Fred Speaks For Himself

Fred's had some recent troubles getting his words through the lefty media, so he does what he's done before--slips right past them and speaks out for himself, directly to the voters. I, who came of political age in the era of Reagan, think he sounds quite Reaganesque, and not just because he invokes the Gipper in his speech.

Uh-oh, Part II

This report can't be very good for Musharraf:

Benazir Bhutto was so fearful for her life that she tried to hire British and American security experts to protect her, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

But the plans collapsed because President Pervez Musharraf refused to allow the foreign contractors to operate in Pakistan, according to senior aides.

"She asked to bring in trained security personnel from abroad," said Mark Siegel, her US representative. "In fact she and her husband repeatedly tried to get visas for such protection, but they were denied by the government of Pakistan."

Did Musharraf deliberately deny the visas in order to keep Bhutto vulnerable? Inquiring minds want to know.

More on Pakistan

Mark Steyn lays his finger on one of the biggest problems in Pakistan:

It’s easy to tell Musharraf what he should do. Over one thousand Pakistani soldiers have been killed fighting Islamists in Waziristan and other tribal lands. That would be a lot even for an army solidly behind Musharraf. But in Pakistan every institution charged with “relentlessly hunting down terrorists” has, to one degree or another, been subverted by them: Pakistan’s military – the least corrupt agency in the country – and its intelligence service, the ISI, are both riddled with Islamist sympathizers. As Churchill noted, the British had a fondness for the more bloodcurdling Pushtun warriors: In 1939, for example, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Sanders accepted an invitation to tikala (lunch) from the tribesman who’d blown him up. The Pushtun apologized for costing the Colonel his right arm, and the Colonel accepted the apology and raised his glass in a presumably left-handed toast, and they got on splendidly and had a whale of a time. But a mutual respect between combatants is very different from the ties that bind Taliban leaders in Waziristan with elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence service: Two groups, nominally at war with each other, nevertheless share indistinguishable views on the joys of hardline sharia and the wickedness of the United States.
Read the whole thing--link, as usual, in the title. Really.

Double Standards 'R' Us

NASHUA, N.H. -- Former president Bill Clinton yesterday delivered in stark terms a version of his wife's central campaign message: that her experience in Washington better prepares her to "deal with the unexpected."

Addressing more than 100 supporters at a VFW hall here Saturday, Clinton used the strongest language he has so far in the campaign to describe the threats facing the nation, making an oblique reference to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and saying that the "most important thing of all" in selecting a nominee is the question of who could best manage unforeseen catastrophes.

"You have to have a leader who is strong and commanding and convincing enough . . . to deal with the unexpected," he said. "There is a better than 50 percent chance that sometime in the first year or 18 months of the next presidency, something will happen that is not being discussed in this campaign. President Bush never talked about Osama bin Laden and didn't foresee Hurricane Katrina. And if you're not ready for that, then everything else you do can be undermined. You need a president that you trust to deal with something that we will not discuss in this campaign. . . . And I think, on this score, she's the best of all."

Hmmm... I thought even hinting at 9/11 was off-limits for someone like Giuliani or McCain... but let a Clinton do it, and that's just fine with the lefties.

Must be hard to keep those two sets of standards straight.



This can't be good:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States condemned an attack that killed Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, a U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.

"The attack shows that there are still those in Pakistan trying to undermine reconciliation and democratic development in Pakistan," the official said.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Still ruminating on what the outcome(s) might be, but I figured I'd get this out there for comment.


Iraqi Woman Walks Again

Fair warning: If you think that the American Armed Forces are made up of people that are barely one step above Neanderthals, you might not want to read this article... the crushing of a stereotype can be very painful, and I want to save you the agony.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – Standing upright and walking on her own is something 20-year-old Soham Hassan Ka-Naan, a young woman from Khargulia, never thought she would be able to do again.

After receiving her second prosthetic leg Dec. 20 at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Soham was able to walk upright with the assistance of crutches.

Soldiers of Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division found Soham in July, after an insurgent rocket attack hit her house, amputating both of her legs. Since then, she has undergone multiple trips to the 28th CSH for surgery, prosthetic fittings and physical therapy.

The journey was a painful one according to Soham; however, her final fitting leaves her pain free with two prosthetic legs. One of the legs fills in the missing calf and foot on her left leg, and the other extends from the beginning of her right hip.

“I am very happy, I have no pain,” she said through a translator. “I feel normal again.”
The Blackfive article (link in the title) includes a picture, and her smile says it all. A job well done, ladies and gentlemen. Give yourselves a pat on the back.

Peace March in Baghdad

Got bad news for all those nattering nabobs of negativism who say that there is no hope for Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites to live together in peace:

BAGHDAD — Approximately 1,000 Iraqi citizens, of both Shia and Sunni religions, joined together on the sectarian fault line in Rawaniyah, the Karkh District of Baghdad, to march with one another in what they called a “Peace March”, Dec. 19.

It was an Iraqi initiative to ease sectarian tensions, solely driven by Iraqi Neighborhood Council (NAC) and District Advisory Council (DAC) leaders and Sheiks from both religious sects in the area, said Capt. Marcus Melton, commander of Pale Horse Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

With Iraqi Army and Iraqi policemen maintaining the security on the streets and within the crowd during the event, they were able to successfully complete the march for united peace among all Iraqis.

Drums beat, children ran, silly string littered the air and one man nearly wept. It was an exciting, yet emotional day for the Iraqis who participated.

Just one more way the lefties have been wrong about Iraq.

Merry Christmas, lefties!


Christmas in America

General George Washington--the first George W.--gave us a Christmas gift that many people don't know about. It's too good to excerpt, so just read it at the link in the title.

Christmas Blessings

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:8-11, NKJV.


Yes, Virginia, There Really Was a Scrooge

Fascinating stuff--to me at least:

He is synonymous with the traditional image of the Victorian English Christmas but Ebenezer Scrooge may have his roots much further afield.

According to Sjef de Jong, a Dutch academic, the Charles Dickens character may have been inspired by the real life of Gabriel de Graaf, a 19th century gravedigger who lived in Holland.

De Graaf, a drunken curmudgeon obsessed with money, was said to have disappeared one Christmas Eve, only to emerge years later as a reformed character.

Read the whole thing at the link in the title.

And as Tiny Tim said, God bless us--everyone.

It's Christmas Eve!

And that means it's time for Norad's Santa Tracker!

While you're there, don't forget to stop by the Why We Track Santa page for the story on how it all got started.


The Jihad Is Over

At least according to one Al Qaeda imam:

WASHINGTON — One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims."

In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the early raids of the Ansar warriors. The lapsed jihadist even calls for the formation of a special Islamic court to try Osama bin Laden and his old comrade Ayman al-Zawahri.

The disclosures from Mr. Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl and Abd al-Qadir ibn Abd al-Aziz, have already opened a rift at the highest levels of Al Qaeda. The group's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, a former associate of the defecting theologian in Egypt, personally mocked him last month in a video, remarking that he was unaware Egyptian prisons had fax machines. Meanwhile, leading Western analysts are saying the defection of Mr. Sharif indicates the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.

So who is this guy?

Mr. Sharif, currently serving a life sentence in an undisclosed Egyptian prison, wrote in the 1980s two of the modern seminal texts for Sunni jihadism and in particular Al Qaeda, in "Fundamental Concepts Regarding Jihad" and "The Five Ground Rules for the Achieving of Victory or Its Absence." Those books are scholarly justifications, citing the Koran and Hadiths, for joining a war against Muslim apostates such as the Egyptian ruling class and for a broader jihad against the far enemy of America.

Oh, Senator Reid... do you still think the war is lost? Senator Edwards, is the war on terror still a bumper sticker?


Hillary's Donors

More is coming out about people who've given money to Hillary:

The New York Times, which has discovered the identity of 97 donors who together gave or pledged $69 million early on, reports some of the million-dollar donors sought changes in policies and two of them were under Justice Department probes.

With the presidential election approaching, Clinton Foundation donations skyrocketed last year to $135 million, 70% more than the year before, with two-thirds of the booty from only 11 donors.

So much for Bill and Hil's populist image.

The former president steadfastly refused to reveal the donors' identities — including one super-rich donor giving $31.3 million.

We can certainly now see why. The $31-million-dollar man turned out to be Canadian mining mogul and founder of Lionsgate Entertainment (distributor of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11") Frank Giustra, who plans to give another $100 million, plus half his future earnings.

Foreign contributions to presidential campaigns are illegal, but foreigners such as Giustra can anonymously give as much as they like to presidential foundations. So can the Saudi royal family, the king of Morocco, a United Arab Emirates foundation, and the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, all of whom reportedly gave undisclosed amounts to the Clinton Foundation.

That should make for interesting Mideast policy under Hillary.

Here at home, Anheuser-Busch gave $1 million after the Clinton administration's Federal Trade Commission agreed not to regulate beer, wine and liquor ads.

Chicago bankruptcy lawyer William A. Brandt Jr. pledged $1 million in 1999 as the Justice Department investigated whether he lied about using a big-money fundraiser for Clinton's 1996 re-election to lobby a top bankruptcy official. Later that year, Clinton's Justice Department cleared Brandt, who has since given big to Hil-lary's (sic) campaign.

