Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Folly by the Olmert Government--Israel Exchanges Live Brutal Child Killer for Dead Soldiers

Captured Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev (l)and Ehud Goldwasser (right).

Today the Israeli Cabinet approved an exchange with Hezbollah, in order to recover the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were captured by Hezbollah in July 2006 in the cross-border raid that triggered the Israel-Hezbollah war of that summer. Just as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presided over a disaster of a war, he now has presided over a disaster of an exchange. That is because the price for obtaining the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev, in addition to the release of the remains of dozens of infiltrators and terrorists, including the corpses of 8 Hezbollah men, also includes the release of four captured Hezbollah fighters being held in Israel, and the release of terrorist murderer Samir Kuntar.

The Hedgehog Blog discussed the folly of releasing Kuntar in a previous post on September 8, 2006. Here from that article is the horrific description of Kuntar's heinous acts during a 1979 raid on the Israeli northern coastal town of Nahariya, taken from an article in the Israeli newspapaer HaAretz:

In 1979, Kuntar led a group of gunmen on an attack in Nahariya, during which broke into an apartment and took hostage Danny Haran, 28, and his four-year-old daughter, Einat.

"I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades," Danny's wife, Smadar, wrote three years ago in an account in the Washington Post, describing in part how she hid from the terrorists with her other daughter, Yael, just two.

"I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

"As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

"By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her."

As I wrote back in September 2006, the contrast between Kuntar and the Israeli hostage prisoners, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, could not be more stark. Goldwasser and Regev are soldiers who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in an unprovoked military raid across an internationally recognized border, accompanied by indiscriminate shelling of Israeli towns.

Indeed, Hezbollah launched its July 2006 raid, in which Goldwasser and Regev were captured, in order to obtain "bargaining chips" to force Israel to release Kuntar. Now, in its final days, the Olmert government has allowed Hezbollah to achieve the original objective of its unprovoked attack on Israel, so that the Hezbollah truly can be said to have achieved its war aims and defeated Israel in the 2006 war.

Even so, one might be able to justify the exchange if Goldwasser and Regev were alive. However, according to Prime Minister Olmert, they are dead, maybe. At the outset of the 6-hour Cabinet debate over the exchange, Olmert announced:

"As far as we know, the two soldiers - Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev - are no longer alive. As far as we know, they were killed during the kidnapping or died from their wounds soon after the incident."

That statement takes one's breath away. Olmert is admitting that Israel still does not know whether the soldiers are dead or alive, or, if they are not alive, the circumstances of their deaths. Indeed, perhaps they were still alive yesterday, but Hezbollah, having received Israeli approval of a deal even if the soldiers are dead, will now kill them before returning their bodies.

The stupidity to such an approach to negotiations is mind-boggling. Surely, if Hezbollah wanted the release of Kuntar and the four Hezbollah prisoners, Israel at a minimum could have required a tender by Hezbollah of verifiable information regarding the condition of the captured Israelis. If Hezbollah said the prisioners were alive, Israel could have required a visit by the International Red Cross or another neutral party. If Hezbollah had said that the prisoners were dead, Israel could have required submission of a sample of their remains and a statement of the date and cause of death. Instead, it appears that Olmert was maneuvered into buying a black box, contents unseen and unknown.

Apart from the outrage one feels at the release of a terrorist who, when surrounded and about to be captured, shot down a hostage in front of the eyes of his four-year old daughter, and then used his rifle butt to smash in the skull of the little girl on a rock; one must consider the impact this exchange will have on the prospects for the safe recovery of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped in July 2006 by Palestinian terrorists in a raid from Gaza. Israel has indicated that it will release live terrorist prisoners for dead Israeli soldiers. If so, why should the Islamic Palestinian terrorists holding Shalit want to keep him alive? And what about future Israeli prisoners of war--will this exchange encourage their humane treatement, or even the preservation of their lives?

One thing is sure: Sumar Kuntar, already a "hero" among Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists and their supporters, will now gain even more stature. Moreover, he and the other prisoners released by Israel will soon return to their efforts to kill more Israelis. Truly, Ehud Olmert has added yet another shameful installment to an already infamous political legacy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama Needs to Be Careful on the Gun Issue (but I hope he is not)

Now that the Suprme Court has struck down the D.C. handgun law, Obama certainly ought to fire the staff members that put his campaign in the position of having to say this:
The Obama campaign distanced itself Thursday from a statement made last year to the Chicago Tribune that "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional." Spokesman Bill Burton said that the statement "was not worded as well as it could have been" and that Obama believes that generally the Constitution "doesn't prevent local and state governments from enacting their own gun laws."

My Obamaniac friends will probably try to pooh-pooh this issue, but fellas and gals, your candidate will keep shifting his positions at his peril.

Note to ardent Obama supporters who visit this blog: I have never owned a gun, nor am I a member of the NRA. I've never hunted in my life. I am not a "gun guy." So don't come after me. Instead, e-mail the Obama campaign and tell them Barack needs to stake out positions on the big issues and then live or die by those positions. As it stands, Obama has now changed position on almost every key issue in this election. That'll catch up to him sooner or later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Purely Personal: Our Australian Shepherd Puppy

There she is at right - Brookie, about 7 weeks old. It's not a bad photo for a cell phone camera, which is what my wife used to take it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

WSJ Online Today: Fouad Ajami on the Hype of Anti-Americanism Abroad; Failure of Western Diplomacy Brings Israel to Brink of War With Iran

The Wall Street Journal online brings us a rich vein to mine today. First is Fouad Ajami's column entitled "Anti-Americanism is Mostly Hype." Professor Ajami (photo above left) in my view is one of the most perceptive observers of Middle Eastern affairs.
Another column not to miss is the Review and Outlook piece, entitled "Israel on the Iran Brink," which discusses how the failure of Western diplomacy to rein in the Iranian nuclear program has brought Israel to the edge of military confrontation with Iran, with probable dire consequences for the entire Middle East.

MoveOn.Org's "Baby Alex" Ad: A gift or a liability?

The "Baby Alex" ad, shown below, is going to get a lot of attention (and probably has already - this morning I have been on an airplane and working, and unable to check the blogosphere).

First watch the ad. Then I have a few comments that may be just a bit contrarian.

Dennis Prager said this morning that this ad is a gift to Republicans. Maybe, maybe not; I am not so sure. The "Alex" ad is both dishonest and simple -- simply dishonest, I guess -- as Bill Kristol points out.

But in today's political climate, dishonest and simple are a potent combination, especially where the war is concerned. The "Baby Alex" ad's message is:
We do not want any more beloved sons to grow up and be killed or hurt in Iraq. John McCain doesn't care about that.
This is a classic "motherhood and apple pie" argument combined with a lie. Of course the ad is disgustingly dishonest in its utterly false and misleading reference to McCain's "100 years" statement. But how many viewers will see that? Only the well-informed who already lean toward McCain.

