Carol Platt Liebau: September 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

That's Some Shower Gift!

My Townhall column discusses Hillary's new idea for the federal government to present every new baby with $5,000 in taxpayer money. Read it here.

Rudy's Constituency -- and Opponents

That Clinton Cackle

Everybody seems to have noticed -- pieces in by Leonard Doyle in the Independent and by Joan Vennochi in the Boston Globe talk about Hillary's new strategy of deploying a belly laugh to deflect tough questions.

The idea is a good one -- a laugh can be disarming. But the problem for Hillary is that the ploy has become so transparent that everyone understands that it's all strategy and no authenticity. That's why it's hard not to be skeptical when liberals talk about Hillary like she's the smartest politician and woman known to mankind.

What is even the best technique worth when the person employing it so clearly reveals its artifice?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

No Newt in the Field

Newt Gingrich won't be running for President. Actually, that's probably a good thing, given his polarizing status among the electorate and his occasional, self-inflicted political wounds (remember that whole business about his having to ride in the back of Air Force One?).

Even so, Gingrich is by far the most brilliant, articulate and visionary conservative in public life today, and his strategic instincts are excellent. It will be interesting to see which of the presidential campaigns has the wisdom to take him on as a top advisor -- and/or which of the campaigns he chooses to support in such a role.

More on the Democrats' Disgrace

Over at Hugh Hewitt's site, Duane Patterson has linked to the disgraceful episode I referenced earlier this week.

It's worth pointing out how profoundly last week's events delineate the left's profound moral obtuseness. Its adherents have no problem hearing from -- and engaging in a supposed "dialogue" with -- an avowed enemy of America, responsible for the deaths of U.S. troops and for appalling treatment of certain of his own citizens. Yet it's perfectly all right to heckle and otherwise verbally abuse a distinguished American general and the nation's secretary of defense.

When I debated former California Democratic Party chairman Bob Mullholland last Wednesday on KABC, he admitted that he deemed George W. Bush a greater threat to world peace than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Seems his morally bankrupt world view is more generally shared on the left than any of us would like to acknowledge.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Reaching the Black Vote

Independent Women's Forum President Michelle Bernard has some valuable ideas on how Republicans can -- and should -- be reaching out for the African American vote.

It's understandable, though regrettable, that many Republicans simply take black support for the Democrats for granted. But it's important -- and right -- for Republicans to make an effort to show blacks that their party does, indeed, have a place and an agenda for them.

Too often, of course, Republicans interpret this as a mandate to talk about how many government benefits they'll give away and how much they support affirmative action. This view is unfortunate -- insulting to blacks and a betrayal of core conservative principles. Instead, as Bernard points out, there are ways to demonstrate where and how the priorities of African Americans are aligned with the beliefs of Republicans.

Those who dismiss all this as unimportant given that it's unlikely to result in any seismic shift in black support for the GOP would do well to remember that moderates and swing voters are turned off if the party creates the perception that it's profoundly uninterested in America's minority voters.

Lesson Learned?

Frederick Kagan explains why it would be a tragic mistake for America to accede to Democrats' calls to go back to an Iraq mission limited to "targeted strikes" against terrorist leaders and attempts to disgrace radical ideologies in the eyes of Muslims. The upshot:

It is not enough to persuade a Muslim population to reject al Qaeda's ideology and practice. Someone must also be willing and able to protect that population against the terrorists they had been harboring, something that special forces and long-range missiles alone can't do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Editorial Policy for Comments

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

After reviewing numerous, recently published and rejected comments, Carol and I have decided to adopt a tougher editorial policy towards comments. Publishing comments has always been at the discretion of blog management. Nastiness, name calling, sarcasm and bombast will lead to rejection. If you are not prepared to play nicely, find another game.

The contours of this policy will evolve through trial and error. The new policy will not necessarily apply to posts. At the same time, no one makes a reader view, or comment on, this blogsite. As the folk song goes: "If you don't like my peaches, don't you shake my tree."

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

How Precious

Apparently, Hillary Clinton is worried about her husband's dietary habits. Oh, please.

How Much is Your Child's Life Worth?

To Hillary Clinton -- at least at this point -- it isn't worth torturing a terrorist in order to find out where an imminent attack is taking place.

Of course, it's easy for Clinton to hold that position -- just as it's easy enough for people like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry to support tax increases for "the rich." The latter two have so much wealth that the incremental increases don't really matter. And Hillary Clinton -- as the wife of a former president -- really doesn't have to worry about her own, or her family's, safety should the unmentionable occur.

So Much for Supporting the Troops

Robert Byrd and Tom Harkin certainly can't credibly claim to "support the troops" -- not when they condone (and engage in) behavior like this.

Two Views of HRC's Chances

Interesting. Fred Barnes appears to believe that Hillary Clinton might be the easiest Democrat to beat, given her pronounced unlikeability.

But then Bill Kristol reports that, in last night's debate, Hillary Clinton came off as the only serious Democrat, and suggests that she might therefore be the toughest to beat.

It strikes me that Hillary's assets and problems ultimately cancel each other out. On the downside (for her, that is; the upside for America) she's widely disliked and would, indeed, probably hurt down-ticket candidates in certain districts. There's also the "Clinton fatigue" factor, and the existence of numerous old scandals. But one can't overlook the strength of the Clinton machine, its partisans' willingness to play as dirty as they need to, and the MSM's penchant for softpedaling Clinton peccadilloes, everywhere from fundraising to the bedroom.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How Quickly Things Change

Just when Democrats finally hoped they had President Bush and the GOP over a barrel when it comes to the Iraq war, things have changed, thanks mostly to the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.

The Democratic presidential contenders are backtracking on earlier promises to end the war immediately upon taking office, and the president's request for additional funds for the war put the Democrats in a difficult place anew.

That's because either they go ahead and provide the requested funding -- thereby alienating the ascendant wing of the Democrats -- or they once again try to attach conditions to the funding. Given that there's not a veto-proof majority for such an approach, it will do nothing but highlight once again for anti-war voters the Democrats' complete impotence and/or incompetence, and remind the majority of Americans (who are, in fact, in favor of winning the war) why their party can't be trusted to take national security matters seriously.

No Clinton-Obama Ticket?

Roger Simon opines that Barack Obama will not be chosen as Hillary Clinton's VP, even though doing so would be consistent with the tradition of the nominee choosing a strong runner-up as a running mate in order to unify the party.

One of the reasons to which Simon refers is the "rule of firsts" -- it might be too much to have the first woman and the first African-American on a national ticket together. He could be right about that -- as well as in his suspicion that Clinton will be reluctant to have a ticket-sharer more charismatic than she.

But there are two other additional factors he doesn't mention. One is that Obama's race -- which on a Republican ticket could be a plus -- really does nothing to help Clinton. She's already got the African American vote in the bag, and if she's looking to reach out to an ethnicity, it would likely be Hispanics by choosing Bill Richardson (who would also be helpful in the crucial state of New Mexico).

Simon's on safe ground betting that in the end, Hillary will probably go with a white male. But here's another consideration: All those listed have been around for a while, and have obvious flaws.

If Hillary were smart, she would choose a retired general -- which would go a long way to assauge the public's concern about her anti-military bias and address worries about the prospect of a female commander-in-chief. My guess is that Wesley Clark was being groomed for such a role (remember both Clintons promoting him in '04), until he imploded under the weight of his own weirdness.

But other generals are no doubt very much in the running, and happy to burnish their credentials for the Democrats by criticizing the war in Iraq -- at least until the surge started to turn things around.

Nobody's Fool

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be crazy, but he's nobody's fool. He courted American journalists at dinner during his stay in New York, hoping -- as the linked Time magazine article points out -- that they will "filter his speech and ideas for a wider American audience." Amazingly, it seems that journalists know they're being spun, but go along for the ride anyway.

Jon Friedman wonders what would have happened had journalists simply refused to cover Ahmadinejad as a first-rate newsmaker. But as all of us know, that wouldn't happen.

The prospect of getting a snappy sound-bite is like catnip to reporters, and apparently, no enemy of the United States is so repugnant that they will refuse his hospitality when there's the prospect of him saying something ratings-worthy. Here's a final, interesting snippet from Time's Richard Stengel, who attended the dinner along with other journalists and academics:

[Ahmadinejad] requests that we not ask questions, but make statements, so that he can react to them in a form of dialogue. The academics are not shy. (emphasis added)

But where, oh where, are the journalists? They're not "shy" with President Bush . . . surely they showed the same bravado to President Ahmadinejad?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

When Government Runs Health Care

For anyone who might even be considering the merits of single-payer health care (or the newest Hillary plan, which is the first step on that road), check out this piece.

