Carol Platt Liebau: July 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Supreme concerns

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

Chief Justice Robert appears to have recovered from a seizure that put him briefly in the hospital. Thank goodness.

In a Supreme Court as divided as the present one, the health of Justices is front-page news. The viciousness of fights over Court appointments arises in part from Congress and the President having injected federal law into every nook and cranny of life, thereby placing everything we do within the court's scrutiny. Additional fault lies with the courts, which over the last 50 years have taken an increasingly aggressive posture vis-a-vis the states and the other federal branches. Some might say this trend slackened with the Rhenquist and Roberts Courts, while others will argue that this aggression simply took a different turn.

Whether you like the trend or not, another fact is that greater life expectancies have substantially increased the tenure of the Justices. Old age brings inevitable mental decline, and can also bring emotional instability. Long service on the bench also triggers a condition known to the bar as robe-itis, where a judge has lost perspective on his relative importance in the world. Too often justices believe themselves to be the special guardians of particular segments of the population. This is bad for the law and for our republic.

I don't think the founding fathers, when they provided for unlimited judicial terms, anticipated people regularly serving on the bench for decades, and they certainly could not have expected widespread service by people in their 70s and 80s. As much as I admire the work of Justice Thomas, for example, I don't think it's good for the country to have him on the court for 40 years.

The time has come for service limits for Supreme Court Justices, somewhere in the 12-18 year range. If the reach of federal law and the aggressiveness of modern judging make nominating and confirming a Supreme Court Justice inevitably contentious, we can reduce the harm to the law and the country by lowering the stakes. Term limits will do this by increasing the frequency and regularity of appointments. Limits will also force the Justices to think more seriously about continuity in their jurisprudence, since they won't be able to cement a legacy simply through long service.

We have met the enemy, and he is us!

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Democrats are rethinking their "soak the rich" tax on hedge funds. ( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118584621735982940.html?mod=hpp_us_pageone)

In addition to counting up the campaign donations received from the hedge fund community, Democrats are beginning to hear from pension funds (including unions), endowments and other assets managers how important hedge-fund activity is to returns.

There is a difference between making obscene wealth (hedge-fund managers) and making wealth obscenely (Madonna). I note that few so-called progressives ever try to combat obscene wealth creation the straightforward way -- offer the same quality good/service at a lower price. As for making wealth obscenely, should Madonna ever find herself too aged to gyrate in public unclothed, she can always go into politics.

I Guess Chelsea's Fair Game Now

This is Ruth Anne Adams, of "The Maternal Optimist."

~~~~~

The New York Times did a rather long profile of the young Clinton and her potential role as her mother's presidential campaign trudges onward. It takes almost 40 paragraphs to get to her, for want of a better word, "boyfriend" Marc Mezvinsky. Mezvinsky's parents both served in Congress and his father was riddled with a sex scandal in 2002. Like Chelsea, he graduated from Stanford and is currently in the elite banking field. Their religions differ, however, with Mezvinsky being Jewish and Clinton being Methodist. Perhaps the New York Times is suggesting a modern update to "Bridget loves Bernie"?

Always a sucker for a big, splashy wedding, I've wanted a White House wedding for many years. I have very vague memories of Tricia Nixon's White House wedding. I had hopes that one of the Bush twins might've pulled it off, but I am losing hope there. Much as I want Chelsea to be happily [and splashily] married, I don't want her other parent in the Oval Office just to satiate my nuptial hunger.

Chelsea Clinton fascinates me because she's a Clintonian sphinx. From the article, I believe she picked up her father's skill at conversing with anyone about anything, and her mother's personal discipline and taste in clothes: pantsuits.

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The Real Che Guevara

This is Betsy Newmark

One of the most amazing examples of how down has become up and up down is the way that Che Guevara is idealized as a symbol of coolness in popular culture. There are two more movies about him schedule to come out about Guevara. And I somehow doubt that these are going to be movies showing the vicious, murderous history of what Guevara was like. For that, you could read the new book, Exposing the real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him by Humberto Fontova. You can also read this illuminating interview with Fontova.
Cybercast News Service: What do you consider to be some of Guevara's greatest crimes or offenses that people today should know about?

Humberto Fontova: He was the chief executioner. He performed for the Cuban revolution what Heinrich Himmler performed for the Nazis. Everything Che Guevara did was directed by Fidel Castro. Early on, when they were in the mountains, Castro realized that Che seemed to relish executing little farm boys. There were executions carried out, carried out in the mountains, of so-called informers. I interviewed many people who witnessed those executions. There was no due process.

Che Guevara wrote a letter to his father in 1957 and to his abandoned wife. In the letter to her, he wrote, "I'm here in Cuba's hills, alive and thirsting for blood." Then, to his father, "I really like killing." The man was a clinical sadist, whereas Fidel Castro you could describe as a psychopath in that the murders did not affect him one way or the other. It was a means to an end - the consolidation of his one-man rule. Che has a famous quote, where he wrote, a revolutionary has to become "a cold killing machine." The thing was, Che Guevara was anything but cold. He was a warm killing machine. He relished the slaughter.

Cybercast News Service: Are there reliable estimates on the number of people killed by Guevara or killed as a result of his policies or orders?

Humberto Fontova: He was put in charge of the execution squads in early 1959. He stayed in charge of the prison where most of the executions took place in Havana. And in the months he was in charge there, about four months until July 1959, the estimates run from 500 to 1,182 men and boys sent to the firing squad without due process. But the system he set in place for the executions ... in that system of justice, according to "The Black Book of Communism" - the definitive source - by the mid-sixties, 14,000 men and boys had been executed in Cuba. That was the year, December 1964, when Che Guevara ... addressed the General Assembly, and he said: "Executions? Certainly we execute. And we will continue executing as long as it is necessary!" So, in other words, he still claimed the system. It was still his system at work.


Cross-posted at Betsy's Page.

Monday, July 30, 2007

John Edwards' paranoid solipsism

Thank you so much to Carol for inviting me to guest-blog for her. This is Betsy Newmark of Betsy's Page.

In Edwards-world, it's all about him and those who don't support him are not only his opponents, but the opponents of all that is good and pure. In a recent speech, he warned supporters about how "they" were out to get him.
This stuff's not an accident. Nobody in this room should think this is an accident. You know, I'm out there speaking up for universal healthcare, ending this war in Iraq, speaking up for the poor. They want to shut me up. That's what this is about. "Let's distract from people who don't have health care coverage. Let's distract from people who can't feed their children.... Let's talk about this silly frivolous nothing stuff so that America won't pay attention."

They will never silence me. Never.

If we don't stand up to these people, if we don't fight em, if we don't beat them, they're going to continue to control this country. Thye're going to control the media. They're going to control what's being said. They do not want to hear us talking about health care for everybody.
Who are "these people?" Republicans? Anyone who doesn't like him? Anyone who makes fun of his hair and house? Are Jon Stewart and Jay Leno these people?

And who is it that he thinks is controlling the media? Conservatives? Come on, even Edwards can't believe that conservatives are controlling the media and what is being said in this country.

And, it's always cute how someone can give a speech complaining about how others are trying to shut him up. Maybe he could travel to some other countries like North Korea or Iran or Russia these days and find out how "those people" act when they really want to shut someone up. If our goal was to shut up John Edwards, he wouldn't be out there giving speeches in public and appearing on televised debates. His paranoia is delusional.

You know, Democrats love squealing that any Republican who criticizes them on their recommended policies on Iraq are impugning their patriotism. It doesn't matter that their patriotism is never even mentioned; they see any disagreement as an attempt to demonize them. Now Edwards has added a new twist: anyone who ridicules John Edwards (and I plead guilty here) is against the poor. I think he's impugning our compassion.

Cross-posted at Betsy's Page.

Just Musing...

This is guest blogger Ruth Anne Adams of The Maternal Optimist. [Thanks, Carol, for allowing me to pinch-hit for you at your place.]

I readily admit to a lack of knowledge on the inner workings of Islam, so please, just know that I'm musing from my decidedly Catholic Christian perspective.

The Muslim faith has been around for about 1500 years now. At about this point in the Christian faith, internal tensions manifested themselves in a reformation and a counter-reformation. Is there a Muslim equivalent of Martin Luther? Is there a reformer who will nail 95 theses to the Muslim equivalent of Wittenburg Cathedral?

Well...is there?

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The only solution in Iraq...

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

The recent success of American and Iraqi forces in Iraq poses a problem for Democrats, who have so deeply invested in our defeat there.

As good military news continues to come in, Democrats seeking to downplay this good news will resume their mantra: "[T]he only solution in Iraq is a political one."
