Stephen Moore, WSJ:
If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.
It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?
“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.” —James Madison, Federalist No. 48
David Dolan is a Jersalem-based author and journalist who has lived and worked in Israel since 1980.
The following is reposted with permission.
Despite the fact that I have lived and worked as a journalist in Israel for over 30 years, I’ve thankfully never had a gun pointed at me in the Lord’s special land. I have dodged bullets a few times, had stones hurled onto my car, and had rockets and mortar shells land nearby, especially when I lived along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. I have also been in the vicinity of several major terror attacks, including one deadly atrocity just a couple blocks from my home.
I did have a rifle pointed at me on one occasion, but not on Israeli territory. The incident occurred just inside the Egyptian border with Israel. It was 1989, and I already knew from friends and media colleagues that the crossing point into the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula was rife with corrupt border guards who often demanded money from visitors entering Egypt, especially if they were Americans. One of them took my passport and hid it in a drawer, pretending 30 seconds later that I had not given it to him. I quickly realized he was expecting me to shelve out a bribe to get it back. Living for years in the troubled region, I refused to do so. When I said I would return to the Israeli guard post to protest his theft, another nearby Egyptian security guard raised his rifle and threatened to shoot me. Fortunately the commotion caught the attention of the Israelis some 60 feet away, who came to my rescue.
So the fact that Hosni Mubarak’s police and security forces are rife with corruption has been evident to me for many years. Does this mean I have been advocating the ouster of his autocratic regime? Not at all. This is because I’ve also long understood that the Arab people in general, especially the vast majority who are practicing Muslims, tend to be very proud folks, with the Muslims believing that they are the Almighty’s uniquely chosen sons and daughters, not Christians or Jews. This deeply-held belief contributes to the fact that the Arab masses have often proved to be very unruly, as some of my Arab friends freely admit.
In my opinion, the tendency toward unruliness is the main factor underlining the reality that Arab governments have always been autocratic to some extent, with most wielding iron fists over their citizens. The majority of people are also undereducated in most Arab countries, and often steeped in poverty. This is partly the fault of their dictatorial governments, but also of their Islamic religious systems and overly large family sizes. Therefore “democracy” as we know it in the West is not necessarily the best form of government for Arab societies, with our systems of one-person, one-vote likely to lead to far more oppressive Islamic fundamentalist regimes coming to power in most cases than the governments currently in office.
It took a long time for Israeli government officials to realize that Islamic fundamentalism was and is the main factor in the Arab world’s rejection of a Jewish-run state in the heart of the mostly Muslim Middle East. They largely ignored the fact that the leader of the pan-Arab war against Israel in the 1950s and 60s, Egyptian strongman Gamal Nasser, frequently quoted from the Koran when spouting his anti-Israel diatribes despite the fact that he was backed by the atheist Soviet Union and not religiously observant himself. Nasser was simply bowing to the reality that most of his Arab listeners were mosque-going Muslims who had a visceral hatred for Israel based mainly on their faith. It was no coincidence that the previous leader of the Arab world’s attempt to prevent a Jewish state from being formed, Haj Amin Husseini, was also the Muslim clerical chief in the Holy Land.
In a similar fashion, it took a long time for American and European government officials to acknowledge that Muslim fundamentalist groups were serious when they contended that Islam must and would prevail over the West in the struggle for world domination. The same was true for most academics and media pundits. I was not surprised when several of my American journalist colleagues working in Israel, particularly Tom Friedman of the New York Times and Bob Simon of CBS, criticized me for focusing on the new Palestinian Hamas movement in my first book, Holy War for the Promised Land, published by Thomas Nelson in early 1991. They especially questioned my prediction that the new Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimin in Arabic) would eventually surpass the PLO as the main local opponent of Israel. As I have noted before, my forecast that Hamas would become a major player in the ongoing conflict was not due to some supernatural ability to foresee the future, but because I understood that a literal reading of the Koran and of the Islamic ‘oral tradition’, the Hadith—which I pointed out was a central tenet of the Hamas movement—was the bedrock basis of the pan-Arab rejection of a Jewish state in their midst.
I also came under strong criticism for publicly questioning the wisdom of sending US and other Western forces to Iraq in 2003. It seemed to me, as it did to many of my Israeli government and security contacts, that overthrowing Saddam Hussein—as justified as that action obviously was—would only produce a political vacuum that Shiite fundamentalist Iran would eventually fill. I argued that as evil as the Iraqi dictator was, he was nevertheless an angel compared to the nuclear bomb-seeking devils running Iran.
I also pointed to the questionable contention that ‘democracy’ would be better for the Iraqi people than autocracy, noting that fairly free elections in Algeria in 1991 had been hijacked by Islamic parties who openly vowed to ditch such elections after using them to rise to power. Mirroring this in 2006, Hamas cynically used Palestinian elections, which were part of the Oslo peace process that they fiercely opposed, to come to power. It is simply a fact that a majority of voters in most Arab countries are observant Muslims. This reality will always lead to the triumph of anti-Western forces in uncontrolled Arab elections, period. It is also behind the escalating exodus of Arab Christians from Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian-controlled territories and elsewhere in the turbulent region.
Today, we see a growing chorus of American and other western leaders calling for Hosni Mubarak to leave office right away. The likelihood that his quick removal will only lead to the ultimate ascension to power of the fiercely anti-American and anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood movement is largely ignored, or at least downplayed. Many acknowledge that the radical Islamic group is currently the only organized opposition political movement in Egypt. That being the case, the rush to dump Mubarak before other more secular parties can be functionally established is simply absurd, in my estimation. We are almost inviting the Caliphate-seeking Muslim Brothers to take over Egypt—a recipe that spells disaster for both Israel and the West.
Should the United States and other allies of Mubarak have pushed harder for real governmental reforms and more personal freedoms in Egypt? Without a doubt. However in their defense, most officials presumably understood that to do so in quick fashion was potentially opening a can of worms that would not in the end bring positive changes to the Egyptian people, but actually had the great potential to produce an even more oppressive, anti-Western regime, as may well be the ultimate outcome now.
We are told by the media that the marchers in Egypt have been acting spontaneously and are not organized by any one political party or force. Again, is it just a coincidence that the initial flood of anti-government demonstrators burst onto the streets on January 28 following Friday Muslim services held in mosques all over Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere? Yes, many of the protesters have been young, Facebook-using moderate Muslims, along with Western-leaning Coptic Christians and secular Egyptians, especially in the early days of the revolt. However, the vast majority today are clearly observant Muslims who despise Israel and resent the powerful USA based mainly on their faith. The same is true with most of the anti-government protestors in Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere.
Israeli official are also looking with increasing trepidation to the north of their country, where sworn enemies Iran and Syria have just succeeded in toppling the pro-Western Hariri government via their Hizbullah ally. This startling development has received very little media attention due to the crisis in Egypt. Is it not likely that this lack of attention is just as the evil regime ruling Iran wants it? The Iranians did not start the anti-Mubarak revolution, but they quickly jumped on board, and surely not with the goal of helping to promote Western-style democratic values in the Arab world’s largest country.
Will Egypt eventually break its peace treaty with Israel? I suspect that in the end, the American-funded and trained army will not allow this to take place. I noted in my latest book, Israel in Crisis, that Egypt is not listed in Psalm 83 as being among a host of regional Arab powers that will attempt to destroy Israel in the prophesied end days, while Jordan, Lebanon and Syria are mentioned, along with the Palestinians. While some are now saying that Egypt will participate in the Gog and Magog war prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, I disagree. If the prophet had intended to pinpoint Egypt it would have been named as such, being a very distinct and powerful nation in ancient times. The listing of “Ethiopia” instead implies a power to the south of Egypt, which is probably today’s Islamic fundamentalist stronghold of Sudan, located in part of the territory where ancient Ethiopia stood.
Whatever the case, we can expect Islamic fundamentalist groups around the world to carry on with their intensifying jihad to topple pro-Western governments, with the ultimate goal being the destruction of Israel and the takeover of European countries and the United States. With that in mind, Western government officials need to tread very carefully as they help bring change to Egypt and the wider Middle East. And of course, everyone needs our prayers, especially the Arab and Iranian Christian minorities who are caught in the middle of the dramas swirling around them.
You can read more about David and his work on his web site, ddolan.com. If you’d like to receive David’s monthly updates, featuring commentary like what you’ve read above, you can subscribe by going to http://www.ddolan.com/subscribe.asp.
One president freed the American people to drive their economy forward and make up for lost ground. The other has shackled them with more government and more debt. The generation that benefited from Reagan’s leadership is not leaving its children the same bequest.
Not to mention Reagan did it with a Democratic majority in Congress.
There were two glimpses of the old Obama — when he slammed “subsidies” for oil companies, which of course do not get any subsidies, but have business deductions the way every other business does, he sounded every bit like the envious skinny Harvard man he once was. When he railed against tax breaks that he considered identical to government spending, that was outright socialism. That concept implies that all the income in the nation belongs to the state, and that if we let working people keep any of it, that is the same as a government expenditure. The opposite is true. The income belongs to the people, and they allow government to have some of it. But, of course, the servant has become the master now.
(Emphasis added. —R)
“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” —James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792
Michael C. Burgess, the Congressional representative for our little sliver of Texas, has responded to the letter I sent him a week and a half ago expressing my displeasure with the TSA’s new imaging and
groping “enhanced” pat-down policies. His response is below, in its entirety. I have added emphasis in the fourth paragraph not present in the original.
Dear Mr. Turner:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern regarding the security policies of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
As you are aware, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently purchased full body scanners that show the outline of the naked human body and allow TSA to detect high-density bomb-making materials. In response to a large number of complaints from both travelers and employees in the airline industry, DHS instituted a new policy that allows travelers to “opt out” of the digital image scanning. This “opt out” procedure allows for the traveler to step aside and receive a full-body pat-down to check for hidden substances or items on the persons. As a result, TSA and DHS implemented a new “pat-down” procedure that serves as an alternative procedure for those travelers who wish to refuse the full-body scan.
Over the past few weeks, I have received hundreds of phone calls from concerned constituents, and seen news reports of people who are outraged by TSA’s invasive full-body scans and “pat-down” procedures that are now used in the name of national security. After recently flying myself and witnessing how invasive these procedures are, as well as the potential for abuse, I am outraged that TSA chose to implement the new rules without consulting with Congress. TSA is charged with protecting our airplanes from the kind of terrorism we saw in the terror attacks on 9/11, but this should not result in an abuse of power and the exploitation of Americans.
Further disconcerting is the fact that Congress voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. H.R. 2200, the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act, contained an amendment to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. House Amendment 172 passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 310 to 118, but TSA has ignored this, and plans to deploy over 1,000 machines in use at airports across the country by the end of next year. Although this legislation is awaiting further action in the Senate, the sense of Congress is clear – these invasive methods are not the best use of TSA resources.
In light of our serious concerns regarding the agency’s use of invasive tactics, I joined several of my colleagues in Congress to request that the House Homeland Security Committee conduct a hearing on the new TSA procedures.
It is unfortunate terrorism from abroad has brought us to this point. Rest assured, I am committed to securing our nations’ airlines and preventing another terrorist attack, as well as to protecting your Constitutional rights. Representing an area with several major airports, I have tried to help protect, control, and monitor changes made for better security, without infringing on the very freedoms for which we are fighting. I will continue to support legislation that will strengthen our borders, protect our ports, and help prepare the nation in case of a terror attack.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website (www.house.gov/burgess) or contact me with any future concerns.
Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress
Below is the letter I sent to our Congressional representative, Michael C. Burgess. I totally ripped it off from my friend Tom, tweaking it slightly. You are welcome to copy either of ours if you feel similarly about the TSA’s new search policies.
To The Honorable Michael C. Burgess
As Congress comes back into session, I encourage you to use your position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to change the policy enacted concerning the Transportation Safety Administration’s use of millimeter wave technology in the screening of passengers. These devices represent an unnecessary invasion of privacy as part of security procedures, and aren’t making anyone safer.
While I appreciate the need to try to make airports more secure, these scanners show images of a patron’s naked body to the TSA in order to do it. Worse, if you decide to opt out of the scanners for personal privacy reasons, or for concern over radiation exposure, you’re subject to a very intimate patdown that allows the TSA to touch the genital regions of a patron, out of nothing short of retaliation.
This is patently unacceptable. The choices you have to make if you take your family traveling is that you can have their genitals leered at by TSA officers (one such example of bad behavior includes a pilot’s 18 year old daughter: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html ) or you can have them fondled. Or you can refuse both, and, even if volunteering to go through the normal metal detector, be escorted from the airport: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html.
Which would you choose?
The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, which you have sworn to uphold and defend against powers foreign and domestic, says that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
A boarding pass is not probable cause to have my person searched in such a fashion.
This is a bridge too far. A functioning travel network is crucial to a free society, and to have to show one’s genitals to the TSA, or allow them to be groped, in order to travel is the sort of unnecessary restriction on one’s liberty, and in exchange for no increase in security (these devices, and these patdowns, do not show hidden packages that could be contained in body cavities, which is the next logical step in the progression of the terrorists) and only serve to inconvenience the travelers.
Please enact legislation to stop the retaliatory patdowns and remove these intrusions into our personal privacy.
“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” —American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)
It was JFK who signed an executive order giving public sector unions the right to collective bargaining. We need a president with the guts to revoke that order. Unions – a necessary evil in private life – are just an evil evil in the public sector. Nothing necessary about them at all.
It’s not as bad as it could’ve been. That, as the Labor Day weekend began, was the cold comfort that many in the media took from the still-dismal August jobs report. Can’t we expect something a little better?
True enough, 68,000 new private-sector jobs were created last month, showing that private businesses, though gasping for breath, aren’t dead yet.
But overall, 54,000 jobs disappeared, raising the toll during the “Recovery Summer” Vice President Joe Biden ridiculously hailed two months ago to 238,000. Nor was the uptick in the unemployment rate to 9.6% from 9.5% what you expect in a “recovery.”
This is not “better than expected”; it’s worse than expected. This can be gauged not by market expectations for modest job creation, but by long-term experience watching how jobs are created in a normal recovery. By that gauge, we’re in the worst jobs slump since World War II.
If it wasn’t clear to everyone by now, it should be: All the actions this government has taken — the $700 billion TARP program, the $862 billion “stimulus,” the health care takeover, financial reform — haven’t “saved or created” 3.8 million jobs, as claimed. Instead, they’ve destroyed millions of jobs — and with them, the hopes and dreams of those who’ve lost the jobs.
But the administration remains clueless, hinting that it may seek another “stimulus” costing billions. This bunch is either willfully doing damage to the U.S. economy, or completely incompetent.
[Emphasis added. —R]
The Siena College presidential poll–a ranking of 44 presidents by 200 historians–put Franklin Roosevelt in first place. In other words, the man who, during his first two terms, gave us nonstop double digit unemployment–and 20 percent unemployment toward the end of his second term, is ranked ahead of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and all other American presidents.
And that may not be the worst indiscretion. These historians also ranked Barack Obama ahead of Ronald Reagan. In other words, if you start your presidency with 8 percent unemployment and run it to 10 percent (all the while going further in debt by more than $1,000,000,000,000) you are greater than the president who sharply reduced unemployment and inflation during his first term and then ended the Cold War in his second term.
Some people are dismayed by our historians’ peculiar judging standards. And it’s true that such wildly indefensible rankings are outrageous. But they help inform us that most historians can’t be trusted to make sound judgments about the past. That is useful to know, as parents prepare their 18 year olds to go off to college and be tutored by FDR loyalists.
[L]iberals are raving about Kagan’s “skill at building a consensus … reaching out and building coalitions” — as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said last week.
It’s as if they’re talking about a governing majority in the Senate. Next thing you know, liberals will be complaining about a “do nothing” Supreme Court.
On MSNBC’s “Hardball” back in May, Sen. Klobuchar said: “We want to get some things done on this court.”
Get some things done? […]
The Supreme Court is not supposed to be “getting things done.” Durbin’s and Klobuchar’s statements reveal a massive misunderstanding of the role of the court.
Congress, as the people’s elected representatives, is supposed to “get things done.” If they don’t, that usually means the people don’t want those things done. It’s not the court’s job to say: “Hey, Congress, you forgot to enact this! Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.”
You don’t have to like her, but she’s got a point.
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” —John Adams, Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law, 1765
Once a nation under a Constitution that restricted government intrusion, we now want government to provide for our “needs” by calling them “rights.”
We now ask government to prop up failing businesses, make student loans, guarantee mortgages, build and maintain public housing, financially support state education from preschool though graduate school, fund private research, provide disaster relief and aid, pay “volunteers” and on and on.
Many in our nation happily submit to this bargain. They consider the Big Three entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — “rights,” their absence unimaginable in a modern “caring” society. It is out of the question to expect people, families and communities to plan for retirement. It is beyond reason to expect medical care, like any other commodity, to follow the laws of supply and demand — for prices and choices to allocate resources and for competition to drive down prices and improve quality. It is simply too much to expect the compassion, morality and spirituality of humankind to aid those unable to care for themselves.
“If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws - the first growing out of the last. … A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital principle, the sustaining energy of a free government.” —Alexander Hamilton, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser, 1794
“In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” —Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798
And about the Na’Vi. Like most fifth graders, Cameron endows them with a nobility and honor that he thinks the Native Americans possessed. Fine, whatever. What is important is that he presents an “idealized” society. A society based on respect for the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. In one scene, Neytiri kills some freaky Doberman looking thing and then cries about it later. She had to kill it because it was attacking Jake. To save one life, that she deemed more important, she took another.
The entire Na’Vi society is based on a code of honor and achievement. The members must “prove” themselves to the tribe by accomplishing things like riding dragons. When Jake tames the big mofo dragon, a great accomplishment, he is rewarded by being made the leader of the tribe despite the fact that Tsu’tey was next in line to be chief.
Cameron’s idealized society is one based on individual achievement. When individuals take great risks, they are often rewarded over people who have seniority. Fairness is determined by accomplishments, not by rules. There are winners and there are losers amongst the Na’Vi and they manage to be a happy society. Oh, and when they are forced, they kill to protect themselves and their loved ones, an action that they don’t take lightly. They have honor and nobility. They have strong traditions.
Sounds good to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like the conservative view of what America stands for. I’m in. Hey, Cameron, beers at my house, I TiVo’ed Glenn Beck for you.
This has been sitting in my NetNewsWire sidebar for two and a half years. So better late than never, I suppose.
The best inoculation, I think, to a wrong perception that Christianity is equivalent to conservatism is the mercy work of many good churches. For every politico a non-Christian sees claiming the Christian label, we want him to see a hundred Christians in his community, quietly, humbly doing the work of our Father. The more we can accomplish that, the harder it will be for people to identify Christianity with whatever happens to be popular among politicians who claim to act on Christ’s behalf. “You will know them,” Christ said of the good and the bad, “by their fruits.” My prayer, in the current political season and the decades to follow, is that more non-Christians will come to know us in that way, by lifechanging encounters with loving Christians.
Does our Constitution allow the Executive and Legislative branches to collaborate to confer authority upon the federal government over, in this case, so-called “health care reform”?
Those who laid the Foundation of our Constitution were crystal clear about its enumeration of both the authority and limits upon the central government.
James Madison, our Constitution’s primary author, wrote, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation and foreign commerce.”
Madison continued, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”
To that point, Thomas Jefferson asserted: “[G]iving [Congress] a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. It would reduce the whole [Constitution] to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please. Certainly, no such universal power was meant to be given them. [The Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect.”
Clearly, our Constitution, does not authorize Congress to nationalize health care, anymore than it authorizes Congress to do most of what it does today.
[Bold emphasis added. —R]
The laws of war are the rule of law. They are not a suspension of the Constitution. They are the Constitution operating in wartime. The Framers understood that there would be wars against enemies of the United States—it is stated explicitly in the Constitution’s treason clause (Art. III, Sec. 3). The American people understand that we have enemies, even if Washington sees them as political “engagement” partners waiting to happen. Americans also grasp that war is a political and military challenge that the nation has to win, not a judicial proceeding in which your enemies are presumed innocent. The rule of law is not and has never been the rule of lawyers—especially lawyers we can’t vote out of office when they say we must let trained terrorists move in next door.
As for privacy, Americans are not as self-absorbed as ACLU staffers—who, by the way, reserve the right to search your bags before you enter their offices. If you fret about privacy, it’s Obamacare that ought to give you sleepless nights. The lefties who’ve told us for nearly 40 years since Roe v. Wade that the government can’t come between you and your doctor are now saying you shouldn’t be able to get to a doctor except through the government, which will decide if you’re worth treating—that is an invasion of privacy. Penetrating enemy communications, on the other hand, is what Americans think of as self-defense. It’s what we’ve done in every war in our history. It’s what common sense says we must do to win. And when America goes to war, Americans want to win.
And our reputation in the international community? Reputation with whom? Sharia states where they stone adulterers, brutalize homosexuals, and kill their own daughters in the name of honor? Rogue regimes where exhibitions of American weakness are taken as license to mutilate? Euro-nannies who rely on us for protection because they’re without the will and the resources to do the job themselves? They ought to worry about their own reputations. In the United States, only the blame-America-first crowd gives an Obama-dollar what they think. That crowd does not include about 80 percent of Americans who look around at their country, look at the teeming masses trying to get into it, and figure this is a pretty good place after all.
Dennis Kneale, CNBC Media & Technology Editor:
In so doing, the President has shed his usual, becalmed visage of judicious intelligence and what-me-worry confidence. In its place is an unpleasant portrait of a sulking, vengeful politician lashing out at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and their brethren on Wall Street—the only target that, his polls say, might resonate with the voters who are forsaking him.
The Obama folks “don’t accept that banks perform a necessary function in the system: to get the economy going again,” says one senior executive at a Wall Street giant. “This business has a social benefit, and it’s how we make money. The two are not exclusive.”
Yet the White House is deaf to complaints that burdensome new rules would hurt bank profits and hamper the recovery. “When you tell them that reduces our profits, they just don’t care,” this exec complains.
That’s the big problem: All of us, especially the Obama Posse, should care a lot about profits at the banks. Healthy banks provide the fuel for a healthy economy. They line up hundreds of billions of dollars a year in syndicated loans for businesses and directly loan out hundreds of billions more.
Obama’s new proposal to ban banks from trading for their own accounts cracks down on a practice that contributed, in no way whatsoever, to the housing bubble and the tumultuous tumble that followed. A recent Goldman Sachs report shows that, simply put, faulty and loose bank lending practices caused 98 percent of all losses, not the banks’ proprietary trading.
Emphasis in bold added by yours truly. This is class warfare on the part of the Obama administration, plain and simple.
“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” —Samuel Adams
“[A] rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive.” —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, 1823
“The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning knife.” —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, 1821
“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, — who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.” —George Mason, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 1788
The idea that anti-Americanism exists or increased just because of Bush springs from an immature, self-centered view of the universe and international politics. We saw this in the weeks after 9/11 from the “Why do they hate us” crowd that attempted to blame the victim for the terrorism. It’s safer to think that we control everything in the world, and that therefore we have the power to change anything in the world. That’s nothing more than a fairy tale, and a dangerous one when taken seriously.
Robert Tracinski, RealClearPolitics:
When you understand what this bill does, you can see why the Democrats would be happy to compromise and drop the public option-for now. This bill so comprehensively wrecks private health insurance that pretty soon a “public option” will seem like the only alternative, and they will already have put into place one of the new taxes needed to pay for it. If the left’s goal is to impose socialized medicine in America, this bill does it in the most callous and destructive way possible. It smashes private health care-then leaves us stranded in the rubble, at which point we will be expected to come crawling back to the same people who caused the disaster and ask them to save us.
That is the final and perhaps most compelling reason to kill this bill: the sheer arrogance of the whole enterprise. It is the arrogance of stampeding an unwilling public toward a monstrous 2,000-page piece of legislation while admitting that it still has huge problems, but promising that it will all somehow be fixed later on. It’s the arrogance of selling us a bill that expands government spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while telling us that it will reduce the deficit. It is the sheer unmitigated gall of appointing a bureaucrat to run a government-controlled insurance market that takes away all of our health choices-and then calling this bureaucrat the Health Choices Commissioner.
That’s the kind of government arrogance that has to be smacked down hard, and that alone is reason to demand that your senator reject this vicious bill in its entirety.
“[A] wise and frugal government … shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” —Thomas Jefferson
Our armed forces have become exquisitely sensitive—toward Nidal Malik Hasan and Ahmed Hashim Abed, and one wonders who else. Such sensitivity comes at a price, of course. But for now, at least, that price won’t be paid by those who set the policy.
The SEALs would’ve been better off if they’d just shot the guy dead.
Eric Holder’s move to try the 9/11 masterminds in Manhattan makes it official: This administration has reverted to pre-9/11 “crime” fighting.
