Carol Platt Liebau: August 2006

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Downside of "Compassionate Conservatism"

"Compassionate conservatism" was supposed to be the magic bullet. If small-government conservatism was dead, what did it matter -- because, after all, Republicans could prove that they "care" as much as the Democrats do and thereby win new adherents.

Well, it sounded good in principle. But nothing comes free, and for every new Republican all the federal spending was supposed to create, it may have lost a few, as well. This piece by John Tierney points out that the much-ballyhooed "South Park conservatives" have a strong libertarian streak -- and, accordingly, they've been anything but pleased with all the bigger government.

As South Park creator Trey Parker pointed out, the religious right used to have more to offer: "The Republicans didn't want the government to run your life, because Jesus should. That was really part of their thing: less government, more Jesus. Now it's like, how about more government and Jesus?"

What the "compassionate conservatives" need to remember is that the government tends to force "competitors" out of every field of endeavor it occupies. The more government there is, the less perceived need there is for anything but government -- including Jesus -- because, ultimately, too much government stifles everything it touches . . . including the human soul.

Laying Down the Law

That's what President Bush did in this speech today -- both to the Iranians (who, not surprisingly, blew off a UN-imposed deadline for ceasing the enrichment of uranium), and their (hopefully) unwitting allies in the cut and run coalition.

President Bush's speech was important, especially when it comes to discussing the reasons to continue fighting the war. Democrats and the cut-and-run brigades want to focus on the problems currently afflicting Iraq and raise questions about who the war began. What's important -- and what Republicans haven't been doing enough -- is to emphasize the pernicious and disastrous consequences of a premature withdrawal.

It's the best way to combat the Democrats' efforts to exploit current discontent for political power, at the price of victory in the war on terror.

Claire McCaskill in "Ashcroftland"

George Will lets slip a private comment by State Auditor Claire McCaskill, running against Jim Talent for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, that's profoundly insulting to the rural portions of the state.

Will notes McCaskill's determination to hold down Talent's margins outstate. She's been working hard to present herself as someone who has a lot in common with the more conservative, rural voters from outstate, trying desperately to raise their comfort level with her.

Interesting, then, that she would refer to rural Missouri sneeringly as "Ashcroftland"; as Will writes:

To win, however, she must prevent huge Talent majorities in what she calls "Ashcroftland" -- rural and very religious areas . . .." (emphasis added).

What's even more interesting is that Will's got a direct quote from her on the topic. Could it have been obtained at this private lunch?

It must have been some forum like that, because surely McCaskill wouldn't have been stupid enough to speak so dismissively in public about the section of the state she's trying to woo. What, exactly, does she mean by "Ashcroftland"? Given the unfair impression of John Ashcroft purveyed in Washington, D.C., as some kind of backward, Bible-thumping religious zealot, it certainly wasn't intended as an accolade when McCaskill used it in her conversation with Will.

And then, it's worth asking, why, exactly, is Claire McCaskill running down portions of her own state -- the state she hopes to represent -- to George Will? Sounds to me like McCaskill was taken in by a sympathetic-seeming journalist, and attempting to win him over, tried to make common cause with him as a fellow sophisticate, versus the rural, religious bumpkins in Missouri's hinterland.

Shame on her. Either she's dishonest or ignorant -- because given the margins by which Ashcroft was elected to two terms as governor and one as senator, there have been significant periods of time when all of Missouri was "Ashcroftland" . . . and none the worse for it, either.

The Democrats' Problem

William Rusher puts his finger on it here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

From the Horses' Mouths

Here is the Democrats' agenda, from their own mouths:

Democrats will press to get out of Iraq. They'll mount investigations into the Bush administration's record that could rival those of Presidents Nixon in Watergate and Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair. They'll push a boatload of social-welfare legislation, such as raising the minimum wage, that reflects their pent-up priorities, while blocking the Republican agenda on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion and religion.

The details are pretty sketchy. What, exactly, is the "Republican agenda" on gay marriage, abortion and religion that the Dems are going to block? Gay marriage amendments can't pass Congress as it is, there's no pending abortion legislation, and exactly what "religion" are they referring to?

Obviously, anything resembling a positive agenda is just a bunch of talking points strung together with little meaning and even less sense. But they are deadly serious about cutting and running in Iraq, and trying to exact retribution for the Clinton impeachment.

What a fabulous use of the people's representatives' time, especially in the middle of a war.

A Disgrace

According to the Washington Post, not only has the former president of Iran been granted a visa to visit the US, it appears that Jimmy Carter may take time to "talk" with him.

First, it's not clear exactly why Khatami is entitled to the privilege of roaming the United States freely. While he's often designated in the press as a "pragmatic moderate," that's only in comparison to the zealot who succeeded him. What's more, all of us should be profoundly alarmed at the prospect of President Carter having access to him.

Carter is famous for his compulsive appeasement of America's enemies, and his obsession with denigrating President Bush, even in foreign publications (recent examples here and here). Allowing him to speak to former President Khatami is a recipe for disaster, as his anti-Bush, pro-Iran remarks will only convince Khatami that Iran can proceed on its present course with impunity.

Judge This

President Bush has nominated five people to be judges, one of whom the Democrats have threatened to filibuster. Bring it on.

"Beyond" Babies?!

This "Newsweek" piece, "Beyond Babies," talks about the falling birthrate across the world -- which is attributable, in large part, to many people deciding they simply don't want children.

That's their prerogative -- and, for my money, if people don't want babies, it's better for everyone (especially the babies) if they don't have them. It is, perhaps, worth their thinking it through a bit carefully, though, and realizing that they are opting out of what's supposed to be one of life's greatest experiences (not to mention a gift from God). Still, to each his (or her) own.

Where the trend becomes troubling is when one starts detecting certain hints of overt hostility toward children -- for example, the story describes an Italian resort that promises that "Your Tuscan holiday will not be shattered by the clamor of children."

What's all that about? Weren't we all children once, dependent on the kindness of strangers? Why is it so difficult to cut a little slack for the little people and those raising them? For those who can't think any way but selfishly, just remember -- those little children are the ones who will running the world when you're too old to do anything about it, so we all have an interest in making sure they're brought up properly.

Besides which, they're fun (most of the time), they're funny -- and above all, they're a reflection of the divine. So have 'em or don't have 'em . . . but be kind to them all.

It's Just Stress

That's what relatives of Omeed Aziz Popal, the driver who injured 14 in yesterday's rampage, are insisting.

But read between the lines of the story. Funny that a "kind, gentle" person would spend three months in Afghanistan for an arranged marriage and then return and decide to try to kill people in a particularly Jewish area of San Francisco, isn't it?

Could there possibly be more to the story?

Where's the Feminist Outrage?

Here is a blood-chilling piece on the disregard for human rights -- and brutal mistreatment of women -- that's taking place in Chechnya.

So what do the American feminists have to say? Typically, NOW has instead chosen to focus on the really important things . . . like complaining that Plan B's placement behind pharmacy counters may mean that a woman must endure "a moralizing lecture from the cashier or pharmacy clerk." Oh, the horror.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hardly a Crisis

Over at The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse is getting the vapors because of the relative paucity of female Supreme Court clerks in the coming term's crop.

One who is in that position [of having no female clerks], Justice Souter, said he was disappointed to find himself without any female clerks. He explained that he had hired the top four applicants, who turned out to be men.

Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the truth. There are a lot of reasons for variations year to year, and it is possible, after all, for there to be a year when the overwhelming majority of top applicants simply happen to be male.

A similar situation can arise on law school journals (membership is an important credential for a Supreme Court clerkship), and, in fact, did in the 1990-91 year at The Harvard Law Review. Out of a class of about 500, 39 people were offered a Review slot; only 9 were women. Although there had been plenty of women in earlier years and the writing competition was blind (so that graders would have no idea of an applicant's sex), Greenhouse-style feminists raised the alarm about the reduced number of women, and called for the institution of affirmative action based on sex for Review membership (a terrible idea that, thankfully, was never adopted).

In fact, there were plenty of innocuous reasons for the relatively poor showing in that one particular year. For one thing, significantly fewer women tried out for the Review than men -- and here, note that Greenhouse's piece doesn't report how many women overall applied for the clerkships (I'd bet the numbers are far lower than those for the men).

Second, there were fewer women at the law school in general, and thus a smaller pool of candidates overall. Here, it's worth pointing out that there may be a relatively smaller number of female clerks working with "feeder" judges, and, frankly, clerking overall (as Greenhouse notes, the number of female clerks, and especially those with feeder judges, can vary from year to year).

