Last night a small group of New England bloggers met for dinner at Khao Sarn Cuisine in Brookline. The group included Sol, Sissy and Tuck, Harry, Teresa, and me. The food was great, and the company even better. I'm enjoying these monthly get togethers.
Meanwhile, the remains of al Qaeda dream of building a new Afghanistan in Somalia. A terrorist organization our military smashed is being allowed to rebuild itself.
There's a vital lesson here: In the War on Terror, you've got to finish what you start. America quitting Somalia after suffering less than two dozen dead in the course of a battle won was the biggest single boost the terrorists ever received. The Clinton surrender in Mogadishu pointed al Qaeda straight toward 9/11.
The broken-off operation in Fallujah in April 2004, guaranteed that we'd have to go back in a bigger, bloodier way. Now, 13 years after the radio call "Black Hawk down," we'd better schedule some updated satellite coverage of downtown Mogadishu.
Meanwhile, consider this: Somalia was a global sideshow. We walked away. Now it threatens to become a prime refuge for terrorists. And a much tougher nut to crack.
We understand the General's desire not to undermine morale at the agency he's about to lead. But neither did he have to validate a good deal of the political left's current, if amusingly ironic, defense of the CIA's career spooks: the idea that policy makers should only rarely question the careerists' judgment, and that the careerists' assumptions shouldn't be challenged by new blood from the outside.
When President Bush first nominated General Hayden to be CIA director, some considered it a surrender to an agency that has often performed badly but then tried to undermine the government's policy through leaks and insubordination. We figured General Hayden deserved the benefit of the doubt. But his performance at his hearing makes us think his critics had a point.
"He has a lifetime of business experience. He has intimate knowledge of financial markets and an ability to explain economic issues in clear terms," Mr. Bush said of his nominee in an early morning Rose Garden announcement.
His path through the Senate was eased an hour later when Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and one of Mr. Bush's toughest critics, gave Mr. Paulson a vote of confidence.
"His experience, intelligence and deep understanding of national and global economic issues make him the best pick America could have hoped for," said Mr. Schumer, a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
I'm look forward to hearing him "explain economic issues in clear terms" and I hope he is able to do it well. As I've mentioned before, I think you develop a better appreciation for America when you have a good understanding of economics. And when our leaders in Washington understand economics there's less chance they'll pull some boneheaded stunt like sticking us with price controls.
"My opponent tells the story of this incident as if he was on the ground that fateful day. He somehow had a front row seat when all of the rest of America awaits the results of a monumental investigation, convicting these men without due process," Irey said.
Support for her candidacy comes, not only from Murtha's district, but from around the country as well. Still, it's a Diana vs. Goliath battle.
As of late April, Federal Election Commission records show that Ms. Irey had raised nearly $75,600 but had less than $27,000 in cash. Mr. Murtha, who is among the top recipients of lobbyist contributions in Congress, had nearly $1.5 million on hand for the race, according to the Post-Gazette.
She's a very long shot, but as the only woman ever to be elected as a Washington County commissioner, maybe Ms. Irey has a chance.
@ The economy. GDP doubled from 2003 to 2004, and was up double digits in 2005. Inflation and unemployment have both been falling steadily. Yes, the terrorists are still at it, but in the background you will notice all those people going to work, all the new cars and all the new construction. While big companies have stayed away from Iraq, and all those nasty headlines, smaller firms have been more aggressive. Life goes on...
Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.
Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
He defended the gifts, saying that they would never influence his position on the bill and he was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry.
Reid was joined at the fights by Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona and John Ensign of Nevada.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid's federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.
We celebrate Memorial Day today. I don't believe I have words that can pay adequate tribute to the bravery, the heroism, and the sacrifice that the best of our fellow citizens have made for all of us. It suddenly seems clear to me now that the sacrifices they made were not just for us in America but for people everywhere. The brave men and women who have died fighting for America gave their last full measure for the idea that found life in the place that is America. I am truly grateful.