New guidelines from Britain's National Health Service dictate that

doctors and midwives should recommend that women have their labour, where possible, in birthing pools instead of taking drugs for pain relief. They must also be warned of the dangers of pain-relieving epidurals.

Right. No "intervention" in childbirths unless absolutely necessary, because it's just too expensive. Thanks, but no thanks. Unbelievable -- the government telling a woman to forget the pain-killing drugs and just hop in a "birthing pool." It's like rolling medicine back to the early 20th century . . . the only difference is that, rather than not having the medical know-how to help laboring women, doctors will simply be instructed not to use it. Disgraceful.

An Alternate View of Columbia's Invitation

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Columbia and its President, Bollinger, may initially and principally be guided by the educational mission of bringing divergent viewpoints to the university.

This mission is not absolute. For example, there might be high educational value in the clinical results from a would-be speaker's experiments on unwilling human participants. I would expect that the moral aspects of such research would outweigh the educational benefit to be derived from discussing the results and that the speaker would not be invited and his research, not disseminated or used.

A university president should be able to handle this type of moral issue and should be answerable for his judgment to the university, its alumni and the larger community.

The Iran situation presents an additional issue. As was the case with Soviet officials, bringing Ahmadinejad to a forum like Columbia gives him a standing and legitimacy that encourage our enemies and discourage our friends, particularly those suffering persecution in the official's country or those fighting that country. That is a real issue, and it is separate from the moral concerns outlined above, as well as First Amendment rights that in any event don't apply to a visiting foreign official.

The national interests involved in the encourage/discourage issue lie beyond what a university president can see and should be expected to decide on his own. I would expect the president of a major university to identify this issue and to consult confidentially with the State Department regarding the effect of the invitation on our national interests. Private consultation avoids embarrassing our Government and escalating the politics involved. The Government's view should not be dispositive in whether the invitation is made; but, the Government retains the right and power to prevent the foreign official from making the speech.

In this case, the Government declined to block Ahmadinejad's appearance, so it is unlikely to have been very detrimental to our national interests. But, the reported facts also suggest Columbia failed to consult with the Government in advance. That to me evidences poor judgment and perhaps bad faith on the part of the Dean who extended the invitation, as well as of Bollinger in not articulating a process for making such invitations.

In light of the State Department's declining to block the appearance, I can't get too worked up over the invitation, but we should expect more from our major institutions of learning and those who lead them.

"Racism" in Two Different Eras

Shelby Steele writes movingly of the courage of the young people who integrated Little Rock schools half a century ago -- and the larger meaning of the whole ugly episode for American society.

The contrast between the dignity of those children and what's happening now in Jena couldn't be greater. For too many black leaders, "civil rights" has gone from ensuring that every citizen, regardless of skin color, is assured equal opportunity to achieve and live the American dream to defending and even glorifying six African American boys who viciously beat a white boy.

Don't get me wrong -- the noose-hanging and other racist behavior on the part of the whites in Jena was inexcusable, reprehensible and can't be condemned in strong enough terms. And if, as Clarence Page writes, whites had gone free for the same kind of attacks that led to attempted murder charges against the six black youths, that, too, is worthy of the utmost condemnation.

No one could (or should) disagree with citizens of all races speaking out against the administration of justice when there's disparate treatment on account of race. There is no excuse for that kind of injustice.

But what is disturbing is to see the thuggish youths elevated to celebrity status, dubbed "the Jena 6" (as though they're illegitimate political prisoners) rather than to hear people calling for the prosecution of white youths who behave in the same thuggish manner.

In other words, a protest that calls for the punishment of guilty whites, as well as blacks, is absolutely legitimate. Protest that demands that youths who've engaged in criminal behavior be set free is not.

Transparency is Key

Investors Business Daily explains why George Soros' Open Society Institute constitutes a threat to democracy.

The key is transparency -- OSI manipulates issues and coverage of them behind the scenes, so that the public is led to belief that carefully planned and compensated ideological campaigns are "grassroots" or "spontaneous" when in fact they are not.

No one should be objecting to OSI having a voice in the public debate, so long as it's doing so legally. Rather, the issue is analogous to that of the biased coverage of much of the MSM -- having certain political beliefs and convictions is okay, but at least be honest enough with the public to admit them openly.

Winning the Propaganda War

Thanks to the credulity of Columbia's administration, the Islamic Republic News Agency is able to report this morning that President Ahmadinejad received a "standing ovation" for his speech.

How naive can Lee Bollinger be? Of course, his "tough questions" haven't been covered in Ahmadinejad's part of the world, and they won't be. All the people of the Middle East will hear is that a prestigious American university willingly opened its podium to their terrorist-sponsoring, Islamofascist, American-soldier-killing President -- and that he was greeted with applause.

Way to go, Columbia. BTW, has anyone asked Columbia alum Barack Obama what he thinks of this matter?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Driving the KosKidz Krazy

If this story is true, it will make the radical left in this country angry enough to spit nails.

Bill Sammon reports that President Bush is quietly advising top Democratic presidential contenders in an effort to help them preserve the credibility that would be required to continue to prosecute the war in Iraq. The President recognizes that there's a difference between being a candidate, and then winning the office -- and having to make the tough decisions that come with it. As a result, he's reaching out to ensure that there will be continuity (and hopefully, some sanity) even under a Democratic president.

It will be interesting to see how forcefully Clinton, Obama et al repudiate this story -- because, of course, they will be required to by the nutty netroots that have increasingly come to dominate the party. Too bad, too -- to the extent that either of them are willing actually to listen to the President, it would be heartening sign that they understand that the war is an American security matter, not a partisan one.

Moral Decay on the Left

There is no limit to the perversity of those afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome. Taking "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" reasoning to new depths, a self-described "Jewish lesbian" over at Daily Kos writes admiringly about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (HT: Hugh Hewitt).

She writes:

There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy. Even still, I can’t help but be turned on by his frank rhetoric calling out the horrors of the Bush Administration and, for that matter, generations of US foreign policy preceding.

In other words, Ahmadinejad's rhetoric denouncing the United States in general, and President Bush in particular, more than compensates for those nasty little facts about his behavior (she forgot to mention his role in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq). The writer concludes with this paen:

Monday, when Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University in New York, I’ll be listening. Maybe with a bottle of wine and some soft music playing in the background. If I can get past the fact that, as a Jewish lesbian, he’d probably have me killed, I’ll try to listen for some truth.

The "truths" Ahmadinejad outlined include the following (more here):

—On Holocaust deniers:

My question was simple: There are researchers who want to approach the topic from a different perspective. Why are they put into prison? Right now, there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust or research it from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it. My question is: Why isn't it open to all forms of research?

—On executions of homosexuals in Iran:

In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that like in your country. ... In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this.

Truths, indeed. The left in America wouldn't recognize a moral truth if it hit them in the face.

Occam's Razor

Michael Tomasky expands on the new leftist/revisionist view of why Hillarycare failed the first time around:

Paul Starr was one of the Clinton administration's leading healthcare reform experts. Writing in The American Prospect, he argues convincingly that conservatives and Republicans were set against allowing the Clintons to pass any healthcare reform "because if it succeeded, it might renew New Deal beliefs in the efficacy of government, whereas a defeat of the health plan could set liberalism back for years".

Please. Hillarycare failed because Americans were -- rightly -- concerned about socializing 1/7 of the U.S. economy. Think of the compassion of the IRS combined with the efficiency of the post office . . . and then imagine that bureaucratic combination making your healthcare decisions. It wasn't some kind of vast, right wing ideological conspiracy that doomed Hillarycare -- it was common sense.

But how revealing that Starr and Tomasky would seize on this theory. It tells a lot about the liberal mindset, where everything is about ideological struggle. Sometimes, guys, it's just an occam's razor thing. The simplest explanation really is the best. And the simple explanation here is that Hillary's (first) big government health care plan was no good.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Damning Admission

The New York Times violated its own policies to run the indefensible ad trashing General Petraeus.

Don't expect any of the Democratic presidential candidates -- who refuse even to debate on the supposedly biased Fox News Channel -- to denounce what used to be considered "the newspaper of record"'s decision effectively to subsidize a radical left political group.

