Saturday, April 29, 2006

"No More Vietnams"

From David Gelernter's must-read piece in The Weekly Standard:

In Iraq as in Vietnam, it's impossible to say whether our intervention was justified by self-interest. (Churchill: "It is not given to the cleverest and most calculating of mortals to know with certainty what is their interest. Yet it is given to quite a lot of simple folk to know every day what is their duty.") In Iraq as in Vietnam, we have promised to rescue a suffering people from its tormentors. (Our duty was not to plant democracy in Iraq; our duty was to put an end to unbearable suffering. But planting democracy seemed like the only way to accomplish this goal, unless we were bucking for a new colony.) In Iraq as in Vietnam, the fighting is ugly and bloody. But in Iraq, unlike Vietnam, we will stay until we are finished.

Not many nations get a second chance to show the world and themselves that they are serious after all, that their friends can trust them and their enemies ought to fear them. There is no way we can atone for the blood and death we inflicted (indirectly) on South Vietnam by abandoning it to Communist tyranny. That failure can never be put right. But we can make clear that "No More Vietnams" is a Republican slogan. It means that we will never again go back on our word and betray our friends, our soldiers, and ourselves.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Quote of The Day: Is Mitt Romney Being Treated Fairly?

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak:

To a growing number of Republican activists, [Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney]looks like the party's best bet. But any conversation among Republicans about Romney invariably touches on concerns of whether his Mormon faith disqualifies him for the presidency.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for public office, but that is precisely what is being posed now. Prominent, respectable Evangelical Christians have told me, not for quotation, that millions of their co-religionists cannot and will not vote for Romney for president solely because he is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . .

Romney is well aware that an unconstitutional religious test is being applied to him, but he may be seriously minimizing the problem's scope as limited to relatively few fanatics. He feels the vast majority of conservative voters worried about his faith will flinch at the prospect of another Clinton in the White House. But such a rational approach is not likely to head off a highly emotional collision of religious faith and religious bias with American politics.

I've posted a fair amount on what I consider the un-American nature of religion-based opposition to Mitt Romney. The best examples are here, here, here, and here. Americans who won't vote for Romney merely because of their interpretation of his religious beliefs (interpretations that are almost always either mistaken, or mean-spirited, or both) ought to be ashamed of themselves.

John Kerry's Faneuil Hall Speech: "Sacrificing lives on the altar of stubborn pride"

I heard today some audio clips from John Kerry's Faneuil Hall speech last Saturday, commemorating the 35th anniversary of his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which launched his political career. The same words I heard on the radio appeared in the Boston Globe's report:

It was the 35th anniversary of the day Kerry, as a young Navy veteran returning from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, famously asking, ''How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

Kerry's case yesterday was much the same: that Americans have a duty to speak out against a war that is sacrificing lives on the ''altar of stubborn pride." (Emphasis added.)

In other words, American soldiers in Iraq are risking and losing their lives for nothing.

Let me say that again: In the view of Kerry and most liberals, American soldiers in Iraq are risking and losing their lives for nothing. When I make that statement to liberal acquaintances, they almost always become irate. I think that's because the point is at once so painfully obvious and so hard for them to admit. They angrily accuse me of questioning their patriotism.

No, I'm not. I'm simply calling on anti-war liberals to have the courage of their convictions. If they think the war is wrong, then American lives are being wasted "for a mistake," just as Kerry said back in 1971. Liberals ought simply to come right out and say that, and argue their point with some intellectual honesty. Instead, most of them are cowards and will not admit the logical conclusions that flow from their position.

Think about it: If the war is worth fighting, then our soldiers' deaths are tragic but meaningful, and the soldiers are heroes. If, however, the soldiers are dying only for "stubborn pride," then their loss is a meaningless travesty, not a tragedy; and the soldiers are victims, not heroes.

You can't have it both ways. Yes, you can be a patriot and a dove, but you can't "oppose the war and support the troops." The two positions are inherently inconsistent.

Many on the left think Kerry is at last taking a consistent position on the war; they applaud his apparent decision to be "the real John Kerry." Tom Bevan has a different view, one that I think sticks to the facts, and expresses the real reasons so many Americans are uncomfortable (to say the least) about Kerry's approach to defense policy. I'd call that approach consistent, all right-- consistently dovish, but not intellectually or morally honest.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Will Conservatives Accept A Bush Course Correction on Spending?

InstaPundit reports on increasing signs that President Bush and the conservative core of Congress are going to team up on a veto threat to impose some discipline on earmarks and pork in the supplemental appropriations bill. I find this encouraging, but will the conservative base accept it happily, or simply grumble, "It's about time," or "This is too little, too late?" That's what they did ("they" being the likes of Ingraham and Malkin) when Homeland Security cracked down on border enforcement.

It seems to me that when I yell at the government to do something, and then it does what I yelled for, that I ought to at least say "Thanks, good job, keep it up."

We'll see what happens with a fiscal discipline veto.

One of The Joys of Living in California . . .

Is that at least several times a week I find myself driving behind a car that looks much like the one at left. The photo is small, so you may not be able to see some of the bumper stickers, which include these statements:

"Animals are little people in fur coats."

"End U.S. Imperialism."

"Give Peace A Chance."

"Draft SUV Drivers First."

"Equal Rights for All Species."

"Imagine No Handguns."

Every time, I remind myself that in many of the countries this car's driver probably views benignly, or thinks the USA is oppressing, he or she would be prosecuted for indulging in such open political expression.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

It's Tony Snow

Probably old news by now, but President Bush has selected Tony Snow to be his next press secretary. The Wall Street Journal story is here. (Subscription required.)

