Sunday, July 31, 2005

Kelo v. City of New London Revisited -- in Gaza

Here's Ralph Kostant's latest:

Remember Kelo v. City of New London? That was the Supreme Court decision expanding local government’s power of eminent domain, which commanded the attention of the Hedgehogs and many others just a few weeks ago. One of the biggest fears of critics of the decision is that moneyed real estate development interests may use their influence over local government to employ eminent domain in order to acquire sites for private development projects, at bargain prices.

A scary prelude of the possible abuses that Kelo may permit may be seen right now, in the Gaza disengagement. True, Israel is not subject to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, advocates of the removal of Jews from Gaza often point to the precedent of eminent domain, and say that the destruction of Jewish towns and the relocation of their residents is really no more than a traditional exercise of eminent domain. Government takings “ain’t often easy and ain’t often kind,” as the former Latino residents of Chavez Ravine, removed in the 1950s to make way for Dodger Stadium, would testify.

Well, the precedent may be more apt than its presenters imagined. As Carol Glick reports in The Jerusalem Post:

This week it was reported that longtime Sharon crony South African businessman Cyril Kern is an investor in a project to build a casino in Elei Sinai after the government expels the community's Jewish residents next month. Allegations that Kern illegally funded Sharon's political campaigns form the basis for one of the ongoing criminal investigations being conducted against the premier. [RK Note: this investigation resulted this week in the indictment of Omri Sharon, son of the Prime Minister.]
On Tuesday, the Knesset State Control Committee launched an investigation into Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eival Giladi, who serves in the Prime Minister's Office as the coordinator of all governmental activities related to the withdrawal of the IDF and the expulsion of Jewish residents from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. Earlier in the month the Makor Rishon newspaper and Israel News Resource Agency revealed that Giladi also serves as the director of the British nonprofit Portland Trust, which is seeking to raise $500 million in investment funds to develop Gush Katif after it is emptied of its Jewish residents in the operation that Giladi oversees.

Could it be that the Gaza disengagement is not the price of peace, or a step toward fulfillment of the Middle East Roadmap, but a land scam by corrupt Israeli and Palestinian power brokers?

Ralph B. Kostant

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Stem Cell Funding and Senator Frist

I have not followed this issue closely but am at least aware that the crux of the controversy is not that embryonic stem cell research has been banned. Rather, the federal government is simply not funding such research. (In fact, my state, California, is funding the research big-time, to the tune of $3 billion, probably more than Congress would.) The widespread notion that any ban exists has been a useful tool of advocates for federal funding and is the result of sloppy reporting by the MSM.

In this Daily Standard piece Eric Cohen and William Kristol clarify the moral and policy issues and make some proposals that Senator Frist and his colleagues need to consider.

The Condescension of Liberal Academics toward . . . Well, Just About Anyone But Themselves

This op-ed piece by Linda Seebach will not reward a quick read. Take an extra 2 minutes and read carefully the comments of these four political scientists at the University of Pittsburgh - Barry Ames, David Barker, Chris Bonneau and Christopher Carmana. Then, if you're like me, you'll marvel that academics, who take publication of their ideas so seriously, are actually willing to offer such ideas up in print, for the scrutiny of intelligent people. (HT: RealClearPolitics.)

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Document Request for Senator Schumer

This is funny, and makes an excellent point about the Democrats' requests for protected or privileged documents from John Roberts' tenure in the Executive Branch. (HT: Power Line.)

Mitt Romney and The Atlantic: Has The Legacy Media Learned Anything about Covering Religion in Politics?

The Washington, D.C., Temple of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This is not a religious blog, although I am a religious person. Full disclosure: I am a life-long, fully-committed, fifth-generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called the "LDS" or "Mormon" Church. So I cannot resist commenting on the recent Atlantic Monthly article on Mitt Romney by Sridhar Pappu. The below-the-title teaser paragraph tells you a lot about where the article is going:

Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts, loves data, hates waste, and reveres Dwight Eisenhower. He's also the Next Big Thing in the Republican Party. But can anyone so clean-cut, so pure of character, and (by gosh!) so square overcome the "two Ms"—Mormonism and Massachusetts—to be our next president?
Leave aside, for now, the sophomoric nature of that question. Almost the entire article is about politics and policy, Romney's history, and other non-religious matters. Then, on the last page, Pappu gets to the Religion Question:

But all this will be for naught if Romney can't answer one of the biggest questions that would dog his candidacy. As it happens, it's a question that had slipped my mind as I was discussing the prospect of a national Romney candidacy with Ted Kennedy on the phone . . . . (Once Romney's nemesis and conqueror, Kennedy now speaks respectfully of him . . . .) I was winding down our conversation when Senator Kennedy interrupted me. "The one question you didn't ask," he said, "was about Mormonism—whether it would hurt him in a national campaign."

"I was about to," I said.

"The answer is no," Kennedy said. "We've moved on. That died with my brother Jack."

Romney himself says he serves the people, not the Book of Mormon. But though the matter should have died with the election of Jack Kennedy (who himself spoke on religious freedom at the Mormon Tabernacle in 1960), Romney's religion remains—as a prominent Republican strategist who worked on both George W. Bush campaigns told me—"the other M."

Pappu makes the odd comment that in "speaking to Romney's family members and colleagues and fellow politicians over the course of several months, I felt awkward asking [religious] questions." The he says he "finally asked Romney, '"How Mormon are you?'"

