Monday, November 30, 2009

Club Gitmo Graduates Four More

And then there were 211. The Washington Post reports that four Club Gitmo graduates have been shipped out today.

One was Saber Lahmar who is a Bosnian resident and was transferred to France. Mr. Lahmar will be given a chance "to rebuild his life" in France.

He was arrested in 2002 in Sarajevo, along with four others, in connection with a plot to blow up the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. That allegation was later withdrawn but he, along with his compatriots, was then held on suspicion that he planned to travel to Afghanistan to attack U.S. forces. He was associated with a known al Qaeda facilitator who was known to have a direct link with bin Laden.

In April of this year, Thomas Joscelyn wrote of Lahmar,

In my opinion, the court’s ruling with respect to Sabir Mahfouz Lahmar, one of the five the court said should be released, was erroneous and ignored many facts about Lahmar’s past. Lahmar was clearly part of the al Qaeda network in Bosnia in the 1990’s. Lahmar was listed as one of the most wanted criminals in Bosnia at one point and was charged with involvement in various criminal and terrorist acts, including a car bombing in Mostar. He was only freed as part of a general amnesty deal the Bosnian government, which was then incredibly duplicitous in its dealings, cut with “Mujahidin” such as Lahmar.

Two Tunisians, Adel Ben Mabrouk, 39, and Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri, 43, were transferred to Italy where they will be tried on terrorism charges. Italy had arrest warrants out on them already for various charges.

Another went to Hungary. He is Palestinian but his name has not been released.

So, we're down to 211. The main problem seems to be the Yemini detainees. And on that front, Thomson prison in Illinois is still a possibility. The Hill reports tonight that "Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will host a closed-door briefing with his state’s congressional delegation on Wednesday about sending Guantanamo detainees to an Illinois prison."

All of this so that the world will like us better for closing Gitmo. How silly. We're going to shut down a perfectly functional, well-run, expensively retrofitted facility because "the world" doesn't like it. Because Thomson Correctional won't be Gitmo. It'll be a prison and the detainees will be worse off than they are in Cuba, but they won't be in Gitmo. Ridiculous.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Sarah Cleveland)

Christmas Wish List: Utopias

Oh well why not!? Who on EARTH would spend $150 for a bottle of beer? And, I mean, I do love my Sam Adams Octoberfest!

Here's the scoop on Sam Adams Utopias:

Truly the epitome of brewing's two thousand year evolution, Samuel Adams Utopias® offers a flavor not just unlike any other beer but unlike any other beverage in the world. Its warm, sweet flavor is richly highlighted with hints of vanilla, oak and caramel. With an alcohol content of 27% by volume, its complexity and sweet, malty flavor is reminiscent of a deep, rich vintage Port, fine Cognac or aged sherry while being surprisingly light on the palate. And like the world’s finest after-dinner drinks, Samuel Adams Utopias is not carbonated and should be served at room temperature.

Yeah, and it's not available in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, or West Virginia, due to "legal restrictions." But it's available in Louisiana...if you can find it.

Hmm. Maybe I'll send some to Stacy McCain.

Andrew Sullivan is Back From His Lacuna

It's Monday which means back to work for me, back to work for Congress, and back to being obsessed for Andrew Sullivan.

Today he posts an "intellectually honest" review, or more accurately, partial review, of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue. The snippet of the review he posts only confirms, *GASP*!, Sullivan's premise that Palin is hiding something, something is being "covered up"! Crikey! I KNEW IT!

Sullivan laments the fact that Palin's editor, Adam Bellow at Harper Collins, didn't thoroughly "fact check" the book. In fact, Sullilvan has emailed, yes! EMAILED! Bellow for a confirmation that he did, in fact, review Palin's medical records before publishing the book:

I've emailed Bellow asking him about the fact-checking process for "Going Rogue." Getting an on-the-record confirmation that, for example, Harper Collins reviewed the medical records proving Palin's multiple medical stories (including corrected hospital records by her own account) would be a useful piece of information.

I was unaware of the fact that publishing a book made your private medical records necessary fodder for the process, but Sullivan must know, right? He gets the big bucks, not me.

Yes, I'll be on pins and needles waiting for that return email from Palin's editor. I'm sure Sully will let us know when it drops.

H/T: Memeorandum

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Already Tired of the Bleached Blond in the Red Dress

The Washington Post reports that the most famous party-crashers in the world are now taking bids:

The Associated Press reported that Tareq and Michaele Salahi were offering to talk to broadcast networks about their experience and were looking for a payment in the mid-six figures range. The news service attributed the information to a television executive it did not name. According to the report, representatives for the couple contacted networks to urge them to "get their bids in" for an interview.

Aren't we tired of these people yet?

I'm more interested in the gullible guys who let them through the gate.

A pox on the houses of anyone who pays these people one thin time!

Ed Morrissey Attempts to Unscramble Scott Fenstermaker

Update: Welcome Hot Air readers! Thanks for the link, Ed!

Last week I posted this video of Bill O'Reilly's interview with attorney Scott Fenstermaker in which Fenstermaker explains his role as a member of the defense team for two of the 9/11 terrorists coming to New York. He claims to also represent the USS Cole bomber who has been relegated to be tried in a military commission.

If Fenstermaker is purposely trying to come off as despicable public enemy number one, he is succeeding, and, appears to be pleased with that perception, as evidenced by the video.

After that video aired on television last week, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air began an email exchange with Fenstermaker which has been fascinating, sort of like watching a train wreck. Basically, Fenstermaker claims to represent two of the detainees, but says he can't meet with them, because of ACLU and DoJ interference, and the only evidence he has of his representation is that they asked for him:

I represent Mr. al-Nashiri and Mr. al-Baluchi, but Messrs. al-Hawsawi and Mr. Ghailani both want me as their counsel, but have been denied by various federal judges to have counsel of their choice. I have never been permitted to meet with Messrs. al-Nashiri or al-Hawsawi, as a result of the government’s claims that I don’t represent them. The only evidence I have of my representation of Messrs. al-Nashiri and al-Hawsawi is multiple letters from them asking me to represent them. The government doesn’t recognize that apparently. In addition, the fact that I am cut off from writing to them also creates a bit of a logistical problem as well.

Ed rightly concludes then, that the fact of representation is still an open question, one that he will attempt to unravel this week.

On the one hand, as an interview subject, Fenstermaker is very forthcoming with Ed and offers to share documents and emails freely. However, he is a frustrating subject as well, because he throws out accusations or claims, then tells Ed to go elsewhere to get the information. Sometimes this is because Fenstermaker claims not to know the reasons, and other times, it just seems coy.

For example, in Ed's November 24 post, Ed points out that Fenstermaker was "booted from the military commissions civilian defense counsel pool in 2008 for 'counterproductive' interactions with the staff, and not representing himself in a 'forthright' manner to the chief defense counsel." Fenstermaker responded in an email to Ed in which he tells Ed to ask the chief defense counsel himself why Fenstermaker was suspended. Ed was already on the case.

