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July 31, 2010

The Moral Failure of the Environmentalists

Turns out the oil spill in the Gulf may not have the dire consequences we thought it might have. This from the liberal-left Time magazine, no less:

The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?
By Michael Grunwald / Port Fourchon, La
Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010

The Deepwater Horizon explosion was an awful tragedy for the 11 workers who died on the rig, and it's no leak; it's the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. It's also inflicting serious economic and psychological damage on coastal communities that depend on tourism, fishing and drilling. But so far -- while it's important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago -- it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage. "The impacts have been much, much less than everyone feared," says geochemist Jacqueline Michel, a federal contractor who is coordinating shoreline assessments in Louisiana. (See pictures of the Gulf oil spill.)

Yes, the spill killed birds -- but so far, less than 1% of the number killed by the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska 21 years ago. Yes, we've heard horror stories about oiled dolphins -- but so far, wildlife-response teams have collected only three visibly oiled carcasses of mammals. Yes, the spill prompted harsh restrictions on fishing and shrimping, but so far, the region's fish and shrimp have tested clean, and the restrictions are gradually being lifted. And yes, scientists have warned that the oil could accelerate the destruction of Louisiana's disintegrating coastal marshes -- a real slow-motion ecological calamity -- but so far, assessment teams have found only about 350 acres of oiled marshes, when Louisiana was already losing about 15,000 acres of wetlands every year.

The point is not that we can be careless with off-shore drilling, or that perhaps more regulation and/or oversight isn't needed. Nope, that's not where I'm going with this at all.

After all, the article makes clear that the reason why this isn't an eco-tragedy was due to reasons that won't be replicated elsewhere; the type of oil was a lot lighter than what came out of the Exxon Valdez, it's hot in the Gulf of Mexico so oil evaporates faster and there's more bacteria to eat it, and finally, a constant influx of water from the Mississippi River washes it away.

But still, there are two lessons here.

Keep Drilling

The BP spill is no reason to stop drilling. It is simply inexcusable for the Obama Administration to go to court to try and put a moratorium on drilling.

As soon as the scale of the leak became known, the anti-oil left went into overdrive, hyperventilating about how this "proved" that off-shore drilling was dangerous and must be stopped immediately. All this would achieve, though, is to increase drilling in other countries who have less environmental scruples and who hate us anyway, like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

So let's be cognizant that not all spills are the same, and some areas are safer to drill in than others for various reasons. It looks to me that the Gulf regions is one of the best, so let's step it up down there.

Blind in One Eye

Abe Greenwald of Commentary (both articles in this post h/t TWS) asks ""Where is the outrage?" ... but not about BP:

In 1991, Saddam Hussein dumped 8 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf. Two years later, an international team of scientists determined that there was little if any evidence of environmental damage to show for it. The BP spill, by comparison, put an estimated 5 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not, and should not be, surprising to learn that the area's wildlife is already testing clean and fishing restrictions are steadily being lifted.

The Saddam comparison raises an additional thought. If BP's accidental spill had the left-wing enviro-catastrophists calling for Tony Hayward's head and for a million-man protest to bring down the global denialist superstructure, why did Saddam's intentional and more egregious act of ecological sabotage (which was the least of his heinous crimes) elicit nothing of the sort? After all, when the time came to depose that polluter, the left got its street marches -- in favor of leaving him be. But then, no one should look for moral direction from a movement that cares more about the potential damage done to seaweed than the actual deaths of human beings.

"This should be a rocket-boost for the environmental movement, a time to finally put to rest the notion that environmentalists are misguided alarmists," wrote Daou, the misguided alarmist, back in May. Now, with the half-summer of self-righteousness behind us, the environmentalists will begin composing their own narratives of denial. Thomas Friedman and others are cautioning that the real danger lies in what we cannot detect, see, or test for. This is faith inverted and misapplied -- believing in the existence of unseen material evidence and calling it science. Let's do as the great drilling proponent Sarah Palin advises and refudiate it.

I'm not familiar with what Sarah Palin advises but Greenwald's certainly got the rest of it right. The BP Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez spills were at least accidents, whereas Saddam's were deliberate. Yet the left, which demands criminal charges in the cases of the BP Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez spills, ignored Saddam's deliberate actions. Why?

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Affair Summarized

Tony Blankley sums up the Shirley Sherrod Affair. Sherrod was wronged, but she's no saint:

BLANKLEY: Racial McCarthyism comes a cropper
The week in review is one to regret
The Washington Times
By Tony Blankley

Last week was a surprisingly good moment for American politics. It was the week that, through a confluence of bizarre and unlikely events, the vicious act of falsely accusing people of racism became a laughingstock. It went from being a career killer to a punch line; from villainy to vaudeville; from knife in the back to pie in the face.

It starts about noon Monday, June 19, when Andrew Breitbart publishes on his website an edited video of Shirley Sherrod (giving a speech to an NAACP audience this spring) that he recounts, in part, thusly: "Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn't do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from 'one of his own kind.'

"She refers him to a white lawyer. Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement."

The week before, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, without evidence, had attacked the Tea Parties for alleged racism in their rank and file. This is part of a running smear now about a year old, by prominent Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and legions of Democratic Party support groups that the Tea Party (now identified with by about a third of the country) is racist, Nazi, un-American, etc.

Mr. Breitbart strikes back, with evidence (in the form of the video of the audience reaction to the moment in the Sherrod speech before she talks of racial reconciliation) demonstrating anti-white racism in a NAACP audience. The story of the week is thus launched.

Notice, by the way, that he alerts the viewer, "Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help." It's in the video, and it is in the text of Mr. Breitbart's original post on the topic. Yet the mainstream media selectively edits out this exonerating fact in virtually every story about Mr. Breitbart. So the subsequent charge against Mr. Breitbart by the mainstream media that his editing was misleading is itself misleading and wrong.

In a seemingly unrelated story just after midnight Tuesday morning, July 20, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller reports on leaked e-mails from the liberal media cabal Journolist in which, when the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright first emerged during the 2008 presidential campaign, one of the participating liberal journalists, Spencer Ackerman, proposed defending Barack Obama by using a racial smear tactic:

"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them - Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares - and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes them sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."