Don't be fooled.

The mantra references von Clausewitz's dictum that war is an extension of politics by other means. Properly understood, von Clausewitz observes that warfighting is a means to an end, an end which involves imposing one's will on the other side through a political settlement.

In stating that "the only solution...is a political one", Democrats argue that force and politics are disconnected. Nothing could be further from von Clausewitz's thinking or from historical experience. Warfighting and politics are more than connected; they are part of the same thing, although the former is subordinate to the latter. Sometimes, the only way to achieve an acceptable political solution is to occupy the enemy's territory, to lay waste to its farms, industry, transport and population centers, and to kill or capture its armed forces. Witness the US Civil War (and that was a civil war) and World War II. These experiences (as well as the consequences of punishing Germany after World War I), have given rise to the American preference for a hard war and an easy peace.

But Clausewitz's dictum does not always apply. It presupposes that warfighting is the exclusive province of sovereign states fighting with professional armies. (See The Transformation of War, by Israeli historian Martin van Creveld.) Among warrior cultures, fighting is an affirmative good. Lewis and Clark's effort to make peace among the Plains Indians foundered in part upon the fact that Indian society selected leaders and conferred status through success in combat. The Indians recognized that without war, their social order would collapse. (See, Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose.)

Beyond warrior culture, religiously motivated warfare presents an insoluble problem for the "political solution" school, since fighting represents an end in itself. The best thing in life is to kill or vanquish the enemy. The next best thing is to die trying. Peace on any terms other than the complete submission of the unbeliever is a sin. To think that any "political solution" is possible with such an adversary is nonsense. Facing an enemy like Al Qaeda (and the Iranian mullahs), we can only kill, surrender unconditionally, or be killed.

Given the overwhelming conventional might of the United States, our political and religiously motivated adversaries have embraced unconventional warfare. If we are unwilling simply to annihilate the population among which the enemy moves (because it is distasteful or counterproductive), then protecting and winning over the enemy's populace becomes key. America may prefer a hard war and an easy peace, but in Iraq we have the paradigm of an easy war and a hard peace. We had better get used to it.

And we had better not fool ourselves when Democrats decry the utility and necessity of force in achieving political solutions.

UPDATE: Wile E.: I embedded the link. I hope you don't mind. Ruth Anne :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ratatouille: Art imitates life imitates business?

This is guest blogger Wile E Coyote.

I saw Pixar's Ratatouille a couple weeks ago with my family.

In the film, Chef Gusteau, a passionate and visionary culinary artist, has died. His restaurant has been taken over by Skinner, a short, swarthy bald hack who has prostituted the Gusteau name into lines of disgusting frozen dinners. Skinner has also run Gusteau's restaurant into the ground through mindless and soulless repetition of Gusteau's recipes.

Enter the film's hero, Remy, a rodent who idolizes Gusteau and shares his fearless genius for creating wonderful food. Remy battles to restore Gusteau's restaurant to its former greatness.

Now, Shrek was a conscious satire of Disney, with the diminutive egomaniac Lord Farquad standing in for Disney's diminutive egomaniac CEO Michael Eisner. Ratatouille left me wondering whether Pixar wasn't doing something similar, with Gusteau in place of Walt Disney, Skinner in place of Eisner (short, swarthy, bald), and Remy representing the spirit of Mickey Mouse that Pixar now claims for itself.

So maybe art imitates life. But business is business: since Disney has recently acquired Pixar, we will see how long Pixar can wear the creative mantle it has taken upon itself and thus far (Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille) worn so well.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

A "Public Service" Academy?

Here is one of the worst ideas I've heard in a long time. Hillary Clinton wants to establish a national public service academy on par with the military service academies to train government bureaucrats.

Sure, France has something like that. But here in America, we aren't about worshipping big government and the bureaucracies they bring with them (except, of course, for a few notable liberal presidential candidates). We have the finest higher education system in the world, and people who are going to go work in the government don't need some big new academy to teach them how to do it.

What young men and women learn in the military academies is specialized knowledge. There's no doubt that government service of any kind can be honorable, but it's laughable to think that everything from an inspector general to a prosecutor to a bureaucrat at Health and Human Services to a government secretary requires -- or merits -- some sort of specialized training.

Just one more great idea Hillary has for using your tax money, folks.

Not So Far

This piece in the New York Observer opines that the dust-up between Senators Clinton and Obama about meeting with foreign leaders in the first year of office has seriously diminished the chances of Hillary Clinton choosing Barack Obama as her running mate.

What such an analysis overlooks, of course, is that Hillary Clinton would pick George W. Bush as her running mate -- if she thought it would make it easier for her to win. Somehow, the writer's been fooled into thinking there will be something principled about Hillary's veep choice; obviously, he hasn't been paying attention to much of her political career.

What a Bunch of Victims

It's impossible to understand how anyone could imagine liberals could assume leadership in the war on terror. All they are, it sometimes seems, are a bunch of self-proclaimed victims, whining about "unfairness."

Take the newest example -- trying to pressure advertisers who work with the Fox News Channel. Why? Because they believe that Fox leans right, even though every other major news network leans left. And a supposedly right-leaning news channel . . . that just isn't fair.

What's more, Charles Schumer is now whining that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito duped Senate Democrats -- and every Democrat who voted for the war claims to have been tricked by the Bush Administration (from this perspective, of course, Saddam Hussein is positively blameless).

Why should anyone trust these weak sisters to run the country and deal with America's adversaries, some of whom -- gasp! -- might be even tougher adversaries than President Bush, congressional Republicans, and two Supreme Court justices?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Good Move -- Or Not?

Charles Krauthammer believes that Barack Obama's pledge to meet without condition with all the world's worst tyrants during his first year of office revealed him as naive and unprepared for the presidency.

In contrast, EJ Dionne opines that the entire matter -- including the controversy that erupted when Hillary Clinton criticized Obama's stance -- devolved to Barack's advantage, because "Clinton started a battle about experience and Obama turned it into a debate about change."

The truth is that the whole kerfuffle probably met the objectives of both campaigns. After all, at the moment, the nomination is Hillary's to lose; she's had her eye on making herself palatable for the general election for months now. Showing strength and resolve relative to Obama aids in this objective. In contrast, Obama needs all the support he can get in the primaries before confronting any doubts about his leadership that may exist in the general electorate. And there, after all, impressions about him are more fluid (and therefore more malleable) than they are about Hillary, whom people already believe they know very well -- which might allow him to rework this "gaffe" in the course of a general election campaign without much trouble.

Thus, sad to say, there's an argument to be made that the whole affair did nothing but advance the campaigns of both leading Democratic candidates.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Lot of Bad Hair Days

Carl Leubsdorf of the Dallas Morning News lists a number of reasons that the Edwards campaign is in trouble -- and most of them are dead on. There are, indeed, more interesting candidates in the race, Edwards has been handicapped by a number of his own gaffes, etc., etc.

But there are other problems. John Edwards originally emerged on the national scene as someone who presented himself as a fairly moderate Southern Democrat. Now he's one of the loudest lefties in the race. That confuses people, and undermines the sense of authenticity that's essential to a winning campaign.

What's more, it just may be that -- despite the real liking and overwhelming sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards that so many people feel -- they also may not be comfortable throwing their support to John Edwards, given that they can imagine the variety of heartaches and distractions that could throw his campaign off course during crucial times (i.e. between nomination and election time). Not politically correct, perhaps, but true -- and with the other candidates in the race, like Clinton and Obama, there's no reason to roll the dice.b

Not Falling Far from the Tree

Finally, there is dispositive truth that ACORN has, at the very least, turned a blind eye to voter fraud. It's not like it's the first time.

Given that, for all we know, this could just be the tip of the iceberg, what do those who oppose all measures intended to protect the integrity of the vote -- like requiring some form of ID -- have to say now?

What the Dems Are Up To

It's amazing to see the agenda items that come slithering out of the shadows when Democrats believe they have the chance to win a presidential election.

After they get done reinstituting the (un)Fairness Doctrine, Jean Edward Smith advocates in today's NY Times a little Supreme Court packing. Heck, she should know all about it; she's the author of a book about F.D.R.

What's so entertaining about lefties is that they're so artless about their agenda:

If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or two.

First, since when did upholding a legislative ban on partial birth abortion, insisting on colorblindness when it comes to school assignments and the like constitute a "thumbing" of the nose at "popular values"? Second, haven't noticed Americans rioting in the streets. Third, how typical of lefties this whole idea is: When they don't like the outcome, they simply try to change the rules, a la Al Gore, Florida 2000.