I find it hard to believe that Fenstermaker had no idea why he was suspended; he could have illuminated Ed at that point as to what had occurred, but having both sides of the story is always a good thing, and Ed had his queries out already.

In the November 25 post, Fenstermaker lays it out a little more clearly. He says that he had been asked by five detainees to represent them. He agreed to represent three of them. Of the other two, one he felt there was a conflict and the other had not directly asked him for representation, even though he has since done so and Fenstermaker believes that he does, in fact, represent the detainee now.

At any rate, after he had agreed to represent two of them, Fenstermaker claims that the John Adams project paid government selected attorneys to have him removed from the case. The John Adams Project is a joint venture between the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) formed to assist in the representation of detainees facing prosecution at Guantánamo.

Does Fenstermaker know why the Project and the DoJ wanted him removed? It's hard to tell. He says "I urge you to contact the ACLU and ask them why they dropped the John Adams Project..." but then explains that the detainees fired their John Adams Project attorneys as soon as they learned of his suspension. Fenstermaker says that this interference in his representation is a violation of their rights and blames the ACLU and NACDL for "assisting in these violations." He alleges wrongdoing in that they "went so far as to pay civilian attorneys to do legal work, with donated funds, to violate these guys' rights."

We're then told to believe that the detainees were so upset about Fenstermaker's suspension that they fired their attorneys and tried to plead guilty. He says that his "suspension was a real sore spot for the detainees":

My suspension was a real sore spot for the detainees and directly led to the 9/11 defendants firing their military and civilian attorneys and attempting to take a guilty plea about 12 or 13 days after they learned, on October 22, 2008, that I had been suspended.

As it stands now, Ed Morrissey is following up on the question of who really represents whom. I can't figure out why Fenstermaker is making such a show of this. He had to know how inflammatory his comments on the O'Reilly interview would be. For him to hold the position with both Ed and O'Reilly that the 9/11 victims weren't necessarily murdered is preposterous. His line is "that's for a jury to decide" is just ridiculous, and intentionally inflammatory.

Fenstermaker is baiting the American public with this interview with O'Reilly and this very open exchange with Ed Morrissey. Fenstermaker has made it clear that he's reading all the comments on Ed's posts, and he has almost insisted that Ed print his email address and cell phone number for readers to contact him. He even offered to meet with them. He's baiting Ed's readers when he says

Please encourage your subscribers to continue attacking me. Their attacks only highlight how absurd it is for people who don’t know what is going on to have a say in matters such as these. For bloggers to imply that I never served on active duty is quite humorous. My AF friends are getting a kick out of this. I relish reading your subscribers’ nonsense.

Multiple times he makes reference to the readers and comments.

But what are his motivations? Do you really want to invite that much negative publicity? Does he hope it will taint his client's case? Is he trying to build his own case against the ACLU and DoJ? Is he trying to be the next Gloria Allred or Mark Geragos? Is he trying for a reality show?!

At any rate, it's going to continue to be interesting to see what Ed uncovers here in the next few days, or if Fenstermaker makes any more television rounds. You can bet he isn't going to crawl quietly back under his rock.

For more, see Ed's posts in full:
November 24
November 25
November 28

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pink "Imperfection"

Good Old-Fashioned Cronyism

I'm no lawyer and I'm no expert in constitutional law, but from where I'm sitting, Rep. Darrell Issa sounds pretty reasonable when he says that the DOJ judgment to keep funding ACORN is "old-fashioned cronyism."

This decision was made a month ago and was posted online last week.

It appears that the acting assistant attorney general, who broke out a dictionary AND a thesaurus to look up "provided to," is interpreting the language in what he calls a "discretionary" manner to avoid being sued (again) by ACORN:

Mr. Barron said he had based his conclusion on the statute’s phrase “provided to.” This phrase, he said, has no clearly defined meaning in the realm of government spending — unlike words like “obligate” and “expend.”

Citing dictionary and thesaurus entries, he said “provided to” could be interpreted as meaning only instances in which an official was making “discretionary choices” about whether to give the group money, rather than instances in which the transfer of money to Acorn was required to satisfy contractual obligations.

Since there are two possible ways to construe the term “provided to,” Mr. Barron wrote, it makes sense to pick the interpretation that allows the government to avoid breaching contracts.

Since ACORN has already sued the United States government over the October spending bill which "included a provision that said no taxpayer money — including money authorized by previous legislation — could be 'provided to' the group or its affiliates," there is no reason to think they wouldn't continue to pursue the issue if they don't get their contractually promised cash.

So who is running this show, anyway?

It appears ACORN is.

Jake Tapper has Rep. Issa's statement:

"The bipartisan intent of Congress was clear – no more federal dollars should flow to ACORN," Issa said. "It is telling that this administration continues to look for every excuse possible to circumvent the intent of Congress. Taxpayers should not have to continue subsidizing a criminal enterprise that helped Barack Obama get elected president. The politicization of the Justice Department to pay back one of the president’s political allies is shameful and amounts to nothing more than old-fashioned cronyism.”

It's just beyond belief to me that an organization with such a large number of criminal indictments and charges and investigations (oh my) would continue to get checks from the U.S. Government. Only in Eric Holder's justice department could this happen.

H/T: Memeorandum

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around - The Don't-Rush-Me-Into-Christmas Edition

So far, the Christmas spirit hasn't knocked me down with giddy anticipation yet. My Christmas spirit is still packed away in cardboard boxes on the top shelf of my cedar closet. It will come, I suppose. Some years it strikes right after Thanksgiving. Some years it takes a little longer. I abhor decorating for Christmas before Halloween or Thanksgiving. I don't understand that. If you start focusing on Christmas before Thanksgiving is over, you've missed the best part of Thanksgiving. You're cheating yourself out of a holiday.

I like Christmas, I do. I hate the pressure of it, though. Black Friday! Hurry! Shop! It's an emergency!!!! Bah. The pressure to spend more money, to buy bigger gifts, more gifts, perfect gifts. No.

No. That's not what Christmas is to me. It should be about being with family, remembering the season, cooking decadent things that you only make once a year - and then sharing them with friends. It's about so much more than shiny wrapping and expensive presents.

Before we start stressing over Christmas on this blog, even though we do participate in crass commercialism, we'll finish up with Thanksgiving. I still have leftovers in my refrigerator. In fact, I woke up at 2:00 this morning and ate some cold dressing, had a glass of milk, and went back to bed. The Thanksgiving/fall decorations will stay out through the weekend. Fall is lovely in this part of the world right now. Lots of the leaves have fallen, but there are still some clinging to their limbs. Holdouts.

No sloppy leftovers in the blogosphere, though. Let's get to the links:

Reaganite Republican has a post on the Russian train disaster. Was it terrorism? Did they blow up their OWN train? Crazy. The world has gone crazy.

Bride of Rove sums up the global warming farce.

Sippican Cottage had a lovely Thanksgiving post.

Fishersville Mike tells you why heath care reform will fail. A dog story.

