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In a stunning development, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused the CIA of lying to her and “misleading the Congress of the United States.” In fact, she’s practically dared the CIA to leak more information about the briefings. I suspect that’s gonna hurt her in the near future.

Asked whether she was accusing the CIA of lying to her during a 2002 briefing on the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Pelosi said: “Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States, misleading the Congress of the United States. I am.”

She went on to call on the CIA to release the details of briefings they provided to Congress and for the creation of a truth commission to “determine how intelligence was misused and how controversial and possibly illegal activities like torture were authorized within the executive branch.”

Speaker Pelosi is using the CIA as a weapon to drag the Bush administration into this. Unfortunately for Ms. Pelosi, she’s made too many conflicting statements to be credible. She started off by saying she hadn’t been briefed, then switched her story to say that she’d been briefed that waterboarding was legal but it wasn’t being used before saying that Jane Harman was writing a letter expressing concerns with the legality of waterboarding to now saying that the CIA mislead her and Congress.

Ed nails it with this commentary:

More to the point, people who attended the same and similar briefings in that period have already acknowledged publicly that the CIA told them explicitly of their use. Some briefings included videotapes of the interrogations, which have been destroyed and created their own scandal on Capitol Hill and Langley.

It isn’t difficult to not trust Ms. Pelosi at this point. Her statements have been proven false from so many different directions that it’s impossible to keep track of all the ways.

Rather than go through all the different melodramas created by Ms. Pelosi’s varying stories, I’ll just simplify it to this: Speaker Pelosi was caught lying. Instead of admitting she lied, she concocted more lies which have gotten her into deeper trouble.

In short, Ms. Pelosi hasn’t figured out that the first rule of holes is to stop digging.

Let the leak wars begin.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Anyone who’s heard of Harvard Law School student Joel Pollak’s run-in with Barney Frank are likely calling him a hero. I certainly am, especially after I watched Greta’s interview of him last night:

What’s more impressive is what he said about his political journey:

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He said that it was part of a right-wing attack. I think at some point, you said that you were a conservative. Are you part of some, you know, right-wing organization? You know, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

POLLAK: Sure. Well, when I came to law school, I was actually a Democrat. My first year, I was the section representative to the Harvard law school Democrats. But I found that my positions differed widely from those of some of my friends and those of the Democratic Party, especially on foreign policy, but on other issues, as well. And I liked many Democratic politicians. I voted for Senator Obama when he was running for senator in 2004, but I was disappointed with the job he did for Illinois.

I still had some hope for him as a candidate, but as the election cycle started, I really was alarmed by some of the things he was saying about foreign policy and about free trade and the economy. So I had always admired Senator McCain, and I volunteered on the McCain campaign, and that was my first time that I was involved in Republican politics of any kind.

And one of the reasons I don’t consider myself a Democrat anymore is because whenever you ask a question, you’re labeled. You’re put into a box. I found that even when I was a left-wing Democrat, as I was, and I was so left-wing in my undergrad days that I thought Bill Clinton was too far to the center. When I would go to left-wing events, I found that questioners did exactly what Congressman Frank did. When I went to conservative events, they listened to the question and they gave me an answer. And so I think that that has a profound effect on you over time, if you’re the kind of person who’s curious about the way the world works.

I hope my liberal friends will think about that last paragraph. I hope they ask themselves if they deflect blame onto someone else or if they change subjects without answering questions. I hope they can say they don’t react like Chairman Frank reacted. His behavior, which he consistently displays, is that of a bitter, hateful man who gets agitated by people he perceives don’t wholeheartedly buy into his thinking.

Chairman Frank represents the worst qualities of the Democratic Party. He’s a contemptible man who’d rather belittle people than deal honestly with those who don’t agree with him. Chairman Frank long ago lost the notion that he’s a public servant. Chairman Frank apparently thinks that it’s ok for public servants to belittle the people who pay his salary. That’s a disgusting attitude and there’s no excusing it.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

It’s amazing how thin-skinned the Obama-Biden ticket is. Today, they whined that the questions WFTV anchor-reporter Barbara West asked Sen. Biden. First, here’s a transcript of their interview:

WEST: I know you’re in North Carolina trying to help get out the vote but aren’t you embarassed by the blatant attempts to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?

BIDEN: I am not embarassed by it. We are not tied to it. We have not paid them one single penny to register a single solitary voter. We have the best GOTV operation in modern history. We’ve registered the voters ourselves and so there is no relationship. So I am embarassed for anybody in ACORN who went out there and registered somebody who shouldn’t be registered. I’m not embarrassed by our campaign because we haven’t paid ACORN a single penny to register a single voter.

WEST: But in the past, Sen. Obama was a community organizer for ACORN. He was an attorney for ACORN and certainly in the Senate, he has been a benefactor for ACORN.

