August 22, 2012
Yes Todd Akin is an Idiot and Yes He Should Quit the Race
I was at a meeting of the vast right-wing conspiracy when I learned what Rep Todd Akin (R-MI-2) said in an interview:
Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.
What he said was outrageous. Because he is the Republican nominee in the Missouri race for U.S. Senate, the whole thing blew up and quickly became a national controversy. Long story short just about everyone except his opponent has said that he should withdraw from the race. I agree, he should quit immediately.
Republican Party leaders everywhere have done the right thing and asked him to withdraw as well. Not that I expected any less, but condemnation from our party and movement seems nearly universal. I'm sure there are exceptions, but they are just that; exceptions.
Sadly, none of this will make any difference to liberal hate-mongers, who continue to try and insist that Aken is somehow representative of all conservatives and Republicans, that we are waging a war on women, blacks, poor people, blah blah blah. Whatever.
My guess is that Akin will withdraw within a week or two. As for now, I a pleased with the way my movement is handling this.
June 4, 2011
Sarah Palin's Excellent Adventure
I and many other conservatives criticized Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for being "celebrity presidents." They each seem inordinately interested in the trappings of the office. Each loves the media attention, the spotlight, and especially the fawning adoration of the media and their fans (often one and the same).
After their nonsense I want a stiff-shirt in the White House. I don't want a president who plays a guitar, goes on MTV and answers questions about what type of underwear he wears, who can tell a good joke, and I certainly don't want a president who wears a baseball hate backwards. No reality TV shows, no drama, no nothing. I don't care about any of that stuff. Just perform the functions of the office and to it right.
I want a grown-up. Not a "cool" or "happening" president. Just someone who can get us back on the right track.
As such, I am growing weary of Sarah Palin's bus tour. Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of The Washington Times, says it about right:
Life in the land of make-believe
The Washington Times
By Wesley Pruden
Friday, June 3, 2011
These are hard times for grown-ups in America. Since almost nobody wants to grow up, it's hard for grown-ups to find a grown-up candidate for political office. The prospective candidates are on the road determined to entertain America to death.
All a politician, a pundit or a preacher needs to qualify for "leadership" is a toothy grin, a lame joke, a guitar or, if you're a congressman, a digital camera to take photographs of what you imagine you do best. It's important to keep your constituents informed about what's going on in your underwear.
Sarah Palin, the only one of the usual suspects with star power, is having a high old time with her bus tour of America, or at least a "national" tour of a couple of the states crucial to the pursuit of the presidency. She's still a little rusty on history and current events, but the moose-killer from Alaska is the prettiest candidate, though we're not supposed to notice such things anymore.
Not so long ago, a slot on a cable channel was thought to be an audition for running for president, though that may be changing. Running for president now is an audition for a slot on a cable channel. If you already have such a slot, running for president can goose declining ratings.
Mrs. Palin won't tell the reporters following her magical mystery tour where she's going, if in fact she knows. She insists that just because she's a tourist followed by a throng of campaign correspondents doesn't mean she's running, though she did think to wear a Cross pendant around her neck for a biker rally in Washington, exchanged for a Star of David pendant by the time she got to Gotham.
Running or not, the spectacle of 15 cars, SUVs, trucks and trailers following close behind her bus makes for good film at 11. She gets the thrill of sticking it to her media tormentors and her fans get to watch her enjoying the thrill of sticking it to her tormentors. One network reporter complains that Mrs. Palin endangers the lives of others on the highway by making the press follow dumbly behind, not knowing where they're going, either. This concern isn't likely to impress anyone, since a wreck on the highway is just the kind of pictures television lusts for, particularly if two or three of the cars explode to scatter hair, teeth and limbs all over the highway.
So who can blame Mike Huckabee for thinking that maybe he came in out of the rain too soon? A Baptist preacher needs a little funk, too. Mike is careful to keep his guitar tuned, occasionally stepping up to a mike to knock out the music for the kind of lyrics he once scorned as not fit for his congregation. But that was then, and this now, and Mike told bystanders back home in Little Rock this week that just because he said he wasn't running doesn't necessarily make it so.
"Everything is still open," he said. "I haven't closed doors." And this: "It's not going to be an easy path for whoever the Republican is. Whoever it is, is going to come out of a bloody primary broke and battered."
This ought to be good news for President Obama, except that grown-ups have pretty much given up on him. The hopey-changy man was supposed to have the economy humming by now, and only Pollyanna with a microscope can find evidence of that. The Wall Street Journal reports that prices of houses, a reliable indicator of the health of the economy, fell an astonishing 4.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. The average value of a house is now 33 percent below the peak in 2006, a bigger drop than any recorded in the (gulp) Great Depression. Rasmussen, one of the most reliable pollsters, finds that Mr. Obama, though the pundits invariably call him a likely winner, polls two points behind the "generic" Republican nominee. Rasmussen says 66 percent of likely voters, including 41 percent of likely Democratic voters, say the country is heading down the wrong track. The wrong track rarely leads to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The country speeds on, like a mighty passenger train hurtling down the tracks toward a missing bridge across the river. But why worry? The great entertainers are in charge.
Yes, the liberals will like this post. And no doubt she is one of the most horribly unfairly treated people or politicians in America. But that doesn't mean I want her as president.
Via Powerline, this is incoherence defined:
"He who warned the British that they weren't gonna be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free."
May 31, 2011
Over the Entitlements Cliff We Go!
I've got a great idea for you! Run up $1000 a month on your credit card and don't worry about how you'll pay it off. Oh sure, you have a good job. Heck, you make $100,000 a year, the kids are going to a state college, but you need more. So run up that card and buy everything you need! Anyone who tells you this isn't such a swift idea is evil and wants you and your children to die.
This is where we are with "entitlements." We're running up the national credit card at a frightening rate. One party doesn't want to do anything, and says that anyone who advocates the slightest reform wants sick people to be thrown out of hospital windows and poor people to starve to death. The other party offers a few timid approaches. Maybe the rhetoric of the first party is affecting the behavior of the second.
If things go on as they are it's going to be Thelma and Louise time, folks!
Yup, Democrats are going nuts over their victory in the NY-26 congressional election, which was seen by many as a referendum on Rep Paul Ryan's plan to save Medicare.
Translation; the Democrats don't want to do anything about entitlements. We've got a $1.6 trillion deficit and they're perfectly fine with it.
So what is Ryan's plan that has caused so much fuss? Let's let him explain it himself:
Ok, look, if you don't like Rep Paul Ryan's plan, fine. I am not wedded to his plan or any other. But come up with your own. Come up with one that dramatically cuts spending.
Because here's the bottom line; if we continue as we are now we as a nation are headint toward financial Armageddon. The big entitlements programs are unsustainable as currently structured, and we can neither tax our way out of the problem or just tweak them a little.
While the Democrats in Congress have absolutely no plan to deal with the coming entitlement disaster, Obama has a fake one. Kevin D. Williamson explains:
Our current unfunded entitlement liabilities run about $100 trillion.
President Obama proposes to "strengthen" Medicare through a price-fixing panel called the Independent Payments Advisory Board (IPAB).
CBO took a look at IPAB and estimated that it might save us $28 billion over the next ten years, i.e., next to nothing.
And then it took another look and lowered its estimate from next to nothing to nothing:For 2015 and subsequent years, the IPAB is obligated to make changes to the Medicare program that will reduce spending if the rate of growth in spending per beneficiary is projected to exceed a target rate of growth linked to the consumer price index and per capita changes in nominal gross domestic product. CBO's projections of the rates of growth in spending per beneficiary in the March 2011 baseline are below the target rates of growth for fiscal years 2015 through 2021. As a result, CBO projects that, under current law, the IPAB mechanism will not affect Medicare spending during the 2011-2021 period.
You have to admire the president: To go out and give a morally preening speech like that, with IPAB front and center, on the assumption that nobody's reading the footnotes.
In another post on NRO, Williamson knocks down the Democrat shibboleth that raising taxes on the evil, filthy, stinking rich* will solve all our problems:
Repeat as necessary: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and national defense is where the spending is. Raising taxes enough to cover that spending and stabilize the debt would mean an 88 percent increase in every federal tax -- not just for "the rich," but for everybody, according to IMF estimates. Raising taxes on the middle class to support Social Security and Medicare for the middle class is a shell game. You may as well just cut the benefits: essentially the same outcome, but more cleanly executed.
You are not going to balance the budget on tax hikes only on people you do not like. You are not going to balance the budget on pulling out of Afghanistan (wise as that might be) or on eliminating foreign aid (desirable as that is) or on shuffling Uncle Sam's real-estate portfolio (prudent though that may be). You are not going to balance the budget on eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.
Unfortunately there are too many conservatives who parrot the "waste, fraud, and abuse" mantra too. You know you're dealing with a no-nothing whenever you hear that coming out of their mouths.
And guess what, although I'll for it, cutting funding to NPR or Planned Parenthood won't affect sqat. Neither, for that matter, will drydocking a few aircraft carriers or cutting funding for the F-15.
Cutting entitlements is the only answer. We either do it now or our country goes over the cliff, and it's a Chinese 21st century. Is that what we want?
How Bad is the Deficit?
Yes George W Bush and the Republicans in Congress increased spending and the deficit to irresponsible levels. Conservatives, including me, criticized them bitterly over it.
No his "tax cuts" were not the problem. For the most part all the "tax cuts" did is reduce rates to their pre-Clinton levels. Remember, folks, when Democrats like Clinton hike taxes, it's to be permanent. When Republicans bring them down again, it must be reversed.
Once Again, the Federal Budget
Just because these numbers are charts are important, here they are once again:
2010 Federal budget (the last for which I can find charts and hard numbers)
And here are the major spending programs in another format:
* Mandatory spending: $2.173 trillion (+14.9%) o $695 billion (+4.9%) - Social Security o $571 billion (+58.6%) - Other mandatory programs o $453 billion (+6.6%) - Medicare o $290 billion (+12.0%) - Medicaid o $164 billion (+18.0%) - Interest on National Debt
US receipt and expenditure estimates for fiscal year 2010.
* Discretionary spending: $1.378 trillion (+13.8%)
o $663.7 billion (+12.7%) - Department of Defense (including Overseas Contingency Operations)
o $78.7 billion (−1.7%) - Department of Health and Human Services
o $72.5 billion (+2.8%) - Department of Transportation
o $52.5 billion (+10.3%) - Department of Veterans Affairs
o $51.7 billion (+40.9%) - Department of State and Other International Programs
o $47.5 billion (+18.5%) - Department of Housing and Urban Development
o $46.7 billion (+12.8%) - Department of Education
o $42.7 billion (+1.2%) - Department of Homeland Security
o $26.3 billion (−0.4%) - Department of Energy
o $26.0 billion (+8.8%) - Department of Agriculture
o $23.9 billion (−6.3%) - Department of Justice
o $18.7 billion (+5.1%) - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
o $13.8 billion (+48.4%) - Department of Commerce
o $13.3 billion (+4.7%) - Department of Labor
o $13.3 billion (+4.7%) - Department of the Treasury
o $12.0 billion (+6.2%) - Department of the Interior
o $10.5 billion (+34.6%) - Environmental Protection Agency
The total deficit for fiscal year 2009 was $1.42 trillion, a $960 billion increase from the 2008 deficit.
The 2009 budget deficit would represent 12.3% of gross domestic product, the largest share since World War II.
What about Defense?
As I've shown many times in the past, the reason we're running such large deficits has little or nothing to do with spending on defense. I'm not going to repost all those charts and numbers again, but see this post for details.
And the Question Is...
...will we or will we not get a handle on entitlements spending? The Europeans are probably at the point of no return; they are going over the cliff. But we are still at the point where we can turn around and save ourselves.
Make no mistake about it, right now we are headed in a direction that will take us over the cliff. This is why I put an exclamation point and not a question mark in the title.
How we got here is the fault of both parties, but mostly the progressives or liberals, and they're mostly but not exclusively Democrats. Some but not all Republicans see the danger and want to change the system, but virtually no Democrats see or want to take any serious action to avert disaster.
How we fix our problem is open to debate. But all proposals must be serious, and those that just tweak around the edges are acceptable.
The fact is that we've promised too much to too many people. We've promised things we cannot deliver. It is good to want to feed the poor and take care of the sick and elderly, but surely we can do that with 3 or 4 trillion dollars without running a huge deficit. Because either we get control of our spending or we're going over that cliff.
* If you're a liberal rich person all is forgiven.
January 4, 2011
Is the Constitution a Gimmick?
When they take control of the House of Representatives this week, the new Republican majority will do something unprecedented; they will read the Constitution. They've even invited Democrats to join them, although it's not clear if any will.
Not being that long, it would only take about a half an hour or so to read it straight through. Because they'll be taking turns, they'll stretch it out.
Not only will will they read the Constitution, but this will be one of the new rules that House Republicans will pass that will change how Congress works:
Requiring lawmakers to cite the Constitutional authority for any piece of legislation: The Constitution will get a "starring role" in the new Republican-led Congress, says the Washington Post. The fact that this is noteworthy proves just how dysfunctional the House of Representatives has become. Legislators will now be required to outline, in the text of a bill, where in the Constitution the federal government is delegated the authority to carry out a given law. As Boehner said last fall, "If we cannot do this much - we should put down the pen and stop right there."
As you might imagine, this has the left all in a tizzy. They see it as a gimmick, an irrelevancy, or quaint. Most have taken to mocking the exercise. Telling, I think.
The sad reality is that many liberals ("progressives" probably being a better term) regard the United States Constitution as little more than a schedule for holding elections with a few amendments on civil rights. If you think that there is a right to an abortion in the Constitution, or that that there arem"penumbras" and "emanations" in it, then you're part of the problem too.
Don't believe me? A quick trip down memory lane tells us that many liberals/progressives/Democrats, and some Republicans (I won't call this group "conservatives), do need a refresher on what's in the Constitution. These videos were first published on this website last summer:
Democrat Representative Pete Stark (CA-13) ""The federal government can do most anything."
