Friday, February 29, 2008

Nothing to see here...

Someday, maybe, we'll ask a little bit more from our news agencies...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Ricin, a deadly poison, was discovered in a hotel room in Las Vegas but officials don't believe the incident is terrorism-related, media reported on Friday.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

In preparation for Sunday's election in Russia, two articles:

A fantastic article from Matthew Kaminski, "That Other Presidential Campaign", gives us a view of the Russian 2008 election. He shows why Putin's distrust of the Russian citizens, and democracy, have led to the old tricks of Soviet rule. For students of the history of repression and communist thought, this is a must-read.

Many Russians are content or cowed enough not to complain. Conversations about politics, so free flowing in the 1980s and '90s, are hard to find or carried on in hushed tones.

"For regular people, the guiding philosophy is cynicism," says Andrei Dmitriev, an opposition activist in St. Petersburg. "They know that nothing depends on them," and as long as the state doesn't rob or beat them, won't make a fuss.

Along with political apathy and civic disengagement, Mr. Putin has brought back an old tradition, fear. As in the old days, politics is scary and dangerous. Not many are willing to take the risk when dabbling brings trouble -- say, exile in Siberia (consider the plight of former Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky), assassination (the crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya's in 2006 just one among many) or, probably least bad, a few knocks from enthusiastic riot police cracking heads at small opposition protests.
Here's a self-styled modernizing czar who claims to want to open up and enrich Russia, while holding the country by the throat. He stirs up anti-Western chauvinism but demands respect from the West. He claims a broad popular mandate but keeps all the power to himself. The steady destruction of institutions that underpin mature states (a robust legislature, independent courts, strong parties) leaves Russia's future impossible to predict.

But sooner or later, this increasingly prosperous, dynamic and complex society, stretching across 11 time zones, may tire of rule by a feuding clique from St. Petersburg, and do something about it. Perhaps acutely aware of his vulnerabilities, Mr. Putin spent the past eight years building up the firewalls of repression against this very possibility.

Medvedev Reveals Little, Save Loyalty - a thorough WSJ frontpage article by Gregory L. White and Alan Cullison about the likely winner this weekend in Russia's election. Who is Dmitry Medvedev, other than a loyal Putin friend and ideological twin? Some select quotes:

He was active in the university's Komsomol Communist youth league and May Day marches, he told a Russian magazine last spring. Though his university years in the late 1980s were marked by a pro-democracy fervor in Russia, Mr. Medvedev said he attended only Communist demonstrations.
Challenges to Gazprom's monopoly position were crushed. When pro-market government officials on Gazprom's board called for breaking up the company to stimulate competition, Mr. Medvedev refused, said people familiar with the discussions. In a 2006 briefing, he called Gazprom's dominant position "good for Russia."
Mr. Medvedev also helped push through legislation that made it dramatically harder for opposition parties to register -- laws that, in effect, have made it possible for Mr. Medvedev to run for president practically unopposed today. He also backed Russia's new antiterror laws, making it a crime to publicly criticize authorities. Makes the Washington Post!

Kevin Merida writes about our "ingenious" Ushanka Hats in today's Washington Post!

It is an article about McCain....

Empty, Open Arms: John McCain Wants Conservatives by His Side. Fine, They Say, Just Move This Way

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obama, The Original!

Found this video at Debbie Schlussel's site.

Debbie also had some pictures of McCain's daughter and her middle-eastern fashion statement. Here are a couple:

What a decision we have in November...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Comrades in Bethesda! (Comments)

The hat makes it to Hillary HQ in Bethesda!

Why were the shades down? Hmm?

The staff were updating their resumes?
The bright light of freedom gives the staff headaches?
The staff were photoshopping Obama with a goat?
Bill was visiting?
There is a US flag across the street?

Any other ideas?

Thanks to Andrew and friend for the pictures. Send more!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Red Planet Cartoon

The dilemma of a blogger: time spent on your site is time away from the community. We nearly fell out of our chair today when we discovered Red Planet. This is a fun and well organized site with some fantastic artwork. We're sending a big Ushanka Tip to the blogger and adding to our blogroll. Here is a sample of his work:

Sunday Afternoon Cigar

The rain clouds parted long enough to burn another Rocky Patel Edge while we contemplated Michelle Obama's recent pride in America. Assuming her pride was sparked by the video below, and that she acknowledges the positive impact to our nation's security - we'll have to agree!