RIP Jake

One of the heroes of the 9/11 rescue efforts has died. May he rest in peace.

Jake, Winston salutes you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dems Back Down

The Homeland Security bill will include protections for Americans who report suspicious activity that might be terrorism related.

What's interesting is that the Democrats had to be pressured into supporting such a common sense measure.

A Rising Tide

As this NY Post op/ed points out, there's been a rising tide of support for the war and optimism about its outcome.

It strikes me as more evidence that the Democrats have misconstrued their "mandate." They seem to think they were elected to engineer defeat in the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Rather, they were elected on the tide of frustration with the slow pace of success and on the backs of George Allen's "macaca" implosion and the Mark Foley scandal.

It will be interesting to see how (and if) the Democrats step back from the brink if news in Iraq continues to improve (and there is good news there, as this post from Bill Roggio indicates [HT: Hugh Hewitt]). Dems could end up in a difficult position if the rabid left wing that's gained prominence in their party remains wholeheartedly committed to defeat, even as the mainstream American realizes that victory is possible -- and this difficulty couldn't happen to a nicer group of people.

A Really Dumb Plan

According to the Politico, Arlen Specter intends to examine the statements of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to see if they were somehow misleading or inconsistent with the votes the justices have made since ascending to the Supreme Court. Yes, that would be Arlen Spector (R-often in name only, PA).

The idea is so foolish that it's almost tedious to discuss it. The Court is a co-equal branch of government with the Congress. The Constitution offers one remedy for misbehavior on the part of judges: Impeachment. A judge voting his conscience in a case that comes before him -- when that's what he's been sworn to do -- can't be construed as an impeachable offense anywhere outside an insane asylum, whether Arlen Specter likes the outcome or not. And that's really the end of the story. After all, this is hardly the first time that senators have voted for a justice hoping they're getting one thing and then winding up with another. Exhibit A: David Souter.

It's remarkable that Specter would choose this time and these justices to initiate such an undertaking. No doubt we'll see Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O'Connor and other prominent jurists emerge to inveigh against the threat to judicial independence -- as they did when judges and justices were being criticized from the right. Or not.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Sad & Dangerous Trend

This report in The Boston Globe discusses the increase in the number of cohabiting couples who have children together without benefit of wedlock.

It's hard to understand what they are thinking. What is the point of staying unmarried -- unless, of course, it's just to make sure that it's easy to walk away from a commitment that became infinitely greater when the children were born?

Most of all, what is the point of denying the children the stability of a household where the parents are married? Is keeping one's "autonomy" and "freedom" that much more important than providing little ones with a hom headed by two parents who are committed enough to the family unit that they're willing to marry?

Priceless Headline

The header to this story reads: "Senator Boxer going to Greenland." Now if she'd only stay there.

Who Would Have Thought?

Just as it's a sad day when Joe Biden sounds like a voice of reason, there's something eerie going on when Hillary Clinton sounds tougher and more savvy about dealing with America's enemies than other Democrats running for the presidential nomination.

And yep, as Byron York points out, that's exactly what happened last night. (Audio here).

Anyone surprised that the MSM just didn't get it?

The Surge is Working

The American Thinker's JR Dunn has details here. The question, however, is how best to communicate this information to the American people.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The "True Boob" Debate

At risk of being disrespectful to a segment of my fellow Americans -- most specifically, those whose questions were selected by CNN for the You Tube debate tonight -- well, they are idiots. Read the transcript and see for yourself. "Inane" was the key word of the day.

Questions ranged from the predictable left-wing preoccupations, such as whether there should be reparations for African Americans to whether Senator Obama is authentically black, to how Senator Clinton feels about running as a woman -- and so much more, including the requisite war-bashing. Rarely was there any question that reflected any depth or seriousness about the country's problems, and as I've noted before, there is something scary -- truly scary -- when Joe Biden is left to sound like the voice of reason, as he actually did when he lambasted some of his fellow senators for having failed to vote to fund the war.

Of course, the fault also lies with those who selected the questions -- namely, CNN. From the queries (and questioners) that were chosen, it seemed as though CNN was determined to pander to the far-left base that it apparently assumed was the debate's primary audience. There were virtually no questions that challenged the candidates from the right, plenty that challenged from the left.

It will be interesting to see: Has CNN simply decided that it will do what it takes to gain the foothold among the left analogous to the reputation that Fox News has enjoyed on the right? The acid test will be when CNN hosts the You Tube debate among Republicans. When the questions for Republicans are as skewed toward the right -- i.e. why don't you support deeper tax cuts? do you want to increase the number of troops in Iraq, etc. -- as the questions tonight were skewed toward the left, then I'll be convinced that CNN is actually striving to be "fair and balanced."

The Culture of Corruption - Intensified!

So much for the Democrats' inveighing against the "culture of corruption." Apparently, ethics matter only to the extent that they can be used as a weapon against the Republicans.

Robert Novak lays out Harry Reid's latest assault on transparency and reform here.

The Woman Thing

This piece in the Politico notes that -- if the fates of Katie Couric as CBS news anchor and the show "Commander in Chief," featuring a female President, are any indication -- Hillary Clinton may have a tough road ahead.

Apparently, some are just figuring out that women will not flock, sheep-like, to vote for a candidate simply because they share the same gender.

The problem for those who would like to construct or rely on such scenarios is that -- perhaps unlike those from minority races or even religious faiths -- women are not (to borrow a little legal jargon) a "discrete and insular minority" in the country, where they stick together because, in some sense, they feel slightly embattled.

In fact, women are willing to vote for men because they live with them -- they're their husbands, sons, brothers, friends, etc. Men are not some "other" against whom women need, in most cases, to circle the wagons.

This "us against them" gender construct that feminists have tried to set up is a manifest failure, whether it comes to instituting "social change" or getting a woman elected President. Feminist "solidarity" may mean something when it comes to one's opinion about whether the toilet seat should be left up, but it means significantly less when it comes to the decision about who is best equipped to protect the country from terrorists.

Democrat Equals Defeat

My Townhall column notes that the Republicans have a strong case to make against "Democrat power-mongering, politics-playing, and profound lack of seriousness in protecting the American people and their vital national security interests, both at home and abroad."

Check it out.

Al Qaeda Turning?

This news story reports that many low-level Al Qaeda members in Iraq, sickened by the group's brutality, are providing information to coalition forces.

A key factor is that local people and members of al-Qaeda itself have become sickened by the violence and are starting to rebel, Lieutenant-Colonel Michael said. “The people have got to deny them sanctuary and that is exactly what is happening.”


Yes, the same people whom the Democrats want to desert.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Whose "Experts"?

Today, the Washington Post runs this piece, headlined "Fight Over Documents May Favor Bush, Experts Say," noting that the Clinton Administration's own arguments will bolster Bush Administration efforts not to surrender documents to Congress about the firings of US attorneys.

Yet last week in the Los Angeles Times, this piece read as follows:

Q: Who would win if the U.S. attorneys case went to court?

A: The courts have indicated that they would decide who wins by weighing the need for independence by the executive branch against the oversight role of Congress.

Though there is debate on this issue, most experts seem to believe the scales tip in favor of Congress.


Moral of the story? Be very, very careful when journalists start citing "experts": It all depends on which "experts" one chooses to cite. Global warming devotees in particular should take note.

Listen to the Generals

The people who know best say that we need to stay in Iraq.

Among other reasons, it's worth noting -- in a news tidbit not reported by the MSM -- that the National Intelligence Estimate points up the dangers of Al Qaeda in Iraq, as Steve Huntley writes:

After all, the National Intelligence Estimate released last week also said Osama bin Laden's organization will "probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq, its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland." Furthermore, the 9/11 Commission has said another attack on America by Islamist terrorists is inevitable, and a new threat assessment a week ago from the National Counterterrorism Center suggested al-Qaida is working to renew attacks on America. Now we're told al-Qaida in Iraq could be the agent for it.

Dead Serious?

Cindy Sheehan announces in an op/ed today that her fellow citizens are flocking to her nascent House campaign against Nancy Pelosi.

She also has some remarkably harsh things to say about the Democrat Party:

The Democrats are the party of slavery and were the party that started every war in the 20th century, except the other Bush debacle. The Federal Reserve, permanent federal income taxes, not one but two World Wars, Japanese concentration camps, and not one but two atom bombs dropped on the innocent citizens of Japan -- all brought to us via the Democrats.

