Target Centermass

10/5/2006

Poll: Perry Leads Governor Race amid Voter Hostility

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:01 pm

The lastest polling results in the Texas gubernatorial race have been released and Republican incumbent Rick Perry continues to hold a broad lead in a crowded field.

Nearly two-thirds of Texas voters want one of Gov. Rick Perry’s challengers to beat him in the upcoming election, but none of his opponents has enough support right now to win, a newspaper poll shows.

The statewide poll conducted for The Dallas Morning News found that 38 percent of likely voters back Perry’s re-election in the Nov. 7 election.

It found 18 percent support independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, 15 percent support Democrat Chris Bell and 14 percent support independent Kinky Friedman.

“There is an anti-Perry vote, and clearly somebody should have been able to beat him. But the anti-Perry vote is split three ways,” said pollster Mickey Blum.

The poll had a 3.5 percent margin of error and showed 14 percent of respondents as undecided. Two key points should be kept in mind when looking at these results. First, a plurality is all that is needed to win so there is no hope for any in the field to force a run-off. Second, the poll did not include Libertarian candidate James Werner, quite probably knocking off some of the undecideds. Because of these two factors, Perry’s 20-point lead over his nearest rival is quite substantial with only 32 days remaining in the campaign.

All of the involved camps immediately tried to spin the results in their favor. First comes the following from the Governor’s campaign:

Perry campaign spokesman Robert Black said the governor will take the election with more than the 38 percent shown by the poll.

“Come Election Day, that number is going to be quite a bit higher because people are going to look at the record,” Black said.

Stating that the governor will take more than the poll shows is merely stating that he will pick up at least some of the undecideds. Barring a dramatic change in the campaign, that seems a very safe minimum bet.

The Bell camp also addressed the poll results.

Bell’s campaign spokeswoman, Heather Guntert, predicted Democrats will back the party’s nominee on Nov. 7. The poll shows he is “vulnerable,” she said.

That’s some pretty sloppy writing there, as I assume Ms. Guntert was referring to Perry as vulnerable. Unfortunately for Ms. Guntert’s cause, Bell’s poll results are probably not too far below his name recognition figures right now. In fact, should Bell not garner 20 percent of the final balloting, the Democrats run the risk of being classified as a minor party under Texas law and be forced to jump through more hoops to get their candidates on future ballots.

Strayhorn’s campaign chimed in on the poll.

Brad McClellan, Strayhorn’s campaign manager, said Strayhorn will win if Perry stays below 40 percent, adding: “People don’t want four more years of the same.”

Again, barring a dramatic development, the numbers don’t add up for this claim. Perry could actually lose ground and still win by a healthy margin.

Finally, a Friedman campaign official threw in the Kinky spin.

Friedman’s campaign said the poll doesn’t reflect Texans who don’t normally vote but will turn out to support Friedman.

“These polls don’t mean much to us, but if Kinky is polling at 14 percent among likely voters, we’re happy,” said spokeswoman Laura Stromberg.

Yes, Kinky will get out some that would not have otherwise voted; likewise, he will draw some from the established parties and possibly be particularly damaging to the Libertarians. That said, his is an entertaining but hopeless candidacy.

Related — Campaign Sites of Declared Candidates:

Rick Perry (R, Incumbent)
Chris Bell (D)
James Werner (L)
Carole Keeton Strayhorn (Ind.)
Richard “Kinky” Friedman (Ind.)

10/3/2006

Tonight’s Good Reads and a Video

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:41 pm

Just a little link dump on what I feel I should recommend among my readings and watchings today.

97 Reasons Democrats Are Weak On Defense And Can’t Be Trusted To Govern In Wartime

Today’s Democrats are nothing like Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy, who with courage and decisive action kept on top of their jobs and aggressively confronted one national defense crisis after another.

Jimmy Carter, elected during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and (1) believing Americans had an inordinate fear of communism, (2) lifted U.S. citizens’ travel bans to Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia and (3) pardoned draft evaders.

Only 94 more to go as the column begins chronicling the ways in which the modern Democrats suffer in comparison to their historical predecessors, fine figures that I may have had domestic disagreements with but showed major spine on the international stage on our country’s behalf. Hat tip to Hyscience.

Big differences seen in party views on patriotism

There is no doubt about Americans’ patriotism. We consistently score higher than other countries on polls gauging how patriotic citizens are. We see this every Fourth of July as Americans proudly display the flag and sing the national anthem and watch fireworks.