Ushanka Tip: Jawa Report

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

Putin's Political Prisoners, by WSJ's Bret Stephens is validation for us at The former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin is putting enemies of his Proletarian Dictatorship in prison. He has created an environment where FSB agents are praised for arresting spies with no evidence of any crimes.

In her acclaimed history of the Gulag, Anne Applebaum observes that under Stalin one could easily get arrested "for nothing," whereas under his successors arrests usually happened "for something -- if not for a genuine criminal act, then for . . . literary, religious, or political opposition to the Soviet system." Of the many things that make present trends in Russia so worrying, surely one is that the line between "something" and "nothing" is becoming increasingly blurred.

A great quote from James Taranto's Best of the Web post from Wednesday about the leading Democratic candidate:

Obama seems to be serving as an inkblot to his followers, who use politics to act out their own personal psychodramas. Is this what we need in a president?

Rush Limbaugh read this entire Aspen Times article by Gary Hubbell, "In election 2008, don't forget Angry White Man". A fun read, but who's angry?

Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.

There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man. The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.

The pile-on Obama continues with Karl Rove's WSJ article, "Obama's New Vulnerability":

Unlike Bill Clinton in 1992, Mr. Obama is completely unwilling to confront the left wing of the Democratic Party, no matter how outrageous its demands, no matter how out of touch it might be with the American people. And Tuesday night, in a key moment in this race, he dropped the pretense that his was a centrist agenda. His agenda is the agenda of the Democratic left.

Michelle Malkin at NRO shares her reaction to Michelle Obama's comment this week that she is finally proud of her country:

I believe it was Michael Kinsley who quipped that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In this case, it’s what happens when an elite Democratic politician’s wife says what a significant portion of the party’s base really believes to be the truth: America is more a source of shame than pride.

Michelle Obama has achieved enormous professional success, political influence, and personal acclaim in America. Ivy League-educated, she’s been lauded by Essence magazine as one of the 25 World’s Most Inspiring Women; by Vanity Fair as one of the ten World’s Best-Dressed Women; and named one of “The Harvard 100” most influential alumni. She has had an amazingly blessed life. But you wouldn’t know it from her campaign rhetoric and her griping about her and her husband’s student loans.

For years, we’ve heard liberals get offended at any challenge to their patriotism. And so they are again aggrieved and rising to explain away Mrs. Obama’s remarks.

Melanie Kirkpatrick at the WSJ interviews General Bell, the commander of US forces in South Korea:

Gen. Bell describes the North Korean military as deployed in a "threatening posture" with "about 70% of their force within 90 miles of the demilitarized zone." Their equipment is old -- the Russians and the Chinese have stopped supplying them -- and training is poor. The army's capabilities have deteriorated in recent years, he says -- a factor, some argue, in Kim Jong Il's reluctance to give up his nuclear program. The North Korean dictator knows his army's potential to hammer the South with conventional arms isn't as good as it used to be.

Even so, Gen. Bell says, the North Koreans "certainly have the capability of bringing aerial fires, rocket and conventional cannon artillery to bear against Seoul . . . They don't need to bring any guns forward. So, they can certainly, at a moment's notice, engage targets in Seoul, should they choose to." He adds: "There would be casualties. But I will tell you, our purpose is to quickly eliminate that threat." Some of the missiles, many believe, would be carrying chemical weapons.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Dictator Retires

James Taranto's review of the coverage of this week's announcement of Fidel's retirement announcement:

Fidel Castro, who died in 2006 (give or take three years), "said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the country as president," Reuters reports.

What kind of leader was Castro exactly? Reuters doesn't say, but it offers us some clues:

[Castro is] retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.
Seized power in an armed revolution, check. Then there's this:

"To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament . . . I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept--I repeat not aspire to or accept--the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief," Castro said in the statement published on the Web site of the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
Hmm, Communist Party. That may be relevant. The story goes on:

A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the Third World for standing up to the United States but considered by his opponents a tyrant who suppressed freedom.
So he was a "charismatic leader" and was considered "a tyrant who suppressed freedom"--but only by his opponents. In contrast:

The bearded leader who took power in an armed uprising against a U.S.-backed dictator in 1959 had temporarily ceded power to his younger brother after he underwent emergency surgery to stop intestinal bleeding in mid-2006.
So the fellow Castro replaced was definitely a dictator. As for Castro himself, who knows?

And it isn't even just Reuters. The Associated Press calls Castro an "unchallenged leader," while the New York Times characterizes him as "one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world." (That fellow in North Korea--he's all-powerful, but not as all-powerful as Castro.)