When Loral Space and Communications' then-chairman, Bernard Schwartz, agreed to give $1 million in 2000, the firm was being investigated over whether it gave satellite technology to China. Under the Bush administration, Loral agreed to a $14 million fine.

Other million-dollar contributors got themselves deals on things like Medicare reimbursements for hospitals in Puerto Rico and special treatment on cell phone licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. One is an Iranian-born aviation executive who provided military equipment to Tehran during Iran-Contra.

Then there's the notorious income tax fugitive Marc Rich, pardoned by Bill after his ex-wife, Denise, gave $450,000 to the Clinton Library.

Corruption, thy name is Clinton.

More Alleged Push Polling

Here we go again...

Presidential candidate John McCain asked yesterday for an investigation of thousands of calls to New Hampshire voters disparaging the Republican senator and supporting rival Mike Huckabee.

In a letter to the New Hampshire attorney general's office, McCain's campaign accused a Colorado-based nonprofit, Common Sense Issues, of illegally conducting push polling, which is asking questions intended to influence voters while pretending to take a poll.

"This push poll disparages John McCain, while, at the same time, urging support for Governor Huckabee," McCain adviser Chuck Douglas wrote. "We demand a full inquiry into these distressing and illegal calls."

Common Sense Issues responded that New Hampshire law doesn't apply to presidential primaries, only to other elections.

"This law isn't applicable to us," said Patrick Davis, the group's executive director. "This is a headline-grabbing release. I'm not surprised this is coming from the McCain campaign. . . . This is pretty straightforward. They didn't read the law."

The state law regulating push-polling says the caller must identify the candidate he is working for or against. Deputy Attorney General Bud Fitch said the law specifically exempts primary campaigns.

Common Sense Issues favors Huckabee but does not explicitly say so in the calls, which are similar to ones being made in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida.

Voters are asked if they know that McCain was part of a group "that derailed the nominations of 14 conservative judicial nominees." The callers also ask voters if they know McCain limited the free-speech rights of anti-abortion groups and pushed for campaign finance legislation.

First it was anti-Romney calls, now anti-McCain calls... Huckabee has been all over Romney for his religion (which is interesting when one considers how Huckabee responds to questions about his own record), which raises a suspicion in my mind... is it truly the Huckabee campaign behind this, and if it is, was it also Huckabee behind the anti-Romney push-polls?

This one is far from over, folks, and could really destroy the Huckabee campaign. Unfortunately, the failure of Huckabee could cause future problems for Christian candidates... I'm still ruminating on those effects, so more on that later.


Novak Sees Hope For Fred

The latest Evans-Novak Political Report has some interesting tidbits about Fred (bold in original):

Thompson has far more upside potential than any other Republican, and he is spending the entire final stretch in the Hawkeye State. Thompson has perhaps the most broadly conservative record of any candidate besides the three congressmen (see below). Many conservative Iowans currently settling for Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee (or planning a protest vote of sorts for one of the congressmen) could certainly jump on board with Thompson. If he defies his reputation as a lazy worker, he could make a spectacular surge here.

Huckabee's high poll numbers and big leads do not guarantee a victory. He has nowhere near the campaign team, organization or money of runner-up Romney. As media scrutiny is finally arriving, he could be in trouble. Still, he is likable, and his openness about his Christianity plays very well among some blocs in the GOP.

Many Iowa Republicans like Huckabee because he comes across as genuine, especially in comparison to Romney. This is soft support that could bail to Thompson if he rises or to another candidate if Huckabee's negatives continue to surface.

Immigration is a big issue for Iowa Republicans, and Huckabee's support of state-subsidized education for illegal immigrants hurts him. His big-government record turns off some voters but is not a factor for some of his core supporters.

Huckabee's dig at Mormons in Sunday's New York Times magazine has turned off some Republican voters as dirty, bigoted or just politically dumb. This is the sort of thing that could bring him down.


This battle will hinge on Thompson's performance down the stretch. If he excels, he could draw down Huckabee's support significantly, and maybe Romney's, too. If Thompson is as uninspired as he has been to date, Huckabee will probably win.

The most likely result at this point appears to be a slight Thompson surge at Huckabee's expense, leaving Romney in first place and either Thompson or Huckabee in second. Leaning Romney.

In other words, don't count Fred out yet.


I Couldn't Have Taken Ron Paul Apart Better Myself

Professor Bainbridge takes apart Ron Paul's candidacy in a way I wish I'd done myself. It's one of those hard articles to excerpt, so just click the link in the title and read it for yourself.

By the way, Bainbridge points out his blog's comment policy, in part (or in toto) because of the well-documented online antics of the Ronulans. Therefore, permit me to remind everyone that my comment policy is posted here, and that it includes my right to delete or edit any post for any reason... and it's a sad thing when I have to remind the followers of any candidate about policies like that.

Huck's Christmas Ad

Opinions seem to be mixed--even within one online publication--among conservatives about whether Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad will prove a net gain for his campaign, or a loss.

I, personally, come down on the latter side. Jim Geraghty explains it thus:

But it's worth noting that too much talk about Jesus in a political context can make folks look skeptically even on utterly innocuous uses of His name.
I would phrase it a bit differently... it seems to this lay preacher that Reverend Huckabee is turning what should be one of the holiest days in the year into a campaign sound bite. And, honestly, I agree it is likely to increase the skepticism overall, and that can't be good for Huck.

Bottom line, Huck is talking too much Jesus and not enough policy for a political election, and I think it will backfire on him. If he were running for, say, Archbishop of Washington or High Priest of America, it would be different, but the office of the Presidency is a secular, not religious, office.

Someone needs to remind Huck about that.


THE Quote of the Week

From the pen--or is it keyboard these days?--of Mark Steyn:

This is the time of year, as Hillary Clinton once put it, when Christians celebrate “the birth of a homeless child” — or, in Al Gore’s words, “a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child.”

Just for the record, Jesus wasn’t “homeless.” He had a perfectly nice home back in Nazareth. But he happened to be born in Bethlehem. It was census time and Joseph was obliged to schlep halfway across the country to register in the town of his birth. Which is such an absurdly bureaucratic over-regulatory cockamamie Big Government nightmare it’s surely only a matter of time before Massachusetts or California reintroduce it.
The sad part is, he's got a point.


Huckabee's Pardongate

It's not just Wayne Dumond... there appears to really be something there:

Over the course of more than a decade as governor, Huckabee granted over 1,000 commutations and pardons, and they’re currently being examined closely by journalists. The latest to draw national attention is a commutation of Eugene Fields, who had multiple drunk-driving convictions.

The question is if there was there a connection between his wife Glenda Fields’s five-figure political donations and Huckabee’s action. On April 14, 2004, then-Gov. Huckabee commuted the sentence of Mr. Fields — then a four-time driving-while-intoxicated offender — granting him early release from prison. Fields, a resident of the western Arkansas town of Van Buren, was a habitual offender. He had already been convicted of DWIs in 1996, 1998, and 2000, but his 2001 felony-DWI conviction resulted in the maximum six-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine.
Read the whole thing... link is in the title, as usual.

What is it about Arkansas governors?


VDH Debunks Conventional Wisdom on Iraq

Military historian Victor Davis Hanson takes on several of the more common canards about Iraq and the broader war on terror, and tears them to shreds.

Washington is an echo chamber. One pundit, one senator, one reporter proclaim a snazzy “truth” and almost immediately it reverberates as gospel. Conventional wisdom about Iraq is rarely questioned. A notion seems to find validity not on its logic or through empirical evidence, but simply by the degree to which it is repeated and felt to resonate.
Read the whole thing--link is in the title, as usual--and bookmark it for quick reference when debating a lefty.


Victory a Non-Story

Did you see this story in the news today?

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan and NATO-led troops killed, wounded and detained hundreds of insurgents during fighting in the Taliban's biggest stronghold, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

Musa Qala, in the southern province of Helmand, took on a symbolic importance after the Taliban seized it in February following the breakdown of a much-criticized local truce that allowed besieged British troops to pull out of the town in October last year.

Thousands of Afghan and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops captured the town on Tuesday after one of the biggest operations the Afghan army has carried out.

"During the successful operation by ISAF and Afghan troops in Musa Qala, hundreds of insurgents including several commanders and tens of foreign fighters have been either killed, wounded or detained," Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi told a news conference.

I bet you didn't. I had to go digging for it, tipped off by an item in Investor's Business Daily.

Seems that victory in the war against Islamofascism isn't newsworthy.

And the leftymedia wonder why people aren't trusting them for news any more.


Good Ol' Arkansas Ethics

Looks like the former governor of the great state of Arkansas has had questions raised about some gifts that he received while in office.

"there are reports that Huckabee received hundreds of gifts as governor the value of which exceeded $100,000 in one year. One of the donors apparently was appointed to a state commission. Huckabee and his wife also registered for gifts as they were planning to leave the governor's mansion and move into a home they had recently purchased. In a related matter, Huckabee removed the drapes from the governor's mansion when he left.

There was no violation here; the drapes had been one of the many gifts. As a friend from Arkansas told me, Huckabee wasn't a corrupt governor; just a tacky one."

You can take the politician out of Arkansas...

Columbian Trade Deal Gets a Boost

Even though some Congressional Democrats are still opposing a trade deal with Columbia, there are signs that it may be coming to an end:

It matters little to them that Colombian trade unionists arrived this week from Colombia to urge passage of the pact that will beef up Colombia's unions. They want to punish an ally to show they still matter. Many obedient Democrats may still be in their pocket.