Romney gives a perfectly fine answer to that question. Then Pappu, apparently over his awkwardness, asks Romney about . . . his underwear:

"Do you wear the temple garments?" I asked uncomfortably, referring to the special undergarments worn by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (The underwear has markings denoting the covenants of the Mormon faith, and is meant to serve as a reminder of the high standards Mormons are expected to uphold. The rules governing its wear and disposal seem as complex as those pertaining to, say, the American flag.)

He answered, "I'll just say those sorts of things I'll keep private."

This exchange gives one pause. Now, we all know that Bill Clinton, who lowered so many standards of presidential behavior, famously opened the door to presidential candidates being asked about their underwear. (Remember? "Boxers or briefs?" was the question. Clinton could not restrain himself from answering on national television.) But this is something different, because the question is about private religious observance of the most sensitive and personal kind.

First off, let's deal with this whole temple garment question. Mormon temples are central to my faith. Temples are not simply meeting houses, and in fact are closed on Sundays, when all Mormons are in regular church meetings, which are held in our neighborhood chapels. Only fully worthy members of the church may enter our temples, and they must meet relatively high standards of behavior to qualify. As Mormons raise our children we teach them to set as a major life goal to be worthy to enter the temple when they become adults. It is in temples where Mormons are married and where we make profound promises and commitments to God about our families and about living our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. We consider the ceremonies in our temples deeply sacred (not secret) and so we do not discuss them in detail outside the temple.

So what about the garments? They are special clothing that we wear next to the skin, and which serve as reminders of the promises and commitments we made to God in the temple. We like to refer to them as the outward reminder of an inward commitment. Because the garments are the only thing we take with us out of the temple, they, and what they symbolize, are deeply sacred to us as well.

Now, several aspects of Pappu's question, which Hugh Hewitt rightly calls "extraordinarily inappropriate," cry out for comment. Would Pappu ask Joseph Lieberman if he wears the Jewish tallit katan, which is a similar garment worn by many observant Jews under their clothes? According to Ralph Kostant, who writes often for this blog and who is an Orthodox Jew, the tallit katan is "similar to the purpose of the Mormon temple garments . . . the tzitzit or fringes tied to the four corners of the tallit katan . . . are intended to remind us of our obligations to observe the mitzvot (commandments) of God."

Let's go a little farther. Would Pappu ask a Jewish man if he is circumcised? Would he ask a Catholic (as Hugh wonders) when he last went to confession? Regarding any of those sacred subjects, would Pappu make a similar snide and deeply uninformed comment about the "rules governing [the garment's] wear and disposal," claiming those rules "seem as complex as those pertaining to, say, the American flag?" (There are no rules, only guidelines, and they are not complex. But I digress.) Would he ask anyone, "How Catholic are you?" or "How Jewish are you?"

Most important, would Pappu get a pass for asking such stupid questions?

As my commenter BlueBuffoon notes regarding a post below, Harry Reid, the Democrat Senate Majority Leader, is reputed to be a devout Mormon. Why is no one asking about his underwear?

For me, the lesson here is not about Mormons or Jews or Catholics or sacred symbols. It is about the deeply ingrained disdain certain journalistic elites in our country have toward anything that smacks of deep religious commitment, or of the aspirations many religious people have toward higher values and standards of personal behavior. (You'll notice in Pappu's article, for example, that he can't seem to get over Romney's regular use of mild expletives like "Holy Cow," an expression that made it into the article's title. So Romney uses clean language. Why is that undeniably admirable habit so worthy of ridicule? Does it make the writer uncomfortable because he's used to hearing or using foul or coarse language?)

This will be a story to watch unfold throughout the 2008 election. And it isn't just about Mitt Romney. I like Romney a lot, but I'm also attracted to Senator Allen of Virginia. I'm not sure which candidate I'll support yet. Yes, Mitt will get religous junk thrown at him throughout the campaign, and Allen's evangelical Christianity will get intense scrutiny. There will be the usual hand-wringing by the MSM about -- shudder!-- the candidates' religiousity.

On the other hand, I'll bet no one will be asking John Kerry, "How Catholic are you?" Nor do I doubt that Hillary Clinton's effort to paint herself as an "aw, shucks" sensible Midwestern Methodist will get anything but approving commentary from the MSM. That commentary will probably focus on how Senator Clinton's newly emphasized religious commitment is such a clever political ploy

And no one will be asking her about her underwear.

UPDATE: Good old InstaPundit has something interesting to say about the general issue of religion in politics. Also, there's a rollicking discussion of this entire subject at

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Democrats' Civil War

The adage is that one should never interrupt an enemy who is in the process of destroying himself. Byron York describes the self-destructive internecine war raging within the Democrat Party.

Shhh. Don't interrupt, just watch.

Mitt Romney, Mormons, and Politics

Ralph Kostant's latest submission, on the Mitt Romney Atlantic article, follows below. I will be posting myself on that subject a little later. In fact, I've been meaning to post about the Atlantic article for several days, but as Steve Alen used to say, I had a suden attack of employment.

