Showing posts from October, 2006

No purple heart for Kerry's latest self inflicted wound

Frank James , Chicago Tribune: Did John Kerry (D-Mass.) help himself in his Seattle news conference this afternoon to explain his astonishing remarks yesterday which sounded like an elitist shot at the intelligence of members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq? Short answer: no. ... ... here’s the problem. In his moment of high dudgeon, he may have made matters worse. It probably wasn’t a good idea to accuse everyone who saw the video of his campaign appearance and thought he was disparaging the IQ of U.S. troops of being “crazy.” ... Let’s give Kerry the benefit of the doubt and stipulate he muffed his line. Wouldn’t it still have been wiser for him to humbly apologize to the troops directly for the misunderstanding that he, after all, caused? You don’t have to be a right-wing radio talk show host to look at the video from Kerry’s campaign appearance yesterday and believe that he was indeed implying that those serving in Iraq are academic losers, there because they had no other cho

Brits looking for innovation in war on terror

Guardian: John Reid yesterday invoked the memory of Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the Dambusters' raid "bouncing bomb", and Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker, in appealing to British industry to encourage technical innovation in the "war against terror". The home secretary, speaking at the launch of new anti-terror search technology, described "the struggle against Islamist terrorism" as a constant fight to stay one step ahead and compared it to the technological battle to "beat the Nazis" in the second world war. "In a sense it is a recall of the innovators of the past. Just as in the past innovators such as Barnes Wallis, Alan Turing and Tommy Flowers [who built the first digital computer as a codebreaking device in 1943], were vital in our battle to beat the Nazis, so now we must be able to use the skills and expertise of all in our battle against terror." Mr Reid was speaking in London at a "resilience and security forum

Taliban mirror communications give away positions

Telegraph: Royal Marine Commandos are believed to have killed up to 10 Taliban fighters yesterday following a brief but ferocious battle in southern Afghanistan. The Marines were conducting a foot patrol six miles east of the town of Gereshk in the southern province of Helmand when they were ambushed by insurgents armed with 81mm mortars and automatic weapons. The attack provoked a fierce response by the commandos, who fired more than 2,000 rounds during the 25-minute battle. No Marines were injured. ... The attack took place at 2.15pm local time as more than 50 troops from J Company 42 Commando were coming to the end of a five-hour patrol into an area known to have been heavily infiltrated by the insurgents. The Marines, who had previously been wading through waist-deep water in an attempt to remain hidden from the insurgents, were making their way to an agreed rendezvous point when they were fired on by two Taliban mortar positions either side of the river Helmand. In an unusual depa

The gift

Richard Greene , BBC: George Bush and Dick Cheney have been working overtime (and racking up air miles) to rally conservative stalwarts in the final days before the elections, and on Monday they got a gift from an unexpected source: John Kerry. As the president was telling the good people of Texas that the Democrats did not want to win in Iraq, his former rival was in California insulting the troops. Or so Mr Bush and his spokesman would have us believe. And when you review Mr Kerry’s comment, it’s hard to argue.... ... Senator Kerry came out swinging in response, saying he had botched a joke aimed at the president - and that he would apologise to no-one for his criticism. But his tough talk reminded me of an old political maxim: If you're explaining, you're losing. John Kerry clearly thinks he is going to run for president again in 2008. If he doesn’t have jokes funnier than this, he's going to lose again. And in the meantime, he's not doing his party any favours t

Reasons for GOP hope

Mike Allen of Time gives five reason why Republicans think they can prevail in this election. ... 1) No Republican is being taken by surprise, unlike many Democrats in 1994.... 2) Absentee ballot requests and returns, closely tracked by the party, are meeting or exceeding past levels for Republicans in key states and districts.... 3) When the national parties, national campaign committees, state "victory" committee accounts and competitive campaigns are added up, Republicans maintained a substantial financial advantage over Democrats at the last filing period. "We didn't look on it as one pot," said one official involved in the process. "We looked upon it as four pots, with synergy available through all four." 4) Republicans say the district-by-district playing field favors them in several structural ways not reflected in national polls. Here is their thinking, starting with statistics from the President's 2004 race against John F. Kerry: "