But two events this week may change that.

First, the captains of American industry stepped forward, urging Congress with one voice to extend the pact to Colombia. "Congress' vote on the U.S.-Colombia (pact) will shape the next decade of America's engagement with our hemisphere," the 19 chief executives wrote in a Dec. 11 letter. It was sponsored by the Emergency Committee for American Trade, representing CEOs from Microsoft, Citibank, McGraw-Hill, GM, Oracle, Intel, Coca-Cola, 3M, Procter & Gamble, Target, Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil, companies that together employ six million Americans.

Hopefully, that might just focus minds in Congress.

In fact, some of these companies — such as Citibank, Oracle, Target, and Microsoft — have leaders associated with Democratic causes and campaigns.

But it's not just about big business or big labor. As the Office of the U.S Trade Representative has noted, the U.S. now has about $16 billion in trade with Colombia, $6.7 billion of that in exports. More than 8,000 U.S. businesses sell to that country. Those businesses aren't the big boys: 84% are small and midsize firms.

Latin America is a fast-growing market. With businesses of all sizes speaking up for the Colombia pact, change may be in the offing.

Peru is the other helpful factor.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe made a spectacular state visit to Peru on Dec. 11. Not only did the leader get the red-carpet welcome, he got a big pledge from Peruvian President Alan Garcia to help his old ally get free trade.

"I want to say to everyone, Peruvians and especially to Colombians: This treaty of free trade that Peru has signed with the U.S. will not be complete until Colombia has signed the free trade treaty with the United States," Garcia declared.

Because Garcia is headed to Washington to sign the free trade agreement on Friday, it is likely he will urge congress to sign off on the Colombia pact, too.

Since the two trade pacts are essentially identical, it doesn't make much sense to agree to one and not the other... and if the Congressional Republicans are smart, they'll point this out loudly and often, to raise domestic support for the bill.


A Muslim You Need To Meet

National Review has posted an interview--part one of three--with an American Muslim who has some interesting things to say:

A native of Wisconsin and the son of Syrian immigrants, joining the United States military was natural. I was raised to appreciate American freedom which guaranteed my right to life, liberty, and the practice of my personal faith of Islam, like in no so-called Muslim country. My grandfather used to talk about how the devastation of Syria brought by the military coups and the Baathists, and ultimately by Hafez Assad, was allowed to happen because moderate freedom-loving Syrians abandoned the military to the thugs, who ultimately repeatedly savaged the country, before entrenching the Assad family despots for generations.

I have always been a devout practicing Muslim maintaining a central personal spiritual relationship with God in my life. I have also held true to the importance of spiritual practices in my life including fasting, daily prayer, scriptural recitation, charity, community worship, and personal integrity. As a result, I have often been asked by the local communities in which I have lived, to speak about Islam, its role in my life, and my understanding of its history. Well, before 9/11, in the 1980s, as I found myself frustrated by the politicization of many but not all of the Muslim communities in which I participated, I began to focus on the main problem I experienced — the harmful impact of political Islam upon the practice of Islam in America. I slowly began to absorb as much information as I could about Salafism, Wahhabism, and its associated extremist ideology. I looked into the history and workings of the Muslim Brotherhood in America and realized that at some point anti-Islamists were going to need to take them on to rescue our faith from their clutches.

While I have never heard violence preached in any mosque I attended, I did hear conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and radical politics which often predominated instead of a focus on spirituality, humility, and moral courage. This led to a regular struggle with many, but not all, of the clerical leadership in many of the Muslim communities in which I have lived and participated. My refrain for decades has been to them, “why do you impose your Islamist agenda upon the congregants of your mosque who come to worship God, atone, and learn God’s scripture. Most of us don’t come to mosque to blame the world for our own maladies or to listen to your own political agenda.” I tried to intellectually counter them from within the community, but did so to no avail. For who was I to question clerical authority and interpretations? Who was I to take away their bully pulpit for Islamism?
Read the whole thing... the link, as usual, is in the title of this post.


NBC: No "Thank You" for the Troops - Updated and Bumped

It's truly sad that this story has to appear on Pearl Harbor Day:

WASHINGTON — NBC has nixed holiday advertisements meant to thank troops for serving overseas in opposition to the inclusion of a non-profit's Web address.

The ads, paid for by the non-profit Freedom's Watch, are a simple thank you, the group says, with people shown paying gratitude to members of the military and the final frame showing the group's Web address, www.freedomswatch.org.

Click here and here to view the ads that NBC won't air.

NBC is refusing to air the ads as long as the address is included, according to an e-mail exchange between NBC and the group, which Freedom's Watch provided to FOX News.

"Per my previous email, the www.freedomswatch.org website will have to be redacted from the commercials for approval. This comes from Alan Wurtzel and Rick Cotton," according to one of the notes.

Wurtzel is president of research at NBC. Rick Cotton is general counsel for NBC Universal.

Well, I don't have any NBC censors here, so I will say it:

To all our vets, past and present, Democrat or Republican or Third-Party, Christian or Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist, atheist or Other... THANK YOU.

Update and BUMP: NBC blinks.

WASHINGTON (AP) — NBC reversed course Saturday and decided to air a conservative group's television ad thanking U.S. troops.

The ad, by the group Freedom's Watch, asks viewers to remember the troops during the holiday season. NBC had refused to air the ad because it guides viewers to the Freedom's Watch Web site, which NBC said was too political.

But in a statement issued Saturday evening, NBC said:

"We have reviewed and changed our ad standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site. Based on these amended standards the Freedom's Watch ad will begin to run as early as Sunday."

NBC' head of standards and practices, Alan Wurtzel, notified Freedom's Watch's media consultant Saturday by e-mail, writing: "This will confirm that the Freedom's Watch spot is approved for air."

Freedom's Watch President Bradley A. Blakeman welcomed the decision. "We're actually very happy that NBC has agreed to change its position because it will only help the troops be properly thanked," he said.

Score one for the good guys.


Of Course You Know, This Means War!


Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release December 8, 2007



According to news reports today, House and Senate Democratic leaders are nearing agreement among themselves on a mammoth omnibus spending bill, two-and-a-half months after the end of the last fiscal year.

Although the Administration has not seen the legislation, according to press reports it would include 18 billion in additional domestic and emergency spending above the President’s budget. When added to emergency domestic spending Congress already included in the Defense Appropriations bill, this so-called compromise would result in more excess spending than even the Democrats’ original budget included.

This is not fiscally responsible. Our economic growth and job creation cannot be taken for granted, and Congress should not burden taxpayers with billions of dollars in additional wasteful spending.

Press reports also suggest that the Democrats in Congress believe this excessive spending is the price for providing a fraction of the funding requested for our troops in the field. Instead of trying to leverage troop-funding for more pork-barrel spending, Congress ought to pass responsible appropriations bills and the funding for the troops our commanders say they need to build on their battlefield successes.

If presented a bill like the one described in today’s press reports, the President would veto it. If Congress insists on sending the President a budget-busting bill they know he will veto and that will not become law, they should also pass a continuing resolution that keeps the government running and provides the troops in the field the funds they need without disrupting the operations of the Department of Defense and the lives of hundreds of thousands of its employees and men and women in uniform.

Fred Gambles

Fred, for good or for ill, has decided to risk everything on Iowa:

Des Moines, Iowa
FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR Fred Thompson has decided to take his campaign and virtually all of its resources to Iowa in an all-or-nothing attempt to register a strong showing in the caucuses here on January 3. "We're getting ready to make this not only our second home, but our first home," he told a small gathering of supporters at the Polk County Convention Center on Friday night. Thompson and his wife Jeri chatted with the crowd before making their way through the exhibits at the Iowa Farm Bureau's annual meeting in downtown Des Moines.

Beginning Monday, December 17, Thompson will launch a bus tour that will take him throughout the state. From the beginning of that trip through caucus night, Thompson will essentially live in Iowa, taking only a one-day trip out of the state to celebrate Christmas at his home in Virginia.

This is kind of reminiscent of the way he first won his Senate seat, by hopping in an old pickup truck and touring Tennessee in it.

Let's hope his gamble pays off this time.


Five Still Serve

Not much I can add to this:

PEARL HARBOR — They are the ironmen of their generation, living through Dec. 7, 1941, and the World War that followed, and defying the pitfalls of age and health into their 80s and 90s.

The five Pearl Harbor survivors who regularly volunteer at the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center here, talking and joking with tourists and signing autographs, may have lost a step or two, but not their wit.

"He's the old man right here," Alfred Rodrigues, 87, said while cocking his head toward Herb Weatherwax. "How old are you, Dad?"

Weatherwax, sitting at the same table, stated that he's 90.

"It's been 90 beautiful years. Beautiful," Weatherwax said. That excludes some dark times, though, such as witnessing the destruction of Pearl Harbor and Wheeler Army Airfield.

When a 55-year-old woman from New Jersey swoops over, plants a kiss on Rodrigues' cheek and says "Thank you" and starts to walk away, Weatherwax chimes in, "Hey, come back!" widening his ever-present smile.

That's how it goes when the aging survivors are holding court. They are a dwindling resource whose presence has become that much more precious as their ranks have thinned.