At last we have the smoking gun that proves to the American public that at least some liberal reporters are quite prepared to make false charges of racism to advance their liberal political agenda - and to conspire with other like-minded character-assassin journalists in doing so.

So far, there are just two website stories. But then, the White House panics and turns a couple of - until then - minor Web stories into one of the worst political weeks for any White House since Richard Nixon's many sad examples of terrible political weeks in 1974.

According to Mrs. Sherrod, she is forced to resign her post at the Department of Agriculture immediately under pressure from the White House, which was afraid that Glenn Beck was about to report the story of her NAACP speech. (In the Obama version of Franklin D. Roosevelt's immortal words, "The only thing we have to fear is the Glenn Beck Show itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.")

The compliant NAACP then itself apologizes. The next day, more of Mrs. Sherrod's speech becomes available, in which she describes how she overcame that first instinct of racial bigotry three decades ago and helped out the white farmer. The white farmer's wife then goes on CNN and says what a nice and helpful lady Mrs. Sherrod is.

The White House panics again and instructs the secretary of agriculture to apologize and offer Mrs. Sherrod's job back to her. The NAACP withdraws its apology and says it was "snookered" by Mr. Breitbart (even though the speech was given at an NAACP event with a roomful of its own members available to set the record straight).

Then some more of Mrs. Sherrod's speech - after the reconciliation-of-the-races section - is made available and includes the following sentences: "I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as I've seen lately over this issue of health care. [Murmurs of agreement.] Some of the racism we thought was buried - [someone in the audience says, "It surfaced!"]. Didn't it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bushes and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black president. [Applause]" (text courtesy of National Review).

In other words, she is accusing up to 70 million Americans (registered Republican voters) of opposing Obamacare because the president is black - rather than because we disagree with the policy, as we did with Hillarycare in 1994. That is a broad-brush, bigoted attitude by Mrs. Sherrod against all of us who opposed the president's health care policy. She implicitly accuses all 70 million of us of being racist.

Then Mrs. Sherrod goes on CNN with Anderson Cooper and says she thinks Andrew Breitbart wants America to return to slavery for the blacks. And that is the last presentation of Mrs. Sherrod live and unedited that mainstream television seems to want to make. After dominating the news for the week, the eloquent Mrs. Sherrod is not invited to a single Sunday show.

Unfortunately, playing the race card is typical in American politics. In different seasons, it has been played by both political parties. It is always ugly. But it is the rank cynicism of the maneuver that was revealed to all last week. Significantly, it may be the black community (along with well-meaning white liberals) who will be most shocked at how indifferent the Democratic Party is to the due-process rights of a black employee when the race card is wild and party interests are on the line.

Here's the video of her with Anderson Cooper. Start watching 1:55 into the segment

Posted by Tom at 7:22 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 24, 2010

Iraq Briefing - 21 July 2010 - "A certain sense of normalcy" in Iraq

This briefing is by General Ray Odierno, commanding general of U.S. Forces-Iraq. He was in Washington on Wednesday, and gave a press briefing at the Pentagon.

Wikipedia has it right: "Raymond T. Odierno (pronounced /oʊdiˈɛərnoʊ/; born 1954) is a United States Army general who serves as the current Commanding General, United States Forces - Iraq, a post he has held since its creation on January 1, 2010. He assumed command of USF-I's predecessor, Multi-National Force - Iraq on September 16, 2008. He previously served as Commanding General, III Corps, from May 2006 to May 2008. General Odierno is known as the operational architect of the Iraq War troop surge of 2007 and is credited with implementing the counterinsurgency strategy that, along with the Sunni Awakening militia movement, led to the dramatic decrease in violence in Iraq from late 2006 to early 2008." At the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom through June 2004 Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division. From June 2004 until May 2006 he was the primary military advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He is scheduled to rotate out of Iraq sometime at the end of the summer to a new position back in the United States

As commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq reports to the Acting Commander of CENTCOM (Central Command) Lieutenant General John R. Allen. Marine Corps General James N. Mattis was appointed on July 8 as the new commander of CENTCOM but awaits Senate confirmation. The commanding general of CENTCOM reports to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who of course reports to President Obama.

This video and others is at DODvClips. More interviews and military news programs is at The Pentagon Channel .

The transcript is at Defenselink.

From General Odierno's opening remarks:

GEN. ODIERNO: Today, since the height of the surge back in 2007, we've closed or turned over nearly 500 bases. We have 16 more that we want to turn over prior to 1 September, and we are on schedule to do that. We have reduced our presence by 75,000 troops since January of 2009 and 32,000 since January 2010. Today we're approximately 70,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines present for duty in Iraq.

Since June of 2009, we've retrograded over 37,000 rolling stock, wheeled vehicles, and nearly 20,000 have gone to Afghanistan. Additionally, 1.2 million pieces of non-rolling stock have left the country. Our military footprint will continue to decline over the next five weeks, and we are on track to be at 50,000 boots on the ground by the start of Operation New Dawn on September 1st.

Our change of mission for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn will officially mark the end of combat operations and signify our transition to stability operations from a military sense. In truth, we've been conducting stability operations for several months. As the president has said and the vice president reiterated on his last trip to Iraq, the United States, though, remains committed to a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq, and we are dedicated to sustaining a long-term bilateral relationship with Iraq.

I think it's important to put the security and political environment in Iraq today in perspective, as it compares to where we were in 2006, 2008 and even 2009. There has been steady, deliberate progress across all lines. There's clearly more to do. But a new baseline has been established.

As I fly around Iraq on a daily basis, I see the streets and markets are thriving with activity whether in Baghdad, Basra and even in Mosul. There's a certain sense of normalcy.

On to the Q & A. There was much that was discussed that is of interest, but we'll focus on the the first two sets of questions. The first is on the Sons of Iraq program, and the second on Iranian Special Groups.

Regular readers know that the Sons of Iraq were a big topic during these briefings over the past few years. Originally called "Concerned Local Citizens(CLCs)" they were eventually renamed by the Iraqis to Sons of Iraq. Concerned Local Citizens is a typically American term, Sons of Iraq typically Iraqi. Search for one of those terms in the "search" section to right, or go to one of the Iraq categories at right and search that way.