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), "I don't care what the Constitution says about this"
Congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI) who thinks that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is in the Constitution:
Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) who doesn't know the difference between Article 1 and the First Amendment:
Just last week liberal blogger Ezra Klein, a blogger for the Washington Post, gave an astonishing interview on MSNBC in which he said that the Constitution is "confusing" because it was written over 100 years ago:
To these people, the Constitution is an irrelevancy at best. They're interested in the exercise of raw power, and if they can get a law passed that's all that counts. Install some pliable judges who will substitute the Constitution for the liberal political agenda of the day and who cares what that ancient document, written by old white slave owning men, says?
So yes, I do rather think that not only is a reading of the Constitution in order, and I think that not only should members of Congress listen carefully and follow along with a printed copy, but everyone else should too.
December 16, 2010
Don't Run, Michael, Don't Run
While I am not surprised, I am disappointed that RNC Chair Michael Steele has decided to run for re-election.
I supported Steele in his bid to become chairman. I thought he did reasonably well in his 2006 senate race. That he lost was more due to running in a bad year, and in the liberal state of Maryland at that, than anything he did wrong.
But Steele has been nothing but a disappointment as RNC chair. Right out of the gate he committed a series of gaffes, and rather than learn from his mistakes he has kept right on sticking his foot in his mouth with disturbing regularity. Between that and financial mismanagement, he does not deserve re-election.
The things Steele has done wrong are many, but it all comes down the fact that the majority of Republicans and conservatives have lost confidence in him. When a leader has lost the confidence of his constituency it is usually time for him to go. I therefore do not believe that he should seek re-election.
All this said, I wish Steele well in future endeavors, for there is most certainly a place for him at the Republican table, and an important role for him to play. It's just not as chairman of the RNC.
Finally, let's note that resignation due to loss of confidence does not apply to elected officials. It would be foolish to call for Obama to resign, or for that matter Bush41 or Bush43 when their popularity fell.
August 8, 2010
Andy McCarthy Gets It Right Both on Jeffrey Kuhner and the Ground Zero Mosque
Jeffrey Kuhner writes op-eds for the Washington Times and has an afternoon radio show. I consider him too extreme for my taste, so I generally avoid him.
The other day he wrote a typically over-the-top editorial about the "Cordoba House Mosque" that has been approved to be built so near Ground Zero in New York City. Andy McCarthy takes him to task over at NRO's The Corner, and while doing so lays out the case in much more intellectual fashion as to why the Mosque is a bad thing.
Jonah (Goldberg), I appreciate that, big guy, and admiration is very much a two-way street.
On the GZ mosque, Jonah and I are substantially in agreement. I don't mean to weasel, so let me elaborate. I say "substantially" because my sense is that I think the Ground Zero mosque is a bigger deal than Jonah does. To be clear, I am not saying he doesn't think it's a big deal, just that I am somewhat more alarmed about it. But, as I interpret what Jonah has written, we both agree with the NRO editorial on the subject. And I could not agree more that we have not been conquered, we haven't surrendered to Islam, and we are not the United States of Arabia.
Still, while I think Jeffrey Kuhner's op-ed is overheated in spots, I am not as put off by it as Jonah seems to be. There are two things he says that go too far: (a) that America has been "conquered" (such that the GZ mosque would stand "as a testament to the Islamist conquest of America"), and (b) that America has "surrendered." Two things are lacking in Kuhner's perspective.
First, there is a big difference between a desecration and a conquest. The GZ mosque would be an atrocious monument to permit in that particular spot. But let's get a grip: the U.S. was not "conquered" by the 9/11 attacks. However unsavory it would be, placing a giant Islamic center next to the site of the worst of the 9/11 strikes would be orders of magnitude less horrific than the slaughter of 2700 people and the accompanying devastation of lower Manhattan. We should not let it happen, but it would not be a "conquest" even if Islamists would announce it as one (just as they insist it was they who "conquered" the Soviet Union). The GZ mosque could be an important marker in their ultimate victory -- for they win if they change us from who we are - but that remains to be seen.
Which gets me to Kuhner's second hyperbole: surrender. What the GZ mosque episode powerfully demonstrates is the growing divide between the American people and the progressive ruling class. The latter, I believe, are gradually surrendering. Hard leftists (who have a lot of sway with the current ruling class) do not like the country anyway, so they aren't so much surrendering as exploiting their opportunities. Much of the rest of the ruling class thinks appeasement of Islamists is the way to go -- just as the ruling class's instinct is to appease all our enemies. They don't think of themselves as "surrendering"; they think they are moving us toward a better, smarter policy that will reduce the threat by making our enemies like us better. And even that is sort of "surrendering," they figure it's only surrendering in what they can't help thinking of as George Bush's war, which they were always ambivalent about anyway. They tell themselves -- and us -- that if there were a real threat to the United States, no one would be more fierce in our defense than they would, blah, blah, blah.
Most of the American people are in a much different place. They see Islamists advancing, they are beginning to grasp that Islamists (not just terrorists but the whole Islamist movement) mean to change us in very fundamental ways, and therefore they understand that every such advance is a defeat for freedom. Every advance emboldens a determined enemy to press ahead. Over time, we could be conquered in that our way of life would be drastically altered.
Americans also realize that when our country looks like it doesn't have the stomach to face down bad people and noxious ideologies, we are significantly less safe. Though weary, the people of the country want to see resolve. They think they understand their principles a lot better than the ruling class does, and they are tired of lectures from the Obamas and Bloombergs who, in the name of abstractions that they presume to call "our values," would have us sell out our principles and our security. The people haven't surrendered, and they appreciate that when American credibility is on the line, it's important to win.
Most of all, Americans are tired of the shroud of political correctness the ruling class has placed around Islam. We don't object to anyone's freedom of conscience, and we abide countless places for Muslims to gather and worship even though we know a very high percentage of the Islamic centers and mosques are heavily influenced by Islamists. But we're tired of being told things that aren't true: e.g., that Islam is peaceful, tolerant and non-threatening; that sharia -- which is relentlessly authoritarian, discriminatory, and, in parts, savage -- is something we need to accommodate; and that there is no connection between Islamic doctrine (which is supremacist and belligerent), Islamist terror, and the broader Islamist threat to our civilization. We're tired of being told that people who can't bring themselves to condemn Hamas are "moderates" deserving of being taken seriously and having their endless grievances against America addressed. And we're tired of being told that we shouldn't examine or object to an authoritarian ideology just because it travels under the label of "religion."
This is why I think the Ground Zero controversy is so significant. It sorts out those who get it from those who don't, and forces us to ask: Why are we letting those who don't get it run the show?
July 5, 2010
Michael Steele Should Resign
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
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.
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.
April 6, 2010
Time for Michael Steele to Go
Time for a true confession; I enthusiastically supported Michael Steele for Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Little over a year later, I wish he'd go away.
Today's latest was the last straw
Chief of staff resigns from Steele's RNC: Fundraiser also quits as criticism mounts
The Washington Times
April 6, 2010
By Ralph Z. Hallow
Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay, frustrated with inaction by his boss, has resigned and will be replaced by Mike Leavitt, a former campaign aide to embattled RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele, The Washington Times has learned.
Wealthy veteran RNC fundraiser Sam Fox, unhappy with the negative publicity the RNC has received under Mr. Steele's command, has also resigned as the top volunteer for the RNC's major donor fundraising program, The Times has learned.
The twin blows to Mr. Steele came Monday, the same day he said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" that his race was at least in part the motivation for the virtually unrelenting criticism he has received from fellow Republicans, including some of the most respected former national party leaders.
Also Monday, Republicans on his national committee, including a staunch Steele defender, disputed his assertion that he and President Obama suffer from a double standard - a higher performance bar - because they both are black.
It's become one thing after another with Steele. From the beginning he stuck his foot in his mouth at every opportunity. Credible allegations of lavish spending. And now this.
It's time for Steele to go.
The issue is this: You simply cannot have a chairman who is constantly embroiled in controversy. It almost does not matter whether all of the charges are true or not, because one of the jobs of chairman is to control the agenda, get out in front of stories, and push the stories you want in the news. Instead, Steele is reacting to stories about him, his management abilities, and the last silly thing he said.
Add to that the fact that he's now resorted to playing the race card, and he's gone one offense too far.
We had some experience with a chairman gone bad here in Virginia last year. Jeff Frederick, a delegate to the statehouse, was elected chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia in May of 2008 over the wishes of the party establishment, including then-Attorney General and now Governor Bob McDonnell. It didn't take long for him to become embroiled in controversy, and calls for his resignation soon followed. He refused, and was ousted by a lopsided vote of 57-18 by the state Central Committee in April 2009.
The charges surrounding Frederick were complicated, and although I read both them and his response the truth is that it was all more than I had time to decipher. But I did know a few trustworthy people on the RPV Central Committee, and it was their opinion that the charges had merit. Frederick was the hero of the uber-conservatives, who in my opinion continued to support him mostly because of ideological reasons.
Anyway, the point is that Frederick had become a serious liability because he was constantly in the news for all of the wrong reasons. I decided at the beginning of 2009 that he had to go because the last thing I wanted was to go into the campaign season with him hanging around our necks. At the time we could not know that the Democrats would field such weak candidates and that ours would be so strong, and so a continued chairmanship of Jeff Frederick seemed like it might cost us the election.
We're at the same point with Michael Steele. We may or may not do well in 2010 and 2012, but he has become a liability, and as such a risk that we do not need.
Mona Charen echos my thoughts when she urges him to go quietly:
How to put this politely? Michael Steele is a man of considerable talents -- it's just that he conspicuously lacks those required for his present position. He's energetic, personable, and articulate. But those are not the qualities most required of a party chairman. The job demands an administrator, a behind-the-scenes schmoozer, and a tactician. Showboating is a hindrance. It's a job that requires the talents of a stage manager, whereas Steele likes to be the star.
At a time when the Republican party is the indispensable vehicle for thwarting the disastrous policies of the Obamaites, Steele is a costly distraction in more ways than one.
Political parties are not college seminars, and leaders needn't be saints. But the Republican party is just clawing back to respectability after the irresponsible spending of the Republican congressional majorities, the Foley scandal, and the perceived weaknesses of the Bush presidency. More importantly, the country is faced with a profound challenge from the Left. If the (Social) Democrats under Obama/Pelosi/Reid are not stopped, and if the Republican party is unable to attract the energy and passion of the tea-party movement, the country will be irreversibly changed for the worse.
At this moment, the Republican party needs more than ever to present a sober, serious, and ethical face to the public. Voyeur was the last straw. It would be an unselfish gesture for Steele to step aside.
February 9, 2010
Not the Way for the GOP to Win Back the People
The biggest reason that the GOP politicians lost in 2006 and 2008 was that they had preached fiscal conservatism and ethical government and then spent like drunken sailors and too may of them got tied up in their own scandals. The public turned to the Democrats, who had promised to govern more responsibly.
Once elected in 2008, the troika of Obama-Reid-Pelosi took a sharp turn to the left, especially on fiscal matters. If the Republicans spent money like drunken sailors, the Democrats spent money like they were high on every drug known to man. Repulsed, many in the country didn't know who to turn to.
Thus was born the Tea Party movement. Say what you will about them (and I am a sort-of Tea Party person, having been to the 9-12 one on the Mall in Washington DC), they are absolutely non-partisan and are looking for authenticity in politicians, especially in the area of fiscal responsibility. As someone who speaks to more active Tea Party people somewhat regularly, I can tell you now that they are very mistrustful of the GOP.
The way to win these people over, then, is to practice what we preach. So I was distressed to see this story in the Washington Times today:
Stimulus foes see value in seeking cash
Pet projects irresistible to GOP lawmakers
By Jim McElhatton
Sen. Christopher S. Bond regularly railed against President Obama's economic stimulus plan as irresponsible spending that would drive up the national debt. But behind the scenes, the Missouri Republican quietly sought more than $50 million from a federal agency for two projects in his state.
Mr. Bond was not alone. More than a dozen Republican lawmakers, while denouncing the stimulus to the media and their constituents, privately sent letters to just one of the federal government's many agencies seeking stimulus money for home-state pork projects.
The letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, expose the gulf between lawmakers' public criticism of the overall stimulus package and their private lobbying for projects close to home.
"It's not illegal to talk out of both sides of your mouth, but it does seem to be a level of dishonesty troubling to the American public," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Mr. Bond noted that one project applying to the USDA for stimulus money would "create jobs and ultimately spur economic opportunities."
He and other lawmakers make no apologies for privately seeking stimulus money after they voted against it and continue to criticize the plan: "I strongly opposed the stimulus, but the only thing that could make it worse would be if none of it returned to the taxpayers of Missouri," said Mr. Bond, who is retiring.
But watchdog groups say the lawmakers' public talk and private letters don't square, highlighting a side of government spending largely overshadowed by the "earmarking" process. While members of Congress must disclose their earmarks -- or pet projects they slip into broader spending bills -- the private funding requests they make in letters to agencies fall outside of the public's view.
"There is a definite disconnect between the public statements and the private letters," said Thomas A. Schatz, president of the nonpartisan Citizens Against Government Waste. "It does seem inconsistent to say you're against the bill but then you want some little piece of it."
At a televised meeting with the House Republican caucus late last month, Mr. Obama chided GOP lawmakers who, he said, took credit for projects funded by the same stimulus bill they voted against -- adding that some were even attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
This is not the plan, folks.
Before Liberals Get Too High And Mighty...
There is a difference between lobbying for stimulus money and just accepting what comes your way., The former is verbotten, the latter acceptable, and I will explain why.
If a locality refuses stimulus money the Democrats will just send it somewhere else. So it's not like by refusing to accept it the money won't get spent. As such, there is a huge incentive to accept whatever comes your way. If you don't, if you refuse to accept it, every liberal newspaper editorial staff, go nuts in denouncing you. Democrat politicians in your locality go nuts denouncing you.
It all becomes a big game of "who can get the biggest piece of the pie." There is a huge perverse incentive to accept federal money no matter what one's principle's, which is exactly the dilemma the liberals want to foist on us.
So those on the left who chide Republicans are the same ones who would denounce them for not taking stimulus money.
I get why Senator Bond said "the only thing that could make it worse would be if none of it returned to the taxpayers of Missouri," because the man does have a point.