The free press in the free world is bending over backward not to call Castro what he really was: a communist dictator. Why? Perhaps this is an artifact of the Watergate-era notion of the "adversarial press." Journalists see themselves as standing in opposition to their own government, and since Castro was an enemy of the U.S. that put him on the same side. The enemy of my country is my friend, or at least my "unchallenged leader."

This undated photo accompanied the story on Drudge

And had three relevant cartoons

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Cigar (Comments)

We burned a CAO Brazilia and concluded: We'll take a Bush Administration without wiretap authorization over a Obama/Hillary Administration with all the necessary tools to protect Americans. Your thoughts?

Karl's Weekend Reading

Newt Gingrich argues for a "do-over" for the Michigan and Florida votes in a WSJ article, "Let's Revote in Michigan and Florida", in order to avoid a "train-wreck in campaign '08 that threatens to produce a tainted Democratic presidential nominee and, worse, a divisive and delegitimized presi contest."

We couldn't disagree more. The candidates knew and accepted the rules ahead of time, and the precedent would be far more destructive to the country than the perceived, short-term benefits. We did, however, like his Super Delegate explanation:

One of the great ironies of this election season is that the very mechanism created by Democrats to avoid contentious conventions like those in Chicago and San Francisco promises to create further chaos in Denver this year.

Superdelegates are really "politician delegates." Superdelegates are technically uncommitted party insiders who can vote for whomever they choose. They were created by the party that prides itself on supposedly representing the common man to be the palace guards of the Democratic establishment. Bill Clinton is a superdelegate, as is Al Gore. They are Democratic Party insiders whose purpose is to put down insurgent campaigns and protect the interests of Democratic politics as usual.

Charles Krauthammer's Townhall article, "Obama, The Platitude Salesman", explains the success of the person capable of "getting people to buy a free commodity":

Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem.

Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's President Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs and that have eluded solution for a generation. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow.

Daniel Henninger explains in his WSJ article, "Obama at the Top", that if one actually listens to an Obama speech, all is not what it seems:

I think the potential vulnerability runs deeper. Strip away the new coats of varnish from the Obama message and what you find is not only familiar, it's a downer.

Up to now, the sheer force of Sen. Obama's physical presentation has so dazzled his public audience that it has been hard to focus on precisely what he is saying. "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!" Can what?

Go listen closely to that Tuesday night Wisconsin speech. Unhinge yourself from the mesmerizing voice. What you hear is a message that is largely negative, illustrated with anecdotes of unremitting bleakness. It is a speech that could have been delivered by a Democrat in 1968, or 1928. It is rife with class warfare.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sports Illustrated Gets It!

The hat makes it in the 2008 Swimsuit edition!

The Ushanka Hat even makes a skinny girl look attractive!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CPAC Roadtrip 2

We stopped at the Clinton Presidential Library on our way to CPAC with the assumption we'd cleanse ourselves in three days of conservatism. Then Romney dropped out and we spent three days at CPAC talking about McCain. Rule #1: Never assume.

So we visited the Shiloh Civil War Battlefield in Tennessee, where 3400+ died in two days of fighting. The picture above is the Hornet's Nest. The Ushanka is at the right edge of a 1 mile Union line that repelled the Confederates' eleven charges on April 6, 1862. This stand gave General Grant enough time to deploy two additional Union Armies for the April 7 Union victory.

Over 23,700 casualties in all, yet the war continued without any cries of "Quagmire!"

We wondered what the headlines would have been in April 1862 if today's "progressives" were there...

LA Times: Union Wins Despite Extended Supply Train in South
NYT, April 5: Union Army Defenses on West-East line, not North-South as thought
Reuters: One Man's Rebel is Another Man's Freedom Fighter
CNN Poll: 78% think war is mis-managed
President Hillary Clinton to General Grant: "We'll have to suspend belief when you speak"
President Barack Obama: "Hope and Change will get us through this war"
Analysis: Union Wins Shiloh, GOP Likely to Lose in Fall
Time: Can the Union Continue After Shiloh Losses?

(No placards on the hat in the picture. If a certain presidential candidate cannot bring himself to wear the US flag on his lapel, we are not going to disrespect the sacred ground with his name.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

MSM Shift Detected (Comments)

While reviewing MSM headlines for February 9 & 10, we noticed a new message: Senator McCain seems to be struggling. He appears weaker than first impressions suggested. He may not be the right person at the right time.

