Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What Makes Elective Abortion Especially Disgusting

Consider this story from the Sunday Times:

MORE than 20 babies have been aborted in advanced pregnancy because scans showed that they had club feet, a deformity readily corrected by surgery or physiotherapy.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics covering the years from 1996 to 2004, a further four babies were aborted because they had webbed fingers or extra digits, which are also corrected by simple surgery. All the terminations took place late in pregnancy, after 20 weeks.

Last year, according to campaigners, a healthy baby was aborted in the sixth month at a hospital in southeast England after ultrasound images indicated part of its foot was missing.
Some things in life are simply indefensible. These acts are the living, walking, breathing definition of that word.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rockets from Gaza

Imagine that you lived in Nogales, Arizona, or El Paso, Texas, or Chula Vista or Imperial Beach, California, and every week several missiles resembling the ones pictured here were launched from across the border with Mexico and landed on your apartment building, or on the grounds of your children's school. Imagine that the government of Mexico allowed terrorist groups to operate openly along its border with the United States, and refused to disarm or subdue the terrorist gangs. Imagine that some of the terrorist gangs were actually militias answerable to prominent Mexican government officials. Would our government permit such a situation to continue? How long would it be before United States armed forces entered Mexico, attacking those terrorist groups by land and from the air?

That is exactly the situation in the Negev region in the south of Israel, adjacent to the Gaza Strip. Four Kassam missiles, such as the expended ones pictured above, fell on the town of Sderot on Wednesday morning. (It is already Wednesday morning in Israel as I write this on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.) Miraculously, the only injuries were to bystanders who suffered from shock at the near misses. One missile even landed on gas cannisters, which in Israel provide natural gas to apartment buildings--they did not explode, or serious injuries and loss of life would have surely occurred. Another missile damaged buildings on a kibbutz. On Sunday, a Kassam struck an Israeli army base in the Negev, but failed to explode. The week before, a Kassam hit a schoolyard. (That is the missile in the photo on the right.) In addition to these missile barrages, Palestinian terrorist gangs operating from Gaza continually launch smaller Katyusha rockets into Israel. An account of the recent attacks appears here in Wednesday morning's Jerusalem Post.

This is the part of the price of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. Prior to that withdrawal, the Palestinians were unable to smuggle large Kassam rockets across the Israeli patrolled border. There were Katyusha attacks and motar barrages to be sure, but they were aimed at Israeli army posts inside Gaza and at the settlements there. The settlers in Gaza bravely accepted such attacks as part of their routine, as the price they were paying to settle part of the Land of Israel.

Keep in mind that all of the present Palestinian attacks are aimed at towns and targets within the 1967 boundaries of Israel. They are not launched at "the occupiers." Gaza is entirely free of Israeli occupation--its residents now suffer only from occupation by their own armed competing criminal gangs (which our press calls "militias"). Gaza is run by war lords.

If Prime Minister Olmert proceeds with his plan for a unilateral withdrawal from portions of Yehuda and Shomron (the so-called "West Bank"), the daily barrages of Kassams and Katyushas will become part of the routine in Israel's narrow, densely populated coastal strip, not just the sparely populated Negev region.

An Immigration Compromise?

Not much time to blog much about this now, but people are talking compromise on immigration. Here are a couple of currently-percolating ideas.

The Pence Proposal

First, Rep. Mike Pence has a proposal that might gain some steam and provide a way out of the current immigration impasse. His idea is set forth in full here. John Fund provides the political analysis here, and summarizes the Pence solution this way:

His proposal . . . would have the U.S. government contract with gold-standard private employment agencies such as Kelly Services to establish offices called Ellis Island Centers in countries that supply the most illegal alien labor today. The centers would provide an incentive for illegals to leave the country and apply for guest-worker visas in the U.S. that would be granted within a week by matching workers with jobs employers can't fill with American workers. They would also make criminal and other background checks. Guest workers would be able to apply for citizenship, but they would have to follow current rules with no favoritism over those now waiting legally in line.

"It would encourage illegal aliens to self-deport and come back legally as guest workers," says Mr. Pence. "They would benefit from no longer living in fear or in the shadows of life and they could return home for visits. And since employers who hired anyone without such a visa would face stiff fines, it would make it increasingly difficult over time for those who weren't legal guest workers to get jobs."

Well, it might work, for now. Pence certainly deserves credit for actually leading, rather than simply shouting platitudes.

The "Enforcement Trigger" Proposal

No one has come up with such a proposal yet, but I've been meaning to blog about it, "when I get around to it." Some commentators have touched on the idea, as in John McIntire's Real Clear Politics piece today:
Republicans need to craft a compromise that puts in place a program to shut down the illegal flow, which upon the proven success of dramatically halting illegal immigration will trigger a process that provides a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegals who have been here for years. This is the type of broad-based compromise that the majority of the American people can support and it will put the onus on the Democrats to put up or shut up about whether they are serious about halting illegal immigration. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, pass an enforcement bill providing that once certain enforcement targets are met, a citizenship pathway opens up. That might just work.

McIntyre has this sage advice too:
Tactically, however, Congressional Republicans should change focus in how they attack the Senate bill, away from the "pathway to citizenship" or "amnesty" issue and instead concentrate on the commitment to halt illegal immigration. This is not a small point, but rather a critically important distinction in the public relations battle.

From the Republican standpoint, the core of the argument over the next few weeks (and in this fall's election) needs to be the seriousness of stopping the illegal flow over the border, not about a pathway to citizenship. If Republicans make a pathway to citizenship the primary issue, they are making a serious mistake because this comes across to the Hispanic community as mean-spirited and anti-immigrant.
I wish I had said that. I guess I've been trying to say it for months, however ineffectely. Which should be a reminder to me that I'm no pundit, just a lawyer with itchy typing fingers.

A Memorial Day Reflection: Patriotism And The Iraq War

As I posted about a month ago, John Kerry recently gave an address in which he stated that
Americans have a duty to speak out against a war that is sacrificing lives on the ''altar of stubborn pride." (Emphasis added.)
I thought that was a very honest statement, the first such I have heard from Kerry since 1971.

I am not making any comment at all about anyone's patriotism. There's been too much of that. But I do think some honesty about the war is in order.

It's not unpatriotic to say that a war is mistaken and that neither American soldiers nor innocent civilians should be losing their lives in it.

It was not unpatriotic when Kerry said, in 1971, "How do you ask someone to be the last man to die for a mistake?" I think he was sadly and outrageously mistaken, but not unpatriotic.

At least he had the courage of his convictions and said something that was very unpopular, and which has haunted him, as it should, to this day. Words matter, after all, and we should all be willing to be held accountable for what we say-- especially formal public statements about weighty matters.

I think the liberal anti-war view is honorable and easy to state:
The war is a mistake and these young Americans' lives are being wasted. I honor their commitment to duty and their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We should bring them home and not risk their precious lives again until we have a worthy cause.
If the Democrats in Congress, and Democrats who want to be president, would take that position, we could have a real debate in this country over what we ought to be doing. Instead all we are getting is invective on both sides, but primarily from frustrated liberals.

I think many of the anti-war liberals lack the courage of their convictions. Those liberals fear that if they say, as Kerry did, that soldiers are dying for nothing but "stubborn pride," that the soldiers' lives are being wasted, they will suffer politically.

Maybe they will (and I think they certainly should), but an open debate on the war would be useful for the country.

I went to the Los Angeles National Cemetery last Saturday and was with about 1,000 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who were placing flags on the 82,000 graves there. (Photo above.) I stood at graves of men who were killed in action in their 20's and wondered if any of them had died on a mission that was a dumb mistake, or from friendly fire.

There are two approaches one could take to such tragedies: That those mens' lives were wasted for nothing; or that they died doing their duty and are heroes. Both are honorable views of the situation, I think-- even though I disagree with the first view with all my heart and mind.