Here are Ralph's thoughts:

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly has an article on Mitt Romney, called "The Holy Cow Candidate," which provoked a great deal of discussion on the Hugh Hewitt Show this afternoon. I thought that the article was quite informative, but did a double-take when the author asks Mitt Romney whether he wears temple garments. Why is that of any more legitimate interest to the voting public than whether Senator Joseph Lieberman wears ritual fringes? To his credit, Governor Romney refused to respond.

Given my personal experience with members of the Mormon faith from childhood on, I find the assumption that membership in the Mormon Church would affect one's political positions to be very questionable. While today many people may associate Mormon politicians with Republican conservatism, growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, in a New Deal Democratic Jewish family, my Mormon friends and acquaintaces generally were also liberal Democrats in what then was largely a conservative Republican city.

The leading family of Mormon politicians in Arizona were the Udalls, all Democrats, including Stewart Udall, who served as JFK's Secretary of the Interior, and Congressman Morris "Mo" Udall. Today two Udall cousins serve in Congress, Mark Udall (CO), the son of Mo, and Tom Udall (NM), the son of Stewart. Biographical information available online on Mark Udall identifies him as a Mormon. They are both liberal Democrats.

My father was a party-loyal Democrat, but he greatly respected Michigan Governor George Romney, who was a liberal Republican, and a champion of Civil Rights laws. In the early 60's, George Romney was the arch-enemy to Goldwater Conservatives.

In short, in my view, the fact of membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a poor predictor of political positions.
As a fifth-generation Mormon who grew up in Salt Lake City and has been very active in politics there (although I've been gone for 24 years) I have some thoughts. Check back later for more on that, and on Mitt Romney.

The Political Uncorrectness of Profiling

Paul Sperry of the Hoover Institution comments here about the foolishness of scrutinizing mass transit passengers only on a random basis. Excerpt:

Once an Islamist suicide bomber is sitting next to you on the train, your chances of escape are slim. The only solution is for the police to stop him well before he boards your car. But with the system as it stands, that terrorist could easily slip in through the numerical window of random security screening. By not allowing police to profile the most suspicious train passengers - young Muslim men who fit the indicators above - Mr. Bloomberg and other leaders not only tie one hand behind law enforcement's back, but they also unwittingly provide terrorists political cover to carry out their murderous plans. Call it politically correct suicide.

Read the whole thing; it's short, pithy, persuasive, and a little scary.

UPDATE: This New York Times piece discusses what can happen when police engage in profiling and use deadly force as part of that process. The result in this case was tragic but the right thing to do, in my view.

Maybe The Tide Is Starting to Turn?

It's too early to get too excited but it seems some Muslim voices are being raised against islamofascist terrorism. At last. (HT: InstaPundit.)

UPDATE: See Ralph Kostant's comment below this post for added perspective on just how tiny are these apparent steps in the right direction.

Chuck Schumer, The Evil Umpire

This morning on NPR I heard the story of Schumer's latest antics. He said, regarding the John Roberts nomination, that the White House already has two "strikes" and after a third strike, will be "out." I happened to be working out this morning as I heard the sound bite, and I must admit I laughed out loud. Power Line has a less mirthful take.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What Would We Do without Middle Eastern Blood Libels?

Here is the latest from honorary Hedgehog and friend of this blog Ralph Kostant:

The blood of the victims of the Sharm el-Sheikh bombs had hardly dried on the streets before Egyptian "security experts" were spreading a 21st century blood libel, charging that Israel and the Jews were behind the atrocities, as this article from the July 23, 2005 Jerusalem Post demonstrates. In the United States, legitimate security analysts such as Frank Gaffney and Daniel Pipes are frequently pilloried by the Left and Moslem apologists for merely stating the truth, that most acts of terrorism in the world today are perpetrated by Islamic extremists. In contrast, the Arab world, including official media outlets in Egypt, whose content is closely controlled by the Egyptian government, have in the past not only downplayed the role of Islamic extremists, but also have almost hysterically blamed the Israel and the Jews, as well as the United States and India, not for only terrorist attacks, but also for natural disasters such as the Southeast Asian tsunami, as evidenced by this January 5, 2005 story from the Jerusalem Post.

Hedgehog Blog readers may also recall the hit song (and music video) by an Egyptian pop singer, Shaaban Abdel-Rehim, “Hitting Iraq,” which presented the invasion of Iraq as a Bush-Sharon conspiracy, and blamed the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center on Israel. Its sales apparently matched the same singer’s earlier mega hit, “I hate Israel.” Here is a favorable review of “Hitting Iraq” and “I Hate Israel” from the leading, main-stream Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, as reproduced on the official Egyptian State Information Service website! The Arab press has circulated many stories to the effect that Israel gave advanced warning of the 9/11 attacks to Jews, who all stayed home from work. The sad truth, of course, is that many, many Jews lost theirs lives on 9/11, in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon and on the hijacked planes.

My impression is that, incredibly, these ridiculous charges are not merely disinformation of the old Communist propaganda variety, but are actually believed by many of the Arabs who spread the stories, even as they make the libels up themselves. Fouad Ajami once wrote a book called The Dream Palace of the Arabs, which in part describes the hold that fantasy and paranoia have on Arab political thought. This mindset makes the struggle against Islamic extremism only that much harder.