Which is why the entire concept of stimulus money and ear-marks must end. And in this it is the Tea Party people who have the best point of all.
August 20, 2009
Conservative Idiots Toting Rifles
Of course you've seen this story abut a hundred times:
PHOENIX - About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday -- the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.
Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.
The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.
You've probably also heard any number of conservative idiots on the radio defending this as "it's perfectly legal!" and "they're just exercising their Second Amendment rights!"
Don't be blinded by partisanship. A grand total of two times some conservative had a gun - legally - at or near an Obama rally, and now every liberal columnist in the country includes this in their editorial denouncing the right. Liberal bloggers are going nuts.
Don't give the other side... ammunition. Carrying a gun near a Democrat rally, or defending those who do so, plays into the worst liberal stereotype of conservatives.
The issue is not whether this is intimidation or a veiled death threat, or racism, or militia members in disguise, or whatever. Any reasonable person could see this as intimidation.
I've been a member of the NRA for at least 20 years, own several guns including an AR-15, and am quite vociferous in defending our gun rights, do don't give me any Second Amendment crap.
The issue here is perception and public relations. If you act like a nut, if you're loud and offensive, you lose in the court of public opinion no matter how logical or legal your case may be. And at the end of the day if you lose elections you don't get a chance to enact your agenda
Carrying a gun and toting outside an event where anyone is speaking is stupid in the extreme and makes us look like a bunch of redneck racist gun freak militia anti-government kooks.
Look at what's happening. There have been what, two instances of this happening? And yet the media (and I suspect most leftie bloggers) are trying to say that this is typical behavior from the right. We can complain about media bias, but the situation is what it is, and complaining doesn't help. We must use the media to our advantage, and not let it set the agenda. By doing stupid things does not help our cause. Cut it out.
April 29, 2009
Arlen Specter Leaves the GOP
Here is is a portion of Sentator Specter's statement:
I have been a Republican since 1966. I have been working extremely hard for the Party, for its candidates and for the ideals of a Republican Party whose tent is big enough to welcome diverse points of view. While I have been comfortable being a Republican, my Party has not defined who I am. I have taken each issue one at a time and have exercised independent judgment to do what I thought was best for Pennsylvania and the nation.
Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans....
Since then, I have traveled the State, talked to Republican leaders and office-holders and my supporters and I have carefully examined public opinion. It has become clear to me that the stimulus vote caused a schism which makes our differences irreconcilable. On this state of the record, I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania.
Translation: "I'm behind in the polls and just want to stay in office"
An April 24 Rasmussen poll has him down by a whopping 21 points to former Rep Pat Toomey. 51% of Pennsylvania Republican voters said they would support Toomey, with just 30% supporting Specter.
Assuming Al Franken wins in Minnesota, which is virtually certain, this will give Democrats their 60 seat filibuster proof majority
The joke making the rounds is "I read that Specter was switching parties, but I was disappointed to learn he's still a Democrat."
The editors of National Review have it about right
Arlen Specter belongs to a type familiar to Congress: the time-serving hack devoid of any principle save arrogance. He has spent three decades in the Senate but is associated with no great cause, no prescient warning, no landmark legislation. Yet he imagines that the Senate needs his wisdom and judgment for a sixth term. He joined the Republican party out of expediency in the 1960s, and leaves it out of expediency this week.
I don't buy idea that the GOP has moved to the right, or "too far" to the right The reason we've lost elections recently is 1) Iraq, and 2) We didn't hold true to our own principles. It's the Democrats who have moved steadily to the left. President Obama makes Bill Clinton look positively Reaganesque.
So It's not that Republicans need to become more or less conservative. What they need to do is adhere to their principles, whatever they are. The one thing the public will not tolerate is saying one thing and doing another. Authenticity is valued more than anything.
Specter is mostly without principles. A politician with principles would have run in his parties primary anyway, and then if he lost either retired or do what Joe Lieberman did and simply become an independent.
Further, Specter's contention that the GOP abandoned him does not stand up.
When Toomey lost to Specter in the GOP primary in 2004 he endorsed Specter
In 2004 President Bush and other Republicans campaigned for Specter.
Barely two weeks ago National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn released a letter endorsing Specter in his primary race against Toomey.
Despite this, Specter is so unpopular in the GOP that he figures he has a better chance in the Democrat primary. He will already have one declared opponent, businessman Joe Torsella, and Rep. Joe Sestak may run as well. It would be ironic, not to mention sweet justice, if he lost this one as well. If he does, though, I'm sure he'll file to run as an independent.
Senator Olympia Snowe wrote in The New York Times today that "it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash," but that's nonsense. The GOP hasn't made social issues the centerpiece of it's message since 2002 or 2004 at the latest. They were mostly ignored in the last campaign. When it was brought up, it was by the media or liberals who wanted to bash Sarah Palin. To be sure, there are conservative groups that hit Obama on his pro-abortion record, but those were independent groups, not Republican candidates themselves.
Snowe also writes that
It is for this reason that we should heed the words of President Ronald Reagan, who urged, "We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only 'litmus test' of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty." He continued, "As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.
But she's no fiscal conservative, having voted for President Obama's massive stimulus bill.
On the other side, Republican Senator Jim DeMint is wrong too when he said
I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don't have a set of beliefs.
Sorry, but I'd rather have 60 Republicans of just about any stripe, as long as maybe 30 of them were true conservatives. If you have a majority you control the agenda because you control the committees.
Big Tent Or No?
In the end I'm pretty much a big-tent conservative. So I won't fall to temptation and say "good riddance" to Senator Specter. I'd just as soon he had stayed. That said, I'm not at all sad to see him go, and I would have rooted for Pat Toomey to beat him in the primary. As it is, I think Toomey stands an excellent chance to win this November in the general.
You should not want your party to be purist because if you do you'll never get a majority. That said, there are limits to what can be tolerated. In 1988 William F. Buckley Jr. famously organized "BucPac" to defeat liberal Republican Senator Lowell Weicker (it worked and Joe Leiberman won that year). There have been other liberal Republicans I've been happy to see leave too.
Democrats who are welcoming Specter into their fold ought to be cautious, for he'll turn on you just as well when it suits his purposes.
Larger, I've followed and more recently participated in politics for over 30 years. I've seen numerous turns and twists. I've seen a lot of party switches. Each time a party wins big they proclaim that theirs is a permanent majority and the other party will soon wither away. Of course it never happens. Within a few short years the other party reorganizes and starts winning again. So while I'm certainly not happy with the current political landscape, neither am I demoralized. After all, we've got an election to win in Virginia this year, and it's time to get on with it.
January 8, 2009
The Israeli War on Hamas - Not Nessarily a Left-Right Divide
While I think it's accurate to say that that most on the right support Israel, and most on the left at least oppose what Israel is doing even if they're not outright pro-Hamas, this is not always the case.
Republican Congressman Ron Paul reveals his moral bankruptcy when says that "we should be on neither side; this is a conflict that has been going on for a long time"
You can see why he didn't make any headway in the primaries.
Pat Buchanan isn't any better. Here's an excerpt from what he wrote on Dec 30:
About Israel's right and duty to defend its border towns, there is no dispute. When Hamas permits Gaza to be used as a launch pad for rockets, it must expect retaliation. Nor can Hamas claim some right to dictate the limits of that retaliation.
Yet the wisdom of so savage a retribution for rockets that killed not one Israeli is open to question. And crass Israeli politics seems to be behind this premeditated and planned blitz....
The moderate Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, who has been talking to Israel, testifying to her good faith, has been made to appear the puppet and fool. A new intifada spreading to the West Bank, with suicide attacks inside Israel, is now possible.
Moderate Arabs, who have recognized Israel or backed peace, will now be seen by the Arab street as appeasers impotent to stop the public suffering of the Palestinian people....
Whatever Israel decides, we support. For eight years that has been the most reliable guide to U.S. Middle East policy.
Buchanan's statement that Israel has a right to defend itself is clearly a throwaway line. Where all his Arab moderates are is a mystery to me. None of this is a big surprise, though, because as far back as 1991 William F Buckley Jr concluded that Buchanan was an anti-Semite.
On the other side, consider this blog post by a guy who styles himself "Truth101." I ran into him over at American Power, where we usually disagree, but was pleasantly surprised to find him taking Israel's side. Here's an excerpt from his post "The Left isn't always Right"
One of my fellow lefties at Newshoggers posted some nonsense about Israel and the Gaza Conflict. He was trying to make a case that Israel was occupying Gaza and was overreaching or something.
Lefties: the people of Hamas are not your friends. They are lying, sniveling pricks that have no interest in peaceful coexistence with anyone. Let alone Israel. Once the Left and the world accepts these jokers for the no good terrorist, innocent women and children killing pricks they are, we will all be better off and ready to fight a real war on terror. Not the make Halliburton and Blackwater lots of money war Bush has waged.
In the comments section I wrote that my hat was off to him for his clear thinking on this issue.
No matter what Israel does the so-called international community disapproves. The good news is that unlike during the 2006 war in Lebanon, Israel is holding its own in the propaganda war, and setting the record straight as soon as Hamas propaganda hits the news. I'll go out on a limb and sai that I think Israel is going to win this one, much the the chagrin of the internationalists.
December 9, 2008
Trutherism on the Right
For eight years we have had to live with various "truther" insanities from the left. The first, of course, was that Bush was "selected, not elected." These nuts say that AlGore really won the 2000 election and that George W. Bush is therefore an illegitimate and illegal president.
They also say that the evil Republican stole the 2004 elections in Ohio. Google for "stolen election Diebold voting machines" and you'll see what I mean. One leftie truther site that comes up is WhatReallyHappened. Check it out for entertainment.
Of course there are the real 9/11 Truthers, whose website is always good for a laugh.
Lastly there are the Bush Lied! idiots, convinced that GWB and his evil sidekick Cheney cooked up the entire idea of Saddam Hussein having WMD, the better to steal Iraqi oil. Or something like that.
Long before Barack Obama won the White House, I'd made up my mind not to fall for any right-wing equivalent of the above. I told myself I would not let an equivalent to "Bush Derangement Syndrome" take hold me me. You can count on me to be harshly critical of our new president when he deserves it, which I believe will be quite often, and I was very hard on him during the campaign. But I will not subscribe to conspiracy theories, I told myself.
Well lo and behold, it didn't take long for a right-wing conspiracy theory to come up. It's the notion that Barack Obama is not a naturalized U.S. citizen as required by the Constitution for the office of the Presidency, because his birth certificate has not been produced. Or it was produced but is a forgery. Or something like that.
The people pressing the suit are nutjobs, and not a single respectable conservative columnist, thinker, or publication gives it an ounce of credibility.
However, I am tired of trying to convince people on certain email threads that it's all a bunch of nonsense. So if you won't believe me, maybe you'll believe Michelle Malkin and David Horowitz. Both are fire-breathing conservatives.
First up is Michelle Malkin
Truthers to the left of me, truthers to the right
By Michelle Malkin • December 5, 2008 06:53 AM
...Alas, Trutherism thrives on both the left and right. Which brings us to the spate of lawsuits challenging President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court considers one of those suits filed by New Jersey citizen Leo Donofrio, who maintains that Obama is not a "natural born citizen" because his father held British citizenship.
There may be a seed of a legitimate constitutional issue to explore here (how is the citizenship requirement enforced for presidential candidates, anyway?) And at least Donofrio concedes that Obama was born in Hawaii. But a dangerously large segment of the birth certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory. The most prominent crusader against Obama's American citizenship claim, lawyer Philip Berg (who, not coincidentally, is also a prominent 9/11 Truther), disputes that Obama was born in Hawaii and claims that Obama's paternal grandmother told him she saw Obama born in Kenya.
Berg and his supporters further assert that the "Certification of Live Birth" produced by Obama was altered or forged. They claim that the contemporaneous birth announcement in a Hawaii newspaper of Obama's birth is insufficient evidence that he was born there. (Did a fortune-teller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?). And they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part and parcel of the grand plan to install Emperor Obama and usurp the rule of law.
I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on U.S. soil. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden's jihadi crew - not Bush and Cheney - perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?
You're not a kook at all in my book, Michelle. You're one of not the most courageous conservative bloggers there are.
As with Malkin, David Horowitz has earned the hatred of most liberals and leftists. He is relentless in his pursuit of the truth and an ardent defender of conservatism. In an article published in the respectable conservative journal of opinion National Review, he is even more blunt that Malkin on the matter:
Obama Derangement Syndrome
Shut up about the birth certificate.
By David Horowitz
The continuing efforts of a fringe group of conservatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president are embarrassing and destructive. The fact that these efforts are being led by Alan Keyes, a demagogue who lost a Senate election to the then-unknown Obama by 42 points, should be a warning in itself.
This tempest over whether Obama, the child of an American citizen, was born on American soil is tantamount to the Democrats' seditious claim that Bush "stole" the election in Florida and hence was not the legitimate president. This delusion helped to create the Democrats' Bush derangement syndrome and encouraged Democratic leaders to lie about the origins of the Iraq war, and regard it as illegitimate as Bush himself. It became "Bush's War" rather than an American War -- with destructive consequences for our troops and our cause.
The birth-certificate zealots are essentially arguing that 64 million voters should be disenfranchised because of a contested technicality as to whether Obama was born on U.S. soil. (McCain narrowly escaped the problem by being born in the Panama Canal zone, which is no longer American.)
What difference does it make to the future of this country whether Obama was born on U.S. soil? Advocates of this destructive campaign will argue that the constitutional principle regarding the qualifications for president trumps all others. But how viable will our Constitution be if five Supreme Court justices should decide to void 64 million ballots?
Conservatives are supposed to respect the organic nature of human societies. Ours has been riven by profound disagreements that have been deepening over many years. We are divided not only about political facts and social values, but also about what the Constitution itself means. The crusaders on this issue choose to ignore these problems and are proposing to deny the will of 64 million voters by appealing to five Supreme Court Justices (since no one is delusional enough to think that the four liberal justices are going to take the presidency away from Obama). What kind of conservatism is this?
It is not conservatism; it is sore loserism and quite radical in its intent. Respect for election results is one of the most durable bulwarks of our unity as a nation. Conservatives need to accept the fact that we lost the election, and get over it; and get on with the important business of reviving our country's economy and defending its citizens, and -- by the way -- its Constitution.
