Carol Platt Liebau: April 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Striking Out

Here's my American Spectator piece about the May 1 pro-illegal immigration general strike.

Living in the Bubble

It's always amusing to watch the lefties at the LA Times engage in anthropology, as they document life in "red" states.

Here is a piece full of breathless surprise that people in Utah -- a fairly conservative state -- have been welcoming to immigrants, legal and illegal alike (and covers how attitudes are shifting in the wake of the current immigration debate. Might have been interesting to ask how much the behavior of the protestors themselves are changing opinions).

Anyway, here's the quote that betrays the agenda: "The raging debate on immigration reform has drowned out nuanced positions even in Utah, a conservative but paradoxically immigrant-friendly state." (emphasis added)

Get it? They're like an explorer calling, "Hey guys, look over here -- we've got conservatives who are immigrant-friendly!" Surely the open-borders crowd over at The Wall Street Journal (admitted conservatives), and people like noted conservative Bill Kristol (quite soft even on illegal immigration, as noted here) would be astonished to learn of the Times' surprise.

Maybe the Times meant to imply that most conservatives look askance at illegal immigration. That's true. But if that's what they meant, that's what they should have said. It's inaccurate -- and deeply unfair -- to imply that conservatives are hostile to people who have come here legally in pursuit of the American Dream.

Squandering an Opportunity?

Lynn Swann has great potential to be a star in the Republican Party. So why, pray tell (and assuming this report is true) is he not getting the intra-party respect and money that he needs in order to win?

Sure, he's a novice. So was everyone, once. But with a little help and guidance, Swann could offer the GOP a fabulous return on any investments made in him.

Anyone Surprised?

There are reports that last night's guest comedian at the White House Press Correspondents' dinner, Stephen Colbert, restricted what Editor & Publisher described as "blistering" "humor" to anti-Bush pot shots, rather than dividing his comments equitably between the press and the president, which is the custom.

Who's surprised? The elite liberal "media establishment" has pretty much refused to give Bush a fair shake from the beginning, so why would last night be different?

Here's the most instructive contrast. Back in 1996 when Don Imus was the featured guest at the Radio and Television Correspondents' dinner, the MSM was "appalled", at what the New York Times described as Imus' "rudeness". (Here's the text of the speech; however bitter the tone, the venom was, at least, equally distributed between the president and the press, which may have been part of the problem).

After Don Imus' line-crossing routine, the Clinton White House asked that it not be rebroadcast on C-SPAN. Wonder how the press would react to a similar request from the Bush Administration?

And with touching sensitivity, the head of the Radio and Television correspondents association even wrote a letter of apology to the Clintons, expressing regret about the "embarassment" they endured (text of letter here).

Why do I suspect the same kind of apology won't be forthcoming this year?

And it's easy enough to see where "Editor & Publisher" stands. In this story, the E&P staff speculates one of the reason for the crowd's discomfort might have been "too much speaking 'truthiness' to power" (and what's with this "truthiness" silliness?). In the other, senior editor Joe Strupp notes at the piece's conclusion, "Finally, those departing the Reuters shindig were given a half-dozen glazed Krispy Kreme Donuts. A comment on the administration trying to sugar-coat half-baked ideas?"

No -- more a comment on the fiction that the MSM is unbiased.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Real Problem with Teen Lit

Mark the occasion -- I'm actually agreeing with Tim Rutten's assessment that a lot of today's teen lit is garbage.

He's right that it isn't the fact that the books are being turned into commodities through slick packaging -- that's been happening for decades, as any fan of Nancy Drew (as I was) can attest.

No, it's that too many publishers have, indeed, forgotten that "young readers, more than any others, want to be transported and shown not just other lives but whole worlds utterly different from their own," as Rutten notes. Instead, they get "a focus-group-driven literature of solipsism."

But I'd add one point: Even solipsistic books can be excellent if they speak to smething real and true in teen life. Instead, as I've learned through my recent experience reading teen chick novels, many of the books are vulgar, rotten to the core and profoundly unrealistic (the heroines of Cecily von Zienegasar's "Gossip Girls" series seem to do little besides party and engage in heavy flirting -- to use a euphemism -- and somehow win acceptance to Ivy League schools, notwithstanding a penchant for shoplifting and cheating on tests).

It's the literary equivalent of arsenic-spiked cotton candy: Although at first exposure it may seem like easy, entertaining reading, it leaves a bad aftertaste and is profoundly bad for the young girls reading it. If this is the stuff being purveyed to them, it's easy enough to understand why some teens may eschew reading.

Friendly Companies

Here is a list of the ten businesses that give the most to Republicans.

Patronize 'em, please.

The Fate of Michael Hiltzik

Read it here. He's lost his column, and will be reassigned after a suspension.

Seems a bit harsh. Too bad he wasn't allowed to continue blogging -- this time, with the latitude to admit to his own predilections and biases (like many of the rest of us do) so that the use of "alter egos" to make his arguments would be rendered unnecessary.

Even so, it also seems to me that there are sometimes good reasons for people to work under noms de plume -- but for a journalist (unless he's whistle blowing), no good reasons exist. Hiltzik had a nasty little habit of misrepresenting his ideological adveraries' arguments, all the better to demolish the (misrepresented) argument and smear its alleged proponent. His various pseudonyms assisted in this effort, but in the end, it wasn't just the misrepresentation of his own identity that was Hiltzik's big problem. It was the misrepresentations in the way he reported (and interpreted) reality.

Just one example: Check this item out. Hiltzik alleges that my "solution" to illegal immigration is to "[r]un them down on the freeway." He then quotes one paragraph from this piece in the American Spectator, where I noted that:

For too long, illegal immigration has been condoned by the U.S. government -- signs along the highways near San Diego warn motorists that people on foot (read: illegals) may be crossing the highway.

Obviously, the point of the observation wasn't to advocate hitting illegal immigrants. It was to point out that illegal immigration has become so widely accepted as a fact of life that, rather than making real efforts to capture illegals, the government simply warns motorists not to hit them.

Given Hiltzik's misrepresentation here and in other instances, I'm a bit suspicious about the Times' assurance, without more, that their "inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web."

Not Long for This World?

The City Journal's Brian Anderson suggests that Air America isn't long for this world.

Heh. Consistent with my prediction a little over two years ago.

Friday, April 28, 2006

All You Need to Know

So the press is demanding that their White House televisions be tuned to CNN rather than Fox News. So here's the question: Why does the press want to watch CNN rather than Fox?

Well, apparently, "a lot of people consider [Fox News] to be a Republican-leaning network." And bias would be bad, of course, especially given the straight down the center political positions of the press itself.

Seems to me that the press' outspoken preference for CNN has to do with what PBS' Terrence Smith's observation that "people regard CNN as liberal, somewhat to the left of center." Apparently, the members of the press -- like most other people -- simply prefer media outlets that conform to their own political biases.

But wait . . . aren't we supposed to believe that the media doesn't have any biases?

Misunderstanding the American People

Over at Real Clear Politics, Peter Brown notes that the illegal immigrant May Day protests are quite likely to backfire both on the illegals, and on the people who wish to see them legalized.

Here's the reason: The sort of protest that has been planned fundamentally misjudges and misunderstands the American mind. It's a threat -- see how you can't get along without us. The problem is that Americans don't respond well to threats. We're not a people that cowers and backs down, and if you don't believe me, check in with Osama Bin Laden (if you can find him in his little hidey hole).

Rather, the illegal immigrants and and their political sponsors would be much better advised to appeal to the heart of the American people -- because most are generous and fair. Dr. Martin Luther King knew it, and advanced the pace of the long-overdue civil rights movement exponentially by appealing to our better natures.

But the kinds of tactics people choose to prove their worth or resolve a disagreement tells us a lot about who they are. Why, exactly, should any of us believe that the illegals who are willing to threaten a walkout either love this country or want to become one of the people that they believe they'll hurt by their absence?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fairness to Romney

As I've mentioned before, I could be an enthusiastic supporter of Rudy Giuliani (so long, of course, as I was assured in particular that the Mayor intended to select judges like Roberts and Alito for the bench, and that there'd be no pro-choice crusading, etc). But the other candidate who's very compelling is Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

That's why it's deeply disturbing to read Bob Novak's piece about the trouble that Mitt Romney may confront in his quest for the presidency -- all as a result of the fact that he is a Mormon.