Ohmigodinheaven these women are too freakin' stupid to be on TV. Don't tell me Joy was just kidding. She wasn't. She's living proof than anybody in America can get on television. Ruby Slippers has the clip. Another Black Conservative has delicious comments. Newsbusters has the story, too. Memeorandum picked it up as well.

Jimmie Bise reminds me of one of my favorite commercials; yes, I watched it twice.

Stacy McCain puts Adam Lambert where he belongs - in the boring category. Be sure to read Stacy's email response at the bottom of that post.

A girl after my own heart, Little Miss Attila is still doing Thanksgiving. No Christmas there, yet, either!

I feel so left out.

This post by Pundette goes a long way into explaining why I have trouble getting into the Christmas spirit, sometimes.

I really wish I hadn't looked at this.

Professor Jacobson scares me to death.

From the typos on the menu to the elaborate "tent", Troglopundit sums up the State dinner.

Critical Narrative makes note of Carol Browner's conflict of interest issues.

Since I rarely say anything nice about Michelle Obama's fashion sense, write this down: I liked her dress for the State dinner.

Wyblog calls out nanny staters.

On a serious note, Carolyn Tackett is very much in my prayers these days. Keep her in your thoughts, please.

Okay that's enough for now. I have research papers to grade..yes, they're still in my car. I have about 50 pages left of my Ayn Rand biography to finish. I'm starting Going Rogue next. I have dogs to play with and leftovers to eat. Enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Three On a Post

Somebody Wants to Play

Holiday Shopping

I'm not about to get out and do Black Friday. The only thing I'm going out to buy today is dog food and a loaf of bread.

I have, however, started shopping a little bit. I just purchased the Sookie Stackhouse series for my teenager (it's okay - he doesn't read my blog). He's a reader and he liked the Twilight books. He has read the Christopher Paolini Eragon series over and over and over (and over), so I also picked up the new Paolini companion picture book. Very nice!

Last year I made a Christmas wish list on this blog, just for fun. I'll probably do that again, just because it was fun, and a girl can dream, right? In fact, looking back at it, I didn't necessarily get it all for Christmas, but I did get everything on my list except for the Charlie Brown DVD set. And the Clapton tickets weren't at Albert Hall, but in Dallas, which was even better because I got to see my daughter and son-in-law as a bonus! Definitely the highlight of my year. Nikki - you're covered for Christmas already! You can send me a card or something! I'm good.

Anyway, in the interest of capitalism, I'm stealing a page from Stacy McCain and will be posting some shopping links for your consideration. Who needs Black Friday and long lines when you can shop and help yourself and your blogging friends, too? And leading by example, I bought Donkey Cons and Going Rogue off Stacy's site. He probably made $0.35 off my clicks this month.


"It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool. "

I'm wondering why we can't get Charles Krauthammer to run for Congress. His plan for health care reform is just plain good common sense.

In his weekly column, Krauthammer first points out the problems with the current plans offered on Capitol Hill: the mandates, the subsidies, the increased taxes, the penalties, etc., pointing out that "The bill is irredeemable. It should not only be defeated. It should be immolated, its ashes scattered over the Senate swimming pool."

Amen to that!

(Does the Senate really have a swimming pool?)

Krauthammer's more simplified plan incorporates those things that Republicans have been saying all along such as portability across state lines. I'm loving his "oranges" example here:

Second, even more simple and simplifying, abolish the prohibition against buying health insurance across state lines. Some states have very few health insurers. Rates are high. So why not allow interstate competition? After all, you can buy oranges across state lines. If you couldn’t, oranges would be extremely expensive in Wisconsin, especially in winter. And the answer to the resulting high Wisconsin orange prices wouldn’t be the establishment of a public option — a federally run orange-growing company in Wisconsin — to introduce “competition.” It would be to allow Wisconsin residents to buy Florida oranges.

It just doesn't get any more simple than that, folks? Why in the world do we need a 2000+ page bill to correct or reform something that could be done so easily and without creating over 100 new boards, bureaucracies and commissions?

It makes no sense.

Read the whole thing - there's more and Krauthammer is spot on today.

Thomas Wilner's Weak Argument for Civilian Trials

With regard to the upcoming KSM trial in New York, Thomas Wilner has an Op-Ed in today's Wall Street Journal in which he attempts to make the case that Eric Holder's decision to hold criminal trials for these five terrorists is a good idea. Better, even, than a military tribunal. There are some problems with Mr. Wilner's argument, however, at least as I see it.

He begins his argument by attempting to make the case that these guys were captured "far from any battlefield":

The premeditated murder of innocent civilians far from any battlefield is not the act of a warrior, but of a criminal. The prior administration detained these men indefinitely as "enemy combatants." But the laws of war allow only temporary detention of combatants until the end of the armed conflict in which they were captured. They were never intended to authorize the detention of people for terrorist activities far from the battlefield.

I have to differ with him on that. In the first place, the war on terrorism is a world stage; the entire would could be seen as a battlefield in such a war. Secondly, the terrorists brought the battlefield to the United States when they attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and when they flew into that field in Shanksville. And thirdly, KSM was captured in Pakistan, which is definitely part of the "battlefield" as a neighbor to Afghanistan and a harbor to al Qaeda; it's been believed that bin Laden escaped the hills of Tora Bora to Pakistan when he was nearly captured by our military.

Wilner then attempts to make the case that there is some difference between a "terrorist" and an "enemy combatant" to the degree that a terrorist shouldn't be taken as seriously as an enemy combatant. His reasoning seems to be that the terrorist does not wear the uniform of his country and the enemy combatant does. Again, this is a different kind of war; in a sense, KSM and friends ARE wearing the uniform of their cause because they are fighting for radical Islam and their uniform is their hatred for Americans. Just because this is a different kind of war does not make it any less of a war.

Wilner cites the high conviction rate of terrorists in civilian courts:

In a detailed study prepared in 2006 under the Bush administration, the Justice Department reported "impressive success" in convicting terrorists. Between September 2001 and June 2006, it obtained convictions against more than 250 people for terrorism-related offenses, covering a range of activities, from completed acts of terrorism to the "early stages of terrorist planning."

Nobody really doubts that a conviction could be obtained, but as Andrew McCarthy said last week, "The problem on this ride is not the destination, but the journey." KSM and his attorneys will have access to a plethora of sensitive information.

Wilner tries to make the case that sensitive information will be protected, but there are no guarantees of that. In fact, as Wilner himself says, KSM and friends will have access to that information because "as the Supreme Court emphasized in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Boumediene v. Bush (2008), detainees must be given the opportunity to confront the evidence against them." Wilner says that the Classified Information Procedures Act will protect that information, but it didn't in the case of the Blind Sheikh trial.

Again, I cite Andrew McCarthy, who has some experience in trying enemy combatants in civilian courts, who says, "Nothing results in more disclosures of government intelligence than civilian trials. They are a banquet of information, not just at the discovery stage but in the trial process itself, where witnesses — intelligence sources — must expose themselves and their secrets."