This issue is over and done with.
Saturday Dec 13 Update
Just for the record, in case any Truthers come by here and insist on evidence! , the following sites have examined the issue in detail and found that the vast weight of the evidence shows Barack Obama to be a U.S. citizen
And sure to irritate the Truthers
Read the whole thing, but the best two are these
4. Fondness for certain stock phrases. These include Cicero's "cui bono?" (of which it can be said that Cicero understood the importance of having evidence to back it up) and Conan Doyle's "once we have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth". What these phrases have in common is that they are attempts to absolve themselves from any responsibility to produce positive, hard evidence themselves: you simply "eliminate the impossible" (i.e. say the official account can't stand scrutiny) which means that the wild allegation of your choice, based on "cui bono?" (which is always the government) is therefore the truth.
5. Inability to employ or understand Occam's Razor. Aided by the principle in 4. above, conspiracy theorists never notice that the small inconsistencies in the accounts which they reject are dwarfed by the enormous, gaping holes in logic, likelihood and evidence in any alternative account.
Yup. You can find small inconsistencies in just about anything. The question is where the weight of the evidence lies.
May 28, 2008
So as I think we all know by now, former Bush Administration Press Secretary Scott McClellan released his new book the other day in which he lambasted the President and other officials. McClellan served in this role from July 15, 2003 to April 19, 2006, in between Ari Fleischer and Tony Snow.
It's title alone, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, is pretty sensational. What's in it is more so. Since the Amazon product description is too bland to be useful, I'll use the one on Wikipedia
In the book, McClellan unexpectedly and harshly criticizes the Bush administration. He accuses Bush of "self-deception" and of maintaining a "permanent campaign approach" to governing rather than making the best choices. McClellan stops short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that the administration was not "employing out-and-out deception" to make the case for war in 2002, though he does write that the administration relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war. The book is also critical of the press corps for being too accepting of the administration's propaganda on the Iraq War and of Condoleeza Rice for being "too accommodating" and being very careful about protecting her own reputation.
Well isn't that nice.
Here's the bottom line; if we take McClellan at his word then he is a self-promoting coward. Anyone who knew what he says he knew should have immediately quit and exposed the whole affair. He should have held his own press conference and then immediately gone before Congress.
But he didn't. He resigned just over two years ago and just now tells us...and in a book where he can make lots of money.
Further, and again for purposes of argument I am taking him at his word, for the almost three years that he was press secretary he lied continually to the press corps. He defended an administration that he knew was engaged in deception. Even more, from what I am reading he never expressed any objection to anyone in the Administration while all this was allegedly going on.
If this is the case then Scott McClellan is a money-grubbing coward. He was unwilling to sacrifice his career when it mattered, and waited until he could make a lot of money to make his revelations.
There are two other possibilities. One is that he is an outright liar, the other that he is speculating on matters he doesn't have full information about. Given the stakes, both are contemptible positions.
But before Democrat anti-war types get too full of themselves over McClellan's book, they need to look at their own in Congress.
For years we have heard from Democrats that "Bush lied (or misled) us into war", that he cooked the books, exaggerated the evidence, etc.
Those are charges so serious as to border on treason.
Yet there has never been a serious move toward impeachment. Before the last elections the excuse was that Democrats didn't have a majority and there efforts would be thwarted, but given the seriousness of the matter you'd think that they'd be courageous enough to stand on principle; if, that is, we take them at their word. But, oddly, now that they've got a majority they do nothing. And given the charges regularly leveled at Vice President Cheney, you'd think they'd be itching to impeach both of them, since now they could get one of their own, Speaker Pelosi, into the White House. They could then just pull out the troops immediately - which is what they claim to want.
So just as McClellan, those in Congress who make the "Bush lied/misled" charge are either cowards or liars themselves. They need to either put up or shut up.
As for McClellan, I doubt his book will be more than a one or two week wonder, especially if this Daily Kos article is any insight as to what the left thinks about him.
May 21, 2008
I've hit Obama pretty hard recently, so it's time for some fair play. Besides, I still haven't finished my review of Michael Ledeen's book on Iran, so that has been pushed off until tomorrow (again). Two articles today struck me as emblematic of why the GOP is facing such problems at the polls.
Both will make my liberal readers chortle, but I'm going to post them anyway. First up is this from The New York Times, in which the chairman of the RNC responds to the Democrat victory in a special Congressional contest in Mississippi in which they took a seat from the GOP
"This was a real wake-up call for us," Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues. We can't let them pretend to be conservatives and co-opt the middle and win these elections. We have to get the attention of our incumbents and candidates and make sure they understand this."
In response to this, Cal Thomas makes the obvious point
Democrats didn't steal your issues, sir. You abandoned them. Your party discarded them. Democrats simply engaged in dumpster harvesting.... Republicans traded in their ideas in favor of gaining and keeping power as their sole objective. The party wants credit for giving lip service to its abandoned ideology while practicing cave-in politics.
Yup, and I've been saying this for some time now: The post-Gingrich crowd on the Hill has been a disaster.
The second article is by Andy McCarthy, and he takes the Bush Administration, and Secretary of State Rice in particular, to task on their Iran policy.
Writing in National Review, McCarthy nails Rice and good:
We were dealing with an apocalyptic regime certain that radical Islam's global triumph was as imminent as the long lost Mahdi's arrival any day now. President Bush had said time and again that it was pointless to negotiate with terrorists because they are -- surprise! -- incorrigible. Yet, Secretary Rice convinced the president that the ball would really be advanced by [drum-roll] . . . direct U.S. negotiations with Iran.
Flash forward to 2008. The Democrats' presumptive (and increasingly less-compelling) nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, has rightly been ridiculed for his offer to meet, without preconditions, with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His stated policy is so patently idiotic that Obama, on the cusp of the brass ring, has been reduced to lying about whether he actually stated it (he did, repeatedly), and to dissembling about whether preconditions are the same thing as preparations he now purports to have envisioned all along.
Back to spring 2006. Iran was being particularly obstreperous about its nuclear-technology development. The State Department proposed direct negotiations -- i.e., face-to-face meetings between the president's emissaries and Ahmadinejad's subordinates.
What was the price? What stringent preconditions did Condi Rice persuade the president that we should demand?
A commitment to foreswear, or at least suspend, the development of nuclear weapons?
A commitment to refrain from abetting Iraqi insurgents in the murder of American troops?
A commitment to stop funding Hezbollah, the world's most adept terrorist organization -- and the one that, prior to 9/11, had trained al-Qaeda operatives and killed more Americans than any other?
A commitment to restrain its Revolutionary Guards and Qods force from targeting Americans?
A commitment to retract its threats to wipe Israel from the face of the earth?
Well . . . not exactly.
In the midst of the war on terror, at a time when the express policy of the United States was to regard and treat as terrorists the regimes that sponsor terrorism, in circumstances where Iran was actively coddling al-Qaeda and killing American soldiers, the Bush administration insisted on . . . no preconditions for negotiating with Iran.
Sure, Bush (unlike Obama) did not offer a personal sitdown with Ahmadinejad. But does that really matter? Top-level meeting or no meeting, what happened was a disgrace.
March 17, 2008
Iraqi Perspectives Project - Saddam and Terrorism - The Bush Administration
Yesterday I introduced the latest report from the Iraqi Perspectives Project (IPP); Saddam and Terrorism. I'll have more about it in later posts, but for now I wanted to discuss something else; the state of the Bush Administration and why they let this report get portrayed in a negative light.
And unless you only read right-wing blogs, it has been portrayed negatively. Many or most press reports have fixated on a single sentence in the Executive Summary, whereby the authors said that "This study found no 'smoking gun' (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda." Smugly satisfied that this alone "proved" that "Bush lied", they blithely ignored the rest of the report. As I illustrated yesterday, that single sentence proved nothing of the sort, and even a casual perusal of the rest of the report showed many links between Saddam's regime and all sorts of terrorist regimes, including indirect ones with al Qaeda. Indeed, unless you're a complete Bush-hater, the report quite condemned Saddam Hussein's regime.
There were also a few articles in the conservative press bemoaning the fact that the Bush Administration was nowhere to be found. Indeed, they have been almost completely AWOL in this entire affair, apparently happy to have it released and let events take their course. The administration has been totally silent on the IPP report.
This whole affair got me to thinking; in all the writing I've done about Iraq and the War on Jihadism ("War on Terror", or whatever we're going to call it), the administration has hardly figured at all. For military information I go directly to the source, relying on Pentagon press briefings and journalists in-country. For information on Jihadism and radical Islam, I rely on scholars and writers.
Indeed, most of my discussion of the administration over the past two years has been to criticize it. This post won't be much different.
To be fair, I haven't been universally critical of the administration. They did eventually recognize that the Rumsfeld/Abizaid/Casey strategy in Iraq was failing, and approved the "surge" plan, which was carried out by the winning team of Gates/Petraeus/Odierno.
But in 2006 and 2007 I did take the administration to task for many things; the Harriet Myers fiasco, the prolifigate spending, the belated recognition that our strategy in Iraq wasn't working, the inability to articulate or even try to make the case for Iraq or the wider war, their negligence in using our vast amounts of "soft power" in addition to military force, the fixation on the ridiculous "peace process" in the Middle East, and the refusal to say forthrightly that our enemy is more than just a gang of terrorists but an entire movement of Jihadists.
Obviously much of the media will be focused on the presidential campaign. Nevertheless, the administration should at least be trying to make itself relevant. The fact that it has figured so little in my writing speaks volumes about how they haven't.
Bill Kristol, writing on The Weekly Standard , tells us how and why they have been so absent when this most recent IPP report was released
If you talk to people in the Bush administration, they know the truth about the report. They know that it makes the case convincingly for Saddam's terror connections. But they'll tell you (off the record) it's too hard to try to set the record straight. Any reengagement on the case for war is a loser, they'll say. Furthermore, once the first wave of coverage is bad, you can never catch up: You give the misleading stories more life and your opponents further chances to beat you up in the media. And as for trying to prevent misleading summaries and press leaks in the first place--that's hopeless. Someone will tell the media you're behaving like Scooter Libby, and God knows what might happen next.
Ok, I understand the bit about not wanting to refight the reasons we went to Iraq. We are where we are and unless anyone can produce a time machine the only thing relevant at the moment is what we are going to do next. Most of those who insist on talking about why we went in are only looking to force a precipitous exit anyway. Let's save the histories for the next decade.
But when a major report does come out you have to take the bull by the horns and get out in front of the story. A basic rule of politics is that either you define the situation or your opponents will define it for you, and once they have done so it's almost impossible to get back in control of events.
David Frum, writing on his blog at National Review, summed it up
This is a psychologically broken administration: exhausted, passive, prematurely aged, self-defeated.
It is lying on the mat moaning as its opponents kick it, unwilling/unable to block a blow or raise a hand in self-defense.
The indifference to quality of personnel - always a problem - has now become the defining characteristic of the administration. The president continues to imagine he is pursuing one set of policies. But because he allows retiring principals to be succeeded by their deputies, and then those deputies to be followed by their deputies, he has passively acquiesced in allowing his administration to be staffed by people who regard his policies as at best impossible, at worst actively wrong. And then he is surprised when his administration does the opposite of what he wished! Of course it does! If you won't steer the car, it won't go where you want!
Frum believes that the moment when things started to go wrong came at the beginning, with the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as National Security Adviser. The reason, he says, was that bush "needed a strong figure at NSC to broker those clashes. Instead, he chose the weakest NSC adviser in that institution's history." The result was "a total breakdown of policy coordination."
I don't know enough about the inner workings of the administration to say whether that analysis is accurate or not. My take is more that the administration simply became exhausted by the Iraq War. The failure to advance Social Security reform in 2005 and the twin disasters of the Katrina hurricane and the appointment of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court derailed his domestic policy.
Either way, the failure to make the case for Iraq and Saddam's link to terror is inexcusable.
March 8, 2008
Let's Not Jump to Conclusions
As a child I used to love Sherlock Holmes stories. When I grew up I enjoyed the British television series starring Jeremy Brett. Often, and the beginning of a case, Watson would ask Holmes who he thought did it. Holmes would sternly advise Watson that he never speculated. No evidence, no conclusion.
i likewise caution my conservative friends to avoid jumping to conclusions regarding the bombing this week of the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Times Square.
It is certainly possible that a leftist anti-war extremist committed the attack. The motive for doing so is clear. And it's not as if military recruiting stations haven't been attacked, although not yet so violently. A bunch of leftists stormed and got inside one at 14th & L streets in Washington DC last month, and they bragged about it on DC Indymedia. The Berkeley CA Marine Corps Recruiting Station is under seige, and there are many more similar cases.
So yes, it would be logical for the police to consider the possibility that a leftist ani-war extremist did it. But that's hardly the only possibility.
Conservatives need to be careful and not jump to conclusions.
We've already seen that the anti-war letter sent to several members of Congress turn out not to have been related to the bombing. Yet when it was first announced that there was such a letter I saw many posts by people who seemed quite certain that it was all tied together.
It's possible that instead of a leftist, the bombing was committed by a right-wing militia member. The militia movement in the United States is larger than most people realize. In one of the less heralded accomplishments of law enforcement, the movement was largely defanged after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. But there are still a lot of militia members who hate our government and military every bit as much as the far left.
It's also possible that it was done by someone who had been denied entrance into the military for mental reasons and so decided to bomb the center.
It's possible that it was done by an ex-soldier who has a grudge against the military.
It's possible that it was done by someone with a personal grudge against one of the recruiters that has nothing do do with the military at all.
There are a whole universe of possibilities.
I think you'll all recall that it was initially assumed by many that the Oklahoma City bombing was committed by a Muslim truck bomber. There was certainly precedent for such an act, and if Timothy McVeigh had not been caught so quickly one would have expected the police to make Muslim extremists one area of inquiry. But one would have also expected them to pursue other possibilities, including the militia movement.
I'm not saying that a leftist anti-war extremist didn't do the bombing. I'm saying that those who jump to that conclusion before all of the facts are known run a serious risk of ending up with egg on their faces. That's all.