Many religious conservatives know first hand what it's like to be scorned, pilloried or deemed unfit for public service simply because they adhere to certain beliefs. And those of us on the right have been correct in criticizing the anti-religious (and/or anti-Catholic) bias on the part of some Democrats. Given all this, it would be deeply unfair for people of faith to then turn on Romney and hold his faith against him.

Don't get me wrong: I doubt I could ever vote for an atheist. But that's because I think it's important for anyone who holds the kind of power that the President does to believe that there's a higher power to whom he's accountable (aside from the House Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings begin). Belief in God is an essential moral check on the holder of the most powerful office in the world.

Mormons believe in God. They likewise believe in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit. Some other tenets of their faith strike me as somewhat hard to believe -- but, hey, isn't that how a Mormon or a Jewish person might likewise feel about my faith as an orthodoz Episcopalian?

Seems to me that so many of the conservatives who have fought so valiantly to have faith of all sorts permitted in the public square -- and respected there -- would do themselves and their cause great harm by opposing Romney based on theological differences alone. It would suggest (hopefully, inaccurately) that when religious conservatives fight for tolerance of faith in public life, they're only talking about their faith -- defined in the most narrowly sectarian terms.

Shame on Trent Lott

As I've noted here, Trent Lott has long had it in for The White House (and Bill Frist, too).

That may explain why he is being not only intransigent but also snarky in his refusal to cut pork from an emergency spending bill for the military and Hurricane Katrina, despite a veto threat from the President. Lott remarked, "I guess he's under pressure to veto something Thank you for your input, Mr. President."

Of course, Lott and fellow MS Senator Thad Cochran would love to use taxpayer money to relocate the tracks for a private railroad line. And I'd love a taxpayer funded trip to Hawaii -- but neither means the money should be forthcoming.

And such boondoggles certainly aren't a good idea when it's general knowledge that the GOP base is up in arms about the outrageous spending that's been emanating from Capitol Hill. Nor is it like the project is the one factor that might rescue Lott from looming defeat in his 2006 election bill (not that this would justify the funding, but it would make it more understandable and less petty, at least).

The bottom line seems to be this: Since Trent Lott doesn't get to lead the Republican majority in the Senate, he obviously doesn't care whether there is one.

And shame on him. With the war on terror and so much else, doesn't he have a clue that it isn't all about him?

Any Points for Prescience?

Today at Real Clear Politics, Scott Rassmussen writes "Immigration Issue Could Lead to 3rd Party Candidate" -- and, of course, that candidate seems to hurt a Republican presidential candidate the most.

Indeed. I've said so. Repeatedly. Here. And here. And, yes, there's a warning even here, too.

They Won't Surrender; We Can't Retreat

Todd Beamer's father, David Beamer, pens a wonderful piece for The Wall Street Journal about "United 93" (we're going to see it this weekend).

He writes:

It is not too soon for this story to be told, seen and heard. But it is too soon for us to become complacent. It is too soon for us to think of this war in only national terms. We need to be mindful that this enemy, who made those holes in our landscape and caused the deaths of some 3,000 of our fellow free people, has a vision to personally kill or convert each and every one of us. This film reminds us that this war is personal.

It is, indeed. Not only do we need to be fighting for truth, justice and the American way -- but I also recognize that opinionated females hardly survive and thrive in an Islamofascist world. And I really don't like the look of those burkas.

Reasons for the Gas Prices

The Indianpolis Star tries to offer a simple lesson on supply and demand. Too bad so few in Washington are listening.

Defending Negative Ads

There's a new book out by Vanderbilt professor John Geer, which argues that negative political ads are actually good for democracy -- and contain more facts than positive ads. (The issue is covered here today in The Washington Post and Geer himself wrote an intriguing op/ed for last weekend's LA Times).

My brief experience with the topic (I wrote my thesis on images of democracy in US Senate campaign ads) leads me to believe that Professor Geer is absolutely right. Often, "negative" ads are more likely to be factual than positive ones, and they also provide information that voters may not be likely to obtain elsewhere. (They can also be incredibly funny . . . the best, I recall, was Senator [then candidate] Lieberman's ad criticizing incumbent Lowell Weicker's terrible attendance record. It was a cartoon in which a sleepy bear -- with a hilarious resemblance to Weicker -- came stumbling out of his cave, unaware of what's going on around him).

Negative ads are particularly important for Republicans. Given the political predilections of the press, it's understood that a lot of negative information about Republican candidates will issue from the media. Republicans need a way to respond, and often, paid media is the best (or only) alternative.

The press tut-tutting isn't just an example of an annoying, goo-goo "can't we all just get along?" mindset. Its focus on negative advertising is a relatively new phenomenon, as Professor Geer points out, and incredibly overstated in modern times, compared to the campaigns of the past.

Moreover, lest anyone forget, there is a marketplace -- not only for ideas, but in politics. Any decent candidate knows that he or she risks a backlash by airing a negative ad that is tasteless, untrue or otherwise over the (undefined but know-it-when-you-see-it) line. So there's a market-type incentive for candidates to air truthful, and relatively responsible negative ads.

Living in a Glass House

ABC headlines this story as follows: "Snow's New Post Shows White House Love for Fox," (referring, of course, to Snow's former employer, the Fox News Channel).

It's somewhat interesting that this story comes from ABC, of all places. Because The White House may love Fox, but ABC loves Clinton -- ABC is the home of former Clinton Communications Director George Stephanopoulos.

And while administrations aren't charged with being supposedly "objective" or "politically neutral," news organizations are. So it seems to me that ABC's love for Clinton is more noteworthy than The Bush White House's for Fox. And yet I don't recall seeing any stories covering that romance.

Still Just Want to "Talk"?

Iran has missiles that are capable of reaching Europe. That should make things lovely for the Europeans once the Iranians finish developing the nukes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Better Than the Show?

This writeup about "American Idol" from The Washington Post is hilarious. I'm going to have to check this program out.

"Not a Dying Business"

My brilliant husband comments in The Wall Street Journal about McClatchy's proposal to sell some of the papers it will have acquired from Knight-Ridder.

Could the DNC Have Done It Better?

If anyone ever wonders why conservatives suspect that the MSM is hardly "fair and balanced," today's radio NBC news bulletin was a prime example.

It began by announcing that although today was supposed to be a good day for the Administration with the appointment of Tony Snow, it actually turned out badly because Karl Rove was appearing again before the Fitzgerald grand jury. For some reason, the report omitted to inform the public that Rove is not a target, according to his attorney, Robert Luskin.

The report then went on to discuss President Bush's low poll numbers, at which point a clip from Tim Russert was introduced, in which Russert asserted that the drag on the President's job approval was because of the economy, citing a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll finding that only 19% of those polled feel "comfortable" about the economy, compared to 77% who felt "uneasy."

Certainly, it's easy enough to "report" on a poll -- especially when it's one issued by the news organization providing the "coverage." But it's fair to ask: Didn't anyone think it was worth reporting that today, the stock market closed on a six year high? Or that consumer confidence is at the highest level in four years?

It's hard to imagine that the folks at the DNC could have drafted a more favorable report, from their perspective.

It's interesting -- the NBC poll makes much of the "sour" mood in the country. But one's tempting to wonder: How much is the mood is being detected by press coverage, and how much is being driven by it?

Keeping Your Enemies Close

Here is an account of President Bush's meeting with a "bipartisan" group of senators about an immigration bill compromise.

For all my readers who have written to accuse me of never criticizing the President, well, I'm about to. Of course I think he's a strong and principled leader, and I support him.

But not on what he's doing about this bill, or the way he's gone about it. Guess who was at The White House meeting? Yes, of course Democrat political opponents like Senators Reid, Kennedy and Obama were there. That's to be expected.

But what's grating is who represented all Republicans: Senators McCain, Hagel, Graham, and Martinez -- all of whom support the softer, less-security-oriented (and unacceptable-to-a-great-swathe-of-the-country) immigration bill. According to Rush Limbaugh, Senators Kyl and Cornyn weren't even invited to the meeting.