Third -- though not relevant for the Review, it might be for the clerkships -- many of the women in top law schools tend to be liberal feminists. That can place conservative judges, who are entitled to ideologically compatible clerks, at a relative disadvantage.

Finally, it's possible that there were plenty of women of all ideological casts, and that plenty applied to all the justices, but -- at least this year -- they simply weren't as highly qualified (or as personally appealing) as the men. It's worth pointing out that clerks work closely with their justices, and personal compatibility is also an important element.

The last thing any truly capable and qualified woman should want is for justices to be pressured to hire other women simply because of their gender.

And sometimes, a banana is simply a banana . . . In any one given year, there may be fewer female Supreme Court clerks as a statistical blip, without sexism or bigotry of any sort -- and without it presaging the doom of the Republic.

Terrorism in San Francisco?

Fourteen people, including a child, have been critically injured by a driver identified as Ohmeed Aziz Popal, who was apparently trying to hit random pedestrians. SFO callers to Hugh Hewitt's radio show have noted that the areas in which the attacks took place are predominantly Jewish.

Is this terrorism? It's too soon to tell. But it's nonetheless remarkable that the television news seems too determined to go forward with Katrina retrospective coverage to report on what could be a terrorist rampage. Doesn't this warrant at least a minute of a news anchor's time?

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy . . .

Apparently, Saddam Hussein is being subjected to repeat showings of the South Park movie, which features him in bed (literally) with Satan.

On Iran

Arnaud de Borchgrave spells out all the sobering facts about Iran's deliberate march toward acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Katrina Roundup

Thoughts and prayers go out to all the people and pets whose lives were destroyed by what was the worst natural disaster in American history. But it's going to be a long day, as the MSM (and the Democrats) try one more time to establish its own "compassion credentials" and sneak in a little more Bush bashing through its Katrina retrospective coverage.

For a little something different, check out Wizbang, which makes a compelling case that the tragedy was caused, not even by the storm itself or the government response, but by Corps of Engineers malfeasance in constructing and maintaining the levees. Over at City Journal, Nicole Gelinas appears to agree.

The greatest lesson of Katrina had nothing to do with the "power of nature" or even racism. What everyone should now understand is this: However well-meaning, the federal government is simply not equipped to do everything for everyone, especially in an emergency. So take note and prepare.

Although government inefficiency is certainly distressing at times of sharp need like Katrina, it's also worth remembering what Thomas Jefferson said: "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." And, as Bobby Jindal has reason to know better than most, big government most often is wasteful government, too.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bad Plan

Over at the Indkwell blog (at the Independent Women's Forum's web site), Charlotte Allen points out what seems to be a nasty little willingness on the part of Barr Pharmaceuticals -- manufacturer of the Plan B pill -- to market its product even to extremely young girls.

As with the Gardasil "breakthrough", whatever the merits of these drugs, it's absolutely unconscionable to use them in any way to overlook or minimize the terrible toll that premature sexual activity takes on girls.

A Profoundly Pernicious Idea

Pete du Pont excoriates -- with good reason -- the the pernicious "interestate compact" bill that recently passed California's Senate. It would, in essence, aim to change the Constitution to permit direct election of the President, abolishing the Electoral college, without going through the mandated amendment process.

Read the whole thing.

Shifting Winds?

Perhaps the wish is father to the thought, but Al Hunt writes gleefully that the Democrats believe they have a "lock" on the House, and might well take the Senate, too.

On the other side, the American Thinker's Richard Baehr speculates that Rahm Emmanuel may be growing increasingly worried -- and that he has, in fact, been urging closer coordination between the 527's and Democratic candidates.

As is usually the case, Michael Barone has an acute analysis, noting that the winds may have shifted slightly in the Republicans' direction in recent days, given the UK terror threat and the apparent embrace of the far left by some elements of the Democratic Party.

The fact is that it's simply too soon for either side to know with any assurance how this autumn's races will ultimately shape up, because factors no one can predict -- much less control -- are going to be decisive. In particular, the course of the war on terror will be key; if evidence of other, new threats emerge, voters may well be reluctant to trust Democrats even if they're otherwise annoyed with Republicans. In a related vein, if Iraq seems to be stablizing, albeit slowly, that helps Republicans -- but if it doesn't, that may strengthen the Democrats' hands. Likewise, another catastrophe like Katrina would help Democrats, especially if it could again be manipulated to "show" Republican inefficiency (don't make the mistake of believing that all those MSM Katrina retrospectives are merely nonpartisan commemorations).

Given the fact that, now more than ever, the most decisive matters are those least within the control of politicians generally, there's no way around the conclusion that -- despite Democrats' fear of a Rove "October surprise" (as noted by Hunt in the piece linked above) -- no one knows what events will be most important, or which way they will cut . . . at least not yet.
Blogger has been acting up today -- so that I've lost not one, but two fairly long posts.

More soon.

Baghdad More Secure

Deaths this month are down dramatically in Baghdad.

Selective Outrage? Selective "Justice"?

So now we learn that Colin Powell ally and "moderate" State Department official Richard Armitage -- no proponent of the Iraq War, as he's made certain to have it known -- is actually the person who "leaked" Valerie Plame's name to reporters(s). What's more, he somehow neglected to report all his contacts with the Fourth Estate for more than two years.

Help me understand. Isn't Lewis Libby being prosecuted for supposedly having "lied" to the grand jury? So how are Richard Armitage's "oversights" any different? It seems that withholding key facts is permissible, as long as one had the "right" views about the war.

Is there one standard of justice for the war's supporters, and another for its opponents?

And what will the lefties say now, with their theory about Plame having been outed as "retaliation" having been so definitively discredited?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"We Called It 'Grandstanding'"

When a clever Brit comes after you, watch out. Luckily, erstwhile Thatcher ally Michael Portillo is taking aim not at America, but at France, which he thoroughly excoriates in no uncertain terms for its unreliability, perfidy and baseless moral vanity.

He's really got their number:

The French believe that what they say is at least as important as what they do. They spin grandiloquent phrases and strike postures. Rhetoric is away of life and if you point out it is divorced from all strategic reality that is thought to be nitpicking.

It's a must-read.

No Doubt They're Quaking

This would seem almost like a joke if it weren't so deadly serious.

An increasingly defiant Iran, resisting pressure to halt its uranium enrichment activities by a Thursday deadline, inaugurated a heavy-water nuclear reactor Saturday and then, as if to punctuate its point, fired a long-range missile on Sunday from a submarine in the Gulf.

The U.S.'s response?

Washington, in its own diplomatic escalation, has increasingly dropped hints that the United States might organize tougher economic sanctions against Iran, independent of the United Nations, if the Security Council fails to do so.

Yes, that should have them quaking in their boots.

That's a Qualification?

Unbelievable. In this clip from YouTube, Sen. "Slow Joe" Biden (D-Del.) responds to a question from Chris Wallace about how he'll perform in the South Carolina primary, newly come to prominence because of the Democratic primary schedule-shuffling. Biden apparently feels that his state's heritage as a "slave state" is a qualification that will help him compete in South Carolina.

Wow. And this guy thinks he's smart enough to be president? Maybe there was a reason that he resorted to cribbing from other politicians' speeches back when he ran for president in 1988 -- so far, there's scant evidence that there's any benefit to him using his own words.

Blah, blah, blah

Well, perhaps the least capable president of the 20th century has surfaced again. Not content with merely badmouthing his own country in the German press, Jimmy Carter now takes it upon himself to criticize Tony Blair in the British press.

How utterly pathetic and outrageous. Given that the entire Islamofascist menace emerged on President Carter's "watch," one would think he would have at least a modicum of shame about criticizing those who are being forced to come up with ways to clean up the mess he was so instrumental in creating.

But Carter's willingness to excoriate America's allies while pandering to its enemies is nothing new -- it was one of the hallmarks of his spectacularly failed administration.

Free at Last!

Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig have been freed after about two weeks in captivity.

In the linked story, perhpas the scariest detail is this:

"[Centanni] and Wiig were forced at gunpoint to make statements, including that they had converted to Islam. (emphasis added)

Forced conversions. That's a frightening little glimpse into the Islamofascists' goals and mindset, isn't it?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

While There's Still Time

Ronald Reagan once noted, "I don't believe in a fate that will fall upon us no matter what we do; I do believe in a fate that will fall upon us if we do nothing."