BIDEN: How has he been a benefactor for ACORN? He was a community organizer. John McCain stood before ACORN not long ago and complimented them on the great work they did. Does tghat make John McCain complicit in any mistake that ACORN made? C’mon. Let’s get real.

WEST: Okay, moving onto the next question. Sen. Obama famously told Joe the Plumber that he wanted to spread his wealth around. Gallup polls show 84% of Americans prefer government focus on improving financial conditions and creating more jobs in the U.S. as opposed to taking steps to distributing wealth. Isn’t Sen. Obama’s statement a potentially crushing political blunder?

BIDEN: Absolutely not. The only person that’s spread the wealth around has been George Bush and John McCain’s tax policy. They have devastated the middle class. For the first time since the 1920′s, the top 1% make 21% of the income in America. That isn’t the way it was before George Bush became president. All we want is the middle class to have a fighting chance. That’s why we focus all of our efforts on restoring the middle class and giving them a tax break. And John McCain doubles down on Bush’s tax cuts and gives a $300 billion in tax cuts for the largest companies in America. We don’t think that’s the way to do it. We think give the middle class a break. That’s the way to do it.

WEST: You may recognize this famous quote. From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs. That’s from Karl Marx. How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?

BIDEN: Are you joking? Is this a joke?

WEST: No.

BIDEN: Is that a real question?

WEST: It’s a real question.

BIDEN: He is not spreading the wealth around. He is talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have. What has happened just this year is that the people making $1.4 million a year, the wealthiest 1%, good, decent American people, are gonna get an $87 billion tax cut. A new one on top of the one from last year. We think that the people getting that tax break and not redistribute the wealth up, should be the middle class. That’s what we think. It’s a ridiculous comparison with all due respect.

WEST: Now you recently said “Mark my words. It won’t be six months before the world tests Barack Obama.” But what worries many people is your caveat asking them to stand with him because it won’t be apparent that he got it right. Are you forewarning the American people that something might not get done and that America’s days as the world’s leader might be over?

BIDEN: No, I’m not at all. I don’t know who’s writing your questions but let me make it clear to you. The fact of the matter is that everyone with knowledge, from Colin Powell on down, the next president, whether it’s John McCain or Barack Obama. The reason is our weakened position in the world. We’re stretched thin throughout the world. Our economy is in freefall right now. And they’re gonna be tested. And the point I was making is that Barack Obama is better prepared to handle any crisis than John McCain…

Here’s Obama’s response:

The Barack Obama campaign called Barbara West’s interview with Sen. Joe Biden unprofessional and combative.

The first time that someone actually asks real questions, the Obama campaign whines that the interview was combative. That’s what happens when they’re used to getting softball questions. It’s great to hear West isn’t just sitting back and taking it. Here’s her response:

“I have a great deal of respect for him. I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Obama. We are given four minutes of a satellite window for these interviews. Four precious minutes. I got right down to it and, yes, I think I asked him some pointed questions. These are questions that are rolling about right now and questions that need to be asked. I don’t think I was rude or inconsiderate to him. I think I was probing and maybe tough. I can’t believe that in all of his years in politics, and all of his campaigning and such, that he hasn’t run into some tough questions before. He’s certainly up to it in giving good answers.”

Biden appeared insulted at times by Ms. West’s questions. His asking “Is that a real question” was the perfect example of his frustration.

Sen. Biden shouldn’t be insulted. The Obama-coddling media have insulted us with their protectionist attitude towards Obama. Prior to Ms. West’s interview, the media didn’t challenge Obama with any difficult questions. They’ve ignored Biden’s gaffes. When Biden and Obama don’t hold press conferences, they’re silent as lambs.

The American people are getting disgusted because they haven’t seen enough interviews of Mssrs. Obama and Biden like Ms. West has conducted. They want reporters who ask incisive questions. They’re hungering for journalists who read legislation and ask specific questions of politicians relating to specific provisions in that legislation.

Most importantly, they’re looking for reporters who’ll hold politicians and other public officials accountable. That’s why NY Times’ stock is almost worthless.

Finally, I want to thank Barbara West for standing up to Sen. Biden. It’s long overdue.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This Washington Post article esposes the environutters’ desperation in their arguments against drilling on the OCS. Here’s how Cathy Duvall, the national political director of the Sierra Club, tried arguing against drilling:

“Apparently, hundreds of thousands of gallons of spilled oil, dead fish and oil-covered birds aren’t ideal conditions for peddling a misguided plan for more offshore drilling,” said Cathy Duvall, the national political director of the Sierra Club. “Unfortunately, the risk for such spills, and far worse, would only increase if John McCain and George Bush get their way and allow Big Oil to begin the ‘exploitation’ of our coasts.”

