links for 2009-04-17

  • John McCain’s lead vice presidential vetter said Friday that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin “impressed” in her interview, knocking the senator’s most important questions “out of the park.”

    A.B. Culvahouse, a powerful Washington lawyer and former counsel to President Reagan, told an audience of Republican lawyers that for McCain, selecting a vice president came down to three questions: Why do you want to be vice president? Are you prepared to use nuclear weapons? And the CIA has identified Osama bin Laden, but if you take the shot there will be multiple civilian casualties. Do you take the shot?

    “She knocked those questions out of the park,” he said at an event held at the National Press Club by the Republican National Lawyers Association. “We came away impressed.”

    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • I figured that readers could decide whether the former Bush official’s comments sounded defensive or vindictive. And POLITICO readers aren’t so delicate that we have to deceptively pretend there’s no other side to a major issue. So at the bottom of the Axelrod story, I tacked on an ellipsized excerpt of the former Bush official’s quotes, removing several ad hominem attacks on Obama. I quoted less than half of the comment and took out the most incendiary parts — a way to hint at the opposing view without giving an anonymous source free rein. I also added a final sentence with additional White House perspective, so the former Bush official wouldn’t have the last word.
  • Anyway, for what it is worth, the Pajamas Media folks have put together a count of 551,919 using both media accounts and organizers' estimates. Another collection of counts is here. My number, of course, aims to give the indisputable minimum; I'm using only media numbers and 200 every time a news report just says "hundreds," 2,000 every time a report only says, "thousands," etc.

    Many, many folks argue that the local press was lowballing the count, which is another argument for another time; my aim in yesterday's post was to point out that just by using Nate Silver's measuring stick, numbers from press accounts, the number was signficantly higher than the initial 262,025.

    (tags: Tea_Parties)
  • John Ziegler, the provocateur behind "Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Sarah Palin was Targeted," tried to cover attendees of the Walter Cronkite Awards Dinner, but was met with forcible resistance.

    Campus police at USC set up a barricade for Ziegler that would have prevented him from having access to attendees. Their rationale was based on classifying Ziegler as a "protester."
    I certainly don't agree with him that Couric's Palin interview was advocacy, not journalism. If I'm Katie Couric, or the awards organizers, I don't want John Ziegler around making a nuisance of himself, bothering attendees. But here's the thing: This is America, and he gets to do that.

    If you're going to give an award for excellence in journalism, which is all about asking people questions they don't necessarily want to answer, John Ziegler gets to do that. Like him or not, agree with him or not, in a free country he gets to do that.

  • Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates denied permission for the U.S. Northern Command to use the Pentagon's most powerful sea-based radar to monitor North Korea's recent missile launch, precluding officials from collecting finely detailed launch data or testing the radar in a real-time crisis, current and former defense officials said.

    Jamie Graybeal, Northcom public affairs director, confirmed to The Washington Times that Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, the Northcom commander, requested the radar's use but referred all other questions to the Pentagon.

    Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Mr. Gates' decision not to use the $900 million radar, known as SBX, was "based on the fact that there were numerous ground- and sea-based radars and sensors in the region to support the operational requirements for this launch.

  • A former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush called the publication of the memos “unbelievable.”

    “It's damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama's action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,” the official said. “We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. … Publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again — even in a ticking-time- bomb scenario where thousands or even millions of American lives are at stake."

    “I don't believe Obama would intentionally endanger the nation, so it must be that he thinks either 1. the previous administration, including the CIA professionals who have defended this program, is lying about its importance and effectiveness, or 2. he believes we are no longer really at war and no longer face the kind of grave threat to our national security this program has protected against.”

  • You are right in reporting that such weapons could not be legally acquired through US gun shops, and they have not been in US service for decades. However, they are still used throughout the world, including South and Central America where many were provided through the US government, again, decades ago.

    I'm assuming the pictures of the weapons are these. I was going by the news story, and wouldn't know what I was looking at in any case. It could be, of course, that there are multiple weapons, but regardless, this suggests a new rallying cry for gun-grabbers — "Stop the smuggling of antique firearms to Mexico!"

    (tags: Guns Mexico)
  • Nonetheless, he's playing his part in the administration's diversionary effort at seeming to respond forcefully to the problems at the Mexican border without actually mentioning illegal immigration. This centers on claims that 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico are from the United States, and thus stopping that southbound flow of weapons has to be our chief goal. This was reinforced recently by a complete non sequitur of a story about the seizure of a U.S.-made .50 caliber Browning machine gun by Mexican police, which somehow is further justification for a planned ATF enforcement blitz in Texas.
  • How do urban legends retain their vitality? Ignorant people pass them along as fact. Unfortunately, sometimes that includes the national media, as it does today in the Washington Post. In a report on Barack Obama’s get-tough policy with Mexico, reporter Spencer Hsu repeats the canard that 90% of the guns seized by Mexican authorities come from the US:
    (tags: Guns Mexico)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) blasted "tea party" protests yesterday, labeling the activities "despicable" and shameful."

    "The ‘tea parties’ being held today by groups of right-wing activists, and fueled by FOX News Channel, are an effort to mislead the public about the Obama economic plan that cuts taxes for 95 percent of Americans and creates 3.5 million jobs," Schakowsky said in a statement.

    "It’s despicable that right-wing Republicans would attempt to cheapen a significant, honorable moment of American history with a shameful political stunt," she added. "Not a single American household or business will be taxed at a higher rate this year. Made to look like a grassroots uprising, this is an Obama bashing party promoted by corporate interests, as well as Republican lobbyists and politicians.”
    From Illinois – of course.

    (tags: Tea_Parties)