Amid all the talk during the attorney general’s surreal press conference of the “crime” committed eight years ago, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon wasn’t even mentioned.
Lest anyone forget, the military headquarters of the United States was attacked that day along with the Twin Towers.
An entire wedge of the Ring was gutted when the Saudi hijackers slammed American Airlines Flight 77 into it. Nearly 200 military personnel were killed, along with the passengers and crew of the hijacked jet.
The jet was a weapon used to attack the very center of our military. That was not a “crime,” as some say. It was an act of war.
And 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with the four other al-Qaida terrorist co-conspirators Holder wants to try, are no mere criminals. They are enemy combatants — and should be treated as such.
Holder clucked that the “trials will be open to the public and the world.” And they will turn into circuses, playing right into the hands of the enemy.
These trials will drag on for years, perhaps even decades, as defense lawyers file endless motions and appeals. Meanwhile, valuable intelligence about interrogation techniques and other methods we’ve used against al-Qaida will be revealed to the enemy during trial discovery.
This move to a civilian court makes no sense at all, except viewed through a political prism.
November 1989 was the most liberating month of arguably the most liberating year in human history, yet two decades later the country that led the Cold War coalition against communism seems less interested than ever in commemorating, let alone processing the lessons from, the collapse of its longtime foe. At a time that fairly cries out for historical perspective about the follies of central planning, Americans are ignoring the fundamental conflict of the postwar world, and instead leapfrogging back to what Steve Forbes describes in this issue as the “Jurassic Park statism” of the 1930s.
The consensus Year of Revolution for most of our lifetimes has been 1968, with its political assassinations, its Parisian protests, and a youth-culture rebellion that the baby boomers will never tire of telling us about. But as the preeminent modern Central European historian Timothy Garton Ash wrote in a 2008 essay, 1989 “ended communism in Europe, the Soviet empire, the division of Germany, and an ideological and geopolitical struggle…that had shaped world politics for half a century. It was, in its geopolitical results, as big as 1945 or 1914. By comparison, ‘68 was a molehill.”
There is no more reliable rule than the 95 percent rule: 95 percent of what you read about economics and finance is either wrong or irrelevant.
[T]he most repeated statement about the cause of the U.S. Great Depression is that it was caused by the October 1929 stock market crash. How could that be? By April 1930, the stock market had recovered to its pre-crash level. What is not taught in history books is the Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure. The most important part of that failure were the actions by the Federal Reserve Bank that led to the contraction of the money supply by 25 percent. Then, in the name of saving jobs, Congress enacted the Smoot-Hawley Act in June 1930, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Other nations retaliated and world trade collapsed. U.S. unemployment rose from 8 percent in 1930 to 25 percent in 1933. In 1932, the Herbert Hoover administration and a Democratic Congress imposed the largest tax increase in U.S. history, raising the top tax rate on income from 25 percent to 63 percent. The Roosevelt administration followed these destructive policies with New Deal legislation that massively regulated the economy and extended the Great Depression to after World War II.
Have today’s politicians and their economic advisers learned anything from yesteryear’s policy that turned what would have been a short, sharp downturn in the economy into a 16-year affair? The answer is very little.
Not only does the liberal paradigm not even come close to agreeing with the social and economic reality on the ground today, worse, it has largely congealed into a political religion, especially in the nearly 30 years since Ronald Reagan shifted the nation’s political center of gravity, just as FDR had done 48 years earlier. Since liberals care about the sheep, all who disagree with liberalism must not, making them morally inferior if not downright immoral. Thus the nastiness in American politics is largely on the left. Whatever you think of Sarah Palin, her treatment in the liberal press was ugliness personified.
“[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes — rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments.” —Alexander Hamilton
It seems to me that if you’re going to be in the business of making disastrously bad, ridicule-inviting choices, you need to select people with a long track record of feckless, reckless, irrelevant, crowd-pleasing stupidity on an international scale. People like Jimmy Carter, in other words.
Seriously, couldn’t the committee find a murderous thug who, seeing that his bread might be buttered on the side of temporary peace, recently signed some meaningless treaty? And if they wanted an American, couldn’t they find someone with a solid history of lecturing his countrymen about our moral failings?
What’s missing this year, in other words, is outrage. There’s just nothing to be incensed about. Obama certainly shows plenty of promise of becoming Carteresque, what with looming inflation and a seeming inability to make decisions about the military, but he needs time to stumble into that role. Giving him the award now just makes everyone go “Huh?” And I think what the committee is really looking for is “Ack!”
Beyond principle, there are practical reasons to expand Congress. For decades, presidential candidates have promised to change the “way Washington works.” But once elected, they’re soon captured by their own congressional parties, which are in turn beholden to the “old bulls” and constituencies rooted in interests outside their districts.
A Congress of, say, 5,000 citizen-legislators would change that overnight. Would it cost more money? Yes. But today’s huge staffs could be cut, and perks and pork might even be curtailed by using the old chewing gum rule: If there’s not enough for everyone, nobody can have any.
Term-limit activists have the right idea — getting new blood in Washington — but their remedy is anti-democratic. The trick is to swamp Congress with new blood and new ideas. Want more minorities in Congress? Done. Want more libertarians? More socialists? More blue-collar workers? Done, done, done.
In free-speech debates, it’s often said that the cure for bad speech is more speech. Well, the cure for a calcified Congress just might be more members; the remedy for an undemocratic system, more democracy.
It’s certainly interesting to think about. Be sure to read the whole thing. The representation of Montana versus Rhode Island should immediately show you something’s wrong.
“[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.” —George Washington, letter to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, 1795
“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.” —John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1756
“We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience.” —Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the state of Virginia, 1782
“The house of representatives … can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny.” —Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788
[Emphasis added. —R]
Keep this in mind during the ongoing “health care reform” debate. Congress already has its own health care and retirement programs, not at all tied to Social Security, et al.
Here is a handy-dandy way to determine whether the failure to order some exam or treatment constitutes rationing: If the patient were the president, would he get it? If he’d get it and you wouldn’t, it’s rationing.
[Wave of the phin to Instapundit.]
I’d like to take a look at the evidence for global warming resulting from increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere: The argument is that more infrared radiation released by the Earth is captured given the higher concentration of CO2 in the air, thereby warming the planet. However, if you’re looking for scientifically rigorous experiments linking CO2 to increased temperatures, I have bad news for you: It doesnt exist.
Can any model accurately capture the complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere? There are certainly many sophisticated ones out there. Happily, most of them use actual physical experiments to verify their underlying assumptions. However, until the “Flux Capacitor” from Back to the Future gets built, any climate model will need decades to verify its assumptions using real data.
Climate simply refers to one day of weather after another. Global-warming true believers, let me ask you the following question: Do you view weather forecast projections for 2 weeks from today with the same certainty that you do a computer model that purports to predict the weather 100 years from now? If not, why not? After all, they’re both based on computer models.
If your neighbor told you he were getting a tent for his daughter’s wedding reception 2 weeks from now, and you told him not to bother, because a computer model predicted sunny weather, do you think he’d take you seriously?
Here’s some science that no one with a vested political or financial interest in climate change would want you to know: The warmest year since 1934 was 1998, at the height of the strongest El Nino on record. The gold standard for CO2 measurement is taken at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In 1998, the observatory recorded 366 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere; it steadily rose to 386 ppm in 2008. In the meantime, the earth has cooled.
The observed temperature data don’t match what the model predicts. In physics (my field), we’d look at both the experiment and the data to see whether there was something wrong with the experiment’s design, or whether the data were right and the theory wrong. Either way, we’d step back and reevaluate everything.
What we certainly wouldn’t do is cram 300 pages of amendments through Congress at 3:00 a.m. and force a vote the next day.
“Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens.” —James Madison (likely), Federalist No. 62
When Ronald Reagan took office, America’s top income tax rate was 70 percent; when he left, it was 28 percent. Reagan’s tax cuts were permanent (well, that is, until his successor George Bush broke a campaign pledge). And President Reagan pushed his tax cuts through a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
When George W. Bush took office, the top income tax rate was 39.6 percent; when he left, it was 35 percent. This small tax cut expires next year. And at the time he was promoting his tax cut, President Bush enjoyed a Republican-controlled House (which he continued to do until the Republican betrayal of conservative principles finally bit them in 2006).
Which man should we seek to learn from, to emulate? The one who pushed significant, permanent tax reform through a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives—and ushered in an era of robust economic growth? Or the one who settled for small, temporary tax reform, with a Republican House—and ushered in an era of robust government growth?
Jennifer Rubin, in Commentary:
[I]t suggests that Obama is in his own make-believe world in which dialogue, “respect,” and smart diplomacy are met with goodwill, reciprocal gestures and acts of loving kindness. It suggests that the president has constructed an approach to foreign policy that is divorced from reality. Well, what to do about this?
Perhaps we should try something else. […] Maybe it’s time to reverse decisions to curtail missile defense programs. In other words, respond to the world as we are experiencing it rather than pursuing a fruitless policy of talk, talk, talk with people who don’t want to listen.
In its boundless ambition, the Left understands that the character of a people can be transformed: British, Canadian and European elections are now about which party can deliver “better services,” as if the nation is a hotel, and the government could use some spritelier bellhops. Socialized health care in particular changes the nature of the relationship between citizen and state into something closer to junkie and pusher. On one of the many Obama Web sites the national impresario feels the need to maintain — “Foundation for Change” — the president is certainly laying the foundation for something. Among the many subjects expressing their gratitude to Good King Barack the Hopeychanger is “Phil from Cathedral City, Ca.”:
“I was laid off in mid-January from a job I had for 12 years. It’s really getting hard to make ends meet, but this month I got some great news. This week I received in the mail official notification that my COBRA monthly payments for medical, dental and vision insurance will decrease from $468 to only $163, all due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This is a $305 in savings a month!
“I can’t tell you how much of a weight off my shoulders this is. I am living proof of how the president’s bold initiatives are beginning to work!”
But just exactly how do these “bold initiatives” work? Well, hey, simple folk like you and I and Phil from Cathedral City don’t need to worry about the details. Once these “bold initiatives” really hit their stride maybe the cost of everything over four hundred bucks can be brought down to $163. Wouldn’t that be great?
The problem in the Western world is that governments are spending money faster than their citizenry or economies can generate it. As Gerald Ford liked to say, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” And that’s true. But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give Phil from Cathedral City everything he wants isn’t big enough to get Phil to give any of it back. That’s the stage the Europeans are at: Their electorates are hooked on unsustainable levels of “services,” but no longer can conceive of life without them.
“Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands.”
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, 1784
“An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”
—John Marshall, McCullough v. Maryland, 1819
“The collection of taxes which are not absolutely required, which do not beyond reasonable doubt contribute to the public welfare, is only a species of legalized larceny. The wise and correct course to follow in taxation is not to destroy those who have already secured success, but to create conditions under which everyone will have a better chance to be successful.” —President Calvin Coolidge (1873-1933)
Maybe I’m overly cynical, but trusting a politician’s conscience seems a bit like trusting a prostitute’s sense of propriety.
“It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government.”
—Mercy Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805
John Farnam, “Huh?”
Who are these people?
The VCA who murdered four police officers in Oakland, CA last Saturday had been incarcerated since 2002, but had been recently released on parole.
The sentencing report in the 2002 case that put him in prison described this VCA as a “…cold-hearted individual, who has no regard for human life,” and went on to insist that his permanently residing in prison was the “only way to rein-in this man’s proclivity for violence.”
Now there’s a real recommendation for parole!
That report was surely available to the Parole Board who let him out.
Perhaps, between shrieking for the end to the private ownership of guns in America and the need for higher taxes, the media might find the time to ask why such remorseless, violent, unstable sociopaths are paroled in CA!
[“VCA” = Violent Criminal Actor/Attacker. —R]
“[C]ommercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic. …[I]f industry and labour are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out.”
—James Madison, speech to Congress, 9 April 1789
It never fails to amaze me how prescient the Founders were.
“The economic ills we suffer … will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we, as Americans, have the capacity now, as we have had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom. In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
“Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed. It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.”
—Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address, 1981
[Emphasis in second paragraph added. —R]
“What [Obama calls] tax reductions in this bill are really transfer payments, particularly redistribution of income from the rich to the poor. The economy did very well [after the Bush] tax cuts of 2003. Obama has blamed [the Bush tax cuts] for part of the current financial collapse. There’s really no linkage between the tax cuts of 2003 and the financial and housing collapse we’ve seen in recent months. Abolishing the corporate income tax at the federal level I think would be very positive. It’s a very poor form of taxation. I would make permanent the kinds of changes that were in the 2003 tax reform, including the marginal tax rate structure.” —Harvard Economist Robert Barro on Obama’s “terrible piece of legislation”
[Emphasis added. —R]
I found myself reaching an inescapable conclusion. Low wages are not a Wal-Mart problem. They are an industry-wide problem, afflicting all unskilled entry-level jobs, and the reason should be obvious.
In our free-enterprise system, employees are valued largely in terms of what they can do. This is why teenagers fresh out of high school often go to vocational training institutes to become auto mechanics or electricians. They understand a basic principle that seems to elude social commentators, politicians and union organizers. If you want better pay, you need to learn skills that are in demand.
The blunt tools of legislation or union power can force a corporation to pay higher wages, but if employees don’t create an equal amount of additional value, there’s no net gain. All other factors remaining equal, the store will have to charge higher prices for its merchandise, and its competitive position will suffer.
This is Economics 101, but no one wants to believe it, because it tells us that a legislative or unionized quick-fix is not going to work in the long term. If you want people to be wealthier, they have to create additional wealth.
To my mind, the real scandal is not that a large corporation doesn’t pay people more. The scandal is that so many people have so little economic value. Despite (or because of) a free public school system, millions of teenagers enter the work force without marketable skills. So why would anyone expect them to be well paid?
You have to wonder, then, why the store has such a terrible reputation, and I have to tell you that so far as I can determine, trade unions have done most of the mudslinging. Web sites that serve as a source for negative stories are often affiliated with unions. Walmartwatch.com, for instance, is partnered with the Service Employees International Union; Wakeupwalmart.com is entirely owned by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. For years, now, they’ve campaigned against Wal-Mart, for reasons that may have more to do with money than compassion for the working poor. If more than one million Wal-Mart employees in the United States could be induced to join a union, by my calculation they’d be compelled to pay more than half-billion dollars each year in dues.
Anti-growth activists are the other primary source of anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. In the town where I worked, I was told that activists even opposed a new Barnes & Noble because it was “too big.” If they’re offended by a large bookstore, you can imagine how they feel about a discount retailer.
The argument, of course, is that smaller enterprises cannot compete. My outlook on this is hardcore: I think that many of the “mom-and-pop” stores so beloved by activists don’t deserve to remain in business.
When I first ventured from New York City to the American heartland, I did my best to patronize quaint little places on Main Street and quickly discovered the penalties for doing so. At a small appliance store, I wasn’t allowed to buy a microwave oven on display. I had to place an order and wait a couple of weeks for delivery. At a stationery store where I tried to buy a file cabinet, I found the same problem. Think back, if you are old enough to do so, and you may recall that this is how small-town retailing used to function in the 1960s.
SUPPORTERS OF ABORTION RIGHTS bristle at the term “partial-birth abortion,” and sympathetic journalists often make a point of setting it off with scare quotes or injecting a phrase meant to dilute the term’s grisly legitimacy — for example, “a controversial procedure that critics call ‘partial-birth abortion’” (as the Los Angeles Times has put it), or “a ban on so-called ‘partial-birth’ abortion” (to quote Reuters).
But what happens to such fastidiousness when it comes to terms coined by liberals? Terms like “Fairness Doctrine” — an Orwellian label for government stifling of untrammeled political speech over the airwaves. Or like “Employee Free Choice Act,” a benign title for legislation that would deny employees the right to a secret ballot in workplace elections. Strange, isn’t it, how the concern with terminological exactitude kicks in at the appearance of a freighted expression from the right, yet fades into the mist when the language comes from the left?
“This is the issue: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them for ourselves. … Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.” —Ronald Reagan, 1980
“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
—Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book, 1774-1776
“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” —Thomas Jefferson
“Many Americans would be surprised to learn that the word ‘democracy’ does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, or the U.S. Constitution. Nor does it appear in any of the constitutions of the fifty states. The Founders did everything they could to keep us from having a democracy.”
Democracy = mob rules. Republic = rule of law. Keep this in mind when American politicians—of any stripe—talk about the “will of the people”.
This is worth ten minutes of your time if you’ve forgotten—or never got—this lesson in civics class.
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.” —Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833
Obama’s busy expanding all of the rest of the government except for its primary, Constitutional mission: defending the nation.
With several friends serving our country in the armed forces, I can only pray they continue to have jobs until they are ready to leave the service.
IN NOMINATING John Holdren to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy — the position known informally as White House science adviser — President-elect Barack Obama has enlisted an undisputed Big Name among academic environmentalists, one “with a resume longer than your arm,” as Newsweek’s Sharon Begley exulted when the announcement was made. Holdren is a physicist, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard, a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the director of the Woods Hole Research Center, and the author or co-author of many papers and books.
He is also a doom-and-gloomer with a trail of erroneous apocalyptic forecasts dating back nearly 40 years — and a decided lack of tolerance for environmental opinions that conflict with his.
The position of science adviser requires Senate confirmation. Holdren’s nomination is likely to sail through, but conscientious senators might wish to ask him some questions. Here are eight:
From The Patriot Post, Friday Digest, Vol. 09 No. 02:
In alarming conjunction with recent headlines reporting that the global influence of the United States has slipped dramatically due to the dereliction of government regulators largely responsible for triggering the current recession, the 15th annual Index of Economic Freedom published jointly by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation reveals the U.S. saw a corresponding slip in its rankings to sixth place. Hong Kong is tops again, followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand to round out the top five.
Evaluating numerous criteria relating to economic freedom, the study again shows an affirmative correlation between economic freedom and national income. Freer countries enjoy per capita incomes more than 10 times higher than those in “repressed” countries occupying the bottom of the rankings. In a chilling highlight, it was repressed nations that turned to deficit spending, government seizure of land and resources, and government support of favored enterprises, eventually devastating their economies even further with government mismanagement. Not to suggest that our government’s current bailout debacle bears a striking resemblance to government mismanagement that landed many of the repressed countries at the bottom of the rankings, but as Founding Father John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.”
It’s pretty bad when politically repressive places such as Hong Kong and Singapore are ranking higher on the list than the oldest surviving constitutional republic in the world.
Stephen Moore, ‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years:
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises — that in most cases they themselves created — by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs…and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as “the looters and their laws.” Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the “Anti-Greed Act” to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel’s promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the “Equalization of Opportunity Act” to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the “Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act,” aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn’t Hank Paulson think of that?
These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act” and the “Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act.” Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.” This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion — in roughly his first 100 days in office.
The current economic strategy is right out of “Atlas Shrugged”: The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That’s the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies — while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to “calm the markets,” another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as “Atlas” grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate “windfalls.”
This. Must. STOP.
[Registration may be necessary to read complete article on WSJ.com.]
[Wave of the phin to Stephen for the link, via IM.]
Those other issues certainly affect a country’s safety, prosperity, and greatness. But I’ve come to believe that a nation that tolerates destruction of innocents deserves neither safety nor prosperity nor greatness. We’ve descended into barbarism, and it poisons how we treat the elderly, the incapacitated, even ourselves. We shouldn’t be surprised, having made life a utilitarian calculation, that more and more humans become inconvenient.
It’s certainly true that there are other issues that ought to concern Christians, like the sanctity of marriage, and how we treat the mentally ill, the elderly, and children who have been born. But abortion is, in my view, the touchstone. Get this one wrong and your moral compass can guide you in nothing else.
Tony Woodlief, with words I need to take heed of:
Cast aside what you think you know is right, the church marquee urges, and consider the God-breathed Word. Give yourself over to it and these seemingly large things—tax rates, economic growth, wars, and rumors of wars—will diminish. Meanwhile, those seemingly small things—the anger in our hearts when we, say, confront someone whose ideology we dislike or the fact that we find it so much easier to spend time with those we like rather than those who need us—will become grievous to our spirits.
This is the Word that cuts through every heart, through the very heart of darkness, illuminating the world as it is and will be. Beside it every politician ever born is remarkably inconsequential. Our business on Election Day is brief, and regardless of who wins our work remains the same—seeking and serving the lost, losing our own lives in the doing, and clinging to the Cross that shatters nations, tribes, and creeds.
Barack Obama, Dreams From My Father:
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists.
In search of some inspiration, I went to hear Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael of Black Panther fame, speak at Columbia.
These are not the words of a politically conservative op-ed columnist. These are not words from a press release from the McCain camp. These are Barack Obama’s own indicting words, revealing his choice in how he was influenced during his college years.
“Everyone experiments in college, Phisch,” I can hear someone say. “Sex, religions, philosophies, politics. It’s all about figuring out who you are, what you believe.”
And what Barack Obama figured out is that he is a hard-line leftist. A socialist. Perhaps even a total Marxist. National Journal has ranked Senator Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, and it is hardly a right-wing publication. Linda Douglass used to write for National Journal; now she’s Obama’s traveling press secretary.
He chose his friends carefully. William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Jeremiah Wright. Hardly people in touch with mainstream America. With mainstream American politics. These people are not moderates. They are not even slightly left of center. These are people who are either hardcore Marxists, or, in the case of Wright, subscribe to a theology heavily influenced by Marxism.
These are the people Obama chose to be his friends. To be mentored by. To be influenced by. To be helped by.
If you are still undecided in this election, if you still think that Senator Obama is just another moderate Democrat with a message of hope and change, think again. His own words show him to be what he really is. What do you think “spreading the wealth around” really means?
Government doesn’t have “wealth” to spread around. Government only has what funds it gains from its citizens by means of taxation. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers in this country only pay 3% of the taxes. Three percent.
So when Obama and others talk about “spreading the wealth around”, they are talking about taking money from the 50 percent of us paying the 97% of taxes, and giving it, somehow, to the other 50 percent. That is not democracy. That is not free-market capitalism. That is outright Marxism, and Marxism has not worked anywhere it’s been tried. Why do we believe we can make it work here? Because the right people haven’t been in power to implement it yet?
Obama’s acceptance speech at the DNC was touching. It was a brilliant speech.
Don’t get me wrong, it all sounded wonderful, but I came away from it reminded of the kid who ran for class president when I was in 6th grade based on campaign promises of replacing all of the school’s water fountains with soda fountains. Plenty of kids voted for him because they loved the promise and incorrectly assumed that if he was promising it, he must have a way to make it happen. Those of us who took a minute to think about it realized that it was something that was beyond the power of one person and that it would take one heck of a lot of convincing and a whole lot of spending of money the school didn’t have in order to actually make it happen. Sounded great. Wasn’t realistic.
So, are we voting for what sounds great, or what sounds realistic?
“The most dangerous myth is the demagoguery that business can be made to pay a larger share, thus relieving the individual. Politicians preaching this are either deliberately dishonest, or economically illiterate, and either one should scare us. Business doesn’t pay taxes, and who better than business to make this message known?
“Only people pay taxes, and people pay as consumers every tax that is assessed against a business. Begin with the food and fiber raised in the farm, to the ore drilled in a mine, to the oil and gas from out of the ground, whatever it may be—through the processing, through the manufacturing, on out to the retailer’s license. If the tax cannot be included in the price of the product, no one along that line can stay in business.”
[Emphasis added. —R]
“Who is in the White House is not as important as Who is on the White Throne.” —Stewart Briscoe
Editor’s note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.
This housing crisis didn’t come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.
If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That’s what you claim you do, when you accept people’s money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that’s what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don’t like the probable consequences. That’s what honesty means. That’s how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards’s own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?
Wow. And I didn’t even quote all of the good parts.
When asked what the market would do, J. Pierpont Morgan is supposed to have replied, “It will fluctuate.” And so it has always done. For the time being, capital will be tighter than before, restricting credit—which is not always a bad thing—and businessmen will be reminded (as legislators, state and federal, seem never to learn) that neither bull markets nor recessions last indefinitely.
This is a fundamental reality of capitalism that seems never to penetrate the minds of journalists or politicians: Markets expand, contract a bit, and expand again, revenue streams are not always smooth, and for economic enterprise, the cost of overconfidence can be the same as the price of inertia: swift self-immolation. What appears to be huge, venerable, and financially indestructible today can be gone tomorrow.
The financial markets are unsteady at the moment, and Wall Street is undergoing elective surgery. But change, not stasis, is the hallmark of the free market […]
During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up “a gentleman named William Ayers,” who “was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.” Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.” Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.
Nobody should hold the junior senator from Illinois responsible for his friends’ and supporters’ violent terrorist acts. But it is fair to hold him responsible for a startling lack of judgment in his choice of mentors, associates, and friends, and for showing a callous disregard for the lives they damaged and the hatred they have demonstrated for this country. It is fair, too, to ask what those choices say about Obama’s own beliefs, his philosophy, and the direction he would take our nation.