No doubt Mrs. Sheehan is sadly confused about at least one of these particulars -- for those who oppose the mindless slaughter of Americans, dropping of the atom bomb after warnings were given to the Japanese minimized casualties among our soldiers.

But never mind. As the Democrats are learning, the media monster they created isn't so pretty now that she's turning on them.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Supporting the Troops." Not.

Bill Kristol outlines what appears to be another instance of journalistic malpractice on the part of those who are all too willing to believe the worst of American soldiers.

The Politics of Potter

Stories like this one are, in a sense, a backhanded tribute to the genius of the Harry Potter series. In a sense, the boy wizard's fight against the evil Lord Voldemort becomes a Rorschach inkblot test, where every reader hears in Harry's fight the echoes of what he/she defines as the central struggle of our time.

Some, as in the linked piece above, relate the stories to Darfur. Some have argued (inexplicably, in my view) that the series is a parable about opposing the war on terror.

As far as I'm concerned, it's almost impossible to avoid drawing obvious parallels between the protagonists of the books -- who insist that there is a looming danger threatening their world that complacent, head-in-the-sand fellow wizards want to ignore, thereby imperiling everyone -- and the disputes between conservatives and liberals in today's war on terror.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Democratic Priorities

They are more afraid of racial profiling than they are of terrorist attacks. That's the only possible reason Democrats would oppose an effort to protect whose who report suspicious behavior from frivolous lawsuits.

Border Fence = Berlin Wall?

That's what Bill Richardson says.

Of course, the moral obtuseness of the comparison is stunning. It's like equating a home burglar alarm system with a jail cell. The purpose of the former is to protect residents; the purpose of the latter is to imprison them.

A Bad Morning for Harry Reid

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over his head this morning.

After all, there's good news from Iraq -- the security situation is improving, and steps are being taken toward political reconciliation.

What's more, as Hugh Hewitt points out, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is hanging tough, and running rings around Reid when it comes to using the sometimes arcane procedures of the US Senate.

It would, of course, be easier to feel some twinge of pity for Reid if he hadn't revealed himself so willing to jettison every principle in the quest for political advantage when it comes to Iraq. But alas. As it is, it's hard to feel sympathy for anyone when bad news for them is good news for the country -- and vice versa. And that's just where the Democrats are when it comes to the war in Iraq.

Enjoy your August recess, Senator.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

'Bout Time

In Michigan, a court has clarified that requiring a picture ID to vote isn't a constitutional violation -- which it obviously isn't.

It's amazing that some people hold the right to vote in elections untainted by fraud so cheaply that they would complain about such a common sense measure.

As the Left Turns

Dennis Miller has often observed that the left tends to treat its "turncoats" with greater ugliness than does the right. Exhibit A is right here, as a writer with the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian eviscerates Cindy Sheehan. Amazing that many of the behaviors that previously bothered the left not at all -- including clearly anti-Semitic remarks -- are now being catalogued and purveyed by Sheehan's erstwhile friends.

She's even been banned from posting on the Daily Kos.

The entire episode once again demonstrates that the point of the whole pro-Sheehan media mania had nothing to do with any real sympathy for a bereaved mother, or anything but mindless political trashing of President Bush.

Now that Sheehan has threatened to run against Democrat Nancy Pelosi, she is no longer of use to the American political left. And so she's "outta here."

Check Out Media Mythbusters.com

Lorie Byrd explains.

So Much for Democratric "Diplomacy"

We hear so much about how the Democrats are going to repair America's relationship with the rest of the world. Presumably, the exception is when unions are calling the tune -- and at their behest, Dems are heading to South America to undermine bipartisan deals on free trade by hectoring some of our partners.

It seems like the only people the Democrats truly want to appease are those who wish us harm . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

General Petraeus Speaks

Hugh Hewitt interviewed General David Petraeus this afternoon (transcript here). Here's a question and an answer you're not likely to hear in a typical interview conducted by a member of the MSM:

HH: General, what about the losses on the enemy? You mentioned that hundreds of al Qaeda fighters have been killed in the last couple of months, but are they suffering losses in the thousands every month? Or is it hundred, two hundred? What kind of force reduction’s going on there?

DP: Yeah, as you know, we try to avoid body counting, but inevitably, obviously, it is something we keep track of, because we’re trying to have some sense of the damage that we are doing to al Qaeda-Iraq, its affiliates, other Sunni insurgent groups, and also certainly to the Shia militia extremist elements. And the answer to that in a general sense is that they are losing many, many hundreds of their, of these different elements each month, certainly since the onset of the surge.


Oh, and one other thing -- for the people who think that we can somehow reduce and redefine the US's mission in Iraq. Here's what General Petraeus had to say:

Well, first of all, al Qaeda-Iraq is throughout pretty substantial parts of Iraq, and it is a significant enough network in capability that it is not going to be dealt with just by certainly, if you will, classical counterterrorist operations. Indeed, we are doing those. Our best operators in America and in the world are here in the largest number of anywhere in the world by several multiples, and conducting a very, very high operational tempo, and doing extraordinary operations. When I think back to the operations that we did, for example, going after war criminals in Bosnia, or something like that, you know, and one of those would be a big deal, and you’d dine off that for the next several months. On a nightly basis here, you know, ten or twelve serious operations are going down by those forces.

Republicans, Speak Up!

The New York Post points out the excellent shape of the economy -- and the fact that under President Bush's stewardship, the Dow has risen from 7700 in the wake of 9/11 to over 14,000 yesterday.

How pathetic that so many Republicans are in such a purple panic over Iraq that they can't even find the time to point out some economic facts that aren't only true -- but are also likely to help them politically.

The Sexification of Politics?

Kathleen Parker quite rightly points to the "sexification" of elements of this year's presidential campaign -- the Obama girl, the Giuliani girl and the Hillary Clinton girl, complete with risque videos.

But the sade truth is that this trend is hardly new. Remember Votergasm from 2004? Or this sort of silly stuff?

Politics has followed along with the "vulgarization" of the rest of the culture. The difference is that, even as the internet made the sexualization of politics more accessible, now YouTube has made it more visually appealing -- a sort of catnip for television news producers looking to fill a 24 hour cycle.

What's the Surprise?

This article reports as news the fact that not every Republican Mormon in Congress has pledged support to Mitt Romney.

How silly. Has every Catholic politician pledged fealty to Rudy Giuliani? Did every Jewish Democrat endorse Joe Lieberman?

The fact is that the Romney campaign isn't about the candidate's religious faith. Why should anyone, then, automatically expect that he's entitled to -- or will necessarily receive -- the support of people just because they're coreligionists?

Quite a Juxtaposition

Even as an NIE report announces that Al Qaeda is reconstituting and trying to attack the United States, the brave soldiers in Iraq have captured the highest ranking Iraqi Al Qaeda in Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Democrats pull a sleepover in the Senate to dramatize their contention that we should simply surrender and come home.

Senator George Voinovich, one of the wobbly Republicans, said of the Democrat effort, "“You wonder if they are more interested in politics than dealing with the substance of this."

Actually, no, you don't. It's clear they have to be playing politics, because otherwise, the steep price America would pay for retreating in Iraq would mean something to these Democrats. As Jeff Jacoby notes:

If US troops leave prematurely, the Iraqi government is likely to collapse, which could trigger violence on a far deadlier scale than Iraq is experiencing now. Iran's malignant influence will intensify, and with it the likelihood of intensified Sunni-Shiite conflict, and even a nuclear arms race, across the Middle East. Anti-American terrorists and fanatics worldwide will be emboldened. Iraq would emerge, in Senator John McCain's words, "as a Wild West for terrorists, similar to Afghanistan before 9/11." Once again -- as in Vietnam, in Lebanon, in Somalia -- the United States would have proven the weaker horse, unwilling to see a fight through to the finish.


What else does one need to know?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elizabeth on Hillary

Mrs. Edwards had some not very nice things to say about Hillary Clinton, essentially insisting that her husband, John Edwards, would pursue more "women friendly" policies than the former first lady.

Set aside the fact that Mrs. Edwards' analysis seems to fall in the familiar sexist mold of assuming that all women care most about being able to abort their babies and are monolithically liberal. What's interesting is that -- had conservatives let go with some of these critical comments -- they'd have been labeled as sexist neanderthals. When a Democratic women does it, though, it's A-OK.

"Sidetracked" By Iraq?

The very real terrorist threats outlined in the new National Intelligence Estimate have elicited, once again, one of the most vapid responses imaginable on the part of Democrats.