However, there are some who are weary of our patriotism and they are not shy about telling us so. Howard Zinn, the leftist historian, advised us on the Fourth to “put away our flags” and to renounce “nationalism.” Mark Kurlansky, a popular historian, wrote how he was sick and tired of the Founding Fathers. Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks opined that she just didn’t “understand the necessity for patriotism.”

I myself have no discomfort in questioning the patriotism — or wisdom and common sense, for that matter — of many of my fellow Americans on the far left. Hat tip to Wizbang!‘s Lorie Byrd, who receives a prominent plug in the piece.

The New Detainee Law Does Not Deny Habeas Corpus

There are innumerable positives in the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the new law on the treatment of enemy combatants that President Bush will soon sign. Among the best is Congress’s refusal to grant habeas-corpus rights to alien terrorists. After all, the terrorists already have them.

That the critique on this entirely appropriate measure has been dead wrong is given away by its full-throated hysteria. Typical was Richard Epstein, a distinguished constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago, who admonished the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration and a compliant Republican Congress were unconstitutionally “suspend[ing]” the great writ. The New York Times editorial board, in its signature hyperbole, railed that “[d]etainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment.” What bunkum.

First, Congress cannot “suspend” habeas corpus by denying it to people who have no right to it in the first place.

Quite right. It should also be noted that the overwhelming bulk of the detainees in question should not legally fall under the domain of any protections based upon the Geneva accords to which the United States is actually a signatory. In other words, both under domestic and international law, screw ’em. Hat tip to Raven at And Rightly So.

Traitors to the Enlightenment

The first Western Enlightenment of the Greek fifth-century B.C. sought to explain natural phenomena through reason rather than superstition alone. Ethics were to be discussed in the realm of logic as well as religion. Much of what Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and the Sophists thought may today seem self-evident, if not at times nonsensical. But that century was the beginning of the uniquely Western attempt to bring to the human experience empiricism, self-criticism, irony, and tolerance in thinking.

The second European Enlightenment of the late 18th century followed from the earlier spirit of the Renaissance. For all the excesses and arrogance in its thinking that pure reason might itself dethrone religion — as if science could explain all the mysteries of the human condition — the Enlightenment nevertheless established the Western blueprint for a humane and ordered society.

But now all that hard-won effort of some 2,500 years is at risk. The new enemies of Reason are not the enraged democrats who executed Socrates, the Christian zealots who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity, or the Nazis who burned books. No, they are a pampered and scared Western public that caves to barbarism — dwarves who sit on the shoulders of dead giants, and believe that their present exalted position is somehow related to their own cowardly sense of accommodation.

What would a Socrates, Galileo, Descartes, or Locke believe of the present decay in Europe — that all their bold and courageous thinking, won at such a great cost, would have devolved into such cheap surrender to fanaticism?

Victor Davis Hanson is greatness once again, this time turning his guns on the Euro left and their current betrayal of the virtues of historical liberalism. Hat tip to Rightwingsparkle.

Video: “No Excuses For Terror”

Dovetailing nicely with the above VDH piece is a video in four parts from Britain’s Channel Five. So far I’ve only watched the first part but will catch the rest shortly. Already the piece does an excellent job of pointing out pointing out a wealth of historical hypocrisy coming from the Euro and global left, and I feel I can already label it as a must-see. Maybe it’s not a case of “know thy enemy,” but it certainly appears to be a case of “know those among you who play quite useful idiots for thy enemy.”

On Frist, Afghanistan and Hedged Defeatism

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:59 am

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist either leapt into the defeatist camp or was slightly misquoted when discussing our prospects in Afghanistan. Either way, I’m already quite fed up ith Frist for the night (see here).

The Jawa Report‘s Dr. Rusty opines on the matter, and I can’t say that there’s much I disagree with in his words and I recommend that the reader peruse them all. In fact, I have previously stated many of his thoughts already, chief among these being that a large portion of our current problems in Iraq and Afghanistan stem from the fact that we never mercilessly made it clear to our enemies that they were beaten — at least not in a language that they would understand.

My one withholding of agreement comes from the following from the good Dr. Rusty:

If democracy in the Middle East is a grand experiment, then the null hypothesis has been disproven. No, the majority of Muslim nations are not yet ready for democracy. Give them another hundred years and we’ll run this experiment again.