Much to my delight, the McCain campaign didn’t sit still. Here’s their response:

McCain and his advisers reject such criticism, saying the safety record for deep-sea oil rigs is very good. The oil slick in the Mississippi River was caused by a collision between a tanker and a barge, not a leak at an oil rig.

There’s only one way for us to never spill another drop of oil. That’s to never use another drop of oil. Clearly, that isn’t happening anytime soon. Will this spill stop the momentum for drilling? I’d bet against it. I’m betting that the American people will demand better safety precautions, then resume their call for increasing oil production.

That isn’t what the Cathy Duvalls of the world want to hear. That certainly isn’t what vulnerable House Democrats were hoping to hear. Ms. Pelosi’s my-way-or-the-highway leadership style is putting their re-elections in danger. It isn’t helpful that the Democrats’ presidential nominee-in-waiting puts forth this flimsy gimmick of a plan:

Obama aides say the Democrat supports legislation that would encourage oil companies to drill in offshore areas that are already approved but not used. And aides cite his plan for a $20 billion economic stimulus package that would provide rebates that people could use to pay for gasoline as well as efforts to crack down on oil speculators who drive up prices on the world market.

This is entirely bassackwards. Sen. World Citizen wants to give people money to pay their gas bills? Won’t that cause them to use more gas, thereby making matters worse? Furthermore, why haven’t Democrats explained why they’re ok with some drilling but not others? What’s their logic behind that smoke-and-mirrors policy?

Team Obama isn’t doing themselves any favors with statements like this:

“There’s a real choice in this election between John McCain’s promise to continue the Bush approach of trying to drill our way out of our energy crisis…and Barack Obama’s plan to provide meaningful short-term relief for our families and to make a historic investment in alternative energy,” said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan.

Hari, voters are choosing drilling over short-term relief by a 3-to-1 margin. You might not want to use that argument very often.

While it’s true that President Bush isn’t all that popular right now, that doesn’t mean that people have totally tuned him out. In fact, on this issue, people have tuned him in. The other point worth making is that it isn’t just President Bush and John McCain that’s advocating drilling. It’s John Cornyn, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin and a host of other fresh faces.

What’s also helping Republicans is their pushing this common sense policy:

More than 100 House Republicans marched onto the Capitol steps this week to introduce the American Energy Act, which includes drilling offshore and in the oil shale of Western mountain regions but also contains increased tax benefits for businesses and families that reduce their energy consumption.

Anybody care to wager how popular that legislation is? I’m betting that the vast majority of voters will think that that’s a great piece of legislation. What’s worse for Democrats is that Ms. Pelosi and Sen. Reid stand steadfastly against drilling in new territories offshore and in ANWR. That’s what I call making a bad situation worse.

Republicans say their embrace of more domestic drilling and a dramatic increase in funding for the development of renewable fuels puts them squarely in line with voters, who polls show support both policy initiatives, especially when linked to concern about years of gas at $4 a gallon or more.

Contrast the GOP’s listening to the roar of approval for their policies to Ms. Pelosi’s steadfastness in not listening to the voters. How much will this help Republicans is still to be determined. If Ms. Pelosi doesn’t back down fast, she might find herself getting trampled when her vulnerables revolt by signing a discharge petition.

If that stampede happens, it’ll damage Ms. Pelosi and Sen. World Citizen badly. It’ll also show people that the GOP is the Party of common sense solutions. That can only help Sen. McCain and the downticket races.

Here in Minnesota alone, the GOP’s steadfastness is playing a major role in the CD-6 race, where Rep. Bachmann has been a leader of the Drill Here, Drill Now movement. It’s also impacting the race in MN-1, where Dr. Brian Davis is raising fistfuls of campaign cash by contrasting his position on energy policy with Rep. Tim Walz’s position of doing whatever Ms. Pelosi tells him to do.

Despite all the polling showing intense, massive support for increasing drilling, Democrats still insist that this isn’t impacting races:

Democrats point out that voter support for drilling plummets when surveys note that drilling would not produce new, usable gas for years and would not immediately affect gas prices at the pump.

“We think that the public understands that you can’t drill your way out of the problem,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told reporters last week. “We think the Republican slogan is ‘Big Oil now, Big Oil forever.’”

Sen. Schumer should have a Pinocchio examination after that whopper. I’m supposed to believe that intense overwhelming support on the biggest issue of this election cycle isn’t moving votes?

I’ll bet that blue collar workers in Pennsylvania’s T and throughout Ohio will disagree with Sen. Schumer. I’m betting that farmers in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin care about the price of a gallon of gas. I’m betting that OTR truckers care about drilling now and paying less.

