Saturday, June 18, 2005

Amnesty Tries To Recruit Real Gulag Victim, Fails

A devestating portrait of an Amnesty International gone wild with partisanship is painted in today's Washington Post by Pavel Litvinov, who was exiled to Siberia under the Soviet regime. Amnesty attempted to recruit his endorsement of 'Cuba=Gitmo', but Litvinov, no Bush administration apologist, was having none of it.

Earlier today, I took Howard Zinn to task for his ludicrously strained attempt at defining American exceptionalism, and attempted to put forth a more reasonable statement. Litvinov says it better than I:
The most effective way to criticize U.S. behavior is to frankly acknowledge that this country should be held to a higher standard based on its own Constitution, laws and traditions. We cannot fulfill our responsibilities as the world's only superpower without being perceived as a moral authority.
Notice how this former prisoner of conscience rejects the Zinn argument that America has no special claim to morality, and indeed, asserts the contrary quite plainly. The heart of Litvinov's argument is here:
There is ample reason for Amnesty to be critical of certain U.S. actions. But by using hyperbole and muddling the difference between repressive regimes and the imperfections of democracy, Amnesty's spokesmen put its authority at risk. U.S. human rights violations seem almost trifling in comparison with those committed by Cuba, South Korea, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Quick Shots: Debunking Bowers

I posted previously on the Chris Bowers hypothesis regarding liberal blogs, and their seeming higher reader/viewership. Now Betsy Newmark and Patrick Ruffini weigh in with their own excellent contributions...I agree with both; the liberals may have the biggest traffic sites, but we've got a more vibrant community, and a more influential one, to boot...

AJ Strata has been on a roll today. He highlights some tough talk from Bush that is music to my ears, and puts the call out for a second Chillin' Carnival...

Captain Ed has more on the Durbin 'sorry you're so stupid' apology, and his statement that he has 'no regrets' over his remarks...

In a post that has much relevance to my recent musings on Iraq, the Minuteman points to evidence that things are not so bad as they appear...

Iraq: A Status Report as I See It

As Eleanor Clift of Newsweek sounds the alarm bells in her best Walter Cronkite fashion, we come to a critical point in time in the Iraq War, and the larger War on Terror. A tipping point can be reached from which there can be no turning back, and we are flirting with it in Iraq. This point has little to do with military conditions on the ground, and everything to do with public opinion.

For once, comparisons with Vietnam are apt, for as surely as a day came when public opinion forced Nixon's hand, the Bush Administration will find itself in a similar quandary if they don't get on top of the public relations game. With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that we should not have disbanded the Iraqi army, but instead offered incentives to bring it under control. We should have imposed martial law, and not lifted it until it was prudent to do so. By not doing so, we have created a situation where we are bleeding troops and money.

What's to be done? Have we, then, lost? The answers are plenty, and of course not. If we left today, just packed it up and moved out completely, we have still accomplished the majority of our mission in Iraq. We have deposed the Butcher of Baghdad, ended his payments to Palestinian suicide bombers, paved the way for Iraqi democracy, and seen a brief flowering of further democratic hopes in places like Lebanon, so long under the boot of Syria, and Egypt. These are not small things, and indeed, arguably constitute victory.

Still, there is a growing unease with what seems to be a lack of progress. By some measures, the reality matches the appearance. Far too many Americans, and Iraqis, are dying violent deaths at the hands of terrorists. The costs of the continued operations are astronomical, and basic security is not being provided consistently. In other ways, though, we suffer from both the lack of will and the lack of opportunity to provide good news as a counterpoint.

Efforts like Arthur Chrenkoff's Good News From Iraq series should be undertaken by the administration. Regular briefings by top administration officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, and all other branches should be provided to spotlight the progress being made. President Bush himself should take a public tour, much like he does for issues such as Social Security, and hit the road in support of the initiative. I'm not talking about lying, or misleading; questions will arise from both friend and foe about the continued high casualties and large numbers of insurgents, and those questions should be answered as forthrightly as possible; at least the other view will get a hearing, though.

Why go to the trouble? It's no coincidence that the polls have headed downward since the Iraqi elections, because there has not been a 'TV-friendly' opportunity to spotlight the positive since that occasion, and as a result, the images we see are of mayhem and frightened civilians. We have to make our own opportunities with a savvy media strategy similar to the one that we mount for presidential campaigns, for the stakes are as high as they can be.

For similar reasons, the trial of Saddam must be undertaken with increased swiftness, and it must, of course, be televised worldwide. One way to put tempests in a teapot like Gitmo behind us is to throw as wide a spotlight as possible on the atrocities committed by the despotic deposed regime.

Of course, this will all be for naught if the situation on the ground doesn't improve drastically. We must spare no effort or expense in patrolling borders, examining tactics, providing financial incentives for new recruits, and pressuring Syria to do its part to stop the flow of terrorists across the border. We must also make every effort to let our troops know they have our eternal gratitude, and we have to increase our efforts at building bridges with communities in Iraq.

There are those who say that by invading Iraq, we have lost the wider battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab world. I don't see how that follows; the Islamic fanatics would have hated America no less if we had never invaded, and the secular and more moderate religious Arabs know that the enemy is not America, but the terrorists.

There is very little people like you and I can do about the military operations in Iraq; our military is led by fine men and women, and we can be assured they are doing their utmost to deliver a secure environment. We can make all the difference, though, in the area of public opinion. Here are the websites for the U. S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House. It's easier than ever to contact your elected officials with web forms and e-mail. Please, I urge you, take the time to contact them and let them know you're behind our efforts in Iraq 100%. And while you're at it, check out America Supports You, an effort by the Defense Department to provide support in numerous ways to our men and women in harm's way. Just imagine how good it would make you feel, if you were stationed in Iraq, to hear from good Americans how important the job you're doing is. Let's not lose through public opinion what we've shed so much blood and treasure to win on the ground.

RINOs Have a Giving Nature

In addition to the honor so recently bestowed on one Howard Zinn, I direct your attention to the First RINO Kool-Aid Award, given to Rep. John Conyers in recognition of his portrayal of a real congressman. Congrats again!...

Weekly Jackass Number Twenty-Seven: Howard Zinn

This week, Senator Dick was such - ahem, excuse me - Senator Dick Durbin was such an obvious choice that I really had to pass him by; what could I say that hasn't already been said, and said well, about this cretinous excuse of a public servant? Besides, he is already the Judge Elihu Smails Buffoon of the Week, and has issued a classic Leftist non-apology claiming his intentions were misunderstood by the uneducated idiots like ourselves who just can't understand historical analogies.

Historical analogies remain the topic de jour, though, as we instead honor a perennial also-ran, always a bridesmaid, never a bride - until today - Howard Zinn. Zinn is made from the same mold as former Jackass Noam Chomsky, a type we have come to know all too well - the 'I really love America, much more than you, so much more that in fact I will spend the rest of my life opposing its policies and slandering its memory, that's how much I love it' progressive.

Zinn is best known for his People's History of the United States, a 'revisionist' history of America that focuses, naturally, on all our numerous crimes against humanity. Indeed, 'revisionism' is no more than a code word for propaganda; when one hears a work described in such a way, you can be sure that it was written not as a history, but as a polemic. The authors of the majestic Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened, And Why Do They Say It?, Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman, point out that all historians are revisionists, and see no need to call themselves such; it is the nature of scholarly work to expand upon, and sometimes contradict, those who preceded you.

No, the revisionist is not interested in history, but in winning converts, and Zinn is no exception. His most recent written atrocity thrust upon an unsuspecting world is a case in point. The Power and the Glory: The Myths of American Exceptionalism, from the Boston Review, should be required reading for all who are interested in how much the academic Left continues to be dominated by the Marxist worldview.