I think the ad is trouble for the GOP. The only effective response will be to loudly and repeatedly expose its dishonesty, which I am sure is happening on talk radio and on the blogosphere. But again, the folks who get their information from those sources are not the ones who need to be convinced. Still, it is possible to make the ad radioactive the way the "General Betray Us" ad was neutralized last fall.

If Senator Obama senses that the ad might become a liability (and I hope it does) my guess is he will triangulate, saying he does not agree with the ad but he can understand the feelings of those who do. (Shades of Bill Clinton!)

But we can always hope that someone from the MSM will ask Obama about the "Baby Alex" ad on the record and that Obama embraces it. The resulting news media attention should ensure that the ad's sliminess will be widely exposed. Then may be Dennis Prager will turn out to be right -- "Alex" will be a gift to the GOP.

Update from The Kosher Hedgehog, 6/26/2008--Response to Alex's Mom: Jeff Jacoby, the lonely conservative voice at The Boston Globe, has penned what would be an eloquent response from the mouth of Senator McCain. I believe Jacoby has not only accurately captured McCain's sentiments, but his voice as well. Read it here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What is "Vero Possumus?"

It's a rough Latin translation of Obama's campaign slogan, "yes, we can."

What Obama himself "can" do, however, apparently doesn't include 10 presidential townhall debates or campaign finance reform, which the Vero Possumus candidate has dumped, to the nation's detriment.

At least that's what David Broder says Obama did.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Demcrats' and Obama's Energy Solution: No Drilling, a Windfall Profits Tax and a little Fairy Dust

The Democrats, including their November standard bearer Barack Obama, want to lower energy prices. However, they won't drill in ANWAR, they wouldn't lift the ban on offshore drilling and they wouldn't support nuclear power. As Morton Kondracke pointed out on Hugh Hewitt this afternoon, they have tried to counter the public surge of opinion in favor of offshore drilling by an appeal that the oil companies are "sitting" on 68 million acres of "idle" leases. Mind you, these are leases for which the oil companies have spent billions of dollars on federal bids and annual rentals, and which by their terms terminate if they are not developed within a specific number of years. The obvious fact is that the oil companies are actively exploring for oil on these "idle" leases, but that there is no guaranty that they will find any commercially producible reserves. (See "The 'Idle' Oil Field Fallacy" in today's WSJ Opinion Journal online.) The Democrats, at the urging of environmentalists and NIMBYs, have created nearly insurmountable legal and permitting obstacles to the construction of new refineries, which is a major reason why none have been built in the U.S. since 1976.

And what do the Democrats prospose to solve the mess their policies have created? More than one Democratic congressperson, including Los Angeles' own gift the nation, Maxine Waters, was muttering openly this week about nationalization of the oil industry. Well, we all know how well that worked in the old Soviet bloc and in formerly Socialist Great Britain. Then there is the brilliant Democratic concept that a windfall profits tax on oil companies will result in lower oil prices, something that no one else in the world believes.

What does that leave for the energy policy in an Obama administration? Well, in "Peter Pan," when Peter wanted Wendy and her brothers to be able to fly to Neverland without any use of fossil fuels, he had Tinkerbell sprinkle fairy dust on them. Now that's the ticket! Listen, boys and girls, if you believe in fairies and Obama's energy policy, clap your hands!

"Obama Lied, Public Finance of Elections Died"

That was how Hugh Hewitt memorably put it this afternoon. No one here at the Hedgehog Blog would mourn the death of public financing of elections. Limitations on private political contributions are an anathema to the First Amendment, and John McCain has made no greater political blunder than his co-sponsorship of the McCain-Feingold Act.

However the issue is character, and Senator Obama has once again demonstrated that he has little of it. After making a pledge to the electorate to rely on public financing for his presidential campaign, Obama is now repudiating his word simply because it is expedient for him to do so.

Perhaps even more insulting is his patronizing excuse for the change of position. He claims that the current public finance system is "broken" anyway. He suggested that the Republicans would exploit loopholes in the system by pouring money into outside entities that would subject him to "smears and attacks." This is a reference to the so-called "527" groups, private political action groups that support specific campaigns.

However, what Obama of course failed to mention is that the richest and most active 527 groups are his supporters, including America Coming Together (organized by the Democratic Party's government union wing),, and the various George Soros supported committees. To opt out of public finance because the GOP may try to mount a pale imitation of the Democratic financial juggernaut is hypocrisy of the highest order.

Equally embarrassing, if Obama had a sense of shame, is his claim that his Internet private donation campaign is an"alternative form of public campaign finance." The Senator, backed by his MNBC trained poodle Keith Olbermann, insists that private donations from his supporters are the same as public financing. Look, as stated above, if public financing is drowning, I am not going to be the one to throw it a life preserver, but please, Senator Obama, try to preserve some dignity.

Lowell recently predicted to Obama supporters that Obama would now swing to the center, but that hardly explains his recurring vacillations. He called before AIPAC for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and then recanted 24 hours with a lame "clarification." After winning the Democratic nomination by campaigning against NAFTA, now he's trying to portray himself as a born-again free trader. He is desperately preparung the ground for a retrenchment on his promise to withdraw troops from Iraq. And, of course, he was for public campaign financing before he was against it. Yet Obama's supporters seem oblivious to the fact that the man's promises are only good for the duration of the current news cycle.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tom Freidman on what to do in Iraq

Right here. I think he has it right. Here's a teaser:
Iraq has become one of those subjects that so many people now come to with so much emotional scar tissue that it is very hard to have a sober discussion about the actual situation there today. So much is colored by how you feel about George Bush or whether you were for or against the war. As a result, what we do next in Iraq — how and why — is barely getting discussed in the presidential campaign.