Lego unable to meet demand for Christmas

AP /Houston Chronicle: Children hoping to get Lego toys for Christmas may be in for a disappointment. The Danish toy maker is having a hard time keeping up with demand for its popular plastic building blocks as toy stores stack their inventories for the Christmas season, a company official said today. "Many of our most popular products are sold out," Lego spokeswoman Charlotte Simonsen said. "As part of efforts to restructure the company and focus on our core business, we had to make some cuts and the company has not had time to readjust its production." ... It is a pretty good bet that the demand is not coming from the Muslim religious bigots who have pushed a boycott of Danish products since the cartoon tantrums a few months ago. I know my grand sons were delighted with the Legos I gave them for their birthday this year. This has to be a disappointment for preachers of hate who rallied the rabble into burning Danish flags and other acts of street theater.

The Kerry response

Much of Kerry's response to his gaff is in this post . While I comment extensively there as well as post links to other comments in watching Kerry give this rant on video tape it struck me that this is how he wished he had responded to the Swift vets' ad. Too bad for the Republicans that he did not. This kind of melt down is not presidential. The grown up Dems are going to have to get to him soon before he makes his gaff the main subject of the debate for the last week of the elections.

No endorsement for mom

Austin American-Statesman: Drew Brees wants no part of his mother's political aspirations. The NFL quarterback and Westlake High School graduate has told Mina Brees, an Austin attorney, to stop using his picture in TV commercials as she runs for a spot on Texas' 3rd Court of Appeals, saying their relationship is now "nonexistent" after souring six years ago. "I think the major point here is that my mother is using me in a campaign, and I've made it known many times I don't want to be involved," he said Monday. The New Orleans Saints player said he is speaking out now because she did not acknowledge previous requests to keep him out of the campaign. She said replacement spots have been sent to TV stations. The commercial in question has been airing on local stations. It includes a picture of Drew Brees in a San Diego Chargers uniform (his former team) and notes Mina Brees' f

Kerry compounds gaff with demo of hysterical lack of integrity

Sen. John Kerry has issued a press release that has only worsened his egrigious statements about the troops. ... “If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. ... Well he should be getting well with this criticism from someone who did serve in Vietnam and unlike him, committed no war crimes. While Kerry is trying to say that he did not insult the troops he hurls insults at all who oppose his point of view on the war. Unfortunately for him many of those people are troops too. Here is a quick list of insults from that voice of reason, Sen. Kerry: assorted right wing nut-jobs talk show hosts desperately distorting their (the administration) disastrous record they're crazy de

Hezballah rebuilds for next war

Telegraph: Hizbollah has stepped up the rebuilding of its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon despite the deployment in recent weeks of thousands of Lebanese troops and international peacekeepers to limit the Islamic militant group's activities. Standing firm against international pressure to disarm, the Shia group is rearming and rebuilding tunnels and trenches destroyed by the Israeli army during this summer's 34-day war. Locals in Bint Jbeil, a town which saw fierce fighting, told yesterday how Hizbollah was using the major reconstruction efforts to rebuild their security infrastructure. "They are working extremely fast," said one, who did not want to be named. "Militants in Shia strongholds have interconnected tunnels and bunkers under their houses. These are being rebuilt under cover of the reconstruction work." He said cables and telecommunications equipment had been installed and the number of trucks delivering aid and supplies made it easy

Inside al Qaeda

Strategy Page: Getting agents into Islamic terrorist organizations has proved very difficult. There are several reasons for this. First of all, most terrorists come from cultures where the language spoken (Arabic, for example) is difficult to learn, and there are not many speakers of these languages that could otherwise qualify for a job in the CIA or FBI. Then there are the problems with background checks. Islamic terrorists are big on background checks. Not only do they know how to use Google, but they will also, eventually, send someone to your "hometown" to ask questions. The CIA has discovered that, Google alone has made it much more difficult to create "legends" (the fake background information agents require). But the discovery that al Qaeda will even send people out to check legends, was really scary. With all that, al Qaeda is also very patient, and is willing to wait years, before giving a new guy more access to top people, and more important information.

