Carol Platt Liebau: June 2006

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Leftist View

Laughably, Eleanor Clift is attempting to defend the New York Times. She reasons: Because Congress hasn't revealed classified information during wartime, it's up to the press to do it. Is this really the best the liberals have got?

Clift doesn't even use the facts as a basis for her arguments. She writes:

These editorial decisions are not made lightly, but whichever side you take in the debate, this is not treason. The administration doth protest too much.

'Scuse me, but can anyone find anyone speaking for the administration who used the word "treason"? Methinks Miss Clift doth protest too much.

In any case, if the American people share her view that Congress has failed adequatedly to perform its oversight function of the executive branch, they can vote out their representatives. But how, exactly, are we supposed to get rid of the New York Times?

Defending the Religious Right

Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits has a new book out -- "In Defense of the Religious Right." Here's an interesting interview where he discusses his work. Check it out.

Getting Religion

Barack Obama gives Democrats a reality check in high minded terms -- about the importance of reaching out to people of faith.

Even setting aside the militantly secular wing of the party, however, Obama's plea is wrapped in contradictions. Take the one example he offers of where religious faith could be involved in political debate: The estate tax.

Tax issues have, traditionally, never been an area where religious leaders have made their stand (unless, of course, it directly impacts churches, for example). You don't see Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson making a Bible-based plea for estate tax eimination. Usually, conservative religious leaders have focused on a fairly narrow spectrum of issues -- like abortion, public prayer, gay marriage, assisted suicde and the like. In other words, issues either protecting the practice rights of religious believers, or dealing with matters of life and death.

When politicians start relying on religious leaders to weigh in on matters that don't have an absolutely clear religious nexus, they run the risk of looking like they are trying to manipulate religion to achieve particular policy ends -- much as if, for example, Republicans relied on a pastor to make the case for cutting the capital gains tax or raising the drinking age.

The other risk is that, by trying to get Democrats in the game, Barack is suggesting expanding the scope of issues where explicitly religious dialogue is welcome. It's an interesting idea . . . one just wonders whether it's to the Democrats' overall advantage to be introducing religion into even more public spheres.

As far as I'm concerned, though, they're welcome.

Not Everything Is Fit to Print

The Wall Street Journal lays out some meaningful distinctions between its decision to publish the SWIFT story and that of the New York and LA Times.

An Innovative Campaign

Over at the American Spectator, Francis Beckworth has a fabulous idea for both educating the public and holding up the New York and Los Angeles Times to the obloquy that they deserve.

Hamden Analysis

Perhaps the best and most sophisticated comes from Ronald Cass over at Real Clear Politics.

Professor Cass picks up on the under-mentioned outrage of the Court assuming jurisdiction over the case even in the face of a clear congressional prohibition, and -- where I've focused below on the misinterpretation of Article 3 -- he notes that the Justices used and applied it in an absolutely unprecedented and pernicious way.

It's a must-read.

Another Reason To Shun the ICC

Here are two crucial quotes from this morning's LA Times, as the overreach of the Hamdan opinion continues to come into sharper focus.

Until Bush's 2002 order, the military had long followed Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions]. The provision prohibits torture, cruel and inhumane treatment and requires a fair trial for all detainees. Under international custom, Common Article 3 has applied in wars in which the other rules of military engagement did not apply, such as civil wars.

Comment: The Hamdan opinion notes, that Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions finds that in a "conflict not of an international character occurring in the territories of one of the High Contracting Parties each Party to the contract shall be bound to apply, as a minimum." (emphasis added).

The clear language of the provisions obviously indicates that it's supposed to apply to internal conflicts -- i.e. if the skinheads started a race war in America, Article 3 would apply. It's an egregious misinterpretation of Article 3 to apply it to the struggle between the US and Al Qaeda -- a struggle that is remarkably global in scope. Apparently, four of the Justices (Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg) don't seem to realize that Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, wasn't picked up here in America.

Or else, they simply wanted to reach a certain result, and al Qaeda fighters even more obviously don't meet the criteria for being considered POW's entitled to certain protections under the Geneva Conventions, which require that they fulfil the followng conditions:

(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying arms openly;
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

(Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Stuart Benjamin notes that, aside from Justice Thomas, the justices are pretty silent about what seems to many bloggers like an egregious misreading of Article 3).

What's even more outrageous is the fact that the Justices rely on a provision of the Convention that was previously unenforceable under American law (and in interpreting it, appear to rely on international common [i.e. judge-made] law).

"The opinion seems to provide strong support for the position that even interrogation of terrorists must comply with the Geneva conventions," the administration lawyer said.

If that's really true, then the Supreme Court has provided yet another excellent reason for the US not to join the International Criminal Court, as people like John Kerry have demanded. It's enough that, as noted in the comment above, the Justices are trying to shoehorn international (judge made) law into American jurisprudence, even at the price of ignoring the plain meaning of the text it purports to interpret.

Even worse, if -- as four of the justices opined -- the Geneva Convention applies to every interrogation of every member of al Qaeda, take that reasoning to its most extreme (but logical) conclusion. Couldn't some anti-American court conclude that some terrorist interrogations including features like waterboarding have probably violated the Geneva Conventions? And couldn't another overreaching court (this time, an international one) come up with a specious war crimes charge?

Congrats to the Court's liberals for their efforts to transform American soldiers into war criminals, due to their own misinterpretation and misapplication of international law.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Osama Wants al Zarqawi's Body

(HT for the saucy headline to commenter Analyzer below).

Somehow, it seems sadly appropriate that Osama bin Laden released a videotape praising Al Zarqawi on the eve of the Hamdan decision. Nothing like releasing a little videotape before enjoying a sound night's sleep courtesy of the US Supreme Court.

Let's think this through, lefties. Osama bin Laden praises Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. He was affiliated with al Qaeda, and fighting against the establishment of a free and democratic republic in Iraq (where he sought refuse before the war for medical treatment).

So help me understand how you can possibly think either that America would benefit by handing bin Laden a victory through our withdrawal from Iraq -- or that al Qaeda doesn't have a stake in the outcome of the conflict there?

For a Little Something Different . . .

The 2004 movie about Cole Porter's life -- "De-Lovely" -- has started to play again on cable.

Love Kevin Kline, a fellow native of St. Louis (his parents owned a wonderful toy store called "The Record Bar" where my parents would shop for our Christmas gifts, and they remember Mr. and Mrs. Kline confiding in them their worries when their son, Kevin, decided to pursue a career in Hollywood). The movie itself was a bit of a disappointment, though, due to its relentless obsession with Porter's sex life and its somewhat bizarre structure.

Even so, if it did anything to familiarize younger people with Cole Porter's music, then it's performed a great public service. He's one of the most gifted, witty and all around wonderful American composer/lyricists ever (and my favorite, although I love Irving Berlin's work, too). In the film, standout numbers include Elvis Costello's "Let's Misbehave" and Robbie Williams' rendition of the title song, as well as Natalie Cole's haunting cover of "Every Time You Say Goodbye" and Alanis Morrisette's version of "Let's Do It." (Sheryl Crow's "Begin the Beguine, though, is so ugly and off-key that the angels must have wept when they heard it. And what were they thinking to force Kevin Kline to sing the beautiful but difficult "In the Still of the Night"?). The best, though, is Cole Porter's own recording of his amazing hit "You're the Top," which runs during the credits.

In any case, here is a wonderul 1949 article about this most gifted man from The New York Times in 1949 -- back when it was still worth reading.

Sounds Good to Me

Peter Keisler is the President's nominee to be John Roberts' successor on the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (HT: Confirm Them.)

The Gardasil "Breakthrough"

A new vaccine has been found that would protect young girls from cervical cancer -- wonderful news. Gardasil immunizes against two sexually transmitted strains of of the human papilloma virus that are associated with cervical cancer.

What is disturbing is that the The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that the vaccine be administered to girls as young as 9 -- and routinely for girls aged 11-12. As welcome as the medical breakthrough is, there seems to be something rather sad about the almost complete absence of analysis about what the recommendations imply: A resignation about the inevitability of girls older than 11-12 -- and, in some cases older than 9 -- having sex.

