Thursday, November 17, 2005

ABCA Decides to Play Nanny, Bans 190 Proof Grain Alcohol from WV Liquor Stores

Those who want the Real Thing and not the watered-down 151 stuff will just go to Kentucky or Maryland or order online when it's time to restock.In a blow to individual freedom, the West Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Administration yesterday issued an immediate ban on the sale of grain alcohol over 151 proof in all West Virginia liquor stores. This ban was without any meaningful public notice and took effect immediately.

While this decision is within the law, it's blatant nanny-state paternalism. The news coverage of this announcement even emphasized the intent of reducing the potency of drinks at college parties by noting the preponderance of grain alcohol sales in college towns and the behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts by WVU to reduce the limit on alcohol in liquor sold in West Virginia from 190 proof to 151 proof.

Of course, anyone familiar with West Virginia liquor laws already knows we have tried to play the benevolent nanny since the end of Prohibition. Beer and wine can be bought at any grocery store or convenience store; liquor can only be bought at a handful of liquor stores licensed under a cartel-type "zone" system. Beer and wine can be sold at night until 2 A.M.; liquor sales must stop by 10 P.M. Beer and wine can be sold on Sunday afternoons, but not liquor. Of course, most laughably, the state seems to think it's actually promoting honest elections by prohibiting liquor sales on election days. At least we were never dumb enough to require bars to sell liquor by mini-bottles instead as South Carolina used to; talk about a dumb law.

Those of you who still want the Real Thing and not the watered-down 151 proof stuff West Virginia now requires can buy 190 proof in Kentucky or Maryland or over the Internet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

17 Democratic Senators Voted for War in 2002, Now Support Surrender

While you may have heard much media coverage of the Senate's 79-19 vote yesterday for requesting quarterly Iraq war progress reports, the Senate also voted on (and thankfully) rejected a proposal to require a withdrawal timeline--in effect surrender just as the new Iraqi government is taking hold.

17 Democratic senators voted for the Iraq war in October 2002 and flip-flopped yesterday and voted in favor of protracted surrender. This is scandalous. Every Republican and most Democrats maintained a consistent position on the Iraq war, but these 17 are willing to shift their position on a matter vital to our national security based on politics.

The switch-hitting 17 are Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Dodd, Dorgan, Feinstein, Harkin, Johnson, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Reid, Rockefeller, and Schumer. They should be ashamed of playing politics with our national security.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Switch-Hitting Dems Busted; RNC Web Video Chronicles Formerly Hawkish Dems

Prior to the war in Iraq, Democrats in Congress couldn't get to the nearest TV camera fast enough to proclaim their support for regime change and the removal of an evil dictator universally believed to pose a danger to the world with weapons of mass destruction. I always thought the many other crimes of the Butcher of Baghdad were independently justifying of regime change, but the WMD fears proved the decisive factor for many.

Saddam Hussein had nothing directly to do with 9/11. However, in the wake of this attack on our country, we learned we could no longer afford to wait until we developed proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a clear and present danger before we act against our enemies. While this standard was not meet and no one pretended to meet it, the entire international community had reached a unanimous conclusion that Saddam Hussein did pose a threat to international peace and security with his continuing violations of the 1991 cease-fire agreement, including efforts to maintain WMD programs and support for international terrorism.

In 2002, about half the Democrats in Congress believed war and regime change in Iraq was the only responsible approach to deal with this problem. Some people--such as the French and about half the Democrats in Congress--believed that although a threat was present, war just was not the answer. The other half of congressional Democrats disagreed and stood with the President in his efforts to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

That was then. Now, these Democrats are proving to be unbelievable political opportunists and have abandoned the President and are mostly in favor of abandoning our mission of bringing a republican form of government to Iraq to replace that which we deposed 2 1/2 years ago. Today, all but 5 Senate Democrats voted for a "timetable" mandate that's nothing more than a protracted surrender that would rescue defeat from the jaws of victory. Those Senate Democrats who voted for the Iraq war but now want to cut and run in the face of softening public opinion polls in this country--which have been informed by a biased mainstream media that views this war as their opportunity to simultaneously relive both Vietnam and Watergate--are political whores who have put politics ahead of this country's national interests.