Finally, I’m betting that more people are worried about high gas prices emptying their wallets than are worried about Big Oil’s profits.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Sen. Obama has crafted an image that he isn’t a partisan and that he’s squeaky clean ethically. This Newsweek article will quickly dispel that myth. It also might force Sen. Obama to fired his chief strategist, David Axelrod. At minimum, it’ll cause some serious embarrassment for him after he attacked John McCain on the issue of lobbyists running McCain’s campaign. Here’s what Newsweek is reporting:

When Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison wanted state lawmakers to back a hefty rate hike two years ago, it took a creative lobbying approach, concocting a new outfit that seemed devoted to the public interest: Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity, or CORE. CORE ran TV ads warning of a “California-style energy crisis” if the rate increase wasn’t approved—but without disclosing the commercials were funded by Commonwealth Edison. The ad campaign provoked a brief uproar when its ties to the utility, which is owned by Exelon Corp., became known. “It’s corporate money trying to hoodwink the public,” the state’s Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. What got scant notice then—but may soon get more scrutiny—is that CORE was the brainchild of ASK Public Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior partner is David Axelrod, now chief strategist for Barack Obama.

Last week, Obama hit John McCain for hiring “some of the biggest lobbyists in Washington” to run his campaign; Obama’s aides say their candidate, as a foe of “special interests,” has refused to take money from lobbyists or employ them. Neither Axelrod nor his partners at ASK ever registered as lobbyists for Commonwealth Edison—and under Illinois’s loose disclosure laws, they were not required to. “I’ve never lobbied anybody in my life,” Axelrod tells NEWSWEEK. “I’ve never talked to any public official on behalf of a corporate client.” (He also says “no one ever denied” that Edison was the “principal funder” of his firm’s ad campaign.)

But the activities of ASK (located in the same office as Axelrod’s political firm) illustrate the difficulties in defining exactly who a lobbyist is. In 2004, Cablevision hired ASK to set up a group similar to CORE to block a new stadium for the New York Jets in Manhattan. Unlike Illinois, New York disclosure laws do cover such work, and ASK’s $1.1 million fee was listed as the “largest lobbying contract” of the year in the annual report of the state’s lobbying commission. ASK last year proposed a similar “political campaign style approach” to help Illinois hospitals block a state proposal that would have forced them to provide more medical care to the indigent. One part of its plan: create a “grassroots” group of medical experts “capable of contacting policymakers to advocate for our position,” according to a copy of the proposal. (ASK didn’t get the contract.) Public-interest watchdogs say these grassroots campaigns are state of the art in the lobbying world. “There’s no way with a straight face to say that’s not lobbying,” says Ellen Miller, director of the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency.

At minimum, Axelrod’s saying that he “never lobbied anybody in my life” is parsing that would make a Clinton proud. It’s interesting that the Obama campaign picked someone with lobbyist ties, especially after boasting about how he wouldn’t put up with lobbyists.

Frankly, I think Axelrod is history. While it might be true to say that he hasn’t lobbied anyone, people won’t care. I suspect that they’ll focus more on his running a company that was registered as a lobbying firm in NY. I don’t think that people are turned off by lobbyists the way do-gooder organizations want us to believe. What they’ve got a problem with, though, is when someone sells themselves as above partisanship and in purer than the driven snow, only to find out that he’s an old-fashioned Chicago machine politician.

This ties into Michael Barone’s article about why people don’t think Sen. Obama is trustworthy. In that article, Barone explains that Jeremiah Wright hovers over Obama even though people aren’t talking about him. That’s because they didn’t believe Sen. Obama when he said that he hadn’t heard Wright’s inflammatory, racist sermons.

Axelrod’s saying that he hasn’t lobbied anyone will draw a similar reaction from voters. They’ll likely see this as just another attempt by the Obama campaign to say one thing while doing the opposite. This is the Obama campaign giving voters another reason to not trust him.

More importantly, this puts Sen. Obama in full retreat mode. He can’t avoid this story because it goes to the heart of his campaign. He must deal with it ASAP. Most importantly, he must deal with Axelrod quickly before Axelrod is the only thing reporters will talk about. The longer he keeps Axelrod around, the longer Obama can’t talk about his message.

This fits into the meme of the wheels coming off Obama’s campaign. Early this season, people were impressed with the campaign he ran. Then the Wright tapes came out. It’s been downhill since. It’s worth noting that the more reasons Sen. Obama gives for not trusting him, the more difficult it is for him to connect with blue collar workers. If there’s anything they can’t stand, it’s being talked down to. Make no mistake about it: When Axelrod says that he “didn’t lobby anyone”, that’s seen as a condescending statement.

