Monday, February 28, 2005

Joe Wilson Comes Home To Roost


Joe Wilson back in happier times,
when the old media loved him and
no one had yet examined his story

It now appears that two reporters, one for Time and the other for the New York Times, may go to jail for protecting sources in a criminal investigation of a matter that almost certainly involved no crime. You may want to re-read that last sentence.

Oddly enough, the Times has suddenly decided that maybe identifying Ms. Plame as a CIA agent was not not a crime at all. This is not exactly a new insight.

You may recall that Ms. Plame is the wife of Joe Wilson, the Democrat partisan who cooked up the Niger-yellowcake-WMD story. This blog has had a lot to say about Mr. Wilson. For those posts, go here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

For the best summary I've seen of the entire "kerfluffle," go to The Best of The Web Today. You'll find as much there as you want to know about the whole ridiculous affair and the way the old media's views on the matter have, well, evolved.

The Illegal Immigration Debate Continues


President George W. Bush addresses the press about immigration policy (White House photo.)

It seems my post below on immigration and national security has ignited a pretty good debate in the blogosphere. An excellent blog, Polipundit, has weighed in. In essence, Polipundit's plan is to make it difficult, if not imposible, to have a fake Social Security number (SSN) and then require anyone who gets a job to have a valid SSN. Michelle Malkin calls Polipundit's approach "humane."

Well, if Polipundit's approach is humane, I'd hate to see what is considered inhumane. Here's Polipundit's reponse to my question, Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?

Absolutely! Polls usually show 70 pecent or more Americans want all illegal immigrants deported. Among conservatives, the numbers are even higher.

Besides, the key advantage of my plan is that there won’t need to be trainloads of immigrants being carted across the border by government guards. They will “deport” themselves because they will be unable to find work.

Polipundit cites polls at 70%, and I am deeply skeptical. Better come up with a link to some sources on that one, Polipundit! I also wonder whether people would simply fade back across the border once they are unable to find a job. Indeed, I wonder about a lot of aspects of Polipundit's very simple plan.

My view on this is that of a 25-year Los Angeles resident who also spent several years of my young adulthood living in Central America. I speak Spanish and now work regularly in volunteer and professional affairs with the Hispanic community. I'm pretty comfortable with that community and its culture. I'm also a solid Republican conservative.

The Bush plan requires those who are here already to earn their way to legal status and someday to citizenship. It is not amnesty, nor is it heavy-handed. It requires people to get serious about becoming Americans if they want to stay here and enjoy the benefits of living in the USA. That plan will sell. If the Republican party were to be seen as pushing a plan to kicking real people out of the country, separating children from families, and so forth, we will see a public relations nightmare of epic proportions. In a comment below, my fellow conservative Republican Angeleno Wagonboy speculates, with heavy irony, on what it would be like:

There won't be a single court order from any circuit court ordering a halt to such an operation. As well, the general public will be universally in favor of spending tens of billions of dollars on such a practical exercise. All should go rather swimmingly! Why hasn't any sober person thought of this before?

First, we'll need to double the number of lawyers in this country. That should take a minimum of 5 years so we better get started. There's going to be much for them to do.

We'll have to implement internment camps with tents and barbed wire to process and clarify the illegals from the legals before shipping/busing/marching them back where they came from. This could take months so don't forget to earmark a ton of cash to compensate for lost wages and collateral expenses those legally here who couldn't immediately prove their citizenship to the nice men who dragged them to the internment camp. Food, sanitation and medical services will also be provided of course.

Once processed and fingered as an illegal we'll just send them back to Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, and, don't forget the southeast Asian illegals. It shouldn't be too hard logistically or diplomatically. By the way, do we send newly arrived illegals without their children born on U.S. soil or with their children born on U.S. soil?

We'll have to process and redistribute much of their property, too. Things they can't carry on the long journey home. Houses, furniture, cars, tools, machinery, etc. These huge auction wherehouses could possibly fund a small fraction of a small percentage of the whole operation.

The world community won't be bothered by this operation, either. They'll gladly go along and won't take any punitive measures against us in the arenas of trade, finance, law, intelligence or hosting our military and defense bases and structures around the globe. They'll all understand and look the other way. And don't forget the cancer of socialism and communism creeping it's way into the governments of South America... sending all these illegals back to their home countries with a good working knowledge and foundation of our democratic principles should turn that commie tide right around.

We need a name for this operation. How about Operation Feverish Lunacy?
Wagonboy continues the debate on his blog.

Are we over-stating the political problems here?
Just ask Pete Wilson, who got re-elected Governor of California by supporting Proposition 187 , an anti-immigrant measure. Since then California Republicans have found themselves wishing they had taken a different tack. Our state is going to be majority Hispanic before too long, and if we are going to be a viable party we need Hispanics with us.

Full disclosure: I voted for Prop 187. I was enraged by photos from anti-187 rallies showing hundreds of Mexican flags flying. Those photos alone ensured the passage of the ballot measure.

In hindsight, I now believe 187 was a mistake. I understand why it passed, but we have to learn from the experience. We need to make Hispanics into Republicans. They won't come our way if we are seen as anti-immigrant. Hispanics naturally tend to be inclined our way-- their culture is that of a hard working, opportunity-seeking people.

Here's a link to what President Bush said when he first introduced his plan. It amazes me that so many conservatives immediately came unhinged. As the former governor of a border state, Bush gets this. We all should get it too!

Sunday, February 27, 2005

European-U.S. Relations After The Bush Visit: What's New? Not Much!

Most thoughtful observers recognize that (contrary to the worldview of Jacques Chirac, Wolfgang Schroeder, and John Forbes Kerry) "Europe" means more than merely France and Germany. Poland is Europe; so are the Czech Republic and Slovakia, all of which Donald Rumsfeld famously called New Europe. Keeping that in mind, I like the questions that the always-quotable Mark Steyn asks about the real significance of the recently-concluded Bush "charm offensive" in Old Europe:

And at the end what's changed?

