Monday, January 29, 2007

Why I Continue to Support the President on Iraq

"I cannot desert a man (and it would certainly be desertion in a court of honor) who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that a large part of it wants spirit to defend itself."
--Colonel William Taylor (pictured at left), in a letter to his fiance' on December 24, 1776, writing about another American wartime leader named George, General George Washington, as quoted in 1776, by David McCullough.

Oh, but there are such vast differences, one may say, between the situation in December 1776 and our own. The Bush Administration has committed blunders in Iraq. Certainly, but then, so did Washington commit huge blunders from July through December 24, 1776, failures of judgment and failures of leadership that had resulted in defeat at the Battle of Brooklyn, the capture of Fort Washington on Manhattan island, and the diminution and near destruction of the Continental Army, in the process very nearly dooming the campaign for American independence.

Has the American public lost confidence in George W. Bush? It appears so, but no more than the Colonial American public had lost faith in George Washington and the cause of independence from Great Britain. When on November 30, 1776, British Admiral Lord Richard Howe renewed his proclamation offering a "free and general pardon" to any colonist who came forward and took an oath of allegiance to the King, it was an immediate success. In New Jersey, which was the primary site of continuing armed resistance to the British forces, thousands flocked to the British camps to declare their loyalty.

One fundamental difference, perhaps, is what was then and is now at stake. When Lord Howe, in his amnesty proclamation, promised that those taking the oath of allegiance would reap "the security of their most valuable rights, under the just and most moderate authority of the crown and the Parliament of Britain," he was not making vain declarations. Few citizens of Great Britain in the late 18th century considered themselves the subjects of a despot. To the contrary, they enjoyed political freedoms unknown throughout the world, and the colonists themselves declared that they were fighting for their rights as Englishmen. All it would have taken to bestow those rights on the American colonists would have been a change of ruling parties in Parliament, from the Tories to the Whigs. Indeed, Lord Howe and his brother, General William Howe, respectively the commanders of His Majesty's navy and army in the American colonies, were both staunch Whigs, and sympathetic to the argument for American colonial representation in Parliament.

In contrast, Americans today confront in Islamism the most daunting challenge to human freedom since the demise of Communism, an ideology that would crush the individual freedoms, democratic institutions and humanistic values that are the proudest legacy of Western civilation, the legacy born of 2500 years of intellectual development from sources in Judaism, Christianity, Greek philosophy and government, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. To seek what we risk losing, one only need look at those benighted and unfortunate nations where the ideology of our enemies holds sway.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mitt Romney Calls For Stop to Iran's Nuclear Program

At the Seventh Annual Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel's Security, former Massachusetts Governor and GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney remarked:

"In the current conflict, the balance of forces is not nearly as dangerously close as it was during the moments of World War II and the Cold War. There's no comparison between the economic, diplomatic, and military resources of the civilized world and the weak terrorist states that threaten us.

In those previous global wars, there were many ways to lose, and victory was far from guaranteed. In the current conflict, there's only one way to lose, and that is if we as a civilization decide not to lift a finger to defend ourselves, our values, and our way of life. It is time for the world to plainly speak three truths:

One, Iran must be stopped. [Applause]

Two, Iran can be stopped. [Applause]

And three, Iran will be stopped. [Applause]

Thank you so much.

Following Governor Romney's speech, former U.S. Ambassador Ronald Lauder said: "I just want to say that you have heard one of the most comprehensive, direct, clear strategies on Iran. I must say I have heard many different statements on Iran. This was as good as it gets, as straight as it gets, and I for one am very, very much impressed. I think Governor Mitt Romney has it all together."

Video Excerpts from Governor Romney's speech may be seen at Mitt TV.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Question for Senator Hagel et al.

From Kate O'Beirne at NRO:
Rather than back a non-binding resolution of disaproval, why didn't the gutsy Senators, like Chuck Hagel, who are riding the surf of public opinion opposed to the troop surge and taking on a president with approval ratings at the freezing level vote against General Petraeus' confirmation? Their convictions hold that he has endorsed a wholly unjustified escalation and will be leading troops on a futile mission. They want a role in the conduct of the war and with the need to win Senate confirmation of Gen. Petraeus the Constitution has given them one, but they have taken a pass.
Indeed. Read the whole thing. (It's short.)

"Hurray, We are Capitulating!"--Europe, and Now the U.S. Senate, Surrender to Radical Islam

Henrik Modest Broder is a German-Jewish journalist. In 2006, he published a book about the European reaction to Islamofacism, entitled "Hurra, Wir Kapitulieren," ("Hurray! We're Capitulating"). It spent a number of weeks at the top of the Der Spiegel best seller list. Yesterday, Der Spiegel's English online website published an essay excerpted from Broder's book. While Broder's book focused on Europe, it appears that he soon will be able to write a sequel on the U.S. Senate.

America's Lady MacBeth

MacBeth is my favorite of the four great Shakespearean tragedies; I've loved it since high school. So Gerard Baker's piece, The Vaulting Ambition of of America's Lady Macbeth, caught my eye:
There are many reasons people think Mrs Clinton will not be elected president. She lacks warmth; she is too polarising a figure; the American people don’t want to relive the psychodrama of the eight years of the Clinton presidency.

But they all miss this essential counterpoint. As you consider her career this past 15 years or so in the public spotlight, it is impossible not to be struck, and even impressed, by the sheer ruthless, unapologetic, unshameable way in which she has pursued this ambition, and confirmed that there is literally nothing she will not do, say, think or feel to achieve it. Here, finally, is someone who has taken the black arts of the politician’s trade, the dissembling, the trimming, the pandering, all the way to their logical conclusion.
Read the whole thing; it's pretty bracing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stop the Warner Resolution--Join Hugh Hewitt--Take the NRSC Pledge!

THE PLEDGE: If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

Sign the NRSC Pledge here!

Just A Reminder of How Things Were In The 90's

“I wrote this book [What a Party] to remind people what the Clinton administration meant to us and the world. [The Clinton years showed how to] restore moral authority.” —Terry McAuliffe

Remember when no statement was too outrageous, down was up, and up was down, and we were all reminded that "is" can mean more than one thing? Those were the Clinton years, when Bill and Hillary showed us all how to "restore moral authority."


