Monday, January 31, 2005

And How Did The Voting Go In Fallujah?


For one fascinating perspective, check The Green Side and read a letter home from Lt. Col. David G. Bellon, USMC, who in civilian life is an attorney in San Diego. He has been in Fallujah, or on its outskirts waiting to go in, for months. And yes, he was there to watch the elections yesterday.

Two months ago was free democratic voting in Falujah even imaginable?

Have Any of You Asked Yourselves . . .

the questions I have been asking myself?

When Saddam Hussein next appears in court, will he continue to insist that he is the true president of Iraq?

Will Arab "politicians" and "leaders" who live under an unelected strong man government continue to lecture the United States on the correct means of creating democracy in Iraq?

Will Ted Kennedy actually explode while bloviating about the hoplessness of our misguided adventure in Iraq?

A Summary in Three Cartoon Panels


Yesterday's Day by Day cartoon, courtesy of Power Line:

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Elections (Yes, Those Elections)


Thousands of Iraqis heading to the polls (from Fox News)

Freedom On The March

A busy day, so not much time for blogging. At the end of the day I have found some time to flip around the various news channels, and even MSNBC and CNN seem to acknowledge that today's election was a real success and a devastating blow against the islamofascists and for democracy.

I do not think we realize yet just how wonderful all this is. Look at the photo gallery on the Fox News site just to get a sense of what happened in Iraq today.

Michelle Malkin also has a great photo gallery of Iraqi women voting.

Wagonboy sums all this up beautifully here.

If you want to feel the pride and joy of an Iraqi, read Iraq the Model's account of election day in his country. It will make your day.

Here is an excerpt from Geraldo Rivera's report, which came in the middle of the night, California time:

When I went with these [American soldiers] to the polling station, they stopped about two blocks away. They would not go. They didn't want it to seem as if it was American military might that was pulling this whole thing off. They stayed two blocks away. We walked up to the polling place, first the Iraqi Army, then the Iraqi cops inside. You had a feeling in there, a kind of almost family feeling in this community....An exciting day, an historic day here in Iraq. It is the dawn of freedom....You folks who live in the United States who are watching this, just be proud. Be proud of this. This is amazing. This was inconceivable, wasn't it, during the days of Saddam Hussein. Look how far this country has come. It will heal its wounds. The terrorists are going to lose.
The whole thing is worth reading.

Fox News reports that recently captured documents show that the "insurgency" was set up in advance of the invasion by Saddam Hussein himself. Apparently there were leaders chosen (from among Saddam's Baathist chiefs) and considerable training and strategic planning. That will be an interesting story to watch unfold.

Meanwhile, back in the Bizarro World . . .

I hate to end on a down note, but you all really ought to read John Kerry's comments on the Iraqi elections. Tim Russert had the simply wonderful inspiration to invite Kerry onto Meet The Press today, of all days, and here is the transcript of the good Senator's remarks. An excerpt:

. . . it is significant that there is a vote in Iraq. But no one in the United States or in the world -- and I'm confident of what the world response will be -- no one in the United States should try to overhype this election.

This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation. And it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in.

Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq.

Yup. We've still got to "reach out" to "the international community" (meaning the French and Germans). Excuse me, but what a clueless dope. "Overhype" this election? Is there any major American political leader now living who has more of a tin ear when it comes to freedom and democracy?

Read the whole thing. You'll see that Kerry seems to have, ah, forgotten that he lost the election. It's important for us all to know how blind he is prepared to be, either because he just doesn't get it or because he doesn't want to; clearly he still thinks he can be president.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin comments further on the Kerry Meet The Press interview, and points out that Tim Russert, 3 months late, did grill Kerry about Christmas in Cambodia.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Republicans And African-Americans

This article by Peter Wallsten in today's L.A. Time seems to me to be a fair treatment of the GOP's efforts to invite more black Americans into its tent. The article does gloss over quite a bit of history:

In national elections, black voters began flocking to the Democratic Party in the 1930s, drawn by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal programs.

And the Democrats gained a virtual lock on the black vote in the mid-1960s, as President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed several civil rights bills through Congress while the GOP pursued a "Southern strategy" aimed at courting white voters.

In the years that followed, Republicans led the fights against affirmative action and the creation of a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
It's true that the New Deal was the big development that caused black voters to migrate from the GOP to the Democrats, but the way the Democrats came out of Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s represents one of the greatest bits of spinning any political party has been able to achieve.

Did you know, for example, that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 saw more Republicans support it than Democrats? One of the leading voices supporting the bill was Senator Everett Dirksen, the Senate Minority Leader and a Republican. Senator Dirksen received the NAACP's Man of The Year award in 1964 for his support of the bill, which would have been killed by southern Democrats and could not have passed without GOP support. 80 percent of Republicans voted for the bill compared with the 63 percent of Democrats. Yet to read history books (and Mr. Wallsten's story) one would think of the Civil Right Act as a great Democrat acomplishment.

Nixon's "Southern Strategy" was aimed at attracting anti-crime, pro-Vietnam War voters to his candidacy. It had nothing to do with race, and Nixon raised no racial wedge issues.

In fact, Richard Nixon was quite a progressive on civil rights. Guess who invented the term "affirmative action?" Yes, Nixon, who moved to initiate the “Philadelphia Order,” calling for fair hiring practices in construction jobs. He said, “We would not impose quotas, but would require federal contractors to show ‘affirmative action’ to meet the goals of increasing minority employment.” Since then affirmative action has become a proper subject for national debate and several federal appellate court decisions, but to say Republicans are "leading fights against affirmative action" is to oversimplify the matter greatly.

Republicans are still the party of Lincoln. Do we have more to do? Yes, but we have nothing to be ashamed of and much to be very proud of.

Saturday Morning Musings - Iraqi Election Day


There is a lot out there today. Some highlights from where I sit:

The Iraqi Elections

I have found several must-reads, and this LA Times profile of three Iraqis who are voting from California in today's elections is one of them. Snippets:

"This is the first time all Iraqis are coming together under one agenda," Newport Coast resident Yousif said. "These are people who have been pushed, crumbled into tiny little pieces, and finally they feel now there is hope for justice, truth and fairness."

. . .

Father Gorgis, 38, is pastor of St. Paul Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church in North Hollywood . . . . He plans to vote for the People's Unity Party because he supports one of its leaders, a Chaldean expert in international law, and the party platform calling for a secular constitution.