Not So Rosy for the Dems?

As Hugh Hewitt points out, a Romney candidacy might well put Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota in play for the Republicans.

This Washington Post piece reports that Mayor Giuliani does better in key congressional Democratic swing districts than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

The upshot? Despite the MSM drumbeat about a Democratic sweep and premature lefty triumphalism, when the rubber meets the road, next year's presidential election is still very much in play. Of course, it's going to be a tough race unless it's already become evident that repeated Democratic push for defeat in Iraq is unnecessary and, indeed, dangerous.

But in light of developments in Iraq, the low approval ratings of the Democratic Congress, and the trends noted above, any lefty would be foolish to consider the presidential race to be in the bag.

Columbia, The Propaganda Tool

This piece indicates that, predictably, Ahmadinejad is using his speech at Columbia as a propaganda tool. His invitation to speak there is being spun as a hunger on the part of Americans for "correct and clear information about global developments," which he, presumably, will provide.

Congratulations to Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger -- he's just allowed his university to be used as a propaganda tool by one of the world's most despicable regimes.

Perhaps one of the "tough questions" he might ask Ahmadinejad is this: Will Ahmadinejad encourage one of Iran's universities to permit President Bush to deliver a speech there, offering "correct and clear information about global developments"? I wouldn't hold my breath.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Like Lemmings?

For those who have long suspected that global warming alarmism is nothing more than the newest effort in some quarters to consolidate government's power over ordinary Americans' lives, this Investors Business Daily piece should be of particular interest.

The government's global warming alarmist in chief was once offering dire predictions of a pending ice age. That was, of course, the consensus -- at the time.

What the entire episode points out is the malleability -- and often, the inaccuracy -- of scientific "consensus" about the future. It also suggests that there are some people who are willing to buy into whatever cataclysmic scientific theory is in vogue during any given era.

An Error-Plagued Campaign

Fred Thompson's campaign has been plagued with errors. Some are relatively minor -- invoking the Tennessee Titans in New Hampshire, promising to attend a long-cancelled debate. But they're troubling, because they seem to add up to a picture of a candidate who either hasn't done his homework, or isn't paying attention.

What's more, Thompson's fundraising numbers allegedly are not what he would wish -- it's predicted he'll come in third behind Giuliani and Romney. If that's the case, it seems that the Republican electorate is signalling that all the MSM hype about Republicans frantically seeking a "conservative alternative" because of dismay with their other choices has been just that . . . hype.

Who Deserves a Platform?

This AP piece deals with the controversy surrounding Columbia's invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It begins with the question:

Is a college campus a place for all views to be aired, or are some public figures too extreme to deserve the platform?

The inquiry is a silly one. Of course some public figures are too extreme to deserve the platform -- it goes without saying that the Grand Dragon of the KKK, or Adolf Hitler (if he were still alive), or other similar types would never be invited to present their views at Columbia, and that's as it should be.

So then the inquiry becomes a matter of which figures are deemed too extreme by general social consensus. Underlying a lot of the discussion of the issue, especially by those on the right, is an objection not only to the fact that an avowed enemy of this country and a notorious anti-Semite is being offered a prestigious lectern -- but the fact that universities speak sanctimoniously about free speech, but it only seems to run one way . . . to the left.

Remember Stanford rejecting the Reagan Library? Or SMU's protests about the proposed Bush library? Other examples abound.

It's instructive -- and sad -- to realize that most of America's campuses would probably give a more cordial welcome to someone like Ahmadinejad than to George W. Bush. It tells you everything you need to know about the academy's perverse political commitments.

Update: A Columbia dean has insisted that Columbia would invite Hitler to speak. Given the university's resistance to ROTC, it's a remarkable admission that the leader of the Holocaust is more welcome than a military recruiter. What the comment does highlight is the apotheosis of moral relativism -- exemplifying the lazy reasoning that concludes with comments like "who are we to decide who can and cannot speak?"

Apparently, some in our society have abdicated the responsibility to decide that there are some views and some people who are so repugnant, so entirely wrong -- for today, yesterday and always -- that they do not deserve the honor of standing before the lectern at one of America's most venerable universities. People at Columbia don't seem to understand that there's a distinction between being "judgmental" and the act of actually exercising judgment.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?

What's evident from Howard Kurtz's coverage of the Dan Rather case is that the former anchor is more than slightly weird. Who else would file a case that revealed him as nothing more than an empty suit given to self-promoting fibs (i.e. that he stepped down at CBS of his own accord)?

A telling detail is that he insists that he hired a team to pursue a case against CBS "out of his own pocket." Well, who else would hire one for him? Sounds like the empty suit in question has lived such a well-comped life that having to meet his own expenses is noteworthy, doesn't it?

Hewing to the Moveon Line

Remarkably, there are apparently Democrats in the US Senate who think it's A-OK to call General Petraeus a liar -- presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd, among others, opposed a sense of the Senate measure repudiating Moveon's scurrilous attack on General Petraeus. Barack Obama declined to go on the record one way or another, and Joe Biden cut a similar profile in courage. Over at Hugh, Duane Patterson has provided the whole sorry roll call.

All through the Petraeus hearings, senators like Barbara Boxer kept assuring everyone of how much she "respected" General Petraeus . . . right before she essentially called him a liar. So which is it -- do you respect him, or is he a liar? There was always the chance that it was both . . . most Democrats obviously respect Bill Clinton, who's notorious for his struggles with telling the truth. But those who refused to denounce an ad essentially calling Petraeus a traitor have made it clear that all their talk about "respect" was nothing more than lip service. So much for Democratic claims to "support" the military.

Repeatedly (here and here for example), this blog has noted that the Democrats simply don't take the war on terror -- the main front on which is the war in Iraq -- seriously. This vote is nothing more than another appalling example.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Iranians and Universities

It was repugnant enough when Harvard rolled out the crimson (as it were) carpet for former Iranian President Khatami.

But his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- terrorist supporter, Holocaust denier -- is even worse, yet he is being hosted by Columbia University, as Bill Kristol points out.

Both Harvard and Columbia apparently have no problem extending every courtesy to America's enemies. Yet the military is unwelcome on both campuses.

Is there a clearer example of the corruption of our nation's academy?

The Serious Party

Which party is serious about terrorism and which isn't was back on display yesterday in the US Senate. Most Democrats want to endow terrorist suspects with rights in federal court -- most Republicans don't.

Democrat Patrick Leahy opines that the law passed last year by the Republican Congress, which denies terrorist suspects the right to challenge their detention in American federal court, is "whittling away our civil liberties." Hardly. "Civil liberties" aren't being taken away from anyone with a legitimate legal claim to them. The only people who are not being treated to the whole panoply of the legal rights extended to American citizens are terrorist suspects from other countries.

So unless there's something Senator Leahy hasn't told us, there's no threat whatsoever to his own civil liberties or those of people like him.

Look Who's Talking . . .

Chutzpah alert: Hillary Clinton's political team is planning to dig up dirt about Rudy Giuliani's personal life.

That's a rich one. Isn't she the same person who inveighed against the politics of personal destruction? Isn't she the one who has covered up and ignored some pretty sleazy details in her own husband's personal life -- not to mention being the subject of some pretty appalling rumors herself?

Doesn't her willingness to go after Rudy put all these matters back on the table?

Just One More Reason

The current tattoo craze confounds me. Why people would want to have dye injected into their bodies -- and think they can improve on God's handiwork by permanently decorating themselves -- is hard to understand.

Here's one more reason that tattooing isn't just unattractive -- it could be dangerous.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Dan Rather is suing CBS for $70 million.

Whoever gave Rather legal advice that this case had merit has some explaining to do. In order to support his dubious legal claims of breach of contract and fraud, he's done more to demean his own image than CBS has -- as the linked piece points out, in his legal filings, Rather portrays himself as a patsy who was nothing more than the lapdog of the network. If that's the case, then Rather's carefully crafted persona as a hard-charging journalist was nothing more than ridiculous posturing. If it's not, then he's lying in order to win lots of money from CBS.

Remarkably absent from any of this is any sense that Rather takes any responsibility for what he's said and done on the air. It's a sad, but perhaps all too revealing, insight into the state of MSM "journalism" today.

The Race Bait

Jesse Jackson has accused Barack Obama -- who he's endorsed -- of acting "too white." Of course, Barack Obama's refusal to follow Jesse Jackson into the land of racial politics, all the time may explain why he's being taken seriously as a presidential candidate in a way that Jackson never was.