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Israel's Dangerous Crisis of Confidence

Con Coughlin writes in the Daily Telegraph that Israel's ongoing political crisis has gladdened the hearts of its enemies, who are emboldened by the perceived weakness of the Jewish State. Indeed, Israel has never felt so beleagured since the period immediately prior to the June 1967 Six Day War. Coughlin notes, however, that Israel's foes would be well-advised to remember the results of that confrontation, and recognize that Israel is never more dangerous than when it has its back against the wall.

An Orthodox Jew Would Vote for A Mormon, Or Some Other Christian

At least that's what Ralph Kostant, our Kosher Hedgehog, says over at Article VI Blog.

Monday, January 22, 2007

What They're Saying About Hillary Clinton

From Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post:

"She will have to show people that she is not the person her critics describe: radically liberal, ruthlessly ambitious, or ethically compromised," the New York Times said yesterday.

"She will also have to overcome her reputation for political calculation, an inconsistent stump presence and her intimate ties to the polarizing events of her husband's White House tenure," the Los Angeles Times said.

"Clinton is known for her upright bearing and her bare knuckles," the Chicago Tribune said. At this stage, at least, many journalists seem determined to take the Democratic front-runner down a peg or two.

Supplemental From the Kosher Hedgehog [1/22/07 @3:30 pm]:
Here is Dry Bones' take--

Your USAID Dollars at Work: Palestinians Name Street Built With American Money After Saddam Hussein

As reported by Palestinian Media Watch (which monitors Palestinian publications and media broadcasts and translates them from Arabic into English):

Palestinian street named for Saddam Hussein was paved with USAID money
by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

After Saddam Hussein's execution, the Palestinian Municipality of Yaabid decided to name both a school and its main street after the Iraqi dictator. It appears that the same street was paved 18 months ago using grants from USAID. This is not the first time that US money has gone to build Palestinian infrastructures that are named to glorify terrorists and enemies of the US. Three examples:

1. After the US gave the Jenin municipality money for road works in the city, a block in the center of Jenin was named for the first Iraqi suicide terrorist who killed four American soldiers in Fallujah. The mayor of Jenin participated in the anti-American rally and the speakers blessed the “resistance of the residents of Fallujah” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 4, 2004].

2. USAID funded the building of the Salaf Khalef Sports Center. Salef Khalef (Abu Iyad) the head of the Black September terror organization, was behind the killing of two US diplomats in Sudan and the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May, 30, 2004]

3. USAID funded renovations of the Dalal Mughrabi School named in honor of Dalal Mughrabi and her terror group, who killed American photographer Gail Rubin and 36 Israelis. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 14, 2004]

The following is the article on the naming of Saddam Hussein Street:
“In the Yaabid Municipality… thousands of citizens held a requiem for the soul of Saddam in the mosque. Following that, a march began in the streets of the municipality, that ended at the offices of the Yaabid Municipality, where a mourners’ tent was opened in his memory. Public figures and the [Armed] Factions in Yaabid decided to name one of the schools in the municipality and its most important street after Saddam to immortalize his memory and to emphasize the values of Arabness and Jihad, which he represented…”[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, January 4, 2007]
The following is from the PMW archives on the USAID funding:
“The Yaabid Municipality in the Jenin area held a ceremony yesterday for the inauguration of a project of the paving of the main street of the municipality, funded by the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID)… The project of paving and renovating the main entrance to the municipality and some of the inner streets is three kilometers long and cost $402,000.” [Al-Ayyam, July 14, 2005]

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An Excellent Day by Day Strip

Right here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

While Fidel Fades Away, A New Latin American Despot--Chavez of Venezuela--Consolidates Power

Reports on the condition of Fidel Castro are contradictory. Some state that his condition is worsening. Others suggest that he may even have a possibility of full recovery. Whatever the truth about his medical condition, Manuel Vasquez Portal wrote last week in the Miami Herald:
"Castro has died because his time expired. It makes no difference if he languishes as a convalescent or recovers physically to vegetate eternally in a meaningless limbo. He is a phantom who roams through an era of ghosts. A goblin who wanders through a nonexistent land. Castro does not exist, and neither does the country he destroyed while hallucinating that he was the supreme benefactor. All that's left is oblivion, an abyss of shadows, a web of atherosclerosis."

Yet, even as the half-century era of Castro's tyranny ends, another Latin Amerian despot tightens his political grip. In Venezuela, the political parties opposed to Pesident Hugo Chavez made a huge miscalculation by boycotting the 2005 elections to the National Assembly. As a result, the entire National Assembly, every seat, is held by a Chavez ally. Chavez apparently has decided that even that legislative advantage is insufficient; today Venezuelan lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that would authorize Chavez to rule by presidential decree for 18 months. In addition, Chavez is seeking an amendment to the Venezuelan Constitution that would remove presidential term limits, thereby allowing him to serve as President for life.

Like any perceptive tyrant, Chavez knows that control over the media is critical to maintaining unchallenged power and authority. Therefore, this past Saturday Chavez announced that the government will not renew the broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television, the oldest private television station in Venezuela, and a staunch opponent of Chavez, when the license expires on May 28, 2007. As reported by CBS News, Chavez gloated:
"Their days are numbered. Squeal, kick, whatever they do: the license of that fascist channel is gone. RCTV's signal will be nationalized for Venezuelans."
It would be difficult to overemphasize the danger that the Chavez regime poses to the United States. Since the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, the impoverished Castro regime in Cuba has posted little security threat to the United States. In contrast, Venezuela is a leading petroleum exporter, the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States. This is a foe with economic power that Castro only dreamed of. As the photo that accompanies this post shows, Chavez has allied himself with another oil-rich tyranny, the radical Islamic regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. With Iranian assistance and encouragement, the potential for Venezuela becoming a training base, staging center and safe haven for anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism in the Western Hemisphere is real and frightening.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Israeli Chief of Staff Halutz Resigns. Are Olmert and Peretz Next?

Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. General Dan Halutz resigned today, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. His resignation is a belated response to the sorry performance of the IDF command in the Lebanon war of this past summer. Speculation among senior IDF officers is that Halutz made his decision, an abrupt turnabout from his previously expressed intention to remain in the IDF, after receiving inside information that he would be treated harshly in the report on the Lebanon war by the government-appointed Winograd Commission, which is expected to release its findings in February.