Indeed, in his very first sentence, Zinn provides a case study in the tactics of the propagandist:
The notion of American exceptionalism - that the United States alone has the right, whether by divine sanction or moral obligation, to bring civilization, or democracy, or liberty to the rest of the world, by violence if necessary - is not new.
Notice that Zinn has provided a definition of American exceptionalism that makes failure to disprove it impossible. That's not the definition of American exceptionalism, though, and of course Zinn knows it. A more proper definition that conforms to what is usually meant would be: the notion that America, uniquely among the major nations of the world, was founded upon principles of freedom and equality as enshrined forever in the majestic phrasing of Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident:..." As such, America as a political entity carries the burden of judging its actions by a strict moral standard, and sometimes fails to meet the exacting standard (as the current brouhaha over treatment of prisoners in the War on Terror would indicate). Far more often, though, America serves as a beacon to the poor, disenfranchised, and dispossessed of the world.

You won't hear about that America from Zinn, however; let's continue:

The idea of [America as] a city on a hill is heartwarming. It suggests what George Bush has spoken of: that the United States is a beacon of liberty and democracy. People can look to us and learn from and emulate us.

In reality, we have never been just a city on a hill.
Note that Zinn has now totally denied that the conventional view of America even exists; strange how all these immigrants ended up here, then, no?

Zinn then presents a picture of America as a horde of rampaging Huns, before moving on to the next strawman: the religious zealot.
Divine ordination is a very dangerous idea, especially when combined with military power (the United States has 10,000 nuclear weapons, with military bases in a hundred different countries and warships on every sea). With God's approval, you need no human standard of morality. Anyone today who claims the support of God might be embarrassed to recall that the Nazi storm troopers had inscribed on their belts, "Gott mit uns" ("God with us").
Beatifully done: a totally irrelevant reference to our nuclear stockpile and a Nazi comparison in the same paragraph! Chomsky must be consumed with jealousy.
The existence of the Soviet Union, even with its acquisition of nuclear weapons, did not block this expansion [i.e., the alleged imperialism of the U.S.]. In fact, the exaggerated threat of "world communism" gave the United States a powerful justification for expanding all over the globe, and soon it had military bases in a hundred countries.
Again, a 10.0 for sheer chutzpah; you would think from Zinn's description that it was the U.S., not the Soviets, bent on global domination, and that we were responsible for the Iron Curtain that oppressed millions.
After the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, terrorism replaced communism as the justification for expansion. Terrorism was real, but its threat was magnified to the point of hysteria, permitting excessive military action abroad and the curtailment of civil liberties at home.
Yes, it's all about imperialism, never mind that pesky 9/11 that Zinn doesn't even deign to mention. Wait, I spoke too soon; here's Zinn on 9/11:
The terrible attacks of September 11 gave a new impetus to the idea that the United States was uniquely responsible for the security of the world, defending us all against terrorism as it once did against communism. President George W. Bush carried the idea of American exceptionalism to its limits by putting forth in his national-security strategy the principles of unilateral war.
Unilateral war? What were the 9/11 attacks? A peace gesture? No, Howard, this is sophistry of the worst sort; war was brought to us, we didn't impose it on others.
We might note that the Bush doctrine also violates the principles laid out at Nuremberg, when Nazi leaders were convicted and hanged for aggressive war, preventive war, far from self-defense.
There it is, stark and bold: the clearest parallel between Bush and Hitler I have ever seen, and drawn in such a way that it cannot be mistaken. The undeniable assertion is that Bush should be hanged as a war criminal.

Zinn goes even further, though, and clearly implies that the same fate should await every American president:

Bush's national-security strategy and its bold statement that the United States is uniquely responsible for peace and democracy in the world has been shocking to many Americans.

But it is not really a dramatic departure from the historical practice of the United States...
Now, there are those who say words do not matter; I am not one of them. They matter more than almost anything; and Zinn has clearly slandered the memory of every American who has ever fought for his or her nation; to deny it is to assert that Zinn is merely clattering away at the keyboard, oblivious to the larger message he is conveying.

There is no need to continue, it cannot be more plain; I challenge any sober thinker to present an interpretation of Zinn's statement that differs from the one I have offered here. Howard Zinn is clearly in a class far beyond that of Dick Durbin; only the Great Noam could be this contemptous of his own nation. A Jackass, not just for this week, but for all seasons: that's Howard Zinn.

UPDATE 12:42 p.m. central: After posting this, I noticed, via a link from the great Tim Blair, that Zinn's latest has been noticed elsewhere...and thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Blair for the link, as well as the generous Betsy Newmark...

UPDATE 2 06/19/05 10:07 a.m. central: A great big thank you to Arthur Chrenkoff for the link, also...

UPDATE 3 06/19/05 11:07 p.m. central: Many thanks to Jon Henke for the link, as well...

Buckley Sounds the Alarm On Iraq

Two posts have been swimming around my head for a while, and I hope to get to both of them sooner rather than later: one is a longish post on Iraq, a 'where we stand' type analysis, and the other is a post on the remarkable continued relevance of William F. Buckley's God and Man at Yale. As a forerunner, I present to you this op-ed by Buckley that, as usual, is sound of reasoning, and very cognizant of the big picture (by the way, many of my post ideas come from links posted at the very excellent RealClearPolitics, and I often take it for granted, so kudos again for such a wonderful collection of conversation starters day in and day out).

Buckley identifies a two-phase Iraq campaign, the military enterprise (a complete and total success), then a two-part occupation phase, one focusing on allowing Iraqis to begin the process of speaking for themselves through elections and sovereign governing bodies. This part, if not as complete a success as the military phase, was (is) a success nonetheless.

The second part, obviously, is providing an environment of security and civil order, and this has been, undoubtedly, a failure to date. I recommend the whole piece to you, and leave you with a taste:
A respect for the power of the United States is engendered by our success in engagements in which we take part. A point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride. It can't reasonably be disputed that if in the year ahead the situation in Iraq continues about as it has done in the past year, we will have suffered more than another 500 soldiers killed. Where there had been skepticism about our venture, there will then be contempt.

Today's Must-Read: John Kass Puts Gitmo in Perspective

Answering his critics who were upset that he made fun of Time's Gitmo horror tales cover story, with its revelations that Christina Aguilera is used as a 'torture' tool, John Kass joins the growing number of people who are coming forward to counter the media's torture narrative in the best possible way, by turning the Left's tactic of equating Gitmo with Gulag into a side by side comparison that reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of such a concept. Kass has more right to make this comparison than most of us; his own father was tortured as a POW in World War II, enduring daily beatings and being forced to dig his own grave. He survived, thankfully.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hillary Wins First Straw Poll of the Season

Reader G. K. sends along this article on a straw poll conducted in Richland County, South Carolina, described as 'sparsely attended'. Ryan James was on the story earlier today. The winner was a surprise (?), with Hillary leading South Carolina native son John Edwards 44-34, thus shrugging off the latest attempt by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to derail Senator Clinton's nascent campaign.

I'm gonna share a personal memory with you after this quote:
[Bob Kunst, of] came here [Columbia, S.C.] from the Bonneroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., attended by some 90,000 people. There, he promoted Clinton with flyers, buttons and bumper stickers.
Alright, here's the story: Last July, I attended the first day of the semi-regular Willie Nelson's Picnic at Two River Canyon Ampitheater just outside of Austin, largely drawn by a rare Austin appearance by the now Jerry Garcia-less Grateful Dead, or as they're known now, just the Dead (yes, there are conservative Deadheads - I'm living proof!).

Well, it was great - tie-dye everywhere, groovy vibe, unseasonably cool weather, a three-hour plus set from the Dead, Merle Haggard, Willie, and many, many cervezas (that's beer for you gringos). At some point in the day, Dennis Kucinich came out on stage to say a few words (a very few), causing something quite less than a stir.

We stayed to the bloody end, well after one a.m., as Toby Keith and Willie played a medley to end the festivities, and I was completely wiped out from booze and way too much heat and time on my feet. As I straggled to the car, I saw a lone figure to my side, tie askew, looking quite out of place and out of sorts. He was holding a campaign poster. It was Dennis Kucinich. No one knew, no one cared, and no one stopped to talk to him. True story...and a complete snapshot of one pathetic campaign.

Congress Should Vote On Losing Social Security Plan

When I began this blog, one of my favorite topics was the need for Social Security reform that encompassed private savings accounts. I think it's an idea whose time has come because (1) less people are going to be supporting more people who are living longer, and that obviously means the status quo won't do, and (2), I'm a firm believer in the concept of 'the ownership society'.