Even so, the problem with efforts to politicize race in this country leads to inconsistency on the part of everyone who tries to do so. Despite the fact that Obama has refused to play the race card with Jackson's lack of subtlety, his supporters are complaining that the Congressional Black Caucus is trying to help Hillary Clinton. So race apparently does matter -- at least in some contexts -- to the Obama supporters.

Wouldn't it be better to eliminate these contradictions by just encouraging black Americans not to make electoral decisions on the basis of race?

Don't count on it any time soon. The Democrats will continue to inject race into American politics, and here's why. The black vote is the base of their electoral strategy, and they'll say and do whatever it takes to keep that vote solidly in their corner.

The Real Economic Story

Dick Cheney sets the record straight about the economic successes of the Bush administration, in response to some of the reporting about Alan Greenspan's comments.

Watching the interview of Greenspan on Sunday night's "60 Minutes," I was surprised at how disdainfully Greenspan referred to every president he'd worked with besides President Clinton. He essentially called President Ford dumb but nice, and characterized President Reagan as having only, in essence, a "certain kind" of intelligence.

He criticized President George HW Bush for having tried to politicize the Federal Reserve, but then himself had no qualms about serving as an economic adviser to the Clinton team. The difference, perhaps, was that the first President Bush criticized Greenspan, while Clinton flattered him.

Could that, and his status as MSMer Andrea Mitchell's husband, explain much of his sweet words for Bill (and even Hillary) Clinton?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Troubling Signs

If this doesn't keep you awake tonight, nothing will.

It will be interesting to see if, during the hearings for the Attorney General nominee, Democrats profess more concern about news like the above -- or more worries about the supposed erosion of civil liberties in the war on terror.

The NY Times' In-Kind Donation?

Congressman Davis is demanding hearings to determine whether The NY Times' discounted rate for the General Betray Us ad constitutes a violation of campaign finance laws.

Wonder how the Times feels about its support for such laws now? How unimaginably sad that a once-great newspaper could potentially be "busted" for illegally contributing to a political campaign.

It's Not Vietnam, Stupid

Mark Moyar, an expert on Vietnam, explains why the analogies being offered by Democrats between the Iraq and Vietnam wars rest on an ignorance of history and a fundamental misconception of a commander's role.

Moyar points out the obvious: If an army thinks it will lose, it will lose. It's not deception or a pernicious optimism that leads generals to emphasize the positive; it's a basic understanding of human psychology.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bipartisanship, Democratic Style

Didn't take long, did it? After President Bush chooses a nominee for Attorney General that's designed to please the Democrats, Senators Leahy and Schumer threaten to hold up his confirmation anyway, until they get some documents they've been seeking.

One can only hope that President Bush really wanted Judge Mukasey for AG. Otherwise, it must be deeply disappointing to be stuck with a confirmation headache for someone that wasn't really his first choice. At that rate, he could have stuck with Ted Olson.

Coming next? The Democrats threaten not to confirm the nominee unless and until he promises to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the US attorneys non-scandal.

General Hillary


All About Oil?

Contrary to some of the breathless headlines circulating yesterday, Alan Greenspan did not say that America had gone to war with Iraq for oil. Rather, as Bob Woodward writes, he clarified that although the administration had other motives for the war, securing Iraq's oil was essential to the world economy.

Is there any grown up that this surprises? Of course, if one has a madman sitting atop one of the world's big oil supplies, it's a problem for the world economy. And perhaps those who highmindedly denounce considering oil as part of any military calculation or strategic plan would prefer to walk to work, or maybe lose their job as the American (and global) economy collapses.

Our dependence on oil may not be what we'd all wish (and would be alleviated if liberals would permit America to tap some of its own vast oil resources). But that's the way it is right now, and it's childish and naive to deny it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Real Priority

Hillary Clinton is offering a $110 billion per year health plan.

All well and good, but it strikes me that the best way to ensure that Americans remain healthy is to provide some strong leadership and meaningful protection from terrorist attacks.

Democrats Lose the "Patriot" Game

Here is my Townhall column.

The Mukasey Pick

It's being reported that the President will nominate Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General.

It will be interesting to learn more about Judge Mukasey. Chuck Schumer's endorsement is hardly a reason for confidence -- but that could be explained away by the fact that the nominee comes from his home state. What's more troubling is that he was on the left wing Alliance for Justice's approved list for a Bush Supreme Court nomination.

Even so, there's some reason for hope if the information in Judge Mukasey's wikipedia entry is correct. He's a Giuliani supporter, and donated to Joe Lieberman's Senate campaign -- so at least there's hope he will have some sensible views on the war on terror.

What's more, given their previous endorsements, if Judge Mukasey ends up sounding very reasonable indeed (from a conservative perspective, that is), it may be difficult for Schumer and the Democratic interest groups to smear him, given their earlier endorsements. And it would be amusing, if nothing else, to watch Alliance for Justice forced to defend one of their Supreme Court picks as other radical groups, like Moveon.Org, attack Mukasey. Internecine warfare . . . mmmm, delicious.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No "Sister Souljah" Moment Here

Froma Harrop understands the danger that radical groups like have done -- and do -- to the Democratic Party, and urges Dems to orchestrate a "Sister Souljah" moment with the left.

Good luck to her. The Democrats, hungry for a counterpart to talk radio for the right, have fostered and built a netroots movement that now threatens their chances for power in the future. With their cowardly refusal to repudiate's despicable attacks on General Petraeus, Democratic politicians pegged themselves as weak on defense a la the McGovernite years.

Even they realize that isn't good politics. But apparently they felt they had no choice. Worse yet, because they didn't curb the excesses of their left wing when they still could -- because its Bush hatred, they figured, would motivate some voters to get to the polls -- they've now lost the chance. And they have no one to thank but themselves.

Like Sunni, Like Shiite

In a development that will no doubt disappoint far too many Democrats, Shiite sheiks in Iraq have expressed interest in forging alliances with the US military, much as the Sunnis already have done.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Why Conservatives Like Giuliani

Steve Huntley remarks on the fact that Rudy Giuliani's poll numbers have held steady for some time now, surprising opinion leaders in the commentariat who expected GOP voters to reject him because of his social liberalism.

In Huntley's view, conservatives like Rudy because he's tough on terror and because they think he has the best chance of winning. These may be some of the necessary preconditions for Giuliani being a conservative's choice, but that's not all there is to it. As I noted here, there are a number of other reasons why conservatives can find a lot to like in a Giuliani candidacy.

At the heart of Rudy's appeal is the sense that he has the guts not to pander to the forces of left-wing political correctness -- and he just doesn't care if The New York Times doesn't like it. Whether it's questioning the sanity of a ferret lover, returning a Saudi prince's $10 million after he challenged American foreign policy, or ejecting Yasser Arafat from Lincoln Center, one simply can't help admiring his refusal to conform his behavior to the "sensitive," pandering model beloved by elite liberal opinion. Plus, he's funny.

HIs complete indifference to his standing among the liberal elites is rare in a politician -- whatever his party. Too often, conservative voters suspect that even those who share many of their views are secretly concerned about what The Times or The Post will say. In fact, this sense is one of the many factors in John McCain's diminished standing among the presidential aspirants.

With Mayor Giuliani, his willingness -- and ability -- to take on the press with humor and elan, even as he shrugs off the tsk tsking of elite opinion, is perhaps the most pronounced characteristic he shares in common with the one and only Ronald Reagan.

The Real Battle of Iraq

Discussing the impact of General Petraeus' appearance on Capitol Hill, Charles Krauthammer hits the nail squarely on the head:

His testimony, steady and forthright, bought him the time to achieve his "realistic chance" of success. Not the unified, democratic Iraq we had hoped for the day Saddam Hussein's statue came down, but a radically decentralized Iraq with enough regional autonomy and self-sufficiency to produce a tolerable stalemated coexistence between contending forces.

That's for the longer term and still quite problematic. In the shorter term, however, there is a realistic chance of achieving a separate success that, within the context of Iraq, is of a second order but in the global context is of the highest order -- the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Having poisoned one country and been expelled from it (Afghanistan), al-Qaeda seized upon post-Hussein instability to establish itself in the very heart of the Arab Middle East -- Sunni Iraq. Yet now, in front of all the world, Iraq's Sunnis are, to use the biblical phrase, vomiting out al-Qaeda. This is a defeat and humiliation in the extreme -- an Arab Muslim population rejecting al-Qaeda so violently that it allies itself in battle with the infidel, the foreigner, the occupier.

