Saturday, March 31, 2007

For Palm Sunday: G.K. Chesterton's "The Donkey"

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Gaza Terrorists Used Sewer Pipes to Make Kassam Rockets

Golda Meir once said that peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israeli children. (And that was before the phenomenon of parents celebrating the "martyrdom" of their children who become suicide bombers.)

Dry Bones' Yaakov Kirschen paraphrases that sentiment, in his take on the Gaza sewage disaster. Moreover, Kirschen's internet research discloses the direct connection between the tragedy in Umm Naser and the Kassam rockets launched at Israel from the immediate vicinity of that town. Here are links to two relevant news stories:

The first, from Israel National News on Feb. 26, 2007, reported, "Israeli authorities have charged that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is digging up sewage pipes in the Gaza area so that the pipes can be used for Kassam rockets. The charges were made after the PA accused Israel of causing sewage to be spilled on Gaza's main north-south highway by not allowing needed pipes to move through border crossings."

The second, from the Jerusalem Post of March 4, 2007, reported the arrest by Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, of a Palestinian who was buying pipe in Israel for resale to Hamas and other terrorist organizations, for the manufacture of Kassam rockets. The article stated, "The pipes that were sold to [the arrested suspect] were intended for the construction of a sewage system in Gaza. The Shin Bet has been unable to determine the amount of metal that actually made its way to the terror organizations, and how much went to the sewage project."

The latter article notes that in 2006 Palestinian terrorists fired 1700 rockets at Israel. The Palestinian terrorists made sewer pipes into rockets and now their families have drowned in sewage. The appropriateness of retribution is almost, dare one say, Biblical.

Gaza Sewage Flood Kills Five

AP reports:

UMM NASER, Gaza Strip - A huge sewage reservoir in the northern Gaza collapsed Tuesday, killing five people in a frothing cascade of waste and mud that swamped a village and highlighted the desperate need to upgrade Gaza's overburdened infrastructure. ...

Aid officials said plans to build a larger waste treatment facility had been held up for years by perpetual fighting in the area between Israel and Palestinians and donor concerns about political instability. However, construction did not appear to have been affected by international sanctions imposed on the Palestinians after the militant Hamas group's election victory last year.

The existing treatment plant in northern Gaza — located just a few hundred yards from the border with Israel — stores waste in seven holding basins. With the burgeoning population producing nearly four times as much waste as the plant could treat, officials have put overflow sewage in the nearby dunes, creating a lake covering nearly 110 acres, the U.N. said. ...

Fadel Kawash, head of the Palestinian Water Authority, said the sewage level had risen in the reservoir in recent days. Shepard said the earthen embankments also had been weakened by rain.

But Gaza City Mayor Majid Abu Ramadan, who leads a council of Gaza municipalities, blamed the collapse on lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, accusing residents of stealing the dirt and selling it to building companies for $70 a truckload.

A 2004 U.N. report warned that the sewage facility, built for a population of 50,000, was handling waste from 190,000 people, and flooding was inevitable. It warned that the lake created by the overflow from the seven basins posed a serious health hazard, providing a breeding ground for mosquitoes and waterborne diseases. ...

Umm Naser is about 300 yards from the border with Israel, in an area where Palestinians have frequently launched rockets into Israel and Israeli artillery and aircraft have fired back. The situation worsened after Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier last June in a cross-border raid, and Israel responded by invading northern Gaza.

The flooding underscored the fragility of the overburdened infrastructure in the impoverished and overcrowded coastal region of 1.4 million people. The West Bank too, is suffering from eroding sewage and water infrastructure.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum blamed international "sanctions against Palestinians" for the sorry condition of Gaza's infrastructure. Most foreign donors froze aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas came to power last year, but Shepard said a project to build a treatment plant in northern Gaza had not been affected by the boycott.

The Kosher Hedgehog comments: Funny, but somehow during the decades from 1967 until the Oslo Accords, throughout the awful, oppressive, genocidal Israeli occupation, there was no sewage disposal problem. In 2006, the Palestinian Authority, headed by Hamas, received 1.2 Billion Dollars from Arab countries, Iran and the United Nations. The United States and the European Union contributed tens of millions of dollars more, for humanitarian aid, despite the sanctions against the Hamas government. Last month, Israel released $100,000,000 in impounded taxes that it had collected since the election of the Hamas government. Apparently, paying and outfitting militias, shelling Southern Israeli towns and cross-border raids to kidnap Israeli soldiers were a higher priority than sewage disposal. Cox & Forkum have it about right:

Oh, by the way, Israel immediately offered aid in the rescue and cleanup.

Mitt Romney and the "Money Primary"

March 31 is the last day of the first "Money Primary." By April 1 the MSM will be all over the story of how well each presidential candidate did. So-- to build and maintain momentum, the candidates need to have as much to show for their fund-raising efforts as possible.

It's no secret that I enthusiastically support Mitt Romney as the candidate who I believe will, in his words, "steer our nation and our Republican Party back onto the path of conservative principles that have long created jobs, protected families, kept taxes low, and made our nation the world's greatest hope for freedom." (There he is, with his family, at left.)