And there are real problems with Wilner's argument in his next paragraph:

Military tribunals may be appropriate when the perpetrators are combatants or the targets are military, as with the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. But they have a lower conviction rate and do not have the same international credibility as trials in the federal courts. Moreover, federal judges have extensive experience dealing with these cases, with attempts to disrupt the process, and with keeping the focus on the key issue of guilt or innocence, rather than on the legitimacy of the forum being used.

One of the targets on 9/11 was the Pentagon which is most assuredly a military target, so Wilner's first sentence is discounted. A military tribunal is absolutely in order for KSM on those grounds. As far as a lower conviction rate for military tribunals, that's not relevant in the case of KSM either as he had already plead guilty in his military commission. Military commissions are absolutely legitimate forums as Eric Holder even agrees by moving the trial of the USS Cole bombers there. So, I don't see the sense of Wilner's argument here.

Wilner seems to be saying that KSM ought be tried in a civilian court because he wasn't captured on any battlefield and he didn't attack a military target - and both premises are incorrect. Wilner's attempts to support his argument by claiming that we're more likely to get a conviction for KSM in a civilian court is also a non sequitur as KSM had already pled guilty. And at least if KSM and friends attempt to use the courtroom as a forum for their hatred of America then a military commission would be the most appropriate place for that as the American people wouldn't have to listen to it. It removes the forum.

The way I see it, if there IS a case to be made for KSM to be tried in New York, Mr. Wilner didn't make it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Prepping for Thanksgiving

Light blogging over the next couple of days, I suppose.

I've been busy all morning in the kitchen. I always do a brined turkey, so I got that underway first thing this morning. I use Emeril's recipe and it has never failed me (I double it because this recipe is for a 6 lb. turkey breast and I'm cooking a 12 lb. turkey.)

We do traditional cornbread dressing around here, so I made three pans of cornbread and got the celery and onions cut up for that. All ready to go!

I made a pecan pie; my mother has two pecan trees in her yard and every day for the past two weeks I'll fill up a bag of pecans when I go over there to check on her and give her the daily meds. Every night Steve shells them! Quite a deal! We runneth over in pecans this year, so this is the first of probably many pecan pies. Pecan pralines at Christmas. Roasted & salted pecans. Pecans in cookies. Lots of pecans.

I made an apple pie, too, because I had some Granny Smith apples here that needed to be eaten. It's in the oven now.

I've made my annual "Double Berry Congealed Salad" which is cranberries & raspberry jello, celery and pecans. Sounds odd, but it's great! Very pretty at Christmas.

Tomorrow I'll have a couple of casseroles to put together which I can do while the turkey cooks.

So, I think I've got Thanksgiving in hand, barring some crazy disaster.

Beyond that, I've got 50 research papers to grade before I go back to work on Monday. They are in the trunk of my car where they have been since last Tuesday. I'm not making much headway. Tomorrow I will probably bring them in the house and start on them while everyone else naps off dinner.

I'm just over halfway done with the Ayn Rand biography. I'm finding it very interesting but she was, well, let's just say 'different'. I recommend the book though, if you're interested in her at all. Heller spends a little too much time giving plot summaries of Rand's novels - I could do without that, but she does reveal a great deal about her life and what many believed to be an odd marriage.

So, what are YOU doing for Thanksgiving?

Selling Out the SEALs

Yesterday I started hearing about the SEALs who have been charged for giving a murdering terrorist thug a fat lip. As I read the reports my first reaction was..."there's got to be more to this. This just can't be true as written!" A fat lip? C'mon!

I'm not finding anything else new this morning. It does, in fact, seem that three SEALs will go before a court marital in January to face charges and possibly be kicked out of the military. Incredible.

By now you've seen the report, but here's a snip, just in case, from Fox News:

Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told FoxNews.com.

The three, all members of the Navy’s elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral’s mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named “Objective Amber,” told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.

You remember the murder of those Blackwater guards? They were killed, burned, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge while a mob danced around them and the press took pictures.

How long before Abed gets a trial in New York?

I'm reminded once again of Marcus Luttrell and the agonizing decision he and his fellow SEALs had to make on the side of that mountain in Afghanistan. Let the goatherds go, and risk being exposed, or kill them and risk being tried and convicted in the US media?

His buddy, Matthew Axelson said, " We're not murderers. No matter what we do. We're on active duty behind enemy lines, sent here by our senior commanders. We have a right to do everything we can to save our own lives. The military decision is obvious. To turn them loose would be wrong."

While the SEALs capturing this Abed were not necessarily facing the same life and death decision, they probably could have just as easily shot the guy and been done with it, but instead, like Luttrell and his team, decided to put their faith in the system.

Luttrell said in retrospect, after they decided to let the goatherds go, "It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life."

I wonder if that's what our SEALs are thinking now? That putting their faith in the system was not such a good idea. And how will this affect their decisions in the future? Why bring the guy in when all you're going to get is a court martial? The alternatives to that would be to kill him on scene and make the case that you were defending yourself, or let him go, avoid the hassle and let him live to terrorize another day.

I'm guessing it's the hypersensitivity to abuse after Abu Ghraib and Club Gitmo that makes a fat lip worth a court martial. If that is the case, we're in for a world of troubles. In a battle zone, soldiers should not have to worry about such things. These guys did their job. Period. PERIOD!

(More at Memeorandum)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Make of This What You Will...

A new low:


Previously:

August 23
July 26
July 25
July 9
July 7
June 30
June 23

Dear AARP...

Michelle Rhee and the Kevin Johnson Sex Scandal

If you were going to write a trashy sex novel you could do worse than look at the Gerald Walpin story for ideas.

Byron York continues to expose the White House shenanigans that the majority of the media won't report. Today he explains the role Michelle Rhee, head of the Washington D.C. school system and the fiancee of Kevin Jones, played in the scandal:

At the time, Walpin was investigating a California private school known as St. Hope, which was founded by Kevin Johnson, the former NBA star and friend of Rhee's who was running for mayor of Sacramento. St. Hope had received about $850,000 in AmeriCorps money, and Walpin's investigators were looking into charges that Johnson had misused those funds by assigning paid volunteer tutors to run errands for him and wash his car, as well as making them take part in political activities.

In the course of the investigation, some young female AmeriCorps volunteers also charged that Johnson had made inappropriate sexual advances toward them and offered one of them $1,000 a month to keep quiet.

Rhee, who later became engaged to marry Johnson, had been on St. Hope's board of directors before taking over as chief of the District of Columbia system. Her apparent goal, as she visited Walpin, was to vouch for Johnson.

What a tangled web we weave...Rhee trying to vouch for Johnson?

Now cut to Stacy McCain's story today in which he digs up from WorldNetDaily this treasure regarding the sexual misconduct charges against Johnson:

About 11:00 p.m., Mr. Johnson arrived at St. Hope and instructed [her] to gather her things and come with him. Mr. Johnson drove to [her] apartment, which is managed by St. Hope Development and houses its AmeriCorps members, purportedly so that they could review the students' grades. While in [her] apartment, in which another AmeriCorps member had a separate bedroom, Mr. Johnson laid down on [her] bed. [The woman] sat on the edge of the bed to show him the grades, at which time Mr. Johnson "layed [sic] down behind me, cupping his body around mine like the letter C. After about 2-3 minutes or so, I felt his hand on my left side where my hip bone is."