With all due respect to the President, that's slap in the face -- not only to two of his most loyal supporters in the Senate, but also to the constituency for whom they speak. When the McCains, Hagels, and Grahams of the world are criticizing President Bush, the Kyls and Cornyns rise to his defense. So what can explain his cutting them out of the loop on such an important issue? Surely the President understands that his political opponents -- and theirs -- will try to use that decision as a basis for arguing that their views are allegedly "out of the mainstream."

Rewarding the McCain/Hagels with attention and access only buttresses the sense that they are Republican power-brokers, and moreover is precisely the way to encourage more of their grandstanding behavior (which most of the time is exercised to the President's detriment). It makes no sense to do it, especially when at the same time the loyalists like Cornyn and Kyl -- who represent a legitimate (and popular!) point of view -- are ignored.

Finally, on the immigration issue itself: President Bush is a profoundly good man -- and it's easy to understand why he feels for the many good Mexican people who are coming here hoping for nothing more than a job and a better way of life for their children. Don't we all?

But for someone who has such good gut instincts, it's puzzling that he doesn't realize that most of the people who disagree with him on immigration issues aren't doing so out of slack-jawed know-nothing bigotry, but because of serious security concerns about the border. And although one hates to play the "elitism" card, the President needs to take a moment to understand the frustration of ordinary taxpayers who sit on the highway, and experience crowded (or closed) emergency rooms and schools that can't do their job because of the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants.

Governors who are the sons of Presidents have never had to worry about such quotidian matters (just like all those blessed with either money or connections). But many hardworking, everyday people do have to worry about overcrowded schools, highways and even prisons. Politicians who appear arrogantly to dismiss those concerns do so at their peril, and rightly so.

See "United 93"

Here's another good review from Fox's Roger Friedman.

No, the movie won't be easy to watch. But it's important to go, to bear witness to what happened to our fellow Americans on 9/11, as a message of resolve that we will never forget, and as an unspoken rebuke to those who would argue that "it's too soon" -- that Americans can't "handle" the recollection of the attacks on this country.

You bet we can. And at least some of us are determined that it shall never happen again.

More H-1B Visas, Please

I've written before about the ridiculous disparity in treatment between illegal immigrants and those applying for H-1B visas -- people who are the innovators and professionals providing valuable goods and services to our economy.

This piece in USA Today makes a similar point.

Snow to The White House

It's official -- Tony Snow is Scott McClellan's successor.

It's good news. The White House has long needed an attractive, articulate face -- someone who seems unfazed by the press and who can make the President's case with gusto and good humor.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Unions - Looking Out for #1

Here in the LA Times is a piece that every teacher should see.

Apparently, mutual funds can pay teachers' unions to endorse them. In turn, the unions recommend them to their members -- without revealing the pay-to-play -- who are led to believe that the endorsement actually means something.

As a result, the teachers end up with retirement plans that often don't fit their needs -- and which may cost more than the better alternatives.

Shameful. Don't the unions insist that they're the ones that "protect" teachers? Doesn't sound like it to me.

Good News

Looks like Tony Snow may be taking the job of White House press secretary.

Update: YES!. The Bush Administration has needed someone who can make their case through the press to the people -- and do it with grace.

Putting a Foot on Freedom's Throat

Dianne Feinstein has announced that the US is not obligated to defend Taiwan from China.

No doubt her remarks caused great glee in Chinese Communist circles.

And certainly it's irritating and a point of contention between the US and Taiwan if the Taiwanese act provocatively in teir dealings with China. But remarks like Feinstein's are dangerous -- because they encourage the Chinese to believe that they could attack Taiwan without any repercussions.

From such misunderstandings and miscalculations only two bad outcomes can result: Either (1) China invades Taiwan and takes over what's now a free nation; or (2) China invades Taiwan and forces us to come to their defense.

Senator Feinstein should leave the diplomatic talk to Condoleezza Rice and the President, please.

Points for Honesty

Gotta at least give the Iranians points for honesty. Not only are they enriching uranium, but they've announced that they plan to share their nuclear technology with others.

Like al Qaeda, perhaps? Well, don't say we didn't warn you. Heck -- don't say that they didn't warn you.

Who's Investigating the Investigators?

So Charles Schumer is calling for an investigation into higher gas prices.

As prominent cartoonist and conservative Henry Payne points out, however, the problems are hardly the fault of the oil companies. So maybe Schumer and the others should be looking to themselves.

Certainly, many of the factors that have led to the higher prices are outside anyone's control, as they implicate geopolitical factors in places like Iran and China. And to the extent that Iran decides to withhold oil as the UN deadline for it to surrender its nukes approaches (and passes), the American public will have to decide whether it makes sense to blame the President and the Republicans for refusing to buckle to Iran's insistence on going nuclear in order to get the oil flowing.

But it's worth noting that a good deal of the trouble likewise stems from last year's "energy bill." That legislation mandated that ethanol replace MTBE without an adequate transition period, which may account for a lot of the recent spikes as supply and delivery problems are worked out before the May 5 deadline.

Moral of the story: Heaven defend us from a government that's here to "help" the free market, rather than relying on it.

Moreover, the federal government has now withdrawn any liability protection for the oil companies for contamination problems resulting from its own erstwhile requirement that MTBE be included in fuel. That should make the trial lawyers (and the Democrats) happy -- the lawyers can milk the oil companies on one end, while Democrats try to impose windfall taxes on the other.

So as Schumer and the other big spenders scream "price-gouging" on the party of oil companies, it's fair to ask a question of our own: Exactly when do we get to penalize legislators who engage in tax-gouging? Cut the gas tax!

A Cry of Warning

Newt Gingrich's first column for Human Events Online is here. He sets forth five strategic challenges for America:

1. Confronting a world in which America's enemies, including the irreconcilable wing of Islam and rogue dictatorships, could acquire and use nuclear or biological weapons;

2. Defending God in the public square;

3. Protecting America's unique civilization;

4. Competing in the global economy in an era of the economic rise of China and India, which will require transformations in litigation, education, taxation, regulation, and environmental, energy and health policies for America to continue to be the most successful economy in the world;

5. Promoting active, healthy aging so more people can live longer, which will require dramatic transformation in pensions, Social Security and health care.

For a more straightforward tactical battle plan for 2006 and beyond, however, stick with Hugh Hewitt pithy twelve word formulation:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.

A Voice of Reason

Professor Stanley Renshon demolishes the left wing canard that President Bush "lives in a bubble."

And he sums up what's going on quite beautifully:

[President Bush] is not in political trouble because he inhabits a bubble. He is on trouble because he has undertaken a difficult war against a relentless enemy and is determined to see it though despite the public's fatigue and doubt. He is in trouble because from the start of his administration he has faced relentless domestic political enemies who are determined to cripple and, if possible, ruin his presidency. And he is in trouble because some allies he should be able to count upon appear to have adopted the fallacious arguments of his enemies or in the case of Congress are afraid to directly address them.

Check out the Professor's new blog

Illegals in the Heartland

On a voice vote, Missouri senators have cracked down on illegal immigation by authorizing penalties for government contractors who hire illegals -- and, most significantly, by authorizing state police to enforce federal immigration laws.

What a refreshing contrast, as I noted last year, from L.A.'s ridiculous sanctuary policy.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Not Just a River in Egypt?

Mary McCarthy is now denying that she's the source of the illegal leaks to Dana Priest -- although she does admit to being deceptive about her contacts with Priest.

Not coincidentally, one of McCarthy's "friends and former colleagues" quoted in the story, Rand Beers, was also John Kerry's foreign policy advisor.

Small world, no?

"Marry Your Baby Daddy"

Kudos to Maryann Reid. By encouraging people to marry, she is improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods -- and above all, the prospects for the newlyweds' children, because:

Children raised in fatherless homes are more likely to be delinquent, do poorly in school, have lower self-esteem, become chemical abusers, and reproduce the same family pattern in their own lives. In most cases, no matter how strong or diligent a mother may be, children have a subconscious knowledge of what is right and wrong in a family set up. Boys turn to their fathers for their sense of masculinity and manhood. If their dad isn't around, the streets and group aggression are the next best thing for most.

