Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina: Health and Human Services Stepping Up

According to industry sources, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt held a conference call this afternoon with the hospital community. The call was organized by hospital associations, including the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Hospital Association.

HHS is organizing a number of medical shelters, the purpose of which will be to provide care to patients evacuated from hurricane-damaged areas. They hope to have 10 shelters established by the end of this week. The shelters will care for less severely ill patients while sicker patients will be evacuated to available hospital beds throughout the country. The Secretary and his staff indicated that HHS has developed a plan for staffing the medical shelters that will require at least 100 individuals to staff each of the 250-bed shelters. Secretary Leavitt is asking the nation’s hospitals to consider volunteering a team of health care workers from their hospitals to help staff the shelters for at least a two-week period. HHS staff indicated that they will be following up shortly with each hospital association with details about their staffing request. They have asked each hospital association, in turn, to share this information with their members, and to coordinate their members’ responses for the department. There are several regulatory issues to be resolved. This still developing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Katrina Relief Opportunity You May Not Have Heard About

Loading disaster relief supplies in A Humanitarian Services warehouse
(Thanks to A Soft Answer for the photo)

You can go here to give immediate, reliable help to Katrina victims:

LDS Church Humanitarian Services

I've been buried at work and so have not been tuned into Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophe it has inflicted on New Orleans and Louisiana. This evening, while returning from a grocery store run, I began hearing the news reports. One story tugged hard at my heart-strings as I contemplated climbing into my soft, dry bed: 30,000 people-- men, women, children, and babies-- are all stuck in the Superdome with no air conditioning, no plumbing, and nowhere to go. I was shaken out of my complacency.

A Place To Express Your Desire to Help

Hugh Hewitt and InstaPundit, among others, are masterfully leading the blogosphere's effort to stimulate and organize support for the relief effort. I have one suggestion you may not have heard about: LDS Church Humanitarian Services, administered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the LDS or "Mormon" Church).

Regular readers here have figured out that I am a member of that very LDS Church, but I have no parochial motives: I am suggesting Humanitarian Services only because it is a proven distributor of solid help to those in need. The Church certainly knows how to do disaster relief, as evidenced by this story. For example, in late 2004 and early 2005 Humanitarian Services flew seventy (70) tons of medical supplies, hygiene kits, clothing and shoes to Indonesia to aid tsunami disaster victims in a partnership effort by Islamic Relief Worldwide and the LDS Church. More than simply shipping the materials to Indonesia, Humanitarian Services had people on the ground making sure the supplies actually got to the people who needed them. Other examples of the many years of Humanitarian Services disaster relief efforts are here, here, here, and here. This is something the Church has done almost automatically for many years.

How Can You Donate? And Why To This Organization?

If you go to the Humanitarian Services web site, you will see that with the click of a button (on the upper left of the page) you can donate. One hundred percent of what you donate will go to the victims; there is no overhead deducted. Any people involved in the delivery of the relief materials will either be volunteers or will be compensated separately. And they will be there in Louisiana long after the immediate relief effort is over.

Members and friends of the Church may continue to make donations online at,7133,1325-1-9--cWELFAREPOSTER,00.html or by mailing them to: Humanitarian Aid Fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 (or call 801-240-3544).

Is The Katrina Effort Underway Already?

It sure is. As reported on the Church's web site, materials are already being shipped to New Orleans through the Church's network of "bishop's storehouses," which are located throughout the United States:

The Church is responding quickly to member and community needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A significant amount of emergency response supplies was ready in bishops' storehouses across the southeast. The Slidell Louisiana Welfare Bishops' Storehouse was not impaired by the storm and is able to meet local needs. Additional trucks with commodities and supplies from the bishops' storehouse in Salt Lake City have been dispatched and two welfare committee members are in the disaster area to help with the distribution of supplies.
I hope this helps. There are so many ways to give; Humanitarian Services is just one more.

UPDATE: Here's a brief but interesting report on the early progress of some of the first Humanitarian Services workers reaching the disaster area. Also, A Soft Answer provides a little more detail.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Global Fund to Fight Aids: Is Yet Another Blogger Bringing An Important Moral/Financial Scandal to Light?

Cheat Seeking Missiles has uncovered a story that I hope has legs: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS is penalizing a demonstrably successful African AIDS program because it emphasizes abstinence. The analysis by this fine blog's author, Laer Pearce, is thorough and professional, and raises some very interesting questions.

What's The Issue?

Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

A review of 122 news releases issued by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria dating back to the beginning of that organization in 2001 reveals that no country except Uganda has had its grant funds suspended due to concerns about financial mismanagement -- even though the fund gives money to a rogue's gallery of corrupt governments. . . .

The cuts follow sharp criticism of Uganda's program -- not because it is failing; it is one of Africa's most successful -- but because it puts morality (monogamy and abstinence) first and condoms second.

No other country has ever been sanctioned by Global Fund in this manner for financial mismanagement.
The AP story Laer cites contains this interesting tidbit:

[T]he head of the AIDS control project in the Ugandan Anglican church, the Rev. Sam Rutaikara, said that he has seen some success with the abstinence message among young people.

"Abstinence has pushed the age of the first sexual contact to 17.5 years for boys and 16.5 for girls from an average of 13," he said.

One wonders how many other countries receiving Global Fund assistance can boast of such success. Acording to the CIA World Factbook, Uganda is 66% Christian.

I wanted to know more about Uganda's government before taking a strong position on this. The Factbook does not paint a pretty picture, but the profile of the place looks about the same as a dozen other African countries. AIDS is a huge problem for Uganda. The Factbook states:

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)
It is telling that only 2.2% of Uganda's population survives beyond the age of 65.

If you are squeamish about expressing concern over Uganda because of its government, keep in mind that The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe are also Global Fund grant recipients. The Congo looks terrible in the CIA Factbook. (In 2003 I was involved in helping a Congolese Assemblies of God minister receive asylum in the U.S. He and his family had been the victim of horrific torture at the hands of the government there.) Zimbabwe, of course, has been a poster child for governmental reform for a decade now.

Uganda's relative merits as a nation aside, from what Laer has exposed it seems that the Global Fund's action says this: If you are a corrupt government and manage our funds in a questionable manner, we'll let that go; but your administration of our funds had better not smack of Christian theology, or we'll cut you off!

I hope Hugh Hewitt, InstaPundit, and other big blogs pick up Laer's story. It would be great to see some spotlights shining on the Global Fund's decision.

UPDATE: The Story Gets Noticed

Hugh has picked up the story and linked to Laer and to us. Thanks, Hugh!

UPDATE 2: The U.N. Pops Its Head Up, With A Predictable Silly Position

According to Reuters via, the United Nations weighed in today:

The U.S. government's emphasis on abstinence-only programs to prevent AIDS is hobbling Africa's battle against the pandemic by downplaying the role of condoms, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.
Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said fundamentalist Christian ideology was driving Washington's AIDS assistance program known as PEPFAR with disastrous results, including condom shortages in Uganda.
Okay, I am ready to be convinced. What are the "disastrous results" to which Lewis refers? A few paragraphs later the Reuters story notes that "Uganda had been praised for cutting HIV infection rates to around 6 percent today from 30 percent in the early 1990s, a rare success story in Africa's battle against the disease."

This is apparently not good enough for Mr. Lewis, who says, "I think the administration and PEPFAR [the Washington AIDS assistance program] have to come to their senses ... to impose dogmatic policies is doing great damage to Africa."

Is he really worried about damage to Africa, or about damage to the conventional wisdom on how best to fight AIDS?