I haven't blogged on the issue much lately, because frankly the news has been so depressing. This Washington Post article suggests Republican congressman are seeking an exit strategy and waving the white flag. I have no reason to doubt the verity of that, nor do I think there remains any chance of getting through meaningful reform in this Congress.

Nevertheless, bring it to the floor. Why? Bring it to the floor so we can see who will stand up and be counted. Make no mistake, this is a failure that belongs to the Republican leadership. Let us take names, and elevate the issue to the frontburner, and let's run on a platform of finishing the job in 2006. There is no domestic issue of greater importance.

Another Good Reason To Support CAFTA...

...Chomsky's against it. Or is he? It's hard to tell from this truly incoherent monstrosity of a - a what? A blog post? An article? An op-ed? Or just the tired, sad musings of a rich old anti-capitalist? Sample some of the turgid prose here, and stack it up against anything written by Christopher Hitchens, up to and including his grocery lists:
On CAFTA, there is plenty of resistance throughout the region. Costa Rica is the only country that has something like a functioning democracy. The others are pretty much as described by the leading scholar of "democracy promotion," particularly in Latin America, the neo-Reaganite director of the Carnegie Endowment program on law and democracy. As he points out in the standard scholarly work on the period, the US was willing to tolerate only "top-down forms of democracy" that left power in the hands of the traditional elites linked to American power in highly undemocratic societies. He's not a critic, but a strong supporter of the policies, and is writing also from an insider's standpoint, having been in Reagan's State Department working on "democracy enhancement." But he's honest enough to describe the facts. It's much like the famous "New Europe" of 2003, the real hope for democracy: namely, countries that rejected the will of the large majority of the population and followed orders from Crawford Texas.
Huh? Did any of that make sense to anyone alive besides Chomsky? Yet the progressive acolytes no doubt nod sagely and whisper, 'The Great One has spoken'. Chomsky, does this neo-Reaganite you speak of have a name? If so, why not use it? Particularly mind-numbing is the last phrase, with its tired reference to a "New Europe" that takes orders from Crawford...please. Pure, unadulterated crap...

UPDATE 5:07 p.m.: While putting this post together, I found a particularly loathsome Chomsky piece. I wanted to work it in, but it so perfectly encapsulates the mindset of Chomsky and his followers that it deserves a good fisk, a task I hope to undertake this weekend, so come back and see me, won't you?...

History Lessons Galore

Michelle Malkin has been on a roll today; she has a roundup of bloggers helpfully offering Dick Durbin some lessons on Nazi and Soviet oppression. Meanwhile, Ankle Biting Pundits has awarded Senator Dick - er, Durbin - the Judge Elihu Smails Award for Buffoon of the Week. Might a similarly named and themed award be in Durbin's future? Could be...

I'll Believe It When I See It...

...Michelle Malkin has the scoop on a Salt Lake Tribune report that quotes poor little MoDo as saying she's about to hang it up.
...New York Times political columnist Maureen Dowd, on leave since early May to finish her second book, sounds a little burned out.

"It [writing the column] is so stressful that I don't miss it at all," she said Wednesday by telephone from Washington. "For me, the hard thing is the psychological pressure of being original. I find that almost impossible.

"You have to hope your readers like your company enough to go along for the ride. There's just so much opinion out there. It's a Tower of Babble now, and who's to say my babble is better than anyone else's? I don't know how much longer I can do it."

Baloney...her ego won't let her leave the scene of the action. I put the odds at her quitting in the next ten years at 100-1. Any takers?...

Quick Shots: RINOs Love Women

Especially when the women are serving our country with distinction. Get the details from our beloved Commissar...

A Small Victory bemoans a culture that's obsessed with the mating habits of Tom Cruise and Star magazine. I couldn't agree more...

Roger L. Simon
notes that it was Robert Parton, on of the two investigators to resign from the Volcker Commission, who unearthed the newly revealed Kofi-Cotecna memos...the plot thickens...

Conason On Klein's Smear Job

I normally don't have much use for Joe Conason, the author of Big Lies, one of those Alterman-type tomes that takes on 'the rightwing propaganda machine', and whose leftist work on Salon I'm quite familiar with. His recent review of Ed Klein's hatchet job on Hillary, though, has the ring of truth. It should be pointed out that most of us are only familiar with it through the allegation aired on Drudge, the one that I'm not going to dignify by repeating (though if you're curious, you can read about it in Klein's review).

Klein has read the book, though, and he assures us it is full of gossip, inneundo, and slanders big and small, not just on Hillary, but on those who surrounded her during the White House years, as well. To Conason's credit, he acknowledges that even the righthand side of the blogosphere has pulled back in revulsion at the spectacle. This book is going to flop, big, and well it should; we are eager to take Hillary on in the ring of politics, but our opposition should focus on policies and not personalities; character assassination is not the path to victory in 2008.

Today's Must-Read: Ignorance of History Behind Gitmo Hysteria

That's the message of this opinion piece by David Gelernter in the LA Times. In a passage that will seem quite familiar to regular readers of this blog, he says the following:

Ignorance of history destroys our judgment. Consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), who just compared the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Stalin's gulag and to the death camps of Hitler and Pol Pot - an astonishing, obscene piece of ignorance. Between 15 million and 30 million people died from 1918 through 1956 in the prisons and labor camps of the Soviet gulag. Historian Robert Conquest gives some facts. A prisoner at the Kholodnaya Gora prison had to stuff his ears with bread before sleeping on account of the shrieks of women being interrogated. At the Kolyma in Siberia, inmates labored through 12-hour days in cheap canvas shoes, on almost no food, in temperatures that could go to minus-58. At one camp, 1,300 of 3,000 inmates died in one year.

"Gulag" must not go the way of "Nazi" and become virtually meaningless. Europeans love calling Israelis "Nazis" - a transparent attempt to slough off their guilt like rattlesnakes shedding skin. ("See, the Jews are as bad as we were!") I'd like to ban the word "Nazi" except when applied to...Nazis. Lawbreakers would be ordered to learn what Nazi actually means.

Yet another example of the continuing necessity of the Bipartisan Anti-Inflammatory Pledge of 2005.

Miscellanea: Kicking Up A Storm

Looks like the Dick Durbin brouhaha has brought on a good ol'-fashioned blogswarm. Michelle Malkin has the roundup...

In other Durbin news, the good Captain Ed is hearing an old, familiar, and most unwelcome melody making its return...

The Raging RINOs have ourselves a logo...

The list of candidate profiles I need to get out just keeps growing. The latest, care of Alexander McClure, is George Pataki...

James Lilek's ScreedBlog has a righteous take down of Time's Gitmo Torture Cover Storyl...

Michael J. Totten spotlights this essay by Harvard History Professor Niall Ferguson that makes the case that we just don't have enough troops in Iraq to get the job done right...

The Radical Centrist notes the best strategy for taking on Howard Dean, and has this advice for the paranoid:
I don't think that Howard or any Democrats are secretly trying to keep the Republicans in power and the Deaniacs in the distant minority. There are people who are trying to do that, of course, they're called Republicans.
Someday I'll learn not to give the Kos the benefit of the doubt. Earlier I put the best interpretation I could on his torture remarks, but his latest is pretty specific in its wording:
What is beyond belief is that the type of torture more at home under tyrants and dictators is being seen in camps flying the United States flag.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Romney To Back Ban On Same-Sex Marriages

Speaking of Mitt Romney (and we were, earlier)...

In a move that I'm sure has nothing at all to do with shoring up support for a 2008 presidential run among religious conservatives, he has come out in favor of a ban on gay marriages through an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution. Oh, wait, seems others see higher aspirations as well:

Gay marriage supporters said on Thursday that they hoped opposition to same-sex marriage has decreased now that about 6,000 same-sex weddings have taken place over the last year. They accused Mr. Romney of trying to appeal to conservatives outside Massachusetts in preparation for a possible run for president.

"We believe he's projecting himself to a national Republican audience," said Marty Rouse, campaign director for MassEquality, a group that supports gay marriages.