My reaction to this news accords with that of Knesset Member Arye Eldad (National Union-National Religious Party), who remarked, according to the Jerusalem Post, that it was a "shame that [Halutz] wasted four precious months needed to rehabilitate the IDF." The Hedgehog Blog called for his resignation on August 15,2006, shortly after the ceasefire in Lebanon took effect, when it was disclosed that General Halutz had sold his stock holdings on the Tel Aviv stock exchange immediately prior to the initiation of IDF military action, thereby avoiding loss from the decline in stock prices during the war.

Four days prior to that post, on August 11, 2006, the Hedgehog Blog also called for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Now, following the Halutz resignation, and with Olmert's job approval in recent polls down to 14%, would be a good time for Mr. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz to finally pay the political price for their failures. Mr. Eldad concurred with that sentiment today, saying, "Now, Amir Peretz and Ehud Olmert have to go, because the entire country, and not just the IDF, needs to be purified." Other government critics on the center-right agreed, saying that Olmert and Peretz would be unable to bring about the rapid reform of the IDF that is necessary if Israel is to be prepared for renewed fighting with Hezbollah, which many analysts expect will break out as soon as this summer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

U.S. Dispatches Second Carrier Group to Persian Gulf

Israel National News, of all places, reports that the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (photo above) sails today from its homeport of Bremerton, Washington, bound for the Persian Gulf, where it will join the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is the first time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the U.S. will have two carrier groups in the region. Israel National News speculates that the U.S. is demonstrating to the Iranians that it will use force if necessary in order to stop the Iranian nuclear program.

The Hedgehog Blog wishes the Stennis, its support vessels and their crew smooth sailing, good hunting and a happy and safe voyage home.

Religious Bigotry: Does It Come from The Right or The Left?

Hugh Hewitt sees it coming from the Left. My co-blogger at Article VI Blog sees it coming from the Right.

I think they're both right. What do you think?

Calling the Kosher Hedgehog . . . .

Kosher Hedgehog to the Rescue!

The Hedgehog speaks truth! Religious bigotry can come from the Left or the Right. Indeed, in the case of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism and anti-Mormonism, historically it has also been a feature of the political, cultural, societal and religious center, what one might call the Protestant Mainstream, in relatively benign forms that typically involved discrimination but not overt violence.

However, there is a different impetus to the recent spate of articles warning of the dire consequences of a Mormon President of the United States, and the perpetrators are Democrats with an ulterior motive. I had previously expressed privately to the Hedghog my belief that these articles, including the Jacob Weisberg Slate column and the cover story by Damon Linker in the Jan. 1-15 edition of The New Republic were simply political hit jobs directed at Mitt Romney. To his credit and my pleased surprise, Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times agrees, in his column on January 13, 2007, entitled "Romney's Religious Rights." Rutten rejects all arguments that try to distinguish the attacks on Romney's Mormon faith from the universally acknowledged bigotry of the attacks on John F. Kennedy's Catholicism in 1960. Moreover, Rutten correctly identifies the real culprits behind this campaign:

"What both journals are doing is playing with social fire for the sake of narrow partisan advantage, hoping to knock a potentially attractive conservative candidate out of the running in much the same way that some Republican commentators desperately attempted to prod some Catholic bishop somewhere into denying Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry communion because he's pro-choice."

I will leave it to the reader to judge whether Rutten correctly describes what occurred during Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. My own recollection is that it was the Catholic Bishops who on their own called for denial of communion to Mr. Kerry, without the need of prodding from Republican commentators, who merely gleefully watched and reported. In any event, Republicans certainly did not attack Kerry for being Catholic; at most they attacked him for being a bad Catholic.

In the case of Romney, Rutten has it exactly right. Slate and the New Republic were attempting preemptive strikes on a conservative GOP candidate whom they consider a grave threat to deny the White House to the Democrats in 2008. As Rutten notes, neither Weisberg, nor Linker discussed whether the Mormon faith of Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada)should disqualify him from being Senate Majority Leader.

The LDS Church is not a new phenomenon--it has played a significant role in American society, culture and politics for 176 years. During that time the Republic has somehow escaped political domination by the President of the LDS Church. Nor has Mormon faith been historically identified with conservative Republican politics (although you would never know it by reading Linker's article). In Arizona, where I grew up, all of my Mormon friends were Democrats and the Udall family exemplified liberal Democratic Party sentiments. Stewart Udall was Secretary of the Interior under JFK, and longtime Congressman Mo Udall unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party's Presidential nomination in 1976. There are two Udalls in Congress today, and they are both liberal Democrats.

The failure to provide that perspective and factual counterpoint in the Damon Linker article in The New Republic in my opinion proves that the article was not an examination of a legitimate issue of public affairs, but rather the cynical use of religious bigotry for partisan political purposes. That, in my view, is even more contemptible than bigotry alone. As a long-time champion against religious bigotry, The New Republic should be ashamed that it published Damon Linker's article.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Krauthammer, Stems Cells, and Movies About Mormons

How's that for a wide-ranging topic list?

Stem Cells: What To Do?

Charles Krauthammer's unique perspective on stem cell research has always intrigued me. He is a quadriplegic, a physician (Harvard medical School graduate), and pro-choice on abortion. One might think Krauthammer is a natural supporter of any and all stem cell research, not just the "safe" position President Bush adopted: Federal funding for adult stem cell research is OK, but funding for research on embryonic cells must be limited to the cell lines already in use.

I'll confess to being a little ambivalent about the subject of embryonic research. Professionally I come into contact with in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics, and I'm aware that there are thousands of embryos (if not more) simply sitting in storage that will never be used. They will eventually be destroyed. The idea of not "wasting" them and using them for research has a certain logic to it. And my own church has not taken a position on the issue.

Even so, Krauthammer makes a case I find convincing:
You don’t need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research. You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of the good. Once we have taken the position of many stem-cell advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail or an appendix, then all barriers are down. What is to prevent us from producing not just tissues and organs, but human-like organisms for preservation as a source of future body parts on demand?
That's always been the reasoning that tips me against embryonic stem cell research. I've also been repulsed by the over-the-top arguments so many were making in favor of embryonic research. In the 2004 presidential campaign John Kerry and John Edwards were promising that Kerry's election, and the increased research funding he would approve, would result in the blind seeing and the lame walking. All that hype about a research initiative that seems to be no more than a promising theory.