UPDATE 3: Scholarly Review of Uganda's Success

Thanks to commenter mightcan, we know about, which describes itself as "an international HIV and AIDS charity based in the UK, with the aim of AVERTing HIV and AIDS worldwide." The Avert web site offers a scholarly, well-documented discussion entitled "Why is Uganda interesting?" Here's the introduction:

Uganda is one of the few African countries where HIV prevalence rates have declined, and it is seen as a rare example of success in a continent facing a severe AIDS crisis. Uganda's policies are credited with having brought the HIV prevalence rate down from around 15% in the early 1990s to 5% in 2001. At the end of 2003, the government and the UN say that only 4.1% of adults had the virus. The country is seen as having implemented a well-timed and successful public education campaign.1

More and more money is being channelled into Africa, especially by the US which has pledged $15 billion to fight AIDS in resource-poor countries. Uganda is lucky enough to be one of the countries on President Bush's list and many other countries are being urged to follow its example.

But the results seen in Uganda don't have a simple recipe, and with so many lives and such large sums of money at stake, it is important to look carefully at what has been done there.

Uganda, as we now know, is the most successful African country by far in combating AIDS. It is also the country whose funding The Global Fund to Fight Aids has cut off because of Uganda's excessive emphasis on abstinence. Can someone please explain this?

Today, Gaza; Tomorrow, Everything Else The Palestinians Want?

Ralph Kostant is back at his keyboard:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon actually believed that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and Northern Samaria would buy Israel goodwill with the European Union, that illusion should be largely dispelled by now. In an appearing this weekend in Al Quds, an Arabic language newspaper published in Jerusalem (as reported here by the Arutz Sheva newsservice), the European Union’s Middle East Envoy, Mark Otte, stated that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and Northern Samaria is viewed by the European Union as a model for the West Bank and Jerusalem. According to Arutz Sheva:

"Our position regarding the West Bank and east Jerusalem is identical - they are occupied territories, and the future of Jerusalem will also be discussed in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," Mr. Otte told Al-Quds, a Jerusalem-based Arabic-language newspaper.

Otte dismissed statements by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Israel will retain large blocs of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria in any permanent arrangement with the Palestinian Authority [PA]. Such commitments, the European Union envoy asserted, are nothing more than "spin" intended for internal Israeli consumption.

The EU also does not take seriously Israel's demand that the PA fulfill its commitments to disarm Arab terrorist groups. According to the Al-Quds interview, Mr. Otte said the EU does not demand that the PA confront terrorist groups militarily, or that the PA initiate a civil war in order to carry out its obligations.

In June, Mr. Otte defended European Union contacts with Hamas representatives, despite the organization being listed as a terrorist organization in EU countries, by saying that "if they are duly elected in free and fair elections under international supervision, you have to know what to do with elected representatives."
So there we have it: The Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, and all the more so the Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem are, in the eyes of the European Union, no less illegally occupied territory than Gaza. Israel must return to its pre-June 1967 borders with a width, at its narrowest point, of only 7 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinian Authority need not disarm terrorist militias [even though that is an obligation of the PA under the so-called Road Map to Middle East Peace] and Hamas is a legitimate representative of the Palestinians for European diplomatic purposes. Apparently the only binding obligation in the Road Map, in the opinion of the European Union, is that Israel give up territory, to the detriment of its security.

Ralph B. Kostant

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Greatest Political Movie Line Ever

Thanks to Brutally Honest, you can see it spoken. It's from a 1940 film starring Bob Hope called "The Ghost Breakers," and it will make your day. (The movie's also available at

Hugh Hewitt on The New And Old Media

Our blogfather has an unusually long and terribly worthwhle essay today on Tim Rutten's L.A. Times piece today, the New Yorker piece on Hugh, and related subjects. Pour yourself a cold drink, find an easy chair, and read the whole thing along with all the linked articles. (Note: Looks like if you want to read the New Yorker piece you'll have to break down and buy the magazine. The piece on Hugh is called "Right Hook: Going after the liberal media.")

The Question About Cindy Sheehan That I've Been Wanting To Ask; And Some Facts About Her Hero Son

Has anyone else noticed that when she talks, she sounds like she is about 17? And it's not just her vacuous-sounding inflection, it's the vocabulary and sentence structure.

"It was really amazing when I got back and saw everyone. I mean, it was really just so overwhelming."
I do not mean to mock Ms. Sheehan, but it is unsettling to hear a woman in her early 50's talk that way. It makes the attention she is getting all the more wondrous.

Rather than blast Ms. Sheehan, I think more Americans should know about who Casey Sheehan was. Start here. Even better, see what Blackfive posted a few days ago about Army Specialist Sheehan. He clearly was no ordinary young man, and he died a heroic death that we should all revere and honor.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Giving New Meaning to the Term "Riveting:" Michael Yon's Online Magazine

There's just no describing this one, folks. Find some time (you'll need 15 minutes) to read this account from Michael Yon's Online Magazine. If you still need convincing that the blogosphere is an entirely different (and indispensable) source of information, this post ought to do that for you. The photos alone are almost unbelieveable. (HT: InstaPundit.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Power Line: "Some Thoughts on Casualties in Times of War and Peace"

John Hinderaker (that's pronounced hinder-rocker) of Power Line posted last evening Some Thoughts on Casualties in Times of War and Peace, which Rush Limbaugh apparently read from on his show today (transcript here).

John's post is an absolute must-read for anyone who cares about the war in Iraq.

You can't fully appreciate the post unless you read the entire thing. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:

The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.

That's right: all through the years when hardly anyone was paying attention, soldiers, sailors and Marines were dying in accidents, training and otherwise, at nearly twice the rate of combat deaths in Iraq from the start of the war in 2003 to the present. Somehow, though, when there was no political hay to be made, I don't recall any great outcry, or gleeful reporting, or erecting of crosses in the President's home town. In fact, I'll offer a free six-pack to the first person who can find evidence that any liberal expressed concern--any concern--about the 18,006 American service members who died accidentally in service of their country from 1983 to 1996.

Read away. And tell everyone you know about it!

Consitutions, American and Iraqi

The irrepressible Hugh Hewitt has an interview with law professor John Eastman about the travails of the American Constitution's birth and its parallels to the Iraqi constitutional effort. It's a fine, short history lesson and reminder of how difficult such projects are.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Future Comes to Gaza

Mike Smith, in the Las Vegas Sun.

Quote of The Day; And What Do You Think?

"That's my job. I'm a newsman. That's what I try to do, is make news. And you try to avoid news. That's your job."

--CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, to former president Bill Clinton. Clinton said Blitzer tried to get him to make news by saying the Iraq war was a mistake.

Well, on this one I am on the side of the former president. Is it really a newsman's job to make news? Or to report it? Or am I just hopelessly old-fashioned? Anyway, I actually like Wolf Blitzer and think he's pretty fair. It is somewhat refreshing to see one of the MSM "stars" candidly admit that he is trying to goad a public figure into saying something newsworthy.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vote in Patrick Ruffini's Straw Poll

It's worth the 2 minutes it takes to vote. Go here.

In Which I "Adopt A Box of Docs:" A Review of John Roberts Documents Box 17-5

Most readers of this blog know of Hugh Hewitt's "Adopt A Box of Docs" initiative. I work in the health care industry, so a "box of docs" makes me think of a small health clinic run by a group of doctors. What Hugh has in mind is something much different: A blogospheric review of the contents of 136 boxes documents released by the Reagan Library from John Roberts' White House years. On Friday the New York Times published the links to those boxes' contents online, and Hugh and Radioblogger assigned them out to bloggers to review them for whatever we found interesting.

I was assigned one of the last three boxes available. Here's what I found:


Well, not exactly nothing. Roberts did get a routine short transmittal memo from Roger Clegg, then Associate Deputy Attorney General, who added a p.s.:

"Cathy Anderson says you are even cuter than Ted Olson."

Hmmm. I'm not sure where the Democrats can take this one, but it does show just a little glimmer of personality and playful internal banter among a pile of otherwise pretty dry stuff.