Since sex sells, I guess we can expect to hear about this in all the major newspapers, right? I mean, if Sarah Palin had acted the way either Johnson OR Rhee had, wouldn't we hear about it? Wouldn't the ethics charges be gargantuan? What's the difference?

More at Memeorandum.

“You are going to hear a lot of United States government propaganda.”

If you can get all the way through this video without spewing your coffee, let me know:



I'm speechless right now, but I'll have more later.

Louisiana Purchase Mary

Saturday night we all saw what Mary Landrieu's going price is. Not only that, we saw her on the Senate floor adamantly defend her decision to sell her vote.

Now, WAFB in Baton Rouge raises the question of Bobby Jindal and his silence on the matter. Jindal is on the record in opposition to Obamacare, and as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, he has some experience in that arena. During his tenure at DHH he turned a $400 million deficit into a multi-year surplus. On Obamacare he has said "Only Democrats in Washington would propose new taxes on businesses and families in the middle of a recession, $900 billion in new spending at a time of record deficits, and increased taxes on health insurance and products to reduce health-care costs."

In voting to move the debate forward on Obamacare, Mary Landrieu sold her vote for $100 million, and boasted from the Senate floor that it was really $300 million. Landrieu explained, as we are all familiar by now, that Louisiana's debit sheet made the state look much wealthier than it actually is following the aid influx of two hurricanes, and that Louisiana is "is poor as it ever was, if not poorer."

Landrieu also said she was responding to requests from Governor Jindal and his administration who have been lobbying Washington for more Medicaid help. Jim Engster, a Baton Rouge political analyst, says that "You hate to look a gift horse in the mouth and in this case, it was a Democrat, Mary Landrieu, who is an ideological foe, who came through with the bacon."

The thing is, this bill isn't about Louisiana. It's about the entire country. It's about growing government and taking over a huge section of the economic sector. It's about radically changing the health care system of the country towards inferior care, rationing, higher taxes, and job killing mandates.

Not just about Louisiana.

Jeff Sadow, political science professor at LSU-S, wrote that even if changes were made to make this horrible bill slightly better, which the debate supposedly allows, it's still a horrible bill: "For Landrieu to support something like that would be a dereliction of duty to do what is best for Louisiana and America. All the set-aside money for the state cannot obliterate this truth, illuminating the craven aspect of Landrieu which should not salve her conscience, if she really does support a slightly less obnoxious version."

WAFB contacted Jindal for an interview and he declined.

There really isn't much he could say though. There isn't much else anyone needs to say about Mary Landrieu. She will forever be remembered as Louisiana-Purchase-Mary.

A Comment on Booze-Blogging

Stacy McCain is booze-blogging this morning. Well, not really, but he's taken on the subject of booze snobs and touches on how the internet has affected the booze business.

I'm with Stacy in that I usually avoid wine and whiskey. There are occasions where I deviate from that rule, but not many. But talk to me about beer and I can go the distance with you unless you want to get all into the intricacies of microbreweries and then I'll call you a snob. Like Stacy, I abhor beer snobs, and snobbery in general.

For a moment there I thought Stacy might be calling me a snob when he said:

Beer snobs get on my nerves. It pains me to see these poseurs pestering a bartender in quest of some obscure imported premium ale -- dark as sin, with the flavor and texture of a peat bog -- just so their friends won't see them drinking a Bud.

To me, beer snobs are those microbrewery idgits who know where every microbrewery in the country is, what their last rank was at the latest beer festival.

Lord knows I've enjoyed my fair share of Bud Light, Miller Lite and other watery domestics, but once I discovered the richer tastes of the dark German beers, it was all over. Now I am one of those folks at the bar asking the bartender for what "dark as sin" beer they have so that I don't have to drink a tasteless domestic. Steve and I have Sam Adams Octoberfest hoarded in quantities to last me well into next spring.

Does that make me a snob? No, probably not. Stacy seems to be saying, and this is my rationalization anyway, that those are "poseurs" and only trying to impress. Not so in my case. I could care less who I impress, as anyone who takes a look at my fashion choices will tell you. No pretensions here. You probably won't find me on the internet trying to find the latest fashionable beer, Veblenian theory or not.

So, while I adore Stacy McCain, we must sadly part ways when we belly up to the bar because while he says "a beer is a beer is a beer," I have to differ. No more watery domestics for me unless I have no other choice. As a Corona man, I think Stacy might possibly agree (even though I think Corona tastes like equine urea). I guess I am a snob.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Transparency Sinks to a New Low in the Walpin Case

Via Memeorandum, Byron York reports in the Washington Examiner, on the Gerald Walpin case this morning, specifically, on the White House cover-up regarding Walpin's firing.

Remember, Walpin was told on June 10 to either resign or be fired. The next day, Senator Grassley objected because this violated the new law that says Congress must be given 30 days notice before an inspector general is fired.

York reports:

Pressed for the reason Walpin was fired, [Norman] Eisen told House and Senate aides that the White House conducted an "extensive review" of complaints about Walpin’s performance before deciding to dismiss him. According to the new report, Eisen told Congress that "his investigation into the merits of removing Gerald Walpin involved contacting members of the Corporation for National and Community Service [CNCS] board to confirm the existence of a 'consensus' in favor of removal." But Republican investigators later discovered that during that "extensive review," the White House did not even seek the views of the corporation's board -- the very people whose "consensus" purportedly led to Walpin's firing.

According to this new report, the only person on the CNCS board who objected was "Democratic mega-donor and Obama supporter" Alan Solomont. York says that "Only one other board member, vice-chairman Stephen Goldsmith, was even called by the White House, and that was on June 10, a few hours before Walpin was fired. According to the report, Goldsmith told investigators that 'the White House had already decided to remove Walpin and wanted to confirm [Goldsmith's] support for the action.'"

The day after Walpin's firing, a conference call was held, talking points were distributed and Walpin was toast.

The bottom line here is that the Obama administration was unhappy with Walpin's aggressive investigation of Kevin Johnson and the misuse of AmeriCorps funds so they figured out a way to get rid of him. Then they had to cover it up.

Adding insult to injury, the excuse initially was that the 77 year old Walpin was becoming "senile" or addled in his responses to the board. Since Walpin didn't appear senile or addled in any subsequent interviews, another cover had to be developed and suddenly he was fired for unspecified "performance issues."

York points out in his conclusion that "Through it all, the White House and top management of the corporation struggled to keep the story straight. By June 18, a week after the firing, with news coverage dying down -- it had never been very intense in the first place -- they felt they had succeeded."

To me, besides the smear on Walpin, the travesty of this story is that as York says, "it wasn't very intense in the first place." The media should have been all over this if they'd been doing their jobs.

Have we heard the last of this story? I hope not.

Related - Get up to speed!:

Bob Belvedere's IG-Gate blog

On this Blog:
Let The Investigations Begin
This Story Has Legs

Stacy McCain's coverage is here.