Given the ubiquity of sex in a young girl's daily life (in television, movies, books, magazines, fashion, advertising, music and the internet), you can't blame girls for having the impression that it's OK for them to have sex. And while everyone should applaud protecting them from harm that results from their decision to do so, the new vaccine can't immunize them from other physical/emotional/spiritual damage that results from giving too much, too soon.

Bipartisan Agreement

Arianna Huffington thinks Hillary is inauthentic, too.

Dems React to Hamdan

Responding to today's Supreme Court ruling mandating either courts martial or full trials for terrorists -- and suggesting that terrorists enjoy at least some of the protections of the Geneva Conventions, here's what Democrats had to say. Keep it in mind come November, because it tells you a little bit about what would happen to the war on terror if Democrats were in charge: Unilateral disarmament.

Nancy Pelosi, highest-ranking Democrat in Washington: “Today’s Supreme Court decision reaffirms the American ideal that all are entitled to the basic guarantees of our justice system. This is a triumph for the rule of law."

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT):“The Justices have given our system a constitutional tonic that is sorely needed if we are to counter terrorism effectively, efficiently and with American values."

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "As we approach the Fourth of July, it is entirely appropriate that the Supreme Court has reminded the president and (Defense) Secretary (Donald) Rumsfeld that there is no excuse for ignoring the rule of law, even when our country is at war."

"Class versus Crass"

Over at Real Clear Politics, Seth Swirsky contrasts the behavior of President Bush with that of his adversaries.

So Much for "International Cooperation"

So now Belgium -- who had worked with us on the SWIFT program -- is going to investigate whether "whether a Brussels-based banking consortium broke the law when it provided US anti-terror authorities with confidential information about international money transfers."

Funny. The New York Times is always exhorting the Administration to work with other countries. Here, we worked with the Belgians -- who, according to a reliable Capitol Hill source, were extremely reluctant to be involved -- only on condition that the program would remain absolutely secret. Which it did, until the Times betrayed it for no apparent reason.

Good luck to us in persuading other allies to stick their necks out like Belgium did. They'll be afraid of getting them chopped off, thanks to the New York Times.

Between the Times, the Supreme Court, and ridiculous legislation like this, how exactly is the US supposed to win the war on terror?

It's remarkable how many people want to tie the President's hands in this new war against a faceless enemy that wants to hack off our heads with butter knives. If there is another terror attack, are any of the above entities going to share in the responsibility for it?

Of course not. They'll blame President Bush.

Not Infallible, Just Final

Today, the Supreme Court has reminded us of the abiding truth of Justice Jackson's words: We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.

Almost unbelievably, it appears that the Court has ruled in favor of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who has argued that the President lacks the authority to order military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and instead that prisoners are entitled to a civilian trial or court martial. Slip opinion is here.

In this regrettable piece of work, the Supreme Court -- with Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter and Kennedy (!!) in the majority -- has effectively found that members of Al Qaeda are, in fact, entitled to some of the protections of the Geneva Convention, a conclusion that, quite frankly, has the potential to undermine the Court's credibility in a major way. (Clarification: Justice Kennedy did not agree with the portion of the majority's holding that radically misread the Geneva Conventions).

Chief Justice Roberts had to recuse himself in the case, as he joined the opinion on the D.C. Circuit that was overturned this morning. That means that without Kennedy's defection, the case would have gone the other way, as a 4-4 tie would have allowed the D.C. Circuit opinion to stand.

Once again, this is a compelling reminder that elections matter and that Supreme Court choice nominations are of infinite importance.

Seems to me that while the Congress is busy voting on resolutions condemning nameless entities, it might be worthwhile for them to weigh in on whether terrorists are entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Conventions. And immediately, it needs to legislatively endow the President with the authority to establish and use military tribunals.

In the days after 9/11, who would have dreamed that the third branch and the fourth estate would make it so difficult actually to prosecute the war on terror? Who would dream that the latter would be betraying effective, legal programs that had been successful at catching terrorists -- and that the former would arrogate to itself the power to supply them with a panoply of rights that belong to prisoners of war fighting in uniform, but definitively not to those who, by stealth, move among us and attempt to murder innocent civilians.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

For the Record

Here is an article discussing the Sun-Sentinel's correction of an assertion, discussed on this blog here, that John Murtha had stated that the USA is a greater threat to world peace than North Korea or Iraq.

Apparently, Murtha wasn't making the declaration on his own behalf; rather, the paper misinterpreted his comments with regard to a poll that purported to show much of the world expressing the opinion.

Finally, please note that such a story would have never passed the laugh test had it been attributed to many, many other politicians in both parties. I'm frequently critical of both John McCain and Hillary Clinton, for example, but I (and most others) would have been far more suspicious of a news report attributing such a remark to either of them.

It's a sad commentary on Murtha that so many people would believe, in good conscience, that he made ridiculous anti-American remarks. In this case, however, the reports were wrong, and the correction is duly noted here.

A Dishonorable Defensive Crouch

Perhaps it's not surprising that an Agent Press France story does an excellent job of outlining the meme that The New York Times is trying to peddle in its own defense, now that it knows the majority of Americans, and Congress, too, are outraged by its unauthorized disclosure of a classified program during wartime.

First, we have:

As for tipping off terrorists, the newspaper argued that terror groups would have to be "fairly credulous" not to have already suspected that such a fund monitoring program was in place.

It highlighted a public 2002 UN report that specifically cited the US policy of monitoring suspicious transactions.

This argument makes no sense on two levels. For one thing, if there were no new revelations about the program, and everyone already knew about it, why bother to report it?

For another, there's all the difference in the world between knowing a program may be in place and having specific information about how it's conducted. It's the difference between knowing that the police are on the lookout for drunk drivers on Independence Day, for example, and being told that they are gong to pull over every black car with license plates that include the letters NYT.

Second, there's this:

The Times responded that its report had exposed "an alarming pattern" that has emerged since the September 11 attacks, of the Bush administration citing security imperatives to bypass the normal checks and balances placed on the executive branch.

Both rationales are, quite simply, lies. Bill Keller himself conceded in his letter that there is "considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far." That doesn't sound like the hallmark of a program with which terrorists are familiar, or an abuse of power, especially when members of Congress had, indeed, been briefed on the program.

But even amid its disingenuousness, the second rationale exposes the underlying mentality at The Times. If, indeed, "the Bush administration [is] citing security imperatives to bypass the normal checks and balances placed on the executive branch," then it's Congress' Article I prerogatives that are being overridden. And one would imagine that the members of Congress who have been briefed on the program -- or Democrats like Lee Hamilton or liberal Republicans like Tom Kean of the 9/11 Commission -- would object. No one did. Maybe The Times or leftist moonbats think the pattern is "alarming," but apparently no one elected to represent us agreed.

And that's what irks The Times. It despises the Bush Administration, and is dismayed because the (Republican) Congress refuses to dismantle secret programs that are helping secure the country from another attack. So if the Congress won't undermine the war on terror, the unelected, unaccountable and arrogant Times will.

One final note: The Times has argued that its publication of classified information bears "no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals."

Nice try. Disclosure of troop locations could be profoundly damaging not only because it "compromises the immediate safely of specific individuals," but also if, by surrendering the element of surprise, allows the enemy to change its own battle tactics. In fact, if the information allows the enemy to withdraw from that particular field of battle (where it was being slaughtered) and wait to strike another day and another way, it may not have compromised anyone's immediate safety, but it has jeopardized soldiers' lives, the war effort and national security itself in a serious and lasting way.

Appallingly Craven

Rep. David Dreier just admitted on Hugh Hewitt's show that the House's resolution condemning the publication of classified material in time of war will not name the press organs that betrayed a classified national security program.

How craven. Of course every politician in Washington is afraid of angering the mighty New York Times and suffering the unflattering coverage that might result therefrom, but they're paid and elected to represent their constituents -- who are outraged by what's occurred and expect the Times' unprecedented abuse of the First Amendment not to go specifically unrebuked.

Without naming the transgressors, the resolution is transformed from a righteous, significant and historical reprimand to a largely impotent statement of principle that sounds good, but is so general that it could encompass everyone or no one.