October 6, 2007
Can We Question Their Patriotism Now?
According to a new Fox News poll, "nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq"
Here are the details; The poll was conducted by telephone on Sept 25 & 26. The total sample was 900 registered voters nationwide, giving it a margin of error of +/-3%.
The relevant question is this one
Do you personally think the world would be better off if the United States loses the war in Iraq?
Don't get me wrong; I'm just as disturbed by the 5% of Republicans and 7% of Independents who would answer such a question in the affirmative as I am the Democrats. For that matter, I cannot imagine how anyone could say they don't know. Of the Republicans, my guess is they're Ron Paul types.
The best I could say for someone who would think that "the world would be better off" is that they buy into the lies that we are wantonly massacaring Iraqis, and that if we left the violence would magically cease. They probably also believe that it is a war fought to steal Iraqi oil, or to benefit "big business" like Halliburton, or some such thing.
The poll question looks pretty straightforward to me. I don't see how someone could complain that it was worded poorly, or that the results have been twisted out of context or something.
The bottom line is that almost 1 in 5 Democrats, and 1 in 20 Republicans want their country to lose a war. This is not a question of why we went in, or should we stay, or whether the war is winnable. By agreeing with question they want us to lose, and as such deserve to have their patriotism questioned.
August 28, 2007
The Senator Craig Affair
As I think we all know by now, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct after being arrested in a men's toilet at the Minneapolis airport. This is actually a lesser charge to which he pled guilty, the original one being gross misdemeanor interference to privacy.
From news reports he went to court without a lawyer. He now says that he regrets pleading guilty and wishes that he had fought the charge. Mark Levin read the actual police report on his talk show earlier this evening, and it seems clear to me that whether or not Craig's behavior met the standards required for conviction (and it is a debatable point) it seems to me that in all probability he was looking for gay sex.
Let me go on the record as saying that Senator Craig ought to resign immediately. If he does not, the Senate GOP needs to demand his resignation.
A quick search of google for "Larry Craig hypocrite" predicably turned up a few hundred hits. No doubt many leftists and those who hate social conservatives and our values are having a field day. The general charge is that social conservative values are wrong and evil because Senator Craig and others are hypocrites.
So what of this issue of hypocrisy?
I've dealt with all this before (see links at bottom), but give this unfortunate incident I may as well go through it again.
Hypocrisy is a bad thing, but it is not the worst thing. Worse than saying right but doing wrong, is doing and saying wrong.
Hugh Heffner is not a hypocrite. Disgraced preacher Ted Haggard is. Although both have done wrong, Heffner is clearly the worst of the two.
Either an argument is right or it is wrong. Arguments, like facts, exist in and of themselves. Whether they are correct or not is independent of the person making them.
Al Gore is a hypocrite on the issue of environmentalism. He preaches the gospel of global warming yet lives in an energy wasteful house. He jets around hither and yon. But does this mean that global warming is a fraud? Of course not. Whether global warming is real, is caused by mankind, and whether Kyoto is the proper response are completely separate issues.
So the charge of hypocrisy, even when accurate, says nothing about the rightness or wrongness of an argument. You can always find someone on the other side of an who is a hypocrite. If you insist that absolutely no one on the other side of a debate be a hypocrite, you're setting an unrealistic condition.
Surely one should avoid hypocrisy. More importantly, hypocrites themselves should not be the ones making the case. So Al Gore should not be the one making the case for global warming and Kyoto, and Mark Foley should not have been head of the house subcommittee on exploited children, or Ted Haggard should not have preached against the gay lifestyle, or Larry Craig being so vocal on "family values".
Much of the time, the charge of hypocrisy is a way of avoiding debate on the subject at hand. As such, I try and avoid using the charge as part of my arguments. I'm not saying I'm perfect here, folks, just that I don't use the charge of hypocrisy as a general tactic.
The bottom line is that people on the cultural left who cry hypocrisy at social conservatives are doing so because they don't want to change their lifestyle, and they want to avoid discussing values. For that matter, people on the right who obsess over whether Al Gore is an environmental hypocrite are guilty of the same thing. It's about that simple.
1) Hypocrisy is a bad thing, but not the worst thing. Worse than speaking good but doing bad is speaking bad and doing bad.
2) Centering one's argument around the charge of hypocrisy avoids debating the issue on it's merits. This does not serve the public well.
3) People who claim that they can't take the other side's argument seriously because of "rampant hypocrisy" are setting an impossible standard. It is human nature that there will always be hypocrites on every side of every issue.
4) If you hold yourself to no standards or loose standards, you avoid the charge of hypocrisy. However, see #1.
August 25, 2007
Why Wait for Petraeus?
General Petraeus is due to make his report to Congress on September 11. It would appear, however, that many in Congress have already made up their minds.
Senator Warner seems to have already made his decision. He's now announced that the President should announce a withdrawal right now. At a press conference in Washington yesterday
Virginia Senator John Warner said President George W. Bush should begin withdrawing troops from Iraq on Sept. 15 to show the Iraqi government that the U.S. commitment there isn't open-ended.
Bush should announce that ``we will start an orderly, carefully planned, thought-out redeployment,'' said Warner, 80, a Republican and former Navy secretary who three times chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Thanks, Senator. Democrats didn't waste anytime using this against the President. From the AP
Democrats say the grim (NIE) report and Warner's conclusion bolster their position that Bush should change course and start bringing troops home this fall. Party leaders this year tried to pass legislation ordering troops home this fall, but repeatedly fell short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass.
In addition, yesterday radio talk-show hostLaura Ingraham played several clips of various media talking heads crowing over Senator Warner's statement. They seem almost joyous that this could lead to the defections of more Republicans
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division-Center and 3rd Infantry Division, was asked directly about Warner's comments at a press briefing on Friday, and he swatted down the notion that in the short run we can safely withdraw troops.
Q: General, Jim Miklaszewski with NBC. After his visit to Iraq last weekend, Senator John Warner said yesterday that he's recommending to the president that the U.S. begin to withdraw its forces from Iraq as early as December. From somebody who's conducting combat operations on the ground there, what's your reaction to that? How do you think that would affect your ability to conduct those operations?
GEN. LYNCH: Yeah, thanks for that question, Jim. You know, what I find now -- as you all know, I was in Iraq, went away for 10 months, came back again -- and really the difference that's happening right now is twofold. One is, we're not commuting to work. In my battlespace there are 29 patrol bases that we have occupied, and we're out there with the local citizens. Being out with the local citizens allows us to let them know they're going to be secure, and as a result of that, they come to us with all sorts of actionable intelligence. And that's what happens.
And the other piece is the ability of the surge forces. You know, we now have units; we can take the fight to the enemy. If we were to lose that capability, I believe the enemy would just come back. What I've found studying the enemy is, he’s got amazing ability to fill the void. And it takes him about 48 hours. If it's an area that's no longer secure, he's going to fill that void in about 48 hours.
And any of the locals who are helping the coalition secure -- they're now subject to atrocious acts of violence, and we can't let that happen.
This is going to take some time. You know, we've always said the level of coalition forces is a function of three things. It's the level of the insurgency, it's the capability of Iraqi security forces, and it's the capacity of the Iraqi government at the national, provincial and local levels.
And in my battlespace right now, if soldiers were to leave, coalition soldiers were to leave, having fought hard for that terrain, having denied the enemy their sanctuaries, what happens is, the enemy would come back. He'd start building the bombs again, he'd start attacking the locals again, and he'd start exporting that violence into Baghdad, and we would take a giant step backwards.
So in my battlespace, in Multinational Division-Center battlespace, I need the forces I have until I can transition to sustained security presence by the Iraqi security forces. And that's going to take some time.
Earlier Lynch made clear exactly why it is important that Iraqis know that we are not going to pull out anytime soon but are going to stick it out.
We get to an area, the locals there, the first question they ask is, "Are you staying?" And once they're convinced we're staying, the question then becomes, "How can we help?" What we see as a result of that commitment is Iraqi citizens are coming forward and they're indeed saying, "What can we do to help?"
Here's the video, which I encourage you to watch in it's entirety, because he talks about a lot more than I can cover in this post.
Throughout this war various people have said that the President wasn't listening to his generals, that he was letting Secretary Rumsfeld run the war all by himself. The other complaint was that we didn't have enough troops in theater.
With the firing of Rumsfeld and the adoption of the "surge" plan, the President has alleviated both concerns.
But I worry that some in congress have already made up their minds. As a result they want to get out ahead of the general and push their agenda before he shows up. I think this is what Warner was trying to do.
If he had simply recommended that we threaten Maliki et al with withdrawal if his government doesn't get its act together, that would be one thing. Such a recommendation would be premature, I think, but I wouldn't object quite so much. He appears to have gone much further, however, actually saying that we ought to actually start the withdrawal.
Earlier this month I wrote that based on comments by Senators Durbin and Casey, the Democrat line after Petraeus gives his report will be that although military progress has been made, political progress is lacking, so we need to withdraw the troops. If that's going to be the Democrat line, the one for Republicans who follow Warner may be that we need to withdraw to show the central Iraqi government that they need to get their act together or else.
Ralph Peters says that Senator Warner has got "green-zone view"
He's got target-lock on the Baghdad government's failings, and, a titan of government himself, he can't get beyond the perfidy, greed and sectarian viciousness of Iraq's politicians.
But the future of Iraq's government is, frankly, less than half of the equation at this point. Whatever may have been the situation is 2003, today Iraq is the main front in the war against Islamist terror and fanaticism. Our enemies have made it so.
Of the two simultaneous missions under way - maturing a responsible government and advancing our own strategic interests - the latter is far more important. In fact, it's vital. And on that track, we're making stunning progress.
Here is some additional insight on the issue of political progress from the editors of National Review
The new National Intelligence Estimate reports “measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation,” and says a shift from counterinsurgency operations to efforts simply to train Iraqis “would erode security gains achieved so far.” On the other hand, the estimate is grim on the prospects of the Maliki government that, it predicts, “will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months.” Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has become a favored target of Democrats this week as they shift the focus from military progress to the failure to meet the political benchmarks set out along with the surge in January. Trying to placate her Democratic critics, Clinton said on Wednesday, “The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution. It has failed.”
This is too simplistic. The surge has failed to enable legislative progress on the part of the central government (i.e., the benchmarks), but important political progress has been taking place in Iraq. The turn of the Sunni tribes away from al Qaeda and toward us is a crucial political development. If anyone had thought this was possible at the beginning of the year (it wasn’t even mentioned in the January 2007 NIE), it might have been included as a benchmark and considered the most important one. Are we really supposed to discount this political progress because it happened in a manner and on a timetable that no one would have predicted?
The Democrats’ counsel of despair would only make sense if we had sent another 30,000 troops to Iraq to pursue a new strategy and nothing had come of it. Instead, we have seen results and the NIE forecasts more (“modest”) progress on the military front if we maintain our counter-insurgency operations.
It has become a favorite line of the left that "there can be no military solution". This is not correct. It would be accurate to say that "there can be no purely military solution", but a "pure" military solution has never been our strategy and isn't now. Further, it is just as accurate to say that "there can be no purely political solution".
The question is the proper mix of the two. As I've said many times, I think now that we got it wrong our first several years; we put political progress ahead of military operations. The lesson, I believe, is that political progress can only come after extremist groups have been smashed by smart counter-insurgency tactics, which involves what the military calls kinetic operations. Sitting back, training Iraqis, and letting them go out alone doesn't work, at least not yet.
General Petraeus will give us all the facts when he makes his presentation to congress starting Sept 11. Members of Congress should at least wait until then before making their recommenations. In the meantime, they ought to listen to generals like Rick Lynch.
June 23, 2007
The Dead Bush Doctrine
This past February Secretary Rice announced that the United States was going to "talk" with Iran and Syria over the future of Iraq. Although she quiclkly "clarified" that the talks would't be direct, it didn't really matter. After 9-11 President Bush announced that "you're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." Because both Iran and Syria are state sponsors of terror, at the time I announced that the Bush Doctrine was dead.
Now the Bush Administration has pledged it's support for Fatah in the wake of Hamas' takover of Gaza. We're even going to send them $60 million to "upgrade Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard and for other security expenses". No doubt in the months to come we'll see more announcements of programs designed to prop up Fatah, as our "partner in peace".
We allowed al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent terrorist groups refuge in Iran and Syria. We refused to attack their bases or supply depots there. We have done nothing about Hezbollah in Lebanon, other than force a "peace" settlement on Israel that does nothinb but give the terrorist group time to rearm.
For a few years Bush insisted on the "six party talks" format with North Korea, but has now seeminly abandoned that and has rewarded the DPRK with direct talks.
At the beginning of his term he refused to buy into the global warming hype, but at the recent G8 summit appeared to acquiese to at least part of the environmental agenda. While this isn't directly related to the "Bush Doctrine", I think it does show how far the administration has fallen in holding onto it's original beliefs.
All this is making the left chortle with glee. But then they've always wanted us to abandon Iraq to it's fate, make nice with every Palestinian terrorist group and Arab dictator (witness Speaker Pelosi's trip to Damascus).
Regarding the Bush Administration's new policy, I think that Andrew McCarthy has it right when he describes it as "Our Terrorists Are Better Than Your Terrorists"
The Palestinians are a backward people, indoctrinated toward brutality. They don’t rate a sovereign state or anyone’s help until they civilize themselves. Sovereignty is a privilege that implies acceptance of civilized norms — that is why we speak of states like Iran and North Korea as “rogues.” Regardless of whether there really are scattered Palestinian moderates, it is a dangerous fantasy to assume the Palestinian people, as a whole, are ready to be anyone’s peace partner.
We are enabling their hatred when we provide support without insisting that the Palestinian people — not just Abbas and Fatah, but the people — convincingly foreswear revolution, terrorism, violence, ethnic-cleansing, and the goal of eliminating Israel. We are a generation or more, at least, from any hope of such developments. In the meantime, as long as we subsidize the hatred, we shall be buying more of it, while giving the Palestinians no incentive to reform.
