Thursday, June 30, 2005

Must-read Interview of President Bush

This interview in The Times (of London) is information-filled and a great read. Its most interesting aspect may be the writer's impressions of the President. Best excerpt:

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.

Well, now that thisw article mentions it, I had noticed that phenomenon . . . .

The Undeniable Connection

Power Line comments at length here on recent Democrat insistence that Saddam and the rest of the terrorist world existed in a sort of blissful ignorance of one another. The whole piece is excellent reading for anyone who wants to be well-informed. Excerpt:

One of the Democrats' most ridiculous mantras is that there was no connection between Saddam's Iraq and international terrorism. This claim is demonstrably false, but as usual, the Democrats are playing to the least well-informed Americans. Let's just itemize a few of Iraq's most notorious pre-war connections to 9/11 style terrorism:

a) Ansar al Islam, an al Qaeda branch,manufactured ricin for use in attacks on Europe.

b) Saddam hosted al Qaeda's number two leader, Zawahiri, in the 1990s.

c) Saddam harbored, and put on a government pension, one of the few perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing who escaped apprehension.

d) Saddam harbored Abu Nidal, once the world's most famous terrorist, until, for reasons that remain mysterious, Saddam apparently had him murdered shortly before the war began.

e) Saddam harbored Abu Abbas, organizer of the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking in 1984; Abbas was captured in Iraq during the first days of the war.

e) Zarqawi, the world's most deadly terrorist, fled Afghanistan when the Taliban fell at the end of 2001 and went to Iraq. Why? Because he knew that terrorists were welcome under Saddam.

f) From Iraq, Zarqawi organized the murder of American diplomat Lawrence Foley in Jordan.

g) From Iraq, Zarqawi organized and financed a chemical weapons attack on Jordan that could have killed tens of thousands. The perpetrators of that scheme are now on trial in Jordan.

h) Saddam paid the families of suicide bombers to encourage terrorist attacks
against Israel.

These are just some of the many connections between Saddam's regime and international terrorism that we happen to know about. Others are known, and no doubt still more remain unknown.

It is both fascinating and puzzling that the Democrats take the "no connection" tack. Maybe their base demands that of them.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

One of Those "Words Fail Me" Stories

Read this story from ABC News. If you're like me you will ask yourself (1) What are these parents thinking? and (2) Has it really come to this?

The introductory paragraph will let you know where this is going:

June 24, 2005 — Lulu Diaz is excited to show her friends the high school graduation present she got from her parents — her new breasts. . . .[One mother said] "This is a gift of love from us, and we see a difference in her . . . . The gift of breast implants costs about $7,000. "But I don't think you can put really a price on your child's happiness," she said.


Support Molten Thought's Blogathon

MoltenThought, one of my favorite blogs, is running a "rear echelon" blogathon in support of the Armed Forces Relief Trust. WordGirl and Teflon will be blogging for 24 hours straight beginning midnight this Saturday. Here’s today’s Molten Thought post. Excerpt:

. . . for every $25 you give, you get to call the shots on a post on any
topic (well, any topic you could see printed in a public newspaper) you'd like
to see WordGirl or I post on. If you want WordGirl to pen an encomium to the
slapstick stylings of Moe Howard, now's your chance. Please make plans to check
in with us throughout the day this Saturday, July 2nd, beginning at midnight
Saturday and continuing until midnight Sunday. There'll be a plethora of posts,
some of which will no doubt make no sense whatsoever except to workers on the
graveyard shift or insomniacs.

Support this effort and visit this blog. These folks are on my list of Bloggers I Would Like To Meet Someday.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Why I Don't Think A Flag-Burning Amendment Is Necessary

Stating the argument simply, if someone wants to torch Old Glory, I say let him be an ungrateful, misguided fool. In America we allow people to be ungrateful, misguided fools.

But there are more sophisticated ways of getting to the same place. I'm just too tired to list them all right now. Fortunately, Mark Steyn makes the case superbly here. You are hereby urged to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Thanks to Power Line, this story is lots of fun. It's about a flag-burning incident involving former Major League Baseball player Rick Monday back in 1976. Read it here. If you like baseball you'll enjoy the story no matter what you think of the politics involved.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kelo v. City of New London: An Analysis Using, Well, An Ancient Source

From frequent contributor and honorary Hedgehog Ralph Kostant:

The majority opinion in Kelo v. City of New London neglected to cite this important precedent for for a government taking private property for the benefit of another private party:

1 Kings 21

1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of
Ahab king of Sama'ria.

2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have
it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a
better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value
in money."

3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the
inheritance of my fathers."

4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the
Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the
inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his
face, and would eat no food.

5 But Jez'ebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so
vexed that you eat no food?"

6 And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to
him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it please you, I will give
you another vineyard for it'; and he answered, 'I will not give you my

7 And Jez'ebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and
eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of
Naboth the Jezreelite."

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she
sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city.

9 And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high
among the people;

10 and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against
him, saying, 'You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone
him to death."

11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city,
did as Jez'ebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which
she had sent to them,

12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.

13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base
fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying,
"Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned
him to death with stones.

14 Then they sent to Jez'ebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead."

15 As soon as Jez'ebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead,
Jez'ebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the
Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but

16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to
the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Legal commentary: Actually, this is not so much legal precedent as a supporting argument for the majority holding in Kelo. If Kelo already had been decided in the time of King Ahab, Ahab and Jezebel would not have found it necessary to construct a plot against Naboth. They simply could have taken his vineyard and paid him the money that Ahab had offered. Naboth, like the petitioners in Kelo, would have lost his family property, but he would be alive and compensated.

See, however, the dissenting opinion in this case by God, the Prophet Elijah concurring.

Ralph B. Kostant

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Primer on The Founders and Property Rights

In the wake of the Kelo decision, this excerpt from Power Line is "required reading" for those interested in what the Founders meant when they wrote the Consitution's provisions relating to property rights.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Why Supreme Court Nominations Matter, And Why No One Should Like The Decision in Kelo v. City of New London

Does it matter who gets appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court? You bet it does.

