The Spectacle Blog
Best source on Russian foreign policy speaks dismissively of the charge by Saakashvili of Georgia that Russia was behind the simultaneous explosions on three gas pipelines and one electric line over the weekend that pushed Tblisi and much of the U.S.-mission-critical state of Georgia into dark cold.
Puzzle is what caused the so-called explosions?
Consider accident. Russia's infrastructure is pasted together, and pipelines blowing up in a violent cold snap is Soviet-age believable. Then again, the gas lines are Gazprom's, who did the coordinated turn down of gas a few weeks back through Ukraine into Europe (unless it was Gazprom thugs stealing in Ukraine); so perhaps it was just a Gazprom failure.
Consider terror. The natural gas lines into Georgia pass through North Ossetia, which is the neighborhood of the Chechen attack dogs.
The Prez was at his best today giving the Landon Lecture at the Kansas State University. He was clear and not deferential to his critics. He made a point that the Dems will never understand: that for the President of the United States, protecting American citizens is Job 1.
On the NSA surveillance of suspected terrorists, he was unapologetic, insistent, and correct that the NSA surveillance of terrorists he authorized was legal and necessary. And, as he pointed out, if he were eager to break the law, why brief congressional leaders more than a dozen times?
There is so much misunderstanding about the NSA program -- and the FISA law -- that even Gen. Mike Hayden (former director of NSA and now Deputy National Intelligence Director) couldn't sort it all out. But he did make clear that the interception of phone calls and such is not "domestic" intelligence (i.e., isn't listening in to phone calls between people in the USA) and is aimed only at suspected al-Qaeda associates and contacts.
Wlady: MTP is often a parody of itself. The Carville-Matalin show is not even a headliner act any more. Adding Begala is like adding Tony Curtis to the cast of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes."
Jed, Dave: Your exchange this morning re Carville, Begala, and Meet the Press reminded me of when it's most fun to shut that program off for good -- whenever Carville and his wife are Russert's special guests. A "He Said, She Said" it's not. Russert prides himself on being top of the line, yet in resorting to that hideous pairing he turns his show to cynical and pointless garbage filler less appetizing than professional wrestling. I'd rather watch Al Jazeerah.
While patrolling the New York Times op-ed page for nonsense is usually best avoided (it's a quick path to burnout), the Gray Lady's editorial on Judge Alito deserves comment. Contempt has driven the Times to laziness -- factual and intellectual.
The first sentence gives away their irrational disdain for Alito:
If Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s confirmation hearings lacked drama, apart from his wife's bizarrely over-covered crying jag, it is because they confirmed the obvious.
Crying jag? Admittedly, your scribes here at TAS HQ had to look that one up: it's some sort of slang for "a state or feeling of exhilaration or intoxication usually induced by liquor," or "spree." So Mrs. Alito breaking down after witnessing the cheap browbeating of her husband is akin to a drunken outburst? If Republicans had made a Democrat nominee's wife cry, she'd be getting group hugs on the Today Show. Turn the tables and the Times smears her.
This, from PW Daily:
The Osama Book Club?
Common Courage Press has been scrambling to keep up with demand for Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower by William Blum, currently hovering around #10 on the Amazon.com bestseller list, after an endorsement by Osama Bin Laden in the audiotape he released last Thursday….
Says the author:
"This is almost as good as being an Oprah book," he told the Washington Post.
Yeah, I think I'll stick with Oprah.
While Tim Kaine's slick, promise-breaking tax raising may be a source of concern for national Democrats, perhaps there's another reason they're scrambling. Maybe, just maybe, they've finally seen footage from his race against Jerry Kilgore and found the eyebrow. As Chad Dotson has noted and reiterated last week at RedState, Kaine's wandering eyebrow could distract viewers from the content of his Democrat response, however brilliant.
So the day after the Democrat Party elders announce that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine would provide the party's response to President Bush's State of the Union Address, Kaine confirms their wisdom by announcing that he was raising taxes on his citizens.
And this was his first major policy announcement since being sworn in as governor.
Now Democrats are looking for a way to dump Kaine, or at least water down his appearance. There is talk on Capitol Hill of placing him with at least one other Democrat of national stature. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who had a hand in picking Kaine, has is said by some sources to have offered his own services.
"The Kaine pick is now an embarrassment that we didn't need and could have avoided," says Democratic National Committee staffer. "We wanted to find some everyday citizens to respond directly to the President. But they went for the slick politician, and look where it got them?"
Back where Democrats appear to like it: catching up.
Word on the Hill is that Sen. Harry Reid very much wants this ethics brouhaha to go away. Like yesterday.
While some in his caucus intend to play the Jack Abramoff scandal for it's worth, Reid feels extremely exposed due to his own political background (he is an elected official from Nevada, after all), and privately has expressed to colleagues concerns that the Democrat Party's sometimes too-close-to-be-legal financial ties to organized labor (they are big in Nevada too, don't forget), might gain greater attention.