The five regular volunteers come from both Navy and Army ranks. According to a National Park Service brochure:

•Robert Kinzler was in the 25th Infantry Division. During the attack, his company was ordered to take up a position at Roosevelt High School, and Kinzler saw the Pearl Harbor destruction.

•Weatherwax, who was born in Honolulu in 1917, received the instruction to report to his duty station at Schofield Barracks that morning.

•Sterling Cale, a Navy corpsman on Dec. 7, 1941, was in charge of the burial party removing bodies from the Arizona.

•Everett Hyland was serving aboard the USS Pennsylvania, which was in dry dock No. 1 on that morning, and was seriously wounded when a Japanese bomb exploded near his battle station.

•Rodrigues, who was born in Kapaa, Kauai, was at Bishop's Point at Pearl Harbor. He was issued a .30-caliber rifle and started shooting at the Japanese planes that passed overhead.

God bless all those who serve, and have served.

A Radical Idea For Dealing With Mass Murderers

Ya know, I kinda like this idea:

The "gunman" in the Omaha episode was actually a teenager who desperately wanted the kind of publicity that the 24/7 media establishment could give him. He reportedly left behind a note proclaiming, "Now I'll be famous."

How did he know he'd be immortalized? Simple. He knew he could count on his enablers: The media would inevitably spread his fame by identifying him in reports in Omaha, across the U.S. and throughout the world.

We in the communications world practically enabled the kid by giving him, posthumously, what he wanted all along. Shame on us.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. What if the media covered all the nuances of the story but ceased naming the vicious and disturbed murderers who kill for the kicks of getting their names on the evening news and on the front pages of newspapers, magazines and Web sites?
I'm not saying it would stop all of them... but it might just stop some, and that would mean saving lives.

Democrats "Frustrated" They Can't Raise Taxes

I kid you not...

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cracks are emerging in congressional Democrats' solidarity, as frustrated lawmakers concede their majority status is not enough to overcome Republican resistance on taxes, spending, Iraq and a host of other issues.

The fissures, which became obvious this week, are undermining Democrats' hopes for several key achievements this year. They also point to a bruising 2008 election in which Democrats will say Republicans blocked prudent tax and spending plans to score political points on immigration and other hot-button issues.

Republicans say they simply want to prevent higher taxes of any kind, even if the targets are not-so-sympathetic groups such as oil companies and hedge fund managers.

Let's see if I can't help the Party of the Donkey script those ads. How about, "We wanted to take more money from you, Mr. and Mrs. America, but the Republicans wouldn't work with us. Please vote for more tax-raising Democrats in the upcoming election."

Anyone else got any ideas?


Open Thread: Romney's Speech

I am still ruminating on what I think of Romney's religion speech today... so, in a blatant effort to get my readers involved, here's a thread for you to post what you thought about it, to discuss, and to debate. The usual rules of etiquette apply.

UPDATE: Here is the text of "The Speech" according to National Review.


Hayek and Chavez

Some interesting thoughts on why Chavez reacted to his recent defeat the way he did:

This brings us back to the question, Why didn't Chavez find a pretext to invalidate the election? What stopped him from doing this, I would argue, was not his respect for the existing constitution, which he was obviously willing to toss aside, nor was it his great love for the abstract principles of democracy, which he was willing to manipulate for his own purposes. What stopped him was simply the sobering realization that if he refused to accept the result of the election he would be faced with an outright rebellion among his political enemies, like the coup that removed him from power in 2002.

Hayek believed that democratic elections were valuable because they could prevent bloodshed and civil strife, like the 2002 coup. To see how this works, consider how elections took place among primitive armed tribes. To vote for someone to be your leader, you got up and stood next to the man you supported. By doing this, you were indicating that you would fight on your leader's side against his opponent. Hence the result of the primitive election was to disclose the relative power, in terms of armed supporters, of the various candidates. If one candidate had ninety men standing around him, while the other had only ten, then it was obvious that in an armed struggle the weaker side would lose and the stronger side would win. As a result, the man with only ten supporters would concede defeat, acting on the principle that it is better to lose an election than to lose one's head. By the same logic, when two men had nearly equal support, then this too sent a signal to the community—namely, that unless the two sides would work out a compromise, they would be plunged into a civil war that would inevitably end by weakening the community's capacity to survive struggle against their collective enemies. In short, the primitive election was a way to avoid bloody power struggles that would end up destroying the solidarity of the community.

By gracefully accepting his defeat at the poll, Hugo Chavez was skillfully averting a much worse defeat in the streets. If all the population knew that half the population had defied his bid for power, then it was obvious that there would be ferocious resistance to any attempt on Chavez' part to seize what he wanted by fraud. How ferocious this resistance might be had already been shown in 2002. It was a risk that Chavez chose not to take—but only after looking at the election returns.

Paradoxically, it was Venezuela's history of political instability, the knowledge that he could be unconstitutionally removed from power by a coup d'etat that led Hugo Chavez to abandon his efforts at mangling the constitution that is the only remaining obstacle to his own dictatorial ambitions.

In short, the happy outcome of Venezuela's most recent election should not be construed as showing that Hugo Chavez harbors no dictatorial ambitions, but neither should it be taken to be proof of the infallible wisdom of the democratic system. Instead, it indicates what we should suspect already—namely, that Hugo Chavez is no fool, and he is prepared to be prudent in order to get what he wants. And one day, he still may.
Chavez still bears watching... I said before, and I say again, I do not think he's given up the idea of seizing powers as a de facto dictator.


Hsu Who?

Short article from the AP:

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Norman Hsu, a top Democratic fundraiser accused of cheating investors of at least $20 million and using some of the money to make illegal donations to political campaigns.

In the 15-count indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the government accused the 56-year-old clothing-industry entrepreneur of duping investors nationwide with a massive Ponzi scheme.

The government said Hsu also violated federal campaign finance laws by making contributions to various political candidates in the names of others.

The "various political candidates" had one thing in common... they were all Democrats, including candidates named Clinton.

But of course the AP doesn't consider that to be relevant.

Imagine if Hsu had contributed to, say, the Romney campaign. Do ya think maybe the AP would have discovered that the name of the candidate was relevant in that case?

And the hypocrisy goes on...


Trolls Beware

This one pretty much stands on its own:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel brings us one from the Turnabout Is Fair Play Dept.:

As readers of a conservative blog debated the subject of teacher salaries, a writer using the pseudonym "Observer" weighed in.

The West Bend teachers' salaries made him sick, the person wrote, adding that the 1999 Columbine High School killers had the right idea.

"They knew how to deal with the overpaid teacher union thugs. One shot at a time! Too bad the liberls (sic) rip them; they were heros (sic) and should be remembered that way," the writer said.

But police say the writer was a teacher himself--and the past president of a teachers union--apparently posing as a teacher-hater.

James Buss was arrested Thursday by West Bend police, and the 46-year-old Cudahy man could face criminal charges. He has been suspended from his job as a teacher at Oak Creek High School.

The Journal-Sentinel story includes an odd correction: "Because of an editing error, an article . . . incorrectly stated that police said he was 'apparently posing as a teacher-hater.' That statement was not made by police." We guess that means it was made by Owen Robinson, who runs the blog on which Buss allegedly made the comment.

Robinson "said Friday that it seemed that 'Observer' was 'posing as a conservative, right-wing whack job to discredit' the Web site's discussion of teachers' salaries. Robinson also criticized Buss' arrest as an overreaction." We have to agree, although we'll admit that at some level it pleases us to see a teacher rather than a child on the receiving end of such excess. The really interesting question is whether the school district will try to fire Buss--and, if so, whether the union will defend him.

On his blog, Robinson reports that he gave the police the commenter's IP address, through which they were able to trace him. Blogress "Mary" of Freedom Eden has some pertinent observations on the disinhibiting influence of online communication:

When will people learn that posting anonymously on the Internet is not the same as being anonymous? . . .

Buss is certainly paying the price for posting irresponsibly.

It appears that he may have posted while drunk or otherwise impaired. More likely, I think he utilized the technique of attempting to disguise himself with multiple misspellings and poor punctuation. (I'm assuming that Buss, the teacher, is more proficient at writing than his posts reveal.)

As Owen notes, the Internet provides a false sense of anonymity.

While blogs can provide forums for lively discussion, posters need to understand that they can be traced. They aren't free to say anything without being held accountable. They need to understand that they don't check their personal responsibility at the Internet's door.

The Internet is not a responsibility-free zone.

It's a creepy phenomenon. An otherwise responsible person will morph, jumping at the chance to let loose an alter ego when online. It can be remarkably reckless, as well as remarkably naive.


By the way, this website does track IP addresses for commenters. Trolls be warned.

Another "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Rule

Buried in the predictable sob-story about an illegal immigrant in Chicago about to be deported is this little gem:

The state [Illinois] says its employees are prohibited by federal law from seeking confirmation of citizenship before registering people to vote.
Yep, you read that right. It is illegal for officials to ask if you're eligible to vote before signing you up to vote.

Am I the only one that sees a problem there?


Chavez Not President for Life

Looks like Chavez over-reached, and the voters told him "no."

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez suffered a stinging defeat Monday in a vote on constitutional changes that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and solidify his bid to transform this major U.S. oil provider into a socialist state.

Voters defeated the sweeping measures by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout just 56 percent.

She said that with 88 percent of the votes counted, the trend was irreversible.

Wonder what Chavez will try next... I seriously doubt that he's done trying to seize lifetime power.

Huckabee and Expectations

As a Native American might say, Huckabee speaks with forked tongue. From an email from his campaign:

1. Expectations Management

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about “managing expectations” going into Iowa. I’m not sure about the other campaigns, but here at the Huckabee camp we expect to win—just as we expect to win the nomination and the general election. Apparantly, not everyone feels the same.

Jennifer Rubin from the American Spectator Blog quotes an interesting tidbit from the LA Times: "But in a sure sign of concern, the Romney camp has begun to raise the prospect of a second-place Iowa finish, insisting it would not hurt his chances in the contests that follow. 'It would be nice if Romney won,' said Doug Gross, an attorney overseeing Romney's Iowa campaign. 'If he finishes in the top two, he's fine.'"

Fine with second in Iowa? The Romney campaign dumped about $7 million into Iowa while we’ve spent, approximately, $327.00. Maybe they are satisfied with second but as fiscal conservatives we expect to get our money’s worth.
But later in the same email...
6. Tied for Second in NH

According to the latest Rasmussen Poll: "The new primary election poll shows a virtual three-way tie for second place between former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain at 15% and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 14%. For Giuliani and McCain, those figures are a very slight dip from earlier in the month while Huckabee has gained four more percentage points."

Please moderate your expectations accordingly.
Either the Huckabee campaign is being sarcastic at the end with the "Please moderate your expectations accordingly," or they're demonstrating a double-standard Hillary would be proud of. "Hah, hah, Romney is 'managing expectations,' now please excuse us while we do the same thing we just castigated him for doing."

Either way, I don't think that it will help the campaign much.


Giuliani's Crime Record

Giuliani's latest TV ad is drawing criticism from the good--and truly non-partisan--folks at FactCheck.org:

Rudy Giuliani's latest TV ad falsely claims New York City experienced "record crime ... until Rudy." In fact, the city recorded its highest rates of both violent crime and property crime years before he took office. The downward trend was well established before he was sworn in.

The ad also claims New York is "America's most liberal city," but his campaign offers no evidence showing that the city is more liberal than, say, San Francisco; Berkeley; Washington, D.C.; or Detroit, all of which rank as more liberal in a study of voting behavior in the 2004 elections. In that study, New York ranked 21st among cities with populations of more than 100,000.

Giuliani's ad also repeats some boasts we've found to be misleading in the past. It claims he cut taxes by $9 billion but counts several tax cuts that he didn't initiate or sign, and one that he lobbied against before changing course. It also boasts that he cut welfare rolls by 60 percent but fails to note that the reduction in New York was a bit less than it was for the nation as a whole.
Read the whole thing (link in the title of this post). And while you're at it, check some of their other articles... you'll see that they skewer distortions by both Democrats and Republicans... now that's what I call fair.


How Irish Crooks Prepare for a Christmas Party

Leave it to the Irish to pull something like this for beer:

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — Irish police were hunting for a beer bandit who stole 450 full kegs from the Guinness brewery — the largest heist ever at Ireland's largest brewer.

National police said a lone man drove into the brewery — a Dublin landmark and top tourist attraction — on Wednesday and hitched his truck to a fully loaded trailer awaiting delivery to city pubs.


Police said the raider took 180 kegs of Guinness stout, 180 kegs of U.S. lager Budweiser and 90 kegs of Danish beer Carlsberg. Guinness brews both of those foreign brands under license for sale in Ireland.

Yep, someone's gonna have a heck of a Christmas party.

This is Government of the People, by the People, for the People?

A reader of NRO's Corner blog had a comment, which I believe is worth repeating in its entirety.

What a beautiful primary season it's been. We're entering the finish line, without a single American having had the annoyance of having to cast a single vote in a single primary. Glad all the pundits, pollsters, and big-money backers took care of all that messy "democracy" business for us. You wonder what causes the insanity of pushing primaries forward farther and farther? Some non-beltway, non-money people, crazy as they are, would actually like the chance to pick their candidate. Now, apparently Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, instead of being the starting gate, are actually the finish line.
I can't say it any better than that, so I won't try.


More Bad News for the Nattering Nabobs of Negativism in Iraq

The MoveOnocrats are in for another surprise if this report from the Kuwaiti News Agency gets much coverage here:

BAGHDAD, Nov 27 (KUNA) -- Leading Shiite cleric in Iraq Ali Sistani Tuesday banned the killing of Iraqis, particularly the Sunnis, and urged the Shiites to protect their brother Sunnis.

Sistani bans the Iraqi blood in general the blood of Sunnis in particular. His announcement came during a meeting with a delegation from Sunni clerics from southern and northern Iraq.

The clerics are visiting Najaf to participate in the first national conference for Ulemaa of Shiites and Sunnis.

Sistani called on the Shiites to protect their Sunni brothers, according to Sheikh Khaled Al-Mulla, head of the authority of Ulemaa of Southern Iraq, noting that the Fatwa of Sistani would have positive impacts nationwide.

"I am a servant of all Iraqis, there is no difference between a Sunni, a Shitte or a Kurd or a Christian," Al-Mulla quoted Sistani as saying during the meeting.

Sistani warned the Sunni clerics from the plans of the enemies to plant seeds of discord among the Iraqis.

The visiting delegation voiced relief for the meeting and said they backed Sistani's stance.
In other words, religious coexistence is on its way, perhaps even religious cooperation, in Iraq.

Sorry, Defeatocrats, no religious civil war in Iraq today. Too bad you're so invested in defeat that you can't rejoice at that.

For more on Sistani and his influence both inside and outside Iraq, see NRO's The Tank, whom I owe a tip of the blogging hat for this story.


Another Measure of Our Success in Iraq

Shhhh... don't tell Harry Reid, John Murtha, or any of the rest of the MoveOnocrats...

Iraqis who fled their country are now returning home by the thousands.

Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, spokesman for the U.S.-Iraqi efforts to pacify Baghdad, said border crossings by returning refugees numbered 46,030 in October alone. He attributed the large numbers to the "improving security situation" resulting from the successful military surge orchestrated by Gen. David Petraeus.

"We are receiving tremendous numbers of displaced families at the borders of Syria and Jordan," says Maj. Gen. Mohsen Abdul Hassan, head of Iraq's department of border enforcement. "We have difficulties dealing with the large numbers. There are long lines of vehicles."

Of course, we all know Iraq is a failure, that there can never be any success there, that Iraqis want us out, etc, etc, etc.

Meanwhile, the citizens of that nation who once fled in terror from terrorists are now voting... with their feet... and returning.

The 22nd Amendment has been Repealed!

...at least that's what Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill and BDS sufferer, seems to think:

"George Bush is on the ballot in 2008," Emanuel said.
Go for it, Rahm... vent your spleen against Dubya. And make a psychiatrist's appointment for 21 January 2009. I think you're going to need it.

DHS Wants to Split Up Chinese Families

Attorney General Mukasey has a chance to show that he's the right man for the job.

DHS is seeking to reverse decades of U.S. policy and reinterpret a 1996 U.S. law in order to return Chinese fathers whose wives have fled forced sterilization or abortion by the Chinese government to Communist China, where they will be separated from their families and face certain retaliation for the crime of fathering an unapproved child. DHS has now convinced the Second Circuit Court of its position, creating a split among the circuits. The matter now rests in the hands of the attorney general, who has previously had discretion to grant asylum to those worthy.
Let's hope Mukasey quickly rules that it's not right to split up these families and send Daddy back to face the Red Chinese.

Some more background... it's not pretty, but it should be mentioned:
Under China’s “one-child” policy (which sometimes permits two children), China requires sterilization for new mothers and forced abortions for women exceeding the limit. The State Department reports that in 2005, in just one province, 130,000 women were subjected to forced abortion or sterilization. According to congressional testimony by Chinese refugees and other interviews with Chinese citizens, women who go into hiding to avoid this routinely have their homes destroyed, or members of their family are imprisoned.

China’s population-control program also requires abortions for all unwed mothers. This is even more intrusive than it sounds, because another component of the 1979 population policy bans marriage for men under the age of 22 and women under the age of 20 — and in some provinces, the age requirement for marriage is as high as 25.

Because of the marriage ban, many young Chinese couples secretly get traditional marriages that are not sanctioned by the state. Yet this carries with it a risk — if the wife becomes pregnant, the state will frequently force her, as an “unwed” mother, to abort.

As a consequence of this policy, the Reagan administration began a policy of accepting, with open arms, women who have fled China to avoid forced abortions or sterilization. His policy also accepted the baby’s fathers, upon whom Chinese law confers equal punishment for the crime of unauthorized breeding. This included both “legal” husbands and “traditional” ones, and even committed partners who fathered the children, because like the mothers they faced political persecution.

President Clinton reversed course, adopting an extremely callous policy that no longer considered forced abortion a form of political persecution. His undersecretary of state for global affairs, former Sen. Tim Wirth (D., Colo.), famously and cruelly equated China’s regime of forced abortions with “family planning” when he argued in 1995 for the deportation of 13 Chinese women who had arrived in the United States aboard the Golden Venture: “[W]e could potentially open ourselves up to just about everybody in the world saying ‘I don’t want to plan my family, therefore I deserve political asylum.” (Emphasis added.)

Clinton’s decision to reverse the policy and deport these women was received with bipartisan outrage. In order to force Clinton’s hand, Reps. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) and Henry Hyde (R., Ill.) passed a new policy into law the following year by slipping it into a larger immigration bill that Clinton wanted to sign. Their amendment, known as Section 601, was intended to protect Chinese mothers and their husbands who fled procreative persecution from being deported to China.

The Hyde-Smith law protects “a person who has been forced to abort a pregnancy” or faces persecution “for other resistance to a coercive population control program.” The first phrase, says Smith, does not explicitly refer to couples, but it was clearly intended throughout the congressional debate, sworn testimony in committee, and in the House report language on the measure, to refer to both mothers and fathers. Both, after all, are subject to the same penalties, and both are being forced to terminate a pregnancy they initiated together. At the very least, the second phrase would appear to apply to both.
So DHS is basically going back to the Clinton interpretation.

Let's hope Mukasey brings them quickly to heel.


Navy Requesting More Fuel for Persian Gulf Forces

With the situation in Iraq stabilizing, this report raises the possibility of a stronger stance with Iran in the not-too-distant future:

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. military has stepped up chartering of tankers and requests for extra fuel in the U.S. Central Command area, which includes the Gulf, shipping and oil industry sources say.

A Gulf oil industry source said the charters suggested there would be high naval activity, possibly including a demonstration to Iran that the U.S. Navy will protect the Strait of Hormuz oil shipping route during tensions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC) has tendered for four tankers in November to move at least one million barrels of jet and ship fuel between Gulf ports, from Asia to the Gulf and to the Diego Garcia base, tenders seen by Reuters show.

It usually tenders for one or two tankers a month to supply Gulf operations, which include missions in Iraq.

The MSC, asked for comment, confirmed the tenders and said there was nothing abnormal about current requirements in the Gulf, where it has a large military presence and which is home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

A fifth hire request was recently cancelled, it said.

Fuels specified to be moved between Gulf ports include JP5, high flashpoint jet fuel, used to power F18 fighters aboard aircraft carriers.

That same "Gulf source" had some idea of why they are calling for more fuel, and given that he's said to have been in the oil business quite some time, I tend to think his thoughts are at least worth considering:

One of the largest commercial tanker hires is on a time-charter basis, the length of time a ship is sought, stipulating a period of 90 days to carry a range of fuels between locations in the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

The time charter, which begins in early December and allows for multiple journeys in Gulf waters, is to carry a minimum of 310,000 barrels of jet and marine fuel, some of it JP5.

"What's most interesting is the time-charter in the Gulf. It's a big ship and here we have a commitment for a lot of movement of fuels, backwards and forwards down to the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman," the Gulf source said.

"This confirms there is going to be a lot of activity, possibly a serious demonstration to Iran that the military means to protect the Hormuz Strait," he said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia had already promised U.S. forces long-term fuel supplies this year, known as term tenders.

In February, oil industry sources told Reuters Riyadh had raised the amount of jet fuel earmarked for the military from 1.5 million barrels last year to close to eight million in 2007.

So, don't be surprised if we see military maneuvers in the next 90 days or so aimed at showing the Iranians how easily we can reach them, or anything between that and a full-scale invasion.

And don't be surprised if the lefties howl bloody murder if and when it happens.

How Democrats Support the Troops, Part II

Ahh, the good old Party of the Donkey... they whose patriotism we dare not question... they who support the troops while slandering their leaders (both civilian and military leaders)... they're at it again:

Providing veterans' benefits to Filipino service members is only half of the issue.

Perhaps more egregious is how the Democrats offset the cost of the new benefits. Because of House PAYGO rules, any new entitlement spending (such as the Filipino Veterans Equity Act) must be funded by either a corresponding cut in existing spending or matching revenue gains.

In this case, the Democrats on the Veterans Committee voted to save nearly $1 billion by eliminating a $2,200 special monthly payment to veterans who are less than 100 percent disabled, but 60 percent or greater disabled.
Yep, there ya go... they support the Filipino veterans--who never appeared in US uniform, by the way, being soldiers of the Philippines--by cutting benefits to disabled veterans who did wear the stars and stripes, and did so bravely and heroically.

That's our MoveOn-dominated party on the left for ya, folks.

More on Chavez and the Marxist Terrorists

I pointed out in this post how close Hugo Chavez is with the Marxist FALN terrorists in Columbia... here's some more data for you to ruminate on:

In theory, a mediator should persuade two sides to each give up something to achieve a common end. The only one who gave up anything, however, was [Colombian President] Uribe, who watched Chavez cavort with terrorists before TV cameras, giving them a legitimacy in Caracas they never had known.

Even worse, Chavez proved to be acting as an agent of the terrorists. Uribe's sudden cutoff of the mediation effort at a hastily organized press conference last Wednesday suggested disturbing new information.

On Sunday, Chavez confirmed it: "I think Colombia deserves another president, it deserves a better president," he said.

That followed a discussion in a U.S. prison between extradited FARC terrorist Ricardo Palmera, aka "Simon Trinidad," and another mediator and Chavez ally appointed by Uribe, Senator Piedad Cordoba. They discussed "a transitional government" with the terrorist as a bargaining chip for the hostage swap.

On Monday, Chavez repeated what he had in mind to make sure Uribe understood. "Reconciliation is impossible," he said. "We have to wait for a new government in Colombia we can talk with. I hope it arrives sooner rather than later."

Sure sounds like he's supporting the terrorists... what they want is a new government in Colombia, too, one patterned on Marxist ideals... like Chavez's Venezuela, for example.

Good thing his stock seems to be falling, as people like Uribe get wise to him.

Get Ready for the Blood For Oil Meme to Rise Again

Looks like lefties will have to switch memes again... which shouldn't be hard for them, as they have no core beliefs except hatred of George W. Bush.

First, the outgoing meme:

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.
There goes the "Iraqis don't want us there" meme down the tubes. If the democratically elected and sovereign government asks us to stay, how can anyone say with a straight face that they don't want us there?

However, there's another one coming up... the old, familiar, tired, "blood for oil" meme:

The two senior Iraqi officials said Iraqi authorities had discussed the broad outlines of the proposal with U.S. military and diplomatic representatives. The Americans appeared generally favorable subject to negotiations on the details, which include preferential treatment for American investments, according to the Iraqi officials involved in the discussions.

The two Iraqi officials, who are from two different political parties, spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject is sensitive. Members of parliament were briefed on the plan during a three-hour closed-door meeting Sunday, during which lawmakers loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr objected to the formula.

Preferential treatment for U.S. investors could provide a huge windfall if Iraq can achieve enough stability to exploit its vast oil resources. Such a deal would also enable the United States to maintain leverage against Iranian expansion at a time of growing fears about Tehran's nuclear aspirations.

So get ready for the great hue and cry that it was all about oil... nevermind that this is just an offer, not a firm deal, and that it is a free and democratically elected Iraqi government that is making the offer with the only valuable resource it has to bargain with. I mean, what else are they going to offer the US for our continued troop presence? Sand?

How the (British) Left Supports the Troops

And you thought it was just an American thing:

Injured soldiers who lost their limbs fighting for their country have been driven from a swimming pool training session by jeering members of the public.

The men, injured during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, were taking part in a rehabilitation session at a leisure centre, when two women demanded they be removed from the pool. They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation. Adml Lord Boyce, a former head of the Armed Forces, said last night the women should be "named and shamed".

"These people are beneath contempt and everything should be done to get their names and publish them in the press," he said. "It is contemptible that people who have given up their limbs for their country should be so abused when they are trying to get fit again."

It comes after calls for the public to do more to welcome home troops back from tours of duty and to recognise the bravery of those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unpleasant scenes broke out at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey when the wounded veterans, who are at Headley Court Military Hospital, had to use the 25-metre public pool because the hydro-pool at the defence rehabilitation centre is not big enough for swimming.

Seems like this neighborhood is the British version of Berkley:
There was uproar earlier this year after residents objected to planning permission to convert a home into a six-suite hostel for injured soldiers' families to stay in. The local council later approved the building work.
I guess moonbats live everywhere these days.

Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin


What Fred Really Said

Courtesy Jim Geraghty, a transcript of part of Fred's exchange with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday:

THOMPSON: This has been a constant mantra of Fox, to tell you the truth. And I saw the promo for this bill, and I think it was kind of — for this show, and it was kind of featuring the New Hampshire poll. Let’s put things in context a little bit, to start with.

WALLACE: Well, I don’t know that —- I mean, I don’t know that Fox has been going after you, and I certainly don’t think Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes…

THOMPSON: From day one, they said I got in too late, I couldn’t do it.

WALLACE: But there were a lot of people besides Fox who said that, sir.

THOMPSON: Well, but I’m — these are the two you used.


THOMPSON: All right. Well, they said I got in too late, couldn’t do it…


THOMPSON: … wouldn’t raise enough money, and that sort of thing. And that’s their opinion. They’re entitled to their opinion. But that doesn’t seem to be shared by the cross-section of American people. If you look at the national polls, you’ll see that I’m running second and have been running second for a long time. I’m running ahead of a guy who spent probably $50 million more than I have and been running for a year longer. If you look in South Carolina, I’ve either been leading or tied for the lead for a long, long time. I moved from fourth to third in Iowa, ahead of Rudy Giuliani, incidentally.

So you know, they’re entitled to their opinion, but for you to highlight nothing but the negative in terms of these polls, and then put on your own guys, who have been predicting for four months, really, that I couldn’t do it, you know, kind of skews things a little bit.

And there ya have it. Don't believe the spin, believe what he really said.

Romney's Judge Troubles

By now, the buzz is going around fast and furious about a Romney-appointed judge letting a killer go free with no bail after allegations that he'd assaulted two prison guards, and threatened former Governor Romney's life.

My own thoughts on this are that this should be a non-issue. Romney is no telepath nor fortune teller, he had no way of knowing that this judge would ever rule this way. His campaign spokesman says that the judge's record as a prosecutor showed that she would be "a law and order judge," so it really doesn't seem to be a slip on Mitt's part.

However, politics is largely about perception, so this will probably be a big problem for the Romney campaign. The term "Willie Horton" is already being heard in relation to this.

By the way, lest anyone think I am coming around to the Romney camp, think again... I just don't like seeing a campaign accused of something as idiotic as push-polling themselves, or criticized for not being prescient regarding what judges might do in the future.

Bottom line, I'm still behind Fred for the nomination. If he doesn't get it, well, we'll see what happens then.

Columbia Reborn

Speaking of Columbian President Uribe, NRO has a great article (link in the title) about him and his progress in rebuilding the nation after the drug wars of the 90s. Maybe the Iraqis should pay attention.

In what was once the most dangerous neighborhood of this, the world’s most notorious city, a Sunday afternoon is a bustling, joyful affair. The scampering children and people sitting at tiny sidewalk cafes on the narrow streets would be fit subjects for a Colombian Norman Rockwell.

“Look,” says New York Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, part of a congressional delegation visiting from the United States, “they’re cooking pizzas, they’re eating ice cream, boyfriends and girlfriends are holding hands — this is amazing, this Medellin! We’re supposed to be dodging bullets.”

The late drug lord Pablo Escobar made this city into one of the most violent on Earth. Men like Sergio Fajardo — the outgoing mayor, a mathematician who is a leader in a citizens’ movement that arose in opposition to the violence — made it into a city that belies its reputation. In 1991, 6,500 people were murdered here; in 2006, 700 were. Medellin’s murder rate is now lower than Baltimore’s.
Okay, I know, that's not specifically about Uribe... keep reading.
Medellin is a microcosm of Colombia. President Alvaro Uribe has forged extraordinary security gains by taking the fight to the country’s hellish brew of left-wing guerrillas, their paramilitary opponents and narco-traffickers. The strength of the main guerrilla group, FARC, is down an estimated 40 percent from its peak, and more than 30,000 paramilitary fighters have been demobilized. Murders have dropped 40 percent from 2002 to 2006, and kidnappings almost 80 percent from 2000 to 2006.
Notice... violence is decreased by taking the fight to the terrorists. Democrats should listen, and listen good... but they won't. Once again, Democrats are standing in the way of helping those in need, in favor of one of their preferred constituencies.
But security is not enough. Colombia is awash in displaced people, chased from their homes by dueling guerrilla armies, and young men who have to be resocialized after lives of violence. They need jobs. That’s why the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is so important. It is pending in Congress, where Democratic leaders might let it die in the gravest act of strategic short-sightedness since their attempted rebuke of Turkey.


The congressmen can’t help but be impressed. What holds Democrats back from supporting the trade agreement is union opposition back home. The unions hate the deal even though most Colombia exports to the U.S. already benefit from trade preferences, and the deal would remove duties on U.S. goods going to Colombia. They complain about violence against Colombian union leaders, but attacks against unionists have tracked with general trends of violence — as killings have declined since 2002, so have murders of union leaders.

Rep. Meeks, an advocate for Afro-Colombians, supports the deal. He calls progress in the country “nothing short of a miracle,” and blames the image of the “old Colombia” for limiting the deal’s support. “If you come here,” he says, strolling out into the streets of this revived neighborhood, “it’s a no-brainer.”
Yep, the party that claims to be the champion of the little guy, fighting a bill that would help raise the economic fortunes of people in a very hard-hit country.

Typical. So typical.


Another "Shup Up, Chavez" Moment

This one wasn't a direct "shut up" quote, but the meaning is pretty much the same:

The peace-at-any-price crowd is outraged by the way Colombia's president yanked the right of Hugo Chavez to talk with terrorists. But all Alvaro Uribe did was signal that in diplomacy, results matter.

Middle East peace-process negotiators, take note.

Colombia's president, at the urging of France's Nicolas Sarkozy, last August gave Venezuelan dictator Chavez a chance to mediate the release of 45 hostages held in Colombia's jungle dungeons by FARC, a brutal Marxist narcoterrorist group at war with Colombia since 1964. The French wanted FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt, a Franco-Colombian citizen kidnapped in 2002, freed. Three American contractors are also on the hostage list.

Who better than the thuggish Chavez? Or so the wisdom went. The radical Venezuelan leader is a hero to the narcoterrorists, who've festooned their Web site with praises for his "revolution." If anyone could persuade them to release hostages, it would be him.

But it didn't take long for Uribe to realize talks with terrorists would go nowhere. So instead of going along, Uribe pulled the plug.

Uribe's move offers lessons in how to deal with terrorists in an era when peace talks go on, emboldening terrorists to act out.

(Colored emphasis mine.)

So, there we have it. Once again, Chavez has had an opportunity to do good, and when he couldn't or wouldn't deliver, he got told to be quiet.

It's also interesting, as I highlighted above, that Chavez is the poster boy for the kind of people who take hostages and keep them for years. Perhaps not the squeaky clean image some people have of him, but truth is truth.


Democrats and the Culture of Corruption, Part VI

Here we go again with the Clintons, money, and corruption:

Three years after the William J. Clinton Presidential Library opened its doors, the list of donors who helped the former president build his $165 million complex remains a secret from the public.

Yet the Blotter on ABCNews.com has learned that the Clinton Foundation sold portions of the list through a data company headed by a longtime friend and donor.

"The fact that they've sold the list and then turned around and said that these names must be kept anonymous completely undercuts their argument," said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog group that tracks the influence of money in politics.

An employee of Walter Karl, a subsidiary of the data company InfoUSA, told ABCNews.com that the company made a list of more than 38,000 donors to the Clinton presidential library available for sale to foundations and other nonprofit groups from June 2006 to May 2007. A spokesman for the company would not say how the profits from the sale of the partial list were distributed.

Again, while this is not illegal, it is definitely morally reprehensible, since they'd made a big point earlier about donors being anonymous.

And there's more about InfoUSA, the parent company of Walter Karl, who was chosen to act as the vendor for the mailing list:

Vin Gupta, CEO of InfoUSA, was also on the list of donors giving $1 million or more.

His ties to the Clintons came under scrutiny earlier in the year when a lawsuit filed by InfoUSA shareholders accused Gupta of wasting millions of dollars of the company's money to "ingratiate himself" with the Clintons and other personal friends.

Separately, a New York Times article in May revealed that InfoUSA was involved in an investigation in Iowa for selling mailing lists of elderly Americans to criminals. In response to the investigation, the company released a statement saying, "While InfoUSA can not manage what a client does with the publicly available information InfoUSA provides, the company has a strict policy about not selling data to companies who act illegally."

Gupta has donated and raised millions of dollars for the Clintons' political campaigns and charities over the last decade. InfoUSA spent millions more paying the former president as a consultant and flying him and his wife to events around the country and family vacations in Hawaii and Acapulco, Mexico on the company's private jet, according to the court documents.

InfoUSA officials have stated that the expenses were "legitimate business expenses."

A spokesman for Sen. Clinton said in May that InfoUSA had been reimbursed for her flights, though ethics rules at the time only required the reimbursement be equal to the cost of first-class airfare.

Hmmm... InfoUSA has been reimbursed? The question is, how? Money or cozy deals like selling a list of donor names for the Clintons?

Makes one wonder, doesn't it?


Giving Thanks

I am thankful that people like Chris Hedges are writing for The Nation, and not running it (the USA as a nation, not the magazine):

I will not pay my income tax if we go to war with Iran. I realize this is a desperate and perhaps futile gesture. But an attack on Iran—which appears increasingly likely before the coming presidential election—will unleash a regional conflict of catastrophic proportions. This war, and especially Iranian retaliatory strikes on American targets, will be used to silence domestic dissent and abolish what is left of our civil liberties. It will solidify the slow-motion coup d'etat that has been under way since the 9/11 attacks. It could mean the death of the Republic.
I will put the taxes I owe in an escrow account. I will go to court to challenge the legality of the war. Maybe a courageous judge will rule that the Constitution has been usurped and the government is guilty of what the postwar Nuremberg tribunal defined as a criminal war of aggression. Maybe not. I do not know. But I do know this: I have friends in Tehran, Gaza, Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem and Cairo. They will endure far greater suffering and deprivation. I want to be able, once the slaughter is over, to at least earn the right to ask for their forgiveness.
And thank God they have the arrogance to write things like that for public consumption, so that we can see what kind of internal enemies we face.

God bless you all... even the lefties... even you, Mr. Troll, and you know who you are (if you write a kind response to this, it might actually get approved).


Our Friends, the Saudis

Whomever the next President is needs to start re-evaluating our relationship with Saudi Arabia--we know darned good and well that Bush won't in his remaining time in office, even in light of things like this:

But, hey, this is just another day in Saudi Arabia, where religious police trap teenage girls in burning school buildings for shedding the head-to-toe Islamic garments they must wear in the presence of men. Where it's a crime for adult women to drive, vote or hold office. And where polygamy is encouraged, and men in their 60s take 14-year-old brides.

Now this. The 19-year-old rape victim, a Shiite woman, originally received a sentence of 90 lashes from the Islamic court after she was kidnapped, beaten and repeatedly raped. Her crime? Being in the same car with an unrelated male companion.

She only agreed to meet the man after he threatened to tell her father they were having an affair if she didn't join him alone. She subsequently was abducted and raped by seven other men. Then her brother beat her for good measure because the rapes brought shame to the family.

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Council convicted her of unchaperoned car-sitting and hiked the sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison.

After the West got wind of the barbarous ruling, the Saudi Ministry of Justice defended it by saying that "charges were proven" against the woman. So what's the problem?

Yep, just Saudi justice at work.

And Dubya, for all his good work in Iraq, is cozying up to these folks.


Hemingway Responds

Looks like more people than just your humble blogger have been after Mark Hemingway for his piece which all but concludes that Romney push-polled himself.

He's come out with a defense of sorts (link in the title of this post), but there's one point that's very easily debunked, and so I will take that one first and work on the rest as time permits.

Hemingway says:

And I did not merely speculate — I provided new evidence and I also provided pro-Romney balance as well.
This is very easily taken care of. Hemingway's article covers two pages at NRO, and fully one and one-third of those pages are devoted to "evidence" that Romney was involved... "evidence" like what the mysterious "Amanda," a name which Hemingway seems to believe unique.

Where's the pro-Romney balance? It's a mere three paragraphs, two of which are a mere three lines on my laptop screen. These three small paragraphs also appear on the lower two-thirds of page two, or if you prefer, "below the fold." Here they are:
The Romney defense is plausible, but not everyone is convinced. “Consultants tend to be tribal and work off of referral,” the aforementioned anonymous political consultant advises. “The ones that are whorish tend not to be in business for very long.”

There are a number of mitigating factors outlined on mymanmitt.com that suggest that the Romney campaign may be telling the truth. Western Wats has over 1,500 employees across the country — there’s no evidence that Amanda Earnshaw and other employees are donating to Romney at a rate or contribution level higher then the general population, or doing anything unethical or out of the ordinary to help the Romney campaign. And currently, not a single board member or the CEO of the company is Mormon.

Also, reports describing the calls note that in addition to the anti-Romney queries, questions were asked about John McCain’s military service. The McCain campaign has denied involvement and has asked the New Hampshire attorney general to investigate the incident.
This is "balance," New York Times style. Lead with the damning evidence, then bury any exculpatory evidence below the fold and fence it round with other accusations. If one just skips over the next paragraph, we are reminded:
According to another source at a rival campaign who wished to remain anonymous, there’s speculation that Romney may have push polled himself because his campaign wanted polling data regarding the negative perception of his Mormon faith for internal use. But since they couldn’t do so without causing controversy, they took steps to make it look like McCain.
And then there's this gem of a closing:
The Romney campaign, ultimately, has the power to clarify any misconceptions. If there is a relationship between the two firms, then Alex Gage and Target Point should immediately clarify the extent and nature of the work that it has contracted out to Western Wats to end speculation and exonerate Romney.
Sure sounds like Hemingway views Romney as "guilty until proven innocent," doesn't it? This is again the tactic of MoveOn, DailyKos, and Democratic Underground... just look at their treatment of, say, Blackwater.

All in all, I find his response highly unsatisfactory.


Push-Polling-Gate: UPDATED

Much ado is now being made about the push-polling against the Romney campaign--which specifically targeted his Latter-Day-Saint religion. There are several theories floating around out there, including (but not limited to):

  1. Romney's campaign did it to themselves, to get the issue out of the way. Evidence for this is supplied in the facts that the firm making the phone calls, Western Wats, has done work for Romney in the past, and another firm, Target Point, which appears to be involved has also been hired in times past by Romney. Also in the mix, Western Wats has several employees who have made contributions to the Romney 2008 campaign.
  2. Giuliani's campaign is behind it. Seems that a polling company used by Giuliani, the Tarrance Group, also has connections to Western Wats.
Personally, I find it hard to believe either of the above, though the accusations have been splashed all over the web... I found the following breathless section on National Review Online:
According to Whocallsme.com, on August 16 — almost exactly three months before the anti-Romney calls were made in Iowa and New Hampshire, a user named Bruce reported:
Call from Amanda at Target Point Consulting
66 Canal Center Plaza No. 555
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 535-8505
fax: (703) 535-8517
Caller ID: (801) 623-4621 [Emphasis Added]
Caller: Target Point Consulting
A Western Wats-Target Point connection sets off alarm bells since the Romney campaign has paid Target Point consulting $720,000.

Target Point’s president, Alex Gage, is a pioneer in the direct-marketing data-mining technique known as microtargeting. The Bush campaign spent nearly $3 million on Gage and Target Point’s services in the 2004 election. In the 2008 election cycle, Gage has been working closely with Romney. The Washington Post headlined an article about Gage “Romney’s Data Cruncher” and has elsewhere identified Gage as part of “Mitt Romney’s Inner Circle.”

Adding to the intrigue, Western Wats employs a dialer named Amanda Earnshaw who, according to election records, has made the maximum allowable donation of $2,300 to Romney’s campaign. Further, Federal Election Commission records reveal that Amanda’s husband Seth Hutchings, her father Craig Earnshaw, mother Colleen, and brother Berton have all maxed out donations to the Romney campaign. Craig Earnshaw is active in Romney’s campaign, serving as Utah’s co-chair for the state’s “Rally for Romney” fundraiser on September 28, 2007.
My Lord, we've got her! It's this "Amanda" who is behind it all... she works for Western Wats, and she also gave to the Romney campaign! And it's such an uncommon name that it just has to be the same person!

(disclaimer for those with their undergarments permanently in a twist: the above paragraph is sarcasm and satire.)

Puh-LEEZE! This is the sort of nonsense I, at least, expect from DailyKos, MoveOn, or Democratic Underground, not from National Review. A first name as common as Amanda simply cannot logically be used to prove anything.

As for the Giuliani accusation, that's just as ludicrous. Guilt by association has long since been revealed as invalid.

No, for my money, I go with what Jim Geraghty--also, let it be noted, working for National Review--has said:
The more I hear angry accusations from campaigns, and the more bad blood that is stirred, and the accusations that some campaigns employ bigoted arguments against a candidate, I start wondering... isn't this what some deep-pocketed Democrat would want to see in the GOP primary?
Indeed, as a conjecture this one has good legs under it. If a Democrat wanted to do this and reduce the risk of it being traced back to them--and unlike some of my fellow conservatives, I do admit that there are some pretty smart Democrats--they'd naturally use a company with lots of ties to Republicans, and if they can use one with direct ties to Romney, so much the better.

In short, this whole thing has "Politics of Personal Destruction" written large all over it. Whether it is Mrs. Clinton or one of the Democrats who learned the art from the eight years of Clinton ascendancy has yet to be determined, but it seems to be accomplishing exactly what the Party of the Donkey would want to see right now.

Let me also point out that I am neither a Romney nor Giuliani supporter... just take a gander at the sidebar to see which candidate I support. However, it is clear, from the points above, that if some hyper-partisan wants to make of this a case against Mitt or Rudy, they're gonna have to do a lot better than they have so far.

UPDATE: Well, not so much an update as an explanation of a point and the introduction of a new point that occurred to me after posting this last night.

First off, the "Amanda" thing. Mr. Mark Hemingway, the NRO columnist whose breathless article I excerpted above, seems to be conflating two Amandas. There is the one that works for Western Wats, who donated to Romney, and apparently another one that works at TargetPoint, and called "Bruce" from a Utah number. There is, at least so far, absolutely no evidence that they are the same person. Amanda is far too common a name for there to be any sort of assumed link... now, if the person was named Zaphod Beeblebrox, it could be assumed that they were the same person, but Amanda? It fails the laugh test.

Second, the assumption that Mitt or Rudy had something to do with this also fails the laugh test. In order to believe that, one would have to believe that the campaign--whichever one you fancy as the culprit--had staffers who were unaware that the Western Wats connection would be highly indicative of the campaign's involvement. Stripped of the fancy language--sorry, I get too verbose at times... and there I go again--Mitt or Rudy's people didn't realize that the use of Western Wats would point a huge glowing finger straight at them. I simply cannot believe that two such successful campaigns as Mitt's and Rudy's would have such incompetent people in a position where they could set up such a program. Now, Ron Paul's campaign... maybe. (Ooooh, am I gonna get hate mail for that one... good thing I have comments moderated.)

The more I look at this the more fantastic the accusations against Mitt and Rudy look. From Mr. Hemingway's article, it almost seems like Amanda might have been the person on the "grassy knoll" as well. Such outlandish conspiracy theories belong on the left, not in a heretofore respectable journal of conservative thought such as National Review.