The Gipper's words could well apply to this year's congressional elections. Luckily, as Fred Barnes points out, there is some improvement in the Republicans' chances to hold Congress -- but absolutely no room for complacency.

Fred Barnes is entirely correct in urging the Administration to move decisively on Iran. Not only is it the right thing to do from a national security standpoint -- it's necessary to avoid sending the message that the United States, and Bush himself, are so impotent and immobilized in Iraq that Iran can do as it pleases.

Failure to confront Iran won't only embolden Ahmadinjad and his ilk; it will confuse and dismay the American people -- who appreciate Bush, above all, for doing what needs to be done to keep the country safe.

Voice of the Netroots

This piece in Rolling Stone comes across like a primal scream emanating from the lefty netroots. Of course, the author's got a point: Some of the party representatives like Rahm Emmanuel do sound condescending.

But what's entertaining is the lefties' efforts to transform guys like Emmanuel -- pretty down the road liberal -- into DLC devotees. Where the division really comes is between proud leftists (who aren't afraid to proclaim their radical principles loud and clear) and the political liberals (who stand for many of the same things, but know enough to understand they're political suicide if the middle understands that).

As a Republican, just pull up a chair, pop up the corn, and enjoy. The netroots lefties seem to embrace the idea of a Democratic Party schism; why shouldn't we?

Working It Through

Don't look now, but there is some good news coming out of Iraq.

Friday, August 25, 2006

'Bout Time

It's only taken five years, but CNN intends to rerun its coverage of 9/11 to mark the attack's anniversary.

Anyone who isn't sure who we're fighting in Iraq and across the world and why should tune in to receive a refresher course on the kind of destruction that emboldened Islamofascists can wreak.

Any Comment, Dems?

The Democrats' efforts to present themselves as "tough on terror" may be tarnished by the news today, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, that a Democratic congressman took a trip subsidized by a terrorist group.

Any comment, Dems?

Wishful Thinking?

This Washington Post profile of Jay Hein, the new director of The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, includes this most puzzling passage:

In contrast to his sometimes-flamboyant predecessors, Hein is a "very orderly and businesslike person" who is well-suited to run the faith-based effort for the remaining 18 months of the Bush administration,. . . ."

Say what?

Perhaps the wish is father to the thought, but someone at the Post doesn't seem to realize that, actually, the Bush Administration won't head out of town until January 2009 -- and that's 30 months away, not 18.

Sexualizing Little Girls

The New York Times style section has run this piece reflecting on the budding fashionistas in the pre-tween set.

Teaching little tiny girls to ape adult fashion strikes me as a remarkably poor idea -- not because of some critique of capitalist, consumer culture, but because modern fashion is so oriented toward often-vulgar displays of flesh or attitude that are doubly inappropriate when exhibited by little girls. As the piece notes:

To the delight — or consternation — of their elders, the conventional sugar-and-spice girls’ style formula is laced these days with sass, the clothes not so much sexy as candidly provocative in their mimicry of grown-up fare.

Who, exactly, is "delighted" at the prospect of little girls prancing around in "sassy" clothes? And are they the kind of people one would really want around her children?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Birth-Giving Age Limit?

This little blurb asks if there should be any ethical guidelines about age limits for female childbearing, given the increasing numbers of 60-somethings able to carry a child thanks to IVF.

Obviously, God or nature seems to have had an opinion, as women can't naturally conceive after menopause (these women are being impregnated with embryos created from donor eggs). Women of a certain age not only face more health complications themselves; the children they're carrying are likewise at greater risk.

It strikes me as one of those quasi-Solomonic issues. Is a woman who's willing to put her own desire to carry or have a child before the child's own well-being (given the enhanced likelihood not only of birth defects but also that the mother herself will not live until the child reaches maturity) really fit to be a mother?

The Pride of Princeton

This email from an army commander to the family of his troops is a must-read -- it exemplifies not only the quality of the men leading our troops, but the quality of our American troops.

When Hugh Hewitt read it on his radio program yesterday, the name of the commander sounded like an acquaintance from college -- I had a freshman year roomate in ROTC, and thus knew some of the other ROTC participants. Sure enough, it seems that Battalion Commander Chris Cavoli is, in fact, Princeton '87. I remember him as a strong, wiry, dark-haired, no-nonsense type of guy who was, even at the time, clearly destined for a career in the US Army. I am proud to have known him, proud to share an alma mater with him.

Please say a prayer for Commander Chris Cavoli and for all the men and women serving so valiantly in the cause of freedom.

Wal-Mart Bashers: Either Dishonest or Dumb

Democrats' Wal-Mart bashing has been criticized repeatedly on this site. In fact, it makes no sense unless Democrats are either (1) acting as union shills or (2) economically illiterate.

As this piece in Investors' Business Daily points out:

After looking at 25 small towns in different states where Wal-Mart opened stores in 2002, economists Richard Vedder of Ohio University and researcher Bryan O'Keefe of the American Enterprise Institute concluded that employment growth was stronger in Wal-Mart communities than in others.

In a separate study, economist Emek Basker of the University of Missouri found that, on average, a new Wal-Mart kills 50 local retailing jobs, but creates 100 others — a net gain of 50. And, contrary to Democrats' claims, local wages don't decline.

Labor Department data show that labor productivity for "big-box" discount stores like Wal-Mart rose at a sizzling 7.6% pace from 1987 to 2004. And according to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity gains at Wal-Mart alone accounted for an amazing 13% of all productivity gains in the U.S. from 1995 to 1999 — smack in the middle of the so-called Internet boom.

A study by economic consultant Global Insight found that, from 1985 to 2004, Wal-Mart slashed food-at-home prices by 9.1%, goods prices by 4.2% and overall consumer prices by 3.1%. If those cuts don't sound huge, consider that, all told, they saved mostly poor and middle-class consumers $263 billion — or $895 per person and $2,329 per household.

So, Wal-Mart bashers, which is it? Are you dishonest -- or just dumb?

Protecting America

According to James Pinkerton, that's the theme running both through popular support for programs like the NSA wiretapping and opposition to illegal immigration.

On the latter, he wrote:

Washington Post reporter Jonathan Weisman recently traveled to Arizona and found voters aflame with border-control enthusiasm; as the Postie put it: "Opposition to a porous border may be to November 2006 what opposition to gay marriage was to November 2004."

Of course, some people were trying to convey this message back in February of 2005:

If Republicans are planning on long-term national success, it is time to stop ignoring the illegal-immigration debacle, and condescending to those who object to it. Many western Republicans will resist any immigration "reform" unless they are assured that a commitment to strict enforcement of existing immigration laws will accompany it. And a disturbing number of them appear to be ready to become single-issue voters on the immigration topic alone.

The fury is real, and it is not transient. It's a sentiment that national Republicans will ignore at their peril.

Steyn Behind the EIB Mike

Mark Steyn -- one of the most brilliant writers working today -- has long been a weekly guest on Hugh Hewitt's radio show.

Today, according to, he's going to be sitting in for Rush Limbaugh.

A Career Woman Responds

Forbes has reposted the column I referenced here, but only with a "career woman" responding. Note her defensive tone -- and her absolute inability to concede, even in theory, that there may be something to what her male counterpart is saying.

Whether or not one agrees with Noer’s points (and contrary to his female counterpart, he actually does rely on something other than his own opinions and warmed-over feminist jargon), Elizabeth Corcoran’s response is disappointing -- so laced with defensiveness and self-righteous grievance that it suggests that, in her heart of hearts, she may suspect that Noer has a point. Certainly women are entitled to have careers if they want them, but they do their own credibility and that of their cause great harm when they simply refuse to concede that there can be certain downsides (particularly for children) for two career families. Surely "career women" like Corcoran can’t get away with simply ignoring facts in the workplace, can they?

Ultimately, the point is that "career women" shouldn’t marry -- and shouldn’t want to marry -- men who, like Noer, don’t want to marry a "career woman." But they should be secure enough in their choices to restrain themselves from throwing a fit and taking to their fainting couches when a man criticizes them. After all, he’s entitled to voice the opinions that shape his life choices, just as they are -- even if he chooses to do so with a certain lack of gallantry.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why Do They Hate Us?

Frankly, I can sleep very well at night, notwithstanding the fact that the US isn't universally beloved even among our erstwhile "allies" like France. Nobody kicks a dead dog, you know -- being universally liked is usually a sign that one is dead, either literally or figuratively.