Kerry never tires of trashing the troops

Michelle Malkin has a long post on Kerry's latest attack on our troop's. Apparently when he reports for duty it is to denigrate those who are serving their country. The link to the video of Kerry's trashing of the troops is here . Captain Ed also comments. ... Kerry told the Pasadena City College crowd to study hard and get an education -- or wind up like the losers in the military: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” Wow. Just wow. It's worth recalling that Kerry at one time aspired to command these same men and women from the White House, and claims to still want to lead them. How would these people react to taking orders from a Commander-in-Chief who believes them to be uneducated, lazy losers? ... Perhaps Kerry is just too out of touch with US troops. Earlier he has accused them of terrorizing Iraqis

GOP needs to make winning the war an issue

David Limbaugh: ... I've seen countless Republican politicians sprinting for the tall grass when asked if they support the president's policy on Iraq. Most of them by the way, are incumbents who have most certainly supported Bush's thankless policy but are now afraid to stand by him in the heat of an election contest. The same holds true for many GOP operatives, not to mention conservative pundits, who are also going wobbly on this difficult war. I watched Elizabeth Dole, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, on "Fox News Sunday" appearing to duck the Iraq question, saying that people have different opinions about the war as a matter of conscience. She eventually got around to pointing out the inferiority of the Democratic position on the war, but she was quite unwilling for the election to be a national referendum on Iraq. Given this approach by GOP insiders, what is an inquiring voter to think? If Republicans won't stand by President B

The sixth year itch

Michael Barone: As Democrats begin, in George W. Bush's words, "measuring the drapes" in the offices of the House speaker and Senate majority leader, it's worth looking back on the history of sixth-year-of-the-presidency off-year elections. Have big gains for the out party been a harbinger of future voting patterns? And have opposition victories in those elections resulted in significant public policy changes? History gives us clear answers to those questions. They are: sometimes yes and sometimes no. Sometimes yes: In the post-Civil War years, there were two big sixth-year victories for the out party. The first was in 1874, during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, when the opposition Democrats converted a 194-92 deficit in the House to a 169-109 majority. Historians writing in the backwash of the New Deal tended to ascribe this reverse to the Panic of 1873. But my reading of history tells me that this was a revolt against Grant's policy of stationing troops in

France and the car burning cult dithering

Fred Siegal: FRANCE today is a lot like New York City was before Rudy Giuliani: Its government is so large it crushes the economy - yet also too weak to stem widespread criminality. As with pre-Rudy New York, the fear that France's best days are behind it prevails. For the moment, the French are breathing a sigh of relief, as the anniversary of last year's three weeks of rioting by Muslim youth passed with much fanfare but no widespread disturbances. Yet - with the nation approaching both a presidential election and the Fifth Republic's 50th anniversary - the French elites worry that their famously unstable country is headed for breakdown and a Sixth Republic. The 2005 Ramadan Riots, which saw some 10,000 cars torched and 300 buildings firebombed, have been followed by a yearlong, lower-grade rolling riot - what some in the French police are calling a "permanent intifada." Nationwide, this works out to 15 attacks a day on police and firefighters, and 100 cars s

Revolutions in military affairs (RMA's)

