Carol Platt Liebau: October 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tough Night for Hillary

Dan Balz recounts the difficulties last night's presidential debate created for Hillary Clinton.

Of course, her savvy campaign team has responded properly in their public statements, touting her as "one strong woman" and hoping that women will be turned off at the specter of Clinton being attacked by a bunch of men, much as her 2000 Senate campaign played the victim card when harmless little Rick Lazio walked over to her podium during a debate (does anyone really think Hillary couldn't eat him for breakfast?!).

This time, though, they'll have to be careful. After all, Hillary isn't auditioning to be one of 100 senators. She's running for President of the United States, and if America can't stand to see a bunch of politicians "gang up" on her, can she really go toe-to-toe with Ahmadinejad and the rest?

The "Sluttification" of America?

This column echoes some of the themes that I discuss in my new book, coming out Friday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Dem Debate

After questioning President Bush's sanity, we learned in tonight's Democratic debate that Dennis Kucinich communes with aliens. 'Nuf said.

Seriously, though, by waffling on the issue of illegal immigrants receiving drivers' licenses, Hillary Clinton did her opponents a big favor -- dramatizing all the character issues they have been trying to bring up. She also did Republicans a favor; her stumble has brought the question to the forefront of the political debate and there's no question that a majority of the country would oppose the Democrat position on this issue.

By defending Hillary Clinton, who is beating him like a cheap drum, Bill Richardon revealed some patent desperation to be named Vice-president. Hugh Hewitt speculates that Barack Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney signal fear of him -- and constitute an audition for the VP spot on Hillary's ticket. Could be . . . but it could also be just another manifestation of Barack's famously thin skin.

RIP Robert Goulet

Musical theater legend Robert Goulet has died. Perhaps his most immortal role was as Sir Lancelot in the famed 1960 original Broadway cast of "Camelot" with Richard Burton and Julie Andrews. To hear him sing "If Ever I Could Leave You" was pure joy.

We shall not see a Lancelot like him again.

Kucinich Questions President's Mental Health

Here's the story.

In related news, Woody Allen questioned Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscularity, and Hillary Clinton criticized Laura Bush's all-consuming political ambition. Ha.

So Who's a Christian?

Bloomberg News is running a story discussing some evangelicals' discomfort with Mitt Romney "equating" Mormonism with Christianity.

I think everyone knows that there are areas in which Mormonism diverges pretty sharply from standard Christian doctrine. On the other hand, is it really necessary to make a big issue over what kind -- if any -- of a Christian Mitt Romney is?

If this is a sensitive issue for evangelicals, then good for the governor if he moves away from discussing his faith in those terms. On the other hand, no doubt many good Christians would feel that "being a Christian" isn't like being in a club that exists to exclude others -- and would welcome those who profess a sincere love for Jesus Christ along with actions that testify to such a love.

Ultimately, what's wrong with everyone being satisfied with a statement like the following: "There may be some differences in our theologies, but our principles and our values are the same"?

Working Around the Election Cycle

This story is funny, but oh so true.

I remember scheduling my wedding for November 14 of '98 . . . I figured that even though I was marrying in an election year, at least the date would give my friends on Senator Bond's re-election team the chance to get away and vacation before my big day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Obama Catch-22

Writing in The Nation, John Nichols lambastes Barack Obama, arguing in effect that he's a wimp for sending up a trial balloon about whether to go after Hillary Clinton more aggressively.

Well, maybe. But for someone who is counting on favorable coverage by the MSM as much as Obama needs to -- at least if he's going to catch Hillary -- it may not be the dumbest thing in the world to make sure that he's not going to self-immolate in the press by going after her.

What's more, Barack has some unique problems in going negative. It opens him to charges that he's not in keeping with the "new tone" that he promised. And given Hillary's long memory and distaste for criticism, couldn't it end up keeping him off the ticket as her veep?

Given all this, who can blame the Obama campaign for getting a little free advice from the MSM'ers?

The War on Free Speech

In the Wall Street Journal today, John Fund documents the continuing efforts of the Democrats and the left to muzzle political speech by conservatives on the airwaves.

Typical, isn't it? If you can't win in a free market of ideas (and where there are more channels to communicate them than ever before), simply socialize the place and declare yourself in charge. Works every time.

Thompson Tackles Entitlements

This piece asserts that Fred Thompson, alone among Republican candidates, has tackled the difficult issue of entitlements.

If that's the case, I'll give him points for bravery . . . but not necessarily for political acumen. Let's put it this way: If the Democrats demagogue social security reform even when they're in the minority and after President Bush was comfortably re-elected and has the bully pulpit, how can Fred Thompson really think that they'll not come after him (should he win the nomination) and charge that he wants to destroy social security and other entitlements?

And given the liberal inclinations of the MSM, does he think that he'll really be able to fight back effectively, during a political campaign? What's more, does he think that entitlement reform is the kind of issue that will send any voters -- other than hard-core fiscal conservatives -- trooping enthusiastically to the polls for a pro-Thompson vote?

The Price of Irresolution

Now, Egypt wants to get in on the Middle Eastern nuclear arms race, announcing plans to build nuclear power plants.

Well, why not -- when the Iranians have been saying the same thing, and thumbing its nose at the world with impunity and without consequence? Let's just pray that, after all the Middle Eastern countries gain nuclear weapons, they end up with responsible leaders, and that no one in the government is interested in passing on nukes to Islamofascists headed for New York City.

Seems like a lot to hope for, doesn't it? But at this point -- with leading Democrats like Barack Obama worrying about "blank checks for the President" and essentially saying that they trust Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more than President Bush, what's the alternative?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What Judging Is

In today's LA Times, David Savage takes the requisite left-wing potshots at Justice Clarence Thomas, writing about "My Grandfather's Son."

[R]arely have the hardships of the young Thomas been evident in the opinions of Justice Thomas. In his 16 years on the high court, Thomas has established a stern judicial philosophy that leaves little room for siding with underdogs in disputes with governments or corporations . . ..

"Justice Thomas' opinions do not reflect any special sympathy for poor people," said David Vladeck, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. His is "not the track of record of a justice championing the interests of the poor or disenfranchised."

Set aside the mischaracterization of the Justice's originalism as a "stern judicial philosophy" (actually following the dictates of the Constitution may yield harsh results in some cases, but the philosophy itself is no more inherently "stern" than one relying merely on the whims of a particular justice).

What's remarkable about the smear is its underlying advocacy for a jurisprudence under which justices "reflect special sympathy" for groups to whom they happen to belong (or to have once belonged). In this view, it's perfectly okay for women judges to judge differently from men, African Americans from Latinos, Jewish people from Catholics, rich people from poor. And justices choosing to "champion" various parties or causes is no problem, either.

The only difficulty, of course, is in such a world, the whole concept of "equal justice under law" becomes meaningless -- or, rather, has a million different meanings depending on the unqiue demographics of any particular judge. Nonetheless, this seems to be the model of judging embraced by the left. One has to wonder whether such an idiosyncratic approach would be applauded if a rich, white, conservative male decided that he would embrace the left wing approach, and allow his rulings to "reflect special sympathy" for the milieu in which he was raised . . .

Obviously not. For any American who values the traditional understanding of judicial impartiality, Justice Thomas is praiseworthy for his efforts to apply the law without "special sympathy" for parties on the basis either of their similarity to his own demographics, past or present, or on his own preconceived notions of which causes he should be "championing."

Iraqis Making the Difference

Michael Yon describes one of the most hopeful developments in Iraq -- the willingness of Iraqis themselves to report the whereabouts of members of Al Qaeda in Iraq and other militants.

These Iraqis are sending our soldiers Google maps describing the whereabouts of the bad guys in real time so that they may be caught. Yes, these are the people the Democrats accused of being in an unsolvable civil war without any interest in peace or stability.

The Democrat Fissures

As I pointed out yesterday, there's a lot more pressure for ideological conformity in the Democrat Party than in the Republican one.

One more example is here, detailing how -- and the Progressive Democrat caucus in the House -- are calling for the defeat of anyone deemed insufficiently anti-war. The forces on the left have already triumphed within the party when it comes to issues of abortion and race; dissent on life and affirmative action is simply not tolerated.

Remarkably, some Democrats are even saying that it's worth it even if their zeal results in the party losing the House next year. Let's hope the Republicans don't make the same mistake, and choose total ideological purity over gaining a majority that can help secure our national security and prevent the liberal excesses of a Democrat Congress and/or President.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hillary Wants It Both Ways

Dick Polman points out that Hillary Clinton wants to tout herself as having White House experience without being willing to specify exactly what that experience entails -- which she could easily do by making documents and records available for scrutiny.