Regardless of your stance on the issue, it's a smart move, politically; it defuses the Massachusetts gay marriage issue in one fell swoop - 'See, I'm against it. I think marriage is properly between a man and a woman.' This is what is called a win-win, particularly since Romney is not likely to get a large percentage of the gay vote, if historical trends are any indicator...

Holy Guacamole, It's Hot!

I don't know about where you guys are at, but this summer is already a scorcher in Austin - near 100 every day in every direction...jeez, it's hot!

While I cool down, here's something to tide you over, care of Viking Pundit. The Wall Street Journal delivers a drubbing to the Dean-led Democrats, concluding that, with the exception of Joe Lieberman (and, of course, you know how well-liked he is by the progressives), there is no center. More rightwing propaganda? Consider:

  • With the notable exception of Joe Lieberman, there are virtually no Scoop Jackson defense hawks remaining in a party that has made Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo its main policy touchstones for the war on terror.
  • The party that voted en masse for income and capital gains tax cuts under JFK now has but one message on taxes: Raise them.
  • On trade, the Democrats who delivered 102 House votes for Nafta and Bill Clinton in 1994 will, at last count, provide all of five House votes for the Central American Free Trade Agreement.
  • The Clinton Democrats helped enact the most momentous social policy legislation of the past generation: welfare reform. Now Democrats conspire every day to gut work-for-welfare requirements and prevent the renewal of welfare reform by Congress.
  • Above all, there's the know-nothing-ism on Social Security. The Democrats in unison proclaim that Mr. Bush is advancing a risky right-wing scheme to destroy Social Security by creating private investment accounts for workers.
As they say in the big leagues, read it all...

A Helping Hand

Do your part to help Viking Pundit recover his lofty Ecosystem ranking by linking and clicking here - and hurry, please, before he's forced to resort to desperate measures again. On second thought, if that's desperate measures - Yowsa!...

The Left Begins to Self-Destruct (Again)

By the very hour, the 'progressive' attack on Gitmo is reaching further heights of absurdity...we now have 'Kos' himself comparing 'torture' under U.S. troops to torture under Saddam in defense of Dick Durbin (and pissing plenty of people off in the bargain).

Now, I know that Markos perhaps is guilty of poor wording here; he may have meant to imply that if torture is bad when practiced by Saddam, it is just as bad when practiced by us - sorry, it's still a non-starter. As uncomfortable as it makes us, we must learn, apparently, the difference between stress techniques and 'torture'. If you look under the fold of Rusty's piece (and it's quite graphic; you've been warned), you will see torture as practiced by Saddam Hussein. Dick Durbin and the Kos can mouth off all they want; this sort of thing is not going on at Gitmo, and everyone knows it.

There are those who would say even stress techniques are out; fine, let them make that argument. The assault on Gitmo, however, is losing all perspective and is quite out of control. This is the perfect example of why the Democratic Party, if it ever wants to win another national election, must jettison the 'Progressive' wing - quite simply, responsible debate is impossible with the lot of them.

Quick Shots: Oh, No, Jacques, Et Tu?

Minh Duc has a most interesting Jacques Chirac quote from February 24, 2003:
Time: Are there nuclear arms in Iraq?
Chirac: I don't think so. Are there other weapons of mass destruction? That's probable.
Now let's quit this silly charade that Bush and Blair ignored evidence to the contrary - there WAS no evidence to the contrary, as Saddam ran a despotic regime and a closed society...

Senator Dick Durbin refuses to apologize for:
comments he made on the Senate floor comparing the actions of American soldiers at Guantanamo Bay to Nazis, Soviet gulags and a 'mad regime' like Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot's in Cambodia.
For a more realistic assessment of Gitmo, I refer you to Bill at INDC Journal...

Introducing the Raging RINOs

Coalition of the Chillin' Cartographer The Commissar has branched off and formed a new organization that may be of special interest to some members of the Coalition. The Raging RINOs (or Republican Individuals Not Overdosed - on the party Kool-Aid) was formed to answer these burning questions:
How can Conservative bloggers who might not want to drink the Party Kool-Aid on every single issue (ESCR, Schiavo, small government, fiscal responsibility, senatorial compromises, free markets/trade, just to name a few) find each other? Maybe you're just concerned about rhetorical excesses by "our side." Neo-libertarians and 'little l' libertarians welcome too.
I was quite pleased to be invited and of course I accepted. You can find the Community Page here...excellent work, Comrade!

Fred Kaplan: The Downing Street Memos Prove Bush Didn't Lie

At least, about WMDs. Fred Kaplan at Slate has one of the more thoughtful pieces on the the 7, 8, or however many memos it's up to now, and points out that, in their totality, they make an argument the anti-Bush folks are ignoring: Bush and Blair (and indeed, as I've argued, just about the whole damn world) BELIEVED the WMD intelligence:
These top officials genuinely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - and that they constituted a threat. They believed that the international community had to be sold on the matter. But not all sales pitches are consciously deceptive. The salesmen in this case turned out to be wrong; their goods were bunk. But they seemed to believe in their product at the time.
Kaplan also gets into the meaning of fixed around:
It's worth noting that "fixed around" is not synonymous with "fixed." To say that Bush and his aides "fixed" intelligence - as some Web sites claim the memo shows - would mean that they distorted or falsified it. To say "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" means that they were viewing, sifting, and interpreting intelligence in a way that would strengthen the case for their policy, for going to war.
If it weren't such a colossal waste of time, money, and effort, I'd actually be for televised Downing Street Memo hearings...the more we learn, the more secure we can feel in knowing that Bush and Blair sincerely believed there was a WMD program.

The Bear Finds a New Spot to Hibernate

If you haven't made it by yet, be sure to check out the Truth Laid Bear's new logo, new look, new features, same great Bear truth...well done!...

Can a Mormon Be Elected President?

That's the question Robert Novak has, as he pens a mostly positive portrait of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Romney is definitely in the 2008 race, says Novak, and furthermore, he seems to be laying the groundwork ahead of his potential rivals. Interestingly, in the midst of discussing a Romney visit to Michigan, Novak mentions a move by Republican party leaders to bar non-Republicans from voting in the primary, a move that would be sure to harm John McCain, with his crossover appeal that may exceed his party appeal.

To answer Novak's question: yes, I think. But could an atheist (at least an admitted one)? I doubt long as Romney doesn't make an issue of the LDS, I suspect his opponents will shy away from attacking on this angle for fear of offending one of the more rapidly growing congregations. This campaign is getting more interesting by the day...

Downing Street: No Through Traffic

The Minuteman has more on the Downing Street Memo(s) this morning, pointing to this editorial in that conservative bastion the Washington Post that echoes my sentiments all along:
The memos add not a single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly known in July 2002.
Another article in the Post gives the Memo more weight than it's worth, and mentions the public hearing Rep. John Conyers, Jr., is holding today. Talk about a waste of government resources. Let the historians hash out the prewar buildup; Conyers and all of our representatives should be instead focusing their efforts on asking tough questions about Iraq today: are the troop levels adequate? How will we address recruiting shortfalls? These are germane to today's events, and the lives of American soldiers and Iraqis depend on answering them correctly. Let Downing Street go, there's plenty to worry about in the here and now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

This Is What I Love About Blogs

What are the odds that, in a world without blogs (this sounds like a bad sci-fi movie, doesn't it? - In a world without blogs, one man had the courage...and so forth...), you and I would have found out there's yet ANOTHER Downing Street Memo, this one contradicting the ones causing such a flurry by asserting that the decision had not been made to go to war pre-diplomacy?

Fortunately, the always reliable Tom Maguire has found the story, buried in the New York Times. This memo is from July 21, 2002, and here's the money quote:
Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq.
As I've been saying for at least a couple of weeks, the Downing Street Memos, collectively, even the supposed 'smoking guns', are non-starters. They confirm nothing more than the conventional wisdom, and anyone who cared to know this information needed go no further than the newspapers, or Bob Woodward's Bush at War.

The only real smoking gun, the only piece of evidence that might actually justify the Left's dreams of impeachment, would be DIRECT evidence that intelligence was 'cooked' at the direction of high-ranking administration officials, or under extraordinary pressure from same, with the knowledge of George W. Bush. When you've got that, talk to me about impeachment...