Either way, they were an attempt to co-opt outright insurgent members or potential members in Sunni areas. Many Sunnis became insurgents not so much for ideological reasons as economic and cultural ones (the need to prove oneself by taking a few potshots at an American). As such, if we could provide them a job that paid more and was at least to some degree rewarding it meant one less insurgent.

The CLCs/Sons of Iraq acted as a sort of "super neighborhood watch," keeping tabs on their neighborhoods. Although we did not arm them, everyone in Iraq seems to have an AK-47. They straddled the line between police force and American-style neighborhood watch.

In the end it was a very successful program and contributed materially to the defeat of the various insurgent forces. However, once the insurgency was defeated, there was no need to keep them around, at least as a large force. At best they were simply unnecessary, at worst they could morph into an anti-government militia or insurgency themselves.

Two problems have emerged in the past year or so, and they both stem from the fact that most of the SOI were and are Sunni and the Iraqi government is dominated by the Shiites. The government did not want to take over paying the SOI, and they did not want to transition them into civilian jobs. Clearly without a job awaiting them there was the temptation to join AQI, and we certainly didn't want that to happen. As a result, the Americans have been pushing the Iraqi government to do the right things, which they mostly have, but not without some tension.

Q General, I wanted to go back to this issue of the Sons of Iraq. I mean, you mentioned this morning how important it is, how important they are to the movement there and progress there, and that you said it's our responsibility to protect them.

How do you do that when U.S. troops are no longer going to be allowed to involve in combat operations?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah, I'm not sure I said it's our responsibility to protect them. What I said is we have a sense of responsibility because we've turned this program over to the Iraqi security forces. So what we will do, as we do every other operation now, working through our Iraqi security force partners, we will ensure that the Sons of Iraq program stays vibrant inside of Iraq.

The Iraqi government has dedicated $300 million to this so they can continue to be paid. We're overseeing the transition of the Iraqi security forces to other agencies. And that's the important part. And I always thought that this was an initial building block to reconciliation, and I think it's an important one. And I think that that's why it's important for us to maintain oversight, which is what we do now.

Q But would the Iraqi government be in a position to protect these Sons of Iraq in the future?

GEN. ODIERNO: Well, again, what they are, they are working with the Iraqi security forces. So the Sons of Iraq that are still conducting security operations are either working for an Iraqi army or Iraqi police unit, and they are responsible to continue to assist them and help them. And we monitor this very carefully, work very closely with our Iraqi security forces partners to ensure this happens.

Q Can I follow up on that? -- you have to make sure that you're going to provide -- continue to provide oversight. Practically speaking, what does that mean? If the Iraqi government decides to pull the plug or reduce their commitment to the Sons of Iraq, what levers does the U.S. have to pull?

GEN. ODIERNO: First, there are absolutely no signs that the government of Iraq is going to pull the plug on the Sons of Iraq. I mean, again, they have dedicated $300 million of their budget to pay them this year. They have -- I met with the minister of Defense two days ago and we had this discussion. They are dedicated to ensuring that they continue to work with the Iraqi security forces.

What's happening now is it's about them transitioning to other governmental jobs. And we're about halfway through that, we got half to go.

So it's important that we -- to continue along that progress.

And the prime minister made a statement -- after the latest -- there was an attack this weekend on Sons of Iraq. And he made a statement of how important the Sons of Iraq have been to bringing stability to Iraq and the critical role they played in 2006 and '7. And I think that's the general attitude.

And the reason they're vulnerable is because Al Qaeda in Iraq realizes this. And as they try to reestablish themselves based on the losses that they've had over the last several months, they are focusing on the Sons of Iraq, because they, in some cases, were once part of the insurgency. So they're trying to focus on them and attack their will. And that's why it's important that us, with the Iraqi security forces, pay extra attention now to make sure they understand that we are going to be there. And they have done that over the last few days, and we will continue to help them do that.

"Special Groups" weren't discussed quite as much in past briefings, but Kimberly Kagan did give them quite a bit of attention in her recent book The Surge: A Military History, which I reviewed here.

Special Groups, a term of the U.S. military, were small, cell based groups created and sponsored by Iran. I'll quote from my own review of her book:

The organizing force in Iran was the Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods(or "Quds") Force (IRGC-QF)(also known as "Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution" or "Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps"). The Qods Force is part of the Revolutionary Guards, and they report directly to the Supreme Leader, who as of this writing is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. From what I can tell, the IRGC is roughly equivalent to the Nazi SS (Schutzstaffel). The Qods Force is responsible for exporting the Iranian revolution. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, is probably the most important group formed by the Qods Force.

Qods Force and Hezbollah personnel teamed to train Iraqis in groups of twenty to sixty in Iran so that they would function as a unit; hence the term "Special Group," a term given to them by the U.S. military. Hezbollah training of Iraqis in Iran began in 2005. Special Groups usually remained separate, but possibly teamed with JAM for some operations.

Special Groups functioned alongside and in cooperation with JAM and other militia groups. Some of them came from JAM and other militia groups, being their more extreme members. Perhaps the best description is that Special Groups are an "outgrowth" of JAM and other similar groups

Back to the Q & A:

Q Sir, you have said lately that some special groups in Iraq backed by Iran continue to remain a threat to U.S. forces. Do you have any information if these groups are directly connected to the Iranian government?

GEN. ODIERNO: Yeah, it's very difficult to say they're directly connected to the Iranian government. But what we do know is that many of them live in Iran, many of them get trained in Iran and many of them get weapons from Iran. And they get them from various sources, and it's difficult sometimes to track the exact chain of command; it's difficult to track the funding. But it's clearly being done inside of Iran.

We believe the Qods Force is involved in the training and funding of these groups, so obviously there's some connection. You know, this -- the Kata'ib Hezbollah specifically, we've had some significant threat warnings from them about attacks on U.S. forces for varying reasons. I think they also, by the way, have conducted attacks against Iraqi security forces as well, and this is to create, I believe, some type of instability and lack of confidence in the government of Iraq.