It's the same point I made here, noting that Hillary wants it both ways . . . to be seen as an experienced White House denizen, without subjecting herself to the examination that such a claim properly entails.

A Flawed Analysis

Ronald Brownstein argues that "Republican leaders are signaling they prize solidarity over outreach, and familiar thinking over independent ideas."

Really? In a party where Rudy Giuliani -- the man Brownstein describes as the "(qualified) exception" to his argument is the frontrunner for the presidential nomination in every national poll? Brownstein goes on to characterize the GOP as "a party that seems committed to betting 2008 on the high-risk proposition that the way to recapture the center is to turn further to the right."

Apparently, Brownstein seems to believe that Republican efforts to promote conservatives over moderates is somehow an ill-informed, almost illegitimate approach to politics, especially this year. If that's so, it's surprising he isn't more critical of the treatment of national security Democrats like, say, Joe Lieberman -- and aware of the fact that the Democrat party has turned even more sharply to the left, with its leaders seemingly committed to defeat in the Iraq war and proposing tax increases right and left. Yet that party, in Brownstein's view, isn't running any risk of alienating independents?

As a general matter, it's worth pointing out that if group-think is enforced in the GOP, you betcha it's twice as mandated among the Democrats -- think of the fate of an anti-affirmative action, pro-life candidate there. You can bet he wouldn't be the national frontrunner a la Giuliani. Heck -- there isn't even a debate about any important issue (national security or social) in the Democratic Party. So who's the big tent party now?

Just because Brownstein (obviously) doesn't agree with conservative policies doesn't mean that it's stupid and wrong for the Republicans to try to lock in their base before reaching to the middle.

Oh, and let's just set straight this little dig he makes at the beginning of the piece:

Christian charity was conspicuously absent from the leaflets that supporters of the leading Republican presidential candidates handed out at last weekend's summit of socially conservative "values voters."

Brownstein makes that assertion based on the fact that policy differences among the candidates were pointed out in various pamphlets being distributed. Where, exactly, is the source for his insinuation that it's somehow a violation of "Christian charity" for candidates to have policy differences, and compete on the basis of them?

Brownstein winds up the snarky aside with this: "If Sam Brownback hadn't just quit the race, somebody probably would have attacked him for participating in a Senate prayer group with Hillary Rodham Clinton." Not so much, Mr. Brownstein.

Most Americans -- even the dreaded religious right! -- approve of bipartisan praying . . . in fact, they're relieved to find some Democrat leaders who are willng to pray.

Interesting how the MSM's ignorance of religion and other biases manifests themselves, isn't it?

Is the Wish Father to the Thought?

This piece claims that the evangelical movement is "cracking up."

I'm not sure that I'd trust the New York Times for the most accurate account of the inner working of the evangelical mind and movement. Are there differences among evangelicals? Of course. But that's testimony, quite frankly, to the burgeoning numbers of visible, influential evangelicals on the national scene.

And if one is going to leap from the theological to the political, the phenomenon is advantageous for Republicans, not Democrats. For no matter how hard some Dems try to court the religious, ultimately they're going to have trouble convincing most Bible-believing Americans that unproven allegations of manmde global warming trump events that currently take place -- like the millions of abortions each year in America.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Left and Free Speech

For a bunch of people who are so exquisitely concerned about the "rights" of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, it seems that the left has no problem strong-arming fellow Americans with whom they disagree.

John Edwards brings pressure to bear against UNC to prevent a college reporter from discussing the upscale location of his headquarters.

And David Horowitz is shouted down by intolerant lefties.

What is it with these people? In the latter case, contrast the espectful attention for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia, to the rudeness and disrespect for a fellow American trying to warn of the dangers of Islamofascism. In the former case, think of what it would mean if this person became president, and could put the power of the state behind his now-petty tyrannies.

Not Bad at All

Charles Krauthammer argues convincingly that Republicans have a fine field of presidential candidates.

Responding to those who repeatedly complain that there's no Reagan in the race, he notes that even President Reagan wasn't perfect. Which he wasn't -- although he did win the Cold War, make conservatism respectable again, and inspire the country (not bad, in my view).

The larger point, for those lost in Reagan nostalgia, is that they simply have to get over it. If there were a Ronald Reagan in every presidential field, he wouldn't be the giant that he is. We were lucky to have one of him in a lifetime -- is there anyone who realistically expects to get one every election cycle?

In any case, President Reagan is the last person who would want a bunch of discontented GOP'ers losing heart. He'd want us to get off our duffs and find the best person to keep America safe and free. So let's get to it.

Doubts About Huckabee

Conservatives who have been insisting that Mike Huckabee is the answer to their prayers should check out this piece by John Fund.

Along with pointing out that Huckabee is far from being an economic conservative, there is this very disturbing observation from a Huckabee backer:

Rick Scarborough, a pastor who heads Vision America, attended seminary with Mr. Huckabee and is a strong backer. But, he acknowledges, "Mike has always sought the validation of elites."

For a Republican, this should be the kiss of death. No one who seeks the "validation of elites" will ever succeed at -- or even attempt -- conservative governance. There's simply too much criticism from the New York Times that must be endured.

You know who else hungrily seeks such validation? Justice Anthony Kennedy. And look what's happened to him.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Shape of Things to Come?

The press has been so busy covering the GOP internecine struggle over the prospect of a Giuliani nomination that the fissues in the Democratic Party have been undercovered.

Here is one example -- the defections among moderate Democrats that resulted in the confirmation of Judge Leslie Southwick, a development that "outraged" the Congressional Black Caucus.

Here's another -- the struggle over doves and less-dovish-doves among Democrats when it comes to foreign policy.

One of the difficulties that comes with majority party status is that the Dems have to govern, and governing can be less unifying than simply standing on the sidelines and carping, as Dems did when Republicans were in charge. But what some of these developments suggest is that, notwithstanding their 2006 victory, the ideological divide in the Democratic Party is every bit as deep as that in the GOP -- maybe deeper. And at least Republicans are largely united on what's shaping up to be one of the biggest issues of 2008, that is, foreign policy.

In contrast, all that ultimately unites the Dems when it comes to national security matters is criticism of President Bush. And he'll be gone . . .

The Danger of "Universal Coverage"

The "universal coverage" in health care sounds really good when the Democrat candidates bandy it about. But there's a real danger there, as Kent Masterson Brown points out today in National Review:

Among the dangers of universal coverage is that when the system fails, patients may find they no longer have freedom to spend their own money to get the medical care they need.

Years ago, the Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional to require all students to attend public schools. Perhaps it would likewise eventually be found unconstitutional to prevent people from going outside the "government system" for health care (or maybe not, if a Democrat's nominating the Supreme Court justices) -- but such a guarantee would be meaningless if economically clueless Democrat pols succeed in destroying the private health care market.

Now That's Influence!

For those who weren't listening to Rush this morning, he read an entry posted by Duane Patterson on Hugh Hewitt's blog.

Here it is.

Needless to say, Duane's right on target. Read it for yourself.

Signs of Weakness

The Christian Science Monitor reports that there are significant signs of weakness among Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Funny, violence is down significantly, too, as the piece notes. But wait . . . weren't the Democrats telling us that the violence is attributable only to a civil war (oh, yes, and charging that America is "failing to adequately pursue Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden")? Wasn't the MSM declaring that the violence was part of a civil war, too?

Laying New Myths to Rest

It seems that natural disasters bring out the worst in Democratic politicians, who seize on tragey to try to score political points.

As this piece in the LA Times makes clear, no, global warming is not to blame for the California fires.

And no, John Garamendi, the fact that 3000 National Guards are serving in Iraq has had no impact on our ability to fight the fires.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Debased Debate

Jon Stossel has some pungent -- and dead accurate -- thoughts on the quality of the global warming debate (or perhaps, more accurately, the global warming non-debate).

Hillary's Coming for Small Business

Psst, small business owners. Hillary's coming for you with a plan to extend family leave requirements to businesses with only 25 employees -- and for states to "experiment" with requiring paid leave.

One needn't have ever run a business or met a payroll in order to understand the expenses and disruption such mandates would have on a small business. But Hillary's lack of experience with -- and even contempt for -- such everyday bread-and-butter concerns is showing, isn't it?