This wouldn't have anything to do with the Senator's sure nomination, would it?

Our congratulations to the members of the MSM for helping McCain in the key states.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CPAC Report

We walked into CPAC 08 with "Hillary '08" in large gold letters on our hat. And we survived!

Only a few reacted with "You should be shot!" or "Are you aware this is CPAC?" before they noticed the hammer and sickle. Boy, conservatives sure can be intolerant and hateful!

Some of our CPAC Accomplishments:
1) Ann Coulter loved her hat and CNN showed her wearing it!
2) John Bolton placed his hat on the table as he signed his book!
3) Mike Adams couldn't stop laughing when given his hat!
4) John Lott, the statistics god that he is, calculated in mere seconds that his hat ruled!
5) We interviewed with the lovely Mary Katherine Ham at Townhall, with CNN and with Fox News. The Fox News interview was broadcast today.
6) An informal poll shows having the most creative and funniest booth at CPAC. Many enjoyed taking pictures with our surprise guest, Hillary Rodham "I'm going to cry!" Clinton!

Overheard at the Ushanka Booth:

College student approaches booth...

Karl: What can I do to put you in a hat today?

Student: I think what you're doing is too harsh. It doesn't benefit the political discourse.

Karl: Yes! We are lowering the political discourse to a new low level of dialogue!

Student: Calling them [Democrats] communists doesn't help.

Karl: We're not calling them communists. We are saying that if every faction in the Democratic Party were to get what they wanted, and what they are being promised, then we will live in a communist state. Read our About Us link at our site.

Student: But calling them communists isn't right.

Karl: You're not listening to me. I am saying they, collectively, are communists in what they are demanding of the Democrats.

Student: But there is no nationalization of industry here.

Karl: Hillary is going to freeze interest rates on Mortgages on day one! How is that not government takeover of industry?

Student retreats...

Ahhh youth..

We were disheartened to see Gov. Romney drop his bid at CPAC. We think it put a damper on an otherwise upbeat event. His booth was two booths away from ours, and we knew then that no matter how bad our hats sold, we wouldn't have the worst experience at CPAC. It was further disheartening to see the walking dead (Ron Paul supporters) come out of the cracks and take Romney's booth. General Zhukov took the spoils of war and returned home with as much Romney handouts as he could carry.

Two things about John McCain:

1) He is not a conservative. When the Fox News interviewer asked us why we just had "Hillary 08" and "Obama '08" on our hat placards, and not John McCain, we replied, "Because we can't design a three-sided placard". (We're fast on our feet)

2) Mike Adams had the best speech of CPAC 08 (link) when he described the opposition as 'godless socialists'. We think he put things in perspective when he said his vote will not necessarily be for John McCain, but it will be a vote against Socialism. He not only knows the stakes in 2008, he has great taste in head wear too!

Our thanks to everyone who visited the booth, pointed to us from their blog, or participated in the CPAC 08 organization. CPAC 08 Links (we'll add as we find them...):
1) Weekly Standard, Brian Faughnan
2) Taki's Top Drawer, Richard Spencer
3) Added 2.21: Mary Katherine Ham, of HamNation, wears our hat in her CPAC video.
4) Added 2.28: Kevin Merida writes about the hat in a Washington Post story about McCain

More photos!

Karl's Weekend Reading

With the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this week, the focus is on the primaries and the candidates. We'll break our rule of limiting brilliant commentary on these topics. There is nothing else being discussed!

Daniel Henninger at the WSJ on Thursday asks us to take another look at McCain, in "McCain or the Wilderness":

Conservatives, for whom any glass is always half full, have sold themselves short. Notwithstanding the moderate pedigrees of the three major GOP candidates on entry, all emerged from the debates as Reagan conservatives on what matters: taxes, spending, regulation and national defense. Most of the worrisome moderate positions were in the past.
Most of the distrust of the McCain candidacy is rooted in personal ill will. He's a hard case, and activists are often brittle. The fear is that one of the strongest impulses in a McCain presidency will be payback, and that he might sell out conservatives on taxes and the judiciary. That is possible, though by now it would require an act of deep duplicity by Mr. McCain. Here again, the conservatives should show more self-confidence.

Michelle Malkin suggests an alternative to Presidential politics in her Thursday Townhall article, "Quo Vadis, Conservatives?" Her advice, go support the conservatives in the trenches. The conservatives in the local races. The future leaders of the conservative movement.