So it's an issue for everyone, not just U.S. forces. We've been working very closely with the Iraqi security forces to target these elements. And we've gotten great cooperation so far from them.

Raymond Odierno isn't the household name David Petraeus is, and certainly Petraeus deserves the lions share of the credit for saving Iraq. General Petraeus set overall strategy in Iraq in 2007-08, and Odierno implemented it.

Essentially, Odierno was to Petraeus what Patton was to Eisenhower. For this he gained the moniker "The Patton of Counterinsurgency," by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, two people who know what they're talking about.

Overall a very useful and informative briefing, and readers are advised to watch the video and read the transcript.

Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 21, 2010

The Shirley Sherrod Affair and "Outrage of the Day" Posts

See update with video at bottom: In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sherrod says that Andrew Breitbart wants blacks to be slaves again.

Quite simply, the Shirley Sherrod affair is why I don't do "outrage of the day" posts; it's too easy to jump to conclusions based on initial snippets of information. Both sides do it, and both sides often come out looking bad.

I started blogging in April of 2004, and it took me awhile to figure out what type of blogger I wanted to be. I fooled around with "outrage of the day" posts, and quickly discovered that in order to make it work you had to do a lot of research very quickly. If you didn't poke around you only got half the story, and often that first half omitted important information. It took time, which i don't always have. I eventually settled on a (hopefully) more academic style that costs readers but spares me embarrassment.

I don't have a lot of time now, but two excellent posts over at NRO's The Corner summarize my thoughts on the Shirley Sherrod affair just about perfectly:

Shirley Sherrod Re-revisited: Shannen Coffin

The Sherrod episode is appalling from all sorts of angles. First, there's the kneejerk reaction of the administration to demand her resignation -- by her account, she was asked to pull over to the side of the road to resign by cellphone by a USDA official, who claimed pressure from the White House. This shows a despicable lack of respect for due process: Surely Sherrod was entitled to at least defend herself -- to produce the full text of her remarks in order to show her broader point.

Second, as I understand it, her remarks related to her conduct as a non-governmental official more than 20 years ago. She did not claim to have denied government benefits on the basis of race, which would have been a violation of the applicant's constitutional rights, but rather recounted a story of her time in, as I understand it, a non-profit organization. And it turns out that her story was merely a description of how she came to have more enlightened views on issues of race and poverty. If the government is going to fire everyone who has held conflicted views on race at some point in their lives -- unconnected from government service -- then we can thin the ranks of government employees relatively quickly. It is not surprising that a black woman growing up in the deep South might harbor some suspicions of her white brethren; it is reassuring that Sherrod was able to overcome those preconceptions, and it is refreshing that she could admit to having had them -- an honest admission that certainly doesn't cast her in the most flattering light, until you listen to her whole story.

Finally, the conservative media has some 'splaining to do. It is dangerous to run with a story based on a snippet -- and our colleagues on the right have as much of an obligation to investigate before rolling out an expose on someone (especially someone as obscure as Sherrod) as do those on the left (e.g., Dan Rather). Sherrod was a low-level bureaucrat, apparently appointed to the position of Georgia director of rural development by Tom Vilsack; it is a stretch to attribute the views of such a low-ranking functionary to President Obama.

An accusation of racism is serious business, one which neither white nor black should throw around willy-nilly. (I'll note that Sherrod herself has been willing to use those accusations to her benefit in the past. According to this website, she was at least indirectly part of the plaintiff class of black farmers in the Pigford litigation, which dealt with claims of racial discrimination against black farmers. She personally received $150,000 in a settlement for her pain and suffering associated with denial of loans.) But in this particular episode, it would appear that Sherrod is owed an apology.

And from one of my favorite authors;

Shirley Sherrod -- My Take: Jonah Goldberg

I think she should get her job back. I think she's owed apologies from pretty much everyone, including my good friend Andrew Breitbart. I generally think Andrew is on the side of the angels and a great champion of the cause. He says he received the video in its edited form and I believe him. But the relevant question is, Would he have done the same thing over again if he had seen the full video from the outset? I'd like to think he wouldn't have. Because to knowingly turn this woman into a racist in order to fight fire with fire with the NAACP is unacceptable. When it seemed that Sherrod was a racist who abused her power, exposing her and the NAACP's hypocrisy was perfectly fair game. But now that we have the benefit of knowing the facts, the equation is completely different.

In one of the recent Journolist belches we saw how creatures like Spencer Ackerman see nothing wrong with randomly charging innocent conservatives with racism in order to send a message. This is a deplorable tactic conservatives regularly and rightly deplore when used by liberals (we usually have less proof than we have in Ackerman's confession). I see no reason to emulate this tactic and I very much doubt that was Andrew's intent. Some emailers on the other hand seem to come close to making the case for this kind of thing. As I've argued countless times before, this sort of politics is almost always counter-productive and quite often grotesque. Embracing the tactics you condemn in others requires, at minimum, that you stop condemning it in others. It also has the potential to sell your soul on layaway.

Meanwhile, as a matter of politics, I think this episode demonstrates that this White House is a much more tightly wound outfit than it lets on in public. The rapid-response firing suggests a level of fear over Glenn Beck and Fox that speaks volumes.


As Sister Toldjah points out, although Sherrod's been wronged and is owed apologies my many, she's no saint. She's taken a page from the liberal playbook and called Andrew Breitbart, Fox News,and Republicans in general racists. Well, what did we expect.

Update II

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sherrod says that Andrew Breitbart wants blacks to be slaves again. Start watching 1:55 into the segment:

How pathetic.

Posted by Tom at 9:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 19, 2010

For the Democrats, Aghanistan isn't "The Good War" Any More

We all know the drill; from sometime around 2005 until the election of Barack Obama, Democrats told us incessantly that while Iraq was "the wrong war," they couldn't wait to fight in Afghanistan. Iraq was a distraction and was diverting resources from the "real fight." "Saddam never attacked us," whereas bin Laden had, and we had to get him and his henchmen who were in or around Afghanistan. Yessirree, the Democrats assured us that they were raring to go in Afghanistan.