Even so, Michael Medved offers some valuable insights about why America elicits so much hostility from other quarters.

After you read it, check out one of my favorite pieces -- that explains why all Americans should love their country.

Good News for the GOP

A new Gallup poll places Democrats only two points ahead of Republicans on a generic ballot. And, mind you, that's in just a poll of registered voters -- not likely ones.

Lighten up, Frances!

Forbes ran an article titled "Don't Marry Career Women" -- suspiciously, all that's left of it on the internet is this, suggesting that it elicited howls of outrage from quarters near and far.

Please. Are women really going to get upset over this? Marry a career woman, don't marry a career woman. Here's the thing: What woman would want to marry a man who's taking his marriage advice from Forbest magazine? And what intelligent, interesting woman would want to marry a man who doesn't want to marry an intelligent, interesting woman, whether or not she has a career? Look at it as a jerk-detection alert, and lighten up.

What's more, have women become so insecure about what a career means for a marriage that they can't handle a piece like this with good grace? Rather than discrediting the story, wouldn't an over-the-top reaction suggest that somewhere deep inside, a lot of women suspect that there's perhaps a teensy weensy bit of truth to the advice?

A Big Mac-stake

Michelle Malkin points out the profound stupidity of a group of MAC makeup executives who apparently think that insulting conservative women is an intelligent way to sell lip gloss.

It's stupid on more than one level, of course -- I'm willing to bet that Republican women are more likely to buy lip gloss (and makeup of all kinds) than the Democrats.

Sign of the Apocalypse?

In one of the saddest little tidbits I've ever heard, there's a blog at Jane Magazine devoted to a 29 year old girl named Sarah. What's so sad? Does she have cancer? A loved one killed in Iraq? A lifelong disability?

No. She's a virgin. At 29!!! How terrible. And so you, I and everyone else we know are supposed to be rooting for Sarah to have sex by the time she turns 30 in November, because otherwise . . . [shudder] . . . she will be a 30 year old virgin!!!

Is this really what sexual mores have come to in America? Where it's not only stigmatizing not to have slept around -- but it's perfectly okay to discuss this apparently-tragic fact not only with everyone you know, but also everybody you don't? Talk about sad . . . How does "Sarah" think she's going to feel about all this when she someday has a 13 year old daughter, and she wants to encourage that little girl to respect herself and her body?

The Whining Voice of Cut 'n Run

Boston Globe columnist Joan Venocchi pretty much channels the voice of every cut 'n run liberal in America today. We need to leave Iraq. President Bush has made mistakes. Things are tough in the Middle East. Whine, whine, whine.

Like a bride-to-be whose fantasy of marriage extends no farther than the dress, the cake and the party on her wedding day, cut 'n runners like Venocchi seem remarkably unwilling to answer the questions of what's going to happen in Iraq once American soldiers leave. Is it in America's interests to have the region dominated by Iran? For Iraq to become a haven for terrorists, a la the old Afghanistan? Is it right for America, having asked for the Iraqi people's courage and commitment, to leave brave, purple-fingered people to fend for themselves in a country abandoned to the blood thirsty remnants of Saddam's regime? Would doing so enhance or destroy America's image in "the world" (a preoccupation of the liberals)?

Venocchi's trick of quoting General Abizaid's assertion that "it is possible" that Iraq could descend into civil war is dishonest in the extreme. It's an old lawyer's trick to ask if something "is possible" when a hostile witness is on the stand -- after all, it's also "possible" that Iraq could quickly transform into a healthy, flourishing democracy.

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt interviewed General Abizaid on his radio show. The General is optimistic about our chances of stabilizing Iraq, and very, very clear about the frighteningly negative consequences of failing to do so.

It's an interview Joan Venocchi -- and others like her -- would be well-advised to read.

Completely Out of Order

Update: Not surprisingly, one of the members of McCain's most devoted constituency -- the MSM -- finds a McCain adviser to insist that the remark is McCain simply "telling it like it is."


Shame on John McCain. He's arguing that the President led the American people to believe the Iraq war would be a "day at the beach."

Really? When?

In his address to Congress on September 19, 2001?

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, when he warned of the possibility of terrorist attacks?

Should enemies strike our country, they would be attempting to shift our attention with panic and weaken our morale with fear. In this, they would fail. No act of theirs can alter the course or shake the resolve of this country. We are a peaceful people -- yet we're not a fragile people, and we will not be intimidated by thugs and killers. If our enemies dare to strike us, they and all who have aided them, will face fearful consequences.

In November of 2003, when he admitted that

Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. . . . This is a massive and a difficult underaking.

On May 24, 2004?

As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal. There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic.

On Veterans Day 2005?

The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. . .

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead . . .

As the piece linked at the top of this entry points out, John McCain is attempting to engage in a little foreign policy triangulation. But he needs to recognize that, by doing so, he's deliberately and wilfully playing on the dishonest meme that "Bush lied" -- all for his own political benefit.

Whatever Republicans' many frustrations with George W. Bush, McCain had better recognize that they won't appreciate his attempts to make common cause with liberals by trashing the President. He'd better realize that he still has some Republican primaries to worry about before adopting a general election strategy -- and that this type of strategy isn't going to do much to lower his relatively high negatives among the party faithful.

And unless he can unearth some of his own quotes from pre-March '03 to warn that Iraq was going to be infinitely more difficult than anyone was predicting, he'd best tone down the sanctimonious finger-pointing.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Let's Gamble!

If this piece from the Teheran Times is true, than Hans Blix is living in a dream world. He thinks we should simply "talk" to Iran, is sympathetic to Iran's refusal to stop enriching uranium, and believes it's a mistake for the US and Britain not to promise not to use force to prevent Iran from making a nuclear weapon. The issue, Blix believes, is simply about Iran being "taken 'seriously'".

But hey, don't worry -- Blix is pretty certain that Iran isn't currently developing a bomb. And if he's right, all is well. If he's not, well, good-bye, Israel. Why not take a chance?! Live a little (or not!) . . .

And the Democrats really think that we should be trusting people like this at the UN?

Another Steele Must-Read

Don't miss Shelby Steele's brilliant commentary on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Here's just a snippet:

White guilt in the West -- especially in Europe and on the American left -- confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness. But Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism -- not their continuance -- forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.

That resentment parallels and reflects the age-old, unreasoning hatred that is anti-Semitism.

Always on His Mind

So it seems that Willie Nelson is a fan of Missouri's Democrat for US Senate, Claire McCaskill. In fact, Jamie Allman reported this morning that Nelson may endorse McCaskill from the concert stage tonight in St. Louis.

It's somewhat laughable to think that a Nelson endorsement would have any impact, especially on country music fans; given Nelson's history of tax evasion and drug possession, it's worth wondering why this is an association the McCaskill campaign is, apparently, welcoming.

Right On!

The Anchoress refuses to be pressured into retracting her support for Rudy Giuliani -- and as something of a Rudy supporter myself, I applaud her. I like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, too, but like the Anchoress, I admire Rudy's guts and think he would get the biggest thing -- the war on terror -- absolutely right. These days, those supporting Rudy sometimes hear from conservative pals that they're being untrue to the movement's principles, etc., etc.

But let's just see how things play out and acknowledge that we're all trying to figure out which candidate would be best as the Republican nominee -- and, above all, best as President.

Can We Just Keep "Sexy" Out of It?

I'm not sure what the point is of this piece, except to poke a little snide fun at Hillary Clinton.

Not that that's an unworthy goal -- I do it from time to time myself. But it's the way this piece does it that's unfortunate; it basically mocks the concept of Hillary's "sex appeal" with little asides like "Now try to imagine Hillary Clinton even putting on a bikini, more or less wearing it to any place where she might conceivably be photographed."

These sort of cheap chortles are unworthy of the conservative movement. There's plenty to say about Hillary Clinton's policy and character, but shouldn't her thighs be off limits? As the author himself concedes, she's done all she can over the years not to bring the issue of sexiness into play, and doing it anyway makes people on our side sound cruel, petty and, frankly, more than a little sexist. If people were making these sorts of comments about Margaret Thatcher I'd be appalled; why is it OK just because it's Hillary Clinton?