Ralph B. Kostant

Help Me: I Don't Recall If I've Ever Been A Member of The Federalist Society

Denizens of the left-wing fever swamp are terribly upset that John Roberts does not recall whether or not he has ever been a member of the Federalist Society. Take, for example, this letter to the editor in today's Los Angeles Times, from John Schmidhauser, a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Southern California:

Roberts' responses to questions about his membership in the Federalist
Society suggest that he is a willing participant in [a deliberate effort to
thwart the constitutionally ordained advise-and-consent authority of the
Senate]. So let us take his memory loss at face value. Because the judge cannot
remember whether he joined the Federalists, a secret society considered an
absolute necessity for Republican judicial nominees, would any member of the
Senate willingly confirm a 50-year-old early victim of a degenerative mental
condition? By his own admission, Roberts is clearly not qualified to be a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hmmm. Where to begin? The Federalists are a "secret society?" Visit the Society's web site and decide for yourself whether that is so. (Hint: It is not.) What is always interesting about such statements is that people like Professor Schmidhauser, presumably an intelligent, well-educated man with much experience in critical thinking, actually believe them. A lesson for us all.

Laying aside the snide and gratuitous dig at Roberts' memory and mental condition, I will confess here and now that I do not now belong to the Federalist Society, but I do not recall whether or not I was once a member. I might have been. Like many lawyers, I have belonged to many associations over the years, some professional, some community-based, some religious, some political. I don't keep records of such things. I get a Federalist Society electronic newsletter, so I must have authorized the Society to send that to me. But I'm pretty sure I am not a member. I am not sure that I have never been a member. I am also pretty sure my mental condition is sound (although my kids may sometimes disagree with me on that assessment.)

But why does it matter? Among the purposes of the Federalist Society listed on the group's web site is the following:

The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies is a group of
conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal
order. It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve
freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our
Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary
to say what the law is, not what it should be.

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be." That sounds like a quotation from a George W. Bush campaign speech. I don't know why Professor Schmidhauser finds such ideas so nefarious, but American voters don't agree with him. They turned out in sufficient numbers to elect Bush, who campaigned on the principles for which the Federalist Society stands.

UPDATE For more information on the Federalist Society, look at this Power Line post.

Monday, July 25, 2005

John Roberts Is "Non-Plused" - Or Is He? Jonathan Turley Thinks This May Be A Huge Problem (It's Not); And Dick Durbin Gets Caught Again

I am back from vacation, where I made a valiant but doomed effort to keep up with developments.

Okay, it was actually a half-hearted effort, and all the more doomed as a result.

But no matter. With the Roberts nomination inspiring so much insipid and vacuous commentary by the judge's critics, there is no shortage of material for me to jump on. I speak of Jonathan Turley's op-ed piece in the July 25 edition of my home-town paper, the Los Angeles Times. Here's the essence of Turley's piece: In a meeting last week with Senator Dick Durbin, John Roberts was asked "what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church considers immoral." Turley reports Roberts' response:

Renowned for his unflappable style in oral argument, Roberts appeared nonplused and, according to sources in the meeting, answered after a long pause that he would probably have to recuse himself.
Turley apparently finds this reported response appalling and deeply disturbing:

Roberts briefly lifted the carefully maintained curtain over his personal views. In so doing, he raised a question that could not only undermine the White House strategy for confirmation but could raise a question of his fitness to serve as the 109th Supreme Court justice. . . . It was the first unscripted answer in the most carefully scripted nomination in history. It was also the wrong answer. In taking office, a justice takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States. A judge's personal religious views should have no role in the interpretation of the laws. . . . Roberts may have opened the door to the very questions that the White House sought to avoid with his nomination. If he would have to recuse himself before ruling contrary to his faith, the Senate is entitled to ask specifically how he would handle obvious conflicts on issues such as abortion and the death penalty.
Do the words "tempest in a teapot" come to mind? I have always admired Turley as a straight shooter, but this is disappointing. He can do much better. What Turley's piece really establishes is the out-and-out desperation of the Democrats as they search for any possible foothold for assaulting the Roberts nomination.

First of all, it looks like Turley's being used, or allowing himself to be used. Roberts' supposedly shocking statement clearly came from Durbin's office (perhaps from Durbin himself). Turley relies on "two people who attended the meeting." One wonders who they are, but it is not a great stretch to conclude they are Democrat staffers, if not senators. How confident can we be about the context or accuracy of Roberts' remarks as quoted?

Second, even if this is true, who cares? When Roberts is before the Senate, does anyone really believe he is going to testify that whenever the correct legal analysis requires a result contrary to his faith, he is going to recuse himself? Is there anything in his past writings or statements, or in any of the information available about him, suggesting that he would do so? No, there is not. And yet Turley's alarmist musings get thirteen paragraphs in the L.A. Times.

Turley concludes:

[T]he Senate is left a question that seems to grow each day: Who is John Roberts? The burden may now have shifted to the White House to fully answer this question.
Oh, please.

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt has more on this, noting that "Dick Durbin is caught telling tales." A New York Times article today reports:

A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley's account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.

But in an interview last night, Professor Turley said Mr. Durbin himself had described the conversation to him on Sunday morning, including the statement about recusal.

The Times further reports that Senator Cornyn decided to take the issue on:

Mr. Cornyn called Professor Turley's account of the discussion "troubling, if true." In his own meeting with Judge Roberts on Monday, Mr. Cornyn recounted, "I said, 'I hate to see somebody going down this road because it really smacks of a religious test for public service.' "

He added, "I said, 'I hate bringing this up, but since someone else already has and I know it is going to come up, is there anything about your faith or religious views that would prevent you from deciding issues like the death penalty of abortion or the like?' "

"Absolutely not," Mr. Cornyn recalled Judge Roberts replying.