Tough words about the Palestinians, but it's hard to see things otherwise. If by some magic every Israeli settlement disppeared and the Palestinians got an internationally recognized state tomorrow with at least part of Jerusalem as it's capital, all they'd do is use it as a base from which to attack Israel. And murder each other.
There isn't going to be any "two state solution", as long as either Fatah or Hamas are in charge. Neither wants to live side by side with Israel. We're only fooling ourselves by trying to play one off of the other.
What Fatah Stands For
Fatah is basically a terrorist organization. Its very name means "conquest", that which is supposed to happen during or after a jihad; the holy war leads to conquest. They don't choose these names by accident or without considering their meaning. Fatah was created by the late terror master himself, Yasser Arafat. It was operatives from Fatah which formed Black September, the group which carried out the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich.
Today the organization is led by Mahmoud Abbas (or "Abu Mazen", or whatever name he goes by these days). If Arafat was a street punk grown up to be the local crime boss,
...suggested that the figure of six million Jews murdered by the Nazis was a false one, "peddled" by the Jews. To bolster that thesis, he quotes known Holocaust revisionists as authoritative sources. Seeking conspiracy theories that would serve Arab interests, Abu Mazen also wrote that the Zionist movement "led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule... to expand the mass extermination." Zionists, he contends, collaborated with the Nazis to murder Jews, in order to gain sympathy for the creation of the State of Israel.
And this is the guy we're trying to make nice with. This is insane.
Look at Fatah's Constitution. Under "Goals", we have
Article (12) Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
Article (13) Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city, and protecting the citizens' legal and equal rights without any racial or religious discrimination.
"Complete liberation" does not mean the West Bank and Gaza. It means that and the whole of Israel too.
Here's the Fatah logo, which you get get straight off of their website at Fateh.net
According to Wikipedia
The Fatah official emblem shows two fists holding rifles and a hand grenade superimposed on a map of historic Palestine (i.e. British Mandate borders, including present-day Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip)
In other words, they want the whole thing.
Elsewhere, on their website, Fatah insists on the "right of return".
The Right of Return is one in which the Palestinians insist that the refugees, and their descendants, allegedly displaced during the 1948 war of independence, have the right to return to Israel proper and claim the land that they say they owned. Depending on which website you believe, this would mean anywhere from 3.5 to 6 million Arabs moving into Israel, a country of 6 million Jews and 1 million Arabs. The clear purpose of the "right of return" is to destroy Israel.
See now why peace with Fatah is impossible?
Until they change their ways we are wasting our time with them. President Clinton was probably smart when he invited Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000 to try and hammer out an agreement based on the 1993 Oslo Accords (the ones which established the "roadmap for peace". Arafat refused all reasonable offers, and the situation has deteriorated every since. Anything we do for them needs to be conditioned on improving their record on human rights, corruption, and terrorism, as Eric Cantor suggests. To do otherwise is to lend aid to our enemies. You know, the ones the President Bush at one time said we were against.
June 3, 2007
What a Shame
Peggy Noonan's Friday column in the Wall Street Journal, "Too Bad", has been getting much deserved attention on conservative blogs. So even though you've probably already read it, I thought it worth attention here because much of her column reflects my own views on Presidents Bush 41 and 43. She might not have it all quite right but she's definitely on the right track.
Her piece is mostly a lament about wasted political capital and what might have been. Conservatives are not breaking with the White House, she says, but rather Bush has broken with them (or us). This is simply the final straw in a long train of abuses, from out-of-control federal spending, to a Ted Kennedy-written education bill, to the appointment of Harriet Myers, to the Supreme Court to the incompetence of Alberto Gonzales we have been let down.
As Noonan tells it,
For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don't like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don't like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.
But on immigration it has changed from "Too bad" to "You're bad."
The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic--they "don't want to do what's right for America." His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, "We're gonna tell the bigots to shut up." On Fox last weekend he vowed to "push back." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want "mass deportation." Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are "anti-immigrant" and suggested they suffer from "rage" and "national chauvinism."
Conservatives put up with it because one, we generally support OEF and OIF, and two the Democrats have been gulping the anti-war coolaid. So despite the abuses, we've supported the president. But now we're essentially told that we're racists because we don't support what amounts to amnesty for illegal aliens.
Why is the administration behaving this way? Noonan has some ideas:
I suspect the White House and its allies have turned to name calling because they're defensive, and they're defensive because they know they have produced a big and indecipherable mess of a bill--one that is literally bigger than the Bible, though as someone noted last week, at least we actually had a few years to read the Bible. The White House and its supporters seem to be marshalling not facts but only sentiments, and self-aggrandizing ones at that. They make a call to emotions--this is, always and on every issue, the administration's default position--but not, I think, to seriously influence the debate.
They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!
I think she's onto something. Bush has also been pandering to the global-warming alarmists, making noises to the effect that "hey I'm onboard too you know! I want to do the right thing too!"
One has to wonder if it's all sheer political opportunism. But if he thinks that embracing leftist causes like amnesty for illegals and global warming will win him any friends he's dreaming. Those who hate him will at this point continue to hate him anyway. And if he's after "legacy" he's dreaming too, because that's wrapped up in the war, whatever name you want to give it.
Some commentators insist that all of President Bush's problems are tied to Iraq. I disagree. Sure, had we destroyed the insurgency early on his troubles would be lessened, I think that the immigration fiasco illustrates that he'd still be in trouble, perhaps more so.
Let's face it, conservatives rally 'round a Republican president over military affairs, and tend to support the mission through thick and thin. Without Iraq though there's just a vague "War on Terror" (terribly misnamed). Given his abysmal performace from a conservative perspective on domestic policies, we'd have deserted him much longer ago. And while without Iraq the left may not hate him with such virulence, they'd still never vote for him.
So even with Iraq as it is, if the president had performed credibly on domestic issues he'd still have a strong conservative base to support him. But even that is gone now.
Noonan ends by comparing reviewing how George H W Bush squandered the legacy handed to him by Reagan, and how his son is squandering his by throwing away the base that elected him.
One of the things I have come to think the past few years is that the Bushes, father and son, though different in many ways, are great wasters of political inheritance. They throw it away as if they'd earned it and could do with it what they liked. Bush senior inherited a vibrant country and a party at peace with itself. He won the leadership of a party that had finally, at great cost, by 1980, fought itself through to unity and come together on shared principles. Mr. Bush won in 1988 by saying he would govern as Reagan had. Yet he did not understand he'd been elected to Reagan's third term. He thought he'd been elected because they liked him. And so he raised taxes, sundered a hard-won coalition, and found himself shocked to lose his party the presidency, and for eight long and consequential years. He had many virtues, but he wasted his inheritance.
Bush the younger came forward, presented himself as a conservative, garnered all the frustrated hopes of his party, turned them into victory, and not nine months later was handed a historical trauma that left his country rallied around him, lifting him, and his party bonded to him. He was disciplined and often daring, but in time he sundered the party that rallied to him, and broke his coalition into pieces. He threw away his inheritance. I do not understand such squandering.
Now conservatives and Republicans are going to have to win back their party. They are going to have to break from those who have already broken from them. This will require courage, serious thinking and an ability to do what psychologists used to call letting go. This will be painful, but it's time. It's more than time.
What a shame.
September 12, 2006
Ralph Peters is Right
Mostly right, anyway.
I've several right-wing (I won't call them conservative) sites in which the authors and commenters are convinced that Islam is a religion of hate, violence, it is evil, unreformable, the whole bit. Anyone who dares to disagree is a dhimmi. Once I see where the comments are going I usually don't chime in, as there's no point.
Anyone who's read more than this post knows that I believe that Islam as it is currently practiced by all too many Muslims has a problem with violence. Far too many Muslims are completely hypocritical on the issue of military force, unable or unwilling to understand the difference between direct attacks on civilians and attacks on military targets where civilians are killed as an unfortunate byproduct (hmm, many Western liberals are confused there too). They excuse terrorism with weasel words. Abuse of women and total lack of civil rights are the hallmarks of most Islamic societies. I could go on but you get the point.
But I, like Peters, am making very careful and precise arguments. What we are arguing against is the view that Islam is innately evil, not that it doesn't have problems, which it most certainly does.
Peters doesn't name names, but I will.
I do not regard Little Green Footballs as "anti-Islam", for example, but as anti-radical Islam. Ditto Michelle Malkin and the staff of National Review. I listen to a lot of conservative talk-radio, and the only one I'd consider to be an Islam-hater is Michael Savage(which is why I won't listen to him (btw, it while listening to the Laura Ingraham show that I first heard about Peter's editorial. She had him on as a guest to discuss it). There's also people like Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson, but I think they're off the reservation anyway.
It's Mainly Bloggers
Peters doesn't name anyone in his column, and from what I can tell he's mainly going after small-time bloggers and people who send him email. It's easy to sit behind your computer and use an anonymous and untraceable handle while you write the most extreme stuff and denounce your opponents. I've fallen for that trap myself a few times. But before you write something, the question you ought to ask yourself is this: Would I say this in front of a CNN news crew if I knew my name and face would be blasted across the globe? If not, don't say it.
The Reaction from the Right
I haven't followed much of it, and don't have time to search around. Michelle Malkin got all bent out of shape, as did Mark Levin. What's interesting is that neither seem to have actually read his column, or if they did, just assumed he was talking about them. Levin links to a few absolutely unhinged articles to "prove" his point.
Peters took part in a 9/11 symposium with Lt Gen Tom McInerney (Ret), Jed Babbin, and Andy McCarthy, hosted by FrontPage Magazine. The debate got a bit over heated, and both sides seemed to be more talking past each other, and in more than one part Peters went too far. Otherwise it's worth the read.
They say that family fights are the worst, and this is no exception.
And In Case You Think Peters is a Dhimmi
Consider that in July he wrote an editorial titled "Kill, Don't Capture"
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.
Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.
He discusses the " oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions" and how they do not apply to terrorists. His conclusion is that
Conferring unprecedented legal status upon these murderous transnational outlaws is unnecessary, unwise and ultimately suicidal. It exalts monsters. And it provides the anti-American pack with living vermin to anoint as victims, if not heroes.
Isn't it time we gave our critics what they're asking for? Let's solve the "unjust" imprisonment problem, once and for all. No more Guantanamos! Every terrorist mission should be a suicide mission. With our help.
Ouch. Even I have a bit of a problem going that far.
One Reason for the Reaction
It's no excuse, but so many liberals are so blinded by political correctness that they refuse to see that there are any problems at all within Islam. Either that, or they start trying to draw comparisons between radical Islam and "radical Christianity", as if the latter has spouted any terrorist groups of substance.
Or maybe it's just because we have to listen to idiots like Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), that we tend to get carried away on the right. Now remove all throwing objects from your reach before you read this:
In remarks before the Arab American Institute today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold called on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic fascists," an offensive and misleading term. The administration has used this phrase increasingly when talking about al Qaeda, its affiliates and its sympathizers. Feingold says the use of the term "Islamic fascists" actually hurts our efforts in fighting terrorism globally because it alienates peaceful Muslims around the world whose support we need in fighting terrorism.
"I call on the President to stop using the phrase "Islamic fascists", a label that doesn't make any sense, and certainly doesn't help our effort to build a coalition of societies to fight terrorism," Feingold said. "The President has often correctly referred to Islam as a religion of peace, but this reckless language, much like his prior reference to the fight against al Qaeda as a 'crusade,' completely cuts the other way. Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam."
Now there's a real dhimmi for you.
September 9, 2006
Islam-Haters: Another Enemy Within
Ralph Peters has said in an editorial titled Islam-Haters: An Enemy Within something that I've been thinking for some time, that there are too many bloggers on the right who are going too far in their condemnation of Islam.
The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn't the irresponsible nonsense on the left - destructive though that is. The really ugly "domestic insurgency" is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.
How? By insisting that Islam can never reform, that the violent conquest and subjugation of unbelievers is the faith's primary agenda - and, when you read between the lines, that all Muslims are evil and subhuman.
I've received no end of e-mails and letters seeking to "enlighten" me about the insidious nature of Islam. Convinced that I'm naive because I defend American Muslims and refuse to "see" that Islam is 100 percent evil, the writers warn that I'm a foolish "dhimmi," blind to the conspiratorial nature of Islam.
Peters goes on, and you'll want to read the whole thing, but I think you get the point.
I've read this sort of thing too in posts and comments on right-wing blogs; "Islam is evil", "we are (or should be) in a war against Islam", or some such similar things.
I agree with Peters that this sort of thing is wrong, and here's why.
Let me say right now that I am not talking about things like stopping or reducing Muslim immigration. I think that the Europeans should slow down or stop immigration into their countries by Muslims, and need to work hard to assimilate those that have. Nor, heaven knows, am I saying that the way Islam is practiced by many is not evil. Further, I am disgusted at how moderate Muslims (and yes they exist) have not done more to confront and counter the radicals. Many Mosques in Western countries are infiltrated by radicals and the Muslim community is not doing nearly enough to root them out.
But none of this the same as saying that Islam is evil. I am a Christian, and as such believe that Islam is a false religion. But it is not evil.
And for the record, Peters is "no Pollyanna." He's a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel who is about as gung-ho on the war as you can get.
I'm all for killing terrorists, rather than taking them prisoner. I know we're in a fight for our civilization. But the fight is with the fanatics - a minority of a minority - not with those who simply worship differently than those of us who grew up with the Little Brown Church in the Vale.
The basic distinction here is between the theory of a religion and the way it is actually practiced. I'm no theologian, but I have read and studied most of the Bible, and I'll tell you that some of the books read like World War II on the Eastern Front. If you don't believe me, go through books like Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Chronicals, or even Esther. The Hebrews, God's chosen people, kill and conquer to obtain and keep the promised land, and their actions are all sanctioned by God.
Yes I know, the New Testament and all that. But the Bible has to be taken as a whole, and you can't dismiss the books I cited.
And let's face it, the way Christianity has been practiced hasn't always been so nice. Before the Treaty of Westphalia, religious wars were the norm in Europe, and it was all Christian vs Christian. We weren't terribly nice when we conquered or reconquered lands from the Muslims, either.