Asked if he supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he quickly corrected the questioner.

"I don't see it as an invasion; I look at it as liberation," he said. . . .

Shali, 54, is a telecommunications entrepreneur from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. . . . The elections, he said, may finally usher in the freedom for his homeland that he has marveled at in the United States.

"Americans who live in this country don't treasure this freedom," he said. "Americans take it for granted. If only they came from somewhere that's oppressed."
Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, here's a Belmont Club link to an interview with Chaldean Bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk. The bishop states:

[T]he current government is provisional but, after the elections, it will be the result of popular vote. Iraqis have the opportunity to choose their leaders, those they prefer. The elections are something immense and new. Nothing of the kind has happened in the past 50 years: first because of clashes and revolts, then due to 35 years of dictatorship. There has never been freedom of expression. But now, anything is possible: If there are people and parties arguing and clashing, that is because they are free to do so. Now, Iraqis must learn to discuss in a civil manner. But the people of Iraq have never been trained for coexistence; they have always lived in the midst of violence: three wars, a dictatorship, 13 years of embargo. This is why freedom is not used in a responsible way and problems arise.
Read Hugh generally today; his site is rich with great links. He broadcast from the the old Marine Corps Air Station El Toro Friday as Iraqis from across the western United States travelled there to vote. Alas, I could not listen.

Finally, Steven Hadley, President Bush's National Security Advisor, writing in the Washington Post:

After more than three decades of unspeakable tyranny and a year of terror and intimidation, the very fact of this election will be a triumph for the Iraqi people and a defeat for the terrorists. Instead of exaggerating any imperfections, democrats around the world should celebrate the election as both a milestone in the advance of liberty and a source of profound hope to all the people of Iraq.
The Democrats' Scorched-Earth Strategy

I've been impressed (negatively) by the Democrat Party's over-the-top approach to every major issue (Barbara Boxer abusing Condi Rice, Ted Kennedy ranting in his borderline traitorous speech on Iraq at Johns Hopkins, Harry Reid claiming Bush aims to "destroy" Social Security). Fred Barnes analyzes that, ah, excessive approach here and argues that it won't work if the White House responds appropriately.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Whither The Democrats?

Orrin Judd offers this comment on the current state of the Democratic Party:

Inexplicably, Democrats would appear to discern some other lesson when they look back over recent history. It may be understandable that the most committed members of the Left cannot embrace free market reforms, but that this is the moment the New Democrats would choose to fold up their tent and meekly join with Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi beggars the imagination. The Party looks to be swimming against the tide of history and runs the risk of being swept away. George Bush just became the first Republican to win the presidency with majorities in the House and Senate since Calvin Coolidge and the first re-elected president of either party to gain seats in both chambers since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. Even whatever remains of the New Democrats are still trying to convince themselves this is an aberration, but the evidence suggests that, as Ronald Reagan used to say: "You ain't seen nothin' yet!"

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Full Disclosure

There's been a lot of attention paid lately to op-ed journalists failing to disclose that they are getting paid by the people they're writing about. Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher are the poster children for this problem.

The controversy spread, in a way, to bloggers. Several prominent members of the blogosphere have admitted taking money from those about whom they write. Read about that here.

The consensus seems to be that it's all right for journalists and bloggers to take money from the subjects of their articles and posts, but the financial relationship should be disclosed. With that in mind, I have taken a deep breath, placed tongue firmly in cheek, and will now come clean.

Let it be known to everyone reading this space that I don't get any money from anyone about whom I write. Zip. Zero. Nada. Am I happy about this? Well, no. Having a potential conflict like that is a problem I'd love to have. So if there's anyone out there who wants to pay me for writing about you or your favorite cause, pleeeeease contact me. Of course I will disclose the relationship, but that should not bother you.

My biggest problem is that I average about 100 hits per day on this blog. That is not enough to attract even a sniff of interest from any advertiser. But folks! Rome was not built in a day! Do not be short-sighted. Now is your chance to get in on the ground floor. Pay to support the Hedgehog Blog!

If you are interested, you know where to find me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quote of The Day (Maybe of The Week)


"To Iraqis, the elections are no longer theoretical. With voting less than a week away, there is electricity in the air. Pundits and politicians can discuss whether the elections should go forward, but for most Iraqis, such debates are moot. Democracy may be a process, but it is one in which Iraqis are ready to take the first step"

--Michael Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly, writing from Baghdad in the Washington Post.

Hugh Hewit Vox Blogoli Udpate

Jonathan Rauch has responded to the Vox Blogoli posts of yesterday, and has done so in an impressive manner. Read Mr. Rauch's fair and open-minded comments here. In light of this development, Hugh has re-opened the V.B., but I don't know if I will get to it today.

A Newly Discovered Blog; Guns; and Butter

New Blog (to me, at least)

Thanks to my "comments" function below I become acquainted with new blogs all the time. The latest is Molten Thought, added to my "Interesting Blogs" blogroll below. Well-selected topics, thoughtfully analyzed. Worth a visit from your eyeballs!


This morning NBC's "Today" show ran video today of Roy Hallums, an American being held hostage in Iraq. Mr. Hallums had a gun to his head and was mouthing anti-American statements. Do any of you ask yourselves, "Isn't NBC doing exactly what the murdering terrorists want them to do? Isn't NBC simply airing terrorist propaganda? Why?" I do.

UPDATE: Cheat Seeking Missiles reports a ghastly act of bad taste and insensitivity by a newspaper covering the Hallums story.


A commenter below asks me to comment on this L.A. Times article, entitled "$1.3 Trillion in Deficits Forecast Over Decade; Cumulative total is 60% more than the estimates of just four months ago." The lede:

The budget deficit is becoming a knottier problem in the short term and will be a potentially catastrophic one in the future, the Congressional Budget Office reported today.
I am not a budget wonk, but I can offer the following:

  1. I am not happy about huge budget deficits. Very few conservatives are.
  2. Nevertheless, we have heard this before. Ronald Reagan cut taxes and increased military spending to unprecedented levels. He was supposedly going to spend the country into oblivion. Democrats, the fathers and grandfathers of deficit spending, cried huge crocodile tears. (One wonders whether they would have been so appalled if the deficit spending had been for social entitlement programs.) The country then proceeded to have seven years of unprecedented growth, attributed to Reagan's tax cuts. Won't Bush's tax cuts have the same effect? If not, why not?
  3. There's a war on that we simply must win. That costs lots of money. How well do you think the economy would react if islamofascists exploded a small nuclear bomb in New York City?
  4. The Times article helpfully notes:
The near-term deficits pale beside the CBO's admittedly rough projections for 2030, when all the baby boom generation will have reached eligibility for Social Security and Medicare.