It was and still remains a noble experiment, one that may indeed save countless thousands — realistically even millions or billions — of lives, so I’m not as quick to jump ship on the idea. The Bush administration spoke of a period of many years, possibly decades, and the American people were on board; then the period of political sniping and media undermining, coupled with an MTv-type attention span by the American public, undercut the viability of a long-war effort. Unfortunately, the Long War remains to be fought and none of those who have hampered our efforts have provided legitimate alternatives.

I have yet to give up hope on the possible seedings of democracy in our current theaters of operations. Still, I am willing to acknowledge the two alternatives that always stood off-stage ready to enter on cue: surrender, retreat and eventually sacrifice our hopes for our grandchildren’s world , or brutally move forward in a barbaric way that the U.N. and our overly-sensitive Euro “allies” will hate but has historically proven to be the language understood by enemies. The latter is especially valid when we are talking about a culture that seems often to only understand violence. Should our current efforts — grandiose, hopeful for the human spirit and self-limiting in their violent nature — fail upon the rocks of a reality presented us by our enemies and those who refuse to stand against them, then I will return to my initial reaction after 9/11. I will again want blood, and I mean blood in mass quantities. This time around, though, that want will stem from a calmer notion than revenge; instead it will stem from a rational approach toward the only remaining means for the survivability of Western civilization as we know and love it.

I just haven’t thrown in the towel on the nice approach yet. After that, should it truly fail, then cry havoc and unleash all that phrase bloodily entails.

There should be nothing agreeable about warfare. God forbid that I should recommend brutality, but we face facts like men. It is not a trade for a philosopher.

—Prince de Linge, of Austria

10/2/2006

New Legislation May Pull Plug on Online Gambling

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:51 pm

In a word, stupid.

The $12 billion online gambling industry could turn into a house of cards now that the Congress has passed a law banning the use of credit cards, checks and electronic fund transfers for Internet gaming, industry experts warn.

President Bush is expected to sign the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which makes it illegal for banks, credit card companies and online payment systems to process payment to online gambling companies.

Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee tacked the bill on to the popular Safe Port Act bill on Saturday, before Congress went into recess for November’s elections.

The surprise passage of the law threw the online gambling industry into a tailspin Monday. Shares of publicly traded companies PartyGaming, Sportingbet and 888 Holdings tumbled in heavy trading on the London Stock Exchange, wiping out nearly $8 billion in market value. PartyGaming, the world’s largest online-gambling company, said it will stop taking bets from 920,000 active U.S. customers as soon as Bush signs the proposed law. Sportingbet said it is calling off its bid for World Gaming.

Shares in the publicly traded PartyGaming plunged 60% to 81 cents on the British market and 888 Holdings said it is suspending online betting operations in the USA. Its shares tanked 48% to $1.42 on the British market.

Sportingbet, which gleans more than half its business in the USA, said the bill’s impact is unclear. Sportingbet shares slumped 67% to $1.12 on the British market.

“This develop is a significant setback for our company, our shareholders, our players and our industry,” said Mitch Garber, PartyGaming’s CEO.

The federal government has been cracking down on Internet betting on sports, poker and other casino games that it considers illegal under the 1961 Wire Act. Considering that American bettors generate 50%-60% of industrywide revenue, many operators will be forced to either cash in their chips and go out of business or sell or merge with another provider, experts say.

Roughly half the estimated 500 companies operating 2,300 gambling websites across the Caribbean, Central America and Europe could be wiped out, predicts Sue Schneider, publisher of Interactive Gaming News. The survivors will have to make do on sharply reduced revenue, while seeking ways around the U.S. ban and building up their business in Asia.

After the bill is signed, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will have 270 days to determine how the law will be enforced.

Most credit card companies already ban customers from paying gaming sites as the result of a settlement between New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and several major credit card issuers a few years ago.

[…]

Unfortunately for players, the companies eliminated in the shakeout are more likely to be publicly traded operators that answer to regulators in Britain than privately held firms more likely disappear into the ether of the Web, warns Linda Goldstein, a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

“The upshot is the legislation will drive away larger, more reputable gaming operators, leaving consumers with less reliable options,” says Ken Dreifach, an Internet lawyer who once worked for Spitzer. That could expose consumers to more fraudulent operators, he says.

Some gambling advocates are opting to continue fighting the good fight.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, says he’ll seek congressional support for a legislative exception for online poker, similar to the carve-outs for fantasy sports, horse racing and state lotteries in the proposed law. Bolcerek argues poker is a uniquely American sport, enjoyed by 23 million Americans.