But we reformed, proving that it can be done. Yes I know there are differences, and heaven knows I'm no multiculturalist. As I said, I believe that Christianity is the one true religion. But this isn't about theology, it's about culture and war. And I'm going to agree with Peters that you're a bigot if you believe that "Islam is evil".
Besides, how do you fight a war against an entire religion? Do we kill all one billion plus Muslims? Or just beat them into submission? Interestingly, most of those I've read who say that "Islam is evil" also support our war in Iraq, one whose purpose is not to conquer Muslims but help build a modern Muslim society. How they square that circle is beyond me.
The bottom line is this; we're not in a war against Islam, we're in a war against Islamic fascism/fanaticism/jihad, call it what you will. The way Islam is practiced now in many ways is wrong and needs to be changed. We face a threat from unassimilated fanatical Muslims in Europe and to a lesser extent in the United States. And it will be extremely difficult to reform the way Islam is practiced, and it will be decades if not centuries before the job is complete, and when it is they won't be quite like us.
But let's not fall into the same trap that the left falls into, with an unwritten rule of "no enemies on the left". We should have the courage to denounce those of us who go too far. And if you're saying that "Islam is evil", then you've gone too far and are not part of the problem.
May 16, 2006
Carl Rove is Wrong
Carl Rove blames Bush's poll numbers on the Iraq war.
Karl Rove yesterday said the continuing war in Iraq rather than President Bush's actions on federal spending, immigration and Social Security is driving the president's job-approval ratings to record lows, but that will change by November.
"The war looms over everything, there's no doubt about it," the White House chief political strategist said in fielding questions from reporters after his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank with close ties to the Bush administration.
The public continues to give Mr. Bush high personal approval ratings, but assessments of his job performance are low. The latest Harris-Wall Street Journal poll showed 29 percent of Americans approved of the president's performance.
Mr. Rove, 55, said the reason is that the war has put voters in a "sour" mood. The Iraq situation, he said, is distracting public attention from the robust 4.8 percent annual growth rate of the economy, an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent, the creation of 5.2 million jobs since August 2003 and the strong performance of the stock markets.
No doubt the war in Iraq is part of the problem. The invasion was brilliant, we screwed up the next 18 months, but are now largely on track. Much of the public only sees the 18 months or so after the invasion, and the stories of how we've turned things around don't get through to many people, especially those who depend on traditional media sources for their news.
But Carl Rove has it exactly opposite; the only reason why President Bush has any positive poll ratings at all is precisely because of the war in Iraq. There is a base who supports him because he took the bold and necessary step of taking the strategic offensive against the enemy, and for recognizing that the defensive war that the liberals want us to fight in the War on Terror is dead wrong.
The Real Reason for Low Polls
There are two reasons for Bush's low poll ratings.
Failure to seriously address the problem of illegal immigration is only the latest in a series of disappointments. In last night's speech the president insisted on finding a "third way" on the issue, one what will end up pleasing no one.
The second reason for his low poll numbers is that the administration seems completely unable to communicate their successes to the public. As such, the middle doesn't recoginze that the economy is in very good shape. You can always pick on one or two statistics, but most economic indicators are very positive. Likewise the war in Iraq. If it wasn't for the internet and reports like this one you'd never know that much was going right over there.
The GOP is fixated on the issue of Hispanic voters, and seems convinced that if they do anything at all serious about controlling the southern border they'll face this huge backlash at the polls. But just the opposite is happening. They are facing a huge backlash from their base precisely because they're not doing anything. This idea that the future of the GOP is tied to keeping or gaining Hispanic voters, who presumably don't want to do anything about illegal aliens, is going to cost them dearly at the polls.
April 24, 2006
And Now for the Other End of Pennsylvania Avenue
Guess which members of Congress wrote this letter:
April 24, 2006
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
In the wake of unprecedented increases in worldwide demand for gasoline, particularly in China and India, coupled with other factors, American consumers are facing record prices for gasoline at the pump. Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted. Therefore, we believe that Federal law enforcement agencies and regulators should take every available step to ensure that all Federal laws protecting American consumers from price-fixing, collusion, gouging and other anti-competitive practices are vigorously enforced.
We respectfully request that you direct the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to investigate any potential collusion, price-fixing or gouging in the sale or distribution of gasoline, petroleum distillates or ethanol in wholesale and retail markets. We further request that scrutiny be directed to refining, the transportation of fuel by pipelines, marine vessels and trucks, storage and marketing activities and retail practices to determine if there is any unlawful manipulation of the price of gasoline. Sweeps of retail distribution centers should be undertaken to ensure that retail price movements are in response to a change in market conditions and not price gouging. Finally, we recommend that the Federal Trade Commission examine whether spot shortages of gasoline are the result of illegal efforts to manipulate prices.
Ted Kennedy? nope
Chuck Schumer? nope
How about Bernie Sanders? sorry, try again.
Give up? Read on:
Given the severity of the current situation regarding gas prices, we believe that the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission should devote all necessary resources to expedited review of complaints of price gouging against wholesalers or retailers of gasoline and other distillates.
Additionally, we request that you direct the Chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to bring heightened scrutiny to the trading of energy futures and derivatives to determine whether spikes in prices of oil, gasoline and other petroleum distillates are a result of improper market manipulation by traders or by energy firms.
We believe that protecting American consumers in these unprecedented market conditions is of paramount importance. We know that you share these goals. Consistent with our constitutional authority, we will ask the committees of jurisdiction to conduct oversight of these important questions.
The Honorable Dennis Hastert The Honorable Bill Frist
Speaker Majority Leader
No, they couldn't recommend something sensible like reducing onerous enviromental regulations so that new refineries could be built, or push for drilling in ANWAR or off the coast of Florida, or even propose some new program to convince Americans that driving a huge SUV with one person in it to work is not the smartest move (readers will note that I did not call for CAFE regulations).
Carterism, here we come, courtesy of the Congressional Republicans.
Can We Fire Congress?
Rich Lowry asks if we can fire Congress:
This oil thing is, needless to say, idiotic. But it points to a larger issue: the GOP problem at the moment is by no means limited to the White House, as folks on Capitol Hill would have it, but very much includes Congress. Bush can get himself a top-notch White House staff firing on all cylinders and consulting like crazy with Congress, but if Capitol Hill is still run by what often seems a bunch of bungling, spend-thrift, unreformable, tin-eared, unimaginative, hysterical pols, not much is going to change.
Take the opportunity the House had with the selection of John Boehner as majority leader. He was a relative fresh face to most of the public, even if, obviously, not a stranger to K Street. What came of this departure? Very little. Did the GOP take advantage of the moment to institute some serious ethics and earmarks reforms? Of course not. Now, in this moment of political crisis, over in the senate the GOP has come up with the $700 million "railway to nowhere," just in time to remind conservatives why they are so dispirited, if they had by any chance forgotten. Then there's the immigration charade, with the GOP unable press what should be--given public opinion--their advantage on the issue and unable to exploit Democratic divisions on it.
On top of all this, they are running pell-mell from Bush with no or little purpose beyond pure panic, when Bush is more actually more popular than they are (Bush's approval is at 33%, Congress' at 25%; Bush's approval rating is 66% among Republicans, Congress' is at 28%). So tell me: Which end of Pennsylvania Avenue is most in need of a shake-up?
We've only got 6 months to turn things around. My only consolation at this point is that the Democrats would be worse.
April 21, 2006
Too Little Too Late?
When I'm reading this sort of stuff From Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, you know there are problems in the GOP
Remember that cheesy ad for some TV product back in the day that featured an elderly woman saying, "Help--I've fallen and I can't get up"? Well, that's the Bush White House and the national GOP at the moment. The latest Gallup poll has Bush's approval rating at 36%, and congressional approval at 23%. The satisfied-with-the-way-things-are-going-in-the-U.S. number is at 27%. I hate to say it but the comparison that Dick Morris makes today between Bush and Carter--just in terms of sheer listlessness and a foreign event draining all of a president's strength--has occurred to me more than once recently. What is most disturbing is that as their boat heads steadily toward a disastrous trip over the falls, neither Bush nor the GOP seems to feel any urgency about changing direction, nor seem to have any good ideas about how to do it if they wanted to. (Not that my ideas, or Morris'--drug testing in schools???--are that great either.)
"No urgency" Yup, that about sums it up.
A few recent changes at the White House won't change anything. A new press secretary and job for Carl Rove is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
This critique of the Bush Administration, however, should not please liberals too much, for I wish they would be more, not less, conservative. I sounded off about this entire issue last week. It's not foreign policy that we conservatives are so concerned about, but it's the domestic stuff that gets us going.
Can anything be done, or is it too late?
The staff of NRO thought the situation serious enough that they editorialized on it yesterday. Money quotes
Congress is not going to be in session for many more days this year. There is not much time for congressional Republicans to promote popular legislation as a way of improving their standing -- even if one assumed, contrary to fact, that they could agree on what legislation that would be. Their fate is therefore tied to the president's. If the election is held with Bush holding a 35 percent approval rating, they will lose the House. If Bush rises to 45 percent by the fall, they will do fine. ...
Even if they recover some spirit and energy, Republicans are likely to lose seats this fall. But they have some influence over whether this election is a setback or a rout. It is up to them how they wish to use it.
The GOP blew it's chance on illegal immigration, dealing yet another blow to it's base. They also largely blew it on lobbying reform. They've spent like drunken sailors for the past 6 years. They passed, and President Bush signed, that stupid McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" bill, won't do anything about reducing abortions or ending race and sex quotas (er, "diversity"). On and on.
The only thing saving them is that the Democrats are worse on all of the above issues. They've got no plan, and their leadership is beholden to the Cindy Sheehan left, epitomized by Moveon.org and the Daily Kos.
Can the GOP pull themselves up? The recent changes at the White House are encouraging, as was the victory of John Boehner as majority leader in the House. On the other hand, it all may be too little too late.
The other thing that might save the GOP is what Michael Barone calls "hypothis two". His take is that a reduced turnout by the GOP base might not make that much difference.
Hypothesis Two is one I developed myself, and it's based only on the elections of the last 10 years. In the five House elections from 1996 to 2004, there has been very little variation in the popular vote percentages for both parties. The Republican percentage of the popular vote for the House has fluctuated between 49 and 51 percent, the Democratic percentage between 46 and 48.5 percent.
Barone is a pretty astute observer of politics, and is a veritable walking encyclopaedia of information. We on the right had better hope he's right this time.
Gloom and Doom
Over at National Review's The Corner blog, Jonah Goldberg was all Gloom
I had lunch with another prominent Republican. I asked him if he could remember a time when Republicans were more dispirited. He shrugged and said, "It really is pretty bleak, isn't it." Or words to that effect.
While Ramesh Ponnuru is all Doom
I spoke to a very influential Republican strategist earlier this week, and asked him what he thought the party should do to fix the mess it's in. His answer: "I don't think it's fixable." Republicans are only now as alarmed as they should have been six months ago, when they might have been able to put together an agenda to improve their standing. Now there are too few legislative days left before the election to do that--and it makes more sense for congressmen to spend time campaigning in their districts than for them to increase the number of days in session.
He blames both the White House ("They've known since last September that they needed to put together an agenda and they have failed to do so. Their State of the Union gave us nothing to work on in an election year.") and the Congress ("People believe that all politics is local and you can look at it race by race [and see a good outcome]. That's all horse----."). "So I'm not Mr. Happy, you can say."
No, I'm not giving up. But the first step to recovery is realizing we have a problem.
Posted by Tom at 8:06 AM
April 12, 2006
Trouble in the GOP
I've been putting this off long enough. For some time now I've wanted to do a post on the terrible state of the Republican Party but just haven't gotten around to it.
But then yesterday I saw this posted by George Conway on NRO, and figured it was time to take this issue on
John Fund, after discussing how disgruntled the GOP base may be, has it exactly right: "Republicans have appeared to the world to be as unprincipled and rudderless as the politicians they campaigned against back in 1994. Unless they change course dramatically in the seven months between now and Election Day, they may well find themselves facing the same fate as the Democratic political dinosaurs of that year that they replaced." I'm disgruntled, too, and I'm going to get it all of my chest this morning: I've never voted for a Democrat in a general election in my life, and I don't expect to anytime soon, but it's been impossible for me over the past couple of years to get enthused about the Republican party. I voted for President Bush twice, and contributed to his campaign twice, but held my nose when I did it the second time. I don't consider myself a Republican any longer. Thanks to this Administration and the Republicans in Congress, the Republican Party today is the party of pork-barrel spending, Congressional corruption — and, I know folks on this web site don't want to hear it, but deep down they know it's true — foreign and military policy incompetence. Frankly, speaking of incompetence, I think this Administration is the most politically and substantively inept that the nation has had in over a quarter of a century. The good news about it, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's almost over.
Now, I think Conway goes too far. No doubt we made big mistakes the first 18 months of the war in Iraq. But contrary to what many people seem to think, this is how most wars go. And the notion that we could have had this big grand coalition if only we'd, what? talked to them nicer, well, that's just naive.
Further, Jim Geraghty, also on NRO, asks some relevant questions
Thinking back to the Clinton administration, do we look back fondly at their "foreign and military policy competence" in the way they handled the growing al-Qaeda threat? The cruise missiles fired, once, at the training camps and empty tents? Those decisive, responses to the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, the embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole?
Do we look back fondly at their "foreign and military policy competence" in the way they handled Iraq? The collapse of the U.N. inspections, periodic cruise missile attacks that had little impact, the leaky sanctions that hurt the Iraqis more than the regime and that the world was ready to repeal?
Do we look back fondly at their "foreign and military policy competence" with, say, their approach to China? Loral? Madeline Albright's champagne toast in North Korea to "friendship between our peoples" with Kim Jong Il?
If you're upset with the current Bush administration's stance on illegal immigration, how did you like the Clinton administration's "Citizenship USA" program, unveiled in August 1995, designed to deal with an INS backload that ended up naturalizing 1.1 million immigrants in time for Election Day 1996?
All true. Bill Clinton got lucky. He was president during a "breather" period, similar to the 1920s. We also remember how he handled our presense in Somalia; badly. Remember "Black Hawk Down"? We had trouble rescuing our soldiers because his Secretary of Defense, Les Aspin, refused the military their request for armored vehicles.