If you agree with me about that, then now is the time to give Governor Romney your help in the next 48 hours. He's taken on an ambitious goal: to "fuel the greatest grassroots effort in modern political history." It will take you two minutes to make a secure online contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, even $50 or whatever you can possibly give.

You can do that right here.

If you have questions about this, just e-mail me and I'll get back to you.

Thanks so much.

The Hedgehog

FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life: Watch This Case!

Hugh Hewitt writes today about the upcoming Supreme Court decision in FEC v. Wisconsin Right To Life. It's probably the most important case on the Court's docket this term that you've never heard of. Hugh's op-ed is written as an amicus brief, addressed to Justices Roberts and Alito, who are the key votes in perhaps overturning a fairly long line of Supreme Court precedent. You need to read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
We lost in 1976 the full and fair and absolutely free political debate that had been the legacy of the revolution. Bureaucrats arrived to replace candidates, editors and the public as judges of what could be said and by whom.

The gag order entered then on every American has grown broader with each passing year as the inevitable distortions that follow a market restraint began to build and then spread. Now George Soros and his friends –who don’t mind hiring the lawyers and gaming the rules—are in the saddle, and the spontaneous speech that has long characterized American politics begins to erupt only to be tamped down by worries about registration, incorporation, reporting and safe harbors.

You two can change that, and with a very simple stroke of the pen. Simply declare that the First Amendment meant what it said, and if the public wants a different system for campaigns, the public will have to amend it.
This will be an interesting case to watch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tony Snow's Cancer Recurrence and The Angry Left

Jim Treacher has performed one of the most brutal, and well-deserved, smackdowns I have ever seen. In fact, I am struggling to think of a better one.

Update: K-Lo has the subject post in its entirety. Must be read to be believed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bad Numbers for Mrs. Clinton

"A national poll of likely voters by independent pollster John Zogby found nearly half (46 percent) said they couldn't vote for the former first lady under any circumstances. . . [A]nother number was even more disturbing to senior advisers in her campaign. Mr. Zogby found that among likely Democratic voters, 18 percent said they 'would never cast a vote in Mrs. Clinton's favor.' That such a large percentage of overall voters would flatly express an aversion to electing her president was troubling enough to top Democratic officials. But that she appeared to be losing support within the base of her own party set off alarm bells among her high command"

-- Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent, writing in the Washington Times.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Job Approval Is A Difficult Thing

According to Real Clear Politics, President Bush's approval rating is 34.3%.

For Congress, the number is 30.8%.

Maybe this will provide some consolation to the President. People are unhappy with him, but they're slightly more unhappy with Congress. This all should make for an interesting 2008 election.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Making Sense of the Fred Thompson Boomlet

Bill Hobbs is very excited about Fred Thompson:
A number of political observers believe the "Big Three" candidate most vulnerable if Fred Thompson enters the race is Mitt Romney - whose support might rapidly shift to Thompson as there is little that Romney offer the electorate that Thompson can't match. Simply put, conservative Republicans voters - who will decide the nomination - have many fewer reasons to worry about Thompson than they do about Romney. . . .

My prediction: The first reliable national polls after Thompson announces his candidacy will have Thompson roughly tied with Giuliani, and both of them at least 10 points ahead of McCain and Romney.
I really like Fred Thompson, and "Law and Order" is my favorite TV show. (Well, it's really the only one I try to catch every week.) But I am mystified about his appeal as a conservative presidential candidate. The fact is, polls right now signify nothing more than name recognition. Thompson (who once was pro-choice but seems to be getting a pass on that) is unknown to most Americans who don't watch the TV show on which he stars. I admit he's a heck of a spokesman, but what real basis is there for believing he can be a good conservative president?

Thompson is a Howard Baker protege (yes, that Howard Baker, who is not most conservatives' cup of tea) who served in the Senate for seven years, then left to make money as an actor. He's never been an executive. Here's a little more on his political pedigree from Wikipedia:
In the 2000 Republican presidential primaries, Thompson initially backed former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. When Alexander dropped out of the race, Thompson endorsed Senator John McCain's bid and became his national co-chairman.
Thompson's background looks very certifiably . . . moderate.

So whence cometh his conservative appeal? Right now Thompson's principal strong point, among conservatives, seems to be that he is not McCain, Romney, or Giuliani. Time will tell, but I'm not sure this is a boomlet that will last.


Thompson's record on abortion is more complex than my post here suggests. Please see the comments below by "Truth in Advertising" and "ala." Fair enough; I don't know exactly what Thompson thought about abortion earlier in his very short career as an elected official.

What fascinates me about Thompson is not his position on abortion, but his general profile as a moderate, and the "passes" he is getting that the Thompson supporters are unwilling to give Romney. So I ask Truth in Advertising and ala:

  • It seems important to you that whatever Fred Thompson might have said about abortion, his voting record on the issue is perfect. Well, despite anything Mitt Romney ever said about abortion, every decision he made as governor was 100% pro-life. Do you give him any credit for that?