“For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects.” (Federalist No. 46, 1 February 1788)
Reducing our troop strength solely on the basis of trends in violence also misses the critical point that the mission of American forces in Iraq is shifting rapidly from counterinsurgency to peace enforcement. The counter-insurgency fight that characterized 2007 continues mainly in areas of northern Iraq. The ability of organized enemy groups, either Sunni or Shia, to conduct large-scale military or terrorist operations and to threaten the existence of the Iraqi government is gone for now. No area of Iraq today requires the massive, violent, and dangerous military operations that American and Iraqi forces had to conduct over the last 18 months in order to pacify various places or restore them to government control. Although enemy networks and organizations have survived and are regrouping, they will likely need considerable time to rebuild their capabilities to levels that pose more than a local challenge—and intelligent political, economic, military, and police efforts can prevent them from rebuilding at all.
American troops continue to conduct counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq, which has not given up, and against Iranian-backed Special Groups, which are also reconstituting. U.S. forces support Iraqi forces conducting counterinsurgency operations in the handful of areas where any significant insurgent capability remains. But mostly our troops are enforcing the peace.
In ethnically mixed areas, American troops are seen as impartial arbiters and mediators. In predominantly Shia or Sunni areas, they are seen as guarantors of continued safety, destroying the justification for illegal militias. American brigades also play critical roles in economic reconstruction, not by spending American money but by helping Iraqis spend their own money. American staffs help local Iraqi leaders develop prioritized lists of their needs, budgets to match those priorities, and plans for executing those budgets. American troops support the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that mentor Iraqi provincial leaders and help local communities communicate their needs to the central government. American soldiers provide essential support to Iraqi soldiers and police working hard to develop their ability to function on their own.
Indeed, American combat brigades have become the principal enablers of economic and political development in Iraq. When an American brigade is withdrawn from an area, there is nothing to take its place—all of these functions go unperformed. Clearly, then, the number of brigades needed in Iraq should be tied not to the level of violence but to the roles the Americans perform and the importance of those roles to the further development of Iraq as a stable and peaceful state.
[Emphasis added. —R]
“Sometimes bipartisanship is grounds for celebration, but more often it is cause for tears. Last week, congressional leaders from both parties went into a room to hammer out a plan that would put taxpayers on the hook for $700 billion. But they assert that the investment is essential to the health of the economy. And they insist that if we make this investment, we’ll get all or most of it back.
“This promise would be more believable if the federal government had a long record of using tax dollars responsibly. In fact, it’s the equivalent of the guy who raids his kid’s piggy bank to feed the slots. The most notable impulse of our leaders is spending money the Treasury doesn’t have, piling up bills that future Americans will have to cover.”
“I can think of nothing more unfair to an unborn child than to come into this world unwanted,” declares the Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, senior pastor of Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. And that’s the difference between those of us who are pro-life, and those who aren’t: we, the former, can think of something much more unfair.
“The last thing Jesus needs is the State. Stupid Christians like James Dobson and Pat Roberton like D.C. more than grace … sad.”
“[T]he present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona fide must we combat our political foes — rejecting all changes but through the channel itself provides for amendments.” — Alexander Hamilton (letter to James Bayard, April 1802)
Reference: Selected Writings and Speeches of Alexander Hamilton, Frisch, ed. (511)
Oh, how far we have fallen…
Jeff Jacoby, in “The brilliance of the Electoral College”, on the latest attempts to abolish or skirt the Electoral College:
Actually, in no more than four of the nation’s 54 presidential elections since 1789 has the electoral vote winner not been the candidate who won the popular vote…
Such concerns didn’t trouble the framers of the Constitution, who did not believe that political contests should be decided by majority rule. They rejected “pure democracy,” as James Madison explained in Federalist No. 10. They knew that with “nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual,” blind majoritarianism can become as great a menace to liberty as any king or dictator. The term “tyranny of the majority” was coined for good reason.
That is why the framers went to such lengths to prevent popular majorities from too easily getting their way. They didn’t concentrate unlimited power in any single institution, or in the hands of voters.
The Electoral College (like the Senate) was designed to preserve the role of the states in governing a nation whose name - the United States of America - reflects its fundamental federal nature. We are a nation of states, not of autonomous citizens, and those states have distinct identities and interests, which the framers were at pains to protect. Too many Americans today forget - or never learned - that the states created the central government; it wasn’t the other way around.
[Bold emphasis added. —R]
I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Clifford D. May, A Hundred Years of War?:
A hundred years from now, Americans might still be fighting militant Islamists in Iraq and other places. What could be worse than that? A hundred years from now, America and the West could have been defeated by militant Islamists.
Al-Qaeda, Iran’s ruling mullahs, Hezbollah, and others militant jihadis have told us what they are fighting for. The well-known Islamist, Hassan al-Banna, described the movement’s goals succinctly: “to dominate…to impose its laws on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.” He said that in 1928. Who would have believed then that his heirs would acquire the wealth, power, and lethality they enjoy today? Who can say where they may be 100 years from now? Who can say where the West will be? Survival is not an entitlement. Freedom must be earned by every generation.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my candidates to come equipped without the “High Octane Marxist Cant” option.
[Wave of the phin to Dom.]
It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators — on both sides of the aisle — who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.
I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war — and our part in it — at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.
The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers.
We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can’t do it from inside a jet or a tank.
Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory — and a democracy in the Arab world — is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.
One of the biggest problems with government intervention in the economy is that politicians usually have neither the knowledge nor the incentives to intervene at the right time.
Bruce Bartlett has pointed out that most government intervention in an economic downturn comes too late. That is, the problem it is trying to solve has already worked itself out and the government intervention can create new problems.
More fundamentally, markets readjust themselves for a reason. That reason is that people pay a price for their misjudgments and mistakes.
Government interventions are usually based on trying to stop them from having to pay that price.
People who went way out on a limb to buy a house that they could not afford are now being pictured as victims of a heartless market or deceptive lenders.
Just a few years ago, people who went out on that limb made money big-time in a skyrocketing housing market. But now that they have been caught in the ups and downs that markets have gone through for centuries, the government is supposed to bail them out.
Solving short-run problems, especially in an election year, often means creating long-run problems. Pumping money into the economy can help many problems, but do not be surprised if it also leads to inflationary pressures and financial repercussions around the world.
In other words, people should bear some personal responsibility for their choices and actions. The government should leave well enough alone. Better yet, perhaps the government would like to admit to some responsibility in the matter, and perhaps rather than bailing out people from their own mistakes, rectify it’s own? (Yeah, I know, fat chance of the latter.)
[Emphasis in the quote added. —R]
Traditionally, however, Wall Street defines a recession as two consecutive quarters of falling Gross Domestic Product. By this definition, even the one-quarter “recession” in 2001 was hardly that. The National Bureau of Economic Research says a recession involves “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months,” and Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, which boasts a 60-year track record of successfully predicting recessions, ranked the probability that the U.S. was in a recession in December at 35.5 percent. In January, a mere six percent.
[Emphasis added. —R]
Awesome. Just awesome.
One of the reasons that house prices got so high here is that people could get crazy financing for huge amounts without adequate resources to pay it back. So “dumb money” bid the price too high, and now no one can buy or sell because they can’t finance their homes.
So there are two ways to fix this - the healthy way would be to let the market forces bring the prices down to what people can reasonably pay. This is the best for everyone long term as it levels out who can live in California.
The second way would be to use the government backed entities, Fannie and Freddie, to prop up these insane prices. This is akin to providing an alcoholic with discount coupons for the corner liquor store.
[T]he world seems to have all but forgotten an Israeli town situated on the border with Gaza that has been under withering and nearly non-stop attack. Sderote has actually been hit with more than 100 Palestinian terror rockets and mortars this week and with more than 1,500 rockets since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June. Yet where is the outrage? Where is the international condemnation of the terrorists and the states who support them? How can either side — the Israeli people or the Palestinians who do want peace and security for both sides — ever make peace until these radical Islamic jihadists are stopped?
In between the yummy dinner of homemade chicken fajitas, and the Jello-provided chocolate pudding for dessert, I perused the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal. Above the fold was a puff piece on Al Franken’s senatorial run* in Minnesota, and it included this tidbit, “… the bane of conservative talk-radio” in describing Franken.
Webster’s defines “bane” as “a source of harm or ruin; curse”. Such is what I always held “bane” to mean as well. So I sat and thought, after having read those words, that while one might be able to argue that Franken has harmed conservative talk radio, I cannot imagine it has been to the extent of earning the the moniker of “bane”. He certainly hasn’t brought conservative talk radio to ruin, not now when it is stronger than ever. Therefore one might surmise that writer June Kronholz and her editors at the WSJ either, (a) don’t have a twelth-grade education, or (b) don’t know how to type “www.m-w.com” in to their web browser address bar.
A better description of Mr. Franken’s relationship to conservative talk radio might be “source of material”, or, if one were feeling generous toward Mr. Franken, “adversary”. (Mr. Franken can thank my friend, Mr. Lawson, for that one.)
One might also note Ms. Kronholz’s mention of Mr. Franken’s short-lived career at Air America: “He left that gig in February.” She fails to include words to the effect of “…due to lack of ratings and lack of revenue.”
Mr. Franken may be a lot of things to conservative talk radio, Ms. Kronholz, but “bane” is not one of them. Please choose your words more carefully next time, noting that Webster’s also has a thesaurus.**
*Subscription may be required to read.
** (A “thesaurus”, Ms. Kronholz, is a volume used to find words of similar or antithetical nature.)
No political slogan or hand-held sign has ever changed someone’s convictions. Protests, shouting, and political battle will only polarize people on an issue. Regardless of which side wins or loses a political struggle, people will continue to believe what they did before. If you want to change your community, your nation and your world, the most effective action you can take is to introduce people to Jesus, and to demonstrate His love and compassion to them. Through His death and resurrection, all of us can be free from the effects of sin, and enjoy unlimited and joyful relationship with God. This is where changed lives come from.
It is a good thing to participate in politics as God leads. Vote your conscience. Respectfully voice your convictions in the political arena. But don’t expect the election of a politician or passage of a law to change people’s minds and hearts, much less their lives. Political power and law rule only through fear of consequence, not love. Let’s make our focus the same as Jesus’. People are transformed when they experience love in relationship with Him.
I bet you didn’t get offered homemade carrot cake by the workers at your voting precinct today.
You did vote, didn’t you?
One of my favorite online publications turns ten years old this month, The Patriot Post. (Formerly known as The Federalist Patriot, and for a long time before that, simply The Federalist.)
Publisher Mark Alexander has overseen a redesign of the publication’s web site, and it’s a big improvement over the previous design. You can now get notices of each new issue via RSS, and all issues since 2003 are archived online, with prior years to come.
Jeff Jacoby has a great piece on he disparity in reporting regarding Mel Gibson’s drunken racial slurs, and Naveed Haq’s murderous rampage at a Jewish center in Seattle. The latter is yet another example, as Jacoby points out, noting other such type attacks which have taken place over the past few years, of members of the “Religion of Peace” suddenly developing “Sudden Jihad Syndrome”.
A Christian, who is such a rabid anti-abortionist that he begins killing doctors who perform the operation, is news fodder for weeks. But if a Muslim walks up to the counter of the Israeli-owned airline El Al, killing two people as he sprays the ticket area with bullets, it’s quickly swept under the proverbial rug. What is the media’s reluctance to point out what we know to be true: that the so-called “Religion of Peace” shows, day in and day out by the behavior of its adherents, that it is anything but.
It does not require much observation to understand that there is a large faction on this planet that lives only to see Israel’s destruction. But to stand up in public and declare that Hezbollah is anything but a terrorist organization demonstrates how this deep this hatred runs, and how oblivious to truth these minds have become.
I keep thinking no politician can be as looney as Howard Dean, but then George Galloway keeps popping up to snatch the title.
There’s a movement afoot by the Democrats to get the minimum wage raised again. Despite historical financial evidence to the contrary, raising the minimum wage does not help those at the low end of the wage spectrum, as our nation’s leftists would like us to think. Raising the minimum wage means businesses are less likely to hire more workers, due to their increased costs with the raise in the minimum wage.
Contrast this with the fact that, according to today’s Political Diary, Germany is set to cut its corporate tax rate to thirty percent, down from thirty-nine percent. Once it does so, the United States will have the highest corporate tax rate of the industrialized world.
How does this affect the minimum wage? I’m glad you asked. It seems high corporate tax rates, according to a “new study by American Enterprise Institute scholars Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur…is for the most part paid by workers in the form of lower wages.”
Ergo: cut the corporate tax rate, workers’ wages will rise.
You can not get even odds in Vegas that the Democrats would sign on to such a policy.
I admit to having varied thoughts with regard to the free speech versus protecting our national emblem from being burnt aspects of the “protest” burnings of the American flag.
Men and women have bled and died for our flag, from the time when our fledgling nation did not have a single standard, but several, to the present day and the present conflicts of the Long War on Terror. Yet it was not a scrap of red, white, and blue cloth these men and women sacrificed, but what that cloth represents. For anyone to burn a flag of the United States of America, except as the proscribed method of taking said flag out of service, dishonors the memory of those men and women.
The other side of my mind, however, screams that the protest burning is the kind of freedom those sacrifices were made for. Quite the contest of ideals raging in my grey matter.
Yet another reason to love the Internet: if you wait long enough, someone’s going to come along and say what it is you want to say, only better.
To tell you the truth, I’m not that crazy about such a constitutional amendment, for the simple reason that flag-burning is unique in the annals of protest for the way in which it perfectly encapsulates what a jerk the person burning the flag is. It is auto-discrediting in a way that no placard or chant, however idiotic, can equal. To set fire to the national emblem of a country that allows you to say and do as you please, including burning the national emblem, is to make the point that your freedom is so visceral a part of your nature that you are oblivious to it. It doesn’t reflect well on you to be oblivious in this fashion, but it reflects well on your country for how deeply it ingrains the spirit of freedom into those lucky enough to live here.
That said, the last thing that a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning strikes me as is a slippery slope toward broader restriction on freedom of expression.
Besides, our nation has more important things to worry about, like stopping radical Islamists from popping a nuke in one of our major metropolises. I don’t think a majority of voters, while perhaps concerned one way or the other on the flag-burning issue, have it ranked as a high priority. It’s more of a “when the jihadists are all dead or in prison” sort of issue.
It’s nice to see anti-Semitism alive and well at the Guardian. Then again, at least it’s nice to see a major media source wear its bias on its sleeve, rather than pretend it’s purely neutral.
Will Hutton decides to rebuke Israel for its recent incursions into Gaza, which netted eight cabinet members, thirty members of parliament, and thirty other officials of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, calling these acts, as well as the bombings of infrastructure targets in Gaza, a declaration of war by the Israeli state.
Memo to Mr. Hutton: Well, duh.
Hutton notes “Missiles from Gaza are regularly fired at Israel.” Yet in Hutton’s world, this apparently does not constitute an act of war against Israel by the Palestinian state, despite his earlier statement, “The Hamas government has not yet renounced its commitment to the elimination of Israel or to the use of terrorism.” The “elimination of Israel” as a tenant of what Hutton claims is a legitimate and sovereign government is not a “declaration of war”? I’m not sure how much clearer Hamas, and thus, the Palestinian people, who put Hamas in power, have to be in their declaration of war against Israel to satisfy Mr. Hutton.
Far from being, as Hutton claims, an inexcusable act of war, Israel’s bombings of and raids in to Gaza are more of what Israel needs to be doing to stand strong in the face of an enemy which seeks its utter annihilation. There may be a sliver of hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas were not being undermined by the Hamas majority in the government.
But when a majority of a nation seeks not only the defeat of its neighbor, but the elimination of that nation’s people, there is little reasoning that can be done with such persons to secure peace. Israel must project strength to protect itself, to assure the Palestinians and any other group or nation that it is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure “Never again.”
Writers such as Mr. Hutton would do well to pack away their double standards for the Israeli state and, well, “remain silent” would be the polite term.
Jeff gives a great example of the sort of situation fiscal conservatives point to as their case for the line-item veto:
Congress has embraced the notion of passing ten-thousand-page omnibus bills that provide an appropriation for buying missiles, invest taxpayer dollars in education, reform the health-insurance, and by the way also fund half a dozen wasteful squanderings of the federal treasury. And if the President wants to veto it, he has to veto it all. Nuts, right?
As Jeff goes on to say, yes, it is nuts. But members of Congress need to stand up and defend their reasons for why they want these “wasteful squanderings” included along with the legitimate items in such bills. (Though I will quibble that the government has no business in the health insurance business, either.) Equally so, the President—and this is any president, not just the current one—should get the message out to the American people why he’s vetoing the entire bill, despite all of its good and legitimate items.
More communication is the key. As Jeff puts it, the American people need to be made smarter as to the machinations of their government. The two parties seem to enjoy playing politics, so why not extend that to budgetary items? If Congress sends you a spending bill with bridges to nowhere in it, you veto it, tell the American people you vetoed it because of the bridges to nowhere, and mention you’d be happy to sign it when it comes back without the bridges to nowhere within. Likewise, if Congress sends a spending bill without any largesse—stop laughing, this is a hypothetical after all—and the President still vetoes it, Congress has that handy two-thirds majority thingy from the Constitution.
Like net “neutrality” legislation, I think the line-item veto is a mountain that’s actually a molehill. We have more important areas to concentrate on, like keeping those who wish to kill us outside of our borders.
Oh, by the way, there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A lesser man might say something like, “Suck it, mouth-foamers”, but I’ll refrain from engaging in such childish behavior.
At journalism conferences, the question is often brought up whether a journalist should see himself as an American first or a journalist first. Often the consensus is that they are journalists first.
I wonder how many of them would report a story if it would mean the death of their own child. And would any of those reporters who would be journalists first in even that appalling instant cheerfully mis-report a story in order to cause the death of their child? I suspect virtually none would.
If only they loved their country’s young and willing warriors as much as they loved their own children.
But the journalists today are too swept up in their own dance macabre to even notice the murderous consequences of their own malfeasance — or to hear the demands of simple decency.
Speaking of Tom, he’s authored a great paper as part of the Master’s program he’s enrolled in. Titled “Weblogs, Pamphlets and Public Citizens: Changing Modern Media”, in which he compares the citizen journalists of today’s blogosphere to the pamphleteers of pre-Revolutionary War America. I got a sneak peek during the drafting and editing phase, and I think it’s really good.
Some choice quotes:
The effects of blogs in a new media environment are twofold: Weblogs cover stories that their mainstream media counterparts, for editorial reasons or other gatekeeping practices common in modern professional media, omit or miss entirely; and weblogs also bring to bear an ever-vigilant group of diverse problem solvers that fact-check the work of many reporters and journalists in the mass-media arena. This makes the blogosphere an excellent addendum to mass media, operating as both appendix and errata to the main compendium of stories that the mass media puts into the public sphere using trained reporters and journalists.
As technology had advanced further, producing Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a distribution method that allows for easy and automatic syndication of new additions to weblogs, it has become possible for a consumer of media to add weblogs to their daily news diet. This allows for readers to mix and match their media, creating a new media outlet that is personally tailored to their interests and to their pursuits. Using an RSS-reader application on a personal computer, a sports fan can have a forty-page sports section and a one page local section, or a political junkie can have page after page of differing commentary from a variety of sources. The reader becomes their own editor and gatekeeper, combining multiple weblogs and conventional media sources, which have also adopted RSS, into their own personal fountain of news and commentary.
If you’ve read Dan Gillmor’s We The Media and/or Hugh Hewitt’s Blog, some of Tom’s piece will sound familiar, especially in that he cites the former as a source, but I say the familiarity makes Tom’s arguments stronger. Good work, my friend!
The Stephen Colbert kerfuffle, intrinsically uninteresting though it is, leads Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to an excellent insight:
Why are you wasting my time with Colbert, I hear you ask. Because he is representative of what too often passes for political courage, not to mention wit, in this country. His defenders—and they are all over the blogosphere—will tell you he spoke truth to power. This is a tired phrase, as we all know, but when it was fresh and meaningful it suggested repercussions, consequences—maybe even death in some countries. When you spoke truth to power you took the distinct chance that power would smite you, toss you into a dungeon or—if you’re at work—take away your office.
But in this country, anyone can insult the president of the United States. Colbert just did it, and he will not suffer any consequence at all. He knew that going in.
This, it seems to us, explains several conceits of the Angry Left:
The notion that criticism—whether of the Dixie Chicks or of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer—amounts to censorship.
Claims by Democratic politicians that Republicans are “questioning” their “patriotism.”
Fears of incipient fascism.
What these have in common, aside from being totally fantastical, is that they all reinforce the image of the Angry Leftist as courageous dissenter. In truth, this country is so tolerant, indeed downright indulgent, of this sort of “dissent” that it affords no opportunity to be courageous.
Speak “truth to power” in America, and power will pat you on the head and say, “What an adorable little girl.” Some on the Angry Left could actually have the courage to stand up if they were faced with real consequences—but they are unlikely ever to get that chance. America’s almost boundless tolerance thus reduces them to the level of petulant children. No wonder they’re so angry.
The elements of the “crisis” Mitchell describes are twofold: (1) Iraq isn’t Vietnam—i.e., a war the press helps lose for America; and (2) the Bush administration hasn’t produced a Watergate—i.e., a corruption scandal in which the press helps bring down an administration. This isn’t a crisis for America. For most Americans, Vietnam and Watergate were tragedies, and we’d rather not repeat them, thank you very much.
But it is a crisis for the press. For journalists of a certain age, Vietnam and Watergate were triumphs that they are eager to repeat. It doesn’t look as though that’s going to happen. Our advice to newsmen? Pray. “Lord, grant me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Amen. Now stop crusading and report the damn news.
The bad news, surprise, surprise, is that it’s not as good as we think it is.
Jeff Donn, for the AP:
Startling research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health care quality suggests that Americans - rich, poor, black, white - get roughly equal treatment, but it’s woefully mediocre for all.
The survey of nearly 7,000 patients, reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, considered only urban-area dwellers who sought treatment, but it still challenged some stereotypes: These blacks and Hispanics actually got slightly better medical treatment than whites.
While the researchers acknowledged separate evidence that minorities fare worse in some areas of expensive care and suffer more from some conditions than whites, their study found that once in treatment, minorities’ overall care appears similar to that of whites.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, insured or uninsured,” said chief author Dr. Steven Asch, at the Rand Health research institute, in Santa Monica, Calif. “We all get equally mediocre care.”
Too bad this won’t shut the left up on wanting government-run, socialized medicine.
[Via Stones Cry Out.]
Stephen Moore, Political Diary:
During last week’s debate about the federal earmarking process — which is used to distribute pork to congressional districts — House Appropriators struck back. The appropriators, of both parties, complain that fiscal conservatives in the House are trying to ruin a time-honored congressional tradition of passing out bacon by demanding full transparency for pork spending. In a letter to his colleagues, Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson went so far as to argue that the Framers wouldn’t have approved of this effort to curb Congress’s power of the purse and even claimed “earmarking is virtually required by article 1 section 9 clause 7 of the Constitution.”
So we did some checking on the writings of the founders to shed some light on their view of the domestic pork process. The first budget ever passed by Congress approved roughly $100 million of funds in today’s dollars. There were no Lawrence Welk Museums or Cowboy Hall of Fame earmarks in the bill — which was only a few pages long. The founders believed that if a government function wasn’t listed in the Constitution under the enumerated powers clause (Article I, Section 8), the right to spend money didn’t exist. Pork was hardly an issue.
The biggest opponent to federal spending on parochial projects was Thomas Jefferson. Here is what Jefferson wrote in a letter to James Madison: “I view [road building] as a source of boundless patronage to the executive, jobbing to members of Congress & their friends, and a bottomless abyss of public money. You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post roads revenues, but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.”
To be sure, there were defenders of congressional funding of local projects, most notably Alexander Hamilton. But back then the stakes and dollar amounts were much smaller. Given what’s happening today in Congress with highway bills larded up with thousands of special projects, we’d say that Jefferson’s warning was amazingly prescient. We’d also say that the founders would be mighty disgusted with the way Republicans and Democrats have been serving as guardians of the public purse.
[I]t seems to me that the issue of the cartoons points out the dangers of multi-culturalism, which has been embraced by Western societies post WW2. If all cultures are equal, and each culture reserves the right to be offended and to act on that offense in a matter it deems appropriate, whether burning cartoons or cartoonists, than we’re in for a rocky ride. When do the Hindus in the West start torching McDonalds for promoting the sinful eating of cows? When do the Amish run amok in shopping malls outraged by the rampant consumerism and excess vanity? When do the Scientologists go after South Park, one of my three favorite TV shows?