Will the United States sign on to Kyoto?


Will the United States join the International Criminal Court?


Will the United States agree to accept whatever deal the Anglo-Franco-German negotiators cook up with Iran?


The whole piece is worth reading. Of course, what Mark Steyn piece is not?

Quote of The Day

[I]n Iraq, there is actual politics going on. The leaders of different factions are jostling. The tone of the coverage ebbs and flows as more or less secular leaders emerge and fall back, but the amazing thing is the politics itself. If we had any brains, we'd take up Reuel Marc Gerecht's suggestion and build an Iraqi C-Span so the whole Arab world could follow this process like a long political soap opera.
--David Brooks, The New York Times

Sunday Morning Musings


I have a few church commitments today so posting will be light. Quick thoughts:

I enjoy Thomas Friedman and actually agree with him 50% of the time. I believe his column today is a must-read.

Continuing our Latin American theme of a few days back, Rep. Jeff Flake has a piece in today's Arizona Republic addressing the pending trade deal.

More later, perhaps.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Thanks, Hugh

I thanked Hugh Hewitt below and wanted to do it again. He linked to my post on immigration on his blog, and there's been, um, an uptick in hits on this here l'il ol' Hedgehog Blog.

I've listened to Hugh ever since he came on the air in 2000 (I think that makes me a Charter Dimaggiati) and so it's an absolute kick to see my blog linked on his. What can I say? I'm a fan.

Friday, February 25, 2005

About The Economy, Stupid . . .


Could it be that we are about to have a "Bush Boom?" GWB inherited a recession and then Sept. 11 made matters worse. But we also got the Bush tax cuts in that first term. Now all the job losses of the recession have been restored and unemployment is way down. According to today's report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product grew at 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2004. That's a revision-- up from the 3.1% estimated last month. So GDP growth is at 4.4% for the year. That's the highest in five years. We haven't seen rates like this since the Reagan boom in the 1980s.

When do you think the old news media will pick up on this story?

Let us not hold our breath . . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Quotes of the Day: The Lawrence Summers Controversy

From Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Summers' third mistake was that he did not treat women badly. Take Summers' old boss, Bill Clinton, who was able to date while married, as his top female staffers (who considered themselves feminists) strove to protect him from nubile workers. In this politically correct era, words speak louder than actions: You can act like a sexist cad, but you can't talk as if you think a sexist cad conceivably might have a point.
The whole piece is spot on.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan writes:

Tuesday he faced an angry faculty gathering where "his ears were pinned back," as one reporter said. Summers now seems to be saying he made a mistake in airing the idea of gender-related differences in the interests and aptitudes of scholars. But here is what he may be forgetting, for people under pressure often lose track of their lack of culpability: Summers did nothing wrong. He thought aloud about an interesting question in a colorful and un-defended way. That's what universities are for.
Well, yes.

Ms. Noonan also writes:

But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers.
Don't you wish you had written that?

Immigration And The National Interest: Where Should Conservatives Stand?


Very soon the Republican Party and the nation as a whole will be debating exactly what to do about illegal immigration. Among others, the principles at stake will be the following:

  • The rule of law
  • National security
  • National cohesion
  • Preservation of traditional values
Every one of these principles is essential. If nothing else represents the American Way, the rule of law does; and national security is a survival issue after 9-11. As for national cohesion and traditional values, we all worry about the country's ability to assimilate so many immigrants, who are mostly from Spanish-speaking countries and have high birth rates; to say nothing of the burden on social services (hospital emergency rooms, for example) created by a largely poor immigrant population.

But what to do? How to apply these time-tested principles? Conservatives seem to be split. An apparent majority on the right want to get serious about existing immigration laws by effectively sealing the borders and sending illegals home. Others question whether such an approach is realistic, and whether it truly adheres to the four principles listed above.

I'm one of the questioners. I know that by taking my position I risk being lumped with GOP "prags" who value realism above all else, but sometimes we just have to ask ourselves: What will work? Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest hard-headed conservatives who ever lived; so was Abraham Lincoln. By insisting on basic principles and applying them in a relentlessly realistic way, both Lincoln and Reagan became great presidents.

In her Weekly Standard piece, "Law and Borders," Tamar Jacoby makes the best case I have seen for the Bush immigration plan. As Jacoby details, Bush's plan is true to every single principle listed above, and it is realistic. The plan would restore the rule of law, would enable us to concentrate resources on keeping terrorists out of the country, would require immigrants to commit to becoming assimilated Americans, and would rationalize the way we provide services to immigrants. It would remove us forever from the current situation in which everyone knows what is going on but allows it to continue with only winks and nods in place of a real policy.

Read the Jacoby piece, then consider my questions for those who, like one of my favorite radio talk show hosts, Laura Ingraham, zealously attack the Bush plan:

  • What is your plan, and how will you get it enacted?

  • Do you really think the American public has the stomach to see 10 million people deported, many of whom have been here all their lives?

  • If the public is not ready to do that, are you prepared to see the Republican Party spend the political capital necessary to convince them?

  • What if we fail to convince them? Where will the party be then?

It's one thing to bemoan the status quo the way the Tom Tancredos of the world do; it's another thing to have a workable plan that adheres to correct principles.

Bring on the Bush plan. Let's have a debate.