Back in the Hillarycare I days, she contemptuously declared, "I can't be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America." It's tempting to speculate that her disdain for small business springs from the fact that it's enemy #1 for those who, like her, believe that government can manage the economy better than free men and women can. Small business owners are fiercely independent, and resistant to the rules and regulations so beloved by big government liberals because they see them "up close and personal," every day.

Given that big business can be coopted by government much more easily than small, perhaps it's not surprising that Hillary would excoriate the President for cutting funding for the Small Business Administration. After all, it's the best way for government to coopt the little guys like, too often, they do the big ones -- fostering dependence with handouts

Just a Case of (Reverse) Racism

Judge Leslie Southwick has been confirmed. Notably, Dianne Feinstein, a supporter, essentially conceded that the Democrats who oppose Southwick are racists:

Southwick's supporters, who include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the controversy wasn't so much about Southwick as it was about the fact that he is a white man nominated to sit on a court that handles cases in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Can you imagine the outcry -- rightly -- if a qualified black nominee were held up only because of his skin color? Shouldn't the same standard be applied to whites, as well?

Whose Dream?

The Washington Times advises the Senate to kill the Dream Act, which would offer in-state college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants.

Far be it from me to "kill" anyone's dream -- but aren't there plenty of hardworking, deserving children of law-abiding, taxpaying Americans who live out of state from a university they'd like desperately to attend who could use the advantage being offered to illegals?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No "Religious Dilemma" Here

EJ Dionne attempts to identify a "religious dilemma" for Mitt Romney.

As a preliminary matter, when Dionne says that "Romney's biggest problem is that he is running in a Republican Party that has been saturated by religion in recent years" he conveniently forgets an interesting fact -- namely that Romney's Mormonism is, apparently, a greater disqualifier for Democrats than it is for Republicans. (See this TIME magazine poll finding that Democrats in greater numbers are less likely than GOP'ers to vote for a Mormon; see also here, reporting on a Newsweek poll that found more Dems than Repubs wouldn't vote for a candidate based only on his Mormon faith).

At any rate, Dionne goes on to define Romney's "dilemma" as follows:

To win votes from the religious right while pushing the Mormon issue aside, Romney therefore has to say that religion matters a great deal -- and also that it doesn't. Any wonder why this is such a tough matter for him to discuss?

That's simply not true. To win votes, Romney has to say that theology doesn't matter a great deal to the decision about who would make the best President -- rather, what matters is "religiosity" in the broad sense, and the virtues and values it instills (with the policies that emanate from them). In other words, Romney has to make the argument that the details of a candidate's theology shouldn't matter, but the fact that he is, in fact, a believer -- and that his faith stresses the same virtues resulting in the same policy preferences as evangelicals -- matters a great deal.

And frankly, that makes a lot of sense. Perhaps the scariest outcome would be to have a person of little or no faith in The White House. After all, the presidency of the US is such a powerful position that it's important that the president understands that he is accountable to Someone even more powerful and important than himself.

Not Hers to Give Uph

Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to get it. She has offered to give up some executive branch powers if she's elected President and her "internal review" warrants it.

Here's the problem,though. Executive powers don't belong to the person who happens to be President. They are part of an institutional framework set forth by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.

Other presidents have understood this. That's why, for exmaple, President Bush's administration put up with criticism when it refused to hand over information related to the fundraising scandals from the Clinton administration. That decision wasn't made to help Bill Clinton personally -- it was made to protect the institutional prerogatives of the executive branch. Historically, at least since Watergate, presidents sometimes have been forced to defend their powers against encroachment by Congress. (It's not for nothing that the Federalist Papers flag the legislature as the branch of government most likely to encroach on the others).

To the extent that powers of the executive are secured by the Constitution, they aren't a President Hillary's to surrender. The fact that she'd even talk this way is one more unfortunate reminder that, for the Clintons, office of President isn't something that someone is honored to inhabit as a temporary occupant with an obligation to preserve and strengthen it for their predecessors. They really seem to think that it belongs to them on a personal basis.

The Bork Defeat, Down the Years

This piece by law professor Gary McDowell recounts the painful rejection of Judge Robert Bork, twenty years ago today.

And through the narrative of the Bork loss -- and arguing that conservatives inadvertantly saved Roe v. Wade -- Jeffrey Lord reminds all conservatives unwilling to be pleased by any GOP presidential candidate what the results can be of "a full loaf or nothing" mentality.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Violence Drops in Iraq

Not that the MSM will want to report it, but violence in Iraq is down by 70% since the end of June.

Kudos to the brave Americans -- and Iraqis -- standing up to the forces of chaos and Islamofascism.

Not So Bad?

The Nobel laureate for literature, Doris Lessing, has opined that, in relative terms, the 9/11 attacks weren't so bad.

Of course, this kind of response can be expected when the MSM resolutely refuses to air video footage of that horrible day and the aftermath. With the distance that time and perceived safety bring, it's easy to dismiss the attack on America as a one-off deal.

Let's hope there doesn't have to be a follow-up to help us remember and regain a little perspective.

The Centrality of Christianity

Dinesh D'Souza explains the deep and enormous impact of Christianity on the beliefs, values and institutions that matter most to us.

All Doom and Gloom?

Ralph Z. Hallow reports in The Washington Times that Values Votesr found no candidate to back after last week's summit.

That's good news, of course, for Rudy Giuliani, but the real danger lies, as the piece points out, in a diminished likelihood that the GOP "can look forward to previous years' 'drag your neighbors to the polls' support from Catholic and evangelical Protestants in November 2008. It lost that level of support in the 2006 elections, which produced Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress."

If all that is true, then the only hope is that values voters identify the danger inherent in a Clinton presidency and are energized by her candidacy. This fact is perhaps why Lynne Cheney seems cleverly to be promoting a Clinton nomination.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Republican Debate

Predictably, Fred Thompson -- who had the most to prove tonight -- failed to live up to expectations. Also predictably, John McCain didn't perform all that well, and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney did just fine.

In fact, both Giuliani and Romney seem to be becoming more and more likable. Romney seems less plastic, more approachable; Giuliani is using his directness to his advantage -- it's easier for social conservatives to trust someone who seems to be telling them like it is, and Giuliani needs to hold social conservatives in the GOP fold to have a chance of winning.

The New York Times blog makes much of the candidates' criticism of Hillary Clinton. But it's hardly surprising; dislike for Clinton and fear of what her presidency would mean is the #1 unifying theme for the GOP -- and, frankly, for much of the country. Every candidate on that stage understands that, first and foremost, primary voters are evaluating him on the basis of how well he can take on the Clinton machine.

Those who gloat at the thought of a dispirited Republican base should likewise perhaps be hoping that Hillary doesn't win the nomination. The Fox News Channel's focus group with Frank Luntz revealed that, uniformly, all the respondents reacted with real antipathy to the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, including one older woman who clearly isn't part of Mark Penn's mythical 25% GOP female crossover vote.

Even if the Republicans end up with a candidate that doesn't set their hearts aflutter, so long as they nominate someone basically unobjectionable and highly competent, party regulars -- and many, many other Americans -- will crawl uphill over broken glass to cast a vote against HRC.

A New Day in LA

Congratulations to Bobby Jindal, the Republican who won the Louisiana governor's race.

It's quite true that Jindal almost beat Blanco four years ago. But it's noteworthy that a Republican would win a statewide election there after the drubbing that the GOP took in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (unfairly, in my view, because the contrast in the fates of Mississippi, governed by Republican Haley Barbour and Lousiana highlight the difference competent state officials can make).

Could it be another sign of the rising GOP fortunes that I noted here?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chutzpah Alert

Amazingly, Clinton backers are ripping Mayor Giuliani's personal life.

Yes, people backing the candidate who used to (and still may) specialize in "bimbo eruptions" -- the candidate who chose to stay with (and cheer on) a husband who embarrassed the nation by receiving oral sex from a young, emotionally needy intern in The Oval Office -- actually dare to comment on how Rudy Giuliani's personal life has been conducted.

It wouldn't be attractive if someone like Barack Obama did it . . . but it wouldn't be as ludicrous, given the lack of (known) skeletons in his closet. What next? Joe Biden asserting that another candidate's speeches sound like they've been plagiarized?

What's particularly unforgivable is bringing the Mayor's children into the discussion. Whatever happens between spouses is, at least, between adults. But to pry into parent-child relationships is even sleazier -- and given the pass that the press rightly gave to Chelsea Clinton, particularly distasteful.