If they keep growing at current rates, those two programs plus Medicaid for the poor will be nearly as large a share of the national economy as the entire budget is now, the CBO said.
Hmm. Does that factoid perhaps prove too much? Maybe the Times is unwittingly making the argument for reform in those two programs so that we do not get to that point.

What do you all think? Comment away!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hugh Hewitt Vox Blogoli Discussion

Hugh invites comments on this passage by Jonathan Rauch, excerpted from The Atlantic:

On balance it is probably healthier if religious conservatives are inside the political system than if they operate as insurgents and provocateurs on the outside. Better they should write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics. The same is true of the left. The clashes over civil rights and Vietnam turned into street warfare partly because activists were locked out of their own party establishments and had to fight, literally, to be heard. When Michael Moore receives a hero’s welcome at the Democratic National Convention, we moderates grumble; but if the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around.
I am pressed for time, so can comment only briefly on this interesting thought, which is based on faulty, intellectually lazy assumptions and (not surprisingly) comes to the wrong conclusion.

Faulty Assumptions

Rauch indulges in three of these:

1. Religious conservatives will turn to violence if excluded from party participation.

This assumption reflects the sort of maddening condescension towards conservatives that is all too common among convinced liberals. Am I, a solid mainstream religious Republican conservative, of the same ilk as the people who resort to violence? Certainly not. Neither are the thousands (millions?) of others who share my views. Yet Rauch jauntily notes that it is better for "religious conservatives" to “write anti-abortion planks into the Republican platform than bomb abortion clinics." It's really quite an infuriating notion when you stop to think about it. But that's how liberals see the world: There are "moderates" like them, and then there a benighted conservatives, meaning anyone who sees the world from any position to their right.

2. The 60's protesters were forced into their behavior.

Here we have an excuse for left-wing protesters who engaged in violence in the 60's. Does Rauch really mean to say that those people who blew up or set fire to buildings would not have done so if only they had been made delegates to the Democratic National Convention? Is there no room in Rauch's thinking for personal responsibility? And since when has left-wing ideology tended toward peaceful participation as a first option? From Lenin to the IWW to the early U.S. labor unions to the Yippies, that end of the philosophical spectrum has a pretty incendiary tradition, it seems to me.

3. Michael Moore was more than just a passing Democrat fancy.

Rauch seems to think that Moore was actually a true Democrat lion, accepted into the party, and made a "hero" thereof. I'm not so sure. As Roger L. Simon notes, the Hollywood left

"adopted Moore for a short while to make a point which is now fading even for them. Most people in Hollywood now see, although maybe they won't admit it, that democracy in Iraq is extremely important. For Moore, it's over."
Read Simon's entire piece.

As for the Dems, they're running away from Moore as fast as they can.

Wrong Conclusion

Rauch comes down to this: "[I]f the parties engage fierce activists while marginalizing tame centrists, that is probably better for the social peace than the other way around." So the political "wing-nuts" should run the major parties, and "tame centrists" (whoever they are) should be "marginalized?" This is dilletantish thinking. (Yes, that is a word. I checked.) Someone who has taken Political Science 101 and has actually glanced at The Federalist Papers at some point might respond that a major goal of Constitutional government is to minimize the influence of factions, to allow all voices to be heard, and to somehow govern from the confluence of all those voices. That's where all our talk about a "big tent" comes from.

In short, Rauch doesn't understand conservatives, he's too forgiving of violence, and trusts left-wing ideology far too much. Above all, he doesn't seem to have thought too carefully about all this. Why would a writer for such a prestigious publication write such a weak piece?

Who knows? Maybe he just had a deadline.

UPDATE: Evangelical Outpost notes:

Rauch uses religious conservative as an example, implying that by including them in the process we reduce the incidents of abortion clinic bombings. He may have a valid point. From 1995 to 2003, there were over 700,000 reported cases of arson and bombings with abortion clinics being the target of only 49 cases of arson and 11 bombings. Since that accounts for .00008 of all arsons during that eight-year period, the “religious conservatives” must have felt included enough not to react with violence.

During that same period, however, there were over 2,400 attacks on churches, synagogues, and temples. Compared to abortion clinics, religious facilities were forty times more likely to be attacked. Perhaps then its time to start marginalizing “religious conservatives” and engaging those who are intolerant of religion.

This may even explain the Democratic Party’s marginalization of religious Americans. It’s not that they don’t want to include us, it's just that they’re applying the logic of Rauch.


Quote of The Day: Hollywood and Conservatives


Andrew Breitbart, co-author of "Hollywood Interrupted," interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, Friday, January 14 in National Review Online:

Hollywood royalty wishes to maintain an adversarial relationship with its fan base. Many stars sought fame and fortune to escape their bourgeois upbringings. By fetishizing the poor and oppressed, and in honoring Fidel [Castro]'s revolution, this substantive celebrity subgroup advocates an unachievable egalitarian ideal while creating a wedge between themselves and their fellow countrymen in the wretched middle class.

It goes without saying that Leo DiCaprio would rather be seen in Havana than caught dead at Wal-Mart. . . .

It is a very emotional situation from a very emotional group of people. These are not the type of people you would want next to you in a bunker during war. . . .

To my surprise I am finding that there are a lot more non-liberals in Hollywood than I had once suspected. It's just that they live in the closet. Until things change I still can't recommend they come out either.

Conservatives exist in the closet in Hollywood because they know the nature of hiring out here. People hire people they are comfortable with. And most liberals in Hollywood detest conservatives.
Hat tip to a friend, a secret Hollywood liberal. The entire article is a great read, especially if (like me) you are forced to pay attention to the entertainment industry.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A Request from Those Standing in Harm's Way for Democracy

Although anyone who knows me knows I am a religious person, my blog is not overtly religious, and I seldom post religious material here. But the following tugged at my heart-strings and comes from a very trusted source, and I feel compelled to post it here. Please link to this and pass it on to others as you see fit.

From Captain Lyle Shackleford, a U.S. Army Battalion Chaplain in Iraq:

As a transportation battalion, my unit will be delivering the voting machines and the ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq during the upcoming elections. (January 30/31).