That’s why Axelrod likely will be gone by week’s end. If he isn’t, then we’ll know that Sen. Obama has had another bad week.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Please indulge me for trotting out a reminder of Murtha’s disgusting tactics in smearing the Haditha Marines. Here’s a YouTube video that should be a wake-up call for people:

Here’s the transcript of the Matthews-Murtha interview:

Matthews: Let me ask you something, Mr. Murtha, to give us some details, to tell us what happened at Haditha.
Murtha: Well, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. One Marine was killed and the Marines just said “We’re gonna take care of this.” They don’t know who the enemy is, the presure was too much on them so they went into houses and they actually killed civilians. And you know that I…
Matthews: Was this Mi Lai? Was this…When you say cold blood, Congressman, alot of people think you’re basically saying that you’ve got some civilians sitting in a room or out in a field and they’re executed.
Murtha: That’s exactly what happened.
Matthews: Not because the Marines are scared…
Murtha: This was not an action. This was not…First they tried to say that it was an IED. There was no IED involved in this. Those troops that went in, they were so stressed out, they went into houses and killed children…women and children, 24 people they killed. Now this is the kind of stuff…That’s the kind of stress they’re under. I understand this. I don’t excuse it but I understand what’s happening. And the responsibility for this goes straight to the top. This is something that should not have happened. It should have been investigated. As I understand it, they’ve already relieved three commanding officers. But this is the kind of stuff that stress is gonna cause these sorts of things. That’s why I’m so upset about it.

Let’s look at what John Murtha said happened vs. what actually happened.

John Murtha said that “There was no IED involved in this.” At the same time, he admits that a Marine was killed, which caused the Marines to snap before they went on their murderous tirade.

Question for Mr. Murtha: If there wasn’t an IED explosion, how did LCpl. Miguel Terrazas get killed? The Time Magazine article Rep. Murtha is so fond of citing says that a roadside bomb killed LCpl. Terrazas:

The incident seemed like so many others from this war, the kind of tragedy that has become numbingly routine amid the daily reports of violence in Iraq. On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines from Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, on a road near Haditha, a restive town in western Iraq. The bomb killed Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.) Terrazas, 20, from El Paso, Texas. The next day a Marine communique from Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi reported that Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast and that “gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire,” prompting the Marines to return fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one other.

That’s the only accurate part of the infamous McGirk article. Here’s another Murtha fabrication:

Those troops that went in, they were so stressed out, they went into houses and killed children…

Whether they were stressed out or not, I can’t say with total certainty. What I can say is that they followed their rules of engagement flawlessly during the firefight. That suggests to me that these Marines weren’t stressed, that they didn’t crack.

Here’s the most flagrant lie Murtha tells in this exchange:

They don’t know who the enemy is.

That’s a bunch of crap. Their S2 intelligence officer told them to expect a white taxi to be part of the insurgents’ ambush. It was part of the insurgents’ ambush. The S2 told them that “that some 20 insurgents would take part” in the ambush. That’s what happened.

A total of 24 Iraqis died that day in Haditha. Eight of those Iraqis were identified later as known insurgents. Five of those eight insurgents were shot immediately after they jumped out of the white taxi.

To summarize, the Haditha Marines knew alot of details about the insurgents’ ambush, especially considering the fact that they “don’t know who the enemy is.”

That’s why Murtha Must Go.

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Cross-posted at Murtha Must Go

Hillary’s description of her trip into war-torn Bosnia has earned her 4 Pinocchios from the Washington Post. Thanks to her telling whoppers, we’ve now established a new standard previously unattained by major party presidential candidates. The finalists for the Democratic nomination have both bene caught lying about something important within a month of each other. Here’s what’s touching off the firestorm:

Clinton insisted, “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Here’s the YouTube video that argues against Sen. Clinton:

I know that I’ve got hearing problems and my eyesight ain’t what it used to be but I didn’t hear any sniper fire and I’m certain that Hillary, Chelsea and company weren’t dodging bullets as they left the helicopter.

Let’s remember that it was only a week ago Friday that Obama denied hearing Pastor J-Wright’s incendiary sermons, only to admit last Tuesday that he had heard some of them.

If Sen. McCain were to write the perfect script for his campaign, I don’t think he’d write it much different than this. His primary function is to inject himself into the headlines often enough to remind people that he’s the adult in the race and that he’s a statesman. Then he steps off center stage, raises a bunch of money and watches Hillary and Obama beat each other up while spending millions of dollars against each other.

There’s a few things that are undeniable:

  • Hillary wasn’t the model of virtue that Obama started off as;
  • Obama isn’t the model of virtue that he started off as and
  • John McCain is the beneficiary of the first two undeniable facts.

To a Republican, that’s proof enough that there is a God.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

I’m sure it won’t take long before Mark Penn is facing the microphones explaining why he thinks this poll isn’t trustworthy. More troubling than the horserace numbers, though, are what people think of Mrs. Clinton’s lack of character:

While Clinton still leads on more personal attributes than any of her competitors, just half of Iowa Democrats in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll believe she’s willing to say what she really thinks, far fewer than say so of either Obama or John Edwards. Obama beats her by 2-1 as the most honest and trustworthy candidate.