The remainder of the box is all "FYI" material for Roberts, much of it from Clegg:

  • Copies of press releases;
  • Background material on Cold War-era concerns raised by American citizens of Baltic origin who claimed they were being investigated by the Office of Special Investigations ("OSI")based on information obtained from the KGB (the OSI is the Justice Department unit assigned to find WWII war criminals hiding in the USA);
  • One page of fragmentary handwritten notes, apparently by Roberts, that refer to a status report from Clegg about matters that seem very mundane.

Oh, well. I'll have to wait for another chance at investigative fame.

The Minutemen

In this long piece in the Weekly Standard, Matt Labash tells the story of the Minutemen. It's a must-read if you want to understand the depth of feeling among ordinary Americans about our porous southern border. It's also elightening about the scope and nature of the problem.

Sadly, I have serious doubts as to whether President Bush is really committed to taking the border issue seriously. I frankly do not understand this. If the White House is concerned about alienating the Hispanic vote, I think they need to see that illegal immigration can be addressed in a way that supports the rule of law fully and does not come across as inhumane. If he handled the issue right, I think he'd actually gain support among Hispanics without losing it from his base (except for the most extreme "deport every illegal immigrant immediately" crowd).

(HT: RealClearPolitics.)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Soldiers' Angels

I've posted before about Soldiers' Angels. So has Hugh Hewitt. If you don't know about them yet, this Washington Post article will tell you an awful lot.

It's good to be reminded of the goodness of so many American people.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Will The Democrats Outflank The Republicans on Illegal Immigration? Not Necessarily.

As many have predicted, Democrats are finally attempting to exploit the perceived failure of the Bush Administration to enforce the country's southern borders. Even so, the White House and its Republican allies can still make good policy on this issue and turn it to their advantage. (If they can't do that, even with control of both houses of Congress, they are going to look very bad. This is the kind of issue that, if mishandled, can lose the Republicans enough seats, and enough internal party unity, to seriously harm their ability to govern.)

The Democrats Find An Issue; The L.A. Times Helps Them Out

Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Janet Napolitano of Arizona, Democrat governors both, recently attracted great attention when they declared states of emergency along their states' borders with Mexico. Lo and behold, suddenly the unrestricted flow of illegals into the USA attracts the attention of my agenda-driven hometown newspaper, the L.A. Times. Today's edition carries on the editorial page two prominent editorials by -- guess who?-- Richardson and Napolitano-- referring t0 "the border emergencies," complete with large photos of both governors and big headlines.

Here's the key language from Richardson's piece. Keep in mind he's a Democrat presidential dark horse for 2008, and an oft-mentioned vice presidential possibility as well:

Border security and immigration issues are clearly a federal responsibility. And those of us from border states have continuously urged the federal government to increase funding, expand patrols and dedicate more resources for border security. Yet our pleas have been met mostly by inaction. . . .

Legislation signed by President Bush last fall called for 2,000 more border agents, yet his own budget proposal this year funded only 210 additional agents.
Janet Napolitano sounds a similar theme:

Our state accounts for about half of all illegal immigrant apprehensions in the country. Many of the human traffickers have little regard for their "customers."

Enough is enough. States must now do what they can where the federal government won't.

. . .

I hope the state of emergency declaration draws Washington's attention. Arizonans have paid dearly, and we have waited long enough.
If these op-ed pieces had been Cruise missiles, the West Wing of the White House would be a smoking crater right now.

The Times, acting in its role as the Democrats megaphone, applauded both actions in an unsigned editorial Friday. Note the helpful manner in which the Times positions each governor on the issue:

Both governors have an excellent record on immigration issues. Napolitano was one of the first governors to call for a guest-worker program, and under Richardson, New Mexico is one of the few states where immigrants can apply for a driver's license without showing proof of legal residency.
In other words, the Times says, these guys have it right: Toughen up the border and allow those already here to stay.

What is happening is what many conservatives have feared: The Bush Administration is being out-flanked on the issue of enforcing the border. Putting it another way, the Democrats are hijacking the issue.

What To Do?

First of all, I think Republicans should admit that their dithering on this issue has given Democrats this opening. Bush announced some guiding principles for immigration reform, detailed here, but there has not been much action. There are at least two bills (McCain-Kennedy and Cornyn-Kyl) pending in the Senate, but no action seems imminent. Into that seeming vacuum have rushed these two Democrat governors.

The political pitfalls facing Bush on this issue are complex. He has to be seen as taking action, but cannot afford to come across as anti-Hispanic or even anti-immigrant. That's a difficult tighrope to walk when you're cracking down on illegal immigration by a group composed 95% of poor Hispanics from Latin America. Anyone who disagrees needs to study the history of Proposition 187 in California and what happened to Governor Pete Wilson and our State's GOP when they agggressively campaigned on that measure, which passed but was later struck down by the courts.

Even so, there is opportunity here, if the Republicans will seize it. In some ways this issue reminds me of the notion that "only Nixon could go to China." Arguably, only Democrats could take a tough position on border enforcement and get away with it. If Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Rick Perry of Texas had been the first to declare a state of emergency on their borders, do you think the L.A. Times or other left-leaning MSM outlets would have been so laudatory?

So where's the opportunity? Right here: The two Democrat governors have now legitimized calls for tougher border enforcement. The GOP now has political cover for that approach to the issue. With just a little deftness some sustained effort, the Republicans can hijack the issue right back. Call it taking a page from Bill Clinton's book: He was a master at co-opting Republican positions. (Example: welfare reform in the 90's).

All the GOP has to do is this: Say, "Yes, we must enforce the borders, just as Governors Napolitano and Richardson are urging; and we must deal with those illegals who are already here by (1) finding out who and where they are, (2) deporting the criminals and other undesirables among them, and (3) figuring out how to regularize the rest who are here in a way that does not create an incentive for further illegal entries."

The Democrats' Inescapable Vulnerability on Illegal Immigration

Auspicious as this latest Democrat foray may be, their hypocrisy is easy to expose, and they will have a very difficult time riding the immigration horse to victory. Mark Krikorian sums the Dems' problem up well in this National Review Online piece. Excerpt:

Prominent Democrats have recently taken to striking pro-enforcement poses on immigration. They see the gap between the president's stance and that of the overwhelming majority of the Republican base, and they want to peel off enough of those voters — or just induce them to stay home — to overcome the GOP's narrow majorities in the past few elections. . . .

The southwestern governors, for their part, have taken every opportunity to facilitate illegal immigration; Richardson recently approved a bill to provide illegal aliens with in-state tuition at New Mexico state colleges, while Napolitano earlier his year vetoed a bill reaffirming the authority of state and local cops to enforce immigration law. . . .

[T]he ACLU . . . refused an open-and-shut free speech case in New York City — because it was about limiting immigration. In 1999, an immigration-control group named Project USA started putting up billboards in New York with pictures of two children with the inoffensive (and accurate) caption, "Immigration is doubling US population in our lifetimes," citing the Census Bureau as the source. City officials threatened the billboard companies with financial retaliation if they weren't taken down immediately, and the companies caved. One staff attorney told Project USA privately that the ACLU couldn't take such an obvious free-speech case because "there is a large and growing immigrants' rights faction within the organization."
Read the whole thing; Krikorian gives many other concrete examples of how impossible it is for the Democrats to get out of the corner they've painted themselves into; they're simply stuck with their commitment to unrestrained ilegal immigration. Here's Krikorian's zinger:
Talk is cheap, especially when it comes to immigration control. But the immutable value [that the Democrats attach to] open immigration means the Democratic establishment is literally incapable of following through on rhetoric about tightening the border. This is obviously bad for Democrats, given public sentiment. It's also bad for Republicans, since they face no real competition on the issue. And that's bad for the republic.
All the GOP has to do is pick up the gauntlet the Democrats have so fecklessly thrown down. We can do something with it; they can't.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The News Media Gatekeepers Are Losing Their Keys, And The Gates Are Unlocked

This is fun to read, primarily because everyone-- even the MSM old guard-- knows it's true. Here's a teaser:

The agony evidenced on the part of the writer that MSM is no longer the gatekeeper, portal, and arbiter of what is news is delicious.