Eerie how some things come to pass. Not that Scientologists are going after South Park (yet), but it was odd reading Robert’s post from February 5th, in light of the recent Isaac Hayes-South Park flap.
I don’t think we’ll see the Amish run amok any time soon, either, since they tend toward pacifism, but I must say I won’t be surprised to learn of any Hindu violence, should it erupt in this country. Like many Muslims in other countries, the Hindu within India can be exceedingly violent against Christians, Buddhists, and other persons of faith.
So both Goldman and Lehman are reporting huge earnings. Obviously they did so on the backs of working-class Americans and Congressional hearings should begin post-haste to determine if a “windfall” profit tax will be levied, right?
[For the sarcasm-impaired, the above was typed very much tongue-in-cheek.]
Please note: You’re not allowed to call yourselves followers of a “religion of peace” if you riot and make death threats over a political cartoon.
A lot of people decry such statements, saying that this is the actions of some muslims, but not most of them. I’m still waiting for the major leaders of Islam to rise up and denounce such violence. Until that starts happening on a regular basis, I have a hard time believing those arguments.
The Free Market Foundation reminds Texans the deadline for voter registration in time for the March primaries is this Monday, February 6th. If you need to register:
As with every election, the Free Market Foundation is providing non-partisan Voters’ Guides free of charge. Send them an e-mail with your mailing address and desired quantity. I’ve taken advantage of these guides in the past, and they are great at distilling voting issues in to clear language, offering pros and cons for ballot propositions, as well as candidate information.
Courtesy of Jeff Harrell.
A Patriot Post reader:
In their eagerness to inflict as much damage as possible to the Bush administration record, the Democrats once again are being reckless with the truth and with national security. Some say that the president is spying on American citizens. The president has made clear from the start that the wiretaps were limited to targeting communications from outside the country to individuals in the U.S. with known links to terrorist groups. It’s not an “unreasonable search” to look for the bad guys when fighting international terrorism. The Democrats don’t have a leg to stand on in this issue…and they know it.
How can the Democrats in all honesty criticize the president for intelligence failures and then attack him for being too aggressive in doing surveillance? How do you explain dismantling protections in the midst of a terror war? The Democrats by their duplicity are playing a very dangerous game that could derail the president’s strategy to defeat a deadly enemy. The Fourth Amendment to the constitution protects its citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures” but who will protect us from “unreasonable” self-serving, seditious and self-destructive politicians?” —Fredericktown, Ohio
Dana Priest of The Washington Post sounds shocked - shocked! - to discover that George W. Bush ordered a complete remobilization and reinvigoration of the CIA immediately after September 11th:
The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al-Qaida has grown into the largest CIA covert-action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over clandestine tactics…
This is news? Isn’t this just what W. told the country he would do in the aftermath of September 11th?
Apparently W. meant it. According to the Post’s Ms. Priest, the president signed an order six days after September 11th empowering American intelligence agencies in a way not seen since the Second World War.
Gosh, just as if we had suffered a surprise attack and thousands of our people had been killed in a second Pearl Harbor.
Do you think maybe the president decided to fight this like a world war because, far ahead of his critics, he realized we were in one?
What do the senior senator from Massachusetts and quadruple murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams have in common? The Associated Press provides one answer:
Meet the latest children’s author, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Splash, his co-protagonist in “My Senator and Me: A Dogs-Eye View of Washington, D.C.”
Scholastic Inc. will release the book in May.
So Ted Kennedy has a dog named Splash? How witty.
Mary Jo Kopechne’s children could not be reached for comment.
Today’s featured article on OpinionJournal, while highlighting the Abramoff ugliness, shows why many conservatives, this one included, are relatively unhappy with the Republicans in Congress:
The party that swept to power on term limits, spending restraint and reform has become the party of incumbency, 6,371 highway-bill “earmarks,” and K Street. And it’s no defense to say that Democrats would do the same. Of course Democrats would, but then they’ve always claimed to be the party of government. If that’s what voters want, they’ll choose the real thing.
Republicans won’t escape voter anger by writing new rules but only by returning to their self-professed principles. Gradually since 1994 they’ve decided they want to reform and limit government less than they want to use government to entrench their own power, and in the case of the Abramoffs to get rich doing so. If Speaker Dennis Hastert, interim Majority Leader Roy Blunt and other GOP leaders are too insulated to realize this, then Republicans need new leaders, and right away.
What’s the adage, “Lead or get out of the way”? That’s what the Republican congressional leadership needs to do. Show some backbone and lead, or let a willing someone step up and take over. There should be no more talk of DeLay returning to the Majority Leader position. Even if Mr. DeLay is found to be completely innocent (and in the case of the Texas charges, I believe he is), he has been tainted by allowing himself to be put in that position in the first place. Mr. Blunt or another Republican congressman needs to be named the new Majority Leader, so the floundering of the party can be put to a stop.
The Republican Party, lead by Reagan, and then briefly from ‘94-98 by Gingrich, was the party of smaller government. This message resonated with the American people, and this put and kept the Republicans in power so long as they abided by that message. If Republicans are so interested in remaining in power, as the OpinionJournal piece opines, perhaps they should look to their recent past.
Not content to see the U.S. surrender in Iraq, the “peace” activists want us to lose in our own hemisphere as well. Notes Mary Anastasia O’Grady:
Congressional proposals to cut and run from Iraq are not the only dumb ideas emanating from Capitol Hill that threaten the security of Americans. Another is the insistence that the U.S. should stop its training efforts to increase the professionalism of Latin American militaries.
Since the late 1940s, the U.S. has operated a training facility at Fort Benning, Georgia for Latin American soldiers. Prior to 2000, it was known as the School of the Americas (SOA). Today it is the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or Whinsec. Some 60,000 Latin military professionals have come through the two schools in the past six decades to improve their warfare skills while imbibing U.S. respect for democratic values.
In a region flush with political instability and insurgent activity, promoting military professionalism among our Latin allies might seem like a good idea. But Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, and 122 other House members have a problem with Whinsec. In March 2005, Mr. McGovern sponsored House Resolution 1217, which called for a suspension of the Whinsec program and an investigation of human rights violations that it allegedly contributed to.
It might be tempting to climb on board this “peace train” if not for the low credibility of Mr. McGovern and his activist admirers. The National Journal recently named the Massachusetts congressional delegation the most liberal in the nation and Mr. McGovern one of its most liberal members. Not incidentally, many of those demanding that Whinsec be shut down on “human rights” grounds are wholesale opponents of U.S. policy in the region.
One of the favorite targets of our adorable pacifists is the Colombian military, which a Gallup poll two years ago found was the most respected institution in that war-torn country with an 87% positive image (beating even the Church). Since Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has committed to raising the professionalism of Colombia’s armed forces, the country’s bloodthirsty guerrillas have been set back on their heels. That seems to make Mr. McGovern’s supporters very unhappy.
There is also the habit of linking U.S. training to any misdeed committed by any individual that passed through the school. For example, SOA Watch, a Web site dedicated to closing Whinsec, blames the killing of a leader in the “peace community” on “troops commanded by General Luis Alfonso Zapata Uribe.” Whether that’s true or not is a matter for Colombian investigators. However, as evidence of U.S. complicity, SOA Watch cites Gen. Zapata Uribe’s SOA attendance. What it doesn’t mention is that he was there for six weeks in 1976 just after cadet school, according to Whinsec records. Even if Gen. Zapata Uribe — who may well be innocent — did spend six weeks in Georgia 30 years ago, does that really have any bearing on what constitutes good U.S. policy in the region today?
The notion that the U.S. should simply withdraw from military relationships in Latin America, abandoning not only alliances but also its role in promoting a U.S. human rights agenda, is about as stupid as, well, the Democratic idea of withdrawing from Iraq.
John Fund has a note on Barbara Boxer’s Bush obsession in today’s Political Diary.
Some Democrats have become so obsessed with President Bush’s National Security Agency surveillance activities that they are putting the most rabid of the anti-Clinton Republicans of the 1990s to shame. Take Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who serves as her party’s Chief Deputy Whip. Last month, during the holiday season, she sent a letter to legal scholars asking their opinions as to whether the Bush NSA program should compel Congress to start impeachment hearings.
With the 2006 midterm elections now upon us, if the Democrats want the American public to take them seriously on matters of national security, perhaps they should quietly decide to make someone else the Chief Deputy Whip.
Ms. Boxer’s letter had been prompted by a December 16 appearance she made at Temple Emanuel in Los Angeles with former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, who has since become a sort of understudy to former Attorney General Ramsey Clark in his willingness to ascribe all manner of evil intent to conservative presidents. Mr. Dean, who declared the Bush record on civil liberties “worse than Watergate,” told the Temple Emanuel audience that Mr. Bush is “the first president to admit to an impeachable offense.” Ms. Boxer called that “a startling assertion” worthy of Congressional attention. During her duet with Mr. Dean, she made her own startling statement, blurting out that she feared Mr. Bush “would prefer to do away with Congress,” calling for the House and Senate to be disbanded during wartime.
The “worse than Watergate” assertion would be one of the funniest things I’ve read today if it weren’t for Boxer’s own comment about Bush wanting to disband Congress. One has to wonder if she’s truly serious when she utters such nonsense, or is she simply playing to the anti-war radical left? Either way, I think it shows that Boxer isn’t fit for such a high position in one of this country’s two major political parties.
Democrats such as Ms. Boxer are in danger of being viewed as overheated and irrational in their reaction to the NSA story.
Ya think? I think we’re well past the “in danger of” stage.
A new Rasmussen poll finds that 32% of voters think our legal system worries too much about individual rights at the expense of national security. Another 27% say the current balance is about right. Only 29% say there is too much concern for national security at the expense of individual liberties and only one-third of Americans believe that Mr. Bush broke the law by authorizing the NSA to monitor phone calls between terrorist suspects. Only 26% believe that President Bush is the first to authorize a program allowing the NSA to intercept such calls.
If Ms. Boxer and Mr. Dean continue to urge Democrats down the impeachment route, they should recall how much the issue flopped for Republicans in the 1998 mid-term elections. Mr. Clinton became the first president since FDR to see his party gain seats during a mid-term election, in part because voters felt Republicans were spending too much time attacking him rather than addressing other issues.
This morning, while dropping the little phisch off at school and running an errand, I caught a bit of Laura Ingraham. She was discussing and taking calls about David Letterman’s treatment of Bill O’Reilly when the latter appeared on the former’s show earlier this week.
I’m not an O’Reilly fan in the least, and I am an infrequent watcher of Letterman, but when I have tuned in, I too have noticed the late night host’s slide toward the radical left.
The late night shows, Leno and Letterman, have always poked fun at whomever is the current President, and the Congress. That’s not the issue here. Carson did the same, and it’s to be expected. They are public figures, and one of the great things about our country, as opposed to, say, the workers’ paradise ninety miles off the coast of Florida, is that we can poke fun at our leaders without fear of reprisal. We have come to accept, and expect, such fun-poking from the late-night hosts.
Within the past couple of years, however, both Leno and Letterman have increasingly been slinging barbs, instead of zingers, with regard to the President in particular, and conservatives in general. Leno, at least, remains funny and charming about it, and tries to be balanced. Letterman, however, appears bitter, his comments aren’t funny, and he certainly isn’t interested in trying to be fair.
From the clips I heard, O’Reilly was trying to keep things light, quipping that Dave should tune in to O’Reilly’s show, and maybe they would “send him a hat.” Letterman’s response was something along the lines of, “So long as it’s a Cindy Sheehan hat.” Cindy Sheehan, Dave? She’s so last year. No one even showed up for her book signing.
Letterman’s strength has always been his and his staff’s writing. Among the reasons I’ve tuned in less and less to Letterman is that strength is waning, and he’s allowing too much of his political beliefs come through in what is supposed to be an entertainment show. No one tunes in to Letterman or Leno to listen to political rants, from either perspective, or to discuss world events. People tune in to get the latest entertainment gossip, watch the “interviews,” and get a good laugh. Letterman has become fallow ground for the latter.
[T]he establishment media clearly leans toward the view that the NSA leak was in the public interest. Unlike the Plame probe, the Justice Department career employees trying to investigate the NSA case can expect no laudatory editorials urging them to pursue their job relentlessly and, above all, no media bloodhounds conducting their own parallel investigations.
The old adage that politics should stop at the water’s edge was abandoned long ago. Now the idea that all of us, regardless of political stripe, have a stake in preventing harm to national security from unauthorized intelligence leaks seems to have similarly entered the dustbin of history.
The last major war the United States was involved in was Vietnam. The modern Democratic Party leadership all came of age during that war, as did most of the editorial staff in the manistream media. It wasn’t just a defining moment in the modern American left, it was the defining moment, the prism through which the left would view the world from that moment on. Vietnam was justification for every pacifist tendency that every liberal has ever had. When they said that war didn’t solve anything, they could point to Vietnam. When they wanted to show the consequences of war, they could point to Vietnam. When they wanted to show the failure of military force as a tool for political change, they could point to Vietnam. It was the last major war this country was ever involved in. Sure we’ve had military operations, from Grenada to the Gulf War to the Balkans, but Vietnam our last big one, and it was a war we ended up losing. Vietnam has been their de facto answer for everything for the past 30 years.
Iraq threatens their entire belief system.
[Emphasis added. —R]
Jeff takes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s (“Intelligencer”? Granted, I know it’s a real word, but come one. Couldn’t you have just said “Reporter”?) Thomas Shapley—hereafter referred to as “Tom”—to task for the latter’s confusing of the Valerie Plame non-event and the recent leak on NSA surveillance:
How peculiar indeed that the President and his administration should respond differently to these two situations. How very odd that when something right out of the pages of a movie of the week crops up and administration opponents do their level best to capitalize on it in order to harm the President and obstruct his second-term agenda, that the administration should respond one way, but when a loose-lipped grudge-bearer calls up a reporter and blows the lid on an operation that saves American lives, the administration does something else entirely.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say the White House is doing its job, Tom.
In the great spectrum of Internet privacy dangers, “persistent cookies” sits on the weakest end. Spyware from free downloads cause more security problems than cookies, and even the ones used by the NSA can be blocked by any browser on the market. The AP uses the mistake to make cookies sound vaguely sinister when they’re almost as ubiquitous on the Internet as pop-up ads, if not more so. The Guardian gets even more hysterical, in all senses of the word, when it says that the “[e]xposure adds to pressure over White House powers”.
The silliest part of the story is that no one can understand why the cookies would present any danger to visitors to the NSA website. Both versions of the story call the risk to surfers “uncertain”, but a more accurate description would be “irrelevant”. Even if the NSA used it to track where casual visitors to its site surfed afterwards, it would discover nothing that any casual surfer wouldn’t already be able to access on their own with Google or a quick check on Free Republic. Now imagine who stops to check on the NSA website and try very hard to come up with any good reason to spend precious resources on scouring the web preferences of bloggers and privacy groups instead of focusing on real signal intelligence, which already comes in such volume that the agency has trouble keeping up with their primary task.
[Emphasis in the original.]
I find it amusing the producers of Syriana are touting the fact of their whopping two Golden Globe nominations. The movie cost $50 million, and has only made $33.6 million after being in theaters a month, a third of that made on its opening weekend. Then there are all of those marketing costs, such as commercials touting your two Golden Globe nominations.
[Figures courtesy of Box Office Mojo.]
Mary Katharine Ham notes a Boston Globe piece on how, just under three years away from the next presidential election, the Democratic Party is already seeking dirt on a potential Republican contender.
This is yet further proof that the Democrats are out of ideas. Their only platform continues to be “We’re everything the Republicans aren’t.” That may work with the lunatic fringe of the Left, but in mainstream America, voters like to hear about plans and ideas for moving the country forward.
By now, most people have heard John Kerry’s slanderous comments about our servicemen terrorizing women and children in Iraq. James Taranto turns the table on the man who would be President, noting a CNN story about what a handful of our servicemen are really up to: doing everything possible, with help from folks stateside, to see that a little Iraqi girl doesn’t die from spina bifida.
Jeff does an outstanding job of showing the flip side of the coin the press doesn’t want to admit:
Yes, the President is responsible for making the decision to go to war based in part on intelligence that turned out to be incomplete. But the President is also responsible for acting with swift resolve to unseat a brutal dictator, terrorist and friend to terrorists. He’s also responsible for having the sheer guts to go it alone when a great many of the West’s liberal democracies shirked their responsibility both as leaders of the world and as members of the Security Council of the United Nations. He’s also responsible for bringing Saddam Hussein to justice, for capturing or killing his cohorts in crime, for cutting off a huge source of funding to Palestinian murder gangs, for shattering Ansar al-Islam, and for freeing the Shiite people of Iraq from decades of illegitimate rule by a Stalinist political party. And in many ways, President Bush is personally responsible for bringing liberty to Iraq for the first time ever, and for changing the history of the Middle East, and the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The Democratic Party’s national leadership has plumbed a record depth in its search to score points against the Republicans. In the past week and a half, both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have called for the United States to surrender in Iraq. Not since George McGovern in 1972 has one party called for the United States military to surrender to an enemy during wartime.
Some will object to the word, “surrender,” but there is no other word to describe the immediate withdrawal of troops from the war zone in Iraq. The simple fact is that two of the nation’s three highest-ranking Democrats are advocating an enemy victory over U.S. forces in a foreign land. That not only is appalling in its contempt for the troops who have died to liberate Iraq, it is astonishing in its brazen disregard for the lives and well-being of the Iraqi people.
[Via Political Diary.]
Let’s see: renewing the Patriot Act, the Senate needing to confirm Bush’s judicial nominees, as well as a Supreme Court nominee, et cetera, et cetera.
So what do they turn their attention to? Why, the Bowl Championship Series, of course.
Pay attention, because this is likely one of the few political issues Lawson and I will agree on: Representative Barton, you’re wasting your time, your colleagues’ time, the time of BCS board members, and taxpayer dollars. Congress has no business sticking its nose in to the BCS mess.
I wouldn’t go as far as Barton in saying the BCS is “deeply flawed,” though it has made some whoppers in the past few years: picking Oklahoma over USC to face LSU in 2003, and picking Oklahoma over Auburn to face USC in 2004 immediately spring to mind.
The solution to the problems of the BCS is not a Congressional investigation. Rather, the football bigwigs at the NCAA need to get together with the various bowl organizers and sponsors and develop a playoff system for Division I-A football where the championship game will be rotated among the bigger bowls. As the ESPN article notes, there’s a lot of money in the bowl games, particularly the BCS bowls, and a playoff system would theoretically kill off some of those dollars. I don’t believe that would happen; look at March Madness with NCAA Division I-A basketball.
Nevertheless, the overriding issue is money. If it wasn’t, then the cadets and midshipmen wouldn’t be crammed into the corners of the stadium for the annual Army-Navy game, but would be seated, out of respect, directly behind their teams’ benches. (We wouldn’t see that awful swoosh logo on those classically minimalist uniforms, either.)
Until the NCAA and the bowls figure out a way to not lose money, we won’t see the much-needed playoff system—for the only sport in Division I-A without a playoff system—for college football, and we will continue to have controversy over whom should play for the championship, and which team is truly number one.
Jeff points to Lorie Byrd’s recent column, and correctly notes how voters should want their elected officials to err: on the side of caution. What really stood out for me when I was reading Lorie’s piece, was this:
[I]t must be pointed out that Democrats are not to be trusted with the nation’s security. They have shown that not only will they endlessly debate until it is possibly too late but that after a military action has been initiated, in the face of difficulties and waning public support, many will back out and abandon the mission and the troops. The approach of the Democrats to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein as outlined in all of the intelligence reports available prior to the war in Iraq stands in stark contrast to that of the Bush administration.
Apparently Brownstein and Vaughn could not find one elected Democrat willing to defend the 2002 vote as right at the time and right in retrospect, which tells us a great deal about the Democrats and national security — primarily that they ought not to be allowed anywhere close to its control.
[Emphasis added. —R]
Happily for Mr Zarqawi, no matter how desperate the head-hackers get, the Western defeatists can always top them. A Democrat Congressman, Jack Murtha, has called for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq. He’s a Vietnam veteran, so naturally the media are insisting that his views warrant special deference, military experience in a war America lost being the only military experience the Democrats and the press value these days. Hence, the demand for the President to come up with an “exit strategy”.
In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter’s easier. Just say, whoa, we’re the world’s pre-eminent power but we can’t handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don’t mind we’d just as soon get off at the next stop.
Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn’t such a smart move, but since the media can’t seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa’eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they’ll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.
You can always count on the press to put a gloomy tone on bright economic news.
Are four-year highs really modest? Here’s hoping the rest of the Christmas shopping season is marked by such “black clouds,” “modest gains,” “reluctance,” and “challenge.”
But profits can’t be judged by dollar amounts alone. What counts is the percentage of revenues those profits represent. “Our numbers are huge because the scale of our industry is huge,” Exxon CEO Lee Raymond tried, probably in vain, to explain during last week’s big Senate hearing on oil company profits. Exxon’s profits last quarter amounted to 9.8 cents for every dollar of sales. Is that obscene? Well, it was more profitable than Shell (which netted 7.8 cents of each dollar of revenue) or Chevron (6.6 cents) or BP (4.6 cents). But compared to Coca-Cola (21.2 cents), Bank of America (28.3 cents), or Microsoft (33.2 cents), it was nothing to write home about.
Everyone is complaining about the price they’re paying at the pump, yet no one seems bothered that a can of Coke that used to cost 35 cents has now doubled in price, or that they don’t see any dividends returned on that free checking account from BoA, or why the cost of Office isn’t $99 instead of $299.
I’m not begrudging Coca-Cola, Bank of America, or Microsoft their profits any more than I begrudge the oil companies theirs. The market is clearly bearing what the market will bear in each of the industries the above companies find themselves. Do you want Microsoft Office to cost under a hundred bucks? Then stop buying Microsoft Office. Use one of the scores of alternative word processors available. Well, if you’re using a Macintosh, any way. Microsoft seems to have strangled word processor development for Windows. But you see my point.
When there’s less demand, companies are forced to reduce prices. Gas prices haven’t gone down, because Americans aren’t buying less gas in significantly high numbers to warrant bringing the prices down dramatically. It’s called free enterprise, last time I checked.
Smacking oil bosses around may be good politics, but the unglamorous fact is that Big Oil’s earnings, 7.7 percent of income in the second quarter of 2005, is lower than the overall US corporate average of 7.9 percent. The oil industry is more profitable than some (automobiles, media, utilities), but it can only envy the profits earned by semiconductors (14.6 percent), pharmaceuticals (18.6 percent), or banks (19.6 percent).
Can you just see the CEOs of Intel, AMD, Motorola, and IBM being dragged before Congress to explain why they’re making so much money? Ridiculous.
The kicker, though, is this:
Government revenue from gasoline taxes alone has exceeded oil industry profits in 22 of the past 25 years.
Does the road work, including on roads which appear to need no work, ever stop where you live? Perhaps instead of gouging consumers with high gasoline taxes, state and local governments should examine their budgets more carefully. Rather than begin “improvement” projects on roads which are perfectly fine, under the guise of the “use it or lose it” excuse, perhaps state and local governments could channel those gas tax revenues in to paying off debt. Should there be no debt, then why not cut the tax? I suppose that would be too easy.
The tin-foil-hat crowd got one thing right after all: The American people have been systematically lied to since 9/11. Not by the President, but by the press.
As usual, Jeff says it better than I was thinking:
It’s as if we’ve got a country full of people who are walking around under the impression that the moon is made of green cheese, repeating it to each other, going on television talk shows to discuss the green cheese issue, publishing lengthy editorials in prominent newspapers about the implications of new revelations about lunar green cheese. It’s positively baffling.
The Big Three nightly newscasts have become nothing more than anti-war activists with a national platform. The Media Research Center recently released a review of over 1,300 news stories on Iraq from January through September. Among their findings was the following: 61 percent of the stories were negative or pessimistic, while only 15 percent were positive. The gap became even worse in August and September with negative stories nearing 75 percent; positive stories at seven percent. Stories about heroic actions by the troops were outnumbered eight to one by stories of abuse or other misconduct. Two of every five news stories covered bombings, kidnappings and other mayhem. Election stories also trended negative, as if things truly were better under Saddam Hussein. We think most Patriot readers will agree—the words that come to mind are “aiding and abetting.”
Please explain to me how our children have had no school yesterday and today so that the Teachers Unions can go out and organize for Democratic candidates — but the schools will be open on Friday when the federal Government and most offices will be closed to commemorate our nation’s war heroes?
This must be an East Coast (West, too?) thing, or perhaps confined to Shirley’s home state (Virginia?). The kids were in school yesterday and are today in DFW.
Memo to Brendan Miniter: Marines don’t like being called “former Marines.” “Once a Marine, always a Marine” is how they view it. Having known a few Marines in my time, perhaps “retired Marine” would be a better term in the future.