It’s my opinion that this polling reflects Mrs. Clinton’s refusal to answer a simple yes or no question on giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants at the Russert/MSNBC debate. I also think that the planting questions story drives her negatives higher.

Expect Rudy, Fred and McCain to make political hay out of Mrs. Clinton’s unwillingness to answer difficult questions. Thus far, she hasn’t given anyone a good reason to think that she’s the most evasive, secretive presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter.

Right before the general election in 1976, there was a cartoon in the St. Cloud Times ridiculing Jimmy Carter. There was a downed apple tree in the background with Jimmy standing in front of the tree with a hatchet in his hand with his dad questioning him “Jimmy, did you cut down that cherry tree.” The caption of Jimmy’s response would fit Hillary to a T “Father, I cannot tell a lie. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.”

That’s essentially what Mrs. Clinton gave for her answer of whether she’s issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants. Frankly, I didn’t know that Hillary could tapdance that fast.

There’s other trouble for Hillary in the poll:

Most Democratic likely voters in Iowa, 55 percent, say they’re more interested in a “new direction and new ideas” than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July, a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among “new direction” voters.

This is a change election. Hillary is running as the establishment candidate, which will hinder her later. It also doesn’t help her that Congress’s job approval rating is next to nothing. It doesn’t hurt Obama nearly as much because he’s the newcomer, meaning it’s more difficult to put the Washington insider tag on him.

Another thing that’s hurting Washington politicians is last summer’s immigration debate. When Ted Kennedy and John McCain introduced immigration ‘reform’ the first time, they touted the ‘pathway to citizenship’ provisions. When they introduced it a second time, they touted it as a ‘tough on border security bill’. The American people knew that Kennedy hadn’t changed it in any significant way.

When Kennedy and Arlen Specter tried selling the bill as beefing up border security, they figured that Washington politicians were up to their same old tricks. It didn’t take long to trash Immigration Reform Part II.

I suspect that that’s part of the reason why voters think that they’re more interested in “new direction and new ideas” than to be strong and experienced. I think that more people are interested in that in the Democratic Party because than in the GOP. While I don’t doubt that Democrats, whether they’re DLC types or part of the Kos/MoveOn.org wing, will vote for their nominee, I do think that more will hold their nose when they pull the lever because (a) the Nutroots are upset that the new majority hasn’t stopped the war yet and (b) the DLC types think that Congress is catering too much to the Nutroots.

This has to be more than a little disconcerting for Mrs. Clinton:

Obama is within sight of Clinton on another of her main features, an image of strong leadership: Thirty-two percent call her the strongest leader, vs. 27 percent for Obama; it was 36-23 percent last summer. And both Obama and Edwards lead Clinton in honesty and trustworthiness, and in empathy, two relative weaknesses for her nationally as well.

Anytime people think that John Edwards is more honest and trustworthy than someone, that spells trouble. John Edwards is the poster child for beautiful hair and articificiality. Hillary is attempting to create an image of reliability and experience. It’s impossible to think that she’s less than trustworthy and reliable at the same time.

With another poll that’s less than flattering for Mrs. Clinton, you can expect Mark Penn will be telling the media why the poll doesn’t say what it says. That’s a Clinton War Room trademark.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

When Jim DeMint asked Harry Reid for his personal guarantee that earmark reforms wouldn’t be stripped from the ethics reform bill, Reid refused. Not only that but he’s now blaming Jim DeMint for stalling the bill. That’s what we know thanks to this NY Times article:

The Senate Appropriations Committee has voluntarily adopted committee rules that would reveal sponsors and dollar amounts for earmarks, but those would not be enforceable on the Senate floor. “He [Reid] wouldn’t agree not to take it out in conference,” DeMint said. “They want to pretend they support earmark reform, but they don’t.”

Reid said he simply did not want to negotiate a conference agreement “piecemeal” in public before the committee even meets. Reid also rejected a DeMint request to immediately change Senate rules and implement the earmark rules for the chamber. Reid said that was a matter to work out in conference.

TRANSLATING REID

When Sen. Reid says he didn’t want to “negotiate a conference agreement ‘piecemeal’ in public”, he’s really saying that he doesn’t want transparency in the system.

This is a typical Harry Reid dance of deception. Reid’s biggest problem is that he isn’t bright enough to pull it off. Reid’s next biggest problem is DeMint himself. Sen. DeMint is a genuine reformer with the determination and persistence of a pit bull.