Our convoys are prime targets for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have the chance to vote; timely delivery must occur so that the elections occur.

Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for the electoral process.

Historically, the previous totalitarian regime would not allow individual citizens to vote. Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process fails.

Announce this prayer request to your contacts throughout your churches, neighborhoods, and places of business. Those with leadership roles within the local church post this message in as many newsletters and bulletins as possible.

There is unlimited potential for God's presence in this process but if we do not pray then our enemy will prevail (See Ephesians 6:10-17).

A prayer vigil prior to the end of the month may be an innovative opportunity for those within your sphere of influence to pray. This is a political battle that needs spiritual intervention.

A powerful story about God's intervention in the lives of David's mighty men is recorded in 2 Samuel 23:8-33. David and his warriors were victorious because of God's intervention. We want to overcome those who would stand in the way of freedom.

David's mighty men triumphed over incredible odds and stood their ground and were victorious over the enemies of Israel. (Iraqi insurgents vs God's praying people). They don't stand a chance.

I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and move outside our installation gates here at Tallil. My soldiers are at the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them; it is a historical mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots, no elections.

Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to give democracy a chance in this war torn country.

Thank you for reading this e-mail. Please give this e-mail a wide dissemination.
Thank you for your prayer support for me and my family. Stand firm in your battles.

CH (CPT) Lyle Shackelford
Battalion Chaplain
HHD, 57th Transportation Battalion

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Read The Mudville Gazette

For the next 7 days, at least until the Iraqi elections, any American interested in freedom should read The Mudville Gazette and forward links to everyone you know. If you have your own blog, link to that superb and important blog.

After you've read Mudville, read Friends of Democracy, a new Iraqi blog reporting "ground level election news" from that country. The site reports on a recently-issued Zarqawi tape:

"We have declared a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it," the speaker says. Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for many bombings and beheadings in Iraq. The US has put a $25m (£13m) reward on his head. Correspondents say the voice on the latest recording sounded similar to that on other messages attributed to the fugitive, whose group is linked to al-Qaeda. It attacked democracy as a springboard for "un-Islamic" practices, claiming that its emphasis on majority rule violated the principle that all laws must come from a divine source. "Candidates in elections are seeking to become demi-gods, while those who vote for them are infidels," it said.
So Zarqawi has come out against democracy, huh? Not a big surprise but it's nice to hear him come clean about it. What a cockroach.

Can This Be? Hugh Hewitt on The L.A. Times Editorial Page? (I hope you can find it, by the way . . . .)

Hugh Hewitt

One of my Sunday rituals (well, most Sundays) it to glance at the L.A. Times editorial page to see if there are any interesting signed editorials. I automatically skip the unsigned ones because I have found them to have something interesting and unpredictable to say exactly once in the last ten years. I also skip Robert Scheer when he appears; I have never found him to say anything that was not a predictable left-wing rant. Usually he is laughably over the top.

But today-- today!-- there is a piece by Hugh Hewitt criticizing the Times. The introduction to the column describes it as "an experimental column in which the Los Angeles Times invites outside critics to slap around a Southern California newspaper that has a two-part (or bigger) Sunday Calendar section." (Huh? I don't get the Calendar reference.)

It's a fine example if Hugh's work and a must-read.

One caveat, however: There is some reason to believe that this, the Times' first such effort at allowing serious outside criticism, is, well, a little half-hearted. I saw Hugh's piece in the print edition and then went on-line to find the link to use on this blog. Lo and behold, the Hewitt column was nowhere to be found in the Times op-ed section, at least in the on-line edition. Nowhere-- even though that's the section where it appears in the print edition. I finally had to do a search of today's paper for the word "Hewitt" to find the piece, which is listed among Times "articles."

In other words, you really have to hunt to find Hugh's "article" in the Times on-line. Oh, well. There will be plenty of links to it anyway. And the Times deserves a lot of credit for allowing such critical commentary. I hope it lasts and that they pay attention.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Just In Case You Missed the Spongebob Squarepants Controversy

Instapundit gives a bit of a summary here. And James Dobson's statement is here.

I have to confess that when I first read of this I thought Dobson had overreached. Now I think he has been wronged. And I would not want my 7 year-old daughter seeing that video, simply because she has no idea what "sexual identity" even means.

Someone Gets the Bush Inaugural Speech Just About Right

David Gelernter is one of the most formidable thinkers in America today. In this Weekly Standard piece Gelernter comes perilously close to nit-picking the president's speech to death, but I think he gets it mostly right. After a number of criticisms, Gelernter concludes:

Reactionaries have more time than radicals to polish their prose. Democrats have had plenty of time to work the bugs out of their speeches; they've been saying the same damned things, more or less, for 30 years. But I'd choose a George W. Bush pronouncement over an exquisitely polished reactionary-liberal utterance any day. I'm proud of the president's speech and what it says about him, about Progressive Conservatism, and about America.


Thought for The Week


". . . there are two races of men in this world, but only these two-- the "race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people."

--Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.

Saturday Morning Musings


Good Weekend Reads from Blogs You Need to Discover

Wagonboy imagines what a John Kerry inaugural speech would have been like. I wish I had thought of that! On the other hand, it's not a very appealing thought. But I'm glad someone brought it up.

Cheat Seeking Missiles has some interesting information and thoughts about UC-Berkeley Professor George Lakhoff. In a bit of unintentional self-parody, Lakhoff is trying to convince the Democrats that all they need to do is polish up their manner of spinning the issues. The good professor might as well be a character in a Peter Sellers movie spoofing academics who love moral relativism:

"[Conservatives] have a huge, very good operation, and they understand their own moral system, " says Lakoff.

Hey, you have your moral system, we have ours. Maybe everyone has his or her own. It's all about how you package it, you know?

Cheat Seeking got a plug from Hugh Hewitt on Hugh's show this week, and on Hugh's blog today. Hugh, I just want to say I saw him first!

Turning to a completely different topic, Off the Top has some thoughts about service that will now be in the Sunday lesson I am teaching to the young men in my church youth group tomorrow.

Mudville Gazette, as Hugh notes, is a place we all have to visit daily between now and the Iraqi elections on January 30. This prolific and articulate blogger is serving in Iraq and offers information you will never see in the Old News Media. If you read nothing else today, read this transcript of Peter Jennings' coverage of the Bush inaugural. To me, the extent to which those people do not "get it" is fascinating.