Now it turns out that, of all things, amniotic fluid is a rich source of what Krauthammer calls "stem cells with enormous potential:"
This is a revolutionary finding. Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the womb during pregnancy. It is routinely drawn out by needle in amniocentesis. The procedure carries little risk and is done for legitimate medical purposes that have nothing to do with stem cells. If it nonetheless yields a harvest of stem cells, we have just stumbled upon an endless supply.

And not just endless, but uncontroversial. No embryos are destroyed. The cells are just floating there, as if waiting for science to discover them.

Even better, amniotic fluid might prove to yield an ideal stem cell — not as primitive as embryonic stem cells and therefore less likely to grow uncontrollably into tumors, but also not as developed as adult stem cells and therefore more “pluripotential” in the kinds of tissues it can produce.
I haven't seen much MSM coverage of this discovery, perhaps because it doesn't square with the predominant worldview there.

Mormons and Documentaries

A four-hour PBS documentary is coming out this spring, called "The Mormons." It's a "presentation of both 'American Experience' and 'Frontline' — their first co-production." This prompts several thoughts.

First, why now? I wonder if the looming presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney has anything to do with increased interest in his church? (Disclosure: I am also a Mormon, so this is all of more than passing interest to me.)

Second, I hope they are as fair as this reporter thinks Helen Whitney, the documentary's producer, will be:
"The Mormons" will no doubt displease anyone who doesn't want to hear a negative word about the LDS Church. At the same time, it's going to anger those who don't want to hear anything good about it.
Ms. Whitney's history is that of a a credible, serious documentary maker. Good. I don't mind seeing my church's "warts" on TV, as long as that's not all we see.

(Note: There's a little more on this at Article VI Blog today.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

14 Carter Center Advisory Board Members Resign to Protest Book

Fourteen members of the Carter Center Board of Councilors have resigned in protest of former President Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. According to the story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in a letter to Carter (shown at left with a good friend, now deceased), the members of the Board of Councilors wrote that the former president had "clearly abandoned your historic role of broker, in favor of becoming an advocate for one side." (HT: Little Green Footballs.) From the list of names of the resigning board members, it would appear that most if not all are Jewish. That is unfortunate, since Carter will no doubt portray their resignations as just one more effort by the American Jewish pro-Israel lobby to stifle open discussion on Middle East policy.

Just One More Comment on Romney and New Media

In today's mail I had a very traditional package from John McCain-- you've seen them: A too-long letter auto-signed by McCain and enclosing a bunch of additional pages. No one will ever read past the first few lines of the letter and the extra pages will go into the trash unread.

My wife asked me: "Now, how many mailings like this have we gotten from Romney? And do you think we will get any?"

It will be interesting to see. I have a hunch Romney's will be the most techno-savvy campaign ever. Yesterday, on the Glenn and Helen Show, Romney held forth quite volubly on the role he thinks the blogosphere (the term he used) will play in the primaries and in the general election.

Listen to the Glenn and Helen podcast if you can; the link is here. It's an easy way to get a glimpse of Romney the man and his mind.

If you haven't guessed, I have become a died-in-the-wool Romney supporter. You'll see a lot about him on this blog. Visit the official Romney website here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mitt Romney, The New Media Candidate?

Take a look at this YouTube video, entitled, "The Real Romney?"

Then tune into this podcast interview on InstaPundit, with Glenn and Helen Reynolds.

Now watch Romney's own (short) YouTube video of himself on the phone to Glenn and Helen. (HT: Power Line.)

Now ask yourself: Is this not a very effective use of technology?

As Hugh Hewitt, a keen observer of politics and the blogosphere, comments:

Romney's push-back at the YouTubing of his '94 debate with Ted Kennedy --happening in rapid response fashion-- means an entire news cycle on a somewhat significant story has played out before even one newspaper reported it, with the anti-Romney forces (clearly worried about the big $ Monday and the DeMint Tuesday) trying to put a stick in the spokes, and Romney's team finding a way to knock it down in the same cycle.

For more on this, visit Article VI Blog, where I've been writing a lot lately with John Schroeder.

Instant Analysis of the President's Speech and the Democrat Response

The President hit all the right notes. He was very sober and serious, and spoke plainly. He emphasized that in the end the success or failure of the effort to transform Iraq will be up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people. The US will help, but it cannot do the job alone and its patience is not endless. Mentioning the bipartisan committee, and its proposal by Senator Lieberman, was also a good move. The President was also right to mention the need to expand troop levels in our armed forces. Finally, the clear warnings to Syria and Iran to cease and desist their efforts to sow chaos in Iraq were a delightful contrast to the call from the Iraq Study Group to open negotiations with those odious regimes.

The President was clearly speaking to the Iraqis and the Arab world almost as much as to the American people. Witness that he never mentioned the name of one nation in the region—Israel—even when he mentioned the desire for peace on the part of people in the Palestinian Territories. When he mentioned the continuing determination of the U.S. to stop the Iranian nuclear program, he spoke of “working with others,” which is vague enough to mean only the diplomatic efforts by the EU, Russia and Turkey, or to allude to military cooperation with Israel. The decision to not mention Israel has two purposes: (1) to avoid giving Iran and Arab radicals an easy target and diversion, by accusing the U.S. of allying with Israel to dominate Iraq; and (2) to implicitly reject the Iraq Study Group attempt to tie the success or failure of the Iraqi struggle to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. However, Arabs, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia and their spokespeople in our country, such as James Baker and Jimmy Carter, will make the linkage even if the President avoids the “I” word.

As I write, I am listening to the Democrats’ response. Senator Durbin sounds like he is asking the Iraqi government to do everything that the President has required of them, but without any additional US help. Perhaps I am deluding myself, in view of the recent election and polls, but I don’t think that the Democrats have helped themselves much with that stance. Assuming that the Iraqi government is capable of accomplishing the benchmarks mentioned by both the President and Senator Durbin, but requires the help of the additional US troops, is Senator Durbin saying that we should deny that assistance and let the Iraqi government fail? I also don’t believe that at the end of the day the Democrat-controlled Congress will dare cut off funds, at least not this year. They would be more than happy to portray the war as the sole responsibility of the Bush Administration, going into the Presidential election.

