancée.

She went to the Tesco dispensary in Hewitts Circus, Cleethorpes, Lincs, and asked an as assistant for the pill Levanelle.

Miss Johnson was told it could only be dispensed by the locum pharmacist who was called to speak with her.

She said: “He came out from behind a screen and told me that he would not be allowing me to buy the pill from him because he had a right to refuse to sell it on the basis of his personal beliefs.

“The pharmacist was of Asian origin so I asked him if it was because of his religion and he replied ‘Yes’.”

Miss Johnson, from Cleethorpes, was left feeling ashamed and worried and complained to the store manager who told her they couldn’t force the pharmacist to sell the product.

If your party is based on a political philosophy, you can have a debate on the merits. But if your party is just a collection of tribes, it comes down to one voice against another.

(Via the Corner.)

LA Times concedes McCain was right

October 5, 2008

Patterico’s quixotic mission is to get the LA Times to correct its errors, and he occasionally succeeds.  On this occasion, the LA Times concedes that it was wrong and McCain was right: the President can fire the chair of the SEC.  Of course, no one is paying attention any more, making this retraction little help to McCain.

(Via Instapundit.)

VP debate transcript in error

October 5, 2008

Michael Ledeen notes that the transcript of the Vice-Presidential debate is in error at the New York Times and at CNN. As you might expect, the error does not favor Sarah Palin.

Both transcripts render part of one of Palin’s answers this way:

. . . And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people. . .

When what she actually said was:

. . . And I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people. . .

(Emphasis mine.) This site at the NYT makes it easy to confirm this. Scroll through the transcript on the right to Palin’s answer at 11:42. (No way to link, alas.)

Obviously, the omission of those two words changes her answer considerably, and not for the better. If these errors were simply mistakes, wouldn’t they occasionally favor the Republican?

POSTSCRIPT: Jonah Goldberg also notes a more minor transcript error.

UPDATE (10/16): A week-and-a-half later, the NYT has fixed its transcript, but not CNN.

UN opposes free speech

October 5, 2008

Fox News reports:

Religious groups and free-speech advocates are banding together to fight a United Nations resolution they say is being used to spread Sharia law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam.

The non-binding resolution on “Combating the Defamation of Religion” is intended to curtail speech that offends religion — particularly Islam.

Pakistan and the Organization of the Islamic Conference introduced the measure to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 1999. It was amended to include religions other than Islam, and it has passed every year since.

Saudi cleric promotes one-eyed veil

October 5, 2008

A Saudi cleric says women aren’t oppressed quite enough:

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

Simpson convicted

October 5, 2008

Not much to add that’s not totally obvious, but there is this:

The verdict came 13 years to the day after Simpson was cleared of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

(Emphasis mine.) Note to the Associated Press: I believe the word you’re looking for is “acquitted.”

CNN can’t count

October 5, 2008

Biden wins CNN’s VP debate focus group by an “overwhelming” vote of about 12 to 11.  If the facts don’t support your narrative, ignore them.  (Via Instapundit.)


October 5, 2008

I’m back.


October 3, 2008

No posting until Monday.

Bailout passes

October 3, 2008

Okay, you House GOP geniuses. Please tell me how you improved anything by voting down the first bailout bill. Now we have the same bill, plus $110 billion in pork. Well done!

Chicago take note

October 3, 2008

This does not build confidence:

New measures are being taken to make sure irregularities in September’s D.C. Primary vote don’t happen in November. Officials at the D.C. Board of Elections say they now know what caused 1,500 extra votes to appear in the count.

326 people voted at the Reeves Center precinct on primary election day in September. Their votes were captured on a computer cartridge, but the Board of Elections says when it put the cartridge into the citywide computer to be counted, 1,500 write in votes appeared from nowhere. The board completed its investigation of what might have happened and blames static electricity.

Static electricity!  I’m so glad we replaced those old, unreliable paper ballots.

(Via Instapundit.)

Biden’s grasp of the issues

October 3, 2008

Jonah Goldberg writes:

What struck me the most about the debate – and it probably helped having quintessential Obamaphiles in the room – was how Biden’s “gravitas” is derived almost entirely from the fact that he can lie with absolute passion and conviction. He just plain made stuff up tonight. I read a long list tonight in my debate with Beinart here at Wash U, we can visit the details tomorrow.

Just a few: Flatly asserting that Obama never said he’d meet with Achmenijad; that absolute nonsense about spending more in a month in Iraq than we’ve spent in Afghanistan (“let me say it again,” he said as if he was hammering home a real fact); the bit about McCain voting with Obama on raising taxes; his vote in favor of the war etc.