It's by Bill Quick. Read it. (HT: InstaPundit.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Powerful Smack-Down To Cindy Sheehan's Handlers

Read this op-ed by Ronald R. Griffin, who is "the father of Spc. Kyle Andrew Griffin, a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star, who was killed in a truck accident on a road between Mosul and Tikrit on May 30, 2003." The title is "She Does Not Speak for Me." Need I say more?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Conservative Talk Radio Show Hosts: A Review

The nature of my work, not to mention living in Southern California, has me in my car and on the road a lot. As a result I end up listening to most of the best-known talk radio hosts during any given week. Over time I've developed a feel for each of them; here is my admittedly subjective and very biased talk radio review. I'll address the shows in the order they are broadcast here in Los Angeles.

Bill Bennett's Morning In America. This one comes on very early, ending at 6:00 a.m. here, but when I am out for an early run or heading to an early meeting or airplane I listen with pleasure. Bennett is a gentle, thoughtful host, no matter whether his callers are brilliant analysts, "wing nuts" from either side of the spectrum, or are simply not very well-informed. A great program with insightful, leading commentary on the great issues of our time; I wish I could listen more.

Laura Ingraham. I listen to Laura almost every day, since she's on when I am either running in the morning or driving to work. I wish I could be completely positive but I cannot. I love her tough, positive attitude and am especially taken with her courage in her battle against cancer. As Laura herself would say, however, there's a "But Monkey" here: Laura wears on me. She just a little hard-edged. Rather than the gentle persuasion of a Bill Bennett, she's more of a jackhammer. She is contemptuous of, and unnecessarily rude to, callers with whom she disagrees. Her delivery is angry much of the time. She usually seems unwilling to consider points of view opposed to hers, or even slightly at odds with hers. Maybe I simply listen to her too much and need to take her in smaller doses.

Despite all that, I do listen to Laura every day, so there's something to her slogan about being a "healthy radio addiction." (I do switch to other stations several times during each Laura show, usually when she goes off on a rant about one of her pet subjects. She's especially tiresome on illegal immigration. Guess what? She's ferociously opposed to it!)

Dennis Prager. A fine and unusual show. There is no ranting here and Dennis is a gentleman to all. I enjoy the moral content of his show. Now and then Dennis's self-assured and carefully considered views come across as a little egotistical, sanctimonius, or both; and I don't think Dennis believes the State of Israel can do anything wrong. When Dennis gets to be too much, I switch to Rush Limbaugh. Rush is an institution, of course, and often has interesting things to say, but he's half entertainer and half commentator. The jaunty cigar-smoker schtick wears thin very quickly. Even so, because of who and what he has become, his views on politics are important and almost always interesting. I still need to take Rush in regulated doses!

Michael Medved. I'll usually flip back and forth between Medved and Sean Hannity, who are on at the same time here. Medved's world view is great, he can be profound, and I love his family-oriented values. I understand he is an Orthodox Jew, which makes me feel all the more affection for him and his religious commitment; he and I share a lot of common ground. I do occasionally tire of Medved's constant ringing defenses of Israel. (The fact is, I am a huge supporter of Israel; I simply tire of hearing about the unqualified perfection of Israel's position on every imaginable issue.) Medved's movie reviews are almost always spot-on as well.

Hannity often has great interviews and can be entertaining. There's not much depth to his show, however. We'll just leave it at that.

Hugh Hewitt. Simply the best. Smart, witty, patient, kind, energetic. A fine example of center-right thinking and a real leader in that movement. An exemplary and unabashed Christian as well. More focused on ideas and getting them implemented than on pure entertainment, which seems to be the focus of some other talk radio hosts. I could go on and on about my blogfather Hugh. I simply love his show and would listen to all three hours if I could, but I'm usually working when he's on.

Oh, man! Do I sound like a fan, or what? I guess I'd better add some balance. Let's see, once Hugh got carried away joking with Duane his producer about softball. And once or twice he has sounded a bit partisan. Such tiny peccadillos aside, I wish we had more like Hugh Hewitt.

Michael Savage. I can barely stand to listen to him. Now and then, when in the right mood, I can take him in tiny doses. It's just too much yelling, bombast, anger, venom, contempt, and ridicule for me. Savage gives conservatives a bad name. Frankly, I'd rather listen to NPR.

Northern Alliance Radio Network, accessible through Power Line. This one perhaps should not count because it is a Saturday afternoon show only, but if you happen to be on-line at that time, it is a fine place to hear witty, intelligent, and informative commentary.

Okay, those are my reviews. What do you think?

Legislative Redistricting in California

My blogging has been light due to a severe and sudden attack of employment. During my absence you may have noticed that the California Supreme Court rejected a transparently political Democrat court challenge and ruled that Proposition 77, Governor Schwarzenegger's redistricting initiative, may remain on the ballot. The Wall Street Journal comments here.

Syndicated columnist Jill Stewart is in favor of the initiative, and paints a picture that any honest observer of the California Legislature will recognize immediately:

Most people imagine that when they vote, they do so in a real community based largely on geography -- a 'voting district.' That was true once. But now, the legislature uses computer programs to painstakingly divide voters by party -- not community. Without their knowledge, Republican and Democrat are separated into bizarrely shaped 'districts' so overpopulated with one party that our two-party system is effectively quashed. Think 'The Matrix.' You're force-fed to support a creepy apparatus that wants to control your world. You don't even know it. California voters don't know they're corralled in fake 'districts' and force-fed pre-selected party hacks. The insiders who do know -- the media, the think tanks, the supposed 'civic' groups -- prefer to keep the debate among insiders only. It's such trouble to involve the public.
As someone who has worked on a number of legislative matters in the California Legislature, I can verify that it is a zoo up there in Sacramento. For one thing, the districts are drawn so that seats never change hands. In Californa, if you want to be in the Legislature, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat all you need to do is get nominated, and then you're in your seat for as long as term limits allow. But that's not all. The political makeup of each district is such that generally, only very liberal or very conservative candidates can be elected. So we have a permanent majority of hard-core liberal Democrats doing battle with a permanent minority of hard-core conservative Republicans. Is it any wonder that such ridiculous policy emanates from that place?

The resulting process is ugly. As a general rule, in our legislature policy is not made, it is brokered. Here's how it works: Lobbyists for interest groups who have a stake in an issue write the bills. Often the lobbyists and their clients agree on the legislation, then take the product to a legislative sponsor. Once the sponsor is certain that the bill, as written, has the support of the right interest groups (meaning the ones that donate substantially to him or her) , Legislative Counsel polishes the language, the bill is introduced, and it is voted into law. Depressing, but true.

The old saw is that "lovers of law and sausage should never know how either one is made." True enough. But in California we'd like to at least have something to say about who is making them. Prop 77 would at least give us a chance.

UPDATE: Blogotional share a personal insight, telling us how gerrymandering in California affects him.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dick Durbin, Please Call Your Office

Jonathan Turley has decided to, well, shine a spotlight on Senator Durbin, who, well, is running hard for cover. Michelle Malkin has the best round-up I've seen yet. What Durbin tried to pull off, ham-handed as it was, is appalling, and the aftermath is providing useful but not suprising insight into the lap dog element in the MSM.

Update: The NCAA PC Police And Native American Symbols

The emblem of the Fighting Sioux,
which was designed by a respected
Native American artist

Charles E. Kupchella, the President of the University of North Dakota, whose nickname is the Fighting Sioux, has written an open letter to the NCAA and also held a press conference. Both are accessible here. President Kupchella has written a fine letter. Representative excerpts:

Is it only about applying names to sports teams? If so, would this be extended to the use of the names of all people, or is it just American Indians? Why would you exempt the “Fighting Irish” from your consideration, for example? Or “Vikings,” which are really fighting Scandinavians, or “Warriors,” which I suppose could be described as fighting anybodies? Wouldn’t it be “discrimination on account of race” to have a policy that applies to Indians but not to Scandinavians or the Irish, or anybody else for that matter? This seems especially profound in light of a letter to me from President Brand (8/9/05) in which he, in very broad-brush fashion and inconsistent with the NCAA’s recent much narrower pronouncement, said, “we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at our events.”