This seems like quite a bold step. Snow is a very different kind of person than the typical press secretary, and will be very interesting to watch in that role:

Mr. Snow, a Fox News commentator and a White House speechwriter for the former President Bush, has written and spoken frequently about the current president -- not always in a complimentary way. While Mr. Snow is an experienced Washington hand, he isn't among the president's core of advisers.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, circulated unflattering observations by Mr. Snow about the president. "His [Bush's]wavering conservatism has become an active concern among Republicans, who wish he would stop cowering under the bed and start fighting back against the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Wilson," Mr. Snow wrote last November after Republicans failed to win the governor's race in Virginia. "The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment."

Last month, Mr. Snow wrote that the president and Republicans in Congress had "lost control of the federal budget and cannot resist the temptation to stop raiding" the treasury. In an interview earlier Tuesday, Mr. Snow said, "It's public record. I've written some critical stuff. When you're a columnist, you're going to criticize and you're going to praise."

No one knows how this move will play out, but I like it.

UPDATE: Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post has a good piece with more information:

Snow will become the first Washington pundit -- and an outspoken ideological voice at that -- to take over the pressroom lectern at a time when tensions between journalists and the administration have been running high, over
issues ranging from the Iraq war to investigations involving leaks of classified

"President Bush hates responding to the press, hates responding to political enemies -- he thinks it's beneath him," Snow said on Fox News in March. "He's got a stubborn streak." What the president needed, he said, was "a series of vigorous defenses" of his position.

Sounds good to me.

Wily Russians Play Both Sides of the Israeli-Iranian Divide

Today's Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is launching a spy satellite to monitor Iran. That makes good sense, since Iran is on the threshhold of obtaining nuclear weapons, and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly called for Israel's annihilation, most recently on Monday, when he said Israel was a "fake regime" that "cannot logically continue to live."

But notice from where the spy satellite is being launched--from Siberia! So Russia, which is providing Iran with enriched uranium and protecting Iran in the UN from U.S. attempts to impose sanctions, is also allowing Israel to launch a satellite from its territory, to spy on Iran. It remains to be seen whether Russia can continue to walk the tight-rope of this wily diplomatic strategy.

Lowell adds: The above is all the more interesting in light of this Fox News report:

[Iran's top leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei . . . said as he met with
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir that "Iran's nuclear capability is one example of various scientific capabilities in the country. . . . The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to transfer the experience, knowledge and technology of its scientists."

One wonders where bluster ends and real madness begins with these people.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sharansky: Bush is the Dissident President

Natan Sharansky writes in today's OpinionJournal that through his unswerving commitment to his ideals, President George W. Bush has become the "Dissident President."

Natan and Avital Sharansky are two of the people whom I admire most. Natan (then known as Anatoly) and Avital met as activists campaigning in the Soviet Union for the right of Jews to emigrate to Israel. They were married on July 7, 1974. Just three days later, faced with an exit visa to Israel that was about to expire, Avital emigrated to Israel, Natan having assured her that he would follow as soon as possible. Natan's application for an exit visa was denied on security grounds. Natan became a leader in the Soviet dissident movement, working with people such as Andrei Sakharov and Ilena Bonner. He was arrested in 1977, and in 1978 was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment on trumped-up charges of spying for the United States and Israel. His prison time included 16 months in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison, much of it in solitary confinement or in a special "torture" cell, and years in the Soviet Siberian gulag. Sharanky's incredible moral strength defeated the efforts of his Soviet jailers to break him. Largely unknown to him, Avital worked tirelessly building international political and diplomatic pressure for his release. In no small part to the championship of his cause by President Ronald Reagan, Sharansky was released from prision and allowed to emigrate to Israel in February 1986. His first words to Avital after their initial embrace, "Sorry that I am so late," typify his self-deprecating humor.

Avital is a very private person, who forced herself to become a public figure in order to save her husband. (The accompanying photo, taken during the campaign to free Natan Shranksky, eloquently depicts the physical and emotional burden that she assumed.) Since Natan's release, Avital has largely retired from public view, content to be a wife and mother in Israel.

Natan has remained an eloquent spokesman for democratic values, but one often unheeded in his own country, Israel. For example, he was one of the first critics, following the Oslo Accords, of the Israeli government's policy of ignoring the corruption and anti-democratic nature of the Palestinian Authority, a policy based on the cynical notion that a regime not bound by democratic contraints can most effectively fight terrorism. More recently, he resigned as a cabinet minister in the government of Ariel Sharon, over Sharon's misguided unilateral disengagement policy. Nathan Sharansky's insistent adherence to his own principles have left him with almost no political constituency in Israel and, when I attended an appearance by Natan Sharansky in a Beverly Hills syngogue some months ago, only a handful of people came to hear one of the moral giants of our time.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Europe, Thy Name Is Appeasement

I was e-mailed the following by a friend, who informs me that this column by Mathias Dapfner, CEO of the German publisher Axel Springer AG, appeared in March in Die Welt, Germany's largest daily newspaper:

EUROPE-- THY NAME IS COWARDICE (Commentary by Mathias Dapfner CEO, Axel Springer, AG)

A few days ago Henry Broder wrote in Welt am Sonntag, " Europe--your family name is appeasement." It's a phrase you can't get out of your head because it's so terribly true.

Appeasement cost millions of Jews and non-Jews their lives, as England and France, allies at the time, negotiated and hesitated too long before they noticed that Hitler had to be fought, not bound to toothless agreements.

Appeasement legitimised and stabilized Communism in the Soviet Union , then East Germany , then all the rest of Eastern Europe , where for decades, inhuman suppressive, murderous governments were glorified as the ideologically correct alternative to all other possibilities

Appeasement crippled Europe when genocide ran rampant in Kosovo , and even though we had absolute proof of ongoing mass-murder, we Europeans debated and debated and debated, and were still debating when finally the Americans had to come from halfway around the world, into Europe yet again, and do our work for us .

Rather than protecting democracy in the Middle East, European Appeasement, camouflaged behind the fuzzy word "equidistance," now countenances suicide bombings in Israel by fundamentalist Palestinians.