So, Exxon Mobil broke corporate records last week, posting a $9 billion profit on $100 billion in revenue in the third quarter. Right on cue, Democrats demanded that Washington confiscate some of those profits. Are they predictable or what?
Want to know who is making a bigger windfall than oil companies are making from the prices paid by the poor gasoline consumer? It’s good old Uncle Sam and his 51 little brothers.
Refining costs and profits combined make up about 15 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Department. State and local taxes make up almost double that, about 27 percent. (New Hampshire’s 18 cents per gallon fuel tax accounted for 7.2 percent of last week’s average gas price of $2.49 a gallon.)
State and local gas tax collections exceed oil industry profits by a large margin, according to a Tax Foundation study released last week. Since 1977, consumers have paid $1.34 trillion in gas taxes — more than twice the profits of all major U.S. oil companies combined during that same period. Last year, state and federal gas taxes took in $58.4 billion. Major U.S. oil company profits last year totaled $42.6 billion.
Want to make an immediate dent in gas prices? Cut gas taxes.
But of course cutting the fat from local, state, and federal bureaucracies isn’t the answer. It’s confiscation of private industry profits!
[Emphasis added. —R]
Harry Reid pulled the Senate into closed session Tuesday, claiming that “The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq.” But the Minority Leader’s statement was as demonstrably false as his stunt was transparently political.
What Mr. Reid’s pose is “really all about” is the emergence of the Clare Boothe Luce Democrats. We’re referring to the 20th-century playwright, and wife of Time magazine founder Henry Luce, who was most famous for declaring that Franklin D. Roosevelt had “lied us into war” with the Nazis and Tojo. So intense was the hatred of FDR among some Republicans that they held fast to this slander for years, with many taking their paranoia to their graves.
We are now seeing the spectacle of Bush-hating Democrats adopting a similar slander against the current President regarding the Iraq War. The indictment by Patrick Fitzgerald of Vice Presidential aide I. Lewis Libby has become their latest opening to promote this fiction, notwithstanding the mountains of contrary evidence.
Excellent article, with point-by-point facts which rebuff the “Bush lied” crowd, as well as exposing the outright hypocrisy of leading Democrats.
Okay, so if I can’t have Janice Rogers Brown, then Sam Alito is a fine choice. The son of an immigrant and a public school teacher is already under fire from the Dems and radical left —notice how it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the two—according to Hugh.
Al-Qa’ida murdered almost 3,000 Americans on U.S. soil in about an hour back in 2001—almost all of them civilians. The reason no additional American civilians have died in attacks on our homeland is that 150,000 uniformed American Patriots have formed a formidable front on al-Qa’ida’s turf, a very inhospitable region of the world. These Patriots are a proud breed—Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen—and they have chosen to stand in harm’s way in order to defend their families, their friends, their country.
In doing so, more than 2,000 of these brave souls have been killed.
This week, every mass media outlet took a break from their “CIA leak” promotion to run headlines and lead stories about the Iraq death toll reaching 2,000 (1,567 killed in action since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 19 March 2003)—as if the death of American Patriot number 1,999 was somehow less important. Typical was this headline from The New York Times: “2,000 Dead: As Iraq Tours Stretch On, A Grim Mark.” But not a whisper in the Leftmedia about the 3,870 Iraqi security forces killed in the last six months alone, in defense of their emerging democracy.
For The Patriot, every death of a member of our Armed Forces is equally devastating, and we mourn each one. Not a day passes without our prayers for both those standing in harm’s way, and their families.
The “dezinformatsia” machines promote this “milestone” for one reason only—to foment additional dissent and rally support against the Bush administration’s national-security strategy, which is to protect our homeland by taking the battle with Jihadis to their turf. In doing so, the Leftmedia has reduced the sacrifice of these young Patriots to nothing more than political fodder for their appeasement agenda.
On the night of 11 September 2001, President Bush told the nation, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” He set in motion pre-emptive operations, which would become the “Bush Doctrine.” Our analysts continue to support the doctrine of pre-emption firmly as the best measured response to the Jihadi threat around the world.
As for those still “Stuck on Stupid”, insisting that there were no WMD found in Iraq, here’s a partial list of what didn’t make it out of Iraq before the invasion: 1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium, 1,700 gallons of chemical-weapon agents, chemical warheads containing the nerve agent cyclosarin, thousands of radioactive materials in powdered form designed for dispersal over population centers, artillery projectiles loaded with binary chemical agents, etc.
As The Patriot noted in October, 2002, our well-placed sources in the region and intelligence sources with the NSA and NRO estimated that the UN Security Council’s foot-dragging provided an ample window for Saddam to export some or all of his deadliest WMD materials and components. At that time, we reported that Allied Forces would be unlikely to discover Iraq’s WMD stores, noting, “Our sources estimate that Iraq has shipped some or all of its biological stockpiles and nuclear WMD components through Syria to southern Lebanon’s heavily fortified Bekaa Valley.”
In December of 2002, our senior-level intelligence sources re-confirmed estimates that some of Iraq’s biological and nuclear WMD material and components had, in fact, been moved into Syria and Iran. That movement continued until President Bush finally pulled the plug on the UN’s ruse.
To that end, we are deeply indebted to our Patriot Armed Forces, who have prevented al-Qa’ida or some other Jihadi terrorist cell from striking a U.S. urban center with WMD. Make no mistake—Islamofascists want to bring America to ruin, and they will use any means at their disposal to do so. Mr. President, stay the course.
[Emphasis added. —R]
Harriet’s out. There will be speculation on whether she acted one hundred percent unilaterally, or if this is just the way the administration is spinning it. It doesn’t really matter.
Now the contemplation begins on who the President will put forth as the replacement for Justice O’Connor. A common refrain from the Left has been that a woman should be nominated, to replace a woman. I have no problem with that.
Janice Rogers Brown is my personal pick. A woman, and a minority woman at that. The Left should be quite happy with that, no? Of course not, because Justice Brown is conservative, and based upon her record, mostly an originalist when it comes to constitutional matters. Obviously, this means she is radically out of the mainstream, and not fit for the robes of a Supreme.
It would be fun just to watch the Democrats and their radical left backers fall all over themselves trying to figure out how to disparage a black woman being elevated to the highest court in the land.
Many explanations have been given to account for the almost matchless barbarism into which Palestinian society has descended in recent years. One is the effect of Israeli occupation and all that has, in recent years, gone with it: the checkpoints, the closures, the petty harassments, the targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders. I witnessed much of this personally when I lived in Israel, and there can be no discounting the embittering effect that a weeks-long, 18-hour daily military curfew has on the ordinary Palestinians living under it.
Yet the checkpoints and curfews are not gratuitous acts of unkindness by Israel, nor are they artifacts of occupation. On the contrary, in the years when Israel was in full control of the territories there were no checkpoints or curfews, and Palestinians could move freely (and find employment) throughout the country. It was only with the start of the peace process in 1993 and the creation of autonomous Palestinian areas under the control of the late Yasser Arafat that terrorism became a commonplace fact of Israeli life. And it was only then that the checkpoints went up and the clampdowns began in earnest.
In other words, while Palestinian actions go far to explain Israeli behavior, the reverse doesn’t hold.
When one pharmaceutical company offered to sell a new pneumococcal vaccine to the government for $58 a dose, the Centers for Disease Control demanded a $10-a-dose discount. Politicians want companies to take all the risk of developing new vaccines, but they don’t want the companies to make any money from taking those risks. Then the politicians profess surprise and dismay that there’s a vaccine shortage.
[I]t was not until Oct. 14, six days after Israel had communicated its willingness to help the earthquake victims “in any way possible,” that it finally received a formal response. Yes, aid from Israel would be welcome, provided it was laundered through a third party. “We have established the president’s relief fund, and everyone is free to contribute to it,” a government spokeswoman coolly acknowledged. “If Israel was to contribute — that’s fine, we would accept it.” Israel could help save Pakistani lives, in other words, as long as it wasn’t too public about doing so. There mustn’t be any embarrassing images of planes with Israeli markings offloading relief supplies at Islamabad’s airport.
If the president were to call for two plus two to equal four, the media would report that such a proposal had the support of only 42 percent of likely voters, and a slippage of even conservative support from 87 percent to 63 percent. Perhaps on the jump page, in the 38th inch of the story in the New York Times, they might get around to quoting a professor of mathematics from MIT to the effect that, in fact, the president was right that two plus two still equals four. But for television and radio break news, the story would end at the polling result, which is bad news for the president.
One doesn’t mind, so much, mainstream journalists being b-st-rds. It’s being such dumb b-st-rds that one finds so irksome.
Two decades of research produced a consensus among social scientists of both left and right that family structure has a serious impact on children, even when controlling for income, race, and other variables. In other words, we are not talking about a problem of race but about a problem of family formation or, rather, the lack of it. The best outcomes for children—whether in academic performance, avoidance of crime and drugs, or financial and economic success—are almost invariably produced by married biological parents. The worst results are by never-married women.
The upshot of these studies is that America is confronted by a form of poverty that money alone can’t cure. Many of us think social breakdown is a result of racism and poverty. Yes, they are factors, but study after study shows that alterations in norms and values are at the heart of economic and behavioral troubles. That’s why so much research boils down to the old rule: If you want to avoid poverty, finish high school, don’t have kids in your teens, and get married.
Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator from Vermont, on the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court:
Is this a nominee who will protect and expand our constitutional rights, or will she neglect and narrow those rights? Learning the answer will be at the core of what the American people and the Senate need to know from the hearings on this nomination.
I call your attention to two words in the first sentence: “and expand”. Since when is the Supreme Court charged by the United States Constitution, Senator Leahy, to “expand” constitutional rights? (Oh, that’s right, ever since FDR stacked the Court with non-constructionists to get his way with the federal bureaucracy. My mistake.)
Expansion of constitutional rights is a duty assigned to the people, through their legislators in Congress and in their state bodies. Congressional rights are “expanded” through constitutional conventions, not through judicial activism. Such ignorance on the part of a majority of the American people is why our elected officials are able to get away with such foolish statements as that uttered above by Senator Leahy. Since basic civics are apparently not getting taught in our public schools any longer, how can we expect our citizens to fully comprehend how their government is supposed to work?
Here’s a little secret about conservatives and Roe v. Wade, just in case you’re wondering: not all conservatives are pro-life. I know this may come as a shock to the mouth-foamers on the Left, and even to those on the Right who like to walk around with blinders on, but it’s true. (Personally speaking, this conservative is pro-life.) Yet these same conservatives who are not pro-life oppose Roe v. Wade. Why? Because it came about in precisely the same way Senator Leahy seeks, based on his statement above: judicial fiat.
You would find far less vocal opposition from the Right if the right to an abortion was in the Constitution as a result of a constitutional convention, passed by the Congress, and two-thirds of the states. We wouldn’t like it, but at least we would know it was there as a result of the process set forth by the Founding Fathers, not arbitrarily created by men in black robes. For the expansion of rights to occur otherwise is to have, as The Federalist Patriot put it, “James Madison is rolling in his grave!”
One of the many negative consequences of America’s defeat in The Vietnam War has been the uncontrolled proliferation of Vietnams since then.
Nicaragua threatened to become another Vietnam. Lebanon nearly became another Vietnam. Had Grenada been only slightly larger than a manhole cover and lasted one more hour, it would have become a Caribbean-Style Vietnam. The invasion of Panama was rapidly degenerating into a Narco-Vietnam, right up until we won. Likewise, the First Gulf War was certainly developing into another Vietnam, but then sadly, it ended quickly and with few casualties.
For people of a certain age or political stripe, Vietnam is like Elvis: it’s everywhere. For example, during a long wait at a Chinese Buffet in Georgetown in 1987, Ted Kennedy was reported to have exclaimed “QUAGMIRE!” and attempted to surrender to a Spanish-speaking busboy.
And that was probably the smart thing to do, because the lesson of Vietnam is: it is best to lose quickly, so as to avoid a quagmire.
If you liked what our quick, casualty-saving withdrawal from Somalia did for us at the Khobar Towers, at our embassies in East Africa, at the waterline of the USS Cole, and at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then you’ll love what a quick “casualty-saving” withdrawal from Iraq will do for us for the next twenty years. It’ll finally make you stop worrying about Vietnam.
Read the entire column for Johnson’s thirteen edifying points, and stop saying every geopolitical event the United States gets involved in is going to disintegrate in to a Vietnamesque “quagmire.”
If you want to understand the Left, the best place to start is with an understanding of hysteria. Leading leftists either use hysteria as a political tactic or are actually hysterics.
Take almost any subject the Left discusses and you will find hysteria.
No event is free of leftist hysteria. On the third day after Katrina, civil rights activist Randall Robinson reported that blacks in New Orleans were resorting to cannibalism. Indeed, most of the news media coverage bordered on the hysterical. Not to mention the hysterical predictions of 10,000-plus dead in New Orleans.
But the irony in all of this is that the Left sees itself as the side that thinks intellectually and non-emotionally. And that is hysterical.
Stephen Moore, in today’s Political Diary:
There’s an old saying that the only Marxists left on the planet are found in the faculty lounges at America’s elite universities. Now the Leadership Institute has helped quantify the leftwing bias at our premier institutions of higher learning.
Its new report, “Deep Blue Campuses,” raked through Federal Election Commission records of political donations in 2004 by university faculty and found — surprise, surprise — that the vast preponderance of these donated dollars went to John Kerry for President. This is a free country, and donating to political candidates is, or at least should be, a protected expression of free speech. But this report blows through the facade that the political views of university faculty are in anyway representative of the general community.
For every dollar that the professors at the top 20 elite universities gave to George Bush, they gave $10 to John Kerry. The ratio at Princeton was $302 to Kerry for every dollar given to Bush. The ratio for Harvard was 25 to 1. At Yale and Penn, the ratio was greater than 20 to 1. At Dartmouth there wasn’t a single recorded donation to Bush.
These are more lopsided results than one finds in the phony elections in Castro’s Cuba and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Universities have become fanatically committed to the idea of “diversity” as an overriding objective on campus — diversity on the basis of income, religion, disability, race, gender, sexual orientation. But political diversity? When it comes to the kind of diversity that would seem to matter most for promoting debate, intellectual curiosity and free speech, there is apparently little tolerance for differing views. What is demanded is conformity. And our top universities suffer greatly as a result.
Their unhealthy hatred for Mr. Bush dates back to the 2000 election, which they — irrationally again — believe he stole from Mr. Gore. The fact is, Mr. Gore was trying to steal the election himself and almost succeeded, through one of the most egregious perversions of the rule of law in our nation’s history, by the Florida Supreme Court.
But the real source of their animus is even more basic. They resent him because he represents their expulsion from power over the executive branch, which the Clinton eight-year heyday should have ensured them in perpetuity.
You’ll recall that their “entitlement” to the legislative branch was stolen from them in 1994, which is one of the reasons they consider Newt Gingrich another personification of evil. Adding insult to cumulative injury, they’ve also lost their monopoly on the media over the last 15 years.
Ben Stein rips in to the media and Angry Left over the Katrina-is-Bush’s-fault blame game. You know it must be bad if it’s raising Ben’s ire.
Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman actually manages to take his rage over Katrina beyond the usual Angry Left argument of blaming the devil Bush. He also blames the devil Reagan:
The federal government’s lethal ineptitude wasn’t just a consequence of Mr. Bush’s personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn’t forthcoming?
The obvious objection is that Krugman has a cartoonish view of conservatism, which is anything but uniformly antigovernment (the Brooks/Kristol piece cited in the previous item elaborates this point). And while it’s true that Reagan described government as the problem, not the solution, 25 years ago, those words would be shockingly out of character if George W. Bush were to utter them.
The more interesting point is that Krugman’s implicit view of liberalism is about 35 years out of date. To put it bluntly, American liberals no longer believes in activist government. Oh, they believe in big government, but that’s a matter of feeding existing bureaucracies and interest groups. But suggest doing things differently—welfare reform, Social Security reform, the Patriot Act—and they have nothing to offer but fear, anger and hate.
Among the first complaints we heard when Katrina struck was that the government failed to respond because of (a) Iraq and (b) tax cuts. This is passive-aggressive politics, not activist government. Lyndon B. Johnson cut taxes and waged war both in Vietnam and on poverty. To be sure, LBJ’s administration was far from an unqualified success, but the point is that in those days liberals were confident—arguably overconfident—in the power of activist government.
To illustrate the point, consider some of the dour and whiny Democratic campaign slogans of the past two presidential campaigns: Lockbox. Risky scheme. Miserable failure. Two Americas. Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time. Let America be America again.
This is the problem with the modern Democratic Party: they are out of ideas. It would be one thing to have debates over Social Security reform if there was a comprehensive plan from the Democrats being offered as an alternative. It would be one thing if the Democrats could offer a clear blueprint for waging the war against the Islamofascist terrorists who wish us ill. They are doing neither, choosing instead to whine and complain about the administration and political party that is doing something.
Conservatives, when they are being honest, want the Left to bring something to the debate other than empty rhetoric. The current state of affairs isn’t good for anyone, as it will lead to complacency and stagnation in the realm of ideas. Persons within the Democratic Party need to have the fortitude to cast off the pockets of the Angry Left which have attached themselves like leeches to a formerly grounded organization. Until that happens, and they begin to offer reasonable alternatives instead of mouth-foaming hot air, they will continue to lose elections.
Brendan Miniter has a piece on OpinionJournal today on the opportunity New Orleans has with rebuilding its educational system, one of the worst in the nation. I can personally testify to how bad things are in some of the schools there; I spent a few days at a single elementary school, troubleshooting some classroom Macintosh-printer set-ups. The school’s HVAC system was offline, and had been for weeks. The teachers were mulling along as best they can, keeping the windows cracked so the rooms wouldn’t get stuffy, and running fans. You can imagine, however, trying to teach a bunch of third-graders with three or four box fans going at once.
Lack of funds was the reason for a less-timely repair of the system. I was there as an independent contactor, called out by the principal, because there was no one on the district’s IT staff with any Macintosh knowledge.
One aspect of rebuilding the New Orleans public school system that Miniter brings up is something I have long been in favor of: break the back of the teachers’ union. The myriad “education” unions in this country have only served to hinder the success of our children in public schools, and that is evident in New Orleans, and most of Louisiana. No, the teachers’ union is not the only problem with the school system, but if it is not providing a solution, it’s proving a hindrance.
As Miniter says, there is a unique opportunity in New Orleans now, and that is to build an educational system from the ground up. The Crescent City has a chance to be a beacon for the rest of the nation. We pray they seize it.
Apparently, it’s all Rich Galen’s fault.
Oh, and some is Terry Ebbert’s.
(Sorry, couldn’t resist the last. I’ll go back to sorting baby clothes now.)
Anthony Swofford’s book Jarhead, which I will not link to, was a sad account of a mentally disturbed—which Swofford admits to—man’s time in the Marine Corps and his deployment to the first Gulf War. Panned by myriad current and former Marines as riddled with half-truths, the book became a minor cause célèbre for the mouth-foamers on the angry Left. Anything that is anti-military, especially when it’s written by someone who was in the military, is always accepted as gospel by the radicals. Brad Torgersen has a good summation.
So of course the book was optioned for a motion picture, which debuts in November. Looking over the cast of characters, and knowing their politics, I’m not the least bit surprised to see who signed on. Non-mouth-foamers are advised to pass.
My wife grew up in Kenner, in Jefferson Parish. For you geographical neophytes, Jefferson is due west of Orleans Parish. If you’ve ever driven in to New Orleans from the west, or flown in to New Orleans International Airport, you’ve driven through Kenner and Jefferson Parish. My wife’s childhood home is certainly under a good bit of water at this point. Though we have no word from him yet, her father is north of Lake Pontchartrain, at his horse farm in Franklinton, so hopefully, we have no family worries, post-Katrina.
She has been very distressed, however. This was where she grew up. We lived in the area for six years. I grew up sixty-odd miles away in the Baton Rouge area. We have ties. We have friends. We feel despondent. I confessed to Tom earlier today that my heart aches.
My wife comes in to the study a few moments ago, to browse online news, and says:
“The only positive thing about all of this is that we haven’t heard Cindy Sheehan’s name in the past three days.”
So sayeth the Sheehan’s professionally choreographed media frenzy, as reported by someone who was at Camp Casey.
[Wave of the phin to my favorite Toad.]
Chuck Hagel, Senator, Nebraska-D:
“We should start figuring out how we get out of there,” Hagel said on “This Week” on ABC. “But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur.”
Follow the good Senator’s logic with us:
So according to the good Senator from Nebraska—who cannot be questioned because he has “absolute moral authority” as a Purple Heart-receiving Vietnam veteran—we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t, so we may as well damn millions of other people while we’re at it.
What the hell is wrong with people like Senator Hagel, that they wish to condemn millions of people to (a) the constant worry that the dictator’s secret police will whisk them off to a torture room (Saddam’s Iraq), or (b) sudden U.S. withdrawal will plunge them in to a hard-line Islamofascist government (Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Iran)?
The arguments over whether or not we should have gone in to Iraq are over, people. It’s done. There is no time machine, we can’t go back and change it. (And if we could, would you really? Can you honestly say the Iraqis are worse off now than under Saddam?)
It would be nice to bring most of the troops home. (Note, I did not say “all”. We should always maintain a presence in Iraq as we move in to the future.) However, we can not wholly withdraw overnight and allow the fledgling Iraqi republic to implode. The future of the United States is, for good or ill, now tied to the future of Iraq, and for the sons and daughters of both nations, we owe the Iraqis our continued support.
[Prompted and inspired by today’s Best of the Web.]
Like the March of Dimes’ victory against polio in the U.S., civil rights organizations can claim victory as well. At one time, black Americans did not enjoy the same constitutional guarantees as other Americans. Now we do. Because the civil rights struggle is over and won doesn’t mean that all problems have vanished within the black community. A 70 percent illegitimacy rate, 65 percent of black children raised in female-headed households, high crime rates and fraudulent education are devastating problems, but they’re not civil rights problems. Furthermore, their solutions do not lie in civil rights strategies.
Civil rights organizations’ expenditure of resources and continued focus on racial discrimination is just as intelligent as it would be for the March of Dimes to continue to expend resources fighting polio in the U.S. Like the March of Dimes, civil rights organizations should revise their agenda and take on the big, non-civil rights problems that make socioeconomic progress impossible for a large segment of the black community.
For the record, Dr. Williams is a black American, lest anyone accuse him of racial bias. (Which, no doubt, he’ll be accused of anyway.)
So sayeth the editors in this past Friday’s Federalist Patriot (link is a PDF):
The usual Demo-gogue suspects — Kennedy, Kerry and company — are increasing the tenor of their demands that the Bush administration commit to a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. A few misguided Republicans have even signed on to this legislative folly. Insisting that we cap our military support for the new Iraqi government is a dangerous political ploy intended to help Demos rally their peacenik constituency in the run-up to next year’s midterm elections. Dangerous, because challenging the administration to agree to a timetable only emboldens Jihadis, who would very much like to move the frontlines of the Long War from their turf to ours.
The Demos know President George Bush will not agree to such a timetable. As the president has said repeatedly, “Our exit strategy is to exit when our mission is complete.” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld protests that any such deadline for withdrawal would “throw a lifeline to terrorists.” Indeed, but it is always easier to sell anti-war rhetoric like “give peace a chance” than it is to advocate peace through superior firepower, and to use force in defense of critical U.S. national interests.
For eight long years, the Clinton administration pursued a policy of appeasement, particularly in regard to Middle Eastern policy and pursuit of Islamic terrorists. Terrorists were classified as mere “criminals” then, including those Jihadi fanatics who first bombed the WTC’s north tower in 1993, who bombed the Khobar Towers in 1996, who bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and who bombed the USS Cole in2000. Consequently, Clinton’s negligent inaction emboldened this enemy, and the result was a devastating attack on our homeland just months after the Bush administration took office in 2001.
“Peace” had its chance under Clinton, but President Bush made the difficult decision to give war a chance. Remarkably, the outcome has, to date, pre-empted any further attacks on U.S. soil — which was, after all, its primary objective. The transition from an ineffectual policy of containment to one of pre-emption was the most significant strategic military shift since WWII. To be sure, there have been setbacks, and President Bush bears a heavy and heartfelt burden for those uniformed Patriots who have given their lives to protect ours.
If we did check out of Iraq, as suggested by a growing chorus on the Left, al-Qa’ida and other Islamists will not only rule that nation — they will eventually control the entire region, with the possible exception of Israel. The “exit timetable” crowd knows this, but that hasn’t prevented them from using this issue as political fodder — and from using it to undermine support for our military personnel and our operations in the Middle East. Of course, this places both those personnel and our national security in peril.
One need only ask the exit advocates, “Exit where, and for how long?” Because we didn’t finish the job in Operation Desert Storm, we had to return with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Reality dictates that if we don’t finish the job now, we’ll have to return again, and likely at a far greater cost in terms of American lives.