This gets better. Dick Durbin's running as fast as he can away from Turley's piece:

Mr. Durbin declined to discuss the issue on Monday. A spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, said, "What Judge Roberts did say clearly and repeatedly was that he would follow the rule of law, and beyond that we are going to leave it to Judge Roberts to offer his views."

Well, someone is looking really, really bad here, and it is not John Roberts.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Additional Proof The The New York Times Occasionally Publishes Worthwhile Material

Costco, Where You Can Find A High-Quality Television, Great Tri-Tip, And Good Underwear Just a Few Rows Apart And At Great Prices

Three straight pieces appearing in the New York Times have been very appealing to me. Somewhat disturbed by that fact, I have also examined my thinking and decided that I am not losing my mind, even though I liked the Tom Friedman piece referred to just below and I also like this New York Times article about Costco, entitled "How Costco Became The Anti-Wal-Mart." I did have to put aside my natural skepticism about an article this positive that addresses a subject related to Wal-Mart, which has been a lefty pinata for some time now.

Viewing the matter simply as a consumer, I realized that I have been patronizing my local Costco more and more lately. Once I got over the sheer overwhelming size of the place, I found myself liking the way the Costco stores provide goods and services to customers. (Free enterprise working on me, I guess.) Reading the article educated me a great deal about Costco and its apparent place in the world of high-volume warehouse stores. For some reason I can't quite grasp, Wal-Mart has always left me feeling a little cold-- not because of the lefty attacks on it, but because . . . well, I don't know. But I like Costco and I like the approach its CEO, Jim Sinegal, takes to his customers and employees.

Why Do They Hate Us, Cont'd

Well, not because of Iraq. At least that's the convincing case made by Olivier Roy in this New York Times op-ed piece. It's too tightly-written to excerpt to any useful effect; read the whole thing. Roy generally de-bunks any notion that the islamofascists are motivated by any high-minded or even rational goal.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Muslims, Pluralism and Multiculturalism; And Tom Friedman Gets One Right-- Really Right

Refusing to Tolerate Intolerance

Perry de Havilland posts very provocatively (and correctly, I think) about the difference between pluralism (a desirable Western principle and a particularly American one, although de Havilland is apparently British) and multiculturalism (a misguided notion at best). Excerpt:

If what we are trying to defend is a pluralistic tolerant society, then we have to make sure that the message is not just "throw the wogs out!" but rather
"You are welcome here if you are willing to assimilate to a sufficient degree."

But how does one define what that 'degree' is exactly? I am not talking a Norman Tebbit style "cricket test" but rather a willingness to tolerate 'otherness'. We do not need Muslims to approve of alcohol or women in short skirts or figurative art or bells or pork or pornography or homosexuality or (particularly) apostasy. We have no right to demand that at all and obviously not all Anglicans approve of some of those things, so why require that Muslims must? No, what we do have the right to demand (and that is not too strong a word) is that they tolerate those things, which is to say they will not countenance the use of force to oppose those things even though they disapprove of them. In fact it is not just Muslims from whom we must demand such tolerance.

If we can get them to agree to tolerate those things, then it does not matter if Muslim women wear burquas because as long as they are not subject to force, a woman may elect to say "Sod this for a game of soldiers!" and cast off that symbol of misogynistic repression... and if she does not do so, well that is her choice then ... but she must have a choice. They do not have to look like us (I do not hear calls for Chinatown to be razed to the ground), they do not have to share our religion(s), or lack thereof, but they do have to tolerate our varied ways and if by their actions or words they show they do not, we have every right to regard them as our enemies and take action to defend ourselves.

Bravo! Read the whole thing.

Tom Friedman Gets One Right

I agree with Friedman about half the time. In this column I think he hits a home run. Excerpts:

[We need to do more] than just put up walls. We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others. . . .

We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Australian Prime Minister Takes Down Reporter for Silly Question

Hugh Hewitt posts this response by John Howard to a reporter who asked if the war in Iraq was bringing islamofascist attacks on London:

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my
government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on
Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its
foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use
the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies
determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government
of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place
before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation
in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden
specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement
in liberating the people of East Timor.
Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the
7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in
Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished
international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United
Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the
role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United
Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put
yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at
objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective
evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in
Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests
to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted
use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace
and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow
ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather
than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

Can you say "devastating?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The John Roberts Nomination: Required Reading

I'm on vacation so blogging will be light. This article by Jay T. Jorgensen of Sidley & Austin's Washington, D.C., office is important. E-mail it, link to it, print it out and distribute it. The upcoming confirmation hearings and the public discourse about them need to be informed by the facts and analysis in Jorgensen's article. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for this; Hugh posts the essence of the article:

"Justice Ginsburg declined to answer questions about her views on both prospective and many historical Supreme Court cases. She also declined to answer questions (or gave non-responsive answers to questions) involving a number of controversial issues, hypothetical facts, or areas in which she is not an expert."