UPDATE: Thanks to Hugh Hewitt, my "blogfather," for the link to this post. I'm honored as all get-out. I have have never had 11 comments on a single post before. This is fun!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Hollywood Conservative Forum

With great enthusiasm The Hedgehog Blog endorses the following initiative, which comes to us directly from Steve Finefrock, the initiative's author and prime mover. It's my understanding that Steve was inspired years ago by this statement from former Education Secretary and Drug Control Czar William Bennett:

I would give the people with whom I disagree the government, if I could give the culture to the people with whom I agree. I think it's probably in the long run much more important what happens on television and happens on the radio and what happens in the movies than what happens in the halls of Congress. The kind of country we have now and the kind of culture we have now owes a lot more, for good or ill, to the creative people in New York and Los Angeles than it does to the bureaucrats in Washington.
Here's Steve's announcement:

Push The Envelope, Please
Steve Finefrock
Founder, Hollywood Conservative Forum
aspiring movie tsar

This is a special PhoneBooth, for the once-true joke, that there are so few conservatives in Hollywood that they meet in a phonebooth, is no longer true. The conservative PhoneBooth is getting bigger. The list of serious conservative cinemaniacs in this town grows every week. Supporters of this concept have been gathering in my files for seven years -- very slowly at first, but now a "tipping point" is approaching. So it's time to push the envelope and grow this movement, soon. Very soon. With your help to a fellow conservative group right in Hollywood itself.

Four reliable conservatives have already suggested that the Next Step be taken:


And so we shall. And so shall you, as a six-month subscriber to the Conservative Cause in Hollywood. You are receiving this appeal thru a referral -- all those who've supported this effort over the past few years are passing along this special-issue of my periodic PhoneBooth column, to request a commitment for the next six months, on a monthly basis, to support HCF's kick-start.

Mission Statement of HCF

Simply put, Hollywood Conservative Forum seeks to be remembered for achieving in Hollywood's hostile world what Wm. F. Buckley did for conservative thought in Washington. D.C. And what Heritage Foundation did for conservative think-tank policy influence. And Newt's GOPAC did to conquer Congress. As talk-radio did to badger the news media into a bit less bias. And of course, what Fox News has done to correct some part of news bias. We want to be one step behind the newest factor in our favor, the blogosphere. Making us the Seventh Wonder of conservatism's resurgence in American politics.

HCF will find and recruit even more conservatives, and develop the mechanism to bring them together to MAKE CONSERVATIVE TV programs and MOVIES on the big-screen, which advance our values, and irritate the liberals' agenda.

Six Months: Be Present at the Creation

HCF is acquiring a website domain, with an experienced website designer and media mastermind, plus institutional support from groups who are awaiting this Tipping Point moment. In the past year we've seen the first-ever effort on our behalf, with three documentary films which counteracted Michael Moore's screed, "Fahrenheit 911" and more is being done in that vein.

This Oscar-award Sunday will see a march down Hollywood Boulevard by dedicated conservatives, to make this towne aware of red-state views, in support of four billboards in the area which reminds Hollywood that their rants actually helped Bush's re-election.
Nothing like this has ever arisen before. And a six-month commitment can fuel the fires, fire up the conservatives, and push-the-envelope in Hollywood. The tipping point is here.


For seven years, I've sought to find my own political kind -- it took a while, one here and one there for the first few years, and then more showed their true red-state colors. Once it was "safe" to speak among their own kind, conservatives began to gather. And are now speaking out. And soon, their number -- roughly a fourth [or maybe even a third!] of Hollywood's talented people -- will grow in public, and HCF will spend its time and energy and dedication to accelerate that process.


Find 'em, recruit 'em, and organize 'em into a force to make OUR KIND OF ART. And maybe make films and TV shows which will give our point of view to America, in time for the coming elections in '06 and '08.


Your contribution can be in any increment of $25 for each month of the coming six months. The "sustainer" quality is more important than the amount. To rely on support for a full six months is crucial, so there's no wild swings which make it hard to commit to projects here: showcases of scripts, venue costs for put on events, printing costs, and the rest that will need to be maintained for a solid six months to get attention of those who are awaiting our success.

Tipping Point!

It is here. If you can contribute $25 each month for six months, or $50, or $75, or [gasp!] $100, it will be used directly to support the activities to make HCF into a force that will force Hollywood to take notice. And assemble those who are inclined to help, but do not yet have a "focus" of their energy and talent. They are here! They are enough to make our kind of film and TV. And HCF will be the "Heritage Foundation" of Hollywood, the "National Review" of the leftcoast, the "GOPAC" of 90012.


Steve Finefrock managed the interagency training program for the National Response Team [NRT] for six years, preparing the nation for hazardous materials emergencies, including work with the Coast Guard, EPA, National Fire Academy and other agencies of the NRT. Preceded by six years at local emergency work for eighteen counties, he's taken that experience to Hollywood to get serious themes made by serious people. Management and leadership skills involving 'high octane' talent in the NRT will transfer to Hollywood, where the way in which we see such serious people depends on how they are portrayed on TV and in film.

His bona fides are described to you by the endorsement which accompanies this appeal.


First, if you are interested in being a participant at the creation of Hollywood Conservative Forum, reply to whoever sent this to you, and also to Steve Finefrock at -- and if you are eager to get started, after notifying me of your commitment, you can forward your support to my address:

6550 Yucca #423
Hollywood, CA 90028.

Yep, that's in Hollywood, the beast itself. You'd be surprised how many conservatives there are, but need only a nexus to organize them. You'll be making a present to the creation of something significant, and your children can know you helped kick-start this little addition to the conservative revolution in Hollywood.

I thank you for whatever you can commit to contributing, each month, for six consecutive months. You will help us push the envelope, and grow the PhoneBooth, and irritate the liberals in Hollywood like they never dreamed. Make Michael Moore Mad! Bug Barbra Streisand! Not to mention Martin Sheen, Ed Asner, Whoopi Goldberg and Janeane Garofalo.
Now, that would be my kind of entertainment!