Too bad, because this is going to be a really hard call — one that will require sorting through three conflicting political realities.
Indeed. Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mark Steyn on "Ocean's Election"

Even while sitting in the dock at his show trial before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, for the crime of offending Muslims in an excerpt of his book, America Alone (published in Canada in MacLeans magazine), Mark Steyn continues to entertain us. This time it's with his take on Obama's speech upon winning the Democratic presidential nomination. Steyn's piece is entitled "Ocean's Election." Our readers may recall Senator Obama's soaring rhetoric:

"I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people … . I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal … . This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation."
Steyn writes:

It's a good thing he's facing it with "profound humility," isn't it? Because otherwise who knows what he'd be saying. But mark it in your calendars: June 3, 2008 – the long-awaited day, after 232 years, that America began to provide care for the sick. Just a small test program: 47 attendees of the Obama speech were taken to hospital and treated for nausea. Everyone else came away thrilled that the Obamessiah was going to heal the planet and reverse the rise of the oceans: When Barack wants to walk on the water, he doesn't want to have to use a stepladder to get up on it.
Steyn proceeds to rain on the parade of Chris Matthews and other media personalities awestruck by Obama star power:

Nothing in Obama's resume suggests he's the man to remake America and heal the planet. Only last week, another of his pals bit the dust, convicted by a Chicago jury of 16 counts of this and that. "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew," said the senator, in what's becoming a standard formulation. Likewise, this wasn't the Jeremiah Wright he knew. And these are guys he's known for 20 years.
Nonetheless, Steyn points out, the Obama phenomenon is as serious as a heart attack:

Every time I hear an Obama speech, I start to giggle. But millions of voters don't. And, if Chris Matthews and the tingly-legged media get their way and drag Obama across the finish line this November, the laugh will be on those of us who think that serious times demand grown-up rhetoric.
Well said, Mark, but be careful. If Obama wins, we probably will be importing Canadian-style human rights tribunals south of the border. Then you can join John Woo in the dock right here in the good old USA! But just like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, you'll have habeas corpus! (That is unless President Obama, the Democratic Congress and the Supreme Court join up to remove recourse to habeas corpus from human rights violators like you! For offending Moslems, they should lock you up and throw away the key!)

A Must-Read On What An Obama Victory Would Mean

If you are getting complacent about the prospect of Obama becoming president, read Hugh Hewitt's latest. If it does not fire you up to help defeat Obama, it will prepare you for what is probably coming.

Hugh's conclusion:
On issue after issue we have enormous clarity on the differences between John McCain and Barack Obama, but nowhere are these stark differences more important than on how the two men would conduct the war against jihadism.
I can't really excerpt Hugh's post and do justice to it; read the whole thing - it's short.

Breaking News: Arabs Report Israel-Hamas Truce; Hamas Will Not Release Schalit

The Jerusalem Post and other media are reporting an announcement by Egypt, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority that a Gaza truce will begin Thursday at 6:00 a.m. The ceasefire agreement does not provide for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit (photo right), who was kidnapped by Hamas in a cross-border raid almost two years ago. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor Party) said that while the ceasefire announcement was premature, a truce would provide an "opportunity" for the "renewal of negotiations" to free Schalit. That statement as much as confirmed that Schalit's freedom was not part of the truce arrangement.

Even Vice Premier Haim Ramon (Kadima Party) described the ceasefire as a "victory for radical Islam." At a conference at Haifa University, Ramon remarked:

"I am against a truce, because it is another triumph for radical Islam. It won in Lebanon and now it is about to win in Gaza. So what is the point of being moderate? Why would Hamas be interested in a resolution?"

Ramon and two other Israeli cabinet ministers had obstained from a Cabinet vote last Wednesday to forego a large-scale military operation in Gaza in order to continue ceasefire negotiations.

Ramon is right. This is another victory for Hamas. Although the ceasefire may provide a temporary respite from incessant rocket and mortar barrages for the beleaguered citizens of Sderot and southern Israel, that assumes that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aksa Martyr's Brigade and other terrorists will actually observe the truce, which unlikely. What is more likely is that Israel will abstain from aerial attacks and military raids, thereby allowing Hamas to smuggle even more sophisticated weapons and rocketry into Gaza. Then, when it is ready to use those weapons against Israel, it will declare an end to the "hudna" and renew fighting. The result is that the eventual cost of defeating Hamas will be even higher.

In light of that forecast, the only justification for a ceasefire would have been the release of Gilad Schalit. Israel has now abandoned that justification, and has abandoned Gilad Schalit to his fate in the process.

John Yoo Dissects Boumediene v. Bush

In today's Wall Street Journal online, UC Berkeley Boalt Hall Professor John Yoo analyses the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, giving aliens captured in combat against the United States the right to use our courts to challenge his detention. Professor Yoo says that the Supreme Court ignored precedent, the structure of the federal government established in the Constitution, and the now discarded principle of judicial restraint. His forecast for the effect of the decision on U.S. soldiers in the field are ominous.

If Professor Yoo were less courageous, he would be more careful of challenging the political thought police of the Left. He already is practically in the dock himself to face charges of war crime. As also noted in today's Wall Street Journal, the Democratic Congress is currently issuing subpoenas to current and former Bush Administration officials, including John Yoo, to investigate allegations of torture in the interrogations of such innocent victims as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:

"Democrats are spinning darkly that Mr. Haynes, former Justice official John Yoo (who has an op-ed nearby), Vice Presidential aide David Addington and others could be legally liable for 'waterboarding' and other interrogation techniques.

"[House Judiciary Committee Chairman John] Conyers recently went so far as to showcase Philippe Sands, a British professor who suggested that U.S. officials are guilty of 'war crimes' and should be subject to international arrest. Mr. Conyers applauded Mr. Sands's assertions -- which amounts to a Member of Congress goading foreigners to arrest American officials if they dare to set foot on foreign soil."

In other words, the Democratic response to Professor Yoo's criticism of Bourmediene will be, "Aw, go tell it to the judge, at the International Court of Justice in Brussels."

"Bush Never Lied to Us About Iraq"

That's the audacious title of James Kirchick's piece in today's L.A. Times. Kirchick, an assistant editor of the New Republic, makes a compelling case simply by stating what all well-informed, intellectually honest people already know:
[I]n spite of all the accusations of White House "manipulation" -- that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction -- administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods.
Among many of those "administration critics" the belief that "Bush lied, people died" is undergirded by an almost religious certainty: It's simply true, and concrete evidence to the contrary may be ignored. It's as if these people were wearing blinders.

Kirchick continues:
[W]ar critics, old and newfangled, still don't get that a lie is an act of deliberate, not unwitting, deception. If Democrats wish to contend they were "misled" into war, they should vent their spleen at the CIA.

In 2003, top Senate Democrats -- not just Rockefeller but also Carl Levin, Clinton, Kerry and others -- sounded just as alarmist. Conveniently, this month's report, titled "Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information," includes only statements by the executive branch. Had it scrutinized public statements of Democrats on the Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees -- who have access to the same intelligence information as the president and his chief advisors -- many senators would be unable to distinguish their own words from what they today characterize as warmongering.
So true. Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Habeus Corpus, Taliban Style

From today's Wall Street Journal online:

The Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that the writ of habeas corpus should apply to non-American terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The Taliban delivered its own commentary on the ruling the very next day, when it busted into a prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar and freed 1,150 prisoners, of whom 400 are Taliban members and the other 750 easy potential conscripts. Call it habeas corpus, Taliban-style.