Nothing has changed in 12 years, except that the president nominating the justice is George W. Bush and not Bill Clinton.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Latest Devastating Take-Down of Karl Rove's Opponents

Christopher Hitchens does it here in a Slate piece entitled "Rove Rage." I tried to find an excerpt to quote, but the whole piece is too tightly written to allow any brief quote that would do justice to it. Read, my friends, read!

Quote of The Week

Ken Mehlman

When he meets a Democrat, Mehlman says, he tries to find out what they have in
common and see if they can work together. "Politics ought to be about addition,
not division," he says. A Republican official said Mehlman follows the Coke
approach and Dean doesn't: "Coca Cola doesn't attract people by saying Pepsi
drinkers are intolerant and have never worked a day in their lives." In short,
Dean is abrasive. Mehlman isn't.

--Fred Barnes, in The Weekly Standard, writing about Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Al Quaeda's War On Us, So Far

This flash video is very much worth watching. It's also sobering.

Another Rove-Plame-Wilson Summary

John Tierney's New York Times op-ed asks the obvious questions and makes the obvious points. Excerpt:

The endangered spies Ms. Wilson was compared to James Bond in the early days of the scandal, but it turns out she had been working for years at C.I.A. headquarters, not exactly a deep-cover position. Since being outed, she's hardly been acting like a spy who's worried that her former contacts are in danger.

At the time her name was printed, her face was still not that familiar even to most Washington veterans, but that soon changed. When her husband received a "truth-telling" award at a Nation magazine luncheon, he wept as he told of his sorrow at his wife's loss of anonymity. Then he introduced her to the crowd.

And then, for any enemy agents who missed seeing her face at the luncheon but had an Internet connection, she posed with her husband for a photograph in Vanity Fair.
Read it all.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ralph Kostant on Sharon And The Settlement Withdrawals

The Israeli Prime Minister

In a post several weeks ago Ralph commented on Ariel Sharon and Israeli settlement withdrawal issues. That prompted this comment:

Ralph, how do you explain Ariel’s change of heart vis à vis this withdrawal? I mean, who would have thought, just a year ago, that Ariel Sharon and any grouping with the prefix "liberal" would be on the same side of any issue?

Fancis Ezeu

Ralph, ever generous with good thoughts, responds:

Fancis, I will give you 2 explanations, one charitable to Prime Minister Sharon, and one cynical:

First the charitable view: Sharon believes that the stress of governing a hostile Arab population in Gaza and the Northern Shomron is placing great stress on Israel politically and economically. Politically, it has alienated Europe and even at times put Israel at odds with its only friend in the world, the United States. It has split Israeli society. It is incredibly expensive in money and in blood. Sharon sees no meaningful negotiating partner on the other side, and does not see even the prospect of one appearing for years. Therefore, like a general (and Sharon was a general) who finds that his lines are overextended, he is conducting a tactical withdrawal that he believes will strenghten his defensive lines. He believes that this move will buy him goodwill with Europe (and he is wrong). He believes that it will unite Israeli society. (Wrong again--he is splitting Israel like never before.)

The cynical view: Two left-wing writers have published a book documenting that Sharon conceived of the withdrawal in order to avoid a criminal indictment of him and his son Omri for political corruption charges. In Israel, the courts and the Ministry of Justice, like the media, are controlled by the Labor left. By pushing withdrawal, he is gambling that the left will prefer winning the concessions to the Arabs that they advocate to destroying Sharon. Predictably, this book has relatively received little publicity inside Israel, because the main newspapers, television and radio media are controlled by the Labor left, who are backing Sharon against his own Likud party.

"Murder is murder."

Jeff Jarvis has these passionate comments on the islamofascist murders in London:

Look at it this way: Would you have tried to understand Edgar Ray Killen, the convicted Ku Klux Klan killer in the Mississippi Burning murders? Would you have explained his cultural shame at losing the Civil War and called him an insurgent or a militant or even a terrorist? Would you have blamed his grandparents for teaching him to have no respect for black people? Or would you simply condemn his hate and his act? The answer, of course, is C. So why should it be any different when condemning the crimes of these murderers?

. . .

A suicide bomber in a fuel truck blew himself up beside a Shiite mosque on Saturday evening in a town south of Baghdad, killing at least 58 people and wounding 86, the police said.

And what separates this from the bombing of a Mississippi black church?

Murder is murder.
The whole thing is a great read.

If You Don't Watch Any Other Video Today, Watch This

Power Line introduces this video clip with these words:

Before Democrats had a partisan motive to claim, contrary to all the evidence, that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and bin Laden's al Qaeda, their close and dangerous relationship was common knowledge. That common knowledge is reflected in this ABC news report, as it was in the Clinton administration's indictment of bin Laden in 1998 for, among other things, collaborating with Saddam on weapons of mass destruction.

Send the link to all your lefty friends who forgot what their representatives in the MSM were saying seven years ago.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Soldier Survives Iraqi Sniper Attack; Then Captures and Gives First Aid to The Sniper

The video at this site is amazing, fascinating, and infuriating all at the same time. The soldiers in this case captured the enemy's video of an attempt to kill a U.S. soldier, Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer of Mendon, N.Y. The voices of the terrorist snipers can he heard calling out "alluhu akhbar" (God is great) after the shot is fired. Sadly for them, Pfc. Tschiderer's body armor saved him and he was up and after the terrorists right away. They were captured and Pfc. Tschiderer gave medical attention the one that had just tried to kill him. Presumably both terrorists are now in custody, a far better fate than they wished for Tschiderer.