“We believe poker is a skill game that should be separated from other forms of gambling,” he says.

Yeah, good luck with that in the face of a federal government that is only seeking to protect its citizens from themselves. In his own words, Frist makes it abundantly clear that this is his driving motivation behind the legislation.

Gambling is a serious addiction that undermines the family, dashes dreams, and frays the fabric of society. Congress has grappled with this issue for 10 years, and during that time we’ve watched this shadow industry explode.

This is not the Gipper’s GOP, and neither is it the GOP that was spearheaded by Newt Gingrich and his 1994 Contract with America. No, this is the GOP that often sickens me with its big-government ways. Ah, but for a viable, genuinely conservative alternative that would work more resolutely on protecting me from expansionist and murderous radical Islamists than protecting me from going all-in with a low pair. Unfortunately, that certainly ain’t the Democrats.

9/13/2006

A Fight over a Flagpole

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:23 pm

It’s homeowner vs. homeowners’ association, and it looks like the law is now squarely on the side of a man and his flagpole.

President George W. Bush is joined by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R- Md., as he signs H.R. 42, Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005, Monday, July 24, 2006, in the Oval Office of the White House. The bill prevents a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association from denying an owner or resident from displaying the U.S. flag on their residential property within the association.

CJ at A Soldier’s Perspective has the story of Michael Beckett and his ongoing clash with his HOA (hat tip to Tanker Brothers):

However, Michael Beckett, who I met through this site when I wrote THIS post after the act was passed, was recently forced to, again, take down his American flag (watch the video HERE). He had recently put it back up for the first time since September 2002, when he was forced to take it down.

This was a flag that was given to him by a soldier in Afghanistan. The flag accompanied Army SGT Tony Pinto throughout his entire tour and was then given to Michael. The flag is currently framed in the traditional triangular wooden box in his home.

“We have no problem with him displaying the American flag,” Decoster said, “but the problem is with the flag pole. We feel that flag poles, especially outside flag poles, are an obstruction.”

CJ goes on to examine that stance and the law as it was passed. If one feels a need to rally to the flag, if you will, then contact information is also provided.

I find this post particularly useful, as I had just recently contacted our HOA with questions about a flagpole and was surprised at the paperwork they expect me to complete. Hmmm … I think that’s now become a little less likely. As to flagpoles themselves, we saw these at last year’s state fair and were very impressed by their quality and convenience.

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards Dies

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:24 pm

Rest in peace.

Former Gov. Ann Richards, the witty and flamboyant Democrat who went from homemaker to national political celebrity, died Wednesday night after a battle with cancer, a family spokeswoman said. She was 73.

She died at home surrounded by her family, the spokeswoman said.

Richards was found to have esophageal cancer in March and underwent chemotherapy treatments.

[…]

“I did not want my tombstone to read, ‘She kept a really clean house.’ I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, ‘She opened government to everyone,'” Richards said shortly before leaving office in January 1995.

She was governor for one term, losing her re-election bid to Republican George W. Bush.

I may not have agreed much politically with the lady, but I will say that she was quite an icon in the Lone Star political scene and certainly a Texan through and through.

My best wishes to her family.

9/11/2006

9/11: Five Years On

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:45 pm

As I’ve stated repeatedly, Ralph Peters is one of my favorite columnists and writers, dating back to my introduction to his fiction in 1993. In his latest column, Mr. Peters looks optimistically at our progress since the atrocity that was the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on America.

The biggest story since 9/11 is that there hasn’t been an other 9/11. According to our hysterical media culture, everything’s always going wrong. The truth is that we’ve gotten the big things right.

On this fifth anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of thousands of Americans by Islamist fanatics, it’s tempting to settle for grand rhetoric honoring our dead and damning our enemies. But the greatest tribute to those lost on that September morning is what we’ve since achieved.

In this vile political season, with those on the left suggesting that our president’s a worse threat to civilization than Islamist terror, the rest of us should just review what’s happened – and what hasn’t[.]

Mr. Peters’ keystone argument is that we haven’t been hit again on our home front by the murderous Islamist bastards. While this is true, I’ll be the first to admit that this is a rather “iffy” point. First, in some of the few plans we’ve known of meant to strike us here, luck has played a role in their prevention. Second, we have been aided by the terrorists’ apparent post-9/11 love for the long ball, as we are still extremely open prey for a great number of assaults of lesser nature throughout our homeland. Third, this whole keystone rides upon a razor’s edge — one mistake and it’s all gone, while all of the other progress may remain valid but then ignored.