Appeasement generates a mentality that allows Europe to ignore nearly 500,000 victims of Saddam's torture and murder machinery and, motivated by the self-righteousness of the peace movement, has the gall to issue bad grades to George Bush... Even as it is uncovered that the loudest critics of the American action in Iraq made illicit billions, no, TENS of billions, in the corrupt U.N. Oil-for-Food program.

And now we are faced with a particularly grotesque form of appeasement.
How is Germany reacting to the escalating violence by Islamic Fundamentalists in Holland and elsewhere? By suggesting that we really should have a "Muslim Holiday" in Germany?

I wish I were joking, but I am not. A substantial fraction of our (German) Government, and if the polls are to be believed, the German people, actually believe that creating an Official State "Muslim Holiday" will somehow spare us from the wrath of the fanatical Islamists.

One cannot help but recall Britain 's Neville Chamberlain waving the laughable treaty signed by Adolph Hitler and declaring European "Peace in our time".

What else has to happen before the European public and its political leadership get it? There is a sort of crusade underway, an especially perfidious crusade consisting of systematic attacks by fanatic Muslims, focused on civilians, directed against our free, open Western societies, and intent upon Western Civilization's utter destruction. It is a conflict that will most likely last longer than any of the great military conflicts of the last century--a conflict conducted by an enemy that cannot be tamed by "tolerance" and "accommodation" but is actually spurred on by such gestures, which have proven to be, and will always be taken by the Islamists for signs of weakness. Only two recent American Presidents had the courage needed for Anti-appeasement: Reagan and Bush.
His American critics may quibble over the details, but we Europeans know the truth. We saw it first hand: Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, freeing half of the German people from nearly 50 years of terror and virtual slavery. And Bush, supported only by the Social Democrat Blair , acting on moral conviction, recognized the danger in the Islamic War against Democracy. His place in history will have to be evaluated after a number of years have passed.
In the meantime, Europe sits back with charismatic self-confidence in the multicultural corner, instead of defending liberal society's values and being an attractive center of power on the same playing field as the true great powers, America and China .
On the contrary--we Europeans present ourselves, in contrast to those "arrogant Americans", as the World Champions of "tolerance ", which even (Germany 's Interior Minister) Otto Schily justifiably criticizes.
Why? Because we're so moral? I fear it's more because we're so materialistic, so devoid of a moral compass.

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt, and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy--because unlike almost all of Europe, Bush realizes what is at stake--literally everything .
While we criticize the "capitalistic robber barons" of America because they seem too sure of their priorities, we timidly defend our Social Welfare systems. Stay out of it! It could get expensive! We'd rather discuss reducing our 35-hour workweek or our dental coverage, or our 4 weeks of paid vacation.. Or listen to TV pastors preach about the need to "reach out to terrorists. To understand and forgive".
These days, Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her last pieces of jewellery when she notices a robber breaking into a neighbour 's house.


Europe, thy name is Cowardice .
---God Bless America--

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Vicente Fox: Just What Does "Shameful" Mean to You?

It looks like some Americans along the Mexican border are going to build an immigration-slowing fence on their own. Well, I can't blame them. I did notice this comment in the news article, however:

Congress has been debating immigration reform for several months. One bill, approved by the U.S. House in December, calls for nearly 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence proposal has angered Mexicans, with President Vicente Fox calling it "shameful."
In response, a family member e-mailed this comment:

Yes, that fence plan can rightfully be called shameful. It is shameful that Mexico does not recognize our sovereignty, our responsibility to maintain the integrity of our borders. It is shameful that Mexico has a reputation, among both its own people and foreigners, for corruption in its law enforcement and other civil servants. It is shameful that a country with vast natural resources has not opened the way to development which would provide good jobs and prosperity to its people. It is shameful that Mexico doesn't provide better education to its youth. Presidente Fox, you are right; it is shameful.
I could not agree more.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Liberal Judge Attacks Free Speech

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most liberal federal appellate panel, and Judge Stephen Reinhardt is its most liberal judge. He is married to ACLU leader Ramona Ripston. Now the ACLU usually backs unfettered expresssion, even, to its credit, when that expression is offensive to liberal mores. It has filed lawsuits to fight student dress codes and has backed the right of high school students to wear t-shirts with profane language. So I was astonished to read here that Judge Reinhardt had authored an opinion holding that a high school may ban a t-shirt with the slogan "Homosexuality is shameful," on it.

In dissent, Judge Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointee and long-time conservative foil to Judge Reinhardt's runaway liberalism, wrote:
"The types of speech that could be banned by the school authorities under the Poway High School hate policy are practically without limit. Any speech code that has at its heart avoiding offense to others gives anyone with a thin skin a heckler's veto - something the Supreme Court has not approved in the past."
However, Judge Reinhardt insisted that politically correct thought trumps the First Amendment:
"Perhaps our dissenting colleague believes that one can condemn homosexuality without condemning homosexuals. If so, he is wrong. To say that homosexuality is shameful is to say, necessarily, that gays and lesbians are shameful."

"There are numerous locations and opportunities available to those who wish to advance such an argument. It is not necessary to do so by directly condemning, to their faces, young students trying to obtain a fair and full education in our public schools."
One wonders whether Judge Reinhardt would have ruled similarly if the t-shirt had read, "Christianity is shameful."

Ironically, I am quite sympathetic to the school authorities in this case. In the interest of maintaining school discipline and a proper learning atmosphere, I would back a ban on all "message" t-shirts, or even a dress code that did not allow t-shirts as outer wear. However, it is usually liberals of the Reinhardt-Ripston persuasion who oppose such bans. If t-shirts expressing opinions are to be allowed at all, I do not see how the school, consistent with the First Amendment, can ban one that expresses, in fairly tame terms, a view held by the Roman Catholic Church, most fundamentalist and evangelical Protestants, mainstream Islam and Orthodox Judaism. My prediction: this opinion will not survive a full-panel rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, much less review by the Supreme Court.