Hillary Clinton could put a stop to all this right now. The question is: Will she?

"A Crippling Blow" to the Enemy

US forces have discovered a 19 ton cache of explosives in Iraq.

Must Everything Be About Sex?

So Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has revealed that Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore is gay.

I wonder why she felt it necessary to do this. Why, oh why, would anyone be interested in the sex life of a wizard in a children's book?

Must everything be about sex? What next -- an update on Professor Snape's predilection for bondage?

Romney Scores

From this account in The Hill, it sounds like Mitt Romney's speech to the Values Voters Summit was a big hit.

That's a good thing. Unlike Giuliani, none of Romney's positions conflict with those of the religious right -- a big and important part of the Republican coalition, and a group that's essential to getting the GOP ground game activated. The only stumbling block, it seems, has been his Mormon faith -- but signs from some of the most influential social conservative leaders seem to signal that it won't be an insuperable stumbling block.

If the party could coalesce with enthusiasm around Mitt Romney, it might spare a lot of headaches in terms of keeping the Republican coalition together, and avoid many of the internal difficulties that would attend the nomination of someone like Rudy Giuliani.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Costless for Some, Not For Others

It turns out that Jonah Goldberg is bothered by some of the same phenomena that I discuss in my book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)," due out on November 2.

Discussing Madonna (as I have here and here), Goldberg points out what I have observed before about a lot of bad celebrity behavior: That it's largely costless to the people who begin a social "trend" (like having babies out of wedlock or acting like brain-dead sex kittens) -- but deeply pernicious for the regular people who begin to imitate them.

Agreeing to Disagree?

A piece in USA Today argues that the nomination of Rudy Giuliani -- pro-choice, anti-gun -- would mark an ideological revolution within the Republican Party.

Either this is a profound misunderstanding of the conservative mind, or else a deliberate attempt to infuse the choice of Giuliani with a meaning that's certain to spook many in the party's base.

The fact is that the nomination of Rudy Giuliani would mean less that the GOP has decided to "agree to disagree" on fundamental questions than it would represent a decision that Giuliani is the candidate best-positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton in the election. Lest one read too much into conservatives' acceptance of Giuliani, it's predicated on the understanding that he will nominate strict constructionist judges to the court and curb whatever socially liberal impulses he might possess by surrounding himself with advisors like Ted Olson and Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- both of whom have endorsed him.

The other, equally important reason conservatives might embrace Giuliani is because they believe he is the best-equipped to wage the war on terror. Indeed, his unapologetic, un-politically correct attitude toward confronting America's enemies and defeating the forces of Islamofascist terrorism are a large part of his appeal to many conservatives.

In short, if Giuliani is nominated next year, it won't mean that the GOP has backed off on its traditional pro-choice and socially conservative beliefs. Rather, it will signal that the party is mature enough to recognize the greater danger posed by the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency -- and/or the possibility of any member of the Democratic field (weak-kneed defeatists that they are) taking the reins in the war on terror.

Running for Nanny-in-Chief

Hillary Clinton is busy criticizing Americans' eating habits.

[Hillary] hinted there could be a role for government, from the President using the bully pulpit to steps involving incentives and penalties.

"I think we can use some carrots and maybe a few sticks to help people understand what they are doing to themselves."

Really? Do we want big government bureaucrats put in charge of penalizing Americans for what goes into their mouths, in an effort to "help people understand what they are doing to themselves"? From that kind of "help" may the saints preserve us -- but hey, that's what government-run healthcare really means. Accept the largesse, and with it comes the bureaucratic bossiness that we're familiar with in our dealings with everything from the IRS to the local post office.

Welcome to Nurse Hillary's vision for the USA.

Extraordinary Largesse

Hillary Rodham Clinton must be one extraordinary fundraiser. According to this piece in The LA Times,

The Times examined the cases of more than 150 donors who provided checks to Clinton after fundraising events geared to the Chinese community. One-third of those donors could not be found using property, telephone or business records. Most have not registered to vote, according to public records.

And several dozen were described in financial reports as holding jobs -- including dishwasher, server or chef -- that would normally make it difficult to donate amounts ranging from $500 to the legal maximum of $2,300 per election.

Yet in New York's Chinatown, where John Kerry raised $24,000 total just four years ago, Clinton has raised $380,000 with one fundraiser.

Of course, the Times is reluctant to be too hard on Clinton. "Chinatown's newfound role in the 2008 election cycle marks another chapter in the centuries-old American saga of marginalized ethnic groups and newly arrived immigrants turning to politics to improve their lot." Or, perhaps, more of the legendary Clinton ethical funny business, perhaps . . .

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Up From the Bottom

Over at Hugh Hewitt's blog, Patrick Ruffini makes a solid case that the GOP's fortunes are slowly in ascension.

One other factor that shouldn't be underestimated is the capacity of some Democrats to overplay their hands, whether it's Pete Stark's repugnant comments (discussed below), Nancy Pelosi's diplomatic overtures to Syria, or the misbegotten efforts of Democrats in the House and Senate to undermine US foreign policy.

Americans are good and sensible people. Even many of those who disagree with the President's policies oppose political grandstanding that is at best silly, and at worst destructive of US interests.

The fleshpots of Washington, DC

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

This article argues for a vast expansion in government entitlements because "[t]he America that Goldwater and Reagan defended against the presumed predations of government no longer exists." Life is now too risky, and people, unable to fend for themselves, need the government to protect them.

The Democrats love to sell failure. You can't make it on your own. Life is too complicated. Things are too risky. Change is happening too fast. Only government can help you, and since you are the helpless victim of forces beyond your control, it's not only OK that you give up, it is your right to demand to be taken care of.

The last unspoken line of this spiel is that the person who should take care of you is the technocrat, the well-educated, well-meaning, sensitive liberal. This is why intellectuals and journalists so often lean leftward, because it means rule by people like themselves, and so reenforces their feelings of potency and worth.

We Americans have always been a practical people. We know that even if we face difficulties, these are not the people to look to for anything except failure.

Reagan's America is alive and well.

Journalistically Agnostic

Democratic Congressman Pete Stark has declared that troops are being killed in Iraq for the president's amusement:

“You don't have money to fund the war or children,'' [Stark] said. "But you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president's amusement."

Objectively, this remark is over the line, and it will be interesting to see if Stark apologizes for it -- or whether any of his Democratic counterparts call on him to do so.

But what's also interesting is the way the entire matter is being covered. CBS's piece (linked above) is headlined "Republicans Object to Stark Comments on War." Really? It's okay with all the Democrats for one of their own to insinuate that the Commander in Chief is pleased by the deaths of American soldiers? ABC News, describing Stark as having "the demeanor of the low-key bank president he once was" titles its piece "Democratic lawmaker's blunt talk enrages Republicans" -- as though Stark's remarks are, in truth, a praiseworthy example of speaking truth to power, thereby angering those in the wrong.

Would that such journalistic agnosticism -- such studied detachment -- characterized all the media's reporting. But it's hard to believe that such an outrageous smear would be recounted with such apparent objectivity if it were directed at, say, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

Now More Than Ever

In light of some recent news, it seems that my upcoming book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)" -- out November 2 -- is more timely than ever.

What in the world can the Portland, Maine school district be thinking to allow the distribution of contraceptives in a middle school -- for those 11 to 13 and without parental permission? Here's a snippet from the story:

"This isn't encouraging kids to have sex. This is about the kids who are engaging in sexually activity," Richard Veilleux said.

That's a common argument from those who support these sorts of initiatives. But no one would dream of telling children, "Don't drink, but if you do, don't drive" or saying, "No drugs -- but if you're on them, come to the school nurse to get your clean needles." Rather, we tell children, "Don't do it." Period.

Ah, some will say, but underage drinking and most drug use is illegal. True enough -- but simply because a behavior is legal doesn't mean that it's appropriate for children. Fifty years ago, premarital sex was simply not tolerated -- and as a result, there was less of it. The same isn't true today . . . and as any economist will tell you, when a certain behavior is subsidized (whether through attitudes, free contraceptive handouts or any other way), there is more of it.

Ultimately, it's a matter of the types of behavior that we, as a society, are willing to tolerate. Apparently, many are willing to accept that 11 year olds (or nine year olds, for that matter) will have sex. Now consider the contrast: We would not concede that it's inevitable that there will be a certain amount of sexism or racism -- and therefore, we should segregate students by gender or race. Rather, we insist that sexist or racist attitudes not be tolerated, and make children amend any inappropriate speech or behavior. Many of those who would be first to argue that young people can't be taught to control their sexual urges would likewise be the first to insist (properly) that they be taught to control any latent racist or sexist impulses.