From another Mudville post:

Bloody days are in store. These elections will be like nothing before witnessed. In most areas of the country all will be well, but elsewhere a shredded remnant of the anti-Iraqi forces will make their presence known. Their efforts are nearly impotent; on a recent day five separate car bomb attacks failed to reach their intended targets. Yet even as their failures mount, even as their ranks are diminished and their slaughterhouses are shut down they know one thing that brings them a glimmer of hope: their allies in the world media will not let them down. Whether to simply sell papers, lure advertisers, or to support a cause they firmly believe in, many in the media are the insurgent’s final hope.

Lines are drawn. On one side, the people of Iraq, the majority of Americans, the freedom loving people of the world. On another are those who would behead them all in the street. A more well-defined definition of good vs evil has not been seen in modern times. The final days approach.

The second plane opens its cargo ramp. The forklifts roll. Elsewhere a convoy exits a gate, moves to a highway, drivers and gunners scanning ahead, left right...

Elsewhere another driver waits, his vehicle sitting low on its axels, 500 pounds of explosives weighing it down...
It's compelling reading. Watch that space!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Inauguration Roundup


Scott Ott at Scrappleface departs from his usual gentle satire to post a "Cliff Notes" version of President Bush's inaugural address "so that every average public school graduate, journalist, and pundit can understand what the president means." An excerpt:
"We want freedom everywhere, not because we're crazy dreamers, but because governments held accountable to their people don't launch wars against each other. In the good old days, we could sit back and watch as tyrants tortured the helpless and fortified their arsenals. A rifle in the Middle East, or Asia, was no threat to our shores. Today, a man carrying a briefcase could wipe out millions of Americans in a single afternoon. We can't eliminate the sinful urges of crazed men, but we can help oppressed people to dump their dictators. Kill the snake by cutting off its head."
Read the whole thing here. You'll be glad you did.

Peggy Noonan did not think much of the speech. I think she is right in charging that some of it was either over the top or very close to it. Peggy says Bush's thoughts are "marked by deep moral seriousness and no moral modesty. "

"Moral modesty." What an interesting choice of words. I fear she may have a point there. Even so, although that worries me a little, I can live with it. Inaugural speeches are supposed to be lofty.

Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today responds to Peggy:

. . . those who fault Bush for an excess of idealism, or an insufficiency of realism, are not grappling with the conceptual breakthrough of his speech, which is to declare the idealism-realism dichotomy a false choice. A key passage:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

The lesson Bush drew from Sept. 11 is that "realism" is unrealistic--that the "stability" that results from an accommodation with tyranny is illusory. To Bush, there is no fundamental conflict between American ideals and American interests; by promoting the former, we secure the latter. Maybe he'll turn out to be wrong, but for now the burden ought to be on those who, in the wake of Sept. 11, hold to a pre-9/11 view of what is "realistic."

Noonan is right that "ending tyranny in the world" is a fantastically ambitious aspiration, one that isn't going to be realized anytime soon. But Bush didn't promise to do it in the next four years or even in our lifetimes. He said it was "the ultimate goal" and "the concentrated work of generations."

Stones Cry Out collects some fine commentary and divergent points of view.

Fred Barnes has an excellent short summary of the speech's high points and significance.

Hugh Hewitt's roundup is pretty good, too (he includes a link to, and commentary on, the Fred Barnes piece).

Power Line, unsurprisingly, has good links to strong, unique thinking that you won't find anywhere else. How do those guys find time to practice law?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inauguration Day

Still traveling, but thinking of today's historic significance. As President Bush is about to give another inaugural address, my thoughts are drawn to Lincoln's Second Inaugural, the greatest presidential address of any kind, at any time.

Lincoln was a concise speaker. (Remember the Gettysburg Address?) Here is the Second Inaugural, given in only four paragraphs:


AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 1

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. 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."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Four weeks later, the Civil War was over and Lincoln was dead. But the speech lives on.

At a time when our country seems more divided than we wish it were, these words from Lincoln's First Inaugural-- his closing paragraph-- also come to mind:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
We may not fairly expect GWB to make such utterances today, but what the president says today will have lasting impact. No matter who is elected, Inauguration Day is a celebration of America.

God Bless the United States of America!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It's Inauguration Week . . .

and I'm traveling, so today's brief post is this link to PoliPundit, where everyone can get a political "fix" as President Bush prepares to begin his second term. I must admit, I like the sound of those words.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Pretty Big Thoughts for A Supposedly Dumb Guy


In this Washington Times piece, Tod Lindberg begins by quoting President Bush:

"I understand there are many who say 'Bush is wrong.' I assume I'm right. It's exciting to be part of stimulating a debate of such significance. It really is the philosophical argument of the age."
Lindberg comments:

I don't know which is the more remarkable: An American president who thinks in terms of "the philosophical argument of the age." Or that, well, yes, Mr. Bush is right, the question of the spread of democracy really is the philosophical argument of the age.
Not much posting today-- I have two days of traveling ahead. But read Lindberg's piece and, as you contemplate GWB's second inaugural address this Thursday, listen for the President's comments about democracy. We're watching history unfold. Borrowing from Shakespeare's Henry V:

He that outlives this day and comes safe home
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is named . . . .
We're alive and taking part in such a day.

Monday, January 17, 2005

What I Missed Last Weekend (Including Another Great Blog)

I was busy Saturday and Sunday with my son's birthday party and related preparations-- including baking the cake myself. (Yes, I'm proud of it. It was a "Deeply Chocolate Almond Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting." Someday I'll post the diet-busting recipe here.)

So let me take care of three things I could not get to over the weekend:

1. I wish I had posted something about the L.A. Times story on Condoleeza Rice's "divisive" tenure as Stanford's provost, which the Times writers saw as a portent of similar problems at the State Department.

2. I wanted to say something about the Times' story on Rathergate, which is written pretty much as an epilogue to the whole sordid matter.

3. I had planned to mention Cheat Seeking Missiles, another fine Southern California-based blog.

All is well, however. Had I done no. 3 I could have taken care of 1 and 2, because Laer, who runs Cheat Seeking Missiles, handles both topics very well. Read his take on Condi Rice here and his analysis of the Times/Rathergate story here. I've added him to the blogroll.