But Conway is definately on to something.
Because as everyone knows, the base of the Republican Part is pissed off.
You can hear it on the radio talk shows. Even Sean Hannity, ever the chearleader, expresses lots frustration with the Bush administration over issues such as illegal immigration and out-of-control federal spending.
You can read it in the conservative magazines, such as National Review.
And you can see it in the blogs.
Let's face it, if 9-11 had never happened, and we'd never have invaded Iraq, what has George Bush or the Republicans in congress done to commend them?
They don't have spending under control.
They are completely unwilling to seal our southern border.
They try to sneak an amnesty bill for illegal aliens past us.
They are responsible for McCain-Feingold, that insane and unconstitutional "campaign reform" bill.
We're at crunch time in Iraq, and the question in Washington is not "how are we going to win" but "when will we bring the troops home".
Contrary to what the idiot left would have you believe, there is a great case to be made about Iraq, but the Bush Administration doesn't seem to want to make it, at least not often enough to matter.
Nothing has been done to reign in an out-of-control liberal judiciary.
Bush only appointed Samuel Alito after the right raised high holy hell when he tried to appoint his buddy Harriet Myers.
Nothing has been done that I know off to reduce the insane number of federal regulations that choke our country. Reagan at least attempted to deal with the problem. Now we don't even try.
Nothing has been done to reduce the number of abortions performed in this country.
No new attempt to reestablish welfare reform has been proposed or passed.
Race and sex quotas, which go under the guise of "diversity" and "affirmative action", are still the law of the land.
We can't get meaningful lobbying reform passed even after getting hit over the head with the Abramoff scandal.
We have some incredibly good economic numbers, and yet the Bush administration is almost totally silent about them. Can't blame the media if you don't try.
I could go on, and if I think of more I'll post them.
Yes I know Bush has done some good things in the domestic policy arena. He at least attempted to deal with Social Security, which is more I can say about the ostrich party. And we did let that stupid Brady Bill lapse. But then I am reminded of his prescription drug bill and the education bill that he basically let Ted Kennedy write...and my head hurts again.
It's not enough to say that the Democrats would be worse, although that's certainly true. John Kerry's recent recommendations for dealing with Iraq are a recipe for disaster. Thank heavens he's not president.
But the bottom line is that we are blowing our chance to change this country for the better. We've still got some time left, but we'd better move fast.
The situation may not be as bad as Bruce Bartlett portrays it in his recent book, but it's close.
There have been many times these past few months where I've said to myself "if the GOP loses congress it's their own fault."
With their cowardace over the illegal alien issue (it's not an "immigration problem!) I'm at the point of saying "if they lose congress they'll deserve it."
No, all is not lost. I'm not going to give up and walk away. That solves nothing. No, we must try to engage the Bush Administration and Republicans in congress and try to change them. It might not work, but if we throw up our hands, that definately won't work. It would also be foolish to stay at home next November, or to form a third party. But the current situation is just about intollerable.
Ok I'm done.
October 21, 2005
This is Embarrassing
Just when you thought the situation with Harriet Miers couldn't get any worse, the Republican National Committee sends this out:
An Open Letter to the Women Senators of the U.S. Congress:
We are (Republican) women from across the country. We are lawyers, judges, law professors and elected officials, from many backgrounds, and we are writing to you today to support the nomination of Harriet Miers as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Like each of you, Harriet Miers has a record of firsts:
• First woman to serve as Counsel to the President. In this role, she has served as the top lawyer to the President and the White House.
• First woman elected President of the State Bar of Texas, in 1992.
• First woman to become President of the Dallas Bar Association, in 1985
• First woman hired at Dallas’s Locke Purnell Rain Harrell. In March 1996, her colleagues elected her the first female President of Locke, Purnell, Rain & Harrell, at that time a firm of about 200 lawyers. She was the first woman to lead a Texas firm of that size.
Each of you knows what it takes to achieve these extraordinary accomplishments: it takes brains, courage, tact, and the ability to keep your eye on the ball. These are traits that make for a successful Associate Justice: one who can achieve consensus among her colleagues, and find the common ground that makes for a majority decision.
Look at the many people and organizations that have been impressed by Ms. Miers’ intellect and communications skills. In a distinguished career as a trial lawyer, Ms. Miers has represented clients such as Microsoft, Walt Disney Co. and SunGard Data Systems Inc. These companies had their choice of dozens of lawyers, but chose Ms. Miers. Her peers in the Dallas Bar chose her to lead them, and so did the thousands of attorneys of the State Bar of Texas. She has won the respect and admiration of legislators both in her home state and in Washington.
Make no mistake. We do not argue that Harriet Miers deserves a spot on the Supreme Court because she is female. We do argue that being female has led her to have experiences and insights that add to her qualifications to serve on the Court. Like Justice O’Connor, she has broken ground for women in the legal community, and a new generation of women lawyers has been able to succeed because they have stood on the shoulders of attorneys like her.
Like Justice O’Connor, and many of the other finest justices to serve on the Court, Harriet Miers has real-world political experience. In 1989, she was elected to a two-year term as an at-large candidate on the Dallas City Council. She served as general counsel for the transition team of Governor-elect George W. Bush in 1994, and from 1995 until 2000, she served as Chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, a voluntary public service position she undertook while maintaining her legal practice and other responsibilities. After then-Governor Bush appointed Ms. Miers to a six-year term on the Texas Lottery Commission, she served as a driving force behind its cleanup.
Ms. Miers would come to the Court as have 10 out of the 34 Justices appointed since 1933, including the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the late Justice Byron White—without prior judicial experience, but with a rich background in legal, political and civic life. Harriet Miers deserves the chance to bring her talents to the Court. We urge you to vote “yes” when it her confirmation is brought to the Senate floor.
(the strongest bunch of female legal scholars, law school deans, bar association chairs, and elected officials you can tap—I’d be glad to assist)
Kathryn Jean Lopez posted this on NRO yesterday, and as you may imagine, was utterly disgusted.
Well, so am I. Do I have to point out to my own party that being the first woman anything is not a qualification to sit on the Supreme Court?!?!
Yes I know that some of you point the the paragraph below all the "first" business and say "but it takes 'brains, courage, tact, and the ability to keep your eye on the ball' to achieve those things."
But none of those things, either, are reasons for conservatives to support her for the Supreme Court.
Once again, do I have to point out to my own party that liberals can have "brains, courage, and tact" too? They have certainly kept their "eye on the ball", steadily moving the court to the left for forty-plus years and making sure that key decisions such as Roe and Griswold do not get reversed.
If this letter had come from the DNC we'd be laughing. No, we'd be howling and rolling in the isles. Every right-wing blog would gleefully reprint it and use it as an example of political correctness.
But for it to come from our party is simply embarassing.
July 20, 2005
Tom Tancredo is an Idiot
Representative Tom Tancredo is an idiot. And that's about the nicest thing I can say about him.
Not nice would be to say that he's morally bankrupt. As is anyone who agrees with him that we should "take out" Mecca if the United States is struck by nuclear weapons planted by Islamic terrorists.
Last Friday, Rep Tancredo was interviewed on WFLA-AM in Orlando by talk show host Pat Campbell. Campbell asked him how the US should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.
"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.
"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.
"Yeah," Tancredo responded.
Later, Tancredo tried to explain himself:
The congressman later said he was "just throwing out some ideas" and that an "ultimate threat" might have to be met with an "ultimate response."
Spokesman Will Adams said Sunday the four-term congressman doesn't support threatening holy Islamic sites but that Tancredo was grappling with the hypothetical situation of a terrorist strike deadlier than the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Pathetic. He needs to make a complete apology immediately. Not a Dick Durban "if you were offended" non-apology, but a straight-out "I was wrong and take it all back" apology.
Please do not make a fool of yourself by asking me why what he said was wrong or why he needs to apologize.
Here are some additional thoughts on the matter and reaction from around the Internet
The good news is that most big-name conservative sites that I've visited agree that Tancredo was totally out of line.
Hugh Hewitt has it exactly right:
I want to be very clear on this. No responsible American can endorse the idea that the U.S. is in a war with Islam. That is repugnant and wrong, and bloggers and writers and would-be bloggers and writers have to chose sides on this, especially if you are a center-right blogger. The idea that all of Islam is the problem is a fringe opinion. It cannot be welcomed into mainstream thought because it is factually wrong. If Tancredo's blunder does not offend you, then you do not understand the GWOT.
The folks over at National Review all agree that Tancaredo is an idiot and needs to apologyze. John Podhoretz, writing on the NR blog, however, says that the reaction by some of his readers is "scary":
Whole lotta folks writing in to defend the idea of bombing Mecca in retaliation for bombing here. Comparisons are being made to mutual assured destruction. Please, please, please, my friends, don't give the Left such easy cause to resurface the old charge that conservatives (Tories) form "the stupid party." And yes, no matter how long your e-mails run, the idea is stupid and Tom Tancredo is an idiot for mentioning it and that's all there is to it.
Unfortunately I've seen this sort of reaction on a few smaller conservative blogs sites (i.e. not a big name site), and I'm fairly disgusted.
Look folks, it's one thing to sit around with your buddies and say such things after a few beers. But even then, you should know in your heart of hearts that it's wrong. But to advocate such an action publically and you've lost me. I know, I know, this is harsh talk, but we've got to act responsibly.
However, for those of you lefties who will tell us that Tancredo's remarks are on a parallel with Durbin, forget it. Michelle Malkin cites too many instances if idiotic statements by liberal polticians for me to buy into that one.
June 7, 2005
John Thune Update
Last week I reported that freshman South Dakota Senator John Thune (the guy who beat Tom Daschle, if you're not sure) decided to vote against John Bolton not for anything Bolton may have done, but to protest plans to close Ellsworth Air Force Base base in his state.
At the time I derided Thune for what I believed to be atrocious reasoning. Whatever the situation may be with the air base, to vote against the president and his own party on such an important issue as the Bolton nomination shows at best bad politics and at worst a willingness to sacrifice national security for political gain (votes back home).
R Andrew Newman of National Review provides some additional information
Although it is natural for a state to want to hang on to a military installation with an estimated economic impact of $278 million and an annual payroll of $161 million, local politics cannot stand in the way if national security dictates that the base must close. But, in this case, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission has some legitimate reasons to consider a reprieve for Ellsworth.
The Department of Defense scored bases on a set of criteria that included current and future mission capabilities, geography, cost of operation, environmental impact, and economic impact on surrounding communities. According to the Pentagon report, Dyess Air Force Base in Texas nudged out Ellsworth 56.7 to 50.8 in the scoring.
Thankfully, for Ellsworth supporters, this doesn't appear to be a clear-cut victory for Dyess. Are there really sufficient "operational efficiencies" to warrant moving the 24 B-1Bs south? Cost should be an issue, but not at the sake of national security. The B-1B fleet is currently split between the South Dakota and Texas bases. Do we really want to have the B1-B's at one base? Thune has also questioned why the domestic list of base closures was made before the Quadrennial Defense Review and the restructuring of overseas bases were completed.
Whatever the legitimacy of his cause, Thune should be able to make it without voting against Bolton. If he must send a signal, for heavens sake, pick something less important to the nation and to your party.
May 28, 2005
This Man Should Not be a Senator
If a grown man is going to blubber on the floor of the U.S. Senate it had better be over something more than how he's going to vote on a nominee to the United Nations. It you can stand it yhou can listen to him here.
Senator George Voinovich just about broke out in tears while announcing that he wasn't going to vote for John Bolton. He even managed to bring his children and grandchildren into it.
For heaven's sake, grow up.
(Hat tip Michelle Malkin for the link)
Thune's Weird Linkage
Of much more importance than the emotional distress of Voinovich are Republican defections from the Bolton nomination. Now John Thune, who replaced Tom Dashle as Senator from South Dakota, has announced that he will vote against Bolton.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Thursday that he would vote against the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, hinting his vote is a protest against the Pentagon's recommendation to close Ellsworth Air Force Base.From what I can figure he's voting against Bolton because Ellis Air Force Base is scheduled for closing? I keep rereading the article but can come to no other conclusion.
But he did support his party on the vote that mattered most Thursday.
Republicans needed 60 votes to end the Democratic procedural delays and move to an immediate final vote on Bolton's confirmation. Fifty-six senators - including Thune - voted to end the stalling, four shy of that threshold. Now the final Bolton vote will probably not take place until June.
Thune said Thursday that saving Ellsworth is "inseparable from my work" in the Senate.
"It is part of the fabric of every day of our agenda and the things we are trying to accomplish here," Thune said Thursday. "It's something that has become a great preoccupation of mine now."
Asked whether his opposition to Bolton was because of his qualifications or the base-closing plan, Thune said dryly: "I'm concerned about our diplomatic posture as a nation, and I'm concerned about our defensive posture. These issues are not unrelated."
Thune otherwise would not say why he would vote against Bolton's nomination.
"Everyone has to come to their own decision about it, and that's the decision I have come to," Thune said. "John Bolton is not the best man for this job."
Before the base-closure list was released, in April, Thune said on the MSNBC program "Hardball" that Bolton could be good for the United Nations.
"Folks on our side I don't think have problems with where he is on policy or ideology or the fact that he is taking an approach and a style to the U.N.," Thune said. "That is much needed at the U.N."
If Ellsworth closes, about 3,800 military and civilian jobs will be lost in the Rapid City area.
I checked his web site and can find no information on the matter. As of this writing his last press release was on May 25 and makes no reference to John Bolton. He doesn't want any bases closed, which is unfortunate but predictable.
Ok he're goes: We don't have military bases to serve the economic needs of communities. Many are no doubt obsolete and need to be closed or moved, and doing so would save us much money that we could reinvest elsewhere. Yes I know that Senators have to look after their constituents and no doubt he's received a thousand phone calls begging him to oppose the closings. And yes I know that people will be thrown out of work and all that. And I don't even know the specifics of the situation so can't really say if any one base should or should not be closed. I just wish that these Senators and Representatives would be a little less knee-jerk about these things once in a while.
Bottom Line: If Thune is trying to send a "message" to the administration he's choosing the worst possible way to do it. Well, he's better than Daschle so I should count my blessings.