Could an Independent McCain Take the Presidency?

It seems like the parlor game de jour is assessing the prospects of a McCain 2008 ticket as an independent candidacy. A little background, first...the always interesting Mickey Kaus spins out a plethora of possibilities predicated on a plurality Presidential vote for McCain (try saying that ten times fast).

The question before the court is this: McCain runs as a third party candidate, wins a plurality but not a majority in the Electoral College, thus the election is thrown into the House, the domicile of the two dominant parties. Mickey, with the help of his readers, lays out some possible victory scenarios, as does the Minuteman (with a tantalizingly vague reference to yours truly), while providing a civics lesson on proportional representation and teasing out some interesting strategic switch-off possibilities.

I wouldn't dream of suggesting that I am in the same league as these two distinguished gentlemen when it comes to the ins and outs of the Electoral College, but here's my shot at reading the tea leaves. McCain simply cannot wait out another election cycle, but he's clearly setting himself up as the Republican nominee. Every decision he has made since about mid-2003 seems to point in this direction, most particularly his peace overtures to the Bushes. For fundraising purposes, he needs to keep that channel open.

The wild card is Rudy G. If the former New York mayor runs, how can George W. possibly withhold his endorsement from one of the nation's most potent symbols of 9/11? Or (a longer shot) Condi (whose odds I need to revisit soon)? Under either scenario, I think McCain will take a serious look at running as an independent, depending on Rudy's and/or Condi's polling and fundraising (I suspect each would excel in both categories). In an election with both McCain and Rudy G., or McCain and Condi, or even Rudy and Condi, for that matter, I think the splitting of the Republican and moderate votes would be so severe that we would be saying hello to Madam President in January, 2009...

UPDATE 8:25 p.m. central: By the way, many thanks to the Minuteman for the links, and let's make it official: time to drop Condi's odds and raise McCain's. Given the fact that he's clearly floating trial balloons and gearing up for a run, and the dying down of the Condi buzz, I'm going with:

McCain's Current Odds: 12-1

Condi's Current Odds: 15-1

Also, in reference to George W.'s endorsement, there's a very real possibility he'll (at least officially) decline to endorse anyone in the primaries...

On The Other Hand...

I said below you can't make up stuff this good, but you can make up stuff this good. The rest of us merely stand in awe and salute...

You Can't Make Up Stuff This Good

Unfortunately for all of us, I was turned down in my application to be a Google News source today, as I am a site maintained by a single individual (the world is the poorer for it). Kudos, though, to Google News source The Electronic Intifada on their listing. Here's an example of their groundbreaking journalism, Israelis Will Use U.S. Tax Dollars on Illegal Border. Sheesh...

Quicks Shots: Why Aren't People Responding?

That's the question the Viking Pundit has regarding the new Democratic slogan...

Dick Durbin
needs to take the Pledge, methinks...

Betsy Newmark
highlights an excellent article examining the U.S. policy in Iraq. I'm planning on doing a longish Iraq post soon...and I've also started the long-rumored site stick around, won't you?...

The North Korean Nightmare From One Who Has Seen It

Regular Decision '08 readers (and God bless every one of you) know that I occasionally return to a subject that is of great importance to me, and that is the nightmare that is North Korea. I specifically made an exception to my Bipartisan Anti-Inflammation Pledge of 2005 for Kim Jong-Il's regime, for it is the only modern equivalent to the horrors of Stalinist Russia.

Norbert Vollertsen is a German doctor who was showered with accolades and special privileges for donating skin tissue for a skin graft while working as a German aid worker in North Korea. As a result, he was given access to areas most foreigners would never see. The story he tells is horrifying: hospitals where beer bottles and safety razors are surgical instruments, starving children dressed in blue and white uniforms, an entire nation beset by constant anxiety about what new horror waits around the bend.

This is a demon that must be faced, sooner rather than later. Every day that Kim Jong-Il remains at the top is a day that thousands will never live through. I don't know the solution, but we have to keep the pressure on.

Some Very Good News This Wednesday

Australian hostage Douglas Wood has been either (a) rescued, or (b) released. Either way, a happy day for his family...and of course, we can't forget those who are still held. Rusty Shackleford has more...

More On The White Christian - er, Republican Party

Ruben Navarrette, Jr., has a blistering editorial in the Seattle Times calling the Democrats to task for their continual use of minorities as a special interest group tied to liberal politics:
...each time Bush or another prominent Republican tries to make minorities feel at home in the GOP, Democrats worry that the hold that they have on these groups may weaken and they won't be able to do much about it.
Janice Rogers Brown, Condi, Albert Gonzales, Clarence Thomas - what do all these figures have in common? In the words of Navarrette:
I don't see why liberals won't say what they really mean. It's obvious that what concerns them is not that these nominees aren't real minorities, but rather that they aren't their kind of minority. You know, the kind that asks for permission before they speak and makes sure that what they say falls in line with the views of their liberal benefactors.

More On Kofi's Latest Crisis

CNN gets kudos for giving the new Oil-For-Food revelations prominent attention. Of course, this isn't really so much about Oil-For-Food as it is improper influence on the awarding of contracts. The fraudulent diversion of $10-20 billion dollars to Saddam supporters is apparently not a firing offense at Turtle Bay, but by God, we won't stand for nepotism!...

UPDATE 10:04 a.m. central: Thanks to the great Tim Blair for the link...

Today's Must-Read: The WSJ On The UN

In an excellent editorial today, the Wall Street Journal (registration may be required) suggests that events at the United Nations may have reached a tipping point. With even John McCain publicly decrying the lack of movement on the Bolton nomination, today's release of a bipartisan report critical of the multinational body, the revelation that Kofi Annan most likely lied to the Volcker commission, and the introduction of an amendment by Henry Hyde to tie funding to reform, events do some to be converging towards a showdown of sorts. To be continued...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Miscellanea - No Apology Necessary Edition

We all know Robert Byrd apologized for his membership in the KKK...or did he? Don Surber has more...

Ryan James says 'game on!' as W. takes off the gloves...

If you don't already visit him daily, you should make Arthur Chrank Cough a regular stop...

In light of a Vermont school's bow to political correctness, the great Tim Blair has some new mascot name suggestions...

There's still time for a very special Happy Birthday, care of Bloggledygook...

The Indepundit has the story of Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who says North Korea will give up its nuclear program 'one way or another'. An interesting choice of words, to be sure...

There may never be another chance to mention Oliver Kamm, Harvard, the BBC, and alien abductions in a single post, so I'm running with it...

More Filibuster - Lynching Nonsense

If you were around here this weekend, you may remember a little controversy surrounding the good Captain Ed and a post he put up regarding filibusters and their use as a tool of racism (a theme he expands upon in this post from today). This blog, among others, thought he put things a bit too strongly.

Leave it to the Kossacks to put things in perspective. Courtesy of the Commissar, we find that they are making the case for the equivalence between non-sponsorship of the Senate 'apology' and lynching. Words fail me...perhaps we need to add lynching to the Bipartisan Anti-Inflammation Pledge of 2005?

Candidate Profile Twenty-One: Rick Santorum

Is Rick Santorum a genuine 2008 hopeful? Or is he a useful lightning rod for the right? Or perhaps, a strawman set up by the left? You can't disregard questions of this sort when Santorum is the subject, nor can you avoid them. Here's the scoop...

Richard John Santorum - official bio

His Wikipedia page, hilariously one-sided and as inflammatory as possible

Resume - United States Senator for Pennsylvania since 1995; former U.S. House Representative; Penn State, B. A.; University of Pittsburgh, M.B.A.; Dickinson School of Law, J.D.

The first and most obvious thing about Santorum is that he is in a real scrape to keep his seat in 2006; Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., is going to take him to the wall, by all indications, so 2008 is the least of his worries at the moment. Then, of course, there is the Senator factor; it's a notoriously difficult proposition for a Senator to take the Oval Office, in part because a trail of votes are brought to the campaign.