  • If in 2000 Mitt Romney had been 100% behind Lamar Alexander, a moderate, and then had been national co-chair for John McCain, would you be ignoring those very high-profile efforts on behalf of moderate Republicans, as you do for Thompson?

  • Finally, Evangelicals for Mitt is not an official Romney site, so don't blame the campaign for what a blog says. This blog is not connected to the Romney campaign either, although I am one of the Governor's a proud and committed supporters.
Update 2: Evangelicals for Mitt provides further information. They seem to be winning this argument, if you ask me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Global Warming Discussion?

I am still figuring out exactly what I think about global warming, but I don't think this kind of reporting on the issue is going to change any minds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Brave New World Update--If Gay Marriage is OK, Why not Incest?

Michael Medved and Dennis Prager, among others, have cautioned that the same arguments used in favor of gay marriage would suggest that incestuous marriage be permitted as well. The problem with these slippery slope arguments is that they have a way of becoming the next "progressive" agenda item. Here is a news story from Germany about a brother and sister who just want to be free to love one another. Interestingly enough, the story does not mention legalizing marriage, just incest, presumably because the institution of marriage already is passe' in Germany even among unrelated heterosexual couples.


In the New York Post, Gordon Cucullu reports on how General Petraeus (photo right), our troops and the Iraqis themselves are making real progress on the ground toward defeating the al Qaeda insurgency in Iraq, and how they are doing it. Why is it that one feels such reports are the Democrats' worse nightmare? "We support our troops; we just don't want them to succeed."

Christopher Hitchens on the Anniversary of the Iraq Invasion

It's in Slate and is written in question and answer format. The title: So, Mr. Hitchens, Weren't You Wrong About Iraq? Here's a teaser:
Four years after the first coalition soldiers crossed the Iraqi border, one can attract pitying looks (at best) if one does not take the view that the whole engagement could have been and should have been avoided. Those who were opposed to the operation from the beginning now claim vindication, and many of those who supported it say that if they had known then what they know now, they would have spoken or voted differently.What exactly does it mean to take the latter position? At what point, in other words, ought the putative supporter to have stepped off the train? The question isn't as easy to answer as some people would have you believe.
Read the whole thing. This kind of unapologetic thinking is essential today.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Go See "Amazing Grace"

It's an inspiring movie that even a 10 year-old could see, enjoy, and learn from. Learn more about the movie, theater locations near you, and watch a trailer, here; and here's a review by Orson Scott Card that will make you want to get to a theater as soon as you can.

The movie's excellent star, Ioan Gruffudd (YO-un GRIFF-ith) is pictured at left.

Well, what are you waiting for? Support this movie!

And Just In Case You Thought I Was Exaggerating...

... in the previous post, about Israel in World Opinion, here is a dispatch from the United Nations, courtesy of Anne Bayefsky at Eye on the UN:

Women's Rights at the UN: Israel as the Only Violator

Last Friday, March 9, 2007 the UN wrapped up its annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Guess where they found a violation of women's rights? Among the hundreds of thousands of women who are dead, dying, mutilated, displaced or raped in Sudan? Among the million female migrant workers cowering in the basements of Saudi Arabian villas from the taskmasters who stole their passports the minute they got off the plane? Among the women stoned and hanged for "adultery" in Iran? The millions of women forcibly aborted in China? The thousands murdered or forced to commit suicide for the crime of "dishonoring" their fathers and brothers across the Arab and Muslim world?

If you guessed "none of the above," then you'll enjoy coming on down to the UN. The UN's lead body charged with promoting and protecting women's rights identifies only one state as violating the rights of women in the world today – Israel.(Violating the rights of Palestinian women.) The vote was 40 for and 2 against (the United States and Canada).

Germany, on behalf of the European Union, gave a one minute "explanation" excusing its affirmative vote. It said: "we express our deep concerns for the impact on all women in the region including the Israeli women" – although Germany did not insist such language be inserted in the resolution itself. For 60 seconds, the representative of the country where millions of Jewish women and girls were murdered en masse not so long ago took notice of the Jewish mothers and daughters who have fallen victim to terrorism in the Jewish state. This is the moral corruption that the UN breeds within democracies like Germany. In the United Nations, an institution owned and directed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the European Union grovels while the real abusers cheer.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Israel in World Opinion: Another Dry Bones Then and Now

Every so often our Blog buddy, legendary Jerusalem Post cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, is inspired by current events to look back at similar situations he has portrayed in the past in his Dry Bones comic strip. The results are always amusing, but also depressing, at least for those of us who hope for progress in human affairs. With that warning for the faint of heart, dear readers, here is Israel in World Opinion, as illustrated by Dry Bones this week and almost precisely ten years ago:

NOW (March 12, 2007):

THEN (March 31, 1997):

"Peanuts" for Petraeus

Even as General Petraeus and American troops struggle to defeat the Iraq insurgency and stabilize the Baghdad, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trades pork for votes in favor of the Democrats' supplemental military appropriations bill, which is designed to hamstring that military campaign. The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial in its Saturday edition, finds in this shameful Congressional spectacle evidence of the wisdom of the Constitutional Framers, in placing the President, not Congress, in command of the nation's armed forces. I find evidence of something far more sinister--a Democratic majority in Congress that so hates President Bush, and so fears the political consequences should his Iraq policy succeed, that they are willing to use any means necessary to assure American military failure in Iraq, even if they have to conduct a $25 billion raid on the Treasury to buy the votes needed to achieve the defeat they so ardently seek.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Review of Hugh Hewitt's "A Mormon in the White House? Ten Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney"

Your humble servant, the Hedgehog, has a lengthy review of Hugh Hewitt's book, published today in Meridian Magazine. It's written from the perspective of a committed member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Mormons").