Amy Klobuchar, once a lobbyist herself but now Minnesota’s freshman senator, has entered the discussion:

Klobuchar, who has made ethics reform her top issue, led a group of fellow freshmen senators Tuesday in announcing an ethics bill that the nine new legislators hope will pass before the looming August recess. “It’s more than just the scandal of the cash in the freezer and the trips to Scotland,” Klobuchar said. Voters, she said, “realized in the past year that the special interests were taking front seat and they were losing out because [of] the way business is done in Washington.”

This is a way for Klobuchar to point to herself and claim that she’s a reformer, which is more than a little disingenuous. Her legislation talks about earmark reform but she knows that David Obey, John Murtha and Harry Reid want to sabotage earmark reform. This is the best of both worlds for Ms. Klobuchar; she gets to tout her reformer ‘credentials’ but she won’t have to worry about living within the constraints of genuine earmark reform.

Why am I not surprised by any of this?

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

Over the course of the weekend, I came to realize that creating a detailed timeline on when Murtha made his various allegations would help highlight his ‘misstatements. The first dot in the timeline is Murtha’s categorical declaration that the Haditha Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” He made that accusation on May 17, 2006:

Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19. The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.
———-
“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine,” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill. “There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people,” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.

The next day, Murtha was asked about the sourcing for his accusations. Here’s his answer:

Asked about his sources during a midday briefing on Iraq policy in the Capitol, Murtha confidently replied, “All the information I get, it comes from the commanders, it comes from people who know what they’re talking about.” Although Murtha said that he had not read any investigative reports by the military on the incident, he stressed, “It’s much worse than reported in Time magazine.”

The Marine Corps later corrected the record:

Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, is being sued by one of the accused Marines for libel. He had told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Gen. Michael Hagee had given him the information on which he based his charge that Marines killed innocent civilians.
But a spokesman for the Marine Corps said Hagee briefed Murtha on May 24 about Haditha. Murtha had made comments on the case as early as May 17. On May 17, for example, he said at a news conference, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”
A spokeswoman for Murtha was not immediately available. (Sounds familiar.)

Here’s what we know up to this point.

  1. Murtha made these malicious accusations before he’d received an official briefing.
  2. Murtha initially said that his information came from “commanders” and other people “who know what they’re talking about.”
  3. A Marine spokesman said that Gen. Hagee briefed him but that didn’t happen until a week after Murtha went public with his accusations.
  4. Murtha said that Gen. Hagee had briefed him before Gen. Hagee had briefed him. I’ll let readers decide whether Rep. Murtha lied outright when he said that.

OBSERVATION: Murtha said that he’d gotten his information from “commanders”, meaning people serving on the battlefield. That was later contradicted by the Marine spokesman, who said that Gen. Hagee briefed him a week after the accusations started flying. Gen. Hagee was the commandant of the Marine Corps, meaning he was serving stateside, which I’m guessing was at the Pentagon. Rep. Murtha later confirmed that Gen. Hagee had briefed him when he told Charlie Gibson that Gen. Hagee had been in his office the week of June 24, 2006.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Was Murtha briefed by “commanders” out in the field before making these irresponsible accusations?
  2. Was Murtha briefed by Gen. Hagee who served stateside?
  3. Was Murtha even briefed before making these irresponsible accusations?
  4. If he wasn’t briefed, had one of his Pentagon cronies leaked this information to him?
  5. If his cronies leaked this to him, which one leaked this information?

BACK TO THE TIMELINE

(H/T: Think Progress):

GIBSON: Jonathan just mentioned, there’s no charges yet filed against any of the Marines that were in this outfit, but Jonathan mentioned a moment ago, defense lawyers are already saying, well, there’s drone video and there is actual radio traffic to higher-ups that will give a different picture than you have been talking about of this incident. What do you know about that?

MURTHA: I can only tell you this, Charles. This is what the Marine Corps told me at the highest level. The Commandant of the Marine Corps was in my office just last week, so you know, I know there was a cover-up someplace. They knew about this a few days afterwards and there’s no question the chain of command tried to stifle the story. I can understand why, but that doesn’t excuse it. Something like this has to be brought out to the public, and the people have to be punished.

This was posted on Think Progress on May 30, 2006. Note that Murtha’s story changes again when he said that the Marine Corps Commandant briefed him the prior week. This is the version that I actually believe because it matches what the Marine Corps spokesman said. There’s two other interesting tidbits of information on this in that brief response that must be highlighted. Here’s the first tidbit of information we need to highlight:

I know there was a cover-up someplace.

If Murtha was briefed by Gen. Hagee, why wouldn’t he be specific as to who covered this incident up? Another question that must be answered is who was involved in the coverup? Based on Murtha’s statements, isn’t it possible that the “commanders in the field” who supposedly briefed him were the people who covered this incident up? After all, the investigating officer has recommended that Jeff Chessani face charges on dereliction of duty, supposedly for covering this up.