By now everyone's heard about yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding a city's right to seize private property for the benefit of a private developer. You can read the entire opinion here. Washington Post columnist George Will summarized the Court's decision:

The question answered yesterday was: Can government profit by seizing the property of people of modest means and giving it to wealthy people who can pay more taxes than can be extracted from the original owners? The court answered yes... During oral arguments in February, Justice Antonin Scalia distilled the essence of New London's brazen claim: 'You can take from A and give to B if B pays more taxes?... That is the logic of the opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens and joined by justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Ah, yes. Justices Kennedy and Souter. Both are Republican appointees. Both have "grown" on the Court, meaning they have abandoned any adherence to principles of judicial non-activism. How did we end up with these two guys?

Well, it began with Robert Bork. Remember him? The Democrats, who then controlled the Senate, fought his nomination to the Supreme Court on purely ideological grounds, and fought so hard and dirty and with such tenacity that his nomination was withdrawn.

Then President Reagan nominated Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a fine young conservative jurist who was (and still is) on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Ginsburg had smoked marijuana during his Harvard Law School faculty days. (There was no doubt that he had inhaled.) So his nomination was withdrawn too. He's now the Chief Judge on the D.C. Circuit, but he'll never be on the Supreme Court.

Next came Justice Anthony Kennedy of the 9th Circuit, whom President Reagan nominated and the Democrat-controlled Senate confirmed without much difficulty.

Had either Bork or Ginsburg been confirmed to the Supreme Court, yesterday's decision would have been different. So would many, many others.

What about Justice Souter? Well, his nomination also resulted from the Bork debacle. Wishing to avoid another bloodbath, then-White House Chief of Staff John Sununu came up with the brilliant idea of nominating a judge from the New Hampshire Supreme Court with no real ideological track record, so the Democrats (who still controlled the Senate) could not attack him. George Bush the Elder thus nominated Souter, who has since been almost a completely reliable liberal vote on the Court, on every issue.

What a disaster. Now Republicans control the Senate, and despite the Democrats' filibuster, are starting to push through judges who might actually make a difference, especially if they get to the Supreme Court. So what will we get?

Will G.W. Bush nominate someone like Alberto Gonzalez, another jurist of uncertain judicial philosophy? Or will he nominate someone like Michael McConnell, a 10th Circuit judge of unquestioned brilliance and conservative ideology?

This will be interesting to watch. So far, Republicans have been just awful at moving the court in the direction the electorate clearly wants it to go. This seems to be either because they are unlucky, are insufficiently committed, or both.

Is there a lesson from the recent past about how to do this right? I have one to suggest.

Think Clarence Thomas. A solid conservative and a brilliant man. The fight against him was perhaps the dirtiest ever seen against a modern Supreme Court nominee. And yet Bush the Elder held firm, Thomas was appointed, and we have seen excellent opinions from the man.

If G.W. Bush is willing to fight, he can make a difference that will last for decades. Or, he can take the squishy approach and appoint someone whose votes will result in all manner of judicial legislation: We'll see such things as the Boy Scouts ceasing to exist, gay marriage becoming a Constitutional right, limitations on First Amendment rights through "campaign finance reform" legislation, and the strengthening of the government's ability to take property, as we saw in the Kelo case.

Yes, it matters who is appointed to the Supreme Court. The voters certainly think so. That's one reason why the Senate is in Republican hands and why G.W. Bush is in the White House.

I'm betting that President Bush will do the right thing, but that's by no means certain. We shall see.

UPDATE: Opinion Journal's Best of The Web Today shares some interesting political analysis of the Supreme Court situation. The thinking comes from Opinion Journal's Political Diary, which is a subscription service that I normally cannot post here. Summary: The Republicans are not all that certain they'll be able to hold onto the Senate past 2006, so they're hoping to get one or two justices confirmed this year before the opportunity passes. (You should read the whole thing.)

How depressing. Will the chance to make a difference, and for which so many gave so much, be lost? The next few months will tell the tale.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Immigration (Illegal or Not): Keeping Our Eye on The Ball

If you read this blog you know I post a lot about immigration. (Examples of such posts here.) You also know that I view immigration favorably, as long as it is legal and is happening under our government's control. But the most important requirement, to me, is that assimilation occur with those who immigrate to America.

Lo and behold, Charles Krauthammer has now held forth on that very part of the puzzle. Krauthammer is one of the most formidable conservative commentators and he states the case very nicely here. This is a highly-recommended read, to say the least. An excerpt:

The cure for excessive immigration is successful assimilation. The way to prevent European-like immigration catastrophes is to turn every immigrant -- and most surely his children -- into an American.

Of course you need to read the whole thing. More conservative politicians need to be taking about the issue this way. It's a winning approach.

The Real Story on The Durbin "Apology"

Senator Durbin's desperate attempts to slither out of trouble have prompted some hilarious satire by bloggers far more talented than I am.

Doug TenNapel gives the good senator's bloviations a, well, literary context of sorts.

Scott Ott at Scrappleface has a satiric view of the matter that is worth reading (and will give you some grim chuckles).

Iowhawk, on the other hand, goes into the matter a little more deeply and leaves poor Senator Durbin in shreds. Do not miss his posts here and here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Ted Kennedy (Surprise!) Doesn't Think Mitt Romney Is The Right Candidate!

Ted Kennedy has commented on Mitt Romney's presidential prospects. He doesn't think much of them, of course, but Teddy's statements quoted in the Boston Globe seem fairly tame:

"The real kind of question and challenge is whether he has the vision and
the ability to mobilize both his party and the country in terms of national
leadership,'' Kennedy said. "I think that's the big question. . . .

"It will now be the question as to whether the governor has the kind of
ability to do it,'' Kennedy said. "It's a very high, fast track when you
run for president. We just have to sort of wait and see.''

Maybe the Dems' "Romney strategy" will be to emphasize Mitt's relative lack of high-leel experience. If the global war on terror is still a hot issue in 2008, that handful of mud might actually stick.

UPDATE: Commenter Mark rightly notes that Ted Kennedy's opposition is actually a sign that Mitt must be a decent GOP candidate.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cynicism Watch: Gitmo, Koran Desecration, Palestinians, and Israel

Frequent contributor and honorary Hedgehog Ralph Kostant (we can't quite persuade him to take the oath) offers some thoughts on current Middle East-related issues:

The Koran Desecration Scam

The Pentagon recently reported that practically the only acts of deliberate (as opposed to accidental) Koran desecration at Gitmo that it could verify were committed by the prisoners themselves, sometimes apparently in an planned effort to fabricate false accusations of intentional Koran desecration by U.S. soldiers and prison personnel. Subsequently, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, noting how the Main Stream Media and the “Moslem Street” had fallen for the scam at Gitmo, began their own campaign of Koran desecration stories. This news bulletin from JTA again proves that Islamic terrorists are not above themselves desecrating their holy books if it will score political points against the infidel.