In policy terms -- badly done. And in political terms, too -- great job of snatching political defeat from the jaws of victory: First, by undermining the morale of the base, which expects a little more valor from House Republicans, and second, by producing a resolution that doesn't name The Times, thereby making it infinitely easier for Democrats costlessly to support.

The Iniquity of The Times

9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean mourns the loss of the program exposed by the New York Times.

What's most interesting is that he noted that Treasury officials were "'very agitated and very concerned' about possible exposure of the program." This, once again, suggests that either John Snow or Bill Keller is a liar . . . and the liar isn't John Snow.

'Bout Time

The House of Representatives is preparing to present a resolution condemning the leak of classified information about the financial tracking program and The New York Times' decision to publish it.

Good. Makes it clear that it's not just The Times vs. the Bush Administration; it's the Times vs. the other elected representatives of the American people.

Now, where's the Senate? And I'm still waiting for a Democratic senator to denounce The Times.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Interview With Rick Santorum

John Hawkins of Right Wing News does the honors. (HT: Betsy's Page).


Joe Biden attempted to convince listeners of the disinterestedness underlying his pursuit of The White House by letting go with this little bon mot:

“I’d rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep.”

Thanks for the appealing mental image, Senator. Was that ridiculously gratuitous remark intended to be clever? What is Senator Biden thinking to come up with such a coarse and inappropriate comment?

It's fair to point out that this isn't Biden's first foray into remarks that border on vulgarity. Perhaps he'd better go back to "borrowing" from Neil Kinnock. The ideas might have been leftist, but at least the expression of them was refined.

(If you don't get it, read this and this.)

Lefty Wishful Thinking

Over at the Fox News site, Martin Frost writes,

We truly live in a dangerous world and the United States should lead the way in ridding the world of Al Qaeda. To accomplish this, liberals should support a strong U.S. military and significant funding for homeland security. Many traditional liberals, both in Congress and in the general public, have done just that.

Care to name names? Who, exactly, are these "traditional liberals" -- besides Joe Lieberman?

Surely he's not talking about people like John Murtha (denominated a "hawk" by an adoring MSM here and here and here, for example). Suffice it to say that, although we see no names being specified, it's not because there are too many to include.

I'm still waiting to hear a Democratic senator denounce The New York Times for betraying the details of an effective and lawful program designed to catch Al Qaeda and protect the American people. Congress was briefed on it, and if the author of the linked piece truly believes that "the United States should lead the way in ridding the world of Al Qaeda" -- and believes his Democratic buddies believe it -- they'd best speak up.

Because that's not the impression most of America is getting.

Abusing the First Amendment

Hugh Hewitt enumerates the multiple ways that the Los Angeles Times needs to get its story straight -- and illustrates just how unaware some of its top leadership is of relevant precedents that weaken their baldfaced assertions of right, nay, obligation, to publish a story about a classified program that was, by all accounts, effective, lawfully administered, and the product of consultations with Congress.

But ignorance about the First Amendment and press rights is, apparently, widespread. In a debate this morning on St. Louis' 97.1 FM morning show, a lefty tried to assert that James Madison had written into the Constitution a right for the press to publish stories that cripple national security efforts.

Nothing could be further from the case. In fact, as Professor John Eastman pointed out yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's show, if one examines the structure of the First Amendment, it secures "freedom of speech and of the press." That means that American citizens -- all of us, equally, not some more than others -- have the right to speak in dissent from our government, and to put our dissent in writing.

But like most other rights, it's not absolute. Chief Justice Hughes pointed out in 1931 that the government could certainly prevent publication of information like "the number and location of troops." The information that the Times splashed across its front page was similarly classified, and similarly important.

Indeed, Professor John Eastman noted in his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Supreme Court has, in fact, conceded that prior restraints on publication of sensitive classified information are permissible.

It strikes me that the newspapers themselves and the lefties who are defending them have forgotten one essential point: That the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect the American people from a tyrannical and abusive government. Here, the papers have achieved almost the complete opposite: They have taken it upon themselves to inform the enemy of a non-abusive and effective government program for protecting the country, thereby exposing the American people to a greater risk of harm. So who's tyrannical and abusive now?

Gotta Love Maxine

Apparently, Maxine Waters is declaring that Administration statements about troop withdrawals is a "victory" for her Out of Iraq coalition -- a sign that they are wielding influence.

Well, okay. If Maxine is powerful, I am, too. I'm calling for the sun to set tonight. When it does, think with awe of my power. I control the solar system!

Haditha Update

Here, Accuracy in Media's Roger Aronoff lays out what we still don't know -- and what we do -- about the Haditha investigation.

No one can reach a dispositive conclusion until all the facts are in (that means you, too, John Murtha). But if anything is becoming clear, it's that Time Magazine's initial frenzied reporting of the story was significantly flawed.

Expensive at Half the Price

This Boston Globe story reads as follows:

Clinton said it is "unconscionable" that the United States has not toughened car emission standards, and he objected to the president's efforts to permanently repeal the estate tax. An estate tax on the richest one percent of Americans could raise $25 million to $40 million a year, enough to wipeout extreme poverty around the globe in a decade.

It's not clear whether that last sentence is Clinton's or the Globe's, but is it really true that $400 million could wipe out extreme poverty around the globe in a decade? If so, someone ought to tell Warren Buffett and Bill Gates -- 'cause that's only a sliver of the $30 billion going from the former to the latter's foundation. And note that the federal government has already thrown in more than a billion in aid to the states hit by Katrina -- but you've not yet seen the elimination of extreme poverty there.

What's more, it might be simpler and more efficient just to cut the capital gains tax again if revenue is what Clinton wants -- because studies show that it costs more to collect the death tax than the government brings in. How efficient is that?

And how's this for a prime example of liberal thinking:

Clinton noted he is one of those rich Americans and that taxes are in some respect a duty.

"I think it's the price of civilization," Clinton said.

Everyone is willing to pay taxes for the things that matter. But Clinton conveniently forgets that with the estate tax, people are being asked to pay twice. Is that the "price of civilization" -- or just the price of big government?

Monday, June 26, 2006

"Show Me" Concern for the Victims

A brutal crime has rocked the St. Louis area:

[The defendant, a teacher] is accused of attacking 17-year-old Ashley Reeves, of Millstadt, choking her three times, wrenching her neck to the near-breaking point and dumping her body in Belleville’s Citizens Park on April 27.

Make no mistake, the accused isn't eligible for the death penalty. But in light of the "heinous and brutal" nature of that crime, it seemed particularly jarring to read that a federal judge in Missouri has halted executions in the state because of concern that inmates are confronting an unnecessary risk of "unconstitutional pain and suffering." (In part, the judge criticizes the protocols because the doctor mixing the "lethal cocktail" is dyslexic -- an outrageous slur on the competence and efficiency of dyslexics, who actually tend to have IQs that are significantly higher than normal).

No one wants the death penalty administered in a blatantly inhumane or unconstitutional manner. But even as federal judges get very finicky about the way that criminals are dispatched, it's hard not to remember that Ashley Reeves was left for dead in a Belleville Park, and remained there 30 hours before being found. Presumably, the victims of the murderers whose sentences are being stayed suffered even more at the hands of even more vicious criminals.

So forgive me if I'm just a touch more concerned about the well-being of victims like Ashley than the comfort of criminals as they depart for the hereafter.

Pants on Fire

Not surprisingly, Treasury Secretary John Snow doesn't appear to agree with Bill Keller's characterization of the discussions between the Administration and The New York Times over the publication of the hitherto classified program. (HT: National Review).

Michael Barone notes that The New York Times appears to be at war with America, and what's more, makes a point that hasn't been made enough: "Members of Congress were briefed on the program". That in itself deeply undercuts another rationale put forth by Bill Keller in his ridiculously condescending letter (discussed on this site here) that "we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators . . . which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it." Apparently they did know about it, Mr. Keller.

He's hardly setting a standard for trustworthiness that would make anyone comfortable with his decision to substitute his national security judgment for the Administration's.