Spinning Mary Landrieu

Talk about some serious spinning...Chuck Schumer denies the fact that Mary Landrieu was bought off by saying she has "exceptional legislative ability."

This is what qualifies for an exceptional legislator, apparently. If you can hold out, if you can screw the rest of the country, if you can ignore the Constitution by voting for a bill that exceeds the powers of Congress, they YOU might be an exceptional legislator.

Yesterday, on Face the Nation, Schumer said, "One, she delivers the goods for Louisiana. She has constantly and I think the people of Louisiana respect her for it. Second she has real views on healthcare those are taken into account as well."

I take issue with the word "respect," Senator. "Respect" isn't quite the word I would use.

Falling on Deaf Ears

The new Rasmussen poll is out this morning and shows support for Obamacare is at an all time low of 38%. Sixty percent of voters polled believe that it will lead to higher health care costs.

Congress is not listening to the majority of the American people.

Vote them out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Frank Rich Falls Victim to Palin Derangement Syndrome

Oh my. Frank Rich takes off on Palin today. I've avoided writing about Palinophobia and the Palinopalooza currently raging in the blogosphere right now because others are doing such a great job. And, well, Andrew Sullivan. Enough said.

But Frank Rich is pushing me over the edge.

He admits to having read the book, which is something. I've got the book but I haven't read it yet; I'm still into this Ayn Rand biography and I don't want to start another book until I finish it.

After Rich criticizes Liz Cheney and Ana Marie Cox for not reading the entire tome, yet daring to pronounce judgment on it, he then takes apart "little noticed" elements of the book. She was star-struck, he says, by Bono, John Voight, and Gary Sinise, among others. I'm not sure this so so surprising, much less revealing, about Palin, but Rich thinks so.

He also finds it "equally revealing" that she doesn't mention Levi Johnston. Gosh dang, Frank, Levi has trashed her family from here to yon, embarrassed her daughter, threatened Palin, stripped naked, and basically revealed himself to be the trash that he is, so why would she waste any ink on him? Rich says Johnston is "persona non grata now that he’s taking off his campaign wardrobe." There's a little more to it than that, but Rich doesn't really care.

Rich says of Palin, "Even by the standard of politicians, this is a woman with an outsized ego." He makes this pronouncement after a passage in which he tells of her coming to terms with the birth of her Down's syndrome baby. Refresh my memory...when was the last column Rich wrote on Obama's "outsized ego"? Did I miss it? Because surely there is one. Isn't there?

No, this is what really bugs Rich, and the left, about Palin. He says "She is the pit bull in the china shop of American politics, and she can do what she wants, on her own timeline, all the while raking in the big bucks she couldn’t as a sitting governor. No one, least of all her own political party, can control her."

She does what she wants. She says what she wants. She does it however and whenever she wants to. And makes the big bucks. They don't know what to make of her. She's honest.

Then comes the race card. It's always there. Rich writes of Palin's fan base:

That demographic is white and non-urban: Just look at the stops and the faces on her carefully calibrated book tour. The affect is emotional — the angry air of grievance that emerged first at her campaign rallies in 2008, with their shrieked threats to Obama, and that has since resurfaced in the Hitler-fixated “tea party” movement (which she endorses in her book). It’s a politics of victimization and sloganeering with no policy solutions required beyond the conservative mantra of No Taxes.

"Hitler-fixated" tea party movement? Rich has tumbled head over teacup into Palin Derangement Syndrome.

He can't decide if she's running in 2012, if she should run, if she could win. She quotes Dick Cheney (because "dithering" is such an exclusive word it must have come only from Cheney.) "The discredited neocon hacks" who support Palin sure have a lot of work to do, he says. Rich even manages to take a shot at Lynn Vincent, which has turned into popular sport lately. So, anyone who likes Palin is probably "Hitler-fixated" and a discredited neocon hack. Got it.

Rich's muddles through whether or not Palin should run in 2012 by concluding that"no matter how much Palin tries to pass for 'center-right,' she’s unlikely to fool that vast pool of voters left, right and center who have already written her off as unqualified for the White House. The G.O.P. establishment knows this, and is frightened."

I haven't noticed Palin shooting for "center-right" but I suppose she could try if she wanted to. The GOP isn't afraid of Palin. No, I think the only one frightened of Palin is Frank Rich. And Andrew Sullivan.

"The problem on this ride is not the destination; it's the journey."

Andrew McCarthy has an OpEd in The New York Daily News regarding the decision to bring KSM to New York for trial. I consider McCarthy a worthy source on this subject as he was one of the prosecutors on the Blind Sheikh trial in 1995.

McCarthy argues against this move for the same reason I have been trying to convey. He says "The problem on this ride is not the destination; it's the journey."

That's exactly why this is such a bad decision. The left keeps accusing opponents of this decision of "having no faith" in the American justice system. That is NOT the case. Nobody doubts that a conviction can be obtained. Well, barring a crazy, off the reservation kind of judge who decides to "go rouge" and throw out everything.

No, the problem is what will be revealed in the mean time. We're still at war. We still have American soldiers in harm's way fighting this enemy every single day. We're putting them at risk by turning over our intelligence gathering secrets and information to KSM and his attorneys.

McCarthy points out:

Now, our enemies will be given a full-blown civilian trial with all the rights of the American citizens they are sworn to kill. They will get a year or more to sift through our national defense secrets. They will have wide latitude to turn the case into a trial of the Bush administration - publicizing information about anti-terrorism tactics that leftist lawyers will exploit in their quest for war crimes prosecutions in foreign courts against current and former U.S. officials.

As these guys had already confessed and had asked for the death penalty in a military commission, why back up and start all over in a civilian court? You must ask why, ALWAYS, with Obama.

In a military trial, McCarthy says, "we could have denied them access to classified information, forcing them to accept military lawyers with security clearances who could see such intelligence but not share it with our enemies."

Holder and the Obama administration are knowingly putting American citizens, national security, and American soldiers under undue risk.

Even worse, it sends a message to other terrorists out there that "If you kill thousands of civilians, we will give you better rights than if you attack military assets. That is dangerously irresponsible."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Live Blogging the Senate Debate

And here we go, live-blogging the debate in the Senate today about whether to debate. Yes, this all-day rare Saturday session is for the vote tonight at 8 on whether or not to bring Obamacare up for formal debate.

Senator Cantewell is up now, taking Landrieu's spot. Landrieu is up soon, supposedly.

Stay tuned.

Update 11:40: Senator Cantwell seems to think that since Medicare and Medicaid are going broke, we should make it even worse by adding more people to it. She says we spend too much money on unnecessary tests. Yeah, we're seeing that week how that's going to work - fewer mammograms and cervical cancer screenings. NOT a good plan.

Update 11:45: Landrieu is up. She begins with praise for Harry Reid, Cantwell, and Blanche Lincoln. Blather.