. . . .

If the NCAA has all this power, why not use it to restore intercollegiate athletics to the ideal of sportsmanship by decoupling intercollegiate athletics from its corruption by big budgets? Why not use the power to put a halt to the out-of-control financial arms race that threatens to corrupt even higher education itself?
What a bizarre ivory tower sideshow the NCAA has begun.

Newsweek Provides Evidence That - Gasp!- Bush Is No Monster

The extent to which the Angry Left (and far too many of the so-called Democrat "centrists") try to demonize G.W. Bush would be funny if it were not so relentless, so cynical, and so indecent. Cindy Sheehan is only the latest manifestation. In her case the the MSM's willingness to serve as a megaphone for and its fellow-travelers makes the matter all the more disgusting.

Out of this darkness bursts a fair Newsweek article that not only shows Bush as a real human being with a heart, who apparently struggles painfully with the burden of putting young men in harm's way, but also shows some of the nuanced and varied reactions of soldiers' families. Michelle Malkin summarizes the Newsweek article here. Both the article and Michelle's post are absolute must-reads. The blogger comments Michelle includes are just as worthwhile as the Newsweek piece, if not more.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson: "Just Listen to Radical Islam"

al Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri

Well, actually, just read what they say. Right here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gaza And The Fast of the Ninth of Av

Ralph Kostant offers the following commentary on the Gaza pullout:

Immediately after the Jewish Sabbath, this Saturday night (August 13), begins the Fast of the Ninth of Av, the day on which religiously observant Jews mourn for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Because the United States of America has been so good to the Jewish people, it has always been mentally difficult for me to prepare for a fast day that emphasizes our continuing exile. (For traditional Jews, the existence of the State of Israel since 1948, does not mean that our divinely ordained exile has ended, even if we live in Israel. Many of us pray that it signifies “the first flowering of our redemption”). However, this year, sad to say, I have no problem whatsoever putting myself into the proper frame of mind of grief and loss. There is no question in my mind that the impending expulsion of Jews from Gaza and the Northern Shomron, although self-inflicted, is a symptom of our continuing exile. Here is an account of the last Sabbath of the Jewish residents of Gaza. I envy their faith and strength. On the Ninth of Av, my prayers and tears will be for them.

Ralph B. Kostant

Friday Frivolity: What's Your Pirate Name?

Go to this site and find out. Here's my result:

My pirate name is:

Red Roger Rackham

Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Russia: Optimism or Pessimism?

John Schroeder at Blogotional, who enjoys the good fortune of being on a cruise with Hugh Hewitt, posts comments today on the question of Russia's future and potential importance (for good or ill) in the world. Hugh responds here.

I've been increasingly pessimistic myself about Russia. We Americans, with our relatively short history, often don't comprehend the power of European national tradition and culture, which are stubbornly resistant to change and have been so for a thousand years or more. I agree with John that Russia is a problem waiting to get worse. My optimistic side hopes that the Russian people will gradually become more freedom-loving; if that happens, democracy will have a decent chance and so will a peaceful Russia. My realistic side sees that as, well, too optimistic.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

George Will, Jimmy Carter, and the 1980 Election: A Little History

Tshoe who were around and watching in 1980 will find this George Will column especially interesting. (Even those who weren't around should pay attention in order to avoid being misled. President Carter seems to have a flexible relationship with the truth regarding George Will's role in that election.) HT: Power Line

The Aftermath of Gaza Withdrawal?

Ralph Kostant weighs in on this one:

Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum, writing in The Jerusalem Post, notes that the upcoming Gaza withdrawal will provide a test of the theories of Israel’s critics, who say that it is Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that causes Palestinian anti-Semitism, terror and suicide bombings. He writes:

The answer is coming soon. Starting on August 15 the Israeli government will evict some 8,000 Israelis from Gaza and turn their land over to the Palestinian Authority. In addition to being a unique event in modern history (no other democracy has forcibly uprooted thousands of its own citizens of one religion from their lawful homes), it also offers a rare, live, social-science experiment.

We stand at an interpretive divide. If Israel's critics are right, the Gaza withdrawal will improve Palestinian attitudes toward Israel, leading to an end of incitement and a steep drop in attempted violence, followed by a renewal of negotiations and a full settlement. Logic requires, after all, that if "occupation" is the problem, ending it, even partially, will lead to a solution.

Pipes, however, predicts a very different result. The reader should read his entire column, comparing Pipe’s predictions, and the evidence he offers for them, with the predictions that would seem to follow from the point of view of Israel’s critics, and consider which sound more plausible.
In one sense, however, the experiment proposed by Pipes is unfair. When Israel’s enemies argue that Palestinian terror is the result of Israeli occupation, they do not mean solely the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, the areas conquered by Israel in the June 1967 Six Day War. To them, the mere existence of Israel represents Zionist occupation. As George Will has written, with his incomparable gift for turning a phrase, “The problem [for Israel’s enemies] is not that Israel is being provocative; the problem is that Israel’s being is provocative.”

Ralph B. Kostant

Is War All About Casualties?

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line rightly asks:

Have you ever read a history of war that focused almost entirely on casualty figures (with an occasional torture story and grieving parent thrown in), to the exclusion of any real discussion of tactics, operations, and actual battles? I haven't. But that's what our self-proclaimed "rough drafters" of history are serving up with respect to Iraq.
That was precisely the thought on my mind after I read this front-page story in the L.A. Times about Cindy Sheehan, the grieving Iraq War mother who has taken to protesting the war. The story seems fairly balanced, but the first few paragraphs tell us everything we need to know:

The 48-year-old mother of Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in an ambush in Baghdad last year, is consumed by the kind of grief that turns into a furious determination to do something — in her case, to confront the president and force him to explain why her son died.

Now, in the space of just a few days, what started out as a seemingly quixotic personal mission has become something of a phenomenon — with media swarming around Sheehan, leading liberal and antiwar activists parachuting in to try to make her their long-sought voice, and political experts in both parties working to assess what role she may have in galvanizing the public's gathering unhappiness with the increasing American casualties in Iraq.

Antiwar leaders hope that putting the spotlight on Sheehan will motivate Americans who oppose the war, creating a political force strong enough to compel the Bush administration to change course. and other liberal groups have rushed to provide support, offering media expertise and attempting to assemble a corps of others who have lost relatives in Iraq or have family members serving there.

Liberal voices have swung into action on the Internet as well. On Wednesday, Democratic media consultant Joe Trippi organized a conference call with Sheehan for bloggers, aiming to garner more publicity. By Wednesday afternoon, "Cindy Sheehan" was the top-ranked search term on, the search engine for blog postings.
Much has been said about Ms. Sheehan. I will make only two comments:

1. We are at war, and people die in wars. War is the most horrible of all human endeavors. I am the parent of a son who is interested in serving in the military. If he does join, my wife and I will continue to bear fully in mind that our armed forces are volunteer forces, and that he has intentionally agreed to be put in harm's way on behalf of our country. We will be proud of him, worried sick, and praying continually for his safety and welfare. The dreaded possibility that he may be harmed has been with us continually. We have already acknowledged that if our worst fears are realized, he will be a hero who volunteered to serve, and that such heartbreak is part of the territory he will have chosen. We will not blame the government.

2. It is painfully obvious to anyone (even the L.A. Times reporter on this story) that Ms. Sheehan is being used by the Angry Left. She has become a pathetic tool for people like The whole thing is a charade. I hesitate to give her efforts even the limited additional publicity this blog provides. This will be my only post about her.

Power Line News: The Shape of Things to Come?