One says that the continued existence of terrorism indicates that the US has been "sidetracked" by Iraq. Who, exactly, does he think has been attacking us in Iraq? Who has been trying to foment civil war there? Who has characterized Iraq as the central front in the war against the United States? Who will interpret a US withdrawal as an enormous military and psychological victory?

That's right, Al Qaeda. As this piece on the NIE points out:

The report makes clear that al-Qaida in Iraq, which has not yet posed a direct threat to U.S. soil, could become a problem here.

"Of note," the analysts said, "we assess that al-Qaida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland."



We all know that the Democrats are looking for any political advantage that the war in Iraq can offer, regardless of the consequences for national security. That's why they can't insist with straight faces that the US would be safer in the wake of a surrender in Iraq.

But to pretend that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the larger war against Al Qaeda is ludicrous, even for a lefty. As for the left's head-in-the-sand insistence that there were no links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, check out this and this and this.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh, and Before They Leave for Recess . . .

Politicians and the denizens of the MSM have criticized Iraqis for adjourning for a summer recess.

Fair enough. If our soldiers can fight, surely they can legislate.

But then again, what exactly have the Democrats achieved this year that entitles them to a six-week vacation? Was it really that hard to pass a minimum wage bill and initiate 300 investigations?

Censure John Murtha

As Clarice Feldman notes, he slandered our fighting men about Haditha. Maybe when the Senate Democrats are holding their little Tuesday night sleepover at the Capitol, they could find some time to apologize for their compatriot on the House side.

Playing Politics With the War

And what's even more disgusting, the Democrats aren't even ashamed to admit they're doing it.

The Moral Calculus in Iraq



Do you want to desert this woman?

Today, General Lynch, one of those helping lead the surge in Iraq, brought out one element of the Iraq debate that is too often overlooked:

[General Lynch] implied that an early withdrawal would amount to an abandonment of Iraqi civilians who he said had rallied in support of the American and Iraqi troops, and would leave the civilians exposed to renewed brutality by extremist groups. "When we go out there, the first question they ask is, 'Are you staying?'" he said. “And the second question is, ‘How can we help?’ ” He added, “What we hear is, ‘We’ve had enough of people attacking our villages, attacking our homes, and attacking our children.’ ”

Well, no kidding. And all the Democrats and defeatist Republicans who want to cut 'n run now are relegating the brave people who have fought for freedom to the tender mercies of Al Qaeda.

Those who opposed the war from the start have no particular moral obligation besides that of common humanity. But the Dems and Republicans who voted to overthrow Hussein and encourage the establishment of a free state in the heart of the Middle East must, at least, acknowledge that retreating now would be an unbelievably brutal, ugly and dishonest act.

The left has harshly criticized the first President Bush for encouraging the Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein and then pulling the plug on them, leading to a slaughter. Ironic, isn't it, that what they want to do is a thousand times worse?

American Atheism

Peter Berkowitz takes the philsophy of the "new new atheists" and puts it to shame, focusing in particular on Christopher Hitchens (Dr. Mark Roberts did the same on a special edition of "The Hugh Hewitt Show", transcript here).

On a much less lofty level, what's always confused me about atheists is their outright hostility toward religion and people of faith. At least when it comes to American atheists, no one is trying to force them to believe -- so why all the antagonism? After all, there are a lot of people who go over the top with a belief system with which I heartily disagree, but I lack the animus toward it that would prompt me to mock or belittle either the faith itself or those who cherish it. If belief in God is nothing but a delusion, why should they care about those who harbor it -- any more than they would take time out of their lives to write books claiming to disprove the myths of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster?

Ultimately, as Berkowitz points out, those who denigrate the influence of religion discount too easily the fundamental beliefs -- like the inherent equality of all mankind -- that spring from it. As Stephen Mansfield points out in USA Today, that's a truth that the Founding Fathers knew, one that we've allowed our courts to undermine and even erode.

As John Adams noted:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

What the atheists never explain is how we would arrive at common moral consensus, or even keep order without the heavy hand of an oppressive government, if our only moral signposts were what "seemed" to each of us to be right.

Who Talks More?

Deborah Tannen makes a good point that determining which sex talks more can't really be accurately discerned from the simple process of counting words. As she notes, one of the big issues is who talks when, for what purpose.

While she's right in noting that women talk to build rapport and relationships, what she never comes right out and says is the purpose of what she characterizes as men's "report talk." My impression has always been that men talk as part of "taking on" or "mastering" the world. Rather than being insulted when husbands, brothers or close male friends don't feel the need to chatter a mile a minute, I've always taken it as something of a compliment (even as it's mildly aggravating at times): The silence often means that the men in question don't feel that they need to "fight it" or make an impression -- they can relax, and fall into the default male state, which is, I believe, a state of semi-silence.

Since I'm on the loquacious side myself, my experience may not be representative. But it strikes me that men do "use" talking as a way to make their way in the world, socially or in business. And often -- in contrast to women -- a silent man is a comfortable man.

Gentlemen readers: Do you agree?

Smart Move

Rudy Giuliani has named a "five star" judiciary advisory panel -- and with members like Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada, he's in an excellent position to convince conservatives that he's serious about appointing strict constructionists to the courts. That's assuming he takes the advice they offer, of course!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A "Choice" Snapshot

This piece in the New York Times details the journey of a couple who decides to "keep it" -- that is, not to have an abortion -- despite their concerns abougt becoming parents.

What's missing is any discussion about whether killing the nascent life is wrong. We hear about whether they want the baby, what it will mean for their finances and career -- but any mention of what it might mean for the baby is conspicuously lacking.

Apparently, the mother decided she wanted to have the baby before the father did. Seems to validate the fact that abortion is actually a more important "right" for men than it is for women; men have a relatively costless chance to evade the consequences of the sex they have, while the women live with the physical and emotional fallout of an abortion, if they "choose" to have one.

A Roadmap to Victory?

Frank Luntz lays out some prerequisites for a Republican victory in 2008.

He might also have added that it would be a great help for the candidate to be able to articulate a straightforward plan for how we can get out of Iraq -- by winning, not by surrendering.

McCain's Problem

The Sunday shows focused in part on the implosion of the John McCain campaign. A lot of the analysis seemed congruent with this piece written back in January.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Laying a Lady to Rest

Former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson was remembered today. I've always had a soft spot for this particular first lady, because it seemed to me that she handled some terribly difficult situations -- from watching her husband suffering as President to aspects of her marriage to him -- with remarkable grace and stoicism.

She was obviously greatly loved by her family, and from my brief contacts with her daughter Lynda Robb and granddaughter Lucinda (who was in my college French class), it seemed clear that she had managed to transmit to her descendants the importance of dealing with others with class and kindness.

Mrs. Johnson obviously loved her country, and worked hard on its behalf.

May she rest in peace.

Encouraging News

Good news comes today from the Weekly Standard.

Matthew Continetti notes that there's a good chance that when the politicians leave Washington for August recess, Democrats will be playing defense, rather than offense when it comes to the war. Well, it's about time. Republicans have squandered a number of opportunities to point out the differences between themselves and Democrats when it comes to priorities in Iraq -- and on the war on terror, generally. Perhaps they've finally decided that, if they're interested in not losing badly next year, they'd be well-advised to explain that Democrats are interested primarily in treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue, not as a military one -- and highlighting the Dems' overall, disgraceful lack of seriousness.

Then Bill Kristol speculates that the defeatists may have finally overplayed their hands. I think he's on to something. No doubt that the country is sick of the war; no doubt they want it to be over. But where the defeatists have it wrong is in assuming that Americans, therefore, are willing to lose in Iraq. They're not.

If -- like the Democrats themselves -- all one cared about was the politics, it would be fine to let the defeatist caucus take responsibility for an American defeat. As the ramifications of their fecklessness became clear, they would be relegated to minority status for a generation.

Of course, the stakes for American national security are simply too high to let that happen. And so it's time for those who take the war and our security seriously to press whatever new openings they may have been offered as a result of Democratic overreaching.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Badly Done

Given everything else that's going on, this is a year for Republican presidential candidates to try to win the nomination by demonstrating their own excellence -- not by running down their rivals (Heaven knows we've got a lot of Democrats, as well as the MSM, to do that).

So why did Fred Thompson meet with one of the firemen who have put out a smear video -- characterized even by the New York Times as "factually incomplete" -- about Rudy Giuliani?

Imagine How They're Covering Iraq

The BBC has been launching a campaign to encourage Americans to demand it appear as one of their cable selections.

What would be the point? It seems obvious that the Beeb has some serious reliability problems.