The connection between these events is not merely their timing. The point of keeping enemy combatants at a remote location like Guantanamo is that it offers some assurance that they will not return to the battlefield to kill more Americans – something many have done when given the chance. Yet last week's Boumediene decision makes it all but certain that Gitmo will soon be shutting (or should we say opening) its doors.

The editorial proceeds to note that the natural effect of Boumediene will be that far more detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and other battlefields in the war on terrorism will be transferred to local prison authorities, in order to avoid the claims of due process rights to which the prisoners will argue they are entitled to habeus corpus while in U.S. military custody. That trend is unlikely to increase human rights protection of the detainees. "Fantasies about 'torture' at Guantanamo notwithstanding, we have yet to meet the person who thinks the rights of the detainees are better assured in their native lands, whether that's Afghanistan, Egypt, China or even France (recently listed by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the five worst places in the world to be a terrorist)."

Update June 16, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.: I want to thank Repack Rider for taking the time to comment on this post. Because I feel that my response should be read by all our readers, I am posting it in the main entry, rather than as a new comment.

Repack Rider's basic argument is that habeas corpus is not an American right, but rather a human right. While that statement would make an effective sound bite, it simply not true, and never has been true. Habeas corpus was a creation of the British common law, and was incorporated into the judicial systems of Britain's former colonies, such as the U.S. A few other nations, such as Spain, Portugal, Poland and the Phillipines, have adopted some form of habeas corpus as well. However, there are many countries that I believe Repack Rider would concur are relatively free societies--Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands to name just a few--that do not offer a habeas corpus remedy. Habeas corpus is not mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does say is " No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." [Article 9] But habeas corpus is not essential to guaranteeing freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. What is essential is what is advocated in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."

The George W. Bush Administration may be legitimately criticized for its initial policy of indefinitely imprisoning detainees without an opportunity for a fair and impartial hearing. However, in response to earlier U.S. Supreme Court decisions, that problem was fixed by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which created military tribunals to hear the cases of alleged unlawful enemy combatants. Obviously, if that system is to function properly, those military tribunals would have to be independent and impartial. But that was not the issue in Boumediene. The question in this case is whether alleged unlawful enemy combatants have a right to appear before a civilian, Article III federal court.

Just by way of example, members of the U.S. military who are accused of criminal acts in the course of their military service have no such right--they are tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, created by Congress to be applicable to all military members worldwide. What the U.S. Supreme Court has now said it that Congress may not create such a system of justice for persons captured by our armed forces overseas. [Interestingly, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in Section 802(a)(9), states that the persons subject to its provisions include "prisoners of war in custody of the armed forces." I do not know whether the Boumediene decision discusses that fact.]

In summary, until this decision, neither international law, nor American law, recognized a universally applicable right to habeas corpus.

Repack Rider also states, "It is the duty of every citizen to defend it, because any erosion of our rights hurts us all."

But one cannot erode a right that never previously existed. 400,000 German prisoners of war were kept in the United States during the course of World War II. At the time of their capture, their detention was indefinite, because no one knew how long it would take to defeat Germany, if ever. No one, at least until now, entertained the thought that they had the right to file petitions for habeas corpus hearings.

Imagine if even half of those prisoners, urged by their officers and leaders to do their duty to resist their captors and disrupt their society, had filed petitions of habeas corpus, challenging their right to be detained as prisoners of war. Imagine the chaos and disruption to the war effort that would have resulted, the diversion of manpower to address the hearings, and possibly the summoning home of the GI's who had captured the POWs in order to provide evidence for their continuing imprisonment. Imagine the potential danger if some a court had determined that some of the POWs were entitled to immediate release, because the government had failed to meet its burden of proof (such as, for example, a case where the GI who had captured a German prisoner was now dead or missing in action).

I assume that Repack Rider would admit that Thomas Jefferson was an individual who had an enlightened concern for human rights and liberty. In justifying his signature as President of the treaty for the Louisiana Purchase, when he previously had questioned the power of the federal government under the U.S. Constitution to acquire foreign territory, Jefferson wrote the following:

"[S]trict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means."

If that principle applied to the Louisiana purchase, an action that, if not taken, hardly would have put the United States into mortal danger, how much more should it apply in the case of our ability to detain enemy combatants, when the legal issue is the sufficiency of a fair and impartial trial before a military tribunal, as opposed to a habeas corpus hearing before a civilian Article III federal court.

Guest Post: Steve Finefrock's "Swift-boat THIS: Short Pants’ Short Memory"

FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in Hollywood

Swift-boat THIS: Short Pants’ Short Memory

Steve Finefrock
Hollywood Conservative Forum

Michael Kinsley is wearing his intellectual short pants again, in his essay on Swiftboating. Wishing upon wishes for a ‘clean’ campaign of purity, he asserts, “Swift-boat is shorthand for the brilliant, despicable Republican campaign strategy in 2004 that turned John Kerry's honorable service in Vietnam into a negative factor in his campaign. The phrase has become more broadly the term for a particular category of campaign tactics and has even become a verb. To ‘swift-boat’ somebody is to use these tactics against him or her.”

Kinsley is not stupid, nor ignorant, but plainly very conveniently ‘forgetful’ of much history in his lifetime, never mind that of the DNC and its minions earlier in the century, before Kinsley’s mind was even a glimmer in his parents' youthful eyes. Swiftboating began in January of 1929, nine gestative months before the Black Tuesday stockmarket crash foreshadowed the Great Depression, and the swiftboating by historians and journalists of Herbert Clark Hoover.

Kinsley’s claims, and definitions, go further: “Swift-boating's essence is a particular kind of dishonesty, or rather a particular combination of shadowy dishonesties. It usually involves a complex web of facts, many of which may even be true. It exploits its own complexity and the reluctance of the media to adjudicate factual disputes. No matter how thoroughly a charge may be discredited, enough taint remains to support an argument. The fundamental dishonesty is the suggestion that the issue, whatever it is, really matters. This is how swift-boating differs from its cousin McCarthyism, which deals in totally baseless charges that would be deeply serious if true. Swift-boating is McCarthyism lite. There is usually a little something to the accusation but not enough to make it legitimately matter.”

In Kinsley’s lifetime, the swiftboating of Barry Goldwater lingers, with the anniversary of the famed DNC “Daisy ad” coming up number 44 this September. Senatorial candidate Al Franken sheepishly admitted in a documentary on “Mr. Conservative” that indeed, yes, that ad was ‘unfair’ and bows his head, his voice trailing off a wee bit, as he makes this very belated admission.