Dialogue of the Deaf

This column from the Jerusalem Post was written by Judea Pearl, a resident of Encino, California, and the father of the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was decapitated on video tape by Al Qaeda in Pakistan in 2002. It demonstrates why, despite the earnest efforts of the Bush Administration, U.S. pressure on Israel to implement the Middle East Road Map will not win the hearts of the Islamic world. As Pearl discovered, the phrases “progress in the peace process” and “resolution of the Palestinian issue,” as used in the Islamic world, even by so-called moderates, does not mean a two-state solution, but rather the end of Israel as a Jewish State. As was the case with the Oslo Accords, the maximum possible concessions that the U.S. might persuade a prudent and responsible Israeli government to make fall far short of the minimum that the Palestinians, and the rest of the Islamic world, other than Turkey, are willing to accept in a final peace settlement. Even if Israel were to surrender all of the territories captured in 1967, including the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, forswear any claim to the Temple Mount (Judaism’s holiest site), and permit formation of a “contiguous” Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza (which, as a glance at a map will demonstrate, could only be achieved by Israel surrendering additional territory within its pre-1967 borders to form a corridor connecting the West Bank and Gaza, splitting Israel into two non-contiguous parts), the Palestinians would merely consider those concessions as a milestone toward their ultimate goal of eradicating the State of Israel.

Ralph B. Kostant

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Father's Day 2005

Like just about everyone I know, as Father's Day approaches I think a little more than usual of my own father. Aaron G. Brown was a fine and gentle man who shaped me in more ways than I know. He passed away in 1985, when I was a mere 30 years old-- far too young, it seems to me, to say good-bye to one's father.

Dad was a man of unfailing courtesy, and so when I came across this poem by Elizabeth Bishop, it made me think of him. This was read on the air the Friday evening before Father's Day, 1999, on the PBS Newshour program. The poet is remembering her grandfather, not her father; but a grandfather's still a father:

for a child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always speak
to everyone you meet."

We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather's whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day."
And I said it and bowed where I sat.

Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don't forget that when you get older,"

my grandfather said.
So Willy climbed up with us,
but the crow gave a "Caw!" and flew off. I was worried.
How would he know where to go?

But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.
"A fine bird," my grandfather said,

and he's well brought up.
See, he answers nicely when he's spoken to.
Man or beast, that's good manners.
Be sure that you both always do."

When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people's faces,
but we shouted "Good day! Good day! Fine day!"
at the top of our voices.

When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired,
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Should PBS Be Funded? Peggy Noonan Gets It Right

I really don't watch PBS much at all any more, unless unusually interesting programming is offered. Still, I think it can have a justifiable publicly-funded place on the TV spectrum. But not the way PBS is now. Peggy Noonan, I think, gets to the heart of the matter in this Opinion Journal piece. Key excerpt:

PBS exists to do what the commercial networks should and won't. And just one of those things is bringing to Americans who have not and probably will not be exposed to it the great treasury of American art, from the work of Eugene O'Neill (again, ABC won't be producing "Long Day's Journey" anytime soon), outward to Western art (Shakespeare) and outward to world art.

And science. And history. But real history, meaning something that happened in the past as opposed to the recent present, with which PBS, alas, cannot be trusted.

Art and science and history. That's where PBS's programming should be. And Americans would not resent funding it.

I think she's right, but you should read the whole thing and make up your own mind.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

For Mitt Romney Watchers

Venerable political columnist Robert Novak has some news and analysis about Gov. Romney's recent visit to Michigan, a key Republican primary state.

Illegal Immigration: Why It Should Keep President Bush Awake at Night

I hope the content of this story from the L.A. Times (via Hugh Hewitt) is getting lots and lots of attention at the Department of Homeland Security. Key excerpt:

An illegal immigrant from Lebanon was sentenced Tuesday to 4 1/2 years in prison for conspiring to raise money for the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which the United States has designated a terrorist group.

Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, 34, pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to support a terrorist organization. Kourani was accused of hosting fundraising meetings at his home in suburban Detroit in 2002 at which a Hezbollah representative spoke. . . .

The government said Kourani paid a Mexican consular official in Beirut $3,000 for a visa to enter Mexico, then sneaked across the U.S.-Mexican border in 2001 and settled in Dearborn, the center of Michigan's Arab American community of about 300,000.
I can't say it any better than Hugh did:

How is it that Mexico is employing consular officials willing to take bribes in Lebanon? Has that official landed in a jail for the next couple of decades?

And does anyone in D.C. think about the consequences if the next purchased-visa, Mexican border-jumping Hezbollah supporter is coming with more than fund-raising on his mind? The toll could be high in lives lost, and the blame will be on the Adminsitration because of the pervasive impression that more could be done on the border that has not been done. The blame for 9/11 could not be fixed on the Bush Administration because no reasonable voter could judge the attacks to be foreseeable.

A terrorist crossing the border is foreseeable. If their financiers can get here, then a terrorist crossing that border is foreseeable. Much more needs to be done. Now.

Yes, please. Illegal immigration is a major economic and cultural problem, but let's not forget it could become a massively lethal problem too. The terrorists read the newspapers, and they surely know how easy it is to get their people into the USA. Does anyone doubt that they have already done so, on a fairly large scale?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Immigration Reform: A Response from The National Immigration Forum

My post below, referring to a Doug MacEachern editorial in the Arizona Republic, brought a lengthy response from Douglas G. Rivlin, Director of Communication for the National Immigration Forum based in Washington, D.C. Mr. Rivlin strongly advocates for passage of the Secure America Act, whose principal Senate sponsors are John McCain and Ted Kennedy. (If that gives you heartburn, bear in mind that other sponsors are Republicans Sam Brownback of Kansas and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina.) The text of the bill, S. 1033, is here.

As those who read my immigration posts know, I am a conservative Republican who takes a "middle route" approach to illegal immigration. We have to control the borders, but we also have to be smart about developing a solution; "deport them all and seal the borders" is simply not a serious response to this growing problem. The nativist solution will never work; neither will the free immigration espoused by many (and to which such big business-supporting organizations as the Wall Street Journal editorial page are quite sympathetic).