I'd just rather see those two views debated openly and honestly, instead of hearing endlessly that the war is just an exercise in "stubborn pride," or about Halliburton; or about Abu Ghraib speeches on the floor of the Senate that compare American soldiers to the operators of Soviet gulags; the apparent atrocity of Haditha and claims of a cover-up (coming from people like Congressman Murtha, who should know better).

Such a debate might even be healing, in a way. Whether it is or not, it would certainly better than all the ad hominem invective we've been subjected to for the last three years.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"The 8th of November"--Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel: Winner of the Medal of Honor

Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on February 22, 1928. He served his country in Korea and Vietnam. As a United States Army Medical Corpsman, serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade on November 8, 1965, during Operation Hump in War Zone D in Vietnam he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. His citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp6c. Joel demonstrated indomitable courage, determination, and professional skill when a numerically superior and well-concealed Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly every man in the lead squad of the company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gunfire, he bravely moved forward to assist others who were wounded while proceeding to their objective. While moving from man to man, he was struck in the right leg by machine gun fire. Although painfully wounded his desire to aid his fellow soldiers transcended all personal feeling. He bandaged his own wound and self-administered morphine to deaden the pain enabling him to continue his dangerous undertaking. Through this period of time, he constantly shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then, completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his pain, he continued his search for wounded, exposing himself to hostile fire; and, as bullets dug up the dirt around him, he held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. Then, after being struck a second time and with a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of one man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As 1 of the platoons pursued the Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the platoon and wounded many more soldiers. With a new stock of medical supplies, Sp6c. Joel again shouted words of encouragement as he crawled through an intense hail of gunfire to the wounded men. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. Joel never lost sight of his mission as a medical aidman and continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under most adverse conditions was an inspiration to all. Sp6c. Joel's profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

President Lyndon Johnson presented Specialist 6th Joel with the Medal of Honor on March 9, 1967. Lawrence Joel was the first living African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Spanish American War, although that fact sadly probably testifies only to the tragic legacy of racism in the miliary during the Jim Crow era. There were certainly surviving African American war heroes in the two World Wars and Korea who merited the Medal of Honor but were never recognized.

Lawrence Joel died on February 4, 1984, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetary.

The action in which Lawrence Joel won the Medal of Honor took place during Operation Hump in War Zone D. On November 8, 1965, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigage, was ambushed by a superior force of over 1200 Viet Cong. 48 American soldiers died that day. Their battalion furiously defended themselves, killing 403 of the enemy. "The 8th of November" is a beautiful and touching song by country music artists Big and Rich, about that battle. Big and Rich composed the song about their friend Niles Harris, a veteran of the 173rd Airborne, who was wounded that day. A music video of the song may be found at "A Mom and her Blog." There is an introduction by Kris Kristofferson, who relates the story of Specialist 6th Lawrence Joel and the song. (Hat tip to Annika's Journal, for linking the site.)

Remembering Private First Class Harold C. Agerholm

Who remembers a soldier who bravely lost his life at age 19? There are no children to tell his story; his parents are long gone. I am sure his five siblings, four younger than he, have told his story to his soldier's nieces and nephews.

I am confident there are other ceremonies or newspaper accounts where his name and deeds are mentioned.

At least, I hope so.

We'll do our small part today to help remember Harold C. Agerholm, one very young man from Wisconsin, whose photo is at left. Here is what we know of his story, from The Center of Military History's Medal of Honor site:


Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Born: 29 January 1925, Racine, Wis. Accredited to: Wisconsin. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 4th Battalion, 10th Marines, 2d Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan, Marianas Islands, 7 July 1944. When the enemy launched a fierce, determined counterattack against our positions and overran a neighboring artillery battalion, Pfc. Agerholm immediately volunteered to assist in the efforts to check the hostile attack and evacuate our wounded. Locating and appropriating an abandoned ambulance jeep, he repeatedly made extremely perilous trips under heavy rifle and mortar fire and single-handedly loaded and evacuated approximately 45 casualties, working tirelessly and with utter disregard for his own safety during a grueling period of more than 3 hours. Despite intense, persistent enemy fire, he ran out to aid 2 men whom he believed to be wounded marines but was himself mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper while carrying out his hazardous mission. Pfc. Agerholm's brilliant initiative, great personal valor and self-sacrificing efforts in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Private Agerholm was five months past his 19th birthday when he died. He was the oldest son of his widowed mother, Rose Agerholm. Mrs. Agerholm was presented the Medal of Honor by the Commandant of the Ninth Naval District, because she "didn't want any public presentation."

It turns out that Private Agerholm has been remembered. The destroyer USS Agerholm (DD-826) was named after him, as was a middle school in his home town of Racine, Wisconsin. I hope the children who attend that school are told, from time to time, about the man whose name is above the front door.

If Memorial Day has any purpose at all, it is to remember those who have served in the defense of our freedoms. Take a few minutes and visit the Center of Military History's site and reflect today on some of those men.

As you do so, you might ask yourself, as I do: How many more stories like this have never even been told because those involved did not survive to tell them?

Have a great Memorial Day, and God bless America.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

In Which We Express Disappointment with Power Line

This morning's Power Line post by John Hinderaker is entitled "Immigration Prospects Brightening." A reader might think that John is reporting on progress toward viable legislation, but he means that the Senate bill's prospects are "dimming." In other words, he's cheering for the failure of the Senate bill.

I hope I am wrong, but it seems that Power Line has adopted the hard-line position: No immigration bill this year unless it does not go beyond the House's "enforcement only" approach.

What is most interesting, and disappointing, about Power Line's position is that John claims the House's obstructionist position is based on the House's sensitivity to "the will of the American people."

I don't think so. What is happening is that Republican members of Congress are responding to a slice of voters in their districts who are adamantly opposed to any earned citizenship for illegal aliens. These are the purists: They want all illegals now in the U.S. to return to their home countries and wait in line to return. Period. Adherents of this view have so far been reluctant to come right out and say what they want, but they have been getting bolder and bolder as time has passed.

Let's be clear: That group is not "the American people." It's a slice of about 30% of Republicans who feel that way, if you believe this poll by Pew Research. But it's a loud, activist bunch of Republicans. In short, congressmen and congresswomen, and more than a few senators, simply don't want to anger an important group among their base of support, who have threatened to punish the solons if they do not toe the line on this issue. It's that simple.

Okay, politics are politics. That's the way a representative democracy works. Realistically, it doesn't look like the Senate bill is going to be passed. That's fine with me; neither I nor those who agree with me on immigration think the bill is perfect. I don't think anyone, even the White House, thought the Senate bill would become law without substantial revision.

Still, I would like to see the following provisions survive:

  • Serious border enforcement, including the House's 700 mile fence, not the shorter Senate proposal, which is a little over 300 miles long.
  • Deportation of criminals and recent arrivals, without exception.
  • Some kind of earned legalization that screens out undesirables and recent arrivals, and that reflects the humane American spirit, so that the GOP doesn't end up being painted as the anti-Hispanic party.
  • The earned legalization (or "amnesty," if you insist on calling it that) could be phased in, e.g., it could begin only when certain enforcement targets are met, or after two years, or something like that. If Jim Sensenbrenner has his way, however, any kind of earned legalization is a deal-breaker. I think this approach is short-sighted (apart from being downright stupid).
I would like to see the following provisions deep-sixed:

  • Allowing illegals to collect Social Security as if they had been here legally.
  • Unacceptably high quotas for immigration of unskilled workers, the highlighting of which has has made this fellow from the Heritage Foundation a star on conservative talk radio, where hosts use interviews with him to stir up their audiences (that 30% noted above) into a frenzy over how the American way of life is about to end as a result. (Oh, but there are some who are a little less hysterical about that report and actually question the Heritage author's math. Oh, bother! Whom to believe? But is there any doubt in your mind whom the 30% group believes?)
  • A guest worker program that adds so much bureacracy that it's not worth the effort. This is something the conference committee will need to hash out.
If the 30% factor has its way, there will be no guest worker program at all and no earned citizenship. I think the Republicans need to show they can make sensible policy that they can also run on. We'll see if they're up to that.

Et Tu, Hamid? Afghan President Karzai Cozies Up to Iran's President Ahmadinejad

The REUTERS caption to this photo read, "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) greets his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in Tehran, Iran May 27, 2006." At Yahoo News!, one may view lots of other news photos of Karzai in Iran, posing with Ahmadinejad and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (with a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini on the wall in the background). Those same photos are no doubt being rapidly disseminated throughout the Islamic world, in which Ahmadinejad is seen as the heroic foe of the Great Satan, the United States of America.

Hamid Karzai is the man whose country the United States helped free from the Taliban. Hamid Karzai is the man who the United States then supported to become the first President of a liberated Afghanistan.

Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is the President of a country that the world believes is moving as rapidly as possible to obtain nuclear weapons. He is promoting himself as the leader of the Islamic jihad against the United States. He has advocated wiping Israel off the map. It is widely suspected that his regime supports insurgents in Iran, in order to destabilize the US-supported national unity government there, and provoke civil war. The Iranian goal is either to create a Shia-dominated Iraq friendly to Iran, or an independent Shia state in what is now the southern half of Iraq. Ahmadinejad's regime provides funds to buy the explosives that kill American troops in Iraq. He no doubt would love to provide the same assistance in Afghanistan. The United States has no more formidable enemy in the world than Ahmadinejad and his regime.

The purpose of Karzai's visit is reportedly to encourage Iranian business investment in Afghanistan. Afghanistan and Iran historically have close ties. I am sure that the Iranian investment funds are badly needed. But why now, why now of all times? Is this the gratitude the U.S. receives for liberating Afghanistan?

It is at least possible that Karzai's visit to Iran was blessed by the Bush Administration. President Bush may even have requested that Karzai serve as a backdoor conduit for a diplomatic overture.

But unless and until we know that to be the case, all I can utter is, "Et tu, Hamid?"

Egyptian-born Journalist: "Israel is mistaken if it thinks Hamas will change"

Prominent Egyptian-born editor Magdi Allam, who has been living in Italy for the past 30 years, serves as deputy editor of Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper. Over the past few years he has won the admiration of many in the West for his open and daring criticism of radical Islam. In his writings and public appearances he has even gone as far as attacking what he describes as the weakness of the West in the face of radical Islam. Allam was recently in Israel, to accept the $1,000,000 Dan David journalism award, which he shared with three other journalists. Khaled Abu Toameh, an Palestinian Arab reporter for the Jerusalem Post, interviewed Allam, who did not hesitate to criticize what he perceived as the naivete of Israel in believing that it will ever be able to negotiate with Hamas. He warned Israel against believing that Hamas would one day change its radical and dangerous ideology. Hamas's terrorism against Israel, he explained, is ideological terrorism. "They simply want to destroy Israel and that's all," he said. "That's why there's no point in talking to them."

Responding to the argument that Israel should accept the invitation of Hamas to discuss a hudna, or ceasefire, Allam stated:

When it talks only about a hudna, it is actually saying that it doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist. It is not talking at all about peace and a just and permanent solution, as we all want for the sake of the two people.
What does a hudna mean? From an Islamic point of view, the hudna only means a temporary cessation of war activities. It is based on the Hudaibiyah example, when the Prophet Muhammed preferred not to enter Mecca. He waited for one year to prepare new forces to invade Mecca and occupy it. This hudna does not mean recognition of the other side and its right to exist. It only means winning some time to prepare for achieving what they really want.
When we examine Hamas's ambitions, we see that its constitution calls for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state based on the sharia law. I don't believe we can allow Hamas to reach its goal because this means the destruction of Israel. And it would also harm the Palestinians themselves. Hamas's strategy won't lead the Palestinians to statehood and peace based on coexistence alongside Israel.

Read the entire interview here. Incidentally, regarding Mr. Toameh, the Palestinian Arab reporter for the Jerusalem Post, can you imagine reading the by-line of a Jewish reporter, much less an Israeli Jewish reporter, in any newspaper anywhere in the Arab world?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Quote of The Day

William Kristol:

[People] can talk themselves into a frenzy about illegal immigration, of course. But on this issue, the Senate managed--contrary to the conventional wisdom of
late April--easily to pass a sensible and comprehensive immigration reform bill. And House Republicans now show some signs of coming to realize that talk radio is not always the best source of policy guidance. Enough of them may come to realize that passing legislation they regard as flawed would be better than going home to the voters having achieved nothing. So Bush could have an immigration reform signing ceremony to look forward to in the fall.

"Talk radio is not always the best source of policy guidance." I love that.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Republican Divide

Harold Hutchison's post at Called As Seen, whether you agree with it or not (and I agree with almost all of it), shows how sharp the divide between the center-right and the right is within the party. It's sad to watch, and I hope it does not result in the catastrophes of earlier years -- as I noted in my comment to Harold's post.

Memorial Day Weekend Thought: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

From the famous Memorial Day speech by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., a veteran of the Civil War:

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching. More than that, you must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. All that is required of you is that you should go somewhither as hard as ever you can. The rest belongs to fate. One may fall-at the beginning of the charge or at the top of the earthworks; but in no other way can he reach the rewards of victory.

[Y]ou must be willing to commit yourself to a course, perhaps a long and hard one, without being able to foresee exactly where you will come out. A notion worth pondering now, when we are at war once again.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hugh Hewitt, John Podhoretz, And A Hedgehog Discuss Mitt Romney

Yesterday I once again found myself in a traffic jam on I-5 during Hugh's show. He was interviewing John Podhoretz (photo at left) and I could not restrain my dialing finger. Once I got through I didn't do much other than ask a question that Hugh had forgotten to ask the last time he had J-Pod on his show.

In an interview on NRO's Corner, Podhoretz had said:

As for Mitt Romney, I just don’t think the nation is ready for a Mormon president (and by the way, I say that as an observant Jew who doesn’t think the nation is ready for a Jewish president either).

I asked Podhoretz about that. His response, and Hugh's follow-up, are quite interesting. I have further comments about this over on Article6blog, which I hope you will visit. The plain, unvarnished transcript is on Radio Blogger.

The Anchoress Has A Must-Read On Bush And The Base

The Anchoress has written a gem of a post entitled "The Essential President Bush." I wish every conservative who's unhappy with the president would read it.

You must read it, and I mean must. I'm begging you to do so.

Here's a taste:
A much-esteemed, long-neglected friend sent an email this morning, which was delightful to recieve. At one point he mentioned this post from yesterday and wrote: I think (President Bush) has lost his bearings. but then, so did Moses from time to time, it’s quite

That made me wonder a little - has President Bush lost his bearings, or have we? Is it President Bush who has broken faith with “his base” or have they?
She includes these quotes from Ronald Reagan:
When I began entering into the give and take of legislative bargaining in Sacramento, a lot of the most radical conservatives who had supported me during the election didn’t like it.

Compromise was a dirty word to them and they wouldn’t face the fact that we couldn’t get all of what we wanted today. They wanted all or nothing and they wanted it all at once. If you don’t get it all, some said, don’t take anything.

I’d learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for. And I agreed with FDR, who said in 1933: "I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average."

If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later, and that’s what I told these radical conservatives who never got used to it.

Now, I am sure I have just caused a blood pressure spike for many readers of this blog, and I apologize if I've upset you. You are, after all, my ideological brethren. We differ only as to methods. I ask you: Please, please, read the Anchoress' post. And please consider what Reagan suggests above. Then think once more about how best to achieve conservative goals, and how you plan to vote this fall.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gary Shandling on the Immigration Bill: Remember the Alamo!

Gary Shandling appeared on the Tonight Show last night, and host Jay Leno asked him his opinion of the Immigration Bill. I do not have a tape or transcript, but here is a rough paraphrase of Shandling's hilarious impromptu take on the border wall proposal:

"With all this advanced technology, it looks like we are going back to the Middle Ages or something and building a 30-foot wall. I mean, didn't we try that at the Alamo? Remember the movie, all those Mexicans climbing over the wall on those ladders? And when that happened, was the souvenier shop already there? I mean, could a Mexican soldier stop and buy a t-shirt that read "I illegally immigrated into the Alamo, and all I got was this crummy t-shirt?"

Yes, it's irreverent, and yes, it's a serious issue, but I'm sorry, we can all use a laugh break. Thank you, Gary Shandling.

Sign of the Times: Everest Climbers Pass by Dying Man to Reach Summit

Dennis Prager frequently relates one way in which he detected a dangerous decline in the value that our society puts on human life. In speeches to colleges, he would ask the audience to indicate by a show of hands, "If your pet dog and a stranger were drowning, and you only could rescue one of them, whom would you rescue?" The overwhelming majority signalled that they would choose their pet over a human stranger. Dennis argued that this outcome indicated a disturbing decline in morality in modern society.

This news story is another indication, and it is not a hypothetical case. Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two men to climb Mount Everest, was shocked when he heard that David Sharp, a climber from Guisborough, England, was left to die last week on his descent from the summit of the world's highest mountain, when he ran out of oxygen. It appears that some 40 other climbers, on their way to the Everest summit, saw him helpless and dying, and passed him by, refusing to abandon their chance to reach the highest place on earth merely to save the life of a fellow human being.

This case is reminiscent of, but perhaps even more shocking than another incident frequently cited by Dennis Prager, the murder of Kitty Genovese on a Queens, New York street in the early morning hours of March 13, 1964. The investigation of her murder revealed that some 34 people heard her screams and, in some cases, witnessed the attack from their windows, but did not intervene or call the police. She lay screaming, crying and bleeding on the street after the attacker broke off his initial attack, but still no one tried to render aid or call the police, until finally the assailant returned to complete her murder. The statement frequently made by the witnesses to investigators became a byword of the moral malaise that many believed America had entered: "We didn't want to get involved."

At least, one might argue, the witnesses of the Kitty Genovese murder realistically would have put themselves in harm's way by trying to rescue her (although that reasoning does not explain why no one called the police). Can the climbers who passed by the dying David Sharp say as much? Certainly, if several of the groups had abandoned their climb and combined oxygen cannisters, they might have succeeded at little physical risk in bringing Mr. Sharp down to a camp at a lower elevation.

Climbing Everest is no longer the feat achieved by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953. Though still demanding and dangerous, it has become more of a popular excursion, as demonstrated by the number of climbers on their way up to the summit at the time of Mr. Sharp's death. Not even a quest of fame and glory can be offered by those climbers as their reason for leaving Mr. Sharp to die. It was more like, "Well, helping him would have interrupted our trip."

One wonders whether the phenomena of wholesale abortion on demand and increasing public acceptance of euthanasia have contributed to a utilitarian view of human life, in which the value of saving a life can be outweighed by the inconvenience of the required effort.

"Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain," Hillary was quoted as saying in an interview with New Zealand Press Association. But Sir Edmund was raised and educated in an earlier era, when moral values were paramount.

"I think the whole attitude toward climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top," he told the newspaper.

Hillary later told New Zealand Press Association he would have abandoned his own pioneering climb in 1953 to save another life.

"It was wrong if there was a man suffering altitude problems and was huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say 'good morning' and pass on by," he said.

Ironically, the climbers who left David Sharp to die in order to reach the highest point on earth simultaneously reached the lowest depths of morality. Perhaps they would have acted differenly if the dying victim was not a stranger, but their pet dog.

Illegal Immigration: I'd Like Some Answers, Please

The name Ed Meese brings back happy memories of times gone by, so I read his op-ed in the New York Times today with great interest. Here's Meese's proposal for addressing illegal immigration:

The fair and sound policy is to give those who are here illegally the opportunity to correct their status by returning to their country of origin and getting in line with everyone else. This, along with serious enforcement and control of the illegal inflow at the border — a combination of incentives and disincentives — will significantly reduce over time our population of illegal immigrants.
I think this is essentially what my fellow conservatives want to see done too. If so, then I have these questions:

  • Politically, how are you going to sell this? You're asking the opposing side of the issue either to give up their demand for a guest worker program altogether, or to do so in return for a promise that we'll do "something," someday, about the illegals already here, but only after we've taken care of the enforcement problem. Meese says conservatives are "being offered [a] deal in exchange for promises largely dependent on the will of future Congresses and presidents." Well, isn't that what you're asking your opponents to accept-- a promise of future action in return for giving up on a major point?
  • Consider a man in his 20's who was brought here by his parents when he was 3 years old. He's grown up here, speaks English, can speak conversational Spanish but cannnot read or write it, and has graduated from college. He's married and has a couple of kids, who are American citizens because they were born here. He's never been to Mexico, or maybe has visited relatives there two or three times in his life. Do you really expect him to pick up and return to Mexico? What will the public reaction be to hundreds of thousands of such forced relocations? Do you want Republicans and conservatives to be identified with such personal tragedies, which will get endless news media attention? Note: I am not defending the situation of such a man; I am describing a reality that we have to deal with.
  • Do you know any American citizen who wants to go pick strawberries or lettuce all day in the hot sun for months at a time? This is a serious question, one that I don't think you can answer with a straight face. Drive around California's Central Valley and look at all the thousands of people doing such work. Where are you going to get their replacements?
  • Meese says "President Bush and Congress would do better to start with securing the border and strengthening enforcement of existing immigration laws. We might also try improving on Ronald Reagan's idea of a pilot program for genuinely temporary workers." Okay, let's hear more about that program for "genuinely temporary workers." I thought that was anathema to you all. Can you really live with such a program? How would you make it work? Details, please.
  • Do you have any close friends of Hispanic descent?
I sometimes think some conservatives get so hung up on principle that they become unrealistic and blind to the consequences of their often uncompromising approach.

Come back to the real world.

Please don't sanctimoniously ask me, "What part of illegal don't you understand?"

Tell me, what are your answers to the questions above?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Will The Immigration Debate of 2006 Do for The National GOP What Prop 187 Did for The Calfiornia GOP?

In 1994, Governor Pete Wilson got behind Proposition 187, descibed accurately here as

a ballot initiative designed to deny illegal immigrants
social services, health care, and public education. It
was introduced . . . as the Save Our State initiative. A number of other organizations were involved in bringing it to the voters. It passed with 59% of the vote, but was overturned by a federal court.

I remember being torn over how to vote on this measure. Jack Kemp opposed it, as did other "big tent" Republicans. In the final few days, in massive rallies against Prop 187, Mexican flags were everywhere. I made an emotional decision (a way of voting I hope I will never repeat) and voted for 187.

Even after the law was struck down by a pair of federal judges, the long-term impact of 187 was that the GOP (and Wilson) looked like Latino-bashers. Call it unfair, but that's what happened. Many analysts think the California GOP has never recovered.

Is the national GOP following the same path in 2006? Called As Seen brings this report from Time's Joe Klein to our attention:

There was some hope among Republican strategists, especially Karl Rove, that this formula might also work with the rapidly growing Latino vote and guarantee
a g.o.p. majority in perpetuity. "Rove had a point. My people are very conservative on social values," says Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat. "We're family oriented, a lot of small-business owners. But the Republicans have blown that opportunity now. Even the Pentecostals are sending busloads to the protests. Spanish-language radio is announcing the vote on every amendment to the Senate immigration bill. You've got a generation of young Latino citizens whose first political impression is that Republicans are people who want to deport their parents."

Now, Klein's a left-leaning writer, so we need a few grains of salt as we read his analysis. As for Congressman Gutierrez, we need a bucket of salt-- he is, after all, a Democrat and has every reason to make statements putting the Republicans in a bad light.

I just hope he's wrong.

Update: Commenter Tommy thinks it's demonstrably false that Pete Wilson's support of Prop 187 hurt the GOP here. Here's the link to the article on which Tommy relies for support. The author, Steve Sailer, also writes for the VDare blog, which I find a little scary. Take a look at VDare and decide if Sailer has more or less credibility because he's associated with it. Also, take a look at this post by Tacitus, one of the founders of RedState. If you're like me you'll squirm a little as you read about Mr. Sailer's outlook on life and race. (Thanks to commenter Harold Hutchison for that one.)

It seems to me undeniable that Latinos will be an important demographic group going forward. They're natural Republican voters: They are having large familes; they are overwhelmingly Catholic and would tend to side with Republicans on values issues; and they are hard-working and want a piece of the American dream. Republicans (and those conservatives willing to call themselves Republicans) ought to be asking themselves whether that growing segment of the electorate is coming our way or not, and whether a very hard line on what to do about illegals already here will attract Latinos or drive them away. Steve Sailer doesn't offer any evidence about that question.

IRAQ: Is the White House Finally Taking the Media Offensive?

"We were not strong enough to drive out a half-million American troops, but that wasn't our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue the war."--North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, in a 1990 interview with historian Stanley Karnow.

The Hedgehog, Brother Lowell, sagely permanently posted this quote in the side bar of our blog, to remind readers of a sad truth: The Vietnam War was not lost on the battlefield, but in the hearts and minds of the American people. More specifically, it was lost on the CBS Evening News, on February 27, 1968, following the Tet Offensive, when The Most Trusted Man in America, Walter Cronkite, said these words:

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.

(You may read Cronkite's entire broadcast editorial here.)

Good night, indeed. Cronkite's broadcast meant "Good Night, Vietnam." The Tet Offensive had been a devastating military failure for North Vietnam and the Vietcong. The North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong suffered crippling losses, while failing to hold a single significant objective against the counter attack by the United States and South Vietnamese forces. Decimation is too mild a word to describe the Vietcong losses, because it connotes only a 10% casualty rate. The Vietcong were never again a factor on the battlefield; the rest of the war was conducted almost entirely by North Vietnamese regular troops. The atrocities committed by the Communists in Hue and other cites were on display for the world to see. It should have been a military turning point.

Instead, it became the turning point of the propaganda campaign to demoralize the American war effort. Although the war continued for years, first the Johnson Administration, and then the Nixon Administration, became committed to a political solution, culminating in the January 1973 Paris Peace Accords, and the official withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam. Then, following the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of President Nixon, in December 1974, Congress completed passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off all military funding to the Saigon government and made unenforceable the peace terms negotiated by Nixon. It was as if the Democratic-dominated Congress wanted the government of South Vietnam to fall. This action practically invited an attempt by North Vietnam to conquer the South, which North Vietnam happily and quickly accepted. In January 1975, North Vietnam launched a massive, conventional invasion of the South, in flagrant violation of the Paris Peace Accords. Congress refused to lift a finger to enforce the accords, and fulfill its treaty obligations to South Vietnam, not even providing military aid, much less troops. South Vietnam fell in April 1975, to the eternal shame of the United States, which had abandoned its ally.

In January of this year, Mr. Cronkite was at it again, this time regarding the Iraq war, as documented by Arnaud de Borchgrave in Front Page Magazine. One of the gravest faults of the Bush Administration in conducting the war has been its reticence, especially since its victory in the November 2004 elections, to fight the propaganda battle. Yet, that is precisely where the war in Iraq, and the war against Islamic extremists, will be won or lost.

Today, in the Wall Street Journal, the Administration seems to be re-taking the offensive. Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to the President and Director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives, has written a annihilating critique of the war's critics. Read it and share it with your friends. The battle for the hearts and minds of the American people in this war has not yet been lost.

Lowell adds: The Wehner op-ed is excellent. Here are the myths he attacks:

  • The president misled Americans to convince them to go to war.
  • The Bush administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments.
  • Because weapons of mass destruction stockpiles weren't found, Saddam posed no threat.
  • Promoting democracy in the Middle East is a postwar rationalization.

It's a must-read. I'm glad the White House is jumping into the fray; it's hard to have a debate when only one side is talking.

Illegal Immigration: Mark Steyn Gets It 90% Right

Mark Steyn is my favorite political/cultural columnist-- funny, incisive, and right almost all the time. His Washington Times piece yesterday sounded the right alarms on illegal immigration:

First, on the true nature of the problem:

This is not an "illegal immigration" issue. That's when one of the Slovaks or Botswanans gets tired of waiting in line for 12 years and comes in anyway, and lives and works here and doesn't pay any taxes, so the money he earns gets sluiced around the neighborhood supermarket and gas station and topless bar and the rest of the local economy, instead of being given to Trent and Arlen and Co. to toss into the great sucking maw of the federal budget.
He's right. What we're all really talking about is massive waves of workers (and others, I'm afraid) coming across the southern border, in most cases not to make a new life in America, but to send money back home:

But a "worker class" drawn overwhelmingly from a neighboring jurisdiction with another language and ancient claims on your territory and whose people now send so much money back home in the form of "remittances" that it's Mexico's largest source of foreign income (bigger than oil or tourism) is not "immigration" at all, but a vast experiment in societal transformation. Indeed, given the international track record of bilingual societies and neighboring jurisdictions with territorial claims, it's not much of an experiment so much as a safe bet on political instability.
I am not sure I buy this 100%, but it's a worry-- a big worry. The biggest problem that illegal immigration poses is assimilation. American culture is powerful and has historically absorbed large waves of immigrants-- Irish, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Greek, and so forth.

But never from right across the border.

Never in a time when communications and other technologies allowed people to move away from home, but not really be too far from home. Telephones, Spanish-language television and radio, the Internet-- all those make leaving Latin America for the USA in 2006 very different from leaving Italy for the USA in 1890.

And never in such numbers:

By some counts, up to 5 percent of the U.S. population is now "undocumented." Why? Partly because American business is so overregulated there is a compelling economic logic to employing illegals. In essence, a chunk of the American economy has seceded from the Union. But, even if you succeeded in reannexing it, a large-scale "guest worker" class entirely drawn from one particular demographic has been a recipe for disaster everywhere it's been tried.
I'm not sure that overregulation of business is the problem. But demographics are. Maybe-- just maybe-- the USA can absorb and assimilate the large number of illegals already here. As a practical matter, I think we have to try. But to allow the current flow to continue is an unacceptable gamble with our future; this cannot continue. A reconquista (re-conquering) of the American Southwest by the descendants of the Mexicans who lost those territories in 1848 is something spoken of seriously only by La Raza-type extremists and North American nativists, but I do think a slow-motion unraveling of American culture could take place in 20-30 years, if not sooner.

The uncontrolled in-flow of illegal Spanish-speaking immigrants needs to stop. Now. This is what has so many American (primarily conservatives) riled up right now. These are the essential elements:

  • Control the border-- and do it seriously. This includes building the longest fence possible. I like the 700-mile one in the House bill. Build it with barriers going 10 feet beneath the ground to discourage tunneling. This will take lots of money but it needs to be done.
  • Do something intelligent, practical, forceful, and humane about those illegals who are already here. Deport the felons and gang members and those who just got here. Figure out a way for others to earn their way to residency and citizenship, at the back of the line, behind those who played by the rules. (I don't think it's fair to call that amnesty, but if that's what people insist on calling it, fine-- we do the same thing for tax cheats all the time in this country. Amnesty will not destroy the fabric of our society.)
  • Make those employers who facilitate illegals getting jobs here obey the law.
  • Hire the staff of the Center for Immigration Studies to pick lettuce in California's Central Valley. (Just kidding on that one, but it is interesting to hear the screams of outrage that rise whenever anyone suggests there are "jobs that Americans won't do," or "are not doing.")
The problem of what to do with illegals present in the country remains the thorniest. I think the Bush guest worker plan is the most reasonable approach I have heard. I have heard no serious counter-proposal from those who so ardently oppose guest workers.

It's time for some statesmanlike policy to be made. Let's see if Congress can pull that off.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Senator McCain's Speech at the New School

I may not always agree with Senator John McCain, but I will always respect him. He epitomizes love of country and dedication to public service. Today, the Wall Street Journal published the text of his speech at the Commencement Ceremony of the New School in New York City, in which he gave voice to his ideals. It is worth reading.

Lowell adds: Ralph is right, the speech is statesmanlike and inspiring. The manner in which the New School audience received the speech, reported here, is also thought-provoking, if less inspiring.

The "Culture of Corruption" Apparently Knows No Party Lines

At least that's what Chris Muir seems to be saying:

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why We Need An Immigration Bill, Even An Imperfect One

Fred Barnes says it in the Weekly Standard:

The last time the public was this engaged in a policy issue was 1994, when President Clinton's health care plan was being debated. But there was a critical
difference then. Once the idea took hold that there was no health care crisis in
America--there still isn't--health care reform began to fade. It turned out to
be postponable.

Immigration reform is not. There really is an immigration crisis. In fact, the very Republicans who want an immigration bill limited to enforcement are largely responsible for having brought to the attention of all Americans the fact that a crisis exists and must be dealt with urgently. For them to prevent a bill now would be political suicide. It would all but guarantee Democratic capture of the House on November 7. "We're in control," says Republican senator Mel Martinez of Florida. "We're in charge. And if we don't produce, it would be a terrible failure. It would be handing the other side a win." A big win.
Read the whole thing. Especially if you think it's better to have no bill at all than one that has more or less in it than you think should be there.

"Too Much A Republican . . ."

On NRO's Corner Jonah Goldberg made this interesting observation about Hugh Hewitt:

I probably agree with Hewitt's critics on many points. I think he is too much a
Republican and not enough of a conservative . . . .
For me, reading that was one of those occasional crystallizing moments that occur in political discourse. There really are two different ways conservatives look at politics: (1) as a religion of sorts, in which there are no issues, only principles, which are true and immutable and cannot be compromised; and (2) as a means to get the best government we can.

I tend toward no. 2. An illustration: Like Hugh Hewitt, I vote for the most conservative candidate who can win. So in the California recall election, I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though Tom McClintock was more in tune with me ideologically. There was no way McClintock could win, Arnold was certainly going to be better than Cruz Bustamante, and I did not want to waste my vote.

Those who take approach no. 1, in contrast, would rather vote their conscience than vote for the best possible result. They are conservatives first, Republicans second, and they would have voted for McClintock. The same folks probably agree with Jonah Goldberg: Hugh's approach to voting is too Republican, and not conservative enough.

Each approach has its defenders. Who's to say which one is right? I prefer no. 2, and always have.

If you are trying to decide which approach to apply to this fall's Congressional elections, print this chart out and study it. It's too small for most of us to read on-line, but it expresses some very important results of a Republican loss of the House in 2006, including these House leadership positions:

  • Speaker Pelosi
  • Judiciary Chairman Conyers
  • Chairman Rangel
  • Chairman Waxman
  • Chairman Frank

And these inevitable hearings, which will be extensively covered by the MSM:

  • NSA wiretapping hearings
  • Guantanamo hearings
  • CIA secret prison hearings

and more, all fueled by the fever-swamp folks who think the Daily Kos is the source of all truth in the USA.

So if you are a conservative first, and a Republican second, you might want to take an ideologically pure view and stay home because the Republicans have not, in your view, been governing as conservatively as you would prefer. But I suggest that if you do stay home, you will bear your share of the responsibility for the government we will have.

That's the thing about being a voter-- we're all responsible for our votes and their consequences, whether we like it or not.

Friday, May 19, 2006

President Bush And The Republican Base (well, part of the base, at least)

Peggy Noonan thinks that perhaps President Bush does not like his base. I do not know if she's right, but I would not be surprised if the president is not terribly fond of some of the base's spokesmen and spokeswomen. Take a look at Called As Seen, where Harold Hutchison suggests some reasons why that might be so.

I don't buy Harold's suggestion that perhaps Bush is trying to show the base that he is his own person-- the president is smarter than that. But I do think Bush has a stubborn streak and we may be seeing some of that expressing itself.

What dismays me most about the louder members of the base is their childishly long memories. Take the Harriet Miers fiasco, for example. Bush made a misstep, a portion of the base screamed (loudly and too often without class), and Bush then gave the base what it wanted, withdrawing Miers and nominating Alito. Again, he did what the base wanted.

But, as Harold and Hugh Hewitt note, some baseniks can't seem to forgive or forget. They bring the Miers nomination up repeatedly.

The Miers example is not isolated. The Dubai Ports deal was another case where a portion of the base screamed and Bush backed down. That portion gives Bush no credit for doing so, however, and bring that matter up all the time as an example of Bush's many misdeeds-- even though he never actually committed the alleged misdeed. Apparently Bush's even having attempted the deal (a decision in which he probably was not even involved) was itself a misdeed-- and unforgivable at that.

I have known these kinds of people the entire time I have been involved in GOP politics. They never change. Oh, well. As Shimon Peres is supposed to have said regarding the Palestinian problem:

If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact-- not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.

The close-minded and unreasonable portion of the Republican base is one of those facts, I'm afraid. Here's hoping President Bush continues to show good coping skills.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Interested in Victory?

If so, read this hilarious and encouraging post from Point Five. It is the most refreshing thing I have seen in the blogosphere in months. Be sure to keep reading and follow this link. And don't miss this chart (it may take a few seconds to load).

If you're a blogger, make a comment and get added to Point Five's blogroll.

HT: The ever-reliable Hugh Hewitt.

Gaza: Millions for Kalashnikovs, Not a Penny for Economic Development

In Gaza, nearly everything is scarce: Jobs, food, electricity, natural gas. Everything but armed militia toting Kalashnikov assault rifles. The Palestinian Authority's security forces already number around 80,000 men. In Gaza, there is nearly always a cop around when you need one. The problem is, the person shaking down a storeowner or robbing some poor soul on the street is probably the cop, i.e., a member of the Palestinian security forces. The only hope for the crime victim is that a member of one of the rival militias will intervene and shoot at the criminal, but in the undisciplined firefight that follows the crime victim will probably be shot as well, so the hope is illusory. Life in Gaza resembles what South Central Los Angeles would be like if the LAPD withdrew and left it to the Crips and Bloods to maintain security.

So naturally, to address the prevailing anarchy, the Hamas-led government has decided to create--another armed militia. Over the veto of titular Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose loyalty belongs to Fatah, Hamas has organized a 3000-man militia, as reported in today's Los Angeles Times.

For weeks now the tender-hearted people of the world have been weeping copiously over the fact that, as a result of the election of a Hamas government, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, the U.S., Israel and the European Union have cut off the flow of foreign cash that sustains the Palestinian Authority. Since pratically the only jobs available in Gaza involve working for the Palestinian Authority, which is supposedly now bankrupt and has not paid its employees in months, scarcity and hardship prevail. The usual suspects in the MSM, especially National Public Radio, fill the airwaves and newsprint with stories of the suffering that the Palestinians are undergoing at the hands of the Americans, the Israelis and the Europeans, who are not respecting the democratic choice of the Palestinian people.

And yet, when Hamas decides that the situation calls for another, 3000-person militia, it is able to field a well-armed, uniformed militia quite literally overnight. Note the two photos that preceded this post. On the right are members of Force 17, a militia loyal to Fatah. On the left are members of the new Hamas-organized militia. Every member sports an assault rifle and a snazzy uniform. The militias seem to be well-equipped with vehicles. Presumably, these young men are drawing a salary as well. Apparently, when it comes to arming militia, money is not so scarce.

If the reader is puzzled as to the solution to this conumdrum, one might look to this story published yesterday by UPI. We are shocked, shocked, to learn that Yassir Arafat spent millions of dollars of international aid funds, intended for humanitarian assistance, on weapons.

"Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute," was the rallying cry of the United States during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, when it dispatched its infant Navy and Marine Corps against the Tripoli pirates who were raiding American shipping for ransom. Apparently, "Millions for Kalashnikovs, not a penny for economic development," was the secret motto of Yassir Arafat, and continues to be the mission statement of Hamas, Fatah and the whole Palestinian Authority. The solution is not to channel funds to the Palestinians through non-governmental organizations, as the U.S., U.N., Europeans and Israel recently agreed to do. The solution is to continue to withhold funds until the Palestinians are compelled to sell their weapons, dissolve their militias and use international aid for the humanitarian assistance and economic development for which it was intended.

If You Or Someone You Know Is Thinking of Abandoning The GOP This Fall

You need to find 5 minutes in your day and read Hugh Hewitt's post of this morning. Rather than trying to reason from his anger, the man simply makes clear, sensible arguments. You may not agree with him but you can't dismiss him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Goodbye, Pygmy Rabbit--Or Not

This afternoon The Seattle Times announced the death of the last male pure bred Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. According to the news account, "The tiny rabbits are found only in Douglas County in north-central Washington." No Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits are believed to exist in the wild, which means that the sole survivors of the species are two females in a captive breeding program.

Now one might ask, if there are no males of the species remaining, how do the breeders propose to proceed with the captive breeding program? The answer is that other "closely related" pygmy rabbit species exist in the West, and the plan is to cross-breed the remaining Columbia Basin females with some of their Idaho cousins.

To my mind, that aspect of the story raises a question about whether an extinction of a species has actually occurred at all. Back when the Kosher Hedgehog took high school biology, the definition of a "species" was the one that still appears in Wikipedia: "A species is a group of organisms that can interbreed in nature to produce a fertile offspring." So if a Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit female is cross-bred with an Idaho pygmy rabbit male, and fertile offspring result, it would appear that the reports of the demise of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit species are greatly exaggerated. So, what gives with this news story?

What gives, I suspect, is the environmental movement. In fighting development, one of the most potent weapons is the use of the Endangered Species Act as a club, alleging that the proposed project will eliminate the habitat of an endangered species. Inconveniently, sometimes the threatened population of animal identified by the anti-development forces can be found in relative abundance elsewhere.

A creative legal weapon to circumvent such inconvenient facts is species proliferation. By presenting expert zoological testimony that the grey spotted vermillion squirrel bat of East Madison County is actually a distinct species from the grey spotted vermillion squirrel bat of West Madison County, the fact that the habitat of the latter is intact and its bat population is thriving avails not the proponents of development.

Perhaps it is only the cynicism of my middle age, but my intuition is that the same phenomenon has occurred here. In other words, the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit is more closely related to the Idaho pygmy rabbit than my dachshund is to my neighbor's fox terrier. As many a careless dog owner can testify, all breeds of domestic dogs are the same species. The offspring of a crossbreeding may often be ugly, but they are fertile.

So too, I suspect, with our pygmy rabbits. I would welcome a correction from a more knowledgable source, but until it is forthcoming, I am convinced that the demise of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit represents the loss of a race within a species, not a species.

Immigration: Is There A Lack of Courage on The Blogospheric Right?

I'm traveling today and can post only lightly, so I'll leave these two questions: Are some "stars" of the conservative blogosphere, like some talk radio stars, afraid of their audience? Does their success give them a large reader following -- let's call it a "base"-- that they know insists on ideological purity on certain issues, with the result that the star bloggers fear offending that reader base?

We see this phenomenon, I think, in talk radio. Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity will pick up a conservative issue and flog it to death, hour after hour, day after day, never admitting the slightest possibility of a weakness in their position or a strength in opposing views. It's as boring as watching paint dry, but I suspect that Laura and Sean know they must throw nothing but red meat to their audience daily in order to sustain their ratings.

Now consider Michelle Malkin (and other prominent conservative bloggers) who so far have not said a word about a slimy post written by a person named Vox Day on the WorldNetDaily site.

Called As Seen has the rundown. Read his post and reflect on the deafening silence emanating from too many sites on our side of the blogosphere.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

On A More Positive Note: What Frustrated Republicans Can Do (Besides Sitting Out The Election)

Jim Geraghty of NRO has some suggestions. He begins:

I’m spectacularly pleased that yesterday’s post generated so much discussion around the web. As far as I am concerned “Geraghtyite” should be Hugh Hewitt’s new title.

Some e-mailers agreed, some e-mailers disagreed, SOME WERE VERY ANGRY AND HAD FORGOTTEN WHERE THE ‘CAPS LOCK’ KEY IS, but the most important and common question from e-mailers was, “Okay, if sitting out the 2006 election doesn’t get us where we want to go, what will?” It’s a great question; here’s my best shot at answering it.
Read the whole thing. (HT: Hugh Hewitt.)

The Irony of the Bush Immigration Speech And Its Chief Detractors

Compare these three statements. The first is from President Bush's speech last night:

America needs to conduct this debate on immigration in a reasoned and respectful tone. Feelings run deep on this issue and as we work it out, all of us need to keep some things in mind. We cannot build a unified country by inciting people to anger, or playing on anyone’s fears, or exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain. We must always remember that real lives will be affected by our debates and decisions, and that every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.

Those read like the words of a leader to me.

The second is from Polipundit, where a purge of sorts seems to have taken place. Lorie Byrd, one of the bloggers there who dared to disagree with PoliPundit, the proprietor of the blog, writes:

I received a lengthy email from Polipundit tonight alerting us to an editorial policy change that included the following: "From now on, every blogger at will either agree with me completely on the immigration issue, or not blog at"

How embarrassing for PoliPundit, whoever he is.

Which of the above two statements would you rather associate yourself with-- President Bush's, or PoliPundit's rather Stalinist-sounding e-mail? PoliPundit has referred to the president as "Jorge Arbusto." Perhaps not the "reasoned and respectful tone" President Bush called for last night, but I imagine PoliPundit thinks it's cute. And this from a man who likes to fancy himself a conservative in the Reagan mold. No sale, PoliPundit; thought control is neither conservative nor Reaganite nor American. I will not be visiting your site again.

Finally, here's one from

"The Bush Administration has seemed never to notice that Mexico is not the 51st
state, but a foreign country--one that is engaged in a slow-motion invasion of
America. . . . Why is Bush doing this? I have suggested that his
motives are dynastic--that he is selfishly sacrificing the GOP to build a family
vehicle, much like Brian Mulroney sacrificed the Canadian Progressive
Conservative party in a vain effort to build a personal fief in the
French-speaking province of Quebec. Brenda Walker speculates he is a
'MexiChurian Candidate.' What he is not is an American patriot."

Yep, there's your "reasoned and respectful tone." Well, maybe not. Take a look at VDare's explanation for its symbol, a white fawn. The unabashed nativist tone is refreshingly honest, in a way.

Oh, and by the way, Bush's speech is polling well. "Staggeringly" well, it turns out:

79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president's policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.

Hey, you guys in the vaunted Republican "base:" Remember the old Irish saying: When everyone else in the room is telling you you're drunk, it's time to sit down.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Bush Immigration Speech

Travel has me too booked-up to blog much tonight. I did hear President Bush's speech and approved heartily of both tone and content.

For excellent analysis of the speech and some anticipatory responses to its critics, visit Called As Seen. The whole series of immigration pieces that Harold Hutchison has written there is excellent.

Of course, Harold and I are clearly out of touch with the Republican base on this issue. Power Line's John Hinderaker thinks that after this speech, Bush may not have any chance to salvage his second term.

Let me share something with you from a well-respected conservative site, World Net Daily. There, a person named Vox Day, whose posted photograph is more than a little disturbing, wrote this:

If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews,
many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it
couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal
aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American
I am an infrequent visitor to WorldNetDaily. What kind of editorial control does that site exercise over its writers? Is this kind of garbage typical there? Is that the kind of "base" thinking that John Hinderaker thinks Bush should appeal to?

If the blogger comments like Vox Day's and those that are appearing at this Truth Laid Bear site are typical of the conservative base, then I am going to throw up my hands and wait for the Democrat takeover of Congress. If those bloggers represent the base, then the base is implacable and suffers from a fatal lack of insight into the immigration issue. The hard-line approach on which the base seems to insist can never become law. Even the unsuccessful effort to make that approach become law will cast the GOP as the anti-immigrant party for decades to come.

In other words, the implacable, uncompromising, shrill conservative base appears poised to destroy the Republican party over illegal immigration. If they don't get their way, they'll stay home in this fall's elections.

And they're going to blame George W. Bush because instead of drinking the same Kool-Aid they do, he actually stuck to his guns on a statesmanlike solution to a difficult problem.

Republican self-immolation. Who'd-a thunk it?

Mitt Romney And Fringe Groups

I will be traveling this week, so posting may be a little lighter than usual unless Brother Hedgehog Ralph decides to fill in the gaps. In the meantime, here's a post from Article6blog that should be either interesting, or enlightening, or both, to most of my readers.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Gaffney to Israel: STOP THE INSANITY!

Listeners of Hugh Hewitt’s show this afternoon heard The Hedgehog sagely observe that the hysterical reaction of many to the NSA’s collection of cell phone data proves that a significant segment of Americans still do not realize that our nation is at war with a clandestine enemy and that the United States is a battleground.

They also heard both Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy (pictured at the left), and frequent Hewitt guest Yoni Tibi hold forth on another front in the War Against Islamic Fascism. Both Gaffney and Tibi argued that President Bush must actively opposed the plans of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (photo at bottom) for further unilateral withdrawals from Yehuda and Shomron (the so-called “West Bank”). When Hugh asked Gaffney how the United States can oppose a policy favored by Israel’s democratically elected government and, apparently, a majority of her citizens, Gaffney responded, “Friends don’t help friends commit suicide.” Gaffney and Tibi both argued further that Olmert’s policy of unilateral disengagement in Yehuda and Shomron will not only strengthen the existential threat to Israel created by the Gaza withdrawal; it will also endanger the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, an American ally, and the security of the U.S. as well.

Gaffney revealed that Olmert will be asking for some Ten Billion Dollars in American financial aid to pay the costs of the withdrawal, and counseled that President Bush should tell Olmert in no uncertain terms that the U.S. opposes the withdrawal, and will not pay for it. The Kosher Hedgehog agrees.

The Center for Security Policy boasts as its Middle East Fellow the wise Caroline Glick. Ms. Glick has just published a paper for the Center, advising that Olmert’s plan for a West Bank withdrawal give birth to a Taliban-like state. Here is a link to a summary of the paper, and here is a link to the entire paper. Read it and write the White House to stop the insanity.

Should We Be Gearing up for Another Republican Purification Ritual?

I caught Hugh Hewitt's interview of John Podhoretz yesterday. Podhoretz was promoting his latest book, Can She Be Stopped? One of the author's comments resonated with me:

Well . . . the exhortation, warning, threat and effort in my book, is to try very hard to get people to focus on the future, to focus on the fact that we do not have the luxury of this internecine warfare, and this hunger, which afflicts this party every ten or fifteen years, to go through a purification ritual. And that's a very serious thing that's now going on, as I'm sure you know. We're now seeing, Peggy Noonan said it today, that somehow, we need to lose, because we've forgotten why . . . Republican politicians have forgotten why they were sent to Washington.
(Emphasis added.) Sure enough, Peggy Noonan, a pretty good bellwhether of hard-shell conservative opinion, thinks "it may take a defeat in November for the GOP to unlearn the lessons of power." I've heard a number of callers to talk radio shows say that it would be good for the country for the GOP to lose Congress this fall. The hosts (Ingraham and Hannity and their ilk, not the thoughtful ones like Hugh Hewitt or Micheal Medved) do not disagree with their audience. They simply fan the flames.

That's nothing new; those two in particular play to their audience incessantly for three hours every weekday. But all that does make me think that the truly hard-core ideologue segment of the party is settling into Podhoretz's "purification ritual" mode.

I'm old enough to know that we see this from time to time. 1992 was one of those times, and I don't think the country is better off for eight years of Clinton, or for the possibly of eight more of Hillary Clinton. Would we even be talking about her today if her husband had not been elected president? In 1976 the hard-core folks sat on their hands after Reagan lost the nomination, and we got Jimmy Carter. Was that good for the country?

I know many think Reagan would not have been elected in 1980 without the failed Carter presidency. People who say that should think about what a terrible indictment of Reaganism it is to argue that Reagan needed the country to fall to such depths in order to get elected.

Well, maybe that's where we are going. Should we get used to Speaker Pelosi, Judiciary Chairmen Leahy and Conyers, and so forth? Can any conservative argue that such leadership would be good for the country?

Update: The ever-incisive Harold Hutchison has more, including this provocative thought:

If conservatives cannot bring themselves sacrifice their pet issues to ensure this country's victory in the war on terror, then they no longer deserve public support or to hold any level of political power. The survival of this country trumps the conservative agenda in my book.
An excellent point. We criticize liberals for not being serious about the war on terror. But aren't we conservatives just as guilty of unseriousness if we are willing to jeopardize our cuccess in that war because Bush is not doing exactly what we want him to do about such issues as immigration reform and spending?

Update II: Read these two commentaries on this subject. Then ask yourself, which one is the well-reasoned, thoughtful position, and which is the position arguing from anger?

First, Jim Geraghty from NRO:

By the way, put me down as one of those guys who cannot comprehend the argument that conservatives ought to sit out this election to “punish” the GOP so that they’ll “learn a lesson” and get better/more conservative in the future.

To advocates of this position, I must respectfully ask… are you out of your flippin’ mind?

By what logic does a constituency become more influential and powerful by becoming less active, and demonstrating less capability to turn out the vote and influence elections?

Let’s say Congressman Tom Tancredo represents your views on illegal immigration. You’re angry at the GOP leadership for not espousing his positions; you’ve concluded that they don’t listen to him. Do you really think the ball will get moved in your direction by throwing the party that has Tancredo out, and replacing it with the party that doesn’t have a Tancredo figure in it at all?

Now this editorial from the Washington Examiner:

Karl Rove reportedly has a plan to “stir up” the base to again save the Republicans’ electoral bacon, but conservatives won’t be satisfied this time around with more token efforts on issues like marriage and dire warnings that “the Democrats would be far worse.” Conservatives have heard that song before and know it never has a second verse.

That's the point to make, by golly-- we're mad as, well, heck, and we're not going to take it any more! We'll show you faithless Republicans!

Read both pieces in their entirety. I vote for Geraghty as the thinking voice, and the Examiner editorial as the one based on anger.

Update 3: John Schroeder, over at my "other" blog, Article6blog, has some thoughts on this subject from a different perspective.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

President Bush Responds to Amadinejad

At least that's what Scott Ott of Scrappleface is reporting. The text of the friendly but seemingly nutty Iranian president's letter is here. I can't really recommend that you read all of that letter; a skim will give you the, ah, flavor of it.

But back to Bush's reponse, as Scott see it. Here's a choice excerpt:

In your 18-page letter, you asked me more than 63 questions.

The answer is ‘No’.

Now, let me ask you a few questions.

1) When you’re alone in a room by yourself, what do you all talk about?
2) How many moons can you see from your planet?
3) Roughly how long will it be before your mothership returns?

Take your time. Feel free to use the back of the paper to record your answers.

George W. Bush, POTUS

Read the whole thing. It'll brighten your day.