Slice 'n Dice

Patterico eviscerates LA Times Washington Bureau Chief Doyle McManus, and rightfully so.

Frankly, McManus' explanations and rationalizations are as arrogant, disingenuous and ineffectual as Bill Keller's -- and that's saying something.

It is impossible both to support America winning the war on terror and to support what these newspapers have done. Impossible.

Declassify the Docs!

In today's Wall Street Journal, Senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Peter Hoekstra make a compelling case for the declassification of documents that reveal what has -- and hasn't -- been found in Iraq in the way of WMD's.

They point out that the President may be hesitant to authorize the declassification or disclosure of information, lest he once again be accused of "cherry-picking" information. But if that's the case, the rationale for not acting makes no sense. President Bush's adversaries are going to accuse him of everything under the sun whether or not he declassifies information; might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. Moreover, everybody who was inclined to believe that he would do such a thing has already been convinced anyway.

In fact, it could be argued that the only way that the President can actually restore some of the trust he has lost among some (those who still have minds open enough to be changed) is, in fact, to show that fears about Saddam Hussein and his capabilities were well-founded.

And nothing demonstrates that more than showing how much deadly stuff still remains in Iraq -- found neither by Hans Blix nor the Iraq Survey Group, which, as the piece points out, "had fully evaluated less than 0.25% of the more than 10,000 weapons caches known to exist throughout Iraq."

Another Hillary Apologist

In New York magazine, Chris Smith tries to rationalize Hillary Clinton's numerous equivocations about the war. He writes:

Yet Clinton’s position on the war isn’t small-minded. And it isn’t constructed merely to maintain her political viability. It happens to be what she believes. Hillary Clinton has long been more hawkish than her husband, implying that she favored finishing off Saddam during the first Gulf War and, more recently, talking tough about Iran.

Really? Why don't I recall her (or her husband)saying anything about that at the time?

Yes, Hillary Clinton may be taking her lumps with the insane netroots. But she must realize that her biggest problem -- aside from the perception that she's an inauthentic opportunist -- is that she's perceived as a liberal, and that she's a woman (which people often construe as implying a certain weakness on defense). If, by putting up with a little fury from the KosKidz, she can transform herself from someone who reportedly didn't want those in military uniforms around her daughter or in The White House to Margaret Thatcher II, it's hardly dying on the last hill of principle -- rather, it's a good deal for her.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

At Once Too Little and Too Much

Here is the letter that The New York Times' managing editor, Bill Keller, has sent to the no-doubt numerous readers who have written to protest the Times' decision to run the story telling terrorists about government surveillance of international financial transactions.

Keller discloses at once too little and too much. For example, he insists that "We spoke to others — national security experts not serving in the Administration — for their counsel." Wouldn't it be interesting to know who they were -- and what they advised? Keller never tells us.

On The Hugh Hewitt Show last Friday, however, the Beltway Boys asserted that even John Murtha had asked the paper not to go forward. Without more, that fact suggests that Keller's assertion may be deliberately disingenuous, insofar as it leads the reader to believe that the non-Administration officials approved the running of the story.

As for disclosing too much, Keller actually notes that

we cited considerable evidence that the program helps catch and prosecute financers of terror, and we have not identified any serious abuses of privacy so far. A reasonable person, informed about this program, might well decide to applaud it.

If that's the case, then, how, exactly, is it dispositively in the public interest for an effective, secret program to be disclosed?

Keller continues

That said, we hesitate to preempt the role of legislators and courts, and ultimately the electorate, which cannot consider a program if they don't know about it.

Yes, better to preempt the President of the United States, vested with the power of Commander in Chief by Article II of the Constitution, and substitute some untrained journalists' judgment for that of the duly elected executive and his national security team during wartime.

By the Times' logic, no information about ongoing programs -- or even war plans -- would ever be secure from disclosure, because by the Times' lights, "ultimately the electorate" has the right to "know about" everything, and not just after the clear and present danger has passed, when evaluation and consideration may be appropriate.

Let's all hope that the Times doesn't find out about any present-day analogue to Josephine Baker or the dog doo transmitters of World War II. Because under the express (non-)logic of its managing editor, it would presumably be preempting the role of legislators, courts and the electorate not to breathlessly disclose the spy and the device ASAP, whatever the jepordy to the forces of freedom.

Finally, never believe, despite all Keller's ringing words, that The Times has been in any way "courageous" by running this story. The predictable lionizing (exemplified by this entry on the Columbia Journalism Review) is just one more breach in the now virtually nonexistent "bond of trust" between the American people and the MSM.

It is, above all, a sad and ugly abuse of the First Amendment.

Going, Going, Gone . . .

John Murtha has finally gone over the top. Apparently, he believes that the US is the top threat to world peace -- more detrimental than North Korea or Iran.

No doubt the French agree. Do the Democratic '06 candidates?

The Next Big Thing

The left may have Daily Kos, but we've got Hugh Hewitt and the new Townhall. I like our chances.

The Virtue of the Founders

Jon Meacham, in an insightful book review, discusses the character of the Founding Fathers and asserts hopefully that we may find their like again.

I believe we will. But certain features of American society have made the task more difficult than it was, even as recently as the era when Ronald Reagan was growing up.

For one thing, today, we don't talk of "virtues," we speak of "values" (and, all too often, conclude "to each his own") -- the term itself bespeaks a certain relativism. What's more, as a society and as a culture, the cultivation of virtue has all but disappeared as an open, public aspiration. Too often, it's been replaced with the search for "fame" -- not as the Founding Fathers understood it, ("hav[ing] honor across space and time", as historian Gordon Wood puts it), but in terms of notoriety, exemplified by the breathless dedication to the exploits of Angelina, Britney and the newest cast of the hottest reality TV show. Bad behavior is overlooked or even celebrated if the person doing it at least has th panache to be cleverly immoral.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that the redefinition of terms like "values" and "character" (as Meacham points out) and "fame" result from the diminishing influence of religion in the public square. Religion is one of the few forces that remind human beings that the here-and-now isn't all there is; it's one of the strongest restraints on unhealthy ambition and excessive pride.

The Founding Fathers understood this, and actively strove to live lives that were not only about power, prestige and wealth -- but likewise about being natural artistocrats whose power had come to them "by merit" . . . that is, excellence of judgment and character.

Encouraging such aspirations to virtue, not just to fame, is particularly important to democracies -- for it's harder to find a Washington or a Reagan to elect in a society that too often glorifies glibness and facility above less glamorous but more solid virtues. Even so, I'm optimistic -- America is a great and good country, and surely it will continue to produce great and good leaders.

A Great American Novel

For some reason, George Will chose to write a piece about a great American novel which -- remarkably enough -- was made into one of the greatest films ever.

I read "Gone With the Wind" as a fifth-grader (you can imagine that Belle Watling made for some interesting questions for my mother). It's spoken to women for generations, perhaps because it contains two archetypes of female behavior: Feisty, aggressive Scarlett O'Hara (Hamilton Kennedy Butler) and sweet but strong Melanie Hamilton Wilkes.

Over time, I've come to see that the two characters -- and the interplay between them -- are endlessly fascinating to women because they represent the often-conflicting impulses that compete within each of us. Together, they demonstrate the vastly different types of strength and determination that women can muster during tough times.

Despite its often retrograde attitudes toward African-Americans, it was one of the few pieces of literature at the time that credited black people with intelligence, humanity, and influence over the people who had enslaved them. Perhaps it's somewhat ironic, but also hardly surprising, that Hattie McDaniel would become the first African-American to win an Oscar (as best supporting actress) for her memorable portrayal of Mammy.

Kudos to Georgia

For passing a voter ID law. Amazingly, it's now only one of seven states that requires a voter to show identification in order to participate in the democratic process. That means in most states that it's more difficult to open a bank account, write a check or hop on a plane than it is to exercise the franchise, a rather pathetic commentary.

Democrats have been arguing that the law will adversely impact minorities, the elderly and rural voters. But as the piece points out, the law "gives voters who need identification a chance to get a free, state-issued card at voter registration sites in each of Georgia's 159 counties."