I don't have a position on the Secure America Act yet, but it looks interesting. It likely will not pass in its current form, but we need something. The President needs to get involved in this issue, big-time. If he does, we might see a bill enacted.

What about the Immigration Forum? I was not familiar with the Forum prior to receiving Mr. Rivlin's e-mail. Some Googling led me to the Forum's Board of Directors, which is listed here. At first glance the Board appears to be a collection of individuals and organizations whom one would expect to support more open immigration. Here are the Board's officers:

Lee Culpepper, Chair. Mr. Culpepper is the chief lobbyist of the National Restaurant Association, a trade association whose members presumably hire hundreds of thousands of recent immigrants, perhaps often illegals. This is an organization interested in preserving a steady supply of cheap labor willing to work as busboys, waiters, waitresses, cooks, and the like.

Cecilia Munoz, Vice-Chair; from National Council of La Raza, which describes itself on its web site as "the largest national constituency-based Hispanic organization and the leading voice in Washington, DC for the Hispanic community." Ms. Munoz' title is Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation. She is also apparently the chief lobbyist of the organization. A list of La Raza press releases bearing Ms. Munoz' name is here.

Thomas Snyder, Treasurer; from UNITE HERE International Union, which describes itself on its web site: "UNITE (formerly the Union of Needletrades, Textiles and Industrial Employees) and HERE (Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union) merged on July 8, 2004 forming UNITE HERE. The union represents more than 450,000 active members and more than 400,000 retirees throughout North America."

Angela Sanbrano, Secretary
; from CARECEN Los Angeles. CARECEN is the Central American Resource Center, whose web site describes the organization's vision: "For the Los Angeles region to become a place where Central Americans and all other communities can live in peace, with dignity, and enjoy economic well-being, social justice, and political empowerment."

I have to admit that the strong support for the Secure America Act by an association with such officers worries me just a little, but I will keep an open mind. The Act is at least a start, with credible bipartisan sponsorship.

With that background, here is Mr. Rivlin's e-mail:

I've never blogged before, so I leave it up to you to determine whether this is appropriate comment for your blog. If you do decide to post, please use the following e-mail address: mailto:media@immigrationforum.orgas the source.

I strongly agree with the second question in the MacEachern op-ed, but feel the first question is dealt with squarely by the McCain/Kennedy legislation.

On the second: the American people have evolved beyond the "let 'em in vs. keep 'em out" debate that has dominated immigration for a decade or so. They aren't as anti-immigration as anti-immigrant or fence sitting politicians like to think. Rather, they want a controlled, orderly, legal system where the government does its job of securing our borders. The American people, at this point, understand that a mass deportation program is unrealistic and that a slow attrition deportation program ignores the immediacy of the security and humanitarian crisis a thoroughly dysfunctional legal immigration system creates. [I think Mr. Rivlin is exactly right here. --Ed.]

They want a practical solution that can pass Congress and will work on the ground to regulate immigration. Because the Secure America Act (McCain/Kennedy) is bipartisan, it can pass. Because it recognizes the mistakes of 1986, it can work to establish long-term control and regulation of immigration.

In 1986, we gave amnesty and a direct path to a green card (permanent residency) to illegal immigrants of a certain class (been here for years, no criminal record, etc.). Then we instituted employer sanctions to enforce the new "zero tolerance" regime.

It didn't work. We did not reorganize our legal immigration system to account for the fact that our economy was creating jobs for immigrants but that we had insufficient legal channels for immigrants to be employed legally. Tripling the size of the Border Patrol, quintupling its budget, and giving them all manner of technology to enforce the border has not decreased illegal entry (it has coincided with an increase). The demand for legal immigration by employers, families, and immigrants was unchanged, and the trend towards higher demand for legal immigration continued (unaffected by the 1986 reforms), while the supply of legal immigrant visas remained essentially unchanged.

Employer sanctions failed because there were two significant "outs" for employers: 1) they could call the Congressman or Senator to whom they had donated vast sums of money to call off the INS if their business or industry was targeted (there is the famous Vidalia, Georgia case, where big-money onion farmers called their senators and congressmen and stopped the INS in its tracks); and 2) they only needed plausible deniability to escape prosecution. In other words, if they used a labor contractor they were not actually employing the unauthorized worker. More commonly, they had to make a judgment that a piece of identification presented to fill out an I-9 work authorization was legitimate enough to be able to blame the immigrant if he/she was later determined to be unauthorized to work.

What has dominated the debate over the past decade or so have been policies to further restrict legal immigration, while pursuing a political strategy to stir animosity against the resulting illegalities. But after a decade of political gamesmanship, our immigration policies and reality have collided and reality is winning.

The Secure America Act improves on the failed Reagan-era policy in significant ways. It creates a fair but rigorous path for immigrants to come forward and register with authorities, gain temporary legal status if they qualify, and pay hefty fines, fees, back taxes, and pass other criteria, but are not given an advantage over those who have been waiting years and decades for a legal immigration visa. The deal has to be good enough for the immigrants to self-report, but fair enough to not alienate those who chose to play the unrealistic rules, and the Secure America Act gets this balance about right.

Secondly, it addresses the incentives created by an underfunded and unwieldy immigration bureaucracy that makes illegal immigration more attractive, and more lucrative for smugglers, document forgers, and unscrupulous employers. It will address the backlogs in our family immigration system and reorganize our employment visa system so that playing by the rules is more practical. Currently, a U.S. citizen mother waits typically four years for a visa for her minor child to join her legally. If the child is in Mexico, the wait is nine years; the Philippines, 13 years. With those kinds of disincentives to play by the rules, other market forces (smugglers, forgers) have stepped in to fill the breech.

Thirdly, the Secure America Act ties future legal immigration to the ebbs and flows of the economy, adjusting the annual caps accordingly. In other words, unlike 1986 which only dealt with immigrants already here, the Secure America Act would also account for immigrants coming in the future.

Fourthly, the Secure America Act creates an employment verification system that eliminates the plausible deniability of the employer sanctions in 1986. The new system provides for an electronic and instant verification system that will indicate that employees are employable. The new system will employ updated technology that will make the cards harder to counterfeit, and will eventually replace the paper-based system of green cards, Social Security cards, multiple immigration documents, birth certificates, and driver's licenses, all of which are easily forgeable and readily available on the black market. For employers that still find themselves unable or unwilling to play by the rules, the Secure America Act not only makes them stand out in the crowd, it doubles the fines they will have to pay.