Four questions predominate: (1) Why didn't we do this back in 2003-2004, when it would have been so much easier, both in dealing with the Iraqis and in terms of American public opinion? (2) Has the President swayed the public enough to allow him this last chance to set things right? (3) Is 21,500 enough additional troops to make a difference? (4) Ultimately, are the Iraqi people willing to fight for a stable democratic nation, in which power and wealth are shared by Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds? Or will they continue let their ethnic, religious and clan identities govern their fate, in which case the descent into chaos and civil war will continue?

Lowell adds: If we knew the answer to Ralph's questions we might be be relaxing on our deck overlooking the ocean in Bora Bora right now.

I called the Hugh Hewitt show this evening and compared the current situation to 1864, when the Copperhead Democrats, or "Peace Democrats," compared Lincoln to a baboon and thought he might even be insane for insisting on his failed policy of saving the Union. They wanted peace -- a settlement-- now.

See Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals for fascinating insight into Lincoln's political genius in dealing with that problem. But it wasn't just genius that saved Lincoln-- it was Lincoln's generals, Grant and Sherman-- especially Sherman-- and the sacrifice of thousands of human lives. The price was horrible and included the city of Atlanta as it was then known.

The parallels are obvious, no? Bush is no Lincoln and the War in Iraq is not the Civil War. But I think there are two lessons he can learn from 1864:

1. Bush's position is founded on principle, and he needs to adhere to that principle to the bitter end, just as Lincoln did. Bush also needs to do that in a way that does not come across as mere stubbornness-- something he's not good at because he's such a poor communicator. Hugh said he hopes the needed eloquence will come from General David Petraus. I also hope so.

2. Bush drives me crazy when he continually defers to the generals on the ground. I understand why he does that, but he's the Commander in Chief, for heaven's sake! If Lincoln
had simply sat back and did what the likes of Meade and McClellan advised, Richmond would still be the capital of much more than Virginia. Figure out what is going on, Mr. President; educate yourself and run the war!

The full text of the President's speech is here.

Update: Extending our comparison to the Civil War, Conservative Christian posts an "editorial" that might have been written by a member of today's MSM in 1862.

Iraqi PM al-Maliki Orders Shiite Militias to Disarm

In a move that has everything to do with President Bush's talk this evening, Iraqi Prime Minister has told Shiite militiamen to surrender their arms or face an all-out assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, senior Iraqi officials said Wednesday, according to an AP report. The AP story continues:
Under pressure from the U.S., Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to crack down on fighters controlled by his most powerful political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric, according to officials. Previously, al-Maliki had resisted the move.?

This is the second time this week that an Arab leader has found the backbone to demand the disarming of private militias. [See "Abbas Bans Hamas Militia; 6 Palestinian Gangs Threaten to Ban Abbas," The Hedgehog Blog, Jan. 9, 2007.] This last incident is most impressive and courageous, because al-Maliki is himself a Shia and al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a foundation of his power base. Could this be a trend?

Dean Nails The Left

No, not Howard Dean, Dean Barnett:
Let’s give the American left its proper due. They were right about Iraq inasmuch as it has turned out to be much worse on every level than we hoped or expected. But then again, the critics on the left were the people who pronounced Afghanistan a quagmire after two weeks. These were the same people who said the first Gulf War would be another Vietnam and claim 50,000 American casualties. Even stuck clocks are right twice a day. In the same manner, those who had been forecasting and pining for America’s comeuppance had to be right someday.

Rudy Giuliani, The Associated Press, And The MSM Worldview

Hugh Hewitt blogs this morning on an AP report about Giuliani that exemplifies a major MSM failing: In their search for stories, they write about what they think is important, and confuse that for issues others will consider important:
"[Giuliani's] recent corporate work could become future political hurdles in a presidential race: energy companies are unpopular in a country still adjusting to the higher cost of gasoline and other fuels, and Giuliani has staked out the controversial position that the United States should build more nuclear power plants to meet its energy demands. The firm's client roster could also open him to attacks that he was aligned with corporate polluters even if he didn't represent all the companies directly."
Attacks from whom? Certainly not GOP primary voters. The thought process seems to be like this: "Ooh! Ooh! Look at what [candidate] has said or done in the past! I do not like that. Therefore, others will not like it, and this could be a big problem for him/her going forward!"

We see this a lot with coverage of Mitt Romney. Many in the news media look at Romney's religion and decide that this Mormon beliefs are going to be a big problem for a substantial number of voters-- whether conservative Christian Evangelicals who simply disagree with those beliefs, or secularists who don't think any rational person can believe such things. The MSM writers think the Evangelicals are weird and scary, and reports their views as such; and the writers mostly share the worldview of the secularists, and reports those views as eminently reasonable and widely-held. The result is a story based on how the writer sees the issue, reported as news. (For more on Romney and the religion issue generally, see Article 6 Blog.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Jimmy Carter's "Apartheid" Charge is a Refrain of the Same Old Song

Former (thank G-d) President Jimmy Carter entitled his new book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. In response to criticism from many quarters, by no means limited to Jews, on December 15, Carter posted a "Letter to Jewish Citizens of America" on the Carter Center website, which was also released by the Carter Center as a press release. Carter defends his accusation that Israeli policy toward Palestinians constitutes apartheid, including the following paragraph:
We [Carter in a meeting in Phoenix with local rabbis] discussed the word "apartheid," which I defined as the forced segregation of two peoples living in the same land, with one of them dominating and persecuting the other. I made clear in the book's text and in my response to the rabbis that the system of apartheid in Palestine is not based on racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis for Palestinian land and the resulting suppression of protests that involve violence. Bishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and prominent Israelis, including former attorney general Ben Yair, who served under both Labor and Likud prime ministers, have used and explained the appellation in harsher terms than I, pointing out that this cruel oppression is contrary to the tenets of the Jewish faith and the basic principles of the nation of Israel.