The conventional wisdom is that social conservatives are nuts about Santorum. That may or may not be the case. What we do know for sure, though, is that Santorum would bring a lot of baggage, and for this reason, I don't even like his chances as a Vice-Presidential candidate. I don't intend here to dissect his statements regarding homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or his recent Hitler reference. Nor is it my intent to comment on the rightness or wrongness of his positions (though I think all regular readers know my stance on Hitler comparisons).

The point of bringing these matters up is simply this; the Democrats and the press will bring them up at every possible opportunity in the event of a Santorum candidacy. Do Republicans want a presidential or vice-presidential candidate who, like Howard Dean, constantly distracts from the campaign message with intemperate remarks? Do we want Campaign 2008 to be one long debate on what he said, or meant to say, or might be thinking of saying in the future? I don't think Santorum is ready for the big leagues, and I'll tell you why.

Santorum hasn't learned the lesson George W. Bush and John McCain, among others, could have taught him if he were a smarter politician: you play the good cop, and let your subordinates or spokesman or peers play the bad cop. When Bush or McCain face a loaded question from the press, the vast majority of the time, they deflect the question with a moderate response. Whether they believe the answer or not is not the point; what I'm saying is, if they're out to hang you, don't give 'em the rope to do it with.

I don't think Santorum is the answer for the Republican Party, nor do I believe that talk of his possible candidacy will get very far. Unless I am very, very wrong, this is a long shot indeed.


UPDATE 07/24/2005 10:56 p.m.:

see here...

Quick Shots: Advantage, Coalition

AJ Strata points out a piece that reveals the unmistakable rightward shift in the composition of powerful D.C. Court of Appeals...

AJ, Little Green Footballs, and Rick Moran are all over the story of a fellow Texan and former Bush Administration economist who thinks 9/11 was the result of controlled demolitions...sigh...if anyone, anywhere believes this hokum, here's one of the best articles ever at debunking 9/11 myths, from an unlikely source...

Here's a summation of Hillary's appearance at the NYU Medical Center by jp at Americans for Freedom, who was there...

Academic Absurdity: The New Criterion Looks at the Kirkland Project for the Study of Gender, Society, and Culture

With a name like that...well, you can be sure PC-dead-white-European-male bashing will be prominent. In a short but amusing piece, the editors of the New Criterion take a look at the academic follies for the year to date and settle upon this as the cake-taker. The Project is the work of notorious little Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, the school that invited Weather Underground terrorist Susan Rosenberg to teach a month-long seminar.

After (what else?) appointing a committee to look into this and other recent controversies, one resolute recommendation was made - to change the name of the program...

Another Coalition Victory

Ryan James has the roll call as yet another judge goes through...things are looking better all the time for the Coalition...

Why Do Liberal Blogs Have More Readers?

I noted with interest this post at the Daily Kos yesterday, which was actually a followup to this post at MyDD, claiming that the rightwing blogosphere is collapsing under our aristocracy. It seems we are ruled by Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Captain Ed, PoliPundit, and the other high traffic sites, who use their lack of comments and the fact that they don't use Scoop software to quell dissent. Or something like that...

First of all, I don't buy the premise that the rightwing blogs are stagnant; traffic ebbs and flows. Second, how influential are the big liberal blogs, outside of their little niche of the already-converted flaming moonbat Bush haters? Third, many right-leaning blogs do allow comments, even bigger blogs, such as Captain Ed and PoliPundit.

Indeed, PoliPundit suggests here that one reason comments are not allowed at most of the bigger blogs is that trolls make it a full-time job just policing the comments. This is not a new liberal tactic; it is the same sort of intimidation liberals use when a well-known conservative dares to show his or her face on a college campus.

I have my own theory, assuming the numbers are correct: liberal blogs foster a sense of community because they feed off of paranoid 'alternative' views of reality. Despite their frequent claim to be part of the 'reality-based' community, it seems there is no theory so outlandish that it will not be given instant credence by the Kossacks. If there is no place for your views in the mainstream, you seek out the fringe.

McCain/Bush 2008 Makes the Rounds Again

The second story from a prominent columnist in the space of a few days touting McCain/Bush as perhaps the Republican's best bet has me feeling that someone is out there floating a trial balloon. This time, it's E. J. Dionne, Jr., of the Washington Post, who at least paints a more plausible scenario than Eleanor Clift's. Dionne sees a Bush endorsement as one way McCain can make an end run around opposition from elements of the right who are inclined to oppose him; he believes Bush would do that, if he thought it was the only way for the Republicans to retain the White House. Just to be sure, Jeb would cinch the deal. Or so goes the scenario...

Oil-For-Food Update: A Memo Of A Different Sort

Don't look for this memo to get the attention that the Downing Street Memo did - in a perfect world, though, it would end Kofi Annan's tenure at the U.N. The Instapundit points to this New York Times article on the discovery of a memo that directly contradicts Annan's repeated assertions that he had nothing to do with the selection of Cotecna, the contractor that employed his son Kofo for a period. Given the lack of action to date, though, I can't say I expect anything to come of it. Pity, that - I sure hope I'm wrong...

UPDATE 12:40 p.m. central: Maybe I AM wrong; Roger Simon reports that at least some are taking the report seriously. To be continued?...

Quick Shots: Clueless in Seattle

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House has the 1st Carnival of the Clueless up; lots of good stuff, so check it out...

AJStrata wonders what happened to the spine of some of our esteemed representatives; more on that subject from the aforementioned Rick Moran, who believes it's time to crack the whip...

Jeff at the Bernoulli Effect
bemoans the cultural Marxism of our universities...

Ryan James notes Bill Richardson is getting the props from the Concord Monitor...

And for some further excellent reading, our good friend Fargus selects the best of the Fargus Report. Go check it out; you know you want to...

Hitchens on Gitmo, Geneva, and Amnesty

As is so often the case, Christopher Hitchens manages to say in a sentence or two what amateurs such as myself can't put into a thousand words. His latest is a thing of beauty; but why should I waste time waxing poetic over it? Let's try some samples:

On the non-applicability of the Geneva conventions:

The forces of al-Qaida and its surrogate organizations are not signatory to the conventions and naturally express contempt for them. They have no battle order or uniform and are represented by no authority with which terms can be negotiated. Nor can they claim, as actual guerrilla movements like the Algerian FLN have done in the past, to be the future representatives of their countries or peoples. In Afghanistan and Iraq, they sought to destroy the electoral process that alone can confer true legitimacy, and they are in many, if not most, cases not even citizens of the countries concerned. Their announced aim is the destruction of all nonbelievers, and their avowed method is indiscriminate and random murder. They are more like pirates, hijackers, or torturers - three categories of people who have in the past been declared outside the protection of any law.

On the Gitmo scandals:

The man whose story of rough interrogation has just been published in Time had planned to board a United Airlines flight and crash it into a skyscraper. I want to know who his friends and contacts were, and so do you, hypocrite lecteur.

You may desire this while also reserving the right to demand that he has a lawyer present at all times. But please observe where we stand now. Alberto Gonzales was excoriated even for asking, or being asked, about the applicability of Geneva rules.

And please, if you would, read with special care Hitchens on Amnesty, an organization with which he has some acquaintance:

About Amnesty International's disgraceful performance, however, I can tell as well as ask. I was at one point quite close to its London headquarters, and I used to both carry and return messages for the organization when I went as a reporter to screwed-up countries. The founding statutes were quite clear: An Amnesty local was to adopt three "prisoners of conscience," one from either side of the Cold War and one from a "neutral" state. Letters were to be written to the relevant governments and to newspapers in free countries. Though physical torture and capital punishment were opposed in all cases, no overt political position was to be taken. (I remember there was quite a row when an Amnesty "country report" on Argentina went so far as to describe a guerrilla raid as "daring.") By adhering to these rules, AI became a credible worldwide group to which even the most repressive governments sometimes had to pay attention. All honor to its founder Peter Benenson, who died earlier this year.