Fifthly, the Secure America Act beefs up border and interior enforcement. The Border Patrol, relieved of a good percentage of the illegal flow because there are now legal channels to accommodate it, can be more efficient in zeroing in on those who still need to sneak in because they cannot stand U.S. Government scrutiny. This reduces the flow across the ranches of Douglas, AZ, and increases the anti-terrorism/anti-drug/anti-smuggling capacity of our Border Patrol and other law enforcement resources.

Finally, the Secure America Act recognizes and addresses the costs associated with new immigrants settling in communities with already stretched budgets. It will not only require English language proficiency, but deploy the resources needed to make it a reality in communities, while also addressing added costs for health care and crime prevention/incarceration.

So, in my opinion, the Secure America Act is light-years beyond the short-sighted law of 1986 and while I don't love every aspect (it is a compromise between two parties that don't see eye to eye on this issue or much else), it stands the best chance of passage and effective implementation.

If you see a better alternative that really controls immigration and can garner bipartisan support, I'd love to know about it.

Douglas G. Rivlin
Director of Communication
National Immigration Forum
50 F Street, NW, #300
Washington, DC 20001 USA

Thanks again to Mr. Rivlin. Readers, your comments are welcome.

UPDATES: Mark in Mexico has some thoughts (and many links) about all this. He gets hit with the usual blinkered nativist comments from some of his readers.

For an anti-terrorism perspective on this issue, see The Counter-Terrorism Blog, which, by the way, is an interesting blog in its own right.

Finally, this story from the L.A. Times (via Hugh Hewitt) is the kind of thing that ought to keep President Bush awake at night. Hugh's comments are right on target.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lileks on Gitmo and al-Qahtani

Lileks deconstructs here a Time Magazine story about the U.S. interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, "who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th hijacker, a compatriot of Osama bin Laden and a man who had tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001 to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks."

Keeping in mind who Mr. al-Qahtani is purported to be, Lileks' typically satiric take is well worth the read.

Flag Day 2005: The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier

I have posted about the Tomb before in this October 14, 2004, post, and repeated the same information here again today in honor of Flag Day and my late mother's birthday. I later learned, however, from friend and reader Matthew Peek of Lone Tree on The Prairie, that my original post (picked up from an e-mail) contained a mixture of truth and myth. All of that is sorted out at (Thanks, Matthew, for the object lesson on the blogosphere's ability to self-correct.)

So, for the real story on the Tomb of the Unknowns, go to the Arlington National Cemetery site here, or to this site. There is plenty of good reliable information on both sites that Americans should know and remember.

The Arlington site begins thus:

The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns

The Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.

Changing of the GuardAfter members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry become ceremonially qualified, they are eligible to volunteer for duty as sentinels at the Tomb. If accepted, they are assigned to Company E of The Old Guard. Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with a proportionate weight and build. An interview and a two-week trial to determine a volunteer's capability to train as a tomb guard is required.

The entire page is well worth reading.

God Bless and keep them.

Monday, June 13, 2005

What You Would Hear on Television If You Were A Saudi

This is interesting: A translation by MEMRI of an interview with Egyptian historian Professor Zaynab Abd Al-Aziz, which aired on Saudi Iqra TV on May 26, 2005. An excerpt from the "historian's" comments:

"Well, do you remember what we just said about the Second Vatican Council
in 1965 and about Christianizing the world? It was agreed upon and pre-arranged. John Paul II prepared a five-year plan, on the eve of the third millennium, Christianize the world. His address in 1995 was based on the assumption that by the year 2000, the entire world would be Christianized. Since the plan was not accomplished, the World Council of Churches assigned this mission to the US in January 2001, since the US is the world's unrivaled military power. They named the decade between 2001-2010 "the age of eradicating evil" – "evil" referring to Islam and Muslims.

"The Crusader war is ongoing, because it has been a religious war since the dawn of Islam. Later, colonialism, missionaries, and Christianization were introduced. The Crusader war is ongoing. The Inquisition courts exist to this day. As I told you, the pope who was appointed a few days ago, headed the Inquisition Court, which is now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"When in January 2001, the World Council of Churches delegated this mission to the US - what did the US do? It fabricated the show of … is it September 9 or 11?"

Surely our friends the Saudis, whose country produced 15 of the 19 September 11 hijacker-murderers, are doing all they can to assure that this remarkable version of history is challenged by opposing points of view . . . .

A Game of Blog Tag, with A Book Meme

I'm new to this blogger tag thing, but because it came to me from my esteemed fellow SCBA blogger John Schroeder of Blogotional, I'll play along. Bloggers are tagging each other with a "book meme." "Meme" is one of those I words I hardly ever saw before the rise of the blogosphere. According to Merriam-Webster Online, a meme is "an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture." Well, the blogosphere is certainly a culture.

Here goes:

Total number of books owned, ever:

I have no idea. We like books and we have lots of them-- history, children's, textbooks, religious, politics, self-help, you name it. I'll guess 1,000.

Last book I bought:

Just last Saturday, I purchased a one-volume set of what my church calls "the Standard Works:" The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. It was a gift for my 8 year-old daughter, who was just baptized and confirmed.

Last book I read:

  • John Adams, by David McCullough. It read like a novel and helped me appreciate the Founders much more than I had previously.

Five books that mean a lot to me: This is not easy, and this list is not exclusive, but here are six, not five:

  • Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. It's a great yarn, and no one's better than Dickens as spinning tales. I intend to read everything Dickens ever wrote, and am about halfway to that goal.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird: I read it when I was 14 and haven't been the same since.
  • Paul's Epistle to Philemon: I know this is an odd one to choose, and it's not really a book. Heck, it's barely a page long! But I love Paul's teaching here about mercy and forgiveness, and if John can include Romans as one of his, then I can include little old Philemon.
  • The Brothers Karamazov: Perhaps Dostoevsky's greatest.
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: This book organizes timeless principles of human interaction in a way that makes them more usable and easier to incorporate into one's life. Self-help books have become unfashionable lately, but I do not care. This is a great one.
  • Moby Dick: I'm only halfway through, but this book is changing me for the better-- perhaps the highest praise anyone can confer on a book.
Okay, I've done my duty. Now, in accordance with the rules of this particular game of blog-tag, I need to tag 5 others -- here they are (in no special order):

Rick Brady at Stones Cry Out, Dale Baker at Okie On The Lam - In LA, Michael Smith at Wagonboy's Garage, Bonjo at Sons of the Republic, and Teflon at Molten Thought.