Let's hope the trend catches on.

Hypocrisy Alert

Christopher Hitchens notes that sacked CIA leaker Mary McCarthy managed to restrict her opposition to legal, official channels when the policy she opposed was Clinton's bombing of an aspirin factory during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

And the hypocrisy doesn't end there, of course. Because if disclosing Valerie Plame's identity merited a special counsel investigation (which was a ridiculous assertion, given that the whole "Plamegate" affair was "a non-scandal about the not-illegal 'leaking' of the name of a non-covert CIA agent" as I noted here), surely McCarthy's leaks do, too.

Bad (Box Office) "Dreamz"

Schadenfreude alert. Couldn't help being pleased to see that, as this piece characterizes it, "George W. Bush -'American Idol' parody 'American Dreamz' featuring Dennis Quaid and Hugh Grant, debuted a weak No. 8 with $3.7 million." This despite the picture receiving largely favorable reviews.

I'm pleased despite an embarassing weakness for Hugh Grant (who is extremely cute, incredibly funny and once toyed with the insufferable James Lipton like a cat with a ball of yarn in an interview for the ages -- all of which, taken together, almost redeems his profoundly unfortunate "romantic" escapades).

If the movie had been simply an "American Idol" spoof, I would have gone in a heartbeat. But who's interested in mean-spirited cheap-shotting of the President? If that's all we wanted, we could watch MSM broadcast news.

I doubt Hollywood will ever learn -- but there's clearly a lesson here.

Zbig Mistake

One can only wish that Zbigniew Brzezinski were as helpful to his own country as he has been to the forces of Islamofascism in Iran, both now and, of course, during the administration of the terminally incompetent Jimmy Carter, where he served as national security advisor (and when the radical Isamicists came to power in the first place).

In any case, his piece in yesterday's LA Times is a dazzling example of the left's approach to foreign policy -- timorous, craven and ultimately concerned about all the wrong issues.

And it's also wrong on some facts. Take this assertion:

First, in the absence of an imminent threat (and the Iranians are at least several years away from having a nuclear arsenal), the attack would be a unilateral act of war. If undertaken without a formal congressional declaration of war, an attack would be unconstitutional and merit the impeachment of the president.

Seems to me that a former US national security advisor (and editors at the LA Times, for that matter) should know this, but under the war powers act, the President doesn't need a congressional declaration of war to launch a "surprise" attack -- a la President Reagan's April 4, 1986 strike on Libya.

Brzezinski then goes on to worry about whether a strike on Iran would exacerbate terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan -- and the United States. Yes, better to let them develop the nuclear weapons, and then worry about whether they'll deploy terrorists against American interests, when our ability to deter them has been significantly diminished.

As for oil prices, they're important -- but not as important as keeping nukes out of the hands of Islamofascist crazies.

Most amazingly, like his fellow left-wing global strategist Barbara Corcoran, Brzezinski thinks we ought openly to take the threat of military action off the table. Yes, let's make sure the Iranian government knows it has nothing to fear if it continues with the nuclear program . . . surely that will convince it to stop when all the honeyed UN incentives failed. Hello?

Certainly, as I noted here, there are good reasons not to bomb Iran -- yet (as Edward Luttwack pointed out). But those are strategic considerations that contrast favorably with the timid and cramped little fears enumerated by Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Most unpardonably, Brzezinski sneaks this snarky little sentence into the piece: The United States should not be guided by emotions or a sense of a religiously inspired mission. Give me a break. Sorry if my emotion -- being insufficiently neutral about the prospect of seeing New York incinerated -- makes anyone uncomfortable. And as for the "religiously inspired mission" -- who but left-wing crackpots really thinks that this is some kind of "crusade" (but good job in validating the idea for purposes of Islamofascist propaganda)?

Brzezinski believes that Iran would be deterred from giving nukes to a terrorist because -- if the nukes struck us -- it would be tantamount to "suicide for Iran." First of all, the United States would (rightly) recoil at the prospect of killing innocent Iranians, and their government knows it. And earth to Zbig: In any case, when you have a government led by advocates of suicide bombing, the threat of death is not a deterrent.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Right Kind of Change

Robert Novak is pleased with Josh Bolten's personnel changes in the wake of his becoming President Bush's chief of staff -- and actually has the grace (all too rare in the punditry business) to admit that his initial impression of Bolten's potential was mistaken.

He also concludes with a nugget of great insight:

The conventional wisdom is that the Democrats want to highlight Bush in nationalized midterm elections while Republicans want to hide him and let the party's congressional candidates run on their own. But the president of the United States cannot hide.

Absolutely. Republicans are making a dreadful mistake if they act ashamed of President Bush -- because doing so suggests that there is something to be ashamed of, and that implicitly validates every ridiculous accusation that every loony leftist has conjured up in the past year and a half.

Have mistakes been made in Iraq and elsewhere? Of course -- but they're neither of the sort nor the magnitude that Democratic propaganda would suggest. And if Republicans think they can save their electoral hides by cravenly running from President Bush, they've lost their minds. Republicans are in this together, and can best avoid an electoral debacle by making a spirited defense of Republican policy, especially in the war on terror.

Taking the offense against an opportunist policy-free group of aspiring peaceniks (a la Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean) draws instructive contrasts and reminds the American people that the Democrats simply can't be trusted, either with foreign policy in general or keeping the country safe in particular.

More Strange Bedfellows

Mary McCarthy, the CIA analyst fired for leaking classified information, is also a supporter of Rep. Curt Weldon's Democratic opponent, Joseph Sestak.

Sestak sure has the "classified information mishandling" vote sewed up -- other supporters include Clinton's national security adviser Sandy "Docs in Socks" Berger, who even hosted a fundraiser for him, and former CIA Director John Deutch (both have admitted to mishandling classified information).

Weldon's opponent served as director for defense policy on Bill Clinton’s national security council. So it's perhaps understandable why Democratic foreign policy partisans like Berger, Deutch and McCarthy would support him.

But it's also worth wondering how eager they are to defeat Weldon at almost any cost, given that the congressman has been determined to find the truth about what the Clinton foreign policy team knew -- and when they knew it.

Supporting It After Opposing It -- or Vice Versa

Sounds like the ever-decisive John ("I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it") Kerry opposes the leaking of classified information, but on hte other hand, he supports leaking to some degree as long as person doing it is "telling the truth".

Funny, then, that he is so upset about the non-leak "leak" that proved Joe Wilson to be a liar. And funny that he supports leaking -- but only as long as the classified information being illegally divulged is true (we can only hope that the "Kerry Principle" isn't applied to information like troop locations or covert missions). That Kerry -- what a stickler for accuracy.

More on the Cowardly Stars

Charlie Daniels appeared on Hannity & Colmes Friday night, fresh upon his return from Iraq, where he had gone to play for the troops.

Unbelievably, he reported that some troops had told him that they had been in Iraq for 11 months -- almost a year -- without having had any other big-name entertainment.

Shame on the cowardly "stars".

Strange Bedfellows

The husband of Pulitzer prize winner Dana Priest is Executive Director of the Center for International Policy -- a pro-Castro outfit that helps Joe Wilson get gigs. (HT: Sweetness and Light).

That sure sheds some light on where Priest is on the political spectrum.

"Conduct Unbecoming"

Professor Eliot Cohen points out what a poor example the day-late-dollar-short critiques of the former generals have set for the military.

He's perspicacious in pointing out:

[I]n the unhappy generals' account of Iraq there is no alternative strategy proposed, no fellow general held to account by name, scant acceptance of personal responsibility for what went awry on their watch, little repudiation of contrary statements made on active duty.

Indeed, it's always easy to criticize when there are difficulties after the fact, especially when no one can prove that an alternative course would, in fact, have yielded a better result, as Jack Kelly points out (along with the fact that at least one of the alternative suggested strategies wasn't even feasible).

As Cohen notes: "It is not the same thing as speaking candidly before Congress, telling all to civilian or military scholars collecting oral histories, or indeed writing one's own memoirs after the heat of contemporary passions has cooled, and the individuals in question have left public office."

It's likewise not the same as resigning as an act of conscience.