It’s amazing how the impulse to see Biden as the more qualified and serious guy stems almost entirely from his ability to be a convincing b.s. artist. . . When Biden spews up a warm fog of deceitful gassbaggery the response seems to be “what a great grasp of the issues he has!”

What was Biden smoking?

October 3, 2008

From last night’s debate, Biden’s “no Soviet domination of eastern Europe” moment:

When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.”

What?  We kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon?  When did that happen?!  Biden and Barack wanted to move NATO forces into Lebanon?  When was that?  What is he talking about?

Palin right, AP wrong on Russian aggressiveness

October 2, 2008

Here’s an AP story about a supposed mistake by Sarah Palin:

Gov. Sarah Palin cites vigilance against Russian warplanes coming into U.S. airspace over Alaska as one of her foreign-policy credentials. But the U.S. military command in charge says that hasn’t happened in her 21 months in office. . .

The spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, Maria Comella, said in an e-mail trying to clarify Palin’s comments that when “Russian incursions near Alaskan airspace and inside the air-defense identification zone have occurred … U.S. Air Force fighters have been scrambled repeatedly.”

Now the story comes to the point:

The air-defense identification zone, almost completely over water, extends 12 miles past the perimeter of the United States. Most nations have similar areas.

However, no Russian military planes have been flying into that zone, said Maj. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for the Alaska region of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage.

“To be very clear, there has not been any incursion in U.S. airspace in recent years,” Herritage said.

Note that Major Herritage’s actual quote doesn’t support the indirect quote the story attributes to him. Herritage says that there’s been no incursion into US airspace, which does not mean that there’s been no incursion into the air-defense identification zone (ADIZ).  To the contrary, the ADIZ is where the Air Force turns back intruders before they get to US airspace.

So, have Russian planes been entering the ADIZ or not? Yes, they have, according to the very same Major Allen Herritage. The Air Force Times reports:

More and more American and Canadian fighter jets are scrambling and intercepting Russian bombers flying off the Alaskan coast, exacerbating tensions between the former Cold War foes.

There have been 16 such intercepts since July, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Howie Chandler told the Anchorage Daily News on March 27. That compares with just one in 2005, and none in the previous 10 years, Chandler said. . .

None of the Russian bombers has entered American airspace, which extends 12 miles out from U.S. soil, said Maj. Allen Herritage, a spokesman for NORAD’s Alaska region. Rather, the bombers have been intercepted after entering the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone, a buffer that extends even further out.

So Palin was right, Russian bombers have been intruding into the Alaska ADIZ and have had to be turned back by American fighters.

ASIDE: One might claim that Palin erred by confusing US airspace with the US ADIZ. Since Palin was using figurative language (“when Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States”), it’s far from clear that she meant the term literally. But even if you assume she did, it’s meaningless hair-splitting, and it doesn’t at all damage her larger point.

But wait, there’s more. Returning to the AP story:

What Palin might have been referring to was a buffer zone of airspace that extends beyond the 12-mile strip. Although not recognized internationally as the United States’ to protect, the military watches it.

That zone is where there has been increased Russian bomber exercises, about 20 in the past two years. When Russian bombers enter that expanded area, sometimes called the outer air-defense identification zone by the military, U.S. or Canadian fighter jets are dispatched to check them, Herritage said.

The “outer air-defense identification zone”? What is that? I’d never heard of it so I looked it up. Wikipedia has an article on the ADIZ, and it doesn’t mention an “outer ADIZ.” Ah, but they have a second article. It turns out there are actually two zones with that name: one surrounds the United States and Canada, and the other, created after 9/11, surrounds Washington DC. The latter one turns out to have an outer area called the outer air-defense identification zone. In fact, if you google the term, you find three sorts of pages: (1) pages that don’t actually use the term, (2) pages referring to the zone around Washington DC, and (3) pages that refer to this very AP article.

So the outer ADIZ is around Washington, thousands of miles away from Alaska, and I feel very safe in assuming that Russia has not been conducting bomber exercises there!

To summarize, someone is confused, but it’s the AP, not Sarah Palin. Russian bombers are indeed intruding into the Alaska ADIZ, exactly as Palin says, despite the AP’s denial. On the other hand, the “outer ADIZ,” into which the AP says Russia is intruding, is thousands of miles away and has nothing at all to do with it.

POSTSCRIPT: Can you imagine the ridicule if Palin, rather than the AP, had inadvertently suggested that Russia was running bomber exercises around Washington DC?

How we got here

October 2, 2008

I know I’m just piling on now, but I can’t help it. The WSJ has a catalog of Democrat statements defending Fannie and Freddie from reform. Here’s the best one:

House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 25, 2003:

Rep. Frank: I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .

Sure enough, we tried it his way. Roll the dice, with no focus on safety or soundness.

How bizarre is it that Democrats are profiting politically from the mess they created?

(Previous post.)

Because I guess we had too much confidence in our elections

October 2, 2008

The Democrat in charge of Ohio elections turns election monitors away from the polls.

BONUS: She also permits same-day registration, in violation of Ohio law, based on the theory that “casting your vote” does not constitute “voting.” I am not making this up.

(Via Instapundit.)

Boston Globe peddles rape-kit lie

October 2, 2008

The Boston Globe is the latest media outlet to peddle the allegation that Wasilla made rape victims pay for rape kits. It is a lie, and it’s been debunked so thoroughly that the Globe has no excuse. It was never Wasilla policy to charge for rape kits, and it never happened. Just to pile on, here’s two more debunkings. (The latter one also traces the the origin of the lie. You’ll never guess.)

We’re beyond the normal operation of media failure here. The Boston Globe is knowingly printing an outright lie. (Spare me the protestation that they might merely be making a mistake. The Globe is a news organization; of course they know.) What we see here is the Globe is running a dishonest attack ad, on the editorial page, for free. As Glenn Reynolds put it, they are simply functioning as an arm of the Obama campaign.

(Previous post.)

Child climate cops

October 1, 2008

Jonah Goldberg (iirc) has written that, increasingly, any kind of outrageous behavior or policy can be accepted if it ostensibly serves the environment. For example, urging children to inform on their parents for “climate crimes.”

This just in from the you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up-if-you-tried department. A new website designed by npower, a British electric company, is recruiting children using games, badges and cartoons to enlist as “Climate Cops”; their duties are to actively keep records on their parents and neighbors for violations of “energy crimes” against the planet. Children then use the results of their spying to build a “Climate Crime Case File” on the perps, which they then “report back to your family to make sure they don’t commit those crimes again (or else)!” The site also warns children that they “may need to keep a watchful eye” to prevent future violations. Did I mention I’m not making this up? It gets worse.

(Via Amazon Green Scene, via Instapundit.)

Supreme Court won’t revisit Kennedy decision

October 1, 2008

I think Scalia has it right here:

The state argued that the case should be reopened because Justice Anthony Kennedy relied in part on what he called a “national consensus” against executing convicted rapists. The court split 5-4 in the June 25 ruling. . .

The provision of military law setting out punishments for rapists “does not draw into question our conclusions that there is a consensus against the death penalty for the crime in the civilian context and that the penalty here is unconstitutional,” Kennedy wrote, joined by the four liberal justices who formed the majority in June. . .

The number of jurisdictions that allowed for capital punishment for rapists was irrelevant to the court’s decision, Scalia said. Instead, the justices in the majority employed their independent judgment to say the Constitution forbids executions when the defendant does not kill the victim, he said.

“There is no reason to believe that absence of a national consensus would provoke second thoughts,” Scalia said, noting his strong disagreement with the initial ruling.

Culture of corruption update

October 1, 2008

Speaker Pelosi channeled campaign contributions to her husband:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid her husband’s real estate and investment firm nearly $100,000 from her political action committee over the past decade, a practice that she voted to ban last year and that her party condemned as part of the “culture of corruption” when Republicans did it.

The Washington Times is reporting that the California Democrat’s husband, Paul F. Pelosi, owns Financial Leasing Services Inc., which has received $99,000 in rent, utilities and accounting fees from the speaker’s “PAC to the Future” over the PAC’s nine-year history.

Last year, Pelosi supported a bill that would have banned members of Congress from putting spouses on their campaign staffs. The bill banned not only direct payments by congressional campaign committees and PACs to spouses for services including consulting and furndraising, but also “indirect compensation,” such as payments to companies that employ spouses.

How to build a bridge

October 1, 2008

Free enterprise works.

Chinese dairy problems spread

October 1, 2008

Fifteen more Chinese dairies have been tainting their milk with melamine. (Via Instapundit.)

(Previous post.)

Please elect Sarah Palin

October 1, 2008

If only to upset the French.  (Via Hot Air.)

Ivan the truther

October 1, 2008

A few weeks ago, Russian state television broadcast a “documentary” arguing that 9/11 was an inside job, and no plane ever even hit the Pentagon.

(Via Volokh.)