In the best tradition of American politics and jurisprudence, Judges Reinhardt and Kozinski, while fierce ideological rivals, are warm colleagues and friends, as depicted in this photo. Judge Reinhardt is on the viewer's left.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The News Media and War Coverage

Regular reader, frequent commenter, and friend of this blog Harold Hutchison has written this piece for Strategypage on how today's media would have covered the Doolittle raid. Here's a taste:

New York Times, April 19, 1942: "AIR RAID ON TOKYO. In what the Roosevelt
Administration described as retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Army Air Corps launched an attack on Tokyo from an undisclosed location. The attack, using the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber, was described as a success, even though preliminary estimates indicate that little, if any, damage was done. . . ."

The whole thing is wonderful.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Illegal Immigration: Honesty Is in Short Supply

Ruben Navarrette, one of the more insightful writers on the subject, has a piece on RealClearPolitics today that I hope a lot of Congressional staffers read-- and then put in front of their bosses. Excerpt:

[Y]ou can support increasing the number of Border Patrol agents without supporting amateur hour in the form of the Minutemen. You can support fences along portions of the border without going along with building a 2,000-mile-long wall. You can support converting unauthorized presence in the United States from a civil violation to a criminal offense . . . without saying it should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor. And you can be alarmed over the cost of providing education and health care to the U.S-born children of illegal immigrants without concluding that the solution is to deprive those children of U.S. citizenship.

On the other side of the great divide, you can sympathize with the plight of illegal immigrants without convincing yourself that they haven't really committed a serious infraction by coming to the United States without the proper documents. You can admire the fact that demonstrators would protest for a cause they believe in and still feel uneasy about the waving of Mexican flags. You can support increased border security and fairer immigration laws without being branded a racist or a xenophobe.
Read the whole thing.

Who Should Be The Next White House Press Secretary?

GOP And The City has a suggestion. (HT: Power Line.)

Quote of The Day

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd., writing in the Washington Post Monday:

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.
Okay, that's a good reason to pursue nuclear energy. But in addition to saving the planet, how about saving the United States from a potentially ruinous dependence on petroleum from unstable Middle Eastern regimes?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Illegal Immigration: What The Hard-Core Conservative Opposition Thinks

Take a look at this PoliPundit post and you'll get a pretty good summary. Be sure to read the comments, too. They capsulize pretty well the debate within conservatism over the immigration issue.

Fred Barnes thinks the modern Know-Nothings like PoliPundit have lost the debate, and that Republican opinion has already swung toward President Bush's enforcement + guest workers approach. As I posted a couple of weeks ago, there's lots of evidence to support that view. what I find surprising is that many of the commenters at PoliPundit seem to regard anyone who supports a guest worker program to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only). That's how certain they are that their view represents the majority within the party.

This debate has taken place in American politics before, also among conservatives. As I posted earlier:

Many in the anti-guest worker bloc bristle when they are compared with the Know-Nothings, but the uncomfortable similarities are there. Notably, the Know-Nothings were out of business after only a couple of election cycles, and in 1860 a new national party called the Republicans elected to the presidency a man named Lincoln, who was a fierce critic of the Know-Nothings:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
In this blogger's opinion, we need to control the borders, normalize those who are here already, and have some faith in American culture and the English language to assimilate the newcomers. It is true that we run a great risk if we continue to allow unchecked illlegal immigration, because that seriously endangers assmilation. Is is toward such open, lawless immigration that the anger should be directed; it is there that we'll find the most important key to solving the problem. But if enough Republicans continue to insist that their agreement to a program for controlling the borders is conditioned on the total absence of a guest worker program, then we are allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good and we may well see the Democrats controlling Congress. What kind of immigration policy will we have then?

LA Times Exemplifies the Culture Gap

The headline of the feature story in the Los Angeles Times sounded intriguing, "Passover, Potlucks and Plagues," by Ashley Powers [link provided, but registration required]. An admirable attempt, I thought, by the much-and-deservedly maligned Times to expand its coverage of religion in American life. Then I read the story, and realized what a steep climb it will be for the Times to reach a religious-minded readership.

The story itself is entertaining--an account of the annual Passover seder in the desert conducted by Reform Jewish Temple Beth Hillel, of Valley Village (my neighborhood). Writer Powers also makes sure that the Times readers will understand the background of Passover, and recites that it commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egyptian, through Divine miracles culminating in the splitting of the Red Sea, "a story made famous in the movie, 'The Ten Commandments.' "

Until I read that line, I thought that "boggles the mind" was a figurative expression. But I actually felt my mind boggle. It somersaulted and temporarily froze. "Portrayed in the movie," would have been fine, but "made famous in the movie?" How vacuous, how clueless, how ahistorical could the Times writer be? The Bible, in its Jewish, Catholic and Protestant forms, is the best-selling book of all time. Every edition of which I am aware, unless it is limited to the New Testament, contains the story of the Exodus; in fact, a whole book of the Bible is named after it. I am sadly old enough to remember when the Charlton-Heston-as-Moses version of "The Ten Commandments" came out. I was in elementary school. All my friends already knew the story of the Exodus, whether they were Jewish or Christian.*

[*For those readers whose information only comes from the Los Angeles Times, "Christianity" is a religion whose followers believe in redemption through the crucifixtion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a story made famous by the movies "Ben Hur," "The Robe," "The Greatest Story Ever Told," and "The King of Kings."]

Then I thought, is it just the Los Angeles Times, or does this story accurately depict the mental furnishings of most Southern Californians? Has our society become so secularized and unliterary that stories with which our parents and grandparents were intimately familiar are now "made famous" by movies and television, if known at all? Reader input would be welcome.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

ROTC: A Parent's View

If you are now, or have ever been, or ever will be, the parent of a college-age child who's interested in military service, read this piece by Blake Hurst in the American Enterprise.