Lately I have been wishing that there were an online site that would allow me to find a good, quick summary of news and commentary. I rarely pick up a newspaper anymore, unless I am about to get on an airplane and need some reading material. Otherwise, I look for news online.

The problem has been that although there's plenty of commentary available (primarily blogs), news sites are not that great. Fox News and MSNBC are pretty hucksterish (reading them is like reading on-air promo ads). The Wall Street Journal has a news page but it is fairly stuffy. Other MSM newspaper pages are, well, like reading the MSM papers, but online. Yahoo! and its imitators are simply AP feeds online.

Enter Power Line News. I have to hand it to Paul, Scott, and John: They've taken the next step in leading the blogosphere forward. The new site opens the world up to you. You can find links to major newspapers all over the world, simply by clicking on a world map. Links to major blogs (including that of my blogfather, Hugh Hewitt) are there. The news links are not narrow or ideological-- Reuters is there, so are BBC, MSNBC, and CNN (among others). Worldwide government news services are linked as well. It all looks just great. I will be visiting daily!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Illegal Immigration: When Will Some Conservatives Leave Neverland?

As a solid Republican conservative, I find myself in a position that is unusual for me: I think many of my fellow Republicans are stubbornly committed to a policy that is essentially a pipe dream.

The issue is what to do about the 11 million illegal immigrants here in the United States. The pipe dream is that somehow, those 11 million people can be forced to leave the USA. Many intelligent, thoughtful conservatives seem to buy into this idea; even Scott Johnson at Power Line seems to accept it.

Tamar Jacoby, one of the most thoughtful writers on illegal immigration, frames the issue in the August 15 issue of the Weekly Standard:

As [Senator John] Cornyn described the challenge recently . . . "We have to find some way to transition this population into legal status." Everyone who's serious about fixing the status quo agrees: We cannot build a new, lawful immigration system on top of an illegal foundation, cannot deliver control and legality unless we eliminate our vast underground economy. For our own sake--for reasons of national security and the rule of law--we must come to terms with this shadow world. But we cannot realistically compel 11 million people to leave the country: American business depends on them, and the American public is not going to stomach their forcible deportation. Besides, after years--sometimes decades--in the United States, many of these workers have put down roots, buying homes and businesses, giving birth to children who are citizens. As even Cornyn recognizes (in his speeches, if not in his bill), punitive demands that they go home will only drive them further underground.
There is nothing like a consensus yet on how to handle this conundrum: One man's answer is still another man's amnesty. But sooner or later we all will have to face the fact that most of the 11 million are here to stay, and it is in our interest as much as theirs for us to find a way for them to do so legally. There is simply no practical alternative. The only real question before us is how to structure the transition.
Strong words, but so far I have not heard a serious response. For example, Laura Ingraham, of whom I am a great fan and whose show I love, consistently insists on the blinkered approach: Send them home and seal the borders. Many others seem to agree. Scott at Power Line suggests that Edward Erler is the voice of the opposition to Jacoby's view, but the Washington Times piece Scott refers to seems to be simply about the impending dilution of American culture by uncontrolled immigration-- again, stating the problem well, but not offering a solution. Erler does the same thing here and here. Not a proposed solution in sight.

Tamar Jacoby suggests that there is hope for some convergence of opposing approaches- the McCain-Kennedy bill and the Cornyn-Kyl bill in the Senate. McCain-Kennedy, not surprisingly, takes a questionable approach, about which I have commented here. Cornyn-Kyl is much more plausible. Jacoby suggests that out of the two bills a compromise will arise, and we will at last have a workable solution to the problem.

What worries me is that there are so many Republicans who insist on "deport them and seal the borders." It seems to me that if Republicans are going to be a successful majority party, we have to have serious approaches to the major issues of our time. Neither Laura Ingraham's nor Edward Erler's approaches can be taken seriously; yet serious thinkers like Power Line's authors do seem to think those approaches embody some semblance of a solution to the problem.

President Bush has proposed an outline for such a serious approach, and it has produced a great deal of screaming and yelling about the "rule of law." I have yet to see, however, a serious alternative proposed by the vociferous critics of the President's approach.

If you're interested, I've blogged away at this subject for some time, and a list of many of my more, well, provocative posts is here.

Fire away!

UPDATE: Commenter Bradley Hale says:

That is so September 10, 2001. We have to seal the borders to keep the terrorists out. That way we can fight the terrorists over somewhere else rather than here. You are either with us or against us hedgehog.
Bradley, I'm strongly in favor of enforcing the borders. So is Tamar Jacoby. If you read some of my earlier posts, you'll see that. Take a look at this one, entitled "Illegal Immigration: Why It Should Keep President Bush Awake at Night." Controlling the borders is the essence of good immigration policy, and the terrorist threat makes that an urgent matter. The question I'm addressing is, What do we do about the illegals already here? That's the one for which too many conservatives seem to have no answer.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Boy Scouts, Religious Intolerance, and The ACLU's War on Scouting

A BSA Religious Award for Jewish Scouters

Ralph Kostant is at it again, this time with a unique perspective on the Boy Scouts and the recent National Scout Jamboree:

As is well-known, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have become a favorite punching bag of the secular Left in America. The ACLU and allied organizations have done their best to deprive the Scouts of the use of public property. They accuse the Scouts of intolerance, because Scouting, in the words of the Boy Scout Oath, commits Scouts to “do my duty to God and my country,” and to be “morally straight.”

Let’s look more closely at that charge of intolerance. There are a number of Scout Troops sponsored by Orthodox Jewish organizations; a handful, not many. It is likely that such Scouts, who observe the kosher dietary laws, represented at most a few hundred of the some 75,000 Scouts and Scout leaders who attended the Jamboree that recently concluded at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. BSA made special elaborate and probably costly arrangements to assure that those relatively few religiously observant Jewish Scouts had food that satisfied the most stringent interpretations of the Jewish dietary laws.

Like the Hedgehog, my friend Tom Greiff is a Boy Scout leader. He recently returned from the Jamboree, which he attended in the company of Scouts from the troop sponsored by my synagogue, Shaarey Zedek Congregation of North Hollywood, Troop 613 (so named because in traditional Jewish belief, the Torah contains 613 divinely ordained commandments, or mitzvot). One of Tom’s assigned responsibilities at the Jamboree was to receive shipments of kosher food as the trucks transporting it arrived at Fort A.P. Hill.

BSA had arranged for the provision of kosher food at the Jamboree to be supervised by Star-K, one of the nation’s most respected kosher supervision organizations, based in Baltimore, Maryland. The trucks that delivered the food from Baltimore contained shipments of both kosher products for the religiously observant Jewish Scouts and packages of non-kosher food for the rest of the Jamboree participants. In addition to the lock put on the truck loading doors by the shipping company, to prevent theft; a Star-K rabbi in Baltimore added his own seal on the truck doors, to guarantee that there had been no tampering with the kosher products on board. BSA agreed to a Star-K request that when the trucks arrived at the Jamboree the Star-K seal would only be broken by the Star-K supervising rabbi in attendance at the Jamboree—this even though the trucks in question contained food for everyone, not just the religiously observant Scouts. All that fuss, in order to accommodate the religious needs of a tiny, tiny percentage of the Scouts attending the Jamboree.

How is that for religious intolerance? As we Jews say, “Yesher coack [well done], BSA; kol hak’vod l’chah [all honor to you]!”

Ralph B. Kostant


Based on personal experience I can confirm that there is no more accommodating organization than the BSA regarding the needs of its religious chartered organizations. For example, every residential Scout camp in existence starts its week-long summer camp on Sunday, but troops sponsored by my church do not travel on Sundays. Our local Scout council, the Western Los Angeles County Council, has bent over backwards to accommodate our desires. Among other things, the Council has asked camp staffers to vary their days off, and has kept the camp open on "off" hours on Saturday afternoons, all so our boys could arrive one day early, on Saturday, to avoid violating their religious tenets. I could go on and on listing similar examples. All this behavior by the BSA is in keeping with the organization's mission:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
As Ralph notes, in the Scout Oath the boy promises to do his "duty to God" and to keep himself "morally straight;" in the Scout Law he acknowledges that he must be "reverent."