The Daisy Ad was but one of many swiftboats launched against Goldwater, as was done against Eisenhower by JFK’s 1960 campaign, intent on branding Ike and thus his VP Nixon, as weak on defense! Yes, indeed, Ike sputtered in a flustered voice during a press-conference, unbelieving that anyone would label him as even remotely weak on defense. But, the charge stuck, as the so-called ‘missile gap’ and bomber gap’ entered the lexicon, even as JFK was given highly secret CIA and DOD data the proved were miles ahead of the Soviets in both categories.

Thus, JFK ‘got to the right of Nixon’ on defense issues, the one weak arena for the DNC, not so many years after being timid on commies during Truman’s heyday. Ike had gone easy on the Dems’ laggardly concerns, even as he knew many things to verify Nixon and McCarthy’s assertions, but no favor was returned. Truman had laid the groundwork for that, with Hoover’s memory invoked to the red-meat eating crowds, in the 1948 campaign.

Hoover was brought back into public service by Truman, who acknowledged to many that “Hoover didn’t cause the Depression” but it merely fell on him like everyone else. Quite a startling admission, one which got my attention on the PBS broadcast of the one-man show, “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry” starring James Whitmore. It was the first ‘revelation’ from an otherwise fully cooperative intelligentsia, that maybe Hoover wasn’t the dastardly fellah I’d always been taught him to be.

After the ‘rehabilitation’ of Hoover [in reorganizing the government, saving millions to the taxpayers, as he’d done before entering the Oval], Truman then waved the bloody shirt again to win in the challenging race of ’48, shocking Bert, who queried how his ‘new friend’ could bandy Hoover’s name in such vicious ways. Oh, it’s just politics, assured Truman to the startled ex-president: his re-entry to honorable service to his country could not interfere with political cynicism by the titular head of the DNC.

Even in my political youth, that old bloody shirt was continually waved proudly, by my mother and her allies, in Democrat Women, and Young Democrats, and others throughout all corners of my political incubator. It was simply ‘decided truth’ to not be questioned – akin to today’s assertions on global warming. Hoover was a bad man, evil and uncaring and cold and indifferent to the sufferings of millions in desperate straits.

Then, another PBS show on “The Presidents” had a narrative fragment on how great a man Hoover had been before the crisis sunk him, and was what led to my little adventure into the library stacks, which revealed that, Yes indeed he was a giant among giants in an age of giant achievements.

But ya wouldn’t know it to read history, listen to reporters, view documentaries, absorb ‘lessons’ by PBS history perfessors or in any way find out what the truth is about any period surveyed and described by leftwing keepers of the flame of truth. The purveyors of what we ‘know’ and thus understand had rigged the game. As Kinsley frames the ethical realm, the left then and since and forever more, Hoover was subjected to “a particular combination of shadowy dishonesties. It usually involves a complex web of facts, many of which may even be true. It exploits its own complexity and the reluctance of the media to adjudicate factual disputes” as well as historians of leftward leanings.

While FDR was our first really effective social-engineer president [though Wilson took a pretty energetic stab, having access to the new Sixteenth Amendment – the Income Tax!], Hoover was touted and adored for being the Great Engineer, who saved at least a half-billion souls in Europe from starvation. This thru private sector relief initiatives, saving Belgians, then Germans, then Finns, then Russians, long before FDR decided that engineering should be applied to politics, using the public treasury to invoke compassionate aid. Hoover was so gigantic in worldwide reputation that his special passport gave his relief team full, unchallenged access to cross any border for food delivery to starving millions, even during WW-One! It was unique, and dubbed by the media as a “Hoover Passport” – nothing like it ever existed before, or since.

Ya didn’t know that, did ya? Or that he was elected with a slightly larger percentage of the votes cast than was FDR four years later? Or that Bert was an orphan who epitomized the American Ideal: self-made millionaire, who did more good with his own money than FDR, or Kennedy, or any liberal in office could ever dream of achieving. Without government as their bank-account of course. Swift-boating, my dear short-pantsed Kinsley, is an old art practiced in the history books and documentaries and journalistic jeremiads for the lifetime of our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents.

The swift-boat that stabbed Hoover in the back was so enormous that a best-seller of that era was entitled “Why Are There So Many Lies About Mr. Hoover” – which filled a book in hardcover, bought by many even as the Great Depression got less than great in its effect. Until the Bonus Marchers were unceremoniously driven out of the capitol in August of 1932, most observers thought the lifetime of goodwill held by the public toward Hoover might squeak him into re-election.

“This will make me president” proclaimed a smiling FDR, on seeing the news reports of the WW-One vets being beaten by General Douglas McArthur’s troops. This was in direct contravention of Hoover’s orders, but Bert took the hit for McArthur’s public reputation, and never revealed that he had not ordered such a transgression of public honor. That particular ‘swift-boat’ was of history’s making, not DNC scheming. But there was much besides the vets’ eviction.

It did him in. That million dollars had been spent by DNC’s attack-dog, Charlie Michelson, even though the Depression was depressing enough on Hoover’s prospects. No such attack-fund has ever been deposited against a democrat candidate for office, or one just elected. Not even the “Clinton Haters” in 1993 had such a fund, of a million or fifty million dollars. But, consider George Soros: there’s someone who’s still financing swift boat construction as eagerly as did Charles Michelson.

As the short-pants nominee of the DNC takes his stride against the long-pants GOP oldster, the swift-boat drydocks will be working triple shifts. The history perfessors, who write the second-draft of history, working alongside their journalistic brethren and sistren who brag about writing the “first rough-draft of history” will see that one set of boats will be branded swift and clean, and the other branded nasty and dastardly. Ya thought the media and perfessors loved FDR and JFK?

Ya ain’t seen nuttin’ yet – these swift-boat craft being launched from the drydocks of the DNC will make Charlie Michelson smile in his grave, or from the bottom of Bert’s chamberpot. Hoover had an elegant, decorative chamberpot on his NYC fireplace mantle, with a likeness of Michelson engraved inside on its bottom. Bert had a sense of humor, in private if not before the newsreel cameras.

Fitting symbol of the boat yard foreman for the first swift-boat launching by the DNC. When a million dollars would do a lot of sinking of a man’s massive, worldwide reputation – one which led the grateful Finns to coin a new word in their official vocabulary: Hooveri, meaning to do good works. Its counterpart from the same era might be Micheleri: to swiftboat a good and decent man, with the following decades’ enthusiastic cooperation by the history, political science and journalistic keepers of the flame of Truth and Justice. Using Kinsley’s words, let me define it as: “shorthand for the brilliant, despicable [Republican] Democratic campaign strategy in [2004] 1929-32 that turned [John Kerry's] Herbert Hoover’s honorable service in [Vietnam] saving over a half-billion humans from starvation into a negative factor in his campaign.”