Humiliating, indeed.

A Little Bit of Grit

In the wake of Madeleine L'Engle's death, Megan Cox Gurdon notes how L'Engle's classic "A Wrinkle in Time" was infused with Christian faith that impacts its young readers whether they realize it at the time or not.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An AG "Above Partisan Politics"?

Ronald Cass explains why the new Democratic call for an Attorney General who is "above politics" is so specious. It pretty much lays to rest the arguments made by a reader in the comments to this post.

The Counter Ad

Here is Rudy Giuliani's ad responding to's despicable attack on General Petraeus.

Bravo to the Mayor for demanding The New York Times offer the same discounted rate it provided to the left wing group. As I noted here, it's a great way to smoke out once again the Times' liberal bias . . . as if it weren't painfully plain for all to see.

Don't Look Now, But . . .

UC Irvine's Shame

Hugh Hewitt has been commenting on UCI's disgraceful conduct toward law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, most recently with this post.

I don't know the professor personally, but I've had the opportunity to interview him when guest hosting "The Hugh Hewitt Show," and he's quite obviously a brilliant man, even though his views are decidedly those of the left. His horn book on constitutional law is a staple for law students, and friends of mine who took his class at USC have nothing but high praise for the excellence and impartiality of his teaching.

If it would be wrong for UCI to mistreat a well-qualified conservative, it's just as wrong for it to behave as it has toward Chemerinsky, an eminently qualified choice to lead its law school.

Apparently the academy's cowardice is, at least occasionally, directed to the left as well as the right.

The Voice of Impartiality

Hardly, that is. The New York Times opposes Ted Olson's possible appointment of attorney general in part because he represented President Bush in Bush v. Gore.

Yet the paper runs pieces expressing shock, shock that anyone would look askance at lawyers representing terrorist detainees at Guantanomo. And imagine the outcry if Republicans opposed a Democratic AG pick because the putative nominee had representated a terrorist defendant or some other undesirable. The paper would be overflowing with platitudes about everyone's right to legal representation and a lawyer's duty to advocate on behalf of even the despised and unpopular.

It's revealing that for the Times, President Bush is apparently a more disreputable client than the kind of people who hope to kill all of us.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nanny State Nightmare

Even though it ran two days ago, it's impossible not to comment on this unbelievable story from the LA Times.

Apparently, the City Council is thinking of implementing "health zoning" -- that is, simply not permitting any more fast food restaurants to be opened in South LA (the former "South Central") for up to two years.

The people don't want them [fast food places], but when they don't have any other options, they may gravitate to what's there," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who proposed the ordinance in June, and whose district includes portions of South L.A. that would be affected by the plan.

The obtuseness of the comment boggles the mind -- and reveals a fundamental ignorance of how a capitalist economy works. The fact is that if any entrepreneurs had reason to believe that healthier "options" would attract customers and make money, they'd flock there. And forbidding new fast food restaurants will do nothing either toprevent the ones there presently from continuing to prosper or attract new, healthier eateries.

In any case, the proposal is fundamentally insulting. First, it presents the people of South LA as victims. What's more, it treats them like children, by suggestomg that the people in South Central -- where "Thirty percent of adults . . . are obese, compared with 20.9% in the county overall" -- won't or can't make the "right" (ie. government-preferred) choices for themselves or their offspring unless the government acts to take the fast food option off their plates, as it were.

Everyone knows, a steady diet of fast food is unhealthy and a poor idea -- but it's not the government's job to monitor what goes down the throats of the citizens who feed it with their tax dollars.

The Good News in Iraq

As General Petraeus has testified before Congress this week, Americans have been hard pressed to find MSM that will report on the progress the General and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have described. Luckily, this piece in The Wall Street Journal does. Here are some key passages:

The Iraqi government puts its cell phone spectrum up for auction: It nets a better-than-expected sum of nearly $4 billion. At a recent conference in Dubai, "hundreds of Iraqi businessmen met an equal number of foreign investors newly interested in acquiring shares of business in Iraq." Iraqi oil is now flowing out of the country via Turkish pipelines, and the International Monetary Fund predicts economic growth for Iraq of 6% this year.

In the vicinity of Abu Ghraib, 1,700 men--many of them former Sunni insurgents--have joined the Shiite-dominated Iraqi Security Forces. The Iraqi government is quietly offering jobs or retirement packages to thousands of former soldiers, many of them one-time members of the Baath Party. Significantly, it is doing so without taking the politically sensitive steps of declaring a general amnesty or enacting legislation on de-Baathification.


In his testimony, General Petraeus noted that violent civilian deaths have declined by 45% in Iraq and 70% in Baghdad. Car and suicide bombings are down by nearly 50% since March, another astonishing turnabout. Here, too, the good news comes from the least expected of places: Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders and many former insurgents have realized their best interests lie with the U.S. and a democratic Iraqi government in which they have a say, and not with al Qaeda. Critics claim this realization has nothing to do with the surge, but surely the tribal sheikhs would not risk fighting al Qaeda unless they believed the U.S. and Iraqi government had shown the will to stay and prevail.

Of course, only a fool would expect the Democrats to acknowledge any of this.
It's worth noting that the only consistent stand Democrats have taken on Iraq for several years now has been that anything President Bush does there is wrong. As Ann Coulter has astutely pointed out, Democrats once argued that there could be no political solution without national security. Now they argue the converse. The only common theme to all their talking points? America is messing things up.

Anyone can see why. It's because the Democrats, willingly or unwillingly, have become invested in effecting a humiliating defeat in Iraq. They understand that, for better or worse, their party has become the mouthpiece for pessimism and failure in Iraq -- and the only way to maintain their political standing is to make sure America is defeated there. Even at that, they probably will not be able to avoid being tarred with the McGovernite label of defeatism once again for the next generation . . . It will, perhaps, be a just punishment for having treated a war (and, by extension, the lives of our military men and women) as nothing more than a political chew toy.

Discounting the Gray Lady

For a long time, many have known that they should discount a lot of the agenda journalism in The New York Times. Now, it appears, the Gray Lady is discounting herself.

Confederate Yankee reports that it appears that the newspaper allowed to run a full page ad calling General Petraeus a traitor at 61% off! (HT: Newsbusters).

It's quite a contrast to the way that CNBC and MSNBC have treated Freedom Watch, a group supporting the war -- both networks refused to run their ads.

Is there anyone, anywhere who believes the Times would offer the same deal to, say, a pro-life group? Perhaps Freedom Watch -- and other conservative groups -- should seek the same discounted advertising space so generously provided to It would be interesting to see if The New York Times would grit its teeth and cut them the same deal it gave I wouldn't hold my breath.

Handing It Back

Hillary Clinton has announced that she will return all $850,000 bundled by the now notorious Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu.

It's often been said that character is how one acts when no one is looking. Does anyone believe that Hillary would have returned the money if there had been no press or blog scrutiny of her behavior?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Their True Colors

Democrats have refused to condemn's despicable attack on General Petraeus.

The next time Democrats accuse Republicans of challenging someone's "patriotism," let's remind everyone that it's their allies who smeared a four star general who has put his life on the line to protect America and his reputation on the line by undertaking to lead the military in Iraq when things were going poorly. His honor, of course, would prevent him from giving false and misleading testimony to Congress; how sad that Democrats would either ignore that last fact, or else can't understand it.

The very fact that Democrats feel forced to scramble to come up with a new political strategy on the war really says it all . . . to them, the war is simply a political matter, another area where it's appropriate to jockey for advantage.

Again, they can't seem to understand: Whether they like it or not, it's not just President Bush's war, or a Republican war. It's America's war -- and that's one fact they forget at their own risk.

Just Like Vietnam?

As the incomparable Norman Podhoretz points out, Vietnam and Iraq have very little in common -- except for the ugliness of the politics animating the left.

Remembering 9/11

The anniversary of 9/11 is, of course, a somber day. But Jonah Goldberg's column is most astute: Why, in the press, is it presented as appropriate to remember 9/11 only with sadness, while it's perfectly OK to remain outraged about, say, Hurricane Katrina?