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's Plans

Yesterday a redacted transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's statement in his "Article 5 Hearing" was released. Every American should read it the list of 31 actual or prospective attacks in which Mohammad acknowledged having been "a responsible participant, principal planner, trainer, financier . . ., executor, and/or a personal participant."

Thanks to Opinion Journal's Best of the Web Today, here's a list of all 31 (from pages 18-19 of the transcript):

1. I was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Operation

2. I was responsible for the 9/11 Operation, from A to Z.

3. I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, [Wall Street Journal reporter] Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the Internet holding his head.

4. I was responsible for the Shoe Bomber Operation to down two American airplanes.

5. I was responsible for the Filka Island operation in Kuwait that killed two American soldiers.

6. I was responsible for the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, which was frequented by British and American nationals.

7. I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing the New (or Second) Wave attacks against the following skyscrapers after 9/11:

a. Library Tower, California.
b. Sears Tower, Chicago,
c. Plaza Bank, Washington state.
d. The Empire State Building, New York City.

8. I was responsible for planning, financing, & follow-up of Operations to destroy American military vessels and oil tankers in the Straights of Hormuz, and Straights of Gibralter, and the Port of Singapore.

9. I was responsible for planning, training, surveying, and financing for the Operation to bomb and destroy the Panama Canal.

10. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the assassination of several former American Presidents, including President Carter.

11. I was responsible for surveying, planning, and financing for the bombing of suspension bridges in New York.

12. I was responsible for planning to destroy the Sears Tower by burning a few fuel or oil tanker trucks beneath it or around it.

13. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the operation to destroy Heathrow Airport, the Canary Wharf Building, and Big Ben on British soil.

14. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the destruction of many night clubs frequented by American and British citizens on Thailand soil.

15. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of the New York Stock Exchange and other financial targets after 9/11.

16. I was responsible for planning, financing, and surveying for the destruction of buildings in the Israeli city of Elat by using airplanes leaving from Saudi Arabia.

17. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing for the destruction of American embassies in Indonesia, Australia, and Japan.

18. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of the Israeli embassy in India, Azerbaijan, the Philippines, and Australia.

19. I was responsible for surveying and financing for the destruction of an Israeli 'El-Al' Airlines flight on Thailand soil departing from Bangkok Airport.

20. I was responsible for sending several Mujahadeen into Israel to conduct surveillance to hit several strategic targets deep in Israel.

21. I was responsible for the bombing of the hotel in Mombasa that is frequented by Jewish travelers via El-Al airlines.

22. I was responsible for launching a Russian-made SA-7 surface-to-air missile on El-Al or other Jewish airliner departing from Mombasa.

23. I was responsible for planning and surveying to hit American targets in South Korea, such as American military bases and a few night clubs frequented by American soldiers.

24. I was responsible for financial, excuse me, I was responsible for providing financial support to hit American, Jewish, and British targets in Turkey.

25. I was responsible for surveillance needed to hit nuclear power plants that generate electricity in several U.S. states.

26. I was responsible for planning, surveying, and financing to hit NATO Headquarters in Europe.

27. I was responsible for the planning and surveying needed to execute the Bojinka Operation, which was designed to down twelve American airplanes full of passengers. I personally monitored a found-trip, Manila-to-Seoul, Pan Am flight.

28. I was responsible for the assassination attempt against President Clinton during his visit to the Philippines in 1994 or 1995. . . .

29. I shared responsibility for the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul the second while he was visiting the Philippines.

30. I was responsible for the training and financing for the assassination of Pakistan's President Musharraf.

31. I was responsible for the attempt to destroy an American oil company owned by the Jewish former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, on the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The entire transcript is more than worth reading. Among other things, the level of formal process given to him, and the tone of his responses (he once answered the judge, "Okay by me") are fascinating.

If you don't think we are in a war, read the transcript and remember, there are other Khalid Sheikh Mohammads out there making similar plans.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Joe Lieberman Tells It Like It is to AIPAC; Pelosi is Booed

Senator Joe Lieberman spoke to the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) yesterday. Here is an excerpt from his remarks:
There is something profoundly wrong when opposition to the war in Iraq seems to inspire greater passion than opposition to Islamist extremism.
There is something profoundly wrong when there is so much distrust of our intelligence community that some Americans doubt the plain and ominous facts about the threat to us posed by Iran.
And there is something profoundly wrong when, in the face of attacks by radical Islam, we think we can find safety and stability by pulling back, by talking to and accommodating our enemies, and abandoning our friends and allies.
Some of this wrong-headed thinking about the world is happening because we're in a political climate where, for many people, when George Bush says "yes," their reflex reaction is to say "no."
That is unacceptable.
It's time to step back and start thinking together about our national interest again, to say "yes" when we agree and "no" when we don't, and to find ways to disagree without dividing ourselves from one another.
It's time to step back and remember that there is a real enemy out there—an enemy violently opposed to human rights and women's rights and gay rights and the basic political rights of each one of us.
It's time to step back and see that America's interests lie with the interests of free people everywhere, and that the response to radical Islam is not to abandon them but to stand with them—whether they are in Baghdad or Teheran or Jerusalem.