Strikes me that it's a lot more burdensome to pay taxes (or fill out tax forms) than it is to get a free ID. Funny how Democrats don't object to those sorts of inconveniences being imposed on the American people, though.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

S + C + V = Happiness

At least, that's what this fascinating Washington Post piece says. S is one's biological happiness "set point;" C stands for one's current conditions; V is for one's voluntary associations.

The piece links to a pretty neat site -- Its proprietor is Martin Seligman a prominent psychologist (I studied him in college). He's the guy who propounded the theory of "learned helplessness". At the time, I remember being incredibly intrigued by the theory's insights.

To me, though, it seems that there are two missing, but related, parts of the equation . . . the two G's. One would be a relationship with God -- which, it seems to me, would positively impact both the C and the V variables of the happiness equation. The other, different but related, is gratitude. Nothing lifts the spirits like seriously and sincerely counting one's blessings.

Dem Divisions

Kick back and enjoy this little tale about Democratic bickering and John Kerry's prima donna ways.

But take a special look at the end of the story -- which details how Dick Durbin, at a party caucus meeting, presented poll information purporting to show that the majority of Americans want troops out of Iraq in the next year.

How revealing. Trying to formulate a position on Iraq is a matter of polls for them, rather than principle. No wonder Americans don't trust Democrats on national security.

Like President Bush or not, but he's clearly trying to do what he thinks is right -- not tailoring his policies to today's polls.

Cormint-y Fresh?

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Heather McDonnell clearly explains why The New York Times is "a national security risk".

And Gabriel Schoenfeld argues that there's a statute -- the Cormint statute -- under which The New York Times could be prosecuted, if not for the financial piece, for the NSA story.

Of course, in light of the First Amendment, it is profoundly disturbing to think of newspapers being prosecuted -- even when they're as breathtakingly irresponsible as the New York & LA Times. But in constitutional interpretation, there's such a thing as trying to construe a statute so as to avoid raising a constitutional question -- and here, I'd argue that the same prudential principles apply . . .

The New York Times and The LA Times shouldn't be pushing the envelope so far that, simply to protect national security, the government is almost compelled to put an unwelcome precedent of prosecuting a newspaper on the books.

Perhaps an interstitial step, as Hugh Hewitt has noted, would be for Congress to hold hearings on the pieces and their impact on national security. After all, if the "Big Oil" companies can be summoned repeatedly to the Hill under specious charges of "price gauging," it seems appropriate for the newspaper companies to explain why they believe they can substitute their national security judgment for that of the federal government in the middle of a war. After all, what they've done is far more damaging to the national security, and potentially to Americans as a whole, than any price gauging could be.

Friday, June 23, 2006

McCain Speech

Just returned from hearing John McCain speak at the Reagan Library -- AP account here. The linked article summarizes some of the best parts of the Senator's speech, though it conveniently omits the evidence of fissures that emerged during the question and answer period when issues like immigration came up.

As many readers of this blog know, I criticize John McCain from time to time. In fairness, though, it's obvious that he's a patriot, a real fan of Ronald Reagan's -- and a staunch proponent of victory in Iraq. So if he ends up the party's nominee, there is something to build on.

Gotta Love the Aussies

After a week wasted in part on John Kerry's cut 'n run amendment, is there anyone else who wishes some Republican senator could say, "I move that that sniveling grub over there be not further heard"?

All By Myself?

This piece in The Washington Post argues that Americans have become increasingly socially isolated.

"For most of the 20th century, Americans were becoming more connected with family and friends, and there was more giving of blood and money, and all of those trend lines turn sharply in the middle '60s and have gone in the other direction ever since," [Harvard public policy professor Robert Putnam] said.

One small observation: It would be interesting to see whether there's a correlation between this "social isolation" and the decline in church-going that's occurred over the last several decades, wouldn't it? (If you have stats, please end 'em to me).

Finally, there's this:

The current structure of workplace regulations assumes everyone works from 9 to 5, five days a week," Putnam said. "If we gave people much more flexibility in their work life, they would use that time to spend more time with their aging mom or best friend."

So where was Putnam when John Ashcroft's flextime proposal (which would allow workers themselves to decide whether they wanted to be compensated for overtime with time off or pay) was being savaged by his political opponents and the unions?

Sobering Statistics

Over at Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan analyses some poll results that, as he puts it, "help[s] put the threat of Islamic extremism to the West in perspective, particularly in the context of how the ideology of radical Islam continues to imbed itself in open, tolerant societies."

Just a Matter of Trust

The LA Times this morning treats us to a story on global warming, complete with the admonition that "the nation's preeminent scientific body" not only believes that the phenomenon is real, but that it is influenced by humans.

One can't help but wonder how many of the people who have refused to believe that there were WMDs in Iraq insist on believing in global warming. How many of those who are convinced that the Bush administration "pressured" analysts to come to certain results to justify the invasion of Iraq -- and have pushed investigations of that matter -- are willing seriously to investigate credible claims that scientists who dissent from the global warming credo are being professionally punished for it? How many of the people who called for a full national debate on Iraq now have no interest in there being a national debate, with both sides being able to present evidence, about global warming?

I'm a global warming agnostic -- which means I'd like to weigh the evidence on both sides. We never seem to hear it.

Rather, all the people who were quite willing for a jack-booted thug to sit on piles of WMD absent 100% dispositive evidence that the WMD were there are now very willing to accept a lot of projections, estimates and approximations, and use them as a basis for passing restrictive laws that could result both in harm to the American economy and significant restrictions on limit Americans' personal freedoms.

I guess it's all a matter of where one places one's faith. Many of the same people who would scorn the assessment of the "nation's preeminent body" when it comes to Iraq or Iran are willing to tout the findings of the "the nation's preeminent scientific body" when it comes to the environment. Do you trust the people who believe in American might, or those who want to constrain it?

Update: According to the piece in the New York Times, caveats to the study were dropped. One other thing worth noting: In the ledes of the both NY Times and the LA Times stories, it refers to the outfit issuing the report as the "nation's pre-eminent scientific body." Coincidence? Or cribbing from a particularly compelling press release?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

MSM Outrage

It is the worst of Times -- The New York Times and LA Times, that is. Against the expressed passionate requests of the Bush Administration based on national security concerns, both organs nonetheless chose to publish more stories about a completely legal effort to track global financial transfers so as to find and catch terrorists.

How contemptible . . . the papers are essentially tipping off terrorists. When the Founding Fathers provided for a "free press," it's hard to believe that this is what they were hoping for -- "journalists" who couldn't wait to expose secret programs designed to protect the country.

Americans should contact the top ten advertisers in each paper -- and let them know that the shame that attaches to these papers is likewise shared by those who support them.

Terror Bust

Seven Americans have been arrested as part of a terrorist plot to attack the Sears Tower and a federal building in Miami.

For my part, I'm glad that the Democrats -- obsessed with "domestic wiretapping" and "intrusive" law enforcement -- aren't in charge.

The New Lefty Meme?

Some are trying to claim that what's been found in Iraq aren't really WMDs. Well, here's Donald Rumsfeld, being interview on the Hugh Hewitt show.

What has been announced is accurate, that there have been hundreds of canisters or weapons of various types found that either currently have sarin in them or had sarin in them, and sarin is dangerous. And it's dangerous to our forces, and it's a

So obviously, to the extent we can locate these and destroy them,
it is important that we do so. And they are dangerous. Anyone -- I'm
sure General Casey or anyone else in that country would be concerned if they got in the wrong hands.

They are weapons of mass destruction . They are harmful to human
beings. And they have been found. And that had not been by Saddam
Hussein, as he inaccurately alleged that he had reported all of his
weapons . And they are still being found and discovered.

Asking the Right Question

One of the few MSM outlets to report that yes, Virginia, there were WMDs in Iraq, the Washington Post nonetheless points out:

[T]he shells were old and were not the suspected weapons of mass destruction sought in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

That is likely to become the mantra of our friends on the left, as well, who are determined that no evidence be adduced or released that might possibly justify the invasion of Iraq. So it's worth figuring out exactly whether what's been found matters, and why.