Not only should we not set a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq, but we should seek to establish an alliance with the Iraqi government in order to maintain a strong military presence in the region. How long? As long as there are Islamofascists bent on detonating a nuclear device in some U.S. urban center and sending our nation into economic ruin.
According to The Patriot’s well-placed military and intelligence sources, one closely guarded objective in securing a free Iraq is to establish a forward-deployed presence in the Middle East — a presence that would certainly include personnel but whose primary component would be massive military-equipment depots that could be tapped for future rapid-deployment military operations in the region.
This forward-base objective is critical, given that it will ensure our military presence in the heart of Jihadistan, and an ability to project force in the region quickly without having to ramp up via sea and airlift. This alone will pay rich dividends by way of maintaining peace through preparedness.
The new Iraqi government will likely extend an invitation to the U.S. to establish two bases in southern Iraq now that, as you may recall, our friends the Saudis have expelled our fighting forces from their country. The proposed base locations are nowhere near Iraqi urban centers — which is to say, they are highly securable. We expect this new military presence to consist primarily of limited personnel, but with substantial assets transferred from bases in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
Of course, those who claim that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East is the problem will wail about the establishment of permanent base operations in the region. Fact is, however, until the last Israeli is dead and the West no longer dominates the world economy (and, thus, culture), Jihadis will not rest.
Previously, this column has outlined the nature of asymmetric threats like Islamist terrorist regimes — some given safe harbor by Islamic states, some seeking to create new Islamofascist states. (See the three-part series on U.S. national security at FederalistPatriot.US/Alexander) On the importance of our holding the frontline against Jihadistan in Iraq, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recently wrote: “The war in Iraq is less about geopolitics than about the clash of ideologies, culture and religious beliefs. Because of the long reach of the Islamist challenge, the outcome in Iraq will have an even deeper significance than that in Vietnam. If a Taliban-type government or a fundamentalist radical state were to emerge in Baghdad or any part of Iraq, shock waves would ripple through the Islamic world. Radical forces in Islamic countries or Islamic minorities in non-Islamic countries would be emboldened in their attacks on existing governments. The safety and internal stability of all societies within reach of militant Islam would be imperiled.”
Indeed, the safety and stability of the free world would be imperiled.
This is the Long War, Islamofascism is the enemy, and Iraq is the front line. If we are serious about pre-empting Jihadi terrorism (despite Demo political mischief), we must not abandon Iraq. Of course, if we follow the Kennedy and Kerry plan, Islamofascists, who will control the region, won’t have to attack on U.S. soil, they will just cut off U.S. oil — and bring the entire West to its knees — until it submits to Islam.
Of course, no Western political leader is going allow that scenario — not even Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder. These Jihadi cave dwellers, the Islamists who fly planes into buildings and bomb Iraqi children at open markets, don’t share Western (predominantly Judeo-Christian) values. To be sure, they have no compunction about reducing your standard of living to something less than their subsistence — and they will, given the opportunity.
OpinionJournal’s Best of the Web today has one aspect of Sheehan’s “protest” that I’ve found particularly amusing:
There’s One for You, Nineteen for Me
In a speech last week to the self-styled Veterans for Peace, Cindy Sheehan issued the following declaration:
Another thing that I’m doing is—my son was killed in 2004, so I’m not paying my taxes for 2004. If I get a letter from the IRS, I’m gonna say, you know what, this war is illegal; this is why this war is illegal. This war is immoral; this is why this war is immoral. You killed my son for this. I don’t owe you anything. And if I live to be a million, I won’t owe you a penny.
And I want them to come after me, because unlike what you’ve been doing with the war resistance, I want to put this frickin’ war on trial. And I want to say, “You give me my son, and I’ll pay your taxes.”
This has received less attention from Sheehan’s critics than many of her other pronouncements, perhaps because in the land of the Boston Tea Party, all of us harbor a little secret sympathy for tax protesters. But Sheehan’s gesture is even more empty than it appears, for you can’t just “not pay” your federal taxes.
According to Time magazine, before losing her job for absenteeism, Mrs. Sheehan worked for a government agency in Napa County, Calif. Presumably local governments in California do not pay their employees in cash, which means that estimated taxes would have been withheld from her paycheck.
So how exactly is she carrying out this protest? Did she file a frivolous return claiming a refund on all taxes due for 2004? It’s unlikely that the Internal Revenue Service would fall for such an obvious trick and issue a check. More likely, she simply is refusing to file a return—which is illegal, but which deprives the government only of taxes that were underpaid.
It is quite possible that Mrs. Sheehan overpaid her taxes. It’s not clear when she stopped working, but if it was before the end of 2004, then taxes were withheld under the assumption that she would be working for the entire year. Because the income tax system is progressive, the average annual tax rate is lower if a taxpayer works only part of the year. Moreover, by failing to file, she would forgo any deductions to which she is entitled, such as for mortgage interest or state and local taxes (and California is a high-tax state).
It is possible to reduce one’s withholdings by claiming nonexistent dependents on the IRS’s W4 form. But if we take Mrs. Sheehan at her word that her tax protest came in reaction to her son’s death rather than in anticipation of it, she would not have done this prior to earning the income in question.
The only way Mrs. Sheehan’s protest would amount to anything significant in financial terms would be if she had a large amount of taxable income from investments (à la Teresa Heinz Kerry)—and even then, her husband would have paid half the taxes on any assets they owned jointly.
One final wrinkle: U.S. servicemen are subject to withholding but not taxation on their military pay while stationed in a combat zone. That means that Casey Sheehan is entitled to a refund, which his parents, as his next of kin, could claim. It’s possible that the result of Mrs. Sheehan’s protest is that her fallen son ends up paying taxes he didn’t even owe on the money he earned helping bring freedom to Iraq.
I really feel sorry for Mrs. Sheehan, sorry the loss of her son, Casey. I feel sorry for her, that she’s allowing herself to be a tool of the anti-war mouth-foamers on the left, and that she has become one herself. War is a terrible, terrible thing, and I believe we did not enter in to this one lightly. There are clear, rational, logical reasons for the ousting of Saddam and reconstruction of Iraq in to a constitutional democracy. We may not see the fruit for decades. People in this country need to take a long-distance view of what we are trying to accomplish in the Middle East, and think of Germany and Japan after World War II, instead of how soon things get resolved on an episode of The West Wing.
Social Security is not a handout. Workers and employers contribute jointly through payroll taxes. Social Security had become part of the American economic fabric. And the Bush administration should stop treating Social Security as if it were just another government program.
What exactly is Social Security, Ms. Thomas, if not a handout? That’s exactly what it is. There are no “accounts”. There is no “lockbox”. The monies for Social Security go in to and come out of the general fund. The government robs Peter to pay Paul. It’s a handout.
Employers contribute nothing to Social Security. Just ask the millions of self-employed businesspeople in this country, who have to pay the full load. The “half” of Social Security employers “pay” is simply monies never seen by the employee. That’s one reason why more people aren’t up in arms over Social Security reform. They don’t understand how much of their money is going to this increasingly wasteful handout, because they never see that money in the first place. And even if that money was going to the employee, it would be going to some person, either the business owner or shareholders. Businesses never pay taxes. People do.
Finally, Social Security is “just another government program.” Like many such programs, it had its time, when it was needed, but that time is past. There are so many options out there for investors to save money through, that will offer greater returns than Social Security ever will. (Not to mention that with the increasing reduction in benefits people have seen over the decades, it’s not very secure, is it?)
Some pols need to have the guts to grandfather Social Security and kill it. It’s the only reasonable and sane thing to do so our great-grandchildren aren’t having to deal with it.
Meanwhile, Democrat leaders want to have it both ways. Some say we should withdraw from Iraq. Others demand that we add many more troops, while simultaneously complaining about the enormity of the federal deficit (despite the recent good news on this front, by the way).
Democrats condemn the president for “nation building” and intermeddling, yet insist we micromanage the Iraqi constitutional drafting process to ensure American-type civil rights for women (which, of course, is laudable). Along with the press they shamelessly prop up and exploit a grieving mother to serve as a sympathetic vehicle to carry their inane conspiratorial charges against the president with total disregard for how that demoralizes our troops and undermines our cause.
“[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore…never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market.” —Thomas Jefferson
The term you’re looking for here is “rolling over in his grave.”
Ben Shapiro takes aim at the anti-war mouth-foamers on the left.
Tolerating intolerance, goodhearted people are beginning to see, does not necessarily produce tolerance in turn.
Multiculturalism is based on the lie that all cultures are morally equal. In practice, that soon degenerates to: All cultures are morally equal, except ours, which is worse. But all cultures are not equal in respecting representative government, guaranteed liberties and the rule of law. And those things arose not simultaneously and in all cultures, but in certain specific times and places — mostly in Britain and America, but also in various parts of Europe.
In America, as in Britain, multiculturalism has become the fashion in large swathes of our society. So the Founding Fathers are presented only as slaveholders, World War II is limited to the internment of Japanese-Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima. Slavery is identified with America, though it has existed in every society and the antislavery movement arose first among English-speaking evangelical Christians.
But most Americans know there is something special about our cultural heritage. While Harvard and Brown are replacing scholars of the founding period with those studying other things, book-buyers are snapping up first-rate histories of the Founders by David McCullough, Joseph Ellis and Ron Chernow.
Mutilculturalist intellectuals do not think our kind of society is worth defending. But millions here and increasing numbers in Britain and other countries know better.
I felt “The Patriot Perspective” from today’s Federalist Patriot (PDF file) was worth reprinting.
Spitting on The Few, The Proud…
Upon entering a fine Southern high school with a long and honorable history as a military academy, this columnist’s next nine months would be marked by the official indoctrination (and unofficial hazing) that attended freshman years at most such academies. It was September of 1970. A year later, however, this school, like many others across the nation, did an about-face and abandoned its military tradition. It seemed that public opinion of military service, and thus, parental enthusiasm for military feeder academies, had changed dramatically in the course of just a few years.
Prior to 1967, military service and tradition were still considered good and honorable. But by 1972, acrid protests against our military campaign on the Cold War front in Southeast Asia had taken a heavy toll. Elitist politicos like George McGovern, glitterati like Jane Fonda, John Kerry, et al., along with their Leftmedia propaganda machine, had overturned public support for the defense of South Vietnam and, by extension, support for anyone in a military uniform. There were no more ticker-tape parades welcoming troops home, but plenty of seething glares, name-calling and spitting from “enlightened youth” and their protagonists who tagged all military personnel persona non grata.
Fast-forward about three decades.
After 9/11, America was virtually, and rightly, united behind President George Bush’s campaign against Jihadistan and its asymmetric threat vectors such as al-Qa’ida. Now that support has begun to unravel, however — not because there are 58,000 casualties as there were in Vietnam, but because, once again, as America’s finest are defending liberty at home by promoting freedom in critical regions abroad, the storm clouds of Leftist dissent are gathering. Once again, anti-American protests by political opportunists, Hollywonk elitists and the Leftmedia’s (now 24-7-365) talkingheads, are taking a heavy toll.
Perhaps the earliest evidence of waning public support for the Long War against Jihadistan is the recruiting difficulty for our “all-volunteer” Armed Services. Army recruiters have fallen short of their goals for four of the last five months and may fall well short of their annual objective of 80,000 enlistments, with only two months left in this fiscal year. This will be the first time since 1999 that the recruiting goal has not been met. Guard and Reserve recruitments have also fallen short for the other service branches.Military planners may ask Congress to authorize raising the age limit for Army active-duty service from 35 to 40, and authority to double the enlistment bonus for high-priority recruits (intelligence, infantry, special operations, civil affairs, and linguists) from $20,000 to $40,000. But this is not likely to offset the damage inflicted upon the image of military service by the Left.
Of course, part of the problem is that military service is, as it has always been, tough. But most active duty and reserve personnel are dedicated warriors who complain little.
The real obstacle to the enlistment of new recruits is the desecration of the image of military service by the Fifth Column — the enemy within. The American anti-war movement, led by neo-McGovernites such as DNC Chairman Howard Dean and lawmakers Kucinich, Kennedy and Kerry has not been able to find legs. So rather than target “war,” these malcontents have rallied their minions to undertake counter-recruitment measures, figuring that a nation can’t fight a war without warriors. (Of course, it can’t defend itself either — but the Left refuses to acknowledge that liberating Afghanistan and Iraq, and keeping Syria and Iran at bay, is relevant to our national defense.)
Doing the bidding of big dogs like Dean and the aforementioned KKK are their radical allied organizations like the Campus Antiwar Network, Code Pink for Peace, the Ruckus Society, Earth First, United for Peace and Justice and the Society of American Law Teachers, to name a few. These organizations and a hundred more like them are surrogates for the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League and The American Friends Service Committee. Their objective is to undermine recruitment efforts by labeling anyone interested in military service persona non grata. It’s deja vu all over again.
Periodic Leftmedia feeding frenzies over alleged “abuse” at places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay add fuel to protestors’ efforts to debase military service by equating those in uniform with terrorists. Extending this equation, some of these groups are now deplorably suggesting that American casualties are justified because “freedom fighters” in Iraq are defending themselves against American invaders. (Rhetorical memo to the anti-war Left: What kind of “freedom fighter” detonates a bomb-laden SUV amid a group of Iraqi children receiving candy and toys from U.S. soldiers?)
The emergence of these cadres of Leftist agitators is a serious threat to U.S. national security. Their efforts to undermine the honor of military service in an effort to deter recruitment efforts should not be underestimated.
Predictably, where anti-American sentiments flourish, Jane Fonda can’t be far behind. This week, Hanoi Jane announced plans for a protest tour on buses fueled by vegetable oil to suggest the current conflict in the Middle East is only a “war for oil.” “I have not taken a stand on any war since Vietnam,” Fonda said. “I carry a lot of baggage from that.” (Click here to see some of that baggage, as “Hanoi Jane” mounts an NVA anti-aircraft gun about 100 yards from the “Hanoi Hilton,” where American POWs were being tortured. “It’s another example of the government lying to the American people in order to get us into war,” Fonda says of the liberation of Iraq.
Of course, it is Fonda who is lying to the American people.
Take note, Hanoi Jane and all you counter-recruiters endeavoring to denigrate military service — ditto to Dean and KKK, who exploit the murder of military personnel as political fodder to undermine public support for a Republican administration in advance of midterm elections: Your actions are tantamount to spitting on not only those who wear our nation’s military uniform, but those who have died in it.
Indeed, news about Fonda’s shameless antics was overshadowed this week by the tragic death of uniformed Patriots in Iraq: 21 Marines (20 of them attached to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines based in Ohio) and eight Soldiers were killed, and others wounded, in roadside bombings and other ambushes by Islamofascist death squads.
Sergeant Justin Hoffman of Delaware, Ohio, was among the fallen. His father, Robert Hoffman, said that Justin believed in the cause he was fighting for, and he challenged his fellow Americans to support the mission in Iraq through its completion. “I have some real doubts whether Americans will stand tall and follow through on it,” Mr. Hoffman said. “It needs to be done, and if they don’t, it’ll be a real disgrace to the lives that were sacrificed.”
If America does not stand firm, there will be many more lives sacrificed — and on American soil.
“The Word of God is like cool water from a canteen,” said retired Marine Corps Commandant Charles C. Krulak. “During the most difficult times, it brings relief and a feeling of renewal that allows us…to accomplish any mission set before us.” To that end, please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces, and especially for the families of our fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who have died in defense of American liberty while prosecuting the war with Jihadistan.
In their honor, and that of all Patriots standing watch today, we must not allow the Left, in pursuit of their self-serving agendas, to once again treat military uniforms as spittoons. The re-emergence of counter-recruiting/anti-war cadres should be rejected with prejudice.
If you had any doubts that the FAA’s (see post title for definition of acronym) flight regulations regarding anti-terrorism were completely insane, there’s this, courtesy of the Air Finance Journal:
Before deploying from Savannah, Georgia to Iraq by a chartered airliner, the troops of the 48th Brigade Combat Team, a National Guard unit, had to go through the same security checks as any other passengers. Lt. Col. John King, the unit’s commander, told his 280 fellow soldiers that FAA anti-hijacking regulations require passengers to surrender pocket knives, nose hair scissors and cigarette lighters. “If you have any of those things,” he said, almost apologetically, “put them in this box now.” The troops were, however, allowed to keep hold of their assault rifles, body armour, helmets, pistols, bayonets and combat shotguns.
[Via Political Diary, emphasis added. —R]
If you didn’t hear Nancy Pelosi’s press conference yesterday, you missed the pure sound of a loser who will never be anything but a loser because she cannot get above her own bitterness to ask what it is that allows the president to keep winning hand after hand.
(The press conference in question was held on Thursday, 28 July.)
So a journalist from the Washington Post calls Hugh Hewitt, asking for an interview. Sure, replies Hugh. But it has to be on the air, live. Journalist declines. Hugh posits:
Isn’t journalism supposed to be in the public interest? If Goldstein wants information from me, and I am willing to give it to her, isn’t she putting her own interests in a “scoop” or an “angle” ahead of the public’s by refusing to conduct an interview she thought would be useful in the first place? And isn’t she going forward with a story she knows may well be unnecessarily incomplete because she doesn’t like the fact that her questions and my answers would have been on the record?
I of course want my listeners to get a chance if not to see the sausage that is MSM “news” being made, at least hear it being ground fine. I had hoped to compare whatever I was able to provide Ms. Goldstein with whatever it is that she publishes on the subject. Interesting all around, no?
But she declined to conduct the interview she requested. How interesting to note that the Post is willing to use sources that insist on anonymity, but not sources that demand transparency.
[Emphasis added. —R]
This is the third and final part of a series on national security run in the pages of The Federalist Patriot. This part can be found in today’s issue (PDF file), and is reprinted here with permission.
U.S. National Security: The Long War or the Short Surrender
In the 1990’s, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was a new sense of security in the West, particularly in the U.S. But the Free World had unwittingly traded the Cold War for the Long War — “unwittingly” because after eight years of Clinton administration antics, and eight months of the newly-installed Bush administration’s effort to reorder national priorities, most Americans were unaware that another deadly enemy had coalesced in our midst.
That false sense of security terminated abruptly on 11 September 2001, when one of this enemy’s brigades attacked the World Trade Center — for the second time. The first WTC attack on 26 February 1993 was treated by the Clinton administration as a “criminal act.” Subsequent attacks by this enemy against Khobar Towers, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole were also investigated as criminal acts. The same would have been true after 9/11, except that President George Bush had the resolve to call this attack what it was — an “act of war” — terrorism carried out by an asymmetric enemy calling itself “al-Qa’ida” (The Base), which was part of an international unified Islamic terrorist network supported, in part, by nation states like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
This was a new kind of war, but it was war nonetheless.
Unlike symmetric threats emanating from clearly defined nation states like Russia and China — nation states with unambiguous political, economic and geographical interests — this asymmetric enemy defies nation-state status, thus presenting new and daunting national-security challenges for the executive branch and U.S. military planners.
Perhaps the most difficult of these challenges is the task of keeping Americans focused on why this asymmetric threat must be engaged (short of periodic catastrophic wake-up calls). Unfortunately, in deference to sensitivity and diversity, the Bush administration has yet to use the words “Muslim” or “Islamic” when attempting to define or, dare we say, “profile” this enemy. But the Bush administration, and the administrations of our Allies, depend on public support to prosecute the Long War ahead with Islamists.
Targeting al-Qa’ida and its Saudi protagonist Osama bin Laden may have initially precluded diminishing public support for the so-called “War on Terror,” but protests against operations in Iraq and elsewhere are taxing morale both at home and on the warfront. Only two things can curtail this retreat. Either the Bush administration can do a better job of defining this enemy and its lethality, or the enemy can hit us again — and as noted in parts I and II of this series, this enemy has the potential to hit much harder than it did on 9/11.
The latter is assured if the former fails.
President Bush must rightly define this enemy as Islamist zealots of Jihadistan, a borderless nation of Islamic extremists constituted by al-Qa’ida and other Muslim terrorist groups, calling for jihad, or “holy war,” against “all the enemies of Allah.” (If you’re reading this, you are likely a non adherent — and an enemy of Allah.) These Jihadis seek to disable the U.S. economy using any means at their disposal, and thus, undermine our political, military and cultural influence around the world. Ultimately, they want to contain or kill those who do not subscribe to their Islamofascist cult of hate.
The President must also convince our countrymen of the certainty that against Jihadistan, there is no neat Cold War doctrine like Mutually Assured Destruction to stay offensive measures. In this war, the only doctrine that can keep the enemy at bay is that of preemption — and it must be maintained as long as there are Islamists capable of doing the West harm.
President Bush told the nation, “This is a long war, and we have a comprehensive strategy to win it. We’re taking the fight to the terrorists abroad, so we don’t have to face them here at home. We’re denying our enemies sanctuary, by making it clear that America will not tolerate regimes that harbor or support terrorists.”
Indeed, it will be a long war, and his Doctrine of Pre-emption is the best directive for strategy. But short of clear public comprehension of what constitutes “the enemy,” which is a prerequisite to sustained public support, this essential war will be short-circuited, and Jihadis will, once again, move the warfront to our homeland.
There are plenty of domestic enemies who would undermine public support for the war against Jihadistan for purely political reasons. After all, there are midterm elections in 2006 and a presidential election in 2008. Rep. Nancy Pelosi claims, “The president’s frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments. He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of September 11, knowing that there is no connection between September 11 and the war in Iraq.”
Sen. Harry Reid (who voted for Operation Iraqi Freedom) says, “The president’s numerous references to September 11 did not provide a way forward in Iraq. … ‘Staying the course,’ as the president advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek.”
John Kerry alleges that President Bush has fabricated a “third rationale” for the war: “The first, of course, was weapons of mass destruction. The second was democracy. And now…it’s to combat the hotbed of terrorism.”
The President, in the national interest, must take the offensive against these opportunistic detractors in order to restore public support and confidence in the Long War. For we can be certain that this war will last beyond his presidency. Just how long might it last? That depends, in part, on how one defines its origin.
If the war began in 627 AD, five years after Islam’s founding, when Mohammed committed his first genocide against a Jewish tribe, then the war is an epic struggle between Islam and other religions, especially against Jews and Christians, which is to say its conclusion is not foreseeable. If the war is an extension of the middle-age invasions of the West by rapacious Islam, whether the start date is the victory of Charles Martel at Tours (732 AD), the back and forth of Crusades (1095-1669) or defeats like Constantinople (1453 AD), the siege of Vienna (1529 AD), the fleet at Lepanto (1571 AD), or the gates Venice (1683 AD), then the war is a clash of civilizations which likely has centuries of conflict yet ahead.
But if the war against Jihadistan began, as suggested here, on 11 September 2001, taking into account that Jihadi attacks on Western targets date back to the 1960s, then it will likely continue for decades. After all, it took 70 years to topple the Evil Empire.
“Our generational commitment to the advancement of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq,” says President Bush. As we approach the fourth observance of 9/11, we can be sure that Pelosi, Reid, Kerry, Kennedy and their Leftist cadre will run a masterful campaign of disinformation. Such a campaign will surely test the resolve of the American people, and the Bush administration would be well advised to begin vigorously cultivating public support by forthrightly defining this mortal enemy.
The Long War may yet end on a day when the West and its beacon of liberty, these United States, surrender. Of course, the consequences of surrender will be much worse than the consequences of the war itself, but a free nation must be free to do as its collective will chooses — even it that means choosing to lose.
For the duration, pray that our capability to defend the U.S. on more than one theater warfronts while prosecuting the long war against Jihadistan is not tested.
How can anyone, including the Kool-Aid drinkers on the Left, honestly take Howard Dean seriously when he says tripe like this?
“The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is ‘okay’ to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is,” Dean said…
First, the President has not, to my knowledge, commented publicly on the Kelo decision. The only thing I found at the White House site referring to Kelo was when someone asked Press Secretary Scott McClellan about the campaign by a California advertising magnate to acquire Justice Souter’s home in New Hampshire so he can build a hotel on it.
Second, how much dope does one have to grow and smoke in the hills of Vermont to say the current make-up of the Supreme Court is “right-wing”? The dissenters in Kelo were the Court’s acknowledged conservatives, Chief Justice Rehnquist, and Justices Scalia and Thomas. The left’s favorite swing-vote justice, O’Connor, was the fourth dissenter. The justices voting against property rights were all from the left, the same side of the political spectrum Dr. Dean-mento inhabits.