Those are the values the ACLU finds so troubling. It is this organization that the ACLU and others would like to see destroyed if the Scouts do not relent and lower their standards of morality and religious observance for its voluntary members. It doesn't appear that the ACLU will give up its war on the Scouts anytime soon. I think that war is a long ways from being decided, however, and the ACLU will win only over the dead bodies of an awful lot of Americans-- speaking metaphorically, of course.

UPDATE: By happy coincidence Scott Johnson of Power Line has written an article in today's Daily Standard on the very subject of the ACLU's attacks on the Boy Scouts, "The ACLU's Thirty Years War." It's required reading for anyone interested in today's culture wars.

A few other Hedgehog Blog posts on the Boy Scouts and the ACLU:

The National Scout Jamboree: Why This Matters

Los Angeles National Cemetery, Memorial Day Weekend 2005

The San Diego Boy Scouts Controversy

Saturday, August 06, 2005

College Sports Mascots, Native Americans, and the NCAA

According to the NCAA, this block "U" with a feather attached
is an "offensive" logo. Apparently no one at the NCAA has asked the
Native American tribe involved what they think, however.

Now for a brief descent into triviality. Apparently the NCAA has decided that Native American "mascots" are no longer acceptable for its member schools. It also apparently does not matter whether or not the Native American tribe in question approves of the use of its name (which is the case with the Florida State Seminoles and my team, the Utah Utes). Read all about the NCAA action here.

I am somewhat ambivalent about all this, but above all I think we are witnessing political correctness run amok. In Utah's case the school gave up the offensive name "Redskins" in 1972. Since then the University has pretty much had an open offer to the Ute tribe: Any time you want us to stop using your tribal name, just tell us, and we will stop. The current Utah logo looks like the one above, right. It's approved by the Ute tribal council and should not be offensive to anyone-- even the NCAA.

Sadly, the NCAA is governed by a President's Council, which consists of a bunch of university presidents. Not surprisingly, we are talking about a gaggle of academics and the Council is not, shall we say, a hotbed of center-right thought. What else can we expect from such a group?

Probably anticipating the inevitable triumph of PC thinking, the University has long had a plan in place to switch to another mascot and logo if that ever becomes necessary. Enter the red-tailed hawk, a majestic bird that is indigenous to Utah (and to most of North America, for that matter).

Maybe someday the Utah logo will someday look like this one:

The school could do worse. A student wearing an attractively cartoonish red-tailed hawk suit and named Swoop already dances and performs other antics at football and basketball games. Here's Swoop:

(That's the BYU Cougar he's holding in a somewhat compromised position.)

I have no idea what the Florida State Seminoles are going to do. Maybe they'll become the Swamp Hawks.

Long Faces in A Gangbusters Economy

Gerard Baker, the U.S. Editor of The Times of London, notes:

[T]here’s something about the American economy that, put simply, works. But there’s one group of critics who are distinctly unimpressed with the US economic miracle: the American people. . . . Why, in the face of abundant evidence of their own economic success, are Americans so miserable?

Baker details the amazing strength of our economy and offers some answers to his question. Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson: A Weekend Must-Read about "The Ripples of War"

Read this Power Line post and every link it contains. It is riveting, and especially important at this time of Hiroshima remembrance, Iraq war anxiety, and post-9/11 trauma.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Stem Cells, Senator Frist, and President Bush: A Thoughtful Perspective

Earlier today I read George Will's op-ed piece on Senator Frist and stem cells. I do not pretend to have a great depth of knowledge about this area, but I did find the Will op-ed persuasive. I also believe Bill Frist is a thoughtful, earnest public servant who over his time in the Senate has earned the benefit of my doubts. Put me down as cautiously supportive of the Frist position.

Lo and behold, none other than Ralph Kostant also read Will's piece and has taken a similar, if more robust, supportive position. Ralph offers a handy summary, along with a question for my readers and me:

George Will points out that Senator Bill Frist's current views are not a flip-flop, but rather reflect his expressed position on stem-cell research of four years ago. While Senator Frist supported the President's August 2001 limitation on Federal support of embryonic stem-cell research, to 78 existing lines, his support was based on the assumption that those lines provided an adequate supply of embryonic stem cells for ongoing research. Now that it is known that only 22 of those lines remain, of uncertain and declining quality, Senator Frist has reasserted his original position--that research should be permitted on frozen embryos that were created in vitro for fertilization treatment, are no longer wanted by the couples for whom they were created, and would otherwise be destroyed. Senator Frist, like the President, remains steadfastly opposed to the creation of embryos for stem-cell research. In the opinion of George Will, Senator Frist's position is only mildly divergent from that of President Bush. Do the Hedgehog and its readers concur? (In the interest of full and fair disclosure, let me add that I concur in the position of Senator Frist, which is also the stated position of leading Orthodox Jewish rabbinical scholars who are expert in Torah medical ethics issues.)
In response, the Hedgehog thinks that Frist does not deserve all the brickbats that have been tossed his way. I think his approach is reasonable. Still, I am somewhat nervous about a possible "slippery slope." This being capitalist America (and God bless it!) I shudder to think of "embryo mills" arising that could make a good income off of creating and selling human embryos. The structures are all in place to do that. Any in vitro fertilization (IVF) lab in the country could immediately start such a product line. Perhaps the embryos could even be engineered. Who knows what dark paths that could take us down?

Two counterpoints make me feel somewhat better. First, it is reassuring that Frist himself is strongly against the creation of embryos simply for harvesting of stem cells. Second, as George will notes about my specific concern:

Life, however, is lived on a slippery slope: Taxation could become confiscation; police could become gestapos. But the benefits from taxation and police make us willing to wager that our judgment can stop slides down dangerous slopes.
A good point, I'll concede. I would feel better still if, after legislation is passed funding stem cell research in the manner Frist proposes (assuming that ever happens), the law also forbade such commercial creation of embryos. I have serious qualms about the enforceability of such a prohibition. But I'm willing to be convinced that the Frist approach is prudent. George Will concludes:

Both Bush and Frist have thought seriously about this subject and come to mildly divergent conclusions. But neither conclusion crosses the scarlet line of supporting the creation of embryos to be mere sources of cells. And neither conclusion is the result of the sort of slapdash thinking that exaggerates the differences between them and explains those differences in terms of banal political calculations.
Okay, we shall see.

On Being A Marine In Iraq, And Leaving

The author of Howdy's Blog at work

Thanks to my Blogfather Hugh Hewitt, I saw this post from Howdy's Blog. It's a must-read for those who care about the war and the men and women fighting it. I won't summarize or excerpt it for fear of failing to do it justice.

Howdy's Blog, by the way, is owned by a Marine who has been in Iraq for some time. It is worth a regular visit.

Some ask me why I devote so much time on this blog to posts about soldiers, Marines, and their fellows. The answer is complex, but I can summarize: I've never served, but I feel great admiration, respect, and yes, love for those who have served and do serve. I also have a service-age son who is considering joining the military eventually; that tends to focus a father's thinking. I feel some degree of empathy for those who do have sons standing in harm's way for us. Every time I hear of a soldier dying in Iraq, I think of his or her father and mother and I try to imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes.

That's one reason why I wear a bracelet on my wrist marked "For Those Who Serve."

Anyway, read Howdy's reflections on leaving Iraq for another assignment. It'll make you proud.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Privatize PBS

At least that's what John Stossel thinks should happen. I've wavered on this issue, but I must admit, Stossel makes a good case. Via RealClearPolitics.

Supreme Court: What's The Difference Between The Ginsburg and Roberts Supreme Court Nominations?