They did it to Hoover, some of it hammered to Ike [to weaken Nixon], fer shure to Goldwater [the 44th anniversary of that swift-boat is this September 7th], and of course Nixon, and tried it against Reagan [mostly without result, but not for lack of effort]. My historical term, as used in a TV series still gestating, is “Hooverize” a conservative as they did Bert in ‘32 – from Hooveri to Hooverize, we see the swiftboat drydocks filling to capacity.

Which boats will be painted which color by the painters in the media and professorate? Will the red-boats be scrutinized, and the blue-boats be given a pass? The short-pants set will get a pass, as FDR and the DNC and Michelson got a pass from these gatekeepers of public awareness of what happened and what matters and what we should think about. The man in the longpants – the very adult Captain John McCain of the U.S. Navy fighter fame – will be journalistically tortured like he’s never known since leaving Hanoi Hilton hospitality.

And the black man with blue-state sensibilities, and no serious responsibility in his life’s short term, who wears the shortpants of naivete and insane mentality will be scrutinized even less now that Tim Russert is gone from the press ranks. Russert wasn’t all that ‘fair’ but he was the best to hope for in this race for the Rose Garden.

Gentlemen, start your drydocks – the press awaits with its judgment(s). Would ya care to make book on what will be the labels applied this time around the political racetrack, deep inside Charlie Michelson’s chamberpot?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008: Hallelujah - A Sestina

Power Line posted this several years back. It's a poem by the American poet Robert Francis in a form called a sestina. I loved it so much that I think of it every Father's Day:

Hallelujah: A Sestina

A wind's word, the Hebrew Hallelujah.
I wonder they never give it to a boy
(Hal for short) boy with wind-wild hair.
It means Praise God, as well it shoud since praise
Is what God's for. Why didn't they call my father
Hallelujah instead of Ebenezer?

Eben, of course, but christened Ebenezer,
Product of Nova Scotia (hallelujah).
Daniel, a country doctor, was his father
And my father his tenth and final boy.
A baby and last, he had a baby's praise:
Red petticoat, red cheeks, and crow-black hair.

A boy has little to say about his hair
And little about a name like Ebenezer
Except that he can shorten either. Praise
God for that, for that shout Hallelujah.
Shout Hallelujah for everything a boy
Can be that is not his father or grandfather.

But then, before you know it, he is a father
Too and passing on his brand of hair
To one more perfectly defenseless boy,
Dubbing him John or James or Ebenezer
But never, so far as I know, Hallelujah,
As if God didn't need quite that much praise.

But what I'm coming to--Could I ever praise
My father half enough for being a father
Who let me be myself? Sing Hallelujah.
Preacher he was with a prophet's head of hair
And what but a prophet's name was Ebenezer,
However little I guessed it as a boy?

Outlandish names of course are never a boy's
Choice. And it takes time to learn to praise.
Stone of help is the meaning of Ebenezer.
Stone of Help--what fitter name for my father?
Always the Stone of Help however his hair
Might graduate from black to Hallelujah.

Such is the drama of boy and father.
Praise from a grayhead now with thinning hair.
Sing Ebenezer, Robert, sing Hallelujah!
Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Quotes of the Week: George W. Bush

Denis Boyles in National Review Online:
Bush seems to have never understood that the biggest war he had to fight was a war of words, and that he’s a unilaterally disarmed kind of guy.
And here's an encore quote from Boyles:
Regrets? We’ve had a few. And mentioning those we have had about Bush will continue to employ many people for many years. His intentions may often have been honorable, and at least he wasn’t Gore or Kerry, but W. certainly left a smudge on most things he touched: education, the budget, the military, trade policies (they still remember those steel tariffs [in Europe]), the American conservative movement, and its promise of smaller government.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nuclear Power Generation: Why Aren't We Pursuing It?

I've long been fascinated with nuclear power and why we cannot seem to do much more with it in the USA than we have. I read once, years ago, about how European nuclear power plants use a different technology (with smaller, safer plants) than the standard adopted decades ago here. (That article appeared in the 80's in that right-wing rag, The New Republic.)

Very few here on this board would consider France anything but a very advanced country. France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, part of long-standing national policy based on energy security. Other factoids:

  • France is the world's largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this.
  • France has been very active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are a major export.
Anyway, I saw this by William Tucker in a recent Weekly Standard:
The nucleus of the atom is the greatest storehouse of energy in the universe. The amount of energy released in the Hiroshima bomb was equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT. Yet the amount of matter transformed into energy at Hiroshima was about 3 grams. If we are ever going to access enough energy to run our industrial economy without overwhelming the environment in the process, we are going to have to find it in the nucleus of the atom.

The energy holding together the nucleus of an atom is called "binding energy." When an atom splits in two--which happens occasionally in nature and can be induced in a nuclear reactor--some binding energy is liberated. This energy release is two million times greater than any "chemical" releases that come in, say, an internal combustion engine or a coal-fired electrical generating plant. This 2-million differential explains why a 1,000-megawatt coal plant must be fed by a 110-car train loaded with 16,000 tons of coal arriving every day. Meanwhile a nuclear reactor of the same size is fed by a single flatbed truck that arrives with a new set of fuel rods once every 18 months. The energy stored in the nucleus of the atom is almost incomprehensibly larger than the energy stored in fossil fuels or the kinetic activity of wind, wave, or water.

Atomic energy occurs naturally in the earth with the breakdown of uranium and thorium atoms. It is enough to heat the core of the planet to 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit and is the only form of energy that does not come from the sun. We could call it "terrestrial energy," to differentiate it from solar energy.

Terrestrial energy is the answer to all the unpleasant questions raised by solar energy, which is why the nuclear industry in this country is poised for a comeback. Safety elements have been vastly improved, revamped plants are making enormous amounts of money, and the nuclear industry is chafing to start new construction. Although nuclear power cannot directly replace oil, it could become the basis of an expanded electrical grid that would support vehicles running on either electricity or hydrogen. It could end our energy odyssey. In light of last week's food riots and soaring world prices, it can't happen soon enough.
I do think we need to pay serious attention to alternatives like this. The Democrats' only solution for the fossil fuel problem seems to be conservation. That doesn't make sense to me.

Boumediene v. Bush: U.S. Supreme Court Declares that Enemy POWs have Due Process Rights--What Would Have Happened to Sergeant York?

On October 8, 1918, Corporal Alvin York of the U.S. Army single-handedly faced off against a German machine gun unit that had pinned down his 328th Infantry Regiment, mowing down American soldiers, including 9 of the 17 men in York's Company. Armed only with his rifle, and under constant fire from the German unit, the Tennessee sharpshooter inflicted mounting casualties on the German unit until it surrendered. He had personally captured 132 German soldiers, a feat for which he won the Medal of Honor, the French Legion of Honor, and the French Croix de Guerre, among other decorations, in addition to a promotion, which is why he is known to history as Sergeant York.