Carter's defense was not convincing to Professor Melvin J. Konner (Ph.D, Harvard, 1973), Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Emory University, who on December 22 wrote an editorial published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, castigating Carter's book. In an interview published along side the editorial, Professor Konner explained, who had once described Jimmy Carter as "the greatest former President," now said, "I don't recognize Carter any more. . . . He has not just turned his back on the balance and fairness that all peacemaking depends on. He has become a spokesman for the enemies of my people. He has become an apologist for terrorists. . . ."

Subsequently, Carter and Konner have exchanged letters, as reported in full by Jewish Current Issues. Here is an excerpt from Konner's lengthy and detailed response to Carter, which focuses on Carter's defense in his letter to Konner of his use of the term "apartheid," a defense that Carter had phrased similarly to the above quote from the "Letter to Jewish Citizens of America":
First, with all due respect, your attempt to justify your use of the word “apartheid” is completely unconvincing. I have lived my life by words, and I know that words have connotations as well as denotations. Words have histories. Your use of this word to describe the wall erected by Israel to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks is inappropriate and inflammatory.

As much as one appreciates Professor Konner's spirited attack on Carter's disgraceful book (and I appreciate nearly any spirited verbal attack on Jimmy Carter), the fact is that Konner's previous admiration of Carter was sorely misplaced. As the October 3, 1979 Dry Bones cartoon points out, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid merely continues Carter's apologetics for terrorism.

Israeli PM Olmert Calls Gaza Withdrawal "A Failed Policy"

The gentleman at left, looking uncomfortably confused, is Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Israel National News reports today:

"In an interview with Chinese news agency Xinhua, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that unilateral withdrawal has proven to be a failed policy."

Mr. Olmert is the head of the Kadima Party, which was formed by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to promote his policy of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. After Sharon was felled by a massive stroke, Mr. Olmert, then acting Prime Minister, led the Kadima slate and won election in his own right, campaigning on the "success" of the Gaza withdrawal and the promise of more unilateral territorial concessions in Yehuda and Shomron.

Now Olmert admits, if only in foreign press interviews, that the policy which was the sole basis for Sharon's split from the Likud Party, and the policy Kadima promoted on its way to becoming the largest party in the current Knesset, is a failure.
Olmert explained his new position to the Chinese interviewer by reference to the Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, both of which, he said, encouraged terrorism and increased the likelihood of war.

"A year ago, I believed that we would be able to do this unilaterally," he told reporters ahead of a three-day trip to China, which began Tuesday morning. "However, it should be said that our experience in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip is not encouraging. We pulled out of Lebanon unilaterally, and see what happened. We pulled out of the Gaza Strip completely, to the international border, and every day they are firing Kassam rockets at Israelis. Under the existing circumstances, it would be more practical to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations rather than [unilateral] withdrawal."

This "failed policy" destroyed model communities in Gaza and reduced to rubble the homes, farms and businesses of over 9000 people. Many of those displaced have received little or none of the compensation promised by the Israeli government. Many hundreds if not thousands are still homeless and jobless. Now, after the continuing rain of Kassam rockets on Israel's southern communities, after a misplanned and failed war in Southern Lebanon, Prime Minister Olmert concedes that the foundational policy of his political party is a failure.

It seems to me that only one question remains: Why is the Olmert-Kadima led government still in power? Why has the Likud failed to assemble enough votes from opposition parties and disaffected Labor Party Knesset members to pass a no-confidence motion and end this political travesty? (Alright, that's two questions.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Abbas Bans Hamas Militia; 6 Palestinian Gangs Threaten to Ban Abbas

This past weekend, Mahmoud Abbas banned the Hamas militia, ordering that the Hamas Executive Force be disarmed and disbanded, and that its members must be absorbed into the Palestinian Authority's existing legal security forces. A Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman from the Hamas party reacted by announcing that the size of the Executive Force would be doubled to 12,000 members.

Today, six Palestinian militias, including a break-away group from his own Fatah organization, issued a joint statement warning that they will kill “collaborators and traitors” if Abbas attempts to carry out his threat to disband the force. As reported by Israel National News:

“We hold Abbas responsible for every drop of blood that will be shed by our kinsmen because of his decision,” said a statement by the terrorist coalition. “We hold him personally responsible, along with the master of conspiracy and division, the godfather of the American plot, named Mohammed Dahlan,” the statement continued, adding that “with much regret,” the group might find itself “forced occasionally [to] strike the hubs of treason and conspiracy.”Fatah officials said bluntly that the statement constituted a threat to assassinate Abbas and Dahlan.

No civil society can exist where the government does not have a monopoly on organized armed force. Private militias are both a cause and a symptom of failed states.

In the history of Israel, recognition of this led to the infamous Altalena Affair, in June 1948, when Prime Minister David Ben Gurion ordered the Israel Defense Forces to open fire on, and eventually sink, a ship being used by the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, to ship arms into the new Jewish State. Whether such drastic measures were necessary has been hotly debated by Israeli historians and political factions--the Irgun had already agreed to be incorporated into the Israeli Defense Forces and Begin had promised that the arms would be turned over to the Israeli government. However, even Begin would not have questioned the fundamental principle underlying Ben Gurion's controversial decision--that private militias undermine civil security and the state must have a monopoly on armed force.

That sort of statecraft is sorely lacking in the Palestinian Authority, which is a kleptocracy, and where private militias are viewed as the mandatory means of assuring that any given group has a piece of the action in the criminal rackets of smuggling and misappropriation of international aid. In Palestinian society, loyalties are owed first to tribe, clan and family, not to the Palestinian Authority. Whatever his motives, Mahmoud Abbas took a brave step that is necessary if a viable Palestinian state is ever to emerge. Whether Abbas succeeds, fails, or simply backs down will tell the world a great deal about the future of the Palestinian Authority and the prospects for peace with Israel.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Joe Galloway: The Bush Troop Surge is Too Little, Too Late

Joseph L. Galloway knows war. He was brutally introduced to it at the Battle of Ia Drang, in November 1965, when he accompanied (then) Lt. Colonel Harold "Hal" Moore and his 1st Battaliion, U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division into Landing Zone X-Ray. He is the only civilian to be awarded the Bronze Star in the Vietnam War, for his valor in rescuing U.S. soldiers under heavy enemy fire during that battle. As a UPI war correspondent, he served three tours in Vietnam. He is the co-author with Hal Moore of We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young, their first-hand account of the Battle of Ia Drang. Galloway currently is a military correspondent for the McClatchy Newspapers. When he writes about war, one doesn't have to agree with him, but one had better listen with respect.