And now look. I think it is fairly safe to say that not one detainee in Guantanamo is there because of an expression of opinion. (And those whose "opinion" is that all infidels must die are not exactly prisoners of conscience.) Morally neutral on this point, apparently, Amnesty nonetheless finds its voice by describing the prison itself as "the gulag of our times." No need to waste words here: Not everyone in the gulag was a "prisoner of conscience," either. But if an organization that ostensibly protects the rights of prisoners is unaware of the nature of a colossal system of forced labor and arbitrary detention - replete with physical torture, starvation, and brutal execution - then the moral compass has become disordered beyond repair. This is not even neutrality between the fireman and the fire. It surely expresses a covert sympathy with the aims and objectives of jihad and an overt, if witless and sinister, hatred of the United States. If only this were the only symptom of that tendency.

Ahhh, what sweet satisfaction to see things so clearly...

Monday, June 13, 2005

Miscellanea: BSR Gets Results

Blue State Republican complains about a professor's dismissal of Mike Huckabee, and - whattayaknow - the professor responsds...

It's true - great minds DO think alike...

Kudos to the great Dr. Shackleford for not only going after Gitmo=Gulag, but including a warning against Holocaust analogies, as well...

Right Hand of God has discovered the secret behind Bush's low poll numbers; it's - well, go see for yourself...

The always thoughtful Wretchard blogs on Iraq War casualties here and here, and concludes: Faster. Please...

Michelle Malkin
reminds us that Freedom of Speech is not the freedom to kill everyone's evening. The full story here...

Lou Dobbs For President is a blog...well, it's a blog that want to encourage Lou Dobbs the run for president. How's that for truth in advertising?...

A Very Happy Blogiversary, Indeed

Michelle Malkin turns one today, and she celebrates with one of the most linkalicious posts I've ever seen. Michelle has been very kind to this blog, and she's got a great site with a great look, and a big platform she's not afraid to use. Best wishes and many happy returns...

Jessica Alba's See-Through Dress at the MTV Movie Awards... not featured in this post, or indeed, anywhere on this blog. I'm glad I got your attention, though, because this interview at Tech Central Station with FEC Commissioner Brad Smith shows that there is still a lot to be concerned with, if you're a blogger and concerned at all about the First Amendment to the Constitution. Best passage:
We have been forced into a position that there will be some regulation; and that alone will mark a substantial change in the whole disposition towards the Internet. I think that the commission can and should adopt a broad exemption for personal activity on the Internet and also for paid ads to be on the Internet.

We need to make clear that bloggers are press, these are periodicals and people update them regularly; that the first amendment does not only apply to people who are members of the National Press Club, that it is not limited to people who have a little press card in their hat band like some 1930s movie.

The press is everybody; every citizen has a right to publish his views and to promote his views and if the Internet is blurring a distinction between traditional media and just average citizens, I am not sure that's a bad thing. That's a good thing, a democratizing thing, it is exactly the type of thing that the reformers claimed for years to want. They ought to rejoice in it. That they don't is interesting in itself.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: McCain's biggest problem in the 2008 election is not the judicial compromise (by 2007 it will be long forgotten, for most people, if they were aware of it at all), but the monstrosity that is McCain-Feingold. They'll get my blog when they pry it out of my cold, dead pajamas, by God! (Hat tip to the Instapundit, who just is making me sick with his vacation photos! Sure, Glenn, rub it in)...

Jackson Jury To Deliver Verdict

At 3:30 p.m. central: remember my prediction, complete acquittal, or if anything, convinction on the lesser included charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor...

UPDATE 4:24 p.m. - Yep, complete acquittal, proving (1) you can't convict a celebrity of anything anymore, and (2) the jury system is broke. Of course, we've known both things since at least the O.J. verdict...

Quick Shots: Dean Stays Busy

Another day, another outrageous comment from Howard Dean. Ryan James has the latest...

More Dean idiocy here, care of Alexander McClure at PoliPundit...

Paris Hilton - wait, I can't be reading this right - yep, that's what it says - okay, Paris Hilton plans to retire in two years - from WHAT???!!!! Don't you have to actually, um, do something first?...

Oh, and I forgot to link to this earlier...but AJStrata reports on a filibuster by any other name. You could certainly make the argument that this voids the deal, and AJ does...still, I think we should save our ammo for the big game...

The US Doesn't Need Kyoto

Robert Novak writes on increasing pressure on George W. Bush on a variety of fronts to change the U.S. stance on the Kyoto agreement. Bush should reject this out of hand. As I discussed in an earlier post, Kyoto is one of the most ineffecient boondoggles of all time, cost tens of trillions for virtually no result - no environmental result, that is. The result on U.S. companies forced to comply would be simply devastating. Indeed, as Novak states:

"In reality, Kyoto was never about environmental policy," a White House aide told me. "It was designed as an elaborate, predatory trade strategy to level the American and European economies." The problem for Europeans has been that Bush refused to go along, ruining the desired leveling effect. The EU's industries have been devastated, while the U.S. has prospered.

Europeans' desire to bring U.S. prosperity down to their level is no conspiracy theory of American conservatives. Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish vice president of the European Commission, in 2001 (when she was commissioner for the environment) said the Kyoto Protocol was "not a simple environmental issue . . . this is about international relations, this is about economy -- about trying to create a level playing field."

The goal for the United States, economically, should be to maximize productivity and liberalize trade; if the Europeans don't want to play on that field, let them level their own.

UPDATE 12:45 p.m. central: There is, in fact, evidence that the policies prescribed by Kyoto will increase global warming; I refer you to the brilliant physicist Lubos Motl, with a stern warning that if you quarrel with him, you better come prepared - to say he knows his stuff would be a vast understatement...

A Scandalous Accusation

Edward Klein has a new book coming out about Hillary Clinton that supposedly claims - well, you can read about it here, if you haven't already heard. AJStrata first alerted me to this, and now the Instapundit, Ankle Biting Pundits, Lorie Byrd, Betsy Newmark, and Captain Ed have weighed in. My own take: this looks to be a complete fraud. Edward Klein has a distinguished journalistic pedigree, but when you make an allegation this outrageous, you better have the goods. Unless a lot more comes out than the sketchy facts (or complete lack of such) we have before us now, I concur with the majority view that this is not to be taken seriously.

Brownback 2008?

George Will assesses the prospects. He begins:
In 1988, the arrival of the religious right and social conservatism as formidable and entwined forces in the Republican Party was signaled when Pat Robertson received 25 percent of the vote in the Iowa presidential nominating caucuses, second to Bob Dole's 37 percent. Seventeen years later, when Robertson was asked on ABC's "This Week" who he thought might make a fine Republican nominee in 2008, he began his answer: "There's an outstanding senator from Kansas ..."
In the article Brownback states his belief that Rick Santorum, a rival for the votes of religious conservatives, will not run in 2008. He also shows a dangerous tendency to hyperbole by flirting with violation of the Bipartisan Anti-Inflammatory Pledge of 2005:
Brownback says opposition to same-sex marriages has "broadened the movement" of social conservatism. However, opposition to abortion is still the movement's molten core. He insists there is a pro-life majority - a majority opposed to abortion other than in cases of rape or incest or when it is necessary to save the mother's life. And he says the youngest voters, ages 18 to 25, are the most pro-life cohort. They were born, he says, when abortion rates were highest, so "many of them feel they're the survivors of a holocaust: one in four of their compatriots are not here." Actually, almost one in three: the abortion rate peaked in 1983 at 30.4 percent.
That is, indeed, an alarming stat; but 'a holocaust' is uncomfortably close to THE Holocaust, and rhetoric like that will only inflame the pro-choice crowd. Is Brownback ready for Prime Time? Look for candidate profiles of Brownback and Santorum soon...

Today's Must-Read: Good News From Iraq

One could be forgiven for thinking that Iraq was the biggest disaster since - well, since Vietnam, the MSM's favorite point of comparison. Granted, everyone had hoped things would be better than they are by now; still, things aren't ALL bad, and Arthur Chrenkoff's latest installment of Good News from Iraq provides a welcome counterpoint to all the doom and gloom, and a good reminder of why we're there and what we're fighting for...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Power Line On Al Franken, Senator?