One always hesitates to play the class warfare card, but consider this quote from the linked story:

King [where this plan is going into effect] is the only one of the three [middle] schools [in Portland] with a health center, primarily because it has more students who get free or reduced-price lunch, said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland's student health centers.

I suspect that there are some who think it's simply easier to hand out birth control to youngsters from socioeconomically stressed backgrounds to prevent them from reproducing than it is to teach them about sexual self-control. Well, any young person -- whatever his or her background -- can exercise self-control and develop self-respect as a result, as Elayne Bennett has amply demonstrated through her Best Friends Foundation.

Whose Fault Is It?

This CNN story reports that lots of Americans think we're in a recession.

Since a recession is two quarters of negative growth, the fact is that we're not in a recession (although there is the chance that we will be). But note that the linked story doesn't explain that -- it merely tells us how lots of people feel.

Could that omission on the part of the media explain why so many people "feel" the way they do?

A Very Respectable Performance

As Morton Kondracke reports, there is plenty of evidence that President Bush has some bragging rights when it comes to recent developments.

** In Iraq, Kondracke notes U.S. casualty levels are down to their lowest levels since 2003, Iraqi security force deaths are at their lowest level ever, and civilian deaths in September were down 77 percent below the level of last year.

** The federal budget deficit is half of what it was two years ago and that in September job growth had continued for 49 months, a new record.

**Bush's Medicare prescription drug program last year cost $4 billion less than forecast owing to competitive forces that Democrats oppose and some school test scores are up, assertedly thanks to No Child Left Behind.

**Bush evidently has convinced House Democrats not to complicate relations with Turkey by passing an Armenian genocide resolution, and the White House thinks it can win a battle over terrorist surveillance policy. (Update: The Washington Post reports that the compromise surveillance bill is a victory for the President.)

Coming from Kondracke -- one of the truly middle-of-the-road, straight-shooting reporters out there -- all this is significant. But it is also true, as he observes, that the polls for Bush are still pretty bad.

It may well be that, once again, polls are a lagging indicator. When the President's poll numbers begin to reflect all this good news (assuming it's reported) and rise, what will happen to the Democratic Congress' numbers? And if those stay in the basement, what does that mean for next year's elections?

Calibrating the Scales

The Washington Post's David Ignatius discussing the truly chilling possibility that Al Qaeda may have a nuclear bomb. It is an ugly thought, and just as scary is the fact that the US simply doesn't know what the terrorists' nuclear capacity is.

That's why it's so very disturbing when things like the leak of the bin Laden video or the leak of the terrorist financing system essentially hobble our efforts to prevent the unthinkable. Yet these events seem to be taken seriously neither by Democrat leaders (like Nancy Pelosi, who pushed a far-left version of a terrorist surveillance bill, which was pulled from consideration) nor by members of the MSM, who benefit most (career- and prestige-wise) from the leaks.

In fact, right before Ignatius proceeds to scare his readers to death, he adds the little hat-tip that seems, in many journalistic circles, to be a prerequisite for writing anything that might validate the Bush Administration's approach to the war on terror:

We've all had enough fear-mongering to last a lifetime. Indeed, we have become so frightened of terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, that we have begun doing the terrorists' job for them by undermining the legal framework of our democracy.

Really? What "fear-mongering" has gone on that is different in style and kind from the kind Ignatius presents? And as for "dismantling the legal framework of our democracy" -- how does he mean? By refusing to grant suspected foreign terrorists -- captured on the battlefield -- the full panoply of constitutional rights guaranteed to American citizens? Or by authorizing sleep deprivation and other discomforts to elicit vital information from foreign fighters (not soldiers within the plain meaning of the Geneva Conventions, mind you)?

As an American who very much believes in the rule of law properly understood, it can be irritating to listen to some journalists who both demand that we remain completely safe from terrorist attack -- and that we do it in a way that meets the approbation of even the softest-hearted (and -minded) left-wing civil libertarian.

Obviously, that would be the best way -- and the only way in a perfect world. But as Ignatius' piece itself reminds us, we are hardly living in a perfect world. What would be more useful is for those who are prone to indulging in little asides like the one above to tell us how they, themselves, would calibrate the scale that allows everyone, left to right, to agree that "the legal framework of our democracy" is still intact, but also is completely effective in preventing a nuclear holocaust, courtesy of Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dangerously Incompetent

Just how feckless -- and how untrustworthy -- some Democrats are when it comes to national security issues has been highlighted this week. First, it's the effort to "revise" FISA in a way that would force intelligence officers to jump through unprecedented hoops in order to gather intelligence to protect Americans. Democrat leaders have, thankfully, been forced to pull this pernicious piece of legislation from the House floor.

The fate of the Armenian genocide resolution -- which threatens the US relationship with Turkey at a particularly delicate time in the Iraq war (who says Democrats care more than Republicans about diplomacy?) -- is also, thankfully, in doubt.

No wonder Congress is languishing with an 11% approval rating. Democrats might want to take heed of Democrat Nikki Tsongas' narrow win a special election -- in a district John Kerry carried by 17 points.

If Republicans can highlight the extent to which Democrat "leadership" is both dangerous and ineffective, then Dems had better not be counting their chickens for next year's election. Chances are that 2006 reflected dissastifaction with the status quo rather than an endorsement of the left-wing policies that Democrats seem determined try to pursue.

The Reason Fred is Running?

Michelle Cottle of The New Republic asserts that Fred Thompson is running, in short, because his wife wants him to, badly.

The theory explains a lot . . . most notably Thompson's entry into the race despite his own notable lack of fire in the belly.

Let Rudy Be Rudy?

Michael Goodwin's piece refers to the fact that Rudy Giuliani will be addressing values voters next weekend. Goodwin concludes that Giuliani shouldn't change his pro-choice stance, even though it alienates a significant percentage of the religious right.

Of course, that's true. Any sudden "conversion" would be obviously inauthentic, and would raise questions about the candidate's integrity and conviction. But that being said, it's time for Rudy to reach out to the religious right in a genuine and respectful way.

I've written before about the damage to the religious right that would result from any decision to bolt the party. But if values voters need to be flexible -- well, so does Giuliani.

Occasionally, his attitude can come across as "I am who I am, take it or leave it." He may intend it to be appealing, but to many, it comes across as arrogant. People of faith in this country have, for too long, been ignored and disrespected. It's important for Giuliani to demonstrate that he understands their priorities, and he respects them -- even if he doesn't always agree. He needs to make it clear that he knows that the GOP is a pro-life party, and he will do nothing to try to change that fact -- and that he will keep that fact in mind as he governs, whether it's through nominating strict constructionists to the Supreme Court, or ensuring that his political appointees to the Department of Health and Human Services aren't going to move abortion policies to the left.

For Rudy to keep the support of the values voters who already look on him with a favorable eye, he needs to demonstrate that he can be as open-minded and flexible as he wants the religious right to be.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Faith and Science

Reading this piece in The Wall Street Journal -- highlighting the left's absolute refusal to tolerate scientific inquiry on the question of gender differences and brains -- is a reminder of how specious the liberal assertion of a Bush "war on science" is.

Like global warming, apparently the idea that all gender differences are socially constructed is such an article of faith on the left that it simply can't be questioned by anyone, any time. Scientific skepticism and debate have their limits, I guess . . .

No Nostalgia Here

This overview of Sally Bedell Smith's new book about the Clintons' marriage is a timely reminder of the sordidness to which the country was exposed over the course of the Clinton administration.

Why, oh why would anyone want to go back to this? Even a liberal has a decent choice with a man like Bill Richardson, whose governmental experience -- as UN representative, Cabinet member, governor -- puts the rest of the field to shame. Why Hillary?

Apologies to the VWRC?

Just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean "they're" not out to get you, right? Well, not always.

Contrary to allegations of "assault" (by a member of the vast right wing conspiracy) levelled by an Air America radio talk show host, it turns out that left-wing talker Randi Rhodes fell while walking her dog. Oddly enough, Rhodes' lawyer reports that "she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain," according to the New York Daily News.

Although -- obviously -- I don't agree with Randi Rhodes on anything(and have listened to her show on only the rarest occasions), I certainly join with many others on the right in wishing her a complete and speedy recovery.