Robert Scales: The subject of technology in modern warfare has been covered by many scholars and soldiers before. But Max Boot takes a refreshingly novel approach in "War Made New." He uses battles as metaphors to demonstrate that revolutions in military affairs, or RMAs, have a pedigree. Tracing the history of warfare from the French invasion of Italy in the late 15th century to Afghanistan and Iraq today, Mr. Boot contends that RMAs are the preserve of Western militaries or of non-Western militaries, like Japan's, clever enough to mimic the Western style of war. These RMAs, he says, have been decisive agents of both military success and geopolitical change. Mr. Boot is an insightful observer of the profession of arms, a gifted amateur who has learned to know war without experiencing it. His last major work was the excellent "The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power" (2002). "War Made New" concentrates on four RMAs that occ

The willful ignorance of Eugene Robinson

On October 27 Dorrance Smith, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs since the following letter to the Washington Post: Your article and the accompanying headline (“Rumsfeld Tells Iraq Critics to ‘Back Off,’” October 26, 2006) said incorrectly that the Secretary’s comments in his Thursday press conference were aimed at “detractors” and “critics.” In fact, the Secretary was referring specifically to journalists seeking to create a perception of major divisions between the positions of the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Secretary Rumsfeld was not referring to critics of the administration’s Iraq policy. Here is a transcript of the press conference. Yet today, Robinson issues this travesty of a column: Go ahead, people, you have your orders from Napoleon Bonaparte, I mean Donald Rumsfeld. "Back off" and "relax." Book a cruise to Chillsville. Don't worry your pretty little heads about the debacle in Iraq, because "it's complicated, it's diffi

Small communities in Iraq embrace US troops

Washington Post /Houston Chronicle: The smell of baking bread wafted over the dusty central square, and children clamored to get closer to the U.S. troops and their hulking armored vehicles. Samir Hassan, a 53-year-old shopkeeper, said he was happy with the U.S. troops who have maintained peace around his home. But the Iraqi police who have set up a checkpoint at the entrance to Mustafar have made the residents uneasy, he said, as have the Shiite militiamen who operate just miles away. "We feel safe here," Hassan said, waving his arm at the throngs of people in the streets on a recent day. "But now we can't go to Baghdad. We need to have security in Iraq. The government has no control, and I don't trust the Iraqi forces." It is in small villages like these that U.S. soldiers say they are making their biggest strides but also face their biggest challenges. Commanders in Iraq say they can win any battle against armed insurgents and conduct any military operat

Norks agree to six party talks

AP /Houston Chronicle: North Korea agreed today to rejoin six-nation nuclear disarmament talks in a surprise diplomatic breakthrough three weeks after the communist regime conducted its first known atomic test, the Chinese government said. Chinese, U.S. and North Korean envoys to the negotiations held a day of unpublicized talks in Beijing during which North Korea agreed to return to the larger six-nation talks on its nuclear programs, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. "The three parties agreed to resume the six-party talks at the earliest convenient time,'' the Chinese statement said. ... The six-nation arms talks were last held in November 2005, where no progress was made on implementing the September 2005 agreement where the North pledged to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and aid. Just after that agreement, the North had demanded a nuclear reactor for power - a request that was quickly rejected by the other sides at the talks. However

China helped Norks build bomb

Bill Gertz: China helped North Korea develop nuclear weapons and in the past year increased its support to Pyongyang, rather than pressing the regime to halt nuclear arms and missile activities, according to a congressional report. The final draft report of the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission also says that Chinese government-run companies are continuing to threaten U.S. national security by exporting arms to American enemies in Asia and the Middle East. The report is based on public testimony and highly classified intelligence reports made available to its members and staff. It indirectly criticizes the Bush administration for failing to pressure Beijing into joining U.S.-led anti-proliferation programs and calls for Congress to take action to force the administration to do more. "China has contributed at least indirectly to North Korea's nuclear program," the report stated, noting that China was a "primary supplier" to Pakistan's