Some on the Right advise their readers and listeners to vote Democrat or sit home. My advice is exactly the opposite: Get off the couch and walk the walk for conservative candidates and officeholders who need all the help they can get defending free markets, free minds, and secure borders—no matter who takes the White House in November.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Dear Readers,

The Team, Karl, Zhukov and Zoya, will be entering the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington DC wearing hats that say "Hillary '08" and "Obama '08".

Some would advise against this. But, we are driven by our appreciation for fashionable head wear, and victims of our raw courage.

We are risking all as we enter the conference. But we also risk it all if we run out of our soft, warm, furry hats.

If we are not heard from again, donate our excess hats to the cold, hungry children Hillary keeps talking about.

Monday, February 04, 2008

CPAC Roadtrip

We stopped at the William Jefferson Clinton [Revisionist] Presidential Library today on our way to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in DC, starting Thursday. Visit us at our booth and get a close-up look at our hat!

We counted 16 staff and 10 visitors at the library. The three staff members behind the counter were all reading paperbacks when Karl stepped up to pay the $7 entry fee. We sat through the entire 10-15 minute video (despite urges to flee). No mention of all (2) of his accomplishments, but instead childhood pictures with various father figures, and his memory of Martin Luther King's Dream speech. The video shows pictures of the homeless and of hungry children as it explains the conditions leading in to the 1992 election!

Surprisingly, they have a section on the impeachment. Correction: "Constitutional Crisis". Clearly this was a political hit job because "every Democratic Senator voted for acquittal".

Most telling, the First Lady display, "The Work of the First Lady", opens with the following quote:

Hillary Clinton was one of our country's most active first ladies, fulfilling the traditional duties of the office, while assuming an unprecedented role in policy making at home and diplomacy abroad.

So, let's refer to this the next time she claims ignorance on 90's policy issues!

Karl visited the library so you won't have to! Now you can apply that $7 towards a sexy new hat, or a tasty beverage, vintage November 1917!

But if you wish to go, just look for the rusted bridge. The library is across the river from the Popeye's Chicken and Waffle House, and about half a mile from the Hooter's billboard on the 40 East.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

Surrender at the Wall Street Journal's editorial board! Or, at least that is what we thought when reading Thursday's "McCain's Apostasies". The board suggests McCain is just a reassurance or two away from mending disagreements with the conservative base. To be followed by a rally of the base in November. Well, if you haven't heard, McCain was a POW, and he supported the surge. He and the Journal editorial board also agreed on immigration reform. (There may have been one or two others that thought amnesty was a good idea too...) Not an endorsement by the WSJ, but if it smells like one...

Mr. McCain could heal some of the wounds merely by acknowledging the obvious, which is that McCain-Feingold has had unintended consequences...
On taxes, too, the Arizonan still has reassuring work to do.
Mr. McCain has already moved to accommodate his many critics on immigration...

Bret Stephens at the WSJ presents the new threat from Gaza - to neighbor Egypt. As always, a thorough analysis in his "The Gaza Breakout":

As Middle Eastern power plays go, Hamas's decision to dismantle the Gaza-Sinai border was a masterstroke. Gaza's economic woes are almost wholly self-inflicted, but they are real. Dynamiting and bulldozing the border of a neighboring country is legally an act of war, but it was made to seem like a humanitarian necessity and a bid for freedom. Flooding that neighbor with hundreds of thousands of desperate people is a massive economic burden on Egypt, but one that it shirks at its political peril.

Another "Where's the Outrage" piece, this time from an Obama supporter writing in the WSJ, "Hillary's Smear Campaign". So Obama's legal work for Tony Rezko (slumlord) amounted to 5 hours, compared to Hillary's 60 hours for Whitewater. Yet he is tarnished.

Mrs. Clinton's willingness to ignore the truth for short-term political advantage is exactly what breeds the partisanship that's paralyzed Washington for too many years, and the cynicism felt by so many Americans, especially the young. Getting ahead by any means possible is the strategy. Once elected, the candidate falsely believes that he or she will be able to set things right and govern differently. All that was said in the campaign is rationalized -- it will be forgiven and forgotten as part of the hyperbole of the election process.

Sadly, it just isn't so. No one forgets and no one forgives in Washington.

How you get elected defines who you will be once in power.

Tony Rezko is the one in the middle:

Last, leases of oil and gas will be up for sale on February 6 for drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, 25-200 miles offshore. But, this can be stopped if the concerned global warming types can get the polar bear on the endangered species list. The WSJ explains the specifics in "The Polar Bear Express", and concludes this may be more about politics.