When Hillary starts wearing jogging shorts like her husband used to, then bring it on. Until then, is it really necessary to sort through all the "sex appeal" issues just because she's a woman?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Real Political Bullying

According to Robert Kuttner, Wal-Mart isn't the problem; it's only the symptom of the problem (which he defines as the disappearing middle class dream).

Frankly, it strikes me that the way people like Kuttner treat Wal Mart is actually the problem. Last I checked, it's a legal, legitimate American business -- which, incidentally, caters to those living paycheck to paycheck (and who have more buying power because of its prices than they otherwise would). Because Wal Mart refuses to unionize, it's subjected (as Kuttner points out) to special, onerous regulations in Chicago and Maryland, among other places.

It's not clear to me exactly when it became okay for politicians to single out law-abiding, job-producing retailers for special regulations just for political reasons -- because actually, it seems like a grave misuse of the bully pulpit, and a real example of the type of official intimidation and bullying that many Democrats seem to feel so acutely, at least when it's directed against potential terrorists.

If politicians want to argue that Wal-Mart is breaking the law, let them make that case. If they want to argue that there should be certain laws applied to retailers, let them do so. But it's wrong to single out an otherwise law-abiding company for political vituperation -- even setting aside the fact that Democrats can hardly pretend to be friends of the "working man" when they push policies that would result in that constituency having to pay higher prices.

Welcome to the Jungle

Finally, finally, our German friends may be beginning to suspect that Islamofascist fanatics can't simply be bought off by cowardice and self-abasement:

“People thought for the longest time that Germany would be safe because we didn’t send troops to Iraq,” said Johannes Schmalz, the president of the agency for the protection of the constitution — a rough equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation — in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg.

“This presumption is wrong,” he said. “The enemy of violent Islamists is the Western world as a whole.”

At least one of 'em gets it.

The Lie Detectors

This piece in Time magazine notes the plethora of new gadgets that could be used to flag potential terrorists in airports -- and points out that much of the technology may not be 100% reliable.

Well, so what? Something is better than nothing, isn't it?

It's irritating but predictable that "civil liberties" groups -- which appear more interested in ensuring the rights of terrorists than protecting the lives of innocent Americans -- are once again kicking up a fuss. One could understand if these machines were being used to deprive people of their life, liberty or property. But all we're talking about here is using them to decide who should be screened more carefully. And it's hardly a crisis of constitutional magnitude to be pulled aside for a few questions or a careful and respectful search.

Just last Friday, I was pulled aside and my bag was searched by a security guard in St. Louis. Why? Did I look suspicious, did something seem strange on the x-ray machine, or was I just the next random number? Who knows? But I was willing to be searched; that's simply the price of air travel these days, and it's worth it to figure that (hopefully) other, less innocent people than I may face similar scrutiny.

If there were some even partly reliable basis for deciding whom to flag, it's all for the best, and certainly much better than depending on an untrained worker's suspicion or random method of picking passengers out of a crowd. Those who resent the searches can simply drive or travel by train (for now) -- air travel is, after all, a privilege and not a right.

An Iraqi's Plea

There's something that's more than a little sad about the fact that Iraq's ambassador to the United States effectively has to beg the cut-and-run contingent to continue supporting democracy in Iraq, as he does today on the op/ed page of The Washington Post. I wish that one of the Schumers, Hagels or Lamonts would take a moment to respond to an appeal like this one -- let them tell an Iraqi patriot that they've decided that Iraq is either incapable or unworthy of a functioning democracy.

What's likewise noteworthy is that the Iraqi ambassador understands the stakes for the United States better than many liberal American politicians:

There would also be the psychological impact of the perceived defeat for America. That would encourage all the enemies of the United States -- and they are many -- to be bolder and readier to challenge its interests everywhere. A new super-radical, geographically contiguous bloc would be born: Iran, Syria and a radicalized, totalitarian, fragmented Iraq.

Too bad such a grasp of the obvious is in short supply on the left side of the aisle.


As this piece in US News & World Report points out, Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill is working hard to give Senator Jim Talent a tough race for reelection.

She's pretty much a typical liberal, although she's trying hard to conceal that fact, given that it doesn't play all that well in the Show-Me State. In this interview with lefty website My, she sounds like a lefty from start to finish, and even hails the existence of the lefty netroots as a great thing for America.

Amazingly, the press has allowed her to get away with portraying herself as "just one of the folks" despite the fact that she's from a family which, unlike Talent's, could afford to have her spend $1.6 million of family money on her unsuccessful 2004 race for governor. (It's hard to believe we wouldn't have heard more about it if she were a Republican, isn't it?)

It will be interesting to see if Missouri -- which is often a bellwether state -- really believes that Claire McCaskill has what it takes to serve as Missouri's first female senator elected in her own right. It's not yet clear to me that she has what it takes to create a real comfort level with her candidacy in rural Missouri, especially given her social views and her cut-and-run approach to Iraq.

But as the US News piece notes, she's working hard to link Senator Talent to George W. Bush. Well, turn and turn about's fair play -- and if Senator Talent is George Bush's twin, she's Ned Lamont's . . . in more ways than one.

On Bolton & the U.N.

Martin Peretz is a partisan Democrat who is, first and foremost, a patriot and an honest man. He sees the opposition to John Bolton's nomination as UN ambassador for what it is:

Now, Bolton has made an issue of the Oil-for-Food scandal, management reform, membership in ancillary agencies (for example, whether notorious human rights-abusing states--like China and Cuba--should be elected to the new U.N. Human Rights Council; they were), and other matters like corruption, the sexually abusive behavior of U.N. peacekeepers, et cetera. It is not that he hasn't accepted compromises. He has. But the American U.N. lobby (there is one) is content, even eager, to leave the bloated, corrupt, and often unethical norms of the organization be. It certainly doesn't want a searchlight focused on them. This lobby is very hostile to Bolton's confirmation.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Oxymoron: Liberal Strategy

Has the cut-and-run contingent figured this out yet? Iran is trying to destabilize Iraq, as those quoted in the linked piece point out. Yet American liberals are only too eager to give President Ahmadinejad a victory by removing our troops, thereby leaving the Iraqis helpless in the face of Iranian manipulation.

Figure that one out -- and decide if those are the kind of global strategists who can be depended on to keep us all safe.

California Screamin'

Jill Stewart provides the ugly details about the intrusive, abusive, unecessary, and ridiculous legislation that California politicians try to foist on unsuspecting citizens every year.

The Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves.

A Failure of Will

With his customary brilliance, Mark Steyn notes the diminution of confidence and will in the Bush Administration and the country generally -- something resembling a hangdog attitude that almost begs our adversaries in the Middle East to test our resolve in myriad ways.

As long as we lack the will to use our power -- and they know it -- things will only get worse, not better. There's a lot of blame to go around when it comes to who's sapped the collective political will: Opportunistic Democrats, who care more about regaining power than securing the country; some cowardly Republicans, who wilt like scared bunnies when the going gets tough; and the Administration itself, which seemingly cherishes the notion that "diplomacy," sweet talk from Secretary Rice, and the corrupt bureaucrats at the U.N. will combine somehow to achieve positive results -- an optimism that defies all logic and experience.

But the major point is that our adversaries don't really understand the iron fist in the velvet glove -- or, at least, not the velvet glove part of the equation. They respect a "strong horse"; sadly, right now, the U.S. is acting like an old steed that's been rode hard and put away wet.

"Renouncing" the President?

Today, the Washington Post runs what feels like a slightly hopeful piece headlined, "Pundits renounce the President."

As something of a conservative "pundit," it's new and exciting to me that the opinion of some of my more celebrated colleagues would merit such respect. Of course, predictably, it's those who are questioning the success of the Administration's efforts in Iraq who are receiving the attention.

Much has been made of Joe Scarborough's show questioning the President's intelligence. Of course, the easy response is to note that those who live in glass houses themselves had best not throw stones -- given that few have had occasion to extol Scarborough's own dazzling intellect. Putting all that aside, however, what's really going on is that Scarborough is trying to prove that he's a bona fide, fully "objective" member of the MSM. The clips he ran, highlighting the President's inarticulateness, do nothing to adduce evidence for (or against) the President's lack of intellect; glibness is just one type of intelligence, not the distinguishing feature between those who are smart and those who aren't.

As for the other pundits who disagree with the President, it's predictable that when times get tough, dissent grows louder. The problem, however, is that few of them have a decent answer for how to address the issues in Iraq. Withdrawal isn't the answer; an American failure would open the way both for an infusion of anti-American confidence among our enemies in the Middle East, allow Iraq to be turned into a new springboard for terrorism, and enhance Iranian influence throughout the region.