Once they captured the White House and both houses of congress their ardor cooled. Now suddenly winning in Afghanistan isn't so important, and we need the money at home.

While Bush went for broke with his 2007 surge in Iraq, President Obama only gave General McChrystal 3/4 of the troops he asked for, and that was only on condition of what is an apparently firm timeline for withdrawal. Democrats nationwide are noticeably cool on the need to win.

To be sure, it's not precisely a partisan divide, as you don't have to go far to find Republicans and conservatives whose war ardor is not exactly red-hot either. Michael Barone sums up the situation in a piece in National Review

Over the last eight years, most Democratic politicians have made a distinction between The Good War (Afghanistan) and The Bad War (Iraq). That very much includes Barack Obama.

As an Illinois state senator, he spoke out against military action in Iraq in 2002. And as a U.S. senator at a September 2007 hearing, he offered a blisteringly negative assessment of Iraq so lengthy that it left no time for Gen. David Petraeus to reply. But he has always said he supported military action in Afghanistan as a valid response to the September 11 attacks that were planned there. So it is a little surprising to see in the results of this month's ABC/Washington Post poll that most American voters are not making the Good War/Bad War distinction.

Has the war in Afghanistan contributed to the long-term security of the United States? Some 53 percent say it has, while 44 percent say it hasn't.

Has the war in Iraq contributed to the long-term security of the United States? Some 50 percent say it has, while 48 percent say it hasn't.

Those are virtually identical numbers. It seems that about half of Americans think both were Good Wars and about half consider them both Bad Wars.

Substantial majorities of Republican voters consider both to be wars worth fighting, while majorities of Democratic voters disagree. What's most interesting is the switch among Democratic voters. A year ago, 41 percent of them thought Afghanistan was worth fighting for, while only 12 percent felt that way about Iraq. In this month's polls, the corresponding numbers were 36 percent and 29 percent. The Good War-Bad War distinction is disappearing.

One reason for this is that things have been going pretty well in Iraq, while things in Afghanistan look dicey. The ABC/Post poll reported that 71 percent of Americans oppose immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and 60 percent favor keeping 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq in a supporting role. Keeping U.S. troops there seems hardly more controversial than keeping them in Germany.

...the dovish instincts that have been such a prominent part of Democrats' DNA since they recoiled from Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam War are apparent in their assessment of the war in Afghanistan. Barack Obama's decision last December, after a three-month review, to seek something like victory there is still supported by most Republican voters, but after negative developments many Democratic voters are turning against the president's policy. Increasingly, they regard Afghanistan as a Bad War.

Long story short, the Democrats hammered us with this notion that boy oh boy they couldn't wait to "get bin Laden" in Afghanistan, insisting that they only wanted to get out of Iraq so they could send our troops to Afghanistan to fight "the real war." We on the right said it was a lie and not to believe them all the time. Turns out we were mostly right.

Defenders will say that while Afghanistan was winnable in 2005, Bush so screwed it up that it isn't winnable now. But this is obvious nonsense, if for no other reason than no one has every explained how the Taliban and al Qaeda are supposedly stronger now than they were then. If we could beat them then we could beat them now. It's really only a matter of resources and will power.

Andrew McCarthy nailed it at the time in a May 26 2007 post on NRO's The Corner, in which he sums up the arguments being made at the time and why Obama and his Democrats were so full of it:

Good for Senator McCain on his sharp rebuttal to Senator Obama. May I add one point, though, that continues to make me nuts?

Senator Obama says: " It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm."

Senator Obama, are you proposing that we move U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, where you guys keep saying the "real" War on Terror is?

There is also a very good chance that bin Laden and some al Qaeda hierarchy are in Pakistan. When you say "redeploy," are you suggesting that we invade Pakistan?

Folks, let's not let these guys get away with this. By "redeploy," they don't really mean move the troops to where they say al Qaeda is. They don't want to fight al Qaeda. If they wanted to fight al Qaeda, al Qaeda is in Iraq -- that is indisputable. Bin Laden has said repeatedly that Iraq is the central battle. You can argue about whether al Qaeda has been in Iraq all along or whether they are there only because we've drawn them there. Reasonable minds differ on that. But however they got there, they're there.

If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq.

If you really believe al Qaeda is not in Iraq -- that the real al Qaeda is only in Afghanistan and its environs -- then you're on drugs. But, sure, fine, "redeploy" our troops ... to Afghanistan. But can we please have five seconds of honesty? You guys don't have the slightest intention of doing that. You don't want to go to Afghanistan. You want to go home.

When you say redeploy, you mean withdraw. You don't actually want to "focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11." You are content to bring the troops home and leave "the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11" to build a safe-haven in Iraq even as they continue to make mayhem in Afghanistan.

You think Bush is incompetent and "his" war in Iraq is a terrible mistake? Fine. You think the price of that is that we should pull everyone out of Iraq even though we all know that will be a monumental victory for al Qaeda -- geometrically abetting its future fundraising and recruiting for future terrorist attacks on America? Fine.

But have the good grace to say so. Don't give us this BS that you want to redeploy to fight al Qaeda, when the truth is that you want to "redeploy" to NOT fight al Qaeda.

Posted by Tom at 10:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 17, 2010

The Push for More Stimulus Spending

Because the economy is lagging and unemployment is at a disturbing 9.6 percent, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress want to pass another stimulus bill.

Stephen Spruiell, writing in the July 19 2010 print version of National Review (digital subscription required), reviews recent history:

If the Democrats prevail, it will be the third time that Congress has extended provisions of the 2009 stimulus bill since its passage in February of last year. Counting the stimulus bill that President Bush signed into in 2008, it will be the nation's fifth round of fiscal stimulus since the first flickers of the subprime mortgage conflagration began to appear at the edges of the economy. It will bring the total amount we have spent on such measures to $1.085 trillion - more than we have spend on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

But not all stimuli are the same:

From 2008 to now, the composition of the stimulus bills has changed, from mostly tax rebates intended to boost consumer demand to mostly income transfers from the employed to the unemployed and from the federal government to the states.

This latest stimulus is a bailout of state and local governments in disguise. They wont' call it that, of course, but that's what it'll add up to.