In an opinion piece today in the Salt Lake City Tribune, entitled "Another Flight From Reality by Bush," Galloway questions whether a small temporary bump in the U.S. troop commitment in Iraq of only 10,000 to 30,000 troops would have any salutary effect. He points out:

The idea of so small a bump doesn't even meet the suggestions of the only two outside advisers who promoted the idea of a surge of as many as 50,000 additional U.S. troops for at least 18 months - neo-conservative think tanker Fred Kagan and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane. It doesn't come close to the 100,000 more troops that Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona - who hopes to be his party's nominee for president in 2008- has advocated, nor does it satisfy the majority of Americans who no longer have any trust in Bush's conduct of the Iraq war, or those like-minded voters who turned Congress over to the Democrats in the November mid-term elections.

Galloway does not hide the fact that he considers the entire Iraq invasion to have been folly. He calls it "a war without end and without purpose" and "an unnecessary and costly war." However, even many of us who suppported the invasion of Iraq acknowledge that the occupation and anti-insurgency campaign have been dreadfully mismanaged. If the U.S. now is to "double-down" in a last-chance attempt at achieving a satisfactory political outcome, this is no time for half measures. The commitment must be at least the troop strength and minimally the 18-month time period advocated by Kagan and Keane.

I do not know whether the American military can sustain that level of commitment, much less the 100,000 additional troops advocated by John McCain. It would be unworthy of the sacrifice already borne by American military forces for George W. Bush, as Galloway accuses, "to buy another couple of years of violent stalemate so he can hand off the disaster to whoever succeeds him in the White House on Jan. 20, 2009."

Galloway's words are harsh and unsparing. But let's be honest with ourselves--Joe Galloway is not Cindy Sheehan and his critique cannot be offhandedly dismissed. Those who would back either maintaining the status quo, regarding U.S. military commitment, or to increase that commitment, must be able to intelligently discuss and refute Galloway's position. If any of our readers are able to do so, please post your comments here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Dateline Gaza: The Terrorist Civil War Continues

The caption for the photo at the left reads:

"A Palestinian militant from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades struggles with a colleague as they try to prevent him from fighting with Hamas supporters during the funeral of security force officer Osama Nassar in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza Strip, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2007. Nassar, a member of the security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was killed during clashes with Hamas militants in Khan Younis Thursday, Palestinian sources said. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)."

Thus the civil war between the Palestinian terrorist groups, Fatah and Hamas, continues and escalates. Today, a Muslim cleric who had publicly criticized Hamas was murdered by Hamas gunmen when he left his mosque after Friday worship. (So much for respect for Islam.) "The slaying came as thousands of mourners marched through Gaza City carrying the bodies of seven Fatah men killed in a standoff with Hamas."

Keep in mind that these people are all Sunni Muslims. Their main political difference is disagreement over the best strategy for the destruction of Israel. As pointed out by The Hedgehog Blog previously, the true causus belli is rivalry between two criminal gangs--Fatah and Hamas--for control of the rackets in the Palestinian thugocracy.

Of course, if Hamas is willing to murder a Muslim cleric who criticizes them, you can imagine how much freedom of speech the rest of us would have in the world-wide Islamic Caliphate envisioned by Hamas and Al Qaeda.

One realizes that the real policy failure of Israel and the Clinton Administration in entering into the Oslo Accords (which created the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron), and of the Bush Administration in launching the war in Iraq, was to underestimate the toxic pathology of much of modern Arab culture. It is so rife with clan rivalries, misogyny, general hatred, and primitive resort to violence that perhaps only repressive force, such as is employed now in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and was formerly employed in Iraq by Saddam Hussein, can preserve a functioning society. That is hardly an optimistic or a politically correct viewpoint, but its accuracy and implications need to be considered.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why I Like John McCain, And Why That's Not Enough

I like John McCain. I'd love to buy him lunch and talk about the country and the world, and about his life. He seems like a good and decent man. If he were the Republican nominee for president, I'd vote for him without hesitation, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

But as the old adage goes, it's better to be trusted than loved. I don't want to have to vote for McCain. I don't trust him. As Hugh Hewitt often says, McCain is a great American, a lousy senator, and a terrible Republican.

McCain loves to posture as a maverick. To me he's just a loose cannon. Example after example supports this. Here are but two:

1. McCain's opposition to President Bush's plan for treatment of captured enemy combatants in the war on terror. After months of Democrat yammering about the issue, the Supreme Court said Bush needed Congressional approval of the rules for interrogating imprisoned jihad warriors. Bush happily proposed a plan to Congress. The Democrats' feet were to the fire; now they had to say what they thought should be done with the combatants, instead of simply likening American soldiers to Nazis and the prisons to Soviet gulags.

Enter John McCain, who opposed Bush's plan from within the president's own party, and with his moral authority as a former POW, gave the Democrats absolute political cover in also opposing Bush's plan. Could McCain not have quietly discussed his concerns with the White House and then gotten behind a modified plan? Or does he simply enjoy grandstanding?

2. The Gang of 14 deal. My co-blogger Ralph thinks the deal was just fine, and enabled Alito and Roberts to be nominated and confirmed. I'm not so sure. If nothing else, the unprecedented filibuster of judicial nominees is still on the table as an option, and that is not a good thing. Among other things, a fine example of McCain sticking a finger in the eye of conservatives everywhere.

So I like John McCain but do not trust him. I think he is mercurial, willful, and loves to grandstand. Perhaps more damning, he seems to have a mean streak. This is a time when we need presidents who can be great, and when I go down my list of greats -- Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan-- I don't see McCain's defects in any of them.

Hugh Hewitt today quotes from the Vanity Fair piece in McCain that is just now coming out. If you think John McCain should be the GOP standard-bearer in 2008, read that article, and Hugh's comments, first.

Update: More at Power Line and Hugh Hewitt (regarding his Mark Steyn interview today).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

In Honor of This Day

I wore this button proudly during the 1976 campaign.