Are the WMD precisely what we believed to be in Iraq? No. But that doesn't mean that the fact they're there isn't significant. It is. It tells us a number of things -- all of which reinforce the rightness of the decision to go to Iraq in 2003.

First, we know dispositively that the UN -- despite all its efforts -- was unable to find these caches in the years after the Gulf War. So where does that leave all the lefties, who are insisting that the weapons inspectors needed just a little more time?

Second, we know that Saddam Hussein deliberately concealed the weapons, and lied to the entire world about it -- in violation of numerous UN declarations (it's a surprise to me that liberals like Peter Beinart, who believe in reestablishing the UN as a source of authority, are so unhappy that the US put some teeth into the otherwise impotent declarations emanating from that body).

Third, we know that Saddam was eager to reconstitute his weapons programs after sanctions were lifted. The existing stockpiles would have made that task easier for him and more dangerous for the rest of us.

Fourth, we know that Saddam Hussein was an ally of al-Zarqawi, and we know what WMDs in his hands would have meant.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that before the lefties get too far down the "it doesn't matter" road, they might want to recall that -- as Senator Santorum pointed out in yesterday's press conference (transcript here) -- there may well be other, more damning information that hasn't yet been declassified.

And then, it will once again be time to ask the Democratic senators and congressmen: Did you know all this, even as you repeatedly told Americans that the decision to go to Iraq was wrong, because there weren't any WMD's there?

Thanks, John Kerry!

So John Kerry's "cut and run" plan for Iraq, specifying that all troops would have to be removed by July 2007, has been overwhelmingly defeated in the Senate -- showing that, even if they have only minimal military sense, the majority of Democrats have at least some political sense left.

By forcing the vote, Kerry decided to further his own presidential ambitions at the expense of his party's well-being. As I wrote here last January 31 (when Kerry was staging his "flopibuster" on the Alito nomination,

John Kerry has long had a reputation in the Senate as a showboat, and this episode only reinforces the impression that his primary (sole?) concern is himself. In order to uphold his standing among the hard left, he's been willing to risk an intra-party fight, and created a situation that has placed fellow senators (some not fortunate enough to hail from a monolithically ilberal state like Massachusetts) in political trouble.

Obviously, my low opinion of Kerry is hardly unique.

But in any case, the Republicans have reason to be grateful for John Kerry -- politically speaking. In terms of policy, though, he's as pernicious for the country as he is for his party.

They're Right to Worry

Robert Novak writes that many of his Democratic colleagues are worried about their new "rising star," Jack Murtha.

Not only did his appearance on "Meet the Press" underscore the Democratic image of weakness and incompetence when it comes to military affairs (he wants to station troops that would respond to Middle East crises in Okinawa), his status as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal drives yet another nail in to the Democratic "culture of corruption" coffin.

Happy Birthday, Winston!

On this day in 2006, the most wonderful little dog in the world was born in Silverdale, Washington. He is loyal, intelligent, courageous, lively and loving. He's a blessing to all who know him -- and has the rare distinction of bringing joy to at least two people every day of his life. How many of us can say that?

Happy birthday, Winston, and many, many more!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Who Knew?

Blogs are everywhere . . . even Al Zarqawi's mom has one. (HT: Brainster's Blog.)

Important Information

As details emerge, it seems increasingly clear that there were, indeed, WMD's in Iraq -- and some still may be there. Here is an unclassified report.

If this turns out to be the case, it will be difficult to understand why this information was not disclosed earlier, before the impression formed in much of the public mind -- aided and abetted by the war's opponents at home -- that there were never WMD's in Iraq.

Likewise, if Senator Rick Santorum knew about this, how many Democratic senators did, too -- and still deliberately allowed misinformation to flourish in order to drive down support for the war and for President Bush?

Update: Here's more:

The official said the findings did raise questions about the years of weapons inspections that had not resulted in locating the fairly sizeable stash of chemical weapons. And he noted that it may say something about Hussein's intent and desire. The report does suggest that some of the weapons were likely put on the black market and may have been used outside Iraq.

You Read It Here First

The LA Times covers what looks a lot like anti-religious bias on the part of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Harold Ford: Race-baiter?

At least, that's the logical conclusion from this big-wet-kiss of a story from the LA Times for Tennessee's Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold Ford.

First, the story notes:

But Ford argued that the old labels do not apply — not to this centrist, pro-war, anti-gay-marriage, deficit hawk of a social conservative who once criticized former President Clinton for lying about infidelity and mounted a challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) by calling her "too liberal." (emphasis added).

Then it goes on to state that:

Ford and his strategists have been laying plans should race — or the kinds of racial codes that marked other campaigns, including charges of being too liberal — emerge in the fall. (emphasis added).

Who knew that calling a Democrat "too liberal" had become tantamount to race-baiting? Shame on Harold Ford for employing "racial codes" in his political race against Nancy Pelosi!

Whose Side Are You On?

Byron York reports that a Kerry adherent and volunteer has been hired onto the Senate Intelligence Committee staff of the ever-pious Chuck Hagel, nominal Republican of Nebraska.


A key Republican committee staffer in the politically charged prewar intelligence investigation is a veteran of the 2004 Kerry presidential campaign. Eric Rosenbach, hired by Sen. Hagel to work on prewar intelligence issues, came to the Senate after completing studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government under Rand Beers, a top foreign-policy adviser for Kerry. In Fall 2004, Rosenbach took three weeks to volunteer for the Kerry campaign in York County, Pennsylvania.

Hagel says he knew that Rosenbach worked with Beers (a top Kerry advisor), but not that he worked in the campaign. Please. You don't always need a weathervane to know which way the wind is blowing.

Certainly, it was disingenuous at best for the young man not to have revealed his Kerry affiliation.

But as for Hagel, he's either dishonorable or an idiot. Dishonorable if -- elected as a Republican -- he surreptitiously seeks out staff that are going to formulate and push policies that don't comport with what his constituents believed they were getting when they voted for him. An idiot if he didn't realize that an affiliation with Rand Beers wasn't a pretty reliable signifier that Rosenbach isn't with the Republicans when it comes to national security issues.

Trouble on the Loony Left

Robert Scheer provides a living example of the left opposition to Hillary Clinton -- growing so intractable that it may be difficult for her to triangulate her way out of it.

The best suggestion Scheer makes? That the female candidate liberals ought to support for President is Barbara Boxer. Yes, please. Please, please, please.


As this piece reports, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church has declined even to pause in its rush to consecrate gay bishops, despite being asked to do so by the rest of the Anglican Communion worldwide. The laity delegations voted 71 to 38 to continue the practice, urged on to do so by gay bishop Gene Robinson, despite the fact that the move will hasten the Episcopal Church of the USA's ejection from the Anglican Communion.

The linked piece notes that the outgoing Presiding Bishop is "distraught" about the vote.

Well, forgive me for not feeling sorrier for him. He and other liberal bishops started this fire, the laity delegations are overrepresented with liberals, and now he's learning it's not as easy to stop radical movements as it is to start them.

As for the traditionalists, at least there's clarity. And some hope that perhaps a branch of the Church that actually welcomes us will spring from the rubble this General Convention has created.

Update: There's been a bit of a pullback.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Me, Me, Me, Me, Me

In this piece from the Sunday WaPo "Outlook" section, Linda R. Hirshman -- an outspoken proponent of mothers working outside the home -- writes about how vilified she's been for propagating ideas like this one:

The tasks of housekeeping and child rearing were not worthy of the full time and talents of intelligent and educated human beings. They do not require a great intellect, they are not honored and they do not involve risks and the rewards that risk brings. Oh, and by the way, where were the dads when all this household labor was being distributed? Maybe the thickest glass ceiling . . . is at home.

She devotes the rest of the piece to telling us about her. All about her. How she's been mistreated. How her book proposal was turned down. Etc., etc., etc. ("But enough about me. What do you think about me?")

One hesitates to be unkind, but it's worth pointing out that Hirshman's behavior seems to follow her philosophy. At work and out in the world, women do (and often must) think about themselves first. At home, however, they learn that there are others who have needs that are important and compelling -- and that it's not all about them.

Obviously, in her eagerness to get out of the home and push other women with her, Linda Hirshman has forgotten some important life lessons -- assuming, of course, that her own mother was home to teach them to her.