Teaser excerpt:

[W]e made it clear that we wouldn’t mortgage the farm (literally) to send [our son] to school. So he decided to enroll in Army ROTC . . . .
Please read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Unnerving Quote of The Day

There comes a point for some unfortunate presidents when the American people begin to hit the mute button; they just stop listening. Or to put it differently, when the public turns strongly against an elected official on an issue, they begin to turn on that official on everything. In this case, Iraq has become a ball and chain for President Bush, weighing him down on every issue. The separation [in approval rating] between his weakest issue, Iraq, and his strongest, terrorism, is just five points.
--Political handicapper Charlie Cook, writing at

Here's hoping Bush can find a way to deal with this. I do not think the public has turned strongly against Bush on Iraq; they're restless with the way it's going but are not opposing him -- yet. Even so, all the recent White House pratfalls do not inspire much confidence in me that he can get out in front of the people on the war.

Health Insurance: Mitt and MA Show the Way?

Massachusetts Governor and G.O.P. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney writes in today's Opinion Journal about how Massachusetts has implemented a plan that promises to provide affordable health insurance for all of its citizens, without employer mandates or new taxes. If this plan works, Mitt and Mass. will have shown other States the path out of the healthcare insurance crisis, and Mitt will have enhanced his own political prospects.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Europe Hurtles Toward the Abyss

Mark Steyn, in The Jerusalem Post, continues to chronicle the decline and fall of the Continent.

Easter Music, Easter Thoughts

Easter Music

Easter Week is about to begin, and during an early-morning discussion today with my wife, the words of my all-time favorite hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," came to mind. That's the one I'd be pleased to have sung at my funeral:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
This biographical summary tells us a little about the author, Robert Robinson. The music is a beautiful traditional tune named "Nettleton," about which you can find more in Wyeth's Repostory of Sacred Music, Part Second, by John Wyeth. I've heard several hymns set to the same tune. As a congregational hymn "Come Thou Fount" is a little on the difficult side but most church choirs can handle it easily.

Easter Thoughts

This is another favorite, from the late Neal A. Maxwell, of whom Hugh Hewitt is a great admirer. It's full of quotable nuggets:

The gift of immortality to all is so choice a gift that our rejoicing in these two great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

Even those who see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.

Christ’s victory over death routs the rationale that there is a general and irreversible human predicament; there are only personal predicaments, but even from these we can also be rescued by following the pathway of Him who rescued us from general extinction.

A disciple’s “brightness of hope,” therefore, means that at funerals his tears are not because of termination, but because of interruption and separation. Though just as wet, his tears are not of despair, but of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door that will later be flung open.

It is the Garden Tomb, not life, that is empty!
Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, pp. 132-3

"Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness."

I love that. Happy Easter.

Friday, April 07, 2006

AP--Associated Press or Arab Propaganda?

This afternoon, Yahoo News posted this Associated Press story entitled, "Israeli Strike Kills 6; Palestinians Meet." The headline itself is loaded, but the story is worse. Carrying a byline of "Sarah El Deeb," nowhere in the story is there a hint of why Israel might have launched airstrikes in Northern Gaza. As far as a reader would know, it was unprovoked aggression by Israel. One has to look elsewhere, such as for example, this story from Arutz Sheva Israel National News Service, to find out the critical background facts:

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired two Kassams at the Negev last night (Thursday), following eight other rockets in the previous 24 hours. One Kassam hit the city of Sderot, causing no damage.Rocket fire from Gaza towards Israel has continually increased ever since Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer. The IDF reports that 430 Kassams have been fired since last summer, including 85 in March and 50 so far this month. Other reports have cited even higher totals. In addition to the recent introduction of 20-kilometer-range Katyusha rockets to the Gazan Arabs' arsenal, the accuracy and quality of the Kassams hitting Israel have improved.

Just imagine what the reaction of the United States would be if the government of Mexico allowed its territory to be used to launch 430 rockets plus sundry mortar shells at San Diego?

4/8/06 UPDATE: Our hapless local rag, the Los Angeles Times, followed the AP lead and printed virtually the same story, again without mentioning the provacation of recent rocket attacks that led to the Israeli airstrikes.

Do the Geneva Conventions Require Updating?

British Defense Minister John Reid, as cited by Daniel Henninger in a column in today's Opinion Journal, raises an important question: Must the Geneva Conventions be updated in an era where our enemies are non-uniformed terrorists, often striking at civilian targets? Mr. Reid may not yet have an answer, but he is asking the right question. It is important that political correctness and fear of criticism not suppress a free and open debate on this issue. For example, whether one agrees or disagrees with Alan Dershowitz, who has argued that under some circumstances a "torture warrant" might be justified, he has fostered public debate on an important topic.

Illegal Immigration: Where's The Fence?

As a charter member of Hugh Hewitt's Carrots and Fences Coalition, I was happy to hear that the Senate passed an immigration bill yesterday. My elation faded to deep disappointment when I learned that the Senate had essentially punted on the question of a security fence. Instead of a real fence, we have the promise of a "process" that will lead to fencing in high traffic areas.

What a disastrous cave-in. The first real chance to deal with the hottest and most vexing domestic issue of the last decade, and they are blowing it.

Hugh Hewitt's post is a must-read today. He once again raises his very sensible, very serious "Carrots and Fences" solution. (By the way, welcome, Hugh's readers!)

Charles Krauthammer is dead-on today:

This is no time for mushy compromise. A solution requires two acts of
national will: the ugly act of putting up a fence and the supremely generous act
of absorbing as ultimately full citizens those who broke our laws to come to

In my earlier post on this very subject, I noted:

Hugh Hewitt . . . links here to this Economist article, "Dreaming of The Other Side of The Wire," and urges comment and analysis. Here we go.