Still, Mr. Peters makes and supports his arguments for progress. I’ll turn them into mere bullet points and leave it to y’all to read the whole column for Mr. Peters’ explanations.

  • Islamist fanatics have not been able to stage a single additional attack on our homeland.
  • Al Qaeda is badly crippled.
  • Terrorists no longer operate in freedom.
  • Our enemies fear our military again.
  • Iraq has become al Qaeda’s Vietnam.
  • We’ve achieved new levels of domestic security without compromising civil liberties.
  • America is much stronger today than we were five years ago.

Mr. Peters then sums up his five-year-later thoughts quite rationally.

Does that mean everything’s perfect? Of course not. As noted above, some terrorists will manage to hit us again. But if attempt No. 500 succeeds, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth stopping the other 499. Yet, after the next attack, we’ll hear no end of trash-talk about how the War on Terror “failed.”

The truth is that we’re winning. Hands down. We just can’t afford to revert to yesteryear’s weakness and indecision.

What should we worry about? Plenty. First, the unscrupulous nature of those in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest silver lining. They’re terror’s cheerleaders. Second, the rabid partisanship infecting our political system – when “getting Bush” is more important than protecting our country, something’s wrong.

A third concern is the Internet’s empowerment of fanatics, conspiracy-theorists and all of the really good haters – on both extremes of the political spectrum. If there’s one thing all responsible citizens, conservative, centrist or liberal, should agree on, it’s that all extremism is un-American.

On a related note, the White House has released its own detailed report of progress over the last five years since that terrible day when radical Islamists succeeded in bringing terror to our shores.

The 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists and Their Poisonous Reach

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:44 pm

Mary Katharine Ham takes a look at the 9/11 conspiracy buffs, those fools who see evil committed before them, deny it and start looking for an even greater, albeit hidden and unsupported, evil at home [hat tip to Jack M. blogging at Ace’s digs].

Flight 77 careened over that same road on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 moments before slamming into the Pentagon and taking the lives of 184 people. Last night, a beam of light shone for each of those victims, rising toward the moon on a clear September night.

Hani Hanjour, a 29-year-old Saudi, flew that plane into the Pentagon in a suicidal strike on the “Great Satan,” America , driven by a sick Islamofascist ideology.

But there are some who don’t believe that. There are some who call that the “official story.” They say they seek the “truth” about what really happened on 9/11. The “truth,” according to them, is that a sinister cabal of neocon politicians arranged for a missile to hit the Pentagon and for a controlled demolition to bring down the Twin Towers.

These neocons killed almost 3,000 Americans in a bid to increase both the power of the Bush administration and the willingness of American citizens to support military action in the Middle East, according to the conspiracy theorists. They subsequently covered it up with the “official story” of bin Laden and 19 hijackers, according to members of the “9/11 Truth Movement.”

The head of this tinfoil hat brigade is Dylan Avery, a 22-year-old conspiracy theorist who has parlayed his creative version of history into two very popular Internet films, “Loose Change” and “Loose Change 2nd Edition.”

Avery and his cohorts’ research, theories, and “evidence” are so laughable that it can be easy to laugh off the movement itself.

Yes, it’s safe to say that that was my reaction for quite some time. In fact, up until this morning I was willing to shrug these fools off as either misled or nuttier than squirrel crap, but we’ll get back to this morning in a bit.

Ms. Ham continues with her reasons for the need to more directly confront these twisted conspiracy ideas.

It’s important for those of us who know what took the lives of 3,000 Americans five years ago today—four commercial planes with full loads of jet fuel and passengers driven by 19 murderous maniacs—to understand that there is a disturbingly large and vocal segment of the American population that doesn’t believe that.

A recent Scripps poll found that more than a third of Americans believe 9/11 was an “inside job.”

Truthers are professors and Democrat candidates for Congress.

The Truthers believe the American government planned and carried out the carnage of Sept. 11 on its own people, and they’re determined to tell the rest of us all about it.

Feel free to read it all, including the linked details of the “truthers.” Ms. Ham’s advice for dealing with the conspiracy theorists and those that have fallen under their sway is simple: aggressively present them with or guide them to the facts of 9/11.