So it's easy to second guess, take potshots and dump on those who are trying to get something done, but until another viable strategy is presented, it makes no sense to change course, despite the difficulties. After all, it's no longer a question of whether the war itself was a good idea; it's a matter of whether America can afford to be defeated.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Privatization -- Government Style

So the federal government finally decides to turn to the private sector -- because even its employees are beginning to acknowledge that private companies can work more cheaply and efficiently than the government.

Of course, the government isn't that worried about providing services to its constituents more cheaply and effectively; it's worried about getting its "fair share" of taxpayer money. That's why it's IRS debt collection that's being outsourced.

Talk about hypocrisy. We're supposed to be content with government serving us -- but when government wants it done right, it goes private.

Note: Not surprisingly, it seems that The New York Times has uncritically accepted the assertions that the outsourcing will cost more money -- but that assertion is at odds with other information. What a shock: Government (unions) don't like having their "work" given instead to the private sector. There's always a reason, at least in their minds, why it's a "bad idea," isn't there?

Replacing Ballots With Laws

Bradley Smith points out that many state election laws seem to have less to do with protecting citizens' rights to free and fair elections than they do with reducing voter choice and power.

The best example of this phenomenon -- which Smith doesn't mention -- is, of course, campaign finance reform. Can anyone really imagine that the Founding Fathers would have condoned a law that prevents citizens from spending money to criticize their elected officials for sixty days before an election (which, conveniently for the politicians, is the time that most normal people tend to be paying attention)?

Obviously, campaign finance reform and other election laws often are doing more to protect the interests of the political class than those for whom they're supposed to be working: The voters. Funny -- the political establishment is the one "special interest" that campaign reform proponent John McCain doesn't seem to oppose.

Time for New Tools

John Yoo argues that it's time to deploy data mining techniques in the war against Islamofascist terrorism.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Another Travel Day

After a fabulous couple of days in St. Louis with my parents and on air with radio maestro Jamie Allman, I'll be flying back to California this afternoon -- which means that blogging will be light.

Democrat Strategery

Even as Joe Lieberman opens up a substantial lead over Ned Lamont, Democrats consider stripping him of his seniority if he wins -- perhaps as the price of dissent from their anti-war orthodoxy?

Imagine if Republicans tried to treat their dissenters that way. Can you imagine the MSM outrage if conservatives tried to chasten the media's beloved "mavericks" in a similar fashion?

Requiem for a War

Here's a painfully honest appraisal of what went wrong and why in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Behind the Scenes

Looks like the U.S. successfully blocked Iran's efforts to ship sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah during the recent conflict.

Bright 'n Early Again!

Only having the chance to guest co-host on St. Louis' premier morning show with city icon Jamie Allman could make me so cheerful about being up so early!

Equal Doesn't Mean "The Same"

Who woulda' thought it -- men and women are different! And as the linked piece shows, a majority of men still believe it's their obligation to protect women.

That's good -- it's one of the signs of a civilized society, in fact. It's one reason that it always seems so profoundly misguided for the feminists to insist that women be allowed into combat. Not only does it make no practical sense (after all, who wants to gamble that a particular woman will be strong enough to haul your wounded husband, brothers and friends off the battlefield instead of a man who could easily do it?), but the idea is also theoretically flawed.

The impulse to protect women is one of the nobles of a manly nature. Why would we attempt to "depgrogram" a sense of duty that is key in building civilized societies, and which encourages men to wield their superior physical strength on behalf of women, instead of against them?

A Healthy Effect

As John Podhoretz points out,there is good that may come even from the unconscionable (and legally indecipherable) decision of a Detroit judge that the NSA wiretapping program is unconstitutional.

Certainly, the Democrats' reaction to it will be instructive. Do they agree that having the capacity to eavesdrop on people who are in contact with known terrorists outside US borders is a misuse of power? Or is it, as the judge argued (it's too kind to call this legal mish-mash a decision), a violation of the First and Fourth Amendments? (As Patterico has noted, this Carter-appointed judge is willing to bend the rules in order to get the opportunity to rule on important and/or controversial cases -- just one more part of the glorious Carter legacy).

Let's hear what the Dems have to say -- and how they plan to protect us should they take one of the branches of Congress. After all, as Daniel Henninger points out, at the moment, it seems that the Democrats are stuck in a 9/10/01 mode, seeking reactive rather than proactive measures for fighting terror.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Good Guys in Hollywood

Thanks, ACLU

The ACLU is trying with all its might to stop programs that help to prevent threats like the British airlines confronted last week, and it's won at least a temporary victory thanks to a federal district judge in Detroit.

See here and here and here for analysis from when this case broke -- and note that the judge has apparently ignored the precedents with which she disagrees politically.

The ACLU had better savor its victory now, because it's far from clear that this ruling will stand when more sober, seasoned jurists have heard the case.

As always, Investors Business Daily hits the nail on the head.

An Interesting Perspective on "Life"

Here's a piece from a grown up baby who was almost aborted.

It's funny -- when you read "expert" sites advising young people that abortion is "safe," -- well, they're obviously talking about only one of the lives involved.

Assailed by Reality

Looks like public opinion in Britain has been moved substantially by the thwarted airline attacks.

Guess that's what happens when people are mugged by reality.

Deluded or Just Dumb?

With respect, Jimmy Carter is one of the most misguided people ever to hold the office of President. Most recent evidence is here.

Bright & Early

At 6:00 am central time (yes, that's 4:00 am pacific!), I'll be guest co-hosting the fabulous Allman & Smash in the Morning show from St. Louis. Listen here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ahmadinejad's Amen Corner

After Iranian President Ahmadinejad's interview with Mike Wallace, it was noted on this blog that "the criticisms he launched dovetailed neatly with those that have been thrown around by the Democrats." Investors' Business Daily has noticed the same phenomenon.

No Government Price Controls

The incomparable Sally Pipes of The Pacific Research Institute explains why Arnold Schwarzenegger's idea to impose state government price controls on drug companies is an extremely bad idea.

Winners & Losers

This piece makes a very convincing case that the only winners in the recent Israel-Hezbollah conflict were, first, the Iranians, and secondarily, the "moderate" diplomats in the State Department.

Strikes me that when it can be truthfully said that anyone in the US government has interests, political or otherwise, in common with Iran, there's a problem: Not just with the Iranians (we already knew that), but also with the diplomats.

The Double Standard

How come when the Clinton White House does it, it's merely efficent "rapid response," but when the Bush White House does it, it's trying to intimidate reporters into "self-censorship"?

The Liberal Response to Terror

Ruben Navarette argues that America is in an "intolerant mood" because people are reconsidering the wisdom of engaging in some degree of racial profiling.

To Navarette's way of thinking, the open acknowledgement that Muslims are, indeed, more likely to engage in Islamofascist terrorism than, say, Jews is the thought that dare not speak its name.

How silly. If short, blue-eyed thirtysomething Christians were the demographic most likely to blow up an airplane, I'd be willing to submit to extra scrutiny -- and rather than objecting to the fact that not everyone is being subjected to the same inconvenience, my wrath would be directed at my co-religionists who were the source of the problem, rather than those who are trying to find efficient ways to respond to it.

"Equal protection of the laws" doesn't mean that everyone must be treated alike by the U.S. government at all times (as is obvious from the distinctions made in the conferral of government benefits). It simply means that the government can't decide to enforce the law against some, but not against others, simply because of who they (or their victims) are.

Trying to find the most intelligent ways to identify and stop those who are the source of terrorism obviously makes more sense than treating every American like a potential terrorist. But people like Navarette are willing to have everyone treated like a terrorist to prevent any obvious, but politically incorrect, distinctions being recognized based on gender, ethnicity or religion.

An MSM Rule of Thumb

As Niall Stanage points out, the only operative MSM rule when it comes to leaks is the following: If they damage the Bush Administration, they're good; if they help it, they're bad.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

DSCC: Illegals = Terrorists

Under the leadership of Senator Chuck Schuymer, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has made a habit of playing dirty, as Maryland's Republican US Senate candidate, Michael Steele, knows better than most people.

Schumer's newest gambit is an ad that equates illegal immigrants with terrorists. Just imagine the uproar if Republicans had produced it.