Take this most recent exploit, where the BBC was forced to apologize to the Queen and Annie Leibowitz, for misleadingly spliced footage that made it appear that the Queen stormed out of a photo session, when in fact she did not. (Actually, I wouldn't have cared if she had; as the story was reported, it struck me as a refreshing refusal to have British royal traditions redefined by the Hollywood mores of a celebrity photographer.)

But in any case, it's creepy to wonder -- when the Beeb is indulging in this sort of behavior when it can be readily exposed for it -- how much they're playing similar tricks with agenda journalism in their coverage of Iraq and the Middle East in general.

Tell me again why Americans should be clamoring for the BBC?

The Plain Truth

Charles Krauthammer highlights the insanity of the Congress trying to pull the rug out from under the surge after the Senate voted 81-0 to send General Petraeus to do the job -- and, most significantly, when there's evidence the plan might be working.

I'd also add that it's amazing that Congressional Democrats demand from General Petraeus a standard of perfection and quick action that they could never hope to meet themselves. Look what he's done -- compared to what they've done -- in less than half the time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Valentine to Romney

The Economist and Mitt Romney, sitting in a tree . . .

Read the glowing piece for yourself, and remember that the Economist isn't generally a publication that gushes.

The Surrender Caucus, Again

Having accomplished almost nothing durings its first half year in power, the Democrat Congress called for surrender in Iraq with the surge only three weeks old.

Holding the military to standards they can't meet themsleves is nothing new for Democrats, of course. But it's always amazing to witness how readily Democrats will roll over and beg for mercy from America's enemies. If they'd direct even a quarter of the aggression and vitriol reserved for the President toward America's enemies, our progress in Iraq and in the war on terror would be much, much greater.

Update from the Lunatic Fringe

Barbara Boxer wants to keep impeachment on the table -- as a "bargaining chip," no less.

Senator Boxer is a wonderful example of the lunatic left run amok. Her entire career has been little more than a textbook illustration of the Peter Principle in its purest form.

O'Connor's "Power Loss"

This piece by Slate's Dahlia Lithwick points out the extent to which Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's judicial "legacy" has been significantly dismantled in just two years' time.

It's hard to see this as much of a surprise. O'Connor's power derived not from the intellectual or theoretical force of her opinions, but rather from her centrist position on the Court. Her ideas found their way into the law not so much because the other justices (left or right) either applauded or agreed with them, but because that was the price of luring her to one's side. If a centrist has a strong judicial philosophy, even such compromise jurisprudence can remain the law for years and years -- but perhaps that's Justice O'Connor's problem: The absence of a strong theoretical judicial philosophy.

As Lithwick points out, some of Justice O'Connor's "greatest hits" included "her 'undue burden' test for abortion restrictions; her 'reasonable observer' test for whether the government has 'endorsed' religion; or her 'someday my prince will come' test for when affirmative action programs might become unnecessary in the future."

What characterizes lots of her work is an unwillingness to lay down a jurisprudential "hard and fast" rule for analyzing cases. Instead, there were multifactor balancing tests and other such frippery. What that means is that, ultimately, the application of a particular decision to other cases will depend on the whims of the district or appellate judges interpreting the relevant Supreme Court opinion. And that's unfortunate, of course, because it undermines the predictability and stability that is supposed to undergird the rule of law.

By all accounts Justice O'Connor is a very gracious, lovely woman. But the kind of jurisprudence she too often practiced -- heavy on "factors," light on easily applicable principles -- seems almost foreordained to be ignored once her vote no longer needs to be solicited.

"Fraying" Republicans?

This report discusses the intra-party controversy over Iraq among Republicans.

Surely Majority Leader Boehner's characterization of the waverers as "wimps" is accurate, but not terribly helpful. It strikes me the debate should center, not on the character (or lack thereof) of those whose knees are going weak, but rather on the character of our enemies and, above all, the national security of the United States.

I will never agree with the Republican senators like Pete Domenici, who wants to abort the surge just as it's really getting underway. I could, however, respect his point of view if he's willing to answer a couple of questions:

(1) Does withdrawing from Iraq enhance America's national security? If so, how?

(2) Is Iraq the central front in the global war on terror? If not, what accounts for Ayman Al Zawahiri's characterization of it as such?

(3) If we withdraw from Iraq, what contingency plans are/should be made to deal with the fallout: The slaughter of those who supported a democracy; intervention on behalf of the Sunnis by Saudi Arabia, from Turkey in the North, and by Iran on behalf of the Shiites; the enhanced likelihood of a nuclear Middle East?

Members of the surrender caucus who are willing to engage these questions deserve at least some grudging respect. The problem is that none of the defeatists seem willing to discuss the larger implications of their frenzied desire to cut 'n run, whatever the cost. And until they can offer credible answers to the questions above, they don't deserve to be taken seriously.

Al Qaeda's Renewed Strength

The left tried to seize on a report that Al Qaeda has reached its pre-9/11 strength levels as evidence that the war on terror is failing. In fact, the explanation is much simpler:

The threat assessment says that Al Qaeda stepped up efforts to "improve its core operational capability" in late 2004 but did not succeed until December of 2006 after the Pakistani government signed a peace agreement with tribal leaders that effectively removed government military presence from the northwest frontier with Afghanistan.

The agreement allows Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives to move across the border with impunity and establish and run training centers, the report says, according to the official.


From these facts, it's not entirely clear to me how Barack Obama has come to conclude that "This war has only fueled the terrorist threat whose strength is now at pre-9/11 levels.”

Those who care to look at the facts will understand what the problem is. The question is what we're going to do about it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Behind the Carmona Controversy

Pieces like this are reporting former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's dissatisfaction with what he described as "muzzling" from The White House.

From what I have learned, this reporting is somewhat misleading insofar as it treats this phenomenon, first, as emanating from The White House itself, and, second, as an indictment of the Bush Administration in particular.

A very good friend and former colleague worked closely with Dr. Carmona during the time in question. The source of Carmona's frustration was not, in fact, The White House as much as it was Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. The Thompson people at HHS viewed Carmona (generally perceived within the Department as attractive and charismatic) as a threat. Accordingly, they did everything they could -- in remarkably petty ways -- to make his life difficult, including stepping on his press coverage and preventing him from participating in events that they feared would result in too much visibility or positive publicity.

Not surprisingly, Carmona -- who had no previous political experience -- was angered and frustrated by the Thompson machinations, and was less than adept in fighting back. But my source also noted that the petty infighting wasn't even restricted to the political appointees at the Department; there was a lot of the same kind of behavior emanating even from the career staff at HHS.

Carmona was presumably warned that if he got into bed with House Democrats in airing his complaints about the Administration, it would be used as a political football rather than provoking the reforms of the Surgeon General's position that Carmona seriously believes are needed. That may be why Carmona probably insisted on bringing with him C.Everett Koop and David Satcher -- as a way to make the point that the lack of independence to which he's objecting, and the pernicious effects flowing therefrom, aren't associated exclusively with the Bush Administration.

That's obviously not the message that's getting out; perhaps it's just one more example of Dr. Carmona's lack of experience in the political arena.

Ready for Some Cuban Healthcare?

Useful idiots like Michael Moore look at the Cuban facilities made available for non-Cubans only and think that's the health care system the rest of the country enjoys.

Here are pictures of the filthy, subhuman conditions that the Cuban people must endure. Let's let Michael Moore get treated at one of these facilities and then hear what he has to say. (HT: Betsy's Page).

The Problem With Standards

This piece in The Politico savors the Republican embarassment in the wake of the revelation that Senator David Vitter was a customer of the DC Madam's escort service.

Supposedly, the Democratic chortling about Republican sexual lapses is based on the hypocrisy factor -- the fact that, because Republicans tend to be more traditionalist than Democrats in their assessment of what sexual mores should be, their lapses are particularly ironic. The advantage for Democrats in this formulation, of course, is that when one adheres to no particular standards for sexual behavior, it's impossible to be labeled a hypocrite. The downside, obviously, is that then one has no behavioral standards, either for oneself or for others.

Just as punning has been labeled the lowest form of humor, the whole concept of hypocrisy is the lowest form of the "gotcha" game. It allows adversaries to attack someone for his behavior without having to take a moral position on the matter of the behavior itself (in other words, one doesn't have to say that patronizing a prostitute was wrong -- only that the person who did it is a hypocrite).

Finally, if hypocrisy is the worst sin there is (as many on the left apparently seem to believe), then in a real sense, anyone who has acted in contradiction to his/her own moral principles is no better than David Vitter. Christians who have indulged in un-Christlike behavior (unlike the Savior they profess to worship), Jews who have broken any of the Ten Commandments in which they profess belief, etc., etc., -- all are "hypocrites." All have acted against what they assert are their most cherished beliefs.