Meet Dr. Sanity

The blogosphere contains so many hidden treasures that it could absorb one's every waking hour. Nonetheless, here is one that was new to me: Pat Santy, M.D., aka "Dr. Sanity," whose medical degrees are in psychiatry and aerospace medicine. She is also wise, thoughtful, perceptive and one heck of a writer, as amply demonstrated by her profound and moving essay, "Do the Right Thing," which she posted on her blog on December 17, 2006. While I have just found her blog, many others have preceded me; Dr. Sanity was a 2006 Weblog Awards finalist.

Taliban Warrior Rule No. 19--No Beardless Boys in the Tent!

The West Fargo Pioneer (way ahead of the New York Times on this story) reports that the Taliban has issued a new set of rules to its fighters. Rule No. 19 instructs them not to take boys without facial hair into their private quarters. Jamie Glazov, writing at, notes that, beside the obvious question of what happens to young boys with facial hair:
"[I]t is crucial to deconstruct the meaning of this rule -- and the horrid reality that it represents -- because it serves as a gateway to understanding the primary causes of Islamic rage and terror.
"Rule No. 19 obviously indicates that the sexual abuse of young boys is a prevalent and institutionalized phenomenon among the Taliban and that, for one reason or another, its widespread practice has become a problem.
"The fact that Taliban militants’ spare time involves sodomizing young boys should by no means be any kind of surprise or eyebrow raiser. That a mass pathology such as this occurs in a culture which demonizes the female and her sexuality -- and puts her out of mind and sight -- is only to be expected. To be sure, it is a simple given that the religious male fanatic who flies into a violent rage even at the thought of an exposed woman’s ankle will also be, in some other dysfunctional and dark secret compartment of his fractured life, the person who leads some poor helpless young boy into his private chambers.
"The key issue here is that the demented sickness that underlies Rule No. 19 is by no means exclusive to the Taliban; it is a widespread phenomenon throughout Islamic-Arab culture and it lies, among other factors, at the root of that culture’s addiction to rage and its lust for violence, terror and suicide."

Mr. Glazov's article is well-researched, with citations, and should be read in its entirety.

Not Sentimental Over Jimmy Carter

Earlier today, the Hedgehog posted an article entitled, "Gerald Ford and the News Media, Then and Now," which has enjoyed some national attention in the blogosphere. One of our visitors, Carol, commented on the post, saying "And what about Carter? he was roundly despised by the media as well as the ordinary people back when he was in office. Now everyone gets all gooey and sentimental. " I responded assuring her that The Hedgehog Blog certainly has not gone gooey and sentimental over Jimmy Carter. To emphasize that, we provide the following cartoon from The Dry Bones Blog.

My own view is that the current era of good feeling in the Mainstream Media regarding President Gerald Ford has two sources: (1) general good manners--one does not speak ill of the dead, when the deceased is a decent person and a former President of the United States; and (2) the MSM is portraying President Ford as the anti-Bush #43, the last of the "moderate" Republican Presidents, and an opponent of George W. Bush's foreign policy.

Official Palestinian Media Eulogizes Saddam as Beloved Hero

Today's Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin reports that an official Palestinian Authority television report on the execution of Saddam Hussein focused on the poster displayed above. (Of course, the English translation of the Arabic text and the Palestinian Media Watch logo in the upper right corner have been added.) The broadcast extolled Saddam as a martyr.

I believe there is an Arabic saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." It is usually equally true that the friend of my enemy is my enemy. Although the Palestinian Authority only exists because of the American-sponsored Oslo Accords, and has received hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aide (most of which has been stolen by the Palestinian kleptocracy); and although President George W. Bush supports the creation of a Palestinian State in Gaza, Yehuda and Shomron; the Paletinian Authority is no friend of the United States.

[Note: I received the Palestinian Media Watch story by e-mail. As of this posting, the online link was not working.]

Gerald Ford And The News Media: Then And Now

It's been interesting to read MSM stories about Gerald Ford, most of which seem, rightly, to emphasize his decency and openness, as well as his great contribution to the country's healing after Richard Nixon and Watergate. It hasn't always been that way, however.

As a young college student I was very politically involved in the 1976 election, and I remember the news media's treatment of President Ford then being simply awful. Then, of course, all we had was CBS, ABC, and NBC, along with the major print outlets. No blogosphere, no talk radio, no Fox News. What they told the public was all the public got.

So how did the MSM really feel about Gerry Ford? Jules Witcover, a veteran political reporter, devoted a number of pages to that subject in Marathon: The Pursuit of The Presidency 1976. I'll share just one telling excerpt, from page 45:
Soon the reporters addressed themselves to the time-honored after-hours relaxation of their trade, the writing of a parody [about Ford]. To the tune of the song sung by Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow in [The Wizard of Oz], it went:

I could while away the hours
Reflecting on my powers,
As we go down the drain.
I could spend like Rockefeller,
I could talk like Walter Heller,
If I only had a brain.

I could overcome inflation,
Put gas in every station
And we would feel no pain.
I could make the Arabs cower,
I could be an Eisenhower
If I only had a brain.

Oh, gee, if I could be
Like Truman in his prime;
Salty speeches whipping Congress into line,
Say "geothermal" -- the first time.

I could hold down grocery prices,
Wipe out the oil crisis,
Solve problems with no strain.
I could do a lot of thinkin',
I could be another Lincoln,
If I only had a brain.

It was in such a public climate -- of disillusionment deteriorating into ridicule -- that Jerry Ford in the spring of 1975 prepared for the campaign of 1976 that would determine whether the people wanted him to be their President.
It's hard to know where to begin (or end) in reflecting, in 2007, on that bit of 1976 campaign trivia. The elitism, the condescension, and the clubbiness of the news media covering the campaign are all fascinating. Today, those lyrics would be all over the blogosphere and the writers would be identified and embarrassed. Then, the song's existence was unknown to anyone but "the boys on the bus" until after the campaign, when Witcover told the story.

Now we're hearing about Gerald Ford the Eagle Scout, the fine athlete, the Yale Law graduate, and most prominently, the former president who disagrees with President Bush on the Iraq war. Back in 1976 the MSM made fun of him. Witcover's recent column eulogizing Gerald Ford was much kinder, but his book published 30 years ago is a telling account of how the MSM covered Republican campaigns in those days.

Update: Welcome, NRO Corner and Ed Driscoll readers! (And thanks, K-Lo, for the NRO link.) Please browse around the blog.