Ignorance or Sabotage?

The Democrats in Congress have chosen a particularly delicate moment to bring up a controversial resolution that could have serious implications for our soldiers' ability to wage the war in Iraq. The Wall Street Journal comments here; the incomparable Thomas Sowell here.

There's no disputing that a genocide of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire happened, or that it was a terrible, terrible thing. The question is why the Democrats chose this moment to bring the matter up -- when our relations with Turkey are more vital than ever to success in Iraq -- thereby putting Republicans in the position either of denying the genocide or damaging the war effort?

There are only two explanations for the Democrats' choice to raise the matter at this time: Either they are so ignorant of events in and around Iraq that they didn't know any better, or, more perniciously, they are trying to cripple the U.S. effort to win the war against Al Qaeda in Iraq just as there are signs of a turn around in our favor.

As appalling as Democrat ignorance on such a subject would be, it's infinitely better than the suspicion that Congressional Democrats are engaging in sabotage of our military. But the latter can't be ruled out -- think how damaging for Democrat electoral hopes (and how revealing of presidential candidates' foreign policy judgment) it would be if the war started to come to a successful conclusion, when most of their party first supported the war, then turned on it and advocated a defeat that turns out to be unnecessary.

Finally, a MoDo Column Worth Reading

Well, that's because Maureen Dowd handed over the reins to Stephen Colbert.

My favorite part:

I’d like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she’s watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito. Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn’t have to think about. It’s all George Bush’s fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I’ve written Frank Rich’s column too.

Whoops! Sorry, Commenters!

Through a moment of technological idiocy, I managed to delete by mistake a slew of comments on recent posts in this blog. It was unintentional, and I apologize to those who took the time to share their thoughts and opinions!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Enough with the "Girl Power"

Stories like this one, focusing on the "girl power" surrounding Hillary Clinton, make me tired.

I want the first female president to be a president who just happens to be a woman, not a "woman president." And it would be nice if -- like Margaret Thatcher -- she had shown the skill, brains and heart to reach the pinnacle of political power on her own merits, not by virtue of her husband's electoral success.

Major Gains in Iraq

At least, that's what journalists from The Washington Post -- hardly part of the vast, right-wing conspiracy -- are reporting.

If, indeed, the day comes when the US can declare victory over Al Qaeda in Iraq, what will that tell us about the presidential candidates who first voted for the war in Iraq, then declared it couldn't be won -- when, in fact, it very well may be?

Townhall Column

I have written about the peril to the religious right should its leaders, in the event of a Giuliani nomination, decide to support a third party candidacy.

If that happened, in a Giuliani-Clinton matchup, the religious right would be the only sure loser -- and that would be a shame.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Life Worth Living

Charlotte Allen writes about what seems like a "right to die" agenda behind the constant push to encourage every hospital patient to sign a living will.

Her piece called to mind the experiences pregnant friends have recounted about a similar push to encourage women to have every test in the book -- even those that might endanger a pregnancy -- in order to ensure that one isn't carrying a child with Down's syndrome.

It seems that a relatively secular elite is trying to advance its notion of what constitutes a life worth living.

"Simply Wrong"

The Washington Post calls to account those who -- like Hillary Clinton -- were asserting last month that the surge isn't working. Here are some of the cold, hard (for Democrats) facts:

In September, Iraqi civilian deaths were down 52 percent from August and 77 percent from September 2006, according to the Web site The Iraqi Health Ministry and the Associated Press reported similar results. U.S. soldiers killed in action numbered 43 -- down 43 percent from August and 64 percent from May, which had the highest monthly figure so far this year. The American combat death total was the lowest since July 2006 and was one of the five lowest monthly counts since the insurgency in Iraq took off in April 2004.

What's more:

Sunni tribes in Anbar province that once fueled the insurgency have switched sides and declared war on al-Qaeda. The radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr ordered a cease-fire last month by his Mahdi Army. Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top day-to-day commander in Iraq, says al-Qaeda's sanctuaries have been reduced 60 to 70 percent by the surge.

No one disputes that the ultimate solution in Iraq must be political, not military. But military security is certainly a precondition for the politics to work. And those who enjoy denigrating the Iraqis for the failure thus far to progress as far as we'd hoped would do well to look at the lack of consensus on issues like health care, social security and the war itself before casting the first stone.

Can anyone imagine how ugly it would be if this Congress had to grapple with the major issues confronting the Iraqi parliament? Is anyone sure that we would be resolving them more quickly?

Maybe Gore Better Enjoy It Now

A prominent scientist has the guts to dispute the received wisdom about manmade global warming.

What's more, he predicts that in 10 or 15 years, we're all going to look back and feel pretty foolish about all the global warming hysteria. Could it be that Gore's Nobel will someday seem as misplaced as Yasser Arafat's now does?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

All Bigotry is Wrong

The Politico notes -- and debunks -- an impossible-to-trace email that alleges Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Such tricks are, no doubt, dirty pool and rightly denounced by every responsible person, whatever his/her political commitments. Let's just note for the record: First,it's every bit as likely that this nasty stuff is coming from the Clinton team (known for winning ugly); second, that emails deploring a Republican's Mormon faith are just as wrong as those purporting to announce -- and then denounce -- a Democrat's Muslim faith.

What You Won't Hear

Ace of Spades has some great commentary on the parts of General Sanchez's speech that the media has (conveniently) decided to ignore. Powerline observes that the general's criticism of the media isn't likely to see any play, either.

It's remarkable that General Sanchez would have chosen to give such a speech. Did he think that the negative assessment of Iraq wouldn't be reported, or that it wouldn't enspirit our enemies if it were? It's hard to imagine any World War II general -- even when the situation looked grim -- coming out and denouncing the handling of that war, even though, as Victor Davis Hanson has noted, there were plenty of mistakes even in the ultimately successful D-Day mission, and the disappointments and failures in Iraq have actually quite limited when compared to previous wars.

Of course we should be trying to prevail with no loss of life, and without mistakes. But that rarely happens. If General Sanchez ever knew that, why has he forgotten it?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Congratulations to Al Gore

As Nobel peace prize winner, he certainly joins an august assemblage. Ha.

What says it all? That Jimmy Carter would win the prize, while Ronald Reagan still remains despised by the sort of people who hand it out. Who -- of the two of them -- did more to bring down the Soviet Union, eliminate nculear weapons and end the Cold War?

Not the Nobel peace prize winner.

Mrs. Santa Claus

First it was the baby bond. Then it was a proposal to add to retirement accounts. Now, Hillary wants to provide tuition assistance.

In other words, she's willing to promise to take YOUR tax money and redistribute it all over -- to early middle aged people (those having babies), retirees, and young people -- in order to win votes.

We keep hearing from the MSM about how "centrist" Hillary is. This doesn't sound like centrism to me. It sounds like socialism -- where, from cradle to grave, Americans are supposed to be looking to the government for help.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Group . . .

The New York Times bemoans the plight of good liberals like Barney Frank being bedeviled by the left.

Even so, the piece is pretty kind to the radicals. Only imagine the analogous treatment of "the radical right" if they were attacking, say, moderate Republicans (or Republicans less willing to fall in line with the groups' agenda).

But it's fun to pop up the corn, pull up a chair, and watch the fringies attack the liberals. After all, the liberals are the ones who have created this beast.

Nooses -- the plot thickens

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Apparently, Columbia has refused to release security videotapes relating to the hanging of a noose on a professor's door. The university now requires the police to obtain a court order.


Agents of State Authority

Daniel Henninger asks whether Hillary Clinton, on the floor of the US Senate, would defend Rush Limbaugh's right to speak:

When Sen. Reid attacked Mr. Limbaugh on the floor of the Senate, some felt that Mr. Limbaugh was a big boy and perfectly capable of defending himself. I'm not so sure. If Mr. Limbaugh and his critics at Media Matters want to have a street fight, that's their business. But Sens. Reid and Salazar aren't just a couple of opinionated guys; they are agents of state authority, and they were leaning hard on Mr. Limbaugh. If you are Media Matters, if you are a man or woman of the Left, does state pressure on someone's political speech discomfort you? Or is it a welcome, even defensible, repression of harmful right-wing speech?

I fear it's the latter -- and that this kind of repression is much more likely to come from the left than from the right. That distinction has its genesis in the distinction between liberal and conservative views of the government's proper role. In a conservative's view, government should be limited, and should be focused less on facilitating "the good" (whatever one's view of that is) than in preventing bad behavior that gets in the way of others realizing their God-given potential.