Just one additional comment on the Times' Rathergate story. As Cheat Seeking notes, the story dismissed the question of bias on a single paragraph:

Republican partisans viewed such statements as evidence of political bias. They joined some independent analysts in faulting the review panel for not concluding whether liberal political sentiments tainted CBS' story. But a review of months of provocative internal CBS e-mails uncovered no messages that attacked Bush directly.
Let's see: If there is not a message attacking Bush directly, there is no bias? The term non sequitur comes to mind. Well, why should we be surprised? The "60 Minutes II" crew found what it wanted to find in the Burkett memos. It appears that here, the Times writers failed to find what they did not want to find in the CBS story. Clearly irony did not take the weekend off!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Thought for The Week


"Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared."

--Eddie Rickenbacker

Hugh Hewitt's Book "Blog" and Bill O'Reilly

This may be old news to many, but here's a transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview on Bill O'Reilly's show. O'Reilly's questions reflect a fairly limited understanding of blogging, but Hugh did a nice job of redirecting him to the right subject matter anyway.

Hat tip: Johnny Dollar's Place.

An Unexpected Pleasure of Blogging: When Great Blogs Visit


I enrolled in a service that enables me to visit other blogs that visit this blog. When I do so, I am always fascinated to learn that people from such places as Singapore, Malaysia, and Iraq maintain blogs and actually visit mine. What is really staggering, however, is how much quality thinking is going on out there by other good, smart people who put a little effort into blogging. Here are two examples from today's visits, both of which I have already added to my blogroll.

Off the Top is by a self-described SAHM (stay-at-home mom) and home schooler. Based on the quality of her thinking I'd say her kids are lucky to have such a teacher. Sample: This post about C.S. Lewis and the Tao. Red state-minded folks are not supposed to be that sohisticated, are they?

Common Sense Runs Wild is a thoughtful site run by a blogger who takes the time to make the blog look good and read well. Example: A post about Charles Graner, just convicted in the Abu Ghraib matter. No conservative excuses there!

Visit these blogs!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Hedgehog Speaks (in Public!)


I am deeply flattered to have been invited to speak to the next meeting of the La Cañada Flintridge Republican Committee. I'll be presenting at the Committee’s January gathering . My topic: "Blogging the 2004 Election: Why Electoral Politics Will Never Be the Same.”

If you live nearby and are inclined to listen to me ramble on, the related press release tells you how:

The meeting will take place at DISH Restaurant, located at 734 Foothill Boulevard in La Cañada Flintridge, on Monday, January 24, at 6:30 p.m. Potential members and member guests are cordially invited to attend. Please RSVP to Sandra Richardson, at (818) 790-1326, before noon on Monday, January 24.

This is going to be one heck of a lot of fun.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Stones Cry Out Seeks Your Help


Stones Cry Out, of which I am a huge fan and unabashed admirer, is running a contest. The blogger, Rick Brady, is looking for ideas for a header for his more high-powered new site. (Wow. And I'm still trying to figure out how to use Blogger.) Rick's current front-runner is above.

Once again, Stones Cry Out leads the way. When my blog grows up I want it to be like Rick's.) Go here with your ideas.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

A Mainstream News Media Tradition: Adding "Perspective" to The News


A reader who listens regularly and carefully to network radio news submitted the following. He consented to my request to post it here.

Yesterday, CBS Radio News reported that Pres. Bush donated $10,000 personally to the relief of the Tsunami survivors. Reuters and CNN also carried the story, adding that Pres. Bush's personal wealth was $13 million. No source offered. We'll have to take their word for it. Another story mentioned $17 million.

Would CBS, Reuters or CNN mention Sen. Kerry's total worth or former Pres. Clinton's personal wealth if they were the ones donating?

What the news media often do is "throw a negative" on a story like this one to minimize and find fault with President Bush. The CBS story went on to say that $10,000 was only 2.5% of Pres. Bush's annual income. My calculations using CBS's information show that Pres. Bush gets $400,000 per annum. That figure may or may not be accurate, but using CBS's figure Pres. Bush gets $33,333 per month. His or their (Laura and Geo.) $10,000 donation would be nearly one-third of GWB's monthly income BEFORE taxes. That sounds a lot better than 2.5% of his annual income.

Would CBS refer us to the percentage of Kerry's or Clinton's annual income in a similar story?

Other stories about Pres. Bush's $10,000 donation compared it with the amount (all from private donations) being spent on the President's inaugural celebrations this month.

If Kerry-Edwards had won, do you think the media would have carried stories like this?


I am pretty confident of the answers to my reader's questions. We live in an interesting time, when assumptions about information sources that have been largely unchallenged in my lifetime (I was born in 1954) are now fading quickly. Peggy Noonan comments on that transformation here, in one of the more balanced and thoughtful analyses on that subject I've seen yet.

UPDATE: Here, Hugh Hewitt persuasively analyzes both Howard Fineman's piece (referred to below) and a response by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post.

What a great time to be following American history. What an exciting opportunity: To be able, with the click of a few buttons, to dive into and swim in the blogosphere's ocean of information.

Start your own blog today. And while you're at it buy Hugh Hewitt's new book, Blog, here.

About That Elephant in The Room . . .

Thanks to Power Line, we have the following Cox and Forkum offering:

New Feature: Great Blogs You May Not Have Seen Yet

You'll see down on the left -hand side that I have re-categorized my blogroll and added a section entitled:
I'll be on the lookout for such gems and hope you'll let me know when you see them. The current list includes Stones Cry Out, which is so well-established that is almost does not belong on the list, but I am a huge fan and doubt many readers here have visited the site yet; Lone Tree on The Prairie, a whimsical delight; Wagonboy's Garage, by a frequent Hugh Hewitt caller; and The Mangled Cat, run by a recent Denver transplant to my home state of Utah. Enjoy them all!

Thought for The Week


Truth often suffers more from the heat of its defenders than from the arguments of its opposers.

-- William Penn

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A New Standard in Foreign Policy Blogging

Diplomad is a great site. Remember, these are State Department foreign service officers posted abroad who are also very intelligent, articulate, and perceptive conservatives. Read here about "good guys" in tsunami relief. Heck, look at the entire blog. Bookmark it and check it frequently. It'll make you smarter.

Prepare To Be Surprised


Howard Fineman

I think Howard Fineman has been one of the more admirable members of the mainstream media. It does seem to me that he tries hard to get stories right and to be fair-- and that's saying a lot these days. Fineman's MSNBC piece today covers an amazingly wide range of subjects, including the impact of bloggers, bias and the reasons for it, Vietnam, Watergate, and so forth-- all in two pages.