Gloria Borger of U.S. News and World Report argues that there is not much difference at all:

Here's the question: What's the difference between the nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by President Bill Clinton and the nomination of Judge Roberts by President Bush? Answer: nothing. Ginsburg appeared as liberal as Roberts does conservative, yet she was approved 96 to 3. The GOP decided it would not be a party of useless litmus tests or panderers to special interests. And in the next election, Republicans made it clear she would not have been their choice. That is, after all, what elections are about.

I will admit that for some time I have been skeptical of arguments like Borger's. It seemed to me that Ginsburg and Roberts are not really similar nominations, because Ginsburg was simply replacing another liberal justice and was not expected to change the balance of the Court. Hence the light Republican opposition. The confirmation of Roberts, on the other hand, would result in replacing a swing voter with a reliably conservative one. So, I thought, it isn't fair to compare the Republicans allowing a 96-3 vote on Ginsburg with the caterwauling of today's Democrats.

It turns out I was wrong. Rather than being different, the two nominations are more alike than I had thought-- and I haven't seen any analysts note this yet. There is an important similarity between Ginsburg and Roberts: Both nominations change the ideological balance of the Court. Ginsburg was replacing a more centrist justice, Byron White. Justice White was no conservative, but whatever he was, he was not an ACLU left-liberal like Ginsburg. Her elevation to the Court thus changed changed the Court's ideological makeup, moving it leftward. And yet she was approved 96-3.

Roberts' nomination is a mirror image of Ginsburg's: He will replace a more centrist justice, Sandra Day O'Connor. O'Connor is no liberal, but she is not a solid, reliable conservative like Roberts; so his appointment thus also changes the balance of views on the Court, moving it rightward.

The real difference? Instead of accepting the President's right, in our system, to appoint justices whose philosophy does move the Court either rightward or leftward (as Clinton did with Ginsburg and Bush seeks to do with Roberts), the Democrats are using every possible strategy to stop the Roberts nomination.

It is entirely appropriate for President Bush to nominate someone whose judicial philosophy and views will change the direction of the Court; that's why we have elections, and that's how the Founders set up the system. The Democrats' reaction is all the more disgusting when compared with the Republican approach in nearly identical circumstances.

CENTCOM's Web Page: Add to Your Blogroll!

The Operation Enduring Freedom Logo

I received an e-mail from SPC. Claude Flowers, who is with Public Affairs in the U.S. Central Command Florida office (CENTCOM). CENTCOM's webpage features up-to-date information on what the Coalition is doing in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. SPC. Flowers asked if CENTCOM could get a link added on this blog.

Well, of course. I'm honored to be asked, and I wish I had done it sooner. I've added the link to my blogroll at left and urge all of you to do the same. Let's just say there's lots of information here that you won't find on MSM outlets. For example, there's a prominent link on the page called "What Extremists Are Saying." The official releases of the islamofascists are printed there, apparently verbatim. This link alone provides an excellent dose of reality.

SPC. Flowers e-mailed me again today:

We’re really trying to spread the word about what’s being accomplished in
Afghanistan and Iraq, so if you could mention us, that’d be fantastic.

Incidentally, the new Coalition Bulletin magazine, which covers the work
being done in CENTCOM’s Area of Responsibility, was just posted on our site. It
includes pieces about what soldiers from the U.S., Korea, Germany, Canada and
elsewhere have accomplished (plus an interview I did with Rear Admiral Jackson
regarding his recent trip to Iraq – shameless plug!). The PDF file is at:
It's all highly recommended reading.

A Wireless America?

Via Instapundit, Tom Friedman has some interesting thoughts on publicy-provided wireless connectivity. I am not sure about this, because I don't think the government has ever been better than the private sector at providing goods or services that it makes sense for the private sector to arrange. In any case, Friedman's comments underscore the extent to which we are all "present at the creation" of a new age.

What's The News Media's Responsibility in The Wilson/Plame Matter?

Wrting in the Village Voice, Sidney Schanberg (no right-wing apologist, he) argues that the reporters involved should come forward and tell us the story of their own roles in the story: "[T]hey don't have to name their sources. Just be reporters. The public has a right to know; isn't that our mantra?"

Sounds good to me. For the past eight weeks or so, the backstory that has been percolating is that the news media types directly involved in the story (Judith Miller of the New York Times, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Tim Russert, et al.) are very uncomfortable because of their role in the matter. Many have suggested that some of them might actually have been the source that revealed Valerie Plame's CIA position. Yet the silence from all of them on that score has been deafening. It's well past time for that silence to be broken.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The National Scout Jamboree: Why This Matters

From today's Washington Post story on the President's speech to the Scouts

I spent most of today at Fort A.P. Hill here in Virginia, at the National Scout Jamboree. As a result I was surrounded by about 70,000 people who are firmly committed to teaching boys aged 11-18 to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. (Those are the 12 points of the Scout Law.) The young men themselves pledge, on their honor, "to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Being here was a wholly uplifting experience. As the Washington Post reports, President Bush spoke to the entire camp Sunday night, after two earlier cancellations. Here is the full text of his remarks. They're short, funny, and inspiring.

What could possibly be wrong with this picture? Well, yes, there are forces in the USA who are hounding the Boy Scouts in every forum possible-- primarily the courts. For example, the ACLU wants to keep the BSA from getting free use of city land in San Diego, and to stop the Department of Defense from making Fort A.P. Hill available to the BSA for the National Jamboree. Read all about those efforts, and others, here.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the Boy Scouts are not really the ACLU's target. It is the Scouts' profound symbolism that the ACLU is after. The Boy Scouts of America epitomize mainstream American values-- motherhood, apple pie, families, traditional manhood, and so forth. Scouting's values prominently feature such notions as (1) reverence for and faith in God, and (2) being "morally straight," which does not include gay relationships. (Important note: The Scouts have the equivalent of the armed forces' "don't ask, don't tell" policy. No one checks to see if Scouts or their adult leaders are gay. To be invited to leave the organization over that issue, you have to call attention to your gayness.) I suspect it is because of the Scouts' powerful symbolism that President Bush persisted in fulfilling his commitment to speak to the Jamboree. He wanted to stand with the Scouts (and he wanted that photo opportunity you see at the top of this post!).

Stating the proposition somewhat starkly, as long as the Scouts remain who they are and adhere to those mainstream values, they are an obstacle to the Left's goal of altering those same values. The ACLU and its left-wing clients want society to accept secularism as the standard for American society and gay relationships as normal. If the Scouts can be forced to change on those fronts, that is a victory of incalculable proportions for the Left.

That's why the assault on the Boy Scouts is important for everyone, regardless of whether you, or anyone close to you, are ever associated with the Scouts. It's also why it was so important that George W. Bush be elected and re-elected President. Remember: In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the Scouts' policy against allowing openly gay adult Scout leaders to serve. The Court decided that a state may not, through its nondiscrimination statutes, prohibit the Boy Scouts from adhering to a moral viewpoint and expressing that viewpoint in internal leadership policy, and that a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court therefore violated the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment right of freedom of association.

The Supreme Court vote in Dale was 5 to 4. There were four justices willing to uphold the New Jersey Supreme Court and prevent the Scouts from setting their own internal policies for adult leaders. If a single justice had voted the other way, the national moral standard would already be changed and the Boy Scouts as we know them would likely no longer exist.

Ask yourself: With one more justice appointed by a President Gore or a President Kerry, how would that decision have come down?

So, do presidential elections and Supreme Court appointments really matter? You bet they do.

UPDATE: You have surely read about the tragic accidental deaths of four adult Scout leaders the first day of the Jamboree. It was indeed a great and uplifting experience for me to visit the Scouts at Fort A.P. Hill, but the sense of loss there was palpable. Here's a site with information on how you can donate to a fund for the families of the four leaders. In all my years of working with youth I have never known of a more horrible accident. Please help if you can.