However, all that occurred before today's decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, holding that prisoners of war held in Guantanomo Bay Prison have due process rights. If that decision had occurred prior to October 8, 1918, things might have turned out differently for Sergeant York....

York: Corporal York, reporting as ordered, sir.

JAG Colonel: At ease, Corporal. Do you know why you were called into headquarters?

York: Is it about awarding me a medal, sir?

JAG Colonel: The medal ceremony is on hold for the time being, York. Those German prisoners you captured hired civilian attorneys, and they're raising some questions about the whole incident.

York: What kind of questions, sir?

JAG Colonel: Well, York, for example, when you captured those men, did you give them a Miranda warning?

York: A what?

JAG Colonel: You know, a Miranda warning, telling them that they had a right to remain silent, that anything they say could be used against them, that they had a right to legal counsel, and so on.

York: No sir, I just told them to lay down their weapons and put their hands on their heads.

JAG Colonel: I was afraid of that. Tell me, York, did you mention that they had a right to a habeus corpus proceeding, to determine whether they were enemy combatants?

York: Sir, I don't even know what a habeus corpus proceeding is. All I knew is that they were shooting down the men in my company, and I had to stop them.

JAG Colonel: Corporal, that sort of impulsive reaction is exactly the kind of conduct that gives our police, I mean, our soldiers a bad name. I am afraid that those prisoners are going to walk. York, for the time being, you are confined to barracks. I am sorry to tell you that you probably are going to face court martial for violating the due process rights of those German prisoners.

York: Excuse me, sir, but am I in big trouble?

JAG Colonel: I wouldn't sugar-coat it for you, Corporal York. You're probably going to Fort Leavenworth. But don't worry, at least you have habeus corpus.

Breaking News From Israel: Olmert Government to Fall (Finally)

One Jersualem , citing YNet, is reporting that the Sefardic Torah Guardians Party (SHAS)has agreed to join with the Labor Party and vote to dissolve the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on June 25. Olmert's Kadima Party governs through a coalition that relies on Labor and SHAS for its majority in the Knesset.

The vote to dissolve the government normally would mean that Olmert will continue as the Prime Minister of a caretaker government until new parliamentary elections are held. However, the strain of ongoing corruption investigations may persuade Kadima to compel Olmert to resign in advance of the elections.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Latest Fast Food Innovation

It was only a matter of time before they came up with this:

New Wearable Feedbags Let Americans Eat More, Move Less

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dear Obamaniac Friends: Get Ready for Your Candidate's Pivot to the Center

Every candidate does it: Plays to the base in the primaries, then moves to the center. (I guess McCain didn't really do it - he ticked off the base, but the base was divided, so he won anyway.)

But I think both McCain and Obama will not start moving to the middle so that can grab the more independent voters who decide elections. The Washington Post is giving Obama a cue:

The gap in Mr. Obama's Middle East policy remains Iraq. Mr. Obama has used his opposition to the war to distinguish himself politically from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and now from Mr. McCain. Yet, in doing so, he has become unreasonably wedded to a year-old proposal to rapidly withdraw all U.S. combat forces from the country -- a plan offered when he wrongly believed that the situation would only worsen as long as American troops remained. Remarkably, only a sentence or two about Iraq appeared in Mr. Obama's AIPAC speech, and advisers say he may visit the country in coming months. That would offer him the opportunity to outline a strategy based on sustaining the dramatic reduction in violence recorded this year. No, the left wouldn't like it, but it would be in keeping with Mr. Obama's pragmatic approach to the rest of the region.
As for McCain, here's his first campaign ad:

Looks pretty centrist to me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

D-Day: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc

On the 64th anniversary od D-Day there is much to think about and be grateful for. Douglas Brinkley's book, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc, tells the story of one such deserving object of our gratitude. You can buy it here.

It's fascinating and debunks a few myths, like the one that says those Rangers did not achieve their objective of destroying the German guns. They did.

The text of Ronald Reagan's famous speech on the same subject is here. It's a worthy Memorial Day read.

Quotes of The Day

Quote of the Day I

"We in the press love Obama, we're quivering with our love for since we announced he was the nominee.... It's not conventional love, it's the kind of love you have to be a ninth-grade boy to understand.... There was literally a host who I like and I know, but I'm not going to single him out by name -- not on MSNBC -- who began an interview with Obama at the very height of the Rev. Wright business by saying, 'I'll have you know -- this show is above that story. We're not going to ask you a single question about the Rev. Wright'" -- MSNBC political analyst Tucker Carlson.

Quote of the Day II

"We pledged to support her to the end. Our problem is not being able to determine when the hell the end is" -- Congressman Charles B. Rangel, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, urging party unity for the Democratic Presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

--Stolen from Opinion Journal's Political Diary today (a subscription service).

Obama's Inexperience, Naivete Show at AIPAC Conference

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama displayed the consequences of his foreign policy inexperience and naivete this week, as he furiously backpedled today from statements made earlier in the week at the American Israel Political Action Committee annual meeting in Washington D.C.

On Wednesday, Barack Obama committed that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided" in his speech before the AIPAC policy conference.

On Thursday, Barack Obama backtracked on this position and reversed it. Following criticism from Palestinian and Hamas officials, Barack Obama on Thursday announced in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley that "obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be a part of these negotiations."

According to a "clarification" Thursday by a campaign advisor, as reported in the Jerusalem Post:
Obama believes "Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties" as part of "an agreement that they both can live with."

"Two principles should apply to any outcome," which the adviser gave as: "Jerusalem remains Israel's capital and it's not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967."

He refused, however, to rule out other configurations, such as the city also serving as the capital of a Palestinian state or Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods.

Some attendees at the AIPAC conference expressed disapointment over this "clarification." The Jerusalem Post story relates:

"The Orthodox Union is extremely disappointed in this revision of Senator Obama's important statement about Jerusalem," said Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. He had sent out a release Wednesday applauding Obama's Jerusalem remarks in front of AIPAC.

"In the current context, everyone understands that saying 'Jerusalem... must remain undivided' means that the holy city must remain unified under Israeli rule, as it has been since 1967," Diament explained.

"If Senator Obama intended his remarks at AIPAC to be understood in this way, he said nothing that would reasonably lead to such a different interpretation."

Morton Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, who also had initially lauded Obama's speech on Wednesday, similarly express disappointment.

Matt Brooks, President of the Republican Jewish Coalition, remarked, "Barack Obama's attempt to use buzzwords to impress pro-Israel leaders has already backfired. Barack Obama's reversal on Jerusalem, 24 hours after his AIPAC speech, demonstrates why the Jewish community has doubts and fears about an Obama presidency. Barack Obama's retreat demonstrates that Senator Obama lacks the resolve and leadership necessary to protect America and Israel from the serious threats we face. Worst of all, the impression that Barack Obama changed this position because of pressure by Hamas officials sends all the wrong messages that a President Obama will back off pro-Israel positions when Hamas protests. Yet again, Barack Obama demonstrates why the Jewish community does not trust Barack Obama to keep America and Israel safe and secure."