Regards and thanks for your help,

Steve Finefrock
founder, Hollywood Conservative Forum
6550 Yucca #423
Hollywood, CA 90028

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Portland Shoe Toss

Have you heard about the Portland debate between Howard Dean and Richard Perle, during which an audience member screamed obscenities at Perle and threw a shoe at him? You can watch video of that event here, thanks to Little Green Footballs.

How Do You Feel About A Former Bush Adviser Who Secretly Taped Him?


Read this story from the Washington Post and tell me if you agree with me: I'd be just as disgusted with a person who had done this to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or John Kerry as I am with this Doug Wead character. What a rotten thing to do to a person who has placed you in a position of trust.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Lawrence Summers' Controversial Remarks At Harvard

To read what Lawrence Summers said that caused such an outcry, go here. I was impressed at how "middle of the road" his remarks are. I was even more impressed at the fury the remarks have provoked. Read here, for example. The opposing point of view is on Wizbang. (I agree with WizBang.)

It's actually a little disturbing that Summers' comments, which were couched in such academic and hypothetical terms, and which were expressly intended to provoke scholarly comment, have led to calls for the man's resignation.

Saturday Morning Musings, February 19, 2005

Spotting The Idiots

I have not paid too much attention to Ward Churchill because I find academics like him quaint and undeserving of being taken seriously. Also, my attitude toward free speech tends to be fairly libertarian: As Best of the Web reader Jay Lesseig said, "Freedom of speech makes it much easier to spot the idiots." So if someone wants to burn an American flag, he/she is identified as behaving like an idiot and that's enough for me. I don't need to see the flag burner prosecuted.

Even so, this piece in Armavirumque, the commentary blog of The New Criterion, is very much worth the read. To me, it is a reminder that the political and social agendas of most modern American universities need to be scrutinized with great skepticism. In the social sciences I daresay most of them do not even deserve to be taken seriously. (Hat tip to Power Line.)

One Publication That Gets The Blogosphere

Speaking of The New Criterion, I noticed that it is one established publication that understands that the blogosphere is a wave to be ridden, not an opponent to fight. Here's how the editors describe Armavirumque's purpose:

Month in and month out, The New Criterion expounds with great clarity and wit on the art, culture, and political controversies of our times. With postings of reviews, essays, links, recs, and news, Armavirumque seeks to continue this mission in accordance with the timetable of the digital age.
So it's a blog that complments the monthly publication of the magazine. "The timetable of the digital age," indeed! I am sure others are doing this, but this is the first such effort I have noticed that actually calls itself a blog. We'll see much more of this.

An Iwo Jima Must-Read

I probably call too many articles a "must read." But this time I really mean it! Today's the 60th anniversary of the American assault on Iwo Jima. Candidly, that was one WWII battle about which I was woefully uninformed. If you're like me, this Opinion Journal piece will teach you a lot. Did you know the following, for example:

[The assault invovled] more than 110,000 Americans and 880 ships . . . .

The attack on Iwo Jima capped a two-year island-hopping campaign that was as controversial with politicians and the press as any Rumsfeld strategy. Each amphibious assault had been bloodier than the last: at Tarawa . . . 3,000 ill-prepared Marines fell taking an island of just three square miles . . . and Peleliu, where it took 10 weeks of fighting in 115-degree heat to root out the last Japanese defenders, at the cost of 6,000 soldiers and Marines.

Iwo Jima would be the first island of the Japanese homeland to be attacked. The Japanese had put in miles of tunnels and bunkers, with 361 artillery pieces, 65 heavy mortars, 33 large naval guns, and 21,000 defenders determined to fight to the death. Their motto was, "kill 10 of the enemy before dying." American commanders expected 40% casualties on the first assault. "We have taken such losses before," remarked the Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, "and if we have to, we can do it again."

That puts the American casualties in Iraq in some perspective, doesn't it? Every American death in Iraq is horrible; there was a lot more of that to go around in 1945.

Top your Iwo Jima reading off with this first-hand account by a man who was 18 years old when he stormed up that beach on Iwo Jima.

Speaking of Spotting the Idiots, Do You Read The L.A. Times?

You can spot a few writing there. Laer of Cheat-Seeking Missiles explains why he finally cancelled his subscription. He also links helpfully to some information about the SpongeBob Squarepants "controversy" that some lefty news media types ginned up recently.

Quote of The Week

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. If a EU president, a Saudi royal, and a Middle East specialist in the State Department or a professor in an endowed Middle Eastern Studies chair agree that the United States is "woefully naïve," "unnecessarily provocative" or "acting unilaterally," then assume that we are pretty much on the right side of history and promoting democratic reform. "Sobriety" and "working with Arab moderates" is diplo-speak for supporting or abetting an illiberal hierarchy.
--Victor Davis Hanson, Private Papers

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Iranian Election Breakdown

The Dilley Blog has a breakdown of the Iraqi elections, showing the number of seats won by each party. The Shiite party that Sistani supported has just over half the available seats. Time will tell how significant that is; right now it's uncertain.

A Prophetic Utterance from Peggy Noonan


The kind of thing we'll see much more of.

As a timely follow-up to the post just below about the old news media and bloggers, Peggy Noonan gets deeply into the subject in today's Opinion Journal. A key 'graph:

Some publisher is going to decide that if you can't fight blogs, you can join them. He'll think like this: We're already on the Internet. That's how bloggers get and review our reporting. Why don't we get our own bloggers to challenge our work? Why don't we invite bloggers who already exist into the tent? Why not take the best things said on blogs each day and print them on a Daily Blog page? We'd be enhancing our rep as an honest news organization, and it will further our branding!
Indeed. Read the whole thing! If you're a blogger, it will make your day.

UPDATE: Some blog humor here about an unforeseen use of the new media.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Established News Media's Response to Bloggers: To Ride The Wave of The Future, Or Swim Against It?