I'm not troubled by David Vitter doing one thing and saying another -- after all, as La Rochefoucauld noted, "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue." If I've got a problem, it's the underlying behavior -- not the fact that the behavior is inconsistent with Vitter's stated values.

Chamber of Shame, Indeed

Tony Blankley has a must-read about the timid souls in the US Senate who have decided -- now that the surge has just become fully operational in Iraq -- that it's time to cut 'n run. It's a must read. A key section:

None of these senators has even addressed the question of whether the U.S. is safer if we leave Iraq than if we stay. Isn't that the key question? The question is not whether the Iraqi government deserves American sacrifice on their behalf. Our sons and daughters are not fighting, being grievously wounded and dying for Iraq — but for American vital interests. If this were just about Iraqi democracy, I might join the screaming for a quick exit.

But if al Qaeda can plausibly claim they drove America out of Iraq (just as they drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan) they will gain literally millions of new adherents in their struggle to destroy America and the West. We will then pay in blood, treasure and future wars vastly more than we are paying today to manage and eventually win our struggle in Iraq.


That's what I was trying to communicate in my Townhall column when I wrote:

In fact, in a real sense, the progress (or lack thereof) of the Iraqi government must be a secondary factor in America’s decision whether to continue fighting in Iraq. That’s because our paramount concern is less the details of Iraq’s governance than it is the national security of the United States. The former is relevant only insofar as it impacts the latter. And so long as a withdrawal from Iraq will be construed by our enemies as an emboldening victory for them and a humiliating surrender for us, it’s an option that must remain off the table.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Terrorist Attack This Summer?

This report doesn't sound encouraging.

Of course, if we defer to the surrender caucus' wishes and retreat in Iraq, this will simply be the shape of things to come, as newly emboldened terrorists -- whose schedules have been freed up through the US withdrawal -- begin to turn their sights even more to the US.

Wheels Off the Straight Talk Express

Both Terry Nelson and John Weaver have parted ways with the McCain campaign.

Details aren't clear on whether they left or were fired, but when a campaign has been bleeding cash and support as McCain's has, it really doesn't matter (except to the individuals involved, of course).

The fact is that the McCain campaign was doomed to failure from the very beginning. It's simply impossible to stick a thumb in the eye of one's party on issues ranging from taxes, to illegal immigration, to the treatment of terrorist detainees, to the Gang of 14, to campaign finance reform -- and to insinuate that those who disagreed with him were not just wrong, but evil -- and then expect to garner the kind of support that would provide the nomination.

Unlike their experience with Bob Dole in 1996, Republicans have decided that it's simply not good enough to nominate the "next guy in line" to be President. With the internet and the rise of talk radio, there's also a community where dissatisfaction with a candidate like McCain can be widely aired.

That's important, because before, it was too easy for the dominant narrative among the elites -- in this case, that McCain would have to be the inevitable nominee because he was supposedly the only candidate who could defeat Hillary Clinton -- to go unchallenged. Those days, obviously, are over.

The San Diego Madrassa

As this IBD editorial points out, how eminently predictable it is that the ACLU would decline to sue a school that has chosen to accommodate its Muslim students to an unprecedented degree.

It seems that the ACLU is hostile only to the traditional faiths of this country.

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

As noted in this New York Times piece, :

[T]he United States ambassador and the Iraqi foreign minister are warning that the departure of American troops could lead to sharply increased violence, the deaths of thousands and a regional conflict that could draw in Iraq’s neighbors.

Likewise, "General Petraeus, too, has warned in recent months that while there is a high price for staying in Iraq, including mounting American casualties, the price for leaving could be higher than many war critics have acknowledged."

All those who are stampeding for the exits will bear the blame for these outcomes, if they occur. They are agitating for the United States to act like some penny ante power that makes sweeping commitments throughout the world and then simply declines to live up to them.

The problem isn't that the Iraq government is taking for granted the presence of U.S. troops. The problem is that global jihadists and a few Saddam Hussein leftovers are trying to destabilize the country.

How disgraceful that the Democrats -- and now, a handful of Republicans -- would be advocating policies that would help them succeed.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Say It Isn't So

Bill Kristol is reporting that the White House is actually negotiating with the Republican surrender caucus about some way to retreat in Iraq.

Say it isn't so. Not only would such a maneuver be dishonorable and wrong, not only would it guarantee that we hand Al Qaeda an enormous victory -- it also will only make Republicans' political problems worse. It's an implicit admission that the war was wrong, that the sacrifices that have been asked of our troops and their families were meaningless, and that the United States runs when the going gets tough.

It's a joke to think that Al Qaeda could actually defeat the United States in Iraq unless we give up. Politically, giving up will only make the President's and Republican problems worse. There is really no debate that the aftermath of a US withdrawal would be chaotic and catastrophic. If the Democrats insist on surrendering, that's their fault. But if the Republicans go along with them, it's ours, too.

So long as there are signs of progress from the surge, victory is possible. But it will become impossible if -- for no reason on the ground -- the President decides to try to "compromise" with people whose only interests have nothing to d with national security, and everything to do with destroying him.

What's Really Going On

This story from the AP (via Politico) details the various issues on which the White House is claiming executive privilege.

Let's understand what's going on here. Some of the demands being made by the Democratic Congress are well in excess of anything they're entitled to under separation of powers doctrine.

But like the supposed US attorneys "scandal" (where there still is not a scintilla of evidence that any US attorney was removed for improper reasons), the facts aren't really mattering to the Democrats. The real goal is to try to create the perception that the Bush Administration thinks it is "above the law" (with "the law" presumably defined by the Congress).

After all, they figure, if there's enough smoke, there needn't actually be any fire -- and if there's enough drama and finger-pointing, there needn't be any facts.

No Time to Go Wobbly

This piece in the Wall Street Journal details the many ways in which it is a foolish fallacy for Republican senators to think they can save their political hides by effectively advocating that we abandon Iraq.

Most obviously, Republicans need to understand there is no out but through. If the entire country devolves into chaos and becomes a breeding ground for Al Qaeda, do the Republicans think they will be able to evade political responsibility for that outcome?

And let's just throw in a factor that's too often underdiscussed: Withdrawing now would be deeply dishonorable. America went to Iraq and urged its people to defy the terrorists in order to build a democracy. Withdrawing means that many of the brave people who took us at our word will be hunted down and slaughtered. What kind of politician can live with that -- especially given that there are real signs of progress?

Taking Our Enemies At Their Word

That's the title of my column over at Townhall.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Totally Tacky

It's long been clear that Colin Powell puts trying to maintain his own reputation above all else -- loyalty included.

The newest evidence is his eagerness to try to convince everyone that he tried to talk President Bush out of invading Iraq. Never mind that, had the WMD been found or the war otherwise declared a success, we wouldn't be hearing about any of this. The fact is that the war is unpopular, and so Powell wants to make sure the world knows that he's not to blame.

This kind of behavior is craven and unworthy of an otherwise great American. It strikes me that many people on a President's team offer advice and counsel; sometimes it's taken and sometimes it's ignored. But part of being on the team means that one signs on to the policy that's ultimately decided upon, and if one can' do that in good conscience, one resigns.

No need to remind everyone that Colin Powell resigned, and then hinted that he might be willing to stay on as Secretary of State. Hardly the kind of resignation on principle that one might expect had the war really been launched against his passionate and sincere convictions.

Run, Cindy, Run

If Nancy Pelosi doesn't bring articles of impeachment against President Bush, Cindy Sheehan is threatening to run against her.

Pull up a chair and pop up the corn. This would be fun.

Dead Earth

It looks like Al Gore's earth concert wasn't quite as influential as he must have hoped it would be.

In fact, three quarters of Americans paid no attention to it, and only 22% said they had followed coverage of it "somewhat" or "very" closely.

In a sense, the entire affair has been emblematic of Al Gore's career in public service -- a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, and largely ignored by normal people. Gore can swipe at global warming skeptics all he wants, but until he decides to put on his big boy pants and actually debate the issue with someone of respectable scientific expertise, all the bullying in the world isn't going to convince skeptics (of whom there are many, even in the UK, where all this is more generally accepted than here in the US).

Finally, it's hard to take a concert for the environment (or those promoting it) seriously when the effort to put it on casts a monstrous global footprint and relies on private-jet-setting stars -- but has no concrete mission or goal.