But what's particularly interesting is that some of the generals who are challenging the Administration don't particularly seem to appreciate being challenged themselves. Exhibit A is Anthony Zinni, whose performance on Bill Maher's show Friday night was a prime example. He was obviously annoyed at being challenged by fellow panelist IWF Chairman Heather Higgins, a woman.

It's unpleasant to make such observations about a general. But when generals enter the political fray, they submit themselves to political criticism. It's a shame for the generals and a shame for our political system.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Whose "Culture of Corruption"?

Democratic Congressman Allen Mollohan has stepped down from his ranking chairmanship of the House Ethics Committee amid allegations of financial improprieties.

How, exactly, will the Dems and the MSM be able to spin this as a "Republican scandal" that's "bad news for President Bush"?

And while we're talking scandal, let's not forget about another allegedly ethics-challenged Democrat, Rep. William Jefferson.

Are the Dems really sure they should have been casting the first stone in the ethics debate?

On Strippers & Rape

Kathleen Parker does a beautiful job of weighing all the equities involved in the Duke alleged rape case.

One point I would add, however: Whatever the facts of the Duke case turn out to be, certainly we can all agree that no woman ever deserves to be raped. But perhaps we should also agree that women, like men, must bear responsibility for the choices they make to put themselves in a position where a particular outcome is either more or less likely.

Take a male NASCAR driver -- who's hit and maybe killed by another driver. It's certainly not the first driver's fault -- it's the second's. But it's also childish not to recognize that, by his decision to drive race cars, the first driver made the accident possible (if not likely).

Similarly, strippers who visit a house with a bunch of drunken college athletes have to recognize that they are asking for trouble. Same goes for a bunch of college athletes who decide to mix alcohol with inviting a stripper to their party. Everyone involved should have realized that they were upping the chances for something very bad to happen.

That's okay; making choices is every man and woman's God-given right (so long as the activity they're choosing to engage in is legal). And it doesn't excuse the action of the wrongdoer, whoever it was. But it seems to me that by distinguishing the assignment of responsibility from the imposition of blame, we are able to clarify the opinions (or even the biases) swirling around cases like the one at Duke.

Would You Buy a House From This Woman?

Interesting dialogue today on Fox News' business show "Cashin' In".

Those quoted below are guest panelist Barbara Corcoran of The Corcoran Group, a residential real estate company, and Jonathan Hoenig of Capitalist, a regular. The group was discussing Iranian nukes.

Barbara Corcoran: The military option should be taken off the table. Perhaps I'm too peaceloving, but I think it's bizarre . . . Most importantly, the American people won't even tolerate it. They don't have the confidence in the President, they're not going to follow him into another ridiculous war. They just won't tolerate it.

Jonathan Hoenig: You think this would be a ridiculous war? You don't have the moral confidence -- the moral assuredness to say that Iran -- the leadership of Iran -- are evil mullahs with big weapons who want to slit our throats?

After some talk from other participants, Corcoran let go with this gem:

I trust the Iranians as much as I do our own President.

Corcoran is from Manhattan; Hoenig from Chicago. So maybe it's just the voice of Manhattan vs. the Midwest. To me, however, it sounds like the voice of the left vs. the voice of reason.

Is she for real? Is she 100% certain that Ahmahdinejad doesn't want to incinerate New York? Or does she suspect that President Bush does?


Friday, April 21, 2006

Update on CIA Firing

Looks like when I wrote about the shamefully politicized CIA, we didn't know the half of it.

The New York Times reports that the fired CIA employee was a Kerry supporter, promoted by Sandy "Docs in Socks" Berger during the Clinton Administration.

How shameful that she would jeopardize the war on terror by leaking classified information because of what look like partisan disagreements with the Bush Administration.

If she was that opposed to the Administration's policies, why didn't she resign?

And how many more like her are still there?

Happy Birthday to the Queen

I'm not keen on many members of her family, but I am a fan of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who celebrated her eightieth birthday today.

For 55 years, she has doggedly done her duty with fortitude, diligence and discretion. May we all be able to say so much when we turn 80.

A Leaker is Fired

Good. It's about time that CIA agents learned that revealing national security secrets can have real implications -- besides just providing Pulitzers for the leaks' recipients.

Unfit to Govern

The New York Times informs us today that the Democrats are eager to exploit anger over high gas prices.

Is anyone in America surprised by this? After all, they're also eager to exploit public anger over the war in Iraq (even as they provide no plan of their own).

Certainly, neither political party is above stoking public anger for its own ends. But what distinguishes a party that is worthy of governing from one that is not is whether (1) it has a plan of its own and (2) whether the public policy likely to result from the widespread public anger is advantageous to America. Otherwise, the anger being stoked has nothing to do with patriotism and problem solving, but everything to do with simply gaining power at any cost.

Here, the Democrats fail on both counts. And that, in my book, demonstrates once again that, however flawed the Republicans, voting Democratic would be a stupid and futile alternative.

The Domestic Nobel Peace Prize

In this piece, Doug Mackinnon heaps some well-deserved blame on the shoulders of the Pulitzer selection committee -- which did, indeed, seem to reserve its honors only for those who betray national security secrets or focus exclusively on Republican wrongdoing.

Pretty soon, the Pulitzers will become the domestic equivalent of the Nobel peace prize -- little more than another way for fashionable (and out of touch) elites to make a left-wing political point.

More on Hiltzik

Howard Kurtz reports on the Michael Hiltzik debacle.

But the issue of "suspending a blog" is never addressed, nor is Hiltzik's past ethical violation. Is it unfair to note that were the person in question a politician -- rather than a journalist -- with an ethically checkered past, that history would have been included? Is it unfair to wonder if the standards are somewhat laxer for journalists under investigation, compared to politicians?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Inconvenient Truths

Until now, the global warming true believers pretty much had the stage to themselves. No, the country at large wasn't in a state of low-grade hysteria (much less overwrought panic a la Richard Cohen) over the prospect of global warming, but the MSM could pretty much get away with allowing those writing in its pages to declare that there was "consensus" about its existence (see here and here, for examples).

But with Al Gore's new documentary, ironically, the global warming true believers are finally being being challenged -- and it's about time.

First, there was this. And today, this and this.

How ironic if, in his efforts to raise Americans' fears, along with the profile of the global warming issue, Al Gore actually succeeds in raising widespread doubts about its very existence . . .

You Think You're Having a Bad Day?

Well, if you're Michael Hiltzik, you're right.

But things have been tough for Congressman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, too (who is a lovely person, incidentally). Apparently, somehow an insult with an expletive found its way into a constituent letter. My guess? Some young staffers were playing around, and forgot to delete all traces of their mischief. It's nonetheless a pretty funny addition, and probably reflects someone's true feelings about the constituent to whom it's addressed.

The whole thing reminds me of a guy I knew at the Harvard Law Review -- very brilliant, but somewhat "quirky," to put it kindly. He coded a function key on the computers so that, whenever it was hit, the phrase "I'm not wearing any underwear" was inserted into Review text. Funny now, slightly less so then.

Probably the way this expletive embarassment will work out for Congressman Emerson.

Hiltzik's Blog Suspended - What Next?

Check it out.

Here's the statement:

The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics policy, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.

Now, the question is: Will Hiltzik himself be suspended? After all, it wasn't the blog that did anything wrong. Blogs don't violate ethics requirements; bloggers (like Hiltzik) do.

So far, it seems that the LA Times is very forgiving of repeat ethical offenders.

Moving Ahead

It looks as though the political standoff in Iraq may be coming to an end.

Good news for Iraq and for America; bad news for the Democrats.

Hiltzik's Journalistic "Standards"

The inimitable Patterico points out that regrettable L.A. Times blogger Michael Hiltzik appears to be adopting pseudonyms to defend himself and attack others -- while being less than honest about his practice.

As Patterico notes, "This just isn’t the way that bloggers do things."

Is anyone surprised? Heretofore, it's seemed that Hiltzik's one M.O. is to lob nasty personal attacks at other bloggers with whom he disagrees, in hopes of eliciting a response which will, in turn, boost his traffic. (My personal favorite was when he called me "vacuous." To the extent that the term is most often applied to pretty blonde cheerleaders, I accepted the compliment with no small degree of amusement.)