Six years ago today, on a bright blue sky day like the one here in California, innocent Americans were senselessly murdered because Islamofascists hate this country and all it stands for. We went after them in Afghanistan -- and took on Iraq, because according to the best intelligence from around the world, Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction that could be passed on to terrorists like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, an Al Qaeda who had been given refuge in Iraq.

Today, al Zarqawi is dead, thanks to our efforts, and so is Saddam Hussein. We are fighting a difficult battle in Iraq, but there is reason for cautious optimism. Above all, the American homeland hasn't been attacked in six years -- a feat that few would have believed possible six years ago tomorrow.

Those are reasons for some grim satisfaction . . . and continued resolve not to make the deaths of those on 9/11 meaningless by forgetting the lesson that terrible day taught us. If there's a reason for sadness (apart from the loss of life) today, it's because so many -- especially in the Democratic Party -- have sought preemptive defeat in Iraq and effectively denounced the war on terror as nothing more than a bumper sticker slogan.

It sure didn't feel like a bumper sticker on 9/11/01, and it shouldn't be treated as one today. If any good at all can come from the attack six years ago, it should be that it hardened American resolve to fight the forces of aggression, hatred and tyranny, especially when they threaten our people.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Facts and the Statistics

As this piece in the Washington Post points out, General Petraeus' testimony about Iraq painted an "upbeat" picture, on the whole.

This is exactly what the Democrats feared, lest the American public decide -- contrary to the Dems' prognostications of doom -- that the war in Iraq isn't a lost cause after all. That's why they've tried to slime him by proxy in advance of his report.

The Democrats should be asked whether they repudiate's characterization of General Petraeus as a liar. As the Brookings Institute's Michael O'Hanlon -- no neocon he -- notes, General Petraeus is a straight shooter.

And he he's had good news to deliver. Former Army Staff Seargeant David Bellavia lays out the facts at a Washington Post blog:

From 28,400 Sunnis applying for security positions to the over 80% reduction in violent attacks in Anbar.

The news is good and the proof is in the report. With over 140 battalions of Iraqi army units in the fight, Iraq is spending more money on Iraqi than security than the US is spending on Iraqi security. . . .

Here is one statistic that can never be understated: 130%. That is the percentage of American warriors who are reenlisiting while at war.

But don't expect most Democrats to acknowledge the successes. Their political interests lie with defeat in Iraq and disillusionment at home, and they know it.

A Lot of Caveats

Stuart Rothenberg analyzes next year's Senate races, noting that the environment looks more promising for Democrats than Republicans.

But he hedges his bet with a lot of caveats

The best-case scenario for Republicans is that the presidential race is close, the Democrats' ticket both energizes Republican voters and frightens independents, and, for a variety of reasons (including the withdrawal of some U.S. forces from Iraq), voters return to their traditional voting patterns

and rightly so. Note that he contrasts the elections of 2006 with voters "traditional voting patterns." It seems that Rothenberg understands that 2006 was a year when voting were striving to show President Bush that they were seriously disturbed about the trends in Iraq (also rightly so). With steady progress in Iraq, including some troop withdrawals, there's reason for at least some guarded optimism that the public mood may improve over the next 14 months. What's more, the Democrats know it, which is why too many of them are too invested in trying to make Iraq a failure.

Indeed, if there's "too much" progress in Iraq, Republicans may credibly be able to claim that Democrats tried to force an unnecessary and dangerous defeat. Of all the presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton has seemed to be the most aware of this possibility, hedging her bets at every turn. But she energizes the Republican base as no one else does, her flip-flopping plays into the worst stereotypes about female commanders-in-chief -- and leave her open to charges that she's first and foremost interested in politics, not victory.

And if she put Barack Obama on the ticket (as many have speculated), some of his recent foreign policy gaffes (like this and these)are guaranteed to frighten independents -- and/or raise questions about Hillary's judgment.

An interesting question is whether Hillary would feel forced to pick Barack. Certainly, she doesn't need to worry about the African-American vote -- that's already in the bag for Democrats. But she might well need to throw a bone to her party's left wing, many members of which are frustrated and unhappy with the Dems' lack of progress in fulfilling its agenda.

Indeed, with all the careful attention being paid to the conservatives' supposed unhappiness with Republican presidential candidates, comparatively little has been written about what might happen with the lefties should a candidate presenting herself as a "moderate" win the nomination.

Of course, all of this -- Senate races and the presidential elections -- is speculation. November 2008 is still so far away that it's impossible to forecast the future with any clarity . . . which is why Rothenberg is quite right to be hedging his bets at this point.

All in the Genes?

This piece from AFP suggests that political orientation may, to some extent, be hard-wired.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Guy Really Gunning for Thompson?

Pundits are having a field day noting the various competitors Fred Thompson will have to best in order to win the Republican nomination. Sarah Baxter notes that Rudy Giuliani is gunning for him while Captain Ed notes that a challenge (and an opportunity) could come from Mike Huckabee. No doubt Mitt Romney's people are keeping a close eye on Thompson, as well.

But it strikes me that if anyone has a reason to really come after Thompson hard, it would be Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor has been getting some good buzz, and even a few mentions of a potential pairing as VP for one of the northeastern Republicans (ie Giuliani or Romney). Both Romney and Giuliani have good reason to want to Thompson gone, but neither can discount him as a very credible potential VP pick should they win the nomination, given the geographical balance (and longstanding conservative ideology) he would bring to the ticket. Therefore, while they may come after him hard, they may realize that they might well need him later.

In contrast, Huckabee knows that if Thompson holds either slot on the GOP ticket (President or VP), he's effectively out of luck. Whether that means he'll put more heat on Thompson than either Giuliani or Romney remains to be seen.

The Queen of Hearts Democrats

Remember the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland? She's the one who cried "Sentence first, verdict afterwards!"

That perfectly sums up the Democrats' approach to the Petraeus hearings this week. They want to pull out of Iraq [sentence] before they even bother to hear from an expert what the verdict on the surge is. As this piece by Pete Hegseth in the Weekly Standard points out, -- which is working closely with the Democratic leadership -- has already called General Petraeus a traitor. How interesting that the talking points (including the ritual condemnation of the Iraqis' political progress) have been written even before the evidence has been heard.

As Democrats -- or their surrogates -- come out and accuse the General of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Bush Administration, let's make sure they mean what they're saying. Are they really accusing General Petraeus, by all accounts a man of honor, of lying about the status of his mission, and willingly allowing his men's lives to be sacrificed in a cause where he's sure the U.S. cannot prevail?

Given poll numbers that indicate more Americans are becoming convinced that the surge is working, Democrat rhetoric is going to have to get stronger and nastier than before - -especially given how many political careers (and ambitions) have been staked on assurances that the war cannot be won. So as the rhetoric heats up, let's ask Democrats to be clear: To say what they mean, rather than resorting to euphemisms and roundabout ways of making serious and unsubstantiated charges in an effort to drive down American morale about the status of the war in Iraq.

As Senators Lieberman and McCain note, one can only hope that, somehow, the Democrats find the courage and the character to change their opinions about and approach to the Iraq war as the evidence warrants.

I'm tired, too

This is an upset guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Comedian Chris Rock said, "Everything white people don't like about black people, black people don't like about black people. It's like our own personal civil war. On one side, there's black people. On the other, you've got niggers. The niggers have got to go. I love black people but I hate niggers. I am tired of niggers. Tired, tired, tired."

I have been taking my six-year-old son to play chess at a public square. The players and passersby run the gamut from foreign tourists to crazy homeless people.

Today, a group of young black men gathered around one of the tables. The leader of the group was recounting his adventures, with every fifth word or so being "nigger". He used the term about himself, his listeners, those in his tale, and black people in general.

I don't use this repugnant word. I would not associate with someone who used it, and would kick out of my house any visitor who used it. To my knowledge, until today, my son never heard it.

There is a Jewish joke about a guy named Ginsburg. Every morning, Ginsburg checks the newspaper to see if he has won the lottery. Each time, he crumples the paper in anger and cries out to the Lord in frustration, "Oh, G-d, why can't you just once let me win the lottery?!" This goes on for years, until one day, G-d, with equal frustration, answers: "Ginsburg, meet me halfway: buy a ticket!"

Knuckleheads like the one in the square today complain that society fails to respect them. It is high time they bought a ticket, and high time the black community and society at large demanded they do so. Enough excuses. We're all tired.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Casualty of the Surge?

So Chuck Hagel is going to retire. It's hard for a lot of Republicans not to respond with an airy "good riddance." What the linked piece charitably refers to as a "maverick streak" often came off much more like sanctimony coupled with an excessive, preening self-regard.