Why is no one in the mainstream media pointing this out? Sorry, sorry, rhetorical question, I realize…
Senator Rick Santorum, (R-PA):
A generation ago, liberals figured out something that most conservatives couldn’t have dreamed of in their worst nightmare. A few well-positioned autocrats can do what most Americans thought, and the Constitution says, takes two-thirds of the Congress and three-quarters of the state legislatures to do: namely, change the Constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean. The plan was simple. Put justices on the Supreme Court, backed up by lower court judges, to “modernize” our Constitution by fiat, with the claim that Supreme Court decisions, whether based on the words of the Constitution or not, have the same status as the Constitution itself.
How often do we hear that our founding compact needs to be a living, breathing document whose meaning changes with the times? Never mind what the words of our Constitution actually say; never mind the clear intent of the Constitution’s writers and signers; never mind two hundred years of judicial interpretation; never mind the centuries-old wisdom of the common law: We are much wiser today than our predecessors. Or so goes the liberal boast. In fact, it is said, we are now able to see just what they were “getting at” even better than they could — as if the U.S. Constitution were only a “nice try” at a plan of government.
Yesterday’s Federalist Patriot (PDF file) contained part two of the series on U.S. National Security. Titled “Homeland Defense,” it discusses the steps taken since 9/11, including the Patriot Act, and looks forward. I’ve reprinted it below.
In Part I of this series, we identified the primary asymmetric national-security threat to the U.S. and its interests and allies around the world: Zealots of Jihadistan, that borderless nation of Islamic extremists constituted by al-Qa’ida and other Muslim terrorist groups, calling for jihad, or “holy war,” against “all the enemies of Allah” — that’s you.
As Congress debated the merits of the USA Patriot Act earlier this week, Jihadis reminded U.K. citizens, and the free world (again) that they have deep-cover terrorist cells in the West which are determined to do us harm. To date, none of the attacks have been as devastating as 9/11, but Jihadis will strike the U.S. again, and hard.
As first noted by The Patriot three years ago, the FBI calculates there is a high probability that homicide bombers, like those who hit London two weeks ago, will target U.S. commercial centers. However, both our military and intelligence sources estimate that far more devastating attacks are on the horizon, indicating it is only a matter of time until domestic Jihadi cells take delivery of fissile weapons (if they have not already) using Russian cores and Iraqi or Iranian technology previously acquired with assistance from Syria by al-Qa’ida. Those estimates indicate Jihadi targets are urban centers in the Northeast and/or in Southern California. Make no mistake, time is on their side.
How do we defend against this imminent threat?
Given that Jihadistan defies the tangible elements and definable characteristics of symmetric threats like uniformed leagues fighting for clear geographic and economic interests, the best defense against this ideological enemy is an effective offense in an attempt to define a warfront. President George Bush’s doctrine of preemption in Afghanistan and Iraq, and precision strikes against Jihadis in numerous other locations, which remain classified, has done that, to the degree possible. Creating a warfront on their turf is essential — “taking the fight to the enemy,” as Mr. Bush says. (The doctrine of preemption is the subject of Part III of this series, “The Long War,” next week.)
Given the fact that there are Jihadis already staged in American urban centers (like those who struck on 9/11), terrorists who will take, or already have taken, delivery of devastating fissile weapons, the U.S. must have a capable tactical and strategic homeland defense, one that is not hamstrung by obsolete constraints instituted when the primary national-security threats were external and symmetric — the USSR and China.
To interdict this internal threat, President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, reorganized the intelligence community, re-directed certain military assets to supplement homeland defense, and enlisted the support of Congress to pass the USA Patriot Act, which enhanced the ability of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to investigate and track potential terrorists.
Additionally, the administration has enhanced security at coastlines, borders and ports of entry, but (despite a relentless chorus to the contrary) our borders cannot be made sufficiently secure to stop the infiltration of terrorists and their weapons; thus “border security” is not a panacea for containing this threat.
Domestic Jihadi sleeper cells in the U.S., many of which were seeded prior to 9/11, are virtually invisible, supported by hordes of Islamists in domestic mosques, Islamic schools and associations, and other domestic breeding grounds for Islamist hatred. The two most important tools in our domestic inventory to detect and prosecute these cells are DHS and law-enforcement agencies empowered by the Patriot Act — though neither, ultimately, will provide complete protection from the Jihadi threat.
To that end, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff has completed his “Second Stage Review,” a comprehensive assessment of the Department’s missions, organization and resources, and he has outlined plans to restructure the Department based on this review. Implementation of these plans will allow DHS to implement protocols more effectively to protect commerce, transportation and infrastructure. “Our department must drive improvement with a sense of urgency,” Chertoff says. “Our enemy constantly changes and adapts, so we as a department must be nimble and decisive.”
Mr. Chertoff plans to create an intelligence directorate to aggregate terrorism analysis from law-enforcement and intelligence agencies and will focus DHS resources primarily on prevention of catastrophic nuclear, chemical or biological threats as outlined above. DHS will also launch the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN-Secret) to share pertinent classified information with state and local homeland-security and law-enforcement agencies. DHS will also implement more stringent immigration and worker-permit procedures.
The most critical defense against the Jihadi threat is the ability of law-enforcement agencies to function within the full limits of their constitutional authority when investigating and prosecuting these terrorist threats. The Patriot Act, as passed by overwhelming majorities of the House and Senate in 2001, clearly defines that authority and removes obstacles which prevented law-enforcement and intelligence agencies from cooperating in these investigations.
Since its passage, more than 400 suspects have been arrested as a result of federal terrorism investigations, and most of them were convicted. Terrorist cells have been dismantled in New York, Oregon, Virginia and Florida, and their support groups have been prosecuted in California, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio.
In December of this year, 16 critical provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire. Fortunately, the House has reauthorized 14 of those provisions with 10-year sunset provisions on the remaining two. The Senate will take up this measure in the fall.
Congressional debate is needed because there are legitimate civil-liberty concerns and, accordingly, The Patriot supports the sunset provisions, but in the estimation of our legal scholars and national-security analysts, stalling legislation over those concerns does not outweigh the risk of catastrophic terrorist attacks.
President Bush, calling on the Senate to renew these provisions, warned, “As we wage the war on terror overseas, we’ll remember where the war began — right here on American soil. In our free and open society, there is no such thing as perfect security. To protect our country, we have to be right 100 percent of the time. To hurt us, the terrorists have to be right only once.” Deputy Attorney General James Comey testified before Congress: “You want to catch a terrorist with his hands on the check instead of his hands on the bomb. You want to be many steps ahead of the devastating event. The way we do that is through preventive and disruptive measures, by using investigative tools to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, and then incapacitating a target at the right moment.”
The Senate should not delay renewal of all these provisions because they enable investigators to use the same methods to investigate terrorists that are now used in routine criminal investigations, and they authorize investigators to track computer espionage and cyber-terrorism. To address civil-liberty concerns, the Patriot Act comports with constitutional constraints, requiring, for example, a federal judge’s approval to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, to track his calls, or to search his property.
Congressional Democrats have attempted to hold critical Patriot Act provisions hostage as political fodder, and the consequences of their folly could be catastrophic.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., in today’s Political Diary:
Based on scanty headlines, today’s disruptions in London suggest somebody may be trying to demonstrate just how little it takes to shut down a modern city’s public transport network. Early reports indicate smoke bombs and the like, with few serious casualties. Who knows, but let’s riff anyway: Sooner or later, it was bound to develop that the target of Britain’s homegrown Muslim radicals isn’t British foreign policy or U.S. “imperialism.” The targets are British Muslims themselves and their peaceful relations with the rest of British society. The goal is to make all Muslims suspect in the eyes of their fellow Britons, to punish those Muslims who favor quiet assimilation, to make their lives impossible.
We’re talking about something quite different than the Osama bin Laden dream of mega attacks that unite the Muslim world in a showdown with Christendom. Today’s attacks seem more attuned to the Zarqawi playbook in Iraq — and, for that matter, Tamil tactics in Sri Lanka, IRA tactics in Northern Ireland, etc. Domestic terrorists are usually trying to drive a wedge of fear between one ethnic community and the larger society. Whatever the facts behind today’s incidents, British Muslims may have to get used to the idea that they are being deliberately placed in the line of fire by their radical fellow Muslims, with the hope of defeating their intent to live happily, successfully and peacefully amidst a larger, polyglot world. This is their fight too, and perhaps most of all.
Mark Yost, St. Paul Pioneer Press:
I’m reminded of why I became a journalist by the horribly slanted reporting coming out of Iraq. Not much has changed since the mid-1980s. Substitute “insurgent” for “Sandinista,” “Iraq” for “Soviet Union,” “Bush” for “Reagan” and “war on terror” for “Cold War,” and the stories need little editing. The U.S. is “bad,” our enemies “understandable” if not downright “good.”
I know the reporting’s bad because I know people in Iraq. A Marine colonel buddy just finished a stint overseeing the power grid. When’s the last time you read a story about the progress being made on the power grid? Or the new desalination plant that just came on-line, or the school that just opened, or the Iraqi policeman who died doing something heroic? No, to judge by the dispatches, all the Iraqis do is stand outside markets and government buildings waiting to be blown up.
I also get unfiltered news from Iraq through an e-mail network of military friends who aren’t so blinded by their own politics that they can’t see the real good we’re doing there. More important, they can see beyond their own navel and see the real good we’re doing to promote peace and prosperity in the world. What makes this all the more ironic is the fact that the people who are fighting and dying want to stay and the people who are merely observers want to cut and run.
Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Democrats and the rest of the Left, the President stuck to his guns and nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. The not-so-loyal opposition has already begun to put its foot in its mouth, as the President dares them to raise a ruckus over a nominee they unanimously confirmed two years ago to the appellate bench.
Hinderaker’s take on Leahy/Schumer:
[I]t was fun to see Pat Leahy and Chuck Schumer on television tonight; they looked just awful. After President Bush’s terrific, upbeat presentation of Roberts, and Roberts’ graceful, brief talk, Leahy and Schumer sounded like they had just dropped in from another planet. They were dour, hateful, and came across as sad and pathetic minions who have been sent on a hopeless mission by their bosses at “People for the American Way.”
Hugh thinks the Roberts’ nomination is a “home run,” and from what I’ve read, it sounds that way. Let’s just hope and pray fifteen to twenty years from now, he’s still in the Rehnquist-Scalia-Thomas mold, and not drifting aimlessly as O’Connor ended.
Reader Reply, The Federalist Patriot, Monday, 18 July 2005, No. 05-29 Brief:
“Not only are we feeding these Jihadis well, but the U.S. is currently providing the terrorists residing at Club Gitmo, with prayer beads, Qurans, prayer rugs, muslim ‘kosher’ food, and calls to prayer five times a day over loud speaker. Can someone tell me why the ACLU is not filing a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld for using taxpayers dollars to promote a specific religion at government expense on government property?? Oh, pardon me…I forgot about ‘double standard’ trademark of left wing liberals!!!” —reader in Yuma, Arizona
The president and those who wish to see the Constitution restored to its “original intent” need to reteach it if they are to overcome the liberal orthodoxy expressed by the late Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and echoed recently by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that “the Constitution is what the judges say it is.”
Try that at the supermarket. Is a pound what the shopper says it is, or do scales, which rely on a standard, determine a pound’s true weight? Would we get away with telling a police officer who pulls us over for speeding, “I decided that 70 miles per hour is 55 for me”?
Why, then, this constantly changing Constitution that is in the minds of liberals to be altered like a suit of clothes to fit the wearer, rather than a document to which all must conform if the general welfare is to be promoted?
It is because those revisionists know they can’t use the legislative process to ram through any of their social engineering ideas. … They know the people (with the possible exception of a majority in Massachusetts) would vote them out of office and so they turn to unelected judges, appointed for life, to do their ideological dirty work for them.
If the Constitution is to again be seen as a finished document that has been refinished in recent years, the president must foreswear any talk of “moderation” and “conciliation” in his choice of court nominees. Truth cannot be moderated.
The president owes the country an ideological battle, which he can win if he is willing to fight it. By virtue of his office, he commands attention unavailable to anyone else. He should not only campaign for his nominee(s), he should act like a teacher, quoting the Federalist Papers and the Constitution and making his case that this great document served America well until some judges began tampering with it.
So what’s amazing isn’t the number of attacks we’ve lived through — it’s the lack of attacks. September, 2001. Bali, Indonesia, October 2002. Madrid, Spain, March 2004. Now London, July 2005. On average the terrorists seem able only to strike once a year. And note the death tolls: U.S., some 3,000. Bali, 202. Madrid, 191. London, about 50.
Now, if terrorists could strike more often, of course they would. If they could kill more people in each strike, of course they would. So it’s reasonable to conclude that, since so much time goes by between attacks and since fewer people are killed in each attack, our policies toward terrorism are working.
What are those policies? Well, fighting back, for one.
As eight of the most powerful world leaders were convening in Gleneagles, Scotland for the G8 Summit trying to figure out how to battle poverty, salvage human lives, stop the AIDS epidemic in Africa and keep our globe from warming … what does militant Islam do to help? Well, they set off four bombs in the heart of London killing 50+ people and seriously injuring over 700.
David Limbaugh reveals the Democrats’ plan to paint constitutional originalists as “extremists”:
They are hoping to convince the people that any nominee who is reputed to be an originalist is an extremist — “outside the broad mainstream.” Because they view the Court as a co-equal policy-making branch of government, they are treating the confirmation process as another national election.
Their bogus praise for O’Connor is simply the first step in their ruse. By lauding her as a “mainstream conservative,” they lay the groundwork for labeling anyone less activist than her an extremist.
There is an idiom in the sports world that “a win is a win is a win.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’ve beaten your opponent by 50 points or one. It doesn’t matter if you win the race by .0001 of a second, or if you blow away the field, with the rest a full lap behind you. A win is a win is a win.
So, in the case of politics, is a majority a majority a majority. It doesn’t matter if the majority is 80-20, 70-30, or 50.1-49.9. A majority is a majority is a majority.
I only bring this up because there is no apparent end to the pitiful whining eminating from the political left. I suppose when you have nothing constructive to offer the nation, the best you can do is complain about what the party in power is doing, without offering any alternatives whatsoever.
Jeff has delivered, in few words and using simple math so the left can keep up, a majority primer on why the Republicans have a large enough majority to legitimately run the country.
Nancy Pelosi, on the Kelo decision:
It is a decision of the Supreme Court. If Congress wants to change it, it will require legislation of a level of a constitutional amendment. So this is almost as if God has spoken. It’s an elementary discussion now. They have made the decision.
The Supreme Court is not the end-all, be-all of what is legal or not in this country. Does no one remember anything from their basic civics class? If the Supreme Court can willy-nilly declare whatever they like unconstitutional or constitutional, where is the system of “checks and balances” we all learned about? Yes, the Court is to act as a check and balance on the other two branches, but likewise, the executive and legislative branches act as checks and balances on the Supreme Court.
There shouldn’t have to be a constitutional amendment on the part of the legislature to overturn Kelo, Ms. Pelosi, because the Court’s decision is unconstitutional and wrong. It’s right there in Amendment number five of the Bill of Rights. New corporate structures to provide increased tax revenue fails to qualify in every way, shape, or form of the “public good” in the eyes of the Founding Fathers.
I am quite proud to say I did not watch a single second of the incredibly vapid, colossal waste of time and public airwaves that was Live 8. Rick Moran, on the other hand, did watch it, and gets what Geldof and crew do not:
The idea that “raising awareness” of Africa’s plight will save starving children is absurd. In order to save those children, you don’t have to snap your fingers, what you need is wholesale regime changes in 2 dozen or more countries where governments use starvation as the weapon of choice against rebelious populations. Africa’s problem is not lack of food. It is not a lack of arable land, or water resources, or agricultural know-how (they’ve been farming in Africa since before the Egyptians got themselves organized). At bottom, Africa’s problem is, well, Africans. Embracing the socialist doctrines of the old Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1970’s and 80’s, the grandiose schemes and huge development projects undertaken with some of the $220 billion in western aid that has gone to the continent since the 1960’s proved to be boondoggles of the first magnitude.
Dam building for electricity that nobody needs or can use is just one small example. What isn’t known and probably can never be calculated is the out and out theivery of aid funds by African leaders, their families, their extended families, their cronies, and the western companies who are forced into kickback schemes in order to win contracts with this human daisy chain of graft and corruption.
Which makes Live 8 about as relevant to helping solve Africa’s problems as the activities of the masked anarchists who are gleefully running around Edinburgh smashing windows and torching automobiles as if to prove the efficacy of corporal punishment denied them when they were children.
All something like Live 8 does is alleviate whatever guilt those who organize and participate may be feeling about the problem. Personally, I’m making a difference in Africa, one child at a time. His name is Emmanuel, he lives in Tanzania, and though he is five years older, he shares a birthday with my son.
I don’t share this to get a pat on the back; I share it to say you don’t need a bunch of celebs cavorting on stage, “raising awareness,” to personally make a difference. Not to mention that Geldof and crew would never tell you about Compassion, World Vision, the Barnabas Fund, Mercy Ships, or myriad other organizations which have been making a difference for years.
How many meals could be provided, through organizations already on the ground, by the multi-carat diamond necklace Madonna was wearing, if she weren’t so busy flipping off the world? Angelina Jolie aside, when was the last time any of these spoiled celebrity brats spent time helping in a refugee camp? They are the ones with the supposed influence, and certainly the funds, and the best they can come up with is a concert to “raise awareness”? Let’s see Geldof, Madonna, McCartney, and the rest put their money where their mouths are.
[A wave of the fin to Jeff for pointing to Rick’s post.]
“It is offensive to suggest that a potential justice of the Supreme Court must pass some presumed test of judicial philosophy. It is even more offensive to suggest that a potential justice must pass the litmus test of any single-issue interest group. The disturbing tactics of division and distortion and discrimination practiced by the extremists of the new right have no place in these hearings and no place in the nation’s democracy.”
“Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement gives President Bush, elected by a divided nation that has become even more divided, a unique opportunity to unite us by choosing for the Supreme Court someone who can win support from a broad bipartisan majority in the Senate and whom the vast majority of Americans will be proud of.”
The enormous difference in the dates shown above—which should be enough to secure support for Congressional term limits—aside, where, dear Senator Kennedy, Democrats, and other members of the radical left, in the Constitution does it say the President of the United States must consult with the Senate on his choices for federal bench appointments? Rather than choosing someone “who can win support from a broad bipartisan majority,” the President should be choosing as a nominee a justice who will abide by the Constitution (aka, an “originalist”), versus one who will make up rights and law based on nothing found within the Constitution (aka, an “activist”).
Something tells me that if enough justices on the Supreme Court fit the former model, rather than the latter, the American people would be quite proud of them, Senator, because the Court wouldn’t be meddling in our lives and we would rarely hear from them.
Here’s hoping the President nominates another Scalia or Thomas. I want to see Kennedy’s face turn all red. Oh wait, too late.
[Thanks to today’s Best of the Web.]
Perhaps before she shows precisely how much she’s gone off the deep end, Helen Thomas should actually talk with the families and loved ones of servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I know people are pushing you, but please don’t pull the guys out of Iraq too soon. Don’t let my husband — and 1,700-plus other deaths — be in vain. They were over there, fighting for a democratic nation, and I hope you’ll keep our service members over there until the mission can be accomplished.”
Mrs. Owen’s husband, Staff Sgt. Mike Owen, was killed in Iraq last year. She was part of the military family meeting with President Bush prior to his speech at Fort Bragg last Tuesday. She spoke the above words to the President, and gave him a blue bracelet with the name of her husband and another soldier on it. The President was wearing this bracelet during his speech.
I suppose we should be thankful that at least Ms. Thomas is now honestly editorializing in the open, given how she did so as an official White House “correspondent” for so many years.
“In person Mr. Bush is so far removed from the caricature of the dim, war-mongering Texas cowboy of global popular repute that it shakes one’s faith in the reliability of the modern media” — Gerard Baker, U.S. editor of the London Times, after meeting last week in the Oval Office with President Bush. (Via Political Diary.)
Like Jeff, I would like to see the Democratic Party come back to the roots it showed during the days of Truman and Kennedy, with regard to national security. If we can agree, for the most part, on this one area of policy, then all the domestic stuff we quibble over, such as Social Security, Medicare, et al, might get more attention.
Because I love our two-party system and I respect the members and leaders of the Democratic Party, I offer them this piece of advice at absolutely no charge: When you guys stand so close together, it’s easy to paint you all with the same brush. If you don’t like being accused of being weak on terrorism or of not being serious about the war — and based on your reactions to Karl Rove’s speech last week, it’s clear that you don’t — then take a cue from Senator Hagel of Nebraska. When somebody from the furthest extents of the far left says something ridiculous, don’t just sit there and let it happen. Stand up behind a podium tell America that that’s not what you stand for, that that’s not what you believe in, that those are not your ideas.
You’ll be better off as a party, and we’ll be better off as a country, if you stop letting groups like Move On speak for you.
The conclusion is as heart-breaking as it is unavoidable: There are people out there —- reporters, pundits, Senators and Congressmen —- who hate the President and the Republican Party so deeply and with such passion that they would rather see the United States defeated and Iraq collapsed into a failed state than support what they see as George W. Bush’s war.
I don’t quite share Jeff’s pessimism regarding tonight’s speech, unless that pessimism means the expectation that the President will simply remind the American people that he has said all along that this war wouldn’t be finished overnight, that it was a long-haul project, that we should remember there are still people out there who want to hurt and kill us, but right now we are winning. The President has been consistent with regard to the prosecution of the war against terror in general, and in Iraq specifically. There is no timetable for withdrawal, because we have not yet achieved total victory. Which is something the left, and increasingly the Democratic Party specifically, cannot allow.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m too simple-minded to get it. Perhaps because I didn’t go to law school, spend years on a judicial bench, and have half a dozen clerks doing all of my research for me, I just don’t understand the intricacies and nuances of the Constitution of the United States of America. Or maybe there simply aren’t the intricacies and nuances the Supreme Court would have us believe there are.
Amendment I of the Bill of Rights says, in part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
Now, I challenge any legal scholar on the planet to explain how a monument to the Ten Commandments, or the posting of the Ten Commandments on the wall of a courtroom, is Congress establishing a state religion. Or even a state government establishing a state religion. Religious aspects aside, the Ten Commandments are an important legal document, important to the legal history of Western civilization. Again, with religious aspects aside, the Ten Commandments contain some pretty healthy codes of conduct for everyone, believers and non-believers. What’s wrong with suggesting that people do not steal from one another?
Amendment V of the Bill of Rights states, in part: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
Kelo vs. New London is not about “public use.” Public use is a road, a school. Public use is not a new shopping mall, new condos, new office space. I have to disagree with Jeff on this decision; both sides of the Court are not right in their opinions. Simply because there is precedent leading up to the decision in Kelo doesn’t make the decision proper. It simply means that all of the precedent is itself unconstitutional. If the Court has, in the past, rejected the “narrow interpretation of the public use requirement,” then the Court was wrong. The Court was negligent in its duty to uphold the Constitution, and it was negligent in Kelo. If the town of New London can’t come up with enough tax revenue without confiscating people’s legally-purchased private property, then perhaps the town should dissolve its charter and let the county take over basic services.
Prices are advertised everywhere. From newspapers to billboards to websites, we are forever being told how much things cost. Want to buy contact lenses? A cruise to Alaska? A pedicure? The price of almost any product or service is readily available, and vendors vie for business by keeping their prices competitive.
But not when it comes to health care.
In this second part of his look at health care, the first part of which I noted on Thursday, Jacoby argues that by de-linking health care from employment, through tax reform, prices will be driven down. The tax reform in question is to make health care coverage one purchases oneself tax deductible; it currently is not. Here’s the kicker:
Based on RAND Corporation research, they estimate that making medical expenses deductible would reduce health care spending by $40 billion — all without forcing a single benefit cut on anyone.
[Emphasis added. —R]
Since my post on the subject, I’ve been thinking of Tom’s comments, and watching as TiVo snags Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, and Clifford for my nearly-two-year-old’s viewing pleasure. Then Peggy Noonan comes along with brilliant commentary on the continued need for PBS, just without the politics. Her suggestions are certainly some I’m sure everyone could live with. Get PBS out of the news and opinion business, and back to what made it so vital in the first place: science and the arts.
I am man enough to admit it when I’m wrong. So let’s keep PBS and NPR around; so long as they dump the political angles, and stick to the classics.
Detailing the woes GM is facing in providing health care to only 160,000 current workers, but 1 million others, Jeff Jacoby provides a microcosm of the problems the citizenry would face should health-care fall under the purview of the government.
GM’s hourly workers undoubtedly have a sweet deal — who wouldn’t love health insurance that comes with a $0 deductible and no premiums? But such sweet deals drive up the cost of health care for everyone. When somebody else is picking up the tab, there is little incentive to economize — that is as true of medical care as of anything else. The price of prescription drugs, hospital stays, and medical procedures has skyrocketed in part because tens of millions of Americans are insured through their employers with low-deductible medical plans. Why not run to the doctor for every minor ailment when the out-of-pocket cost to do so is minimal? Why inquire whether a procedure can be performed less expensively when it’ll be covered by insurance either way?