You can read the complete text of his address here. Apparently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was received less warmly, as reported here. [HT: Power Line.]

Monday, March 12, 2007


Just how extreme is the Iraq withdrawal bill that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is promoting? Even the Los Angeles Times, an opponent of the Iraq invasion from the outset, opposes it. In an editorial published today, entitled "Do We Really Need a Gen. Pelosi?", the Times editorialist wrote:
"After weeks of internal strife, House Democrats have brought forth their proposal for forcing President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008. The plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics. If the legislation passes, Bush says he'll veto it, as well he should. "

The Times holds that the Democrats should either forthrightly cut off funds for the war, or give the "surge plan" an opportunity, but under no circumstances should Speaker Pelosi and her band of would-be generals try to micromanage the military campaign from the Capitol.

If ever there was a clarion call for House Democrats to step back from the brink and take a reality check, the Times editorial is it. We will see if the Democrats can resist the call of their left wingnuts to take the plunge.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

UK's Channel 4 Airs "The Great Global Warming Swindle"

And, thanks to Little Green Footballs, you can watch the entire program here. Friends, this is the Anti-Gore, well-documented, and beautifully produced. Warning: Don't start to watch if you don't have 75 minutes to spare. It is riveting--once I started to watch I could not stop.

Friday, March 09, 2007

15th Anniversary of the Death of Menachem Begin, of Blessed Memory

Kudos to Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues
for calling attention to the fact that today is the 15th anniversary of the death of Menachem Begin, a hero of the struggle for Israeli independence, Israel's first non-Labor prime minister, and in my view one of the truly great leaders of the Jewish people in the 20th Century. Rick links an excellent retrospective on Begin's career as prime minister, by Elliot Jager, in the Jerusalem Post.

National Review's John O'Sullivan Briefs One Jerusalem Bloggers Call

On Thursday of this week, the Kosher Hedgehog participated in a bloggers' conference call, sponsored by One Jerusalem, with John O'Sullivan, the author of the recently published book, The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister, which focuses on the concurrent careers of President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and the respective roles that each of these conservative heroes played in ending Soviet Communism and liberating Eastern Europe from the imperial Soviet yoke. As described by One Jerusalem, Mr. O'Sullivan is one of the leading public affairs analysts of our day. Along with serving Prime Minister Thatcher, he has been an important influence on the American Conservative movement as editor of National Review and the Public Interest. The entire conference call (including the clarion voice of the Kosher Hedgehog as he asks Mr. O'Sullivan a question) may be heard at the One Jerusalem website.

O'Sullivan made a number of observations of interest to Hedgehog readers, which I paraphrase below:

On Whether These Three Leaders Would Have Supported the Iraq War: We know that Pope John Paul II was opposed to an invasion of Iraq, because he expressed that view prior to his death. We know that Mrs. Thatcher, who is the only one of the three still living, supports the war, because she has said so publicly. Mrs. Thatcher also feels that it would never be her place, as a former Prime Minister, to criticize a war policy of Great Britain while British troops are in the field.

Mr. O'Sullivan is confident that President Reagan would have invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban after September 11. He also believes that President Reagan would have supported the invasion of Iraq. However, because President Reagan was exceedingly conservative (in a non-politicial sense) and cautious, Mr. O'Sullivan believes he would have conducted the invasion (had he been Commander-In-Chief) with many more troops and with a fully detailed and vetted post-invasion plan. Mr. O'Sullivan cited the case of the 1983 Grenada invasion, when President Reagan doubled the number of troops recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When asked why, President Reagan responded, "If President Carter had given the same order [to double the committed forces] when he attempted the rescue of the Iran hostages, he would still be sittiing in this seat."

On the 2008 Presidential Election: He believes that the American people, despite the unpopularity of the Iraq war, are still looking for a strong leader who will make them feel secure. He does not see that winning attribute in any of the serious Democratic contenders. He feels this desire for strong foreign policy leadership with an emphasis on national security and defense is the reason that Rudy Guiliani is the early GOP front runner, with John McCain in second, although fading and facing irreconciliable policy differences with most GOP voters. When the Kosher Hedgehog asked about Mitt Romney, Mr. O'Sullivan stated that he is an intellligent candidate, attractive and likeable, but perhaps a bit too corporate, too much the image of the successful business man, to win the GOP Presidential nomination. Mr. O'Sullivan believes that the rough edges to Rudy Guiliani's personality, his very prickliness, is actually a virtue that enhances an almost populist image. If Mr. Romney is to compete, he must develop a more populist image of his own, perhaps on the immigration issue, where his position is much closer to that of most Republicans.