The fact is that the borders need to be secure for national security reasons; if they're not, we won't know when real terrorists cross. Where Schumer behaves so despicably is in conflating terrorists with other illegals -- who are lawbreakers, no doubt about it, but hardly in the league of Osama bin Laden.

Santorum Closing the Gap

According to this piece, Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is closing the gap with Democratic challenger Bob Casey. This may come as a shock to the liberals who have been gloating at the prospect of taking out one of the Senate's most outspoken conservatives, but it's worth noting that Rick Santorum has never gone into any of his races ahead in the polls, but has nonetheless gone on to win. Once again, could it be that the liberals' triumphalism has been a bit premature?

And the Point Is . . . ?

It's not clear what the point is to this piece by Jeff Greenfield. He's arguing in effect that Republicans may not win political support based on the war on terror during this election season because . . . what? Chuck Hagel doesn't agree with Iraq policy?

Greenfield is one of the most experienced political analysts working -- that's why it's surprising that he'd make this kind of basic mistake. The question isn't whether people are 100% thrilled with Iraq, President Bush and his conduct in the war on terror; the question is whether anyone seriously believes the Democrats are going to offer something better.

This evening, on "The O'Reilly Factor," Dennis Kucinich put forth his plan for conducting the war. It was the same old same-old: Withdraw from Iraq, talk to other countries, make friends with our allies and one other banal suggestion that it's imposssible to recall, because we've heard them all before. And what, exactly, do the Democrats think such a "plan" would accomplish? We embolden the terrorists, offer Iran a way to extend its sphere of influence, and signal to the world that the U.S. isn't really serious about trying to combat people who'd like nothing more than to hack off our heads with butter knives.

Democrats like Kucinich, Lamont and the dynamic duo of Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean have no plan but abject surrender. Americans don't work that way, and whatever their criticisms about specific issues surrounding the war, they certainly don't want to abandon it -- and us -- to our enemies.

Travel Day

Posting will be light until later today, as I am traveling to St. Louis to co-host a fabulous drive time radio show later this week.

Why Iran Can't Have Nukes

Look at this: An Iranian hard-line cleric warned Israel on Tuesday that Iran's long-range missiles will land in Tel Aviv if the Jewish state attacks Iran.

Sounds clear enough for now -- but once Iran has the capacity to destroy Israel with a nuke, how long will it be until another "hard-line cleric" interprets the very fact of Israel's existence as an "attack" on Iran?

In the meantime, as Bernard Goldberg points out, Iran's president sounds pretty much like an American liberal.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The "Natural Law" Trap

There's another important aspect of Heather McDonald's piece in The American Conservative that merits discussion. In it, McDonald writes:

Nonbelievers look elsewhere for a sense of order, valuing the rule of law for its transparency to all rational minds and debating Supreme Court decisions without reverting to mystical precepts or “natural law.” It is perfectly possible to revere the Founding Fathers and their monumental accomplishment without celebrating, say, “Washington’s God.” Skeptical conservatives even believe themselves to be good citizens, a possibility denied by Richard John Neuhaus in a 1991 article.

In doing so, she falls into the common trap of misunderstanding what natural law actually is -- and, like liberals, seems to think it's nothing more than some backwoods, bucktoothed species of creationism, political/judicial style. (This may be why Ramesh Ponnuru expresses some skepticism about her definition of natural law.)

The skepticism is justified because McDonald misunderstands what's commonly meant by "natural law." Certainly, one can be a religious believer as well as a proponent of natural law, but one needn't be the former in order to lay claim to the latter. At its core, natural law simply states that by man's very nature (and whether he was divinely created or evolved from monkeys is perfectly irrelevant), he's born equal to all other men insofar as he enjoys the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Whether he has those rights because God gave them to him (along with free will), or simply by virtue of his humanity and his capacity for rational and self-conscious thought (however it came about) is -- again -- irrelevant. And although the fact that the Founding Fathers recognized the existence of this humanity and the rights flowing ineluctably therefrom can cetainly be attributed to the workings of the Almighty, it needn't necessarily be.

In a sense, the distinction between natural law theory and legal positivism can most easily be summed up as follows: Natural law theory would argue that murder is against the law because it is wrong; legal positivism would say that murder is wrong because it's illegal (i.e. because the law proscribes it).

Ultimately, however, what's worth noting is that simply because natural law theory is compatible with religious belief, that doesn't mean that it's dependent on it, or that it's a "mystical precept."

Fox Newsman Kidnapped

Steven Centanni, and a cameraman from the Fox News Channel have been kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen. Say a prayer for their safe and speedy release.

Gay Marriage and Agnostic Conservatives

Over at Real Clear Politics, Ryan Sager comments on this piece by Heather McDonald, in which Ms. McDonald notes that many conservative skeptics and agnostics oppose gay marriage.

To that, Sager observes: "I'm not sure where opposition to gay marriage fits in as an intrinsic part of non-religion-based conservatism."

Here's how -- at least in my view. What the government is supposed to be doing is securing the life, liberty and property of its people. That includes ensuring the safety and well-being of children (and if you don't agree with that, take it up with the welfare/divorce establishment, which is based on that understanding).

On the whole (though, as with everything else, not always), the best conditions for ensuyring the "rights"/well-being of children is when they are cared for by their married mother and father. The government therefore has an interest in promoting that arrangement, or at least a basis for preferring it. And that's the reason that government policy should limit marriage to a man and a woman.

Certainly, there are compelling arguments for removing unfair legal disabilities that attend gay relationships (hospital visitation rules and the like). But if you'll notice, most gays believe that for there to be true "equality," they are entitled to the word "marriage" as well as to its legal incidents. And that's where they lose many conservatives -- believers and non-believers alike.

A Moment of Truth

President Bush's former speechwriter, Mike Gerson, has provided to Newsweek a must-read piece explaining why this isn't the time for "Lamontism" -- "the elevation of flinching to a foreign policy."

The Left Exposed

Here, Michael Barone points out how the terrorist threat of late last week smokes out the fecklessness and foolishness of the left:

Our Left criticized George W. Bush when The New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was surveilling telephone calls from al-Qaida suspects overseas to the United States. Now it appears that the United States surveilled the British terrorists, and that they made phone calls to the United States. The Left cried foul when The New York Times revealed that the United States was monitoring money transfers at the SWIFT bank clearinghouse in Brussels. Now it appears that there was monitoring of money transfers by the British terrorists in Pakistan.

Would you trust the left to be in charge of any branch of American government? Talk about an arrangement the American people might not be able to "live" with . . .

David Rivkin and Lee Casey have more on the importance of effective intelligence gathering.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Crazy, But Not Clueless

Mike Wallace's "60 Minutes" with Iran's President Ahmadinejad showed that Ahmadinejad may be crazy, but he isn't clueless. Some have criticized the news show for running the interview, but it did show the kind of clever/crazy approach of a man who's building nuclear weapons.

Unable to be reasoned with, sure -- Ahmadinejad actually thinks that the UN is serving US interests, not to mention that Israel is the aggressor in the war with Hezbollah. But he's not stupid. One of the facts that he cited as support for his own views of President Bush was the President's low approval ratings, and it was noteworthy that the criticisms he launched dovetailed neatly with those that have been thrown around by the Democrats (the President's policies are wrong because they're unpopular in "the world", for example). Obviously, he's paying close attention to what's said and done over here . . . something everyone in both parties should take carefully into account.

The problem isn't that Democrats have exercised a right to dissent -- that's a right that all of us, as Americans, cherish for ourselves and each other. The problem is that they've done it in such a vituperative manner that it's leading the Iranian leader to miscalculate, and emboldening him to ever more impudent and defiant behavior toward the President and the country. That poses obvious dangers for us all.

If the Democrats want to call Bush an idiot, that's their right. But they need to clarify that in the final analysis, we are all Americans. And even if they're convinced with every fiber of their beings that the President is an idiot, they need to make it clear to everyone else in the world that he's our idiot, and we're not going to tolerate arrogant anti-semitic totalitarian demagogues insulting him and attempting to bully the United States of America.

To Name It Is To Know It

As this astute British op/ed points out, President Bush has begun referring to Islamic fascism we're fighting as "Islamic fascism" -- and all the usual suspects are lining up to condemn him for doing so, arguing that it constitutes "name calling."

Well, I'm against "name calling" but I'm in favor of calling things by their names -- and what we're battling isn't "terror." "Terror" is an internal emotion akin to a sharper, more sudden fear. "Terror" isn't trying to blow up airplanes, and "terror" isn't who we're fighting. We are fighting men (and perhaps women) who are in the grip of Islamic fascism.