In any case, one of the things my mother taught me was that when you educate a man, you educate an individual. When you educate a woman, you educate an entire family. Hirshman might want to think it over.

(HT: Charlotte Hays at IWF's InkWell.


Lorie Byrd gives Dan "Fake But Accurate" Rather the send-off he deserves.

What a Guy

So Al Gore is declining to endorse Joe Lieberman in his reelection bid, on the grounds that he doesn't endorse in primaries (he's conveniently forgotten the whole Howad Dean debacle, apparently). What a guy. It's not like Lieberman has changed in essentials from the man he was when Gore chose him as a running mate in 2000.

So what happened? Did a grown man (Gore) change his views that much in that short a time? Or was his decision to choose Lieberman a purely political one -- he was so eager to win and so opportunistic that he'd select a man he fundamentally disagreed with to take over if something happened to him? Or is he being opportunistic now -- so eager not to upset the crazy netroots that he's willing to throw his erstwhile running mate overboard?

Whatever the explanation, it doesn't say anything too good about Al Gore.

Dems: Wrong Again

With N. Korea acting like it might decide to launch some intercontinental ballistic missiles, as an Angeleno, I'm mighty glad that there's a missile defense system for us to deploy in our own defense.

Remember how the Democrats ridiculed and reviled President Reagan when he first raised the idea of a missile defense plan" in 1983? Well, the Democratic approach -- relying exclusively on the doctrine of mutual assured destruction, along with negotiation, doesn't seem so smart when you're dealing with Kim Jung Il.

Now explain to me again why we should be listening to the Democrats about how best to prosecute the war on terror . . .

We're Waiting . . .

Prayers are with the loved ones of the two soldiers who were brutalized and murdered by our enemies in Iraq.

I wonder how long it will take for all the "usual suspects" in the Democratic party and abroad who are so worried about the well-fed prisoners at Guantanamo to weigh in. Where are the fevered denunciations about this breach of the Geneva Conventions?

Building the Beast That Devours You II

It shouldn't be a big surprise that Hillary Clinton received the highest percentage of those who would "definitely not" vote for her compared to the rest of her presidential rivals, Democrat or Republican.

Senator Clinton is a divisive figure, and long has been. That's no doubt part of her problem, and ironically, a lot of voter fatigue with the prospect of her candidacy, may be the result of the way the Democrats have chosen to go after President Bush. As I noted here, the left has waged a long political battle of attrition against the President, challenging everything he does, and attributing only the worst motives to him.

The Dems have refused to rebuke even the most out of control, reckless rhetoric (Teddy Kennedy comes to mind), hoping to harness grass-roots anger on the left for their own purposes. It's tiresome, not only to Republicans, but to the great mass of Americans who really don't like the kind of ugliness that they've witnessed being directed at President Bush.

People are tired of polarization, as President Bush himself was aware in 2000. They're even more tired of it now. And that's one more good reason that the Democrats have only themselves to thank for strengthening peoples' determination not to support the polarizing Mrs. Clinton. Oh, in addition to the fact that the left think's she's too much of a hawk. And that the American people don't resonate with inauthenticity.

How Insulting

This little AP article enlists the head of the inherently unserious White House Project (dedicated to electing a woman president) to moan about how few women there are in government compared to other countries.

Marie Wilson, White House Project chief, whines that the US has:

"gotten further and further behind as other countries have adopted quotas and other mechanisms to ensure they are using all their resources, meaning their women. Those countries implemented quotas because they finally decided that political parity was important enough to be given some teeth."

Yes, well, forget about jumping off a bridge -- if those countries disbanded their armies and decided to impose a marginal tax rate of 100%, does that mean that we should do it, too? Hardly.

This type of complaining so typical of the silly breed of feminist. Note the following paragraph:

Experts point to a number of problems the U.S. needs to solve to bring more women into office: the cost of running a competitive campaign, redistricting that favors incumbents — most of them male — and stagnant numbers at the state legislature level.

'Scuse me -- but aren't those problems that relative newcomers to elected politics in the US (male, as well as females) confront? Has anyone been able to muster any evidence that women are either being discouraged from seeking electoral office, or that they're being opposed, simply on account of their gender? Hardly.

And has anyone ever considered that women aren't turning out to run in droves, not because "the man" is keeping them down, but because they're relatively happy with the representation they're already receiving?

Think about it -- and shed the mantle of victimhood. We're about elected the best candidate, not the breast one (unless she's the best, too, as may well be the case).

As for the White House Project, maybe I'll take its bona fides a bit more seriously when they indicate any interest in supporting conservative women, as well as liberals.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Bird? A Plane? What Is It?

By day, he's a mild-mannered producer, fast food gourmand, NASCAR aficionado. Who knew that Radioblogger was also the "man of steel"? Seeing is believing, I guess.

How Revealing

As Ankle Biting Pundits inform us, the Democrats think so little of the responsibilities of the Intelligence Committeee that they are fine, just fine, with letting Alcee Hastings become its ranking member. Yes, that's the same Alcee Hastings that was impeached and removed from the federal bench for corruption.

Apparently, the Dems think it's just fine for this solid citizen to be the go-to guy on their side in the House when it comes to intelligence matters. If that doesn't suggest a complete and wilful indifference to national security issues, I don't know what does.

(HT: Captain's Quarters -- feel better soon, Captain Ed!).

Episcopalians Not Alone

There are also radicals in the Presbyterian Church, it seems.

The Church voted to "receive" (one step short of approving) gender neutral language for the Trinity -- so that, instead of referring to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, one could refer to the Trinity as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend." Strikes me that such alternate forms of the Trinity don't really refer to the Trinity at all, but rather seem almost designed to separate the notion of the divine from the Trinity.

A question for the radical Episcopalians and the radical Presbyterians: If you don't like your denomination with the doctrines it's had for years, why try to change everyone else's form and style of worship? Why not start your own religion?

Border Security First

Leading conservatives get it. Let's see if the Senate does.

Once again, I ask: Why not link via some formula the number of people put on the "path to citizenship" to the rate of reduction in illegal immigration?

A Thumb in the Eye

The more I read about the new Episcopal presiding bishop, the worse the news sounds.

If the Episcopal Church of the USA were actually seeking a way to alienate the rest of the Anglican Communion and traditionalists in the United States, it couldn't be doing a better job. There's no denying that her politics, first, and her gender, second, is going to complicate the Episcopal Church of the USA's dealings with the rest of the world. That doesn't mean she wasn't entitled to be voted into the post -- only that it may have been a choice that was more designed to inflame than to unite.

Moreover, as the bio here points out, Bishop Schori was only ordained twelve years ago. It's not as though through dint of experience and work in the Church, she had distinguished herself over a substantial period of time.

So not only has the Church elected a Presiding Bishop that's an outspoken liberal who has pushed for official recognition of same sex blessings by the Church, it seems that they've gone out of their way to make the choice that's most likely to provoke confrontation, inside the Church and within the Anglican Communion across the world.

Here's hoping that those who, like John Danforth, have spoken out about the dangers of division, will speak out once more about the danger that a small leftist majority in the US will succeed both in driving traditionalists from their Church, and the Episcopal Church of the USA from the Anglican Communion. After all, it strikes me as unfair for revisionists to blame traditionalists for causing "divisions" when they are the ones who insist on ignoring the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church worldwide.

Update: When I wrote yesterday about "needless confrontation," this is what I meant.

Better Than It's Seemed?

Michael Barone points out that things may not have been as bad for the President as they looked until last week. With respect to the upcoming elections, polls are bad at predicting turnout -- and turnout is what made the difference for the President (and his party) in 2004.

Moreover, the Republicans have to run against someone -- and luckily for them, it' s the Democrats. Here, Joe Klein's distinction between a referendum and choice when it comes to elections becomes useful. Dems want to frame it as the former, Republicans as the latter.