On the Pope and Islam: According to Mr. O'Sullivan, Pope John Paul II made the same sort of ecumenical overtures to moderate Islamic leaders that he made much more successfully to Judaism, the Orthodox Churches and Protestant Christianity. However, near the end of his life, Pope John Paul II expressed disappointment in the Islamic response, which never went beyond polite letters. We now know, Mr. O'Sullivan observed, that the moderate Islamic leaders were too frightened by the potential reaction from Islamic radicals, including the threat of assassination, to respond to the Pope in a more substantive fashion.

In part based on this prior experience, Pope Benedict XVI has decided to adopt a different approach to Islam. He is still open to dialogue, but it must be a substantive discussion that reflects the issues critical to the interaction of Chrisians and Moslems in the world today. In particular he plans to challenge (as he already did in his controversial September 2006 address in Regensburg) Islam's commitment to militant expansionism and compelling belief by force. He believes that the other Western religions have transcended those characteristics in their own historical development, and that Islam must be pressed to do so as well.

The 2008 Presidential Race Analyzed, From All Sides

Richard Baehr in The American Thinker has done it pretty much down the middle, from the Republical side, at least; he's not enchanted by any of the Democrat candidates. Excerpt:
On the Republican side, the race is still too early to call, though Giuliani would have to be considered the favorite. It is unclear how well any of the three leading candidates is doing in the fundraising sweepstakes so far, though there are rumors McCain is struggling despite a large donor base from his 2000 race. McCain, who would be in his 70s were he elected, may seem a bit tired.

There is no clear favorite in the earliest GOP primary states, despite Giuliani's lead in the national opinion surveys. So candidates who are better organized on the ground in those states, such as McCain, could still recover. Romney has much of the Jeb Bush team from Florida in his camp in that important state.

Romney is trying to position himself to the right of McCain and Giuliani, sensing that conservative primary voters may be unhappy with all three of the leading candidates on one issue or more, but may be more in line with Romney's more traditional GOP positions on some issues than with the other two.

In any case, the GOP has three attractive candidates who would all be competitive in a national race . And none of them have the stench of inauthenticity of the current Democratic front-runner . . . .
(HT: Hugh Hewitt.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Libby Verdict: A Perfect Pointlessness

Full disclosure: I didn't like what Lawrence Walsh did, and I was not crazy about what Ken Starr did-- both were examples of the dangers of appointing independent or special prosecutors.

But the Fitzgerald prosecution of Scooter Libby is unlike anything I've ever seen. A special prosecutor goes into an investigation knowing there is no underlying crime, but proceeds anyway just to see if he can catch anyone lying to him? Is that criminal justice in America today?

Somewhat surprisingly, the Washington Post has the issue dead-nuts on today. You should read the whole ting, but here's an excerpt:

It would have been sensible for Mr. Fitzgerald to end his investigation after learning about Mr. Armitage. Instead, like many Washington special prosecutors before him, he pressed on, pursuing every tangent in the case. In so doing he unnecessarily subjected numerous journalists to the ordeal of having to disclose confidential sources or face imprisonment. One, Judith Miller of the New York Times, lost several court appeals and spent 85 days in jail before agreeing to testify. The damage done to journalists' ability to obtain information from confidential government sources has yet to be measured.

Mr. Wilson's case has besmirched nearly everyone it touched. The former ambassador will be remembered as a blowhard. Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were overbearing in their zeal to rebut Mr. Wilson and careless in their handling of classified information. Mr. Libby's subsequent false statements were reprehensible. And Mr. Fitzgerald has shown again why handing a Washington political case to a federal special prosecutor is a prescription for excess.

Mr. Fitzgerald was, at least, right about one thing: The Wilson-Plame case, and Mr. Libby's conviction, tell us nothing about the war in Iraq.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

German Bishops Compare Palestinian Authority to Nazi-Occupied Poland

This story hurts. Today a group of German Roman Catholic Bishops, including the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Josef Meisner (photo left), compared the Palestinian territories governed by the Palestinian Authority to Nazi-occupied Poland, includinbg the Warsaw Ghetto. "This morning we saw pictures of the Warsaw ghetto at Yad Vashem [Israel's official Holocaust Memorial] and this evening we are going to the Ramallah ghetto," said German Bishop Gregor Maria Franz Hanke.
"Cages in the image of ghettos," said the Bishop of Augsburg of the territories. While crossing one of the checkpoints into East Jerusalem the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, told reporters: "This is something that is done to animals, not people." Meisner said that the fence reminded him of the Berlin Wall and that in his lifetime he did not believe he would see such a thing again. As the Berlin Wall was brought down so will this wall be brought down, he said, adding that the fence served no purpose.