And rather than suggesting that the stigma of terrorist behavior is shared by all Muslims (as the term "fascistic Muslims" might), "Islamic fascism" emphasizes that what we're seeing isn't so much a religion as merely the newest form of what President Bush once called "the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century," who, "by sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power . . . follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism."

In other words, the religion isn't the issue: It's the same old ugly totalitarian impulse, with radical Islam as its newest guise.

What's Really Shocking

So Ned Lamont is shocked at the harshness of the "attacks" against him. I guess that's what happens when one runs for the Senate with prior political experience limited to service in Greenwich local government. No doubt there are going to be a lot of surprises coming Ned Lamont's way, now that he's in the big time.

Both Lamont and Teddy Kennedy are upset that Vice president Cheney observed that terrorists could be encouraged by Lamont's primary victory. But what's really shocking is that Lamont -- who basically exploited anti-war sentiment to ride to a primary victory as a single issue candidate -- would be so hypocritical as to denounce Cheney on the grounds that the VP is supposedly using the war for political advantage. If he were, no doubt Lamont would be the first to recognize a page from his own playbook.

And it's likewise shocking that Teddy Kennedy would characterize anything coming from someone else as "ugly and frightening." Ignoring the obvious cheap shot ("and Teddy Kennedy knows 'ugly and frightening'"), he's the one who has called the war a fraud and even indulged in a little weird conspiracy theory.

What's most shocking? That politicians like Lamont and Kennedy are taken seriously by anyone, anywhere.

A Bunch of (al) Qaqaa

In this astonishing piece, NY Times ombudsman Byron Calame pretty much proves that Bill Keller lied about having been unable to run the NSA "wiretapping" story until after the election -- that, in fact, the story was held until after November 2.

As Calame notes:

I have now learned from Bill Keller, the executive editor, that The Times delayed publication of drafts of the eavesdropping article before the 2004 election. This revelation confirms what anonymous sources had told other publications such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Observer in December.

Some have attempted to defend Keller's decision, arguing that the story was run only when it was "ready," completely independent of any political considerations on either side. (Naivete can be so refreshing, no?). Liberals hammered the Times, insisting that the decision to hold the story proved that the Times was ultimately in the Bush Administration's corner (mendacity or mental incapacity is considerably less charming than naivete).

Certainly, it's not necessarily true that Keller realized this before the election. But it's more likely than not that he did . . . because (as liberals should note) Keller and crew had no hesitancy about publishing negative stories about the Bush administration immediately before the election. And, as Keller's defenders should note, he went with one particular story even though, as Powerline points out, it was inaccurate and biased -- without even being particularly timely.

The story? Al Qaqaa.

So, rather than going with a story that (as Keller himself concedes) helped the President, The Times instead went back to find old news that was recycled dishonestly to suggest scandal and incompetence where none existed.

Given the clear evidence of Keller's duplicity regarding the wiretapping story's time line, it's far from clear that anything he says should be deemed credible. Even so, simple common sense supports his assertion that he didn't hold the story out of concern for the Bush Administration. In fact, given that the Times was willing to run a biased, misleading and old anti-Bush story right before the election, it stands to reason they would have been perfectly happy to run a biased, misleading, incomplete and new anti-Bush story in the same period -- but only as long as they believed it would be consistent with The Times' political agenda.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Noon Tomorrow

For some reason, there's a computer problem where I'm staying . . . I'll be back at the keyboard by tomorrow at noon!

The People To Thanks

Investors Business Daily provides an important reminder: The people the left has despised (Bush and Blair) have been right in recognizing the deadly, ongoing nature of the terrorist threat, and the means they've sought to use (wiretapping, tracking financial transactions) have been necessary and good.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A "Micro" View of 9/11

This interesting piece asks in effect: "Where are all the movies about 9/11?"

Yes, of course, it concedes the existence of "United 93" and now, Oliver Stone's new film. But tellingly, the Stone film is described as a "micro" view of 9/11, and, in fairness, so was Paul Greengrass' movie, excellent though it was. And there's a reason for that.

"Micro" films about 9/11 show the attacks' impact on specific individuals -- the people on an airplane, those buried in the rubble at 9/11 for many harrowing hours. And they're affecting. But nowhere -- in stark contrast to many of the fine World War II movies -- do they discuss "why we fight" . . . which is, precisely, the highest and best function of war films: To put events in context, and boost morale for the right course of action.

The reason is simple but sad: To talk about "why we fight" is to be forced to make the argument that we fight because we believe that we are right -- and that the Islamofascist attackers and all that they stand for is wrong. The problem is that many of America's elites have lost both the capacity and the will to make that argument, to unashamedly advocate for the superiority of our way of life. For, after all, in these multicultural and relativist days, who are we to say what's good and bad? As those at Reuters have explained to us, "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

The American people as a whole know better. And they're being poorly served by Hollywood.

Who's Got It Right?

So internal GOP polls say that Republican voters are highly motivated. Yet the AP is telling us that Republicans may abandon the President.

Who's right? Of course, the GOP has an incentive to spin the truth. But the sad fact is that "objective" journalists are no less prone to the same techniques -- and they've been predicting Republican defections for years now.

Victory: The Only Option

Newt Gingrich explains it all.

Defining 9/11 Down

As John Podhoretz points out, before the threats revealed yesterday, there was a tendency even among some conservatives to downplay the dangers we've confronted since 9/11. As Podhoretz puts it, the revisionist thinking has gone as follows:

We were hit. We responded by going into Afghanistan to nail al Qaeda and take out the regime that harbored it. That was OK, but the idea of taking out the rogue regime in Iraq has proved such a disaster that it now calls into question even our actions in Afghanistan.

That's exactly what's going on, and it's a mistake both logically and morally. For one thing, it takes a historicist view that evaluates the "rightness" of a particular course of conduct by no standard other than whether it's successful (or, in this case, immediately successful). And while one has to be a fool to underestimate the importance of success in war (perhaps the time that winning comes closest to being the "only" thing), the revisionist analysis confuses proces with substance. In other words, it could still have been perfectly right to go into Iraq (and I believe it was) even if, tactically, the mission has been mishandled in some ways. That's the point that much of elite opinion, including Sebastian Mallaby, doesn't seem to get.

What's more, using the difficulties in Iraq to dismiss the importance of striking back at al Qaeda through Afghanistan is incredibly wrong and, yes, foolish. If the US government had done nothing after 9/11, not only would it have been violating the most sacred reason a government has for existing -- that is, the protection of its people -- but it would also have undermined popular confidence in its capacity and willingess to protect us, which would have done much to shake popular confidence in the foundational rationale for its existence.

And that's only speaking domestically. Is there anyone alive who seriously believes that, had we allowed the 9/11 attack to go unanswered militarily in some capacity, that countries like Iran and North Korea wouldn't be treating us even less respectfully than they are now? That Saddam Hussein, still in power, wouldn't be trying even harder to forge links with terrorists across the Middle East? That Ghaddafi would have surrendered his nukes anyway?

If it's true that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, I'm getting worried.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Three Bad Guys

According to his buddy Venezualan President Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro is in a great battle for his life. Obviously, Chavez would like nothing better than to find a way and an occasion for projecting himself into Cuban affairs -- thereby finding a way to cause more trouble for America.

And Chavez's increasingly insolent behavior isn't likely to be improved when he hears that Iran's president is mocking ours, openly and, it seems, without having to pay any price.

The Gruesome Details

They're here,along with speculation here that this might have been intended as "the big one." According to left wing thought, the answer is confined to simply building better walls and employing better airport screening. Defensive measures alone, we're told, can do the job. But that's a failure of imagination, as well as of intellect.

For there will always be new methods of terror -- for instance, the best mechanized screening in the world wouldn't have been able to detect the combination of chemical explosives that were in play for the thwarted attack. Instead, there had to be spying, perhaps phone tapping, asset tracing, and other methods that liberals have from time to time criticized as violations of "privacy." It's worth noting that we may have been lucky that the attack was being planned in Britain -- where there are substantially fewer impediments to robust investigation of suspected criminals.

In fact, when one realizes all the intelligence measures that had to be brought to bear to foil the attack, it makes it clearer than ever why Democrats -- the party of radical civil libertarians, frequently hostile to foreign intelligence gathering -- simply can't be trusted with national security.