Like John, I am looking forward to what these people have to say.

Illegal Immigration - An Editorial That Gets It

In a must-read editorial, Doug MacEachern of the Arizona Republic nails down the two questions that truly must be answered if there is to be a real solution to the problem of illegal imigration:

1. How will your plans provide a result different from the last great "answer" to illegal immigration, the amnesty of 1986?

MacEachern notes that "John McCain, President Bush and Ted Kennedy have failed, so far, to provide an answer" to this question. I agree. In Bush's case perhaps the problem is, as the President recently acknowledged to Republican leaders, he has not done a good job of communicating his policy plans to the people. I again agree. A MacEachern excerpt:

Since 1986, an estimated 8 million foreign-born non-citizens who by law should not be in the United States live illegally in the United States. At the very least, whatever becomes the new law - if anything ever becomes law - must credibly address what the '86 amnesty obvious did not.

If immigration legislation does not help stem the human tide rushing across the ranches of Douglas in the dark of night, its sponsors really need to ask themselves why they are even bothering.

2. How do you deal with the human-scale reality of the millions of people living in this country now?

MacEachern argues, correctly, I think, that this question is "one that Pat Buchanan, Mesa Rep. Russell Pearce and serious policy analysts like Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies have failed to answer." More from MacEachern:

People who play the snotty game of illegal-alien sanctimony - "what part of illegal don't you understand?" - apparently believe illegals exist in isolation in some fanciful land called "Mexican Holler."
It's a great piece. Read it all.

ADDENDUM: For a collection of my posts on the illegal immigration issue, go here. If you're a nativist you'll hate my posts. If you're a free immigrationist, you'll hate them too. If, however, you are a wise, thoughtful, fair-minded person, you'll agree with me. (Just kidding. Comment away!)

One Solid Year of The Hedgehog Blog!

Just thought I'd mark the anniversary, which was actually yesterday, when I was too busy to post anything.

A few thanks are in order.

  • Thanks to all my friends and family who visit here and still want to associate with me. I've had over 51,000 hits in the last year, and I imagine those folks have lots to do with that.

  • Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, who spoke incessantly of blogs until I finally realized that with about 30 minutes' investment of time I could have my own blog. Before then I was limited to e-mailing everyone I knew whose e-mail address I had and whose political views were sufficiently similar to mine that I knew I would probably not offend them.

Bottom line: Without Hugh, I would not have a blog. Hugh even lets me call in to his show from time to time, which is just a heck of a lot of fun.

Hugh Hewitt: The only person
I know of who is my age . . .
and has grayer hair than I do.

I note with pleasure that I knew none of these good people one year ago; now they are my blogospheric friends and allies.

Long before this blog's next anniversary I will have changed the look of my site and probably will have moved from Blogger. Stay tuned!

Thanks, everyone. Onward and upward. Here's to the blogosphere and to the "wedia!"

UPDATE: Welcome, readers! And thanks to Hugh for the link.

Who would have thought such a tiny creature could cause such a stir?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday Morning Musings, June 11, 2005


Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of this blog's existence. It seems like yesterday. My very first post is here, about the passing and funeral of Ronald Reagan. Looking back, that was a fitting beginning for this little effort.

Gitmo: The Center of Evil in The World

Or at least that's what you would think if you read only the MSM newspapers. This op-ed piece by Mark Steyn is right on target; read the whole thing. Among other things, Steyn comments on Tom Friedman's argument that Gitmo should be shut down because of the negative "perceptions" it is fostering in the rest of the world. I like Friedman, but sometimes, and on the Abu Ghraib-Gitmo issue in particular, he can be a little hysterical.

Steyn's response to Friedman:

And would caving in to those negative perceptions lead to any better press from the Guardian or Le Monde? Nobody got killed in Gitmo, so instead America is being flayed as the planet'’s number one torturer for being insufficiently respectful to the holy book of its prisoners, even though the Americans themselves supplied their prisoners with the holy book, even though the preferred holy book of most Americans is banned in the home country of many of the prisoners, even though Americans who fall into the hands of the other side get their heads hacked off, even though the prisoners'’ co-religionists themselves blow up more mosques and Korans than Americans ever do, and even though the alleged insufficient respect to the prisoners' holy book occurred at a rate of one verified incident of possibly intentional disrespect per year. But sure, go ahead, close Gitmo and wait for the torrent of rave reviews -— right after the complaints that it is culturally insensitive to rebuild the World Trade Center when it'’s the burial site of ten devout Muslim flying enthusiasts.

As Rule 18 of that Manchester manual makes plain, the Islamists understand the West'’s fetish for self-torture. After all, you wouldn'’t bother alleging torture if you were held captive in Saudi Arabia or Syria or the jails of Ahmed Aboul Gheit'’s government in Egypt. If you "‘complained to the court of mistreatment" in Cairo, Mr Gheit'’s judges would say, "‘And your point is?"’ But I wonder if the Islamists'’ ability to play the Western press like a fiddle is quite so smart in the long run. The majority of Americans have a higher regard for their military than their media, and for the jihad to retain its power in the popular imagination it has to be credible. When Newsweek, CBS et al fall over themselves to shill for Islamist spin-doctors, complaining that the infidels are not handling the Koran in appropriately submissive ways, they risk turning the jihad into one huge laughing stock. In that sense, the whiners are doing far more damage to Islam than the urinators are.
No one says it like Mark Steyn.

UPDATE: Power Line has more on this, not to be missed.

The Way of The Left

Ben Stein details a depressing but unsurprising example of how modern academia-- at least, the part of it that can't get out of the 60's-- thinks.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Update on The New Man

As a follow-up to this post below, James Lileks has a devastating take-down here. Excerpt:

. . . have men unilaterally decided to project an aura of servility, errancy, femininity and weakness? (It’s certainly easier to live that way. Easier to curl up than stand up, to coin an annoyingly facile phrase.) These aren’t exactly qualities that women appreciate, despite all the nonsense we were told in the 60s and 70s. There are some women, no doubt, who want sunken-chested twits who embody the Dan Hill school of masculinity – you know, sometimes when we touch the honesty’s too much and I have to close my eyes and hide approach. Most don’t.