The RNC has assembled a 3-minute video chronicling the statements over time of prominent Democratic politicians concerning Iraq both then and now. I encourage you to view it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dems may Want Charnock Ousted, but are They Prepared to Hold Themselves to the Same Standard?

Earlier today, I predicted Democrats in Charleston would soon seek the ouster of Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Bill Charnock in light of the report of a very partisan legislative investigator. Earlier today, I confined myself to the prediction and explaining the underlying political motive present.

Given the time to research the issue further, it appears these ambitions by some Democratic partisans are either premature or might boomerang if pursued. The allegations cited in the Legislative Auditor's (the Legislative Auditor is an employee of the Legislature, which, of course, is dominated by the Ruling Party) report amount to collection of parking ticket-equivalent violations even if the allegations are true.

When you boil the Legislative Auditor's report down to the accusations, it amounts to nothing more than a collection of misdemeanors and civil infractions that are never enforced when violated by Democrats. Like I said earlier today, I hope the law is enforced and enforced equally.

All this presumes the allegations of the Legislative Auditor can be proven and constitute crimes under state law. However, Bill Charnock is strongly disputing these allegations. Today's Charleston Daily Mail and the AP wire both had stories on point. Until I see more evidence, I am holding firm to a presumption of innocence. If Charnock did do something wrong, he should not be held to a different standard just because he has an "R" next to his name.

I welcome attempts to raise the bar relating to public ethics in West Virginia. God knows this state is a cespool where few in government take ethics laws seriously until an offense rises to a federal felony. Maybe after Bill Charnock is persecuted (er, prosecuted) for a variety of petty offenses we can start pursuing issues like State Auditor Glen Gainer sending campaign press releases on his office fax machine, Governor Manchin employing campaign workers on the payroll doing political work on public time when he was Secretary of State, and all the legislators who do not keep a 2 computers, one public and one personal, in their offices and instead commingle activities on one computer even though no real additional cost is borne by the state.

Regardless of what the facts prove to be, one thing is clear: whatever hopes some Democrats in the capital city may have had for ousting a Republican prosecuting attorney appear to have crashed on takeoff.

Democrats to Seek Ouster of GOP Prosecuting Attorney in Kanawha County

Shortly after his election last year as Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney, Bill Charnock was placed under an investigation that could be more accurately branded a deep sea fishing expedition relating to his conduct in office as President of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Institute.

Yesterday, the first public report on the investigation was released and the long knives are out. The investigation, conducted by the Legislative Auditor (who is an official of the Legislature) has made wide-ranging allegations of improperly using state resources for political purposes. It is clear that Charnock's political adversaries will soon be preparing a petition for impeachment.

Before I go any further, several important principles must be recited. A person is entitled to the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven in a court of law. No charges have been filed and no grand jury investigation is known to be ongoing. This is only a report from an investigator and Charnock has not had an opportunity to air his case, nor should he until formal accusations are lodged and disposition thereof is commenced in an appropriate forum.

I do not know whether the facts alleged are true, whether they are in context, or whether any specific crime has occurred. However, the AP and the Charleston Gazette have already written highly prejudicial stories against Mr. Charnock, so I will offer a potential rebuttal and explanation for the intensity of the attacks he is now facing.

This is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt. In West Virginia, the Attorney General has no criminal prosecution powers and all state crimes are prosecuted by county prosecutors. As in Texas--home of the infamous Ronnie Earle--the prosecuting attorney of the county of the state capital has broad investigatory and prosecution powers relative to crimes involving the state government and state officials. Charnock is the first Republican Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney in years and the Democrats are scared.