Watch the video. Pray for the soldiers.

Intra-Christian Discrimination?

I haven't had time to look very deep into this story, but it seems troubling:

A Christian adoption agency that receives money from Choose Life license plate fees said it does not place children with Roman Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's "Statement of Faith."

Bethany Christian Services stated the policy in a letter to a Jackson couple this month, and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.

"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany's state director Karen Stewart wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."

The story reports that the agency's Statement of Faith

describes belief in the Christian Church and the Scripture. It does not
refer to any specific branches of Christianity.

"As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world," the statement says in part. "Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another."

I suspect that Bethany's leadership does not believe Catholics meet this standard, perhaps because of Catholic doctrine regarding the role of Mary. I'm not Catholic, but I hate seeing this sort of "I'm a true Christian and you're not" activity.

Rove and Plame and Wilson: The Story Just Keeps on Getting Curiouser and Curiouser

Here's an interesting report:

Chief presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he
talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover
CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news
media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the

So Rove is supposed to have spitefully "outed" Valerie Plame, but he learned of her CIA status from . . . the news media?

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the whole Rove-Plame story seems to be falling apart. InstaPundit has the best cluster of links.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different

See how you do at this little test:

Joseph Wilson: Bald-Faced Liar; Karl Rove: Fibber? And-- What Do We Really Know About All This, Anyway?

Joe Wilson is going to be on the Today Show this morning. Professor Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy has some questions that he would like to see asked. Along the way, Lindgren provides an excellent summary of what has really happened here. This is a must-read. (HT: InstaPundit.)

Clearly Wilson is an amazing liar-- not a good one, just an audacious one. (Bill Clinton was both good and audacious.) Karl Rove, on the other hand, is looking a little like a liar too-- not like a law-breaker, necessarily, but like someone who may end up in a real bind. If Rove lied about his involvement in this silly matter, President Bush may be in a bind too. Rove is not out of the woods yet.

UPDATE: Viewing the matter in yet another light, Byron York summarizes some of the important things we don't know about the Wilson-Plame matter. This is another must-read. (HT: Power Line.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Murderers of Children

Read it all in sickening detail here. These people must be defeated-- utterly. I hope that is possible.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Illegal Immigration: What About The Employers?

Tamar Jacoby, writing in today's Los Angeles Times, advances a thesis with the ring of truth: "The truth is that beneath the bluster we're ambivalent about enforcing immigration law because we know that if we were to succeed, it could be disastrous for U.S. businesses and the American workers who depend on them."

I am not well-informed on the statistical basis for this argument, but I am convinced that many Americans believe it is true, and that immigration reform in the USA is very difficult as a result. Ms. Jacoby's piece illustrates the complexity of the illegal immigration problem and the breadth and depth of commitment that will be necessary to solve it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Steven Hayes and The Iraq-al Qaeda Connection: The Voice Crying in The Wilderness

Steven Hayes has a long piece in the latest Weekly Standard, "The Mother of All Connections," detailing the long relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's organization. The article will take some time to read, but it's full of well-supported conclusions. I hope it gains some attention from others in the news media.

One of Hayes' important obervations: The comments of Democrat politicians and old media news analysts and anchors, claiming no relationship between Hussein and al-Qaeda, "reveal far more about politics in America than they do about the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship."

Sure enough.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"War of The Worlds"

Debra Saunders thinks Steven Spielberg's latest movie is anti-war. It might be; I thought it was simply dumb.

The movie's star is its special effects. There is not much of a story at all: Earth is invaded by aliens, whose motives are not terribly clear. The only thing that is clear about these invaders is that they are ruthless. There is much spectacular destruction and death, and human resistance is futile. In the end the aliens are thwarted not by any act of humankind, but simply because the nasty critters, who have no resistance to earthly pathogens,
become ill and die. The common cold, not the human spirit, saves the world.

In other words, the effects are dazzling but the movie is not very interesting.

It might have been worth watching if the characters themselves had been interesting or even sympathetic; but we don't get to know the characters in the movie well enough to like them. Even if we had been given a chance to know these people, they don't develop at all. Cruise's character is mainly a jerk whose life seems out of control and who spends the entire movie running away, terrified, from the alien invaders. Dakota Fanning is cute but spends the movie simply terrified. The young actor who plays Cruise's son, who justifiably does not like his dad, is stuck with a role in which he is simply an impetuous adolescent. There was a chance that we might have found the father-son conflict interesting, or the reasons for the young man's seeming impulsiveness intriguing; but we can't hear any of the dialogue over the noise of the special effects.

Oh, well. Not a good movie-going experience. Maybe "Fantastic 4" will be better.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Are The Brits Tough? You Bet They Are!

Go here to get a sense of the stiff spines of our British cousins. (HT to Hugh Hewitt.)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Al Franken Explains It All for You

Here is Ralph Kostant's latest contribution to this ever-grateful blog:

From the Al Franken/Thomas Oliphant exchange on Al Franken'’s Air America radio program this morning (7/7/2005):

Franken: This is where I am going to disagree with you, because this seems to be your thrust about what happened today. And I think that, and I buy this, and maybe I am naive, that you gotta bat 1,000 and they just got to bat 1. You know, and I don't know what's been stopped and I don't know any way we can know what's been stopped. We don't know. We had Jane Mayer on talking about the abuse at Gitmo, and there's no way to know because they are so secretive, this is the most secretive administration, we don't know, they say, they've saved American lives from their interrogations there. We don't know that. We don't know if it has cost us in terms of getting information, because it is the wrong way to get information.