Let's be frank: Senator Obama, deeply concerned about the potential for a major shift in Jewish votes in favor of GOP Nominee John McCain, made a pandering, patronizing speech to AIPAC that included all of the buzz words and key phrases that his speechwriters told him would win over a Jewish audience. When the Palestinian Authority and Hamas predictably screamed in protest, joined by Obama's left-wing, anti-Israel support base, he responded with a vigorous moonwalk, moving quickly backward while trying his best to appear to still be walking in the original direction.

At least we now know the shelf life of a Barack Obama commitment to an important ally: about 24 hours.

In contrast, the American Jewish community knows that it can rely on consistency from Senator John McCain, because his support of Israel is solidly based on what should be the primary foreign policy concern of every American Presidential candidate--the security and strength of the United States of America.

Lowell adds: There's a slightly different view on James Taranto's Best of The Web Today. I find Ralph's view more persuasive.

Rockets, Shells Rain Down on Southern Israel as Large Gaza IDF Raid Looms

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza continued to launch barrages of Kassam rockets and mortar shells at Southern Israel, even as the Israeli government hinted that it would soon launch a large-scale Israel Defense Forces action in Gaza. A barrage of 9mortar shells, launched at kibbutzim in the Western Negev, near the beleaguered town of Sderot, struck moments after the funeral of Amnon Rosenberg at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Rosenberg had been killed by a mortar attack on Thursday. Four Kassam rockets struck near Sderot's Sapir College, in the town itself and in the surrounding area. The hit near the college destroyed 6 cars, but no one was injured.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Barack Obama: Who Is He?

George McGovern, without the war record.

Jimmy Carter, only less sincere.

Mike Dukakis without the gubernatorial experience.

John Kerry without the senatorial experience.

In other words, a very liberal lightweight.

That's the Democrat standard-bearer. A liberal's liberal. Every single position he takes is raw red meat for So I can understand why liberal Democrats are happy.

John McCain, OTOH, is no lightweight. Instead, he is a temperamental man who makes decisions with his gut, not his brain. He is not well-suited to the presidency. He is no conservative, so the left will have a tough time hanging a right-wing label on him. They probably won't mind the judges he will appoint to the Supreme Court. After all, this is a guy who was nominated by 35% of the Republican party - the moderate to liberal wing.

I do think McCain will carve Obama up in the presidential debates.

All in all, the two men offer us a rotten choice. This is the first presidential election in my lifetime in which I do not have a dog in the fight, which is kind of liberating. So it will be interesting to watch all the wild invective flying from my liberal friends as they watch their very inadequate candidate struggle.

Scott Johnson at Power Line has more.

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Petco Park, San Diego: A Beautiful Place for a Ballgame

Mrs. Kosher Hedgehog and I slipped off to Coronado for a three-day, two-night R&R, and on Monday evening enjoyed seeing the hot Chicago Cubs (sounds like a contradiction in terms, no?), the winningest team in baseball, take on the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. My wife routed for the Cubs, and that was not problematic, as the Cub fans in the stands probably outnumbered the Padres fans in a sparse (by Dodger Stadium standards) crowd of about 31,000.

This was my first visit to Petco Park, and despite the name of its primary corporate sponsor, it is not a doghouse. To the contrary, it is a singularly pleasant place to see a ballgame. Like the ballparks in Phoenix and Baltimore, Petco Park is situated smack dab in the middle of downtown, adjacent to the San Diego gaslamp district, and a short walk from the Convention Center, the Bay and the major downtown office buildings. A redcar trolley stop serves the park (and the freight lines run by the park as well, so that the fans are occasionally treated to the whistle of a passing train accompanied by the clanging of the RR crossing signals.) There is direct access into the ballpark from the Omni Hotel and, it appeared to me, from at least one office building as well. As is the case with Wrigley Field, windows in other nearby office buildings and hotel rooftops over free views of the ballgame.

Adding to the "Wrigley Feel," and the deliberate "retro" design concept of Petco Park, the party suites overlooking left field have the facade of an old building, "The Western Metal Supply Company," a hundred-year old brick structure that had been scheduled for demolition to make way for PETCO Park, but was saved and incorporated into the design of the ballpark. Each suite accommodates about 20 people, and your party guests can watch the game from their seats on the "balcony" or go inside to watch on the close circuit television over the bar. the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Another unique aspect of the Petco Park is the "Park at the Park", a grassy berm sloping above the outfield fence, which is open during game time, allowing fans to sit and watch games for a small price of $5. When no games are being played, the Park at the Park serves as a free local park for area residents. During our game it appeared to me that hundreds of families were sitting on blankets on the grass, enjoying picnic dinners and watching the game either over the right field fence or on the close circuit screen on the back of the scoreboard, facing the green expanse. The Park at the Park is also graced by a statue of one of my all-time favorite players, Tony Gwynn.

Mrs. Kosher Hedgehog and I purchased two upper infield reserve seats, directly behind home plate, for $19.00 ($13.00 for a senior 60 or older). Even from this highest level of the very intimate feeling park, we felt we were very much into the game, and close to the field.

The outfield has a wonderfully irregular shape, again part of the retro design of the park. For example, while the fence is 396 feet to straigtaway center field, it is 402 to left center and right center. Down the left field line, the field measures 334 feet from home plate, while it is 322 feet down the right field line. Apparently the designers threw away their tape measures as well as their surveying equipment when they laid out the playing field.

Either those irregular dimensions, or slow outfielders, may explain why we witnessed so many extra-base hits in a single game: 5 doubles and two triples! Hit balls kept finding the gaps between the fielders and rolling on as if it were a weekend softball game.

The Cubbies triumphed in a 7-6 pitchers' duel. The winning pitcher, Carlos Zambrano, pitched far better than the score might indicate. Relievers allowed half of the Padre runs. Zambrano himself played like a Babe Ruth throwback. He went 3 for 3 at the plate, including a RBI triple. He is batting .350, frequently pinchhits, and is the best-hitting pitcher I have ever seen.

There is an awful lot to do on a summer evening in San Diego, but if the Padres are in town, and playing a night game, consider an evening within the intimate confines of Petco Park.

The Military Solution to Terrorism

Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, shoots down the shibboleth that "there is no military solution to terrorism." To the contrary, as he demonstrates is happening right now in Sadr City, Sri Lanka and Columbia, "it turns out that the best way to end an insurgency is, quite simply, to beat it."