As the piece notes, Hagel announced in March that he would announce whether he'd run for President later in the year. Now it turns out he won't. Hagel is, in some sense, a casualty of the surge. His vocal anti-Bush, anti-war stance is the only thing that offered him any hope of catching traction in a Republican presidential nominating contest -- and, of course, that gambit would work only if the situation in Iraq had continued to deteriorate so radically that the GOP was either in a panic at the prospect of nominating a stong-on-the-war candidate or the majority of its members had decided that the Iraq war was unwinnable.

Neither has happened, and a man with Hagel's ego isn't likely to want to enter a race where he'd become a second- or third-tier candidate. His evident presidential aspirations suggest that he was good and ready to leave the Senate. So taken together, it's curtains for Hagel, and for my money, not a moment too soon.

Krugman hatchet job

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Here are some excerpts from a Paul Krugman op/ed on Petraeus and the surge. My comments are in italics.

Krugman writes: "Gen. Petraeus has a history of making wildly overoptimistic assessments...[such as] claiming “tangible progress” in Iraq. Specifically, [just before the 2004 US elections] he declared that 'Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt,' that 'Iraqi leaders are stepping forward' and that 'there has been progress in the effort to enable Iraqis to shoulder more of the load for their own security.' A year later, he declared that “there has been enormous progress with the Iraqi security forces.'”

Petraeus writes balanced good news/bad news reports, as the reader can see for himself by googling these reports. By omitting Petraeus's qualifications and discussion of bad news, Krugman tries to manufacture, rather than report, overoptimism on Petraeus's part.

Krugman quotes a panel of retured generals as stating: "Iraqi military forces 'will be unable to fulfill their essential security responsibilities independently over the next 12-18 months.'”

Krugman doesn't bother to tell us how much weight the word "independently" carries in this context. It includes intelligence, logistical, artillery, airlift and air support capabilities. The fact is, Iraqi forces increasingly fight and fight hard. They are taking three times the casualites of US troops.

In arguing that the surge is not making life in Iraq safer, Krugman writes: "the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice its average pace from last year".

Krugman does not bother to explain why this is the relevant metric, since the surge only began in June and began with an expected upsurge in violence.
Krugman also does not explain why we should look at average daily death as opposed to a year-on-year comparison by month (e.g., August 2007 v August 2006). Krugman also does not discuss how to deal with statistical outliers like the day that including multiple car bombings that killed 500 Yahzdis in a single village .

I leave it to Carol to explain whether this kind of writing is typical of scholarship at her alma mater, Princeton, where Krugman holds tenure. The fact is, discussing what the US has done and should do in Iraq is serious business, and we should discuss it seriously. Krugman fails us on this count. He is a polemicist, and we should treat his views accordingly.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sympathy for What?

Ellen Goodman, strangely, expresses sympathy for Larry Craig. Remarkably, she seems to find it strange that gay rights groups haven't risen to Craig's defense. And it's true that Republicans might be tempted to join her in pointing out their perceived hypocrisy.

But wait a minute. Craig wasn't arrested for being gay. He was arrested for trying to arrange a sexual encounter in a public men's room in the Minneapolis airport -- a restroom that apparently was known as a rendezvous for this kind of behavior.

Even Goodman notes that "I don't want to send my grandson into a public restroom used for assignations." Indeed. Well, thank you for that concession, Ms. Goodman.

But then she goes on to insist that "There must be saner ways to keep a restroom from becoming a meeting ground, better than using a dubious law that shames men into pleading guilty for the same reason Craig did: humiliation and the fear of exposure."

Really? And what might those ways be? And shouldn't someone rightly fear humiliation and exposure when they enter a public space -- a space that's supposed to be decent and usable for everyone -- with the intent of engaging in sex there, gay or straight?

It's Academic

In this column, Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson denounce the outrageous behavior of both the prosecutor and the Duke faculty in the Duke lacrosse case.

It's interesting that, although Mike Nifong has become an objection of national scorn, we hear so little about the professors who just as eagerly jumped on an opportunity to ruin the lives of three innocent young men. Duke President Richard Brodhead -- who couldn't move fast enough to fire the lacrosse coach based only on the baseless allegations of the accuser -- hasn't, to my knowledge, had a word to say about the faculty's rush to (politically correct) judgment.

The entire incident highlights the profound pathologies that characterize American higher education. The mindless leftism of most professors combines with the cowardice of too many administrators (who themselves no doubt have taken the resignation of former Harvard President Larry Summers -- who dared to defy the herd mentality of the faculty lounge -- to heart) to create on college campuses an atmosphere of liberal intolerance and qualsi-totalitarian insistence on adherence to "accepted truths."

Culture of Corruption, We Hardly Knew Ye

This piece in The Washington Post notes that fugitive fundraiser Norman Hsu was on the Democrats' "A list."

So much for the Democrats cleaning up the "culture of corruption" they discussed so earnestly in the run up to the 2006 elections.

Clarification Needed

According to this piece, New York's annual Muslim Day Parade has been moved by its leaders from the last Sunday of September, when it's usually held, to Sunday the 9th, right before the sixth anniversary of 9/11. What's more, its grand marshal will be Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, whose history includes remarks like this.

Perhaps all of this is just a big coincidence, but Muslim leaders need to come out and make that clear. Otherwise, it looks suspiciously like the parade -- and its marshal -- are celebrating extremist, terrorist version of Islam, a far cry from the "religion of peace."

Message to the Surge-Success Deniers: "Yo mama"

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Here is an American Thinker article
describing the surge's success, as well as discussing the next phase.

I hope the article is right.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Shocking Statistics

The suicide rate among tween and teen girls has soared, according to new statistics from the CDC.

Experts are puzzled as to why that's the case. My belief is that the trend is attributable -- in part -- to the fact that in many cases, girls have been left adrift in the sea of a culture that is profounding unhealthy for them. The emphasis on looks and the constant sexual pressure that's become concomitant with girlhood is an enormous load to place on the shoulders of adolescent females.

The impact is one of the issues I address in my forthcoming book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)," due out November 1.

Lots O'Competition

On the evening the Republicans were debating, Fred Thompson announced his candidacy a la Arnold Schwarzenegger on "The Tonight Show." It will be interesting to see how his unconventional approach to running serves him -- have expectations simply been set too high, is he able to catch up in the fundraising derby, is his organization strong enough? At any rate, it's long past time that he actually put the gloves on and got going . . . now we'll finally have a chance to see what he's made of.

Bill Clinton, too, was holding forth -- in a canny bit of counterprogramming, CNN had him on during the Republican debate. It's the latest appearance in a media blizzard the Clintons have launhced . . . obviously, Clinton's new book is nothing more than a vehicle to allow him to seek media attention that can be spun as serving some other cause than his wife's political interests.

One senses that the Clintons are making a big run at re-establishing Hillary as the prohibitive favorite, in hopes that she can simply shut down the rest of the field at this relatively early stage despite some early enthusiasm for Barack Obama.

A "Hillraiser" for Hsu

So Democratic fundraiser (and "Hillraiser," who has pledged at least $100,000 to the Clinton campaign through "bundled" donations from others) Norman Hsu (pronounced "shoo") has disappeared. It's hard not to wonder when the MSM is going to ask Hillary's campaign why it has chosen to return only the direct donations this man made, while keeping the bundled donations.

Then again, it's been well known for some time that the Clintons can be "snug with a buck" (when it's "their" money, that is, rather than the taxpayers') . . . remember all those old stories about them claiming tax deductions for used underwear?

The Orphaned Iraqi Army

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

It is said that success has a thousand fathers, while failure is an orphan.

Here is an article by Paul Bremer explaining how and why the decision was made to disband the Saddam-era Iraqi army.

Bremer tries to pin paternity for this decision on a number of organizations and people, including coalition security advisor Walter Slocombe. Of course, the baby still looks most like Bremer.

I know Slocombe personally. He is undeniably brilliant (and almost as smart as the people who comment on these blogs).

Now, brilliant people make mistakes, and sometimes they do really dumb things. (Bill Clinton, anybody?)

What we should remember is that tough decisions are made on the margins. There isn't always one right choice, or even one good choice. When things don't go well, we look back on the road not taken and assume it was the better, hassle-free choice. We can fantasize in this manner because we don't have to deal with the consequences of that other choice.