The Ruling Party fears Charnock because he is a staunch Republican who takes his job as prosecutor seriously and his office is empowered to investigate and prosecute crimes and misconduct on a much broader basis than federal prosecutors. False campaign finance reports or ethics disclosures only rise to a federal offense if they are submitted by mail; otherwise, any prosecution rests only with the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney. Any corruption occurring within the Legislature or otherwise involving state officials that might be small potatoes to the federal government could be a little-known county prosecutor's ticket to high name ID and favorability ratings statewide if he sent corrupt politicians to prison on state offenses--something that has not happened in recent history. If Charnock were to be removed from office, he would surely be replaced by a Democrat appointed by the Democratic majority Kanawha County Commission.

Keep an open mind as you hear the Ruling Party and their minions in the press attempt to lynch Charnock and remember their hidden motive for wanting his ouster regardless of what the facts may be. If I am wrong and there have been serious offenses committed, I hope the rule of law prevails and Charnock's treatment is not affected by politics. However, these allegations must not go without a corresponding examination of the underlying political motives.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rockefailure Just Doesn't Get It

Senator Jay Rockefeller; Credit: Freddie Lee, Fox News SundayRocky was on Fox News Sunday today and did an absolutely pathetic job parroting the latest Democratic talking points on pre-Iraq war intelligence, which have evolved from "Bush LIED!!!!" to "Bush Exaggerated" to the current "Bush too easily believed incriminating evidence and totally disregarded the caveats and exculpatory evidence."

Earlier today, I posted on RedState:

The only linkage between Saddam Hussein and 9-11 among most of us on the Republican side was and is that 9-11 destroyed all the old paradigms of foreign policy. Among them, any notion that we should give any benefit of the doubt to Saddam Hussein given his extensive history of WMD programs, attacking his neighbors, and supporting terrorism (althou not Al Qaeda directly).

After 9-11 we cannot afford to hope for the best from rogue dictators universally believed to be pursuing WMD programs. We cannot afford to presume the innocence of rogue dictators who engage in repetitive lies and obfuscation and hope the caveats and exculpatory evidence are indeed true. We just cannot take these risks after 9-11.

We are now watching the Democrats backpedal from Bush Lied to Bush Exaggerated to now, alleging that Bush was too eager to believe incriminating information and discount caveats and exculpatory information. However, this final stance brings them back to almost where we are, namely that there was never proof beyond a reasonable doubt regarding whether Saddam Hussein had WMD. One step further, and they will reach the second half of that point, namely that reasonable doubts existed but we cannot afford to link our security to optimistic hopes for the future actions of proven evildoers.

Despite all the arguments over WMD, it was far from the only cause for regime change in Iraq. WMD was presented as the casus belli because the President wanted to work within diplomatic channels as long as he could and wanted to forge an international coalition. WMD was the one cause that was believed could galvanize the international community and, at the time, seemed a solid case based on the best intelligence available at that time. To the surprise of many who had chosen WMD as the principal casus belli cited, many countries did not believe the case as it was presented in 2002 was sufficient to justify their involvement. The only disagreement both in this country and internationally was whether war was the answer to the problem.

My prediction: within a year, the success (largely silent thanks to the MSM) in Iraq is going to result in a significantly reduced U.S. troop presence as Iraqis take over and our political fortunes will see many better days ahead.

The Power Line blog posted a long except of the exchange between Rocky and Chris Wallace, who treated Rockefailure like his father (Mike Wallace, Mr. 60 Minutes) usually treats Republicans:

WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, the President says that Democratic critics, like you, looked at pre-war intelligence and came to the same conclusion that he did. In fact, looking back at the speech that you gave in October of 2002 in which you authorized the use of force, you went further than the President ever did. Let's watch.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER (October 10, 2002): "I do believe that Iraq poses an imminent threat, but I also believe that after September 11th, that question is increasingly outdated."