In no other area do we rely on insurance for routine expenses or repairs. Auto insurance doesn’t cover oil changes; no one uses homeowner’s insurance to repoint the chimney. That’s because most of us pay for those policies ourselves, and therefore get only the insurance we really need — generally against catastrophic events, like a car being stolen or a house burning down.
Only when it comes to health care do we expect insurance to cover nearly everything.
But today, people expect insurance to cover everything, even routine things like eyeglasses and dental treatment. This is a terrible idea. Insurance is a lousy way to pay for anything.
Once some faceless stranger is paying for what you do, you don’t have an incentive to control costs. On the contrary, you have an incentive to get as much as you can and leave the other person with the bill. Doctors also have an incentive to run up the bills. Patients rarely complain, but they might complain if the doctor skips a test. Insurance companies know this, of course; hence the torturous bureaucracy: the paperwork, the phone calls where you beg them to pay, the times they refuse to pay for what you thought was covered.
I can’t blame them. They’re just trying to protect themselves from fraud and hoping to have enough money left over to stay in business.
Government insurance is worse than private insurance. A private insurer has an incentive to cut costs; every dollar wasted comes out of profit or must be recovered by raising prices, which drives customers away. Government just raises taxes or increases debt.
So when our bloated government picks up the tab for poor people’s health costs, guess what it buys: Viagra! In 2004, Medicaid spent $38 million on drugs for erectile dysfunction.
Funny. I always thought one of the Left’s battle cries was for the government to stay out of the private citizen’s bedroom. Here’s a great place to start.
Senator Tom Coburn (OK-R):
One of the greatest impediments to the president’s vision of an ownership society is an inside-the-Beltway entitlement society, in which federal agencies expect ever-increasing budgets, regardless of their performance.
The Washington Times article linked above notes the creation of the “Sunset” and “Results” Commissions, which will look in to eliminating waste within, and possibly closing down, federal agencies or departments. It’s about time.
David Boaz, of the libertarian Cato Institute, notes that the current incarnation of the Republican Party has turned its back on federalism, abandoning the Reagan Revolution. Unfortunately, he’s right. (It still won’t convert me to the Libertarian Party, Tom, so don’t bother.) I love the dig on the Dems, though:
But most liberals can’t give up their addiction to centralization. Even as they rail against federal intervention in the Schiavo case — arch-liberal Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s delegate in Congress, discovers for the first time in her life that “the bedrock of who we are” is the “Founders’ limited vision of the federal government” — they push for stricter regulations on pesticides and painkillers, a higher national minimum wage, and federal gun control laws.
Jeff Jacoby makes a good case for judicial term limits. Can we please do this for members of Congress while we’re at it?
‘[I]llegal immigration’ is an oxymoron. If it’s immigration, it is not illegal, and if they are here illegally they are not immigrants, are they?
Maybe it’s time that a more accurate term be coined to describe these people. I’ll start the process — how about ‘foreign trespassers?’
This is now the official term in use at Retrophisch™ Central.
Jeff laments the fact that a compromise used to be a good thing. My response has always been, “It depends on the particular compromise.” The Senatorial filibuster agreement, made without the consent of the Republican or—and please correct me if I’m wrong—the Democratic Senate leadership, is not the sort of compromise one would find virtuous. Today’s OpinionJournal shows why:
This ballyhooed “compromise” is all about saving the Senators themselves, not the Constitution. Its main point is to shield the group of 14 from the consequences of having to cast difficult, public votes in a filibuster showdown. Thus they split the baby on the most pressing nominees, giving three of them a vote while rejecting two others on what seem to be entirely arbitrary grounds, so Members of both parties can claim victory. Far better to cashier nominees as a bipartisan phalanx, rather than face up to their individual “advice and consent” responsibilities.
And it’s cynicism squared in the case of the three nominees who will now finally be confirmed. Yesterday, 81 Senators voted to give Priscilla Owen a vote on the floor, after four years of Democratic filibusters. Apparently she isn’t such a grave “extremist” threat after all. The same also applies to Janice Rogers Brown (22 months in the dock) and Bill Pryor (25 months). Monday’s deal exposes the long Democratic campaign against them as “extremists” as nothing more than a political sop to People for the American Way and their ilk.
But there is a cynical irony here, too. To defeat a Supreme Court nominee, liberal interest groups will now be obliged to manufacture the very “extraordinary circumstances” that would give Democrats among the Gang of 14 an excuse to filibuster. Thus they will have even greater incentive than before to dig through a nominee’s personal and professional life for any mud they can throw against him. In the name of consensus and comity, in short, these 14 “moderates” have increased the chances that the Senate will witness a future, bloody Borking.
If anyone thinks this filibuster-busting “agreement” is going to grease the skids for judicial nominees beyond the next few months, they are living in a fantasy world.
I think today’s Cox & Forkum amply shows how worthless the fourteen-Senator filibuster agreement will ultimately prove to be.
There is bias in news reporting and there always will be. That’s hardly the problem. The problem is forcing people to pay for the bias and propaganda with which they disagree. As Jefferson once wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
This sort of tyranny has become a fixation on the left. Leftist artists cannot seem to enjoy their craft without the controversy that comes from forcing people who are offended by it to pay the bill. Leftists also want public financing of political campaigns, so that Americans are forced to pay to promote political views they oppose. Of course, this could just be a pragmatic decision based on the realization that they cannot raise funds voluntarily.
In his column Jacob notes a poll conducted by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which finances PBS and NPR. Only 8 percent of Americans watch PBS. Eight percent. Yet the argument is that PBS has shows that are important to the culture, or that no one else will carry. Maybe the reason no one else will carry them is because no one else is willing to pay for them. And I hardly think Antiques Roadshow qualifies as a important historical documentary series.
We do watch PBS in our home. Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. Two highly successful childrens’ programs which would do fine on any of the pay-for networks we get through our satellite service. I’ve found of the other shows typically shown on PBS that I would find an interest in, I can find the same or similar type shows on Discovery or the History Channel.
It’s time to fully privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to cut the taxpayer-funding cord. Let PBS and NPR sink or swim in the free market. Ninety-two percent of Americans can’t be wrong.
Today’s Best of the Web has what is quite possibly the best explanation of what has gone wrong with the mainstream media over the past forty years.
It’s not just that the media are biased against conservatives and Republicans, though they certainly are. It is that they see every war as another Vietnam and every supposed scandal as another Watergate—at least when Republicans are in the White House, which they usually are.
The obsession with Vietnam and Watergate is central to the alienation between the press and the people. After all, these were triumphs for the crusading press but tragedies for America. And the press’s quest for more such triumphs—futile, so far, after more than 30 years—is what is behind the scandals at both Newsweek and CBS.
The problem in all three cases is that news organizations were so zealous in their pursuit of the next quagmire or scandal that they forgot their first obligation, which is to tell the truth. Until those in the mainstream media are willing to acknowledge that it is this crusading impulse that has led them astray, we are unlikely to see the end of such journalistic scandals.
In yesterday’s Political Diary, Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. reminds us that the recent pension ills at United Airlines are, well, the fault of its employee owners.
Pundits on the weekend talk shows lamented Corporate America’s “breaking of faith” with workers at United Airlines, whose pension plans were gutted in a bankruptcy proceeding last week. Expect more of the same from politicians, and not just Democrats, as Big Labor exploits the issue to promote its opposition to private Social Security accounts and its support for national health care. The political reaction, like yesterday’s pundit reaction, can also be expected to betray perfect and pristine ignorance of what actually occurred at United.
United represents not so much a corporate failure as a labor failure. No industry is as strongly controlled by its workers as the airline business is, and United was the ultimate case in point. The company was 55% owned by its unions; the union bosses controlled three seats on the board and effectively hired and fired the CEO. Labor was sitting on both sides of the table in the 1990s, in short, when workers decided to boost their compensation with unfunded, and unfundable, pension promises while also extracting maximum dollar in current wages and benefits. The same “employee-owners,” in other words, who looted the company by awarding themselves the richest pay deal in the industry also effectively voted to loot the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which they knew would be the ultimate guarantor of United unfunded pension bennies.
Keep all this in mind as the labor campaign gears up, especially when angry, red-faced pilots go on TV to blame their troubles on Corporate America and fatcat CEOs.
American Airlines is headquartered in Fort Worth, and Southwest Airlines in Dallas, so the airline industry is closely monitored here in the DFW metroplex. What amazes me is the amount of whining that comes from the majority of the airline industry, when in the face of all of the economic woes the airlines have been subject to of late, Southwest is still turning a profit.
The reasons for this are many: they offer outstanding customer service, they only service short routes, they do not have a union influence. Southwest employees are enthusiastic, sometimes annoyingly so. However, I’d rather be annoyed by someone’s cheeriness than by someone’s grumpiness (hello, American?).
I am, for the most part, anti-union these days. There was a time and place in our history when workers’ unions were needed, and needed badly. Many perks and benefits workers enjoy in today’s workplace came about as a result of union influence.
But the time of the union sticking up for the little man is over with. More often than not these days, my perception is the unions are harming their members, and the companies which employ those members, more than they are helping them, and only the union bosses have anything to show for it. United’s employees only have themselves to blame.
[Emphasis added in quoted text.]
Radical Left falls over itself volunteering packing help. Soros confirms he will cover all moving expenses. Bill Maher “despondent.” News at 11.
I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked!
What we wonder is: How come it never occurs to liberals or Democrats that the very terms in which they phrase the question are part of their problem? These, after all, are people who are obsessed with politically correct terminology, from “African-American” to “fetus.” Yet somehow it never dawns on them that “working class” is an insult.
Think about it: Would you call a janitor, a secretary or a carpenter “working class” to his face? The term connotes putting someone in his place: Your lot in life is to work. Thinking is for the higher classes. The questions the Democrats ask about the “working class” reflect precisely this contempt: What’s the matter with these people? Why don’t they understand that we know what’s good for them? Why do they worry about silly things like abortion and homosexuality? If they must believe in all that religious mumbo-jumbo, can’t they keep it to themselves?
Every time the Democrats lose an election, they make a big show of asking questions like these. Then, the next time they lose an election, they once again wonder why the “working class” has forsaken them. Maybe it’s as simple as: because they were listening.
Volunteers with the Minuteman Project in Arizona say “legal observers” sent by the ACLU to monitor the citizen border patrol have been seen smoking marijuana in violation of the law.
[…] ACLU monitors sent to the border to watch Minuteman activity and report civil-liberties abuses to authorities have begun flashing lights, sounding horns and warning off illegals and their “coyote” human smugglers from entering territory patrolled by the volunteers.
A volunteer reported, according to the South East Arizona Republican Club, “The ACLU is getting desperate to get something on the Minutemen and are trying to provoke incidents now.”
“They pushed one of the Minutemen the other night trying to get him to push back. Didn’t work. Then last night they walked up and shined a spotlight right in a Minuteman’s face from six inches or so away. Didn’t work that time either. We immediately report these types of contacts with them to the sheriff to counter any claims they try to make against us. They should be called the UCLU (Un-American Civil Lawsuit Union).
“They give us the middle finger every chance they get to try to get us to react. We are still trying to figure out if that is their age or IQ.”
It’s so nice to know the defenders of liberty and our Constitution are on the job down there in Arizona. Larger pictures of the alleged dope smoking can be found here.
[With thanks to Israel R. for the links.]
LGF exposes the truth behind the headline.
As seen on the Laura Ingraham web site this morning:
“At this point I would rather have a right-wing Christian decide my fate than an ACLU member.”
— Eleanor Smith, a disabled, self-described liberal agnostic lesbian
Peggy Noonan, on Mrs. Clinton seeking the presidency:
Republicans—I have been among many—are now in the stage of the Hillary Conversation in which they are beginning to grouse about those who keep warning that Mrs. Clinton will be a formidable candidate for president in 2008. She won’t be so tough, they say. America will never elect a woman like her, with such a sketchy history—financial scandals, political pardons, the whole mess that took place between 1980 and 2000.
I tell them they are wrong. First, it is good to be concerned about Mrs. Clinton, for she is coming down the pike. It is pointless to be afraid, but good to be concerned. Why? Because we live in a more or less 50-50 nation; because Mrs. Clinton is smarter than her husband and has become a better campaigner on the ground; because her warmth and humor seem less oily; because she has struck out a new rhetorically (though not legislatively) moderate course; because you don’t play every card right the way she’s been playing every card right the past five years unless you have real talent; because unlike her husband she has found it possible to grow more emotionally mature; because the presidency is the bright sharp focus of everything she does each day; because she is not going to get seriously dinged in the 2008 primaries but will likely face challengers who make her look even more moderate and stable; and because in 2008 we will have millions of 18- to 24-year-old voters who have no memory of her as the harridan of the East Wing and the nutty professor of HillaryCare.
The Hillary those young adults remember will be the senator—chuckling with a throaty chuckle, bantering amiably with Lindsey Graham, maternal and moderate and strong. Add to that this: Half the MSM will be for her, and the other half will be afraid of the half that is for her. (You think journalists are afraid of the right? Journalists are afraid of each other.) And on top of all that, It’s time for a woman. Almost every young woman in America, every tough old suburban momma, every unmarried urban high-heel-wearing, briefcase-toting corporate lawyer will be saying it. They’ll be working for, rooting for, giving to the woman.
I am of course exaggerating, but not by much.
Not to mention that the 18-24 crowd didn’t have, as usual, the voting impact in the 2004 election many hoped they would.
“Congress doesn’t act unless there is a crisis,” one member of Congress once told me. That axiom is growing more apparent every day. Since many in Congress want to deny that we face crises in our economic infrastructure, the public must act now to remind them. We must demand urgent action to save our economic infrastructure. We must holler until they start to follow.
Instead of reading poll numbers, Congress must start reading thousands of e-mail messages from angry voters in their districts and states. Instead of listening to their political advisers, Congress must start listening to thousands of phone calls from people who are fed up with the income tax code, the dysfunctional Social Security structure, and runaway deficit spending. Instead of focusing on partisan politics and the next election, we must force Congress to focus on not leaving this mess for the next generation.
Let’s start with a few real simple and specific messages. Congress, replace the income tax code with a national sales tax modeled on the FairTax. Congress, pass legislation that includes optional personal retirement accounts for workers younger than 45 years of age using 4 percentage points of their payroll taxes. Congress, let’s enact a balanced budget amendment, since you have demonstrated that you cannot control your spending addiction.
Imagine what would happen if every member of Congress received this simple message every week from thousands of voters in their districts and states. Maybe then they will begin to see the same crises that we the people face every day.
The AP editoralizes:
Italy said Tuesday it will start drawing down its 3,000-strong contingent in Iraq in September, putting a fresh crack in President Bush’s crumbling coalition.
Yet these same left-of-center “reporters” have also spent a considerable amount of “news” space editoralizing that the United States was acting “unilaterally” in Iraq, and echoing the words of Senator Kerry, who said our allies were just “window dressing.”
So which is it? Do we have allies or not? Are they simply “window dressing,” or are they actually participating in combat, supply, and support missions? Make up your minds, “reporters.” You do not get to have it both ways.
Private accounts would pay workers based on the total amount they’ve paid into the system over their working lifetimes, not an average of what they paid in for part of their time in the work force. If private accounts had been around in 1989, I would have started growing mine with the first paycheck I earned pruning apple trees in the dead of winter in upstate New York. That account would have then been able to take advantage of what Albert Einstein called “the most powerful force in the universe,” compound interest. So instead of penalizing workers like me, who pay in early, private accounts will give workers the advantage of nearly two extra decades of accruing retirement assets.
Viewed from this perspective, it’s clear that by uniting against reform, Democrats are defending a system that is skewed against the workers they claim to represent—those who are handed little in life and must enter the work force early. Some of them work their way through college, but many stay in blue-collar and service-related jobs. They make less money each year, but make it up by working longer and harder. The Social Security debate is now about whether to allow these workers to capitalize on all of their hard work while saving for retirement. Isn’t that what the Democratic Party is supposed to be all about?
Dave Murphy, for the San Francisco Chronicle:
From the time Tilly Merrell was a year old, doctors told her family she would never have a normal life — or even a normal meal.
British doctors found that the food she swallowed went into her lungs instead of her stomach, causing devastating lung infections. They said she had isolated bulbar palsy, and their solution was to feed her through a stomach tube. Forever.
But having a backpack with a food pump wired to her stomach wasn’t much of a life for a girl whose favorite smell is bacon frying — a girl who once broke through a locked kitchen door in an effort to sneak some cheese. So her family got help from their community of Warndon, about 120 miles north of London, raising enough money to take Tilly, now 8, on a 5,000-mile journey they hoped might change her life, a journey to Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.
Doctors at Packard were intrigued that she had no neurological symptoms often associated with the palsy. In all other ways, she was a normal child with a mischievous smile and a truckload of energy. After seeing her Feb. 7, they ran three tests and found out what was wrong with her.
And you wonder why conservatives froth at the mouth over such nonsense as HILLARY!Care.
[Via Jack on World_SIG.]
“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” —Thomas Jefferson
Tenure was supposed to create an atmosphere of open debate and inquiry, but instead has created havens for talentless cowards who want to be insulated from life. Rather than fostering a climate of open inquiry, college campuses have become fascist colonies of anti-American hate speech, hypersensitivity, speech codes, banned words and prohibited scientific inquiry.
Even liberals don’t try to defend Churchill on grounds that he is Galileo pursuing an abstract search for the truth. They simply invoke “free speech,” like a deus ex machina to end all discussion. Like the words “diverse” and “tolerance,” “free speech” means nothing but: “Shut up, we win.” It’s free speech (for liberals), diversity (of liberals) and tolerance (toward liberals).
Ironically, it is precisely because Churchill is paid by the taxpayers that “free speech” is implicated at all. The Constitution has nothing to say about the private sector firing employees for their speech. That’s why you don’t see Bill Maher on ABC anymore. Other well-known people who have been punished by their employers for their “free speech” include Al Campanis, Jimmy Breslin, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy the Greek and Andy Rooney.
I have seen confusion regarding one’s free speech rights regarding one’s employer on more than one occasion on various e-mail lists. In this country, you have the right to political free speech, but this does not necessarily translate to a right to said speech while on your employer’s dime. Your right to said speech also does not translate in to a right in having it heard or accepted by those who disagree.
Whenever a Democrat tells the public what his party “is not” he’s revealing to them what it is. John Kerry fell into this habit often, saying the Democratic Party “was not” weak on national defense which only succeeded in reminding voters of the party’s historic uselessness on security issues.
On Meet the Press last Sunday, Howard Dean returned to this poisoned well, protesting a little too much at what the “party was not.” He said, “We’re not the party of abortion,” and “We’re not the party of gay marriage.” An appropriate response from moderator Tim Russert would have been a loud and sustained chuckle.
You don’t have to be a financial wizard to know that Social Security is a lousy investment. Unlike the money you deposit in a bank or salt away in an IRA, you don’t own the money you pay into Social Security. You have no legal right to get those dollars back, and when you die you can’t pass them on to your heirs. Nor can you use your Social Security account before you retire — you can’t borrow against it and you can’t cash it in. You aren’t allowed to put the money into a balanced portfolio. You can’t even watch as the interest accumulates, since your Social Security nest egg doesn’t earn any interest.
Your nest egg, in fact, doesn’t even exist. Because Social Security is financed on a pay-as-you-go system, the dollars withheld from your paycheck today aren’t being saved in an account with your name. They are immediately paid out to retirees. The benefits you receive when you retire will be funded by the payroll taxes then being collected. But because the ratio of workers paying in to retirees taking out is steadily shrinking — it has plummeted from 16 to 1 in 1940 to 3 to 1 today — Social Security is headed for a crisis.
This of course is the background to President Bush’s campaign to create personal investment accounts, which for the first time would allow workers to own and invest — really own, really invest — part of the Social Security tax taken from their paychecks. With personal accounts many of the features that make Social Security such a crummy deal for today’s workers would be transformed into a package most of them could support. A social-welfare program created in the age of gramophones and the Model A would be updated for a world of iPods and superhighways.
But to many Democrats, such talk is heresy. Letting Americans own some of their Social Security would be too risky, they argue - another way of saying that Americans are too dumb to be entrusted with their own money. Much better to continue entrusting it to Washington, which has managed Social Security so skillfully that workers younger than 50 know they will never get back in benefits what they are paying into the system now. (Perhaps that explains why 58 percent of Americans under 50 support personal accounts, according to a new poll by Zogby International.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: can we get politicans brave enough to just kill Social Security once and for all? Pick a year, grandfather in everyone born prior to that year, and those born after are on their own for retirement. Year after year, as those in the program die off, the amount required to sustain Social Security will dwindle, and ultimately, two or three generations from now, no longer exist. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp? Forget partial privatization of this government-run Ponzi scheme, just kill it!
Republican control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and state houses gives the GOP its strongest national position since the Eisenhower period of the 1950s. As Democrats ponder their role in opposition, they might consider how their predecessors conducted themselves during that time.
Democratic congressional leaders Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson pursued a strategy in opposition which, down the road, paid long-term dividends for their party. They supported the Eisenhower administration on national security issues during a dangerous time — intervening with the White House when necessary to stop mistakes such as Vice President Richard Nixon’s proposal to use nuclear weapons to bail out French forces at Dienbienphu. They observed the general rule that a president deserved to have the nominees he wanted for key administration and judicial appointments and questioned them only selectively.
Congressional Democrats of that period did, however, use their investigative authority to highlight episodes of public/private corruption. Most importantly, they began preparing the ground for landmark domestic legislation — which ultimately became the Great Society — even though they lacked majorities at the time to pass it. In 1965, after President Johnson’s huge victory over Barry Goldwater, Democrats promptly passed the agenda they had nurtured during the Eisenhower years.
The party’s visible leaders and voices are pursuing an entirely different strategy today. It generally amounts to angry opposition on all issues all the time. President Bush’s Iraq intervention was problematic. But had Mr. Kerry been elected president, he would be following essentially the same path today in Iraq as Bush — that is, to build an elected Iraqi government’s capacity to maintain sufficient security that American forces could leave. Yet most Democrats’ reaction to the first essential step in that strategy, the successful completion of elections, has been to dismiss the elections’ importance, to charge Mr. Bush with “having no exit strategy,” or to demand he set a hard timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
For many years Democrats, more than Republicans, pointed to the need to reform Social Security for the long term. Social Security, after all, was a Democratic invention and a cornerstone of the party’s commitment to economic security. Yet, in the face of the Bush reform initiative, many senior Democrats have chosen simply to deny the need for change. That is not a viable policy or political position. Democrats are quite right to challenge the notion of partial privatization of the system. But they have an equal obligation to offer an alternative reform plan, the components of which are self-evident and which would require little public sacrifice. Why not seize the opportunity the Bush initiative presents and move public opinion toward a Democratic alternative on Social Security?
[Emphasis added. This article may required a paid subscription after 2/17/05. —R]
Hispanic-Americans, take note. The party which claims to have your interests at heart, the party which claims to be the tolerant one, the party which claims to be racially-inclusive: only 6 of 42 Democrat Senators voted for the first-ever Hispanic Attorney General of the United States.
But the Republican President who nominated him is a racist.
John Fund, in today’s Political Diary:
Republican members of Congress have a ready response for Democrats crying foul over President Bush’s constant references to Franklin Roosevelt and other icons of liberalism to bolster his call for Social Security reform.
They note that in an address to Congress on January 17, 1935, President Roosevelt foresaw the need to move beyond the pay-as-you-go financing of the current Social Security system. “For perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions,” the president allowed. But after that, he explained, it would be necessary to move to what he called “voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age.” In other words, his call for the establishment of Social Security directly anticipated today’s reform agenda: “It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans,” FDR explained.
“What Roosevelt was talking about is the need to update Social Security sometime around 1965 with what today we would call personal accounts,” says one top GOP member of the Ways and Means Committee. “By my reckoning we are only about 40 years late in addressing his concerns on how make Social Security solvent.”
Apparently, the Democratic Party is ready to lose the next couple of election rounds as well.
Speaking to a DNC forum in New York over the weekend, Dean indulged once again in some of the undisguised loathing of the GOP that was such a hallmark of Democratic Party activism last year. “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” he told the audience, “but I admire their discipline and their organization.”
I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for. Not “I oppose the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Not “I’m determined to beat the Republicans.” Not “I reject the Republican message.” No — Dean wants it understood that he hates the Republicans and all their works. That is the banner under which he is marching as a candidate to lead his party.
There is a reason Dean didn’t win a single Democratic presidential primary apart from Vermont’s, and it isn’t that he wasn’t incendiary enough. The last thing his party needs now is what Democrats rejected last year: a short-fused ranter who thrills the die-hards, but sends moderates racing for the exit.
“Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.” —George Mason