Here's a killer quote:

In this situation, the last thing the AMMP needed was to aim wildly at the president—and not only miss, but be seen as having a political motivation in attacking in the first place. Were Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after the truth or victory when they broadcast their egregiously sloppy story about Bush's National Guard Service? The moment it made air it began to fall apart, and eventually was shredded by factions within the AMMP itself, conservative national outlets and by the new opposition party that is emerging: The Blogger Nation. It's hard to know now who, if anyone, in the "media" has any credibility.
It is a must-read.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

One Annotated Version of Dan Rather's Memo to CBS Colleagues


The Anchoress shares with us Dan's Rather's memo to his CBS colleagues. Our comments are in bold:

January 11, 2005

TO : All CBS News Colleagues

The panel report is part of a process – a necessary process to deal with a difficult issue – at the end of which four good people have lost their jobs. [A difficult issue? Excuse me?]
My strongest reaction is one of sadness and concern for those individuals whom I know and with whom I have worked. [Your strongest reaction? Really? How disappointing but unsurprising.] It would be a shame if we let this matter, troubling as it is, obscure their dedication and good work over the years. [After all, what's really important, the inexcusable and outrageously fraudulent hit piece on Bush, or that those responsible-- well, most of them-- lost their jobs? Is this about them as individuals or about CBS's tattered credibility?]

Yet good can come from this process if CBS News, and the hundreds of able professionals who labor every day to fill an essential public service in an open society, emerge with a renewed dedication to journalism of the highest quality. [The word "bloviate" comes to mind for some reason.] We should take seriously the admonition of the report’s authors to do our job well and carefully, but also their parallel admonition not to be afraid to cover important and controversial issues. [Ah, yes, Dan Rather, bloodied but onbowed. As always. Um, do you think you might have the message of the report just a little out of proportion there? Was the authors' "parallel admonition" really such a dominant feature of the report? I thought the report was about the multiple failures of CBS News to behave like a responsible news organization, not your obligation to cover important and controversial issues.]

CBS News is a great institution with a distinct and precious legacy. [Somewhere, Hugh Hewitt is grinning. He calls what you do "legacy journalism." It's not a flattering term. And make no mistake, somewhere Ed Murrow is lamenting what you have done with that legacy.] I have been here through good times, and not so good times. I have seen us overcome adversity before. [Ah, Dan the Hero. It's all about overcoming adversity. Even if the adversity is of your own making. Oh, please!] I am convinced we can do so again. That must be our focus and priority. And we can fulfill that objective by getting back to business and doing our jobs better than ever. [Yes, let's "get back to business." Put all this unpleasantness behind us. Quickly! But . . . I thought fairness and accuracy were your business. Isn't that what the report is all about?]

Lest anyone have any doubt, I have read the report, I take it seriously, and I shall keep its lessons well in mind. [What! Doubt you? Why would we ever . . . ?]

Dan Rather


Excuse me, but I have the distinct impression that Rather either does not "get it" or does not want to admit he got it. My personal opinion? He doesn't get it, and never will.

The Telling Questions about Rathergate


I will be blogging more later (duty calls for now), but want to pose a couple of questions first thing on the morning after the Thornberg report. Referring to the "60 Minutes II" story on President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard, Bernie Goldberg asked questions something like these last night on Hannity & Colmes:

Can you imagine CBS coming out with a story like that, moving so quickly and cutting so many corners, if the story had been about John Kerry? Do you think Mary Mapes would have contacted the Bush campaign to assist a source who was admittedly trying to derail the Kerry campaign?

We all know the answers to those questions, and I think those answers tell us just about everything we need to know about why the blogosphere is such a blessing to fair and open political discourse in this country.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Armstrong Williams Follow-Up

I admitted below that I had not followed the Armstrong Williams situation closely, not being a big fan of his. Glenn Reynolds has prepared a highly substantive analysis (law professors are prone to do that) here. It will probably tell you a lot about "government distribution of prepared news segments without on-air disclosures of their origin," described as "a bipartisan practice that predated the Bush administration." I personally had no idea such things went on, so color me naive.

Meanwhile, Williams' printed apology appeared today on As a non-Williams fan I found it persuasive. I still won't listen to him, but I didn't listen to him before either.

The Rathergate Report is Out


Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Stones Cry Out, I see that the report on Rathergate and the forged "60 Minutes" memos is out. Read it here.

Warning: It's 224 pages long!

Good news: The "Executive Summary" is on page 4 and will give you the report's basic conclusions.

Unsurprising, but gratifying news: At first glance, the report seems to be devastating. A very brief excerpt:

The stated goal of CBS News is to have a reputation for journalism of the highest quality and unimpeachable integrity. To meet this objective, CBS News expects its personnel to adhere to published internal standards based on two core principles: accuracy and fairness. The Panel finds that both the September 8 segment itself and news reports by CBS News that followed the Segment failed to meet either of these core principles.

It gets better:

These problems were caused primarily by a myopic zeal to be the first news organization to broadcast what was believed to be a news story about President Bush's [Texas Air National Guard] service, and the rigid and blind defense of the Segment after it aired despite numerous indications of its shortcomings.

A little realism: I actually have to go to work. More on this later. I have a hunch that blogs like Power Line and Hugh Hewitt will be all over this today. Visit their sites. Rick Brady's brief analysis in Stones Cry Out is worth reading (everything on that blog is worth reading) and will give you a taste of comments to come.

UPDATE, 2:00 p.m. Pacific: John Hinderaker of Power Line has now read the entire CBS report. (I've been checking his blog all day.) Find his summary of what the reports says and does not say here.

UPDATE: Hugh thinks the report is a whitewash. I tend to disagree, but I haen't read much of the report yet. What Hugh wants is a finding that there was a political motivation. I do not know how such a finding could be made by a review body like the one in place here. The findings that they did make seem devastating enough. Let's not lose credibility on the right by demanding a pound of flesh.

UPDATE 2: CBS itself reports that "Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service." The four are a senior vice president of CBS News, the Executive Producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday" and his deputy, and Mary Mapes, the producer of the Bush National Guard segment. Dan Rather stepped down as anchor of the CBS Evening News, a decision that he wants everyone to believe was unrelated to the scandal. “We deeply regret the disservice this flawed 60 Minutes Wednesday report did to the American public, which has a right to count on CBS News for fairness and accuracy,” said CBS President Leslie Moonves.