I wish I had been there, and that I had been given an opportunity to point out a few factual distinctions between the border between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, on the one hand, and Nazi-occupied Poland, the Warsaw Ghetto, Jewish ghettos in Europe in general, and the Berlin Wall, on the other. This may strike the reader as chutzpah (nerve) on my part; after all, the Roman Catholic Church should know all about European Jewish ghettos, since it was the Medieval society overseen by the Church that established them. And who should know more about Nazis and the Berlin Wall than German clerics? Indeed, their Church watched in silence as the Nazi regime murdered six million European Jews. Nonetheless, here is what I would have pointed out to them:

1. The Jewish ghettos were established by the various governments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe and the Arab lands as neighborhoods where Jews were compelled to live. Jews were not allowed to live anywhere else. The Palestinian territories governed by the Palestinian Authority were established pursuant to the Oslo Accords, a treaty entered into freely by Israel and the PLO, and hailed at the time by the Roman Catholic Church. Palestinians may and do live in many places throughout the world other than in the Palestinian territories. Those territories have international border crossings with the Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt. Palestinians who wish to leave and live elsewhere may do so, and may also return.

2. For the same reason, it is hardly accurate to describe the territories as "cages in the image of ghettos." It is true that the standard of living was much higher, and the economy much stronger, in the Arab communities of the West Bank and Gaza when they were occupied by Israel from 1967 through 1993, before the onset of the Palestinian Authority. It is true that the corrupt Palestinian Authority has siphoned off tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of dollars of international aide into private bank accounts, weapons purchases and the establishment of terrorist militias, but that can hardly be blamed on Israel. Affairs inside the Palestinian territories are run by the Palestinian Authority, which, for all its faults, is the Palestinians' own government.

3. Nazi Germany established the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940 as the concentration point for Polish Jews before they were shipped off to slave labor and extermination camps. The Jews of Poland had not attacked Nazi Germany. The Jews of Poland had never attempted to destroy Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany, however, had decided to exterminate them. After three years of starvation, disease, killings and deportations had reduced the population of the Warsaw Ghetto from 450,000 to 37,000, a remnant of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, realizing that they had nothing to lose, revolted against their Nazi oppressors. After three months (longer than the entire nation of Poland had resisted the Nazi invasion), the revolt was crushed and the surviving Jews in the Ghetto were shipped to extermination camps. Only a handful survived to see the end of World War II.

In contrast, the Palestinians have sought the destruction of Israel since its creation in 1948. At virtually any time since the 1993 Oslo Accords the Palestinians could have had their own sovereign, independent nation state, merely by forswearing violence and agreeing to live in peace with Israel. To this day, the official position of the Hamas party, which governs the Palestinian Authority, is that Israel has no legitimacy and no right to exist. Terrorist militias from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah constantly attempt attacks on Israel. It is they in their murderous hatred who resemble the Nazi oppressors in Poland, not the Israelis.

4. The Berlin Wall was built by the Communist regime of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to keep its citizens in. The security barrier (mostly a fence, a wall in perhaps 5% of its length) was built by Israel to keep unauthorized Palestinians, especially terrorists, out. Why does anyone need to point this distinction out to Cardinal Meisner? That is also the purpose of the checkpoints. Contrary to the Cardinal's remark, animals do not go through checkpoints where their identification papers are checked. However, checkpoints are fairly common at border crossings.

5. Contrary to Cardinal Meisner's statement, the security barrier does serve a purpose. Based on the decline in suicide bombings and other terrorist murders, it has saved tens, perhaps hundreds of Israeli lives.

Of course, perhaps to Cardinal Meisner, saving Jewish lives serves no purpose.

Update March 7, 2007:
JTA reports that Jewish community leaders in Germany reacted angrily to the Bishops' remarks:

The remarks were "appalling and completely unacceptable," said Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a statement Tuesday.

"If Bishop Gregor Hanke compares -- and thus equates -- the Warsaw Ghetto and the fate of the Jews interned there during the Holocaust with the situation of the Palestinians in Ramallah, then this reveals either alarming deficits in his knowledge of history, or he is trying to turn the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and their children today into perpetrators, and to play the role of therapist himself," Knobloch said.

"Not only does it misrepresent the facts of the conflict in the Middle East and Israel's security situation to impute racist motives a la Nazi Germany to the State of Israel and its government, but it also promotes cliches that are borderline anti-Semitic."

According to the German Press Agency, the Bishops Conference has rejected the criticism.

Normally, the wise public relations reaction to an incident such as this would be for the German Bishops Conference to apologize for any offense that their comments may have caused, while insisting that they were motivated by human rights concerns for the Palestinian Arabs. That the Bishops Conference decided instead to simply blow off the criticism from the German Jewish community, for remarks that were demonstrably false as well as patently offensive, is doubly disturbing. Indeed, it suggests that anti-Jewish libels are once more respectable in Germany (and elsewhere).