The Weird Ward Churchill Saga

This editorial in the Rocky Mountain News suggests that Professor Churchill has to go. I've never paid much attention to him but it appears that he made a mistake in drawing attention to himself. Anyone with that many skeletons in his closet should keep some bags packed for the day when the doors are finally thrown open.

John Kerry, Form 180, And The Candor Question

Try as he might, John Kerry can't seem to come across as candid about his military records. Mickey Kaus has a pretty good roundup, and lots of questions, here.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Watch Out! Here Comes The "New (Continental) Man"

Apparently based on a study done by European fashion industry insiders, the industry has planned a massive change in strategy based on the study's vision of the coming "new man." Here's how the report was summarized yesterday to Fashion Group International (in Paris, of course):

"The masculine ideal is being completely modified. All the traditional male values of authority, infallibility, virility and strength are being completely overturned," said Pierre Francois Le Louet, the agency's managing director.

Instead today's males are turning more towards "creativity, sensitivity and multiplicity," as seen already in recent seasons on the catwalks of Paris and Milan.

Arnold Schwarznegger and Sylvester Stallone are being replaced by the 21st-century man who "no longer wants to be the family super-hero", but instead has the guts to be himself, to test his own limits.

"We are watching the birth of a hybrid man. ... Why not put on a pink-flowered shirt and try out a partner-swapping club?" asked Le Louet, stressing that the study had focused on men aged between 20 and 35.

So now I have this question for all of this blog's readers who are women: How many of you would be attracted to a man who shows up for a first date in a pink-flowered shirt and expresses his enthusiasm for partner-swapping?

This story will be very useful the next time my son asks me for a working definition of the word "asinine." Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Janice Rogers Brown: Why Do They Oppose Her So?

The Washington Post cites this statement by Justice Brown as one that inflames Ted Kennedy, NARAL, and others:

Democrats recited a litany of Brown's controversial statements, including several from a 2000 speech titled "Fifty Ways to Lose Your Freedom." She said senior citizens "blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have a right to get as much 'free' stuff as the political system will permit them to extract." Elsewhere, Brown has said: "Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates. . . . When government advances . . . freedom is imperiled, civilization itself [is] jeopardized."
Isn't that shocking? A highly-educated African-American daughter of sharecroppers who distrusts the welfare state? We can't allow people with such views to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals! Someone like that might end up on the U.S. Supreme Court, and then what would the owners of the liberal plantation do?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Kerry The Bright Scholar, and Bush The Dunce . . . No, Wait, Maybe Not

Check out this Boston Globe article in which G.W. Bush and John Kerry are shown to be equally average students in college. After the way the MSM covered the race, who'da thunk it?

Hmm, where have we seen this before? Back in 2000, it was Gore the heady intellectual against Bush the dummy. (After all, Gore wrote Earth in The Balance!) No mention of Gore's mediocre Harvard grades and washing out of both divinity school and law school. No credit to Bush for completing Harvard Business School. Yada, yada, yada.

By the way, about Kerry's photo in this Globe article . . . well, I don't know about you, but it inspires a little pity in me. Ouch!

UPDATE: James Taranto's Best of the Web Today has some incisive comments on this news:

So Kerry was almost as distinguished a scholar as the schoolmate who went on to become president of the United States. That doesn't seem so bad--but for candidate Kerry, it would have been devastating. After all, much of Kerry's appeal, such as it was, rested on intellectual snobbery. His supporters described him, in the words of a March 2004 New York Times report, as "an intellectual who grasps the subtleties of issues, inhabits their nuances and revels in the deliberative process." In this view, Kerry's nose for nuance contrasted favorably with Bush's simplisme.

But what if Kerry simply lacked the ability to express himself clearly? Consider his answer when asked in a September 2003 debate to reconcile his vote for Iraq's liberation with his subsequent opposition: "The vote is the vote. I voted to authorize. It was the right vote, and the reason I mentioned the threat is that we gave the--we had to give life to the threat. If there wasn't a legitimate threat, Saddam Hussein was not going to allow inspectors in. Now, let me make two points if I may. . . ."

He went on in this vein for 248 words (quoted in full here), and only someone with a superior intellect and too much time on his hands could possibly have made sense of his answer. "People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can't understand," IQ expert Linda Gottfredson told the Times' John Tierney last year. The revelation that Kerry was no better a student than Bush suggests that this is just what happened.

I remember Kerry's vacuous circumlocutions well. He never got in trouble in the MSM for them, however, because he was thought to be the bigger brain of the two candidates.

This will happen again because of the general conceit of the chattering classes that liberals are inherently smarter and more intellectually gifted than conservatives. Wait and see.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Mitt Romney, The Great Mentioner, And The Future

Writing in today's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby notes that with cover stories in both The Weekly Standard and National Review, Governor Romney "
has certainly attracted the Great Mentioner's notice. With the first '08 primaries still 30 months away, that's not a bad start."

So what about this Romney fellow? He's a very interesting candidate, and I blogged a little about him in this post below just a few days ago. The Weekly Standard article, by Terry Eastland, was over 6,000 words long and devoted much of that space to Romney's LDS (Mormon) religion. The National Review article is just as comprehensive; it is available here, but apparently only to subscribers, unless I'm missing something. (Side note: If you're a conservative and spend a fair amount of time on line, I think the $21.95 annual on-line subscription fee for National Review is well worth it.)

The one negative blip on this positive screen, so far, has been an unfortunate statement by Michael Murphy, who is described as "Romney's political strategist." Answering questions on Romney's position on abortion, Murphy said ''He's been a prolife Mormon faking it as prochoice friendly."

Whoops. Murphy has since said he didn't really mean that statement in the way he certainly seems to have meant it. Romney already had work to do to convince GOP primary voters that they can take his statements on the abortion issue seriously; now it will be even harder. It seems to me that Murphy may have to be dismissed as well.

But enough about all that. What about the candidate himself? I happened to surf my way to C-SPAN Friday night and caught a speech Romney was giving to a Republican group in (where else?) New Hampshire. I had never seen the man speak before.

I was mesmerized. Romney is telegenic and articulate (although he needs to learn to slow down just a little). He has the command of detail that Bill Clinton used to display, without Clinton's cloying mock sincerity. He is funny. He seems very, very smart. He is comfortable with himself and self-effacing. He is conservative.

I started to imagine Romney debating Hillary Clinton on national TV and my heart rate picked up just a little. I said to my wife, "Hey, sweetheart, I really like George Allen too, but we might really have something here."