Deterrence working, fewer illegals coming to US

Washington Post: The U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 8 percent fewer illegal immigrants last fiscal year than the year before, reversing a two-year increase in the historically volatile benchmark, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced yesterday. Chertoff credited the drop of nearly 100,000 apprehensions largely to the Bush administration's strategy of deporting virtually all non-Mexican border crossers as fast as they are caught, deterring them and others in what had been the fastest-growing group of illegal immigrants. After quadrupling the previous four years, apprehensions of "other than Mexican" border crossers fell 57,144, or 35 percent, to 108,026 last year. The total number of apprehensions in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was nearly 1.1 million. "We have begun to see, for the first time, a significant turnaround in terms of the number of illegals that we are finding crossing the border," Chertoff said.... ... The arrest total does n

Al Qaeda's anthrax program

Washington Post: In December 2001, as the investigation into the U.S. anthrax attacks was gathering steam, coalition soldiers in Afghanistan uncovered what appeared to be an important clue: a trail of documents chronicling an attempt by al-Qaeda to create its own anthrax weapon. The documents told of a singular mission by a scientist named Abdur Rauf, an obscure, middle-aged Pakistani with alleged al-Qaeda sympathies and an advanced degree in microbiology. Using his membership in a prestigious scientific organization to gain access, Rauf traveled through Europe on a quest, officials say, to obtain both anthrax spores and the equipment needed to turn them into highly lethal biological weapons. He reported directly to al-Qaeda's No. 2 commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and in one document he appeared to signal a breakthrough. "I successfully achieved the targets," he wrote cryptically to Zawahiri in a note in 1999. Precisely what Rauf achieved may never be known with certainty.

Zawahiri was target of Pak attack that killed 80

ABC News: Ayman al Zawahiri was the target of a Predator missile attack this morning on a religious school in Pakistan, according to Pakistani intelligence sources. ABC News has learned the raid was launched after U.S. intelligence received tips and examined Predator reconnaissance indicating that al Qaeda's No. 2 man may have been staying at the school, which is located in the Bajaur region near the village that is thought to be al Qaeda's winter headquarters. Despite earlier reports that the missiles had been launched by Pakistani military helicopters, Pakistani intelligence sources now tell ABC News that the missiles were fired from a U.S. Predator drone plane. Between two and five senior al Qaeda militants were killed in the attack, including the mastermind of the airliners plot in the U.K., according to Pakistani intelligence sources. No word yet on whether or not Zawahiri was killed in the raid, but one Pakistani intelligence source did express doubt that Zawahiri w

Evidence Israel won in Hezballah war

AP /Washington Post: For years, whenever Asher Greenberg left his home in this frontier town to work in the orchards along the Lebanon border, he took his M-16 rifle in case Hezbollah guerrillas attacked. Since Israel's war with Hezbollah ended in August, Greenberg's rifle hasn't left his closet once. At Zarit, a nearby farming village where chicken coops and red-roofed houses hug the border fence, farmers are beginning to return to orchards they abandoned during the years when Hezbollah guerrillas controlled the Lebanese side of the line. More than two months after the war ended in stalemate, many Israelis have come to see it as a costly failure. Those who live closest to Lebanon, though, say it altered their lives dramatically for the better. "The war erased a threat we lived with for years," Greenberg said. "We aren't afraid of snipers or kidnappings anymore. We can breathe." ... The sentiment is echoed in other small farming communities where Is

Party ID and the polls

Michael Barone: What's with the polls? In 2004, the electorate that went to the polls or voted absentee was, according to the adjusted NEP exit poll, 37 percent Democratic and 37 percent Republican. In party identification, it was the most Republican electorate since George Gallup conducted his first random sample poll in October 1935. But most recent national polls show Democrats with an advantage in party identification in the vicinity of 5 percent to 12 percent. Party identification usually changes slowly. Historically, voters have switched from candidates of one party to candidates of the other more readily than they have changed their party identification. Over time, big changes in party ID can and do occur. When I started in the polling business, in 1974, national party identification was almost 50 percent Democratic and not much more than 25 percent Republican. Since then, Democratic party ID has fallen, particularly in the South, where many voters who considered t

The downside with Democrats

Peter Brooks looks at where Democrat foreign "policy" would lead us and it horrific costs.