Take some time to watch “Screw Loose Change.” It is long, but it’s worth it to truly understand the dangerous deniers we’re facing in our own country. Read the “Screw Loose Change” blog and Popular Mechanics’ book, “Debunking 9/11 Myths.”

But you might want to hold off until tomorrow. On this day, it will make you too angry.

So why did my view on this matter change this morning, why the sudden urgency to confront these idiots? A key piece of my kick-off-the-day ritual is a perusal of my local paper, which these days is the Dallas Morning News. As part of the paper’s 9/11 opinion page coverage was a collection of thoughts from Dallas-area high school seniors. As I glanced over them, the following header caught my mind and I read one student’s thoughts.

… Conspiracy-minded

In May of my junior year, an online video titled Loose Change became a sensation. The documentary basically stated that the attacks were a hoax masterminded by a secret government conspiracy. Sounds a little far-fetched, right?

Well, the students in my Advanced Placement American history class began questioning the legitimacy of Sept. 11. This class was college-level and filled with high-achieving students. It’s a shame when our future leaders begin to see the “land of the free, home of the brave” as a destructive place that perversely kills its own citizens.

Kind of makes me want to cry all over again.

Lela Atwood, Naaman Forest High School, Garland

These dangerously idiotic and undermining “truths” are apparently being discussed openly during class at Naaman Forest High School, and discussed in such a manner that students are left unsure or even believing them. As scary as that is in and of itself were it to be anywhere in the great U.S. of A., that school is only 3.7 miles from my home and, should my wife and I have children and not move, would be the public school option for my family.

That surpasses frightening and reaches into disgusting. The conspiracy fools must be confronted — facts must address shady twistings into demented “truths.”

After all, I believe that children are our future; teach them well and let them not become demented, misled fruitcakes.

9/6/2006

Bush Puts 9/11 Suspects in Gitmo, Congress on the Spot

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:44 pm

President Bush gave what seems to be an important speech today that may prove to be a key turning point in our nation’s policy against Islamist terrorists.

Just a few days shy of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, President Bush invoked the shock of that day, and the fears it unleashed, to drop some eye-opening news Wednesday: 14 of the world’s most vile suspected terrorists have been transferred from secret CIA prisons abroad to Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

In a midday White House speech, the president acknowledged for the first time the existence of the CIA prisons, where the 14 suspects, including the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 plot, had been held. He said that under tough questioning, the suspects had given up information that helped stop several, mostly familiar, plots — from a plan to fly jetliners into London’s Heathrow Airport to one to blow up the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. And he said the suspects were being transferred so they could be tried under the administration’s proposed military tribunal system, to be created by legislation he sent to Congress Wednesday and hoped lawmakers would approve this month.

The speech was largely in part political theater, the opening act of the Republicans’ fall strategy of flexing their anti-terrorism muscles. It cast doubt on any and all who question Bush’s strategy, including the Supreme Court. Even so, there was much in Bush’s remarks on which all sides could agree: There should be clear guidelines for the treatment and questioning of detainees. If U.S. interrogators abide by those guidelines, they shouldn’t have to worry about being sued by terror suspects or prosecuted. And, most certainly, it is time to try suspected terrorists who plotted against the nation and bring them to justice.

The hard part, as it has been always been, is finding a way to balance the need to protect the nation against terrorists without compromising its values. How can information be extracted from terror suspects without endangering American troops who become prisoners? How can terror suspects be put on trial fairly without giving them access to classified information that might reveal confidential informants?

These are difficult questions over which well-intentioned people disagree. Sadly, many of the Bush administration’s policies on the treatment of prisoners, and its proposals to prosecute them, have hurt America’s image abroad and been of dubious legality — a fact now cemented in law.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the administration’s controversial system of military commissions, asserting that they violated U.S. military law and the Geneva Conventions for dealing with prisoners of war. The problem, the court found, was not just the tribunals but Bush’s insistence that he could go it alone, without the checks and balances the Constitution prescribes. If Bush wants to keep the commissions, the justices said, he’ll have to fix those problems and persuade Congress to go along.

Of course, bringing the most notorious al-Qaeda prisoners to Guantanamo is designed to pressure Congress into approving the administration’s hard-line approach. But, at the same time, the administration is at least grudgingly expressing a new willingness to work with Congress to devise a new system.

Dr. Rusty has the full transcript.