But apparently Hiltzik stoops to other devices, as well.

The Stench of Opportunism

Sounds like Anthony Zinni's opinions on Iraq are simply cut to fit current fashions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Just One Quibble

Howard Kurtz pens a very nice piece about Brit Hume here. One tiny quibble about this sentence:

Hume is almost evangelical in his belief that he is fair and balanced while most of the media are not, an argument challenged by several studies showing that his program leans to the right.

Hate to say it, but that's misleading, insofar as it could be construed to mean that studies have found that his program, uniquely, has a political bias. As discussed on this blog here, a recent UCLA study did indeed note that "Special Report With Brit Hume" leaned to the right (the only other right-leaning outlet was The Washington Times), but that

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

So, in short, Hume's program may "lean to the right" but no more than the ABC or NBC News leans to the left. Which means that if they are supposedly credible journalistic outlets, Hume certainly is, as well. And he's right -- he is more "fair and balanced" than the overwhelming majority of the MSM.

The scariest part of the story is the reference to the possibility of Hume retiring. Please, no! We tivo "Fox News Sunday" every week just for the fun of watching him become exasperated with Juan Williams.

Dean to Religious: Get Out of Politics

Howard Dean has apparently spoken to the Christian Science Monitor, and among his bon mots was this little gem:

The religious community has to decide whether they want to be tax exempt or involved in politics.

True enough, as it applies to churches. They are nonprofits, and nonprofits cannot engage in partisan politics. (Interesting that the left has no problem with spying on churches for political reasons, but is outraged at the prospect of spying there for national security purposes).

But when Dean mentions "the religious community," to whom, exactly, is he referring? After all, there's a big difference between being a minister and being a faithful parishioner -- but both are part of "the religious community."

And there's a difference being illegitimately involved in partisan politics and simply having a voice in public affairs. For too long, many on the left and in the MSM have acted as though (conservative) people of faith have no business being involved in public service or voicing opinions on public affairs -- remember the disgraceful behavior of the Democrats during Bill Pryor's Judiciary Committee hearings?

Howard Dean's statement does little but reinforce the impression that Democrats are ignorant of, if not hostile to, people of faith. Oh, and one more thing: If he's so concerned about politics and religion mixing, I'm waiting for him to denounce any of the activities of the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Snow in The White House?

Not a bad idea. After all, if George Stephanopoulos can host "This Week" . . .

Although, like Lori Byrd, I do think that General "Don't Get Stuck on Stupid" Honore would make a compelling choice.

How 'bout Ann Coulter? Just kidding. I hear they're saving her for the "negotiations" with Iran.

Do the Unborn Feel Pain?

The answer isn't entirely clear, but Dr. Mary Davenport is one of many doctors who believes that it's evident.

Given that no one's 100% sure, what kind of sadist would oppose the administration of anesthesia for surgery or any other procedure -- besides those with a vested interest in portraying the unborn as non-sentient creature?

Tax, Tax, Tax

In the wake of tax day, Jon Stossel has some truly dispiriting figures.

In 1904, government cost $20 per citizen. Adjusted for inflation, that's $340 today. Instead, by 1999, government costed about $10,000 per person.

So much for the big-spending Democrats' cry that the Republicans don't "care" about the poor and public works -- at least if "caring" can be measured by spending. Judging from Stossel's piece, it doesn't sound like either party has been relucant to seek and use Americans' money.

Sticking Up for Rumsfeld

The op-ed in the Chicago Tribune is strongly supportive.

And it makes a point I've not seen many other places:

It would be curious to know, though, how many of [the generals speaking out against Rumsfeld] advised against plans to invade Afghanistan with a light and nimble force--and were proved wrong. Some in the military and many outside analysts argued that such a strategy carried too much risk for failure. They would have allowed Al Qaeda and its host, the Taliban, to operate much longer while the U.S. assembled a large force to invade. They were wrong.

And Tony Blankley even raises the issue of whether some of these generals should face a court of military inquiry for insubordination. Yes, the remedy seems somewhat harsh, but he (along with this oped from The Washington Post) nonetheless raise some very troubling questions about the implications of this "revolt" for civilian control of the military.

It seems ironic, somehow, that the left -- long hostile to the military -- are the ones inadvertantly working to weaken civilian control of it. That's where Bush hatred will lead, it seems. But it hurts the left more than the right in the end; given liberals' reputations for being soft on defense, establishing a precedent whereby disgruntled generals are praised for ex post facto criticism of an administration under which they served is more likely to hurt those who seem weak on defense than to damage conservatives over the long run.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Why Giuliani?

Over at Hugh Hewitt's site, there's been a poll asking participants to select their favorite presidential candidate. Results are here.

Interestingly, Rudy Giuliani is winning -- an intriguing result, given that many in Hugh's audience and readership are, like me, fairly straightforward social conservatives to whom Giuliani's pro-choice, pro-gay rights record might seem to have limited appeal.

Here, in my view, is why Giuliani has done so well (outstripping 2nd place finisher George Allen, at the moment, by some 76 votes) -- or, at least, here's why I voted for him.

First, at the moment, I'm not overwhelmed by any of the other candidates. As I've noted before, I've found George Allen less than substantive, almost not-ready-for-prime-time. McCain is, of course, out of the question. Frist has often been a weak leader, prone to amateurish mistakes.

That leaves Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. I like Mitt Romney a lot. But at the moment, Giuliani seems to be the best choice. First, (like Romney), he's from outside the Beltway -- a huge advantage at a time when most Americans seem relatively disgusted with both parties in Congress.

Second, he's got a proven record of success (I'm trying to learn more about Romney's health care bill and I admire the way he's tried to uphold the rule of law against an out of control judiciary, but I note that Giuliani ran for reelection; Romney didn't). In a country where the press has repeatedly tried to paint a picture of federal government inefficiency in episodes as varied as the response to Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq, a can-do reputation counts for a lot.

Third, Giuliani has experience tussling with the toughest press in the world -- although Romney, too, has done well in a climate that favors the other party, there's little that can compare with the left-wing vituperation that was visited upon Giuliani for almost eight years running. He was routinely compared to Hitler before being compared to Hitler was cool. He stood up to it well and never faltered. His mama certainly didn't raise any wimps, and I admire that.

Finally, we know for sure that Giuliani has guts and principle when it comes to foreign policy matters -- and he stood tough from the beginning in the war on terror. As the linked piece notes, he's not afraid to engender controversy, whether it's by ejecting Yasser Arafat froM Lincoln Center in an era when he was a prized (Clinton) White House guest or returning a $10 million check to a Saudi prince who criticized US foreign policy in the wake of 9/11.

And his persona is big enough to go toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton; the fact that he isn't immediately associated with the dreaded "Religious Right" likewise might be helpful in peeling off voters who aren't comfortable with the kind of leftism that Hillary Clinton has long stood for. (Though he isn't particularly associated with the Religious Right, he nonetheless has stood up against leftist religion bashing).

How could Rudy seal the deal? Promise to nominate judges in the Roberts/Alito mold. Without that, I'm taking a longer look at Romney. With it, I could be his -- politically speaking, of course.

Update: It pretty much should go without saying that my support for Rudy Giuliani is predicated on an understanding that his marriage to Judi Nathan is stable, and that the country wouldn't be treated to a series of personal life scandals during his term in office as President. Few would voice affirmative admiration for the way that the Mayor (and his former wife) conducted their mutual personal lives in the past; most Republicans doubtless would agree that there is plenty there about which anyone would be embarassed. That being said, for better or worse, the country seems to have reached a consensus that past behavior -- so long as it's definitely past, wasn't illegal and isn't otherwise deemed unusually aberrant in a sexual sense -- constitutes no bar to the pursuit of higher office. That stance strikes me as a pretty good balance of two competing considerations: Requiring accountability and a modicum of appropriate personal behavior from elected officials, and recognizing that none of us is without imperfection or sin.

A Sad Commentary

How pathetic that The White House Easter egg roll couldn't come and go without being hijacked by people with an agenda.

Of course gay families should have been welcomed to the event -- they're Americans, aren't they? But it's unfortunate that, after insisting they're just ordinary and regular folks, some attendees felt it necessary to "make a statement" about their presence there.