Which is best, a stimulus package based on Keynesian demand-side spending, or one-time tax cuts. The answer is neither:

...consumers and business tend to make spending and hiring decisions based on long-term expectations, not short-term windfalls, as the late economist Milton Friedman explained.

This is why President Bush's one time tax rebate checks didn't work, and why they won't work under President Obama as well. If you want to stimulate business activity with tax cuts, you have to reduce the rate (of whatever tax is under consideration) and do not include a built-in expiration date.

Further, tax cuts must be met with spending reductions as well. The idea that "tax cuts always bring in more revenue" is not true. More accurate is "tax cuts

bring in more revenue," because it all depends on where we are on the Laffer Curve.

The bottom line is that sometimes Keynsian spending boosts the economy, and sometimes tax cuts work, but right now we are at insane levels of spending and it must stop. As I've written about a kazillion times, most of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus has little or nothing to do with boosting the economy and is all about permanently increasing the size of government and payoffs to liberal interest groups.

Time to stop the stimulus and stop the spending.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 16, 2010

Earthquake in Washington DC!

My mom called me a few minutes ago and asked "did you feel the earthquake last night?"

Then I remembered. "So that's what that was. This morning I thought maybe it was a dream"

At 5:04 this morning an earthquake registering 3.6 hit the D.C. area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

I remember waking slightly and hearing and feeling shaking. "This sounds and feels like an earthquake," I thought as I lay there only half awake. "Nah, not here. We don't get those things around here. Must be blasting."

A few years ago they were doing some blasting a few miles away during road construction, and when they first started it was somewhat disconcerting to hear a bang and feel the rattle. Of course, this happened in the middle of the day, and the idea that anyone would do blasting at 5am was absurd. But these are the thoughts one has when you're drifting in and out of sleep.

At 3.6 it was a pretty minor affair as earthquakes go, and various news reports confirm that there were no reports of damage. It was interesting for me, though, because of the perceptions and thoughts one has while half asleep. My intuition told me it was an earthquake, but my logic dismissed it as not being possible. Intuition isn't always right, but if I had been fully awake, and it had been some sort of genuine emergency, would I have hesitated because my mind said "this can't really be happening?" This, I think, is often why people don't do the right thing in emergencies, not because they don't care or aren't brave, or whatever. When you can plan out your actions ahead of time you always do the right thing. Life doesn't work that way, of course. Perhaps, then, even a 3.6 earthquake can teach a lesson.

Posted by Tom at 8:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 12, 2010

The McCarthyism of the Gay Rights Movement

As with yesterday, I've got no time to do a proper post, so I'll let Maggie Gallagher speak for me. She hits the nail on the head on the McCarthyism of the "gay rights" movement:

Here's a rich discussion on the First Things site of the letter David Blankenhorn and his colleagues recently sent to the New York Times, protesting the irresponsible way in which Frank Rich has now three times dubbed Blankenhorn an ignorant bigot.

A few thoughts: David is not a movement conservative. He's not a political conservative at all, in my judgment; I consider him both a dear friend and a stalwart pro-marriage liberal. This is why he cares so much about what the New York Times writes about him, and why he is appealing to its editors to do the right and fair thing. He believes in the New York Times.

Back in 2003, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court first brought gay marriage to the national stage, gay-marriage advocates scrambled to assure Americans that gay marriage would have no consequences. An effort was made to sift the sheep from the goats, the bigots from the concerned, well-meaning Americans opposed to gay marriage. At one point, support for civil unions was proposed as the great dividing line between decency and outlaw status. (Even Ramesh Ponnuru suggested once that if conservatives supported civil unions it would take the acrimony out of the debate.)

Now, David Blankenhorn -- who not only supports federal civil unions but tells conservative audiences (I've been there and seen it) that he believes in the "equal dignity of homosexual love" -- is beyond the pale in polite liberal society. (To their credit, gay conservatives Dale Carpenter and Jonathan Rauch have defended him.)

It's sad and disturbing, and a confirmation of what I began saying seven years ago: When they say you are a bigot, comparable to those who opposed interracial marriage, if you think marriage is the union of husband and wife, believe them. They say it because they think it's true. The movement goal is to use the power of law to help reshape the culture, as was done for race. Those who didn't realize this in 2003 will start acting that way in 2010, because framing ideas have consequences.

If even David Blankenhorn's reputation can be irresponsibly assaulted by allegedly respectable people without any pushback in this way, what will become of the rest of us?

At a private conference last year, I was asked why I did not begin my talks by acknowledging in some fashion the legitimacy of same-sex relationships -- either through support for civil unions or some other way. "Like it or not," I am told, "that is the currency to be taken seriously." I wasn't fast enough to think of this at the time, but what I should have done was whip out my birth certificate and say, "Here, here's the currency I need to speak up in defense of marriage. I was born free. I may or may not die free. Power is a reality. But I will not volunteer to live in a world where an idea as good and reasonable as 'to make a marriage you need a husband and wife' gets treated a radioactive proposition that you need to 'pay some price' in order to express." Marriage deserves its unique status, because these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mother and father. On that ground, I will stand or fall.

I hope David is able to blaze a trail, to get the New York Times to respond, to win some validation that there is something really wrong with a world where a respectable writer at a respectable paper can slander him in this way, not once but three times.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 11, 2010

"Why Israeli's Distrust Obama"

This is spot-on:

Why Israelis distrust Obama
New York Post
July 10, 2010

President Obama says he knows why polls show Israelis overwhelmingly consider him pro-Palestinian, while less than 10 percent believe he supports the Jewish state.

"Some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that created suspicion," he told Israeli TV.

Of course, there might be other reasons why Israelis and their supporters view Obama with suspicion. Such as:

* His public humiliation last March of Bejamin Netanyahu at the White House, when Obama walked out of their talks to go have dinner with his family, leaving Israel's prime minister alone for over an hour, and then refused to release even a photo of their meeting.

* His disturbing comparison, during that "outreach" speech to the Arab world in Cairo, of the Palestinians' "daily humiliations" and "intolerable" situation to the Nazi Holocaust.