Captain Ed has some excellent analysis, including the following:

So why reveal the program now and transfer the detainees from the CIA to the DoD? For one thing, the CIA apparently feels that these plotters have been tapped out in terms of operational intelligence. Also, with the Hamdan decision, he cannot set up secret military commissions to try them. The court tasked Congress with establishing the tribunals for all non-POWs in custody — POWs don’t get trials or courts-martial except for crimes they commit while in custody — and Bush has to wait on Congress to act.

He obviously does not want to wait long. He has already promulgated some rules of evidence and procedure to Congress, and the Hill has found much with which they disagree.

Meanwhile, Ace live-blogged it and quickly seized on the true intent of the speech.

Wants Congress To Repudiate Supreme Court Decision On Granting Geneva Protections For Terrorists: Congress must list the “specific, recognizable offenses” that will invoke a War Crimes prosecution against interrogators.

Nice. Make Congress specifically say what is illegal — and, by their omission, what is legal.

Congress dare not make belly-slapping illegal.

Put up or shut up.

Still, one must wonder just how much pressure Congress, and especially its democrat members, will actually endure if the media feels no need to press the issue. Already, the media seems to be congealing on a different aspect of the story, as the following headlines show:

Question: if a gauntlet is thrown down and there’s no one around except those that refuse to hear it, does it really make a soundbite?

9/2/2006

DMN to Rumsfeld: Do As We Say

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:48 pm

… not as we do.

The lead editorial in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News was a scathing admonition to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld which accused him of playing politics with the war in Iraq.

Trying to put wind into the flagging sails of their Iraq policy, President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld played good cop-bad cop in speeches to the American Legion convention this week. Yesterday Mr. Bush said of war critics, “Many of these folks are sincere and they’re patriotic, but they could not be more wrong.” But two days before, Mr. Rumsfeld portrayed journalists as fifth columnists and compared the administration’s opponents to appeasers of Adolf Hitler.

Given how badly the war is going and how even some leading conservatives are publicly questioning our mission in Iraq, the president has no choice but to go on the rhetorical offensive. But the defense secretary’s crude speech was, to put it with extreme delicacy, not helpful to the cause.

Invoking Hitler is designed not to invite understanding but to obscure it for the sake of manipulation. If it really is 1938 all over again, then there’s only one thing we can do: Go to war with all we’ve got. The Hitler analogy is not necessarily wrong, but it is so freighted with historical memory that it compels the war conclusion. It puts those who invoke it in the Churchill position, and portrays those who disagree as jelly-spined Chamberlains.

Mr. Rumsfeld also deployed a phalanx of straw men and allegations in an effort to discredit critics. Aside from the Cindy Sheehan crowd, who in this country is advocating that we should appease terrorists? What serious person is arguing that “America, not the enemy … is the source of the world’s troubles”?

The secretary also accused the news media of being more interested in dividing America than in uniting it, accusing journalists of having a “Blame America First” attitude. Singling out the messenger is an old and often successful strategy, but the dismal facts on the ground are really responsible for a majority of Americans losing faith in the Iraq war.

Mr. Bush is certainly correct that success in Iraq is vital to U.S. national security. Given the seriousness of the stakes, it is deeply dismaying to see the defense secretary playing partisan politics with a cause so critical.

America really does need unity of purpose to do right by Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld’s simple-minded rhetoric surely will stoke the shrinking pro-war base, but it will do nothing to help win this war.

Never mind that the DMN editorial staff appears to be working from the Associated Press’ version of Rumsfeld’s speech.

Never mind that the editorial does not bother to support its claim about how “badly the war in Iraq is going,” assuming that the reader must agree because the DMN’s coverage would give no reason to believe otherwise. After all, the paper did not tell its readers about progress in Iraq involving local assumption of responsibility for the Iraqi NCO academy, the large extent to which Iraqi forces now lead the security situations, or the recent and dramatic reduction in civilian deaths.

No, never mind all of that. Let’s just take a look at the editorial’s headline:

Keep Politics Out of Iraq

What a great idea. It’s too bad that hypocrites at the DMN cannot keep up this standard. In fact, in the print edition, they couldn’t keep it up for one freakin’ inch as not even that far away from the headline was the following political cartoon by Tom Toles of the Washington Post.

Toles' Attack on Rummy

That is most assuredly a political attack on Rumsfeld based on the perception of Iraq that the media has created. And it most assuredly less than an inch from the headline telling Rumsfeld to leave politics out of Iraq.

Less than an inch — that’s about how far the Dallas Morning News editorial board can be trusted to avoid hypocrisy.

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