It would have been inappropriate for a group with any agenda to try to take this traditional event and manipulate it for their own ends. You notice that military families didn't plan to come en masse wearing leis to signify support for the war in Iraq. Nor did pro-lifers come wearing an identifying item to remind everyone of the aborted children who, obviously, weren't in attendance.

That's because, no matter how worthy one's cause, some things are just not about adults and their agendas. They're supposed to be for the children.

Has policy disagreement reached such a pitch in this country that we can't have an Easter egg roll without someone trying to coopt it to further an agenda?

What's So Scary, Dems?

It's always puzzling to me: What's so frightening to the Democrats about laws that require proper identification in order to vote?

Do Democrats really think that their voters are so pathetic, stupid and helpless that they can't find a way to procure any kind of photographic identification? Do they really hold the vote so cheap that they believe that people truly committed to having a say in the democratic process will be deterred by the requirement?

Or could it be something else. . .

Environmental Hysteria

How to put it delicately . . . Richard Cohen seems in imminent danger of a complete loss of excretory control as he writes about global warming.

What he -- and others who worship at the altar of global warming -- don't seem to understand is that hysteria isn't convincing. Especially when other respected scientists raise serious questions about the validity of the "research" that the global warming devotees cite with such ponderous authority.

Of course, Cohen's column is also a valentine to Al Gore. Which suggests that perhaps his opinions shouldn't be taken seriously in any case.

A Military Conspiracy?

Tony Blankley raises the troubling possibility that the generals who have come forward to criticize Donald Rumsfeld have done so -- not as individuals heeding the call of conscience -- but rather as part of a well-orchestrated plan to try to do in Donald Rumsfeld, for political or other reasons.

The startling contradiction in the opinions of General Zinni then and now do little to overcome my reservations about both the style and the substance of the generals' critique.

Update: The idea that some of these generals are coordinating and politicking together was brought up yesterday at The American Spectator.

Good News for Republicans

Black-owned small businesses are growing at a fast clip.

If I were a Democrat, I'd be nervous. No one understands the difficulties and penalties imposed by the nanny-state government so beloved by the left like an entrepreneur.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Thorough and Nuanced Argument

Edward Luttwack, in a remarkably informative and nuanced piece in Commentary, provides three reasons it's not time to bomb Iran -- at least not yet. With it he offers the most helpful and thorough context for the present controversy that I've seen to date. And he's no pacifist, which only makes his case for (temporary) restraint more compelling.

Here are Luttwack's reasons, in his own words:

(1) Iranians are our once and future allies. Except for a narrow segment of extremists, they do not view themselves as enemies of the United States, but rather as the exact opposite . . They must not be made to feel that they were attacked by the very country they most admire, where so many of their own relatives and friends have so greatly prospered, and with which they wish to restore the best of relations.

(2) In essence, we should not bomb Iran because the worst of its leaders positively want to be bombed—and are doing their level best to bring that about. . . The clerics’ frantic extremism reflects a sense of insecurity that is fully justified, given the bitter hostility with which they are viewed by most of the population at large. In a transparent political maneuver, Ahmadinejad tries to elicit nationalist support at home by provoking hostile reactions abroad.

(3) The effort to build nuclear weapons started more than three decades ago, yet the regime is still years away from producing a bomb.

Let's hope he's right about #3. Numbers 1 and 2 do seem to me to indicate that there are solid strategic reasons for waiting a bit before undertaking military action -- assuming, of course, that time is on our side.

This intriguing piece is definitely worth a read.

So Which Is it?

According to Charles Babington in The Washington Post, anger at the President may well drive down Republican turnout and hand victory to the Dems come November.

But as Michael Barone points out, polls are not good indicators of turnout, only elections are -- and judging from last week's election for Duke Cunningham's old seat, turnout seemed largely the same as in 2004.

Here's the thing: As everyone concedes, it seems hard to imagine Democratic turnout being any higher than it was in 2004; Republican turnout can only fall. It's possible that could happen, of course -- Republican anger at spending, immigration, etc. etc. is well documented.

And I would be almost positive turnout would fall, except for one thing: Republicans and conservatives understand that we are at war. The news from Iraq every day reminds us of the tough decisions that have been made in the past; the news from Iran reminds us that more tough decisions may lie ahead in the future.

However angry they are at Congress and at the President, many Republicans will simply refuse to create a situation where more control over America's foreign policy is put in the hands of a feckless, irresponsible party during a time of war. They know our military deserves better -- and, frankly, so do we all.

Cheap Courage?

Thomas Lipscomb asks a question that has occurred to me as well: If the six generals criticizing Rumsfeld were so appalled by his leadership, why didn't they resign?

After all, it's easy to lob potshots from the sidelines at no personal cost, especially when one has a book to promote or cares to audition for a position of influence in the next Democratic Administration. When there's someone who actually feels that an issue is timely or important enough to resign over -- or ventures to speak out about while still in active service, when it can cost him something -- then I'll be impressed.

All this is especially true given that most of the criticisms don't seem aimed at anythign that's going on now, but are directed at matters like troop levels and other decisions made several years ago.

Catnip to the Feminists

Any discussion of "manliness" is like catnip to the feminists. They just can't keep themselves from rushing to deplore it. Ellen Goodman is the latest to join the fray. And like Ruth Marcus, she just doesn't get it.

Apparently, feminists like Goodman and Marcus find manliness threatening. Confidence, boldness and the rest are bad, bad, bad when men display them, at least in the service of a cause that the feminists don't support.

Goodman even sinks to the level of deliberately misleading (or is embarassingly uninformed) when she writes that:

George W. Bush himself approved the leaking of classified intelligence gathered before the Iraq War. He didn't let it all leak out. He authorized a trickle of information buttressing his case that Saddam Hussein had been a nuclear threat. Information that had already been discredited.

First, President Bush didn't approve any "leak" -- he authorized the disclosure of previously classified information ("Over the weekend, an attorney involved in the case told the Associated Press that, while Mr. Bush approved declassification of the intelligence estimate, he was not aware of how Messrs. Cheney and Libby planned to dole out the information.")

Second, the information had not already been "discredited." In fact, there's more reason to be confident it was right than ever.

Is this the best Ellen Goodman can do? Seems to me that for someone condemning those who are supposedly bold and confident in the face of being wrong, she ought to take a look in the mirror before she starts casting stones.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

One More Reason . . .

Not to vote Democratic. If you do, you'll empower and validate people like this.

Even so, talk about more to be pitied than blamed. Obviously, there are people on the left who are in a great deal of pain, for reasons that are only tangentially associated with politics.

Say a prayer for them.

Ready for Real Reform

Fred Barnes believes that the immigration issue has turned in the President's favor, and that Americans are willing to support a path to earned citizenship so long as border security is meaningfully reformed.

Fair enough. Let's just make sure that the legislation that emerges doesn't insult our intelligence by imposing measures that make earned citizenship certain, but enhanced border security dubious at best. Again: One way to do that would be to link the number of hitherto-illegal immigrants eligible for citizenship with the percentage decreases in the number of new illegals entering the country . . .

And let's not forget about the other immigration reforms that are sorely needed.

Give Him the Chance He Deserves

Lyn Swann is a fabulous guy and would make a wonderful governor for Pennsylvania. But Salena Zito raises some serious questions about whether the team around him has the "right stuff" to get him elected against a tough competitor like Ed Rendell.

Contradicting the Dominant Narrative . . .

Yes, Virginia, there is a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. That's how the U.S. came to kill al-Qaeda terrorists in Baghdad.

And no, Virginia, President Bush didn't "lie" about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger.

One question for the leftists: If al-Qaeda is in Iraq (as the first linked story indicates), what does that say about all those who are demanding that we immediately withdraw our troops? Are they advocating surrender to the terrorists? Certainly sounds like it . . .

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Over at the American Thinker, John B. Dwyer lays out, chapter and verse, all the facts that put the second-guessing politicians, generals and media to shame.

Democrats' Climate of Corruption

Oh, yes, corruption is just a Republican problem. Right, Rep. Mollohan? Right, Rep. Conyers?