Webb of deception

Milton Copulus: In this age of political cynicism, it is unremarkable that a politician would change his position on an issue, or even take conflicting positions. But Jim Webb's transformation from the nominally conservative Republican who served as the Reagan administration's secretary of the Navy to a left-wing Democratic Senate candidate rivals St. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Divine intervention, of course, is one possibility. A more likely explanation, however, is that the public persona Mr. Webb presents is actually a fabrication, as carefully crafted as any character in the novels he has penned. The shift is truly remarkable. He once refused to shake John Kerry's hand, and in a 2004 USA Today editorial wrote that his 1971 Senate testimony had "defamed a generation of honorable men." Now he trumpets Mr. Kerry's endorsement. He once called the Clinton Administration among "the most corrupt" in modern history in one of many

"The Madrid logic" or Mogadishu logic?

Amir Taheri: ... Most Americans are unfamiliar with Iraq's complex political, ethnic, religious and cultural realities. So, when television presents a charred vehicle left by a suicide bomber and experts pronouncing Iraq a failure, many decide that it is a lost cause - and the sooner the Americans extricate themselves, the better. This is precisely why the Saddamite desperados and the jihadists keep fighting a war in Iraq that they cannot win . Their strategy is based on a simple assumption: Americans will be so shocked and disheartened by the daily carnage that they'll force their government to "cut and run" - or, if it refuses, replace it with one that will. In Jihadist circles, that strategy is known as "the Madrid Logic" ( mantaq al- Madrid ), after the deadly terrorist operation in the Spanish capital that succeeded in changing that country's government and its foreign policy. This logic works because the Western democracies' political elit

The arch of crime makes St. Louis #1

AP /Houston Chronicle: Just days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the top honor in Major League Baseball, their hometown jumped to first place on a list no one wants to lead: the most dangerous cities in the U.S. This Midwestern city has long been in the upper tier of the annual ranking of the nation's safest and most dangerous cities, compiled by Morgan Quitno Press. Violent crime surged nearly 20 percent there from 2004 to last year, when the rate of such crimes rose much faster in the Midwest than in the rest of nation, according to FBI figures released in June. "It's just sad the way this city is," resident Sam Dawson said. "On the news you hear killings, someone's been shot." According to the rankings, Houston was the 47th most dangerous among 371 cities surveyed, while Dallas was No. 34. Beaumont ranked No. 71, Corpus Christi was No. 174, San Antonio was No. 175 and Pasadena was No. 254. Round Rock was one of the 25 safest cities. ... The story d

PSI practice in Persian Gulf

Washington Times: The United States and five other countries will begin an exercise in the Persian Gulf today simulating the interdiction of a ship carrying nuclear materials to a state of "proliferation concern" -- most likely Iran. U.S. officials said that Muslim countries will take part for the first time in a Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) exercise, part of Washington's global effort to disrupt traffic in weapons of mass destruction and related materials. "From news reports, we know that the exercise has gotten the attention of the Iranian government," said Robert G. Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. "This is an exercise that will test our capability to intercept illicit traffic." The West suspects Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon, but Tehran insists that it seeks nuclear energy only for civilian purposes. Vessels, aircraft and special teams for the live phase of the exerci

Enemy cash flow

Rowan Scarborough: The U.S. military is not only trying to stop terrorists and arms from leaking into Iraq from Syria and Iran but also another just as dangerous commodity -- cash. It's the lifeblood of the enemy -- whether they be al Qaeda terrorists, death squads or Sunnis trying to evict American forces and bring back dictator Saddam Hussein -- and U.S. raiders have seized millions of dollars in cash during the conflict. Military officials point to Syria and its secretive banking system as the main source of Sunni walking-around money, while Iran's Revolutionary Guard funnels money to Shi'ite militias, such as cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The enemy's money began flowing into Iraq with the start of the insurgency in the summer of 2003, and the shipments are still coming in. "There are billions coming in," said Daniel Gallington, a former aide to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. "The Middle East is the center of graft and