Monday, March 05, 2007

Maybe Mrs. Clinton Is Not So Inevitable After All

Tom Bevan posts some analysis of the speeches given in Selma, Alabama by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, including must-watch video of a portion of Obama's speech there. I am sure Team Hillary is pretty worried right about now.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Beautiful Upper Galilee of Israel

The land of Israel is truly beautiful, and with God's help her people have made it a fruitful garden in the 58 years since the birth of the State of Israel. One of its most lovely regions is the Northern Galilee, around the town of Kiryat Shemonah. This photo was taken by Linda Stern, the Overseas Administrator for the Yeshivah (school for religious studies) of Kiryat Shemonah, on the road that goes up to the Yeshiva. The Hebrew sign on the tree reads "To the Kiryat Shemonah Yeshivah." The photo looks southeast, down on the southern end of the town and an industrial park on its outskirts. This vista looks out across the Hula Valley, once a marsh, now fertile farmland. The dark green line of trees visible in the center ground on the right side of the photo marks the location of the Jordan River, which north of the Sea of Galilee is a modest stream. The hills rising on the far side of the valley are the Golan Heights.

Prior to the June 1967 Six-Day War, the Golan Heights were part of Syria, and Syrian artillery used them to bombard the Israeli towns, villages and farming communities of the Hula Valley. Many would have Israel return those hills to Syria, so that they once again could be used for that purpose, just as the heights of Lebanon, just to the north of Kiryat Shemonah, were used by Hezbollah to rocket and shell Kiryat Shemona and other northern Israeli communities during the fighting this past summer.

Those Hezbollah rockets and shells, in addition to damaging buildings in Kiryat Shemonah, also set fires in the trees on the lovely mountainside from which this photo was taken. Linda tells me that the Yeshiva and its friends around the world plan to plant 1000 trees on the moutainside, corresponding to the number of shells and rockets that landed in Kiryat Shemonah during the five weeks of the war. Any one who would like to help out this effort financially, or otherwise assist the yeshiva, can contact Linda by e-mail at

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Why John McCain Is Unloved

Dean Barnett says , "I’ll say something nice about McCain someday. I swear. But again, today is not the day." Dean's entire Townhall piece is a great read, and here's an excerpt:

Just this week, McCain has seemed determined to remind conservatives of every thumb in the eye he has delivered to the conservative community over the past six years. First, McCain made his announcement that he’s running for president on David Letterman’s show. Letterman, like most members of the media, adores McCain. But conservatives don’t adore Letterman, and find his show to be an odd venue for McCain to announce that he’ll be seeking their support.

As insult to injury, McCain skipped this week’s annual CPAC convention. Again. McCain always skips the CPAC convention. All the other Republican candidates, from the mighty Giuliani to the tiny Tancredo made the pilgrimage to seek CPAC’s support. McCain had a prior commitment.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Looking for A Denunciation from McCain or Giuliani -- Or Anyone

Many of us have been predicting that Mitt Romney would be the subject of scurrilous, anonymous religious attacks. One need not be a genius to have predicted this, of course; slimy and cowardly innuendos have been part of American politics from the beginning of the Republic.

As expected, it began in South Carolina, as Aaron Gould Shenin reports in The State, South Carolina's leading newspaper. The attack

. . . was sent via electronic mail from the address “” It said it was from “Martin W.” and attacked Romney’s faith.

The e-mail is headlined: “Mitt Romney has a family secret he doesn’t want you to know.”

It says: “Those dark suspicions you hide deep inside yourself about Mormonism are trying to tell you something. Trust your instincts! ... The light of truth will burn through the smoke and mirrors of Mitt Romney’s movie star looks and crafty words!”

The e-mail includes a copy of a recent Associated Press story about how Romney’s ancestors practiced polygamy..

All in all, fairly mild stuff. We will surely see much worse before too long.

But I'm wondering: Will John McCain ever denounce tactics like this? Will Rudy Giuliani? Giuliani at least has said that Romney's religion should not be an issue. McCain, through a spokesman, rather weakly stated:

"A presidential contest is a leadership test, not a religious one," McCain spokesman Danny Diaz said Tuesday when asked whether the senator denounces such attacks.
Well, I guess that's a denunciation, sort of. But as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, plenty of high-visibility McCain supporters are brazenly playing the religion card in South Carolina. McCain doesn't seem to have distanced himself from those tactics, or asked his supporters to stop.

Giuliani did better, stating on the Hugh Hewitt show:
I think that the Governor’s religion is not an issue in any way in the campaign, and any more than John Kennedy as being a Catholic was an issue, or Senator Lieberman as being Jewish when we ran for vice president. I mean, these things…I think we’re way beyond that, and I don’t think it’ll be an issue. I mean, obviously, by an issue, people will comment on it, but I think the American people have gone way beyond that, and they’re willing…what they want to do is look at the person, and what kind of…how have you performed in public office, what have you done, have you acted as a fair, impartial person in dealing with people of all different religions or whatever. And if that’s the case, those are the issues, not is what is someone’s religion, but how have they acted.
It seems to me that if Rudy keeps that up, he's likely to come out ahead of McCain, who does not exactly exude magnanimity anyway. Still, an outright denunciation of religious attacks-- anonymous or not-- has yet to be seen from either of Romney's rivals.

We'll be watching for one.

[Note: There's more about this at Article VI Blog.]

Thursday, March 01, 2007

As The Weekend Approaches . . . Experience Old Spice

Here's something totally frivolous. If you're a man, take the test. If you're woman who loves (or even likes) a man, get him to take the test.

HT: Hugh Hewitt.