WALLACE: Now, the President never said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat. As you saw, you did say that. If anyone hyped the intelligence, isn't it Jay Rockefeller?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. The – I mean, this question is asked a thousand times and I'll be happy to answer it a thousand times. I took a trip by myself in January of 2002 to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and I told each of the heads of state that it was my view that George Bush had already made up his mind to go to war against Iraq – that that was a predetermined set course which had taken shape shortly after 9/11. Now, the intelligence that they had and the intelligence that we had were probably different. We didn't get the Presidential Daily Briefs. We got only a finished product, a finished product, a consensual view of the intelligence community, which does not allow for agencies like in the case of the aluminum tubes, the Department of Energy said these aren't thick enough to handle nuclear power. They left that out and went ahead with they have aluminum tubes and they're going to develop nuclear power.

WALLACE: Senator, you're quite right. You didn't get the Presidential Daily Brief or the Senior Executive Intelligence Brief. You got the National Intelligence Estimate. But the Silberman Commission, a Presidential commission that looked into this, did get copies of those briefs, and they say that they were, if anything, even more alarmist, even less nuanced than the intelligence you saw, and yet you, not the President, said that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: The Silberman Commission was absolutely prohibited by the President in his charge to them – he appointed them – from ever looking at the use of intelligence, whether it was misused, whether it was massaged to influence the American people to go along with a decision which he had long ago already decided to make.

WALLACE: But didn't they come to that conclusion which I just stated, that the Presidential Daily Brief was in fact more alarmist and less nuanced than the intelligence you saw?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don't know, because I never get to see, nor does Pat, the Presidential Daily Brief. All I know is that we don't get the intelligence that they do. We are called the Senate Intelligence Committee. We get a lot more than the rest of the Senate, but it was incomplete as to what the President gets, and it was obviously entirely wrong, which raises the question, why was it wrong?


WALLACE: Senator Rockefeller, I want to play another clip from your 2002 speech authorizing the use of force, this time specifically on the question of Saddam's nuclear program. Here it is.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER (October 10, 2002): "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons. And will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years and he could have it earlier."

WALLACE: Now, by that point, Senator, you had read the National Intelligence Estimate, correct?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: In fact, there were only six people in the Senate who did, and I was one of them. I'm sure Pat was another.

WALLACE: Okay, but you had read that, and now we've read a declassified…

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: But Chris, let's a...

WALLACE: Can I just ask my question sir, and then you can answer as you choose. That report indicated there was an agreement – a disagreement among analysts about the nuclear program. The State Department had a lot more doubts than the CIA did about whether he was pursuing a nuclear program. You never mentioned those doubts. You came to the same conclusion the President did.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Because that – first of all, that National Intelligence Estimate was not called for by the Administration. It was called for by former Senator Bob Graham, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dick Durbin. We didn't receive it until just a couple of days before we voted. Then we had to go read it and compare it to everything else that we thought we'd learned about intelligence, and I did make that statement. And I did make that vote. But, Chris, the important thing is that when I started looking at the weapons of mass destruction intelligence along with Pat Roberts, I went down to the floor, and I said I made a mistake. I would have never voted yes if I knew what I know today.

WALLACE: But a lot of people – that's not the point of the investigation, Senator.

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Chris, there's always the same conversation. You know it was not the Congress that sent 135,000 or 150,000 troops.

WALLACE: But you voted, sir, and aren't you responsible for your vote?


WALLACE: You're not?

SEN. ROCKEFELLER: No. I'm responsible for my vote, but I'd appreciate it if you'd get serious about this subject, with all due respect. We authorized him to continue working with the United Nations, and then if that failed, authorized him to use force to enforce the sanctions. We did not send 150,000 troops or 135,000 troops. It was his decision made probably two days after 9/11 that he was going to invade Iraq. That we did not have a part of, and, yes, we had bad intelligence, and when we learned about it, I went down to the floor and said I would never have voted for this hing.

WALLACE: My only point sir, and I am trying to be serious about it, is as I understand Phase Two, the question is based on the intelligence you had, what were the statements you made? You had the National Intelligence Estimate which expressed doubts about Saddam's nuclear program, and yet you said he had a nuclear program. The President did the same thing.