* His administration's public demand that Israeli leaders "demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process" -- a demand Sen. Chuck Schumer labeled "terrible" and "counterproductive."

* His continued push for closer US ties with Syria -- an ally of Iran, state sponsor of terrorism and major backer of both Hamas and Hezbollah.

* His decision to join the farcical UN Human Rights Council -- which devotes most of its time to denouncing Israel.

Obama's public reconciliation this week with Netanyahu is welcome, although the timing -- heading into critical midterm elections -- is a tad suspicious.

Supporters of Israel, in other words, are less concerned with Obama's name than with his record. And they believe this president, too, must demonstrate, "not just through words but through specific actions," that he is fully committed to Israel's security.

Posted by Tom at 8:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 6, 2010

Obama's Screwed Up Priorities

Unemployment is at a whopping 9.6%, the oil spill in the gulf continues unabated, and Iran merrily continues to build an atomic bomb. And what our our president's priorities?

Rather than enforce our immigration laws, Obama is suing those who do:

Justice Dept. expected to sue Ariz. on immigration, citing 'preemption' grounds
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 6, 2010; A02

The Justice Department has decided to file suit against Arizona on the grounds that the state's new immigration law illegally intrudes on federal prerogatives, law enforcement sources said Monday.

The lawsuit, which three sources said could be filed as early as Tuesday, will invoke for its main argument the legal doctrine of "preemption," which is based on the Constitution's supremacy clause and says that federal law trumps state statutes. Justice Department officials believe that enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility, the sources said.

A federal lawsuit will dramatically escalate the legal and political battle over the Arizona law, which gives police the power to question anyone if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant. The measure has drawn words of condemnation from President Obama and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and opposition from civil rights groups. It also has prompted at least five other lawsuits.

The truth is that Obama and those who oppose Arizona's S.B. 1070 are in favor of illegal immigration and just don't want to admit it.

This is easily proven by asking anyone who is against S.B. 1070 on "civil rights" grounds to write a law themselves which achieve the same thing while preserving the civil liberties they so claim to cherish.

Of course, they never do.

This next one is just bizarre:

NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World
July 05, 2010

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his "foremost" mission as the head of America's space exploration agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.

Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA's orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.


Charles Krauthammer says it's "a new height in fatuousness" and I couldn't agree more.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 5, 2010

The New Black Panther Voter Intimidation Case - A Coverup by the Obama Administration?

Here, I believe, is the raw video from election day (Nov 4) 2008. Two members of the New Black Panther Party are engaged in obvious voter intimidation outside a polling location in Philadelphia PA:

The police come and take the Panthers away

Finally here is a news report from shortly afterward in which Fox News interview the cameraman in the first video

This editorial in the Washington Times was what prompted this post:

EDITORIAL: Media blackout for Black Panthers
Explosive racist allegations ignored by poodles in the press
by The Washington Times

Where is the New York Times? Where is The Washington Post? Where are CBS and NBC? A whistleblower makes explosive allegations about the Department of Justice; his story is backed by at least two other witnesses; and the allegations involve the two hot-button issues of race and of blatant politicization of the justice system. A potential constitutional confrontation stemming from the scandal brews between the Justice Department and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A congressman highly respected for thoughtfulness and bipartisanship has all but accused the department of serious impropriety. By every standard of objective journalism, this adds up to real news.

Or it would be real news if a Republican Justice Department stood accused. It would be real news if the liberal media weren't mostly in the tank for our celebrated but failing first black president.

Tomorrow, the Civil Rights Commission will hear long-awaited testimony from J. Christian Adams, who resigned from the Voting Section of the Justice Department after the department improperly ordered him to refuse compliance with the commission's lawful subpoena. Mr. Adams first told his story in public in these pages on June 28 and later did two major interviews with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. In those appearances, he flatly accused the Obama Justice Department of adopting an unlawful, immoral policy identified in previous Washington Times editorials - namely, enforcing civil rights laws against white perpetrators who victimized minorities but never against black perpetrators who victimize whites or Asians. If this is indeed the policy, it makes a scandalous mockery of the cherished American principle of "equal justice under the law."

All these allegations stem from what should have been a slam-dunk voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party videotaped in menacing behavior outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. The Obama Justice Department dropped or seriously reduced all the charges or penalties in the case after it already effectively had been won. Mr. Adams' former colleague, longtime award-winning civil rights lawyer Christopher Coates, has been reported on multiple occasions to have backed Mr. Adams' version of events and of the Obama team's openly discriminatory policy.

If the department's motives are not racial or racist, Justice officials surely appear political. One of the Black Panthers against whom the department declined to press charges was an official poll watcher for the Democratic Party and an elected local party official. The department dropped charges just four days before another election, allowing him again to serve as a poll watcher.

Mr. Adams says the official most directly involved in dropping the case, Steven H. Rosenbaum - whose ethics have been subject to judicial sanction - refused to read his own team's legal briefs before deciding to dismiss the case. Mr. Adams accuses Thomas E. Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, of providing false answers in testimony to the Civil Rights Commission.

On a parallel track, The Washington Times has reported strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that department officials may have consulted the White House before dismissing the case. That possibility, too, cries out for investigation.

These broad policy questions and suggestions of political chicanery are important. Do we have a nation of laws equally applied to all, or is justice being reduced to raw politics? Investigating such questions is the essence of the news business. Failure to look into such a scandal is evidence of the institutional corruption of the much-ballyhooed "fourth branch of government," a supposedly independent media.

I'm not quite sure who the "congressman highly respected for thoughtfulness and bipartisanship" cited in the first paragraph is, but it could be my own Rep Frank Wolf (R VA-10) is certainly well-respected and has been at the forefront of this issue. He has been pushing for answers from Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice, which has been stonewalling.

This is perhaps the most obvious case of voter intimidation since the end of Jim Crow. Yet the Obama Administration doesn't care. Why? We need answers.


Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. In this post over at NRO he demolishes the excuse some leftists are giving to cover for the Obama Administration; that the Bush Justice Department "downgraded" the original charges so it's all much ado about nothing:

...the latest claim, according to Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and others, is that the "charges against the New Black Panthers were downgraded by the Bush Department of Justice [inasmuch as] the decision not to file a criminal case occurred before Obama was even in office." This "downgrade" talking point is apparently supposed to excuse the Obama administration's decision to dismiss virtually the entire civil voter intimidation case and to neuter the injunction sought against the one remaining defendant so substantially that what was left was little more than a minor annoyance.