In contrast, the left espouses a much more interventionist state that does more than essentially deter wrongdoing. In the left's view, the state is an engine of justice, a vehicle for righting wrongs, and a voice for those defined as "underdogs" in some way or another.

That's why the left is happy to try to find ways to silence right wing radio, but cavils at warrantless wiretapping of terrorists -- while on the right, using state power to go after terrorists is A-OK, but regulating the internet (the left wing analogue to talk radio) has never gotten any political traction.

Warming to Romney

Evangelical leaders are warming to Mitt Romney.

His social conservative positions are the primary reason -- but hey, it doesn't hurt that he's smart, articulate, and able to finance his own campaign.

Nooses and Strange Fruit

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

A noose was recently discovered on the door of an African-American professor at Columbia.

Within the context of American history, nooses and burning crosses constitute more than symbolic speech; they are assaults.

But, I have a hunch that the noose at Columbia was not put there by a white person. Given a noose's ability to generate news coverage, unscrupulous persons will likely start placing nooses not to intimidate blacks but to provide a forum for airing grievances, promoting feelings of victimization and extorting support.

We'll see how this plays out.

In the past, America reaped a shameful harvest of "Strange Fruit". Let's find out who is currently planting these seeds.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


According to this piece, Christianity has a pretty bad rap among young people.

The reasons? Well, church simply doesn't play as central a role in the lives of many Americans as it used to -- so many young people aren't being raised with any first-hand experience of churchgoing. And that makes them susceptible to the almost uniformly negative messages about traditional Christianity that appear in the MSM.

"Moving On" From the Iraq Debate

As Rush Limbaugh predicted, Democrats are backing off using Iraq as a political issue. Rush notes that even the Dem frontrunners have conceded that they may not bring troops home before 2013.

But there's even more to it than that. As I mentioned in my weekly debate on Al Rantel's show on KABC, Democrats have been caught in a vise of their own making. On the one hand, their inability and/or failure to bring the troops home (or eliminate funding for them) has alienated the anti-war fringies on the left. On the other, the successes of the surge make it more difficult for them to win over centrists with their defeatist chatter -- and even raises the possibility that normal Americans will come to resent Dem efforts to force a failure in Iraq should it become increasingly clear that such a failure is far from inevitable.

So it makes sense that the Dems are moving on (no pun intended) from Iraq. It isn't working for them as a political issue anymore -- and that's all it's ever been for most of them since the beginning.

So Isn't It Working Now?

This story outlines the controversy arising from the Democrats' use of the Frost family to illustrate how important the S-Chip program is.

The Frosts say that they speak on behalf of SCHIP so that it may help other families the way it helped them. But isn't that the point -- that the program, as it's currently constituted, already helps people like the Frosts? No one is trying to eliminate SCHIP; Republicans are merely objecting to it being expanded to more affluent people.

So what, exactly, does the Frosts' testimony prove, except that the program is working just fine in its current form?

Where's the Compassion?

The city of San Francisco has started cracking down on the homeless population. Hm. Wasn't that sort of behavior supposed to be the exclusive province of heartless conservatives? It seems when their own quality of life is at stake, many liberals are more willing to talk the talk (and tax "the rich") than walk the walk. Where's the spirit of "shared sacrifice" for the less fortunate?

Backing Off Is a Good Thing

This piece in The Hill notes that Tony Perkins -- whom I interviewed last week on Hugh Hewitt's show -- and Gary Bauer are backing off the threat to support a third party candidate if Rudy Giuliani is the GOP nominee in '08.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pretty Much What You'd Expect

Having watched the Republican debate courtesy of Tivo, it strikes me as pretty much what you'd expect.

Rudy and Romney understand that they're pretty much the frontrunners, John McCain was something of a bystander, and as for Fred Thompson . . . well, it would be unfair to characterize his performance as all sizzle, no steak. There really wasn't even much sizzle.

"Scientific Consensus" Can Be Wrong

Here's the story of how the whole "fat is bad" legend became incorporated into the American psyche -- with possibly serious implications for our health.

Global warming adherents, beware. Sometimes 92% of all scientists -- the number quoted in the story as believing that fat caused heart disease -- can be wrong.

What's Not Being Said

It's a sad commentary on journalism that writers like Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post and Tim Rutten of the LA Times either can't get the facts right -- or else deliberately "misunderstand" them order to advance weak arguments.

Today, in his column, Robinson argues that both left and right wrongly believe that there is a "black America" (whatever; anyone could tell you that conservatives are far more likely than liberals to eschew the kind of identity politics that Robinson deplores, but he's not about to admit that). In order to make his argument, Robinson harkens back to a non-controversy generated by Media Matters about Bill O'Reilly and writes:

Why is O'Reilly under siege? Because he was shocked to learn that there exists in this country an upscale black-owned restaurant with an affluent African American clientele.

Please. Even Juan Williams -- a liberal African American to whom O'Reilly's remarks were directed -- clarified in a Time magazine piece that there was nothing racist about them. In fact, O'Reilly's point was the same as Robinson's: That upscale black-owned restaurants are little different than those catering to whites. And that information was readily obtainable through even a cursory internet search.

Similarly, Tim Rutten in the LA Times, disucssing free speech and the phony scandal surrounding Rush Limbaugh and the "phony soldier" comment writes:

Limbaugh has a baroque explanation of what he actually meant by those words, but you probably have to be a regular listener to his show to follow it.

Actually, you don't. You simply have to be able -- and, Mr. Rutten, willing -- to read the transcript and take the trouble to get to the truth. It shouldn't be too much to ask of a journalist, but then again, it does undermine Rutten's assertion that

Limbaugh regularly goes on the air and says cruel and offensive things about people of all sorts. Most Americans with a pulse, however, are abundantly clear on the fact that Rush talks a pretty mean game.

Where, exactly, is his evidence, or an example? Has Rutten listened to Rush? And what kinds of commentary is he labeling "offensive"? Rush's dialogue is often pointed, but I'm at a loss to understand what constitutes the "cruel and offensive" remarks that, according to Rutten, Rush engages in "regularly."

It's disconcerting how often one finds mistakes or intellectual dishonesty in pieces that even tangentially concern any matter about which the reader has (or is capable of obtaining) personal knowledge. It's enough to make you wonder what's inaccurate in the pieces where the reader has no such independent knowledge or the possibility of getting it.

Because we're all capable of reading Robinson's remarks and O'Reilly, the speciousness of Robinson's and Rutten's claims -- and their apparent willingness to swallow the Media Matters line without any independent research -- is disturbingly evident. What else are they (and other "journalists") getting wrong that we're not able to check for ourselves?

The Heavy Hand of Democrats

Given Democrats' tender concern for the feelings and the rights of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, it's a bit surprising that they're so willing to use their governmental power to bully and intimidate law abdiding talk radio show hosts whose only "crime" is exercising their First Amendment rights.

But they are. Congressman Henry Waxman is spending taxpayer money for his committee to compile reports on popular (conservative) talk radio show hosts. So much for doing "the people's" business -- unless, that is, "the people" are exclusively liberal.

A Slice of Life in Iraq

The MSM won't like it -- no tales of doom and gloom here -- but this piece highlights just how much progress has been made in Iraq.

Where's Harry Reid?

Second Lady Lynne Cheney has been defending Mitt Romney against attacks based solely on the fact that he's a Mormon.

As, in fact, all of us should be doing. Religious bigotry -- whether it's directed against a Democrat or a Republican -- is just plain wrong. But it's particularly noteworthy that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been so silent -- after all, he's a Mormon, too. It's Reid's right to speak up or not, as he chooses. But his silence forces the question: Is bigotry against his own religion OK with Reid so long as it's directed at someone with whom he disagrees politically? After all, it's hard to imagine him standing idly by if a Democrat co-religionist were being attacked in a comparable way.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Media Hall of Shame

Over at the American Thinker, Randall Hoven performs an invaluable service by listing 101 of the most egregious examples of false information being put into the public domain. Please note the falsehoods in Dan Rather's 1988 piece "The Wall Within" -- did he do nothing but narrate that broadcast, too?

Politicizing 9/11

Remember when the Democrats screamed bloody murder, like this time and that time, charging that Republicans were seeking to "politicize 9/11"?

Well, let's see if we hear the same high-minded denunciation now that Hillary Clinton is using images of 9/11 in a political ad. It's not likely -- the only people, it seems, who are forbidden from using 9/11 images are those who do so to remind us that we're actually in a war against Islamofascist terrorists who want to kill us.