Paks destroy terror training facility/madrassa

NY Times: The Pakistani military said today that it had destroyed a religious school used for training militants in Bajur tribal area straddling the border with Afghanistan. More than 83 people are thought to have been killed in the military operation, local television news channels reported, but no official confirmation was immediately available. The strike, involving helicopter gunships, started at around 5 a.m. today, military officials said. The target was a religious school, known as a madrassa, run by a local cleric, Maulvi Liaqut. Mr. Liaqut was also reportedly killed, according to local media. Mr. Liaqut had been accused of harboring local and foreign militants. He had been a member of the defunct militant movement Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, which had sent thousands of tribal fighters into Afghanistan to support the Taliban before being banned in 2002 by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. "We received confirmed intelligence reports that 70-80 militants were

Write in candidate tied with Dem in DeLay's old district

Houston Chronicle: The Republican write-in effort to hold former Rep. Tom DeLay's congressional seat, once viewed as a long shot, has created a tight race, according to a Houston Chronicle-11 News poll. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for a write-in candidate, a statistical tie with the 36 percent support for Democrat Nick Lampson, according to the poll of more than 500 likely voters in the 22nd Congressional District. ... "This is why we have elections and we don't have talking heads decide in May who the winners are going to be," said pollster John Zogby, president of Zogby International, which conducted the poll last week. "Punditry was coloring the district blue. It's still a Republican district. Even harder than selling a write-in, is selling a Democrat in this district." Fifty-two percent of poll respondents identified themselves as Republicans, 32 percent as Democrats and 16 percent as independent. That GOP strength als

North Korean crimes against humanity

Reuters: North Korea has committed "crimes against humanity" against its own people according to an independent report published on Monday that made a long-shot appeal for the U.N. Security Council to deal with the issue. Released after North Korea's October 9 nuclear test, the report describes Pyongyang's brutal treatment of its citizens, from the beatings of pregnant women to force miscarriages to the abduction, torture and execution of political prisoners. Commissioned by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, the paper seeks to spotlight rights abuses that have been previously reported but are often overshadowed by concern about North Korea's nuclear ambitions. "It is clear that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il and the North Korean government are actively committing crimes against humanity," they said in a letter introducing the report, which wa

"Why is Moqtada al-Sadr still alive?"

Jack Kelly ask the question: ... Mr. Sadr has the blood of dozens of Americans and thousands of Iraqis on his hands. There is evidence he has been coordinating with al-Qaida. Yet Mr. Sadr is not dead. He is not in prison. He is in the government. And people wonder why U.S. policy in Iraq is failing. Victory depends less on sending more soldiers to Iraq than on permitting the ones who are there to kill our enemies. In April of 2004, when we should have killed Mr. Sadr, he was not a very popular figure among Iraq's Shiites. Now he's the most powerful figure in Iraq, eclipsing the more-or-less moderate Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. "In Shiite areas, the militias hold the real control of the city," e-mailed an Army sergeant in a Baghdad intelligence unit to The Wall Street Journal's Jim Taranto. "They have infiltrated, co-opted or intimidated into submission the local police. They are expanding their territories, restricting freedom of movement for Sunnis, forc

Suspected al Qaeda gun runners caught in Yemen sending arms to Somalia

Reuters: Yemeni forces have arrested eight foreigners with suspected links to al Qaeda who were smuggling weapons from Yemen to Somalia, a senior Interior Ministry official said on Sunday. The official said four of the smugglers held Australian passports while a fifth was a Danish national, but gave no details on the identities of the other three. "The eight foreigners were arrested because they smuggled weapons to Somalia from Yemen," the official said in a statement posted on the state-run news agency Saba. ... Government sources in the Yemeni capital told Reuters that all of the eight suspects had converted to Islam earlier this year and received religious instruction in Yemen. ... Al Qaeda and Somalia with its Islamic Courts seem like natural allies. It is a bit of a different twist with converts acting as the go betweens. Perhaps they were concerned about penetration of their organization in Yemen. With these arrest, those concerns look well founded.