Hopes for a constitutional crisis are kept afloat today by way of a Washington Post article that appears under the headline, Raid Was Tipping Point For an Angry Congress. The raid in question is the FBI search of Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson's congressional office and the subsequent seizure of criminal evidence from it. In a related article, we are told that Jefferson is under investigation for at least eight bribery schemes.
Since it is unclear from the text of the constitution why this should be considered a crisis over balance of powers, Post reporters Peter Baker and Zachary A. Goldfarb look elsewhere to support their proposition.
The dispute speaks to the broader balance of power between executive and legislative branches in a time of war, he said, as most exemplified in the debate over the NSA surveillance.
"If the Congress is wrong to pry into the intelligence methods and information that the president is amassing for purposes of protecting us, the consequences of that are we will not be protected," Kmiec [Douglas W. Kmiec, Pepperdine University constitutional law specialist] said. "If the president is wrong, we will have distorted the protections of privacy and civil liberty for a generation or more, and maybe forever. Those stakes seem to me to be rather dramatic."
Congressional confusion and second thoughts over proper strategy for fighting the war on terror and the extent to which terrorists can be kept under surveillance have apparently given way. The battle to re-establish Congressional pre-eminence has given members from both parties a new focal point and a singleness of purpose. Unfortunately, a fabricated constitutional right to immunity from criminal investigation is not the best choice for their battleground.
Meanwhile, here in New Hampshire there are dueling opinions on the matter. Today's dead tree edition of the Nashua Telegraph carries a column by John Hall of Media General. I couldn't find it on the Telegraph website, but it turned up on a Google search at Scripps Howard News Service. In his column Mr. Hall notes that Republican outcry lends credibility to the claim that there is a constitutional issue here. He goes on to say,
As for the Constitution, the FBI raid was overly aggressive. The same result could probably have been achieved with a properly executed court order.
And he concludes,
Can criminal evidence be hidden away from investigators on taxpayer-supported, public property? That proposition won't stand either in the courts or the court of public opinion. The betting is that the Supreme Court will find a way to let the FBI in with a proper warrant next time.
At least Mr. Hall implies some opposition to the idea that Congress should be above the law. But I can't tell whether he thinks there was no warrant issued for the search, or if there was a warrant but it was in some way improper, or if a warrant is not considered a court order. But just in case Mr. Hall hasn't heard, there was a warrant and it was signed by a judge. That by itself would seem to seem to say this is not a case of Executive Branch overreach, since the Judicial Branch got its two cents in as well.
I find it mildy puzzling that the Telegraph would print that particular column. One would expect that there are journalists employed at the Telegraph, the kind that discover and report news. Sometimes facts are considered news. It's odd that the Telegraph would consider unimportant the fact that a warrant was issued, or that they could miss that fact altogether. In either case they mislead their readers on that point by printing Hall's column.
The Manchester Union Leader presents an opposing viewpoint. On today's editorial page they weigh in this way.
After the FBI searched — with court order — the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., House members of both parties went bonkers. House Republican leaders asserted that the search was unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers doctrine. They need to re-read their Constitution. If they don’t have a copy, there’s a nice hand-written one over at the National Archives.
Nothing in that document forbids law enforcement from investigating a member of Congress for a crime. Article 1, Section 6 states that members of the House and Senate “shall in all Cases except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”
Credit goes to the Union Leader. Not only do they point out that the search was carried out under a court order, they helpfully provide the pertinent text of the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps, the reason Post editors haven't included the actual text of the Constitution in any of their news articles on this topic is that it doesn't support the side of the story that has their sympathy. Instead, they consult superior legal minds who interpret and explain why Congressmen should be allowed exemption from laws the rest of us have to live by. I'm thankful that here in New Hampshire, at least at the Union Leader, they don't feel that way.
A truly strong nation will permit legal avenues of dissent for all groups that pursue their aspirations without violence. An advancing nation will pursue economic reform, to unleash the great entrepreneurial energy of its people. A thriving nation will respect the rights of women, because no society can prosper while denying opportunity to half its citizens. Mothers and fathers and children across the Islamic world, and all the world, share the same fears and aspirations. In poverty, they struggle. In tyranny, they suffer. And as we saw in Afghanistan, in liberation they celebrate.