Any comments on the liberal "culture of entitlement" that you and your colleagues seem to be embracing, Rep. LeeA ("I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen")?

A Strategy Behind a Ridiculous Policy?

On this blog earlier this week was a discussion of the importance of reforming the INS and immigration law generally.

This story in today's Wall Sreet Journal highlights the problem. It's about an illegal immigration of extraordinary promise and accomplishment, who's lived here illegally since he was four, and is currently a student at Princeton. In order to be able to avail himself of a scholarship for study at Oxford, he had to turn himself in to the INS and is hoping for the best.

Clearly, this is the sort of person whom the USA should be embracing. Under other circumstances, he certainly seems like the kind of person who would be eligible for an H-1B visa -- reserved for those in speciality occupations that are valuable to this country.

But note that H-1B visas are limited to 65,000 per year. No matter how valuable your talents, if you're 65,001, forget it. Similarly, this guy has gone to the INS and now will be subject to the labyrinthine processes of that agency.

Seems to me there's something faintly creepy and suspicious about the fact that a lot of politicians, and the INS, are satisfied to deny entry to amazing overachievers, and yet are willing to accept millions of poor, uneducated workers.

It's enough to make one believe that it's all part of a Democratic Party strategy to make sure that there are plenty of needy and uneducated people to make up for the voters they have lost to the Republicans in recent years.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Waiter Rule

In my experience, the waiter rule is one of the best indicators of character ever propounded.

And ladies, here's one more for you: If you're considering marrying a guy, check out how he treats his mother. That's what you can expect in a few years.

The False "Romance" of Protest

Rosa Brooks has nothing but contempt for Americans who won't take to the streets in protest, like many illegal immigrants have done in response to proposed immigration reform legislation.

How hilarious. How like a leftist. Because the fact is that, contrary to what Professor Brooks asserts, none of the protests have prompted Republicans to "reconsider" parts of the bill. Rather, the protests have, it seems, worked against the protestors' interests, hardening unfortunate (and no doubt inaccurate) impressions on the part of many in Middle America that the protesting illegals are more interested in asserting non-existent rights to citizenship than in following American laws.

Liberals like Rosa Brooks somehow cherish the notion that street protests are noble, romantic, empowering -- an expression of collective outrage by engaged citizens. Actually, street protests -- including the ones she points out overseas -- are the signs of profound political failure. They occur most often against political systems that aren't working, because they don't have more peaceful and effective ways of gauging, representing, responding to and incorporating the opinions of the unhappy protestors (setting aside, of course, the regimes like China, Iran, N. Korea and Saddam's Iraq, where protestors are simply jailed or killed).

Rose Brooks may be sorry that there aren't more street protests in the U.S. I'm glad. And proud.

In Search of Common Sense

Naomi Schafer Riley will, no doubt, have outraged legions of feminists by her call for common sense on the part of young women who are deciding whether to put themselves in potentially risky situations.

Of course, rape isn't the victim's "fault." But carrying that credo to extremes can prompt girls to throw caution to the winds, even though the fact that it wasn't one's fault surely doesn't make a rape any easier to get over.

The Stench of Defeat?

Amazingly disappointing. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed the teacher's union official -- who helped mastermind the governor's special election defeat -- back to the State Board of Education.

According to the linked piece, only 54% of the governor's appointees have been Republican. Remind me again, then, why the governor turns to the Republican Party for 100% of his grassroots efforts and financial support. Heaven knows he's not getting any from the Democrats . . .

From the "Terminator" to the "Intimidated"?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Issue Is Coercion

It's impossible not to be ambivalent about the whole "South Park" issue.

After all, it's hard to cheer a program that shows Jesus defecating on an American flag (even though, frankly, His image is plenty strong enough to take it -- and so is the flag's). But it's also impossible NOT to admire people like Matt Parker and Trey Stone, who are willing to stand up for free speech when so many are cravenly ceding their rights.

Seems to me the issue comes down to coercion. A lot of people are saluting South Park even though they aren't generally into offending people of a faith not their own. It's because all free people are instinctively outraged by tyrants who would threaten physical harm as a result of speech they don't like. It's un-American. (But then again, so is gratuitously mocking other peoples' religious convictions.)

So what's the answer? Too bad Stone & Parker can't put their prodigious talents to work to illustrate the following precept: "Our decision not to show Mohammed ISN"T because we're scared; it's because of our respect for the genuinely held beliefs of the many good Muslims throughout the world."

The problem is -- how could we possibly say it so that our enemies would believe it?

Oh, and one more thing: One can only hope that all the people supporting South Park are likewise supporting the war in Iraq. Because any "courage" being shown by Stone/Parker is dwarfed by that of the soldiers fighting to secure their rights to be politically incorrect. Let's hope we're all using that freedom wisely.


Bit by bit, we're getting the bad guys.

Lewis: Minority-Maker?

The Wall Street Journal rightly excoriates Rep. Jerry Lewis, the GOP's spender in chief, for refusing to go along with even modest reforms that would start repairing the GOP's much-battered reputation for being the party of small(er) government.

"Big Love" = Big Mess

I've been annoyed with "Big Love" -- the HBO drama about the polygamist -- since it came on for a number of reasons, not least because the last thing any of us needs is another elite media depiction of religion as an alien force that makes people engage in odd and rather inexplicable behaviors.

But the show is deeply misogynist, too, as Wendy Dennis points out in a wonderfully incisive piece.

Stop the Second-Guessing

That's the message in this piece from the always-excellent Victor Davis Hanson.

What we need, then, are not more self-appointed ethicists, but far more humility and recognition that in this war nothing is easy. Choices have been made, and remain to be made, between the not very good and the very, very bad. Most importantly, so far, none of our mistakes has been unprecedented, fatal to our cause, or impossible to correct.

So let us have far less self-serving second-guessing, and far more national confidence that we are winning — and that radical Islamists and their fascist supporters in the Middle East are soon going to lament the day that they ever began this war.

It's particularly disheartening to read about generals and the like who seem ready with the criticism of what has been done, but seem to offer little in the way of guidance about what should be done -- people like Anthony Zinni, former head of US Central Command. Interestingly, yesterday in an interview (transcript at Radioblogger), Hugh Hewitt interviewed General Thomas McInerney, the retired assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, formerly director of the Defense Performance Review, and the founder of Government Reform Through Technology, GRTT. General McInerney had this to say:

HH: General, what do you make of the fact that in recent days, Major General John Batiste, and retired Marine Corps General Greg Newbold, Army Major General Paul Eaton, Marine Corps General Zinni have all spoken out against the Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, and portions of the war. Are you surprised by this?

TM: Well, I don't know. I haven't heard Batiste. I've heard Zinni's comments, or read Zinni's comments. I've read Greg Newbold. I'm on a board with Greg. I'm somewhat surprised, but when I read their comments, I'm embarrassed for them. For instance, Zinni wants stability in the region. He says it's not an ideology we're fighting. Hugh, we are fighting an ideology as bad as Communism, Nazism and Facism. It's Islamic extremism. That is our problem there. If General Tony Zinni doesn't understand that, who I used to have great respect for, and he was the commander of Central Command, I think we're in deep trouble.

One more point: There's been a lot of criticism of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Maybe some of it is justified; a lot of it isn't. One thing to keep in mind, however -- and which the MSM rarely mentions -- is the fact that anyone who (like Secretary Rumsfeld) comes in and tries to reform a bureaucracy (and yes, the Pentagon is a bureaucracy) is going to make enemies within that bureaucracy. The trick is separating justified criticism from score-settling.

Veterans for Freedom

This op/ed is a must read. It's from a veteran of the Iraq war, who served two tours of duty before being wounded.

Contrary to what a lot of politicians would have you believe, he notes, troop morale is high -- no thanks to those who have been claiming to speak on their behalf.

Here's the conclusion:

The morale of the trigger-pulling class of today's fighting force is strong. Unfortunately, we have not had a microphone or media audience willing to report our comments. Despite this frustration, our military continues to proudly dedicate itself to the mission at hand: a free, democratic and stable Iraq and a more secure America. All citizens have a right to express their views on this important national challenge, and all should be heard. Veterans ask no more, and they deserve no less.

It's a must-read.