I still think so. Check this candidate out. He's pretty exciting.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Judicial Confirmations and The Truth-Challenged Sid Blumenthal

This Power Line post defies easy summary. Let's just say it is:

  • Educational, as to both Senate traditions and procedures;
  • Devastating to Sidney Blumenthal and to his false vanity, dishonesty, and unwillingness to admit he is wrong;
  • Long; and
  • Well worth the read.

Friday, June 03, 2005

MUST-READ: The Air Force Academy and Evangelical Christians

The Air Force Academy Chapel

Frequent guest blogger and honorary Hedgehog Ralph Kostant submits the following trenchant analysis of the recent kerfluffle at the Air Force Academy over religious matters:

The mainstream media have been filled this week with breathless reports of how a senior cadet and honors graduate at the Air Force Academy, Nicholas Jurewicz, had sent an e-mail containing Biblical quotations to 3000 other cadets. This was portrayed as one more grievous example of evangelical Christian strong-arming at the Academy.

Now, I am an Orthodox Jew, so, yes, I do have a dog in this fight. And, quite frankly, I did think the coach at the Academy who put up a Team Jesus Christ banner in the locker room had gone too far—to me that does smack of potentially coercive religious endorsement in a government institution.

But something about this most recent story bothered me—frankly, it smelled. Almost all of the news accounts mentioned only one Biblical quote, from Galatians: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” However, several news accounts mentioned that the Biblical quotes were included among other quotations that Cadet Jurewicz said were meaningful to him. To me, that was the smoking gun that suggested the entire incident was being hysterically overblown.

I have tried, so far without success, to locate a copy of the actual e-mail. But this story from the Colorado Springs Gazette is illuminating. Here is the money quote:

The 22-page attachment contains dozens of quotations on leadership, challenge, war, attitude, love and faith. They’re from a range of authors and famous people, including Erma Bombeck, Plato, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mohandas Gandhi, Isaac Newton, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower and William Shakespeare. Also included are a sprinkling of selections from the Bible, Old and New Testaments.

Plato and Gandhi? Was Jurewicz not only an evangelical Christian, but also an evangelical Greek pagan and an evangelical Hindu? Is he also perhaps a follower of the Erma Bombeck cult? Or is it more likely that he fashioned a farewell message to his fellow cadets, and included quotations that were meaningful to him from a number of sources, including (horrors!) the Bible? Has the hysterical fear of evangelical Christianity reached the point where the Bible cannot be quoted in a secular context as an inspiration and a source of wisdom?

It is fortunate that Abraham Lincoln did not have to deliver his Second Inaugural Address in this atmosphere. In addition to quoting the Bible several times in a short speech, he practically preached a sermon. Speaking of the two sides to the still-raging Civil War, he said:

Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

My word, what would Senator Clinton say?

Ralph B. Kostant

Just When You Thought The Islamofascists Had Reached The Limits of Depravity . . .

. . . this depressing and outrageous report from the Scotsman is evidence that our enemies are still plumbing the depths of inhumanity. I had not seen the report, whic appeared in the Scotsman on January 31, until today.

According to the story, on Iraq's election day, "police at the scene of one the Baghdad blasts said the bomber appeared to have Down’s Syndrome."

Words fail me, except to say that there is surely a special place in hell for these people.

Unintentional Irony in The L.A. Times

Get a load of this lede in today's Times article, "Hollywood rallies for Sen. Clinton:"

Conservatives may strive to portray New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as a polarizing figure, but she unified Hollywood Democratic political donors at a series of fundraisers that netted an estimated $1 million in a single evening, hosts estimated Thursday.
Hmmm. Where, oh where to begin? The phrase "dog bites man" comes to mind.

I am certainly shocked-- shocked!-- to learn that Hillary (who I did think was a polarizing figure) can unify the diverse, open-minded culture of Hollywood behind her presidential hopes. I mean, who'd-a thunk it?

Read the whole article. If you're like me, you'll have one of those deja vu moments: Hollywood rallying behind a big Democrat political savior-- where have we seen that before?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Hollywood Forum: Come to A Groundbreaking Panel Discussion

(Bert Prelutsky is one of the speakers on the HCF panel.)

I just received this announcement from my friend Steve Finefrock, founder of The Hollywood Conservative Forum:

"Bringing The Potomac To The Palisades"

Hollywood Politics: A Panel Discussion

The new HOLLYWOOD FORUM is holding a political-issues panel on Tuesday, June 21st, at a luncheon near Beverly Hills. Two conservative players in Hollywood represent the right: LIONEL CHETWYND ["Celsius 41.11" and "Hanoi Hilton"] and BURT PRELUTSKY ["Newhart" and "M*A*S*H"]. Two liberals are for the left: PETER BART ['Variety' editor-in-chief] and LARRY GELBART ['M*A*S*H' and "Tootsie"].

For a flyer with details, e-mail and mention that you found it on the Hedgehog Blog!
Needless to say, the Hedgehog Blog urges your attendance!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Probable Medal of Honor Winner-- and A Legal Immigrant

Sergeant Peralta

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. --John 15:13

I believe this op-ed piece by Jeff Jacoby first appeared in the Boston Globe. It tells the story of Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who gave (not lost) his life in the Battle of Falluja. More specifically, Peralta was killed in action on Nov. 15 during Operation Dawn, the epic battle to retake that Sunni stronghold.

You must read the whole thing, but this excerpt will get you started:

Rafael Peralta was 25 years old, a Mexican immigrant from San Diego who had enlisted in the Marines as soon as he became a legal resident. He earned his citizenship while on active duty and re-upped in 2004. He was a Marine to the core, so meticulous that when Alpha Company was training in Kuwait, he would send his camouflage uniform out to be pressed.

He was no less passionate about his adopted country: His bedroom wall was adorned with a picture of his boot camp graduation and replicas of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Below, I shared the story of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, who is the first Medal of Honor winner in the Iraq war. After you read Sergeant Peralta's story, you'll probably agree with me that he may well be one of the next recipients of that medal.

UPDATE: Ralph Kostant directed me to this story. In his comment below, Ralph correctly observes:

In the debate over immigration to our country, we must always remember that the issue is illegal immigration, not the nation of origin of the immigrants. Sergeant Rafael Peralta, a naturalized citizen and the son of a naturalized citizen, was a legal immigrant from Mexico. He showed his gratitude to his adopted country by serving it with his last full measure of devotion. Would that we had a million more like him!