Many in the older, more established news media are reacting badly to the advent of blogging as a force in the world of news and public opinion. The most surprising and recent example is this Opinion Journal editorial. The Journal's editorial page is the last place conservative bloggers expected to see anti-blog comments. Kerry Spot summarizes another recent example of the Journal's lashing out.

This raises a question: Shouldn't the older news media recognize that blogging is here and will not go away, and is a force they should harness, not fight? At Poynter Online, Julie Moos makes some suggestions as to how newspapers and others can improve their product by making blogs part of their operations. No, I'm not talking about big news media co-opting blogs, which are far too ungovernable for that to happen; I'm talking about recognizing a new creature in the ecosystem and trying to find symbiosis.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt, not surprisingly, offers much more on this subject. We have not heard the last of this; in fact, we can be sure that this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Comment Feature Is Fixed - And Improved!


We use the Metempsychosis Hack here, which allows easier commenting. As noted below, some problems have recently cropped up, which were introduced by Blogger's changes to the comments system. A new version of the Metempsychosis Hack has been released, and it should fix everything. Additionally, the new version introduces the bold, italic, link, and quote buttons to aid commenters in formatting their comments and copying text into their comment from a previous comment. We recommend the Hack! It's easy to install. Go here to find it.

We thank the folks at Sons of The Republic for telling us about the revision to the Hack.

Please comment away; we love comments on the Hedgehog Blog.

War And Its Cost


The caption that appeared with the above Associated Press photo states:

"Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraces Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during a Veterans Day commemoration in Dallas. Graunke lost a hand, a leg and and eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year." (Thanks to Blackfive.)
It is difficult to know what to say about a photo that is worth so many thousands of words all by itself.

Maybe some of you are like me. I have a 19 year-old son who's interested in military service, and in my church I have worked for about eight years now with boys and young men aged 12 to 18. Perhaps that is why I find myself, daily, reflecting deeply on the sacrifices of young servicemen and women and their families who serve in the military. Those young people are just like the ones I work with and worry about all the time, and the exact age of my own son.

When we hear of the deaths of Americans cut down literally in the bloom of youth, and that is heart-wrenching and sobering enough; but the sacrifices made are greater and more widespread. Do we think as often as we should of the burdens of others "who have borne the battle?" I'm thinking now of the daily worry of the parents and loved ones at home; the irreversible consequences to the 25,000 wounded; the soldiers' lost and irretrievable time with their own little children.

It is tempting to become cynical and even sanctimonious about such matters. My highest admiration is for those who are realistic, seeing both the high purposes to which our servicemen are called, but also never forgetting the price that is paid.

In my own efforts to keep that realistic balance, I've found the works of Western poets to be helpful. Here's a famous one from Wilfred Owen:

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

The final lines are from Horace, who wrote "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori [It is sweet and proper to die for one's country]." Owen uses them, of course, ironically.

A different, less cynical perspective appears in this, my favorite poem about war:

In Flanders Fields

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

That one, "In Flanders Fields," is by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician who served in World War I. McCrae was no stranger to the real suffering of soldiers wounded in battle. According to the Arlington National Cemetery web site:

As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, Major McCrae, who had joined the McGill faculty in 1900 after graduating from the University of Toronto, had spent seventeen days treating injured men -- Canadians, British, Indians, French, and Germans -- in the Ypres salient.

It had been an ordeal that he had hardly thought possible. McCrae later wrote of it:

"I wish I could embody on paper some of the varied sensations of that seventeen days... Seventeen days of Hades! At the end of the first day if anyone had told us we had to spend seventeen days there, we would have folded our hands and said it could not have been done."

The story behind McCrae's poem is a must-read. It is here.

Sherman was right when he said "war is hell." I am grateful to live in a democracy, where the "dog of war" is chained. Ideally, in a democracy the decision to go to war is made only after considerable, passionate debate and is always subject to the oversight of the people.

I am also grateful beyond words to those who serve. May we all support them, before, during, and after the battle; and may God bless them.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

If You Are Having Difficulty Commenting on This Blog . . .

you are not alone. There is a problem with Blogger. I have reported it and am awaiting a response.

In the meantime, if you have something to say about one of my posts, feel free to e-mail me at the link below, just above my photo. I'll post worthy comments without identifying you (unless you wish to be identified).

A Reader's Report on Bush The Bumpkin

In response to a post below, "Could This Be Why President Bush Is So Admired by His Supporters?" reader pst314 comments:

I keep meeting liberals who (loudly) insist that supporters found Bush more likable in the sense that they saw him as being just like them: Stumbling, ignorant, uneducated and dull-witted, a redneck bumpkin standing at the other end of the barbecue and speaking in a fashion that suggests an IQ of about 75. (All this describes as precisely as I can the people I endured yesterday at what was supposed to be a discussion of trends in basic scientific research and where one was likely to see significant breakthroughs. Really.) That such comments might reveal more about their intelligence and character than about Bush does not seem to occur to them.
Indeed. Respond to pst314, if you wish, by e-mailing him at

Saturday, February 12, 2005

On Abraham Lincoln's Birthday


Find some time this weekend to read this speech by Lincoln, made July 9, 1858, when he was running against Stephen Douglas for the Illinois U.S. Senate seat. In times like ours, when another U.S. President is talking about freedom for all humankind, Lincoln's words are as inspiring and timely as ever.

(Hat tip to Power Line for the idea; there, the Big Trunk (Scott Johnson) quotes an excerpt from the same speech.)

Some Eason Jordan Musings

Believe it or not, as far as the Eason Jordan story goes I might as well have been on Mars for the last week or so. Work took me out of town and pretty much had me tied up around the clock.