Of course, one might not expect Al Gore to get it. After all, he himself has hardly set the example when it comes to living in a modest, "sustainable" and "earth-friendly" way.

Hillary's Authenticity Problem

Melinda Henneberger spoke with lots of women who should be Hillary Clinton's natural constituency. She found that Hillary's not as popular as she "should" be because of a perceived lack of authenticity.

Indeed. That's the very problem I pointed to three months ago when I posted the following: "It's the Authenticity, Stupid."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A NARAL Lobbyist?

NARAL claims that Fred Thompson Fred Thompson lobbied for the group against the then-controversial "abortion gag rule."

The Thompson campaign has denied the allegations.

It will be interesting to see how the claim is reported, not only by the MSM, but also whether it has impact among conservatives.

The Evidence Mounts

Evidence mounts -- as if there weren't already enough -- that Iran is assisting Al Qaeda in its attacks on American soldiers in Iraq.

Of course, thanks to the efforts of the Iraq Surrender Caucus, there is little that the Bush Administration is able to do to counter these attacks, or even, apparently, recognize them officially. There is a price that's paid for all the irresolution and dovish talk that the Democrats and the netroots have brought center stage.

Defeat can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What Is It About Mitt Romney?

That seems to attract such ridiculous -- and unfair -- press coverage?

First, there's this story: "Romney Criticized for Hotel Pornography." Sounds like the governor was indulging in a little extracurricular fun in a hotel room, doesn't it? So much for the misleading headline -- the story's about how Romney couldn't persuade Marriott hotels to stop offering in-room pornographic movies when he served on the company's board. So why the headline?

Then there's this piece by NRO's Jim Geraghty -- whose work I generally admire and enjoy so much. It argues that it would be easy for political opponents and the MSM to portray Romney as "strange" or "creepy" -- whether it's because he strapped his dog to the roof of the car or because he's a Mormon (Geraghty does note, as I did here in March 2006 about the MSM's new-found fascination with Mormonism).

It's legitimate to look at whether a candidate is himself polarizing or whether he, by his past behavior, has rendered himself unpalatable to a vast swathe of the electorate. But the issues Geraghty surrounding Romney fall into neither of these categories. They are, as Geraghty himself concedes, petty and idiosyncratic.

It strikes me that it's a mistake to try to preemptively disqualify candidates by second-guessing how the other side might slime them. After all, look at Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- no wonder Carter wanted to run against him: An old guy, former actor, co-star with a chimp, reputation as a Goldwaterite war-monger. What's not to love, from the Democratic perspective? Surely Howard Baker or John Anderson would have seemed to pose a much more formidable threat.

But Republicans refused to play the game of preemptively benching their own players simply because of what we feared the other side might try to say about them. We picked our strongest candidate . . . and look what happened.

Whether, this year, that candidate is Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani remains to be seen. And with the help of an all-too-complicit MSM, the Clinton camp will be able to make Rudy Giuliani sound just as "weird" as Geraghty finds Mitt Romney.

If Republicans are going to start discarding our own candidates, let's find more substantive reasons for doing it than fears of scurrilous attacks from the Clinton camp -- those are coming no matter who the nominee is. Our energies are best devoted to repelling such attacks and pointing out the desperation and the ugly mentality that underlies them -- not engaging in a futile attempt to evade them.

Trouble for Al Qaeda?

This piece notes that the message disseminated by Ayman al Zawahiri yesterday may reflect the trouble Al Qaeda is having in Iraq.

Don't expect this angle to receive wide MSM play. It's so much more exciting to talk about Pete Domenici's defection, after all. Even so, there are signs that the surge might be working, and that -- contrary to the feckless "chicken little" behavior of some of our elected leaders -- all is not lost.

The Congress' "Achievements"

So the Democratic Congress has launched over 300 investigations, had over 350 requests for documents and interviews and they have had over 600 oversight hearings in just about 100 days.

According to Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal, that works out to 1 hearing for every hour-and-a-half that the Democratic Congress has been in session.

In the meantime, the Democrats' legislative accomplishments have been . . . minimal. Their signature issue has been how to force a surrender in the war on terror.

Impressive.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

So Which Is It?

Disappointingly, Republican Senator Pete Domenici has joined the surrender caucus by demanding a withdrawal of almost all US troops from Iraq by March of 2008.

Here's the question: When did Senator Domenici decide that the war he supported -- with interests large enough to justify sending young soldiers to their deaths -- just wasn't worth the effort any more?

Predictably, he cites dissatisfaction with the Iraqi government as the reason for his about-face. The problem, however, is that the progress of that government -- or lack thereof -- really isn't the primary issue at stake in this debate.

The real issue is whether abandoning Iraq is in the US's security interests. And it's hard to see how handing Iraq over to become a terrorist launching pad -- or a hot spot, with Saudi Arabia looking to protect the Sunnis, Iran looking to protect the Shias, and Turkey looking on from the north -- does anything to make the United States, or the world for that matter, more secure. All it does is hand Al Qaeda an enormous and morale-boosting victory, emboldening them in their efforts to attack the west; that's because our withdrawal will, in the terrorists' minds, only vindicate their view of western culture as decadent, cowardly and weak.

What we are seeing is an unprincipled act of political cowardice. It's natural for Senator Domenici to feel nervous about his upcoming election. The problem is that his stand is really guaranteed to please no one. Loyal Republicans will question his judgment and his political courage, and may well decide not to support him. Rabid anti-war types won't be pacified by his 11th hour conversion.

But most sadly of all, his decision will only undermine the morale of our troops and give a much-needed lift to the terrorists, who really can't win unless US senators like Domenici are willing to lose.

An Exercise in Futility

Wonder why Congress' approval ratings are so very low?

Well, take a look at this. Democratic Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, intends to investigate the presidential pardon power -- not just as exercised by President Bush, but also by Presidents Clinton, Bush I and, as he charmingly puts it, "as far as they want."

Note that the presidential pardon power is constitutionally guaranteed, and there's little that Congress could do about it (even through formal legislation), whether the pardoner is President GW Bush and the pardonee is Scooter Libby, or the pardoner is Bill Clinton and the pardonee is Marc Rich.

So what we're talking about with the Conyers investigations is nothing but a humongous waste of time.

Perhaps Conyers is trying to drive that 19% congressional approval rate down to 10%.

Just Another Interest Group?

A member of the mainstream media tells Instapundit why Al Qaeda atrocities don't get more widespread coverage.

When Wiretapping is OK

I guess that, as far as Hillary Clinton is concerned, illegal wiretapping is OK -- the only problem is when the monitoring is done in the interests of protecting US national security.

The "Breck Girl," Indeed

This account reveals that John Edwards has paid as much as $1250 (that's right, over one thousand dollars) for a haircut.

The story jibes with what I'd been told by someone with personal knowledge of the matter . . . Edwards' stylist has had to close up his shop to fly to the presidential candidate on the trail -- hence the hefty numbers.

Now, the best defense the Edwards campaign can muster is that the candidate didn't pay attention to the bills. That's a great one. So what else is he not paying attention to?

There are two Americas, indeed. And John Edwards obviously belongs -- not only to the one that can afford thousand-dollar haircuts -- but to the one that hires aides who think that such spending is A-OK.

Stop Blaming Mr. Rogers

This piece -- from the Wall Street Journal -- is ridiculous. It blames Mr. Rogers -- he of the tennis shoes and red sweater -- for the obnoxious entitlement mentality manifested by many of today's young people.

Let's put it this way: If one half-hour program can have that kind of an impact, it's time to turn off the televisions across this nation and throw them away forever. Telling children they are special, as Mr. Rogers did, is a good thing. But it's up to parents to make sure they know that, although they are special and God loves them, there are still certain standards they are supposed to meet.

The kind of grade-grubbing referenced in the linked piece doesn't result from watching Mr. Rogers. It results from a lifetime of a specific kind of parenting, coupled with an educational establishment that emphasizes "self-esteem" over achievement -- apparently ignorant of the simple truth that self-esteem results from achievement . . . it doesn't lead to it.

The "Hypocritic" Oath

Although it focuses on three cyber terrorists, this story's headline notes that no fewer than 45 Muslim doctors were planning terror raids in the United States. So much for the Hippocratic Oath -- "First, do no harm."

This story presents an interesting juxtaposition to this piece -- which wonders if Mayor Giuliani will "overplay the 9/11 card." The headline alone does a remarkable job of conveying the lack of seriousness with which so much of the left regards 9/11 . . . for them, it's a political prop rather than a serious and ongoing threat.
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