Where Bush made mistakes was in not involving or listening to cultural/area experts in decision-making. He might still have made the same decision to disband the army, but would have been better informed of the potential consequences and been better prepared to mitigate the inevitable downsides of the decision.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Democratic View of the Military

Tonight, during my weekly debate on Al Rantel's radio show on KABC, my Democratic opponent dismissed General Petraeus' report before even hearing it, and essentially said that the General would simply mouth Bush Administration talking points about success in Iraq. "Petraeus is Arabic for Westmoreland," he insisted, referencing the Vietnam War general who was accused by CBS of misleading the public with false good news about the war.

That's a terrible slander on a good man. My opponent was effectively accusing General Petraeus of being willing to allow his own men to be killed simply to help the Bush Administration achieve its political objectives.

But hey, that's consistent with the Democratic view of the military in general. Just today, Charles Schumer made a despicable statement about the military's progress in Anbar (HT: Radioblogger):

[T]he violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda said to these tribes we have to fight al Qaeda ourselves. It wasn't that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here. And that is because there was no one else there protecting.

Get it? Schumer asserts that despite the incompetence of the US army, conditions are improving only because the tribes become desperate enough to work together -- that Iraqis were able to create peace where our fighting men and women abjectly failed.

No wonder the American people see Democratic politicians as largely anti-military. With a few honorable exceptions, they are.

Required Reading

After reading Frederick Kagan's brilliant evisceration of the fundamentally flawed GAO report, it's abundantly clear that the report should be -- and is being -- taken seriously only by those who (like Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership) are desperate for a reason to argue that the surge isn't working and Iraq is a failure.

It's going to be interesting to watch Democrats work to undermine the progress our splendid troops have made, as they seek desperately to force defeat in the war in order to save their own political skins.

"Destruction in Black America is Self-Inflicted"

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Here is an article entitled, "Destruction in Black America is Self-Inflicted".

The article calls to mind Matthew 7:5: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

I leave it to the reader to determine how the New Testament reference applies.

GOP, War and Election

This blog has speculated before on what might happen if there were a turnaround in Iraq, given that the Democrats have put all their political eggs in the basket of defeat.

As Tony Blankley points out, there could well be a substantial political shift in favor of the GOP, if it turns out that the progress in Iraq continues. And if that happens, voters may well see the Democrats as the party who tried to push the country toward a dangerous and unnecessary defeat, thereby reviving for a new generation the image of weakness that has quite rightly haunted Dems since Vietnam.

What's really noteworthy is the presence of another factor in Dems' political calculations. It's this: As also noted before on this blog, Dems have gone to lots of trouble to stoke the fevers of discontent among the netroots and elsewhere, thereby giving rise to what's essentially an angry mob likely to turn on any presidential candidate from the Dems who tries to form a "nuanced" (read: more hawkish) policy on Iraq to fit both the mood of the public and the facts, so long as the success of the surge continues.

Sensing a Threat?

Remarkably, the Boston Globe today publishes a story that might as well be a Democratic press release (and likely was).

Is it really newsworthy that the DNC is putting up an opposition web site to the Mitt Romney campaign? Surely a more interesting angle would be why they're focusing on Romney. Do they sense a particular threat from the Governor, and if so, why?

It's telling that the Globe -- no friend of Romney's -- would take the time to publish such a story, while The New York Times wouldn't dream in a million years of running an article discussing the proliferation of anti-Hillary web sites.

But that's the MSM for you. Fair and balanced . . . not.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Do the Right Thing, Senator Craig

This report that Larry Craig is reconsidering his resignation almost beggars belief.

Can he seriously be seeking a trial that would keep his behavior in the headlines -- and offer a reason for the MSM to explore in detail every allegation of Craig's homosexual conduct over the past years?

Certainly the rationale above for resigning would sway even a selfish man. And that's clearly what Larry Craig is, if he truly is reconsidering his decision. His conduct -- conduct to which he plead guilty -- is unbecoming a U.S. Senator, it's embarassing to his party, and it's plain wrong. What's more, no doubt it has hurt his family terribly.

Yet despite the damage that having this scandal drag on and on would do to the GOP, despite his own poor judgment -- either for having engaged in criminal behavior or else pleading guilty to an offense of which he was innocent -- Craig is concerned only about hanging on to his Senate seat.

Shame, Senator. It's time to go.

Townhall Column

Entitled "Sex Scandals and Family Values," my Townhall column (posted here) discusses what underlies all the Democratic hysteria about supposed Republican "hypocrisy."

Watching China

This story about the Chinese hacking into the Pentagon is discomfiting.

If we are paying a price for prosecuting the war on terror so aggressively, it is that our focus on Islamofascism may be leading us to overlook the very real threat that China increasingly poses to US security.

Because of our trade relationship with the People's Republic, politicians are as hesitant as business is to rock the boat. But it requires either blindness or wilful naivete to ignore the signs that China is bent on becoming a not-entirely-friendly global rival to the US on not just the economic and trade fronts -- but militarily, as well.

It's Good to be the Clintons

Puff pieces like this one are the reason why.

If Republicans were being covered (perhaps Bob and Elizabeth Dole would be the closest analogue) it's not likely that annoying little details -- like the fact that Mr. Clinton keeps changing details in a key anecdote about his wife -- would appear only at the end of the story. Nor would a reporter allow to pass with a wink and a nod unsubstantiated assertions that numerous unnamed world leaders are hoping that Mrs. Clinton will win the presidency.

Oh, and a comment like this one from Bill Clinton -- " “I have a pretty unique perceptive about what the challenges of the job [of being president] are” -- wouldn't pass without a snarky sic. It's "perspective," not "perceptive," Mr. President.

Gotta love that double standard.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The President In Iraq

Here is the transcript of remarks that President Bush made to the troops earlier today. My favorite line of the day:

Those decisions [about troop levels] will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground — not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media.

The troops liked it, too.

All the politicians who are calling for a US withdrawal from Iraq might take note of where the President was speaking from: Anbar province. Remember Anbar? As of December '06, Time magazine called it "the most dangerous place in Iraq" and it was used by Democrats as one sign that we were losing the war).

Now, as the President noted, it's one of the safest places in the country, thanks to America's fighting men and women.

But Wait a Minute . . .

Stryker McGuire writes that European leaders are embracing a "New Atlanticism", and anti-Americanism is "out."

I'm confused. Haven't the Democrats been telling us that relations with Europe are bad because of President Bush, and haven't their presidential candidates been telling us that the only way to rebuild diplomatic bridges is to elect one of them?

As Roseanna Anna Danna used to say, "Never mind."

One, Two, Many

Mahmous Ahmadinejad insists that he knows the US won't attack Iran, based in part on "calculation and tabulation."

Shall we surprise him?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What a Racket

Every once in a while, even the LA Times runs something worth reading. This piece -- exposing the folly and naivete of the "peace movement" -- is one of them.

More Friedman foolishness

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Tom Friedman writes in today's New York Times of his visit to Kurdistan, where he witnessed the kind of political and economic flourishing the Bush team had hoped to see in all of Iraq.

Friedman then asks" "Why is Kurdistan America’s best-kept secret success?" His answer: "Because the Bush team is afraid the Kurds will break away."

Now, think of all the things over the last six years the Bush team wished had not come to light but had, and ask yourself how in the world this team could have kept anything from the prying eyes of the mainstream media.

This simple answer is that the media have not been interested in reporting success and that Friedman's arrogance leads him to assume that if something important was also something he did not know, it must have been a secret.

Not Just a Test for Clinton

As Barry Casselman points out over at Real Clear Politics, whether Hillary Clinton wins the primary, and thereafter, the election is a test not only for her, but for the leftist netroots who largely oppose her candidacy.

As the piece points out, the liberal netroots should largely be part of Clinton's base, but it isn't. Many of the most influential bloggers oppose in particular her more hawkish stance on Iraq, and in general her business-as-usual manipulations and ideological shape-shifting.

If talk radio -- the conservative counterpart to the lefty netroots -- opposed a Republican candidate as fulsomely as the netroots oppose Clinton, it would be big news. The MSM, after all, reported extensively on John McCain's trouble with the base, almost with a note of pity (although the drop in support was repeatedly misattributed to his support for the war). And we're told often that Giuliani's chances of winning the nomination and then the election are severely compromised by his more moderate positions on some social issues.

Interesting that Clinton's issues with the lefties in her base isn't receiving the same level of attention.