So, here's some help for those who, like me, missed all the excitement. The more I read about it, the more I see what a significant development this is in the story of the blogosphere.

Eason Jordan at the fateful World Economic Forum event, with Afghanistan Foreign Minister Abdullah

What Happened, Anyway?

If you want to learn more about this matter, you'll find a fine (if somewhat triumphant) summary at Michelle Malkin.

I think this one is a must-read, by Rebecca MacKinnon at RConversation, a blog described as "musings of . . . a recovering TV reporter-turned-blogger." Ms. MacKinnon was present at the World Economic Forum conference where Eason Jordan made his infamous comments. Apart from that eyewitness perspective, she is an interesting blogger in her own right: She worked for CNN, and states that she "was based in China and Japan for CNN from 1992 until the end of 2003. During that time [she] held positions ranging from 'production assistant' to 'producer' to 'correspondent' to 'bureau chief and correspondent.'" Ms. MacKinnon is a very interesting person to follow, as she's now making the transition from traditional news to in-depth study of "participatory media," like blogs. Here's her bio.

What Does This Mean?

Hugh Hewitt's summary is also a little triumphant in tone, but he makes the key point: No one in the old news media was covering this story, and the old media would not have even given the story a look if bloggers had not forced the issue. The old-boy and old-girl network of the old media is much less comfortable than before, and that is always a good thing.

But overall, I do not see what has happened here as all that wonderful. Eason Jordan went down because he said something unconscionable and then got mired in denials while refusing to make available any record of the event. It was his refusal to be transparent, to let the pubic decide for itself what he said and what it meant, that caused his demise.

Since lack of transparency was the catalyst here, can we be sure what will happen now? Is Easongate going to make the old media less biased, or simply more careful about letting their slip show in public the way Jordan did? As time goes on, people like Jordan will fear bloggers and the transparency bloggers force, but will that fear simply drive the old media's bias deeper underground? Will fear produce loathing as well? Blogs are supposed to bring more openness to public dialogue, not simply create more secretive attitudes and opportunities for on-line screaming matches.

No one really knows the answers, and I do not intend to be a worry-wart. I just think bloggers should be a little careful about getting too carried away with giant-killing.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Notes from The Frozen Midwest


I'm busy with client hearings today in Chicago, so posting will be light.

Debra Saunders raises a disquieting concern about Republicans overplaying their hand. (Thanks to RealClearPolitics.)

An interesting blog I just found (but which is probably pretty well-known: Michael J. Totten. Read his diary-style account of Iraqi election night here.

I personally look forward to a long Howard Dean run as DNC Chair. Robert Kuttner, predictably, thinks Dean will help the Dems. Austin Bay thinks the Dems are headed toward the cliff. I tend to agree with Bay. Bill and Hillary Clinton will try to stop that and seem to have the clout to succeed. I find it morbidly fascinating to watch Hillary morph into a religious, pro-defense Lieberman-style Democrat. One thing we must recognize about the Clintons is their masterful ability to read political trends. As commenter BlueBuffoon notes, the important aspect of that ability is that not only do the Clintons read the trends, they then position themselves as if they have always supported those trends. Most good politicians do this, but the Clintons take it to a new level. It's a combination of astonishing brass (also called chutzpah) , cunning, and slickness. Bill is slicker then Hillary, but they two are cut from the same cloth.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A Question


I don't know the answer, but I'll ask: Is it a coincidence that the current effort to destroy Bill Cosby arises just a few months after he begins making a series of controversial speeches about the social and economic problems of African-Americans?

Only Cosby's accusers and he know whether the accusations against him are true. But one has to wonder about the timing of all this.

Lest We Forget The Nature of What We're Facing

On the road working today, so my only post may be this sobering comment about Osama bin Laden:

His inspiration, repeatedly cited in his writings and interviews, is the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which he says shocked Japan's fading imperial government into a surrender it might not otherwise have contemplated... Listening to him on tape after tape, it is difficult to doubt bin Laden's intent. There is evidence that he and his allies have experimented with chemical and biological weapons, typically low-level toxins. But in public, bin Laden talks mainly about nuclear bombs.
--Reporter and author Steve Coll, writing in the Washington Post.

Read the whole article. It won't make your day but it will help keep you focused.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Assisted Suicide, The News Media, Liberal Groupthink, And Some Dishonesty


From the Warner Brothers web site promoting the movie

If you're like me you have heard many radio advertisements promoting "Million Dollar Baby," the Clint Eastwood movie that is receiving critical raves and seems certain to win at least one Academy Award.

You also think the movie is about boxing.

You're also wrong. The movie's central plot feature, we now know, is assisted suicide.

But you'd never know that from the promotional materials or just about any of the major reviews of the movie. That this is a boxing movie is certainly what the radio ads and trailers suggest. Look at Warner Brothers' site for the movie, for example.

The movie seems tempting enough to see. It's rated PG-13, so people who avoid R-rated movies will at least consider seeing it. In addition to Eastwood (one of the biggest box-office draws in the world) "Million Dollar Baby" stars Morgan Freeman and Hillary Swank, two very fine actors. Swank won Best Actress several years ago (in another "message" movie, "Boys Don't Cry").

But when "Million Dollar Baby" is discussed, virtually no one talks about assisted suicide (which some call euthanasia, but that's another post altogether).

Why the dishonesty? There are surely several reasons, but I think primarily they are;

1. Movie reviewers-- especially the big-time writers-- generally share the worldview of the entertainment industry: They're primarily hard-core liberals who consider themselves enlightened cosmopolitians who disdain the views of cold-hearted red-state America.

2. Because such liberals are overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing and expanding the use of assisted suicide, they are inclined to assist the cause. (After all, isn't it clear to all enlightened, cosmopolitan people that assisted suicide is right, proper, and compassionate?)

3. Film reviewers who consider themselves enlightened and cosmopolitan certainly don't want to be identified with cold-hearted red-state America, most citizens of which either question or oppose assisted suicide; nor do they want to discourage anyone (intentionally or not) from seeing this film, which reportedly presents assisted suicide in a very favorable light. The gretaer the number of people who see the movie, the more the cause of enlightened cosmopolitan thinking is advanced.

4. If people know the movie has an assisted suicide theme, they won't go see it. The cause of enlightened cosmopolitan thinking will suffer.

5. So the enlightened and cosmopolitan reviewers will not mention the film's central theme, which might discourage people from viewing it.

Now, you may think the theory above is silly and its underlying logic flawed, because people are going to start seeing "Million Dollar Baby" anyway, and soon everyone who pays attention will learn by word of mouth about the movie's theme. But many will still see the film without knowing its theme. Many will still be proselytized.

It's essentially the same approach Amway promoters use to fool you into going to an Amway meeting: They know you'll be less likely to go if you know the meeting is about Amway. The same approach is used by some religious proselytizers to get people to listen to their story.

And it's still misleading and wrong. What makes the "Million Dollar Baby" deception so interesting and so revealing is the widespread complicity of the old media in Warner Brothers' marketing plans.

Note: I do not think this is anything close to a conspiracy; it is simply a remarkably clear example of the groupthink that goes on in that segment of the news media.

Tim Rutten of the L.A. Times deserves credit for raising the issue. Rutten's a solid liberal but he does at least see the questionable nature of what has been going on. Prior to Rutten's piece in yesterday's Times, I had heard only Michael Medved raise this issue during an interview.

If you want to see this movie, go right ahead. I might even see it myself. It's probably a superb piece of filmmaking. But we should all go into the theater knowing what we will be seeing.

UPDATE: Common Sense Runs Wild has further analysis on the movie. Warning! Plot spoilers!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Another Hedgehog Makes Its Mark

I'm in a whimsical mood, so am posting this message to me from The Wagonboy, which he found on the Free Republic site:

Hedgehog costs France $5m,

From correspondents in Paris
February 03, 2005

A DEAD hedgehog that created an airport mishap involving an Air France passenger plane nearly seven years ago has cost the French government more than €3 million ($5.06 million) in a court ruling.

On March 22, 1998, the hedgehog's carcass lying at the end of a runway at the Marseille airport attracted about 20 seagulls which were picking at it, oblivious to the Air France Airbus A320 roaring toward them about to lift off.

The plane's right engine sucked in the birds, destroying it and forcing the pilot to abort the takeoff.

In its judgement, a Marseille court ruled the French government responsible for keeping runways clear of such perils and that its staff at the airport should have noticed "such a large group of birds" in the path of the jet.

It ordered the government to pay $1.4 million to Air France, and $3.9 million to five insurance companies.

Wagonboy notes:

Even in death, the Hedgehog does the right thing by sticking it to France! It was a risky move, though, innocent lives could have been lost.

Who would think such a harmless-looking creature could cause such havoc?

If You Are A Dartmouth College Alum . . .

this letter from Peter Robinson may interest you:

Dear fellow Dartmouth Alumna or Alumnus,

I’m seeking a seat on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees as a petition candidate in the election this coming March. A former White House speechwriter—I wrote the Berlin Wall address in which President Reagan challenged General Secretary Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”—I’m now a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, the public policy research center at Stanford University.

As a trustee, I’d devote myself to three issues: excellence in undergraduate education, freedom of speech on campus, and a restoration of the Dartmouth athletic program, much of which is now sunk in mediocrity, to its traditions of spirited achievement. Dartmouth, I believe, must build on its own immense and distinctive strengths—not become a second-rate Harvard or Yale.

To place my name on the March ballot, I’ll need to gather 500 signatures, and I’d like to ask for yours. If the views you read here reflect your own, please print the petition, sign it, and mail it to me by February 18.

On this website you’ll be able to learn why I’m running, who I am, and how to get in touch with me.

Perhaps most important, you’ll be able to sign the petition. As you’ll see, the petition is available in both PDF and WORD formats. Please print it, sign it, and, once again, mail it to me by February 18.

Time is short-I’ll need to deliver all 500 signatures to the College by the middle of February. So if you know of Dartmouth alumni who would also like to help, please send them the link to this website.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Worth 10,000 Words

. . . and almost 2 minutes of sustained applause.

From the Buffalo News:

The parents of Marine Corps Sgt. Byron Norwood said they did not know the Iraqi woman, Safia Taleb al-Suhail, was going to be there until she turned and introduced herself on their way in to hear the speech.

"She thanked us for our son's sacrifice and made sure we knew the people in Iraq were grateful for the sacrifices that were made not just by our son, but by all of them," Janet Norwood said Thursday.

"I just told her how happy we were that the elections were successful and told her our son would have been pleased," said Norwood, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" with her husband, Bill.

For more on this, go to John Podhoretz' column today.

Could This Be Why President Bush Is So Admired by His Supporters?


I think Max Boot, writing in the Los Angeles Times, has it right:

Much can still go wrong in the broader Middle East. Indeed, much has gone wrong already. There is no doubt that Bush has made plenty of mistakes.

The mistake he has not made, however, is the most important of all: He has not lost his nerve.

History shows that a mighty nation can recover from wartime miscalculations. It can bounce back from defeats at Bull Run or Bataan, Chancellorsville or the Choisin Reservoir, as long as it possesses a leader who never acknowledges that he is beaten.

In George W. Bush we have such a man. His stubbornness and certitude can annoy even his friends, but they are precisely the qualities needed in a wartime leader. They are the qualities that have made possible the edifying spectacle of Iraqis rising up to rule themselves.
Bill Clinton had a lot of nerve (many would call it "brass" or "gall") but no one would ever describe Clinton as man with backbone. Can you imagine Clinton sticking with a decision in the face of withering criticism from Europe and the entire old news media? Can you imagine Al Gore doing that? Or John Kerry? If anything sets Bush apart from the crowd, it's that character trait. His detractors call it stubbornness; I call it a spine.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The State of The Union Speech (and in case you're wondering where I've been . . .)

Work has had me, well, working, so I did not even get to hear the State of The Union address last night. I have it recorded and will have to listen later. I've certainly heard snippets and I know I am going to like it. Hugh Hewitt will direct you to all the roundups you'll need.

I'll be posting again tomorrow. For the meantime, I'll share this choice quote from Thomas Friedman:

Then there is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This Charles-Manson-with-a-turban who heads the insurgency in Iraq had a bad hair day on Sunday. I wonder whether anyone told him about the suicide bomber who managed to blow up only himself outside a Baghdad polling station and how Iraqi voters walked around his body, spitting on it as they went by. Zarqawi claims to be the leader of the Iraqi Vietcong - the authentic carrier of Iraqis' national aspirations and desire to liberate their country from "U.S. occupation." In truth, he is the leader of the Iraqi Khmer Rouge - a murderous death cult.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Really Great New Blog

Go to VietPundit. Here's an excerpt of the blogger's self-description:

I was born in Da Nang, South Vietnam, in August 1965. My father was a soldier in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). . . . When the North Vietnamese Communists took over South Vietnam in April 1975, my father, like hundreds of thousands of other South Vietnamese, was sent to a "re-education" camp, where he suffered horrendously from hard labor, malnutrition, torture, and solitary confinement, for 12 years. . . . My mother’s business was confiscated, and we had to do everything we could to scrape by. I have no idea how we survived those years.

From 1979 to 1981, I made many unsuccessful attempts to escape Vietnam, and was caught twice. Each time I spent only about a month in jail, and my mother bribed me out. . . . Finally, in August of 1981, at the age of 16, I managed to successfully escape on a small boat, making it to Hong Kong after 4 days on the South China Sea. After spending 8 months in a refugee camp there, I came to America in April 1982. I was sponsored by my brothers, who had also escaped as boat people and settled in America in 1979. My parents finally were reunited with us when they were sponsored to come as immigrants in 1990. We sometimes tease our parents that they had it better than us: they came on an airplane instead of a boat!

I've been living near Little Saigon in Orange County, Southern California, ever since I came to America. Even though I'm a computer programmer, I work on an IBM mid-range computer, not on a PC, and my PC and Internet skills are quite limited. I’m a novice at blogging. Unlike many bloggers, I've never had any training in writing or journalism or law, and this is the first time I've ever written anything. Obviously, English is my second language. Those factors made me a little hesitant about starting this blog. Let's just see how this adventure turns out.
Read this blog. This is a man who has something to say.

Choice Comments On The Iraqi Election

This is a gift that keeps on giving. Mark Steyn offers his usual wit-filled and incisive commentary here. An excerpt:

You might not have gained [the impression that things are going well in Iraq] from watching CNN or reading the Los Angeles Times. The Western press are all holed up in the same part of Baghdad, and the insurgents very conveniently set off bombs visible from their hotel windows in perfect synchronization with the U.S. TV news cycle. But, if they could look beyond the plumes of smoke, they'd see that Iraq's going to be better than OK, that it will be the economic powerhouse of the region, and that the various small nods toward democracy going on in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere suggest that the Arab world has figured out what the foreign policy ''realists'' haven't: that the trend is in the Bush direction. When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warned that the U.S. invasion of Iraq would ''destabilize'' the entire region, he was right. That's why it was such a great idea.
Glenn Reynolds tells "Why The Press Got It Wrong" and how the blogosphere is leaping ahead of the old news media in getting good information out.

Thomas Sowell skewers John Kerry for his Meet The Press comments. Hat tip to Rocket Man at Power Line, who, like me, wishes he'd said that. Excerpt:

Senator Kerry has a long record as a defeatist and obstructionist. Back in 1971, he said, "we cannot fight communism all over the world" -- adding in the same arrogant tone he uses today, "I think we should have learned that lesson by now."

Ronald Reagan never learned that lesson -- and hundreds of millions of human beings are free of communist tyranny today as a result. But during all the years when President Reagan was building up our military forces and our intelligence agencies, Senator Kerry was consistently voting against the appropriations required to do so. . . .

[Kerry and other self-appointed foreign policy elites] imagined themselves to be so much wiser than other people that condescension was only natural, as they brushed aside any other viewpoint with such dismissive words as "cowboy" or even "stupid." The fact that events proved the defeatist elitists dead wrong in the Cold War -- and now again in the Iraqi elections -- has not yet broken through their smugness.

Probably nothing ever will. But that does not mean that the rest of us need to keep taking their high opinion of themselves seriously.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Iraqi Elections: Ripple Effect


Here's an op-ed piece by Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and energy editor of The Wall Street Journal who is now managing director of a political risk-assessment group. An excerpt:

Strange how one day's event can touch so many, even those outside Iraq. But it did not come from nowhere. To autocratic regional despots, the rush to vote by millions of trapped, terrorized and occupied Iraqis was a closure to tired arguments. The despots have never held an honest-to-God election, and now this embarrassing model sits there, across the border, in a major Arab nation.
As they say, read the whole thing.

A Marine's Journal

Today's Opinion Journal contains the first installment of this Iraq invasion diary
by Brian Taylor, who joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1996 and was called up for service in February 2002. His enlistment expired in November 2003. He kept his journal while deployed with the Fox Company, Second Battalion, 23rd Marines in Kuwait and Iraq. Taylor is articulate and detailde, and his story is well worth reading.