Oliphant: That's right, and because of Congress now we have no way to really rigorously oversee what the intelligence community does so we can come to an evaluation about its effectiveness.

Franken actually was making sense, for two or three sentences, until he started in on Gitmo. Then he and Oliphant prescribe just what we need to make our country'’s intelligence effort against Islamic militants more effective: —to have the likes of Franken and Oliphant "“rigorously oversee"” the "“so secretive"” intelligence community on Air America Radio! As for Congress, it was the Church Committee'’s hearings in the 1970s, and the resulting legislation restricting CIA activities, and inserting firewalls between the CIA, the FBI and military intelligence, that contributed to our lack of preparedness against Al Qeda, and the vulnerability that permitted the 9/11 attack. God save us from the reformers!

Ralph B. Kostant

Hugh Hewitt Hitting Hard

. . . and he's hitting the nail on the head:

Here's what the left seems utterly incapable of grasping:

*There have been jihadists attacking the West since 1993.

*If the London cell had had WMD, they would have used them.

*WMD are being produced by regimes around the world that hate the United States, Great Britain and the west.

*Eventually those regimes will arm cells with WMD unless we either (a)destroy the cells before they get the WMD, (b)destroy the regimes that produce WMD, or (c) do both (a) and (b).

We cannot be making it "worse" by killing terrorists in Iraq, disarming Libya, rolling Syria back from Lebanon, and pursuing Islamist fanatics wherever we find them.

We made it "worse" by doing nothing from 1993 until 9/11.

There is no other way, and any fool who says there is is simply that, a fool. Worse, a dangerous fool.

You need to read Hugh's entire post.

We Stand with Great Britain Today

From Tim Worstall, a U.K. blogger

I have little time for blogging right now, but Tim Worstall's site will get you in to various updates and first-hand accounts. InstaPundit, as usual, has a great list of links.

A few questions come to mind:

Will any -- any-- prominent Muslim cleric show, in response to this atrocity, even a glimmer of the outrage that we saw over the reported mishandling of a Koran?

Will any of those protesting at the G8 summit protest this latest slaughter of innocents?

Will the American left be able to restrain itself from blaming America for these attacks?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Winds of Change: Go Here for Global War on Terror News

There is too much here at Winds of Change to summarize in a way that does the blog justice. If you're interested in the GWOT, Winds of Change is a daily must-visit site. You won't get concentrated quality and variety like this anywhere in the legacy media.

Cutting to The Chase on The Supreme Court Nomination

Byron York is a smart Capitol Hill reporter who is consistently right about the goings-on there. Today his piece in The Hill is dead-on as to what we can expect from the Democrats in the upcoming hearings. York predicts the Dems

"will throw out the window the manner in which, for example, Bill Clinton’s two picks for the Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, were confirmed. But who cares? Ideology matters — above all else."

Live8, Africa, and The Root of The Problem

Do you find yourself vaguely admiring Live8 for its noble goals, yet wondering what the effort is all about and whether it will make any difference?

Niall Ferguson, a Harvard professor, has a piece in today's L.A. Times entitled Dickens Knew That Geldof Doesn't. I'm a huge Dickens fan and so Ferguson's headline caught my eye. Excerpt:
It may come as a surprise to Live 8 fans, but the top three reasons why most African countries are economic basket cases are not lack of aid, excessive debt service payments and protectionism by developed countries. The real culprits are chronic misgovernment, recurrent civil war and the high incidence of diseases such as malaria and AIDS.
It's a compelling piece. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Declaration of Independence

Every July 4 (and sometimes in between) every American should read the Declaration of Independence. It's available in many places on the Internet; here's a good, readable reproduction.

I've always gotten a kick out of knowing that on July 4th, 1776, George III, king of England, wrote in his diary, '"Nothing of importance happened today.'"

Meanwhile, the Founders were signing their names beneath these words:

. . . And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Still gives me goosebumps. How about you?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Did You See Or Hear Anything about This Poll? I Didn't Either . . . .

Thanks to Ed Morissey we now know that GWB apparently persuaded a lot of people in his speech Tuesday night. NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN must have somehow missed this.

What is most interesting to me about the poll is that most of the 23 million people who watched the speech (an all-time low for a presidential TV speech) were Bush supporters. It seems that what the President accomplished was to reassure his base, which may have been eroding on the Iraq issue. That's not everything one would have hoped to accomplish, but I'll take that half of the loaf.

Supreme Court Nomination Watch

Over the next few days I'll post links to interesting and seemingly reliable information about the impending G.W. Bush Supreme Court nomination. Here they are:

ConfirmThem seems to have some sources. Watch that site!

Emilio Garza seems to be a front-runner. Here's biographical information about him, and more is here.

bios of other leading candidates here.

provides good commentary and informed speculation on what might be happening.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt suggests what we should expect:

[T]his is going to be very ugly because the left will commit itself to winning at any cost, and if it takes a dozen Melody Townsels peddling two dozen slanders each, then that is what they will try.

Read his entire post; it'll help you gird for the battle.