These claims by a nonlawyer betray a fundamental ignorance of the difference between civil and criminal prosecutions and a total misunderstanding of how things work at the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division. First of all, although the Civil Rights Division has a Criminal Section, the vast majority of its voting-rights prosecutions are civil cases conducted by the division's Voting Section. Whenever someone violates the Voting Rights Act and does so in a way that is potentially both a civil and a criminal violation, the division must decide whether to proceed first with a civil or a criminal case. With most voting cases, the decision is usually to go with a civil case, particularly if there are elections coming up in the near future. That is because civil cases have a lower burden of proof and give the government the opportunity to obtain almost immediately a temporary injunction to stop the defendants from engaging in the same wrongful behavior as the case winds its way through the federal courts.

Another point: These same liberals are making the false claim that the Bush administration failed to file similar charges against members of the Minutemen, "one of whom allegedly carried a weapon while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona in 2006." "Allegedly" is the correct term to use: While I was not at the Justice Department in 2006, I have talked to sources inside the Civil Rights Division who were and who have first-hand knowledge of the facts of this matter. The Voting Section sent lawyers to Arizona to investigate these allegations. They were told that the people in question (who were apparently there with some sort of English-only petition) did not enter the polling place and stayed outside the state-imposed limit around polling places where campaigning is forbidden. No one (including Democratic poll watchers) saw them talking to any voters while they were there -- nor could the lawyers find any evidence that they prevented or discouraged anyone from entering the polling place (which is directly contrary to the witnesses in the NBPP case, who testified that they saw voters approaching the polls turn around and leave when they saw the Panthers blocking the entrance to the polling place).

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Michael Steele Should Resign

Michael Steele

On April 6 I called for Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele to resign. He didn't listen, and now he's gone and done it again. Last time it was mismanagement, and now it's stupid statements about Afghanistan being"a war of Obama's choosing." Last time few others called for him to go, this time the chorus is building. My guess is he'll be gone by the end of the summer

The offending words come 24 seconds into the video, caught at a fundraiser:

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard sums up my thoughts:

A Letter to Michael Steele
BY William Kristol
July 2, 2010 12:12 PM

Dear Michael,

You are, I know, a patriot. So I ask you to consider, over this July 4 weekend, doing an act of service for the country you love: Resign as chairman of the Republican party.

Your tenure has of course been marked by gaffes and embarrassments, but I for one have never paid much attention to them, and have never thought they would matter much to the success of the causes and principles we share. But now you have said, about the war in Afghanistan, speaking as RNC chairman at an RNC event, "Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in." And, "if [Obama] is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?"

Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not "a war of Obama's choosing." It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort. Indeed, as the DNC Communications Director (of all people) has said, your statement "puts [you] at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party."

And not on a trivial matter. At a time when Gen. Petraeus has just taken over command, when Republicans in Congress are pushing for a clean war funding resolution, when Republicans around the country are doing their best to rally their fellow citizens behind the mission, your comment is more than an embarrassment. It's an affront, both to the honor of the Republican party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting to accomplish the mission they've been asked to take on by our elected leaders.

There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they're certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn't be the chairman of the Republican party.

Sincerely yours,

William Kristol

It's not just Kristol; other conservatives such as Liz Cheney, Rep. Tom Cole, Hugh Hewitt, Andy McCarthy have asked Steele to resign. Senators McCain and DeMint severely criticized Steele but stopped just short of calling for his resignation.

Steele should go, and then we can get on with the business of defeating Democrats and setting this country back on the right path.

Posted by Tom at 8:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 4, 2010

Independence Day 2010


Fireworks are fantastic, and it is right that we should enjoy them and the other festivities that will take place today. I like the loud ones that just go boom with no sparkle, but to each his own.

But we should also take time to read the Declaration of Independence, for it is a timeless document that contains everlasting truths:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. -- And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

-- John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Posted by Tom at 8:37 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 1, 2010

The Fraud of "Immigration Reform"

Our president is absolutely full of it:

Washington (CNN) -- President Obama renewed his push for comprehensive immigration reform Thursday, calling for bipartisan cooperation on an issue that has repeatedly led to deep social and political division.

The president tried to find what has often proven to be an elusive middle ground on the subject, highlighting the importance of immigrants to American history and progress while also acknowledging the fear and frustration many people now feel with a system that he said seems "fundamentally broken."

He asserted the majority of Americans are ready to embrace reform legislation that would help resolve the status of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

"I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that's accountable," Obama told an audience at Washington's American University. "I believe we can appeal not to people's fears, but to their hopes, to their highest ideals. Because that's who we are as Americans."

The president targeted Arizona's controversial new immigration law, which requires immigrants to carry alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're in the United States illegally. It also targets businesses that hire illegal immigrant laborers or knowingly transport them.

No, no, no.

Obama is being disingenuous on many levels, and is an outright liar on several

The bit about "putting politics aside" is outright ridiculous. "Politics" as properly defined is simply the art and science of governing and of putting one's philosophy into governance. Setting this aside makes absolutely no sense.

He claims the system is "broken." Our enforcement is what's broken, you idiot. As president you are supposed to be the chief law enforcement officer, and like your predecessors you refuse to enforce the law.

Illegal immigration is pretty simple:

  1. Seal the border as best you can. Yes yes some will always get through but we could cut the number dramatically if we'd only try
  2. Illegals in this country must go home and apply the through the normal methods. No way no how do we grant any sort of "amnesty" or "path to citizenship period.

So the Arizona law is perfectly good and should be a model for other states. That Obama's Justice Dept is going to sue is a disgrace.

There are several reasons why the left is pushing for amnesty and is in fact outright in favor of illegal immigration. Among them are middle-class white guilt, open borders ideologues, racial solidarity groups, and Democrat party strategists looking for votes.

Be that as it may, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has the best response to Obama (via American Power)

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack