Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, Journalism, And The Global War on Terror

If you don't read anything else about the recent publication of classified material, read this essay at Winds of Change. The whole piece is a must-read, and I cannot do justice to it with an excerpt. This one, however, may whet your appetite:

I think, in simple terms, that they have forgotten that they are citizens, and that they have an obligation to the polity that goes beyond writing the good story. I don't think they are alone; I think that many people and institutions in the country today have forgotten they are citizens, whether they are poor residents of New Orleans defrauding FEMA or corporate chieftains who are maximizing their bonuses at the expense of a healthy economy.

But that's another blog post.

Please read it, and encourage others to do so.

GOP 1, Tom Tancredo 0

Congressman and Chief Immigration Demagogue Tom Tancredo mounted a furious assault against Chris Cannon, another Republican from Utah, because Cannon dared to support President Bush's approach to immigration. A Tancredo-anointed candidate ran on that single issue in the Utah GOP primary.

It didn't work. Called As Seen has the details.

The Global War on Terror: A Good War?

From Jules Crittenden, Boston Herald City Editor, who "has covered crime, science, foreign affairs and military matters in New England, Israel, India, Pakistan, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq:"

Our actual and very real enemy purposefully murdered nearly 3,000 people on one
day, and has repeatedly attacked civilians other free nations, killing hundreds
of people in Europe and Asia, not to mention the thousands of innocents
purposefully murdered in Iraq. This enemy has pursued weapons of mass
destruction, and given the opportunity, will use them to kill as many of us as
possible. They know that militarily, for now, they cannot beat us. But they are
patient. They believe, based on past experience, that with our low tolerance for
blood we will falter, pull out, and abandon our allies. That will provide them
with the opportunity to control nations, to control armies, to control
resources. Maybe then we’ll have something more closely resembling total war
that Bush’s domestic opposition can finally recognize as a good and necessary
war, in which national security must be respected, and excesses in the defense
of freedom will be seen in the context of their time, like the carpet bombing of
cities, the internment of American citizens and the suspension of habeas corpus.
Like the brutalities of the Pacific war and Sherman’s March through Georgia.

But that kind of war - the fabled Good War - belongs to another time. A
simpler time. It is probably something that only exists in the rearview mirror

Read the whole thing. It's passionate, blunt, and pointed all at the same time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cinderella Man

I just watched "Cinderella Man" for the second time and was reminded how much I enjoyed it the first time. I recommend it highly, despite the violence (it is a boxing movie, after all) and some very bad language. The movie is about moral strength and courage. I suspect the reason it was not critically acclaimed is that the protagonist, boxer James Braddock, goes on public relief during the Depression and-- gasp!-- not only does not want to do so, but is ashamed of doing so. And then, after he returns to success in the ring, he pays the money back.

Can't imagine why those story elements would not appeal to the average MSM movie critic, can you? Anyway, see the movie.

How the Peace Camp Causes Wars

One of the frustrations of being conservative on foreign policy issues is the exposure to the allegations of the Left that the Right will not "take risks for peace," or "give peace a chance." In fact, as some conservative critics of the George W. Bush Administration have charged, the decision to invade Iraq amounted taking a huge risk to try to reshape Middle Eastern history and politics, in order to give peace a chance. Debate over the wisdom and prudence of that course of action has marked the conservative/neo-conservative divide on the Iraq war.

Fundamentally, however, both conservatives and neo-conservatives agree that a strong national defense and firmness in dealing with potential enemies are essential to the avoidance of war. Examples in history are rampant, but the left never seems to learn from those examples. The current calls to release and repatriate prisoners from the Guantanamo Prison, from a population that at this point consists almost entirely of dedicated jihadists, and to precipitously withdraw from Iraq, are just the most recent examples on the American scene.

For Israel, the history of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the withdrawal from Gaza is instructive. Prior to August 1993, despite an ongoing low intensity civil uprising among Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron, Israel faced no significant armed threat from the Palestinians. After being expelled from Lebanon, Arafat and his PLO terrorist gang sat cooling their heels in Tunisia, increasingly irrelevant and ignored, even in the Arab world, especially after backing Iraq in its invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War.

Then the "Peace Camp" in Israel struck. Private Israeli citizens, without any official position, and in violation of Israeli law, negotiated a "treaty" with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Prime Minister Rabin inexplicably adopted that treaty. Even before the famous "handshake on the White Hose lawn" between Israeli Prime Minister Yitchak Rabin and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, Arafat in his Arabic language speeches, assured Palestinians that the agreement was just a ruse, a tactic in the long-term campaign to destroy Israel. The very plane that returned Arafat to Gaza smuggled in heavy weapons that violated the Oslo Accords. Yet any person, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, who called attention to these violations was labeled an "enemy of peace" by Rabin, Shimon Peres and the Israeli Left.

After repeated terrorist bombs in Israel resulted in Netanyahu beating Peres in elections following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, Netanyahu tried to tie further territorial concessions to Palestinian compliance with the Oslo Accords. President Clinton reacted by chiding Netanyahu to follow the example of his "chaver" (comrade) Rabin, and take a risk for peace. When Netanyahu continued to insist on Palestinian compliance, President Clinton dispatched his Mephistopheles, James Carville, to run the campaign of Ehud Barak to unseat Netanyahu as Prime Minister. When Barak won election, Clinton famously said that he felt like a little boy with a brand new toy. How is that for respect for the leader of a fellow democracy?

Inspired by Clinton and his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Barak's policies of seeking peace at any cost in Lebanon and with the Palestinians were so disastrous in their results that they caused George Will to write:

Now just 17 months of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's diplomacy have demoralized Israel by delegitimizing all its previous principles, and destroying the absolute prerequisite for successful negotiations--the insistence that something is nonnegotiable. Even a Barak ultimatum is, inevitably, penultimate. Barak may be the most calamitous leader any democracy has had. He risks forfeiting his nation's existence.

Dismayed by the disasters that Barak had brought upon Israel, the Israeli public turned to its resolute old warrior, Ariel Sharon. And they were betrayed once again. Opponents of Sharon's plan for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza were condemned as "religious fanatics" and "enemies of peace." But their warnings proved well-founded. As I write this post, Israeli troops are preparing to re-enter Gaza in force, as reported here, where they will face spirited opposition from well-armed Palestinian militias fighting from well-prepared defensive positions. Ominously, Israel National News reports that Egypt has moved thousands of its troops to its border with Gaza, purportedly to block Arab refugees from Gaza fighting from fleeing into Egypt, but also raising the risk of an armed confrontation with Israeli forces, and a wider war. The Peace Camp has brought this all about, and many, many Palestinian Arabs, as well as Israelis, will die as a result.

John Snow's Letter to The New York Times

Thanks to Power Line for publishing this:

Outgoing Treasury Secretary John Snow has written to Bill Keller at the New York Times about terror finance surveillance, and the decision of the Times to inform terrorists about that surveillance. Here is the text of Snow's letter:

Dear Mr. Keller:

The New York Times' decision to disclose the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a robust and classified effort to map terrorist networks through the use of financial data, was irresponsible and harmful to the security of Americans and freedom-loving people worldwide. In choosing to expose this program, despite repeated pleas from high-level officials on both sides of the aisle, including myself, the Times undermined a highly successful counter-terrorism program and alerted terrorists to the methods and sources used to track their money trails.

Your charge that our efforts to convince The New York Times not to publish were "half-hearted" is incorrect and offensive. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times - from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

Indeed, I invited you to my office for the explicit purpose of talking you out of publishing this story. And there was nothing "half-hearted" about that effort. I told you about the true value of the program in defeating terrorism and sought to impress upon you the harm that would occur from its disclosure. I stressed that the program is grounded on solid legal footing, had many built-in safeguards, and has been extremely valuable in the war against terror.

Additionally, Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey met with the reporters and your senior editors to answer countless questions, laying out the legal framework and diligently outlining the multiple safeguards and protections that are in place.

You have defended your decision to compromise this program by asserting that "terror financiers know" our methods for tracking their funds and have already moved to other methods to send money. The fact that your editors believe themselves to be qualified to assess how terrorists are moving money betrays a breathtaking arrogance and a deep misunderstanding of this program and how it works. While terrorists are relying more heavily than before on cumbersome methods to move money, such as cash couriers, we have continued to see them using the formal financial system, which has made this particular program incredibly valuable.

Lastly, justifying this disclosure by citing the "public interest" in knowing information about this program means the paper has given itself free license to expose any covert activity that it happens to learn of - even those that are legally grounded, responsibly administered, independently overseen, and highly effective. Indeed,you have done so here.

What you've seemed to overlook is that it is also a matter of public interest that we use all means available - lawfully and responsibly - to help protect the American people from the deadly threats of terrorists. I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.



John W. Snow, Secretary
U.S. Department of the

On the question of whether the Times should be prosecuted, I agree with Called As Seen. I think the people to prosecute here are the leakers. I also like the idea of a Senate resolution censuring both the New York Times and the L.A. Times for irresponsibly undermining national security in a time of war.

Speaking of the L.A. Times, Hugh Hewitt has a blistering post today on that newspaper's behavior in this matter.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gaza Withdrawal Bringing On War

This is a street scene from Neve Dekalim (Dwelling of Palms), a town in the former Gush Katif settlement group in Gaza. The Israeli army destroyed these homes when it expelled Jewish families from Gaza last August. The larger buildings left standing are now used as training bases for Palestinian militias.

These are some of the children of Gush Katif, who lived in the homes that were destroyed. Many of the families of Gush Katif and other Gaza settlements are still living in hotels or tiny prefab homes, the Israeli government having reneged on its promise to resettle them.

This is one of the famous greenhouses of Gush Katif, which used to export insect-free, hydroponically grown vegetables across the world, bringing millions of dollars annually into the Israeli economy. At time of the Gaza expulsion, American Jewish philanthropists purchased the greenhouses and gave them to the Palestinian Authority, to foster Arab economic development in Gaza. Arab mobs stripped them and most today are useless ruins.

These are photos of Lt. Hanan Barak, age 20, from Arad (left), and St.-Sgt. Pavel Slotsker, 20, from Dimona (right), who were killed on Sunday when Palestinian gunmen attacked an Israeli military outpost at Kerem Sholom (Vineyard of Peace) located in Israel within the 1967 armstice lines. Four other Israeli soldiers were wounded and one was kidnapped. Israel entirely withdrew from Gaza supposedly to eliminate the need for military bases there, which put Israeli soldiers in harm's way. As reported here in the Jerusalem Post, continued shelling of Israeli towns from Gaza now has compelled Israel to plan a ground assault back into Gaza.

This final photograph is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who, together with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, planned and implemented the destruction of Israeli towns, farms and businesses in Gaza, and the expulsion of the Jewish population. All of the dire warnings of critics of the Gaza expulsion have been proven true. All of the objectives of the Gaza expulsion have turned out to be naive fantasies. The question therefore arises, "Why hasn't this man resigned his office in shame and embarrassment?"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Illegal Immigration: So Tell Me Again, What Do "The American People" Really Want?

To hear Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and others talk, you'd think that rascal, George W. Bush, along with those who support his comprehensive approach to immigration reform, were simply running roughshod over The American People, who adamantly oppose any path to citizenship for illegals already here.

Well, think again. Here's an interesting report from today's Houston Chronicle:

Despite vocal conservative opposition to any kind of amnesty for illegal immigrants, a large majority of likely Republican voters support a two-tier approach that strengthens enforcement while providing a path to citizenship, according to anew poll released Thursday.

I just don't understand it. Those pundits seemed so sure!

You can read all about the poll, which was done for the Manhattan Institute, here. There are lots of goodies for polling wonks.

A few more of the interesting paragraphs from the Chronicle story:
The Tarrance Group, a GOP polling firm, conducted the national survey of 800 registered, likely voters June 12-15 for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank.

Three-quarters of the voters favored a policy that reflects Senate legislation.

It would create a system that allows illegal immigrants to come forward, pay a fine and receive a temporary worker permit; and provide these temporary workers with a multi-year path to citizenship if they are put behind others who have applied before them, don't commit crimes, learn English and pay taxes. The proposal also calls for increasing border security and imposing tougher penalties on employers who hire illegal workers.

Forty-nine percent said they did not view this policy as amnesty, while 39 percent said it is amnesty.

Once again, we should call this what it is: A case in which the House GOP is catering to the arch-conservative GOP base. I understand the reasons for that approach, but let's not call it noble, and let's not paint people like Tom Tancredo and his new followers as courageous leaders who are especially attuned to the views of the public.

Look at the polling charts and graphs. If you are an open-minded person at all, you will see that the hard-line approach now carrying sway in the House is not what the American people want.

Iraq: Quote of The Day

From today's Wall Street Journal:

Here, then, is the enemy we face in Iraq: Not nationalists or extremists or even fanatics, but something like a band of real-life Hannibal Lecters for whom human slaughter is both business and religious fulfillment. Following the killing, an Internet statement said to be from the Mujahadeen Shura Council praised Abu Hamza al-Muhajir -- who is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's successor as head of Al Qaeda in Iraq -- with "the implementation of the sentence." Note the legalistic pretensions: This is the kind of "justice" Iraqis could expect should the insurgents come to power. And it is the enemy that might well come to power if the U.S. left Iraq prematurely, as many Senate Democrats urged yesterday.

"Real-life Hannibal Lecters." A chilling but exquisite metaphor.

Khobar Towers: What "No Stone Unturned" Means to Bill Clinton

Louis Freeh, FBI Director during the Clinton Administration, tells an astonishing and infuriating tale in today's Wall Street Journal. (Link requires subscription.) Find a way to read the entire piece. Here's an excerpt, in which former Director Freeh describes what happened when his investigators finally were able to interview the co-conspirators in the Khobar Towers bombing (interviews that occurred with no help from President Clinton or his administration):
Upon being advised that our investigation now had proof that Iran blew up Khobar Towers, Mr. Berger's astounding response was: "Who knows about this?" His next, and wrong, comment was: "That's just hearsay." When I explained that under the Rules of Federal Evidence the detainees' comments were indeed more than "hearsay," for the first time ever he became interested -- and alarmed -- about the case. But this interest translated into nothing more than Washington "damage control" meetings held out of the fear that Congress, and ordinary Americans, would find out that Iran murdered our soldiers. After those meetings, neither the president, nor anyone else in the administration, was heard from again about Khobar.
This is an amazing story and a real stain on the Clinton Administration.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

HAMAS Video: Islam will Conquer the U.S., Britain and "Rome."

The smiling, well-dressed man on the left is Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Haniyeh, of the Hamas party, and boy, do he and his friends have plans for you! As reported by Palestinian Media Watch here, a Hamas video released on its website predicts the Islamic conquest of Israel, the United States, Great Britain and "Rome," by which Hamas presumably means the Roman Catholic Church or, perhaps, Christendom at large. The video is a collection of statements by Hamas terrorist leader, Yasser Ghalban, killed last week by Palestinians, in the ongoing internal fighting with Fatah (thank you very much--keep up the good work). Ghalban promises his followers and fans:

"We will rule the nations, by Allah's will, the USA will be conquered, Israel will be conquered, Rome and Britain will be conquered…The Jihad for Allah... is the way of Truth and the way for Salvation and the way which will lead us to crush the Jews and expel them from our country Palestine. Just as the Jews ran from Gaza, the Americans will run from Iraq and Afghanistan and the Russians will run from Chechnya, and the Indian will run from Kashmir, and our children will be released from Guantanamo. The prisoners will be released by Allah's will, not by peaceful means and not by agreements, but they will be released by the sword, they will be released by the gun".

Now let's be sure to prop up Mr. Haniyeh and his friends with millions of dollars and euros, which the United States, the European Community, and Israeli government agreed recently to funnel into the Palestinian Authority for "humanitarian needs." Otherwise Hamas might get really angry at the West.

WMD Found--MSM Yawns

Yesterday, Republican Senators Rick Santorum (photo at left) and Peter Hoekstra reported, based on a recently declassified intelligence report, that U.S. armed forces have discovered over 500 shells with remnants of mustard gas or sarin nerve agents. Senator Santorum stated, "This is an incredibly -- in my mind -- significant finding. The idea that, as my colleagues have repeatedly said in this debate on the other side of the aisle, that there are no weapons of mass destruction, is in fact false." Read the full story here. Kudos to AFP (Agence France-Presse) for covering it. Sometimes the French pleasantly surprise me.

Given how much of the rhetoric on the left, critical of President Bush and the Iraq War, has insisted that "there were no WMDs" and "Bush lied," one might naively think that this story would have received considerable press attention. However, the reaction of MSM has been largely to ignore the story, or to minimize its significance. As far as I have been able to discover, the Los Angeles Times did not report the story at all. NPR reports it under the headline, "Expert: Iraq WMD Find Did Not Point to Ongoing Program," thereby debunking the story even as it reported it. Other MSM dismissed the story by stating that the weapons dated to before the 1991 Gulf War, that there was no evidence of "stockpiling" (500 shells apparently being an insignificant collection) or that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein was conducting an ongoing weapons program.

In contrast, Christopher Hitchens, in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show today, reported that he had first hand information that Hussein was negotiating in March 2003 to purchase missiles from North Korea. I am sure that NPR would respond that Hussein may have wanted the missiles for peaceful space exploration.

Geneva May Not Apply to Captured Terrorists; But Our Moral Code Does

It is not often that I disagree with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, but today is one of those days. Opinion Journal has published an editorial called, "The Savages, A Barbaric Enemy Disqualified From the Geneva Conventions." The editorial suggests that heinous acts of the Iraqi insurgents, such as the recent torture murder of two U.S. soldiers, disqualifies captured insurgents from treatment in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The unsigned staff editorial states, "The Convention extends those privileges to combatants who abide by the laws it sets for war, including the treatment of prisoners."

That statement is legally correct. However, it does not describe how the United States has historically observed the Geneva Conventions. For example, Japan generally disregarded the Geneva Convention in its treatment of Allied prisoners of war and civilians, imposing slave labor, and engaging in torture and murder on a large-scale basis. Nonetheless, Japanese prisoners of war were generally treated humanely and in accordance with the dictates of the Conventions. (Of course, there are always exceptions, and the test in the case of abuses is whether the military authority whose soldiers have violated the rules of war tries and punishes the abusers. In Iraq, the U.S. armed forces have performed in an exemplary manner in investigating alleged crimes and prosecuting accused soldiers, as we have painfully witnessed.) (Historical Note: The current Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War did not come into effect until October 1950, after the conclusion of World War II, but both Japan and Germany were parties to the predecessor treaties.)

The editorial also states, "Combatants who fail to obey those laws--by not wearing distinctive military insignia or targeting civilians--are not entitled to its privileges." Again, a legally correct statement, but one that must be qualified with a reality check. In World War II, both the United States and Great Britain, following the earlier example of Germany, engaged in large scale strategic bombing of civilian targets, including cities. Although justified at the time as striking at military targets, that conclusion cannot be sustained by a close examination of the facts. The fire bombing of Dresden, generally conceded to have been bereft of military targets, is just one example. The strategic bombing of Japanese cities was conceived and intended to weaken the morale of the civilian population, not to destroy any military targets.

Nonetheless, the overall compliance by the United States and Great Britain to the Geneva Conventions during World War II was far superior to that of their enemies, and I hope that the editors of the Wall Street Journal would not argue that the cited exceptions of targeting civilian populations for aerial bombing somehow justifed inhumane treatment of U.S. and British prisoners by Japan and Germany (as the Japanese themselves did argue).

I strongly oppose the calls to close the Guantanamo Prison. Indeed, the proponents of closing Gitmo object to it precisely because we are treating the prisoners there as enemy combatants captured on the battlefield, even though they are not legally entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Under the Geneva Conventions, captured combatants are not entitled to trials or legal counsel on the issue of the correctness of their capture and captivity, and they are not entitled to release until the conflict has ended.

Ironically, even though the Conventions do not strictly apply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan or Iraq, it is highly likely that at no time in the history of the Geneva Conventions has any prison camp has been run more humanely and more in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Conventions than at Gitmo. Despite the savagery of our enemies, that should continue.

Illegal Immigration: A Carnival of Sound Thinking

Thanks to Called As Seen, we have links to excellent commentary (complete with hard questions and some pretty good evidence that several "emporers" are wearing no clothes) at The Anchoress, Big Lizards, The Pondering American, and The Pink Flamingo.

These are conservative voices that are not being heard on talk radio or in the Congressional offices of demogogues like Tom Tancredo. If you agree with Tancredo, read these posts; they may cause you to think a second time. If you don't agree with Trancredo, you'll be happy to see some intelligent, passionate writing about the subject.

Well done, everyone.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Now Take the Dixie Chicks--PLEASE!

They say that travel opens one's mind. In the case of the Dixie Chicks, a trip to Europe seems to open their minds until their brains fall out. On an overseas tour to promote their latest album, as reported here, the Chicks gave an interview to the UK's Telegraph, in which they attacked other country artists for being patriotic. Natalie Maines said, "The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country... I don't see why people care about patriotism."

Perhaps because such people recognize the opportunities that their country has given them, Ms. Maines. France, please offer these ladies French citizenship, so they can surround themselves with like-minded people, at least until the Islamists take over. Oh, and Ms. Maines, when you leave, please take Alec Baldwin with you. We are still waiting for him to make good on his promise.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Power Line's Blind Spot

It is significant that bloggers as sharp and deep as the Power Line writers share with other, less perceptive conservative commentators, a blind spot on illegal immigration: They think the American people agree with them. The latest evidence:

The Associated Press reports that the effort to pass a compromise immigration bill this year is "all but doomed." The AP blames "election-year concerns in the House" and "conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants." Translated, this means that the House leadership knows that the American people do not support a guest worker program or a path to citizenship for illegals, not to mention the more objectionable features of the Senate bill that are not yet widely known to the public. [Emphasis added.]
I'll agree that the Senate bill is full of provisions that should be stripped out, but that's what conference committees are for. As for public opinion, I'm aware of no credible polling that has shown anything other than what this Pew Research Center poll revealed. As I noted then:
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.
Read the poll. Remember, we're talking Republicans only here. 22% think illegals should be allowed to stay. The 42% who think illegals should get temorary status are the vast middle of the party. Only 29% of Republicans think illegals should be sent home. That 29% is the slice of the party to which congressional Republicans are now kow-towing. Power Line and Laura Ingraham keep referring to that 29% of one political party as "the American people." Sometimes I think conservative blogs and talk radio hosts with large audiences believe their audience is representative of the entire nation.

What's going on here is that Republican members of Congress are terrified that their base supporters will stay home on election day unless an "enforcement only" approach is adopted. That narrow approach won't fly politically, so nothing will happen this year on immigration. Those are the political realities, and with the Republican margin in the House as razor-thin as it is, I completely understand the GOP's relucance to act.

But let's not attribute that reluctance to the GOP leadership being in touch with "the American people." They're really in touch with less that one-third of the GOP-- about 29% of hard-core Republican voters.

Update: Harold Hutchison at Called As Seen has more on the charming tactics of that hard-core opposition group within the GOP. These are difficult people to get next to.

Update 2: Harold's at it again, here. Read the whole thing -- it is passionate and persuasive.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Article 6 Blog Interviews Richard John Neuhaus

I'm confident that some readers of this blog will be interested in a discussion that is flowering right now on Article 6 Blog. The post is an interview with the Reverend Richard John Neuhaus, a well-known thinker in Christian (especially Catholic) circles. I personally found Fr. Neuhaus's comments fascinating.

I am one of the co-authors of Article 6 Blog, and I think this discussion is of the highest quality and very much worth following. My blogging partner John Schroeder and I are trying to promote some clarity on differences between Mormons and evangelicals, and by doing so to reduce some of the unfortunate enmity that has existed.

Anyway, John and I would love to see our Article 6 Blog discussion expand -- both on our blog and on other sites. You can read the Neuhaus interview here, and express your own views on the comments forum.

Ann Coulter and Right-Wing Political Correctness

Thanks to Ken Prescott at Called As Seen, we have seen these Ann Coulter statements from this interview:
John Hawkins: How about dashing off a quick sentence or even just a word or two about the following individuals...

Cindy Sheehan: The Dennis Rodman of the peace movement.
Joe Wilson: World's most intensely private exhibitionist.
Michael Moore: Rumors of his depth are greatly exaggerated.
John Murtha: The reason soldiers invented "fragging."
George Bush: My Commander-In-Chief.
John McCain: War hero and let's leave it at that.
Alec Baldwin: Our main source of so-called "greenhouse gases".
Most of this is simple hard-edged political commentary, and pretty good stuff at that.

Except for the itaclicized portion about John Murtha. I think Murtha's positions on Iraq are foolish and I think he's acting like a fool. But Coulter's comment is appalling. Ken Prescott:
Ann, I racked and stacked one of my Marines back in the day for making a joke about fragging an officer, and I personally marched him to the brig. You do not joke about stuff like this, particularly about an elected official, no matter how much you dislike him.
Before you start suggesting that we need to cut Coulter some slack, please note that the above interview was done by e-mail. There was no slip of the lip here. She deliberately typed those words.

Dean Barnett of Soxblog says it well:
[T]he real issue with Ann . . . is her style. [Other analysts] distill . . . her rhetoric down to its substance; the only reason such an exercise is necessary is because her rhetoric is unnecessarily laden with ad hominem insults, personal invective and gratuitous bomb throwing. If Coulter wants her ideas to be taken seriously, she should cease burying them under the personal attacks that her work so prominently features.
Someone with high-profile credibility on the center-right or right needs to say something about these sorts of Coulter excesses. Otherwise, their own credibility suffers. Last week I heard Michael Medved, a talk radio host I admire greatly, go to great lengths to defend Coulter and excuse her over-the-top punditry. Others have done the same. I wonder if these hosts have not become so afraid of their core audience that they have succumbed to a new form of political correctness: Thou shalt not call out or criticize very conservative pundits when they cross the line?

Almost 5 year ago National Review Online severed its relationship with Coulter. Jonah Goldberg's comments about that famous event are telling:

In the wake of her invade-and-Christianize-them column, Coulter wrote a long, rambling rant of a response to her critics that was barely coherent. She's a smart and funny person, but this was Ann at her worst — emoting rather than thinking, and badly needing editing and some self-censorship, or what is commonly referred to as "judgment."
Read the whole thing. I wish more conservatives were willing to show the spine that Goldberg and NRO showed. (Goldberg even apologized for running the Coulter column that sparked the controversy.)

To my mind, most of what Coulter says is defensible, but her very frequent out-of-line zingers are not. More of us should call her on such lapses. Otherwise, I think we are complicit in her rhetorical malpractice.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Illegal Immigration Quote of The Day

Fred Barnes:

On immigration, Rove has reinforced Bush's instincts, which are to seek the maximum--stiffer border enforcement, a temporary worker program, and earned citizenship for illegal immigrants living in the United States. This irritates conservatives who favor enforcement only, but matches the view of Reagan, the conservative standard-bearer.

Immigration affects the Hispanic vote, a long-term obsession of Rove and Bush. In 2004, Bush lifted the Republican share of that vote to 44 percent, a record for a Republican presidential candidate. Left to their own devices, conservatives and congressional Republicans would enact an enforcement-only bill that might drive away Hispanics and deny Republicans a lasting majority in America. Rove and Bush are eager to prevent that by saving conservatives from themselves.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Gingrich for President?

Read this blistering discussion of that idea. It may remind you of why Republicans were not all that unhappy when Newt left the electoral stage back in 1998, and why so many of us (incuding me) think he should stay in the audience now.

Are Left-Wing Blogs Blind to Their Own Anti-Semitism?

Check out this page on The Daily Kos. Satire has its place, of course, but why descend to this sort of thing?

Then again, I am accustomed to reading blogs that have class. So I rarely read Kos.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt.)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Are You A Conservative?

Arnold Kling has an interesting set of questions that divide conservatives and liberals. I don't like political litmus tests, but this is something quite different and thought-provoking.

(HT: John Schroeder at Article 6 Blog.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The New York Times: Positive on Iraq?

I'm out of town and up late and happened to have the Charlie Rose show on while checking my e-mail. A New York Times reporter named John F. Burns is reporting on Iraq, in a relentlessly positive way. He thinks things are headed the right direction. Am I dreaming?

Caroline Glick: Iraq, Israel are Fronts in the Same War

Regular readers of the Hedgehog Blog know that the Kosher Hedgehog is a great fan of Caroline Glick, Middle East Fellow for Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post. Recently, Caroline was interviewed by Yishai Fleisher at Israel National News.

His opening question was almost personal, and was one that I would have liked to have asked her myself: Ms. Glick repeatedly writes about how Israel's confrontation with the Palestinians is a theater in the overall war by an international Islamic extremist movement to try to create an Islamic world; about how the battle to compel Israel to yield territory in Gaza (successful) and the West Bank (outcome still in doubt) is a tactic of the overall strategic goal of Israel's destruction; and that, although Israel may be the first target of the Islamic extremists, it will not be the last. Every prediction made by Ms. Glick and Mr. Gaffney regarding the consequences of an Israeli pullout from Gaza have proven correct. Yet their views seem at best to be rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, by the Kadima-led government, and by a majority of the Israeli public at large. At worst, Gaffney and Glick are the target of frequent vitriolic attacks by the Left. Does she ever get discouraged and frustrated?

"Of course," she answered. However, she added, giving up, while sometimes attractive, is not really an option. There really are people out there trying to kill her, she noted, and they would continue to do so even if she stopped writing.

She emphasized the connections between the Israeli theater and the overall war against the Islamic extremists:
"Every time Israel leaves territory, we give them hope that they're winning. I think about the 1500 Israelis who have been killed since 1993, since Oslo, I think all of them would still be alive today. It's self-inflicted, we did this to ourselves, and we brought the PLO in. Every time Israel gives up land, it's not just Israelis that get killed, it's Americans in Iran, Shiites and Christians in Pakistan, and it's Canadian Muslims who get incited to believe that they'll be able to overthrow Canada, or British Muslims who believe they will be able to turn the houses of Parliament into a mosque. Because they see that the forces of Jihad are on the march and the forces of freedom, the forces of democracy, the forces of western civilization are on a retreat."
However, she concluded optimistically that she foresees an eventual victory for freedom, and defeat for Islamic fascism, because ultimately free people will fight desperately to remain free:
"I'm hopeful because we have three things going for us, one is that we're right. It doesn't matter how much people want to deny reality, reality is what it is and eventually people are going to have to see the truth. Second, today in Israel there are people who want another Holocaust and seek to annihilate the Jewish people. But today we are much stronger, even with all our weaknesses, than we were in 1939. We have to make sure to remain strong. The third thing is that we thought that the tiger of the free world woke up after 9/11, and maybe it did for five minutes and then proceeded to go back to sleep. At the end of the day people want to be free. It doesn't matter how many people are on the side of Jihad or what kind of weapons they have - they'll be no match for freedom and we'll win."
I pray that she is right. Listen to the entire interview here, and read her most recent Jerusalem Post column here.


The Democrats have had it all their own way for a while, pounding away at the Bush Administration and the Iraq War, while the White House held its fire. This week, in the wake of the killing of arch Al Qaeda terrorist Zarqawi, the formation of the new Iraqi government, the President's surprise trip to Baghdad, and the announcement by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Karl Rove will not be indicted in connection with the Victoria Plame investigation; President George W. Bush apparently has decided that the time has come to at least commence firing for range. Here is the President in today's White House Press Conference, responding to the typical pro-Democratic question from a member of the White House Press Corps. (aka, "the enemy within"):
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I'm pleased to be here. Mr. President, polls show that the public thinks Democrats can do a better job of running the country than Republicans. Are you concerned that Republicans will lose control of Congress in November? And do you think there's anything you could have done differently to put them in a better position, coming up in the midterms?

THE PRESIDENT: I remember 2004. At one point, people -- you would have stood up and said, you know, there's no way you can get reelected, if you had been listening to those polls. I can't remember, I was probably down double digits at some point. And they said, how can you possibly stand here and tell us you're going to get reelected. Listen, the elections are a long way off. What's going to matter is who has got the plan that will enable us to succeed in Iraq and keep the economy growing. And I look forward to the campaign. And I believe we're going to hold the House and the Senate, because our philosophy is one that is forward-looking and optimistic and has worked. We've got a record to run on.

There's an interesting debate in the Democrat Party about how quick to pull out of Iraq. Pulling out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission will make the world a more dangerous place. It's bad policy. I know it may sound good politically; it will endanger our country to pull out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission.
See, Iraq is a part of the global war on terror. It's not "the" global war on terror, it's a theater in the global war on terror. And if we fail in Iraq, it's going to embolden al Qaeda types. It will weaken the resolve of moderate nations to stand up to the Islamic fascists. It will cause people to lose their nerve and not stay strong.

And so I look forward to taking the debate -- that's not quite right -- kind of getting warmed up as a result of your question -- the timing is not right for me to get out there yet. But I think the Democrat economic policy of raising people's taxes isn't going to work either. I know they'll couch it in all kinds of language, but really what they're saying is we're going to raise your taxes.

So, you know, Sheryl, thanks for your question. I don't necessarily buy your premise. I feel confident we will hold the House and the Senate.
Direct hit. I can't wait until the salvos begin in earnest.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Iraq The Model Blogger Says Sane Iraqis Celebrate Zarqawi's Death

Maybe there is hope for the Middle East. On the day that President George W. Bush made his surprise visit to Iraq, Mohammed Fahdil, who with his brother, Omar, run the Baghdad-based, award-winning Iraq the Model Blog, wrote this piece for the Wall Street Journal, entitled "A Demon's Demise: Hamas mourns Zarqawi. In Iraq, the sane are celebrating." If, as Mr. Fahdil insists is happening, the average Iraqi on the street (whether Shiite, Sunni or Kurd) is beginning to realize that Islamic fanatic groups such as Hamas are not friends of Iraq, one may justifiably feel some optimism that Iraq may actually emerge as the first democratic Arab Islamic nation. However, Mr. Fahdil also makes the sobering observation that, while all Iraqi commentators celebrated Zarqawi's demise, 90% of all non-Iraqi Arab commentators portrayed the murderous villain as a martyr.

To end on an optimistic note, here is a link to a transcript of President Bush's remarks today to U.S. troops in Baghdad.

Monday, June 12, 2006

For California Citizens

I received the following information in an e-mail today and am posting it as a public service:
"You may know about a piece of legislation that is pending in Sacramento at this time. It's SB1437, which is the Homosexual Curriculum Education bill. If this bill passes, it would require that all school districts teach about the homosexual/lesbian, transgender, etc. lifestyles and that this info be included in textbooks. It would be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade. Join me in calling Gov. Schwarzenegger about this bill. It will take less than a minute of your time.

"Please call the Governor's switchboard at 916-445-2841.

"Phone recording will ask if you want this message in English: Yes, press 1

"Is this in regards to a legislation bill? Yes, press 2

"Is the bill SB 1437 ? Yes, press 1

"Are you in favor of this legislation? No, press 2

"That's all you have to do. Now forward this to others who live in California."

Here's the relevant portion of SV 1437:
Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and an age-appropriate study of the role and contributions of both men and women, Black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and other ethnic groups, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.

Here's the entire text of the bill.

Please respond as your conscience demands.

The Palestinian Bloods and Crips Go At Each Other Again

As reported by AP here, "Hundreds of Palestinian security forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas went on a rampage against the Hamas-led government Monday night, riddling the [Palestinian Authority] parliament and Cabinet buildings [in Ramallah] with bullets and setting them on fire in retaliation for an attack by Hamas gunmen. "
Some observations and questions:
(1) This rampage is very much like the riots in South Central Los Angeles, where the rioters burned down and trashed the businesses that serve their own community. If Fatah were to return to power, they would operate out of the very government buildings that they are wrecking.
(2) As I have asked in the past, if money is so short in the Palestinian Authority, why is there always money for guns and uniforms? Also, who is going to pay to repair these buildings?
(3) Question for those people who believe that Israel's identity as a Jewish State is an anachronism, and the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue is a secular state encompassing what is now Israel, Gaza and the so-called West Bank--If these thugs can't even get along with each other; what possibility is there that they would live peacefully along side the hated Jews?

Reflections on Meeting Mitt Romney

I had an opportunity to meet Governor Romney and his wife Ann last Friday night, and I share my impressions on Article 6 Blog.

Summary: I have not had a chance to see the man under fire in a real campaign, but I think he's the real deal.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Weekend In Sderot: Terrorists Launch 50 Kassam Rockets at Negev Town

At the right, school children in the Israeli town of Sderot participate in a "duck and cover" drill to prepare for Kassam rocket attacks. Their preparation is timely. As reported here in The Jerusalem Post, this past weekend, Palestinian terrorists launched more than 50 rockets from Bet Hanun in Gaza at the Israeli town in the Western Negev desert; on Sunday alone at least 26 rockets rained down on the town. The toll: one man critically wounded, two more persons lightly wounded, the entire town psychologically wounded.

Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal grimly reported the situation to Prime Minister Olmert with these words:

"You have to choose. If you do not destroy Beit Hanun, Sderot will become a ghost town. The people of this city cannot suffer any more Kassam attacks. It's impossible to live here now."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Ilegal Immigration: The Pence Plan

In this Wall Street Journal Editorial Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who will never be accused of being anything but a rock-solid conservative, describes his proposed immigration compromise. The key element is Pence's plan for dealing with the 12 million illegals who are already here-- always the most contentious aspect of any illegal immigration proposal. I do not think Pence's plan will be adopted, but something close to it might be-- if there is an immigration reform bill at all.


Pence's bill must be understood in context. The purist approach to illegal immigration, from hard-shell conservatives, has been "go home, then come back:" All the illegals now in the USA must go home and return only as any other immigrant would.

I continue to think that this is a pipe-dream and not an serious solution. My guess is that those few serious people (like Ed Meese) who subscribe to "go home, then come back" know that their idea will never be implemented. Instead, they are hoping their hard-line position will influence the debate so that Congress will pass a bill as close to that position as possible. (I am, of course, referring to those who actually want to see a bill passed; there are a substantial number of hard-liners who, instead of a bill, would like to have an issue to run on this fall.)

How Pence Would Solve The Problem

Pence's bill is a creative effort to adopt "go home, then come back," but to avoid a draconian result and posible humanitarian disaster. Here's how he describes it:
[M]y bill does not include a so-called path to citizenship, i.e., an amnesty, for the some 12 million illegal aliens in this country. Instead, it insists that they leave and come back legally if they have a job opportunity in the U.S. They will be allowed to do so under the terms of a guest-worker program that will be implemented by firms in the private sector, not by a new government bureaucracy.

Private worker-placement agencies -- "Ellis Island Centers" -- would be licensed by the federal government to match guest workers with jobs that employers cannot fill with American workers. These agencies will match guest workers with jobs, perform health screening, fingerprint them, and convey the appropriate information to the FBI and Homeland Security so that a background check can be performed. Once this is done, the guest worker would be provided with a visa issued by the State Department. The whole process will take a matter of one week, or less.

My immigration reform plan does not favor illegal immigrants. Anyone may apply for a guest-worker visa at the new Ellis Island Centers; indeed, the plan may actually work to the advantage of applicants who have never violated our immigration laws, since guest-worker visas will be issued only outside the U.S.

There will initially be no cap on the number of visas that can be issued; for the first three years, the market and the needs of U.S. employers will set the limit on the number of guest workers. This is necessary in order to provide the incentive for illegal aliens in this country to self-deport and come back legally. After three years, however, a reasonable limit on the number of these "W" visas will be determined by the Department of Labor, based on employment statistics, employer needs and other research.

Nevertheless, there will be a limit on the amount of time guest workers can spend in this country. They would be allowed to renew their visas, but only for a period of up to six years. And in order to receive their first renewal, they would be required to study English and pass an English proficiency class.

After six years, a guest worker must decide whether to return home or seek citizenship. But he will do so under the normal rules and regulations of our naturalization laws. There is no path to citizenship in my bill.
So in Pence's ideal world, the 12 million already here would still need to go home, and could return only if there is a job for them here.

It won't work. Can anyone really believe that illegal immigrants who are entrepeneurs, working for themselves, will go home and try to match up with an employer? How does a self-employed ice cream vendor, tailor, home handyman, gardener or housekeeper do that? Many have lived here for years and have children also living here who are American citizens.

Pence's bill is a noble effort and a fine basis for discussion. Maybe something close to it will find its way into the final bill. But it's no solution.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Traditional Marriage Studied And Supported

In a message left on the Article6blog comment forum, "CarlH" refers to a problem in conservative rhetoric, which he describes as
the strange difficulty that conservatives seem to have had in clearly articulating a reasoned basis for society's interest in and protection of traditional family structures (at least without resort to what the left consistently slams as arguments from religious belief).
Carl also alerts us to a report by The Witherspoon Institute entitled "Marriage and The Public Good: Ten Principles." The Witherspoon report articulates a comprehensive, scholarly, yet accessible argument for the societal interest to which Carl refers. The Executive Summary of the document is here. An excerpt:
In recent years, marriage has weakened, with serious negative consequences for society as a whole. Four developments are especially troubling: divorce, illegitimacy, cohabitation, and same-sex marriage.

The purpose of this document is to make a substantial new contribution to the public debate over marriage. Too often, the rational case for marriage is not made at all or not made very well. As scholars, we are persuaded that the case for marriage can be made and won at the level of reason. Marriage protects children, men and women, and the common good. The health of marriage is particularly important in a free society, which depends upon citizens to govern their private lives and rear their children responsibly, so as to limit the scope, size, and power of the state. The nation's retreat from marriage has been particularly consequential for our society's most vulnerable communities: minorities and the poor pay a disproportionately heavy price when marriage declines in their communities. Marriage also offers men and women as spouses a good they can have in no other way: a mutual and complete giving of the self. Thus, marriage understood as the enduring union of husband and wife is both a good in itself and also advances the public interest.

We affirm the following ten principles that summarize the value of marriage- a choice that most people want to make, and that society should endorse and support.

Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good

  • Marriage is a personal union, intended for the whole of life, of husband and wife.
  • Marriage is a profound human good, elevating and perfecting our social and sexual nature.
  • Ordinarily, both men and women who marry are better off as a result.
  • Marriage protects and promotes the wellbeing of children.
  • Marriage sustains civil society and promotes the common good.
  • Marriage is a wealth-creating institution, increasing human and social capital.
  • When marriage weakens, the equality gap widens, as children suffer from the disadvantages of growing up in homes without committed mothers and fathers.
  • A functioning marriage culture serves to protect political liberty and foster limited government.
  • The laws that govern marriage matter significantly.
  • "Civil marriage" and "religious marriage" cannot be rigidly or completely divorced from one another.
Our thanks to Carl for bringing the report to our attention. If you think traditional marriage is a serious matter, the Witherspoon report is an excellent document to print out, ponder, and keep in your library.

Palestinians Protest Death of Al-Zarqawi

Those who protest and mourn the death of your mortal enemy are probably also your mortal enemies. These photographs show Palestinians in Khan Yunis, in Gaza, protesting the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi yesterday by a U.S. Air Force air strike. As reported by Israel National News, an official Hamas announcement mourned the "murder" of al-Zarqawi, whom it described as a "jihad warrior," who "fell in the name of Allah." Hamas officials read aloud the official government declaration, which accused the Americans of a "Crusader" killing of the Al-Qaeda leader on Islamic homeland territory.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Al-Zarquawi Assumes Room Temperature

This is an excellent development. I must admit that I feel his death should have been more ignominious, and a more painful death would not have bothered me. Feelings aside, my belief is that unimaginable eternal suffering awaits this evil man, so his manner of death is really unimportant.

InstaPundit has an excellent roundup.

UPDATE: Centcom's site has video of the air strike that killed Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Wonk's-Eye View of The Election Results in Calfornia's 50th

I took my bachelor's degree in political science and still have, deep down, the heart and mind of a wonk; so I loved this analysis by Jay Cost of the results in the special election in California's 50th Congressional district-- formerly held by Randall Cunningham, who now resides in a federal prison. An interesting excerpt:
"Since WWII, it has increasingly been the case that the 'action' in partisan seat swings is confined to the open seats. Incumbents have become safer and safer. Thus, beating 12 Republican incumbents in 2006 is difficult to imagine. It becomes even more difficult to imagine when we put together a list of the twelve. Inevitably - we will find on that list about a half dozen incumbents who are (a) in districts at least as conservative as CA 50, (b) not on a ballot that offers structural advantages to the Democrats, (c) not tarnished by scandal.

"How do the Democrats beat so many Republican incumbents in conservative districts when they could not win in CA 50? I have yet to read a convincing answer to my question."
Well, I hope he's right.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bernard Lewis: The Iranian Islamic Revolution Has Entered Its Stalinist Phase

Back on May 1, the Hedgehog Blog linked to a tribute to Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis by Professor Fouad Ajami, on the occasion of Professor Lewis' 90th birthday. I referred to Professor Lewis as one of the Cassandras of our time. Thanks, and a hat tip to these blogs: Hugh Hewitt; Chris At Home; and Counterterrorism Blog; for linking us to the transcript of the April 27, 2006 symposium called "Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis," sponsored by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It was at this symposium that Professor Lewis made the following remarks:
"No, it [the armed confrontation of the United States and Islamic militants in Afghanistan and Iraq] has not turned out the way I had anticipated. I had underestimated our capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. "
"The Iranian revolution has gone through many phases. It has had its Jacobins and its Gizondins, its Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, its terror. And I would say it's now in the Stalinist phase, and that also has a global impact."
"I am inclined to believe in the sincerity of Ahmadinejad. I think that he really believes the apocalyptic language that he is using. Remember that Muslims, like Christians and Jews, have a sort of end-of-time scenario in which a Messianic figure will appear. In their case, in the case of the Shiites, the hidden imam who will emerge from hiding, who will fight against the powers of evil, the anti-Christ in Christianity, Gog and Magog in Judaism, and the Dajjal in Islam, a role in which we are being cast now. And he really seems to believe that the apocalyptic age has come, that this is the final struggle that will lead to the final victory and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

"Others in the ruling establishment in Iran may share this belief. I am inclined to think that most of them are probably more cynical and regard it as a useful distraction from their domestic problems and also a useful weapon in their external relations, because he has been doing very well and he seems to be succeeding, for example, on the question of nuclear weapons. And every time they make an advance, we move the point at which we won't tolerate it anymore, and this has happened again and again. Each time, we say, the next step we will not allow. We have shown ourselves to be, shall we say, remarkably adaptable in this respect, and this is no way to win friends and influence people.
"I think that the way that [Iranian President] Ahmadinejad is talking now shows quite clearly his contempt for the Western world in general and the United States in particular. They [the Islamic leaders of Iran] feel they are dealing with, as Osama bin Laden put it, an effete, degenerate, pampered enemy incapable of real resistance. And they are proceeding on that assumption. Remember that they have no understanding or experience of the free debate of an open society. Where we see free debate and criticism, they see fear, weakness and division; they proceed accordingly, and every day brings new evidence of that from Iran.
"I think it is a dangerous situation. And my only hope is that they are not right in their interpretation of the Western world. I have often thought in recently years of World War II — you were told earlier that I'm ancient myself. The most vividly remembered year of my life was the year 1940. And more recently I have been thinking of 1938 rather than of 1940. We seem to be in the mode of Chamberlain and Munich rather than of Churchill."

An Interesting Mitt Romney Interview

I continue to be intrigued by Governor Romney's possible candidacy for president. (Article6blog is evidence of my interest in the issues a Romney candidacy will raise.)

Last night he was interviewed on the Charlie Rose show. If, like me, you never stay up to watch that show, you can see it here. There's a free live stream of the previous day's show. Yesterday's show (the June 5 broadcast) was not yet posted at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time. I called the show's office and they said it will be up later today.

The interview's interesting on many levels. I think Romney is a serious candidate. He certainly does well on television.

One interesting (and revelaing) aspect of the interview was that Woodruff went out of her way to ask Romney what he thinks of the Al Gore global warming movie. Romney's response was not as interesting as Woodruff's choice of subject matter. Out of all the issues now facing the country, why is that one potential Democratic candidate's pet issue a subject for an interview with a potential Republican candidate?

7 Missiles Launched at Negev; 2 Strike Sderot; Miraculously No Lives Lost

The "gentlemen" to the left are Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, preparing to launch Kassam rockets at targets inside Israel. As reported here by Arutz Sheva Israel National News, terrorists launched 7 rockets into the Western Negev region of Israel today, two of which struck targets in the town of Sderot. Some of the results are shown at the right--a rocket smashed into a child's bedroom. Another rocket hit parked cars in a school parking lot. Miraculously, no lives were lost. The rocket that struck the home only lightly injured a woman in the house, while bystanders at the school parking lot were treated for shock.

The Psalmist wrote, "I say of the Lord, He is my refuge and fortress; my God in whom I trust." For the people of Sderot and the Negev, God has been their missile defense system, and his miraculous protection of them is openly revealed. Nonetheless, the Talmud advises, "Do not rely on a miracle," and the citizens of Sderot echo that sentiment, and ask their government, "How long can we rely on miracles?"

Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, and Patrick Fitzgerald: So It's Come Down to This?

Back before former Ambassador Joseph Wilson became a kind of running joke, I blogged quite a bit about him. See here, here, here, here, and especially here and here, for example. Now he's become an interesting phenomenon-- an opportunist and a liar who, although discredited, still gets a lot of attention and undeserved credibility because-- well, why? Because the mainstream news media desperately wants his story to be true. This Wall Street Journal editorial is a very useful primer on the entire story.

Wilson, you'll recall, used 16 words from President Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech and made himself famous:
The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

Subsequent official inquiries have found these words to be true.

For a while Ambassador Wilson was the toast of the anti-Bush crowd and the news media (excuse the redundancy). He even joined the Kerry campaign as an adviser.

Mr. Wilson later was shown to be a liar himself, when he said his wife, a CIA employee, had nothing to do with his getting an earlier assignment to go to Niger to investigate Hussein's efforts to acquire uranium from that country. The Senate Intelligence Committee's report found this claim to be false.

Wilson was quietly dropped from the Kerry campaign. He seemed to be yesterday's news, and even shut up for a while.

But Wilson's been a lot like Jason in the "Halloween" movies. He just keeps coming back. Patrick Fitzgerald entered the seen and the news media was in a swoon over the indictment of Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, and the possibility that Cheney himself was involved in outing Ms. Plame, who had been a covert agent at some point.

Nothing ever came of that, for many reasons, but Fitzgerald, like most proscutors, just knows there's a crime in there somewhere, and is trying to get Mr. Libby for obstruction of justice. As the Journal editorial notes, the case is looking thin indeed:
All of this matters because it suggests that Mr. Fitzgerald is scrambling
even now to explain why a seasoned attorney such as Mr. Libby would lie to a grand jury. The prosecutor's original indictment doesn't mention a motive. And his mention of our editorial suggests he's now trying to invent a motive out of Mr. Libby's attempt to defend the White House from Mr. Wilson's manifestly false allegations at the onset of a Presidential election campaign. (Mr. Wilson joined the Kerry campaign until he was dropped after the official probes destroyed his credibility.)

There is all the difference in the world between seeking to respond to the substance of Mr. Wilson's charges, as Mr. Libby did, and taking revenge on him by blowing his wife's cover, which was the motive originally hypothesized by Bush critics for the Plame exposure. The more of Mr. Fitzgerald's case that becomes public, the more it looks like he has made the terrible mistake for a prosecutor of taking Joe Wilson's side in what was essentially a political fight.

The link requires registration, but I hope you can read the whole thing.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Nephews of Hamas Leader Served In Israeli Army

The gentleman pictured to the left is Hamas leader and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. As reported last week in the Daily Telegraph, Mr. Haniyeh, who has sworn the destruction of Israel, actually has two sisters, married to Bedouin men, who live relatively prosperous lives in the Israeli town of Tel Sheva, in the Negev Desert, and who hold full Israeli citizenship. Some of his nephews have even served in the Israeli Defense Forces, which accepts Bedouin and Druse Arabs as enlistees.

One frequently hears leftists in the United States and Europe condemn Israel as an apartheid state, which committed ethnic cleansing of Palestinians at its creation. This news story helps put the record straight. Consider these facts:

* Mr. Haniyeh's sisters hold full Israeli citizenship, may vote in free elections, have freedom to practice their Muslim faith, and freedom to criticize the Israeli government. They own their own homes. Their children, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces, may attend university if they are able to pass the entrance examination, as many Israeli Arabs do. They have more extensive civil rights than they would have in any Arab country. Their standard of living and level of education are higher than that of the citizens of any Arab country.

*In contrast, the Palestinian Authority, even before Hamas came to power, adopted a Jordanian law dating back to pre-1967, under which any Arab who sells land to a Jew is guilty of a capital offense, i.e., the death penalty. This law is not theoretical--it has been enforced.

*If the sisters of an Israeli leader, such as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, were to move to a town under the control of the Palestinian Authority, it is likely that their lifespan would be measureable in hours. If they survived (and there are some Israeli Jewish women living with Arab husbands in towns under Palestinian Authority control), they would have no right to practice Judaism, no ability to own property and no civil rights.

*Israel has approximately 2,000,000 Arab citizens. These Arabs are for the most part the descendents of about 150,000 Arabs who remained in Israel after its 1948 War of Independence. One often hears Israel accused of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians. If that is the case, Israelis are very bad at genocide, since its Arab population has increased over ten-fold in less than 60 years.

*In contrast, of the several hundred thousand Jews who formerly lived in Arab countries, prior to the creation of the State of Israel, only a few thousand remain. Only Morocco and Tunesia still have significant Jewish populations. Those Jews who still live in the Arab world, again excepting out Morocco and Tunesia, are second-class citizens living in fear and trepidation. Jewish populations in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq, which once numbered in the tens of thousands, are now reduced to tens. When the British Army entered Baghdad in 1921, Jews were the single most numerous ethnic group, comprising some 80,000 people out of a total population of 202,000, as related in this academic paper. The Jews of Baghdad outnumbered the Shias, the Sunnis and the Kurds in that city. Its illustrious Jewish families included the Sassoons. Now perhaps less than 20 Jews remain.

Who, then, has conducted ethnic cleansing and operates an apartheid state, Israel or the Arab nations?

Lowell adds: With tongue just slightly in cheek, I object to the above characterization of Mr. Haniyeh as a "gentleman."

The Culture of Corruption

With stories like this one in the Washington Post appearing daily, it looks like the Democrats will have a hard time making the Republicans look any worse than they do. Again, it's too bad that the Republican's performance in Congress has been so poor that they have to depend on the Democrats to bail them out by making big mistakes. But that's where we seem to be right now.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dry Bones on Hezbollah

Yaakov Kirschen draws the popular Dry Bones cartoon for the Jerusalem Post. Here is his take on Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist group supported by Iran.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Francine Busby: Oops!

I think the Democrat candidate for Congress in California's 50th district is in trouble. Read about her recent gaffe here on Power Line. It's a doozy.

Unfortunately, the congressional GOP has put itself in the position of needing the Democrats to make mistakes, so I guess this is a helpful development.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Visit Article6blog

This is a shameless plug for Article6blog, another blog I work on with John Schroeder of Blogotional. John's an evangelical Christian and I am a Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). After a serendipitous joint appearance by both John and me on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Hugh urged us to start a blog on presidential politics and religion. The current focus is on whether Mitt Romney's Mormon religion should be a factor in Christian voters' minds. The discussion is interesting, combining our two very different perspectives on religion and our very similar perspectives on politics, and we have set up a message board for comments and debate on the issues. Please take a look at the Article6blog here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Illegal Immigration: Just Not That Simple

Harold Hutchison's post at Called As Seen inspires a few comments here.

First, I am as interested in controlling the border as the next Republican, but people! Can we not be civil about this debate? We criticize the Kos Kool-Aid drinkers for their nastiness, but calling other conservatives quislings, agents of Mexico, and the like? Please!

Second, it is as clear as day that the electorate has a very mixed view of this issue. Harold's post here lays out the data. If I hear one more talk show host yelling about how Congress is not listening to "the American people," I may scream. "The American people" are all over the place on what to do about illegal immigration.

Third, compromise is possible. Gary Bauer discusses here the Pence solution I blogged about two days ago. The Pence plan could work. So could the phased-in earned amnesty mentioned by John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics, which would not kick in until border-control targets are met. Why aren't we talking about those ideas?

Finally, neither the Republican Party nor the conservative movement is a church. No one has the right to excommunicate a fellow conservative for failure to toe the line on a principle that one segment of the group has decided must be inviolate. PoliPundit destroyed his blog with that kind of thinking. Let's not destroy our party and movement the same way.