The CBS report seems to explain why the "buck" stopped at the senior vice president level and did not extend to the President of CBS News, Andrew Heyward:

The panel believes a turning point came on Sept. 10, when CBS News President Andrew Heyward ordered Betsy West to review the opinions of document examiners who had seen the disputed documents and the confidential sources supporting the story.

But no such investigation was undertaken.

"Had this directive been followed promptly, the panel does not believe that 60 Minutes Wednesday would have publicly defended the segment for another 10 days," the report said.

I am wondering why Heyward did not follow up and make sure West did the review immediately, especially on a matter that was as intensely controversial as this one, in the final weeks of a presidential election campaign. Otherwise, I am not seeing much whitewash here. Sorry, Hugh!

Roger Simon may agree with me. We'll see how this all plays out as the blogosphere and the punditrocracy dissect the report.

UPDATE: Roger Simon does not agree with me. Look here. I am beginning to wonder if I still agree with myself.

The Instapundit has some good links. He agrees with Hugh that it's obvious that there was a political motivation and that the report "pulled some punches" in that regard. I'm open-minded. Again, we'll see.

Elections and Freedom


Aghanis voting for the first time in history

This article in today's Wall Street Journal highlights a fascinating political phenomenon: The demonstrated willingness of humanity to participate in elections even when doing so endangers their lives. The article begins on this hopeful note:

What can the U.S. and Iraq learn from El Salvador?

Senior U.S. officials point to the small Central American nation's 1982 election, in which voters had to take cover from gunfire as they waited in line to cast their ballots, as a reason to believe even imperfect elections can help propel a war-torn nation toward democracy. In El Salvador, the vote helped reduce support for an insurgency and, they argue, the election slated for Jan. 30 in Iraq can do the same there.

Unfortunately the rest of the piece seems devoted to listing the differences between Iraq and El Salvador, quoting "experts" on why the Salvadoran experience is not likely to be duplicated in Iraq. Eleven of 15 substantive paragraphs are devoted to that point. The concluding, somewhat nervous final paragraph:

"In El Salvador you had the image of old farmers lined up to vote, crouching to get out of the line of fire, and then getting back into line. It was about as graphic a demonstration of the desire for democracy as you can have," says Mr. Aronson, who recently served as an election observer in Afghanistan. "Hopefully, the same thing will happen in Iraq. But if the process turns into a debacle, it might send the opposite message: that things are out of control."
The mainstream news media does love that idea of things being out of control in Iraq.

This is a subject of interest to me because I lived in El Salvador in 1975, doing missionary work for my church. I spent almost all my time with middle and lower-class strivers in that wonderful little country. What struck me most, even then as a callow 20 year-old, was that the people "got it." They knew who was their friend and who was not.

This emerged in many conversations, at mealtimes, in meetings, just about any time the subject came up: The elite families that ran the country were not their friends; the common folk knew that, but they somewhat resentfully tolerated the elites anyway. They knew the various Cuban "schoolteachers," leftists visiting El Salvador from other countries, and Che Guevara groupies were not their friends either. They either laughed at them or oozed distrust and resentment toward them. They were also deeply suspicious of the Salvadoran military, which was allied with the ruling elites and really seemed to have far too much power. If you were Salvadoran man of military age, you had to be on your guard about "conscription squads" that routinely kidnapped young men and impressed them into the army. (I actually witnessed one such conscription personally, in the middle of a suburban street in broad daylight.)

From among all that tyranny and injustice, it was always my strong impression that what the overwhelming majority of Salvadoran people wanted was freedom and democracy. Seven years later, they got it, in a national election with a massive voter turnout (90%, I believe) even while the leftist rebels, who wanted to shoot their way into power, were threatening to kill anyone who voted.

Call me a hopeless romantic idealist, but I do not think it was Western culture alone that brought the Salvadorans to do that. Nor do I think it was Afghan culture that caused the Afghans to vote in massive numbers despite Taliban threats to kill voters. Remember the stories about the Afghan women who performed Muslim funeral rituals before voting, so that they would be prepared for death if they were killed in the act?

Time will tell whether people who agree with me are right. The Iraqi elections are only days away. Let us hope that the human desire for freedom carries the day.

UPDATE: The Belmont Club has an excellent roundup of news on the elections and the islamofascists' efforts to disrupt them.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Armstrong Williams


Hat tip to LaShawn Barber

If you're interested in the Armstrong Williams debacle, LaShawn Barber has pretty much given you us all the definitive post. I have never been a big Williams fan (I cannot listen to him on the radio), but I must say he he really blew it this time.

A Story from Iraq


I received this story, attributed to a Marine gunnery sergeant now in Iraq, from a trusted source. It took me only a few minutes to verify it, thanks to Google. The story originally appeared as a letter to the editor in The Milpitas Post, a California newspaper, on or about December 30, 2004.

Letter from Iraq

Editor's note: The following letter was sent by a Marine in Iraq, Gunnery Sgt. Mark J. Francis, to his wife, Colleen Francis. It was reprinted at the request of Milpitan Ben Ford, a retired military man.

Dear Beautiful,

Just wanted to write to you and tell you another story about an experience we had over here.

As you know, I asked for toys for the Iraqi children over here and several people (Americans that support us) sent them over by the box. On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can. The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see, but especially so with the kids. Most of them don't have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this.

On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.

As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy stopped and I got out to make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.

Immediately, a cordon was set as the Marine convoy assumed a defensive posture around the site. The mine was destroyed in place.

It was the heart of an American that sent that toy. It was the heart of an American that gave that toy to that little girl. It was the heart of an American that protected that convoy from that mine. Sure, she was a little Iraqi girl and she had no knowledge of purple mountain's majesty or fruited plains. It was a heart of acceptance, of tolerance, of peace and grace, even through the inconveniences of conflict that saved that convoy from hitting that mine. Those attributes are what keep Americans' hearts beating. She may have no affiliation at all with the United States, but she knows what it is to be brave and if we can continue to support her and her new government, she will know what it is to be free. Isn't that what Americans are, the free and the brave?

If you sent over a toy or a Marine (U.S. service member) you took part in this. You are a reason that Iraq has to believe in a better future. Thank you so much for supporting us and for supporting our cause over here. Semper Fi.

Mark J. Francis

Gunnery sergeant, USMC