First, read the article. It accurately summarizes the debate as one that
runs a spectrum from the libertarian advocacy of open borders to the isolationist instinct to fence them off. Common ground, however, is that the present system of legal immigration does not work.

Granted, the system is broken. President Bush has proposed a comprehensive approach. Many of my conservative brethren have reacted with vehement opposition. Candidates up for re-election seem to fear upsetting those who oppose the Bush approach (many of whom know nothing about it other than what they have heard on talk radio shows).

So, I continue to ask, what is to be done? Many of the responses to my posts below were very interesting and quite encouraging because they reflected some good thinking and creative approaches to actually solving the problem in a way that honors the key principles at stake:

  • The rule of law
  • National security
  • National cohesion
  • Preservation of traditional values
As he is wont to do, Hugh has helped organize, aggregate, and synthesize the thinking on the issue and offers his idea, soon to be known everywhere as the "carrots and fences" approach; Hugh "favors both President Bush's plan for normalization of the 8 to 12 million illegals already here plus the construction of a border-length fence and highway to patrol it."

Now we're talking. Here's how I see this all fitting together.

Rule of Law And National Security: The Carrot

The Bush plan calls for using the guest worker concept - the carrot- to get a handle on the undocumented aliens here now. The idea is to know who they are and account for their presence. This is critical to the national security principle: It would be much harder for shadowy evildoers to slip into the USA. The plan is also crucial to restoring the rule of law: No more flouting the immigration laws, no more winking and nodding about hiring "illegals," no more underground undocumented immigrant economy. Also, those who were here illegally already when the plan is implemented would not benefit from that; they'd go to the back of the line for permanent resident status.

National Cohesion and Preservation of Traditional Values: The Stick

The Bush plan offers the carrot. But the missing piece is the "stick" Hugh proposes: A fence like the one on the California-Mexico border already, running the length of the border; and a highway, also running the length of the border, to allow Homeland Security to patrol it.

The fence/highway adds the missing piece to the Bush plan: The ability to show everyone-- American voters, Congress, foreign governments, and terrorists-- that the USA is really serious about maintaining border security.

Why is that so important? For one thing, there is considerable concern that the Bush guest worker program will morph into just another amnesty program. I share that concern. The 1986 amnesty did nothing to stem the unregulated tide of immigrants, and probably worsened it, giving hope to those who think that if they just stay here long enough, another amnesty will be granted. If voters and immigrants belief that will happen, any reform effort is doomed. A dramatic step like the fence and highway is necessary to put that belief to rest.

The article makes clear the extent to which the national attitude is both deeply concerned and somewhat ambivalent about the overall issue:

[M]ost Americans instinctively follow the view of Franklin Roosevelt that “all of us are descended from immigrants”. The consequence is a kind of general ambivalence. In a Washington Post poll carried out in January, 61% of the sample said illegal immigrants should be able to keep their jobs and apply for legal status. On the other hand, few Americans favour greater inflows: Gallup in January found that 7% want more immigration; 39% are happy with the current level; and 52% want less.

It's that 52% who want less immigration who won't support the carrot reform without a good stick to go with it. With such a stick, however, we can hold the conservative majority in the country together on this divisive issue (along with a substantial chunk of the center-left).

So the solution on the table right now: carrots and fences.

Yes, we are a nation of immigrants, but we should welcome as immigrants only people who want to come here and become Americans as soon as possible-- full-blown, English-speaking, 4th of July-celebrating, PTA-joining, contributing Americans. Others may come, but should be allowed to do so only with our permission and knowledge, subject to terms America has set. "Carrots and fences" is the best idea of seen yet that will make that happen. And yes, that approach will be expensive, but unless we demonstrate the national will to take that approach-- or something very much like it-- the USA in 25 years will be a much different kind of society than I believe the majority of Americans want it to be.


Jonathan Max Wilson has written a clear-eyed analysis of (1) the serious threat of continued unregulated illegal immigration and (2) the manner in which the Bush principles provide the solution. Read Jonathan's piece here at the GOPUSA site, or on Jonathan's own blog.

Also, Alan Caruba has a must-read reality check for anyone who really wants to know what's at stake in this debate and why we have to get the resolution right. If you've ever read Alan Caruba you know he is about as far from a bleeding heart liberal as anyone can get. His sobering and realistic piece is here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Quote of the Week

Fukuyama now says that he had secretly opposed the Iraq war before it was
launched. An unusual and convenient reticence, notes Irwin Stelzer, editor of
'The Neocon Reader,' for such an inveterate pamphleteer, letter writer and
essayist. After public opinion had turned against the war, Fukuyama then
courageously came out against it. He has every right to change his mind at his
convenience. He has no right to change what I said.

-- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, on Francis Fukuyama's new book, which gives an account of a Krauthammer speech in 2004. It's a good piece; read the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gaza Withdrawal Has Brought More War, Not Peace

The dire predictions of critics of the Gaza disengagement are being borne out in full. This story from the Jerusalem Post relates that Kassam rockets launched from Gaza today came uncomfortably close to hitting chemical plants in Ashkelon, Israel; had they hit their targets, the potentially resulting disaster might have resulted in a terrible loss of lives and property.

That prospect compelled the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate by rocketing targets in Gaza, including the Palestinian Authority's Presidential Palace there. The risk of a major armed conflict looms, which will dwarf in loss of Palestinian and Israeli lives the low level conflict that prevailed during the decades time that Israeli settlements were in Gaza.

All too often, the policies of the "Give Peace A Chance" crowd do not bring peace, but only more war and suffering. One only need consider how different history might have been had France and England responded with armed force, when Nazi Germany militarized the Rhineland in 1936, when Hitler and the Third Reich were not yet ready for total war. Millions of lives might have been saved at the cost of a few hundred. But the pacifists of France and Britain insisted on giving peace a chance, and continued to appease Hitler right through the betrayal of Czechoslavakia, until the invasion of Poland made World War II inevitable.

As the Defense Minister of Israel in 1982, Ariel Sharon pursued the opposite policy. He realized that Israel could not continue to sit idly by while the PLO built a state within a state in Lebanon, shielded by Syrian troops and anti-aircraft emplacements, and left alone by a hapless Lebanese government. He persuaded the Israeli government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin to launch an invasion of Lebanon, which was successful in ousting Yassir Arafat and the PLO from Lebanon. After the invasion, the nearest hostile armed Palestinian forces were in Tunis, thousands of miles from Israel.

Then Labor returned to power in Israel, and succeeding Labor governments under Rabin, Peres and Barak opted for "Peace Now" and to "give peace a chance." Israel unilaterally withdrew from Lebanon, and as a result Hezbollah maintains a hostile armed force, with artillery and missiles, on Israel's northern border, periodically shelling and rocketing the communities of northern Israel (and always threatening to do so). The Oslo Accords were signed less than 13 years ago. As a result, Yassir Arafat and his terrorists returned from their impotent exile in Tunis, and set up shop in the West Bank and Gaza. Hostile armed forces now also threaten Israel from the east and the south. The Oslo Accords have already resulted in the deaths of thousands of Israelis and, yes, Palestinian Arabs, and the maiming of tens of thousands more.

In political opposition at the time, Ariel Sharon opposed the Oslo Accords. Then, astonishingly, after becoming Prime Minister, in a seeming betrayal of the principles that guided his military and political careers, he pushed through a unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli settlements from Gaza. Beautiful towns were abandoned and bulldozed into rubble. Families lost their homes, their farms and their businesses. And in short order, as predicted by many, including this writer, Gaza became Hamasistan. The looming Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict will be a direct consequence of the Gaza withdrawal.

Iraq: The Wrong Time to Lose Our Nerve, a response to Messrs. Buckley, Will and Fukuyama

Today's Opinion Journal is a rich vein for bloggers to mine. This link is to the lead editorial, an answer written by Peter Wehner, Deputy Assistant to the President, to conservative critics of the Iraq war.

Islam's Imperial Dreams Opinion Journal today reprints an article from Commentary by Efraim Karsh, in which Karsh describes the historical imperial aspirations of Islam.

Illegal Immigration: An Uncomfortable Truth About Why Solutions Are So Controversial

I think Herbert Meyer is right about the reason why so many Americans are so unhappy about the illegal immigration solutions Congress is considering. He describes what seems to be a large chunk of the predominantly Hispanic illegal population:

They aren't immigrants - which is what neither the Democratic or Republican leadership seems to understand, or wants to acknowledge. They have come here solely for jobs, which isn't the same thing at all. (And many of them have come here illegally.) Whether they remain in the U.S. for one year, or ten years - or for the rest of their lives - they don't conduct themselves like immigrants. Yes, they work hard to put roofs above their heads and food on their tables - and for this we respect them. But they have little interest in learning English themselves, and instead demand that we make it possible for them to function here in Spanish. They put their children in our schools, but don't always demand as much from them as previous groups demanded of their kids. They don't always pay their taxes - or insure their cars.

In short, they aren't playing by the rules that our families played by when they immigrated to this country. And to ordinary Americans this behavior is deeply - very deeply - offensive. We see it unfolding every day in our communities, and we don't like it. This is what none of our politicians either understands, or dares to say aloud. Instead, they blather on - and on - about "amnesty" and "border security" without ever coming to grips with what is so visible, and so offensive, to so many of us - namely, all these foreigners among us who aren't behaving like immigrants.
For a large portion of the American people, I think this concern seethes deep below the surface of their views on the immigration issue (and for many people, not so deep). That's why all the Mexican flags in the demonstrations infuriate so many observers (including me). Please, come to America and contribute - but don't just come here, become an American!

I wonder if intelligent politicians could not put themselves in a stronger position on this issue by empahsizing assimilation as the primary goal of immigration policy. That, it seems to me, is the fundamental issue. Sadly, it will have to be a subject for another post.

Olmert Buys Peretz With Defense Portfolio

Coalition wheeling and dealing continues in Israel, reports the Jerusalem Post. The bid by Amir Peretz to form a left-right coalition, leaving out Kadima in the middle, fell flat when he lost support for his idea in his own Labor Party. Ehud Olmert then felt comfortable enough to be generous. Ignoring calls from his Kadima Party advisors to punish Peretz for trying to do an end run around Kadima, Olmert offered Peretz the post of Defense Minister. The fact that Peretz has no significant military experience is secondary to the "Let's Make a Deal" atmosphere prevailing as Olmert progresses toward a wide coalition. He will try to seduce the right-wing secular nationalist party Yisrael Beeiteinu into the government by offering the head of that party, Avigdor Lieberman, an important ministry. He met with representatives of the religious nationalist party, National Union-National Religious Party and spoke soothing words of national unity. The Hareidi (fervently religious Orthodox Jewish) parties are now publicly recalling how nicely Olmert treaded their communities when he was Mayor of Jerusalem, and they will recommend to Israeli President Katsav that he designate Olmert to try to form the next government. There were even rumors that Olmert would offer Benjamin Netanyahu (who at this point badly needs a political life preserver) the post of Foreign Minister if he would bring Likud into the coalition. The rumors were promptly denied by Kadima officials, which means that they probably are true. If this trend continues, Kadima will head a broad coalition that includes nearly everyone and will stand for nothing. The Hedgehog Blog

Monday, April 03, 2006

Jihadist Government--The Danger of Ignoring Hamas

Caroline Glick, in the Jerusalem Post, explores the dangers of ignoring the rise to power of the first jihadist government since the Taliban:

HAMAS'S RISE to power renders it all but impossible to deny the connection between the insurgency in Iraq and the global jihad in general and the Palestinian war with Israel. Indeed, in his first statement as foreign minister, Mahmoud Zahar attacked the US claiming, "America is committing big crimes against the Arab and Islamic countries."

Read the whole column.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Breaking News! Labor's Peretz, Not Kadima's Olmert, May Be Next Israeli Prime Minister

In an astonishing example of the adage, "Politics makes strange bedfellows," an Israeli right-wing party, National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP), today requested that Israel's President, Moshe Katzav, select Labor's Amir Peretz, not Kadima's Ehud Olmert, to make the initial effort at forming a new coalition goverment. Another nationalist right-wing party, Yisrael Beeitenu, announced its neutrality on the question of whether Labor or Kadima should form the next government. This development follows a call by Labor's Peretz for "an emergency coalition without Kadima," as reported here by Arutz Sheva (Channel 7), the independent Israeli nationalist radio and news service.

The coalition proposed by the Labor Party would include two parties of the left, Labor and Meretz, with two Hareidi (fervently religious Orthodox Jewish) parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, and the nationalist right-wing parties, Yisrael Beeiteinu and NU-NRP. It would control 62 seats, a slim majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Such a right-left coalition is possible because of Labor's insistence that further withdrawals from Yehuda and the Shomron (the so-called "West Bank") be made only in the context of bilateral negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. With Hamas governing the Palestinians, the anti-withdrawal parties of the right are more comfortable with Labor's position, which they doubt would result in further withdrawals, than they are with the Kadima policy of unilateral withdrawal from territory.

Under Israeli law, the President, who is the head of state, but not the head of government, selects the party he views as most likely to be able to form a new government to make the initial attempt at putting together a ruling coalition. If a coalition is successfully formed, the head of the lead party in that coalition becomes the new Prime Minster.

This possible astonishing turnabout might prove particularly embarrassing for the Mainstream Media Elites in the United States and Israel, who even before Israel's election this past Tuesday, March 28, had trumpeted an impending victory of historic proportions for the new Kadima Party, formed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prior to his stroke. This was to be the political vindication for Sharon's policy of unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians, the policy that led to the mass expulsion of Jews from the Gaza Strip and the destruction of the decades-old Jewish settlements there. It also was supposed to mark the emergence for the first time in Israeli history of a non-ideological centrist party, as proclaimed just prior to the election by Kadima's Meir Sheetrit.

President Katsav may still select Kadima's Olmert to try to form a government, since it won more Knesset seats than any other party. Indeed, Labor's chances of being selected to form a government declined on Sunday, despite the NU-NRP endorsement, when the Cental Electoral Commission, citing wrongful disqualification of some hundreds of votes for an Arab party, took one Knesset seat from Labor and awarded it to the Arab party, reducing Labor's total to 19 mandates. Nonetheless, some of the bloom has definitely faded on the Kadima rose, which has suffered a decline from projections of 40 or more Knesset seats, back in January following Sharon's stroke, to only 29 seats based on the final election results.

Moreover, the very public airings of ill-will between Kadima and Labor call into question whether Kadima's Olmert, if selected to form a coalition, would be successful. If President Katsav believes that to be the case, or if he selects Olmert, and Olmert is unable to form a coalition, the next Prime Minister of Israel may indeed be Labor's Amir Peretz.

Should this surprising possibility actually occur, remember that you read about it first on The Hedgehog Blog.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Illegal Immigration: There Is No Public Consensus On Reform

I continue to be amazed at the yawning gap between what Americans really think about illegal immigration and what the extremes - both liberal and conservative-- seem to think. What is even more amazing is that some conservatives (Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity) continue to claim, loudly, that their voice is the one Congress and President Bush should listen to, and that they are the ones who really know what "The American People" think.

Nonsense. Look at these polling data from the Pew Research Center. As the graph at left shows, Republicans of all stripes are divided -- even fractionalized-- on the issue. Remarkably, 42%, a plurality-- and almost a majority-- of Republicans think illegals should be given some kind of temporary status. Conservative Republicans are more in favor of temporary status, with 46% in that category-- more than any other subset of the party.

There is much to say about these numbers, but perhaps their most important message is that the immigration issue is politically complex and there is no clear consensus about the proper approach. Those conservatives who predict that if guest worker-type legislation is enacted, many conservatives will stay home on election day, should re-think their position. Do they really want to hand Congress over to to the Democrats because Congress did not cater to the views of 28% of Republicans on this issue?

Democracy is messy. Clear-cut black and white solutions, although often preferable, are rare. Sometimes creativity and compromise are necessary. These are uncomfortable truths.

I'm a Reagan Republican. I believe Reagan understood those truths, and that his life showed he accepted the principle of compromise when he did not have a majority behind him on a given issue. Those who consider Reagan their model in such matters should ask themselves honestly what he would do in these circumstances. Would not the man who spoke of the "city shining on the hill" also want to find a way to allow hard-working people who want to come to this country and are willing to earn their citizenship to do so? Would he not approve of a requirement that the illegal immigrants among those people admit their wrongdoing, pay a fine, pay back taxes, and go to the back of the line for citizenship?

I think he would. His was not an angry, strident voice, like those we are hearing on the radio now (and reading on the blogosphere) on this issue. Reagan had a sunny, optimistic voice. Let's listen to it now.

UPDATE: George F. Will wrote persuasively Thursday about this issue, from a conservative standpoint:

[C]onservatives should favor reducing illegality by putting illegal
immigrants on a path out of society's crevices and into citizenship by paying
fines and back taxes and learning English. Faux conservatives absurdly call this
price tag on legal status "amnesty." Actually, it would prevent the emergence of
a sullen, simmering subculture of the permanently marginalized, akin to the Arab
ghettos in France. The House-passed bill, making it a felony to be in the
country illegally, would make 11 million people permanently ineligible for legal
status. To what end?

Indeed. Read the whole thing. Also read Jack Kelly's piece today, which is right on the money.

UPDATE 2: Here's an interesting take on the rule of law and immigration.