Luckily, it is the latter -- and we're dealing with a party that actually tries to claim it's got a plan even as it ignores the two hottest issues of the day: The war in Iraq and illegal immigration. No wonder the support for Democrats has dropped seven points in the last month.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Liberal Mind

The LA Times helpfully reminds us that we shouldn't blame some victims of Hurricane Karina for blowing $2000 cash cards on trips, sex change operations and other decidedly non-emergency items. Blame FEMA instead, they tell us.

How typical this whole debacle is of the left wing mind that brought us the welfare state. One reason "quick fixes" like the cash cards were implemented was because of the hysterical outcry from MSM outlets like the Times, claiming that the government wasn't doing "enough."

So the predictable response was to do somethng -- anything -- with the taxpayers money to quiet the critics, even though the scheme was obviously and clearly prone to the most egregious kind of abuse. And then, when it goes bad (as many could have predicted it would), don't hold the wrongdoers responsible: Once again, they're just victims -- and Big Daddy government is deemed to be at fault for not successfully exerting control over how the money is spent . . . oversight power that would be frightening if the government actually were capable of wielding it effectively.

Putting Judges in the Kitchen

Steven Chapman reports that the Center for Science in the Public Interest (put quotes around those last two words) want judges to require Kentucky Fried Chicken to stop cooking with trans-fats.

Where will this end? Do we really want judges deciding how, what and when certain foods can be served to Americans -- especially when, although unhealthy, they're hardly immediately lethal?

We're not children. Give us the facts, and let us make our own decisions about what we eat.

The Church's New Stumble

The Episcopal Church of the USA has chosen a woman, Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, to be its new presiding bishop. Of course, she's hardly a traditionalist -- but what's more, the choice of a woman will inevitably fray the already weakened bonds between the Episcopal Church of the USA and the rest of the Anglican Communion.

Of course, that would just be the price of principle if Bishop Schori were truly the most worthy and outstanding candidate. But it's worth noting that she's been an Episcopal priest only since 1994.

Once again, one is tempted to wonder what ECUSA is thinking about -- besides political correctness and needless confrontation.

Cruising Naked on the Bicycle Seat of War

Only Mark Steyn could heap deserved derision on the heads (or bottoms) of left wing naked bicyclists so tastefully, amuse us, and make a serious point at the same time.

Check it out.

O-bama in O-Eight?

The Washington Post raises the possibility.

Certainly, Barack has lots of charisma and is making all the right moves. But he's not even served a single term in the US Senate, and as the piece points out, his legislative record is still somewhat sparse.

Is the enthusiasm for a nascent candidacy among some Democrats genuine, or is it an implicit reflection of some weakness in their field?

The Greater Danger

Jack Kelly weighs in with an important reminder:

[T]he greater threat to our civil liberties comes not from the measures the Bush administration has taken to protect us from terrorists, but from prosecutors who abuse their power for political purposes.

FOr years, the Democrats screamed about the mild-mannered Ken Starr -- who had been assigned the Monica Lewinsky case against his wishes. Funny that they're so silent about Patrick Fitzgerald, Mike Nifong and others.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why Care About Anything But Yourself?

The newest bon mot from Dixie Chick Natalie Maines:

"I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

The statement resonates with such profound ignorance that it boggles the mind. Maines obviously can't conceptualize caring about anything but her own life and her own petty concerns. And she obviously has not an inkling about what makes America so blessed and so special.

Thankfully, the men and women who are willing to sacrifice -- and possibly even give the lives that they, too, doubtless "like" -- to protect the country as a whole have a deeper and more generous understanding of their fellow Americans and of what this country stands for.

Every single American -- from the President to the most vituperative commenter at Huffington Post shares a bond because we are fellow citizens of the freest, most generous, most compassionate nation on earth. We may disagree on policies and issues, but we share a heritage which, albeit imperfect and flawed, nonetheless is an ongoing narrative of a country that has tried to honor the inalienable, God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When Natalie Maines looks at America -- its compassionate people, its history of freedom, its continuing efforts to live up to the highest ideals of the Founding Fathers and even the incredible opportunities she herself has been given because of her American citizenship -- and nonetheless finds nothing to love or to celebrate, that says something profoundly sad.

Not about America. About her.

Amusingly Acerbic

Andrea Peyser writes an entertaining account of a Ted Kennedy book-promotion event with little children -- focusing on the irony of the Prince of Chappaquiddick having a dog named "Splash."

More Inconvenient Truths

Writing for Reason, Ronald Bailey asserts that mankind is responsible for global warming, but provides a detailed rebuttal of numerous exaggerations in Al Gore's movie.

And he makes an important -- and largely overlooked point: Just because someone diagnoses a problem correctly, it doesn't mean he (or she) will necessarily come up with the correct policy responses.

Dress to Fit In, Think to Stand Out

That's the message of this thoughtful piece on tattoos by Naomi Schaefer Riley.

The tattoo craze has left me cold. Who, exactly, thinks they can improve on God's handiwork by turning one's own body into a permanent art canvas? Of course, there was something kind of amusing about the rumor purveyed at Princeton that alum George Schulz has a tiger tattooed on his bottom. And if someone does something like that, who cares? I don't have to look at it.

But I am so not interested in seeing someone's girlfriend's/boyfriend's name, or personal totem, or some other attention-seeking silliness emblazoned on their skin. It strikes me as a sign of immaturity to try to "stand out" because of something as silly and self-indulgent as body art. Think something original, do something wonderful and creative. That's the right way to stand out.

Friday, June 16, 2006

From Governator to Girly-Man

Today on his radio show, Hugh Hewitt interviewed Governor Schwarzenegger (transcript at Radioblogger).

What a disappointment the Governor has become. As I've noted here and here, ever since he lost the 2005 initiatives, the Governator has morphed into a girly-man -- where doing the right thing isn't as important as doing something that will (1) get him reelected and (2) allow him to declare something (anything!) a success as a result of his tenure.

In any case, on the radio today, he was literally unable to name a single prominent conservative in his circle of advisors (note that the result would be quite different if he had been asked to name a liberal). But what was most amazing is that he became petulant when Hugh Hewitt dared press him on the issue despite his evasions -- it was as if he was surprised that a conservative radio talk show host would have the temerity to ask why he's failed to include even a single prominent conservative in his circle of advisors.

Obviously, Arnold doesn't feel that he needs conservatives in order to win. But what's remarkable is that he's continuing to make one of the same miscalculations that contributed to his loss last November -- overestimating his own charm and underestimating the extent to which the press (left and right) is willing to ask tough questions.

Of course I'm still going to vote for him in November; what's the alternative? But I'd be much happier about it (and much more active) if the Governor were willing to brave the wrath of his wife and the liberal establishment by at least giving conservative views a hearing.

How sad to see someone with so much potential squander it so thoroughly.

The Doves in the Night-time

149 Democrats plus Socialist Bernie Sanders voted against a House resolution that "[d]eclar[es] that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary."

Mind-boggling. The full text of the resolution is here; in its most relevant part, it reads as follows:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors all those Americans who have taken an active part in the Global War on Terror, whether as first responders protecting the homeland, as servicemembers overseas, as diplomats and intelligence officers, or in other roles;

(2) honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and of partners in the Coalition, and of the Iraqis and Afghans who fight alongside them, especially those who have fallen or been wounded in the struggle, and honors as well the sacrifices of their families and of others who risk their lives to help defend freedom;

(3) declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;

(4) declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;

(5) congratulates Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and the Iraqi people on the courage they have shown by participating, in increasing millions, in the elections of 2005 and on the formation of the first government under Iraq's new constitution;

(6) calls upon the nations of the world to promote global peace and security by standing with the United States and other Coalition partners to support the efforts of the Iraqi and Afghan people to live in freedom; and

(7) declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.

Aside from provision #3, whatin the world could the Democrats have possibly disagreed with? But there had to be more. The following exchange with Sherlock Holmes in "The Silver Blaze" is illuminating:

"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Here, the "curious incident" wasn't the dog that didn't bark -- it was the doves that didn't chirp. If the Dems had disagreed only with provision number 3, nothing would have prevented them from offering their own resolution with the same wording, absent that provision. So there had to be more.

How I wish that someone on one of the Sunday morning shows would ask a Democratic leader: Exactly what in the resolution did your caucus oppose?