The Alleged Coverup

Let’s compare the transcript of the interview between Rep. Murtha and ABCNews anchor Charlie Gibson to Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore’s testimony. First review the exchange between Gibson and Rep. Murtha provided earlier. Then read the report on Capt. Jeffrey Dinsmore’s testimony:

As previously reported by NewsMax, the battalion S2 officer made a full and complete report based on his monitoring of the day’s events and the intelligence he and others had amassed then and previous days. As we wrote at the time, the PowerPoint after-action report he sent up the command ladder proved to all the higher officers that the incident warranted no further investigation.

That’s one of the bullet points in Phil Brennan’s June 7, 2007 article. Here’s the full set of bullet points:

  • Intelligence gathered by Marine S2 officers in advance of the events of Nov. 19th, 2005, revealed that it was known that an insurgent ambush was planned for the day.
  • Although exact details of the planned ambush were not known, some important details were revealed, most importantly, that some 20 insurgents would take part, and a white car would play an important role in the ambush.
  • The intelligence was made available to the officers and men of Kilo Company, including Sgt. Frank Wuterich who has been charged with, among other things, murdering the occupants of a white car that came on the scene following the IED explosion that killed one Marine and seriously wounded another. The evidence will show that Wuterich acted appropriately when he shot the passengers of the vehicle.
  • Although the media continues to report that 24 innocent civilians were killed that day, the S2′s testimony shows that eight of the dead, including four of the five occupants in the white car killed by Wuterich, were known insurgents and the dead civilians therefore numbered 16, not 24.
  • The insurgents whose communications were intercepted and which revealed the planned ambush were the same two men who were the sources of the fallacious and dishonest Time magazine story, which was the source of the accusations against the Marines.
  • As previously reported by NewsMax, the battalion S2 officer made a full and complete report based on his monitoring of the day’s events and the intelligence he and others had amassed then and previous days. As we wrote at the time, the PowerPoint after-action report he sent up the command ladder proved to all the higher officers that the incident warranted no further investigation. None!

When Rep. Murtha said that he ‘knew’ that a cover-up has happened someplace, isn’t it likely that he didn’t know that but rather that he said that for maximum impact? How would it have sounded had he said that he thought that there had been a coverup but he didn’t know who initiated it? I suspect that it wouldn’t have sounded so ominous. It wouldn’t have sounded like the convictions were an eventuality.

In addition to revealing that an after-action report was created and sent up the chain of command, Capt. Dinsmore’s testimony also provides heretofore classified information that shows the amount of intel gathered on the attack was extensive, specific and accurate.

It isn’t a stretch to think that Col. Ware took Capt. Dinsmore’s testimony into consideration before issuing his recommendations that all charges be dropped against LCpl. Justin Sharratt.

Considering Murtha ‘knew’ that a coverup had happened “someplace” and that Capt. Dinsmore had given specific details about the insurgent attack against the 3/1 Marines that were accurate down to the last detail, who would you believe? Furthermore, let’s factor in that Capt. Dinsmore had filed an after-action report with his superiors that included the extensive details of the attack.

When given that decision, isn’t it an easy choice?

That’s why John Murtha must resign his seat in the House of Representatives. That’s why John Murtha must apologize to Justin Sharratt, Frank Wuterich and the other members of Kilo Company. That’s why John Murtha must apologize to the Marine Corp, too.

Finally, here’s a quotes from Col. Ware’s report:

Col. Ware wrote in his report: “It is difficult, if not impossible to believe that trained and experienced Marines would decide to execute 4 unarmed men by leading them into a house, moving them to a back room with no light [curtains were closed] and allow them to move about the room while trying to shoot them with the least-effective weapon in their arsenal.”

Then there’s this from the Washington Post article:

Ware said all available evidence shows that Sharratt perceived a threat and reacted appropriately. “Using his training, he responded instinctively, assaulting into the room and emptying his pistol,” Ware wrote. “Whether this was a brave act of combat against the enemy or tragedy of misperception born out of conducting combat with an enemy that hides among innocents, LCpl Sharratt’s actions were in accord with the rules of engagement and use of force.”

Frankly, the things Col. Ware is quoted as saying sound airtight and unequivocal whereas Rep. Murtha’s claims seem to shift from interview to interview. Saying that the comparison doesn’t flatter Rep. Murtha is understatement.

UPDATE: Welcome Gateway readers. Be sure to check out all the great stuff I’ve posted here and also the great stuff posted about Murtha at California Conservative.

Putting things in timeline form helped ‘highlight’ Murtha’s shiftiness for me. (I knew it before but the timeline shows step-by-step the ‘shifting sands’ nature of his statements.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative