Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Midnight Hour

In the Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally, and a favorite of 60s college students, Land of 1000 Dances - the man who performed them all, Wilson Pickett, died today at the age of 64. There's a good obit of him here. What a voice.

What Else Would We Expect?

The Washington Post has learned a little something about its readership - they're lefties:

The Washington Post shut down one of its blogs Thursday after the newspaper's ombudsman raised the ire of readers by writing that lobbyist Jack Abramoff gave money to the Democrats as well as to Republicans. At the center of a congressional bribery investigation, Abramoff gave money to Republicans while he had his clients donate to both parties, though mostly to Republicans.

In her Sunday column, ombudsman Deborah Howell wrote that Abramoff "had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties," prompting a wave of nasty reader postings on There were so many personal attacks that the newspaper's staff could not "keep the board clean, there was some pretty filthy stuff," and so the Post shut down comments on the blog, or Web log, said Jim Brady, executive editor of

"We're not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it," Brady wrote on the newspaper's Web site. "There are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech."

Ah, yes. The champions of peace and love, tolerance and diversity are apoplectic that the Post ombudsman would have the temerity to write the truth when it undermines their hopes that the Republicans will take a major hit from the Abramoff scandal. They express their dissatisfaction in the only manner they know: invective and obscenity. Not having progressed emotionally beyond their eighth grade year they resort to forms of dialogue which appeal to the 14 year-old mind, convinced that whoever launches the most vulgar and vituperative insults wins the argument.

These emotional and psychological juveniles are the folks who stand as the ideological alternative to contemporary conservatism. Thank goodness the grown-ups won the last two elections.

Listing Toward Lunacy

Al Gore seems to have no qualms about disdaining the truth in his speeches and levelling the most outrageous allegations at the man who defeated him for the presidency. Gore 's bitterness has transformed him into an amusing parody, a political Elmer Gantry. For a thorough analysis of his recent speech and an examination of the charges he made against the President go here.

It's risible that the man for whom there was "no controlling legal authority" is now accusing the president of having deliberately broken the law in surveilling phone calls coming from suspected terrorists abroad. The irony is that there seems to be no consensus among legal authorities whether the president has the authority to do this or not. That uncertainty, however, doesn't prevent Mr. "No-controlling-legal-authority" from stating with absolute assurance that Bush deliberately broke the law. How does he know that? And if he doesn't know it for sure, why does he say it? Is it only to gin up hatred in others for the man that he himself despises?

Even if the president does turn out to have been in technical violation of the law, the matter is so unclear that it's absurd to say that he did it deliberately. Moreover, if it should happen that he overstepped his authority, not knowing precisely where the limits lay, isn't it better that he erred on the side of protecting the American people? After all, he didn't authorize the surveillance for political or self-serving reasons, he did it to protect our children from being blown to pieces by murderers. Doesn't anyone on the Left understand this? Or is the goal of discrediting and ultimately impeaching Bush so important that nothing else matters, not even the safety of those we love?

Al Gore has allowed his resentment at having missed out on the presidency to turn him into a vindictive, irresponsible, and pompous buffoon. He's a man listing toward lunacy. It's a shame, really.

More Job Openings at the Top

Bill Roggio assesses the missile strike against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan:

The final results of from the airstrike in the Pakistani border town of Damadola are now known. In addition to Abu Khabab al-Masri, who was al-Qaeda's chief bomb maker, head of the WMD program, and former terror camp commander, two other al-Qaeda commanders were killed in the strike. ABC News confirms that Khalid Habib [or Khaled al-Harbi] and Abdul Rehman al Magrabi perished in the attack. Khaled al-Harbi is al-Qaeda's operational commander in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al-Harbi splits duty in Afghanistan with Abd al Hadi Al Iraqi, and both are considered "two of [al-Qaeda's] most able commanders".

Abdul Rehman al Magrabi ["the Moroccan"] is thought to be al-Qaeda's commander in Pakistan, and is said to have replaced Abu Hamza Rabia, who was killed in Pakistan on December 1, 2005.

According to a trusted source, the DNA tests are complete and the two other other "foreigners" killed are said to be al-Qaeda bodyguards. Ayman al-Zawahiri appears to have slipped the net. ABC News provides further important details on the meeting that took place:

Authorities tell ABC News that the terror summit was called to funnel new money into attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan... "Pakistani intelligence says this was a very important planning session involving the very top levels of al Qaeda as they get ready for a new spring offensive," explained Alexis Debat, a former official in the French Defense Ministry and now an ABC News consultant.

It is clear the reports from earlier in the week that al-Qaeda is refocusing efforts in Afghanistan are accurate. With the recent capture or killing of several high-level al-Qaeda leaders, including Abu Hamza Rabia and Abu Musab al-Suri before last week's strike, it is clear U.S. and Pakistani intelligence is gaining a clearer picture of al-Qaeda's network and operations in and along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

As al-Qaeda amasses strength in the region and grows more confident in its abilities to operate more openly, they expose themselves to intelligence operations and military strikes. The nature of the intelligence on this meeting gives clues as to the nature of intelligence operations in the region: either the U.S. has sophisticated signals intelligence able to penetrate al-Qaeda's communications; or there are one or several high value human intelligence sources within al-Qaeda and the Taliban; or a combination of the two. Whatever the answer, al-Qaeda has lost five senior leaders over the span of five weeks.

The meeting in Damadola was a high value target of opportunity which could not be passed up. U.S. intelligence took the risk, pulled the trigger and bagged three senior al-Qaeda commanders. Masri, Habib, and al-Magrabi have been removed from the chain of command, and must be replaced by junior operatives who possess neither their stature, experience or connections. Al-Qaeda has been weakened.

Al-Masri was a particularly odious character. Roggio gives us his resume here, and Dan Darling has a more extensive piece on him in The Weekly Standard. The world is a much better place with al-Masri no longer a part of it.

Speaking of which, one wonders how eager the al Qaeda underlings must be to fill the vacancies that keep opening up among the leadership. On the one hand there must be an expectation of rapid advancement up the corporate ladder. On the other, with an attrition rate of one top leader per week, there doesn't seem to be much to look forward to as one of the top al-Qaedans, especially if you had been anticipating a long and pleasant retirement.

UPDATE: Tonight's news is reporting that there were four senior al-Qaeda leaders killed in the strike, not three.

Fifty Most Influential Christians?

The Church Report surveyed its readers to come up with the top 50 most influential Christians in America. There are some surprises on the list. For example, I know Sean Hannity is influential, and I know he's a Christian, but I was surprised that he ranked higher than Pope Benedict.

I was also taken aback that Benny Hinn was even on the list, but that's just me, I guess. It's distressing, though, to see who Christians think of when they think of influential leaders of the Church.

Joe Carter is even more depressed. Check out what he has to say about the list here.