Do you want to win or lose the war

Mark Steyn: I was on C-SPAN the other morning, and a lady called in to complain that ''you are making my blood pressure rise.'' Usual reason. The host, Paul Orgel, had asked me what I thought of President Bush and I replied that, whatever my differences with him on this or that, I thought he was one of the most farsighted politicians in Washington. That's to say, he's looking down the line to a world in which a radicalized Islam has exported its pathologies to every corner on Earth, Iran and like-minded states have applied nuclear blackmail to any parties within range, and a dozen or more nutcake basket-case jurisdictions have joined Pyongyang and Tehran as a Nukes R Us one-stop shop for all your terrorist needs. In 2020, no one's going to be worrying about which Congressional page Mark Foley is coming on to. Except Mark Foley, who'll be getting a bit long in the tooth by then. But if it really is, as Democrats say, ''all about the future of our

Militia failure in Iraq

Bill Roggio: The Iraqi Army's 3rd Brigade, 8th Division has conducted a large scale cordon and search operation in the city of Suwayra in Wasit province. During the operation, there were two separate engagements, both north of Suwayra, where “25 gunmen were killed and 18 others were arrested in separate incidents,” according to the Kuwaiti News Agency . ... Suwayra is the location of fighting between the Iraqi Army and the Mahdi Army just one week ago, after about 150 Mahdi militiamen attacked a police station in the city . Eight Mahdi fighters were killed during the engagement. While neither the Iraqi Army or MNF-Iraq identified the current 'insurgents' as Mahdi, the likelihood the operation was indeed directed at the Mahdi Army. Wasit province is largely Shiite, and the Sunni insurgency and al-Qaeda have not been active in this region. If this is true, the Iraqi Army is continuing to erode Sadr's support outside of Baghdad, and has given his Mahdi Army another lopside

The enemy is openly rooting for the Democrats

Gateway Pundit has the story of the Iranian leaders prayer for the Dems. At least no one can say they do not have a prayer, it is just not one of their own.

The multi culti madness of modern England

Val MacQueen: In the last few days in Britain, three events have caused what was already a small crack in the paper-thin edifice of "multiculturalism" in Britain to widen to a noticeable fissure. First, 14-year old British schoolgirl Codie Stott was arrested for trying to get a good grade in her group science project. She had been placed with a group of students only one of whom spoke any English. When they began talking what she deduced was Urdu among themselves, she realized she had no hope of completing the project. She went to her teacher, and prefacing her request with a diplomatic, "I'm not trying to be funny, but ..." she asked to be moved to an English-speaking team. The teacher reacted violently, raising her voice in the classroom to shout, "It's racist! You're going to get done by the police!" The 14-year old was reported to a police officer on the school premises and the next day she was arrested, taken to the police station and

Zarqawi's cameraman caught

Sky News: The Iraqi army has reportedly captured a man said to have worked as the personal cameraman for late al Qaeda leader Abu al Zarqawi. Jordanian-born al Zarqawi had appeared in several video tapes posted on militant internet sites. One clip purported to show him with his face covered, speaking to the camera before slitting the throat of a Western hostage. Other footage showed him claiming reponsibility for various terrorist acts. Alleged cameraman Khalid al Hayani was captured by Iraqi troops in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, Iraqi defence ministry spokesman Mohammed al Askari said. ... He was apparently captured with some of his tapes. This guy was an integral part of the enemy's media campaign which they maintain is half the war. The capture also points to the value that Iraqi troops can bring to this war. They get better intelligence and they can move to attack easier.