Scott Johnson at Power Line has an excellent, lengthy piece about Al Franken's warm-up gig, so to speak, in front of a Minneapolis audience at a fundraiser. Franken is apparently widely expected to throw his hat in the political ring (but Al, Air America is doing so well!). Scott's piece is not a smear job, though; he's quite fair in his assessment, and hey, any guy who tears up in public talking about his late father can't be all bad.

In fact, I don't despise Al Franken; I hate his politics, sure, but he can be genuinely funny at times (more so in print then elsewhere...his books are spotty, but frequently hilarious). Lord, is he ever liberal, though! Of course, that's not a crime...neither is it sufficient to justify a political career. Entertainers have made great politicians before, though (two Republican actors come to mind). As you can see, I'm kind of ambivalent on this one...let's wait and see if Franken understands the difference between talking to potential voters, and talking to an all-liberal talk show audience.

New Poll - What Will Be the Dominating Issue in the 2008 Primaries?

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm projecting - is abortion more important to Republicans than I give it credit for? What about Iraq? Will it dominate in 2008? Here's your chance to be heard...

The last poll, on Senator Clinton, revealed that 39% of you think she's liberal, 11% a moderate, and whopping 47% find her duplicitous, saying it depends on the audience.

Clift, Fineman Survey the Scene

Howard Fineman, who is really one of the better political commentators, puts his finger on why Dean is bad for the party. First, though, he makes a good point about Democratic fundraising; that is, Democrats, who despite their faux populist image have ALWAYS been the party of the rich (George Soros, Hollywood, big wigs on the coasts, etc.), now have to do more retail fundraising in small donations. When viewed that way, Fineman says Dean has not been the disaster that many, including myself, have made him out to be.

Still, Fineman says, Dean has a bigger problem than his big mouth; he actually believes what his big mouth is saying. Or, in Fineman's words:
...Dean's real problem may not be his mouth but his mind-set. He and his aides seemed genuinely mystified at the idea that his characterization of the GOP was a political mistake. But by labeling the other party a bastion of Christianity, he implied that his own was something else - something determinedly secular - at a time when Dean's stated aim is to win the hearts of middle-class white Southerners, many of whom are evangelicals. In a slide-show presentation at the DNC conference last weekend, polltaker Cornell Belcher focused on why those voters aren't responding to the Democrats' economic message. One reason, he said, is that too many of them see the Democrats as 'anti-religion.' And why was that? No one asked Dean, who wasn't taking questions from the press.
Meanwhile, Eleanor Clift is asking if abortion will decide Election 2008:
Conservatives will have to decide who they hate more in 2008, Hillary Clinton or John McCain. That's how a veteran of the Reagan White House sizes up the current field. The religious right loathes Hillary, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and they love Virginia Sen. George Allen, an amiable, Reagan-like figure whose father once coached the Redskins. Allen will do well in the Republican primaries, but polls will show him losing by 7 percentage points to Hillary at the same time they show McCain handily beating her. That will be the moment of truth for evangelical Christians. What they do depends on how hungry they are to win. If they go with McCain, he could ease their anxieties by choosing Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as his running mate.

Improbable, you say, but this comes from a savvy observer of the political scene. Brother Jeb is beloved among the Christian right for shepherding the case of the brain-damaged Terri Schiavo into the national spotlight, and the Bush dynasty is yearning to be established. Tucked in a New Yorker article last month on McCain was the revelation that he assured conservative activist Gary Bauer that if elected president he would nominate pro-life judges. Bush refused to make such an explicit promise, which is why Bauer endorsed McCain in the 2000 primaries.

McCain broke with the religious right over the gay-marriage amendment, but he is pro-life and has a 100 percent voting record in Congress to prove it.
Baloney...McCain and Hillary may well end up being the nominees (though they both will have to face a brutal primary fight to get there), but the fundamental problem with this message is the messenger. Clift is one of those old school liberals who wears it like a badge, and she sees politics through the skewed frame that abortion is the issue that really matters, as if all of humanity has been a struggle to reach the mountaintop, i.e., abortion at will.

In my view, abortion will not be the first, second, third, or fourth biggest factor in Election 2008. It may come in at twelfth, but no higher. Abortion has ALWAYS meant far more to Democrats than it does to America; indeed, it is the single greatest uniting factor of the modern party. Yes, some elements of the Right see the pro-life issue as a huge deal, but most Americans accept that abortion will be legal, but they don't particularly like it, and they certainly don't see it as something to celebrate. Far more important factors in the election will be Iraq and the War on Terror generally, the state of the economy, and yes, 'values', of which the stand on abortion is but a small part.

Clift speaks of the Democratic strategy of 'new ways to talk about' abortion, as if the American people are so stupid that we will, overnight, forget that it is the Democrats who always oppose even the most commonsense abortion laws. This isn't surprising, though; most Democrats have failed to realize that no matter how you dress manure, it smells just as bad. In other words, forget the syntax, it's the content they should be concerned with.

UPDATE 8:47 p.m. central: For a completely different view of the importance of abortion to Election 2008, see this comment on a previous post...

UPDATE 2 9:08 p.m. central: Hilariously, the see-no-evil Kossacks are focusing on Howard's half-hearted defense of Dean's fundraising by spotlighting an article that is overwhelmingly negative towards their man...

Updating the Odds

From time to time, I'll be doing a little housekeeping on already completed candidate profiles, and updating the odds. Today, I'm changing the odds on three candidates, all on the Democratic side: I've dropped Al Gore from 15-1 to 22-1 (after all, is anyone talking about him? The buzz is deafening in its silence); John Kerry drops from 22-1 to 26-1 (mainly as a result of the recent form SF-180 fiasco, which reminded us all that Kerry can't shoot straight with anyone about anything); and Hillary's odds have improved, from 8-1 to 6-1 (looking at the convential wisdom, you'd think she had the nomination already; I say she still faces an uphill battle).

Jeffrey Rosen on 'The Deal'

In the NY Times Magazine, Jeffrey Rosen of George Washington University has an article called Center Court that opines on the recent compromise that's been mentioned just a time or two in these parts. Rosen starts out promisingly enough:

Within hours of the compromise reached by a bipartisan group of senators last month that defused, or at least delayed, a showdown on judicial filibusters, interest groups on the right and the left were denouncing the deal in the most aggrieved terms. ''Is there anybody on our side who is happy?'' Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice, told The Times. Paul Weyrich, founder of the conservative Free Congress Foundation, was even angrier about the deal. ''Conservatives are going to be outraged over it,'' he predicted.

Yet even as interest groups were bemoaning the fact that a handful of centrists had narrowly prevented the Senate from blowing itself up, the country as a whole was applauding the compromise.
That sounds like a true member of the Coalition. Unfortunately, the promising beginning quickly goes awry, as Rosen begins to wax eloquent about moderate judges.

I don't think Rosen is drawing the right conclusions here. The compromise was not about moderate judges, but rather moderation in apocalyptic rhetoric. In fact, as a true-blue conservative, I would argue that the compromise enabled not only more conservative judges than would have otherwise been the case, but indeed judges who were more conservative individually.

In short, the deal was a disaster for the Left, and a huge win for the Right, as subsequent events have shown. We gave up literally nothing at all, and already five judges sit on the bench in a matter of days, after years of inaction, and it's not because the judges were moderate - far from it. Remember, even if the Democrats resort again to the filibuster, they were already doing that, and nothing at all prevents us from going nuclear in the future when the stakes are higher. That's what I call victory.

Now HERE'S An Idea I Can Fully Support

Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House is beginning a weekly Carnival of the Clueless; that dovetails nicely with my Weekly Jackass, but it's a great idea, to boot! If you're interested in submitting, check it out, 'cause the deadline for this week is tomorrow...

On a Far Less Consequential Topic...

...what does it mean that the Michael Jackson jury is still out?
  1. It shows once again what a joke the O. J. deliberations were; did those clowns even bother to sit down before they voted to acquit?;
  2. It means that at least one and probably only one person is still holding out for conviction (bless you, sir or madam); and
  3. Make no mistake, he will be acquited. Oh, I think there are some lesser included charges they might get him on, like furnishing alcohol to a minor, but the charges of substance...well, let's just say that I believe it is impossible to convinct a celebrity in this absurd world of ours.