"I have been in meetings with economists" and constituents for two days, she says. She says this bill is "the best work of the Senate to date" on the subject. She's voting to "move forward" with the vote. She says "it should not be construed as to how I might vote as this debate comes to an end. It is a debate to move forward...with the important work underway." She says she has conducted a thorough review of the bill, concluded that we should move forward, but that much more work needs to be done.

Landrieu says "Doing nothing is not an option. Nor is waiting any longer for this debate to come to an end."

Nobody is suggesting doing nothing - someone should tell her that.

Phillip Klein's write up of Landrieu's remarks are here.

Update 11:50: Still with Landrieu. She says "I'm going to stay focused like a laser" on bringing down costs. She expresses concern for small business owners. Does she know that small business doesn't support this bill?

Addressing what encouraged her to move forward, she says this bill prevents insurance companies from raising rates on people that get sick. She doesn't mention the $100 million payoff and how that encouraged her to move forward.

Update 12:00: Advocates a trigger option if private market reforms fail to work. Keyword there - FAIL.

Update 12:05: Addressing "very partisan Republican bloggers" now. She's addressing the payoff. She says in 2005 Louisiana experienced two of the worst national disasters in recent memory. Says Louisiana's per capita income was permanently inflated as a result of aid received and "as a result it made us seem as if we were CT" and not LA. It made Louisiana seem as if we had become rich overnight; "our state is still as poor as it ever was." Landrieu says she is not going to be defensive about asking for help in this matter and, for the record, it's not a $100 million fix, it's a $300 million fix. She says and "I'm proud of asking for it and for receiving it. It's not why I'm moving forward to debate."

Unicorns for everyone.

Update 1:10: I took a break after Landrieu to make the roux for my gumbo. And now it's Al Franken? Oh dear god. I'm going back to the hot oil for a few minutes. I'll be back when he's gone.

Update 1:20: Blanche Lincoln is now on the floor. Says America can achieve unprecedented health care reform. You got that right.

She says small businesses and working families are reaching the breaking point because of rising health care costs. Taxpayers are already bearing the cost of treatment for the uninsured, she says. She says only one insurance company in her state of Arkansas controls over half the insurance market. Wouldn't that make the case for selling insurance across state lines?

Update 1:26: Lincoln says she's not worried about re-election. It's a good thing. 64% of Arkansans are against the bill. She says she doesn't support the public plan and that it could lead to future bailouts. She supports reform that "changes the rules" of the private insurance system. Insurance companies should not be able to "cherry-pick" healthy patients. She wants to limit subsidies to insurance companies. Insurance executives should not receive excess tax breaks or personal windfalls.

In other words, profits are bad.

She's voting yes.

Update 1:35: Lincoln says she won't vote for a final bill with a public option. She also points to the huge growth of government "since the year 2000." How about since January 2009?"

Update 1:45: Taking a short "lacuna" to run do the daily check on mom. NRO's The Corner is keeping up with the Senate - check there, but come back here in about an hour! Gumbo for all.

Update 4:00: I think every Dem must have been given instructions to get up and tell a sad story from your district about someone with a terrible health condition who loses his job and can't get coverage. Bonus points if you mention "donut hole," "AARP," or "Ted Kennedy."

The "yes" vote of Blanche Lincoln seems to seal the yes vote for later. It's worth continuing to listen to see what blather they continue to spew, however. Lincoln was pretty adamant about the public option and so it seems this bill may go through some small changes between now and the actual vote which should occur sometime after the Thanksgiving recess.

I'm all for chasing these Senators down during the recess in their districts and letting them know how you feel. Don't let up.

Update 4:25: John McCain calls the bill a monstrosity and outlines more reasonable approaches such as portability across state lines, tort reform, health care savings accounts and wellness incentives. "Why can't we do that?" he asks. Good question.

Update 4:36: Sen. Hatch has numbers: 70 new programs in this bill. 1,697 times the HHS is given decision making powers. Number of times tort reform is mentioned? Zero. Number of provisions prohibiting rationing? Zero. Number of government run programs which are financially sound over time? Zero. $465 billion dollars in cuts to Medicare. $2.5 trillion is the cost of this bill over ten years. $12 trillion is our total national debt.

Update 4:45: McCain again. He slams the reward to Louisiana. Again slams the issue of no malpractice reform in the bill. Lamar Alexander supports the case for tort reform. Says they should "re-earn the trust of the American people" by working on tort reform. McCain then goes back to the mammogram recommendations; Sen. Barrasso says his wife would have died without a mammogram in her 40s. "It was a screening mammogram that saved her life...she is a survivor, six years later."

Barasso points to page 1150 which talks about the "preventive task force" which makes the recommendations. Page 1189-1190 talks about the preventative task force, says Senator Kyl. The task force makes the recommendations and the secretary of HHS can deny payment based on that. The Secretary of HHS may "modify coverage" based on the reccomendations of the task force, and they may also provide that "no payment may be made for preventative service performed" that has not been approved. That's rationing, says Kyl.

Update 4:55: Sen. Risch: "Americans are frightened, and they should be, that health care rationing is coming to America if this bill is passed."

Update 5:35: I took another "lacuna" to eat some gumbo and watch LSU try to give the game away. Now Chuck Grassley is on the floor who says this bill "is worse than doing nothing." It imposes half a trillion dollars in new fees and taxes, he says, which is worse than doing nothing. It will hurt small business and destroy job creation; in addition, it breaks Obama's campaign promise to not raise taxes on those making less than $250,000 a year.

Update 5:55: Sen. Enzi: "America is facing the worst crisis since the Great Depression..."...cites jobless and unemployment numbers and wonders why under this situation we're dealing with heath care, now. He says "this bill introduces a massive government intrusion into the health care of every American." He says "This bill gets it wrong." The majority leader, without Republican support and without the support of the majority of the American people, is trying to "jam through" a partisan bill.

Update 6:20: Enzi wraps up and Max Baucus comes up. *sighs*. Time for an Octoberfest. Anybody still here? The vote is coming up before long. No real suspense there,but you never know.

Update 6:30: Senator McConnell now. Very somber. "This bill costs 2.5 trillion dollars that America does not have and cannot afford. It imposes punishing taxes on almost everyone. It raises health insurance premiums on the 85%of Americans who already have health insurance. ...A vote in favor of proceeding with this bill is a vote in favor of adding to the tax burden of the American people in the midst of huge unemployment...it is a vote in favor of deep cuts to Medicare for tens of millions of seniors who depend on it...it is a vote to continue the out of control spending binge Congress has been on all year. "

"If there was one Democrat, just one...who would say no tonight, none of this would happen. The voices of the American people would be heard. We've all seen the surveys; we know how they feel."

"Then we could start over with a common sense, step by step approach..."

Update 6:40: Still with McConnell. "We've heard some Senators come to the floor today and say they oppose this bill but they don't want to stop the debate...nobody is suggesting we stop the debate...but if we don't stop this bill tonight the only debate we'll be having is about higher premiums, not saving for the American people, higher taxes...cuts to Medicare...that's what the debate will be about."

"What we want to do is change the debate. Not end it. Change it. Because once we get on this bill the basic dimensions will not change."

"Why should we consider a bill we already know the American people oppose?"

Update 6:45: McConnell: "After tonight's vote we'll all go home and face our constituents. We'll have to tell them how we voted on raising their premiums, raising their taxes, and cutting their Medicare. For some of us that won't be a very easy conversation. But it doesn't have to be that way....we can work together step by step and create the common sense reforms that the American people have been asking for all along."

The American people "are hoping we say NO to this bill."

"All it would take...is just one member from the other side of the aisle to give us an opportunity, not to end the debate, but to change the debate in the direction the American people want us to go."

and now Harry Reid who gets up and calls McConnell a liar. Scum.

Update 6:47: Oh bless me. I can't take Harry Reid. Smarmy is the word that comes to mind. Is that a real word? It should be. Okay so King Harry says this bill will afford every American the opportunity to live a healthy life. Thank goodness because we've never done that before without Congress telling us to.

Harry invites you to join "the right side of history."

And via Twitter - Senator Byrd has just arrived at the Capitol.

Update 6:50: Harry points out that tonight's vote is not the end of the debate but just the beginning. It's not the final bill "as any high school civics textbook will tell you."

Reid wraps up ... "Our country deserves this debate. Our country needs this debate."

Update 6:54: Reid, "I would ask that we start the vote five minutes early and act as if it started at 8:00. " Clerk reporting motion for cloture. The vote will begin.

Final Update: And ... we are one step closer to socialized medicine, heath care rationing, and crippling taxes and job loss. 60 to 39.

Don't give up. Don't quit fighting.

(More at Memeorandum)

Highland Jazz & Blues Festival Needs Your Help, Shreveport!

From my inbox, a message from Kenny Koonce of The Highland Jazz and Blues Festival:

For the 6th year, the annual Highland Jazz and Blues Festival brought a unique experience to this hills of Columbia Park. One that is found no where else in our region of Louisiana. One that is more than just great music. But one that supports local artists and restaurants, and to promote the historic Highland neighborhood.

This year, though, could be the popular festival’s last!
The festival has been made possible by the generous support of the City of Shreveport’s Neighborhood Improvement Project (NIP) grants and grants from Shreveport Regional Arts Council. In 2009 those grants were cut, so festival organizers made the decision to implement internal cost-cutting and use money from savings to put on this much-loved event. The festival’s savings, though, will be depleted after the 2009 event.

Past efforts to encourage festival goers to become event members to help raise money for the festival have met with limited success, says Kenney Koonce, Highland Jazz and Blues Festival Chairman. “We have always been a free event,” says Koonce, “and we believe that people just assume they can come and enjoy it and that we will always be here. The message we want to get out is that without the help of those people who love this festival we won’t be back next year.”

“It would be such a huge loss to Highland and Shreveport if this great event had to go away,” says Festival Organizer Amy Loe. “People really enjoy the festival and I think given the opportunity, will want to save it.”

“People have suggested we charge an admission fee, but fencing off the park and hiring enough security to enforce it would be amazingly expensive and almost impossible to accomplish. Plus, we are committed to keeping this an event that is accessible to all.”

“We are trying to get the word out about the festival’s situation. If it is important to people, we know they will come forward with help and donations,” says Koonce. “If we are not successful in fundraising, we will understand that it has been a great 6-year run and will move on to other things.” You can help save this popular event. Simply visit www.highlandjazzandblues.org to make your tax deductible contribution now. The organization also offers corporate sponsorship opportunities. For more information, please contact us at info@highlandjazzandblues.org

Sure wish Katrina Mary would get $100 million to support that! Lacking that, I've made my donation. Come on Shreveport, step up and help out!

Full Metal Jacket Saturday: The Senate Shenanigans Edition

I don't even know why I'm going to watch the Senate shenanigans today because in my heart I feel like it's already a done deal, as they say, but I'm going to watch anyway. Once again I find myself embarrassed to be from Louisiana. Joseph Cao I could almost take; when he was the lone Republican in the House to vote for Obamacare, I told myself, "Well, that sucks, but he IS at least trying to represent the needs of his constituents and he does come from a democratic district. He's trying to stick to his principles." It didn't help much, but it was a small rationalization. Additionally, the measure would have passed with or without his vote.

But with Katrina-Mary Landrieu, as she is affectionately known around here, her sellout, her bribe - call it what it is - just disgusts me. She's a Democrat and is going to vote that way. That part doesn't shock me. What sickens me is first of all that she is selling her vote for $100 million. You will tell me, "Oh they all do that all the time anyway! They all make deals and sell their votes!" I know this. But then she has the temerity to tell us as late as last night that she still hasn't decided? Really? You've already crawled into bed with the devil but you haven't decided yet? We're supposed to believe that?

Word circulated a few weeks back that Katrina-Mary won't run for re-election. I wonder what sort of White House Czar job she has lined up? Because that $100 million won't go very far and eventually Louisiana, and every other state, is going to be on the hook trying to fund that huge new entitlement Congress is about to ran down our throats. There must be something else in it for her.

Disgusting. On to the happy links:

Ann Althouse has the story of a bookstore that won't even stock "Going Rogue" because their readers are "thinking people" and don't read drivel. Oh what snobs. Good lord. Donald Douglas also covers the story.

Bride of Rove has some comments about the new recommendations on pap smears and mammograms. Best takeout line? "Moral to that story is – don’t email me unless you are suicidal and need that extra shove." She cracks me up! Seriously!

New Conservative Generation notes TurboTax Tim Geithner's troubles.

Carol at No Sheeples Here does the best FMJRound Up. Ever.

It's odd how you can loathe someone you've never met, but that's how I feel about Levi Johnston. If I saw him enter the room, I'd look for an exit. Ruby Slippers has more.

I thoroughly enjoyed Stacy McCain's takedown of lizard trolls this week. I've dealt with a couple, but never so well as this.

Left Coast Rebel has a nifty depiction of the unemployment situation.

Did you know that special needs children will have their own special tax in Obamacare? Read Gateway Pundit.

Another Black Conservative points to Senator Leahy's ignorant conclusion that we "don't need to interrogate" bin Laden should he be captured. Incredible. Jimmie Bise was also watching that hearing, and has comments on Eric Holder's Very Bad Day.

Carolyn Tackett isn't losing any sleep over how the world feels about us.

There's a new blog on the block: What Would the Founding Fathers Do? Check it out!

Doug Ross is teasing me. Promises, promises.

The Daley Gator (and Michelle Malkin) are keeping up with the Democratic bribe list. Number One? Our own Katrina-Mary Landrieu.

Reaganite Republican has Saracuda on Dennis Miller. Cool!

Of course Professor Jacobson knows the real reason King Harry Reid wants a Saturday debate...

Pundette has a preview of the Senate Shenanigans today.

Honesty in Motion is ranting!

Monique Stuart weighs in on illegals, Rahn, and free health care.

Okay, I know I've left off some folks and I'll catch you later today or tomorrow. I've got a date with some Senators right now and need to scat.