Doesn't the Crime Matter?

Sandy Berger -- who stole classified terrorism documents, destroyed them and then lied about it -- is now advising Hillary Clinton.

This stunning display of arrogance and poor judgment on Hillary's part does nothing to dispel suspicions that Berger committed those crimes in order to shield from public scrutiny sensitive materials pertaining to the Clinton Administration's handling of terrorism matters.

Speaking Spanish in the United States?

ABC is reporting that two-thirds of Americans aren't bothered by contacts with Spanish speakers. Somehow, this is being interpreted as indifference as to whether Spanish is widely spoken in the U.S.

This poll seems to conflict with the political reality that 30 states have made English their official language. Surely politicians wouldn't bother if such initiatives didn't have relatively broad support.

Perhaps the confusion is in the way the poll question is presented. Many people -- me included -- have no problem with having "contact" with people who speak Spanish, i.e. who speak English with a Spanish accent. Nor do I particularly care what language they choose to speak at home.

I am, however, bothered by bilingual education, bilingual billboards, and all the rest here in the United States. That's not because I consider English the "master tongue," or for any other bigoted reason. It's because I firmly believe that no country can survive as a healthy, functioning democracy with a wholesome culture if those participating in both can't understand each other. It's the responsibility of those coming to the United States to learn English, just as it would be my responsibility to learn Swedish if I moved to Sweden, or Spanish if I moved to South America.

When a country's people can't understand each other, chaos, division, balkanization and factionalism result. So if we want to have Spanish, let's all speak Spanish in public discourse. Or else, let's all speak English.

The Faith Double Standard

So Barack Obama talks about faith more than any of the other Democratic candidates. No doubt the faith is real, but one suspects he references it so much because he's counting on garnering significant African-American support in the primaries, and African Americans are far and away the most religious part of the Democratic coalition. Hillary Clinton -- Obama's chief competitor for the black vote -- also talks a fair amount about religion.

What's interesting is the double standard in the MSM when it comes to God talk. When Republicans do it, it's treated as dangerous pandering to ignorant, bigoted, would-be theocrats. When Democrats do it, it's treated as either a savvy political move (to blunt Republicans' advantage among the faithful) or a genuine reflection of, say, a candidate's southern roots.

What's most clear is that Democrats can get away with much more when it comes to mixing politics and religion -- imagine the explosion in the press if one of the Republican candidates essentially characterized a political opponent as Satan, or called for creating God's kingdom on earth.

When Hillary or Barack invoke religion, no doubt the silence from the left will be conspicuous -- for one of two reasons. Either the atheist left's opposition to "the religious right" is not as much a principled as a political one, or else they don't really believe that the Democratic candidates are sincere in their religious talk, and thus see no reason for alarm.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Right Litmus Test

Steven Calabresi sets out perhaps one of the clearest explanations of what all Americans should be looking for in a Supreme Court justice:

[T]he proper basis on which we should evaluate the court's performance in this term and in the future is not whether it reaches "conservative" or "liberal" results in constitutional cases, but whether it reaches results that are faithful to the Constitution as written and understood at the time of its adoption.

In practice, of course, many of the outcomes reached by such a method would be more likely roughly to correspond with "conservative" principles. But that's not by design -- it's just because other methods of constitutional interpretation, like those espousing a "living Constitution," open themselves to sweeping opinions by the judiciary based on nothing in the document's actual text. And that, in turn, has the result of enabling judges to enact their policy preferences under the guise of deciding cases. That, of course, readily allows those judges who are seeking to implement policies and arrangements that have never been understood to be constitutionally guaranteed -- finding "rights" like that to abortion, gay marriage or assisted suicide -- to legislate from the bench.

Word to Robert Byrd

To Democrats like Robert Byrd who would rather simply avert their eyes from the plain facts, General Petraeus makes it crystal clear: Iran is attacking US soldiers and trying to destabilize Iraq.

Here's film of Robert Byrd denouncing America's handling of the Iran problem. Among other ignorant remarks, Byrd declaimed, "Every day it seems that the confrontational rhetoric between the United States and Iran escalates. We hear shadowy claims about Iran’s destabilizing actions in Iraq with little direct evidence offered to back it up."

Well, now -- even more explicitly than before -- Byrd has General Petraeus' word. Is he really calling the General a liar?

Sign of the Apocalypse

Girls as young as seven years old are pole-dancing in Australia.

Call me a prude, but there are plenty of other ways for girls (of all ages) to enjoy the benefits of exercise without aping a bunch of strippers. And shame on their mothers for encouraging them.

Where the Concern for World Opinion?

A Brit writes today in The Washington Post about how unlikely a Hillary Clinton candidacy would be in other parts of the first world:

[I]n no other advanced democracy today could someone with Clinton's r¿sum¿ even be considered a candidate for national leadership. It's true that wives do sometimes inherit political reins from their husbands, but usually in recovering dictatorships in Latin America such as Argentina, where Sen. Cristina Fern¿ndez de Kirchner may succeed President N¿stor Kirchner, or Third World countries such as Sri Lanka or the Philippines -- and in those cases often when the husbands have been assassinated.

Apparently, there are limits to Democrats' desires to model the United States' behavior on that of European democracies.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Lies in Plame Sight

According to Robert Novak, Joe Wilson never forcefully objected to the naming of his wife, Valerie Plame, in the column that started the entire Fitzgerald investigation.

Domenici Retiring

As The Fix notes, Senator Pete Domenici's (R-NM) retirement offers another pickup opportunity for Democrats.

What's worth watching for is whether the Dems get a top tier candidate to run. If they're down to their third or fourth choice -- and Domenici is willing to get out and stump for his protege, Rep. Heather Wilson -- then it's far from a foregone conclusion that Republicans will lose the seat.

Using Their Spouses

This piece discusses how the presidential candidates' spouses have played an important role in "humanizing" them.

The more of this we see, the more I respect Jackie Kennedy's determination to have as little as possible to do with her husband's campaign. Almost all the examples listed in the piece have been cloying and/or annoying.

Perhaps the one spouse who deserves special mention in this context -- although she doesn't receive it in the piece -- is Elizabeth Edwards. This week she slandered Rush -- and that's after she's bad-mouthed Hillary Clinton and sandbagged Ann Coulter. The attack-dog antics have done little to advance her husband's campaign, and if anything, have made him come off as something of a wimp. It's hard not to suspect that the public sympathy generated by her illness has led her to believe that she can get away with harsher rhetoric than she might otherwise employ. Notably, however, Ann Romney -- who has MS -- hasn't stooped to such tactics.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Beware the Blowback

Social conservative leaders flirting with support for a third-party candidate if Rudy wins the nomination admit it would "hurt" Republicans by effectively handing The White House keys to Democrats.

But one must wonder if those leaders understand that it would also hurt their own cause, by generating significant ill-will toward them on the part of those who have long been allies -- people like the social conservatives who don't explicitly identify themselves as part of the Religious Right, for example.

And perhaps some people who do. Here is a sample of an email I received after hosting last night's Hugh Hewitt Show:

In spite of my evangelical Christian roots and my great admiration for both men, I am angry at them for trying to essentially scare me into voting in a particular way.

What Dr. Dobson has done is to try to influence my vote not by offering open support for an electable pro-life candidate but by threatening me with the specter of virtually handing the election to Hillary Clinton unless I, as a Republican, vote to nominate an avowedly pro-life candidate. This is flat out bullying of the religious right in the name of "principle."

Well said.

What's more, for some time, there has been a chorus in some segments of the party that the influence of the Religious Right should be diminished; social conservative allies of the movement have resisted such calls. But should the Religious Right desert the party in an hour of peril, it will be difficult for it to regain its influence any time soon within the political process where it has long played an important role -- and the people like Christie Todd Whitman, John Danforth and others who have deplored its power will see their mistrust vindicated.

What Selfishness

Having embarassed himself, his family and his state, Larry Craig just keeps going. After pleading guilty in the airport bathroom matter, he was going to do the decent thing and resign. Then he was going to wait to see if his guilty plea (made knowingly and wilfully) could be rescinded. Now even that doesn't matter -- he's not going, period. Too bad if naming a replacement would give the GOP an edge in the upcoming elections by allowing it to run the incumbent.

No, Larry Craig is going to do exactly what he wants to do, whatever the cost to others. Seems to be a pattern, doesn't it?